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Penchant for cosmetic changes EDITORIAL 11/20/2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Penchant for cosmetic changes

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They had the country’s initials RP changed to Phl or PH whatever is deemed appropriate, no different from just the other day when Wow Philippines was revised to Pilipinas kay Ganda!, something which is so drab that somebody needed to attach a porn link to its Web site to make it interesting.

Prior to these nonsensical changes, Noynoy said he preferred people calling him P-Noy that many thought referred to a poor man’s delicacy made out of duck’s egg. The long known Office of the Press Secretary was mangled into two, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office and the Presidential Communications Group, which despite the overstaffing, with now three official spokesmen of Cabinet rank for the President, were all devoted to arguing with bloggers.

Despite the too many heads in the communications group, for instance, nobody thought of negotiating for the rights on the coverage of the Asian games proceedings which for the first time in so many holdings of the event will not be seen by Filipinos to know how the country’s bets are doing.

The pretentious air in Noynoy and the self-righteous members of the civil socialites around him was what set off Sen. Miriam Santiago the other day in a deliberation of the Commission on Appointments (CA)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101120com1.html

False calls for justice FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 11/20/2010

False calls for justice

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
As things stand in the Maguindanao Massacre case, even as many —especially the journalists, whose 37 members were slaughtered — call for a live televised trial, the case has already become a trial and conviction by publicity which, under a democratic system, proves unfair to the accused, guilty or not, since due process is denied the accused.

The massacre victims’ relatives, as well as journalists’ groups, have been calling for a live televised trial of the case, arguing that the people should be given the chance to watch live on TV or hear over radio the ongoing trial of the accused.

Noynoy Aquino, perhaps to score media points, also gave this argument, adding that giving the people the opportunity to watch the trial would result in past mistakes not being repeated.

The Palace was reportedly readying a formal letter to the high court seeking a reversal of the high court’s ruling that banned the trial proceedings of former President Joseph Estrada from being aired live..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101120com2.html

Nationality is meaningless, says ‘missing’ Bosnian girl FEATURE 11/20/2010

Nationality is meaningless, says ‘missing’ Bosnian girl


SARAJEVO — Mila Jankovic was 17 years old when life as she knew it changed forever. She discovered that everything she thought she understood about herself was wrong — and it made her want to die.

Raised in Belgrade as a Serb girl since the early 1990s, Mila — whose name means sweet or kind — was told she was really Senida Becirovic, a Muslim girl born in eastern Bosnia who had been reported missing since the start of Bosnia’s bloody 1992-95 war that pitted Serbs, Muslims and Croats against each other.
She had always known she was a foster child, but the reality of her origins came as a shock when she finally met her biological father.

“My father Muhamed came and told me my real name, that I was not Mila, that I am Senida,” the girl told AFP, recalling the episode in 2008.

Like many foster children, when Mila hit 16 she had one burning question: “I want to know who I am.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101120com3.html

Child Rights Advocates Bewail Distortion of Child Protection Principles for Counter-Insurgency

 Child Rights Advocates Bewail Distortion of Child Protection Principles for Counter-Insurgency

Children have been suffering the brunt of military operations along with their elders, but whereas before they were considered as “collateral damages,” since 2007, most children being encountered by the military in operations are being labeled as “child combatants.”

MANILA — When the Philippine military fired at and killed unarmed civilians including a renowned botanist last week in Kananga, Leyte, they issued afterward what critics say has become the army’s staple excuse for such carnage: The victims are members of New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

This tragedy follows a trend of ‘shoot/attack first, justify later. The victims of rights violations would be labeled as NPA guerrillas anyway. Worse, according to the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), this practice is being used against a growing list of children victims of military operations.

More children, some as young as three years old, are being labeled as NPA guerrillas after being apprehended, questioned, detained or fired at.

Less Collateral Damages As More Victims of AFP Become “NPAs” 

Children have been suffering the brunt of military operations along with their elders, but whereas before they were considered as “collateral damages,” since 2007, most children being encountered by the military in sites of their operations are being labeled as “child combatants.” According to various documentation reports of the CRC and of another child-rights advocate group Salinlahi, this practice did not cease after former President Arroyo vacated Malacañang.

Early this year, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan asked the military to “keep their hands off the children.” Reports gathered by CRC and Salinlahi from highly militarized regions and provinces reveal disturbing cases of torture of children, and use of children as shields and guides in hunting down NPAs. Bulatlat also received reports from the Batangas chapter of Karapatan about the forcible recruitment of minors to the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit).

According to anecdotes separately shared by human rights defenders from different areas to CRC, the military also conducts house-to-house and school-to-school visits to question the people and the students about NPAs. In high schools and colleges, the military is reportedly recruiting students to its intelligence network to inform the military about members and leaders of progressive youth groups such as the LFS, for instance. The soldiers reportedly told students that organizations like these are “fronts” of the NPAs and their activities should be reported to the military.

AFP Accused of Distorting Agreements for Child Protection
An international optional protocol for protecting children involved in armed conflict, crafted in 2007 and dubbed as the Paris Principle, has not helped but instead seemed to have been used to make Filipino children more vulnerable to human rights violations, the CRC complained in Filipino in an interview. The Paris Principle, they said, “is not as suited to protecting children in Philippine conditions as the other conditions on which the UNICEF had based the Paris Principle.”

Worse, the CRC accuses the Philippine military of distorting the intent of the international children’s protection principle to suit its counter-insurgency operations and violate human and children’s rights in the process.....MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/11/20/child-rights-advocates-bewail-distortion-of-child-protection-principles-for-counter-insurgency/

Six Years Since the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, Six Years of Injustice

Six Years Since the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, Six Years of Injustice

“Land reform is a question of social justice. It is at the heart of the conflict in Luisita.” – Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

HACIENDA LUISITA, Tarlac – To date, no one has been held accountable for the November 16, 2004 massacre that claimed the lives of seven farm workers at the picket line of Hacienda Luisita’s Gate 1 over six years ago.

“This is characteristic of the justice system in this country. Come to think of it, has a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the police and influential families ever been sent to jail?” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano told Bulatlat during the commemoration of the massacre last November 16.

More than 5,000 peasant workers of Hacienda Luisita went on strike on November 6, 2004, demanding the reinstatement of 327 farm workers who were laid off by the HLI management. Ten days later, an armed personnel carrier of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) rammed through the picket line, then soldiers, police officers, and reportedly some private security guards of the hacienda, fired at the strikers killing seven farm workers and residents of the Hacienda Luisita and wounding more than a hundred. Six more were reportedly killed but the bodies were never found. Union leaders could not identify them as they were seasonal workers, more commonly known as the ‘sacadas.’

The military claimed that the violence occurred because they were provoked by the striking farm workers. A report prepared by the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed that the “initial burst of gunfire, single shots in succession, came from the ranks of the striking workers after they crossed the gate and invaded the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) compound.”

Contingents from Metro Manila having lunch at the Luisita Park, before continuing their caravan to HLI’s Gate 1(Photo by Ron de Vera / bulatlat.com)
Aquino, who was then the district representative of Tarlac, defended the dispersal, saying that the police and soldiers were “subjected to sniper fire coming from an adjacent barangay (village).”

The PNP’s report also claimed that there was evidence that “confirms the presence and participation of the NPA (New People’s Army) in the strike,” where 100 police and soldiers were allegedly injured. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Mariano, however, doubts that the strike was infiltrated by the NPA, saying that this was just an excuse of the military and the Cojuanco-Aquino family to avoid being held accountable for the crime..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/11/20/six-years-since-the-hacienda-luisita-massacre-six-years-of-injustice/

Journalists Commemorate First Anniversary of Ampatuan Massacre with Reminders, Call for Justice

Journalists Commemorate First Anniversary of Ampatuan Massacre with Reminders, Call for Justice

“The activities are meant to enhance public awareness on the Ampatuan massacre and on impunity,” CMFR deputy director and former dean of the UP-CMC Luis Teodoro said in a press conference Nov. 16.
MANILA — Various media organizations have geared up to mark the first anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre on Nov. 23.

On Nov. 23, 2009, 57 persons, including the wife and relatives of Toto Mangudadatu, the political rival of the Ampatuan clan, were killed allegedly by the private army of the Ampatuan clan in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao. Thirty-one journalists were among the dead and one of them remains missing.

The November 23 Movement , a loose coalition of media groups calling for justice for victims, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP),the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) have lined up activities leading to the Ampatuan massacre’s first anniversary.

On the day itself, relatives of victims and journalists would have a motorcade from General Santos to the massacre site in sitio (subvillage) Masalay, barangay (village) Salman, Ampatuan town. An interfaith ceremony would be held. Fifty-eight trees would also be planted.

In Manila, the highlight of the commemoration would be a torch parade toward the foot of Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge, a few steps away from Malacanang palace. Delegates of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and other international media groups would join the protest.

CMFR who heads the secretariat, brought the meeting of the SEAPA in Manila to keep the Ampatuan massacre alive in the minds of foreign journalists, particularly those in Southeast Asia. Participants to the Journalism Asia, an annual publication, would also join the protest on Nov. 23.

“The activities are meant to enhance public awareness on the Ampatuan massacre and on impunity,” CMFR deputy director and former dean of the UP-CMC Luis Teodoro said in a press conference Nov. 16.

A journalist signs the tarpaulin calling for justice for Ampatuan massacre victims. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
Meanwhile, members of the UP-CMC community would unveil a marker dubbed “Pananda ng Pag-alala at Paglaban,” according to Danilo Arao, UP journalism professor. “The struggle against the culture of impunity that persists in Philippine society should continue,” Arao said.
The UP’s Carillon would play “Bayan Ko” 58 times, corresponding to the number of victims, as a reminder of the tragedy, Arao added. After a march around the oval and a short program at the Quezon Hall, members of the UP CMC would join journalists and other sectors in the march protest..... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/11/18/journalists-commemorate-first-anniversary-of-ampatuan-massacre-with-reminders-call-for-justice/

PPP: More Public Debt, Less Government Responsibility

PPP: More Public Debt, Less Government Responsibility

Published on November 18, 2010

Experiences show PPPs did not guarantee savings for the government but even bloated the public debt. And it can only get worse under the Aquino government’s new schemes for more of PPPs.

Manila – Aside from further bloating the debt burden, Aquino’s PPP thrust will also facilitate increased corporate takeover of government roles and at the expense of public interest

On November 17-19, Malacañang will host a major event called “Infrastructure Philippines 2010” or what is referred to in the media as the public-private partnership (PPP) summit. This is an important summit for President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who has made PPP the centerpiece of his administration’s development plan.

According to its website, the summit “will examine investment opportunities, profiles of PPP projects in the Philippines, as well as policy, regulatory, and legal concerns in developing the infrastructure sector in the Philippines”.
Apologists of neoliberal globalization argue that while the corporations and banks will profit from PPP projects, they will in return finance and build much-needed infrastructure, which the cash-strapped government cannot afford. Aside from reaping the gains brought about by more infrastructures, the people will also supposedly benefit from improved government services since limited public resources will now be more focused on the provision of social services.

But are PPP projects, just like in any partnership, a mutually beneficial setup?

At no cost?

With a population of more than 94 million and growing, and a government that is facing a record fiscal deficit of Php325 billion by yearend, the Aquino administration claims that there is no viable way to meet the tremendous and increasing need for infrastructure in the country other than the PPP route.

Meanwhile, compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors that are spending on infrastructure an average of 5% of gross domestic product (GDP), the Philippines is only spending 3 percent..... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/11/18/ppp-more-public-debt-less-govt-responsibility/

SC issues Kalikasan writ, bars FPIC pipeline By Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales 11/20/2010


SC issues Kalikasan writ, bars FPIC pipeline

By Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales 11/20/2010

A writ of kalikasan (nature), the first legal order of such kind, was issued by the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday effectively stopping the operations of the entire defective 40-year-old pipeline that transports fuel from Batangas to Manila.

The high court granted a plea by residents of a West Tower Condominium building in Makati who were displaced as a result of leaks in the pipeline being operated by the Lopez-owned First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC).

In the writ with temporary environmental protection order, 46 respondents mostly officials of FPIC and the company’s parent First Gen Corp. were ordered to “cease and desit from operating the pipeline until further orders from the court”.

The writ signed by clerk of court Enrique Vidal was issued through the authority of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the order said.

The respondents were also ordered to make “a verified return” of the writ before the SC within a non-extendible period of ten days..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101120hed1.html

Media groups, victims’ kin urge SC okay of live trial By Benjamin B. Pulta 11/20/2010

Media groups, victims’ kin urge SC okay of live trial

By Benjamin B. Pulta 11/20/2010
Media groups and families of the Maguindanao massacre victims lodged a petition yesterday before the Supreme Court (SC) to allow the live coverage of the trial of the worst political killing in the country that claimed the lives of 57 persons.

Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon who is a key member of the prosecution panel handling the murders, however, expressed concern that live television coverage may result in “unduly exposing witnesses to risks.”

SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the concern is among the matters to be considered by the court since “witnesses in general must be prevented from hearing the testimony of other witnesses.”

In a 96-page petition, petitioners led by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), urged the High Court to set aside its earlier ruling barring live media broadcast of court hearings.

The newsmen claimed the prohibition violates the constitution and restricts rights..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101120hed2.html

Dalai Lama saves Noynoy men from Miriam’s wrath By Angie M. Rosales and Aytch S. de la Cruz 11/20/2010

Dalai Lama saves Noynoy men from Miriam’s wrath

By Angie M. Rosales and Aytch S. de la Cruz 11/20/2010

President Aquino’s Cabinet officials who will hurdle the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) may need to pay homage to the Dalai Lama.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who earlier had threatened a massacre of President Aquino’s lightweight Cabinet has softened her stance in blocking the confirmation of some officials, saying she has decided to heed the advice of Dalai Lama about “compas-sion” on her threat to invoke the one-person veto in the CA.

Santiago said she learned the virtue of compassion in Tibetan Buddhism, after meeting the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled religious leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, last year in Rome and sometime early this month in New Delhi.

The senator emphasized that she is bound by the Buddhist virtues of compassion, peace, and non-violence, but she will press for the rule of law.

The Palace, however, is brimming with confidence over Cabinet appointees hurdlingthe powerful CA that indicated yesterday the question of reappointment or the use of a “two-strike” policy on those to be bypassed had yet to cross Aquino’s mind..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101120hed3.html

Palace firm on RH stand; ground rules for dialogs set 11/20/2010

Palace firm on RH stand; ground rules for dialogs set

Malacañang apparently went by the same position taken by the Senate as it categorically distanced itself off the gaping issue on Reproductive Health (RH) bill during a brief meeting they held with some members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday.

Shortly after attending the meeting, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda relayed to reporters that “nothing substantive was discussed” with respect to both parties’ concerns on the RH bill and what the side of the government only did was to reiterate President Aquino’s position on responsible parenthood.

This is actually the second discussion held by Malacañang with the Church leaders since the resurgence of debates on the RH bill several weeks ago following Aquino’s public admission that his government will support artificial family planning methods.

Lacierda said they have categorically informed the CBCP representatives that the RH bill is in the ambit of the legislative department’s jurisdiction, short of saying that Malacañang will no longer touch on the matter..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101120hed4.html

RP abstains from UN voting over Myanmar rights record By Michaela P. del Callar 11/20/2010

RP abstains from UN voting over Myanmar rights record

By Michaela P. del Callar 11/20/2010
Although considered one of the harshest critics and bashers of Myanmar in Asia, the Philippines has abstained from a United Nations resolution vote condemning the dismal human rights record of the military-ruled country.

While it reiterated its call for continued democratic and human rights reform in Myanmar, the Philip-pines said it abs-tained because it “does not, as a general rule, support country-specific resolutions,” adding that “current efforts relating to human rights in Myanmar can and are bearing fruit.”

“While we have abstained on the vote on this resolution, the Philippine position has always been clear and consistent: the Myanmar govern-ment must stand by its commitment to its people for full democratization in the country,” said Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative Carlos Sorreta in his statement before the UN.

Speaking before the Third Committee, in charge of social, humanitarian and cultural issues, of the UN General Assembly, Sorreta welcomed the release of democracy leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi but emphasized her release “should merely be the first step and should be promptly followed by other measures.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101120hed5.html

Australia grants P720M for climate preparedness By Michaela P. del Callar 11/20/2010

Australia grants P720M for climate preparedness

By Michaela P. del Callar 11/20/2010

The Australian government will provide P720 million to the Philippines to help improve the country’s capacity to adapt to climate change and bolster its disaster preparedness programs.

In the next three years, the Philippines will receive P360 million or about A$9 million to assess the country’s vulnerability to disasters through preventive planning and action.

The Australian government, through the Australian Agency for International Development and Geoscience Australia (AAIDGA), will work closely with the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and technical agencies, such as the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NMRIA), and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on these projects.

Australia has also committed P260 million or A$6.5 million to help the Philippines generate digital information and maps for Metro Manila through a survey using state-of-the-art Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101120nat2.html

RP gov’t on alert amid bird flu scare 11/20/2010

RP gov’t on alert amid bird flu scare

Authorities yesterday stepped up airport health checks in light of another case of human avian influenza in Hong Kong.

Doctors from the Department of Health (DoH) and quarantine bureau have been dispatched to man thermal scanners at the international arrivals section, Manila International Airport Authority chief Jose Angel Honrado said.

“We are prepared to address this potential threat,” he told reporters. “We are not taking any chances.”

There are an estimated 250,000 Filipino workers in Hong Kong and many of them are expected to fly home during the Christmas holidays.

Eric Tayag, head of the National Epidemiology Center, said the Departments of Health, Environment and Agriculture had been monitoring the Hong Kong situation and had contingency measures in place..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101120hed6.html

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