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Learning the hard way EDITORIAL 12/08/2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Learning the hard way

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Foiled again. But with good reason.

Noynoy Aquino’s Executive Order 1, which created the Truth Commission, has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) majority. That striking down by the high court was generally expected, as Noynoy’s EO 1 was fairly defective in that the body he created had absolutely no powers to even summon — under the pain of contempt — any witnesses, or even the accused.

The better avenue for Noynoy was to get a law crafted by Congress creating the so-called Truth Commission where such powers can be granted by the legislative body.
At that time, Noynoy could have had it passed, considering that he was just starting his presidency, and he had the majority of the Congress behind him.

But that congressional action may not even have survived the constitutionality test, mainly because there were more issues raised by the political opposition in its petition before the high court, which issues posed strong constitutional arguments such as having the focus of the commission solely on the past president’s scandals... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101208com1.html

Delayed snapshot FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 12/08/2010

Delayed snapshot

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Really, what purpose do findings of surveys, taken close to three months ago, serve, especially if such surveys are considered to merely be a “snapshot” of the time the survey was taken?

An October survey of Pulse Asia showed that Noynoy Aquino and Jojo Binay were in a statistical tie (79 percent for Noynoy and 78 percent for Jojo) on approval ratings.

From the time the survey was conducted to today, many incidents have developed and could have changed that snapshot and the percentages — that is if these surveys are even an accurate gauge of the pulse of the nation, which is seriously doubted.

Personally, I don’t buy these surveys, mainly because the questions posed to respondents are much too general and vague, such as “do you approve or disapprove of the performance of, in this case, Aquino and Binay?”

Just what is it that the respondents approve of specifically? What were the particular issues related to approval rating, especially when there has been hardly anything that has been acted upon by the Malacañang occupant? The survey does not even indicate the areas where approval or disapproval can be gauged.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101208com2.html

They are back! C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 12/08/2010

They are back!

Jonathan De la Cruz
We have been receiving reports over the past two weeks that the big time smugglers are back and how! After months of hibernation following P-Noy’s assumption into office, we are told that these people are back with a vengeance. Quite apart from those “intercepted” chicken parts and pig organs and even meat some of which turned out to be botcha (double dead), the latest we heard is that glutinous rice by the hundreds of containers has been unloaded in the ports of Cebu, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro.

In the case of Cebu, we are told that a minimum of 800 containers per week have been regularly unloaded since two weeks ago and set up until middle of January while the two other ports are on a “test” basis of less than a hundred each. All these are supposed to have been worked out on the strength of assurances from up high. How high that cover is has yet to be determined.

Suffice it to say that all the hyperventilated talk about putting a stop to smuggling is just that — talk. With the abolition of the PASG which was billed early on by administration officials as a “notorious gang,” the leeway given to people-in-the-loop (as they have come to be known in customs circles) has been almost complete. And the smuggling has accelerated with the advent of Christmas, so much so that if only Customs Commissioner Alvarez and his staff listen and walk around, they will probably be astounded to find out that even the give-aways they are looking forward to issue to their favorite ninongs and ninangs are — smuggled.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101208com4.html

Burnt Israel forest faces long recovery — experts focus 12/08/2010

Burnt Israel forest faces long recovery — experts

HAIFA — Scorched and blackened areas of Israel’s Mount Carmel forest, razed by the flames of the country’s worst-ever fire, will take decades to return to their once-lush glory, experts say.

The blaze, which began on Dec. 2 and raged for four days, consumed at least 12,000 acres (4,800 hectares) of forest in an area sometimes dubbed “little Switzerland,” destroying an estimated five million trees.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), a state-supported Zionist organization which manages much of Israel’s land, has encouraged Israelis to join efforts to replant the area during a tree festival in January.

JNF chairman Efi Stenzler said the day-long Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat — the “New Year of the Trees” when people traditionally go planting — would be extended for a full week and dedicated to “regreening” the Carmel.

But experts say most of the hard work regenerating the forest will happen naturally, although it is likely to take decades.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101208com5.html

The truth HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 12/08/2010

The truth

Aldrin Cardon
The truth is, we don’t know what the truth is.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson would carry the truth to his grave as he vowed never to surface unless justice is served his way. He wants his name cleared of the double murder charges for the killings of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emanuel Corbito, the last only a collateral damage to a power play among the most powerful lot at the time of his death.

But with Lacson hiding and not facing his accusers, the country is pregnant with speculations, most of which do not favor Lacson.

Did he or did he not? Lacson’s former aides have come out to tell the world the fugitive senator had ordered Dacer killed. But their testimonies were tainted by politics as well, and there is no chance we would hear one which is not besmirched with contending interests.

Now, Lacson is back in the headlines as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wants her law enforcers to tighten the noose on the slippery Lacson.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101208com6.html

Immaculate intentions SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 12/08/2010

Immaculate intentions

Dinah S. Ventura
As Catholics celebrate a holy day of obligation today, the Immaculate Concepcion, we cannot help but reflect on certain, well, “maculate” things — or our tainted record of promoting peace and goodwill among men, as this season forces us to reflect on.

While it is true that efforts to achieve peace, at least for a few weeks, have been made, starting with the ceasefire between government forces and rebel groups from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3, we cannot help but think of how fleeting this is going to be, compared to a lifetime of locking horns on social and political issues.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has made it known recently that he thinks “an end to the armed conflict around the country could lead to the emergence of cities such as General Santos, Cagayan de Oro and Davao City” — cities, which, according to him, “emerged because of a window of opportunity created by a peace accord with the MNLF in 1996.”

Violence in certain parts of the country has indeed slowed or stunted the growth of these areas, and affected the lives of so many families. Clearly, short durations of peace count a lot for those who are caught between the ongoing struggle, but in the larger scheme of things, they are not enough.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101208com7.html

SC strikes down truth body

SC strikes down truth body

By Benjamin B. Pulta


The Supreme Court (SC) majority yesterday voted to declare unconstitutional President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 creating a truth commission which was tasked to investigate anomalies during the Arroyo administration.

“In a vote of 10 to 5, the court voted to declare unconstitutional EO 1 creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010,” acting SC public information chief Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said.

“The majority (ruled that EO 1) violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution inasmuch as it singles out investigation of graft and corrupt practices in the previous administration,” she added.

The Aquino administration through Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz earlier had claimed that extending the scope of investigations indefinitely beyond the Arroyo administration is unrealistic and, as such, a matter of practice an incumbent administration only looks into the dealings of the one which preceded it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101208hed1.html

Grumbling judges no different from protesting students — Palace

Grumbling judges no different from protesting students — Palace

By Aytch de la Cruz


The Palace mocked the wearing of black arm bands by justices throughout the country to protest the huge cuts in the budget for the judiciary and com-pared it with the mass actions of militant college students who are complaining about the slashed allocations for state universities and colleges.

Presidential spokes-man Edwin Lacierda also gave the same reply to protesting judges as the one it issued on pro-testing state-sponsored students.

“There were no cuts in the judiciary budget. This is similar to (argument raised on the issue of the) SUC (budget) that they (students) are claiming that we cut their budget. No, we did not cut the budget of the Supreme Court and other lower courts. Our budget is higher than in 2010,” he claimed.

But later on at the news conference, Lacierda confirmed that the government indeed sought to cut P8-billion out of the P24-billion budget proposed by the judiciary which is intended for personal services because, he said, the nation’s purse cannot afford to allocate that amount for the item..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101208hed2.html

Malacañang rapped on Noy’s amnesty grant, but Senate approves it anyway

Malacañang rapped on Noy’s amnesty grant, but Senate approves it anyway


Malacañang got the nod of the Senate on President Aquino’s grant of amnesty to more than 300 rebels, yesterday, but not without a tongue-lashing from some senators who took note of some legal and other technical issues that put to question the validity of Proclamation No. 75.

Concurrence with the amnesty proclamation, seen to pave the way for the release from the three-year detention of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, saw one of the original sponsors registering an “abstention” after having been named Monday by the Aquino administration as an alleged co-conspirator of the mutineers of the previous government.

Only 14 of the 17 sponsors, in the previous resolution in the Senate asking Malacañang to grant amnesty to rebel soldiers, concurred with Proclamation 75, while Sen. Joker Arroyo was the lone dissenter.

In a surprise move, Sen. Gregorio Honasan cast an abstention vote citing as reason the possible “conflict of interest” saying that he could eventually end up being a “beneficiary” of the amnesty..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101208hed3.html

RP to buy military equipment from China

RP to buy military equipment from China


The Philippines said Tuesday it was set to sign a “substantial” deal to buy military equipment from China, but insisted it should not impact on its close ties with the United States.

The logistics deal is to be signed by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David who left Tuesday for Beijing to meet with senior members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The visit is aimed at “building bridges of goodwill” and to boost defense relations between the Asian nations, Philippine military spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said.

“It would formalize the very good relationship between our countries in terms of exchange of logistics, which the Philippines will be greatly benefiting from,” Mabanta told Agence France Presse..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101208hed4.html

House electoral panel to ask Comelec for vital poll documents

House electoral panel to ask Comelec for vital poll documents

By Gerry Baldo


The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to submit at least 21 controversial poll documents that have been withheld from election watchdog groups.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, committee chairman, however, said they cannot force the Comelec, as a constitutional body, to submit the documents to the committee despite the approval of a motion for the need to get those documents from the Comelec, despite a Supreme Court order for the Comelec to submit not just the source codes but also the pertinent documents.

“We cannot force them to submit those documents,” Barzaga said yesterday, despite the fact that the documents, from any agency of government, can be subpoened by Congress.

Among the documents being requested are: source code walkthrough plan; source code of the PCOS program; source code of the CCS programs; file formats of all data files used or produced by the PCOS program; file formats of all data files used or produced by the CCS program; public keys used by all the PCOS computers; -public keys used by all the CCS computers; user manual of the PCOS program, and user manual of the CCS program..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101208hed5.html

Palace says Lacson mole should be DoJ’s lookout

Palace says Lacson mole should be DoJ’s lookout

By Aytch S. de la Cruz


It behooves the Department of Justice (DoJ) to do something about possible leaks that one of its officials said were likely on the operations the government is supposedly conducting for the capture of fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the Palace indicated yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the possibility of a Lacson mole in the government “should be a cause of concern” as he added that Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III who raised of possibility of somebody leaking the government moves that allowed the senator to evade arrest must do something about it.

“If there is a concern, they should plug the leak. We have no knowledge where that leak is coming from. If the Undersecretary feels that there is some leakage of information then it behooves them to fix that leak and make sure that the efforts to secure Senator Ping Lacson should not be accompanied with leakages,” Lacierda said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101208hed6.html

Philippines skips Nobel rites for China dissident

Philippines skips Nobel rites for China dissident

By Michaela P. del Callar


The Philippines is among the 19 countries skipping the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo, Norway on Friday.

According to the Nobel Committee, 44 embassies have indicated that they will be represented at the ceremony and 19 have declined their invitations “for various reasons.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila confirmed this but declined to state the reason for not sending a representative to the gala.

“We will not attend the event,” said Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya.

However, a senior Philippine diplomat said Manila decided not to attend the event to “avoid” diplomatic fracas with China.

The diplomat said the Philippines “do not want to further annoy China,” which has expressed great disappointment when President Aquino absolved his close aides and several personalities of any accountability and responsibility in the Aug. 23 Manila hostage tragedy that killed eight Hong Kong tourists in a bungled police rescue attempt..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101208nat3.html

AFP declares bid for P3.2-B helicopters a failure


AFP declares bid for P3.2-B helicopters a failure
By Mario J. Mallari


The long-stalled modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) hit another snag after the Department of National Defense (DND) declared as failure the bidding for the P3.2 billion worth of helicopters intended for the Air Force.

At a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, DND spokesman Eduardo Batac said that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has approved the recommendation of the Board of Inquiry (BoI) to declare a failure of bidding for the Air Force’s attack helicopter acquisition project.

“This is pursuant to Section 41 (Reservation Clause) of RA 9184 and other related grounds. Under this, the head of the procuring entity reserves the right to declare a failure of bidding for any reasonable and justifiable ground where the award of the contract will not redound to the benefit of the government,” said Batac.

Batac also said that Gazmin also approved the recommendation of the board to temporarily defer further action on the acquisition of big-ticket items under the AFP Modernization Program, until these issues are presented and acted upon by the Government Policy and Procurement Board..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101208nat1.html

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