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Treading on troubled waters EDITORIAL 12/14/2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Treading on troubled waters

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No Philippine military officer is expected to publicly go against a decision made by his Commander in Chief, in this case, Noynoy Aquino, when he openly directed his Justice secretary, Leila de Lima, to withdraw the case against the 43 health workers, dubbed by the media as the “Morong 43.” Neither are the Armed Forces officers and the Philippine National Police officials willingly go public against Noynoy and Malacañang when they say he is open to the grant of amnesty for all political prisoners. For them to do so would translate to their being placed in the freezer, with no promotions in rank, as well as choice command posts, expected for years.

But just because they all state that they will obey the chain of command, hardly means they are happy about such orders and enjoy a high morale today — after such decisions from the Malacañang tenant.

As far as the military is concerned, it arrested the 43 health workers during a raid, armed with a court order from a judge, and allegedly caught them in bomb-making training, apart from their having been in illegal possession of firearms. Whether the claims of innocence of the 43 health workers are true, or conversely, the military’s claims of its having made the arrest following the so-called “rules of engagement” are true, it is better for the courts to decide..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com1.html

Weak leadership FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 12/14/2010

Weak leadership

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
It wasn’t in the national interest to bow to China by toeing its line to have foreign governments boycott the Nobel Peace Prize awarding ceremony, on account of some five Filipino drug mules who have been meted the death sentence. It was weak Philippine leadership that was more behind the boycott.

China is unlike, say, the Muslim countries, where the convicts in death row can easily be set free by its ruling monarchs, or the relatives of the victims’ accepting blood money in return for the Filipinos’ freedom.

Hate Gloria Arroyo all one wants, but the fact remains that it was under her presidency that she personally talked with Muslim leaders to set free detained Filipinos in death row jails in their countries.
Noynoy in his six months of the presidency hardly took notice of the thousands of detained Filipinos, abused OFWs, rape victims and other offenders, but suddenly has a bleeding heart for five Filipino drug mules, in whose freedom rests our national interest — so he falsely claims..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com2.html

In Cancun climate talks, India enjoys place in sun FEATURE 12/14/2010

In Cancun climate talks, India enjoys place in sun


CANCUN — India has emerged as a new global power on climate change, with major nations voicing praise — and surprise — at New Delhi’s agile diplomacy that helped produce a deal in Cancun, Mexico.

Jairam Ramesh, India’s outspoken environment minister, was instrumental in breaking a deadlock over how to verify nations’ climate actions and, for the first time, said that his country would consider a binding deal in the future.

Ramesh told reporters in the Caribbean beach resort that India needed to change with the times as it seeks a greater global role and the world inches toward a new comprehensive agreement on fighting climate change.
“India is moving ahead. India is being progressive. It can only attain global leadership by expanding its negotiating space,” Ramesh said. “A negotiating position must evolve over time.”

Ramesh faced criticism at home, with the political opposition and some environmental activists accusing him of selling out India’s position to please the United States, which has warming relations with New Delhi..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com3.html

Of ORs and Christmas NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 12/14/2010

Of ORs and Christmas

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Ten days to go before Christmas, and most everyone is going crazy with what to get for family and friends. It’s less stressful when one just gives out money, but cash gifts outside of rightfully earned bonuses and 13th month pay make the season so materialistic, I’d really rather plan and shop for gifts for people I love and hold dear to my heart.

Some people are easy to gift, because it takes little to make them happy. My brother, the Senate President, for instance, loves paksiw na bangus garlic and peppercorns and onions and ginger all in, with ampalaya, so year in and year out, that’s just about what I give him and wala naman siyang kasawa-sawa.

Others take to gift-giving naturally, or have fortunately have come up with a present only they make. Like my daughter-in-law Bibeth Orteza, who has been giving bottled Spicy Tuyo in Olive Oil for 19 years now, using a recipe she’s perfected through the years. My grandson Rafa relates how, growing up, he and his older sister Aya would realize Christmas was nigh soon as they’d smell tuyo permeating the household..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com4.html

‘They’ are out to get him AN OUTSIDERS VIEW Ken Fuller 12/14/2010

‘They’ are out to get him

Ken Fuller
Most of us have seen at least one of those movies (usually American) where the protagonist, having stumbled across some top-level conspiracy, is forced underground as “they” (shadowy forces deployed by the state) are, until the final minutes, out to get him. Examples would be Three Days of the Condor (1975) and Enemy of the State (1998). Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, must know how those protagonists feel.

Some of the “revelations” that have surfaced in the 250,000 secret US documents disseminated to selected newspapers by WikiLeaks are not exactly news. For example, Bank of England governor Mervyn King apparently thinks UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his Finance Secretary George Osborne are political lightweights, lacking depth. President Obama, we learn, shares this view of Cameron. And — shock! horror! — it turns out that Prince Andrew, second son of the current British monarch, is a foulmouthed boor who thinks the Serious Fraud Office and investigative journalists do British business a disservice by sniffing around for evidence of corporate corruption..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com5.html

Was VP Binay misled? C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 12/14/2010

Was VP Binay misled?

Jonathan De la Cruz
This is the question being asked by members of the Philippine Association of International Counselors for Education (Paice), some of whom have been the object of illegal searches and even detention by authorities. The latest such illegal action was even undertaken by a team from the so-called Task Force on Illegal Recruitment (TFIR) that was apparently able to convince Vice President Jojo Binay to support its arrest and detention of two British nationals and five fellow staff members of NSN, an educational and immigration documentation and consultancy provider, based in Makati. It appears that the seven were held on charges of illegal recruitment for providing “consultancy services” to nursing graduates who wanted to take advantage of the provisions of the United Kingdom’s Tier4 Category rules (study and work program under the UK Borders and Immigration Rules) allowing the entry of foreign graduates of nursing to pursue further studies in accredited UK schools with a view to qualifying them for full time work and even immigration to the country after. Under this program, the applicants are provided student visas but are allowed under the same initiative to work part time while studying..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com6.html

Kurdish ‘self-determination’ call sparks Iraqi ire focus 12/14/2010

Kurdish ‘self-determination’ call sparks Iraqi ire


BAGHDAD — Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani’s recent call for self-determination for his people has drawn the ire of the country’s Sunni and Shiite Arab leaders, who argue that it presages a break-up of Iraq.

“The right of self-determination is something that concerns people living under occupation, but this is not the case for Kurdistan, which has a special status in Iraq,” said Alia Nusayaf, an MP with the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc.

“It makes me wonder if the Kurds asked for federalism (in Iraq’s constitution) to first form a region and then to separate from Iraq.”

Barzani said at the opening of a week-long congress of his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on Saturday that self-determination was “a right.” He said it would be presented at the meeting “to be studied and discussed.”

His comments mark the first time Barzani has officially presented the issue to the KDP’s congress, with the proposal set for a vote during the meeting..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101214com7.html

Noy slams Nobel boycott critics By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Michaela P. del Callar 12/14/2010


Noy slams Nobel boycott critics

By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Michaela P. del Callar 12/14/2010

Forget his inaugural claim that the Filipinos are his boss. They aren’t and never were, as President Aquino yesterday made it clear that it is not the call of the people — referring to his critics who flailed him for bowing to China’s call for a boycott of the Nobel Peace Prize awards, which stemmed from the Nobel organizers giving jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao the Nobel prize — but his, as it is he who decides for the country — not the Filipino people.

Aquino yesterday blasted various human rights groups that keep criticizing his judgment to kowtow to China on the issue of the Nobel Peace Prize boycott, saying “it is not their call to make decisions” for the country but his.

Aquino reiterated that his move to boycott the is part of his administration’s efforts to repair the strained relations it had with China after the Aug. 23 hostage crisis in Manila and to spare the lives of five Filipinos that have been dealt the death sentence in Beijing for drug-related charges.

“My interest has to be first with the Filipinos. I think nobody will begrudge me if we consider other nationalities as (being a) secondary interest. I did swear to an oath to defend and safeguard all Filipinos everywhere. I prioritized the Philippines. If that is a sin then I am willing to commit that sin over and over again,” Aquino told reporters in a chance interview at Malacañang..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101214hed1.html

Palace eyes PCGG as option vs Gloria By Aytch S. de la Cruz 12/14/2010

Palace eyes PCGG as option vs Gloria

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 12/14/2010

To go around legal tangles plaguing the half-baked Philippine Truth Commission (PTC), after the Supreme Court thumbed down Executive Order (EO) 1 that created it, the Palace is now considering tapping the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) created by former President Corazon Aquino, the current President’s mother, to lodge graft cases against former President Arroyo.

Graft and corruption allegations against Arroyo can be investigated by the PCGG as an option to pursue cases against the previous administration, Aquino’s adviser for special concerns, Magdangal Elma, who previously worked as chief legal counsel for his mother, said.

In a four-page document given to reporters detailing his recommendations, Elma said the PCGG may take up prospective functions of the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) after the Supreme Court struck down EO1, creating the body, on grounds that it violated the equal protection clause granted by the 1987 Constitution.

“The PCGG was charged with the task of assisting former President Aquino not only in the recovery of ill-gotten or unexplained wealth accumulated by former President (Ferdinand Marcos), his immediate family, relatives, subordinates, and close associates but also in the investigation of such cases of graft and corruption as the President may assign to the Commission from time to time and to prevent a repetition of the same in the future,” Elma cited in his proposal, putting great emphasis on the last phrase of the sentence..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101214hed2.html

Morong 43’s burden to prove military abuses — Palace By Aytch S. de la Cruz 12/14/2010

Morong 43’s burden to prove military abuses — Palace

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 12/14/2010

Malacañang yesterday made an assumption that the burden is on the part of the 43 health workers who are reportedly bent on pursuing rights abuse charges against the military after President Aquino ordered the Department of Justice (DoJ) to withdraw the information against them last week.

Aquino, in a chance interview with reporters, stated that the challenge is up to the health workers concerned, known as the Morong 43, to prove that there was indeed a malicious intent when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and some Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel served the defective warrants against them last February.

The Chief Executive earlier noted that the AFP and PNP officers who were involved in that incident have already explained to him that they were just performing their functions during that time.

“I assume that they (AFP) believe — they also had PNP personnel with them — that they were correct in serving the warrant. So, I guess, the intention to violate the laws was not clear.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101214hed3.html

Bicam passes budget, transparency junked By Angie M. Rosales 12/14/2010

Bicam passes budget, transparency junked

By Angie M. Rosales 12/14/2010

The Senate last night ratified the P1.645 trillion national budget for next year, with the two Houses of Congress among those receiving the biggest increases by as much as P935 million via budget insertions.

Opposition members in the bicameral committee com-plained of a lack of trans-parency, saying that the majority merely asked them to sign and pass the budget without any discussions among the bicam members.

The judiciary, which had been pressing for at least a P3 billion increase, has been appropriated with P13.6 billion which was the amount recommended by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Judges have been protesting the budget cut for the judiciary, saying that their allowances and pay since 2007 have not been paid as yet.

But their protests fell on Malacañang’s deaf ears.

“We again would emphasize that we have basically followed the President’s budget. This is the first budget of President Aquino and we are making this approval in the hope that the present administration would carry out the programs as outlined in their budget..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101214hed4.html

Agra think tank: Malacañang attacks on SC to erode trust in justice system By Benjamin B. Pulta 12/14/2010

Agra think tank: Malacañang attacks on SC to erode trust in justice system

By Benjamin B. Pulta 12/14/2010

A private lawyers’ group that serves as a think tank which is headed by former Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra has cautioned Malacañang against “waging war” on the Supreme Court (SC).

“Attacks on the judiciary can result in two distinct yet related undesirable consequences. First, the criticism will prevent judges from remaining insulated from the personal and political consequences of making an unpopular decision, thus placing judicial independence at risk,” the group, Forensic Law and Policy Strategies Inc. (Forensic Solutions) said, adding that “imprudent and cavalier criticism against the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, is a serious threat to the independence of the judiciary. Making statements that bring discredit to the Court smacks of arrogance and disrespect.”

Justice chief Leila de Lima and Solicitor General Anselmo Cadiz imputed politics behind the ruling of the high court striking down President Aquino’s EO1, with De Lima commenting that the political investment made
by the previous president on the high court justices is paying off, while Cadiz said the decision stemmed from the justices’ political gratitude to former President Gloria Arroyo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101214hed5.html

Senate OKs Jinggoy’s bill on DH’s salary rise 12/14/2010

Senate OKs Jinggoy’s bill on DH’s salary rise

The Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 78 which will increase the minimum wage of house helpers or “kasambahays” and will provide them with additional benefits.

Introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Bill 78, otherwise known as the “Act of Providing for Additional Benefits and Protection to House Helpers,” requires employers to pay a minimum wage of at least P2,500 to house helpers within Metro Manila, at least P2,000 for those in chartered cities and first class municipalities, and at least P1,500 for those working in third class municipalities.

Under the measure, Estrada said employers are mandated to shoulder the premiums for their house helpers’ benefits in the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Home Development Mutual Fund or PagIBIG and the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC).

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, said that it was “high time that kasambahays are given the recognition that they duly deserve..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101214hed6.html

Pirates seize 24 Filipino crew on board cargo ship By Michaela P. del Callar 12/14/2010

Pirates seize 24 Filipino crew on board cargo ship

By Michaela P. del Callar 12/14/2010

Another batch of 24 Filipino crewmen of a Liberian-owned bulk cargo vessel were seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean over the weekend, the European Union Naval Force said yesterday.

They were taken hostage on the same day when 19 Filipino seamen of a Greek vessel, who were held captives for seven months off Somali waters, were freed.

“In the early hours of Dec. 11, the MV Renuar was pirated in the Indian Ocean, approximately 1,050 nautical miles east of the Somali coastal village of Eyl and a distance of 550 nautical miles from the coast of India,” the EUNAVFOR said on its Web site.

From 82, the number of Filipino hostages in Somalia has gone up to 106.

The attack was launched from two attack skiffs, supported by a mother ship, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101214nat1.html

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