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Moving to set dangerous precedents FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 01/07/2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Moving to set dangerous precedents

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Good luck to the Noynoy government, because it will really need all the luck to have the Sandiganbayan overturn the approved plea bargain agreement forged between former military comptroller, Ret. Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia — especially after Garcia had already been arraigned for direct bribery and pleaded guilty to the charge. But who knows?

To overturn the plea bargain would not only mean that he would still be charged with plunder, plus direct bribery but that henceforth, plea bargains, even if already court-approved, cannot be relied on by the accused to be final and executory.

Precedents are birthed that way and such precedents set the tone for future plea bargains that cannot be relied upon by the accused.

At this point and under the atmosphere created by Noynoy and his quarrel with the judiciary, amid strong public perception that he wants not just the high court but also the entire judiciary to bow to him and his wishes, while he punishes them by slashing the judiciary budget for being unable to get the courts to bow to him, overturning the plea bargain would be seen by the general public as a capitulation of the court to the executive power, which will do the court no good, by way of perception. We have had enough of this judicial subservience under the reign of Gloria Arroyo and it really is time for the judiciary to assert its independence..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110107com1.html

Paris ‘Muslim Batman’ angers rightwing US bloggers FEATURE 01/07/2011

Paris ‘Muslim Batman’ angers rightwing US bloggers


PARIS — Batman has battled many enemies but now has to face the anger of rightwing US bloggers furious that the comic book caped crusader has recruited a Muslim to run his crime-fighting franchise in Paris.

“The character’s name is Bilal Asselah and he is an Algerian Sunni Muslim and an immigrant that is physically fit and adept at the gymnastic sport parkour,” wrote Warner Todd Huston on his site Publius Forum.

“Apparently Batman couldn’t find any actual Frenchman to be the ‘French savior,’” wrote the rightwinger, apparently discounting the millions of French citizens of North African descent from his definition of “actual” French.

In the December issues of DC Comics Detective Comics Annual and Batman Annual, the caped crusader decides to set up Batman Inc. and install a superhero in cities around the world to fight crime..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110107com2.html

Out with the old,in with the new NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 01/07/2011

Out with the old,in with the new

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Or so I once said, in Jan. 2, 2007, as columnist of the Lifestyle section of this paper, stressing that the thought pretty much pertained to throwing away old bad habits and old awful experiences of the year just ended, keeping the good forever in our hearts, while looking forward to the best yet to come.

My 2006 went really well, see. My husband Sig and I had two medical tests in New York City and adjudged to be in healthy condition, and while I was by then already using a cane and no longer able to do ballroom dancing, everything else, was fine. Nakakapag-rally pa ako nito, and dapat lang, for even if the “Hello, Garci” recordings were exposed much earlier, in the middle of 2005, there continued to be need for people to express anger out in the streets.

As UP Professor Randy David at that time pointed out in a Concerned Citizens’ Movement forum at the Manila Polo Club, late August of 2006, “To remain quiet is not an option. A quietist attitude rewards thieves, opportunists and dishonest people. Democracy is anything but quiet. The day citizens shut up will be the day they lose their stakes in the nation.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110107com3.html

A duty to disobey DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 01/07/2011

A duty to disobey

Herman Tiu Laurel
Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one.” — Chinese Proverb
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the Bagong Katipuneros are now at least free from imprisonment with complete finality. Despite their admission of having violated certain “rules,” one TV network’s Web report headlined, “No remorse.” Of course there should be no remorse!

At that time in 2003, Trillanes and company marched out of their military camps to make known their stand against the illegality and massive corruption of Gloria Arroyo’s regime as well as the military under her reign. The deaths of soldiers from lack of equipment and dud ammunition directly linked to the thievery of the AFP’s budgets make it a duty of every soldier to conscientiously object to what was going on; but only a select few mustered the courage to say what must be said.

Even today, soldiers around the world who in their conscience cannot accept the impositions of authorities over them exercise such conscientious objections by breaking the rules deliberately, refusing to serve, such as in US Army Lt. Watada’s case, or by taking more drastic moves, such as in US Army Private Bradley Manning’s alleged leak of classified documents and video files to WikiLeaks, which led to his solitary confinement today.

Break the military rules they do but shirk from the consequences they don’t. Senator Trillanes, Gen. Danilo Lim, Col. Ariel Querubin, Capt. Nick Faeldon and many others faced the consequences and paid for their courageous acts with years upon years of unjust imprisonment, loss of career and income, and even emotional upheavals.

Disobedience — in service of one’s conscience and of the greater good of God, country and people — isn’t new. The world has a long glorious history of this, from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King, from George Washington who rebelled against his British superiors down to Hugo Chavez who is now a well-respected leader in the global stage.

At the time Senator Trillanes and the Bagong Katipuneros decided to risk everything on which their families depended, including their lives, the so-called “civil society,” including Yellow critics of Oakwood and subsequent military protests, continued to be in full support of the corrupt Gloria Arroyo. Yellow “icon” Corazon Aquino even staged a special scene for the commemoration of Ninoy Aquino Day (Aug. 21) two months after Oakwood to emphasize the Yellows’ unflinching support for Arroyo, with an inset photo of Cory holding Gloria’s hand on the Aug. 22, 2003 front page of a Yellow broadsheet.

I have this saved because I know I will need to invoke this whenever Yellows such as Christian and Winnie Monsod blame others again for the travails of our society when it is they who persistently sustain the cancers that plague us.

And so it was that by December 2008, Cory apologized both to Erap and the people for her support of Arroyo. In fact, she had already shown remorse even earlier by physically going to the Marines standoff led by Col. Ariel Querubin in 2006. Could the Monsod husband-and-wife team trying to smear the amnesty for all conscientious military objectors — particularly Gen. Danilo Lim who has been at loggerheads with the Monsods over his refusal to express any apology — find the courage to apologize to the nation for their own perfidy?

I hope Gen. Danilo Lim and Capt. Nick Faeldon both apply for the amnesty now that it is clear that no apology is necessary and their years in confinement have sufficiently paid for their “violation of the rules.” We need them to continue serving the people.

This new year and new decade, we must push even harder the campaign for disobedience against the prevailing system to bring about real social change. My philosophy student-son’s La Salle study guide highlights Arnold Toynbee’s conclusion about societal collapse: “The cause of the fall of a civilization occurred when a cultural elite became a parasitic elite, leading to the rise of internal and external proletariats.”

Proletariat in simple terms simply means the alienated employed and unemployed classes who don’t count in social decisions anymore, while the words “elite” and “parasitic” are self explanatory. Today, even our most highly educated are “proletarianized,” like how the top computer experts of UP and other universities who asked to test the source code of the PCOS machines have been given a runaround for a year now by Smartmatic and the Comelec, and this even after the Supreme Court ordered that it be given.

A perfect example of this parasitic behavior is the way the Philippine elite is insatiably extracting the blood from our society dry. In the latest research on 2010 power rates provided by our volunteer Ka Richard from the World Electricity Price Index we have the following data in US dollar terms:

Australia 18.55 cents/kWh; Hong Kong 11.80 cents/kWh; Singapore 17.38 cents/kWh; Turkey18.30 cents/kWh.

Compare all these to the Philippines’ 28.80 US cents/kWh and you’ll definitely seethe in anger. While we’re still updating 2010 prices for other countries, we should note that as of 2009, the Philippines was already at 23.00 US cents/kWh.

So it’s clear that our power rates have risen and continue to rise to breakaway levels as the highest in Asia, if not the world. It is only a matter of time before the VAT rate will be raised anew to 15 (or even 17) percent — this after PeNoy imposes hikes in MRT-LRT fares, the Slex, Nlex, and SCTex toll fees, and water rates, ad nausea.

During the past decade I have made calls for civil disobedience more times than there are fingers and toes on my limbs. We just have to keep on trying. And thanks to Trillanes and Danny Lim, our society is being educated on the dignity and honor of disobeying for the common good.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; TNT with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 8 on “2011: Fears, Tears and Trends” with Dr. Rene Ofreneo and Mr. Butz Junia; visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110107com4.html

Copts feel marginalized in land of ancestors focus 01/07/2011

Copts feel marginalized in land of ancestors


CAIRO — Egypt’s Copts, who celebrate Christmas Eve on Thursday just days after a deadly attack on one of their churches, feel marginalized in a country whose Christian roots date back to the religion’s early days.

The head of the Coptic church, Pope Shenuda III, expressed the despair of his beleaguered people by saying after Saturday’s bombing in Alexandria that “everyone in Egypt must enjoy full rights of citizenship, without discrimination.”

Copts account for up to 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 80 million and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

And Egypt’s Christian past dates back to the first century. Tradition holds that the new faith was brought by the evangelist Saint Mark, himself later martyred by being dragged through the streets of Alexandria with a rope around his neck..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110107com5.html

Named and shamed, but still lording it over Congo FEATURE 01/07/2011

Named and shamed, but still lording it over Congo


UNITED NATIONS — He has been named and shamed by the United Nations, accused of murder, rape and abusing child soldiers in one of Africa’s most merciless war zones, but nothing it seems can stop Innocent Zimurinda.

The feared former Democratic Republic of Congo militia leader remains an army lieutenant colonel in “operational command,” despite having been put on a UN sanctions list one month ago, according to UN officials and rights workers.

Zimurinda is a leading name among rogue army officers who are meant to be extending government control in eastern DR Congo but are instead fighting for its mineral wealth and lumber concessions, according to rights groups.

There are “dozens” with a “horrible track record of human rights abuses who are in top positions in the national army,” according to Anneke Van Woudenberg, an Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch, who checked on Zimurinda’s activities on a recent trip to eastern Congo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110107com6.html

Noynoy: NAIA-3 row to be resolved legally By Aytch S. de la Cruz 01/07/2011


Noynoy: NAIA-3 row to be resolved legally

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 01/07/2011
No out of court settlement on the airport Terminal 3 row appears to be forthcoming, as President Aquino is of the belief that corruption and other irregularities took place in the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3), whose builder was the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco), a consortium with its major German partner, Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport AG).

He also stated that the consortium’s compensation demand is “overpriced” while giving out broad hints that holding dialogs with the Germans, through their ambassador in Manila, is a waste of time, as dialogs apparently were already being held prior to the report of the Washington-based ICSID ad hoc committee which resolved to annul the earlier ICSID ruling that said the panel did not have jurisdiction over the Fraport suit against the Philippine government.

Aquino also said that he prefers to have the NAIA-3 row settled legally, which means a long court case, both here and abroad.

Continuing with the court cases, especially those abroad would entail continued payment of reported exorbitant legal fees charged by both the Philippine lawyers, as well as their American counterparts..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110107hed1.html

Aquino vows Garcia won’t get away with plunder 01/07/2011

Aquino vows Garcia won’t get away with plunder

President Aquino yesterday vowed that former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller, Major Gen. Carlos Garcia, will not get away with plunder in light of the strong and clear arguments presented by his Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz in the motion for intervention filed by his office Wednesday at the Sandiganbayan.

But Cadiz himself told media that his motion to intervene has no chance of success.

Speaking to reporters in a chance interview at the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales, Aquino said they have good chances at obtaining a favorable decision from the Sandiganbayan on their quest to rectify what they deemed irregular in the plea bargain agreement that was approved by the anti-graft court in May last year.

“There are technical aspects (to consider), I understand. But, I think, our Solicitor General presented (the arguments) well, especially in highlighting the fact that there were provisions (violated) and that the SC (Supreme Court) can review the matter. I’ve been told that among others, the consent of the offended party was not sought..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110107hed2.html

DoJ rules PAO chief, deputies lack eligibility By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/07/2011

DoJ rules PAO chief, deputies lack eligibility

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/07/2011

It seems the Aquino administration remains bent on a political cleansing at the judiciary after the top state lawyer and her deputies were recommended terminated for supposedly not being qualified for their posts for lacking CES (Career Executive Service) eligibility according to a ruling of the Department of Justice (DoJ).

The ruling places Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta at a tenuous position after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed the department has issued a legal opinion signed by Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras III, voiding the appointment of Acosta and her deputies.

The opinion said it is “…..declaring the appointment of the Public Attorney’s Office chief and other top officials of PAO “are without merit” because “they do not possess the required CES (career executive service legilibility) right to security of tenure even if it was expressly guaranteed to them by the PAO law,” said the opinion. The PAO is an attached agency of the DoJ that provides indigent litigants free legal assistance..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110107hed3.html

Webb asks SC to drop PAO appeal on Vizconde case By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/07/2011

Webb asks SC to drop PAO appeal on Vizconde case

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/07/2011

Lawyers representing Hubert Webb are asking the Supreme Court (SC) to turn down a motion seeking the reversal of his acquittal in the Vizconde massacre case.

In a pleading filed through his lawyers led by Demetrio Custodio, Webb claimed that the Public Attorney’s Office has no legal authority to file the motion for reconsideration (MR) on behalf of widower Lauro Vizconde since the PAO, an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DoJ) that provides indigent litigants free legal assistance, lacked the power to prosecute a criminal case.

As such, Webb said, the high tribunal should order PAO lawyers who signed the MR to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for filing the pleading “despite knowing that they had no authority to do so.”

A total of 12 PAO lawyers, led by Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda Acosta, assisted Lauro in filing the MR on the Dec. 14 decision of the SC acquitting the suspects in the killings of his wife Estrellita and daughters Carmela and Jennifer in 1991..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110107hed4.html

Noynoy denies election operators to replace exiting Comelec executives 01/07/2011

Noynoy denies election operators to replace exiting Comelec executives

President Aquino yesterday refuted “speculations” circulated by his former colleague, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, that he was eyeing some alleged poll fraud operators as potential successors to outgoing Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo and other retiring commissioners.

Aquino, in a phone interview, clarified that he and the members of his search committee have yet to come up with clear set of nominees for the next Comelec chief.

Neither did Aquino also confirm that former Supreme Court Justices Sixto Brillantes, Leonardo Quisumbing and Eduardo Nachura, said to be retiring this June, have already made it to the shortlist of Melo’s possible replacement as reportedly told by the outgoing Comelec himself.

In fact, he implied, the reason they are not yet disclosing any names as possible candidates for the position is that they are exercising caution..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110107hed5.html

No more public sex on Boracay 01/07/2011

No more public sex on Boracay

Philippine authorities may ban sex on the world-famous beaches of Boracay island after a television crew filmed two naked couples making out in public on New Year’s Day, the local mayor said Thursday.

The clip showed one pair apparently having sex on the beach and the other locked in a passionate kiss in the water, with the woman’s bare breasts clearly shown above the waterline.

The ABS-CBN television network said it filmed the apparently Western couples at 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day following a large beachside party on Boracay to usher in 2011.

“We’re thinking of a ‘no sex on the beach’ (rule) so the other tourists would not be scandalized,” John Yap, mayor of Malay town that has jurisdiction over Boracay, told the TV network in an interview posted on its website this week..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110107hed7.html

Norway to RP: All set for peace talks with Reds By Michaela P. del Callar 01/07/2011

Norway to RP: All set for peace talks with Reds

By Michaela P. del Callar 01/07/2011

Norway has informed the Philippine government that everything is set for the resumption of preliminary talks between the Aquino administration and the National Democratic Front in Oslo next month despite a gunbattle and arrest of a senior communist leader a day after the holiday truce ended on Jan. 4.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles yesterday said the Royal Norwegian Government, the third party facilitator for the talks since 2001, has notified the government that logistical arrangements have been finalized.

“The venue has been reserved so nothing can stop this,” Deles said in a radio interview.

The Maoist insurgent movement, whose membership ballooned to more than 26,000 in the mid-1980s, has dwindled to 5,000 armed members, according to military estimates..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110107nat2.html

Koko Pimentel: No retreat, no surrender 01/07/2011

Koko Pimentel: No retreat, no surrender

Saying that he has been “cheated twice,” lawyer Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, who was edged out of the 12th place in the 2007 senatorial race by Juan Miguel Zubiri, has vowed “no retreat, nor surrender” in his electoral protest.

Represented by his father, former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Koko Pimentel urged in a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed before the Supreme Court on Jan. 3, 2011, the annulment of two resolutions of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) which he claimed violate his rights to due process of law and to the speedy disposition of cases, and that the SET decide on his election protest without any further delay.

Senate Resolution 07-105 dated June 4, 2010 ordered that further proceedings be conducted on the remaining precincts counter-protested by Zubiri, while SET Resolution 07-113 dated Nov. 4, 2010 denied Pimentel’s Motion for Reconsideration of SET Resolution 07-105..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110107nat8.html

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