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The SDA and the Cha-cha bailarinas DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 01/21/2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

The SDA and the Cha-cha bailarinas

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
01/21/2011
Congress wants to do the Cha-cha (Charter change) again. But beyond the timing, semantics, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s histrionics lies the real simple reason for the hype over this new dance session. Money, or the country’s alleged lack of it, as well as the claimed need to attract foreign money by opening up to foreigners ownership of land and other businesses previously limited to Filipino nationals — supposedly for investment in social, governmental, and physical infrastructure, from the oft-repeated mantra by the likes of Enrile, Escudero, Santiago or Evardone, Haresco, Romualdo, Remulla, and Gonzales.

What many of them seem to forget is that this is nothing but a reversal of the nation’s stellar Filipinization victories in the past such as the “Retail Trade Nationalization Law” and the vigorous campaign to end “Parity Rights.”

Senate President Enrile says he is strongly for amending the economic provisions of the Charter, particularly on changing the provision on the percentage of foreign investments in local projects, saying: “How can we have a meaningful investment policy if we are giving protection only to the rich? Only they are allowed to have 60 percent share in mining, agriculture, aquaculture, and transportation. Everything is 60 percent.” Well, he’s dead wrong.

On the other hand, administration ally Sen. Francis Escudero, in saying that Charter change should be initiated within the first two years of Aquino III when PeNoy’s “trust” rating is still high, simply states that it isn’t the validity of any argument for Cha-cha that matters but the manipulative opportunity to bank on the people’s trust for something they may not approve. But honestly, won’t this trust wear off, especially given that more MRT-LRT, toll, power and water rate hikes loom in the horizon?

The argument that Cha-cha is necessary to increase the “percentage of foreign investments in local projects,” i.e. to attract foreign monies, collapses in the face of headlines that have persistently appeared in the financial and business pages of Philippine newspapers: “SDA funds parked in BSP vault reach P1.22 trillion.”

The SDA is the Special Deposit Account with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) consisting of bank reserve requirements, investments, and such instruments set up in 1998 to serve as a “toolkit” of the BSP to manage the country’s financial environment. The sum of P1.22 trillion is almost $28 billion, an amount that exceeds all the funding requirements for PeNoy’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects for all of the next six years. The National Economic Development Authority (Neda) estimates the 10 PPP projects for 2011 to be worth only P170 billion, and Budget Secretary Abad himself said that government was only “looking forward to generating P180 billion to P200 billion worth of PPP undertakings“ this year.

The real motivation for Cha-cha in changing the economic provisions has been in the shadows for the past two decades. This motive is expressed coyly in the words of party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco (from a group deceptively named, Kasangga). In arguing for Cha-cha, Haresco pointed out that “China, which zealously guards its sovereignty, grants investors a 99-year lease on land, which is tantamount to total ownership.”

So the real reason behind this persistent revival of Cha-cha is nothing but the economic sell-out of the entitlements of Filipino citizenship and the affirmative, preferential treatment of Filipinos in their ownership of the national patrimony. The thing with these legislators is, with the removal of existing limitations on foreign ownership and with the expected windfall of funds, the first to taste the bonanza would be these super rich landowners.

That there is more than sufficient internal capital to fund any economic recovery is incontrovertible after reading about the buck-passing of the BSP and the local banking cabal. For instance, last Sept. 3, 2010, it was reported that “Banks (were) urged to fund infra projects… (using their deposits) with the special deposit account facility of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas… (adding that banks) can use some of these idle funds to help finance the government’s infrastructure projects.” Meanwhile, last Nov., 17, 2010, the “BSP (in turn, was) urged to lower interest rates on (the SDA) facility… to move against the tide and reduce interest rates.” Congress should be looking into this before opening the flood gates of the country to more foreign ownership of land, businesses (including media), and our lives.

As for the argument that foreigners can’t cart away the land, these Cha-cha instigators should first review the experience of Zimbabwe and other countries where natives were eventually dispossessed of all their land rights that they had to launch their own revolutions to reclaim these. As for the rest, all other arguments for Cha-cha are either minor accompaniments or outright distractions, such as “constructive resignation” Justice Reynato Puno’s lament about the Constitution’s imperfections and the need for constant amendments — because following his logic dictates that we must have a permanent Cha-cha every so often. The US Constitution, for one, has only been amended over 27 times in the last 201 years.

Certainly, of the four Philippine Constitutions since the First Republic, the worst has been the Cory Constitution. But if amendments are needed, let them be carried out by particular propositions submitted directly to the people for ratification; not the kind of “shotgun” or bailarinas’ Cha-cha of the elite corrupt nomenklatura.

Having divulged the long-kept secret that a P1.22-trillion or $28-billion SDA is lying idle in the BSP vaults which the government and the banking cabal refuse to utilize in order to maintain easy income from high interest rates while kowtowing to the impositions of the foreign financial mafia, we have exposed the total paucity of the argument for Cha-cha to remove limitations on the onslaught of foreign predators. We have also exposed the self-interest of the landowning class to multiply their wealth even if this ultimately robs a majority of Filipinos the opportunity to own a piece of land in their own country.

(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 GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; 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/20110121com5.html

Tunisian army emerges strong from people’s revolt focus 01/21/2011

Tunisian army emerges strong from people’s revolt

focus

01/21/2011
TUNIS — Tunisia’s army has emerged from the month of unrest that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali with its reputation burnished and the population full of praise after it refused to open fire on protesters.

The army’s reported resistance to Ben Ali’s orders to fire on the protesters is also credited with prompting his decision to flee on Friday, ending 23 years of authoritarian rule with an escape to Saudi Arabia.

“The national army did not betray the people and the nation,” said one of the many with new pride for the military, theater critic Ahmed El Hadek El Orf.

“And it is the first time that I have used the word ‘national’ for the army,” he said.

“Other than the fact that the army was reluctant to take part in the repression, it showed that it did not want to become mixed up in political games,” unionist Chedli Laajimi said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110121com6.html

Fakes trouble India’s booming art market FEATURE 01/21/2011

Fakes trouble India’s booming art market

FEATURE

01/21/2011
NEW DELHI — Over the next few days, India’s biggest art show will witness a frenzy of buying, but before opening their wallets, collectors should be aware of Arpana Caur’s cautionary tale.

During a recent visit to a gallery in New Delhi, the 57-year-old artist identified two paintings that were copied from her “Nanak” series that depicts the life of the founder of the Sikh religion.

She says her investigation revealed that her former apprentice and framer were running a racket employing art students to copy her works and then sell them to new galleries.

“I filed a police complaint against them, seized the forged paintings as proof, but they were never arrested,” said Caur, whose work fetches up to two million rupees ($44,000) at international shows and auctions..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110121com7.html

Ex-DA chief dares Noy: Name names on scam By Aytch S. de la Cruz 01/21/2011

CHARGES READIED BUT PALACE WON’T SAY AGAINST WHOM

Ex-DA chief dares Noy: Name names on scam

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 01/21/2011

President Aquino was dared yesterday to identify those supposedly responsible on his revelation that a single private group has cornered import licenses for about 200,000 metric tons of overpriced rice last year.

Former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said that Aquino should identify those involved in the alleged anomaly instead of making sweeping statements that are tantamount to trial by publicity against officials of the former administration of President Arroyo.

Malacañang said charges are being built up against those who it did not identify as behind the National Food Authority (NFA) awarding license to a single private group to import about 200,000 metric tons of rice last year.

The NFA has been importing rice of up to 2.5 million metric tons a year, spending from P25 billion to P29
billion annually to purchase mostly rice from Vietnam at the height of a self-fulfilling rice price crisis in 2008..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110121hed1.html

Senate warns: Reyes, Garcia, et al. up for contempt if summons ignored By Angie M. Rosales 01/21/2011

Senate warns: Reyes, Garcia, et al. up for contempt if summons ignored

By Angie M. Rosales 01/21/2011

Former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and his erstwhile subordinate, retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, have already been called to face Senate probers next week on the alleged plunder of military funds.

Should any of those invited, which include those from the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman, fail to appear in the scheduled proceedings, they are likely to earn subpoenas from the investigating committee, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona warned yesterday.

“The standard operating procedure of the blue ribbon committee is that, if they will not show up, after we have served them an invitation, then we can issue them summons or subpoenas,” the senator, blue ribbon chairman, said in an interview.

Guingona said he had already ordered the issuance of invitation yesterday for next Thurday’s scheduled start of the probe..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110121hed2.html

Bishops, solons alarmed by wave of violence 01/21/2011

Bishops, solons alarmed by wave of violence

01/21/2011
Catholic bishops have expressed concern over the upsurge of criminal incidents in the country even as they condemned the seeming inability of the Aquino government to promote law and order.

Several prelates issued the statement following a series of crimes which saw car dealers being burned to death and other civilians that have fallen prey to various criminal elements, including kidnappings in southern Philippines.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, a former president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in a statement posted on the CBCP web site, said all the criminal atrocities mean more of a “dysfunctional justice system than anything else.”

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. described the crime wave as “alarming because it shows the inability of government to promote law and order.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110121hed3.html

Weak plunder case vs Garcia fault of Marcelo By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/21/2011

Weak plunder case vs Garcia fault of Marcelo

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/21/2011

The finger is now pointed at former Om-budsman Simeon Marcelo for being the originator of the weak plunder case against Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, the retired military comptroller who was recently allowed to post bail and plead guilty to lesser offenses, such as direct bribery as well as money laundering charges.

A former Sandigan-bayan anti-graft court magistrate yesterday said that embattled Ombuds-man Merceditas Gutierrez should not be blamed for the government’s weak case against the former military comptroller who is eyeing a plea bargain agreement for his plunder case.

Former Presiding Justice Manuel Pamaran pointed out that the “incomplete” and “very weak” case build up of the plunder charges against the former comptroller had been underprepared by Gutierrez’s predecessor, who would be Simeon Marcelo, who has been making a lot of noise against the plea bargain agreement.

“It was the team of Ombudsman Gutierrez’s predecessor who spearheaded the filing of the incomplete and deficient information against Garcia without the allegation stated therein validated. The case was referred to the Ombudsman’s office in September of 2004, and Gutierrez came in only on Dec. 5, 2005,”Pamaran said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110121hed4.html

‘Little President’ not threatened by entry of Noy’s troubleshooter 01/21/2011

‘Little President’ not threatened by entry of Noy’s troubleshooter

01/21/2011
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. yes-terday said he does not see as a threat the impending entry of former senator and defeated vice presiden-tial candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas in govern-ment as President Aquino’s possible chief of all chiefs.

Expressing his personal thoughts on the matter, Ochoa said

Roxas’ future functions will not affect their current setup in Malacañang especially his position as “Little President” as executive secretaries are called since Aquino’s losing running mate will merely act in an “advisory capacity.”

Aquino the other day described Roxas’ role in his administration as equivalent to that of a powerful Chief of Staff though he rejected the analogy at first, stressing that he will not be given vast authority contrary to the assumptions held by many.

He said he needs someone like Roxas in his office to avoid the overlapping of functions by his department secretaries and to help Ochoa in his workload, especially on issues that are national in scope..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110121hed5.html

SC chief slams propaganda war By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/21/2011

SC chief slams propaganda war

By Benjamin B. Pulta 01/21/2011

Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona appears to have had it with the “black propaganda war” being waged against the high court’s controversial decisions, as he reiterated his appeal for critics to read the SC’s recent decisions first before waging what he termed as a “propaganda war.”

Speaking before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) yesterday, where he was a guest, the head magistrate bewailed the attacks by parties whom he declined to name, but said that “a propaganda war was unleashed on recent judgments.”

“The court does not wield the power of the sword, nor does it have the power of the purse. But it has the power to interpret the Constitution. I mention this in light of recent events. A propaganda war has been unleashed on recent Supreme Court judgments,” Corona said.

Palace officials — especially President Aquino — have been stridently criticizing the high court after virtually every decision that proved unfavorable to the Malacañang tenant.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110121hed6.html

DoJ clears Army, holds Lopez firm liable for botanist’s killing By Benjamin Pulta 01/21/2011

DoJ clears Army, holds Lopez firm liable for botanist’s killing

By Benjamin Pulta 01/21/2011

An official report by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has cleared the military in the death of three civilians, including noted botanist Leonardo Co, in the mountains of Lim-ao in Kananga town, Leyte last Nov. 15.

In a 26-page report, the panel composed of NBI Death Investigation Division Chief Romulo Asis, and Assistant State Prosecutors Diosdado Solidum Jr. and Bryan Jacinto Cacha said officials of the Energy Development Corp. (EDC) should be held liable for allowing Co’s team to conduct their explorations despite earlier notices given by the military unit of possible insurgent activity in the area.

“The circumstances of the incident, the failure of the employer to undertake necessary precautions point to the conclusion that the EDC is liable for reckless imprudence in the death of Dr. Co, (Sofronio) Cortez and (Julio) Borromeo,” the report said.

 The report also cleared the Army’s 19th Infantry Batallion of liability in the incident..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110121nat5.html

DILG chief warns non-compliance with full disclosure to be meted sanctions 01/21/2011

DILG chief warns non-compliance with full disclosure to be meted sanctions

01/21/2011
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo earlier had warned that non-compliance with the full disclosure policy of the department would face administrative sanctions.
Full disclosure policy requires local government units to post their budgets and finances, and bids and public offerings in government Web sites, newspapers of general circulation, and in other conspicuous and appropriate places.

Adherence to the policy is now compulsory, as provided by Section 90 of Republic Act 10147 or the General Appropriations Act of 2011.

The DILG chief said that this is a big step to ensure that the government resources are used responsibly and for the right purpose, adding that failure to comply with the policy would merit disciplinary actions in accordance with existing laws..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110121nat2.html

Only the simple-minded EDITORIAL 01/20/2011

Only the simple-minded

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
01/20/2011
Prior to Noynoy Aquino’s “first full Cabinet meeting,” several Palace clusters engaged in a workshop — and all intended to thresh out several priority Malacañang bills to present to Congress, after a meeting with the Palace-legislative group, scheduled sometime next week.

A claimed seven - hour meeting time with Noynoy and his Cabinet secretaries apparently produced nothing substantial, as it was reported that they had failed to come up with the list of priority bills, because, as one of his spokesmen said, nothing could be decided on by Noynoy, since he still has some questions and wants more details, apart from which, he only wants 12 “urgent” bills..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110120com1.html

Consequences FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 01/20/2011

Consequences

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
01/20/2011
Lauro Vizconde, reacting to the denial of his motion to get the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the acquittal decision in the case of Hubert Webb, et al., said he already knew that his motion for reconsideration would be denied. That being the case, why then did he and his camp, especially Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta, come up with it, especially as the SC had already stated, upon ruling on Webb’s acquittal, that no motions for reconsideration (MR) would be entertained?

They even went to the extent of claiming that they had a VIP who would come up with new evidence. He turned out to be the former Vice President Teofisto Guingona and there was no evidence really being offered.

But already knowing that their move would amount to nothing, why did they continue to push it?

Obviously, it was all being done to generate sympathy and publicity for them, as they continue to insist that Webb, et al. are guilty..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110120com2.html

Coal-hungry Asia helps Mozambique city boom FEATURE 01/20/2011

Coal-hungry Asia helps Mozambique city boom

FEATURE

01/20/2011
TETE — Trucks queue day and night to cross the heavy bridge that spans the Zambezi river at Tete city in northern Mozambique, where rich coalfields lie ready to fuel energy-hungry Asia.

But moving the coal out is a logistical nightmare.

Miners and drivers wait patiently in peak hour traffic stretching back four kilometers (2.5 miles) as vehicles slowly advance on a one-way track, the direction of which changes every 30 minutes, to the other side of the river.

At the western side of the crossing lie Mozambique’s massive, relatively untapped coal reserves, estimated at 23 billion tons. On the other side is the road to Beira, a central port where the black stuff can be transported globally across the Indian Ocean..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110120com3.html

FM and FM Jr. BLURBAL THRUSTS Louie Logarta 01/20/2011

FM and FM Jr.

BLURBAL THRUSTS
Louie Logarta
01/20/2011
President Aquino currently is being bombarded with criticisms from all over for splurging some P4.5 million (at least this what he claims) earlier this month on a second-hand Porsche sports roadster, since this could be viewed as overly extravagant and callous on his part as the leader, who ran and won in the last elections on a platform of reform, of an impoverished Third World country.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition described Mr. Aquino’s purchase of the high-end German-made car as an “unnecessary flaunting of wealth amid massive poverty” and added he should have had the good sense to comport himself as befits the highest elected official of a country such as the Philippines where millions of people can barely get by each day.

In a press release, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is one of the poorest members of Congress with P1.1 million in assets reported as of June 2010, said P-Noy’s actions were totally in bad taste inasmuch as he should serve as a model for other public officials. “As the President calling for austerity and asking people to tighten their belts, cutting the budget on various expenses, he should lead by example by not buying a luxury car which many couldn’t even pronounce correctly.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110120com4.html

What’s a-cookin’ in your noggin, P-Noy? COMMENT 01/20/2011

What’s a-cookin’ in your noggin, P-Noy?

COMMENT

01/20/2011
It was a different kind of setting this time for members of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM). Unlike the small dinner meetings with politicos and journalists that were regularly held at the late Josie Lichauco’s posh Essensa penthouse residence at the Fort, the recent Jan. 9 reunion was a luncheon on the 35th floor of a high-rise condominium overlooking San Juan City — tendered by CCM chairman Bettina Legarda in honor of the Magdalo soldiers who had applied for amnesty.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and his fellow Magdalo patriots were accompanied by Medal of Valor recipient retired Lt. Col. Ariel Querubin, who would now be a two-star general had his service not been rudely interrupted by the politics of the high command then headed by Gloria Arroyo. Attired in civvies, the amnesty grantees arrived in the company of their loved ones — their telltale physical traits of soldiery still there: bearing, erect posture, dusky complexion and cropped hair..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110120com6.html

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