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Milking cow EDITORIAL 02/05/2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Milking cow

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
02/05/2011
With billions in the military to milk, whether through hundreds of millions in pasalubongs and pabaons, or along approvals of highly irregular contracts where more hundreds of millions are made by the top military brass, is it any wonder that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its officers are into the game of apple-polishing the Malacañang tenant to get to the top, or the near top?

This is probably a major reason the military, despite its claims of being professional and now — even claims of being transparent — can never be so.

Even with the departure of former President Gloria Arroyo, it was already evident that the military generals — at least some of them with an eye of getting the top post and the service command posts — were into playing partisan politics.

Recall that during the presidential campaign period, Noynoy Aquino himself blurted to the media that he had been meeting — clandestinely — with several groups of military officers who apparently gave him situation reports which could have included election-related issues involving the military. The officers have no business meeting up with a presidential candidate or giving him any situation reports..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110205com1.html

Win a little, lose a lot FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 02/05/2011

Win a little, lose a lot

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
02/05/2011
Ping Lacson is in the clear, after the Court of Appeals dismissed the double murder case filed by the state prosecutors against him, although Department of Justice (DoJ) chief Leila de Lima yesterday said that the arrest warrant issued against him stays, since there is no final and executory judgment made as yet by the CA.

She claimed that she still has to study what the next step government should take, whether to file for a motion for reconsideration, then appeal this same case before the high court, or merely go along with the CA ruling, as she claims there is no closure.

Considering the fact that Lacson could not be found all that time that he went to ground — evidently because there really was no serious move on the part of the National Bureau of Investigation — and considering too, that Lacson and Noynoy are allies, that statement of De Lima was more to generate the perception that she and her agency are not being partial to Lacson and that no politics is involved.

Still, De Lima may have her hands tied in this instance, as the private complainants, the Dacer daughters, may appeal this CA ruling, which could delay Lacson’s surfacing..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110205com2.html

DOLE Absolves Official in YouTube Video Verbally Abusing OFW in Hongkong

DOLE Absolves Official in YouTube Video Verbally Abusing OFW in Hongkong

Migrante International is dismayed by the ruling, saying said that by absolving labor attaché Romulo Salud of his verbal abuse of Agnes Tenorio, the DOLE is encouraging more such abuses in the future.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — Overseas Filipino workers are dismayed over the recent decision of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) dismissing the complaint for abuse of authority and neglect of official duties which they filed against Philippine labor attache Romulo Salud, whose voice is heard on a YouTube video verbally abusing a Filipino domestic helper in Hongkong.

The DOLE “admonished and sternly warned” Salud to be more respectful in dealing with people to avoid similar incidents.

“We are dismayed, angry and offended with the DOLE decision,” Migrante International Garry Martinez said, “This is a virtual go-signal from DOLE to other labor attaches and government officials that they can neglect, abuse and maltreat our OFWs and get away with it,” adding that the decision not only “tolerated” but rather “exonerated” Salud for what he has done.

Agnes Tenorio was a first time domestic helper in Hongkong who sought the assistance of the Philippine Consulate General on October 2010. Her contract was terminated barely two hours since she arrived at her employer’s house. Unaware of her rights, Tenorio asked Salud, who was handling her case, to arrange for her immediate return to the country. Salud, on the other hand, did not inform her that under Hongkong labor laws, Tenorio may claim her unpaid wages from her employer.

Through her fellow OFWs and the Mission for Migrant Workers, an OFW group based in Hongkong, Tenorio learned of her rights and, with the new knowledge at hand, went back to Salud to consult him regarding the labor case she would like to file. In the said meeting, however, Salud shouted at her saying, “Don’t use the word ‘right.’ Because it is also my right if I am going to accept you or not.” Tenorio managed to record their conversation through her cellular phone, The recording, which was posted on YouTube, circulated in social and networking sites, and, as of press time, has reached nearly 150,000 views..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/02/05/dole-absolves-official-in-youtube-video-verbally-abusing-ofw-in-hongkong/

Labor Dispute Continues at Wyeth-Pfizer, Workers Slam Company Harassment

Labor Dispute Continues at Wyeth-Pfizer, Workers Slam Company Harassment


For all its claims of trying to make society better and healthier by providing it with quality medicines, milk and other products, Wyeth-Pfizer Philippines is making its own workers ill because of its countless anti-labor acts.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — For all its claims of trying to make society better and healthier by providing it with quality medicines, milk and other products, Wyeth-Pfizer Philippines is making its own workers ill because of its countless anti-labor acts.
The Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union (WPPWU-DFA-KMU) has been up in arms against the pharmaceutical giant’s continuing harassment and intimidation against its ranks as the management ignores workers’ justified demands for increased wages, retirement and separation pay.

Negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and the Wyeth-Pfizer management started on July 2010. A deadlock on the negotiations was declared the following November , however, when the management continued with what the workers called “bargaining in bad faith.”

According to union president Dennis Galido, on the last day of the negotiations, the management suddenly refused to honor provisions that both parties had previously agreed on . The management also reportedly threatened the union that those provisions would be completely withdrawn or changed if the union is not amenable to settling the remaining items on the agenda, namely the issue of retirement and redundancy packages.

“The management has already gotten a compromise on the union’s wage increase demand. The wage hike demand for a three year employment contract represents only 10 percent of the current salary, but it was still trimmed down by another 65 percent because of the management’s hardline position,” he said..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/02/04/labor-dispute-continues-at-wyeth-pfizer-workers-slam-company-harassment/

Lawyers Push for Immediate Release of One of Three Remaining Morong 43 Detainees

Lawyers Push for Immediate Release of One of Three Remaining Morong 43 Detainees

Atty. Julius Garcia Matibag of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and one of the legal counsels of the Morong 43, said they are hopeful that Edwin B. Dematera would soon be released because they have proven that he is not the same person being accused of rape before a Las Piñas court.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — One of the lawyers of the Morong 43 warned that prolonging the detention of the three who have remained in jail would be tantamount to arbitrary detention.

The Morong 43 are the health workers arrested on Feb. 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal, by at least 300 combined elements of police and military. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were branded as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). On Dec. 17, 2010, the local courts in Morong, upon the order of President Benigno S. Aquino III, issued release orders for the 43. A week later, most of the detainees were released. Two more were freed before the year ended.

Three male detainees have remained at a high-risk detention facility inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, namely Edwin B. Dematera, Rogelio Villarisis and Mario delos Reyes. They are among the five cited by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as having pending warrants of arrest for what their lawyers call “ridiculous and spurious” charges..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/02/03/lawyers-push-for-immediate-release-of-one-of-three-remaining-morong-43-detainees/

Ex-COA Auditor Who Documented Corruption in Philippine Military Lauded

Ex-COA Auditor Who Documented Corruption in Philippine Military Lauded


“We applaud Ms. Heidi Mendoza’s courage and determination in daring to expose and condemn anomalous transactions within the military,” said Courage president Ferdinand Gaite.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — A government employee upholding the dignity of all other government employees.
The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) yesterday heaped praises on and expressed full support for former Commission on Audit (COA) employee Heidi Mendoza as she stands witness in the controversial plea-bargain agreement involving former military comptroller Carlos Garcia. She is the lone prosecution witness in the case.

“We applaud Ms. Mendoza’s courage and determination in daring to expose and condemn anomalous transactions within the military,” Courage president Ferdinand Gaite said.

In doing so, he said, Mendoza “upheld the dignity of all our fellow rank-and-file employees who are committed to their profession as public servants, despite numerous attempts to corrupt or threaten them.”


As COA auditor, Heidi Mendoza documented massive corruption in the armed forces. (Photo from ellentordesillas.com)
Gaite said Courage agrees with her when she said in an earlier TV interview “that not all government employees are thieves, not all Filipinos are afraid to speak out against corruption.”

Mendoza testified in yesterday’s hearing of the congressional Committee on Justice that was looking into the plea-bargain agreement. Mendoza went full details regarding Garcia’s corruption and how he siphoned millions from the coffers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The committee resumed its inquiry into the plea-bargain agreement between state prosecutors and Garcia, on the premise that the agreement was irregular as it will reduce the offense of the former comptroller from plunder to mere direct bribery. Plunder is a capital offense punishable with a life sentence in the Philippines (originally, the punishment is death but if not for the abolition of the death penalty). Direct bribery only carries a penalty of imprisonment from six to 12 years..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/02/02/ex-coa-auditor-who-documented-corruption-in-philippine-military-lauded/

Int’l Groups to UN: Help Stop Destruction of Marine Resources in Philippines

Int’l Groups to UN: Help Stop Destruction of Marine Resources in Philippines


Pamalakaya, the fisherfolk group, is seeking the UN Special Rapporteur on Food to intervene in what it says is the continuing destruction of marine resources in the Philippines under President Aquino’s public-private partnership program. The group says these projects not only damage the environment but affect as well the livelihood of communities.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — The communiqué the Philippine fisherfolk organization Pambansang Lakas ng  Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya) to the United Nations on the destruction of local coastal waters was recently endorsed by some 24 international groups from Asian and African.

Participants to the Aid Effectiveness Forum sponsored by the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and the 3rd General Assembly of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) endorsed Pamalakaya’s communiqué to UN Special Rapporteur on Food Olivier de Schutter regarding so-called national development projects along Philippine coastal shores.

Pamalakaya has made the position that said projects are damaging the marine resources as well as negatively affecting the livelihood of communities. They are seeking the UN Special Rapporteur’s intervention on the matter.

“We want Special Rapporteur de Schutter to dispatch a team to investigate the development projects carried during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap.

Hicap said the anti-people and anti-national development programs began during the Arroyo regime are being continued under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme of the Aquino administration. He said Aquino’s PPP projects will continue to a have negative impact on the lives and livelihood f thousands of small fisherfolk.


Pamalakaya activists protesting the oil spill in Guimaras (Photo by Anya Mendoza / bulatlat.com)
“Fishing areas primed for corporate takeovers are also under threat of being irrevocably destroyed,” he said.

Advocates around the world have been working for years to protect coastlines from ill-advised development projects. Intact beaches, mangroves, sea grass beds, and coastal waterways buffer inland areas from hurricanes and typhoons. When development projects destroy these ecosystems, the potential for storm damage increases. All this besides the devastation wrought against the livelihood of residents.

In the communiqué, the group originally sent to de Schutter in Ocober 2010, the fishers group cited at least nine cases wherein food and fish production, livelihood rights and the environment are placed under constant jeopardy by public-private partnership projects.

1)The impact of offshore mining in Tanon Strait, a protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Negros.

From year 2005 to 2008, the Philippine government through the Department of Energy allowed the Japanese oil and gas exploration firm JAPEX to explore the protected seascape despite the resistance from small-scale fishermen, coastal residents and environmental groups.  Fish catch of small fishermen were significantly reduced from 10-15 kilos a day to 1-3 kilos a day because of offshore mining activities..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/02/01/intl-groups-to-un-help-stop-destruction-of-marine-resources-in-philippines/

Noy wants troops to rat on corrupt chiefs By Aytch S. de la Cruz, Mario J. Mallari and Angie M. Rosales 02/05/2011

DND: 1998-2005 AFP DND: 1998-2005 AFP

Noy wants troops to rat on corrupt chiefs

By Aytch S. de la Cruz, Mario J. Mallari and Angie M. Rosales 02/05/2011

President Aquino, through his Executive Secretary Pacquito “Jojo” Ochoa, called on the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to be vigilant and report corrupt activities within the military, in essence exhorting lower ranking officers to bypass their superiors and even rat on them, effectively upsetting the hierarchical military structure, and throwing out of the window even the so-called military “grievance” system.
Within the military structure, no officer is allowed to bypass his superior and any grievance he has goes through the regular hierarchical mill.

In a statement issued yesterday, Ochoa said the Aquino government has already initiated reforms to “protect the AFP’s coffers from abuse” and called on troops to “be vigilant and to report the misuse of funds by your superiors.”

He claimed that the Aquino administration and the AFP already have taken steps to reform the system and that the mechanisms have been put in place to check abuses. He stressed that there is one thing he asks of the troops: “Be vigilant and report the misuse of funds by your superiors,” Ochoa said, adding the probe on the corruption of the military under the previous administration is ongoing, although the probe may be fruitless, as the Department of National Defense-Special Investigation Committee (DND-SIC) is faced with the challenge of locating all the documents from the office of the comptrollership of the AFP from 1998 to 2005 which are deemed important in its probe of the alleged massive corruption in the military during the time of former AFP chief Gen. Angelo Reyes..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110205hed1.html

Gov’t may reinvestigate Dacer-Corbito murder — De Lima By Benjamin B. Pulta 02/05/2011

Gov’t may reinvestigate Dacer-Corbito murder — De Lima

By Benjamin B. Pulta 02/05/2011
Amid speculations that President Aquino had a hand in the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of the double murder case against still fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima sought to assure the public that there will be “closure” in the killing of Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, despite a decision by the CA’s dismissal of the case.

Speaking to reporters, De Lima said the government may opt to consider a reinvestigation of the case which has remained unresolved for 11 years or it may opt to appeal the decision of the appellate tribunal. She added that since the CA’s decision is not final and executory, the arrest warrant against Lacson stands.

“I’m not saying that we are inclined to reinvestigate, but that is one of the options (we have). That is why there is a judicial system (even if) there is frustration sometimes,” De Lima said.

“What is clear to us, like the Vizconde massacre case, is that there is no closure here. Our concern is to put closure and find out who is behind the murder. We have options and the DoJ will take whatever option that is warranted,” she added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110205hed2.html

Mindanao solons vow to oppose bid to defer ARMM polls 02/05/2011

Mindanao solons vow to oppose bid to defer ARMM polls

02/05/2011
Several congressmen from Mindanao are up in arms over a proposed bill seeking to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) scheduled this coming August.

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong questioned the legal ground of House Bill (HB) 3542 entitled “An Act Resetting the Regular Elections for Elective Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to Coincide with the General Elections to be held on the Second Monday of May 2013.”

Authored by Rep. Pangalian Balindong, HB 3542 seeks to postpone the elections scheduled on the second Monday of August 2011 to May 2013 to coincide with the mid-term general elections.

HB 3542 stipulates that all incumbent elected officials of the ARMM shall continue to hold office in a “holdover capacity” until their successors shall have been duly elected..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110205hed3.html

Israel raps Iran on use of RP banks amid sanctions By Michaela P. del Callar 02/05/2011

Israel raps Iran on use of RP banks amid sanctions

By Michaela P. del Callar 02/05/2011

Israel has suspected Iran of transacting with Philippine banks amid international financial sanctions against Tehran, a 2007 secret diplomatic cable obtained by online whistleblower Wikileaks said.

The cable dated Dec. 5, 2007 said Iran is trying to evade sanctions by using personal bank accounts and bond accounts, and working with banks in the Persian Gulf and the Far East.

“The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) representative said that there are indications that Iran is also trying to do business with banks in the Persian Gulf and Far East (especially China and the Philippines) regions.

Israel is now trying to locate the specific banks and accounts,” the cable released on Feb. 2 said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110205hed4.html

Prelates threaten ‘civil disobedience’ on RH bill By Michaela P. del Callar 02/05/2011

Prelates threaten ‘civil disobedience’ on RH bill

By Michaela P. del Callar 02/05/2011
At least two Catholic bishops have warned of a “civil disobedience” campaign if the controversial bill on birth control is passed into law.

According to Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, they will advise Catholics not to follow the Reproductive Health (RH) bill if it becomes a law.

They, however, stressed that whatever their actions take, will not be violent.

“We will have a civil disobedience move. Those laws that are immoral, we will tell the people not to obey,” Bastes in a statement posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of the Philippines’ (CBCP) Web site, said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110205hed5.html

Mubarak says resignation will entail chaos 02/05/2011

Mubarak says resignation will entail chaos

02/05/2011
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he wants to leave office, but feared there will be chaos if he resigns now, as anti-government protesters massed in Cairo for an 11th day of demonstrations aimed at putting an end to his 30-year rule.

The beleaguered Egyptian leader said he was “fed up with being president and would like to leave office now, but cannot... for fear that the country would sink into chaos,” ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour said, after interviewing Mubarak.

Mubarak, who has vowed not to stand in September elections, has come under increasing pressure from the United States and the West to step down immediately.

But he said he had told US President Barack Obama “you don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110205hed6.html

NDFP calls on AFP to stop operations during peace talks By Mario J. Mallari 02/05/2011

NDFP calls on AFP to stop operations during peace talks

By Mario J. Mallari 02/05/2011

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is calling for the prohibition of civil military operations (CMO) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and pull back of troops to their regional barracks during the resumption of the peace negotiations this month.

In an urgent message to the NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni, the NDFP principals pointed out that in many barangays the CMO operations, AFP troops harass the communities, threatening the residents who resisted being recruited into the Cafgu, listing them as “sympathizers” of the New People’s Army (NPA) and putting them on the AFP’s Order of Battle.

These CMO operations, the NDFP leaders claimed, are in effect military operations which are part of the government’s anti-people and counter-insurgency scheme.

Jalandoni, in a letter to government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla, stated “our negotiating panel considers it imperative that AFP and PNP units be brought back to regional and provincial barracks respectively during the ceasefire and if any patrols have to be undertaken, these patrols be limited to the immediate vicinity of the AFP and PNP barracks.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110205nat1.html

Hunger stunts Philippine children 02/05/2011

Hunger stunts Philippine children

02/05/2011
A third of Philippine school children are stunted because poverty has forced them to eat too little food for years, according to a government study released this week.

The latest findings of a rolling survey carried out for decades by the government’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute reflect the general poverty rate and the boom-and-bust economic cycles of the country.

The latest data, which is for 2008 but was only released last Thursday, showed 33.1 percent of 100,000 students surveyed across the country suffered from chronic malnutrition.

This was due to them not eating enough food over a long period and led to them being shorter than they should be, although the survey did not publish specific heights..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110205nat11.html

Angie runs amuck EDITORIAL 02/04/2011

Angie runs amuck

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
02/04/2011
The group of embattled Gloria champion, Angie Reyes, made a bizarre proposal yesterday to inhibit four senators from the ongoing Senate blue ribbon committee probe into military corruption.

Reyes wanted Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Antonio Trillanes lV and Francis “Chiz” Escudero to inhibit themselves from the Senate probe.

Reyes’ demand was a first for the chamber and also was at the top of the list among the absurdities leveled against senators.
It was both a crazy and a desperate act of Reyes. His counsel knows that the Senate inquiry is not a judicial process but is legislative in nature, thus, the argument of alleged prejudgment against the senators cannot apply since it is not the chamber’s duty to pass judgment.

Reyes, the first chief of staff under Gloria, initially got the heat by association, over the plunder case of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and in the process of investigating Garcia, the link to Reyes was unavoidable since he was Defense chief during Garcia’s term..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110204com1.html

Never-ending corruption FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 02/04/2011

Never-ending corruption

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
02/04/2011
Listening to the exposes being made by military whistle-blowers and the refusal of retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia to either confirm or deny that which is being disclosed by the whistle-blowers, what appears to be clear is that corruption in the military isn’t going to fade away soon, even if Garcia is to be detained by the Senate on contempt charges.

It is evident that Garcia knows a whole lot of things that have been going on within the military and its corrupt activities, but refuses to spill the beans or even lay the blame on his one time superiors, mainly, it is suspected, because he is protecting, not just himself, but his family and he probably knows that they — as well as himself — will be harmed once he even dares to spill the beans.

It is also suspected that if something does happen to him and his family, that would only be the time that whatever it is he knows will be disclosed.

There are just too many military top guns involved in this massive looting of public funds, and for their personal enrichment and they too, do not want to be brought to justice by being criminally charged, which may be the major reason all those military chiefs simply denied that they were given pabaons and pasalubongs, not to mention the other kickbacks and commissions they must have received from irregular contracts..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110204com2.html

Arab reform poses big risks for US — experts ANALYSIS 02/04/2011

Arab reform poses big risks for US — experts

ANALYSIS

02/04/2011
WASHINGTON — The apparent sea change in the Arab world, given the popular revolt in Tunisia and ongoing rebellion in Egypt, could transform the region in a way not favorable to Washington, analysts warned.

As well as Egypt and Tunisia, observers are keeping a close eye on US allies Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and notably Jordan — the only Arab country outside Egypt that has a peace pact with Israel.

If the United States only pays lip-service to pro-democracy movements in the region and fails to align with them, it will “be perceived as a receding power having little influence,” said conservative analyst Danielle Pletka.

Washington is reluctant to denounce Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because he is a key longtime ally in a vital region and a crucial partner in efforts to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110204com3.html

Keep Heidi Mendoza company NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 02/04/2011

Keep Heidi Mendoza company

NO HOLDS BARRED
Armida Siguion-Reyna
02/04/2011
I write this hoping to still meet my editor’s deadline. For two days riveted on the televised hearings in the Lower House to do with former state auditor Heidi Mendoza’s revelations on the big-time manipulation of funds in the military, yesterday’s blue ribbon committee hearing got me anew.

It opened at 9:30 in the morning and a hook, by way of new witness Col. Antonio “Sonny” Lim’s opening statement, which he read with voice cracking here and there. And then closed at 4:30 in the afternoon with a bang, in the tearful entreaty Mendoza delivered, hitsura ng mga mega-star monologues sa mga pelikula noong araw.

I had lunch in front of my TV, and perhaps stopped only to laugh at a text message I got that went, “Masaganang Bagong Taon ng mga Instik! Nawa’y mahawahan tayong mga Pilipino ng suwerte at yaman nina Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Go Kong Wei, at mga AFP Chief of Staff.”

I’d been watching as early as Tuesday since ANC/dzMM first covered the hearings, but my husband and I were interested in the case since the general named after one of our presidents was first exposed as having supposedly finagled that much and plowed it into multimillion-peso and dollar accounts, and plushy properties here and abroad. I focused on the body language of the protagonists, the facial expressions that said so much and differentiated the bida from the kontrabida..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110204com4.html

Systemic corruption DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 02/04/2011

Systemic corruption

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel

Herman Tiu Laurel
02/04/2011
A retiree from the Commission on Audit, with the initials AR, sent me this text after being glued to radio coverage of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) generals’ “pabaon” scandal: “Ang gulo congresmen cla cla din nagkokontrahan sobra dunong, puro dal2. Cla din tumutulong s dfendant.” (The congressmen are so messed up; they contradict and upstage one another; all they do is talk. They’re even the ones aiding the defendants.)

Then, Myrna (another texter) said: “Mabuhay kayo jorge rabusa, heidi mendoza tulad ng mga bagong katipunero. kayo ang mga buhay na bayani naming mamayan at bansa natin. Tulad nyo naranasan naming ang insultuhin kutyain bombahin ng tubig batutain sa mga rali.” (Long Live…! You are the citizens’ and the country’s living heroes. Like you, we have experienced insults, taunts, water canons, and truncheons in rallies.)

Such feedback from the public only affirms the Tribune’s recent headline, “House panel goes ‘soft’ on ex-AFP CoS.” But the coddling appears not only limited to the House.

Some members of media who are also at it include one who wrote: “On the downside of that Senate hearing were the actuations of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Antonio Trillanes against Angelo Reyes… They were boorish and seemed more like spoiled juvenile delinquents instead of senators of the Republic. Instead of generating public support for ferreting out corruption in the AFP, they may have unwittingly generated public sympathy for Reyes instead — counterproductive.”

Columnist Billy Esposo, of course, did a little perfunctory criticism of Reyes before attributing personal vindictive motives to the two senators. What he apparently didn’t like was their vigorous cross-examination of Reyes, who was already used to taking the offensive as a way to distract and intimidate, a tactic seen and countered immediately by Estrada and Trillanes.

How can there be any downside when any investigation that ferrets out the truth is worth every minute and every penny of the public? Even in the case of the congressmen pussy-footing on the former chiefs of staff, their dissolute character in action was readily seen by the public.

The fact of the matter is, many legislators sitting in budget hearings or deliberating on appointments or promotions are known to demand favors that range from the facilitated entry of their own protégés into juicy posts to specified amounts as their shares of the “loot” from earmarked funds or projects.

Many of these individuals (mentioned by military officials) are known allies of Gloria Arroyo, including a notorious politician who ran for a Senate seat in 2007 but lost big-time, landing him a most lucrative post in the LWUA (Local Water Utilities Administration).

As we pointed out in our last column, the entire system is corrupt, especially after the Edsa II power grab. Mrs. Arroyo’s cohorts, starting with Esposo’s Copa (Council of Philippine Affairs), and especially those who helped out in the ensuing cover-ups and illegal operations, became virtually indispensable ever since.
We also said that compared to the many other scams in the past decade’s narrative of felonies, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia is a small fry. His estimated P300-million loot is certainly small in relation to the scandalous amounts racked by “evil society,” such as the infamous CodeNGO Peace Bonds that netted over a billion in fat commissions, excluding banker’s fees.

It’s also small compared to what certain members of media got in lucrative government directorships that pay out hundreds of thousands monthly even when they hardly have any qualifications to serve at all. Small-time Garcia is, too, compared to the different religious sects, which got their shares either in the form of choice government contracts (such as license plates) or appointments to cash cow agencies or even the courts.
While the nation’s eyes are focused on the AFP, another case of endemic, pernicious corruption, this time by the corporatocracy in connivance with the judiciary, is unfolding.
About a decade ago, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) reneged on its 10-year supply contract to purchase electricity from the National Power Corp. (Napocor) because its owners had set up their own IPPs (independent power producers) and bought from these at a higher price. Napocor thus sued Meralco for breach of contract, for which the power distributor was fined P12 billion. This amount grew to P20 billion until it was settled at P14 billion, with the caveat that it will be charged to consumers.

Such corrupt shenanigans have gone on for over two decades now with neither the legislature nor the judiciary having ever lent the public a hand.

And Meralco isn’t alone. Another oligarchic firm, Manila Water, has gotten the MWSS, the water regulatory agency, to approve a fresh round of rate increases in the face of a declining dollar which ought to have been a major boon to savings.

But then, in the twisted way that deregulation laws were written, regulatory agencies such as the MWSS have no other choice but to source their funds, including their fat 30-month bonuses, from these privatized utility companies. Is it any wonder whose interests these agencies are working for? Yet after that entire hullabaloo about bonuses during PeNoy’s inaugural address, nothing has been done to curb this basic distortion and conflict-of-interest.

These are the real cases among the countless, ongoing, and all consuming corrupt practices that amount to hundreds of billions annually (P10 trillion in 10 years) that far outweigh the loot of a billion or two by the parade of patsy generals.
This systemic corruption is something that cannot be uncovered by mere legislative investigation. Only a popular awakening can achieve a comprehensive understanding. Only a national political revolution can clean the country of this scourge.

(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, about “ERC, Meralco and NPC power rip-offs” with Mang Naro Lualhati, lawyer “Batas” Mauricio and Butch 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/20110204com5.html

Lebanon’s Egyptians anxiously eye upheaval back home focus 02/04/2011

Lebanon’s Egyptians anxiously eye upheaval back home

focus

02/04/2011
BEIRUT — Egyptians in Lebanon are anxiously watching developments in their strife-torn homeland, fearing that their country is sliding into an unending cycle of chaos and political turmoil.

“All I can think, watching the protests, is that we are going to be the next Lebanon or even the next Iraq,” said Shahta al-Masri, a Beirut gas station attendant who hails from Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra in the Nile Delta.
“In Lebanon, everyone is always afraid that the bombs will return,” an allusion to a country that suffered a civil war from 1975-1990 and a conflict with Israel just five years ago.

“All I can say is I am glad my family does not live in Cairo,” added the 36-year-old father of three.

Demonstrators have flooded the streets of Egypt’s capital and other cities since Jan. 25 in increasingly heated protests against President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled unchallenged for three decades..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110204com6.html

Sex trafficking: Dark side of the Super Bowl FEATURE 02/04/2011

Sex trafficking: Dark side of the Super Bowl

FEATURE

02/04/2011
DALLAS — As thousands of fans flood to Dallas for this weekend’s Super Bowl, young girls are being forcibly brought to the city to participate in a game that has nothing to do with American football.

Police and women’s groups have joined together to clamp down on what they fear will be rampant sex trafficking, a modern form of slavery involving pimps selling girls and young women who have been coerced into prostitution.

Dallas Cowboy Jay Ratliff joined the campaign by starring in a public service announcement ahead of Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

“If you’re one of these men buying these young girls, I’m telling you that real men don’t buy children. They don’t buy sex,” Ratliff says in the announcement..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110204com7.html

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