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Voice of the people? Bah, hambug! FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/07/2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Voice of the people? Bah, hambug!

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Why bother with impeaching the high court justices, when this case will not get anywhere?
But Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas says he will be filing by next week, an impeachment case against all 15 Supreme Court (SC) justices, on several grounds, such as the plagiarism case against Justice del Castillo, the decisions of the justices which Fariñas claimed wrong, as the victims of the high court’s “wrongdoing or excesses” of the justices have been complaining, such as Lauro Vizconde for the court’s acquittal of Hubert Webb, along with the “flip-flopping” decisions of the high court in the cityhood issue, plus the inordinately delay of the high court in resolving cases.

All these charges being leveled by Fariñas against the high court justices are constitutional duties and functions of the high court. It is the SC’s constitutional duty to interpret the laws of the land.

One may well ask Fariñas: Who then is to say whether the decision — any decision of the high court is a “wrongdoing” on account of the fact that the high court ruling acquitted one whom Vizconde wanted the conviction of Webb upheld? Vizconde? Fariñas? The House of Representatives?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110307com2.html

Special US prison units fill with Muslims focus 03/07/2011

Special US prison units fill with Muslims


WASHINGTON — US federal prisons for the past three years have housed special units filled disproportionately with Muslim inmates whose every communication with the outside world is strictly monitored.

Known as “Guantanamo North,” the so-called Communication Management Units (CMU) were secretly opened in 2007 in maximum security prisons in Terre Haute, Indiana and Marion, Illinois and currently have 71 prisoners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP) told AFP.

The US public radio network, NPR, recently published the names, nationalities and reasons for incarceration of 86 of more than 100 detainees who have passed through them, information never before disclosed by the BoP.

NPR found that a number of detainees were convicted of terrorism offenses but mixed in with them were white supremacists and common criminals..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110307com3.html

Lessons from hearings C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 03/07/2011

Lessons from hearings

Jonathan De la Cruz
Quite apart from the more tempered exchanges after that tragic suicide of former AFP Chief and Defense Secretary Angie Reyes, the Senate inquiry into the plea bargain agreement between retired Gen. Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman which spilled over into the use of military funds almost a decade ago brought about a number of lessons. For one, it showed the difficulties confronting the military’s fund managers who have to work out the needs of an Armed Forces at war on several fronts, as it were, within a general budgeting and auditing system geared for civilian work at peace time. The ways and practices of such offices as the Ombudsman and the judiciary as well as the biases and foibles of the office holders were also laid open for the public to see, critique and be perplexed with. Then, there was the legal conundrum accompanying high profile hearings which proved instructive, entertaining and maddening. Imagine having to ferret out the truth amid a babel of conflicting data and assertions from all kinds of parties leading to the sad spectacle of “dirt digging” and finger pointing between and among persons and groups including some who waded into past acts which have yet to find closure. These hearings can be a boon to the kibitzers but a bane to the truth seekers. But there were unexpected blessings which ultimately lingered..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110307com4.html

A Trojan horse DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 03/07/2011

A Trojan horse

Herman Tiu Laurel
Ten years ago, a professional civil servant from the Commission on Audit (CoA) named Agustin Chan was in the thick of investigating a P224-million anomaly in a special fund earmarked for the tobacco industry. The trail that led to the northern provinces became his basis for issuing “tracers” or demands for government officials who were directly responsible to answer his queries.

In particular, he wrote the Ilocos Sur provincial accountant on Sept. 4, 2001 for a listing of expenditures charged against the fund for that year, as provided for by Republic Act 7171. But even before that, he already raised the matter in April 2001 to the governor of the province who usually got the biggest allocation, Chavit Singson, to liquidate P124 million in accumulated cash advances or be made liable for “malversation of public funds.”

Six months later, CoA auditor Chan and his driver Alex Recacho were ambushed and killed along the national highway, in Sitio Baoay, Barangay Paing, Bantay, Ilocos Sur. Neither the Yellows, in “civil society” or academe, nor the institutional Catholic Church ever let off a squeak to denounce these twin murders.
Fast forward 10 years: March 3, 2011, Ateneo de Manila. A religious mass cum candle-lighting ceremony was held at the Church of the Gesù with white robed participants and melodramatic chorale evoking a sanctified (or sanctimonious) air to honor “whistle-blower” Heidi Mendoza who testified on the massive corruption in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).

Since her testimony a few weeks ago, a teleserye-like atmosphere has unfolded, with heart-wrenching cries and spiels (a la ZTE-NBN crybaby Jun Lozada), along with nuns and priests “securing” her, a dramatic backstory of her resigning from a “corrupt government,” peppered with “public clamor” for her to return because “her children asked her to,” and then, an offer of the CoA chairmanship from the President, to which Mendoza was quoted to have said, “I won’t give him a hard time (convincing me).” Wow naman, how cute!

Yet what is the reason for this blatant double standard in civil society’s treatment of one CoA auditor over another? Here, I am not only comparing the Jesuit institution’s treatment of Agustin Chan to their darling today but to many others also killed in the line of duty, such as State Auditor IV Anita Gallito, head of the CoA Unit at the Education Department’s Division Office in Tandag, Surigao del Sur, who was gunned down in front of her home in Tago town.

These killings of Chan and Gallito shocked the audit community; but there never was a quip from “civil society.” Neither has the Ateneo nor its affiliates, such as its School of Government, given due credit to those who first raised and exposed the AFP corruption issue and started it all — the Bagong Katipuneros (a.k.a. Magdalos). Why is it that all the accolades seem reserved only for the Ateneo and civil society’s “darling?”

Weeks before the “Mendoza-as-CoA chairman” drama aired, our “investigator” Oliver already alerted us to the “plot” to appoint Mendoza. At the time, no one had the dimmest idea of that yet, as media were not even aware of the then CoA Chairman Reynaldo Villar’s avowed legal battle to stay on in his post.

Oliver attributed the push for Heidi Mendoza’s elevation to the “usual forces that wish to privatize government functions,” i.e. the same people who pushed for Swiss firm SGS to take over Customs functions and for Vitaliano Nañagas to be appointed as chairman of the Social Security System (SSS) in 2001 to privatize the fund, only to be deposed by SSS employees. He then cited the grapevine’s report of a foreign private company expected to be subcontracted for CoA’s financial audit functions in the event of a Mendoza appointment.

I remained skeptical until I heard American gofer Harvey Keh of the Ateneo School of Government at the Ciudad Fernandina Kapihan, floating Mendoza’s name for the chairmanship of the CoA. Coming from Keh, who represents an institution that has spawned quite a number of apologists for the likes of CodeNGO, this is another sure sign of foreign interests at play.

Make no mistake: Heidi Mendoza is an asset from SGV, a breeding ground of corporate operators such as the Hyatt 10’s Cesar Purisima (who wants to restore SGS to Customs). And just as it was for Cory Aquino since Edsa I, Gloria Arroyo in 2001, and now, Aquino III, Heidi is being made out to be another “gift from God” by the Yellows.

However, 25 years of Cory’s legacy and 200 days of Aquino III have only shown that “gifts from God” do not necessarily deliver heaven on earth. There have been and there are many more heroic public servants whom the Ateneo, the Jesuits, the nuns, and civil society have inequitably and inexplicably never sought to give due respect to, and more whistle-blowers than they have ever reached out to help, such as the late Sammy Ong (who exposed Hello Garci), anti-jueteng witness Sandra Cam, along with Jose Barredo and Dante Madriaga of the fertilizer fund and ZTE-NBN scams, respectively.

Given the record of these Yellows and their patrons in giving the Filipino nation such “gifts from God,” we should henceforth be wary of another one. After all the hype surrounding the conferment of “sainthood” to the Yellows’ icon, the Filipino people are almost certain to open the gates of their hearts again — this time, to another Trojan horse — only to regret it a little too late.

(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, on “Cuba, Venezuela on the Libyan Crisis” with Ambassadors Juan Carlos Arencibia and Manuel Perez Iturbe; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our select radio and GNN shows).

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110307com5.html

Temporary escape SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 03/07/2011

Temporary escape

Dinah S. Ventura
Days after the Taylor Swift concert, many little girls were still in seventh heaven. One of them, whose first live concert it was, bubbled over with little anecdotes and exclamations — what a treat, what a night, what a once in a lifetime experience!

Meanwhile, her parents were muttering about how expensive the tickets were, and how they were made to wait for the actual tickets to get to their hands. They had days of nerve-wracking agony, not knowing if their girls would really be able to watch the much-awaited concert. Rumors abounded — organizers had oversold tickets, and there were no more tickets to be found. A day or two prior to the big night, however, the Araneta Coliseum came out with a big announcement: More tickets were going to be made available on concert day!.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110307com7.html

The real picture HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 03/07/2011

The real picture

Aldrin Cardon
I endured six hours of wait for Taylor Swift.

I did it for my two daughters, one is 12 and the other eight. And also for their mom, a closet Swift fan, for not refusing to get tagged along just two weeks back for the China Crisis concert at The Venize Piazza at The Fort.

I did not watch Taylor Swift. I was just the designated “lineman,” the one tasked to fall in line in their place, calling them to fill the slot when their turn near the gate is near.
As soon as I broke the line, I also had to endure two more hours of waiting for the concert to end and meet them for dinner.

We arrived at the Araneta Coliseum some minutes after lunch. The sun was at its peak..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110307com6.html

Noy sends Spratlys ‘specialist’ to China By Danessa O. Rivera and Angie M. Rosales 03/07/2011


Noy sends Spratlys ‘specialist’ to China

By Danessa O. Rivera and Angie M. Rosales 03/07/2011

Malacañang said yesterday it is sending a Spratlys specialist to China in the next few days to take up the near encounter in the disputed islands even as a senator warned that the incident involving Chinese patrol ships and a Philippine exploration vessel will definitely be raised by China during coming negotiations on the fate of three Filipinos facing execution in the mainland for drug offenses.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said the incident will definitely have a “negative” impact on the discussions.
Santiago also warned against further incensing China.

“(The convicts) would probably have better chances at a favorable decision had (the government) not sent a unit in the Spratlys,” Santiago said.

The possibility of China taking up the issue on the recent incident in the Spratly islands against the government cannot be discounted, Santiago added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110307hed1.html

CA orders criminal raps against Piatco execs dropped By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/07/2011

CA orders criminal raps against Piatco execs dropped

By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/07/2011

The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the dropping of  criminal charges filed against shareholders of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco).

The appellate court held that the Manila RTC erred in granting the appeal of complainant, lawyer Jose Bernas, and in ordering the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) to conduct further proceedings on the case against Piatco shareholders for allegedly taking part in a conspiracy or combination in restraint of trade to monopolize services contracts at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

In an eight-page ruling  by Associate Justice Josefina Guevara-Salonga, the CA’s Fourth Division reinstated the February 23, 2007 order issued by the MeTC which granted the motion filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) to withdraw the charges against Piatco’s shareholders.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo and Franchito Diamante..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110307hed2.html

Probe sought for ex-AFP head as Oban takes helm By Angie M. Rosales 03/07/2011

Probe sought for ex-AFP head as Oban takes helm

By Angie M. Rosales 03/07/2011

Another former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, Gen. (ret.) Roy Cimatu, was sought for an Ombudsman probe yesterday for his unexplained properties as President Aquino named new AFP head, Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban, who Aquino said is expected to continue with reforms to end entrenched corruption in the force.

Sen. Franklin Drilon said it’s unlikely for Cimatu to be unaware of the real properties he and his wife allegedly own in Iloilo and recently exposed in the Senate.

“What he claimed was that he didn’t know, that it was registered under his and his wife’s name. What’s surprising to this is that there is a document where the properties were mortgage in Aug. 2010 for P24 million. Cimatu was a signatory to the loan. He had to affix his signature as well as his wife because they’re the registered owners of the properties,” he said in an interview over at dzBB.

“I think he was not telling the truth when he claimed (before the Senate blue ribbon committee) that he does not have knowledge on this issue,” Drilon said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110307hed3.html

Operation to evacuate Pinoys from Libya winds down By Michaela P. del Callar 03/07/2011

Operation to evacuate Pinoys from Libya winds down

By Michaela P. del Callar 03/07/2011

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has called on all Filipinos trapped in the raging conflict in Libya to avail themselves of the repatriation being offered by the Philippine government as it prepares to wind down its operations within the week.

DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya said those who wish to be evacuated must immediately inform Philippine consular teams of their location or proceed to pick-up areas.

He added the department will begin arranging land exit for the undetermined number of Filipinos who remain in Libya after the government-chartered ship made its second and final sail to Libya over the weekend, carrying 1,103 Filipinos, including dependents of diplomats and non-essential personnel of the Philippine Embassy.

“We will have a mop-up operation for one week and will look for more Filipinos who wanted to go home to the Philippines,” Malaya said on dzBB radio..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110307hed4.html

Ombudsman files graft raps vs Duterte, et al. in court 03/07/2011

Ombudsman files graft raps vs Duterte, et al. in court

Former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, now the current Vice Mayor of the same southern city, is in a lot of trouble, as the Ombudsman filed a case of technical malversation, illegal use of public funds and graft and corruption against Duterte and his officers and officials committed during his term as mayor of Davao City.

In the information filed against Duterte, the Ombdusman’s office said that there is “basis for the finding of probable causes against respondents (Duterte, et al. ) for Violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 as the following elements were sufficiently established by the evidence: (1) respondents were public officers discharging administrative, judicial or official functions; (2) respondents have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, and (3) respondents have caused undue injury to any party, including the government, or gave any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of their functions..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110307hed5.html

Come clean on ‘Merci’ impeach, Tupas, justice panel members told 03/07/2011

Come clean on ‘Merci’ impeach, Tupas, justice panel members told

Lawmakers participating in the impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should come clean and tell the panel that they are not going to be biased despite their pending cases before the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to Camiguin Rep. Pedro Romualdo, some of his colleagues in the panel “do not have the face” to admit their possible bias against the Ombudsman.

He was reacting to the statement of justice committee chairman and Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. that the partiality or impartiality of the members of the panel should be judged by the public.

Romualdo said that from the start of the hearings he, Rep. Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur and Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron had already called on Tupas to inhibit because of possible bias relative to the pending graft case filed against his father former Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110307hed6.html

DFA calls on Senate to ratify Rome Statute By Michaela P. del Callar 03/07/2011

DFA calls on Senate to ratify Rome Statute

By Michaela P. del Callar 03/07/2011

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has called on the Senate yesterday to implement effective measures to promote human rights by immediately ratifying the Rome Statute, which established an international tribunal that prosecutes war crimes and other crimes against humanity.

President Aquino, who touts himself as a strong advocate of human rights, signed and endorsed the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Feb. 28 to the Senate, a move which his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, failed to do in her nine-year presidency.

Manila became a signatory to the agreement in Dec. 28, 2000. Since then, 108 countries have already ratified the treaty.

The Philippine military and police have expressed reservations to the statute’s ratification, saying leftist groups may take advantage of the agreement and file frivolous and politically motivated cases against them. The international community led by the United Nations and European Union have scored the Philippines’ dismal human rights record due to continuing incidents of extra-judicial killings of members of militant groups..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110307nat1.html

Ortiz begs from being AFP head candidate 03/07/2011

Ortiz begs from being AFP head candidate

Now it can be told.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz has passed his chance to become the only Medal for Valor awardee to head the 120,000-strong Armed Forces of the Philippines after begging off to President Aquino to be considered for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) top post.

Ortiz was interviewed by Aquino last Jan. 24 as part of the Commander in Chief’s process of selecting the next AFP chief as incumbent AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David Jr. is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 tomorrow.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and David were present during the interview. Initially, Ortiz said he relayed his decision to beg off from being considered for the top AFP post to Gazmin, who himself a former commanding general of the Army during the time of former President Estrada. Ortiz said Gazmin understood his position.

“During my interview with P-Noy (President Aquino) last Jan. 24, I told P-Noy that I felt I could contribute more to the organization if I would be allowed to remain as CGPA (commanding general, Philippine Army) so I could continue what I have started and also undertake other plans and programs for the Army rather than be a short-term CSAFP (chief of staff, AFP),” said Ortiz..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110307nat3.html

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