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Wrong focus EDITORIAL 03/19/2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wrong focus

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
03/19/2011
Some lessons should be learned by this administration with regard to the fate of the Filipino drug mules sentenced to death in China, along with the handling of Filipino workers stranded abroad, either in war-torn countries, or in calamity--ridden countries, such as Japan.

If Noynoy Aquino and his legal team, before deciding to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize rites to curry favor with China, along with the government’s bid to appease China, did their research on Chinese laws, notably on the handing out of death sentences, there wouldn’t be all those moves to save the lives of three drug traffickers.

If they had done their research, they would have found out, as Vice President Jejomar Binay did, before he left for Beijing, China, that there are two types of death sentences meted by the Chinese courts, with one having a death sentence that can, however, be commuted, on good behavior. The other death sentence that can be imposed cannot be commuted, as in the case of the three convicted Filipino drug mules.

Had they studied Chinese laws and become cognizant of them, there would have been no need for Noynoy to go all-out begging for China to save their lives, and no need either for the boycott, which impacted negatively on Noynoy..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110319com1.html

Making a mockery of autonomy FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/19/2011

Making a mockery of autonomy

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
03/19/2011
Rushing a bill to postpone the August elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and synchronizing the polls with the 2013 national polls while kicking out the incumbent elected ARMM officials and replacing them with presidential appointees, smack of a very sinister Palace move.

It is sinister because what Noynoy, his Liberal Party and his allies in the House of Representatives want is to gain total control over ARMM — especially in the 2013 polls, for an LP victory, through its appointed officials, whose top governor-appointee, says Noynoy would be a “public administrator.”

Word has already been making the rounds that Noynoy’s choice of an unelected and unelectable to lead the ARMM is his current political adviser, leftist Rolando Llamas.

The claim is that kicking out the elected officials and replacing them with unelected presidential appointees is to effect reforms in the ARMM, which is much too lame a justification, considering the fact that too many in Noynoy’s executive branch, including Noynoy, can hardly be called “reformers” of government, apart from the proven fact that they even fail at governing..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110319com2.html

Libyan teenager drops Wii for gun to join rebels

Libyan teenager drops Wii for gun to join rebels

focus

03/19/2011
CAIRO — “I just hope they show me how to use a gun,” said the London teenager as he prepared to join rebels in his native Libya fighting to overthrow strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

Sam shifts nervously from foot to foot, his hands gently chopping the air as if to emphasize what motivated him to quit his marketing degree in London, leave his friends behind and head to the frontlines in the Libyan desert.

“I just couldn’t sit there and watch the news, I was going mad. I felt I had to do something, you know whatta mean?” he said in a London accent full of glottal stops and double negatives.

After getting his parents’ approval last week, Sam left for Egypt, where he joined a middle-aged businessman and an older doctor — each with their own past — to cross the border into eastern Libya, get some military training and join the fight..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110319com3.html

Scientists: Effects of Nuclear Situation in Japan Should Not Be Downplayed By Philippine Government

Scientists: Effects of Nuclear Situation in Japan Should Not Be Downplayed By Philippine Government


“The two stations in the Fukushima region reportedly produce the world’s largest joint amount of energy. If complete meltdown occurs in any of the Fukushima reactors, this may lead to a much worse contamination of the atmosphere than the one that was caused by the Chernobyl disaster.” – Dr. Romy Quijano, toxicologist.

By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com
Stop underplaying the possible effects of worsening nuclear trouble in Japan.

This was the call made by one of the country’s leading toxicologists and the scientist group Agham (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) to the Philippine and Japanese governments in the wake of the escalating problems concerning Japan’s nuclear power plants.

Dr. Romy Quijano said government officials and the dominant media should stop downplaying the possibility that the nuclear radiation from Japan will reach the Philippines. He said to say that the radiation leak is minimal and pose no significant health risks is “a gross misrepresentation of facts.”

Quijano is also the president of the Pesticide Action Network Philippines.

Agham for its part said that both the governments of the Philippines and Japan should issue clear guidelines and information regarding the nuclear hazards resulting from the accident in Japan.

Both Agham and Quijano said the growing industrial disasters in the Fukushima reactors in Northeastern Japan should prompt both governments to be transparent in reporting the incidents in order to avoid panic and disruption for both Japanese and Filipinos alike.

“The government of Japan should be transparent and open about telling the world about the updates regarding the nuclear accident,” said Agham in a statement posted on its website.

“Because of rapid developments in the situation of the Fukushima nuclear power plants; and because the Filipino people have had very limited experience in facing nuclear hazards, we call on the Philippine government to plan in advance possible scenarios that could result from the ongoing accident.”

The group said that there should be available data for the public about three- to five-day wind forecasts and the current level of radioactive emissions in the atmosphere.

It pointed out that without clear and official information, it is easy for the public and the media to speculate about the possible effects of this nuclear accident.

“We are also urging citizens to be critical of information being received especially through SMS, social networks and email regarding this matter. We should be responsible in not forwarding unverified information,” the group said.

Radioactive Food Imports

According to reports, President Benigno Aquino III has already instructed authorities to check for radioactivity in food imports from Japan.

“Just as a precaution, imports from Japan, mostly foodstuffs, will be checked for their level of radiation,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said.

Hong Kong’s Food and Health Secretary York Chow has said that the most at-risk articles are fresh products, including dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/03/18/scientists-effects-of-nuclear-situation-in-japan-should-not-be-downplayed-by-philippine-government/

Rights, Church Groups Bring Case of Killing of Botanist to the UN

Rights, Church Groups Bring Case of Killing of Botanist to the UN

The families of the victims and their supporters have expressed fear of a possible whitewash with the report of the Department of Justice and National Bureau of Investigation clearing the military of any responsibility.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Human rights groups in the Philippines filed a complaint against the Philippine government for the killing of botanist Leonard Co and two others before the United Nations, March 14. The groups also called the attention of the international community on the ongoing trial of the Maguindanao massacre and continuing human rights violations under the new administration.

Co, Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo were killed on November 15, 2010 while conducting a research inside the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) compound in Kananga, Leyte. A survivor, Ronino Gibe and other witnesses pointed to the elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army as perpetrators.

Members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines (Ecumenical Voice) handed over the complaint of scientist group Agham (not the party list) to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns. Co was a member of Agham. The group also submitted a copy of the report of an independent fact finding mission on the incident.

Agham urged Heyns to investigate the killing of Co, Cortez and Borromeo, “up to and including all levels of the military command concerned with their shooting.” The families of the victims and their supporters have expressed fear of a possible whitewash with the report of the Department of Justice and National Bureau of Investigation clearing the military of any responsibility.

According to Karapatan, the killings of Co, Cortez and Borromeo were among the first 30 cases of extrajudicial killings committed under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

Members of the Ecumenical Voice went to Geneva, Switzerland for the 16th session of the United National Human Rights Council. The delegation is headed by Philippine Independent Church Bishop Bishop Felixberto Calang and Marie Hilao Enriquez, Karapatan chairwoman.

Maguindanao Massacre, Mindanao Killings

In an oral statement, Calang, also of the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace Mindanao), highlighted the “slow pace of the trial on the Maguindanao massacre” and cases of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/03/18/rights-church-groups-bring-case-of-killing-of-botanist-to-the-un/

Cordillera Health Workers Being Harassed, Threatened

Cordillera Health Workers Being Harassed, Threatened 

Why, they asked, are they being made to suffer human rights violations, when they have only been working for the indigenous farmers, laborers, small-scale miners and urban poor and, in the process, traveling long hours to reach far-flung villages, some of which could only be reached on foot?

By LYN V. RAMO
Bulatlat.com
BAGUIO CITY – Health workers in the Cordillera who have been serving many Igorot tribes amid threats to their safety and lives spoke out recently in a press conference about the harassments they have to face, and the health problems they have been helping to solve.

Three health workers from the Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore) shared harrowing stories of threats and harassment.

Milagros Ao-wat, 57, married with three children, administrative officer and program desk coordinator of Chestcore, got several death threats via cellphone text messages. On December 29, she received six such messages from two different numbers. The person sending the text messages appeared to be an old acquaintance of Ao-wat’s.

Aside from text messages, a stalker has been visiting the Ao-wat residence and even tailed her for several days.

Cynthia Dacanay, 46, married, with two children, a psychologist and medical services desk coordinator of Chestcore, similarly got a threatening text message recently.

Like Ao-wat, Dacanay has also noticed that a driver of a vehicle tailing her stared at her hard. The car with the driver inside parks where Dacanay parks her car.

A younger staff, Rosalinda Suyam, 27, single, Chestcore’s advocacy worker, got many threatening cellphone text messages. Her stalker tailed her to as far as the Lung Center in Quezon City, when Suyam took a patient there for further health checkup.


Members of Chestcore file complaints against the military before the Commission on Human Rights Cordillera Autonomous Region office. (Photo by Artemio Dumlao / bulatlat.com)
Their tales of being under surveillance do not yet approximate the torture and detention of the Morong 43 in the hands of soldiers, but according to the three health workers, they are already gravely affected. And to think, their supporters noted, that these health workers have literally traversed the Cordillera mountain region just to deliver the needed health services that the government could not deliver.

Why, they asked, are they being made to suffer human rights violations, when they have only been working for the indigenous farmers, laborers, small-scale miners and urban poor and, in the process, travel long hours to reach far-flung villages, some of which could only be reached on foot?.... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/03/18/cordillera-health-workers-being-harassed-threatened/

Philippines Continues to Explore Nuclear Option Despite Japan Disaster, Groups Call on Gov’t to Exercise Caution

Philippines Continues to Explore Nuclear Option Despite Japan Disaster, Groups Call on Gov’t to Exercise Caution

Dr. Giovanni Tapang said that the nuclear plant accident in Japan should serve as an ample warning to the Philippine government against rushing headlong into the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

Despite increasingly worrisome reports regarding the explosion in one of Japan’s nuclear power plants after last Friday’s 8.9 earthquake, the Philippine government has announced that it is still determined to explore and consider the nuclear energy option.

Energy officials said that the Aquino government would take the Japan disaster into consideration before it comes up with any policy decision regarding the development of nuclear energy as a power source in the country.

Energy Undersecretary Josefina P. Asirit said that as things stand, there is no existing Philippine policy on the use of atomic power. In interviews with the media, she said the disaster in Japan would not stop an ongoing technical study because, as she said, the government and its responsible agencies ” want to be kept abreast of technological innovations.”

Last January, the Korean firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) announced that it would participate in the conduct of a feasibility study on the safety of nuclear energy in the Philippines. According to reports, the company has declared its readiness to join any bidding on nuclear energy development.

A government owned-utility, Kepco is the world’s third largest nuclear energy provider with an installed nuclear generation capacity of 17,716 megawatts as of end-2008.

The Korean company has already conducted a feasibility study on the revival of the BNPP and said that re-powering it would cost at least $1 billion.

Based on a company profile, Kepco operates 20 commercial nuclear power units as of 2009, with eight more units currently under construction and an additional 10 units planned to be built by 2030.

A Cautious Approach to Nuclear Power

In the meantime, the Department of Energy (DoE) has said that it would continue to uphold its commitments to “harmonize” the Philippines’ nuclear power development program with counterparts in the Southeast Asian region. At the end of last year, the DoE announced that it would jumpstart this year its own technical study leading to that policy direction..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/03/16/philippines-continues-to-explore-nuclear-option-despite-japan-disaster-groups-call-on-govt-to-exercise-caution/

Capt. Joenel Pogoy, One of Those Who Exposed Corruption in the AFP Even Before the Garcia Probe

Capt. Joenel Pogoy, One of Those Who Exposed Corruption in the AFP Even Before the Garcia Probe

Air Force Captain Joenel Pogoy, 35, was preparing for his thesis for a squadron officer’s course in Mactan Air Base in Lapu Lapu, Cebu, when his video about corruption inside the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was uploaded in You Tube without his permission. This cost him his career, freedom, and almost, his life.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – It is a surprise to see men in uniform, officers at that, almost trembling and asking for guarantees for their safety and that of their families before testifying about the corruption in the Armed Forces during the Senate investigation into the plea bargain agreement entered into by the Office of the Ombudsman with former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia. It’s as if they were testifying against the bosses of the dreaded Mafia. And they earned praises for it. But those who did similar deeds before them did not get the same privileges and praise. Others paid for it with their careers or worse, their lives. For former Air Force Captain Joenel S. Pogoy, exposing corruption in the AFP sent him to prison and almost cost him his life.

Pogoy, 35, was preparing for his thesis for a squadron officer’s course in Mactan Air Base in Lapu Lapu, Cebu, when his video about corruption inside the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was uploaded in You Tube without his permission.
In the video, Pogoy exposed irregularities in how the budget was spent in the PAF. “If there are four aircrafts in the PAF, only two are running as indicated in the yearly allocated flying time while the other two are being cannibalized by the PAF,” Pogoy said in the video. Cannibalization, Pogoy explained, is the process by which spare parts of an aircraft are replaced by old ones. To cover this up, PAF had procurement papers as proof that the spare parts are all brand new.

In October 2008, Pogoy was detained inside the Villamor Airbase in Taguig City for allegedly violating Articles of War 64, (behaving with disrespect toward his superior officer), 96 (conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman), and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

Illegal Detention? 

Pogoy said there was no legal basis for his detention. “My lawyer, Atty. Rey Cortez filed a motion for my release because the charges were administrative but the court-martial did not grant the release because they insisted that my case was criminal in nature.”.... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/03/16/capt-joenel-pogoy-one-of-those-who-exposed-corruption-in-the-afp-even-before-the-garcia-probe/

Libya pounds rebel bastion as UN OKs air attacks 03/19/2011

KADHAFI SHUTS DOWN AIR SPACE

Libya pounds rebel bastion as UN OKs air attacks

03/19/2011
After the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted to approve air attacks with the No-Fly Zone and use military force to protect the Libyan rebels, while ruling out ground troops, Agence France Presse reported that fighting between insurgents and forces loyal to strongman Moamer Kadhafi raged Friday in the rebel-held towns of Zintan, Nalut and Misrata in western Libya, witnesses and rebel sources said.

Kadhafi closed down airspace after the UNSC’s announced air attack.

Kadhafi forces attacked Zintan, 120 kilometers southwest of Tripoli, late Thursday “and there were violent clashes with the rebels,” a resident, reached by telephone, told AFP.

“The fighting was continuing Friday morning. There are casualties on both sides,” he added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110319hed1.html

Palace cuts SC justices’ retirement pay in half; judges boo Abad By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/19/2011

 Palace cuts SC justices’ retirement pay in half; judges boo Abad
By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/19/2011

President Aquino and his allies’ vindictiveness toward the high court justices not appointed by him has spread into slashing even their retirement pay.

Malacañang’s proposal to cut in half P1.3 million a Supreme Court (SC) justice receives when he steps down is the latest flashpoint in the tribunal’s high profile standoff between magistrates identified with Malacanang and those supposedly allied with the camp of former President Gloria Arroyo.

A source in the high court said the resolution has been issued but has since been withdrawn and would have cut to P650,000 the amount to be received by outgoing magistrates.

In the late President Cory Aquino’s time, and on a “revolving door” policy in the matter of chief justices’ appointments, the retirement pay of an SC justice was raised to P1 million. That was some 25 years ago. Cutting the retirement of the retiring SC justice would reduce the already measly retirement pay to peanuts, considering how little the peso buys these days..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110319hed2.html

Noy certifies poll delay bill as urgent; 4 ARMM govs called in to boost bid By Aytch S. de la Cruz 03/19/2011

Noy certifies poll delay bill as urgent; 4 ARMM govs called in to boost bid

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 03/19/2011

Malacañang will not rest until it convinces every member of the legislative department to have the bill seeking the rescheduling of the 2011 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections to be passed into law right on time.

Such objective was strongly manifested yesterday as Palace officials presented at a news conference four ARMM governors to publicly declare their support to the plans of Aquino for their region as presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda lamented the “scant reports” they are getting from the print media regarding this matter.

Present were GovernorsAbdusakur Tan (Sulu), Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao), Sadikul Sahali (Tawi-Tawi) and Jum Jainuddin-Akbar (Basilan) – all of whom affixed their signatures in a manifesto to put across their consent in the postponement of the scheduled ARMM elections this August..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110319hed3.html

Japan hikes Fukushima crisis level to 5 03/19/2011

Japan hikes Fukushima crisis level to 5

03/19/2011
OSAKA — Japan’s nuclear safety agency on Friday raised the Fukushima crisis level to five from four on the international scale of gravity for atomic accidents which goes to as high as seven.

The decision by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) puts Fukushima on the same level as the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and makes it the worst ever in Japan.

UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said Friday that Japan’s battle to stabilize a crippled nuclear plant was “a race against time.”

“This is a very grave and serious accident,” he said after meeting Prime Minister Naoto Kan, referring to the stricken Fukushima plant..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110319hed4.html

Malacañang optimistic of Ombudsman conviction 03/19/2011

Malacañang optimistic of Ombudsman conviction

03/19/2011
Sheer optimism was the least Malacañang could exude when confronted yesterday with a possible scenario that the impeach-ment bid against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez might turn out unsuccessful once it gets elevated to the Senate.

Deputy presidential spokes-man Abigail Valte indicated that Malacañang is not prepared for an acquittal of Gutierrez by the Senate whose members ap-parently struggle to maintain independence following the recent “uncommon” visit paid by Liberal Party Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III to President Aquino.

“At this point, we have to be very optimistic on what is going to happen and, again, we are hoping that the proceedings (will) take their course,” Valte told reporters at a press briefing.

Malacañang would not accept a disappointing end on its bid to have Gutierrez ousted just so the President can finally install a new head at the Office of the Ombudsman who, Valte said, will genuinely support the aims of the Aquino administration to curb the longstanding problems of corruption in the country. .... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110319hed5.html

Koreans topped list of foreign students in RP 03/19/2011

Koreans topped list of foreign students in RP

03/19/2011
Students from South Korea topped the list of foreigners who took up elementary and high school education and short-term courses in the Philippines last year, statistics from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) showed yesterday.

Statistics from the BI student desk section disclosed a total of 26,823 Korean students have valid special study permits (SSPs) issued by the bureau.

Existing BI rules require foreigners who wish to take up elementary, high school and special courses in a Philippine school to apply for an SSP. “The SSP is different from the student visa or so-called 9(f) visa, which is issued to a foreigner taking up tertiary education in a Philippine college or university,” Teodulo Estrada, chief of the student desk, explained.

Estrada said he expects the number SSP applicants to shoot up further in June when the next school year opens..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110319met5.html

Leyte, Bohol placed under state of calamity By Mario J. Mallari 03/19/2011

Leyte, Bohol placed under state of calamity

By Mario J. Mallari 03/19/2011

The provinces of Leyte and Bohol were placed under the state of calamity after massive flooding hit the areas due to continuous heavy rains in the Visayas region that already claimed the lives of nine persons.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that the two additional fatalities came from Leyte and Bohol provinces where widespread flooding was reported, prompting local officials to declare state of calamity.

Reports from the NDRRMC identified the two latest fatalities as 65-year-old Armando Buticarlo, who died of drowning in Bohol, and Leo Espina, of Palo, Leyte who was electrocuted.

The NDRRMC said that some 3,130 families or 15,398 people from Bohol, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Misamis Oriental, and South Cotabato..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110319nat1.html

Angara seeks creation of regional training center for disaster management 03/19/2011

Angara seeks creation of regional training center for disaster management

03/19/2011
As provinces in Visayas and Mindanao struggle to recover from calamity, Sen. Edgardo Angara sought the immediate establishment of the Disaster Science Management Center, a proposed regional training center for disaster preparedness.

Non-stop rains since last Wednesday morning caused intense flooding and landslides in Visayas and Mindanao, prompting local officials to declare a State of Calamity in Leyte, where thousands were forced to flee their homes.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Philippine branch of the Red Cross have joined forces to put together a search-and-rescue team for those still missing in Eastern Visayas.

“We are witnessing the sheer power of nature — first through the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and then now, here, with the flash floods and landslides in Visayas and Mindanao,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune


URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110319nat4.html

Balikatan exercises to push through on April 5 By Mario J. Mallari 03/19/2011

Balikatan exercises to push through on April 5

By Mario J. Mallari 03/19/2011

The ongoing massive disaster response operations in Japan, where United States servicemen are now involved, will not hinder the holding of next month’s joint Balikatan exercises between the Philippine and US militaries, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said yesterday.

At a press briefing, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. said that the RP-US Balikatan exercises scheduled on April 5 to 15 will push through in spite of the series on incidents in Japan where a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck last March 11, triggering tsunami resulting in massive destruction.

Explosions were also recorded from nuclear power plants in Japan’s northeastern part, sparking threat of possible radiation leak.

“We would like to inform everyone that even if there is series of disasters in Japan right now, the Balikatan will push through… at this time, we see no reason why it will not push through,” said Mabanta..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110319nat7.html

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