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Too tempting to resist EDITORIAL 03/25/2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Too tempting to resist

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
03/25/2011
Will the Senate allies of Noynoy now move to probe the use of the Motor Vehicle Users’ Charge (MVUC) funds as bribe for members of the House of Representatives to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez and to approve the measure seeking to postpone the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls to allow Noynoy to place his appointees in the Muslim region as alleged by a member of the House majority who chose not to be identified for the moment?
The controversial multibillion-peso money pool, which has been noted for its unusual set-up in its collection, freeing it practically from state audit that makes it practically the administration in power’s petty cash fund, was vowed to be abolished by Noynoy’s allies in the Senate since they consider it as a main source of money for corruption.

Efforts to have it abolished seem to be moving grudgingly slow, however, until the campaign in the House to boot out Merci, who is among Noy’s bete noire. Noynoy has launched an open war against Merci and members of the Supreme Court, whom he branded as obstructions to his supposed programs to reform the government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110325com1.html

Same dog, same collar FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/25/2011

Same dog, same collar

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
03/25/2011
Noynoy Aquino, if successful in his vindictive politics, would be setting very dangerous precedents and practices — even more dangerous than those of the previous administration.

He has already improved on the practice of bribing and prostituting the House of Representatives, offering even bigger sums — in the millions — and from the Road User’s tax, to get an “overwhelming” yes vote for the impeachment of the Ombudsman, with the next impeachment target being the majority of the Supreme Court (SC) justices whom he sees as yet another “stumbling block” to his hypocritical reform program and anti-corruption campaign. And as Noynoy bribes and clearly calls the shots in the House, what happens then, should an impeachment complaint be filed against him for betrayal of public trust? Naturally, the same impeach-happy solons will quickly dismiss the complaint as Nonoy is their patron saint of bribery.

He has also succeeded in getting an unconstitutional measure passed by the House postponing the polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, with the additional power granted him to eject the incumbent elected ARMM officials who will then be replaced with his personally picked appointees as officers in charge (OICs) who would sit till the ARMM polls are synchronized.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110325com2.html

It’s not over NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 03/25/2011

It’s not over

NO HOLDS BARRED
Armida Siguion-Reyna
03/25/2011
His presence in China delayed the original execution of the three Filipino drug mules in China. But since even at his most hopeful, Vice President Jejomar Binay did not say anything about the trio’s commutation of punishment from death to life imprisonment, I’m not surprised to hear about Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain facing a firing squad on March 30.

I don’t want this to happen. I grieve that this is going to happen.

Still, sed lex, dura lex, as it goes in Latin. No matter the law is harsh, it has to be upheld, it has to be applied. Under Chinese laws, the smuggling of illegal drugs is punishable by death. It can’t be said China is downright cruel, it is lenient toward those apprehended with less than 50 grams, of, say, heroin. You’re caught with more than that, and everything else hits the fan.

Batain was arrested first, with 6,800 grams of heroin, on May 24, 2008, in Shenzen. Ordinario-Villanueva was next, with 4,110 grams of the same on Dec. 24, 2008, in Xiamen. Credo, with 4,113 grams again of heroin, four days later, on Dec. 28, also in Xiamen..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110325com5.html

Pakistan workers seek escape after Bahrain attacks FEATURE 03/25/2011

Pakistan workers seek escape after Bahrain attacks

FEATURE

03/25/2011
MANAMA — Javid Eqbal toiled in Bahrain to earn his family’s living, only to be attacked with swords by alleged Shiite protesters who loathed Pakistanis for being the foot soldiers of the security forces.

Living in fear of being targeted again, and sheltering at the Pakistani Club in Manama, all he wants now is to get his passport back from his local sponsor and to go home, after at least one Pakistani was killed last week.

Like most Asian workers in the Gulf, he had a low-paid job as a painter. And on March 13, he and his flatmates became victims of the intensified clashes between the predominantly Shiite protesters and police.

That night, Eqbal and his flatmates awoke to find youths breaking into their place, brandishing swords, hammers and steel rods..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110325com7.html

Tsunami survivors search for bodies to mourn focus 03/25/2011

Tsunami survivors search for bodies to mourn

focus

03/25/2011
MINAMISANRIKU — “Female, 20s, shoulder-length black hair, possible bank worker.”
It’s a painfully thin description, like so many on the lists of unclaimed bodies posted in tsunami-struck towns across northeast Japan.

In the devastated fishing port of Minamisanriku, where thousands of people are missing but only 300 bodies have been found, it’s also a cruelly vague lead for the many desperate survivors looking for lost family members.

After nearly two weeks of search-and-rescue missions that now only uncover the occasional body in what was once a picturesque town of 18,000, many people of Minamisanriku accept that the “missing” are most probably dead..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110325com8.html

Push geothermal, study thorium DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 03/25/2011

Push geothermal, study thorium

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
03/25/2011
Energy in the Philippines is indeed the highest in Asia and one of the most dependent on outside sources. If those of you in the Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) franchise area, comprising almost 70 percent of all electricity consuming households and industries, have noticed an apparent lowering of power rates the past month, it’s definitely not because of that utility company’s lower distribution rates that are fixed at an exorbitant amount.

Under the prevailing system, which is based on the totally distorted Performance Based Rate-setting scheme of the Energy Regulatory Commission, even as exchange rates affect the generation charge significantly (as does the weather), the overcharging in distribution, supply and metering will simply stay the same and continue to be a festering issue for consumers.

Still, despite the high power costs, very little new power plants have been set up. An oft-cited but scarcely explained excuse is that so-called “investors” have only been able to take over decades-old thermal, hydro and geothermal plants — which is why a revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) has been repeatedly proposed, supposedly to make up for the lack.

The ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis has undoubtedly put the brakes on the BNPP revival plan for now. Its proponent, Mark Cojuangco, has declared a momentary freeze on it as anti-nuke detractors are having a field day lambasting nuclear power, with many otherwise sane people falling into the bandwagon of recoiling from all things nuclear.

One particular individual I berated for this panic reaction (who praised an inveterate obfuscator, Gloria Arroyo economic adviser Joey Salceda, for hurriedly issuing a mea culpa for his previous support for the BNPP revival plan) has shown that we all need to counter whatever irrational, unscientific, as well as opportunistic responses there are from loudmouths who only seek to get on the good side of a nuke-fearing public at the height of the current scare.

Although I, too, am against the revival of the BNPP and have relentlessly pushed for the doubling of this country’s geothermal capacity, I am also against the “nuke from the hip” stance of opponents of fission-based power because there is a real scientific alternative.

On my Global News Network TV show last Tuesday, I invited the eminent Filipino physicist, Dr. Roger Posadas, former Chancellor of the University of the Philippines (UP), who still teaches science courses at the premier state university. In particular, I was interested to bring to the public his knowledge of an old alternative in nuclear power which the US and the other nuclear nations never developed because, in contrast to uranium fuel-based nuclear reactors that were preferred because these offered weapons grade by-products, this other nuclear fuel promised non-proliferation, given its non-weapons grade waste materials.

This material for fuel is none other than “Thorium” (symbol Th, number 90 on the Periodic Table of Elements), an element that is four times more abundant in nature than uranium and available in large quantities, such as in the monazite sands of Palawan.

Thorium reactors were already operating in experimental models in the 1950s when the world was still in the idyllic post-war period of the “Atoms for Peace” program; but the US was at a crossroads then between genuine use of atomic knowledge for peace and its necessity for political power. The latter won out, of course, and uranium-based nuclear reactors became de rigueur as the sole technology for all US nuclear power plants despite all the inherent dangers and highly radioactive wastes that take 10,000 years to decay (which moreover require astronomically expensive facilities to store and contain).

The thorium alternative’s advantage when compared to uranium as fuel is briefly summarized by Turkish nuclear expert Ayhan Demirbas and quoted on Wikipedia: “Weapons-grade fissionable material (U-233) is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor; thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste; thorium comes out of the ground as a 100 percent pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7-percent fissionable U-235; thorium can not sustain a nuclear chain reaction without priming, so fission stops by default… unlike uranium-based breeder reactors, thorium requires a start-up by neutrons from a uranium reactor… (with experts noting that) ‘the second thorium reactor may activate a third thorium reactor’… (which) could continue in a chain of reactors for a millennium if we so choose’… (thereby adding) that because of thorium’s abundance, it will not be exhausted in 1,000 years.”

So, there’s nuclear power apart from uranium after all; and that’s thorium.

At the end of my one hour-program with Dr. Roger Posadas, I summed up my view: Push geothermal, study thorium. But Dr. Posadas was far ahead. He wants UP to restore the Nuclear Physics studies that were scrapped after the BNPP was mothballed. He also wants the country to “leapfrog” into thorium energy technology development in order to join China and India in the race to produce the first commercially-viable thorium power plant, which can be as small as 1 megawatt to as large as 1 gigawatt, and be as democratic as geothermal power.

I proposed that we start an advocacy and educational movement for the thorium alternative, and there is an international Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA) to link up with. Among other things, reducing fossil fuel, coal and other polluting energy sources will significantly reduce medical costs for lung problems that are currently costing billions annually. For this and several other compelling reasons, we have to start this initiative NOW.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM dwAD; TNT with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8, on “The Merci Show and Other Zarzuelas;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus select radio and GNN shows)
 (Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)
 

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110325com6.html

Solons warned on impeaching SC justices By Gerry Baldo 03/25/2011

Solons warned on impeaching SC justices

By Gerry Baldo 03/25/2011
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., whose latest survey findings showing that in performance and trustworthiness he is one of the national officials having a large number of ambivalent poll respondents, yesterday cautioned lawmakers to be more circumspect in their plan to impeach some justices of the Supreme Court, even as he said that the legislature will have its hands full with another impeachment complaint.

Belmonte and his congressmen are seen by some sectors of society as having rammed the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, with an overkill in the Yes votes last Monday, and public specula-tion is one that says President Aquino will be using this tool of impeachment against the majority of SC justices, led by Chief Justice Renato Corona, to whom Aquino appears to be allergic and has made no bones to get him and the other justices appointed by the former president, Rep. Gloria Arroyo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110325hed2.html

Noy inviting mob rule with people support call for Merci’s conviction By Charlie V. Manalo 03/25/2011

Noy inviting mob rule with people support call for Merci’s conviction

By Charlie V. Manalo 03/25/2011

President Aquino is no believer of the rule of law. Instead indications point to his embracing the rule of force, or mob rule.

This was the gist of the comment made by a former congressman.

The former member of the House of Representatives yesterday warned President Aquino that he could be courting trouble for calling on the people to support the impeachment case against Chief Ombudsman Merceditas “Merci” Gutierrez.

At the weekly Usaping Balita sa Serye, former Quezon City Rep. Mat Defensor said Aquino is inviting mob rule by encouraging a trial by publicity against the Ombudsman..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110325hed3.html

Ligots ordered arrested; Isafp graft bared By Angie M. Rosales 03/25/2011

Ligots ordered arrested; Isafp graft bared

By Angie M. Rosales 03/25/2011

Lying to the Senate and faking illnesses can get resource persons and witnesses arrested and detained.

For doing just that, former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot and his wife Erlinda now face arrest and detention by the blue ribbon panel investigators in the upper chamber for being no-shows at yesterday’s hearing, then later discovering that the Ligot couple faked their illness in their bid to evade appearing before the Senate and being made to testify under oath.

Former AFP Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu was also a no-show, giving the excuse, in a letter, complete with an explanation and supporting documents, that he had to go to his province in Ilocos Norte to attend to the needs of his ailing father.

It would have been a face-off between Cimatu and former civilian budget officer Perla Valerio, the latest surprise witness who corroborated claims made by former military budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa on the matter of fund releases to former comptroller of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (Isafp) Col. Cirilo Thomas Donato Jr..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110325hed1.html

China warns against S. China Sea oil exploration 03/25/2011

China warns against S. China Sea oil exploration

03/25/2011
BEIJING — China warned yesterday against any oil exploration without its consent in waters it claims in the South China Sea after the Philippines announced plans for possible drilling.

Manila’s Department of Energy said Wednesday that UK-based Forum Energy had completed a seismic survey for the Reed Bank, near the disputed Spratly Islands.

The Spratlys are called the Nansha Islands in Chinese and claimed by Beijing.

“China holds indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent sea waters,” foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told reporters when asked for comment on the plan.

“Any activities by countries or companies to explore for oil or gas in the sea waters in China’s jurisdiction without the permission of the Chinese government will constitute a violation of China’s sovereignty and ... will be illegal and invalid.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110325nat4.html

Woman radio broadcaster slain in Malabon By Arlie O. Calalo 03/25/2011

Woman radio broadcaster slain in Malabon

By Arlie O. Calalo 03/25/2011

A woman radio broadcaster was gunned down by two assassins yesterday morning in Malabon City while on her way to the radio station where she was working.

The Northern Police District (NPD) immediately formed Task Force Somera tasked get to the bottom of the incident which resulted in the death of 44-year-old Len Flores-Somera, an anchor woman of dzME, and a resident of Silonian Street, Barangay Maysilo, NPD director Chief Supt. Edgardo Ladao told Tribune.

This as Malabon Mayor Canuto “Tito” Oreta and National Press Club president Jerry Yap condemned in the strongest terms the killing of Somera as they dared the concerned authorities to unmask and arrest the killers and possibly the brains in the soonest time possible.

“It’s another black-eye for our profession for us being members of the so-called Fourth Estate with the ambush and killing of Ms. Somera who is known to be a low-key radio broadcaster for years,” Yap lamented..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110325met2.html

Prosecutors dismiss falsification raps filed by PNP against LTO chief, 2 others By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/25/2011

Prosecutors dismiss falsification raps filed by PNP against LTO chief, 2 others

By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/25/2011

Prosecutors have dismissed the charges for falsification filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) against embattled Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Virginia Torres and two others.

In a resolution, the Department of Justice (DoJ) through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano and Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong ruled to “dismiss for utter lack of merit” the criminal charges against Torres, car owner Dimsy Yap of La Trinidad, Benguet and Samuel Fernandez.

Fernandez was driving Yap’s blue Pajero when it was flagged down by members of the PNP Highway Patrol Group of Cordillera after noticed its “inappropriate” plate number: RJP 111.

Subsequent investigations by the police showed while the vehicle’s chassis, plate and engine number matched the papers supplied by its owners to police the “MV” or motor vehicle number in the certificate of registration was dubious..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110325met1.html

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