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Malevolent control EDITORIAL 09/17/2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Malevolent control

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Noynoy and his Budget secretary, Butch Abad, can deny it till they are blue in the face, but it can hardly be denied that their move to control the judiciary and congressional funds by way of having these two co-equal branches of government come a-begging to them for their funds is a wicked Palace plan to make these two other branches toe the Malacañang line.

Any which way one cuts it, it all boils down to the same conclusion: Palace control over the two separate and co-equal branches, in the Palace’s bid to coerce them into submission.

The executive, when it needs legislative measures, needs the legislature to pass them. When it moves unconstitutionally, such as the postponing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), while vesting Noynoy with the power to appoint officers in charge instead of having the ARMM electorate democratically elect their leaders, Noynoy needs the approval of the Supreme Court.

And Noynoy’s way to get what he wants from the two other branches, is to control their moves through his, and his Budget secretary’s control over their funds.
..... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110917com1.html

Path to power and control FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 09/17/2011

Path to power and control

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
What has become fairly clear is that the national budget under the Noynoy administration, handled by his Budget secretary, Butch Abad, has become too much of a political tool for political longevity and control instead of a tool to effect good governance.

Those whose departments and agencies are headed by Noynoy and the Roxas-Balay faction get bigger funds that they can’t even seem to explain how money is to be used, while those headed by officials who are seen to be “foes” of Noynoy get big cuts in their budgets.

A case in point is the current proposed budget of the Office of the Peace Adviser, Teresita Deles, who was allotted P569.64 for her budget, which is said to be an increase of some 142 percent from her 2011 budget, but who, during the congressional budget hearing recently, failed to explain how and even where she would be spending such funds in the budget.

Then too, it was also found that while there is an allotment for her office to spend P350,000 on each conflict-affected and donation areas, Deles admitted that there are still no guidelines issued for this subsidy program, since the government still has to come up with such guidelines..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110917com2.html

Against the grain, ‘caveman’ diet gains traction FEATURE 09/17/2011

Against the grain, ‘caveman’ diet gains traction


WASHINGTON — Could Paleolithic man hold the key to today’s nutrition problems?

A growing number of adherents to the so-called “caveman” diet contend that a return to the hunter-gatherer foods of the Stone Age — heavy on meats, devoid of most grains — could alleviate problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes and many coronary problems.

The Paleo diet movement is backed by some academics and fitness gurus, and has gained some praise in medical research in the US and elsewhere even though it goes against recommendations of most mainstream nutritionists and government guidelines.

Loren Cordain, a professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University, said he believes millions in the United States and elsewhere are following the Paleo diet movement, based on sales of books such as his own and Internet trends..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110917com3.html

Wikileaks bares extent of US interference in Philippine affairs

Wikileaks bares extent of US interference in Philippine affairs

"What makes this not-so-new discoveries amazing is how everything - the interference, the spying, the continuous intervention into even the Philippines' legislative and judicial affairs - is written down." - Renato Reyes of Bayan

Sidebar: US lobbied against Cheaper Medicines Act

US admits role in opposing Sison’s exclusion from terrorist List

Wikileaks cables about the Philippines and how the United States continues to interfere in its internal affairs are keeping the secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan up all night.

For the last two to three weeks, BAYAN's Renato Reyes has been spending hours reading cables from the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks featuring messages sent by former United States ambassador to Philippine Kristie Kenney to the White House.

WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organization that declares itself as a champion of press freedom. It was formed in 2007 and has released more classified intelligence documents over the internet than the rest of the world press combined. It has won two awards, the 2008 Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award and the 2009 Amnesty International human rights reporting award (New Media).

"Reading all this information is mind blowing - you're reading proof about how deep the interference of the US runs when it comes to the Philippine economic and political affairs," he said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.

Reyes has taken two days to sort out into different categories literally hundreds of Wikileaks cables, and hundreds of others he admits to not yet having read or analyzed sufficiently. Despite not having gone through every cable, however, Reyes is prepared to make what he insists is already a conclusion patently obvious to anyone who keeps an eye on the political workings of the country.

"The US definitely has more than a passing interest in the Philippines and it is by no means passive. Of course we have known this all along because there's already a long and tragic history of how the Philippines has suffered under US colonial rule. In the last century we have also seen how the US never let go of one of its favorite colonies and ensured that it has maintained an iron-grip on Philippine affairs and strong control over the country's natural resources. What makes this not-so-new discoveries amazing is how everything - the interference, the spying, the continuous intervention into even the Philippines' legislative and judicial affairs - is written down," he said.

In his blog "Like a Rolling Store," Reyes analyzed some of the more controversial Wikileaks cables featuring Kenney's correspondence with her White House superiors. He said Kenney is "not a writer" and that her cables mostly sounded like "press releases."

"The tone of her cables is often optimistic - like she's always celebrating her and the US embassy's achievements and how Philippine authorities are so welcoming and even eager to give her information," he said.

The following are some of Kenney's observations on a myriad of topics.

On the May 2010 polls and then presidential contender Benigno Aquino III after meeting him: ""Senator Noynoy" seemed more at ease trading quips with his running mate or reminiscing about his parents than in describing his policy views, which he delineated more in negative terms. Where Senator Aquino was most comfortable was in talking about the past - parents and family, the 1987 coup attempt, the bloody HUK rebellion".

Kenney's assessment of the 2008 ARMM elections where Zaldy Ampatuan garnered 93 percent of total votes: "While the ARMM elections were not perfect, COMELEC demonstrated that it can run an efficient and, for the most part, clean automated election that required sophisticated management capabilities and extensive training of election workers, volunteers, and voting machine technicians."

Her take on the hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the VFA: "Critics of the U.S.-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) turned out in force for an August 27 oversight hearing chaired by one of the Philippines most strident and thorny politicians, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. She is one of the Philippines' most vociferous and domineering politicians, was among the leading skeptics".

Kenney on the controversial and much-abhorred Subic rape case: " The burst of activity surrounding LCpl Smith in the past few weeks validates once again this Mission's - and the U.S. government's - intensive focus over the past three years on this highly fraught controversy, which has serious consequences not only for LCpl Smith, but the most crucial elements of our diplomatic and military ties with the Philippines".

Wikileaks on the US views on the worsening human rights situation

According to Reyes, there are also numerous embassy cables on the US position regarding extrajudicial killings in the country.

"My own estimate is that there were more than 40 cables that referenced extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. These cables ranged from scene setters for visiting US officials, to actual reports on the actions taken by the US embassy and the Philippine government on EJKs," he said.

From 2004-2010, human rights violations in the country were recorded by the thousands, and the number of political activists and human rights advocates abducted and killed also broke the thousand mark.

"It's true that various US agencies issued strong statements of concern to address the killings of activists and journalists; but the truth is the US continued to provide economic and military aid to the then Macapagal- Arroyo government. While the US said 'there's more that needs to be done', the US also noted progress in the human rights situation as well as Arroyo's 'seriousness' in addressing the problem," he said.

Reyes cited a cable dated April 20, 2007 detailing former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita's explanations on the killings. In it, Kenney said that Ermita provided a detailed historical account of the communist insurgency.

"He argued that the killings did not take place in a vacuum but instead occur in the context of the Philippines' war against the terrorist Communist insurgency. He underscored that the National (sic) People's Army (NPA), the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines, routinely ambushes and kills members of the AFP. 'There is a war going on,' he emphasized," Kenney wrote..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/16/wikileaks-bares-extent-of-us-interference-in-philippine-affairs/

After 60 years, US-RP defense pact ‘proved useless, disadvantageous to Philippines’

“This treaty and the US have not really helped in AFP modernization. It only enhanced its dependence and derogated Philippine sovereignty.” – Satur Ocampo

MANILA — The RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) is said to be the “mother of all unequal military treaties and agreements” the Philippines has entered into with the US since achieving independence in 1946. In its 60 years of existence, it has proved useless for the Philippines, said various critics. For Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan, the MDT’s call to respond or assist each other, “subject to Constitutional processes,” has not been tested until 9/11. But he noted that the US did not invoke the MDT even then, as it had called for a “coalition of the willing instead.” Yet, the MDT remains in force up to now.

According to geopolitics expert Prof. Roland Simbulan, some examples of the unequal agreements inked to “operationalize” the MDT are the US-RP Military Assistance Agreement which was renamed into US-RP Military Advisory Group in the 50s, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Servicing Agreement. He said the US military bases agreement, the renewal of which the Philippine Senate rejected amid a strong campaign for its abrogation conducted by progressive groups twenty years ago, in 1991, also traced its roots from the MDT.

(Read: A symbol of subservience, a milestone in the struggle for national sovereignty)
Satur Ocampo recalled that in 1991 when the Philippine Senate disapproved the extension of the military bases agreement, there were proposals already to abolish the MDT because it is “not applicable anymore.”

Activists marked the 20th anniversary of Senate rejection of US military bases.(Photo by Gregorio B. Dantes Jr. / bulatlat.com)
But the senators who claimed to support proposals to abrogate the MDT did not push for it. The neglect allowed for the drawing up of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which the Senate approved in 1999. Ocampo recalled that the “proponents of the presence of US military troops here had used the MDT to approve the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). He described the VFA as “an extension of the MDT.” Progressive organizations dubbed the VFA and the MLSA as agreements that circumvent the earlier senate rejection of the bases extension.
The MDT was invoked recently by Malacañang when the Spratlys issue heated up, said Ocampo. But the fact that current President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had to ask for US military assistance to bolster its confidence in asserting territorial claims over a group of islets also revealed the weaknesses of the country’s armed forces, thus reviving as well the calls to abolish the “useless,” “no longer applicable” MDT..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/16/after-60-years-us-rp-defense-pact-proved-useless-disadvantageous-to-philippines/

Public Private Partnerships in education, health ‘more costly’– ACT Teachers Party

Public Private Partnerships in education, health ‘more costly’– ACT Teachers Party

“The financial cost of repaying the capital investment of Private Finance Initiative investors is therefore considerably greater than the equivalent repayment of direct government investment.” – England’s House of Commons Treasury Committee

MANILA — ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio called on other members of the House of Representatives to remove the funding for public private partnership (PPP) from the national budget for 2012, citing that PPP would only turn out to be more expensive than government funding, as evident in the experience of other countries.

As contained in Aquino’s 2012 proposed budget, Aquino said public private partnerships would resolve the shortages in infrastructure such as school buildings and hospitals. “The private sector will finance and build classrooms while government pays them an annual amortization over a period of several years,” Tinio said.
Education secretary Armin Luistro earlier floated the idea that private institutions could be contracted to run public schools. “Technically, I can have a public school, I approach a foundation and say why don’t you run this school and we will support you with the following subsidies, and then you make them autonomous?” Luistro said.

This year, P5 billion ($115.7 million) would be allocated in the implementation of PPP schemes for the education sector. The Department of Budget and Management said it would “fast-track the construction of schools,” and as many as 60,000 classrooms would be constructed this year under the PPP.
Tinio cited a study by the Canadian Union of Public Employees which revealed that “for every two schools financed through P3s in Alberta (Canada), an additional school could be built for the same cost, if all were built using traditional public sector contracting models.”

Tinio added that Canada’s experience in PPPs show that it would cost more if infrastructure projects were funded by private institutions. “Malacanang must first make the case before the public that taxpayers will get better value for money through PPPs. We challenge them, show us the numbers first.”

Health sector 

Aside from education, the health sector, too, according to Tinio, would suffer in the end if Congress will not reject Aquino’s proposal to privatize the maintenance and operations of 25 regional public hospitals in the country.

In House plenary deliberations last September 12, Tinio questioned the $71.4 million allocation for Public Private Partnership Strategic Support Fund for the rehabilitation, maintenance and operation of the 25 hospitals. He called on his colleagues to realign it instead as an additional fund for its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and Capital Outlay..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/16/public-private-partnerships-in-education-health-more-costly-act-teachers-party/

Piston sets Sept. 19 strike as Malacañang dialogue gave nothing “concrete”

Piston sets Sept. 19 strike as Malacañang dialogue gave nothing “concrete”

The transport groups issued the announcement amidst efforts by Malacañang to scuttle and threaten the planned strike of the transport sector against oil overpricing, taxes, numerous fees and penalties.


MANILA – A day after the “disappointing” dialogue with President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in Malacañang, the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) and other transport groups in Metro Manila and other regions declared that they will push through with their planned strike on Sept 19, Monday.

The transport groups issued the announcement amidst efforts by Malacañang to scuttle and threaten the planned strike of the transport sector against oil overpricing, taxes, numerous fees and penalties.

San Mateo said they attended the dialogue in Malacañang “with an open mind.” But President Aquino left them with no choice but to proceed with their planned strike, as Aquino gave “no concrete response” on their demand for a rollback in pump prices to correct the oil overpricing, to scrap the oil deregulation law, suspend or scrap the value-added tax on oil products and toll fees. Aquino’s response boils down to “open-ended, very general promises to review” the said issues, said George San Mateo, secretary general of Piston, in a press conference in Quezon City.

Aquino’s response of ordering a “review” of the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law is not yet the worst of it, said San Mateo, because it “aims to strengthen, and not scrap, the oil deregulation law.”

This is so way off the transport sector’s demand, San Mateo said. Piston and other transport and progressive groups have blamed the oil deregulation law for “allowing the Big Three oil cartel to raise prices of petroleum products without any government control.”.... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/16/piston-deems-malacanang-dialogue-a-failure-vows-to-push-through-with-sept-19-strike/

Garcia back in prison based on 2005 ruling By Mario J. Mallari 09/17/2011

Garcia back in prison based on 2005 ruling

By Mario J. Mallari 09/17/2011

Former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia was arrested yesterday by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in compliance with President Aquino’s order for the implementation of the two-year sentence handed by the general court martial in 2005 for violations of Articles of War, with the Palace making sure that nobody steals the thunder from the arrest telling reporters that Garcia being sent to the National Bilibid Prison was the result of a direct order from Aquino.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed the arrest of Garcia, who was originally accused of plunder for allegedly amassing more than P300 million of unexplained wealth during his incumbency as AFP deputy chief of staff for comptrollership.

The order for Garcia’s rearrest was based on a 2005 court martial decision that was not acted on by former President Arroyo. Since Arroyo did not make any move on Garcia’s case, the judge advocate general said Garcia will have to serve the full two-year jail term imposed on him..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110917hed1.html

Aquino to polish ‘statesman’ image in 4-day Japan visit By Michaela P. del Callar 09/17/2011

Aquino to polish ‘statesman’ image in 4-day Japan visit

By Michaela P. del Callar 09/17/2011
President Aquino seeks to launch his statesman image in his twin visits to the United States and Japan after his US visit with Aquino saying he will present a “package” to assist Japan from recovering from the multiple disasters that hit that country last March despite the fact that Japan is already on a recovery stage while the local economy is on a downturn.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Aquino will meet newly installed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during the Japan four-day official working visit later this month with discussions focusing on both countries’ political, security and economic relations, as well as pressing regional concerns.

Among the issues likely to be taken up are bilateral trade issues, such as how the economic exchange between the two sides has evolved under a three-year-old free trade agreement, the Mindanao peace process, in which Japan is a key player, and the disputes in the South China Sea might also figure in the talks, it was learned yesterday. Japan, like the United States, is among the several countries batting for unfettered access in the oil-rich area jointly claimed in part or in whole by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110917hed2.html

Police arrest Pinoy drug courier in Hong Kong By Michaela P. del Callar 09/17/2011

Police arrest Pinoy drug courier in Hong Kong

By Michaela P. del Callar 09/17/2011

A Filipino cab driver was arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport last month for alleged drug-trafficking, a Philippine consulate report said yesterday.

The Filipino, whose identity was withheld by the consulate, was apprehended after 26 kilograms of heroin was found in his luggage while en route to mainland China on Aug. 21.

The Filipino national, who used to work as an airport cab driver, was offered to go abroad to deliver goods, the report sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said.

This new arrest, the consulate said, supports the new trend that drug syndicates prefer to recruit employed and more presentable mules who can very well conduct themselves before airport authorities..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110917nat1.html

Soliman to be grilled by House for approval of DSWD budget By Gerry Baldo 09/17/2011

Soliman to be grilled by House for approval of DSWD budget

By Gerry Baldo 09/17/2011

The Department of Social welfare and Development is going to be grilled in the House of Representatives which is now deliberating on the national budget for 2012 with the numerous questions about the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program described by critics as a form of “dole out” that would promote mendicancy.

According to Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, a delay in the approval of the budget of the DSWD is expected given the huge proposed budget for the agency.

“I expect a lot of questions given the amount involved for DSWD,” Abaya said even as he noted that there are pending questions that have been raised against the PPPP since last year. The budget for CCT in 2011 is P21billion and the proposal for 2012 is P39.4 billion, or an incredible 86% increase..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110917nat2.html

Angara joins calls for stoppage to hikes in power, fares, fees By Angie M. Rosales 09/17/2011

Angara joins calls for stoppage to hikes in power, fares, fees

By Angie M. Rosales 09/17/2011

Sen. Edgardo Angara yesterday joined colleagues who had already warned Malacañang of courting unrest, if the Executive will not reassess its plan unleashing a barrage of price adjustments in power, fees and fares to the overburdened consumers and commuters.

The lawmaker agreed with the contention of Sen. Ralph Recto who earlier had sounded off what he described as middle class revolt as they are the ones that would suffer the most in the simultaneous price increases.

“How big is our so-called middle class in the Philippines? It’s a vanishing breed, an endangered species. The economics definition of middle class is middle income. If those in the bottom, for example, make P30,000 a year, and those at the top make P100,000 on average, then the middle class should be making P50,000 to P60,000 a year and they receive their income regularly.

“This is why teachers and other professionals are generally classified as middle class and they can usually generate extra purchasing power. But can we really apply this definition to the Philippines? We’re removing the subsidy from the MRT-LRT (Metro Rail and Light Rail Transit) and imposing VAT (value-added tax) on toll — well, actually more on the LRT/MRT system since this is the vehicle of choice of the salaried...... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110917nat4.html

Solons block BIR’s move allowing 12%VAT on toll 09/17/2011

Solons block BIR’s move allowing 12%VAT on toll

Lawmakers yesterday blocked the move of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) allowing expressway operators to impose an additional 12 percent value added tax (VAT) on toll.

At least 81 lawmakers said the move was unconstitutional on the ground that new taxes are supposed to be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by the President as law before it becomes effective.

The lawmakers, in House Bill 5185 authored by Rep. Victor Ortega of La Union, stressed that all taxes must pass through the legislative mill and approved by the President.

Ortega cited that based on the congressional records, the VAT on toll rates was not included in the deliberations of the Expanded VAT Law in 1994..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110917met3.html

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