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Clowns and scammers DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 06/01/2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

Clowns and scammers

Herman Tiu Laurel
The very day that the Senate impeachment hearings were to conclude, the BS Aquino III government also tried to conclude its own P80 billion loan for the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp.’s continued operations, thus ensuring that the agency will be able to privatize the remaining 10 percent or so of the National Power Corp. (Napocor)’s assets and the supply of coal and other fuel requirements of independent power producers (IPPs).

Simultaneous to that, an agreement between BS Aquino III and a foreign finance company, Macquarie Group Ltd. of Australia, was reached to create the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure (PInAI, like Pinay for Aussies) that will set up an infrastructure fund, whereby the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will contribute $300 million and the Australian firm $50 million for so-called public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

Going by the foreign financial agent’s negligible contribution, the inexplicable thing is, why would anyone even go for such a tie-up, especially when the Philippines has its own Special Deposit Account (SDA) in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) worth around P1.7 trillion, or 12 times the amount of the P130 billion needed to fund the projects this year?

On the afternoon of the impeachment trial’s convoluted conclusion — which this space has unwaveringly predicted would end in conviction — and with the senator-judges hamming it up before the cameras, I compiled and later read out on my radio program the more important issues, foremost of which is the country’s debt service. In April of this year alone, our country had already paid out P38.6 billion on principal and P16 billion in interest, or a total drain of around P55 billion.

But more than that, government even has a $2.5-billion borrowing program for the year despite the fact we have P1.7 trillion lying idle in the BSP and foreign reserves of up to $72 billion — as against a debt of $60 billion.

Sadly, the swindles don’t end there. The news that a certain bigwig invited foreign partners for financial investments into its MRT project — when it is an established fact that the MRT does not lose money on its operations but only on its financial guarantees to foreign investors — also makes our blood boil.

While it is true that the P5.7 million reportedly spent by the House for the impeachment trial is a measly amount, if we consider what other possible expenses it has meant owing to what the Palace has had to promise congressmen, senators, and other interested parties in exchange for a guilty verdict, we’ll also be counting in the tens of billions of pesos.

Aside from the usual pork barrel, what and how much more would it have cost, for example, for the last-minute trip of BS Aquino III to the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) in obtaining the latter’s acquiescence to a Corona conviction? Despite Malacañang’s pronouncements, the timing of the visit renders its denials laughable. BS Aquino III was certainly in a desperate situation. In order to avoid becoming a lame duck after the ill-conceived impeachment case, he was most probably forced to pay through his nose with the people’s resources.

I must admit that I didn’t listen to the coverage of the final day of the Corona impeachment as I just couldn’t stand the hypocrisy of the kettles and pots pointing fingers and judging others. I did have one hard laugh though from the day before, when the prosecution let out Speaker Sonny Belmonte to close its case. The hard laugh was, of course, triggered by the comedic irony of the chief culprit in what former party-list Rep. Rene Magtubo told of the bribery of congressmen for the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) in 2001.

Moreover, columnist Rod Kapunan texted about Belmonte’s alleged role in one apparent Edsa I scam, which we Googled and found in veteran writer Larry Henares’ 80s column. It concerns “a real estate property at 212 Stockton Street, on the corner of Geary Street, at San Francisco’s famed Union Square, known as the Philippine Airlines Building since 1947… (which) had always been a Filipino corner in a square that a San Francisco newspaper once described as ‘an island of sunshine and greenery’… considered one of the very best locations in the whole United States.” When Edsa took place, the new dispensation “hurriedly and in near secrecy sold the property for $10 million, in other words, at the original purchase price, without recovering the substantial investments made further in the property…”

The column then recounted the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation that ensued, which told of “an intriguing tale… (where) everyone (was) passing the buck and pointing to someone else… (and where) Speedy Gonzalez (claimed that he)… turned the whole matter over to Sonny Belmonte when the latter was appointed GSIS president,” with the current Speaker being the one “who made the final decision in April 1986 on whom to sell and at what price.”

According to the records, the Philippine government only got $2,000 of what was valued by an “independent, third-party appraiser, Haley-Leslie Appraisal Co. of San Francisco… in a thorough study (of) the market value of the property at the time of purchase on August 1982 (as) $12 million.” The appraisal report was even more explicit in that “the property under consideration (was) clearly a prime property.” Now why don’t we ever encounter such reports in the Philippine Star?

Lastly, from one House Speaker to another, we have this final point: Those who thought Sen. Manny Villar and his group would vote for an acquittal were fooling themselves all along. With the string of cases possibly awaiting him, Villar was likely among the most ready to convict. Indeed, whether seasoned or neophyte, whether young or old, what clowns and scammers these members of the political ruling class are!

(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m.; watch Destiny Cable GNN’s HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m., on “The Corona conviction: Politics or rule of law?” with Atty. Alan Paguia; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)
(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120601com6.html

Are we up to it, Noy? EDITORIAL 06/01/2012

Are we up to it, Noy?

Click to enlarge
It appears that Noynoy’s straight path has suddenly encountered a detour after the call for the signing of waivers on financial records of public officials snowballed in the aftermath of the signing of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona’s unconditional waiver which some sectors are now calling as a legacy move.

The otherwise loud voice on the call for transparency, Noynoy, he suddenly is not saying anything about the call of the senators who acted as judges in the Corona impeachment trial for him and his Cabinet to lead by example and sign waivers on the confidentiality of their financial records.

What more, his chief House allies who prosecuted or more aptly, persecuted, Corona largely because of their fishing expeditions that took the place of the presentation of evidence in their impeachment complaints against the former Chief Justice, seems to be sidestepping the issue, with chief House prosecutor Niel Tupas saying that the call for a waiver is a mere gimmick and he won’t fall for it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120601com1.html

Forcing the unconstitutional FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/01/2012

Forcing the unconstitutional

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
A problem has arisen after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

As there is no chief justice to speak of today, Noynoy will be constitutionally unable to appoint a chief justice in Corona’s stead, as the Judicial Bar and Council cannot be convened, since it is clear in the Constitution that it has to be the Chief Justice who will have to convene the JBC and start its acceptance of applications for the top judicial post.

Corona’s nemesis, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, has made himself the acting CJ, but as acting CJ, he is not constitutionally allowed to convene the JBC.

How then can Noynoy appoint a CJ, outsider or insider, when there is no chief justice at this time, owing to Corona’s conviction?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120601com2.html

Americans beg Obama: Please, don't kill us with drones

Americans beg Obama: Please, don't kill us with drones

Grace Bedell thought it could clinch the election when she suggested to Abraham Lincoln that he grow a beard. Now a century and a half later, Americans are asking their president to consider an updated proposal: Mr. Obama, please don’t kill us.

Unlike the correspondence from 1860 that was signed off by a single person — an 11-year-old girl from upstate New York — over 1,000 Americans have already added their name to a petition posted on the Internet this week. Their plea may sound silly at first glance, but it’s authors appear to be anything other than serious about it: after a Tuesday morning article in the New York Times revealed US President Barack Obama’s authority to add and remove names from a roster of alleged enemies of the state to be executed without due process, 1,679 Americans have already asked that they be placed on a “do not kill” list..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/obama-kill-list-president-695/

Occupy Bilderberg faces off with secretive gathering

Occupy Bilderberg faces off with secretive gathering

Around 150 of the world’s elite approached the grounds of a suburban Virginia hotel on Thursday for the first day of the 2012 Bilderberg Conference, but also on hand were throngs of protesters who gathered to opposed the top-secret gathering.

Journalists and critics of the annual clandestine conference stationed themselves outside of a Chantilly, Virginia Marriott hotel near Washington, DC early Thursday to catch a glimpse of the government officials, entrepreneurs and other assorted members of the privileged elite who had gathered for this year’s event.

In year’s past, it is rumored that leaders of the United States and Britain were agreed on by global figureheads behind closed doors during the Bilderberg Conference; this week in Virginia, speculators have introduced the notion that international big-wigs will be brought with questions surrounding both who to back during the 2012 US presidential election and who will be picked to run alongside GOP nominee Mitt Romney..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/usa/news/bilderberg-event-conference-jones-717/

For the nth time, JPE NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 06/01/2012

For the nth time, JPE

Armida Siguion-Reyna
First, from my e-mail inbox, Nytz Bayudan says, in Ilocano: “Naimbag nga malem yo apo. Nasirib talaga unay ni Manong mo. No sibibiyag koma daydi tatang ko ket agtakder isuna tapno saludwan na koma ni Sir Johnny. Kasta met kadakayo madam ta ad adalek met dagiti isur surat yo nga napipintas ken derecho ti panunot yo. Sapay koma ta nasalun-at kay latta.”
In Tagalog, as translated for me, by Mr. Butch Cabanban: “Magandang hapon po sa inyo.

Matalino talaga ang kuya mo. Kung nabubuhay pa sana ang tatay ko ay tatayo siya at sasaludo kay Sir Johnny. Ganun din po sa inyo Madam kasi pinapag-aralan ko din po ang mga magagandang isinusulat ninyo at matuwid ang pag-iisip niyo. Nawa lagi po kayong nasa mabuting kalusugan.”

I made that the first paragraph, knowing how reading something written in the dialect he first mastered would make Juan Ponce-Enrile happy. As he told Willie Nepomuceno in their encounter on Karen Davila’s early morning program on ANC, last Wednesday: “I may be mestizo but I am Ibanag and Ilocano.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120601com4.html

Half a victory CROSSROADS Jonathan De la Cruz 06/01/2012

Half a victory

Jonathan De la Cruz
Of course, it was a victory. Of sorts. A kind of half a victory. Our fragile democracy did not implode as some people had predicted when the full force of the executive branch and half the Congress was mustered in what Senator-Judge Joker Arroyo decried as “naked use of power” to bring the country’s chief magistrate — the head of a co-equal branch of government — to his knees.

Even Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile whose legal acumen and even handedness were highlighted throughout the entire impeachment period was aghast at the manner by which the complaint was brought to the Senate (loose, haphazard were just some of the adjectives used) and the prosecution’s tendency to inject “unverified and unauthenticated” evidence to the court. If not for his mastery of the law and his deft handling of the entire process itself, it is very possible this first ever impeachment of a Chief Justice would not have been completed at all.

Thanks to him the Senate was able to rise up to the occasion and did its duty as the trier of impeachable officials. If only for that we can rightfully say that our democracy, no matter how fractured, if not tortured, works. But a lot more needs to be done and the senators know it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120601com5.html

Electric coop workers under Aboitiz gear for strike

Electric coop workers under Aboitiz gear for strike

When the collective bargaining negotiations reached an impasse on the issue of wage increases, the management isolated the union president, withheld union dues, and initiated punitive action against the workers who attended the recent May 1 rally.

MANILA – In the Aboitiz-owned electric cooperative supplying electricity to a greater part of Cebu in the Visayas, unionists are being punished for having joined the May 1 Labor Day rally, for having posted union updates in Facebook and in general, for having asked for a wage hike.

Punishments so far included revoking the union’s registration, compelling its members to delist the union president from its roster and to deactivate the union’s Facebook account. The company has also placed the May Day protesters under “administrative investigation,” following the sacking of the union president for having spoken at an earlier May 1 rally.

In addition, the management has also “sentenced” the acting union president (the vice-president) to work at the electric company’s poleyard, an area the union describes as “very isolated, with no basic amenities such as water” in front of a reclamation area. The transfer effectively cuts off the acting president from union members.

The 252-strong union represented by electrical engineers and professionals has recently filed a notice of strike over unfair labor practices including union-busting. They also protest the interference on union affairs by the management of Visayan Electric Company. VECO employs nearly 900 employees counting those under contractual employment arrangement. Jaime Jose Y. Aboitiz is its Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President.

Looming strike already under threat

Attacks on the union, its leaders and members apparently started when the collective bargaining talks between the management and the union of workers of the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) reached the part concerning wages. Prior to that, the union noted that in all thirteen (13) negotiation meetings, the VECO management and the union have forged agreements..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/06/01/electric-coop-workers-under-aboitiz-gear-for-strike/

JPE: No proof in impeach trial on ill-gotten wealth By Angie M. Rosales and Fernan J. Angeles 06/01/2012


JPE: No proof in impeach trial on ill-gotten wealth

By Angie M. Rosales and Fernan J. Angeles 06/01/2012

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona may have been stripped of his position but pursuing further criminal charges against him may prove futile as no evidence was presented to pin him down for any corrupt act or prove that he has amassed wealth illegally during the impeachment trial, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile pointed out yesterday.

Enrile practically relayed a message to Malacanang that it cannot come up with a case against Corona based on the impeachment proceedings, even if the former chief magistrate was convicted by the impeach court through a 20-3 vote.

Malacaang, however, is hell-bent on pursuing forfeiture and ill-gotten wealth cases against Corona..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120601hea1.html

Corona puts off appeal but SC still gets pleas vs verdict By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/01/2012

Corona puts off appeal but SC still gets pleas vs verdict

By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/01/2012

The lawyers of former Chief Justice Renato Corona will not pursue an option to question before the Supreme Court the decision of the Senate Impeachment court.

“He feels that this is the right thing to do since he did not take advantage of his position. He did not do harm upon anyone,” defense panel spokesman Tranquilino Salvador III said, adding that “(Corona) wanted to avoid what others think would be a possible constitutional crisis. He was thinking of the best interest of the country.”

“He said he’s already on a high ground when he waived (the confidentiality on) his bank accounts and disclosed what he had to disclose.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120601hea5.html

Asean defense execs back freedom of navigation on South China Sea By Mario J. Mallari 06/01/2012

Asean defense execs back freedom of navigation on South China Sea

By Mario J. Mallari 06/01/2012

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has cited the importance of freedom of navigation and called for the implementation of the conduct of parties in the South China Sea amid the ongoing standoff between the Philippines and China over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

During the 6th Asean Defense Ministers Meeting in Cambodia, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said the Asean was one in reaffirming its commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

“We are also one in our affirmation to work toward the adoption of a regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea that will further promote peace and stability in the region,” Galvez said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120601nat1.html

CA OKs promotion of 31 senior AFP officers 06/01/2012

CA OKs promotion of 31 senior AFP officers

The promotion to the next higher rank of all 31 senior officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), led by Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa, who presented themselves before the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, have been confirmed.

Now a full-fledged general, Dellosa welcomed the confirmation as part of the 125,000-strong military organization’s dynamism and improved professionalism.

“Promotion within the ranks of the (AFP) is a constant, dynamic and vital process within the organization. This is done to ensure that the right key-players are placed in the forefront to maintain the organization’s growth and development,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120601nat3.html

Ombudsman unfazed by threat on her life By Arlie O. Calalo 06/01/2012

Ombudsman unfazed by threat on her life

By Arlie O. Calalo 06/01/2012

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was unperturbed by the discovery of a hand grenade found late Wednesday afternoon in front of her house in Muntinlupa City.

This as she confirmed that the M-26 hand grenade encased in a canister that was found in front of her house fence was already in the custody of the concerned authorities that are now conducting investigation.

Carpio-Morales reiterated that she was not threatened by such incident as she vowed to continue with her campaign to cleanse the government of corrupt officials and employees..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120601met1.html

‘Unas no-show at bail hearings only shows Comelec incompetence’ By Pat C. Santos 06/01/2012

‘Unas no-show at bail hearings only shows Comelec incompetence’

By Pat C. Santos 06/01/2012
A show of its incompetence.

This was how Sigfried Fortun, counsel for former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. described the failure of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to present its last two witnesses, one of whom was its supposed star witness, at the bail hearings on the election sabotage case it filed against him, former President Arroyo and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol.

The Comelec was scheduled to present former Maguindanao Administrator Norie Unas and Maguindanao election officer Russam Mabang as the last two witnesses at the bail hearings but they were a no-show.

Comelec lawyer Ma. Juana Valeza told Pasay Regional Trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas Mabang went missing a few hours before his scheduled testimony before the court yesterday..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120601met2.html

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