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The Daily Tribune

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Get them all EDITORIAL 07/31/2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Get them all

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Poll executives have been placed under preventive suspension by the Ombudsman, in connection with the canceled awarding of the so-called secrecy folders to OTC Paper supply, originally priced at P350 per folder, which is clearly overpriced.

Preventively suspended for six months without pay are Commission on Elections Executive Director Jose Tolentino Jr.; Bids and Awards Committee Chairman Maria Lea Alarkon; members Allen Francis Abaya, Maria Norina Casingal, Martin B. Niedo, as well as Antonio Santella.

The Ombudsman, in its order said that the facts and circumstances of the case justify a preventive suspension, as the Ombudsman’s investigation team found that Tolentino, head of the specifications committee, “provided unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to OTC Paper Supply by making prior arrangements and/or divulging valuable and confidential information with them as shown by OTC’S astonishing speed to produce a tailor-fitted, Comelec-approved design in just a matter of days.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100731com1.html

Still spinning it FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/31/2010

Still spinning it

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
It really is amazing how the Aquino officials, the communications group, and their media partners plus yellow supporters spin the reports and portray the big blunders made by Noynoy Aquino in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) as no mistake at all, spinning it all to make it appear that while no irregularities or anomalies in the budget figures were found, it was still “morally” and “fiscally irresponsible” of the previous Arroyo administration to have spent more than it should have.

Neither Gloria nor her officials are my cup of tea. That has been much too evident even at the start of her regime, but hell, since when does a morality issue reign over legal issues? And who is to judge what is moral or immoral? Noynoy? His appointed officials? The yellows? Their protective yellow media? Well, who the hell do they think they are to set themselves up as the nation’s moral teachers, especially when they are not too clean themselves?
As for the charge that the previous administration was “fiscally irresponsible” over expenditures, just why do they insist on judging what is fiscally responsible by way of spending the budget funds, especially if, as admitted by the Noynoy officials, there was nothing irregular or anomalous found in the expenditure of the budget funds and allocations?... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100731com2.html

Human traffickers prey on vulnerable in Thailand FEATURE 07/31/2010

Human traffickers prey on vulnerable in Thailand


KOH KRED — Sixteen-year-old Kaew slumped into unconsciousness in a van somewhere in southern Thailand, believing she was on her way to work in a textile factory near the border.

She woke up in Malaysia to discover that she had been sold into the sex trade.
Hers is just one of a multitude of cases of modern-day slavery in Thailand, most of which involve a mix of poverty, violence and betrayal.
Apparently drugged and later locked in a room in Kuala Lumpur, Kaew met three other Thai women who asked if she had been lured to work like them.
“I had no idea what they were talking about, but then they told me what kind of job they did and what kind of job I had to do. I was very scared,” said Kaew, whose name AFP has changed to protect her identity.
She managed to escape before her first job, using money she had been given to buy food to take a taxi to the Thai embassy.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100731com3.htm

Advocates Worry That Aquino’s Mining, Environment Agenda Is Similar to Arroyo’s Published on July 31, 2010

Advocates Worry That Aquino’s Mining, Environment Agenda Is Similar to Arroyo’s

Published on July 31, 2010

President Aquino’s electoral platform, inaugural speech and State of the Nation Address (SONA) contain no clear environmental agenda and position on major issues such as mining, climate change and the garbage problem, said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan.
MANILA — Environmental groups noted that the recent pronouncements and actions of President Benigno S. Aquino III lean toward the same anti-environment policies of the previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

“It is still early to say that President Aquino is anti-environment like his predecessor. However, based on what Mr. Aquino is doing and saying so far, prospects are not good for the communities and groups that have long clamored for fundamental change in terms of the national policies and programs that have caused much harm to our environment,” said Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/31/advocates-worry-that-noynoys-environment-agenda-is-similar-to-arroyos/

After Fleeing from Palparan, Peasant Leader Ends Up in Manila Prison by Bulatlat.com

After Fleeing from Palparan, Peasant Leader Ends Up in Manila Prison

Published on July 31, 2010

After the attempt on his brother-in-law’s life, peasant leader Dario Tomada fled to Luzon and took on different jobs to support his family back in Leyte. Five years later, he was arrested by soldiers for 15 counts of murder that allegedly took place in 1984 — when he was still peacefully tilling a small piece of land and was not involved in any organization.


MANILA — On Sept. 10, 2006, Dario Tomada, then chairman of the Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa-SB or Organization of Small Farmers of Eastern Visayas), left Kanangga, Leyte, upon the advice of his colleagues. Like many of the leaders of people’s organizations in the region, Tomada’s life had been in danger.

Dario Tomada inside his jail cell. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
During that period, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. was the commanding general of the 8th Infantry (Storm Troopers) Division in Eastern Visayas. Within six months of Palparan’s assignment in the region, human-rights group Karapatan had recorded 570 human-rights violations victimizing 7,561 individuals, 1,773 families and 110 communities. These include 126 cases of extrajudicial killings and 27 cases of enforced disappearances.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/31/after-fleeing-from-palparan-peasant-leader-ends-up-in-manila-prison/

Kin of ‘Morong 43′ File Rights Raps vs Military Before GRP-NDF Body by Bulatlat.com

Kin of ‘Morong 43′ File Rights Raps vs Military Before GRP-NDF Body

Published on July 29, 2010

“Nearly six months since the Morong 43 were arrested and the wheels of justice have been grinding slow on our detained colleagues. For these innocent health workers, being held each day more in detention is a continuing torture and a serious injustice.” – Dr. Eleanor Jara, CHD executive director and convenor of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance 


MANILA — Relatives and colleagues of the Morong 43 trooped to the office of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) section of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) July 28 to file cases against the military for violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The 43 health workers were arrested February 6 while conducting a health training in Morong, Rizal. Slapped with charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the 43 were held under military captivity at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal for almost three months. In May, the 38 of them have been transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/29/kin-of-morong-43-file-rights-raps-vs-military-before-grp-ndf-body/

With More Privatization, Aquino Uses Same Old Policies by Predecessors by Bulatlat

 With More Privatization, Aquino Uses Same Old Policies by Predecessors

Published on July 29, 2010


MANILA — In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Benigno Aquino III used the various cases of misuse of public funds by the Arroyo administration as a pretext to promote the so-called Public-Private Partnerships or PPPs. According to Aquino, PPPs will address the lack of resources due to a depleted government budget for the country’s many needs.

(Read the full text of Aquino’s SONA here)

Incidentally, PPPs were among the legacies of the first Aquino administration. It was during the term of Noynoy’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, that the first PPPs in the power generation sector were implemented. In 1987, she issued Executive Order (EO) No. 215 that allowed private corporations to construct and operate electric generating plants. (Read here) Cory’s privatization formed part of a wide-ranging package of structural reforms pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to supposedly address the country’s fiscal crisis in the late 1980s.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/29/with-more-privatization-aquino-uses-same-old-policies-by-predecessors/

Wide scope bared for truth body in EO By Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/31/2010


Wide scope bared for truth body in EO

By Aytch S. de la Cruz
While focused on the nine-year Arroyo administration, the so-called Truth Commission created yesterday through Executive Order No. 1 will include in its broad scope public officials of at least third-level, such as department heads of government agencies and even private individuals suspected of being involved in graft and corruption cases.
President Aquino signed EO 1 yesterday creating the commission vested with investigative powers on all the reported cases of graft and corruption involving third-level public officials and higher, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector during the previous administration, based on the order.
Officials who are implicated in the allegations of large-scale graft and corruption cases during the previous administration will be compelled to cooperate with the recently created body to be called the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said..... MORE

House hearing on impeach Gutierrez bid starts Sept. By Gerry Baldo 07/31/2010

House hearing on impeach Gutierrez bid starts Sept.

By Gerry Baldo
The House committee on justice expects to start hearing the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez in September, committee chairman Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupaz Jr. said.

Gutierrez is assured of an impartial trial of the impeachment case filed against her, Tupas added.

Tupas said Gutierrez would be given her day in the hearings that would be conducted by his panel which could begin as soon as it is referred to him by the House committee on rules.

“The sense of fairness will always be there, I can guarantee that,” said Tupas who lamented that the hearings conducted by the previous Congress on the previous impeachment case against Gutierrez were lopsided.

“There were lapses in terms of following the Constitution and the rules of the House, that’s why I voted against the report in plenary. Some jurisprudence were not properly appreciated at that time,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100731hed2.html

Folder scam freezes all Comelec payments By Marie Surbano 07/31/2010

Folder scam freezes all Comelec payments

By Marie Surbano
Poll equipment suppliers of the May 10 elections are lining up with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to collect their bills but the Comelec said all the contracts related to the recent automated polls have yet to be signed as a result of the controversy generated by the P700-million ballot secrecy folder scandal. 

Ferdinand Rafanan, director of Comelec Law Department, said the contractors are now asking for payment for various services rendered or equipment sold but the poll body is not ready to pay since there was no contract signed yet.

Rafanan said Comelec Chairman Jose Melo has ordered Comelec officials not to sign any contract until it has been reviewed by the law department. 

“All these contracts are under review as a consequence of the ballot secrecy folder scandal. Melo opted to be cautious so no contracts were signed and all were sent to the law department for review,” Rafanan told reporters.
Asked what these unsigned contracts were, Rafanan said these include contracts with forwarding companies which provided delivery services on what he called as “non-accountable forms.” 

“They were not paid since the contracts were unsigned,” Rafanan said adding that once the contract were reviewed and signed the commission will promptly release payments. 

He admitted that the overpricing of the ballot secrecy folder that supposedly cost P380 a piece has taught the chairman a great deal on contracts being entered by the government.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100731hed3.html

Gov’t sends envoy to Iraq to check OFWs’ situation By Michaela P. del Callar and Marie Surbano 07/31/2010

Gov’t sends envoy to Iraq to check OFWs’ situation

By Michaela P. del Callar and Marie Surbano
The Philippine government has sent an assessment mission to Iraq to oversee and examine the security situation and security measures for the thousands of overseas Filipino workers who were ordered to be expelled by the United States due to an existing labor deployment ban by Manila.

Presidential special envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu, who left for Iraq Thursday, will return to Manila next week to submit his report and recommendations to an inter-agency committee that closely monitors the work condition of Filipino workers and studying options to address their situation and concerns in Iraq.

“The inter-agency committee, composed of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, among other agencies, is expected to issue policy guidelines shortly after Ambassador Cimatu’s return,” a DFA statement said.

According to the DFA, there are around 6,000 Filipinos working in Iraq despite the Philippine government’s travel and labor deployment ban to Iraq. But the Embassy of Iraq in Manila said the figure has swelled to 15,000, most of them working for foreign companies in Iraq’s northern region.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100731hed4.html

CAT: SC ruling a labor, not agrarian, issue 07/31/2010

CAT: SC ruling a labor, not agrarian, issue

The top management of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) yesterday clarified that the Supreme Court (SC) decision on the 13th month differential pay of its workers is purely a labor issue that involved the CAT which is an entirely different company from that of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).

Joey Romasanta, CAT vice president for Corporate Affairs, in a statement, stressed the high court ruling involves the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, a publicly listed company which operates a sugar mill located in Tarlac City, is separate and distinct from HLI. 

He said the SC decision could be regarded as “moot and academic” since CAT had already satisfied the 13th month differential pay being claimed by the workers through the union by paying the amount of P6 million, more or less, as early as Jan. 26, 2010..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100731hed5.html

Pacquiao sister wanted for illegal gambling racket 07/31/2010

Pacquiao sister wanted for illegal gambling racket

Authorities yesterday said a sister of boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was involved in running an illegal gambling racket after detaining 25 persons in a raid on her home in General Santos City.

A police vice squad detained the suspects and seized evidence, including gambling materials and cash, in Thursday’s raid on the home of Pacquiao’s elder sister, Isidra Paglinawan, Chief Insp. Leo Sua said.

Pacquiao, the seven-time world champion who was elected to a seat in the House of Representatives this year, personally watched as police searched the house, but vowed not to interfere.

A lower court in the southern port of General Santos ordered the raid as part of a police crackdown against an illegal numbers game, locally called “masiao,” but the 34-year-old sister was not at home, Sua told reporters.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100731hed6.html

Fractious LP eyes big pie EDITORIAL 07/30/2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fractious LP eyes big pie

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The Liberal Party (LP) is trying to throw its weight around in the ongoing tussle at the Senate for prime committee posts with its members seeking to corner the most sought-after chairmanships, drawing the comment from Sen. Joker Arroyo that it was a case of the smaller guys wanting to get the bigger pie.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan’s withdrawal from the Senate presidency was hailed by his partymates as an act of statesmanship, but now the LP is into arm-twisting in the Senate to lay its members’ hands on the juicy posts.

Despite the fact that the current president is a party member, the LP, it seems, is finding it difficult to haul in recruits from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, thus weakening President Aquino’s legislative leverage on the many bills that he claims he plans to pursue in his reform agenda.

Speaker Sonny Belmonte, a Lakas-Kampi turncoat and now an LP member, won the top House post, but only as a result of a tactical alliance, mainly with members of Gloria Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD party. Of the 90 or so House members who voted Belmonte into the speakership, not even 30 are card-bearing LP members. The case in the Senate is the same, with only four party members out of the 23 senators..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com1.html

Homework time FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/30/2010

Homework time

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Good grief! Do these new secretaries in the communications group know just what they are doing and saying?

From the way they sound, everything but everything can be made legal and binding through an executive order (EO) signed by their president, Noynoy Aquino.

Thus, even when there is no law backing up their dual and co-equal status as full Cabinet secretary, Sonny Coloma and Ricky Carandang will both be communications group secretary, and not a press secretary, even when there can be no communications group as a frontline department in replacement of the Office of the Press Secretary, as this department can only be abolished, and replaced by Congress, not by a mere EO.

But apparently, they believe that this can be done without the participation of Congress. Well, good luck to them.
Stated differently, the Aquino administration and its officials, especially Noynoy, believe that they can do anything they want, through an EO, which, it should be stressed, does not have the same effect and force of a law, unless of course, the EO is buttressed by an existing law, or a constitutional proviso, both of which are absent..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com2.html

Mexican capital aims to be oasis for gays FEATURE 07/30/2010

Mexican capital aims to be oasis for gays


MEXICO CITY — Mexico City’s gay community has in recent decades turned the capital into a relative oasis in a strongly Catholic country reknowned for its conservatism and machismo.
The authorities in the Mexican capital are now seeking to attract gay tourism, even though there is still widespread discrimination against them.

The city is well placed “to become the first gay friendly destination in Latin America,” said Tourism Secretary Alejandro Rojas.

In March, the urban sprawl of some 20 million people celebrated the first legal gay and lesbian weddings in Latin America. And this week, authorities said they had opened the first tourism office for homosexuals in the region.
Gay tourists are discerning, respectful and spend 47 percent more than heterosexual tourists, Rojas said.

His leftist city government last week offered a free honeymoon here to the first gay couple to wed in Argentina after that country legalized same-sex marriages in the whole country.

In Mexico City’s Zona Rosa district, a hub for the homosexual community, gay actor Tito Vasconcelos applauded the advances but underlined that “there’s a lack of consistency between statements and reality,” for Mexico’s gay community.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com3.html

A scandal in the making MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 07/30/2010

A scandal in the making

Amb. Ernesto Maceda
President Aquino announced in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) that he has received an offer of $100 million from a business group/developer for the lease of the two Philippine Navy bases, the Headquarters at Roxas Boulevard adjacent to the PICC and the Bonifacio Naval station which is also the Headquarters of the Philippine Marines, adjacent to Global City and Forbes Park. Both properties have a total area of about 30 hectares. He confirmed the advanced negotiations at the Philippine Star anniversary.

It’s a creative solution to the Philippine Navy’s shortage of ships. But it should go through a transparent process. Considering its location, it appears that the $100 million or P4.5 billion offer is low for 300,000 square meters adjacent to Forbes Park. Forbes Park lots sell at P85,000/sq.m.

It should, therefore, be open to public bidding with a minimum bid set at $300 million at least. To begin with, an objective appraisal of the value of the two properties must be made before the bid is set.

And if the sale of Fort McKinley and the proposed sale of government properties in Japan are recalled, there should be congressional authority secured to allow the sale or long term lease of these valuable properties. And the Historical Commission must be consulted. The policy of selling prime government land must be fully debated. Are we going to lease Malacañang Park or part of Rizal Park?... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com4.html

PeNoy’s half-true lies DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/30/2010

PeNoy’s half-true lies

Herman Tiu Laurel
PeNoy’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) cued the mainstream, oligarchy-controlled media on the propaganda line that the National Power Corp. (Napocor)’s rate hike petition is due to the artificially low rates it charged upon instruction of Malacañang under Gloria Arroyo. By highlighting this, PeNoy created the impression that the massive debt incurred by Napocor had been due to incompetence and corruption. PeNoy’s Energy Secretary Jose Almendras, former executive of the energy conglomerate Aboitiz Group, even followed this up on radio every day.

What PeNoy omitted is the fact that Napocor’s dire situation today is a result of the distorted privatization program, which has saddled it with debts (accrued over the decades from its service expansion across the country) while giving away its profit-generating assets for a song to private power producers, as well as, transmission and distribution companies. In effect, Napocor was robbed of revenues that were supposed to service its debts.

Most of these independent power producers or IPPs started business by taking advantage of Napocor’s power generating assets that were privatized by government to them. The sale of these assets, in turn, assigned to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp., was supposed to pay off Napocor’s debts; but a balance of at least P475 billion remains.

Government absorbs 35 percent (which we pay for as taxes) and we, the consumers, absorb 65 percent as “stranded contract costs” and “stranded debts,” which we will all pay under the so-called “universal charge.”

On the July 29 morning radio program of Noli de Castro with Almendras as guest, the Napocor tale was again thrashed about with the two lambasting the state-owned power corporation without explaining the history of its debts. Why, De Castro, in his infinite ignorance, even exclaimed, “Basta gobyerno ang may hawak lugi” when the truth is, his ABS-CBN bosses and their ilk are said to have gotten the biggest slice of the Napocor pie.

PeNoy, Almendras, De Castro will obviously not report the most enlightening Philippine energy news item of the past week: “Meralco income up 82 percent on 14 percent hike in volume sold,” as headlined by a business paper. In the first semester alone, Meralco profited by a whopping P5.8 billion from P3.18 billion in the same period last year. Such reports of gargantuan earnings hikes abound; yet little notice is taken.

Alas, the shenanigans of privatization know no bounds. In 2008, Meralco admitted that it charged consumers P13 billion in power that was never delivered because they have the “take-or-pay” purchased power agreement provisions courtesy of the power privatization law, Epira (Electric Power Reform Act), passed by the Edsa II Congress. And in 2009, Meralco reported a 119-percent increase in its net profit. Meanwhile, Aboitiz Power, Almendras’ mother company, reported its profit rising 143 percent in 2008, which it attributed to acquired government power assets.

PeNoy, Secretary Almendras and the likes of Noli de Castro, ABS-CBN, GMA7, and the mainstream newspapers are in cahoots with the power oligarchs in hiding these facts from the people.

The other fairy tale from the Sona is the much ballyhooed leasing out of the 30-hectare Naval HQ property. Considering that this is near the prime properties of Metro Manila, i.e. Forbes Park and Fort Bonifacio, the offer PeNoy was boasting of amounts to a “steal” as relayed to us by real estate experts. This is not only a fairy tale; we can smell a scam here and it would not surprise us if PeNoy’s campaign contributors (who are also big-time real estate moguls) put him up to it.

The expressway to the North that PeNoy said a foreign investor has offered to build, which would certainly entail the usual “sovereign guarantee,” will lead to exorbitant toll rates again.

It’s as if PeNoy is deaf to the pains and cries of commuters and traders using the present BOT expressways and skyways that are charging sky high toll fees that make the cost of things, such as tourism, vegetables, meats, poultry, and everything else that needs to traverse the expressways higher.

Hearing Secretary Sonny Coloma say that “Anyway, they (the pained commuters) can take the old highway” shows us how insensitive PeNoy’s people are and how ignorant they are of the economic impact their decisions make. PeNoy’s foreign-funded highway will be another highway to ruin.

Still, the same insensitivity plagues them on the MRT fare hike issue and the “cash transfer” plan of Dinky Soliman which will end up increasing hunger again, as inflation eats up the value of the “cash” for less rice as time goes by.

The final lie we spotted is PeNoy and Secretary Jesse Robredo’s spiel about the eradication of jueteng because the reports keep streaming in that not only is jueteng alive and well even in the province of Robredo but a new, more powerful gambling operation has spread all over the country called the “Meridien.” Operating alongside the “legalized” Small Town Lottery (STL), it definitely has the underside that really rakes in the money. The PNP big bosses are certainly not going to stop the P30-billion illegal gambling operations because, our informants aver, the top brass of the police allegedly split the P1-billion bounty per annum.

People should note how Robredo has softened his statements on these illegal gambling operations, as in his own home province, the political kingpins who also run jueteng have long overshadowed him.

In all, nothing has changed in this country: The looting by the oligarchs, criminal gangs, and corrupt bureaucrats continue. It’s a fairy tale that has no happy ending unless real revolutionary change intervenes.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch Politics Today, Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m. on Destiny Cable Channel 21, with the topic, “Stop Agus and Pulangui Privatization” and other power issues, with Mr. Louie Corral and PALAG; visit our new blog, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com5.html

Row over Cyprus air control poses growing safety risk FEATURE 07/30/2010

Row over Cyprus air control poses growing safety risk


NICOSIA — A decades-old dispute over the control of Cyprus airspace has sparked accusations of a growing safety risk as the volume of air traffic over the divided resort island expands.

The Greek Cypriot head of Nicosia Air Traffic Control, which under international law is responsible for supervising the airspace over the island as well as a large slab of the adjacent eastern Mediterranean, says there have been near misses and that the number of incidents is growing.

The rival Turkish Cypriot aviation authorities, who oversee flights between Turkey and the breakaway north of the island and claim jurisdiction over the surrounding airspace, acknowledge there is a problem but say the cause is the Nicosia controllers’ refusal to talk to them.

“We’ve had a couple of very bad incidents,” said Nicosia air traffic chief Haris Antoniades.

“We had a very, very serious case about 18 months ago,” Antoniades told AFP.

“There was a Russian flight coming from the Egyptian airspace, flying through Nicosia to Turkey, to go to Russia, and then we had another flight coming south.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com6.html

Dutch troops to leave Afghanistan after ‘proud’ four years focus 07/30/2010

Dutch troops to leave Afghanistan after ‘proud’ four years


THE HAGUE — The Dutch troop deployment in Afghanistan, often held up as a model for other peace missions, ends after four years on Sunday amid concerns about the void it will leave.
“We offer the majority of the population relatively safe living conditions and advancements in health care, education and trade,” chief of defense, General Peter van Uhm, said of his troops’ legacy in the southern Uruzgan province.

“We have achieved tangible results that the Netherlands can be proud of,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Around 1,950 Dutch troops are deployed in Afghanistan, mainly in Uruzgan where opium production is high and the Taliban very active, under the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Nato had asked the Netherlands to extend the mission, which started in 2006 and has cost the lives of 24 soldiers, by a year to August 2011.

This sparked a political row that led to government collapsing in February and the end of the Dutch deployment.
The mission is known for its “3 D” approach of defence, development and diplomacy.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100730com7.html

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