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News in Pictures: Journalists Express Outrage Over Dropping of Charges vs Ampatuan Massacre Suspects

Monday, April 19, 2010

News in Pictures: Journalists Express Outrage Over Dropping of Charges vs Ampatuan Massacre Suspects

Monday, April 19, 2010

Journalists expressed their outrage over the dropping of murder charges against Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and cousin Akmad Ampatuan, the alleged masterminds of the Maguindanao Massacre.
Members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) from Bicol, Cebu, La Union, National Capital Region, and Negros chapters joined the Negros Press Club (NPC), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and Kabataan Partylist Negros in a rally in front of the Monument for Fallen Journalists in Bacolod City Sunday.

“Like clockwork, the Department of Justice decided to drop murder charges against the two Ampatuans, known allies of Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. With the elections less than a month away, we see this as a testament to Ms Arroyo’s control of this department, among others. Though she is no longer the Chief Executive, she will still need to have branches of the government beholden to her to avoid prosecution for her crimes,” Vijae Alquisola, CEGP national president said.

NUJP said that the principles of justice, rule of law and democracy never existed under the Arroyo government. “It is proof of what we have suspected almost as soon as it became apparent that a clan known to be one of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s closest allies might be linked to the worst election-related violence in our country’s recent history AND the worst single attack on the media ever – that this administration would do everything within its power to assure they would not be held accountable,” the group said in a statement. (Photos by Owen S. Bayog/Negros Daily Bulletin and Anne Ednalyn Dela Cruz/bulatlat.com)

(Reprinted with permission from Bulatlat.com)

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/04/19/news-in-pictures-journalists-express-outrage-over-dropping-of-charges-vs-ampatuan-massacre-suspects/

DoJ in face-saving move to tag Zaldy for rebellion By Benjamin B. Pulta 04/19/2010

DoJ in face-saving move to tag Zaldy for rebellion
By Benjamin B. Pulta

Suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan remains in the rebellion case that the government said it will pursue against suspects in last year’s murder of 57 political rivals of the Ampatuans after the Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a controversial order the other day dropping multiple murder cases against the ARMM chief and former Maguindanao Vice Gov. Akmad Ampatuan.

The impending release of the Ampatuans on the main charges for multiple murder triggered an impromptu rally by a number of local journalist groups, particularly in General Santos City and Bacolod.

An official of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said they will hold a press briefing today in Manila. In forwarded text statements, NUJP organizers said acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s decision was extremely disturbing and tends to erode the already shaky trust the public has in the DoJ and the justice system.”

Agra, nevertheless, pointed out that the DoJ has filed a motion for reconsideration before Branch 77 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City on the lower court’s move to dismiss the rebellion case against the Ampatuans.

The charges were dismissed last March 26, as amended on March 29, 2010, for lack of probable cause..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100419hed2.html

Erap wishes for clean polls, gets QC Lakas chief backing By Jason Faustino and Gerry Baldo 04/19/2010

Erap wishes for clean polls, gets QC Lakas chief backing
By Jason Faustino and Gerry Baldo

Former President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada shares food with the people who believe in his cause — the masses, with whom he will dedicate the celebration of his 73rd birthday today in a resettlement area for former San Juan residents who call their home “Erap City.”

He will also be partaking lunch with poor folk from Payatas afterwards, as he shares with them his birthday wish of a clean and honest elections which he said would rectify the many historical mistakes which the Philippines had suffered in recent years, including the 2004 elections, which are widely believed as marred by massive cheating that favored Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

“The coming elections are so important, not only for me as a candidate but for the country. The last presidential elections, where my best friend Fernando Poe, Jr. was cheated, really put our democratic systems in question. So, this coming elections must show that our democracy is not a joke, that we have the capacity to respect the sovereign will of the people expressed through the ballot,” Estrada said.

“So my wish is for clean and honest elections to prevail,” Estrada continued.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100419hed3.html

What benefit? Binay asks of GMA travel expenses 04/19/2010

What benefit? Binay asks of GMA travel expenses


United Opposition (UNO) vice presidential candidate Jejomar Binay has asked Malacañang to substantiate the benefits from President Arroyo’s expensive and frequent foreign travels.

Binay’s challenge came after the Palace claimed that the benefits far outweigh the expense of these trips.
“Is Malacañang really listening to itself? They are saying that Mrs. Arroyo spent P2.1 billion for foreign travels
from 2007-2009, not P2.5 billion, and this should make it all better? It’s not even a substantial difference,” he said. “And what has the government have to show for itself?”

Binay slammed claims that Mrs. Arroyo brought back $1.2 billion or half a trillion pesos worth of grants and investments from her travels..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100419hed6.html

The power challenge EDITORIAL 04/19/2010

The power challenge

Click to enlarge
Amajor challenge for anybody who would sit at the Palace after May 10 would be the lowering of local electricity prices, which is already the highest in the Asian region next only to Japan but is still going up.
Just this month, electricity bills, regardless of user, jumped multifold despite the existence of structures for a supposed free market in the generation and supply of electricity.

The stock reason given by the industry is that with the long drought, water dams are starting to dry up and hydroelectric plants are practically idle.

Hydroelectric plants are the cheapest source of electricity and the use of alternative and much costlier means to generate power are pulling up electricity bills.

The argument, however, was precisely the reason the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) was enacted to address electricity supply and at the same time bring down prices.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/

Part of a grand plan? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 04/19/2010

Part of a grand plan?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

From the start, it was evident that the murder charges, along with rebellion charges against the Ampatuans were very weak, and likely to be thrown out.

The reason was fairly clear early on: At the time of the massacre, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan had a fool-proof alibi: He was in Malacañang and having a meeting when the massacre was ongoing. This was pretty much recorded, as even presidential adviser Gabby Claudio was heard by media stating that Zaldy was with him in Malacañang having a meeting.

Zaldy and his father, Andal Sr., were alleged to be the brains behind the massacre, along with Andal Jr. But this is charge is pretty hard to prove, especially in a conspiracy case. As things stood, there was said to be just one witness claiming that Zaldy and one more Ampatuan were behind the slaughter.

The case against Andal Sr. and Jr., may be a bit different, but even that may be too difficult to prove in the end.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100419com2.html

Chocolate makers show off Syria’s sweeter side FEATURE 04/19/2010

Chocolate makers show off Syria’s sweeter side


DAMASCUS — Belgium and Switzerland may be the current kings of chocolate, but Syrian confectioners believe another country deserves to be up there too, and already they are feeding an international sweet tooth.

Syria’s traditional Arabic sweets are loved across the Middle East, and its people are famed for their culinary skills, with a rich cuisine built on the abundant produce of Damascus’ fertile green belt, the Ghouta.

But few realize it also makes first-class chocolate, with an export industry that is booming as the Syrian economy opens up to the world.

Despite long having had a reputation as the bad boy of Middle East politics, Syria is slowly emerging from international isolation. And among those taking the lead are Syrian confectioners.

“Why Syrian chocolate? Why not? What do countries like Switzerland and Belgium have that we in Syria don’t have to make chocolate?” Bassam Ghraoui, who heads Syria’s most famous chocolate maker, told AFP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100419com3.html

Time’s Aquinorroyo whopper cum blooper DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 04/19/2010

Time’s Aquinorroyo whopper cum blooper

Herman Tiu Laure
Anyone who has a basic sense of perspicacity in politics now sees the emerging final battle: Erap and his great masa votes swamping the oligarchy’s last champion, Aquinorroyo. As the pace setter for the rest of the Philippines in elections past, and being the center of opposition sentiment in the country, Metro Manila is generating quite an unequivocal trend that is now being gleaned by the latest honest polls.

By the way the national debate is going, framed by the NP vs LP tit-for-tat, the Yellow dummy is getting to be perceived as just another Gloria Arroyo clone. And with Lakas-Kampi lieutenant-generals such as Joey Salceda joining him, and half his family tree still working for Gloria, this is becoming clearer by the day.
Once the masa sentiment all over the country fuses, the nuclear reaction is going to be unstoppable, which is why Uncle Sam is doubly worried.

Enter Time magazine with its puff piece on Aquinorroyo via a total whopper of a fish story about the US’ new dummy, reminiscent of what this publication has done for previous Gloria Arroyos (i.e. Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos). Carrying Aquinorroyo on its cover, Time describes its new pin-up as one who conducts himself “with an air of almost Gandhian simplicity and uprightness” and with an “awkward figure: Shirt loose, pants baggy and hair thinning (making him look) more an abashed computer nerd...”

But this Time coverboy with “Gandhian simplicity,” it must be stressed, did a Rambo rampage in RAM’s 1989 coup attempt and is a known gun aficionado. He is also an unabashed apologist for the violence inflicted by his family’s security guards on Hacienda Luisita strikers of whom over a dozen were killed.

Mahatma Gandhi is the anti-British and anti-colonial Indian leader of struggle through passive resistance. He led hundreds of millions of his countrymen — both Hindi and Muslim — to freedom by resisting the onerous British colonial taxes and trade impositions, such as the tax on salt, a basic human necessity, and the ban on India ’s domestic production.
Gandhi and his people marched 240 miles from Ahmedabad to the coastal town of Dandi, and upon reaching the sea, they started making salt from seawater, thus breaking the law. This led to civil disobedience in many parts of India where 60,000 people were arrested. That salt march gave Indians the self-respect and confidence that they could gain independence. Moreover, Gandhi broke the British monopoly on cotton cloth by promoting the spinning wheel — which appears on the Indian flag today as the symbol of self-reliance and independence.

Mahatma Gandhi is mankind and human history’s icon of universal love and peaceful struggle or Satyagraha, as well as, truth. It is ironic that the international body supposedly set up to honor the great contributors to human achievement and international peace, the Nobel Peace Prize, has never awarded its much vaunted recognition to Gandhi. Is it because the white-led Nobel Peace Prize committee does not want the anti-colonial icon to be projected as the paradigm for the rest of the world in combating the West’s modern-day neo-colonialism?
Gandhi used to walk his thousand endless walks and marches for the cause of anti-colonialism in his self-woven loin cloth, treading the long miles barefoot or in sandals. He lived in his Ashram, a religious hermitage, most of his later life. That is the simplicity that Gandhi lived by.

In contrast, the Time puff piece for Aquinorroyo merely attempts to paint him as upright and downright simple, down to his loose shirt and baggy pants. But I don’t know what his thinning hair has to do with simplicity or how his simpleton persona could be interpreted as computer-nerdiness.

What is clear is that someone who is upright would not set up a commercial security agency named BSA (which stands for Benigno Simeon Aquino) to take advantage of his mother’s imposing presidential presence and corner almost all government agencies’ and buildings’ security contracts amounting to hundreds of millions in the seven years she was the supreme power in the land. That was clearly not a deed of an upright man but of an opportunist preying on the vulnerability of government subalterns.

In fact, would an upright man even vote against the airing of the “Hello Garci” tapes and be against finding out the truth? So much for their Gandhian analogy!

Former Ambassador Kristie Kenney made the US’ imperialist stand very plain when she appeared on a local entertainment show wearing yellow. Time merely upped the ante with its whopper of a puff piece. But given this blatant, incompetent, ridiculous, and, I must say, pathetic attempt at drawing parallelisms between Gandhi and the Yellow dummy, the whopper became more of a blooper.

At any rate, I am delighted by such a blooper as the people can now see how badly the US wants to replace the “old” Arroyo with the “new” Aquinorroyo dummy. So let us all remember everything that came with the Aquinorroyos: Neo-colonial and elitist rule, VAT, globalization, privatization, oil deregulation, precipitous power and water rate increases, the loss of Sabah, the unconstitutional Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, the resurgence of insurgencies, rice shortages, coups d’etat, ad nausea.

A vote for another Aquinorroyo is a vote for US interests against the Filipino nation. Spread the word.
(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 21, Talk News TV, Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on “Tsinoy Candidates: A Critical Review;” also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100419com4.html

Thailand’s wounded relive bloody Bangkok clashes FEATURE 04/19/2010

Thailand’s wounded relive bloody Bangkok clashes



BANGKOK — Perched on a hospital bed, Jantara Jantasuk says he remembers troops clashing with protesters and a volley of gunshots and explosions before a bullet pierced his torso, knocking him to the ground.
He was one of more than 800 persons wounded on April 10 after a failed army crackdown on Red Shirt anti-government demonstrators sparked street battles in Bangkok that left 23 persons dead in the worst civil violence in 18 years....

“Soldiers and Red Shirts were trying to push each another back and forth. I didn’t see who shot me. I was still conscious but I fell down immediately,” says the 35-year-old, who collapsed in the capital’s historic quarter... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100419com5.html

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