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Day of shame EDITORIAL 06/06/2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day of shame

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The defeat of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill by default as a result of an intentional lack of quorum not only showed the reluctance or even fear among those in government to allow wide access to public documents but was also an indication of the still potent hand of Gloria Arroyo in the House of Representatives.

The force of number again held sway in that day of shame at the House. There was no way that Congress lacked quorum the other day when the FoI was tackled and Speaker Prospero Nograles was even about to bang the gavel for its approval when a congressman called his attention on the lack of quorum.

The absent bodies, however, were just lingering outside the plenary hall. Party-list Rep. Joel Villanueva even requested that the congressmen be compelled to be brought to the assembly even through arrest. A meeting then ensued and the bill was dead.

To be fair, however, with Villanueva’s motion for the arrest to be made for the absent congressmen, even if it was a good sound bite, was not as easy as all that, mainly because there are existing rules.

If an arrest call was made, it couldn’t have been enforced on that day, which was the last day for Congress to adjourn sine die.
The bill, however, which has been agonizing in the Congress pipeline for over a decade had only one fate as long as Gloria can exert influence in the House. And that is certain death.

For one, lack of quorum has been the usual course in the House when controversial measures that mainly address irregularities are tackled. Absence is the most cowardly way of voting in Congress since it saves face for the legislator and at the same time kills a popular measure.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com1.html

Not the end of it FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/06/2010

Not the end of it

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
The Freedom of Information (FoI) bill wasn’t expected to pass muster, for a great many reasons, part of which is the fact that neither the Malacañang tenants, past, present and future, nor the public officials would want the media poking their noses on official and therefore public documents — including their income tax returns.

Besides, even if that measure was passed, no doubt there would be some other implementing rules imposed, just as the implementing rules on the senior citizens’ exemption from the eVAT are taking forever.

Even if it was passed, the reality is that not every Tom, Dick, Harry or their female counterparts would be able to simply get hold of any public document — even under an (FoI) act. A lot of red tape would still have to be involved.

Then too, if government contracts are made public, one can be sure that not all of the items in the contract will be made public, such as supplements, amendments and annexes — most of which are much more important than the contract itself.

Take the case of the Comelec-Smartmatic contract. While it was made public at the start, not even the members of Congress were privy to the amendments made in that contract with Smartmatic, nor was it known that in the contract it is stated that the poll body can keep the automated machines just for 10 days after the polls close. Yet these machines that went very wrong during the elections and their transmissions are definitely evidence with which the protesting candidates can use in their complaints.

The point is, with or without an FoI, it won’t be a breeze for public and official documents to be obtained by just anyone — especially the nosy media..... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com2.html

Lowered House ENQUIRY Demaree J. B. Raval 06/06/2010

Lowered House

Demaree J. B. Raval
The failure of the House of Representatives to ratify — before it adjourned sine die last Friday — the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bills of the Senate and the House, respectively, is a betrayal of the public trust.

The Right to Know. Right Now! Coalition, of which Transparency International (Philippines) is a member, branded as doublespeak the claim of Speaker Prospero Nograles that he did his best to get the report on the FoI ratified. At the Kapihan sa Sulo yesterday, lawyer Nepomuceno Malaluan, coalition spokesman, said that even as Nograles publicly professed support for the ratification of the report, there were numerous acts by the House leadership that betray its determined resistance to secure the ratification.

The Senate had already ratified the report on the FoI in February of this year. Yet, Nograles found every reason not to have the same report ratified by the House of Representatives. On Feb. 2, 2010, copies of the report were distributed to the members of the House, but the members of the House mysteriously went missing at the session hall when it was calendared for ratification. Again, on Feb. 3, 2010, the House adopted or concurred with no less than 15 Senate bills, and ratified one conference committee report. However, the report on the FoI was conveniently left out. On May 24, 2010, Nograles implored the proponents of the bill to withdraw their motion to ratify the conference committee report, and committed to include it in the agenda of the House on May 31, 2010. May 31, 2010 came and went without any action on the report.

Then, on June 4, 2010, after succeeding in convincing Rep. Benny Abante, sponsor of the report, to deliver a manifestation on the prospective application of the FoI, obviously to shield some officials in the outgoing administration from any criminal action, Nograles, in a supreme act of betrayal, instead opened and closed the session, blitzkrieg style, and muzzled and gagged the proponents of the bill by turning off the microphones in the session hall, and invoking a quorum call which was unnecessary (or waived) in cases of ratification of conference committee reports.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com3.html

Election dagdag bawas MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 06/06/2010

Election dagdag bawas

Amb. Ernesto Maceda
While we respect the decision of the Joint Canvassing Committee headed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles, still it has been made clear that this automated election system involving the PCOS machines of Smartmatic are inefficient and recorded many errors, as admitted by Cesar Flores, Smartmatic chief who even apologized for the errors committed. Among the many errors, inflated 256 million voters recorded by the House of Representatives, the 158 million recorded by the Comelec server in the senatorial canvass and the many election returns pre-dated before May 10.

Protests from candidates in 42 provinces and cities are more than prima facie proof that electronic fraud has happened all over the country from Manila to Cotabato to Sulu.

The Comelec remains a principal suspect because it continues to refuse to heed calls for a simple, selective manual audit of votes to put the issue to rest. Opening a few ballot boxes in Antipolo, Manila, Quezon City and Cotabato should satisfy some doubting Thomases and critics.

Finally, Cesar Flores admitted that while the PCOS machines and their flashcards cannot be reprogrammed or reconfigured by outsiders, cheating can be done by insiders from Smartmatic, Comelec or even Provincial DoST officers.
The latest charge of dagdag bawas has come from an unlikely source — the Roxas camp. They claim they are victims of dagdag bawas. The necessary implication — was there dagdag bawas too against Erap?

Ugly head. Runaway crime reared its ugly head in the murder of a brother of BSP Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. and two others in Angeles City which has become a killing field. Rene Tetangco, 42, Governor Tetangco’s younger brother, Florencio Yap, a big hardware owner and Dennis Guinto, Yap’s aide, were found shot to dead inside their Ford Expedition parked in a vacant lot along Friendship Highway.

In notorious Payatas where killings occurred almost daily, Romualdo Magbanua, 25, was shot dead by two armed men in front of his common-law wife.

In Cavite, another favorite site for salvaging, two dead women who showed signs of salvaging turned up in Barangay Sta. Lucia, Dasmariñas City.

In Negros Oriental, two persons were killed and two others wounded in a shooting. Enriqueta Nanuco and a one-year old housemate were shot dead inside their house in Valencia town.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com4.html

How not to manage a rainforest BLURBAL THRUSTS Louie Logarta 06/06/2010

How not to manage a rainforest

Louie Logarta
There goes the neighborhood. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has just carved up the precious rainforest under its jurisdiction to make way for a sprawling “world-class tourism facility” estimated to cost around $1 billion despite furious protests from various environment conservation groups who are claiming that the project would greatly injure the fragile ecosystem existing therein, and most importantly deprive succeeding generations of Filipinos their heritage.

The resort complex project to be located in the Bataan peninsula — which was recently given the green light by the SBMA in favor of the real estate developer M Castle of Korea group, thus making it (aside from Hanjin Philippines shipbuilders which is said to be the world’s fourth-largest facility of its kind employing some 17,000 workers) the second-biggest investor in the Freeport — envisions a five-star hotel with 2,400 rooms that would put all others in Metro Manila to shame, several beach and forest condominium units that would be disposed of at dollar-denominated rates, a huge shopping mall, a water theme park, a medical center for medical tourism purposes, an English language learning school for Koreans naturally, a marina facility that would dwarf the Manila and Subic yacht clubs and a 36-hole golf course estimated to consume DAILY around 4.5 million liters of water just to maintain.

At what cost? Well, if nature conservationists are to be believed, we would have to sacrifice all of the flora and fauna with the 615-hectare beachfront property situated between the Freeport proper and Morong town that had been chosen by the Koreans, as well as the marine life in the small bay that would serve as the catchment basin for all the waste water coming from the planned resort complex.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza (who is now being bombarded with criticisms from the supporters of the group of President-apparent Noynoy Aquino that this M Castle contract is simply another midnight deal that President Arroyo can’t seem to get enough of) defended the tourism resort project as vital to the continued viability of the Subic Freeport.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com5.html

‘Po’ VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 06/06/2010


Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
There is something worth noting well and appreciating much in the relatively recent development in the Filipino language. Most probably it has been taught and insisted by the elders long since. But it is not really that long since it became a rather common practice. And it is quite not only consoling but also endearing. One only needs to listen a little more attentively to become conscious of, and grateful for it. At least, there is still this one good piece of news in this country that is continuously flooded by one piece of bad news after another.

Simple and plain, but true and real, the superlative of respect and deference word “Po!” is nowadays both ordinarily and distinctly used in conversations not only when the young address the adult, but also, and particularly so, when adults talk to adults. The truth is that the lesser respectful address “Ho!” seems to have disappeared from both ordinary and special conversations — although it is also a word or term of deference.
And there is one more amiable practice. This is when young people address someone older than they, as “Kuya” or “Ate” — and the like. Related they are not. Usually, they do not even know one another. But the respectful address as an older brother or sister precisely denotes a deferential relationship, a respectful communication.

Needless to say, all the above good tidings do not in any way compensate for the one too many wrong words and deeds continuously taking place in practically all parts of the country — the mere mention of which bring the Filipino spirit down and makes the Filipino heart hurt. But the more reason there is to be aware, to be glad and grateful for the Filipino respectful stance — together perhaps with the Filipino hospitality.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com6.html

Fate and faith TABLETS OF STONE Larry Faraon, OP 06/06/2010

Fate and faith

Larry Faraon, OP

Let’s just leave everything to fate and faith. If by next week the National Board of Canvassers proclaims the presumptive President-elect Noynoy Aquino as president of the Republic of the Philippines, then the people have spoken, even if doubts of election fraud continue to haunt the halls and conscience of the Comelec, Smartmatic and the Filipino electorate. As we have said in earlier write-ups, in any election, the winner or the loser is always the people. At this point, yes, as early as now, we would be presumptive to state that an Aquino government would utterly fail — but the early signs are telling.

Fickle mindedness even in informal statements, especially when they are coached by the horse whisperers should never be equated with dynamism of thought or youthful idealistic aggression, with which the Aquino youthful voters have identified themselves. 

One instance is the attitudinal flaw of swearing in first by a barangay captain then next by a Supreme Court justice friendly to the Aquinos. Neither the posturing of anti-traditional politician stance or being an anti-graft crusader could satisfy the hopes of a better chance or leverage for the poor in a ripped-apart society dominated by the elite, especially when the incoming president has no clear record of being such as an effective legislator in both houses in the past, especially also when his un-idealistic work ethic inappropriate for a top executive is common knowledge.
It is by faith in God and in miracles (or chance) that we salute the new president, especially when his strongest qualification is not even a qualification — namely, being the son of the late Aquino couple.

When the cards are down on the table and out of the hands of the excited or thrilled player, then the winners shall be known and reality sets in.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100606com7.html

House members bare script to kill FoI bill By Charlie V. Manalo 06/06/2010


House members bare script to kill FoI bill

By Charlie V. Manalo
Legislators narrated what went wrong after the House of Representatives failed to pass the Freedom of Information (FoI) on the last day of session of the 14th Congress, saying House members were really intent to kill the bill by arranging a face-saving script. 

Two lawmakers said those that conspired to block the passage of the bill wanted the enactment of the Right of Reply Bill (RoRB) that will force media to give way to rejoinders mainly from public officials who are the subjects of news stories as a parallel law to the FoI.

The non-passage of the controversial RoRB “forced conservative members of the lower chamber to block the ratification” of the FoI, according to two House members.

At the weekly Kapihan sa Sulo Forum, House committee on information chairman Manila Rep. Benny Abante and FoI main author, Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, told reporters that immediately after Speaker Prospero Nograles declared an adjournment sine die for the 14th Congress, some members of the House immediately approached them telling them had they passed the RoRB which would give news subjects equal time and space in all publications and news programs, they would have acceded and ratify the FoI bill.

“Immediately after the Speaker declared adjournment sine die, many House members were whispering behind my back saying that if we had only passed the RORB, the FOI bill would have been ratified,” said Tañada.

Abante validated the Quezon lawmaker’s statement saying several House members also approached him telling him the same.

“So you see, everything was scripted. There was no intent on the part of the House, including the leadership to ratify the bill,” Abante averred.

Nograles, meanwhile, denied that the junking of the bill was premeditated and “scripted” and pointed out that he himself was frustrated over the failure of the House to ratify the measure along with the other pending bills which only needed final approval in last day of the 14th Congress.

“ What scripted are they talking about?Hello? It was in open public transparent session in plenary. That’s’ a very unfair accusation.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100606hed1.html

3 kidnap victims killed in Basilan 06/06/2010

3 kidnap victims killed in Basilan


Three men have been found shot dead in Basilan nine days after they were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf demanding a ransom payment, local authorities yesterday said.

Rear Adml. Alex Pama, commander of the military Joint Task Force Trillium, said government troops tracking the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers recovered the bodies of Claudio Mañanita, Rolando Francisco and Dariel Quintela yesterday morning at the village of Sukaten following tips from civilians.

He added the three men appeared to have been killed last Friday.

“We recovered them today (Saturday) and subsequently turned them over to the PNP (Philippine National Police) and to their families,” said Pama of the three, who were snatched by the terrorists led by Furuji Indama at Libog village in Sumisip town last May 27 while aboard a passenger jeepney on their way to Isabela City.

Pama said the terrorists shot their captives as they fled from the area following a firefight at a nearby village between another group of Abu Sayyaf  elements and Scout Ranger soldiers Friday morning. 

Al-Rasheed Sakalahul, the vice governor of Basilan province, said the gunmen had contacted one of the victims’ families and demanded P1 million in ransom.

“The family was not able to raise the amount the abductors demanded,” Sakalahul told reporters, adding the gunmen may also have felt squeezed by the military’s search.

Army spokesman Maj. Ronald Jess Garcia said two soldiers were wounded in the fighting.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100606hed2.html

Proclamation of President, VP validates auto polls — Malacañang 06/06/2010

Proclamation of President, VP validates auto polls — Malacañang


Malacañang yesterday said the proclamation by Congress of the President and Vice President who won the May 10, 2010 elections yesterday or Tuesday validates the country’s first successful automated elections.

“The sooner we see them proclaimed, the better since it would validate our first national automated election as successful,” deputy presidential spokesman Rogelio Peyuan said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan yesterday morning.
“The incoming administration can be assured that the outgoing Arroyo administration is ready to transfer the reins of government into their hands in an orderly and peaceful fashion,” he added.
This coming week, the country will also focus on the Arroyo administration’s preparation for the celebration of Philippine Independence on June 12, a Saturday, and the preparation of the incoming administration of their inauguration, Peyuan said.
Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino vice presidential bet Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay continued to hold a tight grip on the top slots.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100606hed3.html

Arroyo not likely to extend Bangit By Gina Elorde 06/06/2010

Arroyo not likely to extend Bangit

By Gina Elorde

President Arroyo is not inclined to extend for three weeks the appointment of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit who was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) neither will she appoint a new Chief of Staff, a Palace spokesman said yesterday. 

Bangit’s appointment was bypassed by the CA last Friday when Congress adjourned, eliciting a remark from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile urging Bangit to step down. 

“We are talking here of only three weeks, so this should no longer be something to be debated on. If the next in line (Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang) is due to retire soon, according to the law, there is an automatic replacement for the next in line to take over as Chief of Staff,” Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan said on radio. 

Peyuan said the Palace will inquire “if Bangit’s non-confirmation has an automatic effect for him to immediately vacate the position.” 

“I suppose there will be some formalities. Maybe it is just unfortunate that it (his bypass) happened on a weekend. At any rate, this will not prevent the President from doing her constitutional obligation to communicate with the next in line on what to do,” Peyuan said.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100606hed4.html

Whether to stay or not up to appointees — Palace By Aytch S. de la Cruz 06/06/2010

Whether to stay or not up to appointees — Palace

By Aytch S. de la Cruz

Malacañang said it will not encourage the so-called midnight appointees of President Arroyo to do an Anita Carpon, Arroyo’s manicurist who declined her designation as a member of the board of the Pag-Ibig social fund, stressing that the 169 new appointments of Arroyo prior to a ban on government postings before the May 10 elections are “within the bounds of law with ample time for the appointing authority to issue such appointments.”
Other estimates place the midnight appointments of Arroyo at 250.

Deputy presidential spokesman Rogelio Peyuan yesterday said Arroyo would leave to the individual judgments
of the appointees whether or not to heed the advice of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Francis Escudero for them to resign to give incoming President Benigno Aquino III a free hand to name his choices for government positions. 

Peyuan’s statement was in contrast with the statement of another Palace spokesman, Charito Planas, who told reporters in a briefing last Friday that the Palace is advising the “latest appointees” to submit courtesy resignation to the incoming administration. 

Planas said there were no irregularity in the appointments made by President Arroyo but she suggested to these appointees to submit courtesy resignation to the next administration.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100606hed5.html

NBI joins poll fraud probe 06/06/2010

NBI joins poll fraud probe


Experts from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are set to examine pieces of evidence on alleged poll fraud committed in the May 10 national elections which will include examination of copy of compact discs, compact flash (CF) cards, computer program as well as the overall program of the Smartmatic to ferret out the truth behind the conduct of the automated election system.

Officials said personalities, including Smartmatic representatives, are expected to be subpoenaed to appear before the NBI in the next few days to shed light on the matter.

Earlier, the Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have ordered another division of the NBI to join in the investigation on the alleged election rigging.

NBI Director Nestor Mantaring ordered the NBI-Special Task Force (STF) to handle the investigation into the CF cards controversy while the NBI Anti-Crime Computer
Division was tasked to conduct probe into the alleged “Hello Nico.”... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100606hed6.html

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