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Drilon or Pangilinan? EDITORIAL 06/08/2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Drilon or Pangilinan?

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Both Liberal Party (LP) senators, Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan, better known as “Mr. Noted,” are vying for the Senate presidency, with their public announcement of their intention to run for the Senate’s top post, with the opening of the 15th Senate.

The two senators also said they had agreed that the LP will field only one candidate. The question then is: Would either Drilon or Pangilinan become the next Senate President, given the fact that the LP senators, by themselves, have only three or four senators in the 15th Congress?

Either one could, if they can get the majority of senators to go their way, which is why there is always only a majority and minority bloc, instead of a party bloc, as a majority in the Senate.
Drilon or Pangilinan could get the presidency, if it can get the current minority bloc — save for the retiring senators and the new ones, to vote for the LP bet.

It will have to be recalled that, when the 15th Congress opens, the Senate will again be short of 24 members, with Sen. Noynoy Aquino winning the presidential race. And then too, there is detained military rebel-turned Sen. Sonny Trillanes, who cannot vote, having lost his case before the high court. That leaves only 22 voting senators. To get the Senate presidency, 13 votes are needed.

Even if say, the LP manages to tap at least 11 senators, if one or two abstain from electing the LP bet, that would still be short of 13 votes, which vote is required by the Constitution.

For the LP, this appears to be impossible at this time, as the Nacionalista Party (NP), the LPs campaign foe, is not likely to support either Drilon or Pangilinan. It is more likely that, in the Senate at least, where each senator is a republic unto himself, the NP will be fielding its own bet, not necessarily from the NP camp — unless Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar goes for the top slot — and with the NP coalescing with other smaller parties to form a majority bloc.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com1.html

Failure of automation FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/08/2010

Failure of automation

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
It will hardly be admitted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), its partner, Smartmatic-TIM, and of course the winning candidates that the automated presidential election was an utter failure.

Sure, the automation gave out the election results just hours after the polls closed, but were the results correct and accurate and were they credible?

More importantly, were the votes rigged, to favor certain candidates?

 There is certainly a lot of doubt, given the many mysterious ways the poll body and Smartmatic went into, to ensure that a lot of human intervention came into play — which human intervention was supposed to have been eliminated by the Automated Election System (AES).

Truth is, the Comelec insisted on going into the AES, knowing that it was ill-prepared for automation, refusing to strictly adhere to the automation law which called for some sort of a pilot automated election, with just a few cities, provinces and municipalities in the three regions of the country participating, having been blinded by the huge P11.3 billion budget of the Comelec for the 2010 polls.

Truth too, is that the Comelec bungled the AES, big time, along with its partner, Smartmatic, that was probably only to eager to do away with a lot of provisions of the automation law and the contract demands.

After all, even as Smartmatic and Comelec failed the SysTest Lab’s 99.995 accuracy test, mainly because the conditions demanded by SysTest for such accuracy and integrity of the program and system were never met, they still claimed that such a certification was issued, which was a complete lie, since conditions imposed by SysTest were never complied with.

There were just too many anti-fraud safeguards to ensure the credibility and accuracy of the results of the automated elections.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com2.html

Racism still thriving in jury selection in US south — study focus 06/08/2010

Racism still thriving in jury selection in US south — study


WASHINGTON — Having an “out of wedlock child” was enough to remove a black juror from a 1998 Mississippi murder trial involving an African-American and a white victim. Since then, nothing much has changed in the old south, a study said.

When it was all over, Alvin Robinson was found guilty by a jury of 10 whites and two blacks, and sentenced to 20 years behind bars for a murder he claimed was in self defense.

Two years later, an appeals court annulled the sentence arguing that prosecutors used seven of 10 allowed peremptory strikes on prospective jurors who were black.

One of the candidates stared too long at a prosecutor, another had failed to mention she was divorced, and yet a third was declared an outsider after living in the same county for 10 years.

The appeals court found the prosecutor’s reasons far fetched, exaggerated and improbable, labeling them as racist.
But not all African-Americans in southern United States are as lucky as Robinson.

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a non-profit equal justice advocacy group, published a report last week showing that prosecutors from southern states continue to select juries by the color of their skin, in particular when the defendant is black.

Most of the time, the report added, the prosecutors’ decisions are upheld in courts of appeal.

“From 2005 to 2009, in cases where the death penalty has been imposed, prosecutors in Houston County, Alabama, have used peremptory strikes to remove 80 percent of the African American qualified for jury service,” the advocacy group said.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com3.html

Appointing Boy Abunda, et al. NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 06/08/2010

Appointing Boy Abunda, et al.

Armida Siguion-Reyna
This appears to be among the first things the presumptive president-elect wants to do, for he announced it himself last week, almost soon after admitting that he had offered the Department of Justice portfolio to former Supreme Court top gun Reynato Puno, but got turned down.

There are two versions of the story, too. Some say Noynoy Aquino did not mean a Cabinet secretary post for the TV host; others insist Aquino was merely talking about a lower government position for his youngest sister’s “BFF” (Best Friend Forever).

Whatever it is, it’s also the first time a television personality has been singled out by a presumptive president for recognition and praise. “Think about it from a marketing perspective, things that you would want to market the Philippines for,” said Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III. “He (Abunda) will be a good communicator. Totoong kausap yan. Walang agenda other than what he will publicly say. Tapos pwedeng pagkatiwalaan ng buo.”
So naturally there’s great negative reaction to the declaration. 

The envious openly want Abunda’s head on a platter. The pretending-not-to-be-envious play nonchalant but engage in a whisper campaign against him, and this group I hear includes the “do-gooder celebrities” in the Aquino-Roxas campaign group. Initially dedma toward the highly popular Abunda’s campaigning for their candidate, the do-gooders are reputed to be the first to turn green with envy greener than La Salle Green and much greener than Gibo’s green, upon hearing Aquino’s open preference for Abunda.

“He’s okay naman,” commented a former entertainer who likes to imply she’s no longer singing professionally by choice, when the truth is hindi na nga siya makakanta, hindi na rin siya maganda, so no one’s hiring her anymore. “But he’s Boy Abunda. Imagine Inday Badiday as Tourism secretary.”

To make her point, the entertainer conveniently glosses over the well-documented smarts of the late Inday Badiday, in real life Lourdes Jimenez-Carvajal, daughter of former Philippine National Railways Chairman and former Ambassador to Korea Nicanor Jimenez and sister of Philippine Daily Inquirer editor-in-chief Leticia Jiminez Magsanoc. But never mind that.

What’s galling is that the woman is known to be salivating over certain posts, and excuse me, the balita is that she’s set to turn down “small” assignments such as the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, or the Film Development Council, for it’s the Presidential Management Staff, or nothing.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com4.html

A tarnished national treasure AN OUTSIDERS VIEW Ken Fuller 06/08/2010

A tarnished national treasure

Ken Fuller
A decade ago, the team from a British garden-makeover show sprang a surprise on Nelson Mandela, remodeling his garden while he was abroad. Learning that this was a British Broadcasting
Corp. (BBC) enterprise, he became effusive, impressing on the team that the BBC was a national treasure to be jealously guarded.

What he was referring to was the BBC’s reputation for independence and impartiality, and it’s easy to see that, when compared to the controlled media during the apartheid years in Mandela’s own country, the corporation must have seemed the acme of media freedom.

True enough, although state-owned (unlike BBC World, the domestic version carries no advertising, the funding coming from an annual license fee paid by each householder with a television set) the BBC is never shy about attacking the government of the day. John “Rottweiler” Humphrys regularly savages politicians on Radio 4’s early-morning Today program, while his TV equivalent is Jeremy Paxman on BBC2’s Newsnight (five nights a week, but sadly only seen in a 30-minute weekly version on BBC World). Recently, Paxman aggressively exposed the hypocrisy of Conservative leader David Cameron (who, since then, has become prime minister).

Mandela was right to be concerned about the BBC’s future, because there were then, and are now, forces at work which would like to scale down its operations, and maybe even defang it. It would be a mistake, however, to exaggerate the damage those fangs can do, because while aggressive interviewers may launch into individual politicians with alacrity, the corporation pulls its punches when it comes to “the Establishment” as a whole, and peddles obscurantism as willingly as dumbed-down Murdoch channels.

In fact, in its early days the BBC, rather than enjoying a reputation for journalistic freedom and liberal values, was known as a staunch and stuffy defender of the status quo. There was even a time when announcers — even on the radio, where they could not be seen — were required to wear dinner jackets.

What brings this on? Well, a few weeks ago I was watching the news on BBC World when up sprang an item on the Turin Shroud, which the Pope was about to visit. To my ears, the report was lopsided in that while it made sure we knew that believers were convinced that the cloth, which bears the image of a man who has apparently been crucified, is nothing less than the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, the opposite viewpoint was given scant attention. And, of course, the very fact that this event was considered news betrayed an assumption of legitimacy.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com5.html

Liberia hopes to find money growing on trees FEATURE 06/08/2010

Liberia hopes to find money growing on trees


GREENVILLE — Conserve the rainforests and we will pay you... so goes the gist of an ambitious plan by the West to protect forests in developing countries, including Liberia.
And it could earn Africa billions of dollars.

With its lush forests vulnerable to miners and loggers, Liberia is well-placed to join the scheme, through which African nations would earn money while at the same time helping the West to meet its climate change goals.
Simply put, the scheme would see developing nations preserve their forests in return for cash from carbon-spewing industrialized countries.

The forests would act as a massive sink to soak up harmful carbon emissions that are a prime factor behind global warming.

Poor and battered by war but with its 40 percent forest cover under threat from farming, mining and logging, Liberia is a prime location for the project known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Successful implementation could help in its development while protecting a fragile environment the over-burdened government doesn’t have the ability to spend money on.

“Sequestration of carbon is a new product that Africa can sell and the global community wants,” Ravi Prabhu, senior program officer for forests and climate change with the UN Environment Program (UNEP) told AFP.
“Looking across the Congo Basin, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Nigeria, Ghana — all the forested countries could gain enormously from this.”

Trees absorb the carbon via photosynthesis and change it into oxygen.

While carbon stock assessments have not yet been carried out, Liberia’s forest is believed to store between 100 to 300 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare..... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com6.html

Offer you can refuse? Holidays at an ex-mafia hideout focus 06/08/2010

Offer you can refuse? Holidays at an ex-mafia hideout


CORLEONE — Here’s an offer that may not be so hard to refuse: a few nights’ stay at the former hideout of a ruthless mafia boss near the town that partly inspired the Godfather books and films.

Not sold on a break in blood-stained land?

Consider this: there’s no more sleeping with the fishes, as the Sicilian saying goes.

The property, which includes the sheep pen where imprisoned mafia chief Toto Riina once hid out, has been transformed into a rustic bed-and-breakfast in the heart of western Sicily and given a new name, the “Lands of Corleone.”

It forms part of a list of former mafia assets seized by Italian authorities and recently turned into holiday spots, vineyards or olive oil factories, giving new life to lands tainted by violence and crime.

There’s no hint that one of the clan’s grislier murders of the 1990s was carried out not far away, when Riina’s right-hand man Giovanni Brusca strangled the young Giusepppe di Matteo then dissolved his body in acid to punish the teenager’s father for turning state’s witness.

Consider another project some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) down the road, where a sign reading “mafia-seized asset” greets clients of the “I Cento Passi” winery — named for a 2002 movie on the mafia killing of journalist Peppino Impastato.

“We are right outside of Corleone, and this fully planted vineyard proves that, starting out from nothing, we can produce excellence, a vine offering its most refined varieties,” Francesco Galante of the Libera association said.
Libera, an anti-mafia organization founded by a Catholic priest, the Reverend Don Ciotti, specializes in the remodeling of seized assets. But that job has not come without its risks.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com7.html

Treat AFP with honor, dignity, Bangit urges By Mario J. Mallari 06/08/2010

MILITARY CHIEF lashes at Noynoy, yellows

Treat AFP with honor, dignity, Bangit urges

By Mario J. Mallari
Apparently irked over the continuing calls for his resignation, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit yesterday lashed back at the camp of soon to be proclaimed president-elect, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, as he called on the incoming administration to treat the 120,000-strong military organization with “honor and dignity.”

In a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Bangit particularly chided Aquino’s spokesman lawyer Edwin Lacierda for calling for his resignation and other ranking military officers, apparently to give Aquino a free hand in installing new officials.

“There have been an announcement made by Mr. Lacierda for me to resign, despite my acknowledgment that I serve under the pleasure of the commander in chief. He (Lacierda) does not know what he is talking about. They should know and understand that a soldier is either relieved, reassigned or has to stay in his post if his superiors want him to stay,” said Bangit.

Earlier, the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed Bangit and 302 other senior officers of the AFP.

Bangit’s non-confirmation drew speculations from senators he should vacate his post immediately.

Aquino himself earlier hinted he was not inclined to retain Bangit as AFP chief, noting his appointment by President Arroyo came a day before the two-month ban on appointments last March 9, amid the clamor for the extension of his predecessor, Gen. Victor Ibrado.

The AFP chief, however, stressed that resignation in the military is an “abdication of duty, in our Articles of War, particularly AW 58, and that is punishable under our system.

“I have no intention of holding on to my position but even then I would not waste my remaining time in the Armed Forces, no matter how long and no matter how short that can be, so long as I am here I will be the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Bangit pointed out.

Bangit branded recent calls for his resignation following the CA bypassing last Friday as new attempts to destroy the AFP. He also admitted contemplating in the matter of availing himself of an early retirement due to disappointment and belief that other AFP officers were bypassed because of him but decided otherwise to protect the military organization.

“Instead of doing that (retiring), I decided to fight for the institution because I feel that every time they are hurting me, they are hurting our institution,” said Bangit.

“I came to realize that it is no longer me, this is no longer about General Bangit whom they doubt despite contrary to evidence. This has been about the AFP, this has been about our politicians who do not understand what the Armed Forces is all about…this has been about disregarding the military system,” said Bangit.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100608hed1.html

Smartmatic ‘super server,’ Davao queries stall canvass By Gerry Baldo 06/08/2010

Smartmatic ‘super server,’ Davao queries stall canvass

By Gerry Baldo

Yesterday’s canvass for the presidential and vice presidential candidates, which was supposed to be the last day of the verifications of the votes, with only five remaining Certificates of Canvass (CoCs) to be tallied dragged on for hours as members of the National Board of Canvassers (NBoC) were faced with CoCs without the required statement of votes and questions raised about an alleged “secret” server operated by poll equipment supplier Smartmatic at a building in Makati City.
The existence of the alleged super server was raised by lawyer Lindon Caña of Bangon Pilipinas.
According to Cesar Flores, head of Smartmatic, the “server” was part of the facilities it was required to set up under its contract with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Flores and Commissioner Gregorio
Larrazzabal said the questioned server was just a plain call center headed by one Venezuelan national with several people manning telephones and computers.
Larrazzabal and Flores said that the call center located at the 34th floor of Antel Building in Makati City is a support center of Smartmatic and Comelec that receives text messages and calls from over 48,000 technicians deployed around voting precincts on election day.
“It’s part of the system but there are no data there relative to the results of the elections,” Larrazzabal told members of the Senate-House joint committee. He said a lot of people do not know about the processes that have happened during the election that earned the ire of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, a member of the NBoC.
He took exception to the statement of Larrazabal.
Caña asked the panel to subject the super server to “forensic examination” to ascertain its operations. Another issue that pervaded the floor was about the absence of the statement of votes for Davao Cty.
George Garcia, counsel for Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) presidential candidate Joseph Estrada and Lakas Kampi CMD lawyer Romulo Makalintal objected to the canvassing of the CoCs from Davao City on the ground that these do not have the accompanying statement of votes.
Makalintal and Garcia maintained that without the statement of votes there would be no way for the NBoC to cross check the data on the COCs. Aside from that, the election lawyers maintained that the printing of the statement of votes that should accompany the CoCs is required under the law.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100608hed2.html

Palace: No special session for FoI passage By Aytch S. dela Cruz 06/08/2010

Palace: No special session for FoI passage

By Aytch S. dela Cruz

Holding a special session in the House of Representatives for the sake of ratifying the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill will not make any difference since the country is just counting days before the 15th Congress opens, Malacañang said yesterday.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said FoI advocates can certainly address this request to outgoing President Arroyo but he expressed doubts that this move can overturn that which has already happened.

“They are welcome to talk to the President about this but, you know, at this point, the next Congress already waiting in the wings and everyone is occupied with the transition and the new folks are coming in the government. The congressmen already had their chance in the regular sessions and they came very close to it and they still did not succeed, so it’s not clear to me how trying again (through a special session), at this point, will make a lot of difference,” Olivar explained.
Olivar argued that the FoI bill can always be re-filed in the next Congress or even address it to Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo herself who might want to take the lead in pushing this bill in the 15th Congress.

He has also maintained that the Arroyo administration should not be held accountable for the death of the FoI bill and neither should the four Arroyos absent in the House of Representatives during its final session held last Friday be singled out in the blame game.

Olivar implied that this problem on quorum has been attributed to so many reasons by several quarters including prior personal commitments that some lawmakers may have when the 14th Congress adjourned sine die last Friday and that there occurred a possible miscount by the secretary-general and the usual allegations coming from other party-list groups.

“It’s not clear to me what really went wrong but the bottom line is how ever you want to look at it and whatever the reason was, the sponsors of this bill have failed. So why should we believe that if we have another special session, they will succeed?” he said.

“Anyway, the other sponsors of bill manifested that the administration of Senator Aquino can take this matter into account. So, you know, maybe that’s a more productive way to go. In any case, for whatever its worth, the President supported it when she was the President and when she moves to Congress, they can count on at least one supporter for this bill and that could be her,” Olivar stressed.

Cibac partylist Rep. Joel Villanueva yesterday again claimed there was more than a quorum in last Friday’s closing session of the 14th Congress where the House was supposed to ratify the FOI Bill.

In a text message, Villanueva said that no less than 17 lawmakers who were listed as absent during the fatal session day, were actually on the floor when the roll was being called.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100608hed3.html

Norway joins int’l group monitoring peace talks By Michaela P. del Callar 06/08/2010

Norway joins int’l group monitoring peace talks

By Michaela P. del Callar
Norway has formally accepted membership in the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT), which oversees the ceasefire agreement between government troops and Muslim rebels in the restive southern Philippines, the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said.
In its Web site, the MILF said the confirmation was contained in a letter by Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Knot Solem, addressed to chief government peace negotiator Rafael Seguis and copy furnished to his counterpart in the MILF.
Norway, which earlier condi-tionally accepted the offer of the government and MILF peace panels to join the IMT last May, said it is interested to join the security component of the team, the MILF said.
Norway is the second newest member to join the IMT after the European Union. Original members were Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and Japan.
The IMT has been credited for significantly reducing clashes between the military and the Muslim rebels in the country’s volatile South.
It has four components namely, security, socio-economic, humanitarian and civilian protection.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100608hed4.html

Erap bares retirement from politics, showbiz 06/08/2010

Erap bares retirement from politics, showbiz

Former President Joseph Estrada is retiring from show business and politics as he intends to devote more of his time to his family, his children and grandchildren.

Estrada is currently in London. He attended the graduation of his daughter, Jerika, who was graduated with second honors for her International Business Administration course at the American Intercontinental University in London.
Jerika according to a report from ABS-CBN, is planning to pursue a Master’s Degree in Finance and Marketing, also in London.

The report claimed that Estrada was emotional when he was interviewed as he revealed his plans to finally quit politics and doing movies.

He maintained there is nothing more to prove after his having placed second to presidential frontrunner Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and garnering more than nine million votes in the May 10 polls.

There are an estimated 3 to 5 million votes that have been categorized as “null votes.”

Estrada won the presidency in 1998 with a vote count of some 10 million votes.

It is generally conceded that if former President Corazon Aquino did not die in August, her son Noynoy wouldn’t have stood a chance at winning the presidency.

As a Palace aide said: “If Cory had not died, Erap would have been our president again.”

But Estrada was not bitter about his loss.

He was quoted in the report as saying that “Almost everything was granted him as blessings. I am probably the luckiest person in that. I was given the opportunity to become a superstar, a mayor, a senator, a vice president and president and a prisoner yet..... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100608hed5.html

GMA abused power in midnight appointments By Angie M. Rosales 06/08/2010

GMA abused power in midnight appointments

By Angie M. Rosales

Last-minute appointments made by President Arroyo showed bad faith on her part, knowing very well that it would undercut her successor’s authority in picking his chosen officials for the job.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said this yesterday as he joined the growing ranks of senators urging those so-called midnight appointees to tender their courtesy resignations.

Arroyo’s move, making an estimated 250 “midnight appointments” last March or shortly before the ban on new appointments took effect, was clearly a blatant abuse of presidential power, the senator noted.

It is very unfortunate that the outgoing President would commit such offensive acts instead of exercising restraint and judiciousness in her decisions in her last months in office to ensure a smooth transition and avoid conflicts with the new administration, Pimentel added.

“If only for these reasons, the incoming President has the prerogative to ask for the courtesy resignation of the beneficiaries of midnight appointments,” he said.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100608hed6.html

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