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Abject failure EDITORIAL 06/28/2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Abject failure

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The best argument that the supposed economic progress under Gloria belongs to Peter Pan’s Neverland was the incessant need to defend it. If these are indeed real, Filipinos need no convincing on its existence.

The case with the Palace mouthpieces, however, is that whenever Gloria opens her mouth and falls into a trance about her fabled economic achievements, the next day, without fail, would have all of her three or four spokesmen scrambling in all forms of media to defend what she had dished out the previous day.

Each time Gloria enumerates her economic achievements, a rumbling of disbelief from the entire nation follows.
Gloria extolled in her farewell speech the supposed 37 quarters of uninterrupted growth which is already debatable since the growth standard used by most economists is how a quarter of economic output fared compared with the immediate previous quarter not a year ago. The economy quarter by quarter has featured contractions and at least twice during her term, the economy missed by a hairline entering into technical recession which happens if the economy shrinks in two successive quarters. The hairline miss was so small such as a growth of less than one percent that questions were raised on possible window dressing at the statistics department to preserve Gloria’s economic bragging rights.

Gary Olivar and Ricardo Saludo were the other day again hogging the airwaves justifying the growth claims of Gloria after her critics, primarily Sen. Francis Escudero, said the growth claim is totally negated by the huge P340 billion estimated budget deficit this year.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com1.html

All in the family again? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/28/2010

All in the family again?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Funny how inconsistent the yellow media can be, especially on issues they once blasted, such as First Ladies and First Gentlemen and their relatives and friends who have become influential during their spouses’ and relatives’ reign.

In the time of Joseph Estrada, the yellow media, more known as the anti-Erap media during his short reign, came up with reports of the then First Lady, Loi Estrada, having made a pile from the Philippine Sweepstakes Office, that was found to be not only false but malicious.

They also made much of the inaugural pledge of Erap’s no friends and no family, and went on to come up with unsubstantiated reports on some of his family members and friends going into influence-peddling.

In the time of Gloria, during her second reign, and after the “Hello Garci” tapes expose, they ganged up on Fist Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his kith and kin, criticizing them for interfering in government and state affairs.

But the yellow media today say nothing about the fact that the President-elect’s sisters are directly involved, not only in Noynoy Aquino’s decisions, but even offer and vet the candidates for his Cabinet.

So why the double standard? And hey, the Filipinos who voted for Noynoy presumably did not vote for the entire Aquino family as President of the Republic, yet nothing is being said about this anomalous situation.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com2.html

For sculptor of real bodies, surgery is art FEATURE 06/28/2010

For sculptor of real bodies, surgery is art


NEW YORK — Sculptors have for centuries used wood and stone to carve the human body, but Dr. Anthony Berlet prefers the real thing.

Berlet is curator of an exhibition in New York that he hopes will spark a debate over the idea that plastic surgery is art.

While an ordinary face-lift is routine, nose reconstruction, or rhinoplasty, is entirely different, according to Berlet.
“To understand it structurally and to be able to alter it to the point where you can say this is what I want to create for you, this is how I’m going to create it, I think that takes artistic skill, a good eye and a certain amount of creativity,” Berlet said.

The exhibition, titled “I Am Art: An Expression of the Visual and Artistic Process of Plastic Surgery,” features gruesome video footage and stills of operations, deformities and the results of accidents.

They are meant to show that beauty, like the artistic process, is not easily achieved.

“I wanted to show so much,” Berlet says of a nose operation. “It’s a whole sculpting of the tip. It’s not just a simple cut cut trim. There’s a whole creative process to it.”

The pictures require a strong stomach, but that does not mean they are not, in their own way, beautiful.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com3.html

Off to a sad start DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 06/28/2010

Off to a sad start

Herman Tiu Laurel

La Salle Bro. Armin Luistro was finally appointed to run the Department of Education (DepEd) under the incoming regime of BSA III. And among the first items on his agenda is to “review the sex education program to be implemented in the schools nationwide.” This really alarmed and saddened us. We thought we would hear Luistro putting top priority on how to arrest the falling rate of enrollment in public and private schools. We thought he would lay out some new innovative solutions to the dire straits we are in, if not some radical approaches on how to solve the dismal state of health and nutrition of millions of our starving public elementary students. Instead, Bro. Luistro tells the nation he’s going to focus first on “sex education,” a matter we seriously doubt he has much real experience in.

What we were hoping to hear from the incoming DepEd secretary is a policy statement that will allay the fears of those concerned about the private schools’ pilfering of government’s public education budget through the “voucher system,” where public school students are sent to classes of private schools paid for by the government. When Butch Abad was first touted for the Education post, this concept was immediately floated. But the fact is, even the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), in the June 16, 2010 statement of Msgr. Gerry Santos, has aired fears over the impact of private school students migrating en masse to public and state schools due to tuition fee increases and the increasing economic constraints of Filipino families.

It is the public schools and state colleges that should be strengthened in this time of global economic contraction brought about by the exploitative globalist system. And yet why is the reverse being sought?

In the same statement, Santos also said that the Catholic private schools continue to experience “a downtrend of enrollment” each year, and lamented that some students from private schools would prefer to stop schooling than face the “shame” of going to public schools. This is how wrong the elitist orientation and culture of many of the private (and top Catholic) schools are — like the “system” of schools Luistro runs.

Meanwhile, left without representation in the Cabinet is the public and state educational system which takes care of 86 percent of the total student population (or 20.17 million students) even as only 3.26 million (or 14 percent) are enrolled in private schools. At the same time, primary school enrollment continues to decline alarmingly, as seen in data culled from 2002 to 2007 showing a decline from 90 percent to 83 percent, attributed to “widespread poverty aggravated by rising cost of fuel and food.”

Bro. Armin Luistro will have to find a solution to these ever-increasing tuition fees. This year, 332 schools have sought increases that ranged from 7 percent to 20 percent. Just imagine: In an economy where official unemployment has gone up to 8 percent and underemployment to 18 percent (considering that these numbers are already fudged), these increases will be condemning more and more young Filipinos to a future of poverty.

There are still more daunting statistics that 24 years of liberalization of the economy and of education under the Yellows have spawned: For every 100 students entering 1st grade, 33 drop out before Grade 5; while for the same proportion of high school freshmen, 31 drop out before finishing the secondary term. In all, only 66.06 percent of high school teenagers go to secondary school. In the midst of these endless life-and-death issues, Armin Luistro is still seriously focusing on “sex education?”

Frankly, even if he came from the most exclusive and elitist of schools, Luistro could have still inspired a modicum of hope if he had started to show some understanding of the real priorities in our national education crisis. I would have been more hopeful if I had heard him say that he will initiate a nationwide cable-through-satellite TV education campaign to every one of the approximately 45,000 barangays, which would vastly reduce the need for teachers and administrators; or that he will move to revive the “4H Clubs” in all the elementary schools so that every student can grow food to help themselves and their families. I would have been more encouraged if Luistro had propounded plans to re-regulate all private schools — even standardize their facilities — so that none of them can charge exorbitant fees on the pretext of “upgrading,” especially when such later prove to be unnecessary and wasteful.

Nothing short of a revolution can save the growing number of our children and teeners from a future of ignorance and hopeless existence. What we need is a total social revolution that first involves the economy, then spreads to every other facet of society, foremost being the educational system.

But can any revolution happen under Luistro who, by all indications, will only continue the prayle system in our nation’s educational milieu? This is truly another sad moment for the BSA III Cabinet. But then, should anyone be surprised when the Code-NGO Peace “Bond girl” Dinky Soliman was one of the very first to get appointed? Well, expect more disappointments to come.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable Channel 21, Talk News TV — Infowars Edition on “Power Piracy Again?,” Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.; also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com4.html

West African al-Qaeda earns millions from hostage business FEATURE 06/28/2010

West African al-Qaeda earns millions from hostage business


NOUAKCHOTT — An al-Qaeda branch has raked in millions of dollars from ransoms, funding a tiny but well-oiled army whose influence spans large parts of west Africa now too dangerous for tourists, say experts.

There may be only around 300 of them, but al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is highly mobile, well-equipped and omnipresent.

They are involved in drug trafficking and are ready to pay good money to local criminals who bring them western hostages.

The kidnapping of tourists, which began in 2003 when 32 German and Swiss travelers were seized in southern Algeria, has become big business for local thugs.
“The word gets out: ‘we are buying hostages,’” says AQIM expert Louis Capriolo, deputy director of the French internal intelligence service from 1998 to 2004.

“Kidnappings are now carried out by local groups, thugs... who sell their catch,” he said.

“The AQIM men leave their shelters in northern Mali to fetch their prey and move on. Next, the negotiations begin and millions (of dollars) are obtained, allowing large premiums to be paid to the original kidnappers.”

Hostages are seized from areas seen as secure and far from the AQIM bases, a fact which makes tourists think twice before visiting the area where Toubabs (whites) mostly venture these days only for business, under heavy escort.

French researcher Pierre Boilley from the Sorbonne in Paris, a specialist in Sahelian nomads, has been unable to carry out fieldwork in nearly two years.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com5.html

Goodbye, Gloria! HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 06/28/2010

Goodbye, Gloria!

Aldrin Cardon
I’m sure it wasn’t for just for kicks when Perry Legaspi, a college buddy and former media man, started the “Goodbye, Gloria!” thread in Facebook. In fact, it took off from party-list group Akbayan’s campaign countdown, a sort of a send-off for the illegal Malacañang occupant and her family, whose names have become equal to graft and corruption while Gloria’s would rival that of Marcos in so many ways.

There hasn’t been a formal survey on people who would want to say good riddance to GMA, although we could consider all previous popularity surveys that ditched Gloria big time as an indication of how badly the nation would want Gloria out of its political picture.

The recent elections could also provide us with the numbers as reflected in the votes garnered by President-elect Noynoy Aquino and former President Estrada as indicative of the people’s wish to do away with anything and anyone associated with Gloria.

In fact, not even the combined votes garnered by other presidential candidates, who at one time or another have been GMA allies, especially during that Edsa 2001 folly that was actually a coup d’etat, could manage to obliterate the votes earned by the top two presidential rivals.

So many wanted Gloria to leave, really, that even Perry’s Facebook thread picked up “likes” as fast as you can push the like button for Maja Salvador or Marian Rivera.

But Gloria isn’t leaving Malacañang without a fight. In fact, she had started a public relations campaign aimed at deodorizing her illegitimate nine-year reign months ago.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com6.html

Gloria SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 06/28/2010


Dinah S. Ventura
Nine years of our lives were spent under President Arroyo’s reign. From 2001 to 2009, many of us chafed under a leadership that turned out to be big on words and small on results. The economic brains that promised to handle the problems of the Philippines better than her predecessor lost her credibility in our eyes the minute she blamed the past to justify her less than satisfactory performance early on, then reneged on her word one too many times.

As President Arroyo gives way on Wednesday to President Benigno Aquino III, one can’t help but look back at the last decade, which kicked off with a roar of dissatisfaction and ended with a sigh.

Numbers don’t lie. Records show that poverty has not lessened throughout the nine years Gloria spent in power, which was longer than those of former Presidents Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, while corruption has flourished.

One-third of the nation’s 92 million people are still living below poverty line, while the very rich have gotten even richer. Unemployment has remained depressingly high — higher even than when she became president, according to analysts.

Gloria’s term was marked by issues of corruption and human rights abuses, which reverberated louder than her administration’s constant announcements of economic growth. Why? Because while numbers would say that there was, indeed, economic development under the Arroyo leadership, a significant chunk of the population barely felt the results.

Arroyo ends her term with a 7.3 percent gross domestic product (GDP), “the highest annual figure in 30 years,” says an AFP report. The President-turned-congresswoman is proud to say that under her leadership, the country posted growth “in the face of global crises like international terrorism, high global oil prices and a worldwide recession.”... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100628com7.html

Six-year term too short to make difference — Noy By Angie M. Rosales 06/28/2010

Too many problems inherited from Gloria

Six-year term too short to make difference — Noy

By Angie M. Rosales

President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino admitted yesterday that his six-year administration may not make a major difference in Filipinos’ lives as he takes over as President on Wednesday of a nation with great expectations but saddled with a slew of problems, including worsening poverty, pervasive corruption, decades-long insurgencies, empty state coffers and crumbling infrastructure all inherited from nine years of misrule from President Arroyo.
“You have to be humble to say you are not Superman and Einstein combined. You don’t have all the solutions at your fingertips from Wednesday,” he told reporters.

And amid enormous expectation following nine years of rule under the deeply unpopular Gloria Arroyo, Aquino said his six-year term in office may well be too short to make a major difference.

For starters, Sen. Edgardo Angara said new taxes as well as more foreign borrowings were inevitable under the incoming administration.

“We cannot help but engage in new borrowings because our income from taxation is not enough. We have to make new loans to cover our deficit. What is important is that when you make new loans, it should really be spent for its purpose. You really need to expand, improve your economy,” he said.

Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said the Aquino administration may have no choice but to incur more borrowings to plug the estimated P349-billion record budget blowout this year.

“There is what we call public borrowing program in the budget. It’s programmed in the budget. Same as the deficit program, we’re allowed to exceed P20 billion to P30 billion but that can easily be covered though borrowing and savings, when you step up collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue(BIR) etc.,” he said.

Aquino was swept to the presidency amid great hopes for change, but he was warned that not even Superman could fix the country’s many deep-rooted problems.

Achieving a landslide win in last month’s elections was probably the easy part for the son of democracy heroine Corazon Aquino, according to Raul Fabella of the University of the Philippines School of Economics.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100628hed1.html

Noynoy retains Romulo as DFA chief By Michaela P. del Callar 06/28/2010

Noynoy retains Romulo as DFA chief

By Michaela P. del Callar

President-elect Benigno Aquino III yesterday ignored the call of Philippine career diplomats demanding a new leadership at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and decided to retain Alberto Romulo as secretary of Foreign Affairs for an undetermined time. 

Emerging from a meeting with Aquino in the President-elect’s Times Street residence in Quezon City, Romulo told reporters that he will continue to serve as DFA secretary.

“He asked me to remain in the Cabinet. I am honored and I have accepted,” he said. “There is no period (for my term). You know all of us serve at the pleasure of the President.”

Several career diplomats who belong to the Union of Foreign Service Officers, the sole organization representing Philippine diplomats, have threatened to take a mass leave if Aquino reappoints Romulo whom they accused of political turncoatism, incompetence and mishandling of an allegedly graft-tainted passport project. 

They added Romulo is a “major impediment” to the DFA’s forward movement.

Romulo, who served as Budget secretary of Aquino’s mother, late President Corazon Aquino, was the first Cabinet member of President Arroyo to openly declare support for Aquino’s bid for the presidency last year.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100628hed2.html

Military depends on Gazmin assurance Noynoy will be ‘professional’ with AFP By Mario J. Mallari 06/28/2010

Military depends on Gazmin assurance Noynoy will be ‘professional’ with AFP

By Mario J. Mallari

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is banking on the assurance of retired Lt. Gen. Voltaire Gazmin, a former commanding general of the Philippine Army and who is said to be the next secretary of National Defense, that the administration of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino will be professional in dealing with the military.
No less than the president of the controversial Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1978, AFP Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, welcomed the assurance made by Gazmin during informal dialogs with top officials of the military.

Detabali stressed that Gazmin, who served as Army chief during the term of former President Joseph Estrada, assured all AFP officials he talked to and not only members of the PMA Class of 1978, which has outgoing President Arroyo as honorary member.

“The incoming SND (secretary of National Defense) Voltaire Gazmin assured not only Class 1978 but also other members of classes that the administration will be 

professional in dealing with the officers and men of the AFP,” Detabali said.

“We have been talking, we have been having some friendly dialogues, fellowship with General Gazmin,” he added.
Detabali said the informal dialogues were held during anniversaries of various military units.

Apprehensions about members of the PMA Class of 1978 being sidelined after the end of the term of Arroyo quickly cropped up after Aquino, upon his proclamation as President-elect earlier this month, announced that he will not retain former AFP Chief of Staff retired Gen. Delfin Bangit, himself a member of the PMA Class 1978.

Aquino noted that Bangit was promoted a day before the constitutional ban on appointments during the elections period last March 9.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100628hed3.html

Comelec still waiting for folder scam report By Marie A. Surbano 06/28/2010

Comelec still waiting for folder scam report

By Marie A. Surbano

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) expects the panel it created to probe the controversial P689 million ballot secrecy to meet a deadline today in the submission of its findings, saying that the panel faces reprimand if it fails to do so.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said Law Depart-ment director Ferdinand Rafa-nan who heads the three-man panel asked the en banc last Friday for another extension to submit its report today (Monday).

“I think we will decide accordingly because people are asking about the status of this investigation,” said Sarmiento.
“The Comelec (en banc) will remind the investigation committee to fast track because of the so many extensions given to it,” Sarmiento added.

In a text message, Rafanan gave no definite reply on whether they can beat today’s deadline for the submission of the panel’s report, saying “we will do our best.”

Rafanan did not comment on the pronouncement of Sarmiento that members of the panel will be reprimanded if they fail to submit their findings today.

Originally, the Comelec set an April 20 deadline but the team asked for another 10 days or until April 30.

However, before the April 30 deadline, the team asked again for another extension on June 4, and again on June 18 and again on June 22 and the last appeal was for the resetting of the deadline today June 28.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100628hed4.html

RP post condemns racist attack vs Pinoys in Ireland 06/28/2010

RP post condemns racist attack vs Pinoys in Ireland


The Philippine Embassy has denounced the racist attack against a Filipino family and other ethnic groups in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Isish Calungsod and his family were recently targeted in a racially motivated arson attack that left their house and the vehicle of another Filipino, Arnel Verzonilla, scorched.

“The embassy condemns the dastardly act of hate and discrimination committed against a Filipino family and individuals belonging to other ethnic groups on Tuesday, June 22, 2010, in the township of Whiteabbey, approximately eight kilometers north of Belfast, Northern Ireland,” it said.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100628hed5.html

Bid to convert Arroyo farm breach of CARP — Nene 06/28/2010

Bid to convert Arroyo farm breach of CARP — Nene

Another midnight move of the outgoing First Couple, this time involving the conversion of Hacienda Bacan in Isabela, Negros Occidental owned by the family of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo into an industrial estate was criticized as a travesty of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. said will inflict an injustice on the estate’s tenant-farmers.

Pimentel urged agrarian reform authorities to reject the conversion since the l57-hectare sugar plantation has been placed under CARP since 2001 and a P42.3 million payment was ready for release by the Land Bank of the Philippines to the owners two years ago prior to its distribution to qualified beneficiaries.

“If the coverage of Hacienda Bacan under CARP will be revoked, what is the use of the CARP law? This is patently unfair to the farmers who are entitled to acquire ownership of the estate under the law,” he said.

The ownership of the property has been transferred by the First Gentleman and his brother, Negros Occidental Ignacio Arroyo, to a corporate entity called Rivulet Agro-Industrial Corp.

Acting on behalf of Rivulet, lawyer Ruy Rondain reportedly filed with the DAR on June l5 an application for the land conversion of Hacienda Bacan. The step was taken despite the fact that Land Bank in November, 2008 had already issued a certificate of deposit in favor of Rivulet as payment for the plantation.

Likewise, the DAR had twice ordered the Negros Occidental register of deeds to issue a new title for the hacienda in favor of the government. But the provincial register of deeds has defied the order, obviously due to pressure from the Arroyos.

“Things like this leaves a bad taste in the mouth because people suspect that power play came into the picture to frustrate the intention of the law,” Pimentel said.

The opposition leader from Mindanao said the plan of the owners of Hacienda Bacan to convert it into an industrial estate cannot proceed without violating the CARP law.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100628hed6.html

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