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Happy days are here again? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/29/2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy days are here again?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Hey, hey, the old Arroyo gang is alive and well, under the new Aquino administration — if we are to go by the various choices for positions in the new executive branch of government, and the many known personalities who have been dropping in at incoming President Noynoy Aquino’s Times Street home.

The latest announcement — made not by Noynoy but by incumbent Foreign Affairs secretary — is that DFA’s Bert Romulo will be retained in the same post by the new Malacañang tenant. Romulo was quick to add that no definite time was given to him.

Of all people, Romulo should, or ought to know what protocol is all about, which means that he should have had Noynoy announce his appointment, rather than for him to pre-empt the new Malacañang tenant.

It is no secret that there were objections to Romulo’s retention at the DFA, but despite these, Noynoy and his sisters tapped Romulo for the same job he had been holding for six years, under Gloria Arroyo’s regime.
Apparently, for the Aquinos, yellow ties matter more than objections.

It also looks like Gloria’s Health secretary, Esperanza Cabral, will be retained, and there appears to be no objection on her becoming part of the Aquino government.

Cabral, at least, knew her place, refusing to inform media of Noynoy’s plan for her, saying Noynoy should make the announcement.

There were others seen getting into Times Street, such as old reliable Gloria ally, former Chief Justice and unconfirmed and resigned Philippine permanent ambassador to the United Nations, Hilario Davide Jr.

It looks like the very political Davide is again going to have a cushy post under the Noynoy government.

Alberto del Rosario was also seen, and will probably again be tapped by Noynoy for an ambassadorial post — or perhaps take up the same post again.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com2.html

The poor and the dead: Strange bedfellows in Philippines FEATURE 06/29/2010

The poor and the dead: Strange bedfellows in Philippines


MANILA — Emmalyn Ramos’ home has spectacular views of the Philippine capital’s skyline, if you don’t mind the human bones scattered outside her door.

The poor and the dead have little choice but to mingle together in a graveyard in the northern Manila port district of Navotas, one of the world’s most densely populated areas behind only a few Indian cities.

“We would like to live elsewhere,” Ramos, a 20-year-old pregnant, unwed mother of two, told AFP as she fed her children inside a shanty made of plastic sheets, bamboo and bits of wood.

“But we were born here and we grew up here. I don’t think we will be able to get out of here.”

Ramos’ tent is one of several pitched precariously atop a row of concrete tombs, themselves piled five-high, like shipping containers, at the crowded Navotas Municipal Cemetery.

Ramos and her extended family of 12, plus her jobless boyfriend, are one of about 600 families in the cemetery compound, a community ironically called Bagong Silang (Newborn).

The residents of the cemetery sleep, cook, eat, bathe, and wash clothes atop the tombs, and life can look grisly for an outsider.

There are no toilets or running water, garbage piles up among the tombs and the area is infested with cockroaches that particularly like to parade across the tombs at night.

Due to a lack of space in the cemetery, old bodies have to be eventually removed from the tombs and smelly, damp bones are scattered throughout the cemetery or in sacks that have been dumped on tombstones.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com3.html

Brother Armin opposed MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 06/29/2010

Brother Armin opposed

Amb. Ernesto Maceda
The appointment to the Department of Education top post of Brother Armin Luistro, De La Salle University president, premiere leader of the Black and White Movement, and provider of sanctuary to ZTE-NBN star witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada comes as no surprise since his name has been among the first floated for a Cabinet job. But the first surprising opposition came from the DepEd’s employees association who asked Brother Armin to resign from his religious position citing a potential conflict of interest.

Certain questions must necessarily be asked:
1) Are we going against the Constitutional provision on separation of church and state?
2) Will Brother Armin’s appointment encourage more ambitious religious leaders to be active in partisan causes in the future? Is that good?
3) Considering that his background is purely and fully in private education, will he be able to adjust to understand the different culture in the public school system? Recall the failure of Fr. Ed “Among” Panlilio as governor of Pampanga.
4) How will he deal with congressmen and other politicians whose support he needs to get more funds for the programs of DepEd?
5) Will the syndicates at DepEd run rings around a novice in government and continue their money making contracts? They flourished during the incumbency of Brother Andrew Gonzales as DepEd secretary.
6) Will he be able to stand up to the demands of ACT, Courage, DepEdea and other activist teacher/employee organizations?
7) Will he be able to solve the perennial classrooms, teachers, school desks and textbooks shortage?
8) Will he be able to arrest the decline in the quality of education in the country? Will he add pre-school and grade 7 to the elementary schools as they have in La Salle?
9) What will be his stand on sex education? Will he scrap it as reported?... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com4.html

Mayor Binay NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 06/29/2010

Mayor Binay

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Which of them? This perhaps is what will be asked, years from now, whenever there’s reference to the name and the office. Jejomar, Elenita, or Jejomar Erwin? Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. took his oath of office as mayor of Makati City before Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday, with his family, official guests and so much of onlookers and gawkers squeezed into the 21st floor Mayor’s office at the City Hall that prompted someone to quip, “Bakit noong kampanya ang konti namin, ngayon biglang ang dami na?”

In August of last year the young Binay lost his wife Kenelly after giving birth to a baby girl, in a rare post-birth complication known as placenta accreta, where the placenta is too deeply attached to the uterus and severe hemorrhage follows attempts to cut it free. By his own admission, he has had a harrowing year. He was all of a sudden single father of four, grieving and overnight thrust into running for the office his father was to vacate. But during his oathtaking, Junjun Binay looked recovered well enough with his four children — two on the mayor’s table, the eldest Alexi beaming in between Lolo Jojo and Lola Ellen, and the baby Maria Kenelly carried by Tita Annie — and if he missed his wife he kept it to his heart. The rites proceeded as scheduled and he declared himself at the full disposal of his city, as “punong-lungsod.” It’s a no-brainer, why he chose the senator to administer his oath. He has explained that, “Sen. Chiz Escudero’s endorsement was instrumental in the winning of the family in the recent elections. During the proclamation night, he was there with us and we want to thank him.” But more than simply the endorsement, the warmth between Escudero and the Binays spoke of deeper family ties. I am told that while waiting for Makati 2nd district Rep.-elect Abby Binay to come in for the picture, Escudero loudly ribbed, “Where is the late Congresswoman Binay?” To which Abby riposted, “Hoy, hindi ako ang mag-o-oathtaking, okay lang na late ako!” JunJun Binay won with 125,664 votes over former political ally Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado who got 80,151 votes. That it was an acrimonious fight is an understatement; I recall an incident where nagbatuhan pa raw ng mangga ang mga followers nila and sure, there was a word-war of word-wars, a flurry of press, text and even Facebook releases such as those that had the Mercado camp proudly proclaiming the lead in an SWS survey, which the SWS quickly denied, and a political rally where Mercado supposedly presented four empty coffins purportedly reserved for the Binays, and so on and so forth. Most Makati barangay chairmen also took Mercado’s side. They voted for the father and kesyo also campaigned for him as Vice-President, but did not want the son as mayor for reasons such as “He’s too young,” “Ano ang alam niya?” with the rabidly anti-Jojo going, “Tatay niya rin ang magpapatakbo ng city hall.” Five of Junjun’s councilors won in the first district and only one in the second, while his vice-mayor candidate, singer Rico Puno, lost to Kid Peña. Wags scoff “nahirapan ang taong magtiwala kay Junjun.” A laughable assertion, if you ask me. A winning margin of 45,513 votes cannot be “nahirapan magtiwala.” I look at it simply as a “check-and-balance vote.” Vice-President-elect Jojo says his namesake is ready to govern and effectively, too, “since in his growing years, he witnessed how I led the city,” considering Junjun was at 15, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) official, or youth representative in the City Council, and from there went on to serve as councilor of the city’s first district. ... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com5.html

Failing too much, too soon EDITORIAL 06/29/2010

Failing too much, too soon

Click to enlarge
He raised too much hope and expectation in the Filipinos, while talking about change, his elimination of corruption and poverty during the campaign trail.

Today, incoming President Noynoy Aquino admits that his six year administration may not make a major difference in Filipinos’ lives, being saddled with a slew of problems, including worsening poverty, pervasive corruption, decades-long insurgencies, empty state coffers and crumbling infrastructure all inherited, he says, from nine years of misrule of Gloria 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,” Aquino told reporters.

So why didn’t come clean with the Filipino people during the campaign period and admitted that while he is seeking the presidency, he can’t promise to put things right, nor can he come up with the solutions to the problems that he will be faced with, once he assumes the presidency?

Why did he raise the hopes of the Filipinos, knowing that he can’t hack it?

Or is he seeking, this early, a longer term in the presidency through a Charter change that would allow him to run for office again for another six years?

What Aquino and his yellows do not seem to realize is the fact that by raising the people’s hopes and not delivering on his pledges for change, for the nation to be rid of the corrupt ways of government, as well as improve the lives of the impoverished Filipinos, they would be bringing the people back to cynicism, with their faith and trust in government shattered — and this experience of being let down yet again, would be even more painful for the people, precisely because their hopes were raised too high by yet another politician promising the moon, merely to win the polls and gain power and position.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com1.html

Relative, not absolute decline AN OUTSIDERS VIEW Ken Fuller 06/29/2010

Relative, not absolute decline

Ken Fuller
At first glance, it seems that the left suffered something of a setback in the recent elections. For example, not only did Bayan Muna slip in the rankings (as did most the left groups), but it lost votes. However, such a conclusion would be incorrect. Any overall decline was not absolute but relative and, as pointed out last week, largely due to the fact that, since 2007, the total number of party-list votes has dramatically increased, thereby diminishing the left’s share.

The following table shows the votes, rankings and percentages of the various left tendencies since 2004, whether or not they gained seats. As was the case in last week’s column, the figures for 2010 are provisional, as at the time of writing the votes in the special elections in Lanao del Sur, among others, still have to be canvassed.
* A+B+C.
Bayan Muna, formerly the flagship party of what in this election was called the Makabayan group, has in fact suffered a gradual decline from 2001 (not shown in the table), when it garnered 1.7 million votes, to 1.2 million in 2004, 979,189 in 2007, and 746,019 this year, going from first place to second, and now to ninth. Note, however, that while in 2007 this group had only five accredited groups, this year it had six, and its total vote climbed from 2.3 million to over 3 million. It was only to be expected that Bayan Muna would shed votes as its parent organization fielded other, more narrowly-focused, party-list organizations. For example, it is possible that many of the votes given to the Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT) this year were gained at its expense. ... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com6.html

Hong Kong in new political era as Beijing co-opts Democrats ANALYSIS 06/29/2010

Hong Kong in new political era as Beijing co-opts Democrats


HONG KONG — After cold-shouldering Hong Kong’s oldest democratic force for years, China has redrawn the territory’s political map by bypassing its government to deal with the moderate opposition directly.
While ever-suspicious of full democracy, the communist government in Beijing has recognized the danger of letting more radical voices in Hong Kong’s opposition camp dictate the agenda, analysts said.
The financial hub, which returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, last week adopted a package of political reforms that promises an incremental boost to democracy — but not universal suffrage, much to the radicals’ fury.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100629com7.html

Systematic fraud marks 2010 auto polls 06/29/2010

Comelec insists on buying PCOS machines, despite AES likely death

Systematic fraud marks 2010 auto polls

Systematic cheating marked the 2010 automated polls, the chairman of the House of Rerpesentatives committee on suffrage and electoral reforms yesterday said in a TV interview, stressing that he will be proposing for Congress to junk the automated elections in 2013, given the many instances of fraud noted, and moreover substantiated by documentary evidence.

Congressional committee chairman outgoing Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. stressed that Smartmatic, while coming up with a lot of excuses and explanations as to why certain irregularities were noted, despite the Commision on Elections’ (Comelec) technical partner’s guarantees on the security features of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, failed to provide satisfactory answers.

Locsin made it clear that he will be opposing a plan of the Comelec to automate the 2013 polls after evidence showed that there was systematic cheating in the last polls, although Locsin claimed that the cheating was done only in the local level.
This statement was however challenged by Comelec commmissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, who pointed out that this was based on one and the same program, and applies to both the local and national level.

It was not explained by Locsin why he claims that systematic cheating could only have happened in the local level, and not the national level.

Despite these findings by the committee, however, the Comelec appears bent on buying the PCOS machines.
Comelec has finally decided to acquire the PCOS, although not all of it, but only some, worth about P150 to 180 million machines of Smartmatic.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo claimed that he has not as yet read the congressional report of Locsin but said the poll body’s decision not to purchase all 82,000 PCOS machines is basically because the Comelec does not want “to be tied down” to the same technology.

“The total number that we used for the 2010 polls, we are not purchasing because we don’t want to be tied down to Smartmatic and its PCOS,” Melo told reporters, adding that with the fast changing technology available “may be in three years, we will have a much improved system available to us.”

Melo explained that while it is stated in their P7.2 billion contract with Smartmatic that they have the option to buy the machines “we said we just put that in the contract, option to buy. But we’re not serious about purchasing them.”
But he said they may purchase some 487 PCOS machines worth about $3-4 million which will be used in the special elections in some more areas that have yet to be set as well as in dealing with election protests filed before the commission.

Based on the contract, all PCOS machines leased by the Comelec will be pulled out come the expiration of the agreement on Dec. 31, 2010.

The Comelec chief admitted that there are enough grounds for the report of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms to say that “all the loopholes in the PCOS and the automated election process should be firmly plugged”.

He admitted that the AES used by Smartmatic and Comelec still has a lot of things that should be improved..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100629hed1.html

Biazon raises alarm over soldiers joining ex-DND chief 06/29/2010

Biazon raises alarm over soldiers joining ex-DND chief


Suspicion is up that outgoing acting Defense chief Norberto Gonzales is up to some military mischief, as gleaned from the alarm bells being rung this early by outgoing Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, who joins the House of Representatives as a congressman when Congress opens in next month.

Some active soldiers and officers have been lured by outgoing Defense Secretary Gonzales into signing up with his Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP) party, he claimed.

This was the information that recently reached Senator Biazon just when he raised questions over Gonzales’ pronouncements of putting up a so-called “shadow Cabinet” once he steps down from office.

“I would ask the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to check if there is any soldier who is a card-bearing member of the PDSP because the report was that Gonzales was able to convince some officers and enlisted men to be card-bearing members of the PDSP which is a political party with soldiers espousing a political party. That is a violation of the Constitution,” Biazon told reporters in an interview.

Gonzales received numerous criticisms for his pronounced plan of setting up a shadow Cabinet, that will supposedly include retired AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit — or at least he did come up with a public invitation for General Bangit to join him.

Bangit is now no longer part of the service, and can very well join the PSDP, if he chooses to do so.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100629hed2.html

Noynoy told: ‘Don’t mess with Lacson’s case’ By Angie M. Rosales 06/29/2010

Noynoy told: ‘Don’t mess with Lacson’s case’

By Angie M. Rosales
Outgoing Sen. Rodolfo Biazon yesterday warned incoming President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to distance himself from colleague, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and adopt a “hands off policy” once he assumes the presidency formally, in dealing with Lacson’s double murder charges.
Biazon issued this warning to his party mate from the Liberal Party (LP), despite being aware of the fact that Lacson supported the president-elect in the last national polls, even detailing some of his own staff during the duration of the campaign to the party and to Aquino himself.
“I think the next administration should be very careful about that. What must not be projected by the new administration ‘publicly’ is that it is interfering in the functions of the judiciary,” he said in an interview with reporters.
Biazon’s statements came amid reports on the latest sightings of Lacson, the most recent of which was claimed to have been in Malaysia and that Lacson is reportedly preparing to return to the country after almost five months of hiding abroad.
Lacson, who is facing a warrant of arrest in relation to the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, flew abroad sometime late December and his whereabouts are largely unknown, despite there being a red alert with Interpol on him.
Speculation is rife that Lacson would soon make himself visible again especially since Aquino, who is a political ally, won in the elections, as well as the fact that the LP faction in the Senate needs his vote to be able to wrest the Senate presidency.
Even some of his colleagues such as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile indicated this possibility of Lacson returning to the country while maintaining that they have not had any contact with the “missing” senator for months now.
Biazon shared this observation, even noted the possibility of the public focusing on two cases, that of Lacson and the continued detention of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100629hed3.html

Ramos-Horta lone head of state to attend Aquino inaugural; US, China to send envoys By Michaela P. del Callar 06/29/2010

Ramos-Horta lone head of state to attend Aquino inaugural; US, China to send envoys

By Michaela P. del Callar
A total of 101 foreign dignitaries will be in Manila to witness the inauguration of Benigno Aquino III as the Philippines’ 15th President on June 30, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday said.

According to DFA spokesman Eduardo Malaya, majority of those attending the ceremonies comprise of resident and non-resident ambassadors who have been designated as special envoys by their respective governments for the event.

In the list provided by the DFA, Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta is the lone head of state to attend the inauguration. 

Other countries like the United States, China and Japan have sent special envoys while other countries have deployed minister-level officials.

US President Barack Obama has named Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative, to lead the US Presidential Delegation to Manila.

China is sending Yan Junqi, Vice Chairman of the Chinese National People’s Congress as special envoy of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the inaugural ceremonies while Japan decided to send Osamu Fujimura, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and a member of the House of Representatives.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100629hed4.html

Support GMA’s Congress plans, Palace asks onetime allies By Aytch S. de la Cruz 06/29/2010

Support GMA’s Congress plans, Palace asks onetime allies

By Aytch S. de la Cruz
Malacañang has publicly aired appeals to the erstwhile allies of outgoing President and incoming Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo to keep supporting her in the House of Representatives despite parting ways with her to pursue their respective political interests.

On his final press briefing to Palace reporters yesterday, outgoing deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said he is hoping that somehow Arroyo’s allies who have already jumped ship to other political parties would still consider supporting the good agendas she would be pushing in the 15th Congress soon.

“It is my hope that when the President moves on to a quieter life in Congress, she can rely on everyone who supported her to continue to make themselves available to her, as and when their services may be needed. After all, she can never be just a representative from Pampanga. She is on her way to becoming, presumptively, the first representative of all the people,” he stressed.

Olivar said he would no longer be surprised if Arroyo, upon her entry as neophyte lawmaker in the House of Representatives, would be regarded as a primus inter pares or be accorded with a higher distinction as a former president and now legislator representing the second district of Pampanga.

The term primus inter pares means “the first among equals” or “first among peers” which indicates that a person so described is technically equal, but looked upon as an authority by their peers.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100629hed5.html

Private, state lawyers’ row over Ampatuan massacre case handling worsens By Benjamin B. Pulta 06/29/2010

Private, state lawyers’ row over Ampatuan massacre case handling worsens

By Benjamin B. Pulta
Conflict between private prosecutors and government lawyers handling the controversial Maguindanao massacre victims case continued to unravel yesterday after the two parties continued to exchange words in public.

“You know how we are defending the massacre victims,” Chief State Prosecutor Claro Arellano told reporters in an interview, reacting to the statement of lawyer and private prosecutor Harry Roque that Suwaib Upham aka “Jessie,” a witness in the massacre who was killed by still unidentified assailants last week, does not trust the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Upham, supposedly agreed to testify against the Ampatuan clan, which is being blamed for the kidnap, mutilation, rape and murder of the victims. Roque, who represents the relatives of some of the massacre victims, said Upham did not want to go to the DoJ office “because he heard from his bosses that they (Ampatuans) controlled DoJ.”
Arellano said he felt personally insulted by Roque’s statement. “In the first place, why he would doubt the DoJ? There’s no proof that we connived with the Ampatuans,” he said.

Arellano in April, walked out of their offices in protest of the decision of Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra clearing two members of the Ampatuan clan of involvement in the incident.

“We publicly disagreed with the resolution of Secretary Agra. We took that risk. We could have lost our jobs,” Arellano said.

Agra reversed his ruling in May following widespread indignation. Arellano pointed out that “Jessie” cannot be considered a witness in the case because he had not been personally turned over to the DoJ.

Agra for his part said Roque maybe charged for jeopardizing the prosecution of the case.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100629hed6.html

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