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A Look Back at Arroyo’s Many Sins and Why She Should Pay Published on July 2, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Look Back at Arroyo’s Many Sins and Why She Should Pay

Published on July 2, 2010


MANILA — After nine years in power, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has left the Malacanang palace. She is no longer cloaked with presidential immunity, which she and her allies had used to shield her from corruption charges, human-rights violations and other alleged crimes against the Filipino people.

Up to her last weeks in office, impunity presented itself. For two consecutive days, journalists Jesiderio Camangyan, radio anchor of Sunrise FM in Davao Oriental, and Joselito Agustin of dzJC Aksyon Radyo in Laoag City, were shot dead. After the elections, human-rights worker Benjamin Bayles of Negros Occidental, union member Edward Panganiban of Laguna and Bayan Muna member Jim Gales of Davao were murdered in separate incidents.

In the past nine years, journalists and activists have become easy targets for assassination. According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 104 journalists have been murdered under the Arroyo regime. Human-rights group Karapatan recorded 1,190 victims of extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo regime, from January 2001 to March 2010.

There had been 205 victims of enforced disappearances, 1,028 victims of torture, and hundreds of thousands were forcibly displaced in rural areas as a result of military operations.

These killings and other atrocities continue despite international condemnation and local protests. In fact, just this month, a five-member delegation of the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines had gone to Geneva and made oral interventions at the 14th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. They told the world that Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program has been the bloodiest and most vicious since martial law years.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/02/arroyos-many-sins-and-why-she-should-pay/

Change Means Land Reform Now, Peasants Camping Out in Mendiola Tell Aquino Published on July 3, 2010

 Change Means Land Reform Now, Peasants Camping Out in Mendiola Tell Aquino

Published on July 3, 2010


“You are my boss,” President Aquino said in his inauguration speech to the people who cheered for the change he promised as against the corrupt, abusive Arroyo regime. But for the hundreds of farmers from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog who for the first time in this country’s history held a rally on the inauguration day itself of a new president, that applauded boss-thing has not materialized yet. For them, at least.

Now camping out at the historic Mendiola Bridge, the farmers’ groups have been repeatedly negotiating with the police to be able to stay there to continuously push their demands for land in the first 100 days of Aquino’s government.

The farmers braved the June 30 threat of rains and heat to bring to Aquino’s attention their most immediate demands, but they were not even met by at least one of Aquino’s staff when they first tried to cross the Mendiola Bridge to enter Malacañang and personally hand to Aquino and his cabinet, who were meeting there for the first time, the farmers’ proposed immediate solutions to poverty.

Aquino did not even mention the problems of land reform in his inauguration speech, especially land reform in President Aquino’s Hacienda Luisita, said Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/03/change-means-land-reform-now-peasants-camping-out-in-mendiola-tell-aquino/

Harassment Targeting Luisita Peasant Leaders Intensifying Published on July 3, 2010

Harassment Targeting Luisita Peasant Leaders Intensifying

Published on July 3, 2010


MANILA—“Every peasant leader’s situation in Hacienda Luisita today is very critical,” said Federico Laza, member of AMBALA (Alliance of Hacienda Luisita Farmworkers). All peasant leaders are openly under surveillance and being followed everywhere in the hacienda by at least four military men armed with high-powered rifles. “The people in Luisita are being threatened to discontinue their struggle for land,” Laza told Bulatlat in Filipino. If they did not, he said quoting the military, “something will happen.”

The group AMBALA has joined farmers and farm workers from other parts of Luzon in camping out at the foot of Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang since June 30, President Aquino’s first day in office at Malacañang. The peasants are advancing some “immediate demands” such as genuine land reform and pull-out of state armed troops from farming communities.

In the case of Hacienda Luisita, farmers are asking the Supreme Court to lift the already four-year-old temporary restraining order it imposed on the Agriculture Department’s 2005 decision to revoke the 1989 stock distribution option (SDO) and thus finally place the Luisita lands under physical land reform coverage.

With his son Jesus killed in the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004, 69-year old Federico Laza has become more active in the campaign for actual land reform in the hacienda. It has resulted in his being under military surveillance too, as well as being subjected to harassment although he is not a leader of AMBALA.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/03/harassment-targeting-luisita-peasant-leaders-intensifying/

Selfish interests EDITORIAL 07/03/2010

Selfish interests

Click to enlarge
So what is wrong, legally, constitutionally and even morally, in getting the Constitution changed, whether this is a resolution or a bill filed by former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, or anyone else?

Everybody knows that the 1987 Constitution is fatally flawed, having been twisted too much through the years, and made legal by a Malacañang-friendly high court, bringing about more and more doors opened for the abuse of the powers of the presidency.

There is a dire need for constitutional change, and this should be done now, when the Filipino people have just given Congress a fresh mandate.

Yet every single time a new Malacañang tenant and his allies who are suddenly in power and position, comes in, there is objection to changing the Charter.

Under the Ramos presidency, there was public resistance to having Charter change (Cha-cha) through the people’s initiative (PI) since it became much too clear that Ramos was pushing the lifting of term limits, which would then translate to his being able to seek re-election, as well as for his allies in Congress.

The overall objection then to Cha-cha was that it was not the right time to effect changes; PI, as fashioned, was unconstitutional; Congress, on its last year, was no longer the right body to effect changes. 

Under the Estrada presidency, even as he made it clear that only the economic provisions would be touched for amendments, this again was rejected by the usual civil society types, injecting the fear factor of his wanting to stay in power.

And then came Gloria who called for Cha-cha, and aided by Ramos, wanted Cha-cha through the constituent assembly to bring about a parliamentary system.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100703com1.html

Deja vu FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/03/2010

Deja vu

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Like it’s always said: The more things change, the more they remain the same — especially when it comes to Malacañang.

On the Aquino administration’s first official day, a Memorandum Circular Number 1 (MC-1) declared all non-career executive positions vacant as of June 30. This caused immediate confusion, with resignations handed left and right, which could have caused the collapse of the bureaucracy. 

That it was a major blunder could hardly be hidden, and quickly, another MC, also No. 1, dated on the same day, June 30, was issued, correcting the first MC-1.

It was a major blooper, but the presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, insisted that it was not a boo-boo at all, as the first MC issued was merely a “draft” and that the second MC1 issue is the same one and that the official one, had been “fined-tuned” as the first one had a “lapse in language.” This was the Palace explanation, despite the fact that these were two differently worded MCs that moreover were clearly antedated by Malacañang.

Quite frankly, it almost seemed to be a repeat action by the new presidential spokesman of the then Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye holding up two “Hello Garci” discs — one genuine and one fake — passing off the genuine as fake, and the fake as genuine.

Another bit of deja vu occurred, this time with Lacierda claiming a “lapse of language” in the first MC1, which the altered MC1 had “fine-tuned.”

Remember Gloria Arroyo’s “lapse of judgment” in her I-am-sorry-spiel? She refused to acknowledge the truth of her talking to Garci about rigging the vote, and instead said it was a lapse of judgment on her part to have spoken with an unnamed poll commissioner.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100703com2.html

‘Private armies’ hold Philippine politics at gunpoint focus 07/03/2010

‘Private armies’ hold Philippine politics at gunpoint


MANILA — The Philippines may have a new president but more than a hundred “private armies” still dominate local politics, using force and even murder to keep their masters in power, security experts warn.

It is a problem that President Benigno Aquino III has vowed to resolve but it has persisted for decades, fed by poverty and entrenched political dynasties, and few people believe private armies will be eliminated soon.

“Private armies thrive where there are powerful politicians and local kingpins who make local communities that are... untouched by national authority, their own private political domains,” a government commission said.

These “armies” may include soldiers, policemen, civilian volunteers, jail guards, communist or separatist guerrillas, security guards, armed cult groups and street thugs.

But the common denominator is that they work for influential politicians who use them to violently enforce their will in villages, towns and even cities, the commission warned in a report released recently.

The commission was created to study the phenomenon of private armies following the massacre of 57 persons last year in the restive southern province of Maguindanao, allegedly by the area’s then-ruling clan’s private army.

Killings by such private armies may not be an isolated event, according to the commission’s six-month-long study.
The national police, in a report to the commission, said it had confirmed the existence of 112 private armies scattered across the country, some with as few as four members but others with hundreds.

Most alarmingly, many members of the private armies are armed and paid by the national government, supposedly for law-enforcement or counter-insurgency purposes, several witnesses told the commission.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100703com3.html

Noynoy dodges Cha-cha issue; to create body to study change By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Angie M. Rosales 07/03/2010

Noynoy dodges Cha-cha issue; to create body to study change

By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Angie M. Rosales

Former President Arroyo, today a bonafide congressman representing Pampanga’s second district, has caused a political stir in her recent move of filing a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for a constitutional change through a constitutional convention (con-con), succeeding in getting her political foes and allies to react and take her seriously in her new role.

She even succeeded in getting her successor, President Aquino, to announce that he will form a commission to study Charter change (Cha-cha), but also saying that this is not a priority in his government.

His stand today is seen as a way of dodging and delaying the issue of changing the Charter now that he and his allies are in power and position.

Aquino yesterday said he will form another commission to deal with the Cha-cha resolution filed the other day by Arroyo.

He explained that the commission he will form is a part of the campaign promise he declared publicly before he was sworn to presidency but stressed that this body would likely take shape after he is done building the structure for the Truth Commission.

“As I told you, we’ll form that commission to study the need for it (Cha-cha) and whether or not the people are requesting it,” Aquino said during the first ambush interview he granted to the media
during the turnover rites between the new Armed Forces chief of Staff and the acting AFP chief of staff in Camp Aguinaldo.

Charter change, however, is not a function of the executive department but a function of Congress which has the power to amend, revise, abrogate the Charter through a constituent assembly with a required number sought, or to call for a constitutional convention (con-con).

The recommendations that the body to be created by Aquino for this study purpose, may prove worthless.

But the Chief Executive claimed that there is a need to scrutinize the reasons that necessitate government to amend the present Constitution given the weight of this issue which has long been a subject of many political debates in and outside the legislative chambers.

“We will have to analyze if there is really a need to change the Constitution because this is not an easy thing to do. There are negative consequences guaranteed in the short term so you really have to prove that the gains are better than the risks,” Aquino said.

“It (Cha-cha) has to go through the legislative mill. I said we are going to set up a commission to see if there really is a need for it. If there is, will our countrymen be supporting such amendment?” he asked.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100703hed1.html

Needed: Experienced EO writer By Angie M. Rosales 07/03/2010

Needed: Experienced EO writer

By Angie M. Rosales
Get an experienced writer and save yourself from more blunders.

Thus was the advice given by Sen. Edgardo Angara to Malacañang yesterday, specifically to President Aquino, stemming from the blunder committed by the Chief Executive and his men over the issuance Wednesday of Memorandum Circular No. 1 (MC-1) “declaring all non-career exe-cutive positions vacant as of June 30 and extending the services of contractual em-ployees whose contracts expire on 20 June 2010,” a circular, observers noted, would leave the government practically inoperational.

To cover up the blunder, the Palace came up with a second and revised MC-1, passing off the first as a draft while the second was passed off as the official document, but antedated.

Angara said the only explanation that can be attributed to the incident is the relative inexperience of those tasked by Aquino to come up with such documents.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that the new administration is incompetent and ineffectual. It’s part of what you could say growing up, birth pangs.

“What he should do is get a veteran memorandum and executive order writer. An experienced one. There are a lot of experienced persons in Malacañang and DoJ (Department of Justice),” he said.

Angara pointed out that besides the need to observe the proper “form” in coming up with such issuances, the more significant and sensitive issue is its contents as shown by the slip up committed by Malacañang on the said MC.
“Besides having a competent writer of EOs, AOs (administrative orders), there should also be someone reviewing these type of issuances. As shown in this case, it’s far-reaching. It affects careers of certain individuals, it affects steps, process and procedures of the bureaucracy.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100703hed2.html

LP picks Kiko over Drilon as bet for Senate president By Angie M. Rosales 07/03/2010

LP picks Kiko over Drilon as bet for Senate president

By Angie M. Rosales

The ranks of President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) in the Senate have chosen Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan over more senior legislator, Sen. Franklin Drilon, as their bet for the upper chamber leadership.

Pangilinan is seen to be pitted against former close friend and one-time political ally, defeated presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., in the race for the Senate presidency when Congress opens in some three weeks.
Aquino, according to party president and defeated vice presidential bet Manuel Roxas II, had committed not to intervene in the affairs of the Senate, that of luring other senators as to who they should vote for.

His participation on the matter was only limited in the so-called consensus-building process, Roxas said in a press conference called by LP.

“As titular head, President Aquino was a part of the process and I would like to emphasize, however, that his being a party to this process, to this consensus-building process is only because he is a member of the LP and will be limited to that. President Aquino says that he will respect the independence of the Senate as well as the process of the Senate and the senators in choosing their leader,” he said.

This will leave Pangilinan all by himself in convincing at least nine other non-LP colleagues in the Senate to ensure him of the seat over Villar.

Luring Villar allies to his side is not among his planned steps within the next couple of weeks to seal the needed numbers, according to Pangilinan, as Villar’s people in the Nacionalista Party (NP) pronounced move is to field him as their candidate.

“The LP only has four members in the Senate. We will have to seek alliances, but we cannot start this unless we first agree within our party,” he said in the LP press conference.

“Thirteen is the magic number. We might be able to draw from 10. Once we secured the 10, it would be easy to get the three others,” Pangilinan added.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100703hed3.html

DoJ: Ombudsman has last say on GMA indictment By Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo 07/03/2010

DoJ: Ombudsman has last say on GMA indictment

By Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima conceded that any case to be filed against former President Arroyo will end up with the Ombudsman even if initiated before the Department of Justice (DoJ).

De Lima, who started her first day as the DoJ chief, yesterday cited that under a memorandum of agreement, the DoJ’s investigatory powers need to be submitted to the Ombudsman “who will determine probable cause should the case be filed before the Sandiganbayan.”

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, a former Justice secretary herself, has long been criticized for allegedly being biased in favor of the Arroyo family.

Nonetheless, De Lima said the DoJ will leave no stone unturned in investigating the complaint filed by party-list group Bayan Muna against Arroyo in connection with the botched $329.48-million broadband contract with China’s Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) Corp.

De Lima said the legislative immunity from suit precludes immunity from investigation and asserted that her department has the authority to investigate criminal cases including violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act filed against incumbent and former government officials as per memorandum of agreement it signed with the Office of the Ombudsman.

De Lima said she will discuss with other officials of the DoJ the possibility of forming a panel of investigators that will probe the complaint filed by Bayan Muna through its representatives Teodoro Casiño and lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares.

It can be recalled that during his inaugural speech, President Aquino gave his marching orders to De Lima to ”begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.”

“They can really file that kind of a case here because there is...an existing memorandum of agreement between the Ombudsman and the DoJ stating that when it comes to investigation of criminal cases including violating of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act there is no rule on exclusivity. So, the DoJ or any other investigative body can conduct investigation before it is referred to the Ombudsman...” De Lima explained.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100703hed4.html

Noy woos military, vows modernized AFP Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/03/2010

Noy woos military, vows modernized AFP

Aytch S. de la Cruz
Same old promises by the previous government were issued yesterday by President Aquino before the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as their new Commander-in-Chief.

Aquino publicly declared his first marching order to his newly appointed Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to uphold the government’s efforts for the modernization of the AFP, stressing one of the points he made in his inaugural address last Wednesday.
Aquino, however, failed to provide clear answers as to where he will draw the funding for this AFP modernization program when asked by reporters after the event.

“We’ll be getting the funds,” he just said.

The Chief Executive made this statement upon the assumption of command by the new AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David who succeeded Gen. Nestor Ochoa who, in turn, held the position for less than two weeks.
Ochoa was catapulted to the highest military position after former Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit was forced to take an early retirement following Aquino’s rejections of his services based on his belief that he was part of former President Gloria Arroyo’s midnight appointees.

Aquino said he is expecting David to advance the professionalism among the ranks of the military as he vowed to provide them the benefits they deserve for serving the country heart and soul to the extent of putting their lives on the line in the name of duty.

“On this day, I would like to speak with you straight and clear. We have a lot of challenges to face. I know you heard my inaugural address and you know by now that you are all in my mind. Rest assured that my administration will respond to all your needs,” Aquino told the troops.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100703hed5.html

Auto polls system lacks transparency — Namfrel 07/03/2010

Auto polls system lacks transparency — Namfrel

Contrary to what the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-TIM Corp., the service provider, claim, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), in its report released yesterday, said the May 10 elections were not as transparent and secure.

The Namfrel terminal report also said the random manual audit of certain precincts showed that the degree of variance was less than what was the required 99.995 percent accuracy.

The overall performance of the machine is 99.35 percent accuracy, which was below the required 99.995 percent, it noted.

While Namfrel acknowledged that the elections were fast and generally accurate, the automated election system “should be reviewed and remedial measures should be conducted for future elections.”

“While the system counted ballots with considerable speed, it nonetheless lacked sufficient methods for tracing and auditing the entire processes which would have been necessary had any problems arisen which were material to the results of the counting or the canvassing,” the report said. 

The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), for its part, said it would be better if Comelec officials disclose at least 20 documents, including the Smartmatic-Comelec contract and annexes related to the conduct of the elections that it had requested last June 3. 

The UP-based think tank also urged the poll body to desist from speculating about using the same poll automation for the 2013 elections unless issues over the credibility of the last polls are satisfactorily answered. 

Comelec has yet to reply to the month-old letter.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100703hed6.html

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