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Same dogs, different collars EDITORIAL 07/08/2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Same dogs, different collars

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Reported incoming Speaker Felicisimo Belmonte won’t be Speaker of the House of Representatives for long, if he as much as pushes the huge pork barrel cuts in both the House and the Senate, as proposed by Liberal Party (LP) Rep. Erin Tañada.

And neither will the speakership be in the LP hands, if the pork barrel is not released by Malacañang’s President Aquino to his so-called allies in the House, because that is what congressmen live for when they get their seats in the House.
As for the opposition, or the minority in the House, if its members are denied their share of the pork barrel, that would be an issue against the new Malacañang tenant, as he would be no different from his predecessor who had withheld the pork barrel funds from those who opposed her legislative measures.

But things never really change, whether in the House or the Senate, even with changes of leadership and ruling power.

Where before the LPs blasted away at Malacañang when they were in the minority, today the LP, as enunciated by Tañada, who has become an Aquino tuta of the first order, says that they now leave everything to the “wisdom” of the new administration. 

Last we heard of this wisdom business left to the presidency was during the Marcos martial law years when the Supreme Court justices said that everything is best left to the wisdom of the president and that all the nation can do is pray that he makes the right choices.

Tañada said that the decision would have to come from Aquino who talked on how the pork barrel should be used. “He will have a menu on where the congressional funds may be used. Now what exactly this menu is, we’ll wait for the proposal or recommendation of President Aquino and then we’ll act accordingly,” adding that the LP members are willing to cut their pork barrel “if it is in the wisdom of the executive branch.”... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com1.html

Seeing red FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/08/2010

Seeing red

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
There the Catholic bishops go again, combining religion and politics.

So there was a so-called Red Mass, ostensibly a mass that seeks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon government officials to achieve enlightenment and unity.

That’s okay as Church rites go. But why is a president of the republic being allowed to give a speech during these rites? Why is politics again being mixed with religious rites?

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said to be the official voice of the church, issued a pastoral letter that said the bishops are not to engage in politics or, for that matter political activities, since they refused at that time to heed the people’s clamor for the CBCP to provide support in their call for the resignation of Gloria Arroyo.

In truth, that was a correct position since there is a clear separation between church and state, and never the two should meet.

Of course the same church leaders always claim that they have to interfere in political matters that have a “moral” dimension to them, which is still a lame excuse, since what is moral to them is not necessary legal and if the bishops want to inject their claimed morality into political issues, the way to do it is not to interfere in state policies or bills and laws, but to call on their flock to toe the Catholic line — such as on the issues of abortion, divorce and the use of artificial contraceptives, among other doctrines espoused by the Church that clash with government policies..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com2.html

Bangladesh sex workers plump up on cow steroids FEATURE 07/08/2010

Bangladesh sex workers plump up on cow steroids


PARIDPUR — Whenever Bangladeshi brothel owner Rokeya, 50, signs up a new sex worker she gives them a course of steroid drugs often used to fatten cattle.

For older sex workers, tablets work well, said Rokeya, but for younger girls of 12 to 14 — who are normally sold to the brothel by their families — injections are more effective.

“It’s the quickest way to make a girl plump and hide her actual age if she is just a teenager,” Rokeya said, adding that the drug, called Oradexon, is cheap and widely available.
An estimated 200,000 women and teenage girls work in Bangladesh’s sex industry and as many as 90 percent of them may be addicted to Oradexon or similar steroids, according to British charity ActionAid.

Doctors say long-term use can be fatal but at the vast, government-registered brothel 100 kilometers outside Dhaka, most of the 900 sex workers use Oradexon daily to give them plump, full bodies.

When sex worker Shahinur Begum first arrived at Faridpur, divorced and bankrupt with a daughter to support, she worried about being too thin to attract clients.

“Oradexon gave me a full body, making me attractive,” she said, adding that her brothel madam first gave her the drug to help her gain weight but she was soon hooked on it.

“I’m swollen like a balloon and have hypertension. The doctors have told me to stop taking it but I can’t,” Shahinur, 30, who earns about $150 a month, told AFP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com3.html

Passage of FoI bill a done deal – Rep. Tañada BLURBAL THRUSTS Louie Logarta 07/08/2010

Passage of FoI bill a done deal – Rep. Tañada

Louie Logarta
True to his word and to his credit, Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada has caused the re-filing of the controversial Freedom of Information Bill (FoI) which promotes transparency in government by guaranteeing the constitutional right to information and full disclosure of transactions of public interest.

The FoI measure — authored principally by Rep. Sonny Angara of Aurora, Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna party-list and Tañada — should have been approved by the House of Representatives, as previously agreed among the legislators, on the last session day of the Fourteenth Congress, thereby paving the way for its enactment into law; but this failed to materialize after someone questioned the quorum, which was indicative of the Arroyo government’s unwillingness to take meaningful steps in arriving at transparency and accountability.

The ratification was supposed to have been the final step prior to being sent to the Office of the President for the chief executive’s signature.

Speaking during the televised “Meet the Press” public affairs program of the National Press Club, Tañada had vowed to re-file the FoI in line with the commitment of President Benigno Aquino III to eliminate corruption and propel clean governance while he sits as the leader of the nation.

“For me… it’s a symbol of my commitment to a new era of accountability, good governance and real change. I also want it passed within the first year (having been in the works for nine long years) as I think it is an essential pillar to the new administration’s anti-corruption platform. It is important to send a message to the new Congress that this is of the highest priority. The public has a constitutional right to know, which it is now demanding. The public cannot be denied; it is the source of our mandate. Every time we go against it, we fail in our duty to represent the people,” he stressed.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com4.html

PeNoy’s moro-moros DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/08/2010

PeNoy’s moro-moros

Herman Tiu Laurel
This early, the real motives behind the PeNoy regime are starkly being exposed in some key appointments. The first is that of former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Hilario Davide to head the newly-created “Truth Commission” that will supposedly look into the sins of the nine-and-a-half-year-long regime of Gloria Arroyo.

Davide is known for a few distinct (dis)honors: Failing to reconvene the impeachment hearings when anti-Estrada senators walked out, thus bringing the proceedings to the streets (and the Yellow mob); then conniving with other SC justices and Arroyo to legalize the coup d’ etat and illegally swearing the usurper in as “acting president” while using “his” court’s illegal participation in that partisan political exercise and all its resulting partisan decisions as immunity from his own impeachment in the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) scam, as well as, to finagle appointments from Arroyo.

With such a record of connivance with Gloria, how can Davide be expected to do justice to the assignment given him to dig into the venalities of his erstwhile master’s regime? This appointment of PeNoy was made clearly to assuage any fears of Arroyo that the Truth Commission will be taking its task seriously. Gloria Arroyo is privy to all the anomalies and venalities of Davide throughout her reign that have been swept under the rug by her power over Congress and the police agencies of this country. Even before the illegal swearing-in of Arroyo in January 2001, the conspiratorial relationship of the two was already established. Revelations in the book Reforming the Judiciary by Justice Art Panganiban, then Davide’s No. 2, prove this.

Panganiban recounted that on the early morning of Jan. 20, 2001 while President Joseph Estrada was still in Malacañang and continued to refuse to resign, Panganiban called up Davide and proposed to have Gloria Arroyo sworn in by noon. Davide agreed but they had a problem: There was no cause for the SC to act on this as no one had yet raised the issue to the court. Davide then communicated through a soon-to-be-appointed Arroyo Justice, Antonio Carpio of The Firm, for Gloria to fax a letter to the SC on the matter. Thus, Davide found his excuse to issue a formal response.

At first, Davide invoked the “permanent disability” ground, even when Estrada wasn’t just alive and kicking but fighting all the way. The nation thus saw Davide swearing-in Arroyo that noon (having Aquilino Pimentel as mic boy), with the justices of the SC illegally gracing Edsa II.

Two months later in March 2001, Davide together with his justices invoked a non-existent “constructive resignation” doctrine to justify the removal of Estrada, clearly admitting the dubiousness of their earlier justification while replacing it with a constitutionally-baseless theory that further exposed them as totally devoid of principle and integrity.

With all the favors he had done for Arroyo, Davide got to do anything he wanted and enjoyed the protection of the “almighty” he helped install in Malacañang. And enjoy it to the hilt he did when the shit of the JDF that was under his charge hit the fan. Aside from having assigned his son to be the contractor of the SC Justices’ palatial Baguio rest house, notwithstanding the fact that the fund was never earmarked for such, Davide also caused the multibillion-peso fund to be used for buying luxury cars and P120,000-swivel chairs, as well as, for dubious reconstruction projects for some SC buildings. And Congress couldn’t even successfully impeach him for this blatant abuse of power courtesy of Arroyo.

Does PeNoy then expect Davide to go after Gloria and her minions with hammer and tongs? Of course not. (Or maybe he never thought about it, which would not surprise us one bit.) Although we have been told that the lobbying for Davide’s appointment came from Jovito Salonga, that doesn’t change the implications of his appointment: This is a cozy arrangement to soft-pedal on the cases against Gloria. It lends more credence now to our firm conviction that the whole election and transition from Gloria to PeNoy is a zarzuela, a wayang kulit, a kabuki play; and the hostility between them nothing but a moro-moro. If ever Davide has any thought of putting some real pressure on Gloria in the Truth Commission, she would have no trouble at all reminding him of their many crimes together — and dragging all these along on their road to hell.

Scrutinizing PeNoy’s other major appointments, the resulting non-change is very obvious. DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima, despite her plaudits, had a dubious pick for the Maguindanao Massacre case’s forensic medical examiner — the sister-in-law of the lawyer of the Ampatuans — when she was still at the helm of the Human Rights Commission. The new BIR chief Kim Jacinto-Henares has quickly picked up where Arroyo’s last BIR chief left off by giving the go-ahead for the collection of the VAT on toll ways, without batting an eyelash for the pain commuters and biyaheros will suffer. Meanwhile, DBM chief Butch Abad, after saying right after the elections that there was room to cut down the budget deficit, now turns around and says the P300-billion deficit is necessary in view of the “high expectations” of the people from PeNoy.

Alas, this text message adds: “Signs of things to come? The first day’s Executive Order No. 1 terminating all non-civil service eligibles revised due to error; PNoy late 30 mins. for installation of new AFP head due to stopping of his car before red traffic lights; and suddenly going for massage and therapy one day after start of term due to back pain.”

The only change we can therefore expect is a change from bad to worse for the nation’s justice system and the economic welfare of our people.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable Channel 21, Talk News TV — Infowars Edition, Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., “To Save the Nation: Financial and Economic Imperatives” with labor economist Dr. Rene Ofreneo; also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com5.html

A son’s broken vow? By Ronald Roy COMMENT 07/08/2010

A son’s broken vow?

By Ronald Roy

I had least in mind traffic violations as a dramatic theme to highlight President Aquino’s inaugural address. His voice resonated throughout the land as he asserted his newly acquired authority to enforce traffic regulations. He declared those wang-wang days were over and that he would himself lead the example of obedience to street laws. The cheers were thunderous and deafening. He was in command, and we rejoiced dancing, singing and feasting into the early morning hours of July 1.

Having a new president was all that seemed to matter the day before, even if his speech was wanting in the reason he was there and his predecessor was not, and in the reassurance he had not forgotten his electoral vow to end the regime of an evil ruler.
But now that the party’s over, we pause and reflect on our role as his masters — a role he recognized when he intoned the ancient democratic tenet “Kayo ang boss ko,” — and we sigh with relief we are at last the masters of our own fate after an electoral termination of a despotic nightmare that lasted for close to 10 agonizing years.
But as we reflect, we are disturbed by the nightmare that lingers. We recall it each time the President’s mother led a street march denouncing the tyrant’s Charter-change (Cha-cha) gambit to perpetuate herself in power. We recall with a profound grief how those marches must have taken their toll on her fragile health. We sadly recall how her quixotic struggle ended beside the tomb of her son’s martyred father, and we poignantly remember then Senator Aquino standing with his four sisters at their parents’ gravesite, perhaps wondering where justice had gone.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com6.html

No to wang-wang, yes to Pagcor? VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 07/08/2010

No to wang-wang, yes to Pagcor?

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
It is quite evident that the no to “wang-wang” official declaration made in the presidential inaugural address was and continues to be a big hit. It has been the prevailing talk in Metro Manila. It still gets into print in all newspapers, as well as talked about in many radio stations and furthermore covered by all major television stations. Of course, it bears watching how long and how far the public authorities concerned are disposed and willing to take the decisive order. For a change, it would be a big surprise as well as a great achievement if the now ardent and fervent
anti-wang-wang mood and drive would really last till such nerve wracking invention is eventually all out and permanently off for good. It is not a secret that this country is rather well known for the “ningas cogon” mentality and disposition of its leaders and most of their followers.

What is quite surprising as well as disturbing is that while the “wang-wang” was made a key point in the said distinct national event, nothing and absolutely nothing — not even but a little hint — that something significant has to be done to the infamous and covetous Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). In fact, apparently to assure its sustained and continuous operation, the official gambling arm of the government even received the silent but decisive presidential attention, specifically in terms of the recent appointment of no less than its new chairman of the board and chief executive officer — proudly “Atenean!”

What could be his “Marching Order?”

Is it to make official gambling in this impoverished country more entrenched and pervasive, more operational and profitable? Is it to create more gambling addicts, to destroy more Filipino families? Is it to propagate more dishonesty and corruption, more fraud and graft in the disposition of the multi-million pesos taken away from its likewise dubious clients?... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100708com7.html

Ex-Aggie chief in scam to turn state witness—Noynoy By Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/08/2010

Cito Lorenzo, Aquino meet, talk

Ex-Aggie chief in scam to turn state witness—Noynoy

By Aytch S. de la Cruz

They met, they talked, but this meeting was never disclosed by President Aquino who only admitted the Lorenzo-Aquino meeting was disclosed publicly by a lawyer.

Aquino yesterday said that he may tap former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo as a “state witness.”
It was not clear why Aquino readily looked at Lorenzo as a state witness on the fertilizer fund scam as this case is supposed to be tackled by the Truth Commission which cannot grant state witness status to Lorenzo even if he testifies.

According to the rules, Lorenzo must first be charged in court for the crime before he can be made a state witness and only if he is found to be the “least guilty.”

To date, the Ombudsman has not acted on the recommendation of the Senate that had probed the fertilizer fund scam.

Lorenzo appears to have returned to the country very quietly, after his self-exile in the United States, to evade testifying before the Senate on the P728 million Fertilizer Fund Scam, to which he was involved, as he had approved it. 

The P728-million fertilizer fund was allegedly used to fund the 2004 presidential election bid of then President Gloria Arroyo.

Aquino did not deny reports that he had a brief conversation with Lorenzo which he claimed lasted for about two to three minutes and only during the birthday party of Boy Montelibano, husband of his cousin-in-law Maria Montelibano, last Saturday evening.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100708hed1.html

Palace admits extension illegal By Michaela P. del Callar 07/08/2010

Palace admits extension illegal

By Michaela P. del Callar
Malacañang, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, yesterday admitted that extensions of politically-appointed ambas-sadors are illegal, but also claimed that their stay abroad has not been extended, but that they are still in their posts in a “holdover” capacity.

Retained Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo earlier had claimed the three-month extension granted by him to the ambassadors appointed by former President Arroyo who are automatically deemed resigned, as they are co-terminus with Arroyo, had the clearance and approval of President Aquino and the Executive Secretary and that extensions of their assignments were not illegal.

But while the Aquino administration approved the questionable extension of terms of political ambassadors who served under Arroyo, there appears to be a leadership vacuum at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with all undersecretary positions declared vacant on Wednesday by Romulo.

At a press conference, Romulo said all DFA undersecretaries, who are also political appointees of the previous administration, have ceased to report for work since July 1.

“So far there is none. It’svacant,” Romulo said when asked about the status of the five politically-appointed undersecretaries, adding that that career officials who are next in line are temporarily in charge of the vacated posts.
But contrary to Romulo’s claim, several undersecretaries still report for work and hold office at the DFA..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100708hed2.html

Bid to slash pork seen part of Congress scuffle By Angie Rosales 07/08/2010

Bid to slash pork seen part of Congress scuffle

By Angie Rosales
A senator expressed worry yesterday the proposal of certain Palace’s allies in the House of Representatives to slash by at least one-half the lawmakers’ pork barrel as related to the ongoing scuffle for leadership posts in Congress.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan yesterday expressed concern over the move initiated by known political allies of President Aquino who yesterday said in his first media briefing in Malacañang that he will not abolish the “pork barrel” of members of Congress but added that the releases will be “limited.” 

Aquino said the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of every congressman and senator will stay but the figures will be reviewed.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, both of the LP, on Tuesday said that the Aquino administration plans to cut the pork from P200 million to P130 million for senators and from P70 million to P30 million for the members of the House.

“It should not be used as a weapon or as a tool to force certain issues included in the legislative agenda of the present administration. We all know the political reality in our country,” he said in a phone-patched interview with reporters.

“This is a personal opinion, I think the issue on the pork barrel is heightened now because we (in Congress) are in the process of defining the line as to who represents the minority or the majority blocs, the opposition and the pro-administration,” he said. “This should not be the case. Let’s not use it as a weapon or tool,” he added.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100708hed3.html

Lacierda scored for claims of ‘closed’ hacienda massacre By Charlie V. Manalo 07/08/2010

Lacierda scored for claims of ‘closed’ hacienda massacre

By Charlie V. Manalo
Contrary to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s claim that the Hacienda Luisita massacre is a “closed case” with President Aquino having already been cleared “a long time ago” regarding his alleged involvement in the massacre of hacienda farm workers, this murder of many farm workers who were said to have been shot down like dogs while they were staging a strike and protesting against the Aquino-Cojuangco manage-ment, the massacre is still a “cold case” that has yet to have closure.

This was the gist of what a party-list congressman said, in reaction to Lacierda’s clearance of Aquino reportedly by the Ombudsman. Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano yesterday assailed Lacierda’s statement that the Hacienda Luisita massacre issue is a “closed case” calling the statement as “totally condemnable and highly irresponsible.”
“Lacierda’s statement clearly shows that the victims of Hacienda Luisita massacre cannot achieve justice under the Aquino administration,” Mariano said.

Mariano said that to date, nobody has been made accountable on the massacre of seven farmers on Nov. 16, 2004 inside the Cojuangco-Aquino family-owned Hacienda Luisita.

“What is this statement from Malacañang all about?” asked Mariano adding: “Is Lacierda trying to say that as if nothing happened, and that lives were not forcibly taken away by the military and the Cojuangco-Aquinos?
“Lacierda’s statement is the height of insensitivity and callousness to the victims’ plight, totally condemnable and highly irresponsible,” Mariano said.

Mariano said the “cries for justice by the victims of the massacre are just and legitimate enough” for the new Aquino administration to simply disregard.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100708hed4.html

Gringo to Ping: Come out and face charges in court By Angie Rosales 07/08/2010

Gringo to Ping: Come out and face charges in court

By Angie Rosales
Face the music.
This was the unsolicited advice given yesterday to Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson by one of his colleagues and mistah, Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

“Submit yourself and place yourself under custody of the law. That was my advice then and now to my mistah, if he will allow me to,” Honasan, who was once accused of rebellion charges and also went into hiding during the Arroyo administration, and only surfaced after he was caught, said in a phone patch interview with reporters.

“I speak from my own personal experience. I went through the process before. That’s the only way to clear this up,” he added.

The senator, who also led a series of coup attempts against former President Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent President Aquino, echoed the call made by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to Lacson to come out and answer the charges filed against him in relation to the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Honasan, former classmate of Lacson at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), said it will be a positive development if his colleague will decide to submit himself to due process and clear his name since the Aquino administration had already assured him of fair trial.

“Let’s not put partisan political color into the issue, if possible, just because he supportive during the campaign, before he became inaccessible to (then) senator (now President) Noynoy (Aquino)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100708hed5.html

Noynoy late for CBCP-sponsored Mass, blames traffic, upset stomach 07/08/2010

Noynoy late for CBCP-sponsored Mass, blames traffic, upset stomach

President Aquino was late for more than an hour at yesterday’s Red Mass sponsored by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that was officiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales which was held at the Manila Cathedral.

Aquino explained that his failure to make it on the 9 a.m. Mass on time was caused by a troubled stomach he had to endure yesterday morning not to mention the stressful Tuesday aggravated by two consecutive power interruptions at dawn in his area.

The schedule of the Mass was adjusted to 9:30 to give him a grace period out of courtesy but, just the same, the Church leaders and the other public officials who were already at the venue started the Mass without him.

Aquino apparently left his Times Street residence 40 minutes past 9 a.m. and he arrived at the venue a little over 10 a.m. or just when Archbishop Rosales was about to finish his homily.

“The main reason was I had a bit of an upset stomach. It took me awhile to deal with it, I think it lasted for 20 minutes before I could leave my house,” he said.

He conveyed that power interruptions certainly did not help him prepare for his Wednesday schedule because it made him oversleep and that unpleasant experience prodded him to call the attention of his Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras to address the issue on rotating brownouts.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100708hed6.html

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