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Fumbling Palace men EDITORIAL 07/12/2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fumbling Palace men

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Noynoy Aquino’s men at the Palace are not giving the presidency a good impression, what with the way they miscommunicate the administration’s stand on major issues and reflect Noynoy’s capability on running a government.

But it also must be said that Aquino himself is clearly lacking in getting his people coordinated, as a leader should. This could be a major reason the Palace people appear to be dancing to different tunes, as evidently Aquino is leaving everything to his men, without, however, getting his policy or orders coordinated, as his men appear to doing their own thing, their own way.

On his first official day as President, the Palace released Memorandum Circular No. 1 (MC 1) that was obviously targeting the political appointees of former President Arroyo but the way it was worded, it affected much more the state workers, thus causing a commotion among public servants. The order was reworded and the Palace refused to admit the mistake asserting that MC 1 underwent refinement. The only trouble was that it was already signed, issued and published in the papers before being refined.

Lately, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda went all out in saying that the Aquino administration will take all possible actions, including impeachment to kick out Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez from his office, only to withdraw his statement the next day, stating that Gutierrez may stay on as Ombudsman because of the fixed term provided for the head of the constitutional body.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com1.html

Resurrecting EO 464 FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/12/2010

Resurrecting EO 464

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Reports say that the Palace is studying the possible lifting of Executive Order 464 (EO 464), better known as the gag rule imposed by Gloria Arroyo which successfully prevented Cabinet members and other administration officials from testifying before Congress and its probe bodies, unless they have the written permission and approval of the president.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. was quoted as saying, during a press briefing Friday, that the Palace legal team is carefully studying whether or not to retain the controversial order.
“Everything is being studied. There are many things that we do not know that we are now discovering over time. We really want to get the right formula from ideas formulated and are now validating against realities in the office and that is totally different.”

If memory serves, EO 464, under the Panganiban high court, was struck down in the sense that it upheld the right of Congress to summon the Cabinet members. However, during the Puno court’s reign, the majority of the Supreme Court (SC) justices, said to have been controlled by Malacañang by that time, overturned the earlier decision and favored the Palace, which now prevents the Cabinet members from appearing and testifying before Congress, when summoned — which caused a lot of frustration from the Senate.

But if memory serves again, EO 464 was lifted by Gloria, although this was replaced with a memorandum circular that now included all officers and employees from the executive department from being summoned by Congress, without the permission from the President.
Still, Gloria’s lifting of her EO does not necessarily translate to its no longer being the law, as this has already been ruled upon by the SC, favoring Malacañang.

There is, however, yet another ruling by the high court, whose ponente, then Associate Justice Dante Tinga, declared that no military officer can be made to testify before Congress, as it is the commander-in-chief, who is also the president, who has the absolute say on whether the military officers can appear and testify in Congress.
What all these rulings mean is that these stay, unless and until the new administration brings this up to the court to come up with new rulings on this issue and overturn the old rulings.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com2.html

The Senate presidency ENQUIRY Demaree J. B. Raval 07/12/2010

The Senate presidency

Demaree J. B. Raval
Except for the occasional upset stomach, there seems to be nothing wrong with the health of the new President. The new Vice President, too, is obviously hale and hearty, especially now that he’s not going to have rashes because he’s moving to the Coconut Palace. So the talk of a yet to be elected Senate President eventually succeeding to the presidency is a long shot — nay, impossibility — within the next six years of the Aquino administration.

What is important here and now is the issue of qualification and acceptability. Can the next Senate President succeed in maneuvering with skill and care the expected internecine dissensions of our present crop of senators as they discharge their role in nation building, pursue an agenda of reform and change, at the same time uphold the independence of the chamber?

This ability to keep things on an even keel should be the primary consideration in the determination of who should lead the Senate in the 15th Congress.

Closeness to the President of the country is a disqualifier. A senator who himself admits to having asked the permission and blessing of President Aquino to run for Senate President only betrays his dependency on the President. Notice the word: dependency, as in a need for an authority figure so strong that it becomes necessary to have this figure prompting and guiding one in order to function properly. 

And I fear what would happen if the relationship turns into a co-dependency. Political analyst Leina de Legazpi says, “Surely, we’ll have a pattern of detrimental executive-legislative interactions within a dysfunctional political relationship.” Or as one senator succinctly points out, “If you have a Senate controlled by Aquino, where is the (expletive muffled) independence?” 

Tough talk makes a good campaign pitch. So the chosen candidate of the Liberal Party (LP) for Senate President says he will constitute an “activist” Senate, one that “seeks solutions to the nation’s decades-old ills.” But these words are mere sound and fury, cock-and-bull, when measured against past performance. 

For instance, can a senator do well as Senate President and truly lead a Senate of the people, when he had been responsible for foisting on the nation a bogus president when he just smugly noted the massive fraud in a previous electoral exercise? ... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com3.html

Behind the propaganda DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/12/2010

Behind the propaganda

Herman Tiu Laurel
If only the nation could see through the propaganda, it would be obvious to one and all that the kind of government we are seeing today is nothing but a continuation of the anti-people, pro-oligarchy, and pro-Western regimes of Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Gloria Arroyo. Just watch closely how a few days after the presidential inauguration, one of the key economic and financial managers of PeNoy Aquino, budget and Management chief Butch Abad, already turned around and announced that the 2010 budget deficit will be increasing from Gloria’s 3.6 percent to PeNoy’s 3.9 percent! At the same time, even as the Arroyo-appointed board at the PNOC-EC, which owns 10 percent of Malampaya, had previously delayed the sale of those shares (which Joseph Estrada as president had acquired for government), PeNoy’s Cesar Purisima is now saying that such shares are also “on the table” (i.e. ready to be sold along with two other state assets).

The expected revenues from selling the 10 percent share of government would fetch up to P16 billion, an amount that is ridiculous considering that this natural gas asset remitted P13 billion in revenues from royalties and other incomes in 2008 alone. The pressure to sell these government shares invariably come from foreign energy companies. Like all previous government finance managers usually backed by international bankers and multilateral financial institutions, the issue of the national budget deficit is regularly invoked to press the sale. We are therefore not surprised that the Budget and Finance secretaries of PeNoy seem to be in a coordinated play to justify the sale of extremely profitable government assets again, including the Food Terminal Inc. in Taguig, as well as our nation’s properties in Japan.

Shell Philippines Exploration BV, developer of the Malampaya natural gas wells, has by now fully recovered its investment of $4.5 billion after operating for the past decade. This is therefore the time that the Philippines should be negotiating for a substantially larger share of the project. It is certainly not the time to sell if government is thinking of the public good. If the Filipino people do not awake from the trance of “wang-wang” and “PNoy” which the mainstream print and broadcast media are feeding into the public’s subconscious, the vested interests moving in for the kill will finally succeed in this swindle of the century. PeNoy Aquino may also turn out to be the final villain in this Malampaya saga, with the ruling oligarchs behind Shell Philippines and their propaganda for him becoming instrumental in his infamy.

The propaganda to make PeNoy into the “humble, uncomplaining, incorruptible” PNoy is deliberately being generated to overshadow and drown out discussions on vital issues of strategic importance to the public. This is one way to “manufacture consent” as noted linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and political activist Noam Chomsky has often written about. He explains: “I think there is a good reason the propaganda system works that way. It recognizes that the public will not support the actual policies. Therefore it is important to prevent any knowledge or understanding of them.”

The same people behind Gloria Arroyo and, now, PeNoy Aquino are still doggedly after the total conquest, occupation, and usurpation of all the wealth of this nation. PeNoy’s Cabinet secretaries’ reversals on the budget deficit and full Malampaya privatization are just some of the glaring examples of the continuation of Arroyo’s disastrous policies. Another one has to do with recent pronouncements on the unconstitutional Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD).

The duplicity behind the MoA-AD’s near-consummation was a major issue against Gloria. PeNoy was supposed to offer a departure from that and a hope for a reversal of the previous regime’s policy of appeasement. But in an interview with Ces Drilon on ANC’s The Rundown, PeNoy’s Peace Process chief Ging Quintos Deles even praised that piece of high treason as well-intentioned and designed to benefit the Mindanaoans, but which lacked only in transparency. When pressed for details, such as the US Embassy’s undue interest on the matter, Deles could only say that in such sensitive issues she has learned not to open her mouth too much, which in itself is a denial of openness and transparency. Let me note that Deles and her husband have lived largely on foreign governments’ and foundations’ projects and funds, such as the Canadian International Development Agency. Ging Deles’ deliberate ambiguity is just a new approach to duplicity; thus, we can expect the PeNoy government to use his so-called “political capital” from his Hocus-PCOS “victory” plus the constant barrage of propaganda to finally consummate the MoA-AD.

There are more duplicities hiding behind ambiguities: The pursuit of evidence on Gloria Arroyo’s many alleged crimes, including the Fertilizer Fund scam, through a toothless Truth Commission led by a dubious chairman, defended and reaffirmed by PeNoy Aquino himself.

Another major issue is the wanton abandon with which the energy companies are raising power rates. The Philippine Electricity Market Corp., for starters, is already seeking a three-fold increase of its fees for “governance and market” operations in the energy market — an additional overhead in privatization that very few know about. Yet little, if any, public discussion initiated by government has come up about this major manipulation in the energy market. Why then is this policy of silence being continued by PeNoy Aquino?

It certainly feels like these are just a foretaste of more insidious propaganda from the PeNoy regime. Could this be why there was that compelling need to form a fortified propaganda war room in the guise of a presidential communications group?

(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. on “Election Annulment” with Gov. Bono Adaza and Engr. H.R. Estrella; also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com4.html

New York lights fire under city’s smokers FEATURE 07/12/2010

New York lights fire under city’s smokers


NEW YORK — New York’s smokers are puffing nervously in the face of new measures that leave them wondering how to afford their habit — and even where to light up.

A tax increase earlier this month sent prices, already the highest in the United States, shooting to anything between $11 and $15 a pack, or as much as 75 cents a smoke.

Then this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a passionate anti-smoking former smoker, for the first time gave public backing to an idea aired by health officials to outlaw smoking in parks and on beaches.

Smokers — already banished from bars, restaurants, office buildings and other interior public spaces — are gasping with rage.

“We’re under assault from all sides,” said film maker Tom Hruby, 50, as he pulled at a Pall Mall while chatting with a friend by Central Park. “Try to regulate the airspace of a park and you’re one step from a fascist state.”

“It’s crazy,” his friend and fellow smoker Arron Williams, 52, echoed. “Where are we going to smoke?”

City and state officials hope that soaring cigarette prices will replenish tax coffers and force many to quit, eventually lowering health costs.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com5.html

Calling Agence France Presse LETTER 07/12/2010 Dear Editor:

Calling Agence France Presse


Dear Editor:

We wish to bring to your immediate attention and appropriate action the Agence France Presse sourced article published in the April 15, 2010 issue of your newspaper entitled “A never-ending wait for justice in jail” written by Jason Gutierrez based on an interview of Jerry Ballento of cell block number 5 who allegedly entered the prison system when he was just 17 years old.

We verified the information and records show that Jerry Ballento is actually Jeronimo Lariago Balintong, arrested for the killing of Raffy Grafil Alejar, 20 years old, on 25 Dec. 25, 2002. .... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com6.html

Cleaning up a mess HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 07/12/2010

Cleaning up a mess

Aldrin Cardon
From a sacred cow to a sacred cow, that is how Cito Lorenzo is fast becoming as talks once again center on past anomalous deals Gloria Arroyo’s administration had entered into, particularly the so-called Fertilizer Scam (the flavor of the week in the very young Aquino administration), in which Lorenzo and his alleged partner-in-crime Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante were the major players.
Palace hands are eagerly trying to extract information from Lorenzo in exchange for immunity by making him a state witness, a hero of sorts now after his flight from the previous investigations on the same matter, and he is expected to turn his back now on his former master, who was said to have benefitted from the anomaly as overpriced fertilizer money was used to buy off local officials in exchange for Gloria’s victory over famous actor Fernando Poe Jr., now deceased, in 2004.

Lorenzo, GMA’s Agriculture secretary, cannot claim to have clean hands in the affair, and former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. could not be accused of simply insinuating this as he took part in the first Senate investigation of the mess, which at least revealed flaws in the structure on how authority over the fertilizer money flowed from top to bottom.

Magsaysay suspects the Aquino administration is finding a way to give Lorenzo, whose brother was a big contributor to President Noynoy Aquino’s campaign kitty, the “kid glove treatment,” even as he claimed Lorenzo and Bolante are equally guilty as partners in the affair.

Magsaysay, who probed the fertilizer fund mess in 2005, said government should hold Lorenzo and Bolante accountable for the misappropriation of P728-million, which not a few believe was used to prop up Gloria’s chances against Poe.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com7.html

Fertile minds SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 07/12/2010

Fertile minds

Dinah S. Ventura

In 2006, people asked: Where in the world is Luis “Cito” Lorenzo? In 2010, some wondered: Who in the world is Cito Lorenzo?

Pinoys are notorious for being tremendously short in memory, but in this case, when the dust never settled on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, forgetting the key characters is unforgivable.

To refresh our memory, erstwhile Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Cito Lorenzo disappeared at the height of investigation of the alleged scam, where funds intended to buy organic fertilizers and other farm inputs were allegedly diverted to the war chest of then President Arroyo for her 2004 campaign. Then DA Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante tried to implicate his former boss by testifying that it was Lorenzo who had ordered the release of funds under the DA’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program.

At the time, Lorenzo was already “keeping a low profile while doing good” — that is, serving as consultant for the Gawad Kalinga. After the elections, he left his post at the DA, which he had held from December 2002 to June or July 2004. News reports after the 2004 elections hinted that politics was behind his forced resignation from the DA, along with those of Joey Lina (former secretary of the Interior and Local Government) and (Social Welfare Secretary) Dinky Soliman.

According to opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. in a July 12, 2004 Philippine Star report, “President Arroyo forced the Agriculture secretary to quit because she lost in the areas in Mindanao where the Lorenzo family runs agricultural plantations and agriculture-based businesses.” Then again, she gave him the task to “create one million jobs” as her adviser on countrywide development, a position which he held for a time.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100712com8.html

Ex-rebel general wants Garci probe reopened By Mario J. Mallari 07/12/2010


Ex-rebel general wants Garci probe reopened

By Mario J. Mallari
Former Scout Ranger chief Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, who was recently released from military detention, is calling for the reopening of the investigation into the supposed participation of high-ranking members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the massive and orchestrated election cheating during the 2004 polls that gave former President Arroyo a fresh six-year term as alleged in the “Hello Garci” recordings.

Lim said the reopening of the probe should take off with the findings of the Mayuga Report which contained the AFP investigation regarding the alleged involvement of some ranking AFP officers in the 2004 electoral fraud submitted by then Inspector General Rear Admiral Mateo Mayuga.

“We should use the Mayuga report as a starting point and those who were not interviewed before should be interviewed now,” said Lim, who himself was not called by the investigation panel, led by Mayuga who rose to become Navy chief after the conclusion of the investigation.

The findings of the Mayuga Report, however, were not made public. “I am convinced that there were really cheating,” Lim stressed.

Lim said the AFP should really come out clean regarding the issue and go after the officers who were involved, in order to move on.

“There should really be closure to this issue as far as the AFP is concerned, that is the original sin. We cannot move forward if this is not addressed. If there were really involved in the cheating, and definitely there was cheating, they should be held responsible and face the consequences,” said Lim.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100712hed1.html

Former PAOCTF colleague twits Gatdula on Lacson quip By Angie M. Rosales 07/12/2010

Former PAOCTF colleague twits Gatdula on Lacson quip

By Angie M. Rosales
The camp of Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday did not take lightly the statements made by newly appointed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula that there will be no letup in pursuing the fugitive legislator over an arrest order for his involvement in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case despite Gatdula’s past association with Lacson.

“Gatdula should know Lacson better. He won’t use their past association to make him not perform his job,” said Lacson’s administrative officer, retired Chief Insp. Ricardo Dandan.

Dandan issued the reaction in view of the pronounce-ments made by Gatdula, who will formally assume the NBI post this week, that the country’s premier investigating body will go soft on the fugitive senator who happens to be a former superior at the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF).

Dandan, himself a former subordinate of Lacson at the Philippine National Police (PNP), reminded the incoming NBI chief that the senator is not known to have used past associations to keep the likes of Gatdula from performing his duty.

Gatdula will most likely formally assume his new post today, facing tasks to handle the controversial cases including the Dacer-Corbito killings, “Hello Nico and compact flash card election related probe,” and the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100712hed2.html

No LP monopoly on key House panels — Belmonte By Gerry Baldo 07/12/2010

No LP monopoly on key House panels — Belmonte

By Gerry Baldo
Key positions in the House of Representatives will not only be held by members of the Liberal Party but also by members of its coalition partners that include the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the Nacionalista Party and the smaller parties like the PDP-Laban and the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

According to Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte, LP’s bet for the speakership race, he is now in the process of talking to possible candidates for the chairmanships of at least 57 House committees.

“We talk to the prospective chairpersons on who will be more qualified to lead this or that committee. We will take into consideration factors like experience and seniority,” Belmonte said.

He, however, stressed that members of the LP will be holding strategic posts and major committees.

“Like in any organization in the past, the administration has a say on how the committees are filled up. A committee would want to have access to people in the administration. That is a normal course,” Belmonte stressed.

He, however, was quick to say that the LP will not monopolize the major posts, saying seniority, experience and capability to lead the panel remain as major requirements..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100712hed3.html

LP not pursuing impeach raps vs Ombudsman as yet By Gerry Baldo 07/12/2010

LP not pursuing impeach raps vs Ombudsman as yet

By Gerry Baldo
While an ally of the Liberal Party (LP) is hankering for the removal of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, senior members of the ruling administration are reluctant to do so despite serious allegations of bias on the part of the anti-graft body.

According to some ranking members of the party, they have yet to decide and review the allegations against Gutierrez who has allegedly recently tried to dampen the charges against those involved in the P728-million fertilizer scam during the Arroyo administration.

Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, secretary general of the LP, said it is the right of Akbayan party-list Rep.Walden Bello as member of the institution to push the impeachment of Gutierrez who successfully evaded a similar complaint when it was junked by the 14th Congress at the time of former President Gloria Arroyo.

“I have yet to find out the grounds they are raising and alleged facts to support such grounds. That is the right of Congressman Bello and Akbayan if they think the Ombudsman has committed an impeachable offense,” Abaya stressed.

Gutierrez, a close ally of the former president, is perceived to be a loyal follower who would not lift a finger that could put the Arroyos and their minions at harm’s way. 

Gutierrez is also a classmate of the former presidential spouse.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, spokesman of LP, also admitted that the LP has yet to make a stand on the move to impeach Gutierrez..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100712hed4.html

Robredo vows DILG reform, end to jueteng By Pat C. Santos 07/12/2010

Robredo vows DILG reform, end to jueteng

By Pat C. Santos
Newly named Interior and Local government Secretary Jesse Robredo vowed to pursue his reform agenda in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), including the stamping out of the illegal numbers game jueteng as a way to regain the trust and confidence of the people in the government. 

Robredo said on radio reforms are upcoming in the three major line agencies under the DILG, namely, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). 

Robredo, who is expected to formally assume the DILG top post either today or tomorrow also vowed transparency on financial transactions at the DILG. 

Robredo said his first move against jueteng would be to review the operations of the small town lottery (STL) which is reported to be mostly a front for the illegal numbers game.

The Ramon Magsaysay Awardee said that all procurement would be posted onthe DILG’s web site to maintain transparency. 

On the PNP side, Robredo said the ongoing Integrated Transformation Program (ITP) should be observed down to the station level to attain better police service. 

He vowed full support to the PNP-ITP program. Robredo also asked the PNP to immediately address violence against media practitioners.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100712hed5.html

OFW stabbed to death in Iran 07/12/2010

OFW stabbed to death in Iran


A Filipino male worker, who was waiting for his re-entry visa to the United Arab Emirates, was reportedly killed by a Sudanese during a fight on Kish Island, Iran, a migrant worker group yesterday said.

John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator of Migrante Middle East Chapter, declined to identify the Filipino fatality pending notification of his next of kin, but said he was killed last July 1.

“We are trying to get in touch with his relatives in the UAE and in the Philippines so that we could provide them the needed assistance and guidance,” Monterona said in a statement.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said it is currently verifying the report with its embassy in the UAE and Iran.

Citing witness accounts from stranded Filipino workers in Kish Island, Monterona said a Sudanese challenged the Filipino to a fight.

Monterona said the Sudanese got angry when the Filipino ignored him and slapped the Filipino several times. The Filipino worker retaliated to defend himself.

Monterona said another Sudanese, who was armed with a knife, stepped in and stabbed the Filipino on the chest.
The Filipino was taken to Kish Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100712hed6.html

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