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All in the family EDITORIAL 07/21/2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All in the family

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It’s all in the Abad family, and President Aquino staunchly defends his pick of the Abad family members stationed within his administration.

As for Budget Secretary Butch Abad’s spouse, Rep. Henedina Abad, who is slated to head the House of Representatives’ appropriations committee — and will likely get this House post since it has already been bared by the incoming Speaker, Sonny Belmonte, that major House committee chairmanships would be Aquino’s decision — she says candidly that there is no such thing as delicadeza, claiming that her daughter and son, Julia, who is Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head, with Cabinet status who will be handling Aquino’s huge pork barrel; and Luis Abad, who is chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, as well as her husband, the Budget secretary, are all qualified to take their positions in the Aquino administration.

“What is delicadeza?” Henedina Abad asked House reporters doing the story on the presence of too many Abads in the Aquino government, adding that there is no such thing as delicadeza.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100721com1.html

Trapos all FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/21/2010 President Aquin

Trapos all

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
President Aquino and his aides either don’t get it, or they refuse to get it, mostly to cover up Aquino’s embarrassing blooper that moreover showed him up as an out and out trapo.

The issue is not whether Aquino gave a personal opinion on the coup d’etat charges against detained Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes as being “unjust” or that the review of the case he has directed his Department of Justice to do is an “internal matter.”

The issue is that with his public pronouncement of there having been no coup d’etat crime committed owing to this rebel soldiers’ mutiny having been mounted in a hotel, which is not one of the sites enumerated in the revised penal code, carries with it the weight of the presidential influence and can be taken as policy, a pronouncement which then could be translated by the courts, that moreover have been known to toe the Malacañang line, which is now Aquino’s line. That definitely goes by the name of judicial interference.

The fact is, after Noynoy came up with that claim of Trillanes being a victim of injustice, his appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, quickly talked about the early release of Trillanes, who is detained under the AFP custody..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100721com2.html

Glimmer of hope in China’s ‘brain drain’ battle FEATURE 07/21/2010

Glimmer of hope in China’s ‘brain drain’ battle


BEIJING — Two years ago, molecular biologist Shi Yigong was a prize-winning Princeton University professor with annual research funding of more than $2 million and a seemingly limitless US academic career.

But Shi did exactly what China’s leadership hopes to see more of — he turned his back on all that to return to his homeland after two decades abroad.

The recent return of people like Shi, who now heads the life sciences department at Tsinghua University in Beijing, has provided a ray of hope for China in its uphill battle to reverse a long-term “brain drain” of top experts.
“China has contributed disproportionately to the advancement of science and technology in the United States, for example,” Shi said of the steady stream of China’s best and brightest who left for greener pastures in decades past.
“Behind China’s shiny glass skyscrapers, it has an extreme shortage of top talents and that is really regrettable.”
With aspirations of becoming a science and technology power, China has tried for years to halt an exodus of top minds, a lingering legacy of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution when campus upheavals closed universities for years.
The chaos severely set back Chinese science and academia. Afterwards, many of China’s best and brightest — with official encouragement — opted for study abroad, where most have stayed. Many took foreign citizenship.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100721com3.html

Bob Sobrepeña’s ‘luck’ C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 07/21/2010

Bob Sobrepeña’s ‘luck’

Jonathan De la Cruz
Robert John “Bob” Sobrepeña, ertswhile wonder boy of business during the Ramos years, must really be a very lucky guy. Back then, with a little help from his friends within the Ramos circle, he managed to snap such highly profitable businesses as the SouthWoods and Camp John Hay Development Projects and, of course, the highly coveted Edsa MRT3 Project, among others. All three were allegedly worked out under highly questionable terms and conditions using every bit of influence (to include concessional loans and sovereign guarantees) which Sobrepena and his associates were said to have managed to wangle from FVR all the way to GMA. Of course, all the original workouts were consummated under the watchful eyes of the Ramos people.

In the case of SouthWoods, for example, Sobrepeña and company were given hundreds of hectares of lands (mostly sequestered properties) to develop at giveaway terms, using trust funds from the then number one pre-need company in town, College Assurance Plan (CAP), matched a number of times over by concessional loans from government banks. That was a deadly, by any business model, combination of money and influence, courtesy of a sitting administration which translated into one of the fastest growing conglomerates in town. The same formula was used to acquire and hold on to the Camp John Hay complex. To this day, despite repeated demands for payment of long overdue accounts to government in the billions of pesos (P3 billion and counting by the latest reckoning) the Sobrepeña led group has managed to escape largely unscathed. But the biggest enchilada of all is the Edsa MRT3 Project which to this day remains essentially under Sobrepeña’s control. Imagine, after government decided to “buy out” the highly onerous contract just over a year ago to avoid subsidizing Sobrepeña’s folly he is said to continue holding sway in the operating company, MRT DevCo, leveraging his remaining 20 percent or so holdings to the hilt. .... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100721com4.html

‘Good people’ HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 07/21/2010

‘Good people’

Aldrin Cardon
It would have been an unnoticeable television crawler had it not been news from the Palace. The crawler, or those words that crawl below your TV screens which are similar to newspaper headlines, claimed President Noynoy is finding it hard to scout good people to fill the many appointive positions still vacant in government.

I guess the emphasis of that news was on the “good people” whom Noynoy, or his so-called search committee, has to find if he is intent on fulfilling his campaign promise to lead us all toward his “matuwid na landas,” or the righteous path.

It also put Noynoy in contrast with the past administration whose much-maligned leader, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose propensity to appoint her and husband’s cronies was beyond question.

But just how big was the difference between them was put under the spotlight at almost the same time when the Palace spun that angle about finding “good people” to be named in Noynoy’s government.

Juana Change, the sosyalerang overweight character of Mae Paner who was a hit in so many anti-Gloria rallies then, and later a big attraction in Noynoy’s campaign sorties, was first to expose the new Kamag-anak Inc. that has taken over government very soon after the exit of the Arroyos.

The Cojuangcos and the Aquinos, however, have to give way to the Abads, this time. And Mae (or Juana), just could not accept that government positions, very important and powerful ones at that, seemed to have been reserved for members of just one family.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100721com5.html

Bad vibes? SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 07/21/2010

Bad vibes?

Dinah S. Ventura
Less than a month after his inauguration, President Noynoy Aquino, whose platform stood for upright leadership, remains hard put to fill positions in government with people who are not only qualified, but are also credible and trustworthy.

These are the unspoken qualifications Filipinos are looking for in these appointed officials. The search, however, is not that easy. Perhaps President Aquino’s search committee imagines itself looking for that needle in a haystack — or just a handful out of 90 million people.

A president would look, naturally, toward individuals whom he knows or knows about for important responsibilities. But now that people are wary about kamag-anaks (relatives) in power (and perhaps kapamilyas, kapusos and kapatids, too!), the search is made doubly difficult. And, of course, there is that call for transparency in government that the Aquino administration promised to heed.

Just look at how much reaction the Abads in government are getting. With Butch Abad (Aquino’s campaign manager) now the Budget secretary, his wife the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee (which scrutinizes the budget), their daughter Julia the head of the president’s management staff (which handles the spending of the President’s Social Fund, otherwise known as the president’s pork barrel), and their son Luis the chief of staff to the Finance Secretary, critics are in a bit of an uproar over what some deem as a question of delicadeza..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100721com6.html

LP bloc far from gaining top Senate post—Drilon By Angie M. Rosales 07/21/2010

LP bloc far from gaining top Senate post—Drilon

By Angie M. Rosales
Using the difficulty being experienced by the Liberal Party camp led by Sen. Francis Pangilinan to gather 13 votes from the senators and clinch the Senate presidency, Sen. Franklin Drilon, an LP official and ally of President Aquino, used this situation as proof that Malacañang has no control over the Senate.

President Aquino and his allies do not have any control over the Senate, Drilon said yesterday, virtually admitting the difficulties that the LP bloc is going through as the Pangilinan led group is far from mustering the needed 13 votes in installing the LP bet as the Senate leader.

“Nobody controls the Senate. If Malacañang controls the Senate, then the endorsement (of Aquino) should do everything (in securing the required number of votes). Yet, until now, there is still a deadlock,” he said in a phone-patched interview with reporters.

He failed to comment, however, on the many moves of the Malacañang tenant to raid the ranks of the other blocs, including Sen. Lito Lapid, who was claimed by Pangilinan to have committed to vote for him.

In exchange for Lapid’s vote, it was reported that his son, Mark Lapid, would be retained as head of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).

This was however, denied by the staff of Senator Lapid, saying that he has not committed his vote to the LP bet.
Lapid is said to belong to Sen. Edgardo Angara bloc, which supposedly counts for seven members.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100721hed1.html

Concerns raised vs big business links in gov’t regulatory bodies By Gerry Baldo 07/21/2010

Concerns raised vs big business links in gov’t regulatory bodies

By Gerry Baldo
Following the issue of too many Abads in the Aquino government’s budgetary and appropriations posts, serious concerns are being raised on President Aquino’s appointee in the water sector and the impending round of water rate increases.

Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna stressed that the presence of big businessmen in government regulatory bodies, such as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, should be a cause of concern for the consuming public.

“I am extremely worried that this time the Lopezes, Ayalas, Pangilinans and other oligarchs will use their closeness with the Aquino camp to push even bigger price hikes and other concessions,” Colmenares said yesterday as he underscored the need to strengthen Congress’ oversight functions.

“In this light, it is doubly important to have independent regulators for such utilities. In the absence of such regulators, Congress will have to be more aggressive in exercising its oversight powers and will have to pass measures stopping or reversing the ongoing deregulation and privatization of the utilities sector.

Colmenares added that it is important to have someone in the MWSS, the Department of Public Works and Manila Electric Company who are independent and not linked to big business interests.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100721hed2.html

2010 budget depleted to 38%; deficit soars By Aytch de la Cruz 07/21/2010

2010 budget depleted to 38%; deficit soars

By Aytch de la Cruz
The economic team of President Aquino appears intimidated by the sorry fiscal numbers the new administration inherited from President Arroyo with the fiscal deficit breaching all known previous levels while only 38.6 percent is left of the P1.5-trillion budget earmarked for the whole year.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters after a meeting among economic officials in the Cabinet that “surprises” in expenses up to the end of June when former President Arroyo stepped down, including what he called “congressional initiatives,” resulted in the fiscal shortfall to reach nearly P200 billion in the first half.

Abad did not quote an exact figure on the first half deficit but when asked if it was near the P178 billion original limit set, Abad said it would be higher.

“There were still surprises in the expenses, expenditures made up to the last month, up to the end of June 30 like for example in congressional initiatives which was in the billions,” Abad said. 

Abad said the Cabinet meeting held yesterday touched mostly on the tight fiscal situation that the government is in.
He said that additional borrowings to plug the budget shortfall were also discussed.

If the collection targets are not achieved, that (borrowings) is the most likely step that we have to take and I think (Finance) Secretary (Cesar) Purisima is looking at that, Abad added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100721hed3.html

2 Comelec execs reject Mikey as party-list rep By Marie Surbano 07/21/2010

2 Comelec execs reject Mikey as party-list rep

By Marie Surbano
The son of former President Arroyo has officially gained a seat in Congress as a party-list nominee but for two commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Ang Galing Pilipino (AGP) nominee Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo is not qualified to represent the marginalized.

In their respective dissenting opinions in the consolidated resolution of Arroyo’s case, Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Gregorio Larrazabal said Arroyo does not belong to the group which he wanted to represent at the House of Representatives.

AGP supposedly seeks to represent the sectors of security guards, unorganized groups of taxi, FX taxi, jeepney and bus drivers, vendors, small-scale businessmen and jobless individuals.

Sarmiento cited the Supreme Court decision on the case of Ang Bagong Bayani which stated that “ it is not enough for the candidate to claim representation of the marginalized and underrepresented because representation is easy to claim and to feign. The party-list organi-zation or party must factually and truly represent the margin-alized and under-represented constituencies mentioned in Section 5. Concur-rently, the persons nominated by the party-list candidate-organization must be “Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties.”

Likewise, he pointed out the SC’s decision on the Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (Banat) case..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100721hed4.html

Retired colonel in bribe try surfaces By Pat C. Santos 07/21/2010

Retired colonel in bribe try surfaces

By Pat C. Santos

With a lawyer in tow, retired Philippine Air Force Lt. Col. Antonio Mariano, who has been accused by a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officer of having tried to bribe him into getting a government witness in the Maguindanao massacre case, yesterday surfaced and faced the media to deny allegations of a P10-million bribe try.
Mariano met newsmen to deny reports he was the bagman in the multimillion-peso bribery attempt on witnesses in the murder case filed against Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan.

In 2003, Mariano said he held three positions in the ARMM during Zaldy’s term: as executive director for housing; as DoTC undersecretary and as deputy regional governor of DoLE – positions that he held until his courtesy resignation last January.

Mariano also did not deny that he is a friend of former NBI Director Nestor Mantaring whom he visits once in a while.

He said that he could not think of any reason or motivation on the part of NBI counter-terrorism unit chief Ricardo Diaz in implicating him in the bribery scandal when he has always been a frequent visitor at the NBI even though he has long retired from the bureau.

Oscar Embido, chief of the NBI-Internal Affairs Division, earlier said they had contacted Mariano over the phone and that he vehemently denied all the allegations against him.

Officials of the NBI have also already sent a subpoena for Mariano to formally appear before the NBI to answer allegations that he attempted to bribe witness Kenny Dalagdag, through Diaz, with P10 million, for his recantation.
Both Mantaring and former Justice chief Alberto Agra denied that they were ever informed by Diaz of the alleged bribe try.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100721hed5.html

SC orders oral arguments on Hacienda Luisita case By Benjamin B. Pulta 07/21/2010

SC orders oral arguments on Hacienda Luisita case

By Benjamin B. Pulta
Oral arguments have been ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) on the land reform case of Hacienda Luisita, which is owned and managed by the Cojuangco-Aquino families, and where President Aquino is also a co-owner.
Court Administrator and SC Spokesman Jose Midas Marquez informed newsmen yesterday that the Hacienda Luisita case has been transferred from the court’s First Division to the en banc and is scheduled for oral arguments on Aug. 3.

“Considering the importance of the case and the parties involved, the justices thought it best that the entire court be involved to thresh out all the issues in that particular case,” Marquez told a press conference.

Marquez added that the oral arguments will give the magistrates the chance to ask the parties “clarificatory questions which answers are not found in the pleadings.”

He said the transfer of the case to the en banc as well as setting it for oral arguments was a “majority decision” among incumbent SC justices, based on an “informal survey” conducted by Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Marquez said it was the Chief Justice who had scheduled the oral arguments for Aug. 3 “so that we can hear all the parties and all issues will be threshed out.”

The court spokesman, however, clarified that this new development in the Hacienda Luisita case was not out of the ordinary.

“This is not the first time it happens. We’ve had a few cases transferred to the en banc,” he pointed out.
Marquez also denied pressure being applied from either of the parties in the case. “No pressure at all. It is one of those usual cases filed before the court.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100721hed6.html

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