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No more buck-passing please EDITORIAL 07/23/2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

No more buck-passing please

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The State of the Nation Address (Sona), on Monday, would likely be heavy on the fiscal crisis the Aquino government is currently in, based on what had transpired during a meeting among the economic officials in the Cabinet and President Aquino, and Gloria would definitely be lumped with all the blame for the dire fiscal situation.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad gave broad hints on the so-called revelation that Noynoy would be including in his first Sona when he talked to reporters about what he termed as surprises in the government expenditures during the last few days of the former administration before Gloria gave up the presidency, very reluctantly obviously, last June 30.

From the way it is shaping up, Noynoy’s Sona would see the firing off of a lengthy bashing session on Gloria, not so different from former President Cory and even beyond in blaming the sad state of the nation on the 20-year rule of former President Marcos, or Gloria’s unbelievable attribution of most of her misrule as a result of what she claimed to have inherited from the less than three-year presidency of former President Joseph Estrada, whom she unconstitutionally ousted.

The fiscal situation is in its worst shape than ever before with the government estimate, which is always conservative, showing the budget deficit to end the year at a never before seen P325 billion.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100723com1.html

The numbers game FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/23/2010

The numbers game

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
At this point, it was fairly clear that neither the Liberal Party (LP) bet for the Senate presidency, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, nor Sen. Manuel Villar, the Nacionalista Party (NP) bet for the same post, succeeded in getting the required 13 votes, which brought about a stalemate, and a strong opening for a compromise candidate for the top Senate post in the person of incumbent Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile.

But with Enrile emerging as a compromise candidate, inevitably, he reduces the number of senators who were earlier for Pangilinan, as well as a reduction in the number of senators aligned with the bloc of Sen. Edgardo Angara.

Right off, Pangilinan loses Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, which would bring Pangilinan’s number to just nine — if he can still hold on to the nine that he says he has. In reality, the Pangilinan bloc consists of only six, as the duo of Sotto and Honasan were never going to go for Pangilinan..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100723com2.html

Vampires get their teeth into US public FEATURE 07/23/2010

Vampires get their teeth into US public


NEW YORK — She loves the taste of blood, hates the sun, and, if you ask, will tell you she died in a train accident back in 1892: meet Seregon O’Dalley, a would-be vampire living in New York.
She’s far from alone.

Vampires are in fashion across the United States, encouraged by the hit TV series True Blood, now in its third season, the Twilight movies and Vampire Diaries. Stories about feeding on blood are greedily consumed and eagerly published.

For a pastime with dark, anti-religious overtones vampire fashion is itself becoming oddly like an organized religion. There are rules, priests, private gatherings and large-scale celebrations.

Hundreds of “vampires” attend balls every few months, with the next vampire ball taking place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 31.

Believers in this sect-like lifestyle range from teenage devotees of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight to adults who got hooked on Ann Rice’s Vampire Diaries in the 1970s.

Rice is the author credited with turning the European model vampire — exemplified by Dracula, the horrific character at the center of Bram Stoker’s 19th century novel set in Transylvania — into a more user-friendly American version.

In the very un-Transylvanian setting of New Jersey, O’Dalley keeps her apartment well curtained from the sun and decorates with bat motifs.

“It’s like a religion. There are houses, and pageants, and clans, and kind of presidents, ministers,” she said.
Still, this is an age of kinder, gentler vampires. O’Dalley actually enjoys garlic, the traditional weapon against vampires, and her blood consumption is modest, to say the least.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100723com3.html

Respectability NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 07/23/2010


Armida Siguion-Reyna
The Office of the Mayor of Makati presents Aawitan Kita sa Makati tonight at 5:30 p.m., at the 6th floor auditorium of the University of Makati, with “Kontra-Pelo,” a delightful collection of folksy songs set in a barrio where women still do laundry by the river, with the talents of Rachelle Gerodias, Bimbo Cerrudo, Cris Villonco, John Arcilla, Bayang Barrios, Raul Montesa, Miguel Castro and this lola, directed by Carlos Siguion-Reyna, for the city’s senior citizens.

Additionally, my daughter Monique and apo Cris Villonco are mounting Whitespace Market this Sunday, July 25, from 12 noon to 6 p.m., at 2314 Chino Roces Avenue Extension in Makati, where up for sale are regionally grown fruits and vegetables, artisana, cheeses, coffee beans, natural health and beauty products and hand-made crafts. For the foodies, there’s a sampling of Margarita Fores’ international fare, and for art lovers, there’s an ongoing exhibition at the adjacent Manila Contemporary Gallery. Shop until you drop, but please bring reusable bags, thank you.

The family is doing the show and Whitespace Market on the eve of our departure for a two-week family vacation abroad, so we’re ngarag, as my gay friends would say, meaning awfully tired. Then again, this has been the story of our collective lives: meeting deadlines and deadlines, because commitments are commitments. In this connection — and at the risk of sounding immodest — I quote something I picked up from the Internet: “When does a job feel meaningful? Whenever it allows us to generate delight or reduce suffering in others.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100723com4.html

That ‘coup’ case charade DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/23/2010

That ‘coup’ case charade

Herman Tiu Laurel
In 2003, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV led a military protest that found itself in what used to be the Oakwood hotel grounds. There was never any attack on a center of power nor any use of violence according to the defined legal hallmarks of a “coup d’etat.” Even the Yellow Jesuit legal luminary Joaquin Bernas had to admit this. The validity of the plaints raised by Trillanes and his fellow young officers, the Bagong Katipuneros, had been confirmed in the course of the Feliciano Commission’s fact-finding hearings and by history’s subsequent conviction of the Gloria Arroyo regime, through a succession of elections that condemned it to massive defeats.

The corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the flaws in its grievance mechanism, the lack of housing for soldiers, their obsolete equipage, the much-needed action on the National Recovery Program, and the removal of Angie Reyes, Vic Corpus and Jun Ebdane on suspicion of “false flag” operations in Mindanao, among others, were issues brought to the fore.
Oakwood wasn’t Malacañang nor was it a military installation that could be the launching pad for a wider “swift attack.” The Claymore mines some of the young officers apparently installed around the hotel’s perimeter were more apparent that real. As one retired general I talked to, who was at the scene with others like Gen. Roy Cimatu to negotiate for a peaceful conclusion to the Oakwood situation, told me: “When I saw that the Claymore mines were not being connected to fuses and triggers, I knew the young officers were not really going to engage in a fight. It was more psy war.”

This is an important point to be made as some yakking radio anchors are still hammering at the “explosives-being-installed” issue as evidence of the soldiers’ so-called “violent” intent. What transpired was a dramatic airing of issues that changed a nation’s view of the illegal, corrupt, and oppressive regime.

One of the unspoken issues of the Oakwood protest was the seething disquiet among the ranks of the AFP over the illegal Edsa II power grab against a constitutionally, legally and democratically-elected president.

Edsa II constituted a real violation of the Constitution; and despite the Davide-led Supreme Court (SC)’s imaginative figment of “constructive resignation,” this never settled well with the intelligent officers’ corps. The whole Edsa II defiled the very essence of the Rule of Law that every officer and soldier swear with his life to defend. That is also why the military protests did not end with the suppression of the Oakwood protest. Since Arroyo was able to get away with Edsa II, she proceeded to use the AFP in L’affaire “Hello Garci” as she did in the false flag terror ops in Mindanao.

Thus, Oakwood was followed in 2006 by the aborted Gen. Danilo Lim protest march and the Fort Bonifacio stand-off starring Col. Ariel Querubin. It can be argued that with the massive electoral rejection of Arroyo’s candidates in May 2007, the stage would have been set for even more AFP protest moves in the years that followed. But since Arroyo had gradually been persuaded that it was for her own survival and long-term good to decompress and depressurize the situation, this led to the grant of clemency for Estrada.

Then came the Manila Peninsula siege on Nov. 29, 2007 — the protest that arose due to the injustice of the continued detention of Trillanes and the refusal to allow him to attend Senate sessions. All the praises being heaped on the Makati judge sitting on the case are thus without merit, as this is an injustice that continues to this day where the justice system is complicit.

Trillanes’ case highlights the farce that is our intertwined political and judicial system — a farce that persists from the SC down to the lower courts. If judged on merits, ethics, or morality alone, Trillanes and his comrades should have all been freed long ago. They didn’t steal, rob, corrupt or plunder the government. It is Gloria Arroyo, her FG Mike, Reyes, Corpus, Ebdane, Ben Abalos, Nani Perez, Chavit Singson, Hilario Davide, et al. who have been alleged to be demonstrably corrupt, anti-democratic and treasonous in their acts; yet they are scot free. Then there are the corporate and oligarchic plunderers enriching their coffers while impoverishing the nation.

All the quibbling and all the legal hair-splitting, aired through the obfuscating media, that delay Trillanes’ release to fulfill his duty to his 11 million voters are all just farcical stunts to distract from the real issue of the corruption of the entire system.

If our AFP were made of better stuff and prouder of their calling and oath to the nation, they would have long continued the Bagong Katipuneros’ quest for a better society, sprung Trillanes, and put the truly corrupt where they truly belong — in prison.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch Politics Today, Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m. on Destiny Cable Channel 21; our new blog, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100723com5.html

‘Slaves’ in impoverished Yemen still dream of freedom focus 07/23/2010

‘Slaves’ in impoverished Yemen still dream of freedom


SANAA — Officially, slavery was abolished back in 1962 but a judge’s decision to pass on the title deed of a “slave” from one master to another has blown the lid off the hidden bondage of hundreds of Yemenis.

The judge in the town of Hajja, which is home to some 300 slaves, according to residents, said he had certified the transfer only because the new owner planned to free the slave.

But his decision has triggered a campaign by local human right activists.

A 2009 report by the human rights ministry found that males and females were still enslaved in the provinces of Hudaydah and Hajja, in northwest Yemen — the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

Mubarak, who has seven brothers and sisters, has never set foot outside the village where he was born into a family which was inherited as slaves by their local master.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100723com6.html

Pangilinan’s LP bloc cracks, goes for JPE By Angie M. Rosales 07/23/2010

Pangilinan’s LP bloc cracks, goes for JPE

By Angie M. Rosales
The fat lady hasn’t sung as yet, but it looks like incumbent Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile has emerged as the choice of both the Liberal Party (LP) bloc members and the Nacionalista Party (NP) bloc members, with both major blocs showing big cracks by way of the waning of their support for their candidates for the Senate presidency.

Enrile yesterday confirmed published reports of his having been approached by his peers to again assume the post of the Senate presidency.

He appears to have gained the support even from some members belonging to the ranks of two main contenders to the post, Senators Manuel Villar and Francis Pangilinan.

Appearing at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado, Enrile revealed that no less than the members of the Pangilinan bloc in the LP were the first to approach him after realizing that they cannot muster 13 votes to elect him to the post.
But Enrile has yet to accept the “offer” although he gave broad hints he is not closing his door on the idea.

For all intents and purposes, with the ongoing developments in the Senate, Pangilinan does not even have the support of Senators Tito Sotto and Gregorio Honasan, both of whom are expected to give their vote to Enrile.
Sources earlier said that Enrile was approached by some senators sometime this week, in view of a growing consensus for him to continue sitting as their leader as the chamber is heading toward a stalemate in the race to the Senate presidency.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100723hed1.html

Pro-import DTI chief riles local traders By Ayen Infante 07/23/2010

Pro-import DTI chief riles local traders

By Ayen Infante
New Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo who was supposedly appointed by President Aquino to a one-year term, did not waste time in earning the displeasure of his constituents in the local domestic industries who are now up in arms over his alleged sweeping statement that greatly favors imports and sub-standard products.
Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) president Jesus Arranza, in a statement, said the new policy directions boasted by Domingo at a meeting with members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) recently made it appear that Domingo wants to adopt the law of the jungle or a survival of the fittest and the elimination of the unfit among local businesses.

“It appears from the statement of Secretary Domingo that the present dispensation favors trading than manufacturing, that he favors importers who bring in sub-standard products than domestic manufacturers who employ millions of Filipinos and remit billions of taxes to the government,” Arranza said. 

Domingo supposedly said before the PCCI that he will seek the easing of the entry of imports into the country and apparently said that industries that could not compete should just be allowed to fade away.

Arranza said the bias of Domingo to exports is a valid reason for the government to go back to the old set-up of having a separate Department of Trade and Commerce, and a Department of Industry. 

Arranza said local business groups are meeting with Domingo on July 28 to clarify the statements he issued before the PCCI meeting..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100723hed3.html

Palace softens stance on GMA ‘deals’ in Noy Sona By Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/23/2010

Palace softens stance on GMA ‘deals’ in Noy Sona

By Aytch S. de la Cruz
Not only has Malacañang toned down the holiday cheers when it declared July 26 — the day President Aquino delivers his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) — a regular working day, it also tried to dispel expectations that Aquino’s speech will focus on the irregularities left by the previous administration that were supposedly uncovered by his Cabinet secretaries.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda yesterday clarified that Aquino has no plans to disgrace the genuine essence of a President’s Sona by highlighting the problems he purportedly inherited from the Arroyo government.
“The purpose of the Sona is really to explain the true state of the nation when it was left to us by the previous administration (and) because this is his (Aquino’s) first Sona, we’re coming from the point of view of the previous administration,” he said.

Lacierda implied that apart from disclosing some of the “concerns” reported by the Cabinet secretaries to Aquino in their series of Cabinet meetings that started last Tuesday, the President would be laying out his general plan of action to address the lingering problems of the nation, including poverty and hunger, among other things.

“Working from that, we are going to state the situation and then our proposed solutions and the President will advance (and) state his legislative agenda in the State of the Nation Address,” he added.

Lacierda declined to divulge on what will be the general idea behind the content of Aquino’s speech to be delivered before the members of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa on Monday so as not to preempt the President himself..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100723hed4.html

Comelec officials, Smartmatic face graft charges By Marie A. Surbano 07/23/2010

Comelec officials, Smartmatic face graft charges

By Marie A. Surbano
The woes of Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners, along with some of its officials, such as Executive Director Jose Tolentino as well as officials of Smartmatic-TIM Corp. are far from over.

The Philippine Computer Society (PCS) has charged before the Office of the Ombudsman some officials of the (Comelec), Smartmatic TIM Corp., and members of the Technical Evaluation Committee for alleged “incompetence” and for entering into anomalous contracts ahead of the elections.

In a complaint lodged before the Ombudsman, PCS named 17 officials of the Comelec and Smartmatic TIM Corp. as respondents to the case. The complaint asked the Ombudsman to investigate them for unethical conduct and graft and corruption.

PCS accused the Comelec, Smartmatic-TIM and the TEC of colluding and conspiring to breach laws on automated elections and government procurement, among others.

Among those charged are Comelec chairman Jose Melo, commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal, Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer, Armando Velasco, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph. 

Sarmiento is a candidate for the post of Supreme Court Justice, as a vacancy in the high court occurred with the appointment of Justice Renato Corona as chief justice of the high court.

An SC candidate who has pending criminal charges is automatically passed over.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100723hed5.html

Mikey House seat challenged in SC; Reyes allowed to sit as party-list rep 07/23/2010

Mikey House seat challenged in SC; Reyes allowed to sit as party-list rep


Party-list group Akbayan yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop former Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo from sitting as a member of the House of Representatives for the party-list group Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) which claims to represent security guards.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Belo and former Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales, in a motion, said the son of former President Gloria Arroyo should be declared ineligible to become a member of the House due to his blatant failure to comply with the Commision on Elections (Comelec) requirements for party-list groups.

Mikey served two terms as Pampanga’s second district representative before giving way to his mother, who ran and won for the same congressional post.

Akbayan stressed that Mikey failed to comply with Section 6 of Comelec Resolution 8807 requiring party-list groups to submit documentary evidence proving that their nominees “truly belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.”

“Petitioners respectfully submit that if this Honorable Court fails to act with dispatch in the case at bar, it will result in the unfortunate situation wherein an individual becomes a member of the House of Representatives, despite not having complied with the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Elections,” the petitioners said.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100723hed6.html

Villar’s C-5 ethics case goes to archives — JPE By Angie Rosales 07/23/2010

Villar’s C-5 ethics case goes to archives — JPE

By Angie Rosales

The Senate’s probe into the charges of unethical conduct allegedly committed by Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. in connection with alleged improper gains he made from transactions involving the construction of the C-5 road extension project will be consigned to the upper chamber’s archives like many other unresolved cases handled by the chamber.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who led the Senate committee of the whole (Scow) in investigating the C-5 scandal, yesterday said the case will end up in the Senate’s records as the 14th Congress failed to act on it.

He, however, said that reviving the case is still feasible even if the “complainant,” former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, is no longer a member of the Senate.

“There’s nothing that will prevent anybody from reviving it because Villar is still a member of the Senate,” he told reporters at the Kapihan sa Senado news forum.

The Senate spent tedious and bitter floor debates when the matter was first brought up in the plenary before it was relegated to the ethics and privileges committee and later elevated to the chamber investigating as one body..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100723hed7.html

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