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Usurping congressional power EDITORIAL 08/11/2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Usurping congressional power

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Noynoy Aquino’s executive orders (EOs), being issued one after the other, in all likelihood, are, at best infirm, and at worst, illegal and unconstitutional, and in some cases, there is clear usurpation of congressional powers by Malacañang.

The latest EO issued is EO 4, which “restructures” the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) while giving this department a new name, to be known officially as the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
EO 4 states: “There is a vital need to reorganize and effect functional changes within the Office of the Press Secretary and create an office to systematize, rationalize, and complement the existing structure to achieve a more efficient and systematic interaction between the people, the Office of the President and the executive branch.”
It justifies this move with the statement saying that it is “imperative that government redefines its efforts to integrate and harmonize its message conceptualization, formation and development policies and programs in order to fully utilize the opportunities arising from the rapid development of existing and emerging media.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com1.html

Arroyo clone FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/11/2010

Arroyo clone

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
During Gloria Arroyo’s time in Malacañang, when allegations of corruption, or irregularity or presidential impropriety were leveled against her, Palace spokesmen always countered these charges with “prove it” and “bring these to the proper forum.”
This stand apparently hasn’t changed at all under the Noynoy presidency, with his spokesman now coming up with the same challenges of proving these allegations.
Just recently, with the National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief Adm. Feliciano Angue issuing statements on the military still playing partisan politics during the 2010 elections and with those Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers who sided with the winners now reaping their rewards through choice posts in the military, there went Noynoy’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, challenging Angue to present his evidence before the proper forum on his recent revelations that some high-ranking officials of the AFP are still going by the culture of partisan politics.
As Lacierda said: “He (Angue) has to prove that. As far as we know, there’s a process in appointing new generals. There’s a board of generals that they go through. So if there are any allegations that he’s being muscled then let him show proof of that. As I understand it, there’s a hierarchy (in the military) that their democratic voice is not as open as any ordinary citizens..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com2.html

Winds of political change blow through Malaysian jungles FEATURE 08/11/2010

Winds of political change blow through Malaysian jungles


LONG MUBUI — An opposition party poster hanging in a Penan tribal chieftain’s wooden longhouse deep in Malaysia’s rainforests signals winds of political change blowing across Borneo island.

The Penan are among the most disadvantaged of Malaysia’s indigenous people, and have for decades fought a one-sided war against the powerful logging and plantation firms that are obliterating their ancestral land.
But a political transformation in Malaysia, which threatens to unseat the coalition that has ruled for half a century, has put the Borneo island states of Sabah and Sarawak in a powerful position.
And the poster in the Penan longhouse, promoting the leaders of the Democratic Action Party — one of a trio that make up the opposition alliance — is the sort of thing that has the government worried.
Prime Minister Najib Razak made an historic visit last month to the interior of Sarawak to visit the Penan and other “Orang Ulu” — tribal groups known as “River People” as their homelands are located along remote waterways.
The premier, who arrived with senior ministers by helicopter in the village of Long Banga, made multimillion-dollar pledges to fund projects including a long-overdue road, a mini dam and a mobile medical clinic..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com3.html

Pagcor jackpot MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 08/11/2010

Pagcor jackpot

Amb. Ernesto Maceda
The proposal of SMC CEO Ramon Ang to buy Pagcor for $10 billion has become the hot subject of the day in government and media circles.

But it is not about to happen for at least three years. President Aquino calls it “a very interesting proposal,” but he correctly observed that it has to be “studied first” to make sure “we get the correct price.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Francis Escudero, Frank Drilon, Edgardo Angara, Reps. Danilo Suarez (Quezon, 3rd district) and Albee Benitez (Negros Occidental, 3rd district) expressed reservations, pointing out that the government should retain the regulatory functions of Pagcor and the proceeds should be earmarked or deposited in a trust fund.

We submit the $10 billion offer has no factual basis yet considering the reported corruption in Pagcor. President Aquino should order SGV or any reputable auditing firm to conduct an audit of Pagcor. Its reported P29 billion income is certainly understated. Ramon Ang says this should easily be increased to P35 billion. With the addition of five luxury casinos at Entertainment City and several more at Subic, Clark, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and Metro Manila, it may even be P40 billion.

An offer of $10 billion has been made. Government must now set its minimum price at between $15 to 20 billion.
One thing sure, you need a law to sell Pagcor. With a P450 billion price tag or more, certainly a P22.5 billion or 5 percent lobby fund would be needed. Jackpot!... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com4.html

US pilots fly Pakistan flood aid to win hearts and minds focus 08/11/2010

US pilots fly Pakistan flood aid to win hearts and minds


GHAZI — For US combat pilots in Afghanistan, there are two reasons to visit Pakistan: To help provide aid to the millions affected by devastating floods, and to improve America’s image.
Torrential monsoon rains have lashed Pakistan for two weeks, triggering catastrophic flooding that the UN says has affected 13.8 million people, in a disaster eclipsing the 2004 tsunami that killed 220,000 across Asia.
Entire villages have been washed away. Parts of the country, such as the northwest Swat valley which for years was paralyzed by Taliban insurgency, are cut off from the outside world. An estimated 1,600 persons have died.
The government says the international community has promised $92 million, but it is the presence of US military helicopters that may incite the most controversy in Pakistan, where anti-Americanism is endemic.
The White House said that US helicopters have helped to save more than 1,000 lives in Pakistan. Washington has provided $35 million in aid, including 436,000 halal meals and 12 pre-fabricated bridges..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com5.html

For Prisco HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 08/11/2010

For Prisco

Aldrin Cardon
Until he received a moderate tongue-lashing from President Aquino in the aftermath of “Basyang,” a rather moderate typhoon compared to the worst ones that hit the country only recently but still resulted in about a hundred deaths, Nilo Prisco had opted to stay in the sidelines of action, unless his services were needed.

And oftentimes they were, especially during typhoon months, when Nilo, as our many sources in the Philippine Atmospheric and Astronomical Services Administration-Department of Science and Technolgy (Pagasa-DoST) have claimed.

He would spend countless days in their aging office, sometimes without sleep, as he joined hands with a few other weather scientists in monitoring many a typhoon’s progress, using antiquated equipment, which they have long appealed for it to be upgraded, if not replaced.

It was not the first time the Pagasa had come under fire. It had, in fact, made inaccurate predictions many times in the past. I remember years ago when the Pagasa, which was still under a different head, predicted a rainy day that prompted the cancellation of classes in most parts of Luzon, only to see one of the best days I’ve had in my life, which I spent biking with my kids, under the moderate sun and some friendly wind, which reminded me of clear, unpolluted days of my youth..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com6.html

Beyond Prisco HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 08/11/2010

Beyond Prisco

Aldrin Cardon
Out with the old, in with the new.

How we would love to say that about the equipment to be found in Pagasa, or as not many Pinoys know, the Philippine Atmospheric and Astronomical Services Administration-Department of Science and Technology (Pagasa-DoST).

But what happened recently was that a long-time Pagasa employee and erstwhile chief got the boot when a new face came in, and it was revealed that never the twain shall meet — that is, Malacañang has said “irreconcilable differences” between Prisco and newly-appointed DoST Secretary Mario Montejo have made it impossible for them to work together. One had to go, and that, as we well know, was Nilo Prisco. 

It was Prisco who got reprimanded by President Aquino after “Basyang” swirled in and danced around Metro Manila, and Pagasa failed to warn Malacañang about its change of direction in time. Like a marriage that never got a chance to work out, that relationship, too, died long before it could blossom..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100811com7.html

SC to Palace: Reply to suits vs EOs 2, 3 By Benjamin B. Pulta and Aycth S. de la Cruz 08/11/2010

Noy has Malacañang lawyers answer petitions

SC to Palace: Reply to suits vs EOs 2, 3

By Benjamin B. Pulta and Aycth S. de la Cruz
No restraining order was handed down by the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday after its initial deliberation into two petitions filed by alleged “midnight appointees” of President Arroyo seeking to invalidate the implementation of President Aquino’s Executive Order (EO) Nos. 2 and 3.
SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the two suits filed by lawyer Eddie Tamondong, acting director of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Department of Justice Assistant Secretary Jose Arturo de Castro were taken up by the high tribunal during yesterday’s regular en banc session.
The Court directed Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. to comment on the two petitions within a non-extendible period of 10 days.
“There was no TRO issued yet by the Court, but the respondent was ordered to comment on the two petitions within a non-extendible period of 10 days,” Marquez said.
EO 2 revoked the appointments of officials appointed by then President Gloria Arroyo on or after March 11, 2010; those who were appointed prior to March 11 but took their oaths and assumed office after the date; or designated during a 45-day ban under the Omnibus Election Code..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100811hed1.html

Budget overhaul, probes set over GOCC fat pays By Angie Rosales and Gerry Baldo 08/11/2010

Budget overhaul, probes set over GOCC fat pays

By Angie Rosales and Gerry Baldo
Fat bonuses and high salaries of executives from government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) reached as much as P47 billion that contributed to the ever growing budget deficit incurred by the previous administration, Sen. Franklin Drilon said.

Drilon vowed to seek reforms in this year’s national appropriations, which he said have been misused and abused over the years.

The chairman of the Senate finance committee said the huge salaries of government executives will be tabled for discussion on the proposed P1.64 trillion budget for 2011, a 6.8 percent increase from this year’s P1.54 trillion appropriations.

Besides the issue of restoring the automatic appropriations of the debt service and preventing the reenactment of the budget, Drilon said the matter concerning fiscal discipline of the GOCCs will be among those the Senate will address when actual deliberations on the budget start.

Drilon earlier filed a resolution to enjoin the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the reported excessive and unwarranted salaries and other perks of officials in GOCCs and government financial institutions (GFIs) adding his committee is ready to start the investigation on Tuesday next week.

Allies of the administration in the House of Representatives also sought an investigation into the salaries and allowances of GOCC officials..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100811hed2.html

Palace plays coy on HLI deal as tillers plan big rally By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Charlie V. Manalo 08/11/2010

Palace plays coy on HLI deal as tillers plan big rally

By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Charlie V. Manalo
Malacañang continues to shrug off criticisms hurled at President Aquino for distancing himself from the highly-denounced compromise agreement between Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and its farm workers as two of the biggest rural based organizations in the country, the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the mother federation of Hacienda Luisita-based farm worker groups Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) have declared Aug. 18 as a national day of outrage against the deal.

The nationally-coordinated protest will coincide with the scheduled oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the five-year old legal case pending before the high tribunal. Lawyers of striking Luisita farm workers led by Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, executive trustee of Sentra Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and lawyer Romeo Capulong of Public Interest Law Center (PILC) will represent the Ambala and ULWU in the case, where they are expected to challenge the compromise deal hatched between the HLI management and some union leaders before the high tribunal.

UMA national coordinator Edna Velarde and KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos had sent memorandums to their chapters all over the country to conduct demonstrations against the HLI compromise deal. 

Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it is not part of Aquino’s mandate to intervene in the affairs of the HLI especially dealing with the farmers’ gripse since it is now considered to be under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as a result of a case about the issue pending before it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100811hed3.html

Noy junks MILF plea; insists on retaining US forces in Mindanao By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Mario J. Mallari 08/11/2010

Noy junks MILF plea; insists on retaining US forces in Mindanao

By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Mario J. Mallari
President Aquino is not about to go against American policy, which is to maintain the US forces in Mindanao, rejecting the appeal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for him to remove the US armed presence in that region.

This simple request was said to have been forwarded by the MILF chairman, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, who said that American presence in Mindanao merely complicates the restive situation in the region which might get in the way once they start negotiating next month.

Malacañang through presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda yesterday said Aquino is committed to resume the peace process without either party laying down a set of preconditions.

“We have not set any preconditions so we hope that they (MILF) will not use as a precondition thd US presence in Mindanao that they are talking about. This is an internal problem that can be resolved by the MILF and the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP),” Lacierda said at a news conference.

Murad also reportedly communicated to some members of the media that they have no intention to go back to square one in the peace negotiations that will be facilitated by the new Aquino administration..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100811hed4.html

Cha-cha alive again as GMA ally files bill By Gerry Baldo 08/11/2010

Cha-cha alive again as GMA ally files bill

By Gerry Baldo
The move to change the Constitution through a constitutional convention (con-con) has been revived in the Lower House with the filing of House Concurrent Resolution No. 4 and House Bill No. 2264.

Introduced by Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. of the Lakas Kampi CMD, both resolution and bill seek to amend the 1987 Constitution on the ground that its provisions “have seemingly outlived their purpose.”

The resolution stated that the “various proposals for amendments to, or revision of the Constitution are essential for this Republic to directly address the basic needs of the people, and to ensure its competitiveness in a highly globalized economy.”

In Barzaga’s resolution, the Cavite lawmaker said the Constitution must be able to provide direction and effectively respond to the conditions at various points in the life of a nation and its people.

“Calling for a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution is the most transparent, exhaustive and democratic means of implementing constitutional reforms,” he said.

Barzaga said through the resolution, the Congress with the vote of two-thirds of all its members can call for the constitutional convention.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100811hed5.html

AFP grumblings show up in manifesto 08/11/2010

AFP grumblings show up in manifesto

Despite claiming that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is non-partisan and professional, with the morale of the military high with a new Commander in chief, grumblings within the military force are still alive, and kicking in an anonymous manifesto that cropped up in Camp Aguinaldo.

The manifesto appears to be related to a third wave of top-level reassignments in the AFP that is upcoming, sparked by today’s mandatory retirement of Western Command (Wescom) chief Vice Admiral Hernani Perez and amids criticisms regarding the military’s promotion system.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. said that the AFP’s Board of Generals (BoG) has already submitted its recommendations to President Aquino, through Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

“We are waiting for the so-called third tranche. We are just awaiting the approval of Commander-in-Chief President Aquino. We will be informing you as soon as it becomes official,” said Mabanta.

Perez, who is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1976, is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 today..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100811hed6.html

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