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A test of political will EDITORIAL 08/13/2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

A test of political will

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Noynoy Aquino should be in a tight fix over the expanded value added tax (eVAT) that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) wants to collect on road tolls starting Monday.

For starters, it is a clear breach of his promise not to impose new or additional taxes to raise revenues; a promise that was later revised when it became clear that he would be inheriting a bankrupt government from Gloria to having the tax option as a last resort if other measures to raise revenues fail — although he should have known that when he threw his hat into the presidential ring.
The premise thus was that all other options will be tried in raising revenues such as obliterating corruption in both the BIR and the Customs bureau before Noynoy would consider imposing additional tax burdens to the public..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com1.html

Cases piling up FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/13/2010

Cases piling up

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Cases being brought before the Supreme Court these days against the incumbent administration’s official acts are interesting and make for even more interesting legal and judicial arguments and depending on how these issues are resolved by the SC, could well enrich Philippine jurisprudence.

The latest executive order being questioned today before the high court is EO 1, which is the creation of the Truth Commission, with a petition filed by the allies of Gloria Arroyo, seeking the nullification of the Noynoy’s EO 1 which calls for the investigation of the alleged anomalies committed during Gloria’s term.
The minority’s arguments are pretty good, and appears solid, but then again, everything depends on what the court will say in the end.
That the creation of the Truth Commission is infirm, if not illegal and unconstitutional, has already been pointed out earlier in opinion pieces and commentaries, not because a president is not empowered to create a commission, but because Noynoy, in creating the Truth Commission, insisted on vesting this particular commission with quasi-judicial powers — and all to probe these alleged graft and corruption committed by Gloria..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com2.html

No Ramadan respite as unrest rocks Indian Kashmir focus 08/13/2010

No Ramadan respite as unrest rocks Indian Kashmir


SRINAGAR — The fasting month of Ramadan looks set to be one of curfews, protests and hardship for Muslims in Indian Kashmir, which is experiencing a wave of popular unrest directed against Indian rule.

For two months, violent demonstrations have rocked the troubled Himalayan region. Around 50 protesters and onlookers have been killed.
Each fatality has fuelled fresh anger, in what Kashmir’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has acknowledged is a “cycle of violence.”
The constant round of protests, strikes and curfews has all but shut down daily commerce in the mainly Muslim Kashmir Valley, hurting small traders and making shopping for basic provisions a major challenge.
With Ramadan starting Thursday, residents have been advised to stockpile essentials in preparation for a difficult month..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com3.html

Time for a divorce law? MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 08/13/2010

Time for a divorce law?

Amb. Ernesto Maceda
Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmy de Jesus filed a divorce bill. Lawyer
Evelyn Ursua explained that there is divorce for Muslims under Muslim law since 1977; divorce during Japanese time; divorce before Aug. 30, 1950 and divorce in Spain, Italy and Ireland, Catholic countries.

The Catholic church has indirectly allowed divorce under the guise of annulment. In civil courts, divorce is allowed under the term “declaration of nullity” under the broad term psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code, which is easy to prove if the two parties agree to the dissolution.
The lack of divorce law has resulted in the corruption of judges who received bribes to allow the dissolution of the marriage or annulment. Under the Gabriela bill, the grounds are:
1. Spouses have been separated in fact for five years;
2. When the parties have been legally separated for two years;
3. Any of the grounds for legal separation has caused irreparable breakdown of the marriage;
4. Psychological incapacity;... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com4.html

PeNoy, Gloria, et al. — all one family DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 08/13/2010

PeNoy, Gloria, et al. — all one family

Herman Tiu Laurel
At the gathering for Sen. Sonny Trillanes’ birthday at Camp Crame last Aug. 7, I predicted the “rehabilitation” of Gloria Arroyo within a year or two. I was with Dodong and Princess Nemenzo, NGO leader Manjette, lawyer Argee Guevarra, Oliver Felix (of our guerilla radio Sulo group), and Linggoy Alcuaz at that time. The Nemenzos found this both funny and appalling, as they laughed, doubted and lamented at the same time. Someone interjected: “Sa bagay, the Marcoses are rehabilitated.” To which I hurriedly added that “at least Marcos had the right nation-building program,” unlike Arroyo’s which people believe was pure kleptocracy.

The truth of my prediction is already being seen on radio and in Congress today, as Teddy Boy Locsin glorifies Gloria’s non-imposition of the Value added tax (VAT) on toll ways while the likes of Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. shield her from Rep. Walden Bello’s righteous condemnation.

Gloria Arroyo will be “rehabilitated” under the present system because the system itself is corruption incarnate, in which Arroyo is just one of its children. The other children of the corrupt system will naturally come to her rescue, as sure as Speaker Sonny Belmonte will always be by Gloria’s side to escort the one who has been tagged by many youth activists as “President Evil.” But really, she can only be as evil as the system is.

Belmonte, meanwhile, is said to personify the institutionalization of corruption in Quezon City, the alleged basis of which is that he raised the corruption incarnate “pork barrel” and other fund prerogatives of the Office of the Mayor and all councilors to unprecedented amounts (P2 billion for the mayor, P42 million each for councilors). On the other hand, Lakas to Liberal Party turncoat Neptali Gonzales Jr. has been the alternating partner of Mayor BenHur Abalos in the exploitation of Mandaluyong, the latter being the heir apparent to Ben Abalos’ NBN-ZTE “borger” fortune.

Gonzales invokes “parliamentary courtesy” to shield Arroyo. Coming from a most vulgar Congress, it is truly laughable. They are all claimed to be part of the alleged corrupt family of political degenerates running the country. Walden Belo’s party-list group Akbayan may not be much different, maybe just a bit more ethical by some degree. His party-list matriarch Etta Rosales isn’t exactly a paragon of any virtue, having been a chief lackey of Gloria Arroyo during the 2004 illegal proclamation of the “Hello Garci” president. Rosales will be rewarded by the new Gloria Arroyo, i.e. Noynoy “PeNoy” Aquino, with an appointment to the Commission on Human Rights — to carry on the charade of human rights in an essentially plutocratic, oppressive and exploitative corporatocracy.

Already, PeNoy has proposed to raise the “pork” of senators and congressmen for 2011, from P6.9 billion this year to P22.3 billion next (a whopping 223.18 percent or P15 billion increase). This seems incredible since PeNoy campaigned on the promise of “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” but PeNoy’s Budget Secretary Butch Abad was quoted on it. In fact, one report stated, “Even as the PDAF allocation was increased, the government proposed a reduction of subsidy programs… amid the state’s cash flow problems.”

Those subsidies include those earmarked for the National Food Authority rice purchase. So are they saying that there will be no subsidy for farmers but increased “pork” subsidy for politicians? Everyone knows just how “pork” is the mother of all corrupt funds that politicians dip into, so why is PeNoy increasing this? Perhaps if we put this in context with a new development, a clearer picture on how invisible forces behind PeNoy are reinforcing the edifice of corruption will come about.

This new development is the proposed postponement of the barangay election slated for October on due to alleged financial constraints, together with the simultaneous proposal that it be synchronized with the 2013 national elections.

There are several deleterious effects of these two initiatives: (1) abusive and corrupt barangay officials will not be called into account as a democratic system requires; (2) it will strengthen the indebtedness of the present barangay officials to the present PeNoy regime; (3) these barangay officials will then be used by the current regime to consolidate tyrannical powers in 2013 toward the continuation of the corporatist dictatorship consolidated under Gloria Arroyo; and (4) it will make the “fully synchronized” 2013 elections even more massively chaotic than the already messy elections of 2010.

If the present system is corruption incarnate, then a super-synchronized election aimed at securing it is none other than a perpetuation of this systemic corruption, the evil results of which those jaundiced by the Yellow fever can’t seem to see as continuously ravaging the nation.

For those who still do not know, here’s a sampling of these evils — July 2010 item: Power rates to rise again in August (due to Wesm power horse trading); Aug. 8: Manila Water net income up 34 percent (while people suffer heavier costs); Aug. 9: Robredo wants strengthened Small Town Lottery (cover for jueteng); Aug. 10: AFP suppresses Adm. Feliciano Angue exposé on 2010 elections; Aug. 11: $10-billion offer for Pagcor.

As long as the corrupt system goes on and on — exploiting, inveigling and plundering — PeNoy only continues the legacy of Cory, FVR and Gloria.

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

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com5.html

Russia’s top duo fight to save reputation from flames focus 08/13/2010

Russia’s top duo fight to save reputation from flames


MOSCOW — Be it dousing fires from a plane or sacking several officers in a single meeting, Russia’s ruling tandem is battling to ensure its hold on power does not go up in smoke in the wildfire crisis.

Image-making has emerged as significant a weapon in the crisis as hoses or water-bombing jets as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev seek to ensure their popularity survives the crisis intact.
With Russia emerging from the slowdown, the duo may have been congratulating themselves on deftly seeing off the economic crisis as they planned their summer holidays.
But then Russia found itself hit by a heatwave that wrecked 10 million hectares of land and triggered wildfires which have killed over 50 persons and burned down entire villages.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com6.html

Catholic Church raises profile in Cuba with icon of virgin FEATURE 08/13/2010

Catholic Church raises profile in Cuba with icon of virgin


HAVANA — For the first time since the Cuban revolution half a century ago, an icon of Cuba’s patron saint is making the rounds of the island in a sign of a gradual rapprochement between the Communist authorities and the Catholic Church.

The pilgrimage’s send-off took place Sunday at the shrine to the Virgin of Charity of Copper, in a valley peppered with copper mines near Santiago de Cuba, 950 kilometers (590 miles) east of Havana.
Its year-and-a-half journey through the Cuban countryside is a highlight of festivities organized by the church to mark the 400th anniversary of the virgin’s appearance, according to legend, to three fishermen lost in a storm..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100813com7.html

GMA allies seek SC’s voiding of truth body By Gerry Baldo, Benjamin B. Pulta and Aycth S. de la Cruz 08/13/2010

‘Violates equal protection clause and amends Charter’

GMA allies seek SC’s voiding of truth body

By Gerry Baldo, Benjamin B. Pulta and Aycth S. de la Cruz
Members of the House minority bloc yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify the creation of the Truth Commission through Executive Order (EO) 1, on the ground that its establishment is unconstitutional.

This is the third EO issued by President Aquino, through his Executive Secretary that is being challenged before the high court.

Earlier, EO 2 and 3, seeking the dismissal of Palace-claimed appointees and the nullification of an Arroyo issued EO granting government lawyers career executive officer status, have also been questioned before the high court.
Minority leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and three other senior lawmakers, in a 55-page petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, challenged the constitutionality of EO 1 which formed the “Truth Commission” with Palace-designated head, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

They asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and or a writ of preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo.

Docketed as G.R. No. 193036, the petitioners including Lagman, Reps. Rodolfo Albano, Jr, Simeon Datumanong and Orlando Fua, Jr. posited that EO 1 violates the separation of powers as it arrogates the legislative authority of the Congress to create a public office and appropriate funds for its operation.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100813hed1.html

Unless SC issues TRO, toll VAT on, says Palace By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/13/2010

Unless SC issues TRO, toll VAT on, says Palace

By Benjamin B. Pulta
Despite being deluged by demands for the government to defer the imposition of the 12 percent value added tax on road tolls, both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Palace said yesterday that the tax will be imposed on Monday as scheduled unless the Supreme Court issues a hold order.

Unless the SC issues a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the imposition of VAT on tolls nationwide, the BIR will start imposing the tax on Monday, Aug. 16, Malacañang stressed yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda maintained that the 12-percent VAT on toll is not a new tax measure.
Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said the VAT on tolls should not significantly affect the cost of transporting people and goods.

Henares said the measure will not impact heavily on the public because of the input or output formula. 

The substantial amount to be collected by the government will go the programs for the poor, she added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100813hed2.html

Too many spokesmen in Cabinet spoil budget By Aytch S. de la Cruz 08/13/2010

Too many spokesmen in Cabinet spoil budget

By Aytch S. de la Cruz
In accomodating too many mouthpieces of Cabinet rank, the Palace is in a bind over where to place the new communications offices created under Executive Order 4 to keep the Executive under the bounds of law that bars it from creating a new portfolio agency that gets budget funding. 

Yesterday, the head of the new Presidential Communi-cations Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) said his office might be placed under the Office of the President (OP).

PCDSPO Secretary Ricky Carandang revealed this to reporters who were inquiring on the budget plans of the the former Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) now called the Presidential Communi-cations Operations Office (PCOO).

The PCOO led by Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma is expected to get the bigger share of the budget of the former OPS according to Carandang as he found out that his office will be placed under OP just like the office of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, who also has a Cabinet rank.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100813hed3.html

DoST chief’s appointment raises conflict of interest concerns By Aytch S. de la Cruz 08/13/2010

DoST chief’s appointment raises conflict of interest concerns

By Aytch S. de la Cruz
It is now the Aquino administration’s turn to defend itself from the conflict of interest issues that might hound it soon, as Malacañang yesterday confirmed reports that Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo is related by affinity to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

The admission was made by presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda during a post-briefing interview but he denied that Ochoa, a close ally of President Aquino, has lobbied for his brother-in-law’s appointment at the helm of the
Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

“Secretary Montejo is in a relatively apolitical department. He is in the DoST and he is qualified to head that agency. There was no politics involved there,” Lacierda said.

He stressed that Montejo was appointed owing to his feats cited by the President in the field of science and technology including some of the inventions that he supposedly made in the past.

“Secretary Mario Montejo is the brother-in-law of Secretary Ochoa but please don’t put any political color because he is more than qualified. Again, the appointing power is the President, not Secretary Ochoa — just to emphasize that point,” he told reporters.

Because of this confirmation, speculations become widespread that Montejo has something to do with Aquino’s decision to sack Prisco Nilo as chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) last week..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100813hed4.html

Pirate attack on Norwegian ship with 29 Pinoys thwarted By Michaela P. del Callar 08/13/2010

Pirate attack on Norwegian ship with 29 Pinoys thwarted

By Michaela P. del Callar
Some 29 Filipino seafarers onboard a Norwegian-flagged ship survived a hostage attack by Somali pirates after it was foiled by European Union forces patrolling the dangerous Gulf of Aden off Somali waters.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Filipino sailors could have been among the 81 other Filipino seamen being held hostage in Somalia if not for the “timely action” of the European Union Naval Force (EU NavFor).

In a letter by manning agency ODFJELL Philippines Inc. to the DFA, chemical tanker MT Bow Saga was attacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden in the early morning of Aug. 3, when it was proceeding westward in
the International Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden.

Seven armed brigands using a small boat fired shots at the vessel. 

The ship’s crew adopted security measures and conducted various counter actions, including evasive maneuvering and water deployment to prevent boarding.

The ship’s captain sent out a distress call and an EU NavFor unit close by responded.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100813hed5.html

SC rebukes Palace on EO 2 rush, calls for courtesy By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/13/2010

SC rebukes Palace on EO 2 rush, calls for courtesy

By Benjamin B. Pulta
Not so fast. A little judicial courtesy should be in order.

President Aquino and his spokesman, lawyer Edwin Lacierda, must be red in the face, especially after bragging that, as the Supreme Court (SC) had failed to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on Executive Order (EO) 2 on the so-called Midnight Appoint-ments, the firing of these officers appointed by former President now Rep. Gloria Arroyo has been given the green light.

SC spokesman and Court Administrator Midas Marquez yesterday “advised” Malaca-ñang to put off ousting the alleged midnight appointees despite the absence of a restraining order from the high court.

Calling what he described as “judicial courtesy,” Marquez pointed out that the Palace should put off the implementation of executive orders of Aquino revoking the “midnight appointments” of the Arroyo administration while the case has not yet been finally resolved by the high court.

Marquez, said “It would be more prudent (for Malacañang) to maintain a status quo in the meantime since the Court has already acquired jurisdiction on the issue. What we’re asking is for them (Palace) to just give the Court a little more time on deciding whether it would issue a TRO or not,” he said.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100813hed6.html

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