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Undoing ‘restoring Zion’ philosophy EDITORIAL 12/10/2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Undoing ‘restoring Zion’ philosophy

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When disgraced former Chief Justice and now the appointed head of the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) Hilario Davide Jr. justified the 2001 overthrow of former President Joseph Estrada and his swearing in of then Vice President Gloria Arroyo, together with his and his then sidekick, Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban, in convincing the Supreme Court (SC) that he headed on grounds that Estrada had “constructively resigned,” along with the act of elevating Arroyo to the presidency, which was plagued by constitutional infirmities, Davide had claimed that all this started with his “accidentally” opening the bible to a part that spoke of restoring Zion.

That was clearly an abuse of the high court’s power amd highly unconstitutional, to boot.

The decision to strike down Executive Order (EO) 1 creating the PTC was, in contrast, a return to a high court giving an objective view on questions of law.

The high court’s ruling was anchored on the equal protection clause in the Constitution that broadly requires the application of law without discrimination. The ruling noted that the PTC targeting only the administration of Gloria, in effect resulted in EO 1 violating this principle.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com1.html

Vindictive Noy FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 12/10/2010

Vindictive Noy

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
The latest word has it that Noynoy Aquino wants Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached by his allies.

Naturally, he did not come outright to say that he wants Corona impeached, claiming that he has heard talk among his allies in Congress that they plan to impeach Corona, evidently grounded on the SC ruling striking down Noynoy’s Executive Order (EO) 1, which created the Davide led Truth Commission. His allies denied any knowledge of an impeachment move--which points to this being another Noynoy threat to the SC and Corona.

As Noynoy was quoted by one newspaper: “We have heard voices from the House (of the Representatives). We have checks and balances under our Constitution,” referring to the House’s power of impeachment.

It does look like the SC was spot on when it said that the truth body is a vehicle for vindictiveness and retribution, as Noynoy again shows his vindictive nature while pretending to be doing right by the Filipino people through an impeachment of Corona.

But if this recent ruling of the high court is the very ground to be used by vindictive Noynoy and his allies in Congress against Corona, they should realize that it was not just Corona who had ruled to strike down his EO. There were nine others who did. Are Noynoy and his allies then to file impeachment raps against all 10 justices who voted to junk EO 1?... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com2.html

Distrust marks Iran nuclear standoff but dialog takes hold ANALYSIS 12/10/2010

Distrust marks Iran nuclear standoff but dialog takes hold

GENEVA — The talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear program, which resumed this week after a tense 14-month break, have failed to dissipate deep distrust between world powers and Tehran, analysts and diplomats said.

But the two-day talks between Iran and the European Union with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, which ended on Tuesday with an agreement to meet again in Istanbul in late January, marked the beginning of a new phase of dialog, they told AFP.
“We didn’t move forward one iota, but the positive thing, relatively speaking, is that a rendezvous was arranged in Turkey; that was Iran’s request before they even came to Geneva,” said Mohammad-Reza Djalili, a professor at the city’s Graduate Institute.

The world powers spearheaded by the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton had originally baulked at Tehran’s request to hold talks on Monday and Tuesday in Turkey, successfully proposing the western Swiss city, their traditional meeting place, instead.

But after the two-day talks, a senior US administration official “welcomed” the fact that Iran’s neighbor would host the next encounter.

“We never expected major progress from this one meeting. This is a start,” he said.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com3.html

Noise NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 12/10/2010


Armida Siguion-Reyna
It’s Human Rights Day today.
A specific page in www.un.org explains that “The promotion and protection of human rights has been a major preoccupation for the United Nations since 1945, when the Organization’s founding nations resolved that the horrors of The Second World War should never be allowed to recur.

“Respect for human rights and human dignity ‘is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,’ the General Assembly declared … in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, all States and interested organizations were invited by the General Assembly to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day (resolution 423(V)).

“The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Over the years, a whole network of human rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur.”

I daresay — at the risk of sounding like nagbubuhat ako ng bangko — I’ve contributed somewhat to this day in various ways, in the past and in my much younger days helped political prisoners, participated in actions to ensure that certain abuses don’t happen again or get any worse, marched in the streets against graft and corruption and electoral fraud, and uphold freedom of expression, so on and so forth.

But fighting for the big things... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com4.html

People’s Court for Aquinorroyo DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 12/10/2010

People’s Court for Aquinorroyo

Herman Tiu Laurel
Unlike mainstream newspapers and apparently everybody else, I am not at all impressed by the Supreme Court (SC)’s junking of the Truth Commission or by the PeNoy administration’s avowals to continue the prosecution of crimes against the people committed under the Arroyo regime. I have always seen Arroyo and Aquino III as part and parcel of a continuum of the system ruled by Western neo-colonial powers in partnership with the local ruling class of oligarchs and corrupt politicians. The conflicts among establishment political parties and personalities are more distractive illusions or moro-moro and zarzuela than real antagonisms.

How can they really be antagonistic when they are all the same, except for the brief period of genuine candor under President Joseph Estrada? Cory, FVR, GMA and PeNoy merely sustain the plutocracy that carry on the exploitation of the people for the benefit of the exploiting class.

Buried beneath the hullabaloo over the Truth Commission fiasco now confirmed by the majority decision of the SC are the real crucial issues of the nation, such as the government’s increasing of the wholesale price of NFA (National Food Authority) rice from P23.50 to P25 per kilogram while retail prices have been increased from P25 to P27 per kilo last Dec. 7, which the NFA claims is aimed at “ensuring the viability of the agency.”

If I understand this logic right, the NFA is raising its price not for the direct benefit of the rice farmers but for sustaining the agency which clearly would be good for its personnel, particularly those recently appointed. Yet it remains to be seen whether this would be any good for the farmers and for rice production in the country at all. This is the solution the new government found to plug the budgetary hole when PeNoy’s Cabinet cut the NFA’s funding. What PeNoy has taken away will be replaced by what they now will take from the people’s pockets.

This price increase comes at a time when incomes are stagnant and real unemployment — not to mention underemployment — continues to soar at the highest levels, i.e. between 40 and 60 percent, when one counts unpaid family-based labor in or out of the employed sector. The NFA rice price increase is but one of the many other increases in basic commodities and services the government is poised to approve.

Power rates have continued to rise with the continuing implementation of the PBR (Performance Based Rate) scheme, wherein power companies target profit and alleged performance levels which the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves to allow the collection of those rates in advance — clearly an unconstitutional system being challenged by anti-power plunder consumer groups before the SC. Aside from this, water rates continue to rise as well in the face of declining foreign exchange burdens for these privatized utility companies.

We can go on with the expanding list of cost burdens the government is passing on to the shoulders of the people, such as the South and North Luzon toll fees, as well as that of the SCTex; same with the MRT and LRT rates, all of which the government is just waiting for some opportune time to raise.

Even this short list already presents tremendous financial dislocation for our people — the masa as well as the middle classes. The aggravation of the political moro-moros and zarzuelas for the Aquinorroyo clowns is essential for the ruling class to continue distracting the people from the real issues. These are simultaneously critical for PeNoy’s ConGroup to lay the blame on the past regime while they continue to implement the same conditional cash transfer program initiated under Gloria Arroyo; the same BOT scheme now renamed as public-private partnership projects; as well as another round of increase in the eVAT from 12 to 15 percent.

The SC’s junking of the Truth Commission (TC) exposes the complete paucity of the moral and constitutional integrity of its chief, Hilario Davide, as well as the other retired justices who joined it, for accepting their posts in a constitutionally infirmed body created by incompetent legal minds of the Chief Executive’s office.

They show themselves as no better than the amateurs in Malacañang today, and raise the question of their competence when they were not yet retired from the high court. “Sabagay,” a voice echoed, “the people never had any doubt about the lack of integrity and competence of Davide whose appointment to head the TC crippled its credibility from the very start.”

If these former justices had any dignity, they would have committed seppuku already. The collapse of the TC now sets off multiple football scenarios — an appeal to the SC and a clamor for the Department of Justice to initiate prosecution, which brings the ball to the Ombudsman where Arroyo has another goalie guarding her rear. It’s really a circus.

If the ruling class and its minions in the political sphere were serious in pursuing the crimes committed under the nine-and-a-half years of Gloria Arroyo’s tyranny, they would have set up a special court with impartial and dedicated judges. But can we expect any sense of justice from them especially with the way they persecuted their nemesis President Erap, whose only crime was to oppose the exploitation they wanted him to bless with presidential approval?

Alas, the ruling class and the system it runs will never want a serious inquiry and exposé of the crimes committed under the Arroyo regime for it will expose them too.

The whole truth will have to wait until a genuine people’s revolution (hopefully a peaceful one) establishes a truly democratic government and a People’s Court to expose the complete historical truth and pursue the multitude of particular crimes to mete out justice with finality.
(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch Politics Today with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com; P.S.-“10 minutes lights out vs power plunderers,” 7 to 7:10 p.m., Monday nights) 

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com5.html

Archaeologists warn of climate threat to past treasures FEATURE 12/10/2010

Archaeologists warn of climate threat to past treasures

PARIS — Mummies decaying in Siberia, pyramids vanishing under the sand in Sudan, Maya temples collapsing: climate change risks destroying countless treasures from our shared past, archaeologists warn.

Melting ice can unlock ancient secrets from the ground, as with the discovery in 1991 of “Oetzi,” a 5,300-year-old warrior whose body had been preserved through the millennia inside an Alpine glacier.

But as ice caps melt, deserts spread, ocean levels rise and hurricanes intensify — all forecast effects of man-made global warming — Henri-Paul Francfort of the CNRS research institute fears a heavy toll on world heritage.

Francfort is head of a French archaeological team in Central Asia that played an important part in excavating the Kurgans, or frozen tombs, of nomadic Scythian tribes in Siberia’s Altai mountains.

He fears they now risk being lost.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com6.html

Indian MP pushes compulsory yoga in schools focus 12/10/2010

Indian MP pushes compulsory yoga in schools

NEW DELHI — An MP in India is lobbying for a law that will make yoga compulsory in the country’s junior schools, where he says it will help with discipline, fitness and dealing with “computer-related stress.”

Satpal Maharaj, 59, from the ruling Congress party, said a recent trip to China had inspired him to push for the law, which would take yoga into India’s 217,000 junior schools where children begin their education at around five.

“We saw school children practicing Tai Chi Chuan (martial art) with great discipline in China and I thought, ‘We gave yoga to the world but we are ignoring it in India and we must bring it into our schools,’” Maharaj told AFP.

Yoga, which in the Sanskrit language means “union” or “integration,” involves the practice of numerous physical postures called asanas and is usually combined with long meditation sessions.

Indian scholars believe yoga dates back 5,000 years, based on archaeological evidence of poses found inscribed on stones and references to Yogic teachings in the ancient Hindu scriptures of knowledge, known as the Vedas.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101210com7.html

Human rights groups assail Noynoy for Nobel snub decision By Michaela P. del Callar 12/10/2010

Human rights groups assail Noynoy for Nobel snub decision

By Michaela P. del Callar
In its extraordinary effort to pander to China’s desires after the hostage-taking fiasco last August that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong Chinese, the Philippines is boycotting the Nobel Peace Prize cere-mony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo, Norway today, in turn earning brickbats from human rights groups worldwide.

A prominent human rights watchdog blasted the administration of President Aquino for its decision to skip the Nobel Peace Prize cere-mony, saying it succumbed to bullying from China.

Human Rights Watch said it was “shocked and dis-appointed” at the Philippine decision, especially as the country had always been a leading supporter of Myanmar’s democracy heroine Aung San Suu Kyi, herself a Nobel laureate.

“The Philippines prides itself in its demo-cratic values, which is why it is shocking to see this government turning its back on Liu Xiaobo’s non-violent struggle for free
expression in China,” said Elaine Pearson, the group’s deputy Asia director.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101210hed4.html

Senators slam Noy aides on claims of ‘politically motivated’ ruling By Angie M. Rosales and Aytch S. de la Cruz 12/10/2010

Senators slam Noy aides on claims of ‘politically motivated’ ruling

By Angie M. Rosales and Aytch S. de la Cruz
Civility between independent branches of government is dead, what with President Aquino and Palace aides, who are moreover lawyers and officers of the court, slamming the high court’s ruling striking down Executive Order 1 (EO 1) creating the truth body on grounds of unconstitutionality.

Justice Chief Leila de Lima, along with Solictor-General Anselmo Cadiz, called the recent ruling on EO 1 as politically motivated and that the “investment” made by former President Arroyo has paid off, as well as the Solgen’s claim that the high court’s decision was a payment of gratitude to Arroyo who had appointed them.

It is not known whether the high court will seek sanctions on them for disrespecting the high court openly and issue political arguments publicly, rather than legal arguments.

Aquino’s own supporters, led by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, yesterday chastised Aquino’s
legal team for branding the high tribunal’s ruling as politically-motivated, saying it was uncalled for especially coming from the highest legal officials of the Palace.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101210hed2.html

Clear manipulation seen in Globe Asiatique project By Angie M. Rosales 12/10/2010

Clear manipulation seen in Globe Asiatique project

By Angie M. Rosales
Signs are all over that the Home Development Mutual Fund, or the Pag-IBIG Fund, relaxed its rules and other policies to accommodate controversial developer Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. (GA) and the possibility that money changed hands is not being ruled out as among the considerations, Senate investigators yesterday said.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, also the chairman of the committees, financial institutions and currencies, who presided over the inquiry, said while there have been “talks” over monetary considerations, but admitted that he does not have direct proof because “nobody will talk.”

Easily, the amount could start from P150 million, the senator said, in reference to the multibillion-peso housing loan mess being investigated by the upper chamber.

“On that amount of funding that you will get like P5 billion, you’ll be happy to give out two to three percent of that. It would be easy. Let’s see…P5 billion times three percent, that’s P150 million,” he told reporters.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101210hed3.html

Higher-ups may be coddling Lacson — DoJ exec 12/10/2010

Higher-ups may be coddling Lacson — DoJ exec

The Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday revealed that former and current government officials may be protecting fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson who was tagged as the alleged mastermind in the murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, at a press conference, admitted that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is having difficulty in locating the whereabouts of Lacson in the sense that he is supposedly connected with some powerful politicians.

Lacson who has been hiding for murder case since January this year remains in the “red notice” of the International Police (Interpol) for worldwide search.

“There are some former and incumbent politicians who could be protecting Senator Lacson,” Baraan said without elaborating.

But the Philippine National Police (PNP) downplayed speculations that certain high government officials are coddling Lacson who continues to evade arrest.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101210hed5.html

China ignores Noy, invites VP Binay to Asian Para games opening 12/10/2010

China ignores Noy, invites VP Binay to Asian Para games opening

What could be considered a diplomatic slap in the face of President Aquino — whose official delegation to China as a fence-mending issue over the botched Aug. 23 hostage rescue that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead was virtually rejected by the Chinese government — the same Chinese government issued a formal and official invitation to Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns Jejomar Binay to grace the opening
ceremonies of the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China on Dec. 12.

Binay has accepted the Chinese government’s invitation.

The Vice President was personally invited by the Chinese government through its Ambassador, Liu Jianchao.

In a letter, the ambassador said that the 2010 Asian Para Games “is set to be an event presenting a fabulous chance to the physically challenged people in Asia to showcase their talents.”

“The Chinese side would be highly appreciative of your kind consideration and attendance toward the success of Guangzhou Asian Para Games,” he said.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101210hed6.html

CRITICS TOLD TO FORMALIZE OPPOSITION INSTEAD Impeach Corona call knee-jerk reaction—SC By Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo 12/10/2010


Impeach Corona call knee-jerk reaction—SC

By Benjamin B. Pulta and Gerry Baldo
President Aquino started the talk of his allies in the House of Representatives’ move to impeach the head of the judiciary, following the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that struck down Executive Order 1 (EO 1) creating the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC).

It appears, however, that none of his allies even heard of such talk of impeaching the Chief Justice on such a flimsy ground and denied that there was even talk of a move to impeach him, which fueled more talk of Aquino having raised again the impeachment threat against SC Chief Justice Renato Corona because he didn’t have his way again in the high court.

Amid reports of a brewing campaign to impeach Corona over the high tribunal’s decision to void Aquino’s EO1 creating the PTC, SC acting spokesman Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra, at a press briefing yesterday, said that Corona is calling on his critics to “read his 24-page opinion” before condeming the ruling.

“Impeachment is a nuclear option (which) they should not get into it lightly,” Guerra said, referring to administration allies in Congress.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101210hed1.html

China flexes muscle; maintains ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over Spratlys By Michaela P. del Callar 12/10/2010

China flexes muscle; maintains ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over Spratlys

By Michaela P. del Callar
China yesterday maintained “indisputable sovereignty” over the contested South China Sea territories amid reports that they have built new structures in the area, a violation of a non-binding code of conduct it signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
In a statement, Chinese Embassy spokesman Sun Yi said China’s ownership in the territories, also known as the Spratlys, dates back to ancient times.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha islands and their adjacent waters,” Sun said, but neither denied nor confirmed that China has been erecting new structures in one of its claimed territories in the area.

Seen as one of Asia’s major flashpoints, the South China Sea territories — a cluster of islands, shoals, islets, atolls, cays and reefs — are said to be harboring rich minerals and oil reserves. It is claimed in part or in whole by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. China refers to the Spratlys as Nansha Islands.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101210nat1.html

Medico legal officer: One massacre victim was sexually abused 12/10/2010

Medico legal officer: One massacre victim was sexually abused

A medico legal officer who conducted an autopsy on a dozen victims of the Maguindanao massacre said that one of the female victims might have been sexually abused.

Chief Insp. Dean Caparas Cabrera, medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, disclosed his findings when he resumed his testimony into the results of the autopsy on the victims during Wednesday’s hearing at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig city.

“There is definite evidence of sexual abuse or sexual contact,” he said of the autopsy results of Rahima Palawan, among the 57 civilians slaughtered by armed men on the morning of Nov. 23, 2009.

Cabrera explained that for medico legal officers such as him to determine the “occurrence of sexual abuse,” one takes into account three factors such as a corroborating statement from a witness or the victim herself; the presence of genital injuries during the exam; and the existence of semenal fluid in the victim’s vaginal canal.

“There is definite evidence of sexual abuse or contact on the victim,” the witness said at the afternoon hearing.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101210nat4.html

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