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Giving the US-backed MILF its substate EDITORIAL 08/31/2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Giving the US-backed MILF its substate

Click to enlarge
With the Moro Islamic Liberation Front panelist talking, certain points during that “secret” meeting in Japan between Noynoy and MILF chieftain appear to bear out suspicions that Noynoy did promise the MILF certain things, including a substate for the BangsaMoro government, and a lot more besides, since some Cabinet officials representing the very departments that are excluded in the substate version of the MILF were also present.

The MILF was pretty upbeat after the secret talks with Noynoy, and its leaders were already talking as though the substate proposal they spoke about was a done deal, with merely a final accord making it official.

Obviously too, with the Budget Secretary Butch Abad also in the picture, money — and a lot of it — not just a measly P5 million to keep the MILF happy — was part of the secret meeting topic.

The talk apparently had already revolved around a substate, with a BangsaMoro authority granted a lot of state power and with the government of the Philippines having the authority over national defense, foreign relations, currency and postal services and would still be exercised by the central government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110831com1.html

The power of money — and control FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/31/2011

The power of money — and control

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Noynoy and his budget boy show clear signs of making the Supreme Court (SC) toe the Malacañang line.

It has become much too clear that Noynoy wants to control the high court, to the point of having slashed the SC’s budget last year, and again this year, with Malacañang insisting that P1.25 billion in the judiciary’s budget should be under the executive department’s control, using the mantra of “judicial transparency.”

The problem is that under the Constitution, the judiiciary is protected by its fiscal autonomy, besides which, Noynoy and his administration can hardly claim, in all honesty, that they are transparent, especially about the funds. To this day, Noynoy has not accounted for the expenses made on his 2011 P400-million intelligence funds, as well as his expenses in the matter of the funds in his presidential social fund (PSF). No project has been announced thus far that he had assisted though his PSF.

Today, despite the utter lack of Palace transparency, Noynoy even has added another P200 million to his inteligence fund, for a 2012 total of P600 million in intelligence fund alone, even if his office is strictly not into intelligence gathering, which is the reason he cut off intel funds in other departments..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110831com2.html

Tough times ahead for Japan’s Noda, say analysts ANALYSIS 08/31/2011

Tough times ahead for Japan’s Noda, say analysts


TOKYO — New Premier Yoshihiko Noda faces a struggle to stop Japan’s revolving door of political leadership, analysts warn, jeopardizing his chances of tackling the world’s biggest debt burden.

The hawkish finance minister replaced Naoto Kan as prime minister Tuesday to become the nation’s sixth new leader in five years after the ruling Democratic Party of Japan chose him as its new president over rival Banri Kaieda.

Noda, who likens himself to a marine bottom-feeder rather than a glittering goldfish, has stressed his credentials as a responsible, moderate and middle-of-the road leader at a time of national crisis.

But there is skepticism that will be enough, with his immediate priority the passing of a third budget to pay for post-March 11 quake reconstruction as he looks to revive an economy that has contracted for three straight quarters..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110831com3.html

Valueless C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 08/31/2011


Jonathan De la Cruz
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, she of the acerbic tongue and matchless wit, is at her fightingest mode all over again. She has scored her colleagues’ propensity to undertake “inquiries-in-aid-of-legislation” instead of buckling to actual legislative work and policy making. She admitted that most of the time the probes do not really serve their purpose and, worse, turn senators into two bit investigators and prosecutors. Herself a darling of media, she decried the fact that the medium has actually turned legislators into actors doing everything possible to get into the news and bring attention to themselves rather than the topic at hand. She called the hearings which are usually covered live on TV and radio as variously “inquiries-in-aid-of-election” or “inquiries-in-aid-of-public adulation.”

Said Santiago: “These inquiries-in-aid-of-legislation or public hearings or public investigation of the Senate are actually useless. It is valueless because the most that we can do is refer the case to the Ombudsman or the Department of Justice for them to study if there is probable cause to conduct preliminary investigation. If we have the power of preliminary investigation that would justify the time spent in these proceedings, we become investigators and fiscals. But that is not the case..... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110831com4.html

Cambodia’s activist monk fights on despite threats focus 08/31/2011

Cambodia’s activist monk fights on despite threats


PHNOM PENH — His saffron robe a rare beacon among protesters, Cambodia’s most outspoken monk has been banned from temples and risked arrest for challenging rights abuses — but he vows not to be silenced.

“The more they threaten me, the more I stand up for our rights,” said the Venerable Loun Sovath, also known as the “multimedia monk” for filming forced evictions and distributing the footage.

In a country where Buddhist monks are hugely respected but rarely seen standing shoulder to shoulder with those fighting abuses, his peaceful activism has attracted praise from rights groups — and condemnation from authorities.

“Seeing a monk among the crowd lifts the spirits of people defending their human rights,” the bespectacled holy man told AFP during a recent interview in the capital, where he joined a rally against deforestation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110831com5.html

US opposes VFA review —Wikileaks By Michaela P. del Callar 08/31/2011

US opposes VFA review —Wikileaks

By Michaela P. del Callar 08/31/2011

The United States had opposed the review of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines even as the Philippine government pointed out “defects” in the defense accord, a US Embassy cable released by online whistleblower WikiLeaks said.

Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless, who visited in Manila in 2007, told Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis in a meeting that there is no need to review the agreement since it is working well for both countries.

Manila is spe-cifically against a vague provision granting the US primary custody of American military personnel ac-cused of breaking Philippine laws. Surrendering erring American troops to Philippine authorities would mean they would have to be incarcerated in a local jail, touted as one of the worst prison cells in the world, and join other Filipino inmates, a move the US government strongly objects.

This situation was put to a test when Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was accused of raping a Filipina off military hours..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110831hed2.html

Bad performance did Alvarez in — Palace By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 08/31/2011


Bad performance did Alvarez in — Palace

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 08/31/2011

Bad performance did in former Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez, and not his claim of bad publicity which Alvarez insinuated to have been orchestrated by smuggling syndicates, the Palace stated yesterday.

Bad publicity was not the reason for President Aquino’s decision to sack Alvarez, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said yesterday.

But even as Aquino declared that he had already given the walking papers to Alvarez, Valte claimed Aquino’s aides are being kept in the dark on his replacement.

She is also uncertain when the actual turnover would take place..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110831hed1.html

RP backs new Libyan government By Michaela P. del Callar 08/31/2011

RP backs new Libyan government

By Michaela P. del Callar 08/31/2011

The Philippines yesterday finally withdrew its support for Libyan strongman Moammer Kadhafi and announced that it is officially recognizing the opposition-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate government in Libya.

As members of the Kadhafi family departed Libya and sought refuge in neighboring Algeria, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) referred to the NTC as the “legitimate representative of the Libyan people” and urged it to “lead the country toward peace and security.”

“The Philippines recognizes the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people during this period of transition in the country,” a DFA statement said.

Manila’s support for the NTC indicates the country’s new policy toward Libya after it had hesitated in the past to immediately shift sides as Kadhafi’s grip on power waned to safeguard hundreds of Filipino workers from possible retaliatory attacks..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110831nat2.html

Solon urges GSIS to restore pension of Napocor retirees 08/31/2011

Solon urges GSIS to restore pension of Napocor retirees

Newly installed Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday asked the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to restore the monthly pensions of nearly 9,000 National Power Corp. (Napocor) retirees that the state-run pension agency stopped last April, allegedly in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling.

Pimentel urged GSIS chairman Daniel Lacson and GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara to liberally interpret the laws in favor of its members or beneficiaries.

“If, under our Labor Laws, a fair day’s pays for a pair day’s work is a long accepted doctrine, the same should equally apply to retirees who look at their retirement benefits as a financial refuge in their old age,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said Napocor retirees have made invaluable contribution to the development of the Philippine electric power industry and deserve due recognition for services rendered..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110831nat5.html

Lawmaker mulls people’s initiative vs oil deregulation law 08/31/2011

Lawmaker mulls people’s initiative vs oil deregulation law

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares yesterday called on consumers to launch a people’s initiative to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law considering that it has caused so much price increases in oil products and has not served its purpose of lowering its cost.

This will be a parallel initiative to Congressional action on bills filed by Bayan Muna and the progressive block in Congress to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law.

“It is about time the people take “the law into their own hands,” said Colmenares. “Actions within and outside Congress could help push the eventual repeal of the law that has allowed spiralling fuel prices in the country.”

Colmenares said that “an “Initiative” is the power of the people to propose amendments to the Constitution or to propose and enact legislations through a petition of 10% of the registered voters.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110831met3.html

PRC scraps mass oath-taking of newly registered nurses 08/31/2011

PRC scraps mass oath-taking of newly registered nurses

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz yesterday said the Board of Nursing (BoN) of the Professional Regulation Commission has scrapped the usual mass oath-taking of newly registered nurses beginning with the successful examinees of the July 2011 Nursing Licensure Examination.

Baldoz said the move is in response to the Aquino government’s call for prudent budget management.

She said Commission ChairmanTeresita Manzala reported to her that the BoN has decided to do away with the mass oath-taking of successful examinees, citing the current socio-economic condition being experienced by Filipino families, especially the income class where majority of the nurses belong.

“While the oath-taking is a requirement of law, the Board [of Nursing] decided to simplify it to save on costs and other expenses relevant to the holding of the traditional mass oath-taking. The oath-taking ceremony, however, will still be undertaken either individually or by groups upon their registration for nurse licenses with the PRC,” Manzala explained..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110831met7.html

Noy’s bag of surprises EDITORIAL 08/30/2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Noy’s bag of surprises

Click to enlarge
The nation hasn’t yet recovered from the surprise that Noynoy pulled in that secret meeting held with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, in Japan that many saw as a revival of the scuttled Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) which sought to create the unconstitutional Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), now Malacañang has sprung another whammy in the $50-billion joint exploration agreement that may be brought up in Noynoy’s visit to China starting Aug. 30.

The agreement sounds like another rerun of another controversial past deal. The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking Agreement with China during the Arroyo administration was assailed as being grossly tilted toward China’s since it allowed the exploration of areas which are not part of the disputed territories. The Senate then said that going through with the agreement would be an impeachable offense on the part of the President.

The Palace has not released any details on the agreement, merely giving an assurance that the administration would assure that the agreement would be fair on the benefits to be derived from it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110830com1.html

Impossible dream FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/30/2011

Impossible dream

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Strange are truly the ways of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) — despite the country being under a claimed honest and transparent Aquino administration.

One would have thought that, having Noynoy appointees to head the Comelec, the electorate can now hope to have a clean poll body and clean polls.

But it appears that no such thing is likely to happen — especially as the 2013 senatorial polls loom, with, no doubt, Noynoy wanting to ensure the victory of his senatorial bets — which means bets largely coming from the Liberal Party ranks.

While a joint probe body headed by both the Department of Justice and the Comelec will be conducting hearings on the alleged 2004 and 2007 election fraud and the designated members named, the Comelec chairman apparently had a change of mind and pulled out its former law department director Ferdinand Rafanan as member of the joint Comelec-DoJ panel..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110830com2.html

Not a peep NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 08/30/2011

Not a peep

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Outside of typhoon talk, last week’s usap-usapan centered mostly on three topics: Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo once again covering up for Kuya Mike, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay’s heated exchange with Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, and an Agusan-based priest’s alleged rape of a female minor.

Recall that we never really hear anything from Iggy Arroyo. Not a peep, on issues big or small. He just really creeps out of the woodwork whenever there’s need to defend the bro’. And look here, for this time around, he’s not even well, there’s talk about a serious ailment that needed to be treated all the way in London. Yet he broke free from the treatment, albeit momentarily, to confer with lawyers, and thereafter issue statements clearing utol of anything and everything, along the lines of “Whatever it is, it ain’t Jose Miguel whodunit, I dunnit.”

So, ‘ayan. The helicopters Sen. Ping Lacson’s witnesses say were actually owned by the former First Gentleman and used in his wife’s 2004 campaign and then sold to the Philippine National Police as brand new? Ex-FG knew nothing about that, because it was all Iggy’s doing. And then Iggy proceeds to tell an unlikely tale of choppers not really owned by them, but merely leased. So on and so forth, ad nauseum, with Iggy clearly expecting us to believe him..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110830com4.html

There is an alternative AN OUTSIDERS VIEW Ken Fuller 08/30/2011

There is an alternative

Ken Fuller
This outsider has it on good authority that in the recent past, former president Joseph Estrada has developed an admiration for Claro M. Recto, who over the course of his career evolved from traditional politician to consistent nationalist. Had Recto’s nationalism begun to work its magic earlier, there would have been no question of Mr. Estrada attempting to remove the nationalist safeguards from the Constitution during his abbreviated presidency. It would seem, however, that son Jinggoy has yet to fall under the Recto spell, for he is calling for the “outdated charter” to be amended.
Another senator supporting a review of the economic provisions is Antonio Trillanes IV. According to the Philippine Star report of Aug. 16, his main interest seems to lie in securing a reduction in domestic shipping rates (presumably by the introduction of foreign competition, although this is far from clear). He also argues that Congress should discuss and vote on the amendments one by one, in the same manner as normal legislation, thus obviating the need for a constitutional convention or constituent assembly, either of which might be railroaded into a sweeping revision of the Charter.
It is surprising to see Trillanes’ name associated with revision or elimination of the economic provisions because he is held to be a staunch nationalist. Indeed, when I interviewed Sonny Melencio earlier this year for my current book project (the third and final volume of a history of the Philippine left; the first volume was published by UP Press in 2007 as Forcing the Pace, while the second, A Movement Divided, will be issued by the same publisher very shortly), he recalled how, when he had visited Trillanes in detention, the latter had expressed opposition to socialism on the grounds that it was “foreign.” So too, Melencio pointed out, is nationalism, meaning that some ideologies, although originated in specific geographical/historical circumstances, can have universal application.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110830com5.html

Armstrong relives historic moon landing FEATURE 08/30/2011

Armstrong relives historic moon landing


SYDNEY — It’s more than 40 years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, but his memories of the historic flight remain as undimmed as his passion for further exploration of space.

The Apollo 11 commander, now aged 81, relived the 1969 mission that enthralled the world as he watched Google’s new high-definition images of the moon in Australia last week.

The pictures, available on YouTube since May but which Armstrong said he had only just seen, show Apollo 11’s landing spot, including the fuel cell left behind which it also used as a launch pad.

“So for the sceptics about whether we ever landed on the moon — this is a pretty good indication that somebody’s done it,” he quipped to a business audience that had paid hundreds of dollars to hear him speak..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110830com6.html

PPP: Once again — with feeling VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 08/30/2011

PPP: Once again — with feeling

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
There was this recent disappearing act of no less than the President of the Republic: It was called a “visit.” It was done “abroad.” It was held “secret” in nature and objective.

Thus it came to pass that there was a time when the country had a President who could be then rightfully considered “missing” by the People of the Philippines — until the rare phenomenon was eventually brought to their attention. The cat is out of the bag. The issue is big. The implication is profound.

Briefly said, true or false, the distinct occasion brought to fore a distinct concern about the distinct matter of a “substate” in Mindanao — or something the like. The reactions were serious and immediate. Those indirectly concerned registered their reservations. Those directly concerned came up with their own convictions.

Thus came to pass the huge and shrieking headline of a well-known national daily echoing the choice occasioned by the said “visit.” In other words, some kind of an alternative was given to the Malacañang occupant: “Popularity or Peace.” Translation: Disregard the establishment of the “substate” and remain “popular.” See to it the “substate” becomes a reality and “peace” would be the fruit thereof..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110830com7.html

Kato rattles saber as MILF queries gov’t offer for peace By Mario J. Mallari 08/30/2011

Kato rattles saber as MILF queries gov’t offer for peace

By Mario J. Mallari 08/30/2011
A supposed renegade member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Ameril Umbra Kato vowed yesterday to destroy peace efforts between the government and the secessionist group as the main MILF negotiators questioned the government’s offered formula of a “Bangsamoro Commission” in its proposed draft peace agreement, claiming such does not provide real autonomy to the Moro people.

Surrounded by a small band of ragtag but ruthless followers, hardline Muslim rebel commander Kato vowed to destroy the latest peace efforts.

Decades of fighting have neither wearied nor diluted the resolve of the Saudi Arabian-educated guerrilla, and he warns he remains willing to kill and die in his quest to achieve an independent Muslim homeland in the resource-rich Mindanao.

Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF peace panel secretariat, meanwhile, said the government of the Philippines’ (GPH) proposed draft agreement was not meant to allow Bangsamoro people self-determination being pursued by the MILF..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110830hed2.html

Alvarez already sacked, says Noy By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 08/30/2011


Alvarez already sacked, says Noy

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 08/30/2011

Earlier denials of an impending top-level revamp at the Bureau of Customs (BoC), notwithstanding, President Aquino yesterday announced that he had sacked Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez who came under fire following the disclosure that 2,000 container vans vanished into thin air right under the nose of the Customs chief.

In pre-recorded interview over Radio Mindanao Network, Aquino disclosed that he had fired Alvarez and had found a replacement for him without giving a name, bolstering lingering speculations the President’s action has long been a done deal although he tried very hard to deny it.

Aquino’s announcement came a day before his scheduled five-day state visit to the People’s Republic of China.

Alvarez, meanwhile, said he will start packing his bag after Aquino confirmed his dimissal..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110830hed1.html

Saudi Arabia extends ‘Royal Amnesty’ to overstaying Filipinos 08/30/2011

Saudi Arabia extends ‘Royal Amnesty’ to overstaying Filipinos

Filipinos who are overstaying after performing “Umrah,” a form of pilgrimage, are given until Sept. 14 to leave Saudi Arabia, the largest Islamic state in the Middle East and where the two Holy Mosques are located, without being penalized, according to a Filipino migrants right group.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said last April 27 the Saudi Ministry of Interior announced that a Royal amnesty was granted to expatriates who have violated residency rules and overstayed as reflected on their ‘umrah’ visas on Sept. 22, 2010 for a period of six months or up to March 23, 2011. This has been extended up to Sept. 14, 2011.

“Filipinos who were overstaying after performing ‘Umrah’ have barely 15 days to avail themselves of the Royal pardon. They could leave Saudi Arabia without any corresponding penalty, monetary and weeks of detention at the deportation center till Sept. 14,” Monterona added.

Monterona said overstaying Filipinos can directly proceed to any Saudi international airports and will only be required by Saudi immigration authorities to present his or her passport along with the expired ‘umrah’ visa and airplane ticket..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110830nat6.html

Bill seeking to video-tape all gov’t transactions filed By Angie M. Rosales 08/30/2011

Bill seeking to video-tape all gov’t transactions filed

By Angie M. Rosales 08/30/2011

A proposition has been laid down in the Senate where government procurement transactions are being required to be video-taped, in the hope of preventing and discouraging corruption.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV proposed to make mandatory the video recording of all the meetings and proceedings starting from the level of the bids and awards committee (BAC) to ensure transparency and honesty in the execution of government policies.

Five years since the enactment of the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act 9184 is still plagued with collusion, abuse of discretionary criteria, malfeasance, misfeasance, and other forms of corruption, the senator noted.

“It is high time that we use video recording in all the procurement transactions of the government to prevent corruption issues like the anomalous purchase of helicopters by the PNP (Philippine National Police) officials,” Trillanes said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110830nat1.html

Philpost stops free ‘snail mail’ service to judicial system By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/30/2011

Philpost stops free ‘snail mail’ service to judicial system

By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/30/2011

In a sign of the times, postal officials yesterday said its cash- strapped operations could no longer provide free “snail mail” service to the country’s judicial system and asked the Supreme Court (SC) to formally review the “franking privilege” it enjoys.

Despite recent rules allowing electronic evidence and other advances in paperless documentation, the bulk of pleadings before the courts are still paper-based copies sometimes requiring up to 11 copies of a single pleading.

The Philippine Postal Corp. (Philpost) is now asking the high court to share in the cost of transporting the franked mail by air..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110830met1.html

Multinational firms behind push for RH bill — solon 08/30/2011

Multinational firms behind push for RH bill — solon

Multinational companies manufacturing condoms and other contraceptives are behind the push for the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, a lawmaker from Manila said yesterday.

According to Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing, the multinational companies, mostly American pharmaceutical firms, are expected to earn some P200 million every day from the sale of contraceptives in the country.

“Hindi naman ang RH ang isyu dito eh. Gusto lang kumita ang mga Kano kaya sila ang nasa likod niyan,” Bagatsing said.

Bagatsing, a member of a congressional bloc opposing the bill, said the Philippine government is being dictated upon by the United States through the Millennium Development Goals. He added the Philippines has nothing to gain from the bill, except to buy and give out condoms and other contraceptives..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110830met2.html

Evil ‘Transformers’ DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 08/29/2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Evil ‘Transformers’

Herman Tiu Laurel
No, it’s not the sci-fi action flick we are writing about. It’s about the real “Transformers” in our world — those giant, steel-hearted, mechanical monsters roaming the boardrooms of power companies that “transform” public utilities into humongous profit machines. It’s about power companies that transform the public’s need for electricity into an unimaginable nightmare for millions of Filipino consumers.

Once the Lopez Group, the Philippine Electric Corp. (Philec) and the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) are both seen in this light. One supplies actual power transformers and related equipment to the other at what many consider as massive transfer prices of up to 500 percent or more. Our source, who will only testify in public once Congress musters the courage to conduct an honest-to-goodness investigation, claims to have the goods on this.

For a time, as Meralco transitioned from the old guard to the new, sanguine hopes about the eventual dissolution of the tight embrace between the two said companies were raised. It was even claimed that power prices will be brought down since that kind of a set-up will end with the change in management.

It has been pointed out by industry watchers that these so-called “sweetheart deals” form a major component of Meralco’s capital base submission to the state regulatory body, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), upon which the past 12-percent Return-on-Rate Base (RoRB) and the current 15.8-percent Performance Based Regulation (PBR) rate setting schemes are computed. If the supplies and equipment — from transformers, electric poles, to project costs of installations such as substations or plants — are overpriced by exponential percentages, then so are our electricity rates.

The source of this news has, in fact, gone directly to the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of Philec which price power transformers for each mega volt-ampere (MVA), similar to horsepower in engines.
In the Taiwan OEM plant visited by our informant for the purpose of getting the real bottom price, for instance, a quote of P250,000/MVA was given — far less than the P600,000/MVA reported in the Philippines, even if the usual discounts of 30 and 15 percent given to buyers, including most Philippine electric cooperatives, were to be deducted.

Further, if a high-end Japanese brand is preferred, which the Taiwanese plant also officially produces, then a simple expedient of tacking on the Japanese brand’s steel plate for it to be priced higher is resorted to. Is this what Meralco does?

In claiming the need for a top-of-the-line variant, it uses the Japanese name plate to increase the quote as well as its capital base with the ERC — which the regulating agency unfortunately approves without as much as a whimper — to the tune of P1,600,000/MVA!

When the Lopez Group sold control of Meralco, there was indeed that opportunity to cut the monopolistic relationship between the two inextricably linked power firms, with hopes that rates will go down in spite of the already escalating bent of the onerous PBR. But nothing has changed. Filings made for the power distributor’s capital expenditures continue to be based on vastly overpriced claims; hence, its 80 to 90 percent yearly profit increases.

Fortunately, power consumers all over the country have begun to understand more comprehensively the massive swindle that is the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), or the post-Edsa II power privatization law that has spawned many “monsters:”

From the ERC that is believed to be captured by Meralco; to the state holding firm Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) that is petitioning for consumers to shoulder the Universal Charge that will pay for $18 billion (still!) in National Power Corp. (Napocor) debts, which were promised to have been paid with privatization but never were; to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) that wants to raise rates to pay for damages caused by typhoons “Ondoy,” “Basyang,” etc., leaving its multi-billion insurance untouched; to the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (Pemc) that wants to raise rates for “administrative modernization” (a euphemism for raising officers’ salaries); to its adjunct, the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (Wesm), which averages rates based on the highest (instead of the lowest) fluctuations, there are certainly more Epira monsters to discover — and decipher.

What puzzles is that Congress, which is into every sort of investigation imaginable, has not touched on the festering and oppressive electricity scams being perpetrated right before our very eyes. It seems the likes of Rep. Henedina Abad and Sen. Serge Osmeña, who head their respective chamber’s energy committees, are oblivious to appearing as stooges of these power giants.

Given this, will anyone else take the cudgels for the suffering Philippine economy, our industries, and our people? Or is everyone just too scared of the Philippines’ very own, steel-hearted, steel-fisted “Transformers”? The answer need not be more than meets the eye.

(My new e-mail: mentong2011@gmail.com. Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 5 to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Thursday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110829com5.html

China and Gloria EDITORIAL 08/29/2011

China and Gloria

Click to enlarge
The long held view that the United States had resented the expanded ties between China and the Philippines during the administration of former President Arroyo was challenged by recent leaked cables from the whistle-blower Web site Wikileaks.

Instead of condemnation, the US post in the country considered the warming up of relations in both trade and political spheres as a natural consequence of the expanding influence of China in the region and the thrust of the US government then against terrorism which was perceived as incompatible to the country’s goals.

The communication did not hide the fact about perceptions that most of the Chinese contracts with the government are tainted with corruption, but the overriding interest of the US was obviously how the dealings with China would impact on the traditional role of the Philippines as its closest ally in the region.

The encompassing message from the leaked cable was that China is using its new found economic strength to buy off influence in the region and that the botched National Broadband Network (NBN) project awarded to Chinese supplier ZTE was one of such efforts..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110829com1.html

Opaque government budget FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/29/2011

Opaque government budget

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
The rationale behind the scrapping of intelligence funds in many government departments, so claimed Budget Secretary Butch Abad, was that these were not involved in any intelligence gathering, which does sound logical.

But it then must be asked why Noynoy has increased his intelligence funds by P200 million, bringing a total budget outlay for 2012 to some P600 million in intelligence funds for him alone, since the Office of the President certainly is far from being engaged in intelligence gathering.

At the same time, the intel budget for the Nica (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency), which is an intelligence agency and presumably into intel gathering, was slashed. So was the military intelligence budget when the Armed Forces of the Philippines, at least through the Intelligence Service of the AFP or Isafp, is into intelligence gathering. What then is the justification of slashing the AFP intel budget, while increasing the Philippine National Police and related agencies’ intelligence budget?

Even more glaring is the fact that while Noynoy had his intel budget increased by P200 million, it was reported that the Office of the Vice President’s intel budget was completely scrapped. Why then, if the Office of the President needs an additional P200 million for Noynoy’s intelligence funds, is the Budget secretary scrapping the intel funds of the Office of the Vice President?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110829com2.html

DOTC Sec Mar Roxas backs MRT fare hikes, increasing penalties, PPPs

DOTC Sec Mar Roxas backs MRT fare hikes, increasing penalties, PPPs

Mar Roxas’ proposed budget slashed by 38-percent the government subsidy on MRT for 2012—from P6.9 billion ($162.7 million) to P4.29-billion ($101.15 million), despite reports of annual increases in passenger load.

MANILA – Transportation secretary Mar Roxas is earning the ire of Filipino workers and people, said the progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in a statement, as Roxas defended the privatization of the MRT and LRT and, according to KMU, also justified the hiring of strike-breakers in PAL (Philippine Air Lines).

Privatizing the railways and subsidizing the profits of private contractors, like what is happening now, has been blamed by various peoples’ organizations as the reason behind the looming fare hikes in MRT and LRT.

“We don’t think this is the best way to prepare for the next elections,” warned Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), to Mar Roxas who is perceived as gearing up for the next presidential elections.

Begrudging subsidies for mass transport

In the budget deliberations in Congress, Roxas said that if the budget would be raised to increase the government’s subsidy per train passenger, then they (the DOTC) would not run out of funds for subsidies and so they would not have to consider “burden-sharing,” or increasing the MRT and LRT fares.

Roxas and other DOTC officials at the budget hearing in Congress.(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
Roxas’ proposed budget slashed by 38-percent the government subsidy on MRT for 2012—from P6.9 billion ($162.7 million) to P4.29-billion ($101.15 million), despite reports of annual increases in passenger load. Asked by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael Mariano if the cut meant there would be fare hikes, Roxas replied that they will not be sourcing all the resulting budget shortfall on fare hikes alone.

Roxas asked the Congress to “realign” the country’s tax-based spending because, he said, reminding the lawmakers that it was they who had pointed it out, “only the Metro Manila train riders have been enjoying a train ride that’s P55-subsidized per rider, when the rest of the country who are not in Metro Manila and not riding these trains have also been paying taxes.”

Roxas said it is the taxpayers in other regions who are “losing” in the railways’ operations and not the government. Such imbalance in using public money was not invoked, however, for the rest of the DOTC’s proposed P26.5-billion ($625million) projects in 2012 to build or upgrade airports, ports and lighthouses. Many of which would facilitate the operations of foreign investments in its covered districts, said some lawmakers who asked Roxas to fast-track or improve the said projects.

Roxas emphasized in the budget deliberation and in media interviews the need for “burden-sharing” between the government and the commuters in financing the operations of MRT and LRT.... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/28/dotc-sec-mar-roxas-backs-mrt-fare-hikes-increasing-penalties-ppps/

Can America be trusted? C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 08/29/2011

Can America be trusted?

Jonathan De la Cruz
The question being asked as P-Noy prepares for his five-day state visit to China tomorrow is not so much the possible outcome of this trip. It is clear that despite the heated exchanges over the Spratlys including the misplaced and insensitive issuances spewed out by administration officials on the Luneta hostage tragedy, the Chinese will ever be the gracious hosts they have always been known to be. I am sure they will do all they can to give P-Noy and his huge entourage (is it true some 200 businessmen will accompany him on this trip?) all the courtesies and perks befitting a head of state. Thanks to their solid understanding of historical ties, the Chinese will shower P-Noy with loads of bacon in terms of investments, trade, aid and tourism packages as well as directed people-to-people exchanges.

But the test, the real question which will definitely hang over this visit, is whether P-Noy can summon the courage and the stamina to acknowledge that our country’s future will require balancing his decidedly pro-American tendencies with that of enhancing proper and responsible fraternal relations with China — our big neighbor and the world’s other emerging power. Which is precisely why in a previous column we noted that P-Noy and his advisers may be misreading the wave of the future by unduly hyping the Spratlys issue which is widely seen as a US induced “problem” while down playing if not totally ignoring the more immediate and, yes, solvable issues on hand such as those related to the Luneta fiasco. That is a No-No by any measure..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110829com4.html

De Castro, ex-subordinates not yet off the hook — solon By Angie M. Rosales 08/29/2011


De Castro, ex-subordinates not yet off the hook — solon

By Angie M. Rosales 08/29/2011

Former Vice President Noli de Castro and members of the board of Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), also known as the Pag-IBIG Fund, during his term are not yet off the hook regarding a P12-billion housing loan scam and could also be charged over the multibillion-peso anomaly as they were the ones who approved the loans that defrauded the government.

Sen. Sergio Osmena III said the possibility of the former Vice President and Pag-IBIG officials being indicted along with Globe Asiatique Realty and Holdings Corp. executives is not remote considering the role they played in approving the release of the loans made by alleged fictitious borrowers.

Last Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DoJ) recommended the filing of syndicated estafa charges against officials of Globe Asiatique led by Delfin Lee, its president and chief operating officer, and four others in connection with loans granted to it by HDMF through “special buyers” and “ghost borrowers.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110829hed1.html

‘Mina’ death toll rises to 8; over 100K people affected 08/29/2011

‘Mina’ death toll rises to 8; over 100K people affected

Super typhoon “Mina” killed at least eight persons and left flattened bridges and blocked roads in its wake as it moved away from the Philippines and churned toward Taiwan, officials yesterday said.

The toll of dead and missing is likely to rise as officials assess the full impact of the storm, the strongest to hit the country this year, Emilia Tadeo of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) damage report section said.

“After the rains have subsided, that is only when we find the additional casualties and damage, when the local responders submit them to us,” Tadeo told Agence France Presse.

Five were killed by landslides, including two children, buried by an avalanche of rubbish at a tip in the northern mountain city of Baguio, the OCD said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110829hed3.html

MILF to push Bangsamoro bid despite deadlock By Mario J. Mallari 08/29/2011

MILF to push Bangsamoro bid despite deadlock

By Mario J. Mallari 08/29/2011
Despite the “deadlock” in the peace negotiation with the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would still push with its proposed establishment of Bangsamoro substate to address the decades-long Mindanao conflict.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that the government’s counter proposal was way behind the MILF expectations, citing previous agreements by the peace panels, including the “reframing” of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) which was junked as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008.

The MILF negotiator stressed that he does not know if the government could reconsider its proposal “but the MILF would push through with our proposal.”

Iqbal, however, admitted being “frustrated” by the GRP’s counter proposal which meant that the long years of negotiations went back to scratch..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110829nat1.html

House panel approves P1.816-T budget for 2012 By Gerry Baldo 08/29/2011

House panel approves P1.816-T budget for 2012

By Gerry Baldo 08/29/2011
The House committee on appropriations has approved the P1.816-trillion proposed national budget next year and is expected to deliberate on the measure in plenary on Sept. 6.

According to Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, chairman of the panel, the House is right on track in the budget deliberations even the 2012 budget would be ready for signing by the President before the year ends.

“We passed the committee report last Friday. We will sponsor the general appropriations bill in the plenary on Sept. 6,” Abaya said yesterday.

Abaya added the proposed budget, which was approved by his committee, was no different from what Malacañang had proposed and that it included the controversial P39.4 billion allotment for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s conditional cash transfer..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110829nat2.html

DepEd announces NCAE moved to Sept. 28 By Jason Faustino 08/29/2011

DepEd announces NCAE moved to Sept. 28

By Jason Faustino 08/29/2011

The Department of Education (DepEd) announced over the weekend it had moved the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE) from August 31 to September 28.

Changes will also be made as Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the NCAE will now be administered for third-year high school students both in public and private secondary schools.

“We deem it better to administer the NCAE to third year high school students to give them sufficient time for comprehensive career guidance before they enter the tertiary level,” Luistro said.

Also expected to take the NCAE are fourth year high school students applying for scholarship programs of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).Under DepEd Order No. 28, fourth-year students who will take the NCAE for Ched and Tesda scholarship should belong to the top 10 percent of each secondary high school regardless of school size..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110829met2.html

Solons want blood donors strictly monitored By Gerry Baldo 08/29/2011

Solons want blood donors strictly monitored

By Gerry Baldo 08/29/2011

Members of the House of Representatives yesterday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to strictly monitor its blood donation program in the light of reports that some donations may have been tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS).

Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna stressed the DoH must strictly monitor blood donation in the country so as not to jeopardize the lives of so many people and stop the spread of the virus.

“We have to closely look at blood donation scheme in the country because the possibility of serious HIV spread is always there, especially if the system is left unchecked,” Tugna said.

Tugna also stressed the need for the other concerned government and private agencies to intensify the information drive on the fight against the spread of HIV-AIDS..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110829met3.html

Grand Old Lady of Katipunan’s remains to be transferred to her birth place By Arlie O. Calalo 08/29/2011

Grand Old Lady of Katipunan’s remains to be transferred to her birth place

By Arlie O. Calalo 08/29/2011
Exhumation of the remains of the Grand Old Lady of the Katipunan, Melchora Aquino, from Himlayang Pilipino for transfer to the Tandang Sora Shrine now has a good chance of gaining congressional approval after the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) backed Quezon City’s claims to have the remains transferred to the heroine’s birth place on Banlat Road in Tandang Sora.

The non-inclusion of Himlayang Pilipino in the list of NHCP’s national historical shrines and the failure of the memorial park’s administration to provide the city government with valid documents supporting claims that Tandang Sora should remain buried there, have bolstered QC’s interest to pursue the transfer of the heroine’s remains which has long been requested by her family.

Tandang Sora’s remains were transferred to Himlayang Pilipino in 1970.

“QC is not giving up its claims to exhume Tandang Sora’s remains. Nothing will be more timely and fitting than to have her rightfully buried in her original birthplace during the commemoration of her bicentennial year on Jan. 6, 2012,” said Mayor Herbert Bautista during a meeting with members of the QC Task Force Tandang Sora..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110829met4.html

A taste of Philippine justice EDITORIAL 08/28/2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A taste of Philippine justice

Click to enlarge
Libel cases are usual fares for newspapers for solely doing its bare function of writing stories as they are. The daily grind is to gather stories up to deadline hour and then write these faithfully the way an event happened or that of the story related to the reporter.
The Tribune is a magnet for libel cases since it never wavered on printing stories as they are, no embellishment, no fear, no favor.
One of the more influential names in the country recently became the subject of a story printed in The Tribune merely quoting the content of government documents recommending his arrest and the complaint of the individual that sought a legal remedy on him that law enforcers were not acting to implement an order for his detention.
The result was one libel case filed in multiple courts that was clearly intended to harass the newspaper’s editors. Of the eight or so different court venues for the libel case about five were dismissed owing to grounds having to do with no-jurisdiction as well as multiplicity of suits, which would be no different from multiple forum shopping..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110828com1.html

A slap on their faces FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/28/2011

A slap on their faces

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
A kind of a message seems to have been sent by the Court of Appeals (CA) to the Senate, as well as to the House of Representatives when it granted the habeas corpus plea of petitioner, Rollie del Rosario, husband of then detained former LTA Inc. bookkeeper, Rowena del Rosario, a day after the Senate freed her from detention.

The CA could have easily dropped the habeas plea, since the detention issue was already moot, but the court didn’t. Instead, the court granted the habeas plea, which gives the impression that this grant was a message for any future abusive action on the Senate’s power to immediately order the arrest and detention of any invited guest as resource person, or “witness” merely because that resource person fails to give the answers senators want to hear, which answer senators wanted would prove their “case” against whoever they accuse of whatever crime..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110828com2.html

Rhino bloodbath surges on S. Africa’s private reserves FEATURE 08/28/2011

Rhino bloodbath surges on S. Africa’s private reserves


TOUWS RIVER — The giant rhino slumps to the ground with haunting cries as it fights for its life, a bloodied, fleshy pulp in the place where poachers sawed off its horn.

The critically injured male is one of the latest victims in South Africa’s rhino bloodbath, which is surging on privately owned reserves as criminal syndicates target easier prey for the Asian black market.

“I’m at war,” exhausted owner Searl Derman told AFP before heading out again with a veterinarian to try to treat the highly stressed animal.

It’s an expensive battle: Derman has racked up bills for tracking helicopters, vets and 24-hour anti-poaching measures, but is competing with hunters who are chasing horns that fetch half-a-million dollars a kilo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110828com3.html

Another big-time BoC scam; billions lost N.O . N.O.N.S.E.N.S.E Jacinto 08/28/2011

Another big-time BoC scam; billions lost

N.O . N.O.N.S.E.N.S.E
More than 2,000 containers disappeared on its way to the Port of Batangas, with government losing billions in forgone revenues, we had written earlier. But there is again talk that another 1,470 containers have again been diverted from MICP to fake warehouses with government losing several more billions.

How can this happen right under the very noses of the Commissioner of Customs and his officials? How could they release these 1,470 container vans filled with resins with an estimated value per container of P3 million without paying a single centavo as tax and duty to the government? It is mind boggling how Customs officials can conspire to perpetrate this very big scam.

The scam allgedly occurred when 1,470 container vans loaded with resins were transferred to the Port of Manila from MICP but were diverted by the consignee in connivance with Customs officials to fake and fictitious bonded warehouses instead of arriving at the port of destination which is the Port of Manila. The 1,470 containers loaded with valuable and highly dutiable goods were allegedly all consigned to only one company, Xurich Corp., which must be filthy rich to import an estimated P5 billion worth of resins. Can you believe that this Xurich Corp. is allegedly a fake one, and yet the BoC headed by Angelito Alvarez was able to accredit the said corporation as an Industry-Specific Bonded Warehouse (ICBW) despite the absence of a mayor’s and business permit being submitted to the BoC. Talk is that the address presented to the BoC which is Unit 206 Joncor Bldg. at 1362 A. Mabini St. Ermita, Manila, turned out to be fictitious as the existing occupant of the said address is a travel agency and not a bonded warehouse, which was what Xurich claimed. It’s non-existence at Joncor building was certified by the building administrator stating that no Xurich Corp. ever occupied any room in the building in the last 15 years. Who could be behind this Xurich as its capitalist?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110828com5.html

‘WOW Philippines’ JUST remembering VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 08/28/2011

‘WOW Philippines’ JUST remembering

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
Just asking
So brief but many intriguing possibilities it said. So plain but pleasant thoughts it evoked. So plain but big wonders it caused. This was the combined precious and loaded message that “Wow Philippines!” very well delivered and so long remembered. Foreign tourist came. Foreign income increased. And everybody was happy: The tourists themselves. The Tourist Agencies and Organizations. The Tourist Industry in general. The Tourist guides and many others, included.

Just asking

A new administration came. A new tourism leadership emerged. A new tourism come-on was invented. The former proverb “Wow Philippines!” was nonchalantly shelved. A supposedly new and better tourism slogan was invented: “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” — or something the like. Certain perplexing questions came to fore: Was the invention in effect inspired by foreign consultants? Did the invention simply copy some tourism figures from this or that country? Is it true that so much expenses were incurred from the making to the launching of the invention?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110828com6.html

Pleasure of Noy, displeasure of the people TABLETS OF STONE Larry Faraon, OP 08/28/2011

Pleasure of Noy, displeasure of the people

Larry Faraon, OP
The most recent victim of the rumored internal great divide in Malacañang is Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) official Nelson Laluces. Rumor mills are rife over a Laluces fiasco involving the approval of the sale and transfer of franchise of BLTB Co. (a bus company) to Del Monte Bus Co. owned by Narciso Morales, who was said to be a distant relative of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. Recently, from his hot seat, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim also bailed out and tendered his resignation over rumors of under-performance, since it has been a year now and it seems that he is still groping in the dark over his post.

He started off with the infamous tourism campaign Pilipinas Kay Ganda. And in one presidential spur of the fast tongue P-Noy lashed out on him as one of those secretaries who regularly brings him “headaches.”

A little far back, a bejeweled “Cory original,” former Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose Ping de Jesus resigned over the rumored telecommunications row between Globe and Smart and amid the DoTC’s deliberations on whether to raise the fares of the Light and Metro Rail Transit (LRT/MRT) systems. Retired General Ernesto Diokno of the Bureau of Corrections, also a certified Cory general came next over a rumored coddling of convicted murderer, former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110828com7.html

Wikileaks: Power dynasties at work in Meralco battle 08/28/2011


Wikileaks: Power dynasties at work in Meralco battle

The United States subscribed to the view that dynastic families that included the Arroyos, the Aboitizes and the Lopezes, waging a protracted war against each other was behind the bitter board room struggle between the Lopez family and the state pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for control of dominant electricity distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) toward the end of the previous administration of President Gloria Arroyo, leaked cables from the US Embassy showed.

The cable which was among some 3,071 communications of the US diplomatic post in Manila released the other day by whistle-blower site Wikileaks said “the conflict, which some analysts see as a feud between the Arroyo and Lopez families, has eroded the appearance of stability that Philippine economic managers want to project, and may give foreign investors qualms about the Philippine power sector.”

The US Embassy viewed the struggle for control of Meralco as highlighting the role of prominent families in business and government and creates uncertainty that could damage efforts to attract investors.

“Lack of additional investment into the power sector will almost certainly leave Filipino consumers more vulnerable to power disruptions,” it noted..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110828hed1.html

RP gov’t hesitates on recognizing Libyan rebels 08/28/2011

RP gov’t hesitates on recognizing Libyan rebels

Malacañang yesterday said it was hesitant about recognizing Libya’s rebels, with the welfare of some 1,600 Filipino workers in the north African country still its foremost concern.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government was monitoring the situation in Libya as the regime of longtime leader Moammar Kadhafi collapses in the wake of a series of rebel victories.

“What is important for us in the Philippines is the protection of our own Filipino workers. That is our primary consideration now (over) whether or not to recognize Libya’s (National Transitional Council, or NTC),” he told reporters.

On Wednesday, the Libyan Embassy in the Philippines defected to the rebels’ side, raising the red, black and green flag of the anti-Kadhafi forces..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110828hed4.html

Private employee working on Aug. 29, 30 will receive 200% pay — DoLE 08/28/2011

Private employee working on Aug. 29, 30 will receive 200% pay — DoLE

The Department of Labor an Employment (DoLE) yesterday said that private workers who will report for work on Aug. 29 and 30, which was declared as non-working holidays are entitled to 200 percent pay.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said August 29 is a regular holiday by virtue of Proclamation No. 84 that President Aquino issued on Dec. 20, 2010, while August 30 is also regular holiday by virtue of Proclamation No. 234 in celebration of the Eid’l Fitr.

“The purpose of the celebration of National Heroes Day is to accord fullest honors to the greatness, first of all, of our heroes who offered their sweat, blood, and lives so we may attain our freedoms, and second, to the resiliency of ordinary Filipinos who continue to love their country and endeavor to live honorable lives that honor our heroes and our countrymen,” the labor chief said.

“On the other hand, we share our brothers and sisters, the Muslim Filipinos, in their celebration of Eid’l Fitr, or the Feast of Ramadhan, which falls on August 30,” Baldoz said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110828nat2.html

Climate change mitigation will benefit farmers, regenerate environment, says Angara By Charlie V. Manalo 08/28/2011

Climate change mitigation will benefit farmers, regenerate environment, says Angara

By Charlie V. Manalo 08/28/2011
The government, in cooperation with the global community, must come up with a long-term blueprint for programs that would mitigate the impact of climate change on man and the environment, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said yesterday.

“Disasters like floods, droughts, forest fires and the increase in tropical cyclone have caused too much lives and material losses amounting to billions of pesos,” Angara said, adding in pursuing carbon finance in the forestry sector, the role of government cannot be underestimated.

Referring to a document by the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD), Angara strongly endorsed that the Philippines seriously consider mitigating climate change through the so-called “carbon sequestration” which refers to the capture and storage of carbon.

Plants, especially trees or forests, are effective natural means (by photosynthesis) of converting carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using sunlight..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110828met2.html

‘Koko’ prods Comelec lawyer to follow example of Zubiri By Angie M. Rosales

‘Koko’ prods Comelec lawyer to follow example of Zubiri

By Angie M. Rosales 08/28/2011

“Do a Zubiri!”

This was the call made by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday to a lawyer at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who was appointed as law department chief despite his being dragged in the P700-million ballot secrecy folder scam last year.

Pimentel urged lawyer Allen Francis Abaya to turn down the appointment and spare the poll body from further condemnation even as he bared plans of filing a resolution in the upper chamber to probe his reported “re-appointment” after having been suspended for six months.

Abaya, along with six other Comelec officials, was meted the suspension for approving the alleged highly overpriced ballot folders that were supposed to be used during the May 10, 2010 presidential elections.

“As a victim of electoral fraud myself, I am extremely wary of election officials whose record has been tainted in any way by involvement in election irregularities,” the senator said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110828met1.html

No lifting of HK black ban EDITORIAL 08/27/2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

No lifting of HK black ban

Click to enlarge
Noynoy refuses to apologize to the Hong Kong hostage victims and relatives of the slain tourists, because he insists that the “Manila massacre” that occurred on Aug. 23, 2010 was the work of one deranged individual, and that the state, not being responsible for the slaughter, has no need to apologize.

At the same time, however, Noynoy, through his spokesman, said he wants Hong Kong’s travel blacklist on the Philippines lifted, as he called this unfair, especially since his administration has already made improvements in securing tourists.

Evidently, to this day, Noynoy and his boys fail to realize just what added damage they have inflicted on the country’s tourism through that botched hostage rescue operation, made even more damaging with his rejection of an apology to the victims and their relatives, as Noynoy refuses to accept responsibility and accountability for the Manila massacre.

But he forgets that days or weeks after the botched rescue operations, with public and Hong Kong pressure mounting, Noynoy did say, and on record, that he was responsible for the botched rescue. He did say something to the effect that “at the end of the day,” he was responsible for it. And that is on record.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110827com1.html

Too good to be true FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/27/2011

Too good to be true

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Something just doesn’t smell right in what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leaders are saying with regard to the rebel group’s placid rejection of the Noynoy government peace panel proposal, which cancelled out any move to create a substate that the MILF is demanding from Noynoy.

The group even went to the extent of saying that there is hope as long as the peace talks continue, as well as claiming that the MILF’s rejection of the government’s expanded autonomy offer won’t result in the same way the MILF reacted violently to the rejection of the Supreme Court of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD), where the group of Ameril Umbra Kato launched several bloody attacks in areas populated by both Moros and Christians.

A report said that despite the MILF’s rejection of the government proposal in the peace negotiation, the MILF leadership does not see a repeat of the 2008 massive atrocities in Central Mindanao which killed hundreds of civilians triggered by the SC’s declaration of the MoA-AD as unconstitutional.

MILF spokesman Von Al Haq stressed the MILF leadership has not monitored any disgruntled group within the organization except for the group of renegade commander Ameril Umbra Kato, who was declared “bughaat” or rebel by the MILF Central Committee..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110827com2.html

India’s Anna Hazare: ‘Gandhi Lite?’ focus 08/27/2011

India’s Anna Hazare: ‘Gandhi Lite?’


NEW DELHI — He may dress, talk and fast like his hero Mahatma Gandhi, but critics say anti-graft activist Anna Hazare has only managed to co-opt the style, not the substance, of India’s independence icon.

The figure of Gandhi looms large — and literally — over Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, with a giant photograph of the apostle of non-violence providing the backdrop to the 74-year-old’s public hunger strike.

Hazare’s speeches are peppered with Gandhian references to a “second freedom struggle” and his own diminutive, bespectacled appearance, and preference for simple white clothing, all serve to reinforce the link in the public mind.

If the effort to embrace Gandhi’s legacy is sincere, it is also conscious and calculated, and observers say it has paid dividends by tapping into a national yearning for an inspirational leader..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110827com3.html

17-year old girl accuses priest of rape

-17-year old girl accuses priest of rape

“I was so afraid and confused. He is a priest; I attended mass and received communion from him. After that first time I saw that he was not at all what he showed the world to be,” she said.

She believed him to a be a man of God, but he turned out to be the one who would abuse and torment her.
Seventeen-year old “Leah” is currently under the protection and custody of women’s group Gabriela as she and her family begin their fight for justice against what has been done to her by a priest in Tubay, Butuan City.

The 17-year old girl is accusing 47-year old priest Fr. Raul Cabonce of repeatedly sexually abusing and raping her while she was under his care in his parochial residence in Butuan. Leah was one of Cabonce’s two wards. She began staying in the priest’s official residence after he made an offer to Leah and her family that he would help send her to school. A mutual acquaintance and Leah’s neighbor facilitated Leah’s transfer to the priest’s parish.

In a detailed affidavit, Lead described in full and incriminating detail how the priest began to show interest in her and how the interest escalated to sexual abuse and rape. According to Leah. Cabonce first abused her on September 2010.

Seventeen-year old “Leah” wants her abuser and rapistpunished so “He won’t do what he did to me to other children, other women.” (Photo by Ina Alleco Silverio / Bulatlat.com)
“I was cooking dinner when he walked up close to me and began touching me. I was shocked and very alarmed when he began touching my breasts and waist,” she said.
It was not the first time that Leah saw the priest conducting himself in such a way.

“I had previously seen him touching Rachel (not her real name); and when seated he would pull Rachel to his lap and touch her just about everywhere. I felt very uncomfortable and ill whenever I saw him do that to her, but I was afraid to say anything.”

When she brought it up with Rachel, the 20-year old told her that “it didn’t matter.” She told Leah that she and her family were very indebted to the priest for all the help he had given them since Rachel was a fifth grade student.

Leah said she first believed that what Cabonce did to her did not really mean anything and so she resolved to put it out of her mind. Her hopes that it would not be repeated were immediately put to an end by February 27, 2011 when Cabonce made further advances.

On that date, Cabonce made Leah give him a massage and ,in the process, forced her to have oral sex. The minor was almost paralyzed with fear especially after the priest allegedly threatened to kill her and her family if she said anything to anyone about what happened. The priest reportedly owns three guns — two of them short arms, and Leah has seen all of them.

“I was so afraid and confused. He is a priest; I attended mass and received communion from him. After that first time I saw that he was not at all what he showed the world to be,” she said.

Leah also found out that the priest has a girlfriend, supposedly an older girl who attended college also in Butuan. She often saw the girl in the convent and she stayed with the priest in the parish house.

“There was also a time when I was able to read the sent box of her cellphone and I saw also Fr. Cabonce’s messages to her. It was obvious from the messages that they have a relationship,”she said.

Leah and Rachel by then had practically ceased to have contact with the outside world. Whenever Cabonce was in the parish, he ordered them to stay indoors and not communicate with anyone, not even through their cellphones..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/26/seventeen-year-old-girl-accuses-priest-of-rape/

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