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Privileged justice EDITORIAL 02/07/2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Privileged justice

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The camp of Sen. Ping Lacson is gaining the reputation of being more and more audacious by the day with his lawyer threatening to file criminal charges against authorities who will serve the arrest warrant against the fugitive legislator.

Lacson’s lawyer Alex Poblador has insisted that the Court of Appeals (CA) decision acquitting Lacson of the double-murder case involving publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito had the concomitant effect of nullifying the standing arrest warrant on Lacson.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, said the arrest warrant stands since the Department of Justice (DoJ) has yet to receive the CA decision.

The Palace this time around appears telegraphing a message to De Lima, saying that the government will promptly withdraw the arrest warrant upon the CA’s issuance of an official order..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com1.html

Useless peace talks FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 02/07/2011

Useless peace talks

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Government peace talks with both the communists and the Muslim insurgents aren’t going anywhere, that’s for sure.

The commies may say that they want peace talks, but usually, they want that because within a certain period, their chieftains abroad (whose orders are not being followed anyway by the local commie chiefs) and some local chiefs are given the usual safe conduct passes that are advantageous to them. Give it a little more time and these peace talks with the commies will collapse again because there won’t likely be a middle ground. Besides, the commies are enjoying the best of both worlds today. They are into armed struggle as well as parliamentary struggle, albeit through the congressional back door, known as the party-list system.

In the case of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its peace talks with the Philippine government, these too, won’t amount to anything — not even to the point of Noynoy giving them full rein over the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), because if Noynoy and his peace panel do this, it is certain to produce yet another foe, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), with whom the Philippine government had already inked a peace pact, which is still being breached by the government — the reason it can’t get anywhere with the Organization of Islamic Council (OIC).

It will be recalled that when the Ramos government forged a peace pact with the MNLF, a breakaway group surfaced, which became known as the MILF. The MILF cut off from the MNLF because it said that autonomy went against the independent Islamic state grain..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com2.html

Polio returns to cripple Angola and its neighbors FEATURE 02/07/2011

Polio returns to cripple Angola and its neighbors


LUANDA — Linda Afonso’s right leg is stiff and atrophied but she does not know the name of the disease that made it that way.

The 13-year-old lives in Cacuaco, a sprawling slum in the northern suburbs of the Angolan capital, Luanda. When she was a small child, her leg became partially paralyzed.

“My parents took me to the hospital, but they couldn’t do anything,” she said.

Afonso doesn’t know the name of her disease because polio, the acute viral infection that can cause irreversible paralysis or death, was eradicated in Angola in 2002, shortly after she caught it.

Despite Angola’s crumbling health infrastructure and poor sanitation in the slums of Luanda — where thousands of refugees fled during the country’s 27-year civil war — health workers managed to eliminate new polio infections from 2002 to 2005..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com3.html

Total log ban C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 02/07/2011

Total log ban

Jonathan De la Cruz
It is well that P-Noy has imposed a nationwide total log ban. Yes, Sir. You got it right. Total, not partial, and countrywide not just patches of forested areas, here and there. Under Executive Order 23 issued last Feb. 1, a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests of the entire country was declared and will stay until and unless lifted by no less than the President himself. The order also prohibits the DENR from issuing and renewing tree cutting permits in all natural and residual forests, except for clearing of right-of-way by the DPWH, site preparation for tree plantations and silvicultural treatment. Also, the DENR was tasked to review all existing forest management agreements or contracts and cancel all those found violating forest laws. To give teeth and ardor to this undertaking which in the past has been followed more in breach than anything else, the order created an anti-illegal logging task force to go after the violators. About the only exception to the ban, if we call it such, is “tree cutting for cultural practices” whatever that means.

With this new order there is no more reason for the DENR and all other agencies that in one way or the other have been tasked to assist in the effort including local government units (LGUs) to play blind, deaf and dumb to the continuing and increasingly more rapacious raping of our remaining forest cover.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com4.html

The art of the perfect rubout DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 02/07/2011

 The art of the perfect rubout

Herman Tiu Laurel
The testimony of one police officer pinning down the principal accused of one of the primary victims’ families (the Dacers) has been debunked by a second round of judicial determination by the Court of Appeals’ Sixth Division — a body that some lawyers say has a very checkered reputation.

That division’s judgment was based on its claimed “contradictions” in police officer Cezar Mancao’s testimony, despite the prosecution’s assertion that his initial statements were committed under duress while the final ones were freely and, therefore, truthfully executed. After considering from a layman’s point of view the arguments of both sides, I believe that the court was within bounds to have made that judgment.

Reconsideration and elevation to higher courts by the prosecution will certainly be in the offing; but it’s beginning to look like this murder mystery may just end as a cold case. After all, the defense will simply raise the issue of corpus delicti, which, in the now perfected art of the rubout, will probably never be produced at all.

Some fear that if Lacson is acquitted, the focus of attention will shift to President Joseph Estrada. For a while, I had this concern, too, knowing the many elements that have consistently and indefatigably subjected the former President to character assassination. This is especially true in light of the many US operatives who haven’t forgotten the slight to their country’s hegemony by Estrada’s campaign against US military bases, as well as his rejection of former President Clinton’s demand for a stop to his government’s determined moves against MILF and Abu Sayyaf operations in Mindanao.

For sure, the public mind is one that’s never comfortable with any vacuum. Once left with a Lacson acquittal, it will seek other personages to fill that void. But I have a No. 1 suspect. Not only is he well-connected to police and military assets, but a key piece of information that no one else wants to touch, the revelation of Fr. Baldostamon as told through Bishop Teodoro Bacani’s columns years ago, still rings loud.

Admittedly, the last remaining element that could be used against President Estrada in the Dacer-Corbito double-murder is Michael Ray Aquino. A theory being bruited about says that some forces may be dangling before Michael Ray a possible release from his iron-clad US prison cell for a return to the very slack justice system in the Philippines — provided that he points to Estrada as having given the direct orders.

This is a theory that Lacson himself insinuated in his speeches at the Senate to divert attention from himself at the height of the Dacers’ legal offensives. Lacson’s problem is that few, if any, believe him. To make matters worse, he (of the “Be Not Afraid” fame) eventually absconded, took flight, and gave the impression that he is indeed guilty.

Lacson’s few remaining supporters argue that the senator faced real mortal threat if he chose not go underground. For a while there, Lacson’s fear seemed justified, especially when the specter of his sworn enemies, Gloria and Mike Arroyo (who reportedly spent huge sums to build the case against him), still loomed large.

But what else can the public make today of his continued refusal to submit to the law when there now sits a more Lacson-friendly government? And this, despite repeated assurances from his colleagues, such as Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, of his protection under the Senate’s ambit.

Some say that Lacson was just buying time to “settle matters” with the courts. If this is to be believed, then he was clearly successful. But it will take a whole lot more to erase that impression of guilt, if it can be done at all.

Obviously, I am not ready to swallow that latest court decision. I prefer to keep the public wary of the potential of rogue cops who have perfected the art of the rubout and of other rogue police networks continuing to make their pile, exacting revenge, or creating politically-turbulent situations.

The recent murder-cremation of the car dealers is an example. After seeing the illogical pieces of the puzzle — from an inexplicable motive to the apparent burning of vehicles to remove evidence while leaving behind a trail of IDs and the quick link to an identifiable suspect — don’t these all smack of a rogue operation that’s intended to distract and destabilize for a multitude of reasons?

I also prefer to keep the public wary of hoodlums in robes as we’ve had enough of them in the past year alone. All these wouldn’t have been as evident if Lacson never took flight; now we are better informed.

The Michael Ray Aquino threat I have brought up may just be a phantasmagoric fear. After all, it would be his word against the others. Further, admitting to be the most guilty is neither going to be likely nor necessary for him, as dentures can be replicated. So far, it still seems to be a “perfect crime” as there is no corpus delicti. With acid being the preferred “eraser,” the blank space can be easily sketched upon by rogue cops and courts.

Meanwhile, let’s go to the vital issue of the day: Mang Naro Lualhati and lawyer Mel “Batas” Maurico are presenting their opposition to the P92-billion Performance Based Rate (PBR) pricing scheme of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) later at 2 p.m. We are mobilizing to present as many consumers at the Pacific Center Bldg., San Miguel Ave., Pasig City in support of their petition — this as Meralco sends lawyers to prop up the ERC commissioners. Please join us. Text me at 0917-8658664 on how to join.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; TNT with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8, about “ERC, Meralco and Napocor power rip-offs” with Mang Naro Lualhati, lawyer “Batas” Mauricio, and Butch Junia; visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com5.html

Games of the generals SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 02/07/2011

Games of the generals

Dinah S. Ventura
The board game of our childhood is now online, and for those who remember, the object of the game is to capture the flag. It’s like a chess game where you also try to outwit your opponent. There are two players and a sort of referee in the middle, who checks if the move made by one side benefited him or the other.

Today, the term “games of the generals” has taken on new meaning.

On one hand, there are high-ranking officers who allegedly used all their wits to gain the “flag” (wealth), and on the other, there are the Filipino people. In between, the Senate blue ribbon committee checks to see if the moves purportedly made by the generals benefited only themselves and not the other, which should have been the case.

Games of the generals now also mean, to ordinary folks, the nasty shenanigans that are all coming out in the open, like a big vat of rotten worms.

And what a great big vat it is turning out to be..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com7.html

Of liars and honest men HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 02/07/2011

Of liars and honest men

Aldrin Cardon
Maybe it was during his stint as a soldier in the Spanish Navy infantry when Miguel de Cervantes authored one of the most famous lines ever written that deals with honesty.

I wonder what he saw in soldiery that made him quip “honesty is the best policy,” but his words would soon become as famous as lines from the Bible in adorning factory walls or as emblazoned in shirts, and chest pins, or as simple reminders given to cash register crews, or the lowly privates who go to wars.

But honesty is a word that did not only break hearts, but many a reputation.

We’ve come to a point when the reputation of government and the military is once again on the line, as our generals come under the microscope of public opinion, if not hate and persecution..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110207com6.html

UN to help in probe of AFP funds mess By Michaela P. del Callar 02/07/2011


UN to help in probe of AFP funds mess

By Michaela P. del Callar 02/07/2011

The United Nations (UN) has offered to provide information to the Philippine Senate on the allegedly missing multimillion-dollar funds intended for Filipino peacekeepers.

Although it pointed out that the ongoing probe is internal to the Philippine government, the UN said it will give assistance to the ongoing inquiry by providing details on its transactions with the Armed Forces of the Philippines once requested by the Senate.

“If the Philippines inquiry needs information from the United Nations, we will be willing to consider that request at that time. We’ll help as needed,” Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq told a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York Thursday (Friday in Manila).

Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza claimed that payments and reimbursement for the participation of Filipino troops in peacekeeping missions abroad from the UN were deposited to a wrong account in Iloilo before reaching the official military bank account..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110207hed1.html

‘Chiz’ to Garcia: Why not be a whistle-blower? 02/07/2011 By Angie M. Rosales

‘Chiz’ to Garcia: Why not be a whistle-blower?

By Angie M. Rosales
Beleaguered former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia should consider becoming a whistle-blower himself against the supposed ring leaders of the massive corruption that was unravelled in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero urged Garcia to seriously reconsider his decision to enter to a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors and entertain disclosing the mastermind of the corrupt practices in the military.

“I hope he would take time and contemplate on this, in this (plunder) case (against him), he’s the only one sent to detention and even slapped with charges. Others who benefited from the raid of government coffers are still out there, moving freely and enjoying their loot,” Escudero said.

“He should start entertaining the thought of, instead of being painted as the villain, turn himself as the protagonist, join the ranks of whistle-blowers are brave enough to disclose the irregularities in the system,” Escudero added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110207hed2.html

MILF infighting worries RP before talks 02/07/2011

MILF infighting worries RP before talks

The chief of the govern-ment peace panel yesterday said he was “seriously concerned” after a feared rebel commander broke from the main Islamic separatist group ahead of peace talks.

Ameril Umbra Kato’s split from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could compromise talks between the government and the rebels, warned chief negotiator Marvic Leonen, casting a pall over hopes for an end to one of the world’s longest-running insurgencies.

“The government views the reported resignation of a known commander of the MILF with serious concern and looks forward to a clarification from the MILF (peace) panel,” Leonen said in a statement.

Leonen, who is due to meet his MILF counterparts on Wednesday to reopen the stalled talks, said the government wanted a settlement with the 12,000-strong MILF “at the soonest possible time.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110207hed3.html

More Pinoys to leave Egypt By Michaela P. del Callar 02/07/2011

More Pinoys to leave Egypt

By Michaela P. del Callar 02/07/2011

Aside from the 26 Filipinos who arrived in the country yesterday, 20 more Filipinos will be flown out of Egypt this week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The second batch of 20 Filipinos who will be repatriated to Manila in the light of ongoing tensions in Egypt will depart Cairo on Tuesday, it added.

The DFA said they will arrive in the Philippines on Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the figure may increase or decrease as the embassy is in the process of finalizing the number of those availing repatriation.

The first batch of 26 Filipinos, including 10 children, who availed themselves of voluntary repatriation from Egypt through the DFA’s Crisis Management Committee, planed in yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110207hed4.html

Gringo: DoJ should seek court ruling on arrest order 02/07/2011 By Angie M. Rosales

Gringo: DoJ should seek court ruling on arrest order

By Angie M. Rosales
Fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s mistah in the upper chamber, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, yesterday came to his defense, urging Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to bring the issue on the effectivity of the arrest warrant on Lacson to court.

This stems from De Lima’s pro-nouncements that Lacson, whose double murder charges were or-dered dismissed last week by the Court of Appeals (CA), is still the subject of a manhunt.

De Lima claimed her agency is yet to receive a formal copy of the CA Special Sixth Division’s decision and that technically the arrest warrant issued by a trial court against Lacson stands.

Honasan, in a radio interview, said Lacson’s counter-statements made over the weekend against De Lima raised several issues for consideration.

“Based on the pronouncements of his lawyers, citing the CA ruling, it’s already executory and therefore the senator can now come out. But this is different from the opinion made by the DoJ chief,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110207hed5.html

EcoWaste backs Senate bid to look into harmful ingredients in soaps 02/07/2011

EcoWaste backs Senate bid to look into harmful ingredients in soaps

A proposal by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for a Senate inquiry into antimicrobial chemical ingredients used in soaps and a wide range of consumer products has won the backing of a non-governmental toxic watchdog.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting consumer awareness and vigilance against toxic chemicals, threw its support behind Senate Resolution 327 that Santiago introduced recently.

In calling for “an inquiry in aid of legislation,” Santiago cited “recent scientific findings (indicating) that the antimicrobial compounds triclosan and triclocarban are hazardous to health and the environment.”

“We ask our senators to act on Senator Santiago’s proposal in light of new evidence showing that the rampant use of pesticides and biocides such as triclosan in consumer products leads to adverse health and environmental problems,” said Roy Alvarez, president of EcoWaste Coalition..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110207nat2.html

Key suspect in Ortega slay surrenders 02/07/2011

Key suspect in Ortega slay surrenders

The “missing link” in the killing of Palawan broadcast journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega is now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), police yesterday said.

According to Quezon Police Provincial director Senior Supt. Erickson Velasquez, the suspect, Rodolfo Edrad alias “Junjun Bumas” gave himself up voluntarily to Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Gumaca, Quezon province, last Saturday.

He added Bumas was a former Marine soldier who served as a security aide of former Marinduque Gov. Jose Antonio Carreon.

Authorities, however, said that Bumas is no longer connected with Carreon who lost his gubernatorial bid in Marinduque in the May 10, 2010 elections..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110207hed6.html

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