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No truth from Davide EDITORIAL 02/11/2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

No truth from Davide

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Philippine Truth Commission Chairman Hilario Davide, formerly the Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations, has some explaining to do regarding the multimillion-dollar fund transfers yearly from the UN for the maintenance of the country’s peacekeeping contingents.

Ironically, the head of the truth body might be compelled in Congress to reveal the truth behind the disposition of the UN funds, which if left hanging, will be the source of another embarrassment for the country and the likelihood that the UN may start thinking twice about tapping the country for future peacekeeping missions.

Because it certainly is embarrassing for a Philippine ambassador to the UN to be getting part of the UN funds which should have gone to the soldiers — at least through the national treasury first, since the military also cannot be trusted to hand that money over to our soldiers in these peacekeeping areas who volunteer, precisely for a bigger pay, despite harm coming their way.

The military brass, on their own, cut the pay of these Filipino peacekeepers in half — a complaint which was already aired years ago by the soldiers, but which complaint has apparently not been heeded, either by the military, Malacañang or even Davide at the UN..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110211com1.html

Suicide no way to save the AFP FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 02/11/2011

Suicide no way to save the AFP

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
An institution such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), can hardly be saved from its corruption by a general’s suicide. It could perhaps have been saved by a general and others so placed in the military by living and testifying to the truth on the corrupt practices, instead of dying, although too many in the AFP these days have been coming up with the spin that former AFP Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes’ suicide was his way of saving the AFP, which is quite illogical, because one does not save the institution by bringing its secrets with him to the grave.

One does not save an institution such as the Philippine Military Academy, where most, if not all, the generals — who make up the brass in the AFP and the Philippine National Police — come from, by abolishing it, but neither is the PMA going to be saved by being much too soft on it and its graduates who end up being swallowed by the mire of corruption that is all over the AFP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110211com2.html

Zimbabwe’s government marks two years in power focus 02/11/2011

Zimbabwe’s government marks two years in power


HARARE — Zimbabwe’s shaky unity government on Friday marks two years in power but President Robert Mugabe’s call for early polls has sparked fears of sweeping violence that marred the 2008 presidential vote.

Mugabe’s arch-rival-turned-premier Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the 2008 poll, but failed to get an outright majority which led to a bloody presidential run-off.

Tsvangirai later withdrew, citing violence against his supporters, allowing Mugabe to win the election unopposed and causing a lengthy political deadlock.

After negotiations mediated by southern African leaders, a unity government was formed on Feb. 11, 2009, but it has been fraught by infighting..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110211com3.html

The times we live in NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 02/11/2011

The times we live in

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Everything is delineated on print, television and radio, and thanks to modern technology, the reportage extends to all over the Internet where self-proclaimed political analysts hiding behind anonymity are on the latest cause célèbre either extolling Angelo Reyes as hero, or tagging him heel.

It’s like everyone is allowed to deliver a piece, whether for or against whatever. Everyone, but the filmmaker.

Presidential Decree 1986, which created the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (Oct. 5, 1985), must first be amended to allow filmmakers their say, with the same amount of freedom given other media. To altogether completely replace it with a more progressive law on film and television review and classification is the better idea, but meanwhile, just meanwhile, something’s got to be done about the existing decree’s Section 3, Powers and Functions, specifically (3), which says that up for possible approval or disapproval, subject to deletion of “objectionable portions” are also that fall under (vi) “Those which are libelous or defamatory to the good name and reputation of any person, whether living or deadxxx”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110211com4.html

The root of RP’s systemic corruption DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 02/11/2011

The root of RP’s systemic corruption

Herman Tiu Laurel
I checked the Chan Robles Internet law library and found Republic Act 9166 of June 2002 defining the lawful salary of a general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), under “Section 2. Pay Schedule,” as: General, P30,000 (a month); Lieutenant General, P29,000; Major General, P28,000; Brigadier General, P27,000; and so on.

An AFP officer confirmed these figures’ continuing validity today. Thus, with a few extra compensation, such as combat pay, the total take would bring the general’s legal income to only about P50,000 a month. Given this, can any AFP general, commodore, or admiral expect to maintain a standard of living that befits a member of the top echelons of society?

That would be ridiculous to expect. Though some generals and navy brass do live on their meager incomes — which is why nothing irregular is heard of them — others find unseemly ways to attain what they believe they deserve.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is another such case, where the directors generals’ and various superintendents’ official salaries will never be able to compete with those of Makati junior executives by any stretch. Hence, the necessity of underground activities such as jueteng becoming part of their regular unofficial payroll, from the national down to the local level.

Election upon election promises and threats of damnation from politicians and a long list of Catholic prelates alike have not stopped these jueteng operations from flourishing. Not even the much-vaunted Yellow saint Cory Aquino or her “heirs” have been able to put a lid on the wellspring of jueteng payola going to the PNP and the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government).

Why? An insight into this can be gleaned from an encounter between a scion of the oligarchy and the anti-jueteng crusader, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, where the former was said to have told the bishop to “go easy on jueteng.” My thesis is that the oligarchy consciously wants illicit money sources such as jueteng to thrive in order to contribute largely to the unofficial real income of police generals and government officials. Otherwise, these dogs may just bite their master’s hands if he has nothing to feed them.

A president of the Philippines today officially earns P95,000 a month, which wouldn’t amount to, say, the cost of a brand new Porsche over a six-year term. Although that is 65 percent higher than the immediate predecessor’s monthly pay of P57,750 a month (with the increase signed by the predecessor just before the end of her term), the fact is, it is still low. Since the President’s pay is Salary Grade 33 in the official government pay schedule, the highest in government, all the rest necessarily have to be below that — except for institutions with special pay scales such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), where janitors can get as much as AFP generals.

Singapore’s Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, whose son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gets $2.8 million today, once made a widely reported tongue-in-cheek comment about a Philippine president’s salary being among the lowest in the world. Even so, a Philippine president can still rake in amounts that rival the highest incomes in the world — but from under-the-table “proceeds.”

If one were to follow government corruption like a maze and work back to its starting point, one may well find this ridiculous government pay schedule as the root of it all. An AFP or PNP general, or even a Cabinet official, with just an official monthly salary that approximates the take home pay of a veteran call center agent doesn’t make sense.

So it has become a way of life among those in government to accept these unofficial incomes as a natural part of the job — as natural as MWSS personnel getting their 30-month bonuses from water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad, as if they aren’t supposed to regulate these firms; and as natural as the secretary of Finance cashing in on the CodeNGO deal with fat commissions! You see, it’s not only the generals.

The entire government pay scale is designed to institutionalize dependency on the unofficial, underground and illegal to augment our officials’ pauper-level pays. Whenever I suggest to politicians to do as Singapore does, I always find inexplicable their non-appreciation of the logic. Perhaps it’s because it takes away their excuse for continuously promoting the graft?

After all, the situation is perfect for those who want unlimited graft revenues, where oligarchs control the political leadership through all sorts of bribes or blackmail (as carried out by their media outlets), or even their influence over US-controlled anti-corruption watchdogs such as Transparency International.

Generals Garcia, Rabusa, Ligot, et al.; the PNP and DILG jueteng roster; and lest we forget, regulatory bodies like the Energy Regulatory Commission and the MWSS, ad infinitum, are all controlled by the oligarchy and its foreign partner, the US (the one that really exposed Garcia), through this system that’s designed for corruption.

Understandably, the AFP is flogging itself for the mire of corruption it is in. But to continue doing so, without probing deeper, will just be unfair to the institution. Our AFP men and women should start aiming their sights on the real culprits — the oligarchy and the structure of corruption it has institutionalized through its politicians and media. Such is the root of systemic corruption in this land!

(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, on “The Roots of RP’s Systemic Corruption;” 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/20110211com5.html

Morocco pressured to step up reforms FEATURE 02/11/2011

Morocco pressured to step up reforms


RABAT — Emboldened by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demands for political reforms are now mounting in Morocco, touching even the country’s monarchy.

“Many believe that a constitutional reform, allowing Morocco to benefit from more modern institutions, is necessary,” economist and analyst Driss Benali said of a phenomenon that might ultimately decrease the monarch’s power.

The voices include those from one of Morocco’s leading Islamist movements, Justice and Charity, which has called for “urgent democratic change.”

“It is unjust that the country’s riches should be monopolized by a minority,” the movement, which is banned but tolerated here, wrote on its Web site..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110211com6.html

Egypt and US swap barbs as tension mounts focus 02/11/2011

Egypt and US swap barbs as tension mounts


WASHINGTON — A top Egyptian minister accused the United States Wednesday of imposing its “will” on its Arab ally, as the White House warned that Cairo had failed to even reach a “minimum threshold” for reform.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit lashed out in a television interview on a day when Washington took a critical line toward Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, who is in charge of a dialog with opposition groups.

And amid warnings by the Egyptian government of a military crackdown on rejuvenated protests, the US government again pleaded with armed forces it helped build with billions of dollars in aid to show restraint.

Abul Gheit condemned US rhetoric on a crisis sparked by days of opposition protests in Egypt, complaining in an interview with America’s PBS television at Washington’s urgent tone..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110211com7.html

‘Probe, proper accountability’ of Aussie funds a must By Michaela P. del Callar 02/11/2011


‘Probe, proper accountability’ of Aussie funds a must

By Michaela P. del Callar 02/11/2011

It’s not just the funds for the Philippine peacekeeping forces over which the United Nations is concerned, as well as the United States government funds for the “Balikatan excercises.”

Australia, too, is very concerned over the corruption scandal that has implicated for now, at least three retired military chiefs and has asked the Philippine government to ensure that the allegations are investigated and acted upon, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith told The Tribune yesterday.

The Philippine government has reassured Australian officials that some of the problems that allowed the reported massive corruption in the past have been addressed and were no longer there, Smith said, but noted that Australia expects the “proper accountability” of funds it gave to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Yes we are very concerned about the allegations of corruption in the AFP and just as we are always concerned about allegations of corruption of any kind,” Smith said in an interview. “What we said to the Philippine government is that we look to it to ensure the allegations are properly investigated and appropriate action is taken.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110211hed1.html

Trillanes claims Reyes admitted fund diversion By Angie M. Rosales 02/11/2011

Trillanes claims Reyes admitted fund diversion

By Angie M. Rosales 02/11/2011

Former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, who recently took his own life, admitted acting as a conduit in high-level “transactions” involving the diversion of military funds where Reyes claimed not to have benefited from, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said yesterday quoting emissaries of Reyes who supposedly approached him.

Trillanes’ revelation came after retired Navy Commodore Rex Robles said former President Arroyo had called up Reyes before the day of his suicide to ask the content of his letter delivered to Trillanes. The senator insinuated the possible involvement of the Executive department, under the previous administration, into the alleged illegal transactions of retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia.

Trillanes, however, appeared to be withholding more information on the letter as he did not categorically point to any particular person at this point, only implying what had been relayed to him, in detail, by a supposed emissary of the late AFP Chief of Staff Angelo “Angie” Reyes.

“Even by the admission of the late general (Reyes) through his emissaries, to me, he admitted that there were transactions supposedly coming from higher ups or authorities that coursed through him but he didn’t have any share. So that’s separate (transactions). There were those ordinary forms of conversion using the military funds as revealed by (former military budget officer) Col. (ret.).... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110211hed2.html

Noy gov’t: Taiwan won’t get RP apology By Michaela P. del Callar, 02/11/2011

Noy gov’t: Taiwan won’t get RP apology

By Michaela P. del Callar, 02/11/2011

The Philippine government will not apologize to Taiwan for deporting the 14 Taiwanese to China, stressing that it merely acted on a standing Interpol alert against the suspects who are allegedly involved in a big-time telecommunications fraud case.

A senior Foreign Affairs official privy to the case said aside from the standing arrest warrants in China for the Taiwanese and their 10 other Chinese cohorts, Manila received the Interpol alert in early December 2010. Taiwan is not a member of the Interpol.

The suspects, according to the source, were involved in a large-scale multimillion-dollar operation victimizing unsuspecting retired Chinese living in the Philippines. In their modus operandi, the suspects would call their would-be victims and pretend to be financial consultants. They would then convince them to transfer their money to another Philippine account for safekeeping due to “revised international banking regulations.”

“We didn’t do anything wrong. We will not apologize. We did what we think is right,” the official said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110211hed3.html

Merci files contempt raps vs Marcelo, Villa-Ignacio for lies By Charlie V. Manalo 02/11/2011

Merci files contempt raps vs Marcelo, Villa-Ignacio for lies

By Charlie V. Manalo 02/11/2011

The Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Special Prosecutor asked the Sandiganbayan the other day to cite in contempt its former bosses, former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and Dennis Villa-Ignacio, for allegedly fooling and deceiving President Aquino and the public as to the truth on the case of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Gen. Carlos Garcia.

In a 22-page Petition to Cite Respondents Simeon Marcelo and Dennis Villa-Ignacio for Indirect Contempt, Chief Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez and Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit stated that both Marcelo and Villa-Ignacio have lied and maliciously deceived Aquino and the public in their letter when they stated that the case against Garcia is strong because the demurrer to evidence was denied by the Sandiganbayan.

The Ombudsman argued that there is no such a pleading involving a demurrer to evidence and there is no resolution of the Sandiganbayan involving the matter.

The petition added the two are even trying to influence the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division as to how it should resolve the case of Garcia..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110211hed4.html

Advocates slam Noy over freedom bill retreat 02/11/2011

Advocates slam Noy over freedom bill retreat

Supporters of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill are frustrated with President Aquino following his decision to stall the endorsement of the measure in the 15th Congress.

The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, composed of multi-sectoral groups, in a statement, yesterday noted that “the President’s refusal to include the FoI bill in his list of priority measures is a big letdown.”

According to lawyer Nepomuceno Malaluan, lead convenor of the coalition, excluding this measure from his list of priority bills to be presented in the first Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting on Feb. 28 will send a strong signal that the President is not committed to his anti-corruption agenda.

The group said it is holding Aquino accountable for his promise made to the media after his proclamation where he said his administration will prioritize the FoI bill..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110211hed5.html

17 Filipino sailors held hostage by Somali pirates 02/11/2011

17 Filipino sailors held hostage by Somali pirates

Ransom-seeking pirates in Somalia took hostage another group of 17 Filipino sailors of a Greek vessel off the North Arabian Sea, a European Union naval force report said yesterday.

The EUNAVFOR said the oil tanker MV Irene SL was pirated approximately 350 nautical miles South East of Muscat.

“The vessel was on its way to Suez from Fujairah when it was attacked. Currently, there is no further information on the attack. She has a crew of 25 (7 Greek, 1 Georgian and 17 Filipinos),” the EU said.
There is also currently no communication with the vessel and no information regarding the condition of the crew, but the EU assured it continues to monitor the situation.

According to the EU, MV Irene SL was not registered with the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), but was reporting to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110211hed6.html

Reyes remains transferred today to Camp Aguinaldo By Mario J. Mallari 02/11/2011

Reyes remains transferred today to Camp Aguinaldo

By Mario J. Mallari 02/11/2011

The body of the late Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes is brought today to AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo for the final military honors during the last two days of his wake before the scheduled interment on Sunday.

AFP public affairs office (PAO) chief Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said that Reyes is scheduled to be accorded with military honors in Camp Aguinaldo starting 10 a.m.

“It is a military tradition to provide funeral honors to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a ceremonial paying of respect and its final demonstration of the country’s gratitude to the unselfish service rendered by these individuals to the nation,” said Burgos.

“The body of Gen. Reyes will be escorted by the military service from the Arlington Chapel and is expected to arrive at the Saint Ignatius Cathedral in Camp Aguinaldo,” Burgos added. This, as the family of Reyes has agreed to military honors offered by the AFP, including the burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110211nat2.html

House set to expel Ecleo over graft By Gerry Baldo 02/11/2011

House set to expel Ecleo over graft

By Gerry Baldo 02/11/2011

The House of Representatives is set to expel Dinagat Rep. Ruben Ecleo for three counts of graft.

House Majority Leader and Muntinlupa City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said that Ecleo will have to follow the court ordering him to serve time for 18 to 30 years.

Gonzales said only lawmakers facing a sentence below six years of imprisonment can invoke parliamentary immunity.

“You cannot arrest a member facing maximum of six years imprisonment while Congress is in session. Perhaps after the session, they can arrest him or while Congress is in sine die,” Gonzales said.

The anti-graft Sandiganbayan last Wednesday issued warrant of arrest against Ecleo after the Supreme Court (SC) junked the accused’s appeal on three graft convictions which was decided by the anti-graft court in 2006..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110211nat1.html

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