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No question of honor EDITORIAL 02/14/2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

No question of honor

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The burial of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, who took his life six days ago on Feb. 8, should not bring with it the many questions left hanging on the alleged corrupt system in the military.

Efforts to use Reyes’ death as an excuse to end the inquiries are perceived in the way that it is now being played up — such as that portrayal of Reyes being a victim, and thus the many other chiefs of staff and generals in the military, of an institutional disease.
Also being focused was the pain that Reyes and presumably all those being linked to the corruption in the military are going through.

There should be a concerted effort, more so after Reyes’ death, not to end the investigations in both the Senate and the House of Representatives since involved in the massive military corruption scam are former heads of the military organization who mostly still wield great influence in the government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com1.html

Merely walking into corruption? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 02/14/2011

Merely walking into corruption?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
In what is now being bruited about as Angie Reyes’ last statement that he “did not invent corruption” and merely “walked into it” while accepting aspects of corruption as a fact of life, it must therefore be asked: Why accept corruption as a fact of life in the country? Why not do something about it?

In his being in the highest post of the military and later, the many other top departmental posts in the civilian government, it is assumed that he had accepted too, the many aspects of corruption in various government positions as a fact of life.

This is much too disturbing, because it presupposes that all others in the military and the entire government, then and now, have “walked into corruption” and accepted its aspects as a way of life.

And if such is the mind set of government official and employees, who apparently feel that they too, just walked into the web of corruption, without feeling any qualms over not fighting it or even move to cut off this pernicious evil, because this, to them, is a fact of life, it can be assumed that corruption still persists even in the new military and the new government, and no one, past or present, is apparently willing to expose this corruption that eats at the soul of the government and the military, as well as the police, because apparently, from the statement issued by Reyes such a thing as acceptance of the imperfect system is not dishonorable and just a small fault..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com2.html

Separation fears for stranded south Sudan returnees FEATURE 02/14/2011

Separation fears for stranded south Sudan returnees


KHARTOUM — In a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Khartoum for south Sudanese awaiting transport back home, Kushak Gumlon’s wife has just given birth. But he has no idea if he can take his family with him.

“We have been here for one month and 20 days. And still we are waiting for the trucks,” says the 60-year-old father of eight, sitting inside a cramped tent.

His anxieties vanish and he beams with pride as he lifts the red cloth protecting the sleeping baby from the flies.

Infisal was born in the Dar al-Naim camp four days before the final results of last month’s landmark referendum on southern independence were confirmed, and Kushak gave him the Arabic name for the vote’s landslide outcome: Separation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com3.html

Undue haste C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 02/14/2011

Undue haste

Jonathan De la Cruz
The truism haste makes waste has never been more evident than in the high profile case involving retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia whose plea bargain agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman has become the subject of intense scrutiny and, yes, partisan debate. No less than Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile brought this up when he pressed former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo why he had to submit less than complete information (shortage of evidence was how it was described in the reports) in support of the charge of plunder he and his colleagues filed against Garcia on April 5, 2005. In the Senate chief’s view such undue haste virtually tied the hands of the prosecutors Marcelo left behind after he left office for “health reasons” in 2005 and gave rise to this now problematic agreement awaiting final approval by the Sandiganbayan.

No less than Marcelo himself and the then Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio admitted during the ongoing congressional hearings that “...there were no documents coming from the AFP with respect to the investigation that led to the filing of the information for plunder against Garcia...” before the same was filed. Worse, the duo have now admitted that they erred when they advised P-Noy in an “open letter” that Garcia himself submitted a “demurrer to evidence” before the Sandiganbayan. They were misled and as a result also misled P-Noy and the public. It turns out that Garcia never submitted anything of that sort. And, here is the kicker, the one and only basis of the charge against Garcia was a letter by his wife Clarita supposedly executed before a US Immigration employee, a certain agent Van Dyke, wherein she indicated their sources of their income to explain the bundles of cash confiscated from her and her sons as they entered the US sometime during that period. At the time of filing of the plunder charge, then Ombudsman Marcelo was still awaiting the report of then Commission on Audit (CoA) auditor Heidi Mendoza who was precisely tasked, together with 10 other auditors, to assist the Ombudsman in the ongoing investigation into alleged anomalous transactions at the AFP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com4.html

Behind ‘closed doors’ hide the rats DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 02/14/2011

Behind ‘closed doors’ hide the rats

Herman Tiu Laurel
Fidel V. Ramos speaks with a twisted tongue and heart; he would make the weak brave and heroic, and the self-sacrificing and courageous a villain. FVR is twisting certain quarters’ perception of events by hurling aspersions on those pursuing the truth in the Senate hearings on widespread corruption in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).

Some RAM (Reform the Armed Forces Movement) veterans, such as Col. Proceso Maligalig, even fault underclassman Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV for the suicide of Angelo Reyes, claiming that the senator’s alleged “shaming” of the late general did him in. But shouldn’t Reyes have spilled all the beans earlier to spare himself of any and all shame?

Why such crap coming from them? Are they fearful that their past relations to these “pabaon,” “pasalubong,” and “conversion” practices may be uncovered, as some retired officers credit this top Yellow general for the introduction of this corrupt system?

My previous column placed the onus of the systemic corruption within Philippine society and the AFP on both the ruling class and the principal foreign power. Through their financial, monetary, foreign, media and political policies, they set the parameters for this country’s governance and shape society in their perverted image.

Hence, an extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few powerful families (or oligarchs) tied to the foreign power’s coattails continues. Together, they systematically impoverish the nation by, first of all, ensuring that government institutions give out ridiculously low salaries to mendicant officials who will be perpetually addicted to graft and corruption as an “unofficial” means of attaining a modicum of fine living.

Because of this, officials from every branch of government have rackets to augment their ridiculously low incomes. Supreme Court justices, for example, are accused of raiding the Judiciary Development Fund (much like a former Chief Justice) or selling case decisions (often involving land disputes); while Comelec syndicates abound; and the Department of Budget and Management releases funds only after percentages are deducted, ad nausea.

The inquiries are best laid bare before the public than shoved back to the “Old Boys’ Club,” where that top Yellow general is said to be a major enabler. As a decorated AFP man and West Point grad, this noted trapo is credited with the issuance of “envelopes” during his days as a general while making camp visits and the proliferation of jueteng when he was still chief of the Philippine Constabulary.

The solons definitely knew about the pabaons long before, which we wrote about as early as 2005. Why then did it have to take a Heidi Mendoza, George Rabusa or Antonio Lim to be prodded by Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Trillanes to force the issue out?

Perhaps the silence and now apparent turnaround of some wimpy legislators in the conduct of these public investigations is that many of them are no different from these tainted AFP generals. After all, don’t most of them benefit from “pork barrel,” lobby money, as well as cash-for-privilege speeches cum exposés, and the like?

Those who can’t take the heat can kill themselves, but the truth must out. The overwhelming popular demand is for more open hearings, as the nation now has a rare, historic opportunity to flush out all the shame and to turn over a new leaf.

This popular sentiment is all over and here are parts of an e-mail circulating today that reads “Launch Non-Stop Campaign Against Corruption, Shame The Corrupt, Redeem Our Land,” by Mila D. Aguilar (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=501011960917&id=588112853):

“I am a jobless widow about to reach 62 years of age, and have nothing to lose but my life… Today, I am hearing calls to ‘moderate’ the investigations, turn the public hearings into closed-door ‘executive sessions,’ and generally, to ‘respect’ the ‘institution’ that is the AFP. I am also getting messages on FB trying to show how hopeless the situation is in many variegated ways. I smell a rat, and the rat is human. It infests not only the AFP, but ALL government offices, almost without exception. It has its tentacles in the private sector. And we all know it. But most of us think the only thing we can do is to do our own little good thing. Or in fact, not do anything at all. This despite the fact that we have already been gifted by God with a Heidi Mendoza and a General Rabusa. Can’t we see a candle — two candles — when they’ve already been lighted?... So in the light of recent developments… let me propose the following:

1. Do not ever consent to stopping the public, open-door hearings on corruption in the AFP, even if on the grounds that these are generated by politicians out for vengeance. It does not matter who or why…
2. What matters about the public open-door hearings is that the guilty are brought to shame, and the not-so-guilty are made to reflect on their own guilt.

3. Public hearings are our only way… to bring our nation to righteousness, by showing all and sundry what distinguishes right from wrong…

4. With our courts in disarray, shame is our only weapon now against misfits, so let us bring them to shame. With no viable legal means left at our disposal... we are constrained to use our culture of hiya, and use it to the hilt.

5. Let us bring the corrupt to shame through (various means)… Let us use our pens wisely…

6. Go to the streets, light a candle, hoot a horn, show that you are against corruption…

7. And most of all… Pray that the guilty will repent, and if they do not… That they will be punished, here and in the hereafter. Pray that the millions will wake up to righteousness… (and) For a final, absolute end to corruption.

Our call is: Oy kurap, tumigil ka! Tama na, sobra na!...”

And with it, I add: Expose the oligarchs, too! That will surely flush out the rats from our system.
(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: The Oligarchy;” visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com5.html

Hearts and flowers SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 02/14/2011

Hearts and flowers

Dinah S. Ventura
It is Valentine’s Day: Flowers will be offered, and hearts will bloom, or hearts will bleed.
The unexpected death of former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes last Feb. 8, on the birthday of current President Noynoy Aquino at that, left many reeling. Questions, more than answers, erupted. On the morning the news broke out, reactions varied from shock to dismay, sympathy to suspicion.

Death wrenches at the heart, no matter how you look at it. If your sympathies lie with the deceased and his loved ones, then Reyes’ apparent suicide should make you want to post tributes to the man, just as some TV reports seem to have done. If your emotions are colored by recent events, which led to the death to be sure, then you must be trying to make sense of this last action of a man whose life had been marked by lofty achievements few are privileged to achieve.

Does death absolve sin? Does it change things?I would hazard a guess: It does not.

What Reyes left behind is unfinished business, and while he always proclaimed innocence, the controversy had already involved his name. But Reyes left before he could fix what damage to his reputation it had caused, leaving his wife and children to absorb the effects. Of this there could be no doubt: It was his great concern for his family’s welfare that made him pull the trigger..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com7.html

Muting truth HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 02/14/2011

Muting truth

Aldrin Cardon
In the afternoon following Angelo Reyes’ suicide, I caught a portion of ABS-CBN anchor Noli de Castro’s interview with Pat Daza — the designated Reyes family spokesman, who claimed to have had no inkling about the former AFP chief of staff’s plan to claim his own life in the middle of an investigation into the alleged stolen wealth by top military officials from the AFP coffers.

In the course of the interview, Daza recalled Reyes’ recent visit to the ABS-CBN studios where he chanced upon the former vice president, whom Daza recalled as having egged Reyes to help himself by unloading some of the burdens he had since the probe into the plea bargaining agreement between former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Ombudsman revealed more collusion among top military brass to steal more money than each of us could possess in our lifetimes.

Reyes found himself sucked into the probe, along with his wife, whom it was claimed by witnesses as having received stolen AFP money herself, like the other brass wives, which could have been the reason for Reyes’ suicide to spare her and their children from further humiliation and shame.

According to Daza, the conversation between Reyes and De Castro went like this:
Noli de Castro: “Magsalita ka na Angie!”
Angelo Reyes: “Ayoko, ayoko... ayokong manglaglag… ako na lang...”

It was short talk, alright, but it proved a real heavy load for Reyes. He opted to kill himself in front of his mother’s tomb that morning. He was laid to rest yesterday..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110214com6.html

Ill-equipped soldiers sent to UN missions — CoA By Chito Lozada 02/14/2011


Ill-equipped soldiers sent to UN missions — CoA

By Chito Lozada 02/14/2011
Over recent allegations of conversion and diversion of funds that should have been earmarked for the upkeep of Filipino contingents in the different peacekeeping operations of the United Nations (UN) worldwide, a Commission on Audit (CoA) report on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in 2009 detailed how soldiers on international tours of duty unnecessarily suffer from military anomalies.

The CoA noted that the UN provides full reimbursement of actual expenses incurred for the upkeep of soldiers on peacekeeping missions but the AFP supplies mostly substandard materials if at all for troops assigned abroad.

“The AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center (AFPPKOC) described the major equipment deployed with the contingents as breakdown prone, aging and dilapidated as these were not brand new when issued and deployed,” the CoA said in its report. It noted that either these assets affect unit operational effectiveness or cause embarrassment to the nation and to the UN operations which underscores the AFP’s logistical incapability to support and sustain its contingents and accomplish its mandate abroad.

The AFP body was also concerned that the government will always be losing considerable amount of reimbursement which should have been a major source of funding for AFP peacekeeping operations programs due to the continuous state of low serviceability profile of the assets deployed in UN mission areas, it added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110214hed1.html

No way to halt Senate probe on AFP — Enrile By Angie M. Rosales 02/14/2011

No way to halt Senate probe on AFP — Enrile

By Angie M. Rosales 02/14/2011

The Senate cannot be stopped from pursuing its investigation into the alleged corruption in the military uncovered in the course of inquiry into the plea bargain agreement involving retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday.

“It will not be put off. I will not allow it. We will not put it to a halt because it’s the interest of the nation that we are dealing with here,” Enrile said.

Enrile, in an interview with dzBB, upheld the authority of the Senate in conducting such proceedings which many were led to believe contributed to the commission of suicide by former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes.

Reyes, along with several other generals and former AFP chiefs, had been dragged into the latest controversy hounding fund misuse after a witness, former military budget officer Col. George.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110214hed2.html

Prosecutors liable for negligence over Garcia 02/14/2011

Prosecutors liable for negligence over Garcia

State prosecutors who handled the plunder case of retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who agreed on the plea bargain that downgraded the case to direct bribery are liable for gross negligence, Sen. Franklin Drilon yesterday said.

Drilon added there’s already enough ground to haul the special pro-secutors, under the Office of the Ombudsman, to court and face adminis-trative charges for perceived mishandling of the Garcia case.

“They should be sacked. Administrative cases should be filed against them for negligence,” he said.

The senator, who is a former justice and executive secretary, said there’s already basis to effect the proceedings against them given the information that had come out in the public inquiry of the upper chamber..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110214hed3.html

Taiwan seeks to forge accord with RP on mutual legal aid By Michaela P. del Callar 02/14/2011

Taiwan seeks to forge accord with RP on mutual legal aid

By Michaela P. del Callar 02/14/2011
Taiwan has called for the immediate forging of a mutual legal assistance agreement with the Philippines to shield its nationals against unlawful arrests and deportations to third countries.

Taipei made this plea in light of the deportation to mainland China of 14 Taiwanese allegedly connected to a big-time telecommu-nications fraud syndicate operating in the Philippines.

In a statement sent to the Tribune by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (Teco), Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Manila explained that such legal bilateral mechanism would allow the Philippines and Taiwan to assist each other in the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial processes related to criminal matters involving their respective nationals.

“To prevent such unde-sirable consequences from happening again in the future, an agreement on mutual judicial assistance between Taiwan and the Philippines should be concluded as soon as possible,” the Teco statement said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110214hed4.html

Hostage survivors to face HK probe 02/14/2011

Hostage survivors to face HK probe

A Hong Kong inquest into a Manila bus hijacking that left eight tourists dead is set to start today, after the incident sparked a diplomatic meltdown over claims of shoddy police work.

The 25-day inquest before Hong Kong’s Coroner’s Court is due to hear from a host of witnesses, including survivors and families of the Hong Kong hostages killed last August in a botched police rescue attempt aired on live television around the world.

Officers eventually stormed the bus and shot dead the lone gunman Rolando Mendoza, a disgraced former police official who hijacked the coach in a bizarre bid to to be reinstated afte losing his job over corruption allegations.

Soon after the bungled rescue, Hong Kong issued a travel alert on the Philippines, advising citizens not to visit the popular travel destination..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110214hed5.html

Reyes laid to rest in Libingan ng mga Bayani By Mario J. Mallari 02/14/2011

Reyes laid to rest in Libingan ng mga Bayani

By Mario J. Mallari 02/14/2011
Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes was laid to rest yesterday at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio with a grand funeral executed by a battalion-sized military honors, and attended by top-ranking government officials, past and present.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin led the AFP top brass in rendering its final salute to Reyes who committed suicide last Tuesday amid the ongoing investigations of his alleged involvement into massive corruption in the military during his stint as AFP and Defense chief.

Reyes’ remains left the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo about 10 a.m. after a mass which was followed by departure honors. Reyes’ body spent its final two days in Camp Aguinaldo where public viewing was allowed.

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo led some of her former Cabinet members and Reyes’ former colleagues in paying their last respects to the former AFP chief and secretary of defense, interior and local government, environment and natural resources and energy..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110214nat1.html

Migrante asks Noynoy to free 48 jailed OFWs in Saudi

Migrante asks Noynoy to free 48 jailed OFWs in Saudi

The global alliance of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia yesterday initiates a campaign for the release of 48 jailed Filipino migrant workers who were still locked up in Riyadh jail.

At the same time, the alliance also urges the Aquino government to seriously works for the release and repatriation of overstaying jailed OFWs in Saudi Arabia.

The jailed OFWs claimed that they already completed their respective jail terms, but they are not yet release.

Last Feb. 7, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona sent a letter to the Philippine Embassy-Assistance to the Nationals section (ANS) saying that he has received several messages from jailed OFWs who alleged that they had been beaten inside the jails which prompted them to seek for assistance..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110214nat2.html

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