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Shameless obfuscation DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/29/2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shameless obfuscation

Herman Tiu Laurel
What is P1 billion over nine years of graft to P800 billion in debt service corruption each year, totaling P7.2 trillion the past nine years? The former is just coffee money while the latter is a gargantuan scam by the financial institutions. Officially adopted as policy in past administrations, this national swindle has even worsened under PeNoy after a fresh new round of debts was incurred, beginning with P300 billion in December 2010. And that’s despite the fact that the foreign debt, which the country no longer needs, can even be reduced by paying off substantial portions while renegotiating the rest. But has PeNoy made a squeak, much less, thought about it?

Indeed, this problem has gone on for decades; but the present regime has now been handed the golden opportunity to end it by tapping the OFW remittances accumulated and idled in the Special Deposit Account (SDA), as well as the surplus Gross International Reserves (GIRs) regularly bragged about by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). So why does PeNoy keep mum on all this? Could it be ignorance, cowardice, or both?

Consumer woes brought about by inflation are one of the most serious crises ever to hit the Filipino people — from the astronomical rise in the price of National Food Authority (NFA) rice (P11/kilo during Erap’s time to today’s P23/kilo) to the high cost of public utilities (including our highest electricity rates in Asia and our highest cellphone interconnection rates in the Asia-Pacific).

In past annual assessments made by former presidents, inflation has always been a key emphasis, with the lowly galunggong as the standard. Nowadays, even galunggong is way beyond the reach of poor Filipinos and is no longer mentioned. Discussions on commodity prices are relevant only if the people have the jobs and the decent income to purchase such goods and services.

However, one of the centerpiece programs of PeNoy, the CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) or his political doleout program, where pro-PeNoy rallyists are rewarded, and which doesn’t create jobs — confirms his government’s failure at jobs creation.

One of the commodities that define Filipino living standards today is electricity. PeNoy praised Congress for two laws extending the lifeline rate subsidy and the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) set-up to oversee electricity privatization.

Upon hearing this, power consumer advocate Butch Junia immediately texted us: “I do not know what to make of P-Noys’ claiming credit for the lifeline rate and extension of the JCPC. Did he endorse the lifeline rate knowing full well that those consuming 101 kWh or more per month are the ones paying that subsidy? That is P25 additional cost for a 150 kWh household. Did he know that the Epira administered by the JCPC increased our power rates to the highest in Asia? If he knew these, what kind of a president is he to lay the subsidy burden on unknowing customers?... If he did not know these fundamental realities… what kind of president is he?”

PeNoy boasted of reducing unemployment from 8 percent as of April 2010 to 7.2 percent. But Ibon Foundation contradicted this, citing the failure of 1.2 million new entrants to be absorbed into the job market. PeNoy, as expected, reacted acerbically, saying: “Kung ayaw n’yong makita, ‘di ba, sorry, ‘di ba, wala akong magagawa do’n.”

To settle the question, I checked on data banks culled from the International Labor Organization (ILO) figures placing RP’s 2010 unemployment rate at 7.2 percent — no different from what PeNoy is claiming today. Only, PeNoy and his speechwriters tried to distort the picture by presenting seasonal against annual trends — which is no different from Gloria Arroyo’s style in claiming better stats.

But as they all obfuscate, they have invariably classified tricycle drivers as among the employed when such is the recourse of those who lose their jobs, same with their tact of considering unpaid family workers as among the employed.

This jobs crisis should be seen against the backdrop of the economic environment — from Cory Aquino down to her son — characterized by liberalization, deregulation and privatization. Trade liberalization undercut Philippine industries that deregulation and privatization made uncompetitive with predatory rate fixing of privatized public utilities (electricity, water, irrigation, tollways, port services, telecoms). Add to this increasing tax burden on both industry and consumers and the humongous annual debt service and you have a recipe for disaster.

As the Philippines became uncompetitive, the middle class shrank and the underground economy expanded, thus narrowing our tax base and causing government capabilities to collapse with escalating graft and corruption. Kilusan para sa Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME) chairman Jimmie Regalario summed this all up in our Destiny Cable TV show entitled, “So-Ano Na?”: PeNoy has nothing on any of these.

A long decade after mainstream broadcast media stopped inviting me to their TV debates, I was invited again last Monday to a 1 p.m. GMA News show. Winnie Monsod sat across me. She gave PeNoy a passing mark based on the Movement for Good Government (MGG)’s rating of 10 indicators — this, despite the fact that the MGG actually rated PeNoy a failure, with a score of only 4.75 out of 10.

Furthermore, Monsod crowed about the anti-corruption drive of the “daang matuwid,” which I said was belied by PeNoy’s appointment of several corrupt personalities — from the DILG and DoTC undersecretaries, to the sweepstakes agency chief who was with the Arroyo and FVR boards where she consented to and undoubtedly partook of all the graft and corruption there. While I was at it, I also cited Joker Arroyo’s alleged use of that agency’s funds for his 2001 campaign which they choose to keep silent about.

Finally, PeNoy’s flagship Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program was not mentioned because it’s still an absolute zero; same with the bluster around the Spratlys and the boasted acquisition of vintage Hamilton cutters, which are laughable. These are why PeNoy’s cheering squad in mainstream papers such as the Inquirer can only praise his “greatness” in oratory (like an Amorsolo in speech) and the oversold “wang-wang” spiel… All in the spirit of shameful and shameless obfuscation.

(Tune in to Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m., and Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.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/20110729com5.html

Dirty, wicked politics EDITORIAL Click to enlarge 07/29/2011

Dirty, wicked politics

Click to enlarge
The horse trading between the House and Malacañang on the 2012 budget has started and to describe these as wretched would be an understatement.

President Aquino had submitted a P1.8-trillion budget that included more than P40 billion in lump sum for the centerpiece cash transfer program or what his administration calls the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that was even copied from the previous administration of Gloria Arroyo.

On the day that the House received the proposed budget, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s first move was to strike a deal with the Budget secretary on the release of congressmen’s pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for which Belmonte nearly faced a mutiny earlier.

Belmonte, who is an ally of Noynoy, but was a staunch ally of Gloria when she was in Malacañang, bluntly told Budget Secretary Butch Abad that unless the pork barrel is released the budget would be consigned to the dust bin..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110729com1.html

Noy embracing the ‘wang-wang’ culture FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/29/2011

Noy embracing the ‘wang-wang’ culture

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Noynoy claims to be treading the straight path and has even called on the nation to do away with what he calls the “wang-wang” culture representing abuse of power and privilege. He says that as president, his vision is the nation’s social transformation. He also says that he is there to strengthen the institutions and even speaks even of instilling independence in such institutions.

But what he says is not necessarily what he does, that’s for certain.

Noynoy called for an end to corruption, yet he and his aides are heavy into corrupting the House of Representatives by dangling the congressional pork barrel release in exchange for the swift passage of his proposed national budget.

But if, as he claims, he wants to strengthen the institutions, one of which is the House, whose members are said to be representatives of the people, why is he resorting to bribery and further corrupting the already corrupt congressmen? Why should there be a quid pro quo for the congressmen’s pork barrel, when this is what is really due them, as allocated in the national budget?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110729com2.html

Afghan army fights for respect, equipment in south focus 07/29/2011

Afghan army fights for respect, equipment in south


COMPANY OUTPOST WARE — Afghan commander Maqim Sediqi has spent more than half of his life on battlefields but says that these days he is more preoccupied fighting for respect than firing his gun.

The army captain leads some 100 men battling alongside American forces to keep control of the critical Arghandab Valley in southern Kandahar province, where a surge of US troops last year has seen some successes against a trenchant insurgency.

But this year’s traditional summer fighting season comes as thousands of US troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, putting the fledgling force under pressure to show what they can do for themselves.

And while commanders cite gains in the outlying areas of the province, the birthplace of the Taliban, a string of political assassinations in Kandahar city a few kilometers (miles) south has brought fresh fears of an insurgent comeback..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110729com3.html

Norway’s aristocrat PM voices grief of a nation focus 07/29/2011

Norway’s aristocrat PM voices grief of a nation


OSLO — Jens Stoltenberg, whose government and party was targeted by last week’s deadly attacks, has been unanimously hailed for his dignified and quintessentially Norwegian handling of the crisis aftermath.

According to a poll published on Wednesday, 94 percent of Norwegians have been satisfied with the prime minister’s performance in the aftermath of last week’s massacre while only two percent have been dissatisfied.

“Stoltenberg has been a fantastic leader under exceptional circumstances, humane and yet firm at the same time.
 He has never been so impressive, Harald Stanghelle, a columnist for the leading Aftenposten daily, told AFP.

When a massive car bomb exploded outside his office on Friday afternoon, the 52-year-old was rushed into hiding by his security detail for fear that his life was in danger..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110729com6.html

How Norway’s police moved in on the gunman FEATURE 07/29/2011

How Norway’s police moved in on the gunman


OSLO — Bullets were still hitting the water when police arrived to stop the massacre on the Norwegian island of Utoeya, the officer who led the operation said Wednesday.

Haavard Gaasbakk, who headed the intervention team, defended his men against criticism from some quarters that they were too slow to get to the scene.

Gaasbakk said he was proud of his men’s work Friday, the day self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik went on the rampage and shot dead 68 people on the island.

“They were extremely solid and showed much courage right down the line,” Gaasbakk said.

According to the official version of events, it took police just over an hour after receiving the first message about the shootings on the island, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Oslo, to arrest Behring Breivik..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110729com7.html

Letter from Mika Ortega C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 07/29/2011

Letter from Mika Ortega

Jonathan De la Cruz
Mika Ortega is the daughter of murdered broadcast journalist and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega whose case remains unsolved, mired in bureaucratic limbo at the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Last we heard, the panel investigating Doc Gerry’s murder has recommended the filing of charges against members of the “hit team” — all from Quezon — who confessed to the crime. But, wonder of wonders, the panel did not even bother to look at the confessions of these people implicating in no uncertain terms, prominent Palaweños, including former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes whom the Ortega family and a growing number of those who have been monitoring this case allege have something to do with this dastardly act. But Mika and her family, though doubly heart broken as a result of the panel’s decision, continue to plod on. Before P-Noy’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona), Mika and her mother made the rounds requesting friends in media and in other sectors, including the religious, to please remind the Chief Executive not only of Doc Gerry’s fate but all other unsolved media and extra-judicial killings. They were hoping that at the very least P-Noy would say something to get the investigating bodies, especially the DoJ back on their feet and move even faster to solve these cases. No such luck. But they remain hopeful. Yesterday, Mika guested in our daily morning show Karambola over dwIZ and repeated her plea. In response to her call and P-Noy’s pledge to do away with the “wang-wang” culture of abuse of power and impunity, we are giving space to her latest plea. We hope Malacañang will listen not only to her family’s plea but those of other victims whose cases remain in limbo. Here goes:.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110729com4.html

Police brass stonewall Senate on choppers probe By Angie M. Rosales 07/29/2011


Police brass stonewall Senate on choppers probe

By Angie M. Rosales 07/29/2011

Officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) placed in the hot seat at a Senate probe into the acquisition of two used helicopters supposedly owned by the family of former President Arroyo, passed off and paid for as brand new units, tried to wash their hands off the anomalous purchase while at the same time tried covering up for the real owners of the aircraft in the raw deal which, in turn, incensed the senators.

As a result, Senate probers failed to establish at the hearing yesterday the true owners of the choppers who were alleged to be the Arroyos or the former First Family were the original owners of two of the three choppers the PNP purchased.

Appearing before the Senate blue ribbon committee, PNP officials privy to the transaction of the alleged irregular P105 million purchase of light operational helicopters from Manila Aerospace Trading Corp. (Maptra) failed to provide solid information on the purchases that happened in 2009 despite admitting that the PNP supply contract specified that the helicopters to be purchased should be “unused” or brand new. One official admitted to Senate probers that they were actually deceived by Maptra, the supplier..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110729hed1.html

DoJ set to probe ’04 vote fraud; GMA camp says ER switch ridiculous 07/29/2011

DoJ set to probe ’04 vote fraud; GMA camp says ER switch ridiculous

There is no let-up from the Aquino administration in its bid to pin down former President now Rep. Gloria Arroyo on poll fraud, with the Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday saying it will be investigating fresh allegations that Arroyo used the police to steal the 2004 presidential election.

The inquiry will look into claims by a senior police officer that he broke into the House of Representatives in 2005 to switch election documents stored there so that Arroyo’s victory would survive a recount, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

“We’ve always known that in each election there’s cheating, but the scale of it in 2004, based on the various bits and pieces that we’ve been getting from our sources... it’s really mind-boggling,” De Lima told reporters.
She said Arroyo’s win could not be overturned by a finding of fraud, but the evidence could be used to file criminal charges against those involved..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110729hed2.html

Australia probes Philippine organ allegations 07/29/2011

Australia probes Philippine organ allegations

SYDNEY — Australian police said yesterday they had launched their first organ trafficking investigation after an elderly kidney patient reportedly brought a Filipina to Sydney for harvesting purposes.

Police said a house had been raided in March in relation to “suspected organ trafficking” and a probe was under way.

“This is the first organ trafficking case investigated by the Australian Federal Police,” a spokesman told AFP.

Officers usually tasked with people trafficking and sex slavery crimes were examining the case, she added, declining to detail the specific allegations..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110729nat6.html

Tropical storm ‘Juaning’ leaves 35 dead; 130,225 families affected By Mario J. Mallari 07/29/2011

Tropical storm ‘Juaning’ leaves 35 dead; 130,225 families affected

By Mario J. Mallari 07/29/2011
Tropical storm “Juaning” yesterday left the country, leaving at least 35 people dead, including four policemen and personnel of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) whose truck stalled in Ifugao province while conducting hazard mapping in the area on Wednesday and was hit by a massive landslide.

National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Undersecretary Benito Ramos said that four bodies have been recovered by rescuers from the landslide that hit a portion of the national highway in Aguinaldo town.

At around 7 a.m. yesterday, two bodies were unearthed from the landslide while two others were discovered hours later.

On Wednesday, three personnel of the MGB-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were conducting hazard mapping in the area at around 4 p.m. when their pickup truck stalled. Two policemen assisted the MGB inspectors but unfortunately the landslide happened, burying the victims..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110729nat1.html

Lawmakers urge House to speed up probe into ballot-switching By Gerry Baldo 07/29/2011

Lawmakers urge House to speed up probe into ballot-switching

By Gerry Baldo 07/29/2011

Lawmakers yesterday urged the House leadership to expedite the investigation into the alleged switching of ballots at the time these were being canvassed at the House of Representatives after the 2004 elections.

According to San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, the admission of the police officer that there was switching of election returns during the Batasan canvass is a major evidence during the 2004 electoral fraud.

“All those who have knowledge of the cheating and those who allowed this to happen should be included in the investigation,” Ejercito said yesterday even as he called for a wider probe into the allegations.

“I am encouraging those involved to come out and shed light regarding the 2004 electoral fraud and 2001 conspiracy that both stole the presidency from the rightful persons,” Ejercito, son of former President Estrada, said. Estrada was ousted in a coup led by then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110729met2.html

1,305 smoking ban violators fall in Caloocan City, penalized 07/29/2011

1,305 smoking ban violators fall in Caloocan City, penalized

Joint operatives of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Reformed Department of Public Safety and Traffic Management (RDPSTM) of the Caloocan City government have apprehended a total of 1,305 smoking ban violators all over the city.

This was revealed by RDPSTM chief Al Sta. Maria in his report to Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri updating the latter on the number of apprehensions that the two agencies have made since July 1.

Most of the violators were individuals caught smoking cigarettes at the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Monumento Station which is frequented by thousands of commuters daily, Sta. Maria said.

Smoking ban is strictly observed not only in public places like the LRT but also in and around the city hall, he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110729met3.html

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