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Messing it up some more EDITORIAL 08/20/2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Messing it up some more

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Insensitive is the right word to describe the presidential spokesman’s dismissal of the request from the Hong Kong survivors and relatives of the hostages killed by the gun man during a botched rescue operation, to meet with Noynoy.

Noynoy, through his mouthpiece rejected the request, even stressing that this asked-for meeting would be flavored with politics, since the Hong Kongers would be accompanied by a opposition parliamentarian.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda declared last Wednesday that Noynoy will not receive them despite their request for an audience, adding that this group of Hong Kongers is being accompanied by a politician seeking an elective post in Hong Kong’s upcoming elections and that the Philippines would not want to be dragged into Hong Kong politics.

Lacierda also intimated that there is no need for Noynoy to meet with the Hong Kong group since the government already has taken steps to address the tragedy in Luneta — both administratively; both in making sure that the tourists are safe; and also in prosecuting those officials as recommended by the second IIRC report..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110820com1.html

Whither bank secrecy? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/20/2011

Whither bank secrecy?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Can banks be trusted in ensuring the privacy of bank accounts, especially those belonging to private individuals, rather than ensuring the secrecy of accounts of political allies of an incumbent government?

From the looks of it, that trust between a client and the bank is easily breached — and illegally too, as shown by the photocopy of a check and a bank account number written on it for a deposit of some P150 million said to be the account of Cesar Mancao, who had turned state witness for the Dacer-Corbito double murder. The photocopy of the the check was presented by Sen. Ping Lacson the other day.

For Lacson to have gotten hold of a check and photocopied can only mean that the concerned bank — through an employee or bank official — handed the photocy of the check to Lacson, who is not the account owner and therefore would have no business being given a copy of the check, unless of course, the check’s payor handed this to Lacson which would then open that person up to tax charges, if made to explain how the payor could afford to deposit P150 million in another person’s account.

Lacson had asked the executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) during a hearing to confirm the authenticity of a P150 million check deposited to the former police senior superintendent who implicated Lacson in the 2000 Dacer-Corbito murder case, even when this was hardly the subject of the hearing..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110820com2.html

Locals fear violence is up in Afghan handover town focus 08/20/2011

Locals fear violence is up in Afghan handover town


LASHKAR GAH — It was the most volatile of the Afghan towns and districts passed from Western to local control last month, and residents of Lashkar Gah worry security has got even worse since handover.

Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, was one of seven places handed back to Afghan forces in July as part of the first wave of a transition process that will eventually see all foreign combat troops leave the warring country by the end of 2014.

It was deliberately chosen in the initial group to prove that Afghan security forces could hold their own in risky parts of their country, Western diplomats have said.

But residents believe security has deteriorated since the handover, raising questions about the transition process weeks before President Hamid Karzai is set to announce in late September or October where will be next..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110820com3.html

Aquino allocates one percent of 2012 budget for migrant workers

Aquino allocates one percent of 2012 budget for migrant workers

“The budget for OFW services is only 0.43 percent of the debt-servicing budget; three precent of the military budget, 14 percent of PPP funds, and 1.9 percent of the presidential un-programmed funds or the President’s pork barrel.” – Migrante International

MANILA – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) added up $18 billion to the Philippine economy in 2010, but in the Aquino government’s budget proposal for 2012, only one percent will be allotted for their welfare.

In a detailed breakdown and analysis of the 2012 budget for OFWs and their concerns, Migrante International discovered that of the proposed P1.8 trillion ($41.8 billion) budget, direct services for OFWs from concerned government agencies will amount to no more than P3.14 billion ($73 million). This is equivalent to a measly 0.17 percent of the whole national budget. Budget for OFW welfare and services suffered a decrease of P792 million ($18.8 million) from last year’s P3.8 billion ($88 million) divided between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Department of Justice (DOJ) as lead agency of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and the Office of the President (OP).

According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, the cuts were made on the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of items concerning direct services for welfare and protection of OFWs in the DOLE and POEA budgets.

The group discovered that while there’s a P90.5 million ($2.16 million) increase in the Foreign Affairs department’s MOOE , the amount is intended mainly for payment of debts incurred from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for emergency repatriation and other emergencies. Much of the OWWA’s funds were reportedly utilized last year to address the the crisis in Libya and multiple disasters in Japan.

“If we exclude the the P90.5 million ($2.16 million) as debt payments to OWWA, funds for welfare services in the DFA would only amount to P3.05 billion ($ 71.4 million), or P792 million ($18.8 million) less than funds allotted in 2011”, Martinez said.

He also pointed out that in the DFA budget funds for assistance to nationals (ATN) are mysteriously unstated. There is only a P30 million ($714,286) minimum amount for the legal assistance fund (LAF) under the item “implementation of RA 10022, or the amended RA 8042 (Migrants’ Act).”

The LAF is for assistance for OFWs in distress, especially those in jail and death row. The ATN, in the meantime, is earmarked for services such as repatriation and medical assistance.

The Migrants Act , however, mandates that at least P100 million ($2.38 million) should be allotted for the LAF.

No transparency in the 2012 budget 

Martinez also questioned the lack of transparency in the 2012 national budget, a charge that has also been made by other sectors.

“This is highly contrary to the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) statement that there will be no lump-sum funds. Because the government did not directly lay down on paper how much will be allotted to the LAF and ATN, OFWs have been given reason to worry that their welfare will once again be neglected and the funds made vulnerable to corruption and misuse,” he said.

Martinez said Migrante International had previously exposed budget cuts in the LAF and ATN budgets for the 2011 DFA. The expose’ forced the DBM to admit its “error” and to promise to submit an “erratum” to Congress..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/18/aquino-allocates-one-percent-of-2012-budget-for-migrant-workers/

Mass actions being readied for P9 oil price rollback

Mass actions being readied for P9 oil price rollback

“It is well within the capacity of the Big Three oil companies to implement a significant rollback as their profits have steadily increased in recent years. It is simply revolting for us poor people to see the Big Three’s profits soar as oil prices rise unabated while we suffer from poverty and hunger.” – KMU

MANILA – Progressive transport and labor groups in the country are gearing up for a nationwide day of protest against the oil companies’ overpricing. This Monday, oil companies announced its long-awaited price rollbacks amid the downward trend in prices of oil products in the world market. But its rollbacks were less than the amount estimated by the energy department officials of P2 ($0.047), and far less than the “overpricing of P9” ($0.21)which independent analysts and various peoples’ organizations have previously asked the oil companies to slash.

In the budget hearing in Congress last week, the energy officials led by Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras estimated the needed roll back at P2. They told lawmakers they would investigate with the Department of Justice the oil companies who would not roll back their prices by P2.

But last Monday when most oil companies at last announced some price rollbacks, only the French newcomer Total Philippines rolled back their price by more than P2, bringing down their diesel by P2.35 ($0.055) per liter, while the price of their gasoline was lowered by just P1.50 ($0.035)per liter.

Of the Big Three, only Petron slashed by P2.50 ($0.059) the price per liter of their gasoline. Citing other “variables” affecting their prices, the Big Three including Petron lowered the prices of most of their products by less than P2, or just by P1.70 per liter of diesel and kerosene. Shell and Caltex lowered by P1.50 ($0.04) the price per liter of gasoline.

In the past, when the opposite is happening and prices of oil in the world market are rising instead of falling while more pesos are needed to purchase a dollar, an immediate and steep increase in oil prices in the Philippines usually ensues, noted George San Mateo, secretary-general of the transport group Piston.

“Immediate and steep increases when the world prices of oil increase and snail-paced and meager decreases when the world prices of oil decrease — this is where we can see the overpricing being implemented by the Big Three,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of progressive labor center KMU.

Investigate oil companies or risk looking like liars and inutile

Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño challenged the energy department to make good their threat against the oil companies. “They (DoE) should file a case against the oil companies at the justice department, or the Department of Energy would look like a liar or inutile,” said Casiño.

“It is clear that the Big Three oil companies do not fear or respect the Department of Energy to implement the meager rollback demanded by the agency,” said Labog. “The problem,” he said, “is that the DOE and the entire government do not have coercive powers over the Big Three.”

The labor group seriously doubts whether the DOE will make good its threat to investigate the Big Three’s profits. But even if the DOE does investigate, the labor group also doubts whether that will be productive. They said the Big Three “knows many magic tricks when it comes to declaring their profits.”.... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/18/mass-actions-for-p9-oil-price-rollback-being-readied/

DFA’s blanket directive for OFW repatriation in Syria not enough – Migrante

DFA’s blanket directive for OFW repatriation in Syria not enough – Migrante

“It is not for the DFA to raise an alert level and declare that there is a directive for ‘voluntary repatriation.’ What should our OFWs do? Who should they call? Where should they go?” – Migrante International

MANILA -– To leave or not to leave Syria, that is the question.

Contrary to reports of the Department of Foreign Affairs that overseas Filipino workers in Syria do not want to leave, Migrante Middle East said there are many who are calling on the Philippine government to immediately bring them home.There are 17,000 OFWs in Syria, 15,300 are women.

Migrante coordinator John Leonard Monterona said that in talks with an OFW based in Syria, it was revealed that more OFWs are desperate to come home and avoid the escalating conflict in the said country.

Monterona forwarded to Bulatlat an Mp3 file of his conversation with OFW Judith Pingol, 41, who originally hails from Manila. Pingol works as a domestic worker for a Syrian family based in Homs, northwest part of Syria. She arrived in Syria in 2008 and has already completed her employment contract.
According to reports, Homs is among the places in Syria where there are heavy clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces.

Monterona explained that he got OFW Pingol’s mobile number from another OFW who is currently staying at the Philippine Embassy’s Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in Damascus. Pingol is reportedly asking for help from the embassy because she wants to leave as soon as possible.

“The peace and order situation in Homs is getting worse as clashes happen on an almost daily basis. We hear reports of increasing number of casualties,” Pingol said. “It’s terrible here. Every day we can hear guns being fired; we hear reports of people getting killed. We don’t leave the house anymore. We stay indoors out of fear for our safety.”

Pingol said there are at least 300 OFWs in Homs.

“Some fellow OFWs have already been taken by their employers to relatives living elsewhere. Many employers themselves have left the country,” she added.

Asked with whom she is staying now, Pingol said, there are only two of them — herself and the elderly woman she is looking after.

Pingol said her family back in the Philippines is aware of the situation in Syria, but she has not said anything about how grave it is.

“I don’t want them to worry,” she said.

When Monterona asked the OFW if the Philippine embassy in Syria is giving any assistance, she answered that embassy officials do call them, advising them to take extra precautions. This moral support, Monterona said, seemed to be the extent of the Philippine authorities’ assistance.

According to Pingol, many OFWs in Syria want to leave. “We want to go home,” she said.

When Monterona asked Pingol how she thought the embassy could arrange to rescue OFWs like herself who are stuck in Syria when there’s increasing conflict, the OFW gave a wistful answer.

“Those at the embassy said they are unable to come here. They said we OFWs could get on a taxi and go to Damascus. Some of us OFWs believe that the embassy should make the effort to come and rescue us,” she said.

Repatriation assistance to all distressed OFWs

According to Monterona, the Philippine embassy currently finds it very difficult to put together an evacuation plan in areas where there is ongoing conflicts such as Homs, Latakia, Banaas and Dara’a.

“But then again, Migrante has been asserting that the Philippine government should form an evacuation plan at the soonest possible time. We first said this when the conflict in Syria first erupted. We called on the Aquino administration and the DFA to get an evacuation plan ready and make sure it is ready for immediate execution. We also said it was not right for the government to sit back and wait for the situation to worsen,” he said.

Monterona nonetheless said Migrante is constantly communicating with the Philippine embassy in Syria and the DFA so they could all coordinate in finding means to evacuate the stranded OFWs..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/17/dfas-blanket-directive-for-ofw-repatriation-in-syria-not-enough-migrante/

Mideo Cruz’ “Poleteismo” continues to stir debate

Mideo Cruz’ “Poleteismo” continues to stir debate

Artists from the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia and Thailand defended Cruz and said the campaign of vilification against Cruz was unjust.

MANILA – In the immediate wake of the Senate’s investigation into the controversial art exhibit “Kulo” and one of its featured works “Poleteismo” by embattled artist Mideo Cruz, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) issued a statement urging the senators to uphold the Freedom of Expression as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution states in Article 3, Section 4 that: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

The group reminded lawmakers of their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and desist from “bullying” and “pressuring” institutions like the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to ” succumb to their will.” It also called on the CCP to stand firm on its mandate, promote and protect the artistic freedom of expression and reopen the exhibit.

“We urge the Senate to instead focus its energies, time and budget to address the continuing human rights violations and impunity of violators in the country. There is moreover the matter of extreme poverty due to landlessness by the majority of the Filipinos which also deserves priority,” it said.

Cruz a no-show at the Senate

The Senate conducted it’s hearing on “Kulo” but Cruz did not appear. In an email to Bulatlat.com, Cruz said he was advised against it by well-meaning friends.

Finding Cruz absent, Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada said Cruz should be subpoenaed, but at the end of the hearing wherein officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the CCP attended, chairman of the Committee on Education Senator Edgardo Angara said there was no longer a need to subpoena Cruz.

Angara explained that it was not Cruz who was the subject of inquiry but the CCP as a public institution that allowed Cruz’ work to be put on display in one of its galleries.

Cruz issued a statement explaining his absence from the hearing.

He said he did not attend the hearing because it was no longer about his work but an issue of art education and the broader fight for freedom of expression. He said he was abiding by the decision of colleagues not to attend and in the process not feed his “self-serving impulse to defend my work or my person to each query, insult or threat being hurled at me.”

Controversial artist Mideo Cruz issues public apology to those offended by his “Poleteismo” but remains firm on the right of artists to create and express their views on society and issues. “I apologize if I hold a contrary view to others but I honestly believe that providing a space for a different voice is necessary for a mature society,” he said.(Photo by Ina Alleco Silverio / bulatlat.com)
“Again, I apologize if I have offended anyone. My artworks are to me, like a carpenter to his hammer, my tools to reexamine our public morals and ideals. In the end, I assume that my audience would exercise their logical decision-making to reject or accept the message or to sway them toward improving society.I apologize if I hold a contrary view to others but I honestly believe that providing a space for a different voice is necessary for mature society.”

Poleteismo fallacies 

Dean Raul Pangalangan of the UP Law School and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist said “fallacies” abounded in the furor over “Poleteismo.” Among the six fallacies he noted was the belief that if “Poleteismo” should be displayed in a private gallery and not at the CCP which is a a state instrumentality, making it complicit to an attack on religion.

“A private gallery is completely free to judge art according to its aesthetic biases. But a publicly-funded gallery is bound by a document called the Philippine Constitution, which requires it to respect ‘freedom of speech and of expression’ (Article III, Sec. 4) and ‘foster … a Filipino national culture … in a climate of free artistic and intellectual expression’ (Article XIV, Sec. 14). By shutting down Kulô, the government is reduced to being the henchman of the neighborhood thug,” he said..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/17/mideo-cruz-poleteismo-continues-to-stir-debate/

Ex-military official vows to tell all on ’04 poll fraud By Mario J. Mallari and Gerry Baldo 08/20/2011

Ex-military official vows to tell all on ’04 poll fraud

By Mario J. Mallari and Gerry Baldo 08/20/2011

A former military official who appeared before the Mayuga Board in 2005, yesterday vowed to tell all he knows before any investigating body regarding the alleged massive electoral fraud in 2004, particularly in Mindanao areas, as he expressed full support to the possible reinvestigation of the issue which continuously haunts the military organization.

Retired Col. Jose Gamos noted that the Mayuga Board, headed by then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Inspector General Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga, was “restrained and subdued” in conducting its probe during the time of former President, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

“I am ready to face any investigation, even the Senate, and tell what I know,” said Gamos during an interview. “And I would like to encourage others who have knowledge of the election fraud to come out and tell the truth,” he added.

The Department of National Defense (DND) is currently conducting a review of the findings and conclusion of the Mayuga Board on orders of President Aquino..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110820hed2.html

Ping: LTA has millions in dollar bank accounts By Angie M. Rosales and Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 08/20/2011


Ping: LTA has millions in dollar bank accounts

By Angie M. Rosales and Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 08/20/2011

Even as the issue of the ownership of the controversial helicopter and its sale remain unresolved, Sen. Panfilo Lacson again came up with another allegation against the Arroyos which he admitted would still undergo a check.

The Arroyo family’s LTA Inc., was charged by Lacson to be keeping a dollar account that made remittances to banks abroad in the millions and in foreign currencies.

The alleged remittances, some of which are suspected to cover the payments allegedly made by the former First Gentleman in buying five helicopters sometime in 2004, are now being looked into by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) as the amounts appear to have exceeded the allowed threshhold or possibly fall under the category of a suspicious transaction.

“They (AMLC) promised to give us a feedback soon,” Lacson said after relaying to the AMLC officials, during Thursday’s budget hearing of the purported $1 million.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110820hed1.html

Lawyer dares Lacson to trace P150-M check 08/20/2011

Lawyer dares Lacson to trace P150-M check

The camp of former police officer Cezar Mancao II has challenged Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to trace the P150-million check deposited in the account of his former aide and key witness in the Dacer-Corbtio killings and even offered to turn over the proceeds of that account to him if he can trace it.

According to lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Mancao received a P150-million check but stressed that it was a payment for a business transaction.

He said the amount was deposited in a joint account of Mancao and his former business partner.
Mancao did not receive any money, Topacio added. “It was for one of his partners.”

He said the check even bounced due to insufficiency of funds.

Mancao did not receive any money, Topacio added. “It was for one of his partners.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110820hed3.html

‘RH must go hand-in-hand with budget bill’ By Charlie V. Manalo 08/20/2011

‘RH must go hand-in-hand with budget bill’

By Charlie V. Manalo 08/20/2011

Saying that no amount of increase in the budgetary appropriations could suffice if the inordinate population growth is not checked, a senior member of the House of Representatives yesterday called on his colleagues to accord the Reproductive Health Bill (RHB) the same priority as that of the the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the principal author of the RHB, made this call as he underscored that “no amount of trillion-peso of appropriations will be adequate if the increase in the national budget is eroded by an inordinate population growth because parents, couples and women are not fully afforded the right to responsibly and freely determine the number and spacing of their children.”

The priority enactment of the RHB was recently given presidential imprimatur and has been included as one of the additional priority bills of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac).

Lagman, who was the chairman of the committee on appropriations during the First Session of the 14th Congress, said that the complementarities of the RHB and the GAB are clear in the following major instances:.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110820nat3.html

Palparan’s aide tagged in coeds abduction By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/20/2011

Palparan’s aide tagged in coeds abduction

By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/20/2011

A security aide of retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan was charged before the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the abduction of two missing University of the Philippines student-activists five years ago.

Military intelligence officer Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio was named in an amended complaint filed by mothers of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño as among those who purportedly abducted the two in Bulacan in June 2006.

He was included based on the testimony of eyewitness Wilfredo Ramos, who positively identified Osorio through a photograph presented by the Armed Forces during preliminary investigation of charges of torture and abduction against Palparan and other respondents.

Ramos claimed he saw Osorio during the earlier hearing last July 19 when the latter gave him an “intimidating look.” Osorio’s identity was provided by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Provost Marshal Gen. Col. Herbert Yambing, who also detailed the soldier’s records in the Army..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110820nat2.html

‘Iggy’ can be charged with tax evasion case — ‘JV,’ Bag-ao By Gerry Baldo 08/20/2011

‘Iggy’ can be charged with tax evasion case — ‘JV,’ Bag-ao

By Gerry Baldo 08/20/2011

Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo could be liable for tax evasion charges if it is proved he really owned the helicopters sold as brand new to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Rep. Ignacio Arroyo could end up in jail because of his attempt to exculpate his elder brother, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, from criminal liability in the controversial sale of the helicopters.

Ejercito also noted the former First Gentleman might not be aware that he is putting his younger brother in a precarious position by clearing himself of liability in the scam.

“Walang konsyensya (He has no conscience),” Ejercito said of Mike Arroyo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110820met1.html

Four lawmakers say Alvarez cannot be faulted for rampant smuggling at BoC 08/20/2011

Four lawmakers say Alvarez cannot be faulted for rampant smuggling at BoC

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez should be given the benefit of the doubt as head of the second largest revenue earner of government since reinventing the agency is without doubt a Herculean task.

At least four congressmen shared this belief and came to the defense of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) chief’s leadership, even as some colleagues in the Lower House demanded his ouster, the most persistent being the representative from Zambales, for allegedly failing to stop rampant smuggling activities at the country’s major ports.

The more level-headed congressmen agreed that Alvarez could not be faulted for what was happening at the agency.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and Batangas Rep. Tomas Apacible all said Alvarez should be given a chance to prove his worth at the BoC..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110820met2.html

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