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Free the Chief Justice Written by Herman Tiu Laurel Monday

Monday, July 9, 2012

Free the Chief Justice

Since the gates opened on the jockeying for the position of Philippine Supreme Court (SC) chief justice (CJ), the horses that have entered the race have reached ridiculous numbers.

That was the prevailing sentiment we got over lunch with some media men and politicos, where one top editor of a major daily even exclaimed, “How many are now in the race?  Sixty?  The noise in the jostling for the CJ post is now like a market place!”

It happened just a day after lawyers Bono Adaza and Alan Paguia, along with Jojo Borja and myself, filed a petition before the SC — at the height of last week’s rains — for it to issue a “Certiorari and Prohibition with a Prayer for a TRO, Writ of Preliminary versus President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC)” to stop the continuing malpractice of the presidential appointment of the chief magistrate, which debases and subjugates the highest judicial official of the land and the supposedly independent body he or she leads.

Sadly, there were no press or media people who covered the filing last Tuesday, partly due to the heavy rains and widespread flooding. The chief of reporters of Destiny Cable’s Global News Network (GNN), for instance, texted that his people were constrained from covering the event as they were assigned to various flood relief centers. And while the same must have been true for the other media outfits, we decided to bring the campaign to the media kapihans in order to better inform the public on the issues involved.

At the Friday Rembrandt media forum, both Adaza and Paguia presented the case while I distributed a press statement announcing the launching of the Movement for Chief Justice Independence (MCJI), a campaign to generate public awareness and support for freeing the Chief Justice from presidential influence and control through the current malpractice of presidential appointment.

While the petition was jumpstarted when a number of volunteers pitched in for the cost of its filing, the media support was even more impressive.

In all the forums we pitched this proposal to, we never failed to elicit the support of all those in attendance. On the legal question, Adaza and Paguia presented indisputable evidence by first citing the provisions of the Constitution and then asking any doubters to point to any statement assigning to the JBC the power to nominate and to the President the power to appoint the CJ.

As Paguia repeatedly stresses, since it is a question of fact, all the legal doubters need to do is point to any constitutional proviso that grants such powers — when, in fact, there is absolutely none.

Thus, Adaza writes, “The reason why other Presidents got away with violating the Constitution is due to the fact that no citizen had questioned their authority. Now, there are citizens who are concerned with the rape of the Constitution by public officials and the drift of the rule of law in this country, that there is need to stop this unconstitutional practice in the national interest.”

To this writer’s surprise, some newspapers carried the item last Friday suggesting that our petition was dismissed, with some even saying “one down, two to go,” referring to the three petitions questioning the current conduct of the nominations by the JBC. If that were true, it would only indicate uncharacteristic haste and, therefore, betray a fear of something in our petition — for how could it be dismissed in three days when the SC justices hardly have enough time to study the many petitions pending before them for close to six months?

Thankfully, a careful reading indicates that only the petition of a certain Famela Dulay, whose arguments do not coincide with ours, has been dismissed, which means that our fight goes on.

Ever since we aired our appeal for support, many more have come to our aid. In addition to all those we acknowledged in a previous column, our heartfelt thanks also go out to Mr. Poem Gratela, as well as a doctor and a rural banker who requested not to be named. We also thank this donor from Bicol who thoughtfully sent us delicacies from his native province. Rest assured that your being part of this movement fuels us to continue pursuing this case.  And as we await official action, we will never be deterred by any attempt at misinformation or disinformation.

The logic of ending the malpractice of the President appointing the CJ must prevail if we are to uphold the independence of the Judiciary and the principles of “separation of powers” and “checks-and-balance.”  Only then can we begin to enhance the dream of an authentic democracy for our nation.

Even so, there are other advocacies that we must take the cudgels for, such as the water issue.

Last Saturday, we heard the presentation of Gloria Dalida and Rodolfo Javellana Jr. of Water for All Refund Movement (Warm) on their petition vs Manny Pangilinan, the Consunji Group, and a long list of respondents on the scam in our privatized water services, which is as huge a scam as that in the power sector. Hopefully, we’ll have them on our GNN show in the coming days to link them up with all our fellow electricity advocates.

So as we jostle in the legal arena, there must be similar action in other fronts to make for a holistic and authentic democratic order. Our nation must unite against the exploitation and oppression of the local and global oligarchs, who conspire to squeeze the people into abject poverty and helpless prostration.  We must not wait any longer.

(Watch Destiny Cable GNN’s HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m., this week with senatorial candidate Joey de Venecia; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

(Reprinted with permission from Ka Mentong)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/item/1287-free-the-chief-justice

Mining the miners

Mining the miners

The still unseen Palace executive order (EO) on the mining industry is several things to different interests.

To mining companies, the EO is long-delayed that resulted in the stunting of growth in an industry that has the potential of earning for the country hundreds of billions of dollars.

To those opposed to harsh effects of big-scale mining, the time it took for Noynoy to finally come up with the EO is testament that it will be greatly watered down when it is finally unveiled to the public.

The EO fleshes out the policy of the administration of Noynoy for an industry that has long been a paradox for many past administrations.

The influence of the Roman Catholic Church on the crafting of any policy on mining is a given and interest groups, legitimate or otherwise, run to the prelates to have their voices heard by the government on issues related to mining operations.

Mining companies, which mostly have giant world prospectors as partners, believe that they are sitting on a literal trove of mineral riches that are unequaled in any part of the world..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/editorial/item/1291-mining-the-miners

Show of force: Syria conducts major drills amid Western pressure (VIDEO)

Show of force: Syria conducts major drills amid Western pressure (VIDEO)

Syria`s military has launched a series of large-scale exercises starting with naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea. The move is thought to be targeted at the West to demonstrate Syria`s capacity to defend its borders.

On Saturday Syria`s naval forces engaged in a military exercise whereby they repelled an aggressive attack at sea. The warships in tandem with launch vehicles fired several missiles, all of which hit their targets with high precision, the country`s SANA agency reports.

The exercise was attended by high profile military officials, including Syria`s Defense Minister Gen. Dawood Rajha.

Air and ground forces are also expected to join the exercise, which will continue over the next few days..... MORE


URL: http://www.rt.com/news/syria-major-military-exercise-674/

Russia and Iran must participate in Syria solution - Annan (w/ Video)

Russia and Iran must participate in Syria solution - Annan

Kofi Annan said on Saturday that despite Washington’s harsh rhetoric, there was ‘no alternative’ to Russia’s participation in a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. He also said Iran was ‘an actor that cannot be ignored’.

In an interview with Le Monde on Saturday, UN special Syrian Envoy Kofi Annan said that the “evidence suggests his plans for peace had not yet succeeded”, and that there was “no guarantee” that negotiations would ever be successful.

He also, however, stressed that there was no other alternative besides cooperation on a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis..... MORE


URL: http://www.rt.com/news/russia-iran-syria-annan-664/

Deadly mix at Smokey Mountain

Deadly mix at Smokey Mountain

Instead of the promised multibillion-peso redevelopment of that sorry blot called Smokey Mountain after Edsa I, what we have is a monument to folly. Far from being transformed into a dynamic enclave of the empowered dis-possessed, it has turned for the worse. Instead of just hosting a “mountain of garbage,” it now also hosts a “coal mountain” as Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones exposed recently.

Worse, the residents of the unfinished model community now have to contend with paying exorbitant fees for their basic utilities like power and water courtesy of the concessionaires which were only too happy to “re-connect” the families to the basics at the cost of an arm and a leg.

It appears that only the contractor/developer — the Reghis Romero Group of Companies — not the residents has its fortunes turn for the better. Such has been the sad turn of events that the Romero Group has been able to parlay that original contract into multibillion-peso other joint ventures with government including, by some magical arrangement, putting up a coal yard at its reclaimed Harbour Centre despite the existing Writ of Kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court on such undertakings within the Manila Bay influenced areas..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/item/1288-deadly-mix-at-smokey-mountain

Crying for justice Written by Charlie V. Manalo Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Crying for justice

Just when they thought they had finally claimed justice, compensated for the long years of work they had rendered the now defunct Pantranco, union members of the Pantanco Employees Association (PEA) and the Pantranco Retrenched Employees Association (PANREA)  suffered another stab in the back, ironically coming from the very institution supposed to protect them: the government of the republic.

Last May 21, after almost three decades of trying to claim their separation pay from the defunct bus line, members of the PEA and the PANREA were finally able to dispose of Pantranco’s 489 expired bus franchises which they had acquired a payment for their claims from the company sequestered by the government during the term of President Noynoy Aquino’s late mother, Cory Aquino, to several bus companies, owned by the Hernandez family.

However, as the sale of the expired franchises had time and again, since 1993, been denied by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the latest of which was in Jan. 5 this year, the sale had been questioned, prompting Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas to enter  the picture and blocked the sale.

Reportedly, Roxas blocked the sale of the expired bus franchises based on the provisions of the law prohibiting the trade of franchises commercially. Again, legal minds are one in saying franchise is merely a privilege and not a commodity..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/commentary/item/1338-crying-for-justice

Watering down the Milk Code

 Watering down the Milk Code

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — The phrase “breast milk is still best for babies” has become a byword in commercials and labels on infant formula milk thanks to the Milk Code which mandates this marking on the packaging of formula milk.

The Milk Code, known as Executive Order 51, is now on its 25th year. The Code encourages the practice of breastfeeding for infants. A study shows that four of 10 mothers provide their infants breast milk, a practice that health experts cite to have reduced infant mortality and increased protection from illnesses. The Code also limits marketing and commercials of formula milk to children aged three and up.

But these labels might soon be erased as House Bill 3396 seeks among others to amend restrictions in the Code and allow aggressive marketing of infant formula milk catering to infants as young as six months.

The amendments have breastfeeding advocates in Davao fighting to stop the bill. Mommy Sense, a Davao-based breastfeeding support group gathered last June 16 to point out that the bill may erode the gains in the advocacy on breastfeeding and add burden to Filipino families to put up with the cost of formula milk.
The draft bill, “An Act Promoting Comprehensive Program on Breastfeeding Practices and Regulating the Trade, Marketing and Promotions of Certain foods for Infants and Children,” has the following amendments:

• removing marketing restrictions on formula milk products
• removing the mandated labels on milk products that promote breast milk and cite the dangers of formula feeding
• disentitle working mothers in which their salaries will be deducted due to lactation breaks of 40 minutes per day
• allow direct advertising or giving of samples or supplies in hospitals and other health institutions, or mother-baby events.

Alexandria Hao and Lyn Tan, co-founders of Mommy Sense, said these amendments undermine the benefits of breast milk which are far and wide..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/07/06/watering-down-the-milk-code/

Arman: caring brother, conscientious activist, defender of the oppressed

Ka Arman: caring brother, conscientious activist, defender of the oppressed

Arman Albarillo dedicated his life to caring for his family, but the extrajudicial killing of his parents by soldiers led to his political awakening, which made him embrace an extended family: the oppressed.

MANILA – Nanay Pacing, a petite woman in her 50s, broke into tears as though she lost a son.

“It is difficult to accept that we have lost him,” the old woman said at the wake of Arman Albarillo, former secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog (Bayan-ST) and in 2009, a New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla who died in an encounter last June 30 in San Andres, Quezon, south of Manila.

“It is because of him that we still have a roof above our heads,” Nanay Pacing, one of the residents of sitio Kabute in Real, Calamba, Laguna, said during the tribute for Arman in a church in Quezon City.

She narrated how they met. It was during the early part of January 2008 when the houses of some 100 families were demolished. They sought temporary shelter at the nearby covered court. “Not one among the barangay or municipal officials offered us help. One day, while we were at the City Hall, Ka Arman saw some of us crying. He went to us, inquired about our situation and started organizing us,”
Nanay Pacing related. At that time, Arman was secretary general of Bayan-ST.

“Four years passed by and despite the harassment by soldiers encamped inside our community, we stayed put because of what Ka Arman taught us –that we have rights, too,” Nanay Pacing said.

It is not surprising how Arman was able to win the hearts of the poor. He knew poverty like the palm of his hands.

A caring brother

Before becoming an activist, Arman was an ordinary worker. Born from a peasant family in San Teodoro, Mindoro Oriental, Arman had helped augment the family income since he was 17. Together with his eldest brother, Arman worked as a construction worker in Makati.

“He would go home only during special occasions,” Bonsai, one of Arman’s four sisters, said. He has three brothers.

Like a typical big brother, Bonsai said, Arman was “quite strict” especially with the way his sisters dress. “He was so conservative; he did not want us to wear sleeveless, short skirts or any of that kind. We were only able to put lipstick when he was not around,” Bonsai said, smiling.

“Whenever we had problems and we turned to him, he would not mince words to warn us against making wrong decisions,” Bonsai said. “Yet, after scolding us, he would also make us laugh.”

Bonsai said she would not forget what her kuya (older brother) did on her wedding day. She was crying so hard minutes before the ceremony because the hair stylist cut her hair short. “Kuya Arman went to me and said, ‘Ne, stop crying. It’s okay’ and he carried me on his arms until I stopped crying,” Bonsai recalled. She was 24..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/07/08/ka-arman-caring-brother-conscientious-activist-defender-of-the-oppressed/

Aquino allies revive Cha-cha

Aquino allies revive Cha-cha


Efforts to tinker with the Constitution have been resurrected and a meeting between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has been scheduled to discuss possible changes that can be introduced in the 1987 Charter, Sen. Joker Arroyo said.

Arroyo added the move is gaining ground in the Senate, with him acceding to proposals to introduce changes in Constitution.
Arroyo also perceives Malacañang as being behind the revived discussions on the possibility of initiating moves for Charter change (Cha-cha) to take off when Congress reopens its third regular session this month.

The senator, however, appeared amenable in revisiting not only the economic provisions but also the present structure of government “where the President is more powerful now than (under) the previous constitutions.”
“For 25 years, this 1987 Constitution, we have not touched it. By every reasoning, we should change it. The Constitution (was amended) in 1986 (because) it was in response to the difficulties we had during the martial law,” Arroyo said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/1322-aquino-allies-revive-cha-cha

Groups blast mining EO as rehash of old policies

Groups blast mining EO as rehash of old policies

Tribune photo
Even before the Palace releases today the details of the Executive Order (EO) on mining signed by President Aquino last Thursday, various groups assailed it as being no different from previous policies that do not address the root of the conflict between mining operations and the communities where the projects are located.

Instead, the new mining policy could make conflict caused by the industry even worse, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said, adding the new EO on mining is no different from other past policies.

Bastes said the new EO is expected to create more division between the local stakeholders and the government.

According to Aquino’s deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, small-scale mining operations and revenue sharing between the national and local governments will be the highlights of the signed EO that is seen to define the national policy in an industry from where the government gets significant part of its total annual revenue.

Valte described the new mining EO as a product of consultations with stakeholders of the mining sector. She added that the EO has had a number of revisions during the period in which it was being drafted by the environment cluster created by the President to solicit inputs from various sectors which have something to do with the mining industry, whether they be pro or against it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/1320-groups-blast-mining-eo-as-rehash-of-old-policies

Palace imposes news blackout on China row

Malacañang is keeping its lips sealed tightly over the details of the executive session President Aquino called last Thursday that included the entire Cabinet and two top senators to supposedly formulate plans to address the deadlock between China and the Philippines over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

For now, we’re taking it under wraps, Aquino’s deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said on media queries about the result of the top-level meeting.

Valte said that the public can deduce what transpired at the meeting through the moves that the Aquino administration will now take to address the dispute.

“Well, people will always speculate. But it is best if we just wait until concrete steps are being taken. That I suppose will be the time that we can talk about it,” Valte said.

“What we’re saying is that the public would eventually see what transpired at the executive session and learn of the government decision on the China conflict. Of course, that will be talked about. But as of the moment, everything is under wraps,” Valte reiterated.

A Palace critic in the Senate supported the virtual news blackout and President Aquino’s order for his underlings to refrain from making statements that may aggravate the country’s territorial dispute with China, adding that the Executive should instead use quiet diplomacy to resolve the tension.

“It’s good that President  Aquino zipped up the lips of his officials. Everybody is talkative. Everybody is an expert in diplomacy. Matters like this, require quiet diplomacy, restraint,” Sen. Joker Arroyo said...... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines/item/1319-palace-imposes-news-blackout-on-china-row

RP airports on alert vs mystery Cambodian disease

The Philippines has stepped up screening of airport arrivals to prevent the entry of a mysterious disease that has killed 60 children in Cambodia since April, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said on Saturday.

“We are more vigilant in screening passengers at the country’s international airports because of this latest news and there will be no let-up until this has been contained,” Ona told reporters.

He stressed that there were no travel restrictions to Cambodia despite the alert.

The unidentified disease has killed 60 young children in Cambodia in three months, the World Health Organization (WHO) said earlier this week as it raced to identify the cause.

The symptoms include high fever and severe chest disease symptoms with some children showing signs of “neurological involvement,” the WHO said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/nation/item/1313-rp-airports-on-alert-vs-mystery-cambodian-disease

Two million eel fingerlings bound for HK seized at NAIA

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) confiscated  some two  million eel fingerlings bound for Hong Kong at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

BFAR Director Asis Perez said the shipment of 46 boxes containing the elvers was brought to the Miascor Cargo early Sunday morning for shipment to Hong Kong  on board a Cathay Pacific flight.

The cargo forwarders, identified as Expertrans Philippines Inc., abandoned the shipment at the warehouse after receiving reports that they lacked import permits.

Customs examiners got suspicious about the cargoes, which were all labelled as “perishable items-foodstuff,” forcing them to inspect the  contents..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/1277-two-million-eel-fingerlings-bound-for-hk-seized-at-naia

QC gov’t regulates use of plastic bags all over city

The administration of Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista has stepped up the no-nonsense implementation of an ordinance that calls for the regulation on the use of plastic bags all over the city.

Determined to inculcate in the minds of the residents the need to follow the measure to the letter, city officials led by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte hosted last Friday a forum aimed primarily at informing the public of how to reduce the city’s production of plastic waste.

“This is Quezon City’s commitment in building a truly green and sustainable city,” said the vice mayor who was accompanied by key city officials in welcoming the forum participants at the QC Hall Bulwagan.
Compared to other cities adopting a total ban on plastic use, Belmonte said the city government has just favored to regulate the use of plastics to give residents ample time to integrate the system in their behavior or attitude.

“Going green must not only be lip service.  There has to be attitude and behavioral change,” Belmonte said.      

Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, author of ordinances SP-2140, otherwise known as the “QC Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance” and SP-2103, and the city’s task force on plastic bag reduction have joined efforts to mount the forum which highlights the local government’s determined effort to regulate the use of plastic bags in the city, especially in QC-based business establishments..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/1279-qc-gov%E2%80%99t-regulates-use-of-plastic-bags-all-over-city

NPC head lambasts order evicting two press corps from DoJ building

The National Press Club (NPC) has condemned the decision of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to evict from its building premises the two recognized press corps based on an alleged report by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) that members of the press have become a “security threat” to its officials.

“We find the DoJ’s action suspicious; this is a ‘cloaked censorship’ aimed at restraining the media from gathering information, especially from officials and personalities who are connected with the office of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima,” NPC president Benny Antiporda said.

He noted the two press corps at the DoJ main building, Jucra (Justice and Court Reporters Association) and Juror (Justice Reporters Organization), have been staying on the same floor where the office of De Lima is located so they can immediately gather news on important issues that need the immediate reaction of the justice secretary.

The Jucra has been holding office at the DoJ since 1977 while the Juror has also been given accommodation by the department since the 1980s, during the time of President Corazon Aquino..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/1276-npc-head-lambasts-order-evicting-two-press-corps-from-doj-building

Another suspect in assassination try on Tribune’s reporter falls in Pasig

Another gunman behind the slay try on the Daily Tribune reporter Fernan Angeles last March was arrested but not by the task force created to go after the newsman’s assailants but by the lowly cops assigned to the community precinct.

Junior Ambor, also known as Junior Buang and Junior Praning, was arrested with several other individuals following a call complaining against a group of armed men along Baltazar Street in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City  bullying residents, extorting money from people and poking guns at those who refused to give.

Angeles, who has resumed writing for the Tribune since May, was advised by community precinct commander Senior Insp. Cesario Tubog to come to the police station to identify one of the suspects they arrested. As it turned out, one of their hauls was positively identified as the one who fired the second shot that hit Angeles in the back.

Tubog personally led the team that went to arrest Ambor and his gang. Seized from Ambor was a short firearm of unknown caliber..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/metro-section/item/1275-another-suspect-in-assassination-try-on-tribune%E2%80%99s-reporter-falls-in-pasig

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