June 2011

EDITORIAL
By Perry Diaz
Global Balita

President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III started his presidency with a big bang!  “No wang-wang, no counterflow, no tong,” he declared.  And taking a vow of servitude, he told the people, “You are my boss!”  That was on June 30, 2010, when he took his solemn oath of office before Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.  He said he’d fight corruption and poverty as he promised during the campaign, “Walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” He promised change and vowed to institute reforms.

But like any on-the-job training, P-Noy made mistakes; some were minor and some were major, major boo-boos.  As the saying goes, you learn from your mistakes; however, P-Noy doesn’t seem to recognize the mistakes he made.  So, how would he learn if he doesn’t admit – or acknowledge – his mistakes?

Promises made

P-Noy promised to fight corruption but today corruption is still rampant and the corrupt are still scot-free.  And worse, they’re still in government doing shady business as usual.

He promised to fight poverty but today unemployment and hunger continue to rise.

He promised to fight crime but today warlords, jueteng lords, and crime syndicates are untouchable.

He promised to stop extrajudicial killings but today activists and journalists are being murdered with impunity.

He promised reforms but today not a single legislation for genuine reform is enacted.  The Freedom of Information bill, which he promised to pursue before taking office, is in limbo.  Many believe that his main fear of FOI is that it might be used against him and his administration.  Why?  Is he hiding something from the public?

He promised to divest the Hacienda Luisita within five years and deed the land to the tenants.  But it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen during his presidency.  Indeed, agrarian reform is in the back burner and doesn’t seem like P-Noy would even look into it.  As he often would say, it’s not his priority.

During the 2010 presidential campaign, P-Noy’s first promise was to recover the Marcos loot.  But when he was declared the winner, one of his first announcements was that he had reconciled with the Marcoses.

When the Supreme Court affirmed with finality his uncle Danding Cojuangco’s ownership of 20% of San Miguel Corporation shares of stock, P-Noy didn’t even say a word!  It is the contention of coconut farmers that Danding’s shares of stock originated from the coco levy funds, which were forcibly collected from them by the Marcos dictatorship.  One can then say that the coco levy funds were part of the “Marcos loot” that P-Noy promised to recover during the campaign.

During his inaugural address, P-Noy held a piece of paper of which copies were distributed to selected leaders of the civil society.  It was his “Social Contract With the Filipino People,” which says in part, “From a President who tolerates corruption to a President who is the nation’s first and most determined fighter of corruption; From a government that merely conjures economic growth statistics that our people know to be unreal to a government that prioritizes jobs that empower the people and provide them with opportunities to rise above poverty.” Together, with their right hands raised, they pledged to be true to the spirit of the contract.

But one year after P-Noy swore by that contract, not much progress has been made to fulfill the promises.  In essence, he is in breach of that contract.

But let’s give P-Noy more time and the slack he needs to fulfill his contract.  Let’s see how he’s going to change the government’s state of inertia – from “inertia at rest” to “inertia in motion” – in his second year.  Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion can be summed up as follows: “Inertia is the difficulty with which a body at rest is able to be moved or a body in motion is made to stop.”

Does P-Noy have the energy to move the government’s state from inertia at rest to inertia in motion?  And once his government is in a state of inertia in motion, there is no stopping it unless a stronger energy is exerted to counter and bring it to rest.

In a nutshell, P-Noy’s first year in office was full of high expectations and broken promises.  Indeed, it can be said that it was a year when the government stood still.

Mr. President, what are you going to do about it?

by RG Cruz
ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – Allies of former President and now Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are not the only ones panning the first year performance of her successor, President Benigno Aquino III.

Different groups like the Kabataan party-list, Bayan Muna, Anakbayan, and Migrante in separate statements gave Aquino failing marks for his job.

In reference to “The Transformers” movie franchise’s third installment, Kabataan Party-list called Aquino “the Decepticon” for supposedly “being a deceitful copycat of former President Macapagal-Arroyo and for failing to fulfill his promise of change on his first year in office.”

“Decepticon” is a reference to the shape-shifting villains in the Transformers movie and animation series.

Kabataan Party-list secretary general Athena Gardon claimed that Aquino could be worse than Arroyo, noting that the current President is still continuing in different forms the policies of the Arroyo administration.

“President Aquino merely repackaged the same policies of past administrations especially that of former President Macapagal-Arroyo. With the rate things are going, President Aquino could turn out to be even worse than Arroyo,” he said.

Anakbayan, in a separate statement, called Aquino a “loser.” “‘LOSER’ si Aquino dahil wala talaga itong nagawa sa unang taon pa lamang niya. Sa halip na magpatupad ng tunay at pangmatagalang reporma, ‘sa isang kurap, dumami lalo ang mahirap’ sa ilalim ng kaniyang panunungkulan.”

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño said Aquino betrayed his own mantra of ‘daang matuwid’ after the administration failed to ensure the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill. “In fact, it was the President’s men who put up the road blocks for its immediate passage, in cooperation with the loyalists of the previous administration,” he said.

Migrante International, meanwhile, said that Aquino’s first year in office is “arguably the worst year for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).”

“Since Aquino took his oath, it has been especially more grueling for OFWs and their families. Policy-wise, there are no indications that things will get better. Through these all, it has become more apparent that Aquino is no different from Arroyo. Pareho lang sila negosyo sa halip na serbisyo, koleksyon sa halip na proteksyon para sa mga OFW,” Migrante chairperson Gary Martinez said in a statement.

Migrante took Aquino to task for his alleged ineptitude in dealing with OFW problems in the Middle East, drug trafficking cases in China, legal assistance for OFWs facing cases overseas, alleged corruption in the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and higher fees for OFWs.

Labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) gave Aquino a failing mark, specifically for allegedly making the Philippine Airlines (PAL) “the flag carrier” of his labor contractualization policy and for perpetuating the country’s pro-capitalist economic policies.

PM Chair Renato Magtubo said, “PNoy failed labor the very first day he assumed office and he continues to do so by making labor contractualization his major policy stand.”

The group called on Aquino to work on the following: regular jobs, not contractual employment; public employment program for the jobless; health care coverage for all; and, moratorium on demolitions, evictions, and foreclosures.

The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) tried to be more constructive.

ALU national vice-president Gerard Seno said they want to see Aquino succeed in all his policies and priorities that will “enhance Filipino workers’ rights and their capability to cope with the ever rising costs of basic commodities and services.”

Palace defenders

Malacañan, meanwhile, is not lacking defenders.

House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III said, “Let us be fair. PNoy should be measured based on what he set out in his first SoNA (State of the Nation Address).”

Tañada, spokesperson of the Liberal Party (LP), said people rating the President should also place themselves in his shoes.

“P-Noy inherited the biggest budget deficit, the ‘land mines’ in the different departments and line agencies, the corruption that was embedded. This is the reason why his 2011 SoNA should now be bolder in laying down the road map. The 2010 SoNA is basically a ‘where we are, what do we have, how can we address the land mines,” he said.

“The President wanted to be measured based on what can be done and actually be measured,” he added.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said, “The President might need some adjustments with respect to his public relations skills, and his communications people might need to work harder to bring across the message of reform which is the core foundation of the Aquino administration. But overall, the President has done excellently well in achieving much of his campaign commitments.”

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said, “(Aquino) has done extremely well both as President and as an icon of good governance. I think that despite all the criticisms thrown at his administration, nobody, not even the opposition, can dispute that fact that things are getting better for our country and for our people.”

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, “In the span of a year, we have seen several upgrades in our credit ratings, landmark policies and laws for economic and political reform, increased private domestic investments, hundreds of thousands of jobs generated leading to a decrease in unemployment, and other indicators of our country’s steady march toward progress. These are all proof that our people’s optimism is well-founded.”

“No amount of naysaying will derail us from the straight and righteous path. If anything, these orchestrated attacks against the accomplishments of this new system of good governance only strengthen our resolve to continue building on our successes of the past year,” he added.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/06/30/11/pnoys-1st-year-pros-and-cons

SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH
By Ernesto M. Maceda
The Philippine Star

The following made their assessments:

1. Archbishop Oscar Cruz, no achievement except for wang-wang;

2. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, nobody home, the economy decelerating;

3. Sergio Ortiz Luis, PCCI president, there is still corruption;

4. Senator Chiz Escudero, not slow but deliberate;

5. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, only one year, give him more time;

6. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, low grade in curbing corruption;

7. Sen. Manuel Villar, the economic growth did not improve the lot of the poor;

8. Migrante, 65 percent, failed to protect OFWs in the Middle East;

9. Harvey Keh, Kaya Natin president, 85 percent grade;

10. Rigoberto Tiglao, the Porsche presidency, idiosyncratically, sybaritic image;

11. Katrina Legarda, law professor, not just well intentioned, capable. I am not unhappy;

12. Solita Monsod, out of 10 point agenda, passing grade is only in 3 promises. At a scale of 1-10, 10 for zero based budgeting, 0 for failure to submit the Freedom of Information bill, 4 for the administration of justice, among others.

13. Alex Magno, UP professor, the President is unduly defensive;

14. Nines Cacho Olivarez — Tribune editor, he is really a do-nothing President;

15. Ernesto Hilario, Business Mirror columnist, Mr. Aquino is fast emerging as a traditional politician who doesn’t think twice about rewarding his allies and supporters with the spoils of victory;

16. Congressman Danny Suarez, expect the worst;

17. Gabriela Party List Rep. Luz Ilagan, stop being emotional and onion skinned. He should be open to criticisms;

18. Emil Jurado, Standard Today columnist, there is disenchantment and frustration in the air.

19. Felino Palafox Jr., MAP president, barely passing mark of 75 percent.

To be generous, it was an uninspiring performance.

* * *

The top headline stories for the year:

1. Luneta Hostage Taking crisis;

2. The Supreme Court declares the Truth Commission unconstitutional;

3. The 2011 budget is passed on time with the P21.2 B CCT intact;

4. Jose “Ping” de Jesus resigns as DOTC Secretary;

5. Mar Roxas is appointed DOTC Secretary;

6. Bilibid corruption exposed. BUCOR Director Ernesto Diokno resigns;

7. House of Representatives vote to impeach Merceditas Gutierrez with overwhelming vote;

8. Merceditas Gutierrez resigns as Ombudsman;

9. Dispute with China on the Spratlys erupts;

10. A series of typhoons, calamities hit the country, the latest being the Taal Lake fishkill and widespread floods in Mindanao;

* * *

OCHOA INTERVIEW. . . In a one hour interview over ANC by Pia Hontiveros, Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr. revealed that the best points of President Aquino are his sincerity, his political family background and his expertise in music and sound.

He admitted that in the 2010 campaign, he worked exclusively for President Aquino’s candidacy, recruiting IBP officers into the campaign, but said he voted for Mar Roxas.

He admitted that as a young lawyer, he run for Mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan but lost.

He said that as Executive Secretary, he decides on all legal matters and appeals from the different departments.

It was an interesting interview, but no hard questions were asked like why he rejected the ICRC report of DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima on the Luneta Hostage crisis and why no action was taken against DILG Usec Rico E. Puno. He was also not asked to reveal the 3 Cabinet Members who submit bad news and cause headaches for the President.

He denied that the Marcos, Ochoa, Serapio and Tan (MOST) law office is the new version of “the FIRM”.

* * *

TRY A WOMAN. . . Elizabeth Lee who has just resigned as president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and as CEO of Universal Motors Corporation is being considered for the job of Commissioner of Customs. It might be good to appoint a qualified woman as Customs Commissioner for a change.

But Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is still protective of Commissioner Angelito Alvarez and insists he will not be replaced. Mr. Secretary, are you blind to open smuggling now going on in the different ports? Do you condone the consistent monthly short collection of BOC target collections with the latest report on the May collections being P6 billion short of the P26 billion target?

Look around at Divisoria, Baclaran, Greenhills San Juan and Quiapo and you will see the proliferation of smuggled laptops, cellphones, appliances and other goods.

* * *

GOOD NEWS. . . The US State Department has removed the Philippines from the Human Trafficking Watch List, Tier I. This is one achievement the Aquino Administration can lay claim to. A major part of the credit for this successful effort should go to Vice President Jojo Binay who chairs the Inter Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and to DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima.

Sec. Hillary Clinton announced the elevation of the Philippines to Tier II status which means the Philippines do not fully meet standards on human trafficking, but is making progress to do so. Sec. Clinton presented Zamboanga Prosecutor Darlene Pajarito with the 2011 Hero Acting to End Modern Day Slavery Award. Congratulations!

* * *

TIDBITS. . . Starting tomorrow, the smoking ban in public places including streets in Metro Manila will take effect. Smoking is banned in restaurants, bars and other places of entertainment. Will it be implemented in the many casinos in Metro Manila where many customers smoke?

Tullahan River, Malabon flood control project, JICA project started in 2003, not yet finished due to lack of funds again.

Big clash between NPA and AFP in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.

Our thanks to CSC Chairman Francisco Duque, former Secretaries Eddie Ermita, Ruben Torres, Gabby Claudio, Lennie de Jesus and Annabelle Abaya, former Congresswoman Eileen Ermita and Cong. Bernie Vergara for being regular readers of our column.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=701206&publicationSubCategoryId=64

Razor’s Edge
by Jose Mari Mercader

Argumentum ad Hominem (personal attacks) dominate the language of our political leaders in the country today. They have virtually transformed the motherland into an arena of tongue-lashing gladiators when they are not killing each other, and not a Hyde Park where people could ventilate grievances against the government, ailing economy and arrogance of power of public officials. 

No amount of sugarcoated arguments can mitigate the acid insults flying between the Aquino and Arroyo camps. Luckily, Juan de la Cruz is quite conversant with the wiles of politicians. Our people have learned to validate with unvarnished indifference the unsettling rivalry of political leaders. The balm of letting the chips fall where they may keep our people’s sanity despite the maddening but volatile climate generated by warring political factions. 

The masses are more concerned on how to earn enough to feed their families and live in relative peace. They try to avoid being disturbed by the unnerving battle of politicians. Against their best judgment however, people are drawn to the issues, which often than not are riddled with lies that only boost the interest of political parties not improve their sorrowful plight. 

A case in point is Pres. Benigno S. Aquino 3rd whose approval rating in the latest Social Weather Station’s (SWS) survey has dropped because of his listless first year presidency. To throw off focus on his poor showing, with tongue-in-cheek PNoy tried to cash in on the news item that former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allegedly admitted he is “her opposite.” Given the unpopularity of GMA nowadays, it is a bonus of magnitude to his leadership. Expectedly, Noynoy went to town with that incredible announcement, which he personally hyped by publicly thanking her for the compliment. 

His euphoria was pathetically short lived because the brouhaha that followed caused him a scandal of nightmarish proportion. He is in a turmoil of mistakenly assuming what he heard is true. Gloria has not lost her mind to admit such doleful stupidity. Her firm denial makes PNoy pitiable. No right thinking ex-president would deliberately admit her wretched performance – for what, to glamorize Noynoy at her expense? Absurd! 

I choke at his gullibility of taking hook-line the idea that GMA ever said something that would make him a living legend. This will never happen when he is catalogued as a mediocre head-of-state based on his miserable showing last year. Add to that his disgusting onion skin to criticisms. He becomes exceedingly ballistic at his detractors, which is a no-no for a President to do. 

Congressman JV Ejercito advised to “just treat every criticism hurled his way as constructive which he could use to further improve his governance of the country’s affairs.” He further said “if Aquino will continue doing nothing, then he will also reap nothing.”  Indeed, he who stands for nothing falls for nothing. 

Rep. Rodel Batocabe pitched in saying “the President should refrain from being onion skin.” And “he should do his job and the people for themselves will see and feel the fruits of his effort.” The critics are mounting because Noynoy has become intolerant to criticisms firing back at anybody who gives him a piece of his/her mind. 

He should learn to be president by accepting the citizenry’s well meaning reminders for him to do his level best.  If in spite of trying his everything he can still he fails they will understand and pat him in the back nevertheless for trying. What is so hard with that?  Everything is a question of attitude and a passionate desire to be father of the nation. 

This column agrees with the former lady president of not stooping to his level, because he insists on being hostile and belligerent to the people who want him to succeed. Sporting around this pugnacity has magnified the people’s antipathy for him. No one loves a cocky head of state. 

GMA’s undivided desire is not to dignify him with an insult or even answering him. She is not that naïve, nor is the public unsophisticated to believe she will deliberately cut her nose to spite her face praising PNoy at her expense. The thought alone does violence to common sense. In love, war and politics betrayal and assaults are indispensable ingredients for survival. With this in mind, how could anyone like Noynoy think she will admit he is better president than her? 

Somewhere somebody must have goofed and printed that utter nonsense that has intoxicated PNoy with delusion of grandeur. In hugging the putrid logic attributed to GMA that by and large, makes him a present-day Sir Galahad in shining armor, Noynoy assumes his true character of an eager-beaver begging to be accepted as a deserving commander-in-chief. This aspiration is valid if he deserves the accolade. Anybody in his position would feel elated. But he must be inebriated to take the allegation as gospel truth. 

He could only be propelled by emotional drive to jump on anything that makes him look, in his vulgar language, “pa pogi.” 

Former Pres. Arroyo never said anything that will underscore her dismal governance just to accommodate Pres. Aquino for I know not what reason/s. Madam Arroyo must be gritting her teeth when he says with consuming passion that he will send her and her family along with GMA’s cohorts to jail, for corruption. Nobody believes she would admit he is more outstanding than she ever was in the nine years at the helm of power or steering the ship of state. 

Frankly, there is no compelling logic to paint him great when he hasn’t even earned public approval for his first year incumbency. The claim about GMA commenting in his favor is so unnatural that it insults our intelligence. He has to be delusional to believe the report. 

In view of Arroyo’s unpalatable reputation that lists her government as the administration most infested with venal officials committing corruption with impunity while the nation reels under dire economic straits, he (Pres. Aquino) believes his political stock is exceedingly luminous vis-à-vis than that of his immediate predecessor – GMA. Well, dreams are free.

************************* 

Ed’s note. This column can be accessed at Filtimes.Com, Filamimage.com and GlobalBalita.com. Jose Mari Mercader is the senior columnist of Filipino Times in New York.

BY DUCKY PAREDES
MALAYA

‘The ability of PAGASA to tell us what we can expect from our skies is something that we badly need, living as we do in a typhoon and earthquake belt.’

WHEN so early in his term, the new president fired PAGASA Administrator Prisco Nilo, this was greeted with great relief. We thought that, henceforth, we would have something that is an absolute essential for a country that is situated in a typhoon belt – accurate forecasts. Sadly, that has not been the case.

In fact, I notice that in the last few days of heavy rains, floods and even pocket whirlwinds that took off roofs in Metro Manila and felled trees, there was never any storm signal raised. In the midst of heavy floods and evacuation along the overflowing Marikina River (thanks to Mayor Del De Guzman who was there to direct the activities), PAGASA never once issued a storm bulletin. It was so bad that no government functionay could call off the Friday classes on storm Falcon’s second day.

(The procedure for cancelling classes starts with what storm signal PAGASA raises over the area. There was apparently, we read from PAGASA’s silence lack of a raised storm signal, no storm despite enough rains to flood Metro Manila and winds that ripped roofs off houses. If that was no storm, please someone tell me what that was that created floodwaters that almost swept my car away in a six-hour trip home over just four or so kilometers of flooded streets!)

Do we actually now have a better PAGASA with the removal of just one man – Prisco Nilo — even if the same forecasters that failed us and PNoy in July 2010 are still the same forecasters today and the equipment they are using are still the same antique pieces that PAGASA has been using for the last several decades? Has the forecasting ability of PAGASA improved?

DOST head Mario Montejo, who also supervises the Weather Bureau, is apparently among the President’s favorites. Thus, he will probably not be fired in the short term; nor will PAGASA’s competence improve even slightly. While a Prisco Nilo lost his job when his forecast was a bit off, what will happen to a PAGASA that did not even attempt a forecast or a storm signal even as Metro Manila was suffering one of the worst floods and weather ever?

Yet, the ability of PAGASA to tell us what we can expect from our skies is something that we badly need living as we do in a typhoon and earthquake belt. We badly need weather forecasting skills, something that neither the DOST nor PAGASA seem able to provide at the moment.

***

Recently, our president said in a speech at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH):

“Sa totoo lang ho, mayroon kasing mga ibang miyembro ng Gabinete–mga dalawa, tatlo–kada makita ko, kaagad iniisip ko, ‘Ano kayang bad news ang dala-dala nito?’ Pero si Secretary Babes Singson, si [DOST] Secretary Mario Montejo, at marami pang iba; pati na si [Budget] Secretary [Butch] Abad: pag nakikita ko, kadalasan, solusyon ang tangan-tangan. Kaya naman pag humingi ng appointment, mabilis pa sa alas-kuwatro natin ina-approve iyan,.

“Iyong iba ho, ipinipilit ko na lang po na harapin, dahil talagang, kako itong taong ito, talagang penitensya ko na yata sa mundong ito, kaya OK na lang.”

His spokeswoman said that the President was joking. Hopefully, he was. One hopes so, not because of the insult that he delivered to his unnamed Cabinet secretaries who all, by the way, serve at the “pleasure of the President” and who, therefore, have no business staying a day more if he has become a penitencia to PNoy.

What bothers is the picture PNoy projects — that of a president who is so uncurious that he seems not inclined to look closely at problems and prefers to just take at face value any good news his trusted men give him; a president who accepts and approves whatever his people tell him they have done to resolve a situation. This is not reassuring.

A president must be on top of any situation – always. A president will get to the bottom of things, take the trouble to become aware of the problems and whatever else needs his attention. He will make the effort to study, analyze and understand before acting. He will consult with the best available minds (who are all available to him, by the way) before deciding on a course of action for all of us.

Let us hope he was only joking and that he knows that he was joking and that his joke is not a reflection of how he thinks and what he thinks his job as president entails.

***

Of course, the one thing going for PNoy which is never going to change is the fact that he will never take money for himself and will never use his position as president for personal gain. That is the given that convinced most of us to elect him as our president.

Hopefully, there are among the friends PNoy trusts one or several who will guide him where he needs guidance and will advise him when he needs wisdom and none who will, despite PNoy’s honesty, transparency and seeming gullibility, take advantage of PNoy’s total trust and confidence to make a little (or huge) money for himself or herself.

***

Starting Monday, July 4, 2011, the 28th Asean Senior Amateur Golf Championship will tee off at both the Fonatana and Mimosa Golf Courses in Clark, Mabalacat, Pampanga,

This is a yearly gross and net competition amongst the senior clubs of the Confederation of Amateur Senior Golfers Associations (CASGA) composed of senior clubs from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Next year the competition will be in Malaysia.

In the Philippines, the senior club that represents is the Federation of Philippine Amateur Senior Golfers, Inc. (FPASGI). Seniors who want to join the CASGA Tournament in 2012 in Malaysia should be members of a golf club that is a member of the FPASGI.

***

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@yahoo.com

By Nestor Mata
Malaya

‘Only discreet and patient diplomatic negotiations between China and other claimants can resolve the overlapping claims over the Spratly Islands.’

ONLY quiet diplomacy can solve the South China Sea issue, particularly over the Spratly Islands, and not through such bodacious remarks by President Noynoy Aquino that “we’ll not be bullied by China.”

Let’s stop unleashing such silly rhetorical outbursts and confrontational posturing, which might just escalate further the tensions between China and its rival claimants. Instead, let’s give way to the diplomats now searching for a peaceful resolution of the overlapping claims of China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and his fellow ministers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have been discreetly and patiently crafting a formula for settling the disputes that would be acceptable to China.

They can, if they have not done so already, revisit the common “Declaration on Conduct for Parties in the South China Sea” or DoC that China and the Asean members signed in 2002.

Then there were high hopes that this would not only encourage the claimants to restrain from any activity that would destabilize the whole region but also help resolve issues among the disputants.

But, most unfortunately, China insisted on “one-on-one” discussions with individual claimants while Asean wanted negotiations to be held between China and the regional bloc as a whole.

Perhaps, the Asean diplomats should renew, too, efforts to turn the DoC document into a formal and law-binding code of conduct that would be palatable and acceptable to China and the Asean claimants and guide them in looking for a peaceful settlement of overlapping claims, particularly in the disputed Spratly Islands.

China claims it has the right to the entire South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, while the Philippines has claimed what it calls the Kalayan Island group made up of 54 islands, reefs and shoals; Vietnam occupies 23 islets; Malaysia occupies seven islets; Taiwan and Brunei claim just parts which they assert are within their territorial boundaries.

This is really a very, very complex problem for the Asean peacemakers, but they have at least an assurance from China that it is committed to the peaceful settlement of their dispute. They may still be able to convince China to sit down and negotiate with the claimants multilaterally and not merely bilaterally as desired by Beijing.

Besides, they all have to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was adopted and signed by all UN members, including China, in 1982. It stipulated that coastal states have sovereign rights over islands and waters within 200 nautical miles or 380 kilometers from their continental shelves.

Let’s all hope that the Asean’s collaborative diplomatic process will succeed in resolving the territorial disputes, most specially over the Spratly Islands, and consequently keep down the current tensions in the region.

But if they can’t, that failure might just lead to the escalation of the conflict in the South China Sea, an ugly event that might reverberate well beyond the region, which nobody wants to see happen!

***

Suddenly, the disputes in the South China Sea between China, the Philippines and its Asean partners, got an international stamp when the United States announced it would provide the Philippines with military assets it needs to defend itself and repel any aggression, without mentioning China as the prospective aggressor.

The American assurance of support, which is stipulated in its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, was conveyed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario, who was in Washington, D.C. on invitation of Clinton. (Before this, Del Rosario was busy holding diplomatic talks with his fellow Asean ministers in crafting guidelines for their peaceful negotiations with China.)

In quick response, Beijing declared that it has no intention to invade the Philippines and reiterated its commitment to a peaceful negotiation of its disputes with the Asean countries.

Actually, Clinton had raised the issue openly before when she expressed strong support for the Asean’s DoC document, offered to facilitate diplomatic efforts to find a resolution of the disputes, and talked about freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea.

From that moment, according to diplomatic analysts, China and the Asean claimants knew full well that their disagreements would be thrown into the international spotlight, as it has now happened.

Still, this event should not deter the Asean diplomats from quietly continuing their negotiation with China for a peaceful resolution of their disputes, without intervention from other players, and thus avoid a showdown in the South China Sea.

Such a conflict may be plausible, but far from being inevitable!

***

Quote of the Day: “We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order, a world where the rule of law, not the rule of war, governs the conduct of nations.” – Anon.

Thought of the Day: “Every time we open our mouths, we expose ourselves, our weakness or our strength!” – Napoleon

http://www.malaya.com.ph/june28/edmata.html

The Tall Order
By Mon Datol
The Philippine Courier
Toronto, Canada

www.philcourier.com

Does DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima really wanted to know the real truth behind the Vizconde massacre of 1991 or she is just obsessed to be on the limelight, which is she getting now, with her wild ‘attack’ on Hubert and the whole Webb family?

Last year, the Supreme Court acquitted Webb and his 5 co-accused after noting that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. The state could not anymore file a case against the same set of suspects because of the principle of double jeopardy. But why is De Lima acting like she has her own Court that could again put Hubert and his companions in jail for the same offense?

Is De Lima above all courts in Manila?

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And the NBI, why is it only now that it claims Webb did not leave Manila in March 1991, but, is not questioning Hubert’s coming back in October 1992? Ano ‘yon? May tatak ang passport ng dumating si Hubert, pero, walang tatak (daw) ang passport nito ng umalis patungong USA? Is it a case of “now you see him, now you don’t?” Magkano …err… papanong nangyari iyon, people of the Bureau of Immigration?

De Lima and the NBI presented six new witnesses who allegedly revealed Hubert was in the Philippines when the Vizconde massacre took place in 1991. The NBI and DOJ claimed the 6 witnesses passed the polygraph test, thus, De Lima believed in them. Polygraph test? Ginagamit pa ba yon sa Pinas? Ni hindi na yata tintanggap sa anumang korte ang polygraph test results, eh. Paano, madali na umano ‘talunin’ ang nasabing gadget ng kahit sinong ‘professional’ liar. Give one million pesos to anybody living in the slum and he will pass any polygraph testing. Kahit ano kayang gawin ng isang nagugutom para sa isang milyong piso. Kahit na si Bonifacio at si …

Rizal, siya ang pumatay!

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June 30 ang deadline for the DOJ to file any charges against anybody suspected of committing crimes against the Vizcondes at habang tinitipa ko itong kolumn ko, eh, wala pa akong nababasang actions ni De Lima. Nagpunta pala ito sa USA two days ago possibly to investigate whether Hubert was really there in March – June 1991. Anyways, good luck to DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima kung may mahuhuli siyang mga bagong isda, ‘o madale niya si Hubert et al sa ibang klaseng kaso, dahil, never niyang makasuhan ulit for the same offense sina Hubert due to the ‘double jeopardy’ law sa Pinas.

Simple lang namang maso-solve ng NBI at DOJ ang kaso kung si Hubert ‘o mga kasama nito ang nang-rape at pumatay sa mga Viszconde eh. DNA testing at di polygraph testing ang dapat na ginawa ng NBI, i-exhume and bodies ng mga biktima, kunan ng samples, gayundin sina Webb at mga kasama at presto, in 20 days, lalabas ang resulta ng DNA at malalaman na ang tutoo, diba, mga kabayan? Hindi kaya ng NBI at DOJ? Eh, di patulong sa ….

CSI: New York! Hehehehe …

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Meanwhile, lawyers of Hubert Webb are considering a possible disbarment case against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. In a statement, lawyer Luis Agcaoili said: “She should not have jettisoned the findings of the Supreme Court because as a lawyer, she knows that.” Agcaoili, along with colleague Demetrio Custodio, said De Lima wanted to have the final word.

Ang problema ni De Lima, eh, kung palulusutin siya nina Sen. Tito Sotto at Ping Lacson sa Commission on Appointment ng Kamara dahil nga sa mga statements nito sa lahat ng TV, radio, at print media na para bang balewa sa kaniya ang SC decision acquitting Hubert Webb and company sa kaso ng Vizconde massacre. Tatakbo kasi si De Lima sa 2013 Senatorial election kaya’t this early ay pa-pogi.. err.. pa-ganda na siya sa media.

But, Malacanang spokesman Lacierda said they will defend De Lima and approved her recommendation to re-open the Vizconde massacre investigation. Of course, alangan namang ilaglag ng Palasyo ang isa nitong Cabinet Member kapag nasa balag ng alanganin, di ba, kabayan? Look, ni hindi nga nasapok man lang ‘o napitik sa tenga itong DILG Usec Rico Puno (hindi yong singer, ha?) ng pumalpak sa Luneta Park hostage incident, ‘o ng ma-balitang ‘jueteng’ protector last year. Paano …

Malalakas sila ke PNoy!

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I am strongly against beauty contest among children aged 5- 12 here in Canada, especially if money is involved. Imagine, ang mga organizers ay magbibigay ng certain percentage points to any contestant who could SELL the most number of tickets and/or sponsorship/advertisements in the pageant’s souvenir program. Mapipilitan ang mga magulang ng mga batang ito na ‘mamalimos’ ‘o mambraso sa mga kamag-anak, kaibigan, kumpanya, individual, restaurants, salons, dental clinics, nagtitinda ng kape sa kanto-kanto, makalikom lamang ng maraming pera para sa anak na kandidata. Mayruon pa ngang “Money Contest’ ang labanan. Kung sino ang pinaka-maraming perang ipapasok sa kaban ng organizers, paniguradong mananalo!

Gadammet, anong klaseng mga tao itong mga organizers ng ito? Ang mga matatanda na lang ang harbatan at utuin ninyo!

Spare the children!

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Sample? Ilang taon ng ginagawa ng isang non-profit, kuno, na organization ang magdaos ng “Beauty Pageant’ para sa mga Mader ng Toronto. Last year, nagkatalo ang laban sa final ng bilangan ng perang ipapasok ng limang kandidatang mga ‘Nanay/Lola’ na nating matatawag. Abante ang isang Nanay ng $150 lang. Nasilip ng isang ayudante ng No. 2 candidate. Ibinulong sa kaibigan. Nangutang kaagad ng $300 ang No. 2 at palihim na ipinasok sa kaban ng organizer at PRESTO! Panalo ang Tita Ko!!! Hep-hep, Horaayyy!

Sample2: Miss Little Philippines Toronto. Araw-araw na ginawa ng jaws ay naglalakad si Papa para makadale ng maraming advertisers at sponsors para sa anak na kandidata dahil ang alam niya ay ‘Money Contest’ ang nasabing pageant na nasalihan ng anak nila. Maganda at may talent talaga ang anak ng mag-asawa at dahil gustong makasiguro ay walang-tigil nga si Papa sa paghingi ng tulong sa marami niya ng kaibigan. OK. Ilang libo rin yata ang nadale ni Papa at talagang No. 1 sa kinita ang anak ni Papa. Pero, two days before the coronation nite ay sinabihan na ang mga magulang na 20% lang ang katapat ng kanilang perang nadale sa mga sponsors at advertisers! Salampak si Papa! Iyong nanalo, iisa lang ang ipinasok na sponsor sa souvenir program! Black & White pa! Si Papa, ¾ ng souvenir program ay sa kaniyang anak! All in colored pa, ha?

Nakngteteng! Talo anak ni Papa! Pati na rin ang mga batang ang mga magulang ay nagpasok ng mas maraming sponsors at pera sa kaban ng organizers! Nag-iyakan ang mga bata, lalo na ang mga magulang. Ayaw na raw nilang sumali sa ganuong klaseng pageant, na nagpapalit ng ground rules at midstream. Kawawa raw ang kanilang mga anak, Nagagamit sa paggawa ng pera. Kaya’t next year daw ay kanilang…

Ibo-boycott ang pageant ng mga bata sa Toronto.

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SHORT ORDER: Our Princess Iyam Lauren D. Tierra, eldest of two daughters of my youngest daughter Yeng and Laurence, graduated from the SK level this month and would be in Grade 1 next September! She also turned 6 this June 28! Congratulations, to our Princess, from Papa and Mama and sister 3-year-old Yumi Lara, and the whole Datol and Tierra families all over the globe. We are proud of you, YUMI! God Bless.

By Fr. Shay Cullen
His columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line

Despite all the problems in the Philippine courts and prosecution system where judges have outrageously ordered that children trafficked, raped and abused be returned to their pimps by the abuse of the Habeas Corpus law, good judges release minors from degrading prison conditions for transfer to healthy rehabilitation centres.

Success in the campaign for freedom of children in sub-human prison conditions where their human rights are violated daily is gaining ground in the experience of the PREDA Foundation. (www.preda.org) hundreds of minors have been rescued by the foundation’s social workers with the court orders of good judges who implement the Juvenile Justice and Welfare law. Minors younger than 15 years old and below are not to be criminally charged under this law but are to be diverted to rehabilitation programmes for counseling and character formation. Others, where municipal social workers can determine that the minors over 15 years-old have done a criminal act without discernment can also be diverted to a rehabilitation centre while the prosecutor decides the case. This prevents the incarceration of these youngsters in prisons where they are influenced by the hardened criminals even if they are now kept in separate cells.

However in many municipalities the police frequently detain the minors over 15 years-old in overcrowded holding cells with other adults accused of crimes. The big change is that rarely do they jail those kids under fifteen. This is a big development. In the past, kids as young as 6 years old were jailed and we must never forget these violations of children’s rights and how easily it became a regular practice. In some municipalities the police turn the street kids in conflict with the law over to the municipal social welfare office. They have no facilities and are incapable of dealing with the children and some even lock them up in overcrowded makeshift cells until the social worker can identify them and find their parents which is a near impossible task considering the slums where the shacks and hovels are piled on top of each other without street names or addresses.

The positive developments since the passing of the Juvenile Justice bill and the non-stop work of PREDA social workers helping release children from prison and giving them a chance for a new life of dignity and healing has seen remarkable success. This shameful practice of jailing small children and teenagers while still innocent until proven guilty as seen in the past by these photos on our web site shows that we can never return to this phase of child abuse and must continue to campaign to stop its continued practice in some police jails and detention centers. The photos show how blatant was and is the violation of the human rights of children by the authorities against all the conventions and protocols signed by the Philippine government to protect children’s rights.

While some government officials would like to ban and remove these photos from our website since they are an embarrassment and evidence of government neglect, and we need them to help parents and social workers to identify them as lost and missing children and return them to their parents. Besides, they are evidence of human rights violations and should not be censored. Until there is a national database of missing children there is no other way to find missing, abducted or lost children.

But let us not forget that it happened on a large scale and still happens to a lesser degree. But we cannot forget and continue the fight for the protection of human rights and show that the Philippines must never tolerate such practice ever again. We cannot rewrite this sad history but we can build a brighter future for children in conflict with the law.

There are some police and politicians that would favour repealing the law protecting child form arbitrary detention and changing back to the law to hold minors younger than 15 years liable for prosecution and detention. The good news is that the Aquino Government is getting serious about prison reform. It will benefit minors and we give full support to the progressive moves to reform the prison system where children are at times still jailed with adults. The most congested jails in Metro Manila are the Quezon City jail, with a congestion rate of 295 percent; followed by the Las Piñas City jail, 259 percent; and the Manila City jail, 195 percent. Camp Karingal’s Female Dormitory was found 197 percent crammed, while the Paranaque City jail was 132 percent packed.

It is urgent to change this horrific situation of prisoners and treat them as human beings with rights and dignity despite their crimes. Above all children must never be jailed. There are other positive ways to help and treat them. END

By Artemio A. Dumlao

BAGUIO CITY (July 1, 2011) — Last Saturday’s same sex unions officiated by the Metropolitan Community Church here has pitted family members against each other, the opposing Catholic and other Christian groups versus the propnents and even officials caught in the midst.

This Saturday, a week after the controversial 8-couple “union”, various groups led by the Catholic Church are pouring into Baguio streets to demonstrate their rejection of the “unions” they said is “an anomaly”.

Anti-same sex marriage groups have also gone to the social networking site platforms like facebook (No To Same Sex Marriage in the Philippines group) to counter the growing “popularity” of the “unions”. A signature campaign at the networking site was also built.

But the “opposition” has also gone beyond debate and discourse as the city council here is hoisting to declare MCC’s Myke Sotero, who with two others officiated the wedding, as “persona non grata” (unwanted) and thinking of a case against him, ‘has only popularized the issue all the more’, said former Baguio chief Prosecutor Erdolfo Balajadia, who now sits as one of the 14-member city council here. “I cannot see (the persona non grata and case) any legal leg to stand on,” he offered. It was a religious rite, not a civil rite that was officiated, Balajadia who was Baguio’s chief Prosecutor for two decades said.

True enough, the “attention” given on the same sex marriages here last Saturday has instead popularized LGBTs all the more and prompted others to “come out” in the open.

According to Sotero, “more and more couples are applying to be unified.” This soon, there are at least 50 more couples from Manila wanting to be solemnized, he said.

“Discrimination As Issue Now”

LGBTs are fighting back against their detractors, now highlighting, “discrimination” as the main issue, not the marriages. “This is no longer about the mass-wedding. It’s already about discrimination,” Carol Galvez of the Lesbian for National Democracy or LESBOND said during Thursday afternoon’s press conference, vowing to bring the matter as high as to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

“Lesbians for national Democracy calls for an end to discrimination in this city and country, especially from the local government and certain religious groups because we lesbians are also protected by the same Magna Carta of Women that protects your mothers, wives, sisters and daughters,” Galvez read from an official statement issued by her group.

“We call for the recognition of our human rights based not only on our constitution but the covenants that the Philippine government is party to, because lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights are human rights,” the same statement said. “We call on our government to follow through on its duty to ensure our equality before the law and show concrete steps towards bringing this city to new heights by looking beyond sexual orientation and gender identity,” it added.

Also, the Baguio Pride Network expressed alarm “at the amount of information that can lead to misunderstanding and rash actions against the lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Baguio City and the entire country”, referring to the pronouncements of Baguio-Benguet Vicariate Bishop Carlito Cenzon labeling the people involved in the same-sex weddings as “mentally-ill” and “abnormal” including the ”hints” of Mayor Mauricio Domogan indicating support to the Catholic Church’s stand.

Cye Reyes of the BPN further said, “we fear that these actions and pronouncements add to the already numerous problems of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgender such as hate crimes, discrimination, homophobia and physical violence against us,” and at same time calling “on the different sectors of Baguio to defend the human rights of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgender citizenry of any part of the society”.

Grassroots LGBT organizations like PRO-GAY Metro Baguio and the Thunderbirds Association of the Cordillera and Suburbs or TACSI also issued similar statements challenging Mayor Domogan and the City Council “to pass a local version of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance to protect the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgender rights against violence and homophobia” while the latter insisting that they “are also children of God” and that “he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone”.

“Dividing Issue”

As various churches like the Seventh-Day Adventist said that “sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman”.

The Evangelical Christian Community in Baguio and Benguet composed of the Association of Metro-Baguio Christian Ministers, the Benguet Evangelical Association of Ministers, the Trinidad Evangelical Association of Ministers and the Good News Community Church also strongly condemned the same sex unions saying that the “actions such as this mass same-sex wedding will further weaken our already struggling family and community structures by encouraging a mindset that goes against the healthy propagation of the human race and that confuses the natural parent.

Though across Baguio City and beyond, the debate rages on even among families. “We’ve been talking about it even across the dining table,” said Baguio media professional Sly Quintos who admits his wife and his children have taken sides on the issue.

“There will be fireworks during the debate on Monday,” said City councilor Balajadia, who pegs that councilors are divided on the issue.

For a week now, even various radio stations (both FM and AM) in the city and nearby Benguet have jumped into the fray asking on air what listeners think of the same sex unions. They all have been flooded with a wide variety of answers.***Artemio A. Dumlao***

By Alex P. Vidal

To all taxi drivers, please pay attention.

The first known case of rape in Iloilo involving a taxi driver as the perpetrator and a female student as the victim happened sometime in 1991 and ended in bizarre murder of the rapist.

The cabbie, Felipe “Pato” Palomado, 43, of Brgy. Kahirupan, City Proper, managed to rape the victim, Sheila Mae, a 17-year-old nursing student from a Catholic university located on General Luna St., City Proper, twice in as many assaults.

The first rape happened when the victim, daughter of a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) engineer, boarded his cab from Anhawan Beach in Oton, Iloilo at past 6 o’clock in the evening.

But instead of bringing her to her boarding house in Lapuz, La Paz, Palomado brought her in an isolated grassy area going to the Iloilo International Port in Loboc, Bo. Obrero.

Using superior force and intimidation, he violated her.

FEAR

Palomado succeeded in planting fear in the heart and mind of Sheila Mae, who kept the incident to herself and did not tell anybody. But after only two days, Palomado “kidnapped” Sheila Mae while she was on her way home from school and forced her to board his taxi. This time, he ravaged her inside a drive-in motel in Mandurriao district.

Unfazed, Sheila Mae mustered enough strength and sought the help of a board mate who contacted her parents. The parents, surprisingly, did not report the matter to authorities.

After two weeks, a macabre scene shocked the Ilonggos: Palomado was found dead with 27 stab wounds in the body, his neck slashed. His lifeless body was sprawled inside his cab.

Bombo Radyo reporter Abe Beatingo (now SB member of Leon, Iloilo) made a flash report to early morning anchorman Manny Gallar (now Iloilo board member): “May isa ka bangkay sang taxi drayber nasapwan sa sulod sang taxi diri sa Loboc, Bo. Obrero. Ginpatihan sang kapulisan nga biktima ini sang holdup.”(A dead body of a cabbie was found inside his cab in Loboc, Bo. Obrero. Police believed he was a victim of robbery.)

EARNINGS

Police investigators, however, were puzzled when they discovered that Palomado’s earnings were intact, including his wallet which was not taken by the “robbers.”

The big question mark that cropped up in their minds was: If he was not a victim of robbery, who killed Palomado?

Although dead men tell no tales, it was later learned from various sources and confidential testimonies of some tax drivers and neighbors who knew Palomado that a “bidding had been held for his head.”

“He had it coming,” they chorused.

Why do I still vividly recall the circumstances of this crime story that happened 20 years ago? Because Palomado, a known womanizer, who was once suspected to have also raped his own daughter, used to live in an adjacent barangay where I grew up.

We hope the cabbie and his male accomplice who attempted (was there really no rape that happened?) to rape the 19-year-old daughter of an insurance executive from Villa Matilde Subdivision recently will not suffer Palomado’s predicament.