December 2011

GLIMPSES
By Jose Ma. Montelibano

I am no prophet, no psychic either. I have looked at situations, often interpreted them intelligently, and anticipated what would happen next accurately enough. I have sometimes been wrong, too, but less about “what” and more about “when.” I notice that when I like what I anticipate would happen, I tend to want them to happen sooner.

In several yearend articles these last ten years of writing this column, I have often laid down my perspective that a new year begins much like the old year ends. What often contrasts is the attitude that a new year triggers, an attitude that is mostly colored by a wish for change. The phrase “New Year’s resolution” must have come from this attitude of wishing for change.

Prophets or psychics are gifted with visions or images. They hardly make an effort but receive these visions or images of what will occur at a future time. Yet, many without that gift want to claim they know what the future holds for a variety of reasons. Opinion writers are my favorite set of individuals who often cross the line of objectivity, writing what they want to happen but passing on their predictions as highly probable forecasts. Unfortunately for the intellectually dishonest, more so the paid hacks or the professional “jukeboxes”, their opinions are recorded and a decent effort to trace their work easily reveals their biases or attempts to mislead.

I am an opinion writer. At the same time, I have strong advocacies that I promote with the conviction that these are for the common good of Filipinos and necessary for the strong and proud nation we want to be. Ten years of writing my column have been marked by a consistency of direction and favorite causes. While I have touched on current issues and personalities, they serve more as entry points to what I believe are the more permanent directions and priorities our society should take.

Now, as one year transitions to the next, my yearned message will have a familiar ring. 2012 begins as 2011 ends. Physically, the weather will not abruptly change, the temperature will continue to become cooler, the rains will still visit us in January pretty much as they have done this December. The “new normal” that climate experts and environmentalists will continue its emerging formation of longer and wetter seasons – or longer and hotter periods.

But just as important, or even more so, is the emerging “new normal” of our political and social environment. The presidency of Noynoy Aquino is a game changer – or one representing a moment when enough Filipinos are demanding that the game be changed. By insisting on confronting corruption as his administration’s crusade, and the grave injustice that corruption inflicts on the weak, the poor and the morals and ethics of a people, P-Noy is doing something NEVER done before. It is not that no administration ever tried to address corruption before, but it never the too priority, and it was never a crusade. Only the son of heroes so keenly aware of a legacy is seeing, or sensing, the mother of all battles should be fought early or cannot be fought anymore.

The impeachment of Chief Justice Renewed Corona is a signal of the extent P-Noy is willing to go. His conclusion is that Corona was put in place to protect the interests of Gloria Arroyo. That may include not just keeping her out of prison but to ensure that her other interests, her cronies and business fronts, will escape prosecution and conviction. It may seem vindictive to a small minority, but they should understand that plunder without recovery is better left untouched rather than unsuccessfully prosecuted.

In my mind, what P-Noy is doing is risking all to establish, not just a message, but a precedent and pathway for future administrations. If Filipinos approve of what P-Noy does, and most do today, plunderers will soon have no place in Philippine governance. Only a politician who has not stolen, upon becoming president, can run after thieves with a passion. It seems to me that P-Noy is seizing the moment, embracing his destiny, will use the powers of his office and the approval of the Filipino people to open Pandora’s box – whatever serpents come out of it. And I anticipate that Philippine society will experience the catharsis it needs to break a Gordian knot called corruption and its ugly fruit – poverty.

While the first attack may seem to be Corona, we must remember that the Chief Justice is also a symbol. The Filipino people do not yet know enough of Corona to judge him adversely in this confrontation with P-Noy, but the people have long judged the justice system and the judiciary that is so much a part of it. Sadly, the reputation of lawyers and judges has long been stained. It is standard chismis how many of the men and women of the law give and take bribes. Those who are forced by circumstance to sued or be sued make it as part of their due diligence to look for law firms with the right connection to dirty judges who hear their cases. It is this conclusion of many Filipinos that the Judiciary is infested with corruption as much as the Legislative and the Executive. This is to a large extent why the credibility of Corona is low, the perception that he, as many lawyers and judges, has sold out to Gloria Arroyo.

The most courageous part of P-Noy’s crusade against corruption is that he is laying the same ground for his people’s judgment of him, for the people’s judgment of his appointees and political allies, of the whole Executive and Legislative branches of government as well. I think many of his allies do not yet realize that they, too, should they turn dirty and corrupt, risk quick removal by impeachment or prosecution. This is what makes 2012 exciting for me, that change has found a New Year so ready for change.

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas

It should not surprise us anymore that despite the difficulties of the past few years, the Filipinos remain as optimistic as ever of the coming year. Hope springs eternal for Filipinos as shown by a survey last year by both Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Station that showed 95% or more than nine of ten Filipinos face the coming year with hope.

In the 2009 and 2010, 89% of Filipinos showed the same optimism about the coming year in 2009, which was slightly lower than in the three previous years — 91% in 2006 and 2007, and 92% in 2008.

Hope surveys had customarily been at high levels, starting at 87% when the SWS first polled about hope in December 2000, and 88% in December 2001. In December 2002, New Year hope reached a record high of 95 percent before declining to 90 percent in December 2003. It slumped to 81 percent at the end of December 2004, but rebounded to 85 percent in 2005 and to 91 percent in 2006.

Except for that period following the Garci cheating scandal in 2004 when street protests nearly toppled Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from Malacanang, Filipinos have been traditionally hopeful of the coming year.

It may be worthwhile to note that in Germany, where the first survey about fear and hope was made in 1991, hope among Germans never topped 58% in any year from 1991 to the present. It is ironic that the Philippines, one of the poorest countries in the world, has a much higher hope rating than Germany, which is the world’s fifth largest economy, next only to the United States, China, Japan and India.

Analysts cite the resiliency and the traditionally happy disposition of Filipinos as the reason for their eternal optimism in the face of poverty, disasters, calamities, corruption and inefficiency of government, and the prolonged separation of families because of the export of labor.

That Filipinos remain hopeful despite all these negative factors is indeed a testament to the resiliency of Filipinos, which was first noted by the late President Manuel L. Quezon who described Filipinos as “pliant like a bamboo,” in reference to the bamboo tree, which bends with the wind and survives the storm. This inherent characteristic of the Filipino enables him to survive disasters and calamities that confront him, enabling him to adjust to life’s difficulties and move on.

But whether such eternal optimism and resiliency is good for the country or not is another thing.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, for example, commented in an editorial in 2005 that “it may well be that Filipino optimism is actually what is holding the country back, rather than pushing it forward.”

The editorial added: “In a year marked by serious scandal, at a time when many of the nation’s institutions came under attack or (under) a pall of doubt, the Filipino seems ready to let bygones be bygones and – to use one of the catchphrases of the year – move on.

“This explanation (one of several, we hasten to add) is what makes the President and her defenders sleep better at night; the Filipino views what’s coming up with more hope than fear because he finds it easy to forgive and to forget what had gone before.”

In conclusion, the Inquirer said: “In other words, we may be incurable optimists because we expect too little of the future, or from ourselves. We let alleged crimes slide because we do not demand an accounting; we are happy to continue eating two square meals a day and call that progress. Enough already. If this is optimism, let’s all get real.”

In a blog, one Totie Mesia said about the Filipinos’ optimism: “We rightly laud our innate positive mentality which helps us cope with the economic crisis. But we have the temptation to look at reality in a blurry prism, sometimes with a tinge of “denial.” Our country is mired in a protracted “crisis” which makes it tempting to rest painful issues at the backburner. Perhaps, the survey should not bring us that much of hope if we understand our situation more.”

And that precisely is the problem with the Filipinos’ eternal optimism. Because we have set the bar too low, we tend to be satisfied with what we have even though it is clearly not enough, and in this situation, it is not difficult to be hopeful. And because of our ever-hopeful spirit, we tend to ignore the problems of the past and move on, only to encounter the same problems in the coming year.

The problem with these hope surveys is that they are usually conducted in the first week of December, when a festive atmosphere prevails over the Philippines because of the coming Christmas season. At this time of the year, Filipinos put their problems under the rug and put a happy face for the most festive of all Filipino celebrations. And besides, many of them enjoy a moment of satisfaction at this time of the year, having just received or about to receive 13th month pay, bonuses and other perks.

While hope is generally a good thing, too much of it can bring bad results. After all, isn’t it a fact of life that anything in excess is not a good thing?

(valabelgas@aol.com)

By Juaniyo Arcellana
The Philippine Star

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STORMY 2011: Photo shows a flooded Roxas Boulevard during a storm surge at the height of typhoon ‘Pedring’ last Sept. 27. Top newsmakers include (clockwise from top right) former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was prevented from leaving the country; ex-defense chief Angelo Reyes, who took his own life; Chief Justice Renato Corona, who faces an impeachment court next year, and former ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was impeached but stepped down before her trial. STAR PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines – Impeach was the word of the year, with the former ombudsman and the Chief Justice being the target of political proceedings, both being identified with the past Arroyo administration.

President Aquino could not be swayed from his straight path, opting to fulfill his campaign promise of going after those who wasted the country’s resources and swelled the ranks of the poor. (Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.)

Blood was spilled too in 2011. former Armed Forces chief Angelo Reyes, who had served in various capacities in the Cabinet of the previous administration, committed suicide before his parents’ graves after being given a dressing down by a former underling at a Senate inquiry on corruption in the military. A lawyer of a state-run bank also took his own life, under pressure to expose supposed backroom deals.

Filipino drug mules were executed in China, and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was arrested on charges of electoral sabotage, but not before trying to leave the country for treatment of a recurring spine injury.

Not one but two major storms hit the country, “Pedring” in the usual monsoon month of September that brought a surge of waves along Roxas Boulevard, and the more destructive “Sendong” entering through the southern backdoor in December to draw the curtains on another troubling year, one that Filipinos can only be glad is over.

The top stories of the past 12 months:

The scene looked somewhat familiar, but Arroyo the ex-president turned congresswoman was arrested on Nov. 18 after the Pasay City regional trial court found probable cause to charge her and several others with poll fraud. Just three days earlier she had been stopped at the airport when she was to board a plane for Hong Kong to seek medical treatment for her back, for which she had undergone three surgeries. She is now under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, where her predecessor Joseph Estrada had also been detained about a decade ago on charges of plunder. She spent the holidays at VMMC after her request for furlough was denied.

Tropical storm Sendong wreaked havoc on Northern Mindanao and Central Visayas on the weekend before Christmas, the death toll reaching more than a thousand and another thousand still missing, the aftermath of which has been described as a humanitarian disaster: potable water running out after whole neighborhoods were wiped out by flashfloods, bodies piling up in mortuaries and a shortage of coffins. It was a tragedy hardly anyone expected, putting a damper to the holidays, but international aid started to pour in and civic and other groups began to mobilize to bring help to the victims, mostly in the southern cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Dumaguete.

In what was probably the year’s first big story, retired General Reyes turned a gun on himself at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina on the morning of Feb. 8, his blood splattering on the tombstone of his mother. Before his death Reyes was accused of collecting P50 million in sendoff money by a former AFP budget officer. When he tried to defend himself at the Senate inquiry, he was cut short by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former leader of the Magdalo group who had accused Reyes of corruption during the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, which treatment from a fellow PMAer the late general said he “did not expect.” He was 65.

The impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in December by the House of Representatives was criticized for its seeming haste, gathering signatures of 188 lawmakers or twice the required number to send the complaint to the Senate for trial. Corona was impeached for alleged betrayal of public trust, violation of the Constitution, and graft and corruption, stemming for the most part from his close association with the former president Arroyo. The Palace has pointed to Corona, possibly GMA’s crowning glory, as a stumbling block to the administration’s program of reform, but those who sided with the judiciary detected a brewing demagogue. The Senate will be arbiter to avert a constitutional crisis when trial begins in January.

The year might almost be book ended by the execution of Filipino drug mules in China – three in March, and the last in December. A trip by Vice President Jejomar Binay to Beijing in February was able to delay the execution of Elizabeth Batain, Ramon Credo and Sally Ordinario-Villanueva by a month, but in December the fourth mule whose family requested privacy to remain unnamed was granted no such deferment as Binay’s request for a last minute appeal to Beijing was denied. China reiterated that the decision of its most supreme court was final. A total of 208 Filipinos are involved in drug-related cases in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and 70 of them have been sentenced to death with two-year reprieve, according to Department of Foreign Affairs records.

Troubled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in various parts of the globe were like a recurring nightmare as governments fell in the Middle East and North Africa, an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March, and an earthquake hit New Zealand in February where more than a dozen Filipinos died in a collapsed building in Christchurch. President Aquino donated $1 million for the reconstruction of the local city hall in Ishinomaki City, Japan, that was destroyed by the disaster resembling an apocalypse. Last March Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario went to Libya to pursue repatriation operations and brought 400 OFWs to safety. Now operations are underway to get compatriots out of strife-torn Syria.

The meeting in Tokyo last August between Aquino and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad drew criticism due to the manner it was conducted and the lobbying of the MILF for a Bangsamoro substate. Government negotiators, however, assured the public that there would be no repeat of the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in 2008 that led to a rampage by rogue members of the front. The conflict between government and the MILF was highlighted in October when 19 soldiers were killed in an encounter while going after a wanted MILF commander in a so-called area of temporary stay.

Then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned on April 29, ten days before her impeachment trial at the Senate. In March more than 200 members of the House voted to impeach her based on separate complaints by party-list members, for her alleged failure to act on corruption and human rights violation cases of Arroyo. During his second State of the Nation Address in July, Aquino announced the new ombudsman would be recently retired Supreme Court associate justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

The balance of power in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) was intermittently in the news throughout the year, from two Chinese navy gunboats ‘harassing’ a Department of Energy research vessel in the vicinity of Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the Spratlys early in the year, to an incident in May where Chinese jet fighters buzzed two Philippine air force planes on a test routine patrol. Months later a Philippine Navy gunboat rammed one of the Chinese fishing vessels in the area.

Those keeping close tabs on the Aquino administration are noting how two issues will pan out: the Marcos burial and agrarian reform in Hacienda Luisita. But the President has put his foot down on any hero’s burial for the late dictator under his watch, this after asking his vice president to resolve the macabre dilemma. Meanwhile the Supreme Court has voted unanimously to partition the Cojuangco-owned Luisita in Tarlac to farmer beneficiaries, after a long legal tussle including a stock share option for the farmers.

Now you see him now you don’t, Sen. Panfilo Lacson surfaced early in the year after months in hiding due to the Dacer-Corbito murder case after his arrest warrant was canceled, and he resumed his duties at the Senate not quite the oppositionist he used to be. Yet it was like he never left. – With CJ Pagulong, STAR research

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=763602&publicationSubCategoryId=63

AT GROUND LEVEL
By Satur C. Ocampo
The Philippine Star

As we wind up 2011, we find some grounds to be guardedly optimistic that in 2012 our people’s long-hobbled quest for justice can gain momentum on two fronts: against graft and corruption in high places, and against impunity from wanton human rights violations.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been arrested for the non-bailable electoral sabotage case, in connection with the 2007 senatorial elections, filed at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court by the Comelec and the Department of Justice.

Her favorite counterinsurgency officer, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., has been ordered arrested by the Bulacan RTC for the non-bailable charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in the 2006 forced disappearance of former UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, filed by their parents.

However, Palparan has evaded arrest and is being hunted down, with a P500,000 reward offered for information that could lead to his apprehension.

This week added two positive developments:

1. Last Wednesday the Office of the Ombudsman filed at the Sandiganbayan graft charges against Mrs. Arroyo, her husband Mike, former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza and former Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos Sr.

The case involves the $329-million National Broadband Network contract between the government and China’s ZTE Corp., which Mrs. Arroyo pushed and whose signing she personally witnessed in Beijing. The deal was scrapped in 2007 after detailed allegations of overpricing and bribery were uncovered during a Senate investigation.

Next Monday the case will be raffled among the Sandiganbayan divisions, after which the court shall determine probable cause to issue warrants of arrest against the accused. The charges are bailable.

The graft charges were culled from the criminal complaint of plunder filed last September by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, former Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, and Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan president. The Ombudsman, however, excluded plunder from the charges, saying evidence was insufficient that money (P50 million or more) had changed hands.

2. Last Thursday, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested the alleged gunman in the Oct. 17 slaying of Italian missionary priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio at his parish church compound in Arakan, North Cotabato. Taken into custody in Barangay Kulaman Valley, Arakan, was Jimmy Ato, allegedly a gun-for-hire syndicate member.

The Tentorio killing was the 54th of 64 cases of extrajudicial killings committed under the P-Noy administration. Should Ato’s arrest lead to a strong murder case to be filed and prosecuted in court, it could signal – like the Palparan case – a break for the campaign to end the climate of impunity on extrajudicial killings going back to the Marcos martial law regime.

Palparan’s evasion of arrest – contrary to his earlier declaration that he would face the charges in court – challenges the P-Noy government, particularly its law-enforcement agencies led by the PNP, and the AFP which has pitched in, to nab and present him to the court as soon as possible.

His lawyer has told the media that his client would likely do what Sen. Panfilo Lacson did in 2010 – hide abroad to evade arrest over his implication in the murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and the latter’s driver, Emmanuel Corbito.

Recall that Palparan was stopped by immigration officials from boarding a commercial flight to Singapore two days after the charges against him were filed in court but before the arrest warrant was issued. He has filed an omnibus motion seeking a review of the preliminary investigation proceedings and dismissal of the charges against him.

Palparan understandably fears appearing before the court. He would be up against the formidable testimony of an eyewitness, Raymond Manalo, who already filed as early as 2008 at the Ombudsman a criminal complaint against Palparan and other AFP officers for kidnapping, arbitrary detention and other offenses.

Raymond and his brother Reynaldo, both Bulacan farmers, were abducted from their home in 2006 and held in various military detention areas for almost two years. Raymond met and talked with Sherlyn Cadapan in a detention camp in Bataan; later he saw Karen Empeno in the same camp.

The brothers managed to escape and sought court protection by filing a petition for the writ of amparo, which was given due course. When the parents of Sherlyn and Karen filed their own writ of amparo petition, Raymond provided eyewitness testimony in their favor.

Raymond’s damning testimony as to Palparan’s direct involvement in the two abduction, detention and torture cases, given through affidavits and oral testimony before the Court of Appeals, has been given credence by the CA. After reviewing the two cases upon appeal by the Department of Defense, the Supreme Court en banc affirmed the CA’s factual findings.

Credit for these breaks is due to both the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman, now headed by two women who are sticklers for due process. Credit in equal measure is deserved by those who initiated and unrelentingly pursued the criminal complaints against Mrs. Arroyo and Gen. Palparan.

Hooray for them! A happy and peaceful New Year to all!

* * *

Email: satur.ocampo@gmail.com

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=64&articleId=763546

As It Is
By Peter Wallace
Manila Standard Today

It’s the done thing, to list what is to be done in the coming year. I seem to be in a plagiarizing mood these days, so here goes.

First, let’s list what not to do, and Murphy is the expert on this one:

1. If anything can go wrong, it will.

2. Nothing is as easy as it looks.

3. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

4. Every solution breeds new problems.

5. If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first wood pecker that came along would destroy civilization.

6. An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.

7. The first myth of management is that it exists.

8. To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

9. All things are possible except skiing through a revolving door.

10. When all else fails, read the instructions (this one is designed for me).

11. If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.

Now, let’s move on to Peter’s Laws (I’d like to pretend I’m the Peter, I’m not. But I could have been as I adhere to all of these).

Peter’s Laws

The Creed of the Sociopathic Obsessive Compulsive

1. If anything can go wrong, Fix It! (To hell with Murphy!)

2. When given a choice – Take Both!

3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.

4. Start at the top then work your way up.

5. Do it by the book…. But be the author!

6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.

7. If you can’t beat them, join them, then beat them.

8. If it’s worth doing, it’s got to be done right now.

9. If you can’t win, change the rules.

10. If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.

11. Perfection is not optional.

12. When faced without a challenge, make one.

13. “No” simply means begin again at one level higher.

14. Don’t walk when you can run.

15. Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, an intolerance for stupidity and a bulldozer when necessary.

16. When in doubt, THINK!

17. Patience is a virtue but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.

18. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.

19. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.

And finally some thoughts from an Authority you should listen to (just a chosen sample from the 10):

Commandment 4. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Commandment 5. You shall not murder.

Commandment 6. You shall not commit adultery.

Commandment 7. You shall not steal.

Commandment 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

I’m at a loss to understand how the people who (so blatantly) violate these commandments expect to get to heaven. Do they really think a confession mouthed to a priest can fool God?

Now let me be a little impudent (imprudent) and suggest some New Year’s resolutions for the President.

And I’ll start with one that has, and will continue to weigh him down:

1. A president has no friends. By all means, have some drinking buddies, but friends have no place in government.

2. Which leads to a corollary: A president’s job is 24/7. After all, it’s only for six years.

3. Knowledge is power; a president must be not well-informed, but fully informed. Former President Fidel Ramos had a red pen that wrote CSW—Complete Staff Work. He would not decide until all the facts were in. But those facts must be in quickly.

4. Which leads to the next point: Speed is of the essence. The renowned slowness of the bureaucracy must be stopped. Five years at the least just to start an infrastructure project is just not acceptable. Three years to pay mayors their share of excise taxes on mining is unconscionable. One year to get just one PPP project started just won’t do. And one that wasn’t even on the list at that. So the president must be demanding, demanding of swift performance, demanding of high performance, demanding of excellence (Peter’s Rule number 15).

5. He must also have a single-minded devotion to an ideology. Lee Kwan Yew had it, Mahathir had it, Aquino has it. He’s correctly identified that corruption and abuse of power must be stopped, before there’s any chance of building a strong, growing economy. There must be societal change before there can be the economic change that can lead to 7, 8, even 9 percent (do we have hope?) growth. It’s been proven, beyond doubt, over the past 40 years that the way Philippine society is structured right now just doesn’t work.

There’s much criticism of him going vindictively after Arroyo, and attacking the Chief Justice. I don’t agree with that criticism. The impunity with which the rich and powerful get away with crime after crime is the principal reason the Philippines has sunk to the bottom of the Asian heap.

So the President is doing the right thing by focusing on corruption, both financial and moral. This is a New Year’s resolution well worth pursuing relentlessly in 2012.

6. Finally, he could do worse than follow Peter’s Laws.

So in 2012, let’s just do.

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion.htm?f=2011/december/30/peterwallace.isx&d=2011/december/30

By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star

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President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay
stand beside the Rizal Fountain historical marker during
the 115th anniversary of the execution of national hero
Jose Rizal at the Noli Me Tangere Garden in Rizal Park
yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines – A great grandchild of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal urged yesterday the Filipino people, particularly government officials, to emulate his great ideals.

Tomas Lopez Consunji, who attended the wreath laying led by President Aquino in Rizal’s monument at the Luneta, said government officials can take a cue from Rizal’s high ethical standards and morality.

“Our country will become better if we will be able to inculcate in the Filipinos Jose Rizal’s ideals and if we will follow the morality and ethics of Jose Rizal,” Consunji said.

Consunji said Rizal sacrificed his life because he wanted freedom for the Philippines and a better life for all Filipinos.

“I hope that the entire Filipino people and government officials will remember what he died for. He wants what is best for the country and a better life for the Filipino people,” Consunji, a descendant of Rizal through the latter’s third sister Narcisa, said.

Rizal, born June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Laguna, was executed by firing squad on Dec. 30, 1896 at Bagumbayan (now Luneta).

Binay cites role of youth

Vice President Jejomar Binay cited yesterday the important role of the youth in the development and progress of the country.

In a speech delivered before members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal, Binay said the youth should take an active part in all issues faced by society.

The Order of the Knights of Rizal is commemorating its centennial which coincides with the 115th death anniversary of Rizal.

Binay said Rizal fought the Spaniards using his sharp pen and sacrificed his life in his quest for Filipinos’ freedom from bondage.

“In Rizal’s view, a conquered country like the Philippines should be developed and should not be taken advantage of. Although I think he knew why dominant nations undertook conquest and colonization – to exploit the weak nations,” Binay said.

Binay said Rizal decried the bondage and slavery of the conquered.

“He criticized the abuse of power and exploitation of Spaniards. He condemned keeping the people ignorant, in order that they would not conceive of themselves as a nation – proud, dignified and independent,” Binay said.

Binay said that this noble and nationalist thinking was Rizal’s legacy to the Filipinos and most especially to the members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal.

He urged the Knights of Rizal to continue its objectives of studying and spreading Rizal’s ideals, teachings and his exemplary life, especially to the youth of the country.

“Another one is to train and develop the Filipino youth in character building, citizenship training, democratic leadership, enlightened nationalism and dedicated service to country and people,” Binay said.

Binay said one of Rizal’s advocacies is to use education to elevate the country and develop the people’s mentality.

“He believed that since education is the foundation of society and a prerequisite for social progress, only through education could the country be saved from domination,” Binay said.

Like Rizal, Binay said he also believed that education is the strongest power for change.

“It has always been my conviction that every Filipino, regardless of economic status, has an inherent right to obtain quality education. And that quality education remains the greatest equalizer, as it provides even the poorest individual a fighting chance to succeed,” Binay said.

P-Noy leads Rizal Day rites

At the Rizal Park in Manila, President Aquino yesterday led the country’s commemoration of the 115th death anniversary of Rizal.

The President arrived at 7 a.m. at Rizal Park and was given arrival honors.

A flag-raising ceremony followed, as well as offering of flowers at the hero’s monument.

A reenactment of Rizal’s incarceration in Intramuros and execution in Luneta was held earlier. Other activities were also done in Rizal Park.

Representatives of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Parks Development Committee joined the President at the ceremony.

The President was also joined by Vice President Binay and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

After the flag-raising ceremonies, Aquino offered a wreath at the Rizal monument, where he met with descendants of the Rizal clan that include Marlene Jacinto from the side of Jose Rizal’s brother Paciano; Mia Syquia Faustmann from the side of Rizal’s sister Maria; Luisa Tinio Bayot, one of the direct descendants of Rizal’s sister Saturnina, and Securities and Exchange Commission chair Teresita Herbosa from the side of Lucia.

Flag raising events were also held in Calamba in Laguna, Dapitan City in Zamboanga, and in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the renovated Rizal fountain, now a historical marker, was also unveiled.

The fountain was formally turned over to the government by then German ambassador Johann Karl Von Stechow during the 68th anniversary of the martyrdom of the national hero in 1964. It was a gift of the German government to the people of the Philippines.

In 1994, a major renovation was done through the kindness of Hans Schoof, Supreme Exchequer of the Knights of Rizal. This year, the fountain and other structures in Rizal Park were renovated as part of the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal.

With Aurea Calica, Sandy Araneta

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=763600&publicationSubCategoryId=63

By Joyce Pangco Pañares and Maricel Cruz
Manila Standard Today

MALACAÑANG on Friday admitted it may not have the numbers needed in the Senate to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona, and that an acquittal was a possibility that the administration must contend with.

“[Acquittal] is a possibility. We are not closed to that kind of possibility. While we are confident that Corona will be impeached, confidence is different from certainty,” presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas said.

“We are not sure [if we have the numbers in the Senate]. That will depend on the senators and the evidence that will be presented. That will be the decisive factor, although other factors may come into play.”

Llamas admitted that the 2013 polls would be a variable in the impeachment trial against Corona, with senators taking into consideration the pulse of the people in deciding on the case.

“Although it will not be the dominant variable, let us not forget that an impeachment process is not a purely legal process. It is also a political process,” Llamas said.

Earlier, Palace deputy spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the administration already had a Plan B in the event Corona was acquitted.

But Llamas said the so-called Plan B had not been discussed in the Palace. “We have not talked about that yet in Malacañang,” he said.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers said the plan to continue the push for Corona’s ouster if he was acquitted by the impeachment court was tantamount to a total disregard of rule of law.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said the Palace’s acquittal scenario only indicated that the administration had a weak impeachment case.

Magsaysay, a member of the House committee on justice, said that if Corona was acquitted, then there should be no more reason to replace him.

“It’s like that saying that one who is noisy is an empty can,” Magsaysay told the Manila Standard.

She advised the Palace to just strengthen its legal position and refrain from issuing contradicting and confusing statements that might affect the merits of the case.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said Valte’s statement only exposed the “Palace’s obsession to oust the chief justice of the Supreme Court by hook or by crook.”

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNews.htm?f=2011/december/31/news1.isx&d=2011/december/31

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Prosecution panel to Corona’s team: What are you scared of?

Source: Sun Star

THE impeachment prosecution panel scored Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona and his defense team for trying to delay the Senate trial despite Corona’s earlier statements saying he is ready to defend himself.

Deputy Majority Leader Romero Frederico Quimbo, who is the panel’s spokesperson, made these remarks after Corona and his legal team on Thursday filed a motion for a preliminary hearing before the Senate as an impeachment court.

The defense sought determine the validity of Corona’s impeachment complaint, saying that congressmen didn’t read it before signing it.

“It is disappointing that Chief Justice Corona and his defense team have resorted to legal technicalities to delay and derail the impeachment process. This contradicts the earlier statements of Chief Justice Corona’s camp that they want the impeachment to proceed fast and without delay,” Quimbo said in a press statement.

He added: “They have been harping that the Impeachment Complaint is weak. If they truly believe that, why then would they want the trial to be delayed? Is it possible that they are now doing every means to prevent the trial from taking place? What are they scared of?”

Should the Senate accede to Corona’s request for a preliminary trial on their motion to dismiss the impeachment complaint, the trial will not be able to start immediately, he said.

The Senate trial will start when Congress resumes session on January 16, 2012.

Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives on eight grounds which accused him of betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, and graft and corruption.

“We find it strange that Corona is avoiding an immediate conduct of the trial. Kahit na sinong inakusahang tao, ang hiling parati ay pabilisin ang kaso. Maliban na lang kung takot maisiwalatang katotohanan,” Quimbo said.

“The filing of this motion is a sign that the defense panel is afraid for the impeachment proceed and tried on the merits. They know that the prosecution panel is ready with our evidence. And our evidence against Chief Justice Corona are strong,” he stressed.

Quimbo warned that Corona may have filed the motion as a preliminary step to apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Supreme Court (SC) in the event that the impeachment court denies his motion to dismiss.

Lawyer Maria Valentina Cruz, deputy clerk of the impeachment court and its spokesperson, confirmed the filing of the motion. She said Corona has asked for the preliminary motion to have the impeachment court hear one of the defenses raised in his Answer to the impeachment complaint against him. She did not elaborate.

“Let’s leave it to the senators to decide if they will allow it,” she told Sun.Star in a text message in Filipino. She said that will be done before the trial proper if at all.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by Sun.Star, Corona has questioned the validity of the impeachment complaint against him on the grounds that congressmen who signed it did not read it first. He said the impeachment complaint is “fatally defective” and that the Senate should dismiss it.

According to the Constitution, an impeachment complaint may go straight to the House in plenary if “at least one-third of all Members of the House” supports it, as in the case of Corona.

The Chief Justice said, however, that the Constitution requires a “verified complaint,” which means signatories should have studied the complaint beforehand.

Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Lambino v. Commission on Elections, where 6.3 signatures allegedly in support of a “people’s initiative” petition in 2006 to amend the Constitution, were voided.

The Lambino referred to in the Supreme Court ruling is Raul Lambino, the counsel and spokesperson of ex-President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“With only 100,000 printed copies of the petition, it would be physically impossible for all, or a great majority of the 6.3 million signatories to have seen the petition before they signed the signature sheets,” the Supreme Court ruled then.

The Senate rules on impeachment do not mention preliminary hearings, but the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provide for a preliminary investigation, to see if there is “sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial.”

The Rules of Civil Procedure, meanwhile, allow a pre-trial to discuss the possibility of settlement, and on the details of the trial, such ashow many witnesses can be called, whether it is advisable for the trial to be suspended and “such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the action.”

The Constitution grants Congress the authority to promulgate its own rules. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2011/12/29/prosecution-panel-corona-s-team-what-are-you-scared-197977

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Corona camp seeks order of priority of impeach articles

By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Chief Justice Renato Corona has asked the Senate impeachment court for a preliminary conference in a bid for both parties to determine the order of priority on the eight articles of impeachment before the trial proper.

In a seven-page motion submitted to the Senate legal office on Thursday, Corona’s camp also asked for preliminary proceedings on his motion to dismiss the impeachment complaint.

In a radio interview, Senate legal counsel and spokesperson Ma. Valentina Cruz said Corona’s motion means he wants the court to hear his defense on the constitutionality of the impeachment complaint filed against him.

Corona and his lawyers filed a 79-page motion with the Senate last Monday for the outright dismissal of the complaint because of the failure to comply with the requirement of verification. The complaint is insufficient in substance and form, they said.

“Undoubtedly, public admissions by members of the House of Representatives declared that there was no opportunity to read the complaint. They also declared that the majority of signatories signed without reading the complaint, but reputably in exchange for material considerations,” Corona’s lawyers said.

In view of this, Corona’s camp said the House of Representatives had no authority under the Constitution to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

They said that under the Rules of Court, a pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading, the allegations therein are true and correct, and it is based on authentic records.

“In this case however, the requirement of verification is not a mere procedural rule but a constitutional requirement. In other words, failure to meet the requirement renders the impeachment of CJ Corona unconstitutional,” Corona’s camp said.

The filing of the complaint is also a direct violation of a constitutional provision, which requires that the complaint is filed by at least one-third of the House of Representatives, it said.

“It is an extremely rare event when the present House of Representatives instantly musters 188 votes for any matter pending before it, including those described as urgent legislation. Surely, the blitzkrieg adoption of the complaint was only possible by the indispensable concerted action of the majority coalition, dominated by the Liberal Party headed by President Aquino,” it added.

The Corona camp said it expects the Senate impeachment court to act on their motions when Congress resumes session on Jan. 16.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said a ruling on the motion of Corona for a verification of the signatures of the members of the House of Representatives is expected to be one of the first acts of the Senate as an impeachment court.

However, Drilon declined to elaborate on the issue, in view of his position as one of the senator-judges.

‘Don’t delay Senate trial’

Meanwhile, San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito urged Corona to face the music and not delay his Senate trial.

“He should not resort to legal technicalities like questioning the validity of the signatures of the 188 House members who signed the impeachment complaint against him,” he said.

He said the Chief Justice should follow the example of his father, former President Joseph Estrada, who did not question the “railroading” of the impeachment charges by then Speaker Manuel Villar Jr.

He said Villar opened the House session by reciting a prayer but then suddenly proceeded to transmit the articles of impeachment against Estrada to the Senate, ignoring strong objections from Estrada’s allies.

But Estrada did not question the proceedings and instead chose to face the charges against him, he added.

Ejercito, who signed the Corona impeachment complaint, shared the sentiment expressed by another signatory, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, that the 188 congressmen are ready to testify in the Senate trial if that is what the Chief Justice and his defense team want.

“No problem with me, if they want us to take the witness stand, but that would take months and unnecessarily delay the trial,” he said.

Evardone has warned that Corona’s trial could stretch up to 2013 if the impeached Chief Justice would have his way.

But he said such process could take roughly one year, since the impeachment court has scheduled its sessions in the afternoon, Mondays through Thursdays, starting on Jan. 16.

He said if Corona and his defense team want to question all those who signed the impeachment complaint, the trial would not be finished by May 2013, when the nation elects a new set of senators and congressmen.

“He could then argue that the power of the present 15th Congress to impeach and try him has already lapsed,” he added.

He said Corona might be going against the Constitution, which mandates that once the House impeaches an official, trial in the Senate should “forthwith proceed.”

The former journalist, however, believes that the Senate would deny the Chief Justice’s motion for it to inquire into the regularity or irregularity of the verification process in the House.

“In the history of the post-martial law Congress, not once has one chamber questioned the proceedings in the other chamber. One house has to presume regularity of the processes in the other. But if the Senate summons us, we – all of the 188 impeachers – are ready to testify in the impeachment trial,” he said.

The House prosecution team, through its spokesman Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, has criticized Corona’s motion for a preliminary hearing, saying it “contradicts the Chief Justice’s earlier statement that he wants the impeachment to proceed fast and without delay.”

Lagman supports Corona’s motion

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, for his part, said there is valid verification under the House impeachment rules if the complainants swear under oath that they “have read the contents” of the complaint, and that “the allegations therein are true of our own knowledge and belief on the basis of our reading and appreciation of documents and other records pertinent thereto.”

“It is not sufficient that a third party explained to the complainants the contents of the complainant or showed to them a PowerPoint presentation. Personal reading and appreciation of the complaint is mandatory,” he said.

He said it was physically impossible for 188 lawmakers who endorsed the impeachment to have read and understood the 57-page complaint “in a couple of hours, given the admission that only four copies were available in the caucus called for the affixing of the complainants’ signatures.”

He added that Corona’s proposal for the Senate to determine whether these lawmakers read the complaint before signing it “is not dilatory but necessary to place the horse before the cart.”

He said that if the Senate sustains the validity of the complaint, Corona’s trial should proceed; otherwise, the complaint should be returned to the House, which should conduct proper verification and then re-file the impeachment charges. – With Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=763894&publicationSubCategoryId=63

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.
Zamboanga Times

MANILA — Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio will handle the case and stand as ponente, or writer of the decision, on the petition filed before the SC seeking to stop the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Crossing party lines and with 188 votes, the House of Representatives impeached Corona as the SC’s 23rd Chief Justice anchored on three grounds — betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and culpable violation of the Constitution.

Carpio will be tasked to write the decision in the petition for certiorari, which seeks to stop the Senate Impeachment Court from proceeding with the impeachment trial against the Chief Justice.

The Senate Impeachment Court is set to convene on Jan. 16, 2012 to hear the eight articles of impeachment filed against Corona, including his alleged non-disclosure of statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and his alleged favorable “voting trend” on a number of cases involving former President and now Pampanga (2nd District) Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Carpio was a nominee for the chief justice position in May 2010 but decided to withdraw his nomination for the chief justice position by believing that then President Arroyo was devoid of authority to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Reynato Puno because of the election ban on appointments.

However, the SC ruled that Mrs. Arroyo can appoint the chief justice post which eventually went to Corona.

The case will go to Carpio after the raffle was conducted in the SC.

Carpio got the first among the four petitions filed before the SC that sought to stop the Senate Impeachment trial.

The four separate cases filed before the SC are the cases filed by petitioners Danilo Lihaylihay, Atty. Vladimir Cabigao, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Vicente Millora and Atty. Oliver Lozano.

These four cases were raffled off to different SC justices but the lowest docket number went to Carpio.

Under the Internal Rules of the SC, different petitions anchoring on the same legal grounds shall be consolidated and the ponente will be the justice who will get the lowest docket number.

The case of Lihaylihay is the one with the lowest docket number which went to Carpio.

Once the case shall be consolidated, it will be handled by Carpio.

In the petition filed by Millora and Cabigao, they alleged that the filing of the complaint was done “in conspiracy” with President Benigno Aquino III.

Millora urged the SC to declare null and void the eight articles of impeachment.

He said that the eight articles of impeachment submitted by 188 lawmakers to the Senate last week are null and void.

Millora said that the complaint was blindly signed by the 188 members of the lower House.

He argued that the purpose of the complaint is to malign not only Corona but the whole high tribunal.

“The SC is a passive institution that can’t act on controversies unless someone invokes its jurisdiction,” Millora said as justification to his petition.

Lihaylihay, Cabigao and Lozano, through their separate petitions asked the SC to nullify the impeachment case.

They questioned the eight articles of impeachment by saying that they were transmitted “with undue haste.” (PNA)

http://www.zambotimes.com/archives/40970-Justice-Carpio-to-handle-petition-seeking-to-stop-impeachment-trial-vs.-Chief-Justice-Corona.html

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RELATED STORY:

SC warned: Corona trial could be another ‘Garci’

By David Dizon
abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Memo to Supreme Court: Don’t let the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona be another “Hello, Garci.”

This is the appeal of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares to the Supreme Court after it received petitions to stop Corona’s trial in the Senate.

In an interview, Colmenares warned against stopping or delaying the impeachment process now that it has reached the Upper House. He noted that any move to stop the trial would prevent the truth from coming out.

“Our appeal is since the complaint is already before the Senate, let the Senate decide. If the SC issues a TRO, I doubt if the decision will have credibility. I think majority of the people will say: ‘Ah, lutong macao kasi chief justice.’ Useless lang yung TRO,” he said.

Colmenares said the impeachment trial recalls the investigation on the “Hello, Garci” wiretapping scandal, which allegedly linked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to a conspiracy to rig the May 2004 presidential election.

Mrs. Arroyo apologized on nationwide TV for calling a poll commissioner during the election but denied rigging the polls. She later issued Executive Order 464, which prevented top government officials, including military officers, from testifying in all congressional investigations.

Colmenares said the invocation of “executive privilege” prevented many government officials during Arroyo’s term, including then SSS chairman Romulo Neri, from testifying in Congress.

“The people want to see a finish to this issue. We don’t want this to be another Hello Garci…na parang walang nangyari. If you issue a TRO, pahabain mo on technical grounds and people don’t know what happened, I don’t think people will like it. Kasi parang ina-avoid pa rin yung katotohanan and accountability through the use of technical or other supposed powers ng SC,” he said.

He added many people want to see if it is true that Corona favored Mrs. Arroyo after he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

“Did the Chief Justice in his long line of decisions favoring Gloria Arroyo, was it an innocent reading of the evidence, the law or the Constitution or was it a conscious effort to protect former president Arroyo or to let her escape from accountability?”

The party-list congressman also rejected the move by Corona’s lawyers to call for a preliminary investigation of the complaint before the trial could continue.

He said there was no need for a preliminary probe since the  impeachment process is not a judicial proceeding.

“Malinaw sa Constitution at mga rules that the impeachment does not involve criminal sanction. The only sanction is removal from office. Questionable pa nga kung pati retirement benefits or pension pwede ma-forfeit eh…Of course it’s the Senate’s discretion but pampa-delay eh. In fact, para sa amin mas maganda matapos ito as soon as possible,” he said.

Corona’s lawyers earlier filed a motion for a preliminary hearing at the Senate. A preliminary hearing will allow the senator-judges to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to hold the trial.

House prosecutors have called the move a delaying tactic. They said if the Senate approves Corona’s request, the impeachment trial will not be able to start immediately.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/12/30/11/sc-warned-corona-trial-could-be-another-garci

Back Channel
By Alejandro del Rosario
Manila Standard Today

When it rains, it pours—so goes the saying.

In the case of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the rain is of Sendong’s torrential proportion.

Even as her lawyer were working feverishly on a motion seeking to allow her to spend the New Year with her family, she was slapped with another corruption charge in connection with the overpriced ZTE-NBN broadband deal with China.

Earlier, Pasay Regional Trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas denied her request to spend Christmas at home with family. The Arroyos had to spend Christmas together at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where the former President is under hospital arrest for electoral sabotage.

New Year looks like a reprise of Christmas with the Arroyos spending time together at the hospital as Judge Mupas is on vacation and won’t be able to hear her request for furlough until he returns to work Jan. 9.

The new charges filed by the state against Arroyo also includes former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos who brokered the ZTE-NBN deal, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, and former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza who signed the contract in Boao, China. Mrs. Arroyo flew to Boao to witness the contract signing but canceled the deal when key witnesses Joey de Venecia, Dante Madriaga and Jun Lozada surfaced to reveal the overpricing and kickbacks involved.

The government filed the case using evidence and testimonies in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that looked into the overpriced deal.

Abalos’ fate, it seems, is intertwined with Mrs. Arroyo’s. He is also an accused with the former President in the electoral sabotage case for allegedly rigging the 2007 senatorial race.

One of the most powerful men during the Arroyo administration, Abalos is presently detained at the Southern Police District jail for the non-bailable crime of electoral sabotage.

How soon Mrs. Arroyo will join him at this detention center or another detention facility depends on Judge Mupas. The prospect of the former president’s continued hospital arrest looks remote after her doctors at St. Luke’s had testified that her ailment is not life threatening.

Hearings for the electoral sabotage against Mrs. Arroyo and Abalos at the Pasay RTC and for the ZTE-NBN corruption case at the Sandiganbayan start early next year, almost the same time or a little after the start of the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on January 16. Talk about confluence of events.

The Corona impeachment case before a Senate-convened court is entirely separate. But somehow it’s not difficult to see how the same thread in the two cases is interwoven with Arroyo’s own reversal of fortune.

Corona is Mrs. Arroyo’s appointee as Chief Justice, an appointment that was flawed since it was made two months before the May 2010 presidential elections. The chief magistrate of the land is on the dock facing eight articles of impeachment which include corruption and betrayal of public trust.

The odds on conviction or acquittal are fairly even. Consider this: In the numbers game, it would take 16 out of the 23 senator judges to convict Corona. On the other hand, the prosecution panel only needs to prove one out of the eight articles of impeachment to remove Corona. How the senators will vote is anybody’s guess. Will it depend on the merits of the case and the evidence presented by the prosecution or the defense team’s ability to demolish the prosecutors’ case?

Will the 2013 senatorial elections have a bearing on the outcome of the impeachment case? Just asking. The public pulse is always a factor to consider.

Yesterday , Dec 30, the nation marked Rizal Day. Recall that it was on Dec. 30, 2003 that then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced she was not running in the 2004 presidential elections to “heal the country’s divisiveness due to politics.” Having succeeded deposed President Joseph Estrada, she was only serving Erap’s remaining term and the law allowed her to run under the country’s fixed six-year single term.

Mrs. Arroyo, however, changed her mind and reneged on her promise. Some say the people around her, particularly husband Mike Arroyo, swayed her to change her decision and run. In her present legal predicament, Mrs. Arroyo must rue the day she changed her mind and consequently, the entire course of her life.

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion.htm?f=2011/december/31/andydelrosario.isx&d=2011/december/31

By Manolo B. Jara
The Gulf Today

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno “Nonoy” has made it clear he might pardon his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo if she showed remorse for the anomalies and scandals that had hounded her nine years in power.

Aquino stressed this point in an interview with ANC News as he pointed out the country has moved forward and risen from the massive corruption and poverty more than a year after his administration implemented his commitment “to take the right path.”

Aquino noted in the television interview that Arroyo continued to insist on her innocence of the alleged high profile anomalies committed under her watch as the former president.

“So, if they still profess innocence, where is the remorse?” he asked. “Where can we find the remorse there?”

In his New Year’s Day message, meanwhile, Aquino said the Filipino people could see the fruits of reforms and there is fervent enthusiasm and hope, high level confidence and wider opportunities in the country.

“Now, we are bringing back the blindfold in justice,” he said. “Progress is being experienced not just by the rich and the powerful but by many of our fellow men.”

On Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the countryís chief graft-buster, filed before a special court criminal charges against Arroyo for her alleged involvement in the scandal-wracked and overpriced $300 million contract which the government awarded to the Chinese firm ZTE Corporation to set up a national broadband network.

Also indicted before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court were her husband lawyer Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, retired police general Leandro Mendoza, the former secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications and Benjamin Abalos, the resigned chairman of the Commission on Elections.

Carpio, a retired Supreme Court associate justice, said the graft charges filed against the embattled former president and her three co-accused were bailable.

But lawyers noted that even if Arroyo could post bail, she would not still be granted temporary liberty because she is under hospital arrest for the non-bailable offence of electoral sabotage which also carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

http://gulftoday.ae/portal/03400b4b-1c3a-4085-9475-8d24e11a2afb.aspx