BY REY O. ARCILLA
‘What was Miriam trying to prove? That she is not beholden to the Aquino administration for supporting her ICC candidature?’
FOREIGN Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario was in New York over the weekend and hosted a reception for the delegates to the ongoing session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The reception was the second by Del Rosario in a month to drum up support for Senator Miriam Santiago who is running for election as a judge in the ICC.
Truth to tell, I have serious reservations about the government spending time, effort and money on Miriam’s candidature. (She also ran for a seat in the International Court of Justice not too long ago, but lost.) What has she done to deserve such “courtesies”? Will the country derive any tangible benefit from her membership in the ICC? Hardly. If at all, it will only be the money that the government will save on her salary and other perks as senator and, not to forget, the annual P200 million pork barrel that every senator gets. But, come to think of it, that would be quite a substantial savings. Her pork barrel alone can build so many low-cost housing or school buildings we so desperately need.
Prestige for the country? Again, hardly. She will only be one of 18 judges of the Court. However, as I said in this space recently, if she wins she can do the country and the world at large proud if she would initiate and effect the issuance of an arrest warrant against former US President George W. Bush whom I call the weapon of mass destruction of Iraq. He is as much responsible for the destruction of Iraq, as the economic turmoil that the world is now experiencing . He is also the terminator of thousands of innocent Iraqis. If Santiago can pull that off, she can stamp PAID on the favors and services her country has heaped upon her.
Oh, and frankly, if I were President Noynoy Aquino, I would not even send my foreign secretary to campaign for her. To begin with, how much “campaigning” could Del Rosario have possibly done in a day? Simply hosting a reception is definitely not enough. He merely wasted scarce government funds, on top of those already being wasted on Santiago.
Moreover, if Santiago in her heart of hearts cannot support the Aquino administration in its tug-of-war with the Supreme Court and its chief, or cannot agree with the administration’s correct choice of where to detain Gloria Arroyo, she could have at least just kept her mouth shut. What was she trying to prove? That she is not beholden to the administration for supporting her ICC candidature? If that is the case, then Noynoy should no longer lift a finger to help her. Problem is she wants her cake and eat it too! Ano ba ‘yan?!
Incidentally, no one is forcing “Midnight” Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from participating in the deliberation of cases against Arroyo. In fact, no one can force him to do so. People are merely pointing out to him his evident bias in favor of his former boss and are, therefore, giving him a way out to free himself of any suspicion he would take the side of Arroyo out of sheer loyalty and gratitude. If I were he, I’d take the chance.
Re-printed below are excerpts from the joint statement of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on the expiry of the freeze order on the assets of the Ampatuans:
“Today, December 2, 2011, the six-month freeze order the Court of Appeals issued – on petition of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) – on the 597 bank accounts, 142 firearms, 132 motor vehicles, and 113 houses and lots in the names of 27 members of the Ampatuan clan and their associates expired.
“We have also learned that it was only yesterday, December 1, when the AMLC filed through the Office of the Solicitor General, a petition for civil forfeiture with a prayer for a new freeze order with the Manila regional trial court. As of the close of office hours, we have not received confirmation from the OSG, the AMLC, or the trial court if the freeze order, or provisional asset protection order (PAPO), had been issued.
“We view with great alarm the unwarranted delay and apparent lack of attention and negligence that the AMLC and the OSG had accorded this case.
“A week ahead of today’s expiry of the appellate court’s freeze order, we called government attention to this grave matter – the possibility that the Ampatuans could take advantage of the delay to retake control of their enormous unexplained wealth to put pressure to bear on their trial for the Maguindanao massacre of Nov. 23, 2009, which claimed the lives of 58 persons, including 32 media workers.
“The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. (FFFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urge all concerned government agencies, but especially AMLC, to take whatever steps are necessary to correct this anomaly.
“President Benigno Aquino III earlier said his administration would do everything to expedite the Massacre case and assure the victims justice at the soonest. AMLC’s apparent lack of urgency in extending the freezing of the Ampatuan assets will be interpreted as reflective of the Aquino government’s own lack of enthusiasm.”
Now that the case against Arroyo is pretty much well in hand, I believe Noynoy should forthwith devote some attention to the speedy adjudication of the case against the Ampatuans. He should use all the powers of the presidency to see that justice is served as expeditiously as possible. The eyes of the world are upon us on this case.
One of Gloria Arroyo’s lawyers said the alleged plot to kill her could have been hatched by a third party to destabilize the Aquino administration.
“It could be from a group of disgruntled persons who want to destabilize the government and use Arroyo’s supposed assassination plot,” he said.
It is bad enough to claim there is a slay plot against Arroyo, but to say that its purpose is to destabilize the Aquino government borders on the ludicrous. He must have been hallucinating. He was saying in effect that people have that much sympathy for Arroyo. He should open his eyes! Just look at how the media, for one, now compare Arroyo to that road rage murder suspect Jason Ivler as having something in common – that they both have colitis! Isn’t that an indication of the low regard that the people have for her?
The Philippine National Police is now considering transferring Arroyo from the St Luke’s Hospital to the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center by helicopter due to the inherent difficulties of transporting such a high profile detainee by land, especially through EDSA.
It is not true though that the idea is being considered because someone thought of using one of the second-hand choppers allegedly sold by Arroyo’s husband, Miguel, to the PNP as brand new.
With the advent of the Christmas season, the crime rate has jumped markedly. Robberies and killings have become a daily occurrence. This brought to mind the announcement by Noynoy last June that he has appointed his buddy Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as the crime czar.
Ochoa is the head of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission which is composed of the secretaries of the interior, justice, national defense and foreign affairs, the national security adviser, the AFP chief of staff, the PNP director-general, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director general, the NBI director and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime executive director.
The commission is supposed to address the nefarious activities committed by organized crime and syndicated groups, including but not limited to drug trafficking, human trafficking, car theft, gun-running, robbery, kidnap for ransom, smuggling, transnational and heinous crimes.
What has the commission accomplished, if any, since June?
Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Administration (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency.
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 26 July 2010, Noynoy said:
“Let us now move on to the funds of the National Food Authority (NFA).
“In 2004: 117,000 metric tons (of rice) was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they (the government) bought were 900,000 metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than seven times the amount of shortage, they still bought more than what was needed.
“In 2007: 589,000 metric tons was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they bought were 1.827 million metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than three times the amount of shortage, they again bought more than what was needed.
“What hurts is, because they keep purchasing more than what they need year after year, the excess rice that had to be stored in warehouses ended up rotting, just like what happened in 2008.
“Is this not a crime, letting rice rot, despite the fact that there are 4 million Filipinos who do not eat three times a day?”
In his second SONA on 25 July2011, Noynoy again mentioned the alleged over-importation of rice by the NFA during the Arroyo regime that resulted in wastage, with the staple rotting in warehouses that were also costing the government money.
A month earlier, on 12 June 2011, Noynoy also mentioned the matter during his Independence Day speech.
To date, no charges have been filed against former NFA officials who may have been responsible for the anomaly. How come, Mr. President, Sir?
2) Facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments.
3) Expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.
4) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia.
A reader writes:
“May I ask what happened to Winston Garcia? Is there an investigation going on with regard to the reported anomalies during his tenure as GSIS president? Mukhang malakas siya. How about the GSIS union, did they file charges against him?”
Has incumbent GSIS head Roberto Vergara been asked to investigate the matter, Mr. President? If not, Winston Garcia must really be “malakas” po?
From an internet friend:
Ole and Sven were drinking buddies who worked as aircraft mechanics in Minneapolis and one day the airport was fogged in and they were stuck in the hangar with nothing to do.
Ole said, “I vish ve had somethin ta drink!”
Sven says, “Me too. Y’know, I hear you can drink dat yet fuel and get a buzz. Ya vanna try it?”
So they pour themselves a couple of glasses of high octane hooch and got completely smashed.
Next morning Ole woke up and is surprised at how good he feels. In fact he feels GREAT! NO hangover! NO bad side effects. Nothing!
The phone rang. It was Sven who asks “How iss you feelin dis mornin?”
Ole says, “I feel great. How bout you?”
Sven says, “I feel great, too. Ya don’t have no hangover?”
Ole says, “No, dat yet fuel iss great stuff – no hangover, nothin. Ve oughta do dis more often.”
Sven agreed. “Yeah, vell, but dere’s yust vun ting.”
Ole asked, “Vat’s dat?”
Sven questioned, “Haff you farted yet?”
Ole stopped to think. “No.”
“Vell, DON’T, ‘cause I’m in Iowa.”
Today is the 222nd day of the fifth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.