March 2012

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

When Pulse Asia released last March 20 its February 26 to March 9 nationwide poll on public perception regarding the on-going impeachment trial of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona, Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) dismissed its impact on the jurors, even alleging that it was a ‘survey’ that condemned Jesus Christ to be crucified. JPE could not have been more wrong.

On the contrary, if Judea Governor Pontius Pilate had conducted a scientific survey like those done by Pulse Asia (and SWS), then the New Testament might have been written differently. The viva voce type of selection that Pilate conducted, when the crowd was made to choose between Christ and the criminal Barabbas, wasn’t based on a truly representative sample that reflected the cross section of Jerusalem folks. The Pharisees, Christ’s biggest enemies, fielded a “hakot” (planted partisans) crowd that was complemented by the followers of Barabbas.

The Jerusalem mob was like a sample of 80 percent communists and 20 percent pro-democracy Filipinos. Given a choice between communism and democracy, the communists would naturally drown out the pro-democracy folks. However, as we know from experience, we Filipinos aren’t disposed to accepting communism. Our disdain for communism was so intense that Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos thought he could win in the February 1986 Snap Presidential Election by tagging Cory Aquino a communist. Few ever believed Marcos that Cory was a communist.

The crucifixion was an all-Pharisees show. They wanted Christ crucified after reaching the conclusion that Christ threatened their power base with what He was teaching. They panicked when they saw the big crowds that Jesus was attracting, the last of which was His entry to Jerusalem on what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday. The Pharisees had to rig the viva voce and injected into the crowd many of their minions.

Many use the Jerusalem crowd as basis for saying that the mob is fickle, citing how Christ had a triumphal entry into Jerusalem and, in a matter of days, He was condemned to be crucified. Not quite, really. The crowd that welcomed Jesus was not the same crowd that asked Pilate to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. In that era, there were no mobile phones, mass media, much less telephones. It was impossible for the Jerusalem crowd to have changed their tune overnight from hailing the Messiah to crucifying the blasphemer, as what Christ was accused of by the Pharisees. There was also no incident or event between Palm Sunday and Good Friday to account for the dramatic shift in Jerusalem public opinion.

If there was no crucifixion, that would have created major complications in the writing and propagation of the Jesus Christ story. There could not have been a resurrection too if Christ was not crucified.

JPE was wrong to compare a Pulse Asia survey with the pro-Pharisees crowd that clamored for Christ to be crucified. First of all, the viva voce selection was conducted with a biased and polluted sample. Second, viva voce itself isn’t reliable. A hundred loud voiced and strategically positioned men would have easily drowned out the voices of two hundred women, unless, of course, these are two hundred nagging housewives. A Pulse Asia (and SWS) survey is conducted with a scientifically determined sample that truly represents the sentiments of people during a particular period.

Your Chair Wrecker has long been involved in the making of surveys, dating back to my years in advertising and politics. We commissioned the survey firms, Mercy Abad a favorite service contractor. We do not undertake the actual survey. Most, if not all, major marketing firms conduct market and consumer surveys to guide their strategy formulation and decision-making process. A market survey tells you how many are disposed to buy a certain product, where they are located, when they’re inclined to buy the product and so forth. A consumer survey tells you the personality or psychographics of your target market and is often a priceless guide to determining advertising strategy and brand positioning.

It’s important that we know who are the reliable survey firms because there are those who operate bogus surveys in order to influence public opinion. Your Chair Wrecker remembers one such suspicious poll that was conducted towards the last phase of the 1998 presidential election campaign, an election that Joseph “Erap” Estrada won with a big margin. All reliable surveys predicted the Estrada victory except one that concluded that then Speaker Joe de Venecia would win the presidency. That survey became a comic relief in political circles.

As far back as your Chair Wrecker can remember, the SWS and later, the Pulse Asia, surveys were generally correct in their election forecasts. The differences happen in tightly contested races where a last minute shift went undetected. There is reason to doubt those who are quick to denounce SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, especially if they happen to be election losers. The major surprises, more often than not, can be traced to cheating, especially wholesale cheating.

In the May 2010 presidential elections, both Pulse Asia and the SWS predicted the national results quite accurately. The percentages of winners, presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino and vice presidential candidate Jojo Binay, were very similar to the last poll conducted by Pulse Asia and SWS. The surveys also reflected the drop of Manny Villar from a close second to third in the presidential race, also the last minute victory of Jojo Binay over Mar Roxas. The old cheating operations didn’t have time and the technology to rig the 2010 elections.

Pulse Asia and the SWS provide us a basis for checking if clean elections had been conducted. The Pulse Asia and SWS surveys may not qualify as evidence to prove election cheating but their track record of accuracy gives us a starting point for questioning the results and conducting an investigation.

Shakespeare: Madness in great ones must never unwatched go.

Chair Wrecker email and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey on the Senate impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona suggests that his lawyers should do better than “beating around the bush,” a prosecution spokesman said yesterday.

“The message of the survey to them is that they should present a more credible defense and answer the charges directly. The first two weeks of presentation of their case was full of holes,” Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said.

According to the survey, 73 percent of Filipinos want the Senate impeachment court to hand down a guilty verdict on Corona.

Angara said the opinion poll was conducted from March 10 to 13, more than a week after the prosecution had rested its case and two days into the presentation of evidence by the defense.

“They spent their first two days by questioning the impeachment process in the House of Representatives, an issue that the impeachment tribunal had resolved on Day One of the trial,” he said.

He noted that no less than widely respected constitutionalist and law lecturer Fr. Joaquin Bernas had criticized defense lawyers for “beating a dead horse” by resurrecting the issue.

Angara said failing to assail the impeachment process, Corona’s lawyers then proceeded to present testimonies which hardly explained the impeachment charges against the Chief Justice.

“There is no explanation yet on the P31 million found in three bank accounts of CJ Corona as of Dec. 31, 2010,” he said. “That huge amount was not declared in his 2010 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).”

The defense said the P31 million belonged to Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc. (BGEI), the family corporation of Corona’s wife Cristina.

It has offered evidence showing the Manila city government paid P34.7 million for a property the corporation had sold to it.

While the defense was able to show that payment was made, it failed to prove that the money was entrusted to Corona and went to his personal bank accounts, he added.

Angara said no explanation was made on why Corona was years late in declaring in his SALN four condominium units he and his wife had acquired.

“His lawyers tried to justify his failure to declare his Ayala Avenue condominium, acquired in 2004, in his SALNs for 2004 up to 2009 by presenting testimonies that Mrs. Corona had complaints about their unit and that she accepted it only in August 2009,” he said.

However, Angara said some senator-judges, including presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile expressed the view that the Corona should have included the Ayala condominium in his SALNs because there was “value transferred” and that he and his wife already owned it as of December 2004.

“They have not likewise explained the dollar deposits in Philippine Savings Bank. We think those are so substantial as to prompt the Chief Justice to ask the Supreme Court to stop their examination,” he said.

Corona and his bank had petitioned the SC to stop the impeachment court from scrutinizing his dollar deposits. The SC issued a restraining order on the basis of PSBank’s petition.

PSBank president Pascual Garcia III had confirmed the existence of Corona’s five dollar accounts with the bank’s Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City branch.

The prosecution claims that one account holds “$700k,” which it interprets to mean $700,000.

Angara said the defense presented witnesses who claimed Corona earned as much as P26 million in salaries and allowances in 10 years beginning in 2002, apparently in an effort to show that he had the means to buy at least four condominium units in Global City, Taguig, Makati and Quezon City.

However, he said the defense has not shown if the Chief Justice used such income to purchase his properties.

“They left the issue hanging. They are in effect telling the people to make their own conclusion,” he said.

He also pointed out that if Corona is claiming he earned P26 million, he failed to declare such income in his SALN as he reported “cash and investments” amounting only to P2.5 million to P3.5 million.

“The defense is claiming that CJ Corona and his wife had as much as P90 million over a 10-year period. Where is that huge amount in his SALN?” he asked.

Surveys to continue

Pulse Asia will continue to conduct impeachment surveys despite the threat of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to have its officers cited for contempt of the impeachment court if they do another public opinion poll.

Santiago made the threat after Pulse Asia revealed that its recent survey showed that 47 percent of Filipinos were of the view that Corona was guilty of the charges the House of Representatives has filed against him.

A subsequent opinion poll taken by Social Weather Stations showed that 73 percent of the people want the Senate impeachment court to convict Corona.

In a radio interview, Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said his company would continue doing public opinion surveys on Corona’s impeachment.

“The way we understand it, a contemptuous act is committed if one violates an order of a court, and in this case, the Senate impeachment court. But there is no order from the Senate stopping us from conducting surveys on the ongoing impeachment,” he said.

Santiago urged Pulse Asia to reveal who commissioned its recent survey on Corona and who are its owners.

Holmes said no one commissioned its recent impeachment poll, since it was part of the company’s quarterly Ulat ng Bayan public service, he added.

As for his company’s owners, he said 60 percent of the shares “belong to academics, including myself.”

He admitted though that billionaire businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, a relative of President Aquino, remains a stockholder of Pulse Asia.

“He was one of those who founded the company in 1999, together with another relative of the President, Rafa Lopa, who quit as company president in 2008 and turned the position over to me,” he said.

He said he did not think that politics was part of the founders’ motivation in organizing Pulse Asia.

“In 1999, no one thought that Mr. Aquino would become our president,” he said.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=793178&publicationSubCategoryId=63

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer 

MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice Renato Corona would be risking conviction if he opts not to take the stand at his impeachment trial, House prosecutors said Saturday.

Only Corona, not indirect witnesses, could shed light on his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), dollar accounts, the sale of properties to his daughter, and his vote on key cases, prosecutor Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

“All this he has to testify on. Otherwise, they’re courting conviction especially since many senator-judges think he has to testify. That means they’re not satisfied with defense evidence so far presented. I don’t think the defense has a choice,’’ Colmenares said in a telephone interview.

Besides, Corona’s failure to testify would be taken against him, said Marikina Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo, the prosecution’s official spokesperson.

The defense panel has balked at presenting Corona and his wife Cristina as witnesses when the trial resumes on May 7 to shield them supposedly from intense grilling and ridicule.

“We completely disagree,” defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III said in a text message. “The manner by which we present evidence is what we think is the best way to defend the chief justice. The ploy of the prosecution now is to push us to follow their dictates on how we should present our evidence.’’

The defense panel refuted the prosecution’s initial claim that Corona had 45 properties through the testimony of various government officials, without the need for Corona’s testimony, he said.

Corona is accused of betrayal of public trust, graft and corruption, and culpable violation of the Constitution stemming from non-disclosure and inaccurate preparation of his SALNs; bias in a decision favoring Philippine Airlines on the retrenchment of flight attendants and in a ruling favoring former President Macapagal-Arroyo.

Colmenares said he understood the defense lawyers’ concerns that Corona would be grilled by the senator-judges on Articles 2, 3 and 7, but this was the only way the issues could be clarified.

“All this is damaging to the chief justice. If he testifies, the chances that he will survive are small. He has to admit to one thing, like how much is his income, and how did he manage to buy this property of this cost. He’ll crack during the cross-examination,’’ he said.

“He’s forced to good. He has to do it. All this could not be explained by indirect witnesses,’’ Colmenares added. “It would look bad if he allows his wife to testify, but he himself won’t testify.’’

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and other senators have said it would be wise for Corona to take the stand.

Quimbo said that the trial, being political in nature, demands that the accused take the witness stand and answer questions from the senator-judges, “otherwise this will be taken against him.’’

“If he doesn’t show up, people will take this against him and think that he’s hiding something. They have no choice but to present him,’’ Quimbo said.

Quimbo agreed that only Corona could testify on the entries in his SALNs, including the acquisition costs of his various properties, and source of the P32.6 million withdrawn from his account on Dec. 12, 2011; and the sale of their properties to a daughter, among others.

“He has spoken in public. All the more the public expects him to testify under oath,’’ he said.

Colmenares said he believed that there was no need for the impeachment court to define whether non-disclosure of SALN and wealth constituted betrayal of public trust.

“For me betrayal of public trust is very clear. Your oath of office is to follow the law, follow the Constitution and serve the public. Any act which is in violation of the law is betrayal of public trust,’’ he said.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/170207/corona-risks-conviction-by-not-testifying-prosecutors-say

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer 

Registered owners of more than half of the land in Metro Manila may lose their properties as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the “sale certificates” of former friar lands that lacked the signatures of prewar government officials should be deemed void, a senior justice of the court said.

In a 23-page dissenting opinion, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Supreme Court’s March 6 decision in the ownership dispute involving the Manotoks and Barques over the P4-billion Piedad Estate in Quezon City would render millions of residents homeless.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen—a blow to the integrity of our Torrens system [of titles] and the stability of land titles in this country,” Carpio said.

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of landowners would surely be dispossessed of their lands in these areas,” he said.

With a split vote of 8-7, the tribunal upheld its Aug. 24, 2010, decision that awarded the ownership of the 1,282-hectare of lands to the national government.

Chief Justice Renato Corona, who is facing impeachment in the Senate, agreed with the majority ruling written by Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr.

Corona votes twice

Curiously, Corona virtually participated twice in the decision as he also voted with the winning bloc on behalf of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, who was supposed to be on sick leave when the court voted on the matter.

On the signature page of the 32-page decision, Corona wrote on top of Del Castillo’s name, “I certify that J. del Castillo sent his vote concurring with Justice Villarama.”

Like the Chief Justice, Del Castillo is also facing impeachment in the House of Representatives for allegedly plagiarizing the works of two international legal scholars in a ruling he wrote in 2010 junking the claims suit of World War II comfort women.

Sought for comment on Friday, Corona said there was nothing irregular in his signing for Del Castillo, who reported back to work only this week after he went under the knife for a heart ailment last month.

Corona dismissed speculations that he could have influenced his fellow justice in voting for the majority, saying he “never [discussed] cases with justices outside our sessions.”

He said he did not really sign the ruling for Del Castillo. “That’s not true,” the Chief Justice told reporters after attending the daily noon Mass at the Supreme Court. “I did not sign for him. I only certified what his vote was.”

Corona added: “He sent [in] his vote. That’s a long-standing practice [on] the court.”

In denying with finality the opposing appeals of the Manotok and Barque families, the court argued that its previous ruling in the case of Alonso vs Cebu Country Club Inc. would best settle the issue.

Absence of signatures

Reiterating its decision in the Alonso case, which covered the sprawling Banilad Estates in Cebu, the tribunal argued that documents showing purchase and ownership of former friar lands must have the “approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce.”

It said that “no valid titles can be issued … due to the absence of the signatures of the [then] Director of Lands and the Secretary of the Interior.”

The court said that these signatures were “indispensable” proof of the authenticity of the land titles and that the “absence of such approval” made the sale void from the start.

“The prospect of litigants losing friar lands they have possessed for years or decades had never deterred courts from upholding the stringent requirements of the law for a valid acquisition of these lands,” the court said, adding:

“The court’s duty is to apply the law. Petitioner’s concern for other landowners [who] may be similarly affected by our ruling is, without doubt, a legitimate one.”

The court said the solution for the concern of the Manotoks “lies … in the legislature” as in the Alonso case, which, it noted, resulted in the enactment of Republic Act No. 9443.

Equal protection clause

That law upheld the validity of the land titles of former friar lands covered by the Banilad Estates that did not bear the signature of the prewar secretary of the interior.

But Carpio said it was wrong for the court to apply RA 9443 only to the Banilad Estates since it would “result in class legislation.”

“RA 9443 should be extended to lands similarly situated. [O]therwise, there will be violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution,” Carpio said.

Save for their location, Carpio insisted that “there is no substantial distinction between the lands in the Banilad Estates and the other friar lands all over the country.”

“Since the lack of signatures and absence of approval … were cured with the passage of RA 9443, the benefits of the law should also apply to other lands similarly situated,” he said.

Carpio also noted that former Environment Secretary Michael Defensor signed an affidavit on Nov. 11, 2010, stating that he had issued Memorandum Order 1605 on Oct. 27, 2005, to deal with the question of the authenticity of land titles of former friar lands.

To preserve Torrens’ integrity

In his order, Defensor said all deeds of conveyance of friar estates that did not have the signatures of concerned prewar government officials “are deemed signed or otherwise ratified.”

Defensor said the order was “intended to preserve the integrity of the Torrens system and affirm the government’s obligation” as seller of the vast tracts of land.

The former environment secretary also attested that all documents pertaining to the sale of friar estates in the records of the Land Management Bureau (LMB), the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office and the National Archives “did not have the signature” of the secretary of the interior.

“To repeat, [Defensor] states that upon examination, all deeds of conveyance involving friar lands did not have the signature of the secretary [of the interior],” Carpio said.

If the majority ruling would be implemented, Carpio said, more than half of Metro Manila’s 63,600-hectare area may be affected since these used to be friar estates.

“If the Torrens titles to these lands are declared void … then hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of landowners would be rendered homeless or propertyless by the majority decision,” he said.

Gov’t’s responsibility

He said the court should not fault the Manotoks for their failure to present the original copy of the “assignment of sale certificate” since the safekeeping of those documents “is the responsibility of the government.”

“It is only the option for the landowners to keep them. How many landowners can present copies of their original sale certificates?” he said.

“As long as landowners can show other evidence to prove their ownership, they should not be dispossessed of their titles,” he said.

Carpio said that while the Manotoks failed to present the original sale certificate of the property, the petitioners were able to provide “three incontrovertible documents” pertaining to their ancestors’ purchase of the lands.

These included the original copy of the March 11, 1919, “Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054” from the records of the LMB, a subsequent sale certificate dated June 7, 1920, culled from the National Archives and another similar document dated June 23, 1923.

The third document, which Carpio noted was verified to be authentic by LMB records divisions chief Fe Tuanda in 2009, showed that the Manotoks had acquired the former friar lands.

He said the petitioners were able to prove that their family settled the full payment of P2,362 to the government on Dec. 7, 1932, as shown in the “acknowledged receipt” to Severino Manotok.

“Thus, the Manotoks had already acquired ownership [of the lot]. The only resolutory condition … can no longer happen because the full purchase price had already been paid,” Carpio said.

“There is nothing more that is required to be done as the title already passes to the purchaser.”

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/169895/sc-ruling-on-prime-quezon-city-land-blow-to-land-titles

By Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer


President Benigno Aquino III.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

President Benigno Aquino III will decide based on “what is right for the people” the disposition of the coco levy funds.

“Every action that the President has taken is really for the people. That’s the reason why P-Noy (Aquino) is there,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, dismissing allegations by a farmers’ group that Mr. Aquino was poised to enter into a compromise agreement with his uncle, businessman Eduardo “Danding”  Cojuangco, over the disputed funds and the assetsthat were acquired with them.

“Many such stories have been coming out but rest assured, the government will do what is right for the people,” Valte told  state-run dzRB radio.

“The President will always do what is right for the people,” she said.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has challenged the President to reveal what his plans are for the coconut levy funds, particularly with the 24-percent block of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) shares bought with the funds, after the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) and United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corp. laid a P15-billion claim on the shares.

The 24-percent block of SMC shares—originally 27 percent but later diluted because of the SMC equity increase—is part of a bigger block of 47 percent SMC shares that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) sequestered in 1986 for allegedly having been acquired illegally through the use of coco levy funds by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ cronies, principally Cojuangco who was made administrator of the levy by the dictator.

Cojuangco claimed to personally own the remaining 20-percent block, comprising 400,000 shares, which the PCGG had contested in court. (During the Estrada presidency, Cojuangco acquired voting control of the shares, paving the way for his election as chairman of SMC.)

The PCGG claimed that Cojuangco and his associates had used the levy funds to acquire the UCPB, which became a depositary of the levy funds, buy the shares in SMC, create the Coconut Industry Investment Fund(CIIF) and 14 holding companies, acquire six oil mills, among many alleged schemes.

Petitioner PCGG claimed that Cojuangco, in violation of fiduciary trust, borrowed funds from UCPB, of which he was the president, and the six oil mills to purchase 20 percent of the SMC stocks in 1983.

The Supreme Court awarded the 24-percent SMC shares to the government for the benefit of the country’s coconut farmers but in an April 12, 2011 decision, the high court gave Cojuangco the 20-percent block, saying the businessman was not a Marcos crony and that he did not use the levy funds to buy the shares.

Letter bombardment

Hoping that the high court decision on the Cojuangco shares can still be reversed, coconut farmers are resolved to bombard the Supreme Court with letters to reconsider the ruling, which became final and executory this week.

House party-list member Neri Javier Colmenares (Bayan Muna) said the farmers’ groups include the Kongreso ng Manggagawa sa Koprahan (Kompra) and Bicol Coconut Planters Association Inc. (BCPAI), among others.

Kompra and BCPAI belong to a group of coconut farmers fighting for the transfer of coco levy funds to the rightful owners—the coconut farmers who paid the forced tax that Marcos levied on the industry for nine years.

They had filed with the high court a motion to intervene in the case filed by PCGG and farmers groups represented by former Senators Jovito Salonga and Wigberto Tañada, but the motion remains pending.

Colmenares urged other coconut farmers to write letters and petitions to the high court justices, so that the high tribunal would “consider the plight and anguish of the sector.”

Aquino-Cojuangco plot?

Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary general, has called on coconut farmers across the country to escalate protest actions against Mr. Aquino and Cojuangco whom he accuses of “ganging up against small coconut farmers” on the coco levy funds.

“It is the duty of small coconut farmers themselves to launch struggles for the recovery of the coco levy funds and assets, directed against Aquino and Danding (Cojuangco), that is closely linked to the struggle against the monopoly of vast tracts of coco lands by big landlords, the onerous resicada system, and other forms of landlord and state exploitation. No ifs, no buts,” Marbella said.

Marbella, a coconut farmer from Bicol, said the heightened protest actions aim to expose the “conspiracy between Aquino and Cojuangco in the continuing commission of plunder over the funds and blatant injustice to small coconut farmers”.

He said Cojuangco’s support for Mr. Aquino in the latter’s 2010 presidential candidacy had political and economic quid pro quos that included compromises and concessions over the coco levy funds.

“Obviously, the two factions of the Cojuangcos who had previously estranged relations are ganging up against us,” said Marbella.

Marbella, who is also the spokesperson of Kaisahang Pambansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Koprahan (Koprahan), said Aquino’s silence on the coconut levy issue does not mean that the President is “Noynoying,” or doing nothing over the issue.

“In fact, Aquino is maliciously toying with small coconut farmers’ money,” he said.

Controversial appointments

Marbella noted Aquino’s controversial appointments of Jeronimo Kilayko as chief executive officer of UCPB; Francis Jardeleza as Solicitor General; and the creation of the Presidential Task Force Coco Levy.

Kilayko and Jardeleza were both associated with SMC which is chaired by Cojuangco. Jardeleza was the former SMC senior vice president and general counsel while Kilayko once headed the SMC real estate unit and vice chairman of Bank of Commerce when the SMC group took over a controlling stake in the bank.

Marbella said they also believed that the creation of the Task Force Coco Levy, which includes the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), was meant to make use of the coco funds for government programs like the conditional cash transfers.

“The NAPC has no businessover the coco levy funds unless they are up to something against the will of the real owners of the funds,” Marbella said.

Farmers trust fund

Colmenares has called on Congress to fast-track the passage of House Bill No. 3443, or the Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund, which seeks to transform all government shares at SMC into a trust fund.

He said that the measure, if enacted, would allow “the coconut farmers themselves and their organizations (to) administer the coco levy funds to ensure that it is those who were supposed to benefit from the funds are their recipients.”

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has filed a similar bill, Senate Bill No. 2978 which seeks to declare the 27-percent (reduced to 24-percent) block of SMC shares awarded to the government as public funds because it was bought with the levy funds, and to be placed in a Coconut Farmers Trust Fund.

“(The) 27-percent share, once this bill is enacted into law, will form part of the initial capital of the fund,” Enrile said.

This block of shares has been designated the SMC-CIIF block because it was acquired under the CIIF in an elaborate scheme that included the formation of 14 holding companies arranged by Cojuangco’s Accra lawyers.

This SMC-CIIF block comprised 753,848,312 shares and valued, as of January 20, at P57 billion.

Cojuangco’s 20-percent block was officially valued in January at P58.09 billion. With Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/170243/aquino-to-do-whats-right-re-coco-levy-funds-palace

By Celso Amo
The Philippine Star

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has joined the chorus in debunking the negative connotations of “Noynoying,” which activists have coined from the President’s nickname to denote a do-nothing demeanor.

Salceda said President Aquino was able to produce 2.1 million jobs last October and another 1.2 million jobs in January.

The job creation is something historical compared to the 1.7 million jobs created during the Estrada administration in 1999, as well as the 2.4 million jobs created during the Arroyo administration.

“I don’t see it as Noynoying if we know the numbers and know which numbers to look at,” Salceda said during the 4Ps press briefing at the Oriental Hotel Monday morning.

Wikipedia defines Noynoying as a protest gimmick in the form of neologism portraying Aquino as doing nothing on major issues such as disaster response and rising oil prices.

The free Internet-based encyclopedia has picked up the term and defines it as “a play on the term planking and Aquino’s nickname, Noynoy.”

“Noynoying involves posing in a lazy manner, such as sitting idly while resting their head on one hand and doing nothing,” it said.

Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II earlier defined Noynoying as referring to someone who always tells the truth and is careful about the people’s money, not one who is profligate with public funds.

Salceda said job generation does not include the disbursement acceleration program of Aquino, which he computed to be not less than 5.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and double compared to the country’s GDP growth last year.

Salceda, an international financial consultant, said Aquino is benefiting from the rebound of the US economy.

“President Aquino is lucky because the US is producing more jobs and with a 2.5 percent US gross domestic product growth which benefits the country as Americans consume more products from the Philippines,” he said.

“This is not Noynoying but a rational and verifiable study based on accurate available statistics in the past two quarters,” he said.

Critics should take a hard look at the job statistics and not look sideways just to criticize President Aquino, said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III at the same forum.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=791734&publicationSubCategoryId=63

By Evangeline de Vera
Malaya

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday said her efforts at curbing lawless elements are being thwarted by “less-than-respectable elements in the judiciary.”

Speaking before the annual convention of the Philippine Prosecutors’ League at the Manila Hotel, De Lima said the public saw in the past year certain accused individuals apply for and being granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting them, while a former president questioned before the Supreme Court the authority of her department to issue watch-list orders and hold departure orders.

“Therefore, I cannot help but ask myself, what is going on here? How dim-witted do they think we are? Half the problem is the existence of less-than-respectable elements in the judiciary, who issue blatantly unfair and illegal orders without even blinking an eye. But the point is, we cannot take what they dish out lying down,” she said.

De Lima was apparently referring to former NBI director Magtanggol Gatdula, who had gone to the Manila regional trial court seeking redress for being sacked and charged with involvement in the kidnapping of a Japanese woman last year.

She was also referring to the case of former president Gloria Arroyo who went to the SC last year questioning the constitutionality of Department Circular No. 41 which became De Lima’s basis for issuing a travel ban against Arroyo.

The SC has yet to rule on the constitutionality of DC 41 but it has issued a TRO against the travel ban.

The issuance of the TRO was among issues raised in the Articles of Impeachment against Chief Justice Renato Corona who was appointed by Arroyo to the top SC post shortly before she stepped down from the presidency in June 2010. Article VII of the eight articles alleges that Corona favored Arroyo through the Supreme Court’s issuance of the TRO in November last year. Early this month, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Corona’s impeachment was triggered by the TRO.

About two weeks ago, Palace spokesmen said they would cease commenting on the impeachment issue. Last week, President Aquino said he would no longer respond to allegations being hurled by Corona’s camp.

De Lima, in the case of the writ of amparo, defied the Manila court’s order allowing the inspection of the vehicle used by an ambushed NBI official. The ambush is being blamed on Gatdula. De Lima said the order of the RTC is not yet enforceable because the DOJ has a pending motion for reconsideration that automatically stops the effectivity of the court’s order.

De Lima said that the DOJ has the role of projecting the image of determination by pursuing all avenues to protect and uphold its mandate “by resorting to all legal remedies available to us.”

“Do not hesitate to question their acts and hold them accountable. I tell you, half the battle is won if we could help prevent crimes from being committed by projecting a warrior-like image of competence, integrity and endless resolve,” she told the prosecutors. – Evangeline de Vera

http://www.malaya.com.ph/03302012/news7.html

By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Manila Standard Today

WHEN pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao asked one of his aides to get a chair and have us sit next to him at the 12th Annual “Flash” Elorde Awards Banquet of Champions, we were pleasantly surprised. Not too long ago, he was visibly upset by our comments after his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez and our condemnation of his indiscriminate ways and the leeches, who surround him.

But then, it seemed so long ago and time and circumstance have combined to change it all in a blessed way.

After we sat down, Manny proceeded to ask us about our favorite passage in the Bible and we answered Psalm XXIII — “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Sufficiently impressed when we told him, the psalm says it all, Manny recited several excerpts from the scriptures, chapter and verse, in amazing fashion. We couldn’t believe how much he had memorized and the ease with which he quoted the Bible and reflected on the meaning of the passages he cited. This was certainly a new Manny Pacquiao, far removed from the wild and wooly individual, whose lifestyle brought untold pain to his charming wife and threatened to wreck his family.

God, in His infinite wisdom, effected a complete change in Manny because, from our own knowledge of Pacquiao, he was a soul worth saving and one who could be put to far greater use in setting an example to others to mend their wayward ways because he wields such an influence.

At the Elorde awards night, he and Dyan Castillejo, the indefatigable reporter, who chronicles so much in terms of Manny’s life and times, requested us to attend Pacquiao’s fellowship at ABS-CBN on Thursday evening, where she is indeed a leading light.

We went, not merely to please Dyan and Manny, but to see first hand how Manny, the “Fighter of the Decade” deals with the word of God and to discover even further, his comfort with an obviously new calling.

We were impressed not just with the facility with which he handled the role of a preacher-man, but the genuineness with which he reached out to use his own life’s example as a magnet to get people to change their ways and to believe in the word of God and to learn to love Him like never before.

There was, on Manny’s face, a look of sometimes childlike innocence. In many ways, we felt it was a reflection of his transgressions being washed away by genuine repentance and a new Manny Pacquiao being born again—and we hasten to add —within himself.

All his life his wife Jinkee has been both a tower of strength and a woman of faith and Manny has realized that she too is a blessing in his life and has learned to love her and share a life together with their four children in the embrace of the Lord and His word.

Manny has touched the lives of millions by his incredible achievements in the ring, earning respect and redemption for our country which was long denied the recognition it richly deserved. Beyond that, outside the ring, he has been a picture of humility and an individual, who cares for his people like very few others do.

It somehow pains when people suggest that Pacquiao is using God and religion to further his political ambitions, because it does seem terribly unfair. If anything at all, we sincerely believe that God is using Manny to spread His word because whenever Manny speaks, a multitude listens.

The applause he received at ABS-CBN several times during his address and the warmth with which he was embraced by the over-flowing congregation that gathered at the Dolphy Theater spoke volumes of how much he touched them both individually and collectively.

We know for a fact, that he touched us deep within our soul by the message he carried and the story he told.

Having known Manny since he was a 16 year old kid, striving to break away from the bondage of his family’s poverty and to carve a name for himself and a better life with his God-given talent as a boxer, we can sense the honesty within him.

To him, with God’s grace, many more doors may open but the one thing that will always remain enshrined in our hearts and in our minds is that Manny Pacquiao opened the door and his heart to God and it has served him and blessed him as well as those of us who admire and care for him in a special sort of way.

Manny Pacquiao is indeed a champion for all seasons and for all-time and is truly one of God’s new-found warriors!

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/March/31)

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/2012/03/30/a-new-manny-pacquiao/

Source: Sun Star Manila

MANILA — Sarangani Representative and Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao can get away with contempt charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) if he can submit documents in connection to the huge drop in his tax remittances.

Pacquiao, who has since cried foul over the case, was challenged by BIR Commissioner Kim Henares to do just that after the agency pushed for a “realistic assessment” of his tax liability.

“The sooner he submits, the sooner this controversy will die down. We haven’t mentioned of any liability yet, that’s why we are investigating him,” Henares said Thursday.

“We have to see the gravity of the violation. As of now, we are not even talking or thinking of tax evasion. We are only asking him to submit the documents,” she added.

Henares belied Pacquiao’s claims that he is being harassed by the BIR after its regional office in Sarangani claimed he rebuffed the agency’s summons in March to submit certain documents pertaining to his tax returns.

The Sarangani lawmaker’s failure to obey summons from the BIR prompted Regional Director Rozil Lozares to file the case, citing Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code.

Penalties for this offense could range from a fine of P5,000 to P10,000 and imprisonment of one year to two years.

Lozares said the tax bureau issued a subpoena duces tecum (or subpoena for production of evidence) in January directing Pacquiao to present income-related documents but the lawmaker supposedly failed to appear before them.

Pacquiao said he should no longer be taxed for earnings from his fights abroad consistent to the Philippines-US tax treaty but Malacañang surmised that the investigation will have something to do with his local endorsements.

In the BIR’s list of top 500 taxpayers, the eight-division world champion ranked first in 2008 for paying P125 million but he tumbled down to 113th place in 2010.

“Why the sudden drop?” Henares asked.

Taking the cudgels for Pacquiao is Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., who criticized BIR for showing disrespect to “someone who we all consider as a contemporary hero.”

“If the BIR is certain that Manny committed an error, then just take the necessary actions and file the necessary charges. Why announced it on the papers?” Revilla said.

The senator also advised Pacquiao to take the issue “with a grain of salt” and direct his attention to the upcoming fight against Timothy Bradley on June 9.

But Henares said that Pacquiao should blame himself for the adverse publicity that this controversy brought him, including supposed loss of endorsement deals abroad, saying publicity was fueled by his own camp.

The BIR chief said the BIR in Koronadal City never made mention of him during press conference of its tax campaign.

But the local press got wind of Pacquiao’s failure to obey summons and inquired from the regional director, who was forced to confirm it. (Virgil Lopez/ECV/Sunnex)

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2012/03/30/pacquiao-told-submit-tax-records-or-face-jail-time-213928

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

Hiking through the Zambales hills visiting the villages of the Aeta indigenous people is an exhilarating and yet saddening experience. I have been thinking about my recent visits to the villages of the aboriginal people that first settled the Philippine islands and survived for thousands of years as hunters and gatherers in the abundant rain forests. Today, their future is uncertain and fraught with danger.

There, they developed a simple but beautiful culture that was at one with nature. They never over-hunted; their numbers were well-balanced for survival and healthy living. They had a well developed herbal medical practice that helped them survive thousands of years like the natives of the Amazon forests without modern medicine or much contact with the western world.

They protected the natural habitat and the native birds and animals thrived. Their cultural dances imitate the creatures of the forest such as their respect for nature. Today, all that has changed, the forests and animals are long gone and a greatly diminished environment is all that remains.

When the American-Spanish war broke out in 1898 and soon became the American-Filipino war, 90 percent or more of the rainforests were intact. Today, there is hardly three percent left, all have been logged out and mostly shipped abroad. After the World War II, the logging hardly ever stopped still today it continues. In Pangasinan on Western Luzon Island, a fifty kilometer road has been cut there the last remaining rainforest.

Loggers are still at it and either the government agencies are in cahoots or totally inept to stop it. In the village of Hukay, Calatagan Batangas, huge swaths of mangrove have been cut to shreds damaging the land, causing erosion and the ocean to invade the rice fields and causing a huge loss to the agriculture in the area. Food loss is the result, hunger soon follows.

Their survival depends on mixed farming and the bonus of the mango harvest. They too are facing food crises as prices of rice and other essential commodities increase and the prices that they get for their root crops, bananas, wild honey and mangos have been getting lower. Traders exploit them without compassion. It is only the Preda Fair Trade that buys from them at just and fair prices and delivers some social benefits to enhance their lives and help some of their children go to school. Government services and help hardly ever reach them.

They are part of the 4.5 million Filipinos who say they go hungry from time to time and part of the one billion people seriously hungry all the time worldwide. When drought hits, the result of climate change due to industrial pollution, famine can overwhelm them in a few months. That’s when the rains fail and the soil turns to dust blown in the wind. That’s when you see the skeletons of dead cattle and emaciated skeletal babies dying in their mother’s arms.

As I said in a previous column, 300 children die every hour every day worldwide for the lack of food. Malnutrition is with us and the millennium goal to eliminate or greatly reduce this hunger will not be reached by 2015.

The poor people in the developing world are facing a growing food crises that is getting more serious. Most of them do not have fertile land or the means to plant and nurture it. The best lands are owned and protected and unused by rich and wealthy families. It is investment in property for them not land to use for growing food.

Besides, even unused public land is not distributed with the means to help poor families grow their own food, they are turning the land into housing projects for the rich or they are leasing the land to foreign companies for food production to be shipped back to foreign lands.

There will be an additional 2.5 billion people in the world by 2050, how can they survive? If we act now and get involved with the agencies fighting the world hunger through Fair Trade and social justice, we can help halt the destruction of the environment and end chronic hunger. This we cannot ignore, we cannot turn away, we have to stand up for them and help them overcome the food crises. END

http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/how-we-help-end-hunger/