Thursday, October 30, 2003

The malversation of JDF funds and the Impeachment of Hilario Davide, PART 3

There were six Congressmen who chickened out and withdrew their signatures from the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario Davide. These Congressmen gave various reasons for their 180-degree turn, but I noticed that NONE of them cited "lack of basis" on the impeachment complaint as a reason.

One said he was put off by talks of a settlement, while another belatedly saw alleged collusion between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and business magnate Eduardo Cojuangco, founder of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) party whose members led efforts to pass the complaint.

Biazon, who was the 76th signatory to the complaint, called up the Inquirer to say that he withdrew his signature from the complaint to prove that he did not receive five million pesos as some had alleged. (That's a SORRY-ASS excuse for withdrawing, BIAZON! WHAT AN IDIOT!)

Reports had circulated that congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint received five million pesos each from Cojuangco, who is chief executive officer of the beverage and food conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

Biazon explained he was disappointed with an announcement of NPC leader Representative Gilbert Teodoro that a settlement of the case was in the offing.

Biazon said he believed there was a basis to pursue the impeachment when the complaint was presented to him by Representatives Felix William Fuentebella and Mark Cojuangco.

Kaya raw siya nag-withdraw ay dahil ayaw niyang masabihan na bayaran siya, LOL!

And here's the explanation 2 left-leaning, pro-poor party-list members for taking back their support for the Impeachment complaint:

The two party-list congressmen said they withdrew their signatures after they consulted with coconut farmers and their constituents.

In separate statements, both Bautista and Magtubo justified their earlier endorsement of the complaint, saying it was meant to protect and advance the rights and welfare of the employees of the judiciary.

Magtubo said: "However, events have unfolded such that the impeachment case against Davide is not anymore merely legal but is now highly political. The merits of the case on the disbursement of JDF funds have been overshadowed by factional infighting among the elite."

Bautista said that he continued to believe that Davide must be held to account for the use of the Judiciary Development Fund but he was "constrained" to withdraw his signature.

They said the "politicization" of the impeachment process made them decide to withdraw, but they still believe that Hilario "P120,000/chair" Davide shouldn't be left off the hook that easily.

SANLAKAS, a militant, leftist group, which counts Rep. JV Bautista as one of it's members, were very supportive of the court employees fight against Davide on the JDF issue.

With some congressmen backtracking from the impeachment raps against the chief justice, court employees must persevere and pursue the fight," a militant labor group, Sanlakas, urged also yesterday.

Ironically, Sanlakas representative in Congress, JV Bautista, was one of the first to withdraw his endorsement.

Wilson Fortaleza, president of Sanlakas, said the court employees must pursue the fight for their rightful claim to the JDF should the impeachment proceeding not succeed.

"The court employees are in the best position to pursue this fight independently, specially now that the impeachment process has been reduced to a bitter infighting between factions of the elite and the major branches of government," Fortaleza noted.

He stressed that "without the court employees leading their independent struggle on the issue, their legitimate claim to the JDF will be obscured if not completely eclipsed by the far bigger and rousing issues of the constitutional crisis and factional infighting between the elite."

In short, these leftists may not like Cojuangco, but they still believe Davide screwed the poor court employees out of their allowances and benefits.

This impeachment issue is also beginning to look more and more like a fight between the Edsa Dos "Civil Society" elites supporting Davide and the poor and underpaid 25,000 court employees (w/ their families) all over the country.

The "civil" society elites want to maintain status quo and defend their edsa dos icon, Hilario "P120,000/chair" Davide, and the court employees are wondering why their differential allowances, which used to be around P9,000.00 pesos had dropped to only P2,500.00 to P1,800.00 during the time of Davide.

Here's more from a municipal court clerk:

Nene Rafael, municipal court clerk and vice president for Metro Manila of the Philippine Association of Court Employees, confirmed that employees are “surviving on starvation wages... If not for instant noodles, the court system would have long collapsed because that is the only food we can afford on our salaries.”

“We have many employees [with] a take-home pay of P3,000 a month. If you are the breadwinner, how can your family survive on a P100 a day?” she asked.

Asked to comment on the alleged expensive curtains and chairs for the justices bought with the JDF, Rafael could only shake her head. She said that in their office, she uses a hand-me-down chair. “I bought some nails and glue to fix it.”

It's really outrageous that Mr. Davide and his son Bryan Hilary had no problems spending P120,000 for clerical chairs, luxury retirement mansions and luxury cars, because that kind of excessive spending used up most of the remaining JDF funds specifically allocated for the court employees.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The malversation of JDF funds and the Impeachment of Hilario Davide, PART 2

I guess what really made the House members more determined to pursue the impeachment case against Hilario "P120,000/chair" Davide was the chief justice's ARROGANCE and his blatant efforts to "obstruct justice" by deliberately refusing to provide the necessary documents needed by the House for it's inquiry on the JDF funds.

Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and his associate justices may be guilty of obstruction of justice, for deliberately refusing to provide the House of Representatives documents it seeks in an inquiry involving the expenditures of the fiduciary funds.

All clerks of courts and other court personnel have been officially forbidden by the SC chief justice, with the associate justices' approval, to release any and all documents pertaining to the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).

This was learned yesterday by the Tribune, after having obtained a copy of a signed memorandum dated Oct. 2, 2003, from court administrator Justice Presbiterio Velasco, with an attached en banc resolution from the court, signed by Clerk of Court Luzviminda Puno.

Davide's ARROGANCE backfired because more and more signed the impeachment complaint vs. Davide because House members felt that the Chief Justice was not being transparent about his misuse of public funds.

Then history was made when 88 House members (initial number) voted to impeach Hilario Davide "on charges of graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violations of the Constitution." The pro-administration paper Phil. Daily Inquirer tries hard to portray the impeachment of Davide as Danding's Revenge against the Chief Justice, but I must say, this impeachment complaint would have never passed without the support of non-NPC 43 House members. Out of 88 signatures, 45 came from NPC, and 43 came from other parties and independents.

There were only 45 members from the Nationalist People's Coalition who affixed their signatures in the complaint, with 17 from Lakas; 11 from the LDP; two from Reporma; three from PMP, two from the Liberal Party, three Independents; four from the party-list and one from the People Power Coalition.

Without the huge support form Lakas and other groups and individiuals like LDP, Reporma, PMP, LP, independents, PPC and party-list members, the impeachment complaint would have never gathered enough votes to pass. So unlike the Erap impeachment charade, ano?

(the number of signatories increased to 93 members at one point. Although 6 endorsers backed out, the initiative gained 5 additional signatories.)

Fuentebella said the five more signatories are minority leader Carlos Padilla (LDP, Nueva Vizcaya) and Genaro Alvarez (Lakas, Negros Occidental), Vincent Garcia (Lakas, Davao City), Eduardo Veloso (Lakas, Leyte) and Tomas Dumpit (Lakas, La Union).

The five congressmen brought to 92 the total of endorsers after losing Ernesto Nieva (LP, Manila), Edgar Erice (LP, Caloocan), Mauricio Domogan (Lakas, Baguio), Ruffy Biazon (LDP, Muntinlupa), Renato Magtubo (PM) and JV Bautista (Sanlakas).

The Impeachment complaint was supposed to be trasmitted to the Senate yesterday, but our rotten Supreme Court, in concert with pro-Davide Tongressmen, used every DIRTY TRICK in the book to stop the impeachment process cold.

I'll have more on this later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The malversation of JDF funds and the Impeachment of Hilario Davide

I believe the Daily Tribune was the first newspaper to report on the alleged misuse of JDF funds by Chief Justice Hilario Davide. The article indicated that:

Unlike other government structures, the multi-million building does not have a billboard which shows the start of construction, date of completion, its cost and contractor.

Security is tight and people are kept out except for workers and security personnel of the high court.

Workers refused to answer the reporters questions.

The building, interiors sources said, will be lavishly furnished once completed, has been earmarked by Davide and his clique of retired and retirable justices as their vacation homes upon retirement.

The high court justices are each given a government vacation house in Baguio City, but this privilege and perks only come with the position. There are 15 huge homes for the use of each the magistrates.

The fast-rising building at the SC Compound in Baguio City is being built on government money and is meant to provide “shelter to retired Supreme Court justices on vacation,” sources told the Tribune yesterday.

Court sources claimed this was Davide's idea and a means to “keep the associate justices happy and comfortable” even when they no longer hold judicial power.

Even then, there was already growing resentment among the court officials.

A court source grumbled, questioning why these justices in the Davide court have to spend people's money for the comfort of those who have already benefited enormously from their retirement.

“What is even more insulting to court employees is that this type of housing benefit is not available to ordinary court employees, retired or otherwise,” the court insider said, adding “It was bad enough that there is an increase in the salary of the incumbent members of the Supreme Court, but now come even more freebies for the retired justices, as they are to get the same increase in their pension, but only for them, as the lower court employees are denied these perks,” he fumed.

He said that in all the years he had been with the high court justices he has never seen any batch of high courts lapping it up in luxury on government funds and giving no thought at all to the lowly court employees.

Resentment has been marked in the court employees, who are enraged that to this day, they continue to be kept in the dark on the status of the JDF and how the funds are being disbursed, insisting that contrary to the claims of the SC, they have yet to be given a copy of the fund's audit report.

This is where your JDF funds are going, court employees!

Kudos to the Tribune for getting this scoop. This story was already out since June of 2003 but I noticed that the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a pro-administration newspaper, has been ignoring the story for a long time until it was already apparent that the threat of a Davide Impeachment was imminent.

In September, the Commision on Audit came out with a report that found Justice Davide illegally diverting portions of the JDF funds to finance a retirement mansion, luxury vehicles and P120,000 chairs. The article has lots of details about where the money was spent and how much. Read this too.

Making things worse for Davide are charges of nepotism being hurled against him for having his son not only work for him as his Chief-of-Staff in the SC, but the same son is also the co-chair of the Bids and Awards Committee and is in charge of infrastructure projects financed by the JDF. Try connecting the dots and the big picture becomes clearer. Davide controls the JDF funds. His right-hand man in the SC is his son who is also BAC co-chair and has the authority to dole out contracts to favored companies and pet projects. Something's fishy here.

Davide defenders claim that the Chief Justice is an "honest" and "simple" man who lives a simple life... that they cannot see him doing anything illegal... blah blah blah. Well, I say to these blind supporters, YOU'RE NOT LOOKING HARD ENOUGH. Follow the money. Check his son out. Why is he so influential? Is DADDY looking out for him?

Again, connect the dots.

The name of the son is Joseph Bryan Hilary Davide, btw, and here's more information about him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Bush Speech on the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF

I don't get it. I did a quick reading of Bush Speech before the Phil. Congress and focused on these paragraphs on the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF:

We're on the offensive against the terrorists, draining their funds, disrupting their plans and bringing them to justice, one person at a time. Here in the Philippines, one face of the enemy is the Abu Sayyaf group. These killers torture and behead their victims, while acting -- or claiming to act -- in the name of God. But murder has no home in any religious faith. And these terrorists must find no home in the Philippines.

My government and your government pursue a common objective: We will bring Abu Sayyaf to justice. (Applause.) And we will continue to work together, along with our friends in Southeast Asia, to dismantle Jamaah Islamiya -- the terrorist network, as well as other groups that traffic in violence and chaos. As we fight the terrorists, we're also determined to end conflicts that spread hopelessness and feed terror.

The United States supports President Arroyo's campaign to establish a lasting peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Shortly before his death, Ustaz Hashim Salamat wrote a letter to me professing his rejection of terrorism. Only that commitment to peace can bring a better future to the people in Mindanao.

I call on all the members of the MILF to reject terror and to move forward with political negotiations. When a lasting peace is established, the United States is prepared to provide development assistance to Mindanao. (Applause.)

It's great that Bush wants to finish off our homegrown Abu Sayyaf once and for all. But the Abu Sayyafs are not Islamic terrorists, but a small ragtag group (around 20 members now from a high of 80 three years ago, using government estimates) of greedy bandits, doing mostly kidnapping work around the Mindanao area. Most Filipino Muslims despise them and think they're just a bunch of criminals who are more interested in money than promoting the cause of Islam. Other foreign Muslim groups like the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) aren't sympathetic to them either. I know some US and local officials have tried to link Al Queda to the Abu Sayyafs in the past, but I have not seen any concrete proof of an Abu Sayyaf- Al Queda connection.

Why can't the Philippine Military hunt them down and finish off the remaining 20 Abu Sayyaf members, you ask? Well, because some in the military are corrupt and have colluded with the Abu Sayyafs in the past to get a share of the ransom loot.

If you ask me, I think the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are the real terrorists here. They are an ideologically based, separatist group that advocates the secession of Mindanao from the Philippines and turning that big island into an Islamic state. They have training camps (similar to what Al Queda once had in Afghanistan) to train young boys into Muslim warriors and have recently trained some Jemaah Islamiya foreigner-fighters there. They have bombed crowded places, raided and looted towns and massacred civilians in Christian-dominated areas in the past, to drive the Christians away from Mindanao. And unlike the Abu Sayyaf, they have strong ties with Jemaah Islamiya and Al Queda.

To put it simply, the difference between Abu Sayyaf and the MILF is this: the former kidnaps and kills people mainly for the money and the latter bombs, murder, and kill people to spread terror in the region and push for a separate Islamic Mindanao from the Philippines.

Bush wants the Philippines to make peace with the MILF. He thinks Hashim Salamat is sincere. Boy, I hope he's right this time because we have "made peace" with these Muslim rebels in the past and they've always broken every peace agreement to wage bloody wars against us time and time again. Their dream on an independent Islamic state will not die that easily.

Lastly, I want to take issue with Brett Decker's opinion below:

If Washington and Manila are serious about eliminating Abu Sayyaf, the United States Special Forces should be given the assignment. The terrorist group consists of about 100 poorly trained amateurs. They would be no match for American soldiers already in the Philippines, but they are still eluding Filipino troops.

The Philippine Constitution does not allow foreign troops to wage combat missions on Filipino soil. It does, however, allow the United States to come to the defense of the Philippines if the islands are attacked. Such an action can be justified in the present case because the terrorist groups get foreign money.

Um... what Mr. Decker is proposing is still unconstitutional, I believe. And the Abu Sayyafs don't get foreign funding. They generate their own funds by being part of the kidnap-for-ransom trade. It is the MILF that gets foreign funding from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states.

Additional reading: Ellen Tordesillas' article on the Bush's speech

Monday, October 20, 2003

Now I understand why she's a "first-class citizen of the United States"

Prof. Randy David hits the nail right on the head with this comment:

None of this, of course, means anything to President Macapagal, who prides herself in being among the first heads of state to enlist in the Bush-led posse against the Saddam Hussein regime. Philippine foreign policy under her presidency has been a steady reversal of whatever progress previous administrations had made toward cutting the American umbilical cord. We are back to the days when the United States chose our presidents for us, when our people could not imagine a life without Uncle Sam.

Thus, we are treated to the sad spectacle of a Filipino President seeking an electoral mandate by shamelessly presenting herself, in the memorable words of Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, as a "first class citizen of the United States." Of the many faults that the Macapagal administration has committed in the last two years and a half, this barefaced subservience to the United States is perhaps ultimately the most injurious to the life of our nation.

He's right, of course. Mrs. Arroyo has become too subservient to the US government, so much so that the relationship between the US and RP is not a partnership anymore… No, it's more like a one-sided, Master-and-Servant relationship to me.

I remember one time when US ambassador Francis Ricciardone criticized the Philippines for corruption in their courts and other gov't institutions. Very undiplomatic for an ambassador, many would say, but all Mrs. Arroyo and her officials did was smile and meekly accept the criticism from the US ambassador. Here's what Mr. Ricciardone said:

The number one barrier is "corruption, not just regarding the courts but also officials outside" the judiciary, he told reporters.

"Foreign investors have complained about that to me and to other ambassadors here (that) we have a real problem here," Ricciardone said.

"They want to make sure that foreigners and Filipinos alike and their Filipino partners can have equal access to the courts, to be assured of timely justice, that is not corrupted by people who work outside this system" or within it.

There were a few of GMA's allies who protested the US ambassador's remarks, but Mrs. Arroyo and her administration officials just swallowed their pride and told the media that Mr. Ricciardone is right and told the media that Mr. Ricciardone was right and admitted that there was massive corruption in the Philippines.

The reaction though was very different when the Japanese Ambassador Kojiro Takano "did a Ricciardone" and criticized the Arroyo administration for it's confusing business policies, corruption in high places and the peace and order situation in the country.

Mrs. Arroyo's reaction was swift and angry towards the Japanese ambassador. Mr. Takano tried to apologize for his remarks but Malacanang officials rejected the apology and proceeded to file a diplomatic protest against him.

Obviously, tameme lang si GMA kung si US ambassador Ricciardone ang bumira sa kanila, pero matapang siya kapag Hapon naman ang nagsalita. May double standard dito, diba?

Lastly, I'm not against any US military presence here and I strongly support Bush and America's "war on terror", but we really need to elect a Filipino president who is strong, independent and pro-"war on terror". We don't need a US poodle in Malacanang.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Will the US Aid benefit the Filipinos or the Corrupt Few in the military and in the administration?

The NYT has an opinion article on the Philippines today during Bush's visit to our country. It warns the US about corruption in the Philippine military and fears that the money given by the US gov't in the form of financial aid to the Philippines might be siphoned off or may end up in the pockets of the military and local government officials.

It's true that there is still collusion between some corrupt Philippine military officials and the Abu Sayyaf rebels. The Abu Sayyafs kidnap foreigners and rich Filipino locals, and their military handlers get a cut from the ransom money the Abu Sayyafs receive. In return, the military provides protection to the Abu Sayyafs. A clear example of this is the Lamitan incident, where the Abu Sayyaf terrorists were clearly outnumbered and surrounded inside a hospital compound, but they managed to "escape" the military dragnet with their kidnap victims when the soldiers guarding the area there had all been called in to a "briefing". That left the hospital compound unguarded and allowed the Abu Sayyaf rebels to walk out of the compound with their hostages unhindered.

Not surprisingly, no punishment were meted out to military officers involved in the Lamitan incident because Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the person who succeeded President Joseph Estrada, owed her presidency to the military who installed her as "president" after Edsa Dos and she fears angering the military might lead to another military coup similar to Edsa that could be fatal to her administration.

So she allowed the whitewashing of the Lamitan scandal to avoid any more troubles with her highly-politicized and adventurous military.

You could say that our military-Abu Sayyaf is similar to the Taliban-ISI connection in Pakistan. ISI is Pakistan's Military Intelligence Service.

My hope is for the US troops to stay in the Philippines indefinitely because I don't trust our own military (after their participation in Edsa dos mutiny and installing an unelected person to the presidency) and a pullout of US troops from the Philippines will only revive the Abu Sayyafs, with the help of the corrupt Philippine military, of course.

And like the NYT writer pointed out, it's better for the US to spend it's own money to help rebuild the Philippines instead of throwing money at our own local officials and letting them decide where to spend the money on… because the money will only end up in the pockets and in the Swiss bank accounts of those corrupt officials.

Here BTW, is the NYT article:

A Fair Fight in the Philippines

Published: October 18, 2003

President Bush is in Manila today to visit his ally in the war against terror, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines. Mr. Bush has already announced some $340 million in aid to the Philippines this year, and President Arroyo has said she plans to request additional military assistance to fight terrorism. There's only one problem with this alliance: American aid hasn't improved the Philippine military so far, and in many ways it has benefited the Islamic militants it seeks to combat.

In August, Gen. Narciso Abaya, chief of the Philippine armed forces, made an alarming statement about the condition of his military: "I admit there is graft and corruption at all levels." A significant share of the military budget is lost to graft. Selling military hardware on the black market is another common practice. Recent raids of bases of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front have turned up caches of arms with Philippine military markings.

Even American assistance is siphoned away. Testimony before the Philippine Congress in the past several months revealed that American M-16's provided to the Philippine armed forces have been recovered in camps belonging to Abu Sayyaf, a band of guerrillas and kidnappers. Assault rifles, grenade launchers and other American arms have been used by Muslim radicals against Philippine troops — the very troops United States funds are supposed to assist.

American aid to help fight Islamic radicals is often offset by bribes soldiers take from terrorists to let them get away. Operatives affiliated with Al Qaeda have escaped from maximum-security military prisons, once using a helicopter.

If Washington and Manila are serious about eliminating Abu Sayyaf, the United States Special Forces should be given the assignment. The terrorist group consists of about 100 poorly trained amateurs. They would be no match for American soldiers already in the Philippines, but they are still eluding Filipino troops.

The Philippine Constitution does not allow foreign troops to wage combat missions on Filipino soil. It does, however, allow the United States to come to the defense of the Philippines if the islands are attacked. Such an action can be justified in the present case because the terrorist groups get foreign money.

The mission could win support on Capitol Hill because the situation in the Philippines is precisely what the one in Iraq is not: there is a known enemy of limited ability and numbers on a few small, isolated islands with scant local support. There is minimal risk of escalation because the country is only about 5 percent Muslim. Perhaps more important, fellow Filipino Muslims do not support Abu Sayyaf. Separatist Moros view them as a for-profit gang of thugs rather than a religious movement to defend Islam. The provincial governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao ordered his security force to cooperate in the hunt for Abu Sayyaf.

Unless the integrity of arms transfers to the Philippine military can be guaranteed, which is not likely, the United States should consider cutting off military aid to the Philippines and replacing it with economic support to help develop the poor Muslim islands in the south.

There has been some success in winning local "hearts and minds" already. After building a few roads, bridges, sewers and wells last year, American soldiers were cheered by appreciative Muslims as the troops pulled out of Mindanao. More aid for infrastructure could go a long way to soothing centuries of resentment derived from being shut out of the national economy.

A reorientation of American aid would have the added benefit of helping bolster Philippine democracy. The military has instigated coups in every administration except one since 1965. Withholding support from the Philippine brass sends the message that Washington — the nation's most important ally — expects the military to keep its hands off the civilian institutions of government.

The White House should carefully assess what course will best help stabilize one of its most reliable allies in Asia. Despite the inevitable complications, the Philippines is worthy of American assistance.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Ninez is vindicated. You Can't put a good woman down!

Two months ago, Malacanang's goons tried to silence and bully the Tribune's Ninez Cacho-Olivares by having her arrested (and arraigned 19 TIMES!) for exposing the PIATCO extortion attempt by Malacanang officials.

(Read it all here, here, here, and here. UNBELIEVABLE, no???)

But there is justice in this world and we are now finally seeing the truth coming out on the PIATCO scandal involving Mr. Villaraza and his Malacanang friends.

Fraport slams GMA-Pancho extort try before WB body

The complaint lodged by Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport) before the Word Bank arbitration body in Washington DC served to confirm the "tens of millions" extortion attempt made on the German investor by presidential aides, Gloria Tan-Climaco, presidential adviser on Strategic Projects; Presidential legal counsel Avelino "Nonong" Cruz; and his former partner and President Arroyo's personal lawyer, F. Arthur Pancho Villaraza.

Pressure was being brought to bear on Fraport by the presidential aides to kick out its Philippine partner in the Philipppine International Air Terminal Co. Inc. (Piatco) Terminal 3 project, the Cheng family, to ensure the takeover of the Cheng's shares by the presidential cronies of the project.

The German investor in the controversial multibillion-Piatco Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 confirmed the alleged extortion try by personal lawyer and aides of President Arroyo, whom it also charged of committing "unlawful acts."

The earlier reports on the Villaraza-Climaco-Cruz $70-million extortion try is the subject of numerous libel charges leveled against Tribune publisher and editor-in-chief Ninez Cacho-Olivares who wrote a series of articles on allegations involving at least three Palace personalities namely former Presidential Adviser on Strategic projects Gloria Tan-Climaco, presidential legal counsel Avelino "Nonong" Cruz and Mrs. Arroyo's personal lawyer F. Arthur "Pancho" Villaraza.

The reports were based on a taped conversation of Fraport officials and lawyers where millions of dollars were mentioned as the deal being brokered by Villaraza and others to Fraport, to ensure that the airport project, under certain conditions, one of which was the ouster of the majority shareholder and Filipino partners, the Cheng family, would not be messed around with by the Arroyo presidency.

The complaint from the German investors confirms the extortion attempt made by Vilaraza and the presidential aides.

Congratulations, Ninez Cacho Olivares for your courageous work in exposing these crooks. Nagpa-aresto ka pa para lang ilabas ang katotohanan. Now, it's time for Villaraza and his ilk to go to jail. LET THEM FRY!!!

Jose Pidal and Jose Velarde

A must read 3-part series on "Jose Pidal" and "Jose Velarde" Part I, Part II and Part III. It summarizes everything with lots of information vital for those people who are not familiar with the 2 Joses -- Pidal and Velarde. Very well-researched.

Thursday, October 16, 2003


Maybe COMELEC can answer this... why is the COMELEC's Voter Validation Center headquartered at Rufino Tower in Makati? Jose Ma. Rufino, who is a high-ranking member of LAKAS-CMD and a close political advisor of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, owns Rufino Tower.

GMA: All-American Girl

Tuta kaya ng kano si GMA? Ito kasi ang sinabi ni US Amb. Francis Ricciardone eh:

"As far as I know, President Arroyo is a first-class citizen of the United..." Ricciardone said, cutting off the sentence and laughing it off.

"I think we admire her so much we might make her an honorary citizen," he joked.

I wonder if GMA wasn't a least bit offended by that joke by Ambassador Ricciardone. ANYWAAAYYSS, what's she gonna do about it... tell her boss off?

EXTRA: Here's the trascript of Amb. Ricciardone's Q and A with the Foreign Correspondents.

Arno Sanidad

I watched the Dong Puno Live show last thursday, where the topic was about the Kuratong Baleleng case. The guest on Dong's panel that day included Lito Banayo, Frank Chavez, Mon Tulfo, one of the Fortun lawyers working for Lacson, a USEC DOJ secretary and Reynaldo Wycoco.

The show was doing okay and was kinda entertaining until Mr. Arno Sanidad, one of the original guest that backed out at the last minute, called in to whine about Lito Banayo. He was complaining about something Mr. Banayo said about him.

Frankly, I was watching the whole show and never did I hear anything Banayo said that was outrageous or offensive to Mr. Sanidad. Overreacting lang si Arno. Banayo did not say anything that would warrant that a phone call from arno on the show berating him (w/ mock anger pa-effect).

Sinabi lang ni banayo na bakit sobrang concerned si Arno sa kuratong baleleng case when there were other human rights cases that deserved equal or more attention. Where's the slam or "dis" from banayo there?

Besides, Arno Sanidad was invited to Dong Puno's show but he chose not to participate. Sabi niya hindi raw niya style yung pumunta sa tv shows at pagusapan ang kaso na hinahawakan niya... na he's just a private person that doesn't want the spotlight.

But lo and behold, I saw Arno Sanidad on 2 government controlled stations 4 days later talking about KB (one on Jarius Bondoc's show, the other on ch. 9). Aba, akalo ko ba ayaw niya ng too much attention at publicity? akala ko ba sa korte na lang raw niya idi-discuss ang Kuratong case?

What a PHONY!

BTW, this arno sanidad was also chavit singson's laywer vs. erap and was the one who handled Ador Mawanay and prepared his affidavit. So make no mistake about this guy, he is an anti-erap, anti-lacson partisan. Arno claims he's a "human rights" lawyer. But Joker Arroyo's a "human rights" lawyer too and we all know what a HYPOCRITE he is. I guess hindi na masyadong kahanga-hanga ang "human rights" lawyer tag unlike before. Nowadays, he only helps those who are "victims" of Mrs. Arroyo's enemies, but he refuses to lend his support to those who are victimized by this corrupt administration or those who are perceived to be anti-GMA or not part of Edsa Dos.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Forum Shopping on the KB case

So, the government prosecutors wants the Kuratong Baleleng case transferred to another court because they don't like Judge Theresa Yadao, the original judge who handled the KB case and the one who was tasked to try the case again after re-raffling.

It's really funny, this. They keep changing the rules -- just to get lacson jailed. Sobrang halata na, mga pare ko.

The prosecutors wants the case transferred to a Family court raw, LOL! That's REALLY weird, because a HEINOUS CRIMES court, like Judge Yadao's Branch 81, should be the one handling the case.

Common sense, right? But not to these overeager prosecutors who wants to deliver Lacson's head on a plate to her majesty, Mrs. Arroyo.

Besides, aren't the family courts tasked to handle cases which involve only minor victims who are still alive?

Fortun said R.A. 8369 or the Family Courts Act of 1997 provides that family courts will handle cases which involve only minor victims who are alive.

He said the intent of the law is "to protect minors from trauma brought about by cross examinations and examination of evidence."

It is for this reason, he added, that family court judges and prosecutors undergo special training on handling victims who are minors.

It's really odd to see a "Family court" handling this case instead of a "Heinous Crimes court", but whatever makes the prosecutors and GMA happy, eh?

Anyways, my advice to judge Yadao is to dismiss the case posthaste OR announce that she is willing to not handle the case anymore and instead have the KB case transferred to a family court if that's what the prosecutors want.

In a related news, Sen. Franklin Drilon, Sen. Tito Sotto and Sen. Nene Pimentel issued a joint statement calling the transfer bid "desperate antics of the Arroyo administration."

"The Department of Justice is acting in desperation with its motion to transfer the case, this time to a family court on a very narrow and flimsy argument that two members of the Kuratong Baleleng were allegedly minors.

"This recent move is a clear indication that the prosecution feels threatened. The case was already raffled to Branch 81 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court. They were present during the raffling of the case, signed the attendance sheet, and yet they did not object to the proceedings.

"This is a clear case of forum-shopping which is a punishable act.

"Why are they floating the issue only now? What are they afraid of?

"The prosecutors of this administration are pulling all possible stops in an attempt to control the outcome of the case. They are running out of tricks, and are bent on stretching the provision of law to their advantage.

"By this apparently desperate and legally dubious act, the prosecutors, in fact, undermine the very system of justice they are sworn to uphold."

Plus: Ducky Paredes comments on the KB case

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Blame it ALL on the opposition

When Ping Lacson was PNP chief, he eradicated nearly all of the kidnappings, bank robberies, and "kotong" under his watch.

He got the job done and he NEVER made excuses or blamed somebody else for any problems that arose from his time as police chief.

Get the job done. No excuses. No shifting of blame.

But now, the current administration and the PNP are doing the exact opposite things.

Yes, there's an upsurge of kidnappings, bank robberies and other violent crimes. But instead of doing something about it, Mrs. Arroyo and her allies conveniently blame all their troubles on the opposition instead.

The difference between Lacson and Arroyo is that the former doesn't bitch about his problems but tries to fix it. Mrs. Arroyo OTOH, loves to scapegoat and avoid taking responsibilities for the peace and order situation.

What a miserable failure, this Mrs. Arroyo is.

Ernesto Maceda on this "blame opposition" tactic by the admin:

CITIZENS Action Against Crime reports that 10 cases of kidnapping occurred in August, double that of previous months. And to belie the PNP and AFP's claim that the bank robbers including those responsible for the Citibank heist were arrested in a Taguig raid, another bank holdup occurred the next day at a Union Bank branch in Parañaque, the 27th so far for the year.

Businessmen and civic leaders have expressed alarm. In the meantime, the CIDG and PACER are preoccupied with developing cases against opposition leaders. And now charges of ghost personnel drawing salaries and allowances in the PNP have come up once more. Bus holdups right on Edsa are still unsolved, raising continuing fears on the part of the poor commuting public.

And then you hear that a lowly fish vendor who runs to three rookie policemen is beaten up instead of assisted, then hauled to the police station where he is promptly divested of his day's earnings totaling P26,000 by no less than the station commander.

Is it any wonder that the latest Pulse Asia survey shows a big drop in President Gloria M. Arroyo's approval ratings? Malacañang reaction: Blame Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Well Senator, style nila talagang bulok eh.


Nani Perez finds an ally in Biazon? That's what this article seems to be saying, when Biazon tried to stop Sen. Osmena from probing the Nani Perez IMPSA scandal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

GMA7's Censors Probe Team's controversial report

Here's an article from Bulatlat on the muzzling of Probe Team's report on Ephraim Genuino. The author writes:

I watched the controversial Probe Team report on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chair Efraim Genuino when it was shown at the University of the Philippines’ College of Mass Communication in Diliman, Quezon City last Sept. 17 and tried to look for reasons why it should not be shown. I couldn’t find any.

Of course you won't find any. This is nothing but plain censorship on the part of GMA network. But what I found really interesting were the comments made by Che-Che Lazaro after they finished showing the PAGCOR report to the UP audience:

Most disturbing however was Probe Team’s executive producer Che-Che Lazaro’s statement after the showing in UP. She said it was the first time in Probe’s 15 years with GMA7 that management asked for a copy of their script on the Genuino episode. That, she also said, while there have been instances in the past when the station made suggestions on their report, it was the first time management pulled out an entire show and replaced it with a two-year old episode – just a few minutes before airtime.

Lazaro also revealed that Genuino has now agreed to an interview – but on three conditions: no camera, an advanced copy of questions to be asked, and a copy of Probe’s script.

If I were Ms. Lazaro, I'd tell Mr. Genuino to go fuck himself na lang.

Watching the Probe report in the jampacked UP-CMC room brought back memories of martial law when secret screenings of films barred from the tills by Marcos were held. Although the situation now is less dramatic, the same principles and freedoms are at stake.

It was not a fiery Behn Cervantes or Lino Brocka (both activist movie directors) however that faced the crowd in UP but gentle and cautious Probe producer and staff. Lazaro, Sembrano and Booma Cruz, Probe’s producer, were all careful not to directly link Malacañang to the censorship case.

Meanwhile, GMA7 may have dispelled somewhat the angry reaction with its swift response to the issue via a press release shifting the blame to the Probe Team, questions about its independence have inevitably risen.

Martial law déjà vu? And the nerve of GMA7 to blame the Probe Team for the mess they themselves have created for themselves by practicing "self-censorship" to please the president's cronies.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

SC will come out with Kuratong Baleleng decision today

According to the Tribune, the Supreme Court (SC) is scheduled to issue today a final decision to formally reopen the case, which was earlier dismissed by a Quezon City court for lack of evidence.

It is surprising (and very suspicious) that a once unanimous 13-0 SC ruling in favor of Lacson was overturned into a 10-4-1 vote for the revival of Kuratong Baleleng case and for the re-filing of charges against the senator and 37 others, even though no new evidence was presented by the government on it's motion of reconsideration before the SC.

(And they made their decision on Apr 2, 2003, a day after Lacson announced his intention to run for president in 2004.)

Lacson said it was "surprising" that Davide, Associate Justices Josue Bellosillo, Vicente Mendoza, Artemio Panganiban and Leonardo Quisumbing changed their positions even though the prosecution did not present new arguments to support their motion for reconsideration of the unanimous (13-0) SC ruling on May 28, 2002, remanding the case to the Quezon City Judge Ma. Theresa Yadao to determine if the requirements for provisionally dismissing (later made permanent when the prosecution failed after two years to present new evidence) the case had been met. Instead, the majority took it upon themselves to declare that a new rule did not apply retroactively to the case.

The SC used legal technicalities to justify it's unfair ruling, saying that:

1) there was no proper dismissal of the case by the regional trial court.
2) that the two-year period after preliminary dismissal within which the government must file a new case on finding of new evidence, as set forth in the new rules of procedures, has no retroactive application.

Those justices who dissented also issued their own opinions on the Kuratong revival. Their views on the SC reversal? Same as the majority of fair-minded Filipinos familiar with the case... it's all politics and a "clear example of persecution" against Lacson.

Here's one reason why the highly politicized SC decided to revive Kuratong.

In the early part of last year, the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision referred the so-called "Kuratong Baleleng" case against Senator Panfilo Lacson, et al., to Judge Yadao of the Quezon City RTC for further proceedings. Then DOJ Secretary Hernando Perez considered the decision a victory for the administration but at the same time asked for Judge Yadao's inhibition to hear the case. Still, Secretary Perez moved for the reconsideration of the court's ruling, to everybody's disbelief. Why would one in his sane mind question a ruling in his favor? Obviously, Malacañang would have wanted the Supreme Court, to rule that Section 8, a new provision under Rule 117 of the Rules of the Court, does not prohibit the government from filing a new information against Senator Lacson for murder, notwithstanding that the section explicitly prohibits the revival of the same charge after the lapse of two (2) years after its dismissal.

Not a few suspect that the unstated reason for the motion for reconsideration is to incarcerate Senator Lacson for a crime which is unbailable, thus, effectively removing him from the political scene in the 2004 presidential elections. And to make sure that no bail will be granted to Senator Lacson, the DOJ would disqualify Judge Yadao who has the reputation for her fairness and honesty.

If, as reported in a news item of TODAY the other day, the Supreme Court has voted 10-4-1 to reverse its earlier decision which was unanimously reached without a single dissent, then the turn-around will surely raise eyebrows on the capacity of the Supreme Court justices to act with independence and evenhandedness, considering the political implications of the ruling.

Inquirer columnist and all-around creep Mon Tulfo commented that Lacson will be immediately arrested and be put in jail (while the case is being heard in court) once the SC releases it's decision.

Of course, the recent changes in the composition of the Supreme Court may be partly responsible for the SC reversal.

All Arroyo appointees, except for Associate Justice Antonio "the Firm" Carpio who inhibited himself, voted for the revival of the Kuratong Baleleng case.

The 5 who voted in favor of reopening Kuratong are Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato Corona, Conchita Morales, Romeo Callejo Sr. and Adolfo Azcuna.

UPDATE: Now the gov't claims it has "stronger" evidence against Lacson. When will this charade ever end?

More on Blanquita Pelaez

UPDATE: Go to this link for the latest on Blanquita Pelaez (08/29/05)

Malacanang's "attack dog" exposed once again. From Malaya:

Does the PNP know that a former Camp Crame supplier who has been tapped by Jose Miguel Arroyo's camp to accuse Sen. Panfilo Lacson of having foreign bank accounts is a convicted swindler?

Lito Banayo, Lacson's political adviser and spokesman, raised this question yesterday as he disclosed that Fil-Am businesswoman Blanquita Pelaez has a pending warrant of arrest and has been meted a jail penalty of six months to four years for frustrated estafa.

Banayo said it is surprising that the PNP has not arrested Pelaez despite the findings of the Makati regional trial court Branch 58 that she had duped a military supplies dealer in 1997.

Banayo said Pelaez even managed to recently hold a press conference arranged by the media handlers of Mr. Arroyo.

Banayo added that Pelaez walks in and out of Camp Crame complete with escorts.

Pelaez has sued Lacson in the United States for allegedly denying final payment for a supply of handcuffs when he was PNP chief.

Lacson said the payment he cancelled was to cover import duties on the handcuffs shipment which were for the account of Pelaez under her contract with the PNP.

"Mrs. Pelaez is obviously a crucial asset of Malacañang in this continuing effort to demolish Sen. Lacson and discredit his Jose Pidal expose," Banayo said.

In a five-page decision dated March 14,2003 issued by Makati Judge Winlove Dumayas, Pelaez was also ordered to pay the complainant, Erlinda Sanceda, P540,000 in damages.

Sanceda, a dealer for supplies for the Navy, said that sometime in March and April 1997 she gave Pelaez P540,000 for the purchase of night vision goggles.

"(The) accused falsely pretending that she has the ability and ways to procure night vision devices for the Navy at a lower price and by means of other deceits of similar import, induced and succeeded in inducing the complainant to give and deliver and the accused actually received the amount of P540,000 knowing fully well that her representations were false and fraudulent," Sanceda said in her complaint.

I will repeat the Banayo's question... why haven't the PNP arrested this convicted swindler?

Plus: Ninez Cacho-Olivares has an excellent article on how Malacanang has interfered in the Pidal Investigations from Day One up to now.

And the Tribune has a special 2-part report on the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation (EMYF) and GMA's Lualhati Foundation located here (Part I) and here (Part II). A must read for those who are following the Erap and GMA scandals.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Attack Dog

Supalpal na naman si Blanquita Pelaez!

And what about "Lacson's mansions"? Diba may picture pa si Blanquita nun?

Old recycled news.

Newsbreak should be called Newsbroke because it is totally bankrupt as far as honest-to-goodness, fair and balanced journalism is concerned. Take another instance. Some months back Newsbroke depicted and published a photo of an Ayala-Alabang mansion which it alleged was owned by Sen. Panfilo Lacson. It turned out to be a house owned by a Lacson from Bacolod, not Ping, and Newsbroke editor Marites Danguilan Vitug had to admit the koryente (deliberate misinformation) on her magazine. Was it koryente, or a deliberate mistake to score anti-Lacson propaganda points?

Three days ago another publication made a similarly embarrassing error on the Lacson "mansion." The June 28 Philippine Star came out with a front-page picture of what it said is a 10-room "pink mansion" owned by Lacson, at address 233 San Jose, Ayala Alabang. The Star's yellow and blue masthead should have turned red with shame after alert reviewers checked out the "pink mansion" because it turned out to be owned by Pops Fernandez. The Star found out its "mistake" and apologized the next day, but its stories on the issue continue to be skewed against Lacson.

Buti pa yung Phil. Star, marunong mag-sorry, hindi katulad nung PDI.


First, justice secretary Simeon Datumanong finally admitted that the DOJ has no evidence linking Sen. Loi Estrada and her two children, Jackie Ejercito and Jude Ejercito to the failed mutiny last July 27.

Then on DZBB, Ignacio Bunye seconded Datumanong's statement and called for the PNP to stop this silly investigation and apologize to the former first family.

But now, Sec. Datumanong is reversing himself and is now denying having made his earlier statements.

He claims that he was just answering a "hypothetical question", and that it was too early to say that there's not enough evidence vs. the Estradas.

OTOH, the PNP insists that apologies are not yet warranted at this point because their investigation on the Estrada family is "ongoing".

Interesting. If Sec. Datumanong is saying that it's too early to exonerate the Estradas and the PNP insists that it's investigation against them is still continuing, then why did the police make premature accusations against the estradas, linking them to the Magdalo group, if there was not enough evidence (or if the evidence is flimsy) to begin with?

Should they not first gather enough credible evidence on the Estradas before they make accusations of coup-plotting against them?

But you and I know that this is nothing but pure politics on the part of this adminstration to link the opposition to everything bad that's going on right now in this country... from coups to bank robberies, kidnappings and drug-trafficking.

This illegitimate administration needs an excuse or somebody to blame for their inadequacies.

All in the Family

Not only is CJ Hilario Davide in hot water for alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), money which he used to built luxurious vacation homes, buy luxury cars, and overpriced chairs, but there are now reports that Davide's daughter may be involved in the bidding of these overpriced supplies for the high court.

Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. may find himself in deeper trouble as documents reportedly have been unearthed which point to the alleged involvement of his daughter in the bidding of supplies for the high court.

A son, Brian, also serves as Davide's chief of staff.

A congressional source told the Tribune yesterday that these documents are scheduled for official transmission to the House, adding these documents showing the irregularities attending high court biddings were earlier submitted to US Ambassador to Manila Francis Ricciardone.

“These (documents) were apparently the basis of the US ambassador's speech months ago, when he assailed the corruption in the judiciary,” the source said, on condition of anonymity.

She added that having seen the documents, it was clear that irregularities are present in the bidding system.

“It also does not speak well of the chief justice to have a family member involved in these biddings for supplies.”

The article also offers background info on the Davide-JDF scandal, so try to read it all.

Ping Lacson is Back in the Philippines

Yup. Sen. Lacson is back… and the Arroyo Brothers should be worried. According to the anti-Lacson Phil. Daily Inquirer -- the senator "sneaked" back into the Philippines via Cebu raw.

Yeah right. "Sneaky"... SNEAKY like a FOX! ;)

But here's Max Soliven, who has a different take on Lacson's arrival, and why it was a good idea to skip NAIA:

Sneaky? Or would you call it clever? Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, probably expecting a more than warm reception at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), returned from weeks in the United States last Friday in an unexpected manner.

Lacson flew from Hong Kong direct to Cebu's Mactan International Airport aboard a Cebu Pacific Airways flight. Then he took a private plane from Cebu to Manila - already logged in as a local flight.

Cebu, of course, is a safe haven for the former Philippine National Police Director General. Ping has legions of fans in Cebu - he is an idol "adopted son" down south in that Visayan queen city. As police Metrodiscom commander in Cebu, he made that metropolis and its surroundings a 100 percent "kidnap free" zone by a spectacular feat. When a boy, the scion of a very prominent family, was abducted, Lacson and his cops quickly tracked the gang down to the Bluewater beach resort and went in guns blazing, rescuing the kid unharmed and wiping out the kidnappers. Thus, the "kill the kidnapper" legend of Lacson was born - and for years Cebu was immune to the escalating national pandemic of kidnap-for-ransom.

Lacson had in tow two American agents, who were described as belonging to "Interpol". Sources from inside his camp alleged that he had brought back "original documents", not copies of documents, implicating you-know-who, and the American agents were ready to authenticate their being genuine. Why "Interpol" agents would do this, especially since the Ruling Family could be irritated can only be left to speculation. The best way is to await the "bombshell" Lacson is supposedly planning to explode in the Senate tomorrow or a day or two later. Will he get that opportunity? Will the "bomb" really splatter a few guts all over the sidewalk, or will it prove to be a dud? Abangan.

In truth, Lacson is racing against the clock, and against the calendar. As was reported a few days ago in this corner, a "warrant of arrest" for Lacson has already been drawn up - but still undated - in connection with the old Kuratong Baleleng "wipe-out" case which was resurrected by the Supreme Court. Will Ping be blocked on his way to the Senate - or can he deliver his promised "blockbuster"?

If he manages to do so, it's a safe bet he will immediately disappear. In what direction? Possibly, they'll soon be hunting him with enthusiasm possibly in the same manner they're always claiming they are closing in on al-Ghozi.

With the way Malacanang is behaving lately, who knows? Lacson certainly doesn't want to end up like Ninoy Aquino on the NAIA tarmac, if you know what I mean.

"Never Again!"

"Never again" raw, says Rina Jimenez David.

Pero hindi eh... nauuso na naman ang mga "martial law" tactics ni Marcos sa bansa natin... like GMA's "State of Rebellion" declaration that allows the gov't to arrest dissidents any arrest warrants... like the crackdown on the opposition media e.g. Ninez's arrest and the takeover of opposition paper Manila Times by former GMA publicist Dante Ang... and other efforts to muzzle the media e.g. reporter Tina Panganiban Perez's being accused of "abetting rebellion" by GMA herself and Malacanang's effort to stop the airing of Probe Team's report on PAGCOR.

And now, the DOJ is going after "spoofers" responsible for lampooning Mrs. Arroyo. Aba, pati free speech natin mukhang unti-unting nawawala na rin.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Good Point!

Staff Chatter makes a good point on the Marcos millions case:

In textbook “civil society” reaction, the Palace and the government lawyers including the jokers in Padre Faura said the US court, through Hawaii District Court Judge Manuel Real, could not impose a judgment against the Philippine government in connection with the Marcos wealth.

A very Recto-sian and constitutional knee jerk reaction at first glance.

Only what the Filipino people should forget on cue here is that it had been the Philippine government through high-priced lawyers which had been actively pursuing the Marcos case before the US courts and cannot by any sense of fair play now claim the court cannot issue a judgment against a party before it.

Oo nga naman.

Pahabol: Is this part of a grand strategy by Malacanang to win the 2004 elections by eliminating Erap's masa voters?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NYT on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

The editorial today on the NYT:

Repeated coup rumors and allegations of corruption in high places are destabilizing the Philippine government at a time when it needs more than ever to focus on repairing the battered economy and fighting poverty. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must remove the ambiguity over whether she will run next May so she, and the country, can concentrate on the tasks that lie ahead. If Mrs. Arroyo chooses not to run, as she has previously vowed, she should declare this once and for all, rise above the fray and set about fulfilling some of her promises to reform the economy and the military. If she has changed her mind — and there is no shame in doing so — she should explain why and spell out what she would do with a new mandate.

The NYT is correct. She should declare as soon as possible so that all this uncertainty and unnecessary worry will be laid to rest. It's your call, Mrs. Arroyo.

Mrs. Arroyo is especially vulnerable because of the constitutionally shaky way in which she became president after Joseph Estrada was ousted in January 2001. When she declared last December that she would not run in 2004, it was taken as a positive sign that she would free herself from political considerations and grapple instead with the country's urgent problems. But since then she has been behaving very much like a candidate. She should come clean about her intentions, and so should her opponents. Manila's political class bears a collective responsibility to confine its squabbling to the ballot box, and to start providing Filipinos with solutions rather than plots and rumors.

Of all the potential presidential candidates, Sen. Panfilo Lacson is the only one who has declared his intention to run in 2004 so far. Everybody else is dilly-dallying and unwilling to make a commitment.

And it doesn't help that Mrs. Arroyo, her allies and some in the police were the ones spreading the rumors about the opposition being involved in bank robberies, kidnapping and coup-plotting.

GMA: Politicians behind some bank robberies

Politicians could have been behind some of the latest bank robberies in the country, President Arroyo said Monday.

"Regarding these bank hold-ups, we must now train our sights on the linkages of the underworld and those holding political power," she said without naming names or citing particular cases.

Flashback: Mrs. Arroyo's speech saying she won't run again

Key excerpts on GMA's speech:

However, we also know that we will soon enter the political period leading up to the elections in 2004. My reading on the political winds tells me that the 2004 election may well go down in history as among our most bitterly contested elections ever. This is because of the deep social and political division that we now have.

If this is true, then sincere efforts to launch programs will run the risk of being derailed by political fighting leading up to the elections.

The government in place after 2004 may merely end up inheriting a country as deeply divided as ever. Consequently, we may end up stalling national growth for a few years more as a result of lost momentum.

In view of all these factors, I have decided not to run for President during the election of 2004.

If I were to run, it will require a major political effort on my part. But since I'm among the principal figures in the divisive national events for the last two or three years, my political efforts can only result in never-ending divisiveness.

So, so, true... even more so today.

The hardest working journalist in the business.

When was the last time she ever took a vacation? Araw-araw palagi siyang may column.

Bow ako kay Ninez. She's one tough lady.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Manila Times: Bush Targetted for Assasination in the Philippines

Is there any truth to this?

THE communist New People’s Army has deployed at least 50 of its “elite, highly trained” troops in Metro Manila to carry out an assassination assignment on US President George W. Bush, who is scheduled to visit the country on October 18, military sources said.

Requesting anonymity, the source said the deployment began as early as August “to establish an intelligence network” that would relay information and details to the NPA chain of command about Bush’s eight-hour visit.

“Their first assignment is to link up with front organizations [of the NPA] and, from there, share intelligence information so that an effective assassination plan would be established,” the source said, declining to identify the front organizations.

The guerrillas tasked to carry out the assassination, the source said, are all marksmen who have undergone extensive training in Southern Luzon for that purpose.

Individuals supportive of the NPA cause in Metro Manila will provide refuge to the assassins during their stay before October 18, the source added without elaborating.

My impression is that the Secret Service and Condoleezza Rice would rather see Pres. Bush bypass the Philippines in his itinerary because of the "risks involved" in visiting the Philippines (JI and Al Queda terrorism, assasination), but the US president wants to do Mrs. Arroyo a favor for supporting the America's "War on Terror".

It will be a short, short Phiilppine visit for the US president though... only 8 hours. Understandable, since the Secret Service would want to move Bush out of the country as soon as possible.

So Mrs. Arroyo has only 8 hours to make the most out of Bush's visit and get that "endorsement" from him in preparation for her 2004 presidential run.

Should lacson go to court and throw away the "skirt of Parliamentary Immunity"?

Should lacson go to court and throw away the "skirt of Parliamentary Immunity"?

Neal Cruz makes strong points in his latest column on the Pidal case:

Even some senators don't understand the purpose of the hearings. Senator Francis Pangilinan said Senator Panfilo Lacson must first present his evidence. To repeat, this is not a trial by a court of law that is governed by the Rules of Court, where the prosecution must present its evidence, followed by the defense. It is a summary hearing, and its principal purpose is to gather information. Its main mission is not to declare the Arroyo brothers guilty or not. If the Senate finds prima facie evidence against them, it will endorse its findings to the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman for further investigation and, if warranted, for the filing of charges in court. Thus, the wish of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo to be "charged in court" will be fulfilled.

Mike Arroyo wants to be "charged in court" because he believes Lacson's evidence is "inadmissible" in the courtroom and will be thrown out.

He was even taunting Sen. Lacson for hiding behind the "skirt of parliamentary immunity" by giving privilege speeches in the senate instead of duking it out in court.

But if Lacson is supposedly immune from libel, then how do you explain these libel charges filed by Mike Arroyo in court vs. Lacson after the senator gave an interview to the media? And if I recall correctly, media interviews made by Sen. Lacson are not protected by "parliamentary immunity". And I know Lacson gave numerous interviews on the Pidal case to the media.

So what is this nonsense about Mike Arroyo not being able to file charges against lacson?

It only makes people think that this false challenge to lacson to go to court is nothing but BS and a smokescreen.

Monday, September 15, 2003

End hearings so Senate can focus on other "important matters"

Bel Olivares Cunanan suggested in her column that the Senate should suspend or end the Pidal hearings because this Ping Lacson expose is nothing but politicking and grandstanding on the part of the opposition:

The question is, where do the hearings go from here? Obviously the intention of the opposition is political: it wants the hearings to continue in order to fry Mike and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and introducing "remedial legislation" is secondary. The opposition is also trying to buy time for Lacson as he fishes for more evidence.

Yeah. This Pidal hearing is nothing but "POLITICS, POLITICS, POLITICS". Instead of more Pidal hearings, Ms. Cunanan wants the Senate to focus more on other "important matters of national interest" like this one and not be distracted anymore by this Pidal matter.

Yeah. Let's end the Pidal hearings now so we can spend more time focusing on Lacson's "involvement" with narco-politics, kidnapping, money-laundering... etc.



Monday, January 06, 2003

Political martyrdom certainly becomes Gloria

Political martyrdom certainly becomes Gloria
By Dean Jorge Bocobo
INQ7, January 6, 2003

TRADITIONAL politics has suddenly become the dirtiest of occupations, degraded to an even lower moral status than ever before, by the single puissant stroke of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Rizal Day speech, in which she unexpectedly bowed out of the already-roiling 2004 presidential race. It was a victory for noblesse oblige on the altar of personal sacrifice that marks an early high point in 21st century Filipino politics and destines Gloria for greater, but as yet, unforeseeable things. For now, the only thing sure is that she will get a lot of unsolicited advice from every pundit and politician reformer who thinks he has the answers to all our woes and she, the means and freedom to implement them. Both would be dead wrong of course and she would be better off charging for listening to such unsolicited advice, to put a dent in the budget deficit.

But certainly, political martyrdom becomes Gloria. If anything, that speech should negate once and for all, the accusation that she was just a spoiled brat before this, an opportunist, into whose undeserving lap the presidency once upon a time fell when Erap's plutocracy imploded and the Supreme Court blessed the civilian-military coup d'etat that deposed him. It was a speech that clearly showed Gloria as a person with class, with no inclination to be grasping, ready to give away what mere happenstance gratuitously dropped her way, until a real opportunity to win and deserve one's fortune should present itself.

It also messes up everybody else's plans, schemes and timetables because Gloria has merely decided not to run in the 2004 elections, she has not entered a political nunnery. Not only will she wield considerable power over who gets a crack at the presidency in 2004, she has in fact, extended her own political viability and shelf life. She could still run for the presidency, on her own considerable merit in 2010 or in any conceivable rearrangement due to Charter change, before then. Noble sacrifice or royal blunder, the decision gives Gloria the moral high ground from which to show everyone what she really believes in and what she is really made of. This moral clarity and unequivocal purpose, I hope she will apply to domestic policy in the balance of her term. Her leadership of the country, post 9/11 and the war on terrorism and through all the travails imposed by the Abu Sayyaf, would come to naught if the "outdated social system" which she refers to as preventing our progress as a nation, were to survive much longer into the brave new world of this century.

Conventional wisdom says her withdrawal from the 2004 race opens the door to other candidates. But she's not going away any time soon and the likes of Loren Legarda, Raul Roco, Noli de Castro and other non-opposition aspirants cannot easily ignore the need for her approbation and support, without which it might now be difficult to mount a successful presidential bid. The queen may be more comfortable as kingmaker in a season when political assassins abound and the 2004 race incites the basest passions in other men.

Besides, it is the prospect of opening the door to other ideas and tapping new sources of human energy for saving the Philippines from the Filipinos and the Filipinos from themselves that has been made greater by Gloria's decision.

By putting on Jose Rizal's overcoat of noble personal sacrifice and calling on all Filipinos to do the same, Gloria has issued to her generation, the Filipino baby boomers, a clarion call to public service in the manner of a John F. Kennedy. Many of their number have already been recruited to that enterprise under her administration, which still straddles the generations, but is getting a decidedly younger and younger cast as time goes on. The promising entry of Cito Lorenzo into the Department of Agriculture and Bebet Gozun at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources signals this continuing generational shift under Gloria's reign. They join the other young Filipinos in Gloria's Cabinet to whom the baton is being inexorably passed.

Gloria is certainly assured of a place in that communion of living political saints maintained around Corazon Aquino and vouchsafed by Cardinal Sin, to which she is already being canonized by a crescendo of approving praise for her recent action. This is coming from erstwhile Church, media and civil society allies that had become less than enthusiastic in their support for her this past year or so or have even been alienated from her camp in the series of breakups with the likes of Vice President Teofisto Guingona and former Education Secretary Raul Roco. The quick rebuilding or reaffirmation of her support from these significant sectors has been an immediate windfall of the Rizal Day speech, despite the pestiferous fulminations of self-appointed presidential tormentors and harpies, in the likes of Pastor Saycon and Linda Montayre. The support of these sectors will be important if she intends to go on a moral crusade to reform the government, fight corruption and save the economy.

What will actually happen depends on the pureness of her intentions and the willingness of the citizenry to do the right thing in the difficult days ahead.