For the second straight day, Malacañang yesterday slammed the door on the media in connection with a recent challenge made by an opposition senator for the government to book embattled Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia for plunder before a civilian court, not for mere adminis-trative charges involving violation of the Articles of War before a general court martial or mere perjury before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Ignacio Bunye, Mrs. Arroyo's spokesman and concurrent Press Secretary, refused to face reporters, which apparent disappearing act Palace insiders said had been prompted by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. daring Malacañang last week to have Garcia answer charges of plunder, a non-bailable capital offense, unlike perjury.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Congrats, Dictator Angara, now go get your reward from Pikachu.
Rep. Sonny Angara, son of the senator, however, appeared to contradict the claims of Bunye and confirmed that his father had indeed met with Mrs. Arroyo, House Speaker Jose de Venecia and Senate President Franklin Drilon on Oct. 20 this year, to talk about Mrs. Arroyo's offer of a Cabinet post, saying “they (Mrs. Arroyo and congressional leaders) invited my dad to a government of national unity,” Rep. Angara said.DIE PALACE MOLE DIE DIE DIE!!!
“The talks are still at the exploratory stage,” he told members of the United Opposition during a meeting of the opposition members and leaders late Friday night.
Speaker Jose de Venecia yesterday said the Philippines has gained a "major moral and diplomatic victory" with the approval Thursday by the UN General Assembly of the Philippine proposal for an inter-faith dialogue among nations and civilizations.
De Venecia, the original proponent of the inter-faith dialogue, said mechanism is now in place for conflict resolution and prevention using the moral influence of the religious sector.
Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo announced the UN approval of the Philippine resolution, which taps the religious sector for cooling down ethnic tensions and decades-long political-religious conflicts in various parts of the world.
De Venecia, who presented the proposal before the UN Security Council last month, said inter-faith dialogue is a significant initiative that has the potential to achieve reconciliation, justice and the rule of law.
The dialogue will be useful in preventing Christian-Muslim conflicts, Hindu-Muslim conflicts in the Kashmir, Jewish-Muslim conflicts in Palestine, and Buddhist-Muslim conflicts in various parts of Asia, he said.
"I believe that the religious sector has the moral influence to help the Security Council's efforts particularly in conflicts with religious undertones... the religious sector could become an effective tool in achieving the international community's peace-building agenda," he said.
De Venecia said the interfaith dialogue "could harness religious leaders to work with political leaders of government and civil society to help resolve difficult politico-religious conflicts in various parts of the world."
"We must all learn to create space for alternative faiths, if we are to find an alternative to so much violence and hatred and if we are to respond to the crisis of values that so pervades today's planet," he added.
Romulo commended Ambassador Lauro Baja Jr., permanent representative to the United Nations, and the Philippine Mission to the UN "for their dedicated work in having the Philippine resolution unanimously adopted."
Romulo said it took the Philippines to remind the UN that religion "plays a key role in preventing conflicts."
Now we know with absolute certainty.It is really getting disgusting na, this zarzuela.
The constitutional injunction of civilian authority being supreme over the military at all times is a myth, just as Gloria Arroyo's claim of her government adhering to the rule of law, is.
That these are myths in Philippine society has been proved once again in the case of the arrest orders issued by the Sandiganbayan and served on accused Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, who is under military custody, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) top general ordering his subalterns not to release Garcia to the civilian court.
And what does the anti-graft court say to this blatant breach of the constitutional principle on civilian supremacy?
It does not defend that authority with which the Constitution vested the courts. Instead, the court fortifies military supremacy, saying there is no tug of war between the Sandiganbayan and the AFP, because, as the sheriff reasoned, it is better for the military to take custody of Garcia, since he is under military arrest and cannot therefore, avail himself of bail, which the accused could obtain, under a civilian court that has charged him with perjury.
This line was earlier enunciated by Gloria Arroyo, President and Commander-in-Chief, when she told reporters she wanted a court martial for Garcia because this way, he would be denied his right to bail.
If such is the logic, why lodge a case against the general in a civilian court and subject him simultaneously to a court martial?
Of what use then is the constitutional principle vesting every accused his right to bail, if this right is intentionally being trampled on by the highest civilian authority, to ensure the accused is denied his freedom?
But even the courts, which is a civilian authority, refuses to fight to uphold this constitutional principle of civilian supremacy. The Sandiganbayan, after its arrest order was rebuffed by the military brass, had issued two more arrest warrants against Garcia, knowing the futility of these warrants of arrest being enforced, reducing the court to saying it is better this way, since there is no conflict. But what do the law and the Constitution say? Does it say whenever it is convenient to both parties, the constitutional principle can be disregarded?
No conflict when it is evident that civilian supremacy is deliberately being eroded by the military's refusal to bow to civilian rule?
And there went the AFP top brass, announcing two options in the case of Garcia, one of which would be the option of sending him to the same detention cell where the Magdalo leaders are being incarcerated, once he retires, or the option of Garcia being surrendered by the military to the custody of the civilian court.
It is, any which way it is cut, the military deciding on whether to keep Garcia in military detention, or giving him up to the Sandiganbayan, where he can post bail. It is not the civilian authority that will make that decision, but the military authority. And yet the Gloria government continues to claim that civilian authority reigns supreme under her stewardship? And she claims the rule of law is being followed, with yet another presidential claim that the courts are independent, even when it is proven, time and again, that the courts, including the Supreme Court, are under her thumb and subserviently bow to her whims and caprices in matters of law and the Constitution.
An equal danger to democracy and the rule of law, as well as civilian supremacy is the apparent collusion between the civilian authorities and the military in raping the law and the Constitution by allowing those whom they wish to protect to walk.
The Garcia case is pure zarzuela, with Gloria, the AFP, the courts and the concerned government agencies acting their parts out, to provide the public with a performance intended to create the illusion that the accused is not beyond the pale of the law, even when he, in reality, is being protected from the law.
Garcia is ordered restricted to quarters, which is no different from a house arrest, by the AFP brass. He is being subjected to a military trial, on not too serious offenses of the Articles of War. The Ombudsman sits on the Garcia case, and finally slaps him, not with plunder, which allows no bail, but perjury. The Anti-Money Laundering Council slaps an order to freeze Garcia's assets, only after he has been given all the time and opportunity to clean out his bank accounts, which held tens of millions. The Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan slap Garcia with a forfeiture order when there is no longer anything to forfeit. And the Immigration bureau places the Garcia family members on a hold order list, but only after the wife and sons are safely in the United States.
Sure, there will be held a court martial. Sure, there will be a weak case of perjury against Garcia in the Sandiganbayan, and as sure as hell, Garcia will, when the time comes, be surrendered by the military to the Sandiganbayan, to enable him to post bail.
And sure, he will walk, not because he will have proved his innocence, but because the top brass and Gloria Arroyo will make sure he walks, for him not to bring the house down.
It is a mockery of the law and a mockery of the constitutional provision that states clearly the civilian authority being supreme to the military at all times.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
From Lito Banayo:
Why have SWS and Pulse Asia been so silent these days? How come they allow this outfit with the funny, unimaginative name, or over-imaginative some would say, pretentious even, this CIA, or Center for Issues and Advocacy, to rate this government and La Gloria's leadership?
Funny too that former president FVR's long-time and ever-loyal publicist, Ed Malay, should be announcing the latest ratings which sound almost like FVR's rantings. From 8 percent in August to a minus 57 in October. I'm sure Toting Bunye will have dug deep into his dictionary of spins to disparage these ratings by the time this column sees print. When Ibon said the president's ratings had plunged to some 67 percent, Malacañang derisively labeled it "leftist". Now CIA, as rightist a name as anybody could ever imagine, and right by association likewise, also says she failed. Malacañang ought to call in Mahar and Pepe, and hope to inveigle them to come up with something upbeat fast. Exit polls, perhaps?
The Spanish Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, yesterday faced a barrage of derision over his government's anti-Americanism following a snub by President George W Bush.Is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Bush's "black book" too? Likely, after she gave in to terrorist demands and pulled all the RP troops out of Iraq ahead of schedule.
Mr Zapatero was one of the first premiers to send a congratulatory telegram to Mr Bush after his election victory last week.
But, in what was a stinging confirmation of the poor state of relations between Washington and Madrid, he has yet to receive a reply.
Mr Zapatero had also telephoned Mr Bush before the election result was made official but was not put through to the president.
Spain's newspaper columnists, the opposition People's Party and satirists have made much of the silence between Washington and Madrid.
Mr Zapatero wrote himself firmly into the White House's black books by accusing Mr Bush and Tony Blair of lying over the reasons for going to war with Iraq.
In the summer he immediately honoured an election pledge to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.
He then backed John Kerry in the presidential election and cancelled a standing invitation for US forces to participate in Spain's annual military parade.
Anti-war policies may be popular with the public, but even supportive sections of the media have said that the prime minister's anti-American stance had gone too far.
Most sectors of the Spanish press concluded that the telephone spat was "infantile" but that Mr Zapatero needed to act fast to recover Spain's loss of face abroad.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Gloria rating plunges anew; dumped by 77%
59% SAY GMA NOT DOING ANYTHING TO STOP AFP CORRUPTION
There is more bad news for President Arroyo.
Not only has her public approval ratings dived further with 77 percent saying they were dissatisfied with her; but 97 percent of the survey respondents believe that widespread corruption exists in the Arroyo government, with only 1 percent believing otherwise and 2 percent saying they do not know.
Also, there was registered in the survey results, 88 percent believing the reports of corruption engaged in by the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with 59 percent, a sizable majority, saying Mrs. Arroyo is doing nothing to stop the corruption in the AFP.
The survey was conducted among 500 respondents based in Metro Manila, or the National Capital Region, by the Center for Issues and Advocacy (CIA) and Data Advisors Inc.
With the latest survey results out from the same survey firm, Metro Manila respondents gave Mrs. Arroyo a minus 59 performance rating which CIA officers said is a drastic departure from the +8 percent net satisfaction rating the same survey group gave the President after her first 100 days in office.
A total of 500 respondents were interviewed from Oct. 26 to 29 by 10 enumerators using printed questionnaire in face-to-face interviews with adult and voting residents of Quezon City, Caloocan City, Makati City, Metro Manila, Pasay City and Pasig City which represent the north, east, south, west and the center of the metropolis.
The results validate an earlier survey conducted by Ibon, where the President's rating nosedived, showing 76 percent of Filipinos nationwide dumping her.
I hope she and Noli de Cashtro resigns na, for the good of the country and let the real winner take over.
The White House has put out word daily of calls flooding in from around the world to congratulate President Bush on his re-election victory. But somehow, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero just hasn't been able to get his call past the switchboard.But you're not alone Zapatero. Gloria's been getting the same treatment too.
Zapatero phoned Bush not long after his Nov. 2 win, but wasn't put through to the president. Now, more than a week after the voting, the two leaders still have not hooked up.
The White House explanation signaled something of a cold shoulder toward the Spanish leader, who angered the administration by withdrawing troops from Iraq just after taking office in April.
"I think that may be the case, that he has tried to reach out," Bush press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday. "Calls are scheduled at times that are mutually convenient. Some calls are able to be scheduled quicker than others."
Meanwhile, Bush met privately on Tuesday at the White House with Spain's former prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, who was a chief Bush ally in the war in Iraq.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
The Associated Press and Reuters, quoting Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sources, reported that a $12-million ransom has been demanded for the release of Roberto Tarongoy, the second Filipino hostage in Iraq.
Our own sources tell us it is $15 million. Why such a big amount? Because it is an open secret in Baghdad that $6 million was paid for the release of hostage Angelo de la Cruz.
This has become another bone of contention between the US government and President Arroyo. This explains why earlier the US government wanted to handle the negotiations for the release of Tarongoy and an American co-employee. But as you know President Arroyo and DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo decided to go on their own and deal directly with the kidnappers, indicating they are willing to negotiate for a ransom payment.
If we can afford to pay such a big amount for Angelo de la Cruz and now for Roberto Tarongoy, then we should now offer $10,000 each for overseas Filipino workers to leave Iraq and bring them all home. Roberto Tarongoy will not be the last hostage taken. And with civil war breaking out, there will definitely be Filipino casualties.
We cannot dilly-dally or tarry on this issue a minute longer. It's time to bring them home.
Nah, Manong. We will let Libya and Malaysia pay the ransom. It does two things: GMA gets to save the Tarongoy and it allows Libya and Malaysia to indirectly help/finance the "insurgency" with $$$.
A smile and a smirk. Why was US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone smiling and President Arroyo smirking after their meeting the afternoon after the US elections with President George W. Bush as the winner?
What demands or conditions were imposed on Mrs. Arroyo? Did it involve Robert Tarongoy? Was an audit and accounting demanded on the use of US (and Japanese) aid? Was the one-on-one meeting between President Bush and Mrs. Arroyo in Chile formally and finally declined?
Was she forewarned that unless widespread corruption was seriously dealt with by Mrs. Arroyo, the $12 billion loans falling due in the first quarter of 2005 would not be extended?
Was she informed that Condolezza Rice, another critic of Mrs. Arroyo after the Iraq withdrawal of Filipino troops, would be the next Secretary of State? Or was another deployment of Filipino troops to Iraq suggested?
Or is it all of the above?
With a Moody Investors Service downgrade of our credit rating looming fast, I hate to predict what will happen by the end of February, the anniversary of Edsa I.
Don't cry for me, Argentina!
I don't know Manong. The only thing certain is that GMA is in deep shit for pulling out of our commitments in Iraq.
Wrong track. The sudden departure of Department of National Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz for China just weeks after Mrs. Arroyo's visit to Beijing certainly adds to the strain in US-Philippine relations.
China is the US government's main worry in Asia. Mrs. Arroyo is sending the wrong signals by playing the China card at this time.
Remember President Bush saying, if you are not with us, you are against us.
As Ambassador Albert del Rosario complained — “This administration has no direction.” Others are less generous. I have heard half-a-dozen ranking senators and congressmen say hilo na.
And why should Secretary Cruz take valuable time off for a China trip when he has not yet come up with a package of solutions to stop corruption in the military establishment, much less to contain the insurgency on several fronts?
Wrong priorities. Wrong direction.
Signs of the times. President Erap's press statements are getting prominent treatment in media. Administration senators are as vocal as opposition senators in criticizing the administration's tax and fiscal measures. More resignations, but no takers for Cabinet jobs. Meetings of opposition leaders are well attended and are becoming more frequent. ABS-CBN and GMA broadcasters have turned critical, their stand apparently sanctioned by their bosses. Callers and texters to radio talk shows are 90 percent critical and very blunt. More whistleblowers are coming out of the woodwork. President Arroyo is suddenly talking of a government of national unity.
Talking about "national unity"? GMA? Hah! Alam kasi nyang babagsak na siya kaya she's now pretending to seek "reconciliation" with the opposition.
OTHER ARTICLES worth reading here and here.
THE Senate committee on trade and commerce concluded, after several consultations with the business community, that consumers have been holding off on their usual buying, and as a result, retail outlets, from supermarkets to neighborhood talipapas, have felt the pinch.No way dude, sabi ni GMA wala na raw fiscal crisis. Tapos na raw siya! We will jingle all the way!!!
Committee chair Senator Mar Roxas said that at first glance, it would seem that rising fuel prices and electricity costs are forcing households to spend less. Representatives of supermarket associations, as well as Mar's favorite palengkeras are saying that sales have gone down by some 20 to 25 percent. That is a lot.
I come from a family of shopkeepers, steeped in trading and retail services. And I know where these retailers and Mar Roxas are coming from and talking about. All you have to do is look around you. Even in the high and medium-end supermarkets, notice how shoppers compare price tags and the net weights of jars and tin cans, with pocket calculators to boot. In fast food outlets, notice how everyone has come up with "super-savers" and cheap "specials". And see how fine-dining restaurant owners count the days between paydays with great anticipation, as those are about the only times their cash registers jingle.
We have a relative who has been in the business of making candles since I was in short pants. They are, as far as I know, one of the country's biggest wax and tallow purveyors. They'd stock up on candles months before All Saints' Day. In our hometown to pay respects to common forebears last week, they were telling my mom how bad business was, how even Chinoys who used to buy tall, big and fancy candles had scrimped.
In fact, in the mausoleum where my lolo and tito were interred, along with some 600 who were massacred by the Japanese during the Pacific War, I noticed how few and how small the candles were. Signs of the times. The price of flowers hardly went up during the traditional "undas". Demand was low, and retailers overbought from their suppliers.
In Benguet and the rest of the montañosa, vegetable and fruit farmers have had more than two years of "indulto". Last year and before, it was massive smuggling of cheap veggies from China and elsewhere that did them in. Now, on top of the smuggling scourge, there is less demand for upland vegetables. The hotels and fancy restaurants buy imported produce; the middle class have foregone pechay Baguio and broccoli, and are into kangkong and talong.
Students of economics, whether they studied under Professor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or not, know that there is economic contraction when demand lies fallow. When buyers stop buying, or buy less, panic strikes the businessman.
Most businessmen in fact do not mind creeping inflation, for as long as there is increased demand. When demand goes down, prices remain stagnant, or in some cases go down, and profit declines.
That is bad enough. But worse is when the cost of doing business is on the upswing. The combination of demand slowing down and cost pushing upwards is a lethal combination. It is the big squeeze.
You have no demand-pull, but you have a cost-push. Prices remain stagnant, while you are forced to absorb higher costs. The cost of transport. The cost of utilities, most significantly, electricity. The cost of inputs that are almost always imported, and therefore subject to the never-ending decline of the peso's exchange value.
Many shopkeepers are looking to Christmas not as a season of joy, but hopefully, just means to erase the red ink that has accumulated throughout this annus horribilis. If Mar Roxas' conclusions are correct, why, Christmas isn't about to jingle or jangle their cash registers. Wait then till the tinsel wears off. That's when the closures and the lay-offs begin.
President Gloria probably recalls what microeconomic theorists call the "Red Queen" effect, a take-off from that Alice in Wonderland character. You could run twice as fast and remain in the same place. That is the tragedy of today's business. That is the tragedy of today's average Filipino workingman. You could work twice as hard as you ever did, but your profits or your standard of living remains the same. In the case of many, both profits and standards of living have deteriorated.
We are victims of the big squeeze. Squeezed between higher costs and flagging demand. Squeezed between stagnant incomes and the high cost of basic necessities. And it isn't our fault either. We are just the victims, period. Of whom, of what? Of continued and continuing bad governance; of monopolies who corrupt the corruptible whose power of discretion is enshrined in bad governance, who have neither accountability nor shame, neither principle nor fear of retribution.
A Happy Christmas? Good luck!
Her secretary for Ssocio-economic planning, in trying to defend his president, said her earlier declaration of a "fiscal crisis" was just a wake-up call for Congress to pass the "sin taxes". Now that the Lower House has obliged her with a watered-down version of these excise tax increases, she is apparently content. And she thinks the international creditors, those whom Cory Aquino once sarcastically called the "noble houses of finance", are appeased.
Nambobola lang pala si presidente. O di kaya, nan-duduro. What a government!
Gloria the lying "magician". After 3 months, tapos na ang fiscal crisis!
Gloria gives Velarde P221M for housingInteresting.
Biggest Pag-IBIG drawdown ever
Mike Velarde, head of the El Shaddai movement and president of a company engaged in housing development, yesterday received a check from Pag-IBIG for P221 million, the biggest one-time drawdown for a project in the Fund's history.
The money will fund a credit facility for Amvel Land Development Corp. for the continued construction of Tower 1 of Amvel Mansions in Parañaque, described as the biggest residential high-rise project under the Medium/High Rise Building program (MHRB) of the Pag-IBIG Fund.
With President Arroyo as witness, Vice President Noli de Castro, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Pag-IBIG Fund Board of Trustees, turned over the check to Velarde.
The Pag-IBIG Fund has approved a P353 million financing package for the entire project consisting of Tower I with 14 storeys and Tower II with 12 stories. Both towers will have a total of 353 residential units ranging from 44.8 sq.m. to 95.75 sq.m. each.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos admits he is green with envy at the way the US elections were conducted efficiently with the results known in 12 hours, with 120 million voters.
Chairman Abalos pledged to automate the 2004 elections and loudly promised that since he was a victim of cheating in the past, he would not allow that to happen again under his watch.
Now, my good friend Ben Abalos' excuse is to blame the Supreme Court (SC) for his failures. No, sir, the SC is not responsible for Comelec supervisors selling dagdag-bawas votes. The SC is not to be blamed for manufactured certificates of canvass or ghost voters or excess ballots. And neither is it the SC's job to monitor the excessive expenditure of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Mar Roxas and others.
Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman, the blame is pointing directly at your forehead. Read the dissenting opinion in Sen. Barber's case which questioned the use of a second set of tampered returns for Sultan Kudarat by the majority. You could not even make good on your personal assurance to me that you will not allow me to be cheated.
Let's give elections 2007 a chance. Chairman Abalos should now resign and give way to a new chairman. He should have resigned after the SC ruled the Mega Pacific contract null and void. Certainly the appointment of Commissioners Manuel Barcelona and Virgilio Garcillano should be rejected by the Commission on Appointments or better yet, withdrawn. They are the biggest roadblocks to credible elections.
And why is no senator really pushing electoral reforms?
When Simeon Marcelo was appointed Ombudsman, there were high hopes he would do much better than his predecessor Aniano Desierto.
But so far, he has not delivered. He has dillydallied on the filing of plunder charges against Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.
And in spite of the SC directive, he has not moved to file a case against Chairman Abalos and company on the illegal Mega Pacific award, a P1-billion loss to the government.
Now you see it, now you don't. The President has become a magician who now has made the fiscal crisis disappear before our very eyes.
In her speech before governors and other local officials, she said there is no longer a “crisis” but a “fiscal problem.” But this was effectively belied by the manifesto read by Bohol Gov. Rico Aumentado who offered the local executives help to bail out the country from a fiscal crisis.
And now no less than Speaker Joe de Venecia and former Finance Secretary Jesus Estanislao said the President's declaration is premature.
“The fiscal crisis is far from over. It will come sooner than later,” Estanislao declared.
Malacañang says we should be hopeful and optimistic, not gloomy. How can anyone be hopeful when Mrs. Arroyo's actions do not match her words?
She talked about the need to stop corruption in her speech before the LGU executives but she is the biggest roadblock. She does not have the will to fire anybody. She cannot even put the First Gentleman and her son Mikey under control.
Armed Forces of the Philippines nurses Myrna David, Vivian Pangilinan, Elena Nacional and Nora Minor who blew the whistle on Col. William Yu, Fort Bonifacio General Hospital, should be rewarded, not relieved.
Why should there be a prohibition against military officers exposing their grievances in media? That's a constitutional right. Scrap that nonsense. We should encourage it. It takes a lot of courage for anybody to expose the illegal activities of one's superior officers. That's a badge of courage that should be rewarded.
Gen. Efren Abu as Philippine Army commanding general was wrong in not acting more decisively on the nurses' complaint. Lives of soldiers were at stake.
This too from Maceda's column yesterday.
The coming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Santiago, Chile, scheduled for Nov. 20-21 is now the event to watch.Wawa naman si "Iron Lady" Gloria.
It will be the first opportunity for President Arroyo to meet with US President George W. Bush since the pullout of Filipino troops from Iraq over which US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone admits the US President was “hurt” and “we have not forgotten.” But he will always say the relations between the US and the Philippines are “good.”
It is customary for Presidents and Prime Ministers to take advantage of the two-day Apec summit to hold one-on-one bilateral talks. In the 2000 Apec summit in New Zealand, (as the Philippine ambassador) we successfully negotiated with the State Department to get a Clinton-Estrada meeting, one of only six such meetings granted by the US President. Press Secretary and concurrent presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo and Bush will talk at the sidelines, but that's not enough.
We have it on good authority that as usual the request for a Bush-Arroyo one-on-one formal meeting in Santiago, has been made to the White House weeks ago. In fact, there was a sounding out for a private meeting in the US before proceeding to Chile. But as Ambassador Ricciardone indicated to a columnist during a US Embassy election watch party, there is no word yet on the date for the Arroyo request. There are 20 other countries asking for a one-on-one meeting with newly-reelected President Bush. Which one will the fountain bless?
In the light of his impressive victory, President Bush has emerged as a strong leader with a solid mandate. Even French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin have issued very conciliatory messages to President Bush.
In this atmosphere, the Philippines becomes a minor, dispensable player in the world stage of George W. Bush. Will the “W” in his name mean, “Wait ka lang GMA, walang panahon?”
In the light of this, the Iraq pullout decision has turned out to be a monstrous mistake.
With the House and Senate in Republican control, it will be rough sailing too, for us in their committees.
And I've done some calculations kung gaano kalaki ang increase ng binabayad natin. Compare the increase from last month (october) to this month (november), using 500 kWh as a given value. (Check calculations below)
Applying the October 2004 formula for calculating your MERALCO bill (using 500kwh), you pay Php 3482.94
Applying the November 2004 formula for calculating your bill (using 500kwh), you pay Php 4217.86
4217.86 - 3482.94 = Php 734.92
An increase of 734.92 pesos from last month or an increase of 21.1%. Take note, tumaas Generation Charge value.
Kaya pa bang mag-survive yung mga middle class kung patuloy na tumataas ang kuryente natin? there's talk na tataas pa rin next year ang singil sa kuryente. Sigurado ba sila na pang No. 2 lang ang Pilipinas sa most expensive electricity sa Asia? Baka pati Japan talo na rin sa atin.
Generation Charge 500 X 3.495 = 1747.50
Transmission Charge 500 X 0.8975 = 448.75
System Loss Charge 500 X 0.5493 = 274.65
Distribution Charge 500 X 1.6615 = 830.75
Supply Charge 500 X 0.5271 = 263.55
Retail Customer Charge 5 X 1 = 5.00
Metering System Charge 500 X 0.2435 = 121.75
Lifeline Rate Subsidy 500 X 0.0761 = 38.05
Interclass Subsidy 500 X -0.713 = -356.50
**PowerAct Redn 500 X -0.2035 = -101.75
CERA 830.75 X 11.87% = 98.61
National 3370.36 X 2% = 67.41
Local 3370.36 X 0.75% = 25.28
Missionary 500 X 0.0373 = 18.65
Environmental Fund 500 X 0.0025 = 1.25
TOTAL CURRENT AMOUNT Php = 3482.94
Generation Charge 500 X 4.57 = 2285.00
Transmission Charge 500 X 0.8345 = 417.25
System Loss Charge 500 X 0.6965 = 348.25
Distribution Charge 500 X 1.6615 = 830.75
Supply Charge 500 X 0.5271 = 263.55
Retail Customer Charge 5 X 1 = 5.00
Metering System Charge 500 X 0.2435 = 121.75
Lifeline Rate Subsidy 500 X 0.0761 = 38.05
Interclass Subsidy 500 X -0.4278 = -213.90
**PowerAct Redn 500 X -0.2174 = -108.70
CERA 830.75 X 11.87% = 98.61
National 4085.61 X 2% = 81.71
Local 4085.61 X 0.75% = 30.64
Missionary 500 X 0.0373 = 18.65
Environmental Fund 500 X 0.0025 = 1.25
TOTAL CURRENT AMOUNT = Php 4217.86
The board of directors of the World Society of Magicians should be considering an application from a Filipina for admission to the society. The name of the applicant is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
GMA's claim for admission to the society, whose membership includes the celebrated David Copperfield, is premised on her ability to make a nation's fiscal problem disappear with a wave of her little hand. Eat your hearts out, David Copperfield and Harry Houdini: The object of GMA's prestidigitational prowess is an entire nation, not mere objects.
Late in August, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared at a Philippine National Police function that this country had entered a state of “fiscal crisis.” Someone who sits in the presidential chair in Malacañang does not, and is not expected to, play around with words. The President of Cebu clearly and deliberately uttered the word “crisis,” which connotes a bad situation of very serious proportions. A crisis is far more consequential than a problem, yet GMA spoke of a crisis, not a problem.
And the crisis that GMA spoke of was a fiscal one. “Fiscal” is a word with a specific technical connotation; the average person doesn't know exactly what it means; he or she only vaguely knows that “fiscal” has to do with the government's finances.
What Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the nation was in last August, then, was a bad problem of very serious proportions involving the government's finances. The Filipino people and the international community took her at her word — that the Philippines was in the midst of a fiscal crisis. Why wouldn't they? This was the occupant of Malacañang talking.
Now, less than three months after making her gloom-and-doom declaration, GMA is telling her Cabinet to stop talking about a fiscal crisis because the crisis she spoke about has been solved. Congressional action on her eight-part tax program did the trick, the President of Cebu grandly explained. With the passage of the taxes, she said, there is no more crisis to speak of.
This now-you-see-it-now-you-don't performance by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo eminently qualifies the little lady to be a member of the World Society of Magicians, perhaps even its chairman. There just isn't any way that one can make a national financial predicament disappear in three months. Three years, maybe. But three months? No way can it be done, certainly not in a Third World setting.
GMA's August 2004 declaration doubtless came as a surprise to most Filipinos, but to knowledgeable observers here and abroad it didn't. The rapid buildup of government debt during the period 2001-2003, the recurrent shortfalls in tax collections, the steady decline in tax effort, the progressive rise in the ratio of debt service to the national debt — these numbers were already there for the economists and financial analysts to evaluate and form judgments on. They already knew that the Philippines had arrived at the state that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said it was in a fiscal crisis.
These numbers have not changed, and even have worsened, during the last three months. What positive changes of consequence have taken place during that period? Only two. One of them — the withholding of part of the internal revenue allotment of the local government units — can hardly be called progressive, for it will take away from the LGU something that was given to them by the legislature in the interest of government decentralization of government. The other change — the indexation of taxes on the so-called sin products — has been done in such a watered-down way that the expectable incremental revenues are bound to be considerably less than the government had projected.
Nor is there likely to be any relief anytime soon from the biggest albatross on the government's back: service on the indebtedness of the National Power Corp. (Napocor).
Barring a near-miracle, the sole of Napocor is not going to materialize in the near future, and that expense item is likely to remain a very heavy burden on the national budget.
Trained economist though she is, GMA apparently appears unable to grasp the fact the fiscal crisis she reported to us about is in essence a debt management problem. The P4.5-trillion public-sector debt was in place in August 2004, and it is still there today. Service of that debt, in the context of a Philippine credit-rating downgrade, is going to remain a very critical matter for the Department of Finance.
Paraphrasing then-candidate Bill Clinton in the 1990 US presidential elections, I am sorely tempted to say to GMA, “It's the debt, stupid.”
Welcome to the World Society of Magicians Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the David Copperfield of the Philippines. With a wave of her little hand, she can make crises appear and disappear.
Amrodin Makasilang, who is among the country's "most wanted" kidnappers and is on the "order of battle" of the National Anti-kidnapping Task Force, appealed a finding of the Parañaque prosecutor that he had kidnapped Lourdes Santiago. It turned out that Makasilang held Santiago and asked her to call her daughter to bring money to them because she was being detained against her will.Mautak talaga itong si Angelo Reyes. APRUB!
The daughter went to the police who then laid a trap for Makasilang. Thus was Makasilang caught, He explains that this was no kidnap; Santiago owed him money for jewelry that Santiago had taken from him and for which she had not paid. He wanted payment for a debt.
And thus, it is clear now how so many "kidnappers" on the ten "most wanted" list have been caught by the National Anti-kidnapping Task Force. One always wondered how they could be so efficient. As it now turns out, their targets are placed on the "most wanted" list after they are caught.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia yesterday sought the dismissal of cases filed against him by the military on the ground of "defective" evidence.
Garcia's move was contained in a four-page counter-affidavit to charges of violation of two Articles of War.
Garcia appeared at around 9 a.m. at AFP Hall of Justice for the pre-trial investigation.
Lt. Col. Al Perreras, chief of the military justice division of the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO) and JAGO's executive officer, refused to allow media to cover the pre-trial. "All we have to do is to receive the counter-affidavit," he said.
He also refused to give media copies of Garcia's counter-affidavit, saying he has yet to read it.
Asked what transpired during the pre-trial that lasted for just around 30 minutes, Perreras said: "They just submitted the counter-affidavit. Thereafter, I made a manifestation that the case is now being submitted for resolution."
Perreras also would not give media copies of a 32-page document submitted by Garcia's lawyer Constantino de Jesus, titled: "Accused's Invitation or Proposals for Stipulation or Admissions Particularly on the Obvious Defects of the Charge Sheet (with motion for dismissal of charge sheet for being defective)."
"I have not read the counter-affidavit and the other documents submitted by General Garcia but these will be considered in the resolution of this case," Perreras said.
Perreras said he is going to resolve the case in a day or two, after which he is going to make a recommendation to AFP chief Lt. Gen. Efren Abu on whether to convene a court martial.
There's a chance na makakalusot si Garcia due to technicalities, which is not surprising if it happens because let's face it -- prinoprotektahan naman talaga ni GMA ang mga heneral na nagluklok sa kanya sa Malacanang during Edsa dos.
PINOY BALIK-ULING NA!Yikes!
Hindi malayong bumalik na sa paggamit ng uling ang maraming pamilyang Filipino bunga na rin ng sunud-sunod at walang pagkaawat na pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente at halaga ng panlutong gas gaya ng liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Simula kaninang madaling-araw ay muling nagtaas ang Petron ng presyo ng gasolina at LPG.
Pagpatak ng alas-12:01 ng madaling-araw kanina, 50¢ kada litro ang ipinatong ng Petron sa diesel at P1 naman saiba pang uri ng gasolina at P1.50 kada kilo o P16 kada 11 kilogram ng cylinder tank ng LPG.
Ayon pa kay Fernando Martinez, chairman ng Independent Philippine Petroleum Corporation Association, posibleng pumalo pa sa P2 kada litro ang magiging price hike sa mga produktong petrolyo hanggang Disyembre na ilalatag sa sunud-sunod na adjustments sa mga susunod pang araw.
Kahapon ay inilutang ni Sec. Mike Defensor ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ang pangambang bumalik na sa kultura ng uling ang mga Pinoy dahil sa hindi makayanang presyo ng gas.
From Ducky Paredes:
The rationale for "sin" taxes is so that there will be money to treat the smokers and drinkers of the diseases that they get from their bad habits. In the case of the present "sin" taxes being worked out in Congress, hardly a centavo of this will be spent on health, whether of those who "sin" or of anyone else. Instead, the money will go towards the usual expenses of government!Why is this juetenglord free as a bird??
In fact, a large portion of this will go to Chavit Singson who is charged with dividing the excise tax that goes towards the tobacco-growing provinces to the other Ilocos provinces. That might be the bigger "sin" than the sins that are being taxed.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Inflation spiraled above 7 percent in October to a five-and-a-half-year peak, government data showed on Friday, but the central bank said it would refrain from raising interest rates.
The bank said inflation was being fuelled by higher world oil prices rather than robust domestic demand, so a policy change was not needed.
"It's not necessary," said Central Bank Gov. Rafael Buenaventura. "Essentially, it's still supply side driven, with very minimal or almost no demand side pressure."
Using 1994 as the base year, consumer prices rose 7.1 percent in the year through October from 6.9 percent in September, the National Statistics Office said. The central bank uses 1994 as the base year for its monetary policy decisions.
Inflation was 6.3 percent in August and 6 percent in July.
More bad news, I guess. :(
Thursday, November 04, 2004
But the truth came out later na si FPJ PALA ang nanalo sa NCR by a landslide of 500,000 votes!
Now, pati sa US, may controversy na rin over how the exit polls got it so horribly wrong. And people are talking about it.
Ito ang sinabi ni Dick Morris sa column niya:
Why did the exit polls show such a Democratic win when the Republicans were ahead all along? Why did they bias the coverage in the favor of the Democrats when Bush was winning from the beginning?I believe Mahar Mangahas of SWS and Mercy Abad of Trends (especially HER!) are guilty of bias and fraud in their exit polling as well.
Exit polls are almost impossible to get wrong this way. They are based on interviews with voters as they leave the polling places having just cast their ballots. They don't reflect absentee, mail-in or early-voting ballots, of course — but these voters generally tend Republican. When you combine military votes with those of voters who are likely to travel and need absentee ballots, the bias is all pro-Republican.
So why were the exit polls wrong?
That an exit poll is always right is an axiom of politics. It is easier to assume that a compass is not pointing north than to assume that an exit poll is incorrect. It takes a deliberate act of fraud and bias to get an exit poll wrong. Since the variables of whether or not a person will actually vote are eliminated in exit polling, it is like peeking at the answer before taking the test.
But these exit polls were wrong. And the fact that they were so totally, disastrously wrong is a national scandal. There should be a national investigation to unearth the story behind the bias.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Despite a freeze order on all the assets — a lot of which may already have been cleaned out — of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, along with the Sandiganbayan's summons yesterday for Garcia, his wife Clarita and their three sons, Timothy Mark, Juan Paulo and Ian Carl for them to explain why their P143 million alleged ill-gotten wealth should not be forfeited in favor of the government, no graft and plunder charges have been initiated by the Ombudsman, Simeon Marcelo.Katarantaduhan ito.
House Minority Leader Francis Escudero, yesterday scored Marcelo for failing to file graft and plunder charges against Garcia despite the existence of overwhelming evidence.
Escudero said the failure of the Ombudsman to file at least a graft case against Garcia is a sign that the Arroyo administration is applying a double standard of justice. “Clearly, there is a double standard of justice here,” he said.
Observers also noted that in the case of deposed President Joseph Estrada, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and supporters of then Vice President Arroyo, were quick to act on the allegations of graft, perjury, illegal use of alias and plunder.
“Estrada was ousted even before a case had been filed against him,” the source said yesterday.
Another Filipino has been kidnapped by Iraqi rebel forces.
The Filipino, identified as Roberto Torongoy, said to hail from Davao, was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq.
The Department of Foreign Affairs initially could not confirm the report, although sources said the DFA officials already know of this kidnapping, but were unprepared to face the media on this new kidnapping incident involving the Filipino.
Ano naman kaya ang ipapagawa ng mga "insurgents" kay Gloria? Pauwiin ang mga OFWs na nagtratrabaho sa Iraq?
Sinungaling talaga itong pandak na ito.
Suddenly, President Arroyo has revived the proposal to form a government of national unity, making offers to former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and Sen. Edgardo Angara. It used to be only Speaker Jose de Venecia who pushed this.
In the light of her statements threatening to use an iron hand against destabilizers and political has-beens, her plea has fallen on deaf ears.
When opposition leaders get together, the usual conclusion is - it's useless to talk to Gloria, she is not sincere. And certainly she is not about to relinquish any of her powers.
Anyway, the fact that she has brought it up betrays her insecurities and fears.
I also remember recently na Erap offered to help GMA on RP's hunger problem, pero hindi tinanggap ni pikachu ang tulong ni estrada. Obviously, she's not serious about uniting our country.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
OTOH, I've never heard Kerry talk about Asia or it's role on the WOT, much less the Philippines or any Kerry "plans" to help our country after he got his nomination.
But if you ask, who's better for Gloria -- Bush or Kerry?
Probably Kerry. Wala na kasing tiwala si bush kay ate gloria eh. And I'm sure GMA is praying for a Kerry victory.
But after what GMA did to the coalition by pulling out of its commitment in iraq, I bet neither bush nor kerry will trust ever this GMA admin again.
The hostages' governments will "witness the death of their nationals in three days" unless four demands are met, said Mullah Mohammad Ishaq, spokesman for the Jaishul Muslimeen (Army of Muslims), a breakaway Taliban group.I hope GMA doesn't again give in to these terrorists, but you never know. Many thought she would stand firm and never waver in her commitment to Iraq. Pero anong nangyari, bumigay rin siya sa mga terrorista na kumupkop kay Angelo dela Cruz, di ba?
"We have four demands," Ishaq told AFP by phone.
"First, we want the UN to leave Afghanistan and we want them to condemn the attacks and invasion of Afghanistan by foreign forces," he said.
"Second, we want all those Afghans who have been arrested in Afghanistan and held in foreign prisons to be released immediately.
"Number three, we want Britain and Kosovo to withdraw their forces immediately from Afghanistan or to witness the deaths of their nationals in three days.
"And fourth, we want the Philippines to condemn the invasion of foreign forces in Afghanistan and to announce it as illegal."
"We announce a three-day deadline."
Since what the Taliban group's demand for the RP is "doable", the danger I see is for Arroyo to once again be forced to do something unwise and go for short-term political gains just to prop up her sagging popularity here at home.
Like in Iraq, she also tried to send a "crisis management team" to help negotiate for the release of Mr. Nayan, but the move was rejected by UN officials.
President Arroyo has been trying to move heaven and earth to get a “one-on-one” with US President George W. Bush at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Chile, scheduled for Nov. 20-21, which both she and Bush are slated to attend, a source in the Philippine Embassy in Washington disclosed to the Tribune yesterday.For more on the falling out between Bush and Gloria, read this, this and this.
“The official channels are no longer that open,” the source pointed out.
“Even Amba (Ambassador Albert del Rosario, Philippine envoy to Washington) is having an extremely difficult time just trying to get a message across to the top guys of President Bush,” the embassy source said, adding it was not anything like the treatment Del Rosario used to get before the fallout between Manila and Washington arising from Mrs. Arroyo's unilateral withdrawal of Philippine military contingent in Iraq, where she was seen by the US-led “coalition of the willing'' as having caved in to Iraqi terrorists' demands and placing the members of the alliance in more danger.
An Asian diplomat has also confirmed the runaround that Bush is giving Mrs. Arroyo.
On condition of anonymity, the diplomat also yesterday disclosed to the Tribune that Mrs. Arroyo had given US Embassy officials in Manila the message that she would like to have a “one-on-one” with the US President during the Chile meet, and if this could be arranged, as she expressed to the American diplomats here that she is willing to personally apologize to Bush for the withdrawal of the Philippine contingent in Iraq, sources said.
“President Arroyo's calls to the White House weren't being returned. That's how bad the relationship is between the two leaders. But what Mrs. Arroyo is being told by her people, in explaining her unreturned calls, is that Bush is too busy with his campaign (for reelection).”
Republican Bush squares off with Democratic Sen. John Kerry on Nov. 2 (Nov. 3, Wednesday, Philippine time) in a bid for another four years in the White House.
In Mrs. Arroyo's desperation, according to the Asian diplomat, the President has approached high-ranking US Embassy officials in Manila and privately asked them to facilitate a brief one-on-one meeting with Bush, for the sole purpose of her apologizing to him for her pulling out the country's contingent.
“The US officials didn't buy this (apology) line either,'' the diplomat said, because even during the Leyte Landing rites late last month and while Mrs. Arroyo expressed her gratitude to Bush at least twice, for the delivery of some 30 helicopters and P4-billion military aid for a span of six years, she again stressed her justification for saving the life of Angelo de la Cruz, the Filipino truck driver who was held hostage by the Iraqi rebels, reminding everyone present of her ''Filipino First policy'' even as she claimed that Filipino-American relations have reached a stage of maturity.
The source said this request of Mrs. Arroyo for a one-on-one- with Bush in Chile was “diplomatically turned down,” with officials saying most of Bush's time had already been taken up by advance agreements to sit with other country leaders.
“Knowing this was a futile effort, she (Mrs. Arroyo) instead pleaded to at least have a photo opportunity with Bush, for 'back home,' to provide the locals (Filipinos), with special emphasis on the military, that there are no ill feelings between her and the US President, and that Bush still supports her and her government,” the Asian diplomat said.
Sources in the foreign service also told the Tribune two days ago that there have been moves made by Filipino diplomats in Latin America to “work things out” to ensure that Mrs. Arroyo gets photographed with the US President during the summit.
Malacanang officials, along with the Chief Executive, are said to be hoping for a Kerry victory, for strained relations to heal at a faster clip with a Democrat President in the White House.
It was pointed out by the Philippine Embassy source in Washington that Mrs. Arroyo still wants to project that Bush continues to support her, despite the fallout, pointing out that “Bush will still be in the White House until January 2005, and a lot can still happen, even if Bush loses the race,” the source said.
The source also told the Tribune that Mrs. Arroyo feels her government is “shaky” and that she needs to convey to Filipinos the image that she still has the support of official Washington.
“She (Mrs. Arroyo) knows it is useless to get (Del Rosario) to work things out for her from here (Washington) and is instead working on (US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis) Ricciardone to have that request for a photo op in Chile at least,” the Asian diplomat said, adding “she is that desperate” especially these days when there is trouble in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.(See related story)
The source did not elaborate.
It was reported in the local media that unnamed State Department officials had disclosed that Mrs. Arroyo's calls to the White House are not being entertained, and also expressed Washington's disappointment with her as an ally.
The Philippine President has also been at pains to create that impression of the US and the Philippines continue to enjoy strong and friendly relations despite the fallout.
Sunday, October 31, 2004
An Army nurse yesterday alleged that the Army General Hospital is injecting battle casualties and post-surgery patients with expired antibiotics.Typical reaction by GMA's military -- punish the whistleblowers aka Acsa Ramirez and Carlos Saunar, and sweep the scandal under the rug.
Malacañang said the defense department should do the investigation.
Myrna David, a former staffer at the Army hospital, told Radio Mindanao Network that she found out about the practice when she saw at the end of March a box of antibiotics with an expiry date of Jan. 30.
David said she refused to use the drug for fear of adverse reactions from her patients but she was told that the same supply was also being used in other wards.
She said she and 10 other nurses came forward as witnesses when they heard that anonymous letters protesting the practice had been sent to then Armed Forces chief Gen. Narciso Abaya.
She said when they brought the case before the Office of the Inspector General, their commanding officer, Col. William Yu, was relieved.
But she said and her fellow whistle-blowers were also penalized by being placed on floating status or reassigned. She said she is now assigned to the Office of the Army Chief Nurse.
She said Yu has filed a libel case against her and her 10 others before the Quezon City regional trial court.
She alleged that then Army chief Lt. Gen. Efren Abu, who is now AFP chief of staff, brushed off their complaints, saying the Army leadership had more important issues to tackle.
Is the importance of a free and independent press not in the military curriculum?Stop the coverup, Gen. Abaya!
House minority leader Francis Escudero (NPC, Sorsogon) yesterday took a dig at Gen. (ret.) Narciso Abaya who said Friday media was resorting to rumor-mongering, sensationalism, and trial by publicity.
Abaya made the remarks in his farewell speech as he handed the reins of the AFP to Lt. Gen. Efren Abu, the former Army chief.
"Coup attempts, like corruption scandal, have a way of catching fire, destroying reputations and destabilizing institutions, especially with the sensationalism that has come to characterize the press and media," he said.
Escudero said: "It is sad that despite being in the military for 38 years, he (Abaya) still does not understand and accept the imperatives of a democracy which among others, demands a strong, independent and free press."
Saturday, October 30, 2004
What can we say about our system of justice when Carlos Saunar, the head of the NBI Western Mindanao Regional Office has been sacked? Saunar is currently on the witness stand in the trial of President Joseph Estrada, testifying to the fact that he has found no links that would put the excise tax money stolen by Chavit Singson in the hands of Erap.No good deed goes unpunished indeed.
The P130 million was taken from the Ilocos Sur government's vaults. Chavit says that he gave the money to Atong Ang to deliver to Erap. It has always been an unlikely story. A Chavit will not trust that amount of money to an Atong.
For someone like Chavit to trust Atong with so much money is not possible, especially that Chavit says that they were in Atong's car on the way to Erap's Polk Street residence when Atong told him that he should disembark since someone might recognize him at the Estrada residence. According to Chavit's fairly tale, he realized this immediately and alighted from the vehicle.
Of course, this is a lie.
But that is not the point. Saunar's relief is apparently a signal to the rest of the government that testifying to the truth will be punished. I can see the point of the government. After all, we cannot encourage whistle-blowers. What will happen to us if someone wants to testify against the Pidals? Imagine if someone will testify against Big Mike. Imagine if someone will testify about Little Mike.
Can this government survive that?
I wouldn't be surprised if "Iron Lady" Gloria surrenders again, Duckster.
ANOTHER Angelito has put the Philippines into another situation where we may have to again shed all pretensions to being a proud nation. Terrorists in Afghanistan have kidnapped diplomat Angelito Nayan with two other UN workers.
It is, of course, not Angelito's fault. The thing is, since we gave in to the demands of the terrorists who took a Filipino in Iraq, whoever took Angelito in Afghanistan will take it very hard if we were to not completely give in to their demands. We have written a role for ourselves as the doormat of the world. There is no other way than to accommodate these Afghan terrorists. Imagine how they would feel if we did not kiss their feet considering how easily we caved in to the Iraqis who were holding a truck driver. Angelito is a diplomat!
Nayan, a junior foreign service officer, has been seconded to the Joint Electoral Committee connected with the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. He must be a protégé of Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo since he was on Bert's Senate staff.
Mullah Ishaq Manzoor, commander of a breakaway Taliban faction known as the Jaish-e-Muslimeen (Army of Muslims), says that he has taken them and that he has taken them out of Kabul.
There have been no kidnappings in Afghanistan. This is the first one. Obviously, the Afghans have learned their terrorist lessons from the Iraqis. Expect that a threat of a beheading will soon follow. And then, what will Gloria Arroyo do? The last time, she groveled at the feet of the terrorists and we were fired from the Coalition of the Willing.
What if they tell us to leave the United Nations or else?
Friday, October 29, 2004
President Arroyo's net satisfaction rating has plummeted to minus 67.9 percent, according to the IBON Foundation's October survey.She'd have a difficult time governing this country kung hindi siya credible sa tao.
Of 1,355 respondents, 76.33 percent said they are not satisfied with her performance, 8.46 percent said they are satisfied while 15.21 percent were undecided.
Last April, Arroyo's net satisfaction rating was at 30 percent, which means that her rating plunged by 37.9 percentage points in six months.
The survey, conducted Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
For committing the cardinal “crime” of testifying truthfully, which cleared detained President Joseph Estrada on charges of having diverted some P170 million in tobacco excise tax funds, National Bureau of Investigation regional chief Carlos Saunar, was yesterday relieved by NBI director Reynaldo Wycoco, reportedly on orders of Malacañang and the Ombudsman.More from Malaya:
Saunar is now on floating status.
The sacked NBI regional chief testified before the Sandiganbayan as a witness called in by the defense lawyers of Estrada, who then said in open court that the investigation conducted by the NBI showed that it was Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson who had diverted the tobacco funds, not Estrada, as the paper trail showed that the money was withdrawn, deposited and withdrawn again by persons identified with Singson.
His testimony destroyed the case of the prosecution, as the case for the prosecution hinges on the testimony of Singson, its star witness.
The NBI yesterday ordered the relief of Saunar for his alleged violation of a bureau policy on confidentiality of investigation records and for testifying in favor of the detained leader.
Lead lawyer for the defense, former Sen. Rene Saguisag, slammed the NBI action, saying “it was not enough for the prosecution to harrass the witness. Now it has to even terrorize the defense witnesses.”
Carlos Saunar, a defense witness in the plunder trial of President Joseph Estrada, was relieved yesterday as head of the NBI Western Mindanao Regional Office allegedly for violating the agency's policy on "confidentiality and manifestation of partiality."Gago talaga itong si Wycoco. Ginago niya dati si Lacson. Now, he's making life miserable for this poor NBI witness.
The relief was seen in NBI circles as "punishment" for his testimony which impugned the accusations of Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson that he withdrew P130 million of tobacco excise tax shares for delivery to Estrada.
This was one of the issues raised against Estrada, leading to his impeachment, and when the trial was aborted, his ouster at EDSA 2.
Defense lawyer Jose Flaminiano said the relief of Saunar is tantamount to obstruction of justice.
Flaminiano said Saunar is still on the witness stand undergoing cross-examination. After that, he faces re-direct examination.
With the NBI action, Saunar will be testifying under duress, Flaminiano said. This is tampering with the witness, he added.
He said the defense panel will file contempt charges against NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco and special prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio.
"Villa-Ignacio earlier said he would ask the NBI to sanction Saunar. Apparently he did and Wycoco went along with it," Flaminiano said.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
When a big-time corruption scandal blows up on the face of a high-ranking official of a government agency, the style usually adopted by the high official is to get his colleagues to close ranks and attribute all criticisms and exposés as a “sinister” plot to destroy the institution.Related article here.
This was the stand adopted by Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., when being investigated by members of the House of Representatives on the anomalous disbursements of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), which led to the move to impeach Davide.
He spoke then of the “dark and sinister forces” out to destroy the institution that is the judiciary, even it was only he who was being investigated for the illegal disbursal of the JDF, where funds allocated for the rank-and-file in the judiciary went elsewhere, with hundreds of millions going missing. And yet Davide has the nerve to speak about the need of eliminating corruption in government, and even has the chutzpah to claim that the rule of law must be upheld — he who broke the law and the Constitution which he has sworn to uphold! And hey, he even now urges whistleblowers to come forward. But when it came to blowing the whistle on him, this was a “sinister force?”
The elite, as well as the high court justices, virtually backing up institutionalized corruption in the judiciary by backing up Davide, killed the process of impeachment by coming up with a hometown decision that protected Davide's, and their hide.
The question that should be asked today is whether, by helping to cover up the massive corruption practiced through the illegal disbursal of the JDF funds, the institution has been “saved.”
Evidently, it was Davide and his justices who were “saved,” not the institution of the Supreme Court, because to this day, the great majority of the Filipino people no longer repose their trust and faith in the high court or the entire judiciary, for that matter, in obtaining true justice as they have become political prostitutes.
Similarly, the corruption scandal which erupted from the discovery of a former military comptroller, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, funneling military funds into his bank accounts is now being slammed as an affront to the military institution. It was, however, a discovery that led to more corruption practices in the military, linking past and present chiefs of staff and all their J staff.
Now, they, like Davide and his justices before them, scream that the institution is being destroyed and that the enemies of the state are being given by elected officials the ammunition to crush the institution.
That's pure crap. All they want, as Davide and his court wanted then, was to cover up their crime.
It is their hide they want to protect, and keep on protecting, by bringing up this claim of “saving” the institution.
Ironically, they said nothing about saving the institution of the presidency and the civilian Commander-in-Chief, or even of breach of the chain of command, of the military and police engaging in political partisanship and getting out of the barracks, of the Constitution and democracy itself when they pilloried then President Joseph Estrada on mere allegations of corruption and plunder; they said nothing about upholding the law, or even of granting Estrada his right to due process and even gloried at his being convicted by publicity on mere allegations which charges are now being proved to be fabricated.
Yet these are the same people who now cry foul over allegations of corruption in the disbursal of the JDF funds and other anomalies in the budget of the judiciary, handled by Davide, and charges of corruption leveled against the military generals and their accomplices, claiming that the institutions must be saved.
And there was Gloria Arroyo, telling the senators and congressmen to go easy on the generals, just as she did, for the high court justices — yet she vows to clean up the corruption mess in these institutions when she, at the same time, asks for the officials concerned to go easy on them?
It is precisely because Gloria and her allies have been too easy on the military and her generals that they have become much too arrogant and powerful.
Would a mere chief of staff, or a mere department secretary be so arrogant and rude before a congressional panel and tell them they can't touch him, or his mother, or even inquire into his yet to be explained assets, and showing his contempt of members of Congress if he did not think himself so powerful and beyond the pale of the law?
All this talk about the need for toned down political rhetoric to “save” the institution is pure manure.
It is not the institutions that they seek to save, but their corrupt ways and the ill-gotten wealth to be protected.
For how can these generals, as well as the high court justices, expect to save their institutions, since they themselves destroyed them.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos was correct when she said it was Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes who actually involved his mother when he claimed that his P4.1 million bank deposit belonged to his mother.O baka may personal na away lang between Golez and Reyes?
Rep. Marcos is right to complain that Reyes was very discourteous when he shouted at her in full view of the TV audience.
This attitude is not peculiar to Secretary Reyes alone. You have seen it in the different Edsa II personalities whose arrogant behavior projected their thinking that Edsa II “heroes” are a superior race and should not be questioned on their performance.
The hearings on corruption charges against Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia have confirmed the bad blood between Parañaque City Rep. Roilo Golez, former national security adviser, and Secretary Angelo Reyes, former secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND).But still, Angie's attitude in all this is inexcusable.
Remember the Oakwood mutiny last year when the young officers called for the resignation of Secretary Angelo Reyes on account of incompetence in the Mindanao campaign and corruption? At the time, President Arroyo angrily stated, “they want to remove Reyes to weaken me” and refused to give in.
But shortly after, Mrs. Arroyo asked Reyes to resign as DND chief. Aides of Reyes say they discovered that National Security Council (NSC) head Roilo Golez sent memo after memo to the President that tends to confirm the validity of the Magdalo officers' grievances. (Golez wanted the DND post). Round one to Golez.
At the House hearings the other day, Golez tried to pin down Reyes on the amount of allowances he receives, Reyes answered four times in a loud, angry voice “I receive only authorized allowances.” Congressmen seated close to Golez saw he had a document containing a Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) certification that Reyes was receiving an extra allowance of P2 million a month.
But apparently, Reyes' angry tone forced Golez not to confront him with the Pagcor document at the time.
Golez then reported to the House after the hearings that Reyes confronted him with this challenge, “Pare, pinepersonal mo ako, ano bang gusto mong mangyari?”
To whom Golez just smiled and said, “Relax ka lang.”
Before he left the House, Angie was heard to say “I will get back at him (Golez) with a vengeance.”
Among Golez, Imee Marcos and Peter Allan Cayetano, they barely got anything out of Reyes who they correctly described as arrogant and evasive. Round two to Reyes.
One good thing about this — the hot exchanges between Reyes and Golez have caused Golez to state he will see through these hearings to the end, meaning he is not giving in to Malacañang pressure to terminate the hearings.
I HAVE once again heard the defense that "attacking" certain individuals is tantamount to "attacking" certain institutions. This was the defense of the Roman Catholic Church when scandals surrounding the actuations of some of its cardinals became public; this is now the defense of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when scandals surrounding the apparently criminal activities of some of its generals have come to light.
So now we are told that "attacks" on generals - actually not so much as attacks as the posing of tough and surely painful questions - are attacks on the AFP as an institution; hence to pursue the line of action against the erring generals is actually to threaten the stability and the integrity of the Republic.
Very convenient, indeed. Read it all.
WHAT'S this declaration by the Armed Forces of a nationwide red alert? An early Halloween trick or treat?
The justification, that it is meant to get the soldiers up on their toes for attacks by the New People's Army, doesn't wash. NPA spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal is indeed talking about stepped-up attacks on government forces and installations. But this is nothing new. Ka Roger has been saying the same thing every time a news organization gets in touch with him via cellphone. Giving the impression that the NPA is on the offensive and that the government is on the retreat, after all, summarizes Ka Roger's job description.
Does the military seriously want us to believe that every time Ka Roger says "Boo!" the soldiers hunker down in their camps, outposts and fox holes to repel pre-announced attacks?
The military establishment is being shaken to its foundation by the corruption scandal at the highest level. The red alert is a not so-subtle warning the ongoing investigations had better stick to their narrow course or else...
The goose of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, the former comptroller who allegedly amassed around P200 million from kickbacks and commissions, is cooked. The evidence against is airtight. He is on his way to becoming a guest of the state - free board and lodging - for the rest of his life.
What concerns the public now is whether the investigation of corruption would stop at Garcia. As Garcia himself testified before a House hearing, every action he made had the approval of his superiors. He could not have stolen a fortune all by his lonesome.
The brass are circling the wagons. No question about it. At the moment they are firing over the heads of the hostiles.
Would they dare shift their aim and open with lethal fire? We don't know and, frankly, we believe the time has passed when the political leadership and the citizenry should not be intimidated by the threat of a coup d'etat.
There's no difference between a coup and succumbing to the threat of a coup. The first means death by musketry; the second is death by strangulation. It's the end of the Republic either way.
Let's see if our elected officials will allow themselves to be intimidated by the Military.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
A former chief of the NBI anti-graft division yesterday declared there was "absolutely nothing" that would link President Joseph Estrada and his son, Sen. Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, to the "missing" P130 million tobacco excise tax funds.Hindi ba si Chavit ang dapat ikulong dito, hindi si Erap?
Carlos Saunar, the seventh witness for the defense, headed the team that was tapped by the Department of Justice in October 2000 to look into the disclosures of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson regarding Estrada's alleged involvement in "jueteng" and corruption.
On direct examination by defense lawyer Raymund Fortun, Saunar said he recommended the filing of several criminal complaints against Singson based on the grilling by his team of various persons and the examination of documents on the transactions of the provincial government of Ilocos Sur.
The complaints were later dropped when the Arroyo government granted immunity to Singson after he agreed to be the "star witness" against Estrada.
Instead of giving categorical answers, Reyes was seen as very evasive throughout the hearing and, in many instances, was hostile and war-like.Hoy Imee, hindi mo ba alam, Military people have superiority over civilians like us.
“He did not answer direct questions like, 'Was he receiving additional allowance?' I asked him if it came from authorized sources but he did not give categorical answers,” the congressman said.
“He merely said 'authorized sources' but who are these authorized sources?” Golez added.
“Reyes has a lot of explaining to do. Does that (answer) mean he did not know what is happening as AFP chief and DND (Department of National Defense) secretary?” Golez asked.
Until his appointment by President Arroyo as Interior chief, Reyes had been a military chief of staff and Defense secretary, among many other jobs offered to him by the incumbent administration.
The congressional investigation was spurred by allegations that Reyes is involved in amassing ill-gotten wealth as supposedly indicated by reports that his statement of assets and liabilities and net worth had shown ownership of only P200,000 in 2002, which soared to P18 million in 2004.
Marcos said she was surprised at how Reyes had reacted to her questions on the allegations against him.
“I did not expect that the highest official of the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and a former AFP chief of staff would shout at me, despite my legitimate questions on the controversy into which he has been dragged,'' the Ilocos Norte lawmaker added.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said yesterday Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia hauled several boxes containing P38 million in cash from a Makati bank on Oct. 7, a week before his bank accounts were frozen by the Court of Appeals on the prompting of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.At bakit hindi kumikibo itong abogado ni GMA ng miyembro ng "The Firm" na si DefSec Nonong Cruz?
The accounts at the United Coconut Planters Bank branch in Salcedo Village were in the name of Garcia, his wife Clarita and Timothy Mark, Ian Carl, and Juan Paolo.
Osmeña said eight UPCB accounts in all, of which six were peso accounts and two were dollar accounts, were cleaned up by Garcia before the freeze order.
A summary prepared by the government said earlier that the freeze order was able to cover only seven of the 40 accounts of the Garcias in seven banks and other financial institutions. The deposits in 33 others had been withdrawn before the appellate court could act.
Pimentel said that Cruz, who took over the helm of the Department of National Defense more than two months ago, cannot do a Pilate on the unexplained wealth charges of Garcia and other ranking AFP officers because he is the civilian supervisor of the military establishment.I don't know Sen. Pimentel... could it be that he's part of the coverup? Just Asking.
"Secretary Cruz has been keeping a sphinx-like silence over the scandal and I am wondering why. If he keeps acting that way, he will be marginalized not only in the eyes of the Armed Forces but also in the eyes of the people," he said.
Pimentel said the public has yet to hear from Cruz on what steps he has taken on the prosecution of the charges against Garcia for allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth and on the rooting out of deep-seated corruption in the military.
"When you are the secretary of national defense, anything that happens in your department is your problem. And it is incumbent upon him to have spoken out and take a position either way - if he wants to defend Garcia, he should have come out and said he was in the right. Or if he thinks Gen. Garcia committed something wrong, he should have acted accordingly. Apparently, he decided to wash his hands of the controversy," he said.
EXECUTIVE Order 367 creating the Office of External Affairs is another indication that President Arroyo lives in a world so remote from majority of the Filipino people.
More than five million working-age Filipinos have no jobs and one out of seven Filipino households experience hunger. People are angry at the corruption in all levels of the government. Then she creates the Office of External Affairs to "liaison with constituency groups and build grassroots support for the government's agenda and legislation." It will have an initial budget of P100 million.
The OEA will have offices all over the country and will have supervision over the presidential advisers and assistants for regional concerns. Fernando Mahusay has been named presidential assistant for Region 9, clearly a political payback for having "rescued" his brother, Eugenio or Udong, from the custody of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, to stop him from creating more damage to Mike Arroyo in the Jose Pidal exposé.
The creation of OEA is a slap in the face of all other departments especially the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
The OEA will also have a "representative ...in the United States with the rank of Attaché." Arroyo said "I may even need two (attachés) because we have three-and-a-half million Filipinos there. We will need one in the East Coast, one in the West Coast.
Has Arroyo forgotten that the Department of Foreign Affairs has an embassy (in Washington D.C.) and five consulates (Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) in the United States?
If we follow her line of reasoning that OEA representatives are needed in places where there is a big number of Filipinos, she would have to send OEA representatives all over the world. Just like the DFA with 85 embassies and consulates all over the world.
Our corps of foreign service officers manning Philippine embassies and consulates have the responsibility "to protect the interest of Filipinos nationals abroad" by providing them the necessary services and assistance. What would be the functions of OEA representatives that are not being exercised by DFA personnel? And wasn't Vice President Noli de Castro appointed presidential adviser for Overseas Filipino Workers? And how about Roy Cimatu as her special envoy to the Middle East?
Perplexed by GMA's moves like this creation of OEA amidst a fiscal crisis and by the quality of her appointments like Mahusay, Jun Santiago (presidential adviser on revenue enhancement), and Ramon Revilla (chairman of Public Estates Authority), a friend said, "Mapapabilis ang bagsak ni Arroyo nito (This will hasten Arroyo's fall)."
Arroyo's credibility has reached rock-bottom. There is widespread apathy among the masses. Reports like this, creation of another dumping ground for political stooges no longer surprise the people.
"Kasalanan" ni ErapExactly!
Talaga yatang wala tayong maaasahang pagbabago tungo sa kaunlaran kay Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Ang lakas ng loob. Sa pagkabaon natin sa paghihirap, iba pa ang sinisisi. Kung hindi raw siya nakamana ng problema ng bayan kay Pangulong Estrada, hindi tayo ganito ngayon.
Noong patalsikin si Pangulong Estrada, magkano ba ang utang ng bansa? Tingnan ninyo sa rekord. Mahigit lang P700 billion.
At noong Sabado, Enero 21, 2001 ng umalis si Erap sa Malacañang, may iniwan siyang P78 billion na cash.
Umpisa ng mang-agaw ng poder hanggang ngayon, magkano na ang utang ng naghihirap na bansang Pilipino? Doble na. Halos P1.5 billion.
Kasalanan ba ni Erap iyan?
Nakuha ng mga sundalo ni Erap ang 10,000 ektaryang kampo ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Malaking ani sana ang makukuha rito kung hindi tinumba si Erap.
Ano naman ang ginawa ni GMA matapos mang-agaw ng poder?
Aba, akalain ba naman ninyong ibalik sa MILF ang Kampo Abubakar.
Iyan tuloy. Malaki ang problema sa Mindanao ngayon.
Noong unang buwan ng panunungkulan ni Erap, ang dolyar ay P43 lamang. Magkano na ngayon? Sobra na sa P56. May dagdag na mahigit sa P20 bawat dolyar ngayon.
Kasalanan ba ni Erap iyan?
Bago napatalsik si Erap, halos walang kidnapping for ransom. Nabawasan ang kurakutan ng pulis. Ang mga carnap na kotse na ang iba ay ginagamit ng pulis, ay ibinigay lahat ni Gen. Panfilo Lacson, PNP chief noon, sa mga insurance companies.
Ano ba ngayon ang nangyayari? Dumaan ang panahon na laganap ang kidnapping. Ang isang heneral ng pulis ay gumagamit ng Jaguar na nasamsam daw sa isang drug lord. Anong pakialam ni Erap sa mga iyan. Nakakulong nga iyong tao.
Talaga naman! Pati si Ferdinand Marcos sinisi ni GMA. Di ba bumuti ang kalagayan ng bayan sa panahon nina Pangulong Cory Aquino at Fidel Ramos?
Ibig bang sabihin ni Pangulong Arroyo, ang 12 taon ng "kaunlaran" sa gobyernong Aquino ay giniba ni Erap sa dalawa at kalahating taon lamang?
At hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nakukumpuni ni GMA ang sinira ni Erap. Halos apat na taon ng nakaupo si GMA, kasama na ang tatlo at kalahating taon sa agaw na poder, hindi pa rin tayo nagbabago. Nabubulok pa nga.
Kung hindi haharapin ni Pangulong Arroyo ang maraming problema ng bayan at kung hindi siya magkakaroon ng tibay ng dibdib na magbigay ng solusyon, lalo pa tayong maghihirap.
Wala sino man ang naniniwala na lubog sa kahirapan ang bayan dahil kay Erap. Hindi makakalusot sa paningin ng tao ang hindi tamang pamamaraan ni GMA sa pagsisi kay Erap.
Hanggang ngayon, matapos manalo noong Mayo 10, puro pulitika pa rin ang iniisip ni GMA.
Halos P400 million ang magagastos sa paglipat ng Department of Agrarian Reform sa Iloilo. Mahigit sa 1,400 ang mga empleyado sa Central Office ang mapipilitan ding pumunta sa Iloilo.
Doble parusa. Kung nagbuburnal ng bahay iyong empleyado, magdodoble ang gastos niya dahil sa renta sa Iloilo.
Kung may bahay na bayad na, pipilitin naman ni GMA na magrenta sa Iloilo.
Ganyan din ang aabutin ng mga empleyado sa Central Office ng Department of Tourism. Ililipat ang tourism sa Cebu. Bakit kailangang gawin ito? Dahil nagbabayad si GMA sa utang sa pagkapanalo sa Iloilo at Cebu.
Tingnan ninyo, walang departamento na ililipat sa Mindanao. Bakit nga naman. Si FPJ ang nanalo na malaki sa Mindanao.
Magtipid daw. Gobyerno naman niya ang nagwawaldas.
Ngayon, malaking kurakutan naman ang nabulgar sa AFP. Panahon ba ni Erap nangyari iyan? Tapos si Erap ang sinisisi.
Laganap lalo ngayon ang droga. Wala namang may sentensyang bitay na nabitay nga. Takot si GMA sa Simbahan.
Ang leksyon sa lahat ng ito ay tibay ng paninindigan. Kung wala iyan sa isang Pangulong tulad ni GMA, wala tayong pupuntahan kung mas grabeng pagkabulok.
Wala kahit na katiting na problema ang nalulutas sa paninisi sa iba na wala namang kinalaman sa nangyayari ngayon.
Ano bang kasalanan ang nagawa natin at pinarurusahan tayo ng ganito? Magdasal tayong lahat