Monday, July 31, 2006

Another Twosome blames the opposition for Arroyo's illness

From the Tribune:

Aside from being “overworked” in solving the country’s problems, President Arroyo’s illness and sub-sequent hospitalization are now being blamed on the political opposition’s continued “attacks” on the Chief Executive.

Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in the House of Represen-tatives yesterday called on the opposition to desist from giving the President “headaches.”

House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapuddin and Bulacan Rep. Lorna Silverio, in a joint statement usually emanating from Malacanang, said it is now time for the people to appreciate the efforts being exerted by Mrs. Arroyo, who is “sacrificing her own health just to keep her vow of service while her foes continue to give her head-aches.”

Mrs. Arroyo was rushed to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City late Thursday afternoon after she was claime to have suffered chills and fever. It was the second time this year that the Chief Executive was hospitalized.

Salapuddin said in view of the illness that struck Mrs. Arroyo, “we urge an end to political intramurals which do not help at all the President and the nation.”

“We call on the opposition to be part of the solution rather than a major part of the country’s problems,” he added.

The congressmen said Mrs. Arroyo became ill as a result of carrying the heavy burden of leading 85 million Filipinos while a handful of opposition diehards try to drag the country down every step of the way.

Silverio pointed out the opposition should be fair and cooperate with Mrs. Arroyo since she is doing her best for the entire nation.

“We commiserate with the President for the unfair treatment by the opposition. With all the sacrifices she has done for the country, it’s only fitting that we support her efforts and programs,” she pointed out, adding “besides, the people are already getting sick and tired of the opposition’s partisan politicking, which is the single biggest thing holding the country back.”

These Arroyo apologists usually come in pairs. (scroll down)

ESPN's Chad Ford writes about conflict resolution in the Mideast

No joke. He wrote this article and runs an incredible program called "Playing for Peace" that has been recognized by everyone, from the Dalai Lama to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.

More from Henry Abbott:

The academic who wrote that? His name is Chad Ford, and as you may know, he is also known as ESPN's NBA draft guru. Ford gave up his full-time job at ESPN )he still works there some, however) a year ago to become an assistant professor of conflict resolution at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

(I'll be honest, when I first heard about that last summer, I thought jokingly to myself--an NBA reporter got the greatest prize in all of academia? A tenure track gig in Hawaii? Ford must have dug up some serious dirt on some very powerful NBA personality who pulled those strings. But it turns out Ford has always had these kinds of credentials. Ford has a juris doctorate from Georgetown University and a master's degree from George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.)

Ford wore three hats--ESPN reporter, academic, and ABC correspondent--on a recent trip to the Middle East to cover basketball's true believers: those who run an incredible program called Playing for Peace (PFP), which brings together children from both sides of the conflict to master the art of basketball while sharing uniforms with the kids they used to consider "the enemy." It's not all window dressing, either. PFP has been recognized by everyone from the Dalai Lama to George W. Bush. The board features R.C. Buford, Steve Kerr, Danny Ferry, and others. Arn Tellem is also involved.

UPDATE: In the Philippines, we have a more effective program called "Video Piracy for Peace". And i'm sure the Americans won't mind this as long as it keeps the peace in our country and gives employment opportunities to our Muslim brothers in quiapo and anywhere else in RP.

Merceditas Gutierrez a Big Joke

From the Malaya Editorial:

Malacañang and the US Embassy recently launched with much fanfare an anti-corruption program funded by a US grant of $25 million (P1.2 billion) and a local counterpart of P1 billion.

The program seeks to strengthen the investigative and prosecution capability of the Office of the Ombudsman and the anti-graft campaign of the bureaus of internal revenue and customs. The small fry, we suppose, should start running for cover; for the big fish, it’s business as usual.

Let’s leave aside the internal revenue bureau. There has been no big-time scandal in its backyard for sometime.

At the piers, it’s no secret who the smugglers are. The identity of their protector is no secret either. Throwing money into the anti-graft program of Customs will not curb smuggling while the Big Padrino continues to exert influence at the highest level of government.

The Office of the Ombudsman has become a joke after Merceditas Gutierrez, a classmate of Mike Arroyo, succeeded Simeon Marcelo. How many big-time corruption cases have been sleeping the sleep of the dead on the desk of Gutierrez?

There’s the case against former Justice Secretary Hernani Perez who allegedly received $10 million in payoff for awarding a sovereign guarantee to an Argentine company which rehabilitated the Kalayaan power plant in Laguna. The Swiss government has provided Manila information on funds that allegedly ended up in the bank accounts of Perez and his wife.

The case against Comelec officials over the election modernization scam was recently completed by Gutierrez’ office. The surprise was that the findings of investigators were overturned by Gutierrez, leaving only Resurreccion Borra among the commissioners to face the music.

On the fertilizer fund scam, the Ombudsman has yet to take action despite the mass of testimonial and documentary evidence transmitted by the Senate committee on agriculture and the Blue Ribbon. Perhaps the Ombudsman is on the verge of filing charges. Which raises the suspicion that the scam mastermind, former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc Joc" Bolante, was tipped off, the reason he is now seeking political asylum in the United States.

And speaking of the United States, why is it not leaning hard on Bolante to come clean on the fertilizer fund scam which involved portions of US aid?

The suspicion is that the US government is a party to Palace efforts to find a place for Bolante where he will be beyond the reach of Senate investigators by canceling his visa and arresting him in California for violation of immigration laws.

We are being treated to US-funded smoke and mirrors while the big fish are laughing all the way to the bank.

Related: The US is making a big mistake by propping up the Arroyo Regime.

UPDATE: More from the Tribune Editorial:

As for those Gloria allies who have been exposed as having committed crimes, and with the hard evidence to convict them, no agency — including the so-called constitutional offices such as the Ombudsman — moves against these allies.

Think fertilizer funds that have been plundered, with the money going to the various congressmen and local executives and with the big bulk going into the campaign coffers of Gloria for the 2004 polls.

Did the Ombudsman, on her own, move against Joc-Joc Bolante, especially as this fertilizer scam was already exposed years earlier by a journalist who was executed for being too nosy?

To this day, all the Ombudsman says is that the fertilizer fund scam is still being investigated and that the probe should not be rushed.

Merceditas Gutierrez isn’t rushing the other cases either, such as the case of extortion, money laundering and plunder in relation to former Justice chief Hernando “Nani” Perez even when she has hard evidence with her.

But when it comes to Gloria’s political foes, it is a different treatment altogether. All laws are broken to ensure that they would be arrested without warrant, detained and in some cases, charged even when there is no evidence to make the charges stick.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

These Hezbollah guys are media savvy talaga

Here's Anderson Cooper's expose on how Hezbollah is playin the Mainstream Media. And like Saddam, Hezbollah has their own media minders too.

Factchecking the Arroyo admin's response to the OFW Crisis in Lebanon

What the admin is saying just doesn't add up. What's going on here? May pera pa ba talaga tayo o wala? O baka naman may pera, pero naka-set aside sa mga ibang "prioridad" ni Arroyo (cough... CHA CHA... cough... 2007 Elections cough...)


From the Tribune Editorial:

Something is definitely wrong somewhere in Gloria's world.

In her State of the Nation Address (Sona), she stressed several times over, that she has the funds for the future massive infrastructure projects she laid out; funds for the war against terror; the war against corruption, and the war against the insurgents, among many other funds she claims to have.

Yet in the case of the overseas workers' funds, where her government should have, at the very least, some P8 billion that should be flowing, given the war conditions in Lebanon, where some 34,000 Filipino workers are stationed, all Gloria has eked out for evacuation purposes is P150 million.

And Gloria's people are stingy with that miniscule amount even at this time of evacuation.

Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Al Bichara has been complaining publicly that the embassy's funds are running out. He has asked for at least $1 million to keep things going.

For airing this complaint, Bichara has been berated heavily by Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs with even a DFA undersecretary saying that if Bichara were a soldier during a time of war, he would shoot him dead. That's the diplomacy they teach this undersecretary?

There was too that remark from the undersecretary that all Bichara spends on is food and bus transport from Lebanon to Damascus. Just how much does this undersecretary think feeding sardine-packed OFWs in that church costs, given the many days they have been staying there?

Rafael Seguis, a DFA official, was sent to Lebanon to check on the claim of Bichara, and said the ambassador had less than $100,000 total. So what's that amount when one is dealing with the problem of some 34,000 Filipinos? But why are they so measly with the funds, since the OWWA funds, precisely meant for such contingencies, amount to some P8 billion minimum?

They all denied that there is a lack of funds, yet it was clear, from the flight arrivals of Filipino workers from the war-torn country, that there are less and less workers being brought home by the Philippine government, with the latest batch numbering some 50 workers and in a commercial flight, which means that chartered flights have been dumped by the Arroyo government as a means to get more Pinoy workers home and fast.

Even more ridiculous was the claim of Budget Secretary Andaya that he wouldn't release any money to Bichara unless and until the ambassador liquidates that which he has been given. With the red tape in Gloria's government and considering that the times are extraordinary in Lebanon and the Filipino situation, the Budget secretary wants to wait for a liquidation report? Has Gloria even liquidated the cash advances her office got for her many jaunts abroad? Past Commission on Audit reports showed a huge amount that has been left unliquidated for these trips.

Chances are, those billions in OWWA funds no longer exist, with the funds diverted elsewhere — again.

It will be recalled that in 2004, during election campaign time, OWWA funds diverted and used for those PhilHealth cards were questioned by a group of migrant workers. There was enough evidence of the diversion and obviously used for Gloria's presidential election campaign.

Still, some of these funds must have had a replenishment if they had not been diverted again. And it certainly looks like the funds aren't there, since Malacañang has been quite stingy with the money that should be poured in for the contract workers stranded in Lebanon. But why isn't this being done? Aren't these workers considered by this government as the modern economic heroes, since they have been helping greatly in propping the economy through their billions in remittances?

So where's all the OWWA money, Arroyo admin?

UPDATE: Ambassador to Lebanon Bichara apologizes:

AMBASSADOR to Lebanon Al Francis Bichara has apologized to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo for telling media that the embassy in Beirut no longer has funds to pay for the expenses of overseas Filipinos wanting to be repatriated to Manila.

Bichara, in a letter to Romulo dated July 26, apologized for the "inconvenience or embarrassment" generated by comments he made during a TV interview.

He said he was made to believe by his staff that the initial funds of $50,000 for Oplan Sagip OFWs in Lebanon have been used up and the embassy is helpless until the amount is replenished.

"I was just trying to be candid and did not mean that the Philippine government had no money for the evacuation. Moreover, my staff also made me believe that the Embassy’s working funds could not be utilized for other purposes such as evacuation," he said.

is it possible that he and his staff got it all wrong about the funds? or is this another "apology" in the same mold as the one former Educations secretary Fe Hidalgo made after initially telling the truth re the lack of classrooms?

UPDATE: Senator Arroyo said there's no OWWA funds in lebanon, gives lie to gov't claims

SEN. Joker Arroyo yesterday said no funds reached the Philippine embassy in Lebanon despite statements from government officials.

He said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration released a token $20,000 to its own OWWA office in Lebanon but not directly to the Philippine embassy, which is the lead agency in the evacuation efforts.

Arroyo, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said he talked with Al Francis Bichara, ambassador to Lebanon, twice over the weekend and he was told that no OWWA funds have been released to the embassy. Arroyo and Bichara are both from the Bicol region.

Bichara last week got flak for saying lack of funds are hampering operations for the OFWs. The statement caught the ire of officials of OWWA and even the Department of Foreign Affairs who were involved in the evacuation efforts.

Bichara, in a letter dated July 26, apologized to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, saying he was made to believe by his staff that the initial funds of $50,000 for Oplan Sagip OFWs in Lebanon had been used up and the embassy in Lebanon could no longer make disbursements until the amount is replenished.

But Arroyo said he has in his possession documents that would show that the Philippine embassy in Lebanon has not received a single centavo from OWWA as of July 27.

OWWA has a P7.5 billion fund coming from fees charged OFWs.

Arroyo said Bichara’s office is spending its own budget to process the evacuation papers and provide care to the distressed OFWs caught in the conflict in Lebanon.

From Lito banayo:

The continuing conflict in Lebanon spawned by the Israelis and the Hezbollah once again brings the nation focused on the sad plight of the so-called "bagong bayani" who are in reality modern-day slaves.

Watching on television how our refugees are cramped in a church with hardly any space to stretch tired and tensed limbs, sleeping on concrete floors and parking spaces even, while waiting for few and far between buses to bring them to Syria and thence to flight back home is enough to spoil your dinner. Your heart cries out to them as they relate tales of horror and woe – of being locked up in their employers’ apartments in shell-shocked Beirut, or being refused payment of slave wages and thus come home empty-handed, escaping from war and into a bleak and blank future.

And then you hear functionaries of Doña Gloria rant against each other because people blame them, and rightly so, for the inadequacy of their response to a disaster in the making in war-torn Lebanon. Thus far, it seems that only God and Fr. Agustin Advincula, bless him, are on the side of the overseas workers trapped in a nightmare their own government seems unable to mitigate with dispatch. Only God knows what would happen if, God forbid, Fr. Advincula’s Shrine of the Miraculous Medal should get hit by a stray missile, or a bus carrying our refugees is blasted by a bomb sent to whom it may concern.. And you get enraged, not because you expect this government to be efficient at anything, but because these modern-day slaves actually paid in advance, insurance money out of their future blood, sweat and tears, to precisely finance their prompt and proper repatriation in case the unexpected happen.

Each and every overseas contract worker pays the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration the equivalent of 25 US dollars each time they leave the country for work abroad. The OWWA was established to provide for their welfare. Welfare, in case OWWA or Doña Gloria, her Conejos and her absent Bert Romulo do not quite understand its meaning, includes taking care of their safety and security in the event anything untoward happens to them while they are out of the country. In fact every citizen of the Republic should be the responsibility of their country. That is why we have embassies and consulates paid out of taxpayer money. Their duty is to care for every Filipino within their areas of jurisdiction, and not just minister to the whims and caprices of visiting firemen such as members of Congress or the Cabinet when these denizens loiter around the world.

In the case of the overseas workers, precisely because they have had governments that prioritize corruption over the common weal, they have had to fork over 25 dollars or 1,300 pesos each, to this creature of law called OWWA. This creature has collected tens of billions of pesos over the years. Its current administrator tells us that this OWWA fund stood at P8.1 billion as of December 2004. That, despite the half a billion that Doña Gloria caused to be transferred, for what legal or moral justification you still have to search and wonder about, to the Philhealth of Paquing Duque who reminded Malacañang in an urgent memorandum prior to the 2004 elections, that he precisely needed the monetary infusion as elections were fast approaching. Nothing has happened about that anomaly, except–one, the OWWA fund was depleted accordingly; two, Congress investigated and then whimpered; and three, Paquing Duque was rewarded with the health portfolio right after the Doña’s "victory". Duque, while not a member of The Gentleman’s League at Discovery Suites and elsewhere, is clearly a certified and certifiable member of the Doña’s Legion, along with his kabaleyan, Lambino and Esperon, Bengzon and Querol.

These terror-struck "bayani" who work as domestics for the Lebanese get 150 dollars per month, lower than the peso equivalent of the current minimum wage, except that they know they can get neither minimum wages nor jobs in the home country. And so they leave kith and kin, after pawning meager possessions, just to afford these immediate and extended families survival in the benighted country.

Now we see the spectacle of our ambassador and the undersecretaries of Bert Romulo raging their own war over money. Money that the "bagong alipin" paid for in advance. While the alipin stew in 40-degree heat inside a church fully converted into a sanctuary, and bake in the parking lot beside it, hospitality given free by kindly servants of God.


MORE ON Arroyo's SONA from the Tribune:

The dream targets of Gloria, or the 20 or so infrastructure projects she boasted to be up by the time she steps down in 2010, are unraveling to be just that — dreams that apparently would be hard to realize given the state of finances under her term and given the normal time to put up these projects, assuming the funds are really there.

The targets are as unattainable as the pledge to balance the budget in 2008.

The State of the Nation Address (Sona) claimed this grandiose infrastructure projects are estimated to cost not less than P250 billion — unrealistic in itself, as figures — which, in three years means that Gloria would need to raise at least P80 billion in additional funds, including those from private infusions supposedly through the build-operate-transfer scheme, starting this year.

The three-year pump priming drive would thus be starting on the wrong foot this year, with the Arroyo administration living on a borrowed budget from last year.

While she asks for another P40 billion in the form of a supplemental budget, even this cannot be supplied by Congress constitutionally, since the 2006 budget bill has not been enacted into law. As the constitutionalists point out, since this is not law, this cannot be supplemented. But trust Congress to violate the Constitution and get away with it.

But considering that about P200 billion would have to be raised by the government for the Gloria vision, the rest from supposed private participation, something from P60 billion to P70 billion will have to be allocated from the budget in the final years of Gloria.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. claims that P10 billion would be alloted from the budget initially for the Gloria infrastructure binge. Pray tell where this would come from?

Read the whole thing.

More from Randy David on Arroyo's SONA.

So bakit hindi pa nabebenta ang gov't sequestered stations IBC 13 at RPN 9?

Nagyabang yung Arroyo acolyte na si Fel Marangay ng MST (Jan. 16, 2006):

Despite the fact that RPN-9 and IBC-13 television networks have good potentials in the media business if they get a capital infusion and if managed professionally, little progress was made in privatizing them, prompting the skeptics and opposition politicians to suspect that their sale was being deliberately withheld to enable the incumbent administration (from President Corazon Aquino to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) to use them for propaganda purposes, especially during election campaign. This suspicion was reenforced when Mrs. Arroyo ranted that she was being unfairly treated by the "hostile" and "one-sided" media, blaming them for her plummeting ratings in the popularity charts.

However, the Arroyo administration deplores the "misimpression" that it is footdragging on the disposition of the two sequestered TV networks. In fact, the Palace says that broadcast executive Cerge Remonde was named secretary of government mass media last year precisely to speed up their privatization. If the government has selfish motives for holding on to sequestered media establishments, the Palace asserts that it would have blocked the return of the Journal Group of Publications, including the profitable People's Journal tabloid, to its rightful owner, the Philippine Journalists Inc. even before the 2004 elections.

Excuse me, Mr. Marangay, but the return of the Journal Group of Publications was only done after the 2004 elections-- nung hindi na kailangan ng Arroyo administration ang media resources ng Journal empire and it's tabloids dahil akala nila tapos na ang legitimacy problems ni Arroyo.

Yan ang akala nila.

And you're right Fel na they would have sold RPN 9 and IBC 13 too, but that was before sumabog ang Gloriagate scandal. RPN and IBC 13 were supposed to be sold between March to May of 2006, but now these gov't sequestered TV stations are once again valuable assets to the Arroyo admin and it's Congressional allies at hindi muna nila ito ibebente. Kasi kailangan nila ang dalawang tv stations na ito to spout off their gov't propaganda against the Anti-Arroyo opposition and to help Arroyo's allies get free airtime and political ads during the runup to the 2007 elections.

So don't expect these IBC and RPN to be sold off until the administration feels that the crisis is over... meaning from now till the 2007 midterm elections hindi nila ibebenta yung mga tv stations na yan. And you can take that to the bank.

MORE: Palusot pa itong colleague ni Marangay na si Emil Jurado (june 27, 2006):

THE privatization council of the Department of Finance has found it very difficult to privatize the government-sequestered television networks RPN-9 (Radio Philippine Network) and IBC-13 (Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp.)

First, RPN-9’s roster of employees is overstated with over 700 workers. ABS-CBN, the giant television network, has only over 350 employees. Second, RPN-9 has the most active union in the industry, one that was able to wangle government benefits, perks and a collective bargaining agreement that no government corporation has ever given to any union. And third, which I believe is the biggest stumbling block to privatization, is that it has a big number of minority stockholders who are against privatization.

I recall that when I was still with KBS (Kanlaon Broadcasting System), all officers and employees of the KBS-managed corporations under the late Roberto Benedicto issued shares of stocks charged against their pay, which are worth nothing now in the market. These included BBC-4, which went back to ABS-CBN after 1986, GTV-4, the government network, RPN-9, and IBC-13.

As for IBC-13, which together with RPN-9 has been consistently hemorrhaging by the millions of pesos, it also has minority stockholders who are claiming their shares. No wonder, all those interested in buying out RPN-9 and IBC-13 have backed out. They are buying into nothing except franchises to operate radio and television nationwide. That’s all RPN-9 and IBC-13 is worth.


Like i said, i don't expect these valuable media assets to be sold anytime soon dahil kailangan pa ito ni Arroyo.

"We should have taken Uganda."

Nakakalungkot naman basahin ito. I read this from Ann althouse's blog post entitled: "Will Israel Live to 100?"

That's the title of an article, by Benjamin Schwarz, published in The Atlantic in May 2005. It's currently #1 on the "Top fifteen most-read articles online this week," according to email I just received from the magazine. Conclusion:

[I]n conversations with Israelis on the left and the (moderate) right in academe, the military, the government, and the security services, I've been struck by their grim declarations that they as a people aren't going anywhere, but also by their foreboding about the country their children will live in. Most of all, though, I've been struck by the frequency with which these men and women—patriots all—have wistfully said, "We should have taken Uganda" (which Britain offered to the Zionist leadership in 1903). History shows that many problems have no solution—a fact all but unfathomable to Americans. Nevertheless, the century-long Palestinian-Zionist conflict is a story of two peoples, each with reasonable claims to the same piece of earth; and nearly every aspect of that story suggests that in the end—and to the detriment of those peoples, their region, and perhaps the entire world—their aspirations are not amenable to compromise.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Go Read Michael Totten

He's one of my favorite bloggers pagdating sa Middle East, lalo na sa issue ng Lebanon at Israel. Kaka balik lang niya sa US from Lebanon, where he's been staying for 7 months, and he's got lots to say about what is happening right now in Lebanon.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rina Jimenez David reacts

I wrote a post entitled "Wrong Analogy, Rina" re lebanon. I don't know kung nabasa niya yung post ko na yun, pero parang nag-rereact siya sa mga issues na ini-raise ko.

Here's her article. I link, you decide.

Garci for Congressman?

  • There's a report that Virgilio Garcillano will challenge Rep. Neric Acosta's House seat in the next election. I hope this is just a joke.

  • Malaya Editorial: Bolante says he's victim of persecution, seeks asylum

    What a laugh, Joc Joc Bolante seeking asylum in the United States because of purported threats to his life from the New People’s Army. If being targeted by the NPA is now sufficient ground for securing political asylum, the United States should be prepared to welcome a daily stream of B747s packed to the overhead bins with people fleeing the wrath of communist rebels.

    As we understand it, political persecution can only come from the hands of the government in power, not from a shadow government, however extensive the latter’s reach may be. Joc Joc certainly has nothing to fear from this government.

    Jok Time.

  • Ricky Carandang says Joelle pelaez's accusations of Money Laundering against Erap is bogus. He also said na magwawala si Chavit kung i-acquit ni Arroyo si Erap. Marami raw alam na "secrets" si Chavit laban kay Arroyo.

  • Human Rights commission warns that the Philippines may be blacklisted by the UN.

  • De Quiros on Arroyo's SONA:

    My first impression was hearing all over again the "Hello, Garci" tape. That was so not just because it was the same unique DNA-imprinted voice being conscripted for pretty much the same reason, which was to put the wool over the public's eyes. It was also because the speaker showed the same passion for micro-management. It answers the question of why she personally called up then-election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano with a persistence that tried the patience of Garci himself, rather than had a minion do it for her, thus giving her space for deniability. She just had to sink to that level.

    More reaction from Neal Cruz, MLQ3, and the PDI editorial.

    As for me naman, I was hoping for a SONA that is more reality-based.

    Lito Banayo says that it was not a SONA but a SANA.

  • Bishop Tobias is the man!

  • A "Hello Garci" video. And a "V for Vendetta" spoof video starring GMA and Raul Gonzalez.

  • Election officials jailed -- in Thailand. MLQ3 has a good roundup.

  • Kawawa naman si "Nicole" at ang pamilya niya. Nauubos na ang pera nila dahil sa trial na ito.

    TOWNS said that although the family is not indigent, the cost of litigation is draining the family's finances. Family members have to travel from the southern city of Zamboanga to Manila to give her support. One brother has even stopped schooling.

    "Just the daily transcript costs P2,000, or P8,000 a week. In the last hearing, they could not get the transcript anymore because they owed the clerk P12,000 already, hence, TOWNS is raising a 'Justice for Nicole' fund," the group said in a press release.

  • May dayaan sa nursing board licensure examination.

    THE BOARD exam leakage is but the latest scandal to erupt around nursing licensing and education. Some months ago, senior officials of the Commission on Higher Education resigned their posts in protest of alleged interference in their work. There had been reports that "influential" owners of nursing schools, which have mushroomed around the country, were using their political muscle to get the CHED to back off from enforcing the appropriate standards and qualifications.

    Deteriorating standards of nursing education has been noted even as foreign demand for Filipino nurses began rising. A study on the "brain drain" of Filipino health personnel noted that even as enrollment in nursing schools has risen tremendously, the number of their graduates able to pass the nursing boards has been steadily falling.

    If we continue to send unqualified and unskilled nurses abroad, demand for Filipino nurses in these countries could very well dry up.

    Comment ni Ellen Tordesillas:

    Bakit ba kailangan mandaya ang isang kukuha ng board exam? Siyempre, malaki ang posibilidad na hindi siya makapasa. Bakit siya hindi makapasa? Dahil hindi niya alam sagutin ang mga tanong sa exam.

    Kung hindi niya alam sagutin ang mga tanong sa exam, paano ngayon ang gagawin niya sa pasyente. Paano ngayon yan kung sa loob siya ng operating room at hindi niya alam ang gagawin?

    Malaking negosyo ang nursing education ngayon dahilan sa malaking demand sa ibang bansa. Mayroon mga 470 na nursing schools sa buong bansa at marami pa ang nagsusulputan na parang kabute.

    Sa maraming bansa, ang nursing na kurso ay hindi popular. Mahirap naman talaga ang trabaho ng nurse. Marami ngayon sa mga nag-aaral ng nursing dito sa atin ay wala naman talagang hilig mag-nurse. Gusto lang mag-abroad dahil nga walang makuhang trabaho dito sa Pilipinas.

    Sa pagdami ng mga nursing schools, mabilis rin bumaba and kalidad ng nursing education. Marami ang hindi nakakapasa sa board exam. Kaya mandadaya na lang. Kamakailan lang, sinabi na ng United Kingdom na hindi na sila kukuha ng nurses sa Pilipinas.

    Ngayon, paano parusahan ang nandaya? Paano yun kung sasabihin ng nandaya na, bakit si Gloria Arroyo nandaya noong eleksyon, hindi naman naparusahan? Nakaupo pa sa Malacañang.

  • Paano naubos ang millions na OWWA funds kaya walang pera para sa Lebanon evacuation?

    Conrad de Quiros has an idea:

    Which brings us back to Father Advincula's plaintive and thundering question: Where have all the OFW millions gone? Advincula wasn't being accusatory when he asked that, as the reports clarified, but his question itself remains a finger pointing at the crooks in furious indictment.

    There are many answers to that question, but one of them is the transfer of funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) to the government's PhilHealth Insurance Corp. some years ago. The mandate of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, as its name suggests, is to give welfare assistance to OFWs and their families. But on Nov. 24, 2002, PhilHealth president Francisco Duque proposed another use for its funds. He wrote a memo to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo saying that the diversion of Owwa Medicare funds to PhilHealth would bear significantly on the 2004 elections. Arroyo believed him and issued Executive Order 182, transferring the Medicare Funds of the Medical Functions of Owwa amounting to P530,382,446 to PhilHealth.

    The transfer was approved by the labor department, with the exception of Corazon P. Carsola, whom the OFWs may truly thank even if she fought for a lost cause. She refused to sign, objecting to the use of medical funds badly needed by the OFWs for patent electoral purposes. The very design of the new PhilHealth card proclaimed it to be so: It metamorphosed from a simple one bearing the picture of the beneficiary to one showing Arroyo cradling an infant. The infant was not its beneficiary.

    Subsequently, Labor Secretary Patricia Santo Tomas declared that OFWs who had incurred medical expenses would no longer be reimbursed by Owwa.

    The ironic note here is that Arroyo did not win even with that ploy. She still needed to call up Garci no less than 15 times to do so -- if one may call the result winning.

    Where did the OFW millions go? That was one of its destinations. The others, well, as Franklin Drilon, a former labor secretary, points out, the Owwa has cash reserves amounting to a mind-boggling P7.6 billion. Why Arroyo should choose to allocate only P150 million to rescue the Filipinos in Lebanon from dire straits, only she can say. It is so much less than the amount she took from the Owwa, funds meant to keep OFWs alive and healthy, just so she could remain politically alive, never mind healthy, or indeed just so she could rescue herself from her desperate plight. Which didn't work anyway; she still needed the sea-unworthy vessel MV Garci to get her out of her Hezbollah.

  • Filipino students hurt by overcrowded classrooms, underfunding

  • Eight impeachment bid filed by the Black and White movement

  • Lusot si Dennis Roldan sa kidnapping charges, and Teresita Ang See is angry (rightly so).

  • Na-ospital na naman si Arroyo because of the FLU. gosh. i hope it’s nothing serious. i want her to resign not because she’s sick, but because the presidency doesn’t belong to her and she is morally unfit to govern this country. The first time she was rushed to St. Luke was for diarrhea.

  • from Michael Totten, an American who spent seven months in Lebanon before the war started. He said a second war -- a civil war -- in Lebanon might erupt once the war with Israel is over. from Ashraf Ismail, Why Israel Can't Win the War. Worth Reading. Wretchard speculates on what the Israelis are trying to do.

  • peking duck: does the dalai lama work for the CIA?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Why Arroyo didn't focus on her "achievements" during the SONA

Supporters, Critics ask: What is the State of the Nation?

FORMER President Fidel Ramos and opposition congressmen yesterday said President Arroyo missed the point because her sixth State-of-the-Nation address focused on new ambitious plans instead of on her achievements.

Ramos could not hide his disappointment over the President’s one-hour speech, saying Arroyo was supposed to talk about what her administration has so far achieved and not her future plans.

"This is a state of the nation address. Iba yung performance, iba naman yun mga results. Yun ang inaabangan natin, yun ang mas mahalaga di ba?" he said.

"Ganito yan. ‘Yung SONA chapter lamang yan ng inaugural address, hindi ho ba? At yung SONA nung isang taon, ang dapat tutukan natin at tingnan ang resulta ngayon. Ano ba yung performance talaga?" he said.

Asked if he believes that Arroyo’s new plans could be realized in the next few years, Ramos smiled and said, "Eh, natapos na ’yung five years, eh."

I think I know why she didn't focus on her "achievements" sa SONA niya this year. Because many of the so-called achievements her apologists and media spokesperson were talking about just a few days before her SONA address were BS, at ayaw niyang "ma-fisk" siya sa SONA speech niya because some people are prepared to point out the inaccuracies and misleading government statements and statistics (fisk means "fact-check", btw)

It's one thing for Bunye and Defensor to make fools of themselves with their spins and lies, but it's another matter if Arroyo did the same thing during her SONA speech.

Here's Neal Cruz, for example, getting ready to fisk arroyo:

There will be thunder and lightning as the heavens protest the lies that will be uttered today; but they will be concentrated around the Batasan where GMA will deliver her Sona, which will be enriched with statistics. After all, as somebody said, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. Our President use all three, but there will be more of the third today.

Government statistics are supposed to be credible. When the government says something, it is supposed to be the truth. Not anymore. Government statistics have been corrupted and fudged under the Arroyo administration. When the government says, for example, that there are enough classrooms, that means packing 100 students into each classroom. Before, when you have no job, you are jobless, period. Now, if you happen to land a part-time job once during the year, you are listed as “employed.” Also now, the government has reduced the number of poverty-stricken families by simply lowering the poverty level.

Don't forget their bullshit numbers/stats na bumaba raw ang population rate natin.

This article naman came out on sunday, where the opposition was prepared to fact check Arroyo if she uses her misleading statistics and lies again:

Think tank eyed to belie GMA Sona claims

By Gerry Baldo


Members of the political opposition are planning to create what they dubbed a “shadow government” — an independent think tank that would produce data and other statistics that would be poised to refute the claims and the figures to be dished out by President Arroyo in her annual State of the Nation Address (Sona) tomorrow.

No full house can be expected by the Chief Executive as members of the opposition blocs in the House of Representatives and the Senate yesterday vowed to boycott the Sona tomorrow since they said it would entail nothing but “more lies” from Mrs. Arroyo.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and members of the so-called “Batasan 5” — the five party-list congressmen who had holed up in the Congress compound in Quezon City for more than four months in February to avoid arrest by the police over charges of rebellion slapped against them by the administration — said it would merely be a waste of time to attend Mrs. Arroyo’s Sona since they “expect more insidious lies from her and her speech writers, who specialize in double-talk and deception.”

“(It will entail nothing but the) same old lies...When you have a fake President, you expect fake statements,” Pimentel said at a weekly media forum in Quezon City.

“Listening to the Sona is a waste of time simply because the figures and statements are not really true,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño, one of the Batasan five, said.

According to them, they are eying to create a think tank aimed at making the public aware which of Mrs. Arroyo’s claims were merely conjured up as she has done so in her past Sonas.

According to former Sen. Francisco Tatad, big media entities could help out along this line by putting out their own figures and statistics for the people to see for themselves whether Mrs. Arroyo was totally telling the truth in her Sona or if she was stating lies and rattling off false statistics just as she did in the previous Sonas.

Casiño said the Arroyo administration has been showing an apparent penchant for “faking things” and taking matters out of context to turn them into something favorable.

He cited as an example Malacañang’s putting on a “spin” on the matter of the employment and poverty statuses of the country which the Palace manipulated to appear positive by changing the definition of terms pertaining to Filipinos who should fall under the category of being “employed.”

In doing so the administration made the figure under the bracket much bigger than it really is.

Neal Cruz and members of the anti-GMA opposition were prepared to fact check arroyo if she used the same talking points Mike Defensor used, but Arroyo instead talked about future promises, na mas mahirap ma fact-check, dahil 5-10 years pa bago mo malalaman kung totoo o matutupad ni Arroyo ang pangako niya. I guess the admin anticipated the fisking kaya iniba nila ang focus ng SONA ni Arroyo.

And to make matters worse, Arroyo offered little details or an estimate on how much her projects would costs and how the government is gonna pay for it? With more taxes? Let's hope not. But I really don't know much because napaka-vague ni Arroyo tungkol dito.

Miriam defensor Santiago comments on the speech:

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, an Arroyo ally, called it a "first time SONA instead of mid-term SONA.

"As a lawyer and political scientist, I respectfully submit that the speech is lopsided. First of all, it is all economy and virtually no governance. Second, its focus is on urban and hardly on rural areas," she said.

She said the SONA "is a list of promises on large-scale infrastructure projects but it does not quantify the cost of all these projects."

In her SONA speech, Arroyo outlined programs for her planned creation of "super regions" as she called for the return of power to provinces.

Santiago said she expected the SONA to dwell on "voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption."

"To concentrate on the economy without mentioning governance is a skewed order of priorities," she said.

Look, focusing on the economy is nice (and who among the admin and opposition isn't for improving the economy, anyway?), but our economy won't take off if most of our gov't resources and money are being used to buy political support and used for Arroyo's own political survival. In short Corruption, Lack of Accountability, A Cover-up Mentality... This illegitimate admin and it's defenders has an us-vs-the-world, fuck-the-majority mentality that is not good for our country.

Monday Roundup:
  • GMA plays up to House, LGUs, offers poll campaign roadmap

    President Arroyo yesterday continued with her courtship of administration congressmen and local government officials, this time offering them a roadmap to follow for their campaign promises to the people come elections 2007, as detailed in her sixth State of the Nation Address (Sona).

    In her speech, she thanked congressmen and local executives, as well as military officials, putting on the spotlight Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan for his success in ridding the country of insurgents. Palparan, however, has been pointed to by militants and human rights groups for the many summary executions of activists in the country.

    But ensuring that her allies in Congress and the local executives would continue supporting her, Mrs. Arroyo outlined a massive spending program in areas where her key allies are represented, claiming these projects are to kickstart the economy. She urged opponents demanding her ouster to give up what she described as a lost cause.

    There was no stress on education, employment, peace and order and other problems that bedevil the nation. It was also noted that her Sona message was directed to her audience in Congress, not to the Filipino people.

  • PCIJ: SONA heralds "news face of patronage."

    Even Sergio Ortiz-Luis, chair emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, got the same sense upon listening to Arroyo’s SONA. Remarking that Arroyo is “either a master politician or a good economist,” the businessman said her project-laden speech has won her the solid support not only of the heads of local government units but of voters at the local level less than a year before the mid-term elections.

    “How can her candidate lose at the local level, especially if these projects come through? These will mean jobs for everyone there,” said Ortiz-Luis in a recent Inquirer interview.

    Or if not the 2007 elections, then the more immediate matter now in the hands of congressmen — the impeachment complaints against Arroyo.

    For this reason, the impeachment case is practically doomed, says Casiple. Because who else outside of the minority bloc will endorse the complaint and risk losing Malacañang’s patronage? At the same time, there is an open invitation — spelled out in “why pick up old fights when we can join hands instead?” — being extended to the political opposition to join her bandwagon so it can share in the spoils.

  • MLQ3's reaction to the SONA:

    1. Two campaigns have begun. The first, for amendments to be approved in a referendum (immediately after the speech, the drum-beating began); the second, the 2007 elections (Neil Cruz on Viewpoint surprised me when he asserted it’s likely that more than 79 opposition members of the House will be elected).
    2. It was a division of the spoils.
    3. It was the Mother of All Pork Barrel Speeches.
    4. It is, however, proof of something we don’t pause often enough to recognize. Regardless f what the President does, or doesn’t do, things move on their own. Many of the plans and projects announced aren’t the fruits of the President’s hard work, or leadership, it’s the result of continuous meetings between national and local officials, elected representatives and members of the bureaucracy. Some of these projects began when the administration was new; others date back to previous administrations; some were identified and mapped out long ago, but it is only now that they have been given the green light.
    5. Therefore, much of what was announced would have happened, regardless of who is President; but there are definitely many officials happy that they have been given a curtain call, and that regardless of her motives, the importance of those plans has been recognized.
    6. We should rename the Batasan Pambansa the Kroll Opera House. Not even Ferdinand Marcos indulged in such public displays of legislative sycophancy. Or double-speak.

    Quezon also blogged the event.

  • Senator Magsaysay slams gov't coverups on Joc Joc's case

  • Edcel Lagman believes all the impeachment complaints filed between June 25 to July 24 are "prohibited complaints" because these were all filed before the one-year bar rule has expired and should be dismissed.

  • Palace to Opposition: Focus on 2007 elections instead of impeaching arroyo. Focus on elections? hindi ba yan rin ang sinabi ng adminstration sa opposition dati after edsa tres, focus on the 2004 presidential elections instead of trying to remove ARroyo? Look how well the elections turned out.

  • MLQ3: Roll out the Barrel

  • Heh.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The 2001 Edsa Dos set the precedent

More coup talk from the PDI Editorial, reminding us na even before Arroyo had her GLORIAGATE scandal, there was already a coup attempt against the administration.

Not least, we also realize, or are forcefully reminded of, an important fact lost in the turbulent wake of the Garci scandal and President Macapagal-Arroyo’s resulting crisis of legitimacy. The first attempt to launch a military takeover and replace the unpopular, controversial Arroyo administration took place even before the May 2004 elections. Those who speak of alleged election fraud as though it were the administration’s original sin play into the hands of those who wish to justify military intervention—regardless of the justification.

Two and a half years after the Magdalo mutiny, a group of Marines, Scout Rangers, and police officers from the Special Action Force launched another attempt to intervene in the country’s politics.

Napaka short naman ng memory nyo. Arroyo's #1 problem was always her legitimacy. She never had it in 2004, and she never got it in 2001 either, after leading a civilian-military coup ("Edsa Dos") to oust a legit president. I don't recall na may dictatorship (o walang demokrasya) sa panahon ni Erap to justify people power.

And her illegitimacy problem is the biggest reason why there are good (and bad) people trying to challenge her illegitimate authority and remove her from power. We saw that first in 2003, and I'm sure we will see more of it while the fake president is still in power. We already saw Danilo Lim try to "do an Angelo Reyes", hindi ba, at mas legit ang dahilan ni Lim kaysa kay Reyes since ninakaw ni Arroyo ang presidency.

Katulad ng sinabi ni Susan Roces, GMA not only stole the presidency once, but twice.

The Lopez report, which investigated the series of events last February, provides a candid and revealing look at the planned “withdrawal of support,” and the role played by former coup plotters like Scout Ranger Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Marine Col. Ariel Querubin.

In the sometimes stilted language common to military documents, the report concludes that the “congruence of the event among the Philippine Marines and the Philippine Army Rangers reveals that it was not borne [sic] out of spontaneity but a deliberate and planned action.” It also names Lim and Querubin as “the principal perpetrators of the foiled destabilization action.” Not least, it picks up the theme first sounded by the Magdalo mutineers in 2003, and repeated in San Juan’s affidavit last week: that the plotters were driven by legitimate grievances to try and “eventually install a new administration.”

But those grievances (now of a higher magnitude, because of the allegations of election fraud) were mere rationalizations for officers who were already disposed to intervene. In the report’s own words: “The grievances raised were merely utilized as a vehicle to conceal the real intent if not to arouse passion and fuel the emotions in adopting insubordinate, seditious and disloyal attitude.”

Lahat naman may "legitimate grievances" eh. Pati yung "withdrawal of support" ni Angelo Reyes, General Espinosa, Victor Corpus, Reynaldo Berroyo, Wycoco and company kay Erap nung Edsa Dos ganyan rin.

And look at the result of Edsa Dos: The corrupt Gloria Macapagal and Jose Pidal.

(At least there are many people who supported Edsa Dos that are trying to correct the mistake that is Arroyo.)

See, that's what happens when you install a president via a coup, instead of letting the people decide who should lead them thru the election process.

We've worked hard to recover from the coup years of the late eighties. Depoliticized na ang military nung panahon ni ramos at erap. Pero nahatak muli sa pulitika ang militar noong 2001. Sad.

The 2001 Edsa Dos leftist-rightist coup has set the precedent for overthrowing legitimately elected governments via unconstitutional means, for better or for worse. The genie is out of the bottle.

Wrong Analogy, Rina

Sabi ni Rina Jimenez David:

IMAGINE if, after the Abu Sayyaf invaded a diving resort in Malaysia and kidnapped a number of tourists and Malaysian resort employees, the Malaysian government decided to retaliate by bombing Metro Manila and killing hundreds of civilians.

This, in essence, is what the Israeli government has done in the wake of the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers at the Israel-Lebanon border.

Wrong analogy. Unlike the Abu Sayyaf which is a terrorist group being hunted down by our own government, there are no such actions being taken by the Lebanese gov't against Hezbollah.

In fact, Hezbollah is part of the the gov't with elected representatives and two of it's members being cabinet members (Minister of Water and Minister of Electricity).

Hezbollah has what amounts to "a terrorist state within a state" inside Lebanon. Hezbollah is the only group in lebanon that won't disarm (unlike druze, christians, sunni muslim groups), at walang laban ang Lebanese army sa kanilang firepower.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Discovery Suites na naman?

Sunday Quickies:
  • 2 Marine officers resign over Esperon appointment

  • Sigaw, Son of Satan? Is that you Damien?

  • Randy David: The legitimacy crisis and its effects

    I've always said na as long as we have a corrupt and illegitimate president in power, walang katapusan ang political turmoil sa ating bansa.

  • Doesn't this sound familiar?

    In a previous column, I likened the "envelopmental ecclesiaticism" of Malacañang to "envelopmental journalism" but then I recalled how Michaelangelo Zuce, who used to work in Malacañang as a "political operator" in the employ of its presidential adviser on political affairs, described an encounter with the Doña in her La Vista residence at the height of the 2004 campaign. Zuce and the assistants of his "uncle" Gil (Garcillano) had herded election supervisors to the Arroyo manse atop the hill which overlooked the Marikina Valley which used to be owned by the forebears of the Doña’s maternal in-laws. After dinner and short remarks from the Doña, along with the obligatory picture-taking, assistants of Bong and Lilia Pineda, kumpadre and kumadre of the President who are better known as the king and queen of jueteng, started distributing white envelopes to the election officials.

    Hindi ba may nangyari na ganito rin just recently lang? Read the whole thing. Read the part about another group of Bishops being wined and dined by Gloria at the infamous Discovery Suites. The "spice boys" makes a cameo appearance in the article.

    Here's background info on the Discovery Suites.

Teresita Ang See deplores RP mendicancy in Subic rape trial

From the Tribune:

Even during the trial of the controversial Subic rape case, the Philippines’ despicable, if not abominable, mendicant policy toward the United States (US) reared its ugly head, a Filipino-Chinese civic leader said over the weekend.

Teresita Ang-See, founding president of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, yesterday said she saw this for herself when she attended some of the hearings at the Makati City Regional Trial Court last week.

“The accused are trained Marines who employed brute force and dared abused Filipinos because they know that with the country’s mendicant foreign policy, the crime may draw a political rather than a judicial decision. Even Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez already showed bias in favor of the Marines early on in the case,” Ang-See said in her column in the Chinese- Filipino digest Tulay.

She cited the case of a female government lawyer assigned to the four accused whom she saw laughing with them, especially during that part of the trial when the complainant was sobbing while testifying.

In contrast, Ang-See said top US officials apologized for the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the killing of her family.

The officials who offered the apology at the time acknowledged that what the four US soldiers in Iraq had done to the Iraqi woman “injured the Iraqi people as a whole.”

“Are we Filipinos such wimps? I hope not!” she said.

Ang-See drew attention during that particular trial last week when she stood up and lectured the accused on proper conduct in court.

“It is the height of insensitivity and callousness to make Nicole’s pain a laughing matter. That was why I couldn’t stop reacting after I saw Smith and Duplantis laughing with their Filipina assistant private counsel,” she said.

She recalled that when she stood up after Judge Benjamin Pozon left the court, she saw Daniel Smith and Dominic Duplantis discussing something with their Filipina assistant private counsel and laughing.

Ang-See, within hearing of the accused’s Filipino security detail, said “Aba, may gana pang magtawa ang mga gago (So these jerks have the nerve to laugh)!”

She added she was even more dismayed when the security personnel stood up and instead of admonishing the two accused ignored Ang-See’s comments.

This prompted the two suspects to continue their “joyful conversation” amid of the complainant’s painful sobbing.

“I couldn’t stand it and told the US Embassy personnel, ‘Can you tell those two guys to stop laughing?’ I got even more shocked when the two just smirked at me while the embassy personnel asked, ‘Why, who are they laughing at?’ Actually, at that point, I didn’t know what was more shocking, seeing the accused laughing or seeing the Filipina assistant private counsel laugh with them,” she said.

I've always said na the US servicemen will be acquitted in the rape case, whether they're innocent or not.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

No time to dick around

From the Tribune: ‘Inadequate’ gov’t response to help OFWs in Lebanon hit
Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday deplored that the P150-million fund allocated by President Arroyo to evacuate Filipinos in the war-torn Lebanon was “woefully inadequate,” which, according to the lawmaker, “merely reflected Malacañang’s ‘patronizing attitude’ toward overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).”

He noted that while the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) currently has cash reserves amounting to a whopping P7.6 billion, Malacañang allocated only P150 million which can cover the evacuation of only 1,500 workers despite Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) statement that a significant number of the estimated 30,000 Filipinos in Lebanon are already housed in Philippine government-run shelters or in churches.

“The problem is that there are over 30,000 Filipinos who are in harm’s way in Lebanon,” he stressed, adding “the government’s response to this Lebanon crisis is woefully inadequate.”

On Thursday, Mrs. Arroyo ordered the release of P150 million for the Filipinos evacuation from Lebanon, even as she urged the international community to help evacuate the OFWs.

The President came under fire for failing to do enough to help Filipinos stuck in the war zone, many of whom are female domestic workers.

Drilon urged Malacañang not to be “stingy” in the use of OWWA funds, noting that the agency was created precisely to assist OFWs.

He also took exception to Malacañang’s appeal to foreign governments to help accommodate Filipino workers in their respective evacuation plans.

“Given that we have billions of pesos in OWWA funds, I don’t believe it was necessary to sacrifice our national pride by pleading with other countries to accommodate our distressed OFWs. This is pathetic,” he said.

This is not the time to dick around, Mrs. Arroyo.

From the Inquirer:

“WHERE have the OFWs’ billions of pesos in remittances gone?”

Fr. Agustin Advincula, the only Filipino Catholic priest in Lebanon, raised this question as a second batch of more than 100 overseas Filipino workers joined a massive international exodus of thousands of tired, frightened refugees out of Lebanon. Some foreigners fainted in the blazing summer sun as crowds waited for ships to take them away.

The Philippine government has admitted it does not have sufficient resources to implement an immediate evacuation of thousands of OFWs, in contrast to the modern transportation facilities other countries are using to pluck their nationals out of Lebanon.

“I don’t think our resources are scarce. I think it’s more a matter of how the government uses these resources,” Advincula said in an overseas phone interview Thursday night.

OFW remittances in 2005 amounted to $12.3 billion, including money sent through informal channels.

Advincula, who runs the Church of the Miraculous Medal in Beirut, where Filipinos had sought refuge before leaving the country, said there were many fees collected from OFWs and at the very least, the funds should be used to assist those wanting to escape the war and go home.

Advincula said a lukewarm government response would be unacceptable to other nationalities.

“In other countries, it’s the government that is scared of its citizens. They don’t want to be accused by their citizens of not helping them. Whatever happens, they are the responsibility of their governments,” the priest said.

More from the Tribune: Gloria dumps talk on Beirut OFW crisis, attends AFP rites

When it comes to a presidential choice of attendance between the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ turnover rites for its chief of staff and attending personally to the problems being faced by Filipino workers in war-torn Lebanon, it is the military’s change of leadership that comes first with President Arroyo, who relies on the AFP leadership for her political survival.

The President yesterday not only snubbed the 108th Foundation Day celebration of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) but even dumped her scheduled teleconference with Philippine envoys in the Middle East who would have reported directly to her on the Lebanon crisis and a bigger Middle East perspective, along with the plight of the overseas workers who are caught in the crossfire between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrillas in war-torn Lebanon.

It's obvious that our OFWs in lebanon is one of her top priorities... NOT!

Sabi ni Helga:

Have you read the Inquirer yet? Fr. Advincula, the only Filipino priest in Beirut, along with outgoing Sentate President Drilon decry the lame efforts of the government regarding the stranded and frightened OFWs in Lebanon. It is clear that this administration really doesn't give two centavos for the millions of OFWs that are keeping this economy afloat. Want proof? Read the Tribune.

We are in real trouble when our economy depends on other economies to keep it alive through OFW remittances. We are in even more trouble when this regime concentrates on its survival and not the survival of our people. And we will get ourselves into deeper trouble if we do nothing about all that.

It's her administration's policy to keep sending Filipinos overseas to work and then claim she's "created jobs" for them abroad. and then use fuzzy math to produce a lower unemployment rate in order to fool the public.

Campaign Issues for the 2007 elections

Arroyo's illegitimacy and corruption will be one of the main issue in 2007. Pero para sa mga candidates na tatakbo laban sa administration, it is not enough to just be an anti-Arroyo candidate.

So what are the other issues the anti-Administration candidates should run on? Marami, pero one that I think is a sure winner is the "Say No to Pork Barrel" issue.

Ping Lacson says that half of the Pork Barrel funds are being pocketed by public officials. (June 12, 2006)

SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday asked fellow lawmakers to give up their "pork barrel" even for one year because he said half of it goes to pockets of "corrupt" officials.

"Gumawa ako ng pagsusuri at pag-aaral sa pork barrel. Nakakagimbal iyung natuklasan namin na wala pang 50 percent ang napupunta sa proyekto dahil nga kanya-kanyang kaltasan. Mayroon nga ang CoA na 2 percent. Malaking sindikato sa gobyerno iyan kasi sila ang nagse-certify na tama ang proyekto tapos sacrificed si Juan dela Cruz," he said.

With the findings, Lacson expressed hope that more senators would give up their Countryside Development Fund or pork barrel.

Lacson said lawmakers would have a moral ground to convince President Arroyo to give her pork barrel only if senators and congressmen would give up theirs.

I'm glad Mr. Lacson, Mr. Drilon and Mr. Lim have all given up their pork. Good for them. More here from PCIJ: Legislators feed on Pork.

I say this is a powerful issue against the incumbent pro-Arroyo candidates dahil masama pa rin lagay ng ekonomiya at sitwasyon natin (despite what the admin says), and voters are looking for public officials who are willing to sacrifice and cut wasteful spending. And by not taking any pork barrel money, we are sending a message na we are willing to help reduce excessive spending and corruption. Unlike in the recent past where there is so much TALK about this or that achievement against corruption, this or that achievement on cutting wasteful spending, ito makikita ng mga tao na billions of pesos ang matitipid ng taxpayers by electing officials that will not accept pork money.

We've seen how this administration has used the pork barrel allocations in the past to fund their GLORIAGATE operations in 2004 and buy the support of many congressmen to kill impeachment or push CHA CHA. And you can be sure na babaha ulit ang mga biyaya ng Arroyo admin sa mga kakampi nito pagdating ng 2007 election. Corruption yan. And remember the "Bridges to nowhere" scheme ng Arroyo admin?

I think the money should be used instead on more important things like spending on education, health etc. Dapat yung pera ay mapunta sa mga mayors and governors (people who are in charge of running cities and provinces) instead of pork barrel allocations na alam naman nating ginagamit ng arroyo admin para ma-control ang mga tongressmen at senatongs na yan. the congressmen's job is primarily to make laws, and not paying the salaries of gov't employees or managing the city.

Besides, swearing off pork is a good way to contrast oneself from the other admin candidate who is spending taxpayers money like crazy to get himself elected. For admin incumbents to splurge during the campaign is not exactly the most efficient way to spend our gov't money.

So here's how to make this an issue.

anti-Administration newcomers or challengers should pledge to the voters that they will not accept any pork barrel money once they are elected to their terms in office. Maybe even get all the anti-arroyo candidates who are willing to participate in the "Say No to Pork" campaign to do a public "contract signing" thing, then post their signed "Say No to Pork" document on their website.

(Sure there are some anti-Admin candidates who also taken the pork, pero konti lang ang natatanggap nila. They could have gotten more kung lumipat sila sa administration, but chose not to.

the significant majority of those who are receiving pork are from the administration side. Marami sila at mas malaki ang pork na natatanggap nila kaysa sa mga hindi maka-Arroyo.)

All things being equal, matatalo ang pro-Arroyo candidate sa isang Anti-Arroyo candidate, but the millions of gov't/pork barrel funds (and philhealth cards) many of these pro Arroyo candidates will receive from the admin is A GREAT EQUALIZER.

But by publicly swearing off pork money, the anti-Admin challengers can do a political jujitsu and turn their money handicap into their advantage. They will have the credibility and moral high ground when it comes to fighting corruption and as a cutter of wasteful spending. He or she will be more credible when they talk about self-sacrifice.

Sure it's an unfair and corrupt for the adminisration candidates to get plenty of pork funding during elections, pero sino ba naman sa administration ang napaparusahan at nakukulong for corruption? Si Arroyo? Si Garci? Si Bolante? Si Ricardo Manapat? Kanino ka hihingi ng tulong? sa DOJ? Sa Ombudsman? sa SC?

And that's why we're trying to change the "culture of corruption" and criminality by electing qualified and credible people in gov't, hindi ba?

By electing candidates that have credibility and integrity, we can have real reforms and appoint quality people in government. We can be more aggressive in rooting out all those responsible for GLORIAGATE dagdag bawas operations in the COMELEC and the MILITARY.

It allows us to appoint more credible people to sensitive positions than the likes of Raul Gonzalez and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in the justice department, Garcillano and Abalos in the COMELEC, the likes of Bolante and Manapat, The Firm pro-Arroyo cronies like Carpio and Corona in the SC, and GLORIAGATE generals like Esperon and Habacon.

UPDATE: I think we should be creating jobs here instead of sending Filipinos abroad because of lack of job opportunities in our own country. Mali ang focus ni Arroyo dito.

Aside from the Arroyo and Pork Barrel issue, every local candidate should have their own platforms ready and tailor-made for their specific districts.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's with the Kevin Eubanks clips on the David Letterman show?

Really, now.

We've just had JACK TV this week (they carry the Letterman show) sa cable namin, so this is the first time I'm seeing my idol Dave Letterman in a long long time.

nung pinalabas yung Uma Thurman episode kahapon, palagi pinapakita ng Late Show yung video clips ni Kevin Eubanks na tumatawa. Is there a joke here somewhere?

(Kevin Eubanks, for those who don't know, is the band leader of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.)

alam kong galit si letterman kay leno, pero pati ba naman si kevin ay pinag-iinitan na rin ni dave?

Btw, Uma still looks lovely (as ususal), pero nakakainis ang tawa niya. parang Fran Drescher kasi kung tumawa eh... NYE HE HE HE HEHE HEEEE...

but who cares anyway, eh? she's still hot.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Kristie Kenney to Magsaysay: Sorry, can't help you with Bolante

Our favorite US Ambassador of all time, Kristie Kenney, has spoken on the Joc-joc Bolante case, and no surprise (to me at least)-- she refuses to cooperate with Sen. Magsaysay's committee in providing more information on Joc joc.

Instead, and tells magsaysay to get his information from the DFA.

Okay. fayn. Watever.

It's funny though because when you ask the DFA naman for more information on Joc joc, they say na all inquiries on Joc joc should be referred to his lawyer Antonio zulueta, who has made himself scarce and cannot be found or contacted.

(Ellen Tordesillas tried to contact lawyer Zulueta but to no avail.)

This is not the first time the DFA dicked around on the Bolante case.

More from the Tribune:

But Malacañang washed its hands off the Bolante arrest, saying he is no longer a government official, but also said, as a private citizen, that the consulate in Los Angeles would afford Bolante the assistance given to any Filipino citizen. On the matter of the details and background of the Bolante affair, nothing was offered, which in itself is much too strange, considering that consulate officers can definitely obtain basic information from the US authorities, having the official foreign government status.

But giving out information that Bolante’s case involved a canceled visa made things even worse, since there have been too many Filipinos — relatively known and unknown — who have had their visas canceled by US authorites, denied entry to the US and detained very briefly, with these Filipinos quickly shipped back, without being arrested, and without having to post bail of $100,000 or have a hearing. And this is Joc-Joc Bolante, known to be a close ally and associate of the presidential couple, who many times over, ensured his protection when he flitted in and out of the country to evade being called to the Senate to testify on the P3-billion fertilizer funds scam.

More strange official behavior was noted. On the day of the hearing, the DFA claimed that Bolante had spurned the Arroyo government’s assistance, invoking privacy, then saying all queries on Bolante should be coursed through his lawyer in Manila, who couldn’t be found.
And to this day, his lawyer have yet to make a statement regarding Joc Joc Bolante that can be found in Google news.

Amee Enriquez also noted the lack of transparency from all the authorities on the Joc joc matter:

He was already making headlines in the Philippines because of a scandal involving fertilizer, but prior to his arrest at the Los Angeles International Airport last July 7, few Filipinos in Los Angeles have even heard of Jocelyn "Joc-Joc" I. Bolante.

Now Joc-joc’s name has entered the consciousness of U.S.-based Filipinos, especially as the details surrounding his arrest and detention at the San Pedro Detention Facility in L.A., a jail used exclusively for foreigners who violate U.S. immigration laws, are hazy, and neither the Philippine government, members of the Philippine Consulate in L.A., Joc-joc’s Manila based lawyer, Antonio Zulueta, or U.S. immigration officials are willing to talk about the circumstances surrounding his B1-B2 visa cancellation.

UPDATE: It's interesting that the administration tried to make it look like Mike Arroyo was already in the US before Joc Joc got arrested.

We first heard about Joc Joc's arrest on july 12, 2006 from the DFA. We also know that Mike Arroyo was in San Francisco at the time.

Sabi ng mga spokesperson ni big mike na hindi siya lumipad sa US para tulungan si Bolante and he's already been staying in SF since July 9 raw.

(Lumabas lang kasi ang balita na nakulong si Joc Joc noong July 12, 2006.)

The office of Mr. Arroyo denied he flew to the US to assist Bolante who is a fellow Rotarian.

Juris Soliman, Mr. Arroyo’s chief of staff, said the President’s husband has been staying in San Francisco since July 9. He proceeded to San Francisco after the Spain visit.

Soliman said the First Gentleman did not drop by Los Angeles to see or assist Bolante.

We found out later na the DFA already knew about the arrest since July 7 pa pala, but kept the news out of the public for 5 days.

And Arroyo may not have "dropped by" to see Bolante in person, but did he have contact (eg phone) with Jocjoc while he's under custody?

As for Mike Arroyo "not assisting" Bolante, there's nothing much Mike Arroyo can do anyway to save Bolante from his mess other than to do damage/spin control (limit the damage to Bolante alone), and get their (joc joc and pidal's) stories straightened out before this whole thing explodes.

MORE questions from Amee Enriquez:

As of the moment, there are more questions than answers surrounding Joc-joc's arrest at the LAX.

Why was his B1-B2 visa cancelled? Why was he not deported back to the Philippines immediately if it was only an immigration-related matter in the U.S.? Why is he being detained in San Pedro? Why is he required to pay $100,000 bail? Why did he reject consular help during his hearing last July 12?

Why are there rumors that he was allegedly in the U.S. to seek asylum? What about talks of extradition? Why was he in the U.S. allegedly to meet up with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, who arrived in San Francisco at almost the same time that Bolante arrived at the LAX from Seoul, Korea?

Why is there no definite statement from either the Philippine government, the Philippine consulate in L.A., Bolante's lawyer, Antonio Zulueta, or U.S. immigration officials? Is Antonio Zulueta even Bolante's lawyer? There have also been reports that he is represented by a U.S.-based immigration attorney.

UPDATE: DJB says that Mike Arroyo is recruiting lawyers from the Bay Area to help Bolante:

Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. suggested today that the fleeing Jocjoc Bolante may be in trouble with US authorities for more than immigration violations. The report is that his visa was cancelled upon the request of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, and he is apparently being detained in a San Pedro California facility, pending the resolution of certain procedures, including a reported plea for asylum. I hear from certain people in the San Francisco Bay Area that lawyers are being recruited by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to help Jocjoc. (You know who you are--Shame on you guys!)

So Mike Arroyo is helping after all (albeit indirectly). Is Rodel Rodis one of the guys being recruited? Anyway, he has more to say about Joc Joc and the lawyers who are defending him. read the whole thing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Late Monday Roundup

  • "Where are our students?"

    THE University Council of the University of Philippines at Diliman, the academic body composed of faculty members, has expressed concern about the government’s inaction on the disappearance of two UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

    The two undergraduates were doing research in Hagonoy,Bulacan when they were abducted by rifle-wielding men on June 26. The University Council said that UP President Emerlinda Roman had already written Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz requesting assistance to find the students, one of whom was pregnant. But up to now, UP has not received any indications of what happened to them.

  • Another questionable appointment by Arroyo, considering na sangkot si General Esperon sa GLORIAGATE scandal.

    Esperson’s promotion will neither foster calm or even reconciliation within the ranks of a military agitated by allegations of senior officers participating in electoral fraud. It will not smoothen relations with Congress or assuage the fears, rightly or wrongly, in certain quarters that the administration is showing a marked interest in pursuing authoritarian solutions to its political problems. It will not enhance the prestige of the Armed Forces, or inspire confidence in the senior officer corps.

  • No to Cha-cha sentiment rises to 67%. Read this too from PCIJ.

  • Arroyo's "press release" boys come in pairs (eg, garcia and Puentevella, cagas and Cerilles), napansin ni Kuya Lito.

  • Have we reached the tipping point? Increased taxes and an even higher uncontrolled spending (many of our money is being used to crush her political enemies and buy off the clergy and congressmen's support), yang ang style ni Arroyo.

    That's what you get when you have a president who's always on political survival mode dahil sa legitimacy problems niya. For God Sakes Macapagal, DO US ALL A FAVOR AND RESIGN NA. DON'T DRAG THE ENTIRE COUNTRY TROUGH FOUR MORE YEARS OF THIS.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Decoding the CBCP statements

From the CBCP's pastoral statement.

24. Impeachment.

We wish to make the CBCP position clear and unambiguous on the present impeachment plans:

24.1. We are undoubtedly for the search for truth. Therefore, in all sincerity we respect the position of individuals or groups that wish to continue using the impeachment process to arrive at the truth.

24.2. But as Bishops reflecting and acting together as a body in plenary assembly, in the light of previous circumstances, we are not inclined at the present moment to favor the impeachment process as the means for establishing the truth. For unless the process and its rules as well as the mindsets of all participating parties, pro and con, are guided by no other motive than genuine concern for the common good, impeachment will once again serve as an unproductive political exercise, dismaying every citizen, and deepening the citizen's negative perception of politicians, left, right and center.

Ang daming qualifiers, ano? Ito ang sabi ni Lito Banayo:

And that is what being bishops are about. That is what being men of the Lord is all about. But the majority of our bishops whose business it is to advocate and insist that morality is the North Star of all private and public acts, would now refuse "to favor" the legally-sanctioned way of discovering the truth. It qualifies the process and the mindsets of those who participate in the process, saying that discovering the truth "must be guided by no other motive than the common good".

But is not truth an end to itself? Are our bishops saying that falsehood can ever be "for the common good", and that truth, because it is ugly, can be justifiably hidden by a "concern for the common good"? That is not what catechism lessons or Thomas Aquinas or even the Holy Bible taught us.

Have not our lord bishops, in their collective contemplation, realized that when they qualify the search for truth in terms of whether or not it is productive or "unproductive", or whether or not it "dismays every citizen", or whether or not it "deepens the negative perception of politicians, left, right or center", they stray from their mandate of morality and jump into the realm of pure politics?

Oo nga eh, Lito. It's as if the CBCP doesn't want the truth to come out or something.

UPDATE: The CBCP talks about the necessity of all participants having no motive other than "genuine concern for the common good", but then you hear about this, this, this, this and this, you have to wonder kung gusto ba talaga nilang lumabas ang katotohanan at magkaroon ng hustisya.

Their so called "genuine concern for the common good" statement reminded me of Mike Defensor's "best interest of Mahusay and his family" remark when they forcibly abducted pidal witness eugenio mahusay from Ping Lacson and made him sing a different tune..

From Ellen Tordesillas (Aug. 27, 2003):

EUGENIO Mahusay, Jr. must really know something that would bring down the Arroyo government that Malacanang threw caution to the winds and got him back.

Sen, Panfilo Lacson calls it "abduction". Housing Secretary Mike Defensor claims that they merely "fetched" him from a safehouse in Tagaytay where Lacson put him while waiting to be presented as a witness in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearings on the alleged money laundering activities of Mike Arroyo.

The question now is, will Mahusay be singing a tune different from the one he sang in a presscon last Monday?

Defensor's answer is interesting. He said to let "Udong (Eugenio) take his time."

Defensor said: "The statement that he should issue out should be of best interest of his life and his family. Dapat 'yung salita niya kahit ano pa 'yan, 'yung interest niya, 'yung sarili niya. 'Yung safety ng kanyang kapatid."

At least that's clear. Truth will not be the primary consideration. It's his safety and the safety of his family.

So, if truth will not be to his interest, we will not get it from the statement he will be issuing. I'm excited to hear the tales Malacanang will spin in Mahusay's next statement.

Best interest of his family and brother, huh? Like brother Ferdinand Mahusay getting appointed as presidential assistant for Region 9?

Truth and justice apparently is not their main concern.

MORE: Let's decode another statement from Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, who said:

“Lahat naman nandaya, e. Natalo lang ’yung iba sa dayaan.” (“Everyone cheated anyway. Some people just lost in the cheating.”)

Of course, he has no evidence to back it up. but I think I know what he means when he said "everybody cheated". Let's use the Austero Translator. Eto sabi ni Bong:

They say that all they want is to know the truth about whether the President cheated in the last elections. Duh. We already know the truth— everyone cheats during elections in this country and I dare any politician to come forward to claim that he or she is clean. All candidates, and I do mean ALL candidates, violate election laws— from the printing and posting of posters, to the distribution of sample ballots, to vote-buying, etc. So instead of asking the obvious, how about asking a more sincere and proactive question: since we all cheat during elections, how do we make sure that cheating is eradicated from our system?

I can't think of any candidate in the recent elections who did not at least print and post his/her campaign posters during the elections or distribute sample ballots. So that makes them all "cheaters" too huh, just as bad as your president ARroyo?

Of course, when most people talk about cheating, they meant rigging and stealing the elections. I doubt most candidates are into it like his president Arroyo. But it's possible that many administration candidates benefitted from Arroyo and Garci's COMELEC/Military dagdag bawas operation.

UPDATE: Let's hope not all bishops have the same mindset as Archbishop Arguelles and Bishop Emeritus Nicholas Mondejar (who thinks Arroyo is God's gift to the Filipinos).

MLQ3 highlights this part from Mondejar's letter, who quoted the late Redemptionist priest Bernard Haring:

Once a usurper has actually obtained firm control of power in the state, the legitimate authority previously in control is not allowed to resort to violent measure to regain power unless there is a well-founded hope of success and true furtherance of the common good. The mere personal or ancestral claims to authority must ultimately cede to considerations of the welfare of the people as a whole. The common good–in its broadest aspects–is also the decisive factor, the standard by which the people themselves should judge whether to accept the regime of the usurper or not. (Pg.150, the Law of Christ, Bernard Haring, CSSR)

Hmmmm... is this what they meant by "common good" sa CBCP pastoral letter nila?

If so, then wag na lang.

More on Bishop Emeritus Nicholas Mondejar's mindset from MLQ3:
From what I understand of Haring and his writings, his being appalled over how an instinct for obedience cowed Catholics during the Nazi era in his home country, Germany, speaks strongly to us today: we can either be the Mondejars of this world, embracing and justifying the government with a fervor matching Spanish prelates blessing the despotic Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Or we can be willing to be at odds with authority, in the quest to find ways to free one's conscience.

For example, the extract above is a reflection on a dilemma faced by occupied peoples everywhere, and the citizens of a State run by a dictatorship: Would disobedience, or rebellion, if engaged in only by a tiny minority, accomplish anything more than the quicker extermination of opposition, and even greater repression?

The resistance to the Japanese was subject to the same debate: Attack the Imperial Japanese forces all the time, everywhere, regardless of reprisals, or hold back, gathering only intelligence in preparation for the final offensive against the enemy? In France, the same debate took place. In the German context, a similar debate took place over whether to resist Hitler and mount a coup to topple him.

Haring was not against resisting authority; he wanted to ensure that resistance, even to tyranny, should remain non-violent. I don't think he ever meant to have his words used to justify governments that are devoid of legitimacy.

And I tend not to have much patience for people who quote St. Paul to justify total obedience to governments. After all, St. Paul was executed for defying the state, though he was given the privilege, as a Roman citizen, of being beheaded and not crucified. Which I think is the larger lesson when it comes to state power, any state power and people of faith: the state will have the nasty habit of insisting you suffer for your religion.