Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday night bullets

  • Mon Tulfo, who used to defend Jose Pidal, is now anti-Mike Arroyo. Bakit nangyari ito?

    Eto pa: GMA ‘hurting’; Tulfos dared to testify in impeach trial

  • Trade union leader abducted by men believed to be members of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion yesterday morning in Pampanga, says KMU.

  • Erap files P30-M libel suit vs Blanquita and Joelle Pelaez plus the editors of Enrique Razon's rag, the Manila Standard Today. More on super duper agent Blanquita Pelaez here.

  • Now, even Ducky Paredes wants the Senate abolished! Thanks Miriam! Maraming dapat sagutin si FVR sa mga anomalous na IPP contracts niya, but Miriam going out of control again.

  • Lito Banayo analyzes the SWS survey and says that 68%, or 7 of 10, wants the truth to come out:

    But of the 43 percent who say impeachment is no longer worth pursuing, only 34 percent argued that the issue was already settled. Thirty-four of 43 percent is roughly 15 percent of the total sample population.

    Significantly though, 14 percent of the 43 percent who no longer favor impeachment reason that "it is useless because the complaints will be decided on by the same congressmen". Another 13 percent of the 43 percent said it is useless to rely on "legal means" such as impeachment to resolve the issue of La Doña’s legitimacy. Fourteen plus 13 is 27 percent of 43 percent, which means, Señor Toting, that 11.6 percent of the total sample population no longer believe in the legal system as a means to ferret out the truth, or as means to right a glaring wrong, a patent injustice. Now that, Señor Toting, is even more dangerous than the 56 percent who want to pursue impeachment as a means of ferreting out the truth. Some 12 percent of the population think the "legal processes" your Doña bandied about last year after saying "I am sorry" to the nation, no longer work. They have lost all hope in their Congress ever seeing the light, and they think "legal means" no longer work.

    Logic, if not simple arithmetic, tell us that 56 percent plus 12 percent want the truth and nothing but, to come out on the issue of the Doña’s legitimacy. That 12 percent no longer favor impeachment simply means they have given up on the methods of the law and the Constitution. What they believe in as "the " means to arrive at the truth may be too fearful to contemplate.

    In simple arithmetic, 56 percent plus 12 percent is 68 percent, or 7 out of ten Filipinos want the truth to come out. They know it; they feel it in the marrow of their bones, but they want it out, and they want justice done, though the heavens fall (on the Doña y su conjunto).

  • After many years, Imee Marcos finally admitted na their family deliberately concealed from the public the "debilitating illness" of her father, President Ferdinand Marcos, "for reasons of national security."

  • From the tribune editorial, on Arroyo's evacuation plan:

    The panic call of Gloria Arroyo the other day for all Filipinos to leave Lebanon with her aides saying those refusing to leave will be asked to sign a waiver, clearly shows the type of evacuation plan — or the absence of it — the government has on the Middle East battleground.

    More here:

    What was startling was the Arroyo administration admitting that it can raise only half of the P2 billion which is the minimum amount needed for the rescue mission. It has even asked the Senate and the House for a supplemental budget of P500 million for the repatriation plan. This then begs the question: Where is the claimed P8 billion in Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) funds? Gone, presumably, since Gloria is still asking for more funds.

    Another birdbrain idea was the use of ships to fetch Filipinos from Lebanon. The proposal was apparently hatched to play up to international media which must be wondering what the country with the second biggest expatriate population in Lebanon is doing to bring its citizens home.

    The idea of using ships for the evacuation would have been a grand feat had it been implemented earlier, say 15 days ago. If that had been done, many Filipinos, by this time, would have been on their way home relatively safer than when a full-scale Israeli offensive is under way.

    But then again, the idea had always been to ensure that the Filipino workers in Lebanon, even with the heavy Israeli bombardment, wouldn’t come home, because the government didn’t want to lose their remittances. That’s how much Gloria cares for the OFWs.

    The mere sight of Gloria ordering all Filipinos to leave Lebanon without any viable way of departure, was to say the least, pathetic.

    Gloria seems to be asking Filipinos to join the flood of Lebanese seeking refuge in Syria or other border countries to save themselves from the Israeli assault, which is exactly what appears to be the only option left for Filipinos still in Lebanon.

    It is not even conceivable how Gloria could enforce a compulsory evacuation of 30,000 Filipinos where its own embassy lacks the resources to even adequately feed Filipinos seeking shelter from the conflict.

    The Palace, meanwhile, is asking Congress to stop bothering officials involved in the goofy evacuation mission about the P8 billion Owwa funds, from which money should have been drawn to address the cost of repatriation.

    Gloria’s spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the entire nation should be working hand in hand amid the crisis.

    Hey, Toting Bunye, Filipinos are suffering in the war zone exactly because of the juggling of the Owwa funds, which apparently, neither Gloria nor the Owwa administrator can produce.

    The misuse of the funds, supposedly to assure a Gloria victory in the 2004 elections, is what would put the blood of Filipinos in the hands of Gloria.

    An organized and effective evacuation would have been started had the funds been there, waiver or no waiver.

  • More on the OWWA funds from Ninez:

    For an administration that claims the overseas workers funds of some P8 billion are intact, it is strange for Gloria to ask Congress for a supplemental budget of half a billion pesos for the evacuation needs of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in war-torn Lebanon.

    There should be more than enough funds from OWWA to finance the evacuation of our workers since it is only an estimated P2 billion needed to move them out of harm’s way and that P2 billion can certainly be taken from the OWWA funds, which are really meant for such contingencies.

    True, OFWs are being repatriated, now with a fairly large batch of some 400 returnees. But it should also be pointed out that their return was not financed by the Arroyo government but by the United Nations International Migration Organization, which means that the Gloria government hasn’t quite shelled out any money save for the delayed remittance of some $150,000, which, if really remitted as claimed instead of remitted through press release, is still a measly amount, considering the big number of Filipinos in Lebanon.

    The question then arises: If the OWWA funds, which are a trust fund, are intact, why isn’t the OWWA administrator releasing the funds for evacuation and repatriation purposes, as it has already been disclosed by Philippine envoy Francis Al Bichara that OWWA Manila only remitted a measly $19,000 to its representative in Lebanon?

    That the funds cannot be accounted for by Gloria and OWWA is fairly evident, which is the reason Malacañang and its aides have been rejecting the Senate’s call for their appearance for the hearings on the OFW repatriation issue.

    Documents tend to show that OWWA funds were diverted to the election campaign of Gloria, along with other documents showing that the funds were also used for certain projects in Kuwait which had nothing to do with OFWs, and which withdrawals go against the purposes of the funds.

    Former PhilHealth chief now Health Secretary Francisco Duque says he will resign if it is proved that OWWA funds were released to PhilHealth for the election campaign of Gloria, even when there exists a memorandum written by him to Gloria informing her of the need to transfer the OWWA funds to PhilHealth as this transfer would have a “significant bearing on the 2004 elections.”

    There is also no questioning the fact that Gloria, during the campaign, used PhilHealth cards with her photo and distributed these in the tens of thousands — many of whom were not OFWs.

    Marianito Roque, OWWA chief, also claimed that the funds are intact, and said he is ready to present investment documents from two different banks, yet none of these officials bothered to appear before the Senate to disprove these allegations, choosing instead to speak to the media. Today, he admits that all the OWWA can give is P500 million.

    Chances are, that OWWA money is gone and what OWWA holds are, in probability, some government bonds with a long-term maturity date. This appears to be the style of Gloria and her regime, when they want to get their hands on funds they want to encash for their illegal use. This was what was done in the Reghis Romero Smokey Mountain project, the Marcos Swiss deposits and other funds.
  • Ninez Cacho Olivares on JOC JOC Bolante's cancelled visa story:

    Let’s face it. If it was a case of cancelled visa, even this does not fly, since the airline that booked him from Seoul, South Korea, found nothing wrong with his visa to the US, and was not, or so it appears, tipped off by the US government that Bolante’s visa was cancelled. As for the earlier US claim of being bound by privacy rules, heck, the US immigration officer once detained Sen. Loi Estrada and this was not regarded as a private matter by neither the Philippine government nor, for that matter, the US Embassy in Manila. So much for Philippine-American privacy rules. There have been many more Filipinos whose entry into the US with a valid visa was denied and they all were quickly deported and placed on a plane bound for home. One recalls the Jarque couple case where they were questioned and detained, then voluntarily left for the Philippines.

    So why is there a different treatment for Bolante, from both the American and Philippine governments? Not even the excuse of Bolante facing a Senate contempt arrest charge is likely to be honored by the US as that arrest warrant is a useless piece of paper in the USA.

    Joc-Joc fears the wrath of the presidential couple who may know he is ready to spill the beans on them and the couple may be waiting on tenterhooks waiting for the US axe to fall on them. That’s akin to killing them softly.

    It is, as usual, the Americans who hold all the aces

  • Conrad de Quiros comments on the recent cheating sa nurses exam. Tarantado talaga yung mga taga R.A. Gapuz Review Center. (Correction: from CDQ, there was no evidence that the leaks came from Gapuz review center. 2 Board of Nursing officials, anesha dionisio and virginia madeja, were responsible for the leaks)

  • Maceda commends Al Bichara for telling the truth:

    Why should Al Francis Bichara, Philippine Ambassador to Beirut, Lebanon, be reprimanded for telling the truth? Asked by a TV reporter whether he had enough funds, he candidly said “no” and had not received any new funds from the home office (DFA).

    As a former ambassador to Washington, I know that the regular funds allotted to an embassy are pared to the bone. My representation funds in Washington were only $2,000 a month while travel funds were only $1,000 a month. Common sense dictated that with 30,000 OFWs in war-torn Lebanon, extraordinary expenses for transportation, food and housing were going to be incurred. DFA and Malacañang should have sent additional funds posthaste during the first week of the conflict to Beirut.

    Bichara should be commended, not castigated, for working under extremely difficult circumstances without funding support. The $150,000 funds for Beirut evacuation finally reached Beirut last Aug. 1. It should have been sent three weeks earlier. No wonder the evacuation to Syria took so long to start.

    To be fair, DFA cannot be blamed here too. It has to wait for funds to be released by the Department of Budget and Management before supplemental funds can be sent to an embassy abroad, outside of its regular allotment. OWWA should have paid for the food and housing and the buses of the evacuees to go to Syria.

    Anyway, Bichara is a rich man who does not need the job. Malacañang would be well advised not to push him to the wall. He is not going to hang on to his thankless job. He will probably resign after he completes his job.

    This incident raised the question — are executive officers prohibited from speaking out about their problems? In a truly democratic system, transparency and freedom of speech is the rule. It is understandable that in the military establishment, junior officers should not make their complaints to media. Considerations of discipline and security justify that rule. But it is only under GMA that civilian officers are prohibited also from speaking out about their problems publicly.

  • Kung may People Power, may purfume power rin.

  • Maraming balita at chismis si Helga sa mga nangyayari ngayon.

  • Malaya's advice to Human Rights Chair Quisumbing on how to handle the continued unabated killings:

    Perhaps Quisumbing should appeal not to Gloria’s duty as president and her moral code but to her self-interest.

    What good will she and Mike’s having fabulous assets in California if these could be seized in future human rights violations judgments? Also, she would not find a retirement haven under a jurisdiction which holds former heads of state liable for crimes committed during their rule.

    Gloria might or might not listen.

    Our guess is she won’t, which would place Quisumbing on the spot. Quisumbing should either resign or bring her case before a venue to which Gloria will at least pay attention for her own political survival.

    We mean public opinion. Quisumbing should stop being the scholarly lawyer that she is and be the defender of human rights that her position requires her to be.

    Indict the climate of terror. Condemn the killings. Denounce every instance of the rights abuse.

    How about it, madam chairman of the Commission on Human Rights?

  • Garci running for Congress says Drilon:

    SEN. Franklin Drilon yesterday said former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano is planning to run for Congress in next year’s elections.

    He said Garcillano is targeting the House seat to be vacated by Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta, a stalwart of the Liberal Party of which Drilon is president.

    Drilon said the information was confirmed to him by Acosta, who is in his third and last term as congressman.

    "So you now have Garcillano, who undoubtedly will win the election, and now will be called honorable gentleman from the province of Bukidnon," he said.

    But Senate sources said Garcillano has been meeting with his "field operators" to ensure victory for the administration ticket in 2007, to be led by presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor.

  • Violence mars Cha Cha signature campaign in Makati:

    THE Charter change signature campaign in Makati turned ugly yesterday when followers of former vice mayor and Cha-cha advocate Roberto "Bobby" Brillante "ganged up" on two barangay officials for taking pictures of the event.

    Luciano Lloren and Joseph Pillo, both of Bantay Bayan of barangay Isidro, suffered contusions and were taken to the Ospital ng Makati.

    "Marami po ang sumuntok sa amin. Una ko pong nakita si Brillante at tinamaan po ako sa ulo. Kilala ko po siya personally at maliban po dun may nakita po ako na may dalawa pang lalaki na nagpakilala ng taga DILG na parang bubunot ng baril," Pillo said at the hospital.

    Brillante denied the accusation.

    "Paanong ako ang susuntok eh ako pa nga ang umaawat dun at walang katotohanan na may mga dala kaming baril," he said.

    The two officials said they would file charges against Brillante and his men.

  • Ellen Tordesillas reports on a suspicious website.

  • How Justice secretary Gonzalez helped LTFRB head Elena Bautista do a Joc Joc-like escape from the police.

    Arriving at the domestic airport from an Iloilo flight, Ma. Elena Bautista, head of the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is told that policemen and a sheriff are waiting outside the arrival area to serve her an arrest warrant.

    She had ignored five subpoenas from a judge who now wanted her arrested and brought to court. Among the passengers on the plane with her was the Justice secretary.

    What happened next is totally incomprehensible to me. In obvious panic, the two (some reports identify Bautista as a "protégé" of the Justice secretary) together with their retinue, compromised the security of the airport by going through the runway area all the way to the international terminal where they forced their way into the VIP lounge from where Bautista directed her lawyer to file a motion for reconsideration with the judge. That having been accomplished after several hours, the Justice secretary’s "protégé" and her protector boarded their cars for home. The sheriff and the policemen were thus frustrated. They were barred from the domestic arrival area and also from the VIP lounge at the international terminal.

    There's more, read the whole thing.

  • PDI Editorial: Joc Joc, The Safest Man in RP

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