Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday roundup: Bolante asylum bid a grand escape scheme

Senate committee to US: Bolante asylum bid a grand escape scheme

THE Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food has sent its “vehement” objection to the application for asylum of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, whom it named as one of those culpable for allegedly plundering some P728-million worth of fertilizer funds.

Bolante’s plea for political asylum “is a mere ploy and grand scheme” to evade Philippine laws, committee chair Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said, in a letter addressed to United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

“Representing the more than 4.38 million Filipino farmers who are all awaiting the resolution of what is known in the country as the ‘Fertilizer Scam,’” Magsaysay wrote, “allow us to respectfully submit our DECLARATION VEHEMENTLY OBJECTING TO and/or OPPOSING the application of Mr. JOCELYN BOLANTE for political asylum in the United States of America.”

He said Bolante’s asylum plea “makes a mockery” of the laws of the United States and the Philippines, and is “a prostitution” of the right to seek asylum.

Fertilizer scam solons refuses to inhibit themselves. Pumalag si stealth pro-arroyo solon Teddyboy Locsin:

Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., (PDP-Laban), who has been disputing reports that his district benefited from the fertilizer funds, opposed the motion, saying this would adopt the Stalinist principle that "accusation is conviction."

"This committee is not qualified by anyone but our electorate. Our standing will not be affected except when our electorate votes. We can be removed if we do not act properly," he said.

Locsin said: "This body is not a corporation where conflict of interest arises. It’s not even a court and not empanelled by a mere judge or a jury but our constituents."

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (NP, Taguig-Pateros), the spokesman of the impeachment team, disputed Locsin’s statements, saying "inhibition does not mean guilt."

"It protects the process. When a judge inhibits, does it mean he’s guilty?" he said.

Philhealth membership spikes in 2004, drops sharply after

SEN. Joker Arroyo Jr. yesterday said a 50 percent increase in the membership of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) in 2004 is proof that the agency was used to boost the election chances of President Arroyo.

"Ibig sabihin ‘nung big increase, e dahil ginamit sa eleksyon," Arroyo said.

Arroyo said the Philhealth membership rose from 9.9 million families from May to a high of 15.3 million families by December 2004.

The figures were confirmed by Philhealth senior vice president Melinda Mercado during a briefing of the P46.4 billion supplemental budget by the Senate finance committee.

Mercado told senators the membership fell to 12 million as of July 2006.

Of the number, 2.49 million were considered indigents who could not afford to renew their coverage.

"The government does not care anymore after the elections," Arroyo said.

He said he expects the number to soar again with the 2007 elections approaching.

"Next year, tataas na yun" he said after the Senate briefing.

More here: PhilHealth cards 50% jump boosts OWWA poll misuse

Few Filipinos believe there is democracy; most see oligarchy in control

Few Filipinos believe there is democracy in the Philippines and the level of public expectations in the country is at its lowest since July 2002, a June 24-July 8 survey of Pulse Asia shows.

The survey, which had 1,200 respondents, showed that 41 percent of Filipinos believe that the nation is run by a powerful few and that ordinary citizens cannot do anything about it. An equal number (41 percent) are undecided about the character of the country’s political regime.

Belief that the country is run only by a powerful few is highest in Metro Manila (55 percent), Mindanao (44 percent), Luzon (37 percent), and Visayas (35 percent). Most of the elite Class ABC (48 percent), followed by Classes D and E (40 percent each) also agree.

Only 17 percent disagree that the country is controlled by a powerful few.

Forty-one percent are also undecided over the test statement that there is a big possibility that Filipinos will completely lose faith in peaceful means of promoting democracy. Thirty percent disagree and 29 percent disagree.

Lito Banayo defends Rolex Suplico from the Inquirer's snarky editorial.

Malaya Editorial: Merrill Lynch is happy

Ernie Maceda on Palparan, who is already requiring residents to show an ID card:

Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan has imposed another butcher’s law in Central Luzon. Residents of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga have swamped their municipal mayors and radio stations with complaints that Palparan’s soldiers go house to house or accost people in the streets and demand identification cards.

If you have no cedula or ID card to show you are a resident in the town or barangay, you are taken to their camp for questioning. Some have complained of torture, including slapping when one answers in a way that soldiers consider disrespectful or unsatisfactory.

All these when there is no law yet requiring private citizens to carry IDs. Can you imagine the adverse affect on trade, farming and even ordinary activities like attending a barangay assembly, going to church or accompanying family members to school or to market, when soldiers peremptorily accost people on the streets and demand identification?

Municipal mayors, provincial governors and congressmen of Central Luzon should unite to demand the stoppage of Palparan’s law.

Maceda also comments on the OWWA funds misuse during the 2004 elections.

It is now clear from Commission of Audit records, from Migrante International findings and from the complaint of lawyer Frank Chavez at the Ombudsman, that Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds have been misused.

The misuse included granting of many loans from P500 million to P1 billion. The OWWA is not a government bank or a financial institution. It has no business giving a P500-million loan to RII Builders Inc. of Reghis Romero, the contractor of FVR Smokey Mountain apartment complex. The loan has not been repaid up to now. Romero is now the owner of the plush Lakeshore subdivision in Angeles City. OWWA also granted a loan to National Maritime Polytechnic Institute and private recruiters. Of course, when a government agency engages in giving loans, kickbacks and commissions are paid to the approving personnel.

The records also show that through a resolution dated Feb. 4, 2005, GMA directed the transfer of P530 million to PhilHealth which paid for the premiums of free one-year PhilHealth insurance cards issued through and distributed by Malacañang-supported candidates in the 2004 elections. It is immaterial that the amount was actually remitted to PhilHealth after the elections.

Boncodin Clarifies Philstar reports headline.

PDI editorial: Sneaky Romulo Makalintal

Conrad de Quiros's latest on the OWWA funds scandal.

Billy Esposo criticizes the spin tactics by malacanang on Arroyo's health problems.

MLQ Tres: Bastusang Pambansa

The Bush adminstration should learn from the Arroyo people how to control the media.

Conrad de Quiros remembers Raul Roco.

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