Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Congrats to Mario Cornejo

Mario directed this indie film called "Big Time".

I saw the film. Okay siya. Hindi boring. Maganda ang pagkakagawa.

Now Big time na talaga si Cornejo, dahil kinuha siya ng Star Cinema para i-direct ang bagong pelikula na First Day High na pinapalabas na ngayon. Mukhang maganda rin. Baka panoorin ko sa sinehan.

Former MTRCB Chair Armida Siguion Reyna slams ban on erap video

Link here. Nothing unusual here.

Just that I think we now have a clear idea kung paano i-interpretin ng mga kaalyado ni Arroyo ang bagong amendment na:

"No law shall be passed abridging the responsible exercise of the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances."

sa CHA CHA proposal nila.

Any film or docu that exposes the admin's corruption (like the PROBE team's PAGCOR expose on Mike Arroyo, na yan ang dahilan kung bakit na cancel ang show nila) or questions the legitimacy of arroyo admin will be censored or banned, because these films are BAAAAAD for you! and they "undermine the faith and confidence of the people in the government.”

The banning of Erap's video is just another example.

Previous:

-- Assault on our Bill of Rights

Ombudsman Gutierrez: Binay dapat kasuhan!

(3rd UPDATE)

-- Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez: Binay dapat kasuhan ng katiwalian

-- CBCP: FPJ was cheated in 2004 polls

A Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) committee tasked to investigate charges of massive fraud during the last polls issued its final report over six months ago and before a plenary bishops conference, showing that FPJ was cheated by at least 600,000 votes.

Bishop Teodoro Bacani confirmed that there was such a report submitted by the commit-tee created by the CBCP tasked to probe the alleged mas-sive electoral fraud com-mitted during the last presi-dential polls, but that the report, which was distri-buted to each and every bishop, was labeled “for your eyes only.”

“The report released to us by the committee indicated that there was cheating committed and that FPJ was cheated by at least 600,000 votes,” Bacani confirmed during a brief telephone interview with the Tribune yesterday.

So why is the CBCP still "searching for the truth"? Makes you go hmmm...

-- Ellen Tordesillas: "Nakikita pa ba ninyo ang advertisement ng Singaw ng Bayan tungkol sa coup? Mukha hindi ko na nakikita. Malamang pina-alis na nila. Dapat naman. Buking sila doon na nanloloko sila ng taumbayan"

-- Malaya Editorial: Setting the stage for another vote-buying spree in 07. Money quote:

We can only speculate on why Estrada decided to end directed lending. The reason probably is that Estrada knew he did not need to buy the love of the poor. So unlike the current occupant of Malacañang who seems to obsessively crave for the people’s affection.

In lifting the Estrada ban, Gloria, the economist, said she was addressing the continuing lack of credit for small and medium industries in the countryside. She said safeguards are in place to ensure that only qualified borrowers could go to the lending window.

Given her record, who would believe her?

-- and if some of the money here ended up on the 2007 elections, (like the fertilizer funds etc.) I will be really upset.

-- Rudy romero: No Waiver, no transparency.

-- From Conrad de Quiros, who said Vinyl records are making a comeback raw. pwede rin kayang gumawa ng pirated vinyls ang mga pirates natin?

-- Neal Cruz notes the contradictions in pro-Charter-change tactics

IN ITS desperate efforts to push Charter change, the administration is entangling itself in contradictions. This early, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her lackeys are already eyeing the administration's senatorial candidates in next year's elections. But the new constitution they are pushing will change our government to a unicameral parliamentary system, thus abolishing the Senate. So what are their senatorial candidates for? It can only mean that contrary to the confident statements of Speaker Jose de Venecia and the local government executives that the "Cha-cha" train can no longer be stopped, they realize that it is about to be derailed.

Another contradiction is that Solicitor General Eduardo Nachura, who argued in favor of Charter change at the Supreme Court hearing yesterday, filed, when he was still a congressman, a proposed enabling law for the constitutional provision on the people's initiative. As former senator Rene Saguisag said, that was an admission by Nachura that the provision
needs an enabling law. At yesterday's Supreme Court hearing, however, Nachura argued that no enabling law is needed.

Still another contradiction: The solicitor general is the lawyer of the government. So, he should be arguing for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that rejected the petition of Sigaw ng Bayan and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) to schedule a plebiscite for Charter change because there is no enabling law. Why did he argue against the Comelec as if he is the counsel for Sigaw and ULAP?

In the "Cha-cha" controversy, Malacañang should legally be neutral. It should not speak out for or against it. But all this time, Malacañang has been openly pushing for Charter change.

And where is Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP getting the millions of pesos to pay for their pro-Cha-cha commercials and advertisements? Those TV commercials and newspaper ads cost about P100,000 per, and considering that there are so many of them, it must have already cost them hundreds of millions of pesos. Who is paying for all that?

Sigaw ng Bayan is a private organization and ULAP is composed of local government executives and they cannot afford those millions. Most local government units spend Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) funds (their share in the income tax payments of citizens) for their day-to-day expenses. So the government, and therefore the taxpayers, must be secretly footing the bill. They are committing large-scale estafa because they cannot spend tax money on their private projects, which the Cha-cha is.

It should be easy to trace the sources of these funds through the paper trail. The Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman, both independent constitutional bodies, should look into this.

-- Ernie Maceda: "Who’s paying? Malacañang has come up with a new newspaper called the Philippine Gazette. Who is the publisher? Sigaw ng Bayan spokesman, lawyer Raul Lambino, also president and chairman of the board. Certainly, Lambino does not have the P20- million initial capital to finance a new daily.

Whose big picture is on the front page? Former Makati Vice Mayor Bobby Brillante who filed a case against incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay."

2nd update: -- Conrad de Quiros on the Pablo Glean murder. Yup, I also believe it's politically motivated and a message to Binay.

-- Lito Banayo: Is there a Philippine "king" na katulad sa Thailand?

-- Conrad de Quiros: Only a counter-coup can end the coup already in place. I admit that that may be the only way to realistically dislodge Arroyo and Pidal from their stolen presidency at this point.

-- Ano ang revision at ano ang amendment? Eto sagot ni Fr. Joaquin Bernas:

Under the 1935 Constitution, it was not necessary to make a distinction between amendment and revision because only Congress and a Constitutional Convention could propose changes then and they could propose either amendments or revision. Even then, however, experts on Constitutional Law already made the distinction. The eminent constitutionalist Vicente G. Sinco, former dean of the UP College of Law and whose book on Political Law was for a long time the textbook used in law schools, explained the distinction thus:

“Strictly speaking, the act of revising a constitution involves alterations of different portions of the entire document. It may result in the rewriting whether of the whole constitution, or the greater portion of it, or perhaps only some of its important provisions. But whatever result the revision may produce, the factor that characterizes it as an act of revision is the original intention and plan authorized to be carried out. That intention and plan must contemplate a consideration of all the provisions of the constitution to determine which one should be altered or suppressed or whether the whole document should be replaced with an entirely new one.”

This definition is also clearly reflected in the deliberations of the 1987 Constitution. What Sigaw ng Bayan and company have been advocating fits neatly into Sinco’s definition of revision.

Sinco proceeded to define amendments:

“The act of amending a constitution, on the other hand, envisages a change or only a few specific provisions. The intention of an act to amend is not to consider the advisability of changing the entire constitution or of considering that possibility. The intention rather is to improve specific parts of the existing constitution or to add to it provisions deemed essential on account of changed conditions or to suppress portions of it that seem obsolete, or dangerous, or misleading in their effect.”

This, too, is reflected neatly in the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. Sigaw and company’s proposals, on the other hand, fit neatly into what a mere amendment is not.

Briefly, the thrust of revision is to search, destroy and replace. The thrust of an amendment is to search and improve.

But why limit initiative and referendum to simple amendments? The answer, which one can easily glean from the rather long deliberations on initiative and referendum in the 1986 Constitutional Commission, is practicality. In other words, who is to formulate the revision or how is it to be formulated? Revision, as concretely being proposed now, is nothing less than a rebuilding of the Philippine constitutional structure. Who were involved in formulating the structure? What debates ensued? What records are there for future use in interpreting the provisions which may be found to be unclear?


-- Terrell Owens reportedly tries to commit suicide.

-- I agree with MLQ3 about Tony Abaya's assessment:

But the most important lesson to be learned from the latest Thai coup is that the parliamentary system does not immunize a sitting government from being overthrown by a military coup, contrary to the naïve claims of its champions.

So if the parliamentary system cannot dismantle political dynasties, cannot eliminate or even only reduce government corruption, cannot guarantee economic progress, cannot shield a sitting government against coups d’etat and people power uprisings, why are we being stampeded into changing our Constitution in order to shift to it?

There seems to be only one answer: To allow Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to remain in power beyond 2010, either as prime minister in a Westminster-type parliament, or as president in a French parliamentary model. ChaChaCha!

Indeed.

Strange Article, Strange Suggestion

Nabigla ako dito sa strange article mo MLQ3. "Referendum on Estrada"

Ummm... erap's been out of office for 5 years already, tapos "referendum on Erap" pa? Shouldn't it be a referendum on Arroyo's illegitimacy and administration instead?

And let's have A REAL REFERENDUM for god's sake. A yes-or-no vote on Arroyo's stay in power. And not the kind "One Voice" is proposing.

You want erap to run again for the Senate in 2007? Bakit pa? I did not support Edsa Dos, but I don't want erap to run again for office either. Too divisive. Same with Arroyo. Tapos illegitimate pa si maam. For once, I agree with the partisan defenders of the Arroyo administration when they criticized the idea.

Rego:

if erap is guilty as charge, 5 years in jail is not the corresponding punishment... What Earp referendum? Do the people deserve to subjected to such choice again it?

Don’t we have enough of Erap?. Is nt putting Erap back in Malacanang or even in senate a step backward against what we really wanted to achieved? Jinggoy and loi is already in teh senate and looks like JV is going to the senate too ( if the May 2007 election will push through). With that should we still miss Erap in the senate????

Domingo Arong:

Erap, GMA, the Marcoses, and all incumbents including those who have ever been an incumbent elective official since 1946 and members of their immediate families (DYNASTY) should be barred from running for any elective position during the next or any other election ever.

Rego:

But Erap again????? Pleeaaassseeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Besides, erap still sees himself as the president, at ninakaw lang ni Arroyo ang kapangyarihan sa kanya. If he runs for the senate, then he is virtually conceding na si Arroyo na talaga ang tunay na presidente. Sorry, but i don't see that happening at all.

But if you really want erap to run again, MLQ3, maybe the only way he'll do it again is if he runs for president one more time (via snap elections), which he will probably win.

At matatangal na naman siya sa isang edsa coup.

So wag na lang.

Since Ms Arroyo can’t move on, Estrada should (and offer the country the chance to) move on, too. Forget the argument that Estrada is still President. His support for Fernando Poe Jr. proved that life is not like science fiction. Time cannot stop, it continues. But time is running out. The only thing that can stop Estrada from running for senator is a parliament, and the administration knows this.

Even if erap wins a senate seat, may chance pa rin na baka maa-abolish ang senado if Malacanang had their way.

(Heh. Maybe that is the point. ;) )

Here’s a question: can our country afford the continuing division? In her closest brush with statesmanship, President Macapagal-Arroyo said the country couldn’t afford to be permanently divided, and offered herself as a sacrifice. That period of sacrifice proved short-lived, and the division continues. The debate is now reduced to: which of three things—time, a new constitution, or bayonet—will put an end to that division?

All false choices, MLQ3. And how can a new Arroyo constitution heal the divisions within our country? You're way off, Kuya Manuel.

The only surefire way to heal the division within is for Arroyo to be removed from power, then hold special elections to replace her.

Some time ago I wrote that Estrada deserved a speedy resolution of the charges leveled against him. It seems clear, though, that the government can’t afford a verdict handed down either way (if Estrada is acquitted, administration allies will rebel; if he’s convicted, his mass base will be infuriated); so, paralyzed by the political dilemma presented by Estrada, its solution is to keep him in detention and drag out the trial. At this point, the country should have already known if it owed Estrada an apology or if he should stay in jail (where he could decide on accepting or rejecting a pardon). It still doesn’t, and I don’t see how our people will ever know—or whether, by now, anyone can still hold the opinion—that Estrada has gotten a fair trial.

Nah, i don't think arroyo's allies will be all that upset if erap is convicted, then pardoned. I believe that's what the arroyo admin intends to do after 2007.

So what's really on your mind, Manuel? ;)

UPDATE: Yes, 2007.

Despite its much publicized efforts to reconcile with the camp of deposed President Joseph Estrada, Malacañang yesterday refused to give any commitment on the proposed release of the ousted leader next year when he turns 70 years old.

This was the Palace’s reaction to the statement of lawyer Leonard de Vera, convenor of Equal Justice for All Movement, who said Estrada should be released once he turns 70 years old next year based on Memorandum Circular (MC) 155 issued by President Arroyo on Nov. 17, 2004, which granted executive clemency to convicts who are 70 years old and above.

Hindi ba Erap hater si Leonard de Vera dati? What made him change his attitude on Erap?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Arroyo must have her way

Seems like Arroyo wants his boys confirmed, with or without Congressional approval:

The President’s appointments to key Cabinet and military posts are based on merit and fitness and must not be whimsically treated in this manner by the legislature.

The Chief Executive is responsible for executing the laws of the land and must not be unduly hampered in the selection of her subalterns who are supposed to implement her programs of governance.

Secretary Gonzalez and General Esperon have shown solid performance and courage from Day One in their respective offices.

Let us not allow personal or partisan reasons to prevent able and competent people from serving the people.

Both enjoy the confidence of the President and no amount of black propaganda and character assassination will prod her to drop their appointments.

Solid performance at courage? O partisan loyalty to Mrs. Arroyo?

Sabi ni Mlq3: "Must? Must!? In a system with the separation of powers? And in the face of congressional disapproval she will insist on her appointments? And no one wonders how a president can go against 12 administrations’ precedents and the very idea of the executive having to submit its appointees to congressional scrutiny and possibly, rejection? And you still doubt we have authoritarianism waiting in the wings? No democratically-minded president, ever, would have permitted such a statement."

Tribune reports: GMA ignores CA, promotes Esperon

President Arroyo has again defied the Commission on Appointments (CA) by promoting controversial Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to the rank of four-star general despite his pending confirmation as a three-star general.

Esperon, one of the four top ranking officials in the military implicated in the allegedly massive cheating in the 2004 presidential elections as evidenced in the “Hello Garci” tapes, yesterday took his oath as a full-fledged four-star general before Mrs. Arroyo in Malacañang along with 16 newly promoted generals and senior flag officers.

Back to Mlq3's comment. Come on, Kuya Manuel, appointing officials with questionable characters without going thru a vetting process and approval from the COA has worked well for her in the past.

Palace firm on Barcelona,
Garcillano reappointments

Posted: 7:27 PM (Manila Time) | Jul. 06, 2004
By Maila Ager and Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQ7.net

AMID criticisms, Malacañang stood pat on its decision to reappoint Virgilio Garcillano and Emanuel Barcelona as Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye pointed out on Tuesday that the appointments went through a thorough evaluation before they got President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's nod.

"We will not go into legal details but I assumed that these appointments had been carefully screened," Bunye said at a press briefing.

The Palace expressed confidence that the officials would finally get the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

Both Garcillao and Barcelona were first appointed to the Comelec in February but the CA did not confirm their appointments.

But opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel immediately questioned the appointments, saying that it could be part of the President's alleged "payment of political debt."

Pimentel had linked Garcillano to "special operations" in Mindanao where he allegedly "manipulated" election results to favor the President.

Meanwhile, Pimentel said Barcelona's independence was "under a cloud of doubt" because he claimed that the official was a campaign donor of Mrs. Arroyo when she ran for vice president in 1998.

"What the Comelec needs are people with integrity, not those who are subservient to the appointing authority," Pimentel said in a statement.

The senator said the two officials did not deserve to be reappointed after their ad interim appointments lapsed on June 11 because of their alleged bias for the President in the last election.

"The President missed an opportunity to repair the shattered image and credibility of the Commission on Elections by reappointing Commissioners Garcillano and Barcelona," he said.

"He (Pimentel) is entitled to his opinion but the President believes that the two gentlemen will be able to fulfill their functions," Bunye said.

See, you don't need CA approval to work for Arroyo. What Arroyo wants, arroyo gets. And those two partisan COMELEC appointees did a good job in the last elections naman diba? Lol.

Can you imagine, kung hindi lumabas ang "Hello Garci" tapes, malamang Commissioner Garci pa rin ang tawag natin at ni ComelecAko sa kanya.

More from the PDI on Arroyo's "recess appointments":

2 new Comelec commissioners
'capable,' says Palace
Posted: 7:22 PM (Manila Time) | Feb. 11, 2004
By Joel Francis Guinto and Veronica Uy
INQ7.net

(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's two new appointees to the Commission on Elections have the "capability and potential" to ensure honest and peaceful elections in May and must be given a chance to perform their duties, government officials said Wednesday.

"Nothing is uppermost in the President's mind than the credibility of the May elections and she has selected two officials who have the capability and potential to contribute to that goal," Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.


On Tuesday, Ms Macapagal named lawyers Manuel Barcelona Jr. and Virgilio Olivar-Garcillano to replace former Comelec commissioners Luzviminda Tancancgo and Ralph Lantion, who retired early this month.

"Let us give them a chance to prove their worth and we are confident they will pass the test of public duty," Bunye said, adding it was unfair to pre-judge the appointees.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos shared Bunye's position amid the negative reactions over the appointments of Barcelona and Garcillano.

Abalos singled out Garcillano who he said was a "graduate" of the Comelec.

"With his experience, what more can you ask for? The accusations against him are unfair because he has not been charged," Abalos said.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel had described Garcillano as a "Comelec operator" who was allegedly responsible for the vote shaving scheme in Mindanao where the senator claimed he was a victim, robbing him of a Senate seat in the 1995 elections
.

But Garcillano on Wednesday denied Pimentel's allegations.

"I don't do that. I already asked (him through an intercessor) to sit down with me. I think (his accusations) are just a carryover from the past. He is a respected legal jurist.

"I'm sure he knows that the removal of names from the list of voters is not an administrative function of the (Commission on Elections) but a judicial function of the courts. I know the senator is a reasonable man," said Garcillano who called on Abalos a day after his appointment.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pimentel said the opposition bloc would ask the President to justify her appointments that were made while Congress was on recess.

Under the Constitution, Pimentel said Garcillano and Barcelona should go through the Commission on Appointments.


Abalos defended the appointments, saying, "There was only a vacancy on February 2. You must give the President a chance to screen the applicants.

"I doubt if Congress would still have time to act on his appointment.And even if they bypass his appointment, the President can still appoint them again."

Sounds familiar?

UPDATE: Roundup later...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

"When in doubt, go paper, go low-tech."

Election Technology update in Maryland:

A week after the primary election was plagued by human error and technical glitches, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) called yesterday for the state to scrap its $106 million electronic voting apparatus and revert to a paper ballot system for the November election.

"When in doubt, go paper, go low-tech," he said.

Related: How to steal an election using an automated voting machine

Now, I'm not against using computers to make the counting faster, pero dapat magkaroon muna ng housecleaning at tanggalin ang mga COMELEC dagdag bawas operators (at mga officials na tumulong sa pag-coverup ng operations nila).

Kasi MAS MABILIS dayain ang election, at MAS MAHIRAP mahuli kapag computerized ang botohan at gusto ng admin dayain ito (dahil may COMELEC insiders sila with unsupervised access to the system).

Sa pagkakaalam ko, wala ni isang dagdag bawas operator sa COMELEC or Military noong 2004 ang naparusahan o nakulong. Pati si Garci lusot. Kung hindi lumabas ang GLORIAGATE tapes, malamang Commissioner Garcillano pa rin ang tawag natin sa kanya.

How to contact me

You can email me at:

jmarzan04 at gmail dot com

Saturday, September 23, 2006

You got it all wrong, my peeps...

Like US ambassador Kristie Kenney, I too don't think there's any bolante tradeoff. Pero i'll explain why the Arroyo admin is behaving the way they're behaving.

Kaya maliit lang ang supporta na binibigay ng gobierno sa biktima, at nagpapatalo ang DOJ sa kaso ni "nicole" ay dahil sumisipsip ang Arroyo admin sa US.

This administration is so afraid to give any sign na kumokontra sila sa polisiya o kagustuhan ng US, especially after her GLORIAGATE legitmacy crisis. Alam kasi nilang kailangan nila ang suporta ng Bush admin para hindi sila matumba. The days of Arroyo playing the "china card" or boldly declaring more pullouts that threaten US interests are OVER.

Akala kasi ni GMA may "legitimacy" na raw siya pagkatapos ng 2004 elections, at hindi na raw nila kailangan ang suporta ng US, kaya malakas ang loob nilang sumuway sa kagustuhan ng US-led "coalition of the willing", and her admin irresponsibly gave in to the demands of the terrorists by pulling out the RP troops out of iraq, angering the Bush administration. Well, it was a good gamble for arroyo anyway because iraq was becoming a bigger mess everyday, tapos wala pang WMDs. and she was betting on a messy iraq to derail the bush candidacy in 2004, with a new kerry admin in 2005. So it seemed okay and risk-free to piss off bush at that time.

Villar hits Malacanang, PNP for pulling out Senate security force

The Senate is also mulling re the creation of it's own security force after tinanggalan sila ng security protection ng Arroyo admin.

The Senate is considering the idea of putting up its own security force after Malaca-ñang recently recalled the deploy-ment of the Special Action Force (SAF) unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) even as the law provides for the detailing of uniformed personnel to the two Houses of Congress.

The pulling out of SAF members has been the subject of the latest “row” between the Palace and the chamber.

Despite claims by authorities that SAF members are being merely recalled temporarily, Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., during an interview with reporters, yesterday noted that it appears the executive is now denying them with police protection and assistance.

“It shows the Executive department’s lack of concern for the Senate and the House of Representatives as an institution. This is not doing any good to the image of President Arroyo because it reflects how she sees the Senate as an institution. It smacks of disrespect to a co-equal body by the President herself,” Villar said in denouncing the move taken by the PNP recently.

Napaka-petty naman ng Malacanang.

Make a kid's wish come true

From MLQ3: "in times of pain has the story and updates on Joseph Pyro, who is very ill and has gone through, in his three years on earth, more than most of us will ever have to suffer."

From Pyro's blog, we learned that the 3 yr old kid's wish is to meet the Fil-Greek WWE Wrestler Batista (o kahit na si Undertaker o John Cena).

Nasa pilipinas ba currently si Joseph ngayon o nasa US? Kaka-alis lang kasi ni batista eh after visiting the Philippines just a few weeks ago (sept. 7 to 9) to promote the WWE SmackDown! Survivor Series Tour at the Araneta Coliseum on Oct. 21 and 22.

It's too bad Joseph's stuck in the hospital undergoing chemo therapy. One way for Pyro to meet Batista is for somebody to schedule a surprise visit for the kid at the hospital kapag bumalik si Batista sa Pinas for the Survivor Series.

Pero kung pwede si Joseph na lumabas sa hospital, somebody could arrange to give him and his guardian courtside seats to the Survivor Series event. and all batista has to do when he comes out during the introductions before the match is: daanan niya yung lugar kung saan nakaupo yung bata, and give Pyro a high five, or a kiss on the forehead. That's it.

Yan rin ang ginagawa ni WNBA basketball star Lisa Leslie before the start of every Sparks game.

Plaschke went to see Leslie play, and calls her one of the most influential athletes in Los Angeles history, in part because of this:

It happens before every Sparks game at Staples Center. It happens during the introductions.

Like every starter, Lisa Leslie runs to the center of the court and hands a basketball to a child from the stands.

But, unlike anyone else, she drops to one knee, hugs the child, and whispers into an ear.

"God bless you," she says. "Always give your best."

The child, usually nervous and wanting to run off, stops and listens. The parents of that child, expecting an athlete's apathy, stop and stare.

Memories happen. Photos happen. Maybe even a bit of inspiration happens.

Then, and only then, does Lisa Leslie play basketball.

Related:

- Pinoy hospitality tames ‘The Animal’
- Manila Standard Today: Who's afraid of Batista?
- Highlights and Photos of Batista's recent promotional tour in the Philippines

Friday, September 22, 2006

For a coup to succeed in the Philippines...

For a coup to succeed in thailand, it has to have the support and approval of the Thai King.

For a coup to succeed in the Philippines, it has to have the support and approval of the US.

It's as simple as that, IMO.

Short roundup for Sept. 22

Raul Pangalanan on the recent muzzling of the press in thailand:

The immediate test for the ruling junta’s commitment to democracy is not its promise to deliver power to handpicked civilians or to conduct elections soon. These promises are meaningless unless press freedom is respected. We can eternally calibrate the fine balance between democracy versus accountability, but there are no two ways about respecting civil liberties.

I found it amusing that the immediate reaction of Malacañang and of the Armed Forces of the Philippines was to disavow publicly any possibility of “copycat coups.” These denials do not amount to anything much -- if a coup will happen, it will happen -- but they have to be made, lest we all try to divine various meanings from their “sounds of silence.”

The Thai media regulations and the loud Philippine denials of “copycat coups” both show the power of a free press, and why, whether in Bangkok after the coup or in Manila after Proclamation 1017, muzzling the press was first on the agenda.


- An open letter from Rina Jimenez David to "Nicole."

IF Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier had thought that by depicting the Filipina complainant in the Subic rape case as a “professional” rather than an innocent victim he had succeeded in destroying her credibility, then he has another think coming.

In the first place, it is immaterial whether Nicole is, in street lingo, a “working girl” or just a tourist caught in a risky situation. If she did not consent to sex, or was too inebriated to have given her consent, then it was rape pure and simple. It matters not whether she had previous sexual experience, or even a genital infection, as a defense lawyer sneakily insinuated in his line of questioning.

Exactly. Read the whole thing.

- Neal Cruz: More Opposition mayors being targetted for suspension by Malacanang?

- Ellen Tordesillas has lots of interesting stuff today. go check her out.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo calls for "restoration of Thai Democracy."

Yay!.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thai King backs coup, confirms army chief into power

(UPDATE: Excellent coverage on the situation in Thailand from MLQ3.)

There you have it.

BANGKOK — Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday named army chief Gen Sondhi Boonyarataklin as the leader of an interim government after Tuesday’s coup.

The King, in a royal order, has confirmed Sondhi as leader of the Thai Political Reform Council, the armed forces group that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to a statement read by an anchor on the Army-controlled Channel 5 television channel.

The Thai Political Reform Council said earlier yesterday that it was in control of the southeast Asian country of 65-million people and declared allegiance to King Bhumibol.

Buh bye, Thaksin...

More here: King appoints coup commander

The Thai king has issued a royal command appointing General Sondhi Boonyaratglin (sohn TEE boon YA RAHT gah lin), as the president of an Administrative Reform Council. That council will take over the administration formerly led by Thanksin Shinawatra who arrived in Britain late on Tuesday.

The army commander who seized Thailand's government on Wednesday in a quick, bloodless coup pledged to hold elections by October 2007. He also hinted that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra may face prosecution.

General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin said the intervention and mission were in response to the wishes of the people. And that the military is a part of the people.

Sondhi said he would act as prime minister for two weeks until a new leader is found. And also that a new interim constitution would be drafted within that time. And that Thailand's foreign policy and international agreements would remain unchanged.

Sondhi Boonyaratklin, Army Chief General said, "As for who will be the next prime minister we are in the process of checking and selecting. We want someone who is neutral and loves the democratic system that has a king at the head of the state."

More: Thai king endorses authority of coup leader

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday endorsed a coup leader to head the new governing council, according to a televized announcement.

"In order to create peace in the country, the king appoints General Sonthi Boonyaratglin as head of the council of administrative reform," according to the announcement on state-run television.

"All people should remain peaceful and civil servants should listen to orders from General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin from now on."

The king's endorsement is widely seen as giving legitimacy to the new Council of Administrative Reform.

Sonthi led a takeover overnight without firing a shot, sending soldiers and tanks to guard major intersections and surround government buildings while the popularly elected Thaksin, accused of corruption and undermining democratic institutions, was abroad.

From Ellen Tordesillas: Coup jitters

I just came in from Cebu where I participated in the Cebu Press Freedom Week celebration. I’ll report about it later.

I woke up this morning to a CNN report about a coup in Thailand. Everybody I talked with in the Cebu forum remarked, “Nakakainggit naman ang Thailand.”

Malacañang and the military officials’ protestations that a similar coup won’t happen here betray their nervousness. As Shakespeare said, “The lady protests too much.”

When people start saying "nakaka-inggit ang thailand", it shows how disgusted many Filipinos are at this admin, and that they are willing to have a coup happen just to see Arroyo go.

More thoughts: I'd don't want a coup. i'd rather see her step down and call for special elections.

but the one thing I will never do is support or defend this corrupt and illegitimate government kung magkaroon ng coup.

I wish Arroyo would step down na, call for special elections, and end this national nightmare, but the longer she continues to cling to power, mas magiging malaking posibilidad ang coup.

And no, Cha cha or a shift to parliamentary will not prevent future people powers or coups.

UPDATE: From the Washington Post: Thai crowds jubilant after bloodless coup

BANGKOK, Thailand — Jubilant crowds in this sultry capital embraced Thailand's new military leadership on Wednesday, as Thais showered soldiers with flowers, posed for photo-ops with tanks and welcomed a bloodless coup that deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a day earlier.

Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin, the army chief who led the rebellion and who is now the acting prime minister, vowed an interim leader would be appointed within two weeks. But in an indication that the restoration of democracy is a long way off, he said elections would wait until October 2007, after the drafting of a new constitution.

For now, the military remains in control of a country that had become one of the strongest beacons of democracy in Southeast Asia. Provincial governors will be forced to report to four regional army commanders. To prevent any possible uprisings among Thaksin's supporters, based in the rural north and northeast, the provisional military authority banned political gatherings of five of more people. And some television and radio reports have been blocked or censored.

Despite the period of uncertainty, ushered in by a coup that was widely scorned by the United States and other foreign governments, many Thais in the capital appeared overjoyed.

"Democracy has won!" said an ecstatic Orathai Dechodomphan, 59, a tailor and Thaksin opponent who joined hundreds of people handing out roses to soldiers near the army headquarters. "Thaksin tried to steal power and did not respect our king. He never would have left on his own. What happened yesterday is our first step toward recovering a real democracy."

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was seen by many here as having effectively allowed Thaksin's removal, endorsed Sondhi, appointing him the official head of a new governing council charged with creating "peace in the country," according to an announcement televised nationally.

UPDATE: A huge majority of thais, 84%, support the coup

The coup makers argued that their actions were necessary to purge corrupt and undemocratic government leaders and officials. They all say that in the beginning. The jury is still out and the timeframe for the leaders to prove themselves is very narrow.

On the other hand, this coup is quite popular both in Bangkok and in the provinces. A survey conducted by Suan Dusit showed that the majority of Thais - 84 per cent - support the coup. Support was higher in the provinces at 86 per cent compared with 82 per cent in Bangkok.

It is interesting to note that 75 per cent believed that the political situation would improve, while 5 per cent thought it would get worse. The middle-class and elite in Bangkok and major cities mostly welcome the coup, seeing it as the sole option left to restore normalcy after months of political stalemate.

Their support must be viewed in the context that they accept the coup as a short-term means to deal with the political impasse, not as a long-term solution.

Between these two arguments, however, it is imperative to see this coup in a more calm and rational manner. His Majesty the King has given his tacit endorsement to Sonthi's leadership and integrity. When Uttaradit was flooded and suffered severe damage at the end of May, His Majesty spoke to Sonthi and asked the Army to provide immediate assistance. This footage was shown widely on evening TV programs.

His Majesty's support is crucial for two reasons. First, it helped consolidate Sonthi's position and win the support of the rank and file from various regions and headquarters. Moreover, it also helped prevent bloody clashes between rival military groups. On Tuesday evening, troops loyal to Class 10, headed by Thaksin's buddy Maj-General Prin Suwannathat, were still active and positioned in strategic spots on the outskirts of Bangkok. It is not wrong to say that without Royal support, troops commanded by Sonthi and Maj-General Anupong Phaochinda, commander of the First Army Region, would have encountered fierce resistance. The outcome would have been uncertain.

Dangerous Relativism

Marcos and Ninoy, walang pinag-iba sa kanila, according to MLQ3's guest "explainee", an 18-yr. old student from La Salle.

THE other day, my “explainee” on “The Explainer” was a young student leader from De La Salle University. He’s been giving his elders high blood pressure because of his unorthodox views. Since he’s only 18, I asked him how much of his thinking was his own, and how much was influenced by his teachers. He said that his grade school and high school history lessons were about how bad Ferdinand Marcos was; but in college things were different. He spoke highly of a history professor who, he said, was unorthodox in that he simply provided the facts, and then allowed his students to reach their own conclusions.

What the young student believes he said clearly and nicely enough when he appeared on ANC on Ninoy Aquino’s death anniversary. He argued that as far as he was concerned, there was no difference between Marcos and his nemesis, Ninoy Aquino but, as he himself told me, on the whole, Marcos at least did a lot for the country. “He built the most infrastructure,” he said. He suggested that as long as a president builds roads and bridges and creates jobs and provides health services, that is enough to make him great -- as he seems to think Marcos in retrospect was. And besides, who says Marcos had Ninoy killed? he asked.

Cory Aquino apparently felt concerned over what the young student felt, and reached out for some sort of dialogue to help convince him of the error of his ways. “My parents were nervous,” upon hearing that, he said. “After all, she is a Cojuangco.”

This, perhaps, was the most surprising statement of all: That his parents couldn’t see beyond Ms Aquino’s family affiliation, or even consider that she represented something more important than what seems to be their view of the Cojuangcos as being rather thuggish. That the student couldn’t see beyond infrastructure or the reasons Ninoy, despite the suspicions and even hostility felt by some toward him, could overcome them and become a hero for a generation of Filipinos, becomes more understandable in that light.

Maybe yan ang dahilan kung bakit natin pinaguusapan ngayon ang Restoration ng mga Marcoses sa mata ng publiko. Eto pa sabi ni Kuya Manuel:

The student’s views should provide an opportunity for sober and critical reflection by the De La Salle brothers whom I hold in the highest esteem, beginning with DLSU president Brother Armin Luistro and the provincial, Brother Dodo Fernandez, who are sincere patriots and willing to take DLSU in a direction more in keeping with St. John Baptist La Salle’s obsession with serving the poor (the traditional, upper-class identity of La Salle in the Philippines is miles apart from the norm among Christian Brothers schools). Poor Brother Armin has embraced the 21st century but his faculty are indoctrinating his students with a kind of seductive, and highly dangerous, relativism.

I happen to think that if an honest and objective enumeration of facts was really provided, students like that young man, never – ever -- could he or anyone else argue that Marcos and Ninoy weren’t very different and that, in the end, infrastructure puts Marcos over Ninoy. If that were so, Italians would still be pining for the Fascist era when trains ran on time, and the autobahns and Volkswagens of Germany should continue to proudly bear the swastika. It is no coincidence that a euphemism for a kind of torture during the Marcos era, was taken from the San Juanico Bridge, Ferdinand’s anniversary present for Imelda.

You have to wonder what kind of facts were presented that leave students blind and unmoved to the imprisonment of political enemies, and the evolution, intellectually, and even spiritually, of those who were detained in the New Society’s jails. But then, as Lagman eloquently pointed out, even Marcos’ victims pay him homage when they commemorate martial law on September 21. The arrests took place on September 23. Marcos chose a fictitious date, because of numerology, and eventually, to commemorate his acquittal for the Nalundasan murder on September 21, 1939.

Read this too from Conrad de Quiros.

Alam nyo, pinag-iisipan ko itong article ni MLQ3 about the Marcos Restoration.

Is it possible na makuha na ni Imelda ang pinapangarap niyang "Hero's Burial" para kay Makoy? Imelda and Bongbong tried it for a second time nung 2005. Maybe if GLORIAGATE never happened, natuloy na sana yan.

Sa akin naman, I'm against giving Marcos a Libingan burial because I don't think he belongs there. And I hope future presidents (after erap and GMA) won't even consider the idea -- not unless you want to start your presidency on an extremely divisive issue.

The only way I see Imelda can fulfill her dreams is if one of her Children manages to win the presidency. Siguro kung presidente ka na, magagawa mo yan.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pork Busters!

I've been critical of Sassy Lawyer before and I disagree with her on most issues. But I think she's right about this.

Scrap the pork barrels.

Money quote:

So, our dear legislators will be receiving their pork barrel allocations in full this year. And, based on a report in The Philippine Star last week, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye announced that it was only reasonable considering that 2007 is an election year. I couldn’t quite decide whether it was a Freudian slip or a manifestation of the face of today’s politics. Was it an unintended disclosure or have politicians finally decided to admit, once and for all, the nature of pork barrel funds?

Heh. Buking sila ano?

Minor error. Si joey salceda ang nagbigay ng comment na yon, hindi si bunye.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House committee on appropriations, told reporters yesterday that his panel would restore pork barrel funds for next year to P70 million for congressmen and P200 million for senators.

He was commenting on the clarification made by Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. that under President Arroyo’s proposed P1.136-trillion budget for next year, House members would each have P40 million only, and not P70 million as Salceda claimed last Friday.

Malacañang cut the lawmakers’ allocations to P40 million for House members and P120 million for senators two years ago due to the financial difficulties the nation was then facing.

Two years ago, may bawas sa pork barrel raw and that's nice to hear. But if you read the whole article and dig deeper, you'll notice na ang opposition lang talaga ang may bawas sa pork barrel nila.

Salceda said while pork barrel allocations were reduced two years ago, pro-administration congressmen have actually been receiving an additional P30 million from the Palace, bringing their annual pork barrel funds to a total of P70 million.

He said the restoration of such funds to their original levels "is reasonable, since next year is an election year."

Actually, the pro-Arroyo congressment are receiving P75 mil in pork, and the opposition gets P40 mil. From Malaya:

AN opposition congressman yesterday said Malacañang has already released P7 million worth of dole-outs for majority congressmen in exchange for their votes against the second impeachment complaint against President Arroyo, which the House minority bloc would file next month.

Rep. Rolex Suplico (LDP, Iloilo) said the administration has dangled P5 million worth of "soft" projects which is part of their pork barrel funds, P1 million in scholarships from the Commission on Higher Education, and another P1 million each as their share in the road users’ tax.

"This early, the administration has started buying support of majority congressmen. We condemn the use of pork to kill the impeach complaint," he said.

Suplico said that in Region 6, he was the only congressman who was not allocated the same releases for being a member of the opposition.

Suplico has said that congressmen who voted against the impeachment last year were allocated P35 million more worth of pork barrel funds.

From P70 million per congressman in 2004, the congressional pork barrel went down to P40 million in 2005 because of the fiscal crisis and yet, Suplico said, "those who voted to kill the impeachment, including the famous `Palakpak Boys,’ got additional releases."

These releases are composed of P20 million from the DPWH, P10 million from the road user’s tax and another P5 million from the DPWH as "Christmas bonus."

no wonder a few opposition congressmen absented themselves or failed to vote for impeachment last year and this year.

Previous posts:

- Campaign Issues for the 2007 elections
- Abolish Pork barrel politics
- Who's more believable when they call for the people to sacrifice?

Parliamentary system will prevent future People Power or Coups... NOT!

It did not prevent "people power" attempts against corrupt and cheating governments in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, and they all have Parliamentary gov'ts.

People from thailand too tried to oust Thai Prime Minister Thaksin via "People power" kahit na may parliamentary gov't sila. But still Thaksin remains in power. And now, thailand is experiencing a coup.

Money quote from Jon Mariano:

In a slant to this issue applicable to the Philippines is that Thailand is using the Parliamentary form of government. How come they still have leadership problems? Once more, this is proof that a constitutional change in the Philippines is no magic bullet that will solve our national problems.

Whoever is fighting tooth and nail for this cha-cha movement to succeed is selling us a bottle of snake oil. Sold like a panacea to all ills, but really just another con.


UPDATE: Japan, Australia and New Zealand strongly denounced the coup in Thailand.

The US response?

"It's really too early to form any hardened judgments," Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told The Associated Press in Washington. U.S. State Department said officials "are monitoring the situation with concern."

And I also hope the US would not quickly form any hardened judgments in our situation if there's a people power attempt to against arroyo.

UPDATE: From Ducky Paredes from Aug 15, 2006:

Mr. John says: "Charter change is a good thing. You can change presidents without a revolution." Yes, that would be a blessing and, perhaps, we would also finally forget People Power, which, no matter how one looks at it, cannot be a democratic institution since it has to be in violation of whatever system of government we may have – whether presidential or parliamentary. Of course, as Gokongwei points out, in a parliamentary system, there is really no need for People Power or revolution since we would be able to change our head of government by a simple majority vote of parliament.

Mr. John points out that the parliamentary system in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan is working well, thank you. In contrast, "I think we’re the only country that followed the American system," said Gokongwei.

Tell that to the Thais, Ducky.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Unprotected and easier targets

From Ernie Maceda:

Kill the enemy. The murder of Pablito Glean, the chief close-in security of Mayor Jejomar “Jojo” Binay at a Shell station at the Fort in broad daylight is consistent with the pattern of extra- judicial killings of “enemies of the state” that has been the rule the last two years. Sources say “Task Force Spider” has been formed against political opponents of GMA.

Concurrently, security personnel assigned to opposition leaders former President Corazon Aquino, House Minority Leader Francis Escudero and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano have been recalled. After pulling out the Marines at the Senate, the Philippine National Police now wants to pull out its contingent from the Senate.

One cannot help but suspect that this is part of a plan to leave opposition leaders unprotected and become easier targets.

Maybe.

"We are ready for war." - MILF

From the inq7.net:

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao -- Disappointed by the standoff in the recent talks on ancestral domain issue, the Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF) said it was ready for war.

Mohadger Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, in a press briefing here Tuesday said they were prepared for war if the issue on ancestral domain would remain unresolved.

Iqbal said they were technically still at war with the government because the problem of Bangsamoro in Mindanao remains unsolved.

"We can afford to go to war. Especially now the government is in a hurry and it is setting aside what we have agreed before," Iqbal pointed out.

Iqbal said as a revolutionary organization, they were always reminding their troops to be ready at all times.

"The government is duplicating what they did with the Moro National Liberation Front. Instead of addressing the root cause of the problem, they are on parallel negotiations," Iqbal said.

Oh shit.

UPDATE: More talk re "Independent Mindanao" from another group not affiliated with the MILF.

Disingenuous and Hypocritical

From MLQ3:

Bong Austero says the Senate is digging its own grave. He makes a good point about the chamber abusing its powers to compel testimony and hold people in contempt. But what he doesn’t delve into, is how the Senate has its back to the wall. No administration since Quirino, Macapagal, and Marcos has been so hostile to the Senate. But it is a sign of the low quality of the present senate, that it’s instincts are to lash out instead of subtly matching wits.

(I'll answer MLQ3 first. I disagree, kuya Manuel. Bakit, maganda ba ang "quality" ng Senate during Cory, Ramos, Erap, and GMA's first term as president? O hindi kaya ang tunay na dahilan kung bakit may crisis ngayon between the executive and the senate ay dahil nag-iba na ang equation? A little issue called "legitimacy" on Arroyo's part? ;) Kaya puro complaints re "gridlock" (read:stonewalling) at ang pag invoke ng EO 464 (read:coverup) na lang ang nakikita natin.)

Well, bong's only good most of the time when he's attacking the admin's critics, or defending Arroyo's legitimacy.

yung tungkol sa Senate, he says the senate is "abusing" it's powers to force people to testify and hold them in contempt.

Pero tahimik lang Bong when his president, her evasive officials and military members use EO 464 and M.C. 168 to evade accountability, stonewall and avoid transparency. nothing here either but snarky attacks against the senate.

Which to me seems very disingenous and hypocritical of him.

You know what bong, let's abolish the senate na lang para wala nang "gridlock", okay?

(More on EO 464 and MC 168 from Ducky Paredes.)

The PCGG itself is using EO 1 to avoid testifying and to be not held accountable on possible corruption and gross mismanagement issues. Sabi sa Inquirer Editorial:

The EO, issued in February 1986, says in part: "No member or staff of the commission shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters within its official cognizance." This extraordinary privilege, which virtually made the PCGG accountable to no one except the President, was intended to give the commission a free hand in going after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies. But Sen. Joker Arroyo, who was Aquino's executive secretary, said this particular provision of the EO was "effectively repealed" by the 1987 Constitution, specifically by the provisions giving Congress the authority to conduct investigations in aid of legislation.

Sabio and his commissioners adamantly maintain that the Aquino EO remains in effect and that it allows them to keep the Senate from looking into the PCGG's affairs. Earlier, they refused to reveal the details of negotiations between the PCGG and businessman Eduardo Cojuangco regarding the shares of stock in San Miguel Corp. purchased with funds taken from the coconut levy during the Ferdinand Marcos era. And they stuck to this position even when the senators punished them for their defiance by threatening not to appropriate anything for the PCGG's operations.

With the PCGG and the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration challenging the authority of the Senate to make the PCGG officials testify, the Supreme Court will have to resolve the issue. But right off it seems inconceivable that the Court would uphold an EO over the fundamental law. The 1987 Constitution clearly confers on Congress the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. And even when that power was not expressly provided in the Charter, such as in the 1935 Constitution, the Court declared that Congress' "power of inquiry -- with process to enforce it -- is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function."

More on Sabio vs. Senate from Fr. Bernas:

The Supreme Court in its deliberations will have to place the text and background of the immunity provision of EO 1 side by side with these constitutional provisions relied upon by the Senate to determine whether they are incompatible. Sabio, however, insists that under EO 1, he is answerable exclusively to the President. Translated, his claim means that he is above everyone except the President. Marvelous indeed!

So far the matter of “executive privilege” has not come up. Executive privilege was the armor President Macapagal-Arroyo donned when she issued EO 464. I would not be surprised if it should come up as Sabio’s fall-back position. The Supreme Court had a lot to say about executive privilege in its decision striking down the gag order in EO 464. The Court’s position is that, in the ultimate analysis, it is the Court that decides whether a matter is or is not of executive privilege. Meanwhile, Malacañang continues to prevent executive officials from appearing in investigations.

Read the whole thing.

So while we have Austero and people like the Ducky Paredes who want to see the Senate abolished on one side, we have others like JB Baylon and Fr. Bernas on the other side who sees what the admin and their allies are doing and are speaking out about it.

Sabi ni Baylon:

The Constitution sets up a system of government whereby power is divided between an Executive, Legislative and Judicial branch, and power within the Legislative is divided further between an upper and a lower chamber. When one branch of government – in this case, the Executive – refuses to cooperate with another branch in the latter’s exercise of its functions, you effectively have one branch of government serving to undermine another, if not in fact undermine the whole Constitutional framework.

Of course, critics of the Senate will argue that it is in fact the Senate, in its exercise of its functions, that is effectively undermining another branch (the Executive) and in fact the whole Constitutional framework. The investigations the Senate conducts, the critics continue, are really not legislation-related, but are resorted to by political opponents of the president who could not get at her any other way.

But is this the case?

In the investigation into the fertilizer fund scam, for example, was the Senate doing this as a matter of political vendetta, or to get to the bottom of the situation which had an alleged connection to the contested 2004 elections? And when the prime suspect in the fund scam disappeared – only to reappear in the United States – was it the Senate that was hindering progress or hindering the achievement of good government, or was it the Executive branch?

Similarly, in the impeachment process, was the Senate a hindrance to progress and to the achievement of good government? Or was the nature of the lower house a guarantee that this president would not have to be made accountable to allegations that the 2004 elections were characterized by systematic cheating? The Senate, we must remember, was to act as the court before which the case against the President was to be tried; but before it could get to the upper chamber, the lower house had to act as the fiscal and determine in the first place whether a case actually existed.

While the general public believed a case did exist, the lower house on two separate occasions disagreed. Was good government advanced? And would good government be advanced if only the House survives as the legislature?

I really suspect that there exists some orchestrated effort to get the Philippine Senate, as part and parcel of the effort to get our Constitution changed and a unicameral legislature established. I hope I am wrong, but given all that I see, read and hear, how can I come to a different conclusion?

Yeah, I suspect that too JB. Isn't that what Arroyo's defenders and CHA CHA boys are selling these days? The abolition of the Senate?

Sabi ni Neal Cruz, yung PCGG raw ang dapat i-abolish dahil naging useless na ito, and I agree with him.

Money quote:

After 20 years of sequestration, what has the PCGG recovered in court suits? All the funds turned over to the government were surrendered by the Marcos cronies, not recovered in court suits. The Marcos ill-gotten wealth from Swiss banks was recovered with the help of the Swiss government and the banks themselves, not through the efforts of the PCGG. But before the “recovered” wealth could benefit human rights victims and agrarian reform farmers, much of it was already gone—where to, nobody knows.

After 20 years, almost all the hundreds of cases against Imelda Marcos that are being prosecuted by PCGG lawyers have been dismissed. She has been convicted in only one, and it is not being enforced. Instead, Abcede, who is supposed to lead the charge against the Marcoses, was filmed dancing with Imelda herself, having a grand time with the accused. Only in the Philippines.

This is the same Abcede who has proposed a compromise (with the Marcoses) in which part of the loot would be returned to the Marcoses and all criminal charges against them dismissed. Worse, even without such a compromise, the rest of the charges still pending against Imelda are in danger of also being dismissed.

In this situation, what do we need the PCGG for? Through the years, it has proven itself not only to be useless but also to be another source of corruption. It is all commissions, and no good government. The sooner it is abolished, the more money we save for the taxpayers. The PCGG-initiated cases still pending can be turned over to the Department of Justice for further prosecution. And we will be rid of Sabio and Abcede.

Especially Ricardo Abcede. He's nothing more than a partisan hack for this administration.

UPDATE: MLQ3 gives a lenghthly reply to rego re PCGG and the Senate's powers that you should read.

UPDATE: From Bong Austero:

It was very disconcerting to watch supposed paragons of virtue publicly humiliating a public official who was, in the first place, virtually dragged into the room kicking and screaming. That the subject of the senatorial ire was a 70-year-old head of a government commission suffering from hypertension made the senators look even more menacing and cruel. It is possible that he is guilty of incompetence or corruption, but that doesn’t strip him of his right to be treated with courtesy.

Arroyo appointee and PCGG commissioner Camilo Sabio, like most Arroyo cabinet officials and military people, refused to attend hearings to testify and answer questions relating to their work, especially re anomalies and possible corruption issues in their departments.

From the Malaya:

A DEBATE on a two-decade-old executive order issued during the revolutionary government of President Corazon Aquino resulted yesterday in a shouting match between Sen. Richard Gordon and Camilo Sabio, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government who has been under Senate detention since Tuesday.

Sabio appeared at the resumption of the Senate investigation on the reported anomalous losses of the Philippine Holdings Corp. (PHC) but remained defiant and refused to answer questions from senators.

Read the whole thing. I'm effin' glad somebody from the Senate finally GOT ANGRY about the snubbing of hearings and the evasiveness that Arroyo officials have been displaying since GLORIAGATE came out last year.

And this is not the first time an Arroyo official refused to answer questions and claimed to be sick.

Remember Norberto Gonzalez?

As for Gonzales, he is still in contempt of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Joker Arroyo for refusing to answer questions on the Venable contract that he signed. First, he feigned illness so that he would be confined at the Heart Center instead of in the Senate; then he asked for a "medical leave" so that he would be set free temporarily while still undecided on having a "heart bypass operation." Then he returned to work at the National Security Office without answering the senators' questions on the Venable contract. And the contempt citation and the questions were forgotten by the senators, especially Senator Arroyo, as though they were suddenly stricken with amnesia. Not a peep out of them.

More on Norberto Gonzalez and the secret Venable deal from PCIJ.

From Ducky Paredes: Norberto Gonzalez outsmarted the senate:

Now that national security adviser Bert Gonzales has returned to work, when will the Senate again take him into custody? It is clear that no heart surgery was performed on Bert in Sweden or elsewhere. Remember that the reason why the Senate ostensibly let him off from its custody was because of medical reasons. Bert needed surgery and the Senate would not get in the way of a necessary medical procedure.

Isn’t it clear that Malacañang and Bert only bamboozled the Senate into letting Bert go? What we want to know is this: What will the Senate do about this? The Senators are being played for fools? Or, has there been, again, some huge pay-off? If the Senate will not do anything to assert itself, then, perhaps, Malacañang is right that the Senate ought to be scuttled.

More from Austero, who quotes commenter Domingo Arong:

Domingo Rayon, a regular reader of my blog, posted a lengthy riposte to my rant, which provides an important context to the whole imbroglio. He said that Sabio’s arrest and detention was eerily reminiscent of the McCarthy era in the United States and quoted Edward Murrow’s famous warning: “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.”

Ever heard of the phrase "the coverup is worse than the crime itself"? Sa Watergate era naman yan.

Yes, there are concerns about corruption and gross mismanagement sa PCGG, pero kaya nga may imbestigasyon eh, para malaman ang katotohanan. But Sabio refused to answer questions and seems intent on doing an Iggy Arroyo in the Pidal case.

re the similarities and differences between McCarthy and Sabio's case, eto sabi ni MLQ3:

first, the power of the us senate was there; what was questioned was whether the power was being abused and used for undemocratic ends; the solution was remedial legislation.

if the us senate analogy is to be used, then the solution is also remedial legislation. but until the powers are removed by law, the powers remain to be used.

second, for what purpose were the witch hunts of mccarthy? to hunt out suspected communists, while from what i know, it was not declared unlawful to be a communist -merely considered unamerican. hence one problem.

for what purpose has sabio been called to testify? to inquire as to whether one of his commissioners has abused his privileges as a director of a corporation with sequestered shares. from what i know, in the past, pcgg commissioners sitting in sequestered companies gave their allowances to the government; under the present pcgg, the commissioners get to keep them: one figure i’ve heard bruited about is that with multiple directorships, pcgg commissioners now make something like 300k a month. this is certainly grounds for inquiry -after all, appointed by the president, you can’t expect the president to investigate her own appointees. the specific commissioner whose actions provoked the inquiry is comm. abcede. sabio is merely taking the bullet for him.

on principle, you say? but there is the precedent of pcgg chairman haydee yorac. when summoned by the senate, she didn’t hide behind her interpretation of the law. she went to the senate, and told them, if you have doubts about pcgg commissioners, then you have to look at the appointing authority, because after all, the pcgg chairman doesn’t appoint -and cannot remove- her fellow commissioners. only the president can. even a hostile senate had to agree with her (specifically, sen. enrile, who is causing trouble for the pcgg now, obviously for reasons of his own). now enrile is many things, but a dumb lawyer he’s not. he knows he has precedent to stand on.

what is the pcgg defending? it’s independence? to do what? be free from any and all scrutiny? and what if remedial legislation is required -such as, a law closing the loophole enjoyed by present commissioners, a loophole that didn’t exist before because previous commissioners didn’t think it proper to pocket per diems and perks that would be ok for any other appointee to receive, but which they cannot, by virtue of their being commissioners?

More: 8 cops who served the Senate arrest warrant on PCGG commissioners suspended by PNP.

The Tribune editorial comments:

The suspension of the eight policemen, who are with the PNP’s Special Forces, was obviously a message to the Senate from Malacañang, which is for the chamber to stop arresting Arroyo executives on contempt charges or else, there will be no cooperation from the police force to effect any and all orders issued by the Senate. More action will moreover be taken by Malacañang if such moves continued, such as pulling out all security forces from the Senate.

UPDATE: More on Abcede and the PCGG from Dean Jorge Bocobo.

I'd like to see more anti-Arroyo documentaries or films

Sa pagkakaalam ko, yung documentary lang ni Erap (na nabigyan ng XXX rated) ang may pagka-Anti Arroyo, pero banned siya na ipalabas sa theaters o sa tv. I think that's wrong.

I have no problems with showing erap's docu, but I wish somebody else would make an anti-Arroyo documentary that doesn't involve Erap as a leading figure or bida. Besides, I think an anti-Arroyo docu is more effective if it's also anti-Erap or Marcos.

The main problem that I can see for directors who want to make an anti-Arroyo docu (ala Fahrenheit 911) is that baka ma-harass kayo ng gobierno o ma-ban ang film nyo.

Gov't prosecutor calls "Nicole" an "ingrate" and "crazy"

From the Manila Standard Today:

THE mother of the woman who accuse four US marines of rape insisted yesterday that government prosecutors were deliberately trying to lose the case after she failed to have them replaced.

The mother tore into Senior State Prosecutor Emelie Fe de los Santos for calling her and her daughter—identified only as Nicole—ingrates.

Last week, mother and daughter walked out of the courtroom to protest against what they called the “ineptitude” of state prosecutors and asked the Department of Justice to replace them.

But Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez denied the request, saying their accusations had no basis and doing so would delay the trial.

De los Santos, who heads the five-member prosecution team, called Nicole and her mother “ungrateful” and “crazy” following their claim that the public prosecutors had asked them as early as July to withdraw their rape complaint and to accept a settlement.

More from Malaya:

JUSTICE Secretary Raul Gonzalez yesterday rejected the request of "Nicole," the alleged Subic rape victim, and her mother to replace four of the five-man prosecution team for their supposed incompetence.

The head of the panel said Nicole and her mother were "ingrates" for not appreciating the prosecutors’ services.

Gonzalez, in a memorandum to the panel, said: "You are directed to remain as panel of prosecutors in the above-captioned case and continue to represent the People of the Philippines ... As such, your panel shall remain in control of the entire criminal proceedings."

The four are Senior State Prosecutor Emelie Fe delos Santos and State Prosecutors Noli Quiambao, Elizabeth Berdal and Lagrimas Agaran.

Only Hazel Valdez was asked to be retained.

UPDATE: Read this too from Rina Jimenez David.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Will Arroyo step down after 2010?

Sabi ni Randy david, Arroyo will not step down after 2010, just like marcos refused to relinquish his power until he was forced out by edsa 1986.

Ito ang sinabi niya kay Marcos:

Doubtless, Marcos desired nothing less than to rule indefinitely. But even his most strident critics would concede that he had a clear vision for the country, although they staunchly opposed it. Apart from the corruption, which he centralized, the actions that Marcos took in the first few years of authoritarian rule showed that he had thought about the nation’s problems thoroughly. He filled his Cabinet with credible technocrats, issued decrees that reorganized the economy, and drew a long-term path for sustained economic growth.

In his long years as a professional politician, Marcos had gained an insight into the general predisposition of Filipinos—that they did not care enough about liberty to risk their lives defending it. For him, civil liberties and political rights had become so meaningless to most Filipinos because of their poverty that they would exchange them anytime for the promise of food and jobs. That many people went underground to fight his regime shows that he was wrong, but the fact that he lasted more than 13 years as a dictator suggests that he wasn’t entirely wrong. Had Marcos succeeded in turning the Philippine economy around and improving the economic situation of the average Filipino, it would have been impossible to overthrow him.

Ito naman ang sinabi niya kay Arroyo:

In any event, whichever method is adopted, so long as the public’s attention is drawn to Charter change rather than to regime change, Ms Arroyo is assured of staying in the presidency until 2010. By that time, she will have completed nine years in the presidency—not a mean feat for someone who has never been properly elected to the position. The question, however, is: Will she relinquish power in 2010 and fade gracefully into private life?

My guess is that she will not. Ms Arroyo, who has violated every norm of civilized politics during her presidency, will be hard-pressed to keep herself in power for as long as she can, if only to stay out of jail. I do not believe anyone can spit on the basic rights and freedoms of a nation, and wreck its cherished institutions, and expect to get away with it. Not Marcos, not Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I disagree with Randy. It all depends of course if Arroyo is able to make the life of ordinary Filipinos much better and improve his economic situation by 2010. Kung nagawa niya yan, she may step down after 2010, because many people may be more inclined to "forgive" her and "move on". And she doesn't have to worry about going to jail because by that time, lahat na ng SC court justices ay mga appointees niya, and they'll protect her.

But if ordinary filipinos continue to leave the country in droves dahil sa hirap ng buhay dito sa pilipinas, where the only jobs available are call centers and the incomes of most filipinos are still very low, where the only business na kumikita ay ang pagbenta ng cellphone cards o pirated dvds, where poor filipinos are getting poorer, and the middle class is shrinking because marami sa kanila'y naging poor na, then she may continue to stay in power to continue her "unfinished work" of "building" and "reforming" our country.

"I hope she's not imagining again."

- DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez, on "Nicole."

Here's the latest on "Nicole" from Rina Jimenez David:

IN AN EMOTIONAL meeting with reporters covering the trial, Nicole’s mother accused the prosecution team of “toying” with them. She observed how the relatively junior prosecutor Nolibien Quiambao did little more than reiterate certain points in the testimony of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith during the “cross.” At one point, Judge Benjamin Pozon, who would certainly know more about courtroom procedures than the average observer, was even constrained to ask Quiambao: “Are you conducting a cross?”

At this point, recounts someone who was in the courtroom, “Nicole was in tears and (her mother) was very upset,” and both prevailed upon Nicole’s private lawyer Evalyn Ursua to approach the judge and request if she could ask further questions. This expectedly drew “protests and jeers” from the defense panel, but the lead prosecutor was of no help at all, showing by her body language that she was irked. She then requested a recess and agreed to pass on Ursua’s questions to Quiambao who, of course, botched those questions, too.

Two days later, when a defense state witness was scheduled to testify, the overwhelming forces ranged against Nicole seemed painfully obvious. The defense panel, which has tripled in number since the start of the trial, was present in full force, while there was only one prosecutor present, with even Ursua, who had indicated she would not be present because she wasn’t feeling well, absent.

It was at this point that Nicole and her mother, along with some supporters, decided to walk out of the courtroom and proceeded to the Department of Justice to submit a request to have the members of the prosecution panel, save for one, replaced. As Nicole told reporters in a press conference: “Napuno na kami.” (We’ve had it up to here.)

* * *

PERHAPS it shouldn’t surprise us anymore that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, looking as if he had swallowed a stale fish ball, told the media that not only was he “standing by” his prosecutors (a laudable stance, actually), he also doubted Nicole’s perception of things. “I hope she is not imagining again,” he remarked, implying that Nicole had also “imagined” the rape.

Actually, the perception that the government appears bent on winning acquittal for the four Marines stems not so much from the performance of the prosecutors assigned to the case as from the public utterances of our justice secretary.

Even before the case went to trial, Gonzalez had said he wanted the charges against three of the four accused to be downgraded, but that he felt constrained to include them in the rape charge to “appease the mob.” And as a report in this paper noted: “From the start, Gonzalez had expressed disbelief of Nicole’s claim of rape. At one point, he even told reporters that she might withdraw her complaint against the four US Marines.”

Eto pa:

I am puzzled, for instance, at what observers report as the DOJ team’s “hostility” toward Ursua, who is lawyering for Nicole for free. The prosecutors have accused her of being “militant,” and of masterminding Nicole’s walk-out and complaint to the DOJ. But what’s wrong with being a “militant” lawyer, if it means adding commitment and understanding of feminist issues to the preparation of the case? The Supreme Court, after all, is even now promoting “gender fairness” in the training of judges and prosecutors.

But all these hurt feelings are nothing compared to what Nicole and her family must be feeling now. Nicole has opened the details of her life and her behavior to public scrutiny in a quest to win justice for herself—and for all other Filipino women. There is no clear “victory” for the rape survivor who goes public with her charges—the trauma and the scrutiny will continue well into the future. But it would be a national shame if defeat in the courtroom comes as a result not of a clear resolution of “guilt” or “innocence,” but of political accommodation.

I have no problems with "militant" lawyers, as long as they do a good job for their clients and have their trust, which I can't say for SiRAULo's prosecutors.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

How to steal an election using an automated voting machine

From Gizmodo:

Some Princeton researchers made a demonstration video of how it's possible to steal an election with a Diebold voting machine in under a minute. Anyone with physical access to the machine can put in malicious software to steal votes—such as election workers who have unsupervised access to the machines before elections. All they have to do is open up the machine with a key (or pick the lock), remove the old memory card, stick in your own memory card, boot the machine, and it automatically installs any software that was on the memory card.

At the end of the demonstration election, the poll machine prints out the incorrect "stolen election" result. The internal memory card also stores in the incorrect result. Every piece of evidence of how the election actually went reflects the "wrong" result. And, after the election is over, the vote stealing software can delete itself. There's no evidence left that the vote has been conducted incorrectly.

Like I said before, I'm not worried about hackers from the outside trying to manipulate the election results. What I'm worried more about are dagdag bawas INSIDERS who have unsupervised access to the machines.

Image

Sabi ni David Bear, Diebold Spokesperson back in May 12, 2006:

David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold Election Systems, said the potential risk existed because the company’s technicians had intentionally built the machines in such a way that election officials would be able to update their systems in years ahead.

“For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software,” he said. “I don’t believe these evil elections people exist.”

Maybe you haven't been to our country, Mr. Bear.

Sabi ni Instapundit:

While I think that most of the "stolen election" claims are a mix of sour grapes and conspiracy theory, I think that we'd be much better off going to a more secure voting method, in order to forestall such corrosive charges. This isn't perfect, as there are other ways to steal an election, but it can't hurt.

It may be easier and faster to count the votes using automated, but it's also easier to rig elections from the inside without getting caught if the administration is determined to do it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Running for Senator? Or Mayor?

From Lito Banayo:

Ping Lacson has been making the rounds in Manila. He has thus far gathered sectoral representatives from four districts, conducting what is billed as "Konsultahang Bayan". He is now working on Districts 5 and 6 which he expects to finish in the next two weeks.

For almost a year, without fanfare and often by himself, he has been observing the conduct of commerce in the nation’s capital, and touching base with some of its long-time residents who yearn for the "good old days" when someone whose surname Ping bears was at the helm of the city. He and his staff have been doing research on the city’s problems, its resources and strengths, and the recent changes wrought by three-term mayor Lito Atienza.

He seems interested, eh? Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Hard to believe he was able to do it, but it's true:

Before Lacson became PNP chief, SWS rated the police as the most discredited government agency, with a net negative 13 survey finding. In a year, that image was reversed, and the PNP was the most acceptable, the most trusted agency of government, with an all-time high of positive 54. Only one in ten Filipinos still distrusted his policeman. Never had the peace-and-order badge shone as bright. And alas, after Lacson, after Edsa Dos, that badge has regressively dimmed in luster.

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- Interesting Manila Mayor's race in 2007