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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Japanese Nationalism, The Envy of All

by Erick San Juan

“I fought this campaign vowing to resist the base, I intend to keep that promise as we move forward.” A strong statement made by newly elected Mayor of the Okinawan city of Nago in Japan – Mayor Susumu Inamine. He ran as an independent (and won) backed by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s current Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The issue at hand is the relocation of the US Marine air field station from Futenma to the coastal city of Nago by 2014. The said relocation was agreed upon by Japan and the US in 2006 under the previous government that lost power last year to the current Prime Minister Hatoyama who promised a less submissive stand towards the United States. PM Hatoyama also assured the reassessment of the 2006 agreement whether to move the Marine air station as planned or move the base to another site, either on or off the island. Although Hatoyama affirmed the US that they will come out with their decision by May this year.

Actually before the Nago election, Hatoyama is already considering the re-examination of the 2006 pact with Washington. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, last month, informed her counterpart to go ahead with the plan and remind Tokyo of its “commitment” to the relocation.
In November of last year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates commented that the agreement is non-negotiable meaning Washington will push through with the relocation, no matter what.

We can see here on how the US top brass officials intimidate Japan in the midst of the clamor of the residents of Okinawa and the Japanese in general to oppose the presence of the new US base in the region. But importantly, Japan’s resistance to this intimidation only shows their nationalism at work even if it put the US-Japan alliance at risk. Much more, the consequences that goes with it. I am referring to the top two carmakers in Japan – Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. which are currently recalling thousands of different car models and mini vans in the US, China and Europe allegedly because of several faulty features like air bags and brake pedals among others. Is this just a coincidence? Why only now?

The present policy of Japan as America’s key ally since the end of World War II, seems to have change into “deal with caution”. In this part of the region, where the US is intensifying it’s military presence due to the reported “threat” from North Korea and the military build up of China,it reminds me of the similar situation we are in today. The victory of Mayor Inamine seems to serve as the litmus test for the retention of the US base in Japan. The outcome of our country’s upcoming national elections will surely put to test the foreign policies the new administration will implement. Whoever wins and whatever policies that will be agreed in the future, our nation must learn from the Japanese kind of nationalism. The other day, one of my daily radio listener’s questioned me on the outcome of the Senate’s renegotiation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US. The last time we heard of it was during the approval of the Senate resolution on VFA’s renegotiation or its abrogation which Malacanang assigned to the VFA Commission. The outcome of the Commission’s study was overtaken by several events. The bottom line is, we don’t have the guts and nationalism as the Japanese have for the protection of its citizenry and the country’s sovereignty.
The VFA question is just among the many foreign policies that our leaders must review and be cautious to decide. If not, we will always be at the losing end. One example is the Balikatan joint military exercises which is more favorable to the Americans than to us, and sadly we even spend for it. We must be firm to negotiate. Our counterpart should be truthful with their dealings and should give us what’s due us.

I hope and pray that our new set of leaders will – at least get some inspiration from the Japanese nationalism and boost our national pride as a great Filipino race.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Money, Magic and Math

by Dean De la Paz
from Filipino Voices

http://filipinovoices.com/money-magic-and-math

Three had gotten on stage and together chorused misgivings on even the most credible survey results. A frontrunner whose lead had been whittled to nearly nothing declared surveys can be bought in Quiapo. Another filed a bill declaring political polling illegal. Among the candidates who trash political polling we might find one or all of the following characteristics that indicate a correlation among three aspects of Philippine politics.

One, they are mostly bottom-dwellers.

Two, they are relatively short of funds, a measurable financial condition indicative of campaigning capacity and related to poll results. These candidates are thus resigned to criticizing traditional paradigms that compel greater spending to reverse polling data.

Three, they deliberately ignore the concepts of statistics, fear numbers or are numerically challenged and retreat from the arithmetic.

Never mind that statistics is apolitical per se and simply a process of bean-counting used as a decision-making tool. Statistics neither replaces a count much less the electoral exercise, nor does it pretend to. To ascribe to surveys such is ludicrous.

In debunking poll statistics, there is an implicit admission of an interactive correlation among rankings, money and forecasting. This reveals political realities worth analyzing and which demand a moral and financial imperative more profound than the simplistic anti-survey and anti-money sound bytes spun by bottom-dwellers.

First we must take the non-conspiratorial route and assume regularity absent of damning evidence. Poll results are not pre-fashioned by sponsors nor are surveys conducted under different assumptions and respondent bases related to one another. It is unfortunate specters are created where there are none. Surveys are simply decision-making tools.

When presidential candidate Benigno Aquino attained a 66% rating at the onset, statistically there was no other direction this could go but south. This is arithmetic. It has nothing to do with the candidate’s competence or his campaign.

At 66% Aquino approximates the historic voter turn-out and would thus be bumping against the mathematical ceiling. Moreover, the options had not yet then been cleaned out of candidates who slip out or jump in thus altering margins among those rated.

The third aspect of the 66% lead was that Sen. Manuel Villar’s rating came in second but was statistically within striking range when we consider the ratings of those below him. Netting out those rabidly in the counterparties, with consolidation and realignments, Villar’s early rating would bring him within Aquino’s given statistical margins of error for Luzon-only polls with a 1,500 respondent base.

The fourth aspect was the girth of the margins of error. Aquino’s early 66% rating was not a nationwide result. Recent polls used nationwide respondent bases of as much as 5,000. At the previous level the margins of error were around 5%. Updated surveys which make for better decision-making have margins of much less, some at 2%.

Finally, Aquino’s 66% rating was partly comprised of “Cory Magic” – a factor many expected might sustain and complement his inherent merits.

Aquino’s inherent merits should kick in as the “magic” is properly factored-in, or, down the wire, his formerly unknown variables should enhance the “magic” further.

But both “magic’ for Aquino and demolition jobs on Villar seem to be bubbles. The recent polls indicating a statistical tie between Aquino and Villar are significant.

One, respondent bases were increased and margins of error were reduced. Two, “magic” and smear jobs now form part of the equation. Three, more is known of Aquino and Villar where their inherent merits and platform should comprise the candidate in place of early pre-factored-in persona, “magic”, halos, demonization, spin or imagery.

That the dead-heat comes precisely when official campaigning rules and financing limits kick-in should theoretically level the playing field compelling Aquino and Villar to contend based on residual merits. For Aquino and Villar, this involves inherent competence and platform.

As for the rest, because mathematical reality is not on their side, they may have to rely on fraud, more money and a machinery to carry out that fraud. Votes committed to Villar and Aquino will not fall to the third or fourth-ranked. It’s simply math.

Arithmetically, even when statistics are combined through realignments or cannibalization among bottom-dwellers, including throwing in the historically undecided, nothing can legitimately bring losers within a light year of Aquino and Villar. This explains the rationale behind the underhanded albeit ludicrous concept of secret Gloria Arroyo presidential candidates spun and spread to cannibalize between the top two.

According to the numbers, this is a two-way contest. That compels a financial decision on those correctly viewing polling as a management tool. Because surveys substantially affect campaign financing, as in cockfighting, donors place money on winners and not on statistically hopeless bottom-scrapers.

But for those with unlimited resources, unless one controls the state’s purse strings, supporters who paint urban infrastructure cat-vomit green should stop wasting our tax money on mathematical impossibility.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Gloria loves money, Manny loves glory

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Text message of the week: “Now the cat’s out of the bag… Manny Villar is the secret candidate of GMA… Mike Arroyo himself met with Villar at the house of Mike Defensor last Jan. 7… Villar secretly agreed to make GMA as Speaker of the House and protect her should Villar win the presidency… Villar agreed to GMA’s offer of massive logistical support in GMA’s commissioners in the Comelec who will assure Villar’s victory…” (GMA is the acronym of prez Gloria Macapagal Arroyo). Like a virus, the text message spread like wild fire. Yup, that’s the power of the text and the Philippines is the “texting capital” of the world.

Is the text message true? Well, as I said in last week’s column, “Gloria loves money, Manny loves glory.” And as the old adage says, “Love of money is the root of all evil,” I must add that “Glory is the best aphrodisiac!” So, one can say that the Villar-Arroyo — or Villarroyo – “marriage” may have been made in Heaven but it definitely was consummated in Hell.Kawawa naman ang mga Pinoy, mahirap na, nasa impiyerno pa (Poor Pinoys, they’re already poor and now they’re going to Hell).

With the Villarroyo “marriage” what’s going to happen to Gloria’s “baby,” presidential wannabe Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro? Just read the newspapers: Malacañang says, “Gilbert Teodoro Jr. can successfully run his electoral campaign without help from President Arroyo.” That’s strike one! Malacañang says, “President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will likely keep away from the sorties of administration standard bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. during the entire campaign period.” Strike two! In a recent press briefing Gloria’s new Press Secretary, Cris Icban Jr., said that Gloria “deliberately decided that Gibo stands on his own.” Strike three! Perhaps it’s time for Gibo to cut his losses and get behind his cousin, Noynoy Aquino, whose lead over Money Villarroyo is down to only 2 percent.

During his proclamation rally, Gibo vowed to “scour the remotest of towns to win over the voters and drawing on Star trek’s line, ‘where no man has gone before’.” Well, he better make sure he knows how to get back home; otherwise, it’s “bye, baby, bye.”

Another text message that’s been going around in cyberspace is:

NOYNOY: Di ako magnanakaw! (I’m not going to steal!)

GIBO: Di ko na kailangang magnakaw! (I don’t need to steal!)

VILLAR: Di na ako magnanakaw! (I’ll stop stealing!)

ERAP: Kailangan ko uling magnakaw! (I need to steal again!)

GMA: Wala na kayong mananakaw! (Nothing is left for your to steal!)

Presidential wannabe Richard “Flashy Dick” Gordon and his running mate, Bayani Fernando — who call themselves, “transformers” — started their campaign riding a pink and blue truck which they dubbed, “Optimum Prime.” They said that they’re running their campaign on a “shoestring budget.” With their gas-guzzling truck, they might run out of money pretty soon and finish their campaign riding on a carabao.

Meanwhile, Flashy Dick’s nephew, John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes, who is also running for president, started his campaign going house to house in Olongapo City distributing flyers and pins to voters. Now, that’s what I call a real “grassroots” campaign. It might take him 10 years to cover all the cities and towns in the country, but that’s okay. By that time, he’d be old enough to become president. Perhaps, he should quit his quixotic quest and volunteer to be his uncle’s truck driver. That would save Flashy Dick a few bucks for gas.

But I must take my hat off to Bro. Eddie Villanueva who did a spectacular gimmickry to kickoff his campaign. He unfurled the world’s biggest Philippine flag at the Rizal Park. The flag measured 180 meters by 92 meters, weighed 3.8 tons, and covered a 2-hectare area. But something was missing they didn’t have a flagpole! It would have been breathtaking to see the huge flag on a flagpole as tall as the 2,700-foot Khalifa Tower in Dubai. But Bro. Eddie could just have used the P10 million spent on the flag to feed the poor. That’s a lot of rice. Wah wah we!

Manny Villar — aka “Money Villarroyo” — had celebrities grace his kickoff including “Wowowee” host Willie Revillame and Comedy King Dolphy. But Money Villarroyo was angry when a text message started going around saying that he bribed Dolphy P30 million for his endorsement. See what happens when you have lots and lots of money? Yup, you can buy the presidency. And you can always recover your “investment” and much more than you can imagine. Like they say, “it comes with the territory.”

I saw a YouTube video of people endorsing Villar. They’re saying that “Manny Villar will make this country great again!” Déjà vu! Didn’t Ferdinand Marcos use the slogan, “This nation can be great again!”? Instead, the country became the “Sick Man of Asia” under his dictatorship. Well, if that is the vision of “Money Villarroyo,” then the people should be ready for the return of the “Sick Man.”

However, if Gloria succeeds in changing the government to a parliamentary system and become the Prime Minister next year, the country will continue to be known as the “Armpit of Asia.”

Late last year, after the flooding in Manila caused by Typhoon Ondoy, many supporters of Gloria suggested to move the seat of government to Pampanga, her home province. Well, if Gloria remains in power, it could happen. Now, we know why Gov. Fr. Ed Panlilio was ousted the other day by the Comelec “Hit Squad.” With the Jueteng Lord’s wife — Gloria’s “kumadre” — going to be installed as governor of the “Jueteng Vatican” province, Gloria would have immense power and lots of moolah.

Now, I’m beginning to see the big picture when Press Secretary Icban likened Gloria to Ferdinand Marcos. Yup, with Gloria as Prime Minister, she’d try to stay in power until her dream of transforming the country into an “Enchanted Kingdom” is realized. Don’t hold your breath folks ‘cuz that could take some time.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Something sinister about Arroyo ads

ON DISTANT SHORE
by Val G. Abelgas

There’s more than meets the eye in the two-page advertisements that the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) has been running in three major newspapers in the Philippines heralding the alleged accomplishments of the Arroyo administration in the economy, social development, public works, law and order, job generation, agriculture, energy, environmental protection and digital infrastructure in its nine years in office.

The ads, costing taxpayers millions of pesos, are being run to coincide with the start of the campaign for the coming presidential elections. The ads compete in extravagance and prominence with the multi-million peso campaign ads of Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar.

The ads also come at a time when the 10 presidential candidates are ripping each other apart, diverting the issue away from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. While the candidates destroy each other and spending millions of pesos to gain the people’s vote, Arroyo is using the people’s money to win the “hearts and minds” of the Filipino people, in much the same way that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos competed for the “hearts and minds” of the people through his Bagong Lipunan propaganda at the onset of martial law.

Arroyo and her henchmen have been very busy promoting her alleged legacy in the past few weeks, and are not coy about saying more ads and more efforts will be done in the next few months to herald Arroyo’s achievements in the last nine years. In fact, PIA chief Dodi Limcaoco called on other government departments and agencies to put out similar ads.

Aside from the costly ads, Arroyo has been conducting campus tours to speak to students about her achievements. She has already visited the College of the Holy Spirit near Malacanang and the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University in Bacnotan, La Union.

Arroyo has also sponsored dinners with editors and officers of major Philippine newspapers. She has already visited the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star and is scheduled to visit more.

What is she up to this time?

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said the ads were normal and necessary part of government communication. With an aggressive propaganda against the President, including allegations of corruption, he said it was only normal for the government to inform the people where their taxes went in the last 9 years.

Well, obviously the taxes went to unnecessary expenses like too many foreign and domestic travels, election campaigns and propaganda like these ads, otherwise the people would have been happy and make her a very popular president, instead of being the most hated and most unpopular president the country has ever had, except for (even this is debatable) Marcos.

To be honest, the ads look sinister to me.

Arroyo is not running for reelection. She is running for a congressional seat in her home district in Pampanga, but she doesn’t need multi-million peso advertising to win that one. After all, she has already diverted billions of pesos in government funds to that district that would ensure that she and her family would dominate politics there for decades.

Neither is Arroyo actively endorsing administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro, so I don’t think speculations that the slogan “Ganito Tayon Noon; Ganito Tayo Ngayon” was a subtle endorsement of Teodoro (GT) rings true.

Honestly, I don’t think Arroyo is worried about her legacy. She didn’t give a hoot about public opinion or media criticisms for nine years, and suddenly she was worried about the public and media’s perception of her? Give me a break.

In fact, the relative silence of Arroyo in this presidential campaign is deafening. She doesn’t seem worried that her party’s candidate Teodoro is stuck in the tail end of the surveys. She seems perfectly confident that when the political dust settles after May 10, she would still be there. And she needs to condition the minds of the people that she deserves to still be there, and she needs the support of the media when that time comes.

Very Marcosian, indeed. As soon as Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he launched an intensified campaign to justify his continued stay in power with his Bagong Lipunan propaganda. Of course, he did not need the support of the media then because he closed down all newspapers, and radio and TV stations. He made it appear that his declaration of martial law was good for the nation, thus his slogan: “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” Disiplina, of course, was the dictatorial rule.

This advertising blitz, the media dinners, and campus speaking tours are all designed to win the hearts and minds of the people, and condition them to believing that Arroyo, not these raucous presidential candidates, is the best person to lead the country, even after her constitutionally mandated term has expired. “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, si Arroyo ang kailangan,” the ads seem to say.

A scenario of Arroyo continuing as holdover president because of failure of elections is becoming more and more probable as the election nears. With less than four months to go, the success of the new and untested poll automation program remains uncertain. There are just so many glitches — printing problems, communication glitches, power worries, untrained election personnel, etc. – to be confident of a smooth election.

In the meantime, legal and constitutional experts cannot agree on who would become the interim president in case of a failure of elections. According to Rep. Edno Joson, who filed a House bill that would specify the line of succession in the event of failure of elections, and the Vice President, Senate President and House Speaker are unqualified, said there is a strong possibility Arroyo would use a failure of elections as an excuse to stay in office beyond the expiration of her term on June 30.

“A major or even a minor glitch in the automated voting and counting, where the number of votes involved could affect the outcome of the election for president and vice president, could result in a failure of elections. Violence in Mindanao could have the same effect,” Joson said.



The Constitution names only the vice president, Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives as successors of the President. Contrary to popular impression, the Supreme Court chief justice is not among the successors, he said.

The incumbent Senate president, Juan Ponce Enrile, is seeking reelection. His term expires on June 30. The incumbent Speaker, Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles, is ending his term also on June 30.
Joson said if there is an election failure on May 10, theoretically, senators could still elect a replacement for Enrile when Congress resumes session on May 31.



“But supposing senators cannot muster a quorum? Supposing Malacañang applies pressure on senators so they cannot elect a new Senate president? If the camp of Sen. Manny Villar can work out a boycott of sessions, so can the Palace. We will then be stuck with GMA,” he said.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco, on the other hand, said under Republic Act No. 181, when neither the president-elect nor the vice president-elect shall have qualified, and the Senate president and the speaker have not yet been elected, Congress shall elect an acting president from among the senators and members of the House. That acting president shall remain in office until the president-elect or the vice president-elect shall have been qualified, he added.

Francisco said Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in Congress can elect her as acting president after she wins a seat in the House when the people fail to elect a president or vice president because of some events like the breakdown of poll automation, vacancy in the post of Senate president and the speaker on June 30 next year. Arroyo’s election as acting president would be easy because under RA 181, the election shall be done by Congress in joint session, not necessarily with the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately, he added.

Arroyo is not one who will let such an opportunity escape. She has tried various ways to remain in power beyond 2010, including several botched attempts to amend the constitution. Her insistence on naming the Chief Justice despite prohibitions on appointments during the election period has been suspected to be in preparation for any legal obstacles that could block her extended stay or her return to power.

Her appointment of generals belonging to PMA Class ’78, to which she belongs as honorary mistah, to key positions in the military has also been suspected as part of preparations for a possible extension of her term.

Amid all these scenarios, Arroyo now spends millions of pesos of the people’s money to herald her achievements, in an obvious attempt to condition the minds of the people that she is the best person to lead the country.

Scary.

(valabelgas@aol.com)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It all Adds Up

by Lito Banayo
from MALAYA

If Senator and former PNP Chief Ping Lacson had not accidentally discovered the double appropriation for the stretch of road called C-5 during the budget deliberations of the Senate in 2008, we would be in the throes of proclaiming Manuel B. Villar Jr. as the next president of the benighted republic. And if former DPWH Secretary and former PNP Chief Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. did not comply with his constitutional and legal obligation to open the records of a public institution such as that which he headed to the Senate, specifically to Senator Jamby Madrigal, then those documents (most of the 900 pieces of documentary evidence presented to the SCOW came from the DPWH) would not have surfaced to draw the true story of Manuel Villar’s abuse of power and betrayal of the public trust.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had not yet come up with a committee report on November 14, 2009, the eve of Sen. Loren Legarda Leviste’s announcement of her political marriage with Manuel Villar. But because she had to look good, as in a bride who had to be made-up before she pronounces (political) marriage vows, Villar and his legal acolytes in the Senate had to do a fast break, in the form of a premature Resolution which jumped the gun on the SCOW Committee Report. Eleven senators signed up. First, the old reliables — Joker, Nene, the Cayetano siblings. Then, that other member of the Wednesday Club, Kiko Pangilinan. And Miriam, who Villar was supporting in her Senate re-election bid, never mind if she is a certifiable GMA loyalist, while Villar claims to be “opposition”. (Miriam of Mina, Iloilo, not exactly Pototan as a recent acquaintance in Iloilo corrected my earlier description of her local origin, can shift from opposition pro-Erap to administration pro-GMA with such ease that it leaves the stupid voters breathless). Then Bong and Lito, those two actors who would never ever do anything without first checking with their “handlers” in the stinking palace. Then Gringo and Jinggoy, after much persuasion by Villar, mismo. With ten votes, Villar presented the resolution to his political bride-to-be, for the 11th signature. And then he tried to get Edong Angara to sign too, but the lawyer in Edong stopped him from giving in. What would his ACCRA partners say, if despite such clear documentary evidence which he had earlier confided to them and others in their profession as “very clear and very damning”, he would sign a resolution of innocence? Para naman siyang hindi abogado, and whether for friendship, pakikisama or whatever else, Senator Angara could not throw away his self-respect.

So it was left to Villar, mismo!, to become the 12th signatory to the resolution to exonerate himself. He, he, he, “in defense of his honour” kuno.

But that was no more than useless scrap of paper, as Lacson described it, because there was as yet no SCOW committee Report to vote upon. Chastened, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada withdrew his signature, claiming that he was told the resolution would only be released after the SCOW report, or simultaneously. So twelve became eleven.

Enrile then finalized the report and quietly sent copies to the nine other senators before and during the holidays. Lacson, Madrigal, Roxas, Aquino, Biazon, plus lawyers Escudero, Gordon and Angara. Migs Zubiri didn’t bother to ask his Lakas-Kampi bosses for “guidance” and signed immediately. Enrile talked to party-mate Jinggoy, who also affixed his signature, thereby permanently nullifying his earlier signature on the Villar-sponsored, Cayetano-written November 14 resolution. The Liberals talked to Kiko, their born-again member after his political loyalties got muddled by too much wining and dining each Wednesday, courtesy of then Senate President Villar. JPE”s chief of staff talked to his “anak-anakan” Gringo, but the senator rebuffed his “foster” father. So including himself, Enrile had to settle for 12, still a majority in a chamber where only 22 could participate. Gringo could have been the 13th signatory versus a decimated Villar 9, but apparently his commitment to Villar was too deep and too big for his erstwhile patron to chip away any.

Nothing that moves in the Senate cannot be predicted or smoked-out early enough, the chamber being quite small. When the handwriting was quite evident that a clear majority of two could upset Villar’s “ascent” in the polls, the Department of Justice under Agnes Devanadera, the lady lawyer who tried her damnedest best to become a SC demi-goddess, and failing the same, would just settle for a congressional seat just like her other cabinet colleagues, came to timely rescue. Through State Prosecutor Peter Ong, who could and would, be the Chief State Prosecutor (hopefully not) after Jovencito Zuno retires this month, they moved to include Ping Lacson in the celebrated Dacer-Corbito criminal case pending in the Manila RTC, on the basis of the flip-flopping statements of one Col. Cezar O. Mancao the flaws of which had already been established in the RTC case trial. Lacson hoped against hope that these people would resist pressure, that they would render the kind of justice demanded of them by their oaths of office. But prosecutors can always easily weasel out of their sworn responsibility to do justice to every man, because they could reason out that it is up to the courts to dispose. And so they did, at just the right, the perfect timing.

If the judge issues the warrant of arrest, Lacson is immobilized. The Palace can then work on some of Enrile’s original twelve to “re-think” legal conviction for political expediency. Enrile could even be ousted from his perch (read “The Plot” in our Malaya archives, 19 Jan 2010). But JPE saw through the plot, and moved fast, released the report, and brought the onus of peer pressure and conscience upon those who might waffle. The Malacanang-Villar hatched plot to make Villar the resurrected Senate President was foiled, just in time.

Lacson for his part left the country on January 5, 2010, after talking to his spiritual adviser and confidante, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, and telling him that he would not give the Arroyos (husband and wife) the satisfaction of humiliating him and incarcerating him on trumped-up charges, for a “crime” on which he had no hand whatsoever. The erudite Oscar bade him farewell and God bless.

So, despite the lack of numbers, the Villarroyo coven could at least maneuver a lack of quorum, which they skilfully did. On the last session day, the nation saw how “weasels who skunked out” gave the Senate of the people its ignoble depart. The day was saved for the Villar gravy train, juices of which were used to “spin” ignobility into exoneration, as “failure to censure”. Packaged together with a nauseating predominance of television ads, ten times to one, “vindication” was engineered in timely survey findings which showed Villar catching up with Noynoy.

The Noynoy camp was beleaguered, perhaps shaken up from unwise stupor brought about by reckless confidence in early numbers. A more cautious judge would have tried to determine if probable cause indeed existed to charge Lacson, especially in light of the selective prosecution (why only Lacson, and not Erap as well, who was in the affidavits of Mancao and even Dumlao as well?) by the DOJ. But no, just when C-5 was banner story and Villar’s non-defense started to be shown up for its emptiness, a warrant against Lacson comes out. C-5 is bumped off the headlines and the airwaves, and “fugitive” Lacson becomes top story, with a supra-verbose idiot from the NBI spinning stories about “red notices” and international manhunts.

Even the stinking palace calls on Lacson to face the justice system, and the usual liars like Rosebud are trotted out from hibernation. Did they create the same noise when everybody was looking for Garci? Or Joc-Joc, now the Nacionalista Party candidate for governor of Capiz? Of course not. Lacson is the Arroyo Public Enemy Number One, responsible for Jose Pidal (2003), the fertilizer scam expose (2004), the NBN-ZTE deal (2007), the early-on telecoms scandal (2001), even the mention of Vicky Toh which infuriated El Gran Esposo so much and reportedly made unica hija Luli Arroyo cry. And in a bruising campaign, Lacson moving all over the country to warn the public against the dangers of electing another “transactional” trapo, with fingers caught in the C-5 at Taga cookie jar, then the Money Villarroyo presidential quest, up against the high numbers of Noynoy Aquino at that, could be seriously imperilled. After all, Ping Lacson has loyal followers all over the land, and in 2004 when he ran for president, against the cheating GMA and the popular FPJ, with the contest virtually a toss-up, the senator still polled 11%. Three and a half million voters still wrote his name in their ballot, even if they knew that the surveys said he would lose.

So why should Lacson, the Arroyo’s Public Enemy Number One, and the scourge of the surrogate presidential candidate Money Villarroyo, trust the present justice system, in a land where justices and judges and prosecutors take orders from Malacanang, and judicial decisions are up for sale, with lawyers pimping for “saleable” decisions?

(To be continued)

(banayo_at@yahoo.com)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

‘Politically motivated’ does not acquit a criminal

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

The single biggest cause of poverty in our country is not the lack of gold in the pocket of the poor but the lack of enlightenment in their minds. Our poor can hardly discern who their real saviors are from those who will promise to be their saviors and end up being their biggest exploiters.

The Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada presidencies — both ousted from office by People Power — are the best examples of that. Marcos was supposed to make our nation great again. Estrada was supposed to bring the poor out of poverty. They both did the opposite.

The INFORMATION and EDUCATION Gaps produced that sorry state of the poor Filipino’s mind. Our poor folks are easily fooled and are unable to sense the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Many times, they are impressed by glib shysters and cannot see the sincerity of the more deserving candidates.

Not so honest and not so earnest media practitioners promote this very damaging syndrome. Many of the twisted logic and outright lies being peddled by crooks are being given credence by these media practitioners. In countries like the United States, a lot of the bovine ordure that finds itself on front pages and broadcast banner news stories are attacked by media itself and the promoter of twisted logic is called to task.

If Barack Obama as 2008 presidential candidate espoused the kind of defense and logic which Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar exhibited in the Senate to escape accountability for the C-5 controversy, he would have lost the election to John McCain. No way will the American public and responsible media allow that excuse of Villar to be used in their country to escape accountability.

Personal or political motivation does not and cannot justify the junking of charges when there is strong evidence and probable cause of wrong doing. If Villar’s tack on the C-5 issue is to become the norm for dispensing justice, all Marlene Aguilar, mother of road rage murder suspect Jason Ivler, has to do is say that the arresting NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) agents hated her son.

If Villar’s use of personal and political motivation is to become a new legal basis for escaping accountability, the same excuse can used by Ben Abalos for the ZTE scandal, by Jocjoc Bolante for the Fertilizer Scam, by Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for all the grievous sins she committed against the Filipino people.

So what if political motivation or personal motivation made somebody present a case of plunder, murder or rape against another person. If there was indeed a case of plunder, murder or rape — it matters not if what brought it out into the open was political or personal motivation. What matters is that justice is served and the criminal is prosecuted.

And yet, from his own mouth, Manny Villar openly espoused this excuse to escape accountability for the C-5 issue with all its 900 pages of documents that supported the Senate Majority Report. Not only was his defense totally inane and irrelevant, he did not even have the guts to face interpellation.

The most pathetic sight in that sorry episode in the Senate was the phalanx of defenders of Manny Villar that echoed the twisted logic that was being passed off as legitimate defense. The most prominent of Villar’s defenders in the Senate may not have realized the political fallout they suffered for defending what many perceive as corruption and for instigating a session boycott just to protect a suspect.

Already, Villar’s obscene election spending alarms a lot of people. Last Thursday, Sonia Roco expressed that on an ABS-CBN TV Patrol interview in Taguig. Sonia Roco asked how Villar will recoup the billions that he is spending to try to win the 2010 presidency. Sonia Roco was fearful of the expected return on investment, especially since Villar is a businessman.

A friend who is familiar with Villar’s real estate business track record mentioned that Villar is used to getting a 500 times return on investment. He would buy raw land at P40 per square meter, get the government to build a major road to go through the property and then resells the lots for at least P2, 000 per square meter. Going by that yardstick, if Villar spends P10 billion to win the 2010 presidential election — a P5 trillion return on investment is in order.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon on the issue of his immense level of advertising spending, Villar claimed that he does not need to recoup all that money and that he is just out to serve the people. If that was Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto talking and if he was not spending his own money — yes we can believe that. Tony Meloto has a long track record of giving and sharing without counting the cost, without seeking rest or reward.

But Manny Villar is not Tony Meloto. Manny Villar is a businessman and a businessman thinks in terms of return on investment and not in terms of psychic rewards and spiritual sanctification.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Monday, February 22, 2010

No More Task Forces

by Ducky Paredes
from MALAYA

“There is also a greater possibility of abuse, graft, corruption and bribery in a task force than in a regular government agency” – Ducky Paredes

Whoever the next President will be, he has to learn from the mistakes of the past. For instance, it is clear that giving task forces major jobs – such as the one assigned to the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) to stop smuggling – is clearly not the way to go.

The problem with task forces is that they do not fit in with the rest of the government, which do their work within certain parameters. Task forces are operational units that report directly to the President. Thus, they find no need to coordinate with the rest of the government or even to go through channels. They are legally created gangs of often disreputable agents.

This wreaks havoc on the rest of the government, which, most of the time, will be working at cross-purposes with the task force, especially when the task force operates as most do, as if they were as powerful as the appointing power.

There is also a greater possibility of abuse, graft, corruption and bribery in a task force than in a regular government agency.

I am surprised and amused that graft charges have been filed by the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) against Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño and four of his subordinates.

The charges arose out of the dismissal of a jewelry smuggling case that the PASG had filed against a British national, Siu Ting Alpha Kwok.

What was amusing about this was that PASG director Jeffrey Patawaran was apparently assigned to discuss the case before media: “The charges and petition for the preventive suspension of the ranking officials of DOJ were triggered by their alleged malicious dismissal of the smuggling case against Kwok and the premature release of their resolution.”

But wasn’t Patawaran in an earlier press release of the PASG supposed to be under suspension himself, on orders of PASG Chief Antonio Villar Jr. himself for allegedly having slapped and kicked Atty. Bonifacio Alentajan, the lawyer of smuggling suspect Alpha Kwok? The incident happened during a hearing at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Incidentally, this is not the first case of PASG personnel using physical violence against people who cross their paths. Some time ago, several bodyguards of the PASG Chief reportedly mauled a businessman at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City.

The businessman’s only fault was that he had a full bladder and insisted on going inside the hotel’s comfort room to relieve himself. The PASG bodyguards physically prevented him from entering since their boss was in there, “conferring” with somebody. If everything was on the up-and-up, why hold a “conference” in a men’s room?

The businessman-victim had to be hospitalized because of the injuries he suffered from the beating, but desisted from filing charges against Villar’s men.

In the present case, if Patawaran himself was under suspension, what was he doing speaking for the PASG against the DOJ prosecutors and agitating for their preventive suspension? Or was his supposed suspension just a scripted moro-moro?

This puzzling twist in Patawaran’s fate reminds me of the dismissal order Villar imposed on PASG Strategic and Information Chief Rommel Javier, last December. Javier was ordered booted out purportedly for his “involvement with the robbery-extortion gang preying on importers nationwide.”

So now I have to pose these questions. What happened to that dismissal order? Were criminal charges filed against him as reported? Is Javier really out of the PASG? Is he an organic member of the PASG at all? If not, and if he was merely on detail with this agency, was he simply sent back to his mother unit?

What really happens to the too many cases of PASG people being involved in shenanigans who were supposedly suspended and investigated. After the initial reports, there are never any further announcements about what happened next!

What happened, for instance, to his bodyguards involved in that Dusit Hotel mauling incident? Or to the more than a dozen PASG operatives who were also ordered investigated for their role in the mysterious disappearance of replicating machines and other equipment and materials confiscated from an illegal producer of optical media materials?

The seized items were purportedly worth more than a hundred million pesos. They were spirited out from the raided building while under the custody and tight watch of the PASG. No report of the investigation was ever made to the media or even to the Optical Media Board, which the PASG unjustly accused (without proof) of receiving a P10 million bribe in connection with the case. Was that just a smokescreen to hide what really happened?

Are these announcements of investigations, dismissals and suspensions being made merely to lull the public into believing that the PASG is earnestly doing everything to rid itself of the undesirables in its rank?

Or is the real situation is that PASG’s Villar cannot suspend anyone whose original appointment in the government service was not issued by the PASG chief himself.

Executive Order No. 624 which created the PASG, seems to indicate that Villar has no power to appoint anyone..

Section 2 of the EO simply states: “The PASG shall be composed of elements from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Maritime Authority (MARINA), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Navy (PN), Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), and Bureau of Customs (BOC) as well as from other government agencies that may be needed by the PASG in the performance of its functions, as determined by the Head of the PASG.”

Even the Special Team of Prosecutors created to handle its cases is made up of people from the DOJ who are merely detailed to PASG. So, on the matter of the PASG’s announced dismissals, investigations and suspensions, is the PASG only fooling the public since it has neither the power nor the inclination to discipline any of what in other government offices would be considered as misfits in an honest civil service?

In any other regular government agency, miscreants such as what PASG has in great numbers would have been fired from the service a long time ago.

Task forces just do not do the job!

# # # #

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@yahoo.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ominous

by Rey O. Arcilla
from MALAYA

‘Peace panel head admits MILF draft agreement will require “major constitutional changes.”’

NEW Press Secretary Cris Icban Jr. likened his new boss, Ms. Gloria Arroyo, to President Ferdinand Marcos.

First (and last?) faux pas?

Further, I sayeth none.

***

A government spokesman who is both a Filipino and American citizen?! Geeez!

Even a nitwit would know that is wrong. And Ms. Gloria Arroyo is supposed to be an intelligent person?!

I hope junior mouthpiece Gary Olivar doesn’t get cockeyed trying to determine where Philippine interests begin and where American interests end.

Given the so-called “special relations” between the two countries, distinguishing Philippine interests from those of the Americans’ has always been problematical to our past and present set of leaders.

***

Itinerant future ex-Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo returned from Washington early yesterday morning. He was at the US capital for reasons that could have been delegated to our ambassador there.

DFA insiders themselves say “gumagawa lang ng biyahe.” If that is the case, Romulo should really try to resist his constant urge to get on board a plane unless it is absolutely necessary. (Surely, he must be aware of Murphy’s Law.) He would be saving poor Juan de la Cruz tens of thousands of pesos spent on his plane fare, hotel accommodation and the so-called commutable representation allowance which may range between $1,000 (P46,000) to $3,500 (P165,000), depending on the nature and extent of the trip.

Interestingly, Romulo’s trip coincided with the confirmation process of the incoming US ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. Was he, by any chance, sent by Ms. Arroyo or, worse, “summoned” by the State Department to brief Thomas on what’s going on here, in particular with the forthcoming elections?

There are unverified reports that Romulo used to have weekly breakfast meetings with Thomas’ predecessor, Kristie Kenney. I hope Romulo did not have breakfast with Thomas. That would be most unbecoming.

***

I also hope Romulo’s trip had nothing to do with the reported MILF statement that the government “had nothing new to offer” in its draft agreement submitted through facilitator Malaysia. It reportedly led the rebel group to discontinue the latest round of negotiations. (Another report said the two panels will meet in Kuala Lumpur February 18-19.)

It is common knowledge that the US is keenly interested in having the peace talks concluded as soon as possible. The Americans were directly involved in the forging of the Supreme Court-rejected MOA-AD on the creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. Former US Ambassador Kenney and her deputies had been talking directly with MILF leaders, with the knowledge and consent of Arroyo, Romulo and peace panel head DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis. Treasonous…

***

At a meeting in Camp Aguinaldo late last week, Seguis reportedly revealed that the MILF draft agreement will require “major constitutional changes” for it to be implemented. He allegedly also said that the government draft was open to amending the Charter, although he said the amendments relate only to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Has the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) already agreed to such a Charter amendment? I doubt it. Gulo na naman ‘yan!

Seguis reportedly also admitted that the MILF kept repeating the Supreme Court-rejected MOA-AD on the creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity in its draft. So why is the panel even entertaining it?

“As you know, the MOA-AD has been decided upon by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional but we can (go) around that language by reengineering it. We are not very vigil (sic) about it but we just like to avoid mentioning that initialled MOA-AD in any draft because that would put us in trouble again in the Supreme Court,” Seguis said.

“Re-engineering” the language of the unconstitutional MOA-AD?!
Ominous.

***

Taking the cue from Ms. Arroyo, some cabinet members are now preoccupied with trying to leave a legacy in their departments. Future ex-Foreign Secretary Romulo is one of them.

Introducing structural reforms in the DFA would be welcome. An interdependent world has taken its toll on the capacity of the DFA to cope with the ever-increasing responsibilities and workload. The proposed changes will, in general, help resolve the problem.

However, one of the major changes being introduced, i.e., the creation of the post of five undersecretaries is, in my view, unnecessary. Aside from the fact that that would be against the pertinent provision of R.A. 7157 (Foreign Service Act) which prescribes only three undersecretaries, it would also cost more money. (I am informed that a draft executive order had already been prepared for signature by Arroyo. But can an executive order revise an existing legislated statute?) In my view, it would be better instead to have just one deputy secretary and increase the number of assistant secretaries to spread out the work. The deputy secretary should always be a career officer. He would be like the Permanent Secretary of most foreign ministries, a fine example of which would be the United Kingdom and Japan.

***

An administrative case was filed last year by the head of the health insurance provider for the DFA personnel against a foreign service officer for an alleged extortion attempt of P3 million. The officer was then a Special Assistant in the office of the Undersecretary for Administration (Usec-Admin) who is also chairman of the Board of Foreign Service Administration (BFSA).

Instead of being taken up in the BFSA, in accordance with the guidelines approved by the Usec-Admin himself for such complaints, a criminal case was filed with the Ombudsman against the officer.

When I asked the Usec-Admin why the administrative case was not taken up by the BFSA, he said: “It is our opinion that Ombudsman action/decision is prejudicial to administrative case.”

Now, that is strange. To begin with, the administrative complaint should have been taken up in the BFSA where it was filed first. And should the BFSA find there is basis to file a criminal complaint against the officer, then and only then should it have been brought to the Ombudsman.

The complainant, quite rightly, insists that the administrative case he filed against the officer ought to be heard by the BFSA. And if found guilty, he should be administratively punished. The law allows both administrative and criminal cases against an erring employee to be heard at the same time.
I asked the Usec-Admin what action was taken against the officer. He said he had him transferred to the DFA Office of Policy Planning. That’s it?
It is obvious that the Usec-Admin is merely trying to protect the respondent (the Ombudsman takes forever to decide on cases) or, worse, he does not want the office he heads dragged into the case. As the boss, he cannot escape responsibility for the actions of his subordinates.

***

Text message of the week, the veracity of which I do not guarantee: “Now the cat’s out of the bag… Manny Villar is the secret candidate of GMA… Mike Arroyo himself met with Villar at the house of Mike Defensor last Jan. 7… Villar secretly agreed to make GMA as Speaker of the House and protect her should Villar win the presidency… Villar agreed to GMA’s offer of massive logistical support in GMA’s commissioners in the Comelec who will assure Villar’s victory… Pls pass para di tayo maloko uli.”Ruling party presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro should forthwith try to verify the content of the message. If he doesn’t, it would only prove what I have been saying all along – he may have “galing at talino” but he definitely is naïve. He couldn’t or wouldn’t reconcile himself with the fact that his association with Arroyo, no matter how much he tries to distance himself from her or she from him, is a kiss of death.

***

There are 141 days left before the end on 30 June 2010 of the stolen presidency of Ms. Arroyo, courtesy of “Garci”, et al.

***

Today is the 280th day of the third year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

***

Email: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com