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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Predatory

BY REY O. ARCILLA
MALAYA
‘It appears the United Kingdom has become a nation of talent raiders.’
In an earlier column, I mentioned the plaint of a foreigner businessman who alleged that the “cost” of bringing in through the Bureau of Customs one container during the Arroyo regime was P150,000. These days, he said, the cost has risen to P250,000.
Last week, another foreigner businessman in the export industry complained about more paperwork being required of them by Customs which naturally means more “cost” in terms of more man hours, delay and “expedite” fee.
I believe it is high time President Noynoy Aquino cracked the whip on Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to straighten out that graft-ridden agency in compliance with his “daang matuwid” dictum – unless, of course, Purisima doesn’t believe in it.
***
I have only one question for Miguel Zubiri:
Would he have quit had not Zaldy Ampatuan, Lintang Bedol, et. al., come out with their revelations?
The accusations of cheating were there even before he sat in the Senate chamber.
And when I saw Zubiri embracing Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, it brought to mind the time when Nene Pimentel lost his bid for a Senate seat allegedly due to a dagdag-bawas scheme, just as his son, Koko, apparently became the victim of a similar scheme. But unlike his father who had to wait for a subsequent election to get a Senate seat, Koko, may not have to. It looks like he will be able to occupy the seat vacated by Zubiri.
***
Noynoy really went out on a limb by talking directly, in Tokyo at that, with Murad Ibrahim, leader of the MILF rebel group.
It was like the mountain going to Mohammed with all the attendant risks and implications the move entailed.
Right or wrong, I hope and pray Noynoy’s decision will lead to a lasting peace with the rebel group in the near future, not “during” his term that ends in mid-2016.
I’m sure Noynoy and his advisers realize that doing what he did left him with very little room for maneuver and limited options should things go awry and the rebels turn recalcitrant and violent once again.
Then again, I like to believe that Noynoy went through the exercise with the knowledge that the major obstacles have already been ironed out. All that’s left for the negotiating panels to do is to cross the “t’s” and dot the “i’s”.
***
On the other hand, if MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar is to be believed, it would appear that an agreement of sorts had indeed already been reached. He was quoted in a news report that “it’s up to the government when to sign the agreement.”
Jaafar reportedly said the MILF will not push anymore for an independent Islamic State but a Bangsamoro Republic under the Philippine government. “That’s the content of our Proposed Comprehensive Compact Agreement we submitted to the government,” he said.
Frankly, I fail to grasp the difference between a state and a republic. And how can a republic be under the Philippine government? By definition, a republic is an independent state.
Jaafar also reportedly said that the Bangsamoro Republic will cover the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
If I am not mistaken, the ARMM came into being because of the peace pact reached with the MNLF. Wouldn’t they have something to say about what Jaafar said? I would expect them to violently object to it. That’s their turf. Lest we forget, the MILF is merely a breakaway faction of the MNLF. I suppose this point has been covered in the agreement referred to by Jaafar.
As Noynoy’s favorite song goes, let’s watch what happens.
***
It appears Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was left entirely out of the loop on Noynoy’s Tokyo trip. Is it possible the President has not been happy with the inputs from the DFA on the MILF problem?
If so, could it be that Del Rosario, in turn, is not getting the proper inputs and advice from three of his undersecretaries, namely, Erlinda Basilio (Policy). Chito Brillantes (Special Concerns) and Rafael Seguis (formerly head of the peace panel during Arroyo’s regime)? Perhaps it’s time he looked for their replacements to inject new blood into the top hierarchy of his department. Incidentally, all three are way past the retirement age of 65.
For now, Del Rosario should just grin and bear the fact that he was apparently not even consulted on the Tokyo trip. With that giant smiley at the entrance of the DFA building greeting him every time he goes to office, that should be no problem.
Incidentally, I have been informed that the notorious Michael Macaraig whose suspension for one year was approved by Del Rosario last week is allegedly still holding on to his job as transportation chief. If true, what good is suspending him if the status quo remains? What gives, Mr. Secretary, Sir? Oh, I hope Macaraig has been instructed to turn over the funds of the DFA Personnel Association to the incumbent president.
***
At some point in the past, the British were known as a nation of horse traders.
Today, it appears they have become a nation of talent raiders.
Developed countries usually assist developing ones by, among others, offering scholarships to the latter’s nationals to study in their schools so that when they finish their studies, they can return to their countries with the necessary knowledge and skills to help in their development. That is how it was supposed to be.
Not anymore. Now the British government lures talented foreigners to live and work in the UK through a special migration program..
About three weeks ago, the British embassy in Manila issued a press release inviting “exceptionally talented” Filipinos to migrate to the UK. It was in line with the “Exceptional Talent” project launched by the British government. The special migration program encourages the “brightest and the best” in the fields of science, arts, engineering, the humanities and social sciences to live and work in the UK.
Knowing how short we are of such talents which are necessary for our development, the British would go to the extent of depriving us of the little that we have.
That’s a bit underhanded and is certainly predatory in character.
And we call these friends who, for the slightest reason, issue travel advisories to their citizens against traveling to the Philippines to the detriment of our struggling tourism industry?
***
Noynoy says he takes personally the abuses committed by the unlamented Arroyo regime because he considers those abuses as having been committed against his bosses, the people. So how come he hasn’t taken action so far on the following, particularly on the NFA and former GSIS head Winston Garcia?
Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):
1) Filing of charges against the previous administration’s National Food Administration officials for the anomalous importation of rice. (Noynoy himself said there is documentary evidence to prove the anomaly.)
The report that the NFA lost a mind-boggling P100 billion in the last 10 years should spur Noynoy to go posthaste after those responsible for that grievous crime against his bosses, the people.
2) Facilitating the investigation of the rampant corruption in the military, including the uncovered anomaly in gas allowances.
3) Expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.
4) Preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice of the graft complaint filed late last year by Bayan Muna against Gloria Arroyo in connection with the aborted $329 million ZTE-NBN deal.
5) Investigation of the reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and the scandalous allowances and excessive benefits the members of the Board of Trustees allotted themselves (P11 million each) in 2009 alone.
Reports that the GSIS has stopped giving housing loans to members due to lack of funds gives urgency to Noynoy ordering the new GSIS management to act expeditiously on cases to be lodged against Garcia. People are anxiously waiting for them.
***
From an internet friend:
“Don’t mess with Seniors”
A lawyer and a senior citizen are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The lawyer is thinking that seniors are so dumb that he could get one over on them easily. So, the lawyer asks if the senior would like to play a fun game.
The senior is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks. The lawyer persists, saying that the game is a lot of fun… “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me only $5.00. Then you ask me one, and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500.00,” he says.
This catches the senior’s attention and, to keep the lawyer quiet, he agrees to play the game. The lawyer asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the Earth to the Moon?” The senior doesn’t say a word, but reaches into his pocket, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer.
Now, it’s the senior’s turn. He asks the lawyer, “What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?” The lawyer uses his laptop to search all references he can find on the Net. He sends E-mails to all the smart friends he knows; all to no avail. After an hour of searching, he finally gives up. He wakes the senior and hands him $500.00. The senior pockets the $500.00 and goes right back to sleep.
The lawyer is going nuts not knowing the answer. He wakes the senior up and asks, “Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?” The senior reaches into his pocket, hands the lawyer $5.00, and goes back to sleep.
***
Today is the 103rd day of the fifth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
***
Email: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

They’d rather look stupid than tell the truth

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR 
By William M. Esposo 
The Philippine Star
Your Chair Wrecker watched with amusement the August 2 Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the PNP (Philippine National Police) helicopter scam. It was amusing to discover how police officers would rather look stupid before the Filipino people than reveal what they know about a corruption scandal and provide closure.
If we were still under the previous regime, then it’s understandable when police officers are stifled from telling the truth. Now, you must wonder why those PNP officers linked to the helicopter scam are still opting to hide the truth. The logical conclusion in many people’s minds would be that they feel as guilty as the mastermind and perpetra-tors of the helicopter scam and so they feel that they too must try to hide the truth. It’s either that or perhaps somebody is providing them incentives to look stupid before the nation.
Senators Franklin Drilon, Serge Osmena, TG Guingona and Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile (JPE) deserve commendation for the way they successfully drew a composite picture of how former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo allegedly shafted the Filipino nation by masterminding the sale of overpriced helicopters to the PNP. It turned out that two of the choppers were used units that were refurbished to be passed off as brand new.
The testimonies of the invited resource persons gave you the impression that the helicopter scam was an underworld operation. Large amounts of payments were settled in cash — something you’d expect from Mafia dealings but not from supposed legitimate firms supplying the government. Then too, there is the active participation of corrupt cops, reminding you of the corrupt New York Police Captain that broke the nose of future Don, Michael Corleone, in the classic Mafia novel The Godfather.
To add to the underworld character of the helicopter scam, a lot of aspects were shrouded in mystery. PNP bosses mysteriously approved the contract without questioning the glaring fraud of used choppers being passed off as brand new. Non-experts were mysteriously assigned to check the delivered helicopters. Due diligence was mysteriously lacking in the PNP operating procedures.
Did we get an underworld boss for our former First Gentleman? Too bad for Mike Arroyo that his partners in the alleged helicopter scam – Lion Air Inc.’s Archibald Po and MAPTRA’s (Manila Aerospace Trading Corp.) Hilario de Vera – opted to protect themselves by cooperating and revealing the details.
Under the President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) sun, Mike Arroyo no longer has the Department of Justice (DoJ) clout that he enjoyed during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime — especially when the DoJ was under then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. The number of libel cases that Mike Arroyo had filed against journalists — one of them was your Chair Wrecker — that were easily elevated for trial demonstrated how the DoJ had pandered to every Mike Arroyo wish and command.
A Manila Prosecutor admitted that there was absolutely no libel in what your Chair Wrecker wrote. My case would have easily been thrown out by the DoJ — but not during that climate of impunity and not when you’re up against then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
Perhaps it was providential that the libel case against your Chair Wrecker fell into the sala of an old, retiring and honest judge – former Manila Trial Court Judge Romulo Lopez. Other similarly indicted journalists settled for an offer by Mike Arroyo to withdraw his case. Your Chair Wrecker opted to go through the trial process and my case was dismissed. Most, if not all, of the libel cases that Mike Arroyo filed against journalists pertained to his alleged involvement in the 2004 election cheating operation.
Politically and from a communications viewpoint, the filing of all those libel cases against so many journalists can be considered as counter productive. All those cases merely promoted the public perception that Mike Arroyo was suppressing press freedom in order to hide the truth.
The fact that Mike Arroyo still preferred to use that option would indicate the presence of a great fear that sideswiped reason. Was it a preventive measure to stifle further dis-cussion on the 2004 election cheating? Once in the courts, the subject matter can no longer be discussed in media.
Some would attribute it to God’s justice that always prevails in the end. Others would call it karma catching up with Mike Arroyo. These days, Mike Arroyo cannot sue jour-nalists again like he did once. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will not allow him to arraign journalists on baseless libel charges that are obviously intended to prevent more exposure of the embarrassing truth. It’s also difficult to find a basis for suing for libel when there are so many witnesses providing direct knowledge of one’s criminal activities.
Your Chair Wrecker could have filed a damage claim against Mike Arroyo after my libel case was dismissed. My delicate health condition was placed under severe stress after seeing the tremendous clout that the First Gentleman wielded in the judiciary. When Mike Arroyo suffered a near fatal aneurism, which to this day is said to put his life at risk, your Chair Wrecker decided to do an act of Christian charity and opted not to sue him anymore for damages.
It’s a big comfort to know that you’re quite different from a fellow like Mike Arroyo.
* * *
Chair Wrecker email and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sneaky Noynoy

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
The Daily Tribune
Bits and pieces regarding the discussions of the secret meeting that obviously has resulted in a secret deal with Noynoy giving in to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s demands are now being gathered, with the MILF, through vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar, being quoted as saying a day after the Tokyo secret meeting between Noynoy and MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad, that the MILF does not want autonomy, which is “inutile,” but a substate, which is a state within a state.
Jaafar explained what a substate is, saying that under a sub-state, Mindanao Muslims would have control over major aspects of governance, except national defense, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, as well as postal services.
What is not being stated and explained, however by Jaafar and Noynoy, is that under the MILF substate terms, this Bangsa Moro government, which, as the MILF is going to be given by Noynoy its “national identity,” will be fairly a copy of the Palestinian Authority (PA), a substate lodged somewhere in Israeli-controlled territory.
The Oslo Accords afforded the Palestinian Authority control over both security-related and civilian issues in Palestinian urban areas and only civilian control over Palestinian rural areas. The remainder of the territories, including Israeli settlements remain under exclusive Israeli control. The PA has police control within the territories that have been included.
The creation of the PA was a result of the Oslo accord. But at this time, the PA seeks full statehood, as this too, is also part of another agreement.
That the MILF substate will be granted by Noynoy a helluva set of government powers can be gleaned from what was stated by Jaafar. So “Mindanao Muslims” would not have control over the Department of Defense, but note that the control over the Philippine National Police has not been included in the exception, because the “BangsaMoro Authority” will have its own police force, which would be no different from the Oslo-agreed police force. This probably explains the absence in the Tokyo secret meeting of the PNP chief, whereas the DND chief was in attendance.
Foreign Affairs, as claimed by Jaafar, is not included either, but given the insistence of a Bangsa Moro national identity, this could mean that this new government body can issue passports that will bear a stamp of the Bangsa Moro nationality. Perhaps this was the reason the DFA was not included in the secret meet.
But a powerful Islamic substate’s policies will be dealing with Muslim and foreign governments, which would be more attuned to financial aid and loans on infrastructure projects and more besides, since the Transport and telecoms department is excluded the MILF control list, even if currency and coinage system, along with postage services, is included in the exemptions toward the creation of a Bangsa Moro substate, which would be easy to agree to, since it would be difficult, even for a substate, to have its own currency and coinage immediately.
But look at what Noynoy has given the soon to be established Bangsa Moro Authority: Control over Mindanao’s natural resources, since the Department of Natural Resources and Environment will have no control over this Islamic entity. The Justice system will be under the Muslims’ control, no doubt through their Shariah law, which translates to an independent Islamic judiciary. The Bangsa Moro entity will have control over the its own finance agency, which means it will have control over Muslim Mindanao customs and of course revenues. This translates to the substate having control over arms importation , with which it can build a stronger armory when the time comes for it to secede from the Philippine state and establish its own independent Islamic state, in a bloody fight. Recognition by the Muslim and foreign governments of the substate as an independent state will be no problem, since they would already have acknowledged the Bangsa Moro authority and will be working with this entity independently.
There will also be created by this Bangsa Moro Authority its own legislature, judiciary and executive branches, with a substate president and a parliament, whose head will be appointed by the head of the Moro government.
What, at this time, the MILF seeks and already has been granted by Noynoy, in all probability, is a de facto federal state, but disguised to go around the Constitution by this secretive and highly untransparent president, as a Bangsa Moro Authority operating under the Philippine government.
And as the Bangsa Moro Authority will be a substate, it will have full power and control over the ARMM, which will be reduced to just a meaningless constitutional autonmous region.
This secret deal, which will show likely up in an executive order creating the Bangsa Moro Authority, may be rejected by the high court if challenged, since the Constitution does not allow for the existence of a substate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Noy, MILF dead set on setting Muslim substate

By Mario J. Mallari
The Daily Tribune
President Aquino and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are dead set on establishing for the MILF a Bangsa Moro substate with great government power and authority and wants this approved through a congressional act to provide his still secret deal with the Moro rebels the cloak of legality and “constitutionality.”
In a press briefing yesterday after the 110th service anniversary of the Philippine National Police at Camp Crame, Aquino refused to disclose details of the secret meeting with MILF chairman Al Haj
Murad held last Thursday in Tokyo, although it could be gleaned that he would be seeking congressional approval for the secret deal forged with the rebel Muslim group, which could lead to an expansion or contraction of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, saying that a plebsicite will be called to get the people to decide on whether they agree to an expanded, or contracted ARMM.
The MILF has made it clear that it wants a substate with the Bangsa Moro people having a national identity, which could well be the secret deal forged with Aquino, and this will likely result in an entity called the Bangsa Moro Authority, patterned after the Palestinian Authority that currently governs in Israeli-controlled territory.
In a statement issued a day after the Tokyo secret meeting, MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said it wants a nation but not separate from the republic. “It must have power to govern but not above the power of the Philippine government.”
He said the MILF told the President it wants a Bangsamoro state not like the ARMM, which is inutile, explaining that under a sub-state, Mindanao Muslims will have control over major aspects of governance, except national defense, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, as well as postal services.
That Aquino is more than willing to grant the demands of the MILF, including designating Philippine territories it will control and govern, as well as a full police force, was evident when he let out that with the national identity of the Bangsamoro, “it won’t be purely a Muslim bloc, since included in the bloc will be the Lumads and Christians who are in areas that are located in what is called the Bangsamoro complex.”
This so-called BangsaMoro complex is currently made up of Muslim rebel captured territories which the MILF controls, complete with its police force.
Also, the MILF wants 20 to 30 percent revenue sharing, including yields from mineral exploration from Bangsamoro homeland, with the national government under its proposed substate in the ongoing peace negotiations.
MILF vice chairman Jaafar said the revenue sharing is part of the MILF’s quest for a substate different from the existing ARMM which he described as “fake autonomy.”
“We are not demanding for an independent state, what we want is a Bangsamoro State still under the government of the Republic of the Philippines,” said Jaafar.
“We are opting for full autonomy, not the kind of autonomy which is being implemented through the ARMM. We do not like this kind of autonomy and we will not accept this kind of autonomy because this is a fake autonomy, there is no power,” said Jaafar.
Jaafar said that the sub-state being pursued by the MILF is explained in details in the comprehensive compact agreement submitted by the secessionist group to the government.
“In the proposed comprehensive compact agreement, we hope for a percentage of 20 to 30 percent from the revenues and the exploration of mineral resources from our Bangsamoro homeland. There would be 20 to 30 percent sharing with the national government,” said Jaafar.
“We will be the ones giving the national government instead of our begging from the national government” stressed Jaafar.
Prior to the “secret” meeting between Aquino and Murad last Thursday in Tokyo, the MILF called on the government to stop oil exploration on Bangsamoro territories. At present, there are ongoing exploration and studies in the Sulu Sea.
Jaafar said the MILF believes that the establishment of a Bangsamoro substate is the true solution to the decades-long problem in Mindanao.
“Definitely,” replied Jaafar when asked if the MILF thinks that the putting up of a substate will finally address the Mindanao conflict, adding “not only do we think that, but we believe it will solve…This is the answer to the Bangsamoro problem.”
In its proposed compact agreement, Jaafar said the sub-state will be running like a parliamentary where the ruling party elects its chief minister, who will be acting as the head of the BangsaMoro state government, and would be forming the government composed of ministers.
However, Jaafar admitted that the MILF’s comprehensive compact agreement was not discussed in details during the “secret” meeting in Japan.
He said the proposed agreement, particularly the establishment of a substate, would be tackled during the next rounds of formal talks between the government and the MILF peace panels in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
“They did not discuss details in that meeting, only general terms and general issues were discussed,” said Jaafar.
Aquino denied that the talk with the MILF was the reason he called for the postponement of the elections in the ARMM which was supposed to be held this month.
Malaca├▒ang rejected demands for the full disclosure of the details of the secret meeting and asserted that whatever transpired should remain confidential for now.
In a press briefing Monday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Aquino government is not inclined to disclose the details of the Aquino-Murad meeting so as not jeopardize future talks between the government panel and that of the MILF.
“ We don’t want to release the details primarily because we don’t want or rather the peace panel does not want to negotiate through media. Anybody who is engaged in negotiations, sensitive negotiations, should realize that there’s a level of confidentiality or privacy that has to be respected between the parties. And, if you noticed also, the MILF peace panel has not released any details as well—that is the measure of respect we accord to each other,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said that administration critics should stop questioning the president’s action and his decision to personally meet Murad because this is a “measure of his resolve to find peace in Mindanao.”
And they don’t even need to worry about the details of the so-called “secret meeting” because this would be divulged anyway as the peace negotiations takes its course.
“The detractors are on the wrong side of history if they would just focus on these details and requiring them to release the details of the meeting. It will come out as we progress with the negotiations and we will inform you of the details of the negotiations as soon as Marvic Leonen has them. But suffice it to say that we’d like to emphasize we will be transparent when we are required to do so but right now negotiations are taking place and both parties respect the privacy of the negotiations,” Lacierda asserted.
And whatever agreement that may come out of the peace negotation would require the approval of Congress, Aquino said in a separate interview shortly after the 110th service anniversary of the Philippine National Police at Camp Crame, Aquino was still stingy in divulging details on his secret meeting with Murad.
“ It will take congressional action,” Aquino said adding that whatever agreement that would concern the people of the ARMM would require a plebiscite before it can even be implemented.
“I’m really hard-pressed to put the details here, at this point, there is still no agreement. I do not want to say that I am boxing this in. The details have to be with with Congress that will take congressional action.”
Aquino also refuted claims that his meeting with Murad was the reason he called for the postponement of the elections in the ARMM which was supposed to be held this month and reiterated that the postponement was to enable his administration to deliver the reforms he wanted to implement in the ARMM, but admitted that the talks with the MILF could help in the process of reforming the systemic corruption in the region.
“ I would like to think that they (MILF) will be cooperative as far as improving the situation especially in the ARMM and in Mindanao in particular in the way they defined this for all Bangsamoro people,” he said.