Monday, April 30, 2012

Financial help for ‘poor’ Demetrio Vicente

April 23, 2012

Demetrio Vicente
By offering financial assistance to Demetrio Vicente so he could transfer in his name the 3,114 -square meter lot he purchased from Mrs.Cristina Corona, a private defense lawyer would seem to bolster the prosecu­tion’s case that it was a simulated sale.
Questions were raised as to why after more than 20 years the prop­erty is still in the name of Mrs. Co­rona although Vicente claims he has in his possession the absolute deed of sale of the transaction. Vicente when cross examined said he didn’t have the P200,000 needed to transfer the property in his name.
Eyebrows were raised as the de­fense tried to prove the property was no longer the Coronas which was not declared in his SALN.
Some observers from the gallery also wondered why Vicente did not sell at least 500 square meters of the large tract of land to defray the cost of transfer. The 20 -year de­lay in the transfer of title to Vicente could only draw the conclusion that it still belonged to the Coronas and the sale was just simulated to con­ceal its true ownership. This is the contention of the prosecution that all along there was a conspiracy to conceal the chief justice’s assets and real worth.
The fact that Vicente actually lives on the property where he grows bonsai plants as a hobby does not preclude the assumption he was allowed to build a house and live there in exchange for his acquies­cence to an apocryphal transaction.
Question is : Would Mrs. Co­rona allow the transfer of title to her husband’s cousin even if somebody advances the money and pay the P200,000 transfer fee? Only Cristina Corona can answer this vexing ques­tion if and when she decides to take the witness stand .
Demetrio now wants to sell the Marikina property and move to San Mateo where he said real estate taxes are lower. But to sell the property he bought from Mrs. Corona would re­quire that he first tranfer the title to his name. If Vicente pushes through with the title transfer, it would mean Cris-tina Corona would really have to sign over the property that has remained in her name all these years. Will she or will there be another legal subterfuge?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lagman’s head for Enrile’s vote

April 23, 2012

‘Tuwid na Daan has been set aside.. Right now, it’s realpolitik.’
Gus Lagman
POOR Gus Lagman. He didn’t know what hit him.
Never did he imagine that we would be collateral damage in President Aquino’s rabid pursuit to make Gloria Arroyo accountable for her crimes against the Filipino people.
As a commissioner in the Commission on Election, never did it cross Lagman’s mind that he would be a factor in the impeachment against Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, which is related to Aquino’s crusade against Arroyo.
Last week, Communications Strategy Secretary Ricky Carandang announced that the President would not issue an ad-interim appointment for Lagman, who has not been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, chaired by Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile because they have been informed by CA members that “ it will be difficult, if not impossible, to confirm him.”
Carandang denied that the decision not to re-appoint Lagman in the Comelec had anything to do with the Corona impeachment, being presided by Enrile.
Of course, no one believes that. The choice was between Lagman and Enrile.
Enrile wants Lagman’s head for allegedly shaving two million of his votes and that of other senatorial candidates of the Grand Allliance for Democracy, the opposition party, in the 1987 elections in favor of the candidates of President Cory Aquino’s party.
Lagman then was as the one in charge of the automated parallel count of the National Movement for Free Elections.
Lagman found Enrile’s accusations preposterous because the official count was done by Comelec headed then by Christian Monsod and had members known for their integrity like Haydee Yorac.
Lagman, in his letter to friends, said, “Malacañang explained to me that they thought it best not to renew my appointment in order to save me from having to go through the ordeal of a confirmation hearing where I could be rejected.
“I truly appreciate their concern and, initially, I also thought that that would be best. However, after thinking about it the last few days, I am now convinced that I would much prefer to be given my day in court, i.e., go through the confirmation process despite the risk of a rejection. “
No way. Malacañang won’t dare antagonize Enrile, whose vote in the Corona impeachment is crucial.
Malacañang needs 16 votes to convict Corona, who needs eight votes to block his conviction. Now, Malacañang can be assured of eight votes from Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Panfilo Lacson, Sergio Osmeña III, Teofisto Guingona, III, Antonio Trillanes IV and Edgardo Angara.
If they get Enrile, it is expected that they would also get the votes of those known to be close to the Senate President: Gregorio Honasan, Jinggoy Estrada, and Tito Sotto.
The only vote that Corona is assured of is Joker Arroyo.
The votes of the rest Manny Villar, Pia Cayetano, Alan Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Lito Lapid will require Malacañang’s persuasive powers to get them.
It is clear, therefore, that Malacañang cannot afford to lose Enrile.
The Movement for Good Governance, a civil society group that supported Aquino, headed by former Economic Planning Secretary Solita Collas-Monsod and former Finance Undersecretary Milwida M. Guevara wrote the President asking that he reconsider Lagman’s Comelec appointment.
They said: “Gus has served our country well. He should be allowed to defend himself publicly from any accusation on his integrity and competence and the President should be the first to uphold that right by reappointing him and sending out the message to his allies in the Congress that they better have valid grounds to reject him.”
They reminded him of his “Tuwid na Daan” mantra: “Does not “daan na matuwid” also mean that those who are willing to serve the government and have the integrity and competence to do so should be protected from the dirt of politics or the whims of politicians that cannot stand critical public scrutiny? Instead, Gus was unceremoniously set aside even if he was willing to be subjected to the harshest of possible treatment by the Commission of Appointments because he was confident that he could answer the accusations before the public.
“Are not people like him worthy of presidential support? Isn’t this a good opportunity to test the efficacy of the system of confirmation which is supposed not only to safeguard the public interest from unworthy nominees but is also designed to lay bare for the public to see whenever the process is used for self-aggrandizement and political blackmail?”
These people do not understand. “Tuwid na Daan” has been set aside for awhile. That will again be bannered again when the President delivers his next State of the Nation Address.
Right now, it’s realpolitik.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Only way to go: Fight corruption

April 23, 2012

‘President Aquino wants the independence of the Court restored. There is no way of doing it except the conviction of Chief Justice Corona.’
PRESIDENT Aquino is slowly but steadily being blamed for what critics say is his failure to make the economy grow. That is not exactly groundless. But an economic miracle cannot happen in less than two years of his watch.
What appears to be the President’s battle cry is eliminate corruption that has been the hallmark of Gloria Arroyo’s nine-year no-mandate presidency. If he succeeds – there is no reason why he should not – everything in the economy should fall in place.
There would hardly be any need to lure local and foreign investments. The elimination of corruption and sending to jail the corrupt is the only way to level the playing field.
Not too many realized that the President is clearly determined to get the Senate to convict Chief Justice Renato C. Corona as the only way Gloria Arroyo may be held liable for numerous cases of plunder she now faces. Only the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Corona can save her. But she should not be saved. She must be tried and tried fairly.
People feel that may not happen for as long as the Supreme Court, packed with her appointees, headed by Chief Justice Renato Corona, majority of whom will be in office a year or so after Mr. Aquino steps down in 2016.
There is an absolute necessity to show the Filipino and the world that democracy in this country can be made genuine and truly functional by sending a perceived corrupt leader behind the slammer.
We need not recite the number of corrupt leaders of the world who were jailed in punishment for their grievous offenses that halted the development of the economy.
Their names are too many to mention here.
Suffice it to say that the President Aquino is supported by his people in bringing to reality his lone battle cry of “Matuwid na Daan” or loosely translated – honest and clean government.
The surveys on his acceptance prove him right. His rating remains high while the same survey suggests that 73 percent of the people want Mr. Corona convicted in the impeachment trial.
It is a simple doctrine of “vox populi, vox Dei”, the voice of the people is the voice of God. The Supreme Court itself used this doctrine in legitimizing the regime of Gloria Arroyo even while Joseph Estrada was still in Malacañang and was not even on leave.
Strengthened by uncontroverted evidence of Corona’s wrongdoing, the senators sitting as judges in the impeachment court, may apply the same doctrine in convicting the Chief Justice.
Conviction is a godly duty. It is good politics. It benefits the country.
Ordinary mortals like us look up to the leader for guidance. We need to see a leader, not necessarily the most brilliant of minds, but one who is undoubtedly sincere of purpose and possessed with a big heart.
This is what we see – so far anyway – in Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III. He has not been distracted from the mission of fighting corruption. That means trying Gloria Arroyo in a Supreme Court headed by someone whose only duty is to defend the Constitution at all costs, not to ensure that Gloria Arroyo walks from the heinous crimes she is accused of.
I am prepared to welcome the acquittal of Mrs. Arroyo by the Supreme Court under another Chief Justice, not one who knows only too well that be lent himself to the “violation” of the Constitution by his peers by accepting a midnight appointment.
The ruling penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin removes the respect of people that the Supreme Court is right even when it is wrong. The ruling is patently wrong. But since it has been promulgated, the only way to undo it is remove from office the person who benefited most from it – Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. This is not evidence in the impeachment court. But it is moral reason to convict.
His conviction will ensure the fair trial of Gloria Arroyo. In this sense, Gloria Arroyo is also under trial.
Nothing makes the economy grow better than equal justice for all. We have to see a former president tried fairly not under a Chief Justice she picked to ensure she walks from her various alleged heinous crimes.
The choice of Mr. Corona, made possible by violating the Constitutional prohibition against making appointments to the judiciary during a national election period, is clear proof of Mrs. Arroyo’s tacit admission that she may be found guilty by a Supreme Court loyal only to the Constitution and not to her.
There lies the necessity of convicting the Chief Justice. Clearly for want of anything to say in his defense, Mr. Corona repeatedly asserts that President Aquino is out to destroy the independence of the Judiciary.
When will he and his supporters ever understand that it was he and Gloria Arroyo who destroyed the integrity and independence of the Highest Court? President Aquino wants the independence of the Court restored.
There is no way of doing it except the conviction of Chief Justice Corona. He did not participate in arriving at the ruling that Gloria Arroyo can make an appointment to the judiciary during a prohibited period.
He did not have to. He knew that he and Gloria Arroyo would be the biggest beneficiaries of that decision. If the senator judges acquit the Chief Justice they would have lent themselves to the complete deconstruction of the judiciary.
They will have to answer to the people, 73 percent of whom want Mr. Corona convicted.
If, as Mr. Corona declares, President Aquino wants the judiciary’s independence destroyed, 73 percent of the people are just as wrong. The doctrine of “vox populi, vox Dei” becomes inapplicable.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lawmakers: Who’s afraid to ax Arroyo?

April 23, 2012

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 

Two lawmakers have wondered why President Benigno Aquino III’s allies were suddenly gun-shy about suspending former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the House of Representatives after they had acted so swiftly to  impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list Representative Antonio Tinio said the President should mobilize his allies in the House to suspend Arroyo, now a representative from  Pampanga, “to serve as a test of this administration’s commitment to prosecute the former president without wavering and without compromise.”
“The swift impeachment of Chief Justice Corona has shown that Malacañang can muster the numbers in the name of its anticorruption campaign,” Tinio said.
Aquino allies in the House signed in less than a day an impeachment complaint against Corona after the Supreme Court issued  a temporary restraining order on an administrative travel ban imposed on Arroyo.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said there was no reason for the House not to heed the appeal of the  Office of the Ombudsman which, through its Special Prosecutor, filed last week a petition asking the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division to suspend Arroyo as the representative of Pampanga’s second district pending the resolution of a case against her in the controversial $329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE deal during her term.
“I think anybody can be suspended in Congress as long as there is a two-thirds vote,” said Colmenares. Both Colmenares and Tinio belong to the administration coalition.
Current and former allies of Arroyo have come out to contest the calls for her suspension. Maguindanao Representative Simeon Datumanong  said that under the Constitution, only Congress with two-thirds of its members voting, could decide on the suspension of one of its members.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the House would defy the Sandiganbayan should it grant the Ombudsman’s appeal to suspend Arroyo.
In a phone interview, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said that suspending one of the  members involved a process which would start with a complaint filed in the ethics committee. Since Arroyo’s pending cases involved her actions as the former president, Rodriguez said the ethics committee had no jurisdiction over her case.
Rodriguez also said that Congress could only act on cases that have been decided with finality by the Supreme Court, noting that a Sandiganbayan ruling was still subject to an appeal in the high court.
Only 25 behind her
The lower house has 286 members and  only 191 votes would be required to suspend Arroyo, who has less than 25 members still behind her.
Tinio noted that House leaders had been boasting about getting more than the 188 signatures needed to  impeach Corona in December and that they had even formed a Movement 188 to show their unity.
This was why Tinio found it perplexing that the majority coalition would be hesitant to take direct aim at the main target of past impeachments.
“Gloria Arroyo took the unprecedented step, as a sitting president, of running for and securing a congressional seat precisely so that she could avail of the institutional privileges and protection of the House once she left Malacañang. The suspension of Rep. Gloria Arroyo is a political, not legal, matter to be decided by votes on the floor rather than the citation of rules. In so doing, the House will send out the message that it will not provide sanctuary to the principal perpetrator of electoral sabotage, graft and corruption, and human rights violations under the previous administration,” said Tinio.
Arroyo has denied all the charges against her.
Rather switch than fight
The Liberal Party-led coalition in the House includes former Arroyo allies who had switched to the ruling party or formed the new National Unity Party. But Colmenares said their previous links were not enough to explain why they would be reluctant to suspend Arroyo. “I believe that they are afraid of setting a precedent in Congress and effectively ending its status as a sanctuary for criminals,” he said.
The six-page petition of acting Prosecution Bureau IV Director Rabendranath Uy argued that suspension was mandatory for officials facing valid graft charges. Arroyo is currently under hospital detention for a nonbailable offense, electoral sabotage. The Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections accused her of manipulating the results of the 2007 senatorial elections in Mindanao.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

63% of Pinoys think Corona has hidden wealth: SWS

April 23, 2012


MANILA, Philippines – Six out of 10 Filipinos believe Chief Justice Renato Corona has hidden wealth, the latest Social Weather Stations survey revealed Monday.
The survey conducted last March 10-13 found 63% of Filipinos agree that Corona has hidden wealth “based on the undeclared money and assets in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).”
Twenty-four percent of respondents said they were undecided if they agree or disagree with the statement while 12% of respondents said they disagree that Corona has hidden wealth.
The survey showed that 58% of Filipinos believe Corona intended to help former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband to flee the country to elude the charges that she is facing. Only 17% of Filipinos believe Corona intended to help Mrs. Arroyo while 23% said they are unsure if Corona intended to help the former President.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believe Corona accepted favors such as discounts for condominiums and plane tickets, 13% said they do not believe while 28% said they were unsure.
The survey said 73% of Filipinos believe the Senate should give a guilty verdict in the impeachment trial against Corona, while 25% said he should be acquitted.
A total of 45% of respondents said a People Power revolt should be used to force Corona out of office if he is acquitted in the impeachment trial. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they are unsure if a People Power revolt should be used to remove Corona if he is acquitted while 28% said they oppose a People Power revolt.
A BusinessWorld report quoted defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador as questioning the timing of the survey.
“We had just started the presentation of our evidence when the survey was taken so I don’t think that it is a reasonable indicator of public opinion,” he said.
Atty. Ramon Esguerra said the respondents had no “concrete evidence” on which to base their opinions and that ousting Mr. Corona would be an act of sedition.
“If media wants to continue creating a perception that [Mr. Corona] is by his detractors’ appreciation damaged goods, so be it,” Mr. Esguerra said.
“The plan to take over the Supreme Court and oust CJ, if done, is sedition and may even constitute direct assault, both crimes under the Revised Penal Code. Where then is law and order that we as a people aspire for?”
Defense spokesperson Atty. Karen Olivia Jimeno insisted that apart from upholding freedom of expression, surveys have little value in the case.
The March 2012 Social Weather Survey was conducted from March 10-13, 2012 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The survey has sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for area percentages.  With a report from BusinessWorld
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GOD is not...

GOD is not BDO, but he finds ways;
Not SM but He's got it all for you;
Not LIPOVITAN but He gets you going;
Not REXONA but He will never let you down;
Not GLOBE but He's making great things possible;
Not Metrobank but in HIM you are in good hands;
Lalong di SIYA REBISCO, pero pangako, pag SIYA kasama mo, ang sarap ng "feeling" mo.

On diplomas and jobs

April 18, 2012

By Val G. Abelgas
More than half a million students graduate from more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the Philippines every year. Only about 30 to 40 percent of them would find any kind of employment, and only about 5 to 10 percent would be employed in jobs that match their course, while close to 60 percent would join the growing ranks of the unemployed.
And yet, every single high school graduate dreams of earning that much-sought after college diploma and every single parent would work his bones off to send his children to college. In the Philippines, a college diploma is the measure of one’s worth in life and the measure of a parent’s success in raising his child.
A high school graduate, however poorly he has passed through the four years of secondary education, attends whichever college or university is willing to accept his tuition money, coasts along through four years, earns his diploma and finds out, to his dismay and disappointment, that he could not find the job for which he studied and for which his parents spent thousands of hard-earned pesos.
If he has good grades, he would be lucky to join the some 10 percent who would get into the profession that matched their degree, or he can become one of the lucky ones who end up as call center agents. Otherwise, he can land a job as a salesclerk in a department store, a part-time worker selling phone cards in malls, a minor clerk in a small office, or any other job that would otherwise need just a six-month training in a vocational or technical school.
Worse, he can be one of the close to 300,000 new graduates who will join the growing ranks of the unemployed.
Many of these graduates can’t even find a job in the overseas labor market because many of these jobs require special skills that do not need a four-year college diploma and only requires a six-month, or two-year training at the most in a vocational school.
In the United States, because of the high cost of education and the strict and tough admission requirements of universities, many high school graduates attend community colleges that have two-year associate degree course or vocational and technical course. This way, many students do not have to accumulate thousands of dollars in student loans or force their parents to get money from their retirement funds just so they can get a bachelor’s degree that do not guarantee them success in the workplace anyway.
In fact, at the onset of the recession, many people found out that it was the vocational and technical courses that remained in demand and paid higher wages, such as mechanics, X-ray technicians and medical assistants.
An influential financial guru, Suzie Orman, said “college is worth it if you plan on being a doctor or lawyer. Technical or vocational programs give you a better return on investment. Other financial advisers suggest that if you are in the bottom 40% of your high school graduating class, forget about college, you probably won’t graduate or you won’t do well anyway.
Seems a sound advice. But would Filipino students and parents care to listen?
During the term of President Marcos, the Department of Education implemented the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) whose purpose was to determine if a student would qualify for college admission, and to encourage those who would not pass to enroll in vocational course instead. If the NCEE were implemented properly, it could have saved millions of students billions of pesos squandered on a college course that didn’t give them desired jobs anyway, and perhaps it could have stopped diploma mills from mushrooming and operating further.
In 1994, then Education Secretary Raul Roco scrapped the program, saying he was in favor of allowing every high school graduate the opportunity to get a college education. I consider this move one of the very few mistakes committed by the highly respected Roco in his colorful government career.
There is now a move to revive the NCEE, but Education Secretary Lesli Lapus is not keen on the idea. A national debate on the proposal to revive the NCEE should be started in Congress, instead of these congressmen arguing over who and how much should be given pork barrel funds.
The bottom line is that the government should start re-assessing the country’s education program. Our leaders are obviously aware that hundreds of thousands of college graduates are not finding jobs and swelling the ranks of the unemployed, and yet nothing has been done to correct the situation. If they can’t provide jobs to college graduates, why not do something to make sure only the qualified students attend college and encourage the others to take up vocational and technical courses that are what the country needs, after all? Why not assess and close down the hundreds of colleges and universities that only churn our diplomas that are not worth anything in the job market?
The Department of Education should start an information drive among students and parents explaining the advantages of taking up the more sought vocational and technical courses. College education is desired, but if the students are not qualified and the parents are not capable financially, vocational training may be the way to go for many of them.
And will somebody please tell Filipino students that nursing, business administration, and hotel and restaurant management (HRM) graduates are no longer in demand in the Philippines or abroad?
Records show that there are at present more than 400,000 nurses who are not gainfully employed, with 80,000 board passers joining the ranks each year. Add to these the 420,000 students that are enrolled in over 2,000 nursing schools in the country, only 40 percent of which will pass the board exams, and you will see why nursing is no longer the desired profession in the Philippines and yet hundreds of thousands continue to enroll in the course.
Many of the unemployed nursing graduates, just like many college graduates, end up in the country’s call centers, a job that perhaps require just a one-month training at the most.
The government should start redirecting the Filipino students’ enthusiasm to courses that are not only in demand in the country and abroad, but which the country needs more, such as agriculture courses, geology, mining sciences, and software engineering, the enrolment of which are low but which are in demand.
A college diploma is every Filipino’s dream, but it is never a guarantee to success. One has to make the right career choice to succeed. And the parents, the teachers and the government have the duty to help students make the right choice.