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Monday, December 31, 2012

Aquino vows stronger military forces


P75 billion over five years is way too small an amount to upgrade the armed forces to be able to defend our territory.  With China’s planned implementation of its “board and seize” regulation in the South China Sea beginning January 1, 2013, the Philippines is helpless in asserting its claims to the Spratly islands and the Panatag Shoal. The Philippine government should invest at least US$10 billion to acquire squadrons of jet fighters and a fleet of warships to defend its territory.  What the P75 billion appropriation is earmarked for is just to upgrade helicopters and add additional cargo planes.  It’s time for President Aquino to face reality and act before it is too late. — PERRY DIAZ

Aquino vows stronger military forces

By Joyce Pangco Panares  
Manila Standard Today
President Benigno Aquino III has vowed to roll out a stronger and more capable Armed Forces of the Philippines with a P75 billion budget for hard power upgrade over the next five years.
In what officials described as a “scaled down” celebration of the AFP’s 77th anniversary on Friday, Mr. Aquino said the modernization fund will put an end to jokes about the military being a “poor cowboy” who does not have the means to fight his enemies.
“The new AFP Modernization Act is key to building a modern, stronger, and more reliable Armed Forces,” he said.
“Prepare the tarmacs now for new planes that would soar in our skies. Prepare the docks for our modern Navy ships that would protect our waters. It is time to retire the antique trucks being used by the Philippine Army and replace these with faster and more modern tanks and trucks. And of course, we will roll out high-caliber firearms and force protection equipment to further the AFP’s capability to protect Filipinos,” the President said.
AFP planners had identified 39 projects to be covered by the revised modernization program.
The Air Force will acquire 21 additional UH-1B multipurpose helicopters to replace the Vietnam War-vintage UH-1H (Huey) helicopters and 10 attack helicopters in the next two years.
The modernization program would also include the purchase of three medium-lift aircraft to complement the Air Force’s C-130 Hercules cargo planes.
The measure also exempts certain major defense purchases such as aircraft, vessels, tanks, armored vehicles, communications equipment and high powered firearms from public bidding.
The new law also grants additional funding sources from public-private partnerships entered into by the defense department of the AFP and exempts from value added tax and customs duties the sale of weapons, equipment, and ammunition to the AFP.
The president afterwards handed awards to 12 soldiers and civilian employees for their achievements, gallantry and bravery in combat.
Officials toned down Friday’s celebration in deference to the victims of Typhoon Pablo.
The celebration did away with the traditional fly-by of the Philippine Air Force.
It paraded motorized, mounted, and marching troops proceeded sans the humanitarian assistance and disaster response team and equipment, which are currently deployed in Mindanao for the relief and retrieval operations.
The celebration, though, showcased other military assets and equipment and thrilled the crowd with a skydiving show.
The AFP said it also canceled its traditional ball and dinner in honor of former chiefs of staff and dignitaries.
AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa said with the scaled down celebration and simple Christmas parties, the AFP were able to save 2 million, which he said will help augment the initial P3 million released to help and assist the victims of typhoon Pablo.
Dellosa said this is on top of the P19 million worth of donations for the typhoon victims gathered by the AFP General Headquarters.
In a related development, newly-appointed Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Jose Alano said that the Navy planned to enhance its alliance with foreign navies to strengthen its capability to protect the country’s territorial waters.
Alano, who assumed the top Navy post on Wednesday, said a strong military partnership with foreign navy allies was necessary “to protect our people and our territory.”
Alano replaced former Navy Chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama who vowed out of military service after reaching mandatory retirement age of 56 Wednesday. Alano and Pama were batchmates in the Philippine Military Academy Class of 79.
“We will further enhance engagements with our counterparts, particularly those who share common interests, values and beliefs, of peace and stability in the region, of freedom of navigation, of respect of rights of all nations, and of peaceful resolution through observance of the rule of law and due process,” Alano said.
“We will continue with our strategic partnership to make the Philippine Navy a strong and credible Navy,” he added.
As this developed, reports said that the US planned to deploy some of its newest warships and other high-tech weapons to the Asia-Pacific as part of its “pivot” in the region.
The report said the Pentagon will send P-8 submarine-hunting aircraft, cruise missiles, Virginia-class submarines, coastal combat ships and F-35 fighter jets to Asian ports and bases in coming years.
Washington has been pushing for the pivot in Asia amid concerns over China’s growing military power and its assertive stance in territorial disputes with its neighbors.
Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia are locked in territorial disputes with China and have sought to bolster military ties to Washington to counter Beijing’s influence. With Francisco Tuyay

Incoming Japan leader vows no compromise on islands


Source: South China Morning Post
Japan’s incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe speaks tot he media in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: Bloomberg
Japan’s incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his country’s claim to islands at the centre of a dispute with China, where state media called on him to repair bilateral relations frayed by the disagreement.
A day after his Liberal Democratic Party reclaimed power in a landslide, Abe called China “an essential partner for economic growth.” At the same time, he insisted that the sovereignty of the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, wasn’t an issue.
China’s media response to the election ranged from cautious to stern, with the English-language Global Times saying Chinese leaders must take a “firm stance” toward him. Bilateral relations are at their lowest point since 2005 over the disputed islands, with China stepping up sea and air patrols, and Abe seeking greater control over the chain.
“If this friction creates a spark that leads to a major showdown, that would be unwise and tactless,” Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University in Beijing, said in a phone interview. “Maybe Shinzo Abe’s victory will offer a moment for both sides to reconsider what sort of compromise could be reached.”
The LDP, which held power for a half-century of almost unbroken control until it was ousted in 2009, yesterday swept aside Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan. The result ensures Abe will replace Noda, returning him to the office he left in 2007 after a year due to illness.
The idea of Abe as Japan’s leader “has left quite a few people wondering whether Sino-Japanese ties will suffer further setbacks,” Lu Chao, director of the Border Area Research Institute, wrote in the China Daily on Monday.
At a nationally televised press conference, Abe called the relationship with China “one of the most important for Japan,” while adding that “we are not in a situation where we could hold a summit straight away or I could visit China.”
Abe has called for “unlimited” easing by the Bank of Japan to combat more than a decade of deflation. That policy risks lowering the credit rating of Japanese government bonds, the China Economic Information Daily said.
Japan’s incoming leader, the seventh in six years, faces a “rotten” economic situation and needs to improve Japan’s relations with other nations, according to a commentary published in the People’s Daily, written by Zhong Sheng, who wasn’t identified.
The LDP’s manifesto maintains Japan should step up control over the disputed islands and consider stationing officials there permanently. It also promises to boost the presence of police, coastguards and military personnel on Japan’s southwestern islands in general. Abe wants to increase defence spending and change the constitution to legitimise Japan’s maintenance of armed forces, reversing postwar pacifist policy.
Japan should seriously handle issues related to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are memorialised, the islands dispute and the country’s constitution, according to commentary in the People’s Daily.
Some Japanese political officials behaved “extremely irresponsibly” during the election and used a sluggish domestic economy to arouse nationalist sentiment, the People’s Daily said, without naming them.
“Once Abe takes office, China should let him know about its firm stance,” the Global Times said today. “Only with such pressure will Abe hold China in esteem, otherwise he will think China is in a weak position.”
Still, Lu in the China Daily wrote that Abe is an experienced statesman and may seek to restore Sino-Japanese relations.
“We cannot choose our neighbours but we can work with them to create a better neighbourhood,” he wrote. “Adopting good-neighbourly policies is the common aspiration of wise leaders and making enemies out of neighbours is bad diplomacy that can never enjoy popular support.”
Abe worked to mended ties with China during his initial time in office by heading there on his first foreign trip. Ties had chilled during the previous five years due to former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visits to Yasukuni.
In order to maintain the “peaceful root” planted in past years, the LDP should face up to the past, respect the post-war international order, and stop the expansion of the nation’s extreme-rightist force, by Xinhua news agency said in an article today written by Feng Wuyong, who wasn’t identified.

Look who’s talking


By REY O. ARCILLA
MALAYA
‘Pray tell, how can the Philippines be a trouble-maker when she only seeks to resolve the West Philippine Sea issue through peaceful and diplomatic means and resort to international law?’
FIRST, he cries Uncle (Sam). Now, he is crying Ojisan (uncle in Japanese).
Foreign Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario recently told the Financial Times that the Philippines supports a rearmed Japan. (She is already heavily armed, by the way).
The question is did he clear his statement with his boss President Noynoy Aquino? Washington? I doubt it.
The implication of Del Rosario’s statement is that Japan will have to ditch her pacifist constitution.
Has he forgotten it was the US which imposed that constitution on Japan? If he thinks Washington appreciates his statement, he has another think coming.
To begin with, does he have any doubt that the US pivot to this region is enough to blunt China’s seemingly aggressive designs?
Does he doubt the US’ capability to contain China that he thinks US still needs a rearmed Japan?
Has Del Rosario not heard of the US amendments to the US-Japan mutual defense treaty that left no doubt about US commitment to defend Japan in case of a foreign power’s aggression? (He should cite that fact to the Americans the next time he meets with them. Are we less of an ally that our mutual defense treaty with her did not deserve the same treatment?)
As our foreign minister, I wish Del Rosario would refrain from making such reckless statements that only fan the flames of an already simmering dispute. I hope he is aware of the old adage that when elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.
As the Financial Times commented: “Why can’t Philippines strengthen their own armed forces and bargaining power instead of always relying on others (including those who has a war crime history) to do the heavy lifting for them?”
Touche`!
***
China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the China Daily news agency, called the Philippines a “trouble-maker”.
Excuse me?! Look who’s talking…
Isn’t China the one now occupying Panatag Shoal which is owned by the Philippines, based on all norms of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of which China is a signatory?
Isn’t China the one violating the principles enshrined in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) of which China is also a signatory?
Pray tell, is it China’s policy to honor international commitments in the breach?
Isn’t China the one that asserts she owns the whole of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) on the basis of an imaginary nine-dash line?
Isn’t China the one that issued e-passports with a map that includes the whole WPS?
Isn’t China the one that says she will board, search and expel foreign ships that ply the WPS?
Isn’t China the one that has been issuing statements that smack of doublespeak… that she is not out to provoke but keeps doing provocative things?
Pray tell, how can the Philippines be a trouble-maker when she only seeks to resolve the WPS issue through peaceful and diplomatic means and resort to international law?
***
He’s a man after my heart… I refer to newly retired Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama.
According to the report of Roy C. Mabasa of the Manila Daily Bulletin datelined December 12, Pama said that during a meeting in Honolulu of the Mutual Defense Board (the report did not specify when the meeting took place), the Philippine side virtually told their American counterparts that with or without the US, the Philippines will take a stand on the WPS dispute.
Pama said he told then AFP Chief Eduardo Oban Jr. “to do away with the agenda of the meeting” and be frank with their counterparts. “We told them ‘let’s not talk about the wish list. We are not looking at Santa Claus. This is where we are coming from and we just want to know if you are onboard’.”
Mabasa also reported that according to Pama, they told their US counterparts that if they do not come onboard, “we will have to do it alone because, in the first place, it (WPS) is ours.”
Pama said the US eventually agreed to the Philippine military’s wish list “because those are the things that we need for us to be a reliable partner in whatever challenges that will exist.”
How I wish we had more Pamas, not only in the military but also in our civilian hierarchy!
***
Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and other celebrity members in the House of Representatives voted against the RH bill.
If they are truly honest (don’t forget, it’s a sin to tell a lie!) many, if not all, of those celebrities will admit they practice some form of birth control. Seeing as they are mainly moneyed people, they have no problem with being “responsible” parents. They have easy access to different methods to prevent pregnancy. The poor don’t, that’s why they tend to multiply. And that’s why they remain poor.
***
There has been a lot of speculation as to why North Korea decided to launch at this time a rocket that put a satellite in orbit – ranging from marking Kim Jong-Un’s first year in power to his grandfather’s 100th birth anniversary.
My take is that China ordered North Korea to launch the rocket to divert the world’s attention from the former’s recent provocative moves in the WPS.
And North Korea, China’s puppet, would hardly be able to resist, especially considering the famine that regularly visits her during the winter months.
***
Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):
1) Filing of charges against of­ficials of the National Food Administration (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency.
Ironically, after two and a half years of inaction on Noynoy’s part, his erstwhile appointee as head of the NFA is now under Senate investigation for alleged anomalies during his stewardship of the agency.
2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia.
3) Facilitating the investigation of rampant cor­ruption in the military and police establishments.
4) Expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos
***
Today is the 226th day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
Why has Noynoy not signed the bill passed by Congress on enforced disappearances until now? Is he afraid of the military’s reaction?
***
From an internet friend:
A man went to church one day and afterward, he stopped to shake the preacher’s hand. He said, “Preacher, I’ll tell you, that was a damned fine sermon. Damned good!”
The preacher said, “Thank you sir, but I’d rather you didn’t use profanity.”
The man said, “I was so damned impressed with that sermon I put five thousand dollars in the offering plate!”
The preacher said, “No shit?”
***
Email: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Senate bets need P100 M for TV ad campaign


AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR 
By William M. Esposo 
The Philippine Star 
The Pulse Asia updated survey on the 2013 senate race tells a grim story for those candidates outside of the Magic 12. Without intending to pop any senatorial candidate’s party balloon, it’s a grim story because there might be only two to three slots to compete for, four at most.
The December 5 release of the SWS BusinessWorld survey didn’t vary much from that of the Pulse Asia’s poll. In the SWS-BusinessWorld poll, there were ranking variations but the top 8 remained the same.
In other words, the top 8 in the Pulse Asia roster seem immovable, barring a major scandal or expose against one of them.
Listed in the Pulse Asia November 23 ‑29 Survey are: (1) Chiz Escudero, 74.1; (2) Loren Legarda, 69.3; (3) Alan Peter Cayetano, 60.1; (4) JV Ejercito, 57; (5) Jacky Enrile, 53.2; (6) Cynthia Villar, 52.2; (7) Koko Pimentel, 50.2; (8) Gringo Honasan, 44.9; (9) Sonny Trillanes, 43.2; (10) Nancy Binay, 41.3; (11) Sonny Angara 40.8; and (12) Migz Zubiri, 40.5.
Trying to break into the winning 12 are: (13) Jamby Madrigal, 34.4; (14) Dick Gordon, 29.7; (15) Jun Magsaysay, 28.8; (16) Bam Aquino, 27.9; (17) Grace Poe, 24.7 and (18) Risa Hontiveros, 21.1. Among those ranking number 13 ‑ 18, my crystal ball tells me that Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe have the better chances to dislodge Migz Zubiri, Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay, the three most vulnerable in the Magic 12 as it stands today.
This forecast of a Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe landing among the top 12 is based on the assessment of their political capital, their capability to raise funds and their spotless records. There are no scandals hounding these three — unlike Migz Zubiri who is weighed down by questions about his 2007 victory. In the case of Sonny Angara, if the APECO (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority) issue snowballs, that could hurt his senate bid. Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe can overhaul the 12-point lead that Angara and Zubiri has over them.
Jun Magsaysay has done his father’s name proud and had a spotless record during the many years that he served as a congressman and senator. Despite all the roadblocks that the Gloria M. Arroyo (GMA) regime installed to derail his senate probe, Jun was able to develop a case on the Fertilizer Scam.
Bam Aquino carries the name of the strongest political brand in the country. It must be inputted that President Benigno S. Aquino (P-Noy) still enjoys high popularity and approval ratings. P-Noy doesn’t have to directly endorse Bam. Voters will appreciate Bam as a fruit from a very good family tree.
Grace Poe gets a lot of boost from the popularity of her late father, Fernando Poe Jr. In our most emotional nation, you cannot underestimate the impetus of a sympathy vote. Given the right political strategy and the bare minimum advertising money that will be required to operate a viable senatorial campaign — there are no reasons why Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe can’t land in the top 12. In fact, properly equipped, Jun Magsaysay and Bam Aquino are capable of rising higher than the 11th slot.
Any serious senatorial campaign must cope with the high cost of television advertising. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives now but it’s still free TV that best reaches those belonging to socio-economic classes D and E. The best way to make them appreciate your message is to tell it to them while they’re watching their favorite telenovelas or comedy shows.
Before the Pulse Asia and SWS polls were released, some folks were disputing the electability of Cynthia Villar. She proved them wrong. Her TV ads about providing jobs hit a sensitive nerve. In the 2010 Presidential Election, voter psychographic studies showed intense preference for candidates who can help them in a direct way. What can you do for me is what voters will be asking every candidate. Can you give me a job? Can you increase my income? Can you educate my children? Candidates will then have to position themselves according to these criteria in the voters’ minds.
Per my two friends, ad veterans Ernie Hernandez and Louie Rogacion, based on the allowable 120 minutes for each candidate on primetime TV advertising ‑ the cost reality is around P120 million. That’s only TV. Candidates like Jun Magsaysay and Bam Aquino might have to do more if they’re to dislodge those in the top 12. Migz Zubiri appreciates the value of TV ads and is already spending a lot on it before the start of the campaign.
It’s high time that Filipinos from the middle and lower middle class learn to contribute to the campaign of good, clean candidates. The biggest reason why the best and the brightest shy away from politics is because they feel they will have to steal to make up for the high cost of being elected. It’s best for our democracy that public officials are elected from the P100 contributions of 2 million voters than the present system where candidates owe their election to a few power brokers.
Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Should Japan Rearm to Counter Chinese Aggression?

SOURCE: LIGNET

Incoming Japanese premier Shinzo Abe arrives at a breakfast meeting with Japanese business leaders at a hotel in Tokyo the morning after he won the December 17 national elections. Abe is expected to take a harder line on China, and has said he’d favor changing the Japanese constitution to allow Japan to rearm. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
Recent statements by Philippine’s foreign minister in support of a rearmed Japan highlight Southeast Asia’s unease over China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to grab disputed territory. More interestingly, the statements suggest that the Philippines is hoping to form a unified front, comprised of well-armed allies, to counter Chinese imperialism.
It appears that multilateral action and the formation of a bloc of aligned nations bent on thwarting Chinese territorial claims will be the preferred means of addressing ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The pronouncements by Philippine officials will no doubt ruffle feathers in Beijing. The statements are also likely to boost support for hardliners in Tokyo who support a more robust Japanese military presence and suggest that the historical scars of the Japanese occupation during World War II are fading.
Background
A new Japanese constitution was written following the country’s unconditional surrender in World War II. The constitution was written with the intention of ensuring that Japan would be a pacifist nation. Article 9 of Japan’s 1947 constitution essentially prohibits Japan from reconstituting a standing military for offensive purposes and even goes so far as to reject the use of force as a means to resolve diplomatic disputes.
Japan has maintained a defensive military posture since World War II. It has been able to preserve a military capability through the creation of a Self Defense Force. The SDF is technically considered an extension of the national police force, even though it encompasses air, sea, and land divisions. The force, however, does not include nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers, or long-range bombers.
This has remained Japan’s status quo for more than 60 years, though there has been periodic discussion of amending the Japanese constitution. The issue most recently came to the fore in a December 9 article in the Financial Times that quoted Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario discussing the possibility and implications of a potentially rearmed Japan. In the interview, Del Rosario stated: “We would welcome that very much,” adding, “We are looking for balancing factors in the region and Japan could be a significant balancing factor.”
Del Rosario’s comments are significant because the Japanese occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945 remains a painful memory. As such, his explicit support of a rearmed Japan is a move away from this history to focus on present day security concerns.
Ongoing Chinese provocations, including a series of naval maneuvers near the Spratly Islands, have heightened tensions and concerns over the territorial integrity of the Philippines. The crux of this issue deals with the ownership of this group of roughly 100 uninhabited coral reefs and island chains near the Philippines and Malaysia. The Chinese aggressively and steadfastly assert ownership, eyeing the potentially lucrative offshore oil and gas deposits off the islands’ banks.
Another territorial claim, the Scarborough Shoal or Chinese-named Huangyan Island, has also garnered international attention due to numerous clashes between the Chinese and Filipino fishermen who fish in the surrounding waters. While there have been no military exchanges between the two, naval vessels have patrolled the region and tensions remain high.
Similarly, Japan faces its own maritime disputes with China, the most contentious of which is competing claims of ownership over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, or as the Chinese call them, the Diaoyu Islands.
In November, the disputes over territorial rights in the South China Sea, specifically between China and the Philippines, flared up at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. Efforts to resolve these disputes failed for a second consecutive ASEAN summit.
During the final days of the November summit, confusion and dissent were on display. Cambodia, a close ally of Beijing, released a statement saying that all parties had agreed not to internationalize maritime disputes. The next day the Philippines came out and rejected that statement, saying it had not agreed to any such thing. China has advocated that disagreements between nations in the region be resolved in a one-on-one, bilateral fashion, while the Philippines and others are clearly seeking multilateral approaches.
Exacerbating tensions, China has started to include the aforementioned disputed territories the map pictured on Chinese passports. This development, and the picture known as the “nine-dash-line,” has angered nations in the region. Both Vietnam and the Philippines lodged formal protests and have refused to stamp the Chinese passports that include a map of the disputed territories.
Analysis
As tensions run high over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the statement by the Philippines in support of a rearmed Japan signals the extent of concern in the region and the desire of smaller Asian nations to band together to balance an expansionist China. China’s assertion of ownership of all of the disputed territories in the South China Sea continues to be a significant flashpoint. It has the potential to escalate, either intentionally or accidentally, into a limited military conflict.
The victory by conservatives this week in Japan will almost certainly encourage Japan to take a more active role in the region, and perhaps even revise the constitution. Shinzo Abe, elected for the second time as prime minister of Japan earlier this week, is a hardliner and anti-China hawk. He and his LDP party have endorsed the notion of Japanese rearmament to a certain degree and have also called for a tougher response to Chinese aggressive efforts to claim disputed territories in the region.
Shinzo Abe’s campaign primarily utilized nationalist sentiment to garner public opinion in his favor, emphasizing the need to take a tougher line with China. To achieve this line, Abe has maintained that revising the Japanese constitution to allow a more powerful military would serve as a reminder to China that its aggression can and will be counterbalanced. Abe’s proposed constitutional changes would send a message to the Japanese people and to the world: a tougher line towards China is in the region’s best interest and will be pursued.
Disputes continue to linger and recent provocations have highlighted the view in Tokyo of the need for Japan to take a more forceful stance against Chinese territorial intrusion. On December 13 a Chinese jet violated Japanese airspace over the disputed Senkaku Islands, causing Japan to scramble two F-15 fighter aircraft to intercept. Notably, this is the first violation of Japanese airspace by the Chinese since 1958. This latest display fits into a pattern of more aggressive actions toward the Japanese by China, including maritime surveillance crafts entering Japanese waters near Okinawa.
The call by the Philippines to rearm Japan signals the country’s rendered judgment on the situation, that such a move would shift the power balance and assist smaller nations in the region in negotiating with China. China would prefer to deal with each of its neighbors individually, largely because its leaders view such scenarios as being beneficial to maintaining regional leverage. Multilateral discussions complicate the picture for China. There is the potential for the United States to become involved in such diplomatic discourse is possible, a scenario the Chinese would definitely not welcome.
China’s assertiveness is forcing once historical adversaries to rethink relations, partly precipitating the realignment of the military partnership between Japan and the Philippines. This past summer, both countries signed an agreement to strengthen military ties, which including technology cooperation and personnel transfers. As part of the deal, Japan agreed to provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 12 patrol boats.
Conclusion
As China continues to move to solidify control over disputed territories, smaller nations like Japan and the Philippines are increasingly recognizing that a united front may be the best course of actions to protect their own national interests. The call to rearm Japan is a clear message to Beijing that the Philippines sees a counterbalance as a strategic necessity.
All Rights Reserved LIGNET.com

‘Bagmen collected jueteng cash for 3 Kings’


Source: ABS-CBNnews.com 
MANILA, Philippines – Bugallon Mayor Rodrigo Orduña on Monday said bagmen collected millions of pesos in monthly jueteng payola for the alleged “3 Kings of Jueteng.”
In an interview, Orduña said he and several other jueteng operators in Pangasinan allocated millions of pesos in jueteng payola to the “3 Kings”, which allegedly included former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, then Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and a top official of the Philippine National Police.
“Ang binibigyan tatlong hari – may code yan. Hindi naman namin nakakaharap. Hindi namin direktang inaabot,” he told Mornings@ANC.
Orduña declined to identify who served as the bagmen for the 3 Kings. He said it was barangay captain Fernando “Boy Bata” Alimagno who gave the jueteng payola to the collectors.
He said protection money also flowed to Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino, police officials and mediamen.
Meanwhile, the camp of the former first gentleman challenged Orduña to prove his claim that Arroyo and 2 other former officials earned millions of pesos in jueteng payola.
In a statement, Arroyo’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said it is regrettable that the former first gentleman’s name is being linked to illicit activities “without any proof other than the say-so of certain individuals.”
“We challenge the accusers of Atty. Arroyo to come up with evidence that will stand up in court, instead of wasting time and energy making up fantasies, which are only good for entertaining children and those who have the mentality of children, but are useless in real life,” he said.
Orduña’s claim is not the first time that a member of the Arroyo family has been linked to jueteng. Whistleblower and jueteng bagwoman Sandra Cam earlier told a congressional inquiry that she personally delivered P500,000 in protection money to presidential son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.
No paper trail
In the interview, Orduña admitted he and 3 others served as jueteng operators in the entire province of Pangasinan.
He previously accused Espino of pocketing close to P1 billion in jueteng payola for the past 9 years. Espino has denied Orduña’s claims, saying the allegations are meant to derail his electoral bid in 2013.
Orduña admitted that there is no paper trail linking Espino to the proliferation of jueteng in the province.
He said that while there is no documentary proof for his claims, another witness can attest to his claim that he personally delivered jueteng payola to Espino every week.
“Kung gusto niya ipakita ko kung saan kami nag-uusap dalawa e. Pwede naman yun,” he said.
“Sa jueteng kasi, sabihin ng iba diyan na nagmamagaling na kailangan may ebidensya. E iligal ho yan. Lahat ng tatanggap diyan gagawa ng paraan na hanggang maaari walang maiiwang ebidensya lalo yung mga papel na yan. Hindi tatanggap ng tseke yan. Cash to cash lagi. Ang magpapatunay lang dito ako – ako mismo kumukuha ng pera sa kahero at dinadala ko mismo kay Governor Espino. Yun ang totoo,” he added.
P1 million a month
Orduña also claimed that he earned only P1 million a month from jueteng operations.
“Kumporme po. May buwan na malakas, may buwan na mahina. Hindi kasi fixed kasi may mga expenses din,” he said, adding that there are no jueteng games during storms and holidays.
The mayor claimed he started out earning only P10,000 a month as a “collector” of jueteng operators before becoming an operator himself.
He also said jueteng operations in Pangasinan stopped altogether after Archbishop Oscar Cruz made an expose about the illegal numbers game in 2010.
Orduña said gambling operators then shifted to jai alai after local jueteng operations were too slow to recover.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

FOI bill won’t be certified as urgent – Palace official


By Delon Porcalla 
The Philippine Star 
MANILA, Philippines – A Malacañang official disclosed yesterday that President Aquino would not certify as urgent the Senate-approved Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, as he did with the sin tax and Reproductive Health bills.
“At this point, we have no plans to certify this (FOI bill) as urgent,” Presidential Communications Group Secretary Ricky Carandang told Palace reporters, adding that the President will only certify as urgent measures that are of national importance and significance.
He said the rationale is that there is a process that has to be followed.
Palace officials said that the House has their own process to pass the bill.
“He doesn’t certify many bills as urgent, and there’s a process that’s happening, that’s the organic process, and I think we just need to follow it.”
“There are debates… good debates going on in the House. And if you listen very carefully, there are very good arguments for and against the FOI. And I think Congress needs time to reach a consensus,” Carandang said.
The FOI version in the Senate, dubbed as the People’s Ownership of Government Information (POGI) Act of 2012, was passed on third and final reading this week, but the House version was delayed after Congress leaders said the measure will take more time to pass.
“FOI has been passed, as you know, by the Senate, and the process is ongoing in the House. We’re watching what’s happening in the House; we’re taking note of the arguments for and against,” the Cabinet official added.
Carandang said they would allow the senators and congressmen to push for FOI bill.
“There has been discussions with members in Congress and the draft that’s pending in the House has the inputs of Malacañang. So let’s leave it to Congress to move the FOI bill along,” he said.
Last month, Malacañang hinted that they would only be acting as mere observer in the FOI bill, unlike the sin tax bill and the 2013 national budget measure that have been prioritized by the Aquino administration.
“We’ll just wait for the developments in the House,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said of the FOI bill that seems to be stuck in the public information committee of Rep. Ben Evardone.
“Again, all these we leave with the legislature,” he added.
He said the executive department has already submitted the Palace version of the FOI bill, through Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, which underwent deliberations in the House committee level.
Lacierda likewise couldn’t say whether Aquino would be giving a “stronger endorsement” in pushing for the bill’s approval, saying it’s all up to Evardone.
He added Evardone had expressed hope that the bill would pass out of committee soon.
No time for FOI bill
San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito said time is running out on the FOI bill with the adjournment of the House yesterday for a month-long Christmas break.
Ejercito, one of the measure’s authors, said while the Senate has passed its version of the proposed FOI law on third and final reading, the House has barely started its plenary consideration of the bill.
The measure still has to go through the period of interpellations, amendments, second-reading and third-reading approvals in the House, he said.
He expressed doubts whether such a long and laborious process could be finished before the next adjournment of Congress in February.
He noted that the Senate and the House would reconvene on Jan. 21, hold sessions for nine days before adjourning again on Feb. 9 for more than four months until after the May elections.
The congressman-son of former President Joseph Estrada pointed out that what could save the FOI bill is its certification as urgent by President Aquino.
“If the President is serious in eradicating corruption in government, he should certify the bill as urgent. The Chief Executive and his allies in the House should prioritize the passage of the bill as it aims to promote accountability, transparency and good governance, which are President Aquino’s core advocacies,” he stressed.
Ejercito said the FOI measure should be given the same importance as the controversial RH bill.
On Tuesday, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House would try to approve the proposed FOI legislation next month.
“I personally am in favor of this bill,” he said.
Evardone, principal sponsor of the bill and chairman of the committee on public information, said the measure seeks to carry out the constitutional provision giving the public access to official information, including contracts, transcripts of meetings and other documents.
However, he said such provision also states that access is “subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”
He said the bill requires the mandatory disclosure of the annual budgets of government agencies, itemized monthly collections and disbursements, summary of income and expenditures, procurements, contracts, and persons or entities given permits, licenses or franchises.
It also mandates the disclosure of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth of the president, vice president, Cabinet members, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, members of constitutional commissions, and military officers with the rank of general.
The measure covers all agencies of government, including local government units and state corporations.
Evardone said the bill provides for certain information to be exempted from the disclosure requirement.– With Jess Diaz

Aquino and Sereno


By AMADO P. MACASAET
MALAYA
‘Knowing her youth and obvious unfamiliarity with the inner workings of the Supreme Court, she probably did not remotely hope that she would be picked to succeed the convicted Renato Corona.’
It clearly did not occur to President Aquino that appointing the youngest member of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice permanently doused the hopes of more senior magistrates to head the Court.
If it is true, no matter how much we deny it, that we have a politics-ridden Court, the appointment of Mrs. Sereno as Chief Justice could easily mean that the President squandered all his chances and opportunities of getting the cooperation of other members of the court, particularly its more senior members.
With the possible exception of Marvic Leonen, none of the other sitting magistrates could ever dream of heading the Court. They would either be retired and out of the court when Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno reaches the retirement age of 70 years almost two decades from today. Therefore, none of her older peers would try to please President in the hope that he could head the court.
That would have been an ideal arrangement if President Aquino had not been aware of politics in the Court. That would have been the best deal for the President if he had, as he should have had, a reasonable assurance that the Chief Justice be appointed could lead the court, not exactly for his personal political benefit but for the triumph of justice and the rule of law – the same reasons he used in successfully getting the impeachment court to convict Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
As is now abundantly clear, Mrs. Sereno does not seem to have the makings of a head magistrate who can lead the court. We are now beginning to realize that it is not all a question of having full knowledge of the law that makes an ideal Chief Justice.
The President did not see it that way.
From recent events, we may conclude that an even temper is just as important a qualification for justices of the Supreme Court, particularly the Chief.
The ability to deal with the peers for the sake of protecting the Constitution and the laws which is the only bounden duty of a magistrate particularly the Chief Justice is as important if not more so.
The recent “mishaps” of the Chief Justice issuing an en bane resolution all by herself and being later revoked by the court en banc may be considered as a very telling sign that the President did not look at the import of Mrs. Sereno not having the highest mark in the psychological test given by the Judicial and Bar Council.
“Mens sana en corpore sano” (a sound mind in a sound body) did not seem to work that well in the “solo” en banc resolution issued by the Chief Justice.
It is to her credit that she gamely presided over the en banc session that was supposed to confront her on her solo resolution. Her peers rebuked her. She gamely submitted to the decision of the majority.
But the submission or practical admission of having committed a grave error did not redeem her “offense.” Where we sit this is culpable violation of the Constitution.
The en banc had wanted to confront her earlier but she called in sick. The “confrontation” was delayed to Dec. 11. There were earlier reports that she would not attend the en banc as she had planned to pay her respects to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
She changed her mind and presided over the en banc which revoked her one-man (woman) ruling done in supposedly full-court session.
The Chief Justice should be grateful to her peers for not making public the “solo” resolution. The revocation revealed that there indeed was such a resolution that the Court sequestered clearly out of respect for Mrs. Sereno who had the right to explain her decision in the en banc.
The sad fact is the new Chief Justice does not seem to be the most welcome head of the Court. Probably because the appointment, as said above, denied the rest of her 13 peers to hope or dream of becoming chief justice themselves.
A three-year stint as Chief Justice would have been equivalent to appointing six chief magistrates covered by Mrs. Sereno’s 18-year term. In effect, President Aquino usurped the powers of his successors by making sure that Mrs. Sereno remains Chief Justice under more than two administrations after his expires in 2016.
It must be stated very clearly that the consent of Mrs. Sereno to her nomination as candidate for the top SC post manifested her desire to become Chief Justice.
However, knowing her youth and obvious unfamiliarity with the inner workings of the Supreme Court, she probably did not remotely hope that she would be picked to succeed the convicted Renato Corona.
Mrs. Sereno kept her serenity while waiting for President Aquino to appoint the successor of Renato Corona. She was never known to even try using the influence of the President’s friends to intercede for her. That is not in her chemistry.
President Aquino appointed her in spite of her being the most junior magistrate in age and in the face of the result of the psychological test. These may well be the two reasons why a full court was not present during her oath-taking.
Majority of the members of the Court deliberately refused to attend the first Monday morning flag-raising ceremony under Chief Justice Sereno. If there has been what one might say is “bad” blood between the new Chief Justice and her peers, the fact that she herself had only one or two attendances in flag ceremonies before she became head of the Court could have been easily forgotten as a laughing matter.
Now comes the solo resolution. The Supreme Court is in trouble with its Chief Justice.
The Constitution and the laws could be in trouble with the Chief Justice considering the gravity of her issuing a resolution without the approval of the majority of her peers.
There is no way of making amends. Her ruling was revoked.
That should be the most important, though obviously embarrassing learning lesson for the Chief Justice when she woke up one morning and realized the grave error she committed.
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email: amadomacasaet@yahoo.com