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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Palace poll: Noy, Drilon equally liable in pork scam

Source:  The Daily Tribune
39% SAY RP HEADING WRONG PATH UNDER AQUINO
Noynoy.66The controversial survey commissioned by Malacañang but which it denied ever existed showing a huge decline in the net trust rating of President Aquino to an unprecedented low of 35 amid the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and pork barrel controversies showed that respondents believed Aquino himself and his chief ally Senate President Franklin Drilon are liable in the Janet Lim-Napoles racket.
The Tribune obtained copies of the Palace poll, which Aquino and his aides have denied ever having commissioned.
The survey, portions of which were obtained by The Tribune also indicated that predominant of respondents, or 39 percent, believed the country is “going in the wrong direction” against 31 percent who believed that the Aquino administration is leading the country to his mantra of “daang matuwid” or straight path. Llamas’ denial, however, was apparently written by a law firm that also serves as a consultant for the office of Llamas which is the Belmonte, Sison Sawali and Associates counsels and consultants as the denial letter heading stated.
A Tribune source said the survey was leaked by a Palace office worker.
The result of the survey which first appeared in a daily broadsheet showed, among others, President Aquino’s trust rating dropping to a net 35 which was the difference of those expressing much trust of 51 percent and 16 percent of respondents who stated they have little trust on Aquino.
The survey was said to have 1,000 respondents but portions of the survey covering the National Capital Region was obtained by The Tribune covering 300 respondents and stating that it was undertaken from Oct. 8 to 10.
Another highlight of the survey, according to the document, was that corruption was cited by 45 percent of respondents as their most pressing concern surpassing jobs at 28 percent and prices at six percent.
The still unidentified pollster noted that in previous surveys, “corruption was a third or fourth issue” mentioned by respondents.
The survey also showed that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s trust rating dropped “though not as much as PNoy” of from a net 70 to a net 57; Senate President Franklin Drilon’s trust rating was one of the lowest at a net negative 14, and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s are generally not trusted with net ratings of negative 16 and negative 21, respectively.
The survey also showed 49 percent of respondents believed the pork barrel is stolen by politician while 51 percent said this goes to “well-meaning” projects; 46 percent said the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) should be abolished and placed directly in agencies but a substantial 44 percent said it should not be abolished but only reformed; and that medical assistance an scholarships top the list where the pork barrel should be spent on.
A reliable source told the Tribune that the Palace, whether during the time of then President Gloria Arroyo or Aquino’s current time, always commissions surveys on the president and the administration, and are always conducted on a private basis, or for the Palace’s eyes only.
No privately commissioned survey on the president and his administration is made public when the survey findings are negative to the president.
These private surveys are usually done for the Palace people to gauge the real sentiment of the people, as the survey firms, especially under the Aquino administration, tend to provide the Palace results favorable to the president.
The two latest surveys from two polling firms, the SWS and Pulse Asia, released this month, showed great variance in the approval/performance/satisfaction ratings, which were found questionable.
Pulse gave Aquino’s approval rating at 79 percent, a six point increase from his survey rating in June. Pulse’s survey was conducted from Sept. 14 to 27. This was amid the pork barrel scandal and presidential pork.
Compared to Pulse ratings, Aquino’s rating in the Palace survey suffered a 44-percent drop.
It was also a decrease of 14 percent compared to his +49 percent rating in the Sept. 20 to 23 SWS survey, where Aquino dropped 35 percent.
The Malacañang commissioned survey also showed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima got a net 38 rating.
The survey also showed that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. got a zero while Senate President Franklin Drilon obtained a -14 percent approval rating, the Star reportred.
Senators Jinggoy Estrada got -14 percent; Ramon Revilla Jr., -15 percent; and Juan Ponce Enrile, -21 percent. The three are facing plunder charges along with 34 others, in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scandal.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda got -20 percent and -16 percent, respectively.
Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got -69 percent.
Said Llamas: “I strongly and categorically deny that there was any survey commissioned by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs concerning the President’s approval rating or any other public official for that matter,” according to the law firm letter quoting him.
The denial added: “As far as my office is concerned, the results of the recent surveys conducted by the country’s top two polling opinion bodies are enough to measure the people’s continued trust and support to President Aquino,” Llamas said.
Llamas said in the SWS survey report last Oct. 14, 2013, “the President continues to enjoy positive approval ratings”.
He said that “Mahar Mangahas, SWS chief, had explained it in his recent article, “P-Noy’s rating has never been double-downgraded. None of the previous four presidents were as popular as P-Noy is now at the same stage, or at any later stage, of their terms.”
Llamas added that “the Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan Survey for Sept. 2013 showed that the President’s performance approval rating climbed from 73 to 79, representing a 6-point increase, while his trust rating remains high at 76 percent”.
“I have released this statement in order to address whatever false impression that the said news article might have created,” Llamas said.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. also denied anything about the initiated “internal survey” by Malacañang.
“I have no knowledge of such kind of survey neither I have seen it if there is one,” Coloma said.
Anna Guerra-dela Vega, director, office of the Political Adviser (OPA), said Coloma was right in his statement.
She said OPA had not commissioned any survey whether private or not. Apparently, they were all lying.

Aquino: I’m not a thief

By Ina Andolong
Solar News
Noynoy.67President Aquino went on national television with a blunt address to the nation, that DAP is not PDAF, and that, contrary to what the obfuscators want everybody to believe about the pork barrel scandal, he is not the thief.
To be blunt about it, hearing the President defend the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is no longer new.
He’s done this several times, in interviews with the media and in various forums over the past few weeks.
Even Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma did not deny this when Solar News talked to him after the President delivered his speech.
Coloma, however, did explain why the President wanted to reiterate his position on DAP, saying that President Aquino wanted to make sure that the entire nation tunes in to what he has to say.
Coloma explained that, in forums where DAP was discussed and defended, the President was addressing only specific sectors.
This time, President Aquino apparently thought that airing a live speech on prime time TV would ensure that he is heard.
We also asked Secretary Coloma about the reference to the term “old politician” in his speech, alluding to the politician whose advice was apparently heeded by those out to misdirect the people, and criticize DAP.
While it would seem that the President was referring to someone in particular, Coloma said, he believes it was an idiomatic expression used by the president to refer to how old politicians would cloud up issues to distract the people.
As a background, we recall that among the politicians facing plunder accusations in connection with the pork barrel scandal are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla.
Palace officials underscored that the speech was not in response to recent surveys tending to show a drop in the President’s approval ratings.
Experts we’ve talked to, however, didn’t buy this.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said the speech seems to show that the recent criticisms have hit the President hard, and that he now wants to personally address these criticisms, in the hope of preventing a further drop in his ratings.
Another analyst, Prospero de Vera, said “of course it has something to do with the controversy and the survey results.”
De Vera even commended the President for deciding to speak out, adding that “he is a better communicator than all of his spokespersons combined.”
Journalists were not allowed to throw questions after the speech.
However, on Thursday, when he inspects some ports and terminals in preparation for the expected exodus in time for All Souls’ Day, there should be opportunities to do so.
Here is the link to the full transcript of the President’s speech posted by Malacañan:
http://www.gov.ph/2013/10/30/pambansang-pahayag-ni-pangulong-aquino-noong-ika-30-ng-oktubre-2013/

Navy stealth destroyer Zumwalt nears final construction phase

Source: Fox News
Oct. 28, 2013: The first-in-class Zumwalt, the largest U.S. Navy destroyer ever built, floats off a submerged dry dock in the Kennebec River, in Bath, Maine. (AP)
Oct. 28, 2013: The first-in-class Zumwalt, the largest U.S. Navy destroyer ever built, floats off a submerged dry dock in the Kennebec River, in Bath, Maine. (AP)
The Navy’s stealthy Zumwalt destroyer went into the water on Monday, with shipbuilders moving the warship into the Kennebec River before it moves dockside for final construction.
The Zumwalt, the largest destroyer ever built for the Navy, looks like no other U.S. warship, with an angular profile and clean carbon fiber superstructure that hides antennas and radar masts.
“The Zumwalt is really in a league of its own,” said defense consultant Eric Wertheim, author of the “The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World.”
Originally envisioned as a “stealth destroyer,” the Zumwalt has a low-slung appearance and angles that deflect radar. Its wave-piercing hull aims for a smoother ride.
The 610-foot ship is a behemoth that’s longer and bigger than the current class of destroyers. It was originally designed for shore bombardment and features a 155mm “Advanced Gun System” that fires rocket-propelled warheads that have a range of nearly 100 miles.
Thanks to computers and automation, it will have only about half the complement of sailors as the current generation of destroyers.
Critics, however, felt the Navy was trying to incorporate too much new technology — a new hull, computer automation, electric propulsion, new radar and new gun — into one package. At one point, the program was nearly scrapped because of growing cost. Eventually, the program was truncated to three ships, the Zumwalt being the first.
Dozens of local residents gathered to watch the hours-long process of floating the ship in a dry dock. In the water for the first time, the ship was a sight to behold.
“It’s absolutely massive. It’s higher than the tree line on the other side. It’s an absolutely huge ship — very imposing. It’s massively dominating the waterfront,” said Amy Lent, executive director of the Maine Maritime Museum, who watched the process from her office down river from the shipyard.
The big ship was supposed to be christened with a bottle of champagne crashed against its bow by the two daughters of the late Adm. Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, but the ceremony earlier this month was canceled because of the partial federal government shutdown. The shipyard hopes to hold a rescheduled christening in the spring, with sea trials following in the fall.
Workers at Bath Iron Works, part of General Dynamics, will continue working on the ship throughout the winter. Bath Iron Works plans to deliver the ship to the Navy in 2015.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.

America’s “Pivot to Asia” Threatens China: US Stages Show of Naval Force in South China Sea War Games

By Joseph Santolan
Global Research
USS-George-Washington.11On October 25, the US Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS George Washington entered Manila Bay. At the head of Carrier Strike Group Five, the aircraft carrier had spent the past week sailing the disputed waters of the South China Sea, visiting various regional claimants.
Washington is seeking, through this show of military force in the region, to shore up its slipping diplomatic position in the wake of Obama’s absence from the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits in early October.
Obama canceled his travel to Southeast Asia to deal with the government shut down. His absence at the summits was seen as a clear indication in Asia of the declining economic and diplomatic power of Washington. Beijing seized upon the opportunity afforded by Obama’s no-show to conduct a ‘charm offensive’ in South East Asia. Prime Minister Xi Jinping and Premier Li Kejiang traveled throughout the region meeting with heads of state and dispensing economic largesse in the form lucrative new trade deals and investments.
Obama’s absence raised questions about the seriousness of the US ‘pivot’ to Asia, which includes the shifting of the majority of US forces to the Indo-Pacific in a calculated strategy to encircle China. Countries throughout the region, most notably the Philippines and Vietnam, have engaged in increasingly aggressive assertions of their claims to the South China Sea, spurred on by Washington’s pivot.
In the wake of the ASEAN summit, the bourgeoisie throughout the region were left uncertain if, in the event of conflict with China, Washington would be willing to intervene militarily, and further, if it could afford to.
Unable to match the economic hand-outs of Beijing, Washington is shoring up its diplomatic and political power in the region through the escalation of its military presence. Every stop of the Fifth Carrier strike group was directed to this end.
The USS George Washington heads Carrier Strike Group 5, which is the largest such group in the US Navy. It includes two guided missile cruisers, a destroyer, a supply ship and a fast attack submarine. There are over 6,000 military personnel on board the aircraft carrier alone.
On Sunday, the USS George Washington was 200 miles off the coast of Danang, Vietnam. According to the Huffington Post, “a group of high-ranking Vietnamese military officials was flown onto the carrier Sunday along with other Vietnamese government officials and the U.S. ambassador to the country.” The location is highly symbolic as Danang was a key US airforce base during the American war in Vietnam, and US aircraft conducted bombing runs over Vietnam and Laos from the airbase.
Commander of the George Washington airwing, Captain Ross Meyers told the visitors: “The strategic implications and importance of the waters of the South China Sea and the freedom of navigation is vital to both Vietnam and the United States.” ‘Freedom of navigation’ has long been the code phrase used to justify Washington’s military drive against China in the region.
It was announced that the destroyer, USS John McCain, would make a port call to Vietnam later in the week, where it would engage in joint training exercises. The exercises were also to include three ships from the Japanese so-called Self-Defense Forces.
It was also announced that a military delegation from Hanoi, led by Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, would visit Washington on October 24 to conduct a ‘Defence Strategy dialogue.’
On Monday, General Vincent Brooks, Commanding General of the US Army in the Pacific, announced that the Pentagon was planning to hold the first-ever joint Army-Navy Maritime exercises in the Pacific theater. This move is a sharp escalation of Washington’s preparations for war against China. Brooks justified the move as “fitting” by citing the origins of US imperialism in the American war of conquest in the Philippines, saying, “the roots of our expeditionary experience in the Army were born in the Pacific.” Lieutenant Colonel Michael Donnelly, US Army Pacific spokesman further justified the joint Army-Navy exercises by saying: “The ground element of the Pacific rebalance is important to ensure the stability in the region.”
On Wednesday, the USS George Washington sailed to Malaysia. Sixteen ‘high-level’ Malaysian government officials were given a tour of the carrier, including Shakib Ahmad Shakir, deputy undersecretary of defense. The US defense attaché in Malaysia welcomed them to “1,100 feet of sovereign US Territory” while they sailed through the South China Sea and launched fighter jets.
The carrier group staged joint military and naval exercises with Malaysian forces.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced that Kuala Lumpur would be building a naval base on Bintulu in the South China Sea, just 60 miles from the disputed James Shoal where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had staged amphibious landing drills earlier this year. The base will house Malaysian Marines who, it was announced, will receive support, training and expertise exchange from the US Marine Corps.
Washington has offered Kuala Lumpur the amphibious platform dock, USS Denver, after its decommission in 2014, and is also looking to sell Malaysia several AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopters, according to IHS Jane ’ s Defense Weekly .
On the same day, the Los Angeles-class, fast attack submarine USS Santa Fe docked at Changi naval base in Singapore, showcasing to members of the Singaporean Navy its littoral combat capabilities. Leading Singaporean government figures were also flown out to the USS George Washington.
On October 24, while sailing in the midst of the South China Sea from Malaysia to the Philippines, Rear Admiral Mark C. Montgomery, commander of the USS George Washington held a press conference with reporters from BBC, CNN, AFP, and other news agencies on the flag bridge with fighter jets taking off in the background.
The ‘pivot’ has led to “an increase in surface combatant presence here in the Western Pacific… so these [US] ships are spread throughout those areas,” he stated. “Having more ships gives us more presence. It allows us to have a greater force.” The ‘pivot’ is “gaining strength,” he said.
According to AFP, Montgomery stated that “US defence budget cuts and the recent 16-day partial US government shutdown have not affected his command.” He continued: “The strategic rebalance is continuing in earnest … We have sufficient funds for our operations.”
Asked by a reporter about what would happen in the event of “military conflict in the region,” Montgomery stated, “I think the fact that we’re here (now) says a lot whether or not we will be here if there was a crisis.”
Just arrived in Manila Bay, it is reported that the USS George Washington will be hosting several hundred leading Philippine government, military and business leaders.
On Friday, the PLA issued a press release announcing that Chinese military forces had sailed out the Bashi Channel into the Pacific and were staging the “first open-sea drill with maritime and air forces from all three of China’s fleets taking part.” According to the Global Times, the drills were conducted to prepare for “open-sea combat” to “safeguard national security and maritime interests.”

Enemies friend

By Erick San Juan
U.N. Security Council
U.N. Security Council
In comments to European diplomats last weekend, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan confirmed that his country’s decision last Friday not to accept a temporary seat on the UN Security Council was “a message for the US, not the UN.”
Having collaborated closely in the US-led war for regime change in Syria, Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to the Obama administration’s decision to pull back from an imminent missile and air attack on Syria last month. It also has concerns over Washington’s involvement in international talks with Iran, which Riyadh regards as its chief rival in the region.
A source close to Saudi policy makers told Reuters: “Prince Bandar told [European] diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the US. This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer to Iran.”
And “the shift away from the US is a major one. Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.” Prince Bandar also warned that there would be wide-ranging consequences, including on purchases of US arms and on oil sales.
The longstanding US-Saudi alliance has rested on the assumption that Saudi Arabia would supply oil and purchase American arms in return for a US guarantee of security for the autocratic Saudi monarchy. The Reuters article suggested that Riyadh might also scale back its purchase of US bonds and other dollar-denominated assets. “All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact,” the source said.
A Wall Street Journal article pointed to another recent source of Saudi bitterness. When asked by Riyadh for details of US plans to defend Saudi oil production during a US attack on Syria, “Americans told them US ships wouldn’t be able to fully protect the oil region.” Dissatisfied with the response, “the Saudis told the US that they were open to alternatives to their longstanding defense partnership, emphasizing that they would look for good weapons at good prices, whatever the source.” (Saudi Officials Vent Anger Over US Failure to Attack Syria, globalresearch.ca, 10.25.2013)
This important development in the US-Saudi relationship is just like the US-Iran ‘partnership’ on the Syrian crisis issue. One – soon to part ways while the other one (US-Iran) is on the same road with the United Nations to resolve the crisis in Syria.
Some pundits even suggested that the anger of the Saudi regime might be the way for the Kingdom to turn to China. Far out? Hmmm… possible for the old adage that the enemy of my enemy ( now) could be my friend. Why not?
But as Victor Kotsev wrote in his article – Rebels offer Assad a comeback: “Right now the possibility of a Western intervention has all but evaporated: US-Iranian negotiations have taken the front seat, and such an adventure would put paid to any possible accord. In the foreseeable future, moreover, deepening Russian involvement in Syria could be a guarantee of sorts for Assad’s tenure.
William Polk, a top former US analyst and a member of the Cuban Missile Crisis management team, estimated in a recent analysis that the US-Russian agreement over the Syrian chemical weapons would eventually involve some “5-10 thousand Russians and perhaps twice that number of UN-designated peacekeeping forces from third world countries.” Polk added, “With a Russian force in residence and forced to protect its widely scattered personnel and a significant UN peacekeeping force interspersed among the Russians, the government can to some degree discount external aggression.”
Officially, Moscow is tight-lipped about any such plans, but it is already deeply involved in Syria and even the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization hinted recently that Russia would assist more actively there.
Still, the hard-core international supporters of the rebels, such as Saudi Arabia, are not giving up either. The fight is likely to be long and no less brutal than it has already been. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Syria expert Joshua Landis estimated that the recent decision by the Saudis to reject their seat at the UN Security Council was meant to deflect pressure on them to change their course.
As the world awaits for the next move in the said crisis, divisions inside and outside Washington is getting deeper. But as perceived by the rest of the world, such deadlock on the Syrian crisis is a sign that there would be peace… for the meantime. Yes for a while, for the world war scenario is already programmed. It can be delayed but it will push through whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kapunan quits as Napoles' lawyer


MANILA (UPDATED) - Lawyer Lorna Kapunan has resigned as counsel for businesswoman Janet Napoles in the serious illegal detention case filed against her by pork scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed the news but said she does not know the reason behind the resignation. De Lima and Kapunan were once partners at a law firm.

A DZRH news report said Napoles cited "differences of opinion" as the reason for her resignation.

Kapunan was handling the illegal detention case filed by Luy against her client. The case was being heard this morning when Kapunan suddenly went out of the court room.

Kapunan is also handling the defense of Napoles in the charges filed against her over the pork barrel scam.

Napoles has had a string of lawyers before she settled with Kapunan's team. Kapunan was already her counsel when she surrendered to Malacanang.

Kapunan earlier said she accepted Napoles as a client to get to the truth about the alleged controversy involving lawmakers' priority development assistance funds (PDAF). She said a person she trusts endorsed Napoles to her.

She also told ANC Headstart host Karen Davila that Napoles received threats from some politicians to stay silent about the scam.

She also said she is considering Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago's suggestion to avail of a procedure called "perpetuation of testimony" under the rules of court.

Under that procedure, Napoles' testimony will be given in writing outside of court, so it can be preserved for the trial even if something happens to her.

"Really, we were intending to do that precisely because of the real threats on her life," Kapunan said.
  

A story of one girl’s fight for justice

By Fr. Shay Cullen
PREDAHere is a story that will gladden the hearts of all who care about children, abhor child abuse and are willing to speak out for human rights. It’s a story of a child’s courageous struggle against all odds. People of good conscience who shun evil and wrongdoing will hunger and thirst for justice and someday, if we struggle hard enough together, we have a greater chance of finding justice than if we stay silent and do nothing.
So it was for 14 year-old Martina, she sought justice. She grew up in an impoverished family in Olongapo city not far from the sex industry where young girls are lured and trafficked into prostitution and captured by the bar owners of many nationalities. It had a bad influence on her father.
Her mother, Maria, suffered leukemia and her father was unemployed and did part time jobs for a living and got money from relatives. Without a regular job, the family could not pay for health insurance. The medical system is so privatized and medical help is so expensive, the poor cannot survive even common diseases. There is no social insurance or a national health care system in the Philippines.
Maria wasted away and died and left Martina alone with her father who turned to smoking marijuana and took to visiting the cheaper sex bars. He met young enslaved teenagers there and became addicted to abusing the young girls. The drugs made him aggressive and moody and one night, he attacked and raped Martina, his own daughter. She was shocked, hurt, and traumatized.
The corrupt political practice of condoning and allowing a thriving sex industry run mostly by foreigners who prostitute young girls with impunity has eroded the moral values and corrupted family and community life.
Most child rapists terrorize their victims with threats of torture and death if they tell anyone. Martina was threatened with death by her father. She endured the abuse in silence and he, believing his terror tactic was working, raped her several more times. Unable to endure it any longer, Martina ran away to her material auntie in Taguig, Metro Manila.
Her auntie noticed her traumatized state and gently asked her what had happened. Martina cried and found the courage to tell her auntie. She told the most difficult thing of all – she was pregnant. Shocked and angered, the Auntie filed a criminal complaint against the father. The police filed the charges in Olongapo City and the social workers from Taguig called the Preda children’s home hot-line to refer Martina for counseling, shelter and therapy. She was welcomed into the Preda Home for sexually exploited and abused children and felt at home with the other forty children and the Preda professional staff.
The Prosecutor Joy Bayona quickly acted and resolved the case and filed it in court on 5 May 2011, and when the accused did not appear to answer the charges, an arrest warrant was issued. He went into hiding, it took many months for Preda paralegal workers to find him and have the police arrest him. During this time, Martina, still under care at Preda, was brought to a special clinic and gave birth to a normal healthy baby boy.
By 20 October 2011, five months later, the arraignment was set in the family court, Olongapo city. It was postponed and reset for 3 November 2011, then postponed again; Judge Pamintuan being absent. After two more postponements, the arrangement was finally set on 25 May 2012; one year after the arrest warrant was issued.
The wheels of justice having stopped a few times began to grind again with all the supporters of Martina pushing and shoving. The abusive father pleaded not guilty. The case dragged on and more delays were made. It is a common legal tactic hoping the child would give up and fail to appear as a witness, the case could then be dismissed. Martina would not give into the pressure to give up. She feared that many more children would be abused if he went free and he might harass or attack her again.
There were eight more postponements with months between the settings due to various reasons. Then after some lobbying by Preda Senior staff to the court administrator of the Supreme Court, Judge Bautista was appointed to assist Judge Pamintuan. He took on the case of Martina. The accused was advised by his counsel to plead guilty to a lesser charge and he was found guilty on three charges of rape and was sentenced to ten years for each charge which is equal to a life sentence.
The Preda paralegal officer, Marlyn Capio requested the judge to consider the plea of Martina to have a barring order issued so that if ever he got out, he could not pursue her. Judge Bautista did so.
This week, the case ended a long protracted pursuit of justice and the end of the rampage of a serial child sex offender. Martina is a survivor, healed, supported and empowered by her courage and brave pursuit of justice and truth. Martina is reintegrated to a happy family. The child is healthy and well.[shaycullen@preda.org; www.preda.org]

Sonny Coloma

By Rey O. Arcilla
Malaya
‘The members of the Malacañang Press Corps are quite happy that Herminio “Sonny” Coloma has been tasked by Noynoy himself to be the chief presidential mouthpiece.’
Sonny Coloma
Sonny Coloma
LAST July, I wrote:
“Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is due to receive a raise of 5 percent in her government grant next year.
“Here, one fellow who does not need a raise in his remuneration next year is GSIS president/general manager Robert Vergara who turned out to be the highest paid government functionary in our midst, including President Noynoy Aquino himself.
“As reported recently by Rappler, according to the Commission on Audit (COA) Vergara last year received P16.36 million in salaries and allowances (almost double the P8.32 million he received in 2011) broken down as follows:
P9.65 million in basic salaries for 15 months; P4.97 million in ‘bonuses, incentives and benefits’; P1.684 million allowances; P7,500 personal economic relief allowance (he needs this?!), and P51,000 listed only as ‘Others’.
“As a former member of the GSIS, I find that amount obscene and unconscionable. I wonder if Vergara knows how much the average government employee is paid.
“I understand this fellow was a hotshot investment banker based in Hong Kong before he was tapped for the GSIS job by President Noynoy Aquino. Could he possibly be making more money now than he used to?
(Or is he simply trying to make as much money, if not more, while in government service? If that is his main purpose, he should have stayed in the private sector. That way he wouldn’t be fleecing poor government employees of what is due them in terms of earnings from their contribution.)
“This is also the same fellow who finds it convenient to simply “dedma” (ignore) another finding by COA that has been raised, and continues to be raised, in this space regarding the irregular treatment of remittances of premiums paid by poor government employees. (Please see one of the “Reminders” below.)
“Please take note, Mr. President. Your bosses want to know what the real score is on this fellow’s horrendous pay. As a GSIS member yourself, perhaps you should be interested to find out too.”
Last week, it was reported that members of the GSIS Board of Trustees received in 2012 P1.25 million (some say P1.4 million) bonus each, including Vergara who is known as “Pretty Boy”, derisively I’m told, among GSIS staffers.
But, alas, someone pointed out that Pretty Boy is also in the PhilHealth board of directors whose members, allegedly, also received about P1 million bonus each.
I checked the PhilHealth website and true enough, Vergara is listed, as of last week, as one of its directors together with the following: Health Secretary Enrique Ona as chairman, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman, DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz (an SSS board member too), Civil Service head Francisco Duque, Alexander Padilla, Juan Flavier, Alexander Ayco, Francisco Lopez, SSS president Emilio De Quiros, Jane Sta. Ana and Marlon Manuel.
Question is did cabinet secretaries Ona, Soliman, Roxas and Baldoz get bonuses as well? (I assume the rest did.) Isn’t there a law that prohibits that?
***
Earlier this month, it was reported that aside from the GSIS and the SSS, 18 other government-controlled and –owned corporations (GOCCs) also granted fat bonuses to their directors, all courtesy of the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG).
The GCG, created under Republic Act 10149, was supposed to put a stop to the multimillion-peso bonuses and extravagant benefits top executives and board members of GOCCs gave themselves during the Arroyo regime. It has the power to review and reorganize the corporations, as well as fix the salaries, allowances, per diems and bonuses of board members.
Unfortunately, it has been doing the exact opposite of its mandate. Its spokesman issued a moronic justification of its decisions to the effect that GOCCs directors should receive compensation at par with the private sector. The problem is the bonuses and other perks granted to these directors far exceed those received by directors in the private sector and with much less work and responsibility.
Has it not occurred to these conscienceless individuals that the average stakeholder in the GSIS, SSS and PhilHealth does not earn, on the average, in five to seven long years what they get in yearly bonuses alone?! Geeez, may puso at kaluluwa kaya ang mga nilalang na ito?!
Does not the useless GCG realize that? Incidentally, the GCG commissioners should also make public what they get in per diems, bonuses and other perks.
***
The members of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) are quite happy that Herminio “Sonny” Coloma has been tasked by Noynoy himself to be the chief presidential mouthpiece.
I can appreciate the sentiments of the MPC members. The few times that I’ve seen Coloma briefing them, he was not only articulate but also direct to the point. You could see that he also knows whereof he speaks. He does not obfuscate, unlike his three other colleagues (Edwin Lacierda, his deputy Abigail Valte and Ricky Carandang) who more often than not do not realize the implications or inaccuracies of what they are saying.
I do not even have to extend best wishes to Coloma. I know he will do well, better at least than his predecessor.
***
About four or five months ago, I wrote about Foreign Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario having been reportedly instructed by Nonoy to get rid of future DFA ex-undersecretary for administration Rafael Seguis. But instead of booting out Seguis as instructed, Del Rosario offered him, reportedly for one year, his old post as undersecretary for Special Concerns now being held by former ambassador Chito Brillantes who, as it turned out, never wanted to give up the job in the first place. In any case, Seguis reportedly turned down Del Rosario’s offer and opted to retire.
In the meantime, Del Rosario submitted to Malacañang his recommendation for former ambassador Linglingay Lacanlale as replacement for Seguis.
However, for reasons known only to him, Seguis later changed his mind and accepted Del Rosario’s offer. He had the recommendation for Lacanlale retrieved from Malacañang. He then prepared another memorandum, which Del Rosario signed, recommending him as undersecretary for Special Concerns not for one year but co-terminus with the President, and Lacanlale to replace him as undersecretary for administration.
The memorandum is now reportedly sitting in the office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa who allegedly does not want to submit it for Noynoy’s signature, presumably on account of representations made by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, on behalf of his brother Chito, whom Seguis would be displacing.
So now, the status quo remains, to the consternation and dismay of DFA staffers, not to mention the disgust and disappointment of Lacanlale and Brillantes.
DFA insiders think that allowing the status quo to persist weakens Del Rosario’s leadership and the confidence of DFA personnel in his ability to run the Department. They also feel that the only thing he could do now is to take the matter up directly with Noynoy. I am told Ochoa won’t even give him the time of day.
Who will Noynoy sustain, Del Rosario or Comelec chair Brillantes? Let’s watch what happens.
***
France and Germany are up in arms against the US for allegedly spying on them.
Germany claims that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone might have been monitored. France says the US National Security Agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period.
Even before the latest French and German allegations, CNN said that other nations had expressed concerns about alleged US spying after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information about American surveillance programs.
I have written about this matter in my column and I wondered what our government was doing after Snowden made his revelations. I am still wondering.
In the meantime, “Amboy” del Rosario had already welcomed the appointment of the new US ambassador-designate to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, even before the latter has been confirmed by the US Senate.
Goldberg is a confirmed intelligence expert who now heads the Intelligence bureau of the US State Department and who was once ambassador to Bolivia. He was kicked out of that country for allegedly spying on the Bolivian government.
Del Rosario’s comment about Goldberg’s appointment seems premature. Are we not supposed to vet his credentials and background first before giving him his agreement? Are we not at all wary of his known background?
For once, let us show some independence when it comes to dealing with the US. Even loyal canines sometimes do – disobey or defy their masters, I mean.
But I guess that would be too much to expect of Del Rosario who is/was allegedly an American citizen or a green card holder at least. Having lived and studied from the elementary grades to college level in the US, the man does not even understand or speak Pilipino. How embarrassing!
Question is what does that make of Noynoy who appointed Del Rosario? An Amboy too? It certainly looks like it at times. I hope I’m wrong.
***
Reminders (for Noynoy):
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (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.
2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and ordering his successor, Robert Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former.
Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that:
(a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million last year making him the highest paid government servant and;
(b) That, as of four or five months ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011.
COA also said the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have so far responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.
There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums “parked” in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go?
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 184th day of the seventh year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
The Justice Department has dismissed the charges against several of those accused in Jonas’ disappearance. Cleared were former AFP chiefs of staff Hermogenes Esperon and Alexander Yano, ex-PNP chief Avelino Razon, retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Ano and Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano. Only Maj. Harry Baliaga will be charged for arbitrary detention, murder and obstruction of justice on the disappearance of Jonas.
“Pwedeng kasuhan ang kamay ng krimen pero ang utak ay hindi?” rued Lorena Santos, daughter of a desaparecido like Jonas.
Mr. President, is this what you meant when you called for a “focused, dedicated and exhaustive” probe of what really happened to Jonas?
***
From an internet friend:
One day, a man goes to a pet shop to buy a parrot. The assistant takes the man to the parrot section and asks the man to choose one. The man asks, ‘’How much is the yellow one?’’
The assistant says, ‘’$2000.’’ The man is shocked and asks the assistant why it’s so expensive. The assistant explains, ‘’This parrot is a very special one. He knows typing and can type really fast.’’
‘’What about the green one?’’ the man asks.
The assistant says, ‘’He costs $5000 because he knows typing and can answer incoming telephone calls and takes notes.’’
‘’What about the red one?’’ the man asks.
The assistant says, ‘’That one’s $10,000.’’
The man says, ‘’What does HE do?’’
The assistant says, ‘’I don’t know, but the other two call him boss.’’
***

Ping reveals ‘pork’ deals among lawmakers

By Marvin Sy 
The Philippine Star
Ping-Lacson.8MANILA, Philippines – Confronted by images of his fellow legislators wheeling and dealing among themselves for share in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during budget deliberations, former senator Panfilo Lacson said he realized the controversial mechanism “was a ticking bomb ready to explode in our faces.”
“The question, when it would happen was the only thing I thought was uncertain. I had a practical reason for believing so,” he said recently in a speech before the Philippine Constitution Association.
“In this material world, satisfaction is a myth. It is greed that is real. It has now exploded,” Lacson said.
Each senator is allocated P200 million annually in PDAF while a congressman receives P70 million.
Lacson, who had never availed himself of his PDAF allocation, said he saw first hand how legislators would discuss among themselves ways to increase their respective allocations.
“Every year, just before the period of amendments of both chambers, small and big group caucuses decide how much each member would get as additional pork, usually at least P100 million more for senators,” he said.
“The second tranche of how much more should come just before the bicameral conference committee meetings, traditionally referred to as the third and most powerful chamber of Congress,” Lacson said.
It’s in bicameral conference meetings where representatives of the Senate and the House try to reconcile any conflicting provisions in their respective versions of the budget measure. Most of these meetings were held behind closed doors.
“The smarter ones manage to wrangle as early as during the committee hearings held to tackle the budgets of departments and agencies; likewise during plenary debates when questions are addressed by individual legislators to heads of the different agencies through the budget sponsors,” he added.
‘Co-conspirators’
Lacson said funds are parked in the budgets of the different government agencies “whose heads are willing co-conspirators in the schemes or scams.”
“The amounts realigned or inserted range from a few hundred millions to even over a billion pesos for the smart, diligent and well-connected legislators of both houses,” he said.
Lacson cited an instance in 2006 when the senators held a caucus on what to do with P38 billion in special purpose funds or lump sum items in the budget.
He recalled that there was an agreement to slash a substantial portion of the fund and realign it to the pork barrel allocation of the legislators or P300 million each.
Lacson said he objected to this during the caucus because the senators were already receiving P200 million in pork barrel funds each at the time.
Later in the same year, Lacson recalled he was approached by then Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano during a weekly gathering with other opposition politicians, businessmen, political analysts, and advertising people, who asked him to allocate P50 million of his additional P200 million PDAF to Taguig.
“Apparently, Cong. Alan got wind of the information from his ate (sister), Sen. Pia Cayetano,” he said. “From an initial P300 million in additional pork that did not materialize because of my objections, they were embarrassed by one-third so they just ended up with P200 million during a second caucus where I was not invited,” Lacson said.
He said he later confronted the finance committee chairman and the Senate president at the time and threatened to expose in the plenary the goings-on in budget discussions.
“A few more intervening events transpired afterwards, but to make the long story short, the P200 million additional pork for each of the 23 senators did not materialize,” he added.
Earlier, Senate committee on finance chairman Francis Escudero vowed to open the bicameral conference meetings to the public for the proposed P2.268-trillion national budget for 2014.
“This will be my first bicam, we will make it open. It’s a public hearing,” Escudero said.
He said there is no reason for representatives of the Senate and the House in the bicameral conference committee meetings to oppose his move since they all have nothing to hide.

A good time to listen to his “bosses”

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas
Noynoy-net-satisfaction-ratings-2010-2013The people cheered when President Aquino called them his “bosses” as he thanked them for treading “the straight and righteous path” and creating change during his second State-of-the-Nation address on July 25, 2011. Now, more than two years later, his sincerity in calling the people his “bosses” and in promising to tread the “daang matuwid” with them is in question.
The President has obviously chosen to ignore the voice of his “bosses” who have repeatedly called for the abolition of the pork barrel system in protest marches, through the internet and through the media. His “bosses” made clear their stand against the abuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the congressional pork barrel, and the illegal use of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), one of several presidential lump sum pork funds, when they brought Aquino’s approval ratings down by at least 15 percentage points in separate surveys by Social Weather Station and reportedly a survey commissioned by Malacanang.
According to the SWS survey, conducted from September 20 to 23, Aquino’s approval rating dropped to +49 percent from a high +64 percent in June. This was one of the steepest drops suffered by Aquino since he took office on July 1, 2010.
Not ready to believe the SWS survey because his approval and trust ratings barely changed in a similar survey by Pulse Asia, Malacanang, according to the Philippine Star, commissioned a survey that showed an even worse drop – a net approval rating of only +35 percent, 44-percent less than Pulse Asia’s figures and 14-percent lower than those of SWS.
It was even worse for both the Senate and House of Representatives, whose approval ratings dropped by at least 14 percentage points — +39 percent for the Senate and +32 for the House. The worst drop was on the ratings of Senate President Franklin Drilon, the biggest supporter of pork barrel in Congress whose approval rating dropped to 50 percent from 62 percent in June and a trust rating of only 46 percent.
The surveys reflected the anger of the people over the misuse of pork barrel and DAP funds as the surveys were conducted at the peak of the pork barrel controversy in late September and early October.
But obviously, the surveys didn’t matter to Aquino and his congressional cohorts. The senators later voted to realign their PDAF funds into Aquino’s calamity fund, while the congressmen passed in less than one hour a General Appropriations Bill that included their pork barrel as line items for projects of their choice.
Aquino, on the other hand, continued to defend his illegal use of the DAP funds, which were culled from unspent or un-appropriated funds of the various government agencies in 2012. He said he smelled a conspiracy among suspects in the plunder charges and some elements of media, and insisted that the DAP funds should be treated as stimulus to economic growth. How could the billions stimulate the economy when most of the funds went to the pockets of the lawmakers and unscrupulous businessmen like Janet Lim Napoles?
The sentiment of the people did not seem to matter to Aquino, who said in 2011 that he would vow to the wishes of his “bosses.” His arrogance in the pork barrel controversy has betrayed his insincerity and dishonesty in dealing with the people’s trust and money.
Even former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, one of his closest friends and allies, distanced himself from Aquino’s stance on PDAF and DAP when he assailed in a speech before the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) the President’s “constitutionally infirm act” of augmenting” non-existing” items in the budget law and realigning the savings of the executive branch to the legislative, referring to the disbursement by Aquino of P50 million to P100 million to senators and P10 million to P15 million to congressmen in DAP funds shortly after the impeachment and conviction of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.
Lacson, who never availed of his pork barrel allotment when he was a senator and who has consistently opposed pork barrel, said the country was now saddled with a P5.684-trillion debt that enabled the government to accumulate “savings” of P669 billion that was being used to impose a “fiscal dictatorship” to control all branches of government and to perpetuate greed and corruption.
Lacson said the national budget had more than doubled under Aquino just in his first year.
“In 2002, the first national budget under former President [Gloria] Arroyo was P782.9 billion. Nine years later, in 2011, the first national budget under President Aquino had more than doubled to P1.645 trillion,” Lacson said.
“An ordinary citizen’s valid question is — Why do we keep on borrowing when we keep on saving? I will venture a guess for an answer: Para may mapaglaruang pondo ang mga nasa gobyerno, (So that those in the government will have funds to play with),” Lacson said.
The business community had criticized Aquino for under-spending in the first two years of his administration, resulting in huge budget surpluses and billions of unspent appropriations that were eventually used to control Congress in the matter of Corona’s impeachment and the approval of the controversial Reproduction Health Law.
And yet, despite these savings, Lacson correctly pointed out, the Aquino administration increased its foreign borrowings as it increased the national budget year after year. Now, every single Filipino owes almost P62,000 each mostly to foreigners.
Aquino has also chosen to ignore the appeal of both the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) and the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association (PMAAA) for Aquino to return to the National Treasury the Malampaya Fund and other government funds spent at his discretion so their use could be monitored.
The PMA alumni, in a statement, entitled “A Call for Good Governance,” urged Congress and the President to totally abolish the PADF or pork barrel funds in whatever form and for Aquino to discontinue disbursement of the DAP funds. They also demanded that all revenues of the government, such as the Malampaya Fund, Pagcor and PCSO funds, be deposited to the National Treasury and be spent only in accordance with the General Appropriations Act.
The retired generals also asked all those implicated in the pork barrel scandal to take a leave of absence or to resign, and asked the Judiciary to speed up the prosecution of these cases. Finally, they called on all public officials, including members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces to “set the correct example in good governance, perform their duties as protectors of the people and the State (underlining mine), and not use their office to amass wealth illegally.”
Then President Joseph Estrada made the mistake of ignoring a similar plea by the retired generals in 2000 at the height of his impeachment trials and paid dearly for it, forced out of office by an obvious military coup that was made to appear as EDSA People Power in January 2001.
Aquino has to reconsider his arrogant position on the pork barrel issue. He promised to listen to his “bosses” — the people, not the military — and this may be a good time to fulfill at least one of his many promises.