Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeing beyond the hypocrisy

By Val G. Abelgas
 (File Photo)

(File Photo)
There is an unwritten code among PR practitioners that when you are in the losing end of a controversy, you explain your side once and try to keep your mouth shut. Like being caught in a quicksand, the more you move or, in this case, the more you talk, the deeper you’ll sink in the hole.
Either the officials of the Malacanang press office are amateurs in damage control or they just can’t get their boss to understand the worsening situation they are in on the matter of the Supreme Court decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) because President Aquino has obviously refused to keep quiet on the issue.
After Malacanang spokesmen appeared to have toned down their rhetoric over the issue, Aquino went on attack mode again and directly accused the tribunal of implementing their own DAP-like measure when the Court requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that funds earmarked for the building of the Manila Hall of Justice be transferred from the Department of Justice.
The DBM, according to Philippine Star columnist Alex Magno, offered P100 million from “pooled savings” but the tribunal rejected the offer through a court resolution.
Bayan Muna party list Rep. Neri Colmenares asked why the budget for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, which would house city courts, was placed with the DOJ in the first place when the construction of courts in the country rightly belongs to the Supreme Court.
“This means the Supreme Court will have to beg from the President for the construction of its courts like an RTC judge pleading for funds from the fiscal or prosecutor. This is purposely done by the executive so it can exercise control over the judiciary thereby impairing the independence of the court,” he said.
In the same speech during rites for the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, Aquino again accused the justices of changing the rules on “good faith” when they ruled that some acts committed under the Disbursement Acceleration Program were unconstitutional.
Aquino is insisting that he acted in good faith because, according to him, Section 39 of the Administrative Code of 1987 allowed cross-border transfer of funds, and even accused the justices of failing to consider the law in their decision. He asked the people to read the “dissenting opinions.”
That alone showed his ignorance of the law because it was a unanimous decision (13-0) and there was no dissenting opinion. Two justices wrote separate concurring opinions that mentioned the Administrative Code of 1987, but did not say the law justified the actions made under the DAP.
Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe said in her concurring opinion that the government used Section 38 and 39 in justifying the DAP. Bernabe, however, warned that the President “must always observe and comply with existing constitutional and statutory limitations,” otherwise “he would be substituting his will over that of Congress and thereby violate the separation of powers principle…”
Legal experts said Aquino could not use it to justify his actions because the law, which was decreed by the revolutionary government of Aquino’s mother, President Cory Aquino, was superseded by the 1987 Constitution, which expressly disallowed such actions. Even Cory did not avail of the provisions of the Administrative Code that she decreed. Neither did former President Joseph Estrada.
Constitutional law experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a leading member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission and dean of the Ateneo College of Law, and Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, said that contrary to the President’s claim, the SC justices were aware of the Administrative Code of 1987.
Fr. Aquino wrote: “Any freshman student of law will know that when you interpret a statutory provision (referring to Section 39), you always do so in harmony with the Constitution (Article VI, Section 25)… You don’t ever make a statute qualify the Constitution. Whatever the grant of power the Administrative Code may seem to afford the President, such a statutory provision must always be read in consonance with the Constitution, and never against it.”
Fr. Bernas, on the other hand, disputed the President’s contention that Section 39 and the code are “still in effect.” He clarified that the code and other statutes or executive orders issued before the enactment of 1987 Constitution must be compatible with the latter to remain valid.
Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno commented that the constitutional violations under the DAP was more serious than those of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which the court had earlier also declared unconstitutional.
In separate speeches, Aquino insisted that the DAP was implemented to stimulate the economy and the funds were channeled to urgent projects that would produce jobs and improve the economy. But it turns out most of the fund releases were political in nature rather than economic because many of the projects, which were far from urgent, were given to favored members of Congress and other politicians obviously for political leverage.
For example, Senators Ralph Recto and Nancy Binay – who, by the way, was impressive in the Senate hearing on the DAP – questioned why the Aquino government impounded and diverted some P14.5 billion meant to rehabilitate 22 key airports and seaports to projects “with little or no economic impact.”
“I could not understand why the repair and rehabilitation of the airports, seaports and lighthouses would be abandoned when these could have accelerated and spurred economic growth,” Recto said.
Binay, on the other hand, asked: “On these shelved projects, did you even conduct research [about whether]… these projects have a multiplier effect compared to those you have approved under DAP?” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya couldn’t answer the question. Abad asked Abaya to explain, while Abaya repeatedly said he was still a member of Congress at that time.
Clearly, the Aquino administration has no clear answers to the points raised against the DAP, but continues to lie through its teeth in claiming “good faith.”
The people are beginning to see beyond the hypocrisy of this administration. Aquino’s approval ratings — even on his two biggest promises of curbing corruption and poverty — have dropped to their lowest levels. He set the bar high with his promises of reforms and now he is doing exactly what his predecessors practised – patronage politics.
Worse, his campaign manager in the presidential elections, Sen. Serge Osmena, and another ally, Sen. Antonio Trillanes declared him a failure in his handling of the energy crisis, poverty, and the DAP.
Osmena cited Aquino’s management failure while Trillanes said Filipinos have to bear and live with the shortcomings of a “sloppy” president because “we have chosen one who is sloppy.”
Maybe Aquino can still salvage his legacy by pushing for the passage of the proposed Freedom of Information Act. But he still refuses to certify it as urgent and could only promise to pass it before the end of his term in 2016. Maybe the FOI law would see the light of day a few days before the May 2016 presidential elections, when it could no longer be used to probe Aquino’s actions.
His promise on the FOI is as empty as the others.

‘Drilon, Roxas got choicest cuts from DAP’

 (The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and other close allies of President Aquino were accused yesterday of getting the “choicest cuts” from the P177-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna said major projects of Drilon and Roxas were among the first to receive funding from DAP before the Supreme Court (SC) declared it unconstitutional.
Colmenares said among the first projects that DAP had funded were the Jalaur Dam in Iloilo and the supposed LRT 1 and 2 rehabilitation.
“How can the Jalaur Dam pet project of Senator Drilon be fast disbursing when it would take years to complete?” he asked.
These ran counter to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s claim that the program was used to fund fast-disbursing projects to spur economic growth, he added.
Colmenares said the agreement between the government and Export-Import Bank of Korea to finance the dam with counterpart funds in the Philippines was signed only on Aug. 9, 2012, and that it is not in the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
“But how come that on Dec. 21, 2011 or at least seven months before the loan signing, President Aquino already approved the release of P450 million in DAP funds for the dam?” he asked.
Zarate said the LRT Lines 1 and 2 rehabilitation projects were allotted P1.8 billion in October 2011, and almost three years have passed but the projects are not yet complete.
“Only about 40 percent of the fund or P889 million has been disbursed,” he said.
“Clearly, Secretary Abad is lying before us on national television. This, despite it being not appropriated in the 2011 GAA and the LRT commuters still suffer the same fate every day when they ride the LRT.”
Zarate criticized Drilon for acting as if it was just fine for Abad to violate the law during the Senate hearing on the DAP.
“For a Senate president to act like that is unparliamentary,” he said. “He should have at least chided the DBM for violating the GAA. It is as if the Senate president willingly acted in complicity with the DBM for violating the GAA.
“It is no wonder that Senator Drilon was the one coaching Secretary Abad during the DAP Senate hearing, and that President Aquino’s Cabinet secretaries were there to defend the DAP because many of them were the ones who got the funds.”
Aquino criticized at UP
At the University of the Philippines, the College of Law student government criticized Aquino for his televised remarks implying a constitutional crisis over the SC decision on the DAP.
“The (UP Law student government) condemns the President’s implied threat of a constitutional crisis in the event that the Supreme Court does not reconsider its decision,” read the statement released on its Facebook page.
“This is an act which contravenes the doctrine of separation of powers and stands in utter disrespect of the Court, the latter being the sole arbiter to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.”
The student government backed the SC decision and demanded full accountability from all government officials involved in its creation, particularly Aquino.
“In a country which has committed itself to the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution, we cannot tolerate any act in contravention of the highest law of the land, regardless of the status of the individuals propagating it or the rectitude of their intention,” read the statement.
The student government said allowing Aquino to get away with DAP sets a dangerous precedent as it undermines the “authority of the judiciary and its constitutionally mandated judicial power.”
“The institutionalization of practices clearly against the law can never be rationalized by good intentions,” read the statement.
“Truly, the Filipino people cannot stand idly and watch the executive insist on the contrary.”
Another criticism
Bishops from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) said Aquino ignores the people’s cry for an end to pork barrel politics, particularly presidential pork barrel.
Bishop Reuel Marigza, UCCP general secretary, said Aquino “deflected attention towards the Napoles pork barrel scam and projected himself as ferreting out corruption and bad practices.”
“Worse, President Aquino attempted to defend his misdoings as both correct and in good faith,” he said.
“As we continue to scrutinize the processes used by DAP, we clearly see violations of the law.”
Joining Marigza in the protest were UCCP bishops Elorde Sambat in North Luzon jurisdictional area; Emergencio Padillo in Middle Luzon; Joel Tendero in South Luzon; Jaime Moriles in East Visayas; Jezer Bertoldo in West Visayas; Melzar Labuntog in North-West Mindanao, and Hamuel Tequis in South-East Mindanao jurisdictional area.
The bishops accused Aquino of encroaching on the power of the legislature “by deceptively re-naming allocated budgets as savings and using them for projects and purposes that had not undergone congressional approval.
“President Aquino has obviously veered off any daang matuwid,” they said.
“What makes matters worse and insults our Christian sensibility,“ they said, “is that DAP continues to be insisted as a measure to ensure that funds are properly used so that social services and public goods are delivered to the people – especially the poor – as swiftly as possible as if we are expected to accept violations of law because they are for the poor.”
“The (DAP) has become a path to betrayal of the public’s trust, causing severe damage to Aquino’s reputation and destroying any semblance of fighting corruption.”
Divine guidance
Bishop Vicente Navarra and the Diocese of Bacolod held a prayer vigil last night at the San Sebastian Cathedral to ask for divine guidance to enlighten the nation on the issues of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and DAP.
In a statement Fr. Felix Pasquin, San Sebastian Cathedral rector, said the Prayer Vigil for Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in Public Service will held after the 6 p.m. Mass.  – Paolo Romero, Janvic Mateo, Artemio Dumlao, Danny Dangcalan

FOCUS | Economy under the Aquino administration a case of worsening exclusivity

File photo illustrating the great divide in Philippine society, the inequality that has haunted administrations past and present. BERNARD TESTA, INTERAKSYON.COM
The online news portal of TV5
After four years of the Aquino administration, the most recent available data on various socioeconomic indicators affirm the exclusionary nature of the country's economic growth:

1. Jobs crisis continues

The country is still facing the most unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in history. The government’s labor force data shows that there were 4.5 million unemployed (correcting for official government underestimation) and 7.3 million underemployed. Put together, this means that 11.5 million Filipinos (over ¼ of the labor force) are unemployed or looking for more work.

The country's unemployment rate – whether using IBON's adjusted estimate of 10.4% or the official rate of 7.0% – is the worst in Asia. Recent unemployment rates in other Asian countries including those at similar levels of economic development as the Philippines are much lower: Brunei (1.1%), Cambodia (0.10%), Indonesia (5.7%), Malaysia (2.9%), Myanmar (4.0%), Singapore (2.0%), Thailand (0.9%), Vietnam (2.2%), South Korea (3.7%), India (3.8%) and China (4.1%). It is not coincidental that the Philippines has among the most liberalized economies among this group.

It is also important to assess the quality of work in interpreting the 2014 April round figures. Around 1.7 million additional employed persons were reported to reach a total of 38.7 million employed. However, the additional work was in effect wholly in part-time work which increased by 2.2 million compared to a marked 673,000 decline in the numbers in full-time work. These results continue a marked trend since the start of the Aquino administration in 2010 of part-time work steadily outpacing full-time work. Nearly four in 10 jobs (38.7%) in the country now are part-time and very likely low-pay and insecure work.

It is also important to consider that the number of those employed but classified as working without pay increased by 296,000 from last year to reach over 4.3 million in April. The informal sector – composed of own-account and unpaid family workers – thus continues to grow and reached 16.5 million or a very substantial four out of 10 (42.5%) of total employed in the same period.

The number of unemployed remains most concentrated among the youth where half (49.8%) of all unemployed are in the 15-24 year old age group – at least 19.1 million youth nationwide – and another almost third (30.5%) are in the 25-34 age group.

Among the unemployed, almost four out of 10 (36.9%) have a college education with at least 655,000 or over two out of 10 (22.4%) actually having graduated. Another one out of 10 (8.6%) have at least some post-secondary education while over three out of 10 (33.2%) have a high school degree. That nearly eight out of 10 (78.2%) of unemployed Filipinos have at least a high school degree, with others even having post-secondary or college degrees, underscores how the main factor driving joblessness is not low educational attainment so much as the weak job creation by the economy.

This point is further stressed by considering the continuing large numbers of Filipinos forced to go abroad to find work, which includes among the country's most educated. The LFS is not able to capture this because of some long-unresolved methodological limitations in its survey. However, administrative records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) report that 1.8 million Filipinos left the country for work in 2013 - which is equivalent to a record 5,031 leaving the country every day. This is more than the daily average of 4,937 leaving in 2012 although a smaller year-on-year increase than in previous years.

2. Rising prices eroding low incomes

Food prices started increasing more rapidly in the latter part of 2013 and then in the first semester of 2014, which further reduced the value of already low and falling real incomes. These pushed monthly inflation rates to their highest in the last 2 1/2 years especially with how food consumption can account for 40-50% of total expenditure of the country's vast low- income households.

The rising prices have to be measured for their impact given the actual levels of poor families' incomes. Rough estimates on the results of the latest 2012 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) show that the poorest 70% of Filipinos – or some 66 million Filipinos – try to live off incomes of around just P38, P51, P59, P71, P84, P100 and P125 per day (corresponding to the lowest seven income deciles). These were computed by dividing average annual income per decile by 365 days and an assumed average family size of five. Larger families mean lower incomes per family member and vice versa for smaller families.

The cost of education has also started to crawl upwards. The opening of the school year 2014-2015 had the Department of Education (DepED) approving four-fifths of 1,477 petitions for tuition fee increases in private elementary and secondary schools. Similarly, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved over four-fifths of applications for tuition fee increases for academic year 2014-2015. This has meant an average increase in tuition fees and of school fees nationwide by around 8% and going up to 13-14% in some regions; the tuition fee increase in the NCR is 6 percent.

Oil product price increases, meanwhile, are moderate for now although the price of gasoline, diesel and LPG still generally remain higher than in recent years. The price of LPG has tempered from extremely high prices in 2013. The momentum of rising power rates in the last part of 2013 has, however, been arrested with the Supreme Court continuing for an indefinite period its temporary restraining order on the Meralco rate hike upon alleged wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) manipulation.

All these price pressures drove monthly inflation rates to a range of 3.9-4.5% in the first semester of 2014. The lowest inflation was recorded in March (3.9%) and the highest in May (4.5%) while inflation remains high at 4.4% in June. These rates are much higher compared to the annual averages of 3.2% in 2012 and 3.0% in 2013. Accelerating inflation is among the most important precipitating factors for interest rate hikes by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

3. Poverty is still severe

The government’s poverty figures at most only measure trends among the poorest 20-30% of the population or at the very deepest levels of poverty in Filipinos and families in the country – which amounts to around 25 million Filipinos in severe poverty in 2013. As it is, using but reinterpreting data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), some 56 million Filipinos live off around P100 or less a day and some 66 million Filipinos live off around P125 or less a day. These are better indicators of the real extent of poverty in the country. They are also more consistent with IBON national opinion survey results which reported 67.0% of respondents describing their family's situation as poor.

It must be noted that there are no significant changes in the real economy, whether on the production or demand side, to suggest that it has already shifted to a new and higher level of economic expansion. In the absence of any structural transformation the economy's trajectory in the next few years will be heavily influenced by the degree of government spending and by how far private construction increases, which remains a question.

Over the medium-term, the Aquino government is still relying on greater foreign investments to propel economic growth and development. The recent credit rating upgrades have been played up as outcomes of good governance and signaling increased flows of foreign debt and equity financing to the country. But the problem with this is that any increased foreign financing will have a short-term and limited impact if they are concentrated in foreign firms in low value-added areas of the economy rather than building domestic agriculture and Filipino industry.

The poor socioeconomic performance is the necessary result of a Philippine economy that does not serve the needs of the majority of Filipinos. The economy is dysfunctional for not having agricultural and industrial sectors commensurate to its vast human and natural resources. It is also organized to generate wealth for a few rather than provide for the needs of its tens of millions of peasants, fisherfolk, private and public sector workers, employees, and smaller domestic enterprises.

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

Getting job descriptions right

By Fr. Ranhilio Aquino
Last week, someone who did not like my comments on current affairs slammed me in a broadsheet column for commenting on the law, considering that I am not a lawyer.  For the nth time, here is a simple distinction.
There are people like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein who write physics, teach physics and publish on physics.  They are theoretical physicists.  They deal with physics as an academic discipline.  On the other hand, there are physicists hired by NASA.  They build satellites, maintain those in orbit, oversee space missions and plan such exotica as space-walks.  These are practical physicists.  They often do not publish or research, because that is neither their interest nor their job description.
There are economics professors for whom economics is purely an academic discipline. A good example in this country is the inimitable Winnie Monsod. Such academics churn out theories, discuss them in their classes —often with the sophistication of which practitioners are incapable, because that is their job.  They are theorists of economics. No one faults them for not having sat for examinations for real estate brokers, or for stock brokers.  On the other hand, there are practitioners in economics: those who govern banks, direct corporations and manage enterprises.  They seldom publish, research and lecture.  Some do, though, as some passing engagement.
In medicine, it is the same.  There are some experts in biochemistry, endocrinology, oncology, HIV and AIDS research etc. who are always in laboratories, who then publish their findings, discuss them at scientific assemblies and exchange output with fellow researchers.  They do not see patients nor work in hospitals.  They may not even be licensed to do so, because they do not care to be licensed.  That is not their interest.  They are researchers. Most of the time, they have PhDs or other doctorate degrees in their subjects of research. On the other hand, the physician who checks on your children when they are stricken by chicken pox or mumps, or who must attend to you when you are rushed to the trauma center may neither have the time nor the interest in research and publication, in lecture and exchange, but he must be licensed to practice medicine.
It is the same thing with law.  Law, as a part of the broader field of social science, can be studied as an academic discipline.  It is the subject of research, publication, scholarly exchange and discussion.  This is the field of the law scholar and the law professor.  His ancestor was the Roman jurisconsult.  He does not go to court and does not live by fees paid him by clients.  He may not be licensed to practice law, because that is neither his interest nor his concern.  On the other hand, there are those you go to when someone occupies your vacant lot without your permission, or when you lose the count in an election and you think you won, or when you want to collect from a debtor who has forgotten to pay back, or when you are charged with plunder.  Then you are represented by one licensed to practice law—an attorney.  Many times, practitioners do not write, research and publish —nor are they too willing to venture far from established doctrine.  Their ancestors were the lawyer-orators of Roman times, like Cicero, and the practitioners in Medieval Times who depended on the jurisconsults and professors for authoritative and thoughtful interpretations of the law. 
A final analogy: One can study the math and the physics, the mechanics and the technology involved in the motion of a car.  It is stupid to require for such a level of cogitation a driver’s license.  It is a different story when you want to run a car as a taxi-driver.  To do that, you need a driver’s license although you may not care too much about the calculus by which the flow of engine oil can be computed, or the physics by which the car carries its weight and that of its passengers.
So why do I write on the law, comment on it and publish books and articles on the subject?  The simplest reason is that I have studied the subject and am continually studying it.  To do that you do not need the title “Atty”, but one thing is for sure: You should not be dumb and there must be enough people who think you are not dumb to listen to you!

‘Bangsa law may spark war’

by Joel M. Sy Egco Senior Reporter And Jerry Adlaw Correspondent

THE impasse over alleged “alterations” in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may trigger a fresh conflict that could leave the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at the losing end if their differences are not immediately settled, a political analyst warned on Thursday.

Ramon Casiple said the two sides should promptly agree on contents of the draft bill to avoid further misunderstanding that may lead to the weakening of the MILF’s position as representatives of Muslims in southern Mindanao.

“The GPH [Government of the Philippines] and MILF have to agree on the concept of autonomy within the constitutional framework,” Casiple told The Manila Times.

He stressed that unless this is done, “both would lose.” But the MILF, he said, stands to lose more.

“The government will face a resurgent Moro rebellion. The MILF would lose more, their credibility and leadership of the Bangsamoro,” Casiple pointed out.

Earlier, chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer admitted that certain provisions in the draft measure may be unconstitutional and that is why members of the government and MILF peace panels are trying to fix these loopholes.

Ferrer said both parties are looking for “alternative solutions” to these questionable provisions so that the draft measure, once submitted to Congress, will stand legal scrutiny.

Ustadz Pendie Colano, the chairman of the Selatan State
Revolutionary Committee (SKSRC) of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), also warned that the delay in the BBL passage may cause more serious problems and put the entire Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in jeopardy.

“This is why we believe that President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd] is not really sincere in what he was saying because it’s a kind of divide and rule tactic,” Colano said.

“What will happen if both the MNLF and MILF agreements will collapse? That would mean a serious war between the Bangsamoro forces and the Philippine government,” he added.

Colano said Aquino’s plan to have a Bangsamoro sub-state in place before he steps down in 2016 would not happen “because the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has urged the Philippine government to recognize only one agreement and that is the peace pact with the MNLF signed on September 2, 1996 in Jeddah.”

He noted that the major cause of disagreement between the government and MILF panels could be the surrendering of firearms.

Colano explained that MILF ground commanders are not willing to give up their sophisticated firearms.

“For the Bangsamoro fighters, if they surrender their guns and [ammunition], their lives would have no meaning at all,” he said.

Morohomsar Kidatu Gawil, the former 104th MILF battalion commander who split from the leadership of MILF Chairman Ibrahim Murad and now leads a 30-man group, said he cautioned his comrades not to trust the peace negotiations.

Gawil added that what happened to the MNLF led by Chairman Nur Misuari is now happening with the MILF.

“Sa huli, mawawalan ng silbi ang tunay na layunin ng pangkapayapaang pag-uusap [In the end, the peace talks will prove worthless],” he told The Manila Times.

Gawil noted that Misuari was “isolated” when the government accused him of ordering the attacks in Zamboanga City last year.

“Nawala si Misuari sa eksena dahil gusto ni President Aquino na maipatupad nya ang kanyang hangaring mapadali ang pangkapayapaang pag-uusap sa MILF sa pamumuno ni Murad, pero tingnan mo naman kung ano ang resulta, hindi magawa-gawa ang Bangsamoro Basic Law dahil pagkatapos ng usapin sa pamamagitan ng MNLF-OIC-MILF na pag-uusap lumalabas na hindi naayon sa usaping pangkapayapaan ang ginawang mga hakbang ni President Aquino kung kaya di nya maipilit at maisulong ang kanyang gusto mangyari para sa gagawing Bangsamoro sub-state dahil talagang hindi pwede [Misuari was elbowed out of the scene because Aquino wanted to rush the peace negotiations with the MILF under the leadership of Murad but look at the result, the Bangsamoro Basic Law has been delayed],” he said.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, former ARMM executive secretary and member of the Technical Working Group for the MILF panel, said the problem could have been prevented if the contents of the mutually agreed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro [FAB] that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro [CAB] were simply adopted.

“The government has repeatedly said that it will not sign an agreement that it cannot implement and that both the FAB and CAB are constitutional. And so what is so unconstitutional in just copying the language and provisions of the CAB into the BBL?” Sinarimbo, also a senior adviser on political transitions at the United Nations, noted.

On Thursday, Malacañang said that Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos Deles was having a meeting with other stakeholders in an attempt to break the impasse.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Deles will announce the results of her meeting.

Coloma said the President will meet with MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad at a later date but this is yet to be firmed up.

“We wait when this will happen depending on [the time and date] that would be agreed [on]. We witnessed the fruits of their previous meetings and we expect the same holds true with upcoming ones,” Coloma told reporters.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PNoy turns emotional, says Filipino worth fighting for

GMA News 
PNoy delivers his 5th SONA. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 28. Joe Galvez
PNoy delivers his 5th SONA. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 28. Joe Galvez
(Updated 7:08 p.m.) Faced with mounting criticism and eroding approval ratings, President Benigno Aquino III on Monday turned emotional in his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Towards the last part of his SONA, Aquino’s voice broke and he appeared close to tears while recalling the memory of his parents, slain Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Aquino.
“Mga boss, binigyan ninyo ako ng pagkakataong pamunuan ang transpormasyon… Kung tinalikuran ko ang pagkakataon, parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang aking ama’t ina at ang lahat ng inalay nila para sa atin. Hindi po mangyayari iyon,” he said.
A reluctant candidate, Aquino was a senator who was propelled into the 2010 presidential race following the outpouring of grief when his mother died the previous year.
“Hangga’t nagsisilbi tayong lakas ng isa’t isa, patuloy nating mapapatunayan na the Filipino is worth dying for, the Filipino is worth living for, at idagdag ko naman po, the Filipino is definitely worth fighting for,” the President added.
Part of the phrase—the Filipino is worth dying for—comes from the President’s father, Ninoy Aquino, who was gunned down shortly after his arrival in 1983. The assassination ignited protests against the dictatorial Marcos regime and led to the 1986 EDSA uprising, which swept Mrs. Aquino to the presidency.
Aquino delivered his speech amid unresolved questions about his administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which has been declared partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The executive branch has already appealed the high court’s decision on the spending mechanism.
The President is facing three impeachment complaints before the House of Representatives, two of which cited DAP as basis.
Pollster Pulse Asia earlier reported a significant drop in Aquino’s trust and approval ratings based on a survey covering the period when certain acts under the DAP were struck down by the high court.
PNoy turns personal
In a rare reflective mood, Aquino recalled how he almost died during a failed coup attempt against his mother in 1987 and said the spectre of getting killed during his incumbency has crossed his mind.
“Pangalawang buhay ko na po ito. Hindi po natin maiiwasang mag-isip, may araw kayang pagsampa ng entablado, ito na ba ang huling araw? May nagtagumpay bang magtanim ng bomba? Magtatagumpay ba ang may maiitim na balak?” he said.
Aquino said if anything happened to him, he would have been satisfied with what he had accomplished in his more than four years as the country’s top elected official.
“Kapag dumating nga ang panahong iyon, masasabi ko bang okay na rin? Sasabihin ko po sa inyo, mata sa mata, sa lahat po ng inabot natin, ako po’y masasabi kong kuntento na ako,” he said.
The President’s sisters also became emotional during the speech. His youngest sister, actress Kris Aquino, was seen crying at the gallery while her brother was talking about their parents’ legacy.
After his speech, President Aquino received a standing ovation and rousing applause from Congress members, most of whom are his allies.
Initially combative
Earlier in the speech, Aquino had been in a combative mode, criticizing his “desperate” detractors for supposedly stepping up the campaign against him.
“Habang nakikita ang pagbabago sa lipunan, nangyayari na nga ang ating inasahan: lalong dumadalas, lalong umiinit, at lalong tumitindi ang pag-atake nila sa atin… Desperado na po sila,” the President said.
“Sanay na tayong sinasalubong ng negatibong komentarista sa almusal, pang-aalipusta sa tanghalian, insulto sa hapunan, may intriga pa bilang midnight snack,” he added.
The President sought to rally the public against his critics, saying the latter are out to deprive Filipinos of government services.
“Ang totoo po, hindi naman ako ang kinokontra ng mga ito, kundi ang taumbayang nakikinabang sa tuwid na daan,” Aquino said. “Mga Boss, kontra po sila sa inyo,” he added, referring to his constituents using the terminology he introduced in his first SONA in 2010.
Aquino also openly threatened rice hoarders and corrupt officials at the Bureau of Customs.
“Kumikilos kayo kontra sa mga Pilipino; kami naman, isinusulong ang interes ng bawat Pilipino. Tingnan natin kung sino ang mananalo,” he said.
A substantial part of the President’s speech, which lasted for an hour and a half, focused on the Aquino administration’s achievements.
He also cited the supposed benefits of DAP in the first part of his speech.—KBK/YA/NB, GMA News

Shameless senators

By Manila Standard Today

‘SHAMEFUL’ does not begin to describe the behavior of most senators during last week’s sham hearing on the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program.
The Senate finance committee had called the hearing purportedly to grill government officials on serious allegations that public funds had been misappropriated through the DAP, parts of which the Supreme Court has already declared as unconstitutional.
What followed instead was a seven-hour defense of the program, led by none other than the senators themselves.
With Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV leading the way, President Aquino’s allies took turns posing leading questions that allowed Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to sing praises to the discredited program.
Drilon also used the opportunity to smear administration critics by getting Abad to testify that they, too, received funding from the DAP—without saying that the lawmakers eventually canceled their projects and returned the funding when they realized how legally untenable the program was.
Trillanes, alternately licking the President’s boots and waving pom-poms, even urged Abad to push the Palace communications group to spread the word more aggressively that the DAP was both legal and good for the country.
The administration senators bleated the administration line—again and again—that contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the unconstitutional transfer of funds was not illegal, and that nobody should be called to account simply because they acted with good intentions.
At the hearing, most of the senators also seemed to accept without question the administration mantra that the DAP had an immediate beneficial impact on the economy, even though Palace documents show that funding for the rehabilitation of airports and seaports—worth about P14.5 billion over two years--had been impounded in favor of projects such as stem cell research, the rehabilitation of Malacañang Palace and a capital infusion for the central bank, none of which had been approved by Congress.
Even though seven groups had successfully challenged the DAP before the Supreme Court, the chairman of the finance committee, Senator Francis Escudero, had not invited a single one to the hearing to challenge the government claims.
Questioned about how his hearing had been transformed into a televised propaganda exercise for the DAP, Escudero merely shrugged off the criticism, saying nobody could control what individual senators said.
The hearing, in truth, was painful to watch. Given the contempt that the senators showed last week for our intelligence, it was fortunate that there was no on-screen sign language interpreter during the seven-hour, televised hearing. An honest interpreter would have been frozen in one pose--giving the nation a one-finger salute.

There’s the rub

There’s the Rub

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

I don’t know what P-Noy said yesterday. But last year, he sounded a note about legacy.

Midway into his term, he was at the top of his game. For two consecutive years up to that point, he had produced spectacular growth, a thing that, unlike the claims of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was acknowledged and marveled at by the global community. That community noted that the Philippines had even surpassed China’s growth rate, which of course had to be taken in stride given where both were coming from: China from mind-boggling plenitude and the Philippines from mind-boggling want. But it was impressive enough for Arroyo herself to recognize it, retreating from her carp about her former student being big on the moral and small on the economic, and congratulating him for it.

There was just one problem, and midway into his term, it had become a glaring one. It was that he had no successor. He had no one to carry on his work. He had no one to perpetuate his legacy.

It wasn’t just that the future held the most tremendous uncertainties, it was that the future held the most tremendous perils. P-Noy himself had said repeatedly he would not extend his term by hook or by crook and, unlike his predecessor’s, his words the nation could take pretty much as gospel truth. That left the two main contenders to become president, neither of whom seemed fit, or desirous, to carry on P-Noy’s reforms.

Indeed, they seemed headed to wreck them. Mar Roxas seemed the last person guaranteed to unite the country. When P-Noy delivered his State of the Nation Address last year, Roxas hadn’t yet shown the bad manners and wrong conduct he subsequently would when confronting Leyte’s officials—it wasn’t a dialogue, it was a harangue—in the nightmarish aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” Jojo Binay, on the other hand, seemed the last person for us to want to trust the national treasury to, particularly after it had grown considerably with sustained growth. The charges of graft that have been brought against him—of late by a group calling itself the “Save Makati Movement”—may be politically motivated (what isn’t in this country?) but that doesn’t mean they’re not true.

P-Noy himself addressed the problem in his Sona last year. That was by saying that he was confident his gains would not be lost because of two things. One was the culture of anticorruption, if not of honesty and dedication, that was sweeping through the ranks of the bureaucracy. The spirit of the “daang matuwid” was taking root among government workers which could not be thoroughly undone by his successor. Two was that the people themselves would not allow it. Having tasted the fruits of “kapag walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” they would not allow the gains to be lost.

Arguably, these were not entirely platitudes, or wish-fulfillments. Government workers had developed some pride in their work, which contrasted with the demoralization they were mired in during the previous regime. And despite the growth not being inclusive, or seeping down to the poor, the promise of it doing so in time, a perception borne out by surveys that said people generally felt bullish about their future, gave some assurance they would not want to go back to dark times.

But for all that, you had to wonder at how deeply rooted those things had become. You had to wonder if they would be able to withstand the winds of a subsequent regime not particularly given to the same mindset, thrust and direction. I didn’t share P-Noy’s confidence they would.

I myself thought that given that the next administration was very likely going to be vastly different from this one, the P-Noy administration’s best bet was to institutionalize the gains. It was to strengthen democracy’s institutions, particularly the one that insisted on separation of powers and checks and balances. It was to unleash a culture, or way of doing things, that said no one is above the law, neither pauper nor president, that is the path we have set before us, that is the daang matuwid. It was to make this way of life as universal as possible, as routine as possible, so that it took on the force of a natural expectation, so that it made the law impersonal, inexorable, majestic.

It is no small irony that that is the one thing this administration seems to have gone against of late. P-Noy’s defense of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and rebuke of the Supreme Court for doing its duty have larger and more lasting consequences. They go beyond the fate of the DAP, they strike at the heart of P-Noy’s legacy itself. They do not strengthen democracy’s institutions, least of all the Supreme Court. They do not propagate a culture that says no one is above the law, where a law is violated there must be rectification. They propagate a culture that says some people are exceptions, where a law is violated there must be a presumption of good faith. They make it the hardest thing to institutionalize the gains.

Certainly, they make it the hardest thing to bind subsequent administrations to the same commitments, the same restrictions, the same proclaimed pursuit of straightness. Or, what is but the same thing, they make it the hardest thing to program government to go on autopilot, the way the US government for example does, allowing Americans to survive bad presidents along with good ones. Which is what we desperately need, given that P-Noy has only two more years to go.

Despite the tragedy, or farce, of the DAP, we do need to have a sense of proportion too, we do need to have a reality check too: The P-Noy administration’s accomplishments—in sparking growth, in establishing peace, in vastly improving public service, to name but a few—are no mean things. How to sustain these things? How to assure continuity? How to perpetuate a legacy?

With the administration’s recent moves, alas, there’s the rub.

Read more:


IBON Foundation ∙ 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City Philippines 1103
Phone: (632) 927-6986/927-7060 to 61 ∙ Fax: 929-2496 ∙ ∙
Reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON executive director)
SONA-2014.2The president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) appears to have been designed to arrest the administration’s declining credibility rather than present the real state of the country and how the government can use its vast powers to improve the poor economic conditions of the majority. According to research group IBON, the SONA merely repeated so-called economic gains and evaded how any progress is felt merely by a few at the expense of many.
From a development perspective, Pres. Benigno Aquino’s SONA affirms that the administration is not reformist when it comes to the economy. The SONA affirmed its reliance on short-term measures to boost growth for the illusion of economic progress – primarily public infrastructure spending – and its avoidance of addressing the structural bottlenecks that cause underdevelopment. There are mainly three inter-related bottlenecks: low agricultural production and productivity, stunted domestic industry, and record joblessness and wide poverty.
The president did not acknowledge the failure of agrarian reform. Nine out of ten supposed beneficiary farmers still do not own the land they till and three out of four are not even able to make the onerous payments demanded by the government’s landlord-biased agrarian reform programs. He even just made excuses for his administration’s poor performance in land distribution which is well below the historical program average – at 19,700 hectares per month compared to the 27,600 hectares per month historical average. Also, instead of defining a vision for building Filipino industry he repeated the bankrupt notion that foreign investors and being open for business to foreigners is the path to domestic development.
IBON also noted how Pres. Aquino exaggerated gains against joblessness and poverty to divert from the exclusionary growth path of economic policies. Incomplete data for employment and poverty were used to give the impression of a turnaround in the conditions of the majority. However these used low standards including glossing over the deterioration in the quality of work and estimating inhumanly low poverty lines. Moreover, while Top 1000 corporate profits have increased by at least 34% and the wealth of the richest 40 Filipinos grew by at least 137% since 2010, the mandated minimum wage and average daily basic pay received by workers only increased by 2-3 percent.
Pres. Aquino also insisted on defending the undemocratic Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Yet this controversial scheme of presidential pork barrel makes claims of budget reforms hollow with the false assertion that the president can subvert institutional mechanisms because he has good intentions. The president’s SONA did not and could not refute how the administration intentionally makes billions of pesos in the national budget available for political and patronage purposes rather than rational economic uses. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

Nationalize not just Meralco but the entire power industry

WE fully endorse the call made by Columnist Rigoberto D. Tiglao in his piece yesterday “Nationalize Meralco.”

Mr. Tiglao’s column summarizes the ills that private ownership of the Manila Electric Company or Meralco, which is a monopoly on the transmission segment of the power industry in Metro Manila and environs, has caused in our country including our having one of the world’s most expensive electricity rates.

After years of the privatized power industry, the electricity supply situation here has become critical. We need more generating capacity but none massive enough to cover the shortfall is being built.

The local corporations that have made astronomical profits in the production and sale of electric power would not “waste” their wealth on building new generating plants. We therefore need foreign investment. But no foreign corporations would sink billions of US dollars into the power industry as long as our Constitution restricts foreigners to minority ownership.

So the best thing that the Philippines can do is nationalize, not just the Meralco or the transmission and marketing portion of the power industry, but the entire industry itself.

We agree with Mr. Tiglao when he says our country should cast away our blind adoption of the privatization policy at the behest of international moneylenders and peddlers of the idea that government ownership automatically means inefficiency and corruption.

Our history proves that to be true. But it is not the case in other states.

Mr. Tiglao, attacking our government’s “mimicking the West” on privatization, said in his column: “Public utilities are, by definition, essential services a state has the duty to provide its citizens. How does it do this? By getting contributions from its citizens, which we call taxes, which in principle should be provided mostly by the rich, the elite.

“But what does privatization do?

“It even makes public utilities a source of profits for the elite. In Meralco’s case, the private owners would first have to recover at least 6 percent of what it spent to buy the shares—or the cost of borrowing the funds from banks. Then it would need to make at least 10 percent—the minimum profit rate of capital in our country.

“That means a total of 16 percent returns the owners need to make Meralco worth their investments, which they, of course, can recover only by raising the prices of the firm’s product, electricity. That’s how much more—at the very least‚ Meralco’s electricity rates are than if it were run by a non-profit state firm.

“The usual argument against government ownership is that it is inherently inefficient, as it does not have the profit motive, and its managers don’t have to answer to shareholders.”

But Mr. Tiglao presented evidence to the contrary.

“Many government corporations or state-run firms in the world are even more efficient than their private counterparts. Even here, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is considered to be as efficient as any private firm.

“One of the biggest investment firms in the world is Temasek Holdings, which is owned by the government of Singapore. And even our elite capitalist group, the Ayalas obviously are in awe of Temasek’s capability: its subsidiary Singapore Telecoms is the biggest stockholder of Globe Telecoms, and reportedly has full control of the technical side of the business.

He continues to say that “we are the only country in Southeast Asia that got fooled by the propaganda that the power industry must be run by private firms.

“Indonesia: The electricity market of Indonesia is dominated by the state-owned Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN, National Electric Company). Except for several small, closed private networks operating in industrial areas, PLN is virtually the only supplier of electricity in the country. This is because under the 1985 Electricity Law, only public utilities are allowed to supply electric services.

“Malaysia: Three state-owned utilities—Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Sabah Electricity SDN Berhad, and Syarikat Sesco Berhad—operate and manage each of the country’s three separate grid systems for Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak. While Malaysia also has privately-owned independent power producers like us, all power is sold and distributed only to the state-owned TNB.

“Thailand: Most of the generation and all transmission activities are operated by a state-owned utility, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), with a few very small power producers. The distribution and supply activities are the responsibility of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and Provincial Electricity Authority, which gets its power from EGAT.

“People’s Republic of China: While private power firms have been allowed in the past several years, China’s electricity industry is controlled and dominated by 11 state firms. The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the largest state-owned electric utilities company in the world, distributes electricity throughout China.

“This SGCC is the state corporation which is the partner—the controlling partner, some allege—of mall-magnate Henry Sy’s son in our National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the firm privatized out of the National Power Corp.’s transmission part. How ironic is that? We privatize a state firm, which is taken over by a state firm of another country? It is NGCP which Meralco had blamed for not being able to power parts of Southern Luzon.

“The electric power industry in Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and Burma, are all run by state firms, of course.”

To stop the extremely high cost of electricity from being a major deterrent to our socio-economic development, we must nationalize the whole power industry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

'Malala nga!’

By Rod Kapunan

It is apparent that the beleaguered President does not seem to understand or know what he is talking about, and that blank wall is now causing irreparable rift between him and the Judiciary.  This we say because he insists that Abad’s concocted formula has legal basis despite the Supreme Court’s unanimous rebuke declaring unconstitutional his use of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
In his latest tirade against the High Court made on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, in Tanauan, Batangas, PNoy went on to accuse the Supreme Court of copying his budgetary formula.  In that, one could sense that he does not know that he is the country’s chief executive or even understands what an executive means to distinguish his role from those elected to enact the laws, and from those tasked to interpret the laws.  Ignorance combined with arrogance has made him so tenacious in refusing to concede that an appropriation is a law enacted by Congress authorizing the release of public funds, and the duty of the High Court is to simply examine whether the constitutional requisites were observed.
Hence, the issue brought to Court for interpretation was whether the constitutional process in securing an appropriation was observed, and whether the funds were arbitrarily allocated to other projects not otherwise included in the itemized General Appropriations Act (GAA).  In that, one could see that good faith is out of the question.  Moreover, the funds to be used in the appropriations act are derived from all taxes, customs duties and revenues earned by the government.  
The problem now is PNoy wants to retaliate in a tit-for-tat fight without him realizing that the declaration of DAP as unconstitutional already constitutes an indictment of him for violating the Constitution.  For premeditatedly by-passing Congress, he allocated to himself huge public funds, treating it as though it was his own to buy the loyalty of allies and to bribe political enemies. 
In the case of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) or P.D. No. 1949, which is now the target of his attack, his brainless lapdogs in Congress, like Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, wants to abrogate the JDF.  The problem is, his pathetic minions  can never proceed to abrogate that law without them pointing out how  it violated the Constitution, or coming out in their investigation pointing to some members of the judiciary as having illegally used and/or abused the JDF to commit graft.   No civilized courts of law will allow these delirious members of Congress to jump the gun on anybody without the proponents pointing out the violation, or that said law was used to commit graft as what PNoy now insinuates.   
To make it clear to those ranting in Congress, the JDF is a fund rightly earned by the courts for their services in bringing about speedy and orderly administration of justice.  Maybe Congress has the exclusive prerogative to enact laws vis-à-vis abolish laws, but that right ends when the proposed law would deprive the judiciary of its  rightful share of the funds,  more so if the funds being taken away clearly belongs to them as authorized in Section 7 of P.D. No. 1949.  In fact, once paid by litigants in the form of docket fees, they automatically form part of the Judiciary fund which under Section 3, Article VIII of the Constitution is assured of fiscal autonomy.  That silly proposal to abrogate the JDF constitutes an unwarranted act of interfering in the fiscal autonomy of the Judiciary.
Moreover, Section 3 provides that while Congress is allowed to reduce the appropriations given to the Judiciary, it cannot drastically reduce their budget lower than what Congress has appropriated in the previous fiscal year.  When PNoy cited as unlawful the decision of the Supreme Court to utilize its P1.865 billion savings for July 2012 to fund the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, and another P100 million for the construction of the Malabon Hall of Justice under what PNoy  coined  as “cross-border transfer of funds,” he should have lauded the High Court for its generosity.  This we say because it remains his principal duty as chief executive to implement projects itemized in the GAA.  The amount handed by the Supreme Court to voluntarily help finance the construction was merely a supplement, and in so doing so, the court violated no law.
Paradoxically, had the Supreme Court not volunteered to use the JDF fund to help construct the two buildings cited by PNoy, did the court violate any law?   On the contrary, the Supreme Court, as chief court administrator, merely implemented the mandate given to it under Section 1 of P.D. No. 1949, which reason why it was authorized to collect docket fees.  The justices have the widest latitude to use the JDF funds to supplement projects, but their   contribution, like the power of Congress, is circumscribed to improving the facilities of the courts and to giving incentives to its personnel which PNoy insinuates as a variation of his syndicated budgetary formula called DAP. 
On the other hand, PNoy’s juggling of funds to create artificial savings before the end of the fiscal year and using that to finance his priority projects while bypassing Congress and writing off the appropriated items in the GAA constitute a clear a clear violation of the Constitution. Likewise, his indiscrete use of funds for a different purpose makes him liable for technical malversation.   Similarly, even if  PNoy used the funds for the construction of the two halls of justice applying the Abad formula, many believed was originally formulated by Speaker Belmonte’s chief lieutenant and now his executive secretary,   still he cannot  raise the defense of good faith because no authority called “appropriations” was given him by Congress.   In which case, he could be held liable for plunder and malversation, not to say for culpable violation of the Constitution. 
Right now, we could see how vaingloriously PNoy is in trying to defend himself from the crescendo demanding his prompt resignation.   His resignation has become imperative for even people who were once blindly enamored with the yellow hypocrisy, now give their lamentation saying, malala nga! Unless sooner stopped, indications are PNoy is steering the country to the precipice of chaos with an ominous warning to the justices that they either obey or pack up. Having ordained that his government is right, and those who opposed are wrong, one yellow fanatic now has the gull to extrapolate that his patron’s DAP maybe unconstitutional, but not immoral.  The problem is he failed to look back that the act of violating a law that was ratified by the people is the most hideous act of immorality!  

Senators on Noy's SONA: 'Sincere, moving, powerful'


MANILA, Philippines - Senators found sincerity in President Aquino’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, where the chief executive paraphrased the slogan of his late father, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, that "Filipinos are worth dying for."
Sen. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said he saw in the President his desire to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
”The fact that he sought for supplemental budget for DAP-funded projects, he is acknowledging the decision of the Supreme Court regarding its ruling on the DAP,” Angara added.
Angara said he would have wanted to hear about how the Aquino administration would address the energy crisis.
“I would have wanted to hear more about the concrete solutions of the administration in addressing the looming energy crisis. But otherwise, it was a direct-to-the-point and sincere speech,” Angara said.
Angara also lauded the President over the good news on jobs and scholarship programs.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV expressed support anew to the current administration.
“It was a very moving speech, has a powerful message. Palagay ko maraming pong sasabay sa kanyang tuwid na daan,” Trillanes said.
The President also made clear his goals to continue working for the good of the people as his term ends on 2016, the senator said.
Trillanes said he and the Aquino may have different views on the K-12 program but he respects the President’s views.
He said the President showed that he is “just human” amid the adversities in his political leadership, faced with threats of impeachment.
Prior to the President’s SONA, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Aquino should start working on the future as he spends his last two years in office. “The future. Not the past."
Sen. Gringo Honasan, meanwhile, perceived the SONA as Aquino's "call for unity for the remainder of his term, for continuity, sustainability."
In his Twitter account, Sen. JV Ejercito said the Aquino's fifth SONA was his best.
"Even if I am in the opposition, I think this SONA is the best by PNoy. Concise and simple. He became emotional in the end. Pati ako nadala," said Ejercito, whose half brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is jailed for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said his favorite part of Aquino's SONA was "where he said gusto ba nating ipagpatuloy itong ating mga naumpisahan."
"So the continuity is very critical for us to be able to achieve our goals," Drilon said.