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09-27-2012, 10:52 AM
Sa darating na Lunes ike-1 ng Oktubre umpisa na ng official election season. Let the games begin!

09-27-2012, 10:53 AM
By Mayen Jaymalin

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 27, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday disqualified 17 party-list groups, including those representing addicts and alcoholics, from participating in next year’s elections.

The Comelec came out with the list of disqualified organizations after thorough deliberations on the applications for accreditation of party-list groups intending to run in the 2013 polls.

The poll body gave the list of the names of the organizations but did not cite the reason for their exclusion.

Those disqualified were the Asosasyon ng Mangangalakal (ASKAL), Addicts and Alcoholics Carrying the Message Association (AACMA, INC), Aksyon Mahirap (AMIN); 1-AANGAT KA PILIPINO (1-AK); Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation (1 AM); Aniban ng Magtutubig ng Pilipinas (Ama ng Pilipinas); Sararong Bicolnon; United Philippine Transport Tricycle, Trisikidad, Habal-Habal Operators and Drivers Association (UPTHODA); Aurora Integrated Multi-Purpose Cooperative (1-AIMCOOP); and Nagkaisang Alay sa Bayan ng Maka-Diyos at Makabayang Nangangalakal (1ABAYAN).

Also delisted were Ako at ang Basura Movement (AKO BA); Alliance for Democracy and Morality-Bantay Pasahero (ADAM-BANTAY PASAHERO); National Crusaders for Peace and Democracy (NCPD); Mindanao Allied Forces (MAF); Vendors Aggrupation (@1Vendors); Bangon Mangingisda (BM); and Philippine Banana Pioneer Foundation Inc.

The Comelec said groups that have been accredited at the division level shall be automatically up for review and affirmation of the full commission.

However, the groups that were dismissed at the division level may still appeal their case.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes earlier said they will exert all efforts to come out with the list of disqualified party-list groups before the end of the month and those who would be allowed to run in 2013 by early to mid-October.

At least 289 party-list groups have filed Manifestations of Intent to Participate in the 2013 elections.

Brillantes said they are hoping to reduce the number from the 187 party-list groups that participated in the May 2010 polls.

A question of legitimacy

Meanwhile, the Federation of Philippine Industries Inc. (FPI) said that the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association (LPGMA) should no longer be accredited as a party-list group because a business group occupying a seat at the House of Representatives will result in unfair competition.

“We have been opposing the accreditation of LPGMA as a party-list,” FPI chairman Jesus Arranza said, adding that the group is not representing a sector and it does not stand for a marginalized group.

He said the accreditation of LPGMA results in government financing a business sector.

Arranza said that LPGMA cannot be considered marginalized given its 40-percent market share.

But LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty said his group is representing the marginalized professional, which are the small LPG dealers who compete with the major oil companies.

Ty said LPGMA aims to give Filipino consumers more affordable fuel.

LPGMA is a group of independent cooking gas refillers in Metro Manila and neighboring areas. Its members include Island Gas, Regasco Gas, Pinnacle Gas, Cat Gas, M-Gas, Omni Gas and Nation Gas. – Neil Jerome Morales

09-27-2012, 10:54 AM
By Christina Mendez

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 27, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Manuel Villar, leader of the Nacionalista Party (NP), clarified that despite the party’s coalition with the Liberal Party (LP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the alliance would declare “free zones” at the local level.

Villar, NP president, attended a rally of local politicians in Island Cove in Bacoor, Cavite where the local party Magdalo and the Lakas-NUCD headed by Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. forged a partnership for the 2013 local polls.

NP supported the candidates of Magdalo in Cavite in the 2010 elections.

The Magdalo-Lakas team announced that their gubernatorial bet is incumbent Gov. Jonvic Remulla and his running mate for vice governor is Revilla’s son Jolo.

The event occurred a day after President Aquino attended the proclamation of LP bets in Cavite led by Rep. Ireneo Maliksi, candidate for governor, and vice gubernatorial bet Jay Lacson, son of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Villar said that Cavite is a free zone among local politicians.

The leaders of the LP-led coalition that include NP and NPC have reportedly agreed to declare as free zones certain areas where candidates of the three parties are contesting local posts.

The LP-NP-NPC is reportedly finalizing the agreement that would honor the equity of the incumbent if only one candidate from the coalition is contesting the local polls.

In his speech, Revilla underscored the Lakas party’s role in pushing economic development nationwide during the administration of President Fidel Ramos.

“Under his (Ramos) leadership the Philippines became Asia’s tiger economy. Known worldwide was his advocacy of being for God, people, country and environment. And to this day the progress attained by the Philippines under Lakas has been unequalled,” Revilla said in Filipino.

Revilla, a former governor of Cavite, said the party initiated reforms in the province.

Since Cavite is a free zone, Villar’s wife former Las Pińas Rep. Cynthia Villar, who is running for senator under the LP-NP-NPC team, said LP and NP could go their own way in case of disagreement among local candidates.

Interviewed after the rally in Cavite, Mrs. Villar said the President was aware of the political situation in the province when Aquino and Villar talked about the “marriage” of LP and NP. “There’s no misrepresentation here,” Mrs. Villar explained.

Cavite is one of the vote-rich provinces in the country with 1.6 million voters.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a member of NP, said that there are ongoing talks to resolve the differences among local candidates.

But the campaign cannot go smoothly in areas where LP has to field candidates against NP or other coalition partners, Marcos said.

“There is no agreement on policy. We are talking only about the elections. The coalition is to find a formula by which the two parties can operate this election,” Marcos said.

“Some marriages of convenience last very long,” he said when told the LP-NP coalition was dubbed as a coalition for convenience.

Marcos said he is excited about the coalition between the LP and NP that could lead to a possible reconciliation between the sons of two bitter enemies in the country’s history –the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.

Marcos said that for the first time in about 15 years, he is no longer in the opposition bloc.

With the LP-NP coalition, Marcos said the once impossible has become a reality between President Aquino and himself.

“It’s not only possible, it’s done! We are in a coalition. I am a member of NP, which is in coalition with LP, which is headed by the President,” Marcos said. “How is the relationship of any of the senators with the President? We are not buddies, we do not go out at night clubbing or anything like that because we have never been close. I don’t know why you don’t understand that,” Marcos said, noting that he has been in the same room with the President four times “in my life.”

09-27-2012, 10:56 AM
By Delon Porcalla

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 27, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Paolo Benigno Aquino, the first cousin of President Aquino who is included in the administration senatorial slate for the 2013 elections, will take his oath as a member of the ruling Liberal Party this week, sources disclosed yesterday.

The younger Aquino, more popularly known as Bam, bears a striking resemblance to the President’s father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

He is an official of the non-government organization Kaya Natin! movement and will represent the youth sector in the Senate.

Aquino is also a recipient of one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World for 2012.

Aside from Aquino, former senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr. would be the other LP member in the senatorial slate of the administration coalition that also includes the Nacionalista Party (NP) led by Sen. Manny Villar and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) headed by presidential uncle businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.

Eleven of the 12 slots have reportedly been finalized. Among the sure senatorial contenders of the administration team are: Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara (LDP), Senators Koko Pimentel (PDP-Laban), Alan Peter Cayetano (NP), Antonio Trillanes IV (NP), Francis Escudero (independent), former Las Pińas Rep. Cynthia Villar (NP), former senators Magsaysay and Jamby Madrigal, chairman Grace Poe-Llamanzares of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Bam Aquino, and former Rep. Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan). Escudero, a perceived Aquino ally and former NPC member, broke ties with Cojuangco during the May 2010 elections. Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II had kept mum about details of the LP-led coalition ticket.

“We will announce it in due time, which is sometime this week. The President is in talks with various members of the slate and it’s near final,” Roxas, also LP president, told a news briefing in Malacańang.

Roxas refused to mention names that will be included in the 12-member ticket, particularly on queries and observations that the coalition will not have any LP member in it, except for Magsaysay, who was recruited recently by Sen. Franklin Drilon.

“If I respond it will set off another round of speculations so maybe it’s best that I don’t respond,” he told Palace reporters, in response to reports that LP originals Erin Tańada and Ruffy Biazon are out of the list.

Roxas was noncommital, however, when asked whether Trillanes would be an asset to the administration.

“We have a coalition agreement with the Nacionalista Party and he (Trillanes) is one of those that the NP has included in their list of candidates. If he was in our slate then we would certainly campaign for him,” he replied.

But when pressed further, he merely said: “I think Senator Trillanes’ record speaks for itself and the people will judge him over the last six years.”

Roxas likewise begged off from commenting on reports that former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco, wife of Aquino’s maternal uncle Peping Cojuangco, will be running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance of former President Joseph Estrada.

09-27-2012, 10:57 AM
By Paolo Romero

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 27, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The National Unity Party (NUP), composed of erstwhile allies of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is set to forge a coalition agreement with the administration Liberal Party (LP) for the 2013 senatorial elections.

The NUP, which was accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as a political party in December 2010, also formally elected Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as its chairman emeritus during its first national convention yesterday. Belmonte is also vice chairman of the LP.

Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia, NUP chairman, said the leaders of the party and LP will sign a partnership agreement on Friday, or three days before the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy.

“We have an ongoing negotiation with LP for a possible coalition... We will support senatorial candidates of the LP,” Garcia told reporters on the sidelines of the NUP’s show of force at the Sofitel hotel in Pasay City.

The NUP has 30 members in the House of Representatives, mostly former members of the political party Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI) founded by Arroyo in 1997. It also has 12 governors as members.

The LP had earlier forged an alliance with the Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manuel Villar and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.

No LP senatorial aspirant attended the NUP convention but Sen. Gregorio Honasan and San Juan City Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito Estrada – both members of the senatorial slate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) – were present. Both are seeking the support of the NUP for their Senate bids.

UNA is headed by former President Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

09-27-2012, 01:17 PM
By DJ Yap

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:25 am | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines–National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Angelito Banayo on Tuesday confirmed he was resigning his post to run for congressman of his home district in Agusan Del Norte.

Banayo said he submitted his resignation on Aug. 13 and that it would take effect on Sept. 30.

“I’ve talked to the President and he gave me his blessing,” he told the Inquirer by phone last night.

He said he had recommended nobody to replace him and would let Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala make that decision.

Banayo will run for representative of Agusan Del Norte’s first district under the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
He expressed confidence that he would be leaving the NFA better off than when he started out in 2010.

“I’m very certain of that. We have been able to stabilize prices without importing too much,” Banayo said, adding that his main platform on a national scale would center around food security.

Locally, he said he hoped to help his district saddled “with too much politics and too little economics.”

09-27-2012, 01:18 PM
By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:53 am | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) may have announced her inclusion in its senatorial lineup but Grace Poe-Llamanzares’ next move would hinge on President Aquino’s “final decision.”

Llamanzares, the incumbent chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr., thanked the UNA’s leaders—former President Joseph Estrada, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile—for their support and confidence in her.

Her father had led the opposition and ran against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004 but lost in a controversial election.

“The former President [Estrada] and my father FPJ really go a long way back. I guess [the announcement of her inclusion] wasn’t really unexpected,” she said.

“Nonetheless, their support is rather heartwarming,” she told reporters at the Senate yesterday after the MTRCB presented its budget for 2013 to the committee on finance.

“They know that our objective is the same. Whatever happens, wherever we find ourselves in, it’s only for the good of our countrymen,” she added.

But Llamanzares wouldn’t say if she had made up her mind to run for senator and which group she would run with—President Aquino’s Liberal Party-led coalition or UNA, or both.

“It depends, I’m also waiting for the formal announcement of the President’s coalition,” she said.

“Right now, I’m working for the MTRCB,” she added.

She said it had been some time since she had talked with the President.

“He asked me if I would consider it but he was also rather realistic when he said that it wouldn’t be easy. That’s why I appreciate the President’s honesty about the realities of the election campaign,” Llamanzares said.

No less than Mr. Aquino had announced that the LP would be coalescing with the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

09-27-2012, 01:20 PM
By Danilo V. Adorador III

Inquirer Mindanao

1:15 am | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

SAN JOSE, Dinagat Islands—Dinagat’s legal status may have been finally settled, but the young province is bracing for a clash brewing among members of the only family that it has known as leaders—the Ecleos.

Vice Gov. Geraldine “Jade” Ecleo, sworn in as Liberal Party (LP) member on Sept. 12, has declared that she will contest the reelection to a third term of her mother, Gov. Glenda B. Ecleo, a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

“I’m all set to run against my mom in next year’s elections,” the young Ecleo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview last week. “And I’m running with the best of intentions—to liberate our people from poverty and provide alternative leadership which the Dinagatnons have been deprived of these past few years.”

Jade, 42, served as political officer of her mother, who was then representative of the first district of Surigao del Norte, before she became Dinagat’s first elected governor in 2007 after Dinagat became a province. In 2010, she was elected vice governor, upon the advise of her mother, who ran for governor.

Jade’s rebuke of her mother’s leadership in the province capped the young politician’s tumultuous—often public—feud with her 72-year-old mother and siblings, who also hold various elective positions in the island.

Glenda, in her speeches, has described her daughter as insolent and hardheaded. Jade has railed about her family’s “excesses,” somewhat a taboo for an Ecleo, a surname that has long commanded respect, if not religious reverence, among members of the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA), which was founded by the patriarch Ruben Ecleo Sr.

Twenty-five years after his death, Ruben Sr. remains revered by PBMA members, whose votes are crucial for the family’s political hegemony. Here, it is not uncommon to hear locals imploring the blessing or help of the “Divine Master,” Ruben Sr., as any Catholic would pray to Jesus or saints.

But Jade has bewailed how this reverence has been handled irresponsibly by her siblings.

“When you’re an Ecleo, you’re automatically identified as a leader, whether you are capable or not,” she said. “I want to change that notion. I want the people to choose their leaders based on their capabilities, not on their surnames.”

This is why she enlisted Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-o, a native of Loreto town and whose party is in coalition with LP, to run for Dinagat’s lone congressional seat, she said. The post was held by her elder brother, Ruben Ecleo Jr., until he was expelled by the House of Representatives following his conviction for corruption and parricide early this year.

Ruben Jr.’s imprisonment and convictions have also become a source of disagreement between Jade and her family. While her mother and siblings have kept their silence on Ruben Jr.’s status as a fugitive, Jade has publicly called on her brother to surrender.

“If you have a brother who is a fugitive, and sickly at that, will you tell him to go on hiding?” she said. “But I’m being misunderstood here. I want him inside a prison cell so that he can be taken care of, so that he may have a chance to live again as a free man.”

At a fiesta speech in the island village of Boa, Jade did not mince words as she warned her family against using Ruben Jr.’s influence in the PBMA as its “supreme master.”

“I can see that they will use my brother’s name for political gain. But the association (PBMA) has nothing to do with elections,” she told members of the local PBMA chapter. “Elections have everything to do with your welfare.”

The Supreme Court has ruled with finality that the law creating Dinagat Islands province out of Surigao del Norte in 2006 is constitutional.

09-27-2012, 01:31 PM
By Cathy C. Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:01 pm | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

The Senate local government committee has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to state clearly how long it will wait for Congress to approve local bills seeking to divide provinces or creating new districts in some of them.

Senate local government chair Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes has to “clarify” what he meant by the commission willing to wait “until October and then until December” for the local bills pending in his chamber to be passed.

Marcos is seeking the clarification after proponents of the bill dividing Camarines Sur into two provinces announced that the Comelec has expressed willingness to wait until December for the Senate to concur with House Bill No. 4820 creating Nueva Camarines province that would be taken from Camarines Sur.

The senator warned that if the Comelec would make a categorical statement on Camarines Sur, lobbyists for other provinces could come forward and ask for the same.

Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte raised the same warning, adding that third-term congressmen who are seeking new positions to run for in 2013 are behind reports quoting Brillantes.

“I have to clarify with (Brillantes) what he means when he says he could extend the wait for the Senate approval of the local bill (initially) until the end of October, now it became December,” Marcos told reporters in an impromptu news conference.

The senator said Brillantes was also quoted as saying the Comelec would “need a law… specific to Camarines Sur.”

“I don’t know how that’s supposed to be handled… The pronouncements made by Chair Brillantes are not clear,” he said.

House Bill No. 4820 takes away the fourth district of Camarines Sur and names it Nueva Camarines.

09-28-2012, 09:00 AM
‘Many reps multimillionaires; 289 groups seek nod’

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:03 am | Friday, September 28th, 2012

The list of groups seeking congressional seats gets stranger and more absurd every election season, making the party-list system a joke, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.

A quick look at the Comelec’s list of the groups shows that health promoters, aviation advocates, athletes and hobbyists, entrepreneurs, former drug users, ex-military renegades, school dropouts and even foreign-exchange dealers want to run for seats in the House of Representatives that the Constitution reserves for marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

In a review of party-list groups, the election watchdog Kontra Daya cited, among many other groups, Ang Mata’y Alagaan (AMA), a group that claims to represent blind indigents and people afflicted with all kinds of eye diseases and disorders but whose nominees belong to the well-connected Velasco family.

AMA chose Lorna Velasco, a nurse and the wife of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, as its first nominee. Velasco’s daughter, Tricia Nicole, a lawyer, was chosen as AMA’s second nominee.

“The Velascos are very powerful politically and economically, considering that they have as head of the family a sitting member of the highest court of this country,” Kontra Daya said.

“Clearly, the AMA has no bona fide intention to represent the sector it claims to represent, but rather to represent the interest of the already powerful, well-connected Velascos,” Kontra Daya added.

New groups have also sprouted claiming to represent the urban poor, whose current nominees in the House come from the upper crust of society.

Some organizations also claim to represent the sick and the handicapped, but their representatives are neither ill nor handicapped and some of them come from well-known wealthy political families.

Nominee from Corinthian

Kontra Daya also cited 1-AsalPartylist, a group that claims to represent the urban poor but not one of its first three nominees is a squatter in any slum in Metro Manila.

Its first nominee, Ryan Tanjucto, lives in posh Corinthian Gardens in Quezon City, according to Kontra Daya. His wife, Maria Lourdes, is the third nominee while the second nominee is Manila City Councilor Raymundo Yupangco.

Kontra Daya, led by Fr. Joe Dizon, also referred to the Association of Local Athletics Entrepreneurs and Hobbyists Inc. (Ala-Eh), whose first nominee, Elmer Anuran, is a known boxing promoter who runs a boxing gym and oversees Saved by the Bell Promotions.

Another group, FXD/MC (www.forexdealers.com corp.) also appears to be out of place in the party-list system, as money changers are not a marginalized sector, Kontra Daya said.

Finding the growing list of party-list groups becoming ridiculous, the Quezon City-based Kontra Daya made a database of old and new groups that didn’t seem to meet the legal requirements and submitted it to the Comelec.

Comelec review 1st time

The Comelec in turn used the database as one of its guides in reviewing the eligibility of these groups to run in next year’s party-list elections.

And for the first time since the introduction of the party-list system in 1995, the Comelec is reassessing party-list groups and screening their representatives in Congress according to the standards laid down by the Constitution and the party-list law.

“The party-list system has become a joke,” Brillantes said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Brillantes said he was aware that many party-list representatives in the House are multimillionaires and many of the groups seeking accreditation for next year’s elections have handpicked nominees who are either former government officials or members of powerful political clans.

“That’s why we are doing this [review] to be able to cleanse the list,” Brillantes said.

Clad in their black robes, Brillantes and the five election commissioners took turns grilling witnesses during public hearings called recently to begin the review of 120 party-list groups applying for renewal of their accreditation.

Authorized by Comelec Resolution No. 9513 ordering a review of party-list organizations, the hearings were held from Aug. 16 to Sept. 6.

Probing for fakes

First to be called to the stand was Abot Tanaw whose representative got asked such questions as:

“Mr. Witness, since when did you become a member of the party-list group?”

“Before you became a member, did you check the background of the party-list group?”

“[How much were your] assets and liabilities and net worth when you retired?”

“Do you belong to the group [that] you represent?”

“Did you know how many votes the group received in the previous elections?”

“How come you did not bother to check before joining the party?”

09-28-2012, 09:02 AM
(Continued ^^^)

Genuino creation?

Abot Tanaw representative Dante Guevarra, former president of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, sat there for 30 minutes, answering questions that also touched on the controversy surrounding his organization.

Claiming to represent overseas Filipino workers and operate social media services to keep migrant workers in touch with their families in the Philippines, Abot Tanaw is reportedly a creation of Efraim Genuino, former chairman of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) who is facing charges involving alleged irregularities at the state-run casino operator during his term.

In the 2010 elections, Genuino’s son-in-law, Gerwin See, was named the first nominee of Abot Tanaw. The others were said to be Pagcor consultants.

Guevarra himself has never been a migrant worker but he said he studied migrants’ conditions in Iraq, Libya and in Asia in the 1980s.

The election commissioners asked Guevarra if he knew why he had replaced See as Abot Tanaw’s first nominee.

Guevarra replied, “I am not familiar your honor[s].”

Although a new member of Abot Tanaw, Guevarra said the group had no connection with the Genuinos.

But before letting Guevarra go, the commissioners instructed him to refute the allegations in writing. The Comelec will use his refutation in deciding whether to allow Abot Tanaw to run next year.

289 seeking accreditation

Two hundred eighty-nine groups have filed applications for accreditation to contest next year’s party-list elections. One hundred sixty-five of them are new groups, and the Comelec’s job is determining their legitimacy to cleanse the party-list system that it concedes is infested by sham organizations.

“Can you imagine if every three years there are 165 new groups applying? By 2019, there will be more than 1,000 of them listed on the ballot… that will make the party-list system of elections absurd,” Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said in an interview with the Inquirer. “So to me, this is the opportunity to screen and process these party-list organizations.”

At the hearings, the election commissioners asked nominees or representatives questions derived from papers the groups themselves had submitted to the Comelec. The papers included articles of incorporation, lists of officers and nominees and their credentials.

The questions covered the history of the groups, the groups’ knowledge of the sectors they claimed to represent, the background of the nominees and the nominees’ knowledge about their fellow nominees, previous nominees, number of members, and votes polled in previous elections.

In asking those questions, the election commissioners were showing they doubted whether the groups and their nominees really came from the sectors they claimed to represent.

“There was this nominee supposedly representing indigent student athletes,” Brillantes said. “I told him, you don’t look like an indigent. You don’t look like a student and you don’t look like an athlete, either. So why are you the number one nominee?”

Who are qualified

Under Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-list System Act, only 12 marginalized and underrepresented sectors can seek congressional representation: Labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.

So why are former drug addicts, one-time coup plotters, athletes, and money changers seeking congressional representation? Or, for that matter, why are security guards and jeepney drivers represented in Congress not by security guards and jeepney drivers but by children or allies of big-time politicians?

Sarmiento said the Comelec would give weight to the documents provided by Kontra Daya in its review, likely to end in the fall of false party-list groups and in the recognition of the legitimate ones.

Brillantes said the Comelec would release the complete list of qualified party-list groups by the end of the month ahead of the five-day period allotted for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs), which starts Oct. 1.

“We want to get it over with before candidates start filing COCs because the party-list is a sensitive issue,” Brillantes said.

Ambiguities in the law

The Comelec blames the infestation of the party-list system with sham groups on the ambiguities in the law. Sarmiento said ambiguities in the law, exploited by politicians, blurred the concepts of marginalized and underrepresented in the Constitution.

The Constitution does not clearly define the two concepts and also does not lay down the qualifications for party-list nominees, Sarmiento said.

Congress could have filled those gaps by fine-tuning the party-list law, but it had done nothing to correct the flaws in the system.

“So now we have reached this point where many people are asking why are the moneyed people the ones sitting in Congress,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento referred to documents provided by Kontra Daya, one of which showed Rep. Catalina Bagasina of the Association of Labor and Employees as the “richest party-list solon” with a net worth of P133.938 million, based on her statement of assets and liabilities for 2011.

09-28-2012, 09:03 AM
(Continued ^^^)

23 wealthy party-listers

Kontra Daya listed 23 other wealthy party-list lawmakers whose organizations will contest next year’s elections.

The representatives included Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo of Ang Galing Pinoy (P99.954 million), Teodorico Haresco of Ang Kasangga (P92.814 million), Christopher Co of Ako Bicol (P91.063 million), and David Kho of Coalition of Senior Citizens (P59.521 million).

At a hearing on the Comelec’s budget in the House recently, Sarmiento and other election officials raised the need to amend the party-list law.

“We appealed that the vagueness in the law be addressed for the guidance of the Comelec since we implement the law,” Sarmiento said.

Comelec remedies

In the absence of a more rigid law for the accreditation of nominees, the Comelec has tried to remedy the ambiguities in the law by issuing Resolution No. 9366, specifying that only those who belong to marginalized underrepresented sectors can seek party-list representation in Congress.

“Since no amendment to the law is forthcoming, we issued the resolution, which basically says that if you want to represent a group, for instance a farmer’s group, you must be a farmer,” Sarmiento said.

He described the resolution as guided by jurisprudence, particularly the Supreme Court decision in Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case in 2003.

In that decision written by then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, the Supreme Court issued guidelines to ensure that only those who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors can run for party-list seats in Congress.

Show your record

The Comelec resolution also requires applicants to submit documents showing their track record and platform of government.

It also requires nominees to have “active participation” in advancing their groups’ advocacies, which can be validated through documentary evidence such as copy of speeches, declarations and written articles showing their support for the sectors they claim to represent.

“We are hopeful that through this resolution, we will address these questions of so many of our people and criticisms that the House is loaded with party-list nominees who don’t belong to the marginalized and underrepresented,” Sarmiento said.

09-28-2012, 09:13 AM
By Christian V. Esguerra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:09 pm | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III’s senatorial candidates in the 2013 midterm elections will enjoy support from politicians identified with his predecessor, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) will conclude on Friday a partnership agreement with the National Unity Party (NUP) to build more support for the senatorial ticket it is forming together with the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Composed mostly of former Arroyo allies, the NUP, a somewhat recycled Kampi, Arroyo’s own political vehicle, staged a show of force, on Wednesday, during its party convention at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City.

The gathering had unusual guests, Sen. Gregorio Honasan and Rep. Jose Victor Ejercito, who are both running as UNA senatorial candidates.

The LP slate is one candidate short of complete, but the slot may be filled on Thursday (Sept. 27) with Sen. Loren Legarda accepting an invitation from Aquino to a meeting in Malacańang on the same day for talks about her running as a common candidate of both the Liberal Party and its rival, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Malacańang had been calling Legarda since Tuesday, but reached her only on Wednesday. She was in Pangasinan inspecting her projects supporting corn production in 15 towns in the province.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reached Legarda as she was leaving Villasis town for a trip to Manaoag.

Legarda said Vice President Jejomar Binay, who shares UNA’s leadership with former President Joseph Estrada, knew about her meeting with President Aquino and he approves of it.

The UNA announced on Monday that Legarda was one of its three common candidates with other parties. The two others are Sen. Francis Escudero and Grace Poe-Llamanzares, chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Legarda said her meeting with Aquino wouldn’t change the fact that she would still be an UNA candidate even if she agreed to run as a candidate of the LP-led administration slate.

She said that unlike the UNA, she had yet to meet with a top LP official even amid reports that she was being offered a slot in the LP slate.

“No one from the LP has talked to me yet,” Legarda said. “The President will be the first LP official I will talk to.”

Ejercito, a staunch critic of Arroyo, appealed for support from the gathering of more than 300 NUP members. “Maybe you have room for a friend,” he told the group.

But Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, NUP president, said his party would back only the full senatorial slate of the LP-led administration, meaning the likes of Honasan and Ejercito would be excluded.

“They are friends. They were invited to this convention on the basis of relationships,” he said, referring to the two UNA candidates.

“However, we are in a political mode and with the coalition partnership that will be signed on Friday, we are committed to support the entire lineup of the coalition with the Liberal Party, the NPC and the NP.”

Antonino, however, did not rule out the possibility that some NUP members may support candidates other than those on the administration ticket.

“Individually, perhaps the party stand may not be 100 percent because there are relationships [between some NUP members and some candidates],” he said.

Honasan said he showed up at the NUP gathering, also attended by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, “to honor the invitation of personal friends,” not necessarily to court support from the party.

“It doesn’t matter to me [even if the NUP won’t support me],” he said. “This is beyond politics.”

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, an LP leader, said the NUP would bring to the coalition its “prestige and influence.”

The NUP, he said, “has a lot of very strong people actually occupying positions in the provinces, in Congress.”

The NUP membership includes more than 30 congressmen and 19 governors.

Antonino brushed aside the reported impression that the NUP and the administration were strange bedfellows.

He said the NUP was not the only party with members previously identified with Arroyo but have decided to support Mr. Aquino.

“It is not fair to single out the NUP, because even in the LP itself… you will see that there are members there [who] were once identified with the former President. And the same goes with the NPC, the same goes with the NP,” he said.

LP president Mar Roxas said on Tuesday that the party would announce its complete senatorial ticket later this week.

Two of the President’s allies, Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Joel Villanueva have been dropped from the Liberal slate.

Already on the slate, besides Escudero and Llamanzares, are Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, Aquilino Pimentel III, former Las Pińas Rep. Cynthia Villar, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, former Senators Jun Magsaysay and Jamby Madrigal, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Bam Aquino. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac

09-28-2012, 09:15 AM
By Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:37 am | Friday, September 28th, 2012

Politics is addition. That is a long accepted adage.

Malacańang on Thursday welcomed politicians identified with the other side of the political fence—party mates of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—to be part of a grand coalition of the administration for the May 2013 polls.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda did not see anything odd with the political arrangement. He said in a Malacańang briefing the Aquino administration could not just close the door on those supportive of the President’s legislative agenda in both chambers of Congress.

“I think during the past two years they have been supportive of the programs of the President,” said Lacierda, when the Philippine Daily Inquirer asked him if he saw nothing wrong with uniting with the Nacionalista Party (NP), Marcos’ party.

Mr. Aquino’s father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was killed during the regime of Marcos’s father, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos. The elder Marcos in turn was ousted during the 1986 People Power revolution which installed the President’s late mother, Corazon Aquino, in the presidency.

The NP is fielding Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, former Las Pińas Rep. Cynthia Villar and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV as its senatorial candidates.

Asked how the President would see this latching together of divergent political parties, Lacierda said what was “important” was their support for the reform agenda of Mr. Aquino.

“We don’t have any problem with that. We need allies … in pushing for reform in our administration. And if we can get these lawmakers to support our reform agenda, then well and good,” said Lacierda.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said he was OK with a coalition with the National Unity Party (NUP) that is made up mostly of House members that staunchly defended then President Arroyo during attempts to impeach her and from allegations of corruption during her administration.

“Nelson Mandela once said that in a democracy we need to learn to work with people we dislike, in reference to those who in the past supported apartheid,” said Pangilinan.

“For as long as we are all clear that it is the President who calls the shots, then it is incumbent upon the LP (Liberal Party) to build the broadest unity possible among various political forces willing to lend their support to the President’s reform agenda,” he added.

Cayetano also saw nothing wrong with coalescing with Arroyo’s allies, even admitting the coalition would be beneficial to the administration.

“Is it pragmatic? Yes. Is it a compromise? No,” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.

Cayetano is a member of the NP which has forged a coalition with the LP for the May 2013 elections.

Other members of the LP-led coalition for next year’s polls are the Nationalist People’s Coalition and now the NUP.

“The coalition will not protect them,” said Cayetano of politicians who may be joining just to get away with any anomalies they may have committed in the past.

“It is not a get-out-of-jail card,” he said.

On Thursday, Lacierda would not disclose details of a meeting between Mr. Aquino and Sen. Loren Legarda in Malacańang, which from all indications showed the reelectionist senator had yet to sign on the dotted line.

Lacierda even appeared surprised when asked about the meeting.

The Inquirer reported Thursday that President Arroyo had sought the meeting with Legarda to talk about her running as a common candidate of the LP and its opposition rival, the United Nationalist Alliance.

“I’m not aware of it. I know that Secretary Mar Roxas and Secretary Jun Abaya were meeting with the President. I’m not sure if Senator Legarda was, I was not present in that meeting,” said Lacierda.

“We discussed many things, including foreign relations,” said Legarda in a phone interview.

She would neither confirm nor deny if she had accepted the President’s invitation to join the LP-led administration senatorial slate.

“Abangan (Watch for it),” was all she would say.

The Aquino administration has to learn to work with people it doesn’t like to make sure its reform agenda succeeds in Congress, an LP senator said on Thursday in the wake of the LP’s formal alliance with the NUP.

Sen. Francis Escudero, an independent and an ally of President Aquino, said the NUP had long been supportive of the President. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

09-28-2012, 09:17 AM
Party List Fast Facts

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:54 am | Friday, September 28th, 2012

1995—year that the Republic Act No. 7941, or the Party-list System Act, was enacted

3—maximum number of seats that each party shall be entitled to, according to the Party-list System Act

20—percentage of the total members of Congress should be party-list representatives, according to the 1987 Constitution

43—total number of party-list groups in the 15th Congress

56—total number of party-list representatives in the 15th Congress

170—number of party-list groups in the 2010 elections

1.5 million—estimated number of votes received by Ako Bicol, the topnotcher among the party-list groups in the 2010 elections

Compiled by: Inquirer Research

09-28-2012, 10:31 AM
By Jose Rodel Clapano

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 28, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada will join the senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in filing their certificates of candidacy (COCs) before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday.

Binay is UNA’s president while Enrile and Estrada are UNA’s chairman emeritus and chairman, respectively.

“We are joining the entire UNA senatorial slate in the filing of their candidacies on Oct. 1, at 1 p.m.,” Binay said.

“All the senatorial candidates of UNA will together, file their certificates of candidacies before the Commission on Elections,” he added.

Binay said they would make festive the filing of COCs by UNA’s senatorial candidates.

“Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, President Erap and myself will all join them,” he said.

Among the three UNA leaders, Binay is the youngest at 69 years while Enrile, 88, is the oldest. Estrada is 75 years old.

Meanwhile, former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco, wife of UNA vice-president Peping Cojuangco and aunt of President Aquino, is 99.9 percent sure to run as senator under the UNA ticket, Binay said yesterday.

With Binay’s pronouncement, UNA has until Sunday to announce its final 12 senatorial candidates for the 2013 midterm elections.

“In every project and program, there is always a margin of error,” he said, referring to the slim chance that Tingting will not pursue her bid under UNA.

The Vice President said that the senatorial candidates he and Estrada earlier announced are already final.

“Final, but let us wait for the announcement,” Binay said.

He said UNA has not given a schedule yet on the possibility of his daughter, Nancy Binay-Angeles, running for senator under UNA. Nancy is working as his personal assistant at the Office of Vice President.

Binay said UNA is including Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda in its list of senatorial candidates.

Recent poll surveys showed Legarda and Escudero landing on the top and second spot, respectively.

09-28-2012, 10:32 AM
By Paolo Romero

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 28, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Liberal Party (LP)-led coalition in the House of Representatives remains strong and has been instrumental in the passage of numerous socioeconomic and other reform bills, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Speaking before the first national convention of the National Unity Party (NUP) yesterday, Belmonte said the coalition of the LP, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the Nacionalista Party (NP), NUP, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Partido ng Masang Pilipino, and some party-list groups is a “partnership of equals.”

“It (majority bloc) is an alliance driven by mutual respect, common goals and shared work,” he said.

Belmonte said he is happy over the NUP’s decision to join the coalition that President Aquino and the LP are forging with other major political parties for next year’s elections.

“The President and the other political parties will certainly accord you much respect and equal treatment, giving due regard to your rightful place in the electoral arena,” he said.

Heading the NUP is Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia as chairman and Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino as president.

Former Lakas-Kampi-CMD members formed the party and the Commission on Elections accredited it as a national party on Oct. 5, 2011.

Belmonte said the House has approved the national budget in record time in the last three years, as he cited the prolific output of legislative measures as a result of the “shared work” of members of the coalition.

“With your participation, we have approved 2,462 measures in the past 27 months, including three national budgets which were passed in record speed without sacrificing rigorous scrutiny,” he said.

Belmonte said NUP members have embarked on a new political journey.

“You could not have chosen a more appropriate name for the party,” he said.

“NUP should not just be an acronym. It should be a movement for national unity and reconciliation based on justice.”

Belmonte thanked NUP members in the House for their trust and confidence in his leadership and their continuing support for the programs of Aquino.

“President Aquino’s campaign of ‘matuwid na daan’ (straight path) became the standard for public service,” he said.

“We, at the House of Representatives, have set our own benchmark that raised our performance rating in public perception.

“The record high of 55 percent approval rating and 42 percent net satisfaction rating for the House of Representatives could not have been achieved without the unity, cooperation and hard work of everyone who elected me Speaker.”

“The House members of the National Unity Party, along with the other House coalition partners, have made a covenant placing national and public welfare over and above individual interest.” – With Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez, Jess Diaz

09-28-2012, 10:33 AM
By Delon Porcalla

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 24, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The so-called Liberal Party coalition may just end up without an LP candidate following reports that two of its stalwarts in the 12-member senatorial slate will in all likelihood be excluded from running in the May 2013 midterm elections.

Sources knowledgeable of the situation revealed that House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tańada III – an LP original – will be off the administration ticket, due to his poor showing in recent surveys, and has been promised by President Aquino a Cabinet post.

Another LP official, Ruffy Biazon, reportedly prefers to stay as Customs commissioner and wants his father, former senator and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, to take his place instead in the Senate slate.

Talks between the Customs chief and President Aquino last week have not been firmed up yet especially since the President is reportedly not sold on the older Biazon running for senator.

Aquino had informed Ruffy Biazon he has the option to stay, or run under the administration party, but categorically warned him not to push the candidacy of his father, who even initiated a probe into the government’s flood control projects.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director-general Joel Villanueva is definitely out of the slate, and may instead be transferred or promoted to other agencies in the executive department, owing to his “good performance” in TESDA.

No LP in sight

If things don’t work out, what will comprise the administration ticket are candidates who don’t actually belong to the LP but are from parties that have forged an alliance with them, like the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

Among the sure senatorial contenders are Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara (LDP) as well as Senators Koko Pimentel (PDP-Laban), Alan Peter Cayetano (NP), Antonio Trillanes IV (NP), Francis Escudero (independent), former Las Pińas’ Rep. Cynthia Villar (NP); former senators Jun Magsaysay, Jamby Madrigal, chairman Grace Poe-Llamanzares of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Aquino’s first cousin Bam Aquino (Kaya Natin) and former Rep. Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan).

Escudero used to be with NPC, but cut ties with Cojuangco at the height of the May 2010 campaign. He backed out of the presidential race then but has been in good terms with the tycoon once again.

“These are the 11 names that most likely will be included in the official Magic 12,” the source hinted.

09-28-2012, 10:36 AM
By Jess Diaz

(The Philippine Star)

Updated September 28, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Senators and congressmen have received a total of P15.244 billion in pork barrel funds for this year.

The amount so far released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is about 60 percent of the P25-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2012 national budget.

The PDAF, the official name of the congressional pork barrel, allocates P200 million for each senator and P70 million for each member of the House of Representatives.

A DBM report showed that as of yesterday, a total of P12.582 billion has been released to House members – P10.078 billion for those elected from legislative districts and P2.504 billion for those representing party-list groups.

On the other hand, releases to senators totaled P2.662 billion. The P15.244 billion does not include releases to senators and congressmen from the PDAF lump sum in the 2011 budget.

PDAF allocations are good for two years.

According to the DBM report, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III has already received his full-year 2012 allocation of P200 million.

Others with the biggest releases for this year are Antonio Trillanes IV, P189.6 million; Teofisto Guingona III, P187.4 million; Miriam Defensor-Santiago, P180 million; Juan Ponce Enrile, P162 million; and Pia Cayetano, P131 million.

The other senators and the amount of 2012 pork barrel funds they have so far used are Loren Legarda, P124 million; Ralph Recto, P121.9 million; Lito Lapid, P120.1 million; Jinggoy Estrada, Francis Escudero, Ramon Revilla Jr., Gregorio Honasan, and Manuel Villar Jr., P100 million each; Ferdinand Marcos Jr., P99.9 million; Edgardo Angara, P85 million; Alan Peter Cayetano, P50 million; Franklin Drilon, P40.2 million.

Francis Pangilinan received the smallest amount for this year of P4.6 million. However, he availed himself of P32 million from his 2011 PDAF allocation.

Others with 2011 releases are Pia Cayetano, P127 million; Drilon, P77.3 million; Alan Peter Cayetano, P66.5 million; Enrile, P4 million; Escudero, P1 million; Guingona, P37 million; Legarda, P11.1 million; and Trillanes, P53.6 million.

In terms of 2012 and 2011 totals, Pia Cayetano is the biggest recipient with P258 million, followed by Trillanes with P243.2 million and Guingona with P224.4 million.

There is no showing that PDAF funds for this year have been released to Serge Osmeńa III and Aquilino Pimentel III.

However, the DBM report shows that Pimentel has received P59 million out of his 2011 PDAF, while Osmeńa has received P2.3 million.

Senators Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson are not included in the report because they had not been availing themselves of their annual P200-million allocation since after their election to the Senate 11 years ago.

Six senators are seeking reelection in the May 2013 elections. They are Alan Peter Cayetano, Escudero, Honasan, Legarda, Pimentel, and Trillanes.

Among House members, ironically, the biggest recipient is opposition Rep. Amelita Villarosa of Mindoro Occidental, who has received P66.3 million.

Her boss in the opposition bloc, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, and Martin Romualdez of Leyte have availed themselves of their half-year allocation of P35 million.

Villarosa, Suarez and Romualdez were among the favorite congressional companions of Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whenever she traveled abroad during her nine-year presidency.

Among House leaders, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II have received P35 million each.

10-02-2012, 08:32 AM
UNA first to file candidacies but only 8 showed up

By Tarra Quismundo, Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:14 am | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

All the festive hoopla of a street party could very well be a plus for the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Monday as it officially fielded its candidates in the Senate race next year, except they were minus one in the effort.

Businessman Joey de Venecia pulled out at the last minute from the coalition slate, although this hardly reflected on the excitement outside the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on the first day of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC).

UNA’s “B 3”—Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile—led eight senatorial contenders in filing their COCs, unfazed by a last-minute glitch in its lineup.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Representatives Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr. and Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, former Senators Ernesto Maceda, Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon, and former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco filed their COCs past 1 p.m. in a carnival atmosphere in the heart of Intramuros.

Three candidates whom UNA shared with the ruling coalition—Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Loren Legarda, and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board Chairperson Grace Poe Llamanzares—did not appear for the filing.

That the three candidates, who are also guest candidates of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) coalition, were absent and the slate lost its 12th member, De Venecia, just hours earlier did not seem to matter as UNA gave a preview of how its rallies would be come campaign season next year: loud and upbeat in the colors of orange and blue.

Life will be good

The eight-candidate slate, along with Binay, Estrada and Enrile, first assembled at the Manila Hotel before noon and rode together to the Comelec aboard a violet Binay coaster shortly.

Within minutes, the fast-moving convoy arrived at the main Comelec office to the cheers of hundreds of supporters. Competing beats filled the air: a drum and bugle band played Binay’s 2010 campaign theme “Kay Binay, Gaganda ang Buhay (With Binay, life will be good),” while an Ati-Atihan ensemble and even a dragon dance group thumped their traditional beats.

“It’s a very light, jovial mood. We are very confident of having a formidable team and a very good chance of taking most of the seats in the 2013 elections,” Ejercito, Estrada’s son, said in an interview.

“I am confident now that our big three are here. With these people behind us, the support is already there, it gives us courage and a morale boost,” Ejercito told reporters.

Supporters from Valenzuela, San Juan, Olongapo City and Makati City, among others, occupied the street across the Comelec office, holding up placards and chanting the names of their candidates. Curiously, while different groups shouted names of their respective candidates, none chanted the coalition’s name.

Apart from posters and banners traditionally seen in campaigns, some candidates found unique ways of getting their names out there.

Just alternatives

Magsaysay went beyond the printed matter and deployed walking ads —an advertising medium one would usually see promoting consumer products.

Legarda did not join the UNA group but made her presence felt with Ati-Atihan dancers who carried placards that spelled her name. She filed her COC separately, when the UNA group had already left. She later visited Binay at his office at the Coconut Palace.

Ahead of the campaign period, Ejercito said he hoped campaigns of both UNA and the ruling coalition would not stray from issues that mattered to the public.

“I’m just hoping that the campaign will be high level, based on the platform and track record,” Ejercito said.

“Besides, we’re not really what you would call a real opposition, unlike during the time of GMA (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). We’re just presenting ourselves as alternatives for the people,” he said.

No-shows irk Binay

The absence of Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares did not sit well with Binay, leader of the UNA coalition of his PDP-Laban and Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

“What shall be done and shall not be done must also apply with UNA [and vice versa],” Binay told reporters.

“If they will join the [rallies] of the Liberal Party, they should also join us or else we might as well part ways,” Binay said, stressing “fair is fair.”

For her part, Legarda said she had not heard Binay say anything about UNA’s withdrawal of support should she appear in the LP rallies.

“The Vice President knows that the President invited me personally to be in the LP slate because the NPC and the LP have a partnership. It was all done with transparency with the Vice President and former President Estrada as well,” Legarda said in an interview with reporters after filing her COC at the Comelec.

She added that Mr. Aquino also knew that she was first invited by UNA as guest candidate when he asked her to join the LP slate. Next week, other parties would also adopt her as guest candidate, she disclosed.

“[Being a common candidate] is a happy but delicate situation,” she said. “But it reflects on the winnability of the candidate.”

When asked which political party would she join come the election campaign period, she safely answered, “I will go where the Filipino people are.”

10-02-2012, 08:33 AM
^ Hanep sa sagot ang Loren Legarda, trapong-trapo na talaga.

10-02-2012, 08:35 AM
Inquirer Mindanao

1:40 am | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

As in past elections, political dynasties are closing ranks again to keep their hold to power in Mindanao.

The Jalosjos clan will be fielding members and allies in at least three provinces and two cities in the Zamboanga Peninsula in next year’s elections.

Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles of the Nationalist People’s Coalition said he had received reports that Dapitan City Mayor Dominador Jalosjos would be challenging his reelection bid. In the first district, Kat-Kat Jalosjos will face the governor’s wife, reelectionist Rep. Aurora Cerilles.

Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, a third-termer who had allied with the Jalosjoses, will be running to represent the second district. He will face reelectionist Rep. Victor Yu.

In Zamboanga del Norte, the Jalosjoses continue to carry the National Unity Party in dominating the province, according to Gov. Rolando Yebes, a third-termer, who is running to represent the second district against reelectionist Rep. Rosendo Labad-labad.

In Dipolog City, reelectionist Mayor Evelyn Uy of the Liberal Party will face former Rep. Cecilia Jalosjos Carreon.

For the Zamboanga del Norte gubernatorial post, it will be a fight between Mayor Evelyn Uy’s husband, Roberto, and Cesar Jalosjos. Rep. Bullet Jalosjos (first district) and Hannah Jalosjos (third district) are seeking another term.

Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Rommel Jalosjos will seek reelection.

In Zamboanga City, Rep. Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar (first district) may trade places with third-term Mayor Celso Lobregat. The mayor’s son, Jomar, will seek the congressional seat in the second district.


The Dimaporos will not go unchallenged by estranged relatives and former allies in Lanao del Norte.

A second generation of Dimaporo politicians have been adding steam to the clan whose foothold to power was built by the warlord Ali Dimaporo half-a-century ago after failed attempts to rule Lanao del Sur.

Ali’s son, Abdullah, has been scarcely seen in public since 2010. Abdullah’s son, incumbent Gov. Mohamad Khalid, is seeking a third and last term, while a daughter, Fatima Aliah, a first-term representative of the second district, is expected to seek another mandate although there is talk that she may run for mayor to give way to her father’s comeback.

Abdullah’s wife, Imelda Quibranza, will be seeking a second-term as representative of the first district. Imelda’s older sister, Mayor Nelieta Noval of Tubod town, is expected to run for a second-term.

Abdullah’s cousin, Motalib, incumbent mayor of Sultan Naga Dimaporo town, is also expected to breeze through reelection. Another cousin, former Rep. Abdullah Mangotara, will challenge the political bids of Abdullah’s family.

Mangotara is allied with the politician-brothers Romulo and Rafael Rizalda. Rafael is incumbent mayor of Maigo town, who filed plunder raps against the Dimaporo couple several months back. Romulo squared off with Imelda in the 2010 congressional race.

Mangotara also counts the support of Pantao-Ragat Vice Mayor Lacson Lantod, who is married to a Dimaporo.


Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is fielding his son, Paolo, for vice mayor under the newly registered Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod political party.

Duterte, however, still has to announce who will run for mayor and first district representative, which will be decided between him and his daughter Sara, the incumbent mayor.

He defended himself against accusations of building a political dynasty, saying Hugpong risked “weakening” itself if it would field candidates with less chances of winning. “This is for our own (political) survival,” he told over 3,000 members.

Former Speaker Prospero Nograles, who lost the mayoral race to the Dutertes thrice, was reportedly “retiring from politics,” but reports still say he might be planning a fourth attempt. His son, Karlo Alexei, the city’s first district representative, filed his certificate of candidacy for reelection on Monday.


Last-term Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy has groomed his son, De Carlo, a second-term councilor, to replace him. In past media interviews, Uy said he would prefer returning to “civilian life” than break Liberal Party (LP) unity and risk a showdown with reelectionist Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario.

In Compostela Valley, Uy’s brother, Gov. Arturo Uy, may be running unopposed for his last term. The governor’s son, Tyrone, is said to be running for provincial board member in the second district.

Amantes, Plazas

In the Agusan provinces, as well as Butuan City, the same powerful clans would be dominating the election landscape.

Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr., a known ally of President Aquino, will seek reelection against Rep. Jose Aquino II. Ferdinand’s first cousin, Agusan del Norte Gov. Erlpe John Amante, who is in his last term, will reportedly swap post with a younger sister, Rep. Angel Amante.

In Agusan del Sur, sibling rivalry is heating up in the Plaza clan. Former Rep. Rodolfo Plaza has publicly declared that he would take back his position from his younger sister, Rep. Rowena Plaza-Millana.

Rodolfo’s younger siblings, incumbent Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza and Rep. Maria Valentina Tina Plaza (first district) are expected to run unopposed.


Surigao del Norte’s Matugas family, which controls the top provincial and and city elective posts, will be up against old foes.

The Padajon Surigao party of the Matugases has declared the reelection bids of Gov. Sol Matugas and her husband, Rep. Francisco Matugas (first district). An ally, Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate (second district), is also seeking reelection.

Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas is seeking a second term; his son, Ernest, is in the administration’s city council lineup.

Padajon is up against the newly reconstituted Koalisyon nan mga Partido Oposisyon sa Surigao or Kusog, headed by former Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra. But Casurra admitted that the coalition slate might encounter difficulties, noting that brothers Lyndon and Robert Ace Barbers have not disclosed their political intentions yet.

Lyndon, a former governor, is rumored to be eyeing his former post. Ace is said to be gunning for the second congressional seat.


It’s a different political road in Dinagat Islands. Vice Gov. Geraldine “Jade” Ecleo wants to displace her mother, Gov. Glenda Ecleo.

Jade’s running mate, Merlinda Lagroma, is an incumbent provincial board member who belongs to the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA)—a religious sect controlled by the Ecleo family.

The PBMA leadership, however, is closely allied with the governor, wife of its founder, Ruben Sr. The younger Ecleo’s enlistment of PBMA members is seen as a strategy to weaken her mother’s influence in the sect.

Jade has also included Hero Ecleo, son of the current PBMA figurehead, Ruben Jr., on her provincial board slate.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, family members are giving way to one another. For instance, Sulu Vice Gov. Ben Loong is stepping aside for his eldest brother, reelectionist Rep. Tupay Loong (first district).

Reports from Edwin O. Fernandez, Julie S. Alipala, Ryan D. Rosauro, Germelina Lacorte, Franklin Caliguid, Danilo Adorador, Frinston Lim, Williamor Magbanua, Cai Panlilio, Bobby Lagsa and Aquiles Z. Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao

10-02-2012, 08:38 AM
Political dynasties dominate electoral contests

Inquirer Bureaus

12:38 am | Monday, October 1st, 2012

The electoral matchups in many parts of the country for 2013 show veteran politicians returning to the campaign trail to protect turf or to reclaim their old posts.

Families long entrenched in local politics are also asserting their strength in next year’s elections.

Politicians may have switched parties but virtually the same faces and names will file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) starting Monday.

The Marcoses of Ilocos Norte, Singsons of Ilocos Sur, Ortegas of La Union and Dys of Isabela are up for reelection. In Aurora, the Angaras are consolidating power in their home province, with family members also vying for seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara of Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and Vice Gov. Gerardo Noveras of the Liberal Party (LP) are likely to square off in the gubernatorial race.

Outgoing Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, the senator’s sister, is returning to the House to replace her nephew, Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, who is running for senator under the LP.

In Pampanga, Gov. Lilia Pineda is running for reelection under her newly formed party, Kambilan, with her only son Dennis, former mayor of Lubao, as running mate. Dennis is seeking to fill in the seat of Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao, who is running for representative of the first district.

Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid is known to be campaigning for his youngest son, Maynard, who will run for vice governor.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is seeking reelection in the second district of Pampanga.

In Bulacan, Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado and Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando could be running unopposed after Rep. Joselito Mendoza (third district) dropped his plan to challenge Alvarado.

In Nueva Ecija, Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane) is fielding Rep. Josefina Manuel-Joson (first district) against reelectionist Gov. Aurelio Umali, while her husband, Quezon Mayor Mariano Cristino Joson, will seek the congressional seat she is vacating.

Rep. Czarina Umali, the governor’s wife, is seeking reelection in the third district.

Former San Isidro Mayor Sonia Lorenzo will run for representative of the fourth district against Magnolia Antonino, daughter of outgoing Rep. Rodolfo Antonino, and San Leonardo Mayor Froilan Nagańo.

In Zambales, reports said former Gov. Vicente Magsaysay was challenging the reelection bid of Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. Ebdane’s son, Jun Omar, is seeking reelection as representative of the second district.

Rep. Maria Milagros Magsaysay of the first district has announced her plan to run for senator. Reports said her son, Jobo, may face outgoing Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr. in the congressional race.

Representative Magsaysay and Gordon’s brother, former Sen. Richard Gordon, are running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

In Bataan, outgoing Rep. Albert Garcia (second district), son of outgoing Gov. Enrique Garcia Jr., is running for governor against Vice Gov. Efren Pascual.

Former Rep. Leonardo Roman is facing actor Onemig Bondoc in the second district.


Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos announced that she would run for a second term. Representatives Imelda Marcos (second district) and Rodolfo Farińas (first district) are also expected to run for reelection.

All eyes are on the Laoag mayoral race, however, with members of the Farińas clan likely battling for the post that three-time Mayor Michael Farińas will vacate next year. The mayor’s wife Chevylle, president of the Association of Barangay Captains, has made known her interest in running for mayor.

In Ilocos Sur, the Singsons will try to maintain its dominance in the province with reelectionist Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson facing a former ally, Tagudin Mayor Roque Verzosa Jr., in the gubernatorial race.

Singson will run with reelectionist Vice Gov. Deogracias Victor Savellano, who will face former Singson ally and former Board Member Efren Rafanan. In the second district, former Deputy Speaker Eric Singson is returning to the House to replace his son, Eric Jr.

In La Union, old political names are seen to dominate again the elections, with Gov. Manuel Ortega running for his third term and his brother, Victor, for his third and final term as representative of the first district.

Cagayan Valley

The recent feud among the province’s leaders has caused the once-dominant Abante Vizcaya to split, with factions led by Rep. Carlos Padilla and Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, who are former allies.

Arya Vizcaya also broke up and has been divided into two groups—one led by retired police director Thompson Lantion and former Santa Fe Mayor Florante Gerdan.

Cuaresma is eyeing the lone congressional seat and is likely to challenge Padilla.

Vice Gov. Jose Gambito has announced his plan to run for governor and is expected to face Gerdan, president of Poro Point Management Corp.

In Isabela, voters are awaiting the return bout between reelectionist Gov. Faustino Dy III and former Gov. Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca.

In Cagayan, former Rep. Manuel Mamba said he was planning to challenge the reelection bid of Gov. Alvaro Antonio.

In Quirino, Gov. Junie Cua and his son, Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua, along with Vice Gov. May Garnace-Calaunan, are likely to seek second terms next year under the LP.


In Baguio City, the tandem of Rep. Bernardo Vergara and Mayor Mauricio Domogan expects a challenge from former Councilor Jose Molintas, who has plans to run for representative next year, and Marquez Go, who is being groomed for the mayoral post by a loose alliance of opposition leaders.

In Benguet, Gov. Nestor Fongwan is facing former Rep. Samuel Dangwa in the gubernatorial race, while Rep. Ronald Cosalan will run for reelection against Vice Gov. Cresencio Pacalso.

In Mt. Province, reelectionist Rep. Maximo Dalog will face retired public works assistant secretary Roy Manao and Jupiter Dominguez. Gov. Leonard Mayaen will be challenged by Vice Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan.

In Ifugao, Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. will face former Rep. Solomon Chungalao for the lone congressional seat.

In Abra, Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin is running for reelection. The congressional race will see a close match between reelectionist Rep. Maria Jocelyn Bernos, Vice Gov. Rolando Somera and former Rep. Cecilia Luna.

In Iloilo, the LP has brought traditional political rivals—the Tupas, Garin and Defensor clans—under one ticket.

It will field reelectionist Gov. Arthur Defensor as its official candidate. Defensor took his oath as LP member on Sunday along with his son and namesake, Rep. Arthur Defensor Jr. (third district).

His running mate is Raul Tupas, son of former Governor and LP provincial chair Niel Tupas Sr., who will run for congressman in the fourth district. Niel’s four other sons will run for reelection under the LP—Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (fifth district), Mayor Niel Tupas III of Barotac Viejo, Board Member Nielo Tupas and City Councilor Nielex Tupas.

Defensor’s reelection bid will be challenged by Rep. Ferjenel Biron (fourth district), who is the gubernatorial candidate of UNA. Biron’s brother, Hernan Jr. is UNA candidate in the fourth district, against Niel Sr. His father, Hernan Sr., will run for reelection as mayor of Barotac Nuevo, while his mother, Diana, is the first nominee of the Abyan Ilonggo party-list group.

The Garins are expected to maintain their dominance in the first district. Vice Gov. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. will run for congressman to replace his wife, third-termer Rep. Janette Garin, under the LP. He will face Miag-ao town Mayor Julieta Flores (UNA).

Oscar’s sister, Christine, is running for reelection as mayor of Guimbal town while another sister, Rep. Sharon Garin, is the first nominee of Aambis, Owwa party-list group.

Augusto Syjuco will run as UNA candidate for representative of the second district to replace his wife Judy. He will be challenged by the LP’s Pavia Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta.

In Iloilo City, the LP-Nacionalista Party coalition will field reelectionist Rep. Jerry Treńas, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III. They will be challenged by UNA candidates: former Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr., businessman Rommel Ynion, who will run for mayor, and Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon, for vice mayor.

In Aklan, UNA also seeks to win against reelectionists of the LP and Tibyog Akean. Makato Mayor Ramon Legaspi Jr., son of former Rep. Ramon Legaspi, is set to run for governor against third-termer Rep. Florencio Miraflores.

In Antique, a coalition called “Bag-ong Antique,” which is allied with PDP-Laban and UNA, is seeking to remove from office Gov. Exequiel Javier and his son Rep. Paolo Everardo Javier.

Lawyer Cornelio Aldon is expected to run for governor. He ran for congressman in 1992 but lost to Exequiel Javier.

Most LP candidates in Capiz are seeking reelection. These are Gov. Victor Tanco, Rep. Antonio del Rosario (first district), Mayor Alan Celino and Vice Mayor Ronnie Dadivas.

Old political clans are expected to dominate the 2013 polls in Cebu, unlike in Negros Oriental where it will be a battle of old and new names.

Cebuanos are gearing for the showdown of two erstwhile allies—Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, who is seeking reelection, and Rep. Tomas Osmeńa (south district).

Reports from Cristina Arzadon, Leoncio Balbin Jr., Melvin Gascon, Villamor Visaya Jr. and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Armand Galang, Greg Refraccion and Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Jhunnex Napallacan and Alex V. Pal, Inquirer Visayas

10-02-2012, 08:39 AM
By Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:37 pm | Sunday, September 30th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Satire goes to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday.

Juana Change (theater and TV personality Mae Paner) is scheduled to file her certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Comelec in Manila as representative of the Epaliticians Party List (EPaL), a group of “epaliticians” who felt maligned and marginalized by an anti-epal movement.

Joining Juana Change in the filing of COCs are members of the fictitious Change family: her aunt, Tita Sen Change (senator); her sister, Yoko Change (mayor); her husband, Don Juan Change IV (representative); her son, Juan Change V (councilor); and her granddaughter, Juanita ‘Luce’ Change (SK chair). Accompanying the family is Change patriarch, Don Juan Change.

Going to the Comelec on the first day of the filing of COCs for the May 2013 local and national elections would only be the latest in the series of “creative responses” to the serious problem of credit-grabbing politicians, Paner said.

Paner and cultural activist Carlos Celdran recently led the anti-epal tour of Quezon City, which eventually led to Mayor Herbert Bautista’s removal of tiles all over the city bearing his initials HB.

The duo plans to take the tour to other cities of Metro Manila and eventually to the rest of the country.

“Epals are those politicians who take credit for anything that they do, which is their duty to fulfill in the first place,” said Paner, a regular fixture in the advertising world where she has worked as actor, producer and director.

Paner, also a sought-after stage actor, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview that the epals have been a scourge of the political landscape because they have been reinforcing the false notion that they should take credit for bringing various projects to their towns or districts.

According to Paner, the anti-epal movement that she and Celdran are involved with, hopes to make Filipinos aware that politicians should not get away with making it appear as if they bankrolled the construction of roads and bridges, and financed the distribution of relief goods, for example, when in fact these were funded by the people’s money.

Paner said that with elections just around the corner, epals have been plastering their faces on billboards and posters announcing everything from “happy fiesta” to “happy birthday.”

“What is all this but early campaigning,” Paner said.

Celdran told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that given the seriousness of the situation, it would take some creativity to get the people’s attention and combining the Juana Change and Damaso personas would do just that.

Celdran shocked the Archdiocese of Manila and the Catholic faithful when he held up a placard with the word “Damaso” in the middle of a Mass at Manila Cathedral on Sept. 30, 2010, to protest the Church stand against the reproductive health bill. Padre Damaso is a character in Jose Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere” who was known to be cruel and abusive. For that stunt, Celdran was jailed for a day.

Celdran said, however, that he and Paner were mere catalysts and that it was the general public that got the anti-epal campaign going.

Ordinary citizens are sending in pictures and messages about epaliticians in their area putting their faces on everything from cans of sardines to bags of rice and even toothbrushes for distribution to school children, according to Celdran.

“Filipinos are now getting angry with the gall of these politicians to take credit for everything,” he said, adding that the anti-epal movement being pushed by several groups has caught on because it has been easy to relate to and evidence has been easy to collect.

“Filipinos have become smarter and more are coming to realize that epalism is an insult,” Celdran said.

He also credited Aquino with providing the democratic space for the anti-epal campaign to work because of his own policy against the “utak wangwang,” which attacked politicians’ sense of entitlement.

Paner said an epal-free Philippines was the goal of the movement. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg. By talking about epalism, we can talk about other problems underneath the surface, such as patronage politics,” she said.

In the meantime, Celdran said he and Paner would continue to use art as a weapon against the establishment.

Art has demonstrated its power to transform and the growing success of the anti-epal campaign shows that it still is—and probably always will be—a force to reckon with, according to Celdran.

Paner put a damper on the giddiness surrounding the Aquino administration when she, in her popular Juana Change persona, attacked in a short film aired via YouTube the President’s purchase of a “secondhand” Porsche just a few months after he became President on a platform of anti-corruption and good governance.

The Porsche short film was just the latest in the series of political satire pieces that she, as Juana Change, has been distributing for free through YouTube since 2008 as part of her political advocacy.

10-02-2012, 08:40 AM
By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:42 am | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

For Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr., next year’s campaign is a chance to finally purge an “atrocious reputation” as the prototypical bad boy of the ’80s when his father was lording it over as the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law enforcer.

“I was a young, red-blooded male. You get into fights, but you never made the papers. But I did because it was blown out of proportion. It’s an unfortunate thing. I’m very sorry for those whose lives were lost but I never pulled or fired a shot in anger in my entire life. I can look at you with a straight face and say that,” Enrile said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer at his Urdaneta Village home in January.

Enrile said he then had asked permission from his father, now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, to leave for the United States.

“I did not think I was going to be given a fair shake here. He felt affected by that and that he knew in his heart that it was true and he could not do anything about it. I sought his blessing but he did not give it and I could see why. It hurt him to see his son was affected by something that he should have not been affected with,” said the younger Enrile.

The 54-year-old Enrile said the first time he realized people were out to get back at his father through him was in grade school at Ateneo de Manila University.

“I was kicked in my lower lip. I was beaten up in Grade 4 by Grade 7 students who were calling me ‘tuta ni Marcos.’ I got 17 stitches and I lied to my parents and told them I got kicked when I was playing football. But I had to fight back. I promised myself that would be the last time anybody laid a hand on me,” Enrile said.

“I left for personal reasons because during that time, Dad was not the flavor of the month. People were trying to hit him and the easiest way to hit him was through me. I developed an atrocious reputation in this country and people started to ride on that. The Alfie Anido suicide was attributed to me, the Liezl (daughter of Amalia Fuentes) and Pops Fernandez (supposed abduction and rape cases) were attributed to me,” he said.

“I never met them (Liezl and Pops) and I don’t think they knew what I looked like then,” said Enrile, who also disclosed that he got into more brawls in the United States than in his Ateneo years.

President Aquino was a year behind him in Ateneo while Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas was a year ahead.

Just adventurous

Enrile admitted that his biggest failure was being an ill-equipped and incapable father to his two oldest daughters, who were left behind when he left the country.

He believed that he has more than made up for this shortcoming by being a full-fledged father to his two youngest daughters with his wife.

So, is he a changed man?

“People ask me that all the time. I was always like this, friendly with people, but I have a bad temper. I don’t call it a rebellious streak; I’m just an adventurous guy… I think I had this wanderlust,” he said.

He used to be called “Jackie” after the legendary race car driver but he said he dropped it when he sought a new life in another country.

“Only the Inquirer calls me Jackie now,” said Enrile, an English major, who has turned to the Bible for inspiration.

In explaining his latest quest to seek a higher post, Enrile quoted widely from the Books of Daniel and Micah in the Old Testament.

“The Book of Daniel speaks of sovereignty of God whatever happens in our life. God does not put us in a position of authority or power because we deserve it. The Book of Micah explains that when a person is placed in a position of authority, he is expected to act justly, have mercy and walk humbly with God. That is what is defining me,” he said.

“I have reaped the benefits of being an Enrile and I have borne the scars of being an Enrile. One day, if God and the people decide, I will present my case to them.”

10-02-2012, 08:42 AM
By Juan Escandor Jr.

Inquirer Southern Luzon

10:51 pm | Saturday, September 29th, 2012

SAN JOSE, Camarines Sur—The Election Registration Board (ERB) of this town approved on Friday the voters’ application of couple Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales, removing an obstacle to the actor’s plan to run for a seat in the House of Representatives in the fourth district of Camarines Sur.

Muhlach and Gonzales filed their application in March but a petition questioning the couple’s registration here was filed soon after the actor announced his decision to run for a House seat representing the Partido area, or fourth district, of Camarines Sur.

Muhlach, who joined the ruling Liberal Party in August, will face Felix William “Wimpy” Fuentebella, son of last-term Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella.

The actor, a neophyte in politics, is facing a clan that has ruled the district for decades. The elder Fuentebella is one of the main proponents of a bill that will convert the Partido area into a province to be known as Nueva Camarines, which the bill’s critics said was simply a move to allow the deputy speaker to skirt his term limit and run for another position in the new province.

The elder Fuentebella had repeatedly denied Nueva Camarines was designed to benefit him or his clan, saying that creating another province out of Camarines Sur would help reduce poverty levels as the area to be governed would be reduced and easier to handle.

The show-business couple registered on March 19 in San Jose and listed a leased house on Rizal Street in Barangay San Juan as their place of residence since August last year.

On April 16, a group of political allies of Fuentebella, led by former San Jose Mayor Gil Pacamara and 14 others, questioned Muhlach’s residency at the municipal ERB. The group said the actor failed to meet the six-month residency requirement to register as a voter, which is a requirement for candidacy.

The case dragged on for six months after two previous ERB chairpersons failed to hear and deliberate on the case.

On Sept. 17, the Commission on Elections appointed Rosendo Vales as the third ERB chair of San Jose. On Friday, the case was finally settled after a 10-hour hearing at the municipal council building.

The group that tried to block the actor’s registration presented the sworn statements of 400 town residents who claimed the actor was neither a resident nor was even seen in San Jose. Vales, with two other ERB members representing the Department of Education and the local government, validated the names of the 400 residents. The board also went to check the couple’s leased house.

In its decision, the ERB said it found “substantial compliance” of the couple with the requirement of the law to reside within the place where one seeks to be registered as a voter for six months immediately preceding the election.

Muhlach told the Inquirer he was happy because “the truth was heard” and he would now have greater confidence to go around the fourth district of Camarines Sur and “pursue his dream to render public service.”

10-02-2012, 08:43 AM
By Norman Bordadora, Gil C. Cabacungan and Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:32 am | Saturday, September 29th, 2012

The phenomenon of the administration coalition and the nominally oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) fielding common candidates is an indication of the public’s low estimation of today’s crop of politicians, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

It could indicate that the public believes that “the present crop of candidates does not live up to the expectations of the electorate, such as academic and professional excellence,” Santiago said.

The senator said that nowadays multiterm senators are seen as “overstaying” while the younger senators are perceived to be “immature or incompetent.”

“This gap between political generations seems to be the product of social media, which is now filtering down to the masses. People are no longer content with the old, but are not impressed by the young,” Santiago said.

Surveys rule campaign

Common candidates could also be an indication that the surveys rule the campaign, Santiago said.

“If a senatoriable does not rank high in the surveys, he is likely to be dropped and replaced with someone who is among the top 12 candidates,” she said.

The senator warned the common candidates of the UNA and the Liberal Party-led administration coalition against expecting too much from their inclusion in the two tickets as they might end up with no support at all.

“In every election, the basic problem is how to convince every senator on the ticket to campaign for the whole ticket. Usually, a senatoriable ends up campaigning only for himself or his special friends,” said Santiago, who was a common candidate of not just two but three parties when she ran for reelection in 2010.

The usual reaction of other candidates is “envy and suspicion” if a senator on one ticket is adopted as a common candidate by the other ticket, she said.

Common candidates

Those who are expected to be named as common candidates of the LP coalition and the UNA are reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

Legarda has reportedly accepted the invitation of President Aquino to join the administration senatorial slate for 2013.

Legarda, a candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), thus completes the ticket of the Liberal Party (LP)-led coalition, said a Palace official who was present when Mr. Aquino met Legarda in the Palace on Thursday.

Legarda’s inclusion in the unified ticket of the LP, NPC, Nacionalista Party and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) was confirmed by Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, a senatorial candidate of LDP.

“I heard Loren has confirmed (her inclusion in the LP slate),” said the lawmaker in a text message.

Legarda will share the same political stage with reelectionist Senators Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, Koko Pimentel, Representative Angara, former Representatives Cynthia Villar and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, former Senators Jun Magsaysay and Jamby Madrigal, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino.

All 12 candidates will be presented to the public at noon on Monday at Club Filipino by the President no less, before filing their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections.

Legarda stopped short of confirming this when contacted by phone late last night, hinting that the President would be making the announcement on Monday.

Legarda earlier this week announced that she had accepted the draft by the UNA to be a guest candidate.

Clashes in LP coalition

Instead of an orderly campaign for national and local offices, the months of negotiations among the LP, the NPC and the Nacionalista Party (NP) have led only to the very real possibility of clashes between members of the coalition.

Disarray, especially in battleground provinces, could result in the victory of opposition candidates, weakening the administration’s dominance in the House of Representatives and in the local governments.

The LP, NP and NPC had been negotiating since May to form what House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called a “coalition of giants.”

The three-cornered coalition would have not only a common senatorial slate but would also enforce the “equity of the incumbent” rule, under which the priority of sitting officials would be respected by the partners.

Likely battlegrounds

But with only a day to go before politicians file their candidacy papers, there is no way for the three parties to get together and choose sure winners to field as common candidates.

NP Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla of Cavite said he does not expect things to be as “heated” as 2004.

Aside from Cavite, Remulla expects the NP to square off with the LP on the Zamboanga peninsula, Davao del Sur and Iloilo, all electoral battlegrounds that the administration needs to secure for political dominance.

NPC candidates are likely to clash with the LP in the battleground provinces of Pangasinan, Rizal and Negros Oriental.

Last week, NPC chair emeritus Eduardo Cojuangco announced that the party had downgraded its role in the coalition from ally to mere partner with the adoption of free zones where any party could challenge the incumbent.

10-03-2012, 10:43 AM
By Paolo Romero

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party-led coalition and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) yesterday vowed to wage a clean, honest and principled electoral campaign for next year’s polls.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, part of the UNA senatorial slate, said the party “is ready to launch an honest and decent campaign come February and hope that other parties are ready to do so as well.”

“I am hoping that dirty tactics and the personality-based politics will stop so that the people can decide based on the merits and credentials of the candidates,” Magsaysay said.

“Our voters are smarter now, and we need to give them credit for making their choices based on performance rather than association,” she added.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, who is seeking a Senate seat under the administration coalition, said the LP will wage a “positive campaign.”

“It should be a race to the top, not a race to the bottom, meaning we should outdo each other based on our merits. We should not engage in mudslinging. Ours is issue-based. We should not run our campaign on gossip,” Angara said.

He said he expects fewer campaign rallies for the administration bets, saying the Aquino government is thrifty.

“We will have to maximize the utilization of new media,” Angara said.

Campaign rallies dilemma for Chiz, Loren?

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay has reminded Sen. Francis Escudero that he has to campaign “side by side” with the senatorial bets of UNA as one of its guest candidates.

Binay’s daughter and personal assistant, Nancy Binay-Angeles, said yesterday that Escudero took the initiative to have breakfast with her and the Vice President at their house in Makati.

“I think he knows the conditions. Daddy told him that if he has plans to be on stage with the senatorial candidates of LP, he has to be on UNA’s stage also. If he will not climb the stage in LP, we will not require him,” she told The STAR. Angeles, who is being considered as replacement for Joey de Venecia after he withdrew from the senatorial race, said Escudero did not give any answer.

“He has no answer yet. But I think he will be fair to UNA,” she said.

In a separate interview with The STAR, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said the guest candidates of UNA must share the same stage with UNA during the entire campaign period. Reelectionist Sen. Loren Legarda, also a guest candidate of UNA, was with UNA candidates when they filed their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections in Intramuros, Manila Monday.

Escudero and Legarda joined the proclamation of the LP-led coalition at Club Filipino in San Juan but failed to attend the grand proclamation of the opposition at Manila Hotel later that day.

Legarda said she tried to meet with Binay last Monday afternoon at the Coconut Palace to explain her side. But she was unable to talk with the Vice President since he was busy attending to other guests.

“They know from the very start that my party has a partnership agreement with LP. I think they understand that President Aquino talked to me, and how can I say no to the President?” she said.

She said she also discussed the issue with former President Joseph Estrada, one of the UNA leaders.

She explained that there was no intention to snub the UNA proclamation.

Escudero, Legarda and Grace Poe-Llamanzares are common candidates of the LP-led coalition and UNA. However, the LP does not consider the three as common candidates but official candidates of the Aquino administration.

LP campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon has made it clear that they should not attend the political rallies of the rival coalition.

Binay has stated the same, leaving the three candidates in a dilemma during the campaign sorties of LP and UNA.

Legarda, meanwhile, said that campaign rallies are “so 1990s” and she would stay away from the rallies as much as possible.

“I will not go on stages in rallies. I have an ear problem. I can’t be in noisy rallies,” she said.

Llamanzares has decided to follow the wishes of the LP and campaign exclusively with the administration. UNA apparently has no problems with her decision, with Binay saying that her case is special, she being the daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.

For his part, Escudero said that he rarely shows up in campaign rallies anyway.

He recalled that in 2007, there were about 20 to 30 rallies lined up for him to attend and he showed up in only three.

Escudero admitted that the rallies, apart from being expensive, take a lot of time and hardly get the politician’s message across to the people.

“I believe there are new ways to campaign, which are less expensive and will make the voters understand (our advocacies) better,” he said. He cited social media as an example where he could convey his message directly to a large sector, particularly the youth.

Escudero said that the issues regarding common candidates should be resolved by the time the campaign starts in February. Responding to criticisms about his decision to agree to being a candidate of LP and UNA, Escudero said that he sees no problem since he has been an independent since 2009.

Legarda, on the other hand, is a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which entered into a partnership with LP.

She described herself as a “unity candidate” as three more political parties will endorse her candidacy in the coming weeks.

Tańada welcome to join UNA

UNA secretary-general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said yesterday that UNA will welcome Quezon Rep. Erin Tańada with open arms if he decides to join its senatorial ticket.

“We will gladly welcome him. He will be an asset to us,” Tiangco said.

He said he has not talked to his House colleague from Quezon and does not know if any UNA leader has tried to reach Tańada.

He said if Tańada decides to join their alliance, he would fill the senatorial slot vacated by De Venecia.

A congressional source has told The STAR that UNA has been trying to talk to Tannada, though without success.

“He’s been in the district, probably to evade UNA’s overtures,” the source said.

The Quezon congressman was conspicuously absent in Monday’s proclamation of the LP coalition’s senatorial candidates by President Aquino.

Of the 12 candidates, only three belong to the ruling party.

Tiangco also said that UNA is supporting the reform agenda of President Aquino with “responsible vigilance, not blind obedience.”

He said the real opponent in 2013 is not UNA but “poverty and hunger.”

“UNA should be seen as a partner of the Aquino administration. We are not obstructionist critics. We will support and commend programs and policies that will benefit our people. But we will also point out shortcomings and misguided policies. This we owe to the people,” Tiangco said. With Christina Mendez, Marvin Sy, Jose Rodel Clapano, Jess Diaz

10-03-2012, 10:44 AM
Padaca named Comelec member

By Delon Porcalla

(The Philippine Star) Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has appointed former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca as commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), replacing Augusto Lagman who was not reappointed by Malacańang.

“I confirm that the appointment papers of Grace Padaca as Comelec commissioner have been transmitted to the Comelec,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said after checking the information from the office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes welcomed yesterday the appointment of Padaca to the poll body.

“I was requesting the President for a woman to be the next commissioner and apparently, they listened to me. I can always say that we’ve known her already. There’s no problem with her integrity and she will be a big help to us. We welcome her,” Brillantes said.

The appointment papers of Padaca, a former journalist, were dated Sept. 28. Her real name is Ma. Gracia Cielo Padaca, and she served as governor of Isabela from 2004 to 2010.

Padaca will have a seven-year term until Feb. 2, 2018 and her tenure will outlive Aquino’s presidency that will end in June 2016.

The Comelec chairman said Padaca would be a big asset to the independent constitutional body tasked to oversee the May 2013 senatorial polls.

Brillantes yesterday claimed that Padaca could act as “referee” when there are disagreements in the male-dominated Comelec.

Brillantes noted Padaca’s appointment is ad interim “so she has to assume immediately before Congress resumes session.”

He, however, claimed that Padaca might face a legal problem because of a provision in the Constitution that could disqualify her from the Comelec post.

Brillantes was referring to Article IX C of the 1987 Constitution which states that “there shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who... must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections.”

“But which is the immediate and preceding elections? They say it is the barangay polls, which is immediately preceding elections. But should the immediately preceding election be of the same nature, which is national and local, which is May 2010 instead of October 2010 (barangay)?” Brillantes asked.

Sen. Loren Legarda also welcomed Padaca’s appointment to the poll body.

“As far as I know, she is a woman of integrity. More than a woman, she deserves it because she has wide experience not only in media and in politics,” she said.

Dy unchallenged in Isabela

The appointment of Padaca to the Comelec would mean that incumbent Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy III would have no serious rival in his re-election bid.

Dy’s Vice Gov. Rodolfo Albano III said that Padaca’s appointment made Dy’s re-election bid “a walk in the park.” With Sheila Crisostomo, Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Charlie Lagasca

10-03-2012, 11:07 AM
By Edith Regalado

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Suspected car smuggler Lynard Allan Bigcas filed yesterday his certificate of candidacy (COC) for governor in Bukidnon under President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP).

Bigcas, a native of Talakag, Bukidnon, filed his COC at the Commission on Elections (Office) provincial office in Malaybalay City after he was able to secure a certificate of nomination and acceptance from LP for him to run against incumbent Vice Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. who is now running for governor.

Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona, an LP leader, denied that Bigcas is a member of the party.

“Let me set the record straight. A certain Lynard Allan Bigcas, who filed his candidacy to run as governor of Bukidnon, is not a member of the Liberal party. His reported declaration that he is an LP candidate in Bukidnon is totally false,” said Guingona.

Bigcas is facing smuggling cases at the Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court after he was caught in May last year in possession of a motorcycle worth $80,000 owned by Hollywood screenwriter Skip Woods and which was stolen in Houston, Texas. Several other sport utility vehicles were found in Bigcas’ home in Talakag.

Aside from cases of car smuggling, Bigcas also figured in a shooting incident here in Davao City where he allegedly shot an official of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) earlier this year.

He reportedly promised voters to improve basic services, including education and health, for Bukidnon residents.

10-03-2012, 11:09 AM
By Edith Regalado

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Jinkee Pacquiao, wife of boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, surprised everyone yesterday afternoon when she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) to run for vice governor of Sarangani province in the May 2013 elections.

Jinkee arrived at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office in Alabel town at around 1 p.m. with her husband to personally file their COCs.

The Pacquiaos are running under the banner of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition.

Jinkee’s decision surprised residents as she had never before shown or indicated having any political inclination.

She explained she decided to run for vice governor to help her husband carry out his public service tasks in the province.

Pacquiao, who is seeking re-election in the May 2013 polls, welcomed his wife’s political plans, saying certain groups and local leaders urged her to seek the gubernatorial post.

“I will continue what Manny Pacquiao has started,” she told Pacquiao’s legal counsel Franklin Gacal, who said Jinkee had no intention of running for public office until the people of Sarangani urged her to do so.

“No. She never planned it. The leaders of Sarangani urged her to run,” he said.

Pacquiao’s younger brother, Roel, is also running for congressman in the first district of South Cotabato.

If the brothers get lucky, there will be two Pacquiaos in the House after the May elections.

Jinkee is well loved in Sarangani from where she hails, Gacal said, adding her lack of political experience won’t be a hindrance.

“Jinkee is a new face in Sarangani politics. It will be public service above self. Governance without corruption,” said Gacal.

“She will be the epitome of a servant-leader,” the lawyer from General Santos City said.

Now that Pacquiao has filed his COC, it’s on for his eight-week training for his Dec. 8 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao will train in Los Angeles where they hope there will be less distractions which usually hound his four-week Baguio City camp. He is scheduled to leave for LA soon. – With Abac Cordero

10-03-2012, 11:10 AM
House OKs compulsory insurance for poll workers

By Paolo Romero

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill mandating compulsory insurance for election officials and workers during national and local elections. The compulsory insurance under House Bill 6528 will be for members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI), the Board of Election Tellers (BET) and their support staff.

“The compulsory insurance is one way the state could concretely express its recognition of the crucial role of the members of the BEI, SBEI, the BET and their support staff and the dangers that attend every election,” A-Teacher party-list Rep. Juliet Cortuna, one of the authors of the bill, said.

The bill mandates that the death benefits of election officials and workers include the awarding of P200,000 to the beneficiaries on the first year of implementation of the proposed law, while the insurance coverage will include hospitalization and medical expenses of the injured beneficiary until his/her recovery, notwithstanding benefits provided for by the Government Security and Insurance System (GSIS) or any institution granting the same to the insured.

The measure, which is expected to be passed on final reading later this month, also provides the insurance coverage will commence from the time the insured is exposed to any election-related risk.

The coverage starts from, but is not limited to, the acquisition of election paraphernalia and it shall be terminated upon proper turnover of the same to the appropriate receiving officer or until any election-related risk is no longer present, according to the bill.

The measure also provides that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) shall pay the corresponding premium to be determined by the GSIS.

Other authors of the bill are Reps. Mariano Piamonte (A-Teacher party-list), Antonio Tinio (Act Teachers party-list), Andres Salvacion, Jr. (Leyte) and Elpidio Barzaga Jr. (Dasmarińas City), chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms.

10-03-2012, 11:11 AM
Comelec admits website not immune to hackers

By Sheila Crisostomo

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Amid attacks on some government websites, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said its own website is not totally immune but it is ready to respond immediately in case it is hacked.

“I’ve been always saying that there’s no such thing as a hack-free computer system. But what we can guarantee is that if our website will be hacked, we will act immediately,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

Jimenez said the system to be used in the 2013 mid-term elections has a “different and higher level of security.”

“It’s unfair to compare our transmission system, voting system for election with the system for our information site. These are two different things. Our (election-related) system has security features that will make hacking very difficult,” he added.

In the past weeks, the group “Anonymous Philippines” had defaced the websites of several government agencies in the aftermath of the passage of the anti-cybercrime law.

Among these websites are those of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Health, the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis, Philippines’ Anti-Piracy Team, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The group had replaced the websites with animated logos and a statement against the cybercrime law.

10-03-2012, 11:13 AM
Estranged wife will help in campaign of both Koko, Golez

By Dannny Dangcalan

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

BACOLOD City, Philippines – Former beauty queen Jewel May Lobaton, estranged wife of Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, yesterday filed a petition for annulment of their marriage, but she vowed to still campaign for the re-election of the senator and her rumored lover Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez.

“I just filed with the Diocese of Bacolod,” she told reporters here during a press conference for Jam Step, a project of her Ang Batang Pinoy Movement.

Lobaton, the 1998 Bb. Pilipinas Universe, said both she and Koko agreed that she file for church annulment first.

Although they were married in Cagayan de Oro City, the hometown of the Pimentels, Lobaton said Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra allowed her to file her annulment papers here because she is also a resident of Bacolod.

Lobaton said that despite the pending annulment of their marriage she would also continue supporting the re-election bid of Pimentel.

Pimentel had filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) last Monday at the Comelec office in Manila and checked “married” in his civil status but the senator made a note “de facto separated.”

His mother Bing and his sister Gwen accompanied the senator to the Comelec office.

“We cannot anymore live together as husband and wife but we can live together as a family together with our children. The most important thing is our relationship is intact. At the end of the day, we want to see our children happy because their mother and father are also happy,” she explained.

Last May, the senator announced that he has separated from Lobaton after being married for 12 years. They have two sons.

She said the senator is now taking care of their sons, but she sees the boys when she visits Manila since they have shared custody of the children.

Lobaton has been rumored to have an affair with Rep. Golez whose marriage to former Tawi-Tawi Rep. Soraya Jaafar is also undergoing annulment proceedings.

Golez, a physician, is a former spokesman of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Lobaton stressed she and Golez are only good friends and she will campaign for him in the coming polls.

“I will campaign for him on my free time. I will tell good things about him based on his work,” she said.

“Really, we’re best of friends. My commitment to him is, as your friend, I will stay beside you no matter what people do,” she said of Golez.

On rumors that her personal things were recently found in Golez’s house, she said, “It’s all fabricated.”

She said things can be said against her but she refused to comment anymore. “They are allowed their own opinion and the truth will set us free.”

The former beauty queen also denied that she is the woman shown kissing a man in a photo sent to media recently. The man in the photograph is said to be Golez.

Golez had earlier denied that he is the man in the photo as he threatened to file charges against the person behind the release of the photo.

But when asked if there is a possibility that she might develop feelings for Golez, Lobaton said, “Why not? Because he’s a good man. Right now, (it’s) not in my priority list getting into another relationship.”

Golez earlier said his conscience is clear regarding his marital problems, which prompted his wife Jaafar to file an annulment case.

“It is unfortunate that a purely private matter involving my family has been made public. Much to my disadvantage, the law prohibits me from making any public disclosures, even to defend my integrity. Believe me, I would have wanted to answer but my lawyers told me to let it be handled in the court,” Golez added.

Jaafar, who was married to Golez for eight years, had also petitioned a Quezon City court to grant her a temporary protection order to prevent the congressman from harassing her and their daughter.

Reports said Jaafar sued Golez for infidelity due to rumors that he and Lobaton are allegedly having an affair.

Judge Angeline Quimpo-Sale of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 106 granted last Sept. 12 Jaafar’s request and ordered Golez to cease from harassing his wife and daughter and to stay away from the couple’s house in Capitolville Subdivision in Bacolod.

Meanwhile, re-electionist Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is a bachelor again, having listed “single” in his civil status in the certificate of candidacy (COC) that he filed yesterday at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) central office in Manila.

Escudero later told The STAR that his marriage to Christine Elizabeth Flores had already been annulled.

Christine left the conjugal home in December 2010 and left their twins in the senator’s care.

Escudero has been rumored to be dating television host and presidential sister Kris Aquino but the most persistent rumor is that he is going steady with actress Heart Evangelista.

Escudero filed his COC with no fanfare and only members of his Senate staff accompanied him to the poll office.

Reporters, however, bombarded the senator with questions about Evangelista.

“Are you filing with all your heart?” was the first question thrown at him. – With Sheila Crisostomo

10-03-2012, 11:25 AM
By Neal H. Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:35 pm | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

After yesterday’s hoopla at the Commission on Elections and seeing the senatorial lineups of the Liberal Party and the United People’s Coalition, we can safely say that both parties have no respect at all for our Constitution. Why? Because they are mocking the constitutional provision against political dynasties.

Look at their candidates, many of whom are members of political dynasties. In the UNA ticket, there are Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., son of Senate President JPE, one of UNA’s Big 3, and Rep. JV Ejercito, son of former President Joseph Estrada, another of the Big 3. JV is reportedly changing his surname from Ejercito to Estrada to capitalize on his father’s popularity. Talk of opportunism. If elected, he will join his brother Jinggoy in the Senate who, some years ago, also joined his mother Loi in the Senate. UNA also tried to persuade a daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the first or third of the Holy Trinity, to also run for the Senate, but she had the good sense not to.

Joey de Venecia, son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia, pulled out at the last minute, allegedly because he ranked very low in the surveys. His reason for backing out was that he had to attend to his business first.

There is also Rep. Mitos Magsaysay of the Magsaysay clan of Zambales. Not to be outdone, LP also has a Magsaysay—former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr.

In fact, LP has more members of political dynasties as candidates. There are Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, husband of Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano and brother of Sen. Pia Cayetano; Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, son of outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara; and former Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of outgoing Sen. Manny Villar. I am sure Grace Poe Llamanzares was chosen because she is the daughter of the great FPJ, and I am also sure that LP would bandy about the name Poe during the campaign.

Then there’s Sen. Koko Pimentel, son of former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

President Aquino, whose battle cry is “reforms,” has not, alas, reformed himself. He has fielded two relatives as senatorial candidates, on both sides of the fence pa: his aunt Tingting Cojuangco in the UNA ticket and his cousin Bam Aquino (is the middle letter of his first name A or U?) in the LP ticket.

This last is the perfect example of an opportunist. Coming from nowhere, he wants to be a senator just because he is an Aquino. And he does everything to ape his great departed uncle, Ninoy Aquino. His hairdo imitates that of Ninoy, he wears the same thick horn-rimmed eyeglasses that Ninoy wore, and he dresses like him. And he will use the name Paolo Benigno Aquino IV. Waaah!

Other senators started in the lower ranks of the government—mayor, governor, congressman—to learn the ropes. Ninoy himself started as mayor of his hometown of Concepcion, Tarlac. Not Bam. He wants to be senator right away. What qualification does he have other than being the namesake of Ninoy and a cousin of the incumbent President? He has not even served as barangay captain.

You would think that being the President, P-Noy would be the first to respect the Constitution. Obviously, he doesn’t. He is on the way to making his own political dynasty. P-Noy’s sister Kris has already signified that she, too, will enter politics. If cousin Bam can run for senator, why can’t she?

Other political dynasties are also active in the provinces. For example, in Mindanao, relatives of ex-representative and convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos are lording it over the three Zamboanga provinces. In Davao, there are the Dutertes, and in Agusan, the Plazas. The same is true in many other provinces.

The issue of political dynasties was also the hot topic at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday. The guests were ex-representative Rodolfo Plaza, UNA spokesperson JV Bautista, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, and Hans Leo Cacdac, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Bautista defended the UNA ticket by saying that in spite of the constitutional provision there is still no enabling law to prohibit political dynasties. True, but if you respect the Constitution you would obey it even if there is no enabling law. And as personalities who want to be hailed as leaders of the country, shouldn’t the leaders of parties like UNA and LP set the example in respecting the Constitution? How can there be an enabling law when almost all legislators are members of political dynasties? Even the party-list groups, from which we expect better behavior, have their own political dynasties. Many of the nominees are usually the father, mother, son, daughter, etc., of government officials. And although they have no districts, party-list representatives insist on also collecting pork barrel. Where do they spend P70 million a year of the people’s money?

Plaza said that while he is a member of a political dynasty, he is fighting his family in Agusan. He also said that unlike other congressmen, he gets only 10 percent, no more, of any project’s contract price.

Macalintal said that the pork barrel is not in the Constitution and that the work of legislators is to enact laws, not initiate and supervise public works projects. Macalintal also said the Supreme Court justices who are boycotting the tribunal’s Monday flag ceremony to spite Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno are violating the law and their own strict orders to judges, schools, and other government employees to attend such ceremonies.

Low-ranking government employees are chastised and punished for being absent from flag ceremonies, but here are the highest-ranking justices themselves, who gave the ruling, boycotting their own flag ceremony, Macalintal said. The justices can be impeached for that behavior, he added.

10-03-2012, 11:31 AM
By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:34 pm | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I looked at the pictures of the LP and UNA senatorial candidates that appeared in this newspaper last weekend and wondered if JV Ejercito wasn’t right. Why have two parties disputing the Senate at all? Why not just have one supraparty and let the voters choose from among its candidates whom they want to be there?

Except for one or two exceptions, there are really no basic differences between the candidates of the one and the other. Edwin Lacierda says there’s nothing wrong with LP’s own grab bag of candidates. “Politics is addition…. During the past two years they have been supportive of the programs of the President.”

Of course they have. That doesn’t owe to principle, that owes to convenience. There are no real parties in this country, only temporary arrangements or coalitions built around the winning president. After every presidential election, everybody flocks to the winning party and makes it the biggest one around. Until the next election, until the next president.

PDP-Laban, Lakas-NUCD, PMP (LAMMP), Lakas-Kampi: All have come and all have gone. And all had erstwhile friend and foe alike, however those terms are defined in Philippine politics, supporting the programs of the president. LP will come and go, too. All this must suggest there are no permanent loyalties, only permanent self-interests. Which raises all sorts of questions about what you mean by “supportive.”

In fact the only two people there that have a difference remotely related to principle are Koko Pimentel and Migz Zubiri. Pimentel bolted UNA because he didn’t want to be in the same party as the fellow who stole four years of his senatorial term, a mistake his father made in the past, running under Erap with Juan Ponce Enrile, the one person he accused of stealing his entire term in 1995 through “dagdag-bawas.” And the only reason Pimentel is with LP and not UNA is that Erap refused to give Zubiri up, finding nothing wrong with electoral fraud, forgive and forget na lang, he said. Otherwise, Pimentel would still be with him.

Before this, last weekend I also looked at the pictures of those that gathered at Enrile’s book launch, and after being initially dismayed I wondered what was really so strange about them. Of course P-Noy’s family had suffered grievously under the Marcoses. Of course P-Noy’s mother had been the object of a series of coup attempts by Enrile. Of course the Marcoses had been overthrown by the people in a grand act of People Power. Of course Erap had been overthrown as well by the people in yet another grand act of People Power. But what of it? Worse things have happened to this country, and always the oppressors have managed to come back. Always the scoundrels have managed to turn themselves into heroes in the final, or at least latest, reel. Always erstwhile enemies have turned into friends and become supportive of whoever was the president’s agenda.

I saw these things and realized that there is only one constant in our politics, or history. That is the incredible capacity of the elite, political and social, to survive. That is the incredible capacity of the elite to mend their differences, however those differences seem stark at one point, and find a new lease on life. That is the incredible capacity of the elite to come together and build a united front against a common enemy, which is change.

It was so then, it is so now.

You would imagine that the divisions created by the Japanese occupation were so wide the elite would never be able to come together again. Some had collaborated with the Japanese to put up the Japanese-sponsored government while the rest had remained loyal to the Americans to put up the American-sponsored government after “Liberation.” Feelings were raw, resentments were deep, relations were bitter. Yet a few years after Independence, the collaborators were running for office again. A decade later, few remembered what collaboration was.

You would imagine that the divisions created by martial law were so wide the elite would never be able to come together again. The politicians had flocked to the side of the victor while the rest had fled to the United States or worked with the underground to fight Marcos. Feelings were raw, resentments were deep, relations were bitter. Yet a few years later, the “collaborators” were back. Two and a half decades later, Enrile would be free to claim he is our savior—not just at Edsa but in the pit of martial law itself.

The other side of this, which is also the one constant in our politics, or history, is the incredible capacity of the elite to exclude everybody else from power, not least those who risked life and limb to fight the oppression. That was what happened to those who actually fought the Japanese, that was what happened to those who actually fought martial law. That was what happened to the people themselves who took the brunt of the oppression.

Every effort to give the poor and marginalized some representation in government has been thwarted. Look what has happened to the party-list system, which was supposed to do that. Mikey Arroyo represents the security guards, a fellow who lives in Corinthian Garden represents the squatters, and a Supreme Court justice’s wife represents the indigent blind.

That’s what makes it the hardest thing to reform this country. The people who are supposed to undertake reform are the very ones who are allergic to reform. The people who are best suited to undertake reform, who are the people themselves, are excluded from it.

Politics is addition? Depends on who you add, depends on who you subtract. In this country, that has always meant adding former oppressors and subtracting the still oppressed.

The heart of our politics is dagdag-bawas, in more ways than one.

10-03-2012, 12:02 PM
By Norman Bordadora, Michael Lim Ubac Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:06 am | Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

What “us” against “them”?

Although there are two major coalitions that will contest national and local offices in next year’s midterm elections, both support the administration of President Aquino.

So, Sen. Gregorio Honasan said Tuesday, the President’s subalterns in the Liberal Party (LP) should quit talking as if the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) were an opposition group out to grab power from the Aquino administration.

UNA, though formed to serve as infrastructure for Vice President Jejomar Binay’s campaign for Malacańang in 2016, is not really an opposition group.

Binay is a member of the Cabinet and UNA’s two other leaders, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, are supporters of President Aquino and his campaign against corruption and poverty.

UNA should not be seen as the villain in President Aquino’s campaign for good government, said Honasan, who is running for reelection with UNA.

“I am convinced that UNA is not the enemy of the President,” Honasan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.

‘Permanent enemy’

The “permanent enemies” of the President, the administration coalition, and UNA, Honasan said, are poverty, hunger and ignorance.

But, citing “recent developments,” Honasan added “too much partisan politics” to that list.

Honasan was referring to President Aquino’s remarks at the proclamation of his administration’s senatorial candidates in Mandaluyong City on Monday.

Pursuing his campaign theme of “following the straight path,” Mr. Aquino said that since his coalition’s candidates were already on the right path, those running against them, among whom were “characters” too critical of his presidency, could not be on the same path, referring to the UNA candidates.

Honasan said he did not believe the President meant to disparage the UNA candidates, but spoke only “in the context of promoting” his administration’s candidates.

“I’m not referring to the President, but there are those who pass themselves off as competent, all-knowing and clean, but who are not and who are talking too much,” Honasan said.

“To me, no one really cares what they think,” Honasan said.

Defining theme

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, an LP leader and close ally of the President, said Mr. Aquino did not mean to demonize the UNA candidates, but frame “the theme that should define” the administration coalition.

“It is both his privilege and his obligation as titular head of the coalition,” Abad said.

“He started the way he did to remind people why and how his administration came to power: he was put into power by an administration hungry for justice, food and jobs,” Abad said.

“He was clear as he was emphatic about the nature and direction of his coalition: a people-empowered government in the service of its people, especially those in the margins,” Abad said.

“His ending was, for me, a challenge to UNA to define itself in relation to such characterization,” Abad said. “If UNA is opposition, what is it that it opposes in the Aquino administration? If it is an alternative, [on] what platform is it presenting itself to our people?”

Can’t see gains

But Honasan said he did not see any gains in clearly delineating the many things that separate the administration coalition and UNA.

“Can you imagine the development potential [that] can be unlocked or accelerated if the President, Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who with their combined trust ratings, which will be unbeatable and unassailable, look beyond ’13 and ’16 with vision, statesmanship and combined political will?” Honasan said.

Besides their own candidates, two coalitions have common candidates for the Senate, Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chief Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

Aquino’s partner

UNA secretary general Tobias Tiangco said the senatorial election should be a contest among candidates pushing similar reforms, not a battle between bitter enemies.

“The United Nationalist Alliance is a coalition of two major political parties whose support for the reform agenda of President Aquino is beyond question,” Tiangco said in a statement released Tuesday.

“UNA should be seen as a partner of the Aquino administration. We are not obstructionist critics. We will support and commend programs and policies that will benefit our people. But we will also point out shortcomings and misguided policies. This we owe to the people,” he said.

Tiangco issued the statement to denounce “political hypocrites who had backed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but are now presenting themselves as reformers” in the ruling coalition.

“There are those in the administration coalition who are attempting to recast themselves as true-blue believers in reform and good governance,” Tiangco said, but without naming names.

“The truth is that these personalities were among the most rabid defenders of Mrs. Arroyo when she was in power, but have found it politically convenient to wear yellow and proclaim themselves as advocates of [the straight path]. These political hypocrites know who they are,” Tiangco said.

The rivals

Besides Escudero, Legarda and Llamanzares, those running for the Senate on the administration ticket are Senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV; former Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Jamby Madrigal; Representatives Juan Edgardo Angara and Cynthia Villar; former party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, and President Aquino’s cousin, Paolo Benigno Aquino.

Running on the UNA ticket besides Honasan and the three common candidates are Representatives Jack Enrile, JV Ejercito and Milagros Magsaysay; former Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri; former Gov. Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco; and former Senators Richard Gordon and Ernesto Maceda.


Rep. Teodoro Casińo doesn’t like the lineups in the least. Besides Llamanzares and Paolo Benigno Aquino, the rest are the same, old faces or their children, he said. Is there no one else?

How about Casińo? He is running for a seat in the Senate not with a coalition but only with the Makabayan Party.

“Unfortunately the lineups of the two biggest coalitions give us little choice,” Casińo said. “They are the same names and faces we see, the same people who have dominated Philippine politics for decades.”

Casińo said he would present himself to voters as an “alternative” candidate for the Senate. With a report from Christian Esguerra

10-03-2012, 12:10 PM
By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:50 pm | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

President Benigno Aquino will endorse the gubernatorial candidacy of Fr. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio, who lost in his reelection bid in 2010 in Pampanga, should he decide to join anew the local political derby.

“Yes,” said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party (LP) president-on-leave, when asked by the Inquirer whether the ruling party would support the candidacy of the priest.

Another LP stalwart, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, confirmed, in a separate phone interview, talks for the official endorsement of Panlilio’s candidacy by the President himself.

“It’s still being discussed,” Abad said, refusing to reveal details of the arrangement for now.

Panlilio will face Gov. Lilia Pineda. In 2010, Panlilio ran under the LP, while Pineda ran under the administration party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Arroyo ally

Pineda is a close ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Could Panlilio win this time against an incumbent and well-moneyed governor?

“Let’s answer that at the appropriate time—when there is finality in the candidacy,” Abad said.

Pampanga is abuzz with talk of Panlilio’s entry into the gubernatorial race again.

Panlilio won the 2007 race against Pineda but he was unseated by the Commission on Elections after a recount of votes.

On Saturday, Panlilio, chair emeritus of LP in Pampanga, led the swearing in of more than 100 party members in the province.

Pineda is seeking reelection with her son, Dennis Pineda, as her running mate.

Reports said the LP is likely to field Panlilio and lawyer Amalia Tiglao-Cayanan in the gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial races. Panlilio declined to comment.

No reply

The Inquirer also tried to reach City of San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, LP provincial chair, but his mobile phone was unattended on Tuesday afternoon. Rodriguez also did not respond to text messages.

But Pineda said she welcomes any challenger. “This is a democratic exercise,” Pineda said in a text message sent through her aide, former Board Member Rosve Henson.

In September, San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said he was banking on the promise of Panlilio not to enter politics again.

“Perhaps he has to, I think, out of solidarity because he is still a member of the clergy, he should inform me,” said the bishop.

When Panlilio defeated Pineda and reelectionist Gov. Mark Lapid in 2007, Aniceto suspended Panlilio’s priestly duties.


On Monday, Dr. Jose Montemayor, a doctor and lawyer, filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for governor to challenge Pineda.

Montemayor filed his COC without supporters in tow. No party nomination was attached to his certificate, Comelec records showed.

Asked on Tuesday why he decided to challenge Pineda, Montemayor said: “Until now, people are afraid of the powers that control illegal gambling, injustices and criminality.”

The governor’s husband, Rodolfo, known more as “Bong,” has been suspected of financing the illegal numbers game “jueteng” in several parts of Luzon. Bong Pineda, in a previous appearance at the Senate, had denied involvement in jueteng operations. With reports from Jun Malig and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

10-04-2012, 09:59 PM
Home › In-Depth ›
'PNoy using anti-Arroyo sentiment in 2013 polls'

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 10/04/2012 8:39 PM | Updated as of 10/04/2012 8:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is again tapping into the anti-Arroyo sentiment in the campaign for the 2013 mid-term elections of its senatorial candidates, a political analyst said Thursday.

Malou Tiquia, founder and general manager of of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc., said this amid former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's arrest for a plunder case on the same week the Aquino administration unveiled its senatorial ticket for next year's mid-term election.

This ticket *includes a host of anti-Arroyo personalities led by Grace Poe Llamanzares, *the daughter of the man Arroyo allegedly cheated in the 2004 Presidential election; Senators Koko Pimentel and Alan Cayetano, who were reportedly affected by her alleged order to rig the 2007 mid-term elections; and Risa Hontiveros, a former congresswoman whose party is a signatory to several complaints against Arroyo in connection with her presidency.

Aquino himself won on an anti-Arroyo platform in the 2010 presidential race.

Tiquia pointed to Aquino's proclamation speech for the administration ticket.

"'A vote for Noy is a vote against GMA' was a campaign frame that contrasted Aquino clearly from GMA. When the President gave his message in the proclamation of the LP coalition last Oct 1, again the same framing was adopted," she said.

Tiquia explained why it may not work this time around.

"With the President's high satisfaction and approval ratings, and since the Senate is a multi-seat race, invoking the same frame may not work in the midterm because 1) slate is not a pure LP; b) GMA is not running for a national position; c) activities leading towards the selection and ultimate announcement of the LP coalition have given the public a sense that it appears there is no difference from the previous brand of politics," she said.

"This is what I call a media frame (spin) because there are more who voted for other candidates combined than for Noy in 2010, which means that people were looking for more than just being anti-GMA," she added.

Anti-Arroyo card

Tiquia also said that continuing to use the the anti-Arroyo card means "that the 3 years have not done much for this administration. *The fact that there is no true opposition party is already a give away that the GMA card can't win candidates."

Tiquia added that the absence of an opposition party shows that the anti-Arroyo card is useless. "I still believe it will be a referendum for this administration, that is why you have 2 sister teams that assure the incumbent a 12-0 victory which will be the first in our political history. *In the elections in 2007, it was 10-2 for UNO, the opposition party against GMA."

Nevertheless, Poe's presence in the line-up guarantees Arroyo, who filed her candidacy for a 2nd term as her home district's congressional representative, will be an election issue.

"Even if Grace Poe does not embrace the GMA card, it will be played up because she is the daughter of FPJ. *I don't think Grace Poe will be the willing wedge on 'harnessing to carry the admin candidates' simply because the slate is a rainbow coalition. *As a neophyte candidate, the mathematics of a national campaign will have to take a pragmatic approach at the local level," Tiquia said.

On her own though, Poe will have to work hard to land in the Senate.

"Grace Poe, just like any candidate, has a 50-50 chance of winning in May 2013. *In the last Pulse survey, Poe got 17.4% and is within 17-23 in terms of ranking. *Her measured capacity may not be at the rate of someone who has gone around and done media guestings and interviews. *The 74% awareness is not universal but it is a good point to start on. *If she runs an emotional campaign pinned on FPJ, she may just be the surprise in May," Tiquia said.

Earlier this week, Poe and her father's 2004 campaign spokesman Francis Escudero filed their candidacies for senator.

Asked if she expected to benefit from the sentiment against Arroyo who defeated FPJ in 2004 amid allegations of cheating, Poe said it will always be relevant.

Going beyond Arroyo

UP political analyst Prospero de Vera, however, said Poe needs more.

"The fact that her name will appear in both UNA and LP coalition tickets and her FPJ link will make her competitive. But will she have the resources for TV ads to catch up with the front runners?" he asked.

"Grace Poe can remind the candidates about 2004 but she can't stand on this issue alone. She must remember that some of the candidates in her coalition and many local candidates were GMA alies and she needs their support to win," de Vera said.

He said the administration will try to make Arroyo an election issue again. "PNoy and some senatorial candidates of the LP-NP-NUP coalition will try to revive an anti-GMA sentiment but as the campaign moves on, it will be everyone to himself both at the national and local levels. This election will be bereft of issues. *GMA will be a non-issue."

10-08-2012, 10:58 AM
Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:32 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Newly appointed Election Commissioner Grace Padaca must feel confused, even disoriented, from the flurry of criticism she has received in the last several days. Her use of President Aquino’s “personal funds” to pay for bail—P30,000 for a graft charge and P40,000 for a malversation charge—has thrust her into the center of a gathering political storm, one that threatens to undermine her reputation as that rare creature: a politician of integrity.

She must be wondering what she did wrong. She has been steadfast in her campaign against corruption; she has been tireless in her championing of good governance; she has not changed political alliances since she entered politics; more to the point, she has not wavered in her fight against the Dy dynasty in Isabela province.

When she heard about the twin charges of corruption and malversation of funds being prepared against her by a surrogate of the Dy family she had tangled with in three gubernatorial elections, she thought (rightly, in our view) that the cases were politically motivated. When the charges were filed, she decided (rightly, in the eyes of many) to protest the manifest injustice by refusing to post bail. When President Aquino, an ally of longstanding, offered to put up the money for her bail last May, she felt (understandably) vindicated. And when Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, president-on-leave of the Liberal Party she belongs to, accompanied her when she finally posted bail last Thursday, she looked serene.

She said: “Hindi lang po ’yung halaga ng pera ang importante dun kundi ’yung ibig sabihin ’yung isang katulad ni Noynoy, isang katulad ni Mar, ay nandito at mas naniniwala ako’y hindi kurakot at walang ninakaw sa mamamayan.” (It’s not just the amount of money that is important [in posting bail] but the significance of someone like Noynoy [President Aquino], someone like Mar [Roxas], [standing] here [by me] and believing that I am not corrupt and did not steal anything from the people.)

We too believe she is not corrupt and did right by her provincemates when she awarded the P25-million priority hybrid rice project that is the subject of the two charges. But something happened between May, when President Aquino first offered to post bail for her, and last week, when she brought the President’s money to the courtroom, in Roxas’ company: She had been appointed to the Commission on Elections.

The appointment itself is not without controversy. Anyone who ran in the previous election cannot be appointed to the election agency; while Malacańang interprets the “previous” election to mean the October 2010 barangay elections, others suggest that the real milestone is the May 2010 national elections, in which Padaca was a candidate. The fact that the former governor is facing criminal charges—even if Padaca and her allies and supporters, the President among them, think these are only a form of political harassment—is also not without moment.

But it is the presumed independence of an election commissioner that is the source and measure of the growing controversy. Many people will ask: How can Padaca be an effective member of the Comelec, if she is perceived as partisan? If she used President Aquino’s own money to bail herself out, surely she will tack the Liberal Party’s way?

Here’s the first of two truths we suggest the Magsaysay awardee take to heart: Even if she had not accepted the President’s offer, she would have been criticized as a politician-appointee anyway; she is the first politician appointed to the Comelec since Gloria Arroyo named Benjamin Abalos. This in itself is not a disqualification; as in the case of the Supreme Court, appointed politicians can rise above politics. In fact, considering her travails with election hijinks, Padaca can be an effective advocate of election reform within the Comelec. But her reputation from here on will depend on her performance.

And the second? Good intentions are not enough. Her appointment to the Comelec changed her relationship with the President, Roxas and other close allies. Nothing suggests that her good intentions, her ambitions for good governance have changed; but the context is now completely different. She should put her trust in a government of laws—not of well-meaning, deep-pocketed gentlemen.

10-08-2012, 11:29 AM
By Rodel Rodis

2:30 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The dysfunctionality of the American and Philippine political systems can best be comprehended in their contrasting definitions of political compromise. In one system, it’s a sin; in the other, a virtue.

In Washington DC last September 17, the US Senate voted 58 to 40 to pass the American Veterans Jobs Bill that would provide $1 billion over 5 years to create a Veterans Job Corps that would put tens of thousands of veterans back to work at a time when one in four of them are unemployed.

On March 29, 2012, the US Senate voted 51-47 to remove $4 billion in annual tax breaks to the big oil companies at a time when these companies are reaping record profits and have no need for this form of “corporate welfare”.

On April 16, 2012, the Senate voted 51 – 45 to pass the Buffet Rule which requires that people making over $1 million a year should pay at least 30% in taxes. It was named after billionaire Warren Buffet who complained that his secretary was paying more in taxes, as a percentage of her gross income, than he was.

On December 18, 2010, the Senate voted overwhelmingly (55-41) in favor of the Dream Act that would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to gain legal status. One Filipino American newspaper estimated the number of Filipino children in the US who would benefit from this bill at 500,000.

Though all these bills received the votes of the majority of senators, they failed to pass because the Republicans in each instance invoked the cloture rule that required a vote of 60 senators to avoid a Republican filibuster.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell candidly explained to Fox News’ Bret Baier that his goal from the first day of President Barack Obama’s administration has been to make him a one-term president. “That’s my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country,” he said. More important to Sen. McConnell than getting the US economy back on track or providing jobs to millions of unemployed Americans.

Political scientist Barbara Sinclair reported that during the 1960s, threatened or actual filibusters affected only 8 percent of major legislation in the US Senate. By the 1980s, it had risen to 27 percent. But under President Obama, Republican filibusters have soared to over 70 percent.

In sharp contrast to the uncompromising take-no-prisoners attitude of US Republicans, the candidates of the major Philippine political parties are interchangeable and their principles highly flexible.

On October 1, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III unveiled his administration’s National Unity Party (NUP) senatorial slate composed of candidates from a loose amalgamation of political parties (Liberal, Akbayan, Nacionalista, Nationalist People’s Coalition and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino).

The administration slate includes: Rep. Cynthia Villar, the wife of Aquino’s 2010 presidential opponent, Sen. Manny Villar; Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, the son of the late Sen. Rene Cayetano, and brother of Sen. Pia Cayetano; Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, son of Sen. Edgardo Angara; former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay II, the son of former president Ramon Magsaysay; Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, the son of former Sen. Nene Pimentel; and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, the nephew of Aquino.

On that same day, Vice-President Jejomar “Jojo”Binay unveiled his own United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial slate which included Rep. Jack Enrile, the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Rep. JV Ejercito, the son of former Pres. Joseph Estrada and brother of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada; and Binay’s own daughter, Nancy Binay (a late addition).

Each slate boasts its own notorious coup plotter with Sen. Gringo Honasan – who led 7 coup attempts against President Corazon “Cory” Aquino from 1997 to 1999 – on the Binay slate and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV-who plotted a military coup in 2003 against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – on Aquino’s ticket. This just proves that if you want to be a Philippine senator, plot a coup.

Both slates include three common candidates: Sen. Chiz Escudero, Sen. Loren Legarda, and Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, the daughter of 2004 presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr.

None of the candidates from either slate hails from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which once again leaves out a significant portion of the country’s population from participating in the political bargaining table of the senate.

Aside from the common candidates, both slates are composed almost entirely of members of the political dynasties that have dominated Philippine politics for four decades. This practice is in violation of Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

Conveniently for the dynasts who dominate the Philippine Congress, no enabling legislation that defines political dynasties has ever passed and likely never will. There have been noble attempts in the past to pass such legislation, notably Senate Bill 2649 (sponsored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago) which would prohibit any spouse or person related to the second degree of an incumbent elective official seeking re-election from holding or running for any elective office in the same province in the same election.

If such a bill had passed, more than half of the current crop of senate candidates would be disqualified. Such a law would also affect Jinkee Pacquiao, the wife of Sarangani Rep. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, who filed her papers to run for Vice-Governor of Sarangani Province when she accompanied her husband to the local office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) when he filed to run for reelection.

Among the rare exceptions in the dynast-ridden senate slates is former Akbayan party-list Rep. Rissa Baraquel-Hontiveros, an activist opposed to China’s annexation of the Scarborough Shoal, who, incredibly, is running on the same NUP slate as Sen. Trillanes, China’s “Manchurian candidate”, according to Senate President Enrile.

What is the difference between the senate slates of the administration and the opposition?

Aquino claims that his slate is composed of NUP allies who would ensure the passage of his legislative agenda. But the opposition’s secretary general, Rep. Tobias Tiangco, described his UNA senate slate as composed of candidates “whose support for the reform agenda of Aquino is beyond doubt.”

Politics is the art of compromise. The dysfunction in US politics is the gridlock-inducing lack of any willingness to compromise. The dysfunction in Philippine politics is the opportunistic prevalence of total compromise.

10-08-2012, 11:29 AM
By Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:27 pm | Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Whenever I am asked what provision of the current Constitution I think should be amended, I do not say that nothing there deserves to be amended. In fact, I would be the first to say that what we have now is by no means a perfect document. It is a work in progress and will continue to be such for as long as the Republic lasts. In a recent talking engagement, I was asked what three provisions of the Constitution I would like to see amended. I gave two answers and one of them was for a serious reassessment of where the party-list system has brought us. I was not surprised when that answer received applause. After all, it is widely publicized that the Commission on Elections is now in the process of cleaning up the system.

The original inspiration for the introduction of this novelty into the Constitution was a fairly widespread desire to give the underprivileged sectors of society the capacity to represent themselves in the affairs of the nation. The idea was generally accepted as valid, but the problem was how to put it into a workable formula that could produce the desired result. Nevertheless the Constitutional Commission went ahead to engraft it in the Constitution as an experiment. The experiment has been going on for 25 years now. That the Comelec is now engaged in a major cleanup campaign is proof that we have not yet solved that problem. Should we continue the experiment or end it?

The experiment started with two related concepts found in the Constitution itself: sectoral representation and party-list representation. The first phase was sectoral representation. “For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.” How were they to be chosen? “Until a law is passed, the president may fill by appointment from a list of nominees by the respective sectors, the seats reserved for sectoral representation . . .” Sectoral representation lasted for nine years. Thereafter the party-list system came into force.

Under the party-list system, disadvantaged groups would still organize by sectors. Next, they register themselves as parties, and present themselves to the electorate. Hence, during election time, every voter casts two votes: one for a district representative and one for a party-list organization. A citizen can vote for any party. At the end of the day, the Comelec tabulates the votes cast to determine how many votes each party or organization garnered.

In the earlier phase of the implementation of the system, only the party-list organizations which garnered at least 2 percent of the total votes cast for party lists could win a seat in Congress. Under this rule, while the party lists were entitled to 20 percent of the total seats in Congress, the 20 percent reserved for them mathematically could never be filled. Hence, the Supreme Court declared the 2-percent requirement as unconstitutional and the 20-percent share of party-list organizations as mandatory. Now, the Comelec keeps choosing qualifiers until 20 percent of the total seats in Congress are filled.

The system as described seems neat enough. But why are party-list aspirants being disqualified?

First, it is a known fact that elections cost money. The three-term grace period given to sectoral groups was meant to enable them to build up their resources in order for them to be capable of competing in the political arena. That was a tall order and I doubt that they succeeded in gathering enough political strength.

Second, left to struggle in weakness, they become easy prey to stronger political parties or wealthy individuals with goals of their own. This easily results in the bastardization of the system.

Third, as pronounced by the Court, participation in the party-list system is limited to the “marginalized and underprivileged” and the system is “a social justice tool designed not only to give more law to the great masses of our people who have less in life, but also to enable them to become veritable lawmakers themselves, empowered to participate directly in the enactment of laws designed to benefit them.” The Court laid down guidelines for the Comelec to apply in deciding which organizations qualify. Among the guidelines was the requirement that the parties or organizations must truly represent the marginalized and underrepresented sector. The Comelec now is finding that many aspiring organizations do not satisfy this requirement.

Moreover, the Court also ruled that party-list representatives themselves “must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors.” That is, they must have at heart the interest of the party they represent. The problem, however, is that possession of this ideological quality is not easily proved or disproved. How do you prove, for instance, that Mikey Arroyo has or does not have at heart the interest of the party he represents?

This is not to say that there are no leaders that have arisen from the ranks of party-list organizations. A few have. But does their number justify the continuation of the experiment?

Sam Miguel
10-09-2012, 09:31 AM
By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:38 pm | Monday, October 8th, 2012

Way back at the start of the last decade, there was this interesting commercial by PLDT. A young man, who is studying in Manila, calls up his father in his clinic in Iloilo and nervously says he has something to tell him, he hopes he will understand. The father asks if he has a problem. No, he answers, he just wants to shift to Fine Arts. But why?—his father expostulates. He figures he’s not cut out to be a doctor, he replies.

The father pauses for a while, then heaves a long sigh. Well, it’s your life, he says. Whatever you decide on, I’ll support you. “Suportahan taka”—that line became mildly famous in its time.

It became so because it struck a chord with its audience. And it did so because it was a familiar situation with them. That’s the situation of many parents, professionals most of all. They want their children, particularly the father with his oldest son, to follow in their footsteps, the better for them to inherit the practice—the clinic, the law firm, the engineering company. And they are devastated when that son, or indeed the brood itself, chooses to embark on quite another course in life.

The PLDT ad ended on a happy note. Life doesn’t.

I remembered this in the light of the ongoing debate about political dynasties, with many observers and candidates asking, “What’s so wrong about political dynasties?” In fact that is the wrong question. The right one is: What’s so strange about political dynasties?

We agree perfectly that it’s all right for parents who are doctors to want their children to be doctors too. For parents who are lawyers to want their kids to be lawyers too. We do not just agree with it, we extol it. Why shouldn’t we agree that congressmen and senators would want their kids to be like them, if not indeed president?

Unless of course you disagree with the premise, which I did when I wrote about the PLDT ad a long time ago. It’s all very well, I said, for the father to relent and promise to support his son whatever decision he takes. But why did he conscript him into becoming a doctor to begin with? Which is really how it goes with most of us, the kids really have no choice, we want them to become like us. In fact we want them to be clones of us. You see that in very Filipino habit, or fetish—it happens too in other countries but not to the extent it does here—of naming the male children after the father up to the V or VI. I don’t know that we’ve quite reached something comparable to a Louis XVII, but I do know some of us really push it.

All this is to say that the problem really lies in the culture itself. And what beats at the heart of that culture that sustains and nourishes dynasties is: the Family.

That is the one element, institution, justification, around which everything Filipino revolves.

Every time I hear the Filipino extolled for his deep family values—next only to his religious ones—I feel hugely ambivalent. That’s so because the family has been both the boon and bane of this country. At its best it’s heartwarming to see ordinary Filipinos breaking their backs to keep the family’s body and soul together, particularly the OFWs who get to do that only at the cost of breaking the family up, often permanently as when one of the spouses, or both, get to have other families from the enforced separation. At its worst, the family has also been one of the biggest obstacles to nationhood. Our fiercest loyalties do not go to nation, if we have them at all, they go to family, or its natural extensions: clan, tribe and village.

As Alfred McCoy posits in his book “An Anarchy of Families,” it’s really just a few families that account for this country’s wealth and power. Who have shaped its past, who are determining its present, who are charting its future.

You see that in families running corporations, with all their interlocking directorates. Marcos did not invent the concept, though he pushed it to mind-boggling extremes. Yet you do not see a law that forbids the children of the tycoons from holding positions in the same corporation their parents own and run. You see that in the various means that are employed to keep the wealth and power within families or system of families, not least of them marriages. Indeed not least of them marriages between not very distant relatives, which probably, and not completely facetiously, explains the cretinism of our elite.

If family ties run riot in this country, rule this country, define pretty much this country, how can you possibly rule them out in politics, particularly elections which beat even jueteng as this country’s favorite betting game?

The call to end dynasties has been there for a long time, which has succeeded only in having the same effect as bidding the waves hold still. The Constitutional Convention of 1971 was meant to be a particularly serious effort in that direction. But it did not augur well for that agenda that the Con-Con delegates themselves, despite the ban on people related to a certain degree of consanguinity to incumbent officials running, were part of the extended family system of those officials. They could be expected only—as Marcos did expect, and as the delegates showed themselves predisposed to—to favor not change but the status quo. Martial law in any case made all that academic: It didn’t just keep the status quo, it made life regress.

The lesson is simple: We want to stop dynasty, we need to change the culture and not the law. Culture will not yield to law, law will yield to culture. So long as the underside, or unsavory aspects, of Family continue to dominate our lives, so long will dynasty, political or otherwise, proliferate. Family does bind, which, true enough, is one of our strengths.

But it also puts us in one hell of a bind.

Sam Miguel
10-09-2012, 09:38 AM
^^^ Yet again we must ask how do we implement an anti-political dynasty law without disenfranchising people legally qualified to run for public office and who want to serve in government just because of their family connection? Are we to disqualify from running for senator say, a person who is an Ateneo Law School cum laude, bar topnotcher, human rights and labor lawyer and UN consultant if for instance his surname happens to be Ponce-Enrile or Aquino or Marcos or Pimentel or Lobregat or Singson?

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:21 AM
It is what you think

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:41 pm | Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

The most common line apparently used by men who are caught in bed with another woman by their wife or girlfriend is “It’s not what you think.” Some, though, have used more creative excuses. One said he was just sleeping when the two women he was in bed with suddenly fell from the ceiling. Dennis Rodman insisted to Carmen Electra there was never a girl with him, which had Electra wondering at some point whether she had actually seen one or not.

I thought about this in light of Juan Ponce Enrile’s breathtaking insistence that his 1972 ambush was completely real, and that he had never confessed that it was fake. It’s that of a man caught in bed with another woman saying exactly the things above. Nahuli na, deny to death pa.

That confession was attested to, as Inquirer Research’s fact-check pointed out last Monday, by, among others, Raymond Bonner who wrote “Waltzing With A Dictator,” Sandra Burton who wrote “Impossible Dream,” and Katherine Ellison who wrote “Imelda.” That is quite apart from the millions of Filipinos who heard Enrile saying it on radio. Either they are incorrigible liars, or Enrile is.

That is the best vantage point from which to judge the veracity of Enrile’s account of history. This falls, everything else falls.

Lest we inquire too closely into the details of the ambush and his subsequent confession, Enrile’s draws our attention away from it by arguing thus: “Whether I was ambushed or not, martial law in the country was already an irreversible fact.” Marcos had already made up his mind to declare it. Why did he need to fake an ambush at all?

In fact, says Enrile, Marcos was already contemplating martial law from Day One, as seen in his inauguration speech in December 1965. In that speech, Marcos “decried the prevalence of venality in government … and pledged to execute the law, preserve the Constitution, and, if need be, to direct ‘the forcible if legal elimination of all lawless elements.’… Many took for granted what he said. They did not bother to analyze it.”

What in God’s name is there to analyze? Everyone talked that way at the time, including Ninoy Aquino. They all decried the venality and inequality, warning shrilly about the “social volcano” that was about to explode unless something drastic, or radical, was done about it. That doesn’t mean they were contemplating martial law. That doesn’t mean Marcos himself was contemplating martial law.

You need not go far to find proof of it: Marcos ran for reelection in 1969. If he could have run for a third presidential term, he would have done so. In fact, he tried to turn the country from presidential to parliamentary to allow him to do so, this time as prime minister. He could not, which left him with martial law as the only option for staying on.

Marcos was never the brilliant strategist he and his generals portrayed him to be. He was just a talented political tactician who knew how to improvise.

Why did Enrile need to fake an ambush to trigger martial law? Precisely as a trigger. The one thing Marcos understood and Antonio Trillanes did not is that you don’t just mount a coup attempt without preparing the public psychologically for it. Lest we forget, which Enrile bids us do, martial law wasn’t just ushered in by his ambush, it was ushered in by a rash of bombings across Greater Manila, which Marcos attributed to the communists but which everybody knew was being done by the military. Enrile’s ambush would be the final straw.

Frankly, I don’t know why he chose to embark on this deny-to-death tack. When he could very easily have said, yes, he did fake his ambush, yes, he did confess to it, but he had a change of heart as martial law wore on, and he ended up fighting the very oppression he helped put up by way of atonement. All of which might have made him look like Paul on the way to Damascus stricken by light and turning his back on a sinful past to embrace a saintly future.

He did not. The only explanation for it is not that he is in legacy mode but that he is in pragmatic mode, the way he was when he, or Marcos, or both, faked that ambush. His attempt to absolve himself from blame from start to finish is meant to foist his son, Jackie, on us as a senator. The fellow has nothing to commend himself to the voters, he has only the reputation of his father for it.

But which is really the sublime irony of this. Because Jackie is the very refutation of his father’s claims that he was the biggest victim, and not the second biggest beneficiary, of martial law. Jackie’s notoriety is well known to the generation of Filipinos who lived through martial law and hasn’t completely forgotten it. Well up to the early 1980s, his name invoked fear and anger among a populace that had heard of his run-ins with people who displeased him, not least Bongbong Marcos. Marcos considers you a pariah and your son can afford to act this way?

Of course the public didn’t get to know about it through the newspapers of the time, which were as much a source of truth as Enrile’s book is, the kind that had for headline someone struck by lightning the morning after Ninoy was buried. They got it from the same rumor-mongering, which was banned under pain of jail, that said Ninoy’s funeral drew a million people to it.

Unless you are hallucinatory or possessed of blurry vision that you can actually mistake a pillow for a woman, you see your spouse in bed with another partner, you can be sure the partner did not fall from the ceiling and that he/she really was there. Unless you are drugged or cannot trust your senses, you can be sure that when someone suffers an improbable ambush and confesses later that it was self-induced, that it was an improbable ambush and that it was faked.

You can be sure that it is exactly what you think.

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:28 AM
Early voting for media members in 2013 polls

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:49 am | Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

For the time in history, over 200,000 members of the media in the country will be able to cast their votes early in the upcoming 2013 elections.

Voting 5-1, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday granted a petition filed by media practitioners to accord them the same voting privileges enjoyed by soldiers, policemen and other government officers and employees performing election duties under the local absentee voting.

The petition, filed by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal in behalf of journalists and broadcasters, underscored that disenfranchisement among media members was a recurring problem since majority of them were being assigned to areas where they are not registered voters on the day of the election.

Macalintal said that by granting the petition, more than 200,000 members of the print, radio and television outfits will be able to exercise their right to suffrage. He noted that this was a significant number in determining the results of the midterm elections next year.

In a 16-page resolution penned by Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, the Comelec directed the election body’s Committee on Local Absentee Voting to draft the implementation rules and regulations (IRR) that will govern the early media voting.

The petition, which was filed before the Comelec in April, only covered voting for national posts.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday said the election body may have to designate an area, probably the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, where media practitioners can cast their ballots manually ahead of election day.

“Most likely, it will be held here so we can easily secure your ballots, which will only be opened on election day,” said Brillantes in an interview with reporters Tuesday following the promulgation of the decision.

As to the schedule of the early voting, it will have to be decided upon by the committee after it has come up with the IRR, said Brillantes.

“We have to work out the rules on how this will work but more or less it will be similar to the local absentee voting,” said the poll chief.

Citing data from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the media petition said there was a total of 2,319 media outfits in the Philippines. Of this number, 800 are print publications while 297, television stations; 659 FM radio stations and 383 AM radio stations.

Among those who manifested their support for the petition were: Mike Enriquez of GMA Network; Rey Langit, KBP vice president, and Benny Antiporda and Marlon Purificacion of the National Press Club.

“From the affidavits of these media personalities about a hundred media men from each outfit are in danger of being disenfranchised on election day because of the nature of their job. This means a total of 213,900 qualified voters in danger of being disenfranchised unless the Comelec immediately act on the petition,” argued Macalintal in the petition.

Only Election Commissioner Christian Robert Lim disagreed with the en banc decision, stressing that allowing early voting among the media constituted an “impermissible usurpation” of the legislative power of the House of Representatives.

In an eight-page dissenting opinion, Lim also said the Comelec does not have the authority to allow early media voting since the law governing local absentee voting specifically identified to whom it applies, particularly to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

But the en banc ruled that the Comelec, as the “country’s sole vanguard in enforcing and administering the constitutional right of suffrage of its citizens, saw “no wrong in granting the petition of the members of the media to exercise this right.”

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:29 AM
Comelec poised to delist 6 more party-list groups

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:46 am | Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

At least six “popular” party-list groups currently sitting in Congress can kiss next year’s elections good-bye.

Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday said the poll agency was ready to issue a formal resolution delisting several party-list groups that had failed to meet the standards set by law.

“There will be party-list groups with incumbent congressmen that will be axed for the 2013 elections,” Brillantes told reporters in an interview. “We will not allow them to join next year … There are six of these groups that have [nominees] sitting in Congress.”

He refused to identify the groups, however, until the Comelec finalizes the resolution

—which is expected to be issued today after all the commissioners sign the document.

Brillantes hinted the six groups—of the 35 party-list organizations getting the Comelec boot—were “well-known.”

The groups’ nominees will be allowed to complete their terms until June 30, 2013, but their parties will not be allowed to run in next May’s elections.

These groups “should not have been accredited in the first place,” he said.

“They don’t qualify,” and they have also failed to comply with the law to continue existing as party-list organizations, he added.

For the first time since the introduction of the party-list system in the country in 1995, the Comelec is reevaluating old and new party-list groups and screening their nominees in accordance with the law.

Under Republic Act No. 7941—the Party-list System Act—only 12 marginalized and underrepresented sectors of society can seek congressional representation.

These are the labor, peasant, fisher folk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals sectors.

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:31 AM
Poll watchdog wants Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo’s group ousted

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

6:06 am | Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—An election watchdog is seeking the disqualification of Ang Galing Pinoy (AG), the party-list group represented in Congress by Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as an accredited organization that may run in the 2013 elections.

Kontra Daya on Tuesday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to annul the registration of the party-list group, calling it “a classic case of a party-list for sale.”

“A careful review of its establishment, the changes it underwent through the years and the lack of a track record of the organization and its nominees would reveal that Ang Galing Pinoy is not a legitimate party-list which represents marginalized and underrepresented sectors but is used only as a tool of the Arroyos and their political allies to remain in power,” the Kontra Daya petition read.

Kontra Daya said it would also be filing soon separate petitions for the disqualification of several party-list groups with allegedly questionable nominees.

The petition filed yesterday challenging anew the legitimacy of Ang Galing Pinoy also questioned its set of nominees for next year’s elections—Charlie Chua and Eder Dizon.

Kontra Daya noted that Chua was a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Lubao, Pampanga, and was a senior partner at the Chua and Munsayac law firm. It said Chua was the “right-hand man” of Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda.

Dizon was identified as a cosmetic surgeon, a Pampanga-based businessman who is president and owner of Suncove Corp., supposedly a franchise holder of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s small town lottery.

“The guideline expressly requires that the nominee must belong to the marginalized sector such as the security guards and drivers in this case. However, none of AG’s nominees qualify under these standards,” said Kontra Daya.

Sam Miguel
10-10-2012, 08:35 AM
Group slams ‘scandalous’ political dynasties

5:32 am | Thursday, October 4th, 2012

A civil society group on Wednesday slammed the “blatant” expansion of political dynasties in the country.

Noting the number of sons, daughters, wives, cousins and other relatives of entrenched politicians in the lineups for next year’s midterm polls, the Quezon City-based Center for People Power Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg) said this did not augur well for democracy.

CenPeg criticized the senatorial slates formed by the ruling Liberal Party and its rival United Nationalist Alliance. It particularly referred to the Cayetano, Enrile, Estrada and Magsaysay families who each might have two representatives in the Senate.

“Definitely alarming today is the entrenchment of the system of political dynasties on a higher and more blatant scale, making the fair representation of the large majority of Filipinos even more elusive.”

CenPeg criticized the senatorial slates formed by the ruling Liberal Party and its rival United Nationalist Alliance. It particularly referred to the Cayetano, Enrile, Estrada and Magsaysay families who each might have two representatives in the Senate. Add to this the relatives of President Benigno Aquino—a young cousin and an aunt.

“What is definitely emerging as a scandalous reality is that political dynasties are more blatant and active today.”

CenPeg warned that the people are more and more aware of ills brought by political dynasties and are slowly expressing their distaste towards the system.

“The current national and media uproar against the blatant and ostentatious display of oligarchic power should lead to positive and constructive steps toward people empowerment,” the group said.

Patron-client relationships and the corporate interests of politicians in Congress will also reflect in the type of laws that would be passed.

“Expect the present and future congresses to enact more laws that will favor the oligarchs and corporate elite,” CenPeg said.

A government that is dominated by oligarchs, the group added, will not equalize opportunities for growth and development among the vast majority of people, the group continued.

“Conditions to form ‘more of the same’ are more encouraging than ever under the administration of Mr. Aquino, himself a benefactor of this culture of political patronage,” the group added.

The center said self-preservation and expansion of political dynasties in the Senate is also being replicated in the House of Representatives and in the various local government units (LGUs).

It does not help that in a rare chance that a nontraditional politician wins an election, he or she begins to create a new dynasty, CenPeg lamented.

“The concentration, expansion, and consolidation of political dynasties over the past 100 years attest to the continuing hegemony of feudal politics, the absence of any form of real democracy, and the continued powerlessness of a vast marginalized majority in the Philippines, the group said.

10-11-2012, 08:56 AM
Ako Bicol, 12 other party-list groups axed

Comelec to disqualify 40 more party-listers

By Gil C. Cabacungan, Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:03 am | Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Cracking down on sham organizations seeking congressional seats, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday dropped Ako Bicol and 12 other party-list groups from the 2013 midterm balloting.

In a six-page resolution, the Comelec en banc ruled that Ako Bicol, the topnotcher in the 2010 party-list race, could not participate in next year’s elections for failure to pass strict scrutiny “through the lens” of existing laws and jurisprudence governing the party-list system.

“Ako Bicol does not represent or seek to uplift a marginalized and underrepresented sector within the contemplation of the party-list system,” the Comelec stated.

The decision against these organizations will be promulgated Thursday, said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., adding that the commission was looking at a total of 30 to 40 groups, which will lose their accreditation in the upcoming elections. More than 120 party-list groups have applied for renewal of their accreditation.

The delisting of these groups was part of the ongoing efforts of the Comelec to cleanse the party-list system, which over time has been dominated by sham organizations or by groups whose nominees are either multimillionaires, former government officials or members of powerful political clans.

Ako Bicol party-list representatives said they would challenge the Comelec decision in the Supreme Court.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) upheld his group’s accreditation twice—before the 2010 balloting and after it won when several groups disputed the election of three Ako Bicol representatives.

Garbin noted that four of the incumbent Comelec commissioners—Rene Sarmiento, Elias Yusoph, Lucenito Tagle and Armando Velasco—had voted in favor of the group.

“We are deeply saddened by the Comelec decision. It’s not only disheartening for the three representatives of Ako Bicol but especially for the 1.525 million voters who voted for Ako Bicol, more than 1.1 million from the Bicol region,” Garbin said.

The Comelec pointed out Ako Bicol’s expressed objective was to uplift and represent Bicolanos, who already are well represented in Congress.

“If this commission were to allow Ako Bicol’s continued participation in the party-list system, this commission is condoning the continued and blatant violation of the proportional representation of ‘provinces, cities and Metropolitan Manila in accordance with the number of their inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform ad progressive ratio,’” the Comelec said.

Others disqualified

Brillantes announced that the poll body had also decided to cancel the registrations of 12 other party-list groups, most of which ran in the 2010 elections but failed to win congressional seats.

They were 1-Aani, 1-Bro Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc., 1Guardians Nationalist of the Philippines Inc. (or 1Ganap/Guardians), First People’s Initiative for Indigent Student Athletes, A Blessed Party-list, Alliance for National Urban Poor Organizations Assembly Inc., Alliance for Rural Concerns, Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership, Atong Paglaum, Organization of Regional Advocates for Good Governance Onward Nation-Building, United Movement Against Drug Foundation Inc., and Yes We Can.

These groups supposedly represent farmers, former military men advocating peace and justice, anti-illegal drugs advocates, urban poor groups, among others.

The 1-Bro Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc. lists on its website Sen. Gregorio Honasan as its national chairman and president. Yes We Can named Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid’s son Maynard as its first nominee in the 2010 elections.

Accreditation as political party

Under the Party-list System Act, only 12 marginalized and underrepresented sectors can seek congressional representation: labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals.

In its ruling Wednesday, the Comelec said that while it was denying Ako Bicol, which had three representatives sitting in Congress, participation in the May 13 elections, its accreditation as a political party under the Comelec Rules of Procedure was being retained.

The entire commission voted for the disqualification of Ako Bicol to run in the 2013 elections. Newly appointed Commissioner Grace Padaca took no part in the decision since the deliberations were carried out prior to her appointment.

“The strongest point [in denying them to run in the elections] is that they are a duly accredited political party but they are trying to run in the party-list without representing any particular sector,” Brillantes told reporters.

He said the group, which garnered 1.522 million votes in the 2010 party-list derby, also did not file any special petition to run in the midterm elections next year as a political party.

Brillantes said the commissioners came out with the decision on the Ako Bicol case early to give the party an opportunity to contest the ruling in the Supreme Court.

“We want the Supreme Court to actually pass upon the validity of our resolution disallowing them to participate from the 2013 elections,” he said.

“Despite the fact that they received the highest vote in 2010 and they have three congressmen currently in Congress, we want the Supreme Court to rule on it and I hope Ako Bicol will take the necessary step,” he said, noting that the Comelec ruling was already final and no longer subject for reconsideration.

10-11-2012, 08:57 AM
^ (Continued)

Professionals, businessmen

Ako Bicol is currently represented in Congress by Garbin, Christopher Co and Rodel Batocabe.

Brillantes said the three may complete their term until June 30 next year but they would be barred from running in the 2013 polls as party-list nominees.

Co, a businessman, has been listed by poll watchdog Kontra Daya as one of the wealthiest party-list lawmakers with a net worth of P91.063 million based on his 2011 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

In its ruling, the Comelec also took note of the profession of its other nominees. Both Batocabe and Garbin are lawyers, the Comelec pointed out.

The group also listed Jack Gonzales Arroyo Jr., an ophthalmologist, and Mark Louie Gomez, a lawyer, as the fourth and the fifth nominees, respectively, for the upcoming elections.

“As to how lawyers, businessmen and ophthalmologists are marginalized and underrepresented is not shown by Ako Bicol and its nominees,” the resolution stated.

The Comelec said the decision against Ako Bicol hinged on Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-list System Act, the eight-point guidelines enumerated in the Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case in 2003 and the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Ang Ladlad in 2010.

In the Ang Bagong Bayani case, the Supreme Court issued guidelines ensuring that only those who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors can run for party-list seats in Congress.

Unfairly singled out

Garbin pointed out that records would show Ako Bicol had worked for marginalized and underrepresented sectors in the last three years.

He noted that his political party was unfairly singled out because there were other party-list groups with virtually the same status and the same kind of representatives as Ako Bicol.

Garbin said the groups seeking Ako Bicol’s ouster were jealous of the massive support for the group because it directly affected their chances of landing seats in the House.

“I am a lawyer and I believe that other party-list groups are represented by lawyers. So why are we being singled out?” Garbin said.

He refused to comment on whether the Comelec was targeting groups allied with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, specifically businessman Zaldy Co, a member of Ako Bicol and a major government contractor during the previous and current administrations.

He said Ako Bicol was considering taking other actions against the Comelec, including the possibility of impeaching the Comelec officers as suggested by House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.

“A party-list group can file an impeachment case if they feel they are being singled out. At the end of the day, it’s the electorate who will decide whether they want their organization to be represented in the House or not,” Suarez said.

Salceda dismayed

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said he was “dismayed” by the Comelec decision.

“The Bicol region is the fourth poorest region in terms of percentage at 41 percent but has the highest number of poor families. The geographic persistence of poverty in Region V can only be structural in character and, thus, could only be resolved by structural remedies—one of which is greater representation in Congress,” Salceda said.

“While it may argue that Ako Bicol is not the only group that could provide such representation, nonetheless, it is one of the more politically viable vehicles especially considering this late stage of electoral process. Since Comelec has based its decision (quite apparently) on the qualifications of AKB nominees, then what it could have done is to keep disqualifying the nominees of Ako Bicol until such time that they meet Comelec criteria, thus properly qualified to represent the poor people of Bicolandia,” Salceda said.

Sham organizations

In a separate concurring opinion, Election Commissioner Christian Robert Lim noted that based on its constitution, Ako Bicol appeared to be devoted to the concerns of the local governments in the Bicol Region.

“In other words, Ako Bicol’s nominees seek to represent not the concern of a specific marginalized sector but the general concern of a predetermined local government units,” Lim said, adding that the group’s nominees, if elected, would assume the character of regular district—not sectoral—representatives. “This setup erodes the very purpose and reason behind the party-list system.”

10-11-2012, 08:58 AM
Groups seek Supreme Court help vs political dynasties

By Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:19 am | Thursday, October 11th, 2012

At least eight senatorial candidates are related to incumbent officials. In the House of Representatives and in local governments, political families are fielding wives, husbands and children—an age-old practice much criticized but still prevalent in every election cycle.

Hoping to put a stop to this family-type enterprise in the country’s elections, a multisectoral group led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, former party-list House member Satur Ocampo and civil society leaders plan to seek a Supreme Court opinion on the rise of political dynasties.

The antipolitical dynasty movement, as it is informally called, will file a petition before the high tribunal next week to seek a clarification on the constitutional provision prohibiting dynasties in the political system.

“We agreed that we will file a petition with the Supreme Court for them (justices) to clarify… because they are bound to interpret what is in the Constitution—Article 2, Section 26, the prohibition of political dynasties,” said Dante Jimenez, the founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

He said the group was moved to act “because [you] can’t count on Congress, they don’t want to pass an enabling law”.

Article 2, Section 26 of the Constitution states that “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

Despite the 25-year-old constitutional provision, however, Congress has yet to enact a law to enforce it.

Jimenez said Guingona proposed such a bill in 1987. While the bill but received a majority vote in Senate, it was defeated in the House.

Bobby Tuazon, a political analyst from the Center for People Empowerment, said the past few years have seen a rise in political families. In the current Senate, up to 20 senators belong to political families while in the House, the number could be from 180 to 200.

“For the past 100 years, from the Philippine Assembly to Congress, there has been no significant national legislation responsive to the social and economic rights of the ordinary Filipinos,” said Tuazon, a resource person for the movement.

10-11-2012, 09:49 AM
Erap: Let people decide on dynasties

By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 11, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Joseph Estrada urged yesterday the critics of so-called political dynasties to allow the people to decide.

Estrada said voters judge a candidate not by name, but by the performance of his or her parents or siblings who have served the government.

“The people are the final judge. The father is a performer. As long as they are doing their job and they will do their job well and they are not using guns, goons and gold or the so-called three Gs, then let the people decide,” Estrada said when asked to react on the anti-political dynasty measure.

Estrada, who is running for mayor of Manila, is the father of Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, whose eldest daughter Janella, 22, is running for councilor of San Juan.

Aside from Jinggoy and Janella, the other Ejercito-Estrada clan members who have joined him in the political arena include his son San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito-Estrada who is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and JV’s mother Guia Gomez who is running for a second term as mayor of San Juan.

San Juan Councilor Jana Ejercito, who is a daughter of Estrada’s brother movie director and producer Jesse Ejercito, is running as congresswoman of San Juan.

Estrada’s nephew ER Ejercito, son of Estrada’s late brother George Estregan, is a re-electionist governor of Laguna, while his wife Maita is running for mayor of Pagsanjan, Laguna.

ER’s brother Gary Estrada is running as provincial board member of Quezon while his brother Gerald is also running for provincial board member of Laguna.

“Surname alone does not assure victory. The son of Mayor (Rodito) Ibuna, the one I replaced as mayor, ran but lost in the elections in San Juan. Meaning those who belong to a political clan are not assured of winning unless their parents, siblings or relatives have done a good job in their elective positions,” the former president said.

Estrada had served as mayor of San Juan for 17 years before he became a senator, vice president and president, winning by an overwhelming margin against his closest rival, then Speaker Jose de Venecia, in the 1998 presidential elections. – Sandy Araneta

10-11-2012, 09:51 AM
New political group endorses Bam, Chiz, Koko

By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 11, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A new political group calling itself the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDPP) has endorsed the senatorial bid of presidential cousin Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino.

Aquino, who was flattered by the endorsement, is running under the banner of the Liberal Party-led coalition.

The new political party also adopted two other members of the administration team, Senators Francis Escudero and Aquilino Pimentel III, as its guest candidates.

Aquino likened the new party to the anti-Marcos protest during martial law, which he said started small but eventually snowballed to become the 1986 EDSA Revolution that ended the dictatorship.

“I am sure you will soon become a big political party,” he told the new political group, which is only less than a month old, having registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) only last Sept. 12.

CDPP elected Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez as its president and former local government undersecretary Lito Lorenzana as chairman. Among its national council members is former University of the Philippines president Jose Abueva.

“We have 74 candidates for various positions and three guest senatorial candidates. We already have 9, 600 members. That’s a good start, considering that we are a very young political party,” Rodriguez said, adding there are a lot of things that distinguish them from other political groups.

“We are a year-round political party, conducting orientation seminars and leadership training among our members and recruits. We are the only party whose members pay annual dues of P1,000 each. We espouse a centrist democratic ideology,” he said.

10-11-2012, 09:55 AM
EDITORIAL - Purged from the list

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 11, 2012 12:00 AM

This is where your taxes go… to party-list congressmen supposedly representing a marginalized sector, whose declared net worth last year was no lower than P9 million each. The marginalized sector the congressmen are representing is Bicol – therefore the name of the party-list organization, Ako Bicol.

But doesn’t the region have regular congressmen representing all the districts in every Bicol province? That’s ample representation in the legislature, and there is an ongoing effort to carve out yet another congressional district in Camarines Sur. What should stop others from forming their own organizations and seeking party-list accreditation to represent other regions such as Southern Tagalog, for example, or Northern Mindanao?

And yet this didn’t stop the Commission on Elections from accrediting Ako Bicol for the party-list race in 2010. The group garnered the highest number of votes for the party-list – 1,524,006 – qualifying the group for three seats in the House of Representatives. The seats are occupied by lawyers Alfredo Garbin and Rodel Batocabe and businessman Zaldy Co. Last year the three declared their net worth at P9.7 million, P30.2 million and P90.1 million, respectively.

For the elections next year, the Comelec has disqualified Ako Bicol from the party-list race, but has allowed its three representatives to finish their term. The Comelec deserves commendation for its effort to put an end to the mockery of the party-list system, but why spend public funds for nearly nine more months of upkeep for disqualified representatives? And why did the Comelec add two more party-list representatives yesterday, one of them a member of a prominent political clan whose group claims to represent small businessmen?

Ako Bicol is reportedly planning to take its case to the Supreme Court. The tribunal should not be a party to the perpetuation of this farce.

The Comelec must not stop here; there are several other party-list organizations that in reality are just adjuncts of major political parties and even religious groups. Several of these party-list organizations are allied with the administration. These organizations cannot legitimately claim to represent marginalized sectors and should have been disqualified by the Comelec from the start. They have turned the party-list system into a disgraceful experiment that should be ended. There are better uses for public funds.

Sam Miguel
10-18-2012, 09:29 AM
Crumbs from the master’s table

By Randy David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:11 pm | Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The Commission on Elections has embarked on the unenviable task of cleansing the party-list system by weeding out groups that do not measure up to its understanding of what it means to represent a “marginalized” and “underrepresented” sector. This is a job that has long been waiting to be done; tackling it is far from easy. Every decision the Comelec promulgates canceling the accreditation of an existing party-list group is sure to be challenged at the Supreme Court, if not in the streets.

The complexity of the problem arises from the fact that the words “marginalized” and “underrepresented” that lie at the core of this controversy were originally used in the context of political rhetoric. Rhetoric aims to persuade, not clarify. No one bothered to specify the meanings of these terms when they were imported into the legal system. Their ambiguity will continue to haunt us. We cannot ignore the questions they pose to our self-understanding as a political community.

If the original intention is to build an inclusive political order by finding a way to represent sectors at the margins of the nation’s political life, can the party-list system be other than temporary? If the marginalized are to be permanently represented by one-fifth of the members of Congress, are we not then in effect acknowledging that the remaining four-fifths are there to represent the elites? Shouldn’t the long-term solution to political inequality be to restructure the entire political system, instead of creating sinecures for the weak?

On the other hand, wouldn’t the Comelec be more faithful to the spirit of the Constitution if, instead of bearing down on party-list groups, it started disqualifying candidates who have no visible qualifications other than their privileged affiliation to political dynasties? After all, the concept of marginalization or underrepresentation is no less vaguely defined by law than the concept of political dynasty.

But, perhaps more to the point, it is worth asking if the party-list system has evolved into anything more than the concession it was meant to be—a gesture aimed at pacifying discontent and legitimizing a political order run by the property-owning elite. That the political elites have not hesitated to help themselves to the party-list positions originally reserved for the underprivileged only seems to further attest to the emptiness of its promise as a mechanism of representation. But, what particularly worries me, as one who participated in the formative years of Akbayan, is what the party-list system may have done to the ranks of political progressives.

The ruling class of this country must feel amused to see Akbayan and Anakbayan, who represent two strands of the Philippine Left, fight over the crumbs that have fallen from the dining table of the powerful—instead of joining forces to attack the shameless way in which the latter cling to power. Not too long ago, the larger movements from which they sprang fired the imagination of a generation of Filipinos with their respective visions of an alternative socialist order. One sought to reform the existing political order by making full use of the open spaces carved by civil society, and partly by electoral participation. The other chose the path of armed struggle, and blended it with limited parliamentary engagement. It seemed clear to both at the time that winning elections under a flawed system could never be the primary goal of progressive politics.

Do they now seriously think that the party-list positions they occupy represent the fundamental realization of their historic struggles? I’m certain that their answer is no. And yet when one considers what the terrain of progressive work has been like since the Left entered party-list politics, one cannot help but ask how much in terms of ideologically-oriented organizing and advocacy has been given up in exchange for so little.

It took a while for the national democratic movement to come to a decision to join the party-list elections. Akbayan, in contrast, participated in the very first elections for party-list representatives, and managed to win a seat. The dominant system was, in the beginning, not exactly keen to accommodate new participants who had previously shunned electoral politics. But this initial reluctance was soon overcome. Etta Rosales, Akbayan’s first representative, showed how progressive ideas could be injected into a chamber dominated by traditional politicians without endangering the system. Today, with more leftists joining Congress via the party-list system and becoming part of mainstream coalitions, the question is bound to arise: Are they still marginalized?

More precisely, shouldn’t political groups that have had the chance to wield power be competing for regular positions, instead of vying for the few places reserved for the marginalized? Some note that it may not have been a bad idea if the law had provided for term limits that would prohibit party-list groups that have served three successive terms from seeking reelection. Of course, had there been such limits, nothing would have stopped these groups from mobilizing the same forces under new names—in a variation of revolving chairs reminiscent of political clans.

The purging of fake party-list groups that do not represent anything but the same entrenched family interests is definitely a step in the right direction. But it is not certain how far the Comelec can go in questioning the accreditation of the ideological party-list groups without appearing to drive them back to the terrain of unconventional politics.

Sam Miguel
10-18-2012, 09:47 AM
^^^ Party List groups are essentially special interest groups aren't they? Let's not quibble over words. "Marginalized" to you is "special interest" to me. And there is a reason why special interest groups do not bode well for a healthy democracy, sicne they are in essence trying to impose the whims and caprices of a narrow minority group with their own group-specific interests upon society in general. If Etta Rosales and Walden Bello and even that screaming Anakbayan man-harpie really believe they can win an election then why not challenge whoever their sitting Congressman is in their respective districts. Who exactly is that damn fool man-harpie claiming to represent anyway? It certainly isn't me. I daresay it isn't even any of the people I know or work with or work for. All I saw in that Akbayan-Anakbayan confrontation yesterday was a bunch of Leftist nitwits trying to outshout each other. And all of the shouting I heard was the exact same thing they've been shouting since there have been Communists on this Earth. So tell me again who exactly is the underrepresented sector they represent?

Sam Miguel
10-18-2012, 09:53 AM

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:12 pm | Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The ordinary citizen may be forgiven for thinking that the country’s hospitals serve a secondary, nonmedical purpose: as temporary (but better-appointed) detention centers for the rich and powerful. Recent history is filled with many examples of well-connected or deep-pocketed criminal suspects developing medical maladies of a sudden. In that sense, the continuing saga of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo follows a very Filipino pattern. But if Arroyo is truly ill, why is she running for Congress a second time?

Yesterday, the Sandiganbayan allowed Arroyo, the chief defendant in the P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office plunder case, to enjoy the privilege of hospital arrest. (The antigraft court could hardly rule otherwise, having allowed deposed President Joseph Estrada the same privilege while Arroyo was in Malacańang.) The court imposed five conditions before allowing Arroyo to be detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, including entrusting the Philippine National Police with full control over all visiting rights.

The fifth condition stipulated that Arroyo will shoulder all medical and hospital costs related to her detention. This seems just right—after all, why should the state pay for the additional costs that the accused incurs?—but it is precisely the loophole, or the bureaucratic door left ever so slightly open, that allows the moneyed and the powerful to avoid jail. If you can afford it, you can choose a hospital suite over a squalid detention center anytime.

To be sure, we cannot discount the real possibility that Arroyo is very ill. Last Monday, on the same day the peace panels of the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a framework agreement in Malacańang, Arroyo failed to attend the scheduled arraignment for the plunder case. (This is not the first time her medical troubles hit the headlines on a heavy news day; last year, she was rushed to the hospital on the day President Aquino delivered his second State of the Nation Address.) Earlier this week she was said to be suffering from ischemia; the director of the VMMC, Dr. Nona Legaspi, told the Inquirer that Arroyo’s cardiologist had informed PNP doctors that “it would be risky for her to attend without having the stress echo test.”

We also recall that she underwent three surgeries last year, including a five-hour-long operation on her spine. (That explains the neck braces she wears.) She has also suffered from other ailments, such as shingles.

It may be the case that her physical condition deteriorated after she left office on June 30, 2010—if an ordinary person feels drained after a rush of adrenaline, a person at the pinnacle of Philippine politics may feel drained and weak and vulnerable to all sorts of ailments after the adrenaline of power is gone. Or it may be the case that she is merely faking it. There are many Filipinos who believe that this is all an act, designed to attract the people’s sympathy. The online guessing game about the photographs purportedly showing her walking without her neck brace, only for her to put it back on after onlookers are spotted, is only one proof of public skepticism.

But let us for argument’s sake say that she is in fact quite ill. Isn’t it mystifying that she would continue to consider herself physically fit for legislative work? How can she hope to discharge her functions faithfully? What does serving as a legislator even mean, when the lawmaker spends her time in the hospital, consumed by medical and legal problems?

Arroyo, however, is merely being the typical Filipino politician: Either she sees the position she was elected to and seeks reelection for to be a part-time job, or she sees it as serving her personal interests.

Only someone who can justify public service as a part-time occupation can possibly rationalize an almost complete absence from Congress, with no opportunity (or inclination) to make one’s self heard in the most contentious legislative issues of the day. And only someone who sees the position as providing legal relief for one’s self can possibly justify wasting her constituents’ right to faithful and responsible service for another three years.

Running for reelection? This wouldn’t be the first time Arroyo puts private ahead of public interest.

Sam Miguel
10-19-2012, 08:51 AM
Party-list system’s dirty secret

By Oscar Franklin Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:49 pm | Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes is politics’ most feared janitor, thanks to his unprecedented party-list scouring to eject millionaires and alleged political dummies from a system designed to empower the marginalized. The scouring, however, finally exposes the confusion and schizophrenia inherent in the system’s design.

Everyone believes the cleanup is long overdue. First on the chopping block was Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Mikey Arroyo, a son of an ex-president who became a representative of marginalized security guards. He did not even contest his party’s delisting. Previously, actor Richard Gomez presented himself as nominee for Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga. Was he representing marginalized drug addicts? The son of El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde represents perennial powerhouse Buhay and a constituency of marginalized prolife advocates. These curious examples only punctuate the possible list of marginalized millionaires.

The scouring took a curious turn, however, after leftist groups asked the Comelec to delist Akbayan, another perennial powerhouse. With the greatest of irony, its Rep. Walden Bello found himself on the other side of a press conference that was raucously interrupted by rival Anakbayan. Such rivals argue that a party-list group cited by the President as part of the administration coalition, that is fielding Risa Hontiveros as a Senate candidate, and whose members have been appointed to key positions in the government, is no longer marginalized and underrepresented (note that this claim refers to the party, not its constituency).

It is time to disclose constitutional law’s dirty secret: The party-list system was not intended solely for marginalized sectors. It was also intended to empower smaller political parties regardless of sector, particularly those with a substantial following not concentrated in a single district. Constitutional Commissioner Christian Monsod, for example, argued that any group that can muster 500,000 members deserves a House seat. This would allow ideology-based parties such as an environmental party or regional parties for Bicolanos and Warays too weak to contest district seats. Under this vision, those who believe that cyberlibel was invented only in 2012, after Sen. Tito Sotto amended the cybercrime bill, may form a free speech party to amend the law themselves.

This second goal explains why the Constitution created “a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.” The word “marginalized” is missing. “National” and “regional” refer to smaller political parties while “sectoral” refers to the marginalized sectors now familiar to us. The Party-List Act refers to “Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies.”

Then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, however, held in a judicial tour de force that the party-list system is solely intended for the marginalized, and the “national” and “regional” parties must be national and regional parties for the marginalized. He wrote: “The law crafted to address the peculiar disadvantages of Payatas hovel dwellers cannot be appropriated by the mansion owners of Forbes Park.” He also added that party-list nominees must be from the sector they represent. Chief Justice Panganiban’s formulation in the Ang Bagong Bayani case has gained universal acceptance, especially in the Comelec.

Akbayan is a model party-list group, not a bogus one, in the context of the lesser known policy goal of empowering smaller political parties championed by constitution drafters such as Monsod and Fr. Joaquin Bernas. There is no doubt that both the party and its individual nominees have unassailable track records representing the marginalized of various stripes. Beyond Ang Bagong Bayani’s requirements, Akbayan has an unmistakable party identity that transcends its increasingly prominent members and has successfully entered mainstream political debate.

Finally, the constitutional commissioners anticipated that small parties would ally with large ones. In the German system that the likes of Monsod referred to, such alliances split votes between a district candidate and a party-list, given there are two votes as in our system. Such alliances are the very fabric of politics and do not mean a party-list group is an administration front group.

Brillantes has taken on the herculean task of objectively enforcing the Constitution’s subjective goals. It is to his great credit that the public supports the purge. One hopes, however, that the Comelec treads carefully after the most obvious cases of abuse, given how someone like Walden Bello now finds himself on the same chopping block as Mikey Arroyo.

House representation for the marginalized has developed far more slowly than the Constitution’s drafters anticipated. The system clearly needs room to evolve given how subjective it is. In contrast to Mikey Arroyo, Bam Aquino can represent peasants despite his being the President’s cousin, given his long track record in social entrepreneurship. Billionaire Jaime Zobel de Ayala can represent veterans, having chaired the Hero Foundation for two decades. Abuses in the party-list system will not end until the electorate itself becomes conscious of what the bounds are, and tradition makes it unnecessary for the Comelec to conduct periodic scouring.

Oscar Franklin Tan (oscarfranklin.tan@yahoo.com.ph) received the first Justice Vicente V. Mendoza legal writing prize for party-list system research [The Party-List System Revisited, 82(3) PHIL. L.J. 181 (2008 ), begun in 2002 as a freshman intern under UP Law Institute of Human Rights Director Ibarra Gutierrez].

Sam Miguel
10-19-2012, 08:54 AM
Comelec hears out ‘Kris hubby,’ 25 other oddballs

1:23 am | Friday, October 19th, 2012

“Aren’t you happy with Senator Lapid?”

Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. asked this on Thursday while humoring one of 26 Senate hopefuls grilled by the Comelec en banc to determine if they were nuisance candidates or not.

From a self-proclaimed husband of popular TV host Kris Aquino to a war veteran’s son who said he e-mailed US President Barack Obama to ask him to annex the Philippines, the would-be candidates each had their six minutes of fame before TV cameras as they presented their views and platforms before poll officials.

After nearly five hours of grilling, Brillantes said the election body might consider only one of them as a possible candidate in next year’s polls—businessman and former government official Richard Penson, who said he was a friend of President Aquino.

“At least, it’s over. We’ll issue our resolution next week,” Brillantes said after the hearing at the Comelec main session hall.

“We had to hear them and give them due process. You just can’t say no to them. Under the Omnibus Election Code, we have to hear them out,” he said when asked how it felt going through the whole experience.

‘Why not try us?’

Brillantes and Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Grace Padaca, Lucenito Tagle and Armando Velasco patiently posed questions to the hopefuls during the marathon hearing.

Seventeen aspirants out of a total of 43 that were scheduled to appear Thursday failed to show up. Brillantes said the aspirants would be considered nuisance candidates—and, therefore, eliminated—unless they could convincingly explain their absence.

Brillantes repeatedly asked the aspirants if they were happy with the performance of the Senate.

“Aren’t you happy with Senator (Lito) Lapid?” Brillantes asked aspirant Elizabeth Capular, a nurse.

Capular said she was satisfied with Lapid but added: “Let new ones participate. Why not try us?”

Apology to Portugal

Among those who showed up was Orlando Suerte, who said he was an employee of the Land Transportation Office conducting seminars for future drivers.

“We should write a letter of apology to the people of Portugal for the death of Magellan,” Suerte said—referring to the 16th-century Portuguese explorer—when asked about his platform.

He also wanted to change the date of Philippine Independence Day and change the Spanish-sounding surnames of Filipinos, which have “negative meanings.”

“Surnames like Estupido or Microbio. Generations of Filipinos shouldn’t suffer under those surnames,” said Suerte, whose name means “lucky” in Spanish.

Brillantes joked: “Maybe you also want to ban ‘Malas (unlucky)’ or change these surnames to Filipino, like Puno (tree) … or Sanga (branch), Ugat (root), or Dahon (leaf).”

White House link

Retiree Eduardo Fernandez all but went down on his knees to beg the Comelec to allow him to run for the Senate.

“I have an online (connection) to the White House. I’ve e-mailed President Obama to ask that we become a US state, like Hawaii or (the US territory) Puerto Rico,” Fernandez said.

Brillantes replied: “I’d pity President Obama if we become a state. We’re too many.”

But Fernandez said he wanted his grandchildren to have a better life, adding the Philippines was going nowhere because of graft and corruption.

“If I have to kneel, I would, just so I can push for our US statehood … Thank you, Your Excellency,” he said.

Going back home

Brillantes corrected him and said Comelec commissioners preferred to be addressed “Your Honor” rather than “Your Excellency” because “the number of Presidents here might suddenly increase.”

“But that’s just right for you because your hair is so white,” Fernandez said and, eliciting laughter, added unexplainably: “Kami papunta pa lang, kayo pauwi na (We are just moving on while you are on your way back home).”

Brillantes replied in jest that he didn’t want to be going home yet.

Each candidate spoke for six minutes on average with the commissioners questioning them on their political views, background and capability to wage a senatorial campaign across the country.

‘Enrile overstaying’

While the aspirants presented different platforms, they were united in saying that the Senate badly needed new blood.

“Why have elections if we’re going to see the same old faces?” asked Daniel Magtira, the self-proclaimed husband of Kris Aquino, eliciting applause from those present.

He wore a bow tie with a pin that read: “Sen. Magtira.”

Arsenio Dimaya, a native of Cagayan who promised to supply Filipinos with vegetables if elected, said he wouldn’t mind winning the Senate presidency.

“You’re also from Cagayan, like the Senate President (Juan Ponce Enrile) … Aren’t you afraid about replacing him?” Brillantes asked.

“There has been so little change in the Senate. (Enrile) is already overstaying,” Dimaya replied.

Someone from the gallery shouted: “Give others a chance!”

Sam Miguel
10-19-2012, 08:56 AM
Estrada ribs the rich: Don’t oust me again

Manila mayoral bet hits ‘kidnap-fun, holdup-fun’ under Lim

By Erika Sauler

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:59 pm | Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Deposed President and now Manila mayoral candidate Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Thursday used his trademark “Eraption” humor to send a message to one of the power blocs he had blamed for his ouster from Malacańang in 2001, lest they “do it again” and spoil his political comeback.

The former actor who had cultivated a propoor image and who almost won the presidency again in 2010 yesterday addressed an audience of businessmen, professionals and society’s movers and shakers at upscale Forbes Park village in Makati City, as an invited speaker at a Rotary Club meeting at Manila Polo Club.

“Si Erap hindi lang para sa mahirap, para din sa taga-Forbes Park (Erap is not just for the poor, but also for Forbes Park folk),” he said, drawing chuckles from the crowd.

“(This is) a significant and groundbreaking milestone in the history of the Rotary Club of Forbes Park. This will be the first time you will have an ex-convict as your guest speaker,” said the 75-year-old Estrada who six years after his disgraceful exit from the Palace was convicted of plunder and granted presidential pardon by his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“And if any of you were part of the conspiracy to remove me as the duly elected President of the Republic of the Philippines in the so-called Edsa Dos, I forgive you. But please don’t do it again, said Estrada”, who had blamed a supposed plot involving the Church, the Left and the elite for his fate.

Estrada, still a political kingpin with the machinery to battle the coalition led by the Liberal Party in next year’s mid-term polls, is himself challenging the 82-year-old reelectionist Alfredo Lim for the mayoralty in Manila.

He used the Rotary Club gathering to take a swipe at Lim’s administration, at one point brimming with sarcasm when he said the city had given a new meaning to the country’s tourism campaign slogan: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

That’s because of the rampant “kidnap-fun, holdup-fun and carnap-fun” in Manila, he said.

The city has become “a deplorable basket case of criminality, of constant flooding, of drug dens, of kotong cops, of decaying facilities and infrastructure, of slums and congestion,” he added.

He said he planned to review the value of real properties in Manila and go after delinquent taxpayers to raise city revenues, among others. “The people of the City of Manila will know where their taxes will go,” he said.

Sam Miguel
10-19-2012, 08:57 AM
Hundreds turn up in rally to back Ako Bicol

By Mar S. Arguelles

Inquirer Southern Luzon

12:29 am | Friday, October 19th, 2012

HUNDREDS of supporters of Ako Bicol gather at the Peńaranda Park in Legazpi City to show their support to the party-list group. JUAN ESCANDOR JR./INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

LEGAZPI CITY—Hundreds of supporters of the party-list group Ako Bicol (AKB) trooped to the streets here on Thursday to denounce the decision of the Commission on Election (Comelec) to disqualify AKB in next year’s elections.

More than 2,000 villagers, representing many of Bicol’s poorest, walked the three-kilometer stretch of Rizal Street from Quezon Avenue in the city’s downtown to Peńaranda Park in Albay District.

The protesters, wearing yellow and black armbands, carried streamers with slogans supporting the AKB party-list as they paraded on Rizal Street.

AKB Rep. Rodel Batocabe said the protesters came from the six Bicol provinces and ended their activity with a prayer rally for Comelec to reconsider its decision and recognize AKB as a legitimate party-list group.

AKB garnered 1.5 million votes in the 2010 elections, giving it three seats in the House of Representatives.

Batocabe said the protesters are from different sectors in the region like youth, farmers, fishermen, women and tribal communities who had received help and had been represented by AKB in the House.

Batocabe and other AKB Representatives Alfredo Garbin and Christopher Co started the day with the distribution of CFL (compact fluorescent lights) to 1,500 poor families in Tabaco City.

The group also distributed hand tractors to several farmers’ groups in Albay.

In a statement, Sen. Koko Pimentel said the Senate should investigate the Comelec decision to delist AKB since it would mean massive disenfranchisement of the group’s constituents.

Bicolano Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan earlier criticized the Comelec ruling.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda also said he was “dismayed” by the Comelec decision.

Garbin said groups seeking AKB’s ouster are jealous of the massive support for the group.

“The Bicol region is the fourth poorest in terms of the number of poor families,” said Garbin.

“The geographic persistence of poverty in the region can only be structural in character and could only be resolved by structural remedies, one of which is greater representation in Congress,” Salceda earlier said.

Sam Miguel
10-19-2012, 09:27 AM
2013 will cost more and kill more

CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 19, 2012 12:00 AM

Because of a “renegade” group in the administration and within the Liberal Party, veteran politicians have advised me that the 2013 elections will cost more and kill more people than “expected.”

Yes, there were “quiet” expectations that the 2013 elections would be comparatively cheaper and more peaceful because of the efforts of the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. Two sources have already confirmed that unbeknownst to the general public, then DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo had quietly negotiated between political protagonists at the local government level aiming to be Governors, Congressmen, even among those vying for Mayor.

The logic behind’s Robredo’s alleged efforts were to minimize political conflicts at the local government level, reduce the possibility of actual violent clashes and somehow create an environment of cooperation. All this made a lot of sense for the politicians, political families, the DILG and the national government. To begin with, if the protagonists agree to subdivide or split up the elective offices and allow each other to run unopposed, it would mean a savings of at least 100 million for every congressional and gubernatorial candidate. By splitting up the positions, there is a built in check and balance within the local government and finally, the spirit of cooperation and non-opposition greatly reduces the possibility of people being killed and does away with election protests. At the national level, such an environment of cooperation is invaluable in terms of the quick implementation of development projects.

Those who keep track of the news might recall that even Vice President Jejomar Binay and his party went out of their way to emphasize that while they are a political party, they are not the opposition, much less the enemy of Malacańang.

Unfortunately, now that Jesse Robredo has passed away, the renegade group has reportedly decided to use the 2013 elections as their trial run for the presidential elections in 2016. The group, suspected to be with the “Balay” group and pushing for Mar Roxas as President in 2016, has apparently convinced numerous politicians to go back on their commitments made in front of church officials, community leaders all over the country and instructed them to field candidates at all levels against other political parties. As a result numerous candidates who had hoped on running unopposed now find themselves betrayed and angry that what was suppose to be based on the word of honor has amounted to nothing. Instead the betrayals have reignited bad blood amongst local politicians, which will surely cascade into violence between supporters.

* * *

While the COMELEC is busy cleaning up the list of qualified “Party-list” organizations, I’m just curious if election officials actually check or require a medical certificate to prove that a candidate is medically fit to undergo the rigors of an election campaign?

I have to ask this question because I just learned that someone I know is running for Congressman despite the protests of his family and despite the fact that he has not fully recovered from a serious stroke that left him partially incapacitated and unable to even feed himself. Recently no less than Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed her candidacy for her re-election bid in spite of her fragile or serious medical condition.

Isn’t it about time that the COMELEC come together en banc and do something about the matter? I know that the state has the power to restrain or prevent people from endangering themselves or others. Allowing medically impaired or high-risk individuals from joining the elections is tantamount to watching people kill themselves while doing nothing. Doesn’t the law require that people seeking public or appointive positions be of sound body and sound mind?

I have no ill will towards the medically impaired, but the honorable commissioners have to admit that a stroke victim with diminished capacities is hardly fit to run for Congress and be in Congress!

* * *

To end the week with good news, my friends at the DAP or Development Academy of the Philippines just sent word that the DAP has opened admission to the Public Management Development Program (PMDP) for 2013. The PMDP is an intensive scholarship program for government managers providing comprehensive training in various disciplines including management, leadership, media, etc.

Selected candidates spend three to four months in-house training at the DAP facility in Tagaytay City, a two-week immersion journey in a rural community, and another three months spent on re-entry project implementation where the respective candidates originally is connected. This scholarship and training program is no walk in the park since some of my “younger” friends have gone through the program and described it as “intense,” “life changing” and sure to impact a career in government. On a personal note, it is the same program where I have lectured on competency in media and communications and almost all participants testify that it was like going through the meat grinder and “Fear Factor.”

Not everyone will qualify since there are only two available classes: Senior Executive Class designed for senior government executives who are incumbents or OICs of SG 25 and up positions. The other class is the MMC or Middle Managers Class which is for high performing — high potential division chiefs of SG 24 positions.

Because of the limited slots available, “only applicants who hold a permanent position in government and not more than 55 years old will be accepted. Applicants must come from national line agencies or their attached agencies and should have gained a Very Satisfactory or Outstanding performance rating for the past two years. They should also be clear of administrative or criminal cases, have not gone habitually on leave and are willing to sign a one-year service contract after completing the program. They should also be nominated by the head of agency.” Nominations are open until October 30 while submission of application requirements is up to November 10, 2012.

To those who make it to the program and end up in any future class I may be called upon to mentor: Be afraid. Be very afraid. The DAP demands quality and they expect nothing less.

Sam Miguel
10-22-2012, 08:38 AM
Comelec bats for ‘people’s initiative’ to stop political dynasties

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:39 am | Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday said it was powerless to stop political dynasties because Congress had yet to pass an enabling law for the constitutional prohibition.

But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said those “annoyed” by them may resort to a “people’s initiative” or massive signature campaign to prevent their dominance in the country’s political landscape.

Brillantes over the weekend said it was “impossible” for the election body to prevent relatives of incumbent officials from seeking government posts in the 2013 elections.

“We can’t do anything about it,” he said.

“There is no enabling law that prohibits political dynasties even if it is not allowed under the Constitution,” Brillantes said.

The Comelec chief was apparently commenting on a petition filed in the Supreme Court asking the justices to order the poll body to enforce the constitutional ban on political dynasties in the coming national and local balloting.

“We can only administer what is provided by law,” Brillantes said.

But he suggested that those irked by the presence of political dynasties in the government could employ the constitutional provision on people’s initiative.

“A people’s initiative is the best … real solution to that problem so that it would no longer have to pass through Congress,” Brillantes said, referring to Republic Act No. 6735, the law on people’s initiative and referendum. “Because the Congress will not allow that (banning political dynasties) … they will not do something that will directly affect them,” he added.

Article 17 Section 2 of the Constitution provides that “amendments to the Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters … .”

Brillantes did not explain what constitutional amendment could be proposed to bypass the need for implementing laws.

In a 24-page petition filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, a certain Louis Biraogo lamented how patronage politics “became the rule in the elections,” and a candidate had no chance at winning if he or she did not belong to a political dynasty.

The petitioner noted that the current candidates for the upcoming midterm elections were the “best testament to that political and constitutional mockery.”

“The refusal of the government, the Congress in particular, to fulfill the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties has been a continuing insult to the Filipino people. Something must be done about this anomaly,” Biraogo said.

Congress has also been sitting on the implementing rules of the freedom of information provision in the 1987 Constitution.

Sam Miguel
10-23-2012, 09:00 AM
Enrile: I have no Torrens title to Senate presidency

By Cathy Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:58 am | Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Saying that he had “no Torrens title” to the Senate presidency, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile again expressed willingness to surrender the post to anyone who could gather a new majority.

“I have no Torrens title over this position (and if ouster) is the price I’ll have to pay to maintain my self respect, then so be it,” Enrile said in a hastily arranged news conference in his office Monday.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Sunday that many of the senators were just waiting for a signal before making the presence of a new majority felt in the upper chamber.

She added that Enrile’s apparent disinterest in the passage of two administration bills — on reproductive health (RH) and on sin taxes for tobacco and alcohol — could cost him his seat.

But Enrile said he did not mind leaving the rostrum at any time and would even welcome any moves to turn him back into an average senator, “because then, I’ll be able to take a position (on issues being tackled in the chamber).”

He said that as Senate President, “I have to consider the position of each of (the other senators). But if I am not in (this post), I can display the position that I want. I will no longer deal with the position of others and just argue my case.”

But Enrile could not resist taking potshots at his critics and those he believed were after the Senate presidency, describing them as shifting from one party to another, depending on who is occupying Malacańang.

“I have remained loyal to my party no matter how small,” said Enrile, a member of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

He added that he had already prepared the amendments he wanted included in the RH bill so that it could finally be voted on, and would not oppose the passage of the so-called sin tax bill aimed at raising government collections from tobacco and alcohol products.

The Senate President said he realized that the sin tax bill “goes hand in hand” with the proposed P2-trillion budget for 2013.

Sam Miguel
10-23-2012, 09:02 AM
Akbayan defends party-list stand

By Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:56 am | Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

A party-list group that has members now entrenched in the executive department says it remains committed to working for reforms and pushing for policies for the benefit of sectors such as farmers, laborers, women and informal settlers.

The 14-year-old Akbayan believes it has every right to remain in the party-list system, despite what critics in “the other Left” are saying about its more powerful stature given its coalition with President Aquino’s political party and access to Malacańang.

Its members who are in the executive are Commission on Human Rights Chairman Loretta Rosales, National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Joel Rocamora, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and his deputy, Ibarra Gutierrez III. In addition, Akbayan has two members in the House of Representatives.

Akbayan’s coalition with the Aquino administration is not a capitulation of its objectives but a sign of its maturity as a party, its chairperson, Risa Hontiveros, said at a dinner-meeting with Philippine Daily Inquirer editors and reporters on Thursday.

Within the executive department, Akbayan continues to push for advocacies and policies that will help the sectors it represents, she said.

Critics, led by Anakbayan, said Akbayan could not claim to represent the marginalized since it is led by people allied with the administration. The two groups come from different factions of the Left.

Akbayan is also seeking to further broaden its reach in the government by aiming to put Hontiveros in the halls of the Senate.

Hontiveros, a widow and mother of four, is making her second attempt at joining the Senate, after landing just outside the Magic 12 in the 2010 senatorial election.

She is part of the administration coalition led by the President’s Liberal Party. Akbayan has a partnership with Mr. Aquino that dates back to 2009.

“Marginalized sectors can never be overrepresented,” Hontiveros said.

These sectors’ agenda are still not front and center in government institutions, which is why there is the need for more people in government fighting for their cause, said Hontiveros, a former member of the House of Representatives.

Akbayan said the marginalized and underrepresented should be represented at all levels of government.

“We believe the marginalized deserve better than token representation. We believe the people must have full representation. To say otherwise is to argue for the perpetual marginalization of the people,” it said in a statement.

Gutierrez, Akbayan’s spokesperson, said the group’s bashers seemed to have confused representation of the marginalized, which is what is required under the party-list law, with marginalization of the organization.

Gutierrez said Akbayan had complied with requirements in the law to participate in the party-list elections.

Under the party-list law, those that can participate in the polls are sectoral and regional groups, and political parties. They also have to represent the disadvantaged sectors.

Akbayan, a political party registered to participate in party-list elections, represents multiple and marginalized sectors, where most of its members come from, Gutierrez said.

Seeking the disqualification of Akbayan is like saying that the sectors it represents are no longer marginalized, he added.

The group’s track record speaks for itself, Hontiveros said.

Akbayan has championed several laws and bills that help the downtrodden, such as the extension of the comprehensive agrarian reform program and the reproductive health measure, she said.

Gutierrez pointed out that no formal petition was filed against Akbayan in the Commission on Elections (Comelec), and what Anakbayan sent to the Comelec was just a letter questioning Akbayan’s status. But the Comelec was conducting a general review of all party-list groups anyway, he said.

Purge of bogus groups

The Comelec is purging the party-list system of bogus groups led by the wealthy and influential who claim to champion the disadvantaged.

Akbayan’s case was different from that of Ako Bicol, which the poll body disqualified in the 2013 elections, according to Gutierrez.

He said Ako Bicol was found to have failed to establish that it was representing a marginalized sector and had not filed a petition to participate in the party-list polls.

World of difference

There is also a world of difference between Akbayan and the party-list groups that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had fielded and filled with her officials, Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said these Arroyo groups were newly created and funded by the previous administration to join the party-list system. By contrast, Akbayan has long been joining the polls and receives no funding from the Aquino administration, she said.

Akbayan’s supposed influence and reach in Malacańang also seems to have been exaggerated by critics, according to its officials.

Legend in critics’ minds

“It’s less than what our adversaries say. We are a legend in their minds,” Hontiveros said with a laugh.

Gutierrez said Akbayan is just one of several voices that the President listens to when making a decision.

“We can’t really directly do anything. That’s the sad truth of it. When we entered government, I personally had high hopes as to what we could achieve. But the reality is not like that. At the end of the day, you have to actually come to grips with opposing viewpoints within the ruling coalition,” he said.

One instance where Akbayan was unsuccessful was in getting the President to support its security of tenure bill that would curtail contractualization. Instead of supporting the measure, Mr. Aquino spoke against it, to the group’s disappointment.


There have been victories, though. One is its campaign against the burial of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani. Akbayan opposed the move, and Etta Rosales went to the President to narrate her personal experience of torture during martial law.

That proved to be vital, Gutierrez said, because Mr. Aquino told Rosales that he thought about what she had said before making his decision.

Triumphs few, far between

But triumphs like these are few and far between, Gutierrez added.

“For every one moment like that, there are 20 moments where some other viewpoints prevail. That’s the way you work in a coalition,” he said.

And despite being part of the administration’s senatorial lineup, Hontiveros and Akbayan are not going to get public funds for the campaign and would have to do their own fundraising.

Hontiveros said she was used to running a “lean and mean” campaign, but was finding it hard to raise the P30 million to P35 million she would need.

Lean campaign

Part of the campaign funds would come from the membership dues of close to 80,000 card-carrying Akbayan members nationwide.

According to Hontiveros, her campaign will rely on communities dominated by Akbayan members and on visiting other areas where the group has partner organizations.

Social media is another important arena that her team plans to tap, given that it is inexpensive and has a massive reach, especially among the youth. Social media issues also tend to spill over into the mainstream.

Fighting for women

Hontiveros said she would continue her message of fighting for women and championing their causes, an advocacy that would also strengthen men, children and the families they nurture. This time around, she and her team are starting early on the task to raise awareness of her and her advocacies.

Hontiveros is running with politicians who have been entangled in many issues that Akbayan spoke against. Asked if she could campaign for them, she said the group had committed to support the entire administration coalition.

“We come from a tradition where we can work in a coalition where we agree on some things, and they are important enough to hold us together, but we continue to disagree in principle on other things,” she said.


In the case of the Liberal Party-led coalition, the glue that holds its disparate lineup is support for the President’s reform agenda, according to Hontiveros.

It is in the same spirit of finding common ground that Akbayan has a partnership with the administration, which Hontiveros doesn’t consider a liability at all.

The team-up was something that the group entered into willingly, after consulting its constituents, she said.

Common ground

Akbayan chose to support Mr. Aquino because the group has had a positive legislative experience and common ground with him. He was also the candidate least likely to enter into an agreement of accommodation with Arroyo, she said.

The partnership is something that Akbayan continually evaluates, to check whether it is not straying from its objectives, she further said.

For Akbayan, engaging with the administration is a sign of maturity.

“I don’t think it’s a negative because it’s part of our practice of coalition politics,” Hontiveros said. “Part of being a party is we vie for power, but power to fulfill our platform for change.”

This kind of action is something that she hopes more people will accept as political parties in the country evolve, she said.

“I hope in the long run, part of the message that we show to the people is that this is what having a mature political party system involves, the capacity to form coalition governments and the capacity to walk away when the basis of unity is no more,” she said.

Sam Miguel
10-23-2012, 09:03 AM
Walden Bello versus Anakbayan

By Benjamin Pimentel

8:23 pm | Sunday, October 21st, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — My first reaction when I saw the video clip of the Akbayan presscon being disrupted by the Anakbayan activists was to notice how grey Walden Bello had become.

Nearly 70 and still going at it, I thought.

My second reaction was to think: “Just stay calm and wait for them to get tired of yelling. Or maybe just end the presscon and walk away.”

It was wishful thinking. Walden was not going to just stay quiet and take the abuse. He was going to speak out and fight back.

The incident reminded me of the time he and I accompanied a friend when she had to take her driving test in Oakland. The man who gave the test, who was white, was openly rude to the point of being racist to our friend. Walden blew up and openly complained about the way she was being treated.

In calling for the disqualification of Akbayan, the Anakbayan activists accused Walden and Co. of red-baiting.

If the allegations are true, then I agree with Anakbayan. Red-baiting, in which a group is portrayed unfairly as being a front for an illegal, subversive organization is unfair and should be condemned.

It’s dangerous and likely to provoke a violent backlash against its targets.

Certainly, it would be unfair to paint a legal political party like Anakbayan, as being a tool of the underground left, a movement which began as force for reform led by the likes of Edgar Jopson, Eman Lacaba and Lorena Barros, but which has steadily morphed into a violent dogmatic shadow of its former self.

It would certainly be mean-spirited to try to link groups like Anakbayan to a group known for burning schools, extorting businesses and even killing its own members in bloody purges.

But then again, the picture the militants drew of Walden and his allies — that of treacherous, opportunistic, unprincipled collaborators with the worst elements of the military – is also pretty hard to accept.

It simply does not fit the portrait I and others have of Walden who has fought bullies and forces of repression all his life.

Now, mine is not an idealized or romantic portrait.

Let me say this now, Walden is a friend, but he can be a pain. He can be overbearing and impatient to the point of even being offensive. When he found himself in hot water for portraying allies of former President Arroyo as pigs, I thought, “Yep, that’s Walden.”

But Walden is undoubtedly one of the most original and sharpest political thinkers today, respected internationally as a maverick activist-intellectual. Just as important, he’s probably the hardest working activist-intellectual I know.

I’ve seen him in action in San Francisco, writing books and op-ed pieces, giving speeches, poring over research papers and the most boring looking government reports while running a major nonprofit organization called Food First. He used to work during weekends.

He was known for being such a hard worker that a friend of ours even told me, “Sometimes you just start to doubt yourself while watching him work. Is there something wrong with me that I’m not working as hard as him?”

That drive produced results.

He exposed the World Bank’s policies in the Philippines during the Marcos era in the book “Development Debacle,” became a spokesman against the abuses of corporate globalization and for sustainable economic development.

And he’s been doing this work for decades. Nearly 70 and still going at it.

With his credentials, Walden could have chosen a quieter life as an academic or political analyst. But he was too much of an activist, and a pretty daring one at that.

Before he became Congressman Bello, Walden once dressed up as Kermit the Frog during a protest outside the International Monetary Fund office in Washington DC. He led the storming of the Philippine Embassy at the height of the 1986 People Power Revolt, and was the one who declared, “We are claiming this embassy in the name of the Filipino people.” He even proclaimed himself acting Philippine ambassador.

I wasn’t at all surprised when he led the delegation to the Kalayaan Island, in what I actually thought was a risky political stunt.

Many of his friends here in the Bay Area were surprised and even dismayed when he joined Congress. But in that new role, he has clearly had an impact – he has helped shake up traditional Philippine politics.

I actually think he can be an ideal legislator, a detail-oriented policy wonk who can combine the passion of a political activist with the intellectual discipline of an academic.

Like I said, he can be a pain. But then again, that’s what the job entails.

That he is being attacked, with so much disrespect, with such seething hatred, by young militants who probably don’t know the work he has done, the battles he has fought, the causes he has advanced for Filipinos is unfortunate and sad.

But I wouldn’t worry too much about Congressman Kermit who, at nearly 70, is still going at it.

Sam Miguel
10-25-2012, 08:19 AM
Comelec drops 15 more party-list groups

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:33 am | Thursday, October 25th, 2012

A group of former prisoners led by ex-convict Romeo Jalosjos Jr. and an organization formerly represented by fugitive retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan were among the 15 party-list groups that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday disqualified from next year’s balloting.

The Comelec decision brought to 50 the number of groups it had so far dropped from the list of organizations qualified to take part in the midterm elections in May.

At a press conference, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. announced that the poll body had canceled the accreditation of Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala (Kakusa) and Bantay.

Kakusa, which identifies Jalosjos, a former Zamboanga del Norte representative convicted of raping a minor, as its president and chair emeritus, is supposed to represent the innocent who continue to languish in jails and those who have already served their sentences.

Garnering 234,788 votes in the 2010 elections, Kakusa earned a seat in the House of Representatives currently occupied by Ranulfo Canonigo.

Bantay, known to advocate anticommunism causes, was represented in the 14th Congress by Palparan after it got 169,869 votes in the 2007 elections. It failed to win a seat in 2010.

Palparan, called a “butcher” by human rights groups that have accused him of being behind the summary executions of activists in areas where he had been assigned, carries a P2-million bounty on his head. He is facing charges of kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeńo in 2006.

Last year, Palparan declared that Bantay was preparing a comeback in 2013, with him as one of the group’s nominees. That won’t happen because the Comelec en banc unanimously decided to cancel the group’s accreditation.

Pacyaw, Araro

Others dropped from the roster of groups that can participate in the May elections were Agri, Aksyon Magsasaka Partido Tinig ng Masa (Akma-PTM), Ako Agila, Pilipino Association for Country/Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare (Pacyaw), Ako Bahay, PM Masda, Coconut Farmers Association (Cofa), Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc. (Araro), Katutubo and Opo party-list or Pamilyang Overseas Filipino Workers-Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Network Foundation Inc.

The groups claimed to represent peasants, coconut farmers, urban poor, transport organizations and those advocating youth and sports development. They were allowed to join the 2010 elections but failed to win a seat in Congress.

RAM Guardians

Brillantes said the Comelec en banc also unanimously affirmed decisions made in the body’s division level to deny the application for accreditation of three new groups.

He identified them as RAM Guardians, Alyansa Para Sa Demokrasya, and Association of Airline and Airport Workers.

“Their applications were denied by the divisions and the commission en banc affirmed the denial,” Brillantes said.

First timers

The three groups were part of the 165 organizations hoping to participate for the first time in the congressional race next year.

A total of 289 groups have filed applications for accreditation for next year’s party-list elections.

So far, the Comelec delisted 28 existing party-list organizations, of which five, including Ako Bicol, 1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy (1-Care) and Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (Apec), have incumbent representatives in Congress.


The disqualification of Ako Bicol, 1-Care, Apec and other groups came following the Comelec announcement to crack down on bogus groups to cleanse the party-list system. Critics claimed that millionaires and scions of influential political families were using the party-list system to gain seats in Congress.

“We are not going to give reasons anymore [as to why they were disqualified] because the reasons are contained in the decision which is already promulgated and available at the commission secretariat,” Brillantes told reporters yesterday.

But no copy of the decision was made available to the media on Wednesday.

In general, Brillantes said Kakusa and the 11 other existing groups were dropped from the rolls of accredited party-list organizations because they failed to pass the test using the guidelines enumerated in the Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case in 2003.

In that decision written by then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, the Supreme Court issued guidelines to ensure that only those who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors—labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals—can run for party-list seats in Congress.

The guidelines said the political party or sector must represent the marginalized and underrepresented groups identified in the Constitution and that the party or organization must not be “an adjunct of” or a “project organized or an entity funded or assisted by the government.”

It also said that the nominee of a party must represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

“The common denominator is the Ang Bagong Bayani ruling which we are adopting and what we are applying,” Brillantes said.

“We believe that our decision will be correct because we are adopting the pronouncement of the Supreme Court,” he added.

Without accreditation, the groups cannot vie for seats reserved for party-list groups in the House of Representatives.

Under the Constitution, 20 percent of seats in the Constitution are reserved for party-list groups. Currently, 44 party-list groups have 58 representatives in the 287-member House.

Among the perks of a House member is a yearly allocation of P70 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund, a pork barrel, for the lawmaker’s pet projects.

Sam Miguel
10-25-2012, 08:21 AM
Militant groups seek Akbayan disqualification

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:24 am | Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The complaint pointed out that Akbayan’s nominees like incumbent Rep. Walden Bello for the 2013 elections did not belong to the sectors it claimed to represent.

Insisting that Akbayan is already a party in power and that it currently enjoys government support and funding, multisectoral groups and individuals on Wednesday filed in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a petition for its disqualification from the party-list elections next year.

They said Akbayan had ceased to become a marginalized party because many of its members had become appointees of President Aquino and because it had gained undue advantage over other party-list groups due to the government aid it was receiving.

“The scenario wherein a party-list group has transitioned itself from being a marginalized and underrepresented political party to one that is well-entrenched and well-connected to the present administration, is a new development in the Philippines’ party-list system,” said the petition.

It was the second formal complaint to be filed against Akbayan in the Comelec.

Among the petitioners were poll watchdog Kontra Daya’s Fr. Joe Dizon, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, Bayan’s secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., peasant leader Rodel Mesa of Hacienda Luisita’s Ugnayan ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Peter Gonzalez of Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and UP student regent Cleve Kevin Robert Arguelles.

The first petition was lodged by Anakbayan and the National Union of Students of the Philippines early this month.

In an interview with reporters Wednesday, Reyes said the petition was meant to disqualify Akbayan from the 2013 elections.

Reyes said the groups filed the petition pursuant to a provision in Comelec Resolution No. 9366 allowing the filing of a verified complaint for removal and/or cancellation of registration of a party-list group or organization.

“There are many parties and groups, out of power, really marginalized and underrepresented that are qualified to represent these sectors,” he added.

High positions

In the petition, the complainants identified at least nine Akbayan members and personalities occupying high appointive positions in the Aquino administration.

The nine are Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and his deputy Ibarra Gutierrez III, Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Rosales, National Anti-Poverty Commission Chairman Joel Rocamora and appointed spokesperson Risa Hontiveros, GSIS Board of Trustees member Mario Agujo, Social Security System Commissioner Daniel Edralin, National Youth Commission Commissioner Percival Cendańa and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Commissioner Angelina Ludovice-Katoh.

The petition also cited a previous statement by Rosales, Akbayan’s chairman emeritus and three-term representative, criticizing then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s supposed bid to create a “sizable camp” of allies in Congress by “populating the [2010] party-list elections with administration allies.”

It quoted Rosales as saying, “against Comelec’s expectations, packing the party-list contenders with Palace fronts can only be interpreted as a desperate effort by the Palace to fill up the next Congress with GMA (Arroyo) lapdogs.”

‘Bare the list’

The complaint also noted that Akbayan also launched the “Bare the List” campaign to compel the Comelec to identify the nominees of all accredited party-list groups for the 2007 elections, which would help reveal bogus groups allegedly fielded by the Arroyo administration.

“A study of Akbayan’s track record would reveal that it has become what it previously detested and protested against: A lapdog loyalist and a puppet of the present Aquino administration,” the complaint said.

It also pointed out that Akbayan’s nominees like incumbent Rep. Walden Bello for the 2013 elections did not belong to the sectors it claimed to represent.

The petitioners said the nominees were neither a laborer, a peasant, a woman, an LGBT, a fisherman, an urban poor or an overseas Filipino worker.

“He doesn’t belong to any sector that Akbayan claims to represent, in accordance to its constitution,” the petition said.

It also added that nominees Gutierrez and Katoh were not representatives of the sectors Akbayan was standing up for “and therefore could not be considered by any stretch of the imagination as underrepresented or marginalized.”

Sam Miguel
10-25-2012, 08:23 AM
Pimentel, Lacson question poll disqualification of party-list groups

By Norman Bordadora, Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:40 am | Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Two senators are questioning the basis used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in disqualifying certain party-list groups that currently hold seats in the House of Representatives from taking part in the elections in May 2013.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and suffrage, on Tuesday said his committee wanted to know if there was enough basis in existing laws for the disqualification of party-list groups.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said last week that only half of the 115 party-list groups would be allowed to participate in next year’s elections.

In a statement he earlier issued, Pimentel urged the Senate to investigate the Comelec decision to delist Ako Bicol because it would mean “massive disenfranchisement of the group’s constituents.”

In reply, Brillantes said last week that the legislature had no business investigating a quasi-judicial body and an independent commission like the Comelec in the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions.

“I can understand the politicians taking sides because the people we are eliminating are actually multimillionaires who can help their political campaign. But please don’t involve us. We are trying to be fair to everybody,” Brillantes said.

“Do you have the power? If not, we’d give you that power. I hope the chair was here so we can discuss …. If there’s a loophole, we’d plug the loophole,” Pimentel told the legal staff of the poll body.

The Comelec has so far dropped 35 groups from the list of organizations qualified to participate in next year’s party-list elections.

Among those disqualified aside from Ako Bicol, which has three seats, were two groups representing electricity consumers—1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy (1-Care) and Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (Apec). Between them, 1-Care and Apec have three seats.

No show

On Tuesday, Brillantes and the election commissioners skipped the hearing of the Senate panel on electoral reforms, leaving to their legal officers the task of explaining the junking of a growing number of party-list groups.

“Why did you not send your commissioners here? This is not a probe of your party-list decisions. This is a hearing on pending bills. Why did the commissioners boycott our hearing?” Pimentel told the staff of the Comelec legal office.

Those who attended the hearing on behalf of Brillantes and the commissioners were lawyers Gwin Calibuyot, Shemidah Cadiz and Erwin Villarin.

“I think it’s quite arrogant on the part of your chairman, if he was quoted accurately, that the Senate has no say as regards the party-list because there is a pending bill and it is the duty of the Senate to discuss pending bills. You can tell your chairman that,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a member of the committee, told the Comelec legal staff.

The committee on Tuesday discussed bills on ensuring women’s representation in the party-list system authored by Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. It also discussed Santiago’s bill against political dynasties.

Urgent en banc meeting

The Comelec lawyers explained that Brillantes and the commissioners failed to attend the panel hearing because of an urgent en banc meeting.

Brillantes denied snubbing the committee hearing.

In a phone interview with reporters, he said he was surprised by news that senators overseeing the Senate committee on electoral reforms perceived the commissioners’ absence from the hearing as a “boycott” or an act of “arrogance.”

“It’s not true that there was a boycott. We sent our lawyers,” said the Comelec chief.

Brillantes said he even informed Pimentel ahead of the hearing that he would not be able to make it.

“Koko (Pimentel) knew that I won’t be able to attend. So, what is his problem?” he said when told that Pimentel questioned his “boycott” of the hearing.

Brillantes, along with Commissioners Grace Padaca, Armando Velasco and Christian Robert Lim, on Tuesday held their regular en banc meeting, where important matters were tackled. The en banc meeting requires at least four members in attendance for a quorum.

Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Lucenito Tagle were scheduled Tuesday to attend a contract signing on voters’ registration and education at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Commissioner Elias Yusoph was on a personal trip to Saudi Arabia.

Brillantes said the Comelec en banc was swamped with work that it would find it hard to commit its attendance in future hearings. “We have a lot of things to do,” he said.

Compliance with requirements

At the hearing, Villarin said the disqualification of party-list groups that were previously allowed to take part in elections was based on whether they continued to comply with the regulations under the party-list law and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court decision on Bagong Bayani.

“The basis is Republic Act No. 7941. The commission en banc calls all these accredited party-list [groups] to a summary hearing in order to show their compliance with the requirements under the Act and the guidelines,” Villarin said.

Pimentel said the disqualified party-list organizations went through and satisfied the same processes and regulations before 2010.

Change in composition

“They were accredited by the Comelec. That means they passed all the standards …. And then just because of the passage of time, they didn’t engage in rebellions, they didn’t take up arms, then all of a sudden, they are disqualified. Is it because of the change in the composition of the Comelec, a change in the thinking of the commissioners?” Pimentel said.

“If that were the case, was it because the commissioners before misinterpreted the law or they were too lax in enforcing the Bagong Bayani directives or they were instructed by somebody, as Senator Lacson said, ‘to close their eyes to unqualified party-lists and let them pass through the door?’” he added.

Villarin said the disqualification of party-list groups was not due to the change in the composition of the commission.

“Your honors, it is not the composition of the commissioners but the continuing compliance with the requirements. It doesn’t matter who the commissioners are,” Villarin said.

Apparently unimpressed by the lawyer’s response, Lacson said: “Just say that it’s [part of] electoral reforms. That’s the best answer.”

“Pardon the term but it seems the party-list system was prostituted during the term of [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] that’s why you’re correcting it. That’s the higher level of reasoning,” Lacson said.

Sam Miguel
10-25-2012, 08:24 AM
Lacson dynasty is no dynasty, by his definition

By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:34 am | Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Senator Panfilo Lacson has openly declared himself against dynasticism in politics, confident that by his lights, he is no dynast himself.

“We need to pass an enabling law as regards the issue of political dynasty. Our Constitution [which bans political dynasties] has been in effect for a long time. Since 1987, no Congress has passed a law that would comply with the constitutional provision. It’s about time,” Lacson said.

As the last-termer senator sees it, a political dynasty only exists when members of the same family serve simultaneous terms of office, whether in national or local levels.

“It seems unbecoming to see father-and-son, siblings, husband-and-wife, in one plenary,” he said during a Senate electoral committee hearing yesterday on a bill prohibiting the establishment of political dynasties filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Lacson was referring to a clear dynastic situation developing in the Senate after the 2013 elections which could see a father and son, two brothers, and a-successor-son-to-a-senator-father all serving in a chamber that already has an existing brother-sister act and recently saw a mother-son tandem.

Clear definition

“It would be worse if they hold sway in the same province or in the same town as governor and mayor. That in my own view is at least a clear definition of a political dynasty,” he said.

Since he defines a political dynasty as occurring only if members from one family serve simultaneous terms, Lacson clearly does not see any contradiction in his son, Jay, running for vice governor in their Cavite home province in 2013.

The dictionary definition of a dynasty is a family that establishes and maintains predominance in a particular field, in this case politics, for generations. A dynast is a person who founds or belongs to a family powerful in a particular field.

Indicating that he might run for office again in 2016, Lacson said that if Jay decided to run for governor in 2016, “that should signal my retirement from politics.”

The hearing chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III similarly needed to come to grips with a definition of what a political dynasty is.

Local execs

A lawyer from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) observed that Santiago in her Senate Bill 2649 defined political dynasty in such a way that only would-be dynasts in local elective posts were targeted.

Erwin Villarin of the Comelec legal office said Santiago appeared to exempt national positions from the proposed ban, adding that this was an observation shared by the Comelec commissioners.

However, National Movement on Free Elections Eric Alvia said stopping a family from fielding more than one member for political office could be detrimental as it could deprive the country of the services of a competent leader.

Alvia said he was for letting the voters decide who they wanted to vote in.

In her proposed bill, Santiago said a political dynasty exists “when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of an elective official holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official.”

“It shall be deemed to exist where two or more persons, who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree if consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously within the same province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official,” SB 2649 read.

Definition of spouse

A spouse is defined in Santiago’s bill as the legal or common-law wife or husband of the incumbent elective official.

The Santiago bill clearly does not target the situation in the Senate that Lacson is concerned about.

Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, is running for senator in 2013. The elder Enrile’s term does not end until 2016.

San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito is running for senator in 2013. If he wins, he will serve simultaneously with his half-brother, Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. The brothers are the sons of deposed President Joseph Estrada.

Jinggoy and his mother, Loi Ejercito, served as senators at the same time between 2004 and 2006.

There is a brother-and-sister presence in the Senate with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Pia Cayetano. Alan Peter is running for reelection in 2013 while Pia will serve until 2010.

Sam Miguel
10-29-2012, 09:13 AM
Akbayan hits back, seeks ouster of Red party-listers

By Jocelyn R. Uy, Michael Lim Ubac and Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:52 am | Saturday, October 27th, 2012

The rivalry continues.

Groups allied with the Akbayan party-list group are urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify “communist party-list groups” from the 2013 elections, claiming that some P770 million in pork barrel funds were being channeled to the operations of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

In the latest escalation of the increasingly acrimonious quarrel between the well-connected Akbayan on one hand and rival progressive groups, the People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PEACE) Friday reiterated a letter-complaint it filed in the Comelec last month calling for the delisting of Bayan Muna and other groups that it said were creations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Where’s the beef?

In Sydney, Australia, where he is on an official visit, President Benigno Aquino III said he saw nothing wrong with Akbayan being part of his administration and with receiving P14 million in campaign contributions during the 2010 party-list elections from his three sisters.

“They are allied with us but it doesn’t make them any less a representative of marginalized sectors,” Aquino said of Akbayan, which as of last count has nine of its members serving as officials of the Aquino administration, two members in Congress as party-list representatives and countless others allied with the ruling Liberal Party.

“It’s one thing to ask for a delisting (of Akbayan), it’s another to prove it,” the President said.

No presidential restraint

Fr. Joe Dizon of the Kontra Daya election watchdog group said Aquino’s defense of Akbayan showed that he “did not understand the party-list system” and that he might even be pressuring the Comelec to favor that group.

“Lastly, (it shows) he cannot exercise any form of presidential restraint,” Dizon said.

Mockery of democracy

PEACE was joined in its petition in the Comelec by the New Guardians for Freedom and Democracy, People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment and Pro Democracy Foundation of the Philippines.

Noting Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr.’s recent cleansing of the party-list system of “dubious” groups, they said he should demonstrate the same courage by similarly delisting “communist party-list groups that are not only bastardizing the system but also making a mockery of our democracy.”

The groups identified the party-list organizations Gabriela, Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kabataan and Katribu Indigenous Peoples Sectoral Party as some of the CPP fronts that “as part of their political struggle, to infiltrate, manipulate and exploit the country’s free and democratic institutions.”

According to PEACE president Agnes Lopez, the number of “communist” party-list groups in the House of Representatives has increased to 11, allowing them to corner some P770 million of pork barrel funds every year.

“If one congressman gets P70 million, these groups will be able to channel at least P770 million yearly to support the operations of the NPA or other allied organizations of the CPP,” said Lopez.

Favored group

The allegations followed reports that Akbayan had received P112 million in political contributions during the May 2010 elections, which included P14 million from the three sisters of the President.

Akbayan’s rivals, which it has described as from the “extreme Left,” regard the political contributions from the Aquinos as proof that Akbayan was the administration’s “favored party-list” group, enjoying an unfair advantage over the genuinely marginalized and under-represented organizations.

Last Wednesday, several of these so-called “extreme Left” groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) filed a formal complaint in the Comelec, the second such petition, asking for Akbayan’s disqualification claiming that it had ceased to become a marginalized group when many of its members and personalities were appointed to government posts.

But PEACE and the groups allied with Akbayan said it is these groups and their affiliates like Bayan Muna that should be disqualified as these organizations allegedly support violence against the state in violation of the Party-List System Act.

The giveaway

“How can party-list groups that support the overthrow of the government and the country’s political system be allowed to participate in the party-list elections? The mere fact that they made no public announcement condemning NPA atrocities or its bloody armed struggle is already a giveaway,” said Lopez.

Lopez said the Comelec was already in the right direction when it disqualified the labor-based Courage party-list group from participating in the 2013 party-list polls.

“We hope the disqualification of the Courage party-list will pave way for the total delisting of all communist party-list groups. Disqualifying one party-list will not discourage the CPP in spawning more groups. The more effective approach is to disqualify them all, including those that are currently sitting in Congress,” Lopez said.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes dismissed the allegations, saying these were rehashed and had been debunked before.

“These are old allegations that were already answered in the past in the Comelec, and will not prosper,” he said.

“While totally untrue, these allegations open up Bayan Muna to attacks and harassment by the (military). That is the problem. It’s the same old red-tagging,” he added.

Communists’ objective

In the letter-complaint they submitted to the Comelec in September, Lopez’s group said Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Kabataan, and Katribu Indigenous Peoples Sectoral Party (Katribu) party-list groups were part of the communists’ plan “to infiltrate, manipulate, and exploit the country’s free and democratic institutions to support their violent and inhuman armed struggle in the countryside.”

Lopez claimed that the objective of the CPP in fielding these groups was to eventually wield substantial influence over Congress “to help in its armed revolution by providing resources and other forms of assistance.”

“It’s not a coincidence that at a time when the NPA’s numbers were dwindling because of lack of resources and the success of the (military’s) anti-insurgency operations these communist party-list groups multiplied to about 11,” she said.

Lopez warned that these leftist groups could use the NPA to “easily intimidate other party-list groups in NPA-infested areas.”

“The Bayan Muna consortium is practically assured of votes during elections because the NPA campaigns for them whereas other party-list organizations and even politicians have to pay a permit-to-campaign fee to visit NPA-controlled areas,” Lopez said.

Not illegal

Asked about his sisters’ donations to Akbayan, the President said that as long as they were not violating “spending limits,” this was not illegal.

“Is that an issue? If you’re a marginal party, or a party representing a marginalized sector, you’re not entitled to have supporters? How does a political party exist without supporters?” he said.

But he quickly added that on the issue of his sisters’ donations, he would have “to check the records.”

In the election expenditure document it submitted to the Comelec, Akbayan disclosed that it received a total of

P112 million in political contributions during the May 2010 elections.

It showed that Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee each contributed P2 million while TV host Kris Aquino, or Kristina Bernadette, gave P10 million.

Kris’ contribution was the biggest among individual contributors. Richard Dee, Viel’s husband, gave P3 million.

Sign of public confidence

According to the statement, Akbayan received a total of P112,183,000 in contributions from individuals and political parties while its election expenditures reached P112,174,008.70.

Barry Gutierrez, Akbayan national spokesperson, explained that the contributions indicated the public’s confidence and support for Akbayan advocacies.

He said that Akbayan’s campaign during the 2010 elections was funded mainly by contributions from individual sympathizers.

“Unlike our accusers from the extreme Left, contributions to Akbayan’s electoral campaign did not come from illegal ‘taxes’ forcibly extracted from logging and mining companies under pain of their installations and equipment being burned and their personnel harmed,” he added.

In a statement, Akbayan explained that its campaign in 2010 was funded primarily by contributions from individuals who believed and supported Akbayan’s reform platform and its collaboration with then Liberal Party presidential bet, Noynoy Aquino

It said 90 percent of the total campaign expenditures went to radio and TV ads, which promoted Akbayan as Aquino’s partner.

“These contributions simply allowed us to run a more effective national campaign that ensured the continued representation of the interests of the marginalized within the corridors of government,” Akbayan stressed.

“That we received such contributions, we believe, does not take away the character of Akbayan as a party-list that represents the interests of the marginalized, but in fact indicates the confidence and support our advocacies enjoy from the broader public,” it said.

Sam Miguel
10-29-2012, 09:19 AM
Brillantes warns politicians: Don’t pull a fast one

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:51 am | Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Haunted by the ghost of schemes he pulled off in the past, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Friday dissuaded politicians and their lawyers from trying the same tricks on him as the voter registration deadline drew near.

Brillantes said the Comelec would be keeping an eye on hakot (bused-in) registrants brought in by politicians to add to the chaos that usually attend the last day of voter registration in Comelec offices nationwide.

Voter registration for the 2013 midterm elections will end on Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. Voters who have yet to register can still go to the Comelec offices in their areas on Saturday and on Monday until Wednesday.

Brillantes admitted that when he was still a practicing election lawyer, he and his clients would resort to the same “gimmick” so other legitimate voters would not be able to register.

“On the last day, we would cause a stir in election offices. We would bring in registrants-supporters of a politician so the others won’t be able to register,” he recalled.

“Our politicians bring many registrants to precincts on the last day to preclude the other legitimate voters. This is just one scheme I know,” he told reporters in an interview.

But he warned his former colleagues and politicians not to pull the same trick on him. “Just a warning, please don’t do it anymore. Don’t do it to me,” he said.

48-M registered so far

“We will be watching them as well as those who are bringing in supporters as registrants … maybe it will minimize any additional illegitimate voters,” added Brillantes.

As of Friday, a total of 48 million Filipinos nationwide have already enlisted for the coming midterm elections. But Brillantes said the poll body was expecting five million more who would be trooping to election offices in the last four days of registration.

The Comelec chair visited election offices in Quezon City, Manila and Makati City Friday to check on the conduct of voters’ registration.

At the Quezon City Hall compound, people queued even if it was a holiday to make sure they get into the voters’ list.

“The chief complaint is the long lines. But we’ve been constantly reminding people not to wait until the last minute to register,” Brillantes told reporters.

The Comelec will not be extending the registration for latecomers, he said.

“Some of the people I’ve talked to really set aside this day to register,” Brillantes said. “Do not blame us if you don’t get to vote.”

Mańana habit

On his Twitter account Friday, he said those who have let two years pass without dropping by the Comelec to enlist should be “reasonable” with their expectations, especially when registering at the last minute.

Responding to complaints about supposed rude election officers and “disorganized” registration procedures on Twitter, Brillantes said the public must know that the Comelec only has two to three employees per office handling about 500 last-minute registrants a day.

“Believe me, our election officers are trying their best,” he answered one complainant. “It (last-minute registration) has been anticipated but I don’t tolerate the ‘mańana (do it later) habit.’ We’ve been open for registration for too long—16 long months,” he added.

In reply to another complainant, Brillantes said, “Had you registered earlier, we could have accommodated you the way you want to be accommodated.” With a report from Julie M. Aurelio

Sam Miguel
10-30-2012, 10:32 AM
Comelec DQs Mikey Arroyo's Ang Galing Pinoy

By Dennis Carcamo

The Philippine Star

Updated October 30, 2012 10:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections on Tuesday announced the disqualification of two more party-list groups, including Ang Galing Pinoy represented by the son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Mikey Arroyo.

Aside from Ang Galing Pinoy, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.also said the poll body en banc also denied the accreditation of Ang Alam partylist group, a radio report said.

Brillantes said that both partylist groups do not represent a marginalized sector, the report added.

He noted that Ang Alam does not have a track record prior to seeking the accreditation to run in the 2013 elections.

Earlier, Ang Alam accused two poll Commissioners of asking for P5 million in exchange for the accreditation.

Sam Miguel
10-30-2012, 10:35 AM
Alien? Aga wants DQ petition junked

By Shiela Crisistomo

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 30, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Actor Ariel “Aga” Muhlach yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to junk a petition for disqualification filed against him “for its utter lack of merit” and for violating his constitutional rights.

In an affidavit that he personally filed with the Comelec, Muhlach said the petition of one Gilmar Pacamarra, of Barangay San Antonio, San Jose, Camarines Sur, also violates the “constitutional provision that ‘bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination’.”

“The petition amounts to nothing more than politically motivated harassment by the petitioner and his principals, and is clearly an attempt to fabricate an issue that will taint the otherwise untarnished image of the respondent,” the petition stated.

Muhlach was accompanied by his wife, television host Charlene Gonzales, and his lawyer Romulo Macalintal. He is running for congressman of the fourth district of Camarines Sur under the Liberal Party.

Pacamarra had sought Muhlach’s disqualification on the ground that he made “false material representation” in his certificate of candidacy that he is a Filipino citizen when in fact he is holding dual citizenship, including Spanish.

According to Macalintal, the petitioner was misleading Comelec that Muhlach undertook the application process to acquire his Spanish citizenship.

“These allegations are absolutely false. It is petitioner who is making false material representation in the instant petition. The truth is that respondent never claimed that he acquired Spanish citizenship by origin,” he noted.

Sam Miguel
10-30-2012, 10:36 AM
It's final: 32 vying for 12 Senate slots

By Sheila Crisostomo

(The Philippine Star)

Updated October 30, 2012 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - It’s final: 32 candidates will slug it out for the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in the 2013 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

“There will be 32 senatorial candidates. We are now signing the resolution (on this),” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said in an ambush interview.

The candidates are Juan Edgardo Angara (Laban); Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal and Ramon Magsaysay Jr. (Liberal Party); Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV and Cynthia Villar (Nacionalista Party); Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan) and Sen. Aquilino Martin Pimentel III (PDP-Laban), all under the Malacańang-backed LP coalition.

The candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) are Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay, Margarita Cojuangco, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Ernesto Maceda, Maria Milagros Esperanza Magsaysay, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Juan Ponce Enrile Jr. (Nationalist People’s Coalition).

The LP and UNA have three common candidates – Loren Legarda (NPC) and independent bets Francis Joseph Escudero and Maria Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

The other senatorial candidates are Greco Antonious Beda Belgica, son of former Manila councilor Butch Belgica; Baldomero Falcone, and Christian Seńeres, son of former ambassador Roy Seńeres, who are all running under the Democratic Party, the newest political party accredited by the Comelec.

Ang Kapatiran’s John Carlos de Los Reyes, Marwil Llasos, and Rizalito David; Makabayan’s Teodoro Casińo and Social Justice Society’s Samson Alcantara, are also among the 32 senatorial bets. Meanwhile, the independent candidates are Edward Hagedorn, Ramon Montańo and Ricardo Penson. Brillantes noted that there will be no candidate from the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

“Many of them have been withdrawn and those who were left as independent candidates are considered nuisance because they are not known,” he said.

Founded by the late former President Ferdinand Marcos, KBL is now beset by internal rift among its leaders.

Sam Miguel
11-05-2012, 10:24 AM
Ang Galing Pinoy and Akbayan

By Rina Jimenez-David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:43 pm | Thursday, November 1st, 2012

NEWS THAT Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP), the party-list group whose representative in Congress is Mikey Arroyo, has been stripped of its accreditation by the Commission on Elections brings to mind the saying “How the mighty have fallen.”

If there is one enduring image of Arroyo, eldest child of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it is of him standing in the front portion of the House Session Hall, just below the podium, his arms crossed across his chest while a vote was being taken on whether to oust Joe de Venecia from the speakership.

Ostensibly, De Venecia was being held to account for “loss of confidence,” with representatives raising such issues as his failure to appoint enough Mindanao lawmakers to juicy posts or cornering the majority of congressional funds for his favorite causes. But everyone knew the real reason for the vote: De Venecia’s support for his son Joey, who had been a “whistle-blower” in the NBN-ZTE case, implicating Mike Arroyo, the then President’s husband and Mikey’s father, in the anomalous deal.

There Mikey stood, imperious and glaring at every lawmaker announcing his/her vote, seemingly taking mental notes on who voted for or against the once-powerful Speaker. There was little doubt about who held the reins of power in that hall that afternoon, and even after Prospero Nograles took over from De Venecia, everyone knew he bent to the will of GMA, and everyone knew, as well, who enforced the President’s will in the House.

Mikey abandoned his post as representative of the second district of Pampanga to give way to his mother in the 2010 elections. But he found a place in the House by running (and winning) as the first nominee of AGP, which on paper sought to represent security guards and tricycle drivers, a rank absurdity since Mikey had never worked as a “blue guard” and drove only fancy SUVs, as far as anyone knew.

* * *

IT’S a mystery why AGP was ever accredited by the Comelec for the 2010 party-list elections. But at least the Comelec today has found the gumption—if not the common sense—to de-list AGP, even if Mikey declares now that he is bowing out of politics.

Interesting, certainly, are the reasons cited by the Comelec for disqualifying AGP—for one, the “lone bill” filed in the House by Arroyo on the welfare of security guards, which has been languishing at the committee level.

The bill has just gone past first reading, and its slow progress through the committee level, said the Comelec, “was either a sign of ‘sheer laziness’ or a ‘glaring lack of empathy’ for the plight of the truly marginalized.”

Second was the apparent lack of interest of AGP’s leaders to defend its accreditation before the poll body. None of the party’s hierarchy bothered to show up at a hearing last August, with the Comelec coming to the conclusion that the party “purposely boycotted a lawful order of the Commission en banc or it is not at all interested in fighting for the cause of the sectors that it is seeking to represent.”

Well, it would be strange, indeed, for the once-powerful Mikey Arroyo to come to the defense of AGP when he has already milked every advantage from his affiliation with it. Also, he’s facing graver charges, tax evasion being one of them, and he no longer has time or energy for security guards and drivers.

* * *

WHICH brings us to what some critics call “the new Ang Galing Pinoy,” which is nothing but the “old” party-list group Akbayan.

Akbayan has won every election it ran in, and now has two sitting representatives: Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao. In 2010, Akbayan threw its name and its numbers behind the candidacy of Sen. Noynoy Aquino. That decision has reaped many advantages for the party, including having its leaders named to key posts in the Aquino administration, but we must remember that in 2010 a P-Noy victory was still very much a matter of speculation.

True, the death of President Cory Aquino, an event met with an outpouring of public sympathy, gave her senator-son a tremendous and wholly unexpected boost. So much so that the Liberal Party, which was then backing Sen. Mar Roxas for president, began to look to Noynoy as a “winnable” alternative. The decision was cemented after Roxas gallantly stepped down from his candidacy.

But before P-Noy accepted the challenge, the presidential field had been dominated by another senator, Manny Villar, running under the resuscitated Nacionalista Party. Villar threw his considerable wealth and seemingly invincible machinery into his campaign. And that included courting the strangest of bedfellows, including some party-list groups that now count among the most vociferous critics of Akbayan.

* * *

NO DOUBT Akbayan’s gamble paid off. Risa Hontiveros, who served three terms as Akbayan representative in the House, is today part of the Liberal Party coalition ticket (which includes, ironically, former congresswoman Cynthia Villar) for the Senate. This, after Risa’s heartbreaking 13th place in 2010. And as mentioned previously, many Akbayan officers have been appointed to government posts.

Does this make Akbayan a party in the mold of AGP? Akbayan registered and was accredited as a “multisectoral party,” and its own record in the House bears out its commitment to the welfare of marginalized sectors—farmers, women, sexual minorities, among others—and its staunch defense and progressive stance on issues like human rights, the environment and national interest.

Maybe a party-list group’s ties to the marginalized should be judged not just on the class origins of its membership or leadership but also on the party’s record of performance on behalf of the people it seeks to represent. And on that score, Akbayan passes with flying colors.

Sam Miguel
11-05-2012, 10:39 AM
18 lawmakers don’t have challengers

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:54 pm | Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Election hopefuls running unopposed in the 2013 midterm balloting cannot be too confident of their victory, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Those running without rivals could only be declared winners until someone actually voted for them, reminded Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr.

He said these candidates must remind their supporters during the designated campaign season, which is three months prior the elections, to still vote for them on Election Day.

“Even if they are unopposed candidates, we need to open at least one ballot box before proclaiming the winners,” said Brillantes in an interview with reporters as he explained that the election body still needed to have a record of votes for these unchallenged candidates.

Under an automated election, the Comelec would have to wait for data from one precinct to be transmitted before it could proclaim an unchallenged candidate a winner. But such candidate needs only one vote to win, said Brillantes.

At least 640 aspirants have filed their certificates of candidacy to participate in the congressional derby next year. Of these, 18 are running unchallenged, including incumbent Representatives Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani, Rodolfo Farińas of Ilocos Norte and Enrique Cojuangco of Tarlac.

The other unopposed candidates are Representatives Josephine Lacson-Noel of Malabon, Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David of Manila, Marcelino Reyes of Marikina, Jose Christopher Belmonte of Quezon City, Maria Rachel Arenas of Pangasinan, Dakila Cua of Quirino province, Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, Gerald Anthony Gullas of Cebu, Maria Carmen Zamora and Rommel Amatong of Compostela Valley, Erple John Amante of Agusan del Norte, Joseph Gilbert Violago and Joseph Francisco of Nueva Ecija, and Joel Roy and Isidro Rodriguez Jr. of Rizal.

Sam Miguel
11-06-2012, 08:40 AM
Crusade vs political dynasties launched

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:14 am | Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

A little-known contractor who has convinced election officials he is not a “nuisance” candidate for senator has his eyes set on ending political dynasties.

Ricardo Penson, 60, on Monday launched in a news conference what he called Krusada Kontra Dynasty, or Kontra, and challenged fellow senatorial candidates to sign a pact that would end a few families’ dominance of the country’s political landscape.

The president and CEO of Ausphil Tollways Corp., a proponent of the Katipunan (C5)-La Mesa-San Jose del Monte-Norzagaray tollway project, urged like-minded groups, the Catholic Church and individuals to join his movement.

Penson said he was strongly against dynasts as they are involved in “unprincipled party-switching” or “turncoatism” for convenience, reducing political parties to nothing more than a vehicle for the ambitions of powerful political clans.

“Dynasties provide a clout to amass more wealth to secure enduring political power wherein such wealth coupled with traditional politics of patronage gives its members, no matter how unqualified, incontestable edge,” he said.

Penson was one of the five candidates allowed to participate in the Senate derby after they were able to convince the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in a hearing last month that they were not “nuisance” candidates and they had the capacity to launch a nationwide campaign.

“As our crusade flourishes, we will be able to strengthen the belief that ordinary people can do what our lawmakers cannot do,” said Penson, whose mother is a second cousin of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Lagdameo Jr.’s father.

It is time for Filipino voters to realize that there is no need for a lawmaker to share the small chambers of the Senate or Congress with a sister or a brother, he said.

“Let us not be party to a mechanism to provide legitimacy to a select few, an illusion of change every three years. If we allow them to prosper again, expect the present and future congresses to be mere rubber stamps to favor oligarchs and the corporate elite they serve,” he added.

In the covenant he signed and sent to the 31 other senatorial aspirants, Penson urged the candidates to commit to genuine democratic reform and vow to abandon personal motives in favor of the public good.

Dynasty candidates

The pact also exhorted all senatorial candidates to work for the enactment of a law prohibiting political dynasties, citing Article 2, Section 26 of the Constitution, which provides that “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

The covenant also said that the signatories who failed to craft and pass an enabling law banning dynasties would mean their resignation from the Senate.

“Do away with political dynasties and we begin a future with positive and constructive steps to people empowerment,” said Penson.

The majority of senatorial contenders from the Liberal Party-led ruling coalition and the United Nationalist Alliance are considered part of political families.

Among them are President Aquino’s cousin Bam and his aunt Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco; Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter, Nancy; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s son, Jackie; Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s half-brother, JV; Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay and former Sen. Jun Magsaysay.

Sam Miguel
11-06-2012, 08:41 AM
Cagayan election registrar decries treatment by Enrile

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:54 am | Monday, November 5th, 2012

TUGUEGARAO CITY—The election officer of Santa Ana, Cagayan, on Sunday bewailed what she called the “unkind treatment” she received at the hands of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his nephew, Jose Mari Ponce, on the last day for voter registration on Oct. 31.

In a telephone interview, Edna Tacazon, 61, said that Enrile, in her presence, called up Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to have her removed from her post when she “was just doing her job.”

“Boy, I want this girl out of my district,” Tacazon quoted Enrile as telling Brillantes. “Boy” is Brillantes’ nickname.

Ponce, administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, allegedly threatened to sue Tacazon for refusing his request to register two women at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday—nearly six hours past the 3 p.m. registration cutoff time.

“He pointed at me and said he would sue me. I said I would welcome it because it is his right to do so,” Tacazon said.

Santa Ana government employees said that Enrile, who was on vacation at a family resort at Gotan beach in the town, arrived at the town hall at around 2 p.m. and was greeted by about 200 people awaiting enlistment.

Enrile, they said, proceeded to the Comelec office and confronted Tacazon about reports that she had refused to give out registration forms to would-be registrants.

“Senator Enrile dialed his phone and asked the person on the other line to transfer me, and then he handed me the phone. It turned out it was our chairman (Brillantes),” Tacazon said.

She said she explained to Brillantes that it was simply taking a long time to register all the people because of the last-day rush and they had only one computer.

She said that before Enrile left, he told her: “Ayusin mo buhay mo. Huwag kang mamumulitika (Get yourself right. Don’t play politics).”

In a phone interview, Enrile confirmed the confrontation, saying that barangay (village) officials had rushed to Gotan beach to report that Tacazon was refusing to give out registration forms.

Enrile said word reached him that Mayor (Darwin) Tobias suspected that those in line were going to vote for his opponent and allegedly ordered the registration forms not be distributed.

He said he learned that Tacazon had a son who would be running under the mayor’s ticket and an assistant whose husband was running for a local post in Santa Ana.

Ponce denied demanding that two women be registered that night.

“I went to the Comelec office to check on the outcome of the last day of registration on the instructions of the Senate President. On the way, I met these two young ladies who said they had been waiting since morning but still failed to register,” he said. Reports from Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Cathy Yamsuan

Sam Miguel
11-06-2012, 08:42 AM
Senator Angara: Taxpayers should fund elections

By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:24 am | Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Taxpayers should fund the country’s political parties instead of rich campaign donors so that politicians would not be beholden to vested interest groups, a senator said on Saturday.

Sen. Edgardo Angara again called on his colleagues to pass his version of the House bill seeking to strengthen the political party system, saying that its provision on a multimillion-peso state subsidy for national political parties would make elections fairer and more equitable.

Angara’s Senate Bill No. 3214 proposes, among other things, the creation of a P350-million state subsidy fund which accredited national political parties could use for their poll campaigns and other operations like civic education, research and policy development, recruitment and training for members.

“On one hand, the fund can be used to professionalize and enhance the operations of political parties. On the other, it empowers them to truly represent the interests of their constituents rather than remain beholden to private contributors,” Angara said in a statement.

“The underlying principle there is that a country’s politics can be developed and made more equitable if the state supports political organizations with their campaigns and finances,” he said.

Angara said that by providing funds to political parties as a neutral third party, “the state provides baseline support to political parties and eases their need to turn to moneyed personalities for funding.

Both the House and Senate versions of the political party reform bill also penalize political turncoats or those who defect from one political party to another by banning them from running in the next election.

The House of Representatives has passed its version of the bill on third and final reading. The Senate version, on the other hand, has been the subject of a committee report sponsored in the plenary by Angara in August.

Senate Bill No. 3214 is authored by Angara and Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Franklin Drilon and Jinggoy Estrada.

Angara, who prides himself on being the longest-serving senator in the post-Edsa years, said government funding for political parties were common features in many countries with mature democracies like Canada, Germany, Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“In 2008, the United States government allotted $16.3 million for its political parties, while the United Kingdom grants Ł2 million annually,” Angara said.

Under the Senate version, the subsidy will be shared proportionately among accredited national parties based on three broad criteria: Political representation, organizational strength and mobilization capability, and performance and track record of the party.

11-08-2012, 11:02 AM
Comelec execs face Senate on partylist, political dynasty

By Maila Ager


10:54 am | Thursday, November 8th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines— Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and other commissioners of the Commission on Elections appeared in Thursday’s hearing at the Senate on partylist and political dynasty.

Senator Panfilo Lacson called Brillantes “arrogant” after he and the commissioners did not show up when the Senate committee on electoral reforms held its first hearing last Oct. 23, 2012.

Lacson’s statement stemmed Brillantes’ reported comment that the Senate had nothing to do with the decisions of the poll body about the partylist system.

Brillantes immediately apologized to Lacson, which the senator accepted.

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona was also present during Thursday’s hearing.

11-08-2012, 11:03 AM
Comelec OKs disabled party but disqualifies anti-rebel group

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:45 am | Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the first party-list organization eligible to vie for congressional seats in next year’s balloting—a group calling itself Pilipinos with Disabilities (PWD).

“They are represented by Filipinos, all of them are disabled—their members and all their nominees,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a press conference Wednesday.

“Right now, we don’t have the representation of the disabled. This is the first one and we hope they will be able to win,” he added.

The PWD nominees were identified as Michael Barredo, Manuel Agcaoili, Adeline Ancheta, Octavio Gonzales and Luis Arellano.

Brillantes also announced that 19 more party-list groups purportedly representing anticommunists, coconut farmers, the urban poor, mining advocates and indigenous peoples were officially dropped from the May 2013 elections.

This brings to 69 the number of party-list organizations, among 200 being reviewed, disqualified from the balloting. Those delisted include 45 existing party-list groups.

The 19 disqualified on Wednesday were merely “advocacy” groups rather than sectoral representatives, Brillantes said.

In a separate interview, Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the groups had failed to pass the test using the eight guidelines in the Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case.

“Their nominees do not belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector and most of the groups have no track record showing that they worked for the marginalized and underrepresented,” Sarmiento said.

Anticommunist group

One of those disqualified was the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad), an anticommunist group said to be linked to the military. It is currently represented by Pastor Alcover Jr. in Congress. It polled 297,984 votes in the 2010 elections.

In a document submitted to the Comelec, election watchdog Kontra Daya claimed that Anad was an “adjunct of the government,” supposedly receiving funding and support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Kontra Daya listed Alcover as among the multimillionaires in Congress with a net worth of P5.45 million in his 2011 statement of assets and liabilities.

A similar party-list group, Bantay, formerly represented by fugitive retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, was delisted by the Comelec last month.

Others delisted

Brillantes said the Comelec en banc also unanimously voted to cancel the accreditation of the following existing party-list groups:

Philippine Coconut Producers Federation Inc. (Cocofed); Alliance of Advocates in Mining Advancement for National Progress (Aama); Bayani; Abang Lingkod Inc.; Ang Agrikultura Natin Isulong (Aani); Aagapay ng Indigenous Peoples Rights Alliance Inc. (A-Ipra); Alliance for Mindanao Elders (Ame); Greenforce; Firm 24-K Association Inc.; Action League of Indigenous Masses (Alim); Alma sa Pagkahikahos at Ignoransiya (Alma); Kaunlaran ng Agrikultura, Asensadong Probinsya, Angat ng Bayan (Kaagapay); and the Social Movement for Active Reform and Transparency.

Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran (Kabaka) and the Alliance of Bicolnon Party, which were allowed to run in the 2010 elections, have also been disqualified.

But Brillantes said the two groups were being retained as political parties so they could field candidates in the regular elections next year. He noted that Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing was running under Kabaka as a political party.

The Comelec also denied the registration for the 2013 elections of aspiring party-list groups Kalikasan Green Party of the Philippines (Kalikasan), A-Seamariners and the Education Development Services for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Edsa).

Kalikasan listed Raymond Palatino, incumbent representative of Kabataan, as its first nominee.

Black and White

The Comelec’s first division likewise denied the Black and White’s petition for registration as a regional political party under the party-list system.

In a 12-page resolution, the First Division headed by Sarmiento stated that its track record has shown that Black and White was primarily a group advocating good government. The group listed Leah Navarro, Marco Cabrera, Jose Morales, Mary Shinn Ramos and Nolasco Apolonio as its nominees.

“While it may have involved women, urban poor and youth in this advocacy, their involvement is merely incidental to the advocacy for good governance,” it said.

“In this petition, the Commission is tasked to determine whether Black and White, as a political party through its track record, represents and seeks to uplift the marginalized sectors of women, urban poor and youth,” it stated.

Kontra Daya earlier noted that Black and White’s members had been appointed to various positions in the Aquino administration.

They include Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

11-08-2012, 11:08 AM
Court excludes Aga, Charlene from CamSur town voters’ list

By Juan Escandor Jr.

Inquirer Southern Luzon

5:23 pm | Monday, November 5th, 2012

NAGA CITY, Philippines–A local court in Camarines Sur has ordered the exclusion of actor Aga Muhlach and spouse Charlene from the list of new voters of San Jose town, a court decision obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer showed.

In a decision dated Oct. 25, Judge Ricky Begino of the San Jose-Presentacion, Camarines Sur Municipal Circuit Trial Court said the actor, who is eyeing a seat in Congress to represent the fourth district of Camarines Sur, failed to comply with the residency required of a registered voter as cited by the Commission on Elections Resolution No 9149.

In his decision, Begino cited a document “Answer with Omnibus Motion to Rectify Error and to Grant the Petition” submitted in court by the Election Registration Board (ERB) of San Jose town composed of chairman Rosendo C. Vales and Palmetto P. Valencia and Myrna C. Pacamara as members.

The document essentially asked the MCTC to “rectify the error” made by the ERB when the latter approved the registration of Aga and Charlene on Sept. 28.

According to the ERB, Aga and Charlene “could not be residents of Rizal Street, San Juan, San Jose, Camarines Sur having failed to meet the requirement of six months residence in said place prior to their registration on March 19, 2012 and they had filed their voter application on the disallowed period pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 9149.”

Francisco Dizon, Edgar Malate, Crispin Imperial, Ferdinand Fernando and Felix Monasterio were the petitioners referred to by the ERB who had asked the MCTC to deny Aga and Charlene’s application as duly registered voters of San Jose town.

Dizon had testified before the MCTC that since 2007, he never noticed the presence Aga and Charlene in San Jose town. According to Dizon, he lives in a house adjacent to the house owned by Cesar Chavez, which the Muhlachs supposedly had leased since August 2011.

The testimony of Dizon was corroborated by other petitioners and dozens of witnesses who said the Muhlachs have not been residents of San Jose.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, counsel of Aga and Charlene, said the MCTC’s decision was “highly questionable” and he would appeal to the Regional Trail Court (RTC) in San Jose.

“I don’t know how a voter like Aga Muhlach could be excluded from the list just because he registered earlier than May 12, 2012,” said Macalintal.

Macalintal said the Comelec resolution was only “directory” because the Comelec has been urging voters to register early so Aga and Charlene registered early, “something which the Comelec had accepted and eventually included them in the voters list.”

The ERB “cannot undo what they have done … and Aga and Charlene are denied of their right to be heard when the ERB made the reversed decision submitted to the MCTC through an omnibus motion,” said Macalintal.

Macalintal added the filing of the petition to exclude Aga and Charlene from the list of voters at MCTC was “fatally defective” because it did not contain the certification of non-forum shopping that he said is required in all petitions filed.

11-08-2012, 11:08 AM
^ Naman kasi. Dude seriously, just because you wind surf and wake board there doesn't mean you are from there.

11-08-2012, 01:01 PM

11-09-2012, 09:48 AM
Senate passed antipolitical dynasty bill in 1987

By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:19 am | Friday, November 9th, 2012

The Senate in the first Congress established after the Edsa Revolt passed an antipolitical dynasty measure drafted shortly after the ratification of the 1987 Constitution that called for such a move, the author of the measure told the Senate committee on electoral reforms Thursday.

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., a senator in the 8th Congress and the author of Senate Bill No. 82 in 1987, said that a week after the Senate approved his antidynasty bill, a House leader told him that the chamber would not approve the measure.

“The bill passed the Senate. Sixteen votes affirmative, four votes against and one abstention. It can be done through legislation. The problem was in the House,” Guingona disclosed.

“After one week, someone from the rules committee of the House of Representatives came to see me and explained that there were so many inter-relatives among the congressmen that it would be next to impossible to have it successfully approved in the House so they would have to just put it aside,” he added.

Guingona said he told the congressman, who would later become senator, that the Senate could do nothing else about the antidynasty measure if the House would not pass it.

“We believe that after 25 years, the problem has gotten worse instead of getting better,” Guingona told the committee, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

Guingona, 84, the father and namesake of incumbent Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, made the remarks as the Pimentel panel continued its hearings on the lone antidynasty bill filed in the Senate in the 15th Congress. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago authored the proposal.

At the hearing, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he believed that the only way an antidynasty measure could be enacted into law was through a people’s initiative, suggesting that Congress—with members of political families as lawmakers—could not be expected to do it.

Pimentel said he intended to bring the hearings on the anti-dynasty bill to provinces that have been dominated by political clans for generations. He mentioned Zamboanga del Norte in Mindanao and Nueva Ecija in Luzon.

Guingona, in a petition, has asked the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution’s antidynasty provision with the objective of spurring Congress to enact an enabling law.

Guingona’s account regarding the first antidynasty bill echoed Sen. Sergio Osmeńa III’s own experience with an antidynasty bill getting foiled by the House.

Osmeńa earlier told reporters that a committee report on an antidynasty bill had been prepared during the 10th Congress but the House leadership had sent word that Senate approval would not be of much use as the bill would not be approved in the House.

“Don’t send us that bill. It will never pass the House. So we just shelved it rather than pass it and embarrass the House for not passing their version,” Osmeńa said.

Brillantes told the committee of his personal preference for an absolute ban on relatives running for office at the same time.

“I hope there would be an absolute prohibition. If you have a relative in the government, you can’t run for office until he or she retires,” Brillantes said.

“I would rather go into the initiative issue and follow the initiative, where the people themselves would be passing the law themselves,” he added.

Brillantes said he plans to spearhead an initiative for an antidynasty law if no such law had been enacted after he retires from the Comelec.

11-09-2012, 09:50 AM
Family feud rocks Estrada dynasty

By Cathy C. Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:20 am | Friday, November 9th, 2012

The controversy over political dynasties took a dramatic turn Thursday with the outbreak of a dispute involving two sons of former President Joseph Estrada.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada released a statement Thursday saying he was “deeply hurt” that his younger half-brother, San Juan Rep. Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito Estrada, discussed their long-rumored “rift” in an interview with reporters during a provincial trip last month.

Jinggoy said he believed JV was now bringing their rather uncomfortable relationship to the fore to create publicity for his run for the Senate next year.

JV is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). He decided to use the surname “Estrada” instead of “Ejercito” after the name change bolstered his ranking in the polls.

Estrada is the screen name of Jinggoy’s and JV’s father, the former President who was a movie action hero before going into politics. Estrada’s real last name is Ejercito.

Jinggoy was also a movie actor before he ran for the Senate and won in 2004.

Former President Estrada is running for mayor of Manila next year, challenging reelectionist Alfredo Lim.

If he makes it, JV will join Jinggoy as the second Estrada in the Senate. The brothers will work with siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano if Alan Peter’s bid for reelection is successful. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s son, Cagayan Rep. Jackie Enrile, is also running for the Senate. If he is successful, there will be two Enriles in the chamber.

Jinggoy himself shared three years with his mother Loi in the Senate, where she served from 2001 to 2007.

Senate insiders said JV’s name change did not sit well with Jinggoy, who, for the longest time, was the only son of the former President using the name Estrada. His mother, Luisa “Loi” Ejercito, also used his father’s screen surname when she ran for the Senate and won in 2001.

“I have never been a party to what others regard as sibling rivalry… I am very upset and deeply hurt over… (JV’s) efforts to generate publicity… at my expense,” Jinggoy said.

Tepid relationship

Jinggoy admitted to a “tepid relationship” that he said “is perhaps understandable considering our family’s circumstances.”

Jinggoy and siblings Jackie and Jude are Estrada’s children by Loi, a psychiatrist whom the former President met while doing odd jobs at National Mental Hospital.

JV is Estrada’s only child by former movie starlet Guia Gomez, now the mayor of San Juan City. JV is often heard claiming he is Estrada’s favorite child.

San Juan has been an Ejercito-Estrada stronghold since 1970s, when the former President was its mayor. Jinggoy’s turn at the helm in the then San Juan town came in 1992 and he served up to 2001. JV took over in 2001 and served up to 2010.

Attached to Jinggoy’s statement to Senate reporters was a hard copy of the interview that JV gave during a visit to Bacolod City in late October.

The congressman was quoted as saying he expected his entry into the Senate “to be exciting,” as it could provide “a check and balance” in the chamber.

There was no explanation given for the remark.

An open book

JV also said his relationship with his older brother was “an open book” and that “the public knows [about] our rift.”

The congressman said although he and Jinggoy were “not buddy-buddy or textmates,” they were civil to each other at gatherings.

JV added that one of their father’s frustrations was that his two political heirs were not able to thresh things out even when they saw each other regularly during his incarceration for plunder.

The congressman said their common love for their father was the only reason no hostilities had erupted between them so far.

This early, Jinggoy preempted all expectations of fisticuffs or a full-blown word war over JV’s comments.

“Any statement insinuating hostility… is far-fetched and very unfortunate,” Jinggoy said.

“I admit that we may not agree and even argue on some social and political issues… (T)his does not mean that we have to be at each other’s throats at all times, though it seems that my brother thinks otherwise,” he said.

No fireworks

Jinggoy said JV should not expect his elder brother to initiate fireworks between them in case the congressman moves to his turf next year.

“If (JV) happens to be elected senator and there comes a time when there is something to point out (regarding) legislative work or sociopolitical concerns, I will carry out the task as a seasoned legislator and as a statesman considering that my brother is a younger colleague,” Jinggoy said.

The senator assured his brother that he can “rise above any petty and unjust remarks against me from my own brother.”

“I sincerely hope that as a senatorial aspirant who I look forward to being a colleague in the Senate, he can do the same,” Jinggoy said.

He said his father did not know about his issuing a statement to the press, but he expected him to talk to him and JV soon.

11-13-2012, 01:06 PM
People’s action up vs political dynasties

By Philip C. Tubeza, Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:35 am | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Two political parties on Monday called for the holding of a people’s initiative to end political dynasties in the country, with one party warning it would go to the Supreme Court if the authorities dragged their feet.

Ang Kapatiran and Social Justice Society (SJS) parties said a people’s initiative for the adoption of a law prohibiting political dynasties should start now.

A people’s initiative is a constitutional method by which citizens may propose amendments to the Constitution or to a law. It needs the backing of 10 or 12 percent of the total number of registered voters, depending on whether the target of the amendment is a law or the Constitution.

The 1987 Constitution prohibits political dynasties but Congress has yet to pass an enabling law to implement this.

Supreme Court option

Norman Cabrera, Ang Kapatiran secretary general, said his group had already prepared a people’s initiative to ban political dynasties but it could not start gathering signatures because the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to prescribe the proper form of such a petition.

He warned that Ang Kapatiran would seek redress from the Supreme Court if the Comelec dragged its feet.

“Although we already have a draft petition, we cannot begin the signature campaign until the Comelec prescribes its form,” Cabrera said in an interview.

“We cannot start gathering signatures because we might then be stopped with technicalities at the middle or at the end of the signature campaign because, certainly, many groups will be against this,” he added.

Other initiatives

Cabrera said Ang Kapatiran wrote the Comelec legal department as early as April but the Comelec said it had yet to prescribe the proper form of such an initiative.

He said Ang Kapatiran wrote Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. last month to follow up the matter but he has yet to reply.

“We are now contemplating filing a case in the Supreme Court for it to compel the Comelec to act,” he said.

Cabrera said that if the people’s initiative to enact a law banning political dynasties was passed, similar initiatives could be launched to pass a Freedom of Information Act or a law imposing a gun ban.

First step

The SJS, while welcoming Brillantes’ recent announcement about his plan to lead a people’s initiative against political dynasties when his term at Comelec ends in March 2015, said it had already begun preparations for an initiative.

SJS president Samson Alcantara said his party had started gathering signatures for the initiative from its supporters in the education sector.

“We have already commenced our signature gathering and we aim to finish in one year. But we are willing to follow his (Brillantes’) lead. The journey to the end of the tunnel starts with one first step. The SJS can prepare the way,” Alcantara told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Senate aspirants

The SJS, founded in 2001, is a group of lawyers that previously gained attention by pushing for the closure of the Pandacan oil depot in Manila.

Ang Kapatiran, accredited as a national political party in May 2004, aims to promote what it calls “the politics of virtue.” It fielded senatorial candidates in 2007 but none of them won. In 2010, it fielded John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes in the presidential race but he lost.

Both De los Reyes and Alcantara are running for the Senate in next year’s midterm elections. Ang Kapatiran and SJS hope to make the public debate on political dynasties a campaign issue while collecting signatures for their initiatives.

Need to act

De los Reyes said in an online interview that Ang Kapatiran was still waiting for Comelec’s go-signal on the prescribed form for a people’s initiative against dynasties.

“We have a petition sent six months ago that will get the ball rolling as soon as possible. In their reply letter, they (Comelec) made a commitment to work on it,” De los Reyes said.

De los Reyes said that if the initiative were conducted in 2015—when Brillantes shall have retired—then the plebiscite for it might be held in 2016, meaning political dynasties would still be allowed to field candidates in next year’s and in the 2016 elections.

“[Brillantes’] retirement is his private matter,” De los Reyes said. “What we are asking is [a matter] of public interest. They are mandated under the law to come up with a prescribed form. We won’t start without it as we want our initiative to be fail-safe. We don’t want our efforts to go down the drain because of technicalities.”

11-13-2012, 01:07 PM
Ako Bicol cites need to hurry SC decision

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:33 am | Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Citing “several public holidays” including the Christmas break, a former Supreme Court (SC) justice has asked the high tribunal to act with “extreme urgency” and stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from disqualifying the Ako Bicol party-list group (AKB).

Retired SC Justice and AKB lead counsel Vicente Mendoza has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a temporary restraining order or writ of injunction against the Comelec’s Oct. 10 order that removed the AKB from the list of accredited party-list groups for the 2013 midterm elections.

“The onset of several public holidays in the coming months, including the looming Christmas break, inserts added urgency since said holidays lessen the time to resolve these issues, effectively depriving petitioner AKB of a fair chance to prepare for a nationwide campaign,” Mendoza said.

He added that the Comelec was scheduled to finalize its list of candidates between Dec. 2 and 31, with the ballots to be formatted between Jan. 20 and April 23 next year.

Although the SC is scheduled to resume its en banc session today with the AKB petition on its agenda, Mendoza said the high court will go on a Christmas break next month and return to work on Jan. 7, just two weeks before the ballots will be printed. Gil Cabacungan

Sam Miguel
11-15-2012, 08:52 AM
15 party-list groups vent their ire on Bayan Muna

By Christian V. Esguerra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:28 am | Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Is it now Bayan Muna against the world?

The militant party-list group has found itself on the defensive following a rather unusual protest staged by at least 15 other organizations with representatives now sitting in the House of Representatives.

An Waray and company simultaneously “closed” their offices at the Batasang Pambansa Tuesday to protest Bayan Muna’s campaign to disqualify fellow party-list organizations for allegedly not representing marginalized sectors.

Posted on the door of Yacap Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez’s office was a note saying: “For solicitations, please proceed to the office of Bayan Muna party-list.”

The one posted on the door of An Waray Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel was much longer, saying the group was “temporarily” stopping its medical, scholarship and other programs for the poor “because of allegations by the Bayan Muna group that our party-list (group) is not really providing service.”

An Waray instructed those seeking assistance to proceed to the offices of Bayan Muna Representatives Teodoro Casińo and Neri Colmenares so the group would be given “the opportunity to prove that it is the only one that helps.”

In an interview with the Inquirer, Noel said the move was meant to send a message to Bayan Muna: “You don’t have the monopoly of helping others. Without us, what would you do?”

Told about the protest, Casińo said the criticism that An Waray was getting was “par for the course,” especially with the coming midterm elections.

“My appeal to them is to take it in stride. This is part of the election season. Each party-list group will try to get votes for itself, but services and constituents should not suffer. We at Bayan Muna would try our best to accommodate (those who will not get help from other party-list groups),” he said in a phone interview.

Noel said the move to suspend assistance came after a meeting among party-list groups on Monday. Among those represented in the meeting were Ako Bicol, Abono, Coop Natco, Agham, Cibac, Alagad, Butil, Anad and Bagong Henerasyon, he said.

Noel suspected that Bayan Muna wanted his group disqualified so it could recover votes from Region 8, an An Waray bailiwick. He said Bayan Muna used to dominate votes in the region until An Waray came into the picture.

Noting that a voter could pick only one group on election day, Casińo said party-list organizations “naturally” compete with one another.

“Understandably, if [another] party-list group wants to get votes, say, from Region 8 which is dominated by An Waray, it would affect the votes of an An Waray,” he said.

But Noel said party-list groups could “coexist.”

“Why don’t they just live and let live? Why do we have to go against one another? They have their own people to help, we also have ours,” he said.

Sam Miguel
11-15-2012, 08:54 AM
8 party-list groups get Supreme Court reprieve

By Christine O. Avendańo, Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:55 am | Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Not four but eight party-list groups, including the one led by ex-convict Romeo Jalosjos Jr., which were earlier barred by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from taking part in next year’s election, got a reprieve from the Supreme Court.

This developed as the Comelec disqualified 10 more party-list organizations claiming to represent government employees, farmers, migrant workers and orphans.

One of them was a group supposedly created by Efraim Genuino, former chairman of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) who faces charges involving irregularities at the state-run casino operator.

But the poll body allowed a group representing Filipino nurses—Ang Nars Inc.—to take part in the May elections.

The Supreme Court en banc on Wednesday released a resolution requiring the Comelec and eight party-list groups to “observe the status quo prevailing” before the poll body issued the resolutions against them.

Kapatiran ng mga Nakakulong ng Walang Sala Inc. of Jalosjos and three others joined Ako Bicol, Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Inc. and Alliance for Rural Concerns, which the media reported on Tuesday got a reprieve from the high court.

The three others were Aksyon Magsasaka-Partido Tinig ng Masa, Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc. and Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership Party-List.

In resolutions it issued on Oct. 10, 11, 16 and 24, the poll body canceled the party-list groups’ registration for various reasons, including not being qualified to represent the marginalized sectors and their questionable nominees. They were barred from taking part in the 2013 elections.

In its decision, the high court en banc said it adopted a resolution the other day that sought the consolidation of the petitions of the eight party-list groups and required the Comelec to comment on the petitions within a “nonextendible” period of 10 days from notice.

The party-list groups sought relief from the Supreme Court, saying the poll body had committed grave abuse of discretion for disqualifying them.

Ang Nars Inc. identified its nominees as Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Lydia Palaypay, Chris Sorongon, Caridad Galban and Anna Marie Acorda-Kapunan.

“They are marginalized professionals [and] all of their nominees are marginalized,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in an interview with reporters.

He said the group was composed of nurses, including the nominees, who have yet to be employed or those who have chosen to stay in the Philippines.

“They represent nurses who are unemployed and also those who are making a sacrifice by staying in the country instead of working abroad,” Brillantes said.

Last week, the Comelec announced that the group Pilipinos with Disabilities was the first official candidate for the party-list elections next year.

Of the 10 party-list groups it disqualified yesterday, two were among those the poll body accredited for the 2010 elections—Action Brotherhood for Active Dreamers Inc. and Abot Tanaw, the group identified with Genuino.

Abot Tanaw claimed to represent overseas Filipino workers and operate social media services to keep migrant workers in touch with their families in the Philippines.

Genuino son-in-law

In a document submitted earlier to the Comelec, poll watchdog Kontra Daya noted that Genuino’s son-in-law, Gerwin See, was named the first nominee of Abot Tanaw in the 2010 elections. The others were said to be Pagcor consultants. But the group failed to win a seat in the previous balloting.

Other groups that failed to get Comelec accreditation were Guardian, Hukbong Querubin Humanitarian Team Inc., Ikaw ang Laging Wagi ng Bayan Inc., Samahang Ilocanong Magsasaka, Aangat Ahon Magsasaka, Guardians of Orphans and Disabled, Una Edukasyon and Courage Government Employees Party-list (Courage).

Hukbong Querubin listed Jose Martin Loon, stepson of former Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, as one of its nominees.

Courage said the Comelec “seriously erred and committed grave abuse of authority” in denying its accreditation as a party-list organization.

“It perplexes us to no end on how they can claim that government employees are not marginalized and therefore do not deserve to have a representative in Congress,” the group said.


The Comelec ruling on Wednesday brought to 79 the number of organizations delisted from the 2013 elections. Brillantes said the Comelec en banc was still looking at some 50 more groups up for disqualification.

The election body started purging the list of 265 groups in September as part of its effort to cleanse the party-list system of sham groups and nominees who are either multimillionaires, relatives of government officials and members of powerful political clans.

The review of groups hoping to participate in next year’s elections was being conducted in light of the Constitution provision on the party-list system, the Party-list System Act and jurisprudence, according to the Comelec.

The election body was also strictly implementing the guidelines enumerated in the Ang Bagong Bayani v. Comelec case.

The decision, written by former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, issued guidelines to ensure that only those who belong to marginalized and underrepresented sectors—labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, professionals and the LGBTs—can run for party-list seats in Congress.

The guidelines said that the political party or sector must represent the marginalized and underrepresented groups identified in the Constitution and that the party or organization must not be “an adjunct of” or a “project organized or an entity funded or assisted by the government.”

It also said that the nominee of a party must represent the marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

Ruling on Akbayan

Brillantes also announced Wednesday that the en banc, composed of him and six election commissioners, had decided on the fate of Akbayan. But he refused to elaborate pending the signing of a formal resolution on the voting.

“We just voted on it… we already have a majority but I won’t preempt [the resolution],” he told reporters. “I am not sure if the vote was 4-3 or 5-2 but I am not announcing what is our decision.”

Akbayan faces two disqualification complaints in the Comelec.

Sam Miguel
11-19-2012, 10:20 AM
Politicians split on declaration of election hot spots

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:53 am | Monday, November 19th, 2012

DAGUPAN CITY—Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, Liberal Party candidate for Pangasinan governor, on Saturday welcomed the inclusion of the province in the list of “high-risk” areas for election violence, saying it “would translate to free elections, with the people free to vote without fear of retaliation from losing candidates.”

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas on Friday declared 15 provinces as “areas of concern” for the 2013 midterm elections as they posed the biggest problems, including loose firearms, armed or threat groups and intense political rivalry.

Aside from Pangasinan, the other provinces are Abra, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.

Roxas said these provinces would get priority in the security preparations for next year’s elections.

But Marino Salas, Pangasinan election supervisor, said the release of the list could be premature.

“We have not received any data that says Pangasinan is an area of concern,” Salas said in a telephone interview on Friday. “One of the grounds [for making that conclusion] is intense political rivalry [and] the history of election-related violent incidents. But as far as we are concerned, it’s still premature,” he said.

Braganza said listing Pangasinan as an area of concern means authorities could speed up the dismantling of armed groups, establish the number of security guards who can accompany a candidate during the campaign and set up checkpoints as a deterrent against the proliferation of firearms.

Placing Pangasinan under the watch list could affect Pangasinan’s image, “but what is more important is at present, the killings must be stopped,” he said. He cited as example the recent killing of the chair of the Association of Barangay Council in Burgos town.

Senior Supt. Mariano Luis Verzosa Jr., Pangasinan police director, welcomed the move because, he said, “if the province is 80 percent peaceful now, it would be 100 percent peaceful because more law enforcers would be assigned to the province.”

In Nueva Ecija, Gov. Aurelio Umali said he has been advocating for the removal of the province from the political “hot spot” list since he was first elected as governor in 2007.

In Ilocos Sur, Senior Supt. Noel Amuyen, provincial police director, said considering the province as a high-risk area could have been based on the previous elections.

But he said next year’s elections should be peaceful because half of the reelectionist mayors in the 32 towns and two cities are running unopposed.

In La Union, Gov. Manuel Ortega Jr. said his administration “supports all efforts to make the coming elections honest, orderly and peaceful.”

“In fact, he (Ortega) has been calling (on the police) to expedite their investigation on recent events to allay fears. He repeatedly expressed confidence that (the police) could keep the province safe from bad elements/groups who are out to disrupt the elections,” said provincial information officer Adamor Dagang.

Last week, civic groups and the police held a rally in Agoo town to denounce the series of murders that took place there recently.

Reports from Yolanda Sotelo, Gabriel Cardinoza and Leoncio Balbin Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon

Sam Miguel
11-20-2012, 08:06 AM
SC tackles today petitions of 7 disqualified party-list groups

By Edu Punay

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) is set to tackle today petitions from seven more party-list groups that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified from next year’s elections.

The groups – Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad), Philippine Guardian Brotherhood Inc. (1Bro-PGBI), Guardians Nationalist Phils. Inc. (1Ganap/Guardians), Agapay ng Indigenous Peoples Rights Alliance Inc. (A-IPRA), Kaagapay ng Nagkakaisang Aguilang Pilipinong Magsasaka (Ako Agila), Alab ng Mamamahayag (Alam) and Bantay – hope to get relief from the high court to be able to join the party-list polls.

They filed their respective petitions over the past week, apparently following the steps taken earlier by eight other groups that were able to secure last week a status quo ante order from the SC enjoining Comelec from implementing its disqualification orders against them.

Just like the earlier petitioners, the seven groups also cited the poll body’s alleged grave abuse of discretion and violation of their right to due process in disqualifying them through its new standard and definition for “marginalized and under-represented sectors.”

Alam, a group of journalists composed of officers of the National Press Club which filed their petition yesterday afternoon, had a unique issue raised before the SC.

The Comelec disqualified the group for lack of track record, but Alam stressed that this issue is a “political question” which is beyond the authority of the poll body.

“In politics, track record is often used to determine the likelihood of how a candidate would perform in office when elected. But it does not mean that a new politician who runs for the first time will not do excellently when voted for,” Alam argued in its petition filed by lawyer Berteni Cataluna Causing.

Sam Miguel
11-21-2012, 09:22 AM
Estrada pardon barred him from running, lawyers say

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:21 am | Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Two private lawyers on Tuesday asked the Sandiganbayan to clarify whether or not the presidential pardon given to former president Joseph Estrada after his conviction for plunder in 2007 allowed him to run for elective office.

Estrada, who ran but lost a presidential bid in 2010, has again filed a certificate of candidacy —this time for mayor of Manila.

In “A Motion for Determination and Interpretation of Judgment in the Plunder Case in Relation to the Conditional Pardon,” lawyers Fernando Perito and Nepthali Aliposa said Estrada may have violated the conditions of the pardon granted by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when he decided to again seek elective position or office.

Estrada was convicted by the Sandiganbayan’s Special Division of plunder on Sept. 12, 2007, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. On Oct. 25, 2007, Arroyo granted executive clemency to Estrada.

In their motion seeking a clarification, the two lawyers quoted one of the paragraphs in the conditional pardon that read: “Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office…In view thereof, and pursuant to the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution, I hereby grant executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political right.”

According to the petitioners, it is clear that the restoration of the civil and political rights of Estrada did not include the right to seek elected position or office.

“The electorate or the people are interested that the issue be resolved once and for all whether or not convicted former president Estrada can still seek elected position,” the motion read.

In 2010, nobody questioned the condition of his pardon when Estrada ran for president, the lawyers noted.

But they said Estrada’s announcement that he would not seek elective or public office again was what must have prompted Arroyo to sign the conditional pardon.

The intent of the conditional pardon was to prohibit the convicted felon from running for public office, they argued.

Perito was among those who had filed disbarment complaints against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for her alleged defiance of the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order on the travel ban issued by her office against Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga.

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 10:50 AM
Some local politicians into hijacking for poll funds, says solon

By Karen Boncocan


10:19 am | Friday, November 23rd, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Some local politicians are allegedly raising campaign funds through syndicates engaged in hijacking fuel tankers, a lawmaker said Friday.

LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) Partylist Representative Arnel Ty cited recent “law enforcement intelligence reports showing that fuel thieves have stepped up their criminal activities to help produce fresh campaign funds for certain shady local politicians.”

He said that these local politicians allegedly protected gangs which seized fuel tankers in Metro Manila and Central Luzon and urged newly appointed Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to take action.

“These syndicates and their coddlers are not only defrauding government of millions of pesos in lawful tax revenues; they are also swindling consumers who end up unwittingly buying short-filled LPG cylinders,” the legislator said.

Communities near “shifty refilling stations” used by the syndicates to peddle stolen fuel were also being placed at risk, he added. “They do not have to live by any safety standards whatsoever, so they are definitely putting at grave risk whole neighborhoods.”

He also urged authorities to step up their operations against groups hijacking fuel tankers on the road, saying “this is really a law enforcement problem. The only reason these gangs have been emboldened to ply their nefarious trade is because they have not be apprehended and put behind bars.”

The principal author of House Bill 5052 or the Act Establishing the Regulatory Framework for the Safe Consumption and Operations of the LPG Industry, Ty is urging fellow lawmakers to back the proposed measure which has been endorsed for plenary debate.

The bill seeks to protect consumers as well as lawful industry participants from fraudulent refillers and traders, hoarders, and illegal importers of second-hand and substandard cylinders.

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 10:51 AM
Pimentel: Ballot key in drive vs dynasties

By Sean Timothy Salvador

Cebu Daily News

7:38 am | Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday said it is important to stop political dynasties from dominating the country.

But since no law has been passed by Congress to flesh out the 1987 Constitutional prohibition against political dynasties, it’s up to voters to decide through the ballot whether to allow dynasties or not.

Pimentel yesterday spoke in Cebu City during a forum on electoral reforms hosted by the University of San Jose-Recoletos School of Law and the LEX Circle Organization.

Since there is no law banning dynasties, a clean and honest election is a good solution.

“What can you do with that? There’s no law. You just let the people decide. What you can do is guard the election system. Dapat honest and accurate ang elections,” he said.

While there is a clamor to have a law on political dynasties, “there’s no consensus in the Senate on the definition of political dynasties. That’s why I’m bringing this to the ground.”

He encouraged the public to take part in defining what constitutes a political dynasty.

“My solution is not to define political dynasties. We can list down all scenarios that illustrate political dynasties,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said he wants to put teeth in the constitutional provision that prohibits political dynasties.

The Social Justice Society’s initiative, entitled “An Act Defining Political Dynasties that are Prohibited under Article II, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution, and Providing Penalties for its Violation,” received the first signatures from the party’s members as well as students, teachers and other supporters in the academic sector.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes said he believed that the only way an anti-dynasty measure could be enacted into law was through a people’s initiative.

He suggested that Congress could not be expected to do it.

Under the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act of 1989, a people’s initiative for a national legislation must be signed by at least 10 percent of all registered voters and at least three percent in every legislative district.

Once the Comelec has verified the law, referendum on the proposal must be held with in 45-90 days.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to pass a bill allowing expatriate Filipinos to register and vote online as overseas absentee voters.

Pimentel mentioned this development in the forum

“With this bill, the Comelec will be allowed to apply online registration and elections in the future,” Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms,: said.

He said the bill, which is expected to be passed by December, will pave the way for 10 million expatriate Filipinos to exercise their right to suffrage in the 2016 elections. With Inquirer reports

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 10:52 AM
Lawyer shields Mikey aide on ‘shabu’ Pajero

By Kristine Felisse Mangunay, Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:34 pm | Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

The former chief of staff of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo let his lawyer do the talking in a bid to clear his name a day after it cropped up in connection with a P50-million drug bust in Makati City, in which a government vehicle lent to him in 2008 yielded nine kilos of “shabu.”

Speaking for Antonio Mariano Almeda, lawyer Jay Flaminiano on Thursday said his client had asked his driver to return the Mitsubishi Pajero to the National Power Corp. (Napocor) sometime in 2010 and “that was the last of it.”

Reached on the phone, Flaminiano said Almeda was reminded by Representative Arroyo, his boss at that time, to return the vehicle to Napocor that year. Almeda then instructed his driver to do just that.

Later, when Almeda asked the driver for receipts attesting to the turnover of the vehicle, the latter said the papers would soon follow, according to Flaminiano.

“We’re making our own inquiries as to why (the vehicle figured in the drug bust),” Flaminiano said. He declined to give further details but said Almeda, also a lawyer and currently a vice mayoral candidate in Caloocan City under the United Nationalist Alliance, would issue a statement on Friday.

Napocor on Wednesday revealed that it lent the Pajero (SEP 825) to Almeda in April 2008 when Arroyo was still chairman of the House committee on energy. Almeda then requested a vehicle he could use in inspecting decommissioned power plants in Luzon and Eastern Visayas, Napocor recalled in a statement.

Napocor said it had written thrice to Arroyo’s office since June 2010 asking for the vehicle’s return, but that the letters remained unanswered.

The company made the disclosure after the Pajero figured in Tuesday’s arrest of suspected American drug dealer Brian Hill in his Makati City condominium. Police said Hill later led them to the vehicle.

The American was formally charged on Thursday at the Department of Justice, which set the preliminary investigation hearing of his case on Monday.

In Camp Crame, Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia, chief investigator of the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF), clarified that Almeda was not yet considered under investigation in relation to the drug bust.

Merdegia added that the Pajero was “last seen (at) nightclubs in August 2010 somewhere in Manila and it was not Almeda who was using it.”

The official said investigators were still “gathering documents” and checking how the Pajero ended up with Hill, 32, who was arrested at The Columns, an upscale address at the corner of Ayala and Gil Puyat Avenues.

He said the police were still waiting for a formal reply from Napocor on the matter, although the state-run company had already issued a media statement pointing to Almeda as the vehicle’s last known user.—With a report from Christine O. Avendańo

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 10:55 AM
Victims’ kin fear political comeback of Ampatuans

By Philip C. Tubeza, TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:06 am | Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The families of journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre are afraid that the case against the Ampatuans could become “collateral damage” in the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a private prosecutor in the case said Thursday.

Lawyer Harry Roque said he had received reports that the Ampatuans had allied themselves with the Mastura clan, which has close links to the MILF.

He added that one of the primary suspects still at large—Bahnarin “Datu Ban” Ampatuan—was reported last week to be hiding in one of the houses constructed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in an MILF-controlled area in Maguindanao.

“There is now an alliance between the Ampatuans and the Masturas for the coming elections. They’re running under United Nationalist Alliance,” Roque said in an interview.

“So, my clients are now fearing that the massacre case could become collateral damage, especially with the government and the MILF talking peace,” he added.

Roque said his clients had also received reports that some Ampatuans wanted for the massacre were hiding in MILF-controlled areas, particularly those under the MILF’s 106th Base Command.

He said one of his informers sent him a text message on Nov. 15 saying that Bahnarin Ampatuan and his armed group were still hiding in an MILF-controlled area.

“As of this time, Datu Ban and his group are still in the DSWD-made houses located along the left side of Kabulnan River around 1 kilometer south of the municipal hall of Mamasapano,” the text message read.

“It is public knowledge in the locality that they are friendly with the MILF-BIAF 106th and 118th Base Commands and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) mechanized brigade in the area,” it added.

Roque said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas had been informed about this development and that police had confirmed the report.

Malacańang on Thursday said Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu had vouched for the character of members of the Ampatuan clan running for public office in Maguindanao under the ruling Liberal Party (LP).

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the candidates had been handpicked by Mangudadatu, and did not share the politics of former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., one of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

The prospect of their election should not be a cause for worry for the residents since they eschewed the politics of the Ampatuan patriarch and shared the “reformed politics” of Mangudadatu, he said.

At least 74 members of the Ampatuan clan are reportedly running for elective posts in the midterm elections in May 2013, at least 10 of them under the LP.

“Governor Mangudadatu is a person who was victimized by the massacre and so you would listen to the person on the ground. This is local politics. And so the local politics, you consult with the local officials,” he said.

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 10:59 AM
3 party-list groups get SC reprieve

By Christine O. Avendańo, Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:57 am | Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Three more party-list groups were given a reprieve by the Supreme Court, which directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday not to disqualify the organizations from taking part in the May 2013 elections.

While the three groups got a reprieve, the Comelec voted to reject the appeal of the Black and White political party that it be allowed to participate in the 2013 party-list elections. Black and White has close ties to the Aquino administration.

In a notice released only Thursday, Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal said the high court en banc issued a resolution on Nov. 20 stopping the Comelec from implementing its disqualification orders against the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy, the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Inc. and Agapay ng Indigenous People’s Rights Alliance Inc.

“[The high court] require[d] the parties to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed Comelec resolutions dated Nov. 7 and Oct. 16, without prejudice to the final ruling of this court on the merits,” Vidal said.

The Comelec has so far disqualified 80 groups in the May elections in an effort to cleanse the party-list system of those that do not represent marginalized sectors and those whose representatives are millionaires or members of political clans or dynasties or both.

The poll body has also canceled the accreditation of 47 party-list groups while denying the petitions of 33 others that wanted to register as party-list groups.

In the notice, the high court ordered that the petitions of the three party-list groups be consolidated with the petitions of eight party-list groups that earlier won a reprieve.

The eight were Ako Bicol, Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, Aksyon Magsasaka-Partido Tinig ng Masa, Kapatiran ng mga Nakakulong na Walang Sala Inc., 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy, Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction Inc., Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership, and Alliance for Rural Concerns.

The Supreme Court directed the Comelec to comment on the petitions within a nonextendible period of 10 days from notice.

The high court also resolved to “note the most urgent motion for special raffle dated Nov. 15” filed by the lawyer of the Guardians.

On leave during Tuesday’s en banc hearing were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Diosdado Peralta and Bienvenido Reyes.

Black and White

In the Comelec, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body en banc voted 5-2 on Wednesday to affirm the decision of its first division to disqualify Black and White.

“More or less, the commission en banc adopted our resolution in the division in denying the motion for reconsideration,” Sarmiento said in an interview.

“While it was recognized that Black and White advocated good governance, it had no track record working for the marginalized sectors. It’s nominees also did not come from the marginalized,” he said.

On Oct. 29, the Comelec First Division, chaired by Sarmiento, voted to disqualify Black and White.

Sarmiento and Commissioner Armando Velasco voted to deny the party. Commissioner Christian Lim took no part, citing his close affiliation to some of the group’s members.

The Black and White Movement is known as one of the staunchest critics of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The group’s nominees for the May elections include Leah Navarro, Marco Cabrera, Jose Morales, Mary Shinn Ramos and Nolasco Apolonio.

“They can still go up to the Supreme Court and appeal the case,” Sarmiento said.

11-26-2012, 02:16 PM
Loren overtakes Chiz in survey

By Christina Mendez

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 26, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Loren Legarda has overtaken Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero in the number one spot in the voter preferences for senator, according to the latest results of a survey conducted by pollster Pedro “Junie” Laylo Jr.

The survey conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 showed Legarda enjoying 75 percent preference followed by Sen. Francis Escudero with 68 percent.

Sen. Alan Cayetano was in third place with 66 percent while Jack Ernile ranked fourth with 62 percent followed by Cynthia Villar (61); Koko Pimentel (57).; Gringo Honasan (56); Joseph Victor Ejercito (51); Nancy Binay and Antonio Trillanes (tied at 48); Migz Zubiri (47); Dick Gordon (46); and Sonny Angara (46).

A poll survey dated Aug. 7 to 17 showed Escudero garnering 76 percent rating while Legarda had 75 percent.

11-26-2012, 02:17 PM
Comelec eyes 2 citizens’ groups in 2013 polls

By Mayen Jaymalin

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 26, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - More than one citizens’ group may be helping out the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the coming May 2013 elections.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento yesterday said that aside from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible voting (PPCRV), they may also accredit the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) as another citizens’ arm.

“Tasks have to be delineated to avoid duplication,” he said.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes earlier reported that the poll body has been discussing with Namfrel and PPCRV the tasks that they want to take on in case they get the necessary accreditation.

“I talked to them to find out what is the task that they prefer in case we accredit them both,” Brillantes said.

According to Brillantes, PPCRV requested to conduct or at least participate in the random manual audit just like in the May 2010 polls.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Last Friday, the Comelec accredited the PPCRV as their citizens’ arm in next year’s polls.

Comelec said PPCRV has established a good track record as one of the commission’s staunch allies in ensuring hones, orderly, and peaceful elections.

The Comelec tasked the PPCRV to conduct poll watching in various precincts; provide assistance to voters on election day, most especially to the senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, detainees, indigenous peoples and other members of vulnerable sectors; and to assist the commission in voters’ information and education drive in every municipality, city and province, most especially in far-flung areas and to sectors which experience inaccessibility in getting information from the commission.

The Comelec agreed to provide PPCRV with electronic copies of the computerized voters’ list and the project of precincts for the effective discharge of its responsibility.

The fourth copy of the election returns printed by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines prior to transmission for the conduct of an unofficial count shall also be furnished to the PPCRV.

11-26-2012, 02:18 PM
Comelec readying total gun ban rules

By Sheila Crisostomo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 26, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now formulating the guidelines for a “total gun ban” that will be imposed starting Jan. 13, 2013 ahead of the elections in May.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the poll body is discussing who should be exempted from the total gun ban that will end on June 12 next year.

“It’s still a long way to go before this is implemented but what we are doing now is formulating a draft (guidelines). The discussion of the en banc would be mainly on exemption – on who will be exempted. There will be a total gun ban except those specified by the resolution,” he said.

Brillantes said there is no such thing as a total gun ban in the context of not a single individual would be allowed to carry firearms or other explosive devices.

He added there are many sectors that need to be considered like the law enforcement agencies, security personnel and those involved in the mining industry.

Asked about politicians who may seek gun ban exemption, Brillantes said their request may be considered but tapping police personnel to protect them could also be an option.

Concerning private individuals who may apply for exclusion from the ban citing threats to their lives, the Comelec has not decided how to deal with them.

“The list of possible gun ban exemption is long but we are thoroughly studying them. But the thing is we may not be giving exemption to those not included in the list,” Brillantes said.

Sam Miguel
11-27-2012, 04:24 PM
Miriam hits Binay for opposing anti-dynasty bill

By Marvin Sy

(The Philippine Star)

| Updated November 27, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago assailed Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday for opposing the proposed anti-political dynasties bill as well as the proponents of the measure.

During plenary debates on the proposed P2-trillion national budget for 2013, Santiago aired her disgust over recent reports that Binay was quoted as saying that the anti-political dynasties measures were only being pushed by people who are perennial losers in elections.

“Minamaliit ninyo ginawa ko e. Ano gusto ninyo mangyari? Nasa saligang batas yan e (You are belittling my work. What is your intention here? This is in the Constitution.) That’s no longer a question of policy. That has been settled,” Santiago said.

Binay was not present to defend himself but through a manifestation by his staff, which was relayed by Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon, it was reiterated that the stand of the Vice President is to let the people decide on the fate of people who belong to so-called dynasties.

In an earlier interview, Binay said that there should be no prohibition against anyone who wants to run for office, especially by virtue of the existence of his or her relatives who are either holding office already or who intend to run.

He said that the matter should be left for the people to decide through their votes.

Santiago said Binay’s position is wrong because the Constitution has clearly stated that political dynasties are not acceptable in the country and that a law must be passed to enforce this provision.

“That is wrong, I take the liberty of correcting the Vice President’s belief. He has no business staying in government if that is his belief,” Santiago said.

“We know that the Constitution cannot be changed, it is a permanent document. And whether it’s grammatical or unethical or downright false or incorrect, you cannot change it, unless you follow the procedure for amending the Constitution,” she added.

If Binay was referring to her as one of those perennial losers who are pushing for the anti-political dynasties bill, Santiago emphasized that she lost the presidential elections in 1992 only in the counting of votes but not on the actual voting itself.

“That will be my stand until the day I die,” Santiago said.

But for someone like the Vice President to issue those statements about the proponents of the anti-political dynasties bill, Santiago made it clear that she would not take it sitting down.

“I filed an anti-dynasty bill. Don’t you think that a senator who did something like that would be hurt when you say that it is the perennial losers who file these bills?” Santiago said.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2012, 09:33 AM
Caveat emptor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:06 pm | Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

NOT THAT we’re singling him out, but we think the senatorial candidacy of Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., representative of the first district of Cagayan province, is a good example of the way cynical politics preys on something that has ailed the Philippine body politic for so long: the lack of voter awareness.

Here’s the case. Enrile, 54, is preparing to vault into higher office on the basis of—what, exactly? As far as we know, before his surname became top of mind among the public by virtue of his father’s stewardship of the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, the young Enrile had never made much of an impression for his work in the House. Perhaps he has been a good representative of his constituents all this time. But on raging issues of national import in the last few years, only his most faithful supporters will insist that, at the very least, he has been heard from. Can anyone recall a public issue, advocacy or cause that can be tied to the name of Jack Enrile—the way, for instance, that the Reproductive Health bill has had for its champions Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman in the House and Sen. Pia Cayetano in the Senate, or Rep. Erin Tańada for the Freedom of Information bill?

For all of the young Enrile’s years of stay in Congress, the one thing many in the public still associate with his name is his alleged role in the death of actor Alfie Anido nearly three decades ago—a rumor so enduring that even the elder Enrile had to publicly dignify it with a clarification in a recently released memoir. And yet, because the former martial law administrator and now Senate President’s public standing has rebounded in the wake of the impeachment trial, his scion now feels emboldened to inveigle a Senate seat from the voters—not by virtue of his own qualifications and achievements, if any, but those of his father’s, in effect.

Will the public bite? UNA, the coalition forged by Vice President Jejomar Binay and former president Joseph Estrada, seems to think so, having included the young Enrile in its lineup with apparently no stronger basis than name recall. The candidate apparently doesn’t mind being seen as a freeloader this way; he and his backers think the public can’t really distinguish between father and son, that voters are too dense to realize that the credentials of Enrile pere are not and should not be transferable by fiat or private investiture to Enrile fils.

And Jack Enrile and his backers may yet be proven right—if voters once again play nonchalant about their choices in the coming elections, if they allow themselves to be lured away from the hard questions by the typical campaign razzle-dazzle (even Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casińo has threatened to sing and dance if that’s what it takes, he said, to win a Senate seat), instead of examining the candidates, and what they have to offer the public, with more care and caution.

If the voters do just that, they’d perhaps find out that, according to the website Rollcall.ph, Jack Enrile is one of the top absentee lawmakers in the current Congress—No. 8, in fact. Refuting this report should be a no-brainer for the candidate and others on it, but even as Marilyn Barua-Yap, secretary general of the House of Representatives, has dismissed Rollcall.ph’s list as not official, the House itself isn’t more forthcoming; the process of securing its own records on the attendance of congressmen is like running an obstacle course. Which is perhaps a measure of how wary these lawmakers are about letting the public know the extent of the dysfunction, waste and indolence that often characterize their days as so-called public servants. Hence, too, the continuing inaction on the FOI bill.

The quality of governance in this country will only improve if voters make the effort to look more closely at the people presenting themselves to be their leaders and representatives in the government. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has made a provocative summary of the problem: “Of the 50 million voters who will troop to the polls in May next year, the greater majority are not intelligent, they are not educated for voting, and the candidates they choose are not educated for serving.” That is a formula for continuing disaster—the lot of this country, by the way, for generations now.

The young Enrile is not the only candidate who deserves greater scrutiny. All those who aspire to serve in our name must be held up against the light. Caveat emptor, always. Now more than ever.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2012, 09:34 AM

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:03 pm | Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

YOU CAN say a lot of things about Miriam Defensor-Santiago, but you can’t say she’s boring. She said some pretty sparkling things at Far Eastern University last week.

The majority of the 50 million Filipinos who will vote next year, she said, are “not educated for voting.” That is matched only by the majority of the candidates who are “not educated for serving.” The law merely requires voters to be 18 and up and to have stayed in the country for a year. And the law merely requires candidates to be of a certain age and possess reasonably good character. Why does a cop need to have a college degree but not so a senator or congressmen?

“If a person is a borderline moron, why should his vote equal the vote of a college graduate? If majority of the voters are not educated, then there is no reason why one vote should be equal to another vote. Not all votes are equal.” The voters’ ignorance naturally favors movie stars. “They are voting for actors … [who will] continue their acting in the legislature, [who are] are little better than talking dummies.”

Like I said, she’s not boring. But she’s also not the best person to argue for her cause. At the very least, that’s so because if the Filipino voter is typically dumb and ignorant, how did she manage to nearly become the president of this country? Or to have actually done so, as she claims, except that she was robbed of it in broad daylight by one Fidel Ramos? Well, maybe she can say with typical aplomb: “I rest my case. Filipino voters are dumb and ignorant.”

At the very most, that’s so because if Filipino voters are dumb and ignorant enough to vote for movie stars, what does that make of those who serve them? What does that make of those who praise them to high heavens? What does that make of those who defend them to the death—or at least until another patron comes along? Lest we forget, that was what Miriam did, attend to Erap lavishly when he was president, defend him ardently when he was impeached, and exhort the unshod masses noisily to storm Malacańang when he was ousted. Until Gloria came along.

Beyond this, however, are the broader principles. There is no natural correlation between educational attainment and electoral IQ. Or between being highly educated and being “educated to serve.” Here in particular, if there’s one at all, it’s probably inversely proportional. You don’t need to look very far to see it. Ferdinand Marcos was one of the best minds in the country, and he wrote, or wreaked, the worst chapter in this country’s history. Aided by other brilliant minds representing various fields of study—law, public administration, engineering, history, the sciences, the arts, literature—that filled up his Cabinet.

I’m not surprised that we call a shyster or hustler “wa-is,” a play on the word “wise.” From experience, we do not naturally see the educated as “educated to serve,” we more naturally see them as equipped to screw.

History shows the wisdom, despite its manifold problems, of making voting universal. If you allowed only the educated (in the sense of schooled), or literate (or at least able to read and write), or intelligent (in the sense of IQ), you would not have had reforms, you would never have had change. The blacks would not been able to vote. Women would not have been able to vote. The tenants and sharecroppers and kargadors and obradors would not have been able to vote. Wealth and power would have remained with the landowners, the slave-owners, the gun-owners, the caciques, the compradors, the owners of fabricas and companias, with no end in sight.

Why should the poor and unlettered and unschooled not know—or indeed not know better—how a government ought to be run? That’s the reason I’ve been very supportive of the party-list system. And that’s the reason I’ve been very pissed off by the party-list groups being hijacked by groups that have no business being there. That’s corruption in ways that go beyond the theft of money, however gigantic. That’s stealing from the poor. That’s taking away food from a hungry mouth. It’s a crime, and a heinous one at that.

That’s also the reason I argue that the real party-list groups, the ones that truly represent the interests of the poor, not only need not but must not be represented by a lawyer, or relative of politicians, if not by the politicians themselves, or by a pedigreed or degreed individual. They can do the representing all by themselves. They can do the talking all by themselves. They can do the legislating all by themselves. The urban poor, the indigenous peoples, the marginalized and scorned.

The notion that they will be out of their depth in Congress, with its lawyerly talk, with its scholarly talk, with its jargon and argot, with its protocol and etiquette, is stupid. Why should they have to adjust to the sensibilities and mentality and ways of doing things of today’s congressmen? Of course they have to show some fineness, too, but who says they can’t? The poor do not naturally lack for kahihiyan and delicadeza and kagandahang asal. They often have it more plentifully than the rich—certainly more so than the majority of the current occupants of Congress.

In fact, why shouldn’t Congress have to adjust to them? Or to the public at large? Why shouldn’t Congress make its discourse understandable to the poor the way P-Noy makes his Sonas understandable to the public?

Who better to speak for the uplift of the poor than the poor themselves? Who better to care for the poor than the poor themselves? Who better to fight for making the poor less poor than those who have seen and felt and tasted the sting of hunger? Which is really what government is supposed to do. Which is really what government is all about.

In the end, who’s more educated to serve?

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 11:06 AM
Cardinal Tagle supports protest vs Aurora project

By Jeannette I. Andrade, TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:42 am | Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in a dialogue with peasants on an 18-day march to Malacańang to protest a rising economic zone in Aurora, on Monday called for an “examination of conscience” to determine if Sen. Edgardo Angara’s vision of development would benefit the impoverished region.

Tagle said that in a recent meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the prelates were shown a video of the project in the coastal town of Casiguran and vowed to help bring the peasants’ concerns to the attention of President Aquino and the nation at large.

The newly installed cardinal met with 120 representatives of 2,983 families of farmers, fishermen and indigenous people opposing the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco) being pushed by the senator and his son, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, a senatorial candidate for the ruling Liberal Party in next year’s elections.

“I hope the voice of the residents of Casiguran paves the way for an examination of conscience. We cling to models of progress which do not suit us and will not give us development,” Tagle said, particularly referring to Apeco.

“The bishops were moved,” he said of the video shown in the CBCP meeting. “We agreed that we will do everything we can to try to help your concerns, to not only make President Aquino but all Filipinos know.”

“On my own, I will try to help. This is an act of love, an act of peace and not of violence. This is an act of love for the family, for the land, for the sea and for nature’s treasures. I hope the whole country will listen,” Tagle said.

But he lamented, “The voice of love is not always heeded.” As the peasants fell silent, he sought to encourage them to continue their struggle. “You are not alone, we are many,” he said.

The cardinal thanked the marchers for their sacrifice that, he said, could trigger soul-searching among Filipinos seeking to ease the lives of the poor that sometimes do more harm than good.

The peasants set out from Casiguran on Nov. 24 to dramatize their opposition to the 12,923-hectare special economic zone being built in their hometown at the edge of the Pacific.

Officials to meet marchers

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters Monday he could not say if Mr. Aquino would be able to see the protesters when they march on the Palace Tuesday but he said some officials would meet with them.

He also said the President had ordered Cabinet officials to craft options addressing their concerns.

“They have studied the matter and they will be discussing some options which take into consideration the farmers’ welfare. So these options will be presented to the President,” Lacierda said.

He said those handling the Apeco issue were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Secretary Julia Abad of the Presidential Management Staff, Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang and officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

The protesters claimed that Apeco was seizing large areas of agricultural lands from farmers, intruded into ancestral lands of the indigenous Agtas, and displaced 28 families in the construction of a 1.5-meter airstrip. They said that hundreds of other families of fishermen would have to been driven away for the construction of a seaport.

Apeco was also accused of violating environmental laws when it cleared 10 ha of mangroves, which have been protected by the fishermen for their livelihood.

Also affected by the developments undertaken by the Apeco were farmers from Sitio (sub-village) Reserva in Barangay (village) Esteves and the San Ildefonso Peninsula.

‘Malicious and vicious’

Apeco was created through Republic Act No. 9490 in 2007 and begun the following year. The law was amended through RA 10083, again sponsored by Senator Angara and his son in the House. It was not vetoed by President Aquino and lapsed into law in 2010.

The protest marchers sought a review and possible repeal of the law creating Apeco, as well as the provision of settlement areas for displaced fisherfolk families. They also called on the agrarian reform department to distribute 105 ha of agricultural land to the farmers of Sitio Reserva in Barangay Esteves and end their 50-year struggle for land ownership.

“The entire law should be repealed because it violates the Local Government Code for not consulting the local government,” Fr. Joefran Talaban, parish priest of Casiguran marching with the protesters, said in a text message.

In a privilege speech on Nov. 28, Senator Angara dismissed the charges against Apeco as “malicious and vicious.”

He said “land acquisition has always followed a regular pattern of negotiation and purchase.”

“Even now, Apeco is valuable as an alternate passageway for Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela. And as the only airport and seaport complex in the Pacific Rim in the Philippines, Apeco will be the most strategic site, given its waters are at an average of 24-m deep and is protected from the elements by the San Ildefonso Peninsula. It will become an important shipping hub on the Pacific Side,” he said.

12-18-2012, 08:29 AM
‘Jueteng’ probe rocks alliance of LP, NPC

By Gil Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:11 am | Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

With less than two months before the campaign for the 2013 midterm elections starts, cracks are already showing on the alliance between the Liberal Party (LP) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and the shaker is the revival of an investigation into the illegal numbers racket “jueteng.”

Seismic activity began last week, with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas of the LP launching an investigation against Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino, a senior NPC official.

But other politicians feel the tremor and they believe politics is generating the energy that causes the shaking.

Vice President Jejomar Binay’s nominally oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said Monday the fresh investigation could be an administration ploy to control vote-rich Pangasinan ahead of the elections.

Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, UNA secretary general, said in a statement that the alliance supported any effort against jueteng but was suspicious about the timing of the disclosure of Espino’s involvement in jueteng.

“The 2013 election is just a few weeks away,” Tiangco said. “The administration and the administration party headed by the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) secretary cannot escape suspicion that politics is one motivation for the sudden interest in jueteng in Pangasinan.”

The LP is fielding Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza against Espino in the gubernatorial race in Pangasinan. President Aquino carried Pangasinan in the 2010 presidential election with Braganza’s help.

Tiangco said securing victory for the administration’s candidate in Pangasinan in 2013 could translate into benefits in the province for Malacańang’s candidate in the presidential election in 2016.

LP members are expected to field Roxas in the 2016 race for Malacańang. The UNA’s Binay has said he’s running that race.

As for the NPC, former Rep. Mark Cojuangco of Pangasinan said the party would stand by Espino even if Roxas persisted in putting him in jail.

“Our alliance is with P-Noy (President Aquino). That alliance manifests itself as an alliance with the LP in the House of Representatives. Local politics are another matter,” said Cojuangco, son of NPC founder Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.

“We await the evidence which will be presented by the DILG and see if it will prosper beyond the current hearsay. Without solid evidence, we will maintain our support and campaign for our candidate even if he is thrown in jail. As you know, you can be put in jail even if you have not yet been convicted,” Cojuangco said.

Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian, the NPC spokesperson, said, “We believe that given the chance to present his side, [Espino] will be able to vindicate himself.”

Cojuangco said Espino had become a target of the LP because he was popular and that the vote-rich province was dominated by the NPC, whose members include 39 of Pangasinan’s 48 mayors. With a report from Tarra Quismundo

12-18-2012, 08:33 AM
^ Finally, I hope this particular investigation results in a conviction. This ridiculous jueteng thing has been going on for far too many generations. A conviction is forthcoming, and hopefully the present dispensation will finally deliver.

12-18-2012, 08:33 AM
Pangilinan, Casińo: ‘How did Genuino kids get off?’

By Gil Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:19 am | Monday, December 17th, 2012

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the “vanishing act” of the Genuino siblings—Erwin, Sheryl and Anthony—left more questions than answers, considering that they were said to be the main beneficiaries of their father’s alleged illicit use of Pagcor funds. INQUIRER PHOTO

A senator and a representative have asked the Department of Justice to explain why the three children of former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino were dropped from the plunder, corruption and malversation charges the DOJ filed in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the “vanishing act” of the Genuino siblings—Erwin, Sheryl and Anthony—left more questions than answers, considering that they were said to be the main beneficiaries of their father’s alleged illicit use of Pagcor funds.

“I have been hearing about this so-called Mafia from my own sources. Secretary Leila de Lima should throw the book at these people who are out to derail the anticorruption efforts of this administration,” said Pangilinan in a text message.

In a phone interview, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casińo said he found it “curious” that the DOJ should drop the Genuino children, who were named in the original complaint lodged by the current Pagcor management in September against their father and some associates, from the charges.

“Why were these supposed beneficiaries of plunder and malversation of public funds not included in the case? In fact it was precisely because the beneficiaries of the transactions were Genuino’s children that made the transactions anomalous,” said Casińo.

In July 2011, Pagcor filed plunder charges against Genuino and 40 others, including Erwin and Sheryl, for allegedly misappropriating at least P186 million of the state-run casino’s funds for Genuino’s party-list group, Bida Foundation, from 2003 to 2010.

Pagcor followed this up with charges of malversation and graft against Genuino and five others, including Erwin, for using P26.7 million of Pagcor’s money to produce the movie “Baler” in 2008, the proceeds of which were to go to Bida Foundation; and malversation charges against Genuino and several others, including Erwin and Anthony, for allegedly misappropriating P1.4 million worth of rice donated for typhoon victims in the country.

The rice donations were instead used to bolster the campaign of Anthony and Erwin who ran for mayor of Los Bańos, Laguna, and Makati City, respectively, in 2010. Anthony won but Erwin lost.

The DOJ said the charges against Erwin, Sheryl and Anthony Genuino were dropped due to lack of evidence, without offering any explanation.

Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela, head of the DOJ panel handling the case, did not reply to the Inquirer’s queries.

Casińo said Pagcor legal counsel Jay Santiago was himself surprised the Genuino children were dropped from the plunder charges.

“Why did the DOJ tinker with the case and drop the Genuino children? If the cases filed by Pagcor were weak, why was the DOJ not able to build up the cases since they were with them for one whole year?” said Casińo.

12-19-2012, 08:51 AM
Steel barricades, vigil at Capitol

Cebu Daily News

7:46 am | Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

THE stage is set for high political drama in the Cebu Capitol building.

Steel guard rails were positioned at the entrance gate until late last night to prevent easy entry. In the afternoon, visitors were asked to show their IDs before entering, including news reporters who frequent the Capitol daily.

Two buses arrived at 9 a.m. with barangay health workers in green and yellow shirts, the campaign colors of the One Cebu Party, from different towns.

A third bus arrived at 3 p.m.

“Many called up manifesting their support ug tinood ba. Some groups tonight will hold vigil,” said Capitol consultant Rory John Sepulveda.

“They are also making sure that if there are groups, dili nimo malikayan gyud nga ma-politika dayon ni nga issue nga matarong lang nga magpabilin malinawon, peaceful, orderly,” he added.

The women went straight to the social hall and sat on the floor, waiting. Leni Bagol, president of the BHWs in the province, said they were about 1,000 of them there.

Asteria Cabanero, a barangay health worker from Talisay City, was part of the growd that showed up at 10:50 a.m.

“We were just told by our group president to come here. We don’t know why,” she told Cebu Daily News.

Some said they were hoping to receive a Christmas bonus from the provincial government but none was given. They were instead fed packed lunches as they sat on the floor of the Capitol social hall.

Past 2 p.m., the women started to pray the rosary.

Sepulveda said the suspension would likely stem from a ruling of the Office of the President on the 2010 usurpation of authority charges filed by the late Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez.

“We are preparing for anything. We heard about the suspension order against the governor a long time ago,” Sepulveda told reporters.

“The only case that possibly entails a suspension is the administrative one before the Office of the President. That’s the only case. Lets wait and see,” Sepulveda said.

He said Garcia was “out of town,” attending to a scheduled event and would return to work soon.

“I talked with the governor. She really just need to attend to something. She said ‘Let them do their worst and we will do our best’,” Sepulveda said.

“Gigi” Sanchez-Zaballero said a suspension order would mean justice for her father.

“My father will be vindicated. He was fighting for a cause. He was for separation of power between the legislative and the executive. He was for transparency and acountability too,” Zaballero told CDN.

Sanchez earlier raised three issues against Garcia : tyranny, gross abuse of power and misuse of government funds.

He claimed that the governor held “hostage” his share of the Legislative Assistance Fund (LAF), which was earmarked for chosen barangays in his district, froze the renewal of work contracts of his 57 employees and signed multi-million-peso contracts without approval of the PB.

The governor sought the dismissal of the case saying Zaballero “cannot inherit” the right to pursue the complaint. The case, however, continued.

12-19-2012, 09:25 AM

Estrada: ‘I will go down with Enrile’

By Maila Ager


10:45 am | Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada said he would go down with Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, who has been hounded by persistent talks of an alleged ouster move against him.

“I don’t think Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile will be replaced and if ever he is going to be replaced, if he goes down, I will go down with Manong Johnny,” Estrada said during a Christmas party that he, Enrile and Senator Gregorio Honasan held for Senate media Monday night.

“Just to prove how loyal I am with Manong Johnny. I think the same is true with Senator Honasan and Tito Sotto,” he said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.

“Manong kung saan man kayo, lagi akong nandun [Manong wherever you are, I will always be there].”

“Mr. President, I am your trusted Lietenant. Wherever you go lagi po akong nanuun,” Estrada stressed.

It was Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who recently talked about a possible removal of Enrile because of his alleged defiance to support the government’s measures such as the sin tax and Repreoductive Health bills.

Both bills were approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

But even Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson doubted the alleged ouster move against Enrile, saying it is just in the minds of some and “in the tounge of one.”

“A coup plot happens everyday but in the minds of those wanting to replace the leader of the Senate. Whether it will succeed or not is a different matter altogher,” Lacson said in an interview Monday.

Besides, he said, Enrile’s stand against the RH bill was not a valid reason to remove him from office.

While the bill was a major issue, Lacson said it was not enough reason to change the present leadership in the Senate.

“Because we took different positions on two issues already–sin tax and RH. Yet, I continue to respect and support the leadership of Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile. I think it’s the same with my other colleagues,” he said.

“Kasi kung meron talaga, matagal ng wala si Senate President dun [Because if there really is a coup, the Senate President should have been long gone there],” Lacson added.

Enrile has repeatedly said that he was willing to be removed anytime.

“I have not heard of any efforts against me but I always anticipated that some people will be dismayed with me, at least two. The others, I don’t think they are unhappy,” he said Monday.

12-20-2012, 09:57 AM
Maceda laments entry of `low caliber’ senators

By Matikas Santos


4:28 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senator Ernesto Maceda Jr. on Monday lamented the entry of what he described as “low caliber” senators in the present chamber.

Maceda said in an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990AM that senators back in 1971 such as Arturo Tolentino, Gil Puyat, Jose Diokno, Ambrosio Padilla, Jose Roy, Lorenzo Sumulong, “were really of a higher caliber.”

“Lately, after the entry of celebrities in the Senate, let’s admit the truth, the caliber of senators has gotten lower,” Maceda said.

“With the 23 senators right now, if you watch their debates, only five or six are really performing as legislators,” he said.

Maceda first served as a senator in 1971 but later went into exile in the United States after Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. He won a Senate seat again in 1987 and served until 1998.

Maceda, 77, is running for a senatorial seat in the 2013 midterm elections under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). He believes that he can use his years of experience in the legislature, as well as in the executive where he has held five cabinet positions, to solve the country’s persistent problems such as unemployment.

“The truth is, in a single session of the Senate, some 3,000 proposed bills are filed in the Senate,” Maceda said. “If a senator does not have much experience, there are many bills there that they will need to study first before they can understand its effects and repercussions.”

“But for those who have much experience … any bill that is presented, more or less we already know how to deal with it, how to approve, amend, change, or improve it,” Maceda said.

He cited his experience as the reason why he decided to run again in next year’s mid-term elections.

He also lamented the way the Reproductive Health Bill was moving slowly in both houses of Congress. “I might be able to catch up with it in the Senate if I win next year,” Maceda said.

Stem cell rejuvenation

Maceda also revealed during the interview that he has been “rejuvenated” with the help of stem cell therapy he underwent in Germany this year.

“So far, so good. I admit I underwent stem cell therapy, it helped me get my strength [back],” Maceda said.

“I have been going around [the country] for more than six months already and I have not felt any illness,” Maceda said.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, two of the so-called “3-Kings” of UNA, have also undergone stem cell therapy.

Maceda, in a separate interview with INQUIRER.net, said that he received 16 injections, one for every organ, when he undertook the therapy in Germany March of this year.

“It did not take more than 20 minutes,” Maceda said. ‘‘There have not been any negative side-effects from the therapy,’’ he added.

“As you grow older, your cells also grow older,” Maceda explained. “With stem cells, the cells in your body will be renewed … you will be rejuvenated.”

The therapy cost him around P800,000 in Germany, he said. It costs more than P2 million if done here in the country, he added.

12-21-2012, 08:54 AM
Angara pulls out of Aurora polls; Baby Arenas subs for daughter

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:52 am | Friday, December 21st, 2012

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Sen. Edgardo Angara has withdrawn from the gubernatorial race in Aurora and has been substituted by his younger brother, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here said.

“It’s official. Mayor Arthur Angara of Baler has substituted for Senator Angara for governor,” Comelec supervisor Gilbert Almario told the Inquirer by phone on Thursday.

Mayor Angara, who is completing his third and final term, will challenge Gerardo Noveras, the incumbent Aurora vice governor. Senator Angara did not answer text messages inquiring as to why he opted not to run anymore as governor, a position held for the last time by his younger sister, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo.

Another relative has confirmed Angara’s withdrawal.

Angara-Castillo is returning to Congress to run for the lone Aurora congressional seat to be vacated by Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, the senator’s son, who is running for senator under the administration’s Liberal Party.

No reason given

At the Senate, neither Senator Angara nor his staff would reveal the reason behind his sudden decision to withdraw from the Aurora gubernatorial race.

But as of late afternoon yesterday, speculations were rife in the Senate that the senator was worried about adverse feedback that could result from the recent protest march held by a group of Casiguran folk protesting alleged abuses by officials of the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport Authority (Apeco).

Earlier this month, Sen. Sergio Osmeńa III presented in a news conference a handful of farmers from Casiguran who alleged that Apeco officials were arbitrarily taking their agricultural lands to extend the Apeco compound.

Pangasinan surprise

When Osmeńa took the mic, he blamed Angara squarely for the situation, adding that Angara went ahead with the creation of Apeco through a law when it was clear that putting a freeport in Casiguran was not economically viable.

Osmeńa also moved for the reduction of Apeco’s P353-million budget for 2013 to only P10 million, colleagues eventually overruled his initiative.

Angara himself could not be reached for comment.

His media officer Rikka Sotto confirmed his withdrawal in the Aurora gubernatorial race but said the senator was still in transit and could not make a comment.

Sotto said Angara made a personal appearance before the local office of the Comelec in Aurora as required by law in case of withdrawal from an electoral race.

In Pangasinan, Rep. Rachel Arenas (3rd District) withdrew her candidacy as a reelectionist on Thursday in favor of her mother, socialite Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas.

Marino Salas, Pangasinan election supervisor, said Arenas, a Liberal Party stalwart who is running unopposed, filed her affidavit of withdrawal of candidacy to allow her mother to apply as her substitute.

Salas said the lawmaker did not cite a reason for her withdrawal. He said election laws do not require candidates to justify their withdrawal from elections.

In a phone interview, Arenas said her mother had been asked to run for Congress. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon, Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon and Cathy Yamsuan

12-21-2012, 08:55 AM
‘Over my dead body’

Cebu Daily News

7:28 am | Friday, December 21st, 2012

Suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday dared authorities to forcibly remove her from her office, saying her exit could only happen “over my dead body”.

Policemen were fielded in the Capitol the night before, parking two trucks in front of the entrance and guarding barricades to prevent people from massing in the area but stopped short of using force.

Garcia continued to receive mayors of her Once Cebu party and supporters in the Capitol where she’s been holed up since Wednesday, when the order for a six-month suspension by the Office of the President was served by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

What she’s waiting for is a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals in Manila to challenge what she calls an “illegal order” and a “power grab”.

Garcia’s lawyers have until today, the last working day before Christmas, to get it – or she’ll have to stick to her word and spend the holidays in her Capitol office.


“She can go ahead and stay there,” said Acting Governor Agnes Magpale last night.

“All I need is the provincial treasurer.”

Magpale, who formed a four-member transition team to look into the finances and contracts of the provincial government, met with Capitol department heads past 4 pm. and told them to do their duties and acknowledge her new role as acting governor “or they will be dealt with accordingly.”

When Treasurer Roy Salubre didn’t show up, Magpale phoned the office of the Secretary of Finance in Manila to report that she would be filing a case of insubordination.

“My focus now is to perform the duties as governor. I will not be distracted by her (Garcia’s) presence. For the record, there is only one governor of Cebu and she is Acting Governor Agnes Magpale,” she told a press conference.

Asked about Garcia’s threat to stay put in the Capitol, the acting governor said “That’s not my problem. That’s the problem of the police.”

Letters were sent by the DILG to depository banks of the Province informing them that Magpale was the new Acting Governor whose signature would be honored.

“I’ve told suppliers who called up the office that I will not sign check payments for goods or services that I have not approved,” said Magpale, including food catering and bus services used in current activities of Garcia with her allies.


Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, Police Regional Office (PRO) chief, paid a courtesy call on Magple with his senior officers in the morning. He assured that he would abide by legal processes and practice “maximum tolerance” with the crowd of supporters, mostly barangay health workers, who were transported by bus from different towns starting Wednesday.

He addressed her as “Governor Magpale” and referred to Garcia as the suspended governor.

It was on Magpale’s instruction that Garbo sent over at least 100 policemen to take down tents and chairs used by Garcia’s supporters in the Capitol quadrangle. Police also closed the entrance gate, posting more guards and adding barricades. People who enter have to show their ID cards.

The sudden confiscation past 9 p.m. caused tempers to flare. At one point, Garcia’s son Paulo went outside to demand from the police what their authority was to do so. He pushed open the metal gate, but had to fall back when police stepped in to close it again, as reinforcements arrived past 3 a.m. yesterday.

The heightened security in the Capitol compound prompted Garcia’s son-in-law Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco to complain in his Twitter account: “This is Martial Law!”

Garcia, who spent a sleepless night in the Capitol with family members, said Capitol department heads remain loyal to her as the duly-elected governor despite the oath-taking of Vice Governor Magpale.

“I will continue to discharge my function as governor of Cebu and if they want to stop me, then they have to do that over my dead body,” she said at a press conference after meeting with her department heads for two hours.


Garcia said she was ready in case police try to forcibly remove her from office, although Magpale said there was no plan to go to that extent and produce needless drama.

“I shall continue to hold office right here and they can only stop me if they will physically drag me out of this office,” said Garcia.

She said her lawyers have been seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the suspension order. She wouldn’t say which court the petition was filed in. Cebu Daily News learned from other sources the remedy was sought in the Court of Appeals in Manila.

Garcia was ordered suspended based on an administrative complaint filed by the late Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez in 2010, accusing her of usurpation of authority.

The Office of the President, on recommendation of the DILG, found Garcia guilty of “grave abuse of authority” for various acts, including slashing the budget of the vice governor’s office by over 60 percent, and taking over the appointments of his staff and consultants.

The diminished role of the vice governor, a Liberal Party member, so embittered him he filed several cases and told his daughter on his deathbed, after losing his battle with lung cancer, to continue with the complaint, which Gigi Sanchez-Zaballero did.

Garcia’s camp said the suspension order was “politically motivated” to disable a non-administration candidate in vote-rich Cebu which counts 2.4 million voters.

At least 23 mayors and 3 former mayors went to the Capitol to express support for Garcia. One of the most vocal was Daanbantayan Mayor Ma. Luisa Loot, who brought supporters with her from the northern town.

Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia, brother of Gwen, is head of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP)-Cebu chapter. He said the league would issue a statement declaring support for his sister.

Gwen Garcia said the banks that deal with Magpale are at risk of being sued.

“We are warning the banks, we have cases to file if they suddenly change the signatories of the accounts. When we get the TRO, they will be in hot water,” she said.

Garcia vowed not to relinquish power and said she was ready to hang on.

“Last night I wasn’t able to sleep. I don’t have a bed here. I never fashioned my office to be a bedroom. Tonight I may sleep on the floor or get a mattress.”

Garcia said public support for her keeps her going.

“I can’t be in high spirits (in this situation) but because the Cebuanos are behind me, this gives me the will to fight and to go on – for them and for Cebu,” she said. With Ador Vincent Mayol and Carmel Loise Matus

12-21-2012, 08:56 AM
Palace to Gwen: respect legal process

Cebu Daily News

7:24 am | Friday, December 21st, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Malacańang appealed to suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to respect the “process” and “avail of legal remedy” such as seeking a restraining order instead of choosing to defy the suspension order handed down by Malacańang Tuesday.

“We’ve said, time and again, that there is a legal process that is to be followed. All lawyers know that Gov. Gwen Garcia has available legal remedies of which, I think, she has already said that she is planning to avail of,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a Palace interview.

She surmised that one possible legal remedy was a restraining order from a “higher court.”

“But, until such time that it is handed down, then we appeal that the decision be respected and the suspension (order) be followed,” she said.

Garcia has refused to vacate her office in the Cebu Capitol in defiance of a six-month suspension order issued against her by Malacańang on Tuesday.

On Thursday morning, at least 65 policemen were deployed at the Capitol grounds in Cebu waiting for further orders.

“This will not necessarily end in something like that,” she said, when asked if Palace would force Garcia to leave the Cebu Capitol.

She echoed Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ appeal for “calm,” allowing all parties concerned to observe the legal process instead of taking actions that would further aggravate the political situation in the province.

Valte also flatly rejected a claim by the suspended governor that the Palace order had political undertones since Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale is a sister of Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras.

“First of all, let’s remember that this complaint was filed by the former Vice Governor and not the current Vice Governor,” said Valte.

A legal team in the Office of the President had drafted the order that was signed on Dec. 17 by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and that Almendras had nothing to do with it, she said.

“No, no. Just for your information, there is a unit in the Office of the President that takes care of disciplinary issues. Secretary Almendras is not in any way involved in that process,” she said.

“And for us, for the executive not to investigate, at the very least, what would be their accusation against us? They would say, ‘whitewash.’ If we act on it, they will say, ‘it’s political persecution.’ So, as far as we are concerned, we are doing what the executive is mandated to do,” said Valte.

“Whatever she says as possible—political or an alleged political undertone—will be of no moment because what the court will decide on is the (evidence presented before it). The basis will be the document itself,” said Valte, adding:

Referring to the suspension order of the President, she said “wee should just talk about that—the basis, the evidence submitted.”

The Palace will respect any restraining order from the appellate court, if any, said Valte. /INQUIRER

12-21-2012, 09:09 AM
Court rules Aga, wife not voters in Camarines Sur

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:50 pm | Thursday, December 20th, 2012

A judge in Bicol has ordered the exclusion of actor Aga Muhlach and his wife Charlene from the voters’ list of San Jose, Camarines Sur, endangering his candidacy for Congress.

In a 13-page ruling, Judge Noel Paulite ordered that the names of Muhlach and his wife be stricken off the list of voters in Barangay San Juan, San Jose, Camarines Sur, after they failed to comply with the six-months residency requirement for registered voters.

The actor is running for congressman in Camarines Sur’s fourth congressional district. He will be up against Felix William “Wimpy” Fuentebella, son of last-term Deputy House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella.

In his order, Paulite said “respondents failed to comply with the six-months residency requirement.”

Paulite said Mayor Antonio Chavez had revoked his “affirmation of the spouses’ alleged residency” in San Jose while Cesar B. Chavez, the owner of the house that the Muhlachs leased, asked that the lease be terminated.

“Oddly, though, the Muhlach family was rarely seen occupying the house. As a matter of fact, it is but proper to construe that they almost never resided therein,” Paulite said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Muhlach’s counsel, said they would bring the case to the Court of Appeals.

“I haven’t seen the ruling but we will file a petition for certiorari at the Court of Appeals and secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) in order to stop the implementation of [Paulite’s] order,” Macalintal said.

He said Paulite’s ruling does not mean that Muhlach’s name would not be included in the ballot that would be printed by the Commission on Elections.

“That won’t happen because the order is not yet final and executory. Unless the Court of Appeals does not issue a TRO, but we are confident that the appellate court will rule in our favor,” Macalintal said.

“There is a similar case involving the son of former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jaslosjos, where I was also the lawyer, and we won in the Court of Appeals,” he added.

The Muhlachs had asked Paulite to inhibit himself from the case because the Fuentebellas were supposed to have been instrumental in the judge’s appointment to his post.

“[That] is unfounded and a misconception… To entertain such erroneous notion is a pathetic fallacy,” Paulite said. Philip C. Tubeza

12-21-2012, 09:12 AM
^ Bakit naman kasi atat n atat maging Congressman si Aga? Wala na ba siyang career bilang artista? I find that hard to believe. And if he says he wants to serve the people, why in Cam Sur? Why not in Muntinlupa or QC where he and his family have actually resided for the better part of the last three decades?

12-21-2012, 09:44 AM
Public office is not absolute power

Cebu Daily News

9:27 am | Friday, December 21st, 2012

Suspended Gov. Gwen Garcia has vowed to stay put in the Capitol, saying she would only leave “over my dead body”.

In clinging to her post, Garcia invokes a mandate of Cebuano voters who elected her to serve until June 30, 2013, just six months away, the same period of the penalty of suspension.

Acting Governor Agnes Magpale insists that her ascension to the governor’s office is a matter of duty, based on the rule of succession in the Local Government Code.

Garcia doesn’t lack for supporters but how many are ready to barricade themselves in with her at the Capitol for the Christmas holidays?

The barangay health workers who arrived by busloads from remote towns were amply supported. With the change of signatories, though, fund releases in the Capitol would no longer support the cost of bus rentals, packed lunches and their overnight lodging in the Sugbo budget hotel.

Capitol employees, especially department heards, are caught in the crossfire.

Their Christmas bonus hangs in the balance, a hefty P20,000 based on last year’s gift, while Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre ponders where his loyalty belongs – his boss or the institution.

Garcia was unprepared for the lightning bolt that was a six-month suspension.

She was confident the decision wouldn’t hurt her. Reliable sources said the Garcia camp was expecting the case to result in only a reprimand.

Being kicked out of her well-appointed Capitol office and the welcoming arms of her supporters in variuos towns is particularly painful coming in the last six months of her swansong term.

Is this the way for the eight-year reign of Cebu’s first woman governor to end?

The six-month suspension over a usurpation of authority case filed by the late vice governor Greg Sanchez in 2010 is indeed harsh. It is tantamount to removal from office.

Is this political harasssment or a justifiable suspension? Possibly both.

If Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who penned the decision in July, had not died in a plane crash in August, we’re sure he woud have acted swiftly to implement the suspension so it doesn’t land a week before Christmas. Few would be able to say Robredo acted based on political favors. He was Mr. Good Governance with no tolerance for abuse.

But behind the scenes, perhaps efforts were made as well to delay the release— until it fell, conveniently at a period that inflicted maximum pain with little time to get relief from court.

The lament about political harassment can lead the public away for the core issue, which is accountability of public officials.

An election mandate does not confer absolute power. Public service is still bound by checks and balances.

Let the rule of law prevail in the Capitol.

Sam Miguel
12-26-2012, 08:23 AM
Party-list purge to save gov’t millions, says Comelec

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:04 am | Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

The Commision on Elections (Comelec) is expecting to save millions in government funds in next year’s elections with its move to trim the participating party-list groups to only those that are compliant with the law.

Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the Comelec’s decision to disqualify dubious organizations supposedly representing marginalized sectors would also mean lesser ballot forms to be printed and for the voters, shorter queuing time to cast their ballots.

In the 2010 elections, more than 180 groups were allowed to participate in the elections, which entailed longer ballots, Sarmiento said in an interview with reporters.

For the coming polls, the Comelec is looking at less than 100 organizations to be printed in the ballot should the Supreme Court eventually decide in favor of the election body, which disqualified 194 new and existing party-list groups from the 2013 midterm balloting.

So far, only 83 groups have been officially allowed to seek congressional seats through the party-list system elections. But more than 50, whose accreditation were either denied or canceled by the Comelec, were able to seek relief from the Supreme Court.

“If we are looking at less than 120 groups joining next year, that means lesser ballots for printing plus voters will save time going over the list when they cast their votes so that also means faster voting,” said Sarmiento.

He said savings could be “millions in pesos” if there was a shorter list of party-list groups since imported and high-quality paper as well as special ink and bar codes were used for the ballot papers.

The National Printing Office has awarded the P780-million contract to supply and print 55 million ballots for the coming elections to the Holy Family Printing Corp. and its partner Canon Marketing Philippines.

Sarmiento also said a shorter ballot listing would improve the overall voting experience as voters will no longer have to take so much time looking for their choice of party-list group, thus cutting short voting time.

“There are really pluses if ballots are shorter,” he said.

For the first time in the recent history of the party-list system elections, the Comelec decided to review the qualifications of party-list groups vying representation in Congress.

It earlier admitted that the system was becoming a joke with the presence of bogus groups, whose nominees were either multimillionaires or members of a powerful political clan in the country.

Under the law and existing jurisprudence, only those belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sector of society should be allowed to participate in the party-list system of elections.

Sam Miguel
12-26-2012, 08:25 AM
Cebu Gov Garcia spends Christmas inside office

By Carmel Loise Matus

Inquirer Visayas

1:48 am | Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

CEBU CITY—Christmas songs filled the room. Food and wine were served. Children were running around as family members and friends were engaged in conversation.

It looked like a typical Filipino Christmas eve celebration but it wasn’t.

Suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and her family members spent Christmas inside her office at the capitol as she continued to defy Malacańang order suspending her for six months for grave abuse of authority.

Garcia told reporters on Tuesday that this year’s celebration was “most different” because for the first time, she and her family had to spend it away from their home.

She said that usually, she and her family members would gather at the house of her parents, Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia and retired Judge Esperanza Garcia, in Dumanjug town, southern Cebu where they would exchange gifts.

This time, she added she was not able to buy gifts for her loved ones because she could not leave her office due to the suspension order.

Yet, her Christmas this year was most meaningful.

“Christmas is not about the place. It’s about the people. Even if we are facing a big crisis now, this is where we can see the importance of family. The family stands behind you and this is what they showed me last night,” said Garcia.

Also joining Garcia in celebrating Christmas are her children, in-laws, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, brothers, several friends and supporters.

Christmas songs were being played at the governor’s office as the guests arrived. Two round tables covered in emerald green table cloth were set up at her office.

Before taking dinner, Garcia sang a famous Cebuano Christmas carole, “Kasadya ning Taknaa (‘Ang Pasko ay Sumapit’ or Christmas has arrived).” She was joined by her father, Deputy Speaker Garcia, daughter Christina and her husband, Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco, and her son Paulo.

There were baked stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, lechon, fried shanghai lumpia, beef steak and caldereta spread on a rectangular table, some of which were brought by friends and relatives.

Desserts included buko pandan, assorted cupcakes, chocolate cake, grapes, apples and oranges.

Bottles of Sumiller Manny O wine were served to the guests.

Unlike the usual capitol parties, there was no waiter to serve food to the guests.

Instead, house helpers of the Garcias served as waiters.

When the clock struck midnight, Frasco surprised his wife, Christina with a birthday cake with two lighted candles. Christina turned 31 on December 25.

Christina, Paulo and his wife Michelle then surrounded Garcia and hugged her.

12-28-2012, 09:18 AM
CBCP to push probe of voting machines

By Jhunnex Napallacan

Inquirer Visayas

12:35 am | Thursday, December 27th, 2012

CEBU CITY—The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) believes the computerized voting machines successfully used in the 2010 elections are flawed and he wants them thoroughly examined before these are used in next year’s midterm elections.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma’s doubts about the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines echo those of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who has been saying for some time that the voting machines are not perfect.

On Wednesday, Pimentel called on the country’s computer experts to join the hunt for glitches in the source codes that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will use in the machines.

Made by the Argentinian company Smartmatic International, the PCOS machine uses paper ballots and counts the votes.

The machine may be turned on by using a security key entrusted to the polling precinct’s board of election inspectors.

Security pins are needed to configure the machine and show that there is no entry or vote in its memory.

The machine scans the marked ballots fed into it by voters. At the end of the balloting, the machine counts the votes and prints the returns.

The returns can be electronically transmitted to the Comelec central server and the board of canvassers at the municipal, city, provincial and national levels.

Defective machine

Palma, CBCP president, told a news conference at the Archbishop’s Palace on Wednesday that he believed the PCOS machines had defects.

“I, for one, can tell, or I will say I’m not ashamed to tell people that I also believe [the PCOS machine has defects]. It has to be examined and that is part of the agenda of the CBCP,” Palma said.

Palma was responding to a question about the possibility that the PCOS machines could still be manipulated and used in cheating, like what happened in some parts of the country in 2010.

He said the PCOS machine would be on the agenda of the CBCP meeting in January.

Palma said the conference would discuss the voting machines because many people had reason to believe that the machines had “a lot of defects.”

But Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the PCOS machines were not defective.

Castillano said the Comelec had plans to put in additional features in the PCOS machines to enhance its security and integrity for next year’s elections.

“We assure the public that the Comelec will not agree to the use of defective PCOS machines ,” he said.

“We will not compromise the integrity of the elections just to push through with the polls. If the PCOS machines are defective, then we will not use these.”

Never proven

He maintained that the accusations that the PCOS machines were used to cheat in the 2010 elections had not been proven.

Castillano recalled that in the court proceedings on the election protests questioning the results of PCOS count, the manual count showed the same results as the computerized count.

He cited as an example the protest of a losing candidate in San Fernando town in Cebu province where the court recount showed the same results as the PCOS count.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and a reelectionist on the administration ticket, called on the Comelec to be less restrictive in having experts examine the source codes that would be used in the PCOS machines.

Pimentel said the Comelec should allow the source codes to be examined outside the commission’s premises.

Voters’ trust

“Our objective is to bring back the trust of the people in the Comelec and the elections,” Pimentel said in a statement.

“A review of the source codes would allow the detection of glitches, flaws and vulnerabilities in our electronic electoral system,” he said.

“Such flaws in the software and the hardware that use them must be detected and corrected if the 2013 and succeeding elections are to be protected from sabotage or attempts to favor any particular candidate,” Pimentel added.

Pimentel invited the country’s information technology experts to volunteer to help review the PCOS source codes.

He said the Senate panel on electoral reforms would gather together the experts for the examination of the codes for flaws that may be used for sabotage and fraud. — [I]With reports from Norman Bordadora in Manila and Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
01-03-2013, 02:43 PM
How Gwen Garcia can unmake the Jojo Binay presidency


By William M. Esposo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 3, 2013 - 12:00am

Time and again I’ve counseled my good friend and kumpadre, Vice President (VP) Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, that his political battle is in 2016, not 2013. The biggest blunder that Jojo Binay could make is to take an antagonistic position against President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) prematurely and find himself outside of the cabinet.

UNA United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), the coalition of ‘hybrid mongrels” that Jojo leads can lose 10 senate seats to the administration coalition in the 2013 elections and it wouldn’t erode Jojo Binay’s electability if he remains a P-Noy administration cabinet member.

“Hybrid mongrels” refers to the shadowy opportunistic characters that have found home in a political coalition that doesn’t even clarify if they’re opposition or administration. To protect the guilty, we shall no longer list down these shadowy characters that UNA harbors. The past deeds of these “hybrid mongrels” betray their loathsome pedigree.

By taking a premature break with P-Noy, Jojo Binay will be relinquishing what could be his rightful claim to have contributed to the landmark achievements of one of the cleanest administrations this country has ever had. I am projecting that by 2016, the P-Noy accomplishments will be even more impressive — making it a formidable political capital. By taking a premature break with P-Noy, Jojo Binay would have conceded to Mar Roxas, the projected Liberal Party presidential candidate in 2016, the full claim of anointed inheritor of the P-Noy legacy.

It’s a no-brainer to deduce that there’s no choice for Jojo Binay but to remain in the P-Noy cabinet. So what’s this Gwen Garcia bovine ordure all about? You see this is what I’ve been saying — that the bad company VP Jojo keeps clouds his intelligence, prodding him to make bad decisions. Did VP Jojo really think that Gwen Garcia and her clan has that much hold of Cebuano votes and can equate with the impact of a P-Noy endorsement of Mar Roxas in 2016?

The problem with VP Jojo Binay is that he has yet to outgrow his local politics mindset. He seems to have no appreciation that insofar as presidential elections are concerned — it’s a battle of political brands, not of local support. Local support cannot make an unpopular presidential candidate win, as in the case of Joe de Venecia versus Joseph Estrada in 1998. On the contrary, local support tends to gravitate to the clearly popular presidential candidate, as in the case of Noynoy Aquino in 2010 who rode on greatly limited Liberal Party machinery that was only augmented by people power.

VP Jojo Binay may have defeated Mar in 2010 and is maintaining a strong pubic approval rating as a member of P-Noy’s cabinet. It would be a mega blunder to test how strong his political mettle is now — with all those “hybrid mongrels” seen around him and against the strongest political brand in the country today. Unless VP Binay has lost his appreciation of the law, he should know that the case of Gwen Garcia was not made by the P-Noy administration but was only implemented according to the rule of law. Even if the timing stinks, Jojo Binay cannot fault the administration for implementing a court order. On the contrary, VP Jojo ‑ as a cabinet member — is duty bound to defend the administration.

I suspect that VP Jojo may have been deluded by some of the “hybrid mongrels” in their coalition into thinking that the Catholic Church — still smarting from their wounds during the RH Bill battle — will carry him and UNA to victory. The truth is the Catholic Church cannot make those “hybrid mongrels” look clean or fully trustworthy.

Some rabid Church leaders hate P-Noy to the point of supporting a coup plot if that was a viable option. VP Jojo should distance himself from such misadventures. The military and the police have been immensely impressed by this administration and its determination to address their needs and clean up their organizations. No country will ever recognize a new government that will oust this well respected president. It will be condemned here and abroad. This misadventure is going to be considered as the most ungrateful act that VP Jojo made against Cory Aquino.

To attract many voters, Jojo, has to convince them that he’ll maintain the same level of trustworthiness as that of the P-Noy administration. Those “hybrid mongrels” of UNA transmit the opposite image ‑ the threat of acquiring political rabies.

Lastly, VP Jojo, my good friend and kumpadre, should wean himself from the company of the Estradas. The Estradas are for the Estradas and they have an ambitious son positioned at the wings, waiting for VP Jojo to fumble. I would even suspect that they might be purposely leading VP Jojo into political Waterloos, like this Gwen Garcia bad decision, in the hope that VP Jojo’s political stock plummets and it leads to the rising of the son. 

Many of VP Jojo’s other friends felt the same way about this Gwen Garcia fumble. Already, some text messages are circulating that Binay has declared war on P-Noy. A declaration of war against a popular and loved P-Noy administration is nothing more than plain and simple political seppuku for Jojo Binay.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 09:05 AM
135 party-list groups to be included in Comelec raffle today

By Sheila Crisostomo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - At least 135 party-list organizations will be included in the raffle by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) today to determine how their names will be placed on the ballots for the elections in May.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said 84 of the groups were found qualified by the poll body while 51 were disqualified but secured status quo ante orders from the Supreme Court (SC).

“If other groups will manage to get status quo ante orders from the Supreme Court after the raffle the Comelec will decide how their names will be printed on the ballots,” Sarmiento said in a telephone interview.

In previous polls, the Comelec printed the names of party-list groups on the ballots in alphanumeric order.

“We want to get rid of the natural bias if your name gets printed on the upper portion of the list. Through this system, groups will have their corresponding numbers and they can campaign using these numbers,” Sarmiento said.

The Comelec will use a tambiolo and numbered balls in the raffle.

“This is the first time we will be doing this in the entire history of our party-list system,” Sarmiento said.

Sam Miguel
01-08-2013, 09:14 AM
‘Epal’ politicians told: Keep off Quiapo fiesta

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:31 am | Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Please don’t give in to “tarpaulitics” temptation.

An environmental watchdog yesterday urged politicians not to put up their “Happy Fiesta” tarpaulins along the processional route of the image of the Black Nazarene as they defile the solemnity of the occasion.

“Tarpaulitics,” or what is popularly called “epal,” refers to the shameless use of tarpaulins to advertise the names and faces of politicians and election candidates.

“Tarpaulins do not lead to a happy fiesta. In fact, tarpaulins are a nuisance that can confuse the spiritual message of unity,” Edwin Alejo, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator, said in a statement.

Propaganda tarpaulins also add to the enormous fiesta clutter and trash that will have to be disposed of later, the group said.

“[They] block the public view of the procession, harm the trees and mess up the bridges, electric cables, lampposts and structures where the tarps are usually fastened or hung,” Alejo said.

The feast commemorates the first procession to transfer the Black Nazarene from a church in Intramuros to the minor basilica in Quiapo held on Jan. 9, 1767.

Many take part in the annual feast to implore God for help in solving money, family or business problems. Some come to ask to be healed of maladies.

The original statue, which shows Christ bent under the weight of a heavy cross, was made by a Mexican sculptor and brought to Manila by a Recollect priest in 1607.

The image arrived from Mexico on board a ship that had caught fire. It did not entirely escape the blaze, resulting in its charcoal color.

Alejo said it was very tempting for politicians eyeing the 2013 elections to use the occasion to sell themselves through “happy fiesta” tarpaulin banners.

“We appeal to their sense of propriety and defy such a temptation,” Alejo added. “Tarpaulitics has no place in an event whose only focus, should and must be, the Black Nazarene.”

Instead of spending on tarpaulins, EcoWaste urged politicians to provide devotees with free meals in biodegradable or reusable packaging, provide waste segregation bins in appropriate spots and pay for personnel to help in the postfiesta cleanup.

Last year, the Manila police district director said 1.2 million attended a dawn Mass at Quirino Grandstand before the procession began, and 1.5 million others muscled their way through the streets to bring the icon to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

The then National Capital Region Police Office chief placed the number of devotees who attended the Mass and lined the 5-kilometer procession route at 7 million to 7.5 million. Reports from Erika Sauler and Jeannette I. Andrade

Sam Miguel
01-08-2013, 09:16 AM
Palace defends DSWD ‘anti-epal’ campaign

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:30 am | Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Malacańang on Monday defended the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) from criticism that it was allotting P10.5 million for its campaign against “epal’’ or credit grabbers.

Undersecretary Abigail Valte said the P10.5 million was the entire budget of the social marketing service that leads DSWD’s advocacy to apprise beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of their rights against credit-grabbing politicians.

The deputy presidential spokesperson said the social marketing unit was in charge of disseminating the department’s various programs to the public through the media. She said the amount included allocations for personnel services and miscellaneous and other operating expenses.

“Essentially, it’s an advocacy of the DSWD to inform the beneficiaries themselves. Because we’re getting reports that politicians were warning beneficiaries that if they did not vote for them they’d be stricken off the list,’’ she said in a briefing.

Valte said the advocacy became more relevant in view of the upcoming campaign for the midterm elections in May.

“What we are trying to safeguard against is that the program becomes a tool for patronage politics. We don’t want that to happen,’’ she said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casińo has called the public’s attention to the DSWD plan to spend P10.5 million in CCT funds for its campaign against credit-grabbers. He questioned the campaign, saying this wasn’t part of the department’s mandate.

Casińo said the DSWD published on Dec. 31 last year an invitation for a service provider for newspaper publications, and the production and airing of TV and radio commercials for the CCT’s “Bawal ang EPAL dito (Credit grabbers are banned here)” campaign.

“The DSWD wants to use the people’s money for something not within its mandate or expertise. Further, given the wide definition of what epal is, the funds can be used for partisan political activity against the critics of the 4Ps and the Aquino administration,” he said.

Patterned after Latin American countries’ CCT, the program provides direct education and health subsidies to the poorest households that comply with certain conditions such as high class attendance for children and regular prenatal checkups for mothers.

Of the DSWD’s P56.3 billion budget for 2013, the CCT program was allotted P44.2 billion.

The three-year-old scheme gives up to P1,400 a month to each of the poorest families who meet certain criteria, like keeping their children in school and bringing them, as well as pregnant family members, regularly to government health clinics.

Sam Miguel
01-08-2013, 09:17 AM

Police chief sizes up ‘threat’ of governor’s brother, seeks son’s gun license cancellation

Cebu Daily News

8:14 am | Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

After Byron Garcia dared Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo to a fistfight and warned of a riot in the provincial jail, the police will have a closer look at whether Byron’s present and past actions fall squarely within the law.

The chief of the Police Regional Office (PRO-7) yesterday ordered his staff to study the record of the brother of suspended Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who marked her 20th day of staying put in her Capitol office.

“Anything which I perceive a threat to the PNP organization is subjected for intelligence profiling,” Garbo told reporters.

“We will deal with him.”

The riot threat was a false alarm in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), where activities were “normal” on Sunday and yesterday, according to the OIC warden Romeo Manansala.

However, a commotion on Sunday over the stabbing of an inmate in the Cebu City jail prompted police to send a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to both jails in barangay Kalunasan, where acting Gov. Agnes Magpale was due to visit CPDRC inmates on their “family day” to greet them a happy new year, a visit that was aborted.

Byron yesterday continued his verbal attack on Garbo, saying the Garcias were not afraid of his “psy-war” and that the police officer should be ashamed of picking a fight with a woman.

He announced in a Capitol meeting of mayors of Garcia’s One Cebu party that his sister, the governor, is preparing a complaint against Garbo for his continued “harassment” in fielding PNP personnel to guard the Capitol building and giving her supporters a hard time entering the compound.

Byron, a former Capitol security consultant who used to oversee the provincial jail, let loose more bombastic challenges, this time for Garbo to revoke the license of a .45 caliber Gloc handgun Byron said he owns.

“Ikaw, Garbo, palagpoton tika sa umaabot nga usa o duha ka adlaw kay mura kag si kinsa nga mo labaw pa sa imong amo. One-star general ka lang,” said Byron in the mayor’s meeting. (You, Garbo, will get get kicked out in one or two days. You think you are higher than your own superior. You’re just a one-star general.)

Byron, who once brandished an Armalite in a dispute with a neighbor in a Filinvest subdivision last year, reminded Garbo that it was only the PNP Fire and Explosives Office in Camp Crame that could cancel and revoke a license.

Garbo yesterday said he would “not dignify” Byron’s challenge to a fistfight

“I instructed my staff to study whatever action is proper to take against any statement given by Byron”, Garbo told reporters.

“We are not taking this personally.”

Asked if he had any message for Byron, Garbo said “just keep it up at sumunod siya sa batas”.


In front of reporters, Chief Supt. Garbo yesterday finalized his recommendation to Camp Crame to cancel gun licenses of the governor’s son Pablo “Paolo” Garcia III and two companions involved in a Dec. 19 confrontation with the police at the Capitol.

“I will sign and approve the cancellations of gun licenses of Pablo Garcia III and two others”, Garbo told reporters before he actually signed it.

Paolo Garcia has seven firearms registered at the office of Firearms Explosives Unit (FEU), while Tonyson Lee has four registered guns and Jose Mari Primitivo Cal has three, according to the police.

Paolo, who manages the family’s 20-year-old security agency, earlier lamented that he was being “harassed” by the police and would be unable to defend himself and his family if the police revoke his firearms licenses.

His mother, in a press conference last week, warned that she would hold Garbo personally responsible “if anything happens to my children.”

While the police are under instructions to observe “super maximum tolerance”, relations with the Garcias have gone downhill since Dec. 19, when her six-month suspension was served.

The police filed direct assault charges against her son and two companions for allegedly hitting a police officer on the head several times when law enforcers removed tents at the Capitol. They in turn were charged with robbery and grave abuse of authority by Garcia’s son.

Lee is a member of Alpha Kappa Rho while Cal is a former agent of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). All of them were facing direct assault charges after they were accuse of hitting Inspector Alvino Enguito, team leader of the Regional Public Safety Batallion, on the head.

Garbo said his recommendation to cancel their gun licenses was virtually assured of approval by PNP Chief Allan Purisima in Camp Crame, whom he consulted beforehand.

Asked what was the basis, Garbo cited the behavior of Paolo and his two friends in “assaulting” a police officer last Dec. 19 at the Capitol compound which he said was shown on TV footage.

Paolo has repeatedly denied hitting the police officer.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tomas Osmeńa said the threats of Byron against the police officer were part of the “drama” of the Garcias to project the suspended governor as a victim of oppression.

“As far as I’m concerned, Gwen is making a fool of herself and Byron is adding to this perception. She wants to be kicked out of the Capitol because she wants to be projected as a martyr,” said Osmeńa.

But he said her continued stay as a “hermit” at the Capitol had its benefits because this prevents her from campaigning in the province against the Liberal Party’s gubernatorial candidate Hilario “Junjun” Davide Jr.

Garcia has deplored her suspension by the Office of the President as “illegal” and a “power grab” by the Liberal Party.

She has vowed to stay in her Capitol office, saying she can only be removed “over my dead body” , while she waits for the court to reverse the suspension order and issue a temporary restraining order.

The case is scheduled for oral arguments in the Court of Appeals in Manila on Jan. 10. /Chito O. Aragon and Renan Alangilan, Correspondents with Reporters Dale Israel and Chief of Reporters Doris Bongcac

Sam Miguel
01-08-2013, 09:18 AM
‘Press freedom assault’; Gwen denies hand

Cebu Daily News

8:01 am | Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

SUSPENDED governor Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday denied having a hand in Sun Star’s decision to suspend the column of her frequent critic, Bobby Nalzaro.

“Wala ko’y labot ana kang Nalzaro kay sa mga elder Garcia na nga decision ug ako wa ma-belong sa ‘elder’ (I’m not involved in Nalzaro’s case. It was the decision of the Garcia elders and I don’t belong to that circle),” she said.

Liberal Party Cebu spokesman Democrito Barcenas condemned the removal of Nalzaro’s column as curtailment of press freedom.

“They (Garcia’s camp) keep saying there’s martial law. Yes, there is and it is in Sun Star. That’s an assault on freedom of the press,” said Barcenas.

Nalzaro, a popular radio-TV anchor, confirmed on Sunday to Cebu Daily News that he had stopped submitting columns since the new year after he was advised by his editors to discontinue writing columns in Sun Star Cebu and its Cebuano tabloid Superbalita as the management had to accede to the request of elders of the Garcia family who had complained about him.

Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said she was “saddened” by the development.

“Mr. Nalzaro is very independent minded. I was sued for temporarily closing Sugbo TV which is not even an independent media outlet and now here’s this development,” she said.

Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia yesterday said Nalzaro’s attacks against his daughter in his columns were too personal.

But he said they have nothing to do with the suspension of his columns.

“Ila kana nga decision, igo ra ming mi-express sa among dissatisfaction anang iyang mga columns nga personal kaayo (That’s their decision. We just expressed our dissatisfaction with his columns that had become too personal) but we had no influence over the management of Sun Star,” he said in a radio dyLA interview.

The elder Garcia said he did not know about the suspension of Nalzaro’s column until the radio station called him to seek his comment.

Isolde Amante, editor in chief of Sun Star Cebu, earlier confirmed that the decision was made by the newspaper’s board of directors which is headed by Jesus “Sonny” Garcia, a first cousin of the suspended governor.

In his radio program over dySS yesterday, Nalzaro said he was told of the board’s decision right after New Year’s day.

He said he revealed the reasons only now in answer to queries from column readers who asked why his pieces no longer appear in the two papers.

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Cebu secretary-general Aaron Pedrosa described the suspension of Nalzaro’s column as a curtailment of press freedom.

Pedrosa said he did not entirely agree with what Nalzaro writes in his columns, recalling that Nalzaro would tag their group as “walhon” or leftist.

“But this is a matter of grave public concern that even press freedom is being curtailed. Asa pa man diay padulong kining padayon nga standoff sa Capitol? (Where is this Capitol standoff heading?)” he said./Renan Alangilan, Ador Vincent Mayol, and Jhunnex Napallacan

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 09:26 AM
Enrile gave 18 senators P1.6M each for Christmas

But only P250K each to 4 others

By Juliet Labog-Javellana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:01 am | Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile played Santa Claus last Christmas, making a list and checking it twice as he gave gifts to Senate members and personnel apparently on the basis of who were “naughty” or “nice.”

Enrile gave 22 senators a total of almost P30 million, a gift that one senator said was “unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

The cash gift allegedly came from the funds allotted for the Senate post vacated by President Aquino when he won the presidential election in 2010.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday tried to set an interview with Enrile in connection with the cash gift but he was not immediately available. A member of his staff said Enrile was on his way out of town and could no longer be reached for comment.

The various senators the Inquirer talked to agreed that the P1.6 million bonanza for each of the 18 senators was the biggest yet. Enrile has been Senate President since November 2008.

The senators could not remember the amounts distributed in Christmases past but the highest one recalled that it was close to P1 million.

Enrile possibly made all Senate employees happy, since according to the Inquirer sources—“everyone, including the drivers and the security personnel”—benefited from bigger bonuses last Christmas, amounting to up to P120,000 each. Some of them said the amount varied from the previous P55,000 to P80,000.

The Christmas gifts, billed as “additional MOOE” or maintenance and other operating expenses, certainly made the Senate one of the happiest workplaces last Christmas, but some were happier than the others.

That was because the Senate President’s Christmas list for P1.6 million per senator did not include four of his colleagues.

Senators Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Alan Peter and sister Pia Cayetano got only P250,000 each, Inquirer sources said.

Gigi Reyes letter

The Inquirer obtained a copy of a two-page letter signed by Enrile’s chief of staff, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, to Senate Budget Director Rene Chua confirming in writing Enrile’s verbal instructions.

“The SP (Senate President) is authorizing the release of the additional MOOE (next 2 tranches for December to the ff. senators):” the letter said.

The handwritten note listed Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Edgardo Angara, Franklin Drilon, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmeńa III, Joker Arroyo, Manuel Villar, Teofisto Guingona III, Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr., Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Gregorio Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ralph Recto and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The note said Enrile was “waiving/foregoing any further additional MOOE” for himself.

Senate sources said Chua got verbal instructions to give P1.6 million to 18 senators and P250,000 to four senators.

The Inquirer was able to confirm the gifts from three senators who got P1.6 million each but they asked not to be named so as not to rankle their colleagues.

Curiously, three other senators on the list denied receiving the money.

The Inquirer also saw a copy of a check for P250,000 issued from Enrile’s Senate account.

‘Nothing irregular’

Two senators who said they were given P1.6 million each said there was nothing irregular about the “gift.”

They explained that the Senate President had realigned to savings the budget for the 24th and vacant Senate post and distributed the funds to other senators.

For their additional Christmas take, the senators have President Aquino to thank for. The 24th seat was the one held by the then senator before he ran and won for President in 2010.

“There’s nothing irregular about it. Under the Constitution, the heads of constitutional offices like the Senate President are given the power to realign and utilize appropriations in the budget to other existing items,” one senator told the Inquirer.

“In the case of the Senate, there is MOOE for 24 senators but there are only 23 (of us). Therefore, there are unutilized funds which can be realigned to other existing items,” the senator added.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 09:28 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Accepted practice

Another senator said using savings to give away as additional MOOE or bonuses was an “accepted and regular practice” in the Senate and other government agencies.

“You can source or pay incentives out of your savings. That is a traditional practice,” the second senator said.

The Senate’s MOOE for 2012 amounted to P1.4 billion. It includes travel and communication expenses, rent, supplies and utilities, professional services and representation expenses.

But the two senators said the Senate President also had the option to return the unused budget to the treasury.

“Of course, we have that option to realign or not to realign,” the other senator said.

“Yes we can. In some cases we return (it),” the second senator said.


But another senator found the distribution of the cash gift as anomalous and “very suspicious.”

The senator said that while the Senate President was authorized to use so-called savings of the Senate, discretionary funds should be “disbursed only for public purposes” and supported by required documents.

“A Christmas gift of P1.6 million does not serve a public purpose. It is unconscionable and unconstitutional,” the senator said.

The senator pointed out that the “additional MOOE” was just a cover. “It’s the end of the year. What do you need additional MOOE for?” the senator asked.

‘Bribe’ to head off coup

The senator added that the P1.6 million, in checks issued from Enrile’s account, could be “interpreted as a bribe to prevent a Senate reorganization this Jan. 21, when Congress resumes session.”

Enrile had been the subject of ouster rumors ostensibly for his opposition to major pieces of legislation pushed by the Aquino administration, including the sin tax and reproductive health (RH) bills.

These were passed before the Christmas break after long and acrimonious debates in both houses of Congress and which required the President meeting with lawmakers to make a pitch for the passage of the controversial measures.


Some of Enrile’s own colleagues view his position as Senate President to be untenable because as leader of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), he would be campaigning against the administration alliance during the midterm elections this May.

The senator, who questioned Enrile’s distribution of the money, noted that the Senate President recently talked about possibly resigning after the May elections.

That means, the senator said, Enrile wanted to stay on as Senate President during the crucial three-month campaign period for the midterm elections in May.

The senator said Enrile could use the influence of the office of the third highest official of the land to campaign not only against the administration but also for his son Jack, a representative of Cagayan who is running as a senatorial candidate under the UNA slate.

Enrile belongs to UNA which includes Vice President Jejomar Binay, archrival of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, touted as the possible presidential candidate of the Aquino-led Liberal Party in 2016.

UNA also includes former President Joseph Estrada, whose other son, San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, is also running under the UNA senatorial ticket.

Unfilled positions

A look at the Senate budget for 2012 showed that of the P2.8 billion appropriated last year for the chamber’s operations, there was a considerable amount of savings generated from “unfilled positions” that were otherwise provided for in the budget.

For 2012, there were 2,162 permanent positions in the Senate, including the senators and their staff. But there were only 1,923 filled positions, leaving 239 unfilled.

P51.8M unused

The Senate has a P708.1-million budget for the salaries of all permanent positions but the total budget for the filled positions amounted to P656.3 million. That meant P51.8 million in unused funds.

Aside from this, the Senate Electoral Tribunal which has a separate budget of P105.7 million has 52 unfilled positions, corresponding to unused funds worth P112,000.


Another senator said Enrile’s discrimination against four senators smacked of “professional jealousy and political vindictiveness.”

The two Cayetanos and Arroyo belong to the minority, which Trillanes joined after a feud with Enrile. Santiago is with the majority.

Trillanes had a bitter public spat with Enrile last September when the much younger senator rose to challenge the veteran politician over the bill that sought to divide Camarines Sur province.

Secret negotiator

Angered by this, Enrile revealed Trillanes’ previously secret role as Mr. Aquino’s back-channel negotiator with China.

The Senate President read on the Senate floor embarrassing notes of Trillanes’ meeting with then Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady in Beijing, prompting Trillanes to walk out of the session hall.

Biscuits returned

Last December, Santiago disclosed that Enrile had returned her and Sen. Pia Cayetano’s Christmas gifts (biscuits from Iloilo) because of their sponsorship of the RH bill that Enrile opposed.

Though Enrile was one of Santiago’s wedding sponsors, the veteran senator reportedly also resented Santiago when she upstaged him in a survey of senators’ performance during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Enrile was widely praised for his handling of the trial. He also allegedly resented Sen. Alan Cayetano, the minority leader, for questioning some of his rulings, particularly during the Corona impeachment trial.

Enrile’s prerogative

Aside from the questionable use of the Senate funds as Christmas gifts, a senator wondered about the basis of Enrile in discriminating against his four colleagues.

“What’s the legal basis for excluding four senators?” the senator said.

Another senator laughed when told that four colleagues got only P250,000 each.

That, the senator said, was also up to Enrile to decide. With a report from Norman Bordadora

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 09:34 AM
^^^ In fairness to Apo Johnny it really is his business as to how he uses up those savings, and he is indeed authorized by law to do so. Unless he illegally pocketed the lot of those funds, there really is no legal challenge to how he uses it. If he chosses to distribute it to the entire Senate then it is also thoroughly up to him who gets how much, or even if someone doesn't get jack (pun intended). All this is much ado about nothing, and it even made the Inquirer's banner. Un-friggin'-believable...

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 09:38 AM
SC dismisses petition to ban political dynasties

By Christine O. Avendańo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:39 am | Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the motion for reconsideration sought by a businessman who had asked the high tribunal to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prohibit members of political dynasties from running in the May elections.

In its first en banc session for the year, the high court junked businessman Louis Biraogo’s appeal on the dismissal of his petition earlier by the high tribunal.

“The motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of the Biraogo petition for mandamus for the Comelec to implement the antidynasty ban in the Constitution was denied,” lawyer Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Sp. Guerra, acting SC public information chief, told a press briefing.

But Guerra did not furnish the media with a copy of the court’s resolution on Biraogo’s case.

In October last year, Biraogo filed a 26-page petition for mandamus, asking the high court to order the Comelec to enforce the constitutional ban on political dynasties in the coming national and local polls.

Biraogo had lamented how dynasties still dominate the country’s political landscape, adding that the current batch of candidates for 2013 was the “best testament to that political and constitutional mockery.”

“The refusal of the government, the Congress in particular, to fulfill the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties has been a continuing insult to the Filipino people. Something must be done about this anomaly,” Biraogo said.

Biraogo identified candidates in the forthcoming election who belong to political dynasties: senatorial aspirants Bam Aquino and Margarita Cojuangco, cousin and aunt of President Aquino; the children of Vice President Binay—Nancy, Abigail and Erwin—who are running for senator, congressman and Makati City mayor, respectively; and the family of former President and Manila mayoral bet Joseph Estrada, who has seven relatives running for various positions next year.

The petitioner also cited the Magsaysays, Cayetanos, Villars, Angaras, Revillas, Belmontes, Pacquiaos and Jalosjoses, whose members currently occupy government posts or are running for other positions next year.

Biraogo contended that while the Congress had not yet passed a law defining the term “political dynasties,” the Comelec is vested with implied powers to make a definition and the “ministerial duty” to prohibit political dynasties.

Aside from Biraogo, other petitioners seeking the high court’s intervention in implementing the antipolitical dynasty provision include former Sen. Teofisto Guingona and anticrime advocate Dante Jimenez.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 09:39 AM
^^^ Tough to apply that anti-dynasty mandate of the Constitution vis-a-vis the qualifications for public office also found in that same Constitution.

Sam Miguel
01-11-2013, 08:52 AM
A bribe by any other name is still a bribe

By Neal H. Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:14 pm | Thursday, January 10th, 2013

“What’s in a name?” Juliet asked Romeo in Shakespeare’s play. “That which we call a rose by any other name will smell as sweet.” True. Hence, a bribe by any other name still stinks.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile calls the P1.6 million (or a total of more than P30 million of the people’s money) that he gave each of 18 senators a “gift,” but many taxpayers call it a “bribe.” The gift of four other senators, with whom JPE does not see eye to eye, was only P250,000 each. (There are rumors that there is a plot to unseat JPE as Senate President, and that the P30-million cash gifts were a “bribe” to the other senators so he could keep his seat.) Sen. Loren Legarda denies receiving JPE’s P1.6-million gift to her. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago returned the P250,000 given to her because, she said, JPE had returned the can of Iloilo biscuits she gave him as a Christmas gift. If JPE had not returned her biscuits, would she have accepted the P250,000?

Money really poured out of the Senate like manna from heaven this Christmas. JPE also gifted the hundreds of Senate employees, “including drivers and security personnel,” up to P120,000 each.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte “gifted” each of the 283 congressmen P.5 million, or a total of P141.5 million of the people’s money.

Our legislators, who are supposed to look after our welfare, call the bonanza “maintenance and other operating expenses,” or MOOE, but by any other name, it still stinks to high heavens.

Meanwhile, 3.3 million Filipino families who pay taxes went hungry in the last quarter of 2012, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. Imagine what the almost P172 million that our representatives gave themselves can do to ease the hunger pangs of those poor Filipinos. Imagine how many houses that amount can build for our homeless brethren. Imagine how many jobs would be created for our jobless kin if that money were used instead to establish factories or other businesses.

The MOOE is like the PDAF, or Priority Development Assistance Fund, which is the polite name for the pork barrel that has been stinking up the nation for decades now. Each senator gets P200 million and each congressman gets P70 million of the yearly PDAF. But in reality, the MOOE and the PDAF maintain and assist nobody else but the senators and congressmen.

We will let an insider, Senator Santiago, reveal the cash bonanzas that each senator receives: Besides the yearly pork barrel of P200 million, he/she gets “P2.2 million a month for staff salaries and office expenses, a P500,000 annual travel allowance, and an honorarium of P30,000 to P60,000 a month as chair of a Senate committee.” Every member of a committee also gets an allowance. Each senator has a monthly salary of P75,000.

JPE said the “gifts” that he gave the senators came from “savings.” But Senator Santiago said: “The so-called savings of each public office have turned into a national scandal, the grandmama of all scandals. The Constitution allows savings to be used by the office at the end of the year. But in reality, the head of office manipulates the books and creates the so-called savings by refusing to fill up vacancies or refusing to buy essential office supplies or services, or capital equipment. These so-called ‘enforced savings’ are then distributed among the highest officials, in the guise of Christmas bonuses.”

Is that the reason the Supreme Court does not appoint judges to the hundreds of vacancies or increase the salaries of judges in the lower courts, which has resulted in the clogging of the court dockets and the very, very slow administration of justice?

Senator Santiago added: “Each member of the Senate committees also gets an allowance. That’s why some of my colleagues become members of so many committees. This amount is given whether or not you attend the hearings conducted by the committee.”

Likewise, a senator gets the P500,000 yearly travel allowance whether or not it is used, Santiago said. “It is for official trips, such as those for international conferences. But even if [you] don’t leave, you still get that.”

One senator is rumored to collect salaries and allowances for nonexistent staff members and pocketing the money.

The grandmama of all scandals in Congress is the pork barrel or PDAF, P200 million for each senator every year, supposedly for pet projects. A senator allegedly gets at least 10- percent of that as kickback from contractors.

Santiago recalled that when she was a neophyte senator, she was approached by a contractor who guaranteed her “a ‘clean’ 10 percent kickback from [her] pork-funded infrastructure projects.” That 10-percent offer was very low. Some senators and congressmen have been rumored to demand as much as 30 to 50 percent of the contract price from contractors. That is why many public works projects are substandard. Contractors have to make do with what little is left to them after paying the kickbacks.

Santiago said that during a senator’s 6-year term, he/she can collect P120 million in kickbacks, “enough to bankroll a reelection bid.”

“One who wants big money should run for senator,” she added with sarcasm. So that is why so many fortune-hunters want to be a senator.

Anyway, gift or bribe, it shows how our leaders, our representatives, are so generous with our money. They give it away liberally because it is not their money.

The watchdog who is supposed to catch abuses such as these is the Commission on Audit, but many in-house auditors look the other way because they share in the bonanza. For instance, auditors also get cars to allow the distribution of expensive cars, bought with the people’s money, to public officials.

Where is the “daang matuwid”?

Sam Miguel
01-11-2013, 08:52 AM
Enrile plays god—with people’s money

By Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:15 pm | Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile played god last Christmas—with the people’s money. He distributed cash gifts, totaling P30 million, to senators and Senate employees, taken from public funds.

Signing checks on his Senate podium like a paternalistic landlord, Enrile was heard saying, “Gusto ko, happy kayo.” He gifted a total of 22 senators: 18, P1.6 million each, and four, only P250,000 each. The four were Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter Cayetano, and his sister Pia Cayetano. They are recalcitrant senators who had tangled with Enrile over certain legislative issues in the past few months.

The uneven distribution of the cash gifts did not escape the senators’ notice, and created instant resentment. Most of the senators, extremely sensitive about their political autonomy, quickly noted that Enrile was playing favorites—something they found hard to swallow. Weren’t they all elected by the people nationwide? Why should most of them have larger windfalls?

More offensive was the fact that Enrile used public funds to reward those he liked and chastise those he disliked. No senator questioned Enrile’s discretion or prerogative to disburse public funds, but many in the public were appalled by the huge sums disbursed as Christmas gifts while public-improvement projects (for example, infrastructure) had been starved of investment funds during the past two years. To many people, this lavish flow of public funds as Christmas gifts to the members of Congress, who are one of the highest paid officials of the land, was a scandal of enormous proportions.

In distributing these gifts, Enrile took upon himself the task of passing judgment on who among his peers were “nice” to him or worthy of the larger slice of the gifts funded by money that does not belong to him, and who were “naughty” or worthy only of scraps from the festive Christmas banquet table. The gifts were labelled as “additional MOOE,” referring to maintenance and other operating expenses in the Senate’s budget. (The Senate President is authorized to release the additional MOOE, earmarked for the December tranches). The P1.6 million windfall for each of the 18 senators was the biggest yet since Enrile was elected Senate President in November 2008.

Whether or not the MOOE funds were derived from savings on unspent funds, there is no hiding the fact that Enrile was dipping deep into the funds “realigned” from savings in the Senate’s budget. “The sky’s the limit” seemed to have been the operative principle behind this capricious distribution of “realigned” savings diverted to Christmas gifts.

According to press reports, the Senate’s MOOE for 2012 amounted to P1.4 billion and include travel and communication expenses, rent, supplies and utilities, professional services and representation expenses.

The MOOE disbursements appeared to be a special fund and separate from the regular pork barrel fund allocated to senators and members of the House of Representatives. These allocations are officially called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). A senator gets an allocation of P200 million each year, and congressmen, P70 million each. According to GMA research, pork barrel funds account for up to 1 percent of the national budget. In the P1.8-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2012, P24.89 billion goes to congressional allocations.

The members of Congress do not receive cash allocations. They recommend priority projects to the Department of Public Works and Highways. They exercise wide discretion in identifying the projects. Funds are released to local government units to implement priority projects identified by legislators.

The MOOE disbursements do not fit into the process of using PDAF allocations on projects. They appear to augment fund resources for electoral spending—resources believed to be crucial for winning regular elections. How the senators will spend their cash windfall from Enrile, we don’t know. We are given an idea by one senator, Loren Legarda, although she claimed not to have received Enrile’s Christmas cash gift. She said that if the money had been set aside for her, she would use it for a settlement program for people in typhoon-ravaged areas.

What benefit will Enrile derive from the generous cash gifts? He boasts he has no reasons to bribe his colleagues to keep him in his office, given that he has been elected by them as Senate President twice since 2008. The truth is that Enrile faces threats of being unseated as Senate President when Congress resumes its session on Jan. 21. There have been rumblings of unrest in the Senate since before the Christmas holidays over his autocratic style of leadership, that fueled rumors of a coup plot brewing underneath the apparent calm in the chamber. The antagonism that has erupted between him and the group of Senators Santiago, Trillanes, and the Cayetano siblings—over such issues as the reproductive health bill, which Enrile has opposed—is a symptom of this festering discontent. The role of Enrile as a crisis-breaker has spent itself after the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The administration does not need Enrile anymore to whip senators into line as much as during the Corona impeachment trial. It can dispense with his services. The Christmas windfall has no lasting effect in buying loyalty. But the fallout from the controversy over the abuse of discretion in disbursing public funds for Christmas gifts cannot be discounted.

01-12-2013, 12:08 PM
Fun, but not funny

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:23 pm | Friday, January 11th, 2013

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile played Santa Claus last Christmas and gave each of 22 senators P1.6 million as “gifts.” But as more recent reports have it, the distribution of generous holiday bonuses has been a common practice not only in the Senate but also in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers have been playing Santa Claus to themselves in the true “trapo” tradition of self-reward, -congratulation, -aggrandizement, and -interest.

Ever the master politician and legal pundit, Enrile is unflappable in defending himself against an unnamed Senate colleague who had spilled the beans and called the bonuses “unconscionable and unconstitutional.” The bonuses come under the euphemism “maintenance and other operating expenses” or MOOE. Enrile said he had been giving additional MOOE at yearend since he became Senate president in 2008, and indicated that it was an old practice. In 2008, for example, he released for each senator P1 million as a second tranche to the P500,000 earlier released by his predecessor, Manuel Villar. Other MOOEs: P1 million each in 2009; two tranches—P1.316 million and P318,000—in 2010; and three tranches—P500,000, P1.3 million and P318,000—in 2011. “All the senators, including those now complaining or calling it ‘unconscionable’ and ‘unconstitutional’ received these amounts,” he said. “Yet they never said anything or questioned it before.”

Of course, someone leaked the bonuses to the media because, first, these were supposed to buy Enrile favor among his colleagues so he could retain the Senate presidency, his hold on which has become increasingly tenuous, and, second, because the distribution of the gifts was unequal. Four senators with whom Enrile is at odds each received “only” P250,000. One of them, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago admitted receipt of the money (“inadvertently” by her staff, she was quick to point out), but said she had returned it.

Enrile said the money was a gift, not a bribe. As for his refusal to give P1.6 million to Santiago and three other senators—the siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV—he invoked the exercise of his discretion. He also said the senators who thought he was bribing them “must have a very low opinion of their own colleagues.” He issued the reminder that he was elected Senate President twice and added for good measure: “I did not buy this position. Not one single centavo of the people’s money is spent just to enable me to cling to this office.”

In short, everything’s legal. But is it moral? Or if that sounds melodramatic, is it really not the people’s money? The bonuses supposedly came from the budget of the Senate seat left vacant by President Aquino and from the savings of the chamber. Obviously, Enrile had the savings distributed as bonuses not only to the senators but to the Senate staff and employees as well so that the money would not revert to the general fund. For all intents and purposes, that’s the people’s money.

Those who were given smaller sums may complain of the giver’s vindictiveness, but as the distribution would show, the sums also benefited their committees, whose expenses would be at their discretion. They may nurse wounds they incurred as a result of Enrile’s pique, but they should also consider the wider picture—that the bonuses, because entirely discretionary, are also arbitrary and made at the people’s expense. Also arbitrary is the funding of the committees that they continue to chair despite some of them moving over to the minority. In some instances, the budgets have been increased. Where’s the science to all of this, let alone the transparent and democratic rationale?

It’s not much different in the House, where each representative received P500,000 before the Christmas break, which means P141.5 million of the people’s money went to these lawmakers who each have a pork barrel of at least P65 million to be spent also largely at their discretion.

All of this brings us back to the time of Jose de Venecia (and his “rainbow coalition”), and before him, Ramon Mitra, Speakers who dispensed great sums at their disposal as political largesse. Has nothing changed? Despite the oft-repeated pledge of new politics, old habits remain, pernicious as ever.

Oh, but Santiago has said that many politicians are dying to become senators because “it’s more fun in the Senate.” Not only is it more fun in that chamber, we should add, but there are more funds there—people’s money!—that senators can spend at their whim.

Fun, yes, but not funny.

01-12-2013, 12:13 PM
Cayetano slams Enrile’s ‘martial law tactics’ on cash gift to 18 senators

By Matikas Santos


7:14 pm | Friday, January 11th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Senate minority floor leader Alan Peter Cayetano Friday criticized Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s “martial law tactics” in giving P1.6 million cash to 18 senators, saying that this was meant to prevent a change in the Senate Presidency.

“What is affected here is the integrity and independence of the Senate. Because once this becomes a system, it will become the norm. This is Enrile Martial Law tactics,” Cayetano said in a statement Friday regarding the cash gifts given to senators in December the previous year.

Enrile was said to have used savings from the Senate’s budget and converted it into maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) which he gave to the senators except for four of his known critics in the Senate.

The four are Cayetano, his older sister Pia, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Antonio Trillanes IV. They had reportedly received P250,000 each.

“I think this was meant to prevent a leadership change,” Cayetano said, referring to the cash gifts for the 18 senators who were mostly in the majority bloc.

“I don’t know why [Enrile] would do that other than to send a message that if you cross him even on issues, this is what’s going to happen to you,” he said.

Rumors that Enrile would be removed from the Senate presidency spread several times last year. He had responded to the rumors several times by saying that he was willing to give his seat to whoever wants it.

“This is really a bad precedent. This Enrile precedent is the first time wherein regular funds for MOOE, the Senate President chose who he liked to give to, and those who he disliked were not given any,” Cayetano said. “For me it’s an issue of the independence of the Senate.”

“The four of us have been standing up to him when it comes to certain issues. But as we said, there’s nothing personal with that. They are just issues,” he said.

Cayetano said that he would be preparing for more of the same tactics once election time comes.

“After me talking this way, I’m already bracing that towards the election, maghanap pa sila kung ano pa ang gagawin para mang-ipit,” he said.

01-12-2013, 12:18 PM
^ I swear, what is it with these Cayetanos? They seem to make enemies wherever they go, so unlike their late great father. It is one thing to live up to one's duty as an elected official, but I sometimes get the feeling that the Cayetanos, especially Allan Peter, are nothing more than whiny, finicky upstarts, tying oh so hard to become "great leaders", but really doing nothing more than pissing off anyone, be it friend or foe. Allan Peter for one, what is he really? A minority leader who enjoys all the privileges and bank of one who is among the majority. So what is he, really? Sounds like a trapo to me, cake and eat it too and all that, the type of politiko that he supposedly abhors.

Sam Miguel
01-13-2013, 02:17 PM

By Randy David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:34 pm | Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Next time our political leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives find themselves awash in so-called “savings” at the end of the year, they might want to drop by any of our public hospitals. At the charity wards they will see for themselves how the poor desperately try to cope with the unexpected burden that an illness or an accident imposes on their already fragile existence. One hopes they will then be moved to share a tiny fraction of their fat bonuses with the ordinary people they are supposed to serve. Doing so may recover for our political system the perception of usefulness it has considerably lost.

I was on my way to the Philippine Orthopedic Center in Quezon City the other day when I heard the news on radio about Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s generous cash gifts to his fellow senators. Eighteen senators received P1.6 million each, while four others who were known critics of Enrile got the lesser amount of P250,000. At the House, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was reported to have given away cash gifts of P500,000 to every representative. Reacting to growing public criticism that this is public money that no one has a right to give away in the form of personal gifts, Enrile clarified that what he had distributed to the senators was not a Christmas bonus but additional MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) for their offices and committees. Every senator still has to account for every peso received, he added. This is nothing but word play.

It’s a long time since I have been to the “Orthopedic,” as most Filipinos refer to it. As a motorcycle rider, I dread to see this place, for obvious reasons. But, because of its excellent reputation as a tertiary hospital for accident victims, this will be my place of choice should I, heaven forbid, ever fall.

I came by to visit an old friend, an 84-year-old lady who has been good to me all these years because of a little act of kindness I did for her more than 30 years ago. Strong and physically active despite her age, she broke her thigh bone recently when she fell from a chair. The information desk told me she is in the female charity ward on the third floor of one of the buildings. This whole place is a maze of narrow corridors filled with people. The scarcity of space is staggering.

Outpatients and their companions occupy every conceivable inch of space as they wait for their turn to see their doctors.

Built by the Americans in 1945 to treat civilians who bore injuries from the war, the “Orthopedic” was transferred in the early ’60s from its original site in Mandaluyong to where it is today—a cluster of low buildings at the corner of Banawe and Maria Clara streets in Quezon City. It had 200 beds in 1963; today, it has 700. Considering that there were less Filipinos, much less private vehicles, and hardly any motorcycles 50 years ago, one wonders where poor victims of vehicular accidents go for treatment.

I found the old lady in a cramped room that had about 20 beds. All the beds, and the floor underneath them, were taken. Every patient in that room had an immobilized limb hoisted and resting on a sling. My friend was asleep when I arrived. Her left leg was swollen, and the pieces of the thigh bone that was crushed by the impact of her fall were being held together by a stainless shaft delicately attached to the sling.

“Lola has been waiting for you; she needs an operation,” her neighbors in the ward chorused. She had clearly been talking about me with her newfound friends. Just then she woke up, and, still in a daze, she clutched my arm and broke into a sob. “Please don’t cry,” I muttered, trying to soothe her. “Don’t worry about the operation, or about the cost. I will talk to your doctor.” As I found out later, she does need surgery. I advised her to have it as soon as possible, assuring her that I would help with the expenses.

Help. That magic word does wonders to people. It lifts them instantly from despair, allowing them, if only for a brief moment, to see their lives ahead of them again.

Help is what the young woman next to her has been waiting for in the last three months. Rushing to get home from work at a factory in Valenzuela City one early evening last October, she hitched a ride on the motorbike of a fellow worker. The bike lost control and she was thrown into the air like a ball. She was lucky not to have landed on her head because she wasn’t wearing a protective helmet, but her right leg was broken in several places. The deep wound on her leg healed fast but the broken bone needs to be secured by a metal plate implant. The plate costs P38,000, and her widowed mother, a house help, has been moving heaven and earth to raise the amount.

That’s when I thought of the bonuses that our legislators received over the holidays. “Where are you from?” I asked the mother. They were migrants from Ormoc; now she works as a maid for a family in Valenzuela. “Go and see your congressman or a senator, or try getting help from the PCSO,” I advised her. I gave her a little money for transportation and food, and this touched her so much she lifted my hand and pressed it on her teary face.

I am of two minds about advice like this. I know that dispensing charity is not the proper function of legislators. But, neither are the hundred and one things they claim the right to do—for which they get huge pork barrel allocations. I have always believed that our people should be freed from the clutches of the patronage system if they are to play a positive role in a democracy. But this will not happen unless enough public funds are allotted to build and expand essential institutions like the Philippine Orthopedic Center. Until then, the poor have no choice but to call upon their leaders and fellow citizens for help.

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 11:03 AM
Enrile just doesn’t get it


By Boo Chanco

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 14, 2013 - 12:00am

Maybe, for someone pushing 90, we really can’t expect him to still be able to change… or read the changing times. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile rejected criticisms about how he “gifted” fellow senators with money from the taxes we paid. As far as he is concerned, he was well within his legal rights and that’s that.

The amount Mr. Enrile “gifted” 22 senators is sizeable: P1.6 million each to 18 senators, and the four he wasn’t particularly fond of, he still gave P250,000 each. Enrile was supposed to have said he was “just making lambing” to the senators. No one can say Enrile cannot “make lambing” to anyone he likes so long as he is using his own money.

Of course a lot of people were scandalized. We are being bombarded with government statements urging us to pay the right amount of taxes because every centavo is needed to build the country of our dreams. DOF has painfully nursed our country back to a much acclaimed fiscal health. Now we see our elected senators being loose with our money.

Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Our legislators, senators and congressmen have creatively invented many ways of raiding the National Treasury. Getting a commission from pork barrel projects is a favorite. Now they are re-allocating “savings” for dubious year-end “maintenance and other operating expenses.” Savings ought to be returned to the Treasury.

The outrageous thing about that is how some of the senators we thought we could respect took the Enrile “gift”. I am particularly disappointed with Sen. Joker Arroyo.

Joker has presented himself as the most frugal senator, refusing to take anything even for staff expenses so that his driver supposedly doubles as his secretary. But Joker can apparently be tempted. Say it isn’t so, Joker!

Our legislators are missing the mood of the times. There is a call for greater sensitivity on the part of public officials to the need for a Jesse Robredo type of selfless public service. We are coming into an era where public office is truly a chance to serve the public even at personal expense and sacrifice… not to raid the public treasury.

Of course, our old politicians also know we are still in the tail end of an era. Public officials can use their positions to further personal or family interests. This explains why all the trapos and the sons and daughters of dynastic trapos are still leading the surveys for the senatorial election in May.

Maybe, Mr. Enrile in fact gets it and we don’t.

In the end, it is still up to us to deliver a very compelling message that the new era is here for good. Those of us who know better should do all we can to reverse the trend in the election surveys. We have to make sure we don’t elect anyone who sees nothing wrong with an “Enrile lambing” at taxpayer expense.

A good start is to reject do nothing re-electionist senators and those whose only claim to the position is dynastic roots. We must deliver the message that the Senate is not a family business.

We can’t have a Senate whose members include a father and a son (Enrile and son Jack), two brothers (Jinggoy and JV) and a brother and a sister (Pia and Peter) and two sons succeeding their fathers (Angara and Pimentel). We surely have more talent in this country of 100 million to resort to such a shameless concentration of trapo genes in the political gene pool.

Their fathers, indeed, their families have had their chance. The public ought to try new ones who just might have a better sense of public service.

I know that may limit our choices to just a few. But if we all vote for just four or five really worthy senatorial candidates, we get a better chance of introducing change in the system.

On top of my tentative list is Puerto Prinsesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn. I don’t know why he is running for the Senate but because he is, he deserves our vote. He has proven himself as the long time mayor of our premier frontier city. His experience in local government and environmental protection is valuable for the Senate.

Then there is Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr., the son of our country’s most beloved President. Jun has protected the legacy of his father well, served with distinction as a Senator before he termed out. He deserves our vote. He is the real Magsaysay in this contest.

The other one on my list is Dick Gordon. I know Dick is often so full of himself that he turns off people. But he has his heart in the right place and also manages to produce results. His “boy scout” mentality as exemplified by his Red Cross activities is something we need as well.

I am not too sure about Risa Hontiveros because she seems quite entrenched with the powers that be in recent times, but I am inclined to take a chance with her. She earned her reputation as an activist, even suffered some amount of persecution for her convictions. She has a reputation to protect so maybe, she can be a refreshing voice in the Senate.

I would also take a chance on Bam Aquino. With his credentials after college, he could have quietly but happily be making oodles of money in some bank or business. But he made a conscious commitment to work with the grassroots through various NGOs and his efforts are internationally recognized.

Yes, Bam is an Aquino and strictly speaking part of a political dynasty but unlike other scions of political heavyweights who are in the top 12, Bam chose to serve our people first before seeking public office. He is a worthy representative of our young generation in a chamber full of old and jaded politicians.

And that’s my complete list of worthy senatorial candidates. If the current dynastic frontrunners make it, it will prove that perhaps we are wrong and indeed, Mr. Enrile can do what he wants with our money and we can’t complain. We shouldn’t let that happen.

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 11:26 AM
Prone to violence

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:41 am | Monday, January 14th, 2013

Unintended scheduling irony, or the inevitable clash of religious and secular calendars? The Christmas season, according to the Catholic liturgical calendar, ended on Saturday night; the following day, the season that is perhaps least Christmas-like in spirit officially began. We are referring, of course, to the election period.

That’s the time, if sorry experience is anything to go by, when infants (in the manger or outside) are visited not as an act of homage but of publicity-seeking; when the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are set aside in favor of guns, goons and gold; and when the spirit of self-sacrifice becomes submerged in a fiesta of self-interest, self-dealing and self-promotion.

In other words, it’s another season where lists are made and checked twice, but in the end most of the rewards go to the naughty and most of the risks to the nice.

The preparations being undertaken to minimize election violence seem to underscore the period’s topsy-turviness.

Make no mistake; we think the authorities in charge are doing their job. The usual election-period gun ban took effect Sunday; the required police checkpoints are being set up throughout the country (at least one checkpoint per municipality); the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces, in their familiar role as deputies of the Commission on Elections, have prepared for many contingencies; the Comelec has been sending out the necessary notices and generating public goodwill. And yet we cannot help but feel a growing unease or impatience. Among Asian countries, we probably have the most experience in elections; why do our electoral exercises continue to be so violence-prone?

Late last year, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes publicly chided the PNP for releasing its list of election hot spots—problematic areas with a history of or tendency to violence—before consulting with the election agency. The Comelec, Brillantes said, had its own list, with fewer provinces included. He did not disclose the exact number, but said the Comelec list had fewer than the 15 high-risk provinces the PNP identified. But the official (consolidated?) list of hot spots released at a “command conference” the election agency conducted at its Intramuros office over the weekend identified 15 provinces—the exact same provinces already pinpointed by the PNP last November. Apparently, the Comelec has come around to the PNP’s thinking.

But what is worrying is that nothing much was made of this, whether at the command conference or afterwards. The headlines zeroed in either on the total number of hot spots, an astonishing 889 (all found in the 15 high-risk provinces), or the number of loose or unregistered firearms (the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has the most, by far, with 7,830).

Is the number of loose firearms in a region indicative of the number of election flash points in that region? Not exactly. The Ilocos region has only 680 loose firearms, according to the PNP, but it accounts for about one-eighth of all election hot spots: It has a total of 106 areas deemed prone or vulnerable to election violence.

The real issue, however, is why we continue to have election hot spots in the first place. We all know the contributing factors: intense political rivalries, a winner-take-all political system, private armies, loose firearms, government inefficiency or incapacity. What more can be done?

The PNP says it has counted 53 “private armed groups,” with under 1,000 members in all. But why do these groups continue to flourish at all? The gun ban and the mandatory police checkpoints are necessary to curb the violence, but is the stringent, time-consuming work that goes into them being used as a substitute for the dangerous work that the dismantling of private armies requires?

The intense political rivalries are often the cause of (or excuse for) election violence: Couldn’t the church, the local businesses and civil society organizations in the area force the competing political families to a covenant, a concordat, where public commitment to renounce election violence serves as an additional form of pressure?

Otherwise, if we all just depend on the gun ban and the checkpoints to stop the inevitable slide to election-related violence, we may not only share in the sense of complacency, we may actually be complicit.

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 11:28 AM
Word war rages: Enrile, Santiago trade raps

By Cathy Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:23 am | Monday, January 14th, 2013

In a wide-ranging interview with radio station dzBB Sunday, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago accused Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of plunder and challenged him to explain his role as martial law administrator in the disappearances of opponents of the Ferdinand Marcos regime.

Santiago also took Enrile to task for allegedly funding coup attempts against President Corazon Aquino after the ouster of Marcos in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

The feisty former judge was continuing a word war that followed revelations of alleged improprieties in Enrile’s distribution of savings from the Senate’s operating expenses as Christmas gift of P1.6 million to each of 18 “nice” senators and P250,000 to their four “naughty” colleagues.

The Commission on Audit has said that Enrile’s action was aboveboard and provided for under the General Appropriations Act.

Santiago, who got the lower amount and returned it to Enrile, said the Senate President “profited” as defense minister during the martial law years, using the term “namunini.” She said this word meant that Enrile “profited, he enjoyed himself, he was master of the universe during martial law.”

She said Enrile must now answer for his role in that dark side of Philippine history. She added that Enrile “should now answer for the crime of plunder. Why is he that wealthy? He should answer for the crime of causing what the Spanish call ‘desaparecidos’ … He should be held accountable for that.”

The radio station later interviewed Enrile for his reaction to Santiago’s statements. Enrile said he was investigated by the Corazon Aquino administration, but no plunder charges were ever brought against him.

“I will probably not reply to what she had said. We will just let the public decide who is right,” Enrile told dzBB.

Pressed about the plunder charge, he said that whatever wealth he had was a result of his private law practice before he joined the government, which he added could not be true of Santiago, whose income was derived from the government service.


Enrile said Santiago herself has some explaining to do. He pointed out that Santiago had worked for the late Ambassador Kokoy Romualdez, brother of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. The Marcoses have been accused of having amassed ill-gotten wealth while in power.

The Senate President also dismissed Santiago’s claims that he harbored a grudge against her for not supporting him even though he stood as a godfather during her wedding. He said this had nothing to do with the issues she had raised.

In the radio interview, Santiago accused Enrile of harboring a personal agenda when he played a role in Marcos’ ouster in February 1986. “He wanted to get rid of Marcos because he was hoping that he would replace him. But the public wanted Cory Aquino.”

Santiago said Enrile financed coup attempts against Corazon Aquino and that this was why she fired him as her defense secretary. He said Enrile was turning 89 years old in February and was still in power, profiting from his position as Senate President.

Santiago also referred to the controversy surrounding the supposed ambush of Enrile on the night Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Upon the ouster of Marcos, Enrile in a news conference revealed that the ambush was staged to justify the imposition of the emergency, but in his book released last year, he said that the incident indeed happened and was not faked.

Question of credibility

Santiago reminded Enrile that the Supreme Court considered a retraction “more credible than the original testimony” because it accommodated the possibility that the witness could have been tortured or confused when he gave his first story.

However, she also noted that the tribunal regarded “a person who makes a retraction of the reaction [as] absolutely incredible … What kind of person is he?”

Enrile said investigations showed that he had not stolen from the government.

He referred to accusations that he benefited from the coconut levy imposed during the martial law years. He said that the levy resulted in the collection of P9.6 billion of which the government spent P7.1 billion and another P2.5 billion was invested by him and businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco.

He said this investment expanded and reached P130 billion and was now the object of so much controversy, referring to returns from shares of stock of San Miguel Corp.

“I’m not saying this so I will look handsome in the eyes of the people, but that is the truth. I don’t want to reply to this. But this issue keeps coming back … I don’t want this to get out of hand.”

Enrile said Santiago “as a brilliant lawyer seeking a new career in the International Criminal Court” should instead charge him before the global juridical body or the Office of the Ombudsman if she believed he was guilty.

Santiago said in an earlier interview she would not spearhead any move to have Enrile investigated so as not to “sink to the level of the vulgar.”

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 11:28 AM
Pimentel to Comelec: Show us the source code

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:54 am | Monday, January 14th, 2013

DAGUPAN CITY—Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) it could be cited in contempt for continuing to stop interested groups from examining the source code for the May automated polls.

Pimentel, speaking before the Dagupan Bangus Jaycees here, said a programmer went to the Comelec to examine the source code on Jan. 8 but was given different reasons for why the examination could not push through.

A source code is a set of computer instructions written in readable computer language.

Pimentel said the right to examine the source code is embodied in Republic Act No. 8436. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 11:47 AM
That’s our money they are giving away

By Neal H. Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:38 am | Monday, January 14th, 2013

I got a rejoinder to last Friday’s column that criticized the distribution by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of P1.6 million each to 18 friendly senators, and only P250,000 each to four unfriendly ones. JPE had first termed it a “Christmas gift” to the senators but he later backtracked and said it was an MOOE, initials for maintenance and other operating expenses. Many taxpayers called it a “bribe” because JPE was rumored to be under threat of a Senate “coup” that would replace him as Senate President, an accusation that JPE denied.

The rejoinder (from which I will quote extensively in the interest of fair play) said “no less” than Commission on Audit Chair Grace Pulido Tan had declared the bonanza as “perfectly legal.” In accordance with the Constitution, Tan had said, the General Appropriations Act (GAA) “authorizes not only the Senate President but also the Speaker of the House of Representatives to ‘augment any item in the GAA for their respective offices from any savings in other items of their respective appropriations.’”

It may be legal but is it moral? The senators and congressmen do not need the extra money distributed to them last Christmas. They are already well-off, well-fed, well-paid, well-provided and well-connected. Consider the bad taste of distributing so much money to those who don’t need them when millions of our countrymen are hungry. Millions more not only have no food but also have no homes, no jobs, no future and no hope. The money could have been used to help them.

The rejoinder hit Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for her exposé on Senate malpractices and critics of the Christmas “gift”—oh all right, MOOE—at the same time quoting friendly senators who said there’s nothing wrong with the releases.

“Is Santiago opening her books to COA investigators too?” the statement asked. Santiago had challenged the COA to audit the disbursement of the MOOE.

“Enrile welcomes any audit by COA, saying that the Senate has always been the object of COA’s review and that his discretionary release of additional MOOE had been standard practice since 1935,” the statement continued.

“The claim that the additional MOOE is a bribe by Enrile so he can keep his post is pure baloney since 12 new senators would be coming in in July as the present Congress closes shop next month and we hold our midterm elections in May,” the statement further said. “Why would Enrile even have the need to court half of the senators who may not even be coming back in July?”

I have my own question: Why release additional maintenance and operating funds when the year is about to end, when Congress is about to adjourn next month?

The statement rants on: “In November, when Enrile gave all of them P600,000 each as additional MOOE, nobody complained. But when Enrile balanced the December MOOE releases by excluding himself, Miriam, Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano, he was accused of favoritism.

“And not contented with the savings of the Office of the Senate President, some senators even had the gall to ask Enrile whether he could give them savings from his own office as senator,” the statement continued but did not say who those senators were.

“Of course, Enrile had no problem giving all of the senators P250,000 each from his savings as an individual senator because just like all MOOEs, the so-called ‘cash gifts’ are not gifts at all but additional funds to help them fulfill their public service mandate.”

My opinion on that is this: The mandate of senators and congressmen is to enact laws, not to duplicate the functions of the executive department by initiating and funding—with the people’s money—public works projects. The lawmakers’ mandate is merely to enact laws. Read the Constitution.

But why do our legislators want to meddle in the work of the executive branch? Because there is plenty of money to be had from public projects if you only know how. And our members of Congress know how—very well.

The “grandmamma of all scandals,” in the words of Senator Santiago, is the pork barrel, deodorized as the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or PDAF, the favorite acronym of members of Congress. The PDAF gives each senator P200 million and each congressman P70 million a year of the people’s money for public works projects.

Legislators say the money does not pass through their hands. But it goes to their favorite contractors who kick back some 30 to 50 percent of the contract price to their favorite legislators. That is the reason many public works projects are overpriced and substandard.

After the kickbacks are paid, the contractor has to make do with what is left to finish the project.

The people have been complaining against the pork barrel for decades now, but it is there until now.

“If it was okay then, why is it not okay now?” legislators say. That is the same question asked by the rejoinder from the JPE camp: Why were the earlier MOOE releases accepted but now are called “unconscionable” by some senators?

As I see it, even if it had been done before, it does not make it moral now. It was immoral then and it is immoral now. The taxpayers want to stop it but they are helpless against the cabal of public officials. If they had been unable to stop it then, they still want to stop it now because that is our money being given away.

Besides the pork barrel, there are also the “congressional insertions” in the annual budget. Here, for some appropriations, a provision is inserted to ensure that the implementation and spending for the project are to be controlled by certain senators or congressmen. The latter then funnel the projects to their favorite contractors who then kick back the shares of our “honorable” legislators.

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 11:48 AM
The trouble with ‘revolving doors’

By Ramon Farolan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:36 am | Monday, January 14th, 2013

On Thursday, Jan. 17, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa will relinquish command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to a yet-unnamed successor. Dellosa served in this position for one year and one month, the longest-serving AFP chief of the three appointees of President Aquino to serve as such. The first chosen by P-Noy was Gen. Ricardo David Jr., who served for eight months. He is now the Immigration commissioner. The second was Gen. Eduardo Oban, who stayed for 10 months and is currently the undersecretary for operations of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

Perhaps, this is as good a time to take a quick glance at the past.

President Manuel Roxas, the first president of the Third Republic, had Maj. Gen. Rafael Jalandoni as his AFP chief of staff. President Elpidio Quirino’s appointees were Maj. Gens. Mariano Castańeda Sr. and Calixto Duque.

From President Ramon Magsaysay to President Joseph Estrada, a number of AFP chiefs served for at least three years. These included Lt. Gen. Jesus Vargas (the first chief to be given three stars), Lt. Gen. Manuel Cabal, Gen. Alfredo Santos (the first four-star chief of staff and also the first from the ROTC ranks), Gen. Manuel Yan (the youngest chief of staff, appointed at age 48 ), Gen. Fabian Ver, Gen. Renato de Villa, and Gen. Lisandro Abadia. Gen. Romeo Espino retained his position for nine years and nine months, making him the longest-serving AFP chief.

Others served for less than three years. They were Lt. Gen. Alfonso Arellano, Lt. Gen. Pelagio Cruz (the first air force officer to become AFP chief), Gens. Rigoberto Atienza, Ernesto Mata, Victor Osias, Segundo Velasco, Fidel V. Ramos (the first and only chief of staff elected to the presidency), Rodolfo Biazon, Arturo Enrile, Arnulfo Acedera, Clemente Mariano, Joselin Nazareno, and Angelo Reyes.

Under President Gloria Arroyo, the AFP “revolving door” was in full swing. During her 10-year tenure she appointed 11 AFP chiefs.

AFP Chief of Staff Length of service as AFP Chief

Diomedio Villanueva One year, three months

Roy Cimatu Four months

Benjamin Defensor Three months

Dionisio Santiago Four months

Narciso Abaya One year, seven months

Efren Abu 10 months

Generoso Senga 11 months

Hermogenes Esperon One year, 10 months

Alexander Yano One year

Victor Ibrado 10 months

Delfin Bangit Three months

In just one year, 2002, the AFP had three change-of-command ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo. The appointees had just begun to warm their seats when the time came for them to say goodbye to the troops. With such a fluid situation at the top, it was the perfect environment for underlings to engage in mischievous activities. Since the commander knew that he was not going to be around for any length of time, not much thought was devoted to any performance audit or review. The leadership was also focused on protecting the seat of power and its occupant rather than on preserving the integrity of the organization.

One of the most disturbing events during the Arroyo years was the confiscation by US Customs authorities of undeclared foreign exchange being brought into the United States by family members of an AFP comptroller. The discovery would have far-reaching consequences for the Armed Forces. It would lead to the tragic self-inflicted death of Gen. Angelo Reyes.

Has the revolving door policy been a contributing factor that led to one of the worst abuses in the history of our Armed Forces?

The National Defense Act, approved on Dec. 21, 1935 (designated as AFP Day), provides that the chief of staff is responsible for “recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, mobilizing, training, and demobilizing the Army in peace and in war, and for the use of military forces for national defense.” How can any individual serving for one year, or even less, carry out such awesome responsibilities? For his official duties and concerns, my barangay chief has a tenure of three years that is set by law. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff serves for a term of two years and can be extended twice for a total of six years on the job. The service commanders, Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines, serve for four years.

Our Armed Forces deserve a better deal.

* * *

There are a number of candidates being considered for the next AFP chief of staff. In my opinion, only two are serious contenders. Both have outstanding military service records and there is no question as to their qualifications and ability to lead the Armed Forces. My only concern is that both are retiring next year, 2014. This means that whoever gets appointed will again have only a year plus several months before reaching the compulsory retirement age of 56.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista graduated No. 7 in the PMA Class of 1981. He is a classmate of newly appointed PNP Chief Alan Purisima. The topnotcher of their class was Cadet Thawip Netniyom from Thailand, while Police Chief Supt. Catalino Cuy served as the “Baron” or “First Captain” of the Cadet Corps. A consistent achiever, General Bautista topped his batch at the Scout Ranger Course, the Infantry Officer Advance Course, and the Command and General Staff Course. He got his third star (Lieutenant General) in December 2011 and retires in July 2014.

The Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz belongs to PMA Class 1980. He is a product of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Command and Staff College and has served with distinction in various positions of responsibility in the air organization. He received his third star in March 2012 and will retire in April 2014.

* * *

Is the AFP fated for short-term leadership for the rest of its existence? Unless something drastic takes place, it appears that the revolving door policy that was mastered by former President Arroyo is slowly taking hold in the selection process of the highest official in the military organization.

Sam Miguel
01-14-2013, 12:02 PM
^^^ The AFP Chief of Staff should have at least two full years before compulsory retirement, and should serve for a fixed term of four full years. No officer can be considered for CS AFP if he has only one year and 364 days left to retirement. Also, I think there ought to be a revolving door in terms of Branch Of Service, i.e. an incoming CS AFP cannot come from the same Branch of Service as the man he is replacing, or at least such replacement should come every other year, so two Army guys can come on each other's heels as CS AFP, but the next guy should come from either the PAF or the Navy.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:18 AM
Corruption, too

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:54 pm | Monday, January 14th, 2013

Those who’ve written about it are perfectly justified in their outrage. That is Juan Ponce Enrile distributing P1.6 million in bonus to his favorite senators, who are most of them, and “only” P250,000 to his not-very-favorite ones, who are Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano.

The problem is not the disparity in the amount of the Christmas gifts given to the two groups, which is what Santiago has been harping on over the last few days. She has gone to town questioning the criteria Enrile used in making the division of spoils, which question she herself has answered by suggesting that it was a bribe to the tractable to keep him as Senate President. The four are past bribing—at least on that issue. Hence they are being made to pay for it.

Their colleagues of course are pissed off for being depicted as tractable. Ping Lacson shot back: “He or she who is questioning (Enrile’s action) should be consistent and should not have accepted the P600,000 given last November. One cannot preach righteousness after committing the very same unconscionable act yesterday.” Gregorio Honasan for his part says those who are complaining to the media anonymously “should join the Witness Protection Program.”

They miss the point, and reveal only their utter blindness and deafness to what’s happening outside their air-conditioned rooms. Who the hell cares about their intramurals except themselves? What matters is that they are the anak-ng-Diyos, or anak-ng-whatever, beneficiaries of those things, and the fact that Santiago can complain about the grievous injustice of being given “only” P250,000 can only deepen our impression of their insulation from the people they are supposed to serve.

The atrocity in the P1.6 million given to the 18 senators—and the P250,000 given to the four, and the P600,000 given to all of them last November—Leonor Briones shows in a comparison. In the National Housing Authority, employees are being asked to refund the bonuses they got in previous years. The maximum allowable for government offices is P10,000. Only the President, Senate President, House Speaker, Chief Justice and heads of constitutional commissions can give more at their discretion. In the NHA’s case, retiring employees face the prospect of having their “excess bonus” from past years deducted from their retirement pay. Some by as much as P200,000, which is less than what Miriam and company got in one fell swoop, but which is an absolute fortune—which stands to be lost—for them.

But there’s one very big rub. That is that while this is clearly immoral, while this is obviously unjust, while this is patently obscene, it is also perfectly legal. It is perfectly legal because the law says that the officials named above may distribute amounts to their people at the end of the day, or year, as they please from their savings. The problem is not in the application of the law, the problem is the law itself.

You have to wonder in the first place about the concept of “savings.” You have to wonder how in God’s name any government office in this country, elective or appointive, can possibly save anything given the enormous, dire, life-and-death needs of their constituents. You have to wonder how, in the face of Congress moving heaven and hell to ratify the sin taxes because government badly needs the money to rescue the country from the wages of sin, or the clutches of deprivation, the Senate and House can possibly end up with savings to give to their members.

“Savings” in fact is institutionalized corruption. It is not a virtue, it is a vice. It has nothing to do with frugality and scrupulousness, it has to do with profligacy and unscrupulousness, the sums deliberately withheld from projects that benefit the people then allocated to programs that benefit those behind the savings. Before the savings can revert to the national treasury, with a pat on the back for being abstemious, the office gives it to itself through various ruses.

You define corruption as the appropriation of taxpayers’ money for personal gain, then this is corruption pure and simple. One sanctioned not just by long-held practice and tradition but by law.

All of which only shows how deeply rooted and tangled corruption is, and how beyond presidential resolve you need other things to push it back. Chief of them public opinion, public pressure, public opprobrium.

Someone like Enrile decides to play Santa Claus with your money, you can’t fight it legally, short of fighting to amend, or scrap, the law itself. But you can fight it morally, by public opinion, by heaping scorn on those who practice it—not quite incidentally by making sure that their children do not get voted into public office and that the values of their fathers are visited upon them.

You can fight it by telling the senators, whether they got P1.6 million or P250,000, whether the division of spoils is “hating kapatid” or hating gabi: You should be ashamed of yourselves you have the gall to accept things like this while the street children sleep in the streets, while the traffic cop grows tubercular from inhaling the traffic smoke. You have a heart, you have a conscience, why don’t you donate all that money to the cause of the NHA employees so their retirement pay, which is nowhere near what you get in a month, will remain intact?

I’m glad the commentators have been riled by this, but the question is, when will the public follow suit? When will we all get furious at this? When will we all go beyond making text jokes out of this? When will we start mounting a campaign against the kapal in the way we have done against the epal? This is appalling too, this is disgusting too:

This is corruption, too.

Sam Miguel
01-15-2013, 10:22 AM
^^^ Blow it out your ear, De Quiros.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 09:53 AM
A trapo coming to the aid of a trapo, way to go Edong...

Senators’ gifts a time-honored tradition–Angara

By Cathy Yamsuan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:11 am | Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

It was the “uneven” distribution of the cash that is at the heart of the brouhaha over Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s grant of “Christmas gifts”—later explained as additional funds for office expenses—from the Senate’s savings, according to Sen. Edgardo Angara.

Angara, who is himself a former Senate president, said he may have done the same in his time, that is, realigned the Senate’s savings and distributed the funds to colleagues as additional “maintenance and other operating expenditures” (MOOE).

“I must have but I don’t recall. I think that kind of realignment is part of Senate procedure. It is authorized under the (General Appropriations Act) and is honored by tradition,” Angara said.

He said the only controversy was the lopsided distribution, with 18 out of the 23 senators getting P1.6 million each and 4 getting only P250,000. (Enrile earlier said he waived his share of the loot.)

“(The budget for) maintenance should be equal (for all senators). You cannot say your neighbor spends less for maintenance,” said Angara.

It was Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who first confirmed that she and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV did not receive the P1.6 million in additional MOOE.

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer, Santiago noted that those who were not given the additional MOOE were at odds with Enrile at one time or another.

The four, however, received a P250,000 “cash gift” that Enrile said came from his office’s savings.

Santiago has returned the gift, saying she did so since Enrile also returned the cookies she gave him for Christmas.

But Angara said he would not take it against Enrile for being selective in his distribution of the funds.

“I’m not saying it’s the fault of the Senate President, it’s his judgment call. But the only reason that questions are being raised is because not all received the same amount,” he explained.

Angara said he was not even aware that his office received an additional MOOE as this is a yearend practice that is “a routine and regular occurrence that senators take it for granted.”

“It’s not something unexpected or surprising,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson questioned Santiago’s making an issue of the MOOE. He said Santiago may not have received the P1.6 million MOOE given last December but she definitely got the allocation given in November but did not raise a howl about it.

Angara, however, noted that the MOOE for a specific year had to be used during that period as Santiago has asserted.

Santiago questioned the distribution of additional MOOE in December when all official business transactions of the Senate should have been completed by then.

Angara said MOOE is used for day-to-day expenses like office supplies, rentals, electricity and “coffee for guests.”

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 09:56 AM
UNA may have violated the law for premature campaigning, says Angara

By Maila Ager


3:12 pm | Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—A senator on Tuesday wondered if the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has violated the law when it released its first political advertisement on television less than a month before the start of the official campaign period.

“Hindi ba ang official campaign period is February 12? Hind ba yun unlawful campaigning? Premature campaigning?” said Senator Edgardo Angara when asked bout his reaction to the UNA’s political ad featuring its senatorial bets in May 2013.

Angara’s son, Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, is running under the Liberal Party, which is the Aquino administration’s coalition.

But the senator was quick to clarify that he had nothing against UNA, saying many of them are his friends.

In fact, he himself said that the ad may not be considered premature campaigning if the candidates are not asking the public to vote for them.

“Hindi pa, hindi pa palagay ko,” he said when asked about his opinion on the ad. “Introduction lang naman. Hindi naman sinasabing iboto nyo ako. Parang introduction pa lang.”

The senator also even praised UNA and its leaders for being organized.

“Magaling sila, organized, very organized. Mga veterans ang mag leader. Tatlong hari,” he said, referring to former President Joseph Estrada, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile.

But Angara was unfazed for his son, confident that the administration has its own plan or strategy.

“Anyway hindi pa naman campaign period, bakit tayo magpa-panic?” he said.

Angara said he would help in the campaign of his son as soon as he finishes his work in the Senate.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 09:59 AM
Reshuffle of BoC officials raises eyebrows over non-inclusion of ‘Three Kings’

By Jerry E. Esplanada

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:36 pm | Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs’ first major reshuffle of its top officials during the Aquino administration has raised eyebrows at the Department of Finance-attached agency due to the non-inclusion in the revamp of what BOC insiders refer to as the bureau’s “Three Kings.”

BOC personnel were referring to Collectors Ricardo Belmonte, Rogel Gatchalian and Carlos So, heads of the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the ports of Manila and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), respectively.

Belmonte is a younger brother of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, while Gatchalian and So are said to be backed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the influential Iglesia ni Cristo.

BOC personnel also noted that all three ports were among the 10 collection districts that had failed to meet their revenue targets for 2012.

Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, however, defended the BOC heads’ “reconfiguration,” saying that was his “discretion” being the bureau boss.
The revamp would be a “continuing thing,” claimed the former Muntinlupa City legislator and Liberal Party stalwart.

“This is just the initial phase of several other measures we shall undertake to meet our collection target for the year 2013,” which totals P340 billion, P7 billion less than the BOC’s goal in 2012.

Biazon emphasized the revamp was “geared mostly towards improving collections.”

“We are doing a reconfiguration of our organizational structure, especially among our frontline officials, to reposition our district collectors where they can be most productive,” he explained.

The BOC head warned he would “not hesitate to reassign or reshuffle Customs officials who may not be performing up to expectations.”

“We shall be closely monitoring the performance of frontline offcials…I will now do a quarterly performance assessment of district collectors and other unit heads under the Office of the Commissioner and set a particular quota for them, in addition to their revenue collection targets,” he told reporters.

Biazon also noted that “within the year, there will be some people who will be retiring. So as a matter of regular course, there will be some vacant positions. So definitely, we’ll be assigning or transferring people to other positions.”

In the BOC Personnel Order No. B-14-2013, which Biazon issued on Jan. 10, among those reassigned were the following Customs officials:

■ Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, head of the X-ray Inspection Project, has been named officer-in-charge of the Cagayan de Oro City port.
■ Adelina Molina, chief of staff of the Office of the Commissioner, is now OIC of the Subic Freeport in Zambales.
■ Roberto Sarmiento, deputy collector for operations to OIC of the Zamboanga City port.
■ Ronnie Silvestre, Cebu district collector to OIC of the port of Clark International Airport.
■ Edward dela Cuesta, Clark district collector to Cebu port collector.
■ Carmelita Talusan, Subic Freeport collector to X-ray Inspection Project head.
■ Filemon Mendoza Jr., chief of the Risk Management Office to Ruling and Research Division head.
■ Romalino Valdez, chief of staff of the Assessment, Operations and Coordination Group to deputy collector for administration.
■ Anju Nereo Castigador, Cagayan de Oro City district collector to the Office of the Commissioner.

Meanwhile, Biazon expressed confidence the bureau would meet collection goal this year, which he described as a “more reachable target.”

“We shall be adjusting our collection strategy every now and then to make the BOC responsive to present trends and needs,” Biazon added.

From January to December 2012, BOC revenues totaled only P287 billion, or a shortfall of nearly P60 billion.

The MICP, which had the highest revenue target of P94.3 billion, collected only P72.5 billion.

On the other hand, the port of Manila registered only P56.5 billion, about P18 billion short of its P75-billion goal.

Batangas port, where most of the oil depots are located, had a shortfall of a little more than P10 billion while the NAIA had a deficit of P4.66 billion.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 10:49 AM
Ang kapal talaga ng mukha. Hindi porke nagje-jet ski ka dun ay tag-roon ka na. Baka ni hindi mo alam ang salita sa Camarines, at kung ano pinagkaiba nito sa ibang salita ng Kabicolan. This is one time I hope the trapo wins, because that is slightly better than a pretender who would be a usurper.

CA stops ruling excluding Aga Muhlach, wife from voters’ list

By Tetch Torres


6:10 pm | Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals stopped the Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court from implementing its December 2012 ruling that directed the Election Registration Board (ERB) to remove actor Aga Muhlach and wife Charlene Gonzales from the area’s list of voters.

After the oral argument, the appeals court 12th division announced that the temporary restraining order shall be in 60 days and required the couple to pay P200,000 bond.

Associate Justice Vicente Veloso said that the restraining order was issued to prevent any “irreparable damage” on the part of the petitioners (Muhlachs) and preserve their rights while their main petition is being resolved.

The appeals court restraining order effectively allows Muhlach to pursue his congressional bid in the area.

Records show that the Muhlachs filed their application for registration as voters of San Jose, Camarines Sur on March 19, 2012. Then, on Sept. 28, 2012, the ERB approved their application for voter’s registration. On Oct. 5, 2012, a petition for their exclusion was filed by some registered voters of San Jose saying they failed to comply with the residency requirement for a voter.

On Oct. 25, 2012 the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of San Jose reversed the decision of the ERB. The Muhlachs appealed the MCTC decision to the RTC which the latter denied on Dec. 17, 2012 and directed the ERB to exclude the Muhlachs to its list of voters.

Petitioners told the appeals court that the petition for their exclusion was premature and precipitately filed because the 6-month period of residency before the May 13, 2013 election will begin on November 14, 2012.

The petition cited the case of Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, Jr., where the Court of Appeals, on June 2, 2010, granted Jalosjos’ appeal reversing the decision of the Pagadian City RTC excluding him from the List of Voters on the

ground that the reckoning 6-month period before the election was yet

to come when the petition for exclusion was precipitately and prematurely filed.

The petition pointed that both the MCTC and RTC admitted that the Muhlachs established their residency in San Jose as early as Feb. 17, 2012 but both courts disqualified them for failure to comply with the 6 month requirement when they filed their registration on March 19, 2012.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 09:34 AM
UNA denies premature campaigning rap

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:52 am | Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Wednesday said its candidates did not violate any election law in releasing television commercials and making the rounds of provinces to inform the people of their public engagements.

“No one could tell us or accuse us that we are violating any election law,” said UNA secretary general Tobias Tiangco. He said by phone that even Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. had said that “there is no such thing as premature campaigning.”

“We’re just informing the public. That’s why we go around so that we make people aware, touch base with old friends,” he said.

‘Not sorties, just visits’

UNA, a coalition between political parties of deposed President Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay, is already running TV advertisements featuring its senatorial candidates ahead of Feb. 12, the official start of the campaign period.

Candidates have also been traveling to provinces to meet with local officials, including trips to Batangas last week and to provinces in Cagayan Valley this week. Tiangco had said these trips were “not yet sorties, just visits.”

Sen. Edgardo Angara on Tuesday questioned UNA’s early campaigning when asked by reporters, but quickly took it back and said the television ad did not explicitly ask for people’s votes and just introduced the UNA candidates.

Angara’s son, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, is running for senator under the ruling Liberal Party. The younger Angara also has a TV ad already running well before the official campaign period.

“If we could be liable for premature campaigning, Sonny Angara could be more liable because his TV ads were out earlier,” Tiangco said. Tarra Quismundo

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 09:35 AM
^^^ Talaga lang Toby ha. God, I thought you were already a whiny fool when we used to play in the college covered courts. It seems you still are to this day.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 09:35 AM
Campaign time

Cebu Daily News

7:43 am | Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Amid the Sinulog hoopla punctuated yesterday by President Benigno Aquino III’s greeting of “Pit Seńor!” comes a bit of welcome news for those weary of watching, listening to and reading political advertisements.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruled that each national candidate will only get 120 minutes of airtime for TV and another 120 minutes of airtime on radio or about four hours of broadcast time for every one of them.

Lest they get any ideas, the Comelec extended its restriction on campaigning in cyberspace though guidelines haven’t been fleshed out yet.

This new Comelec rule may help ensure that the airwaves will for, the most part, be free of personality-driven, non-issue campaign advertisements that parlay the candidates’ claimed virtues in order to quietly sweep under the rug all the dirt leveled at them untrue or not.

From plagiarized jingles to endorsements from showbiz stars, national candidates have mobilized resources at their disposal to create commercials that appeal to voters, much the same way advertisements push products and services.

To reinforce their personal branding, candidates created their own Facebook and Twitter accounts to extend their campaign to the online generation.

We’d also like to know how these restrictions would apply to local candidates, not a few of whom own or control radio or television stations and newspapers with considerable reach.

Candidates have ways to skirt around these guidelines.

National and local candidates often raise their profiles by commenting on burning issues of the day so their faces would appear on the 6:30 p.m. news telecast or in the papers the following days.

Then there’s President Aquino firing a broadside against the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for their out-of-town trips and infomercials as evidenced by their Capitol visit to suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Whatever the effects of the new Comelec guideline, we can take some comfort in the fact that our TV sets won’t be polluted by political commercials that cut into our favorite TV programs.

What we need to see more of are advisories by election watchdogs on how to choose good leaders and how people can guard against vote-buying, intimidation and other dirty tactics employed by politicians.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 10:10 AM
Go girl

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:45 am | Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Comes now Miriam Defensor-Santiago to set the record straight. Or to remind her countrymen of what they already know. Or to put back in shape the history that someone has tried violently to twist.

In her own words: “Namunini ’yan (Juan Ponce Enrile) noong martial law. Right-hand man iyan ni Marcos, martial law administrator iyan ni Marcos. (He immensely benefited during martial law. He was Marcos’ right-hand man, he was Marcos’ martial law administrator.) He should now answer for the crime of plunder. Bakit siya ganyan kayaman? (Why is he so rich?) He should answer for the crime of causing the disappearance of people. Defense minister siya, e di dapat managot siya doon.” (He was the defense minister, so he should answer for it.)

On Enrile’s part in Edsa: “Gusto niyang tanggalin si Marcos dahil buong pag-asa niya na siya na ang papalit. E, gusto pala ng publiko si Cory Aquino. Purmero, nakikipag-kaibigan. Mamaya nagbibigay ng pera pala para sa mga coup d’ etat laban kay Cory kaya pinatanggal siya sa gobyerno.” (He wanted to remove Marcos because he thought he would replace him. As it turned out, the people wanted Cory. At first he feigned friendship with her. Later, it turned out he was financing the coups d’etat against her. That was why he was booted out of office.)

On Enrile’s ambush in Wack Wack: “Tumigil-tigil na nga ’yang matandang ’yan! Noong panahon ni Marcos, inambush s’ya. Nung panahon ni Cory sabi nya peke ’yung ambush n’ya. Ngayong panahon na ito, sa kanyang autobiography kuno, sinabi naman niya na tunay daw ’yung ambush. Anong klaseng tao ’yan?” (That old man should stop it. During martial law, he said he was ambushed. During Cory’s time he said the ambush was fake. Then today in his autobiography he says again his ambush was real. What kind of person is that?)

What can I say? I love it.

I’ve said in the past that Enrile has been one lucky so-and-so he’s managed to be at the right place at the right time, which has allowed him to reinvent himself. On two occasions quite decisively. He happened to be there when the country was on the cusp of toppling Marcos, holing out in Camp Aguinaldo and expecting obliteration after his clandestine group was discovered by Marcos. Of course his attempts to pass himself off as the country’s savior afterward never took off, but he did get to make the country forget what he was during martial law and remember only the tail end of it.

Again he happened to be the Senate President when the country impeached its chief justice for the first time, and his approval ratings shot through the roof. Enough for him to find it the opportune moment to come out with a version of history, in the guise of a story of his life, that bore no resemblance to the people’s experience of it, however dimly recalled. Certainly that bore no resemblance to the experience of those who were tortured or the kin of the “salvaged” and disappeared, who objected violently to it. But just when it seemed he would have the last word, when fact would bend to fiction, when reality would turn to illusion, comes, well, karma. In the form of Miriam.

What makes it richly ironic is that his undoing would have to do with petty cash. Or at least petty cash by his reckoning, or at least petty cash by the kind of pillage he is used to. What has provoked all this is Miriam’s perception of being epically slighted by having been given only petty cash as Enrile’s gift for Christmas. Specifically about having been given only P250,000 (a fate she shared with three senators) while the other senators were given P1.6 million. She promptly and disdainfully returned it, her body language, along with her ballistic reaction, producing the caption, “Ano ’to, bubog?” And went on this tirade.

Enrile of course has fired back and defended his wealth, or the meager one he claims he has, as the product of exercising his profession. “Ako nag-practice ng law, ewan kung nag-practice siya.” Unfortunately for him, Miriam does have something to point to in that respect. In 1985, during a jeepney drivers’ rally, several speakers were arrested and thrown in jail. One of them was Lino Brocka. Defying precedent, which was judges denying bail to those arrested for the heinous crime of speaking out against Marcos, Miriam allowed them bail. I know this because Brocka told me about it himself.

On the other hand, Enrile’s dogged practice of law during that time is summed up by the number of ASSOs (arrest, search and seizure orders) he signed. That kind of practice of law was truly conducive to amassing wealth, which is by no means meager.

It is karma. And karma trumps luck.

Who knows? Maybe Miriam can reinvent herself too. Or go back to roots, something she has strayed very far from over the years. But I’ll leave tomorrow for tomorrow. Right now, I’ll just say what they say in the movies:

Go girl.

* * *

Today, Heart of Music will hold an activity at 3 p.m. at the Camp Crame Multipurpose Hall. Musicians who need a medical checkup can go there and get one free from a medical mission. Heart of Music is an NGO formed by musicians for musicians, specifically to meet the medical needs of ailing and aging musicians. They’ve been dying plentifully of late. Myra Ruaro’s brainchild, HOM has the virtue of striving to be self-reliant while welcoming help from private and public institutions.

The event will be capped by a concert at 6 p.m. that’s open to the public. It features Gou de Jesus, Lynn Sherman, Sitti Navarro, Bayang Barrios, Cooky Chua and the Guarana Band. Tickets are P1,000 with cocktails and P500 without. It will also be HOM’s coming-out party.

Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, as Congreve says. With your help, maybe it can also have the spells to cure tubercular ones.

Sam Miguel
01-17-2013, 11:32 AM
Miriam to take gift issue to SC; JPE foes lose staff

By Marvin Sy

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago intends to file a case before the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the authority of the Senate President and other heads of government offices to utilize the savings of their respective agencies for whatever purpose they see fit.

But before filing the petition, Santiago said she would wait first for the Commission on Audit (COA) to act on her request for it to study the realignment of savings made by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to cash gifts and maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for the senators.

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, revealed Enrile had pulled out some of the staff members assigned to the minority bloc.

Cayetano said two of his staff, both employees of the Senate, were recalled on orders of Enrile, as well as two more who were assigned to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

According to Cayetano, one of the recalled employees used to work in the office of his father, the late senator Renato Cayetano.

He said his office merely received a memorandum from the Senate secretary informing him the four Senate employees assigned to Trillanes’ and his offices were being recalled.

Cayetano said this was unusual, considering they were not given prior notice about the recall of the personnel. He said this should have been done by the Senate secretary as a courtesy to them.

“I can’t help but think that this is part of the overall strategy that if you are not very good to Senate President Enrile, you pay the price,” Cayetano said.

In a statement, Enrile said the order to recall the four employees was issued on Dec. 6, 2012, saying “the assignment for their detail had actually expired already and it was only proper that these high-salaried personnel should be sent back to and be utilized by their respective mother units.”

“I should also point out that even when employees detailed to their offices have been recalled, there are still two Senate Secretariat employees who have remained assigned to the Office of Sen. Alan Cayetano, and one Secretariat employee still detailed to the Office of Sen. Trillanes,” Enrile said.


Santiago questioned the constitutionality of the so-called absolute discretion of the Senate President on the use of Senate savings, which she said the COA or the SC should settle.

“I am required by law to observe the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies. This means that first I have to go to the COA and request for a study and report on the issue of constitutionality. If the COA opinion differs from mine, only then will I be allowed to file a court case. If not, the court will dismiss my petition,” Santiago said.

However, the initial responses coming from the COA, particularly its chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan about the issue, seemed to support the position taken by Enrile.

Tan earlier said the Senate President and the Speaker are authorized under the law to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from any savings in other items of their respective appropriations.

Santiago said she was very disappointed and frustrated with Tan’s statement, which she said must still come out with a response to her request to determine the legitimacy of Enrile’s actions.

“If she (Tan) said that, then she may have overlooked the constitutional provisions on due process and equal protection. I hope she did not mean that COA rules vest unlimited discretion on every head of office. Every discretionary use of budget funds is always limited by constitutional provisions,” Santiago explained.

Santiago said Enrile had admitted giving away taxpayers’ money of some P2 million as gifts to senators.

“And the COA does not see anything wrong in that? Suppose next year, the Christmas gift for a senator is raised to P3 million, and the year later, to P4 million. Does COA mean that the amount is unlimited? We are talking of taxpayers’ money here,” she added.

The controversy over the release of funds by the Senate President came about after Santiago revealed that she and Senators Pia Cayetano, Trillanes and Minority Leader Cayetano received P250,000 each from the office of Enrile last December when other senators got P1.6 million each.

Santiago claimed the P250,000 was a personal cash gift from Enrile and not MOOE as claimed by the Senate President.

She argued that releasing MOOE at the end of the year is highly irregular.

‘Attack dog’

Santiago also set her sights on Sen. Panfilo Lacson over the issue of the supposed cash gifts being distributed in the Senate.

In an interview over ANC yesterday, Santiago continued her attack against Enrile, who she said “does not even have the guts to face me at a public televised debate” and instead “has been hiding behind the tails of his attack dogs.”

Santiago did not mention names but in describing the person during the interview, she was apparently referring to Lacson.

She said the “attack dog” is not a lawyer but pretending to be one. She said the attack dog has been calling on her to shut up on the issue of cash gifts.

“He does not even have a clue about the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies. He was involved in a court case, and he turned tail and became a fugitive from justice, which is criminal behavior. That is what you get when a layman filled with hubris pretends to be a lawyer. Pilit nakikisawsaw,” Santiago said.

“If that senator wants to participate in the conspiracy of silence, he can, but he should respect my freedom of expression and the public’s right to know under the Constitution. If a dog barks at midnight, the homeowner should go out and search for the intruder, instead of beating the dog,” she added.

Lacson did not back down from the tirade of Santiago and promptly called her a “crusading crook.”

“She pretends to be clean when she is not. A hypocrite par excellence, she doesn’t have a single shred of integrity in her veins and moral ascendancy over any mortal on earth,” Lacson said.

“Ask the people who have fallen victim to her verbal threats and assaults and they will tell you how much they shelled out,” he added.

Lacson previously aired his disappointment over Santiago’s allegations against Enrile.

He said Santiago also received funds last year and the previous years but never complained.

Santiago had admitted she received funds in the past but what was different in the current situation was that the amounts were just too big and the distribution was inequitable.

Lacson, however, said the complaints from Santiago now were due to the decision of Enrile not to give her, the Cayetano siblings and Trillanes the same amount as the other senators.

Instead of going on with her attacks against her colleagues, Lacson advised Santiago to stop and do some reflection.

Sam Miguel
01-21-2013, 08:27 AM
High court dismisses bid to ban political dynasties

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:03 am | Monday, January 21st, 2013

The Constitution’s provision against political dynasties is not self-executing and must have an enabling law passed by Congress to back it up, according to the Supreme Court.

The high tribunal reiterated this requirement as it denied with finality the petition of businessman Louis Biraogo to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ban members of political dynasties from running in the May elections.

“[I]t is evident from the plain wording of the provision against political dynasties, particularly Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which reads: ‘the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be provided by law,’ that it is not self-executing but is simply a statement of a general principle which further requires a law passed by Congress to define and give effect thereto,” the high court en banc ruled.

The court threw out Biraogo’s main petition on Nov. 13, 2012, but the latter filed a motion for reconsideration, which was dismissed on Jan. 8. The Jan. 8 decision was released by the Supreme Court public information office only last Friday.

In his motion for reconsideration, Biraogo argued that the Supreme Court “is not devoid of power to provide a remedy where Congress deliberately fails to enact legislation explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Biraogo cited the 1997 case of Manila Prince Hotel v Government Service Insurance System wherein the high court upheld the bid of a Filipino corporation against that of a foreign corporation in the acquisition of shares in the firm that owned the hotel.

In that case, Biraogo said, the Supreme Court cited Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution which states that “in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos.”

However, the court said Biraogo’s act of citing the Manila Prince Hotel case was “misplaced,” adding that Section 10, Article XII, also known as the “Filipino First Policy” was self-executory.

“[Section 10, Article XII] is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws for its enforcement, and that, from its very words, does not require any legislation to put it in operation,” the justices ruled.

In October last year, Biraogo filed a 26-page petition for mandamus, asking the high court to order the Comelec to enforce the constitutional ban on political dynasties in the coming national and local polls.

Biraogo had lamented how dynasties still dominated the country’s political landscape, adding that the current batch of candidates was the “best testament to that political and constitutional mockery.”

“The refusal of the government, the Congress in particular, to fulfill the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties has been a continuing insult to the Filipino people. Something must be done about this anomaly,” Biraogo said.

Sam Miguel
01-21-2013, 08:40 AM
Speaking of poltiical dynasties...

Don’t stop

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:41 pm | Sunday, January 20th, 2013

It’s another one of those magic-realist quirks of this country that an 89-year-old man should be unctuously solicitous about the health of an adversary in her late 60s. He’ll pray for Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s swift recovery, Juan Ponce Enrile says, after their exchange of verbal fire last week, which had Miriam’s blood pressure shooting through the roof. It was in fact, say her doctors, a minor stroke—after her major stroke of shining a light again on Enrile’s past—which manifested itself in burst blood vessels in the eyes and not in the brain. Of course some will say too late, but let’s be kind and refrain from the jokes.

Of course I wouldn’t put it past Enrile to have meant his display of concern as a sly retort to Miriam saying, “tumigil-tigil na nga ’yang matandang ’yan.” He must have been sorely tempted to prescribe stem cell treatment for her but resisted it heroically.

My sympathies are with Miriam on this one, and I wouldn’t mind her clinging tenaciously to her cause of exposing Enrile, particularly in his role as martial law enforcer, which he has tried to obscure from view.That is not, as cynics might say, because as her doctors have warned pursuing that tack could lead to nasty consequences, baka matuluyan, but quite earnestly because I do think she is doing the country a favor by it. The elections being just round the corner, it helps monumentally to make the electorate remember what some of the characters there have done to screw them in the past. Indeed, to make the voters see the real character of those characters.

It should also help to lessen the public’s perception of Miriam as the neighborhood, or senatorial, bully with the way she has gained renown, or notoriety, for picking on people who can’t fight back. It’s time she showed she’s capable of taking on people her own size, figuratively speaking.

Of course the retaliation was bound to come. It’s not just that Enrile wasn’t going to take it lying down, being depicted as lying through his teeth, it’s also that Miriam isn’t exactly invulnerable to attack. The pot is perfectly right to call the kettle black, but so is the kettle to call the pot black. Unfortunately for Miriam, the thing that got her to mount her high horse and sally forth to slay the ogre does not put her at a great advantage. It had to do with money, which all of them are sullied with.

Specifically, it had to do with Miriam returning the P250,000 she got in gratuity from Enrile last December on the grounds that it was undue and improper. Her argument of course was solid. The bonus was justified as supplemental budget, but, she rightly asked, why should the senators be entitled to supplemental budget at the end of the year when their work was already done?

But the public, rather than seeing that as a sign of principle, saw it only as a sign of pettiness. That was so because only she and three other senators got P250,000 while the 18 others got P1.6 million, a patent case of Enrile wanting to punish her and the three other senators—Antonio Trillanes and the Cayetano siblings—for being less than tractable, or servile, before him. For the public, Miriam’s spurning of her P250,000 was just as patent a case of her scorning not the quality but the quantity of the gratuity. Not the amount being undue and improper to the taxpayers but the amount being undue and improper to her. It wasn’t an injury to the taxpayers, it was an insult to her.

Naturally Ping Lacson was quick to jump on it. Quite apart from the fact that it puts pressure on the other senators to return their P1.6 million, a thing they are exceedingly loath to do, he is Enrile’s man. “A crusading crook,” he fired back at Miriam. And added with the same bile Miriam heaps on her enemies: “She is a hypocrite par excellence who doesn’t have a single shred of integrity in her veins and moral ascendancy over any mortal on earth. Ask people who have fallen victim to her verbal threats and assaults and they will tell you how much they shelled out (for her to stop).”

Given a taste of how it feels to be ganged up upon, or to be at the receiving end of her own tactics at Senate hearings, she ended up at the doctor’s office.

Enrile says they should all call a truce, the recriminations aren’t helping, they’re just destroying the image of the Senate. But not at all. That’s just the logic of l’etat c’est moi, or of people believing they are the institution, but are destroying the institution themselves. In fact these recriminations improve the image of the Senate, they strengthen the Senate. Exposing the rot inside institutions does not damage the institutions, it cleanses them of their dregs, it separates the innocent from the guilty, the lofty from the base. Unity is not just an overrated virtue, it is a downright vice when all it means is keeping it all in the family, not exposing dirty linen in public.Hallowed institutions like the Senate do not say it best when they say nothing at all, they say it best, to paraphrase the song, when they say everything that needs to be said.

What Miriam said last week about Enrile needs very badly to be said. And I will applaud her if she continues to say it despite the odds. It should be a test of character, it should be a test of mettle, it should be a legacy to be remembered by. Enrile’s role during martial law may not be forgotten and forgiven, may not be obfuscated or obscured.Miriam at least stands on solid ground there, her difference with Enrile during that time being the difference between day and night. She takes up the cudgels for those who suffered during martial law, as she once did for people like Lino Brocka, who knows, maybe she can find redemption after the fall.

What can I say? Serve the people.

Don’t stop.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:31 AM
Enrile preempts Senate coup

By Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:40 pm | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile put to rest on Monday persistent rumors of a plot to unseat him with a farcical offer to resign, to clear the way for the election of his successor. He engineered the motion in such a way that it would result in a vote of confidence for his retention.

As a past master of the art of coup d’etat, Enrile initiated a motion declaring his position vacant—ostensibly a coup on himself—to show he was not clinging to the top post in the Senate or aspiring to be its president for life. He was applying the trick he had learned from his political mentor—the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who staged a coup on his democratically elected government by declaring martial law in 1972, claiming that he was acting to save Philippine democracy from the threat of the communist insurgency and the mounting unrest by the legal opposition over his regime’s corruption and economic mismanagement.

Enrile’s self-serving motion turned out the way he wanted it—a vote to keep his grip on power, and not for him to step down. When the Senate voted on the motion, the result confirmed his expectations/designs—a renewed mandate from his colleagues.

The result was 11 voted to reject Enrile’s motion to resign and three voted for his resignation. The three who voted to accept the motion were Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Aquilino Pimentel III and Enrile himself, as the movant of the motion. Two senators didn’t take part in the farce—Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. They abstained from the vote. Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the most outspoken critic of Enrile, and Edgardo Angara, Manny Villar, Francis Pangilinan and Serge Osmeńa were absent. Also absent were Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and sister Pia Cayetano (who was abroad).

Enrile seized these opportunities to force the issue of his resignation to a test. Four senators were the hard-core members of the move to unseat him. Santiago was too ill to continue her tirade against him. So when the head count came on the motion, the dissidents didn’t have the numbers. The vote came after Enrile delivered a privilege speech, lashing at his critics who had denounced him for playing favorites in the distribution of Christmas gifts consisting of checks to 22 senators. He distributed just before Christmas the gifts taken from public funds, the Senate savings on the “maintenance and other operating expenditures” (MOOE). Enrile signed checks of P1.6 million each to 18 senators he considered friendly, and gifted four senators he had classified as hostile only P250,000 each.

The rejection of the Enrile-sponsored motion of resignation did not mean that the outrage over the cash bonuses to the senators has spent itself. On the contrary, the backlash of the lavish largesse disguised as Christmas gifts will continue to fester and dog Enrile’s leadership in the remaining few weeks of the current Congress, which ends in June. Enrile can claim that the vote of the Senate on his motion is a vote of confidence on his leadership and on the distribution of the MOOE. That Enrile attacked the media for breaking the story on using public funds for distribution of cash bonuses can also mean that the controversy is taking a political toll on the candidacy of his son, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, who is running for election to the Senate.

The motion to declare his position vacant is not an act of someone who wants to step down. Enrile’s attack on the press was so virulent that he accused some of the media of engaging in a “venomous” campaign to vilify him as a “traitor” and as a villain.

He said: “In their passionate desire to destroy me, my enemies and critics have dragged the reputation of my colleagues, wildly accusing them of taking bribes and pocketing the people’s money. They have succeeded as well in placing this very institution … under the dark cloud of doubt and suspicion.” In his privilege speech, Enrile painted himself as a defender of the members of the Senate who have come under criticism for receiving largesse from the Senate savings. With that, he also succeeded in dividing the Senate into camps of friends or foes.

Enrile is also sending a message to the administration that it should desist from interfering in the affairs of the Senate, that he is still in control of the chamber, and that any move to stage a coup on him is bound to fail.

He has aligned himself with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) which has formed a senatorial ticket in opposition to President Aquino’s Liberal Party. The party is at the heart of the administration’s lineup to take control of the Senate. Enrile is one of the three key leaders of UNA, which is identified with Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The current fractures in the Senate prefigure the cleavage lines along which the senatorial elections will be fought. Miriam Santiago and her group are likely to figure as key players in the coming Senate realignment. In this reconfiguration of the Senate leadership after May, Enrile is sending out flares signaling that he cannot be ignored as a key political player. He is telling the administration that he intends to continue to play kingmaker in the second half of the Aquino administration.

Enrile was a pain in the neck as an embedded coup maker in the Cory Aquino presidency. He can be as dangerous to the stability of the incumbent Aquino administration, as he was to Cory’s regime.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:36 AM
UNA, Estrada rap LP for restricting common bets

By Christian V. Esguerra, Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:37 am | Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Deposed President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada assailed the Liberal Party declaration that it would not allow its “common” candidates with the rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to join the campaign sorties of the UNA.

Estrada, a senior UNA leader, said this amounted to a virtual “ban” being imposed on Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, and Grace Poe-Llamanzares who are running under both the ruling LP and the UNA senatorial tickets.

“They’re running scared,” Estrada, 75, said of the administration coalition. “They know that the results of the 2013 elections would reflect their chances in 2016,” he said.

Estrada said he was initially adamant against allowing so-called “common” candidates to join LP sorties. But he said he eventually reconsidered and even allowed Escudero, Legarda and Llamanzares to give “priority” to the LP.

“They are the priority, that’s OK with us. But why can’t they be allowed to join our campaign if there’s no schedule with LP?” he said in Filipino.

LP reminder

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, the acting LP president, has reminded Escudero, Legarda and Llamanzares about the ruling party’s standing policy against campaigning with the UNA.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, an LP member, said the UNA “cannot have the best of both worlds.” He said the UNA should clarify once and for all whether it was “fully supportive of President Aquino or has taken the role of the so-called united opposition that stands in the way of his daang matuwid reform agenda.”

“The UNA cannot straddle two horses by foisting the grand deception upon our voters that it remains fully supportive of President Aquino’s program while undermining his daang matuwid agenda with its leaders’ incessant attacks on his reform programs,” he said in a statement.

Evardone warned that UNA candidates were “heading for poll defeat should they follow their leaders in going opposition at this time when an overwhelming majority of Filipinos appreciate—and are beginning to reap benefits from—the reform program of President Aquino.”

‘Harsh, unkind’

UNA secretary general Tobias Tiangco on Tuesay said Abaya’s statement seemed to deviate from the party’s “supposedly caring and open-minded” image, describing the LP ban as “too harsh and unkind.”

“I’m not sure if Secretary Abaya is aware of his pronouncements. He is actually putting President Aquino on the spot. Abaya’s cold-hearted statement is putting the President in a bad light,” he said.

But the rival political coalitions apparently have more serious conflicts than just the issue of sharing their “common” candidates during the campaign.

‘Squeezing us’

Estrada accused the administration of pressuring incumbent UNA officials to help ensure its victory in the May elections and, ultimately, in the 2016 presidential derby. He cited the case of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who was suspended by Mr. Aquino for six months for allegedly usurping the authority of her late vice governor.

Appointed to replace Garcia in the meantime is Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, the sister of one of the President’s closest friends, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

“Talagang iniipit” [They are really squeezing us],” he complained.

Tiangco said UNA was leaving it up the three “common” candidates whether to join UNA sorties in the face of the LP ban.

“We treat them as guests and we accord them the respect and hospitality that must be due them,” he said.

Tiangco said the three “common” candidates had a “stronger bond and solid affinity with the UNA,” which is led by Estrada, Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, than with the LP.

He also sought to remind the LP that the UNA ticket was faring better in the surveys of who people were likely to vote for in the May elections.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:49 AM
Twist of fate

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:43 pm | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Erap had some very interesting things to say last weekend. His political sortie in Manila, he said, would be his last. “This is my last hurrah. No more, no way.”

But he will step away from public life vindicated. You will notice, he said, that while Filipinos continue to celebrate Edsa I in February, they do not do so Edsa II in January. “Probably because they are ashamed about participating in what has turned out to be a terrible mistake.” And of course, he said, his nemesis, the one who usurped his position, is now behind bars. “It’s poetic justice.”

Taken at face value, his statement squelches speculation he might run in 2016, a not very dark horse in a looming two-cornered fight between Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay. His showing in the 2010 elections, which was to zoom past Manny Villar and end up second to P-Noy, testifies to a strong comeback potential. He decides to run then—assuming he can get Binay to agree to make way for him—he can very well be the bet to beat.

He says today that won’t happen tomorrow. But he wins as mayor of Manila, and wins big—which seems likely, to go by the betting odds—you never know. That will be no small encouragement, or pressure. Of course he will be 79 by then. But Juan Ponce Enrile is 10 years older and is still going like the Eveready battery. Of course, too, he might balk at doing a Gloria and prove true to his word. But if he changes his mind, he can always point to a public clamor for it, which in his case can look a lot more believable.

But I’ll leave these concerns for another day. As indeed I’ll leave his views about Edsa II for another day. What struck me about all this, however, is how Erap shares some things with Gloria despite their obvious differences.

Their differences, of course, are as day and night. Erap was the most popular presidential candidate ever, leaving his closest rival, Jose de Venecia, too far behind to even bite his dust. Gloria spent her entire rule having to fend off challenges about her legitimacy, becoming president first by accident and second by design. Ironically, Erap got less than three years as president after winning massively and Gloria close to a decade after not winning at all.

But come now the similarities. At the very least, both of them were jailed for corruption. Of course there are differences here, too. Erap was tried and convicted by a regime buffeted by unrest over charges of illegitimacy, not least from the Erap hordes, which gave the verdict a political spin. Gloria will be tried by a government whose legitimacy is beyond question, and if she is convicted, it will be beyond rebuke. But that doesn’t debunk the fact that he was guilty of corruption. That verdict was rendered by a power more supreme than the Supreme Court, who are the people themselves. Erap may take comfort in his tormentor being in jail, but he may not find exoneration in it.

But what Erap really has in common with Gloria is this: They are the only two presidents of this country, real or unreal, aborted or extended, unseated or unsated, who have gone on to run for lower positions after being so. Gloria ran for congressman immediately afterward, Erap is running for mayor now.

I don’t know how it is in other countries. But I have not seen any American president or European prime minister or Asian premier or president doing so. They’ve gone on to become senior statesmen, or, like Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, into larger-than-life, or larger-than-president, concerns such as climate change and habitat. The normal trajectory is to go up, not down.

It’s hugely troubling, and it is a testament to our declining valuation of public office, or indeed the highest office of the land, that we are not hugely troubled. Surely it’s scornful of the position? You’re senator, you can always go down to congressman after you reach term limits. You’re mayor, you can always go down to vice mayor or even councilor when you reach term limits. But you’re president, you call it quits afterward and try to become more than what you were. You do not become a congressman or mayor.

At least as a matter of tradition, at least as a matter of decency, at least as a matter of delicadeza. It does not merely lower you in the eyes of the public, it lowers the nation in the eyes of the world. It is no slight slight of the office.

It’s bad enough over the years that senators and congressmen have been moonlighting while in public office, their argument being that they need it to supplement income, better work over the table than under. True, but even better just work and nothing else. Public office is a trust, not a hobby. The entertainers in particular go on to make movies, while the nonentertainers go on to advertise all sorts of products. That never happened during the time of Jose Laurel, Claro Recto, Lorenzo Tańada, Jose Diokno, even Ferdinand Marcos. Whatever they were, or did, they had reverence for the office, they had deference for the office.

Moonlighting cheapens the office, sidelining demeans the office. If you cannot hold your office in high esteem, if not awe, why should we?

It’s worse that we now have ex-presidents who are a current congressman and a prospective mayor. No other president in the past did that. Not Cory, not Ramos, not (prospectively) P-Noy, to name only the post-Edsa presidents. Only Erap and Gloria. Arguably, Erap never got to finish his term, but some pride at least, if not appreciation for an office that, like the flag, symbolizes the nation, should have kept him from seeking to become mayor all over again. Maybe he just wants to see Jinggoy in Malacańang by that “sacrifice”? Well, that’s adding insult to injury, or injury to insult.

Ah, the twists in this tale of a twist of fate.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:53 AM
^^^ I recall John Adams became a US Senator after his presidency.

Sam Miguel
01-24-2013, 07:55 AM
Senate war in gutter, turns personal, ugly

Cayetano: Is Gigi Reyes running the Senate?

By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:40 am | Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The squabble over the purported “Christmas bonus” turned ugly Wednesday—the third of the Senate’s remaining nine days of sessions—after Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano brought up in a privilege speech Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s personal grudge against him and the unusual clout Enrile’s chief of staff wields in the chamber.

Not to be outdone, Enrile waved on the floor a document that supposedly showed a P37-million debt Cayetano’s father, the late former Sen. Rene Cayetano, incurred while a partner in the Ponce Enrile-Cayetano Law firm that the Senate President said he had put up so the elder Cayetano could feed his family.

“We all know how you run the Senate. Or more accurately, how you and Ma’am Gigi run the Senate,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano said Enrile’s chief of staff, lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, would be in the senators’ caucuses and even join the discussion as if she were one of them. He added that during the Senate presidency of his party mate, Sen. Manuel Villar, he could go directly to Villar.

“But under your administration, I have to go through Gigi or her brother who’s a political officer,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano also presented a document handwritten by Reyes giving instructions for the release of additional MOOE to all senators except him and Senators Pia Cayetano, his sister, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV.

“I will not go down to the gutter,” Enrile said after telling the Senate of the late Cayetano’s debt as he prepared to answer Cayetano’s questions on how the Senate funds were being used, especially the P250,000 Enrile distributed as cash gifts to all senators in December.

“You already did, Mr. President. You already went to the gutter. Your chief of staff has already gone to the gutter,” came Cayetano’s response.

Enrile and Cayetano continued their verbal assault against each other even after Sen. Franklin Drilon moved to suspend the session in a vain attempt to ease the tension.

It took a few more exchanges before Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada managed to bang the gavel to suspend the proceedings. Enrile started to speak on the microphone and had to be restrained by Estrada, imploring him to stop, saying, “Manong, manong,” while raising his hand.

Enrile’s blood pressure was reported to have shot up and he had to be attended to by the Senate medical staff in the lounge. After a lengthy break, Enrile returned to the session hall to answer Cayetano on the issue of funds disbursements.

“We have had this practice that during Christmas time the head of the office takes out from his available savings something that will augment the resources of the senators because it’s Christmas time and there are many pressures on them,” Enrile said.

‘Money of the people’

Enrile, visibly calmer, said he distributed the P250,000 to all senators using checks drawn from the Office of the Senate President, so that the auditor could trace where they came from.

“This was not my money. It was not cash that I gave to the senators. I issued the check to the individual senators… and they know that this is a public fund,” Enrile said.

“I know they are well-meaning, knowledgeable gentlemen and ladies. They must know that this is the money of the people that must be used for a public purpose. I do not have to tell them or educate them about this,” Enrile added.

Enrile said he called it a gift because Drilon and Sen. Edgardo Angara “kidded” him before the Christmas break about the practice of making available savings of his office to augment the resources of senators.

“The auditor can chase the source of this money…. Now, I own the responsibility for all of this,” Enrile said.

Enrile said he welcomed an independent audit proposed by Cayetano but added that such a proceeding would be up to the entire Senate.

‘I never called you names’

Cayetano took the floor to reiterate his call for an audit by a private firm of the Senate’s finances, particularly its use of almost P1.5 billion in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and the P250,000 in cash gifts distributed to all senators before the Christmas break.

Cayetano started off by taking issue with Enrile and Reyes.

The 50-year-old Reyes went on radio on Monday to accuse Cayetano of hypocrisy for branding the P250,000-per-senator cash gift as illegal when, she said, he always received such releases in previous years and had yet to return the check his office received in December.

The interview with dzMM took place after Enrile delivered a privilege speech where he moved to declare the Senate presidency vacant to get a new vote of confidence from his colleagues amid the controversy over the MOOE.

“Ako po madalas ninyong apihin (you always oppressed me) Mr. Senate President Enrile but I have never been rude to you. I always treated you with respect. I always explained to you after a heated debate that we just have differences in beliefs and views and I never called you names,” Cayetano said.

“I always called you Uncle Johnny or Manong Johnny.”

Cayetano then went on to cite the influence of Enrile’s chief of staff over the Senate affairs.

Close to Arroyo

Cayetano also claimed Enrile tried to prevent him from becoming a member of the Commission on Appointments and the office of the minority leader was disallowed from using one of the rooms in the Senate building.

“There were also committee chairmanships promised when we discussed them that were given to others. I didn’t complain. I just took it,” Cayetano said.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. Why are you personally upset with me? It’s because you and Attorney Gigi are close to the former President GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) and the First Gentleman.”

Cayetano said the group was upset with him as a member of the House who frequently took the floor to criticize the Arroyo administration. He added that Reyes’ best friend was a relative of Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano’s political foe in local politics.

“Hypocrites, cowards, without a sense of gratitude. My God! That’s what I often hear from you, from your chief of staff,” Cayetano said.

A hundred truths for every lie

“We received a lot of insults. I am tempted to answer back. I’m also tempted to talk that way. Why am I tempted? Because for every lie that you told about me, I have a hundred truths about you and Ma’am Gigi,” he added.

Cayetano said that when he was the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, many told him he could earn millions of pesos by just filing a resolution for the investigation of certain businesses. He said he never did so.

Cayetano also said that his wife Lani, the mayor of Taguig City, has yet to spend a single centavo from the P5-million intelligence fund of the city. He indicated that it would be easy to steal from the fund because it wasn’t subject to liquidation upon audit.

He also said he lost more than a billion pesos in priority development assistance funds during the Arroyo administration.

“Then for P1.6 million, Ma’am Gigi would portray me as one greedy for money,” Cayetano said.

Standing by Reyes

Following the break, Enrile apologized for “the fracas that happened.”

“I was just trying to answer personal assaults against my person. But I will not deal with those matters anymore. Let it stay on the record and let the Divine Spirit determine whose truth is correct, where lies the truth,” Enrile said.

Enrile, who is turning 89 on Valentine’s Day, also stood by Reyes’ actions, particularly her handwritten instructions on the MOOE, saying she was acting on his instructions.

Cayetano said that while senators harassed persons being investigated for corruption scandals to reveal the money trail, the same did not hold true on the disposition of Senate funds.

“Why is there a double standard when it involves the money of the Senate or the funds under the Office of the Senate President and we don’t want this opened?” Cayetano said.

“Let’s answer the issue directly,” Cayetano added.

Cayetano said this was the reason why he was pressing for an independent audit of the Senate funds by a private firm.

Reyes, in her interview, also said that Cayetano had lobbied for the creation of an oversight committee on the Bases Conversion and Development Authority which would have, like other oversight committees, millions of pesos at its disposal.

Sam Miguel
01-25-2013, 08:30 AM
A national drama

By Rina Jimenez-David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:54 pm | Thursday, January 24th, 2013

When news got out about the “Christmas gift” that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile bestowed on senators, though four of his colleagues received a lot less than the others, little did the public know the news would soon develop into a “telenovela.” And what drama has been generated by the news!

Already, we have been “treated” to the washing of very dirty linen in public, including exposés of how money matters in the Senate are handled, sins and offenses of the past dug up and given an airing, the existence of a so-called “24th senator” who has been dubbed the “power behind the throne,” and private affairs exposed for the delectation of a public who may just be abandoning its favorite TV drama serials in favor of this real-life melodrama involving very real (and very powerful) personages.

Caught in the middle of two battling elephants—Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Minority Floor Leader Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano—is a woman: Gigi Gonzales-Reyes, Enrile’s chief of staff. She is alleged by Cayetano to be acting as if she were herself a member of the Senate, mingling among them at the exclusive Senate lounge, and signing checks and disbursing cash to senators who must, he disclosed, go through her or her brother Patrick before they can see Enrile in person.

Cayetano’s focus on Reyes revives rumors that the relationship between the octogenarian senator and the fiftyish lawyer goes beyond work and official duties. Once again reports that Enrile’s wife Cristina walked out of the family home after finding out about the liaison between her husband and his chief of staff have surfaced, and so has speculation about just how “powerful” Gigi has become in the Senate. The Enriles seem to have ironed out their differences and are once again living under the same roof (or in the same compound), with Cristina even giving an interview some years back in which she said that she wakes up every morning “thanking God for my husband.”

Gigi, the daughter of the late journalist-editor Pat Gonzales, has likewise managed to weather the tempest, keeping a relatively low profile until she gave an interview on radio in which she sounded off about the “hypocrites” in the Senate denouncing the yearend cash allotment when they have been receiving such amounts for the past years without so much as a peep of protest.

* * *

Apparently, it was Gigi’s outspoken denunciation that provoked Cayetano, who was moved enough to lay before an avid audience the inner and secret workings of the Senate, especially where money matters are concerned.

In turn, Enrile took the floor to respond to Cayetano’s charges, but only after disclosing that Cayetano’s late father, Sen. Rene “Compańero” Cayetano, left their law firm with millions of pesos in debt. This struck me, for one, as being terribly unfair, since the late “Compańero” is no longer around to refute the charges, and since Enrile, granting that his accusation is true, has had more than a decade to go after the late senator or his family if he so wished. And what did the senior Cayetano’s debt have to do with the question at hand? This is diversion at best, an attempt to elude the charges aired by the fuming minority leader.

As for Ms Gigi, I can remember quite clearly the response of Jack Enrile, the congressman from Cagayan who is running for the Senate, when in a lunch with media women he was asked about Gigi’s role in his father’s life. “I am very thankful to her because she has made my father into the man he is today,” Jack Enrile declared. The response stunned us not just for its honesty but also for the ringing endorsement he seemed to be issuing in favor of the relationship. And indeed, he added, his being “friends” with Gigi has led to an estrangement between him and his mother and his sister Katrina.

And speaking of Jack, he recently issued a statement in response to chatter on social media that he was withdrawing from the Senate race. “I have not withdrawn or contemplated the idea of withdrawing from the May 2013 senatorial race,” he said. “I have no reason to withdraw when the race has not even started,” he added, noting that the truth is that “I have stepped up my resolve to see this electoral exercise to its very end, win or lose.”

Who has lost and who has won in this Senate melodrama? As in any TV drama, who will walk off when the final credits roll with smiles on their faces or with tears streaming down their cheeks?

* * *

Still on the younger Enrile, who was one of the original authors of the “Kasambahay bill,” he must be jumping for joy with the recent signing into law of this piece of legislation that seeks to protect the rights and promote the welfare of domestic workers.

Another party elated by this new law is the Visayan Forum, an NGO devoted to protecting the rights of domestic workers here and abroad and preventing human trafficking within and without our shores.

The Forum said it is grateful to P-Noy for signing the bill into law and to the bill’s sponsors and champions: Vice President Jojo Binay, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Loren Legarda, and Representatives Enrile and Emil Ong, who, together with VF, its NGO partners and supporters, worked for 18 years to pass the bill into law.

Among its features, the “Kasambahay Law” sets a minimum wage for domestic workers, requires membership in the “social benefit systems” of government such as SSS and PhilHealth, and protects them by means of a contract of employment.

One of the bill’s signal accomplishments even before enactment, though, was to transform the image of domestic workers from “househelp” to “house members,” workers who are also part of the family.

Sam Miguel
01-28-2013, 08:22 AM
Printing of ballots to start next week—Comelec

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:43 am | Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said the National Printing Office (NPO) will start printing more than 52 million official ballots for the May 13 automated midterm elections next week.

In an interview with reporters, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. announced that the NPO was already conducting test runs in time for the official start of the ballot printing on Feb. 4.

Some 52,014,000 ballots need to be printed. These precinct-specific ballots will be on a 1:1 ratio (voter per official ballot), Brillantes pointed out.

“We are ready to start printing. The ballot papers are there [at the NPO] already. The printers are also there and are undergoing test runs right now so that there will be no more problems by next week,” he said.

The printing is expected to run over 50 days since the printer can only churn out about a million ballots a day, he added. Jocelyn R. Uy

Sam Miguel
01-28-2013, 09:09 AM
Senate brawl worsens; Enrile accused of piracy

By Rene Ciria-Cruz

2:05 pm | Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Furiously fending off accusations of doling out public funds to Senate colleagues as if the money were his to give as “Christmas gifts,” Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile now also stands accused of pirating intellectual property.

The latest charge has nothing to do with his best-selling autobiography. Critics instead claim that he pirated another well-known figure’s tactic while defending himself against Senate leader Alan Peter Cayetano’s charges of favoritism and vindictiveness.

The charge of piracy came after Enrile from out of the blue said Cayetano’s late father, who was his former law firm partner, still owed him P37 million, which he had to put up so that the elder Cayetano could feed his family.

Critics accused Enrile of improperly appropriating the patently low blow that former Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona used during his impeachment trial, when he cast aspersions on his deceased father-in-law’s character for no apparent reason material to his defense.

“I beg your pardon!” Enrile bristled. “My irrelevant below the belt retort is my own original idea. Do I have to copyright that?” Enrile then complained that Cayetano made his blood pressure shoot up.

One of Enrile’s supporters, Sen. Tito Sotto, quickly came to his defense. “I beg your pardon!” Sotto bristled, too. “The Senate president’s irrelevant below the belt retort is his own original idea. Does he have to copyright it?”

Whereupon Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who had fallen ill after tangling with Enrile over the same “Christmas gift” issue, unexpectedly staggered into the Senate chamber and woozily accused him of pirating her high blood pressure. “That act is mine! Do I have to copyright it?”

Whereupon Enrile accused Santiago of lack of originality herself when she returned the $250,000 Christmas gift check he had given her. “It was I who first returned your Christmas gift of biscuits because of your advocacy for the RH bill—gaya-gaya ka lang, hija,” Enrile exploded.

“Touche,” Santiago conceded, “but talk about lack of originality—you faked your own ambush to give an excuse for martial law, then just the other day you faked vacating the Senate presidency so you could get a vote of confidence from our peers. My dear senator of a certain age, you are just repeating yourself!” she yelled before being taken away on a stretcher.

Cayetano, in his privilege speech, had also accused Enrile of giving his chief of staff Jessica Gigi Reyes so much power that she acts as if she’s a senator herself. The accusation revived old rumors that Reyes was Enrile’s mistress.

Livid, Enrile, vehemently denied having a mistress. “And I am not pirating this line of defense from any of my male senate peers, because an elected official’s denial of having a mistress or mistresses is already in the public domain,” he magisterially argued.

In a touching show of solidarity, Enrile’s supporters stood up and to a man gave him a vote of confidence on the issue.

But they all began slouching down in silence when Enrile repeated the statement he gave in a TV interview with Winnie Monsod–that he was too old “from the waist down” to have a mistress and was willing to be tested for erectile dysfunction to prove it.

Murmuring to one another, Enrile’s supporters backed off, hinting that they would not be able to join him on this one.

Finally, Enrile vowed not to deal with assaults on his person anymore: “Let it stay on the record and let the Divine Spirit determine whose truth is correct, where lies the truth.”

As usual, the Divine Spirit refused to comment.

Sam Miguel
01-28-2013, 09:09 AM

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:08 am | Monday, January 28th, 2013

After Miriam Defensor-Santiago comes Alan Peter Cayetano.

Like Miriam, he says Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s gifts last Christmas were unlawful, engineered by Enrile’s, well, her official designation is chief of staff, her unofficial one is the woman in his life, Gigi Reyes. She has become so powerful, Cayetano says, she might as well be a senator, or indeed a supra one, being the alter ego of the Senate President who signs millions of pesos in disbursements in his name.

Like Miriam, he says, Enrile has a beef with him because he has stood for principle where Enrile has stood for villainy. In Miriam’s case, it was because Enrile was a martial law custodian whereas she was one of those who fought against it. In Cayetano’s case, it was because Enrile was a Gloria Arroyo stalwart whereas he was one of those who fought against her. “Let’s call a spade a spade. Why are you personally upset with me? It’s because you and Attorney Gigi are close to the former President and First Gentleman.”

Like Miriam, Cayetano has met with reprisal for his tirade. Enrile promptly got personal with him too. At the Senate floor, he waved a document that showed a P37-million unpaid debt Cayetano’s father, Rene, had apparently incurred as a partner in Enrile’s law firm. Enrile said he had personally authorized that loan so Rene could feed his family, with all its suggestions of profound ingratitude.

Like Miriam, Cayetano has been called a hypocrite for even hinting that Enrile’s gifts did not come up smelling of roses. It was Ping Lacson who expressly called Miriam that, asking why she found nothing wrong with the gifts in the past. It is Reyes who implicitly called Cayetano that, for the same reason. “It’s illegal? Why does he accept such gifts every year?”

All this makes you wonder at the future of two things.

The first is the future of the Senate to conduct hearings on corruption. Lacson points this out and concludes that it is dismal. “Our well-being, whether as institution or as individual senators, largely depends on public perception, our image.” That image has been badly tarnished by the trading of charges of unethical conduct between Enrile and Santiago and Cayetano. Where lies now the Senate’s moral ascendancy to investigate corruption?

Last time around, I said the problem with Miriam’s complaint against Enrile, an exceedingly valid and vital one, which is the notorious role he played during martial law, was that it owed to money, or division of spoils. What triggered her broadside was Enrile giving her less than the others. The same is true of Cayetano, which makes him just as vulnerable. His complaint about Enrile, an exceedingly valid and vital one, which is the notorious role he played during Arroyo’s regime, also owes to money, or division of spoils. That is suggested by his pointing out that Enrile bears him the greatest enmity. How has that enmity been expressed? By Enrile, or his chief of staff—he denies the romantic link but he also denies having said his ambush was fake—giving him less than the others.

Outside looking in, this isn’t really a quarrel over principle, this is a quarrel over money. The girian isn’t over katiwalian, it is over hatian. True enough, you have to wonder how the public will react the next time the Senate hauls in someone for questioning or, worse, impeaching. That public is bound to end up sniggering and saying, “Physician, heal thyself.”

Far more importantly, all this makes you wonder about the future of P-Noy’s campaign against corruption.

At the very least, it’s not easy running after people—Arroyo is first in line—having a Senate caught in the pit of disguised corruption. Enrile’s gifts may be justified legally, but they may not be justified morally. Miriam is right: Why should you give the senators “supplemental budget” at the end of the year when their work is done? Enrile doesn’t make things better by trying to be cute and saying those gifts were just “lambing” to the senators. Why doesn’t he show the same lambing to the taxpayers? Why doesn’t he show the same carińo to the street children who brave the poisonous fumes and descend on vehicles to badger their occupants for a few coins particularly on Christmas?

Far more than that, lest we forget, most of the senators involved in this fracas were part of the coalition that government helped form in order to push along the impeachment of Renato Corona. It did not include Miriam (along with Joker Arroyo and Bongbong Marcos) who eventually voted not guilty. Impeaching Corona was the first step in clearing the way for the prosecution of Arroyo, a truly potentially huge step toward stifling corruption. Arguably, government had to be pragmatic too and make unholy alliances to accomplish its ends. The question now is just how unholy it was.

That coalition did get to convict Corona. But it also produced the unholy effect of making Enrile once again one of the most powerful men in the country. How powerful you see in Miriam’s and Cayetano’s revelations of another conjugal dictatorship. Indeed how powerful you see in P-Noy being compelled to attend Enrile’s book launching—justifiable too legally but not morally. Outside looking in, or downside looking up, it suggested giving blessings to hiding the past, mangling the past, denying the past.

Miriam and Cayetano are right: Enrile was a custodian of martial law, Enrile was a pillar of Arroyo’s rule, two of the nastiest things ever to have happened to this country. But he has been exalted while those who fought martial law have been humbled. He has been rewarded while those who fought Arroyo’s rule have been punished. And now we have turned him into a pillar in the fight against corruption. Can anything be battier?

And we call Miriam mentally challenged.

Sam Miguel
01-29-2013, 08:14 AM

Political dynasties rule senatorial race polls

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:00 am | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Political dynasties loom large in the results of a pre-election survey on the senatorial race.

JV Ejercito, Jack Enrile and Nancy Binay—offspring of the three leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)—remained in the winning circle of the senatorial race if elections were held between Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found.

Ejercito, a son of ousted President Joseph Estrada, was No. 4 with 53 percent of Filipino adults saying they would vote for him, according to the SWS January 2013 Pre-Election Survey, first published in BusinessWorld.

Jack Enrile, the only son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, was ranked eighth and ninth, getting 46 percent, while Nancy Binay, eldest daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay was No. 12, with 43 percent.

Grace Poe-Llamanzares, former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chief, broke into the list of probable winners for the first time in three SWS pre-election surveys, clinching the 10th to 11th place with 45 percent.

It was a huge leap from 13 percent in the previous survey, where Poe, an independent, placed 20th.

She is on the slate of the administration’s Team Pinoy, the new name of the alliance of the Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and other parties.

The rest of those in the Magic 12 were six reelectionist senators plus former Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri and former Las Pińas Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of outgoing Sen. Manny Villar.

1,200 respondents

The noncommissioned survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,200 respondents nationwide, who were made to choose from a list of 33 candidates.

The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.

Edged out from the winning list was former Sen. Richard Gordon (UNA, 36 percent), who took the 14th place—down from 12th place in the previous survey, where he garnered 37 percent.

Twelve candidates had a statistical chance of making it to the winning circle, with four candidates from UNA, two candidates each from the NP and the NPC, and one candidate each from Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and LP-NP.

Sen. Loren Legarda of the NPC still led the senatorial race.

The survey found 65 percent of adults said they would vote for Legarda, 3 percentage points down from 68 percent in the December survey, which she also topped.

Sen. Francis Escudero, an independent and also of Team Pinoy, retained his second place spot with 62 percent, up from 61 percent in the previous round of survey.

Occupying the third spot was Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (NP, 60 percent).

Sharing the fifth to sixth place were Sen. Gringo Honasan (UNA, 48 percent) and Sen. Koko Pimentel (PDP-Laban and Team Pinoy, 48 percent).

In seventh place was Zubiri (UNA, 47 percent), followed by Villar (NP) who was tied with Enrile Jr. (NPC) at eighth to ninth places with 46 percent.

Sharing the 10th to 11th place with Poe was Sen. Antonio Trillanes (LP-NP), who also garnered 45 percent, followed by Binay.

Aside from Gordon, those who barely made it to the list were Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara (LDP, 39 percent), Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (LP, 34 percent), former Sen. Ramon Magsasay Jr. (LP, 33 percent) and former Sen. Jamby Madrigal (LP, 28 percent). Angara is the son of outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara.


Among those who posted significant gains compared with the previous survey were Zubiri (formerly in ninth to 10th place with 41 percent), Honasan (formerly in eighth place with 43 percent) and Ejercito (formerly in fifth place with 49 percent).

Those who slipped in the rankings included Villar (formerly in fourth place with 51 percent), Enrile (formerly in sixth to seventh place with 46 percent) and Binay (formerly in ninth to 10th place with 41 percent). Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research and Gil C. Cabacungan

Sam Miguel
01-29-2013, 08:15 AM
Beware of ‘sipsipolitics,’ UNA tells Aquino

By Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:11 am | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Monday warned President Aquino against what it described as “pseudo reformists” among his allies who could undermine his reform programs, as it bucked moves to paint UNA as an enemy of the President’s anticorruption agenda.

UNA secretary general Tobias Tiangco protested the statement of Liberal Party member Ben Evardone who had accused UNA of straddling two horses by claiming to support the Aquino administration while attacking its programs.

UNA’s bets are going head to head with the candidates of the LP-led coalition Team Pinoy in the May 13 elections.

Tiangco said that if UNA were straddling two horses, then Evardone must be “straddling the carousel” because he had been quick to change political affiliations with every new President.

In a press briefing, Tiangco described UNA as a “constructive opposition” that would praise the administration for its commendable acts and criticize its misguided policies.

In contrast, the UNA official said, the likes of Evardone and other “former Arroyo loyalists” could be detrimental to the President’s moves to initiate reforms since they would tell the sitting President only what he wanted to hear.

Sucking up

Tiangco described the practice as “sipsipolitics,” or sucking up to those in power.

“In the end, the President’s reform agenda (would) suffer because of sipsipolitics. That is the price that (would) be exacted by the LP’s decision to open (its) doors to just about anyone willing to wear yellow and flash the ‘L’ sign,” Tiangco said.

He added that “pseudo-reformists” could spell the failure of the President’s reforms because nobody would point out the administration’s weaknesses and provide suggestions to improve its programs.

Beautiful road

The UNA official took exception to LP ads that have a line saying, “Sa daang matuwid, marami ang gustong sumali. Pero mayroon ding nagpapanggap lamang (Many want to join the straight and narrow path, but some are only pretending to be so).

UNA, he said, had never pretended to join the straight and narrow path, but instead had forged its own “beautiful road.”

“With daang maganda, our lives would be beautiful,” Tiangco said.

The UNA official also warned against attempts to sow intrigue between the President and UNA’s top man, Vice President Jejomar Binay, as there is no animosity between the two.

Meanwhile, UNA senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda said UNA’s common candidates with Team Pinoy should be dropped from its ranks if they favored the President’s group.

Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, and Grace Poe Llamanzares are running under both UNA and the Team Pinoy.

“For me, if they speak with the LP and don’t speak with us, then I think we’ll have to, in some form or another, drop our support,” Maceda said in a press briefing.

Their choice

He added that the three common candidates could opt to appear on stage at both UNA and LP events, or choose not to join either group during the campaign. A third option is to join only one party during its sorties.

The common candidates are welcome to join UNA whenever they are free, Tiangco said.

Sam Miguel
01-29-2013, 08:16 AM
Withdraw ‘prior approval’ resolution, Comelec urged

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

Inquirer Visayas

5:23 am | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

ILOILO CITY—Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casińo has called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to withdraw a resolution that requires the poll body’s “prior approval”ť before candidates in the May elections may be interviewed by broadcasters.

Casińo, a senatorial candidate under the Makabayan coalition, said Comelec Resolution No. 9615 promulgated on Jan. 15 was “impractical and an infringement on press freedom.”

“Under the law, the Comelec can only interfere and regulate the amount of paid political advertisements. It has no business in the news and other content of media outlets,” Casińo, a former president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, said.

The resolution titled “Rules and Regulations in Implementing Republic Act No. 9006, otherwise known as the fair election act,ť defines guidelines on political propaganda, political advertisements and media interviews with candidates.

Section 9 of the resolution states: “To determine whether the appearance or guesting in a program is bona fide, the broadcast stations or entities must show that: (1) prior approval of the Commission was secured…”

But Casińo said the Comelec had “no competence and is not in the proper position to tell media outlets what to put out or not” in news programs and commentaries.

“That is dangerous. If they interfere in editorial prerogative, they are bordering on interference on freedom of the press and right to information,”ť he said.

He said “prior notice”ť instead of approval was still an infringement or editorial interference.

“Do they really expect reporters to notify the Comelec first before interviewing an official, for example, who happens to be a candidate?”

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:05 AM

CBCP denounces political dynastiesBy Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:38 am | Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

For the first time in recent history, the country’s Roman Catholic bishops have come out with a pastoral statement denouncing political dynasties, powerful and influential families in the government and vowing to support any popular initiative to pass a law that would put an end to them.

In a statement, the 120-strong Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday said the spread of political dynasties was one of a “long litany of storms” facing the country amid violent natural disasters.

The Church hierarchy said it was offended that lawmakers themselves had defied the mandate of the Constitution to push for an enabling law that would ban such dynasties, which the CBCP stressed “breed corruption and ineptitude.”

“As monopolies in business, monopolies in politics limit the entry that can bring in new ideas and offer better services,” according to the pastoral statement titled “Proclaim the Message, In Season and Out of Season.”

The CBCP statement could not have been timelier, coming as it did two weeks before the official start of campaigning for the May 13 national elections, where senatorial and congressional seats and more than 17,000 provincial and municipal posts will be up for grabs.

Many candidates are either veteran politicians returning to protect or reclaim their posts or are members of families long entrenched in politics.

A recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that candidates considered part of political families were on the list of probable winners in the senatorial races.

178 dynasties

A tally by the nongovernment Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) puts down at 178 the number of “dominant political dynasties” in the Philippines, excluding those in local areas.

Of the total, 100—or 56 percent—dynasties are “old elites,” the rest being so-called “new elites” which emerged from the time of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Of the country’s 80 provinces, 94 percent have political dynasties, CenPEG said.

The CBCP statement also touched on other social issues, like the “deepening … culture of impunity,” extrajudicial killings, fear of “wholesale” cheating during the automated 2013 elections “and the unabated suffering of the poor.”

‘Not for family interests’

The CBCP president, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes and Manila Auxiliary Bishops Broderick Pabillo and Bernardino Cortez took turns in reading the statement at a press conference. The statement was crafted at this year’s first CBCP plenary assembly, which ended on Monday.

It was the first time in recent years for the Church hierarchy to address in a pastoral statement the issue of the growing number of political dynasties in the country.

It said: “Political authority exists for the common good. It is not to be exercised for the sake of private and family interests or simply for the interests of a political party.”

“When political authority is exercised merely for these narrow interests, it betrays the reason for its existence. Moreover, such situation breeds corruption and inhibits general access to political power, which is a fundamental mark of democracy,” the CBCP said.

“Therefore, we denounce the continued existence of family political dynasties and the continuing delay of passing a law to implement the constitutional provision banning political dynasties.”

People’s initiatives

The bishops said that if Congress was unwilling to act on the need for such a law, the Church would back the holding of peoples’ initiatives provided for in the Constitution that would push for an enabling law against political dynasties.

Talking with reporters, Palma said that since the May elections were fast approaching, passing a law against political dynasties might be too late. It will be up to the electorate to vote or not for members of dynasties, he said.

“We raised the issues so that the people will think about it,” Palma said. “What we also want to show is that we are one with them and we understand their longings, hopes and dreams,” he said.

For his part, Pabillo said that while the pastoral statement did not identify which candidates should not be elected in the upcoming balloting, it was clearly telling the people that political dynasties were wrong.

“We respect the dictate of the voters’ consciences so we are not telling them who they should vote for. We are just telling them that political dynasties are wrong and will not be of help to our country. It is for them to weigh these factors when they vote,” Pabilllo added.

Long overdue

A senatorial candidate on Tuesday said he would file a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to compel President Aquino to certify as urgent the passage of antidynasty bills pending in the legislature.

“The law on political dynasties is overdue,” lawyer Samson Alcantara of the Social Justice Society party said on the phone. “Congress has failed to pass such a law for more than 25 years. Not only the legislative but the executive branch should be compelled to work for the passage of the antidynasty bill,” he said.

On Monday, another independent senatorial candidate, businessman Ricardo Penson, filed a petition for mandamus to compel Congress to pass an enabling law that would give substance to Article II of the Constitution, which provides, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

Alcantara said he would file a petition for intervention so he could join Penson in the case.

Hoping for SC to reconsider

The high court early this month dismissed a petition seeking to compel the Commission on Elections to enforce the constitutional provision, ruling it was not self-executory and needed an enabling law.

Alcantara said he hoped that with the new composition of the court, the justices would reconsider an earlier ruling which established that the high tribunal may not force the legislature, a coequal branch of government, to do its job.

“I’m hoping that the justices will change their minds. The antidynasty provision has been rendered useless due to congressional inaction. Our legislators took an oath to uphold the Constitution. How can they do so if they refuse to enact the antidynasty law?” he said.

“The President also took the same oath. He can speed up the legislation through his power to certify the antidynasty bill as urgent,” Alcantara said. With reports from Jerome Aning and Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:06 AM
^^^ Sana lang pati mga pro-RH na politiko idenunsiyo at ikondena din ng Simbahan.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 09:23 AM
Comelec sets hearing on TV networks’ complaint vs airtime rule

By Matikas Santos


3:23 pm | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has set a public hearing Thursday to tackle the motion for reconsideration filed by media networks questioning certain campaign rules for the May 2013 automated elections.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told reporters Tuesday that they will hear the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas’ (KBP) motion, as well as that of GMA Network, regarding Comelec’s previous resolutions on campaign rules such as the need for prior approval from the Comelec before appearing as guest on television programs.

“They are raising questions relating to [resolution no.] 9616 and [resolution no.] 9515 about fair elections act and about the rules and regulation implementing campaign finance rules,” Sarmiento said.

“They are raising why [there is a] need for prior approval or prior consent from the Comelec before appearances and guestings in TV shows and radio shows. For them this is a constitutional issue and [that] it violates the constitutional rights of the candidates,” he said.

The 120-minute airtime limit for television and 180-minute limit for radio will also be discussed since media networks have found it “too restrictive,” Sarmiento said.

Comelec decided that the airtime limit would be counted as an aggregate of all minutes a candidate has had regardless of the television or radio station instead of the previous “per station” basis.

“The issues being raised [regarding the airtime limit] is that it is too restrictive, too short a time for candidates to inform and present themselves before the public,” Sarmiento said.

The monitoring mechanism of Comelec will also be discussed to determine if it was prepared to monitor all the campaign propaganda as election draws near. “Is Comelec prepared to monitor [or] is it biting a cake that is too much to chew?” Sarmiento said referring to what will be discussed in the hearing.

The hearing will be open to the public and especially to the media. “Invited to participate in the hearing are members of the KBP, media networks, and other interested parties,” Sarmiento said.

“We are open to suggestions, comments, and reactions,” he said. The fact that Comelec amended their rule regarding prior approval and making it prior consent instead “is a sign that Comelec is open,” Sarmiento added.

“Prior consent approval provision has been amended, making it clear so that it means prior notice,” Sarmiento said. With regards to spot interviews where Comelec cannot be told in advance, he said that “so long as we are informed after the interview or the guesting, then to us that would suffice.”

He said that the airtime limitation had previously gone back and forth between “per station” and “aggregate” which means Comelec has not been consistent.

“Comelec was not consistent on airtime limitation, there was a time it was collective or aggregate, there were times it was … per station, [so] I think depending on arguments that will be raised this coming Thursday, we might go back to the per station,” Sarmiento said.

“If you look at the resolution there is this principle of equal opportunity for all candidates, so [the other commissioners are] saying this is the best formula consistent with that provision in the constitution and the law,” Sarmiento said.

“But again we also have to be pragmatic and realistic that this is not enough for many candidates, so we set it for hearing so there is openness on the part of the Comelec,” he added.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 10:22 AM
CBCP will support initiatives to choose 'worthy candidates'

GMA News Online

After listing the Philippines' "problems as a nation," the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said it will support lay initiatives to form "circles of discernment to choose worthy candidates" in the midterm elections in May. "We will help the people to know the stance of those who run for office on important issues of the country," it said. The quotes are part of a pastoral statement it issued after a three-day plenary session in which the CBCP enumerated—and blasted—the country's "long litany of storms," including the government's inability to stop a "culture of impunity" that allows extrajudicial killings; its failure to ease the suffering of the poor despite good economic news; and "the promotion of a culture of death and promiscuity" through school sex education, the use of contraceptives and discussions about divorce. "We note the above social and political storms that buffet our Filipino life because they deeply touch the experiences of our people. We speak for those who suffer. We bring these concerns to those who have responsibility and hence accountability. These stormy situations need not be so!" the CBCP said in the statement signed by council president and Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma.

RH law denounced anew

The CBCP denounced anew the passage of the Reproductive Health Law, and what it claimed were the "political and financial pressures imposed on lawmakers" as well as the "imperialism exercised by secularistic international organizations in the legislative process." It commended the efforts of lay people and lawgivers who tried to prevent the passage of the law. "We support the efforts of our lay people in challenging the RH Law in the Supreme Court and in other venues within the bounds of our democratic system," it added. Also, it said it supports and encourages the participation of the laity in electing "competent and morally upright candidates who are faithful to their correct and informed conscience." It will also promote natural family planning methods, including encouraging the young to "live chastely."

FOI bill

The CBCP called anew for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, which it said "promotes integrity, transparency, and accountability in the political order." It also denounced the non-prosecution of alleged perpetrators of corruption, strongly calling on the government to pursue allegations and signs of corruption of power holders "not only of the past but also of the present, even of friends and party mates." "We likewise call upon government to give due priority to the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill at the soonest possible time," it added.

Political dynasties

The CBCP also denounced the continued existence of political dynasties and the "continuing delay" of passing a law to implement the Constitutional provision banning political dynasties. It likewise called on the Commission on Elections to address the deficiencies of the automated election system. "There can be no transparency in elections if the COMELEC itself is not transparent," it said. "If Congress is unwilling to act on this we support initiatives by the lay faithful to pass an enabling law against political dynasties through the people’s initiative which the Constitution provides," it added.

Measures for the poor

While it vowed to provide moral guidance to society to be in active solidarity with the poor, the CBCP called on the government to be serious in implementing the asset reform laws that are in place to bring social justice. It cited CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms) for the farmers, UDHA for the urban poor, IPRA for the indigenous people and the Fisheries Code for the fisher folks. It noted that the end of CARPER is only 1.5 years away, yet agrarian reform accomplishment is "dismal," being bogged down "by bureaucracy, legal technicalities and poor governance."

Peace initiatives

The CBCP, meanwhile voiced support for steps taken by the government in pursuing peace. "It is our hope that these peace initiatives will be matched by equally bold steps to bring about justice, for peace is the fruit of justice," it said. — BM, GMA News

Sam Miguel
01-31-2013, 07:58 AM
Garcia locked out after sneaking out

By Jhunnex Napallacan

Inquirer Visayas

12:20 am | Thursday, January 31st, 2013

CEBU CITY—Gov. Gwen Garcia thought she could sneak out from the governor’s office in the Capitol, where she had been holed up for over a month in defiance of a suspension order from Malacańang.

She did, but only to discover 16 hours later that the office had been padlocked.

“No one is allowed inside the premises, except upon further orders. For strict compliance,” acting Gov. Agnes Magpale said in a one-page memorandum.

Garcia was in Oslob town, 117 kilometers south of Cebu, to inaugurate the briefing center of the Oslob Whale Watching program in Barangay (village) Tan-awan when she learned that her office had been padlocked, on orders of Magpale, by provincial administrator Eduardo Habin.

The Office of the President, upon the recommendation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, has ordered Garcia’s relief for grave abuse of authority for usurping the powers of the vice governor.

Power cutoff

The governor, however, has refused to leave since Dec. 19 last year and even dared the police to forcibly remove her. Her removal could only happen “over my dead body,” Garcia had said.

Habin, who was escorted by policemen, closed down the office past 2 p.m. during her absence. In less than two hours, the power supply was cut off and the entrance was cordoned off with a police yellow line.

Bess Francia, Garcia’s secretary, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that she and 10 other employees, as well as two lawyers, were still inside the office when the policemen came.

“Once we go outside, we cannot go back. There is a horde of policemen preventing us from coming back,” Francia said.

They would remain inside the office because they believe that the police and Magpale were “stepping on their rights” as provincial employees and citizens, she said.

However, at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the police told them to leave, and they did without any resistance.

Oslob trip

Sources told the Inquirer that Garcia sneaked out of her office at about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, her face covered as she boarded the vehicle of her brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s third district.

The governor slept in her house in the city before she left for Oslob on Wednesday morning for the inauguration of the briefing center, the sources said.

On Jan. 20, Garcia left her office to dance in the Sinulog Grand Parade at the Cebu City Sports Center grandstand. She went back later and stayed in her office until Tuesday night.

During a news conference in Oslob, Garcia told reporters that she would go back to her office after her visit to the town.

“Of course, … that’s still the office of the governor and I am the duly elected governor. No overacting governor can ever take that away. The people elected me as governor. The office of the governor stands,” she said.

Her mood, however, changed when a reporter informed her that her office had already been padlocked by Magpale. It took her three seconds before she could reply.

She asked her brother, Byron, to verify the report. But later, she said it would be up to the Cebuanos to judge Magpale for her actions.

Political plans

Magpale is running for vice governor under the Liberal Party, with Hilario Davide III as standard-bearer.

Garcia will switch places with Pablo John who is running for governor under One Cebu. She will seek the congressional seat in the third district.

Garcia condemned Magpale’s closure order move and warned that she would file charges if any of her personal belongings left in the office is lost.

“I would just wish to remind Magpale that I still have personal effects inside the office. As you have seen, there are furniture, paintings and others. We have an inventory of these things and have taken footages. Since they have the key (to the padlock), they will be facing robbery charges (if these are lost),” she added.

Magpale told reporters that she had been tolerating Garcia’s presence in the Capitol for over a month.

The governor’s move to slip out was a mockery of the President’s order, Magpale said over TV5.

She said Garcia’s supporters were also staying at the Capitol’s offices and used these as sleeping quarters and for doing their laundry.

Hungry for power?

Pablo John condemned Magpale’s action, saying this only showed her “hunger for power.”

He recalled that the vice governor claimed that services in the Capitol were not disrupted and that President Aquino himself remarked during his visit here that there was no standoff.

“If the operation in the Capitol is normal, if there are no disruptions, if there is no standoff, why was it necessary to padlock the governor’s office,” he asked. “(It is because) she (Magpale) is greedy for power. She even wanted to be called governor, not only ‘acting’ (governor).”

Pablo John said his sister would never step down from office.

“The governor just stepped out of the governor’s office, but she is never stepping down as governor,” he said. With a report from Ador Mayol, Inquirer Visayas

Sam Miguel
02-01-2013, 08:04 AM
UNA: We are a true friend to Aquino

By Cathy Yamsuan, Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:17 am | Friday, February 1st, 2013

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Thursday maintained it was a “constructive opposition” ready to support President Aquino despite party lines, as it blasted his spokesperson for accusing the coalition of “confusing the public” with its stance toward the ruling party’s leader.

In a statement, UNA candidates and officials said they were being “more of a true friend” to the President as they were capable of pointing out mistakes made by the administration instead of sugarcoating them.

“We are the new opposition—an opposition who will be supportive of matters which the President is undertaking and we will help when he needs our suggestions. But we will not stop exposing, telling the people about wrongs that are happening,” said Vice President Jejomar Binay.

His daughter Nancy, among UNA’s senatorial candidates, added: “UNA is like a true friend to P-Noy (Pres. Aquino). We can tell him when there’s something wrong.”

Malacańang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda had said Wednesday that UNA was “confusing” the public by maintaining its support for President Aquino despite being an opposition party.

He said UNA was just riding on Mr. Aquino’s popularity because going against the President could “diminish their chances of getting elected.”

UNA is a coalition between ousted President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino and Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. The two are joined in a leadership triumvirate by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“The position mouthed by Secretary Lacierda is of one who has a very narrow mind and not mature enough to accept constructive criticism. We are here to make President Aquino succeed by honing his administration to be the best that it could be,” said Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, another UNA senatorial candidate.

Obstructive opposition

“UNA is not an obstructive opposition group. We are here to provide the necessary checks and balances needed for democracy to thrive in this country,” she added.

And unless Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas’s allies speak with one voice, Binay would not be convinced he is running for president in 2016.

Not that it matters at this point, Binay said.

“Everybody has a right to be a candidate,” he told reporters on the sidelines of yesterday’s opening meeting of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Gopac).

Binay admitted he was surprised by the sudden disclosure of Sen. Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the Liberal Party’s senatorial candidates, that Roxas would be the party’s presidential candidate in 2016.

Roxas said he did not expect Drilon to make the statement. Drilon said he was only answering a question of a talk show host about the LP’s future plans.

‘Lame duck’

Binay also denied Drilon’s allegation that UNA was out to make Mr. Aquino a “lame duck” president.

Binay said UNA remained supportive of Aquino’s “daang matuwid” and reform agenda.

“How can he be a lame duck when we support him,” the Vice President said in Filipino.

Binay said some quarters were just trying to create a wedge between Mr. Aquino and himself.

“They are sowing intrigue between the President and myself. I don’t know what their purpose is. There is no intrigue between us,” he added, also in Filipino.

Aquino had told reporters who accompanied him to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he did not have any “issues” with Binay.

Popularity boost

Binay also downplayed administration claims UNA was taking advantage of the President’s popularity to boost the chances of its senatorial candidates in the coming elections.

“In the first place, we also rank high in the surveys, especially if you take the surveys of all three of us leaders of UNA—Binay, Enrile and Estrada—together,” the Vice President said.

Meanwhile, UNA’s senatorial candidates will have not just one but two proclamation rallies in the face of the major campaign offensive launched by Team Pinoy of the LP, Nacionalista Party, Akbayan, Nationalist People’s Coalition and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino coalition led by President Aquino.

Aside from a big Cebu kickoff rally on Feb. 12, UNA will stage another massive rally in Tondo, Manila, the bailiwick of Estrada. With a report from Christian V. Esguerra

Sam Miguel
02-01-2013, 08:04 AM
Political ad spending to hit P2B; GMA 7, ABS-CBN to get bulk

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:12 am | Friday, February 1st, 2013

Political ad spending is expected to hit P2 billion in this year’s midterm elections, with television networks hoping to continue to corner the bulk of the campaign pesos despite moves by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to curb politicians’ commercials on the boob tube.

In a January 29 report by Deutsche Bank AG/Hong Kong on Philippine media companies, the projected P2 billion political ad spending this year is 66 percent higher than the P1.2 billion politicians spent during midterm elections in 2007.

Elections have become a massive source of income for broadcast companies every three years—political ads are expected to account for 5.2 percent of the P35 billion total ads this year compared to 4.8 percent of the P25 billion total ads spent in 2007.

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and GMA Network Inc. roughly have a 60-40 share of political ad revenues in broadcasting, although GMA has more profits than ABS-CBN (P2.971 billion to P2.5976 billion).

In comparison, political ads soared to P5 billion in the 2010 presidential elections, or 14.6 percent of the P35 billion total ad spending in the same year.

“Being the main advertising medium, we believe free-to-air TV is likely to get a lion’s share of election-related ads, as seen in the industry during the last presidential election in 2010,” Deutsche Bank analyst Carissa Mangubat said.

Mangubat said she expected ABS-CBN and GMA to post double-digit growth of 11.6 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, this year largely due to the triennial boost in political ad spending even with the Comelec’s move to impose a 120-minute cap on political ads for every candidate on all channels, harsher than the 120-minute limit for every candidate on each channel in 2010.

Mangubat said that since both networks had already maxed out on their ad loads (18 to 20 minutes per hour compared to the average 12 minutes per hour in Indonesia ), profits would come from premium priced ads such as ads endorsing candidates.

“Political ad rates are also regulated and are effectively priced at a 25 percent to 30 percent premium versus regular ad rates because rates are pegged directly to the published rate card. This could mean immediate margin enhancement for ABS-CBN and GMA,” Mangubat said.

Based on its forecasts, political ad spending would add 5 percentage points to 6 percentage points in revenue growth and 3 percentage points to 4 percentage points increase in profit margins.

But political experts are divided on who are the winners and losers in the Comelec’s move to restrict political ad spending this year.

Leveling playing field

Sen. Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the Aquino administration’s Team Pinoy, does not see any winners or losers from the ad restrictions.

“To me, it is just to level the playing field between rich and poor candidates, which is the purpose of the law,” Drilon said yesterday.

Sen. Francis Escudero agreed, but said he reckoned that the ad limits would be a hard blow to the networks.

“There are five to eight candidates who can spend more than the 120-minute limit on all channels under the new Comelec guidelines,” Escudero said.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III said newspapers and tabloids could benefit from the ad limits on broadcast media.

“Some candidates might divert part of the budget for TV and radio to one-fourth page ads in newspapers or one-half page ads in tabloids,” Sotto said.

The new Comelec rules limit print ads to a maximum of three times a week for every publication.

“It’s not only cheaper than the P500,000 per 30-second spot on TV, which is literally gone in a blink of an eye, but print advertising offers more substance and more time for voters to review the qualifications of the candidates,” Sotto said.

“There will be no shift from one channel to another, money will move across different media,” he said.

Sotto said one of the biggest losers in the campaign reforms were the bus companies after the Comelec banned ads on their fleet and terminals during the campaign period. “Bus ads are one of the most cost efficient campaign tools. It helped me win in 2010,” said Sotto.

No ads on buses

The Comelec prohibits political ads on buses and bus terminals during the campaign from February 12 to May 11.

The Comelec said any infringement of the rule would be “cause for the revocation of the public utility franchise and will make the owner and or operator of the transportation service and or terminal liable for an election offense under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 9006.”

An official of one of the biggest bus companies operating in Metro Manila said the decision would be a big blow to the industry, which was hoping to cash in on the multibillion-peso election spending that would have generated P10,000 a month for ads on the rear of buses.

Inquirer research showed that as of December last year, there were 8,077 bus franchises registered nationwide with a combined fleet of 26,483 buses.

In Metro Manila there were 391 franchises that ran 5,342 buses.

The bus company official said most operators expected to generate at least P100 million in monthly income from political ads during the campaign.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said political ads in the guise of commercial ads—candidate endorsing products or pushing for advocacies of their parties—would not be allowed during campaign.

Brillantes has also indicated he wants the spending limit of candidates to P3 for every voter strictly enforced.

Sam Miguel
02-01-2013, 08:05 AM
LTFRB: Buses with election ads to lose permits

By Gil C. Cabacungan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:43 am | Friday, February 1st, 2013

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will revoke the franchises of provincial and Metro Manila bus companies that would violate the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ban on campaign ads on buses and terminals during the campaign period.

LTFRB Chairman James Jacob said bus companies would face penalties for having election campaign ads on their buses. He said the LTFRB would also cancel the franchises of repeat offenders.

“The only problem we have is that the definition of what campaign ads are is not complete,” Jacob said in an interview. “It would be easier for us if the Comelec had a clear definition.”

An official of a big Metro Manila bus company said the LTFRB had informed bus owners nationwide about the Comelec ban which would be strictly implemented.

“I believe the LTFRB is serious about this order and some bus companies are already cleaning up their buses and terminals. We can’t be too careful because our franchises are at stake,” said the company official who asked not to be named lest he incur the ire of the agency.

Comelec resolution

Comelec Resolution No. 9615 signed on Jan. 15 includes buses and their terminals among the public areas where campaign materials may not be posted during the official campaign period from Feb. 12 to May 11.

The Comelec said infringement of the rule would be “cause for the revocation of a public utility’s franchise and would make the operator liable for an election offense under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 9006.”

The bus company official said the decision would be a big blow to the transportation industry that was hoping to cash in on the multibillion-peso election-spending bonanza, where an ad on the back of a bus would bring in about P10,000 per month.

Inquirer research showed that as of the end of 2012, there were 8,077 bus franchises registered nationwide with a combined fleet of 26,483 units. In Metro Manila there were 391 franchises with a total of 5,342 units.

The bus company official said most operators hoped to generate at least P100 million a month from political ads during the campaign period.

The “commercial ads” of a number of senatorial candidates have been a common sight on buses since a year before next May’s elections.

Product endorsements

But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. has stressed that political ads in the guise of commercial ads—where a senatorial candidate endorses a product or pushes his or her advocacies—would not be allowed during the three-month campaign period.

Aside from buses and public transport terminals, the Comelec has also cracked down on excessive advertising on television and radio, print media and websites.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 9615, which provided the rules and regulations implementing the Fair Election Act, all prohibited forms of election propaganda shall be removed by the responsible candidate or party or they will be presumed to have committed an election offense.

According to the resolution, illegal forms of propaganda include names, images, logos, brands, insignias, color motifs, initials and other forms of identifiable graphical representation placed by the candidates on public structures or places. With reports from Paolo Montecillo and Jocelyn Uy

Sam Miguel
02-01-2013, 08:44 AM
Anti-dynasty or anti-democracy?

By Jose Ma. Montelibano


9:12 pm | Thursday, January 31st, 2013

I am not sure who started what, whether political dynasties co-opted Church leaders or Church dynasties nurtured political dynasties. I guess that the history of societies would give us the final clue on who began dynasties – the agents of God or the agents of the State.

Religious rivalries have often brought out different claims from the various competitors about which one organized itself ahead of the others, which holy book could be dated the oldest, and which is the most wise, or at least accurate. This kind of rivalry seems to indicate that dynastic tendencies appear first in the religious realm rather than the political. Tracing oneself to the oldest is not enough if there are broken threads in the leadership of that religion. Each competing religion would have to point to a continuity of leadership as that leadership has been the continuing representation of the divine.

Political systems, on the other hand, do not even try to trace their beginnings to the oldest. There is no point in doing so because the older forms of governance, or political control, would invariably be found in raw and superior force, in victory by violent means. Political systems would rather identify themselves either to great personalities or the most beneficial form of governance in the current times. Those who have little or no connection to the finer or the higher would usually find an Alpha male as the commander-in-chief, the winner of an enduring survival-of-the-fittest culture.

The most operative, or desired, term of political systems appears to be “democracy.” Even among the governments that are clearly to the right, or still lean on central authority, is the tendency to call themselves “democratic.” Most governments would like to present themselves as democratic because it means that they are their people’s choice. It is secondary that they might have grabbed power by force, or keep control that way. There are many dictatorships out there who call themselves a democracy.

Democracy – of the people. Dynasty – of the leadership. Yes, there is a natural opposition between the two attitudes and systems. Democracy in its purest would demand that the people decide, a bottom up process of authority. Dynasty, on the other hand, respects less a people’s choice and holds on to the principle of anointment – a top down process.

That the Catholic Church finally calls for an end to dynasties, and for the Leftist groups led by Bayan Muna praises the move, is nothing short of comic. The least democratic in the sense that their leaders, that of the Catholic Church and the Left, have little or no reference to popular elections but depend on the anointment of the highest leadership cannot be credible spokesperson for any anti-dynasty advocacy. It used to be that the same Church allowed itself to be represented by Jaime Cardinal Sin in the heady days of Edsa People Power, a representation that was considered great not so much because of democratic principles but by the force of personality. And the main Leftist force has a history of purges, of killing those who sounded and behaved less than obedient.

Democracy and dynasty have contrasting and often conflicting energies, the former encouraging the greater number to reach a majority choice which becomes official policy, and the latter trying to implement an efficient compliance from that same majority. It does not necessarily mean that democracies are better governments in terms of efficiency and accomplishment, but it means at all times that the principles of democracy look to the people as the root source of authority.

The choice of the Filipinos is democracy. There is a more fundamental insistence on freedom, but that freedom is often understood as democracy. For that freedom, Filipinos have fought Spain, America and Japan. For that freedom, Filipino rose against the Marcos dictatorship. And for keeping that freedom in the hands of democracy, Corazon Aquino became the most beloved of presidents and awarded the Mother of Democracy title.

There is no such freedom and democracy is theocracy, in communism. It does not make theocracy and communism wrong, or less effective. When these have great leaders, historical highlights are achieved. In human history, the most significant moments have been connected to the character and courage of great leaders who were not democratic. It is not my intent to pass judgment on what is superior though I prefer one over the other. What I want to do is point out the difference, and to point out that the Catholic Church and the Left should be the last institutions to talk against the very system which nourishes them.

The bane of Philippine democracy in trying to dismantle what many of its advocates believe to be political dynasties is that there is no democratic process than can do this in the time frame that they insist. Perhaps, it is because the supposed dynasties being criticized for being so are not real dynasties, just wannabee dynasties. Philippine democracy by intent and by form does contain safeguards against real dynasties – and that is called democratic elections. That is also why those who cheat and steal elections are tyrants and guilty of the highest treason. It is that very act which subverts democracy the worst, not a few political families who keep winning elections for a few generations.

Only honest elections with voters choosing wisely can bring in leaders and public officials who will do well by the people and be appreciated as such. Families with members winning popular elections are not dynasties, and the proof of this is simple history and current events. While there are some who survive up to the third generation, there are more who do not – by simple democratic elections.

The most serious challenge of proponents of an anti-dynasty law is to is how to do it without being anti-democracy. The principle of equal rights cannot be shoved aside because some towns or cities or provinces cannot find enough voters who will keep changing leaders by virtue of their family names.

But, then, why should they? What is the difference between voting in, and voting out, candidates on the basis of their family names? For a democracy, that becomes the height of stupidity.

Sam Miguel
02-01-2013, 09:07 AM
Why Trillanes is a dangerous leader


By William M. Esposo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 31, 2013 - 12:00am

If there’s a senator who’s up for reelection this year that we should be scrutinizing very carefully *— it has to be Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. His latest instigation — a senate coup against Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) — just exploded in this plotter’s face last January 21.

Determined to demonstrate his support base and stop the whispers of intrigue attributed to Trillanes, JPE grabbed the initiative and forced the issue. He delivered a valedictory last January 21 and vacated the position of Senate President. As expected, the majority of the senators, including those of the Liberal Party, supported JPE.

In his speech JPE said: “One Senator is so desperate that he has repeatedly and shamelessly invoked and sought Malacańang’s involvement and intervention just to get enough support to oust me. He continues to make a mockery of the Senate as an independent institution.” JPE was referring to Trillanes who has been announcing the “Palace-backed” coup to media.

JPE knows that Trillanes doesn’t have the support of Malacańang. This was confirmed to me by sources that are high up in the Palace totem pole two weeks ago. JPE would have been reckless to vacate his position without first ascertaining if he still has the support of the majority. There was no real drama to be found in JPE’s speech. The outcome was already ascertained. The drama was not in the speech but in the rigmarole to embarrass the loose cannon in the senate.

The wise man would have made a retrograde maneuver after being exposed and shamed by the old and wily Senate President. Trillanes did the opposite. He then revealed to media that JPE would be ousted by February, again invoking the “forthcoming” support of the four Liberal Party senators — senators Frank Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan, TJ Guingona and Ralph Recto. Typical of the troublemaker — Trillanes even put on the spot Drilon and Senator Manny Villar as the possible replacements to JPE.

This pronouncement of another senate coup in February placed both the senate majority and the executive in an awkward position. Why does Trillanes not realize this? It’s unbelievable for him not to know that all these pronouncements of his about getting the support of the Palace have no basis. The executive has so many important matters to transact with the senate majority and will not jeopardize this for the whims of the loose cannon in the senate. Trillanes doesn’t realize that in this equation in the senate, he has been behaving like a bull in a china shop, recklessly jeopardizing the objectives of the President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) administration.

P-Noy almost got his fingers burned when the backchannel role of Trillanes in dealing with China was revealed. Trust me, P-Noy will not give the loose cannon a second chance to burn his hands. P-Noy, as my friend Raissa Robles had noted, is a very calculating power player. Raissa likened P-Noy’s style of attaining his objectives to that of a billiard player who sets up his sequence of shots. A calculating power player like P-Noy would not want to employ loose cannons in his organization.

These actuations of Trillanes are consistent with his three other mega blunders, two of which could have caused serious internal strife in our country. These three mega blunders were the Oakwood Mutiny, the Manila Peninsula siege and the tragic suicide of General Angie Reyes after having been verbally abused and shamed by Trillanes in a senate hearing. Not too long ago, the loose cannon said a mouthful about his role as backchannel to China.

What strikes me about Trillanes as a sign of a dangerous man in power is his track record of employing a strategy that’s the opposite of what a great soldier and general ‑ Douglas MacArthur ‑ would prescribe. According to MacArthur, a good general will not try to win with bravado what he can attain with strategy. The charge of the British Light Brigade in the Crimean War was a blunder owed to reliance on bravado.

Trillanes was all-bravado in Oakwood, in the Manila Peninsula siege and in this latest senate coup attempt. He didn’t have the means to attain his objective but relied on bravado to do the job for him. If he’s our president at this time, he might even attack China. People in the power game who display this bravado syndrome tend to lead their flock to tragic misadventures that cause many deaths and inflict extensive misery. Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler were of this mold, although in the case of Napoleon — he exhibited strategic brilliance in the battlefield, Austerlitz most notably.

George Bernard Shaw wrote that: “The masses will follow anything that moves.” This was shown in the rise to power of Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. In both cases, there was turmoil and the masses were confused. Emerging like the proverbial white knight on horseback, Napoleon and Hitler grabbed power and ruled as autocrats. Ruin and many deaths marked their downfalls.

Trillanes had demonstrated in Oakwood, the Manila Peninsula siege and the latest senate coup attempt that when he gets fixated to a certain objective, he then loses sight of the cost equation.

02-02-2013, 09:56 AM
Dynastic hubris

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:50 pm | Friday, February 1st, 2013

The election season is turning out to be an unprecedented showcase of dynastic hubris, with members of historically well-entrenched political families indicating their intent to seek important posts with hardly any or a minimum of qualifications and track record of public service, or any record, for that matter, of competence and vision.

The pervasiveness of political dynasties is something that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has noted in its latest pastoral letter, which says that as in business, there are “monopolies in politics” that “breed corruption and ineptitude” and “limit the entry [of other players] that can bring in new ideas and offer better services.” The bishops included political dynasties among “a litany of storms” that faces the country.

Indeed, the list of national candidates read like a who’s who of leading clans who have made political offices their family demesne. Check a few out: JV Ejercito, Jack Enrile, Nancy Binay, Juan Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Juan Miguel Zubiri.

A study by the nongovernment Center for People Empowerment in Governance says there are at least 178 “dominant political dynasties” in the Philippines; these do not include local political clans. Of the total, 100 dynasties—or 56 percent—are “old elites,” the rest being “new elites” that have emerged since the 1986 Edsa uprising that toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Of the Philippines’ 80 provinces, 94 percent have political dynasties, the study said.

Businessman Louis Biraogo had filed a petition with the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections to prohibit members of political dynasties from running in the May polls. But the tribunal turned it down, saying the constitutional ban on dynasties is not self-executing and must have an enabling law passed by Congress. But Congress itself is dominated by political clans.

Even the family of President Aquino is not immune from this malady. The President is ostensibly not encouraging the senatorial ambition of his aunt, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, whose earlier desire to become governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was scuttled when he had the election there reset; yet he has not discouraged a similar aspiration of his cousin, Bam Aquino, and in fact included the latter in the administration’s Senate slate.

Unlike Cojuangco, who has at least served as governor of Tarlac and has two master’s degrees and a doctorate in history, Bam Aquino’s credentials are sorely wanting: Even his uncle Ninoy had a fairer estimation of himself when he chose to start his political career as mayor of lowly Concepcion town in Tarlac.

The young Aquino’s only background in public administration is having been chair of the National Youth Commission, one of those populist agencies under the Office of the President that was obviously appended to the bloated bureaucracy in order to show the government’s token concern for the youth sector. Now he wants to be catapulted to one of the highest offices in the land on the sheer strength of his family name and using the administration coalition machinery, which almost surely will be a beneficiary of indirect government funding. And he has the blessing of his cousin, the President. Blood is truly thicker than statesmanship.

Let’s not even begin to discuss the Binays, Enriles, and Estradas, or the local political clans notorious for their lock on their claimed turf.

Unchecked political dynasties are a bane to nation-building for they perpetuate feudalism. They are also a symptom of Philippine underdevelopment. Many of these political families come from backward and very poor regions and provinces, which heavily depend on the central government for their sustenance. Political clans generally make themselves channels for Manila’s beneficence and try to score kickbacks from public works and other projects along the way. In short, they make a family business out of dynastic politics. Ensured of funding support from Manila, they neglect programs to foster commerce and development in their territories, a task that requires vision, competence, and ethics, which they sorely lack.

It has been said in their defense that while they carry old names, many of the candidates are new faces who will inject young blood in the old body politic. But that apologia has been said before of today’s old fogeys back when they were running as young Turks: New politics is nothing but a mask for the old rotten system.

02-03-2013, 05:01 PM
Bishop accuses Comelec of ‘stonewalling’ on PCOS

By Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:09 am | Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

A Catholic bishop on Saturday accused the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of repeatedly “stonewalling” when questions are raised about the integrity of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the May 2013 automated elections.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo cited in particular the warnings from the election watchdog Automated Election System (AES) Watch that “wholesale cheating” could occur with the use of the PCOS machines.

AES Watch and Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. gave a briefing for the bishops in a plenary session last month but Pabillo said the Comelec chief left them with more questions than answers.

According to the bishop, even with the elections now being completely automated, he has received information that so-called “election operators” were asking for P20 million to “fix” a provincial gubernatorial race and P70 million for a mayoralty race in Metro Manila.

He said he had reiterated to Brillantes and Comelec officials the Church position that the poll body should look into the PCOS machines, which they claimed had many problems.

“[But the Comelec] believes that everything is OK. That is stonewalling. They’re saying, ‘We did no wrong and just take our word for it.’ Instead of taking seriously and looking into these concerns, they’re downplaying it,” said Pabillo, who heads the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Unanswered questions

He said Brillantes had assured the bishops that there would be elections in May and had downplayed the bishops’ questions about the digital signatures, alleged cheating in the 2010 elections and the disagreement between Smartmatic and Dominion.

“We said, ‘Won’t there be a problem if you use pirated software. What will happen with the source code review?’ He did not answer that,” Pabillo said.

“We mentioned the glitches during the last elections. Why is it that no one was held accountable? Why is it that no one was punished?” he added.

He said these issues that were raised by AES Watch showed the bishops that there was a “serious problem” with the automated election system.

The Comelec had designated SLI Global, a US-based company that conducts voting systems certification testing, to review the source code, or the set of computer instructions for the automated voting program.

SLI Global’s certification could not be released, however, after Smartmatic, the supplier of the PCOS machines, had a falling out with its corporate partner, Dominion Voting System, whose approval was needed for the code to be released.

“The bishops saw that there is a serious problem, that wholesale cheating could occur,” Pabillo said.

The bishop suggested that the Comelec revert to a “manual system” of voting and counting votes at the precinct level. But he said the transmission of the results to the canvassing centers should be automated.

Pabillo said the government may be closing out the questions being raised about the integrity of the PCOS machines because “many [politicians] who are with the [ruling] Liberal Party might be affected.”

While admitting that he had no evidence, the bishop said he had received reports that “political operators” were already approaching candidates and offering to help them win their way to public office.

02-03-2013, 05:10 PM
Checking the checkpoints

By Artemio V. Panganiban

8:33 pm | Saturday, January 26th, 2013

To implement effectively the gun ban during the election period, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) authorized the military and the police to set up “at least one” checkpoint in each city/municipality to conduct a “warrantless search” of passing vehicles.

Plain view search. Wisely, the Comelec restricted the check to a “plain view search,” meaning that the “inspection of the vehicle is limited to a visual search,” and “its occupant/s [are not] subjected to body search.”

Thus, glove compartments and trunks shall not be opened and passengers shall not be arrested or frisked, “unless the officer conducting the search has reasonable and probable cause to believe that either the occupant/s [are] law offender[s] or that the instrumentality or evidence pertaining to the commission of [a] crime can be found in the vehicle to be searched.”

Our Supreme Court has allowed with some liberality the warrantless search of moving vehicles. Unlike buildings and dwellings, vehicles can speed away, giving police officers no time to secure court warrants. Thus, constitutional rights need to be balanced with the pressing necessity to promote public safety.

With that caveat, let me review the general subject of (1) warrantless arrests and (2) warrantless searches to show how our constitutional rights are safeguarded.

Warrantless arrests. As a general rule, no one may be arrested without a warrant issued by a competent court. However, there are several exceptions. The first is an arrest in flagrante delicto, that is, a peace officer or even a private person may, without obtaining a warrant, arrest a person who at the very moment of apprehension is committing, or is attempting to commit, or has just committed an offense in the presence of the arresting officer.

Here, two elements must concur: (a) the arrestee executes an overt act indicating that he/she has just committed, or is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (b) such overt act is done in the presence of or within the view of the arresting officer.

It is not enough that the suspect exhibits unusual or strange acts or simply appears suspicious. Thus, “moving very fast and looking at every approaching person” (Malacat vs Court of Appeals, Dec. 12, 1997) or “having darting eyes” at the same time “holding on one’s stomach” (People vs Mengote, June 22, 1992) cannot justify a warrantless arrest.

The second exception is “hot pursuit arrests,” that is, when an offense has just been committed and the arresting person has “probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.”

It is essential that prior to the warrantless arrest: (a) an offense has in fact been committed, and (b) the arresting officer has personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the suspect committed it. Mere intelligence information is not enough. While law enforcers may not have witnessed the commission of the offense, they must have direct knowledge of the crime right after its commission. If the information about the offense came entirely from a third person, the arresting officer cannot claim personal knowledge.

However, in continuing offenses like rebellion or sedition, a warrantless arrest is valid even if the suspect was not committing any overt criminal act and was just confined in a hospital at the time (Umil vs Ramos, July 9, 1990). Unlike common crimes like murder or rape, which end upon their commission, continuing offenses are “anchored on an ideological base” that do not end immediately.

The other exceptions refer to the warrantless arrest of escaped prisoners or of accused who attempt to leave the country without court permission.

Warrantless search. Like in an arrest, no search (and/or seizure) of a person’s body, house, papers and effects can be made without a judicial warrant. The exceptions to this general rule include, first, a search incident to a lawful arrest. Otherwise stated, one who is lawfully arrested may be searched without a warrant for dangerous weapons in his person, baggage or home. The incidental search, however, must be conducted at the time of apprehension and does not extend to any time or place other than the situs of the arrest.

The second exception is the plain view search, that is, a police officer may seize and hold incriminating evidence, like a gun or contraband or illegal drug, that he or she inadvertently comes across (or sees in plain view) while looking at the suspect.

The third exception refers to the searches of vehicles, which as I earlier wrote, are allowed more liberally “for as long as they are warranted by the exigencies of public order and are conducted in a way least intrusive to motorists … checkpoints are not illegal per se.”

The fourth exception involves customs searches and seizures, not only in airports and piers but also in every place where untaxed goods are kept. The fifth exception is a consented search, that is, when the suspect voluntarily agrees to an otherwise illegal search.

The sixth exception is called “stop and frisk,” that is, “a carefully limited search of the outer clothing” of a person whom a police officer, “in the light of his experience, observes to be involved in a criminal activity.”

To summarize, the general rule is “no warrant, no arrest and no search.” All exceptions must be construed strictly in favor of the people and against the police officers invoking the exception. This rule applies also to Comelec checkpoints.

* * *

02-03-2013, 05:14 PM
SC upholds right of incumbent officials to stay in their posts

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:49 am | Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has dismissed a 3-year-old petition questioning a provision of the Fair Election Act that allows incumbent elective public officials to remain in their posts even after they have filed candidacies for other elective positions.

In an eight-page decision dated Jan. 22 and released on Friday, the High Court said they found no reason to disturb a 2003 decision that upheld Section 14 of the Act (Republic Act No. 9006), which repealed an earlier election code that considered an incumbent official resigned upon the filing of his or her candidacy for another position.

The suit against RA 9006 was filed in October 2009 by Henry Giron, leader of the nongovernmental Article 64 Movement, shortly after Malacańang announced that then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was planning to run for the congressional seat of Pampanga in the 2010 polls.

Arroyo formalized her candidacy the following month and won the congressional race in Pampanga’s 2nd district.

Aside from Section 14, Giron also questioned Section 12 of the Act which refers to the treatment of ballots cast.

Giron asked the Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from enforcing the two provisions, saying these would enable elective officials to gain campaign advantage and allow them to disburse public funds from the time they file their certificates of candidacy until after the polls.

Giron, who was later joined by three other petitioners-intervenors, also contended that the two sections were unrelated to the main subject of RA 9006—the lifting of the political ad ban. He pointed out that Section 26 (1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution specifically requires: “Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.”

The justices, however, voted to dismiss the petitions.

No compelling reason

“After a thorough review of the arguments raised, we find that petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention were unable to present a compelling reason that would surpass the strong presumption of validity and constitutionality in favor of the Fair Election Act,” the Court said in a decision penned by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

All the other members of the Court, except Justice Arturo Brion who was on leave, agreed with Sereno.

The Court said Giron and the others were unable to put forward “any gripping justification” to reverse the Court’s ruling in the 2003 case (Farinas v. Executive Secretary). That ruling found the title and objectives of RA 9006 “comprehensive enough” to include other subjects other that the lifting of the ban on the use of media for election propaganda.

The justices said that after “a careful analysis,” they found that the Sections 12 and 14 were “germane” to the subject expressed in the title of RA 9006: An Act of Enhance the Holding of Free, Orderly, Honest, Peaceful and Credible Elections through Fair Election Practices.

“The title was worded broadly enough to include the measures embodied in the assailed sections. Consequently, we dismiss the petitions for failure to establish a clear breach of the Constitution,” they said.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2013, 07:39 AM
An oversight?

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:33 pm | Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The cash gifts controversy enveloping the Senate has forced it to take a long hard look at its practices. The recent harsh exchange of words on the Senate floor between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano may have dragged the chamber’s reputation through the gutter, but if the flurry of acts and statements from various senators in the last several days is any guide, we may yet look forward to not only a cleaned-up Senate, but a clean slate.

Let us not delude ourselves; the hole the Senate has dug itself into is deep and wide. If current practices in spending office savings and accounting for expenses are prone to abuse and corruption, the solution lies not only in tightening procedures and instituting more safeguards, but in investigating whether there were in fact instances of abuse and corruption.

While it is possible to disagree with Cayetano’s populist idea to subject the Senate to a “people’s audit” (what’s wrong with the Commission on Audit?), we find it difficult to imagine anyone (except perhaps for certain senators) disagreeing with his demand: “We cannot sweep this under the rug.”

That there has been a doubling in the funds allotted for the MOOE of oversight committees since 2010, from P212 million in 2010 to over P442 million in 2012, is certainly troubling. Enrile, Senate accounts committee chair Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senators Franklin Drilon and Aquilino Pimentel III are among the senators who have recently come forward to say that some form of resolute action must be taken to address the problem of inefficient, cost-ineffective, overstaying or bloated oversight committees—even though with three session days left in the 15th Congress the needed legislation will have to be the work of the 16th.

What are oversight committees? These are ad hoc or statutory creations meant to discharge the legislature’s power to oversee or review the actions of the executive branch.

Of the 35 “ad hoc” committees listed in the Senate’s own website, we find a wide range, from the highly specific (such as the Oversight Committee on the ARMM Organic Act, chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) to the broadly defined (such as the Special Oversight Committee on Economic Affairs, under Sen. Manny Villar, or the Oversight Committee on Climate Change, under Sen. Loren Legarda).

Each one was created either by Senate resolution or by a specific law.

But the Senate has 39 permanent committees, and many of them overlap with the oversight committees. So there is, for example, a Committee on Labor, Employment & Human Resource Development, chaired by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, and a Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, also chaired by Estrada. What justifies the P17.5-million MOOE budget allotted for the second committee? Is it possible to “fold” the functions of the second into the first?

What is the difference between Legarda’s Oversight Committee on Climate Change (with its P5.3-million MOOE budget), and her permanent Committee on Climate Change?

At a meeting with the chair of COA last week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to stop the practice of so-called liquidation by certification. This, Cayetano admitted, was “a good first step.”

Under the old arrangement, millions of pesos in MOOE funds were deemed liquidated or properly accounted for on the mere say-so of a lawmaker. Not a single lawmaker has defended this practice (although many must have taken advantage of it), because, really, it is indefensible. A system which does not require official receipts or any other proof of expense is vulnerable to corruption.

But much more needs to be done.

The case for reviewing the status of each ad hoc or oversight committee and for reducing their number, and for instituting tighter measures on spending and accounting, seems hard to refute. But politics being the art of compromise, and because change is always a difficult undertaking, the push for reform must be coupled with public pressure on both the Senate and the House of Representatives. We the people have our own oversight powers too.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2013, 07:45 AM
Of Padre Damaso and other things

By Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:27 pm | Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The Celdran Case. Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code punishes “anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.”

There are two elements in the offense: (1) That the act or acts complained of are performed in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony; and (2) that the act or acts must be notoriously offensive to the feelings of believers.

When you strip the provision of its religious element, what you have is something similar to the offenses of violation of domicile (Article 128 ) or interruption of a meeting (Article 131). Both of these two offenses can also result in offended feelings, but feelings are not factored into these offenses. However, 128 and 131 can be violated only by public officers.

What has attracted attention to Article 133 is the religious element in the offense. Essentially, what is punished in Article 133 is speech, whether oral or symbolic, which offends the feelings of others because of its religious content or surrounding circumstance.

Hence, an important question that must be asked is whether Article 133 violates freedom of expression and free exercise or nonestablishment of religion, especially since the crime is listed among crimes against the fundamental law. Freedom of speech is violated when speech is restrained or punished even if the speech does not present a clear and present danger of a substantive evil which the state has the right to prevent. Free exercise of religion is violated when a person is prevented from or punished for externalizing his religious belief or is forced to do something contrary to his religious belief. Nonestablishment of religion is violated when the state shows preference for one religion over others or prefers religion to no religion.

Carlos Celdran is being ordered punished for offending the feelings of others by speaking, orally or symbolically, against religious values dearly held by others. In other words, he is being punished for religious speech. I thought that this kind of offense already disappeared after the events of 1902.

What about his disturbance of a religious gathering? If Celdran were a public officer, which he is not, you might hold him under Article 131 as a disturber of a peaceful meeting, an offense that is religion-free. Perhaps it is enough that Celdran is already apologetic.

Incidentally, the penal codes of, at least, California and New York, have provisions similar to our Article 133. But not everything American is worth imitating!

Finally, Article 133 also raises an intriguing question: When a priest or bishop castigates or consigns to the netherworld those who oppose the Reproductive Health Law in a sermon before a captive audience of churchgoers, should he be penalized by the State or canonically censured for offending religious feelings? After all, defenders of the RH Law also have feelings! What is good for the gander should also be good for the goose.

Comelec in eye of brewing storm. Elections are important. For that reason, the Comelec is given by the Constitution special powers during an election period (which this year started last Jan. 13 and ends on June 12). It says: “The Commission may, during the election period, supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information…”

An important campaign tool used by politicians is speech in its various forms. Hence, during this period regulatory instruments used by the Comelec can come into conflict with the important and highly protected right of speech. However, according to the Supreme Court, the technical effect of the constitutional provision is that, when a Comelec regulation during the election period comes into conflict with the right of free speech, there is no presumption of invalidity. Until candidates or parties succeed in declaring the regulation invalid, it continues to be in effect. A few conflicts on this issue have gone to court and the Comelec has not won all of them.

With the increasing heat of the election season, conflicts are again bound to arise. The first hot one that has arisen is the recent requirement of prior approval by the Comelec for a candidate to guest on any bona fide newscast, bona fide news interview, bona fide news documentary. The Comelec regulation elaborates thus: “To determine whether the appearance or guesting in a program is bona fide, the broadcast stations or entities must show that: (1) prior approval of the Commission was secured; and (2) candidates and parties were afforded equal opportunities to promote their candidacy.”

On its face, the need for prior approval is a form of prior restraint, and it is. Normally it would be presumed to be invalid. But, as stated earlier, it stays in effect until a court declares it invalid because, under jurisprudence on the special power of the Comelec during the election period, it is presumed to be valid.

More conflicts may be coming before the end of the election period. If you are interested in the possible sources of conflict, look up Resolution No. 9616 on the Comelec website.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2013, 09:56 AM
Morales upholds decision to indict Gwen for graft

By Michael Punongbayan

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has upheld the anti-graft agency’s decision to indict suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia for graft and technical malversation of public funds before the Sandiganbayan.

The ombudsman also junked the appeals filed by Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Juan Bolo; budget officer Emme Gingoyon; Appraisal committee chairman and provincial assessor Anthony Sususco; treasurer Roy Salubre; provincial engineer Eulogio Pelayre; and private respondents Romeo and Amparo Balili.

Garcia’s criminal cases stems from the alleged anomalous purchase of a 24.7-hectare property worth over P98 million for a housing project in Tinaan, Naga City in 2008.

“Without doubt, the purchase of the Balili property is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government… given that the substantial portion thereof is submerged in seawater and cannot be utilized for the province’s housing program,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in its latest ruling.

Ombudsman Morales denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Garcia and her co-accused for lack of merit, with prosecutors informing the Sandiganbayan of the ruling.

The anti-graft court’s Second Division chaired by Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos earlier denied the suspended governor’s request that the hold departure order (HDO) issued against her be lifted pending the resolution of her appeal.

In its latest decision to indict Garcia, the Office of the Ombudsman said there was unlawful diversion of more than P49.8 million in public money from the social services budget of the province since there was no appropriation for such land acquisition.

The anti-graft agency’s 21-page ruling said an admission by defendant Balili that no survey was conducted before the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement for the sale of the property and Bolo’s statement that he “informed Garcia twice that the estate is adjacent to the sea” is evidence against the accused.

“Such admission bolster this Office’s finding that the parties, most especially Garcia, had acted with gross inexcusable negligence in the purchase of the estate,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.

“All the other grounds raised in respondent-movants’ motion for reconsideration merit no consideration as they are merely repetitions of the matters that have already been dwelt on in the assailed issuances,” the decision reads.

Sam Miguel
02-04-2013, 10:03 AM
Trillanes is top spender in 2011 – COA

By Christina Mendez

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Antonio Trillanes IV was the biggest spender among senators in 2011, a Commission of Audit (COA) report showed.

Trillanes spent P54.96 million that included P27.62 million for office expenses and P27.34 million for expenses incurred while serving as chairman of several Senate committees.

The itemized list of expenses incurred by each senator in 2011 showed that Trillanes spent P27.62 million for office operations that included P16.76 million for the salaries and benefits of his staff, P6.74 million for maintenance and other expenses, and P77,701 for capital outlay.

A separate report that detailed the expenses of Senate committees also showed that Trillanes incurred expenses for his committees totaling to P27.34 million.

The Senate had recently submitted to the COA the liquidation report and other documents of the expenses of the senators that covered the period January to Dec. 31, 2011.

“He (Trillanes) is the biggest spender in 2011. His expenses reached to almost P 55 million, when other senators received and spent an average of P40 million-plus each in the same year,” a source told The STAR.

Trillanes chairs the Senate committees on amateur sports competitiveness, and on civil service and government reorganization.

There are 39 permanent committees in the Senate, which is different from the 35 congressional ad hoc or oversight committees that also get separate budgets ranging from P5 million to as much as P37 million a year.

Whether a senator gets one or many regular committees, he or she would have the same budget. It is a different case for those who handle the oversight committees, Senate auditors and budget officers explained.

Top spenders

After Trillanes, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada was second with P52.7 million that included P25.2 million in office expenses and P27.5 million for his committee chairmanships.

Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. came in third with P49.82 million that included P22.88 million in office expenses and P26.94 million for committee expenses.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. was fourth highest spender with P49.2 million including P24.6 million for office expenses and P24.6 million for committee expenses.

From number 20 in the list when he entered office in 2010, Marcos was the fourth biggest spender in 2011.

In fifth spot was Sen. Francis Escudero with P48.6 million including P22.4 million for office expenses and P26.2 million for committees.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan had total expenses worth P47.1 million that included P21 million office expenses and P26.21 million on committees.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan ranked 7th in terms of expenses with P46.87 million, including P25.2 million for office expenses and P21.66 million spent on committees.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III spent P46 million with P21 million office expenses and P25 million for committees.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s expenses reached P46.58 million, with P22.8 million used for his office and P23.78 million for committees.

State auditors explained that Enrile and other officers such as the Senate president pro-tempore, majority and minority leaders have higher budget, being officers of the Senate.

Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano spent P44.8 million including P22.2 million for his office and P22.5 million for his committees.

Senator Loren Legarda (P44.12 million in office and committee expenses), Lito Lapid (P43.5 million), Ralph Recto (42.3 million), Pia Cayetano (P42.03million), Edgardo Angara, Teofisto Guingona III and Miriam Defensor-Santiago incurred about P41 million each, followed by Senators Sergio Osmeńa III and Panfilo Lacson with P37 million each.

Senators Franklin Drilon, Joker Arroyo and Aquilino Pimentel III’s office and committee expenses ranged from P20 million to P35 million.

Drilon’s total expenses totaled P34.9 million, including P18.2 million for office expenses and P16.7 million for his committees.

Arroyo incurred P17.11 million for his office expenses and P14.7 million as committee expenses.

Pimentel, on the other hand, spent only P9 million on his office and nearly P11 million on his committees.

Former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who resigned from the Senate in 2011, incurred P11.12 million in office expenses and P12.83 million on committees or a total of P23.9 million. With Michael Punongbayan

Sam Miguel
02-05-2013, 07:57 AM
Comelec scores ‘epal’ pols for ‘breach of delicadeza’

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:16 am | Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

The election campaign period hasn’t officially started, so anything goes.

For example, there’s nothing wrong with senatorial candidates appearing in a TV soap at this time, although it is a clear “breach of delicadeza,” according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. has been asked by netizens on his Twitter account whether the poll body would “turn a blind eye” to the apparent campaigning of some candidates through a drama anthology series aired on television.

A couple of users of the popular microblogging site raised such a question to the Comelec following the airing of an episode of the life story of senatorial candidate Grace Poe-Llamanzares on ABS-CBN’s long-running drama anthology “Maalaala Mo Kaya” (MMK) on Saturday.

Llamanzares, the former chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, was depicted by actress Erich Gonzales in the hourlong drama program.

“A [senatorial candidate’s] life story now being featured on TV. What’s your take Chair Brillantes?” asked Twitter user @redenmat.

Another user, Edik Dolotina (@edikdolotina) said: “Will the Comelec turn a blind eye to ABS-CBN’s obvious campaigning through the MMK program?”

Brillantes answered on his Twitter account: “A paid political ad in the guise of a ‘biography’ is a clear breach of delicadeza but unfortunately, existing laws allow it.”

For the TV program’s next episode on Saturday, actor Gerald Anderson has been tapped to play the role of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is running for reelection in the Team PNoy ticket.

In an interview with reporters on Monday, Brillantes said candidates being featured in “biographies” were not committing an illegal act in the absence of a law prohibiting premature campaigning.

“Nothing is illegal until the campaign period. So, all of these are still OK,” he said. “Everybody is taking advantage of the fact that the campaign period has not yet started.”

But Brillantes warned that the Comelec would go after candidates resorting to such propaganda once the campaign period begins on Feb. 12.

Candidates for national positions are not allowed to campaign until next Tuesday while the campaign period for local posts will start on March 30.

“What they are doing now is prohibited during the campaign period so they should be prepared because we will be strict in implementing campaign rules,” Brillantes said.

During the campaign period, the Comelec will limit the airtime of election propaganda to 120 minutes and 180 minutes for each candidate in all TV and radio networks, respectively.

Sam Miguel
02-05-2013, 07:58 AM
Cebu governor to face trial in another case

By Ador Vincent Mayol, Cynthia Balana

Inquirer Visayas, Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:08 am | Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

CEBU CITY—After being suspended for six months, Gov. Gwen Garcia was found by the Office of the Ombudsman guilty of grave misconduct, together with five other Cebu provincial officials, for the irregular purchase of the Balili beachfront property in Naga City, Cebu, worth P98.9 million which turned out to be mostly under water.

Garcia, who is serving a six-month suspension by the Office of the President for grave abuse of authority, will face trial on two counts of graft and one count of technical malversation or illegal use of public funds.

In a 26-page decision issued on Jan. 25, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales also declared guilty of grave misconduct Juan Bolo, a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cebu; retired Provincial Assessor Anthony Sususco, Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre and Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre, all members of the provincial appraisal committee; and Emme Gingoyon, provincial budget officer.

Also charged with graft were landowners Amparo and Romeo Balili.

Morales, however, said the administrative liability of Garcia and Bolo “has been mooted by their reelection in the 2010 national and local elections” while Sususco, Salubre, Pelayre and Gingoyon were meted out the penalty of dismissal from the service, together with its accessory penalties.

The Ombudsman has denied for “lack of merit” a motion filed by Garcia and the other seven respondents.

Christina Codilla-Frasco, Garcia’s daughter and lawyer, said they had not received a copy of the Ombudsman resolution.

Garcia’s other lawyer, Tranquil Salvador, would not say if they would go to the Supreme Court to stop the arraignment and preventive suspension of Garcia, saying they had yet to read the resolution.

In denying the motion, Morales said the grounds raised by the respondents in their motion were mere repetitions of the matters that had already been dwelt on.

P50-million diversion

The antigraft office said that the accused diverted at least P50 million in government funds intended for housing and site development programs to pay for the Balili land, which turned out to be mostly under water.

Morales said the parties, particularly Garcia, acted with gross inexcusable negligence in the purchase of the Balili estate with the admission of landowner Romeo Balili that there was no survey conducted before the agreement on the sale was signed.

“Without a doubt, the purchase of the Balili properties is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government … given that the substantial portion thereof is submerged in seawater and cannot be utilized for the province’s housing program,” Morales said.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said that with the Ombudsman’s decision, the Sandiganbayan would schedule the arraignment of Garcia and the seven others.

“This also serves as a warning to all government officials. We will not hesitate to file charges if there is any irregularity. We will not relent in our fight against corruption,” he said.

After the arraignment, a 90-day preventive suspension would follow.

“We expect the preventive suspension to be issued at any time. It’s not affected by the forthcoming elections,”ťsaid Apostol.

He said that only a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court could stop the arraignment or the suspension.

“She can be suspended even if she will be elected congresswoman,”ťhe added.

Garcia will exchange places with younger brother Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district. She will run for the district’s seat in the House of Representative while her brother will run for governor under the One Cebu Party.

3 separate complaints

The case stemmed from three separate complaints filed by the Office of the Ombudsman–Visayas’ Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO-Visayas), Manuel Manuel and Crisologo Saavedra in connection with the alleged irregular purchase by the Cebu provincial government of the Balili estate consisting of 11 parcels of land with a total area of 249,246 sqm for an aggregate amount of P99,698,400, of which P98,926,800 had already been paid.

The purchase was made possible through a memorandum of agreement signed by Garcia on behalf of the provincial government for the estate, of which 19.67 hectares were submerged in water, located in Tina-an, Naga, Cebu, at P400 per sqm.

According to the Ombudsman’s decision, the transaction was tainted with irregularities as the provincial government at the time had no available funds specifically appropriated for the purpose of “providing a good opportunity for the province of Cebu to develop and cater to the needs of interested investors.

It said that 50 percent of the total payment made by the provincial government “actually came from the [P50M] budget of the province not specifically earmarked for that purpose but for Site Development and Housing Program under Social Services.”

Of the 11 parcels of land, “about 196,696 square meters of the total area of 249,246 square meters is submerged in seawater,” hence, it cannot be used for the intended purpose of developing an international seaport and attract investors nor even for site development or housing, the decision said.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:14 AM
Aga Muhlach lawyer hits allegations CA favored actor with swift TRO

By Jerome Aning

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:13 am | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The lead counsel of Aga Muhlach has described as “baseless and frivolous” allegations made by the camp of suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia that the Court of Appeals’ speedy issuance of a temporary restraining order in favor of the actor was tainted with “political bias.”

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal called on Garcia and her daughter and counsel Cristina Codilla-Frasco “to rely on the strength of their own evidence and arguments,” adding that the cases of Muhlach and Garcia were “poles apart or very different from each other.”

“The facts and the laws applicable are not the same as well as the remedies resorted to by their respective lawyers before the Court of Appeals. It was a sheer coincidence that their cases were assigned in the same division presided over by Associate Justice Vicente Veloso,” Macalintal said in a statement.

The division is hearing two cases: Garcia’s suspension by Malacańang and Muhlach’s delisting from the voters’ list by a regional court in Camarines Sur.

Garcia’s camp had asked Veloso to inhibit himself from the case. Frasco lamented the “inordinate delay” of the division chaired by the justice in issuing a TRO that her mother had sought long ago.

Frasco complained that there was “something amiss” when the court granted the TRO for Muhlach’s case the same day of the oral arguments were held while it took the tribunal 40 days to deny Garcia’s plea for TRO.

Macalintal, however, protested the comparison.

“Such an allusion is not only an affront to the integrity of our justice system but to the integrity and competence of Muhlach’s lawyers who religiously and dutifully prepared and argued the latter’s case before the court,” he said.

“We want to make it clear and of record that we sincerely and honestly believe on the merits of Muhlach’s case, which was the primary consideration why we accepted this professional engagement. There was no political or any kind of consideration involved when we filed the case and subsequently obtained the TRO from the court,” Macalintal added.

The lawyer said Garcia’s case involved “more of a procedural matter” where she raised the issue that the suspension order was allegedly “served beyond the prescriptive period provided for by law.” On the other hand, Muhlach’s case involves substantial matter involving “a very clear case of grave abuse of discretion committed by the RTC when it changed the meaning of the law on voter registration,” according to Macalintal.

Macalintal said Muhlach’s camp was able to convince the court on the urgency of issuing the TRO immediately after the oral argument on Jan. 15 because the Commission on Elections was poised to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Muhlach on the following day.

The actor would have suffered grave and irreparable injury as his name would not be on the ballots, which have been scheduled for printing by the Comelec, Macalintal added.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:15 AM
Disqualification cases filed vs Duterte, 5 other ‘political dynasts’

By Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:27 pm | Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Saying the Supreme Court had already defined the meaning of a political dynasty, a civil society group asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec), on Tuesday, to disqualify six prominent local candidates—including Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte—for being “clear and obvious” political dynasts.

In a 32-page petition, members of the group Andayamo (Anti-Dynasty Movement) urged the Comelec to disqualify Duterte; Miguel Luis Villafuerte and his grandfather Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; Dennis Pineda, the son of Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda; and brothers Rexon and Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela.

“We chose them because they are clear and obvious (political dynasts). When you say clear and obvious, that means a single position—like mayor, congressman, or governor—being transferred to a spouse or son or two relatives running in tandem, like a mother running for governor while her son runs for vice governor,” said lawyer Alexander Lacson, one of the leaders to Andayamo.

“Of course, there are still many others out there but these are the ones that we read in the newspapers and are brazen, flagrant, and very obvious,” he added.

Lacson was accompanied by comedian Mae Paner and senatorial candidate Ricardo Penson, who earlier launched an anti-political dynasty movement, when they filed the petition at the Comelec before lunchtime on Tuesday.

The petitioners said the Supreme Court had defined the term political dynasties in the case of Navarro v. Ermita (GR No. 180050; April 12, 2011).

In that ruling, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio defined political dynasties in the Philippines as a “phenomenon that concentrates political power and public resources within the control of a few families whose members alternately hold elective offices, deftly skirting term limits.”

“A Supreme Court decision is part of the law of our country. Thus, the above definition of ‘political dynasties’ by the Supreme Court is a definition of the term under Philippine law,” the petition said.

However, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. was not enthusiastic about Andayamo’s petition.

“We have no jurisdiction over that. The Supreme Court had just dismissed anti-dynasty moves. What’s the jurisprudence?” Brillantes said in an interview.

“I will have to read that first but my initial reaction is that it won’t fly. I think the petition’s (chances) are slim. But if it was done well, we will hear it,” he added.

The petitioners said the “first type” of a clear and obvious case of a political dynasty is where the candidate “seeks to replace and succeed his/her spouse, parent, child, or sibling who is the incumbent occupant of the public office the candidate is running for.”

They said this was the case in Camarines Sur, where Luis Villafuerte is running against his grandson Miguel Luis for governor, a post currently occupied by Villafuerte’s son and Miguel Luis’ father, Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte.

“Governor LRay Villafuerte is now a candidate for Congressman in the 2nd District of the same province. As son and father of the incumbent Governor respectively, respondents Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Luis Villafuerte belong to that category of clear and obvious cases of political dynasties,” the petition said.

“As further explained hereunder, there is no more need for a law to prescribe that this situation belongs to or falls under the plain and ordinary meaning of the term political dynasty,” it added.

As such, the petition deemed Miguel Luis and his grandfather as not qualified to run for governor of Camarines Sur.

“They, as well as those candidates similarly situated, are prohibited candidates under the Constitution, specifically by virtue of an express prohibition against political dynasties under Section 26, Article II,” the petition said.

In Pampanga, Dennis Pineda is running for vice-governor while his mother, the incumbent governor, is running for re-election.

“If respondent Dennis Pineda and his mother Lilia “Baby” Pineda both win, the Governor and Vice-Governor of the province of Pampanga will be under the mother and son tandem,” the petitioners said.

“As mother and son, they are first-degree relatives. They can inherit from each other under our law on inheritance and succession…Clearly and obviously, they belong to the same immediate family. Clearly and obviously, they have the same interests,” they said.

“This is a clear and obvious case of political dynasty. There will be concentration of political power in the hands of members of the same family,” they added.

Sam Miguel
02-06-2013, 10:16 AM
Aquino: If you approve of my leadership, vote for my candidates, too

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:21 am | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

DIPOLOG CITY, Philippines—President Aquino on Tuesday called for a referendum of sorts on his leadership style, as he made a pitch for the Liberal Party-led administration candidates running for elective posts across the country.

His decision to put his presidency on the line, as it were, kicked off the political season ahead of the Feb. 12 start of the three-month campaign period, and may have set the tone for the 2013 midterm elections.

In a speech in Filipino at a political rally here, the President said the people, through the ballot, were the ones who should answer these crucial questions in the coming May polls.

“Just like in 2010, the Filipino is asked to vote again, and choose the path they’d like to tread: should we continue the journey along the straight path—marked by heroism—to help each other succeed? Or should we turn around and go back to the old route where the culture of greed prevails, and everyone looks after himself?” said the President.

Aquino then explained that he had “personally scrutinized and handpicked” 12 candidates for the Senate based on the principles they stood for.

“One of them is with us,” he said, introducing Risa Hontiveros.

She was the only senatorial candidate running on “Team PNoy” slate who showed up at the Amando Amatong Civic Center of the Andres Bonifacio College here for a rally described by the LP as Aquino’s “meeting with local leaders and the community.”

“We trust that they (LP slate) will serve not to break the law and have a firm grip on power but instead serve the nation faithfully and efficiently. I myself am telling you: At Team PNoy, the people are the Boss, and only selfless service is acceptable in straight path. We will not allow (in LP’s midst) the conceited, the (political) riders, and the pretenders,” said Aquino.

The President traveled to two key cities in vote-rich Davao region and also in Zamboanga del Norte to consolidate support for local LP candidates, besides campaigning for the LP senatorial slate.

In Zamboanga del Norte, which has close to 600,000 voters, LP candidates seemed to be the underdog here as LP’s rival, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), holds the most number of elective posts, including the governor and congressional positions.

The President first addressed the 2013 Philippine Development Forum in Davao City at 11 a.m. before flying to Dipolog City for the inauguration of a new building for the Graduate and Professional Schools of the Andres Bonifacio College.

Dipolog is the gateway to Western Mindanao region.

In Dipolog, the President met with the city’s mayor, Evelyn T. Uy; Zamboanga del Norte Representative Rosendo Labadlabad; former Dipolog Mayor Roberto Uy, the Liberal Party gubernatorial candidate; and Isagani Amatong, a former governor running for the province’s third congressional district.

Accompanying the President was Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the president-on-leave of LP who is being groomed to become the administration standard-bearer for the 2016 presidential race.

In a brief program after the unveiling of the graduate school marker, Amatong twice acknowledged Roxas as “the next president.”

The latter returned the favor with a pained smile.

In his speech, Aquino told students and teachers to support his administration candidates “if you want change to continue.”

“The electorate will answer this in the coming May (polls). My challenge to all of you, especially the youths, is to get involved and take part in ensuring fair and honest elections,” said Aquino.

The President noted that he was already midway into his term come election day, thus telling the crowds—if they thought his administration was doing the right thing—“to give us (new) allies, so that solving the problems left to us (by our predecessors) would be easy.”

“But if you think we’re doing it the wrong way, then give us opponents to correct our mistakes,” said Aquino, but stressed that compared to the past, the new dispensation has been trying to give opportunity for all.

He claimed that the rule of law and justice has been prevailing in the country, and thanked the people for “giving me the chance to correct” the societal maladies prevalent in the past administrations.

The second event—also held in the same campus—had all the appearance of a political rally: a giant tarpaulin at the stage welcoming Aquino, yellow-clad crowds sporting LP’s color, yellow ribbons, political leaders gathered under one roof, and an energetic crowd willing to applaud the speakers at the drop of a hat.

By all indications, this gathering was intended to boost the chances of local and national officials running under the LP-led coalition, allowing them to hobnob with the President and, supposedly, members of the LP slate.

But Hontiveros had a captive audience since the other members of “Team PNoy” were no-shows, apparently spooked by warnings against premature campaigning.

Although the commander-in-chief was in town, the province’ highest elected official was noticeably absent: Zamboanga del Norte Governor Rolando Yebes, who is running as congressman for second district under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Yebes is allied with the Jalosjos political clan whose members are running under UNA.

Representative Cesar Jalosjos (3rd district), a brother of convicted Representative Romeo Jalosjos, is running for governor, while his running mate is the incumbent Vice Mayor of Dapitan, Patri Chan.

Their ally, former Pińan Mayor Cecilia Carreon, is running for mayor of Dipolog.

For the congressional races in Zamboanga del Norte, UNA is fielding Seth Frederick Pal Jalosjos (first district), Governor Yebes (2nd district), and board member Johanna Parreńo (third district).

LP is fielding Roberto Uy, former mayor of Dipolog, as governor. His running mate is Dipolog Vice Mayor Senen Angeles.

For the congressional races, the administration candidates are: lawyer Vicente Balisado (first district), reelectionist Rep. Rosendo Labadlabad (2nd district) and lawyer Isagani Amatong, a former governor (3rd district).

Amatong is a trustee of the college founded by his late father, Amando Amatong.

The two other Jalosjos—Romeo and Dominador—have been disqualified from seeking elective posts in Zamboanga del Sur. Dominador had wanted to run for governor, while Romeo had filed for candidacy as mayor of Zamboanga City.

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:21 AM
KBP to question Comelec’s airtime limits, prior notice, right of reply rules

By Kristine Felisse Mangunay

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:27 pm | Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Saying the public interest, editorial independence, and even the health of political candidates would be at stake, the president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas said on Wednesday that it would contest the Comelec rules on airtime limits, prior notice and the right to reply in the Supreme Court within the week.

Herman Basbańo, KBP president, said at the weekly forum at Club Filipino in San Juan City, that the association of broadcast companies would ask the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on the implementation of Comelec Resolution 9615, even if some of its provisions were amended following a presentation of opposing arguments from the KBP and GMA-7 on Jan. 31.

Under the amended resolution signed by the Comelec en banc on Thursday, the provision on “the prior notice rule—which requires television and radio stations to notify the poll body before conducting interviews of candidates—was reworded to reportedly allay fears from several members of the media that the rule would infringe on editorial independence.

The provision on the “right to reply” rule—which previously gave “all parties and bona fide candidates” who claim to have been attacked by rival candidates in the media equal media exposure—was also modified so it would not apply to all who complain.

The only provision that remained unchanged was the one imposing limits on the airtime of political advertisements of candidates—120 minutes for television, and 180 minutes for radio.

Basbańo said the organization decided to continue opposing the resolution, even with its amendments, because it did not address the organization’s primary concerns.

If the limits on airtime remain, for example, less information about running political candidates would reach the public, who would then be unable to make an informed decision about their votes during the elections, according to Basbańo.

“The public wants to hear the qualifications of candidates again and again…Arresting (excessive) spending (of political candidates) should not lead to the right of the people to get information from their candidates being sacrificed,” he said.

He added that the imposition of the limits would also affect the health of running candidates, who, unable to gain as much exposure in broadcast media, would then be forced to travel across the country to reach out to the voting population.

Despite the changes in the provisions on “the right-to-reply” and “prior notice,” Basbańo said that the provisions still “infringed on editorial prerogative,” an act tantamount to prior restraint.

He said members of the KBP board would meet during the day at the group’s headquarters in Makati City to discuss the details of the content of the TRO.

Sam Miguel
02-11-2013, 08:40 AM

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:00 am | Monday, February 11th, 2013

Three years after an energized electorate voted overwhelmingly for change, we are heading toward a different kind of vote: A pre-2010 kind of election, with candidacies and issues that scream, “Business as usual.”

We have argued since the 2010 count was complete that the mandate of the winner was larger than the plurality (43 percent) of votes received; that in fact there was a massive majority for the anticorruption platform on which Sen. Benigno Aquino III and other presidential candidates ran. That must, to a considerable extent, explain President Aquino’s continuing popularity and high ratings.

There was an end-of-an-era feel to the 2010 vote, which gave the electorate clear choices. We cannot say the same of the 2013 election, the national campaign period of which officially begins tomorrow. The issues brought to the fore in 2010 have been muddled; there are no clear choices between the main political alliances; there is a palpable lack of political idealism.

The Aquino administration bears a big part of the blame, for putting together a Senate slate based largely on winning prospects, rather than demonstrated performance and commitment to a common agenda. How explain the presence of an exhausted politician of limited ability but considerable wealth like Jamby Madrigal on the Liberal Party coalition’s consolidated slate? Or a callow Bam Aquino?

That the slate carries the names of five reelectionist senators and two former senators, only one of whom is a Liberal of long standing, speaks of the unforgiving arithmetic that went into the selection. That some of the LP’s own promising politicians were not included in the slate—a ready Lorenzo Tańada III and a reluctant Joseph Abaya, to name only two—is further proof of the kind of calculation that was done.

The United Nationalist Alliance is a coalition of traditional politicians established with the 2016 presidential election in mind; for now, it says it shares President Aquino’s vision for the country. In their interpretation, however, that vision relies heavily on the worst of dynastic politics: sons and daughters without accomplishments of their own being groomed to continue their fathers’ political careers. Hence, a lackluster congressman, Jack Enrile, is being pushed as a replacement for Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. Hence, an obscure nonpolitician, Nancy Binay, being recommended on the strength of being Vice President Jejomar Binay’s daughter.

There is a token relative of the President’s in the UNA lineup too, but former Tarlac Gov. Margarita Cojuangco’s very presence reinforces the sense that nothing much differentiates the two main slates. She has said that because there was no more room for her in the LP lineup, she moved to the more obliging UNA.

Even the very idea of common candidates is a letdown, after the election of 2010. In 2007, Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero topped the Senate race; this year, both the LP coalition and UNA claim them, as well as Fernando Poe Jr.’s daughter Grace Poe Llamanzares, as common candidates. Even though the LP coalition has insisted that the three candidates campaign exclusively with the LP and its allies, the mere fact that the main slates have three candidates in common confirms the perception that, at least as far as the Senate candidates go, we are back to business as usual.

Our disappointment with the basic choice of candidates for the Senate is sharpened by the realization that the reforms the Aquino administration has started to put in place have not yet taken firm root.

There is real justification, to take one example, for the international praise that has been directed at the anticorruption initiatives of the Department of Budget and Management, but we have a long way to go before even the most optimistic officials at the DBM can assure us that there won’t be any possibility of backsliding. The landmark Reproductive Health Law, to take another example, is a genuine achievement, but there is no guarantee that the law will be adequately funded in years to come. That will be a matter to be decided by the senators, party-list representatives and congresspersons of the 16th Congress.

The fate of reform hangs in the balance. If only the main political coalitions had kept that in mind.

Sam Miguel
02-11-2013, 09:59 AM
Understanding senatorial preferences

By Randy David

9:03 pm | Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Not a few have asked how we can make sense of the senatorial preferences expressed in recent surveys leading up to the 2013 elections. What seems to be the basis of these preferences? Is it all about “name recall”? How much value is attached to political programs and visions?

My usual answer is that I am as baffled as they are about the choices that our people make. These preferences don’t seem to be anchored on any serious understanding of what a senator’s functions are, or on a thoughtful examination of the candidates’ qualifications and record, and, least of all, on any idea of the kind of legislative leadership the country needs at this time.

I have before me the results of the most recent Pulse Asia survey released last Feb. 8, with four months left before Election Day. The official campaign period has not begun, and candidates have yet to explain their programs in public forums, but already, respondents are filling up, on average, eight of the available 12 senatorial slots. “Virtually all of the probable winners,” the survey notes, “are either former or current members of Congress.” The odd person in the winning circle of 12 is Nancy Binay, who is ranked No. 4, just below the sure winners—Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano.

Binay has not previously run for, or occupied, any public office. Her political experience is limited to her having served as personal assistant to her father, current Vice President Jejomar Binay. She is not known to have taken any stand on any national issue that is likely to be debated in the halls of the Senate. Yet she enjoys an awareness rating of 88 percent that is significantly higher than that of former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. With an awareness rating of only 79, Jun, the son and namesake of the popular president who died in a tragic plane crash, is currently ranked at No. 17.

It is obvious that Binay’s astounding feat in preelection surveys draws solely from the magic of her father’s name. In this, she’s not alone. One could say the same thing for Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., JV Ejercito Estrada, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, and Edgardo “Sonny” Angara. Perhaps it is not so much that voters mistake them for their fathers, as they positively associate them with the images of their famous namesakes.

But why does name recall work for them and not for Magsaysay who was a senator until three years ago? I think there is a simple answer: the late President Magsaysay lived in the 1950s, and despite his abundant presence in children’s textbooks and peso bills, he is a remote figure to the young generation of Filipino voters. For all its saliency, the name “Magsaysay” is linked with the past.

On the other hand, Benigno “Bam” Aquino, the namesake and look-alike of the martyred Sen. Ninoy Aquino, might have a better chance of improving his survey ranking as the elections draw near. He is now at No. 13, three rungs above the 16th place that he occupied in the December Pulse Asia survey. One might hold up the same hope for Grace Poe, whose more deliberate pairing with her iconic father, Fernando Poe Jr., in recent media adverts has pulled her from No. 17 to No. 14. Grace has been able to combine this name advantage with her effective projection of herself as a young sweet woman of serene intelligence.

Name recall is clearly important but, by itself it does not guarantee “winnability.” Jamby Madrigal, who conducted a maverick campaign for the presidency in 2010 and was a senator until six years ago, has an awareness rating of 90 percent. She was at No. 13 in the December 2012 survey, and has slid down to No. 16 in the January 2013 survey. Former Sen. Dick Gordon also ran for president in 2010 and has maintained a high public profile as head of the Philippine National Red Cross. He enjoys an awareness rating of 88, but remains at No. 15, still outside the winning circle. Former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, an old hand in Philippine politics, having served in various capacities in successive administrations, has an awareness rating of 82 percent but languishes in the surveys at No. 19.

Voters have short memories. The younger they are, the more impressionable they tend to be. Their impressions, mostly based on sound bites and fleeting glimpses, do not last long either. Three years out of the limelight, a politician who fails to etch a strong presence in the public memory is as good as forgotten. But those who manage to leave a deep mark on the people’s consciousness are rewarded by a lingering loyalty. Think of politicians like Legarda, Escudero, Cayetano, Trillanes and Honasan. The mere mention of their names conjures, rightly or wrongly, images of vitality, eloquence, audacity, etc.

One would have thought by this same token, that the young activist social democrat Risa Hontiveros, who figured prominently in the anti-Arroyo rallies and almost made it to the Senate in 2010, would by now be among the top senatorial choices for 2013. It is a puzzle that she is not. She possesses all the qualities that young people seem to admire in their leaders—brightness, courage, compassion for the downtrodden and articulateness. What seems to spell the difference is that in the last three years she was not in the public eye. It is time now to remind the public that this is the same bright and brave woman they almost made senator in 2010.

Today’s voters are mostly young, lower middle class, and with the benefit of no more than a high school education. What the surveys suggest is that they are not interested in the candidates’ party affiliations, or what they stand for, or whether they think they can meaningfully contribute to the discussion of issues at the Senate. They are dazzled by form rather than by substance, a fact that makes television all the more the true battleground of national elections.

* * *

Sam Miguel
02-11-2013, 10:10 AM
Abolishing Congress pork will change political makeup


By Jarius Bondoc

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 11, 2013 - 12:00am

On suggestion of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the chamber is to appraise its 33 oversight committees. The aim is to disband paltry ones, so save P40 million-P60 million yearly in operating cost for each. Some such ad hoc bodies were created by law, such as those on power and on election automation; others, by whim. Their number has doubled the Senate operating budget from the usual P2 billion for 37 permanent committees.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, head of the committee on accounts, urges the Senate to abide by Commission on Audit rules. No more liquidation of operating expenses by mere certifications or disbursement vouchers. Such unaccountable forms easily can be computer-printed or bought in bookshops. From hereon BIR-approved official receipts and sales invoices should cover office rentals, supplies, utility bills, gasoline and transportation, subscriptions, maintenance, repairs, and sundries.

Both ideas are good — but prospective. Needing review too is how senators used their billions of pesos in annual operating budgets. The money could have been pocketed because merely certified, not receipted. Like, for what were Senate savings, converted at yearend into additional operating budgets, spent? Or, as Lacson reveals, how can one senator rent as field office a family-owned building. There’s this other senator who “rented” penthouse condos as “offices” on six-year lease-purchase. When the senator’s term ended the condos became personal property.

All this necessitates an independent audit by a private group, as suggested by Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano. And that review should cover as well the House of Representatives.

* * *

The Supreme Court too should be redirected towards the daang matuwid (straight path) of transparent and responsible spending. No longer should flimsy excuses, like “we’re fiscally autonomous” or “the money came from foreign grants”, exempt the Judiciary from scrutiny.

Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached in late 2011 for, among other raps, opacity in the use of public funds. The Senate trial never got to hear the charge; his asset under-declarations and distorted legal justifications were enough to strip him of his post. Still, the fact that fund misuse was affirmed as an impeachable offense thenceforth should make the SC liable.

Corona had refused to account for the yearly multibillion-peso Judicial Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary. The JDF is akin to the additional Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) that senators questionably receive at yearend. The SC must state where the justices spend it. The SAJ empowers the CJ to grant additional allowances from savings. The grantees of this should be disclosed. And excess budgets from unfilled Judiciary positions must be returned to the National Treasury.

* * *

Escaping thorough audit too are the lawmakers’ yearly pork barrels. Each of the 24 senators gets P200 million, each of the 287 congressmen P70 million, for a total of P24.89 billion a year.

The lawmakers claim that they never get to touch the money. The funds supposedly go straight from the budget department to their pet projects: whether “soft,” like free medicine distribution or books for libraries, or “hard,” like road works. That doesn’t mean, though, that they do not get kickbacks from favored suppliers and constructors.

Too many times since Congress’ “democratic restoration” in 1987 have such anomalies been exposed. There were, among others, the buko scam during the Cory, the seaports scam during the Ramos, and the textbook scam during the Estrada administrations. Pork barrel misuse reached haziest peaks during the Arroyo tenure, when P780 million for agricultural fertilizers was distributed in cash to congressmen, even those in urban Metro Manila. More than P2 billion for piglets too were given away to fictitious farmers in congressmen’s padded rosters.

One senator is most notorious in asking for 55-percent cut from his P1.2-billion total pork slab for the six-year term. That’s 50 percent or P600 million for himself, and five percent or P60 million for his chief of staff.

Provincial, city and municipal councils have taken to adopting Congress’ pork barrel rackets. The pocketing of billions in taxpayers’ pesos by national and local officials is piling up. Politicos use the pork to entrench themselves in power. Notice that many congressmen and mayors running for reelection in May are unopposed. That’s because new entrants see no chance of beating the incumbents whose campaigns are fueled by people’s money.

That is why more and more Filipinos are crying for abolition of the pork.

Removing the pork will change the political makeup. For, it will discourage:

• political dynasties,

• entertainment and sports celebrities entering politics through sheer popularity,

• ever growing number of aspirants for party-list representations,

• constant gerrymandering of new congressional districts, provinces, and cities, and

• vote buying and selling.

With no more pork, the sincere and capable but unfunded can aspire for public office and start the momentum of lasting reform.

Sam Miguel
02-12-2013, 08:50 AM
Enrile’s ambush claim defies logic–retired general Montańo

By Cathy Yamsuan, Donna Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:34 am | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s claim in his autobiography that he was ambushed in Wack-Wack Subdivision in Mandaluyong City on Sept. 22, 1972, “defies logic,” according to the former Philippine Constabulary general who investigated Ferdinand Marcos’ justification for placing the Philippines under martial law.

In a report published on Friday by Yahoo! News, retired Gen. Ramon Montańo Jr., who is running for the Senate as an independent candidate, said he was part of the team that investigated the supposed ambush and he knew early on that it was staged.

In an interview with the Inquirer on Monday, Montańo said the bullet holes on Enrile’s car were “very neatly aligned” and the supposed automatic gunfire “conveniently missed all the occupants.”

Such an outcome, he said, would have been “impossible” had the car really been speeding when it was raked with automatic gunfire.

“They alleged they were intercepted and there was gunfire. If you do that, [bullet holes should be] all over [the car]. But in this case, [the bullet holes] were very neatly aligned and then no one was hit,” Montańo said.

“It defies logic,” he added.

Montańo said that at the time, he was with the intelligence branch of the Philippine Constabulary’s Criminal Investigation Service (CIS).

He said he neither submitted a report on his investigation nor meddled with the official report, preferring to keep quiet in light of the imposition of martial law.

At the start of the People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos from power in February 1986, Enrile himself told reporters that the ambush was faked.

But in his autobiography published last September, Enrile said the ambush was real.

Senate probe

So whose memory is correct—Enrile’s or Montańo’s?

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago wants the Senate to investigate Enrile “in aid of legislation” for what she called “brazen false claims” involving the supposed ambush.

In a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer, Santiago said she had set the inquiry for July after the opening of the 16th Congress and Montańo would be called as a witness.

Montańo’s statements in the Yahoo! News report spurred Santiago’s initiative.

Montańo, former commander of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP), forerunner of today’s Philippine National Police, in the administration of President Cory Aquino, said in the Yahoo! News report that he stopped reading Enrile’s 700-plus-page autobiography after getting to the part where Enrile insisted the ambush was real.

‘Full of lies’

He said he could not finish reading the book “because it was full of lies.”

Montańo also said Enrile initially supported the presidential bid of the widow of assassinated opposition Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., Cory Aquino, but when he realized that she was winning, he proposed a junta that he would lead.

“[T]hey wanted to recruit our troops [to] their junta because they said she (Cory Aquino) would support communists, that she would appoint communists to her Cabinet,” Montańo said in his interview with the Inquirer on Monday.

“Gringo’s propaganda was very good,” he said, referring to the then Army colonel, now senator, Gregorio Honasan, Enrile’s trusted military aide in 1986.

“So we had a hard time keeping troops on the side of Cory. General [Fidel] Ramos and I were walking on a tightrope because they had charisma. Even the WAC (Women’s Auxiliary Corps) was angry with us,” Montańo said.

Enrile eventually dropped the junta plan after realizing that Cory Aquino enjoyed huge public support, Montańo added.

At the start of the Edsa People Power Revolution, Enrile told reporters that the ambush was staged to provide the dictator a convenient excuse to place the Philippines under martial law.

Enrile’s revised account of the ambush in his autobiography, “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir,” greatly disturbed many readers who could still recall his statement to journalists that the ambush was scripted.

Members of the Senate President’s staff said Enrile did not want to comment on Montańo’s statement. They said Enrile, one of the leaders of the opposition coalition for May’s midterm elections, was busy with meetings and preparations for the proclamation of the group’s senatorial candidates in Cebu City on Tuesday.

False claims

In her statement to the Inquirer, Santiago said Enrile “may have committed any of the several crimes punishable by the Penal Code, such as unlawful use of means of publication, falsification by a public officer of a document, or falsification by private individual.”

Unlawful use of means of publication, she said, is publication by anyone by any means of news or false news that “may cause damage to the interest of the State.”

Falsification of document by a public officer, she said, is making it appear that people participated in any act or proceeding when, in fact, they did not, or “by making untruthful statements in a narration of facts.”

Santiago added that falsification by a private individual is “committed by any person who, to the damage of a third party, shall in any private document commit acts of falsification.”

“Whatever the crime, the basic rule is that the accused should have violated public faith and destroyed the truth, as decided by the Supreme Court in the 1985 case of Gamido, and the separate case of Sabiano,” Santiago said.

“The Enrile book caused a scandal because his claims have no relation to political reality. But the scandal will be finally settled when General Montańo appears in a Senate hearing. He has already told me that regardless of the Senate campaign results, he is willing to testify in a public hearing and affirm his statements against Enrile,” Santiago said.

“The rule of evidence will apply to Enrile: False in one thing, false in all things. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” she added.

‘Variance from history’

In the Yahoo! News report, Montańo said that when he was appointed PC-INP chief by President Cory Aquino, he headed a team tasked to look into the supposed ambush. The team returned a report stating that the ambush was faked.

“This is one of the major variance from history,” Montańo said.

Montańo also served as adviser on political affairs to President Fidel Ramos.—With a report from Tarra Quismundo

Sam Miguel
02-12-2013, 08:52 AM
90-day senatorial campaign starts Tuesday: Team PNoy banking on Aquino

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:56 am | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 It’s “daang matuwid” (good governance), stupid.

From speeches to TV adverts, from jingles to slogans, Team PNoy will be trumpeting President Aquino’s accomplishments spurred by his policy of good governance.

Convinced that the May 13 midterm elections are a referendum on his leadership, the President will be personally rooting for the 12 senatorial candidates. People will see more of him on the campaign trail, standing on a flatbed truck, pressing flesh and climbing the stage in his trademark yellow T-shirt.

When he proclaims the candidates at the historic Plaza Miranda tonight, the President will push the envelope by drawing a clear line between Team PNoy and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to ensure a 12-0 sweep. The battle lines will be drawn.

“In this campaign, we will put the President’s capital on the line,” Sen. Franklin Drilon, Team PNoy campaign manager, said in an interview.

The strategy is to highlight the administration’s accomplishments: The 6.6-percent full-year growth in 2012, the preliminary peace deal with Moro rebels, the Senate vote to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona, among other notable ones.

Add to that, the government’s conditional cash transfer program, which is benefiting more than 2 million poor families.

These were proofs that the reforms Aquino has undertaken in the past two and a half years were “bearing fruit,” Drilon said.

“The 6.6-percent growth is attributable to nothing else but confidence in the President due to his unwavering adherence to ‘daang matuwid’ platform,” he added.

Campaign pitch

“Daang matuwid” was Aquino’s campaign battle cry in 2010; it will be his campaign pitch this time for the Team PNoy candidates, assembled from his own Liberal Party (LP), once rival Nacionalista Party, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban.

This will become evident in the coming weeks—from the speeches to little details, like messages on shirts and baller ID bands.

Aquino himself set the tone in the Team PNoy’s TV advert, where he introduced them as the “tuwid na daan” candidates, and in his speeches, where he framed the midterm elections as a choice between good governance and its opposite.

“The question that we will ask: ‘Are we on the right path? Is the country on the right path in the two years and a half that the President is running the government?’ If we are, then the President is asking the people to support his team,” Drilon said.

By harping on “daang matuwid,” it becomes inevitable then for Team PNoy to draw a sharp contrast with UNA, with whom it shares three “common candidates” and to pose the challenge: What do you have to offer?

Clear line

Aquino has given strict orders to “draw a clear line” between Team PNoy and UNA. In a recent speech, he warned of “riders” and “pretenders” who turn up in yellow shirts but don’t espouse good governance.

By not attacking the administration, UNA has been accused by Malacańang of riding on the President’s popularity to its own electoral advantage. There has been no response from the UNA stalwarts: Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and deposed President Joseph Estrada.

“The President wants to draw a very clear line between Team PNoy and UNA. He considers this a referendum on his first two and a half years,” Drilon said.

To win the campaign, Drilon said the team would have to “clearly present the distinction” between the administration and the opposition.

“We will base this campaign on differentiation between the clear program of this administration and the lack of any program on the part of the opposition. What can they show?” he said.

Clear as black and white

It will be clear as “black and white,” according to the acting LP president, Transportation Secretary Joseph E.A. Abaya.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, senior political adviser to the President and an LP stalwart, agreed that the distinction would be defined by what the administration stood for: good governance, economic growth and poverty reduction.

“What does UNA have to say about that? As I said the burden of defining themselves rests with UNA,” Abad said.

But won’t that tack affect Grace Poe and Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero who were adopted by UNA, and alienate them from the other ticket?

Drilon was unperturbed.

“These are the administration candidates. That they were adopted by UNA is a decision made by UNA,” he said of the three who had been instructed early on to skip UNA rallies. “We can’t prevent them from adopting our candidates.”

Dynasty issue

While it claims to run on a platform of good governance, Team PNoy has been hounded by the issue of political dynasty, and so has been UNA.

On the PNoy slate are Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, the President’s first cousin; reelectionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, whose sister Pia is also a senator; reelectionist Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, son of former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.; Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, son of Sen. Edgardo Angara; and former Las Pińas Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

Rounding out the slate are Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Jamby Madrigal and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.

Good, bad clans

Malacańang has said that the electorate should make a distinction between “good” and “bad” political clans, and vet the candidates themselves.

“We will present them to the people. Ultimately the people will judge whether one is qualified to be in the Senate,” Drilon said.

To criticisms that Aquino’s economic gains did not trickle down to the grassroots, Drilon has a ready answer: “It’s obvious his work is not yet over. He did not promise to solve all the problems in two and a half years.”

Asked if Congress’ failure to approve the freedom of information bill, which seeks to improve transparency in the government, would be raised against Team PNoy, Drilon retorted that the Senate had passed its version, but the House of Representatives did not.


As it tangles with UNA, Team PNoy also has to grapple with a daunting challenge: Getting most of their candidates land in the Top 12 of surveys. With the exception of Poe and Angara, only the incumbent senators have consistently made it to the “winning circle.”

Drilon said: “It’s just a start. It’s a challenge. I’m not worried at this stage.”

Besides, he believed, things could change once Aquino joined the hustings especially in vote-rich provinces, presented each of his “handpicked” candidates and their qualifications before the crowd, and rallied them to vote for the Team PNoy candidates.

“We’re running an administration that has a very high rating, a circumstance which was not necessarily present in the previous campaign,” Drilon said.

“We will explain the platform that we have achieved growth in the past two and a half years.”

Broad support

Team PNoy is confident that the President’s broad support from many sectors would translate into “support for his team,” Drilon said.

The President is expected to join most of the Team PNoy’s 31 scheduled sorties between this week and the last week of March.

Sam Miguel
02-12-2013, 08:52 AM
90-day senatorial campaign starts, UNA questions ‘daang matuwid’ line

By Christian V. Esguerra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:17 am | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The political coalition assembled by Vice President Jejomar Binay delivered the first blow even before the opening bell in the May 13 senatorial election.

In a high-budget, 60-second TV ad, his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) went straight for President Aquino, chief endorser of the administration ticket, questioning his “daang matuwid” (righteous path) advocacy.

“Habang tinatahak ang daang matuwid, marami ang nagtatanong, bakit ganun pa rin ang buhay? Bakit dumarami ang mga walang trabaho? Bakit patuloy ang pagtaas ng presyo (While treading the righteous path, many are asking, why is life like this. Why is there growing unemployment. Why do prices continue to rise)?” the ad asks.

What’s needed is good governance and, taking a cue from Binay’s successful campaign slogan in 2010, it ends: “Sa UNA, gaganda ang buhay (At UNA, life will be better).”

It clearly got the administration’s attention. In its own TV campaign ad, the President no less responded in kind. “Sa daang matuwid, marami ang gustong sumali. Pero meron ding nagpapanggap lamang (Many want to tread the righteous path. But there are also pretenders),” he said.

The gloves are off, the game is on

The strategy is clear for the Aquino ticket called Team PNoy: Stay away from pretenders, from political freeloaders seeking to ride on the President’s popularity and high trust rating.

UNA officials swear they’re not doing so—they don’t have to—what with the combined endorsement power of its Big 3: Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and ousted President Joseph Estrada.

“It’s three against one, do the math,” Estrada told the Inquirer.

But UNA strategists know too well not to antagonize a popular president and his legion of followers, especially in a campaign where the line between opposition and administration is blurred by alliances and fallouts in the past. It thus calls itself a “constructive opposition.”

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA’s campaign manager, questioned the logic of an administration opting to drive away supporters from the other side of the fence.

“This is the only time I’ve seen a government that wants to isolate people and does not want to attract people who are willing to support them (This is the only time I’ve seen a government that is pushing away those who want to support its program, instead of trying to win them),” he told the Inquirer in an interview.

Tiangco’s verbal attack was carefully crafted. It spared the President and zeroed in on the likes of Sen. Franklin Drilon, his Team PNoy counterpart, and other leaders of the ruling Liberal Party.

Eye on 2016

Tiangco’s theory is that Drilon and company are throwing the President into the fray and sowing intrigue with the Vice President.

The context, he said, is the 2016 election where Binay is expected to go up against Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in a rematch of their bitter vice presidential bout three years ago.

Tiangco said Roxas’ camp might be entertaining the possibility that Aquino might end up endorsing the candidacy of Binay, not of Roxas, three years from now. So placing Binay clearly on the side of the opposition would ensure the endorsement of Roxas, he pointed out.

Tiangco recalled that the President’s mother, then President Corazon Aquino, ended up backing the presidential run of Fidel Ramos in 1992, not that of House Speaker Ramon Mitra.

“It’s very clear that they want to sow intrigue between the President and the Vice President,” Tiangco said, referring to Drilon’s statement that UNA was trying to make Aquino a “lame duck” president.

Whether there’s a grain of truth in Tiangco’s theory remains to be seen. What’s certain is the two major political coalitions for the May senatorial election could not produce a complete 12-man lineup.

That explains the raging tug-of-war between UNA and Team PNoy over Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, and Grace Poe. All three candidates appear in the administration ticket’s inaugural TV ad.

Tiangco said he decided to leave them out of the first UNA commercial. He said the 60-second ad was too short to accommodate all 12 candidates. It allowed the nine purely UNA candidates to deliver one-liners on their respective campaign platforms.

Big challenge

The 42-year-old Tiangco is running the first nationwide political campaign, aware that the outcome would clearly affect Binay’s presidential ambition three years from now.

He considers himself more of a “coordinator” than a strategist. It’s still the Big 3 that call the shots because of their vast experience and political savvy.

With no prior experience on a national campaign, Tiangco so far relies on his political instincts and his experience as a longtime local executive and a businessman. When in doubt, he goes to the Big 3.

According to him, he prefers to run the UNA machinery like a “professional company,” meaning “everything is done business-like.” “So instead of running it like a traditional political campaign, I’m willing to listen to all ideas and I delegate,” he said.

Tiangco is at the center of a well-defined organization that includes sections like sortie planning, creative, media bureau, media buyer, and secretariat. Staffers are relatively young, but those in the creative department are industry veterans.

The goal is for all 12 UNA candidates to win, but Tiangco said “you have to be realistic enough to realize that it’s difficult.” So far, he’s confronted by the problem of towing Ernesto Maceda, Mitos Magsaysay, and Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco into the Magic 12.

In the last Pulse Asia survey, Maceda was tied with Team PNoy’s Risa Hontiveros at 18th to 19th places. Magsaysay and Cojuangco were at 20th to 23rd places.

Magsaysay said she was not disheartened. “I don’t believe in surveys. The reception I get on the ground is what’s real,” she said.

Political baggage

Like Team PNoy, the UNA ticket is confronted with issues like political dynasty and consistency of political stand and advocacies.

UNA, for instance, includes Binay’s own daughter Nancy, Enrile’s son Jack, Estrada’s son JV, and Aquino’s aunt Tingting. Also in the mix are Magsaysay and Juan Miguel Zubiri, former allies of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is the subject of both UNA and Team PNoy attacks.

Team PNoy appears to be condoning political dynasties as well. It has Rep. Sonny Angara, son of outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara; Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of outgoing Sen. Manny Villar; Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, brother of incumbent Sen. Pia Cayetano; and Bam Aquino, the President’s cousin.

In short, the Senate in the 16th Congress would likely end up as a chamber of relatives in politics.

But any good strategist knows that warts and all, a campaign is all about perception and delivering a well-crafted message.

Tiangco said this year’s campaign would still be “media-driven,” meaning candidates would have to invest heavily on TV and radio ads to generate awareness.

“It’s about messaging, it’s really about mass media, learning the political demand and delivering the message to the people,” he said.

But whether they believe life would indeed be better with UNA in government will be up to voters on May 13.

Sam Miguel
02-12-2013, 08:53 AM
No blessings from bishops for pro-RH candidates

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:35 am | Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Some Catholic bishops have advised pro-reproductive health (RH) law candidates thinking of seeking their “blessings” as they begin their election campaigns Tuesday to “forget it.”

On the eve of the start of the 90-day campaign period for national positions, at least four prelates said they were not keen on laying their hands on candidates who supported the RH law should they ask for their blessing.

“I will not meet with them but I am not saying they won’t be welcome,” Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles told reporters.

“No, let them stay away from us,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes in a separate interview. Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon expressed the same sentiment.

For his part, Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said that if a candidate sought his blessing as a private individual, he would gladly give it. “But as a candidate, I will certainly not give my blessing to his or her candidacy because he or she supports a cause against the teachings of the Church,” he said.

But Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco has a different take on the matter. The prelate said he would welcome anyone who would ask him to bless his or her candidacy but, just the same, he would encourage people to vote for candidates based on their values and those who are pro-God, pro-life and pro-environment.

“Everybody is welcome. No discrimination. We are not partisan,” said Ongtioco.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said he saw no reason those candidates couldn’t be welcomed. “A pro-RH candidate is a child of God and a brother or sister to me. I can be very diplomatic and respectful toward him or her as a person,” he said.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said a “courtesy welcome is due a courtesy visit.”

Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas said he was willing to give his blessings to a candidate, even those who rabidly supported the RH law. However, this should not be construed as an endorsement.

He stressed that the Church, even in past elections, did not endorse candidates.

“As a pastor, I welcome anyone who would ask for God’s blessings. I would also proclaim to him or her God’s teachings and that of the Church,” Cantillas said.

Sam Miguel
02-13-2013, 08:13 AM

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:04 am | Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The fates of two people reveal a great deal about the nature of Philippine elections in particular and politics in general.

The first is Nancy Binay who has been thrust at the forefront of the campaign. After languishing in 12th place in the SWS survey, she has pole-vaulted to No. 4. Grace Poe hasn’t joined the “Magic 12” in SWS but she has in Pulse Asia—and done so with many Filipinos not even knowing she is running. I suspect it’s just a question of time before she also does a Binay, which is when she gets to project herself more. Her leap in Pulse Asia was huge as well. I wish her well.

But back to Binay. Her “great leap forward” probably owes to one of two things, or both.

One is that “Binay” has become a brand name as well, and UNA is right to imagine it’s an “open sesame” to the masa vote. For the same reason “Aquino” will most likely boost Bam’s candidacy, the only difference (so far) being that Jojo Binay has been actively campaigning for UNA while P-Noy has not for the other side. There is one other difference, which is that P-Noy is seen as not running again, no small thanks to his own party which has been unwittingly depicting him as a lame duck of sorts—Frank Drilon has revealed Mar Roxas will run for president in 2016—while Binay has said he will definitely do so. That makes Binay’s endorsement an active one compared to P-Noy’s, and that makes being named Binay an endorsement unto itself.

Two is that Team PNoy may keep trying to drive an ideological wedge between itself and UNA, repeatedly twitting Jojo Binay for suggesting UNA is friend to P-Noy, but the public isn’t seeing it. No small thanks to their ranks being raggedly put together, their own bets being as ideologically disparate or even as opposed as you can get. Quite apart from the common candidates, quite apart from the inclusion of people like Cynthia Villar, Koko Pimentel is there as well only because UNA refuses to part with Migz Zubiri. There’s very little, if at all, to distinguish UNA from Team PNoy.

Nancy Binay is proof of it. If there were, you’d have the Yellow Brigade up in arms against her in particular. As it is, the Yellow Brigade is probably more hospitable to Jojo Binay than to the Liberal Party. After all, he worked with Cory while some of the LP stalwarts are downright allergic to Edsa. So what exactly does Team PNoy signify?

No, this year’s elections will be as traditional as they come, as lacking in ideological differences as they come, as proof of this country not having any real parties as they come, in stark contrast to 2010. Which brings us to the fate of the second person.

That is Teddy Casińo who continues to languish in the lower rungs of the senatorial surveys. For reasons that are not hard to understand. He has little money, no advertisements and is running as an independent. The first and second flow from the third. You have no (mainstream) party affiliation, you’ll have no funds and ads. Few, if any, independents have won in elections, least of all for higher positions like senators. The one person I know who did it was Kiko Pangilinan who ran as an independent in 2007. But he had several advantages going for him: He had been with a mainstream party before (the LP), he had been a senator before, and he had been a majority leader of the Senate before. And he had the redoubtable Sharon Cuneta to campaign for him.

Casińo has none of that. If he had been with a party before, it was with the opposite of a mainstream one, if arguably an infinitely truer one. He had been a party-list representative, of course, but as he himself admits, that is a quite different league from being senator. His decision to run as an independent owed to the bitter experience of his predecessors throwing their lot with a mainstream party. Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza joined Manny Villar in the last elections and, quite apart from losing badly, made the Left look bad and lost. They made it look like it was no better than the compromise-making, wheeling-and-dealing, selling-soul-to-the-devil groups you find crawling all over the place. Casińo looks headed to the first fate, but he will at least be spared the second.

I myself wish Casińo had a chance, and will keep hoping he gets it. I like him. He’s intelligent, articulate, reasonable. Having him should improve the discourse in the Senate, providing it with a true clash of ideas and not just, which is what we see now, clashes of personalities. But that is also what makes it the hardest thing for him to win. His situation reflects the tragedy of the Left. If the people occupying the higher rungs of the surveys show us the dangers of having little, or no, ideology, people like Casińo on the other hand show us the dangers of having too much of it.

A friend of mine gave me to glimpse it some days ago. Look at South Africa and Brazil, he said, and you’ll see what the Left in this country did that was so very wrong. Where it changed and evolved and innovated in those countries, it just retreated, calcified and insisted on reaffirming the un-reaffirmable here.

Look at Brazil in particular and see what Lula—Luiz Inácio da Silva—did there. Lula was as leftist as they came: He was the head of Brazil’s only socialist party, the Workers’ Party, and won on the strength of it. And he was as innovative as they came: As president for two terms, he turned Brazil around while pursuing modified socialist policies. “Under Lula,” the Washington Post enthused, “Brazil became the world’s eighth-largest economy, more than 20 million people rose out of acute poverty, and Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first time the Games will be held in South America.”

Not bad, for an ideologist.

Sam Miguel
02-13-2013, 08:15 AM
^^^ Nancy Binay is fair game. But endorsing Teddy Casino is utter nonsense. As a Congressman, he collects his pork barrel instead of working for its abolition, which is the just thing to do. Lord only knows where this pinko brings his prok barrel, since as a beneficiary thereof he also insists that it be beyond COA scrutiny. Showing how medium-rare you are once again, Conrad.

Sam Miguel
02-13-2013, 08:41 AM
Poll ratings of gov’t execs down; JPE biggest loser

By Helen Flores

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 13, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Approval and trust ratings of the top five government officials, led by President Aquino, significantly declined in the January 2013 survey of Pulse Asia.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile suffered the biggest decline in approval rating, from 73 percent to 46 percent in the non-commissioned survey conducted from Jan. 19 to 30.

The poll showed Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay continuing to enjoy majority approval ratings in the second half of January.

Aquino’s rating, however, dropped by 12 percentage points from 78 percent in November 2012 to 66 percent in January 2013. Binay’s rating, on the other hand, declined by 13 percentage points from 82 percent to 69 percent.

Malacańang yesterday said that despite the drop in the President’s approval and trust ratings, there is not much indication of disapproval toward the administration.

“I think everybody, the top officials of all branches of government, fell. I think that’s also part of the environment at the time the survey was taken,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s performance rating also dropped from 46 percent to 28 percent.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno likewise obtained lower approval rating in January – from 38 percent to 24 percent.

Pulse Asia said Aquino and Binay recorded majority approval ratings across geographic areas and socio-economic classes: Aquino (59 percent to 76 percent and 64 percent to 70 percent, respectively) and Binay (61 percent to 78 percent and 58 percent to 73 percent, respectively).

Enrile obtained majority approval rating only in Mindanao (53 percent).

The plurality sentiment toward Belmonte in most areas and socioeconomic classes is of indecision, with a majority (53 percent) of those who reside in balance Luzon expressing indecision, Pulse Asia said.

Likewise, ambivalence is the majority opinion regarding Sereno’s performance across most areas and socioeconomic groups with the exception of the Visayas (44 percent) and class E (47 percent).

Aquino’s overall approval rating decreased from 78 percent in November 2012 to 66 percent in the January 2013 survey, with marked changes occurring in the National Capital Region (NCR), balance Luzon, and the Visayas (from 74 percent to 59 percent, 77 percent to 61 percent and 79 percent to 67 percent, respectively).

Declines in the President’s approval rating between the two survey periods were also noted in Class D (from 78 percent to 64 percent) and Class E (from 79 percent to 70 percent).

The 13-percentage point drop in the approval rating of Binay, meanwhile, can be traced primarily to the decline in his approval ratings in NCR (-15 percentage points), balance Luzon (-14 percentage points), the Visayas (-11 percentage points), Class D (-12 percentage points) and Class E (-13 percentage points), Pulse Asia said.

Enrile’s approval ratings showed the most significant reductions across all areas and socioeconomic groups (from -15 to -35 percentage points and from -27 to -30 percentage points, respectively), the pollster noted.

Approval ratings of Belmonte and Sereno dropped in NCR, balance Luzon and Mindanao, and across all socioeconomic groups.

“For four of the five leading officials (i.e., President Aquino, Vice-President Binay, House Speaker Belmonte and Supreme Court Chief Justice Sereno), the increase in their respective indecision figures accounts for much of the decline in their approval ratings,” Pulse Asia said.

‘Lower trust’

Meanwhile, Pulse Asia said the trust ratings of the country’s top five officials declined between November 2012 and January 2013 – Aquino by 12 percentage points, Binay by 10 points, Enrile by 21 points and Belmonte and Sereno by 12 percentage points each.

Across areas and socioeconomic classes, declines in Aquino’s trust rating were noted in NCR, balance Luzon, Visayas, Classes D and E (-12 to -16 percentage points).

Binay’s trust ratings likewise decreased in NCR, balance Luzon and Classes D and E (by 9 to 17 percentage points).

On the other hand, the trust ratings of Enrile dropped in all areas and socioeconomic groups (-13 to -30 percentage points and -20 to -29 percentage points, respectively).

In the case of Belmonte, his trust ratings declined in NCR (-23 percentage points) and balance Luzon (-18 percentage points) and across all socioeconomic classes (-9 to -25 percentage points).

Similarly, trust in Sereno became less pronounced in all socioeconomic classes (-8 to -22 percentage points), balance Luzon (-13 percentage points) and the Visayas (-14 percentage points).

It said only Aquino and Binay obtained majority trust ratings in January 2013.

Sizeable majority trust ratings were obtained by Aquino (68 percent) and Binay (71 percent), while trust is the plurality sentiment regarding the trustworthiness of Enrile (46 percent).

In contrast, indecision is the near majority opinion on the matter of trusting or distrusting Belmonte (48 percent) and Sereno (50 percent).

About a fourth of Filipinos expressed indecision as regards the trustworthiness of the President and the Vice President (26 percent and 24 percent, respectively) and nearly four out of 10 Filipinos (38 percent) were unable to say if they trust or distrust Enrile.

Distrust in the President and the Vice President, on the other hand, remained at single-digit levels (six percent and five percent, respectively) and was more pronounced toward Enrile (15 percent), Belmonte (21 percent), and Sereno (20 percent). – With Aurea Calica

Sam Miguel
02-13-2013, 08:44 AM
^^^ Johnny Enrile, nearing your appointment with the devil, and about to go out with a whimper instead of the bang you had planned. Tsk tsk... It could have been different, Johnny. It could have been better.

02-13-2013, 04:20 PM
Miriam leads net revolution vs. 'clowns'

By Christina Mendez (philstar.com) | Updated February 13, 2013 - 3:43pm

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is leading young voters to a revolution - an internet revolution through social networking sites in determining whether the present batch of senatorial candidates deserve to be in office for the 16th Congress this July.

“If the first Edsa revolution was a Xerox revolution, and if Edsa 2 was a text revolution, then the next revolution against political corruption should be called the Net revolution,” Santiago said.

Speaking at a symposium spearheaded by the UP Student Council in Manila last Tuesday, Santiago called on young students to use the social media to be vigilant against traditional politicians in the coming May elections.

“The ideal UP student always gives the world a shock. I ask each one of you to give the mindless political candidates a shock, by demoting TV, which used to be the king of political advertising, and instead elevating as political campaign weapons the tablet and the smart phone,” Santiago added.

The feisty senator said the 52 million Filipino voters are bored with political antics and cheap gimmickry.

Santiago again resorted to name-calling, describing politicians as “clowns.”

“We are aghast at their resumes. Some of them are not even high school graduates. They resort to all kinds of cheap gimmickry, hoping to provide entertainment for free. They should not be called candidates; they should be called clowns,” she said.

In the Philippines, Santiago claimed that politics is dominated by two kinds of clowns: rich clowns; and poor clowns hoping to become rich.

“Fortunately, we are at the cusp of a new ominous wave of change in the political beach. This wave is called the social media,” she said.

In categorizing political clowns, Santiago said the rich clowns used to bribe press and broadcast journalists so that they could gain added illegal advantage over their competitors. “But now, the rich clowns are beginning to discover that it is not possible to bribe the leaders, much less, all the netizens in cyberspace,” she added.

In terms of social network use, the Philippines is ranked among the top countries.

“This could be the precursor of the participatory democracy of the future,” se said, noting that Facebook is the premier social media service in the world. Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service. YouTube provides a forum for the distribution of video content, particularly eyewitness features of political protests.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the so-called big three social media services. These services enable large numbers of people to be easily and inexpensively contacted via a variety of services, Santiago noted.


Sa kasamaang palad, hindi natin alam kung gaano kalawak ang internet access ng masa (ang dapat na target audience ng kampanyang ito).

Sam Miguel
02-14-2013, 08:48 AM

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:12 pm | Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Of the 33 candidates for the Senate, only one has no achievements to speak of, no accomplishments to her name. Nancy Binay has not served in an elective or appointive office; she has not run a company or a nongovernment organization; and until very recently, she has not championed a public-oriented advocacy or taken a stand on a political issue. When asked to identify her electoral advantage, Vice President Jejomar Binay candidly replied: “She’s my daughter.”

And that’s it. Nancy Binay is not a lawyer (like her father) or a doctor (like her mother). To be sure, she is a college graduate (one among tens of millions of Filipinos with a college degree), and she has been gainfully employed (by her parents, as, in her own words, a “forever personal assistant”) for many years. She is married and has four children. It is obvious she has a head on her shoulders, and the ear of the powerful and the influential.

But compared to her, JV Ejercito is a local government expert, Sonny Angara a legislative impresario, Jack Enrile a congressional veteran, and Bam Aquino (whose own candidacy this newspaper has repeatedly criticized) a veritable statesman. Why is she even running for the Senate?

Because she can.

The “Aquino argument” cannot be used as a rebuttal. Whatever one’s view may be of President Aquino’s performance in Congress, the fact is he did serve three terms as a representative of Tarlac and as a Deputy Speaker for Luzon. Whatever one’s view may be of Cory Aquino’s preparedness for the presidency, the fact is her husband was assassinated; only then did she take up the cause. Given that Vice President Binay is very much alive, what is his daughter’s compelling reason for wanting national office?

The work in the Senate can look tedious or decidedly small at times, but in fact, the Senate deals on a daily basis with national-interest issues and their wide-ranging ramifications. The Philippines’ relations with China are undergoing a sea change; our conflicting territorial and maritime claims will take a long time to resolve. America’s so-called pivot to Asia ratchets the stakes in the fate and future of its Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines. If the conditions are right, the much-desired breakthrough in climate change negotiations may happen in the next couple of years, necessitating Senate ratification of any post-Kyoto Protocol treaty. All these, and more, require a Senate that is not only genuinely solicitous of the general welfare or truly independent of the Executive, but also, unmistakably, competent. Being someone’s daughter may be a political advantage; it has absolutely no bearing on the Senate’s work.

Both the Vice President and his daughter have acknowledged the accidental nature of her candidacy; she was a last-minute replacement. Even if we take their reluctance at face value, and consider the information that it was Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and ex-President Joseph Estrada who had insisted on her inclusion in the United Nationalist Alliance slate, the fact remains that she is seriously unqualified to be in the Senate. Yes, she meets the Constitution’s minimum requirements—but so do millions of other Filipinos. She is in the UNA slate simply because, as the Vice President said, she’s his daughter.

That she is rating well in the surveys is not an argument for qualification. We can already hear her professional supporters say, Let the people decide. But popularity, or “winnability” in her case, cannot be a substitute for her lack of experience, preparation, or achievement. Popularity did not transform Lito Lapid, or the Ramon Revillas (father and son) into competent senators deserving of their seats. (Here’s a question for the Vice President, a human rights lawyer during martial law: Ferdinand Marcos won the presidency in 1965 and, for the first time in the Third Republic, was reelected in 1969; how did his popularity work out for us?)

Nancy Binay is running on a “Gaganda ang buhay” theme, taking off from her father’s successful campaign slogan. That’s easy for her to say: Life becomes beautiful, is made easier, if you’re someone’s daughter.

Sam Miguel
02-14-2013, 08:50 AM
^^^ As much as I also disdain Nancy Binay's candidacy the fact remains that under the Constitution we all love and swear to protect, she has every goddam right to run for the Senate. If our idiot electorate vote for her, that goes with the democratic territory and tough shit for the thinking class. If we do not want her - and those similarly situated - to run for public office then we must change the Constitution. Until such time there is really nothing we can do, and Jejomar knows this.

Sam Miguel
02-15-2013, 08:04 AM
Palace dares JPE: Prove smuggling is still norm

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:43 am | Friday, February 15th, 2013

Malacańang on Thursday dared Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to show proof that smuggling of rice, meat and oil—rampant in the past administration—was still the norm under the Aquino administration.

“If Senate President Enrile knew anything about smugglers and [he has] evidence, he should tell us, and this administration will not hesitate to promptly order an investigation,” said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a phone interview.

“That’s what a ‘straight path’ is. He should identify these crooks since we, too, want Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to be happy,” added Lacierda, apparently teasing Enrile whose campaign catchphrase when he sought reelection in 2010 was “Gusto ko happy ka” (I want you to be happy).

Lacierda was reacting to Enrile’s tirades against Aquino’s “straight path” agenda on Wednesday in Bohol province, where the Senate chief was campaigning for his son, Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr.

The younger Enrile is running on the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial slate.

“If the administration is really pursuing a straight path, why are they allowing the problem of smuggling of rice, meat and oil to worsen in the entire country?” asked Enrile at a campaign sortie in Tagbilaran City.

“Instead of helping the farmers, the foreigners are being taken care of by [administration officials],” said Enrile, citing the case of a Thailand company that was apparently given preferential treatment by the Board of Investments (BOI).

Enrile raised the same smuggling charge against the Aquino administration during the proclamation of the UNA senatorial candidates in Cebu City on Tuesday, where he, Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada were present.

Enrile was apparently referring to the Thai conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods), which was granted a pioneering investment status by the BOI.

This will allow CP Foods to enjoy a six-year tax holiday along with import incentives for corn and other raw feed materials.

“The BOI move favoring CP Foods undermines our sovereignty and food security. It will also result in the loss of employment for millions of Filipinos as the agricultural sector employs 33 percent of the entire Philippine labor force,” said a resolution signed by major stakeholders in the country’s agriculture sector.

United front

The stakeholders have formed a united front to denounce the smuggling of meat and other agricultural products, and what they called “unlawful entry” into the local market of the Thai food company.

The resolution was adopted during the 6th Multisectoral Agriculture Summit in Metro Manila last month. It was attended by national agricultural leaders, farmers and representatives of allied industries.

The summit discussed the impact of CP Foods on food production and retail, and other government policies that would hurt local food producers.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:19 AM
Isko Moreno, 5 allies held over bingo game

Erap cries ‘political harassment’

By Nancy C. Carvajal

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:15 am | Sunday, February 17th, 2013

A day after candidates in the Manila local elections signed a “peace covenant,” the heat of political intrigue went a notch higher with the arrest of reelectionist Vice Mayor Francisco Domagoso and five councilors on Saturday.

Their alleged crime: engaging in “illegal gambling” by sponsoring a bingo game that attracted some 500 people in Manila’s Blumentritt area.

Domagoso is a former actor known as Isko Moreno and the running mate of former President and now mayoral candidate Joseph Estrada, the main challenger of the incumbent Alfredo Lim.

He was picked up by members of the Manila Police District together with other Estrada allies: Councilors Jong Isip, Joel Chua, Benny Ang, Yul Servo and Maria Asuncion Fuguso.

According to Supt. Ricardo Layug, commander of the MPD’s Quiapo station, Domagoso and the others were held for illegal gambling after they organized and graced a bingo session on Tambunting street Saturday afternoon.

The vice mayor and the councilors were detained at the Quiapo station and were to undergo routine medical checkups before the inquest proceedings at press time.

Speaking to reporters, Domagoso said a police team that included the MPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit broke up the gathering around 5 p.m. to arrest him and the others.

Domagoso claimed that they were manhandled by the policemen, as he showed his injuries before the media cameras.

“What is going on in the city of Manila? We are not doing anything wrong. We are not criminals,” he said. “We were just talking to our supporters. We did nothing wrong because according to Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes, meeting with supporters is not prohibited at this time.”

Backed up by a four-vehicle convoy, Estrada arrived at the station and spoke with Domagoso and others for about 30 minutes. The former president also requested Layug to expedite the inquest proceedings.

Estrada denounced the arrest as “pure political harassment.”

“Of course, somebody ordered it,” he said, albeit without naming names.

But Layug maintained that “nobody ordered us” to make the arrests, and that he might even file additional charges against Domagoso and party apart from illegal gambling.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:20 AM
‘The law applies to all, including the Vice Mayor’—Alfredo Lim

By Totel V. de Jesus


7:35 am | Sunday, February 17th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—“The law applies to all, otherwise none at all.”

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim’s motto had some violators on Saturday and they’re no other than his Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno and five councillors.

Moreno was arrested and detained on Saturday afternoon for allegedly engaging in illegal gambling. Also arrested and detained were Councilors Jong Isip, Joel Chua, Benny Ang, Yul Servo and Maria Asuncion Fuguso.

Servo, like Moreno, is a former actor.

Lim, who is also called “Dirty Harry of Manila” because of his strict no-nonsense adherence to the law, said he learned about the arrest of Moreno and the five councilors on Saturday night when they were in detention already, radio reports said early Sunday.

“Tapos na nung nalaman ko. I learned about his (Moreno’s) arrest when he was in jail already. I talked with General Gutierrez and he told me about the illegal gambling case that the Vice Mayor was involved with,” Lim said in Filipino.

Lim was referring to Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Alejandro Gutierrez who gave the go-signal to arrest and detain Moreno.

In earlier reports on Saturday, Moreno was quoted as saying it was all because of politics. Moreno is running for reelection with former President Joseph Estrada under the United Nationalist Alliance. They are running against the re-electionist Lim and councilor Lou Veloso, who is running for vice mayor, under the Liberal Party.

Lim said it’s not true that the arrest has something to do with politics and the coming elections. “Hindi porke nahalal ka, opisyal ka ng gobyerno, (It’s not because you’re an elected official), you’re above the law. Walang kinalaman ang pulitika dito,” Lim said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay and Estrada visited Moreno close to Saturday midnight to help in his immediate release.

Moreno and the other councillors were discharged past midnight for lack of evidence.

Moreno and the councillors allegedly sponsored a bingo game that reportedly attracted some 500 people in Manila’s Blumentritt area.

A team from MPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit arrested Moreno and other officials. They were detained in MPD’s Quiapo station.

Lim said Moreno admitted sponsoring Bingo games for the last five years. Moreno was quoted as saying that it’s only now such arrest happened when he and Lim are with opposing political parties.

“Idadawit pa nya ako na kasama nya akong nag-sponsor ng bingo nung tandem pa kami ng mga nakaraang taon. Kasinungalingan. Unang-una hindi ako mahilig magsugal. Ang alam ko lang tumaya sa lotto,” Lim said.

Lim said Moreno and his political allies can’t gather people to hear them in their campaign sorties so they resort to sponsoring Bingo games and give prizes.

Supt. Ricardo Layug, commander of the MPD’s Quiapo station, told in radio interviews that the case against Moreno and the councillors are still up for further investigation.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:21 AM
Isko, 4 city councilors freed

By Erika Sauler

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:01 pm | Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The Manila Prosecutor’s Office has ordered the release for further investigation of Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and four councilors (not five as earlier reported) who were arrested by the police on Saturday for sponsoring a bingo game in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Moreno (Francisco Domagoso in real life), Councilors Ma. Asuncion Re Fugoso, Joel Chua, Ernesto Isip Jr. and Yul Servo Nieto, along with former councilor Manuel Zarcal, were initially brought to the prosecutor’s office to undergo inquest proceedings for violating Presidential Decree No. 1602 as amended by Republic Act No. 9287 or the antiillegal gambling law. On top of this, they were also charged with obstruction, assault on an agent of a person in authority and resisting arrest.

However, they were ordered released for lack of evidence by Manila Inquest Division Chief Elaine Yarra-Cerezo around 4 a.m. Sunday, almost 12 hours after their arrest.

Despite their release, Moreno and company were not yet off the hook, according to Supt. Ricardo Layug, commander of the Manila Police District (MPD) Quiapo station.

“They were not simply released but released for further investigation,” Layug told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “It means that instead of holding an inquest proceeding, there will be a preliminary investigation … so they will be summoned again to answer the charges against them.”

In a report submitted to MPD director Chief Supt. Alex Gutierrez, Layug said that when he and his men arrived on Tambunting Street, Barangay 384, Sta. Cruz, the bingo game—which the police said was a form of illegal gambling—had already been stopped by a team led by Blumentritt police community precinct head Chief Insp. Ed Morata. The lawmen gave the councilors permission to hold a raffle instead.

However, one of the councilors apparently called up Moreno who went to the area to question the police’s actions. The vice mayor has been at odds with Mayor Alfredo Lim ever since he agreed to become former President Joseph Estrada’s running mate under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Estrada is eyeing the mayor’s post against Lim who is running for reelection. The four councilors arrested with Moreno, along with Zarcal, are UNA’s bets for city councilors.

Moreno, in a phone interview with the Inquirer, maintained that bingo was not illegal because former President Ferdinand Marcos had signed a letter of instruction exempting it from the anti-illegal gambling law when it is played as a parlor game.

“In fact, you no longer need a permit because of a decision made by the Court of Appeals in May 2012 that there is no need to seek a permit as this is just a parlor game,” he said.

“I’m just wondering why this administration is [focusing its efforts] on us [when] there are illegal bookies for horse racing, video karera and prostitution business operators in the City of Manila that they don’t arrest,” he added.

According to him, councilors have been holding bingo games in the last five years along with medical missions and feeding programs but it was only after they joined UNA that the police started harassing them.

Last week, Councilors Cristy Isip, Richard Ibay, Rafael Borromeo and Ramon Yupangco, along with former Councilor Erick Valbuena, figured in a scuffle with the police over a raffle event in Paco which did not have a permit. The councilors eventually filed a complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Police Commission against Gutierrez and several other policemen.

“Our lawyers are now studying the matter. We will only act within the bounds of the law. We will not take this sitting down, this tyranny at city hall. We will fight them peacefully, justly and without violence and threats,” Moreno said.

“The police said they were just following orders. From whom did it come from? There’s only one [man] who can give such an order,” he went on to say.

In response to Moreno’s insinuation that he was behind their arrest, Lim said in a statement, “That’s the problem with them. They commit a crime and when the police arrest them, they will put it down to politics. The question is did they violate the law or not?”

“The police are there to assert what is right against what is wrong. They cannot just close their eyes because the violator is a government official,” Lim added.

He said he would ask the Commission on Elections if Moreno and company violated the law against premature campaigning because the seized bingo cards contained his name as well as that of Estrada and the other councilors.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:39 AM

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:54 pm | Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Jackie Enrile admits his ratings have been dipping because of the controversies his father has figured in of late. Last month, he registered only 40.4 percent in voter preference in the Pulse Asia survey, a far cry from the 53.2 percent he got in November last year. “Anything that happens to my father,” Jackie said, “will affect me, good or bad.”

Last year of course saw the elder Enrile, Juan Ponce, getting rave reviews from the public. His performance as presiding officer in the impeachment of Renato Corona in particular gave him record rates of public approval, something he hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. A thing he tried to capitalize on by rewriting his role during martial law, mounting that trickery on the 40th anniversary of martial law itself. He launched his book thereabouts.

But swift as the wind, or as retribution, came reminders of what he was. First was his confrontation with Antonio Trillanes after Trillanes accused him of favoring the partitioning of Camarines Sur because he was a Gloria Arroyo man. A thing that quite incidentally seems to have done Trillanes wonders, to go by his current showing. Then his insistence that his ambush in Wack-Wack in 1972 was genuine inevitably met with derision and ridicule, a thoroughly unnecessary provocation since he could have gone on to maintain his post-Edsa stance of a contrite sinner who had seen the light.

It can’t help that Ramon Montańo, the PC general who investigated it and who is now running for the Senate, has called Enrile’s bluff. That ambush, he says, “defies logic.” There was in fact never any ambush, only theater, and not a very good one.

Then came his Christmas gifts to his favorite senators—“lambing,” as he called it—to the tune of P1.6 million per, which his not-very-favorite senators took exception to, having gotten only a “measly” P250,000. That brought him into open confrontation first with Miriam Defensor-Santiago and second with Alan Peter Cayetano, the first calling him a Marcos henchman and the second an Arroyo one. The recriminations have been exceptionally loud and personal, and though neither Santiago nor Cayetano has gone unscathed, neither has Enrile too.

And now comes the car smuggling, a dirty finger thrust at the courts, in Enrile’s brainchild and turf, the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Authority. Giving the public to glimpse what exactly makes it “special.” The no-small irony is that at about the same time this burst into the news, Enrile was accusing Team Pinoy of failing to practice what it preached, its “daang matuwid” was spiked with all sorts of smuggling, particularly rice, meat and oil.

So Jackie’s ratings have been falling along with his father’s increasing fall from grace with the public. But this seeming logic merely hides a humongous illogic, or insanity. Which is: Why is he there in the first place? Why is he running in the first place? Why do we have to contend with his existence in the first place.

Quite simply, Jackie Enrile is the one senatorial candidate that has no substance, essence, reality. He is a shadow, he is a phantasm, he is an apparition. He is the reflected, refracted, redacted image of his father. But of course he will rise or fall according to the popularity/acceptance, or lack thereof, of his father. He has no independent political or electoral existence. A vote for Jackie Enrile is not a vote for Jackie Enrile, it is a vote for Juan Ponce Enrile. A vote for a surrogate, a vote for a proxy, a vote for a straw man.

Who is Jackie Enrile? Apart from my generation, and those who came before, he is a nonentity. He is a cipher. Nobody knows him. Certainly not the post-Edsa babies, certainly not Bam Aquino’s generation. What we did know of him during the martial law years could never have qualified him to run for public office. Hell, what we did know of him during the martial law years could not have qualified him to be running around a free man.

Otherwise the kids, who are most of the voters, know nothing about him at all. He does not represent something, he does not stand for something, he does not constitute anything. You vote, or do not vote, for him not because of what he is but because of what his father is.

Arguably, you can say the same thing about Nancy Binay, as indeed an editorial (“Unqualified,” Inquirer, 2/14/13) did last week. She is there, and indeed very much so there—she vaulted from 12th to 4th almost overnight—not for what she is but for what her father is.

There and then, you have a good definition of “dynasty.” Dynastic politics is nothing more or less than a throwback to the divine right of kings, a divinity that derives from “rightful” succession, a rightful succession that owes to blood. It’s an entitlement that comes not from ability but from kinship, not from qualification but from relation, not from being first-rate but from being first-born, or variations thereof today. It’s not without its sublime ironies, as when Henry VIII drenched England in blood to produce a male heir—unsuccessfully—only to have had all the while a female heir, Elizabeth, that would crown the country in glory. But that’s another story.

That’s what differentiates Jackie Enrile from Bam Aquino, that’s what differentiates Nancy Binay from the Cayetano siblings. Aquino and the Cayetanos have prominent parents or relations too, but they did not come into their own from relying on them. They were their own men, or women, from the start. They were people of substance, of some gravitas, and not just shadowy, fleeting, unreal forms deriving their light, like the moon from the sun, from their forebears. Arguably they started with enormous initial capital or endowment, but they had to apply themselves to much work anyway. They represent reasonableness. The two others just represent nonsense.

Also called dynasty.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:41 AM
^^^ Excuse me, Conrad. But when your parent/s or other forebears were of any political improtance, and you get into politics, you are yourself already a dynast. And if as you say, these political dynasties are a problem, then anyone adding to it, i.e. any Enrile, Binay, Cayetano or Aquino, is guilty of perpetuating, aiding and abbeting in this so-called crime.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:46 AM
The antidynasty campaign

By Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:52 pm | Sunday, February 17th, 2013

People get the government they deserve. What people deserve is expressed through their preferences in an election. We have been having elections since 1987 when the antidynasty provision in the Constitution first appeared, and the people have chosen, administration after administration, their preferences, dynasties and all.

Indeed, there is an antidynasty provision in the Constitution. It was first proposed in the Committee on Local Governments but was rejected there. It was revived during the debates on the Declaration of Principles and State Policies. In those debates, the choice was between passing on the responsibility for laying down an antidynasty provision to Congress and leaving the choice to the people in an election. The Constitutional Commission passed on the responsibility to Congress.

But why did not the Constitutional Commission itself formulate a meaningful antidynasty law? I can recall two reasons. First, it was thought that leaving the choice of government officials to the voters rather than limiting the choice of voters would be the more democratic option. Second, nobody proposed what an antidynasty provision with teeth would look like. Hence, the anti-dynasty provision was buried in the Article of the Constitution whose provisions are generally non-self-executing, thereby leaving it to Congress to do the dirty job. “The State shall prohibit political dynasties … as may be provided by law.”

The power to do something about political dynasties has been in the hands of a series of Congresses since 1987. Nothing significant on the subject has taken place. Why is this so? Aside from selfish motives that might indeed exist, what has prevailed to this day is the reasoning that leaving the choice of government officials to the voters rather than limiting the choice of voters would be the more democratic option.

If Congress were to provide for an antidynasty law, what would it look like? One draft which has been languishing in Congress reads something like this: “Political Dynasty shall exist when a person who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official. It shall also be deemed to exist where two (2) or more persons who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office within the same province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official.”

Unfortunately the people who would be asked to approve a bill like this would themselves come under the definition of dynasts. Look at the list of candidates running for office now.

If Congress, either as a legislative body or as a constituent body, cannot propose a meaningful antidynasty amendment, can a Constitutional Convention do it? There is no clamor for a Constitutional Convention for this or for anything, for that matter.

Realizing perhaps that the desired amendment will not come from Congress or even from a Constitutional Convention, the antidynasty proponents now are asking for amendment directly passed by the people through initiative and referendum. What are the chances of success?

First of all, a definition of what a political dynasty means has to be formulated. Who will do it? The Constitution does not say who will do that for the purpose of the initiative. The conclusion is that anybody can do it. Can the campaigners against political dynasty succeed in agreeing on one formula to be presented to the people? Not very likely.

Let us suppose, however, that the usually independent great minds can agree on a formula, what else is needed.? First, lest we forget, Congress must first pass a law authorizing constitutional amendment by initiative and referendum. In 1997 the Supreme Court ruled that the current Initiative and Referendum Law does not authorize constitutional amendments yet. A contrary Court majority opinion in 2006 was an obiter dictum, that is, not a binding rule.

Second, if and when constitutional amendment by initiative and referendum is finally passed, the approved common formula must be submitted to the people in a referendum. What percentage of the votes cast is needed to bring the matter to a referendum? “Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein.”

Finally, if there is a successful call for a referendum, what percentage of the voting population is needed to ratify the proposal? The Constitution says “a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite.”

No amendment attempt has succeeded yet in this system. Hence, to the antidynasty campaigners I say, “naught have I for your comfort, yea, naught for your desire, save that the sky grows darker yet and the sea rises higher.” That is, unless voter education succeeds first.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 08:48 AM
^^^ That is precisely what I have been saying all this time. How can the democratic option possibly be less choices instead of more choices? And by excluding a particular class or type of people (the relatives of current elected officials) this is also class legislation, prohibited clearly an unequivocally by our Constitution.

"The wisdom of the Constitution is its faith in ordinary people to govern themselves." So said the great political thinker Joe Peci.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 10:25 AM
Political family businesses funded by people’s money


By Sara Soliven De Guzman

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 18, 2013 - 12:00am

In biblical times, the son of a carpenter grows up to become a carpenter, as the son of a fisherman naturally becomes a fisherman. Since time immemorial, this rule of life may have been universally observed, for in the Philippines, we also say – “kung ano ang puno ay siya rin ang bunga”. Thus, the son of a businessman will have to be in business to protect the proprietary interests of the family; the son of a lawyer will have to become a lawyer to take advantage of the sterling reputation built for years by his father; and so forth and so on.

If we can follow the footsteps of our fathers or mothers in their chosen careers, why can’t a son of a politician enter politics? This is the public’s contention when the issue of political dynasties is raised. Will the son or the daughter continue a tradition of public service? Or continue this lucrative, pork barrel or taxpayers’ money-funded “family enterprise”?

Political dynasties were an offshoot of the country’s colonial experience, in which the Filipino elite was nurtured by Spanish and American colonizers. Even after the country gained independence in 1946, the largely feudal system persisted, as landed Filipino families sought to protect their interests by occupying public offices.

One of the perceived evils of the past was the monopoly and perpetuation of power in the hands of a few. We experienced the rule of a dictator who wielded power with impunity, perhaps emboldened by the absence of public accountability for no one could challenge the acts of a ruler of the past, who is also the ruler of the present and will be the ruler of the future. There was corruption; political harassment became ordinary; curtailment of rights and other excesses of political power abound, but the monopolistic political structure permitted these to happen for decades because power was absolutely held by a dictator and a select few, without adequate checks and balances. Then in 1986, shouts of “tama na, sobra na” filled the air as the people took back the power they have allowed the dictator to abuse for 20 long years. We had the chance to start dreaming again, but after 26 years from the awakening, it seems we missed our chance. We still have corruption (which has even worsened), extra-judicial killings, human rights violations, and yes, we still have politicians in power serving the country (or themselves) for more than 20 years. Although personally, I believe that nothing is too long a term for an ideal and complete public servant, assuming there is one.

The Philippine Constitution of 1987 mandates the State to “guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law”. Then Constitutional Commissioner Rene Sarmiento explained that: “By including this provision, we widen the opportunities of competent, young and promising poor candidates to occupy important positions in government.” He noted that most officials come from powerful clans with vast economic fortunes. The idea of democratizing political power by giving equal opportunities to the rich and the poor may appear good, but unfortunately, it will remain just an idea because the Constitutional mandate is non-executory.

Going over the recent dismissal of two petitions on political dynasties filed with the Supreme Court, I was saddened to learn that notwithstanding the Constitutional declaration of the State policy prohibiting political dynasties, we do not have such a thing as a political dynasty for want of an enabling law defining it. How can we expect the present members of the House of Representatives to seriously pass and approve a law that may compromise their political career in the future? Most, if not all, of the present congressmen and congresswomen come from family or families of seasoned politicians or political clans.

Neither can we expect our lawmakers to pick up stones to stone their heads by enacting legislation that would adversely affect their means of livelihood. Thus, even if half of the Senate will come from one family; even if billions of pork barrel funds are put in the control of a clan of house representatives; even if the governor is the wife of the Congressman, who is the brother of the Vice-mayor, who is the cousin of the Mayor, who is the daughter of the Congressman — there is no political dynasty that may be prohibited. What we have here are “family businesses” and political “cottage industries” funded by tax-payer’s money. But unlike the ancient dynasties that impose their powers upon the people on pain of execution, these political family business enterprises are merely offered to us during election time and we have the discretion to reject them.

Political analysts say the dominance of the clans has prevented the flowering of genuine democracy in the Philippines. They say that members of the dynasties have developed a sense of entitlement regarding public positions, while many ordinary Filipinos accept the arrangement as inevitable, which makes it difficult to change the situation.

Hence, you cannot complain if siblings appear to have monopoly of legislative expertise; or if a son “inherits” the public office of his father; or when a family makes city hall their place of residence, because you have patronized their family business by voting them to public office. Understandably, you may prefer a carpenter who is the son of a carpenter, or a doctor coming from a family of medical practitioners, because of the knowledge, skill and expertise they share in the family. But if their ancestors were really good presidents, senators, congressmen or public servants during their time, why is our country still in a sorry state? Can the son do better for the people than the parent did before? Or will the son only continue the family business not for the people but for the family? You have the answers my dear readers. Remember that a business can only survive so long as there are customers supporting it.

Will the coming May elections bring reform to our land? Or merely a perpetuation of what exists? Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara said that dynasties per se are not bad. But he also urged voters to look beyond the candidate’s surname and not give members of political dynasties a “free ride” in the coming elections.

Our neighbors talk about Asian values. We are obsessed with family values. But it seems that the only thing of value is the family. The family that steals together, stays together. Sanamagan! So, vote intelligently because unlike catching fish, public service is not just an ordinary family business.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 08:21 AM
Ex-priest in quixotic quest for governor

By Jonas Cabiles Soltes

Inquirer Southern Luzon

12:25 am | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

MONREAL, Masbate—Soft-spoken and shod in slippers, Fr. Leo Casas, 37, may be waging a quixotic fight for governor of Masbate, but his political foes are certainly no windmills.

Casas, who resigned from the priesthood last year to run for governor, is caught between two feuding political clans in the province—the Khos and the Lanetes—and the outcome may not be pretty for him.

The Khos are fielding their 53-year-old patriarch, Antonio, against the Lanetes’ matriarch, Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, 60, who is seeking reelection.

The stakes are high. A defeat for either Kho or Lanete could weaken or, if not abruptly, end years of political domination in the first-class province with a history of political violence.

What adds fuel to the derby is a standing enmity between the two clans over the assassination of Lanete’s brother, former Rep. Fausto Portus Seachon, in 2008. No one knows who perpetrated the murder, although the clans have traded allegations.

Kho and Lanete are political heavyweights. Kho was governor for nine years before he represented the second district of Masbate in Congress. Lanete was representative of the third district before she defeated Elisa Olga, Kho’s wife, in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

With his rodeo hat, Kho, an engineer, looks like a governor in every aspect. On the other hand, one cannot question the eloquence and charm of Lanete, a former academician.

Casas is a community organizer and deputy chairman of the Regional Development Council of Bicol.

As a diocesan priest and a native of Masbate, Casas is more known for his involvement in the Masbate Advocates for Peace, a Church-led multisector organization that campaigned for violence-free elections in 2010 and which was largely credited then for the drop in bloody incidents in the province.

Before Casas joined the race, it was expected to be a bitter fight between Kho and Lanete.

Change sought

A 38-year-old mother in a slum area at Barangay (villge) Ibingay in Masbate City said she would vote for Casas because she wanted change.

“If Casas will win, the people in our province can also be more religious and united as a result. The reason we have killings here is that people do not have unity,” she told the Inquirer.

But she admitted that Masbate was better off during the administration of Lanete who, according to her, was very accessible and was able to accomplish many things, especially infrastructure projects.

Her neighbor said she would vote for Lanete because there were “visible changes” under the governor.

Her husband, however, is a loyal supporter of Kho. Her late father-in-law, she said, was also a staunch defender of the Khos.

According to her, the men in her life believed that the Khos had done so much for Masbate.

But her mother, like her, will also vote for Casas, believing that a vote for Casas would be a vote for change. However, she said she did not see him getting elected.

“He cannot win against the money and machinery of his two powerful opponents,” she said.


One of her neighbors, a woman, held a similar view.

Some voters in the neighborhood remain undecided, with one saying that money surely would flow in the province during the elections.

A woman said most of the poor would vote for those who could give them money. A police official said vote-buying in the province could go as high as P10,000 per family. A young entrepreneur also said a sure vote from a person could “cost” P5,000.

Her statement was contradicted by her neighbor. “Here in Masbate, we take the money but we vote for the one we like once we are inside the polling booth,” her neighbor said.


The situation in the neighborhood, where people can only speak their political views anonymously “for fear of retribution,” reflects divisions among the electorate, especially with the surprise candidacy of Casas.

Casas is the standard-bearer of the Liberal Party in Masbate but is struggling to stand up against his two opponents because of his meager resources.

“We do not have enough money, although pledges keep coming in. We just go around meeting people with what little we have,” Casas said.

Because of a cash-strapped venture, Casas has been accused of being a spoiler in the race for the top post in the island-province, long under the list of hot spots of the Commission on Elections.

He said he was being accused of being made to run by the Khos to shave off votes from Lanete. “But I am running on my own agenda and I am offering them to the people of Masbate on my own.”

Casas said he has been looking for an alternative candidate “but no one was ready to join the race, so I decided I should run instead.”

Recycled platform

Lanete has accused Casas of running on a “recycled platform” of reforming Masbate. “Those are longtime but past issues that we are changing already,” she said.

Casas admitted that some things are becoming better under Lanete.

“But the things being done are not enough. The focus of the governor is on the infrastructure, on the physical. But we need a reform beyond those things. We need people-centered change,” he said.

He said he missed being a priest but did not regret going into politics.

“I’m starting to realize what situation I put myself in but there is no turning back,” he said.

In a place notorious for election violence, Casas said he understood he was putting his life at risk.

Knowing he could be killed anytime, Casas said he had prepared his last will and testament.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 08:38 AM
Lim hits back at Estrada camp, accuses ex-president of bullying cop NB: Headline edited here because their editor was lazy

By Erika Sauler

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:58 pm | Monday, February 18th, 2013

Over the weekend, reelectionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim was accused of political harassment over the arrest of Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and five candidates for sponsoring a bingo session. But on Monday, his rival, former President Joseph Estrada, was accused of the same offense for allegedly bullying a police officer who arrested Moreno and five others.

In separate press conferences on Monday, Moreno denied that Estrada hurt the Blumentritt police community precinct head, Chief Insp. Ed Morata, while Lim challenged the vice mayor and the councilors to resign if they could not prove that he was behind the arrest.

The word war stemmed from the arrest on Saturday of Moreno, Councilors Joel Chua, Ma. Asuncion “Re” Fugoso, Ernesto “Jong” Isip Jr. and Yul Servo Nieto and former Councilor Manuel Zarcal over a bingo event on Tambunting Street, Barangay 374, Zone 38 in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Moreno, who was accused of taunting Morata and Manila Police District Station 3 commander, Supt. Ricardo Layug, to arrest him, cried harassment, insinuating that the order came from Lim, maintaining that bingo was not an illegal gambling activity and adding that his wife was also being threatened.

Lim held a press conference at the Manila City Hall to set the record straight and stop the “lies” and “drama,” calling in the 14 policemen who arrested Moreno and the five councilors, as well as Morata, Layug and the MPD director, Senior Supt. Alex Gutierrez.

The Blumentritt PCP is under the MPD Station 3 in Quiapo, which has jurisdiction over District 3. Rep. Naida Angping, Zarcal, Councilors Bernardito “Bernie” Ang, Chua, Fugoso, Isip and Nieto, whose names appear on the bingo cards along with Estrada’s and Moreno’s, are opposition candidates in the district.

According to the police, the bingo cards were sold for P10 each with prizes of P5,000, P10,000 and P15,000 in cash.

Morata said he received a call Saturday complaining about the bingo event on Tambunting Street. When he and his men arrived, a staff of Ang negotiated with them to allow the raffle of the prizes instead.

Morata said that when Moreno arrived, he told the police, “Aren’t you afraid that we’ve already filed complaints against DD (Gutierrez) and (Station 5 commander Supt. Ferdinand) Quirante in the Ombudsman and Napolcom?”

The complaint was about the scuffle between the police and District 5 candidates in a raffle event in Paco on Feb. 6.

Layug added that Moreno asked the people, “Papayag ba kayo na hindi ituloy ang bingo (Is it okay to stop the bingo)?” Layug said he warned the vice mayor that he would be arrested. Moreno asked for the “bolilyo” and said “Sinong mang-aaresto? Ako hulihin mo (Who will make the arrest? Arrest me, then).”

“Ibola nyo po para consummated (Raffle it out so the act is deemed consummated),” Layug said. After Zarcal announced the bingo ball “N 44,” the police proceeded with the arrest and a ruckus ensued.

“We secured the councilors when the crowd went unruly. Bottles and rocks were being thrown indiscriminately. That is the reason this kind of activities need permits,” Layug said.

Aside from illegal gambling, the complaint filed against Moreno’s camp included obstruction, assault and resisting arrest.

“They’re saying they were detained for nine hours. Police officers have the right to investigate a person suspected of violating the law. And with the gravity of the offense, they could have been investigated for 36 hours and it would still be within the law,” Lim said.

At the prosecutor’s office around 2 a.m., Morata said that Estrada repeatedly jabbed him while he was being interviewed by Inquest Division Chief Elaine Yarra-Cerezo.

Estrada allegedly told him, “Pag hindi ka nagsabi ng totoo, tatlong buwan ka na lang, pag-upo ko.”

“Sigurado ba syang mananalo sya?” Lim quipped.

“In fairness to Vice President Binay, napaka-professional nya po, sa harapan sya nakaupo,” Morata said.

When asked, Morata said he wouldn’t file an assault case against Estrada. “Ayoko pong masabing namumulitika. Gusto ko lang po malaman ng lahat ang totoo. Hindi po ako namumulitika, at hindi rin po kami tuta ni mayor (I don’t want this to be seen as politicking. I just want everybody to know the truth. I’m not into politics and we’re not lapdogs of the mayor),” he said.

Moreno responded to Morata’s accusation in a separate press conference, “You are forgetting, you’re the one who hurt us. Don’t twist the story. You detained us for nine hours and a half, that’s the truth. And we proved you wrong. The fiscal said you were wrong. And now you will make a story that President Erap threatened you?”

“The truth is we didn’t violate anything. We were released for further investigation due to insufficiency of evidence,” Moreno said.

Major Bernabe Irinco, an aide of Estrada, also said that two persons were between Estrada and Morata, “so his accusation was impossible,” according to the former president’s spokesperson, Margaux Salcedo.

Lim commended the police for doing their job and said he would provide them with lawyers.

“Ang mga pulis sawa na sa demanda. SOP na ng lawyers ng kriminal na kapag inaresto, kinabukasan may reklamo na (The police are fed up with being sued. It is the SOP [Standard operating procedure] of lawyers of a criminal when he is arrested is to file a case against the cops the morning after),” he said.

“Ako hindi na dapat makialam dito, pero dahil pilit idinadawit ang pangalan ko, makikialam na ko. Susuportahan ko tong mga pulis dahil tumutupad sa tungkulin (I shouldn’t have been dragged to this, but since they dragged my name, I will now intervene. I will support the police officers who were just doing their duty),” Lim said.

“Tutal gusto nyo makuha pwesto ko, kapag napatunayan nyo na inutos ko sa tatlong officers na to (referring to Morata, Layug and Gutierrez) na arestuhin si vice mayor at yung limang konsehal, magreresign ako. Pero pag hindi naman nila napatunayan, magresign naman sila. I challenge them with resignation at stake, mahilig lang din kayo sa sugal (Anyway, since you want to take my position as mayor, if you prove that I ordered these three officers [Morata, Layug and Gutierrez] to arrest the vice mayor and 5 councilors, I would resign. But if they can’t prove that, then they should resign),” Lim said.

“Darating pa at magmumura sa presinto (They even came to the precinct and threw curses). What are you trying to prove, that you’re above the law? Na-convict ka na above the law pa (You have been convicted and yet, you think you’re above the law?),” Lim said, alluding to Estrada’s plunder conviction.

Lim denied that he knew about the bingo events held by Moreno and the councilors when they were still allies.

“Dahil daw sa eleksyon. Hinahaluan ng pulitika. Wala akong order. Sila ang namumulitika para mapansin sila ng tao. Wag silang magpaloko sa nagkukunwari, gumagawa ng eksena at drama. Iniinterview sa TV, mukhang kawawa, nagda-drama lang to eh, sanay sa drama (They say that the arrest was related to the elections. They’re mixing politics into this issue. I did not order such a thing. They’re pulling political tactics to gain the attention of people. The people should not be fooled by those out to deceive them, those who are out to create a scene and drama. They make themselves look pitiful when being interviewed on TV. But they’re just creating drama, they’re used to drama) ,” Lim said.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 09:39 AM
Is bingo an illegal numbers game or not?

By Neal H. Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:29 pm | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Politics has transformed bingo, that numbers game popular in low-income communities, into a heated controversy between Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and the Manila police on the one hand, and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and incumbent Vice President Jejomar Binay on the other. Moreno and his councilors had lately been holding bingo games in various communities, obviously to court votes for the May elections. The bingo cards being distributed had the names of Moreno and several councilors printed at the back.

A few days ago, the Manila police raided one such bingo game in the Blumentritt area. The police grabbed pieces of evidence, such as the tambiolo from which the winning numbers are taken, and cards, in the process of which there was a scuffle and the uniform of a policeman and the T-shirt of a Sangguniang Kabataan chair were torn. Several other villagers, including a woman councilor, claimed they were manhandled by the police and slightly injured.

The councilors phoned Moreno for help. He came running and BINGO! The police arrested him. As policemen were taking Moreno to a police car, the villagers grabbed him to prevent his being taken to headquarters. There was another scuffle, but the police eventually won the tug-of-war.

At headquarters, Moreno et al. were confined in a room, not in a detention cell, while they were being fingerprinted and the charges against them prepared. Estrada, Moreno’s running mate in the May elections, arrived to intercede. Later came Binay, the first of the UNA triumvirate (the others are Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile). Moreno and the councilors were charged with illegal gambling nine hours later. The city prosecutor subsequently released them for further investigation, for “insufficiency of evidence.”

Last Monday, Erap, Moreno, Manila councilors and their supporters, were at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel to give their versions of the incident.

The crux of the issue is this: Is bingo illegal? The police say it is. Presidential Decree No. 1602 issued on June 11, 1978, considered bingo as an illegal numbers game that is prohibited. Erap, Moreno et al. say it is legal. RA 9287, passed on April 2, 2004, delisted bingo as an illegal numbers game. Mayor Lim also holds bingo games, they said.

Police: Those games have permits from City Hall.

Moreno et al.: In a decision on the Association of Barangay Councilors vs. Sison promulgated on May 18, 2012, the court authorized the operation of “Bingo sa Barangay” without need of securing permits from any national or local government agency.

Police: If there is betting, then it is illegal. How can you play bingo without paying for your card? That’s where the prize moneys come from

Moreno et al.: The cards were distributed free to the villagers, prizes were not money but household appliances.

Police: The cards have the names of Moreno and some councilors printed at the back. That’s premature campaigning. The campaign period for local candidates does not begin until next month.

Verdict: The culprit is politics. The contest for the top positions in Manila has become bitter, pitting friend against friend, splitting apart former running mates.

Later at the Kapihan, Erap was asked: “You are the kingpin of San Juan. Why did you decide to run for mayor of Manila?”

Erap: “I was born in Tondo, I grew up there. It is now the most decayed part of Manila. I want to help my Tondo brethren.”

Question: “You and Lim were close friends. You even appointed him to your government. His term as mayor is ending in three years. Why did you not just wait for his term to end so your friendship would not be destroyed?”

Erap: “I can no longer wait. Manila is decaying; the people are suffering. I have to do something.”

Question to Moreno: “You are the vice mayor of Mayor Lim; you were running mates in 2010. What made you turn around and fight him?”

Moreno: “Because he refuses to listen to us, the city council. We have given him everything that he asked for in the form of ordinances. But he does not want to reciprocate.”

Question: “Mayor Lim said Manila is being bypassed by developers because of an ordinance limiting the height of buildings there. The developers said they would lose money if they confined themselves to the height limit. Is there such an ordinance?”

Moreno: “Yes, but we will repeal it if he asks us to.”

* * *

KAPIHAN NOTES: Press forums are being invaded by fake journalists, poseurs and pretenders, those we derisively call the “hao shiao.” Yesterday, after I left the Kapihan, Erap called me and said somebody had approached him and told him that I had sent him, obviously for you-know-what.

I told Erap that I had not sent anyone, and to have the impostor arrested. It was a good thing Erap had the presence of mind to verify with me; otherwise, the impostor would have gotten away with his scam.

This is happening not only at the Kapihan sa Manila but also at other press forums. Not only do the hao shiao eat the free food and drink the free coffee, they also follow the guest panelists when they go to the rest-rooms and ask them for “something for the boys.” The polite ones are deceived. And if the one who had approached Erap was foiled, imagine how many could have succeeded.

For this reason, we are limiting admission to the Kapihan to legitimate journalists. Hao shiao, stay out.

Warning to everyone: Be wary of people claiming they were sent by journalists. They must be impostors. No respectable journalist will do that. If they show you a press ID, ignore it. If it is a National Press Club ID, the more you should be wary. The NPC is not the respectable club that it used to be. And the bigger the press ID, the bigger a fake the holder is. Legitimate journalists don’t even need press IDs.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 10:46 AM
NBI agents arrest 2 PCOS ‘manipulators’

By Sandy Araneta and Sheila Crisostomo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two men who passed themselves off as representatives of Smartmatic International Corp. were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) the other day for trying to swindle a mayoral candidate into paying them for rigging election results.

NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas said the suspects, Hadjie Omar Radango Masiding and Sultan Pundatoon Bagul, both from Lanao del Sur, were arrested following the complaint of Abdulsalam Hadji Harun, candidate for mayor of Simunul town in Tawi-Tawi.

The two suspects were arrested during an entrapment operation at the Century Park Hotel in Manila last Monday.

The NBI said the two suspects introduced themselves as engineers of Smartmatic and tried to convince Harun that they could manipulate the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to make him win in exchange for P5 million.

Smartmatic is the sole provider of the PCOS machines to be used for the May 13 elections.

The two suspects allegedly demanded an initial down payment of P2.5 million and the balance to be paid after Harun is proclaimed winner.

When Harun told them that he had no available cash of P2.5 million, Masiding instead demanded P100,000 as payment “for the boys” to work on programming his name into the PCOS machine.

Harun then reported the offer to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which in turn referred him to NBI’s Counter Terrorism Division, which set the entrapment operation for the arrest of the suspects.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes provided his personal money of P100,000 to be used as the supposed down payment. The bills were marked and initialed.

“We have the feeling that these swindlers were really roaming around small municipalities because this is where the candidates are not that aware and they can easily be swindled,” Brillantes said.

As arranged, Harun placed the money inside a brown envelope and proceeded to the hotel’s coffee shop, the venue of the payoff.

NBI agents who were positioned nearby immediately arrested the two suspects after they received the envelope containing the money.

The NBI said the two suspects would be charged with estafa and usurpation of authority before the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office.

Brillantes warned candidates against falling prey to people who claim that they could ensure their victories by manipulating the PCOS machines.

“In the first place, the PCOS machines cannot be manipulated. Therefore anybody who misrepresent that they can manipulate the PCOS machines one way or the other are just swindlers,” Brillantes said.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 10:49 AM
Senate bet offers iPads to public

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Can candidates offer iPads to the public?

This is what the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is trying to find out as one senatorial bet was found to be giving away the expensive gadget through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter in possible violation of election laws.

“We don’t know yet what the actual violation is. We are still checking but it will fall probably under illegal campaigning since they are giving away prizes,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said.

He declined to name the candidate, but a search online showed that the generous bet is former senator Jamby Madrigal, who is running under the Liberal Party-led Team PNoy.

“Speak your mind out about corruption and win an iPad,” Madrigal posted in her Twitter account (@TheRealJamby) last Feb. 15.

“It says that whoever gives the best answer will win the iPad,” Brillantes said of the online “game.”

A winner or winners would be chosen from among participants who complete the phrase, “Corruption is bad because…”

A promotional photo for the game can also be seen on Madrigal’s Facebook account. The site also carries the words “dadadaFriends of jajajaJamby want you to win a Free iPad” and “Contest ends March 12. Winner will be announced March 15.” Those who wish to join the contest may click “like” on Madrigal’s fan page.

Meanwhile, election watchdog Center for People Empowerment in Government (CenPEG) yesterday lashed out at Brillantes for accusing critics of “election sabotage.” – Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 07:51 AM
Court asks Estrada to pay P190M in full

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:45 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The Sandiganbayan is now demanding in full the payment of the P189.7-million judgment cost in the trial of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada six years after he was convicted of plunder.

The antigraft court’s special division, in a resolution dated Feb. 11, ordered its Sheriff and Security Services Office to serve a second “Notice to Deliver on Banco de Oro-Unibank Inc.” to turn over the complete cost, including accrued interest and income held in an investment management account (IMA) in the name of “Jose Velarde.” Jose Velarde is Estrada’s alias.

On Sept. 12, 2007, the court ordered the forfeiture of the deposits in IMA No. 101-78056-1, P545.3 million in alleged illegal gambling payola, and the so-called Boracay mansion in New Manila, Quezon City.

In a manifestation dated Feb. 18, Albert de la Cruz, acting chief judicial staff officer, said that BDO had already transferred to the court sheriff a total of P101.3 million—P98.26 million going to the National Treasury, P1.013 million to the special allowances for justices and judges, and P2.026 million to the Judiciary Development Fund.

Also recovered were 450 million shares of Waterfront Philippines Inc., which the sheriff tried to auction in 2009. The sheriff put off the auction after Wellex Group Inc. filed a case against then Sheriff Edgardo Urieta in the Makati Regional Trial Court, De la Cruz said. The case was later dismissed last year.

De la Cruz told the court that the Waterfront shares should be sold to pay for the unsatisfied balance of P88.4 million from IMA No. 101-78056-1.

“The excess amount of the sale, if any, shall be added to or shall form part of the other amounts which have been ordered forfeited by this court but have not been recovered in full,” he said.

De la Cruz said that only P200 million of the P545.3 million in jueteng payola from the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, along with P15-million interest, had been recovered.

De la Cruz said other assets in the IMA trust account, including a chattel mortgage for P500 million and 300 million shares of Wellex, may likewise be sold if the proceeds from the sale of the Waterfront shares were not enough.

But this may require the issuance of another notice for delivery to BDO, he said.

On Sept. 11, 2007, after a six-year trial, the Sandiganbayan found Estrada guilty beyond reasonable doubt for plunder and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, or a jail term of up to 40 years.

The antigraft court also agreed to consider Estrada’s more than six years in detention as time served for the offense.

A month and a half after the conviction, then President Macapagal-Arroyo exercised her executive clemency powers and pardoned Estrada.

In its decision on Estrada’s plunder charge, the Sandiganbayan ordered the forfeiture of Estrada’s bank accounts and real estate property in Quezon City in favor of the government.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 07:52 AM
‘It still hurts’: Here’s why Grace can’t stand some UNA Senate candidates

By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:53 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

TALISAY CITY, Philippines—Senate candidate Grace Poe-Llamanzares, a daughter of the late actor and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., Tuesday night sounded like she would be taking Cebuanos to task for not voting for her father in 2004.

But she threw the blame for his loss to electoral fraud and not to Cebuanos who gave former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a one-million vote margin over her father in the province.

“Hindi niyo kasalanan kundi kasalanan ng iilan (It’s not your fault but the fault of a few),” said Poe in her speech during the administration Team PNoy’s first rally in Cebu a week after the opposition United Nationalist Alliance’s proclamation rally in the province.

Making amends

Poe said it was time to make things right and called on Cebuanos to vote for the candidates who support President Aquino’s agenda, which is anchored on good governance.

“This is the reason I didn’t stand on another stage in Cebu City, because it still hurts,” she said, apparently referring to her absence from the UNA rally even though she was also included in its senatorial slate, and because the opposition coalition had some enemies of her father as members.

An estimated 1,700 political leaders and supporters gathered in a community gym in Tabunok here to meet President Aquino and 10 Team PNoy senatorial candidates and their proxies.

Braving the rains

Local political leaders and their supporters packed the venue after the rally was moved to the enclosed area due to the heavy rains spawned by tropical depression “Crising.” The original venue was the open space in front of the Talisay City Hall.

The other candidates who braved the rains to make it to the rally were reelectionist Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Risa Hontiveros, Jamby Madrigal and Bam Aquino.

In lieu of bets

Las Pińas Rep. Mark Villar stood in for his mother, Cynthia Villar; 19-year-old Leandro Leviste for his reelectionist mother Sen. Loren Legarda; Magdalo party-list nominee Ashley Acedillo for Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV; and Tootsie Angara for her husband, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara.

Reelectionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was in Cebu Tuesday on a listening tour among furniture makers but failed to make it to the rally.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 08:19 AM
Unlike rival party, UNA won’t bash Arroyo

By Leila B. Salaverria

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:53 am | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Liberal Party’s top honcho may be fond of criticizing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) think there are better things to discuss in campaign sorties.

The UNA members are resuming their group sorties this week with their first stop in Pampanga, the bailiwick of the detained former president, but don’t expect UNA to attack her.

During the proclamation of Team PNoy candidates at Plaza Miranda last week, President Aquino again enumerated the controversies that hounded his predecessor, and said that her minions were still in power.

UNA senatorial candidate JV Estrada said there was no need to keep harping against Arroyo. It would be better if campaigns were issue-based, he said.

“We focus on issues. GMA [the former President’s initials) is a nonfactor. What I’m saying is she’s a nonfactor in what’s happening in our country,” Estrada said in a phone interview.

But he said he believed that Arroyo should be prosecuted posthaste along with her cohorts, although he noted that the cases filed against her by the present administration were being dismissed.

Arroyo replaced Estrada’s father, deposed President Joseph Estrada, after the latter fled Malacańang after a people power revolt cut short his administration.

3 years under Aquino

Another UNA senatorial candidate, Mitos Magsaysay, on Monday said people would rather hear about how officials could help in their day-to-day problems, and resolve issues plaguing the country.

“How will it help people if you keep on hitting GMA? We’re three years into the Aquino administration,” Magsaysay, who used to be Arroyo’s party mate in Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, said in a phone inteview.

Magsaysay also noted an earlier statement by UNA campaign manager Toby Tiangco, who said that Arroyo’s former allies were with the LP now.

In an earlier interview, Magsaysay said the LP’s constant criticism of the former president could backfire. She pointed out that many local government officials now aligned with Aquino used to be with Arroyo.

“GMA gave a lot of assistance, support and goodwill to them to develop their municipalities and provinces. How about the Liberal Party? What kind of help has it given to the LGUs and to the provinces?” she said.

She also said UNA’s leaders, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, had developed plenty of goodwill with local officials due to their long years of public service.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 08:42 AM
^^^ Nonfactor.

What I’m saying is she’s a nonfactor in what’s happening in our country,” Estrada said in a phone interview.

Only from a fellow demogoguic dynast would such sentiments come.

For all of Mrs Arroyo's accomplishments, and only a fool would deny she had her fair share, including some of the economic policies that are actually helping propel the economic growth we are experiencing now, she also still at the very least turned a blind eye, deaf ear and shut mouth to the crimes perpetrated by those around her, not the least of which inculded her husband and ever-loving first born son.

To call her a nonfactor is like calling the return to power of the Marcoses a non-event. Clearly there is something wrong with anybody who would think such things. Mrs Arroyo was president when she admitted to the entire country her "lapse in judgement" which led to her saying the most unbelievable, insincere "I am sorry" in the history of mankind. It should rank right up there with "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" and "I am not a crook" as the most brazen bullshit to ever come out of a politician's mouth.

Those messes overshadowed every good thing she did. And we are still just cleaning up those messes now.

And yet, for JV Ejercito Mrs Arroyo is a nonfactor. That is certainly quite a mouthful coming from the son of the man who Arroyo ousted from a duly elected presidency.

And how about this gem from the immaculate defender Mitos Magsaysay:

“GMA gave a lot of assistance, support and goodwill to them to develop their municipalities and provinces. How about the Liberal Party? What kind of help has it given to the LGUs and to the provinces?” she said.

First of all, every last bit of "assistance, support and goodwill" ever given by Mrs Arroyo were neither from her pockets nor out of the goodness of her little heart. Those were all public funds, and any of it given to the people is but right. For Magsaysay to credit all of that to Arroyo the person is just plain bullshit.

And it was more to keep herself in office, to keep everybody in line with both carrot and stick, that she gave these things. If any of these did indeed "develop their municipalities and provinces" that was at best unintended, and at worst did not even cross Mrs Arroyo's mind for sure. Sitting on a throne of swords was never easy for her, I grant. Yet sit she chose to do, and to blunt all those blades she dispensed out of the coffers of the State.

I would have done the same were I in her position, but please UNA, plis lang, huwag niyo naman kaming pinagloloko ng ganyan, naghihirap pa din ang karamihan sa mga kababayan natin, pero hindi naman sila mga tanga.

If St Gloria Arroyo truly did as much good as you say, she would have stepped down as a beloved president, not as the second most-hated in the history of this country. And don't say that was a PR hatchet job. As president, with all the powers of the State at her command, no PR hatchet job could have painted her administration as darkly as she had herself with a lot of help from her own family.

Since UNA will not take her to task, I guess it only becomes that much clearer that none of these fools deserve to be elected.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 09:08 AM
Now is the time to expose the corrupt

By Peter Wallace

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:26 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Let me take last week’s column a bit further. We have a President who is changing society, or trying to. Political games he plays (successfully, I might add), but a trapo he is not. His “daang matuwid” has resonated in the public arena, and his honest lifestyle is setting an example for many to follow. Attacking corruption at the top is working, but it now has to be expanded. We all know who the corrupt are, so the President now has to widen his net and take them down, too.

And what better time than now, as the political campaign starts, to expose the corrupt so they don’t get elected into public office to continue their corrupt ways? All’s fair in love, war—and politics. So hit them now. I’ll live with it, being only the opposition for now (you can’t, after all, completely expel politics from the equation, sadly), as long as friendships become irrelevant later. That’s what makes great leadership—playing no favorites, the only favorite being the people.

The President has promised to be such a leader, to serve the people and truly clean up this society. He has but three-and-a-bit years to do it. He has to so entrench the desired result that whoever follows can’t undo it, so he needs to widen the net far more quickly. And address where he hasn’t succeeded as yet—the local level. I hear innumerable stories of bribes required to get anything done by local governments. These, too, can be exposed right now so the corrupt local officials are not reelected.

And the entire judicial system has to play its part. Do you know that the current administration has filed 276 smuggling and tax-evasion cases since July 2010 but there has been not one conviction yet? Of the 151 tax-evasion cases, 132 are pending at the Department of Justice, 17 are pending at the Court of Tax Appeals or regular courts, and two have been dismissed. Meanwhile, of the 125 smuggling cases, 16 are pending at the Court of Tax Appeals and the rest are still for preliminary investigation.

It would seem that the bureaucracy is not supporting their President by not attaching any urgency to removing corruption from society.

The business community, or at least the respectable side of it (certainly not the 276), has chipped in to help the President. The local and foreign business chambers have joined together to sign a pledge of doing business honestly, to resist unscrupulous, dishonest government officials. Some 1,600 companies have signed an Integrity Pledge wherein they promise to operate honestly. Of course, anyone can sign anything and still do everything else, but it’s a start. It’s creating an awareness of the benefits of dealing honestly, and one won’t be alone if one does. There are 1,600 others who feel the same way.

Some indications from the Philippine Development Forum in Davao last week give some hope. The DOJ included in its Rule of Law Working Group (ROLWG) not only the Judicial Reform Initiative group (which now has some 17 member-organizations) but also partner-agencies like the Asian Development Bank and the foreign chambers. Among the ROLWG projects is the establishment of an incident/complaint/case monitoring system covering the entire justice system. Various initiatives have been approved by the President through a Cabinet cluster, but these are still in the works. And the Supreme Court is working on automation and greater use of the alternative dispute resolution mechanism, and has established eight mediation centers and accredited more mediators. So some things are happening.

And the business sector has noted improvements in national government agencies. But, the gains of the national government are not showing up in the local government units, where governance and corruption issues remain. These should be known so that in the May elections, the people can vote out the corrupt in favor of the decent.

Yet many, including businesses, are unable to seek redress in the courts because of perceptions of delay and corruption. As I mentioned, there’s the Judicial Reform Initiative that the business chambers have started in recognition of the negative impact of slow—or, worse, influenced—decisions in court cases. It’s a significant reason why investors don’t invest. The Chief Justice has promised her support and cooperation in moving this project forward.

One suggestion is to establish a special court (courts?) to handle business cases. Another is to have “friends of court,” experts in business, to advise judges on the technicality of a case and, in instances where the case is with the Supreme Court, on its possible impact on business in general and on society as a whole.

Many decisions of the Supreme Court are judgmental, as the split decisions show, so the impact beyond the strict interpretation of the law should be among its principal considerations. The decision on the level of foreign ownership in PLDT was such a case. Here, the high court overthrew (in a 10-3 decision) a definition of ownership that had been in place for 75 years for no (in my opinion) sound reason, sending the business community into turmoil. It should reconsider its judgment if it cares for what is best for society.

And what is best for society is what law is all about; it’s the only reason for law. Law is the servant of society and it was created and developed to strive for the harmonious relationship between peoples. A lower court may be constrained to stick to the letter of the law, but the Supreme Court is not, or should not. “WHAT IS BEST FOR SOCIETY” should be its motto.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 09:15 AM
Give unto Caesar

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:28 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The Iglesia ni Cristo will be a huge factor in these elections, say several people. Its leaders have just issued a circular that demands that the “unity vote” be strictly observed.

“With a tight race,” says Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, “the INC blessing and solid vote may play a role for those fighting for the last few slots in the magic 12 since vote differences between these slots can be as little as a few hundred thousand.” Tito Sotto agrees, saying the INC could produce a core base of 3 million votes, which could determine who the top three and last three senatorial candidates would be.

From the other end, the Catholic Church has been warning darkly about punishing the congressional and senatorial candidates who voted for RH. It first issued that warning last December, vowing to continue the fight against “the culture of death” at the polls. It has intermittently reiterated it.

The first question is: Can they?

Well, first the Catholic clout: It hasn’t been evident at all. Certainly, it hasn’t been evident in national elections, not even during the reign of fairly powerful, and popular, Church leaders like Jaime Cardinal Sin. Sin campaigned with Edsa-like fervor against Erap, portraying him as the No. 1 breaker of all the cardinal sins—specifically drunkenness, gluttony, and lust—and did nothing to dent him. It might even have made him more popular, coming off the unceasing diatribe as an endearing rogue.

Of course the Church has shown some clout in local elections, though selectively, though sporadically. RH, however, is not the Church’s best suit. Most of the faithful believe in it, most of the faithful find it the most reasonable—and moral—thing on earth. The Church insists on demonizing the candidates who voted for it, it might produce the opposite effect. It might make the voters sympathize with them more.

The INC is another story. Its clout is far more evident than that of the Catholic Church, which is why candidates woo it ardently. Quite curiously, and revealingly, it wielded tremendous power during Marcos’ and Gloria’s time, both tyrannical times. Of course it was pretty much a nonfactor in the last elections, but that doesn’t mean its clout is gone. It merely means that where the elections are far more “ideological,” or where the lines are more sharply drawn between candidates, such as in epic battles between right and wrong, decency and rottenness, good and evil, that clout isn’t there. But where the elections are far more traditional, or indeed trapo, where the differences between the candidates are blurred, where the choice is between the popular and the obscure, the exciting and the dull, the pogi and the pangit, that clout will be there.

Which is what the May elections are. They are not a fight between right and wrong, good and bad, they are a fight between mostly exchangeable personalities, between Jojo Binay and Mar Roxas. Can the INC shape their outcome? Oh, yes, it can. It can do wonders for the top three and last three senatorial candidates. That is quite apart from the representatives and candidates in the local elections. A “unity vote” of three million is one very big clout.

But which brings me to the second question, and a far more important one: Should we allow them to?

The Catholic case is borderline. The Church wants to vilify those who voted for RH, that is its business. It wants to cajole the faithful into not voting for them, that’s not just its business, though it remains arguable how far it violates the separation between church and state. It may not be condemnable legally, but it is certainly so morally. There’s something despotic about it. You wonder why a secular group doesn’t also launch a campaign calling on all Catholic Filipinos to boycott the priests and bishops who have been shrill in their opposition to RH, indeed who have been using the pulpit to disturb their peace, or torment them. The INC is not borderline at all; without a doubt it tramples on the principle of the separation of church and state. You may no more command a citizen, whatever his faith, to vote for a candidate as you, his religious superior, bid than you may command him to not owe allegiance to the flag on the ground that that diminishes his obedience to God. And yet the INC does it, and does it not just shamefully but shamelessly, not just furtively but openly, not just clandestinely but proudly. Hell, it advertises it. You want to win, come begging before the INC. You want to win big, come crawling to the INC. Of course that comes with a price tag, which you’ll have to pay later on.

It’s atrocious. We’re at pains to root out the practice of “one village, one vote” that often happens in Mindanao, and yet we’re powerless to do something about its equivalent, or worse, “one church, one vote” right in our midst. In fact, we’re not just powerless to do something about it, we tolerate it, we consent to it, we approve of it. Certainly, the candidates do, who troop to their temples that grandly proclaim the dawning of a “New Era”—a new era of what?—hat in hand.

I don’t know why nobody brings a legal challenge to it before the Supreme Court. The evidence is prima facie. It’s immoral, it goes against the very foundation of citizenship, which is the freedom to vote according to one’s conscience. One’s conscience cannot be held hostage to the preferences, or whims, of others in the name of religion. And it is illegal, by all the laws of God and man. The Constitution is clear on it: The church is the church and the state is the state, and ne’er the twain shall cross the line. And Jesus Christ, in whose name the Iglesia ni Cristo has been built, is even clearer on it.

Give unto Juan what is Juan’s, and to God what is God’s.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 09:17 AM
^^^ This "block voting" bullshit is the one overwhelming reason why the INC will forever be nothing more than a personality cult, and only the galactically stupid remain in it or convert into it.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 08:07 AM
Aquino shrugs off junking of 3 common candidates by UNA

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:38 am | Friday, February 22nd, 2013

President Aquino on Thursday shrugged off the junking of common senatorial candidates Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Grace Poe by the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

“From Day One, we’ve embraced these three candidates wholly. Figuratively ha, figuratively. We’re not saying anything on what UNA wants to do. We’re in a democracy; that’s up to them,” the President told reporters in Iloilo City in an interview aired over government-run radio.

Regardless of UNA’s move, Aquino said he and his 12 handpicked candidates were busy campaigning.

“We believe that our candidates will push for our agenda. Remember, they have six years’ term, so even by the time that I stepped out of office these are the people who can continue the transformation of our country,” he said.—TJ Burgonio

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 09:25 AM
‘Is that bad news?’ Escudero asks; Poe laments decision

By Maila Ager


11:19 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – “Is that bad news?” was how Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero commented in jest when asked to react on the decision of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to drop him and two other candidates from its slate.

While he said it was a big “loss” for him, Escudero said he had no choice but to respect UNA’s decision.

“Karapatan nila yun, rerespetuhin ko ano man ang desisyon meron sila subalit sa panig at parte ko bagaman malaking kawalan yun, wala akong magagawa kung yun ang nais nilang gawin,” Escudero said in an interview on radio Thursday, shortly after UNA made the announcement.

“Basta ako ipapagatuloy lang namin ang klase at uri ng pangangampanya na paniniwala namin ay dapat at napapanahon.”

“Hindi naman pwedeng diktahan ka sa bawat at hindi mo pwedeng gawin at sabihin sa kampanyahan pa lamang baka lalo na pag nasa pwesto ka na,” Escudero added.

And when the anchor said they would move on to a better topic, the senator commented in jest, “Ah bad news ba yun?”

Former MTRCB chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares, in a separate interview, expressed sadness over UNA’s decision although she insisted that no condition was imposed on her when she accepted UNA’s invitation to be part of its senatorial ticket.

“Syempre nakakalungkot kasi yung pagkaimbita naming sa akin o pagka-adopt naman sa akin sa UNA wala namang kondisyon sa pagkakatanda ko,” Llamanzares said.

She said it was former President Joseph Estrada, who was close to her late father Fernando Poe Jr, who had offered to help her in the campaign.

“Hindi naman nila ako sinabihan na ia-adopt ka namin pero kailangang magkampanya ka. Wala naman ganun,” she said.

Senator Loren Legarda, who was also dropped by UNA, has yet to comment.

Escudero, Poe and Legarda are all running under the administration’s Team Pnoy.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 09:26 AM
The token opposition

By Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:14 pm | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Apparently fed up with the opportunistic straddling of two horses of three of its senatorial candidates in the May elections, the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has dropped Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda and political neophyte Grace Poe-Llamanzares from its Senate ticket.

The UNA campaign manager, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, announced that the three were dropped for failing to meet their commitments. None of them appeared in the UNA’s provincial rallies, including its proclamation rally in Cebu City, a vote-rich opposition bailiwick.

The three had earlier been warned to show up at the rallies to confirm their loyalty to the UNA. Legarda and Llamanzares had only sent proxies in a token gesture, raising questions on whether they were in the opposition camp or candidates/stooges of the administration’s Team PNoy. The UNA has lambasted Escudero for failure to even send a proxy. Legarda did send a proxy, but showed up at the Liberal Party-led Team PNoy proclamation rally in Plaza Miranda. To the voters who seek a definition between the opposition and administration teams, the loyalty of the three, who are running as common (or shared) candidates of the two major lineups, remains a puzzle.

Legarda and Escudero are the front-runners—first and second, respectively, in the recent Pulse Asia survey (Jan. 19-30).

Whether or not Legarda’s and Escudero’s double dealing will affect their rankings in the next survey is a matter of conjecture, but the UNA leaders have shown their disgust over their guests’ dubious commitment to the opposition’s cause. The concept of guest candidates straddling both the administration and opposition tickets has been one of the more undesirable features of the Philippine party system since the two-party setup (comprising the Liberal and Nacionalista parties) of the pre-martial law political system, and has now been abused in the post-Edsa multiparty system.

The Liberal Party has hoped that the adoption of opposition candidates with high survey ratings in the administration lineup would enhance its chances in making a 12-0 sweep in May and ensuring the administration’s control of the Senate, which is historically an opposition-inclined chamber of Congress. But the administration’s uneven record of economic management has come under fire for promoting economic growth without creating jobs and alleviating poverty. Thus, common candidates taking advantage of the administration’s resources may also be affected adversely by the criticism of its economic performance.

The fragile structure of the Team PNoy coalition, composed of the Liberal Party, Nacionalista Party and Nationalist People’s Coalition, surfaced the other day, when former lawmaker Mark Cojuangco, the chair of the NPC in Pangasinan, was reported in Manila Standard Today to have announced that its alliance with the administration has ended over intraparty differences on local candidates. The NPC, founded by businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., is the biggest party in the Team PNoy coalition; its withdrawal can precipitate the disintegration of the alliance.

According to the report, the announcement of Mark Cojuangco sent Liberal Party officials scrambling to save Team PNoy from unraveling in the midst of the election campaign, and President Aquino intervened to “iron out the kinks.” Following the intervention, the LP officials said the alliance with the NPC “remained strong despite differences at the local level.”

Sen. Vicente Sotto III of the NPC revealed some sources of the provincial disputes. He said that many NPC members had become disgruntled at the LP decision to field its own candidates in local government units where incumbent NPC-affiliated officials had been campaigning for reelection. “If there is a coalition with the LP, how come the administration is fielding candidates in areas where the incumbent NPC officials are also running?” Sotto said. He said many of his party mates had complained to him that the coalition supposedly forged among the LP, NPC and NP had not been honored at all.

The tone and issues of the campaign have been set by the President as a translation of his “daang matuwid” (straight path), which is more of a moralistic exhortation than an ideological or policy direction. Members of the Team PNoy coalition have not criticized the Aquino administration’s economic performance in the rallies, and the midterm elections are supposed be a referendum on Mr. Aquino’s performance during the first half of his presidency. He has, at the start of the campaign, called for a clear definition between the administration’s coalition and the opposition alliance in terms of issues, policies and programs. This crystallization of the debate has happened in the campaign.

The guest candidates shared by the contending tickets have not criticized the economic performance of the administration and have all declared themselves apostles to continue its claimed accomplishments in the remainder of the President’s term.

The UNA has also not acted as a critic of the administration’s performance. Its officials claim they are all behind the President for the continuity of his direction. The opposition has not presented an alternative political and economic program to offer the electorate a real choice. It has become part of this farce of the “yellow army” ideology.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 09:33 AM
^^^ Doro, how can the top two consistent survey leaders of this election season be "opportunitstic"?

If anything, was it not UNA that was being opportunistic in getting them as "common candidates"?

For godsakes, did you not yourself note at least one other time that Escudero and Legarda do not really need to affiliate themselves with any part since they are doing fine on their own? These two could really just keep doing the whole talking heads and sound bite routine without any actual hustings and still win, and be among the Top 6 vote-getters.

To be clear, I don't particularly care for either of these two, as I think they are nothing more than power junkie demogogues, especially the avariciously ambitious Escudero. Still, these two don;t need any party as much as any party would be only too happy to have them.

Sam Miguel
02-26-2013, 08:38 AM
Lesser evil

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:32 pm | Monday, February 25th, 2013

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has finally dropped the three “common candidates,” Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda, and Grace Poe Llamanzares. “We tried our best to accommodate them,” said UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco. “We know that the LP, through Sen. Franklin Drilon, has warned them repeatedly about joining our election activities. We have held on to their assurances that they will join us sooner or later. (But) public statements have been made by at least one of them ruling it out.”

So goodbye and good luck.

Well, it’s not the stuff of drama, it’s the stuff of melodrama. It’s the story of a kabit, or mistress, who doesn’t mind sharing somebody else’s husband and the jealous wife who would hear nothing of it—stick to home or leave, it’s one bed or none at all. The shared husband of course being the common candidates, the kabit being UNA and the jealous wife being Team PNoy. With no small ironies: “Una” means first, but which in this story doesn’t greatly mind being second. An arrangement Erap, who is one of the guiding lights of UNA—if having a harem is a natural qualification to being a light—is thoroughly familiar and literally at home with.

What in God’s name did the two “coalitions” disputing the contest think when they adopted the “common candidates” to begin with? That come the campaign period, Escudero, Legarda and Llamanzares would appear in Plaza Miranda with P-Noy and his team, and in Cebu with Jojo Binay, Erap and Juan Ponce Enrile and their group during their miting de avance and in various sorties afterward? That when the Team PNoy candidates hurled accusations of corruption and opportunism against UNA, and UNA did the same thing to the Team PNoy candidates, they would join in the chorus or smile in sheepish agreement? That when the photographers and cameramen came to take photos and videos, they would pose, arm-in-arm, kapit-bisig, alternately with the candidates of Team PNoy and those of UNA, vowing eternal unity, walang iwanan, death to their enemies?

The existence of the “common candidates,” however that existence has now been terminated, exposes the utter silliness of the coming elections. Coming off from the elections of 2010, which had principle, conviction, belief, idealism, passion, loftiness written on every furrow or wrinkle of them, this is a fall so spectacular you can hear the thud from here to Sabah.

Team PNoy had a chance to make itself look good by drawing a sharp line between itself and UNA by hewing to the spirit of 2010. Instead, it forsook principle for expedience, idealism for pragmatism, taking on presumably “winnable candidates” like Cynthia Villar and Jamby Madrigal and adopting the “common candidates” who are now solely theirs. Neither has greatly helped. The first two are not doing particularly well, which is no surprise. Pinoy voters may not react strongly to ideas but they react strongly to perceived disloyal behavior. Tito Sotto lost in 2007 by running under Gloria’s party after being Da King’s campaign manager in 2004.

And though the erstwhile “common candidates” are virtual shoo-ins, their existence has not been good for the PNoy team as a whole. The voters are not going to miss the irony of the name “PNoy” affixed to a team that has Loren Legarda as its leading candidate. They would be hard put to reconcile it with “daang matuwid,” with all its connotations of straight and narrow, fervent dedication and unswerving loyalty.

As things stand, the only thing that commends Team PNoy, or at least some of its members, to the voters, is not that it is a lot better but that UNA is a lot worse.

Hell, the latter is positively scary.

At the very least, that is so because it is a hodgepodge of political stragglers, former Arroyo loyalists who once vowed undying loyalty to her (such undying as defined by people like Enrile) and one candidate who has no business being a candidate at all, having made a mockery of elections. That candidate is Migz Zubiri, an ex-senator who got ex-ed because he was found out to have no right to be senator at all. Specifically, for cheating Koko Pimentel of four years of his life, or his post. Officially of course Zubiri was not kicked out of the Senate, he resigned. But only because the noose was tightening, he dodged it by going away—and not without portraying his departure as a noble act.

It is a testament to the political culture that the public bought it, that Erap, Zubiri’s patron, lambasted Koko instead for having no pakikisama because he wouldn’t let bygones be bygones and sleep with the enemy. It is a testament to the political culture that Zubiri should be clinging to the Magic 12 instead of being dismissed outright by the electorate. Zubiri alone is the single biggest argument against voting for UNA. What kind of governance can be offered by a group that is perfectly willing to bless and reward electoral fraud?

At the very most, that is so because UNA’s leadership is scary. Enrile, Erap, Binay: The first distinguished himself for serving faithfully or faithlessly, take your pick, the two most illegitimate, corrupt, tyrannical leaders in this country’s history. The second was ousted by the people for corruption in every possible way, not least rottenness and decay, which was the state he brought government to, and was subsequently convicted by the courts for it. And the third, well, he has been just as willing to trade principle for expedience, decency for compromise, if not more so. He has made his bed, he should lie in it.

What is this, these are the people we want to entrust the country to? What is this, after P-Noy come the Three Stooges? No, these elections do not present a choice between good and bad, decency and rottenness, loftiness and lowliness.

It’s just a choice between lesser evils.

Sam Miguel
02-26-2013, 08:39 AM
A fabulous P300-M war chest

By Dr. Antonio J. Montalvan II

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:50 pm | Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Have we progressed or have we degenerated in our conduct of elections? Voting and vote count have now gone automated, though belatedly. But that we can now determine victor and vanquished in less than a day is something not to crow about before the league of nations, many of which have been into this cutting edge generations ahead of us. But we are already there, to say the least.

The Aquino administration has instituted a revamp of the voters’ list in central Mindanao, where the senatorial tailender used to be decided. That is progress; may the revamp be satisfactory enough to correct what had been a grave abuse of electoral will. But that we need to see in the long run. May it finally delete all fictitious names, flying voters and resurrected dead used in vote-padding that had, in past elections, been the last resort for fictitious winners.

But there are other elements in our electoral exercise that even automation cannot address. Dynasticism is certainly not the least significant of them. What we see in the current senatorial lineups are only the tip of the iceberg. At the local level, it is more blatant. Which town or city does not have the wife or husband or son or daughter or mother or father or brother or sister to replace the outgoing incumbent? Even lolo and lola have joined the fray.

“We are not a dynasty; this is not succession but election; it is the people who decide” should by now be a discarded run-of-the-mill answer. Dynasts must have better answers for an electorate that has grown conscious of its rights. It may take time for Filipino society to correct that flaw, for a flaw it truly is. The same family names and bloodlines in power already create, wittingly or not, an inherent limitation to those challenging members of political dynasties in power.

Let’s face it. Elections in the Philippines are not decided by votes but by the highest bidder. And the highest bidder is the one who holds the richest purse, who is no other than the holder of the public coffers.

Despite the automation and PCOS machines, Philippine elections are not yet free.

In our Manila-centric culture where the presidency and the senatorial elections are looked up with much awe and hence draw more government and media attention, we often forget that it is in local elections where the voter is largely disenfranchised—when he is “led away” from casting an honest ballot.

The Commission on Elections has recently announced it will soon release a resolution that will address the crime of vote-buying.

It is a fact that in local elections, vote-buying is still rampant. It is one age-old moral wrong that has not been corrected to this day. “Until now no one has ever been jailed for it,” says Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. It is even the deciding factor in elections for the Sangguniang Kabataan. Yes, we start our future leaders young in the ways of corruption.

The Comelec must know that in local elections, talk of the highest bidder is neither both fable and gossip nor fantasy. It is being bandied about by local parties in a brazen display of political hubris.

The strong arm of the Comelec must extend to the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. In local elections, vote-buying is so common, it is talked about matter-of-factly, but Manila up high does not get to hear it because the talk on the ground is drowned by the noise generated by its own power struggles, like an arrested Isko Moreno getting aggressive support from a clearly incoherent former president. It is silly. But the real pettiness lies in local contests where petty tyrants are so often created election after election, and this the Comelec has failed to address. It is a moral wrong that our national system, ever fixated on Manila-based politics, overlooks.

In the city where I vote, there is talk about a very huge war chest of a long-entrenched politician (15 years in power). But it did not seemingly emanate from malicious sources. One of Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente Emano’s councilors in fact started the rumor when he revealed to an opposition councilor that their camp was awash with P300-million in campaign funds allegedly amassed from Tropical Storm “Sendong” donations. A campaign with that much in cash? The implications of vote-buying are staggering.

Even before the cash gets distributed (and barangay chairs reportedly will be part of the distribution scheme and thus will benefit big from the largesse), think of how many voters are already being disenfranchised at this point. An informal survey conducted among persons-on-the-street as to who they will vote for generated the classic answer: “It depends on who will give the higher amount.”

In such a scandalous situation, what can the Comelec do? Brillantes has promised that the resolution on vote-buying will come out 10 days before the May 13 elections. The PCOS machines may count correctly, but they can never identify which votes had been sold.

But from where I vote, elections have always been decided this way, they say. When will this all end? I am asking this for the country, not just for my own hometown’s parochial interest.

Sam Miguel
02-27-2013, 11:45 AM
Educating voters

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:25 pm | Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

The latest Social Weather Stations survey hints at an electoral landscape in a wild flux. Just last January, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate Jack Enrile, son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, was riding high in the poll with a 46-percent rating, ranking 8-9 in the senatorial derby. Now he’s down to rank 13, with a 38-percent survey rating.

What happened? We can make some guesses. The ugly word war his father waged in the Senate against fellow senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Miriam Defensor-Santiago has all but dissipated whatever august glow of statesmanship and public approval Enrile had gained from his masterful handling of the Corona impeachment trial.

Recall that Enrile fils’ name began ascending in the poll only in the wake of his father’s deft performance in that avidly watched spectacle. The erudition displayed at the trial by the 88-year-old Senate President was apparently sufficient to ensure his son’s ersatz viability as senatorial material, never mind that the latter was hardly heard from throughout his stint in the House as representative of Cagayan. UNA appeared to have figured that voters would unthinkingly conflate the two names—voting for the father when in fact they would be voting for the son.

And for a while, that cynical strategy seemed to work. Jack Enrile rode high in the poll, and the father was dismissive of criticism that his son had nothing to offer beyond shared-name recall. But now, after the noise and fog of the Senate President’s inelegant squabble with his fellow senators, the casualty, it would seem, is not Cayetano or Defensor-Santiago, but the Enriles who had banked their political survival on the father seamlessly transferring his power and dominion, as if by royal heredity, to his heir-designate. After that all-too-brief moment of distinction at the impeachment trial, Enrile’s coin is back to its grubby, common shine and, increasingly along with it, the self-entitled aspirations of his son.

Is this proof that the electorate isn’t as easily fooled these days? Might we now conclude that voter education—however haphazard it is, but in truth alive, active and independently driven through the social media and other forms of communication—is slowly but surely doing its bit to help voters discern and eventually choose the substantive candidates?

Not quite. The SWS survey also finds that, while Jack Enrile’s name is on the slide, that of his partymate, Nancy Binay, a daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, is still on the upswing, from 43 percent in January to 47 percent in February. That makes her the highest-ranking UNA candidate at present, and clear proof that if name recall may not be working so well with the Enriles, it’s working spectacularly with—for—the Binays.

We’ve noted this before, and it bears repeating: Nancy Binay has neither served in an elective or appointive office nor run a company or a nongovernment organization, and until very recently, has not championed a public-oriented advocacy or taken a stand on a political issue. When asked to identify her electoral advantage, the Vice President candidly replied: “She’s my daughter.”

So why is she scoring high in the surveys? Because her father does. Because, three years ago, her father pulled off possibly the most startling upset in Philippine electoral history—snatching the vice presidency from a smug Mar Roxas with a resonant campaign spin based on his thriving fiefdom (of which his son is now overlord).

Binay’s record of largesse in Makati—free medicines, movies and birthday cakes for senior citizens, free education for children, free health care for indigents, etc.—is a powerful attraction for many voters anxious only for the “gut issues” of food, shelter and family welfare. Binay could wantonly emblazon his initials on just about every public project in Makati, but the electorate didn’t mind; he dispensed bread and gifts, which were all that mattered to many. The promise was that what was done in Makati can be done nationwide. And now his (hitherto unheard-of) daughter is deployed as the reaffirmation of that promise, merely on the strength of the family name.

No, much remains to be done to continue to educate voters to separate substance from form, real issues from easy palliatives. There is still time, but barely. Everyone must get the word out on the deserving candidates, but especially on those who are not.

Sam Miguel
02-27-2013, 11:47 AM
Why UNA Senate slate is hurting: ‘Big 3’ hit

By Christian V. Esguerra

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:26 am | Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Having three leaders is making the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) an easy target.

By former President Joseph Estrada’s reckoning, it appears that forces identified with the Aquino administration were trying to link UNA’s “Big 3” to controversial issues to ensure the defeat of its senatorial candidates in the May 13 midterm elections.

“Iniisa-isa na kami (They’re going after us one by one),” Estrada told the Inquirer in an interview.

He said the controversies involving the Big 3 contributed to the poor showing of UNA senatorial candidates in the latest Social Weather Stations survey.

Only three UNA candidates—Nancy Binay, San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito and former Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri—landed in the Magic 12.

“It really affected them,” he said.

2 major issues

Estrada cited two major issues raised recently against Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a member of the UNA Big 3 along with Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Enrile, whose son Jack is running for senator under UNA, was in hot water for unequally distributing Christmas cash gifts to 21 other senators. Four of them got only P250,000 each, while the rest were given P1.6 million each.

Among Enrile’s most vocal critics in this episode was Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is seeking reelection under President Aquino’s Team PNoy ticket.

More recently, Enrile’s pet project, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, was put in the spotlight for the importation of hundreds of used cars and vans for resale in the country despite a ban.

COA’s scrutiny

As for Binay, his wife Elenita is facing graft charges in the Sandiganbayan over the allegedly fraudulent bidding for a P72-million supply contract when she was Makati mayor in 2001.

A separate house project during the Vice President’s term as mayor is also being scrutinized by the Commission on Audit.

Estrada has problems of his own. He is running for Manila mayor against incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim, a member of the President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP).

He is facing disqualification cases, while his running mate, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, was arrested over a bingo affair.

Estrada said UNA leaders would meet next week to strategize on how to respond to the purported campaign against the Big 3. But he was careful not to link the President to the campaign, saying he was convinced it was the handiwork of those in the Liberal Party.


Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA campaign manager, said the SWS survey might be meant to “condition the minds of the public about the outcome of an election that will be decided only on May 13.”

“Expect the LP to begin its ‘trending’ operations and pursue their mudslinging not only against our candidates but our leaders,” he said in a statement.

“It is too premature for the LP to gloat …. The only way the LP can dominate 2013 is by resorting to the tactics employed by the Arroyo administration in previous elections. This is the reason why we find in the LP roster known special operators of the discredited regime.”

Sam Miguel
02-27-2013, 11:51 AM
^^^ I think the best way to overcome the poor showing in the surveys is for these so-called 3 Kings to face these charges and beat them, instead of crying "it's all politics" all the time.

Johnny Enrile will have a hard time getting out of the last muck he drew up himself, thanks to Port Irene and his unequal Christmas "lambing".

The Binays have their own skeletons, and it is well known in Makati but to which Makati turns a blind eye, deaf ear and shut mouth, of course due to the Binays' demagoguic largesse.

And finally Erap, the convicted plunderer and deposed president. For cryin' out loud, that you ran for mayor of a city to which you do not belong is the height of ego.

Sam Miguel
02-28-2013, 07:58 AM
COA: 3 senators’ pork went to bogus NGO

JPE, Estrada, Revilla tied to P195-M scam

By Cynthia D. Balana, Norman Bordadora

2:09 am | Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Some P195 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of three incumbent senators and a former congressman went to a questionable nongovernment organization in 2011, according to a report of the Commission on Audit (COA).

The PDAF, a pork barrel that funds pet projects of members of Congress, is a known source of kickbacks for lawmakers. Yearly, a senator is entitled to P200 million in PDAF and a member of the House of Representatives, P70 million.

The audit report identified Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. and then Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde as the sources of the P206 million in PDAF for the Department of Agriculture that was released in several batches in 2009 and 2010.

Of the amount, P201 million was turned over by the agriculture department to ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC), a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC), which in turn transferred P194.97 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI).

Of the amount received by PFI, P74.69 million came from Enrile’s pork barrel, P106.7 million from Estrada’s, P9.7 million from Revilla’s and P3.88 million from Velarde’s, the COA said.

The COA report further said that the financial statements and income tax returns from 2006 to 2008 indicated that the government was PFI’s only source of funding.

Estrada seeks probe

Estrada confirmed that part of his PDAF went to the foundation during the Arroyo administration.

Estrada wants an investigation of how his PDAF was spent if indeed PFI was a bogus NGO.

Enrile withheld further comment until he had checked his records.

“I cannot make a statement. I will have to check records and facts,” he said in a short reply coursed through his media staff.

First time

“This is the first time I heard about ZNAC Rubber Corp. and Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc.,” he added.

Revilla gave no comment. He sent word that he had yet to go through the records.

The COA said the offices of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Velarde all nominated the PFI as the beneficiary of the funds to implement its claimed livelihood projects.

Sought for comment, Enrile said this was the first time he heard of ZREC and PFI.

The ZREC is involved in commercial crop production, particularly rubber.

It operates a plantation on a 1,000-hectare property in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte province. The ZREC uses the land owned by Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College, under a usufruct agreement for 50 years.

The ZREC was formally incorporated and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 17, 1984. In 2010, it was on the list of 36 “underperforming” GOCCs that Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez wanted abolished.

Fake documents

The COA report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC to require PFI to refund P162 million “due to fabricated documents and forged signatures” it submitted for the liquidation of funds received from ZREC.

The COA also recommended that ZREC inform Enrile et al. “that PFI should no longer be granted any fund assistance and have it blacklisted.”

Livelihood projects

State auditors raised doubts on the legal personality of the recipient nongovernment organization which claimed to have been implementing livelihood projects and programs in Ilocos Norte in Luzon; Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Aklan and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Camiguin, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City and Basilan in Mindanao.

Office address

The PFI listed its office address as No. 050 D&E Building on Roces Avenue corner Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. Its previous address was No. 31 Ignacio Avenue, North Susana Executive Village, Matandang Balara, Quezon City.

The COA report noted that PFI had five tax identification numbers (TIN) based on different documents submitted to various government agencies.

For example, PFI’s certificate of incorporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had TIN 006-728-526 but a different TIN 229-081-506 was reflected in the general information sheet, which it also submitted to SEC.

In the PFI’s certificate of registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue dated April 26, 2007, it had TIN 251-538-626-000 but used TIN 026-723-526 in its income tax return for 2006 to 2008. However, a copy of PFI’s purchase request obtained by auditors showed its TIN as 004-574-001.


“Based on the information above, the validity and accuracy of the documents submitted by PFI were doubtful which also put to question its legal personality,” the COA report said.

COA auditors had asked ZREC to explain the discrepancies in the information when informed of the audit findings but the auditors were told that ZREC could no longer contact Petronila A. Balmaceda, PFI president, and that she had not replied to its letter dated Jan. 27, 2011.

In PFI’s income tax return (ITR) for 2007 and 2008, the report said PFI paid an identical amount of P17,500. PFI declared P1.75 million in total income tax payable because it was indicated in the ITR that its tax payments for the first three quarters amounted to P1,732,500, the report said.

“However, there was no deferred income tax or prepaid income tax of P1,732,500 and income tax payable of P1,750,000 reflected in the financial statements for CY 2007 and CY 2008 which cast doubt on the ITRs and financial statements submitted,” the COA said.

No liabilities

In 2007, PFI declared total assets of P5,668,594. However, there were no recorded liabilities, thus the fund balance was equal to the total assets.

“Likewise, total receipts and disbursements for CY 2007 amounted to P48,000,000 and P43,000,000, respectively, thus excess of receipts over disbursements amounted to P5,000,000. The above amounts were also the figures indicated in the CY 2008 financial statements.

“In short, the financial statements for CY 2007 and CY 2008 were the same,” the report said.

It said that from the financial statements for 2006 to 2008 submitted by PFI, there was no property, plant and equipment account, “thereby casting doubt as to how the foundation operated its business without any office equipment, furniture and fixtures which are essential in carrying out the day to day operations of a company.”

Unqualified for state funds

Neither was there a declaration of PFI’s other related business, if any, “prompting auditors to declare that from the start, PFI should not have qualified for entitlement as a recipient of government funds even if it was nominated by Senators Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Congressman Velarde to implement the programs/projects.”

The report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC that it request PFI to justify “why the water pumps, hand tractors, composting facilities, planting materials and vegetable seeds were purchased from supplier which were very far from the location of the projects.”

Estrada said he didn’t know the people behind PFI but acknowledged that it was an organization accredited by the Department of Agriculture.

“It was the DA that recommended it (to be a beneficiary of my PDAF),” Estrada told the Inquirer.

Before Aquino administration

Estrada said this was “way back” before President Aquino took office in 2010.

“Our function is only to identify projects. The funds never passed through us. That’s the case for all of us senators,” Estrada said.

On the report that the NGO was bogus, Estrada said: “Now, I want to join the investigation… I want to know where the people’s money went.”—With a report from Inquirer Research

Sam Miguel
03-01-2013, 08:09 AM
Senate to call pork probe

Release full report, Enrile tells COA chief

By Norman Bordadora

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:01 am | Friday, March 1st, 2013

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada wants to investigate the misuse of his own pork barrel that the Commission on Audit (COA) says went to a bogus nongovernment organization.

“We need to unmask those who benefited from this scheme,” said Estrada, who himself was linked to payoffs from jueteng operators during the short-lived administration of his father, former President Joseph Estrada.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who was embroiled in the controversy over turning millions of pesos in maintenance and other operating expenses into gifts last Christmas, is claiming ignorance of the recipient of his pork, also called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Estrada and Enrile were reacting to an Inquirer banner story about a COA report that found some P195 million in PDAF allocations in 2009 and 2010 of four lawmakers—Enrile, Estrada, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. and Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde—went to Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI).

The COA said that PFI fabricated documents and forged signatures for the liquidation of the funds and that the PFI president, Petronila A. Balmaceda, could no longer be reached.

Every year, senators are allotted P200 million in PDAF and members of the House of Representatives, P70 million, for their pet projects. The PDAF is a known source of kickbacks for lawmakers.

Quoting news reports, Estrada said ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) received P106.7 million of his PDAF late in the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. ZREC, a government-owned and -controlled corporation, then transferred the money to PFI.

Enrile confirmed the COA report that he identified livelihood projects to be funded by his PDAF in Ilocos Norte, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Camiguin but denied that he nominated ZREC and PFI to receive the funds and implement the programs.

“What I designated were the LGUs [local government units]. And I do not know why ZREC had to transfer the money to Pangkabuhayan Foundation whatever that is,” Enrile told the Inquirer.

“At that time, the lawmakers were informed by the agriculture department this NGO was a legitimate organization and that our pork barrel would be used to benefit thousands of farmers,” Estrada said in a statement.

Arthur Yap

Estrada wanted to find out from former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and the ZREC board “why they channeled the taxpayers’ money to this bogus organization.”

“We’ll work with COA and we’ll open our books to get to the bottom of this. I won’t allow my office to be used as a conduit for debauchery, decadence, dishonesty and depravity,” the senator said.

Asked about the agriculture department and ZREC’s role in the use of the four lawmakers’ PDAF, Yap, now a Bohol representative, said: “I do not recall the name of that foundation, but senators and congressmen, then and today, are allowed to endorse coops to undertake projects using their PDAF.

“The recipient coops must account for their usage and liquidate the funds. In this case, the concerned NGOs must be called to account for the funds they received,” he said.

Enrile called on the Department of Agriculture to shed light on the legitimacy of PFI and how his PDAF was spent.

He said he did not nominate either ZREC or PFI to be the recipients of the P74.69 million of his PDAF earmarked for livelihood projects in provinces of his choice in 2009 and 2010.

No second thoughts

“I never heard until [Wednesday] night of ZREC and PFI. I was flabbergasted,” Enrile told the Inquirer, referring to the instance when his reaction to the allocation of his PDAF for the NGO was sought.

Revilla said he identified projects under the agriculture department’s program for Basilan.

“We know the situation in Basilan and in many parts of our country so that when an NGO asks for our help to assist our countrymen, who are caught in the armed conflict in Mindanao, we had no second thoughts about setting aside funds for them, especially since it was the Department of Agriculture that would implement the project,” said Revilla, an actor.

He said the agriculture department and the NGO that received the funds “should explain so that the public would be enlightened as to where the funds allocated by our office in Senate for our poor countrymen in Basilan really went.”

Altered signatures

Enrile also confirmed the COA findings that certain documents were forged to make it appear that his office nominated the recipients of PDAF-backed livelihood projects.

“They found in the records certain documents where the signatures had been altered or superimposed… And then as if we nominated them. I have nothing to do with the nomination or dealing with the beneficiaries,” Enrile said.

“To be fair to [the members of my staff], regarding those documents, I don’t think they’ve done a letter like that,” he added.

Among the documents the COA presented for verification from his office, Enrile said, were liquidation reports that he said his office shouldn’t be concerned with.

‘We were not warned’

Enrile also addressed the COA’s reported recommendation that ZREC inform Enrile and the other lawmakers “that PFI should no longer be granted any fund assistance and have it blacklisted.”

“We have never been warned nor have we ever received any such notification from ZREC nor the Department of Agriculture. I have no knowledge of nor any link to PFI, or the one identified as its President, Petronila Balmaceda,” Enrile said.

The Senate President, one of the pillars of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, called on the COA to release the entire report on the special audit of all the lawmakers’ PDAF from 2008 to 2010 to prevent a “selective disclosure” of the findings that may be used for political ends.

Enrile said COA chairperson Grace Pulido Tan had told him that the special audit “was not directed at the lawmakers but at the implementing agencies.”

Reelectionist Sen. Chiz Escudero said members of the Senate had the responsibility to make the use of their PDAF transparent and relevant.

“I believe members of the Senate, present and future, should adhere to the principles of good governance when it comes to public funds such as our PDAF,” the senator said.

Plug loopholes

“At the same time, we have a responsibility to protect the integrity and the reputation of the Senate as an institution and as a pillar of our democracy. This should be non-negotiable,” Escudero added.

Former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said a thorough probe was necessary “so that we can plug any loopholes in the funding process.”

Magsaysay, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture that looked into the fertilizer fund scam during the Arroyo administration, said the misuse of the PDAF was inconsistent with President Aquino’s reform program.

“The next Senate should impose stricter penalties on such misuse of taxpayers’ money and uphold transparency and accountability,” said the senatorial candidate of Team PNoy.

Malacańang signified its willingness to help establish liability in the misuse of the PDAF.

At a briefing, presidential spokesmaon Edwin Lacierda said the Aquino administration would cooperate should the Senate investigate the matter.

Lacierda said the Palace would allow members of the Cabinet to appear in the Senate if summoned by senators.

“Well, if the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) will be called in as a witness, they (DBM officials) will, of course, testify in the Senate hearing. But again, it’s up to the Senate if they decide to call for an investigation,” he said.—With reports from Christian Esguerra and Michael Lim Ubac

Sam Miguel
03-01-2013, 08:10 AM
Against the law

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:59 pm | Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The decision of some members of the diocese of Bacolod, backed by their bishop, Vicente Navarra, to hang a giant election-related sign outside the San Sebastian Cathedral has again trained the spotlight on the Reproductive Health Law and the political role of the Catholic Church. The sign calls on the faithful to vote for six senatorial candidates and two partylist groups classified as “Team Buhay” and against seven candidates and four partylist groups they dubbed “Team Patay.”

The sign violates many laws, and should be taken down immediately.

It violates the election law, specifically the provision on “lawful election propaganda” in Commission on Elections Resolution No. 9615. “Posters made of cloth, paper, cardboard or any other material, whether framed or posted, [should have] an area not exceeding two feet (2’) by three feet (3’).” The Comelec has served notice to Bishop Navarra that the signs needed to be resized, but a lawyer for the diocese played for time by asking the Comelec whether the sign was in fact election propaganda. This tactic, to borrow a buzzword from the Corona impeachment trial, is mere “palusot.” The same Comelec resolution clearly defines “election campaign” and “partisan political activity” as “an act designed to promote or defeat a particular candidate or candidates to a public office,” such as “publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate.” You do not need to be a lawyer to know that the sign clearly falls under these definitions.

The diocese has since cut the sign in two, separating the Team Buhay part from the Team Patay half—but this is not an act of compliance but, rather, of petulance, or even insolence, since each half is still clearly larger than the maximum allowed by the Comelec. Even if the diocese members responsible for the sign found it in their Christian hearts to abide by the unmistakable letter of the law and replaced it with signs measuring two feet by three, however, should the good bishop allow it? We hope not, because the content of the sign also violates other kinds of law.

It violates the moral law which governs all of us, whether Catholic or not, because it perpetuates a blatant lie, that the Reproductive Health Law promotes abortion. That is simply not true; every provision that could be misinterpreted as encouraging or allowing abortion has been removed from the law; indeed, the law reaffirms that abortion is illegal, and declares it state policy to be open to all methods of family planning that are, among other characteristics, “safe, legal, non-abortifacient.” So the sign reduces the complex debate over the controversial law to whether one agrees with the narrow Catholic view that the new measure promotes a generalized culture of death. The least the good bishop and his flock can do is acknowledge that many Catholic legislators voted for the new law precisely because they saw it as contributing to a culture of life—literally, since it will save many mothers and infants from an avoidable death.

It violates the law of self-preservation, because the diocese defends the posting of the sign as free speech—the very defense that the controversial reproductive-health activist Carlos Celdran invoked in the infamous Manila Cathedral case. While we believe that freedom of speech is a privileged right, the complainants in the “Damaso” case argued that offense to religious feelings trumped that privilege. Since Celdran has appealed his lower-court conviction to the Court of Appeals, he can now point to the Bacolod sign as an argument in his favor. To put it anoth