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Why and Who are Persecuting the Ejercito Estradas?

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opinyon-politics

By Linggoy Alcuaz

“When it rains, it pours.” That is what the Ejercito Estradas must be feeling nowadays. The latest open hunting season on the Ejercito Clan started three weeks ago. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s Chairman, Senator Teofisto “Tootsie” Guingona III, started to subpoena and receive “Napolists” and JLN narratives.

On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, former PNP Director General, former Senator and now Secretary Ping Lacson submitted his unsigned copy and/or version of the “Napolist”. A day later, Wednesday, May 14, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, submitted her signed “Napolist”. However, she requested and was given a week or until two weeks ago to submit Napoles’ signed affidavit. She submitted the first affidavit on schedule and the supplementary affidavit just last week. Last week also, the NBI submitted their copy of the Benhur Lim Luy Computer Hard Drive with about 30,000 files and 3,000 folders.

Surprise of all surprises! Freshman Senator J V Ejercito Estrada was included in the list of incumbent and former Senators as a Senator and not as a former Congressman. JV is a former Jaycees National President. He was elected for three three year terms as Mayor of San Juan. Then, he served a single term as Congressman of San Juan City. Fortunately, JLN retracted and cleared JV.

Two weeks ago, Wednesday, May 21, the COMELEC En Banc ruled to disqualify Laguna Governor E. R. Ejercito for overspending. They gave him just five days to secure a TRO from the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court merely asked the COMELEC to comment and reply to E. R.’s legal recourse, but did not issue a TRO, they unseated him. Last week, Tuesday, May 27, they swore in the Vice Governor to take ER’s place.

Two weeks ago, the news broke that the Supreme Court had scheduled Mayor Estrada’s disqualification case for deliberations. Both parties were given a month to submit their respective memoranda.

Then, we have the ten and a half month drawn out Trial by Publicity of the three Opposition Senators – Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, known also by their code names “Tanda”, “Seksi” and “Pogi”. The long awaited filing of Plunder Cases against them by the Ombudsman before the Sandigan Bayan, has been delayed because of the following reasons.

The defendants asked to be provided with copies of certain documents filed by the DOJ with the Ombudsman. The latter acceded but gave the defendants just five days to review and comment on the said documents. Meanwhile, Ombudsman Carpio Morales went abroad. My educated guess is that they are just waiting for the next Congressional recess before filing the first wave of cases at the Sandigan Bayan.

Jinggoy was born on Feb 17, 1963. He became Vice Mayor of San Juan from 1988 to 1992. Then, he served three three year terms as Mayor from 1992 until 2001. In the aftermath of the 2001 EDSA II, Mayor Jinggoy Estrada was also charged and arrested and jailed like his father. However, unlike his father, he was granted bail and acquitted eventually.

With four Ejercitos being simultaneously prosecuted/persecuted, one wonders why? Although, they all belong to the Opposition, they had not been critical or uncooperative with PNoy’s Administration before they were the ones at the receiving end of political maneuvers and vendetta.

Although, the political persecution is now peaking, it started more than a year ago. In the May 13, 2013 National Elections for twelve Senators, JV ended up number eleven with Greg Honasan and Jackie Enrile behind him. All three of them had done better in the poll surveys during the previous year. On the other hand Admin Candidates Grace Poe, Sonny Angara and Bam Aquino were substantially and surprisingly ahead of what the surveys had indicated. Even Nancy Binay with much less experience and exposure than JV was six places ahead of him in fifth place.

Then, in the months of September, October and November, Jinggoy, Erap and E. R. took their turns as Administration Targets. In the Napoles, PDAF and Pork Scandals, JPE, Jinggoy and Bong Revilla were singled out repeatedly for trial by publicity as well as Prosecution by Persecution. “Iyon pala”, there were twelve to twenty five incumbent and former Senators involved depending on what list you believed in. Out of so many winning candidates in the same boat, E. R. was singled out to be ousted for election overspending.

While Erap has been defending and praising PNoy and his Administration, PNoy’s boys have been maneuvering to oust him from Manila and restore Fred Lim. When the results of the May 19 – 26 Pulse Asia “Ulat ng Bayan” Survey came out, PNoy’s boys panicked. The public survey which does not include Erap, shows that non Administration Presidentiables have 58 % of the vote. The Admin Presidentiables have a mere 42 %. In the private survey which includes Erap, the non Admin total increases to 2/3 and the Admin total decreases to one third. In both Vice President Binay is way, way ahead.

In their desperation, PNoy’s boys are trying to pull down Binay by demolishing his allies including JPE and the Ejercitos. However, the latest twist in the political drama for 2016 is that the last desperate Strategy of the Roxas camp is to drive a wedge between Erap and Binay and get the two of them to run in 2016 for President. The objective is to split the Opposition vote. However, the surveys show that even if Binay, Erap, Poe, Bongbong and Bong all run, Binay would still win. In second place now, is Erap. In third place is Poe.

The best thing that PNoy can do for himself is to support Binay or Erap. That way, he would not go to jail like Erap and GMA did.

As for Grace Poe, I believe that if she inherited some basic character traits from FPJ, she will not immediately run for President.

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Samsung Finally Launched the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

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Good news for photography enthusiasts: Samsung finally launched the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom.

Along with its unusual camera lens, it offers a 10x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization that can go from a focal length of 24mm to 240mm in just a snap.

It is pretty versatile for those who love to capture selfies, food, landscapes, concerts and other events.

K Zoom runs with the latest 4.4.2 KitKat version of Android OS and TouchWiz interface. There are several new enhancements on this device,including GoogleNow,an application that actively listens to voice commands.

It is also power-driven by a hexa-core processor made up of two 1.7GHz ARM A15 cores paired with four 1.3 GHz ARM A7 cores.

That means this smartphone has improved performance and will use power more efficiently,while being easy on battery life.

Techies will probablyraise their expectationsfor smartphone technology done by  other big-name manufacturers, because Samsung has raised the bar with this new product line. (Niks Aguila)

The Rise of a New Subic

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Prostitution, which has gained notoriety at the height of US military presence in Subic and Clark, is likely to rise anew as the presence of American servicemen would serve as a magnet for the resurgence of girlie bars and other night spots.

MANILA – Some 600 kms southwest of Manila, workers are building a 21-km access road linking mainland Luzon to Oyster Bay in Palawan province facing the internationally disputed west Philippine sea.

Though Palawan is a major tourist destination, the project is not meant to woo more visitors, but to transform the bay into what officials described as a “mini Subic.”

Like Subic, once the site of the United States’ biggest military facility in the Far East, the scenic cove boasts a deep natural harbor, capable of hosting large vessels, including warships.

The groundwork has already cost the government some 500 million pesos and it is expected to rise as more facilities such as piers, dry-docks and ship repair yards are to be built. Construction of the new naval port, part of the military’s modernization drive, is slated to be completed by 2016 when President Aquino’s six-year term ends.

Subic: Too crowded

Aquino has launched a US$1.8-billion military modernization program and revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay. The budget excludes the annual defense aid of the US.

Use of the cove as a port loomed as the Philippines is beefing up its external defense capability in the face of unabated tensions with China over conflicting territorial claims.

Moreover, the Philippines is also readying itself to host an expected surge in the number of American security forces to be redeployed under the US’s pivot policy.

Manila’s zeroing in on Oyster Bay as an alternative naval port has loomed as Subic has become “too crowded” as more and more American battleships drop anchors at its piers.

Officials say that since last January, the number of visiting US battleships and other types of vessel at Subic has risen from 50 to nearly 90 and more are expected to make port calls as Manila and Washington ramp up their defense ties.

Bilateral talks had been going on, both in Manila and Washington, for expanded defense cooperation in line with their 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 2001 Visiting Forces Agreement.

Just recently the Philippines opened tenders for brand-new frigates worth 18 billion pesos (US$4439 million).

Where to park?

To be armed with missiles and torpedoes, both will reinforce the two second-hand warships the US had earlier turned over to the Philippines now patrolling the west Philippine Sea.

Presided over by the defense department, the bidding has drawn interest of 11 prospective suppliers from Italy, France, South Korea and India.The Philippines is also buying five patrol boats from France for about 90 million Euros ($116 million) and some multi-role vessels from South Korea.

They will be in addition to ten state-of-the-art patrol vessels, each weighing 1,000 tons, Japan has committed to bolster the Philippines’ maritime capability.In addition, the Philippines is keen in buying a submarine to enable its naval forces to patrol the country’s maritime territory undetected — if funds permit.

“When you have a submarine, we will be able to track those violating our maritime laws without them noticing us,” Philippine Navy spokesman Lt. Rommel Rodriguez said in a statement.

Where to park the new naval assets has become a problem as Subic‘s maritime traffic has increased over the past months.

Toxic wastes

The rise of Oyster Bay as a new naval port is also likely spark tensions with China which has laid claims to the west Philippine Sea.

Last year, U.S. and Philippine commandos staged a mock amphibious assault near Oyster Bay as part of their annual military exercises. Oyster Bay is about 160 km (100 miles) from the west Philippine Sea where Chinese naval vessels patrol.

Environmentalists, however, opposed the rise of a naval port in mangrove-fringed Oyster Bay, fearing pollution and destruction of its marine sanctuaries.

Last  year, US Navy minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground near Palawan’s Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco world heritage site, destroying 2,345.67 sq ms of 10-meter-high coral reefs.

Until today, the US has yet to pay the 60 million pesos fine imposed by the Philippine government, an amount labeled by critics as just a pittance in that the incident caused least US$342 million in damage to coral reefs.

“The impending construction of a base on Oyster Bay, which is within a marine protected area, seems to be the next crime the US is intent on pushing through with,” the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment” says.It says the US has yet to clean up the toxic wastes and rehabilitate its former military bases Subic and Clark which were shuttered in 1992.

Constitutional ban

A leftist group also assailed the rise of a new Subic, saying it violates the Philippine Constitution banning foreign military installations in the country.In a statement, Pamalakaya says a US military base in Palawan is not only meant to check China’s aggressive expansion into the West Philippine Sea, but also to maintain the military hegemony of Washington in the region.

“We will contest this grand mockery of Philippine sovereignty in the parliament of the streets, in any appropriate court or forum, and in the court of public opinion,” it says.

Militants fear that the people of Palawan will wake up one day to find that the entire island province is transformed into a virtual US military base similar to the one in Okinawa, Japan.

Geo-political interests

Plans are also afoot to station 50 to 60 US marines in Palawan as an advance detachment at the South China Sea.The US also wants to convert the 246-hectare Philippine Marine Corps reservation in Palawan, particularly the Brooke’s Point, and nearby areas into joint US-Philippines marine operational command posts.

Part of the cooperation is the installation of high-powered radar systems in strategic areas from north to south of Palawan facing the potentially oil-rich West Philippine Sea.The new radars, meant to monitor China’s naval activities, form part of the Philippines’ plans to give American forces, ships and aircraft access to more of the country’s military camps and facilities.

Although Philippine laws prohibit permanent foreign military bases in the country, the Americans have somehow found a loophole – embed themselves in the Philippines’ own camps and facilities to skirt the ban and advance their geo-political interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

MVP for 2016 VP

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MANNY V. Pangilinan has repeatedly said he is not running for President in 2016. But he could be running for Vice President, instead. That is, if Vice President Jejomar Binay got his way.

Speaking to reporters, the former mayor of Makati City confirmed he is considering MVP as his running mate in the 2016 polls—and with good reason.

Considered as one of the most influential men in the country today, MVP is the perfect running mate for any presidential aspirant since he is at the helm of corporations and industries crucial to the Philippine economy: Philippine Long Distance Company, infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Manila Electric Company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., Maynilad Water Services Inc., gold producer Philex Mining and the biggest local power player Manila Electric Company. And with vast holdings in media, health services and various other industries, MVP already wields enough power and financial resources to propel his chosen political allies into the halls of power come 2016.

But MVP is not the only person in Binay’s list of potential bets for VP. Last month he was mouthing off the name of another MP—that of Saragani Representative and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao—as running mate. Another potential mate for Binay is Ate Vi, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos Recto. But like MVP, Vilma has also repeatedly stated that she has no plans of seeking higher office in 2016.

With 2016 just around the bend, the Liberal Party is said to have already begun to raise funds for the campaign kitty of its next presidential standard bearer be it Mar Roxas or Kris Aquino. The LP, too, would benefit immensely having a man of MVP’s stature in its corner.

Let’s put ourselves in MVP’s shoes for a minute. Would it be wise to associate with any single political party in 2016? We think it’s not. And MVP knows it very well that for the sake of his business empire it is best to remain neutral and to stay out of politics.

“There is no political blood that runs through my veins,” MVP said back in October. “I believe I can serve our people better some other way,” he said.

Business and politics do not make good bedfellows. By staying neutral, MVP can play all sides of the fence and emerge a winner regardless of the outcome of the 2016 polls.  All he has to do is to spread his bet—put money on the ruling party, on the opposition and the long shots, too. This way, MVP’s business empire is guaranteed to survive and thrive beyond 2016.

Plans, Funds Needed For Disaster Management

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Senator Loren Legarda recently emphasized on the need to allocate sufficient funds and prioritize the implementation of action plans for disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCAM).

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said climate experts have already warned of the grim scenario that nations, especially in Southeast Asia, could face due to the warming climate.

“The newest IPCC Report states that seas will rise by 26-82 centimeters by 2100. Sea level rise is a great threat to small island nations, and for an archipelago like the Philippines, it would mean more floods. We have already seen and experienced the wrath of Yolanda, how the surge of seawater engulfed communities. We cannot prevent a storm, but we can save our communities from devastation if we actually fund and implement our disaster and climate resilience plans without delay,” said Legarda.

“For instance, under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, every province, city and municipality should have a Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LDRRMO), and every barangay should establish a Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee. Do our LGUs have these local DRRM offices? Are local DRRM officers equipped and trained to carry out their tasks? These local DRRM offices should be created to institutionalize arrangements and measures for reducing disaster risks, and enhance disaster preparedness and response capabilities at all levels,” she added.

The Senator added that with the threat of rising sea levels, LGUs must be ready to confront the worsening floods. To do this, LGUs must update their data on flood hazards and vulnerabilities, invest in flood protection and mitigation, identify safe land for families to live in and implement the solid waste management law at full speed.

“We have seen enough tragedy. Studies that warn us of our vulnerabilities have been coming in every year. Nobody can say we have not been warned. It is time disaster risk reduction and resilience efforts as well as climate adaptation and mitigation measures are given a fair share of the national budget and serious attention by our government and by every citizen,” Legarda concluded.

A Lifeline to the Future

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Water is life, and without water, all life forms would be dead. Without water, we could not grow food, and without food, all life forms would be dead too. Since we grew up with water around us, we have perhaps assumed all along that water will always be there, in the same way that air will always be there. These two assumptions may be correct, but what if both the water and the air would become polluted? And what if the supply of clean water would dry up, and no more water would come out of our faucets?

In a manner of speaking, air is a renewable resource in our country because every day, the winds would sweep away the dirty air into the oceans around us. This might be true for now, but what if the time will come when the density of the air pollution would be too much for the winds to sweep away? The fact is, we are no longer measuring the levels of air pollution in our country, so much so that we may not even know whether the levels are still normal or not.

In theory, water is a renewable resource everywhere, provided that the natural sources of water are preserved, and provided further that the natural process of water collection is also preserved. As God and nature has provided for, the natural sources of water are our watersheds, and it does not take a genius to understand that. While it may have taken a whole bunch of fools over the generations to destroy our watersheds, it will not take a genius to reclaim and restore our watersheds, even if it would again take many generations to do that.

We might actually have many geniuses around us, but we do not need them to tell us that if we bring back the trees around our watersheds, it will bring back the water in the short run, and it will eventually ensure the continuing supply of water in the long run. And if that is not enough incentive for us to do that, let us ask these geniuses to explain to us that if we bring back the trees, these trees would also hold the water in their roots, a scientific fact that would prevent floods in the lowlands.

For those who could not chew gum and walk at the same time, we would perhaps need the geniuses to explain that producing water and preventing floods are not the only benefits of bringing back the trees to the areas around our watersheds. It might be too complicated to explain, but these trees would not only produce food in the form of fruits and leaves, these would also produce oxygen that would clean the air, and counter the carbon pollution in the air. Again it might be too complex to explain, but the trees would actually absorb the carbon in the air, a natural process that also weakens or slows down global warming.

It is a scientific fact that global warming is the cause of climate change. That is generally speaking, but to be more specific, it is deforestation that is the cause of flooding in the lowlands. Since these correlations are so obvious, we should also do what is also obvious, and that is to reforest our mountains by planting and growing trees. Mind you, I am not just talking about planting some trees here and there; I am talking about growing trees in all parts of the mountains. Call it any other name you like, but I am talking about reforestation, back to the density of trees that was existing before the uncontrolled logging began.

Mga Anak ng Inang Daigdig (MAID), an organization of young people founded by Fr. Ben Beltran in what used to be the Smokey Mountain dumpsite was awarded about 120 hectares of land in the Montalban mountain area by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), under a Forest Management Agreement (FMA) scheme. These young people have already planted fruit bearing trees in the area, along with cash crop vegetables. As fate would have it, MAID is also helping the members of the Dumagat tribe in the area, who are now also planting their own trees and vegetables. As it is now, the harvests of MAID and the Dumagat tribe are already being sold within the Diocese of Cubao, with the support of the good bishop there. As it also happened, slash and burn farming, locally known as kainginhas slowed down in the area, because the local kaingineros have now found an alternative source of income.

As long as the people in Cubao will keep buying the organic products coming from the farms of MAID and the Dumagat tribe, they will be able to keep as supply chain going that will not only assure their customers of healthy food, they will also assure the entire metropolis with a sustainable source of water forever, aside from preventing floods in the lowlands, hopefully also forever. This is the reason why I am calling it a lifeline to the future, a lifeline of food and water forever.

Indigenous Communities Conservation Areas (ICCA) is an international framework that recognizes the ancient role of the indigenous peoples in conserving their own ancestral domains. They have been doing that forever, and it would make sense to provide them the resources that could make them do that forever. Whether or not the indigenous tribes in the Philippines have been granted their Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), they could be tapped to implement reforestation programs in their own areas, following the pattern of the program that MAID started. Where there is a mountain, there is always a watershed. And where there is a watershed, there is always a sustainable source of water that could be tapped for now and for the generations to come. Let’s do this.

For feedback, email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639083159262

Paje: An Hour of Voluntary Darkness to Tame Climate Change

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Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has urged Filipinos to join millions around the world in marking Earth Hour by switching off the lights in support of a global campaign to combat climate change, which has been cited as possible culprit behind mega-storms like Yolanda.

Paje said the country’s experience with Yolanda gives every citizen more reason to take part in the observance of Earth Hour on March 29 from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening.

“The overwhelming devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda serves to remind us that climate change is a serious issue that we can’t simply ignore and a global event such as Earth Hour is a valuable tool to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues,” Paje said.

Dubbed as the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world, Earth Hour is held every last Saturday of March on the initiative of the Washington-based environmental group World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).  Those participating in Earth Hour will shut off all lights and used appliances and electronics in support of efforts to solve the problems related to climate change and global warming.

“An hour of voluntary darkness will help us tame climate change,” Paje said.

Since it first joined the event in 2009, the Philippines has consistently registered the most number of participating towns and cities, earning the distinction as an “Earth Hour Hero Country.”

This year, the country was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the first ever “Earth Hour Blue,” an international crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing effort initiated by the WWF that aims to provide bancas for Yolanda victims.

Under the project, coastal communities affected by the super typhoon would be provided with resources to build new and efficient non-motorized boats with fiberglass-reinforced plastic hulls.  The construction of the first 60 boats is expected to be completed by mid-April.

Paje lauded the project for using a technology that is earth-friendly as it eliminates the need to use wood sourced from forests.

“The project will leave no carbon footprint and will encourage fisherfolk to engage in sustainable small-scale fishing,” he said.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million residents switch off the lights of their homes and offices in order to pledge their support to saving the environment. The trend soon caught on and several other countries participated across the globe in the initiative. At present, there are more than 150 countries that actively observe Earth Hour every year.