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BLAME GAME

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By ElCid Benedicto

Beyond the controversy over the “Napolist” or the list provided by alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, on those lawmakers supposedly in cahoots with her scheme misusing their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), was the legal implication of the “exposure” of what most observers consider as a malicious document.

The Senate blue ribbon committee released the two versions of the “Napolist” immediately after it was furnished to the panel, one provided to former Sen. Panfilo Lacson by Napoles’ husband Jimmy and the other that she herself allegedly have given to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Some members of the House of Representatives who have raised howl for having been dragged into the issue have reportedly considering of filing a class suit against a major publication while there are those also from the Senate contemplating of taking legal action against Napoles herself and other media entities.

The blame game is just starting and as to who will carry the brunt will likely be the members of the media who took the bait of publicizing the tons of documents coming from both camps of Napoles and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Some Senate observers took note of some apparent lapses on the part of blue ribbon committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III in releasing the documents even before his panel could take it up in a formal hearing.

A senior Senate member admitted that such act by Guingona could constitute a libelous act, acceding to the assertions of some upper chamber observers that their colleague should have at least circumspect by having the documents first entered into the records of the committee proceedings releasing it publicly.

This was on the account of the Napoles list provided by Lacson that was not signed by her or accompanied by any other document attesting to her ownership of it.

Based on the assertions of some, Guingona, in effect, caused the publication and distribution of information on a malicious imputation of a crime that is not even contained in an official document.

Another senator, an ally of the Aquino administration, on the other hand, came to the defense of Guingona saying that the blue ribbon chair could not be made to any criminal offense since he did not cause the publication and distribution of the information but the media entities.

“He ordered the release of the documents, being the committee chair, but he did not tell you (members of the media) to have it publicized. More importantly, he’s not the ‘author’ of what could be considered as a libelous material,” the senator-lawyer pointed out.

“Didn’t you notice? He made no utterances regarding the content of the documents, meaning lifting anything from it,” the senator further pointed out.

Such argument makes sense, in a way as this was the same issue raised by the Supreme Court in the case of Alonzo v. Court of Appeals, saying that that what is material is that a third person has read or heard about the libelous remark, for “a man’s reputation is the estimate in which others hold him in, not the good opinion which he has of himself.”

As such, the elements of libel are: imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another; publication of the imputation, identity of the person defamed; and existence of malice.

It can be noted that senators and congressmen enjoy immunity from prosecution even if they defame or accuse anyone of any wrongdoing in their privilege speeches or any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.

No less than Senate President Franklin Drilon himself pointed out the documents should have been substantiated before it was made readily available to the public,

“Dati ko nang sinasabi na tayo ay pabor na ilabas ang listahan, ngunit dapat ay sana may pruweba mula sa isang testigo, at hindi allegation lang. Yung listahan ay puro pangalan, walang malinaw na dokumento. Hindi naman yata tama na ilabas yang mga pangalan na walang basehan, dahil ang reputasyon ng isang tao ang nakasalalay,” Drilon said in one of the interviews.

“Katulad nga ng sinasabi ni Sen. (Francis) Chiz (Escudero) , nasa listahan siya ng isa (Napoles list provided by Lacson), pero wala siya sa iba. Ipinasa na ni (former) Sen. Lacson sa blue ribbon committee ung affidavit daw ni Napoles, pero meron pang ibang listahan. Kaya po iyan ay uulitin ko lang, kailangan may pruweba ang listahan,” he stressed, during an interview with dzMM.

In another radio interview, the Senate chief reiterated the same, emphasizing that he does not stand opposed to disclosing the contents of such documents supposedly from Napoles provided that it’s backed up with proof or testimony to substantiate the allegations contained therein.

“Mag-ingat tayo sa mga listahan na walang detalye, dahil ang reputasyon ng mga tao ang nakasalalay diyan,” he said.

The documents comprised of unsigned supposed sworn affidavit of Napoles, a typewritten notes of sort and a “list” of names of senators, congressmen, government officials and alleged “agents” was accompanied by a mere cover letter signed by Lacson.

“As agreed earlier, I am hereby transmitting to your office the following documents: draft affidavit of Janet Lim Napoles; narration of events; and list of senators, congressmen and other personalities that she allegedly dealt with in connection with the PDAF. Please acknowledge receipt of the foregoing documents. I hope that these documents will assist the investigation being conducted by your committee and address the clamor of our people for transparency in public service,” Lacson said in his letter to Guingona dated May 13.

Unlike in the case of committee members whom Sen. Koko Pimentel emphasized have every right to be given copies, including such unsigned documents although he pointed out that insofar as probative value is concerned, there’s none.

“It’s just a list. Let us be more concerned with evidence…it’s useless
kung ganun lang. It has no probative value at meron na kasing draft and signed Senate blue ribbon report eh. If we feel na may additional pa, let’s start a new one, a new investigation na lang.

At that time when Pimentel made the statement prior to the submission of De Lima’s version of the “Napolist” as well as Napoles’ two sets of affidavits.

He pointed out that the Napolist, on its face, was useless as it “has no probative value at meron na kasing draft and signed Senate blue ribbon report eh. If we feel na may additional pa, let’s start a new one, a new investigation na lang.”

Also, calling Napoles to testify on the list provided by Lacson then, was viewed by Pimentel as premature, adding that it should have been accompanied by a sworn affidavit, which De Lima eventually provided.

Pimentel said that those mentioned in the “Napolist” can avail of a legal remedy by filing perjury charges, considering that Napoles, in her appearance before the Senate blue ribbon issued a flat denial regarding her involvement in the pork scam.

CONSPIRACY

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By Miguel Raymundo

Yearly, the government allots billions of pesos in taxpayer’s money to build roads, but it’s the private contractors who are making a killing at public’s expense.

Take the 94-km North Luzon Diversion Road, built in 1996 by the government which has fattened the pockets of its new owners, Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group.

Renamed North Luzon Expressway, the project has emerged as a cash cow of listed Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the group’s infrastructure unit in the Philippines.

Last year alone, the MPTC saw profit bursting at the seams, surging sharply, thanks – or no thanks – to the government’s benevolence in allowing with impunity the company to jack up its toll rates amid mounting protests from motorists.

Buoyed by robust revenues, the Salim firm even went to the extent of proposing to stretch its franchise to cover the lucrative Manila-Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway under a 50-50 revenue sharing deal with the government.

Bottomline
But the proposal hardly took off the ground, shot down in no time at all by a government wizened to the profiteering ways of private contractors.

Typical of its insensitivity to public welfare, the state-run Toll Regulatory Board allows a toll road operator every two years to raise its rates without the need for the agency’s prior approval.

Cashing in on a hefty traffic volume, the MPTC’s bottomline, up by a hefty 32 percent to P2.784 billion year-on-year, only showed how the government’s infrastructure program has turned out to be big business for the private contractors.

In short, a conspiracy exists between government and the private contractors by cashing in on the commuters’ gullibility to take any toll rate increase without raising a whimper.

Admittedly, the privatization of public utilities only leads to huge profits for big foreign and local corporations – and, effectively, widen rich-poor gap.

Other than TRB’s automatic approval of any toll rate increase every two years to allow operators a fair return on their investments, another contentious issue is the 12 percent value-added tax on toll approved by the Supreme Court which has been passed on by operators to the already financially burdened commuters.

Benchmark
Ultimately, the country’s public roads and highways should be taken over by the government to prevent corporations from increasing their profits at public’s expense.

The toll road operator’s wallowing in profits amid complaints of rising rates could have provided a benchmark, a caution for the government in tempering privatization of its public infrastructure projects.

But that appears not to be the case as more and more projects are up for grabs, ranging from toll roads to ports, airports, to the highest bidders in the private sector.

Apparently, profitability is key reason why there’s a mad rush among the country’s corporate titans to bid for the proposed P35.42 billion, 44.6-km Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calex).

Auctioned off by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the project has attracted four qualified bidders, including powerhouse San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Best Deal
Jockeying for the highly lucrative contract is so intense that the Salim Group has sought SMC’s disqualification for allegedly submitting a non-compliant bid.

The Indonesian group has argued that SMC’s bid did not contain a valid bid security, a bond that protects the government in case a winning bidder decides not to proceed with the project.

But SMC, which has adopted infrastructure as an integral part of its core businesses, has disputed its rival’s contention.

“We are compliant. We have a very competitive bid and we are confident we can give government the best deal for the benefit of the taxpayers and the country,” it says in a statement.

Irked over the rivals’ raising of petty issues, the conglomerate admonished them not to waste energy pulling each other down, saying “we want our countrymen to get the best price from several, not a few bidders.”

Cavite-Laguna
Other bidders expected to give competitors a run for their money are the joint venture of Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Group and Malaysian infrastructure firm MTD Bhd.

Part of the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program, the project starts from Kawit, Cavite, and ends at the Mamplasan interchange of the South Luzon Expressway in Biñan, Laguna.

Based on DPWH’s terms of reference, private investors will finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the expressway that will connect Cavite and Laguna directly, greatly reducing travel time between the two provinces.

The two highly industrialized and urbanized provinces are home to hundreds of international and multinational electronic, semiconductor, automotive and manufacturing companies, in addition to residential developments.
With infrastructure deemed as a key component of economic growth, the government is projected to invest about P750 Billion for projects between 2011 and 2016.

Budget
Separately, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is also proposing about P403 billion in infrastructure projects in 2014 to boost the country’s competitiveness, spur investments, create jobs and improve the country’s economy.

The budget outlay would result in a five percent infrastructure spending in relation to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and increase revenue effort to 17.1 percent by the year 2016.

But somehow, the government has rationalized what it says is the essential role of the private sector as the main engine for national growth and development.

Under the PPP, the government will provide incentives to stimulate private resources for financing the construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects.

To a large extent, the government is even willing, on a project basis, to protect investors from certain regulatory risks such as court orders or decisions which prevent them from adjusting tariffs to contractually agreed levels.

Risks and Regulations
Such regulatory risk insurance could take the form of make-up payments from the government to PPP investors, other guaranteed payments, and adjustments to contract terms.

The specifics of the type of protection to be offered by the government, and the mechanisms through which such protection will be offered will be part of the contract terms for each project. Such protection will only be offered for solicited projects which undergo a competitive bidding process.

But certain advocacy groups had criticized the PPP, saying the public is being held hostage by private corporations whose overriding purpose is only to amass profits as much as possible.

In effect, the responsibility to build roads is being handed over by the government to private concessionaires who are only too eager to squeeze money from the financially depressed people.

Why and Who are Persecuting the Ejercito Estradas?

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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.

Remembering History: Connecting the Dots

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By Erick San Juan

Recalling the words of the late Senator Claro M.Recto that “in the future, Philippines could be a province of China.” In the ’90′s, We were told by an American lecturer at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC that the future war in South China Sea could spark between China and Vietnam and the Philippine involvement is inevitable. When my father was still alive, he told me the time will come that possibly the Philippines and many Asian countries will be ruled by China. Thus dividing the world into regions namely: Asia is for China, US controlling north, central and south America, USSR (now Russia) dominating Eastern Europe, Germany managing western Europe and Israel conquering Africa and the Middle East to create a Greater Israel in the process.

This flashback of events is now getting into a reality. In the Asian setting, it started with sweet talks from China’s leaders diplomatic steps in 2013 to reportedly improve Asean-China relations and bring back confidence in the region, charming it’s neighbors with promises of restraint and win-win cooperation. Foreign minister Wang Yi in May 2013, had raised hope in Asean that China was giving first priority to regional diplomacy and China viewed Asean as a valuable strategic partner.

Asean welcomed the visits of China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to South East Asia in October 2013. Pres. Xi’s historic remarks to the Indonesian parliament that Asean and China should build “trust and develop good neighborliness” and “stick through thick and thin”.

China also indicated that it’s ‘Maritime Silk Road for the 21st Century Initiative’ was inspired by Admiral Zheng He’s peaceful voyages to South East Asia in the 15th century, which was not about gaining new territories but about commerce and extending Chinese civilization. As a result of these diplomatic statements by Chinese leaders, Asean was hopeful that China was changing it’s approach to it’s maritime disputes with its neighbors. Asean leaders were closer to becoming convinced that the ‘China Dream’ could also be made ‘South East Asia’s Dream’.

Asean agreed to fully and effectively implement the Asean-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS-DOC and actively proposed confidence building measures.

The overall situation in the South China Sea went calmer with both sides exercising restraint.
(Casting Doubt on Neighborliness by Nguyen Hung Son of RSIS-Singapore 5/14/14)
What went wrong? Action speaks more than words.

China issued the 9 Dash line, the new Hainan fishing regulations and introduced an ADIZ(Air Defense Identification Zone) in the SCS.

It was a complete shock to the Asean and the international community when China sent it’s biggest oil rig near Vietnam, claiming the maritime area as it’s own. China even grabbed few reefs and shoals also claimed by the Philippines and installed military barracks. Nguyen concluded that China’s action was deliberate, well-planned and coordinated.

The worst, China even dismissed calls to resolve the dispute through dialogue and other peaceful means. Is this the current version of Sun Tzu’s Art of War?

The real agenda was exposed by Andrew Browne of the Wall Street Journal (5/21/14) citing CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corp.) launching it’s first deep water drilling rig in 2012. It’s chairman, Wang Yilin called it “our mobile national territory and a strategic weapon”. He claimed that an oil platform enjoyed sovereign rights wherever it floated, like an offshore island. The gigantic $1 billion rig was designed to roam across the SCS, which China claims almost in its entirety.

It got the ire of the Vietnamese people, who resisted and rammed the Chinese ships. The fury of the Vietnamese continued and attacked the Chinese owned factories on shore. China evacuated thousands of its nationals, many injured and several died.

According to Jane Perlez and Keith Bradsher of Intl. New York Times (5/19/14), ” The deployment of the oil rig is a possible game changer. Its China’s determination to dominate the South China Sea. While Holly Morrow, a fellow in the geopolitics of energy program at Harvard University who served during the George W. Bush administrations National Security Council said, “China has been taking incremental steps, escalating and increasing its presence in SCS. CNOOC is a business but the program is not only about energy, its about sovereignty.”

Since two years ago, China was reportedly able to nudge aside the helpless Philippines from the disputed reefs without a fight. While many nations admired the Vietnamese standing up against perceived Chinese invasion. The world has not forgotten that the Vietnamese fought the Americans in the past and won.

Ken Fuller of the Daily Tribune asked a very timely question–”Will Washington Defend the Philippines? (5/20/14) He said that the US government clarified almost 40 years ago that it was under NO OBLIGATION that the US will honor the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, nor will spring to the Philippines defense in the event of a Chinese incursion into areas of SCS claimed by this country.

On June 9,1975, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger even sent a lengthy telegram to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, with a copy to the US Embassy-Manila stating Washington’s legal interpretation that MDT commitments do not apply in the event of an attack on Spratlys or on GOP(Government of the Philippines) forces stationed there.

The Spratlys were not included in the territory ceded by Spain to the USA in 1898 and excluded from the maps accompanying the presentation of MDT.( You have to read Fuller’s article in full and you will surely get ‘goose pimples’.

The worst revelation came from John Mangun, an American based in the Philippines and columnist at the Businessmirror(5/22/14). He believed that Beijing’s diabolical plan is not only to take over the Philippines power grid but….. It’s a fact: China is not going away and relations and actions must be based on REALITY, NOT FANTASY.

He said that the US government is so out of touch with what’s happening on the ground that US Sec. of State John F.Kerry might go to Beijing to offer to sell the Philippines to China using the same 1898 Treaty of Paris as the legal basis.

“Ano tayo, pambayad utang?” God forbid!

Control

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By Ronald Roy

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, unabashed self-proclaimed contender for the presidency in the 2016 elections, warned that keeping secret a new affidavit by Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged PDAF scam brains, would “empower her to manipulate public opinion one way or the other.” Perhaps. However, I don’t go along with his demand that she be summoned anew by the Blue Ribbon Committee for a scrutiny of her new statement.

There is no way the public will gain enlightenment from a senate investigation of the pork scam when the culprits alluded to by Napoles are the investigating senators themselves, not to mention those other guilty colleagues — bato bato sa langit ang tatamaan ay huwag magagalit — who quietly swivel in their cool armchairs expecting vindication in a process that they fully control. This asinine and expensive circus must stop. It serves no other purpose than to fuel more speculation, sow more confusion, and facilitate cover-up schemes.

Senators are not called “lawmakers” for nothing. By their every word and deed, and as their mandate would have it, they must exemplify sedulous adherence to the lofty requirements of respect for the Law, esteem for its institutions and processes, and fear of its rule. Accordingly, our senators should now terminate the subject investigation in order to allow the Ombudsman’s Office to exercise unimpeded control of the role it is ordained by the Constitution to discharge. No, there is no cogent reason for these upper-chamber legislators to distrust their own creation: the largely statutory criminal justice system.

*****

Motorcyclists are the bane of patience. Being in total control of our streets, they freely violate traffic rules in pretty much the same way some politicians cavalierly breach the norms of delicadeza and rectitude. And can these motorcyclists quickly organize themselves into a mob at any accident site where one of them is involved! One should not find unfamiliar any of the following road situations.

Three years ago, I was driving on Edsa behind two buses that were a meter and a half apart. Suddenly, a motorcycle sped past me on my right side, surged ahead and, to my horror, raced through between the buses in a resolve to overtake them. As the buses moved toward each other, motorists and I following behind came to a screeching stop to see a gut-wrenching mishap that left the helmeted rider and his machine lying on the road in one gruesome twisted heap.

That was but one of numerous motorcycle misfortunes that had then been occurring at a very alarming rate, and the accidents have since increased without letup. Today, one wonders if authorities will ever buckle down to produce safety rules for the motoring public in general and the motorcyclists in particular, pedestrians and bystanders included.

For having been actually involved in two recent motorcycle accidents, I sometimes muse on the possibility that one day I will be a plaintiff or defendant in a reckless imprudence trial, notwithstanding the fact that in over 60 years behind the wheels, my extraordinarily diligent and defensive manner of driving has always seen me safely through — knock on wood. Hereunder are the two incidents.

As I remained at STOP position preparing to turn right to Hemady Street in Q.C., a motorcyclist drove up from behind and rested his machine between my right rear door and the embankment. From that position, he knew I would turn right since my signal lights were flashing. After the traffic light turned green, I proceeded to turn right along with the motorcycle. While I was executing the turn, the motorcycle suddenly swerved around in a split-second decision to change course.

I didn’t hit it, but its rider kicked my fender to avoid being struck. As a result of the force of the kick, he fell off his two-wheeler which scooted ahead and crashed against a concrete wall. He suffered a broken wrist and a badly damaged motorcycle. Luckily, patrol cops who witnessed the incident prevented a gathering mob of cussing motorcyclists from possibly lynching me. The hurt rider apologized for his reckless driving.

Then, another time when I was doing 30 kph on Aurora Boulevard, Manila, a motorcycle that had overtaken me suddenly crossed my path, and instinctively I swerved rightward to avoid hitting it. Unfortunately, I hit a cab. The culprit sped away and got lost in the traffic, and I gave the taxi driver a generous amount for slightly denting his fender.

This sort of road scourge cannot be totally eradicated. But authorities can control it by requiring motorcyclists to drive, at all times, directly behind a chosen vehicle, and allowing them to move therefrom only for the purpose of turning left or right to another street. Needless to state, strict enforcement and stiff penalties will produce eye-popping results, particularly in the dramatic reduction of riding-in-tandem killings. Hopefully.

RESIGN!

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The die is cast.

The more the pork scam drags on, the more its money trail leads to the centers of power.

From President Aquino, the collateral damage has spilled over to his inner sanctum led by Budget czar Butch Abad.

Abad, who wields the enviable power of the purse, is believed to be the hidden hand pulling the strings behind the pork barrel drama.

The self-confessed architect of the infamous Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) inexplicably made himself scarce since the scam hogged headlines over the past months.

While his peers turned themselves into Pnoy’s own bunch of apologists, the former solon from typhoon-battered Batanes Island kept himself away from public view – and scrutiny.

His silence on the controversy is not only deafening, but also intriguing.

Finally, he turned gutsy last week, apparently bugged by insinuations that he’s the “pork king” alluded to by reports quoting sources close to Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged pork barrel queen.

“These fresh allegations that I tutored Napoles in designing the PDAF scam are simply not true,” Abad said. He has been used to being called names since he served the Aquino administration starting in 2010.

But ‘‘pork king?” Certainly not, he said, describing it as the “most ridiculous” he ever heard. “It would in fact be funny if it weren’t such a blatant lie.”

Inescapably with Aquino and Abad in the eye of the pork scam, dyed-in-the-wool political allies House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon can’t be far behind and turn deaf and blind to mounting calls for them to call it quits.

 

“Na-Edca-Han Na Naman Tayo”

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Many Filipinos are wondering, why is it that the signing of a very important pact as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which is actually the centerpiece of US President Barack Obama’s visit was not signed by the US and PH presidents? Instead was signed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Phillip Goldberg hours before the arrival of Pres. Barack Obama. To think, the signing was not even witnessed by the two presidents.

Some pundits believe that the EDCA was not signed by the two heads of state, because US does not want to hurt China in the process. So it is quite obvious that every time the issue of how far Uncle Sam will help the country in times of trouble with China (and/or other aggressor) the safe answer of the big brother – “We are not doing this because of China. We are doing this because we have a longstanding alliance partner [the Philippines]. They are interested in stepping up our military-to-military,”  and “we (US) just want a peaceful and safe navigation in the South China Sea”. All rhetoric, but can we fault them in protecting their interests!

We really never learned from the past agreements that we had with the US, always lopsided, favoring the US more and in the end we are shortchanged (again). So the doublespeak of PNoy’s people of not allowing the Filipinos to be shortchanged in the latest pact are all double talk.

Like what the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and other organizations observed – they have been unimpressed, seeing the EDCA as an open invitation to a molester to offer protection against a touted bully. “The oft repeated rationale,” explained Bayan’s secretary Renato M. Reyes, Jr. is that we need this agreement with the US to protect ourselves from Chinese incursions. So what Aquino is basically saying is, to protect Filipinos from the neighborhood bully, we’re inviting a rapist inside our house to do as he pleases.” (by Binoy Kampmark)

Just like what I have been saying for so long now in my writings and daily radio program – this is rape with consent. Again, no thanks to our leaders.

Furthermore, in this EDCA, the so-called camp sharing operation will make the whole country as Uncle Sam’s military base. So the ‘chubibo’ of not going to build new US military bases here is true because through camp sharing scheme, US will not pay any rent and all the AFP’s camps from north to south of the archipelago will be the US ‘military base’, free of charge, translation – ‘rape with consent’. Need we say more?

And remember, back in August 2009, in her affidavit, Navy officer Nancy Gadian accused the US military of building permanent structures in different military camps in the country. She said US forces have established “permanent” and “continuous” presence in Zamboanga, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the south.

She added that the Philippine military has no access to the camps built by the US soldiers in these areas since they are “fenced off by barbed wires and guarded by US Marines.”

Gadian likewise said these structures are indications the US troops had no intention of leaving the country, which is a violation of the Philippine Constitution.

For over a decade now, we are actually being ‘screwed’ with the willingness of past and present administrations in the guise of being part of the coalition of the willing to fight the global war on terror of then President George ‘Dubya” Bush Jr.

And like what former senator Joker Arroyo said “What did the Philippines get out of the Obama visit? Zero.”

Especially on the part of our Filipino war veterans that was tackled by a former ambassador Jose Zaide, a pro- American historian turned patriot in his article (April 28 at the Manila Bulletin) “the more than 250,000 Filipinos who fought for USA in WW2 and shared the same foxholes with US troops were promised equal treatment. But the US Congress 1946 Rescission Act denied Filipino war vets, making a dishonest man of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Filipino WW2 vets were only collateral damage (add-on) to the Recission Act, which was passed principally for the purpose of controlling excessive claims of US war supplies providers.

In 2009, US Congress threw small bones granting one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipino vets in the USA and $9,000 to those in PH.  More crumbs promised to Filipino vets helped swing trusting Pinoys in USA to vote for re-election of Barack Obama.

Our problem is that the GPH representing the Filipino WW2 vets has one eye cocked at its own shopping list (for hand-me-down armaments and surplus and other USAID).

US Congress, which passed the Recission law, would not reverse itself.  (No constituency in support of granting monies to historical allies.)

On hindsight, Filipino WW2 vets should do their own pleading, i.e., sue the US government at the US Supreme Court, which will be no less noble than the French Court de Cessation and the British High Court.”

As a whole, all the excitement and fanfare that the Obama visit has created in the country are all ‘chubibo’ and sadly, the current administration welcomed the EDCA with open legs. Carol P. Araullo of Businessworld  said the EDCA is a negotiated surrender of our sovereignty.

“Na-EDCA-han na naman tayo”