Tonypet J. Rosales | Editor
IT APPEARS the most bloated government department—the Communications Group PNoy—simply can’t get the job done. To arrest the President’s sagging image, the administration is bringing more people into the fray, a move that could spark new hostilities between the Samar and Balay groups in Malacanang.
Since 2010, despite an awesome PR machinery, Malacanang never really got a hold of the public relations game. A series of missteps, snafus, blunders and miscommunications (beginning with the mishandling of the Luneta hostage incident involving a tour bus filled with Chinese nationals) have kept the President’s team of spokespersons and speechwriters busy fending off critics.
On Tuesday, a newspaper report by that the Palace is in “PR crisis mode”, hiring the services of a foreign pollster and political strategist to help reinvent the image of the President after the government’s net approval ratings plummeted to a record low.
The report said a crisis management team under Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. (Samar Group) and a political strategy team under Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas (Balay Group) has been activated to help refurbish PNoy’s image which has taken hit after hit since assuming the presidency in 2010.
A Palace source said Roxas is bringing back one Paul Bograd, the political strategist said to be responsible for Mar’s “Mr. Palengke” brand which made the DILG secretary No. 1 senator back in 2004. Bograd’s assignment: to fix PNoy’s image which suffered massively because of the Supreme Court’s adverse ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On the other hand, Ochoa has made changes in the Palace media group starting with the appointment of Presidential Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma as presidential spokesperson taking the place of Edwin Lacierda who is identified with Mar’s Balay group.
Ochoa is also said to have reactivated members of the Samar group involved in the 2010 campaign, including television director and PNoy cousin Maria Montelibano. Montelibano served as head of Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) during the time of President Cory Aquino and was also the designated point-person for media in Noynoy’s 2010 campaign.
While Bograd’s appointment can be considered a slap in the face of Secretary Coloma, observers believe that recent turn of events is symptomatic of a leadership breakdown in Malacanang. The administration is slowly falling apart and may eventually cost the ruling Liberal Party (LP) the 2016 presidential elections.
Seed of Discord
The conflict between the Samar and Balay group started shortly after Mar Roxas lost the vice presidency to Jojo Binay. Balay is the the group that met regularly at the residence of Roxas and its core is composed of the LP leadership together with the Black and White Movement and Ronald Llamas’ Akbayan. Samar Avenue in Quezon City is where Montelibano’s media bureau and Ochoa’s legal team held fort. PNoy sisters Pinky and Ballsy and Sonny Belmonte also regularly joined the Samar meetings.
The difference between the two groups emerged when Balay members started blaming Samar for the emergence of the winning NoyBi (Noynoy-Binay) tandem. In 2010, Mar’s presidential candidacy was floundering (he was usually ranked 4th in the ratings) and things looked up only after he gave way to Aquino and ran for vice president instead.
However, in the last weeks before the elections, Binay eventually caught up with Mar in the ratings.
From sure winner, Roxas became a pathetic loser. The two camps exchanged barbs blaming each other for Mar’s loss with Balay—despite the polls—claiming the Binay win as a fluke. The seed of discord had already planted as early as 2010.
The latest polls showing the President’s net satisfaction ratings at an all-time low, forced both the Samar and Balay groups to reactivate their crisis management teams. The Palace is in panic and by racing to save the President and effect a quick turnaround—Pnoy and company could find himself in even deeper trouble.
Mar’s panic is understandable because his chance of becoming the LP standard bearer and winning the presidency in 2016 is directly proportional to PNoy’s pop ratings. If PNoy crashes and burns, Roxas might as well kiss his presidential aspirations goodbye.
Palace insiders say Ochoa is concerned with the way the LP has handled the DAP issue. The August 23, 2013 speech of the President defending the DAP was reportedly the idea of Roxas who managed to convince PNoy to deliver the speech on primetime television despite Ochoa’s protests.
“Ochoa believes the (Senate President Franklin) Drilon and (Budget Secretary Butch Abad are dragging the President down with them,” the Palace source said.
Abad is the architect of the DAP which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Drilon—who failed on his promise to scrap the Senate pork—tried to make up for his failure with an attempt to salvage the impounded money by circumventing the TRO issued by the SC by having the funds declared as “savings” that the President can use in the event of a calamity. Drilon’s antics reportedly did not sit well with House Speaker Belmonte.
The situation has become a fight for the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s life that even the “First Bunso” Kris has been put to active PR service.
Kris’ strategy jumps off from PNoy’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) where the camera cuts away to the gallery and catches the “Queen of All Media” wiping off her tears as her PNoy mouths off the sacrifices of their parents Cory and Ninoy in his impassioned speech.
On August 1, on the occasion of Cory Aquino’s 5th death anniversary, Kris even hinted on the potential martyrdom of PNoy. “He [Noynoy] can’t do it on his own. We need to stand by him and give him strength. Please pray with us also that he stays alive,” Kris told guests after the Holy Mass at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.
Kris, of course, was alluding to PNoy’s mentioning in his SONA of certain “dark forces” that were supposedly out to get him. While much of what makes the Aquino dynasty great has something to do with death, the idea of President Aquino dying to achieve a PR bonanza is totally out of the question.
If PNoy dies, then Vice President Binay becomes President defeating the whole purpose of initiating an ambitious PR mode to save PNoy’s neck and the LP from a public hanging.
What remains clear is that the scenario in the Palace remains as chaotic as ever with the administration content in plugging loopholes and providing band-aid solutions to the country’s problems. Common sense dictates that it is never wise to have two captains run a PR ship.
Right now, PNoy and company appear secure and safe—just like the passengers of the Titanic.
By Miguel Raymundo
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s Disbursement Acceleration Package (DAP) renders Congress useless. DAP is PNoy’s signature and declaration to the Filipinos that he has no need for Congress.
Filipinos spend tens of billions of pesos a year for salaries of congressmen and senators and to underwrite their stealing. Thievery in this Congress has gone too far that a weekly business magazine rightly described it as a crime syndicate.
Who needs a crime syndicate for a Congress? Even PNoy, by his acts, says he does not need Congress, except perhaps to impeach a Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Then will somebody please simply abolish Congress for failing the Filipino people for decades now?
First, Congress failed to protect the people from the biggest crime syndicate in the country led by the President himself.
The President misappropriated some PhP174Billion in forced savings from the budget of executive offices. He pooled these savings to form an illegal fund called the DAP. The Use of these savings is a product of technical malversation—a crime with defined penalties that include a jail term and dismissal from service.
This is PNoy’s biggest crime so far, a thievery ten times worse than that of the PDAF scandal supposedly masterminded by one Janet Lim Napoles.
While PNoy could be the most dishonest President this country has ever had by the magnitude of stealing now going on, his is a long list of dishonest acts from abandoning campaign promises to allowing subalterns to run away with billions of government funds.
PNoy promised us Daang Matuwid. With runaway corruption in the government service, no one but his yellow allies believed this. But of course Daang Matuwid meant a straight path of billions of pesos to the pockets and bank accounts of these yellow allies.
PNoy promised to wipe out poverty. Poverty incidence has gone up as we slipped deeper in international ratings on the measure of success in the fight against poverty.
PNoy said “Pag walang corrupt walang mahirap” and we see the reason why the “mahirap” has increased in numbers.
The people pay over P35Billion in keeping Congress. In return, Congress enacted insignificant laws, like in 2012 a bill on reproductive health and the postponement of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, according to election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
Every year, the only significant bill passed is the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the national budget, the obligatory congress action to legalize government expenditure.
Under PNoy this GAA is not the bible in his spending, this is a scrap of paper that does not merit his attention or, worse, his respect. And, for circumventing the provisions of the budget and violating the Constitution, PNoy ought to go to jail.
According to Macalintal, the PhP35Billion savings from abolishing Congress could be used for other purposes.
But wait, should Congress be abolished, there will be absolute control of the purse by the executive branch.
Remember, Mr. Macalintal, the lawmakers are simply beneficiaries of theft by the executive branch. Remember that the process of stealing starts from Malacanang, passes through Congress and, finally, actually disbursed by the executive branches controlled by the Palace.
So Congress is just one step in the process of theft. Most guilty are those in the executive department, especially people in Malacanang.
Every step in the way in the disbursement of government funds has safety measures against acts of thieves.
I was the chief of budget division and management services division during the martial law days in one office attached to the Office of the President. I had this case of the top official ordering me to transfer funds from capital outlay to maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).
I refused to obey the order, advising the boss it was technical malversation. I briefed him, thinking that being new the government service he did not know our duties. I told the boss this was against the law and I could go to jail if I followed his order.
The national budget defines how the government funds must be used, I told him and I have a duty to my position as budget officer. Of course I resigned few months after that briefing for too suddenly it became very hot in the kitchen.
The system is not rotten. The people in the system are. In solving the corruption in Congress, you don’t kill the system. The solution is for us to stop electing the corrupt to Congress.
Those elected and continue with their thieving ways should be charged in court and put to jail. That is assuming our justice system is working, but that is another story.
The presidential is system is not rotten. It is working fine in other countries like the United States of America. The person in the position makes the position of President rotten.
In the case of the Philippines, our President has shown how he has ruined the image of his position, being most guilty in the PDAF-DAP crime. He should be impeached for everyone to again respect our system.
He is the puppeteer, the one using government cash as strings in the public dance to massive corruption.
Now, if you think stealing from the government coffers is the only form of corruption hurting the economy so much, think again.
Yes corruption has hurt so much the economy that when PNoy and budget secretary Florencio Abad were pooling forced savings to create DAP, the GDP growth went down to half at over 3%.
The forced savings meant putting a stop to infrastructure projects and other people welfare initiatives, pulling out from the national spending over P170Billion.
The ripple effect of this dip in national spending was slow down of economic activities by suppliers to government projects and no jobs. Government spending is also intended to inject life to the economy, to create employment by direct hiring by government and suppliers. Downstream, even the sari-sari stores had to suffer. The net effect of reduced government spending is reduced cash in circulation, reduced disposable income of families.
In the dip in disposable income, government holding down disbursements of public funds has a temporary effect on disposable income. This dip is offset when the hijacked funds are released to fund massive corruption.
The worst source and reason disposable income is on the dive is the cost of basic necessities and utilities like food, power, water, transportation and others.
In the privatization of utilities, corruption in government is not noticed, this form of corruption deliberately moved away from public attention by the taipan-controlled mainstream media.
How bad business succeeds in bleeding dry the middle class and the poorest in this country is a long story of corruption in our congress and our President who is even more corrupt.
By Ronald Roy
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hypocrisy” as the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion. There are disturbing reasons to believe that the much-touted daang matuwid (righteous path) slogan of Pres. B.S. Aquino lll qualifies as a shuddering example of the definition.
Good attracts while evil repels, and this explains the slogan’s proselytizing power. The Tagalog catchphrase is excellent political fodder for largely religious, fanatical, and superstitious Filipinos. They are, to a fault, easily beguiled by the slogan, the same way they are often finagled by quick-money operators who build bogus shrines and sell fake healing water.
Needless to state, the slogan’s large-scale deception is pernicious to our floundering democracy, and only our citizens, if reawakened and unshackled from the yellow camp’s “Rasputinean” enticements, can be their own saviors. However, most of us didn’t believe then Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s claim that God had ordered her to ignore the public clamor for her resignation because He wanted her to continue her good work for the country; so maybe there is hope P-Noy’s bewitching mantra will fizzle out.
But, is there? My persistent irritation is that: despite the president’s slowly diminishing popularity, his slogan still appears to be getting the better of us. Without rattling in public, he quietly seethes with anger whenever confronted by legitimate dissent. And he is good at appearing virtuous, notwithstanding his obviously undemocratic contempt for opposition leaders, vis-à-vis his overwhelmingly indecent defense of misbehaving political allies.
He is a bad sport. His kind of politics is dirty and foul-ridden; and if governance were a basketball game, he would have already been ejected and banned for life which, in reality, is a possibility now that the Supreme Court has unanimously declared DAP ( disbursement acceleration program) to be unconstitutional.
The sovereign people’s anguished cry for justice and restitution of their money has been heeded by the high tribunal, and this for the moment is a reassurance that our magistrates’ principal concern is the people’s welfare — a welcome reminder that the high court is the ultimate rampart for an oppressed citizenry, and that it stands ready to play an activist role to countercheck the abusive executive and legislative departments. But this is only the start of a long, daunting struggle.
As expected, impeachment of the president quickly came to the public psyche on the day of the official announcement of the tribunal’s resolution and, as of this writing, countless theories have evolved regarding its impracticality, futility and legal untenability, as bandied about by the Palace and its cohorts; and most likely, by the time this article’s been published, a number of impeachment complaints have already swamped the lower house’s impeachment committee.
Predictably, not one of them will prosper, impeachment being a political exercise, a numbers game, where P-Noy’s lackey, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, is in full control, not to mention the president’s bottomless kitty for political self-preservation. The DAP reportedly funded the removal of impeachment respondent CJ Renato C. Corona, and it is ironic that the high tribunal’s subject DAP decision now portrays his tormentor, President Noynoy, as having received a dose of his own medicine. Karma?
As I wrote in a previous article, do not expect P-Noy to fire DBM Sec. Butch Abad who is generally seen as the brains and/or orchestrator of the DAP. How could P-Noy, really, have the heart to dump Abad whose wrongful acts he had authorized or acquiesced to? However, a charge of Technical Malversation against Abad is being studied, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Good move, although this could be a clever ploy that effectively diverts attention and pressure from P-Noy. Resignation? I do not think Abad will “take the bullet” for his master by stepping down. I hear this guy is a kapit-tuko of the kapal-muks variety.
So, what have we got before us? The spectacle, no less, of a graft-ridden administration on survival mode, fiercely banking on the power of its hypocritical daang matuwid to convince us: that we have a virtuous leader who rules the country with the best of intentions, by using our money for allegedly legitimate and noble purposes, and without pocketing a single peso, and that this declaration should be enough to shield him against accountability. HUH??? I disagree.
Their unbearably monotonous refrain of “good intentions” and “good faith” must now be laid to rest in the face of the Supreme Court’s statement that the Palace is not yet off the hook, not till the DAP’s sponsors can prove good faith.
Well, P-Noy and cohorts are finished, and here’s why. Senate records show that Sen. Noynoy sponsored a bill to outlaw the DAP because he saw it as an evil. But his colleagues rejected it. Therefore, he has been in bad faith all along. He should graciously resign if only to reduce the ignominy of being tagged as a hypocrite.
THE Aquino administration is in a quandary.
Shortly after putting senators Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada behind bars for their alleged involvement in the PhP10-billion pork barrel scam and issuing a warrant against former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, government is now beset with a problem bigger than pilferage of the PDAF—that of the issue of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Designed as a stimulus package to fast-track public spending and economic and push economic growth—which was supposedly being hampered by a prevailing under-spending in government disbursements—President Aquino approved the DAP in October 2011 upon the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Clusters.
From its approval and throughout 2012-2013 government spent a total PhP142.23 billion in realigned savings from different government agencies on a total 116 DAP-funded budgets. And in declaring the practice to be in violation of the Constitution, the High Tribunal cites the culpability of the proponents and implementers of the illegal government program.
The chief architect of this budget impounding system is Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, the same person whom some quarters have accused of orchestrating and providing tutelage to the players and con artists of the PDAF scam.
If the PDAF scam lists senators and congressmen as possible conspirators, the DAP tags the Office of the President—President PNoy—for approving a program that is against the fundamental laws of the land.
In defense, Malacanang said it “acted in good faith” when it spent hundreds of billions in public funds circumventing the provisions of the Constitution via the DAP. Also, being unconstitutional—in the words of Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda—should not be equated to criminality. Acting in good faith could be taken as the government’s admission of incompetence or an ignorance of the law, with both providing no excuse for the commission of an illegal act.
Because the DAP is very similar to the PDAF in many respects including the funding of projects identified by lawmakers, it is not easy to accept that the line that DAP was money well spent and the thievery was limited to the PDAF.
The PDAF involved an amount less than one percent of the total national budget and the DAP spending is ten times that of the money that Janet Lim Napoles and her co-accused were able to stick their fingers into.
If PDAF is just “pocket change”—Napoles and company are just petty thieves. An audit of the DAP and national budget could lead us to the big-time crooks and the smooth criminals in government.
By Ronald Roy
Sayang, Pres. B.S. Aquino lll missed a golden opportunity — like he often does! He had a great chance as the country’s president to articulate his sovereign bosses’ inalienable birthright to freedom; but he goofed, ironically on such a day as Independence Day! As he delivered his speech extolling his lineage in Naga City, a feisty 19-year-old psychology student from Ateneo de Naga suddenly screamed: “Patalsikin ang Pork Barrel King! Walang pagbabago sa Pilipinas!”
Emmanuel Pio Mijares was immediately grabbed by presidential security agents, gagged with something like a sackcloth reeking of turpentine, then whisked away like a common criminal. Although charged with violation of Art. 153 of the Revised Penal Code (Tumults and other Public Disturbances), he now stands as the latest larger-than-life crusader for freedom of speech, silenced by a repressive reactionary who chose to do wrong instead of good.
If Noynoy Aquino knew that the arrest of the “heckler” was wrong but did nothing to let him go, then we have a president whose despotic nature renders him morally unfit to stay a minute longer in office. On the other hand, if he did not know that it was wrong, or even thought that it was right, he should then resign because this sort of incompetence pertains to people who cannot even understand Pepe and Pilar. Indeed, there must be a severe character flaw that disables P-Noy from learning simple things that other presidents are known to have quickly used to good advantage.
A recent incident comes to mind in the case of US Pres. Barak Obama whose public speech was rudely interrupted by a heckler. Obama calmly told the disrupter, “Sir, please allow me first to finish my speech, then we can discuss your problem later.” Obama was dignified, courteous and persuasive. In contrast, we vividly remember how Pres. Aquino publicly abused, by mouth and body language, then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. P-Noy was un-presidential, scandalous, bastos and €#£?&!
This time around, it didn’t take long before P-Noy came under flak. Being critically excoriated comes with the office, and world leaders know this. But it’s different when censure comes from students, and world leaders know this too. But — does P-Noy know this? Is he not aware that students are the unstoppable dynamo of socio-political change? And that they take their tomorrow very seriously?! When P-Noy was a student, didn’t he burn with reformist fervor? His father must have. Ferdinand E. Marcos did.
I once overheard Marcos regaling four Law school seniors with anecdotes of his campus activism. “I was once like these romantic student activists. It’s their love of country that drives them onward, unmindful of the valley of death”, he reminisced, his eyes flashing with paternal understanding. He then continued, “Tomorrow I shall speak to the five boys who were apprehended at the height of the recent protest rally. I hope to win them over.” FM was referring to a mammoth demonstration outside of Congress that was marked by Molotov-cocktail blasts that injured numerous innocent individuals and burned down some vehicles.
FM had a soft heart for youthful militants. Who can forget the intractable Gerry Barican, the fiery activist who was among those who led that violent demonstration outside Congress? Who would have thought that after a few days, Gerry would completely lose his appetite for violence and become a front-liner of the Kilusan Bagong Lipunan? Who would have thought that student leader Nilo Tayag would likewise succumb to the taming mastery of his nemesis? It was unthinkable that he would, but he did!
Dyed-in-the-wool activists are tough nuts to crack, and it surprised many that Tayag would be quickly transformed into what one might call a KBL disciple, a follower who would go around teaching “Marcosian” principles of building a “new society”. And he did, with a lot of passion and energy.
The youths were not the only ones whom Marcos could sway with his powers of persuasion. While conversing with him, or just listening to him, people of whatever age easily perceived his wisdom, sincerity and goodness. For, how else could he have convinced a would-be assassin not only to reform but also to follow him? I refer to the late Eduardo Figueras Jr., a prominent businessman who failed in his assassination try on Marcos because the latter, who was then playing in the Malacañang Golf Course, didn’t walk from the ninth green to the next tee, the very spot Figueras had chosen to hit the president with a long rifle.
Eddie, a close family friend, told me the entire story. He was arrested and confined, treated well, was asked to read materials about the New Society and the KBL, and became a disciple himself after a year. As he narrated his story, he muttered: “Ronnie, Marcos is a great leader!” Can we say this of the reactionary P-Noy?
By next week, June 30, 2014, PNoy will be a four year old President. He will be two thirds through his six year Presidency. Instead of a Bumbling Fool that he was when he entered Malacanang on June 30, 2010, he will be an accomplished and experienced “Manloloko”. By then, he would have made fools of us several times over. How many more times will he be able to do that to us before he steps down?
Four years ago, PNoy was standing tall on top of PCOS. PCOS had proclaimed him as the winner of the May 2010 Presidential Elections. According to PCOS, he had thirty per cent of the votes of the registered voters. According to PCOS, he was short of a majority, but had won with a respectable plurality. Still according to PCOS, he had beaten Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada 3 to 2 and Manny “Villarroyo” Villar 3 to 1. These were leads of five and ten million votes.
As a matter of comparison, GMA officially beat FPJ by a mere million “Hello Garci” votes in 2004. Fidel Valdez Ramos officially beat Miriam Defensor Santiago by less than a million votes in 1992 in a seven (FVR, MDS, Cojuangco, Mitra, Salonga, Marcos and Laurel) cornered fight. Again, Carlos P. Garcia beat Jose Yulo by less than a million – 800,000 votes – in 1957 in a four (CPG, JY, Manuel Manahan and Claro Mayo Recto) cornered fight.
As far as I can remember, in 1998, 1953, 1939 and 1935, Erap, Ramon Magsaysay and Manuel L. Quezon won by big landslides, while in 1986, 1969, 1965, 1961, 1949 and 1946, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Diosdado Macapagal, Elpidio Quirino and Manuel Roxas beat their opponents and won in close and tightly contested electoral fights. If Marcos had not declared and implemented Martial Law in September 21 – 23, 1972, the November 1973 Elections would have been a bloody and close fight.
Coming back to more recent history, a year ago, from March to June of 2013, the most exotic if not the biggest scandal under the Aquino Administration, the so called Ten Billion Peso Janet Lim Napoles PDAF/Pork Barrel Scam had not yet been exposed. The “Daang Matuwid/Walang Mahirap Pag Walang Kurakot” Aquino Administration was playing blind to it but had at least two fingers – both Balay and Samar – in it.
No one in the Aquino Administration was properly carrying out intelligence gathering, investigation, prosecution or even media preliminary bombardment (leaks and trial balloons), regarding the biggest and widest burglary and plunder of the people’s money. This included Aquino appointed heads and members of Constitutional Bodies like the Commission on Audit and the Ombudsman.
However, many Aquino officials were involved in perpetuating traditional Pork Schemes – PDAF and Congressional Insertions. Some were even inventing new ones like Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The latter was extensively used in the bribery of Congressmen in the Impeachment and Senators in the Conviction of Chief Justice Renato Coronado Corona.
The future Imbroglio was still at the level of a Serious Illegal Detention (of Benhur Lim Luy) case filed by the NBI on March 23 against JLN and her brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim. At least two Extortion attempts on the part of Atty. Levito Baligod on the accused JLN and RJL had failed in meetings on March 25 and 27 with Atty. Villamor and JLN. JLN wrote President Aquino on April 17 for assistance against the extortion attempts. JLN’s lawyer in the preliminary investigation of the case was Atty. Jean Paul Acut of the MOST (the O representing Ochoa as in Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa) Law Firm.
On May 28, Atty. Alfredo L. Villamor accompanied by Atty. Plaridel Bohol met with NBI Director Nonnatus Roxas. On June 10, 2013, the DOJ came out with a Resolution dismissing the Serious Illegal Detention case for lack of Probable Cause. On July 2 and 5, the private complainants and the NBI filed Motions for Reconsideration. On Aug 6 without additional arguments, basis and/or evidence, the MR’s were granted and the finding of Lack of Probable Cause was reversed in a DOJ Review Resolution. On Sept 2, NBI Director Nonnatus Roxas resigned irrevocably.
What had caused the “Daang Di Na Matuwid” to enjoy a little straightening was the July 12-15, 2013 Philippine daily inquirer four part series on the P 10 Billion Janet Lim Napoles PDAF/Pork Scam. On April 28, 2013 Benhur’s parents Gertrudis Lim and Arturo Luy, accompanied by their children and his siblings, Arthur and Annabel, went to the PDI office. They sought the PDI’s assistance for Benhur’s expose of JLN’s scam. They brought Benhur’s computer hard drive with JLN financial records (20,103 files in 2,156 folders.) from 2002 to 2012. The PDI made a copy of all of these. These was the basis not only for the July 12-15, 2013 series but also for the more recent and more numerous front page articles on the JLN Scam.
Had the Luys not gone to the Inquirer, the past year would have been quite different. The March 25 and 27 Negotiations cum Extortion between Baligod and Villamor and JLN probably failed because the amount demanded grew from 38 million pesos in the first meeting to 250 to 300 million pesos plus one and a half million dollars plus 30 million pesos plus Canadian visas for the Luy family. Most probably, JLN would have agreed to the 38 million pesos.
However, when the amount grew to about 400 million pesos, she may have considered cheaper options. She may have thought that the better alternative was to fix the case with the investigators and prosecutors. Thus, Sandra Cam claims that 150 million was given to the DOJ and NBI for the June Resolution including the suppression of media leaks. Sandra also claims that 30 of the 150 million went to NBI Director Roxas and that that is the reason why he resigned irrevocably without a public explanation.
To be continued …
Is the Aquino administration turning a blind eye on US environmental violations?
Malacañang has chosen to play favorites, condemning China for its brazen acts against the country’s environment, and yet are absolutely lenient when it comes to US ecological violations.
Is President Aquino not addressing the issue in fear that it will affect RP-US diplomatic relations, especially when much-needed military support has been emphasized after the previous Obama visit?
The Aquino administration’s sincerity in following up the case of the destruction of the Tubbataha reefs over a year ago by both Chinese vessels and US warships found in Philippine waters is put into question due to its lack of interest in pursuing the US while calling for China’s accountability in the incident.
The grounding of the USS Guardian in Tubbataha last 2013 caused the destruction of at least 2,345 square meters of the marine protected area, while Chinese fishing vessels hit the heritage site not long after.
The government is quick to condemn China for the damage it caused, stating that they are here to defy our national sovereignty and poach within Philippine waters.
Environmental groups raised concerns that other marine reserves and areas would not fare so well as the Tubbataha Reef if poaching activities continued.
Meanwhile, the government continues to neglect its obligation to also hold responsible the US whose presence in the Philippines is to guard its country’s interests.
In 2012, a US warship allegedly disposed toxic chemical wastes at Subic Bay, claiming as means of a cover-up that it disposed “waste water” which was already treated aboard the ship.
However, the secret dumping of toxic waste is an affront to Philippine sovereignty, as it showed their utter disregard for the environment and health of the Filipinos.
Importance of Tubbataha
The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park covers about 130,028 hectares, including the North and South Reefs. It is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species, with the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles.
The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a 100-meter perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.
In December 1993, UNESCO declared Tubbataha as a World Heritage Site. With 358 species of mostly hard corals, it is recognized as having one of the most remarkable coral reefs on the planet.
One millimeter of hard corals takes one year to grow, while one meter of hard corals to mature takes approximately 250 years.
According to CNN, Tubbataha is among the top eight dive sites in the world.
PNoy turns Independence Day celebration into nostalgia show
President Benigno Aquino III used the Independence Day celebration in Naga City to lash out against critics and those who accused him of politicizing the prosecution process.
The choice to hold the national event in Naga City, Camarines Sur was seen by many as the President’s way of avoiding the torrent of protests in Manila. It should be noted that Naga City mayor John Bongat is a Liberal Party colleague, as well as most of the city councilors.
The reason that Naga City was selected as this year’s venue, supposedly, was as a tribute to the fifteen Bicolano martyrs who became victims of the atrocities of Spanish forces during the revolutionary movement.
Whether that is the real reason or not, or whether it was done for more explicit reasons, let the public judge for themselves.
He told the guests that due process is being followed in the prosecution of the pork barrel scam.
“Napapanahon naman pong balikan ang mga pangyayaring ito, lalo pa ngayong tinatahak na natin ang landas ng reporma at tunay na hustisya. Alam naman po natin ang isa sa mga pinakamainit na isyu ngayon: May ilang prominenteng personalidad nang sinampahan ng kaso ng Ombudsman ukol sa isyu ng pagkamkam ng pork barrel. Ang kanilang sinasabi: pinupulitika lamang raw sila. Ipaalala lang po natin: panahon ng eleksiyon noong 2013 nang unang lumutang ang balita tungkol sa illegal detention kay Benhur Luy, pati na ang tungkol sa mga pekeng NGO at pambubulsa sa pondo ng bayan,” he said.
“Ang ibinilin ko po kay Secretary Leila De Lima, huwag gagawa ng akusasyon hangga’t walang karampatang patunay. Sinunod natin ang tamang proseso: nagsagawa ng imbestigasyon, nangalap ng mga ebidensiya, at ngayon ay nagsampa ng kaso. Puwede naman itong ginawa noon nang mabilisan at walang matibay na basehan upang masira ang pangalan ng mga kandidatong dawit sa kontrobersiya, pero idinaan natin sa tamang sistema ang pagpapalabas ng katotohanan. Pagkatapos tayo pa ngayon ang sinasabihan na namumulitika? Kayo na hong bahalang magpasya kung sino ang papanigan niyo sa usaping ito,” the President added.
The other part of his speech consisted less of topics relevant to independence and more about how his family’s rights were violated.
He segued into how the rights of his father, Senator Ninoy Aquino, were violated during the martial law regime.
“Nilitis lang ang aking ama nang ipasailalim na ni Ginoong Marcos ang bansa sa Martial Law. Iniharap sa court martial ang aking ama, kung saan ang militar ang lilitis sa isang sibilyan. Sa hukumang binubuo ng mga mahistrado, abugado at mga testigong itinalaga ng mismong nagsampa ng kaso na si Ginoong Marcos, pilit na binaluktot ng diktadurya ang katarungan. Sa madaling salita po, si Ginoong Marcos ang nag-akusa, siya rin ang naglitis, at siya pa rin ang may kapangyarihang magdesisyon sa apela. Kitang-kita po dito kung paanong binaluktot ng diktador ang sistema ng hustisya upang makuha ang gusto niya,” he said.
He pointed out that the experiences of his family has taught him that rule of law should always be observed in the prosecution of cases.
“Ang karanasan nga po ng aming pamilya ang nagturo sa akin ng kahalagahan ng pakikipaglaban para sa pagkakapantay-pantay upang mawakasan ang siklo ng kawalang katarungan,” he added.
Nothing much can be expected from US President Barack Obama in his April 28-29 official visit in Manila.While he is likely to reassure the Philippines of Americans’ commitment to defend the Philippines in its raging territorial dispute with China, it will not make a difference, given how the US has been badly treating its Asia-Pacific ally over the past decades.
Since both countries forged their so-called Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in 1951, the US hardly cared about the poor state of the Philippines’ military capability.
Calls by Manila for increase in American military aid usually fell on deaf ears among policy makers in Washington. Whatever the Americans gave were nothing more than second-hand hardware – either of World War II vintage or their leftovers in the Vietnam war era.
Now that the geo-political situation has vastly changed, it’s time for both strategic allies to redraw their treaty or risk overtaken by new and bold challenges.
From what was once dubbed the “sleeping giant,” China has suddenly awaken, emerging as the biggest threat to the Philippines’ security interests as both have interlocking claims to the oil-rich Spratlys islands.
With superior naval assets patrolling the disputed chain of islands, China has bullied the Philippines, long perceived as militarily weak.
In the face of China’s aggressiveness in asserting its sovereign claims to the Sprawls, also referred to as the west Philippine sea, Manila in not a few times wanted to invoke the MDT which many politicians label as a mere paper tiger.
But thanks to cooler heads, the MDT remains as a last resort mechanism to avoid what’s likely to be a bigger problem – war.
Hopefully, Obama will use his two-day visit to assess the Philippines’ defense needs, especially in light that the two countries will enter into a new security alliance under the banner of the so-called enhanced defense security agreement.
An offshoot of months of hard bargaining, Filipino negotiators were hard put as they had to reckon with the Constitutional ban on the presence of foreign bases on Philippine soil.
In the end, they had to compromise as Manila agreed to allow US forces the use of Philippines-builtmilitary installations.
For both countries, it’s a win-win situation as they usher in a paradigm shift in their strategic ties, given China’s surging aggression in the hotly contested Spratlys.For the US, Manila’s nod to a new pact gives the Americans the leeway needed as they reposition their defense forces from theMiddle East to Asia.
Under Barack’s pivot policy, the Philippines plays a crucial role because of its strategic location in keeping peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
But more than the much-needed military materiel, the Philippines badly requires America’s political succor as its row with China has assumed complex dimensions.Neither has China eased up in its flexing its military muscle in the high seas nor has it showed signs of flexibility in its diplomatic rapport with the Philippines.
As the world’s policeman, the US is in the best position to cool the tensions between Manila and Beijing for the sake of regional peace and stability.
By Ramon Orosa
THE recent decision of the Supreme Court finding the PDAF unconstitutional is a source of relief to the nation. Sorry that PNoy cannot claim any credit when he had the opportunity to do away with that particular monstrosity. In fact, one might conclude that he resisted every effort to abolish PDAF, which only betrayed his less than sincere commitment to the “matuwid na Daan” and that slogan figures way down in his scale of priorities. Some say he is just so hardheaded, refusing to listen to anybody. Probably true considering that he is surrounded by persons whose values are deeply troubled to begin with and so give advise that they think PNoy wants to hear, playing up to his ego considering his well known obstinacy.
Of course, part of the reason for his obstinacy is likely rooted in his own discretionary use of public funds from different sources, like the Maalampaya funds, the road users tax, dividends from government owned and controlled corporations, etc., etc. Not that he steals from them, but these discretionary funds enable him to buy political loyalty and cooperation for what he perceives to be his agenda, which, of course, nobody knows about, except from rather motherhood like statements.
Some critics suggest that the king has been shown naked, bereft of respect, honor and shorn of a sense of dignity except of the wrong kind, being born to a privileged family. I wonder why the story keeps going about that his mother Cory, was rather firm that she didn’t want PNoy to stand for the presidential office. But she passed away and all the other opportunists sensing they could ride the popularity of Cory, bamboozled PNoy into running for office, probably including most of the relatives. I guess they did not know PNoy as well as Cory or saw for themselves exalted “roles” as puppet masters should he win.
Stories abound that when Mar was still the leading presidential candidate, PNoy’s name was proposed as a vice presidential candidate and this was laughed off the table. Okay let us be more polite by saying the idea was given short shrift! Then Cory dies, and all of a sudden from being a rejected vice-presidential candidate, Mar is pushed down so they could ride the sympathy vote for Cory by making PNoy the presidential candidate.
I suppose the “experienced” politicians around PNoy felt they could gather the perception managers well and maneuver PNoy into whatever posture they felt was appropriate and that they could manage the rest of the bureaucracy (and, of course, gain all the unbidden advantages and fruits there from) . Unfortunately, failing to listen to the views of the mother, and substituting their own secret ambitions, they felt they had it in the bag.
The last three years are certainly proof that this rather brief narration is not without merit except that rather than a smooth flow they have found PNoy to be a rather difficult person to deal with but to whom they must pay obeisance or lose their favored positions. So the nation moves in a zigzag pattern, and the lack of capacity and experience of the king have been unmasked. In a continuing series of mishandled events, the evidence is rather telling that while perhaps personally honest, PNoy’s values are rather pedestrian and do not depart from the values of all the other politicians who believe that politics is king and winning the only consideration. Politics is a position of power to be sought and held on to by any means fair or foul and passed on as a family inheritance to succeeding generations regardless of their qualifications. Well, in some respects one could say that since sense of self is the only real enduring value, one does not need to be competent, moral or competent in the position. After all, those positions had already been retooled to become a lucrative sinecure by legal means or otherwise.
These politicians do not have any sense of love of country, a rather esoteric or abstract notion to begin with. Obviously our best schools have not been able to implant these values into them! Probably because the example of their parents were rather dysfunctional to begin with. Our culture is so conducive to contradictions and dysfunctions resulting in a great divide between reality or what is truly going on and the “public” image that is so carefully cultivated at great cost. I really don’t think the hypocrisy is lost on their children but the pressures to conform to such a lifestyle can be great and the conveniences of an abundant way of living hard to resist.
So, no matter how gained, money and power have become the gods. In truth, they suffer from an incredible love deficiency, not the pretended hypocritical kind. Internal images are distorted because if one were to truly analyze what is going on and we are willing to face truth, 80% of our national and local problems may be traced to poor parenting, especially of the “father” kind. So the self identity suffers from loss of worth and dignity, filled with insecurity and founded on fear which they try to overcome with money, guns, and goons. They seek honor and respect not because they deserve it but because of things outside of themselves. Things that never last and in the end don’t really matter.
They can’t add value to anyone and only seek to use everyone otherwise the others are no one! It is a sad realization of what truly ails our country and why there is no real change that takes place. It is only when we see our realities that we can begin the change process. PNoy was seen as the “savior” and most now see that he is not. Let us stop pointing fingers and getting angry. Let us begin with our own selves and realize that darkness is not fought with anger or bitterness. We each have to become a light in our nation to dispel the darkness that is getting darker each day. Our hope lies within us as we set our faces like flint to do good whenever we are given an opportunity to do so, no matter how modest it might be. Then life can begin to change and so will our nation. This revolution of goodness must start now.