Archive for the ‘polls’ Category

Left Forms New Coalition for 2010 Elections

April 21, 2009

A new coalition has been formed to counter the dirty and traditional politics in the country. It has pledged to advance the politics of change and promote a ‘pro-people’ platform for the 2010 elections.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

Progressive party-list groups, people’s organizations, individuals and personalities formed the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan or People’s Patriotic Coalition), Thursday, April 16 at the Bahay ng Alumni, University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.

In his speech, House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo said Makabayan’s primary objective is to advance the politics of change. “Sa esensiya, ang politika ng pagbabago ay naglalayong wakasan at palitan ang reaksyunaryong politika ng status quo na siyang pumipigil sa pag-unlad ng lipunang Pilipino” (In essence, the politics of change aims to put an end to and replace the reactionary politics of the status quo that hinders the progress of Philippine society.)

Ocampo, Mariano Speak During Launching of Makabayan Watch the video

Ocampo said the same politics of change was advanced by Partido ng Bayan (People’s Party) in 1987 and has been advanced by Bayan Muna since 2001.

Ocampo said that while the progressive party-list groups in Congress have achieved victories in the last three elections, the space provided for them remains narrow. “Kung magpapakasya tayo roon, mananatili tayong maliit na minorya sa bilang,” (If we limit ourselves to this, we will remain a minority in number.) he told the audience.

Through Makabayan, Ocampo said, more progressive candidates will run for municipal and even national positions.

Ocampo added that Makabayan will work with local leaders who have stood up against dirty and traditional politics. He cited Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca. “Naghahanap sila ng mga kapanalig…upang isulong ang kilusang pagbabago.” (They are looking for partners …to advance the movement for change.)

Ocampo also said that Makabayan’s politics of change is in harmony with Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s moral force. Makabayan, Ocampo said, aims to provide a channel for transformational leaders being sought for by the Chief Justice.

Makabayan’s general platform for the 2010 elections includes fighting for people empowerment, transparency and accountability in governance, uplifting the lives of the poor, developing a strong and self-reliant domestic economy, a more equitable distribution of wealth, saving the environment, defending the country’s sovereignty, upholding human rights and pursuing a just and lasting peace.

In his speech, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Rafael Mariano described Makabayan as“isang koalisyong nakatuntong at nagsusulong sa mga mithiin, tagumpay at kalakasan ng kilusan ng mamamayan at ng kanilang partidong pampulitika” (a coalition that is founded on and advances the aspirations, victories and strengths of the people’s movement and their political parties).

Candidates for Senate

In a press conference, Makabayan co-chairperson and economist Maita Gomez declared the coalition’s support for at least four candidates for the Senate.

“As of now, we are proposing at least four possible candidates for the Senate. (They are) public officials with clean track records in government and a long history of leadership and public service. Patuloy silang pinagkakatiwalaan ng masa dahil itinataguyod nila ang pulitika ng masa,” (They continue to enjoy the trust of the masses because they advance the politics of the masses.) Gomez said.

Gomez revealed the initial four as Ocampo, Reps. Liza Maza (Gabriela Women’s Party), Mariano, and Teodoro Casiño (Bayan Muna).

Ocampo said the coalition is still scouting for other possible candidates who are willing to embrace Makabayan’s patriotic and pro-people orientation.

New party list groups

Ocampo also announced the formation of two new party-list groups under Makabayan – the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-List and the Confederation for the Unity, Advancement and Recognition of Government Employees (Courage) Party-List.

In an interview, Courage President Ferdinand Gaite said it is high time that government employees have representation in Congress. While Gaite recognized the support of progressive party-list groups in advancing the interest and welfare of government employees, he said it would be better if government employees themselves articulate their own sentiments.

Genuine representation in Congress, Gaite said, will echo the demands of the sector including the P3,000 ($62.93 at the current exchange rate of $1=P47.67) salary increase, security of tenure, right to union/association and the like. “We will also help in articulating the nationalist demands of the people such as the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and opposition to Charter change,” Gaite said.

Courage has 300,000 members in 200 unions nationwide

‘Strongest opposition force’

In a taped message, Jose Maria Sison, speaking as chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), said, “Makabayan is a formidable combination of patriotic and pro-people forces in comparison to the fractious state of the traditional political opposition. Even at this very moment, it can be described as the strongest opposition force in terms of being the most principled instrument of the people, having the most cogent patriotic and progressive platform, gathering the most dedicated and most active volunteers in the service of the people and enjoying the strongest and most reliable mass base on a nationwide scale.”

In her solidarity message, Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, said, “Ang tunay na pagbabago ay magmumula sa tunay na progresibo” (Genuine change will come from genuine progressive leaders.)

She said formation of Makabayan was the “first time a real nationalist coalition” will exist in the country. “This is the only party that is willing to die for their philosophy.”

Former House Speaker Jose de Venecia and wife Gina, Senators Mar Roxas and Francis Pangilinan, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, and film director Joel Lamangan also delivered their solidarity messages.

Former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, lawyers Harry Roque, Evalyn Ursua, Renato Constantino, Jr., National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera,, Reps. Teofisto Guingona III (Bukidnon), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Del de Guzman (Marikina City), Matias Defensor (Quezon City), Abigail Binay (Makati City), former Ambassador Roy Seneres and wife Minerva, former beauty queen Maria Isabel Lopez, Marichu Maceda, Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista, former and incumbent municipal and city officials from different cities and provinces attended the assembly.

Challenges

Maza said that the coalition is ready to oppose all moves to change the 1987 Constitution. “We vow to prosecute Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and top Arroyo officials for plunder and corruption, human rights abuses and other crimes committed under her administration,” she said.

Mariano said Makabayan will be aggressive and strong in the face of big challenges and responsibilities.

In her speech, Maza recalled the political persecution the progressive party lists have gone through, “Maraming hagupit ang hinarap. Walang nagawa ang estado sa tatag ng ating prinsipyo, sa kasigasigan ng ating mga kasama at kaibigan” (We confronted persecution. The state failed to destroy the steadfastness of our principles and the determination of our colleagues and allies.)

“Dinukot, pinatay ang ating kasapian ngunit hindi tayo umatras” (Our members were abducted and killed but we never wavered.)Maza added.

In his message, Sison said, “The electoral form of struggle can be a major part of the movement to arouse, organize and mobilize the people to achieve immediate basic reforms or the ultimate aim of social revolution. There is no error of electoralism or parliamentarism when there is no foreclosing of other forms of struggle that the people have the sovereign right to adopt and wage. There is also no error of reformism when there is no pontification that the struggle for reforms is the sole option of the people.”

Mariano said, “Mahigpit itong tatangan sa mayamang karanasan ng masang nakikibaka at mga nakamit na maniningning na tagumpay” (Makabayan will firmly hold on to the rich experience of the struggling masses and to their glorious victories.)(Bulatlat.com)

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Editorial Cartoon: E-Devil

April 20, 2009

new-poll-menace

Wanna bet? Vote!

Editorial Cartoon: Southern Campaign

April 17, 2009

kampanya-daw

Abu Sayaff is now a Political Endorser.  A puppet political endorser.

Editorial Cartoon: Cabinet

March 6, 2009

general-cabinet

Yeah right!

Pinoy Weekly Editorial: Si Arroyo at ang kanyang mga guwardiyang berdugo

February 4, 2009

HINDI nakapagtataka kung bakit tinutulan ng marami ang pagtalaga ni Pangulong Arroyo sa kontrobersiyal na retiradong mga heneral sa burukrasya.

Isang bukas na lihim kung bakit sa kabila ng matitinding kritisismo sa pagtalaga niya – pinakahuli sina Ret. Vice Admiral Tirso Danga sa National Printing Office, dating AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon bilang hepe ng Presidential Management Staff at posibilidad na pagtalaga kay Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan sa Dangerous Drugs Board – ay nagkikibit-balikat lamang ang pangulo.

Unang dahilan ang kredibilidad ng naturang mga heneral. Nasangkot si Danga sa eskandalong “Hello Garci” at pandaraya sa eleksiyong 2004. Ngayo’y inilagay siya sa NPO na siyang nag-iimprenta ng mga balota para nalalapit na eleksiyong 2010.

Ang kredensiyal naman ni Esperon ay panggigiyera sa mga Moro at rebeldeng komunista. Bago italaga bilang PMS, ipinuwesto muna siya bilang presidential adviser on the peace process. Nagresulta ito sa lalong pagsiklab ng antigong digmaan sa Mindanao nang dahil sa panukalang Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

Samantala, itinuturong sangkot si Palparan sa napakaraming ekstra-hudisyal na pamamaslang sa mga kritiko ni Pangulong Arroyo. Kahit ang Melo Commission na binuo mismo ng gobyerno para imbestigahan ang malaganap na pamamaslang noon, ay nagsabing may pananagutan si Palparan. Pero hindi ito binalak na panagutin ng gobyerno. Sa halip, pinasalamatan pa ito ni Pangulong Arroyo sa isa nitong state of the nation address. At ngayo’y bibigyan pa ng pwesto sa kanyang gabinete.

Sa bilang ng progresibong mga grupo, mahigit 25 dating militar o pulis ang nasa gabinete ng pangulo kabilang na ang Executive Secretary. Idagdag pa ang mga retiradong opisyal na itinalaga naman bilang mga embahador.

Hindi tuloy maiwasang isipin na ang pagtatalagang ito ay dulot ng pagkatakot ni Pangulong Arroyo na mapatalsik o mawala sa puwesto. Dahil sa pagiging di popular na pangulo, mukhang kailangang lagi siyang guwardiyado.

Subalit gaano man yatang kritisismo ang tanggapin ni Pangulong Arroyo ay tatanggapin nito, maitalaga lamang ang matatapat niyang opisyal. Sukdulang lalong sumadsad ang kanyang lupagi nang popularidad.

Ang masama, baka ang buntot ang nagwawagwag sa aso.

Nagbabayad pa ng utang sa kanila ang Pangulo o naghahanda ng militar na pamumuno? Alinman sa dalawa, tiyak ang mga mamamayan ang talo. (SAS)(PinoyWeekly)

Gordon hints at joining 2010 race

October 7, 2008

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:47:00 10/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Hinting at his entry into the 2010 presidential derby, Senator Richard Gordon reminded the nation on Tuesday that the “next president should have competence, integrity and reliability.”

The senator, in a press statement, said he “has remained open to clamor for him by some sectors to seek the presidency come the May 2010 elections,” although it also said he has “yet to make his decision final as he prefers to focus his efforts on his works in the Senate.”

In September, Senate President Manuel Villar declared his decision to seek the presidency in 2010, a move that made him the target of colleagues in the chamber who also harbor presidential ambition.

Villar has been accused of inserting into the 2008 national budget a double funding for the Circumferential-5 extension road in Parañaque City, a claim he and his Senate allies vehemently denied.

With the global financial meltdown, Gordon said the country should have “a strong leader.”

“The next president should be able to offer to the Filipino electorate a proven track record of competence, enjoy integrity and can be relied upon during times of national crisis,” said Gordon.

More than money and political machinery, Gordon said a presidential candidate, or any candidate for national or local post, should possess the right qualities of a strong leader to improve the country and the citizenry.

“The next president of this nation should possess the traits of a strong and competent leader to be able to put to the front burner the need to uplift our people from their suffering and to provide them with the dignity that they deserve,” he said.

“The people should choose a leader that has the right qualifications, an unsullied track record of performance, a national vision, and someone who is least tainted by corruption or by influence of the powerful,” he added.

The statement said Gordon has been strongly pushing for the rehabilitation and acceleration of the country’s education and health care system, the promotion of tourism that would create jobs in the countryside, and the institution of political reforms, foremost of which was the full automation of the country’s electoral exercise.

Concurrently, Gordon is the chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), which he claimed to have modernized, “transforming it into an institution that is not only limited to providing blood and responding to disaster-related incidents, but also offering volunteer, social, community health and nursing, and safety services.”

Recently, the PNRC acquired new equipment such as ambulances, rubber boats and fire trucks, which have allowed its volunteers to respond quickly to more victims of disasters and calamities.

“It is unfortunate that most people look up to politicians who have money and political power, when what they really have to focus on are the good and productive things that a candidate has done to improve the country,” Gordon said.

He explained that the Filipino voters should be “smarter” in choosing the country’s next president by looking deeper into the track record of the candidates.

“Our country needs a leader and not just a political figure. We need a president who knows not only what the country needs, but also what should be prioritized among those needs and how each necessity should be addressed,” he said. (PDI)

Plunder raps filed vs Villar over P1.5-B loan

October 2, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

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Senate President Manuel Villar was charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged failure of his family’s bank to pay a P1.5-billion loan with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

In response, Villar’s office said a similar case had been dismissed “for lack of palpable merit” by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2006.

“Clearly, therefore, this case is a rehash, recycled strategy,” read the statement.

Villar’s lawyer Ma. Nalen Rosero-Galang said this was a case of double jeopardy.

“Imagine, a previously dismissed case resurrected to suit the moment,” she said.

“How can a second plunder case be filed anew by a new set of complainants involving the same property?

“We therefore ask: Who are these people? Who are behind them? What are their motives? Even for the sake of argument that there was merit in the second complaint, the farmers should first establish their ownership of the 483-hectare property before the regional trial court.

“Like any other business concern, the Capitol Bank was not spared by the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. As a result, the bank was forced to seek an emergency loan from the BSP in 1998.

“In return, the Capitol Bank assigned to the BSP its receivables and other collaterals in the form of real estate properties. This is in conformity with the BSP requirements and existing applicable laws and regulations.”

A group of farmers from Norzagaray, Bulacan said they charged Senator Villar with plunder in his capacity as stockholder of the family-owned Optimum Development Bank (formerly Capitol Development Bank).

Their lawyers said Senator Villar was charged with plunder because the BSP loan to the bank “involved public funds which was more than P50 million and that the securing of the unpaid loan was done through a series of loans and transactions.”

Named co-respondent was Villar’s wife, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, ODB president.

Others charged were Anacordita Magno, ODB first vice president; Arturo de los Santos, ODB executive vice president; and Andres Rustia, BSP Department of Loans and Credit, and Asset Management Department managing director.

In their complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman last Sept. 26, the farmers said that Representative Villar and Magno – in their capacity as bank executives – managed to secure a loan from the BSP amounting to almost P1.5 billion – P1.17 billion on April 22, 1998 and P332 million on April 24, 1998.

Based on the promissory notes signed by Rep. Villar and Magno, they promised to pay their loan after six months at an interest rate of 14.957 percent per annum, according to the complaint.

However, the complaint said the bank failed to pay the loan and a deed of real estate mortgage on a 485-hectare agricultural land in Norzagaray, Bulacan was entered into by the bank and Manila Brickworks, Inc., represented by De los Santos, in favor of the BSP, represented by Rustia.

“Records show that Lots 1-9 titles of the real estate mortgage were issued through the relocation plan of Lots 1-9 Sc-11202-D as surveyed for Palmera Homes, Inc. dated April 27, 1995. Palmera Homes is one of the many subdivisions owned by Senator Villar and his wife, Cynthia,” read the complaint.

The farmers are disputing ownership of the 484-hectare land before the Malolos Regional Trial Court.

“But it was only in 2007 that the complainant-farmers learned about the so-called nine transfer certificate of titles (TCT) covering the 484 hectares of land which is now being claimed by the BSP as their property after the foreclosure proceedings it conducted against the CDB,” the farmers said in a statement.

“The complainant-farmer learned about the BSP’s claim when they filed before the Malolos RTC a reconstitution of their land titles after the records of land titles in Norzagaray were burned in a fire that destroyed the building which houses the Registry of Deeds.”

In the case before the Bulacan RTC, the farmers questioned the TCTs in the BSP’s possession since the date of issuance of the sales patent on July 17, 1944 and the date of issuance of the original certificate title on July 25, 1944 “took place when there was no civil government in the Philippines,” which was then under Japanese occupation.

At the Senate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Nacionalista Party secretary-general, said they would like the proper committees to handle the investigation into the charges against Villar.

“I think all the businesses of Senator Villar are declared and they are easy to see,” he said.

“But he will not be the only one to answer all the cases against him but his companies as well.”

‘Palace can’t wash its hands’

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday Malacañang could not wash its hands of the issue of double funding for the C-5 Road extension project since it was responsible for the disbursement of government funds.

“When the first appropriation was released out of the two funds for the same project, they said the other one was put on hold, meaning savings,” he said.

“Who uses savings? The one who holds the money. Maybe (we should) ask the President to assure the people she’ll not misuse the money for purposes for which it was not intended.”

Former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno said the funds could even be used for the 2010 national elections.

“Like what they did in public works in the 2008 budget, P17 billion was added by the congressmen and senators, while P9 billion was cut from foreign-assisted projects,” he said.

“You can release that in the last quarter of 2009 in time for the first quarter of 2010,” he said.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she would file a bill to promote transparency and accountability in passing the budget.

“In 2009, President Arroyo may release these P11.5-billion insertions,” she said.

“By 2010, each project may continue to be implemented. Hence, I strongly suspect that most of these secret projects are going to be used by incumbent legislators for the 2010 elections.”

At Malacañang, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza and Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. debunked claims that the Palace could benefit from the double allocation, since the P200 million added on could become part of President Arroyo’s discretionary funds.

Andaya said the controversy should be kept in the Senate and that the charge that Mrs. Arroyo would use the savings for other purposes was pure speculation and an attempt to muddle the issue.

“While the search for truth on the C-5 issue touches on aspects of budget execution, it is, however, unfair to make the Office of the President part of collateral damage of an intra-chamber dispute,” he said.

Andaya said DBM did not release the P200 million after discovering the double allocation.

Malacañang could not use the “impounded” P200 million for political gains, he added.

Those responsible “should face the music and must not bail out by blaming others for the mistake they committed,” Andaya said. – Edu Punay, Aurea Calica (PStar)

Editorial Cartoon: Magnanakaw

October 1, 2008

They’re both the same.

Relieved by Enrile panel finding in C-5 case, says Villar

October 1, 2008

By HANNAH L. TORREGOZA

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. yesterday expressed satisfaction over the findings of the Senate Finance Committee that investigated the alleged irregular double entry of P200 million for the C-5 Road Extension project in the 2008 national budget.

Villar, who has been implicated in the controversy by opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson, said he and his family felt relieved after Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, chairman of the Finance Committee, said no evidence of wrongdoing was found or established during Monday’s hearing.

“Ako ay natutuwa sa nangyari kahapon na naestablish na wala tayong kinalaman diyan at wala tayong mali na ginawa doon,” Villar said.

Villar also shrugged off threats by the Senate minority bloc to lodge a complaint against him before the Ethics Committee in connection with the controversy.

The Senate President said he was the aggrieved party and should have been the one to file a complaint against those who tried to destroy him, his credibility, his family, and the Senate’s integrity.

“Napatunayan nga na wala kang kasalanan, bakit pa pahahabain?” Villar said. “Kung tutuusin ninyo, ako dapat ang masama ang loob sa nangyari, pero hindi na lang ako kumikibo dahil ang mahalaga sa akin ngayon ay ang institusyon ng Senado at napakarami pa nating problema sa ating bayan ngayon.”

“Napakarami pong naghihintay kung anong mangyayari sa atin sa krisis na nangyayari sa Amerika,” he said.

Lacson, in an interview, said opposition senators are bent on filing a complaint before the Ethics Committee to question an apparent conflict of interest in the controversy.

“Wala naman sa jurisdiction ng Finance Committee yung conflict of interest. Iyon para sa amin, mga public officials, mas importanteng issue iyon. Pero hindi iyon natalakay simply because wala sa jurisdiction ng Finance Committee,” he said.

“Dapat talakayin yung acts of impropriety sa Ethics Committee. So, kung may mga evidence, kung may mga hard evidence, at may pumapasok na mga ebidensya pointing to conflict of interest, then we will bring the matter before the Ethics Committee of the Senate,” Lacson said.

DBM: Bicameral panel should explain double insertion

By DAVID CAGAHASTIAN

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said yesterday members of the bicameral committee on the 2008 national budget should explain the P200 million double insertion for the C5 road project that the Senate investigation last Monday revealed.

The head of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said members of the bicameral committee should explain the P200 million insertion, and that Malacanang should not be blamed for it because the Executive branch does not interfere in deliberations on the budget at the bicameral committee level.

“Why shift the blame to Malacanang? It has nothing to do with the insertion. The DBM is not even a member of the bicameral conference committee,” Andaya said.

“We will hold the amount in question until the Senate or the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) can provide us with information explaining to us sufficiently what this additional amount is for,” he said.

Andaya said those responsible for the insertions should “face the music and must not bail out by blaming others for the mistake they committed.”

The Senate investigation on the C-5 extension project confirmed that a duplicate entry of P200 million was inserted in the 2008 national budget at the bicameral committee level.

Although the P200 million double entry for the C5 project was included and passed in the 2008 national budget, the DBM said the amount could not be disbursed, nor could it be classified as savings then spent for purposes that are not included in the 2008 national budget.

“The amount is appropriated specifically for the C-5 extension project and that is where it should be used,” DBM Assistant Secretary Verbo Bonilla said in a statement.

“Even if it is declared as savings, budget rules prevent the amount to be used for other items outside the regular programs in the Appropriations Act,” Bonilla said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers yesterday urged the DBM to release the additional P200 million earmarked for the completion of the C-5 road extension project which is expected to benefit thousands of commuters.

Parañaque City Rep. Eduardo Zialcita, whose district stands to benefit from the opening of the C5-South Luzon Expressway link road, said he sees no reason why the DBM should continue to withhold the funds for the project.

Party-list Representatives Joel Villanueva of Citizens Battle Against Corruption and Mujiv Hataman of Anak Mindanao agreed with Zialcita.

Villanueva cited “public interest” in calling for the “speedy but transparent completion” of the project. (with a report by Edmer F. Panesa) (ManilaBulletin)

Ping to Manny: See you at ethics panel

October 1, 2008

BY DENNIS GADIL

SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said Senate President Manuel Villar is liable for conflict of interest in pushing for the C-5 road extension project.

Lacson has accused Villar of sponsoring a law while the latter was still a congressman from Las Piñas that mandated the infusion of billions in government money into two housing finance institutions with which his companies did business.

He said now that the investigation of the Senate finance committee on the double entry mess has unmasked Villar as the one who pushed for the additional P200 million for the road extension under the 2008 budget, the battleground shifts to the ethics committee where evidence can be presented.

But Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago thinks otherwise.

“I disagree that this (conflict of interest issue) is a proper matter for the jurisdiction of the ethics committee because our Senate rules provide that ethics committee exercises jurisdiction only if the language or behavior is so-called un-parliamentary, that is to say that the behavior in this case is offensive to a senator or derogates the Senate as an institution,” she said.

Villar, in an interview, expressed relief that the Senate finance committee found no wrongdoing about the insertion in the 2008 budget.

“Wala tayong mali na ginawa doon. Yun pa naman ang aking unang sinasabi na wala talagang anomalya diyan,” he said.

Villar said he hoped his colleagues would no longer bring the matter to the ethics panel chaired by Pia Cayetano.

Malacañang chided Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno for saying that the Executive branch would benefit from the P200 million insertion.

“The Executive doesn’t know why the P200 million insertion was made… The DBM is not even a member of the bicameral conference committee,” Budget Secretary Rolando G. Andaya Jr. said.

“We will hold the amount in question until the Senate or DPWH can provide us with information explaining to us sufficiently what this additional amount is for,” he added, reiterating that the DBM has not released the second P200 million allocation after it discovered the double entry.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said critics should rise above partisan considerations and refrain from making speculative statements.

“The Palace made it clear from the outset that it will not allow any illegal release of any fund, much less benefit from it.”

Reps. Eduardo Zialcita (Lakas, Parañaque City) and Joel Villanueva (PL-Citizens Battle Against Corruption) urged Malacañang to release the second P200 million so that the C-5 Road extension project that would link South Luzon Expressway to Sucat Road would be finished.

They said it would be unfair to commuters, motorists and the transport sector if the project implementation is held hostage by controversies relative to the allegations of double insertion.

“DBM is duty-bound to implement the national budget. It cannot be selective in its implementation. The money to complete the project should be released without delay. There’s no reason why the funds should be put on hold,” said Zialcita, vice president for recruitment of Lakas-CMD.

Villanueva said public interest should be the prevailing consideration particularly as the project has a big potential impact on the traffic condition in southern Metro Manila cities and municipalities.

“After SLEX, Coastal Road and the old Quirino Highway, which are all congested with traffic, the C-5 extension is only main road in and out of Parañaque, Las Piñas and Cavite,” he said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Peter J.G. Tabingo (Malaya)

Editorial Cartoon: (Presidentiable War) Who’s The Victim?

September 28, 2008

We always are.

Editorial Cartoon: (Presidentiable War) Velarde’s Warning

September 26, 2008

Not a joke

Editorial Cartoon: (Presidentiable War) Lacson’s Gift

September 24, 2008

Villar is being groomed as admin bet.

‘Creeping authoritarianism’ seen in GMA executive order

September 23, 2008

By Christina Mendez and Michael Punongbayan
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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Sen. Manuel Roxas II warned yesterday of “creeping authoritarianism” with President Arroyo’s signing last month of an executive order reorganizing the National Peace and Order Council.

Opposition politicians joined Roxas in warning of the “chilling effect” of Executive Order 739, which reportedly grants sweeping powers to Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno in enforcing security laws, including imposing sanctions on local executives seen as not kowtowing to Malacañang.

“This is creepy,” Roxas said.

“What really is the new power of Secretary Puno for? Is it to help keep peace and fight the rebels or is it preparation for emergency rule?” Roxas asked in Filipino.

Roxas said there is basis for the warning of former defense secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. of the possibility that Malacañang might use the armed hostilities in Mindanao to justify the declaration of a state of emergency.

“The reorganization of this NPOC, which resembles the martial law era Peace and Order Council, seems to bring back the same climate of fear, suspicion and surveillance that led to extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses under martial law,” he said.

Under the reorganized NPOC, the POCs in the regional, provincial, city and municipal levels are tasked to “apply moral suasion to and/or recommend sanctions against local chief executives who are giving material and political support to the communist rebels.”

For Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay of the United Opposition, the Arroyo administration used the “communist bogey to justify the signing of Executive Order 739 that effectively neutralizes local executives and strengthens the hand of internal security forces at the local level.”

Sought for comment, Puno laughed off the allegations.

“Some people are getting concerned over something that is not really that big a deal. What an executive order can only do is to delegate the authority of the President,” Puno said at a press briefing at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame.  — With Cecille Suerte Felipe

============

My Take:

This is not a simple authoritarian rule move.  This is the only solution left for the administration to survive the biggest political losses it will incur come 2010 polls.

Now they are employing a single stone to get the two birds on their sight: the parliamentary of streets (which they tag as rebel fronts) and the traditinal political opposition (who has the real capacity to take back Malacañan on 2010).

Villar survived fresh coup attempt

September 23, 2008

Without much fuss, Senate President Manuel Villar, Jr. escaped another minority-led move to unseat him.

Senators Miriam Santiago and Juan Enrile, both part of majority bloc, confirmed this, and stopping short of naming the senator who tipped her about the plan, Santiago revealed that “he is an administration senator like me.”

Reports confirmed a “recruitment operations” to get the number against Villar, and Senator Revilla Jr, was among the approached. He reportedly rejected the idea outright.

But Senator Loren Legarda denied the rumors saying that the Senate has better things to do than Push for Villar’s ouster.
Legarda said she is in for an investigation of the “insertion” in the 2008 budget but not on moves to oust Villar.
Santiago, meanwhile, stressed that Villar will remain as Senate president as long as he enjoys the support of the majority of the senators.
Enrile, for his part, said nobody has approached him because of his declared full support for Villar.
“Nobody has offered me. Nobody has talked to me. And I’m still a member of the majority and I intend to be a member of the majority. There is no reason for me to turn my back on him. I’m not like that. When I work with people, I work with them full faith and credit,” Enrile added. (BarangayRP)

Editorial Cartoon: (2010 Polls) Presidential War, Villars Road

September 17, 2008

To Nowhere?  To Malacañan maybe teheee.

Lacson accused of ‘intellectual dishonesty, blabbering’

September 16, 2008

Senator Arroyo insists politics behind expose

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:04:00 09/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Senator Joker Arroyo lashed back at Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson over his expose on a congressional insertion in the 2008 national budget involving an infrastructure project, accusing him of, among others, “intellectual dishonesty.”

Taking the floor Tuesday at the Senate session, Arroyo dared Lacson to say exactly where corruption has been committed at the Senate.

In his speech Monday, Lacson claimed that corruption was committed right in the halls of the Senate, referring to the double posting of P200 million for the construction of the C-5 road extension in Parañaque City.

But the senator also clarified that his expose was not politically motivated even after this came when Senate President Manny Villar announced his presidential bid in 2010.

Arroyo then urged the Senate to do something about this accusation, saying that the honor of all its members and the chamber itself was now at stake.

At a press conference before the session, Senator Arroyo accused Lacson of “intellectually dishonesty, intellectually blabbering, and maliciously talking about corruption.”

“Senator Lacson is now charging the Senate of corruption. We can’t let this pass, I can’t let this pass,” he said.

Arroyo also criticized Lacson for sparing El Shaddai Leader Brother Mike Velarde who was also implicated in the controversy.

Why “hang” Senate President Manny Villar? Arroyo asked.

Arroyo referred anew to Lacson’s speech in which he quoted the senator as saying, “‘Mike Velarde is out.’ Why does he excuse Mike Velarde”?

“Why? Because Mike Velarde will deliver votes in 2010?” Arroyo said in his speech.

“In 2010, Mike Velarde can give two, three, five billion votes and he says there’s no politics there? By his own actions and by his own words, he betrayed his own motivations,” he said.

Velarde’s company, the Amvel Land Corp, was reported to have been among those that had benefited from the C-5 road extension.

In an interview before the session, however, Lacson denied he was trying to spare Velarde from the investigation.

“Di ako umiiwas [I am not avoiding the inclusion of Velarde in the investigation]. Sabi ko as far as our resolution na pinirmahan ko with seven others, hindi isinama kung sino ang may-ari ng properties [What I said was, as far as the resolution I signed with seven others was concerned, the owners of the properties were not included],” Lacson said, referring to the resolution, directing the Committee of the Whole to conduct an investigation into the matter.

“But Senator Jamby [Madrigal] filed another resolution, calling for an investigation of those who may have benefited or who would benefit sa [from the] construction. Doon masasama si Brother Mike [That’s where Brother Mike will be included] and I would gladly support the move to have him summoned to explain,” Lacson said.

While he also doubted that the charismatic leader was involved in the controversy, Senator Arroyo said he had to raise this point to belie Lacson’s claim that there was no politics involved in his expose.

“I owe Mike Velarde a lot. Two elections, he helped me…I don’t think, he is involved in this,” Arroyo said in the speech.

“I cite his [Velarde] name because I seek the partisanship in the statement of Senator Lacson that while he professes and make the statement that there’s no politics involved, it’s very transparent that politics is the meat of all of these,” he explained.

“Excuse Mike Velarde, hang Villar,” the senator further said.

Villar: ‘I asked more money for C-5 extension but not P200M’

September 16, 2008

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 20:25:00 09/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines — After being embroiled in controversy over the double entry in the 2008 budget of a P200-million item for the C-5 road extension, Senate President Manuel Villar on Tuesday admitted seeking more funds for the project but denied requesting a specific amount.

“I have never denied [asking for funds] which is why I wonder [when I am asked] why I have not admitted it,” Villar told a group of reporters Tuesday evening. “I said I requested [more funds for the] C-5 but I never said I requested P200 million, there never was an amount.”

“Not P200 million,” he said.

Villar was linked to the double entry on Monday by Senator Panfilo Lacson, who said the duplication of the P200 million constituted “corruption committed right in this hall, involving one of us, plain and simple.”

After Lacson’s expose, Villar denied being the proponent of the C-5 project, saying he was merely an advocate.

But Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, pointed to Villar as the one who requested for additional funding for the road extension project.

Asked about Enrile’s statement, Villar said he had, indeed, sought more money for the C-5 project.

“The problem is, they are talking about an insertion, but where will you make the insertion?” he added. “That’s why I don’t use the word insertion because where will you make the insertion, to be fair. For example, you say finish work on the PGH [Philippine General Hospital]. What is that? Is that an insertion?”

“Which is why all this is a mistake in the budget process only; a simple matter blow out of proportion,” he said. “It is being insinuated that I profited from the insertions, as if I had a plan.”

Villar said he had long been advocating the completion of the C-5 but had never requested a specific amount.

Explaining the budget process, Villar said lawmakers merely convey to the finance committee the requests they receive from various sectors. The committee then determines who much goes to fund projects or programs.

“We are the ones who relay the [requests] and then, it depends how much [the committee] gives, if it gives at all,” he said. “Number one, it depends if they give; Number 2, how much they give; and Number 3, how they will give.”

Thus, while he did ask for more money for the C-5 extension, Villar said, “as to how much will be given, I don’t know. If they give P200 million more, that’s welcome. Even the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] said that would be welcome.”

==============

My Take:

Senator Villar knows how to build houses but certainly not roads. teheeee.

Why Are We Where We Are Now?

September 7, 2008

By Nandy Pacheco
Ang Kapatiran Party

The answer to this burning question was summarized in the 1997 Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which said:

“If we are what we are today – a country with a great number of poor and powerless people – one reason is the way we have allowed politics to be debased and prostituted to the lowest level it is in now.”

Over the 11 years since that was written, the Philippine political situation has gone from bad to worse.

Several political cancer cells have to be excised. They include a lack of understanding of what politics is all about; an absence of responsible and accountable political parties; and a loss of the sense of the common good.

Politics are not necessarily dirty. They can be good. But bad politicians defile them and the people allow it. Politics have a moral dimension which can lead us either to good or evil.

“A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful,” says Pope Benedict XVI.

For the voters, politics often means voting on the basis of personality. That leads to wholesale failure of the people to vote their collective aspirations and to vote responsibly.

Voters don’t bother to look into the moral character of the candidates or the political platforms of the parties. Voters do not realize that voting is a creative act of participating in the building of a just and civil society.

People fail to grasp the full impact and meaning of the Constitutional provision that says: “Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

A post-evaluation of EDSA I and EDSA II shows that while we have succeeded in throwing the undesirables out of power, we have failed to give the successors a “list of our clear aspirations” that we would like them to achieve for us. We should be like the good master who gives his servant money and a list of things to buy before sending him or her to the market.

People power should have twin objectives: to replace a regime and to provide the replacement with a laundry list, so to speak, of what the people want. We have attained the first objective but abjectly failed in the second.

For traditional politicians (trapos), politics are a means of enrichment and a source of influence and power for self and family interests. They look at public office as some sort of private property to be passed from one generation to the next. It becomes a family political dynasty.

Trapo politics come into play during election and off-election periods. Trapo politics are made of “big money” politics, the politics of guns and goons, the politics of pork barrels, political patronage and pay-offs, vote buying, deception, hypocrisy, immoral compromises, unliquidated cash advances, electoral chicanery, and other political shenanigans.

The absence of responsible political parties was very evident in the 2007 elections when senatorial candidates ran under either “Team Unity” or “GO”, neither of which are political parties. The frequent absence of a quorum in the House of Representatives is another example of party irresponsibility. Political parties have failed to discipline erring members, just as they have failed to interpret the aspirations of civil society and orient them towards the common good.

We have lost our sense of the common good. We have become too individualistic. We forget that by pursuing the community’s interests we benefit the individuals within it, including ourselves. We must now develop a sense of community where people are committed to the welfare of each other.

We would do well to remember the moral principle that men individually are responsible for what they make of themselves but collectively they are responsible for the world in which they live. All these are major contributory factors to the political problems that the Philippines now faces.

‘Employees, not Arroyo, should get pay hike’ — senators

September 2, 2008

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:59:00 09/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The rank and file in the government—not President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her Cabinet, senators and congressmen—should get a pay hike, according to senators who questioned Malacañang’s move to incorporating a salary hike in the proposed 2009 national budget.

Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said that while he agreed the bureaucracy deserved a pay raise, it should be limited to positions that would attract and retain good talent, such as lawyers, if the salaries were high enough.

Pangilinan said the President, top government officials and lawmakers should be the last ones to get pay a hike since they would be endorsing and approving the proposal.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said a salary hike for the top officials in government was “inappropriate” at this time.

“I think the rank and file should be prioritized because they are the ones whose pockets are hurting from the high cost of transport and food. We lawmakers have perks and benefits,” Lacson said. “Why are they favoring the upper crust? I think the President should not get a higher salary, she should even give back her salaries to the public.”

Sen. Francis Escudero said a salary hike for government officials and lawmakers would reach a total of P1 billion and this amount was better spent on other more pressing items such as food and housing subsidies.

“We are not being hypocrites, we all know government salaries are really low. The question is what items should be prioritized? Raising the pay of government officials would not solve corruption; putting corrupt ones in jail would. There is no guarantee doubling their salaries would solve corruption in the country,” Escudero said.

Early retirement

Ms Arroyo may be “overworked, underpaid and stressed out” but she doesn’t deserve a pay hike, opposition stalwarts said on Monday.

“Perhaps what the President deserves is an early retirement incentive,” said San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito.

Or maybe, as United Opposition (UNO) spokesperson Adel Tamano put it, Ms Arroyo could seek a “better paying job elsewhere.”

Although UNO welcomed a proposal to increase the salary of government employees, it said the President should be excluded.

“We support an increase in the salary of government workers. Government workers, like many Filipinos, can hardly make ends meet because of the economic crisis under the Arroyo administration,” said Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, UNO president.

On Sunday, Press Secretary Jess Dureza said there was nothing irregular about doubling the President’s salary, as all state employees would be given a pay raise in the next four years.

Dureza was reacting to criticism of the four-year salary upgrade plan for state workers that would hike the President’s monthly pay to P120,000 from P60,000. The proposal has been submitted to Congress by the Department of Budget and Management. With a report from Allison W. Lopez

‘Cha-cha dead under GMA watch’

August 24, 2008

By Aurea Calica
Sunday, August 24, 2008

No matter how good it should be for peace and development especially of the economy, moves on Charter change die a natural death under the Arroyo administration apparently because of its unpopularity – and  senators are advising Malacañang never to revive the issue again before 2010.

Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero expressed belief Cha-cha had always been dead under President Arroyo’s watch even as they acknowledged the importance of having the Constitution amended for the country’s development.

“It must no longer be resurrected,” Legarda said.

Escudero, who earlier described the Palace’s latest call for Cha-cha as a diversionary tactic with its botched peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said Cha-cha moves could only go as far as debates and consultations so that people would become aware of it once pushed after 2010.

Revising the Constitution was needed to implement the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain that was supposed to be signed by the government with the MILF.

But senators, the business sector, the Catholic Church, former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos as well as other groups have all opposed the move citing the Arroyo government’s lack of credibility.

In particular, they said the President and her allies might only extend their term of office by changing the country’s Charter.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., whose Joint Resolution No. 10 was backed by the Palace for the establishment of a federal system of government, said he would just continue with his advocacy, believing that giving regions, especially Mindanao greater autonomy, would be better for the country.

“I don’t give a damn about GMA’s (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) Cha-cha. I fight for revising Constitution for federalism,” Pimentel said.

He said his resolution could not be used to extend anybody’s term because it had safeguards and though it sought Congress to convene as a constituent assembly, the two chambers should vote separately on provisions to be amended. This way, the allies of the Palace in the House of Representatives would not be able to flex muscles and insist on the changes they would want being higher in number.

Pimentel lamented that the issue on Cha-cha would always have to take a back seat because the current administration could not be trusted. He said the federalism issue should be separated from the MOA-AD earlier entered into by the government with the MILF.

Malacañang announced it would continue to push for Cha-cha and federalism for the sake of peace in Mindanao.

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. had earlier expressed belief the people surrounding Mrs. Arroyo would not stop in their efforts to amend the Charter so they could perpetuate themselves in power.

“It’s a big group, it’s not just the President. Of course, there are people around her who have this belief and we cannot stop them from advising the President not to step down in 2010 because they don’t want to, ” Villar said.

Villar said Joint Resolution No. 10 that he and other senators signed was only meant to discuss the possible establishment of a federal system of government and in no way did it express a Senate position because it had not even been tackled in the committee.

Legarda scored the deceit seemingly employed by the government in its recent push for Cha-cha, citing a number of promises it made to the MILF like the MOA was a “done deal” when in fact, it would need Congress approval, an enabling law and a constituent assembly and finally, the approval of the people through a plebiscite in 12 months.(PhilStar)

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My Take:

Chacha is not dead.  The only dead is tha pgma version of it.  Whoever will succeed la gloria will still be pushing for it.  Its a Philippine politician thing.

They will change the charter without even putting into place first  the needed mechanism to the effective reform that would follow immediately after the chacha.  They would change the charter because of their politicians mindset that a mere change to the constitution is a reform itself.

Stupid stupid stupid!

Third Force eyes 2010 polls

August 18, 2008

New ‘Reform Coalition’ to give options

By Efren L. Danao, Senior Reporter

A third force called “Reform Coalition” is now being organized so as not to limit voters to just administration and opposition candidates in the 2010 elections, Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said Sunday.

“This coalition will build a reform constituency so that public-sector groups for reforms can join hands with church groups, non-government organizations, civil society and students,” he told The Manila Times.

Pangilinan would not say if the Reform Coalition would merely adopt a presidential candidate in 2010 or field its own. It also was not clear if the coalition would seek accreditation from the Commission on Elections, or Comelec.

“We haven’t discussed those issues yet,” the Senator explained.

He said he has been going around the country trying to cobble up the “Reform Coalition,” and that he has been receiving an encouraging response.

The Senator identified Pam­panga Gov. Ed Panlilio, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, the Movement for Good Governance, some local officials and the Bayan Muna party-list as among those that are also actively pushing for a coalition of reformists.

“The victory of Among Ed, Mayor Robredo and Gov. Padaca showed that people looking for reforms look beyond the candidates of the traditional political parties,” he said.

He also cited a recent survey on perceived presidential aspirants by the USAID, the American government’s aid agency, showing that 45 percent of the respondents picked “none of the above.” Pangilinan said the survey results were not made public, but he was shown a copy.

Among those eying the presidency in 2010 are Vice President Noli de Castro, Senate President Manny Villar Jr., Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City and Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd. Even former President Joseph Estrada, who was booted out of power and later convicted of plunder, said he might run if the opposition fails to rally behind one candidate for the Palace.

Pangilinan took this to mean that an increasing number of people are getting disenchanted with political parties as instruments for reforms. He added that the people’s hopes for reforms after EDSA 1 and EDSA 2 were all dashed mainly because leaders and political parties had pursued the politics of accommodation. EDSA is Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, where bloodless revolutions ousted the late President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Estrada in 2001.

“Our per capita income has not increased in the last 20 years,” Pangilinan added. “The issues we were raising 20 years ago when we were still students are still being raised by the students today. This means nothing has moved.”

People were seeking guidance and direction from national leaders that would take the country “out of the mess we are in,” but got no response, the Senator said.

“If we leave things as they are, I am not optimistic of genuine reforms after 2010. There will only be a change in administration but no reforms. The Reform Coalition will give a message of hope in getting the country out of this mess,” he said.

Genesis of reform

Pangilinan said the idea of a “Reform Coalition” was hatched during the 2007 senatorial elections. The coalition was supposed to be composed of candidates who were neither opposition nor administration. He identified them as then re-electionists Villar, Ralph Recto, Joker Arroyo and himself, along with Sonia Roco and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd, with Roxas as campaign manager.

“We were close to making it happen,” Pangilinan said. “That attempt failed because there was no reform constituency formed around it. Things will be different in 2010.”

Sen. Arroyo and Recto joined the administration ticket. Villar was nominally in the opposition ticket, while Pangilinan campaigned as an independent. Roco and Aquino sided with the opposition.

After the 2007 elections, Pangi­linan rejected any executive post in the Liberal Party after it identified itself as opposition.

The Liberals had endorsed the impeachment of then-President Estrada, Pangilinan said, adding that he did not want the party to join the group led by the former president.

End personality politics

Pangilinan continues to describe himself as “independent,” although he officially remains a member of the Liberal Party.

He said he believes that creating a reform constituency would end personality-oriented elections in the country. He added that elections had been personality-oriented because the political parties had defaulted on their obligations to the electorate.

“The raising of issues is not the voters’ function but the candidates’, and the candidates’ message had always been the same—vote for me,” the Senator said.

He also noted that people are no longer being swayed by huge television advertisements during an election campaign.

“In 2007, only four of the 12 big spenders won. Television exposure alone will not make a candidate win,” he said.(ManilaTimes)

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My Take:

Well, as usual, the political outcast, babbles for the formation of a political third force.  Pangilinan surely is putting is best foot forward to take his chance for the Presidency.

Well, I must admit, its a good strategy, specially now that both administration and traditional political opposition are not looking so handsome in the eyes of the Filipino people.

But surely, im not praying for him to win.  Because my pray will surely get a “noted” response to this mega-senator.

Villar open to coalition with Lakas party in 2010

August 4, 2008

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:51:00 08/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines–Senate President Manuel Villar has declared himself and the Nacionalista Party (NP) he heads open to an alliance in 2010—even with the administration bloc.

“It’s hard to limit our choice of partner because we have not started anything. We are not closing our door to anything,” said Villar in an interview with reporters.

“We have to keep our options open because that is the only way we can establish our independence.”

Linking up with the Lakas-CMD the administration coalition, was a possibility, Villar said, depending on what President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would do—whether she would support one or two candidates, or not support anyone at all.

Villar said he fully expected former president Joseph Estrada, who remains popular, not to support any candidate who would join the administration party or tie up with the administration in a coalition.

“Anything is possible. President Erap is a close friend that I respect. At the right time, we will talk about this,” said Villar on the possibility of fighting Estrada for the presidency in 2010.

Estrada is reportedly toying with the idea of running for president again in 2010 if the opposition fails to come up with a common candidate.

Villar ranked fifth in a recent Pulse Asia survey on presidential candidates for 2010. The survey was topped by Vice President Noli de Castro, Estrada and Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda.

But Villar conceded it was still “too early” to talk about political partnerships, saying the best time would be a year from now or the middle of 2009.

In the meantime, he said that he would focus on keeping his post as Senate President.

An attempt to replace him was foiled earlier this month. It would take 13 senators to replace him.

“These coups do come often, but I believe I have the support of my friends,” he said.

Villar ran for the Senate and won on the opposition ticket but the anti-administration bloc was split on the choice of Senate President. Villar won the post with the support of the administration bloc.

Automated polls travel by land, sea, carabao

August 3, 2008

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:43:00 08/03/2008

BY HORSE, CARABAO AND BANCA.

This is how the Commission on Elections plans to transport the state-of-the-art, touch-screen voting machines to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the elections next week.

Officials of Smartmatic-Sahi Technologies Inc. and Avante International Technology Inc. said setting up the automated voting and counting machines in the country’s most underdeveloped region would be a big logistical challenge.

Some villages and towns are so remote, the companies’ technicians literally have to cross fields and seas to bring the machines and ballots to ARMM’s 1.5 million voters in time for the country’s first-ever automated elections on Aug. 11.

“We have to be creative and innovative in transporting the machines and in retrieving them after the elections,” said Vince Dizon, Smartmatic-Sahi spokesperson, in a recent interview.

Dizon said the company, which would provide the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) system in Maguindanao and transmit the results from the canvassing areas to the Comelec headquarters, had already made transportation arrangements with local officials to ensure the safe arrival of machines in the province and that communication systems would be in place.

Bad roads

In the town of South Upi, Maguindanao, for instance, Dizon said they were looking at transporting the touch-screen machines by horse or carabao because there are no paved roads leading to the school where the voting will take place.

“From the main municipal hall to the barangay, where some of the schools are located, it sometimes takes two hours of travel. The problem is the roads are so bad that even 4 x 4 vehicles have difficulty reaching the area,” he said.

Other options included loading them on motorcycles or habal-habal in some areas and hiring locals to haul the machines on foot, Dizon said.

“Another problem is the Liguasan Marsh in the easternmost part of the province. Since it’s a marshland, the waters rise fast. So we are using bancas,” he said.

Dizon also said the company was scheduled to take a ferry to Turtle Islands off the coast of Tawi-Tawi to install the communication lines and the canvassing machines in the counting center there.

Tawi-Tawi town closer to Malaysia

Smartmatic-Sahi will deploy around 2,300 DRE machines to Maguindanao for the elections. Another 1,000 machines will be shipped to the area as backup.

Leo Querubin, Avante’s project director, said their technicians were scheduled to go to Mapun Island, Tawi-Tawi, last Friday to set up the precinct.

He said the town would be their biggest challenge since it is 18 hours away from Zamboanga City and is closer to Malaysia than to the Philippines.

Avante will supply the specially printed ballots that residents of Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Shariff Kabunsuan will use on Aug. 11.

The ballots would be fed into the Optical Reader Mark machines that would record the votes and transmit the results to the counting centers.

Avante president Kevin Chung said transporting and setting up their counting machines would be relatively easy because they would be placed in accessible towns with telephone lines or Internet connections.

“We have five provinces and some of the places are remote. But the fact is, the counting station is different from the voting stations. The precincts may be very remote, but the counting centers are in schools with reasonable infrastructure,” Chung explained.

Officials of the two companies said the machines could withstand the rigors of bumpy travel and would arrive in their destinations in one piece.

When they sent the machines to South Upi for a trial run, Dizon said the machines held up well and they were able to do a full diagnostic.

Dizon said the DRE machines would be encased in hard plastic and packed tight, so the contents would not shift even if the case were dropped.

Chung, on the other hand, made assurances that the integrity of the ballots would be maintained when they reach the voting stations.

He said each ballot would have a unique and long alpha-numeric security code that would be difficult to decipher.

Chung noted that the OMR would automatically recognize and void a fake ballot.

The Comelec and the two private companies will start moving the election paraphernalia to ARMM by Monday, despite talks of postponing the elections by lawmakers.

Some machines had been sent to the region last week.

95 percent ready

The remaining automated counting and voting machines will be fielded tomorrow and the last deployment will be on Aug. 6 while the sealing of the automated election system will be on Aug. 8, said Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino.

“So basically, we are more or less 95-98 percent ready for Aug. 11,” he noted.

Tolentino also said security arrangements for the historic poll were in place.

Security

“In fact the AFP Western Mindanao Command will deploy 5,545 personnel, while the Eastern Mindanao Command, 5,700. The PNP has likewise committed 7,596 personnel,” he said.

Tolentino added that the Comelec, the military and the police had identified 278 election areas of immediate concern and 703 election areas of concern for the ARMM elections.

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My Take:

Corruption makes a person stupid, or appear stupid for the sake of more cashflows going in their pocket.

Why not travel via air?  It would be easier and it would be less expensive?

Lay off my posters, Bayani tells DPWH

August 2, 2008

By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:38:00 08/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Don’t you dare touch my posters.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando gave this warning yesterday to the Department of Public Works and Highways, which has threatened to tear down his posters around the metropolis.

Unlike commercial billboards, the posters bearing his photo do not imperil lives and property, Fernando said in a statement.

“They shouldn’t do that,” he said of the DPWH’s threat to remove the posters. “Unlike other billboards, they don’t pose danger to lives and property.”

Premature campaigning

“They’re part of an intensified information and educational campaign of the MMDA to instill discipline among residents and restore order in the metropolis,” he said.

The tarpaulin posters carry various messages with similar themes. One shows an unsmiling Fernando, in a barong Tagalog and with arms folded across his chest, with the slogan: “Kaayusan: Metro Guwapo, Tao Ganado, Produktibo, Kahirapan Naiibsan.”

Others urge the public to beautify the city landscape.

Fernando has made known his desire to run for president in 2010. Critics have lambasted him for putting up the posters as part of his early campaigning for the elections but he dismissed the protests as baseless.

Remove billboards, instead

Fernando said the posters, as well as the “Pahayagan ng Bayan” wired frames he has installed on street islands which issue public advisories, do not obstruct the flow of traffic and are not public hazards.

He advised DPWH-National Building Code Development Office Director Emmanuel Cuntapay to just “do his job and remove the commercial billboards found violating the law instead of the MMDA posters.”

Cuntapay has appealed to Fernando to put down his streamers because they might endanger motorists and pedestrians, especially during typhoons.

Popular request

Fernando said the Pahayagan ng Bayan structures were put up upon the request of various government agencies for their respective advocacies.

“We have to inform everybody through these posters and Pahayagan ng Bayan. They are the most effective way to do it. They are all in the interest of the general public,” he said.

Since last month, the DPWH has dismantled 315 billboards in the metropolis, mostly along Edsa.

The campaign to remove illegal billboards gained momentum after the 2006 Typhoon Milenyo wreaked havoc on the metropolis, toppling more than 40 such structures.(PDI)

Claudio back; Mike Defensor quits; Pichay waits

August 1, 2008

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:52:00 08/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines—It’s as if they never said goodbye.

And so, the self-deprecating “crooked” man who bid President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s team farewell last year, Gabriel Claudio, is back.

Another team member, the comebacking Michael “Mike” Defensor, has resigned but has been promised another plum.

And a third, former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, is waiting in the wings.

Defensor is expected to explain his reasons for resigning and reveal what his new post will be at a press conference on Friday in Malacañang.

Defensor and Pichay share one thing in common with the newly appointed director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, former Sen. Ralph Recto, and the new chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, former Sen. Vicente Sotto III:

They were all losers in last year’s senatorial elections when they ran under Ms Arroyo’s Team Unity (TU) banner.

Starting Friday, Claudio, the senior deputy secretary general of the ruling Lakas-CMD party, will reclaim his post as presidential political adviser—a position he vacated in August 2007 after he underwent operation for a left-leaning lower spine.

In a phone interview, a “straightened” Claudio poked fun at his condition.

“The crooked aligns himself again with President Arroyo,” he quipped.

OWWA for Pichay?

As Claudio comes back, Defensor is quitting.

Ms Arroyo’s former chief of staff Thursday resigned his post as head of the presidential task force on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 for still unknown reasons.

Pichay, another TU alumnus, could not be reached for comment on news that he would assume the vacant post of chief of the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Defensor has already asked the permission of Ms Arroyo to leave the task force “after completing his task,” Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said.

Asked why the resignation was so sudden, Dureza said that “Defensor already opened the international airport last July 22.”

Dureza refused to say if Defensor’s resignation stemmed from the latter’s not-so-secret turf war with some officials of the NAIA and the Department of Transportation and Communications who, several Palace officials said, felt undermined by Defensor’s supposed intrusion.

The operation of all airports, including NAIA-3, is under the supervision of Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza’s department.

Upon Ms Arroyo’s instructions, Mendoza had been working to reopen the controversial terminal, which had been mothballed for six years.

New assignment

But Ms Arroyo, in an effort to expedite the opening, issued an administrative order creating the task force in June and named Defensor as chief.

Dureza said Defensor “will have a new assignment” from the President.

Nobody in Malacañang could say Thursday whether his resignation was triggered by reported disagreements over which concessionaires would be allowed to operate in the modern terminal, which will later serve all international flights.

Feeling his way back in

The present NAIA Terminal 2 is being used solely by flag-carrier Philippine Airlines. The other international airlines use the decades-old NAIA Terminal 1.

Claudio has started meeting with governors and mayors “to feel his way back,” said his trusted lieutenant, Ray Roquero, the Lakas executive director.

Claudio is currently a director of the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office.

Claudio said he had received a “clean bill of health” from his doctors, including his twin brother Dr. Rafael.

The 53-year-old Claudio underwent a surgical procedure called a decompressive laminectomy “to release entrapped spinal nerves” and an instrumented fusion “to stabilize the lower spine using titanium implants.”

Claudio had previous surgeries in 1976 to correct the congenital scoliosis of the lumbar spine and in 1977 and 1978 for treatment of an ensuing chronic osteomylitis (bone infection).

“I’m all right, except I will continue my therapy because of arthritic pain muscles around the operated area, which is normal,” he said.

Watch your back

Is he ready to work again?

“I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I have not lost touch with my friends in the Cabinet. I have not seen a bunch of workers in government who are working so hard, so driven by a President who works even harder than anyone of them. So maybe I should do what I can to be of help to them and the President if they need my help,” he said.

Asked about his political mantra, he said: “I should be more careful in watching my back.”(PDI)

GMA camp prepares for 2010

July 26, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Professing their support to the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, local elective officials belonging to the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (Kampi) in the Cordillera vowed to conquer the Palace in 2010, with a merged strength.

The Cordillera merger is the second of 16 similar events nationwide. The first was in Davao on June 18, according to Senator Miguel Zubiri, Lakas-CMD secretary-general. The next leg would be in Region 10.

After the regional mergers, the national centralized merger would follow, he said.

Arroyo personally accepted into the ruling party 28 new members to the Lakas–CMD and upheld the planned merger of the two parties here saying the solidarity of the two forces will ensure economic stability in 2010 and beyond.

Arroyo said the merger is imperative “to combine the talents and resources of both parties, thereby sustaining the economic growth generated during the Ramos and Arroyo administrations.”

The ceremonial joint agreement, was signed by Congressmen Mauricio Domogan for Lakas-CMD and Manuel Agyao, for Kampi, of Baguio City and Kalinga respectively.

Over 200 elective officials of the six Cordillera provinces and two cities converged at the CAP Camp John Hay Convention Plaza to sign the joint declaration.

Nine of 12 Cordillera governors and congressmen belong to either Lakas or Kampi members.

Among those present aside from Domogan and Agyao are Abra solon Cecille Luna, Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan, Mountain Province Gov. Maximo Dalog, and Kalinga Gov. Floydelia Diasen.

Former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit was also among the guests.

House Speaker Prospero Nograles, Lakas chair said if the merger pushes through the unified party will have 143 congressmen, 55 governors, 85 city mayors , 945 municipal mayors and over 7,000 vice-governors, councilors and board members.

“Ayaw nating matalo sa 2010,” (We do not want to lose in 2010) Nograles said. The administration ticket garnered only three seats in the Senate in the 2007 elections.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, concurrently the presidential adviser on political affairs, said with the merger, junking a candidate could be avoided.

“Junking spells defeat,” he said. # Lyn V. Ramo and Ace Alegre(NorDis)

Editorial Cartoon: Recto’s Way to the Senate

July 25, 2008

Administration Senatoriable

Palace defends Recto’s appointment to Neda

July 25, 2008

MALACAÑANG said there is no better person to advise President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on what to do with the value-added tax (VAT) other than former senator Ralph Recto, who is the author of the Expanded VAT Law.

Recto’s authorship of the e-VAT law, which Arroyo proudly announced during the administration’s campaign trail in the 2007 senatorial elections, was seen as the reason for his defeat.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo dismissed statements that Recto’s appointment is an insult to the poor who are burdened by VAT.

Fajardo said Recto’s having authored the e-VAT law put him in the “rare position” of lending proper advice on VAT-related issues.

“Who better to advise the President on VAT matters, to give her the necessary inputs on how to use VAT, or even how to amend VAT to help our people in these trying times of world economic concerns? Let us all give Senator Recto the chance to prove himself,” she said.

Fajardo said Recto would be an “asset” to the government because of his “in-depth understanding of political and economic perspective.”

“He will give a rich political perspective of the aspiration of the masa and the ordinary folk, having served as senator of the land,” she said.

Presidential Management Staff (PMS) director general Cerge Remonde said Recto is “ideal for the position because of his extensive experience in both politics and economics.”

“VAT is not a burden on the poor. On the contrary, it is from VAT that the government is able to subsidize the poor,” he said.

Albay Governor Jose Salceda, Arroyo’s economic adviser, said Recto, his colleague in the House of Representatives, was a hardworking chairman of the committee on economic affairs of the 10th Congress and has “excellent credentials in economics.”

Salceda said Recto also brings with him the additional distinction of being the husband-partner of Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, an award-winning actress.

“And Ate Vi (Santos-Recto) spices that with an LGU (local government unit) perspective. We get two in one: Ate Vi for home economics and Ralph for political economy. He is a friend – partner VATman,” he said.

According to the Subsidy Program Monitor released by Malacañang on the status of the “Katas ng EVAT on Oil,” as of July 21, the social welfare department has disbursed P891.295 million of the P3 billion Pantawid Kuryente Program.

The program has so far served 28.49 percent or 1.78 million of the 6.26 million target lifeline users.

On the P1-billion Scholarship and Student Loan Assistance Program, the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) has disbursed P986.48 million, serving 98.5 percent or 70,270 of 71,960 target beneficiaries.

On the P.5-billion Palit-Ilaw Program, the energy department has given out free compact fluorescent lamps in place of incandescent bulbs to electricity consumers under the lifeline subsidy.

On the P.5-billion Palit-Makina Program, the energy department is meeting with the concerned agencies and stakeholders for financial assistance for the conversion of public jeepneys and buses, conversion of tricycles from two- to four-stroke and the 30-centavo fuel discount, and the re-powering of 50 buses and 50 jeepneys to compressed natural gas by 2009.

Guidelines for implementation are still being worked out on the P.5-billion subsidy for poor senior citizens, the P1-billion subsidy for microfinance projects for wives and families of PUV (public utility vehicle) drivers and conductors, the P1-billion subsidy for Panay and other areas affected by the past typhoon, and the P.5-billion subsidy for hospitals upgrade. (JMR/Sunnex)