Archive for the 'Philippine Politics' Category

28
Oct
11

The Armed Conflict In Mindanao & PNoy

What has happened to our country these days? Filipinos killing Filipinos! The recent killings of 19 soldiers in the southern part of the Philippines in the province of Basilan proved that the long war between the state and the rebels are still unresolved. It tells us that while there is politics being played by our leaders, our poor soldiers are shedding blood and are dying fighting and shielding themselves while awaiting for the result of the years long of peace talks. Peace talks that seem to be endless and are changing constantly as the terms of office of the Presidents end. Different politicians believe and undertake different processes. As a result we are going nowhere, the conflict continues.

Undeniably, this is a very sensitive and pressing issue because one mistake can lead to the deaths of many. Our poor brethren in Mindanao seem to pay for the price of this war. Bombings everywhere, bloody clashes, lawlessness and violence happen almost so often. I am afraid we are beginning to lose what we tried to carefully avoid in the past, a failed peace process.

While Pnoy cries for all out justice because he believes it is sober and fair and within the bounds of law and leads to lasting peace, and all out war is indiscriminate and borne out of anger, he must also understand, that the state must at all times be superior above all its subjects within its territory and it does not exempt the MILF. While there is an on going peace process, which is extremely important and healthy, the government should not lost control over its territory. It must exercise control at all times and the way things are turning out right now, that control is threatened. I am not sure anymore if this is what we desire for a strong government.

PNoy with MILF Chair Al Haj Murad

The best and most healthy thing and is very urgent at this point in time, if the MILF is really sincere about the peace process, is it should help the government give justice to its victims by turning in, their perpetrator comrades to the government for prosecution. Justice should be served. It is the prime duty of the state to impose peace and order among communities and while there are others who continuously defy the rule of law, should be brought before the law. It is not a matter of whether you call it a war or not. It’s just a term used, but it is matter of bringing in justice to every citizen. Even the monetary cost like what Secretary Ging Deles, head of the office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process attempted to justify over media to be very costly, to me was a desperate move to deceive the general opinion and persuade the Filipino people to chose the silent path and not act at all. I still believe that we can only attain justice if there is general peace.

Whenever there is a diminished control over some parts of our territory, there is the danger of becoming a failed state and this administration should clear its mind and focus on how to attain its goal of peace without wasting more lives of its people.

I feel for the soldiers who died because while I understand the danger that being the protector of peace and order, they are pretty aware that there chosen career constantly plays hide and seek with “Kamatayan”, in the name of the country they are serving and have sworn to protect. Recently, 19 of them and even more, did the ultimate sacrifice by dying so that we can live peacefully. I hope there deaths will never go to waste.

I must admit I was impressed to hear that our President Pnoy on a one on one  talk met with MILF Chair Al Haj Murad in Tokyo on August 5, 2011, to find peaceful solution to the armed conflict in Mindanao. What I and most Filipinos did not know, is that meeting had cost our government which is from our money 5 Million pesos for their so called Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute, a term no one ever heard before. But even so, I don’t think this is right. We have no business extending financial aid to a rebel group at whatever cost. It was never announced to the media until it came out in one of the news papers and not long later, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda confirmed that the President has authorized the release of that 5 Million pesos.

Only 2 months later, the MILF in a bloody clash killed, hacked and mutilated 19 soldiers who did not even realize they were going to die that night since they were supposed to go on a scuba diving training but was given a short notice about a new mission. Is not it sad? Is not it frustrating and disappointing? I wonder how the government and its negotiators feel about it?

These issues are urgent, sensitive and very important. It calls for serious attention and careful planning. We don’t have much luxury of time because lives are cut off everyday. Action is needed now. We need a straight forward-justice driven government.

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24
Oct
11

Albee’s Sugar Act Bill on the Rise

Cong. Albee Benitez

 

Finally, our country’s sugar producing provinces including our very own Negros Occidental is poised to enjoy the most awaited sugar act bill. The Bill will surely help improve the industry which is the Province’s main source of livelihood for the majority of its people.

 

I keep my fingers crossed, but I trust that Congressman Albee Benitez, in collaboration with the sugar industry stakeholders and the SRA, will pave the way to solve the problems of the sugar industry with the passing of the proposed Bill.

Ma. Regina Martin-Bautista, SRA Administrator

 

Concerns like the high price of the locally produced sugar, the high productivity costs, the foreseen drop of tariffs on imports by 5% in 2014 and smuggling, must be considered.

 

Also the Congressman’s recent visit to Thailand, with Sugar Regulatory Administrator Ma. Regina Martin-Bautista and other Congressmen and concerned parties helped conceptualized the idea of coming up with new policies, structural support and reforms that can be imposed in the Philippines to ensure the stability of the Sugar Industry and make it globally competitive.

 

There are also some important bills that need to be looked upon like the excise tax on imported sugar and bills that will assist bio energy.

 

Im glad to hear that talks and consultations are being conducted to make sure all productive inputs are being considered so as not to miss important concerns. I just hope that while these talks are being held, likewise they never miss to discuss the interest of the sugarcane farmers who work in the field and are often left behind when it comes to ensuring their benefits and wages.

Sugarcane workers in the field

 

Having come from the same town, Albee is known for his sincere service, dedication and righteousness, this bill will benefit not just the sugar producers themselves but likewise its workers.

 

Goodluck!

08
Feb
11

AFP Anomalies Revealed

Former COA Auditor Heidi Mendoza

Today, the names of AFP Generals like that of Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva, Roy Cimatu and their Comptrollers Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot frequent the news, not mainly because of their services to the nation, but for pocketing millions of pesos from the state agency. Money which is most needed and could have been used to provide the common soldiers of their boots, uniforms, firearms and other equipment. The so called Bienvenida and Despidida system existed during their times, and this was on top of their monthly 5 million pesos allowance from the AFP coffers + the neverending foreign trips of their hifi wifeys.

Retired AFP Budget Officer Col. George Rabusa

Thanks to Retired AFP Budget Officer George Rabusa, his assistant  Col. Antonio Lim and COA Auditor Heidi Mendoza for bravely exposing these anomalies. I hope their efforts will bear results, not just grilling inquiries and investigations by the Senate and the lower house, but like what they always say, regardless of how long this whole saga takes, it still ends up in the Ombudsman. God bless the victims.

The so called best buddies in foreign trips were the wives of Angelo Reyes and Jacinto Ligot, Teresita and Erlinda, respectively, which often, went with their entourage composed of civilian friends and wives of other military officials. For Ligot alone, 42 trips and for each trip, the AFP shouldered the shopping money of $10,000 and sometimes $15,000. Also, Erlinda Ligot has 2 houses in California worth $688,000 acquired in 2002 and 2003. Her “Amnesia Boy” hubby can hardly remember these properties when asked by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada during the Senate Hearing. All in all, the Ligots has 8 real properties in the United States. Mrs. Ligot, surely lives a good life and enjoyed every opportunity her husband’s work provided her.

Gen. Angelo Reyes+

Reyes on the other hand was accused of pocketing P50 million in send-off gift (pabaon) when he retired in 2001 after only 20 months in office, on top of a P5-million monthly allocation during his term. He denied the allegations. Today, he shot himself dead in front of his mother’s grave. He was heard saying “Sorry” before he shot himself in the chest. The route he took to escape from the trouble he is in, is said to be the biggest crime and sin against life and does not deserve a christian burial according to catholic rites and beliefs.

On top of their 10 million each, for pasalubong (initial cash gift) and 5 million each, monthly allowance, Villanueva allegedly received 164,000 million pesos and Cimatu, 80,000 million pesos, when they retired as their share of the pabaon (send off gifts), will continue to face these accusations, unless they follow Reyes, then its a different story, another lost for the Philippine coffers.

Gen. Carlos "The Brain" Garcia

Another revelation, on top of the initial cash gifts, monthly allowance and send off gifts, there was a ready cash available for the AFP Chief and other officials for their personal and operational expenses, the amount of no lesser than 20,000 million pesos, called a sinking fund. In other words, these money kept in a vault should not go below 20m, otherwise, it should be replenished right away with funds coming from skimmed off allocations for salaries and operational expenses of military units. The conversion, had the go-signal of military comptrollers and the knowledge of state auditors who received commissions.

COA Auditor Divina Cabrera allegedly received 2% commission for every transaction/under investigation

To former Comptroller Carlos Garcia and COA Auditor Divina Cabrera, we will keep an eye on your answers in defense of the allegations against you two.

To the Filipino soldiers in the field, let’s be glad this corruption is finally revealed. Let’s not lost hope, but continue to trust and serve the whole Filipino nation. God is with us.

22
Sep
10

The luring temptation of Jueteng Payola

Jueteng in the Philippines dates back to as far as the Spanish era. Originated from China, it means Jue (flower) and teng (bet), is a very popular and widely played numbers game among Filipinos. Todate, Jueteng is said to generate receipts of 30 Billion Pesos per year. One operator can earn as much as 38 Million Pesos per day. Although illegal, Jueteng is everywhere especially in poverty striken areas. Its popularity crosses all boundaries of social and economic standings. Rich or poor can play Jueteng, but the poor sector where the lure of gaining quick riches is strong, mostly hit by this illegal numbers game.

Time and again, the issue of Jueteng comes and goes. It reached its height of notoriety in 2000 when deposed President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was accused of receiving as much as 500 million Pesos in Jueteng payolas. He was later found guilty of the charge of plunder.

No matter if congress calls for an investigation every now and then, about why Jueteng persists, it just continues and grows bigger and stronger each time. Same old names are popping up like Bong Pineda, Atong Ang, Governor Chavit Singson, Tony Santos, Boy Jalandoni and Danny Ang. Most of these names have  merged with either politics, juduciary or just mere close friends of high ranking Philippine politicians, like Estrada and Macapagal-Arroyo.

In 1995, Rep. Bonifacio Gillego exposed Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee as a “notorious jueteng operator and maintainer”.  Even a family as landed and as wealthy as the Cojuangcos of Tarlac have not been spared of  jueteng allegations: Former Tarlac Rep. Jose Cojuangco Jr., the uncle of President Noynoy Aquino and  brother of former President Corazon C. Aquino, had been implicated in a 1995 House hearing as intervening on behalf of jueteng operators.

 In 2000, Chavit Singson accused then President Estrada of what none of his predecessors has done: systematize and centralize jueteng collections in the Office of the President – with the use of his powers and prerogatives – doing the biggest racket in the country-playing the role of a Godfather.

Cong. Gloria M. Arroyo and Alleged Jueteng Operator Gov. Lilia Pineda of Pampanga

In 2005, Macapagal-Arroyo’s keens were implicated for receiving Jueteng payolas. She was also accused to have received campaign contributions from Pineda from as early as during her Vice Presidential sprees.

Now 2010, we are again in another Jueteng scandal. In the Senate Hearing, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, handed over to Senator Guingona, the list of alleged Jueteng operators and recipients of payolas. It exposed the names of Retired General Jesus Verzosa and DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno to be receiving as much as 8 Million Pesos every month in Jueteng payolas. Both denied having received payoffs. Undersecretary Puno later announced he will file a courtesy resignation when the President arrives from a week long trip to the US. Congressman Teddy Casino says, dont wait for the President to arrive, resign now. The rest of the supposed operators named by Cruz likewise denied the allegations against them.

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz and DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno

Senator Miriam Santiago, for the first time since she filed a leave of absence for hyperthyroidism, attended the senate yesterday to deliver a privilege speech regarding the issue of Jueteng. In her own words, suggesting that the Jueteng lords have found the perfect combination in an equation DILG+PNP=Jueteng, said, 

“In a corrupt situation, all that is necessary is for the interior secretary and the PNP chief to gaze into each other’s eyes, and they fall in love instantly. If you look more closely, you will see that there are peso signs in their eyes, as they gaze lovingly at each other in an orgy of mutual admiration and mutual corruption”. Weird as it is, the Senator made her point clear in explaining why Jueteng continues to exist and prosper. 

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

We have to face the fact that Jueteng has become a major concern for our country, if we are really serious about our goal for a better Philippines. We are left with 2 choices that we need to take seriously whichever we chose.

1. Enforce the law and eradicate the operation of Jueteng everywhere.  Go after the operators and protectors and impose harsh penalties on them.

2. Legalize the operation of Jueteng and earn taxes from it that would help build more classrooms and food in every Filipino table.

Either of the two will surely sacrifice something good. If we chose to enforce the law, the question is until when will we be able to do that? Or its just good if we have faithful officials but what happens if we get to have the likes of Gloria Arroyo after 6 years? What happens if we get to have officials who has less resistance to bribery and the luring sum of payolas? Then we are back again.

If we chose to legalize it, Im afraid, we will just worsen the poverty situation of the country since Jueteng penetrates in the grassroots level and it will be like drowning our own people and teaching them to make gambling part of their daily lives.

President Benigno C. Aquino, III

The government of Noynoy Aquino should take this issue critically. This is something that requires thorough study and correct judgement and responsibility. But I trust we have the best person in the Presidency to handle this pressing issue. For as long as P-Noy continues to enjoy the people’s trust, nothing is impossible. Kaya ng Pinoy, Kaya ni P-Noy.

13
Sep
10

Hail to Executive Order Number 7

Finally, on September 8, P-Noy put a temporary halt to what have been the simplest form of social injustice and typical display of the absence of integrity on the part of GOCC and GFI officials who have, for many years, enriched themselves with fat bonuses and excessive perks. Millions of government funds are spent each year to pay these shameless conscienseless officials whose primary qualification to get the job is to be an ally of the President – the appointing authority. Of course at the expense of the Filipino people, who else? While an ordinary government employee, who goes to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, gets an average pay of say PHP 150,000 per year, these officials, who only attend board meetings twice a month, get as much as PHP 6 million a year. Isn’t it shameful? This is on top of having to belong to a country where 4 million Filipinos barely eat 3 times a day and 3,000 others go out of the country everyday due to poverty.

All in all, more than a hundred GOCC’s were found to be enjoying these fat bonuses including 14 losing government corporations. All it takes, is a board resolution granting themselves such bonuses and whola! It’s in the pocket. Worse, in the case of SSS, their own board members are sent to represent SSS to other boards where SSS have an investment like the Union Bank, in no time, they found themselves swimming in cash from the perks and other hefty compensations including profit sharing and other benefits.

President Benigno S.C. Aquino, III

No matter how these officials try to justify these pays using different excuses and alibis, no amount of explanation will elucidate the act. It is clearly a manifestation of abuse of power, selfishness and corrupt practice. This should be prohibited and if possible brought to court to make these officials answerable for their deeds.

This just got to stop, the Filipino people can no longer stand to tolerate such abuses, not now, not later, not ever again. Despite, the president’s shortcomings on the recent hostage crisis, which I truly believe to have affected our trust ratings on him, including mine, Im still glad we have one Noynoy Aquino, leading us and doing this. I still trust he will continue to do what is right and what is just for every Filipino.

Malacanan Palace by the Pasig River

The suspension until December 31, 2010, per Executive Order #7, of the granting of allowances, bonuses, incentives, and other perks to members of the board of directors/trustees of GOCCs and GFIs, except for reasonable per diems, pending the issuance of new policies and guidelines on the compensation of these board members is a good start. Their benefits need to be regulated accordingly. While it is true that they protect billions worth of assets of these GOCC’s, the many millions they ask these corporations to pay them is quite too much, exorbitant and way overboard. And eventually resulted into a selfish act of corruption in its own way- mindless of the general welfare. A lot of sweeping needs to be done. Before these parasites take over our coffers.

28
Aug
10

One incident, many results

Police and SWAT members assault a tourist bus to rescue hostages at Manila's Rizal Park Monday Aug.23, 2010 in Manila

The neverending debates go on and on over the tragic incident of the Manila Bus Hostage Crisis that happend last August 23. After dismissed Chief Inspector Captain Rolando Mendoza started it all, 8 foreign nationals were dead. The entire Filipino nation is put in an unprecedented situation of shame, disgracefulness, grief, blames, and fear of losing economic promise. There is suddenly a great threat for tourism, export and service industry and investment oppurtunities with China and Hong Kong. In only one day, many things have changed.

Let’s start with our sentiments toward the 26 victims who, while touring our beautiful country, suddenly found themselves as hostages. When one dismissed policeman wanted his position back, held them, using his M16 rifle and a pistol. 8 innocent people causelessly lost their lives, while most of the rest were seriuosly injured. Captain Mendoza himself died of a sniper’s bullet. This is very unfortunate and horrific incident for our country and people. The stains left will forever stay in the minds of many.

A horrified victim being dragged by Hostage Taker Capt. Rolando Mendoza inside the bus

My heartfelt condolences to the victims.

The outrage of Hong Kong People is understandable. And we honor and respect their feelings. While we are humbling ourselves before our chinese brethren, we ask them to find in their hearts to understand us, for we too are in pain and saddend by this unfortunate event.

But what went wrong? There are so many questions that need to be answered but there is no single absolute rightful answer to all the questions. There are so many dimensions that need to be considered. The President of the Philippines is facing what is said to be the government’s failure on its first major crisis, from having been unsuccessfully reached by phone,  to the conflicting stories of his communications group, to smiling, to allegedly having weak control over police and security matters, to not intervening during the operation, to his Tourism Secretary’s non immediate action to help the victims, to his DILG Secretary’s lack of leadership to the PNP and the Manila City Government. Also, the camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is grabbing the oppurtunity to slash back at the Aquino Administration, not recognizing the fact that the new administration had only been in office for 55 days and 9 years before that, they were the ones responsible for preparing the police force for this kind of crisis.

President Benigno S.C. Aquino, III

For the part of the PNP, there was an admission of failed leadership of the crisis committee under Supt. Magtibay, who with 4 others were relieved a day after, and whose successor had been relieved after a day’s appointment. The negotiators also aired out admission of failure. Evidently, the PNP was not prepared to counteract such serious threats to citizen security. From lack of confident judgement, to lack of necessary equipment, to lack of sufficient combat operation tactics, to lack of full control over media, by standers, the hostage taker and the situation as a whole. All of these, unfolded before the international sight.

I still strongly believe, that indeed, the presence of the brother of Mendoza, Gregorio, did not help and infact just worsened the situation. Gregorio, who is also a policeman himself, added insult to injury to the already struggling image of the Philippine Police force. His childish actuations during his arrest did not help at all. Not knowing his real intentions for coming up armed and telling his brother not to give in until he gets back his pistol, was a very unnecessary call. It was just right that he was removed from the scene. Unfortunately, the incident was seen by his brother which resulted to his aggravation. This is were the blame for the media comes in. But so far no media have admitted fault for their free blow by blow footage of the whole saga.

Captain Rolando Mendoza

The draping of the Philippine flag on Mendoza’s coffin was a “major major insult”, not only to the victims but to the dignity of the country as well. Fortunately, they took away the flag after the Chinese embassy reacted. It said, only those who died with heroism, decency and integrity deserve the flag but not those who took advantage of innocent souls and used them to pursue their own personal grievances, like Mendoza. Allegedly, the Mayor of that town in Batangas, sent the flag to be displayed at the casket.

Today, the Chinese government will not accept our RP delegation to China, until we are able to submit a full investigation report of the whole incident. 

Police Force

Instead of blaming and pin pointing at each other, this whole situation suggests that a whole lot of study and improvements need to be done. Crisis awareness should not be taken for granted, along with others. The Philippne National Police needs to be resystematized and fully equipped and prepared for all threats of disastrous crisis.

Lastly, we need a genuine brave leadership in our government.

24
Aug
10

Statement of the President on the hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand

President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, III

 With the rest of the Filipino people, I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost in the hostage situation at the Quirino Grandstand. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs has conveyed our deep feelings of sorrow to the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China and the people of Hong Kong through Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang. I have tasked Secretaries Soliman and Lim to provide everything necessary for the recovery and return home of the survivors. I have directed the fullest cooperation with the Hong Kong authorities on the part of our officials.

From the onset of this incident, the hostage-taker seemed to not be belligerent, as shown by the release of hostages. These were encouraging signs.

We were going to wait him out. The idea was to let the ground commanders who are the experts in this field handle the operation with minimal interference from people who are less expert.

But the situation deteriorated rapidly when, during the course of the negotiations, he was given the letter of the Ombudsman in which she promised to personally review his case. As he was reading the contents of the letter, while talking to an unknown individual on the phone, he became increasingly agitated.

The presence of his brother also added to the tension.

At this point, he threatened to kill a hostage. The police decided to remove the brother from the scene. As the negotiators were departing, the negotiators were shot at.

Media coverage of his brother being taken into custody further agitated the hostage-taker.

Shots were fired. They seemed to be warning shots, as there was no audible indication of tumult or chaos to show that the hostages were in immediate danger.

Nonetheless, the negotiators tried to reestablish contact with the hostage-taker but they were unsuccessful as the cellphone of the hostage-taker was continuously busy. He also refused to answer the throw-phone provided for him by the authorities.

The escape of the driver, combined with his reports that the hostages were being harmed, forced the assault to happen. When the vehicle began to move, and with reports that he had hand grenades, a decision was made to immobilize the vehicle as it would have made the situation even more dangerous.

As we know, the incident tragically ended in the deaths of eight innocent civilians.

We expect more of the facts to come to light and I have ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to thoroughly lead this review.

Copied from:www.president.gov.ph.com




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