PNoy GOVT DO-NOTHING ("AMPAW ADMINISTRATION")

Osmeña brands Aquino, Cabinet ‘non-performers’:AFTER describing President Benigno Aquino III as an “awful manager,” Senator Sergio Osmeña III said Filipinos are becoming exasperated with the Chief Executive and the non-performing assets in his Cabinet for doing nothing since 2010. “They have a lot of things to do, but they didn’t do them,” said Osmeña, who campaigned for Aquino when he ran for President in 2010. He also used a term that President Aquino used to describe do-nothing politicians, calling the government an “ampaw” administration, likening it to a rice puff that is sweet but unsubstantial. “Wait, they did not do anything in 2010. Wait, they did not do anything in 2011... and they did nothing in 2012,” Osmeña said in an interview over radio dzRH. He said the Aquino Cabinet was filled with non-performers that needed to be replaced. Osmeña, who criticized the President “for not listening and merely clinging to his appointees,” should move quickly because he has only two remaining years in his term to prove his worth and do something good for the country. He said the President’s political rivals could easily use the issue of non-performance against them in the coming elections. “I told them... we can fix this, but you’re very slow,” Osmena said, apparently referring to the President and his Cabinet. MORE....

ALSO: Worms infest food aid; Rotten relief shocks Yolanda survivors

Elation turned to horror for typhoon survivors in Barangay Gacao in Palo, Leyte, when maggots crawled out of the food packs that were distributed to them as relief. Reports of the distribution of rotten food followed two other incidents in the province in which food aid that had gone bad was reported buried. Barangay Chairman Panchito Cortez said he saw residents converging on the barangay hall waiting for food packs delivered by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Palo. When they opened the boxes, however, worms as big as grains of rice crawled out of tetra packs and cup noodles. Biscuits were expired, and even the bottled mineral water looked murky, Cortez said. Cortez said the goods were received by Councilwoman Maria Anna Docena, and included 50 boxes of instant coffee, five sacks of assorted biscuits, cup noodles, instant viand in tetra packs and five boxes of mineral water. Cortez said he immediately went to the Palo town hall and confronted MSWD officer Rosalina Balderas, who admitted that the goods came from their office. She said she didn’t know the food was already spoiled and infested with worms, Cortez added.

ALSO: PNoy’s apology nixed by Yolanda survivors, "insincere"

TYPHOON Yolanda survivors on Friday rejected President Benigno Aquino III’s belated apology for not responding fast enough to their needs, saying he needed to answer for his “criminal negligence” and to indemnify the storm victims for the loss of life and property. “We will not accept his apologies,” said Efleda Bautista, a typhoon survivor and convenor of the People Surge alliance, which demanded that Aquino sack rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, for failing to fulfill their responsibilities. “Secretary Soliman has been a dismal failure in providing relief aid for the survivors of Yolanda and even other calamities before that. She must resign and the DSWD brought in line with delivering prompt and continuing relief aid to the Yolanda survivors for as long as they need it,” said Sister Edita Eslopor, the Benedictine nun who leads the People Surge movement. She described Lacson as “a demagogue and a bagman” whose job was to ensure that reconstruction funds went to political allies and the administration’s big business friends. “President Aquino had been weighed and found wanting over the past four months, and any apology from him without the corresponding necessary remedies would be meaningless,” Eslopor said. Aquino offered an apology Thursday when he was being interviewed by students from Tacloban who transferred to the Hope Christian High School in Sta. Cruz, Manila, after Yolanda laid waste to vast areas of the Visayas. “The problem with the President is that we presented our demands in Malacanang but he didn’t face us. Then he rejected our demands in another forum,” Bautista said. “Now he is saying sorry to students who had little to do with what happened with Yolanda.”

ALSO: Rehab (RAY) plan rejected, anti-people, pro big biz

PHOTO: Public displeasure. Protesters pelt with rotten tomatoes the images of President Benigno Aquino III, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Presidential Reconstruction Assistant Panfilo Lacson at the Mendiola Bridge
in Manila. THE alliance of storm survivors People Surge on Thursday boycotted the Yolanda Transparency Forum in Tacloban City organized by the government and the Asia Foundation, saying the event was “useless chatter.” “We have already studied the subject of the forum—the Aquino government’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda or RAY—and we reject it as anti-people, pro-big business, debt-driven and prone to corruption,” said Sister Editha Eslopor, People Surge spokesperson. “We caution fellow survivors and friends that we should not legitimize a flawed reconstruction plan and we should guard against those who will attempt to use us to do so. If the Aquino government cannot even do the basics of providing relief... and other short-term needs of the survivors, how much more for the long-term recovery?” Eslopor said the forum would be “useless chatter” because “the contents of the Aquino government’s RAY were clearly against the interests of the people.” “For example, the RAY proposes about P18 billion for the recovery of agriculture in all regions affected by Yolanda, when the agricultural damage in Eastern Visayas alone was P65 billion. How would the majority of the people, who depend on agriculture, be able to recover with the scant attention paid to their main means of livelihood?”  Mark Simbajon, convenor of People Surge, also reiterated their call for Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to resign, saying they were failures and lacked credibility. “These three are all shameless. Soliman wants to speak of transparency when her own department is involved in various anomalies. The same is true of Lacson and above all, Petilla, who until now has not been able to restore 100 percent of the electricity in the typhoon-stricken areas as he promised,” Simbajon said in an interview. MUCH MORE BELOW...

ALSO: 5,000 students walk-out; tells PNoy to channel pork funds to education

Around 5,000 students of Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology in Manila stormed out of their classes to urge President Benigno Aquino III to re-channel controversial pork barrel funds to education budget. The Supreme Court earlier declared that the Priority Development Assistance Funds (among others) is unconstitutional, following the exposure of an alleged grand scheme involving Janet Lim Napoles and many senators and congressmen. The EARIST students also protested against the “illegal collection” of the P1,500 Development Fee in their school. “Our mobilization today shows the anger and massive discontent of the students from the illegal collection of the P1,500 Development Fee and the inaction of the national government over our demand for greater state subsidy on education. Budget cuts on education is the major reason why illegal fees are collected from students, it is the government’s fault why we carry such burden,” said Institute Student Government President Philip Bautista told National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

ALSO: Students “Rise” and Unite for the Right to Education

Students from various private and state-run universities and colleges gather today, February 6, 2014, to launch the RISE FOR EDUCATION ALLIANCE at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. The said alliance is formed to reiterate the demand for quality and accessible education for all Filipino students, as mandated by the Philippine Constitution. Rise Up is composed of student councils, governments, publications and organizations united in the call for the right to education. “We would like to underscore that Philippine education remains to be one of the most inaccessible in the world, with stratospheric tuition and other schools fees. With the very inhumane minimum wage in the country, the high cost of daily living allowance, majority of Filipino families could not afford to send their children to school. Add to this the yearly tuition and other fees increases that all the more marginalize the already marginalized from accessing education, both public and private,” stresses Ms. Sarah Elago, Rise for Education Co-convenor and National President of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP). “We hold the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) and the Benigno S. Aquino III administration responsible for their wanton disregard for the general studentry via yearly budgets cuts experienced by state universities and colleges (SUCs) and via failure to stop greedy school owners from raising tuition and other school fees,” expresses Ms. Catherine Manangan, Co-Convenor of Rise for Education.

ALSO: Congresswoman Arroyo wants additional support for Math, Science teachers

Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to push benefits for college graduates who will join the Science and Mathematics teachers pool The former president with son Representative Diosdado Macapagal-Arroyo of Camarines Sur filed House Bill 3040, a bill that aims to inspire graduates of science and mathematics courses to pursue careers in academe as teachers. The bill also temporarily removes the requirement of taking licensure examination, allowing these to be teachers be immediately deployed and employed by schools. The teachers will still have to pass Licensure Examinations for Teachers on a later time. HB 3040 also seeks to award scholarship grants and allowances for study visits as additional incentives to the graduates. \

EARLIER REPORT: Arroyo had no part in NBN-ZTE deal—De Venecia III

The government’s main witness in the graft case involving the botched $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp. said he believed former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not have any participation in the transaction. Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, who took the witness stand in the Sandiganbayan hearing and was cross-examined by defense lawyer Lawrence Arroyo (no relation) on Monday, agreed it was “unacceptable” for people who were involved in the deal to be dropping her name. De Venecia, son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., said he believed Arroyo was not involved in the NBN deal but that she was just dragged into the controversy. Arroyo’s coaccused are her husband Mike Arroyo, former Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza. They have been charged with graft for their alleged involvement in the botched NBN-ZTE deal in 2007. De Venecia did not mention Mike Arroyo in his sworn affidavit in the case as he merely referred to seven people, led by Abalos, whom he met at the Wack Wack Country Club in the early part of 2007 for a supposed reconciliatory meeting between himself and the proponents of the ZTE project.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

‘PNoy govt do-nothing ’

MANILA, MARCH 24, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Mar. 19, 2014 at 12:01am 50

Osmeña brands Aquino, Cabinet ‘non-performers’

AFTER describing President Benigno Aquino III as an “awful manager,” Senator Sergio Osmeña III said Filipinos are becoming exasperated with the Chief Executive and the non-performing assets in his Cabinet for doing nothing since 2010.

“They have a lot of things to do, but they didn’t do them,” said Osmeña, who campaigned for Aquino when he ran for President in 2010.

He also used a term that President Aquino used to describe do-nothing politicians, calling the government an “ampaw” administration, likening it to a rice puff that is sweet but unsubstantial.

“Wait, they did not do anything in 2010. Wait, they did not do anything in 2011... and they did nothing in 2012,” Osmeña said in an interview over radio dzRH.

He said the Aquino Cabinet was filled with non-performers that needed to be replaced.

Osmeña, who criticized the President “for not listening and merely clinging to his appointees,” should move quickly because he has only two remaining years in his term to prove his worth and do something good for the country.

He said the President’s political rivals could easily use the issue of non-performance against them in the coming elections.

“I told them... we can fix this, but you’re very slow,” Osmena said, apparently referring to the President and his Cabinet.

“I advised them to rush, but until now, not even one infrastructure project under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) [program] has been accomplished. I also talked about energy, which I said was very important. If you don’t do it today, it will not happen,” Osmeña said.

So far, he said, Aquino had been blaming the power mess on the previous administration.

“But if by next year, and we still have the power shortage, it is the fault of the Aquino government,” Osmeña said.

“Since 2010, there was already [a power] shortage in Mindanao, [with] three- to four-hour brownouts. I know that because I campaigned there. I asked that I be interviewed on the radio, but it was not feasible because the brownout there was from 8 a.m. to 12 noon,” he recalled.

“So, we have to resolve this problem, we have to move faster,” he said.

The President’s tendency to wait would also reduce his ability to endorse his successor in the 2016 elections, Osmena said.

“I think that the Aquino administration might also be called ‘ampaw’ because they have not done so many things, which they can do,” he said.

He admitted he had several misunderstandings with the President, whom he described as an honest man.

“If we are going to make a report card, you will see there are many projects that should have been ongoing by this time, or last year, or two years ago, which haven’t started up to this time. That is

the performance of the Aquino administration,” he said.

Asked if he regretted backing Aquino’s presidential bid, Osmena would not give a categorical response.

“Nothing is 100 percent white,” he said.

He acknowledged that investors were happy with Aquino’s administration’s anti-corruption

Campaign and were commending him for his honesty.

This was reflected in several high-profile arrests, including the people involved in the pork barrel scam and the Globe Asiatique scandal.

On the other hand, he said, infrastructure projects such as the expansion of the light railway system have been delayed.

“There are also infrastructure projects all over the place, like the Mactan Airport, which has been delayed for three years. And now, there might also be a postponement because I am questioning why it was given to a company without due diligence ,” he said.

While the President listened to is advice in 2010, things are different now, the senator said.

“After that, he chose all his classmates, his shooting mates, his relatives. He selected them,” Osmena said.

He said he had no regrets for supporting Aquino, who he insisted was the best candidate in 2010.

“But I am also very disappointed. I am ashamed that he did not perform well. If he can drive 80 mph, why drive at only 30mph?”

He said the public needed to light a fire under the President’s feet.

“If we are complacent, nothing will happen,” said Osmeña.

Osmena said he received many text messages last week supporting him when he criticized Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla’s handling of the power crisis and urged the President to fire him.

Worms infest food aid Mar. 20, 2014 at 12:01am By Marvin T. Modelo, Maricel V. Cruz and Joyce Pangco Pañares

Rotten relief shocks Yolanda survivors



Revolting. Government social workers and residents inspect the food aid that turned out to be crawling with maggots at the village hall of Barangay Gacao in Palo, Leyte. MARVIN MODELO

TACLOBAN CITY—Elation turned to horror for typhoon survivors in Barangay Gacao in Palo, Leyte, when maggots crawled out of the food packs that were distributed to them as relief.

Reports of the distribution of rotten food followed two other incidents in the province in which food aid that had gone bad was reported buried.

Barangay Chairman Panchito Cortez said he saw residents converging on the barangay hall waiting for food packs delivered by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Palo.

When they opened the boxes, however, worms as big as grains of rice crawled out of tetra packs and cup noodles. Biscuits were expired, and even the bottled mineral water looked murky, Cortez said.

Cortez said the goods were received by Councilwoman Maria Anna Docena, and included 50 boxes of instant coffee, five sacks of assorted biscuits, cup noodles, instant viand in tetra packs and five boxes of mineral water.

Cortez said he immediately went to the Palo town hall and confronted MSWD officer Rosalina Balderas, who admitted that the goods came from their office.

She said she didn’t know the food was already spoiled and infested with worms, Cortez added.

In a recent interview with the Manila Standard Today, Balderas admitted that truckloads of expired and spoiled food aid were dumped and buried in an open dumpsite in Barangay. San Jose on Feb. 5 and March 6.

Balderas said that biscuits, cupcakes, canned goods, and even rice were declared by their office as being unfit for human consumption.

Palo, Leyte Mayor Remedios Petilla, in an interview with a newspaper (not with Manila Standard Today) admitted that four sacks of rice, four sacks of assorted biscuits, one-fourth sack of canned

goods, three sacks and two boxes of used clothing, three sacks of used shoes and 10 pieces of instant noodles were indeed buried in the dump but not truckloads as was reported. She branded the report as “baseless, unfair and malicious”.

Mayor Petilla, a former Leyte provincial governor and former representative of the first district of Leyte, is the mother of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and incumbent Leyte governor Dominic Petilla.

In the House, calls for an onsite investigation of the dumping of food aid gathered steam.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, an administration ally, supported calls by opposition lawmakers to investigate the reported dumping, saying this could tarnish the country’s reputation in the international donor community.

“Even if the House is on a recess, a committee probe the alleged dumping can be launched to shed light on the issue. This is not only of national interest as it does not only affect our fellow Filipinos who are victims of the typhoon. This also affects the countries and international institutions who reached out to us in our time of need. What would donor countries think of the Philippines?” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian recalled the World Bank’s recent report tackling food loss, which showed that one-quarter to one-third of all food produced globally is either thrown away or lost while being transported to market.

Quoting World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim, Gatchalian said the amount of food lost or wasted was shameful because millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night.

The investigation, the Valenzuela lawmaker added, should lead to prosecution of the people responsible for the blunder and an improvement in logistical support in times of disasters.

“With the unprecedented volume of donations, DSWD should have planned better logistical support. Or the more pragmatic approach is to just give away the donations to whoever needs it. With all the aid coming in, we have a moral obligation to feed and help the victims of Yolanda.”

Earlier, Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon called for a probe into the dumping of food aid.

Also on Wednesday, Buahy party-list Rep. Lito Atienza called the attention of the DSWD on the increasing number of street dwellers in Metro Manila.

“What are you doing with the street dwellers and why are they not getting a share of the CCT [conditional cash tranfer, the government’s dole program]? Let us see some swift action done in Metro Manila, especially with everything you have in your bag, the P66-billion CCT in particular,” Atienza said.

The growing number of street dwellers, he added, was proof that the DSWD had failed miserably in making use of its P66 billion dole, which came from taxpayers’ money.

“I have asked our barangay coordinators to look into and verify the list of recipients submitted by the DSWD, but sad to say that majority of them are non-existent. The so-called recipients list must have come from the White Pages of the directory,” Atienza added.

Atienza vowed to scrutinize the DSWD’s proposed budget for 2015 to ensure the same mistakes are not committed again.

“Secretary [Corazon] Soliman has a lot of explaining to do,” he said.

President Aquino’s rehabilitation czar, Secretary Panfilo Lacson, said the administration has slashed by more than two-thirds the budget needed to rebuild areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda because costs have come down.

“You can say it is a pleasing problem because the cost has gone down, but the magnitude and urgency for the rebuilding is still there,” Lacson told the Manila Standard in a phone interview.

“The disparity can be attributed to two things: one, the contribution from the private sector, from multilaterals, and other donor groups is very evident. Two, when the first estimate was made, it was based on the cost of damage. When our economic team re-ran the figures, it was already based on actual needs assessment,” he added.

From an earlier estimate of P360.9 billion, the figure is now down to P106 billion.

Earlier, the government also lowered the budget for the rehabilitation of the areas affected by typhoon Pablo in 2012 from P36 billion to P11 billion.

The Department of Agriculture said the agri-fishery sector alone would need P18.9 billion for recovery and reconstruction, including farm clearing and cleaning, cutting of felled coconut trees, seeds and fertilizer distribution, farm tools distribution, provision of banca and other fishing gear, and desilting of irrigation canals.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said since the start of the year, the government has already released P30 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction in Yolanda-hit areas.

“We will aim to disburse all this year, as much as possible in the first semester,” Abad said.

“But you know the challenge of these obligations and disbursements remain, so what we’re trying to do now is try to look at the different modalities of releasing the money directly to the communities, and I think that is really going to be the challenge for the rest of the year,” he added.

The government has P23 billion in reconstruction fund from 2013; and P20 billion in reconstruction fund and P80 billion in unprogrammed funds in the 2014 budget.

“We passed the budget for 2014 (into law) before Yolanda hit several areas in the country. So many of the programs that were supposed to be implemented in the four regions hit by Yolanda could no longer be implemented, so we can now realign those funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction,” Abad said.

PNoy’s apology nixed Mar. 15, 2014 at 12:01am 29 By Ronald O. Reyes and Maricel V. Cruz

People Surge dubs gesture ‘insincere’

TYPHOON Yolanda survivors on Friday rejected President Benigno Aquino III’s belated apology for not responding fast enough to their needs, saying he needed to answer for his “criminal negligence” and to indemnify the storm victims for the loss of life and property.

“We will not accept his apologies,” said Efleda Bautista, a typhoon survivor and convenor of the People Surge alliance, which demanded that Aquino sack rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, for failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

“Secretary Soliman has been a dismal failure in providing relief aid for the survivors of Yolanda and even other calamities before that. She must resign and the DSWD brought in line with delivering prompt and continuing relief aid to the Yolanda survivors for as long as they need it,” said Sister Edita Eslopor, the Benedictine nun who leads the People Surge movement.

She described Lacson as “a demagogue and a bagman” whose job was to ensure that reconstruction funds went to political allies and the administration’s big business friends.

“President Aquino had been weighed and found wanting over the past four months, and any apology from him without the corresponding necessary remedies would be meaningless,” Eslopor said.

Aquino offered an apology Thursday when he was being interviewed by students from Tacloban who transferred to the Hope Christian High School in Sta. Cruz, Manila, after Yolanda laid waste to vast areas of the Visayas.

“The problem with the President is that we presented our demands in Malacanang but he didn’t face us. Then he rejected our demands in another forum,” Bautista said. “Now he is saying sorry to students who had little to do with what happened with Yolanda.”

Eslopor hit Aquino “for insulting the public” with an apology after four months of government failure in providing relief and rehabilitation.

“President Aquino’s ‘apology’ seems to try to get away with his arrogant refusal to take responsibility for four months of hell for the Yolanda survivors,” said Eslopor.

“The ‘apology’ is not even directed to us, the survivors, who went to Malacanang in February and got snubbed by the President 100 days after Yolanda struck the region. Yolanda victims have been starving and dying as a result of this government’s ineptness and gross negligence and all he could say was ‘sorry’?” she added.

In an earlier interview with MST, Eslopor recalled how Aquino ignored her and other female victims during their visit to Malacanang. “The President did not even bother to give us water to drink.”

Eslopor said the government must make the people’s immediate and long-term needs its priority.

“The people’s lives are at stake. If President Aquino is sincere in apologizing for his government’s shortcomings, he must immediately compensate the Yolanda survivors with the P40,000 cash assistance they have been demanding,” she said.

The government must also direct the revival of the agriculture and industry in the region to provide the people’s livelihood.

“He must ensure that people have real jobs that can sustain their families. He must ensure onsite development in devastated areas that will ensure housing and stable and decent livelihood especially along coastal communities instead of imposing the unjust ‘no-build zone’ that effectively evicts Yolanda-stricken families from their homes and livelihood,” Eslopor added.

Earlier this week, the Social Welfare Department under Soliman came under fire for burying food aid that had gone bad in Palo, Leyte.

“The President cannot appease the people with mere apologies without performance. The people are desperate already, their outrage will certainly lead them to confront the government if their miseries are not addressed,” Eslopor said.

She said the recovery envisioned by Lacson would merely restore the “same unjust socio-economic conditions that impoverished the people even before Yolanda.

Lawmakers on Friday said the President’s admission of a slow response should spur the agencies concerned to take faster action.

In separate interviews with the Manila Standard, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Cibac party-list, Ako-Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and opposition Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said national and local government agencies must fully cooperate to help survivors get back on their feet.

But the President’s critics from the left, including Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Aquino’s apology only confirmed the government’s inaction and insensitivity to the plight of the typhoon victims.

“That is what we have been saying all along. And the snail-paced, politicized action from national government is what drove the Yolanda victims, who organized themselves into People Surge, to storm Malacanang, to no avail,” Ilagan said.

Zarate said President Aquino should be held accountable for criminal negligence.

“The whole relief effort from national is not only slow, but also mismanaged,” Ilagan added.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, member of the House independent minority bloc, said he was disappointed by the President’s statement.

“It would have been utterly senseless and insensitive for government to insist it was doing a great job in responding to the needs of our people in the calamity areas. It was untrue and un-Christian,” De la Cruz said.

But Belmonte said there was a positive side to Aquino’s admission, saying this was added impetus for Lacson to identify the choke points in the government effort to speed up rehabilitation activities.

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a member of the House minority bloc, said President Aquino was ‘humble’ enough to admit his lapses.

“His candidness is admirable. His Cabinet members, especially his spokesmen, should follow his example,” said Bello.

Tugna said the President’s apology was “a sign of personal strength and character” to own up to his mistakes.

“The President’s admission is a recognition on his part that there should be an improvement in the rehabilitation efforts,” Tugna said.

MANILA STANDARD

Rehab plan rejected Mar. 21, 2014 at 12:01am By Ronald O. Reyes, Macon R. Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz and Joyce Pangco Pañares

People Surge boycotts aid forum, tags it as ‘useless chatter’


Public displeasure. Protesters pelt with rotten tomatoes the images of President Benigno Aquino III, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Presidential Reconstruction Assistant Panfilo Lacson at the Mendiola Bridge in Manila.

THE alliance of storm survivors People Surge on Thursday boycotted the Yolanda Transparency Forum in Tacloban City organized by the government and the Asia Foundation, saying the event was “useless chatter.”

“We have already studied the subject of the forum—the Aquino government’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda or RAY—and we reject it as anti-people, pro-big business, debt-driven and prone to corruption,” said Sister Editha Eslopor, People Surge spokesperson.

“We caution fellow survivors and friends that we should not legitimize a flawed reconstruction plan and we should guard against those who will attempt to use us to do so. If the Aquino government cannot even do the basics of providing relief... and other short-term needs of the survivors, how much more for the long-term recovery?”

Eslopor said the forum would be “useless chatter” because “the contents of the Aquino government’s RAY were clearly against the interests of the people.”

“For example, the RAY proposes about P18 billion for the recovery of agriculture in all regions affected by Yolanda, when the agricultural damage in Eastern Visayas alone was P65 billion. How would the majority of the people, who depend on agriculture, be able to recover with the scant attention paid to their main means of livelihood?”

“The Aquino government also diminishes its efforts and gives undue importance to the private sector involved in the post-Yolanda reconstruction. But it is the national government’s responsibility to lead the reconstruction, and in the final analysis, many private companies involved are not in there for humanitarian reasons but for profit. While the government abandons its responsibility, it is thus also giving opportunity for massive corruption to arise among the high officials and the big business friends of the government,” Eslopor said in a statement.

Eslopor maintained her group “would rather rely on the movement of the people to demand accountability rather than on any pretenses at transparency by the Aquino government.”

“The accusations of corruption and the complaints by the people who are not receiving aid continue to hound the Aquino government despite its attempts to feign transparency,” she said.

Mark Simbajon, convenor of People Surge, also reiterated their call for Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to resign, saying they were failures and lacked credibility.

“These three are all shameless. Soliman wants to speak of transparency when her own department is involved in various anomalies. The same is true of Lacson and above all, Petilla, who until now has not been able to restore 100 percent of the electricity in the typhoon-stricken areas as he promised,” Simbajon said in an interview.


Manila as Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Tacloban City (below) stage their own protest rally to greet
Soliman, who was in the city on Thursday. LINO SANTOS/DEAN LACANDAZO

Senator JV Ejercito, who was in Tacloban welcome Junior Chamber International president Shine Bhaskaran on his visit to the city, said Aquino should waste no time in providing relief and rehabilitation.

Ejercito added that President Benigno Aquino III should take criticism constructively to improve his performance.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, meanwhile, said Soliman should be held liable for the rotten goods distributed to typhoon survivors.

In a forum Thursday, Estrada said Lacson should expand his mandate to include the investigation of Soliman to establish her liability over the rotten food aid.

“Somebody must investigate. That’s Senator Lacson because he was appointed by the President. I hope Lacson expands his mandate. If he will not, then, who will investigate?” asked Estrada.

The senator said it was a case of command responsibility. “That’s her (Soliman) command responsibility. She’s the head of the agency,” he said.

“Did she not know that there were (relief) goods stored in Leyte?” he said.

He said all relief, either coming from foreign or local donors, pass through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Typhoon survivors in Leyte on Wednesday reported receiving food aid packs teeming with maggots. Earlier, others reported that rotten food aid was being buried or burned.

“She must be held liable for the rotten goods that should have benefitted the victims,” Estrada said.

He also hit Soliman for failing to monitor the relief stocks.

“Does it mean that relief goods were stored there without the knowledge of DSWD officials, [and that is] the reason why they expired?” he said.

He recalled that immediately after Yolanda struck, many congressmen approached Soliman and asked that relief be given to their constituents. But Soliman failed to do so, and the food aid simply went bad in warehouses.

“I know that because I was in Palo, Leyte, during those times,” said the senator.

In the House, a member of the independent minority bloc demanded that Soliman go on leave for gross incompetence.

Abakada party-list Jonathan de la Cruz, a member of the bloc, said it was time for Soliman to be “taken off her chair and back to Earth.”

But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and some administration allies were quick to defend Soliman, who had consistently denied allegations of rotting relief for the Yolanda victims.

“I certainly think she is doing a good job, based on what I saw and given the enormity of the situation. I would call on the local executives involved to work their ass off instead of looking for scapegoats,” Belmonte told the Manila Standard.

But De la Cruz also demanded a full blown auditing of all financial assistance provided by all donors for the victims and survivors of the super typhoon that hit Tacloban last November.

“At the very least, she should take a leave of absence,” De la Cruz said.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said the call for Soliman to step down was in order.

“Her resignation is a call to be supported. The People’s Surge has been demanding this. Her incompetence and bias are so shameful,” Ilagan said.

She said she saw for herself the struggle of the Taclobanons during her visit in the typhoon flattened areas last March 7 and 8.

Given all their complaints, Ilagan said, it was obvious that the government has not been doing enough to address their day to day needs and provide them with their needed day to day essentials.

House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Cibac, Ako-Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, Paranaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, and opposition Rep. Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP rallied behind Soliman.

At the same time, Belmonte urged both the national and local government as well as the Yolanda survivors to work together.

“After all, they are in the best position to do something. As I said, the victims should be part of the rehab efforts so that it does not foster a culture of dependency,” Belmonte said.

Tugna said Soliman should also be given due process, and a proper and thorough investigation on the reported rotten relief should be conducted.

“There should be a proper determination of the allegations of incompetence against Secretary Soliman. Absent that, it will be a violation of her right to due process,” Tugna said.

Bello, a former justice secretary and member of the House minority bloc, said Soliman is “one of the few performers in the Aquino administration.”

“She did well during the Yolanda calamity, but she did not get enough support from the other agencies like [Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy],” Bello said.

Tambunting shared a similar view. “Secretary Soliman was right there in the calamity-hit areas for weeks. The needed relief was just too much for anyone to handle excellently.”

Batocabe said only President Benigno Aquino III could and should decide on Soliman’s fate.

The Palace on Thursday said Soliman has already initiated an investigation of rotten food aid being distributed to typhoon survivors.

“According to Secretary [Soliman], she is currently investigating the incident and will let us know,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Manila Standard made repeated calls to Soliman but she did not take these.

Barangay Gacao chairman Panchito Cortez said he saw residents converging on the barangay hall waiting for food packs delivered by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Palo.

When they opened the boxes, however, maggots as big as grains of rice crawled out of tetra packs and cup noodles. Biscuits were expired, and even the bottled mineral water looked murky, Cortez said.

Cortez said the goods were received by Councilwoman Maria Anna Docena, and included 50 boxes of instant coffee, five sacks of assorted biscuits, cup noodles, instant viand in tetra packs and five boxes of mineral water.

Cortez said he immediately went to the Palo town hall and confronted MSWD officer Rosalina Balderas, who admitted that the goods came from their office.

Balderas said she did not know the food was already spoiled and infested with worms, Cortez added.

FROM NEWSGRAPH ONLINE

5,000 students walk-out; tells PNoy to channel pork funds to education By Philip Bautista  NewsGraph Team29 November, 20130 Comments Share On Facebook Share On Twitter


Around 5,000 students of Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology in Manila stormed out of their classes to urge President Ninoy Aquino III to re-channel controversial pork barrel funds to education budget.

MANILA -Around 5,000 students of Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology in Manila stormed out of their classes to urge President Ninoy Aquino III to re-channel controversial pork barrel funds to education budget.

The Supreme Court earlier declared that the Priority Development Assistance Funds (among others) is unconstitutional, following the exposure of an alleged grand scheme involving Janet Lim Napoles and many senators and congressmen.

The EARIST students also protested against the “illegal collection” of the P1,500 Development Fee in their school.

“Our mobilization today shows the anger and massive discontent of the students from the illegal collection of the P1,500 Development Fee and the inaction of the national government over our demand for greater state subsidy on education.

Budget cuts on education is the major reason why illegal fees are collected from students, it is the government’s fault why we carry such burden,” said Institute Student Government President Philip Bautista told National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

FROM NUSP (NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES)

Students “Rise” and Unite for the Right to Education
Thu, Feb 6, 2014News, NUSP campaign, Press Release

Students from various private and state-run universities and colleges gather today, February 6, 2014, to launch the RISE FOR EDUCATION ALLIANCE at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. The said alliance is formed to reiterate the demand for quality and accessible education for all Filipino students, as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.

Rise Up is composed of student councils, governments, publications and organizations united in the call for the right to education.

“We would like to underscore that Philippine education remains to be one of the most inaccessible in the world, with stratospheric tuition and other schools fees. With the very inhumane minimum wage in the country, the high cost of daily living allowance, majority of Filipino families could not afford to send their children to school.

Add to this the yearly tuition and other fees increases that all the more marginalize the already marginalized from accessing education, both public and private,” stresses Ms. Sarah Elago, Rise for Education Co-convenor and National President of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

“We hold the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) and the Benigno S. Aquino III administration responsible for their wanton disregard for the general studentry via yearly budgets cuts experienced by state universities and colleges (SUCs) and via failure to stop greedy school owners from raising tuition and other school fees,” expresses Ms. Catherine Manangan, Co-Convenor of Rise for Education.

“Aside from the high cost of tuition and the budget cuts, students carry the load of additional fees, including exorbitant and redundant fees. Many students already pay their physical education fees, but are still asked to pay athletics fee, intramurals fee, and other such redundant fees. Students are treated as the milking cows of Philippine education,” exclaims Ms. Lovely Carbon, National Secretary General of NUSP.

“There are also many cases where our student leaders who oppose tuition and other school fees and impositions are met by political harassment from despotic school administrators. Such is the case with student leaders of the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute for Science and Technology (EARIST) who are threatened with expulsion by their school administration, all because they exposed the illegal P1,500 development fee collected from students,” cites Elago.

In the alliance’s manifesto of unity, students cite the following demands:

The government provide higher subsidy for SUCs and the whole education sector. Research has shown that any decrease in government subsidy pushes SUCs to pass to the students the cost of education via TOFI.

Any form of tuition and other school fees increases should be stopped, especially in these dire economic times.

Tuition and other schools fees should, at the very least, be regulated. With student dropout rates yearly increasing due to the high cost of education, the government must at the very least regulate tuition and school fees in PHEIs and SUCs.

Commercialization and privatization schemes such as CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 3 and the Roadmap to Public Higher Education Reforms (RPHER) that allows and encourages TOFI must be junked.

Rise for Education Alliance will conduct a series of awareness fora, protest and mobilization actions, dialogues with CHED, Congress and Senate, and the like, to push for the right to education. Chapters of the alliance are also being formed and launched in different universities and colleges all over the country. The Rise Up for Education Alliance will bring its causa to the One Billion Rising Philippine event.

Arroyo wants additional support for Math, Science teachers NewsGraph Team29 December, 20130 Comments Share On Facebook Share On Twitter


Math and Science Education: Rep Arroyo wants additional support for Math, Science teachers / Flickr: FDecomite

Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to push benefits for college graduates who will join the Science and Mathematics teachers pool

The former president with son Representative Diosdado Macapagal-Arroyo of Camarines Sur filed House Bill 3040, a bill that aims to inspire graduates of science and mathematics courses to pursue careers in academe as teachers.


Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Rep. Diosdado ‘Dato’ Arroyo. 2011 INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The bill also temporarily removes the requirement of taking licensure examination, allowing these to be teachers be immediately deployed and employed by schools. The teachers will still have to pass Licensure Examinations for Teachers on a later time.

HB 3040 also seeks to award scholarship grants and allowances for study visits as additional incentives to the graduates.

“It is also important to create and maintain an adequate pool of highly qualified, motivated and globally competitive teachers, particularly in the area of science and mathematics, to enable and strengthen the Philippines in its aim of becoming globally competitive,” said the Camarines Sur representative.

“Science and technology are essential for national development progress, and the State declared its policy and objectives that priority shall be given to science and technology education, training and services, research and development, invention, innovation and utilization,” he continued.

The bill also seeks to give special rewards and cash incentives to new Bachelor of Science in Education graduates who majored in science and mathematics and have belong to the top 20 Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) passers.

The SCImago Journal & Country Rank, a portal that includes the journals and country scientific indicators has consistently ranked the Philippines to be low on produced quantity of scientific journals, way behind our neighboring countries like Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

EARLIER REPORT FROM THE INQUIRER

Arroyo had no part in NBN-ZTE deal—De Venecia III Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:41 am | Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: ‘Not involved’. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The government’s main witness in the graft case involving the botched $329-million national broadband network (NBN) deal with China’s ZTE Corp. said he believed former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not have any participation in the transaction.

Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, who took the witness stand in the Sandiganbayan hearing and was cross-examined by defense lawyer Lawrence Arroyo (no relation) on Monday, agreed it was “unacceptable” for people who were involved in the deal to be dropping her name.

De Venecia, son of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., said he believed Arroyo was not involved in the NBN deal but that she was just dragged into the controversy.

Arroyo’s coaccused are her husband Mike Arroyo, former Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos and former Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza. They have been charged with graft for their alleged involvement in the botched NBN-ZTE deal in 2007.

De Venecia did not mention Mike Arroyo in his sworn affidavit in the case as he merely referred to seven people, led by Abalos, whom he met at the Wack Wack Country Club in the early part of 2007 for a supposed reconciliatory meeting between himself and the proponents of the ZTE project.

De Venecia admitted his company, Amsterdam Holdings, Inc., which was the rival of ZTE in the broadband project, stood to earn at least P400 million a year if awarded the project.

ZTE’s proposal, however, was the one endorsed by the Department of Transportation and Communications, and the National Economic and Development Authority. The NBN-ZTE deal was later scrapped by Arroyo following allegations of corruption.—Cynthia D. Balana


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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