HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...

MANILA TIME'S COLUMN: BINAY'S GUILT OR INNOCENCE NOT THE ISSUE; RULE OF LAW IS, SAYS TIMES CHAIRMAN EMERITUS  

NOV 5 ---My attention was called by one of my editors that there is a growing public perception that The Manila Times supports Vice President Jejomar C. Binay. And she was understandably alarmed. She deserves an explanation and perhaps some of our readers who too might share the same view as that of my editor. I am proud to say that The Manila Times is the only broadsheet that is neither owned nor influenced by any of the big businesses. The paper doesn’t owe anything to any taipan or any past or present politician. It is, in my favorite expression, “Against all flags.” As a consequence of our critical articles, some of the big businesses literally boycott The Manila Times. They exclude it from their advertising plans. For now, their identities will remain locked. Why they do so is perhaps a topic for another series. Ok I submit that some of our columnists may be supportive of VP Binay. But I hope our readers will understand that their actions and opinions are exclusively their own and not necessarily shared by, much less assigned to them by The Manila Times.

The Manila Times subscribes to the proposition that freedom of speech is one of the pillars of democracy. The Times protects and upholds that abiding principle by allowing its opinion writers to comment freely on issues that affect government, business, society and even our daily lives. The Times editors do not in any way tinker with submitted columns, except to weed out errors in English grammar and idiom and phrases that could lead to libel suits. In short, our columnists enjoy complete freedom. They could be very wrong but we practice what the late Senator Ninoy Aquino, father of the President, once said, paraphrasing Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” What the Times doesn’t welcome are paid opinions and paid press releases or “jukebox journalism.” And for as long as my columnists write articles that flow from their conviction, I would allow their unimpeded publication.

On President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd. The Manila Times is neither pro nor anti Administration. It is just doing its job as a newspaper. I subscribe to the proposition that the media should play a critical role with government. It is not for media to praise public officials or the powers-that-be but to expose anomalies and shenanigans in government.
There will be no praise of the government and its officials by The Manila Times. It was during Martial Law when I first came across the word, “Developmental Journalism” which at that time meant publishing or airing, in the words of the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, only the “good and the beautiful.” The Manila Times will continue to persevere to look for news behind the news. It will consistently challenge the statements of government officials in order to expose the half-truths and half-lies it peddles. It will continue to skillfully pry open the veil of secrecy behind each and every perceived anomaly in this administration and beyond no matter what. Because it is our job; our only job.* READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘FEEL-GOOD’ SURVEY BUOYS PALACE ON YOLANDA RECOVERY; GOV’T DETERMINED TO EXPEDITE REHAB 

NOV 10 --BUOYED by the results of a recent survey showing the optimism of Filipinos, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. yesterday said the government is more determined to expedite and ensure the continued implementation of different rehabilitation programs in Yolanda-affected areas. The survey, conducted by the Social Weather Station, showed that nine out of 10 Filipinos are optimistic areas ravaged by Yolanda last year would recover. “Ang resulta ng survey ay lalong nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa pamahalaan upang paigtingin pa ang mabilisan at epektibong pagpapatapad ng CRRP (Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan) para sa kabutihan at kapakanan ng lahat ng nasalanta sa Yolanda Corridor,” Coloma said. He reiterated that 30 percent of the programs, projects, and activities under the P167.9-billion Yolanda CRRP are expected to be completed by the end of the year while 50 percent would be completed by 2015 to 2016 and the remaining 20 percent after 2016.

He said the 2015-2016 PPAs, which amounts to P119.2 billion, include programs that would strengthen existing contingencies and disaster prevention measures and better prepare the towns for future calamities. The survey showed that 93 percent of the Filipinos are hopeful the Yolanda-affected towns would recover, with only 10 percent saying they are not hopeful. The survey also showed that 38 percent of the 1,200 respondents nationwide expect the recovery to be done in three to four years, while 26 percent sees it happening in five to six year. Twenty percent said the recovery would happen in one to two years while 16 percent said recovery would take seven or more years. “Iyan ay isang mahalagang feedback mula sa mga mamamayan na kinalap ng isang credible at mapagkakatiwalaang professional survey agency… Ang mahalaga ay paigtingin ang pagkilos ng pamahalaan para mapabilis iyung paghatid ng ganap na kalinga at pagtulong sa ating mga mamamayan,” Coloma said. He added the government is open to suggestions, especially from those who are pessimistic about the recovery of the affected towns and critical of the programs identified by the government, on how to improve existing PPAs or other projects that may be necessary. *READ MORE...

ALSO Culture of Underspending: Is the rising government under spending due to ineptitude or poor budget planning? 

NOV 9 --Despite the illegal and ill-conceived Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the Aquino III administration has underspent by close to P600 billion from 2011 up to the third quarter of 2014. Imagine the opportunity costs of such underspending. Had the Executive Department implemented the budgets more effectively, more jobs could have been created, poverty could have been alleviated, and the incidence of hunger could have been reduced.
The Aquino III administration’s history of underspending is legendary. The 2014 third quarter fiscal numbers suggest that the extent of underspending had worsened. Is this a case of gross incompetence or poor budget planning?
With the huge backlog in public infrastructure, deepening poverty, and stubbornly high joblessness, it is unconscionable for the Aquino III administration not to be able to spend what little has been authorized by Congress.
In the past, I have argued that the government should spend annually the equivalent of at least 5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) for public infrastructure in order to make up for past neglect and to allow it to catch up

Yet, the Aquino administration has failed to implement the budget Congress has approved, which incidentally was not much different from what the President has asked for. When times are hard, when poverty is endemic, and when the economy is struggling mightily to make itself competitive with its neighbors, higher rather than lower government spending for public infrastructure and investment in human capital is needed. Under such condition, government underspending is a curse, not a virtue. Fiscal conservatism, aiming at budget balance or low deficit, in the midst of economic hardships is uncalled for. In 2011, the President asked for, and Congress approved, an expenditure program worth P1.711 trillion. Actual spending was P1.557 billion, or an underspending of P154 billion.
Fiscal authorities promptly claimed credit for government underspending. Promptly, they boasted of the large and growing ‘fiscal space.’ Seriously? That’s like bragging to the entire world (with an eye on the credit rating agencies, of course) that it has the political will to inflict pain on its suffering people.

In 2012, the President asked, and Congress dutifully agreed, for a P1.840 trillion spending program. Actual disbursements turned out to be P1.778 trillion, or an underspending of P62 billion. In 2013, the President asked for, and Congress approved, a P1.984 trillion budget. At the end of the year, the Aquino administration spent P1.880 trillion, or an underspending of P104 billion. In 2014, for the first three quarters of the year, Congress has authorized the President to spend P1.730 trillion. Actual spending at the end of the third quarter was only P1.456 trillion. Underspending was a staggering P274 billion. From January 2011 to end September 2014, total government underspending was a whopping P594 billion. This despite the P140 to P150 billion spending for the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. More pain for the suffering masses, enormous payoffs for the few favored DAP beneficiaries. Can you imagine how many roads, bridges, irrigation canals, school buildings, airports, seaports, water systems, housing, and so on could have been built with the P594 billion? * READ MORE...

ALSO Aquino admin harassment:  Coronas move to junk P137.9-M forfeiture case

Accusing the Office of the Ombudsman of abuse of authority and the Aquino administration of harassment, former chief justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina are asking the Sandiganbayan to junk the P137.9-million forfeiture case filed against them. The Coronas said the charges of alleged accumulation of unexplained or ill-gotten wealth are baseless and should be dismissed because the members of their family have legitimate sources of income that can account for the assets. “The present case is nothing but an offshoot of the vindictive desire to continuously harass and persecute the former chief magistrate of the land under the cloak of a supposed crusade against corruption,” the Coronas told the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division. “The amount of P137,937,208.88 allegedly reflecting the respondents’ supposed actual cash assets was erroneously computed and simplistically arrived at by merely adding amounts in the respondents’ bank accounts,” they explained.

The Coronas denied accusation that they undervalued their condominium units and other real estate properties, saying they have consistently declared “assessed values” and “fair market values” while acquisition costs are declared on publicly available documents like deeds of sale or certificates of title. The former chief justice said he acquired considerable savings over the 45 years that he has worked in the private and public sector. The Coronas asked the anti-graft court to dismiss the amended forfeiture case for lack of merit, saying the case was filed because of the Supreme Court’s November 2010 ruling “ordering the distribution of land titles to farmers of the Hacienda Luisita, which belongs to the incumbent President’s family.” The spouses said the ruling was the real reason behind the filing of an impeachment complaint against him by the House of Representatives on Dec. 12, 2011 and his subsequent removal from office after being convicted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court on May 29, 2012 THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

(ALSO) Miriam: Time to wrap up Binay probe; Enough evidence gathered vs. the VP  

The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee has gathered enough evidence against Vice President Jejomar Binay that it could already wrap up its inquiry and turn over the matter to the Ombudsman, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Thursday. The subcommittee is conducting an investigation on the allegations of corruption against Binay particularly the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II and his alleged ownership of a property in Rosario, Batangas that was not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. "[The subcommittee] can close its hearing and endorse the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman," she told reporters in press conference at Quezon City.

"Marami na ang ebidensya. Dapat ibigay na doon," she added. Santiago, a former regional trial court judge, said the Senate panel has already fulfilled it mission to expose the alleged overpricing of the P2.7-billion city hall complex and the controversial Batangas property. "It may be better to present the files and evidence to the Ombudsman… [to look into the ] criminal facet of the case," Santiago added. The Senate subcommittee began its probe in August. Admissible in court Santiago said pieces of evidence presented before the Senate panel would be admissible in court. These include the testimony of blogger and journalist Raissa Robles, who testified last October 30 that Binay told her in an interview that he had bought the Batangas property. "The blog by Raissa Robles stating that in a 2010 interview Binay admitted ownership of the Batangas property is an admission against interest that is admissible in court, even if it is hearsay," said Santiago. According to Santiago, the Instagram posts by Binay's youngest daughter Joanna Marie could also be used as evidence. * READ MORE...

ALSO: BINAY PROBE TURNING INTO A "CIRCUS'  

EARLIER REPORT-NOV 2 ---THE credibility of the Senate and the ongoing probe by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (SBRC) into the allegations against Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay continues to suffer, with a respected political analyst now describing the proceeding as a “circus” and a member of the minority bloc adding it has turned from bad to worse. According to political analyst Ramon Casiple, there is also reason to believe that the SBRC probe against the vice president would end “inconclusively” allegedly for lack of concrete evidence against VP Binay and over the manner by which the SBRC members led by Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV have been conducting their proceedings. The entire hearing, Casiple said, has already become a “circus” where aside from branching out to other issues not related to the supposed overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, there has been no new witnesses.

“(Sen. Antonio) Trillanes wants (VP) Binay jailed. But how can you jail a sitting VP (Vice President)? “You have to impeach him first. I expect the whole thing to end inconclusively,” Casiple said. For his part, Sen. JV Ejercito, a member of the minority, also lamented the SBRC’s manner of investigation that has now dragged the name of the entire Binay family, including his youngest daughter, Jonna Marie, over a post she made on Instagram while inside their alleged “Hacienda Binay” property in Rosario, Batangas. Ejercito said the proceedings have “worsened” in the desire of some of his Senate colleagues to negatively project the vice president and the members of his family. “This is a case of déjà vu, I’ve seen this already; my family went through the same experience,” Ejercito said, referring to what the Estrada family went through in the past. “They are demonizing the Vice President and his family so that the people will hate them,” Ejercito said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Cayetano: 2016 is Binay's ticket out of jail  

NOV 8 ---PHOTO: Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano in the campaign trail in 2013. MANILA, Philippines — Winning the presidential seat in 2016 will be Vice President Jejomar Binay's way to skip jail, one of his staunchest critics said. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that Binay, who is hounded with corruption allegations, may have once hoped to become president for the sake of it, but may also eventually use it to "escape." "Nakikita ni Vice President Binay ang 2016 as his 'Get Out of Jail' card. Tinitignan niya ang great escape niya, and pagiging president," Cayetano said Friday in a press conference. "Pero ngayon nakikita niya ito rin ang pagtakas niya sa hustisya kasi ang bibigat na ng mga ebidensya at yung sinasabi niya na sa media at sa tao siya magpapaliwanag eh bakit ayaw niyang magpaliwanag?" he added.

Cayetano, a member of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigating the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall II parking building, accused Binay of embezzlement and ill-gotten assets. He reiterated his opinion that the former Makati City mayor, currently the front runner in presidential polls, will be a "bad president." "He will be worse than GMA [Gloria Macapagal Arroyo], dahil at least si GMA, in one sense or the the other, sinasagot yung ibang issues. Hindi sinasabing politika lang 'yun," Cayetano said, referring to Binay's refusal to participate in the Senate investigation. He also cast doubt on the ownership claims of businessman Antonio Tiu over a 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, which critics claim to belong to the Binay family. Tiu only presented a one-page memorandum of agreement to the Senate panel in hopes of proving his rights over the property, denying he is Binay's dummy. "Kung titingnan mo bahay ni Mr. Tiu or lahat ng iba't iba niya ari-arian, tingin niyo walang deed of sale yun? Tingin niyo MOA lang yun na walang notaryo?" Cayetano said. Binay is facing a plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal, one of his former political opponents in Makati, before the Office of the Ombudsman. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

 

READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Binays’ guilt or innocence not the issue; Rule of Law is


by DR. DANTE A. ANG


MANILA, NOVEMBER 10, 2014
(MANILA TIMES) by DR. DANTE A. ANG, CHAIRMAN EMERITUS, THE MANILA TIMES
November 5, 2014 11:00 pm

My attention was called by one of my editors that there is a growing public perception that The Manila Times supports Vice President Jejomar C. Binay. And she was understandably alarmed.

She deserves an explanation and perhaps some of our readers who too might share the same view as that of my editor.

I am proud to say that The Manila Times is the only broadsheet that is neither owned nor influenced by any of the big businesses. The paper doesn’t owe anything to any taipan or any past or present politician. It is, in my favorite expression, “Against all flags.”

As a consequence of our critical articles, some of the big businesses literally boycott The Manila Times. They exclude it from their advertising plans. For now, their identities will remain locked. Why they do so is perhaps a topic for another series.

Ok I submit that some of our columnists may be supportive of VP Binay. But I hope our readers will understand that their actions and opinions are exclusively their own and not necessarily shared by, much less assigned to them by The Manila Times.

The Manila Times subscribes to the proposition that freedom of speech is one of the pillars of democracy. The Times protects and upholds that abiding principle by allowing its opinion writers to comment freely on issues that affect government, business, society and even our daily lives.

The Times editors do not in any way tinker with submitted columns, except to weed out errors in English grammar and idiom and phrases that could lead to libel suits. In short, our columnists enjoy complete freedom.

They could be very wrong but we practice what the late Senator Ninoy Aquino, father of the President, once said, paraphrasing Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

What the Times doesn’t welcome are paid opinions and paid press releases or “jukebox journalism.” And for as long as my columnists write articles that flow from their conviction, I would allow their unimpeded publication.

On President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd. The Manila Times is neither pro nor anti Administration. It is just doing its job as a newspaper. I subscribe to the proposition that the media should play a critical role with government. It is not for media to praise public officials or the powers-that-be but to expose anomalies and shenanigans in government.

There will be no praise of the government and its officials by The Manila Times. It was during Martial Law when I first came across the word, “Developmental Journalism” which at that time meant publishing or airing, in the words of the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, only the “good and the beautiful.”

The Manila Times will continue to persevere to look for news behind the news. It will consistently challenge the statements of government officials in order to expose the half-truths and half-lies it peddles. It will continue to skillfully pry open the veil of secrecy behind each and every perceived anomaly in this administration and beyond no matter what.

Because it is our job; our only job.

* In exposing the malfeasances of government officials, we help build our nation. In writing about the corruption in and excesses of our leaders, we strengthen our institution. In calling attention to the violations of the law and of the things we hold dear, and in fighting for the poor and the oppressed, we enrich our values as a people.

Let’s talk of VP Binay vis-à-vis Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee investigation. Where does this paper stand? Is it for or against Binay? Neither.

The issue is not Binay or whether he is innocent or guilty as charged. What is at stake is the Rule of Law.

Let’s not forget that the mandate of the Senate is to carry out investigations in aid of legislation. Investigations are supposed to be conducted for the specific purpose of crafting new laws or amending existing ones. Determining the guilt or innocence of an individual is not contemplated in the legislative system; it is the exclusive province of the courts.

Senators as we all know are legislators and not prosecutors, judges or executioners. They are to conduct investigations into specific public concerns to identify inherent or perceived weaknesses in the system so that corrective measures can be proposed and enacted into laws.

Also important, is that those invited in the Senate hearings are resource persons; they are guests in the august chambers of the Senate; they are guests of the Senators. They should be accorded respect. They should not be bullied, threatened, disrespected or cajoled into admitting their alleged crimes.

Their presence in the hearings is for the purpose of providing Legislators relevant inputs that can be included in the drafting of the bills should the Legislators decide to do so. Never should they be categorized as suspects. Or worse, labeled as guilty even before they could appear before the Senate hearing or before the investigations can be terminated and a report could be prepared, circulated and duly signed by the members of the committee.

The facts are clear:
Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of violating the rules of the Senate which govern hearings “In aid of legislation” and how these should be conducted. For that matter, the Senate leadership is as guilty too for not putting its foot down against the abuses of the three Senators or remind them of the governing rules of Senate investigations.

Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of violating the Rule of Law by conducting an inquisition, rather than investigation.

Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of misappropriation.

In conducting an inquisition rather than investigation, they have misappropriated people’s money for their personal advantage and in pursuit of their burning ambitions for higher office.

Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of violating the Binays’ and businessman Tiu’s human rights.

For they arrogantly denied the Binays and Tiu the dignity due them as ordinary human beings and the respect due to resource persons.

Worse, they have also arrogated to themselves the roles of prosecutors, judges and executioners and pronounced the Binays guilty as charged even before the hearings were concluded and before the corresponding report was written and duly signed by the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

For all I know the Binays are guilty as hell.

But like the Senators, who were allegedly bribed by the Palace to convict the former Supreme Court Justice Rene Corona, the Binays too deserve the protection of the law.

They should be accorded due process. They are innocent until proven otherwise. They should be charged in court, tried and only if and when they are found guilty, should they be judged accordingly; not before.

Oh yes, I weep at the sight of our Senators who wantonly display their contempt of our laws.

They act as if they are the law. And that they alone should interpret what the law is and that the law is what they say it is. This is portentous.

Note how our Legislators at the House of Representatives trump the Supreme Court ruling by passing the P2.6 trillion 2015 budget with the PDAF and DAP given another nomenclature. “Bottom- Up Budgeting,” they call it. “Saan ba kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha ang mga ito?” to quote President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd.

When our own public officials tasked to protect and uphold the law are themselves violating the law, it is time to break our silence.

When our very own public officials are trampling upon the Rule of Law, it is time to call attention to it, register our vehement objection, raise our collective voices and say, “Tama na, Sobra na” (Enough is enough).

When our own public offices champion injustice, it is time to decapitate the head of the hydra-headed monster masquerading as Legislators.

Oh yes, this narrative is pro Rule of Law. And only those with a clear conscience and a clean heart can truly appreciate the meaning of justice for all; the Binays included, guilty or not.

FROM THE MALAYA

‘FEEL-GOOD’ SURVEY BUOYS PALACE ON YOLANDA RECOVERY; GOV’T DETERMINED TO EXPEDITE REHAB By JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR | November 10, 2014

BUOYED by the results of a recent survey showing the optimism of Filipinos, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. yesterday said the government is more determined to expedite and ensure the continued implementation of different rehabilitation programs in Yolanda-affected areas.

The survey, conducted by the Social Weather Station, showed that nine out of 10 Filipinos are optimistic areas ravaged by Yolanda last year would recover.

“Ang resulta ng survey ay lalong nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa pamahalaan upang paigtingin pa ang mabilisan at epektibong pagpapatapad ng CRRP (Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan) para sa kabutihan at kapakanan ng lahat ng nasalanta sa Yolanda Corridor,” Coloma said.

He reiterated that 30 percent of the programs, projects, and activities under the P167.9-billion Yolanda CRRP are expected to be completed by the end of the year while 50 percent would be completed by 2015 to 2016 and the remaining 20 percent after 2016.

He said the 2015-2016 PPAs, which amounts to P119.2 billion, include programs that would strengthen existing contingencies and disaster prevention measures and better prepare the towns for future calamities.

The survey showed that 93 percent of the Filipinos are hopeful the Yolanda-affected towns would recover, with only 10 percent saying they are not hopeful.

The survey also showed that 38 percent of the 1,200 respondents nationwide expect the recovery to be done in three to four years, while 26 percent sees it happening in five to six year. Twenty percent said the recovery would happen in one to two years while 16 percent said recovery would take seven or more years.

“Iyan ay isang mahalagang feedback mula sa mga mamamayan na kinalap ng isang credible at mapagkakatiwalaang professional survey agency… Ang mahalaga ay paigtingin ang pagkilos ng pamahalaan para mapabilis iyung paghatid ng ganap na kalinga at pagtulong sa ating mga mamamayan,” Coloma said.

He added the government is open to suggestions, especially from those who are pessimistic about the recovery of the affected towns and critical of the programs identified by the government, on how to improve existing PPAs or other projects that may be necessary.

* Coloma reiterated that politics had nothing to do in the implementation of PPAs in any of the affected towns, including the plans to transfer the Tacloban airport either to Palo or Sta. Fe in Leyte.

He said the proposed transfer of airport is based on scientific data, not politics as suggested by some groups.

Minority leader Rep. Ferdinand Romuladez and Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez had earlier criticized the national government for its plans to transfer the Tacloban airport.

“Ayon po sa pag-aaral, iyung Tacloban airport kasi ay nasa isang peninsula na ang nakapalibot po doon ay tubig…At napakahalaga ng airport dahil iyan ang pinagdadalhan ng initial relief resources katulad ng mga doktor, nurse, paramedic, communication. At sa sitwasyon ng Eastern Visayas iyan talaga ang gateway o entry point kaya kapag nagkaroon ng kalamidad importante, ayon sa Pangulo, ang mabilis na pagresponde… Kaya malinaw naman po na ang pag-aaral ay batay sa karanasan, batay sa siyensya at wala pong bahid pulitika iyan,” he said.

At least 171 municipalities and cities from six regions were affected by Yolanda when it struck on Nov. 8, 2013.

DOH BRINGs ‘RH’ TO SURVIVORS

The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said it will provide responsible parenthood and reproductive health (RH) services to survivors of Yolanda as part of the government’s rehabilitation efforts.

“We will make sure that the responsible parenthood and reproductive health services are incorporated in and implemented as a crucial component of the long-term rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts in the Yolanda-devastated areas,” said acting DOH Secreatary Janette Garin.

She noted that more than 15,000 babies were born every month since Yolanda struck Regions 4-B (Mimaropa), Region 6 (Western Visayas), Region 7 (Central Visayas), and Region 8 (Eastern Visayas).

“The responsible parenthood and reproductive health services are pivotal in the overall strategy of the national government to combat and reduce poverty,” Garin said.

Last year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) warned the absence of RH services could endanger as much as 130 mothers on a daily basis.

The UNFPA said there is a need for the constant provision of clinical delivery equipment, supplies and medicines for temporary birthing facilities; provide clean delivery kits for women in their last trimester of pregnancy containing supplies that allow women to deliver at home in cases where they do not have access to a clinic; setting up of health centers to provide primary health care, including basic emergency obstetric care; and distribution of hygiene kits to women and girls of child-bearing age, along with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

DOLE LIVELIHOOD ASSISTANCE

The Department of Labor and Employment had released close to P37 million worth of livelihood assistance to victims of Yolanda in Western Visayas.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the assistance covered survivors in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Capiz, and Guimaras.

Majority of the funding went to the province of Iloilo, with P17,497,689.20 financing the reconstruction of public utilities and infrastructure of local government units. – With Gerard Anthony M. Naval

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Is the rising government under spending due to ineptitude or poor budget planning? Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 10 November 2014 00:00


AQUINO

Despite the illegal and ill-conceived Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the Aquino III administration has underspent by close to P600 billion from 2011 up to the third quarter of 2014. Imagine the opportunity costs of such underspending.

Had the Executive Department implemented the budgets more effectively, more jobs could have been created, poverty could have been alleviated, and the incidence of hunger could have been reduced.

The Aquino III administration’s history of underspending is legendary. The 2014 third quarter fiscal numbers suggest that the extent of underspending had worsened. Is this a case of gross incompetence or poor budget planning?

With the huge backlog in public infrastructure, deepening poverty, and stubbornly high joblessness, it is unconscionable for the Aquino III administration not to be able to spend what little has been authorized by Congress.

In the past, I have argued that the government should spend annually the equivalent of at least 5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) for public infrastructure in order to make up for past neglect and to allow it to catch up;

Yet, the Aquino administration has failed to implement the budget Congress has approved, which incidentally was not much different from what the President has asked for. When times are hard, when poverty is endemic, and when the economy is struggling mightily to make itself competitive with its neighbors, higher rather than lower government spending for public infrastructure and investment in human capital is needed.

Under such condition, government underspending is a curse, not a virtue. Fiscal conservatism, aiming at budget balance or low deficit, in the midst of economic hardships is uncalled for.

In 2011, the President asked for, and Congress approved, an expenditure program worth P1.711 trillion. Actual spending was P1.557 billion, or an underspending of P154 billion.

Fiscal authorities promptly claimed credit for government underspending. Promptly, they boasted of the large and growing ‘fiscal space.’ Seriously? That’s like bragging to the entire world (with an eye on the credit rating agencies, of course) that it has the political will to inflict pain on its suffering people.

In 2012, the President asked, and Congress dutifully agreed, for a P1.840 trillion spending program. Actual disbursements turned out to be P1.778 trillion, or an underspending of P62 billion.

In 2013, the President asked for, and Congress approved, a P1.984 trillion budget. At the end of the year, the Aquino administration spent P1.880 trillion, or an underspending of P104 billion.

In 2014, for the first three quarters of the year, Congress has authorized the President to spend P1.730 trillion. Actual spending at the end of the third quarter was only P1.456 trillion. Underspending was a staggering P274 billion.

From January 2011 to end September 2014, total government underspending was a whopping P594 billion. This despite the P140 to P150 billion spending for the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. More pain for the suffering masses, enormous payoffs for the few favored DAP beneficiaries.

Can you imagine how many roads, bridges, irrigation canals, school buildings, airports, seaports, water systems, housing, and so on could have been built with the P594 billion?

* Imagine the number of safer and better communities that could have been constructd to secure and protect some Filipinos from the vicissitudes of flooding, typhoons, volcano eruptions, and similar catastrophes?

Imagine the tens of thousands of new direct and indirect jobs that could have been created had the P594 billion been spent productively in some well selected programs and projects.

Culture of Underspending

Government underspending is rising -In billion pesos

Given the Aquino III administration’s history of underspending, it is now asking Congress for significantly bigger budget for 2015 — from P2.3 trillion to P2.6 trillion or an increase of about P300 billion, or 14.8%? Clearly the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has not prepared the 2015 budget carefully.

The 270-page errata submitted by DBM to the House after substantial work has been done on the 2015 budget evidence is enough evidence that the 2015 budget was poorly crafted.

The national budgets for 2011, 2012 and 2013 were sloppily prepared too. Otherwise, there would have been no need for the monstrosity called DAP.

Looking ahead, has Budget Secretary Abad deliberately created a huge slack in the 2015 budget which he could then declare as ‘savings’ after two quarters, knowing how inept some department secretaries are in executing their programs and projects?

In the private sector, such incompetence and scheming are not tolerated. Corporate executives get fired for being inept. Also, the chief financial officer (CFO) who doesn’t know how to prepare a budget properly or who deviates widely from the approved budget during project implementation usually gets axed.

With so much incompetence and illegalities going around in President Aquino’s official family, a growing number of Filipinos are asking for some heads to roll. Regrettably, the odds that such bloodletting would take place are close to nil.
POLICY MEMO BY DR. BENJAMIN DIOKNO -TRIBUNE

FROM PHILSTAR

Coronas move to junk P137.9-M forfeiture case By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 10, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


CORONA

MANILA, Philippines - Accusing the Office of the Ombudsman of abuse of authority and the Aquino administration of harassment, former chief justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina are asking the Sandiganbayan to junk the P137.9-million forfeiture case filed against them.

The Coronas said the charges of alleged accumulation of unexplained or ill-gotten wealth are baseless and should be dismissed because the members of their family have legitimate sources of income that can account for the assets.

“The present case is nothing but an offshoot of the vindictive desire to continuously harass and persecute the former chief magistrate of the land under the cloak of a supposed crusade against corruption,” the Coronas told the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division.

“The amount of P137,937,208.88 allegedly reflecting the respondents’ supposed actual cash assets was erroneously computed and simplistically arrived at by merely adding amounts in the respondents’ bank accounts,” they explained.

The Coronas denied accusation that they undervalued their condominium units and other real estate properties, saying they have consistently declared “assessed values” and “fair market values” while acquisition costs are declared on publicly available documents like deeds of sale or certificates of title.

The former chief justice said he acquired considerable savings over the 45 years that he has worked in the private and public sector.

The Coronas asked the anti-graft court to dismiss the amended forfeiture case for lack of merit, saying the case was filed because of the Supreme Court’s November 2010 ruling “ordering the distribution of land titles to farmers of the Hacienda Luisita, which belongs to the incumbent President’s family.”

The spouses said the ruling was the real reason behind the filing of an impeachment complaint against him by the House of Representatives on Dec. 12, 2011 and his subsequent removal from office after being convicted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court on May 29, 2012

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Miriam: Enough evidence gathered vs. VP Binay By ROUCHELLE DINGLASAN,GMA NewsNovember 6, 2014 3:40pm 31 155 0 526 Tags: Jejomar Binay , Miriam Defensor Santiago (UPDATED 8:15 p.m.)


SANTIAGO

The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee has gathered enough evidence against Vice President Jejomar Binay that it could already wrap up its inquiry and turn over the matter to the Ombudsman, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Thursday.

The subcommittee is conducting an investigation on the allegations of corruption against Binay particularly the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II and his alleged ownership of a property in Rosario, Batangas that was not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

"[The subcommittee] can close its hearing and endorse the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman," she told reporters in press conference at Quezon City.

"Marami na ang ebidensya. Dapat ibigay na doon," she added.

Santiago, a former regional trial court judge, said the Senate panel has already fulfilled it mission to expose the alleged overpricing of the P2.7-billion city hall complex and the controversial Batangas property.

"It may be better to present the files and evidence to the Ombudsman… [to look into the ] criminal facet of the case," Santiago added.

The Senate subcommittee began its probe in August.

Admissible in court

Santiago said pieces of evidence presented before the Senate panel would be admissible in court.

These include the testimony of blogger and journalist Raissa Robles, who testified last October 30 that Binay told her in an interview that he had bought the Batangas property.

"The blog by Raissa Robles stating that in a 2010 interview Binay admitted ownership of the Batangas property is an admission against interest that is admissible in court, even if it is hearsay," said Santiago.

According to Santiago, the Instagram posts by Binay's youngest daughter Joanna Marie could also be used as evidence. Last October 30, Senate Majority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano presented the Instagram posts in which the younger Binay described the controversial property as "our place in Batangas."

"The Instagram post is admissible in evidence against Binay as admission against interest," said Santiago.

* Santiago said that the one-page document submitted by Antonio Tiu to the Senate panel supposedly to prove his ownership of the property is also admissible as evidence. "If the document is not public – meaning to say it is not notarized – it would still be a valid agreement between the parties," she said.

Violates agrarian reform?

But Santiago also had questions about whether the property violates agrarian reform statutes. Citing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Santiago said that haciendas are "outlawed" as agricultural land owners may only have maximum of five hectares of land.

"The size of the hacienda alone indicates non-compliance with the intent of the agrarian reform law. The law in effect confiscated agricultural land from big landowners, and subdivided them among farmer-beneficiaries," said Santiago, who served as Agrarian Reform Secretary under the late president Corazon Aquino.

"It appears that the town of Rosario, Batangas is agricultural in nature. If so, the town was covered by the agrarian reform program, and generally nobody there should own more than five hectares of land.

"The only exception is that the agricultural land was converted, with DAR approval, into commercial land, presumably under the claim of the agri-tourism business. But the DAR central office reportedly has no file on the conversion of the property."

She said that she will file a resolution next week to probe if there was collusion among Department of Agrarian Reform officials and owners of the property.

"The legality of the existence of an hacienda — whether 145 or 350 hectares — under R.A. No. 6657 (CARL), aka agrarian reform law is deeply suspicious, and may have involved the crimes of falsification of public documents, and of illegal conversion of agricultural land," she said.

Citing DAR records, she said that only about 87 hectares in Rosario have been converted from agricultural land to commercial land.

"That area is so much less than the 145 or 350 hectares subject of the Senate probe. It indicates that the alleged hacienda is based on agricultural land without DAR approval," she said.

Santiago noted that this practice of illegal land conversion has been "rampant" even from her term at DAR.

"When I was Agrarian Reform Secretary, the most scandalous source of corruption in the DAR was the rampant illegal conversion of agricultural land. Hence, after reading about the humongous size of the land, my eyebrows rose up to my hairline," she said.

Santiago said the Senate panel should also look into this issue.

"I humbly urge the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee to investigate the DAR officials and other persons responsible for failure to place Rosario town under the mandate to acquire and distribute agricultural land," she said.

Who owns the property?

According to Santiago, the ownership of the sprawling Batangas property is still unclear.

Tiu has claimed ownership of the property by invoking the one-page memorandum of agreement between himself and Laureano Gregorio, Jr. However, Santiago said that the DAR has no record of Gregorio being a landowner in that area.

Tiu has been accused of being a dummy, with Binay as the true owner of the property.

“The alleged original landowner is not a landowner in the DAR records. If so, then he could only have been a farmer. But again, the DAR records show that it has never issued any document to Gregorio as a farmer,” she said.

The feisty senator also lambasted Tiu's recent press conference, where the businessman cried blackmail, claiming that he has received threats that government agencies would run after his business interests.

“If Gregorio was not an owner or a farmer-beneficiary, presumably he is a poseur or a fraud. And Tiu is lying when he claims that he bought the land from this poseur. Thus, Tiu is liable for contempt for telling fairy tales,” she added. — NB/JST, GMA News

FROM JOURNAL.COM.PH

BINAY PROBE TURNING INTO A "CIRCUS' November 2, 2014Written by Paul GutierrezPublished in Top Stories FEATURED



THE credibility of the Senate and the ongoing probe by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (SBRC) into the allegations against Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay continues to suffer, with a respected political analyst now describing the proceeding as a “circus” and a member of the minority bloc adding it has turned from bad to worse.

According to political analyst Ramon Casiple, there is also reason to believe that the SBRC probe against the vice president would end “inconclusively” allegedly for lack of concrete evidence against VP Binay and over the manner by which the SBRC members led by Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV have been conducting their proceedings.

The entire hearing, Casiple said, has already become a “circus” where aside from branching out to other issues not related to the supposed overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, there has been no new witnesses.

“(Sen. Antonio) Trillanes wants (VP) Binay jailed. But how can you jail a sitting VP (Vice President)?

“You have to impeach him first. I expect the whole thing to end inconclusively,” Casiple said.

For his part, Sen. JV Ejercito, a member of the minority, also lamented the SBRC’s manner of investigation that has now dragged the name of the entire Binay family, including his youngest daughter, Jonna Marie, over a post she made on Instagram while inside their alleged “Hacienda Binay” property in Rosario, Batangas.

Ejercito said the proceedings have “worsened” in the desire of some of his Senate colleagues to negatively project the vice president and the members of his family.

“This is a case of déjà vu, I’ve seen this already; my family went through the same experience,” Ejercito said, referring to what the Estrada family went through in the past.

“They are demonizing the Vice President and his family so that the people will hate them,” Ejercito said.

* Ejercito and the rest of the Senate minority bloc has decided not to attend the SBRC hearings since last month saying that their attendance in the proceedings would only give credibility to the inquiry.

WHAT ABOUT DRILON?

Meanwhile, anti-crime and anti-corruption watchdog Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is now also calling on the Senate to show the same interest in another alleged anomalous and graft-ridden transaction, the construction of P700 million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC),

VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez said there should be no reason for the SBRC to further delay the investigation into the ICC which was partly funded by the pork barrel of Senate President Franklin Drilon and the pork barrel of President Benigno Aquino III or the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The VACC chair added that the SBRC has all the reasons to investigate the ICC controversy in order to determine if there was irregularity in the facility’s construction.

“If there is smoke, there is fire, and what is important here is for the Senate to look into the bottom of the issue regardless of who would be implicated,” Jimenez said, referring to the allegation that like the “overprice” issue being heaped on the Binays for the Makati Car Park Building construction, ICC construction was also “grossly overpriced.”

Jimenez said there is already a Senate resolution calling for the probe into the ICC issue and the panel could always use newspaper and television news reports as evidence “just like what it is doing with the probe on the Vice President”

The resolution calling for the SBRC probe into the ICC construction was filed last month by Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Similar to the Makati Car Park building, Santiago noted that the ICC was also contracted to Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation.

FROM PHILSTAR

Cayetano: 2016 is Binay's ticket out of jail (philstar.com) | Updated November 8, 2014 - 12:20pm 20 496 googleplus0 0


Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano in the campaign trail in 2013.

MANILA, Philippines — Winning the presidential seat in 2016 will be Vice President Jejomar Binay's way to skip jail, one of his staunchest critics said.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that Binay, who is hounded with corruption allegations, may have once hoped to become president for the sake of it, but may also eventually use it to "escape."

"Nakikita ni Vice President Binay ang 2016 as his 'Get Out of Jail' card. Tinitignan niya ang great escape niya, and pagiging president," Cayetano said Friday in a press conference.

"Pero ngayon nakikita niya ito rin ang pagtakas niya sa hustisya kasi ang bibigat na ng mga ebidensya at yung sinasabi niya na sa media at sa tao siya magpapaliwanag eh bakit ayaw niyang magpaliwanag?" he added.

Cayetano, a member of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigating the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall II parking building, accused Binay of embezzlement and ill-gotten assets.

He reiterated his opinion that the former Makati City mayor, currently the front runner in presidential polls, will be a "bad president."

"He will be worse than GMA [Gloria Macapagal Arroyo], dahil at least si GMA, in one sense or the the other, sinasagot yung ibang issues. Hindi sinasabing politika lang 'yun," Cayetano said, referring to Binay's refusal to participate in the Senate investigation.

He also cast doubt on the ownership claims of businessman Antonio Tiu over a 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, which critics claim to belong to the Binay family.

Tiu only presented a one-page memorandum of agreement to the Senate panel in hopes of proving his rights over the property, denying he is Binay's dummy.

"Kung titingnan mo bahay ni Mr. Tiu or lahat ng iba't iba niya ari-arian, tingin niyo walang deed of sale yun? Tingin niyo MOA lang yun na walang notaryo?" Cayetano said.

Binay is facing a plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal, one of his former political opponents in Makati, before the Office of the Ombudsman.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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