PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS WEEK

OFWs EXEMPT FROM TERMINAL FEES, LABOR DEPT REMINDS DOTC

Overseas Filipino workers are exempted from paying airport fees, travel taxes and documentary stamps, the Department of Labor and Employment reminded the Department of Transportation and Communications on Saturday. “We have stated this position in countless meetings called by the DOLE through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration involving representatives of civil society groups, recruitment agencies, and other government agencies, such as the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration,” DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a DOLE website post. READ MORE...

ALSO: Kris Aquino bracing for worst scenario: Seeing brother President ending up like Arroyo


…Actress shuns 2016 bid to support brother -
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential sister and actress Kris Aquino on Sunday said that she would not run in the 2016 elections, saying that she needs to support her brother President Benigno Aquino III when he steps down from his post. Kris said that she is bracing for the worst scenario: where the President will have to face cases, which will be filed against him by his political opponents. “Let’s be honest, maraming magiging kaso next year (na isasampa laban sa Presidente),” she said on Sunday on “The Buzz.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Tingting Cojuangco: Binay group agrees to post-Aquino advisory body


Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
Vice President Jejomar Binay has agreed to form an advisory council in the event that President Benigno Aquino III is forced to resign by a people power-like movement in the run-up to the 29th anniversary of the first People Power Revolution on Feb. 25. Former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco on Friday said that her husband, former Tarlac Rep. Peping Cojuangco, who is Mr. Aquino’s uncle, was able to convince Binay of the idea. She said Binay gave the commitment in a meeting with her husband last week.READ MORE...

ALSO TAGALOG NEWS: MILF binibeybi ng gobyerno


Mga rebeldeng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO City, Philippines – Malamya, kulang sa ngipin ng batas at mistulang bini-beybi pa ng gobyerno ang pag-aksyon laban sa mga rebeldeng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) na sangkot sa pagmasaker sa 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. Ayon kay dating Marine Commandant ret. Major Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio sa pagdalo nito sa Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Homecoming sa lungsod na ito kahapon, nakamasid ang buong mundo at nagiging katawa-tawa na ang Pilipinas dahil sa mahinang pag-aksyon at kawalan ng disposisyon ni PNoy upang magdesisyon ng tama at ipakita na ang gobyerno ang dapat ma­naig at hindi ibeybi ang mga kaaway. TULOY ANG PAGBASA...

ALSO: Malakihang protesta kasado


Malakihang protesta kasado
MANILA, Philippines – Libu-libong mahihirap, mga estudyante at iba’t ibang grupo ang nagkasa ng malawakan at malakihang protesta sa Edsa shrine at Mendiola para hilingin ang mabilis na paglisan ni Pangulong Aquino sa kanyang puwesto. Ayon kay Carlito Badion, national secretary general ng grupong Kadamay, nasa sampung libong urban poor community ang kanilang target na lalahok sa protesta sa Edsa shrine habang nasa 20,000 mahigit naman ang target na makasama sa ikinasang pinakamalaking rally sa Mendiola sa Pebrero 27. Ang mga pagkilos ay pangungunahan ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kadamay at Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon kasama ang iba’t ibang grupo mula sa Southern Tagalog at Central Luzon. Magsasagawa naman ng nationwide walk-out ang League of Filipino Students (LFS) at Youth Act Now sa Pebrero 27. TULOY AND PAGBASA...

ALSO By Francisco Tatad: A Palace coup for Aquino?

Despite the silly official claim that President B.S. Aquino 3rd is“unaffected and unmoved” by the mounting calls for his “stepping down,” his own inner official and family circle apparently believes his exit cannot be indefinitely postponed. They seem to believe the only way to save Aquino could be to stage a “Palace coup,” to allow himto hold on, at least as a figurehead, through a “revolutionary government.”  Highly reliable sources say this is one of the options being mulled inside Malacañang as the call for Aquino’s ouster intensifies, in the wake of the unexplained January 25 massacre of the 44 Special Action Force commandos under his direct operational command in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, and as the “commemorative spirit” of the 1986 EDSA “people power revolution” begins to draw crowds at the usual politically sensitivevenues within the nation’s capital.

ALSO by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO: Aquino ouster, first step on the road to peace

Not even Aquino’s Cabinet was consulted on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and on the BBL. Not the National Security Council, not the Liberal Party, not Congress even if — or because — it was under his thumb. Not the MNLF with which the Republic had signed an agreement binding under international law; not even the governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao and its legislative assembly, which has been the nation’s attempt at peace with Muslims in Mindanao. These pacts were signed at the peak of Aquino’s popularity, and when he was confident that with his billions of pesos in pork barrel and disbursement-acceleration plan funds, Congress would acquiesce to it. Nations would even cheer for it – after all, what country in the world would say that it was against this “peace” deal. Our rich neighbor, Malaysia, which provided crucial financial support, refuge and military training for the MNLF and the MILF in order to counter our Sabah claim, certainly cheered him on. CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

OFWs exempt from terminal fees, Labor Department reminds DOTC

MANILA, FEBRUARY 22, 2015 (GMA NEWS) Overseas Filipino workers are exempted from paying airport fees, travel taxes and documentary stamps, the Department of Labor and Employment reminded the Department of Transportation and Communications on Saturday.

“We have stated this position in countless meetings called by the DOLE through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration involving representatives of civil society groups, recruitment agencies, and other government agencies, such as the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration,” DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a DOLE website post.

The DOLE had also relayed its position to both DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and to the Senate.

Though the fees were integrated into the airline ticket price at the point of sale, OFWs will not be made to pay the fees upon the presentation of the overseas employment certificate (OEC) issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

However, airlines had pointed out that it would be difficult for foreign travel agents and airline offices to determine the authenticity of the OECs and the verification of airline tickets purchased online.

To remove the hurdle Baldoz said the DOLE will share the POEA’s database with the Manila International Airport Authority.

“The airlines and the MIAA, however, should prepare their respective computer application systems to enable this proposed data-sharing,” she explained. — Joel Locsin/DVM, GMA News


INQUIRER

Kris Aquino bracing for worst scenario: Seeing brother President ending up like Arroyo INQUIRER.net 8:02 PM | Sunday, February 22nd, 2015


…Actress shuns 2016 bid to support brother

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential sister and actress Kris Aquino on Sunday said that she would not run in the 2016 elections, saying that she needs to support her brother President Benigno Aquino III when he steps down from his post.

Kris said that she is bracing for the worst scenario: where the President will have to face cases, which will be filed against him by his political opponents.

“Let’s be honest, maraming magiging kaso next year (na isasampa laban sa Presidente),” she said on Sunday on “The Buzz.”

(Let’s be honest: there are many cases to be filed (against the President).

The actress was apparently worried that the President may go through the same misfortunes of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who after she stepped down from Malacanang in 2010, was hounded by countless corruption lawsuits.

Aquino’s term expires on June 30, 2016.

Kris said that she is prioritizing her family over political ambition.

“Family first,” the actress emphasized.

It was superstar Nora Aunor who asked Kris if she is eyeing a government post in the 2016 elections.

Kris said that she is also focusing on growing her restaurant franchise, wanting to have eight branches by 2016.

Rumors circulated in 2014 saying that Kris is mulling a vice presidential bid to which she denied.


INQUIRER

Tingting Cojuangco: Binay group agrees to post-Aquino advisory body Tonette Orejas @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Central Luzon 3:29 AM | Saturday, February 21st, 2015


Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Vice President Jejomar Binay has agreed to form an advisory council in the event that President Benigno Aquino III is forced to resign by a people power-like movement in the run-up to the 29th anniversary of the first People Power Revolution on Feb. 25.

Former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco on Friday said that her husband, former Tarlac Rep. Peping Cojuangco, who is Mr. Aquino’s uncle, was able to convince Binay of the idea. She said Binay gave the commitment in a meeting with her husband last week.

“He [Binay) did agree to an advisory council, like a Sukarno-guided government,” Tingting told members of the Capampangan in Media Inc. in a forum at the Holiday Inn at the Clark Freeport on Friday.

“Why would Binay not welcome it?” she said, noting that in the Constitution, a vice president succeeds a president who fails to perform his duties or leaves office.

Binay denies it

But a spokesperson for Binay on Friday denied that that the vice president had agreed to the creation of any such body.

“The vice president did not discuss the creation of a so-called advisory body with Mr. Peping Cojuangco or any political personality or group, nor does he intend to discuss this issue with any personality or group,” spokesperson Joey Salgado said in a text message on Friday.

Salgado said he was told Binay had met with Peping Cojuangco in early February “on a totally unrelated matter”.

He said that Binay, even if he is the constitutionally mandated successor, has reiterated that he was opposed to the resignation of the President.

Ouster moves

The Aquino administration is reeling from a public backlash over the massacre of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos by Muslim secessionists in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province, on Jan. 25.

Various groups left unsatisfied with Mr. Aquino’s explanations about the tragic operation, including those demanding that he resign, are expected to converge at Edsa during the Edsa I People Power Revolution commemorative activities starting on Jan. 22.

The National Transformation Council (NTC), a group that calls itself an ecumenical and interfaith collective, will be holding a Mass and rally at the Edsa Shrine at 2 p.m. on Feb. 22. The leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said it would form a human chain for the Edsa 1 anniversary.

The Cojuangco couple have admitted to being among those asking for Mr. Aquino to step down, but insist that they do not favor nor are party to coup plots.

Tingting on Friday said that the rumored coup plot implicating them was “a spin of Malacañang.”

She said a coup would not be needed. “Civilians can do it,” she said, referring to people power movements.

“I think this is going to build up,” she said, referring to rallies during the Edsa anniversaries.

No resignation

Malacañang on Friday remained firm that the President will complete his term and step down on June 30, 2016—and not a day earlier.

“The President will step down on June 30, 2016. I can tell you that. Any reports or stories of any other exit plan apart from that are fictitious,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Valte said the calls for the President’s ouster by various sectors “is part of the democratic free space” of citizens.

“Obviously, we disagree with their statements and their calls to action,” she said.

Those calling for Mr. Aquino’s resignation or ouster believe he has to be accountable for the Mamasapano debacle.

Valte said Malacañang does not “share that same perception” that the calls for Mr. Aquino’s ouster are “gaining ground.”

“The President is no stranger to calls for resignation. In the course of the more or less five years that he has been in office, we have seen these sporadic calls from different groups, and they always have not resulted in a situation that would please them—or at least it has not been—it has not resulted favorably for them,” Valte said.

Sukarno-type rule?

Tingting Cojuangco did not give details of the Sukarno-type guided government that they are proposing.

“Guided democracy” was the political system that Sukarno, Indonesia’s independence leader and president for life, established in 1957 after a period of unstable parliamentary democracy. He said Western-style democracy was inappropriate for Indonesia’s situation. Instead, he sought a system based on the traditional village system of discussion and consensus under the guidance of village elders. In practice, Indonesia’s guided democracy was an autocratic system, where deliberations at the local level were guided by village elders but the president ran the country by decree.

Like revolutionary gov’t

Tingting said the advisory council is not prohibited under the 1987 Constitution. “It’s similar to Cory’s [Aquino] revolutionary government which, after a year, drafted a new charter,” she said.

She said the NTC, which Peping supports, should form part of the next president’s advisory council. The NTC has various church denominations as members.

According to Tingting, a post-Aquino council could be a “big council” which Binay would have to lead “whether people like him or not.”

She said her husband and Binay “spoke regularly” though there have been no follow-up talks since their meeting last week.

She said their friendship goes back to 1978 when the then detained Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. ran for a seat in the interim Batasang Pambansa.

Upset with nephew

Asked why it was urgent for Mr. Aquino to resign when the national and local elections are little more than a year away, she said, “We have to right what’s going on now.”

Tingting said she and her husband were upset with their nephew when the issues of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) became public.

She said they want the President to leave because of his administration’s “inefficiency, dishonesty and corruption at every level in government, [for the] removal of safeguards versus election fraud in the Automated Election System Law and lately [for] the taking of 44 lives in the Mamasapano firefight.”

Cojuangcos not thieves

“’Peping said, ‘Hindi kaming mga Cojuangco magnanakaw (We Cojuangcos are not thieves)’,” Tingting said. “Crudely speaking, this (the use of PDAF and DAP) is bribery [of legislators].”

Asked if Mr. Aquino would heed the outcry and resign, Tingting said: “I don’t know him anymore.”

She said her nephew used to be a “nice boy, very amiable.”

Asked how many resign movements there were now, Tingting replied: “There are plenty who come to our house [in Forbes Park].”
With Nikko Dizon and Niña P. Calleja


PILIPINO NGAYON/PHILSTAR

MILF binibeybi ng gobyerno Ni Joy Cantos (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated February 22, 2015 - 12:00am


Mga rebeldeng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO City, Philippines – Malamya, kulang sa ngipin ng batas at mistulang bini-beybi pa ng gobyerno ang pag-aksyon laban sa mga rebeldeng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) na sangkot sa pagmasaker sa 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Ayon kay dating Marine Commandant ret. Major Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio sa pagdalo nito sa Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Homecoming sa lungsod na ito kahapon, nakamasid ang buong mundo at nagiging katawa-tawa na ang Pilipinas dahil sa mahinang pag-aksyon at kawalan ng disposisyon ni PNoy upang magdesisyon ng tama at ipakita na ang gobyerno ang dapat ma­naig at hindi ibeybi ang mga kaaway.

“The government must have a firm stand on the case of the MILF, the world is watching us, nagiging katawa-tawa na tayo dahil mahina ang gobyerno,” aniya sa halip na magteka-teka muna, magpakita ng kahinaan na tila nalilito kung ano ang magiging aksyon laban sa mga kalaban ng estado.

Tinukoy nito ang matigas na paninindigan sa ginawang aksyon ng pamahalaan ng Jordan laban sa Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) matapos na pugutan ng ulo ang isa nilang piloto.

Si Teodosio ay dating commander ng 1st Marine Brigade na nakabase sa Maguindanao at kabilang sa naglunsad ng all-out war laban sa MILF noong panahon ni dating Pangulong Erap Estrada.

Magugunita na bago inutos ni Erap ang all-out war sa MILF ay sinabi nitong ang kaaway ay hindi binibeybi sa halip ay pinipisa.

Dagdag pa ni Teodosio na kung sinasabi ng Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) na kailangan muna ng mga ito ng rematch bago isoli ang 10 sa mga armas na kanilang kinuha sa SAF ay dapat ibigay ito ng gobyerno sa halip na balewalain ito.

“If they want rematch then be it, unleash the dogs of war, send the Philippine Marines,” sabi pa ni Teodosio. ..


PILIPINO NGAYON

Malakihang protesta kasado Ni Angie dela Cruz (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated February 22, 2015 - 12:00am


Malakihang protesta kasado

MANILA, Philippines – Libu-libong mahihirap, mga estudyante at iba’t ibang grupo ang nagkasa ng malawakan at malakihang protesta sa Edsa shrine at Mendiola para hilingin ang mabilis na paglisan ni Pangulong Aquino sa kanyang puwesto.

Ayon kay Carlito Badion, national secretary general ng grupong Kadamay, nasa sampung libong urban poor community ang kanilang target na lalahok sa protesta sa Edsa shrine habang nasa 20,000 mahigit naman ang target na makasama sa ikinasang pinakamalaking rally sa Mendiola sa Pebrero 27.

Ang mga pagkilos ay pangungunahan ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kadamay at Alyansa Kontra Demolisyon kasama ang iba’t ibang grupo mula sa Southern Tagalog at Central Luzon.

Magsasagawa naman ng nationwide walk-out ang League of Filipino Students (LFS) at Youth Act Now sa Pebrero 27.

Susunod sa walk-out mula sa kanilang mga klase ang pagtitipon ng mga estudyante sa assembly points na nakatalaga sa Morayta, Taft Avenue sa Manila, at Philcoa sa Quezon City.

Pagsapit ng hapon ay tutulak ang mga kabataan pa-Mendiola para katagpuin ang iba pang grupo ng mga guro, church members at mga manggagawa.

PSN ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

Pebrero 25 pa lamang ay aarangkada na ang ikinasang people power movement laban sa Pangulo ng alyansa ng mga nasabing grupo, na target bumuo ng isang “human chain for justice and accountability” sa kahabaan ng EDSA. Magtatagal hanggang Pebrero 28 ang nasabing pagkilos. ..


MANILA TIMES

A Palace coup for Aquino? February 22, 2015 10:56 pm by FRANCISCO S. TATAD


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

Despite the silly official claim that President B.S. Aquino 3rd is“unaffected and unmoved” by the mounting calls for his “stepping down,” his own inner official and family circle apparently believes his exit cannot be indefinitely postponed. They seem to believe the only way to save Aquino could be to stage a “Palace coup,” to allow himto hold on, at least as a figurehead, through a “revolutionary government.”

Highly reliable sources say this is one of the options being mulled inside Malacañang as the call for Aquino’s ouster intensifies, in the wake of the unexplained January 25 massacre of the 44 Special Action Force commandos under his direct operational command in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, and as the “commemorative spirit” of the 1986 EDSA “people power revolution” begins to draw crowds at the usual politically sensitivevenues within the nation’s capital.

Yesterday, Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, both identified with the National Transformation Council,presided over a Mass at the EDSA Shrine, with some of the NTC founding members in attendance. The NTC is leading the call for Aquino’s stepping downi moral and constitutional grounds. Several other groups, including some onthe Left, have echoed its call since.

The EDSA Shrine was built by the Archdiocese of Manila in honor of the Blessed Virgin whose “intervention” was believed to have played a decisive role in the first EDSA “uprising” that ousted then-President Ferdinand Marcos and installed Corazon Aquino, PNoy’s late mother, as “revolutionary president,” without any violence.The Shrine also played a role in the ouster of then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2000, which installed in his place then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who served until 2010 when Aquino took over and jailed her on a series of charges, for which she has not been tried.

A “palace coup,”if Malacañang could pull it off, would allow Aquino to step aside without completely losing power, while an alter ego,said to be Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas,runs the show. Then Aquino’s apprentice dictatorship would turn into a full-blown dictatorship. Probably still brainless, heartless, and incompetent, but a full-blown dictatorship in any case.

This is obviously based on the assumption that such a move would not create the very problem it is trying to prevent. But this is possible only if the military, the police and the general public consent, and do not rise againstit. I cannot for the life of me imagine what makes the reported palace coup planners imagine they could pull it off. Every available sign indicates the exact opposite.

Neither the military nor the police nor the public seems to have any sympathies left for the beleagueredpresident. Aquino’s last Malacañang meeting withtop military generals proved disastrous: it gave them a clear picture, up close, of a commander-in-chief who was probably as raving mad as England’s King George 3rd.

His last meeting with the SAF widows at Camp Crame was worse than his earlier ones—it had him saying to the widow who was demanding justice for the fallen commandos: “What justice more do you want? You want me to personally fingerprint the MILF?” “My father was also assassinated, so that makes us even!”

It instantly brought back his remarks to the Tacloban businessman who was worried about possible violence emanating from the looting that had broken out in areas hardest hit by super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan: “Buhay ka pa naman, di ba?”—“You’re still alive, aren’t you?”

We are still waiting for feedback from his last meeting in Baguio with the Philippine Military Academy cadets. They are known to be highly idealistic and are not likely to be misled by any fairytales. As for the general public, Aquino has not given them one good reason to treat him with greater kindness.

The “palace coup” plan, if true, is the clearest proof that Aquino is now a drowning man clutching at straws. The plan is not even an original one; it was put together by some members of the Arroyo Cabinet in a failed effort to reverse the sinking fortunes of the former president. Some Cabinet members had wanted to use it to procure a graceful exit for Arroyo, who should be succeeded by a sympathetic successor. But others had wanted to use it to extend Arroyo indefinitely in office.

This created suspicions and animosities within the Cabinet. Some members tried to tell Arroyo that the plan was being hatched not for her own benefit, but rather to allow certain ambitious members (shades of the Hyatt 10 conspiracy) to take power for themselves. This prevented the project from being implemented. Ultimately, the plan was abandoned. But the relevant document was left in the files of then-DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno. It was here presumably where Roxas or his people unearthed the project.

There was no chance it could have succeeded during that fatal stage of the Arroyo administration. There is no chance it can possibly succeed now, at this stage of Aquino’s endangered and fading rule. The long deluded Filipino public has finally awakened, all illusions about our de facto boy-president and his family whose history is tainted with unbridled opportunism and treason have been shattered. With all the blinders off, everyone now sees that the country has allowed itself to be run for four years by a megalomaniac, and that it is time to expel him from his illegitimate office.

There seems to be a general feeling, supported by signals from the international community and even the equity markets, that an anti-Aquino victory is now imminent and inevitable, and welcome to all. Thus, all sorts of kibitzers and copycat groups, with all sorts of harebrained ideas, are coming out of the woodwork, maneuvering to preside over the “victory parade.” This challenges the NTC, the original proponent of regime and system change, to spell out, finally at some detail, its precise proposal for regime and system change. An earlier assembly has called on the NTC to organize an alternative “caretaker” government. But the NTC has held back on this proposal. It may be time to consider doing it now.

The inclusive character of the NTC’s proposed change assures all those who are sincerely echoing its call for change of their own place in the transitional and transformational program. But it should prevent any group from claiming as their own something that is clearly not theirs. There is some danger that they could be used to destroy what the NTC is trying to build. All authentic groups must work together to prevent Aquino’s secret agents, or agents of foreign interested parties posturing as patriots from trying to hijack this great initiative.

Beware of impostors and false prophets. Keep tuned in to the NTC as it meets in Lipa, Batangas this week.

Personal.

I wish to share my personal delight over the election of JamilMaidan Flores as Eminent Fellow of the Development Academy of the Philippines. Poet, essayist, fictionist, playwright, publicist and technocrat, Flores was a classmate at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Sto.Tomas, and chief of planning and Assistant Secretary/Minister for Operations during my ten years as Secretary/Minister of Public Information. For the past 23 years, he has lived in Indonesia and during all this time has been writing all the speeches of the Indonesian Foreign Minister and President. He also writes a regular Friday column for the Jakarta Globe. Thirty nine years ago, he declined the Class Ring for graduating career officers under the DAP executive leadership program for personal and objective reasons. This was like Jean Paul Sartre rejecting the Nobel Prize in Literature a few years before.


MANILA TIMES

Aquino ouster, first step on the road to peace February 22, 2015 10:55 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO


RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Not even Aquino’s Cabinet was consulted on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and on the BBL. Not the National Security Council, not the Liberal Party, not Congress even if — or because — it was under his thumb. Not the MNLF with which the Republic had signed an agreement binding under international law; not even the governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao and its legislative assembly, which has been the nation’s attempt at peace with Muslims in Mindanao.

These pacts were signed at the peak of Aquino’s popularity, and when he was confident that with his billions of pesos in pork barrel and disbursement-acceleration plan funds, Congress would acquiesce to it. Nations would even cheer for it – after all, what country in the world would say that it was against this “peace” deal. Our rich neighbor, Malaysia, which provided crucial financial support, refuge and military training for the MNLF and the MILF in order to counter our Sabah claim, certainly cheered him on.

He can take his BBL with him when he goes: MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim in a light moment with President Aquino during the President’s Day two years ago. He can take his BBL with him when he goes: MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim in a light moment with President Aquino during the President’s Day two years ago.

The BBL bill, the entire peace pacts are Aquino’s and his small clique’s promises to the MILF, not the Filipino nation. His mandate to serve six years as head of government did not give him the right to dismember the Republic, or to push it to a path that could last forever. He gave to the MILF something –the integrity of the RepublIc–that was not his to give. When he steps out of power, and maybe even lands in history’s dustbin, he can take his BBL with him.

The gullible, the simpleton, a few dumb entertainment-world has-beens, the MILF and its sympathizers, are saying: Choose, the BBL or war. It is a false choice.

The real choice now is on the one hand, embracing Aquino’s pact with the MILF that would dismember the Republic and lead to more wars in the future, and on the other, embarking on a new road to real peace.

The path to real peace can only start with the ouster of Aquino. As long as he is in power, the MILF will claim that this President promised to give them their own nation-state, that he must keep his promises.

Only with Aquino gone can the nation claim that this arrogant President didn’t consult its representatives, whether we wanted the dismemberment of the Republic or not. We have to begin again.

How do we begin, after Aquino is gone?

First, the new President has to tell the MILF: “Sorry, Aquino rushed his peace pacts with you in his foolish fantasy of being a Nobel laureate and promised the moon and the stars to you, which we cannot give.”

“We’re truly sorry that Muslims and other national minorities were oppressed through the centuries. But we don’t have a time machine to undo that, just as the US can’t undo the injustice done to the 566 Native American tribes by setting up a 51st State of Native Americans. Australia can’t create an Aboriginal Nation-State for the aborigines the English colonizers nearly exterminated.”

The new President has to tell the MILF: “Sorry but the agreements that set up the Republic – the 1897 Biak-na-Bato Constitution, the 1899 Malolos Constitution, the 1935 Constitution, the 1973 Constitution, and the 1987 Constitution – all rejected the notions of a Moro nation, Ilokano nation, Visayas nation, even a Cordillera nation.“

These all envisioned a single Filipino nation, with one territory, one government, one armed force. The territories in Mindanao you call Bangsamoro are not yours; they belong to the Philippine Republic.

Second, a “Council of State” should be organized, representing our elders. I would suggest all past living presidents, Senate presidents, House speakers and Supreme Court justices. To recognize the role of the incumbent Congress, there could be more representatives from the two chambers to join the Council.

It is this council that would undertake an in-depth study of the Muslim problem – they might even discover that the concept of a “Bangsamoro” is a myth – and reach a consensus on how to address the Muslim problem and what kind of peace agreement to offer the MILF.

It would be the Council of State’s representatives who would negotiate a political settlement with the MILF. If such a settlement isn’t acceptable to the MILF, and we have to choose between going to war to preserve the Republic, or agree to give up a territory to the Muslims, at least we would be doing so as a result of a national consensus, not because of the ideas of a small clique.

In the meantime, a ceasefire agreement with the MILF would have to be signed, but in such a manner that it would not allow – as they have done in the past 14 years – to expand their forces and modernize their armaments.

To wait for Aquino to step down in 2016, or a year and a half before we can start this process, is a long, long time. We have to start now.

Aquino must step down now for us to make the first step toward real peace. That would give meaning to the sacrifice of the Fallen 44.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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