PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

EVACUEES RETURN HOME, SEA VOYAGES RESUME AS 'CHEDENG' WEAKENS;


APRIL 5...EDSA tarpaulins unfurled after Chedeng --Workers unfold a giant tarpaulin along EDSA corner Santolan Street in Quezon City on Monday, April 6, after reports that Tropical Depression Chedeng has left the Philippine Area of Responsibility. GMA News -
April 5, 2015 7:47pm - Residents of Isabela and Aurora who were evacuated amid the threat of Tropical Storm Chedeng (Maysak) have all returned to their homes as of Sunday evening, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Chedeng, which PAGASA had earlier projected would make landfall over the Aurora-Isabela area and pass through Northern Luzon, had weakened into a low-pressure area as of Sunday afternoon. In its 6 p.m. update, the NDRRMC said all evacuees in the two provinces "have returned to their respective homes."  The NDRRMC said some 708 families or 2,761 people were affected in 27 barangays of Isabela and Aurora. READ ON....

LGUs lauded for ‘Chedeng’ preparedness; zero casualty


APRIL 7 ...© Hadji Rieta Chedeng's dark clouds hover over Isabela Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Monday commended local officials of Aurora and Isabela for their preparedness in ensuring zero casualty during the onslaught of tropical depression “Chedeng” (international name: Maysak) over the weekend. Roxas met with local officials of the two provinces, as well as the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) officials, to thank them for their efforts. The interior secretary pointed out that while Chedeng eventually weakened, the local officials still prepared for the worst. “This doesn’t mean that our preparations went to waste. We will always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Roxas said. The Department of the Interior and Local Government carried out Oplan Listo with local government units and the PDRRMC as part of its disaster preparedness for typhoons. “Our local governments came together in a whole-of-nation approach to disaster preparedness,” Roxas noted. He also cited the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection for helping in the preemptive evacuation of 2,140 residents from Aurora and Isabela. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO MAMASAPANO TRAGEDY: House rejects 20 questions for Aquino


APRIL 7...HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The House of Representatives probe on the Mamasapano incident shot down a move by militant solons to send 20 questions to President Benigno Aquino III regarding his role in the operational disaster that left 67 persons dead.
The committees on public order and safety, peace, reconciliation and unity voted to deny a motion by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares to send the questions to Malacañang and allow Aquino to respond. Initially, the Makabayan bloc questioned the absence of President Aquino in the probe which the chamber resumed after two months of suspension. But Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said inviting the President would be tantamount to a violation of the separation of powers. Colmenares said the House probe would give the President the opportunity to air his side, especially after the police Board of Inquiry which investigated the incident failed to include Aquino in their interviews. The partylist representative said sending the questions to the President would be a “reasonable compromise” in lieu of inviting Aquino to the probe. “The President himself is asking for him to answer. The House will not be respecting its constitutional duty to hear this case without sending a letter of request,” Colmenares said. But an Aquino ally, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, said the House could not just send letters to the President. “It would really be impossible for 200 congressmen to be allowed to ask questions to the President… Ito ay paghihiya lamang sa Pangulo,” (It would embarrass the President) Erice said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Trillanes remains hopeful Aquino can still recover trust rating


APRIL 7...AQUINO RATINGS HIT ALL-TIME-LOW
Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th believes President Benigno Aquino 3rd can still recover his satisfaction rating which has been affected by the Mamasapano incident.
”Ultimately, yes, he can get back the trust ratings because he was not the killer, he is not corrupt and he is not bad,” Trillanes said in a phone patch interview with the Senate media on Tuesday. According to the recent survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), the satisfaction rating of President Aquino plunged to its lowest — a net of 11 percent in the first quarter of this year. Trillanes said opposition propagandists have taken advantage of the Mamasapano incident by blaming it on the President when in fact it was the former Special Action Force (SAF) chief, Police Director Getulio Napenas who erred in carrying out the “Oplan Exodus.”  ”The propagandists were able to create a scenario that the President had abandoned the incident. That was not the case. It was General Napeñas who should be blamed,” Trillanes said. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Aquino should not take surveys lightly’ -- warning from Chiz


APRIL 6...PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino  
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd should see the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results that show public satisfaction with his leadership and performance dropping to its lowest point “as a portent of things to come.”   Even the President’s personal friend and political ally, Sen. Francis Escudero, minced no words in warning his wedding “best man” not to take the survey results lightly. “That is what the survey said. It’s a snap shot of what people think and feel at a given point in time. The Palace should not simply brush it aside and ignore it,” he told The Manila Times on Monday. Escudero said Malacañang should “accept [the results] and take [them] under advisement.”  The survey was conducted almost two months after a police mission to capture international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, left over 60 people, including 44 police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF), dead. A political firestorm that followed the incident continues to buffet the Aquino administration.  Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told BusinessWorld, which commissioned the survey, that the drop could be attributed to the government’s response to the Mamasapano incident. Aquino has been heavily criticized for refusing to take accountability for the bungled operation and for pinning all the blame on the now-sacked SAF commander, Getulio Napeñas. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace wrong in comparing SWS and Pulse Asia ratings – expert


APRIL 6...It was wrong for Malacañang to use the results of the recent Social Weather Stations survey to surmise that the public has started to understand President Benigno Aquino III’s position as regards the Mamasapano incident, a political management expert said on Wednesday. Political campaign strategist Malou Tiquia, founder and general manager of Publicus Asia Inc., said Aquino’s seemingly better ratings in the latest SWS survey should not be compared with those released by Pulse Asia a few weeks ago. Tiquia made the remark after Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement that the public gave the president a higher satisfaction rating of 47 percent in the SWS survey than the 38 percent in Pulse Asia’s earlier poll because of more information on the Mamasapano tragedy. “To say that SWS captured a correction on the dip is wrong because the questions asked were different.

You cannot compare apples and oranges in the case of what is being measured,” Tiquia said in an online correspondence with GMA News Online. According to Tiquia, Pulse Asia asked its respondents, thus: “Mayroon ako ritong mga pangalan ng ilang mga opisyal ng ating pamahalaan. Pakisabi ninyo ang inyong opinyon tungkol sa pagganap nila ng kanilang tungkulin nitong huling tatlong buwan….”  She said that SWS, on the other hand, asked: “Please tell me how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with the performance of Benigno Aquino III as President of the Philippines…”  “Spins or propaganda may hide the real culprit for the dip but that may not serve well a president in the long run. You need to arrest that and only a correct reading of the data can lead one to scenarios and options to reverse the trend. That is if they are serious in arresting the slide,” Tiquia said. Tiquia’s firm has handled political campaigns in past elections including those of allies of the administration. READ MORE...

ALSO by Francisco Tatad: Aquino now eyeing an extended term?
APRIL 7...[Political reality sees Aquino as a political derelict whose present is now also his future. He has lost every right or reason to stay one minute longer in office; yet his “crisis managers” respond by planning to impose him on the nation for yet another six years or longer. Not even his old supporters could still see him as a viable player in 2016.]


Not only has President B. S. Aquino’s satisfaction rating nosedived. He was also reported to have had a nasty breakdown after a bout of hard coughing. Prompted by these, his “crisis managers” are said to have stepped up his survival planning to include options once thought to be “unthinkable.” According to Malacanang sources, Aquino is now on “a war footing,” prepared to consider a “palace coup” to extend his term beyond June 30, 2016. He is a drowning man clutching at straws, in the last extreme of optimism and surrealism.
So far Aquino has rejected the nationwide call for his resignation arising from his direct accountability in the death of 44 PNP-Special Action Force commandos in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre. At the same time he is trying to get Vice President Jejomar C. Binay out of the way as his constitutionally-named, and possible elective successor. In this scenario, everything will be used to incapacitate Binay politically, and finally replace him with either Senate President Franklin Drilon or Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Thereafter, PNoy could quietly resign and allow the new Vice President to take over. The new President could then appoint a new Vice President. In the 2016 elections, the new President and Vice President could run as a team, with all the advantages provided by their having been in power for so long, but without PNoy around anymore to spook the voters, or Binay to threaten the chances of the LP standard bearer. Without any notable opposition, this looks like a walk in the park for the incoming team. But Murphy’s law has taught us that if anything can go wrong it will, and PNoy has simply to open his mouth for disaster to come cascading. The destruction of Binay scenario could still utterly fail, and this is where the term-extension scenario comes in. It is so unreal. Political reality sees Aquino as a political derelict whose present is now also his future. He has lost every right or reason to stay one minute longer in office; yet his “crisis managers” respond by planning to impose him on the nation for yet another six years or longer. Not even his old supporters could still see him as a viable player in 2016. Their prayer is that he would be succeeded by a friendly successor who would allow him to fade gently into the sunset when his term is over. READ MORE...

ALSO by Yen Makabenta: Can Congress regain its power and dignity?
APRIL 6...[The first branch of government Yet, as professor Frohnmayer suggests, this shabby record does not mean a permanent loss of chastity. Congress can always work to recapture its power and dignity, because the nation does not have a ready substitute. Like a woman desirous to guard her honor, Congress can still say no. It just has not said it often enough to Aquino.]


“Congressional power, like chastity, is never lost, is rarely taken by force, and is almost always given away.” – David B. Frohnmayer, “The Separation of Powers: the vitality of a constitutional idea”   WHEN the House of Representatives resumes today its inquiry into the Mamasapano incident, it does well to consider this profound insight of Professor Frohnmayer, a former US university president and law dean. It is wrong for House members and the public to presume that President Aquino has taken away from the 16th Congress—from both the House and the Senate—its essential power of oversight and control over the acts of the Executive. In the hands of the House now lies all hope that the nation will get to fully know what happened in Mamasapano last January 25, why it happened, and who were responsible. The Senate is finished with its inquiry and has submitted its report. The Philippine National Police (PNP) through its Board of Inquiry has also concluded its own inquiry and submitted its findings.

The Human Rights Commission rushed its token inquiry, for the foolish purpose of dispelling all impressions that what happened in Mamasapano was a massacre. Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has completed its own inquiry and submitted its findings. The Department of Justice which boasted about conducting its own inquiry, has gone silent about the project, discouraged by the thought of Secretary Leila de Lima being laughed at one more time. Thus, the House inquiry has become our last watering hole in the desert – the last stop where our thirst for truth, justice and accountability can be quenched. I say to the committees conducting the inquiry that in their hands, either doors will close and secrets will be covered up or the full story of Mamasapano will finally be told. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Evacuees return home, sea voyages resume as Chedeng weakens


EDSA tarpaulins unfurled after Chedeng --Workers unfold a giant tarpaulin along EDSA corner Santolan Street in Quezon City on Monday, April 6, after reports that Tropical Depression Chedeng has left the Philippine Area of Responsibility. GMA News

MANILA, APRIL 13, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) April 5, 2015 7:47pm - Residents of Isabela and Aurora who were evacuated amid the threat of Tropical Storm Chedeng (Maysak) have all returned to their homes as of Sunday evening, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Chedeng, which PAGASA had earlier projected would make landfall over the Aurora-Isabela area and pass through Northern Luzon, had weakened into a low-pressure area as of Sunday afternoon.

In its 6 p.m. update, the NDRRMC said all evacuees in the two provinces "have returned to their respective homes."

The NDRRMC said some 708 families or 2,761 people were affected in 27 barangays of Isabela and Aurora.

READ ON...
A breakdown included 450 families or 1,693 people in Isabela and 258 families or 1,068 people in Aurora.

Meanwhile, the NDRRMC also said that as of 4 p.m. Sunday, there was no more passengers or grounded vessels stranded in ports across the country.

Shipping companies forced to suspend operations due to Chedeng have resumed their trips, it added.

During the weekend, local officials in Aurora imposed a swimming and surfing ban amid the threat of Chedeng. Boat activities at Hundred Islands in Pangasinan were also suspended.

Tourism activities resumed on Sunday. — Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News


INQUIRER

LGUs lauded for ‘Chedeng’ preparedness; zero casualty Julie M. Aurelio @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:44 AM | Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


© Hadji Rieta Chedeng's dark clouds hover over Isabela

Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Monday commended local officials of Aurora and Isabela for their preparedness in ensuring zero casualty during the onslaught of tropical depression “Chedeng” (international name: Maysak) over the weekend.

Roxas met with local officials of the two provinces, as well as the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) officials, to thank them for their efforts.

The interior secretary pointed out that while Chedeng eventually weakened, the local officials still prepared for the worst.

“This doesn’t mean that our preparations went to waste. We will always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Roxas said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government carried out Oplan Listo with local government units and the PDRRMC as part of its disaster preparedness for typhoons.

“Our local governments came together in a whole-of-nation approach to disaster preparedness,” Roxas noted.

He also cited the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection for helping in the preemptive evacuation of 2,140 residents from Aurora and Isabela.


INQUIRER

House rejects 20 questions for Aquino Marc Jayson Cayabyab @MJcayabyabINQ INQUIRER.net 1:36 PM | Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House of Representatives probe on the Mamasapano incident shot down a move by militant solons to send 20 questions to President Benigno Aquino III regarding his role in the operational disaster that left 67 persons dead.

The committees on public order and safety, peace, reconciliation and unity voted to deny a motion by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares to send the questions to Malacañang and allow Aquino to respond.

Initially, the Makabayan bloc questioned the absence of President Aquino in the probe which the chamber resumed after two months of suspension.

But Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said inviting the President would be tantamount to a violation of the separation of powers.

Colmenares said the House probe would give the President the opportunity to air his side, especially after the police Board of Inquiry which investigated the incident failed to include Aquino in their interviews.

The partylist representative said sending the questions to the President would be a “reasonable compromise” in lieu of inviting Aquino to the probe.

“The President himself is asking for him to answer. The House will not be respecting its constitutional duty to hear this case without sending a letter of request,” Colmenares said.

But an Aquino ally, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, said the House could not just send letters to the President.

“It would really be impossible for 200 congressmen to be allowed to ask questions to the President… Ito ay paghihiya lamang sa Pangulo,” (It would embarrass the President) Erice said.

READ ON...
Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Farinas said the President might only be probed in cases of impeachment.

“Hindi pwedeng pasagutin ang President sa dami ng committees. Kung lahat magtatanong sa Presidente hindi na makakapagtrabaho yan,” (The President cannot be made to answer because there are so many committees. If everyone would be asking questions, the President would no longer be able to attend to his job) Farinas said.

Colmenares insisted that sending their questions to the President would not be tantamount to a criminal or civil suit.

“This is not a criminal or civil charge. This is simply asking a list of answers to a list of questions,” he said.

The House is clamping down on emotional lawmakers to maintain decorum in the investigation after its first hearing was criticized for being frenzied and circus-like.

Today’s hearing was also attended by some family members of the slain 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who were sent to hunt down international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Lawmakers are outraged over the involvement of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the attack against the SAF, especially since the lower chamber is studying the passage of the bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BBL will pave the way for the Bangsamoro in compliance with a peace deal with the MILF.

Following are the 20 questions submitted by the House Makabayan bloc for the President to answer:

1.Why did you authorize or allow the participation of then PNP chief Alan Purisima in Oplan Exodus even though you were fully aware that he was already suspended at that time?

2.If Purisima were only an “expert adviser,” why did you say that you ordered him to coordinate with (the PNP officer in charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo) Espina, and AFP Chief of Staff [Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.] and that he did not follow [your] order?

3.Why didn’t you, as the Commander in Chief, direct Espina and Catapang to support the SAF, instead of delegating the task to a suspended official?

4.When you let a suspended official head an operation, received reports from him, and ordered SAF Director Napeñas to report to him, did you not violate the chain of command?

5.Did you not violate the suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Purisima when you allowed [him] to head the operation?

Talk with Purisima

6.What did you and Purisima talk about during the Jan. 9 meeting at Bahay Pangarap, after Napeñas left and before Purisima told Napeñas, “Inform the two (referring to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Espina) when the mission is already under way. I’ll take care of Catapang”?

7.How many times did you text Purisima and other officials about the operation in Mamasapano? What are the contents of these messages? Was there an instance that you made voice calls to Purisima and other officials on the matter?

8.You said that you were irked at Purisima because you could not make sense of his conflicting texts. Why did you not call him to clarify matters? Why did you not call other officials to know what was happening?

9.You were aware of the probability of “pintakasi,” that the SAF troopers will be attacked by any and all armed locals in the area. Why did you not order coordination with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) even just hours before the operation was launched?

10. Were you not informed in the morning that the 55th Speical Action Company (SAC) was being engaged in an encounter?

11. The WesMinCom commander, (Lt. Gen. Rustico) Guerrero, testified that you were getting updates throughout the day at his headquarters in Zamboanga. Who were the officials updating you and what was the information they gave you?

12. What were your orders to Guerrero or Catapang, if there were any?

13. Were you aware that the CCCH was working toward a ceasefire in the middle of the fighting? When were you informed of this? Did you give any guidance in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?

14. Did you give any orders to stand down? Did you not give orders to Catapang or (6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edmundo) Pangilinan or to both of them not to fire the artillery in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where the 55th SAC was engaged with the MILF and other armed locals in consideration of the peace talks with the MILF?

15. Why was there no air support during the Mamasapano operation?

16. What can you say about Napeñas’ statement that you left them in the lurch and that this is the highest form of betrayal?

Lie about Purisima

17. Why did you lie in your first speech on Jan. 28 about the involvement of Purisima during the period of his suspension?

18. Why did you allow US intervention—from the planning, funding, training, ISR, and during the very conduct of the operation and the subsequent evacuation, as is obvious from the presence of six Americans at the tactical command post?

19. What is your legal basis for allowing this intervention by the US military in a PNP law enforcement operation—a purely internal matter—even though this is not covered by the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement?

20. What was the extent of the participation of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines in the Mamasapano operation? Why did the JSOTF close down on Feb. 24, 2015?


MANILA TIMES

Trillanes remains hopeful Aquino can still recover trust rating April 7, 2015 5:36 pm


AQUINO RATINGS HIT ALL-TIME-LOW

Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th believes President Benigno Aquino 3rd can still recover his satisfaction rating which has been affected by the Mamasapano incident.

”Ultimately, yes, he can get back the trust ratings because he was not the killer, he is not corrupt and he is not bad,” Trillanes said in a phone patch interview with the Senate media on Tuesday.

According to the recent survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), the satisfaction rating of President Aquino plunged to its lowest — a net of 11 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Trillanes said opposition propagandists have taken advantage of the Mamasapano incident by blaming it on the President when in fact it was the former Special Action Force (SAF) chief, Police Director Getulio Napenas who erred in carrying out the “Oplan Exodus.”

”The propagandists were able to create a scenario that the President had abandoned the incident. That was not the case. It was General Napeñas who should be blamed,” Trillanes said.

READ MORE...
Trillanes, a former Navy officer, said Napenas had in fact withheld tactical information that prompted the Philippine Army not to fire artillery at the height of the Mamasapano encounter between the SAF troopers and the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

”General Napeñas withheld tactical information by not telling the whereabouts of his other units because before you fire artillery, you have to know all your forces within the area. It was withheld by Napeñas,” Trillanes said.

To recover the lost trust rating, Trillanes said President Aquino should show more sincerity and good governance in the remaining 15 months of his administration.

”They (Aquino administration) should show that they really mean well,” the lawmaker said.

Trillanes said he received information that the President had been advised not to attend the arrival honors for the slain SAF troopers at the Villamor Air Base last Jan. 29.

”Whoever advised him not to attend, the President should fire that official,” Trillanes said.

He also said he believed the communications people of the President had mishandled the Mamasapano incident.

”They should have handled it carefully because we knew that the President was very emotional at that time when he delivered his first speech regarding the incident. Their messaging should be very deliberate because this incident is a very emotional issue,” Trillanes said.


MANILA TIMES

‘Aquino should not take surveys lightly’ -warning from Chiz April 6, 2015 11:42 pm by ARES P. GUTIERREZ, MANAGING EDITOR; CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, REPORTERS; AND HARMONY J. VALDOZ, INTERN


PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd should see the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results that show public satisfaction with his leadership and performance dropping to its lowest point “as a portent of things to come.”

Even the President’s personal friend and political ally, Sen. Francis Escudero, minced no words in warning his wedding “best man” not to take the survey results lightly.

“That is what the survey said. It’s a snap shot of what people think and feel at a given point in time. The Palace should not simply brush it aside and ignore it,” he told The Manila Times on Monday.

Escudero said Malacañang should “accept [the results] and take [them] under advisement.”

The survey was conducted almost two months after a police mission to capture international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, left over 60 people, including 44 police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF), dead.

A political firestorm that followed the incident continues to buffet the Aquino administration.

Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told BusinessWorld, which commissioned the survey, that the drop could be attributed to the government’s response to the Mamasapano incident.

Aquino has been heavily criticized for refusing to take accountability for the bungled operation and for pinning all the blame on the now-sacked SAF commander, Getulio Napeñas.

READ MORE...
The SWS survey, which polled 1,200 respondents, was conducted from March 20 to 23. The survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.

It showed that President Aquino obtained a net satisfaction rating of a “moderate” +11 (those satisfied minus unsatisfied), from “good” +39 from December 2014.

Public satisfaction on the Aquino administration dropped 35 points from +47 rating it obtained from the same period last year.

Despite the plunge, only 32 percent were supportive of calls for his resignation.

The poll said 50 percent still support the Aquino administration while 18 percent remain undecided.

The President’s satisfaction rating nosedived in all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes.

Blame the media

A Malacañang spokesman also on Monday blamed the media, saying coverage of the Mamasapano incident and its aftermath contributed to the dip in Aquino’s satisfaction rating.

“A significant factor which contributed to the decline in the satisfaction rating of the President is the Mamasapano clash. We also recognize that public opinion surveys are based on information from the media being read and consumed by the people. In our view, it is mainly media-related,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in Filipino.

Coloma went on to appeal to the media to report “correct and truthful information.”

“We are hoping that through disseminating correct and truthful information, Filipinos can thoroughly understand the position of the government,” he said.

Moreover, Malacañang sees the SWS survey results as an “improvement”.

“While there has been a decline in the President’s satisfaction rating, it is evident that a higher number of Filipinos affirm their belief in his leadership and outnumber those who are dissatisfied or prefer that he resign from office,” Coloma said.

“There is also a significant segment that is undecided about his performance and about his resignation. This represents an opportunity for reaching out to those who are undecided or ambivalent in their sentiments toward the President and the administration and eventually winning them over,” he added.

Coloma noted that the survey was taken three weeks after Pulse Asia conducted its own survey.

In that survey, Aquino is no longer the most trusted top government official as his trust ratings nosedived to 36 percent in March from 56 percent last November.

“It is possible that, having gathered more information about current events, and having been able to know and understand better the President’s position on the Mamasapano incident, the people gave the President a higher satisfaction rating in the SWS survey than the performance approval rating that he obtained in the Pulse Asia survey,” Coloma said.

Growing discontent Danilo Arao, associate professor of journalism at UP Diliman, said the decline in Aquino’s net satisfaction rating is a reflection of the people’s growing discontent with how the government is being run.

“If the President and the government do not shape up, the undecided could end up being part of the dissatisfied and could further boost the campaign for the President’s ouster,” he told The Manila Times.

“It is true that only 32 percent want the President to resign but the undecided 18 percent cannot be ignored.

“That there are 50 percent of survey respondents who disagree with the proposal for resignation does not mean that they automatically agree with the policies and programs of the administration. Again, the undecided will play a major role here. The campaign for meaningful change obviously does not happen overnight and it takes time for public opinion to favor anything that would disrupt the order of things, which is what we expect in the event of a President’s removal from office. However, we have a long history of ‘disruptions’ and the recent SWS results should be seen as a portent of things to come,” Arao said.

Why rock the boat

Dr. Isagani Cruz, president of The Manila Times College, meanwhile, said Filipinos “just don’t want to be bothered” hence, the reason why half of the respondents don’t want Aquino to resign.

“Since there are 14 months to go, why rock the boat? It’s too much trouble. If we replace him now, if he resigns, we have to get used to a new president. [Filipinos are like that], they just don’t want to be bothered. It’s too much trouble for us to get used to a new President, a new Cabinet, a new everything. And the President wants to serve only until 2016 anyway, why not just wait? [Let’s just be patient with him]. Which was what he asked for. He said, “I ask for your understanding.” Which in Filipino means, “Pasensya na po [Bear with me].”


GMA NEWS TV

Palace wrong in comparing SWS and Pulse Asia ratings – expert
April 6, 2015 Local News

It was wrong for Malacañang to use the results of the recent Social Weather Stations survey to surmise that the public has started to understand President Benigno Aquino III’s position as regards the Mamasapano incident, a political management expert said on Wednesday.

Political campaign strategist Malou Tiquia, founder and general manager of Publicus Asia Inc., said Aquino’s seemingly better ratings in the latest SWS survey should not be compared with those released by Pulse Asia a few weeks ago.

Tiquia made the remark after Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement that the public gave the president a higher satisfaction rating of 47 percent in the SWS survey than the 38 percent in Pulse Asia’s earlier poll because of more information on the Mamasapano tragedy.

“To say that SWS captured a correction on the dip is wrong because the questions asked were different. You cannot compare apples and oranges in the case of what is being measured,” Tiquia said in an online correspondence with GMA News Online.

According to Tiquia, Pulse Asia asked its respondents, thus: “Mayroon ako ritong mga pangalan ng ilang mga opisyal ng ating pamahalaan. Pakisabi ninyo ang inyong opinyon tungkol sa pagganap nila ng kanilang tungkulin nitong huling tatlong buwan….”

She said that SWS, on the other hand, asked: “Please tell me how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with the performance of Benigno Aquino III as President of the Philippines…”

“Spins or propaganda may hide the real culprit for the dip but that may not serve well a president in the long run. You need to arrest that and only a correct reading of the data can lead one to scenarios and options to reverse the trend. That is if they are serious in arresting the slide,” Tiquia said.

Tiquia’s firm has handled political campaigns in past elections including those of allies of the administration.

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“Pulse Asia measured and is tracking performance and trust while SWS is measured and is tracking public satisfaction,” Tiquia said.

Tiquia said Pulse Asia’s point of view was “for the last three months (recency of events or top of mind comes to play), while SWS is an overall measure of the President of the Philippines.”

Mamasapano a ‘dramatic’ force

“The three-week difference in the time frame of the Pulse Asia and the SWS surveys does not in any way take into consideration the nuances of the BOI report, made public on 13 March; Executive Summary of the Senate released by Sen. Grace Poe last 17 March; and the MILF Report on Mamasapano made public on 24 March 2015,” Tiquia said.

Tiquia, however, said that both polls reflected several points, including that the dip is primarily “due to Mamasapano, which occured during the survey period.”

Other points she said were shown in both surveys include: ◾ trend has been established that approval and satisfaction with Aquino have dipped to lowest levels compared to last quarter of 2014; ◾ the trend is observed across geographical areas and socio-economic classes ◾ only a third supports the call for the resignation of Aquino.

For his part, political analyst Prospero de Vera said the results must be seen as a result not just of the clash, which, while the biggest factor in the dip, was not the only thing being considered.

“Maraming factors ito, dahil kailangan itong tingnan bilang isang continuum. Ibig sabihin dugtong-dugtong ito na pagtingin ng taumbayan doon sa kaniyang pamumuno kasi hindi lang naman ngayon bumaba,” he said in an interview with “News To Go”.

“Ang mahalaga, matindi ang pagbaba ngayon, dramatic ‘yung pag-decline. So totoo na malaking bahagi nito ay dahil sa Mamasapano, at sa tingin siguro ng marami ay hindi nila nagustuhan ‘yung response ng Pangulo sa Mamasapano,” De Vera said.

“Hindi naman singular event ‘yung nagpapababa, pero may dramatic event na nagiging dramatic ‘yung pagbagsak. In fact, ayon sa mga nagsu-survey, pareho ito o parang kasing sama nu’ng kay GMA (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) noon matapos niyang mag-“I am sorry” para sa pandaraya noong eleksyon nu’ng 2004,” he added.

Slow response

De Vera also said that the president’s crisis management and communications teams may have underestimated the public sentiment on the Mamasapano clash.

He said that similar “dramatic” events have happened in past presidencies, such as the rice crisis and Flor Contemplacion case during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos. He said that in those instances, the communications teams responded quickly.

“Parang malaki ang pagkukulang sa analysis sa aking palagay,” De Vera said. “Dito parang mabagal o maraming kulang sa analysis.”

He said, however, that unlike in previous presidencies, Aquino’s term and the Mamasapano incident were both under public scrutiny by social media.

“Mahirap mag-respond dahil ang response ng tao diyan ay real-time at madaling galitin ang tao sa pamamagitan ng social media… At siguro ang communications team ng Pangulo ngayon, mahina ang handle nila ngayon sa social media,” he said.

‘Arrest’ the dip

Both political experts pointed out that the president’s team needed to “arrest” the significant dip in his ratings.

Tiquia said “only a correct reading of the data can lead one to scenarios and options to reverse the trend.”

For his part, De Vera said addressing this decline should be the immediate response, to look beyond the endorsement for a candidate in 2016.

“Mas problema ‘yung pagtingin ng tao sa mga susunod na gagawin niya. Kasi itong pagbaba ng ratings in the midst of criticisms… magiging self-fulfilling ‘yan if tuloy ang pagbaba. Kasi ‘pag hindi na-arrest at bumaba pa at mag-stumble ang Pangulo sa BBL, maniniwala ang tao na babagsak na siya,” he said.

He added: “‘Yon ang kailangan bantayan ng communication team ng Pangulo, na ‘wag itong mag-hemorrhage nang paparating ang SONA (State of the Nation Address).” —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/NB/JDS, GMA News


MANILA TIMES

Aquino now eyeing an extended term? April 7, 2015 10:36 pm by FRANCISCO S. TATAD

Not only has President B. S. Aquino’s satisfaction rating nosedived. He was also reported to have had a nasty breakdown after a bout of hard coughing. Prompted by these, his “crisis managers” are said to have stepped up his survival planning to include options once thought to be “unthinkable.”

According to Malacanang sources, Aquino is now on “a war footing,” prepared to consider a “palace coup” to extend his term beyond June 30, 2016. He is a drowning man clutching at straws, in the last extreme of optimism and surrealism.

So far Aquino has rejected the nationwide call for his resignation arising from his direct accountability in the death of 44 PNP-Special Action Force commandos in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre.

At the same time he is trying to get Vice President Jejomar C. Binay out of the way as his constitutionally-named, and possible elective successor. In this scenario, everything will be used to incapacitate Binay politically, and finally replace him with either Senate President Franklin Drilon or Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Thereafter, PNoy could quietly resign and allow the new Vice President to take over. The new President could then appoint a new Vice President.

In the 2016 elections, the new President and Vice President could run as a team, with all the advantages provided by their having been in power for so long, but without PNoy around anymore to spook the voters, or Binay to threaten the chances of the LP standard bearer.

Without any notable opposition, this looks like a walk in the park for the incoming team. But Murphy’s law has taught us that if anything can go wrong it will, and PNoy has simply to open his mouth for disaster to come cascading. The destruction of Binay scenario could still utterly fail, and this is where the term-extension scenario comes in.

It is so unreal.

Political reality sees Aquino as a political derelict whose present is now also his future.

He has lost every right or reason to stay one minute longer in office; yet his “crisis managers” respond by planning to impose him on the nation for yet another six years or longer. Not even his old supporters could still see him as a viable player in 2016. Their prayer is that he would be succeeded by a friendly successor who would allow him to fade gently into the sunset when his term is over.

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But even his closest kin have serious fears. They seem to believe that regardless of whoever succeeds him, he could not be sure of anything. His best option, in their view, is to step down now, as the National Transformation Council and other groups have proposed, and seek a sanctuary in some friendly territory like the peninsular Malaysian state of Johore, whose ruler is said to be his personal friend, while a caretaker council fixes the broken constitutional order.

Apparently, his “crisis managers” believe that a resort to “raw power” could still reverse his sinking political fortunes.

They are counting on his foreign patrons to prop him up, in exchange for his complete subservience to their geopolitical schemes, even if support for it in the grassroots proves unobtaining.

They seem confident the masses and the military will not rise, just because they are controlled by the economic, political and military elite who are in turn feeding out of Aquino’s hands. But what if this assumption ultimately proves wrong?

Indeed, a term extension, assuming it could be arranged, could buy time and postpone the day of reckoning for Aquino’s unpunished crimes. But would it extinguish those crimes, instead of simply multiplying them?

Are they not likely to proliferate than be forgotten over time? I cannot see term-extension as a solution to Aquino’s–or the nation’s–problems. I would therefore urge an extreme abundance of caution before Aquino stamps his approval upon this proposal.

It is not clear how far the reported planning has gone. But one source said, “it’s always been there.

It’s Aquino’s basic response to the fear that his successor would do to him what he did to his immediate predecessor and the three opposition senators, who are now in jail.”

A lawyer in the Aquino family was reported to have told him that he could spend at least 25 years in jail with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for “malversation of public funds” on the grave misuse and manipulation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) issue alone, not to mention his culpability in the Mamasapano massacre, where some of the victims’ families have threatened criminal action against him once it becomes “legally possible.”

As president, Aquino cannot be prosecuted for any criminal offense until his term is over, or unless he is first removed by impeachment.

Yet he could not be impeached now because of his virtual stranglehold upon Congress, which alone has the power to impeach and remove him.

But life in prison is his greatest fear, and this fear is shared (perhaps to a greater degree) by members of the Cabinet, who have committed plunder through the DAP and various illegal contracts in the Department of Transportation and Communication, the Department of National Defense, the Department of Agriculture and others; and incurred criminal liability for the death of the SAF 44.

Compared to Aquino, who may be able to engage in political bargaining with his successor, his Cabinet cronies and sycophants have no political capital to use for such bargaining.

They have therefore every reason to be more afraid, and to be more determined to see Aquino cling on to power. But exactly how workable is this option? Aquino is hardly in control of all the variables; not even time is in his favor.

There are two ways of doing the extension.

First, through a constitutional amendment, and second, through a takeover of the Constitution.

Given his current control of Congress, Aquino might still be able to muster the necessary three-fourth vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to allow him to extend his term. Smartmatic and the thoroughly corrupted precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines could then deliver the votes at the plebiscite, even if the entire electorate should unanimously vote against the amendment.

But there may not be enough time for it. Since certificates of candidacy for the May 2016 elections should be filed starting this October, any attempt to amend the Constitution should happen anytime soon rather than later.

And since this would require a plebiscite, which is equivalent to a national election, it would mean holding two national electoral processes within a period of less than one year. This is a little too much; we have not done anything like it before.

A constitutional takeover would seem easier.

All Aquino has to do is to announce a revolutionary government and promulgate his version of his late mother’s 1986 “Freedom Constitution” in place of the present Constitution, and give himself a new term.

The only problem here, though, is if the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which the Constitution recognizes as the protector of the people and the state, should refuse to recognize and obey the “revolutionary government,” and give the power instead to a multi-sectoral caretaker council, or take power for themselves and throw out an adventurist president into the gutter.

This is the real risk which may not be worth taking. Aquino may have to rethink the proposed option very very very carefully, all over again.


MANILA TIMES

Can Congress regain its power and dignity? April 6, 2015 10:19 pm by YEN MAKABENTA

“Congressional power, like chastity, is never lost, is rarely taken by force, and is almost always given away.” – David B. Frohnmayer, “The Separation of Powers: the vitality of a constitutional idea”

WHEN the House of Representatives resumes today its inquiry into the Mamasapano incident, it does well to consider this profound insight of Professor Frohnmayer, a former US university president and law dean.

It is wrong for House members and the public to presume that President Aquino has taken away from the 16th Congress—from both the House and the Senate—its essential power of oversight and control over the acts of the Executive.

In the hands of the House now lies all hope that the nation will get to fully know what happened in Mamasapano last January 25, why it happened, and who were responsible.

The Senate is finished with its inquiry and has submitted its report. The Philippine National Police (PNP) through its Board of Inquiry has also concluded its own inquiry and submitted its findings. The Human Rights Commission rushed its token inquiry, for the foolish purpose of dispelling all impressions that what happened in Mamasapano was a massacre. Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has completed its own inquiry and submitted its findings.

The Department of Justice which boasted about conducting its own inquiry, has gone silent about the project, discouraged by the thought of Secretary Leila de Lima being laughed at one more time.

Thus, the House inquiry has become our last watering hole in the desert – the last stop where our thirst for truth, justice and accountability can be quenched.

I say to the committees conducting the inquiry that in their hands, either doors will close and secrets will be covered up or the full story of Mamasapano will finally be told.

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Three questions to ask I think the inquiry will render the nation an inestimable service if it gets clear answers to three questions that continue to bug the public and yours truly.

This is different and more modest than the 20 questions which some lawmakers have urged President Aquino to answer.

My three questions are:

First, was there, in fact, an order to the AFP troops present at the scene for them to “stand down” and desist from providing rescue and assistance to the beleaguered SAF commandos?

This is different from asking Aquino whether he gave such an order (a question which cannot be posed because Speaker Belmonte ruled out any questioning of the President).

The sensible alternative is to pose the question to the AFP commanders and officers – to ask them squarely whether any of them received at the time such an order, and if so from whom. Whether the answer is yes or no, it will clarify to the public why the military did not act to support the SAF. So at least this mystery will be laid to rest.

Second, when the GRP-MILF peace agreement was negotiated, why did the Aquino government talk only with the MILF and its representatives? Why were other Muslim groups ruled out?

Why was Malaysia present in the negotiations? What was its role and interest in the talks?

Why was there no representative from the military in the Philippine panel?

Third, since President Aquino has accepted full responsibility for the Mamasapano incident, what does this mean or encompass?

Aquino may not be present at the inquiry today, but the House should not shy away from providing a definition of responsibility. It should say whether responsibility is the same as accountability.

Should Aquino’s acceptance of responsibility be treated as a confession? Or as a mere sound bite?

Scrubbing the image of Congress

If the House courageously pursues its inquiry to a satisfactory conclusion and then writes a cogent report, it could set the stage for earnest and serious deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Additionally, the House can help its sister chamber by jump-starting the scrubbing of the image and public standing of Congress.

Neither the House nor the Senate should forget that they enjoy the lowest levels of trust among the country’s key political institutions.

In the 2014 Trust Index surveys, the Senate enjoyed the lowest level of trust, lower than the House and the President.

In the March Pulse Asia Survey, Speaker Belmonte had the lowest approval rating among the country’s top five officials (Aquino, Binay, Drilon, Belmonte, chief justice Sereno).

Amazingly, the public’s low regard for Congress is almost completely driven by the relationship between the President and Congress.

It sinks to its lowest when the President is most dominating of relations. It rises a little when Congress shows independence and holds Malacañang to account.

Historically, esteem for the Senate was never higher than at the time when the chamber voted to reject the proposed military bases treaty with the US in 1991 during the time of President Cory Aquino.

Esteem was never lower than at this time – the era of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd — when the public is incensed by the pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and when senators and congressmen have been indicted for the plunder of public funds.

Likewise, the perception of congressional servility to Aquino – in crushing all moves to impeach him, and in railroading PNoy’s initiative to impeach former chief justice Renato Corona — has taken a heavy toll on congressional dignity and prestige.

The first branch of government Yet, as professor Frohnmayer suggests, this shabby record does not mean a permanent loss of chastity.

Congress can always work to recapture its power and dignity, because the nation does not have a ready substitute.

The power is always there, because Congress is truly the first branch of government – the most representative of the nation’s political institutions.

Thanks largely to misguided leadership and clueless members, our legislature has consistently looked irresponsible, and too easily bought by the executive.

Like a woman desirous to guard her honor, Congress can still say no. It just has not said it often enough to Aquino.

Now, the 16th Congress must prepare for national elections in 2016, when both a new president and a new legislature will be elected.

This congress is presented the opportunity to polish its image through its inquiries into the Mamasapano incident and its forthcoming deliberations on the Bangsamoro law.

If it exercises statesmanship and upholds the national interest, the way to rehabilitation is open.

If it caves to Malacañang’s typical blandishments of money, it will be time for the people to listen to those who seek an end to bicameralism or a shift to parliamentary government.

Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, your move.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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