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

OMBUDSMAN, SENATE PROBERS WANT VP IMPEACHED


JULY 15 ---The Office of the Ombudsman. Philstar.com/File
The Office of the Ombudsman is moving toward the possible filing of an impeachment case against Vice President Jejomar Binay based on his supposed involvement in the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati Science High School.
The fact-finding investigators in a complaint filed on June 8, 2015 before the anti-graft agency’s preliminary investigation bureau said the second highest executive official of the land should be unseated. Field Investigation Office (FIO) officials said they are charging Binay “for purposes of determining sufficiency of evidence that would warrant filing of (an) impeachment complaint” against him. The efforts confirmed the claims of Binay’s camp that his political enemies from the Liberal Party are cooking up an impeachment case against him through the Office of the Ombudsman. The FIO complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR yesterday, also appears to recognize that Binay is an impeachable officer, contrary to claims. “The Makati Science (High School) complaint was filed against the Vice President for purposes of filing an impeachment complaint against the Vice President. Contrary to the claim of Ombudsman Conchita Morales that her office is ‘apolitical,’ her actions indicate the contrary,” said Joey Salgado, media affairs chief of the Office of the Vice President  READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy working to keep Liberal Party  coalition intact


JULY 15 ---Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas said President Aquino has been holding talks with LP leaders and other coalition officers in a bid to keep the alliance intact for the polls. File photo
 President Aquino is trying hard to avert a Liberal Party (LP) coalition split over the selection of the standard bearer for the May 2016 elections, a party stalwart said yesterday.
Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas said Aquino has been holding talks with LP leaders and other coalition officers in a bid to keep the alliance intact for the polls. “The President is trying his best to keep the coalition intact, that’s the reason why the President is talking to coalition members, and probable candidates, for example (Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas, Sen. Grace Poe and (Sen. Francis) Escudero – there is an effort on the part of the party to keep the coalition intact,” Tupas told reporters. He said the chances of winning are better if the coalition remains. But if Sen. Sergio Osmeña III is to be asked, the meetings only serve one purpose: to ensure that Poe would be out of the presidential race. Osmeña, who has worked as campaign manager and political analyst in previous elections, said the plan of the President and Poe was clear to him. “P-Noy wants Grace out of the presidential picture and to run as vice president of Mar because he feels that the votes of Grace would go to Mar anyway,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Guess who’s coming to dinner at the Palace
[PRESIDENT HOSTING ROXAS, POE, ESCUDERO TOGETHER]


JULY 15 ---Aquino had already met with Poe and Escudero at the Palace in separate instances, and then together, also at the Palace.PNoy is squeezing the dinner into his tight schedule. The past few weeks, his focus has been the writing of his State of the Nation Address (Sona). Poe has been topping the polls on potential presidential candidates. Her foremost ally, Escudero, is believed to be eyeing the vice presidency. Roxas is expected to be named the standard-bearer of the President’s party, the Liberal Party. (Poe ran as independent in the 2013 senatorial elections. Escudero has been an independent since 2009.)The presidency or nothing There are quarters who believe that a Roxas-Poe—or Poe-Roxas—tandem is the only team-up that stands a good chance to rival the presidential candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay. For Roxas, the Inquirer has learned, it is the presidency or nothing. But Poe’s solid alliance with Escudero remains evident—a political bonding forged when Poe’s father, the late king of Philippine movies, Fernando Poe Jr., ran for President in 2004. Escudero was strongly behind, if not at the helm, of that candidacy. So Poe has openly cast her lot with Escudero. Escudero backed Binay for the vice presidency in 2010. He was also known as the proponent of the “Noy-Bi” tandem—which, expectedly, riled Roxas. Crisscrossed alliance Such is the political backdrop of crisscrossed alliances that will be the setting of this week’s dinner. Aquino, the Palace source said, sees the selection of his successor as a “work in progress.” In need of Solomonic wisdom, however, is how the Palace source called the task. While Aquino has given himself a deadline for the announcement of his choice successor, and that is shortly after the 2015 Sona, the Inquirer learned that other “presidentiables” and “vice presidentiables” are asking for until September for Aquino to announce his endorsement. READ MORE...

ALSO Quicho: Senate a safe haven for Aquino allies, gas chamber for political foes


JULY 15 --Lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho, vice presidential spokesman for political concerns
While the Senate has become a virtual execution ground for political opponents of the Aquino administration, it has served as a safe refuge for its political allies and even the President himself whenever they find themselves faced with allegations over their questionable acts. This was how the camp of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay described the Senate, particularly the blue ribbon committee, after panel chair, Sen. TG Guingona cautioned critics of the administration against prejudging Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who is now facing a probe over the anomalous helicopter deal. Guingona has prejudged in his committee hearings, the three opposiiton senators, declaring them guilty despite the lack of evidence. “Senator Guingona’s committee has once again shown that while it prejudges and destroys the political opposition, it is a safe harbor for administration officials and allies embroiled in reported anomalies,” said lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho, vice presidential spokesman for political concerns. “It is evident that the blue ribbon committee treats Senate President Drilon, Secretaries Abad, Roxas, Abaya, Alcala, de Lima and now Gazmin with kid gloves while allowing perjured resource persons and highly partisan senators to persecute under the guise of investigating Vice President Binay,” Quicho stressed. It is not however, the political allies of the administration who are being extended “protection” by the Senate but even President Aquino himself as Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares continues to refuse to submit to the plenary the results of her investigation of the Mamasapano Massacre which she had initially described as something which the President could be held responsible for. Quicho said while a witness had already come forward and identified Gazmin as one of the personalities involved in the anomalous chopper deal, Guingona downplayed and skirted the issue.


ALSO the controversial choppers: Where are the guns?


JULY 14 ---THE AIR UP THERE A news photographer on board one of the Huey helicopters used in Tuesday’s demonstration flight takes a snap. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN 
MUNTINLUPA City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon–at 80–still looked every inch a Marine as he stood ramrod-straight at the Camp Aguinaldo grounds to await the arrival of a flight of UH-1D helicopters that were flying in from Villamor Air Base on Tuesday. The helicopters were among the 21 combat utility helicopters that were part of the controversial P1.2-billion project, which The Manila Times earlier exposed as allegedly anomalous after a revelation made by Rhodora Alvarez, who claimed she was privy to the deal between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Rice Aircraft Services Inc. Only seven of the 21 helicopters were delivered after the project was partly terminated a month after The Manila Times published a series of reports on alleged irregularities in the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Biazon, a Marine soldier who once ruled Camp Aguinaldo as chief of staff of the AFP during the first Aquino administration, had spent countless hours flying in Huey helicopters. When he spoke during a briefing before an actual demonstration flight with the media got underway, he took note of one detail–the combat helicopters had no guns. Biazon said if the helicopters were indeed “combat mission” capable, the guns should have been mounted. No one from among the DND and military officials that included Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin replied to the congressman’s query. But after Biazon left, the officials told the reporters who pressed them for answers that the guns were removed before the helicopters took off from Villamor Air Base “because it was a public test flight.” READ MORE...


ALSO: Binay
questions Ombudsman jurisdiction


JULY 16 ---Vice President Jejomar Binay. IISS/CC license
Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday questioned the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman in the investigation of allegations of overpricing in the construction of the Makati Science High School during his term as mayor.
Binay filed a counter-affidavit denying the overpricing while questioning the authority of the ombudsman. He said the ombudsman has no jurisdiction over impeachable officials. Binay also accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales of prejudging the case by making premature public statements that the evidence against him is strong without first waiting to hear his side. He said accusations of his alleged involvement in bidding irregularities are coming from an unreliable witness who is quoting a dead person. “With all due respect, the Office of the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate an impeachable officer unless and until the term of the impeachable officer has expired or the impeachable officer has been removed from office through impeachment,” Binay said in his 20-page counter-affidavit. READ MORE...

ALSO: More of the same? Or something better?
[The Filipino people deserve much more than a “tuwid na daan” distraction.]


JULY 14 ---By Federico D. Pascual JR.
ADMINISTRATION propagandists are conditioning the public mind to accept three points: (1) President Noynoy Aquino’s performance has been exemplary, (2) his successor should continue his program, and (3) only his anointed presidential candidate can do it.
While his detractors have been presenting facts and figures to demolish the first point of claimed achievements, nobody has questioned the second point of continuity being needed and the third point that only Mr. Aquino’s chosen one can continue his program. Lulling potential opposition candidates (e.g. senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero) into thinking he is still shopping around (as if DILG Secretary Mar Roxas isn’t “it” yet), President Aquino tells everybody that he is looking for a successor who would continue the program he has started. But why should the next president merely copy and continue Mr. Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” program that is anchored mainly on his claimed honesty and incorruptibility — but which has not been translated to food, jobs, shelter and security for the masses? Is “Clean Government” all that the Aquino administration can offer people wallowing in want since it took control in 2010? And now, near his exit, the President wants his anointed one to just continue dishing out more of the same for six years after 2016? The Filipino people deserve much more than a “tuwid na daan” distraction. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Ombudsman probers want VP impeached


The Office of the Ombudsman. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, JULY 20, 2015 (PHILSTAR) Michael Punongbayan July 15, 2015 -The Office of the Ombudsman is moving toward the possible filing of an impeachment case against Vice President Jejomar Binay based on his supposed involvement in the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati Science High School.

The fact-finding investigators in a complaint filed on June 8, 2015 before the anti-graft agency’s preliminary investigation bureau said the second highest executive official of the land should be unseated.

Field Investigation Office (FIO) officials said they are charging Binay “for purposes of determining sufficiency of evidence that would warrant filing of (an) impeachment complaint” against him.

The efforts confirmed the claims of Binay’s camp that his political enemies from the Liberal Party are cooking up an impeachment case against him through the Office of the Ombudsman.

The FIO complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR yesterday, also appears to recognize that Binay is an impeachable officer, contrary to claims.

“The Makati Science (High School) complaint was filed against the Vice President for purposes of filing an impeachment complaint against the Vice President. Contrary to the claim of Ombudsman (Conchita Carpio) Morales that her office is ‘apolitical,’ her actions indicate the contrary,” said Joey Salgado, media affairs chief of the Office of the Vice President

READ MORE...

“When (Makati City) Mayor (Junjun) Binay announced that the Simeon Marcelo Group is the unseen hand in the malicious persecution against the Binays in the Office of the Ombudsman, they did not even bother disputing the same,” he added, referring to lawyers of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and other Liberal Party members.

“Apparently, the ombudsman and the Liberals are acting in unison in connection with the 2016 elections,” Salgado said.

Salgado added critics have not even presented any concrete evidence against the Vice President in the 23 hearings conducted by the Senate on the allegations.

“After 23 hearings, no concrete evidence has been offered to prove the allegations against the Vice President. But the senators and Roxas allies like Mr. Paredes have accepted the lies as gospel truth, simply because they are anti-Binay from the start. It’s difficult to explain to those who do not want to listen,” Salgado said, referring to musician-activist Jim Paredes. –Jose Rodel Clapano, Mike Frialde


PHILSTAR

Noy working to keep administration coalition intact By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 15, 2015 - 12:00am 1 5 googleplus0 0


Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas said President Aquino has been holding talks with LP leaders and other coalition officers in a bid to keep the alliance intact for the polls. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is trying hard to avert a Liberal Party (LP) coalition split over the selection of the standard bearer for the May 2016 elections, a party stalwart said yesterday.

Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas said Aquino has been holding talks with LP leaders and other coalition officers in a bid to keep the alliance intact for the polls.

“The President is trying his best to keep the coalition intact, that’s the reason why the President is talking to coalition members, and probable candidates, for example (Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas, Sen. Grace Poe and (Sen. Francis) Escudero – there is an effort on the part of the party to keep the coalition intact,” Tupas told reporters.

He said the chances of winning are better if the coalition remains.

But if Sen. Sergio Osmeña III is to be asked, the meetings only serve one purpose: to ensure that Poe would be out of the presidential race. Osmeña, who has worked as campaign manager and political analyst in previous elections, said the plan of the President and Poe was clear to him.

“P-Noy wants Grace out of the presidential picture and to run as vice president of Mar because he feels that the votes of Grace would go to Mar anyway,” he said.

READ MORE...

Poe, he added, wants the endorsement of the President because she knows that if Roxas does not get the nod of the LP as its presidential candidate because of weak performance in the surveys, the President has nowhere else to go but to her.

As of now, Tupas said, only Vice President Jejomar Binay is seen as the opposition presidential candidate and Roxas, the administration. But he is not discounting the possibility of a three-way contest if Poe also decides to seek the presidency.

Poe has been a strong performer in the surveys on voter preference, overtaking Binay as the top candidate in both Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia polls.

In the latest SWS survey, Roxas was third behind Poe and Binay with 21 percent of the votes of respondents. He ranked fourth in the Pulse Asia survey, getting just 10 percent of the votes.

But even given Poe’s rise to the top of the surveys, Osmeña noted that Binay has managed to maintain at least 30 percent of the votes in the same polls.

He cautions though that the surveys do not mean much at this time because anything could still happen a few months from now.

Tupas said political realities, including the choice for presidential candidate, could lead to many LP members leaving the party. He believes though that the party will remain formidable even when this happens and regardless of the candidate Aquino will eventually choose for its standard bearer.


INQUIRER

Guess who’s coming to dinner at the Palace By: Thelma Sioson San Juan @inquirerdotnet Lifestyle Editor 01:00 AM July 15th, 2015

PRESIDENT HOSTING ROXAS, POE, ESCUDERO TOGETHER

Aquino had already met with Poe and Escudero at the Palace in separate instances, and then together, also at the Palace.

Aquino is squeezing the dinner into his tight schedule. The past few weeks, his focus has been the writing of his State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Poe has been topping the polls on potential presidential candidates. Her foremost ally, Escudero, is believed to be eyeing the vice presidency.

Roxas is expected to be named the standard-bearer of the President’s party, the Liberal Party. (Poe ran as independent in the 2013 senatorial elections. Escudero has been an independent since 2009.)

The presidency or nothing

There are quarters who believe that a Roxas-Poe—or Poe-Roxas—tandem is the only team-up that stands a good chance to rival the presidential candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

For Roxas, the Inquirer has learned, it is the presidency or nothing.

But Poe’s solid alliance with Escudero remains evident—a political bonding forged when Poe’s father, the late king of Philippine movies, Fernando Poe Jr., ran for President in 2004. Escudero was strongly behind, if not at the helm, of that candidacy.

So Poe has openly cast her lot with Escudero.

Escudero backed Binay for the vice presidency in 2010. He was also known as the proponent of the “Noy-Bi” tandem—which, expectedly, riled Roxas.

Crisscrossed alliance

Such is the political backdrop of crisscrossed alliances that will be the setting of this week’s dinner.

Aquino, the Palace source said, sees the selection of his successor as a “work in progress.”

In need of Solomonic wisdom, however, is how the Palace source called the task.
While Aquino has given himself a deadline for the announcement of his choice successor, and that is shortly after the 2015 Sona, the Inquirer learned that other “presidentiables” and “vice presidentiables” are asking for until September for Aquino to announce his endorsement.

READ MORE...

The Palace source stressed that Aquino’s choice of successor would depend on which presidential candidate could assure the continuity of the form and substance of governance Aquino has been known for.

Continuity

Continuity is the operative word—of the leader’s moral ascendancy that has helped in the fight against corruption, of foreign investors’ renewed confidence in the government and economy, of the infrastructures that have been started, and more important, of the country’s improvedstanding in the global financial institutions.

Time Magazine, in its June 15 issue, ran a Gallup poll on “Feeling Good about Finding Work,” where it “asked people in over 130 countries their opinions on local job opportunities.

Here’s a sampling of how many said they were optimistic:
“66 percent Philippines, 51 percent US, 34 percent India …”

That a sense of optimism about their country has seeped into the psyche of the country’s youth, if the Gallup poll is to be believed, is good news to everyone, friends and foes alike, even to a President who has learned to steel himself against bad news.


TRIBUNE

Quicho: Senate a safe haven for Aquino allies, gas chamber for political foes Written by Tribune Wires Wednesday, 15 July 2015 00:00


Lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho, vice presidential spokesman for political concerns

While the Senate has become a virtual execution ground for political opponents of the Aquino administration, it has served as a safe refuge for its political allies and even the President himself whenever they find themselves faced with allegations over their questionable acts.

This was how the camp of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay described the Senate, particularly the blue ribbon committee, after panel chair, Sen. TG Guingona cautioned critics of the administration against prejudging Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who is now facing a probe over the anomalous helicopter deal. Guingona has prejudged in his committee hearings, the three opposiiton senators, declaring them guilty despite the lack of evidence.

“Senator Guingona’s committee has once again shown that while it prejudges and destroys the political opposition, it is a safe harbor for administration officials and allies embroiled in reported anomalies,” said lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho, vice presidential spokesman for political concerns.

“It is evident that the blue ribbon committee treats Senate President Drilon, Secretaries Abad, Roxas, Abaya, Alcala, de Lima and now Gazmin with kid gloves while allowing perjured resource persons and highly partisan senators to persecute under the guise of investigating Vice President Binay,” Quicho stressed.

It is not however, the political allies of the administration who are being extended “protection” by the Senate but even President Aquino himself as Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares continues to refuse to submit to the plenary the results of her investigation of the Mamasapano Massacre which she had initially described as something which the President could be held responsible for.

Quicho said while a witness had already come forward and identified Gazmin as one of the personalities involved in the anomalous chopper deal, Guingona downplayed and skirted the issue.

READ MORE...


NEW CHOPPERS: The wife of defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin performs the ceremonial pouring of the champagne. Photo from Armed Forces of the Philippines COURTESY OF RAPPLER.COMPublished 7:00 PM, February 01, 2014 Updated 1:01 AM, August 26, 2014

According to chopper deal whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez, the bid for the P1.2 billion helicopter deal for 21 refurnished UH-1 helicopters was rigged to favor Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI).

Alvarez alleged top DND and military officials pocketed some 12 percent kickbacks from the deal, supposedly and seven percent of which was purported to have been promised as a “commission” of Gazmin.

But in contrast, Quicho said alleged resource persons in the inquisition of the Vice President were immediately placed under the witness protection program even when there was an admission that they were the ones guilty of the acts complained upon.

Those who testified against the Vice President and his family include former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, who himself admitted, accepted bribes during his stint as city vice mayor.

After 23 hearings conducted by the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, Mercado and his co-witness against the Binays, have failed to present any evidence to substantiate their allegations against the vice president and his family.

The kind of justice being employed over at the Senate, Quicho said, “is evidently the same selective justice the Malacañang-backed Ombudsman is also showing in her partial and hostile investigation of the Vice President.”

“How can we expect fairness when their acts reek of vindictiveness and partiality of the highest order? So when we say incompetent and insensitive, is it not downright obvious?” Quicho stressed.

“Now, will Senator Guingona conduct 23 hearings in a span of 11 months to get to the bottom of this anomalous transaction involving Secretary Gazmin?

Will Senator Trillanes cavalierly say that he wants Secretary Gazmin to be in jail?


TRILLANES: I WANT BINAY IN JAIL PHOTO FROM GMA NEWS

How about a freeze order from the AMLC on the bank accounts of Secretary Gazmin and all his associates and friends? Or, will the crusading Ombudsman investigate and hastily preventively suspend Secretary Gazmin?” Binay’s spokesperson asked.

“We wil have to see if they are really treading the straight path or they really treat an ally and an opponent differently,” Quicho said.

DND holds flight demo

In an attempt to clarify controversies hounding its purchase of UH-1D helicopters, the Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday held a flight demonstration of the choppers in Camp Aguinaldo.

Defense Secretary Gazmin, who previous reports showed is close to being pinned down in the P1.2 billion chopper deal, led DND officials in the flight demonstration.

Aside from the seven UH-1D helicopters, the DND also brought two UH-1H units to demonstrate the capability and differences between the two chopper models.
“Our message is to clarify issues coming out in the media that we cannot really explain so we decided to bring the seven UH-1D helicopters for you to see plus two UH-1H so that you will see the difference and capability of each,” said Gazmin.

At the same time, Gazmin belied allegations that 15 percent of the contract price went to “kickbacks.”

The defense chief also turned the tables on Alvarez, a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee and a whistle-blower in the case claiming some DND officials pocketed commissions in the chopper deal.

“That’s all lies, allegations of one. She should substantiate the allegations…you heard it from Rice (Rice Aircraft Services Inc.), she was the one who was asking,” said Gazmin.

Gazmin also maintained that the seven delivered UH-1D helicopters are not defective. “Otherwise, they will not be accepted by the TIAC ( Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee) if defective,” he said.

Alvarez has appeared before the Senate as resource person in the ongoing inquiry of the alleged anomalous deal.

Gazmin earlier denied before Senate probers the alleged irregularities in the AFP’s acquisition of refurbished helicopters.

Alvarez, during previous Senate hearing, pointed to Gazmin as having favored the winning supplier when he signed and approved the amended terms in the contract even after it was awarded.

She said Gazmin cannot deny knowledge of the revised contract given to the joint venture of Rice Aircraft Services Inc (RASI) and Eagle Copters since he signed it.

“It was evident that there was a violation of Republic Act 9184 (Procurement Law)


FATHER FIGURE: President Benigno Aquino III and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. Malacañang photo

It was obvious that Mr (Robert) Rice, (the winning supplier) was favored in the amendments of contracts that were approved by Secretary Voltaire Gazmin,” Alvarez said.

“Our law provides that (amendment) has to be done during the pre-bid conference not after the awarding of contract. In that alone the violation was too evident. Who signed the amendment of the contract, it was recommended of course by the CTRC and approved by SND (Secretary of National Defense), Secretary Voltaire Gazmin,” she added.

CTRC is the Contract Termination and Review Committee of the DND.
Alvarez, in her affidavit submitted to the committee, said there was a seven-percent commission to be given to Gazmin and a five-percent kickback for other officials.

'Yellows' hold parade to stop VP run in 2016


Protesters led by musician-writer Jim Paredes (center with gray hair) and other members of the civil society reach Ayala Avenue on Wednesday in a rally called Stop Binay. They urge Vice President Jejomar Binay not to run for President in 2016. NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.net

Meanwhile, the head of the media affairs of the Office of the Vice President, Joey Salgado, lashed at entertainer Jim Paredes and his followers for trying to mislead the public on the real issue against the Binays, as they try to force the vice president to back out of the 2016 presidential race.

“We respect the right of Mister Paredes and other known supporters of Secretary Roxas to express their views. But sadly, they do not seem to have a tolerance for the fact that Vice President Binay continues to enjoy the trust of the ordinary working people despite the efforts of Roxas supporters like Mr. Paredes and other elitists to bring him down,” Salgado said in a statement.

On June 11, Paredes and about 500 supporters, staged a rally at the Ayala Avenue in Makati shouting “Stop Binay in 2016!”

Salgado insisted Binay has addressed the issues in public forums and through media.

“He (BInay) has submitted an affidavit to the Senate, which the senators chose to ignore. They did not even extend to the Vice President the courtesy of reading his affidavit into the records of the hearing, something which they extended to his detractors,” said Salgado.

Salgado noted that after 23 hearings, no concrete evidence has been offered to prove the allegations against the Vice President.

“ The senators and Roxas allies like Mr. Paredes have accepted the lies as gospel truth, simply because they are anti-Binay from the start. It is really hard to explain before someone who doesn’t want to listen,” he said.

However, the vice president seemed not to be giving any dignity to the anti-Binay rally being staged nor to the selective justice being employed b his opponents as it was business as usual for him yesterday.

Visiting the Province of Pangasinan, Binay averred that reforms must be made in the country’s agricultural sector to improve job generation.

“It is therefore imperative that reforms be made in our agricultural sector to improve job generation,” he added, noting that employment plays a major role in the fight against poverty.

To address these, Binay encouraged the rationalization of the Department of Agriculture (DA) funds from being rice-centric to food security-centric with emphasis on farmers’ welfare.

Binay also emphasized that the DA should ensure that its funds are used efficiently and in a transparent manner, especially in view of persistent reports of fund misuse and irregularities.

The Vice President further said that enhancement of governance and policy environment, along with the continued review and evaluation of existing agricultural policies and programs, must be conducted to ensure that the intended beneficiaries of the programs are truly reached.

“Government banks should be mandated to provide loans to farmers that have a guaranteed supply purchase agreement,” the Vice President said.
With Charlie V. Manalo and Mario Mallari

--------------------------------

RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

Guingona airs concerns about chopper purchase By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Jul. 08, 2015 at 12:01am


Blowing the whistle. Rhodora Alvarez answers questions from Senator JV Ejercito on her revelations about the alleged anomalous helicopter purchases at the Senate on Tuesday. EY ACASIO

SENATOR Teofisto Guingona said Tuesday he had qualms over the “negotiated contracts” on the allegedly anomalous purchase of 21 refurbished UH-1 helicopters for P1.2 billion.

“The first bidding was a failure because (Matthew) Rice failed.

The second bidding was a failure because Rice failed, and the third bidding was also a failure so they had the negotiated contract,” Guingona told reporters in an ambush interview after the continuation of the Blue Ribbon Committee’s hearing on the helicopter deal.

“To whom did they enter a negotiation, with those in which the three biddings failed? So it really puts a

He said only 2 percent out of the 67,000 contracts awarded by the Defense Department in the last two years underwent competitive public bidding, and that 98 percent became negotiated procurements after a failure of bidding.

Rice is the project manager of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. or RASI tht bagged the contract to supply helicopters to the Department of National Defense.

Meanwhile, the department on Tuesday denied reports that a realignment took place in its shore-based missile system project that has a budget of P6.5 billion.

“The SBMS project is merely a proposal at this time, and as such there is no ‘realignment’ but rather a re-prioritization of the said project in favor of the urgent need of our PA (Philippine Army) troops for individual force protection equipment,” department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.

Guingona said he was baffled by the negotiated contract with the same person who failed in the first, second and third biddings. `

He said his panel will summon Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to shed light on the matter as he signed he contract for the purchase of second-hand helicopters.

In Tuesday’s fourth hearing, Guingona described as alarming the statistics on the negotiated procurement although defense officials noted some of the contracts were at the battalion level and considered “small purchases.”

In 2013, he said, the data submitted by the DND showed that out of 35,000 contracts, only 650 underwent competitive bidding, and that meant that some were negotiated.

“In 2014, 32,000 contracts were awarded but only 420 underwent competitive bidding,” Guingona said. With PNA


MANILA TIMES

Where are the guns? July 14, 2015 10:47 pm by FERNAN MARASIGAN REPORTER


THE AIR UP THERE A news photographer on board one of the Huey helicopters used in Tuesday’s demonstration flight takes a snap. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

MUNTINLUPA City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon–at 80–still looked every inch a Marine as he stood ramrod-straight at the Camp Aguinaldo grounds to await the arrival of a flight of UH-1D helicopters that were flying in from Villamor Air Base on Tuesday.

The helicopters were among the 21 combat utility helicopters that were part of the controversial P1.2-billion project, which The Manila Times earlier exposed as allegedly anomalous after a revelation made by Rhodora Alvarez, who claimed she was privy to the deal between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Rice Aircraft Services Inc.

Only seven of the 21 helicopters were delivered after the project was partly terminated a month after The Manila Times published a series of reports on alleged irregularities in the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP).

Biazon, a Marine soldier who once ruled Camp Aguinaldo as chief of staff of the AFP during the first Aquino administration, had spent countless hours flying in Huey helicopters.

When he spoke during a briefing before an actual demonstration flight with the media got underway, he took note of one detail–the combat helicopters had no guns.

Biazon said if the helicopters were indeed “combat mission” capable, the guns should have been mounted.

No one from among the DND and military officials that included Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin replied to the congressman’s query.

But after Biazon left, the officials told the reporters who pressed them for answers that the guns were removed before the helicopters took off from Villamor Air Base “because it was a public test flight.”

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The officials then showed the gun mounts attached to the aircraft.

In his impromptu speech, Biazon said the House of Representatives will include the P1.2-billion helicopter deal in its “sunset review” of the AFP modernization program.

He added that the House Committee on National Defense and Security will look into, among others, the legality and practicality of the acquisition of the helicopters. The hearing is set for July 29.

Gazmin, commanding general of the Presidential Security Group when Biazon was AFP chief, said the DND welcomes the review and investigation even as he pointed out that all the allegations about the helicopters’ acquisition particularly the alleged kickbacks or commission were all lies.

“They are all lies. They are mere allegations of one [person]. She should substantiate her allegations. They are nothing. Did you hear the admission of [Robert] Rice (of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. or RASI) that she was the one asking [for kickbacks]. She is circumventing the issue,” Gazmin told reporters at the sidelines of the flight demonstration.

He was apparently referring to whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez, the principal source of The Manila Times series that uncovered the alleged anomalies behind the acquisition of the helicopters from RASI and Eagle Copters Ltd.

Gazmin, together with DND and Philippine Air Force officials, led the presentation of the seven UH-1D helicopters that was followed by a public test flight. Fourteen reporters, photographers and television cameramen joined the flight from the AFP Grandstand to San Mateo, Rizal, and back.

“We decided to bring the seven helicopters to see them for yourselves and the two UH-1H so you can compare their difference and capability,” he said.


DEFENSE SECRETARY GAZMIN

Gazmin added that he himself rode the controversial choppers several times and he “is still alive.”

He noted that the aircraft were not defective as earlier alleged because if they were, they would not be accepted by the AFP’s Technical Inspection Advisory Committee (TIAC).

An Air Force’s presentation said the TIAC ensured that the items delivered are in accordance with specifications stipulated in procurement documents. The committee accepted the items and forwarded the acceptance report to Procurement Center or Contracting Office.

Col. Dino Diño, TIAC chairman, said the seven helicopters underwent proper procedures pursuant to existing rules.

The seven helicopters were accepted by TIAC from August 20 to December 26, 2014 and were gradually turned over to the Air Force from October 23 to February 2015.

Col. Moises Micor, director for operations of the Air Force’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, said that in comparison, UH-1D is much better than the UH-1H based on specifications upgrades and modifications.

“With the noted differences between the two models, we can conclude that the UH-1D is at par in terms of performance, if not much better than the UH-1H,” he added.

The decision to fly select reporters and photographers aboard the UH-ID helicopters was aimed at disproving allegations that the aircraft are not air worthy and mission capable.

The demonstration flights took off from Camp Aguinaldo at 11:07 a.m. and made a short flight to San Mateo, Rizal. The aircraft and their passengers arrived at the military base at 11:46 a.m. safe and sound.

“[The flight demonstration and briefing] aims to correct allegations coming out in the media [that the UH-IDs] are defective and not flyable. We thought it prudent to bring the helicopters here and let the media know about their capabilities and difference from the UH-IHs,” Gazmin said in Filipino.

The Defense chief denied claims that he and other officials were asking for 15 percent commission for the UH-ID project.

“Those are all lies,” he said.

The acquisition of the 21 UH-IDs has been mired in controversy after claims of bidding irregularities and the aircraft being defective.

It was partly terminated last March 25 after suppliers Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd. failed to deliver the rest of the aircraft.

“In compliance with Section 88, Rule XXII of the IRR of Republic Act 9184 (Philippine Procurement Law), the contract agreement between the DND/AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and the Joint Venture of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd. for the supply and delivery of 21 UH-I helicopters for the PAF with corresponding contract price of P1,263,000,000 shall be partially terminated for exceeding the 10 percent maximum liquidated damages,” the DND order signed by Gazmin said.

There are 20 UH-IH and seven UH-1Ds in the Air Force inventory as of this time.
“Both aircraft have the top speed of 124 KIAS [knot indicated airspeed] but when you are flying UH-IH model, you can feel the aircraft starting to shake or shiver when you are approaching speeds up to 82 to 90 knots. But in the UH-ID, you can feel no vibration and even if you are cruising at speed of 110 KIAS,” said Major Aristides Galang, 210th Tactical Squadron operations officer and the test pilot involved in the acceptance test of the UH-IDs.

“It [UH-ID] also climbs very fast compared to the UH-IH,” the PAF official pointed out.

Galang, who has 1,900 flying hours to his credit, said during acceptance tests of the aircraft, either the UH-ID performs up to standard, as specified in the PAF checklist, or it will not be accepted for service until.

During so-called “maintenance test flights” (which are done during the pre-acceptance phase), all forms of maneuvers are conducted to ensure that the aircraft has no major discrepancy that could cause it to fail or crash while in PAF service.

These include air and ground handling and various emergency procedures, the pilot said.

On claims that major discrepancies were encountered during initial tests of the aircraft, Galang said this is only natural as all aircraft are prone to wear-and-tear while flying.

He added that the same holds true for all aircraft in every Air Force in the world and dealing with such discrepancies is the job of maintenance crew and officers.
PAF spokesman Col. Enrico Canaya earlier said the “D” designation in the UH-1 means that it was manufactured by Dornier, a German aircraft manufacturer that started construction of the UH-1 from 1967 to 1981. Around 350 units were built by the German company.

Canaya said all seven UH-IDs are deployed to Central Luzon and Manila PAF units.

“The PAF, however, opted to deploy these newly turned over units to Central Luzon and Manila areas for endurance flights, training and other missions to make them accessible to technical representatives and take advantage of warranty claims,” he added.

The PAF spokesman clarified that the UH-1Ds and UH-IHs, still in Philippine service, are similar models but made by different manufacturers.

“Their airframes are old but once they are refurbished… they are reliable to perform missions. The PAF has a wealth of experience operating and maintaining UH-1 helicopters since the 1970s,” he said.

Canaya dismissed reports that UH-1D spare parts are no longer available in the market.

“Their parts are not obsolete and are available in the market just like the parts for the existing fleets of UH-1Hs the PAF is currently maintaining. The UH-1H helicopters are still widely use in other countries,” he said.

Canaya added that the PAF does not accept aircraft with technical issues.
“The PAF only receives and operates units that passed the Technical Inspection And Acceptance Committee,” he pointed out.

The PAF spokesman said the newly arrived UH-IDs are superior to the UH-1Hs as they feature composite main rotor blades that perform better and safer than the latter aircraft.

Rico Quicho, spokesman for Vice President Jejomar Binay, said Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona 3rd should not prejudge the helicopter deal.

“Senator Guingona’s committee has once again shown that while it prejudges and destroys the political opposition, it is a safe harbor for administration officials and allies embroiled in reported anomalies,” he added.
With PNA


PHILSTAR

Binay questions Ombudsman jurisdiction By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 16, 2015 - 12:00am 2 453 googleplus0 0


Vice President Jejomar Binay. IISS/CC license

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday questioned the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman in the investigation of allegations of overpricing in the construction of the Makati Science High School during his term as mayor.

Binay filed a counter-affidavit denying the overpricing while questioning the authority of the ombudsman.

He said the ombudsman has no jurisdiction over impeachable officials.

Binay also accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales of prejudging the case by making premature public statements that the evidence against him is strong without first waiting to hear his side.

He said accusations of his alleged involvement in bidding irregularities are coming from an unreliable witness who is quoting a dead person.

“With all due respect, the Office of the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate an impeachable officer unless and until the term of the impeachable officer has expired or the impeachable officer has been removed from office through impeachment,” Binay said in his 20-page counter-affidavit.

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As the duly elected vice president of the country, Binay argued he is an impeachable officer who can only be removed from office through impeachment proceedings.

Citing Article XI Section 2 of the Constitution, Binay said an impeachable officer, during his incumbency, “cannot be proceeded upon by any criminal action which carries with it the penalty of removal from office, or any penalty the service of which would amount to removal from office.”

Binay explained the graft charge against him carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office which means that he cannot be charged with the same.

Despite what he describes as clear provisions of the Constitution, Binay said the Office of the Ombudsman “has still decided to arbitrarily, whimsically and capriciously proceed with the investigation of the instant criminal case.”

“Worse, exhibiting extreme bias against me, the ombudsman herself has already convicted me in the bar of public opinion as she has been quoted by various media outlets as stating that the evidence of guilt in the instant criminal action is strong (even without the benefit of the respondents such as myself submitting any countervailing evidence),” he added.

No valid grounds for impeachment Binay, who signed the counter-affidavit himself, said he is constrained to file his answer over the allegations “in order to put on record the utter lack of merit, both in fact and in law, of the charges leveled against me.”

He said he is answering the charges so that his non-participation in what he called “illegal, arbitrary, whimsical and capricious criminal action be again twisted by the ombudsman and my political opponents as a purported admission or evidence of guilt.”

He emphasized his act of filing the counter-affidavit is not a waiver of his right to question jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman or made a precedent to similarly harass other impeachable officers not favored by the current administration.

Binay added the “unfounded and incompetent” accusations against him are not even valid grounds for impeachment.

He said the offenses stated in the complaint filed by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman cannot serve as grounds for impeachment as they do not relate to acts committed during his term as Vice President.

Binay argued the catch-all phrase of betrayal of public trust intends to cover any violation of the oath of office and any act that may tend to bring the office into disrepute.

“Stated differently, I cannot be impeached, as Vice President, for wrongdoings I allegedly committed before I assumed my present position,” he said, describing the accusations as “entirely hearsay and have no evidentiary value whatsoever.”

Binay said the claims made by former city engineer Nelson Morales that he ordered biddings on the construction of the Makati Science High School rigged were based on an affidavit executed by former general services division head Mario Hechanova.

Hechanova reportedly admitted that he only learned it from Morales.

“This is a brazen lie. I never gave such instructions. Moreover, the allegation of Hechanova is based on hearsay and is, therefore, not admissible as evidence in any civilized society that is governed by the rule of law. It has no probative value whatsoever,” Binay said.

“What makes matters worse is that the foregoing libelous statement of Hechanova is not only hearsay, it is also attributed to a person who has long been deceased. This is the foulest form of libel as there is absolutely no way of determining the veracity of the statement,” he said.

Binay also slammed the FIO complaint for alleging there was conspiracy between him and other respondents to the case without presenting proof of its existence.

He said the only supposed proof of his involvement that is signing documents such as award resolutions, contracts declaring winning bidders, notices of awards, and certifications, is not proof at all.

Binay stressed that he signed such documents “in the discharge of my official duties as then mayor, and therefore cannot indicate, on its own, any involvement in the said conspiracy.”

“My mere signature in the documents, again without admitting its genuineness and due execution, does not constitute proof of my participation in the alleged conspiracy,” Binay said. – Jose Rodel Clapano


PHILSTAR COLUMN

More of the same? Or something better? POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual JR. (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 14, 2015 - 12:00am 15 42 googleplus0 2


By Federico D. Pascual JR.

ADMINISTRATION propagandists are conditioning the public mind to accept three points: (1) President Noynoy Aquino’s performance has been exemplary, (2) his successor should continue his program, and (3) only his anointed presidential candidate can do it.

While his detractors have been presenting facts and figures to demolish the first point of claimed achievements, nobody has questioned the second point of continuity being needed and the third point that only Mr. Aquino’s chosen one can continue his program.

Lulling potential opposition candidates (e.g. senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero) into thinking he is still shopping around (as if DILG Secretary Mar Roxas isn’t “it” yet), President Aquino tells everybody that he is looking for a successor who would continue the program he has started.

But why should the next president merely copy and continue Mr. Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” program that is anchored mainly on his claimed honesty and incorruptibility — but which has not been translated to food, jobs, shelter and security for the masses?

Is “Clean Government” all that the Aquino administration can offer people wallowing in want since it took control in 2010? And now, near his exit, the President wants his anointed one to just continue dishing out more of the same for six years after 2016?

The Filipino people deserve much more than a “tuwid na daan” distraction.

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The poor and the hungry, whose number keeps growing despite direct doles by the tens of billions to make them feel cared for and momentarily contented, cannot survive over the long term on red-hot slogans and cold statistics.

Having failed to do the basic chore of preparing at least a 10-year road map to guide programs and monitor performance, Mr. Aquino and his tight coterie have ended up improvising from one crisis to another.

The people, whom he tried to flatter by calling them his “boss”, are treated to amateurish, uncaring, vengeful administration. But how long can the people remain hypnotized by such catchwords and slogans as “tuwid na daan” and “walang mahirap kung walang korap”?

Whoever aspires to replace President Aquino, whichever party or coalition plots to supplant the ruling Liberal Party will have to IMPROVE on – not to CONTINUE – his program of government and management style.

Successor to continue mismanagement record? ONE simply has to look around, listen to plain folk and monitor the social and mainstream media to know that all is not well, that it will be disastrous for the nation if the upcoming leadership will simply continue the path that Mr. Aquino has blazed while on-the-job training.

For a preview of the State of the Nation, one can simply cull from the pained complaints of Mr. Aquino’s “bosses.”

At random, we picked the recitation of a newspaper reader who had signed in as Jay Z. Bacarro. He posted a litany (which we have edited to fit space) in the paper’s electronic feedback section:

“Paano makapili ang Presidente kung sino ang ipapatakbo niya sa pagka presidente kung di pa niya alam kung paano niya sasagutin ang mga kapalpakan at katiwalian na nangyayari sa loob ng kanyang administrasyon, kagaya ng:

“•Paglustay at pagnakaw ng DAP funds (Malacañang pork barrel) na ideneklarang unconstitutional ng Supreme Court na umabot ng hindi kumulang ng P500 bilyon.

•Ang paglustay at pagnakaw ng Malampaya funds na umabot ng mahigit P150 bilyon.

•Ang pagkakaroon ng ghost beneficiaries ng Conditional Cash Transfer funds na nagkakahalaga ng mahigit P20 bilyon.

•Ang malawakang paglustay ng PDAF (legislative pork barrel), kung saan ang mga kaalyado nila ay pinagtatakpan sa imbestigasyon.

•Ang katiwalian sa maintenance contract sa MRT-3 kung saan ibinigay nila ang kontrata sa PH Trams na pag-aari ng kaalyado sa Liberal Party kung saan ay palpak ang trabaho na nagresulta sa pagbaba ng numero ng bagon na tumatakbo simula ng 73 hanggang 13 na lang ngayon. Di ba halos araw araw na ang aberya ng MRT-3?

•Ang katiwalian sa pagbili ng 21 sirang helicopters ng Department of National Defense na walang makina.

•Ang palpak na pagbili ng fighter jets ng DND na pinahihinto ng Commission on Audit (P25 bilyon).

•Ang katiwalian sa pagbili ng palpak na baril ng Philippine National Police.

•Ang payola para maipasa ang Bangsamoro Basic Law na malinaw na unconstitutional, di pinagisipang mabuti at di dinaan muna sa prior consultation sa lahat na stakeholders.

•Ang kapalpakan ng DOTC at Land Transportation Office sa pag-iisyu ng driver’s license at plate number na hanggang ngayon ay wala pang solusyon.

•Ang pagtatago ng pondo na donasyon ng ibat-ibang bansa para sa rehabilitasyon ng mga biktima ng Bagyong Yolanda (noong Nobiyembre 2013 pa!). Bakit ayaw pang gamitin ang pondo, nasaan na ito, samantalang ang mga biktima ay di pa rin nakakatanggap ng sapat na tulong?

•Ang kapalpakan ng gobyerno sa pagrehabilita ng mga biktima ng Zamboanga Siege.

•Ang kapalpakan sa pagresolba sa walang kasing tinding traffic sa Metro Manila dahil sa corruption at mismanagement sa MRT at LRT.

•Ang katiwalian sa importasyon ng bigas, bawang at sibuyas; at sa paghawak ng krisis sa electrisidad.

•Ang kapalpakan sa pag-aayos ng airport terminals kung saan pag umuulan ay tumutulo ang kisami kahit ginastusan na ng bilyon-bilyon.

•At higit sa lahat ang kapalpakan sa paghawak ng Mamasapano Massacre, kung saan isinakripisyo ng gobyerno ang SAF-44 para lang pagbigyan ang terroristang MILF. Saan na ang mga benepisyong ipinangako sa mga kamag-anak ng SAF-44, samantalang ang bilis ng pagbigay ng benepisyo sa mga MILF rebels kuno na nag-surrender?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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