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AQUINO'S STAND-DOWN ORDER, COVER UP IN MAMASAPANO 'UNSPOKEN BUT APPARENT' - HOUSE MINORITY BLOC REPORT


FEBRUARY 2 -ROMUALDEZ SAYS PRESIDENT RESORTED TO 'PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY' -
 An executive report by the Independent Minority Bloc (IMB) of the House of Representatives claimed that by his actuations, President Aquino issued a stand-down order in the Mamasasapano encounter in the hours leading to the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers on January 25, 2015. Senatorial bet and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, head of the IMB, said that while it was “unspoken,” it was clear from the actuations of the President, his Cabinet members (including Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas), police and military officials who were with him in Zamboanga City “that there was a stand down order at the height of the fire fight and eventually an elaborate effort to cover up the monumental offenses committed.” In the latest Senate probe on Mamasapano, Cabinet officials and police and military officers claimed that President Aquino did not issue a stand-down order which would have stopped the military from sending reinforcements to the hapless SAF troopers who were surrounded by Moro rebels and bandits on a cornfield in Mamasapano after retreating from their mission to arrest a terrorist. “Maybe you can visit the phrase or the words ‘plausible deniability’ which, you know, if you get pinned down in a corner and you can always say you never gave an order. That’s what is commonly used in these kinds of dicey situations,” said Romualdez. Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz said that as early as 7 a.m., the President and his men already knew there was a firefight while on their way to a meeting in Zamboanga City and that there were efforts to tap the ceasefire mechanism. READ MORE...

ALSO: US envoy blasts Poe handling of SAF probe
[The revelations made as a result of the arguments between the former SAF commander Getulio Napeñas and top Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) generals elicited a warning from Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan that sensitive information about military operations was being exposed in the hearing. Goldberg said “sensitive matters should be discussed in closed session. “We have a process of doing that in the US,” Gorldberg said in a forum yesterday.]


FEBRUARY 4 -SENSITIVE MATTERS EXPOSED — GOLDBERG
 Saying that it can’t happen in the United States, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg criticized the manner by which the Senate probe, under Sen. Grace Poe’s committee on public order, was conducted that resulted in “sensitive matters” which exposed the government to “people who should like to know that information.” In the reopening of the Senate probe on the Mamasapano debacle, information volunteered included the apparent lack of coordination between the police and the military and the deep involvement of not only US military forces but also “civilian types” whom the sacked head of the Special Action Force (SAF) surmised were members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The revelations made as a result of the arguments between the former SAF commander Getulio Napeñas and top Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) generals elicited a warning from Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan that sensitive information about military operations was being exposed in the hearing. Goldberg said “sensitive matters should be discussed in closed session. “We have a process of doing that in the US,” Gorldberg said in a forum yesterday. “We discuss these in secure areas of the US,” he added. “Mamasapano was a tragedy, the objective of removing an international terrorist was accomplished and then the tragedy occurred when brave men were killed while they were withdrawing,” Goldberg said. Operation Plan Exodus launched in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January 25 last year succeeded in killing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan but resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos. READ MORE...

ALSO: Edsa spirit has ‘evaporated’ like bubbles — Enrile


FEBRUARY 6- JPE: As the country marks the 30th Edsa People Power Revolt anniversary this month, one of the key players in the ouster of then strongman Ferdinand Marcos yesterday noted that its spirit has evaporated like bubbles.“It became a bubble. Evaporated. And it created a problem because the incoming government (of the late President Corazon Aquino) put all kinds of structures, political and economic and so forth that is now creating this havoc into the country,” Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile told a Senate forum.The veteran lawmaker also criticized the supposed economic gains of the current administration which will be the highlight of the People Power Revolt commemoration. Enrile said the supposed economic growth of the six-year Aquino administration is “relative.” “Is it sustainable?” he asked. “Do you feel the 6.2 growth…Why are you asking for salary increase?…Why are you asking more money from the Filipino people if we are affluent? Why do we have conditional cash transfer if we are rich? Why are we importing rice. Why is there a traffic?” Enrile added. “They have said ‘walang corrupt, walang mahirap’ (no corruption, no poverty) but poverty has not been reduced since the start of the Aquino administration, that means there is still a lot of corruption going. Like what I have said, you have led incompetents, then the one who issued the command is also incompetent,” he stressed. Enrile clarified that he is not claiming credit for People Power, even as he said since he led a mutiny against Marcos, all that he experienced was persecution. “We were persecuted all the time, every time since.”  READ MORE...


ALSO: By Dody Lacuna - JUAN Ponce Enrile’s illnesses suddenly dissipated; Body and soul were together at SAF 44 new probe


FEBRUARY 6 -By Dody Lacuna JUAN Ponce Enrile’s illnesses suddenly dissipated as his new-found vitality seemed to feed on President Aquino’s widely-held bungling of the SAF operation that led to the Mamasapano massacre. His medical records showed at least ten major ailments when hospital arrest for him was granted by the courts. Body and soul were together at the resumption of the Senate hearing on the Fallen 44 as he accused the President of practically condoning the slaughter by doing nothing to stop it. He was relentless even as former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and PNP Chief Ray Marquez, along with top military officials, bore the onslaught of an embittered and beleaguered suspect in a huge plunder case that shook the nation. Enrile obviously has found no peace within himself but does not know it is useless to seek it elsewhere. Nobody really thinks it would have subdued him if similar cases of plunder had been filed against some of the President’s political allies whose names also surfaced repeatedly in the pork barrel investigation. Ravi Zacharias, internationally-renowned inspirational speaker, was in town for a series of seminars at Christian ministries and business associations on Biblical leadership and discipleship. He relates that while giving a lecture on the Bible in atheist Moscow, he was stopped in the middle of his talk by a man who rose to berate him because Zacharias was preaching about God. The man said he does not believe in God and denies his existence. Zacharias’ response stumped the stranger. He asked him, “Do you know God?” And when the man said that he didn’t, Zacharias countered , “How can you say that you don’t believe in him when you don’t know who he is, in the first place?” The man suddenly felt silent as Zacharias, a leading Christian apologist, went on to explain God’s existence and his presence in their lives. READ MORE...RELATED, No new evidence but Enrile satisfied with reopened Mamasapano probe...

ALSO: Congress closes, passing ‘nothing’


FEBRUARY 5 -Photo credit: Wikipedia.org
LAWMAKERS adjourned Wednesday night without passing the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law and were heckled by angry senior citizens for doing nothing to reverse President Benigno Aquino III’s veto of a bill that would have raised Social Security System pensions by P2,000 a month. At 7:40 p.m., presiding officer and Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla closed the session after a two-hour lull in the session hall, without lawmakers failing to tackle any measure listed on the day’s order of business—including the pension hike bill. The author of the bill, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares stood to speak, but his voice was cut off as the technician turned off his microphone. Before he was cut off, he managed to say: “This Congress should listen to the historic override of the veto. The people need Congress to convene; there is quorum, we counted 213 congressmen on the floor.”  Senior citizens in the gallery shouted at the lawmakers for failing to act on the veto. “Why can’t you give us the P2,000? We need this! You don’t care because all of you are rich!” one elderly man said. Colmenares expected that the House would tackle his resolution overriding the President’s veto after gathering 50 signatories. But House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the House moved to abruptly adjourn the session to preempt a “circus” as a result of Colmenares’ resolution. Gonzales said there is no way that Congress could override the veto because the Colmenares resolution lacked support from congressmen. READ MORE...


ALSO: Noy to attend LP campaign kickoff
[{Aquino spokesman}, Quezon assured the public that government resources would not be used for partisan or political purposes as the President campaigns for administration candidates. Asked to comment on the use of government money during the campaign, Quezon said, “I think we should be aware of one thing – that the presidency is not like a vest or hat that you can remove and wear again. The President is the president wherever he goes and whatever he does.”]


FEBRUARY 7 -Quezon assured the public that government resources would not be used for partisan or political purposes as the President campaigns for administration candidates. Philstar.com/File
President Aquino will join the Liberal Party’s campaign kickoff in Capiz and Iloilo on Tuesday, Malacañang announced yesterday as it advised voters to scrutinize the candidates in the May general elections. The three-month campaign period officially starts on Feb. 9.
“Maybe what we can say is that everyone should follow the debates and programs on radio and television as well as read newspapers to find out the platform and character of the candidates,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said over dzRB. Quezon said the campaign season is important for the voters because they would be the ones to choose come elections. He said this would be the time to evaluate the issues thrown at the candidates. Quezon assured the public that government resources would not be used for partisan or political purposes as the President campaigns for administration candidates. Asked to comment on the use of government money during the campaign, Quezon said, “I think we should be aware of one thing – that the presidency is not like a vest or hat that you can remove and wear again. The President is the president wherever he goes and whatever he does.” Aquino is cautious on spending government money and would not waste resources on things that are not of public interest, Quezon said. “In other words, you can be sure that public funds are not going to be used for partisan or political purposes of the administration party,” he said. – With Eva Visperas THE FULL REPORT. RELATED, 5th ANNIVERSARY II Department of Social Welfare and Development and DSWD employees get bonus from Aquino for job well done ...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Aquino’s stand-down order, cover-up in Mamasapano ‘unspoken but apparent’ – House minority


ROMUALDEZ SAYS PRESIDENT RESORTED TO 'PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY'

MANILA, FEBRUARY 8, 2016 (INQUIRER) By: Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet  February 2nd, 2016 - An executive report by the Independent Minority Bloc (IMB) of the House of Representatives claimed that by his actuations, President Aquino issued a stand-down order in the Mamasasapano encounter in the hours leading to the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers on January 25, 2015.

Senatorial bet and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, head of the IMB, said that while it was “unspoken,” it was clear from the actuations of the President, his Cabinet members (including Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas), police and military officials who were with him in Zamboanga City “that there was a stand down order at the height of the fire fight and eventually an elaborate effort to cover up the monumental offenses committed.”

In the latest Senate probe on Mamasapano, Cabinet officials and police and military officers claimed that President Aquino did not issue a stand-down order which would have stopped the military from sending reinforcements to the hapless SAF troopers who were surrounded by Moro rebels and bandits on a cornfield in Mamasapano after retreating from their mission to arrest a terrorist.

“Maybe you can visit the phrase or the words ‘plausible deniability’ which, you know, if you get pinned down in a corner and you can always say you never gave an order. That’s what is commonly used in these kinds of dicey situations,” said Romualdez.

Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz said that as early as 7 a.m., the President and his men already knew there was a firefight while on their way to a meeting in Zamboanga City and that there were efforts to tap the ceasefire mechanism.



READ MORE...

“While they were in Zamboanga, there was not even an effort on the part of anybody to ask for a fly-over for the members of the 55th SAF company who were even texting their relatives. Nobody came and then they were telling us they were just waiting for orders. There was even a helicopter on standby. If you take all of these things together, there was really a stand-down order as far as we are concerned,” said Dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz said that the President was “ultimately responsible” for the deaths of the SAF 44 because he could have made an urgent appeal to Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Murad Ibrahim to stop the slaughter of the troopers.

Dela Cruz said that the MILF also had blood on its hands in the Mamasapano massacre because it coddled high value targets despite sitting on the negotiating table with government peace negotiators.

What made matters worse, according to the Dela Cruz, was the effort of Roxas, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, and government peace panel negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer to cover up the botched mission to shield President Aquino, his men and the MILF from any culpability. SFM

On January 25, 2015, 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in the hunt for Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, aka “Marwan,” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. Their mission may have succeeded, but one year later families of the slain SAF44 and affected civilians today continue to seek justice from a government which allegedly broke chain of command and poorly handled the mission. Visit the INQUIRER tribute site at inquirer.net/mamasapano.


TRIBUNE

US envoy blasts Poe handling of SAF probe Written by Mario J. Mallari Thursday, 04 February 2016 00:00


SENSITIVE MATTERS EXPOSED — GOLDBERG

Saying that it can’t happen in the United States, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg criticized the manner by which the Senate probe, under Sen. Grace Poe’s committee on public order, was conducted that resulted in “sensitive matters” which exposed the government to “people who should like to know that information.”

In the reopening of the Senate probe on the Mamasapano debacle, information volunteered included the apparent lack of coordination between the police and the military and the deep involvement of not only US military forces but also “civilian types” whom the sacked head of the Special Action Force (SAF) surmised were members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).



The revelations made as a result of the arguments between the former SAF commander Getulio Napeñas and top Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) generals elicited a warning from Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan that sensitive information about military operations was being exposed in the hearing.

Goldberg said “sensitive matters should be discussed in closed session.

“We have a process of doing that in the US,” Gorldberg said in a forum yesterday.

“We discuss these in secure areas of the US,” he added.

“Mamasapano was a tragedy, the objective of removing an international terrorist was accomplished and then the tragedy occurred when brave men were killed while they were withdrawing,” Goldberg said.

Operation Plan Exodus launched in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January 25 last year succeeded in killing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan but resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos.

READ MORE...

The incident had a direct bearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that sought to create a Bangsamoro substate which was contained in a peace agreement under the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
Goldberg refused to comment on the failure of the bill to pass saying that “the BBL is a domestic issue and not one for me to comment on.”

He, nonetheless, said it is important to continue pushing the peace process and even praised the MILF for its pledge to pursue the peace process.

Blame game continues



The fingerpointing which started in the Mamasapano debacle had also spread to the demise of the BBL as the chief government negotiator and Senate President Franklin Drilon has pinpointed Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, and who is in charge of the bill’s deliberation, as culprits for the failure of the bill to pass in the Senate although he earlier conceded that the bill should have emanated from the House, which failed to pass a similar proposal.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer also blamed “sheer indifference and chronic absenteeism of majority of the legislators” for the death of the BBL.


MIRIAM CORONEL FERRER -AQUINO'S NEGOTIATOR IN BBL

Coronel said the indifference of legislators manifested in the lack of quorum almost on a daily basis in the House of Representatives, and the prolonged and repetitive interpellation of oppositors ate up the remaining sessions.

“In the Senate, the intermittent absence of the bill sponsor (Marcos) and the remaining interpellator (Enrile) stalled the deliberation. Moreover, a belated change in procedure was entertained. Only last December 2015, the Senate practically conceded that the Bangsamoro bill is of local application and therefore the upper chamber should have just waited for the House version to be remanded to it,” she said.

Coronel said in all, 40 public hearings and 14 plenary deliberations conducted by the House ad hoc committee chaired by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and 15 public hearings and 14 sessions of plenary interpellations led by local governments committee chairman Marcos “amounted to nothing, along with the millions of pesos of taxpayers’ money used up to finance these drawn-out proceedings.”

“The reality is that Senator Enrile had a thick file of questions to ask Senator Marcos, the (elections) campaign caught up with him, Senator Marcos became busy and could not attend all the sessions and Senator Enrile – because he was not there during the committee hearings – had so many questions,” Drilon said in a television interview.



He also blamed the focus of legislators on the elections in May which he said changed the political environment.

“And then the political environment, given that we are nearing elections, did not add to an environment conducive for the passage of the law. But the fact that the Bangsamoro Basic Law was not passed does not mean the end for the peace process. I would urge whoever is elected President – and I think it makes a lot of sense for him or her – to pursue this peace process and bring it to its conclusion,” he said.

He said that the bill can be refiled in the next Congress which will have an easier task on deliberations since “all the experts opinion, all the testimonies of the resource persons, need not be taken again, it can incorporated in the present law.”

Drilon said appropriations for the Bangsamoro autonomous region under the 2016 budget will revert to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which it sought to replace.

“The ARMM budget is there, and the contingency was that if we pass the BBL, the budget of the ARMM will be moved to the new structure. In fact it is not just the budget. Do not forget, there is an election in May, and the local officials will be elected on the basis of the old law, so you would still have the governor for the ARMM, etc. Life will continue, and the peace process will continue,” Drilon said.

Aquino, whose six-year term ends in June, had lobbied hard for the passage of the bill, which would have granted the nation’s Muslim minority an autonomous homeland.

However he was unable to muster enough support in the lower house of Congress to even secure a vote by yesterday, the final day of Congress before it adjourns ahead of national elections in May.

Failure to pass the bill means it can not be passed under Aquino, who is limited by the Constitution to a single term, with no certainty over whether his successor will even pursue a peace deal.

Asked if the failure to pass the bill could spark violence, chief government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told Agence France Presse: “That’s the danger, that’s why we are taking steps, calling for sobriety.”

The nation’s largest Muslim rebel group, the 10,000-strong MILF, signed a peace accord with Aquino’s government in 2014 to end its struggle for independence, which began in the 1970s.

Under the accord, the rebels would have only given up their arms after the law was passed creating the autonomous homeland and a regional government was elected. The vote was meant to take place alongside the May general election.

After the collapse in 2008 of the last attempt to seal a peace deal with the MILF, hardline rebels raided Christian farming villages, triggering fighting that left more than 400 people dead and 600,000 displaced.

Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said Wednesday the rebel leadership was working hard to avoid a repeat, and vowed to continue working for peace with Aquino’s successor.


MILF CHIEF NEGOTIATOR IN BBL

He told ABS-CBN television there could be a feeling of “repression” within the MILF ranks, but the leadership was countering with “massive engagement.”

“We just explain to them that here lies the problem in the peace process. We will never cease engaging in the peace process,” he told ABS-CBN television.

Most political analysts say Aquino lost lawmakers’ support for the autonomy bill after a police raid in MILF territory last year killed a Malaysian bomb maker on the United States’ list of most-wanted “terrorists”.

However the raid led to a day of intense fighting with the MILF and other rebels that left 44 police commandos dead.

MILF trains eye on Congress

The MILF is blaming Congress but absolved Aquino for the “death” of its proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The MILF particularly questioned the leadership in the House of Representatives for the non-passage of the BBL, agreed upon by the government and MILF peace panels.

“Why did the leadership in the House allow the enemies of the BBL to filibuster its passage?” asked the MILF.
The BBL was considered “dead” as the current Congress failed to pass the bill into law.

“The Bangsamoro Basic Law has fallen on the wayside. Congress has snuffed its life, citing various, if not shallow, reasons. Lack of time is merely an alibi,” the MILF stated in an editorial.

On the other hand, the MILF remains trusting Aquino.

“If the BBL did not pass Congress, we don’t see any role of President Benigno Aquino in it,” the MILF said.

“It is not to his interest that the legacy of peace through the BBL will not be realized. In fact, he pushed for it vigorously through to the end,” it added.

The MILF, however, noted that BBL was not the first agreement between Moro groups and the government that was not implemented. It cited the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement –both between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) in 2008 between the MILF and the Arroyo government.

“Is this coincidental or part of the pattern, say, a conspiracy? We will never know the true answer but just the same, the BBL was not enacted into law,” the MILF said.

The MILF acknowledged that the January 25, 2015 launching of Operation Plan (Oplan) “Exodus” by the police’s elite Special Action Force (SAF) contributed to the “hatred, biases and prejudices” against the Moros that somewhat affected the fate of BBL.

“Nobody wanted the incident to happen, especially the MILF, but it happened. This is the reason the MILF, without distinction, expressed deep sympathy and condolence to all those who have fallen in Mamasapano,” the MILF said.


TRIBUNE

Edsa spirit has ‘evaporated’ like bubbles — Enrile
Written by Angie M. Rosales Saturday, 06 February 2016 00:00



As the country marks the 30th Edsa People Power Revolt anniversary this month, one of the key players in the ouster of then strongman Ferdinand Marcos yesterday noted that its spirit has evaporated like bubbles.

“It became a bubble. Evaporated. And it created a problem because the incoming government (of the late President Corazon Aquino) put all kinds of structures, political and economic and so forth that is now creating this havoc into the country,” Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile told a Senate forum.

The veteran lawmaker also criticized the supposed economic gains of the current administration which will be the highlight of the People Power Revolt commemoration.

Enrile said the supposed economic growth of the six-year Aquino administration is “relative.”

“Is it sustainable?” he asked.

“Do you feel the 6.2 growth…Why are you asking for salary increase?…Why are you asking more money from the Filipino people if we are affluent? Why do we have conditional cash transfer if we are rich? Why are we importing rice. Why is there a traffic?” Enrile added.

“They have said ‘walang corrupt, walang mahirap’ (no corruption, no poverty) but poverty has not been reduced since the start of the Aquino administration, that means there is still a lot of corruption going. Like what I have said, you have led incompetents, then the one who issued the command is also incompetent,” he stressed.

Enrile clarified that he is not claiming credit for People Power, even as he said since he led a mutiny against Marcos, all that he experienced was persecution.

“We were persecuted all the time, every time since.”

READ MORE...

But it’s okay. I was not doing that for anybody, I was doing it for the country.”

He also noted that the celebration of the People Power anniversary has been distorted since it should be celebrated on February 22, not February 25.

“Our Edsa is February 22nd. The cry of the Katipunan is what’s being celebrated, not the wrap-up of the event when it was all over. We laid our lives on the line on February 22. It was all said and done on the 25th. We were already asleep by the time,” Enrile said.

On the evening of February 22, Enrile and then Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, who became President in 1992, held a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo, where they announced that they were withdrawing support for Marcos that triggered the start of the revolt.

Enrile, meanwhile, denied being afflicted by a rare case of Lazarus syndrome.

The minority leader, who is celebrating his 92nd birthday on Feb. 14, called ridiculous the claims of his deteriorating health.

“That is silly. That is a left-handed report. I don’t have that Lazarus syndrome. I don’t like to compete with Jesus,” he said.

“My balance is bad. I have people beside me to hold to. The only regeneration I have is eating pako salad and ashitaba,” Enrile added.

“I am not celebrating my birthday, I’m counting it backwards. I thank God every morning and before I go to bed at night, I thank him. I wish when you get this age you will do the same,” the senator said.


MALAYA COLUMN OF THE DAY

JUAN Ponce Enrile’s illnesses suddenly dissipated, Body and soul were together at SAF 44 new probe By DODY LACUNA February 05, 2016


By Dody Lacuna

JUAN Ponce Enrile’s illnesses suddenly dissipated as his new-found vitality seemed to feed on President Aquino’s widely-held bungling of the SAF operation that led to the Mamasapano massacre.

His medical records showed at least ten major ailments when hospital arrest for him was granted by the courts.

Body and soul were together at the resumption of the Senate hearing on the Fallen 44 as he accused the President of practically condoning the slaughter by doing nothing to stop it.

He was relentless even as former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and PNP Chief Ray Marquez, along with top military officials, bore the onslaught of an embittered and beleaguered suspect in a huge plunder case that shook the nation.

Enrile obviously has found no peace within himself but does not know it is useless to seek it elsewhere. Nobody really thinks it would have subdued him if similar cases of plunder had been filed against some of the President’s political allies whose names also surfaced repeatedly in the pork barrel investigation.

Ravi Zacharias, internationally-renowned inspirational speaker, was in town for a series of seminars at Christian ministries and business associations on Biblical leadership and discipleship. He relates that while giving a lecture on the Bible in atheist Moscow, he was stopped in the middle of his talk by a man who rose to berate him because Zacharias was preaching about God.

The man said he does not believe in God and denies his existence. Zacharias’ response stumped the stranger. He asked him, “Do you know God?” And when the man said that he didn’t, Zacharias countered , “How can you say that you don’t believe in him when you don’t know who he is, in the first place?” The man suddenly felt silent as Zacharias, a leading Christian apologist, went on to explain God’s existence and his presence in their lives.

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In the sunset of his life Enrile still fails to observe a mighty Hand that has brought life’s tragedies as well as its blessings.

Was not God around when the Supreme Court then ruled that there was no such thing as the non-bailable rebellion complexed with murder filed by then DOJ Secretary Franklin Drilon?

He was promptly released from police detention at the QC central police headquarters. Was not God around when more than a million of his countrymen put up their own bodies as a protective shield against the military and its tanks that had been poised to attack Camp Crame?

Was not God around when he was appointed as defense minister by then President Cory Aquino against the wishes of hundreds of her followers and advisers? Was not God around to tell him he had a greater plan instead of him leading his RAM forces to take up arms against the Cory government and causing more than three hundred fatalities, mostly civilians.

Zacharias also related how American businessman Greg Simons had accidentally saved his children and their families from certain death. Simmons had put up a resort at his hometown in Florida and took his family there for a grand holiday.

He was also a generous church benefactor and an evangelical preacher. As they were making their way on a hilly terrain towards a huge falls, Simmons suddenly stopped the group and said he was going ahead to make sure that the vicinity of the falls was solid and strong. As he approached the falls, the ground suddenly gave way and Simmons fell a quarter of a mile to his death.

His twelve-year-old grandson, Harry, was particularly devastated even if was sure that only God could have taken him to show them all that he was around, and conveyed through their grandfather his love and protection.

Zacharias also talked of his five-year-old granddaughter who suffered third-degree burns on her face and upper body during a cook-out with his son, Nathan. The cooking pot suddenly overturned catching his playful daughter with boiling oil that splattered over her. God was around that day.

Zacharias said none of the scorching oil touched any of her eyes and after six months her face seemed flawless than before. Category: Column Of The Day
-----------------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

No new evidence but Enrile satisfied with reopened Mamasapano probe By: Julliane Love De Jesus @JLDejesusINQ INQUIRER.net 06:38 PM January 27th, 2016


Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is satisfied on Wednesday with the outcome of the Senate probe on the Mamasapano incident. RAFFY LERMA

There was no new evidence unveiled in the reopening of the Senate probe on the tragic Mamasapano clash, but Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is satisfied with the outcome of the hearing held on Monday.

For Enrile, the main takeaway in the seven-hour hearing is that President Aquino deliberately compartmentalized the covert mission “Oplan Exodus” to himself and his pal, dismissed Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, who was then suspended from his post due to corruption allegations.

“That’s enough. I have already established the role of the President (in the operation),” he told reporters in an ambush interview.

During the hearing, Enrile said the President “intentionally, deliberately, and actually confined and arrogated unto himself and Purisima full knowledge, command and control, and strategic decisions over Oplan Exodus.”

“There will be no changes in the findings. I just focused on the role, responsibility and accountability of the President in the debacle,” he added.

Last year, the Senate, in its committee report on the clash, found Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the Mamasapano fiasco.

In the past hearings, the 91-year-old Senator said his colleagues in the Senate failed to establish the involvement of Aquino in the high-risk operation that led to the death of more than 60 Filipinos.

“‘Yan ang hindi nila tinutukan eh. There were no questions before about the President’s role,” he said.

He said the “new evidence” that were revealed in the reopened inquiry were the text messages between the key officials and their meeting at Bahay Pangarap on January 9 last year among Aquino, Purisima and former Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas.

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The senator hinted that Aquino contributed to the death of the SAF troopers when he did object with the proposal of Napeñas to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines “Time on Target.”

Asked what would his next move after the hearing, Enrile said: “Bahala na ang husgado d’yan. Let the law enforcement people do their job in the future.” JE

On January 25, 2015, 44 members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in the hunt for Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir, aka “Marwan,” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province.

Their mission may have succeeded, but one year later families of the slain SAF44 and affected civilians today continue to seek justice from a government which allegedly broke chain of command and poorly handled the mission. Visit the INQUIRER tribute site at inquirer.net/mamasapano.


MANILA STANDARD

Congress closes, passing ‘nothing’ posted February 05, 2016 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz and Macon Ramos- Araneta


Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

LAWMAKERS adjourned Wednesday night without passing the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law and were heckled by angry senior citizens for doing nothing to reverse President Benigno Aquino III’s veto of a bill that would have raised Social Security System pensions by P2,000 a month.

At 7:40 p.m., presiding officer and Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla closed the session after a two-hour lull in the session hall, without lawmakers failing to tackle any measure listed on the day’s order of business—including the pension hike bill.

The author of the bill, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares stood to speak, but his voice was cut off as the technician turned off his microphone.

Before he was cut off, he managed to say: “This Congress should listen to the historic override of the veto. The people need Congress to convene; there is quorum, we counted 213 congressmen on the floor.”

Senior citizens in the gallery shouted at the lawmakers for failing to act on the veto.

“Why can’t you give us the P2,000? We need this! You don’t care because all of you are rich!” one elderly man said.

Colmenares expected that the House would tackle his resolution overriding the President’s veto after gathering 50 signatories.

But House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the House moved to abruptly adjourn the session to preempt a “circus” as a result of Colmenares’ resolution.

Gonzales said there is no way that Congress could override the veto because the Colmenares resolution lacked support from congressmen.

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To override a presidential veto, a two-third vote is needed from senators and congressmen. In the House, that means 194 of the 287 members.

In the Senate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned the administration for ignoring the pleas of senior citizens after the House squelched efforts to override the President’s veto.

Representatives of senior citizens groups trooped Wednesday to the administration-dominated House to press lawmakers for the override but the chamber adjourned abruptly without giving proponents of the override a chance to speak.

“That added insult to injury. I respect the prerogative of the House leadership but I think it would have been a lot better if the proponents of the override were at least given a chance to speak out,” said Marcos.

“It’s clear that the fate of the SSS pension hike bill was decided in accordance with the administration’s position on this issue,” he added.

Malacañang had warned that if the P2,000 pension hike is implemented the SSS would be bankrupt by year 2027 and insisted that the veto of the proposal is necessary to prevent the collapse of the agency.

Marcos backed moves in the Senate to override the veto on the SSS pension hike bill. However, the move to override must come from the House of Representatives where the bill originated.

The House also failed to start the period of amendments to the BBL, which was supposed to be approved on second reading during the last session day.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had earlier given up hope on passing the BBL under the 16th Congress.

Congress will adjourn on May 23 after the May 10 elections to sit as the National Board of Canvassers for the canvassing of votes of the candidates for president and vice president. It will then proclaim the winners.

Other measure that failed to pass during the 16th Congress were the freedom of information bill, anti-political dynasty bills, and a bill to enable Congress to change economic provisions of the Constitution.

The FOI bill, which aims to achieve greater transparency in government, was a campaign promise of President Aquino, but the measure did not get his support after he took office.

Bills to ban political dynasties ran up against opposition from lawmakers themselves, whose relatives would be barred from holding office.

The anti-political dynasty measures seek to limit to two the family members that can be elected to positions at the national and local levels at the same time.

Belmonte’s resolution to amend the Constitution by legislation also did not gain support.

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, meanwhile, said his colleagues passed mostly local bills with no national impact, and were done “in aid of election politics.”

“We have not heard any substantial legislation that protects the nation...the people,” Enrile said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum.

He also criticized his colleagues for being late. When the chamber adjourned Wednesday night, there were only seven senators, he said.

“We’re supposed to hold sessions at 3:00 o’clock. Why do we get there at 3:30? And then after the roll call, no more senators,” Enrile said.

Aside from Enrile, only six other senators stayed in the Session Hall until adjournment: Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Pia Cayetano, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Aquilino Pimentel III, JV Ejercito, and Nancy Binay.

“The rest were gone. Why?” Enrile said.

Earlier in the day, Drilon spelled out the accomplishments of the Senate under his watch, saying they passed on third reading 284 bills, 116 of which became laws, and 59 of which are pending the President’s approval.

Drilon also said four bicameral reports are pending in the House of Representatives for ratification and seven more in the bicameral are being discussed.

“We can really show that we did our share in opening up the economy to provide a better environment for investments and to create jobs. Many of the laws that we passed languished in the legislative mill for years,” said Drilon.

Among these are the Philippine Competition Act, which had been pending in Congress for many years, as well as the amendment to the Cabotage law, and a law which allowed full entry of foreign banks.

Drilon did not mention the P2,000 pension hike that was vetoed by the President.

Instead, he talked of three opposition senators—including Enrile—who were jailed on plunder charges.

“Never in the history of the Senate [have] three of its members [been] hailed before the court and jailed on charges of corruption: two are still in jail and one is on bail,” he said.

“The history of the Senate will show that it is the first time it happened. The history of the Senate showed how the chamber became the battleground of many political battles. The vice president was subjected to intense investigation. The pork barrel issue occupied our time. The Mamasapano hearing was very emotionally charged investigation,” he said.

He said the biggest reform the Senate supported was the aboliton of pork barrel even before the Supreme Court declared it as unconstitutional.

“That is on record. I think this is the first Congress where the Senate president was invited to appear before the Blue Ribbon committee.

“Also, we note that this Senate has, probably for the first time, six of its members are running for president and vice president.”

Amid all the controversies, he said the Senate was able to recover and regain the people’s trust and confidence. “We did not break or implode as some of our critics predicted,” he said. “We heeded the people’s clamor to have the pork barrel abolished.”

A member of the leftist Makabayan bloc in the House blamed Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for the failure of Congress to pass a law granting a new round of salary increases for state workers before it goes on a four-month recess.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio blasted Trillanes for leaving the country in the midst of a deadlock between the chambers of Congress on the final version of the pay hike bill and as the legislature was counting down the days before going on an extended break due to the upcoming national and local elections.

Trillanes reportedly left for the United States “on an official mission” last week.

Tinio said Trillanes, as the chairman of the Senate civil service committee, should have attended to the bill first before leaving the country.

“What sort of elected official goes on a trip abroad in the middle of contentious bicameral talks, making it virtually impossible for Congress to pass the bill before the recess?” Tinio asked.

“This is gross dereliction of duty on his part. His twisted priorities and self-indulgence means that 1.5 million government employees will not receive the salary hikes and bonuses that they desperately need,” Tinio said.


PHILSTAR

Noy to attend LP campaign kickoff By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 7, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Quezon assured the public that government resources would not be used for partisan or political purposes as the President campaigns for administration candidates. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will join the Liberal Party’s campaign kickoff in Capiz and Iloilo on Tuesday, Malacañang announced yesterday as it advised voters to scrutinize the candidates in the May general elections.

The three-month campaign period officially starts on Feb. 9.

“Maybe what we can say is that everyone should follow the debates and programs on radio and television as well as read newspapers to find out the platform and character of the candidates,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said over dzRB.

Quezon said the campaign season is important for the voters because they would be the ones to choose come elections.

He said this would be the time to evaluate the issues thrown at the candidates.

Quezon assured the public that government resources would not be used for partisan or political purposes as the President campaigns for administration candidates.

Asked to comment on the use of government money during the campaign, Quezon said, “I think we should be aware of one thing – that the presidency is not like a vest or hat that you can remove and wear again. The President is the president wherever he goes and whatever he does.”

Aquino is cautious on spending government money and would not waste resources on things that are not of public interest, Quezon said.

“In other words, you can be sure that public funds are not going to be used for partisan or political purposes of the administration party,” he said. – With Eva Visperas

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RELATED FROM DWDD, MALACAÑAN PALACE

5th ANNIVERSARY II Department of Social Welfare and Development Alvin Santiago February 2, 2016 0 Comment breaking, Headlines


President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his message during the celebration of Department of Social Welfare and development (DSWD) at the Heroes Hall of Malacanang Tuesday, February 2, 2016. The President thank and urged the Department to continue to serve and encourage the disadvantaged and vulnerable to rise above adversities and achieve an improved quality of life of more Filipinos. (Photo by Gil Nartea/Malacanang Photo Bureau)

Malacañan Palace (DWDD) – President Benigno S. Aquino III led the 65th anniversary celebration of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) held in Malacañan Palace.

In his speech, the President imparted a few of the notable contributions and achievements of the DSWD, including the widening of the coverage of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). From P10 billion in 2010, its budget has been increased to P62 billion in 2015 and to P62.7 billion this year, to provide assistance to 4.6 million target housing beneficiaries.

He also recognized the success of the DSWD’s community-driven development project, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (KALAHI-CIDSS), which trains communities and their local government units (LGUs) to choose, design and implement sub-projects that address their needs.

From July 2010 to December 2015, a total of 16,282 projects were completed that directly helped 3.9 million housing beneficiaries.

“Dulo po nito: ‘Di lang natin natugunan ang mga agarang pangangailangan ng ating mga Boss, binibigyan din natin sila ng kakayahang maitaguyod ang mas magandang kinabukasan,” President Aquino said.

He also expressed his gratitude to the DSWD chief, Secretary Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman, and to all social workers and volunteers who form part in the delivery of the agency’s mission. “Ang bawat butil ng malasakit ninyo sa inyong kapwa Pilipino sa kasalukuyan, paglaon, ay magbubunga ng mas malaki pang pagbabago,” the President added. RTVM / MCAG

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

DSWD employees get bonus from Aquino for job well done SHARES: 1646 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet 02:19 AM February 3rd, 2016


President Aquino Tuesday announced a P10,000 bonus for each DSWD employee.

AFTER heaping praises on Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel for their outstanding work, President Aquino Tuesday announced a P10,000 bonus for each DSWD employee.

The President disclosed the good news in his speech during the agency’s 65th anniversary rites held in Malacañang. He has been giving bonuses to personnel of agencies that have performed really well.

Mr. Aquino praised Soliman, whom he said was very hardworking being “on call 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.” “Without overtime and incentive bonus,” he added.

He also lauded three DSWD employees—Chona Calamba, Danny Bitara and Noemi Mongaya—from the agency’s offices in Regions 7, 5 and 8, respectively.

Calamba was cited for helping rescue families hit by the earthquake that devastated Bohol in 2013.

“Although pregnant and herself one of those affected by the disaster, she joined her colleagues in attending to the quake victims,” said the President.

Bitara and Mongaya, on the other hand, both helped in the rescue operations when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” ravaged areas in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas.

Also cited were the thousands of volunteers, including the following celebrities whom Mr. Aquino described as among agency’s “partners in social services”: former Bb. Pilipinas Venus Raj and show biz stars KC Concepcion, Anne Curtis, Iza Calzado and Gary Valenciano.

Mr. Aquino also hailed the services rendered by other DSWD field personnel who provided food, medicine and care to victims of recent calamities.

He recalled that following the devastation brought by Typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009, which he called the “pre-Daang Matuwid era.” He said, “it’s DSWD which asked the public to donate relief goods.”

“Now, you can see the big difference in the agency. It has the right budget, so it no longer needs to appeal for donations.

Not only that. Shortly after the announcement of a coming typhoon, relief goods are already prepositioned and ready for distribution,” he said. Jerry E. Esplanada


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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