EDITORIAL: FOOLING US ALL OVER AGAIN

IT has been three weeks now since the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, was transferred from her detention cell in a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, to a government hospital in Makati. Napoles, accused of plundering billions from public coffers by channeling development funds to bogus projects, has been in the Ospital ng Makati since March 31 to undergo surgery for a cyst in her uterus. The operation was scheduled Tuesday—22 full days after she was first confined. The court trying Napoles had earlier granted her urgent motion to have the surgery done, so there is no plausible explanation for the 22-day delay, or for the need to keep her in hospital while she waited for the procedure. Unless, of course, the objective all along was to move her to more comfortable quarters while she and the government cut a deal. Now we hear reports that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima visited Napoles in her hospital room Monday night and spent five hours there. Just before the clandestine meeting, the secretary pronounced that she was more interested in having Napoles tell all, than to recruit yet another state witness who would shed light on only one part of the whole picture. De Lima did not specify what the administration would offer Napoles in return for such testimony, and studiously avoided mentioning the rule that any state witness must not be the most guilty of the crime alleged. Given that Napoles has been accused of being the mastermind behind the scam and amassing an obscene amount of ill-gotten wealth, it would be difficult indeed to sell her to an angry public as the new star witness for the state. That would be patently unjust. But stranger things involving Napoles have happened in this administration, and they all point to the special treatment that top officials, headed by President Benigno Aquino III, have accorded her. If the charges against Napoles are proved correct—and the government is adamant that it has a strong case—why is it treating her with kid gloves? In diverting billions of public funds, Napoles and company fooled all of us. Should we, in the name of prosecutorial convenience, allow her and this administration to fool us again?READ MORE...

ALSO: Acts of contrition, humility

Over the Holy Week period, we witnessed rare acts of humility and contrition. President Benigno S. Aquino III apologized to the public for the breakdown of the air-conditioning system at the NAIA I terminal which he acknowledged as the world’s worst airport. But passengers who go through the hot, crowded airport want more than a presidential apology. They want the problem addressed and for the President to fire Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya whose turf covers the country’s international gateway. The ruling Liberal Party’s poster boy for canine loyalty, Abaya preempted the NBI investigation of extortion charges leveled by the Czech Ambassador to the Philippines against Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol. He cleared the MRT chief and claimed Ambassador Josef Rychtar’s allegation Vitangcol and his emissary Wilson de Vera tried to extort $30-million from the Czech firm Inekon’s was “without basis.” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda also questioned Rychtar’s motive claiming it was just a case of sour grapes because the Czech company did not win the contract.to supply MRT additional carriages and upgraded equipment. He cannot understand why Rychtar is reviving the issue “which happened a year ago.” The answer is, of course, that the Palace wants the case buried and forgotten. But this stink will not go away; it will remain a campaign issue in the presidential polls of 2016. Everyone who lined up under the scorching sun to get a ride on the rails of hell will remember Abaya and Vitangcol for mismanaging the MRT. Aside from an inefficient public transport system, voters should be reminded of other failings of the Aquino administration, such as the shameful condition of NAIA I and III, the LTO mess and the slow response to provide relief for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

ALSO: Mar and the world’s worst airport

I’ve kept trying to figure out when it was that I stopped giving Mar Roxas the benefit of the doubt.
I think about it now in relation to the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club incident, where the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary purportedly lost his temper and threw some putanginas around. Roxas has since denied it of course, the cussing at least, and said it is one incident he was to reflect on for the Holy Week. Of course it remains so believable that the DILG Secretary would throw his weight around in this way, and that’s mostly because we’ve seen him—and we’ve heard of how—he can lose his temper or be defensive (or a brat) about many things far larger than being told he has to pay for a friend to play golf with him. Now I remember when it was that Roxas lost all credibility as far as I was concerned: throwback to the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project circa 2011. A timeline to remember Mar by
In November 2011, news broke that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary had unceremoniously kicked out the team that had been working for eight months on the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project. That rehabilitation team started work in April 2011, headed by Kenneth Cobonpue, Budji Layug, and Royal Pineda.
Under the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). These three world renowned Pinoys were pro-bono consultants of the project—that is, they were not paid to do this work. READ MORE...

ALSO: De Lima meets Napoles

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima met with Janet Lim-Napoles for five hours at the Ospital ng Makati last Monday night. Napoles signed a statement at the end of the interview. This gives some truth to De Lima’s statement that Napoles would make a better state witness than Gigi Reyes. Since Janet Napoles has decided to tell all, it is up to De Lima and Ombudsman Carpio Morales to accept her as a state witness. Will she tell all, including the congressional allies of President Aquino, or will she toe the De Lima line selecting only the opposition leaders to be charged? The final decision will be with the Sandiganbayan. De Lima, in an ABS-CBN interview, revealed that Napoles has submitted a new affidavit naming other senators and congressmen besides Senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla as recipients of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) kickbacks. AND MUCH MORE...

ALSO: From smile to sneer (of biggest crook in the Senate)

The biggest crook in the Senate sits atop piles of stolen money, and he laughs at three senators, Juna Ponce Enrile Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla, who are facing plunder charges. It’s how our system works: Some people get the blame; others laugh while on their way to the bank. While Enrile, Estrada and Revilla claw their way out of trouble and try to salvage whatever is left of their tattered reputation, the crook is safe in the shadows and he lectures about matuwid na daan, honesty in public service, and equal protection under our laws. While Enrile, Estrada and Revilla face charges of plunder, the crook continues to amass wealth. He will continue to laugh as he makes his way to the bank until somebody blows the whistle on him. It’ll be a dramatic moment of truth, a day of reckoning for the crook when the Department of Justice forces him out of the shadows and rips the mask off his face. Former Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is now rehabilitation czar, says he has the goods on this senator, who pocketed more money than Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. Lacson adds that if he sees signs of cover-up or an attempt to sanitize the list of those involved in the pork barrel scam, he will release the names to the public. “The three (Enrile, Estrada and Revilla) appeared to have received a lot, but there was one who got more but whose name has yet to be mentioned.”


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Fooling us all over again

MANILA, APRIL 28, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) IT has been three weeks now since the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, was transferred from her detention cell in a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, to a government hospital in Makati.

Napoles, accused of plundering billions from public coffers by channeling development funds to bogus projects, has been in the Ospital ng Makati since March 31 to undergo surgery for a cyst in her uterus. The operation was scheduled Tuesday—22 full days after she was first confined.

The court trying Napoles had earlier granted her urgent motion to have the surgery done, so there is no plausible explanation for the 22-day delay, or for the need to keep her in hospital while she waited for the procedure. Unless, of course, the objective all along was to move her to more comfortable quarters while she and the government cut a deal.

Now we hear reports that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima visited Napoles in her hospital room Monday night and spent five hours there.

Just before the clandestine meeting, the secretary pronounced that she was more interested in having Napoles tell all, than to recruit yet another state witness who would shed light on only one part of the whole picture.

De Lima did not specify what the administration would offer Napoles in return for such testimony, and studiously avoided mentioning the rule that any state witness must not be the most guilty of the crime alleged.

Given that Napoles has been accused of being the mastermind behind the scam and amassing an obscene amount of ill-gotten wealth, it would be difficult indeed to sell her to an angry public as the new star witness for the state. That would be patently unjust.

But stranger things involving Napoles have happened in this administration, and they all point to the special treatment that top officials, headed by President Benigno Aquino III, have accorded her.

After going into hiding for two weeks last year, Napoles “surrendered” to President Aquino in the Palace in August 2013. After what the Palace described as a 10-minute meeting, the President personally escorted Napoles to police headquarters in Quezon City to see to her booking.

The special treatment continued, and Napoles was ordered detained in a police camp instead of a regular prison, at great expense to the public—by some estimates, as much as P150,000 a month.

Napoles has consistently denied the charges against her, and offered no new information on the scam she allegedly organized. In the Senate, she was an uncooperative witness and constantly invoked her right against self incrimination.

All this time, her brother, who is a co-accused in the plunder case, has remained at large, calling into question how serious the authorities are in finding him, and fueling speculation that a deal was cut for his freedom last year.

If the charges against Napoles are proved correct—and the government is adamant that it has a strong case—why is it treating her with kid gloves?

In diverting billions of public funds, Napoles and company fooled all of us. Should we, in the name of prosecutorial convenience, allow her and this administration to fool us again?

Acts of contrition, humility By Alejandro Del Rosario | Apr. 23, 2014 at 12:01am

Over the Holy Week period, we witnessed rare acts of humility and contrition. President Benigno S. Aquino III apologized to the public for the breakdown of the air-conditioning system at the NAIA I terminal which he acknowledged as the world’s worst airport. But passengers who go through the hot, crowded airport want more than a presidential apology. They want the problem addressed and for the President to fire Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya whose turf covers the country’s international gateway.

Abaya didi a mea culpa for prematurely calling DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas “President Mar.” Abaya may have gained brownie points with his political patron who handpicked him for the DOTC post but his brown-nosing with Mar earned the President’s ire who reminded Mar’s altar boy that “we are not yet in an election campaign mode.”

The ruling Liberal Party’s poster boy for canine loyalty, Abaya preempted the NBI investigation of extortion charges leveled by the Czech Ambassador to the Philippines against Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol. He cleared the MRT chief and claimed Ambassador Josef Rychtar’s allegation Vitangcol and his emissary Wilson de Vera tried to extort $30-million from the Czech firm Inekon’s was “without basis.”

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda also questioned Rychtar’s motive claiming it was just a case of sour grapes because the Czech company did not win the contract.to supply MRT additional carriages and upgraded equipment. He cannot understand why Rychtar is reviving the issue “which happened a year ago.” The answer is, of course, that the Palace wants the case buried and forgotten. But this stink will not go away; it will remain a campaign issue in the presidential polls of 2016. Everyone who lined up under the scorching sun to get a ride on the rails of hell will remember Abaya and Vitangcol for mismanaging the MRT.

Aside from an inefficient public transport system, voters should be reminded of other failings of the Aquino administration, such as the shameful condition of NAIA I and III, the LTO mess and the slow response to provide relief for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

Speaking of the LTO and the intra-corporate dispute in Stradcom, the word going around is that the issue will soon be settled The P1.2 billion held in escrow would be released, minus the (ehem) humongous interest earned. Now, if you were Cesar Quiambao or Bonifacio Sumbilla, won’t you be willing to forego the interest earned after waiting three years to get your hands on that money? For sure, there will be a facilitator’s fee. That’s a lot of loose change for someone’s campaign chest.

Recall that former LTO head Virgie Torres placed the money in escrow with the LandBank pending resolution of the intra-corporate dispute between the Quiambao and Sumbilla groups who are claiming payment for services rendered by Stradcom as the land transportation agency’s IT provider.

Torres left LTO after she was caught on CCTV camera playing the slot machines at a casino.

Post- Pacquiao notes

After Filipinos’ euphoria over Manny Pacquiao’s victory against Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, fight fans are again clamoring for a Manny –Floyd Mayweather showdown. This, as everyone knows, depends on whether Mayweather would be willing to stake his undefeated ring record against the Filipino icon.

Bradley did, and lost his unbeaten record plus his WBO welterweight title to Pacquiao in their return bout at the MGM Grand Arena. There were no knockdowns and although Manny failed to score the definitive knockout, he did enough to make sure the judges could not steal the scorecards this time. To Bradley’s credit, he gave it his all and was gracious in defeat.

“Manny Pacquiao was the better fighter tonight,” said Bradley after the unanimous 12-round decision was announced.

Bradley, from where we sat together with a throng of Pinoys, gave as good as he got. He caught Manny with a hard right to the head in the fourth to win the round. But Manny was all business and first in the middle of the ring at the start of every round. Soon, Pacquiao’s volume punches coming from every angle proved too much for Bradley and from the seventh round on he stopped taunting Manny to come in and mix it up.

The MGM Grand Hotel and Arena was teeming with Filipinos from Manila, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and as far as New York to cheer their countryman. The MGM hotel and casino cashed in on the out- of- towners and high rollers proving Manny Pacquiao is an industry that brings in business to the US gambling mecca. The excitement on fight night was electric with the atmosphere at the MGM arena reminiscent of gladiators combat at Rome’s Colesseum as Pinoys chanted “Manny, Manny, Manny!”

A Pinay two rows behind me was shrieking “Huwag kang maawa, Manny, tapusin muna ‘yan.” ( Show no mercy, Manny, finish him off!).

Floyd Mayweather cannot draw that big a crowd fighting someone else without Pinoys packing the MGM Grand. Estimates of a possible Pacquiao-Mayweather match could run into $100 million for Floyd and $50 million for Manny who’s willing to take a smaller purse just to make the fight happen. It could be more with receipts from pay per view, enough for both fighters to retire on.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Mar and the world’s worst airport April 23, 2014 11:58 pm by Katrina Stuart Santiago
 


KATRINA STUART SANTIAGO

I’ve kept trying to figure out when it was that I stopped giving Mar Roxas the benefit of the doubt.

I think about it now in relation to the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club incident, where the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary purportedly lost his temper and threw some putanginas around. Roxas has since denied it of course, the cussing at least, and said it is one incident he was to reflect on for the Holy Week.

Of course it remains so believable that the DILG Secretary would throw his weight around in this way, and that’s mostly because we’ve seen him—and we’ve heard of how—he can lose his temper or be defensive (or a brat) about many things far larger than being told he has to pay for a friend to play golf with him.

Now I remember when it was that Roxas lost all credibility as far as I was concerned: throwback to the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project circa 2011.

A timeline to remember Mar by

In November 2011, news broke that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary had unceremoniously kicked out the team that had been working for eight months on the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project. That rehabilitation team started work in April 2011, headed by Kenneth Cobonpue, Budji Layug, and Royal Pineda.

Under the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). These three world renowned Pinoys were pro-bono consultants of the project—that is, they were not paid to do this work.

But work they did. The worst airport in the world needed all the help it could get, and quickly. Working with the Manila International Airport Authority, a NAIA Project Management Office was created to adopt the project. The final concept and design of the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team took into consideration the structural integrity of the existing NAIA 1, and the need for both form and function. Taking into consideration the need to keep the airport going even during rehabilitation, the plan was to do it section by section.

In June 2011, Roxas was appointed DOTC Secretary by the President.

In October 2011, the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team announced their new NAIA 1 Terminal Design. It was not only wonderful, it was transparent: how many projects that will use public funds and taxpayers’ money are actually available to us in this manner, showing us where our money would go, allowing us to expect a finished product that has been presented to us as end-users?

In November 2011, the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team was kicked out of the project by the DOTC, the work they put in—their volunteer work—considered as mere “inputs.” DOTC Secretary Roxas said: “They have all made their inputs and interior design suggestions for the aesthetic ‘look-and’feel’ of NAIA 1. The DOTC is grateful for their inputs but since their inputs are aesthetic, we will take them into consideration after the more basic and fundamental structural and electro-mechanical works are undertaken.”

This was to dismiss the work that the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team put in—eight months of volunteer work!—to be merely about aesthetics.

There was also no contract between the MIAA and the DOTC and the NCC and its volunteer team that had been working for free, we were told.

Never mind that the design plan of the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team had been presented to Cabinet Members, and had been approved by them, too.

The Leandro V. Locsin and Associates (LVLA) team was to take over the project. Roxas said: “They are in possession of the ‘as designed’ and ‘as built’ plans and blueprints of the airport. They know the exact location of the duct works, risers, pipes, water drainages, and other electro-mechanical configurations of the facility. In short, they know the ‘bituka’ of T1.
We will work with them and avail of their intimate knowledge of the facility.”

We never saw those blueprints of course, neither did we have a sense of what exactly the DOTC’s new team of experts were planning to do with the airport.

The President approved the P1.1. billion budget for NAIA 1 rehabilitation that same month in 2011. The promise was for work to start in January 2012, with the DOTC at the helm.

Beyond Roxas?

In August 2012, Roxas was appointed the new Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary.

In August 2012, the NAIA 1 rehabilitation had yet to be felt by any of us who pass through it to travel out of and into the country.

In June 2013, news broke about the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team collaborating with LVLA to rehabilitate NAIA 1. The rehabilitation was finally underway, DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya announced. It is now pegged at P1.2 billion pesos. The Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team is still working pro bono, but it’s unclear what role they play exactly, no matter the government press releases.

In December 2013 DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) was awarded the P1.3-billion NAIA 1 Rehabilitation Project. In January 2014, they started work on NAIA 1. This month, travelers have suffered the consequence of this rehabilitation project. Long lines and air conditioning units that have been turned off have been enough to make people faint. DOTC Secretary Abaya has apologized, “Our sacrifices now will lead to much better facilities and services in less than a year’s time. We are confident that the public will find these inconveniences to have been worth it once the project is completed.”

Yet it is unclear what the completed rehabilitated NAIA 1 Terminal will be like. Unlike the original Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team’s transparency in showing us their redesign, where we know exactly how they would solve the problem of congestion and traffic for example, we have no idea how we’re supposed to feel the effect of a new NAIA 1.

There’s also the fact that MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado had said that this rehabilitation will not solve airport congestion, because congestion will be solved with the transfer of international flights to NAIA Terminal 3. Yet the rehabilitation is supposed to boost tourism and improve services.

How exactly? We don’t know.

The Mar roadblock

One can only imagine how quickly and efficiently things would’ve gone with the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team had they been given the budget to implement their proposed design themselves. They had promised it would be done in a year on a P1 billion-peso budget. The NAIA Terminal 1 could have been done in January 2012.

But the Roxas roadblock was not only inexplicable, Roxas himself did not fulfill his promise to do something about NAIA 1 the whole time he was in DOTC. The promise was that Roxas’s DOTC would begin work on NAIA 1 in January 2012. The current DOTC Secretary promises rehabilitation work that was started in January 2014 will be done by December 2014, just in time for the APEC Summit in January 2015.

Apparently it was not enough that we, the people, had been suffering with this airport. Its repair only became urgent because an international summit of leaders might actually suffer the way we have all these years.

In November 2011 DOTC Secretary Roxas said: “The rehabilitation plan is part of our mission of providing the Filipino people safe, reliable and convenient transport means in line with Pnoy’s slogan of ‘Kayo ang Boss.’”

Anong petsa na ser. Nasa ibang posisyon ka na. Worst airport in the world pa rin ang NAIA 1.

Roxas kicking out the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team that was willing to work on the airport in 2011, and which we all know would’ve been able to fulfill the promise of a better airport by 2012, was nothing but arrogant.

The only thing worse is that Roxas didn’t deliver even a smidgen of change to NAIA 1 in that year that he was in DOTC.

I realize now that Roxas’ Tacloban-fail was no surprise. Let’s do a timeline of that next. (Read it at PNoy's section(PE)

FROM PHILSTAR

De Lima meets Napoles SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 24, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


By Ernesto M. Maceda

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima met with Janet Lim-Napoles for five hours at the Ospital ng Makati last Monday night. Napoles signed a statement at the end of the interview. This gives some truth to De Lima’s statement that Napoles would make a better state witness than Gigi Reyes. Since Janet Napoles has decided to tell all, it is up to De Lima and Ombudsman Carpio Morales to accept her as a state witness. Will she tell all, including the congressional allies of President Aquino, or will she toe the De Lima line selecting only the opposition leaders to be charged? The final decision will be with the Sandiganbayan.

De Lima, in an ABS-CBN interview, revealed that Napoles has submitted a new affidavit naming other senators and congressmen besides Senators Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla as recipients of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) kickbacks.

De Lima said that up to now there has been no indication shown by Gigi Reyes to turn state witness. On the other hand, Gigi submitted an 83-page affidavit saying that her signatures on ten letters to executive officials have been forged. She also said that Benhur Luy’s testimony is hearsay. Malacañang ruled out Gigi Reyes as a state witness. Napoles was assisted by her lawyer Atty. Bruce Rivera.

Estrada in Hong Kong

Mayor Joseph Estrada left for Hong Kong (HK) to deliver a written apology to the HK chief executive and to pay HK$20 million as compensation for the eight victims and other wounded Hong Kong nationals.

Accompanying Estrada is Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, which indicates that Estrada’s trip was authorized by President Aquino.

Several Manila councilors were in the Estrada party, which was covered by ABS-CBN and Hong Kong media.

Self denial

In his Easter message, President Aquino said that the country is recovering from corruption and poverty.

That’s highly debatable, considering the new cases of corruption covering out in the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Agriculture (DA), and the local governments.

Social Weather Stations (SWS) reports that cronyism is a serious problem under the Aquino administration.

There have been consistent surveys reporting high poverty and hunger figures. Also, the consistent consensus of international agencies of the lack of inclusive growth. UP Professor Luz Briones reported that the number of unemployed Filipinos has reached 3.66 million.

Binay gets record of 87%

Vice President Jejomar Binay got an approval ratings of 87 percent in the March 2014 Pulse Asia Survey, up seven ticks from 80 percent in December 2013.

In contrast, President Aquino’s approval rating declined to 70 percent, down by three percentage points from 73 percent last December. His trust rating declined to 69 percent from 74 percent while Binay’s surged to 86 percent from 77 percent in December 2013. Binay’s record of approval and trust ratings puts him solidly in the lead for the presidential race in 2016.

Senate President Franklin Drilon’s approval rating went up to 58 percent from 43 percent last December. This makes him a dark horse for the Liberal Party (LP) presidential nomination if Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas’ ratings do not improve. Surveys have shown Roxas 20 points behind Binay. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s ratings declined.

Breakdowns

As we landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and read the newspapers, we were greeted again with another MRT breakdown and a breakdown of air conditioning units at NAIA 1. Again, the simple question: Why they were not repaired the last four years?

We also read another bus accident in Camarines Sur, with 5 dead and 15 wounded; 31 people died, 129 wounded in accidents during the Holy Week.

Meanwhile, a water shortage has been felt in most parts of Metro Manila. A power shortage is also probable during May and June.

MILF rebels join Abu Sayyaf

AFP Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista announced that Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels joined the Abu Sayyaf in a clash with government troops in Basilan.

Gadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, confirmed the 4 MILF casualties and asked for an investigation.

This is not the first time that MILF rebels joined Abu Sayyaf forces in Basilan. This is definitely a violation of the truce agreement with the MILF. The MILF should be held accountable

Meanwhile, chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer reported that there have been 23 kidnappings in Mindanao this year. She asked the MILF to help stop the kidnappings.

Tidbits: Movie columnist Ricky Lo reported that Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista has broken off his relationship with Presidential sister Kris Aquino.

Hooray! The Supreme Court issued a new temporary restraining order (TRO) on the proposed Meralco December rate hikes. Meanwhile, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is set to approve a .41 centavo rate hike.

Senator Bam Aquino revealed that the Philippines has the slowest internet speed in Asia, with only 3.52 Megabits per second (Mbps). Singapore is number one, with 65.6 Mbps. The Philippines also has the highest internet charges.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was unable to finish the EDSA road blocking project, which started during the Holy Week. DPWH is asking for an extension of time to complete the project. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino asked the contractors to explain the delay.

Seven more bodies were recovered in Tacloban, bringing the Yolanda death toll to 6,300.

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonized at the Vatican on Sunday, April 27. A big Filipino delegation is expected to attend the canonization rites.

MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL

From smile to sneer By Manila Standard Today | Apr. 26, 2014 at 12:01am

The biggest crook in the Senate sits atop piles of stolen money, and he laughs at three senators, Juna Ponce Enrile Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla, who are facing plunder charges. It’s how our system works: Some people get the blame; others laugh while on their way to the bank.

While Enrile, Estrada and Revilla claw their way out of trouble and try to salvage whatever is left of their tattered reputation, the crook is safe in the shadows and he lectures about matuwid na daan, honesty in public service, and equal protection under our laws. While Enrile, Estrada and Revilla face charges of plunder, the crook continues to amass wealth. He will continue to laugh as he makes his way to the bank until somebody blows the whistle on him.

It’ll be a dramatic moment of truth, a day of reckoning for the crook when the Department of Justice forces him out of the shadows and rips the mask off his face.

Former Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is now rehabilitation czar, says he has the goods on this senator, who pocketed more money than Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. Lacson adds that if he sees signs of cover-up or an attempt to sanitize the list of those involved in the pork barrel scam, he will release the names to the public. “The three (Enrile, Estrada and Revilla) appeared to have received a lot, but there was one who got more but whose name has yet to be mentioned.”

Lacson aired his concern after the alleged mastermind of the P10 billion scam, Janet Napoles, decided to come clean and revealed the names of senators and congressmen involved. Napolies realized she would not get a medal for taking the head. She spilled the beans to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima before going under the knife to remove a tumor in her body.

Napoles provided De Lima a list of crooks in the Senate and the House of Representatives. It won’t be long before the public gets to know their identities. And the public will demand blood.

When the Ombudsman gets its hands on the case, details of the plunder of the people’s money will be an open book. It’ll be the turn of the public to laugh at the crooks—former honorable men and women— soiled by dirty money.

It would be interesting to watch the smile disappear from the face of the biggest crook in the Senate. It is possible that his smile would turn into a sneer.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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