MANILA BULLETIN OPINIONS

EDITORIAL: A CONTINUING BATTLE ON 2 FRONTS

JULY 2 --Two simultaneous battles are going on in connection with the ongoing turmoil over the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel. One is the legal battle which has begun with the filing of charges against three senators and Janet Lim Napoles along with their aides. The other is the battle for public opinion. Ordinarily, the latter should not be that important in a legal case. But this is no ordinary case and this is no ordinary trial.It involves some of the highest officials of the land and some of the biggest amounts of public money. And it threatens the foundations of our government. Every angle that crops up in the investigation and trial becomes crucial not only to the prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges, but also to the public-at-large that is closely following the twists and turns of the case. For example, the prosecution recently sought to amend the plunder charges it filed with the Sandiganbayan; it wanted to name the three senators as the central figures in the PDAF case, not Ms. Napoles. The latter’s lawyers had asked why Napoles is accused of plunder when plunder, a non-bailable offense, is filed against government officials. The prosecution move, it was said, sought to answer this point by making Napoles a mere accessory – not the mastermind — and thus strengthen the case. Outside the court, in public discussions, the prosecution move was seen as just another effort of certain political leaders to further pin down the accused opposition senators. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Betting on Binay’s bets

JULY 2 --by Jullie Yap Daza --As if time and the world were not marching fast enough, we’re advancing our clocks to the year 2015 and deciding who should and shouldn’t be the candidates of the thinking (?) class. Vice President Binay — is he opposition? administration? either one or both, simultaneously? – enjoys the pick of the season from a vast field of potential running mates. (In this country, the best isn’t always winnable, just as the winningest doesn’t always turn out to be best.) One Binay faction likes Senator Grace Poe. They are the populists who see Grace as a fresh face, young blood descended from the legendary FPJ, a sensible non- or neo-politician who, like the VP, surprised one and all with her jaw-dropping come-from-behind election in 2010. There’s only one catch. Susan Roces, an actor who commands respect and currency from three generations, has reiterated her preference for Amazing Grace to complete her work in the Senate before gunning for higher office. However, observers who have seen winners and losers come and go know there’s no such thing as a vow made to Mama, and not to know so would be the height of naiveté, an affirmation of the sort of political innocence or insouciance that is anathema to the professionally astute. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Heckling the President

JULY 1 --by Leandro DD Coronel --Can we as citizens heckle the President? Sure. But would that be effective as public discourse, as a debate on national public issues? It’s a free country (generally speaking, at least) and anybody can yell his or her heart out on any issue. But is heckling the proper form of debate? That is, well, debatable. President Aquino has been the object of heckling on at least two occasions recently. On both occasions, Mr. Aquino was delivering a speech when someone interrupted him by shouting slogans. As Ergo has stated more than once before, every citizen has the right to express his or her sentiments in public. Every voice must be heard. But people must voice out their opinions and complaints in a proper way. Screaming one’s gripes isn’t the most appropriate way of communicating ideas or grievances. One, yelling at someone who’s speaking is disruptive and inconsiderate of people in the audience. Two, screaming isn’t exactly the most effective method of communication. And three, it’s impolite and improper. It doesn’t really matter that it’s the President who’s speaking. It’s impolite to interrupt a speaker, no matter who he or she is. If, for example, a guest (or your own father) in your home (or school, or office) is in the middle of saying something. Would it be proper to just butt in and disagree with him in a disagreeable way? It’s plain common sense and common courtesy that you treat the speaker with respect and courtesy however you may disagree with what he’s saying. But there’s freedom of speech, many people will say. Yes, and as Ergo concedes, everybody is entitled to his opinion and in expressing it. It’s just a question of how you say it. The recent heckling of the President doesn’t seem to be an honest effort at communication. In both cases, they seemed to have been meant to embarrass the president rather than to communicate with him. Which makes the matter worse. You’re not only being impolite, you’re also being a public nuisance. Dialogue requires a sober discussion of issues. Communication requires equal opportunity to say each other’s piece without interrupting the other. But when you resort to yelling at a speaker, that is not considered communication. That is disrupting the speaker’s right to say his own piece. Even when freedom of speech gives you latitude to say your piece in public, it doesn’t mean that you can just say anything especially if what you say could lead to chaos or confusion. For example, you can’t just yell “Fire!” in a crowded hall when there’s no fire. Doing so would expose people to the danger of, say, a stampede. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Positive coincidence

JULY 1 --by Senator Manny Villar --Unemployment remains high despite the economy’s accelerated growth. The National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the official jobless rate at 7.0 percent as of April 2014, down by just a half percentage point from the same month last year. I want to focus on several items in the April 2014 Labor Force Survey (LFS), which showed the country’s employment, unemployment and underemployment situation. First, among the major sectors of the economy, the industry sector made up the smallest group of employed workers: 16.4 percent or 6.34 million of the total 38.665 million employed as of April 2014. In the industry sector, the construction subsector accounted for the second largest group of workers, making up 40.7 percent or 2.58 million. Second, among the occupation groups, laborers and unskilled workers remained the largest group, making up 32.3 percent or 12.5 million of the total employed in April 2014. Third, among the unemployed persons in April 2014, 61.7 percent or 1.8 million were males. Fourth, in terms of educational attainment, the largest group of unemployed consists of high school graduates, accounting for 32.7 percent or about 956,000 out of 2.29 million jobless workers. I see a positive coincidence between this group of unemployed workers and the efforts of the government to continue increasing infrastructure spending and line up more projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, which are also in the area of infrastructure. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Action vs allies; heightened alert

JULY 1 --by Fred M. Lobo --An anti-corruption coalition calls for the expanded prosecution of personalities linked to the P10-billion pork barrel scam, to include allies of President Aquino III. Equal treatment and no favouritism, activists cry. *** The group says Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should act swiftly on the other batches of alleged “porkers” and likewise bring them to the bar of justice. Run after them, too, D’Leila, they urge. *** “How come the Department of Justice runs only after opposition solons and gives kid-glove treatment on administration legislators,” coalition spokesman Atty Argee Guevara asks. A pointed question–and he has a point. *** Concerned groups point to Budget Sec. Butch Abad, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala, and TESDA head Joel Villanueva, former congressmen who were likewise linked to the PDAF controversy. Check the President’s Men and LP Boys, too, they urge. No partisanship. *** Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda assures that documents and affidavits implicating administration officials in the diversion of PDAF to bogus non-governmental organizations of suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles are being examined. The administration is not color-blind — and it will act accordingly, he claims. *** Meanwhile, Malacañang agrees with Senate President Franklin Drilon’s call for the Department of Budget to ensure that no pork barrel fund allocations be included in the proposed 2015 national budget. Enough with rotten “pork barrel.” Tama na, bawal na! *** Senators and congressmen cross party lines to support moves to grant Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile special accommodation once the Sandiganbayan orders his arrest on charges of plunder and graft in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Hospital arrest or a house arrest for 90-year-old JPE is okay, lawmakers say. *** Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., vow to slug it out at the Sandiganbayan which is now trying their plunder and graft and corruption cases. Make-or-break legal battles unfold — for real or pampelikula. *** Likewise, Malacañang denies that it has been pushing for the disqualification case against former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada before the Supreme Court. No anti-Erap move, Palace assures. Sige, picture2 pa! 888 READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Editorial: A continuing battle on two fronts

MANILA, JULY 6, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) Two simultaneous battles are going on in connection with the ongoing turmoil over the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

One is the legal battle which has begun with the filing of charges against three senators and Janet Lim Napoles along with their aides. The other is the battle for public opinion.

Ordinarily, the latter should not be that important in a legal case. But this is no ordinary case and this is no ordinary trial.

It involves some of the highest officials of the land and some of the biggest amounts of public money. And it threatens the foundations of our government.

Every angle that crops up in the investigation and trial becomes crucial not only to the prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges, but also to the public-at-large that is closely following the twists and turns of the case.

For example, the prosecution recently sought to amend the plunder charges it filed with the Sandiganbayan; it wanted to name the three senators as the central figures in the PDAF case, not Ms. Napoles.

The latter’s lawyers had asked why Napoles is accused of plunder when plunder, a non-bailable offense, is filed against government officials.

The prosecution move, it was said, sought to answer this point by making Napoles a mere accessory – not the mastermind — and thus strengthen the case.

Outside the court, in public discussions, the prosecution move was seen as just another effort of certain political leaders to further pin down the accused opposition senators.

* The legal processes call for the assiduous investigation of charges before they are filed in court. Thus, while many officials have been publicly identified as somehow involved in the PDAF case, only three senators have been charged.

The administration has rightly pointed out that the investigations are continuing; as a matter of fact, two high administration officials – Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Secretary Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – are now under investigation.

But only in connection with their PDAF when they were both members of Congress in the previous administration.

They may yet be investigated for their possible involvement as the current administration’s DBM and DA secretaries, respectively, but thus far the legal processes have not come around to that.

But as earlier pointed out, the battle for the people’s minds continues alongside the legal processes.

Every single development, every single item of information, is pounced upon by the public, which, thanks to the openness of democratic government and our free press, is very well informed.

Our hope is that in the end, the PDAF case will finally be resolved with no dissonance between the legal decision and the public’s assessment.

Betting on Binay’s bets by Jullie Yap Daza July 2, 2014


by Jullie Yap Daza

As if time and the world were not marching fast enough, we’re advancing our clocks to the year 2015 and deciding who should and shouldn’t be the candidates of the thinking (?) class.

Vice President Binay — is he opposition? administration? either one or both, simultaneously? – enjoys the pick of the season from a vast field of potential running mates. (In this country, the best isn’t always winnable, just as the winningest doesn’t always turn out to be best.)

One Binay faction likes Senator Grace Poe. They are the populists who see Grace as a fresh face, young blood descended from the legendary FPJ, a sensible non- or neo-politician who, like the VP, surprised one and all with her jaw-dropping come-from-behind election in 2010.

There’s only one catch. Susan Roces, an actor who commands respect and currency from three generations, has reiterated her preference for Amazing Grace to complete her work in the Senate before gunning for higher office.

However, observers who have seen winners and losers come and go know there’s no such thing as a vow made to Mama, and not to know so would be the height of naiveté, an affirmation of the sort of political innocence or insouciance that is anathema to the professionally astute.

* Another batch of the VP’s cheering squad is staunchly for Manny V. Pangilinan, the tycoon who runs an empire of public service through private enterprise, from energy to telcos, hospitals to toll roads, mining to pro sports, publishing to broadcasting, etc.

This faction thinks they are articulating the sentiments of the business sector, that MVP is the perfect match because he has the chops to generate jobs, level up the economy, and speed up the cutting of red tape that has turned doing business into a gigantic migraine.

There’s only one catch. MVP has set down three conditions which Jojo Binay is studying very carefully.

At the same time, MVP’s name is so closely connected to Meralco that if he wants to win consumers’ millions of votes – remember the multiplier effect – he’ll be forced to bring down electricity rates drastically before the real campaign starts.

When that comes to pass –watch for the next down-trend after your July bill — then it will be the start of something big.

Heckling the President by Leandro DD Coronel July 2, 2014


by Leandro DD Coronel

Can we as citizens heckle the President?

Sure. But would that be effective as public discourse, as a debate on national public issues?

It’s a free country (generally speaking, at least) and anybody can yell his or her heart out on any issue. But is heckling the proper form of debate? That is, well, debatable.

President Aquino has been the object of heckling on at least two occasions recently. On both occasions, Mr. Aquino was delivering a speech when someone interrupted him by shouting slogans.

As Ergo has stated more than once before, every citizen has the right to express his or her sentiments in public. Every voice must be heard.

But people must voice out their opinions and complaints in a proper way. Screaming one’s gripes isn’t the most appropriate way of communicating ideas or grievances.

One, yelling at someone who’s speaking is disruptive and inconsiderate of people in the audience. Two, screaming isn’t exactly the most effective method of communication. And three, it’s impolite and improper.

It doesn’t really matter that it’s the President who’s speaking. It’s impolite to interrupt a speaker, no matter who he or she is.

If, for example, a guest (or your own father) in your home (or school, or office) is in the middle of saying something. Would it be proper to just butt in and disagree with him in a disagreeable way? It’s plain common sense and common courtesy that you treat the speaker with respect and courtesy however you may disagree with what he’s saying.

But there’s freedom of speech, many people will say. Yes, and as Ergo concedes, everybody is entitled to his opinion and in expressing it. It’s just a question of how you say it.

The recent heckling of the President doesn’t seem to be an honest effort at communication. In both cases, they seemed to have been meant to embarrass the president rather than to communicate with him.

Which makes the matter worse. You’re not only being impolite, you’re also being a public nuisance. Dialogue requires a sober discussion of issues. Communication requires equal opportunity to say each other’s piece without interrupting the other.

But when you resort to yelling at a speaker, that is not considered communication. That is disrupting the speaker’s right to say his own piece.

Even when freedom of speech gives you latitude to say your piece in public, it doesn’t mean that you can just say anything especially if what you say could lead to chaos or confusion. For example, you can’t just yell “Fire!” in a crowded hall when there’s no fire. Doing so would expose people to the danger of, say, a stampede.

* To accommodate people’s bent to vent, some countries set aside public places where citizens can air their opinions or grievances. In London, for example, they have Hyde Park where anybody can speak on any subject he or she desires without being hauled off to jail for public disturbance.

Indeed in Manila, Plaza Miranda in Quiapo had served in the past as a favorite debating spot before all the tiangge stalls and merchants of touted amulets and all sorts of endurance potions took over the area.

It’s not as if people in this country are muzzled and aren’t able to exercise their freedom to speak. It’s not as if freedom of speech is limited or curtailed here. It’s no longer martial law.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed by a democratic system. But, as any right, it has its responsibilities. Order and decorum must be maintained at all times. You cannot, for example, incite the citizenry to rebellion or any illegal acts through freedom of speech.

What’s even worse is when you resort to heckling for the sole purpose of embarrassing a speaker.

Would you appreciate it if you were speaking and then suddenly someone rises or arrives to disrupt your speech?

Common sense and an appreciation for proper decorum will surely dictate that you wouldn’t personally appreciate it.

And so if you wouldn’t appreciate being rudely interrupted, why do it to others?

Positive coincidence by Senator Manny Villar July 1, 2014


by Senator Manny Villar

Unemployment remains high despite the economy’s accelerated growth.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the official jobless rate at 7.0 percent as of April 2014, down by just a half percentage point from the same month last year.

I want to focus on several items in the April 2014 Labor Force Survey (LFS), which showed the country’s employment, unemployment and underemployment situation.

First, among the major sectors of the economy, the industry sector made up the smallest group of employed workers: 16.4 percent or 6.34 million of the total 38.665 million employed as of April 2014. In the industry sector, the construction subsector accounted for the second largest group of workers, making up 40.7 percent or 2.58 million.

Second, among the occupation groups, laborers and unskilled workers remained the largest group, making up 32.3 percent or 12.5 million of the total employed in April 2014.

Third, among the unemployed persons in April 2014, 61.7 percent or 1.8 million were males.

Fourth, in terms of educational attainment, the largest group of unemployed consists of high school graduates, accounting for 32.7 percent or about 956,000 out of 2.29 million jobless workers.

I see a positive coincidence between this group of unemployed workers and the efforts of the government to continue increasing infrastructure spending and line up more projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, which are also in the area of infrastructure.

* Infrastructure is a labor-intensive industry so it has the potential to make a significant contribution to job generation.

Under the Updated 2010-2016 Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the government plans to raise the share of infrastructure spending to GDP every year until it reaches 5 percent by 2016.

At present, infrastructure spending in the Philippines amounts to about 2.3 percent of GDP, similar to that of Indonesia, but lower than Thailand at 3.4 percent and Malaysia at 4.3 percent.

In line with this target, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has allotted P403 billion for infrastructure spending in 2014, and is proposing P607 billion for 2015 and P834 billion for 2016 in line with the new PDP.

Under the PPP program, the government has awarded seven projects since the launching of the program in 2010, namely *the P1.96-billion Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway,
*the P16.42-billion first phase of the PPP School Infrastructure Program (PSIP),
*the P15.68-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway,
*the P5.69-billion Modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center,
*the P3.86-billion PSIP Phase II project,
*the P1.72-billion Automatic Fare Collection System, and
*the P17.5-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport New Passenger Terminal project.

The government hopes to sign more PPP contracts in the next two years, so these will also contribute to increased infrastructure spending.

We don’t expect these projects to be completed in the next two years, but awarding the contracts will allow winning bidders to mobilize resources, start hiring and start site preparations.

One of the latest PPP projects to be put on the auction board was the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) project.

Reports said Team Orion, the joint venture between Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., submitted the highest bid at P11.659 billion.

The project involves the construction of a four-lane, 47-kilometer tolled expressway connecting the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Manila Cavite Tollroad Expressway (Cavitex).

All of these mean more jobs, and we have the bodies to fill them up.

Action vs allies; heightened alert by Fred M. Lobo July 1, 2014


by Fred M. Lobo

An anti-corruption coalition calls for the expanded prosecution of personalities linked to the P10-billion pork barrel scam, to include allies of President Aquino III.

Equal treatment and no favouritism, activists cry.

***

The group says Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should act swiftly on the other batches of alleged “porkers” and likewise bring them to the bar of justice.

Run after them, too, D’Leila, they urge.

***

“How come the Department of Justice runs only after opposition solons and gives kid-glove treatment on administration legislators,” coalition spokesman Atty Argee Guevara asks.

A pointed question–and he has a point.

***

Concerned groups point to Budget Sec. Butch Abad, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala, and TESDA head Joel Villanueva, former congressmen who were likewise linked to the PDAF controversy.

Check the President’s Men and LP Boys, too, they urge. No partisanship.

***

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda assures that documents and affidavits implicating administration officials in the diversion of PDAF to bogus non-governmental organizations of suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles are being examined.

The administration is not color-blind — and it will act accordingly, he claims.

***

Meanwhile, Malacañang agrees with Senate President Franklin Drilon’s call for the Department of Budget to ensure that no pork barrel fund allocations be included in the proposed 2015 national budget.

Enough with rotten “pork barrel.” Tama na, bawal na!

***

Senators and congressmen cross party lines to support moves to grant Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile special accommodation once the Sandiganbayan orders his arrest on charges of plunder and graft in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Hospital arrest or a house arrest for 90-year-old JPE is okay, lawmakers say.

***

Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., vow to slug it out at the Sandiganbayan which is now trying their plunder and graft and corruption cases.

Make-or-break legal battles unfold — for real or pampelikula.

***

Likewise, Malacañang denies that it has been pushing for the disqualification case against former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada before the Supreme Court.

No anti-Erap move, Palace assures. Sige, picture2 pa!

***

“We would like to assure Mayor Estrada that there are no intentions on the part of the executive branch to oust him and his family. The disqualification case is not being initiated by us,” Lacierda says.

No “systematic plan” to take down the Estrada family, he says.

***

President Aquino places government forces in Metro Manila and Mindanao on heightened alert in the wake of terror threats in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, Kidapawan, and Koronadal.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE