PHILSTAR EDITORIAL/OPINION

EDITORIAL: GRAFTBUSTERS  

Reforms started in the current administration must be sustained. This is the reason invoked by those hoping that President Aquino will get a second term. Even without a term extension, however, the President can make it harder for his successor to overturn reforms by seeing to it that new ways of governance are institutionalized. The President can also heed suggestions made last week to give more resources to the agencies that are in the front line of the battle against corruption. These are the Commission on Audit, whose employees are tasked to look out for anomalous transactions in the agencies where they are assigned, and the Office of the Ombudsman, which investigates and prepares cases against erring public officials. Last week at the bail hearing of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, a Sandiganbayan justice lamented the failure of state auditors to detect the pork barrel scam early enough. Associate Justice Samuel Martires was told that because of limited manpower and resources, the COA could conduct only random auditing of government transactions.

The same problem bedevils the Office of the Ombudsman, which needs to double its current contingent of 363 prosecutors. If the office pursues the findings in special audits conducted by the COA in the use of the congressional pork barrel, nearly 200 lawmakers may be indicted for corruption. Each charge has to stick. Will the Office of the Ombudsman be up to the job? During the six-year trial of Joseph Estrada for plunder following his ouster as president, ombudsman prosecutors related how challenging it was to secure a conviction. Guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt, which means nothing less than solid evidence will do. A solid money trail must be presented to bolster witnesses’ testimonies. This often requires painstaking sleuthing, with the prosecution handled by teams rather than just an individual or two. Almost all government agencies can use additional funds. The COA and Office of the Ombudsman must compete for additional people and resources. But since the President has made the battle against corruption the linchpin of his administration, he should give the graftbusters sufficient weapons to win the fight. THIS IS THE FULL EDITORIAL

ALSO Opinion: Mischief    

Trust the New York Times to be most precise in its choice of words. When it editorialized on President Aquino’s moves to amend the Constitution, the Times accused him of “political mischief.”  “Mischief” is such an apt word. It calls up images of infantile misdemeanor, of immature politicking and of inane pronouncement. These are correct characterizations of the strange behavior of Aquino and his LP henchmen the past few weeks. The idea of extending Aquino’s stay in office was first broached by Mar Roxas. After that, it was repeated in pro-administration social media sites. Eventually, the proposition was articulated rather superficially by the LP’s convenient mouth, Rep. Edgar Erice. Although repeated over and over again, the proposition was never really fleshed out. There is no official LP position in the matter. It remains unclear if what is being proposed is term extension or a full second term. Either way, this will be unconstitutional. Asked about this hobgoblin of an idea, Aquino himself was gossamer as could be. On the one hand, he expressed disinterest in a second term, talking of pigging out with his friends as ordinary citizen. On the other hand, he maintains he has yet to consult his “bosses” on the matter, citing a few anecdotes of people who walk up to him asking him to stay on. This is not a responsible adult’s way of exercising presidential leadership. *READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion: Faith in the Pinoy  

Out of 100 million Filipinos, the nation’s hope lies only in one person: Noynoy Aquino. This is hubris, manifested in the hope of keeping him in office for another six years after his single term ends. President Aquino should have more faith in the capabilities of his own compatriots. In fact he and his bunch of whispering sycophants – the bulong brigade – should have the humility to believe that perhaps someone might actually do better than him as president. Especially because when Noynoy Aquino accepted his party’s draft and ran for president, serious doubts were also cast on his capability to govern a land of the ungovernable. To this day, certain individuals even within his inner circle manifest such doubts, and tend to underestimate him. Doubts were also raised on how he could sustain his straight path or daang matuwid within the framework of the country’s transactional politics.

We’re seeing the results in his current woes regarding the scrapping of the congressional pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). P-Noy didn’t promise us vision, and it shows in the nation’s current woes. He does have one clear target: to see at least one of the prominent personalities currently detained without bail for plunder convicted before his term ends. He has won bruising battles along the way, getting rid of an ombudsman and a chief justice that he considered obstructions along his straight path. He vanquished powerful lobbies to enact the Reproductive Health and sin tax laws. But his anti-corruption campaign is losing traction as his allies are implicated in crooked deals, and he is perceived to be protecting them. *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Opinion: Teach me to laugh, Lord!   

There are many things about the headlines today that bring out the cynic in the Filipino. It is the moment of dreary promises, stories told and speeches made – reaffirming the same old platitudes. Democracy? Freedom? Independence? Have we really freed ourselves of colonial mentality or our own faults to say the least? Times are truly difficult for Juan de la Cruz, not necessarily for the rich who cannot feel the ill-effects of hard life. I don’t really think it’s because Juan is tamad (or lazy) but because his government is not functioning well. Instead of leading us to the road of progress, they halt or delay it for some reason only known to them. Take for instance the legislative branch, the law-making body. They should formulate laws that would govern the lives of citizens and maintain peace and order in the community.

Where are their carefully crafted laws? Why don’t we feel the change? Instead of creating laws that should improve our quality of life or straighten up government policies, they continue to create laws that serve and protect their own interests. What’s worse is that these lawmakers are the lawbreakers. Sanamagan! Haven’t you noticed that the “bills” prioritized are closer to their personal interests or to their known ‘family’-owned corporations in the cities or the provinces? Instead of thinking of the country’s development, they are obviously thinking of what they will gain in the guise of country development. What used to be a venue for intelligent discourse on laws governing the land has become a place where theatrical acts happen much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the Filipino people. But then again these so-called esteemed congressmen and senators are like emperors parading in sheepskin with sheepish smiles plastered on their faces, perhaps saying…you cannot touch us, we are the powerful and mighty…so just be quiet, raise no objections, ask no questions and your lives will be better. In fact, something worth their time for the country’s future needs a lot of ‘lobbying.’ *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Opinion: More comments on EDSA and C5 traffic   

In response to our latest column on the traffic problem in Metro Manila, we received a number of letters from readers. Let’s hear from two of them in this column. The first comes from Robert “Ogie” Esguerra who introduces himself as a motorist. He writes: “I read your article today about the horrendous traffic that we’ve been experiencing everyday especially in EDSA. I wrote to you to lament my disappointment with what’s going on at our main thoroughfare. Mega projects needed ---“First of all, the efforts of MMDA would be inappropriate. No matter how hard they implement rules on the road, it won’t work because what we need in EDSA are mega projects. “Even a simple engineering student can think of the best solution. What we need to do is to tear down all flyovers on EDSA. Those structures do nothing to ease the traffic. As you can see everyday, the flyovers are becoming a big parking lot. “After tearing down the flyovers, we should replace them with a skyway linking the existing skyway in the south. By the way, we also need to demolish the MRT. The trains should be under the new Skyway in EDSA – a subway train.

“Exits points of the EDSA skyway are Balintawak Market, Munoz, Kamuning, Crame, Ortigas, Guadalupe, Ayala, Magallanes, Edsa Taft and SM Megamall. The new MRT subway stations should be constructed at SM North, Quezon Avenue, Cubao, Ortigas, Crossing, Ayala, Magallanes and SM Megamall. “The government should also build a subway for light vehicles parallel to subway train. To save on the cost of building these subways, they should include ventilation facilities in the middle of EDSA where the posts of EDSA Skyway are located. This will also serve as the emergency exits. “These are the permanent solution to the traffic in EDSA. We cannot ignore the fact that we are moving forward, faster than our neighbors in the ASEAN. As the economy is growing, the demand for new vehicles also improves. “The government can include the EDSA Skyway, MRT subway and EDSA subway to the list of PPP. Yes, there’s still hope to the historic EDSA traffic. Attention, Sec. Rogelio Singson!”  Removing constrictions ---The next letter sender is Rene Montemayor who will deal in some detail about his observations along C5, a diversion road running parallel to EDSA. Please read on. *READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion: Executive overreach  

President Aquino has accused the Supreme Court (SC) of judicial “overreach” in declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. But now, the uniform 54-4 votes on all three impeachment complaints by the House Committee on Justice once again confirms the President’s control of the House of Representatives. This same is true of the House as it refused to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill which Malacañang opposes. It was also indicated when the President was successful in pushing an impeachment complaint against then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. 188 congressmen also signed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

What is doubly sad is the President’s control of the Senate as shown by the Corona impeachment vote. There are signs too that the Commission on Audit (COA) is subservient to the President as it has not released an audit of pork barrel funds released from 2010 to 2013. Drilon suspends JPE, Jinggoy Acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III has validly questioned Senate President Frank Drilon’s unilateral suspension of Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who are facing plunder charges over the pork barrel fund scam before the Sandiganbayan. Estrada said he wants Drilon to allow all its members to vote on whether one of their colleagues should be suspended, pointing out Senate President Drilon is not the Senate and the Senate should decide as a collegial body as it involves a member or members of the Senate. The senator also said that as a co-equal branch of government, the legislature can choose whether or not to implement suspensions by making its own decision. Voting to expel or suspend a senator requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the Senate. *READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL - Graftbusters

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 (PHILSTAR) - Reforms started in the current administration must be sustained. This is the reason invoked by those hoping that President Aquino will get a second term. Even without a term extension, however, the President can make it harder for his successor to overturn reforms by seeing to it that new ways of governance are institutionalized.

The President can also heed suggestions made last week to give more resources to the agencies that are in the front line of the battle against corruption. These are the Commission on Audit, whose employees are tasked to look out for anomalous transactions in the agencies where they are assigned, and the Office of the Ombudsman, which investigates and prepares cases against erring public officials.

Last week at the bail hearing of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, a Sandiganbayan justice lamented the failure of state auditors to detect the pork barrel scam early enough. Associate Justice Samuel Martires was told that because of limited manpower and resources, the COA could conduct only random auditing of government transactions.

The same problem bedevils the Office of the Ombudsman, which needs to double its current contingent of 363 prosecutors. If the office pursues the findings in special audits conducted by the COA in the use of the congressional pork barrel, nearly 200 lawmakers may be indicted for corruption. Each charge has to stick. Will the Office of the Ombudsman be up to the job?

During the six-year trial of Joseph Estrada for plunder following his ouster as president, ombudsman prosecutors related how challenging it was to secure a conviction. Guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt, which means nothing less than solid evidence will do. A solid money trail must be presented to bolster witnesses’ testimonies. This often requires painstaking sleuthing, with the prosecution handled by teams rather than just an individual or two.

Almost all government agencies can use additional funds. The COA and Office of the Ombudsman must compete for additional people and resources. But since the President has made the battle against corruption the linchpin of his administration, he should give the graftbusters sufficient weapons to win the fight.

Mischief FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 2, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Alex Magno

Trust the New York Times to be most precise in its choice of words. When it editorialized on President Aquino’s moves to amend the Constitution, the Times accused him of “political mischief.”

“Mischief” is such an apt word. It calls up images of infantile misdemeanor, of immature politicking and of inane pronouncement. These are correct characterizations of the strange behavior of Aquino and his LP henchmen the past few weeks.

The idea of extending Aquino’s stay in office was first broached by Mar Roxas. After that, it was repeated in pro-administration social media sites. Eventually, the proposition was articulated rather superficially by the LP’s convenient mouth, Rep. Edgar Erice.

Although repeated over and over again, the proposition was never really fleshed out. There is no official LP position in the matter. It remains unclear if what is being proposed is term extension or a full second term. Either way, this will be unconstitutional.

Asked about this hobgoblin of an idea, Aquino himself was gossamer as could be. On the one hand, he expressed disinterest in a second term, talking of pigging out with his friends as ordinary citizen. On the other hand, he maintains he has yet to consult his “bosses” on the matter, citing a few anecdotes of people who walk up to him asking him to stay on.

This is not a responsible adult’s way of exercising presidential leadership.

*  To compound things, Aquino raised the possibility of constitutional amendments in terms of clipping the powers of the judiciary. The core legacy of the post-Edsa Revolution Constitution is the expanded powers of judicial review. Remove those powers and the judiciary becomes the most pitiful branch of government.

Aquino’s disdain for the Court’s adverse ruling on the DAP warped his sense of institutional proportion. He could not be restrained from, as NYT put it, “butting heads” with the judicial branch. More bluntly, he could not stand a Court that could say no to him.

For that matter, he could not stand any one or any institution that could say no to his whims. He has been utterly spoiled by a Cabinet of pathetic yes-men and an inner circle recruited principally to flatter him.

The problem, it seems, is attitudinal. Aquino could not stand criticism or unsolicited advice. He is by no means a consensus-builder who thrives on diversity of thought. He seems most comfortable listening to echoes of his own voice.

The repercussions of what might appear to be a character flaw is, however, institutional. This is a presidency that does not relish intelligent debate. Because of that, it impoverishes civic discourse. Instead of conducting policy debate, Aquino’s speeches are almost inevitably about taking potshots at pet peeves.

Democracy cannot thrive in the shadow of intolerant leadership. The dynamics of institutional checks and balances cannot flourish when the executive branch is constantly trying to suborn the other branches.

If this presidency is behaving erratically and irresponsibly, the blame must be put squarely on the horse-whisperers who have managed to choke the Palace with the tightest cordon sanitaire in our political history. This stranglehold was made possible because Aquino takes ideas depending on who said them and not on the independent merits of certain propositions.

Because they nurture political interests separate from the objective political interests of the President, these gatekeepers threaten to reduce their leader to laughing stock. Read carefully, the NYT editorial mocks Aquino, admonishing him to remain within constitutional bounds.

Last week, the Palace gate-keepers tried something truly inane.

In a vain effort to offset the propaganda impact of a protest rally at the Luneta, personalities identified with the Balay faction (Mar Roxas and his LP chorus) tried to convene a conference of “people’s organizations” supporting the continuation of Aquino’s “reforms.” That badly attended conference was composed entirely of Aquino appointees — LP apparatchiks and assorted hangers-on who owe their power and their pelf to the beleaguered leader.

Palace spokesmen, meanwhile, responded to the damaging NYT editorial with characteristic small-minded arrogance. While their trolls attacked the editorial as some sort of foreign intervention in our domestic affairs, the Palace mouthpieces tried to talk down the commentary as the product of people who do not understand our politics.

What is there the NYT failed to understand the mouthpieces do not say.

The prestigious paper, with the ability to shape global appreciation of our president, is simply saying Aquino must abide by the rules — and perhaps start behaving like mature and responsible political leaders do.

Jerry

By the time I entered the UP as a freshman, Jerry Barican was already an iconic figure. He was a key leader of the student movement that culminated in the First Quarter Storm. He was chair of the UP Student Council during a time it required extraordinary intelligence and exceptional eloquence to rise in campus politics.

Because I looked up to him with such awe, it was with great pride I shared the editorial page with him at the Manila Standard during the nineties. I always listened intently to his brilliant discourses, as an apprentice would to a sage, when we both served at the DBP board. I was always honored whenever he yielded to my judgment.

I saw Jerry a few months ago in a small dinner with other veterans of the turbulent decades. The conversation was memorable, as is usual when Jerry is there. We agreed to get together soon to conspire once more.

The last notice I received said Jerry was on life support after a massive stroke. Mortality tames the most tireless minds.

Faith in the Pinoy SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 1, 2014 - 12:00am 2 11 googleplus0 0


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

Out of 100 million Filipinos, the nation’s hope lies only in one person: Noynoy Aquino. This is hubris, manifested in the hope of keeping him in office for another six years after his single term ends.

President Aquino should have more faith in the capabilities of his own compatriots. In fact he and his bunch of whispering sycophants – the bulong brigade – should have the humility to believe that perhaps someone might actually do better than him as president.

Especially because when Noynoy Aquino accepted his party’s draft and ran for president, serious doubts were also cast on his capability to govern a land of the ungovernable.

To this day, certain individuals even within his inner circle manifest such doubts, and tend to underestimate him.

Doubts were also raised on how he could sustain his straight path or daang matuwid within the framework of the country’s transactional politics. We’re seeing the results in his current woes regarding the scrapping of the congressional pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

P-Noy didn’t promise us vision, and it shows in the nation’s current woes. He does have one clear target: to see at least one of the prominent personalities currently detained without bail for plunder convicted before his term ends.

He has won bruising battles along the way, getting rid of an ombudsman and a chief justice that he considered obstructions along his straight path. He vanquished powerful lobbies to enact the Reproductive Health and sin tax laws.

But his anti-corruption campaign is losing traction as his allies are implicated in crooked deals, and he is perceived to be protecting them.

* The New York Times weighed in with an editorial in its Aug. 28 edition, headlined, “Political mischief in the Philippines.” Criticizing P-Noy’s interest in a second term, which will require constitutional amendment, the NYT op ed observed that “there will always be unfinished business” for any president.

This was true even for P-Noy’s mom Corazon, the NYT observed: “Despite her efforts, the presidency remained a fount of patronage and a source of corruption.”

The newspaper said P-Noy “should stop butting heads with the court and gracefully step down when his term is up.”

Malacañang brushed aside the article, saying the NYT was not well versed on the issues involved. Perhaps P-Noy feels he doesn’t have to listen to foreigners, who are not his “bosses.” But he can listen to constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, who has advised him to step aside after six years and give others a chance.

Specifically, Bernas said others such as Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago should be given a chance – an endorsement that energized the senator, who is fighting late-stage cancer.

We don’t know how serious Bernas was in his endorsement. But whoever succeeds P-Noy, he or she will be the people’s choice, warts and all. It will be democracy at work; it will be people power at work. Unless dagdag-bawas, or vote padding and shaving, comes into play, as some quarters fear if a term extension fails.

Filipinos have tried all sorts of presidents: brilliant lawyers, brilliant economists, a soldier, a movie star-turned-mayor, a housewife with a degree in math and a lot of guts.

We have been disappointed by many of our choices, but hope springs eternal for the Pinoy. And we tend to pin high hopes on elections in bringing change. Through the power of the ballot, we hope the next president will be better than the incumbent.

And no matter how much we criticize our electorate for putting incompetent, illiterate clowns and accomplished thieves in high office, we still want to respect the choices expressed in a free vote. This is both the strength and weakness of democracy.

We want leadership change to happen with the regularity prescribed by law. If anyone wants to tinker with term limits, the change should not benefit incumbent officials.

This is what P-Noy is up against in his desire to lift his term limit and seek reelection. Palace officials insist there is mass support for a second term for P-Noy. Critics scoff that you know people have been in power too long when they start believing their own press releases.

* * *

At one point, P-Noy said you have to be a masochist to want to serve more than six years in this country. Public expectations of a president are so high and we tend to believe the government is supposed to solve all our problems.

Many of the individuals who do well in their chosen fields in this country are those who don’t have such expectations. They are people who intuitively understand the message in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, about asking not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

There are always role models to be found in the annual Ramon Magsaysay Awards. This year the RM awardee for emergent leadership is a Filipino teacher, Randy Halasan, whose work is dedicated to bringing education and livelihood opportunities to the Matigsalug tribe in Davao.

This year’s awardees, according to the award foundation’s president Carmencita Abella, “are creating bold solutions” to entrenched problems in their societies.

The other awardees are Hu Shuli of China for her work as a journalist; Indonesia’s Saur Marlina Manurung for her protection and improvement of the lives of her country’s indigenous forest people; Omara Khan Masoudi, for protecting the cultural heritage of his conflict-torn country, Afghanistan; and China’s Wang Canfa, for making environmental law work to prevent the abuse of human rights. An organization is also being honored – The Citizens Foundation of Pakistan – for running schools that provide quality education for all, regardless of creed, gender or economic status.

Magsaysay, who rose to the top from humble origins, did not finish his four-year term, with his presidency tragically cut short by a plane crash. But in just a little over three years, he accomplished enough to leave a legacy of good government that endures nearly six decades after his death.

“The presidency is so great an honor, no one deserves to have it again.” That line, as we all know, is from Cory Aquino.

P-Noy and his team seem to be as stunned by negative reactions to his possible term extension as the unanimous Supreme Court ruling against the DAP. From his reactions, P-Noy seems to be taking it as a personal rejection: How can people not want him to be in power for six more years?

His wounded indignation is matched only by the pained reaction of many of his admirers to his hope for a term extension: “Oh no, Noy, how could you?”

Teach me to laugh, Lord! AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven de Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 1, 2014 - 12:00am 0 15 googleplus0 1


By Sara Soliven de Guzman

There are many things about the headlines today that bring out the cynic in the Filipino. It is the moment of dreary promises, stories told and speeches made – reaffirming the same old platitudes. Democracy? Freedom? Independence? Have we really freed ourselves of colonial mentality or our own faults to say the least?

Times are truly difficult for Juan de la Cruz, not necessarily for the rich who cannot feel the ill-effects of hard life. I don’t really think it’s because Juan is tamad (or lazy) but because his government is not functioning well. Instead of leading us to the road of progress, they halt or delay it for some reason only known to them.

Take for instance the legislative branch, the law-making body. They should formulate laws that would govern the lives of citizens and maintain peace and order in the community. Where are their carefully crafted laws? Why don’t we feel the change? Instead of creating laws that should improve our quality of life or straighten up government policies, they continue to create laws that serve and protect their own interests. What’s worse is that these lawmakers are the lawbreakers. Sanamagan!

Haven’t you noticed that the “bills” prioritized are closer to their personal interests or to their known ‘family’-owned corporations in the cities or the provinces? Instead of thinking of the country’s development, they are obviously thinking of what they will gain in the guise of country development.

What used to be a venue for intelligent discourse on laws governing the land has become a place where theatrical acts happen much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the Filipino people. But then again these so-called esteemed congressmen and senators are like emperors parading in sheepskin with sheepish smiles plastered on their faces, perhaps saying…you cannot touch us, we are the powerful and mighty…so just be quiet, raise no objections, ask no questions and your lives will be better. In fact, something worth their time for the country’s future needs a lot of ‘lobbying.’

* At this point in our history, our solons should focus on reviewing contradicting laws or clarify the gray areas in some of the laws passed which have resulted in different interpretations of the executive, the judiciary and the legislative branches. There has to be a common ground for both the national and local government to work together to prevent avenues of corruption. In fact, many city and barangay ordinances are easily used to circumvent the law. Susmariosep!

It is time Congress reviews the Local Government Code that seems to be exploiting the citizens thru various ordinances. Don’t forget the Barangay and City permits that have kilometric list of requirements with their corresponding fees making Pinoys dizzy and financially drained? Obviously, this is another venue for corruption with ‘fixers’ in place.

Here is Juan de la Cruz, working so hard and paying so much to government. After paying all the required fees to the barangay, the city and to the national government he is left hungry, tired and with nothing. This is how crime develops. Our system encourages crime. Our government thinks of ways to purge its citizens to death, not thinking at all of our well- being. Surely, if public service is excellent and efficient, who will complain?

P-Noy should stop his games. One day he says he wants to extend his term with Cha-cha and the next day he suddenly withdraws his claim. Then, the following day he says he is listening to the voices of the people and will follow their lead. He did the same thing with the DAP issue and the Supreme Court. First, he radically attacks them; then, Malacañang withdraws their actions; then complete silence until the announcement of installing Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza to the Supreme Court who Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno clearly opposed due to ‘integrity’ issues.

Seriously, Mr. President are you confusing or plainly distracting us from the major issues of your day? Such is not an act of a statesman and a gentleman at that. We want the DOTC- MRT problem, the MMDA- traffic problem, the BUDGET- DAP/ Pork Barrel issue, the Department of Agriculture issue (on fertilizers, coconut and rice), the Supreme Court and Executive branch issue, the Bureau of Customs and truck ban problem (that is harming product deliveries and sales), the K-12 program, the Energy crisis, poverty, hunger, unemployment, corruption, crime, healthcare, etc. – not to mention the heartbreaking Torre de Manila issue (covering the Jose Rizal Shrine in Luneta) – RESOLVED! Such shallow and seemingly minor wishes and yet this Administration finds difficulty in resolving them.

Our resilience is being tested every day, every minute and every second. Our air is polluted, our trees are gone and our beautiful islands are exploited. And as we get older and wiser in life, it becomes worse because we cannot seem to even twitch our cheeks to smile or laugh. We want to find humor in all these but end up mad and frustrated.

It is typical of Filipino’s greatness of soul in these heady and perilous days that we rage against fate. It is the measure of our diminished state that today we act with fury only against the bureaucracy. We continue to cry for justice, peace and unity to this day and age.

My father, the late Maximo V. Soliven (whose birth anniversary falls on September 4) always talks to me about one of his favorite heroes, Apolinario Mabini, “The Sublime Paralytic.”

When things feel rough and frustration sets in during confusing times in our country, he is reminded of a part of Mabini’s True Decalogue (1898): Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself; for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in life, the patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of the posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and happiness, honor and God... Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thy own, making her the kingdom of reason, of justice, and of labor; For if she be happy, thou together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.

But somewhere along the line, as my dad puts it, “we lost our way.” And he continues, “this day will not be lost if we resolve to retrace our steps and find the true path again.”

My dad once wrote that: “Without Ninoy Aquino’s date with the assassin at the airport tarmac on August 21, 1983, there would have been no EDSA People Power Revolution – and there would have been no President Corazon C. Aquino. Every cause has its effects.”

What “cause” can we embrace today that can give meaning to our disappointed lives? Until the Filipino’s search is completed, until he finds himself, we will have neither happiness nor rest.

Teach me to laugh, Lord, for it is in laughter a secret of healing that a man has ever sought; a militant joyousness, shaking beam and rafter that breeds new life to every word and thought! Show me the way, Lord, a humble way of life; Yet proud and eager, froth with strength and joy; Teach me the glad peal of it, the world has known; But scoffing, and heard too seldom – the laughter of man! – Maximo V. Soliven

PHNO: THANK YOU, SARA! For being around!


THE LATE MAX V. SOLIVEN. BY THE WAY, PHNO (since 1997) still miss him around, a lot!

More comments on EDSA and C5 traffic BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 4, 2014 - 12:00am 1 2 googleplus0 0


By Rey Gamboa

In response to our latest column on the traffic problem in Metro Manila, we received a number of letters from readers. Let’s hear from two of them in this column. The first comes from Robert “Ogie” Esguerra who introduces himself as a motorist. He writes:

“I read your article today about the horrendous traffic that we’ve been experiencing everyday especially in EDSA. I wrote to you to lament my disappointment with what’s going on at our main thoroughfare.

Mega projects needed

“First of all, the efforts of MMDA would be inappropriate. No matter how hard they implement rules on the road, it won’t work because what we need in EDSA are mega projects.

“Even a simple engineering student can think of the best solution. What we need to do is to tear down all flyovers on EDSA. Those structures do nothing to ease the traffic. As you can see everyday, the flyovers are becoming a big parking lot.

“After tearing down the flyovers, we should replace them with a skyway linking the existing skyway in the south. By the way, we also need to demolish the MRT. The trains should be under the new Skyway in EDSA – a subway train.

“Exits points of the EDSA skyway are Balintawak Market, Munoz, Kamuning, Crame, Ortigas, Guadalupe, Ayala, Magallanes, Edsa Taft and SM Megamall. The new MRT subway stations should be constructed at SM North, Quezon Avenue, Cubao, Ortigas, Crossing, Ayala, Magallanes and SM Megamall.

“The government should also build a subway for light vehicles parallel to subway train. To save on the cost of building these subways, they should include ventilation facilities in the middle of EDSA where the posts of EDSA Skyway are located. This will also serve as the emergency exits.

“These are the permanent solution to the traffic in EDSA. We cannot ignore the fact that we are moving forward, faster than our neighbors in the ASEAN. As the economy is growing, the demand for new vehicles also improves.

“The government can include the EDSA Skyway, MRT subway and EDSA subway to the list of PPP. Yes, there’s still hope to the historic EDSA traffic. Attention, Sec. Rogelio Singson!”

Removing constrictions

The next letter sender is Rene Montemayor who will deal in some detail about his observations along C5, a diversion road running parallel to EDSA. Please read on.

* “I read with great interest your column on traffic woes in the city. In my humble opinion, I do not see any iota of effort on the MMDA’s (Metro Manila Development Authority) part to address in a systematic way the traffic mess in Metro Manila.

“A few years ago, I discussed this subject with a senior engineer in Toyota Motors Corp. in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. He simply said that “any engineer worth his salt will automatically use engineering principles to study in a logical and systematic manner the traffic problem. An engineer will examine for example the traffic in any thoroughfare and determine what is consistently causing the slowdown of vehicles in any part of the thoroughfare. Normally, it is a constriction and an engineer will find ways of removing that constriction.”

“In my almost daily route starting in the Libis area going south, the first major constriction I see is the two-lane “overpass” that starts after the Caltex gas station after the Green Valley Country Club. From three or four lanes, people who are going to Kalayaan and the Bonifacio Global City are forced into this two-lane overpass.

“I guess we can’t do much about this reality in the near term. However, this situation is exacerbated by the usual presence of traffic cops who try to catch motorists who are in violation of the number coding. To me, the number coding is an attempt to lessen the traffic mess. However, the presence of these cops worsens the traffic mess because motorists are naturally curious and their attention is always drawn to these traffic cops.

“MMDA should try to experiment whether the absence of these traffic cops will tend to lessen the slow down of vehicles. These cops should instead position themselves in other areas where their presence will not slow down vehicles.

“The second possible area is the point near the place where the overpass goes over the Pasig River and the C5 traffic merges with the vehicles from the surface level cars coming from the Pasig area. It is good that the barrier separating these merging lanes has been shortened.

“When there was an experiment to make longer the barrier, the traffic along C5 became much, much worse. That makes sense because the cars along C5 now have a chance to go into more lanes. The more you prolong this possibility, the slower the flow will be.

“In some expressways in the (United) States, when the oncoming traffic from entrances slow down or impede the traffic along the expressways, there are traffic lights installed in these entrances to control the cars flowing into the main stream.

“I do not think there is any need at this point to do something like this because the system of traffic lights in the intersections below the overpass already in a way restricts the traffic that comes from below and merges with the traffic going south along C5.

“The next minor constriction I see is the four lanes of the overpass over the Pasig River that go into three lanes because of the first of two elevated U turns. I guess we cannot do anything about this elevated U turn. Anyway, there is another lane somewhere below the elevated U turn that allows vehicles that are turning right on Kalayaan to take.

“The next and last constriction, and perhaps the most serious one is the area just below the second elevated U turn just before the first entrance to Bonifacio Global City. Here the slower vehicles coming from the service road merge with the ones traveling faster or should be traveling faster on C5.

“Unfortunately, sometimes there are garbage trucks that are parked in this area or jeepneys that are traveling slowly. Also, the cars that are taking the first among a few entrances into the Bonifacio Global City somehow slow down or are slowed down by the traffic that has backed up to this area.

“Compounding the problem is the fact that the grade or slope of the road starts to go up and that naturally slows down the cars. Finally, this is the area also where there are some potholes that are repaired occasionally, but the repair has not been done well enough and cars are not able to speed up as much as they can.

“If I were an engineer, this is the major constriction that needs more study and changes. I have mentioned some problems in this particular area that slow down the cars and are probably the major cause of all that traffic along C5.

“Should not the national government and MMDA spend some resources to study these particular constrictions? The MMDA should publish the detailed results of their studies on C5 and other major roadways in the city.

“I have seen a particular study done by Japanese consultants from a more macro view of the needed facilities and major infrastructures that will have to be built in the next few years to ease the traffic mess, but even before that, there are solutions that I feel can significantly reduce the amount of traffic that all motorists are experiencing everyday.”

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Executive overreach SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 13 googleplus0 0


By Ernesto M. Maceda

President Aquino has accused the Supreme Court (SC) of judicial “overreach” in declaring the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

But now, the uniform 54-4 votes on all three impeachment complaints by the House Committee on Justice once again confirms the President’s control of the House of Representatives.

This same is true of the House as it refused to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill which Malacañang opposes.

It was also indicated when the President was successful in pushing an impeachment complaint against then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. 188 congressmen also signed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

What is doubly sad is the President’s control of the Senate as shown by the Corona impeachment vote.

There are signs too that the Commission on Audit (COA) is subservient to the President as it has not released an audit of pork barrel funds released from 2010 to 2013.

Drilon suspends JPE, Jinggoy

Acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III has validly questioned Senate President Frank Drilon’s unilateral suspension of Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who are facing plunder charges over the pork barrel fund scam before the Sandiganbayan.

Estrada said he wants Drilon to allow all its members to vote on whether one of their colleagues should be suspended, pointing out Senate President Drilon is not the Senate and the Senate should decide as a collegial body as it involves a member or members of the Senate.

The senator also said that as a co-equal branch of government, the legislature can choose whether or not to implement suspensions by making its own decision.

Voting to expel or suspend a senator requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the Senate.

* Estrada stated the House of Representatives has precedents where congressmen were ordered suspended by the Ombudsman but this was not immediately implemented after lawmakers were asked to vote.

The House of Representatives has refused to enforce a decision for suspension of a member by the Ombudsman.

SC voids airtime limits

The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that the airtime limits of 180 minutes for radio ads and 120 minutes for TV ads imposed by 2 Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolutions is null and void.

The SC said it is against the freedom of expression, the right of speech and of the press mandated by the Constitution.

The SC decision will be favorable to rich candidates who can place unlimited number of TV and radio ads.

The Comelec limits were questioned by TV and radio companies.

MRT breakdown

Another Metro Rail Transit (MRT) breakdown happened last Monday, with no services from North Avenue to Shaw Boulevard, because of signaling system disruption. On Tuesday, a door opened while the train was running.

MRT Holdings Inc., the majority shareholder of Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), had been proposing upgrades in anticipation of reaching 500,000-passenger design capacity of the MRT-3, but DOTC did not act on these proposals.

On P-Noy’s MRT challenge, Malacañang said that the President need not ride the MRT to feel or understand the plight of commuters. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed for understanding from the public, saying the President is also dealing with far greater problems.

At the Senate hearing, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya admitted that the 48 new trains will be completely delivered by 2016.

The lack of an efficient mass transportation system is another failure of the Aquino administration. Senator Ralph Recto blamed the DOTC for lack of foresight.

Three cops arrested

Police Officer 3 Domino Alipio, who is engaged in a money lending business, shot 4 teachers and wounded 3 others at the Pangasinan National High School (PNHS) in Lingayen. Alipio fumed when he was not able to collect loan payments from teachers. Alipio entered the PNHS campus and fired at will using a pistol and a rifle. The shooting resulted in the death of Florenda Flores, a teacher of Labrador National High School and Alipio’s agent; Jonalito Urayan, Alipio’s collector; Acedillo Sison and Linda Sison, both teachers of PHNS. PNHS teachers Ferdinand Entimano, Jovito Jimenez and Juliet Molano were shot and wounded.

Senior Police Officer (SPO) 1 Michael Lescano, a former member of the defunct regional special operation group 4A (RSOG4A), was arrested by Batangas police for kidnapping and murder of Raff Rufino Katigbak. Katigbak was found dead under a bridge in Barangay Sto. Toribio, Lipa City. Lescano is detailed in the office of Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, General Alan Purisima.

Police Officer 2 Edgar Angel, a Pasay City policeman, was arrested for drug peddling and for killing car racer Ferdinand “Enzo” Pastor in exchange for P100,000.

These 3 cases refute General Purisima’s claim that the Edgar Angel crime is an isolated one.

Chief Inspector Roderick Medrano, an officer of Quezon City Police Station 4, was shot dead in an ambush by 3 unidentified men at the corner of Zabarte Road and San Diego Drive. Medrano’s area of responsibility covers the city’s Novaliches district.

Violeta Almazan, 62, school district supervisor of Midsayap, North Cotabato and her husband, Gervacio Almazan, were shot dead in an ambush in Pikit, North Cotabato.

MMDA Officer Russel Jun Sindac was shot and wounded in Cavite.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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