MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL/OPINION

OPINION by Atty. Dodo Dulay: PNoy's DELUSION OF SUCCESS  

SEPT 30 --The “working visit” of PNoy to Europe and the United States lasting for almost two weeks turned out to be nothing more than a self-aggrandizing junket. And what better way to stretch the truth about his accomplishments – and enhance his image and importance – than brag before a captive international audience and then demonize his predecessor and favorite arch nemesis Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In a speech before students and faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Aquino said: “At the end of [Arroyo’s] regime, our people were so apathetic to all the scandals and issues affecting her, and the government’s inability to effect change, that the overwhelming ambition of many was to leave the country.”

According to PNoy, this is why “an estimated 10 million of our countrymen reside abroad” to work so that they could send their children to school and build their own house, or simply to improve their lives. The truth, however, is that not much has changed during PNoy’s watch. Based on government figures, PNoy’s touted “achievements” over the past four years has not dampened the desire or resolve of millions of our countrymen to work or live overseas. During the last full year of the Arroyo administration in 2009, there were around 1.4 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that were deployed abroad. In 2012, a mere two years into the Aquino administration, the number of our countrymen leaving to work in foreign shores jumped to 1.802 million. Meanwhile, the number of Filipino workers hired abroad last year reached 1.836 million – the highest ever deployment of Filipino workers – surpassing the 2012 deployment figure.

So if, as PNoy claims, he has successfully “transformed” the country, why have more Filipinos “abandoned ship” so to speak, to seek their fortune overseas during his administration? Why has labor migration remained a necessity instead of a choice for many working-class Filipinos until now? Speaking before an audience of French policy experts and researchers, PNoy also boasted that the Philippines is a nation whose people have a newfound hope and optimism.
True, Filipinos may be hopeful and optimistic but it certainly isn’t with the Aquino government. In a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted last month, the net satisfaction rating of the Aquino administration nosedived to a new record low in all geographic areas and across socioeconomic classes following the decision of the Supreme Court declaring the Palace-concocted Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. *READ MORE...

ALSO by Francisco Tatad: Palace plot to ‘neutralize’ Cardinal Vidal fails 

After one long month of trying to ignore the multisectoral call on President B. S. Aquino 3rd to step down, Malacañang and its propagandists last week finally began to do some “damage control.” This came after the Times ran my last column on the Oct. 1 Cebu assembly (“An alternative government”?) as its Oct. 3 banner story; after former Vice President Noli de Castro discussed it on ABS-CBN; and after an avalanche of commentaries followed in the social media and several independent radio stations. Their first move was to try to create the impression that it was only in Cebu where the assembly convened by the National Transformation Council had asked that Aquino step down, but that Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, whom they assumed was the source of this call, has denied asking Aquino “to resign.”

It was a clever attempt to manipulate the facts. But it failed to attain its objective, and has not blunted the call for Aquino’s stepping down. The ouster call—for that is what it really is—was first made through the Lipa Declaration on August 27, 2014. The Declaration, issued at the end of a one-day assembly hosted by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, contained some of the most powerful words ever uttered by any citizens group against the administration. It went viral online. But it was totally ignored by the conscript media, which routinely suppress anything adverse or unpalatable to Malacañang. This is part of what it said:

“Unbridled and unpunished corruption and widespread misuse of political and economic power in all layers of society have not only destroyed our common conception of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, legal and illegal, but also put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of our development for their own selfish ends; “Far from preserving and defending the Constitution, as he swore to do when he assumed office, the incumbent President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has subverted and violated it by corrupting the Congress, intimidating the Judiciary, taking over the Treasury, manipulating the automated voting system, and perverting the constitutional impeachment process;

“President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has also damaged the moral fabric of Philippine society by bribing members of Congress not only to impeach and remove a sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice but also to enact a law which disrespects the right of human beings at the earliest and most vulnerable stages of their lives, in defiance not only of the Constitution but above all of the moral law, the customs, culture and consciences of Filipinos. “Therefore, faithful to the objective moral law and the universally honored constitutional principle that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them, we declare that President Aquino has lost the moral right to lead the nation, and has become a danger to the Philippine democratic and republican state and to the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual wellbeing of the Filipino people. “We further declare that we have lost all trust and confidence in President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd, and we call upon him to immediately relinquish his position.” * READ MORE...

ALSO by Francisco Tatad: CEBU ASSEMBLY URGES TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL TO PUSH AQUINO TO QUIT- An ‘alternative government’?  

The heat is on. From Lipa, Batangas on August 27 to Cebu City on Wednesday, Oct. 1, the assembly convened by the National Transformation Council has pursued its call on President B. S. Aquino 3rd to step down. Not only has he sinned and continues to sin against the Constitution, there is also a growing belief that he was not really elected in 2010 but merely put in office by The call was first made in the Lipa Declaration, which said Aquino had lost the moral right to lead the nation and become a danger to the Philippine democratic and republican state and to the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual wellbeing of the Filipino people. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, who hosted the Lipa assembly, said Aquino must quit immediately—“now na”—-before we lose everything.

In Cebu, the call became much sharper. And Archbishop Arguelles’s message, much stronger. The assembly called on the Council to “pursue all necessary and available lawful means to compel President Aquino to step down at the soonest possible time” and “to immediately organize an alternative government, consisting of men and women of integrity and proven worth, in order to assure the nation and the international community that President Aquino’s removal and the prosecution and imprisonment of every culpable member of the government for corruption will not create a political vacuum.” A wide-ranging national situationer by Cebuano PhilStar columnist and talk TV host Bobit Avila and two riveting presentations by two young citizen leaders helped to sustain the energy level of the 500-strong assembly during the afternoon-long session at Mariner’s Court near Pier One. Avila found it ironic that Aquino, whose late father and mother had fought Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian rule, would now like to fiddle with the Constitution so he could stay longer in power, “Marcos-style.”

Greco Belgica, the lead petitioner before the Supreme Court against the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, showed how the Aquino regime has until now completely disregarded the High Court’s order to government prosecutors to file criminal charges against all those involved in the misuse of the PDAF and the DAP, both of which it had declared unconstitutional. He called on the Council to lead the people in filing criminal charges against all the senators and congressmen, members of the Executive Department, and the Commission on Audit for their crimes, and in making sure that all of them vacate their respective positions. Former Biliran Rep. Glen Chong for his part showed how the 2010 and 2013 national elections were thoroughly manipulated to produce “machine-elected” officials, who also turned out to be corrupt and incompetent beyond measure. Chong lost his seat in the last elections because of the PCOS manipulation.

His presentation showed the futility of holding elections in 2016, unless the Commission on Elections and the present PCOS-based automated voting system were totally abolished and replaced by a truly credible electoral system. Aside from the grievances highlighted by Belgica and Chong, the assembly flayed the Aquino regime for failing to consult adequately with the various constituencies and stakeholders in Mindanao on the proposed creation of a separate political entity for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This has provoked so much political tension in the area and rendered it vulnerable to Islamist extremism. The assembly also slammed Malacanang for the unresolved electric power crisis and Aquino’s demand for emergency powers as his solution to the problem, the corruption in the Philippine National Police leadership and PNP chief Alan Purisima’s refusal to resign despite copious charges of corruption and unexplained wealth, and the unreasonable and arbitrary taxes on the poor, including the smallest sari-sari store owners and sidewalk vendors, on the various professions and on all religious institutions. * READ MORE...

Editorial: Empathize, sympathize with the elderly 

SEPT 30 --THE Philippines observes Elderly Filipino Week on October 1-7, 2014. Every year the
gover
nment must hold this observance because of a Sept. 26, 1994 presidential proclamation
whose aim is to increase the people’s awareness of the needs and concerns of “the older persons’ sector.”  As usual it is the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) department that leads the observance since it chairs the National Steering Committee, which consists of partner agencies and senior citizens’ associations.

The celebration’s theme this year is “Ang Nakatatanda ay Yaman, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bayan, Pangalagaan kanilang Kapakanan.” [The elderly are a treasure, partners in national progress, protect their interests.] This year’s activities include: a walk for life; a forum on social Protection for seniors; “Dalaw Kalinga”– visits to “Visitorless”, indigent, sick, older prisoners; a forum on social pension; a forum on inclusive disaster risk reduction; and a photo exhibit. The elderly sector comprises 6.8 percent of the Philippine population. It is an integral part of Philippine society. The State has a responsibility to protect elderly citizens. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Erwin Tulfo: Duterte won’t run for higher office

SEPT 30 --I HAD the opportunity to talk to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte last Friday at the airport, on his way to an out of the country trip. Duterte, the most controversial local official in the land because of his no nonsense crime fighting style, said he is not running for president or vice prresident in 2016. “I am old and I just want to rest after my term as mayor of Davao ,” said the local government official, believed to be in his late 60’s or very early 70’s. The mayor’s name popped up as possible candidate for the presidential race in 2016 when Davaoeños started a signature campaign months ago prodding him to run for the highest office in the land.

As of Friday, not only do Davaoeños, but 6 million Mindanaoans wanted him to join the race to Malacañang two years from now. Still Duterte insisted he is not running for either of the two higher positions. He claimed there were other good candidates available who can run the country better. He even issued a statement last week saying he is going to shoot anybody who forces him to run for the presidency. However, instead of silencing his supporters, a “shoot me Duterte” challenge has begun. More and more people have joined in the said craze including actor Edu Manzano and my brother Mon, whose objective is to force Duterte to run in 2016 as President.*READ MORE...

ALSO by Ricardo Saludo: Three things Aquino must do for accountability 

SEPT 30 -- --Is President Benigno Aquino 3rd finally cracking down on sleaze in his government? Now being probed for allegedly excessive wealth is Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima, Aquino’s former bodyguard during his mother’s presidency. Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya faces an Ombudsman probe, along with cashiered Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol, over the MRT maintenance contract with a company linked to the two. National Food Authority chief Arthur Juan recently quit amid extortion accusations after just three months at NFA. He may be probed, unlike other resigned agency heads like Lito Alvarez and Ruffy Biazon of the Bureau of Customs, Virginia Torres of the Land Transportation Office, and Ernesto Diokno of the Bureau of Corrections.

After years of protecting his so-called Kaklase, Kakampi, Kabarilan clique of ex-schoolmates, allies, and shooting buddies, Aquino may finally be getting serious about holding the KKK to account. At least, that’s the apparent message in the recent flurry of probes and potential prosecutions. Not to mention Aquino’s Harvard speech last week, where he urged those suspecting sleaze to charge his officials. “The courts are open,” said the President. “If they think that I have dishonest people around me, then all they have to do is file an appropriate case.” This episode may remind those with long memories of strongman Ferdinand Marcos’s interview with US media during a state visit to America. Asked about coddling cronies, he revealed that tycoon Ricardo Silverio, one of his reputed associates, was being investigated. On cue, a probe into the Silverio business empire was launched.

That nationally televised uncoddling of a crony may have impressed the American press, but not Filipinos. For the biggest anomalies continued, and the presidential friends associated with them remained in place and undisturbed. And this writer cannot recall if even Silverio was charged for anything. Probe, publicize, forget Will the same thing happen today — investigate some big fish, make headlines, then forget the whole thing — or will the probe of PNP and DOTC heads lead to an honest-to-goodness campaign to hold adminstration officials accountable? Most people probably expect the investigations to eventually fade from the front pages and be forgotten. After all, that has occurred many times in this regime. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Ricardo Saludo: Why don’t Aquino officials quit over anomalies? 

OUR Tuesday column, “Three things Aquino should do for accountability,” asked if his Cabinet members and other top officials implicated in anomalies would quit, then come back after their names are cleared.
The question of resignation erupted again this week with pressure on Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima over his allegedly excessive wealth and the escalating crime, now double the 2010 rate.
Also under fire of late is Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Jose Emilio Abaya, over a maintenance contract that the DOTC-supervised, breakdown- and accident-prone Metro Rail Transit concluded with a firm allegedly part-owned by him and ousted MRT general manager Al Vitangcol.

A few others resigned in the past, but only after long controversy. Close Aquino friend Ernesto Diokno hung on as prisons head, despite the expose on wealthy, influential inmates getting long furloughs out of jail. Two other penitentiary chiefs after him also left over anomalies. All three have never been held to account for any irregularities, just like Aquino shooting buddy Virginia Torres. Her tenure as Land Transporations Office director lasted for years despite alleged improper meddling in an LTO supplier, plus gross mismanagement leading to computerization and vehicle plate problems. She was let go only last October, after she was videotaped in a casino, violating a gambling ban on government officials.
Staying on amid record smuggling Other controversial agency heads have stayed on despite far greater irregularities and, like Diokno and Torres, they remain free from accountability after leaving government. The past two Bureau of Customs commissioners, Lito Alvarez and Ruffy Biazon, stayed in their post for many months amid the biggest BoC scandals ever.

Under Alvarez, more than 2,000 containers of uninspected and untaxed cargo disappeared in transit between Manila and other Luzon ports — the worst spate of smuggling in the country. Contraband leapt five-fold to a record $19 billion a year, based on International Monetary Fund data. Biazon offered to quit after Aquino blasted Customs for an unheard-of P200 billion in smuggling losses in last year’s State of the Nation Address. But as the President has done with other top officials, he kept the Customs boss for months. Biazon left only after the pork barrel investigation implicated him.
The latest top official to offer his resignation but be retained is Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

The Supreme Court declared his Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional for illegally allocating funds to unbudgeted expenditures, realigning allocatiions outside the Executive branch, and misdeclaring “savings” in violation of explicit provisions in the General Appropriations Act defining savings. Quitting over Aquino, not anomalies
Two Aquino Cabinet members quit early in his administration, both in 2011, citing personal reasons, but were said to be unhappy with him. In June of that year, respected DOTC Secretary Jose de Jesus, public works czar under Aquino’s mother Corazon, resigned, officially for health reasons, but reputedly over Palace meddling in DOTC. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

PNoy’s delusion of success


Atty. Dodo Dulay

MANILA, OCTOBER 7, 2014
(MANILA TIMES) by ATTY. DODO DULAY - The “working visit” of PNoy to Europe and the United States lasting for almost two weeks turned out to be nothing more than a self-aggrandizing junket.

And what better way to stretch the truth about his accomplishments – and enhance his image and importance – than brag before a captive international audience and then demonize his predecessor and favorite arch nemesis Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In a speech before students and faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Aquino said: “At the end of [Arroyo’s] regime, our people were so apathetic to all the scandals and issues affecting her, and the government’s inability to effect change, that the overwhelming ambition of many was to leave the country.”

According to PNoy, this is why “an estimated 10 million of our countrymen reside abroad” to work so that they could send their children to school and build their own house, or simply to improve their lives.

The truth, however, is that not much has changed during PNoy’s watch.

Based on government figures, PNoy’s touted “achievements” over the past four years has not dampened the desire or resolve of millions of our countrymen to work or live overseas.

During the last full year of the Arroyo administration in 2009, there were around 1.4 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that were deployed abroad. In 2012, a mere two years into the Aquino administration, the number of our countrymen leaving to work in foreign shores jumped to 1.802 million.

Meanwhile, the number of Filipino workers hired abroad last year reached 1.836 million – the highest ever deployment of Filipino workers – surpassing the 2012 deployment figure.

So if, as PNoy claims, he has successfully “transformed” the country, why have more Filipinos “abandoned ship” so to speak, to seek their fortune overseas during his administration? Why has labor migration remained a necessity instead of a choice for many working-class Filipinos until now?

Speaking before an audience of French policy experts and researchers, PNoy also boasted that the Philippines is a nation whose people have a newfound hope and optimism.

True, Filipinos may be hopeful and optimistic but it certainly isn’t with the Aquino government.

In a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted last month, the net satisfaction rating of the Aquino administration nosedived to a new record low in all geographic areas and across socioeconomic classes following the decision of the Supreme Court declaring the Palace-concocted Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

* A month before, PNoy suffered the largest decline in his ratings in surveys conducted by both Pulse Asia and SWS amid the growing perception that he is not serious enough in efforts to fight corruption, coupled with allegations of selective justice which saw several Palace allies implicated in the PDAF scam evading indictment.

The plummeting ratings shouldn’t surprise Malacañang. In spite of PNoy’s spiel about the country’s economic gains, unemployment and poverty levels have not really improved during the past four years of his administration.

Adult joblessness, for instance, rose to 25.9 percent last March. The SWS notes that average adult joblessness has always been above 20 percent since May 2005, proving that PNoy’s “tuwid na daan” has not made any significant dent on widespread unemployment.

And while PNoy trumpeted his administration’s economic gains to clueless Europeans, some 55% (estimated 12.1 million) of Filipino families rated themselves as mahirap or poor in the SWS second quarter survey last July.

This explains why many working Filipinos are now voting with their feet – by moving and working abroad.

That’s a minor detail, however, to Palace propagandists who lost no time in praising PNoy’s European and North American excursion a resounding success.

So what has PNoy got to show for his P31.9-million junket? Well, not much.

Soon after arriving at NAIA, PNoy proudly declared that he had secured some US$2.3-billion worth of investments “in the sectors of manufacturing, energy, the IT-BPM sector, infrastructure and transport,” which would supposedly create 33,850 jobs in the country. “Of the $2.38 billion, some $900 million have already been committed, while $1.47 billion are prospective,” he added.

In other words, all that PNoy took home from Europe are “pledges” or the promise of a few European companies to invest in the country, most of which do not actually materialize.

And aside from Malacañang’s media statement that PNoy would be bringing with him some “good news” upon his return to Manila, no Palace official could say the amount of investments he was able to secure from his US trip, if there was any.

That’s because the good news was really about PNoy being able to buy and bring home some of his most desired gun accessories, which he couldn’t find in Manila like optics (i.e. gun scopes), a range bag, an eye and ear protection and a safe.

Now, that’s real success!

Palace plot to ‘neutralize’ Cardinal Vidal fails by FRANCISCO S. TATAD
October 5, 2014 11:15 pm


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

After one long month of trying to ignore the multisectoral call on President B. S. Aquino 3rd to step down, Malacañang and its propagandists last week finally began to do some “damage control.”

This came after the Times ran my last column on the Oct. 1 Cebu assembly (“An alternative government”?) as its Oct. 3 banner story; after former Vice President Noli de Castro discussed it on ABS-CBN; and after an avalanche of commentaries followed in the social media and several independent radio stations.

Their first move was to try to create the impression that it was only in Cebu where the assembly convened by the National Transformation Council had asked that Aquino step down, but that Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, whom they assumed was the source of this call, has denied asking Aquino “to resign.”

It was a clever attempt to manipulate the facts. But it failed to attain its objective, and has not blunted the call for Aquino’s stepping down.

The ouster call—for that is what it really is—was first made through the Lipa Declaration on August 27, 2014. The Declaration, issued at the end of a one-day assembly hosted by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, contained some of the most powerful words ever uttered by any citizens group against the administration. It went viral online. But it was totally ignored by the conscript media, which routinely suppress anything adverse or unpalatable to Malacañang.

This is part of what it said:
“Unbridled and unpunished corruption and widespread misuse of political and economic power in all layers of society have not only destroyed our common conception of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, legal and illegal, but also put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of our development for their own selfish ends;

“Far from preserving and defending the Constitution, as he swore to do when he assumed office, the incumbent President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has subverted and violated it by corrupting the Congress, intimidating the Judiciary, taking over the Treasury, manipulating the automated voting system, and perverting the constitutional impeachment process;

“President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has also damaged the moral fabric of Philippine society by bribing members of Congress not only to impeach and remove a sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice but also to enact a law which disrespects the right of human beings at the earliest and most vulnerable stages of their lives, in defiance not only of the Constitution but above all of the moral law, the customs, culture and consciences of Filipinos.

“Therefore, faithful to the objective moral law and the universally honored constitutional principle that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them, we declare that President Aquino has lost the moral right to lead the nation, and has become a danger to the Philippine democratic and republican state and to the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual wellbeing of the Filipino people.

“We further declare that we have lost all trust and confidence in President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd, and we call upon him to immediately relinquish his position.”

* The Cebu assembly enlarged upon this call. It called upon the Council “to pursue all necessary and available lawful means to compel President Aquino to step down at the soonest possible time,” and “to immediately organize an alternative government, consisting of men and women of integrity and proven worth, in order to assure the nation and the international community that Aquino’s removal and the prosecution and imprisonment of every culpable member of the government for corruption will not create a political vacuum.”

To the assembly, an “alternative government” had become necessary because of so many grave issues which have remained unattended to by the Aquino regime.

These include:
• The exacerbated tension in Mindanao arising from the government’s failure to consult adequately with the various communities on the peace effort, and from the threat of Islamic extremism from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria;

• The total failure, if not downright refusal, of the Aquino regime to comply with a direct order of the Supreme Court to file criminal charges against all the lawmakers and members of the Executive Department and the Commission on Audit who were involved in the grave misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, both of which the Court had declared unconstitutional;

• The total absence of any official effort to reform the automated election system which was thoroughly corrupted and debased by the Commission on Elections in the 2010 and 2013 elections, but which the administration is once again preparing to use in the projected 2016 elections, without restoring the safety features and accuracy mechanisms which the Comelec had illegally removed in the previous two elections;

• The arbitrary imposition of unreasonable taxes on the poor, including the smallest sari-sari store owners and sidewalk vendors, on the various professions and on all religious institutions, without any public hearing or subsequent accounting, ostensibly for the purpose of raising revenue to support government operations, but in effect feeding the politicians’ insatiable appetite for corruption;

• The unresolved electric power crisis which has brought about the most expensive electricity rates in the world amid extended power outages that threaten to throw the country back into a literally new Dark Age, and for which the only solution imagined by Aquino is the grant of emergency powers by Congress to him;

• The unresolved corruption scandal in the leadership of the Philippine National Police, which has affected the morale of the entire organization and public confidence in the law enforcers.

Neither in Lipa nor in Cebu did the assembly ask Aquino “to resign.” The assembly merely used the word “relinquish” his position or “step down.” The choice of words was deliberate. Those who framed the language believed Aquino was the product of an illegitimate electoral process—one conducted by Smartmatic, a Venezuelan firm, rather than by the Commission on Elections, using precinct count optical scan voting machines that had been divested of all their safety features and accuracy mechanisms, in violation of law. The assembly looked at Aquino as a de facto president.

In both Lipa and Cebu, it was the assembly, through the outcome document, that called upon Aquino to step down. It was not Cardinal Vidal at all. So they were asking him the wrong question when they asked him whether he was the one who had asked Aquino “to resign.” Not even Archbishop Arguelles, who described Aquino as “anti-God, anti-Filipino, anti-Constitution, anti-family and anti-life,” and gave the strongest statement in both assemblies, asked Aquino “to resign.” He simply asked him “to go,” to “fade away from a position he has not deserved.”

Malacañang seems to believe it has much to gain from exploiting Vidal’s statement that he has not asked Aquino “to resign.” It has nothing to gain. Vidal has not disowned the act of the assembly, which is supported by the Catholic, Protestant, and Islamic spiritual and moral leaders of the National Transformation Council. And that is the most important thing.

But Malacanang’s effort to ‘neutralize’ Vidal’s presence in the NTC-initiated assemblies and in the Council itself is understandable. For although now an emeritus, the cardinal remains the most senior, and probably still the most influential, churchman in the Philippine Catholic Church. He also has the most extensive experience in regime change, having played a distinct role in two regime changes during the last 28 years.

In 1986, he was president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines when Cory Aquino ran against Marcos in that year’s snap presidential election. So much cheating was reported during that election that the CBCP was compelled to issue a statement saying Marcos had lost his moral ascendancy because of the reported fraudulence. That statement served to provide the moral basis for the EDSA uprising, which ousted Marcos and paved the way for Cory’s assumption as “revolutionary president.”

In 2001, at the height of the ouster move against then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, following his botched Senate impeachment trial, the cardinal advised “Erap” to peacefully vacate Malacanang in order to avoid bloodshed, for the sake of the people. This paved the way for then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s nonviolent takeover.

In July of 2005, Vidal accompanied the late former president Cory Aquino and several other bishops in calling on the embattled president Arroyo in Malacanang. Unbeknownst to Vidal, Cory had gone there to ask for GMA’s resignation.

According to a GMA Cabinet member present in that meeting, a couple of bishops— Luis Antonio Tagle, now cardinal and Archbishop of Manila, and Socrates Villegas, now Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and president of the CBCP—pressed for her resignation, but Vidal excused himself, saying he had come to Malacañang only to accompany Cory, without knowing what she would be discussing with the president.

In the end, the CBCP, under the leadership of Davao Archbishop (now emeritus) Fernando R. Capalla, decided in plenary that they could not ask GMA to resign, but neither could they prevent others from asking her to do so. “Restoring Trust: A Plea for Moral Values in Philippine Politics,” a CBCP statement dated July 10, 2005, explains this in full.

Last week in Cebu, Vidal spelled out the moral principles governing the Church’s involvement in politics. Citing the social teachings of the Church, Gaudium et Spes in particular, he said that although priests and pastors should not get involved in politics, they must launch into the deep and help resolve the moral crisis and all its political manifestations and consequences.

Apparently, Malacañang saw that Vidal retained a lot of clout among the Catholic faithful, and so much deference and respect from the other confessions. Aquino also probably saw the clear prospect of an intense Philippine Catholic revival taking place upon Pope Francis’s pastoral visit next January, Cebu’s hosting of the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016, and the nationwide celebration of the 500th year anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.

All this could have figured in the plot to try to neutralize the cardinal. But across the country, there is a growing convergence among Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders in the effort to transform the nation through the National Transformation Council. The wicked plot can only fail.

CEBU ASSEMBLY URGES TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL TO PUSH AQUINO TO QUIT
An ‘alternative government’?
October 2, 2014 11:32 pm by FRANCISCO S. TATAD FIRST THINGS FIRST


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

The heat is on.

From Lipa, Batangas on August 27 to Cebu City on Wednesday, Oct. 1, the assembly convened by the National Transformation Council has pursued its call on President B. S. Aquino 3rd to step down.

Not only has he sinned and continues to sin against the Constitution, there is also a growing belief that he was not really elected in 2010 but merely put in office by The call was first made in the Lipa Declaration, which said Aquino had lost the moral right to lead the nation and become a danger to the Philippine democratic and republican state and to the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual wellbeing of the Filipino people.

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, who hosted the Lipa assembly, said Aquino must quit immediately—“now na”—-before we lose everything.

In Cebu, the call became much sharper. And Archbishop Arguelles’s message, much stronger. The assembly called on the Council to “pursue all necessary and available lawful means to compel President Aquino to step down at the soonest possible time” and “to immediately organize an alternative government, consisting of men and women of integrity and proven worth, in order to assure the nation and the international community that President Aquino’s removal and the prosecution and imprisonment of every culpable member of the government for corruption will not create a political vacuum.”

A wide-ranging national situationer by Cebuano PhilStar columnist and talk TV host Bobit Avila and two riveting presentations by two young citizen leaders helped to sustain the energy level of the 500-strong assembly during the afternoon-long session at Mariner’s Court near Pier One. Avila found it ironic that Aquino, whose late father and mother had fought Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian rule, would now like to fiddle with the Constitution so he could stay longer in power, “Marcos-style.”

Greco Belgica, the lead petitioner before the Supreme Court against the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, showed how the Aquino regime has until now completely disregarded the High Court’s order to government prosecutors to file criminal charges against all those involved in the misuse of the PDAF and the DAP, both of which it had declared unconstitutional.

He called on the Council to lead the people in filing criminal charges against all the senators and congressmen, members of the Executive Department, and the Commission on Audit for their crimes, and in making sure that all of them vacate their respective positions.

Former Biliran Rep. Glen Chong for his part showed how the 2010 and 2013 national elections were thoroughly manipulated to produce “machine-elected” officials, who also turned out to be corrupt and incompetent beyond measure.

Chong lost his seat in the last elections because of the PCOS manipulation. His presentation showed the futility of holding elections in 2016, unless the Commission on Elections and the present PCOS-based automated voting system were totally abolished and replaced by a truly credible electoral system.

Aside from the grievances highlighted by Belgica and Chong, the assembly flayed the Aquino regime for failing to consult adequately with the various constituencies and stakeholders in Mindanao on the proposed creation of a separate political entity for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This has provoked so much political tension in the area and rendered it vulnerable to Islamist extremism.

The assembly also slammed Malacanang for the unresolved electric power crisis and Aquino’s demand for emergency powers as his solution to the problem, the corruption in the Philippine National Police leadership and PNP chief Alan Purisima’s refusal to resign despite copious charges of corruption and unexplained wealth, and the unreasonable and arbitrary taxes on the poor, including the smallest sari-sari store owners and sidewalk vendors, on the various professions and on all religious institutions.

* In addition to prosecuting virtually the entire officialdom for corruption and overhauling the electoral system, the assembly called on the Council to conduct extensive consultations in Mindanao to obtain an authentic consensus on how to solve the long-festering intercultural problem there, free from any unwarranted foreign intervention; to support efforts to inform the public about the utter futility of elections so long as the electoral system remained the same; to help citizens resist unjust and unreasonable taxation; to help clean up the PNP; and to help craft a comprehensive strategy on energy development, biased in favor of the general public rather than the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors.

It was the first time that any group openly called for the setting up of an “alternative government.” A “government in waiting” or a “shadow government” is a normal feature of parliamentary government, but not of the presidential system. In the present case, however, the proponents deemed it necessary to preclude the possibility of a vacuum arising in case Aquino steps down, and should the same opposition to Aquino confront those in the line of presidential succession. It should also prevent Aquino from saying that he just could not step down now because nobody would take over.

But it remains to be seen how the Council would respond to this proposal. Since its founding in Cebu three years ago, the Council has refrained from disclosing the identity of its members. Under its rules, members may divulge their own membership but not that of anybody else. And its declared policy is not to try to succeed Aquino, whom it wants out, but simply to fix the system so that the rule of law and the constitutional order could be restored, and the nation could finally begin to hold clean and honest elections once the electoral system has been made credible.

Arguelles called the Aquino government a “criminal regime,” which was also “anti-God, anti-Filipino, anti-life, and anti-Constitution.” It must go now for the good of all, he said. We need it, if we are to regain our status as a God-centered nation.

Unlike the Lipa assembly, which was formally hosted by Archbishop Arguelles, the Cebu assembly did not have official episcopal participation. Archbishop Jose Palma was still in Rome and could not make it to the assembly, although he sent a message welcoming the meeting.

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the archbishop emeritus of Cebu, who was also present in Lipa, presided over the Holy Mass in honor of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, which opened the event. He led the delegation of bishops, but having retired in 2011, his participation did not carry any official color.

The other bishops included Arguelles, Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz of Zamboanga, Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan and Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao, whose delayed flight to Cebu from Manila, after arriving on the same day from the United States, enabled him to catch up just the tail-end of the meeting.

Bishop Pio Tica and Pastor Arthur Corpuz led the participants from the Protestant sector, while Eid Kabalu, former spokesman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and now vice chairman of the Bangsamoro Transformation Council, led the Islamic delegation.

The cardinal clarified to the assembly the role of the Catholic Church in the Council. He had earlier played a central role in two previous regime changes. In 1986, as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, he issued the CBCP statement saying Marcos had lost his moral ascendancy after the highly controversial snap presidential elections.

And in 2001, he advised the then besieged President Joseph Ejercito Estrada to avoid bloodshed for the sake of the people and to peacefully vacate Malacañang.

This time he said,“the political dysfunctions we are witnessing… are mere symptoms of a more profound moral and spiritual crisis,” for which the entire nation must find a cure. “Although priests and pastors should not get involved in partisan politics, they must launch into the deep and help resolve the moral crisis, and all its political manifestations and consequences,” he said.

There was no mention of the role of the Armed Forces in compelling Aquino to quit. But in Lipa, the Assembly called on the AFP, as the constitutional protector of the people and the State, to protect the Council from any repressive action from the Aquino government. There has been no perceptible reaction from the AFP.

But many, if not most, members of the Council are confident that the AFP as an institution will always act on the side of the people rather than on the side of a “criminal regime.”

Editorial: Empathize, sympathize with the elderly  September 30, 2014 11:37 pm


THE FILIPINO ELDERLY

THE Philippines observes Elderly Filipino Week on October 1-7, 2014. Every year the government must hold this observance because of a Sept. 26, 1994 presidential proclamation whose aim is to increase the people’s awareness of the needs and concerns of “the older persons’ sector.”

As usual it is the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) department that leads the observance since it chairs the National Steering Committee, which consists of partner agencies and senior citizens’ associations. The celebration’s theme this year is “Ang Nakatatanda ay Yaman, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bayan, Pangalagaan kanilang Kapakanan.” [The elderly are a treasure, partners in national progress, protect their interests.]

This year’s activities include: a walk for life; a forum on social Protection for seniors; “Dalaw Kalinga”– visits to “Visitorless”, indigent, sick, older prisoners; a forum on social pension; a forum on inclusive disaster risk reduction; and a photo exhibit.

The elderly sector comprises 6.8 percent of the Philippine population. It is an integral part of Philippine society. The State has a responsibility to protect elderly citizens.

* Republic Act (RA) 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, provides more benefits and privileges granted to older persons. They are entitled a 20 percent discount on the purchase of certain goods and services, a special 5 percent discount on prime commodities and basic necessities, and a 5 percent utility discount on electric and water consumption.

Many stores, specially drugstores, find ways to refuse to give these legally required discounts. They don’t give discounts if the Senior Citizen’s ID is issued by another city, despite the law stating that the OSCA ID is nationally valid. In fact the new law requires stores to give discounts to seniors who have no OSCA ID if they can show a passport or a driver’s license or any other official proof that they are 60 years old or older.

RA 9994 also entitles eligible indigent senior citizens to a social pension of P500 monthly. This government social pension program for indigent seniors is being implemented by the DSWD.

The DSWD also manages four residential care services located in Quezon City, Rizal province, Davao City and Zamboanga City. In these residential homes, caregivers attend to older persons who have been abandoned and neglected by their families.

There are also group homes for older persons that provide community-based alternative living arrangement and senior citizens centers that provide recreational, educational, health and social programs designed for the enjoyment and well-being of the elderly. The DSWD provides technical assistance to local government units in the management of the senior citizens centers.

These efforts to increase awareness of the elderly and appreciation for them as contributors to national progress are commendable.

There should also be a campaign to make owners, builders and the management of restaurants, malls and other public institutions–including government offices and churches–of the needs of the elderly and even young people who use wheelchairs.

Many of these buildings have no ramps for wheelchairs. Where there are ramps that allow wheelchair-bound seniors to enter buildings, the wheelchairs are blocked by two- or three-inch high dividers on the floor at the entrances and between rooms.

Most churches and chapels have steps on their entrances and no ramps for wheelchairs. It only shows that the minds of many mall, department store and restaurant owners, managers and builders–as well as bishops, parish priests, Protestant ministers and government officials–have yet to recognize the humanity of wheelchair-bound persons.

Duterte won’t run for higher office by ERWIN TULFO
MANILA TIMES September 30, 2014 9:37 pm


Erwin Tulfo


I HAD the opportunity to talk to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte last Friday at the airport, on his way to an out of the country trip.

Duterte, the most controversial local official in the land because of his no nonsense crime fighting style, said he is not running for president or vice prresident in 2016.

“I am old and I just want to rest after my term as mayor of Davao ,” said the local government official, believed to be in his late 60’s or very early 70’s.

The mayor’s name popped up as possible candidate for the presidential race in 2016 when Davaoeños started a signature campaign months ago prodding him to run for the highest office in the land.

As of Friday, not only do Davaoeños, but 6 million Mindanaoans wanted him to join the race to Malacañang two years from now.

Still Duterte insisted he is not running for either of the two higher positions. He claimed there were other good candidates available who can run the country better.

He even issued a statement last week saying he is going to shoot anybody who forces him to run for the presidency.

However, instead of silencing his supporters, a “shoot me Duterte” challenge has begun.

More and more people have joined in the said craze including actor Edu Manzano and my brother Mon, whose objective is to force Duterte to run in 2016 as President.

* Duterte is right. There are other people who can run the country better than the one who is in Malacañang now, like Vice President Binay. Despite being persecuted and maligned, he continues to enjoy the support of the masses, as several surveys show.

Ever wonder why people, especially from the Visayas and Mindanao regions, want Duterte badly in Malacañang?

The answer is simple. They want somebody who is tough on crime and a disciplinarian at times like this where criminals and rogue cops seem to rule the streets.

Notorious criminals in Davao City vanish in thin air if they do not heed the mayor’s call to leave, so do any abusive lawmen.

People can walk on the streets of Davao even in the wee hours of the morning without being mugged or robbed, or extorted.

Still Mayor Rody wants a quiet and peaceful life after 2016.

Three things Aquino must do for accountability by RICARDO SALUDO
 MANILA TIMES September 29, 2014 11:33 pm


Ricardo Saludo

Is President Benigno Aquino 3rd finally cracking down on sleaze in his government?

Now being probed for allegedly excessive wealth is Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima, Aquino’s former bodyguard during his mother’s presidency.

Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya faces an Ombudsman probe, along with cashiered Metro Rail Transit general manager Al Vitangcol, over the MRT maintenance contract with a company linked to the two.

National Food Authority chief Arthur Juan recently quit amid extortion accusations after just three months at NFA. He may be probed, unlike other resigned agency heads like Lito Alvarez and Ruffy Biazon of the Bureau of Customs, Virginia Torres of the Land Transportation Office, and Ernesto Diokno of the Bureau of Corrections.

After years of protecting his so-called Kaklase, Kakampi, Kabarilan clique of ex-schoolmates, allies, and shooting buddies, Aquino may finally be getting serious about holding the KKK to account.

At least, that’s the apparent message in the recent flurry of probes and potential prosecutions. Not to mention Aquino’s Harvard speech last week, where he urged those suspecting sleaze to charge his officials.

“The courts are open,” said the President. “If they think that I have dishonest people around me, then all they have to do is file an appropriate case.”

This episode may remind those with long memories of strongman Ferdinand Marcos’s interview with US media during a state visit to America. Asked about coddling cronies, he revealed that tycoon Ricardo Silverio, one of his reputed associates, was being investigated. On cue, a probe into the Silverio business empire was launched.

That nationally televised uncoddling of a crony may have impressed the American press, but not Filipinos. For the biggest anomalies continued, and the presidential friends associated with them remained in place and undisturbed. And this writer cannot recall if even Silverio was charged for anything.

Probe, publicize, forget

Will the same thing happen today — investigate some big fish, make headlines, then forget the whole thing — or will the probe of PNP and DOTC heads lead to an honest-to-goodness campaign to hold adminstration officials accountable?

Most people probably expect the investigations to eventually fade from the front pages and be forgotten. After all, that has occurred many times in this regime.

* To jog our memory, let’s ask whatever happened to the Palace-ordered probes of these, among other anomalies:
The billion-peso bidding for PNP rifles, which Aquino himself pronounced overpriced after checking costs online, and which implicated his shooting buddy, then Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno?

The culpability of local leaders and private individuals for massive flooding and inadequate disaster response in the Sendong and Pablo typhoons in the south?

The alleged $30-million bribe demand for Czech company Inekon to get the contract for Metro Rail Transit train cars, which reportedly involved presidential sister Ballsy and her husband, and for which MRT manager Vitangcol was first suspended?

The pork barrel anomalies for which Malacañang harnessed a task force including the Department of Justice, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Audit?

On the last item, the nation has yet to see the DOJ, OMB and COA file charges against administration lawmakers after the cases swiftly and prominently lodged against three opposition senators, plus several former congressmen outside the Aquino camp.

Or are we to believe that most of the legislators who collectively got billions of pesos every year — more than P20 billion annually in 2011-13 — are not guilty of the same irregularities for which Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla are charged with plunder and detained without bail? Come on.

Three things to do for accountability

If President Aquino really means to turn a new leaf and finally extend Tuwid na Daan to his KKK coterie, then here are ten things to do for Filipinos to take him seriously:

First, present full reports on the four investigations mentioned above, with complete findings, who did the inquiry and how, what actions were taken to hold officials accountable, and what measures are recommended to prevent future sleaze. If one or more investigations were not done, Aquino should identify and sanction the officials who failed to execute his orders.

Second, there must be honest-to-goodness investigations of the following irregularities, for which ample evidence should be available:

The failure to report and take corrective action against the repeated disappearance of more than 2,000 containers of uninspected, untaxed cargo in 2011, especially the officials responsible for monitoring containers in transit, as well as the Custroms heads

The unprecedented smuggling of rice under Aquino, as seen in both International Monetary Fund trade data and US Department of Agriculture estimates of grain consumption and production in the country

The P400-million casino loss under gaming czar Cristino Naguiat in May 2011, and the mishandling of criminal charges against the foreign perpetrators, who were able to leave the country despite court cases filed against them

The acceptance of free travel and accommodations from firms dealing with their agencies, by Naguiat for a family Macau junket, and then Interior Undersecretary Puno, hosted by an Israeli arms supplier

The anomalies that led to the resignations of Torres from LTO (gambling) and Diokno from Corrections (special treatment of wealthy prisoners), as well as others like Alvarez, Biazon, and ex-NFA boss Lito Banayo, who were all never held accountable after they quit.

Third, pass the Freedom of Information Act, which Aquino promised to prioritized during his election campaign more than four years ago.

It would greatly help if Cabinet members under investigation go on leave or be preventively suspended, especially Abaya, who can certainly use his DOTC power to conceal evidence and intimidate witnesses in the agency.

In the past administration, department secretaries under a cloud like DOJ’s Hernando Perez, Arthur Yap of Agriculture, and the late Angelo Reyes of National Defense, resigned on their own. The last two rejoined government only after they were cleared. Can’t Aquino’s officials do that?

If most readers are shrugging that Aquino won’t do any of three things urged in this article, this writer is sighing in agreement. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, recently awarded by Ateneo de Manila for public service, is probing Abaya. But she has done little about other anomalies involving Aquino officials, including the decade-old P728-million fertilizer scam implicating administration lawmakers.

All the more reason to establish the citizens corruption investigation coalition proposed in this column on Sept. 23 and 25 (“The way to real change is not ‘aquino, resign!’ ”).

To clean up government, the governed must act. There’s no other way.

Why don’t Aquino officials quit over anomalies? by RICARDO SALUDO
 October 1, 2014 11:55 pm


Ricardo Saludo

OUR Tuesday column, “Three things Aquino should do for accountability,” asked if his Cabinet members and other top officials implicated in anomalies would quit, then come back after their names are cleared.

The question of resignation erupted again this week with pressure on Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima over his allegedly excessive wealth and the escalating crime, now double the 2010 rate.

Also under fire of late is Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Jose Emilio Abaya, over a maintenance contract that the DOTC-supervised, breakdown- and accident-prone Metro Rail Transit concluded with a firm allegedly part-owned by him and ousted MRT general manager Al Vitangcol.

A few others resigned in the past, but only after long controversy. Close Aquino friend Ernesto Diokno hung on as prisons head, despite the expose on wealthy, influential inmates getting long furloughs out of jail. Two other penitentiary chiefs after him also left over anomalies.

All three have never been held to account for any irregularities, just like Aquino shooting buddy Virginia Torres. Her tenure as Land Transporations Office director lasted for years despite alleged improper meddling in an LTO supplier, plus gross mismanagement leading to computerization and vehicle plate problems. She was let go only last October, after she was videotaped in a casino, violating a gambling ban on government officials.

Staying on amid record smuggling

Other controversial agency heads have stayed on despite far greater irregularities and, like Diokno and Torres, they remain free from accountability after leaving government. The past two Bureau of Customs commissioners, Lito Alvarez and Ruffy Biazon, stayed in their post for many months amid the biggest BoC scandals ever.

Under Alvarez, more than 2,000 containers of uninspected and untaxed cargo disappeared in transit between Manila and other Luzon ports — the worst spate of smuggling in the country. Contraband leapt five-fold to a record $19 billion a year, based on International Monetary Fund data.

Biazon offered to quit after Aquino blasted Customs for an unheard-of P200 billion in smuggling losses in last year’s State of the Nation Address. But as the President has done with other top officials, he kept the Customs boss for months. Biazon left only after the pork barrel investigation implicated him.

The latest top official to offer his resignation but be retained is Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. The Supreme Court declared his Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional for illegally allocating funds to unbudgeted expenditures, realigning allocatiions outside the Executive branch, and misdeclaring “savings” in violation of explicit provisions in the General Appropriations Act defining savings.

Quitting over Aquino, not anomalies

Two Aquino Cabinet members quit early in his administration, both in 2011, citing personal reasons, but were said to be unhappy with him. In June of that year, respected DOTC Secretary Jose de Jesus, public works czar under Aquino’s mother Corazon, resigned, officially for health reasons, but reputedly over Palace meddling in DOTC.

* Two months later, then-Department of Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim quit. Months earlier, he survived a much-ridiculed DOT campaign copied from a 1950s Swiss promotion. But Lim resigned when Aquino kept Mark Lapid as Philippine Tourism Authority general manager, reportedly to please the latter’s father, Senator Lito Lapid.

One Cabinet member nearly quit over Aquino actions. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted thinking of resigning after the President junked the incident report on the August 2010 Luneta hostage crisis, in which eight Hong Kong tourists died.

The investigation panel jointly chaired by de Lima and then-Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, recommended sanctions against officials. But Aquino preferred to spared them, especially his shooting buddy DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno and longtime loyalist and then-Manila mayor Alfredo Lim.

The only other Aquino department secretary to quit was then-Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. He left in 2012. officially for health reasons, after serving two years in a position he also held in the first Aquino administration.
Under Arroyo, resign and return — if cleared

Things were very different under Aquino’s predecessor Gloria Arroyo. In 2001, her administration’s first year, Justice Secretary Hernando Perez set the precedent followed by other Cabinet members implicated in anomalies. He resigned after being accused by dealmaker Mark Jimenez of asking and getting $2 million to give legal clearance for the $470-million IMPSA power plant deal contracted by the previous Estrada government.

Perez quit despite maintaining his innocence — something no Aquino Cabinet member has done. In May this year, after more than a decade of trials, the Sandiganbayan court dismissed a falsification charge against Perez, one of four filed over the IMPSA scandal. In 2008 he was acquited of the two main cases alleging extortion and bribery, plus another corruption charge in 2011.

Two other Arroyo department secretaries who quit amid controversy were cleared months later, and returned to the Cabinet: Arthur Yap of Agriculture and the late Angelo Reyes of National Defense. Yap’s family was suspected of evading taxes in a past property sale, while Oakwood Mutiny leaders accused Reyes of corruption in military procurement.

After his family was cleared of tax issues, Yap was named head of the Presidential Management Staff, before returning to Agriculture. As for Reyes, the mutineers’ claims proved pure canard from a fake document circulated online. He then became DILG secretary, licking a kidnapping surge; then moved to Environment and Natural Resources, launching a million-tree planting program; and finally Energy, where his 2008 power summit already highlighted the need to build generating plants.

Now, isn’t that the way Cabinet members should act when facing anomalies?

Evidently not for President Aquino. In controversy after controversy, he defends implicated officials sans investigation, and expresses unwavering trust in them.

Maybe he thinks insisting on their innocence will keep at least part of the public believing there is no sleaze in his regime, rather than confirming anomalies by quitting. Or he is wary of antagonizing associates who can turn on him, as the “Hyatt 10” did to Arroyo, and Governor Chavit Singson to Joseph Estrada.

Whatever the reason, holding fast to officials come hell or high water, has led to reports of unexplained wealth, illegal fund transfers topping P150 billion, crime and smuggling trebling to record levels, MRT troubles mounting, “prepositioned” disaster response vanishing, and a power crisis looming, among other woes — all with no one accountable.

Plainly, for the Cabinet, it’s more fun on Tuwid na Daan.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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