PHNO EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK

BULLETIN ANALYSIS: G-20 SUMMIT TO BE TEST OF FORUM'S STAYING POWER 

The annual G-20 leadership summit that groups democrats with authoritarians and rich nations with poor has long suffered from a perception it’s all talk and no action. This year, leaders are under extra pressure to produce something tangible. The global forum is regarded as having been at its most successful during its first summit in 2008 when an alarming financial crisis that was nursed into being on Wall Street rippled around the world, toppling giant banks and casting tens of millions out of work. Since then, the gathering has been criticized as having produced a lot of lofty goals, but little follow-through despite its member countries representing about 85 percent of the global economy. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

Editorial: A season of hope  

It would have been such a big Christmas gift from the government, if the new law limiting the tax on year-end bonuses received by the nation’s employees could take effect this year. The Senate approved last Tuesday Senate Bill 2437, providing that Christmas and other year-end bonuses up to P82,000 will not be taxed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Under the law now in effect, Republic Act 7833, enacted in 1994, the government taxes all such bonuses exceeding P30,000. Senate President Franklin Drilon explained that there may not be enough time to make the new law effective this year. Even if it is finally enacted by Congress and signed by President Aquino before the year ends, he said, the Department of Finance still has to draw up the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) before it can be carried out. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO Opinion: Strong government  

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on”. — Walter Lippman President Benigno Simeon Aquino deserves that modest uptick and recovery in his satisfaction ratings in the third quarter, and barring unforeseen events, the ratings should even be higher by yearend. Lately, President Aquino has been more focused on his job, working hard, and performing credibly in his foreign travels, notwithstanding severe criticisms of the administration’s inept handling and slow-drag rehabilitation of Tacloban City and other areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) whose anniversary is observed this month of November. READ FULL COLUMN BY Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva...

ALSO: Patriotism and poverty

Can patriotism help in the fight against poverty? Fr. Bel San Luis in his article said that Korea pulled itself up by its own boot straps with the patriotic motivation to help the country. Many of the overseas workers of South Korea made sacrifices for the country to get out of the doldrums of poverty. He tells of London Koreans gathering their meager savings to give to Pres. Gen. Park to invest in his industrialization program. I think our overseas Filipinos would also volunteer their savings if there were a program to help create jobs here in our country. Korea has a tradition of sending people for their doctorates in the sciences. Their parish priests are highly educated. And so are their engineers and scientists. We do have people with doctorates but they are only a handful. READ FULL COLUMN BY Emeterio Barcelon...

ALSO The 'Palusot' mentality 

The Filipinos’ annoying habit of palusot (getting one over the other) rears its ugly head once more with the highly publicized visit to Caballo island of Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. and acting Health Secretary Janette Garin. This ingrained custom is why we as a nation find it hard to obey laws and follow the simple injunction of “no-jaywalking” signs, as an example. The “no overloading,” or “no whatever” signs are there to instill order and discipline-and safety-in this chaotic world. Despite our unstoppable march toward civilized behavior, some of us invent excuses and justifications to defend their actions, simply because they are in a position to be exempted! Last week, military and health officials led by Catapang and Garin visited the peacekeepers in Caballo Island. They did not shake hands with the peacekeepers but did the elbow bump to greet them. The 108 peacekeepers flew in from Liberia last Wednesday and were immediately brought by ship to Caballo Island for a 21-day quarantine. READ FULL COLUMN BY Floro M. Mercene...

ALSO by Tonyo Cruz: Impunity under BS Aquino 

Toto Mangudadatu thought it was the safest way to file his certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao in the then-forthcoming 2010 elections. On Nov. 23, 2009, he sent a 20-member team led by his wife Genalin, sisters Eden and Farinah, other female relatives, and women lawyers Concepcion Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon, to file his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections office at Shariff Aguak town. Joining the Mangudadatus in the convoy were 32 journalists who would cover the filing. The convoy never reached the Comelec office. They never got back home either. They were all killed; No one was spared. Their bodies and vehicles quickly buried on a hill, using backhoes, so that no one would find out what had happened to them. The killers even mistakenly dragged six other motorists, whose terrible mistake was to have been near the convoy, into the carnage. They were all also murdered and quickly buried. Attack on journalists That incident is now known as the Ampatuan massacre, named both after the town where the crime happened and after the clan whose leading members were fingered as the masterminds and enablers of the horrific crime. READ FULL COLUMN...

ALSO 'PHNO COLUMN OF THE WEEK' by Florangel Rosario Braid: More thoughts on the BBL 

I have publicly made known my support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which has become quite controversial. On this issue over which even our legal luminaries are divided, my argument has been that in a society that is evolving so rapidly, our systems and institutions must be proactive and flexible so that they can readily adapt to change. Everyone argues about the constitutionality of the BBL that Chris Monsod is gathering some of us, members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, to draft a statement that supports the establishment of the Bangsamoro entity. That it reflects the vision expressed in the Preamble and in the other articles of the Charter – a vision anchored on devolution, subsidiarity, human rights, equality, tolerance and respect for every person’s right to self-determination. The draft BBL, we believe, is anchored on that vision and of what all of us aspire for – sustainable peace and authentic development.

The draft BBL, we believe, is anchored on that vision and of what all of us aspire for – sustainable peace and authentic development. But there are also other voices that believe otherwise. Respected constitutionalist retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza expresses potential threats which he notes in a recent memorandum: Much still must be done to make the BBL conform to the Constitution as some provisions would show that the proposed Bangsamoro is a political entity with independent inclinations. The recognition of the people’s right to self-determination and to chart their political future illustrate that the Bangsamoro is only a little different from the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity in the MOA-AD which was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2008. To call the region the “Bangsamoro Territory” is to imply that it is a separate part of the Philippines waiting to become independent. READ FULL COLUMN...


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Analysis: G-20 summit to be test of forum’s staying power

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by AP — The annual G-20 leadership summit that groups democrats with authoritarians and rich nations with poor has long suffered from a perception it’s all talk and no action. This year, leaders are under extra pressure to produce something tangible.

The global forum is regarded as having been at its most successful during its first summit in 2008 when an alarming financial crisis that was nursed into being on Wall Street rippled around the world, toppling giant banks and casting tens of millions out of work.

Since then, the gathering has been criticized as having produced a lot of lofty goals, but little follow-through despite its member countries representing about 85 percent of the global economy.

Prompting pressure for tangible results at the Group of 20’s Brisbane summit this weekend, experts say, are comments from the International Monetary Fund warning about a “new mediocre” for the global economy, with Europe teetering on the brink of recession, China’s growth slowing and Japan in a malaise.

“What the world really needs is a little burst of confidence,” said Mike Callaghan, program director of the G20 Studies Center at the Lowy Institute, an Australian think-tank. “There is the pressure on the G-20 to provide signs of confidence that the countries are cooperating together.”

One concrete measure of the G-20’s success could come from its previously announced goal of creating tens of millions of new jobs by adding $2 trillion to global GDP over five years.

Prior summits have shied away from setting such targets because of concerns that the G-20’s credibility could be attacked if the targets were not achieved.

Australia, as this year’s chair of the G-20, has been determined to give the forum new relevance, an outcome that would burnish its credentials and image on the world stage.


Editorial: A season of hope

November 21, 2014 Share this: It would have been such a big Christmas gift from the government, if the new law limiting the tax on year-end bonuses received by the nation’s employees could take effect this year.

The Senate approved last Tuesday Senate Bill 2437, providing that Christmas and other year-end bonuses up to P82,000 will not be taxed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Under the law now in effect, Republic Act 7833, enacted in 1994, the government taxes all such bonuses exceeding P30,000.

Senate President Franklin Drilon explained that there may not be enough time to make the new law effective this year. Even if it is finally enacted by Congress and signed by President Aquino before the year ends, he said, the Department of Finance still has to draw up the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) before it can be carried out.

It has been 20 years since the P30,000 limit was set by law. Because of inflation, the P30,000 in 1994 would be worth around P82,000 today, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said. To ensure that this “injustice” does not happen again, the new law mandates that adjusments be made every three years.

The DOF has projected that the new law will cause a revenue loss of over P30 billion. This may cause the department to take its time drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulations so that it cannot possibly take effect this year. But, it has also been pointed out, the extra money when spent by the country’s half a million employees will be subject to sales tax when they go shopping and marketing. This is likely to take place right this holiday season.

All the members of the Senate have come forward to be co-authors of the bill – such is the support for the bill among our senators . The House version of the bill had been approved earlier.

As Senate President Drilon has pointed out, it may be too late to make the law effective this year. But this is the Chistmas season of hope. The hundreds of thousands of employees and their families know there is nothing they can do if the DOF and the BIR take their sweet time drafting the needed Implementing Rules and Regulations. But how much more merry this Christmas would be if, somehow, all the officials concerned went out of their way to make it happen.


Strong government by Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva November 20, 2014 Share this:


By Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on”. — Walter Lippman

President Benigno Simeon Aquino deserves that modest uptick and recovery in his satisfaction ratings in the third quarter, and barring unforeseen events, the ratings should even be higher by yearend.

Lately, President Aquino has been more focused on his job, working hard, and performing credibly in his foreign travels, notwithstanding severe criticisms of the administration’s inept handling and slow-drag rehabilitation of Tacloban City and other areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) whose anniversary is observed this month of November.

First, as the democratic supremo and the father of the nation, it is about time that President Aquino puts his foot down, so to speak, assert his leadership, discipline his party mates and coalition partners, correct his vindictive ways, and immerse himself more with the masa (also good for politics).

In other words, what this country needs is a strong leader and continuity of purpose over and above petty, parochial, and corrupt party politics.

That is, to paraphrase well-known economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of MIT and Columbia University, “Only a strong government can keep the peace, build infrastructure, enforce contracts, and provide other public goods.”

This candid observation is not only profoundly simple but is also easier said than done.

Thus, President Benigno Noynoy Aquino has the makings of a strong leader with good intentions.

Unfortunately, his attention and energy, in the last four years, have been distracted, diverted, and derailed by his obsession for political retribution on rival political opponents, reinforcing the coalition political party, stubbornness to inject new blood in the Cabinet, hubris, and blurring of the mission and vision.

Hence, the results as observed by local and foreign analysts have been: (1) peace in Mindanao with the Muslim separatists and communist insurgency is far from closure; (2) the deterrent to faster and sustainable economic development points to the gross inadequacy of infrastructure investments; (3) the Philippines is notorious for not respecting and honoring contracts either due to corruption or political intervention; and (4) the economic gains are “exclusive” to the few, and “do not filter down to the masses.”

These shortcomings are the criteria that require strong leadership, an honest bureaucracy, continuity, and consistent policies, which are easier said than done.

In this respect, President Noynoy Simeon Aquino has all the good intentions and strong leadership potential.

Alas, he had infused excessive and unwarranted expectations in the Filipino people that were squandered away by “politics.”

When all is said and done, as Palace trumpeters would have it, President Benigno Simeon Aquino may have retained his satisfaction ratings and popularity compared to his unnamed predecessors, but what good is that if he has failed in his mission of eradicating corruption and achieving “inclusive” prosperity to the people?

You be the judge.


Patriotism and poverty by Emeterio Barcelon November 20, 2014 Share this:


by Emeterio Barcelon

Can patriotism help in the fight against poverty? Fr. Bel San Luis in his article said that Korea pulled itself up by its own boot straps with the patriotic motivation to help the country. Many of the overseas workers of South Korea made sacrifices for the country to get out of the doldrums of poverty. He tells of London Koreans gathering their meager savings to give to Pres. Gen. Park to invest in his industrialization program. I think our overseas Filipinos would also volunteer their savings if there were a program to help create jobs here in our country.

Korea has a tradition of sending people for their doctorates in the sciences. Their parish priests are highly educated. And so are their engineers and scientists. We do have people with doctorates but they are only a handful. Hong Kong has more doctorates in mathematics than the Philippines and yet they have less than one tenth of our population. We have people who would like to pursue higher studies but do not find the resources or organizations to absorb them and put to use their capabilities.

Here seems to be one of our deficiencies: the matter of organizing people with higher scientific capabilities. Korea organized scientists to support the auto industry. So they now have Kia and Hyundai auto brands that can compete with the Japanese, American, and European brands.

To answer our original question, I think the answer is yes. Our overseas workers would invest their money for patriotic purposes but they do not see the organizations that would do this. To start, the overseas workers should look to investments instead of just chocolates and consumer goods. They could invest in a cow or carabao or something that would earn money instead of consumer electronics. They could invest in the big banks and industrial conglomerates where their money would be safe. It is up to these big corporations now to make sure that their projects create jobs for our people.

We should look into science projects. We still do not see investing in science propelled industries. The cutting-edge science is now in solar power and drones but there are many others in simple manufacturing that can create jobs. This should be our targets to create jobs and pay them well so they do not have to go abroad and leave their families behind.

I have another question: Do we have a mental boundary that tells us that we are small and poor and therefore cannot do the big industrial investments that are necessary to make this country prosperous? The possibility is there that there may be a mental block to our thinking when all along we have all the resources to make this country great. Are we patriotic enough to make sacrifices so that we invest rather consuming our earnings?

We are a consumer economy or have a consumer mentality. We need to move over to savings and investments. It may be just a carabao or cow; it may be investing in a conglomerate. But the important thing is save and invest so that there may be more good paying jobs in the country. We must break the bonds that say we are poor and inefficient.

We are asked by the Lord to make the most of what we have. It may not be as good as the others have but we have enough. We have our lives and our opportunities and we need to make the most of it. We need to get together, save and invest to make a vibrant economy for our country.


Palusot mentality by Floro M. Mercene November 20, 2014 Share this:


By Floro M. Mercene

The Filipinos’ annoying habit of palusot (getting one over the other) rears its ugly head once more with the highly publicized visit to Caballo island of Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. and acting Health Secretary Janette Garin.

This ingrained custom is why we as a nation find it hard to obey laws and follow the simple injunction of “no-jaywalking” signs, as an example.

The “no overloading,” or “no whatever” signs are there to instill order and discipline-and safety-in this chaotic world.

Despite our unstoppable march toward civilized behavior, some of us invent excuses and justifications to defend their actions, simply because they are in a position to be exempted!

Last week, military and health officials led by Catapang and Garin visited the peacekeepers in Caballo Island. They did not shake hands with the peacekeepers but did the elbow bump to greet them.

The 108 peacekeepers flew in from Liberia last Wednesday and were immediately brought by ship to Caballo Island for a 21-day quarantine.

The peacekeepers all passed the Ebola screening conducted by the United Nations before their repatriation.

There is no known cure for Ebola, hence the strict quarantine restrictions imposed by the government.

No matter how Catapang et al justifies their acts, it was still a violation.

For what Catapang and Garin did, family members of the soldiers are now asking why the government went through all that lengths of putting them in quarantine in the first place?

The dictionary defines quarantine as; “A strict isolation of persons or animals, imposed to prevent the spread of disease.”

What prompted our distinguished officials to flaunt this boorish behavior that had immediately activated the social media community?

The social media’s response is one in condemning Catapang’s and Garin’s visit.

But here again, instead of admitting his fault, Catapang went on finger-pointing: “Siya ang nagdi-dictate ng protocol, eh. We are not violating anything. Kasama nga siyang nagpunta doon eh,” referring to Garin.

“The Buck Stops Here!” is one phrase that we have also to learn to counter many of our bad habits.


Impunity under BS Aquino by Tonyo Cruz November 21, 2014 Share this:


TONYO CRUZ

Toto Mangudadatu thought it was the safest way to file his certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao in the then-forthcoming 2010 elections.

On Nov. 23, 2009, he sent a 20-member team led by his wife Genalin, sisters Eden and Farinah, other female relatives, and women lawyers Concepcion Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon, to file his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections office at Shariff Aguak town.

Joining the Mangudadatus in the convoy were 32 journalists who would cover the filing.

The convoy never reached the Comelec office. They never got back home either.

They were all killed; No one was spared. Their bodies and vehicles quickly buried on a hill, using backhoes, so that no one would find out what had happened to them.

The killers even mistakenly dragged six other motorists, whose terrible mistake was to have been near the convoy, into the carnage. They were all also murdered and quickly buried.

Attack on journalists

That incident is now known as the Ampatuan massacre, named both after the town where the crime happened and after the clan whose leading members were fingered as the masterminds and enablers of the horrific crime.

That the massacre killed 32 journalists in one swoop made it the single biggest attack on journalists in the Philippines and in the world. The International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Southeast Asia Press Alliance, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and other organizations quickly condemned the massacre.

Five years after, these same organizations are in the forefront of reminding the Philippines and the world about the massacre and the terrible fact that no one has been punished ever since. They decry that impunity, or the failure and refusal to hold the masterminds and perpetrators of the massacres accountable, would make possible a repeat or something worse. Impunity rewards the murderers and further victimizes the victims and their families.

To keep the massacre in the people’s attention, an art installation project would be unveiled on Nov. 23 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.

Veteran journalists Tina Monzon Palma, Cheche Lazaro, Jessica Soho, Ces Drilon, Pia Hontiveros-Pagkalinawan, Luchi Cruz Valdez, Ted Failon, and Ed Lingao have come out with special PSAs for Million Candles Campaign. The campaign calls on the public to light a candle on Nov. 23 at 6:00 pm at the EDSA Shrine or “wherever you may be”.

Apex of most brutal ‘traditional politics’

The Ampatuan massacre is arguably also the single worst act of violence by a traditional political warlord clan in recent memory. It is the bloody apex of the worst and most brutal features of traditional politics.

For the massacre did not happen in a vacuum. The fact that Toto Mangudadatu could not safely file his own certificate of candidacy in 2009 speaks volumes on the menacing presence and role of violent traditional politicians and their private army in Maguindanao at the time. The evil gentry that were the Ampatuans were not satisfied in just owning tracts of land and exploiting the farmers and people them through the most unfair and most usurious terms. They also named an entire town after themselves and “assigned” mayorships and governorships, based on whim. The elections were for them to play with. The massacre was aimed to teaching a lesson to those who would dare fight them.

Elsewhere in the country, other Ampatuans rule and dominate local politics. They may not be as violent and brutal only because it might be unnecessary. Threats of post-election retribution may be enough. Denying post-election funding for infrastructure improvements or restricting business could do the trick.

This is not saying that citizens and voters in Maguindanao and elsewhere are all too scared to bring needed changes in their respective provinces and towns. This is saying that the problem of corrupt and brutal political officials is not as easy as voting them out of office. This is saying that the epidemic of corruption and crime that is the hallmark of our traditional politics cannot be blamed solely on the myth of the “stupid Filipino voter”.

What now, Mr. BS Aquino?

It is no longer relevant that this massacre happened in the twilight year of the Arroyo presidency. What is relevant is that the prosecution has been happening under the BS Aquino presidency. Five years have passed and still no convictions.

Would the trial still “fester” longer than BS Aquino’s stay in Malacanang? Maybe.

The BS Aquino administration is not known to be a champion of justice for slain working journalists. In fact, records show that more working journalists have been killed under BS Aquino compared with his predecessors.

Confronted by a reporter about this fact during his joint press conference with President Obama at Malacanang, he could only cite the lack of “judicial reform” to speed up trials and vainly tried to demonize the victims for being killed for reasons other than their work as journalists.

That’s exactly how to encourage impunity. Blame the victims and let the masterminds and perpetrators go scot-free.

TONYO CRUZ IS Filipino blogger, advocate, traveler, strategist, columnist and more. http://igbox.co/tonyocruz/


More thoughts on the BBL  by Florangel Rosario Braid November 21, 2014 Share this:


by Florangel Rosario Braid

I have publicly made known my support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which has become quite controversial.

On this issue over which even our legal luminaries are divided, my argument has been that in a society that is evolving so rapidly, our systems and institutions must be proactive and flexible so that they can readily adapt to change.

Everyone argues about the constitutionality of the BBL that Chris Monsod is gathering some of us, members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, to draft a statement that supports the establishment of the Bangsamoro entity.

That it reflects the vision expressed in the Preamble and in the other articles of the Charter – a vision anchored on devolution, subsidiarity, human rights, equality, tolerance and respect for every person’s right to self-determination.

The draft BBL, we believe, is anchored on that vision and of what all of us aspire for – sustainable peace and authentic development.

But there are also other voices that believe otherwise. Respected constitutionalist retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza expresses potential threats which he notes in a recent memorandum:

Much still must be done to make the BBL conform to the Constitution as some provisions would show that the proposed Bangsamoro is a political entity with independent inclinations.

The recognition of the people’s right to self-determination and to chart their political future illustrate that the Bangsamoro is only a little different from the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity in the MOA-AD which was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2008.

To call the region the “Bangsamoro Territory” is to imply that it is a separate part of the Philippines waiting to become independent. …Indeed, the dismemberment of the national territory can result from such provisions of the bill.

In his regular weekly TV show, “Diyos at Bayan,” Bro. Eddie Villanueva, “Jesus is Lord” founder and head, and his three guests, former Senator Rene Saguisag, former Securities and Exchange Chair Perfecto Yasay Jr., and TV host Erik Espina, shared insights on the issue of whether or not “panahon na na mag cha-cha” (whether it is time to amend the Constitution).

A relevant question, since the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law is now being scrutinized on the issue of constitutionality.

While varied viewpoints were shared on related concerns, there was common agreement that what the country needs at this stage of our history is a national consensus, not so much on formal and external institutions, but a transformation of character, of values.

We can survive and move forward whether we change or stay with our present Charter.

Some attribute our present sorry state to the form of government and the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution that discourage foreign investments.

But the missing element lies in the Filipino psyche – that sense of national consciousness, identity, and pride in our own capacities. It is the spirit that energizes and propels, and from which every Filipino can draw strength, passion, and will to develop.

We have known this for sometime and this is the reason we had the Moral Recovery Program, and why our social and cultural advocates have asked us to refocus on essential citizenship values starting with love of country.

Unfortunately however, past initiatives had failed to establish a strong bond and involve all sectors of society which must then all work collectively towards a common vision.

Many had thought that the “matuwid na daan” would fill that void.

And to some extent, it earned the country credibility and respect from the outside world.

But elitism, greed, and too much concern with materialism somehow reared their ugly heads to counter gains that have been made in the sharing of power and privilege.

How do we get back on track? This is perhaps the real challenge in 2016.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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