PHNO EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE PAST WEEK
FROM POLITICAL BLOGGERS

BY JOE AMERICA: PRESIDENT AQUINO’S ACHILLES HEEL -- LOYALTY 

Perhaps the one criticism of President Aquino that arises again and again is the point that he defends people who are flawed or have created gross mistakes, out of loyalty. Mayor Lim who botched the Hong Kong bus massacre. His shooting buddy, DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno, who was accused of “anomalies”. Secretary Gazmin after he mis-identified old cement blocks in the ocean as new Chinese construction projects. And about every other appointment he has made. Yet, he can be very tough with those who were appointed by Gloria Arroyo (Chief Justice Corona, DENR officials, corrupt generals). And now, coming directly toward us, is the candidacy of Mar Roxas for President of the Philippines.READ FULL COMMENTARY...

ALSO: Under Francis, a Bolder Vision of Vatican Diplomacy Emerges

ROME — Perhaps the timing was purely coincidental. But a day after he was credited with helping to broker the historic diplomatic breakthrough between Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis began his Thursday morning by greeting a new crop of envoys to the Vatican, and offering some advice. “The work of an ambassador lies in small steps, small things, but they always end up making peace, bringing closer the hearts of people, sowing brotherhood among people,” he said. “This is your job, but with little things, tiny things.”  Yet if the Vatican has long practiced a methodical, discreet brand of diplomacy, what has changed under Francis — or has been restored — is a vision of diplomatic boldness, a willingness to take risks and insert the Vatican into diplomatic disputes, especially where it can act as an independent broker. READ IN FULL...

 ALSO Bulatlat perspective: Torture as official policy

Reading through the 500-page Executive Summary of the report of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, one could not help but feel revulsion and alarm at the official, systematic, and brutal application of torture on detainees the US suspected of having links with Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Worse, the CIA’s total disregard for the lives, much less rights, of these detainees and the arbitrariness of these acts are manifested by the fact that it does not even have an accurate, official accounting of how many persons were subjected to renditions, detention and torture (euphemistically called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”). The CIA counted at least 119 detained persons, of whom 26 were later discovered to be cases of mistaken identity or were wrongly implicated by rival tribal factions, personal enemies or detainees who underwent torture and were forced to point to somebody to be relieved of suffering. READ FULL COMMENTARY...

ALSO from Filipino Scribe Blog: To win in 2016, Miriam Defensor Santiago needs to defy history

By  MARK PERE MADRONA --PHOTO: 2016 Miriam Defensor-Santiago, potential 2016 presidential candidate (Credits: www.miriam.com.ph) With each passing day, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is sounding more and more like someone who is dead-set in running for president in May 2016. Regarded as one of the most famous politicians in the social media, the feisty senator has given a lot of hints about her plans for 2016. During a speaking engagement at the Ateneo de Manila University last week, she said: “In the 2016 presidential elections, when I am rid of my lung cancer, I intend to claim the presidency I won in 1992.” She added that if elected, she intends “to appoint a cabinet, half of whom shall be from the youth sector, and half from senior citizens.”  READ FULL COMMENTARY...

ALSO from Crossroad Philippines: Wrong campaigns to extol Roxas 

PHOTO: Mar Roxas, DILG LP presidential contender --DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, LP’s presumptive presidential candidate At one point after the Typhoon Ruby and the shame it once again brought on Mar Roxas, after the funny motorcycle accident; social media brigades of the administration once again floated President Aquino’s second term campaign. It also tried to extol Aquino’s leadership, sanitized his performance and glorified his presidency as one amazing, trailblazing kind that put governance to meaningful reforms that achieved anti-corruption gains. Of course that was because at that point Roxas again bungled his chance, tailed at the tally boards of presidential wannabes being at the number 6. Every time Roxas falls, his cabal of propagandists in the social media turns on to Aquino by extolling his virtues, his accomplishments and his avowed principles of governance. They would try to rise up the lame duck president and withstand his relevance or else they will both fall into oblivion. Why does it happen? Even after the costly social media campaign, conventional media drive to decapitate Vice President Jejomar Binay? READ FULL COMMENTARY

ALSO: The Philippines Must Break the Power of Political Dynasties 

PHOTO COURTESY OF Yhe Lord of The Nerds --Democratic systems are no strangers to political dynasties. In the United States, some well-known families have been in politics for generations—the Kennedys held an impressive 64-year streak in Congress until 2011 (and staged a comeback only two years later), and earlier this month George P. Bush won the race for Texas Land Commissioner, carrying on the political legacy of his father Jeb Bush, his uncle George W. Bush, and his grandfather George H.W. Bush. Although the idea of political royalty inheriting power seems to cut against equal opportunity, members of such families have been revered throughout history. But political dynasties present a much greater threat to democracy when they control a majority of power in the country. In the Philippines, one study estimated that political dynasties comprised up to 70% of the last Philippine Congress (compared to 6% of the last U.S. Congress). During the last election, one notorious political clan had 80 members running for office. Indeed, Philippine political clans have evolved into the most efficient (and at times, deadly) means of monopolizing power. READ FULL COMMENTARY...

ALSO AN ALTER MIDYA EDITORIAL: Fight for genuine freedom of information law  

There is no reason to rejoice over the recent approval of the consolidated bill on Freedom of Information (FOI) in the House at the committee level, and the approval of the Senate version earlier this year. We, alternative media practitioners united under Altermidya, believe that the FOI versions restrict rather than enhance public access to information. The consolidated bills, both in the Lower House and the Senate, fail to meet the minimum international standards set by Article 19 for an FOI law to be effective. These include, among others, the following:

• a strong presumption in favor of disclosure (the principle of maximum disclosure);

• broad definitions of information and public bodies;

• positive obligations to publish key categories of information;

• clear and narrowly drawn exceptions, subject to a strong harm test and a public interest override; and

• effective oversight of the right by an independent administrative body. CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:


Where in this photo is the President’s top loyalty?
[Photo source: Rappler]

CYBERSPACE
, DECEMBER 22, 2014 (THE SOCIETY OF HONOR BLOG)   By JOE AMERICA - Perhaps the one criticism of President Aquino that arises again and again is the point that he defends people who are flawed or have created gross mistakes, out of loyalty.

Mayor Lim who botched the Hong Kong bus massacre. His shooting buddy, DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno, who was accused of “anomalies”. Secretary Gazmin after he mis-identified old cement blocks in the ocean as new Chinese construction projects. And about every other appointment he has made.

 Yet, he can be very tough with those who were appointed by Gloria Arroyo (Chief Justice Corona, DENR officials, corrupt generals).

He is circumspect about an unreliable, trouble-making Vice President because Binay is a friend of the family. He does not condemn the Catholic Church even as they condemn him. It’s odd, now that I think about it, that he learned the lessons of the New Testament better than the CBCP political bishops.

And now, coming directly toward us, is the candidacy of Mar Roxas for President of the Philippines.

If ever there were a man loyal to the President, it is Mar Roxas. He stepped aside so that Mr Aquino had a straight path to the presidency. And he has toiled in the most troublesome of areas on the President’s behalf, first at DOTC to get public/private partnerships formulated as a strategy and important infrastructure projects scoped and bid out, and now in DILG where he is first on the scene of massacres, terrorist uprisings and natural disasters. Tough work. Real work.

Done earnestly and with integrity.

How can the President NOT back Mar Roxas for a presidential run.
And yet . . .

And yet . . .
I do fear there is another loyalty the President ought to factor into his thinking.

His loyalty to the Philippines. And to the overwhelming majority of good people who threw their backing and votes behind him to put him in office and support him against all the partisan critics, crooks, and blood-seeking media mongrels.

The test of tests, which loyalty to back, ought to be based on a very clear understanding of what the presidential campaign will be like, and no underestimation of the machine and tactics that Jejomar Binay will put into his lifelong ambition to be president.

It ought to be based on a very clear understanding of the penalties the Philippines is likely to pay if Mr. Aquino’s chosen candidate loses.

Should Mr. Binay get elected, one wonders if he will know how to stop being president at the end of his six- year term. His greed for the position is so single-minded and intense. His methods so patently play the masa for fools. Senator Pacquiao indeed . . .

For sure, Mr. Binay does not believe in giving the Philippines quality leadership. He believes in giving his daughter, ostensibly a secretary, a direct, power-and favor paved path into the Senate.

I personally admire President Aquino for his willingness to sacrifice his personal standing for those who have supported him. He supports them back, public reaction be damned. There is great strength in that style.

I would only encourage the President to consider BOTH loyalties when he makes his decision.

Mar Roxas and the Philippines.

Although he is not running for office himself (I presume), I’d suggest that Mr. Aquino’s LP party commission legitimate surveys of voters to determine – without slant or bias – whether or not Mar Roxas is electable.

Or if – the chief criticisms we hear – he is perceived as an elitist of poor interpersonal dealings. And, not electable, bad for the whole of the Philippines.

Mr. Aquino would be making a huge, nation-shaking decision if he chose, out of loyalty, to back a candidate who cannot win.

If polls show Mr. Roxas competes well, and could be presumed to do even better with the President’s active, working endorsement, then let’s get it on . . .

Roxas for President!

If the polls show otherwise . . .

Put an arm around Mr. Roxas, thank him sincerely, and move on.

Endorse a WINNABLE, honorable, hardworking person of executive skill and integrity.

Onward with the straight path!

Six more years! Six more years!

It’s the straightest principle there is:

The well-being of the nation over personal debts.


THE NEW YORK TIMES BLOG:

Under Francis, a Bolder Vision of Vatican Diplomacy Emerges By JIM YARDLEYDEC. 18, 2014 Photo

ROME — Perhaps the timing was purely coincidental. But a day after he was credited with helping to broker the historic diplomatic breakthrough between Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis began his Thursday morning by greeting a new crop of envoys to the Vatican, and offering some advice.

“The work of an ambassador lies in small steps, small things, but they always end up making peace, bringing closer the hearts of people, sowing brotherhood among people,” he said. “This is your job, but with little things, tiny things.”

Yet if the Vatican has long practiced a methodical, discreet brand of diplomacy, what has changed under Francis — or has been restored — is a vision of diplomatic boldness, a willingness to take risks and insert the Vatican into diplomatic disputes, especially where it can act as an independent broker.

The comparison now cited by many analysts is with Pope John Paul II. If the two popes are not always simpatico on ideology, both men have understood how to use the papacy in a global media age and use the power of personal biography to help position the Vatican as a neutral broker.

Just as John Paul, the first Polish pope, had a unique credibility as a voice against Communism in Eastern Europe, so, too, does Francis — the first Latin American pope — now benefit from a unique credibility in the developing world.

“There are elements to Francis that are John Paul-esque,” said Francis Campbell, a former British ambassador to the Holy See, adding that Francis had embraced the bully pulpit provided by the papacy. “The papacy is one of the world’s great opinion formers. Whether people agree with it or disagree with it, it has a huge voice.”

It is far too soon to know how much Francis can influence other contentious global issues. He hosted a June “prayer summit” with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents that provided a photo-op but seemingly brought few concrete results. Soon after, Israel ordered an assault in Gaza against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group.

Francis has also inherited longstanding Vatican standoffs, including with Saudi Arabia, and especially China, where the Holy See and the Chinese government are engaged in a decades-old diplomatic impasse over which side will control bishops in China’s state-sanctioned Catholic churches.

The delicacy of the China issue was evident last week, when Francis refused to meet the Dalai Lama, apparently to avoid offending the Chinese, who regard the Tibetan spiritual leader as an enemy.

Yet, judging from his itinerary, Francis is pushing to establish the Vatican as a trusted diplomatic broker. In less than two years as pope, he has already traveled to the Middle East, Turkey, South Korea, Brazil, Albania, France and the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he called attention to the plight of migrants. Next month, he will travel to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and next fall he will make his first visit to the United States.

Francis inherited a Vatican bureaucracy in disarray and tainted with scandal after the unexpected resignation of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Benedict was seen as an inattentive administrator, and one of his senior aides, former Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, has been blamed for poor management and was later investigated for corruption.

Francis has revamped the bureaucracy, delegating financial tasks to a new economy ministry while appointing diplomats to key posts elsewhere, most notably his second-in-command, Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, an Italian cardinal who has led delicate Vatican negotiations with Vietnam and served as apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, in Venezuela.

Unlike during the Benedict era, Francis and Cardinal Parolin are seen as working in tandem — the charismatic pope and the methodical diplomat.

“This pope governs together with the secretary of state — he doesn’t let him act separately and independently like before,” said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert at La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper. He added that Francis had quickly built a rapport with world leaders. “He establishes relationships very easily,” he said.

In the past, the Vatican was often regarded by the non-Western world as aligned with Europe or the United States. An Argentine, Francis has regularly sought to place himself in a more neutral position, often in subtle ways.

Speaking to journalists on the papal airplane after his trip to Turkey, Francis did not hesitate to criticize the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, yet he also spoke empathetically about the negative perceptions, linked to terrorism, that are often endured by Muslims.

“So many Muslims feel offended; they say: ‘But that is not what we are. The Quran is a prophetic book of peace. This isn’t Islam,’ ” he said. “I can understand this.”

For his role in the Cuban diplomacy, Francis was following in the footsteps of John Paul, who visited the island in 1998 and called for the United States to lift the economic blockade. At the time, there had been speculation that John Paul’s trip might break the U.S.-Cuba stalemate, but it did not happen.

Even so, analysts said Catholic leaders had continued to nudge the Cuban government for change. During the 1990s, several American bishops made regular forays to Cuba, criticizing the blockade and placing attention on the difficulties faced by ordinary people.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, is credited with adroitly navigating the difficult role of defending the church against government persecution, even as he kept contacts alive with the Cuban authorities.

Cardinal Ortega also happened to be in Rome on Oct. 3 and met with Francis, according to Vatican records, raising the possibility that he, too, attended the secret October meeting that is credited with sealing the diplomatic deal.

“Ortega has always pushed for a gradual reform of the regime, for opening up, but at the same time he has been a trustworthy partner for the government — and with the full support of John Paul II, Benedict and Francis,” said Marco Politi, an author and veteran Vatican analyst.

In the end, though, it was Francis who helped engineer the final breakthrough. “Francis has brought back the Holy See on the international stage,” Mr. Politi said.

Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on December 19, 2014, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Under Francis, a Bolder Vision of Vatican Diplomacy Re-emerges .


FROM BULATLAT Torture as official policy by By BENJIE OLIVEROS Bulatlat perspective

 

Reading through the 500-page Executive Summary of the report of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, one could not help but feel revulsion and alarm at the official, systematic, and brutal application of torture on detainees the US suspected of having links with Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

Worse, the CIA’s total disregard for the lives, much less rights, of these detainees and the arbitrariness of these acts are manifested by the fact that it does not even have an accurate, official accounting of how many persons were subjected to renditions, detention and torture (euphemistically called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”). The CIA counted at least 119 detained persons, of whom 26 were later discovered to be cases of mistaken identity or were wrongly implicated by rival tribal factions, personal enemies or detainees who underwent torture and were forced to point to somebody to be relieved of suffering.

Those who were identified as having been detained without a clear basis included Sayed Habib, who was pointed to by a detainee who was undergoing torture,; Habib’s brother Shaistah Habibullah Khan; Ali Saeed Awadh, a case of mistaken identity; Modin Nik Muhammed who was pointed to because of a blood feud; Khalid Al-Masri who, after a “prolonged detention,” was determined to be innocent; Muhammad Khan who the CIA acknowledged later that they know very little of; Hayatullah Haqqani who the CIA concluded was “at the wrong place at the wrong time;” Ali Jan who was arrested merely for using a satellite phone; Mohammad Al-Shomaila and Salah Nasir Alim-Salih who were arrested based on “speculative” information.

Worth emphasizing are the arrests of Abu Hudhaifa who was subjected to ice water baths and 66 hours of sleep deprivation before being adjudged as innocent; Haji Ghalgi whose arrest was used as “leverage” against a family member who was suspected of having links with Al-Qaeda; Nazar Ali, an “intellectually challenged individual whose taped crying was used as leverage against a family member;” and Gul Rahman who died of hypothermia after being shackled and made to sit on the floor without pants only to be discovered later as a case of mistaken identity.

The tortures that CIA detainees underwent were scientifically, and systematically planned and were first administered by a psychologist and a medical doctor contracted out by the CIA. The tortures included stripping the detainee naked, sleep deprivation through constant lighting with the use of strong halogen lamps, playing loud music, stress position such as shackling a detainee on a bar with his hands above his head to force him to stand the whole night, confining him inside a coffin-like box alternated with a small box, continuous intense interrogation, attention grasp, facial slap and facial hold, abdominal slap, banging the detainee against the wall, extreme isolation, use of insects, use of diapers, mock executions and mock burial, waterboarding (euphemism for water torture through pouring water continuously on the nose and mouth of the detainee to induce drowning), ice baths, water dousing, rectal rehydration and rectal feeding.

All of these were administered not just to inflict pain but also to induce a sense of “learned helplessness.”

The brutal, inhumane and yet systematic manner by which these torture methods were applied sends shivers, especially since these are still happening in a supposedly civilized and democratic world.

One might say that because the torture that happened is being exposed today by the US Senate goes to show that these problems are being addressed and that the US is officially intolerant of torture. But at the time of the Bush administration, these “enhanced interrogation methods” were officially sanctioned, on the justification that the information that would be extracted using these techniques could save more American lives.

Yes, the Obama administration, in 2009, has officially put a stop to these practices. However, President Barack Obama has approved more drone attacks and assassinations than his predecessor.

Moreover, this is not the first time that officially sanctioned, systematic torture being employed by US state security forces was exposed. The same torture methods were exposed in declassified documents of the US dirty war in the 1980s. The declassified training manuals of US Armed Forces on counterinsurgency, counterterror and psychological warfare operations from the 1950s, 60s up to the 90s consistently prescribe the use of torture, assassinations, bombings and other such methods designed to create fear.

Reading through the US Senate report, one could sense that the use of torture or “enhanced interrogation methods” is not being condemned per se. The whole point of the report is that it has not been proven that the use of torture or EIT, as the report calls it, has produced valuable information that could have enabled US security forces to preempt terrorist attacks targeting US citizens. The CIA and former US Vice President Dick Cheney have been consistently defending the use of EIT saying that the information obtained from it saved American lives.

Does this mean that if it has been proven that torture produced valuable intelligence information it is justified?

Also, the Obama administration and the US Senate made it clear that it does not intend to prosecute anyone because of the report. This is the very reason why the US consistently refuses to sign the Rome Statutes, which would have placed it under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

What is more alarming for Filipinos is the fact that these torture methods were employed extensively by US-trained Philippine troops during the dark years of Martial Law and are still being used now. This is not surprising because US troops have been continuously training AFP troops on counterinsurgency, counterterror operations.

Remember the case of Rebelyn Pitao, a 20-year-old teacher, who was abducted, raped and brutally killed just because she was the daughter of Leoncio Pitao, a known leader of the New People’s Army? How about the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard, who was arbitrarily arrested, detained and tortured on suspicion that he is a ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The Court of Appeals later ruled that it was a case of mistaken identity.

The US Senate report also revealed that the construction of CIA secret facilities, where suspected terrorists were detained and tortured, were cleared with the host country and that the host government was rewarded millions of dollars in US aid for agreeing to it. A political prisoner once stumbled upon a victim of rendition in one military camp in the country. He tried to expose it but no reporter from corporate media agreed to look into it.

With the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by the Aquino and Obama administrations, more US military facilities would be established all over the country. So the next expose’ of the illegal activities US security forces would, without doubt, involve the Philippines. (http://bulatlat.com)


FROM FILIPINO SCRIBE DOT COM

To win in 2016, Miriam Defensor Santiago needs to defy history :By  MARK PERE MADRONA - NOVEMBER 15, 2014


2016 Miriam Defensor-Santiago, potential 2016 presidential candidate (Credits: www.miriam.com.ph)

With each passing day, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is sounding more and more like someone who is dead-set in running for president in May 2016. Regarded as one of the most famous politicians in the social media, the feisty senator has given a lot of hints about her plans for 2016.

During a speaking engagement at the Ateneo de Manila University last week, she said: “In the 2016 presidential elections, when I am rid of my lung cancer, I intend to claim the presidency I won in 1992.” She added that if elected, she intends “to appoint a cabinet, half of whom shall be from the youth sector, and half from senior citizens.”

Last September, Santiago went as far as mentioning names of individuals in her wish-list of potential running-mates: first-term Senator Grace Poe, long-time Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and former Defense Secretary and 2010 presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro.

The Ilongga legislator is constitutionally barred from seeking another term in the Senate by 2016, which means her viable political options are already limited.

If the Senator is indeed serious in running for president in 2016, she will have to defy a lot of historical odds. First is her age. If she wins in May 2016, she will be 71 by the time she assumes office. Her birthday is June 15, which is just fifteen days before the inauguration.

The oldest person to be elected president is the man Santiago says cheated her of victory in 1992 – Fidel V. Ramos. Ramos, former defense secretary during the term of Corazon Aquino, stepped down from the presidency in 1998. He was 70. (Watch him do push ups and sit ups in this video taken from last year, at 85!)

Sergio Osmena Sr. is the oldest person to become president. He assumed office when Manuel Quezon died of tuberculosis in August 1, 1944. He was just 39 days short of his 66th birthday. Osmena ran for his own term in 1946 but lost to Manuel Roxas. (The fact that Santiago supposedly has lung cancer is a topic worth discussing but not in this post).

For Santiago to be regarded as a viable presidential candidate 22 years after she first sought the post speaks a lot about her political longevity. I can’t help but compare her to Hillary Clinton.

However, the fact is, Filipinos has never elected for president someone who has previously ran for that position and lost. Keep in mind that the Philippines have had fifteen presidential elections since 1935. That’s the second hurdle that Santiago needs to overcome.

We all know that Santiago lost the presidency to Ramos by just 880,000 votes in 1992 (she began her campaign sorties a year before). What many people don’t recall is that she ran again six years after. This time, she finished seventh in a field of ten candidates with less than 800,000 votes.

There are also other politicians who fared worse in their second failed presidential run. Former Senator Raul Roco, a candidate for president in 1998 and 2004, saw his vote share drop from 3.7 million to just 2 million.

Jesus Is Lord leader Eddie Villanueva received close to two million votes in his first run for the presidency in 2004, but he only got 1.1 million votes in 2010.

Another two-time presidential contender is former first lady Imelda Marcos. She ran in 1992, finishing fifth in a field of seven candidates and with 2.3 million votes. Like Santiago, she ran again in 1998 but withdrew her candidacy days before the elections to endorse eventual winner Joseph Estrada.

The third historical trend that Santiago needs to overcome is that no presidential candidate, not one!, has won without a political machinery. All presidents triumphed in the polls with the backing of a major political party.

Emilio Aguinaldo didn’t have to run a national campaign (he was “elected” through the Tejeros Convention of 1897), and so is Jose P. Laurel (he was handpicked by the Japanese colonizers in 1943). Although Ramos’ Lakas-CMD party was still a greenhorn during the 1992 polls, he enjoyed the backing of President Aquino.

Can Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago defy these three historical trends to become the country’s 16th (and third woman) president? Her over two million Facebook followers may already have a ready reply.


FROM CROSSROADS PHILIPPINES

Wrong campaigns to extol Roxas December 21, 2014 Written by admin_name


Mar Roxas, DILG LP presidential contender

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, LP’s presumptive presidential candidate

At one point after the Typhoon Ruby and the shame it once again brought on Mar Roxas, after the funny motorcycle accident; social media brigades of the administration once again floated President Aquino’s second term campaign. It also tried to extol Aquino’s leadership, sanitized his performance and glorified his presidency as one amazing, trailblazing kind that put governance to meaningful reforms that achieved anti-corruption gains. Of course that was because at that point Roxas again bungled his chance, tailed at the tally boards of presidential wannabes being at the number 6.

Every time Roxas falls, his cabal of propagandists in the social media turns on to Aquino by extolling his virtues, his accomplishments and his avowed principles of governance. They would try to rise up the lame duck president and withstand his relevance or else they will both fall into oblivion. Why does it happen? Even after the costly social media campaign, conventional media drive to decapitate Vice President Jejomar Binay?

The Liberal Party’s image builders should stop the ‘spamming social media campaign’ that only destroys honor and violates human rights. It also pinched the sensitivities of Filipinos and denigrates the social media traditions of avoiding a spammy marketing.In social media or internet marketing, a spammy advertisements are a no-no.

A very clear and obvious campaign can’t lift up the objective of winning a ‘click’ for the product endorsed, for the political aspect of course the personality being build up. The destruction of an enemy is not guaranteed by shaming him or faking some issues that would put to viral in the social media streams in an objective that would destroy his honor, especially when a campaign was made in a very obvious manner. Social Media users have a thinking head and they should not assume to take all the campaigns in a favorable light without question. It’s just wrong and so assuming. It had ultimately backfired.

The LP’s social media and internet campaign is so manifest you would know in an instance that what they’re doing validates the argument of political debasement, using the dirty method of mob lynching assumed by the Binay camp. They ultimately lost their credibility and it shied away prospective targets. Newsfeeds shared by ludicrous campaigners were left unclick and people avoided them because it is so apparent.

That brings the multi-million Facebook and Twitter campaigns to the waste basket which many believed it has been funded by unaccounted palace DAP funds. Right now, it has become so pathetic and annoying that some Facebook users block known operators to trash out the campaigns streamed on their news feed.

They did not realize that people in the social media have their own rights and prerogative to control what will appear on their Newsfeeds and junked the spam altogether. It is a campaign brought about by desperation to quell the rising clamor for change. Change in Malacanang’s guard from the Oligarchs to the masses.

Roxas is perceived to be anti-poor, born an oligarch, while his wife Korina a high classy broadcaster who have the penchant of displaying her arrogance in the air can’t represent the general sentiment of the poor.

 It’s time for them to change course, their time is running out. Binay’s acceptability although wrenched by some negativity after the rigorous multi-faceted campaigns, he’s still in command. He might as well be on the road to history, a poor boy down the road to the presidency.


FROM THE GLOBALaNTIcORRUPTION BLOG

The Philippines Must Break the Power of Political Dynasties Post navigation
Posted on December 1, 2014 by Beatriz Paterno


PHOTO COURTESY OF he Lord of The Nerds Blog

Democratic systems are no strangers to political dynasties. In the United States, some well-known families have been in politics for generations—the Kennedys held an impressive 64-year streak in Congress until 2011 (and staged a comeback only two years later), and earlier this month George P. Bush won the race for Texas Land Commissioner, carrying on the political legacy of his father Jeb Bush, his uncle George W. Bush, and his grandfather George H.W. Bush.

Although the idea of political royalty inheriting power seems to cut against equal opportunity, members of such families have been revered throughout history. But political dynasties present a much greater threat to democracy when they control a majority of power in the country. In the Philippines, one study estimated that political dynasties comprised up to 70% of the last Philippine Congress (compared to 6% of the last U.S. Congress). During the last election, one notorious political clan had 80 members running for office. Indeed, Philippine political clans have evolved into the most efficient (and at times, deadly) means of monopolizing power.

Various members of the same family often cycle through the same congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral seats in their home province, and it’s not unusual to see an electoral race pitting two members of the same family against each other. In many ways, the dynastic culture of politics has removed meaningful choice from the voters, and exacerbated the pervasiveness of corruption in government.

A possible solution is before the Philippine Congress right now—the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill. This bill would prohibit any spouse or first-degree relation (including parents, siblings, and children) of an incumbent elected official from seeking elected office.

Although individuals may run once their relative’s term is up, they may not immediately succeed that relative in the same elected office. (The bill would have a enormous effect on the upcoming 2016 elections—Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has already announced his candidacy, and whose daughter’s term in the Senate runs until 2019, would be precluded from running for President.)

At first blush, the bill may seem antidemocratic, as it (temporarily) suspends the rights of many individuals to seek elected office. Still, in the Philippines, where the concentration of political power has bred such a strong culture of corruption, certain rights may need to be sacrificed. It is a drastic problem in need of a drastic solution.

There are several reasons why Congress should pass this bill and limit the influence of political families:

First, political dynasties corrupt the system of checks and balances. One recent example is Vice President Binay, who, for the past few months, has been under investigation by a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for alleged corruption. One might question how effective the investigation will be given that Binay’s two daughters are members of Congress.

The problem is even more pronounced in smaller localities. By packing every major office, it’s quite easy for clans to organize local militias, siphon off public funding, and perpetuate their rule by cycling through the ranks.

Second, the centrality of dynasties to politics lowers the costs associated with committing corrupt acts. Even if they face corruption or other criminal charges, political actors can continue to reap the benefits of power by having spouses or children take their seats.

After one representative was found guilty of murdering the sons of his political rival, his seat in the House was taken over by his wife, ensuring that the family name remained relevant long enough for him to seek reelection after the appellate court cleared him of all charges.

Third, the continued success of political families despite corruption charges undermines the rule of law, and perpetuates a system of corruption in government. Well-intentioned individuals are deterred from seeking office, leaving positions open to individuals who view government as an opportunity to amass more wealth and power.

These issues have plagued Philippine politics for countless generations—in fact, the framers of the 1987 Constitution called upon Congress to pass a law to inhibit the power of political clans. Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution states that “[t]he State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” Because the provision is not self-executing, however, it has remained largely meaningless for the past three decades.

And there is a particular reason that the anti-dynasty bill should be passed now. Enacting an anti-dynasty law is no small task for a Congress overrun with the very families it seeks to preclude from office.

But after 27 years, efforts to pass such a law have come further than ever before, perhaps in part because of widespread public support the bill garnered after one of the largest corruption scandals in recent memory. For the first time ever, the bill reached the House plenary session, and a Senate version was discussed during a committee hearing weeks later. In his Fifth State of the Nation Address, the President stated that he would immediately sign the Act if it successfully made it through Congress.

Although this bill is quite controversial, it would go a long way toward addressing the highly corrosive nature of political dynasties, and provide opportunities for talented, energetic individuals to challenge the current state of Philippine politics. It’s important that Congress—and the electorate—seize this political moment to ensure the passage of the bill.


VIEWPOINT FROM THE DAVAO TODAY ONLINE

Fight for genuine freedom of information law By DAVAOTODAY.com December 06 2014 Altermidya Pooled Editorial

There is no reason to rejoice over the recent approval of the consolidated bill on Freedom of Information (FOI) in the House at the committee level, and the approval of the Senate version earlier this year.

We, alternative media practitioners united under Altermidya, believe that the FOI versions restrict rather than enhance public access to information.

The consolidated bills, both in the Lower House and the Senate, fail to meet the minimum international standards set by Article 19 for an FOI law to be effective. These include, among others, the following:

• a strong presumption in favor of disclosure (the principle of maximum disclosure);

• broad definitions of information and public bodies;

• positive obligations to publish key categories of information;

• clear and narrowly drawn exceptions, subject to a strong harm test and a public interest override; and

• effective oversight of the right by an independent administrative body.

Both FOI bills adopted all of the exceptions proposed by Malacañang in its own version. Contrary to Palace claims that these are necessary, the list institutionalizes the absence of transparency and accountability.

Exempting from public access the minutes, drafts of resolutions, orders, memoranda etc., including drafts of bilateral and multilateral agreements from public scrutiny, precludes citizen participation in decision-making on issues of public interest.

Subjecting access to income tax returns, and statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) of public officials to existing laws, rules and regulations further undermines efforts to curb corruption.

The provision exempting from disclosure matters involving national security is also so broad that it could be used to hide cases of human rights violations perpetrated by state agents.

With regard to the public interest override, both bills state that “The President, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Constitutional Commissions may waive an exception with respect to information in the custody of offices under their respective supervision or control, when they deem that there is an overriding public interest in disclosure.” (Emphasis supplied)

This provision does not provide a mechanism for checks and balance. In both bills, no independent administrative body that will have effective oversight of the right to information will be created.

Journalists and ordinary citizens have been demanding enactment of a genuine freedom of information law. We cannot settle for a law that will make truth telling even more difficult: a bad law is worse than no law at all.

Altermidya is a nationwide network of independent and progressive alternative media outfits and practitioners in the Philippines that promotes journalism for the people.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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