PHNO EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK: FROM PHILSTAR

PNoy 'CAUSED MAMASAPANO DEBACLE' BY ABETTING PURISIMA


By Jarius Bondoc --President Noynoy Aquino caused the Mamasapano debacle. He let suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima run the operation that left 44 SAFs dead and 16 wounded. That the planning and execution was flawed, and reinforcements were slow are offshoots. So are Purisima’s misleading reports, and P-Noy’s conflicting statements. The issue is P-Noy abetted Purisima’s misdeed, as shown in testimonies, timelines, and texts. The Ombudsman calls Purisima’s act “usurpation of authority.” He persisted as PNP boss despite a six-month suspension. Letting him usurp such authority makes P-Noy a liable conspirator. That’s from a law dean, a trial judge, and two litigators, who requested anonymity. The conspiracy to usurp happened to flop. But it was wrong to begin with, even had there been no casualties, the legal sources noted. READ MORE...

ALSO: Missing (When the going got tough)


By Alex Magno --We do not know where that sanctuary is, that place, actual or figurative, into which President Aquino disappears when the going gets tough. Not a few have noticed this disturbing pattern in Aquino’s behavior, his propensity to drop out of public view for days or weeks coinciding with stressful times. Sometimes, the absence is metaphorical: he is physically there but politically absent. It took nearly four days after the Mamasapano calamity before Aquino materialized to discuss the matter with the people. That address, given full primetime play on television, was dull and evasive. It raised so much more questions about what really happened that a second address to the nation was booked the week after – to no avail. READ MORE...

ALSO: Reversal of fortune


By Ana Marie Pamintuan ---......Failure to curb political dynasty-building has abetted corruption and brazen disregard of laws against nepotism. The 2013 elections showed dynasty-building reaching shameless proportions, with clans wanting to corner not only all elective seats in their turfs but also in any place where they can claim some ancestry or early residency. Dynasties also perpetuate patronage politics. P-Noy, as well-meaning as he is, belongs to the old rich and can only do so much to try to transform an entrenched system. When his countdown to noon of June 30, 2016 finally ends, he can say he did his best. But as the song goes, the best still wasn’t good enough. He would end his term four months after the 30th anniversary of the people power revolt. The EDSA movie could be a blockbuster, and it would leave many Pinoys in tears. READ FULL REPORT FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO Status: Complicated to unpopular


By Cito Beltran ---The current status of President Noynoy Aquino has gone from “complicated” to “unpopular.” His status also rekindles the issue of how long is long enough for a presidency. Before the Cory Constitution was written in stone Philippine Presidents had a term limit of 4 years and if he did well and if he behaved, he could run for re-election for another four years. Unfortunately Ferdinand Marcos Sr. liked being president so much that he decided to become president for life. In reaction to this extended stay, the Cory crew thought that the best solution would be to limit the presidency to 6 years with no re-election. We are now realizing or discovering that this decision was not as brilliant as first thought of. Both the Arroyo and Aquino presidency have taught us that 6 years is too long under a bad or incompetent presidency. Re-election for another four years would certainly be a bum deal under a bad President but he or she would not easily be re-elected unless he or she had at least given a good first run in their first term or cheated like hell, which is what happens under dictatorships or absolute corruption or because we really pissed off GOD! READ ENTIRE COLUMN FROM BEGINNING...

ALSO: No quick fix
That “unity march” was not people power but a panic attack by the administration.


By Ana Marie Pamintuan ---The tuwid na daan or straight path lost more public goodwill the other day with that show of hakot unity that snarled traffic for hours along EDSA and surrounding areas from Quezon City to Parañaque. Since it was a regular working day, people went to work earlier than usual to avoid the expected traffic on the 29th anniversary of the people power revolt – only to find out that portions of EDSA had been closed as early as 6 a.m. Why? So a bunch of cops and soldiers could march arm in arm to the EDSA Shrine and show to the world that P-Noy was in no danger of being toppled. That “unity march” was not people power but a panic attack by the administration. The groups that staged anti-Aquino rallies in previous days – belittled by Malacañang for their numbers – can count the panic attack as their achievement. They shouted “boo!” and the administration jumped – unfortunately, at the expense of harried motorists and commuters, who were stuck in traffic for up to four hours last Wednesday. P-Noy should relax – his popularity has taken a hit again because of the Mamasapano mess, but there’s no groundswell for a change of leadership this late into his single, six-year term. CONTINUE READUING...

ALSO: When will we see an end to this charade? What’s really wrong with telling the Filipino people the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the Mamasapano tragedy?


By Bobit S. Avila ---
It’s been a month and a day and no matter how the Aquino regime tries to present to the grieving families of the 44 fallen Special Action Force (SAF) policemen and the Filipino nation, it still falls short of giving justice where justice is due. What’s really wrong with telling the Filipino people the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the Mamasapano tragedy? Don’t they know that the “truth shall prevail” and set them free?  The problem with the Malacañang sycophants, they still believe in that gospel spread by Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Gobbles who once quipped “A lie repeated a thousand times assumes the substance of truth.” But we all know a substance of truth, is still ain’t the truth! The beauty of telling the truth is that… there is only one story to tell.  Let me remind you that when the Agrava Commission came up with supposedly the truth as to who killed the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of President Aquino, many of us didn’t buy the Agrava Commission story. Many of us have a general idea of who killed Ninoy. But when Cory Aquino became President, she didn’t bother to find out who killed her husband. When the convicted triggerman in the Aquino assassination M/S Pablo Martinez was released, he was supposed to tell the truth about that killing… but P-Noy didn’t give him the time of day. Then a few weeks later, Martinez died in a mysterious road accident. Thus it only fueled more talk about that conspiracy theory. CONTINUE READING....

ALSO: Why the admin’s fear of street assemblies?


FEAR NOT:
Malacañang should not be afraid to hear dissenting voices of people assembling in public places, most especially on historic Epifanio de los Santos Ave. The Palace became jittery when crowds materialized yesterday on EDSA and nearby points with the announced intention to converge for a “human chain” around the EDSA-Ortigas intersection in Mandaluyong.  Many congressional leaders, including Belmonte, concede that the BBL has provisions in need of revision to conform to the Constitution. It remains to be seen how last Tuesday’s meeting of President Aquino and House leaders would affect the mood in the chamber. * * *  HOUSE LEADERS: Invited by President Aquino to Malacañang was a 33-member leaders’ group from the House led by Speaker Belmonte. For the record, we list them here. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

P-Noy ‘caused debacle’ by abetting Purisima


By Jarius Bondoc

MANILA, MARCH 2, 2015 (PHILSTAR) GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc - President Noynoy Aquino caused the Mamasapano debacle. He let suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima run the operation that left 44 SAFs dead and 16 wounded.

That the planning and execution was flawed, and reinforcements were slow are offshoots. So are Purisima’s misleading reports, and P-Noy’s conflicting statements. The issue is P-Noy abetted Purisima’s misdeed, as shown in testimonies, timelines, and texts.

The Ombudsman calls Purisima’s act “usurpation of authority.” He persisted as PNP boss despite a six-month suspension. Letting him usurp such authority makes P-Noy a liable conspirator. That’s from a law dean, a trial judge, and two litigators, who requested anonymity.

The conspiracy to usurp happened to flop. But it was wrong to begin with, even had there been no casualties, the legal sources noted.

The Revised Penal Code punishes usurpers (Art. 177) with “prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.” Meaning, six months to two years behind bars, eligible for probation. Conspirators can be convicted (Art. 8) because “the act of one is the act of all.”

Answerable too are SAF Dir. Getulio Napeñas and PNP intelligence Chief Supt. Fernando Mendez. Ex-judge Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said so in a hearing where the two admitted to reporting only to the suspended Purisima. They could be accomplices to usurpation (Art. 18), the legal sources stated.

The fiasco also saw the death of 18 MILFs with whom P-Noy has a truce, and four civilians, two of them youngsters. Six hundred families fled homes and farms due to the daylong SAF battle against the MILF and its splinter but blood-tied BIFF. Government peace talks with the MILF are on the verge of collapse. Congress has shelved the BBL that would enlarge and elevate the Muslim autonomous region to a sub-state.

Most damning of testimonies was Purisima’s himself. He admitted to briefing P-Noy on the impending SAF strike on terrorists Marwan and Usman in Mamasapano. The last Malacañang briefing, with Napeñas and Mendez, was Jan. 9. Purpose: final clearance of the SAF raid by Commander-in-Chief P-Noy.

Purisima was then one month into his six-month suspension while under Ombudsman probe for graft. The suspension began Dec. 4 and is to end in June. In joining the briefing, P-Noy conspired with Purisima to usurp the powers of the PNP chief, the sources said.

In his first public statement three nights after the blunder, P-Noy said Purisima oversaw O-Plan Exodus only till he was suspended. Yet in Congress inquiries, Napeñas and Mendez swore that Purisima brought them to the Jan. 9 briefing.

Napeñas expounded that he and Mendez stepped out afterwards, leaving Purisima with P-Noy. Exiting soon after, Purisima “advised” Napeñas to not tell his direct superiors, PNP acting chief Leonardo Espina and Interior Sec. Mar Roxas, about the raid till it was over. Purisima was to inform Armed Forces Gen. Gregorio Catapang.

Napeñas’ late informing of his lawful superiors, and Purisima’s of the AFP took Espina, Roxas, Catapang, and Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin by surprise on Jan. 25. The four couldn’t get fast enough the nearest Army infantry and tanks to extricate the SAFs who by dawn had been encircled by the MILF and BIFF.

Purisima and Napeñas bungled the SAF infiltration-exfiltration. Their non-coordination with the MILF, as required by the truce, worsened it. Those resulted from the conspiratorial usurpation, the sources said. With no operational experience in Mindanao, Purisima’s PNP headship drew largely from closeness to P-Noy as personal bodyguard during the Presidency of Cory Aquino.

On Jan. 19 Purisima texted Napeñas for updates, which he then relayed to P-Noy. It was again proof of usurpation, the sources said, with P-Noy “a principal by indispensable consent, if not inducement or active participation” (Art. 17).

After killing Marwan, the SAFs did not expect to have to fight their way out of the MILF-BIFF pincers. Fierce fighting ensued — “pintakasi,” or cockfight free-for-all, as both the Army and Moro rebels call it.

On that fateful morning Purisima exchanged texts with P-Noy from 5:45 to 8 a.m. about the unfolding events. The first texts were about Marwan’s killing and Usman’s escape. The next few were about firefights with Marwan’s BIFF coddlers. The last was a false assurance by Purisima that Army mechanized and artillery units already were aiding the embattled SAFs. The exchanges showed that P-Noy relied on the suspended PNP chief for operational control, the sources said.

P-Noy cannot invoke the Commander-in-Chief’s option to consult anyone he wishes, the sources said, for it refers only to the lawful. P-Noy can be liable for breaking his constitutional oath to “execute [all] laws” (Art. VII, Sec. 5), they added.

* * *

Enigmatic Joe Almonte’s bio is off the press. “Endless Journey: A Memoir,” as told to renowned journalist Marites Vitug, recounts JoAl’s extraordinary exploits and causes. In the ‘60s he was hostage-prince for the Vietcong to not harm the Philippine civil-military contingent to South Vietnam. In the ‘70s he led Marcos’ think tank; in the ‘80s founding head of Reform AFP Movement that ousted the dictator. In the ‘90s he helped undo monopolies in telecoms, ports, and shipping. Since then JoAl has helped mold foreign and domestic policy, and pushed for clean elections and food security, among others.

READERS REACT to a Bangsamoro Basic Law (Gotcha, 20 Feb. 2015):

Antonio Wee: “When government settled with the Moro National Liberation Front, it said peace was at hand. The splinter Moro Islamic Liberation Front went on fighting, so government negotiated with them too. As a BBL is about to settle the MILF secession, there’s a new group to deal with, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. When will it end?”

Ampilo Sevilla: “Cory and Noynoy Aquino were reluctant Presidents merely shoved into it. Mother and son had no vision for the Filipino so ended up wasting six-year terms, except in enriching cronies.”

To government corruption and ineptitude:

Rodolfo Lat, LSQC ‘67: “The DPWH is to build for P1.2 billion an underpass along Buendia Avenue, across Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas. It didn’t study the problem, which is twofold: jeepneys are let to load-unload riders in the middle of the road, and enforcers to monkey around with the traffic lights. They need not spend big to fix Makati’s traffic system. Problem is, they don’t listen to us mortals.”

* * *

The MILF won’t surrender its fighters who massacred 35 of the SAF-44 in Mamasapano on Jan. 25. Government’s very peace talks gave the separatists a status of belligerency. It accepted the MILF’s internal rules, including discipline.

Still, the MILF must punish its men who executed the wounded SAFs, as videoed. Such act is a war crime that all governments and belligerents must shun.

It’s right to make the MILF return intact the weapons, uniforms, and personal effects that its men took from the slain SAFs. Both sides call the firefight an unintended “mis-encounter.” For the MILF to say it can’t make its members return the loot since they also suffered casualties is copout. That only means it can’t control them. Three implications:

(1) The MILF cannot punish the executioners;

(2) It will not disarm under the BBL; and

(3) Its reign over a nascent Bangsamoro would be of terror.


Missing FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 24, 2015 - 12:00am


Alex Magno

We do not know where that sanctuary is, that place, actual or figurative, into which President Aquino disappears when the going gets tough.

Not a few have noticed this disturbing pattern in Aquino’s behavior, his propensity to drop out of public view for days or weeks coinciding with stressful times. Sometimes, the absence is metaphorical: he is physically there but politically absent.

It took nearly four days after the Mamasapano calamity before Aquino materialized to discuss the matter with the people. That address, given full primetime play on television, was dull and evasive. It raised so much more questions about what really happened that a second address to the nation was booked the week after – to no avail.

Every year, the President of the Republic personally hands out the Ten Outstanding Young Filipinos award. This year, Aquino did not show face at the ceremony, which was held at the Palace for his convenience.

The backlash to his handling of the Mamasapano incident was massive, although it appears Aquino did not understand that until it was too late. It could be his work cycle or his personal habits: Aquino seemed to be responding in slow motion to a conflagration in the streets.

The same work cycle or personal habits might explain why scores of appointive positions, including dozens of senior posts at the PNP, remain unfilled. Among the most visible are three seats at the Comelec, the chair of the CSC, the head of the COA, the Secretary of Health, the chief of the PNP and several other sub-Cabinet posts.

Many of the appointive posts have been vacant for months. The adverse effect on the work of the national bureaucracy cannot be overstated. The Comelec will soon be preparing for next year’s polls. The OIC at the PNP, an organization now in the throes of demoralization, could not promote or transfer senior staff.

It does seem the national bureaucracy is in limbo. If the President will not do work, the bureaucracy will not move. Citizens will be short-changed.

The only time Aquino ventured out after Indonesian President Widodo’s state visit was when he popped up at Camp Crame, where relatives of the slain SAF commandos were processing their papers. The unscheduled visit dragged on for hours, a repeat of Aquino’s appearance at the Camp Bagong Diwa necro services.

It appears that Aquino was trying to compensate for missing the Villamor arrival honors by simply lingering too long in the company of the grief-stricken. It also appears the visit was a great chore for the President. Soon enough he was arguing with the widows and allowing himself to say insensitive things that hurt rather than help the grieving.

After that, Aquino disappeared once more.

If the President is not functioning as he should, can the presidency be functional?

Outlaw

Two months ago, the arbitration tribunal hearing the case of Maynilad against the MWSS ruled clearly in favor of the former. The MWSS, in defying the ruling, puts itself above the law. The government agency is behaving in a manner that will scare away even more investors.

Each month the ruling is not implemented, the concessionaire loses hundreds of millions of pesos. This is not at all the rules-based regime investors want to be assured off when they bring capital into our economy.

The MWSS offers a nonsensical excuse for not acting on the ruling of the arbitration panel. It might confuse consumers, they say, if the forthcoming ruling on a parallel case filed by Manila Water against the agency favors MWSS.

MWSS has no right to use the Manila Water case as an excuse for not acting immediately on the ruling favoring Maynilad. While the two cases filed by the water utilities involve the same issues, they are two separate legal procedures. Obeying the ruling on the case involving Maynilad cannot possibly be contingent on the ruling on the case involving Manila Water.

MWSS’ logic is simply bizarre. It is also whimsical, imperious, arbitrary and possible criminal.

The two concessionaires sought arbitration when MWSS arbitrarily junked provisions in the contracts meant to protect the interests of the private investors who put in good money to modernize the NCR’s water distribution system. When the two utilities asked for the rate increases due them by the provisions of existing contracts, the MWSS instead despotically ordered them to bring down rates.

MWSS might be playing to the gallery, pandering to the populist crowd, trying to win political brownie points. That is not its role, however. Its role is to ensure long-term development of the water distribution system by ensuring a rules-based regime guaranteeing predictability and transparency.

If it cannot do that, MWSS betrays its mandate. If it politicizes everything, then everything will become uncertain. If everything becomes uncertain, no investments will flow into precisely those sectors crying out for modernization.

True, it is MWSS’ duty to protect consumer interest. It accomplishes that duty by ensuring ample and high-quality water for all consumers at a fair price.

It is not MWSS’ mandate to play the populist clown, to bring down water rates to unsustainable levels that might make consumers happy in the short-term but miserable in the long-term if no new investments are made in the distribution and bulk water system.

There is a fine line between adept regulation and populist pandering. That fine line must be observed, even if at certain points short-term populist demands might lose sight of long-term policy requirements. Utilities involve long-term investments. Those investments will come only if regulatory institutions govern with wisdom rather than myopic politicking.


Reversal of fortune SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 25, 2015 - 12:00am


Ana Marie Pamintuan

On the 29th anniversary of people power, the reversals of fortune can make a movie good enough for the Oscars:

The other half of the conjugal dictatorship is an “honorable” member of the House of Representatives, still living it up and with all her relatives back in power. Her only son and Ferdinand Marcos’ namesake is in the Senate and is seriously considering a run for the presidency.

Meanwhile, EDSA hero Juan Ponce Enrile is under “hospital arrest” without bail for large-scale corruption. His RAMboys – members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement linked to coup attempts during the post-EDSA Aquino presidency – have broken up in an ugly squabble reportedly over rebel amnesty money.

Billions in assets have been seized by or turned over to the Philippine government after being legally declared ill-gotten, but no one is in prison for accumulating the vast wealth illegally.

Several of the biggest Marcos cronies are fully rehabilitated, with their wealth and influence not only intact but also greater.

Many victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship have yet to receive several thousand pesos each as compensation for their suffering. The amount, though small, is considered symbolic and the payment precedent-setting. Meanwhile, Pinoys continue to vote for unapologetic human rights violators who present themselves to be tough on crime.

Twenty-nine years after the people power revolt, there are groups trying to resuscitate the coup virus and are calling for the ouster or resignation of the only son of Benigno and Corazon Aquino. Their numbers are negligible, but the personalities are an interesting mix. They include Cory Aquino’s younger brother and his wife plus a smattering of Catholic bishops.

* * *

Justice is elusive in this country under normal circumstances. Trying to make a regime account for its abuses during 14 years of authoritarian rule is even more complicated.

The fact that the quest for justice is difficult, however, should not mean giving up on it, which is what it looks like in the pursuit of accountability for abuses during the Marcos regime. After recovering several pieces of prime real estate in the United States and getting back millions of dollars in Swiss bank deposits, we have given up on the accountability part. Who deposited the ill-gotten funds in Switzerland? How come we’re not going after the account holder/s?

We’ve kicked out a chief justice for failure to disclose dollar accounts. The Swiss bank deposits, including accumulated interest while in escrow, amount to a whopping $683 million. The deposits were declared ill-gotten by Philippine courts, and Swiss authorities agreed. Why isn’t any account holder behind bars, without bail, for plunder?

Our government has seized priceless original artworks of the masters from the Marcoses and is still running after more. How come no one is being summoned for a probe or charges being filed for possession of such treasures only a billionaire collector can afford? Were these assets declared? Did anyone ever explain how public officials in a developing country could afford to buy such treasures?

* * *

The most enduring legacy of EDSA is undeniable: democracy was restored, warts and all, and there’s no going back to authoritarian rule. This is a remarkable feat worth celebrating every year. Young Filipinos will never live in fear of hearing a knock on their door at 3 a.m., of being dragged from their home and driven to unknown destinations where their worst nightmares await.

But building on the gains of people power and making democracy work have been a difficult slog. There is no magic wand for progress and inclusive growth.

People denounce the “kleptocracy” during the Marcos regime, but no one has been punished for corruption on a scale so vast a new word had to be invented for it.

No human rights violator went to prison either. And whoever ordered the assassination of P-Noy’s father Benigno Aquino Jr. is home free; not even two Aquino presidencies could give Ninoy justice.

Seeing everyone getting away with double murder, torture and enforced disappearances, world-class corruption and flouting of unexplained wealth is the biggest reason for the persistence of these abuses, 29 years after the Marcos regime finally collapsed.

The failure to make anyone account for the sins of the dictatorship has bred impunity. It has given rise to a common reaction when public officials are indicted and arrested for similar offenses: others are doing it, why pick on me?

When those occupying high positions in government are setting the example in stealing from taxpayers, they lose the moral authority to demand honest service from their subordinates. Economic growth does not trickle down to the grassroots in this country, but corruption does.

Failure to curb political dynasty-building has abetted corruption and brazen disregard of laws against nepotism. The 2013 elections showed dynasty-building reaching shameless proportions, with clans wanting to corner not only all elective seats in their turfs but also in any place where they can claim some ancestry or early residency.

Dynasties also perpetuate patronage politics. P-Noy, as well-meaning as he is, belongs to the old rich and can only do so much to try to transform an entrenched system. When his countdown to noon of June 30, 2016 finally ends, he can say he did his best. But as the song goes, the best still wasn’t good enough.

He would end his term four months after the 30th anniversary of the people power revolt. The EDSA movie could be a blockbuster, and it would leave many Pinoys in tears.

* * *

PAY NOW, WAIT FOREVER: Vehicle registration fees have gone up, but it’s still a long wait for car stickers. With just 16 months left in the daang matuwid administration, inefficiency and incompetence continue to reign at the Department of Transportation and Communications.

We can’t wait for this incompetent team to leave, but P-Noy will also be missed. Yesterday at mid-afternoon, a brown Chevrolet Trailblazer (WB8920) made its way along Taft Avenue to the Manila city hall with its path cleared by the wang-wang of two motorcycle cops. Some consider it trivial, but the ban on this annoying VIP entitlement is something that must be sustained after P-Noy steps down.


Status: Complicated to unpopular CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 25, 2015 - 12:00am


CITO BELTRAN

MACTAN, Cebu — With Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte giving his support and endorsement for “Federalism” or a federal system of government in the Philippines, the “movement” has gained a media magnet as their champion and is slowly gaining supporters outside Imperial Metro Manila. He may not realize it but if Federalism actually takes off with his support under the next presidency or administration, Duterte would be doing us a lot more good than actually becoming the President of the Philippines.

In his book “Talent Is Not Enough” author John Maxwell stated that 1 is an insignificant number. In terms of the presidency many #1s thought they could change the Philippines but ended up being miserably changed by the experience often for the worse. If Duterte wants to be “generational” in terms of action and legacy, the promotion and realization of federalism in the Philippines will be a true legacy that will bring greater good for the greater number more than becoming #1.

* * *

The Philippines is now closer to the reality of Federalism in principle or in fact. We already have the Cordillera Autonomous Region or CAR. While they make no noise or declaration, Ilocandia particularly Northern Ilocos has concentrated on a development program “with or without” assistance from the national government. The province of Cebu has proudly and historically disdained Imperial Metro Manila and could very well go on being “An Island in the Pacific” as they promoted Cebu in the ’80s. Not many people realize it but the province of Davao could qualify as the birthplace of federalism as a real political movement and not just as a suggestion. Even ten years ago political leaders in Davao have pushed for Federalism to be free of too much politics and mismanagement by Imperial Manila.

After their experience with the absence or lack of support from the national government during Typhoon Yolanda, Tacloban City and many parts of Eastern Samar can be easily convinced to support and become a federal state and determine their own destiny. There is also the group from the province of Pampanga pushing for the decongestion of Metro Manila by shifting the national economic network and dependency on Imperial Metro Manila.

If and when the Bangsamoro Basic Law leads to the creation of the Bangsamoro government, it is unlikely that Imperial Metro Manila will be able to stop the Federalist movement. Perhaps the “federalists” should spend more time looking for champions, educating people and last but not the least helping provinces and regions to organize themselves into “proposed federal states” in fact or in principle. Instead of waiting for the BBL to happen or blocking the BBL, we should all consider “Federalism” as an alternative. The regions, provinces and ethnic communities still have a right to manage their affairs with greater independence and can still exercise a form of self-determination without radical or separatists threats or fears.

* * *

The current status of President Noynoy Aquino has gone from “complicated” to “unpopular.” His status also rekindles the issue of how long is long enough for a presidency. Before the Cory Constitution was written in stone Philippine Presidents had a term limit of 4 years and if he did well and if he behaved, he could run for re-election for another four years. Unfortunately Ferdinand Marcos Sr. liked being president so much that he decided to become president for life.

In reaction to this extended stay, the Cory crew thought that the best solution would be to limit the presidency to 6 years with no re-election. We are now realizing or discovering that this decision was not as brilliant as first thought of. Both the Arroyo and Aquino presidency have taught us that 6 years is too long under a bad or incompetent presidency. Re-election for another four years would certainly be a bum deal under a bad President but he or she would not easily be re-elected unless he or she had at least given a good first run in their first term or cheated like hell, which is what happens under dictatorships or absolute corruption or because we really pissed off GOD!

The current six-year term seriously needs to be rewritten because six years with no option to terminate, revoke or invalidate except via revolt or takeover, does more damage than good, is susceptible to destabilization and discontent and is simply too long. It almost feels as if you’re finishing a jail term for a crime you did not commit and the only consolation is that you are in “jail” with 100 million other Filipinos.

* * *

In modern Philippine history, yesterday’s “Hero Presidents” are today’s villains. The outcome is generally determined by failed expectations or contracts entered into by those administrations that have ultimately come back to bite the citizenry or left them having to foot the bill. We conveniently forget the situations back then especially the public discontent and outcry over lack of electricity, horrible traffic jams and threats of drought and water rationing.

We have short memories and even lower levels of gratitude concerning the political decisions made by yesterday’s heroes. Back then we wanted electricity at all costs so a president took our sentiments literally and said let there be light at whatever cost. The riding public wanted faster mobility and no traffic jams that trapped us for 10 to 12 hours on the NLEX and in Metro Manila streets one Friday evening. So a president said let the good times roll along with good deals, and we all said it was good. Twenty plus years and three presidents later we are kicking and screaming about the deals conveniently forgetting we were all part of why those bum deals were entered into. The irony being in normal times anything abnormal becomes illegal or corrupt and yesterday’s hero today’s villain.


No quick fix SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 27, 2015 - 12:00am


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

The tuwid na daan or straight path lost more public goodwill the other day with that show of hakot unity that snarled traffic for hours along EDSA and surrounding areas from Quezon City to Parañaque.

Since it was a regular working day, people went to work earlier than usual to avoid the expected traffic on the 29th anniversary of the people power revolt – only to find out that portions of EDSA had been closed as early as 6 a.m. Why? So a bunch of cops and soldiers could march arm in arm to the EDSA Shrine and show to the world that P-Noy was in no danger of being toppled.

That “unity march” was not people power but a panic attack by the administration. The groups that staged anti-Aquino rallies in previous days – belittled by Malacañang for their numbers – can count the panic attack as their achievement. They shouted “boo!” and the administration jumped – unfortunately, at the expense of harried motorists and commuters, who were stuck in traffic for up to four hours last Wednesday.

P-Noy should relax – his popularity has taken a hit again because of the Mamasapano mess, but there’s no groundswell for a change of leadership this late into his single, six-year term.

People understand the enormous destabilizing impact on the nation of throwing out a president each time several hundred people march in the streets to demand his ouster.

There will be no popular support for a coup d’état or another EDSA revolt. We’ve had EDSA 2 and 3 and look where that got us. And it’s too late for an impeachment; congressmen are getting busy raising funds and preparing for the 2016 campaign.

The road to the 1986 revolution was long, perilous and splattered with blood at various spots. But EDSA Dos in 2001 made revolution seem so easy. Since then various groups have been trying to duplicate that easy shortcut to regime change.

One lesson we can take away from the people power revolutions is that there is no quick fix to our problems. A popular uprising needs sustained hard work from everyone to build on the gains and implement difficult reforms.

Things don’t fall neatly into place when we toss out a president. As we have seen in many aspects of national life, if we compare the situation in 1986 to the present, many things that could have been changed especially in the first year after EDSA 1, under a revolutionary government, have remained the same.

So P-Noy should relax; he’s safe in his post.

* * *

He can focus on low-hanging fruits that he can tout as achievements in his remaining 16 months. There are economic measures that must be passed and infrastructure projects that can be launched or completed.

Right now he seems to be preoccupied with salvaging his peace initiative. Every president wants to be known as a champion of peace, and P-Noy is no exception. Making the original peace treaty work must be unexciting and will not earn him a Nobel Prize.

So, like his predecessor, P-Noy is setting aside a 19-year-old peace treaty and forging a new one, and carving out another autonomous region consisting of the existing one plus at least (the parties hope) the long-desired elusive prize, Zamboanga City.

The chartered city has consistently rejected inclusion in any autonomous Muslim region. It’s doubtful that Zamboanga will change its position, regardless of the final form the Bangsamoro Basic Law takes.

The previous administration had its Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could not claim it as her peace legacy; the MOA-AD was tossed out as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Last year the administration signed its own preliminary peace agreement with the MILF. It looks like President Aquino wants something to crow about on the peace front in his final State of the Nation Address this July: he wants the BBL passed in time for his SONA.

Because of the Jan. 25 slaughter of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, lawmakers are subjecting to minute scrutiny the draft BBL hammered out by the government panel with the MILF.

But it looks like P-Noy’s principal concern is simply to have the law passed so he can sign it before his SONA. As Palace officials have said, any BBL will do. The executive would have done its job, and the fate of the BBL would be tossed to the judiciary, as it is sure to be challenged before the Supreme Court.

If lawmakers grant P-Noy’s request not to dilute the BBL “too much,” it’s likely to be struck down by the high court, as several legal experts have pointed out. This is the reason why critics of the peace deal with the BBL want the government to grant the MILF’s demand to enact the law as is, ASAP; the critics are certain that it will be the death of the BBL. Then perhaps P-Noy can focus on his promise to give justice to the families of the 44 slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Even if the BBL hurdles constitutional challenges, it will still need to be approved in a plebiscite. If it coincides with the general elections as initially planned, it will effectively be a referendum on the Aquino administration, and will likely affect the votes of whoever is endorsed by P-Noy as his successor.

That endorsement power is being eroded as the MILF continues to ignore P-Noy’s “minimum demands” in the wake of the Mamasapano slaughter: the identification of the SAF 44’s killers, turnover of terrorist Basit Usman, and return of the guns, equipment and personal belongings of the slain commandos.

The coddling of terrorists, arms buildup, and brutality displayed by the MILF and its cousins in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters toward the SAF 44 has spooked even lawmakers.

Public outrage over the SAF 44 triggered calls for P-Noy’s ouster. He will keep his post, but his weakened state will make it more difficult for him to push his programs in his final year in office.


When will we see an end to this charade? SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2015 - 12:00am


By Bobit S. Avila

It’s been a month and a day and no matter how the Aquino regime tries to present to the grieving families of the 44 fallen Special Action Force (SAF) policemen and the Filipino nation, it still falls short of giving justice where justice is due. What’s really wrong with telling the Filipino people the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the Mamasapano tragedy? Don’t they know that the “truth shall prevail” and set them free?

The problem with the Malacañang sycophants, they still believe in that gospel spread by Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Gobbles who once quipped “A lie repeated a thousand times assumes the substance of truth.” But we all know a substance of truth, is still ain’t the truth! The beauty of telling the truth is that… there is only one story to tell.

Let me remind you that when the Agrava Commission came up with supposedly the truth as to who killed the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of President Aquino, many of us didn’t buy the Agrava Commission story. Many of us have a general idea of who killed Ninoy. But when Cory Aquino became President, she didn’t bother to find out who killed her husband. When the convicted triggerman in the Aquino assassination M/S Pablo Martinez was released, he was supposed to tell the truth about that killing… but P-Noy didn’t give him the time of day. Then a few weeks later, Martinez died in a mysterious road accident. Thus it only fueled more talk about that conspiracy theory.

Let’s bring you back to the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of US Pres. John F. Kennedy. Few Americans believe in that very thick and official US Government report and this resulted in countless books on conspiracy theories as to who killed JFK. This is because the Zapruder film clearly shows that Pres. Kennedy could have been hit by a rifle from the grassy knoll, which was never investigated by the Warren Commission. So when the truth is concealed… conspiracy theories surface.

Our latest reports on the case of the 44 fallen SAF policemen comes from that mysterious text messages supposedly between P-Noy and suspended Philippine National Police Chief (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima which was published in many publications. Who made these text messages to be publicized? We don’t know. But a report from ABS-CBN’s Ted Failon that went viral was being spread saying, “The text message quoted came from prepared transcript of text messages, not directly from cellphones or Telco’s memory CPU. In other words, the text in transcript maybe edited to give us what the text self serves or not original unedited message.”

So for as long as issues like this suddenly appear and are made public but are not really authentic, it only serves to confuse or mislead our people away from the real truth. Then there’s the issue of US involvement in Oplan Exodus, which the Aquino regime vehemently denied for three weeks only to turn around to admit that the Americans shared intelligence in this operation. Then no less than relieved PNP SAF Chief Director Getulio Napeñas admitted that there were at least six Americans in his tactical command.

At this point, no one knows when will the whole charade end. But one thing is sure, something is terribly wrong with the way this country is being run by our top leaders. Last Saturday, a major news daily featured two colored photos in its front page. One of Moro women waving peace signs in a rally in Quiapo. But below that photo was more telling because it showed teenage kids belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) brandishing high-powered weapons of various calibers with impunity.

If those kids did the same thing at the Quezon City Circle or in Cebu’s Fuente Osmeña, police would immediately pounce at them for carrying high-powered weapons outside their homes without a license. This only shows that in this country… we have a double standard in the application of our laws. If this is true to firearms carried by MILF or BIFF, a double standard also exist in of all places the hallowed halls of the Senate.

Last Feb. 15, the political and entertainment world saw the wedding of Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero to actress Heart Evangelista and it is hoped by their well-wishers that they would finally live happily ever after. But last week, Rappler came up with a telling report entitled, “How can a 2nd “Poorest” Senator afford a Balesin Wedding?”

Rappler point out that two years ago, Sen. Escudero was rated as the “Poorest” senator with a declared net worth of only P4.017 million. Sen. Escudero’s 2013 SALN showed that his net worth jumped to P8.243 million, thus he is now the second poorest Senator, next to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. So the question really is, how could Sen. Chiz afford that Balesin wedding? Was it a gift by his ninong Bobby Ongpin of Alphaland?


Why the admin’s fear of street assemblies? POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 26, 2015 - 12:00am


By Federico D. Pascual Jr.

FEAR NOT: Malacañang should not be afraid to hear dissenting voices of people assembling in public places, most especially on historic Epifanio de los Santos Ave.

The Palace became jittery when crowds materialized yesterday on EDSA and nearby points with the announced intention to converge for a “human chain” around the EDSA-Ortigas intersection in Mandaluyong.

It was the anniversary of EDSA People Power that sent the dictator Marcos fleeing to Hawaii in 1986, but the celebratory mood fizzled when riot policemen blocked the crowd’s march, causing a gigantic rush-hour traffic standstill.

As far as we see it, the maddening mess was a result, again, of lack of coordination between rallyists and the authorities – worsened by the administration’s inexplicable fear of street protests.

* * *

ACTS OF WAR: The Aquino administration is learning belatedly it was foolhardy of it not to have laid the proper basis before it rushed into so-called peace talks with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

President Aquino, if he was monitoring the Senate hearing on Mamasapano last Tuesday, should have been shocked to hear Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF negotiating panel, telling the nation at large that:

• Weapons of fallen combatants are bounties of war — implying there was no need for MILF fighters to return the guns and battle gear they grabbed from the dead or dying PNP Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last Jan 25.

• If any dispute arises regarding the conduct of MILF and SAF combatants, such war crimes should be raised before the International Court of Justice or World Court, and not before domestic or Philippine courts.

* * *

GOV’T STATUS: This time let us hope the President does not claim again, as he did in explaining his slow-mo response to the Mamasapano debacle, that he had been misinformed.

Misinformed about what? Well, about the law and the state of mind of Iqbal and his panel when they sat opposite the varsity team fielded by President Aquino in the talks that produced the Bangsamoro Basic Law now roiling the nation.

The President’s panel misrepresented itself as the “GRP” (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) despite the fact that the Executive department is just one of the three branches of the government.

The MILF saw this misrepresentation, but welcomed it – because Malacañang‘s stance conferred on the rebel group a status of belligerency. The group that the United States had wanted to regard as terrorist was accorded the status of an equal of the GRP.

* * *

MILF STATE: The “promotion” has gone to the head of MILF leaders who now think that they are at war until there is a mutually agreed truce and settlement between the Philippine government and their MILF “government”.

Iqbal’s talking last Tuesday about a recourse to the World Court tells us that these rebels now regard themselves as another state on equal footing with the Philippines.

The World Court (ICJ), based in The Hague, is the United Nations agency that settles legal disputes between states. The MILF must have been convinced that with the GRP talking with it as an equal, it is itself clothed with the attributes of a state.

Iqbal could be saying soon that investigators sent by the Department of Justice to build a case against his gunmen who mowed down the 44 SAF policemen have no power to do that since war crimes are not covered by the Revised Penal Code.

* * *

CREDENTIALS: It took several hours to stop the fierce firefight because there were other rebel and armed groups in the fray beyond the control of the MILF.

This point highlights another basic problem, that of credentials, which Malacañang glossed over in its hurry to hammer out a peace agreement before President Aquino steps down in 2016.

The Palace panelists did not bother to ascertain first that the rebel group across the table is the legitimate representative of the Muslim population whose interests it claims to be looking after.

At the very least, the MILF should be able to commit or bound to a peace pact the array of armed and rebel bands infesting Mindanao. It has not, because it cannot.

* * *

BACK TO WORK: Whatever, both chambers of the Congress are now about to resume the BBL public hearings suspended in the wake of the Mamasapano massacre.

Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. said yesterday he was optimistic that the House will be able to pass the BBL before the 2016 elections. The ad hoc BBL committee chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez is set to resume public hearings.

Many congressional leaders, including Belmonte, concede that the BBL has provisions in need of revision to conform to the Constitution. It remains to be seen how last Tuesday’s meeting of President Aquino and House leaders would affect the mood in the chamber.

* * *

HOUSE LEADERS: Invited by President Aquino to Malacañang was a 33-member leaders’ group from the House led by Speaker Belmonte. For the record, we list them here.

In the group were Deputy Speakers Henedina R. Abad (Batanes), Giorgidi B. Aggabao (Isabela), Sergio A. F. Apostol (Leyte), Pangalian M. Balindong (Lanao del Sur) and Roberto V. Puno (Antipolo); Majority Leader Neptali M. Gonzales II (Mandaluyong) and Minority Leader Ronaldo B. Zamora (San Juan).

Representing the various party leaders were: Mel Senen S. Sarmiento (LP), Enrique M. Cojuangco (NPC), Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr. (NUP), Antonio F. Lagdameo Jr. (NUP), Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona (NP), Rolando G. Andaya Jr. (LKS), Nicanor M. Briones (PL-Agap) and Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza (PL-TUCP; also BBL VC).

Committee chairmen having to do with the quest for peace were: Rufus B. Rodriguez (BBL), Jeffrey P. Ferrer (Public Order), Jim Hataman-Salliman (Peace), Niel C. Tupas Jr. (Justice), Samuel D. Pagdilao (also PubO VC) and Romeo M. Acop (also BBL and PubO VC). Congressmen with police-military background were: Leopoldo N. Bataoil (Pangasinan), Francisco Ashley L. Acedillo (PL-Magdalo) and Gary C. Alejano (PL-Magdalo).

Also present were the vice chairs of the BBL committee: Tupay T. Loong (Sulu), Henry S. Oaminal (Misamis Occ.), Bai Sandra A. Sema (Maguindanao and Cotabato City, Jesus N. Sacdalan (North Cotabato, also Peace VC). Helping out in information work were Ben P. Evardone (Eastern Samar), Romero S. Quimbo (Marikina), Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte (Quezon City) and Rodolfo C. Farinas (Ilocos Norte).


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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