PHNO EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK: FROM MANILA TIMES

EDITORIAL: BANGSAMORO LAW MUST WAIT AND EARN CONSENT


First, we need a clarification from the Aquino administration on a key point of law and policy.
When presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda officially speaks, are we supposed to believe that he is speaking for the President, that everything he says is fully sanctioned by the President? We believe this matter needs clarification because, strictly speaking, the position of the presidential spokesman did not exist in our presidential system, until this peculiar presidency of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO by Marlen Ronquillo: Aquino & Hollande -Never the twain shall meet


AQUINO AND HOLLANDE: There are two very important issues that Mr. Aquino deliberately missed in his talks with President Francois Hollande: support for small-scale agriculture and the social safety net programs for the vulnerable. The “why” is easy to explain. The two are at the core of France’s reason for being. Here, they are non-issues, more so to the incumbent president  ....... A new breed of global leaders is not at all interested in sucking up to the Davos crowd , or courting the favors of the global movers and shakers, for a possible stint in the multilateral institutions after their terms of office.  Leaders, either with real and powerful mandates (Obama / Yellen) or those with powerful pulpits (Pope Francis) have been pushing for policies that are not of the free market, fiscal health and rectitude, GDP growth variety. GDP growth per se as the main reason for being of leaders is moving into obsolescence, like the Washington Consensuses that was the rage in many emerging economies in the 80s. As the old policy moorings and uncaring orthodoxy are being swept away , you can only look at the policies of Mr. Aquino and weep. READ FULL COLUMN.....

ALSO by Yen Makabenta: Founding fathers/mothers of Bangsamoro state



More than the MILF leaders (Mohagher Iqbal and Murad Ebrahim) and more than our addled peace negotiators Teresita Deles and Miriam Ferrer, there are 30 members of Congress who will deserve the title and credit as “the founding fathers/mothers (parents?) of the Bangsamoro state”, if it becomes law. These are the13 senators and 17 representatives who are boldly standing as sponsors of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the 16th Congress. It’s fitting that their names should be engraved in stone, so Filipino schoolchildren can easily commit them to memory and transmit their achievement/infamy to posterity. In the interest of disclosure, I am listing the 30 in this column: CONTINUE READING TO KNOW THEM....

ALSO by Francisco Tatad: PNoy's political crisis of survival deepens


President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s fight for political survival appears to have taken a turn for the worse after the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) survivors of the January 25 massacre in Mamasapano, Maguindanao reportedly asked him “behind closed doors” to resign. Until then, the call on Aquino to “step down” has come from the National Transformation Council and various other groups who want him to account for his numerous constitutional violations and for his role in the Mamasapano massacre.  Highly informed sources said the SAF resignation call came on Wednesday during an early three-hour-plus “bull session” with the commandos at the PNP-SAF Headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Camp Bicutan, Taguig City, before the assumption of command by the new SAF director, Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo, in place of Chief Superintendent Getulio Napenas, who was sacked immediately after the Mamasapano debacle, and Chief Superintendent Noli Talino, who had taken over from Napenas as Officer-in-Charge  The call came, the sources said, after Aquino had complained about the “poor planning and execution” of Operation Exodus, which resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos, while trying to capture two international terrorists —the Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir and his Filipino associate Abdul Basit Usman—who had found shelter near the camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Transparency is not negotiable; 'There is no transparency in the automated election system!'


Voters insert their ballots into the PCOS scanners during the first automated elections in the Philippines in 2010. 
We use in today’s editorial excerpts from a column by election system expert and IT Lito Averia to press the Comelec to get rid of the Smartmatic-PCOS machines in the 2016 elecions. * * * Filipinos who voted in the 2010 and 2013 elections should be asked: “Did you see how your votes were recorded and, if so, were they recorded properly and accurately?”  And we should ask the election watchers: “Did you see how the PCOS machine processed each ballot and count the votes and, if so, was it done properly and accurately?”  “Did you see if the PCOS machine processed all ballots?”  “And at the canvassing center, did you see how the election returns were processed?”  You surely responded with a resounding “NO” to the above questions.  This is because, with the PCOS, all processes—between the time that the voter inserted his/her ballot into the PCOS ballot slot and the ballot was accepted by the PCOS until the PCOS printed the election return—have been hidden from public observation. READ  MORE...

ALSO By Rick Ramos: Transparency & accountability, hubris & hypocrisy

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino 3rd will go down in history not only as the Most Incompetent President (MIP) of the Philippines, but also the one who has lost his credibility to the Filipino people. This is most unfortunate because the electorate voted for him in May 2010 on the platform of a clean and honest government and against corruption. The Legacy that President B.S. Aquino 3rd will leave behind — after 30 June 2016, assuming he finishes his term of office—is something that neither the Aquinos nor the Cojuangcos can be proud of. Perhaps it is good that Noynoy Aquino is not only the 3rd, but will be the last of his line, since he has no wife and children. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO PHNO's PICK! --EDITORIAL OF THE WEEK: ARMM should continue moving on–and moving up



THE Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is “a failed experiment,” de facto president BS Aquino said when he was starting his propaganda, financial, political, and diplomatic campaign to fast track the creation of a Bangsamoro substate desired by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to subsume the ARMM. It was an unfair characterization. In the 25 years and four months of the ARMM’s existence (its silver anniversary was in November last year), it has fared better than some provinces and regions of the Philippines within their first 25 years. Yes, MNLF Chairman Emeritus Nur Misuari and his successors as ARMM regional governor found it difficult to run the autonomous region and failed to turn it and its provinces into shining models of good governance and development. But managing their autonomous region was made doubly by the Philippine central government, which never did its proper duty of supplying it with the correct amount of its inadequate budget on time. Then ARMM Misuari suffered the most from national government neglect. CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL: Bangsamoro law must wait and earn consent

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) First, we need a clarification from the Aquino administration on a key point of law and policy.

When presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda officially speaks, are we supposed to believe that he is speaking for the President, that everything he says is fully sanctioned by the President?

We believe this matter needs clarification because, strictly speaking, the position of the presidential spokesman did not exist in our presidential system, until this peculiar presidency of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd.

Besides Lacierda, the President also has communications secretary Sonny Coloma, who issues countless statements using the pronoun “we”, as though he were speaking for himself and the President.

A year ago, Aquino also had a strategic messaging secretary in the person of Ricky Carandang. Then he strategically disappeared when President Aquino ran into a horde of problems, and has not been heard from since.

In the US presidential system, there is no position for a presidential spokesman. President Obama, who is an able public speaker and quite adept at obfuscation, would never allow such a creature to exist. What the White House has are two members of the staff who deal with communications and the media: the press secretary and the communications director. They each have distinct responsibilities.

The US tradition is for the press secretary and communications director to provide deep background briefings on the actions and policies of the President. They are not quoted as speaking for the President, only as sources close to the President.

We deal with this subject today, in our editorial, because of late, Mr. Lacierda has been issuing major statements that the public and the media are supposed to regard as coming from President Aquino.

Two of these statements are: 1. First, President Aquino will never apologize to the nation and to the widows and families of the slain 44 SAF commandos for what happened in Mamasapano.

2. Second, Lacierda declared that the Bangsamoro Basic Law cannot wait until the next presidential administration. It’s either we do this during Aquino’s term or never.

We believe Lacierda’s statement that the Bangsamoro law cannot wait until the next administration requires immediate and substantive response.

In fine, what he said in his briefing of the media last Monday, was this: The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should be passed within President Aquino’s term, despite doubts raised about the measure following the January 25 Mamasapano Massacre.

He said: “We do not see ourselves looking at the BBL being passed by the next administration. This is an important piece of legislation.”

Lacierda also said the draft BBL is “bigger than the Mamasapano incident.”

And then he added this shocker: That the best way to honor the 44 commandos killed in Mamasapano, is for Congress to pass the BBL.”

“We regret the loss of our police commandos… We didn’t labor in vain here. Peace panels did not labor in vain. The SAF commandos did not die in vain as well.”

Response to this statement from members of Congress has been sporadic and scattered.

In a statement that surprised many, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, a key ally of President Aquino, declared that the BBL could wait until the next administration for as long as the ceasefire and the peace talks are still in place. He did not rule out the possibility that his enemy, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, could be the next President.

Trillanes vowed that the Senate would not pass the BBL in its present form, which would create a monster of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with its own army and police force, and would receive P100 billion annually in government funds from the budget.

Trillanes pointed out that since trust has been lost between the MILF and the government after the Mamasapano Massacre, the Aquino administration should not insist on its timeline, especially now that emotions are high.

For his part, Senator Sergio Osmeña 3rd asked President Aquino to apologize for the Mamasapano fiasco since he committed grave violations in (1) allowing suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima to direct the Mamasapano operation; and (2) in bypassing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

Similar sentiments have been expressed at the House of Representatives.

Passage of the Bangsamoro Law must wait.


Aquino and Hollande: Never the twain shall meet March 3, 2015 9:19 pm Marlen V. Ronquillo


by MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

There are two very important issues that Mr. Aquino deliberately missed in his talks with President Francois Hollande: support for small-scale agriculture and the social safety net programs for the vulnerable. The “why” is easy to explain. The two are at the core of France’s reason for being. Here, they are non-issues, more so to the incumbent president .

France, a country with an economy that exports modern jets and a social fabric that feeds the world with the ideas of its public intellectuals, is a country like no other in the pampering of its small farmers and its small landholdings. If there is anything that is constant in the life of France, it is its love for the tillers of the soil. There is even a special French coinage for that love. Remember Jose Bove, the small farmer who almost single-handedly stopped the operations of a US fast-food giant in France. Small farmers, some 3% of the working population, get generous support domestically and get half of their support from European Union subsidies.

They get support when investing in new farming technologies. They get support just to train and develop a newgeneration of small farmers. They get full support from government to enable them to retain their small farms. Its agricultural heritage of small landholdings is something deeply ingrained and supported in French society .

No ambitious politician in France neglects its small farmers.

France and Sweden have the most generous social safety nets in the world for their down-on-their luck and their vulnerable.

The French people are covered by a generous health care program. Critical family expenses, from higher education to child care, are supported by the state . Salaried employees can take five weeks of paid vacation. Unemployment benefits are as generous.

It is a cradle-to-grave program that undergirds France’s policies toward its vulnerable and the down-on-their-luck citizens .

Mr. Aquino’s support for small farmers is zero, a berayal of what his forefathers did to the small farmers who tilled the original Aquino landholding in Murcia and Concepcion. In an act that predated noblesse oblige in the Philippines , the great grandfather of the President distributed his vast rice farms to his tenants, at a time when the idea of land reform was not even at its seminal stage.

This present-generation Aquino has been more than four years in office and I don’t think that he has heard the voice of a single rice farmer, 99 percent of whom hold on to their small plots of land because committing suicide, or turning to a life of crime, are the only alternatives left.

While he thrives in attending the milestone events of the plutocracy, Mr. Aquino has no time for small farmers, except for some insincere meetings at the Palace. Mr. Hollande should have regaled Mr. Aquino about how many farm and state fairs had he attended on the way to the presidency of France. And how he had reveled in those events with the land tillers of France.

To say that the small Filipino farmer lives in Aquino’s grimmer version of the Slough of Despond is an understatement. It could be worse.

Usurers mostly end up getting the CLOAs of land reform beneficiaries as there is no support after the land redistribution. The agri-business giants can borrow at better terms than the struggling farmers (we are one of the few agricultural countries with such skewed borrowing terms.)

On social safety nets and support for the vulnerable, one figure tells it all. Mr. Aquino’s cash transfer program for 2015 has a budget of P65 billion. The national budget is P2.6 trillion. That negligible amount is partly wasted by the lack of administrative competence to make the most of the cash transfer fund.

Mr. Aquino once said that he cannot sign a token draft law called Magna Carta for the Poor because it would bust the national budget. That draft law did not propose anything of that sort. Its budgetary requirements were even underwhelming.

It is fair to ask this. Are Mr. Aquino’s policies out of sync only with French policies?

After looking at France ‘s programs, allot a few minutes and read the synopsis of the USA’s 2015 Economic Report of the President, which defines the economic priorities of the Obama administration for the current year. Two issues dominate the 414-page Report: rising income inequality and stagnant wages.

Find out the reason why Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve, and said to be the most powerful public official in the world, has been reluctant to end the Fed’s monetary easing. The reason – the slack in unemployment.

Google the pronouncement of Pope Francis and you will see that his appeal for the world to end economic inequality dominates, more than his concern for the usual papal topics of abortion rights, gay rights and celibacy for priests.

In the Eurozone area, the notion of fiscal rectitude and fidelity to debt repayment is now facing a serious challenge – a departure from the usual rule that beggar nations (let us tone that down to creditor-nations) should kneel before the altar of the creditor-institutions .

A new breed of global leaders is not at all interested in sucking up to the Davos crowd , or courting the favors of the global movers and shakers, for a possible stint in the multilateral institutions after their terms of office.

Leaders, either with real and powerful mandates (Obama / Yellen) or those with powerful pulpits (Pope Francis) have been pushing for policies that are not of the free market, fiscal health and rectitude, GDP growth variety. GDP growth per se as the main reason for being of leaders is moving into obsolescence, like the Washington Consensuses that was the rage in many emerging economies in the 80s.

As the old policy moorings and uncaring orthodoxy are being swept away , you can only look at the policies of Mr. Aquino and weep.


Founding fathers/mothers of Bangsamoro state March 4, 2015 11:16 pm YEN MAKABENTA



More than the MILF leaders (Mohagher Iqbal and Murad Ebrahim) and more than our addled peace negotiators Teresita Deles and Miriam Ferrer, there are 30 members of Congress who will deserve the title and credit as “the founding fathers/mothers (parents?) of the Bangsamoro state”, if it becomes law.

These are the13 senators and 17 representatives who are boldly standing as sponsors of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the 16th Congress.

It’s fitting that their names should be engraved in stone, so Filipino schoolchildren can easily commit them to memory and transmit their achievement/infamy to posterity.

In the interest of disclosure, I am listing the 30 in this column:

Senate sponsors of the BBL 1. Franklin Drilon, Senate president 2. Ralph Recto, president pro tempore 3. Alan Peter Cayetano, majority leader 4. Vicente Sotto, deputy minority leader 5. Teofisto Guingona 6. Nancy Binay, 7. Joseph Victor Ejercito 8. Gregorio Honasan, 9. Loren Legarda 10. Francis Escudero 11. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, 12. Juan Edgardo Angara 13. Pia Cayetano

House sponsors of the BBL 1. Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Speaker 2. Neptali Gonzalez III , Majority leader 3. Henedina Abad, Batanes, Batanes 4. Giorgidi Aggabao, Isabela 5. Sergio Apostol, Leyte 6. Roberto Puno, Antipolo city 7. Pangalian Balindong, Lanao del Sur 8. Carlos Padilla, Nueva Vizcaya 9. Mel Senen Sarmiento, Western Samar 10. Enrique Cojuangco, Tarlac 11. Mark Leandro Mendoza, Batangas 12. Eleandro F. Madrona, Romblon 13. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., Cavite 14. Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Davao del Norte 15. Rolando Andaya, Jr., Camarines Sur 16. Nicanor Briones, party list 17. Raymond Democrito Mendoza, party list

The stances of the 30 could change when the heat is turned on and the debates commence. But these 30 will go down into the records as the original authors, no matter how much the original bill is revised. Like paternity, it is not easy to take back responsibility for a piece of legislation. Your DNA is plastered on the thing.

Many will make up their own minds By order of President Aquino, all the officers of the two chambers agreed to sign on as sponsors of the bill. He thought it was time to collect for all the pork and DAP he has given away.

Only the House Minority leader, Ronaldo Zamora, escaped conscription. But now, he could be unseated because he enjoys the post only because of the help of Belmonte, who got some members of the majority to vote for him. The real opposition in the chamber, which opposes the BBL, may see an opening here to unseat Zamora.

In the Senate, members of the minority surprisingly joined the chorus. The real opposition like, Senatores Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, are still in detention.

Surprisingly, the name of rabid Aquino ally, Sen Antonio Trillanes, is notably missing. He is terrified by what his brothers in the military will think if he is a sponsor.

When the bill was first transmitted to congress by the President, Senate President Drilon took only two days to determine and conclude that the legislation had broad support in the Senate, which shows that “peace knows no political color.”

Speaker Belmonte was even more confident about the House voting for the measure, given the power of pork and DAP to persuade.

Even so, support for the BBL in Congress is far from settled. Many senators and congressmen profess that Belmonte and Drilon should not presume to speak for them. They will make up their own minds on the measure.

The proposed legislation is certain to undergo thorough scrutiny and debate. The committees leading the BBL hearings – one chaired by Bongbong Marcos in the Senate, and the other by Rufus Rodriguez in the House — have pledged to hear arguments and testimony from both legislative proponents and the public.

The biggest hurdles There are many hurdles that the BBL must pass to (1) clear Congress, and (2) to have a chance in the Supreme Court, where any Bangsamoro law is certain to be challenged.

These hurdles come in the form of questions:

1. Why did the Aquino government talk to only the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in its avowed program to settle the secessionist conflict and bring peace and stability to Mindanao? Why were the other Muslim tribal communities excluded from the negotiation?

Why were Christians and Lumads in Mindanao excluded from the negotiations and discussions, when any agreement reached would surely affect them also?

2.Can congress pass a law creating a Bangsamoro state, which gives it its own territory out of Philippine territory, its own armed and police forces, and its own parliament and administrative machinery? Can this be done without amending the Constitution first?

Under President Arroyo, we have already had the sour experience of seeing a peace agreement voided by the High Court because it posited the idea of an ancestral domain for Filipino Muslims within Philippine territory.

3. Why does the proposed BBL virtually guarantee that the MILF will run the proposed substate? This appears to be the key reason why the other Muslim groups were excluded from the negotiations.

4. Why does the proposed law call for the dissolution of the already existing Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which exists because of an express provision of the Constitution and a peace agreement forged in 1996 between the government of P:resident Fidel V. Ramos and the Moro National liberation Front (MNLF)?

A time for statesmanship In tackling these great questions about the BBL, the nation needs from our legislators not just their usual sagacity in looking after themselves. They need to supply a measure of statesmanship, which they have been rarely asked to do.

Legislators are wary of the term “statesman” and are more comfortable with the more ornery term “politician.”

As was once memorably said, to call a man a statesman is eulogy; to call him a politician, while disparaging, is more realistic.

Walter Lippmann has provided the most persuasive characterization of statesmanship on record.

He wrote in his book, A Preface to Morals: ”The chief element in the art of statesmanship under modern conditions is the ability to elucidate the confused and clamorous interests which converge upon the seat of government. It is an ability to penetrate from the naïve self-interest of each group to its permanent and real interest….

“A statesman’s hold on the people is enduring because he promises nothing which he cannot achieve; he proposes nothing which turns out to be a fake. Sooner or later, the politician, because he deals in unrealities, is found out. He [must then] cease to meddle with the destinies of men.”

The coming deliberations and debates on the Bangsamoro will separate the politicians from the statesmen; the boys from the men.

On such issues of great moment, men like Recto, Laurel, Diokno and Manglapus distinguished themselves and made their name during their time.

Those who did not are deservedly forgotten.

Citizens should monitor whether their representatives and senators are doing justice to our real and permanent interests as a people and nation.


PNoy's political crisis of survival deepens March 5, 2015 11:07 pm FRANCISCO S. TATAD

President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s fight for political survival appears to have taken a turn for the worse after the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) survivors of the January 25 massacre in Mamasapano, Maguindanao reportedly asked him “behind closed doors” to resign. Until then, the call on Aquino to “step down” has come from the National Transformation Council and various other groups who want him to account for his numerous constitutional violations and for his role in the Mamasapano massacre.

Highly informed sources said the SAF resignation call came on Wednesday during an early three-hour-plus “bull session” with the commandos at the PNP-SAF Headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Camp Bicutan, Taguig City, before the assumption of command by the new SAF director, Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo, in place of Chief Superintendent Getulio Napenas, who was sacked immediately after the Mamasapano debacle, and Chief Superintendent Noli Talino, who had taken over from Napenas as Officer-in-Charge

The call came, the sources said, after Aquino had complained about the “poor planning and execution” of Operation Exodus, which resulted in the death of 44 SAF commandos, while trying to capture two international terrorists —the Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir and his Filipino associate Abdul Basit Usman—who had found shelter near the camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Aquino had taken direct control of the police operation and put suspended and now resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima “in command.”

Aquino also broke the PNP operational chain of command by cutting out the Secretary of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas, who is legally in charge of the police, and the acting PNP chief Leonardo Espina, who had taken over after the Ombudsman suspended Purisima on corruption charges.

The Congress hearings, which tried to cover up Aquino’s accountability for the massacre and treated the nation to the most outrageous lies, had studiously avoided pursuing reports that Aquino, who monitored the actual fighting from a military station in Zamboanga City on January 25, personally ordered the reinforcement for the Fallen 44 “to stand down.” But Malacañang itself has not denied those reports.

The PNP top officers were not present during the “bull session.” They waited at the open-air quadrangle fronting the SAF headquarters while Aquino spoke to the commandos. The closed-door meeting was supposed to last no more than half an hour, but ended only after more than three hours. Nobody spoke to the media after the meeting.

Aquino had apparently expected the session to be stormy, for although on Tuesday, Malacañang advised the media that he would be making a speech during the command turnover, by Wednesday morning they were told the speech had been cancelled. A podium had been set up with the presidential seal on it but this was eventually removed.

The officers did not clap when Aquino emerged from his closed-door meeting, and the turnover was done in 15 minutes. Only Talino and Lazo spoke. The press did not see Napeñas at all.

The cashiered SAF commander’s last famous appearance was on video, which showed him briefing top defense officials on Jan. 26, a day after the massacre, about the illegal role performed by the suspended Purisima, and the briefings he had given the President on the ill-fated operation. This video had gone viral on many social media sites, allowing more people to see Aquino’s actual culpability in the whole fiasco.

The dean of the San Beda College of Law Graduate School has said that Purisima clearly usurped authority, and that Aquino could be prosecuted for “condoning” Purisima’s usurpation of authority. Others, however, have pointed out that Aquino did not merely “condone,” but in fact “caused,” “ordered,” “authorized,” and “facilitated” the usurpation.

Apparently Aquino’s meeting with the commandos had such a deep impact on him that the crisis committee meetings inside Malacañang have not had any letup since. “The grand picnic is over,” said one source. The mood of some Malacañang insiders, according to this source, is that Aquino may not long survive, and may be ultimately compelled to step down, if offered “a good deal.” This could include immunity from arrest and imprisonment, exile to a country of his choice, and freedom for himself and his immediate kin to enjoy whatever money they had made in the last four years.

Others, however, fear that even his life may now be in danger from the very troops that are supposed to protect him. This issue was recently publicly raised at Tapatan, a well-attended press forum at the Aristocrat Restaurant on Roxas Boulevard, where Aquino’s secretary for political affairs, Ronald Llamas, and I, among others, were present. The question referred to what happened to Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was assassinated by two of her own bodyguards on Oct. 31, 1984, while on her way to be interviewed by Peter Ustinov, the British actor. Her assassins were Sikhs, and the assassination was seen as an offshoot of the Indian army’s assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar three months earlier which heavily damaged the Sikh temple.

All of us at the forum could only express our hope and our prayer that nothing of the kind should happen.

But passions continue to rise, particularly in the face of Aquino’s determined effort to push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (Babala), which seeks to create a new political entity for the MILF, even after it has been disowned by so many of its original authors in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and amid reports of deception and double-dealing on the part of the MILF and its backers, with respect to certain important issues.

For instance, with respect to the MILF returning to the government the weapons taken from the fallen SAF 44 by its fighters, authoritative sources have reported that Gov. Mujib Hattaman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Aquino’s own handpicked political leader, is the one paying for the weapons, using government funds, through his regional secretary of the environment, to be “returned” to the government. “We are being fried in our own oil,” said one source.

With respect to the government’s demand that the MILF surrender for criminal prosecution all its men who had taken part in the Mamasapano massacre, the latest news is that the government would soon be told that all of them had broken away from the MILF and defected either to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or to the so-called Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM), which was supposedly organized by breakaway elements from the BIFF. This obvious ruse is reported to have the “blessings”, if not the “connivance,” of some of those running the Office of Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process (OPAPP).

In addition to the endless “crisis committee meetings,” Aquino has decided to travel his untrodden path. He is now asking for prayers, and asking prayer groups to pray with him (assuming he will be there) or to pray for him in Malacañang on Monday. Until now, he has shown more indifference to, than sympathy for, men and women of faith and prayer; he insisted on making Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to the Philippines a state visit also, so he would not be left out while millions of Filipinos pour out of their homes to be with the Pope. But he revealed his real self when he attacked the Church as a whole, and some unnamed churchmen in particular, in welcoming the Pope in Malacañang.

This is probably not as grave as any of Aquino’s unpunished constitutional violations, nor his culpability for the Mamasapano massacre. But nothing he has done could be denied forgiveness if he genuinely and sincerely asks for it. The trouble with Aquino, though, is that he wants and expects to be forgiven without doing penance, and without restituting (giving back) what he has illegally taken away from others (the people). He has to learn to give up the illegitimate power that he values so much in order to be returned to the trust and confidence of the people. He must learn to argue against self-interest, and put the interest of the country and its people above his own. The country must rise, and he must step down.


EDITORIAL: Transparency is not negotiable; there is no transparency in the automated election system!


Voters insert their ballots into the PCOS scanners during the first automated elections in the Philippines in 2010.

We use in today’s editorial excerpts from a column by election system expert and IT Lito Averia to press the Comelec to get rid of the Smartmatic-PCOS machines in the 2016 elecions.

* * *

Filipinos who voted in the 2010 and 2013 elections should be asked:

“Did you see how your votes were recorded and, if so, were they recorded properly and accurately?”

And we should ask the election watchers:

“Did you see how the PCOS machine processed each ballot and count the votes and, if so, was it done properly and accurately?”

“Did you see if the PCOS machine processed all ballots?”

“And at the canvassing center, did you see how the election returns were processed?”

You surely responded with a resounding “NO” to the above questions.

This is because, with the PCOS, all processes—between the time that the voter inserted his/her ballot into the PCOS ballot slot and the ballot was accepted by the PCOS until the PCOS printed the election return—have been hidden from public observation.

And with the canvassing system, the execution of the instructions on how to process each election return and consolidate the vote counts have been hidden from public view.

A system of letting the voter know if his votes have been properly and accurately recorded is required by Republic Act No. 8436 as amended by Republic Act No. 9369, or the Election Automation Law. It is unfortunate that this system was not provided in the existing PCOS machines.

A system to show how the PCOS machines inspected the ballots for votes and how the PCOS machine was supposed to count the votes was also not provided.

A system that would have shown how the canvassing system processed each election return and consolidate the votes was not provided as well.

There is no transparency in the automated election system!

The need for transparency—or the quality that something can be observed openly—is enshrined in Section 1, “Declaration of Policy” of the Election Automation Law. Referring to election processes and in adopting an automated system, Section 1 of the law reads, in part, “x xx in order that the process shall be TRANSPARENT and credible and that the results shall be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people.”

Transparency solutions, admittedly, will slow down the process. But why should we prioritize speed over transparency? A fertile ground for doubt and mistrust has developed with election processes in the current automated election system shrouded in secrecy.

We should avoid being slaves to information technology. We should use information technology to improve our election processes.

The counting of votes at the precinct level and consolidation of votes at all canvassing levels can be technology-assisted.

For instance, we can use computers with touch screens in combination with LCD projectors to go back to the old-style taras (stick-count) counting system.

Or, the PCOS can be combined with a LCD projector and equipped with a system that will allow observation of how the PCOS would evaluate a ballot and count the votes therein and record the same in a tally-sheet-like electronic matrix or table of results, which shall be used as basis for generating the election return.

LCD projectors, too, can be connected to the canvassing machines so that election returns received from PCOS machines or canvassing results from lower levels of canvass can be displayed on large screens for all election watchers to see. The process of vote consolidation can likewise be displayed.

Transparency of all election processes is non-negotiable.

In designing or adopting an automated election system, transparency should be THE PRIORITY. After all, the law requires it.


Transparency & accountability, hubris & hypocrisy March 7, 2015 1:56 am Rick B. Ramos

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino 3rd will go down in history not only as the Most Incompetent President (MIP) of the Philippines, but also the one who has lost his credibility to the Filipino people.

This is most unfortunate because the electorate voted for him in May 2010 on the platform of a clean and honest government and against corruption.

The Legacy that President B.S. Aquino 3rd will leave behind — after 30 June 2016, assuming he finishes his term of office—is something that neither the Aquinos nor the Cojuangcos can be proud of.

Perhaps it is good that Noynoy Aquino is not only the 3rd, but will be the last of his line, since he has no wife and children.

The presidential prevarications made on January 28 on national television and radio three days after the Maguindanao Massacre made Aquino lost whatever is left of his credibility.

The same were published in the newspapers. Six weeks have passed since the Slaughter of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troops and President Aquino has opted not to tell the Filipino people the TRUTH on what happened on that fateful day of January 25.

“What has been lost in Mamasapano was the trust in the presidency,” said Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of the Ateneo Law School in a forum in Makati last Thursday. Indeed, PNoy has already and sadly lost his credibility as the President of the Philippines and he can no longer effectively govern with the absence of trust in his presidency.

Why is Telling the Truth so tough?

The Office of the President in Malacañang has announced that the Chief Executive will speak at the “Right Time” after the Philippine National Police (PNP) Board of Inquiry (BOI) has released its Official Report. So the question now is why wait for the PNP BOI Official Report. Is PNoy so afraid that what he will say might be contradicted by the findings of the BOI Report?

In my two previous articles last February on the SAF Slaughter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, I asked the question on who gave and/or approved the Mission Order for Operation Exodus.

The answer is already obvious to millions of Filipinos: President B. S . Aquino 3rd. This has been clearly established in the Senate hearings even if resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima has taken the fall and all the blame to absolve his long-time friend.

Other than on who gave the order for Operation Exodus, the more crucial issue is on who gave the order for the remaining 315 SAF elite commandos to stand down and not reinforce the 55th SAF Company.

Except for one survivor, 35 commandos were all slaughtered of the containment team that was to block any enemy fire from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Likewise, who gave the order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Army 6th Infantry Division (6ID), to stand down and not extricate the 55th SAF Company?

Why were the SAF commandos allowed to die in vain when they expected reinforcements from either the 315 SAF troops or the Army’s 6ID under Major General Edmundo R. Pangilinan? So as not to jeopardize the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)? This AFP Chief General Catapang in fact admitted, using the term “peace process.”

Last Wednesday, President Aquino appointed the new SAF Commander Moro Virgilio Lazo at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, Metro Manila. ABS-CBN News reported that the SAF members waited for more than three hours for Mr. Aquino before the ceremony took place.

A similar incident took place in late February when the families of the slain SAF troops waited for several hours at Camp Crame before the president arrived.

The press also reported of a “bull session” with the Maguindanao Massacre survivors for three hours.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) source revealed that the Chief Executive “(re)assured the SAF troopers that he did not abandon them” and also “denied that he asked the government troops to ‘stand down’ while the MILF fighters and other Moro rebels were raining bullets on the SAF men.” (PDI, March 6, 2015)

However, what is the objective of the exercise (“bull session”) when President Aquino cannot Tell the Truth to the Filipino people.

All that everyone is asking for is for Truth & Justice! This is consistent with the avowed Aquino Policy of Transparency & Accountability that has not been practised in almost five years of his administration.

So what is stopping President B.S. Aquino from Telling the Truth? Is he afraid to be held accountable. If so, then it simply validates any of the two: he has been a coward all his life and/or he is suffering from severe Hubris, Hypocrisy & Delusion.

Compared to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whom P-Noy has demonised and jailed, Mrs. Arroyo had apologized to the Filipino people with her “I am sorry” over national television ten years ago in 2005.

This was in relation to the ‘Hello Garci’ telephone call that then President Arroyo made to a Comelec Commissioner a year earlier in 2004. In spite of the presidential precedent, PNoy would still NOT Apologize!

Senior Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña 3rd has criticized President Aquino for his obstinacy not to apologize to the Filipino people.

This is even if it is already public knowledge that Aquino is at fault for the Slaughter of SAF troops in the Maguindanao Massacre. Once again, Senator Serge Osmeña pointed to the lamentable stubbornness (matigas ang ulo) of the child-president.

The fact that President Aquino continues to be in denial after six weeks and refuses to speak the truth is a clear manifestation of a serious psychological disorder.

Psychosis is often described as “Loss of Contact with Reality” (Wikipedia).

Quoting from the Holy Bible that “ The Truth Shall Set You Free” and still equivocate with his pronouncements shows that Noynoy Aquino is really out of touch with reality.

What the Filipino people should do is to follow the title of the award-winning song in the 2013 Walt Disney movie Frozen insofar as President B.S. Aquino is concerned: Let It Go! He is far too dangerous to remain as president even with only 16 months to go!

Scenario

Myriad of Filipinos, including former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) and Senator Sergio Osmeña III, would not want P-Noy to resign because the Vice-President, who will succeed Aquino, might be worse.

So why not let the President and Vice-President both resign together with the controversial Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Then the Senate can choose a new Senate President who will become the transition president.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay can score points and advance his presidential ambition by taking the initiative of asking President Aquino for both of them to step down.

The late Vice-President Salvador “Doy” Laurel wrote a confidential letter to then President Corazon C. Aquino inviting her to join him with a joint resignation and calling for early elections.

However, the late President Cory Aquino ignored the call of her Vice-President.

The transition president coming from amongst the senators, who will serve the remaining months up to June 30, 2016, will sign an agreement that he or she will not run for president in 2016.


MUST-READ EDITORIAL: ARMM should continue moving on–and moving up March 7, 2015 10:14 pm

THE Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is “a failed experiment,” de facto president BS Aquino said when he was starting his propaganda, financial, political, and diplomatic campaign to fast track the creation of a Bangsamoro substate desired by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to subsume the ARMM.

It was an unfair characterization. In the 25 years and four months of the ARMM’s existence (its silver anniversary was in November last year), it has fared better than some provinces and regions of the Philippines within their first 25 years.

Yes, MNLF Chairman Emeritus Nur Misuari and his successors as ARMM regional governor found it difficult to run the autonomous region and failed to turn it and its provinces into shining models of good governance and development.

But managing their autonomous region was made doubly by the Philippine central government, which never did its proper duty of supplying it with the correct amount of its inadequate budget on time.

Then ARMM Misuari suffered the most from national government neglect.

Always, the political bigwigs of the central government, most specially the succession of Philippine presidents, had their own favorite warlords among the political leaders of the Muslim-majority provinces.

One of these, the Ampatuan clan, became even more powerful than the ARMM regional governors and managed to give their Maguindanao province–and the ARMM–an internationally notorious image for the Ampatuan Massacre.

It is unfair to call the ARMM a failed experiment, for it is a sustainable autonomous region.

It will probably be fairer to call the entire Philippines under BS Aquino a “failed state”–for despite the public-relations created image of our country abroad as a shining example of how to combat corruption and as a, economic success (thanks to the previous administration, the OFWs and the Bangko Sentral) –the truth is that BS Aquino’s governance stinks and is a gross failure.

Poverty and unemployment are worse now than ever before.

The BS Aquino administration is more corrupt than the previous one of Arroyo.

It is more incompetent and ill-advised than any other.

The painful and tragic Mamasapano Massacre as the grimmest example of how incompetent, lazy and unfit to govern and incapable of leading BS Aquino, DILG Secretary Roxas, Defense Secretary Gazmin and Armed Forces Chief Catapang, Peace Adviser Deles are.

The PNP-SAF company had partly succeeded in their mission to get the Malaysian terrorist Marwan but they and the other PNP-SAF company were besieged by the Malaysian-trained and Aquino-beloved MILF armies.

And Aquino, Roxas, Gazmin and Catapang, who were together, did not move to reinforce the PNP-SAF commandos who were being massacred!

And why? Because rescuing the doomed PNP-SAF Heroes and fighting the MILF/BIFF armies might derail BS Aquino’s precious “peace process” with the MILF!

Sec. Deles and her chief associate, Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer were (are) talking peace mainly with the MILF, sidelining the MNLF (with which the Philippine Government has an existing Comprehensive Peace Agreement which caused the formation of the ARMM), the sultans of Mindanao, specially the Sultans of Sulu and North Borneo, the aboriginal and Lumad tribes and communities and the Christians of Mindanao.

ARMM is not a failed experiment, it can be improved.

Some of the ideas in the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro substate or autonomous region can be added to the ARMM. Or two autonomous regions can be created–as proposed by former senator Aquilino Pimentel (authored the extant local government code) and by the president of the Philippine Islamic Society (Parhimunan Sin Islam) and former Tawi-Tawi governor Almarin Centi Tillah.

Created constitutionally of course, one for the landlocked Maguindanao and Maranao provinces and another for the island provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu (maybe it should include Sabah).

News of ARMM investments increase Meanwhile, we are heartened by news that the ARMM as a regional government and its provinces are doing better now economically and developmentally.

A total of P863 Million worth of projects were approved by the ARMM Regional Board of Investments during its Joint Board and Management Committee meeting on February 20, 2015 in Davao City.

The projects approved for RBOI registration were Tawi-Tawian Petroleum Trading Corporation and Chan C Mining Incorporated. Both companies are based in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. They are expected to create 553 jobs for local residents.

There is apparently no halt in the influx of investments to ARMM as a result of the Mamasapano Massacre.

Ishak V. Mastura, Chairman/Managing Head of the ARMM Regional BOI, said in a news item published by the ARMM website, “that despite the Mamasapano incident, investors’ confidence is still high.

In fact, there are fresh investments coming into Maguindanao with a project cost of P 1.3 billion on palm oil and a P 2 billion project on banana.

A multi logistic hub – an assembly auction of heavy equipment company also signified their intention to do business in ARMM, Mastura also said.

He added that “aside from fresh investments, a string of projects in the ARMM are in the pipeline this year coming from some of RBOI-registered firms.

Some of these are the expansion of the capacity of a biomass power plant, rehabilitation of a starch factory, expansion of banana plantations, and the construction of an oil depot at the Port of Pollocin Parang, Maguindanao by Iron Blaze Corporation.”

ARRM Governor Hataman, despite being a BS Aquino appointee, has also been more correct in his dealings with the MILF than OPAPP Secretary Deles and Peace Panel chief Coronel-Ferrer. He reportedly said last February that “the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) must prove that it is capable of policing its own ranks.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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