EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full Commentary below)

FROM MANILA TIMES:

WILL THE PHILIPPINES EVER HAVE A LEE KUAN YEW?


Mr. Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world.MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL. 
- THE Foreign Affairs department’s statement on “the Passing of Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister” yesterday is terse but truthful.  “The Philippines joins the Singaporean people in mourning the passing of their first Prime Minister and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Mr. Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world. His fortitude, political will and wisdom will continue to be an inspiration in the years to come.”   We in The Times are admirers of Lee Kuan Yew. Many Filipinos like him because the effective but authoritarian Singapore government that he built was and by and large continues to be a temple of good governance manned by men and women of probity. He served as prime minister of Singapore from June 3, 1959 to November 28, 1990 (more than 30 years), and then as senior minister of Singapore from November 28, 1990 to August 12, 2004 (almost four years) and finally as Minister Mentor of Singapore from August 12, 2004 to May 21, 2011 (almost six years). In his case, the phrase “serve as” does not mean “occupied the position of” as it does in the case of most Filipino public officials. It means working hard and effectively to achieve goals. And being a person of integrity. He was friend of the Filipinos. He felt bad that we Filipino citizens and our political leaders could not make our country a better one than the mess we have been making it CONTINUE READING...

ALSO QUESTIONS FOR THE PRESIDENTIABLES: If you were President Aquino, what would you do?


First, would you apologize to the nation and the SAF 44’s families for bungling your role in the Mamasapano incident?  Second, would you appear for questioning in the House hearing on the incident on April 7 and 8?  Third, what are your personal ideas and recommendations on how the nation can surmount and reach closure on this national tragedy?  I am averse to using the term “presidentiable” because it is pidgin English. I prefer the bona fide English words “candidate” and “aspirant,” with the adjective presidential attached to them. The questions are framed like those in a US presidential campaign debate. They seek to test the presidential aspirant’s sense of responsibility, judgment and executive ability in resolving a major national issue or problem.  I will send this brief questionnaire to each aspirant by e-mail or formal letter. The aspirants can send their replies to my e-mail address  (yenmakabenta@yahoo.com), or to The Manila Times editorial office: 2F Sitio Grande Building, 409 A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila, or the Times Opinion section e-mail address opinion@manilatimes.net   The candidate may, or course, decline to answer the questions, preferably giving the reason why. Or he can take the questions seriously, answer each one thoughtfully, and help me in this journalistic enterprise. How they all respond will be the subject of a future column. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Mar Roxas’ double standard in executing Binay suspension order


IN employing a double standard in the implementation of the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order against Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas has shown that he is not above playing dirty politics to politically cripple the Binays ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.  There’s a double standard because Roxas is applying the rules differently in the case of Binay than other politicians in a similar situation.  According to the DILG’s statement, at 8:24AM last Monday (March 16, 2015), “DILG NCR Director Rene Brion went to Makati City Hall to implement the Ombudsman’s order suspending Makati Mayor Binay.” However, since Brion “was denied entry into the building, and was prevented from going up to the Mayor’s office…RD Brion posted in full public view a copy of the suspension order…”   

At 9:47AM or a little more than an hour after Brion’s posted the Ombudsman’s suspension order, Peña took his oath as acting Mayor before Assistant City Prosecutor Billy Evangelista in a ceremony at the Museo ng Makati in Barangay Poblacion, which was attended by Brion. On the other hand, the Court of Appeals (CA)’s resolution issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of Mayor Binay was received by the DILG at 3:09PM.    The DILG therefore claims that the Ombudsman’s order of serving notice to Mayor Junjun Binay had already been carried out. Thus, in a legal opinion issued at the request of Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima argues that “the temporary restraining order of the [CA] is without legal force and effect because it is already moot and academic” since it was received only after the Ombudsman’s suspension had been served by the DILG and Peña had assumed as acting mayor.  However, as pointed out by former law school dean and fellow litigation lawyer Tranquil Salvador 3rd, the real issue is not about the timing of the TRO issued by the CA but whether or not the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order was indeed properly served by Brion in the first place. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Insanity vs. integrity in public office


NO law prohibits a spouse, sibling, child, parent, or any relative of an incumbent in public office to be a candidate in an election.  The only disqualifications categorically set by law are insanity and conviction for specific crimes, but nothing about a candidate’s kinship by blood or affinity to someone in power.  Mere showing of unstable mind is not enough to be disqualified. Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, December 3, 1985) requires that insanity or incompetence is “declared by competent authority.”   That is why no matter what critics say about President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, they could not be disqualified for psychological incapacity. Some people tried to produce proofs to boot them out, but those turned out to be fake. 

One who is convicted may still occupy public office if the conviction is not for crimes like subversion, insurrection, rebellion or any other offense that carries a jail term of more than 18 months, or a crime involving moral turpitude.  And even when convicted for those crimes, the grant of executive pardon, clemency or amnesty may still qualify the disqualified candidate or public officer to run. That explains why Joseph Estrada was allowed to run and remains as mayor of Manila despite his conviction for plunder in 2007. Barely one week after his conviction at the Sandiganbayan following seven years of costly litigation process, Estrada was freed on account of a presidential clemency pardon.  He had a written commitment that he would not seek any public office as a condition for the clemency, but no law required that so it was set aside. The qualifications for public office appear too easy to meet: natural-born citizen of the Philippines, able to read and write, a registered voter, plus the age and residency requirements for specific positions; and the disqualifications too easy to skirt.  COTINUE READING...

ALSO: ‘Concert kids’ these days


By Alice Bustos-Orosa  Last weekend, my daughter, Tricia with her cousin, Janelle, finally made it to the much-awaited One Direction concert in Manila. A day in June last year, her dad and I pitifully looked on as our teenaged daughter desperately sobbed for One-D tickets that my husband tried to buy her that morning. It was so painstaking for her to accept that just as her dad’s turn came at the ticket booth, he was told that the last tickets had been sold to the lady before him in line. Lo and behold, we would soon learn that hundreds of young girls were also left in tears that day as tickets were sold out within an hour’s time. Fortunately, another concert date was offered to which her dad finally got regular tickets. The surge of concerts by both local and foreign artists has seen a surprisingly considerable following of fans in the Philippines. From One-Direction to Katy Perry to Ed Sheeran, we’re stunned at how tickets are being sold like pancakes. And so, come Sunday last, armed with a rain parka, food and drinks in her knapsack and with a clear strategy on how to get good seats, Tricia and Janelle drove off to the venue at eight o’clock in the morning. By that time, thousands of other young girls were already lined up at the entrance to wait it out for the concert that was to begin in the evening still. In fact, it seemed that waiting for a full day before a concert is so typical of many shows nowadays. READ ON...

ALSO: The root of Aquino’s woes
(In his inaugural speech and his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino lambasted “wang-wang” sirens as a symbol of the powerful jumping queues, skirting rules, and grabbing unfair advantage. If he and his administration had only jettisoned their own wang-wang disregard of laws and procedures, then Mamasapano and his other debacles could have been avoided.)

Whether you have a car or a motorcycle, or just crossing at the pedestrian lane, all of us should follow rules. Let’s not wait to be caught by an officer or on camera, and be penalized before we learn to follow the law and the system. — President Benigno Aquino 3rd, January 2014      If he had only followed his own advice about following rules and laws, delivered at the launching of the Metro Manila Development Authority’s traffic control system over a year ago, then President Benigno Aquino 3rd might have avoided the Mamasapano mess.   If Aquino had respected the order of his own appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales suspending then-Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima, he would have put PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina on top of the Special Action Force Operation Exodus to neutralize high-value terrorist bombers hiding out in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.   Then there would have been proper coordination, at least with Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gregorio Catapang. Even “time on target” notice might have been fine, since OIC Espina would have had the authority to call his opposite number at the AFP and request reinforcements and artillery.   But as he has done time and again in his nearly five years of rule, Aquino broke the rules in his ill-fated Mamasapano operation. And that repeated and, some would say, wanton disregard of regulations and statutes is the root of his many foibles, from the very first month of his regime until today.   Working back from Mamasapano, Aquino’s major failings all involve breaking law, convention, or both. READ MORE...

ALSO TIMES COLUMN:  Hyatt 10’s duplicity and hypocrisy on presidential apology


In serious studies of the presidency, there is a recurring complaint against its highly personalized character and vast powers. No adviser holds office independently of the president. Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs are hired and fired at whim, which means they are without constitutional power. It was in light of taming power and excess that the much-hyped resignation of the Hyatt10 (8 cabinet members and 2 agency chiefs) from the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was viewed and welcomed. Yet, as we learn more about the events at the time and the individuals constituting the group, we find that there is less and less to like about them.   Indeed, the depiction of Hyatt 10 as “Hayop 10” is turning out to be correct. The people in the group that the media portrayed as holier-than-most are as grubby and unscrupulous as our pork-addicted politicians. Obsessed with positions and budgets, they could cost the nation billions more before the books of the Aquino presidency are closed.  First apology, then double-cross From Mindanao, former press secretary Jesus Dureza (during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency) has sent me an intriguing update on the subject of “presidential apologies” that spreads villainy like peanut butter.  It appears that the public clamor for PNoy to apologize for his role in the Mamasapano incident has stirred Dureza’s not-so-fond memories of Hyatt 10 and the Hello Garci controversy. Here’s an excerpt from Dureza’s note: “If we recall, the Hyatt 10 were the ones who prevailed upon former President Arroyo to say ‘I’m sorry’ for the Garcillano issue. I know this because I sat in the Arroyo Cabinet when the issue was discussed. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

Will the Philippines ever have a Lee Kuan Yew?


Mr. Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world.MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL.

MANILA, MARCH 30, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) March 24, 2015 12:28 am - THE Foreign Affairs department’s statement on “the Passing of Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister” yesterday is terse but truthful.

“The Philippines joins the Singaporean people in mourning the passing of their first Prime Minister and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Mr. Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world. His fortitude, political will and wisdom will continue to be an inspiration in the years to come.”

We in The Times are admirers of Lee Kuan Yew.

Many Filipinos like him because the effective but authoritarian Singapore government that he built was and by and large continues to be a temple of good governance manned by men and women of probity.

He served as prime minister of Singapore from June 3, 1959 to November 28, 1990 (more than 30 years), and then as senior minister of Singapore from November 28, 1990 to August 12, 2004 (almost four years) and finally as Minister Mentor of Singapore from August 12, 2004 to May 21, 2011 (almost six years). In his case, the phrase “serve as” does not mean “occupied the position of” as it does in the case of most Filipino public officials. It means working hard and effectively to achieve goals. And being a person of integrity.

He was friend of the Filipinos. He felt bad that we Filipino citizens and our political leaders could not make our country a better one than the mess we have been making it.

CONTINUE READING...
Those who have been Singapore-watching since its creation as an independent state, by Lee Kuan Yew mainly, have seen how Lee and his fellow leaders wished the Philippines would rise to become a worthy partner of Singapore in together giving leadership to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the whole of Asia and grow as First World Nations.

When the Marcos regime fell, Lee Kuan Yew tried to counsel his friends–among the new leaders of the Philippines enjoying the return of democratic freedoms–that they should take the opportunity to pay less attention to democracy and attend more seriously to effective governance and development. The usual human rights activists, among our political leaders of the time and most of the leading lights of the Philippine press, attacked Singapore’s PM Lee for his sensible advice.

In the ’70s, Singapore was proving that it could surmount its difficulties of surviving as an independent country after being forced to leave the Malaysian Federation by the United Malays National Organization, whose leaders have ruled Malaysia since its formation. Lee resisted separation from Malaysia–and he cried when he gave the speech announcing the event– but he and Singapore were told to leave the Malaysian Federation because the Malay majority was uncomfortable with Singapore and its largely Chinese population upsetting the racial and power structure.

A number of British intellectuals and political savants, worried about the decline of their country under ineffective political leaders in the mid-70s, wrote of the need for the UK to have London School of Economics and Cambridge University educated Lee Kuan Yew to come to the rescue.

Lee’s People’s Action Party began as a member of Socialist International and gradually turned into a European-style welfare-state parliamentary republic.

It has definitely become a First World country not only in its infrastructure, domestic and international economic success and social development. Unfortunately–and this made Lee Kuan Yew tearful once more when he spoke about it–Singapore, like all the First World countries, suffers from an aging population. Its population is threatened with extinction because of the success of the government’s population-control policy. This policy was reversed about 10 years ago. But paying women to marry and get pregnant, and giving generous support to couples so they would not be afraid of having many children, have not been very effective.

That is why, among others from the poor countries of Asean, our OFWs are a major part of Singapore’s socio-economy.

Some Filipinos who admire Lee Kuan Yew and his successors dream of one day seeing someone like Modern Singapore’s founder in our politics.

In the present Philippines under de facto President BS Aquino and the Smartmatic-PCOS machines that dream is not likely to come true.


QUESTIONS FOR PRESIDENTIABLES:

If you were President Aquino, what would you do? March 24, 2015 12:27 am YEN MAKABENTA by YEN MAKABENTA

First, would you apologize to the nation and the SAF 44’s families for bungling your role in the Mamasapano incident?

Second, would you appear for questioning in the House hearing on the incident on April 7 and 8?

Third, what are your personal ideas and recommendations on how the nation can surmount and reach closure on this national tragedy?

I am averse to using the term “presidentiable” because it is pidgin English. I prefer the bona fide English words “candidate” and “aspirant,” with the adjective presidential attached to them.

The questions are framed like those in a US presidential campaign debate. They seek to test the presidential aspirant’s sense of responsibility, judgment and executive ability in resolving a major national issue or problem.

I will send this brief questionnaire to each aspirant by e-mail or formal letter. The aspirants can send their replies to my e-mail address (yenmakabenta@yahoo.com), or to The Manila Times editorial office: 2F Sitio Grande Building, 409 A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila, or the Times Opinion section e-mail address opinion@manilatimes.net.  

The candidate may, or course, decline to answer the questions, preferably giving the reason why. Or he can take the questions seriously, answer each one thoughtfully, and help me in this journalistic enterprise. How they all respond will be the subject of a future column.

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Dismiss Belmonte’s cover-up

Answers to the questions may be responsive, evasive, feeble, or convincing. I am mainly interested in what the answers will reveal about the aspirants, in how their minds work, in whether they will answer the questions seriously or avoid answering them.

The questions basically ask the aspirants to imagine themselves in President Aquino’s shoes, armed with the facts that the public already knows from the two inquiry reports (PNP board of inquiry and Senate committee inquiry), regarding President Aquino’s role, actions and knowledge of what was happening on that fateful day (January 25, 2015) in Mamasapano.

Respondents should dismiss as a cover-up the self-serving move of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to stop the initiative of House members to request President Aquino to appear at the hearing on April 7. Let Belmonte stew in his own cowardice and servility.

Q & A as effective tool

So presidential aspirants and readers can see the usefulness and significance of this kind of questioning, I will cite and quote a segment from the presidential debate between former Governor Michael Dukakis and former president George H. W. Bush in the 1988 US presidential campaign.

Bernard Shaw, anchor of CNN, posed this brutal opening question to Dukakis:

“Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?”

Dukakis’s reply was revealing and eloquent: “God forbid, God forbid any harm should come to the person who is dearer to me than anyone or anything on earth. But I’d react the same as anyone. I’d want to kill the scum that did it. I’d want to rip him limb by limb.”

Amid sharp applause from the audience, Dukakis tried to elaborate on his answer:

‘Now wait, wait. Yes, I would want revenge on that situation. But you don’t run government on that basis. I believe the premeditated killing of a human being is wrong. Period. I don’t care how much the person may deserve it. It’s doubly wrong when government does it. That’s how I feel. So I’m against capital punishment…I have to go with what my conscience tells me.”

Bush’s turn to be grilled came next. Newsweek’s Margaret Warner asked Bush about abortion: “Why should a woman who discovers through amniocentesis that her baby will be born with Ty-Sachs disease, for instance, that the baby will live at most two years and those two years in incredible pain, be forced to carry the fetus to term, and yet a woman who becomes pregnant through incest would be allowed to abort her fetus?”

I quote from New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg’s account of Bush’s reply:

“Bush told Warner she had ‘left out one other exception’ –’the health of the mother.’ He then spoke haltingly and rather touchingly of his late daughter Robin, who died a few months after being diagnosed with leukemia. Bush added that medical science often makes such rapid advances that there is hope even for the often seemingly intractable cases. ‘And so I feel this is where I’m coming from,’ he concluded.”

This is how men who are serious and care deeply about public office respond to tough questioning. They don’t resort to clever remarks. They reply thoughtfully, often with a lot of feeling, sometimes eloquently and memorably.

Dukakis took a five-point bounce in the polls after the debate, but then he went on to lose the election.

Character, competence and commitment I came up with the idea for this questionnaire along with some friends who are keenly interested in issues of leadership and management.

We were unanimously curious about how presidential aspirants in 2016 can extricate themselves and the nation from the quicksand of Mamasapano? Can they hurdle the challenge?

I acceded to my friends’ suggestion that I raise these questions with the presidential aspirants, because personally I believe it’s time now for most of us to change perspectives.

We Filipinos will be throwing away our lives and our country, if we devote all our time just bashing PNoy and gnashing our teeth over Mamasapano.

We need to look at the bigger picture of our national life, and the longer game of national elections and the nation’s future.

Like an astronaut’s mission in outer space, my questionnaire is a probe for clues on character, competence and commitment among the men and women who aspire to become the 16th president of our republic.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com


Mar Roxas’ double standard in executing Binay suspension order March 23, 2015 11:33 pm  Atty. Dodo Dulay by ATTY. DODO DULAY

IN employing a double standard in the implementation of the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order against Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas has shown that he is not above playing dirty politics to politically cripple the Binays ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.

There’s a double standard because Roxas is applying the rules differently in the case of Binay than other politicians in a similar situation.

According to the DILG’s statement, at 8:24AM last Monday (March 16, 2015), “DILG NCR Director Rene Brion went to Makati City Hall to implement the Ombudsman’s order suspending Makati Mayor Binay.” However, since Brion “was denied entry into the building, and was prevented from going up to the Mayor’s office…RD Brion posted in full public view a copy of the suspension order…”

At 9:47AM or a little more than an hour after Brion’s posted the Ombudsman’s suspension order, Peña took his oath as acting Mayor before Assistant City Prosecutor Billy Evangelista in a ceremony at the Museo ng Makati in Barangay Poblacion, which was attended by Brion. On the other hand, the Court of Appeals (CA)’s resolution issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of Mayor Binay was received by the DILG at 3:09PM.

The DILG therefore claims that the Ombudsman’s order of serving notice to Mayor Junjun Binay had already been carried out. Thus, in a legal opinion issued at the request of Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima argues that “the temporary restraining order of the [CA] is without legal force and effect because it is already moot and academic” since it was received only after the Ombudsman’s suspension had been served by the DILG and Peña had assumed as acting mayor.

However, as pointed out by former law school dean and fellow litigation lawyer Tranquil Salvador 3rd, the real issue is not about the timing of the TRO issued by the CA but whether or not the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order was indeed properly served by Brion in the first place.

CONTINUE READING...
To answer that issue, Roxas did not have to ask De Lima for help because his own department (i.e. the DILG) previously issued a legal opinion on the proper procedure for the service and implementation of a suspension order.

In DILG Legal Opinion No. 18, 2014 dated May 23, 2014 – which involved a suspension order against the mayor of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat – the DILG said that when the rules of procedure of the suspending body do not specify the mode of service of the order, the provisions of the Rules of Court should apply to fill in any deficiencies in the rules.

In particular, the DILG opinion cited Section 5, Rule 13 of the Revised Rules of Court, which clearly states that the “(s)ervice of pleadings, motions, notices, orders, judgments and other papers shall be made either personally or by mail.”

In the case of Mayor Binay, since the Ombudsman’s rules of procedure also do not say how the suspension order should be served or implemented, the proper procedure should have been – based on the DILG’s legal opinion – to serve the order personally or by registered mail in accordance with the Rules of Court.

As DILG head, Roxas knew, or ought to have known, that serving the suspension order by “posting” it at the entrance to the Makati City Hall is not allowed under the rules. Posting is not one of the modes recognized by law for the valid service of the Ombudsman’s orders or notices.

It appears, however, that Roxas has little patience for legalities. He wanted Mayor Binay out of City Hall before the latter could secure a TRO, even if that meant turning a blind eye to his own department’s rulings.

Roxas’ treatment of Mayor Binay is in sharp contrast to that of his Liberal Party allies such as former Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca.

We recall that in May 2012, the Sandiganbayan ordered Padaca’s arrest in connection with graft and malversation charges. But even after he took over as DILG secretary in August 2012, Roxas never ordered the police to arrest Padaca. In fact, Padaca’s arrest warrant was never served up to the time she posted bail at the Sandiganbayan almost six months later in October 2012, accompanied no less by Roxas himself.

Since it is common knowledge that Roxas is eyeing the presidency in the 2016 elections, by applying a different rule in Mayor Binay’s case, he is clearly using his office to gain an unfair advantage over his reputed opponent, Vice-President Jojo Binay.

“Ang batas ay batas at lahat tayo ay sakop ng batas (The law is harsh but it is the law and no one is above the law.),” Roxas once lectured Mayor Binay.

Perhaps Roxas should practice what he preaches, first and foremost, by applying the law fairly and equally to everyone, his adversaries included.


Insanity vs. integrity in public office March 22, 2015 9:33 pm Tita C. Valderama by TITA C. VALDERAMA


NO law prohibits a spouse, sibling, child, parent, or any relative of an incumbent in public office to be a candidate in an election.

The only disqualifications categorically set by law are insanity and conviction for specific crimes, but nothing about a candidate’s kinship by blood or affinity to someone in power.

Mere showing of unstable mind is not enough to be disqualified. Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, December 3, 1985) requires that insanity or incompetence is “declared by competent authority.”

That is why no matter what critics say about President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, they could not be disqualified for psychological incapacity. Some people tried to produce proofs to boot them out, but those turned out to be fake.

One who is convicted may still occupy public office if the conviction is not for crimes like subversion, insurrection, rebellion or any other offense that carries a jail term of more than 18 months, or a crime involving moral turpitude.

And even when convicted for those crimes, the grant of executive pardon, clemency or amnesty may still qualify the disqualified candidate or public officer to run.

That explains why Joseph Estrada was allowed to run and remains as mayor of Manila despite his conviction for plunder in 2007. Barely one week after his conviction at the Sandiganbayan following seven years of costly litigation process, Estrada was freed on account of a presidential clemency pardon.

He had a written commitment that he would not seek any public office as a condition for the clemency, but no law required that so it was set aside.

The qualifications for public office appear too easy to meet: natural-born citizen of the Philippines, able to read and write, a registered voter, plus the age and residency requirements for specific positions; and the disqualifications too easy to skirt.

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The next election is drawing nearer. The election period is still 11 months away, but for many months now, we have already been seeing billboards and tarpaulins with the blinding names and faces of relatives of the incumbents.

Because the qualifications seem too easy to meet, it behooves upon us voters to pick the best candidates who can comply with other requirements spelled out in Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. This is the difficult part in public office.

Rule 6, Section 8 of the law mandates that “officials and employees and their families shall lead modest and simple lives appropriate to their positions and income.”

They should not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form, the law says. But is it being observed?

The implementing rules of the law explains: “Basically, modest and simple living means maintaining a standard of living within the public official and employee’s visible means of income as correctly disclosed in his income tax returns, annual statement of assets, liabilities and net worth and other documents relating to financial and business interests and connections.”

“Public funds and proper for official use and purpose shall be utilized with the diligence of a good father of a family,” it further said.

Perhaps this reminder should be displayed in strategic spaces in all government offices instead of having huge framed photographs of the President and the head of office hanging on the walls.

Another requirement for public officers that is seemingly forgotten, or taken for granted, is the rule on public disclosure of the identity of relatives in public office and of business interests.

These are important to determine conflict of interest involving a public official or employee. The disclosure of relatives in government extends up to the fourth civil degree by blood or affinity, meaning up to bilas (sibling of a sibling’s spouse), inso and balae (parents in law of children).

Violation of these provisions carries a penalty of fine of the equivalent of up to six months’ salary, suspension of up to one year, or removal from office. These have been blatantly violated but we don’t see anyone getting punished for these.

It may be easy to meet the qualifications and dodge the disqualifications of being a candidate for public office, but the difficult requirements for accountability, honesty, simplicity, humility, and transparency are often ignored.

By taking these principles for granted, we allow the few families who have made public service as a private enterprise to rule us for years. It has become normal for a politician’s son, wife, brother, or parent, in law or kumpadre, to run for the same or another government office.

How do we solve this problem of political dynasties? It is ambitious to do it by law because most of them are in Congress that will make the law. We cannot expect them to come up with a law that will “disinherit” them of their main source of livelihood.

It is in our hands, the voters. Responsible voting is the only way to bring back integrity, accountability, honesty, humility, simplicity and credibility in public office. If the good men will see that voters have become responsible, they might consider joining public service and leave out the unqualified.


‘Concert kids’ these days March 25, 2015 5:41 pm  Alice Bustos-Orosa

Last weekend, my daughter, Tricia with her cousin, Janelle, finally made it to the much-awaited One Direction concert in Manila.

A day in June last year, her dad and I pitifully looked on as our teenaged daughter desperately sobbed for One-D tickets that my husband tried to buy her that morning. It was so painstaking for her to accept that just as her dad’s turn came at the ticket booth, he was told that the last tickets had been sold to the lady before him in line.

Lo and behold, we would soon learn that hundreds of young girls were also left in tears that day as tickets were sold out within an hour’s time. Fortunately, another concert date was offered to which her dad finally got regular tickets.

The surge of concerts by both local and foreign artists has seen a surprisingly considerable following of fans in the Philippines. From One-Direction to Katy Perry to Ed Sheeran, we’re stunned at how tickets are being sold like pancakes.

And so, come Sunday last, armed with a rain parka, food and drinks in her knapsack and with a clear strategy on how to get good seats, Tricia and Janelle drove off to the venue at eight o’clock in the morning. By that time, thousands of other young girls were already lined up at the entrance to wait it out for the concert that was to begin in the evening still. In fact, it seemed that waiting for a full day before a concert is so typical of many shows nowadays.

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Getting updates on an hourly basis, her dad and I learned that the girls were slowly let into the venue sometime late in the afternoon. Even more, overcast skies dropped summer showers over the thick crowd. Undeterred by the weather though, the girls all endured the cold showers and long cues just to see these British boys. If there was ever proof of how dedicated and steadfast fans can get, then this must be it!

The night before, Tricia casually remarked that she thinks she might cry at the concert. As a matter of fact, when her friends learned that one of the band members, Zayn, couldn’t make it to Manila, they wept at such disappointing news.

Home after the concert, just as she predicted, Tricia narrated how her tears wouldn’t stop as soon as One-D stepped on stage. “Happy tears,” she said!

“Are they really here? Is this for real?” the girls squealed as One-D played song after song. What a throwback to how girls back to the ‘60s reacted to the Beatles—teenagers ready to faint at the sight of their idols, emotionally distraught even.

Of course, over Sunday dinner, while the girls were at the concert, the rest of the family talked about them. One niece retorted, “They’re probably crying like crazy. But trust me, they’ll have PCD tomorrow!” That’s what my niece refers to as “Post-Concert Depression, “ the feeling, she claims, one gets after seeing a concert of your long-time music idols.

Not convinced about this so-called PCD, ironically, I watched my daughter teary-eyed and daydreaming the morning after as she skimmed through concert photos and played One-D songs over and over again. Tricia then related too how after the show, she and her cousin cried unembarrassed over dinner in a restaurant when a One-D song was played on air. My husband and I could only listen amusedly at our daughter’s accounts of how an avid and loyal One-D nut she’s turned out to be.

And yet, as we listened to her, we could see how genuine her smile was and how much unconcealed joy she had at finally seeing these British boys up close. If only for one day, our daughter must have felt on top of the world in the company of One-D.


The root of Aquino’s woes March 26, 2015 12:17 am  Ricardo Saludo by RICARDO SALUDO

Whether you have a car or a motorcycle, or just crossing at the pedestrian lane, all of us should follow rules. Let’s not wait to be caught by an officer or on camera, and be penalized before we learn to follow the law and the system. — President Benigno Aquino 3rd, January 2014

If he had only followed his own advice about following rules and laws, delivered at the launching of the Metro Manila Development Authority’s traffic control system over a year ago, then President Benigno Aquino 3rd might have avoided the Mamasapano mess.

If Aquino had respected the order of his own appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales suspending then-Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima, he would have put PNP Officer-in-Charge Leonardo Espina on top of the Special Action Force Operation Exodus to neutralize high-value terrorist bombers hiding out in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Then there would have been proper coordination, at least with Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gregorio Catapang. Even “time on target” notice might have been fine, since OIC Espina would have had the authority to call his opposite number at the AFP and request reinforcements and artillery.

But as he has done time and again in his nearly five years of rule, Aquino broke the rules in his ill-fated Mamasapano operation. And that repeated and, some would say, wanton disregard of regulations and statutes is the root of his many foibles, from the very first month of his regime until today.

Working back from Mamasapano, Aquino’s major failings all involve breaking law, convention, or both.

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The Bangsamoro Basic Law, now moribund after Mamasapano, was already having a tough time in Congress even before the massacre of 44 SAF commandos by fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its splinter group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Indeed, the Palace was delayed for months in submitting the draft BBL to legislators, because its lawyers had to revise many provisions in the original version submitted by government and MILF negotiators, to comply with the Constitution.

Even then, senators and congressmen are finding more unconstitutional items to amend.

Last year’s Disbursement Acceleration Program debacle was rooted in a reckless disregard for decades-old budgeting rules and procedures.

Every government official and staffer, from manual workers to Malacañang’s occupant, know that if there is no budget allocation — “walang badyet” — funds cannot be spent. But Aquino and DAP architect and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad flouted this basic fiscal tenet.

If the Bangsamoro peace agreement was fraught with unconstitutional provisions, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allowing increased US military presence in the country, may also have violated the fundamental law for lacking Senate ratification.

Given the unprecedented level of American force deployment and access to Philippine bases, it is hard to argue that the EDCA is just an implementation of past pacts. But insist on that dubious legal position the Aquino administration does.

Disregarding laws led to disasters Two of the three calamities that hit the country in late 2013 can also be partly traced to Aquino’s disregard of the law.

The dismal state response to Supertyphoon Yolanda, especially in Tacloban, would not have been so woefully inadequate if Aquino implemented the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 passed two months before he took office.

The NDRRM Law mandated the building up of the Office of Civil Defense into a billion-peso national disaster response and risk reduction organization similar to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The enhanced OCD would have included a training institute set up specifically for DRRM capacity building for local government units. None of that was done, prompting state auditors to lament that OCD reported no accomplishments in its core mandate of improving LGU disaster response capabilities.

The Zamboanga siege by Moro National Liberation Front fighters in September 2013 might not have happened if Aquino’s peace accords with the MILF did not propose to sweep aside the entire Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) created under binding agreements with the MNLF and the ARMM law.

Even the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has long backed the interests of Filipino Muslims, was disturbed by the way the Bangsamoro pact would undermine the MNLF’s hard-fought stature in Muslim Mindanao, and has pressed the Front and its MILF splinter group to reconcile their peace accords. Why did it have to be the foreign OIC to push for harmonizing the pacts, when it is the Philippine government that signed the MNLF and MILF agreements and should accord respect and validity to both?

If the Yolanda and Zamboanga disasters seem far away for the rest of the country, a third deadly scourge can also be traced to law-breaking under Aquino.

The doubling in crime incidence since 2010, concealed for two years until the PNP came out with unadulterated data last June, was fueled by the flood of guns and drugs from the five-fold increase in smuggling under this administration.

The President could have stanched the flow early if he only investigated and sanctioned the disappearance of more than 2,000 cargo containers in 2011 — the biggest spate of smuggling in Philippine history.

But then, Aquino’s disregard for the niceties and imperatives of law was there from day one. In his first Executive Order creating the Philippine Truth Commission, he targeted the past administration in violation of the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law.

When the Supreme Court and Aquino’s own legal adviser suggested remedies, he did not care for them. Nor did he listen when his own mother’s first Executive Secretary and longtime friend, Joker Arroyo, criticized Palace lawyers.

In his inaugural speech and his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino lambasted “wang-wang” sirens as a symbol of the powerful jumping queues, skirting rules, and grabbing unfair advantage.

If he and his administration had only jettisoned their own wang-wang disregard of laws and procedures, then Mamasapano and his other debacles could have been avoided.


Hyatt 10’s duplicity and hypocrisy on presidential apology March 28, 2015 1:36 am YEN MAKABENTA


by YEN MAKABENTA

In serious studies of the presidency, there is a recurring complaint against its highly personalized character and vast powers. No adviser holds office independently of the president. Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs are hired and fired at whim, which means they are without constitutional power.

It was in light of taming power and excess that the much-hyped resignation of the Hyatt10 (8 cabinet members and 2 agency chiefs) from the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was viewed and welcomed. Yet, as we learn more about the events at the time and the individuals constituting the group, we find that there is less and less to like about them.

Indeed, the depiction of Hyatt 10 as “Hayop 10” is turning out to be correct. The people in the group that the media portrayed as holier-than-most are as grubby and unscrupulous as our pork-addicted politicians. Obsessed with positions and budgets, they could cost the nation billions more before the books of the Aquino presidency are closed.

First apology, then double-cross From Mindanao, former press secretary Jesus Dureza (during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency) has sent me an intriguing update on the subject of “presidential apologies” that spreads villainy like peanut butter.

It appears that the public clamor for PNoy to apologize for his role in the Mamasapano incident has stirred Dureza’s not-so-fond memories of Hyatt 10 and the Hello Garci controversy.

Here’s an excerpt from Dureza’s note: “If we recall, the Hyatt 10 were the ones who prevailed upon former President Arroyo to say ‘I’m sorry’ for the Garcillano issue. I know this because I sat in the Arroyo Cabinet when the issue was discussed.

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“The president herself intentionally skipped attending that session day to allow the whole Cabinet to freely and openly discuss the pros and cons. We were deeply divided. The majority did not agree that PGMA should say ‘I’m sorry.’ But one faction with Secretaries Dinky Soliman, Ging Deles, and Cesar Purisima as leaders argued that the President must apologize openly to the nation to save her government.

“When PGMA did what they advised her to do, the next thing they did was to treacherously abandon her. They resigned en masse from the Cabinet, wrongly believing that her government would then collapse.

“That’s all behind us now. Coincidentally (or by stroke of fate), they are all now cozily seated in the Aquino Cabinet. Question: are they also similarly advising PNoy to say “I’m sorry’?”

Why did the majority opinion in the Arroyo Cabinet not rule? Was it the noise that president Cory was stirring outside? Was she promoting a coup for a change?

In any case, GMA did listen to the aggressive lobby for an apology by Hyatt 10.

If the object of the apology was to save GMA’s government, why did they resign? Or was the point precisely to bring down her government?

Dureza concluded his missive by offering unsolicited advice to President PNoy: Don’t listen to them, Mr. President. Look what they did to the former president!

So here’s my question to this bunch of bureaucrats. Have you advised President Aquino to offer his apologies to the nation for the Mamasapano tragedy?

In truth, according to The Manila Times sources at the Palace and in the Cabinet, none of the Hyatt 10 veterans has advised Aquino to apologize for Mamasapano to save his government. They have studiously stayed away from the controversy. They are anxious to keep their posts and their huge budgets.

Hypocrisy and double cross Their failure to advise Aquino to apologize adds the sin of hypocrisy to Hyatt 10’s duplicity and deception of President Arroyo.

They arm-twisted Arroyo into apologizing, ostensibly to save her government. In the case of Aquino, whose presidency is twisting in the wind because of Mamasapano, their advice is for him to keep his lips zipped.

It’s doubly a disservice to the public, because their intervention in the national interest could spare the nation further grief.

Compare them with former congressman Walden Bello, who had the courage of his convictions, and resigned his seat in the House of Representatives, in protest against Aquino’s failure to take responsibility for Mamasapano. Bello is not even a member of the Aquino administration. He was just an ally in Congress.

When they announced their resignation in 2005, Hyatt 10 took refuge in patriotic pretensions.

They declared: “The President can be part of the solution to this crisis by making the supreme sacrifice for God and country to voluntarily relinquish her office and allow her constitutional successor, the Vice President, to assume the Presidency. Resignation is a legitimate constitutional option for effecting leadership change. Given the crisis in the Presidency, this is the least disruptive and painful option that can swiftly restore normalcy and eventually bring us to prosperity.”

At the time of this statement there was no crisis in the presidency. The fact is that the apology they forced on President Arroyo and their collective resignation created the appearance of a crisis.

That situation proved momentary. Things quickly stabilized when former president Fidel V. Ramos and Speaker Joe de Venecia visited Arroyo in Malacañang. And soon GMA was moving forward to managing the economy in earnest and strengthening relations with other countries.

As for Hyatt 10, most of them, except for one member who succumbed to illness and another who was exposed for his ties to Janet Lim-Napoles, went on to join the new government of President Benigno BS. Aquino in 2010.

Soliman, Deles and Purisima were rewarded for their efforts with the same key positions in the new administration. Florencio Abad moved on to greater heights of ignominy as the budget and management secretary. Others took lucrative positions in government corporations.

Did Hyatt 10 in any way resemble the group of happy warriors described by Shakespeare in Henry V: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”

No way. This was from the start a cabal for selfish ends.

With Hyatt 10’s primal survival instincts, it won’t be surprising if they are now already plotting to keep their posts in the next administration – by changing stripes or making a deal. (Bobi naughtily reported last year that Purisima has intimated to VP Binay that he wants to keep his strategic post at Finance.)

But their top priority, like that of President Aquino, is to avoid the jailhouse.

Cautionary tale for future presidents For writing these words, I will be seen mistakenly by some as an Arroyo partisan, which I am not. I write this as a serious observer and student of the Philippine presidency. I had the privilege of working with two presidents (President Marcos and President Ramos), and I value greatly the experience and insight that those stints gave me on presidential politics and policymaking.

Mr. Dureza’s piece of news on Hyatt 10 is interesting as presidential history and as a cautionary tale for once-and-future presidents of the republic.

Journalism, I learned early, was invented as an antidote to gossip.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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