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

FROM THE TRIBUNE

EDITORIAL: PLAN B (for BBL) IS CORY MAGIC AGAIN


The council that Noynoy formed which will have no other evident purpose but to campaign in favor of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)’s approval to counter the waning support of legislators in passing the bill. The so-called independent convenors, in which Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., businessmen Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman were invited as members appeared to be the Palace’s Plan B to stir-up public support for BBL which will be equated to peace. The members of the body indeed are impressive.

A so-called National Peace Summit will be convened by the eminent group “to deliberate on and discuss the BBL” which elected representatives of the people are already doing in Congress. The target apparently is the undecided portion of the population that in a recent Pulse Asia survey comprised 36 percent of sample respondents against 44 percent who reject the BBL. Only 21 of those polled supported the bill. Noynoy and the Palace immediately attributed the unpopularity of the bill to the lack of information among the public on what it contains.
Many of those who read the bill, however, and put it in context with the events involving the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will form no other opinion but to discard it as a piece of document that will cut up the country’s sovereignty. From giving the Moro people self-determination and preserving their identity, Noynoy now is justifying the bequeathing of land to the MILF saying that the root of injustice in Mindanao is land grabbing. CONTINUE RADING...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Made-up world for Noy


Noynoy officially made as his bragging rights in a business forum amid the deluge of allegations of incompetence against him as he boasted the supposed steady growth rates and his claimed improvement of the influx of foreign investments. Before members of the Federation of the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. Noynoy said “early on, we spoke mostly of what we intended to do over the course of our administration. Over the past few years, however, maybe you have noticed that we speak less about what we intend to do, and more about what has been done.”  He spoke of his administration’s achievements which “have transformed the economic landscape of our country for the better.”  Noynoy bragged about the gross domestic product, “which averaged a growth of 6.3 percent over the period 2010 to 2013, which is a stark improvement from the 4.3 GDP growth between 2006 to 2009.” 

Also part of his claimed achievement was the Foreign Direct Investments reaching an all-time high in 2014, rising to $6.2 billion from just $1.07 billion in 2010.
“The international community has regained confidence in us. In 2013, the three most renowned credit ratings agencies unanimously granted us investment grade ratings, and since then, our credit ratings have continued to rise. We have also gone from being considered the Sick Man of Asia to being called Asia’s Rising Tiger,” Noynoy claimed.  That was not, however, what the Asian Development Bank (ADB) exactly saw developments in the country under the administration of Noynoy. For the most part of the Aquino administration, job creation has been the biggest hurdle to the Philippine economy and the latest ADB report on Asian economies said the situation has not changed a year before President Aquino steps down from office with 9 million Filipinos either without jobs or do not earn enough with their current work. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Napeñas has all the keys


There seems to be an effort to gag former Special Action Force (SAF) chief Director Getulio Napeñas who had started to struggle against his designation as main scapegoat of the Mamasapano incident. The Palace allies in the House yesterday instead tried to reiterate the Malacañang line that it was basically the fault of the weak command of Napeñas that had resulted in the decimation of the 55th SAF Company last Jan. 25. Napeñas seemed ready to divulge what had transpired during the meeting at the Bahay Pangarap among himself, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima and Noynoy to plot the details of Operation Plan (Oplan) Exodus. In the other day’s hearing, Napeñas was cut off continuously when his narration became perilously close to involving Noynoy and nobody among the House probers, either through ignorance or by purpose, tried to follow up on the new revelations of Napeñas. READ MORE...

ALSO: Peace advocates or agitators?


The attitude displayed by presidential adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles in the House hearing on the Mamasapano incident was not expected of a peace advocate, which is what she claims to be. Instead of clarifying nagging doubts about the sincerity of the government negotiators in the peace agreement entered into with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is supposedly the product of 17 years of negotiations, Deles blew her top over a statement of Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat that the negotiators of Noynoy should start speaking in behalf of the government instead of the MILF. The issue raised was valid since the negotiating panel had always spoken in defense of the MILF and blindly assumed the position, obviously dictated by the rebel group, primarily during the investigations on the Mamasapano debacle. The question on where Deles and the other negotiators’ sentiment lies was primarily the result of doubts brought about by what has been said regarding the peace process. Deles, for instance, in a recent speech in a commencement exercise at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, equated the current conflict in Mindanao to the Crusades in the Middle Ages when Christians fought Muslims to gain control of Jerusalem or the Holy Land. READ MORE...

ALSO: Where’s Easter in the message?


The temptation was to let pass Noynoy’s fantastic fables since it was Easter and the message supposedly involves the risen Christ but even Lazarus, if he were a Filipino, would object to Noynoy’s claims. The premise of his speech which has as sheepskin his supposed Easter message, was that the administration of Noynoy turned around the confidence of Filipinos in their government coming from years of abuse and corruption, he evidently referred to the previous Arroyo administration.Gloria Arroyo, his predecessor, has been under detention for most of the administration of Noynoy without a single accusation against her being proven, allegations which Noynoy, however, continues to use as his ticket to claim his treading the righteous path.
Many of Noynoy’s supporters and those who are not necessarily Arroyo loyalists are now criticizing that the former President is being kept in jail, either through prolonging the unsubstantiated plunder cases against her or the filing of new non-bailable charges when it seems that previous suits are heading for court dismissal.

The unsubstantiated or even accusations already dismissed in court are, however, still referred to by Noynoy and his alliance in making a contrast of the righteous and the crooked paths. So Noynoy claimed in his “Easter” message that Filipinos “combined their voices and decided to take the righteous path” which he claimed started the healing process for government institutions. “The economy was invigorated and the former Sick Man of Asia rose to his feet and became Asia’s Rising Tiger. The Sick Man of Asia was the term used on the Philippines during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos and not necessarily the state of the economy during the term of Arroyo. Many of the foundations of reforms being now claimed by Noynoy as part of his righteous path was started during the term of Arroyo. The financial system strengthened due to the determined free market policy of Arroyo. The only serious market intervention that can be recalled during the term of Arroyo was that on electricity bills in which a price cap was imposed on the Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA) after a massive protest campaign was launched against it.READ MORE...

ALSO: New normal is abnormal
[Under the BBL, the substate of the MILF will get more in terms of government financing and chunks from regional revenues than other provinces. There are other cases of “normal” in the BBL but which can only be found in the Bangsamoro similar to Iqbal and other MILF officials having a perfectly admissible use of aliases in situations for which other Filipinos will be criminally liable. Iqbal personalizes the new normal in the Palace which is otherwise abnormal within the law.]


Malacañang and its online trolls are trying to trivialize the use of aliases by officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) even in the signing of agreements with the government related to the peace process, saying the issue is irrelevant to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) debate. The Palace has a good reason to go all out in the campaign to make it a petty issue since the use of an alias may invalidate the whole peace process involving the Muslim rebels from the start, after the admission of MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal or whatever his name is that he has been using an alias in dealing with government. Legislators, however, are convinced that the issue is serious enough to cause a major hindrance to the BBL as it is significant to the sincerity of the MILF that was put into question after the Mamasapano incident. The Palace would have to admit that it knows Iqbal was using a false name in the hope that it would take the heat off the MILF negotiators but in the process it makes itself complicit to the apparent forgery of the peace documents with the use of the aliases. The law prohibits the use of false names in the signing of official documents and what would be more official than the peace agreement which according to the government’s chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer is the product of 17 years of negotiations. READ MORE...

ALSO: The lameduck factor
[The bottomline is who would cast his lot on a now political lameduck?]


The confluence of an oncoming election and the growing public doubts on the true intention of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in their pursuit of a Bangsamoro substate certainly do not go well with the push for the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite an aggressive push from the Palace. The mood in Congress is now to hear more the voters rather than the Palace to collect political brownies in the runup to the polls and the sentiment is against the creation of the Bangsamoro substate. The creation of the Citizens Council composed of some prominent names in the business, religious and academic fields will have little effect on the sentiment generated by the Jan. 25 incident in which Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels willfully slaughtered 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in relation to the mission that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Noynoy and his allies had designated June 12 as target date for the approval of the BBL which they thought would be symbolic since they claim the law will liberate the country from years of uncertainty due to the on and off armed strife in Mindanao. The BBL indeed will open the gates for economic opportunities in Mindanao since the volatile situation in some provinces affect the whole island and to a large extent the whole country. The mining industry which has the greatest potential in Mindanao, for instance, is estimated to be at least $1 trillion in contribution to the economy when fully developed. Noynoy’s interest, however, is leaving a legacy when he steps down next year or a place in the annals of history for forging a lasting peace. His desire to obtain a Bangsamoro substate before the end of his term becomes more urgent after the Mamasapano incident. READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL: Plan B is Cory magic again

MANILA, APRIL 13, 2015 (TRIBUNE) Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 30 March 2015 - The council that Noynoy formed which will have no other evident purpose but to campaign in favor of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)’s approval to counter the waning support of legislators in passing the bill.

The so-called independent convenors, in which Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., businessmen Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman were invited as members appeared to be the Palace’s Plan B to stir-up public support for BBL which will be equated to peace.

The members of the body indeed are impressive. A so-called National Peace Summit will be convened by the eminent group “to deliberate on and discuss the BBL” which elected representatives of the people are already doing in Congress.

The target apparently is the undecided portion of the population that in a recent Pulse Asia survey comprised 36 percent of sample respondents against 44 percent who reject the BBL. Only 21 of those polled supported the bill.

Noynoy and the Palace immediately attributed the unpopularity of the bill to the lack of information among the public on what it contains.

Many of those who read the bill, however, and put it in context with the events involving the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will form no other opinion but to discard it as a piece of document that will cut up the country’s sovereignty.

From giving the Moro people self-determination and preserving their identity, Noynoy now is justifying the bequeathing of land to the MILF saying that the root of injustice in Mindanao is land grabbing.

CONTINUE READING...
“The conflict in Mindanao began during the dictatorship because of land-grabbing. The law was used to exploit the uneducated, and deny them their land. It is unfortunate that no one thought that if abusing the law was the root of the problem, then it would be reasonable, just and acceptable that the law also solves it. Until now, we feel the effects of neglecting this problem.

But it is also clear that, today, your government adheres to a different point of view. We already have initiatives in place, for example, that protect indigenous rights and care for ancestral domains,” Noynoy said.

The statement brings to memory the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domains (MoA-AD) the previous administration tried to seal with the MILF if not for the 11th hour intervention of the Supreme Court.

The salient points of the tribunal’s decision rejecting the MoA-AD as unconstitutional then penned by Associate Justice now Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was that the government failed “to consult the local government units or communities affected and that the government officials behind the agreement exceeded their authority by the mere act of guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution,” it added.

It seems that the proposed body then would be another front for the likely proposal for charter change since this is what the MILF has been clamoring for from the start as a necessity in the creation of the Bangsamoro substate.

According to the Palace, the council will recommend ways to move forward regarding the BBL and the peace process.

Businessmen have also their stake in cha-cha since they want to change restrictive provisions in the Constitution that limit foreign ownership of land and local businesses primarily in the utilities sector.

Cha-cha would be the most contentious issue in the BBL and the fact that the deliberations on the bill are within the runup to the presidential elections next year will not make it any easier for legislators who will be wooing voters to agree to the unpopular pursuit.

It seems that Plan B of the Palace is to harness the power of the yellow community which supported former President Cory Aquino to turn around the tide of incompetency which seems now engulfing Noynoy to obscurity.


EDITORIAL; Made-up world for Noy  Written by Tribune Editorial  Tuesday, 31 March 2015 00:00

Noynoy officially made as his bragging rights in a business forum amid the deluge of allegations of incompetence against him as he boasted the supposed steady growth rates and his claimed improvement of the influx of foreign investments.

Before members of the Federation of the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. Noynoy said “early on, we spoke mostly of what we intended to do over the course of our administration. Over the past few years, however, maybe you have noticed that we speak less about what we intend to do, and more about what has been done.”

He spoke of his administration’s achievements which “have transformed the economic landscape of our country for the better.”

Noynoy bragged about the gross domestic product, “which averaged a growth of 6.3 percent over the period 2010 to 2013, which is a stark improvement from the 4.3 GDP growth between 2006 to 2009.”

Also part of his claimed achievement was the Foreign Direct Investments reaching an all-time high in 2014, rising to $6.2 billion from just $1.07 billion in 2010.

“The international community has regained confidence in us. In 2013, the three most renowned credit ratings agencies unanimously granted us investment grade ratings, and since then, our credit ratings have continued to rise. We have also gone from being considered the Sick Man of Asia to being called Asia’s Rising Tiger,” Noynoy claimed.

That was not, however, what the Asian Development Bank (ADB) exactly saw developments in the country under the administration of Noynoy.

For the most part of the Aquino administration, job creation has been the biggest hurdle to the Philippine economy and the latest ADB report on Asian economies said the situation has not changed a year before President Aquino steps down from office with 9 million Filipinos either without jobs or do not earn enough with their current work.

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The ADB’s flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2015 highlighted the need to stimulate investment and generate more and better jobs.

It noted that even when the unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent in January 2015, the lowest in 10 years, 2.6 million people remained jobless, half of them aged 15 to 25 years, and a further 6.5 million were underemployed.

It noted creating good jobs in all sectors is key to reducing poverty.

The ADB report identified private consumption, which is mainly driven by remittances from an estimated 10 million overseas Filipino workers, remained the main cog of the economy in 2014, accounting for more than 60 percent of GDP growth.

It also noted the slack in government spending which contributed to the slowing down of growth in the country.

Government underspending can’t be blamed on anybody else but Noynoy and his administration.

Soft government spending in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling against certain government funds weighed on the economy, while damage from typhoon “Yolanda” and other storms hurt agricultural output for much of last year, the ADB report said.

The report said that the lack of employment is keeping most of the population poor as it noted that a quarter of the 100 million Filipinos remained poor, reflecting the need for more and better jobs.
In the first half of 2014, poverty incidence was reported at 25.8 percent compared to 24.6 percent in the same period in 2013, despite an expensive conditional cash transfer program that is allotted P64 billion in this year’s budget.

The ADB also cited the dearth of foreign investments which is crucial in setting up new business and in the creation of more jobs.

“Investment has improved in the Philippines but still lags its subregional peers,” it said.
It added that net foreign direct investments are modest despite a 66-percent increase to $6.2 billion in 2014.

ADB forecast economic output to grow by 6.4 percent in 2015 and 6.3 percent in 2016 from last year’s 6.1 percent which was a deceleration by about one percentage point from the year earlier on a slowdown in government spending.

The claimed improved state of the economy was not also enough to make majority of consumers an optimist, according to the latest Consumer Expectation Survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The survey showed that while the overall confidence index (CI) in the survey improved to negative 10 percent in the first quarter from negative 21.8 percent in the final quarter of last year, the result showed pessimists dominate.

The higher but still negative CI means that the number of households with an optimistic outlook increased but they continued to be outnumbered by those who think otherwise.

The CI is computed as the percentage of households that answered in the affirmative less the percentage of households that answered in the negative with respect to their views on a given indicator.

Noynoy will continue to pound on his supposed economic achievements to cover up for his mediocre administration which is now under siege as a result of negligence in the death of 44 Special Action Force commandos in the Mamasapano debacle.

His economic achievements are made up as much as the supposed chain of events before and after the slaughter of the elite policemen that sought to exonerate Noynoy from responsibility.


Napeñas has all the keys Written by Tribune Editorial Thursday, 09 April 2015 00:00

There seems to be an effort to gag former Special Action Force (SAF) chief Director Getulio Napeñas who had started to struggle against his designation as main scapegoat of the Mamasapano incident.

The Palace allies in the House yesterday instead tried to reiterate the Malacañang line that it was basically the fault of the weak command of Napeñas that had resulted in the decimation of the 55th SAF Company last Jan. 25.

Napeñas seemed ready to divulge what had transpired during the meeting at the Bahay Pangarap among himself, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima and Noynoy to plot the details of Operation Plan (Oplan) Exodus.

In the other day’s hearing, Napeñas was cut off continuously when his narration became perilously close to involving Noynoy and nobody among the House probers, either through ignorance or by purpose, tried to follow up on the new revelations of Napeñas.


NAPEÑAS

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Ignoring Napeñas seems logical for the Palace allies since the former SAF chief would be key to revealing the extent of Noynoy’s involvement in the mission to capture or kill high-value terrorists led by Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Napeñas, for instance, said the ceasefire order through the intervention of the International Monitoring Team and the Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities had a lot to do with the massive death among the SAF commandos since he claimed it was solely the police forces who had complied with the order, while the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters used the lull in shooting to regroup and rearm.

The rebels later slaughtered the policemen who were already exhausted and famished from hours of fighting. Napeñas, in his dire situation, would, in an effort to salvage his dignity or a higher ambition after the Mamasapano debacle would be providing information nearer to reality.

The role of Noynoy was central to the resolution of the debacle and on whom to pinpoint the accountability as a way of rendering justice to the 44 slain SAF troopers. Noynoy vehemently protested against the reports of the Senate and the Board of Inquiry (BoI) which both ascribed to him command responsibility for the bloodbath without the reports, however, stating the proposed penalty on those considered culpable.

Not a word, however, was spoken about the MILF report which dumped the responsibility entirely on the SAF operatives which was almost the same line peddled by the Palace.

Napeñas seems driven by bigger ambitions in government which is a natural phase among police officials and which seems to be what is motivating the former SAF official to offer resistance to assigning to him all the blame on the tragedy.

Napeñas is apparently trying to pull down Purisima and make him assume the prime accountability on the incident. In the process of pinning down Purisima, Napeñas would necessarily have to involve Noynoy since Purisima, who then was serving a suspension order from the Ombudsman, entered in the picture with regard to Oplan Exodus only through none other than the order of Noynoy.

Napeñas apparently is eager to spill more about the incident given the right incentives or if the probers know what buttons to push.

That is not the case, however, with the probe bodies which seemed to all limit themselves to a certain point when it comes to the involvement of Noynoy on the incident. It was also Napeñas who spilled the beans on the presence of obviously American personalities in the command post during the execution of Oplan Exodus, which is another subject that is palpably avoided during the probes.

After more than three months since the massacre in Mamasapano in Maguindanao happened, the incident has not become clearer since the day the news broke on the bloody mission.

The conspiracy in government to hide the truth and to free Noynoy of accountability on the incident has made justice elusive for the slain SAF troopers.


Peace advocates or agitators? Written by Tribune Editorial Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print Be the first to comment!

The attitude displayed by presidential adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles in the House hearing on the Mamasapano incident was not expected of a peace advocate, which is what she claims to be.

Instead of clarifying nagging doubts about the sincerity of the government negotiators in the peace agreement entered into with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is supposedly the product of 17 years of negotiations,

Deles blew her top over a statement of Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat that the negotiators of Noynoy should start speaking in behalf of the government instead of the MILF.

The issue raised was valid since the negotiating panel had always spoken in defense of the MILF and blindly assumed the position, obviously dictated by the rebel group, primarily during the investigations on the Mamasapano debacle.

The question on where Deles and the other negotiators’ sentiment lies was primarily the result of doubts brought about by what has been said regarding the peace process. Deles, for instance, in a recent speech in a commencement exercise at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, equated the current conflict in Mindanao to the Crusades in the Middle Ages when Christians fought Muslims to gain control of Jerusalem or the Holy Land.

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“The first fault line, divide if you will, is ‘them vs us,’ the second is ‘north vs south.’ “Them vs us” bespeaks of a deep-seated dualism cemented by culture and history. It relates to the Crusades in Europe that waged war against the Muslim Moors to reclaim the Holy Land.

When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, Moors would be transmuted into the Moros of the south. Spanish colonial Catholicism then painted Muslims as the “other” — the heathen, the infidel. That this dualism is bred into our psyche resurfaced into light in the wake of Mamasapano:

“Traydor ang Muslim (Muslims are traitors),” “Hindi pwedeng pagkatiwalaan ang Moro (You can’t trust a Moro).”

And the unspoken: “Let the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) pay the price,” she said.

The comparison was misplaced since Filipinos have always thought that which is being sought by the MILF is an autonomous region and not secession which is based on the religious war argument.

The line of reasoning used by Deles was also similar to the one being peddled by the Islamic State (IS) in their quest for a global caliphate. Deles also spoke of a second divide called “north vs south” which she said is equivalent to the divide and conquer rule of the Spanish colonizers who pitted local chieftains against each other, “as in the Battle for Mactan, for which we immortalize the fearless Lapu-Lapu with a fish and a song.”

“The north-south divide has ramified over time, taking root in the most unlikely places, as in Mindanao and Cebu joining forces against an “imperial” Manila at non-government organization assemblies,” she said.

“In the furor ensuing over Mamasapano, we see a difference in the calls coming out of the south and north. Why is it that war’s alarms ring loudest in the safe confines of Congress, for instance?

But close to Ground Zero, the people flee even as they cry out for peace. Other sectors in Mindanao have publicly issued appeals for peace as well: the religious — both Christian and Muslim, business — both big and micro, the academe, civil society.

And rightly so, because Mindanao bears the brunt of the fighting, although the entire country must pay the price of war,” she added. It is hard to reconcile the view of Deles which is that the Muslims were always victims of religious oppression and her supposed role as a peace advocate representing the government.

It was also from chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer where the word misencounter which is, does not even exist in any dictionary was first heard from in relation to the Mamasapano incident.

The negotiators in dealing with the MILF may have absorbed the rebels’ prejudices primarily the wrong ones which seem to now cloud their objectivity in working out a peace agreement in behalf of the government.

Deles’ agitation after being asked about the negotiators’ inclination to protect MILF is a signal that the government needs a fresh team to work for principled peace.


Where’s Easter in the message? Written by Tribune Editorial Monday, 06 April 2015 00:00

The temptation was to let pass Noynoy’s fantastic fables since it was Easter and the message supposedly involves the risen Christ but even Lazarus, if he were a Filipino, would object to Noynoy’s claims.

The premise of his speech which has as sheepskin his supposed Easter message, was that the administration of Noynoy turned around the confidence of Filipinos in their government coming from years of abuse and corruption, he evidently referred to the previous Arroyo administration.

Gloria Arroyo, his predecessor, has been under detention for most of the administration of Noynoy without a single accusation against her being proven, allegations which Noynoy, however, continues to use as his ticket to claim his treading the righteous path.

Many of Noynoy’s supporters and those who are not necessarily Arroyo loyalists are now criticizing that the former President is being kept in jail, either through prolonging the unsubstantiated plunder cases against her or the filing of new non-bailable charges when it seems that previous suits are heading for court dismissal.

The unsubstantiated or even accusations already dismissed in court are, however, still referred to by Noynoy and his alliance in making a contrast of the righteous and the crooked paths.

So Noynoy claimed in his “Easter” message that Filipinos “combined their voices and decided to take the righteous path” which he claimed started the healing process for government institutions.

“The economy was invigorated and the former Sick Man of Asia rose to his feet and became Asia’s Rising Tiger.

The Sick Man of Asia was the term used on the Philippines during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos and not necessarily the state of the economy during the term of Arroyo.

Many of the foundations of reforms being now claimed by Noynoy as part of his righteous path was started during the term of Arroyo.

The financial system strengthened due to the determined free market policy of Arroyo. The only serious market intervention that can be recalled during the term of Arroyo was that on electricity bills in which a price cap was imposed on the Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA) after a massive protest campaign was launched against it.

The residue of the price cap is still a component of the current electricity bills in the deferred charges item.

The PPA, however, was the result of the excesses during the term of former President Fidel Ramos when he indiscriminately signed power contracts that contained the oppressive take or pay clause which guaranteed government payments to independent power producers (IPPs) even when they are not producing even a kilowatt of electricity and are just on standby for possible shortages.

Noynoy also praised the 4Ps or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program which is the dole scheme and the sole anti-poverty program of his administration which is heavily funded through the budget.

Some P65 billion in the 2015 budget went into the stipend program which has dubious claims of success.

The poverty indicators showed that 25 million Filipinos were poor with or without the program the past years extending to the term of Arroyo.

When praising the 4Ps, the claimed success in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) scholarship program won’t be far behind.

The Tesda program which is also lavishly funded is being run by his prime ally Joel Villanueva who is being tipped to have a more prominent post inside Malacañang.

Of course Noynoy would also boast of the successive record peaks of the Philippine Stock Exchange index as if it has any effect, similar to the investment grades from credit rating agencies, on the lives of ordinary Filipinos.

The speech should not even have been labeled an Easter message but the average daily Noynoy escape to a world of fantasy where he slays all the evils afflicting the Filipino people.


New normal is abnormal Written by Tribune Editorial Monday, 13 April 2015 00:00

Malacañang and its online trolls are trying to trivialize the use of aliases by officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) even in the signing of agreements with the government related to the peace process, saying the issue is irrelevant to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) debate.

The Palace has a good reason to go all out in the campaign to make it a petty issue since the use of an alias may invalidate the whole peace process involving the Muslim rebels from the start, after the admission of MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal or whatever his name is that he has been using an alias in dealing with government. Legislators, however, are convinced that the issue is serious enough to cause a major hindrance to the BBL as it is significant to the sincerity of the MILF that was put into question after the Mamasapano incident.

The Palace would have to admit that it knows Iqbal was using a false name in the hope that it would take the heat off the MILF negotiators but in the process it makes itself complicit to the apparent forgery of the peace documents with the use of the aliases.

The law prohibits the use of false names in the signing of official documents and what would be more official than the peace agreement which according to the government’s chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer is the product of 17 years of negotiations.

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The law barring the use of aliases is even based on common sense since who would accede to sealing a contract with a person who does not want to sign with the name he was born with or one with which he is legally recognized.

It was pointed out in a House hearing on the Mamasapano incident that Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Alias Law under Commonwealth Act 142 as amended by Republic Act 6085 prohibit persons from using pseudonyms in any public transaction or public document.

The excuse is that Mohagher Iqbal is a nom de guerre and is normal among members of rebel organizations such as the MILF. The trouble with that excuse is that there are several actions that rebel organizations consider normal but are against the law such as maintaining territories within the country which even the police force needs to seek permission to enter or justifying the killing of police officers out to arrest a terrorist to an existing war situation.

The Palace and its trolls said that the critics of the BBL or what Noynoy would call the enemies of peace are using the Igbal being an alias issue to sidetrack the deliberations on the BBL. Sen. Bongbong Marcos, however, said that Iqbal’s use of a pseudonym strike right at the heart of the sincerity questions on the MILF, particularly after the Mamasapano incident where its members were implicated in the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

All of those things the administration of Noynoy considers as normal in the MILF. Other Filipinos, however, would be put behind bars if not six feet under for committing these crimes under the law.

The creation of the Bangsamoro goes through the same process of giving special treatment to the MILF, particularly in the sharing of power and wealth with the national government.

Under the BBL, the substate of the MILF will get more in terms of government financing and chunks from regional revenues than other provinces.

There are other cases of “normal” in the BBL but which can only be found in the Bangsamoro similar to Iqbal and other MILF officials having a perfectly admissible use of aliases in situations for which other Filipinos will be criminally liable.

Iqbal personalizes the new normal in the Palace which is otherwise abnormal within the law.


The lameduck factor Written by Tribune Editorial Sunday, 12 April 2015 00:00 f

The confluence of an oncoming election and the growing public doubts on the true intention of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in their pursuit of a Bangsamoro substate certainly do not go well with the push for the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite an aggressive push from the Palace.

The mood in Congress is now to hear more the voters rather than the Palace to collect political brownies in the runup to the polls and the sentiment is against the creation of the Bangsamoro substate. The creation of the Citizens Council composed of some prominent names in the business, religious and academic fields will have little effect on the sentiment generated by the Jan. 25 incident in which Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels willfully slaughtered 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in relation to the mission that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Noynoy and his allies had designated June 12 as target date for the approval of the BBL which they thought would be symbolic since they claim the law will liberate the country from years of uncertainty due to the on and off armed strife in Mindanao. The BBL indeed will open the gates for economic opportunities in Mindanao since the volatile situation in some provinces affect the whole island and to a large extent the whole country.

The mining industry which has the greatest potential in Mindanao, for instance, is estimated to be at least $1 trillion in contribution to the economy when fully developed. Noynoy’s interest, however, is leaving a legacy when he steps down next year or a place in the annals of history for forging a lasting peace. His desire to obtain a Bangsamoro substate before the end of his term becomes more urgent after the Mamasapano incident.

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The debacle in Oplan Exodus placed blood in the hands of Noynoy and he admitted himself in speeches that the incident will haunt him until the end of his life. More than his conscience, what troubles Noynoy is that the incident defines his presidency which even without the massacre has been fraught with instances of incompetence and indecisions.

The signing of the BBL thus would be similar to the government’s rationale for the outcome of Oplan Exodus which was that the mission was a success but at a great cost.

Noynoy can claim the carving up of sovereignty to grant the MILF its own substate would be the price of enduring peace in Mindanao and which would be his crowning glory in his six years in office.

Based on the latest opinion surveys, however, Noynoy has greatly lost ascendancy on public sentiment with his ratings at unprecedented lows.

The only possible way for the BBL to pass now is again through bribery such as the promise of material support for the campaigns to each of the members of Congress voting for the measure. Still, the legislators will have to think of the consequence of going against popular will in voting on the BBL.

The need for a plebiscite that would likely be held along with the scheduled elections next year if the bill passes would tie down those who voted for its passage to the Palace position in campaigning for the vote on the BBL.

With the public sentiment as shown in the surveys to be strongly against the bill, the price for those who side with Malacañang might be too costly for many in political terms.

A vote in favor of the BBL would be like gambling a politician’s future interests to give Noynoy an improved image in Philippine history books.

The bottomline is who would cast his lot on a now political lameduck?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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