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

FROM MANILA TIMES

EDITORIAL: THE ILO REPORT ON PH JOBS WAS NOT A COMPLIMENT.
[The ILO report was fair, and it was very clear: While what the government has done so far has not been without value, it has been far less than what is needed, and will be even more inadequate in the years to come. Baldoz and her superiors in Malacanang should divert the energy they expend on self-praise to understanding and following the recommendations of the ILO report.]


MAKATI CENTER  LAST Tuesday, the Philippines country office of the International Labor Organization (ILO) released its annual report on trends in the country’s labor sector, which to the surprise of almost no one was politely critical of the unspectacular efforts of the Aquino Administration to reduce the Philippines’ chronic unemployment, low wages and uncertain environment for job seekers.
The ILO report, entitled “Philippine Employment Trends 2015,” acknowledges that the Philippines’ robust economic growth in the past few years has contributed to reducing poverty among workers to 21.9 percent (as of the end of 2012), a gain the report describes as “modest,” and increasing the total number of employed persons to 38.1 million as of the end of 2013. The report also acknowledges some moderate gains in other areas, such as slight reductions in the number of workers in “vulnerable” employment and the number of youths not in education and not in employment (NEET). But, it adds somewhat ominously, “Poor quality jobs with limited earnings slow progress in reducing working poverty.”  And the implications of the statistics presented by the report to support its conclusions are that without significant improvement in job creation – both in terms of quantity and quality – the Philippines’ labor situation will get worse before it gets better. “Between 2015 and 2030, the labor force is forecast to increase by 14.9 million, implying the need for nearly 1 million new jobs each year merely to keep pace and maintain current unemployment levels,” the report said. It projects the Philippines’ working-age population (15 years and above) to reach more than 70 million, and this number will rise to nearly 78 million within five years. By 2035, the working-age population is expected to top 100 million, despite a forecast that the youngest group, those ages 15 to 24, will decrease slightly. READ MORE...

ALSO by Efren Danao: Could the PH be a David against the Chinese Goliath?


By Efren Danao  CHINA is a bully in the contested West Philippine Sea. Could it be tamed by a small country like the Philippines?  China’s massive reclamation work in the WPS it justifies as an exercise of sovereignty shows that it’s obeying only what it considers its national interest and no friends can stop it, especially a puny country like the Philippines. What was that joke again that if all Chinese would pee at the same time, the Philippines would be flooded?  Understandably, the Armed Forces of the Philippines believes this reclamation work constitutes a “clear and present danger” in the WPS, as China could restrict passage thru the contested waters once it completes its reclamation project. (President BS Aquino The Last doesn’t see the situation as that critical for he has refused to convene the National Security Council to tackle this powder keg of an issue.) This fear was heightened last week when China’s Coast Guard used water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen from the area. Friendship was far from the mind of one Chinese leader who had the gall to ask the Philippines “to educate its fishermen about Chinese territory.” In the past, numerous Chinese fishermen were caught poaching in Philippine waters and our officials never said anything as insulting as this. Lt. Gen. Antonio Sotelo (ret.), former AFP vice chief of staff, says that the Philippines should stop preparing the Navy and Air Force for conventional war by procuring weapons like warplanes, warships and radars. “We may multiply the ships, planes and radars by tens and we will not even dent the balance of power with China. By any measure, we can’t match China’s in conventional fire power. We should be more practical rather than be carried away in pursuit of a macho image,” he said. How then should the Philippines face the bullying tactics of China? “Follow the example set by Vietnam,” Sotelo proposes. READ  MORE...

ALSO Human Traficking in PH: The testimony before US congress [The efforts of the US State Department are lauded but reform of the police and judiciary in the Philippines is of utmost importance. Local governments that issue permits and licenses to sex bars that take in trafficked persons must be restrained, and sex trafficking must be greatly reduced. Children trafficked must have greater protection, shelter, and assistance. Suspects must be prosecuted in a robust mannerwith integrity.”]


by FR. SHAY CULLEN 
LAST April 22 I appeared before U.S. Congress as a witness to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations at the Subcommittee’s Hearing: Accountability and Transformation – Tier Rankings in the Fight Against Human Trafficking. This was by special invitation of the US congressional committee whose members are highly influential in the House, and they were instrumental in getting the latest anti-trafficking law passed by the US Congress on the same day, the 22nd of April. This is a law that brings help and relief to victims of human trafficking within the United States, among other provisions. The Philippines is being considered whether it remains on the Tier II ranking of the US State Department index of states complying with the international standards in preventing and fighting human trafficking. Sex tourism is growing and this is directly linked to human trafficking as the girls and minors are recruited from the villages, mostly in Samar and Leyte, to supply the sexual gratification of the foreign sex tourists for a few dirty dollars. Below are the texts of most of my presentation to the congressional committee. “Today, I will share with you my personal experience working to address the widespread situation of Human Trafficking in the Philippines. My remarks will focus on Human Trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and the exploitation of innocent and blameless street children for begging and drug deliveries for criminal gangs. Many but not all of the child-victims of trafficking for begging, prostitution or for being drug couriers are frequently confined in jail-like conditions instead of being helped as victims. Some are as young as 8 to 12 years old. ……………. The growth of human trafficking is linked to the use of the Internet for promoting sex tourism and for transmitting images of child pornography made in the Philippines as described. READ MORE...

ALSO False polls: Uncle’s survey boosts Poe’s ratings


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO
I’m not sure Senator Grace Poe had anything to do with it, principled as she seems to be. But the recent “best-leaders” poll by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) headed by her uncle, Mahar Kelley Mangahas, who is the first cousin of her dad, the late Fernando Kelly Poe Jr., appears to me as another one of the many SWS episodes that depict a “trend” showing a political figure becoming a formidable candidate for the presidency. SWS on April 15 released results of its latest survey done about a month ago, which asked respondents who they thought were “the best leaders (“magagaling”) to succeed President Aquino” after the end of his term in 2016. Very cunningly, the SWS didn’t ask who they would vote for as president. Any social scientist would tell you that opinion polls are mostly accurate and useful in voter-preference surveying as the respondent is asked to report an intention, a future action, rather than a whim or a passing thought. However, to pretend that its poll was one that asked its respondent about their voting preference for the president, SWS prefaced its question with the following statement: “According to the Constitution, the term of Pres. Noynoy Aquino is up to 2016 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2016.”  But the SWS poll is patently not a voter-preference survey in which a respondent chooses only one candidate. This emulates the actual election in which a voter choosing more than one candidate automatically invalidates his ballot. READ MORE...

ALSO: Can we still hold clean and honest elections?


by FRANCISCO S. TATAD
This, rather than who should be running for President or Vice President, is the real question before us now. Is a clean and honest (and hopefully intelligent) Philippine election still possible? What can we do, and what should we do, to make it happen? Is the idea of a clean and honest election compatible with the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine? Since the Supreme Court voided the Commission on Elections’ P269-million contract with Smartmatic for the repair of 82,000 PCOS machines to be used in 2016, some of us seem to believe that our battle against the PCOS machine is over, and that we are but a few steps away from holding a non-farcical election. This feeling is understandable, but it seems entirely wishful. The Court decision ended a “midnight contract” which probably meant fat commissions for some Comelec officials or former officials; but in what way has it advanced the cause of clean and honest elections? This is what we must examine. We cannot do away with the old PCOS units without doing away with automated voting. Without the voting machines, we would be forced to revert to manual voting, which may not be easy to do at all. It would mean repealing the automated voting law, which has developed its own constituency among our mostly transactional politicians. Should we fail to change the law, we cannot go manual even if it were the only remaining option. We will have to make do with the 23,000 new PCOS units which the Comelec is leasing from Smartmatic now. This would mean an overload of several thousand voters per PCOS machine. The technical complications are unimaginable. They could lead to a possible failure of elections, which some Aquino supporters could exploit to argue in favor of extending his “term.”  READ MORE...

ALSO Peace council: last gasp of a lame-duck presidency
[At the first meeting of the peace council in Makati last April 6, Justice Davide declared: “The hard work begins after BBL is passed.”  He is mistaken. The hard work of the council has already begun].


by YEN MAKABENTA
This could be President Aquino at his weirdest. Throughout his five years in office, his excellency has adamantly refused to convene the National Security Council (NSC) and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) – two councils that are part of our governing traditions and were created by legislation and executive order to help the president in decision-making and administration. Neither body has convened even once under Aquino’s watch. But, from out of the blue, as if wakened by divine revelation, he announced on March 27 the creation of a new peace council, which he has tasked with persuading Congress and our people to support and hasten the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). In a flash, we have not just one, but an army of convenors. Aquino does not like the councils that are engraved in decades of Filipino constitutional practice. He will only accept councils that he himself creates and begets as father of the nation. No doubt encouraged by advisers who fancy themselves as strategic thinkers (like the now departed Ricky Carandang), Aquino sees the ad hoc council as a formula for addressing grave problems of national life. It is a balm for wounds. It can be used as a shock absorber. Councils to assist the president It would be an unforgivable hyperbole to describe the NSC and the LEDAC as venerable institutions. But they exist by law and executive construction. And they were explicitly designed to assist the Philippine president in decision-making and administration. Until BS Aquino came along, every president of the republic found much value in their usefulness in the making of policy. They did not doubt whether council members possessed “the wisdom and integrity” that Aquino considers essential for anyone to sit in an advisory council to the president. The National Security Council is the principal advisory body to assist in the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security. READ MORE...16 READERS' RESPONSES...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL: The ILO report on PH jobs was not a compliment


THE REPORT: Philippine Employment Trends 2015: Decent jobs crucial for inclusive growth A new report published by the ILO shows that the Philippine economy experienced robust rates of growth and made important gains in the labour market in recent years, however, more focus on decent and productive jobs is necessary to foster inclusive growth. News | Manila, Philippines | 22 April 2015

MANILA, APRIL 27, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) LAST Tuesday, the Philippines country office of the International Labor Organization (ILO) released its annual report on trends in the country’s labor sector, which to the surprise of almost no one was politely critical of the unspectacular efforts of the Aquino Administration to reduce the Philippines’ chronic unemployment, low wages and uncertain environment for job seekers.

The ILO report, entitled “Philippine Employment Trends 2015,” acknowledges that the Philippines’ robust economic growth in the past few years has contributed to reducing poverty among workers to 21.9 percent (as of the end of 2012), a gain the report describes as “modest,” and increasing the total number of employed persons to 38.1 million as of the end of 2013.

The report also acknowledges some moderate gains in other areas, such as slight reductions in the number of workers in “vulnerable” employment and the number of youths not in education and not in employment (NEET). But, it adds somewhat ominously, “Poor quality jobs with limited earnings slow progress in reducing working poverty.”

And the implications of the statistics presented by the report to support its conclusions are that without significant improvement in job creation – both in terms of quantity and quality – the Philippines’ labor situation will get worse before it gets better.

“Between 2015 and 2030, the labor force is forecast to increase by 14.9 million, implying the need for nearly 1 million new jobs each year merely to keep pace and maintain current unemployment levels,” the report said. It projects the Philippines’ working-age population (15 years and above) to reach more than 70 million, and this number will rise to nearly 78 million within five years. By 2035, the working-age population is expected to top 100 million, despite a forecast that the youngest group, those ages 15 to 24, will decrease slightly.

READ MORE...
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, however, saw nothing but praise in the ILO’s assessment. In an official statement she said, “The report, in particular, shows that employment has expanded by more than 4 million, or 11.8 percent, over a five-year period, 2008-2013, despite the many challenges that the country has had to face through these years.”

“I believe that President Benigno S. Aquino III’s labor and employment agenda, which the DOLE has translated into meaningful and substantive reforms that we have been implementing in earnest, is to be credited for this positive development,” she added.

What she did not add, of course, is that the level of job creation in the Philippines over that time period did not quite reach the 1 million new jobs per year threshold identified by the ILO, and that of the five-year time period under study, only two-and-a-half years’ worth of indicators could be attributed to Aquino’s term in office.

Baldoz also chose to positively spin another distressing statistic: In the six years between 2006 and 2012, the percentage of workers in poverty decreased just one percent, from 22.9 percent to 21.9 percent. “We hope to see the positive trends continue,” Baldoz said.

The trend is anything but positive; while the percentage declined slightly, the labor force increased by about five million in that time period, meaning that roughly 800,000 more workers were considered “working poor” in 2012 than six years earlier. Given the continuing expansion of the working-age population, that number may very well be approaching a million by now.

That is not progress by any sane definition.

The ILO report was fair, and it was very clear: While what the government has done so far has not been without value, it has been far less than what is needed, and will be even more inadequate in the years to come. Baldoz and her superiors in Malacanang should divert the energy they expend on self-praise to understanding and following the recommendations of the ILO report.


Could the PH be a David against the Chinese Goliath? April 25, 2015 12:52 am EFREN L. DANAO


by EFREN L. DANAO

CHINA is a bully in the contested West Philippine Sea. Could it be tamed by a small country like the Philippines?

China’s massive reclamation work in the WPS it justifies as an exercise of sovereignty shows that it’s obeying only what it considers its national interest and no friends can stop it, especially a puny country like the Philippines. What was that joke again that if all Chinese would pee at the same time, the Philippines would be flooded?

Understandably, the Armed Forces of the Philippines believes this reclamation work constitutes a “clear and present danger” in the WPS, as China could restrict passage thru the contested waters once it completes its reclamation project. (President BS Aquino The Last doesn’t see the situation as that critical for he has refused to convene the National Security Council to tackle this powder keg of an issue.) This fear was heightened last week when China’s Coast Guard used water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen from the area.

Friendship was far from the mind of one Chinese leader who had the gall to ask the Philippines “to educate its fishermen about Chinese territory.” In the past, numerous Chinese fishermen were caught poaching in Philippine waters and our officials never said anything as insulting as this.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Sotelo (ret.), former AFP vice chief of staff, says that the Philippines should stop preparing the Navy and Air Force for conventional war by procuring weapons like warplanes, warships and radars.

“We may multiply the ships, planes and radars by tens and we will not even dent the balance of power with China. By any measure, we can’t match China’s in conventional fire power. We should be more practical rather than be carried away in pursuit of a macho image,” he said. How then should the Philippines face the bullying tactics of China? “Follow the example set by Vietnam,” Sotelo proposes.

READ MORE...
China and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the Paracels and Vietnam is not backing off. Here’s how Vietnam is addressing the conflict with China, according to Sotelo, whose defection from Marcos was the turning point in EDSA 1.

“Without fanfare, Vietnam is developing its armed forces based on submarines and small boats. In contrast, we are developing our defense capability based on surface ships, fighter planes and radars,” he noted. He sees the wisdom and logic in Vietnam’s military scheme.

“Submarines could be deployed undetected in ambush positions across the vast expanse of the sea, thereby sowing apprehension to the adversary. Small boats could sward the enemy, fire missiles or torpedoes, then withdraw to their sanctuary. Surely, they are vulnerable but one of the many may get through to its target,” he explained.

He cited examples in history where the weak won over the strong by employing unconventional warfare.

“The Bible tells us how shepherd David killed the warrior Goliath with a sling shot. In recent history, there was Vietnam winning against the United States. Today, Al Qaeda is fighting the United States without a navy, air force or a standing party. One thing we must remember is that the sophistication of the strong is its own vulnerability,” Sotelo said.

He favors the granting of basing facilities to the forces of Philippine allies who have interests in the area and who are capable of standing up to China’s growing naval capability. I don’t think this is feasible, as it needs an amendment of the Constitution. There are many, however, who are saying the Philippines now needs American and Japanese assistance and are regretting that the Philippine Senate terminated the bases treaty with the US.

I hope our military strategists and defense officials would seriously consider his proposals, except that of providing basing facilities for foreign troops.

Oh yes, he added that aside from its proven effectiveness against stronger opponents, unconventional warfare also entails smaller expense. When I heard this addendum, I began to entertain doubts that his proposal would ever see the light of day. Our AFP modernization program almost always entails the purchase of the more expensive weapons, ships, radars and planes. And more often than not, they’re not only overpriced but also virtually useless in actual combat.


The testimony before US congress April 25, 2015 11:34 pm Fr. Shay Cullen


by FR. SHAY CULLEN

LAST April 22 I appeared before U.S. Congress as a witness to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations at the Subcommittee’s Hearing: Accountability and Transformation – Tier Rankings in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.

This was by special invitation of the US congressional committee whose members are highly influential in the House, and they were instrumental in getting the latest anti-trafficking law passed by the US Congress on the same day, the 22nd of April. This is a law that brings help and relief to victims of human trafficking within the United States, among other provisions.

The Philippines is being considered whether it remains on the Tier II ranking of the US State Department index of states complying with the international standards in preventing and fighting human trafficking.

Sex tourism is growing and this is directly linked to human trafficking as the girls and minors are recruited from the villages, mostly in Samar and Leyte, to supply the sexual gratification of the foreign sex tourists for a few dirty dollars. Below are the texts of most of my presentation to the congressional committee.

“Today, I will share with you my personal experience working to address the widespread situation of Human Trafficking in the Philippines. My remarks will focus on Human Trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and the exploitation of innocent and blameless street children for begging and drug deliveries for criminal gangs. Many but not all of the child-victims of trafficking for begging, prostitution or for being drug couriers are frequently confined in jail-like conditions instead of being helped as victims. Some are as young as 8 to 12 years old. …………….

The growth of human trafficking is linked to the use of the Internet for promoting sex tourism and for transmitting images of child pornography made in the Philippines as described.

READ MORE...
Some victims of human trafficking are subjected to several human rights violations and even forced abortion, although these are difficult to prove for the lack of medical or forensic evidence since it is done illegally and secretly but revealed by the rescued victims in therapy and in their oral narratives.

The anti-child pornography law mandates the Internet server providers (ISP) to filter and prevent such illegal images and content.

The Internet is widely used for transmitting live sex acts using children despite the anti-cyber-sex laws. The telephone companies, which have US nationals among their top 100 shareholders, are violating the law by not having these filters in place as demanded by the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 otherwise known as RA 9775. They have seemingly placed themselves above the law and it is possible they get away with it with some collusion with Philippine government officials. The Philippine National telecommunications commission is responsible for the implementation of the regulations. In addition to the anti-child pornography law, they are also allegedly violating with impunity the Public Telecommunications Policy Act of 1995 or RA 7925 and Executive Order No. 546 issued in 1979……………

While indeed there is strong political commitment by President Benigno Aquino and especially Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, and the office of the Ombudsman to fight corruption with some notable success and much effort to address the widespread human trafficking, unfortunately the implementation of this by police and prosecutors results in a very low arrest and conviction rate. In 15 years, only 150 convictions were achieved. This places the Philippines on Tier II of the TIP report.

There is corruption by some of the prosecution and judiciary. Besides the slow pace of the judicial process, the lowering of charges of human trafficking to child abuse allows many foreign suspects of trafficking to escape………………………

While the Philippine government is striving to address the problem of human trafficking and improve the record of convictions, much remains to be done.

The efforts of the US State Department are lauded but reform of the police and judiciary in the Philippines is of utmost importance. Local governments that issue permits and licenses to sex bars that take in trafficked persons must be restrained, and sex trafficking must be greatly reduced. Children trafficked must have greater protection, shelter, and assistance. Suspects must be prosecuted in a robust mannerwith integrity.”

shaycullen@gmail.com  www.preda.org


False polls: Uncle’s survey boosts Poe’s ratings April 26, 2015 10:01 pm RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

I’m not sure Senator Grace Poe had anything to do with it, principled as she seems to be.

But the recent “best-leaders” poll by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) headed by her uncle, Mahar Kelley Mangahas, who is the first cousin of her dad, the late Fernando Kelly Poe Jr., appears to me as another one of the many SWS episodes that depict a “trend” showing a political figure becoming a formidable candidate for the presidency.

SWS on April 15 released results of its latest survey done about a month ago, which asked respondents who they thought were “the best leaders (“magagaling”) to succeed President Aquino” after the end of his term in 2016.

Very cunningly, the SWS didn’t ask who they would vote for as president. Any social scientist would tell you that opinion polls are mostly accurate and useful in voter-preference surveying as the respondent is asked to report an intention, a future action, rather than a whim or a passing thought.

However, to pretend that its poll was one that asked its respondent about their voting preference for the president, SWS prefaced its question with the following statement: “According to the Constitution, the term of Pres. Noynoy Aquino is up to 2016 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2016.”

But the SWS poll is patently not a voter-preference survey in which a respondent chooses only one candidate. This emulates the actual election in which a voter choosing more than one candidate automatically invalidates his ballot.

READ MORE...
In contrast, in the SWS “best-leaders” poll, a respondent is allowed to pick three “best leaders” to succeed Aquino. “Maari po kayong magbanggit ng hanggang tatlong sagot, [You may mention up to three names]” according to the survey questionnaire.

It’s a clever trick for exaggerating a candidate’s chances in a presidential contest: A poll for fools.

Polls or propaganda tools?:

SWS “best-leaders” surveys, recent and past Polls or propaganda tools?: SWS “best-leaders” surveys, recent and past

While it is not a voter-preference survey, as if on cue, the Philippine Daily Inquirer — and most media outlets — reported it as such a poll for the presidency, and had it as its banner story: “Poe cuts down Binay lead,” with its lead paragraph reading: “As she closed in on Vice President Jejomar Binay as the voter’s choice for the next President of the Philippines, Sen. Grace Poe said she was inspired by the people’s approval of their work.” Obviously, this was SWS’s intention for its “best-leaders” survey, to fool the media.

However, since the SWS poll wasn’t a voter-preference poll, which would require only one choice from the respondents, it can’t be used to compare the percentage of those who preferred Binay against those who preferred Poe, simply because a respondent was asked to give three choices as the “best leader to succeed Aquino.”

This is because a respondent in that kind of SWS poll could choose both Binay and Poe, and even a third choice as his choice as among the best successors of Aquino.

To illustrate this, if you ask tech-savvy respondents to name the three best computer operating systems, the percentages would probably be 40 percent Windows and 40 percent Mac OS X and 10 percent others. But if you ask them what operating system they will buy, the results (according to a Philippine poll) would be 92 percent Windows and only 4 percent OS X.

Mamasapano hearings

Cleverly in the case of the SWS “best-leaders” poll, the survey was undertaken at the height of the Mamasapano hearings, which Poe chaired to consequently boost her name-recall so more people remembered to put her in their list. So, Poe was named in the recent SWS poll by 31 percent of the respondents, up from 21 percent in December. Does that mean, she is, as two broadsheets reported the poll, “closing in on Binay?”

Certainly not. Because some of the 31 percent of respondents who put Poe among the “best-leaders” list had at the same time also picked Binay – or Mar Roxas, or Rodolfo Duterte or a third leader.

How many? We can’t say from the polls’ design. None or even all of Poe’s 31 percent theoretically also picked Binay. The only way to find out is to undertake an honest-to-goodness voter-preference survey, not the hogwash of a poll the SWS did, with the question: “Who will you vote for President, and you may, as the actual balloting will require, pick only one. “

I’d like to give Mr. Mangahas the benefit of the doubt that he is just doing his pollsters job. But I find it difficult to do so when a few days after he released the SWS’s garbage “best-successors” poll, Mangahas disclosed the results of an authentic voter-preference poll, but only for the vice-presidency.

The SWS says the two polls were both undertaken on March 20-23. Most likely, both were undertaken in the same “run,” that is, the two questions were asked by the same pollster in one interview of the same person.

So why didn’t SWS undertake a presidential voter-preference survey (“Who would you vote for as President in 2016,” but instead, only a vice-presidential one, and a best-leaders poll?

The answer is so obvious. Poe would get a high rating, such as 31 percent in the “best-leaders” poll, especially after the Mamasapano hearings, which would, anyway, be interpreted by the gullible media as a presidential poll. And with an authentic voter-preference poll for the vice-presidency released right after, media — and the people – will think that the “best-leaders” poll had the same reliable design as the vice-presidential poll.

In a real presidential-preference poll, in which a respondent would have to pick Poe to the exclusion of Binay, Mar and other candidates, she’d get much less than that.

One indication of this is that in the last (March 1-7) presidential-preference poll undertaken by Pulse Asia on who respondents would vote for as president, Binay got 29 percent while Poe received 14 percent. In a two- or three-cornered fight, I would bet – from past elections and polls – Poe would get much lower ratings.

So wrong

Except for the top-rated choice, SWS’ “best-leaders” polls have been so wrong in predicting the outcome of presidential elections. In the last SWS “best-leaders” poll before the May 2010 elections, Aquino obtained a 59 percent rating, 17 percentage points higher than the actual 42 percent he got in the elections. The runner-up, though, Joseph Estrada, who got 26 percent of the votes, was ranked only fourth in the “best-leaders” poll, with 18 percent.

So clever is Mangahas’ best-leaders poll, don’t you think? And so useful, as contributors use such polls to hedge their bets at this early stage. I suspect the SWS polls have opened the spigot of campaign financing a bit for Poe from the more gullible financiers.

Pollsters in other nations have been ethical not to employ such a “trending” device. I have yet to find a pollster anywhere in the world — and even here — who does what Mangahas has been doing with his “best-leaders” false polls.

In fact, if you’re one among probably millions of Filipinos now regretting why on earth they voted for Aquino in 2010, you can put part of the blame on the SWS “best-leaders” poll.

Hardly had the mourning period for Corazon Aquino, who died Aug 1, 2009, ended, when the SWS used its “best-leaders” tool to portray Aquino as the next president.

Its “best-leaders’ poll undertaken Sept 18-20 that year reported that 60 percent of Filipinos picked Aquino as Arroyo’s successor from nearly nothing (0.4 percent) before his mother died. It was a rating that suddenly deflated the front-runner Manuel Villar’s standing and likely created a bandwagon effect. That, of course, had donations suddenly flowing to Aquino, helping create a “trending” to elect somebody who would be the most incompetent Philippine president ever.

SWS’s earlier king- (and queen-) maker attempts, however, have not always been successful:

Loren Legarda got a high 44 percent in the SWS September 2007 “best-leaders” poll. Her ratings in that poll would fall to 3 percent by November 2009 and lower to 1 percent in the latest. Is Poe the new, improved Loren?

Noli de Castro got 35 percent in March 2008 (higher than Poe’s latest 31 percent). His ratings fell to 3 percent by November 2009.

Francis Escudero ratings had seemed to be on the way up, rising from 13 percent in 2007 to 23 percent by February 2009. It’s at 8 percent in the latest “best-leaders” poll.

This SWS kind of polls bolsters my view, which I have explained in past several columns, that in this country, opinion polls have been degraded into a political weapon and a propaganda tool. Only a few backward countries, in fact, report voter-preference polls on the front pages. Here it is routinely done and even brandished with screaming banner headlines.

The politicking season in our country is a time when pollsters make their millions, but we have to be critical of those since they could subvert democracy. What is a scientific tool in civilized countries has been debased in our country as a tool for propagating an irrational name-recall system for determining who would lead the nation next.


Can we still hold clean and honest elections? April 26, 2015 10:01 pm FRANCISCO S. TATAD


by FRANCISCO S. TATAD

This, rather than who should be running for President or Vice President, is the real question before us now. Is a clean and honest (and hopefully intelligent) Philippine election still possible? What can we do, and what should we do, to make it happen? Is the idea of a clean and honest election compatible with the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine?

Since the Supreme Court voided the Commission on Elections’ P269-million contract with Smartmatic for the repair of 82,000 PCOS machines to be used in 2016, some of us seem to believe that our battle against the PCOS machine is over, and that we are but a few steps away from holding a non-farcical election.

This feeling is understandable, but it seems entirely wishful. The Court decision ended a “midnight contract” which probably meant fat commissions for some Comelec officials or former officials; but in what way has it advanced the cause of clean and honest elections? This is what we must examine.

We cannot do away with the old PCOS units without doing away with automated voting. Without the voting machines, we would be forced to revert to manual voting, which may not be easy to do at all. It would mean repealing the automated voting law, which has developed its own constituency among our mostly transactional politicians. Should we fail to change the law, we cannot go manual even if it were the only remaining option. We will have to make do with the 23,000 new PCOS units which the Comelec is leasing from Smartmatic now.

This would mean an overload of several thousand voters per PCOS machine. The technical complications are unimaginable. They could lead to a possible failure of elections, which some Aquino supporters could exploit to argue in favor of extending his “term.”

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The PCOS machine is not our only problem. But our discussion must begin here because of its critical role in any automated election. The corruption of the PCOS machine has rendered completely questionable not only the validity of the last two elections, but also the use of the PCOS in any future election.

Under Chairman Jose Melo, the Comelec removed all of the PICOS machines’ security and safety features and accuracy mechanisms, in violation of law and without regard of public opinion. In 2010, this produced the de facto presidency of B. S. Aquino 3rd. In 2013, this produced the “60-30-10” senatorial slate led by the hitherto unheralded Grace Poe. In 2016, unless corrected, it could produce another de facto president.

Deleted from legal existence were the mandatory review of the source code, which contains all the operational instructions to the PCOS machine; the ultra violet scan of every ballot paper to be used by every voter; the voter verification mechanism, which allows the voter to see that the machine is reading and recording his vote right; the digital signature on every report coming out of the machine, certifying its origin, timelines, and authenticity of its content; the certification by an independent authority of the perfect condition of the machines before they were used; and the random audit of the machines once they were operational.

The Court ruling does not discuss the legal castration of the PCOS machine. But until the Court requires the Comelec and Smartmatic to restore all the security features and accuracy mechanisms that had been taken away from the machine, we cannot begin to talk of a clean and honest automated voting. This point is important because while the Court nullified the defective repair contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic, it did not ban the infected machines from the next elections.

Nothing prevents the parties from entering into a new contract that is free from the legal defects of their nullified agreement. In fact, the Court did not say anything about the 23,000 new PCOS units the Comelec is leasing from its favored supplier.

This means that if the failed contract were properly rebidded, in accordance with the national procurement law, the 82,000 old PCOS machines could still be repaired and used in 2016, even without restoring the features that had been illegally removed in 2010 and 2013. So the PCOS machine would be back in action, while remaining the dirty word it had become in the last two elections.

It is therefore absolutely necessary that if a new repair and maintenance contract were to be drawn up between Comelec and Smartmatic, the word “repair” should be understood to mean restoring all the necessary features that had been illegally removed by the Comelec.

Together with this, our judicial system should be able to support our campaign for clean and honest elections by acting with reasonable dispatch on the various petitions and complaints that have been filed against those who have committed serious electoral offenses since 2010. These include those filed with the Ombudsman against Comelec officials responsible for disfiguring the PCOS machine, and those filed with the Supreme Court seeking the nullification of the results of the 2010 presidential elections.

The first set of complaints appears to have slept the sleep of death at the Office of the Ombudsman, while the petition before the Supreme Court against the 2010 presidential election, according to petitioners Homobono Adaza and Herman Tiu Laurel, has been “given due course,” but has not really moved at all. The entire government needs to get involved in this enterprise; but where the government is indifferent or antagonistic, the people must weigh in. For this involves the highest national interest.

The life of our democracy is a life-and-death issue for every patriot. And we must all be prepared to be patriots. As such our first duty is to stay focused, especially when others seem to be more occupied with what is superficial and meaningless than with what is truly meaningful and substantive, with ideas that could help us find a way out of the prevailing darkness. Nothing illustrates this better than what we read daily in the media about non-entities who seem to be completely preoccupied with their ambition to become president.

I cannot seem to understand why despite the sincere effort of the National Transformation Council to point out that our constitutional order is broken, and needs to be fixed first before we should start talking about people who should be running for the highest office, the most ambitious of them would not risk saying that they too would like to help fix the system before talking of their interest in any office. Even more distressing is the tendency of some people to name some senators as possible materials for the highest office.

It is simply the wrong place from which to draw any material for president or even vice-president. Why? Because it is an institution that has completely destroyed itself. In the presidential bribery that took place during the impeachment trial of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, 19 of the 20 senators who had voted to convict Corona received a bribe of P50 million to P100 million. This was so many times more than what Judas got when he sold his Master to his enemies. At least 16 of those senators remain seated in the Senate. The newcomers are not among those who had taken a bribe, but they were also part of those who were benefitted by the 2013 Hocus PCOS that gave us the 60-30-10 winning senatorial slate.

We need to see that our reigning emperors are naked.


Peace council: last gasp of a lame-duck presidency April 25, 2015 12:58 am YEN MAKABENTA


by YEN MAKABENTA

This could be President Aquino at his weirdest. Throughout his five years in office, his excellency has adamantly refused to convene the National Security Council (NSC) and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) – two councils that are part of our governing traditions and were created by legislation and executive order to help the president in decision-making and administration. Neither body has convened even once under Aquino’s watch.

But, from out of the blue, as if wakened by divine revelation, he announced on March 27 the creation of a new peace council, which he has tasked with persuading Congress and our people to support and hasten the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a flash, we have not just one, but an army of convenors. Aquino does not like the councils that are engraved in decades of Filipino constitutional practice. He will only accept councils that he himself creates and begets as father of the nation.

No doubt encouraged by advisers who fancy themselves as strategic thinkers (like the now departed Ricky Carandang), Aquino sees the ad hoc council as a formula for addressing grave problems of national life. It is a balm for wounds. It can be used as a shock absorber.

Councils to assist the president

It would be an unforgivable hyperbole to describe the NSC and the LEDAC as venerable institutions. But they exist by law and executive construction.

And they were explicitly designed to assist the Philippine president in decision-making and administration.

Until BS Aquino came along, every president of the republic found much value in their usefulness in the making of policy. They did not doubt whether council members possessed “the wisdom and integrity” that Aquino considers essential for anyone to sit in an advisory council to the president.

The National Security Council is the principal advisory body to assist in the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security.

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In the US, the national security council has a much broader charge of coordinating national security policy – encompassing foreign policy, intelligence collection and evaluation, and defense policy.

Our NSC is a collegial body chaired by the President. It includes as members, the vice-president, members of the Cabinet (foreign affairs, defense, interior, justice and labor), top leaders of Congress, and all living past presidents of the Republic.

The Council was created during the Quirino Administration and was reorganized in 1986 by President Cory Aquino. President Gloria Arroyo amended the executive order on the NSC to include past presidents.

Ironically, this could be one key reason why Aquino has refused from the first to convene the council. He does not want to listen to the former presidents’ views and to acknowledge their greater grasp of statecraft.

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) is the consultative and advisory body to the President on the government’s legislative agenda, particularly programs and policies affecting the economy. LEDAC was created through the Republic Act 7640 and approved by President Fidel V. Ramos on December 9, 1992.

LEDAC is composed of 20 members, from the Cabinet, Congress, and the private sector.

The council is supposed to meet at least once every quarter but may be convened by the president to special meetings if necessary. Aquino never found it necessary to convene LEDAC.

Aquino Peace Council has tough task

It is in the same spirit of tapping broad counsel and assistance that the President has created the peace council.

He said at its creation: “I am fully aware that the events in Mindanao, together with the incident in Mamasapano, have sown doubt in the minds of our countrymen. The result: it has pushed aside the objective evaluation of the BBL.”

“To address this, I am inviting citizen leaders known for their wisdom and integrity to stand as independent convenors.”

Appointed as members of the council were Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee, and founder of Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.

To put the best face on this initiative, it is not unusual for a president president to look beyond the Cabinet for policy advice in addressing a thorny problem, especially a crisis.

In the Mamasapano tragedy, Aquino clearly faces the biggest crisis of his presidency.

In the deliberations over the BBL in Congress, this linchpin of the GRP-MILF peace agreement faces rough sailing. Sentiment against the measure is running high.

The task of the council is not propaganda or public relations; it is to come up with availing ideas to ensure that the nation will stay on the road to peace, and that the vision of Muslim Filipinos for a Bangsamoro entity will receive a fair hearing.

Kompre was a precursor

The peace council scheme is actually not the first time that the Aquino administration has gone to this well for water.

In April last year, the government created the Koalisyon ng Mamamayan para sa Reporma or Kompre, to counter the public outrage over scandals hounding the government because of the DAP and the pork barrel.

Karina David, one of the convenors, declared that the coalition was launched to ensure that positive gains under the administration are continued beyond 2016.

Kompre was envisioned as a broad-based coalition of civil society groups, people’s organizations, political parties, social movements and reform-minded individuals to champion the institutionalization and broadening of reforms in government.

The movement lost steam when media charged that the government had conscripted personages enjoying fat salaries and contracts in government corporations, and who were beholden to the President for favors.

Kompre went silent overnight.

The Peace council could meet with similar skepticism with the media and the public, because several of the designated convenors have had long ties with the Aquino government be it in business or politics.

What is troubling is the thought that President Aquino is collecting on debts and favors he has extended. And the so-called citizen leaders of wisdom and integrity may not be falling in line out of a sense of patriotism.

At the first meeting of the peace council in Makati last April 6, Justice Davide declared: “The hard work begins after BBL is passed.”

He is mistaken. The hard work of the council has already begun.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

16 Responses to Peace council: last gasp of a lame-duck presidency

Naldo says:

April 25, 2015 at 1:13 pm

For Davide to state – “The hard work begins after BBL is passed.”, will only mean that the next administration and not this present administration, has to buckle down and come out with curative measures, to make peace in Mindanao work. Well, he is thoroughly out-of-sync on this one, because what is needed right now is to seek and work out an attainable solution for all stakeholders, for Mindanao to have a lasting peace, which is in this instance must be a preventive approach in forming a framework for peace.

This peace panel convened by BS Cojuangco Aquino III, is nothing more than a window dressing, used to put a semblance of wisdom and integrity, which has no independence whatsoever from vested personal interest and ulterior manipulations, on what is an appalling excuse for degenerating the national interest of the Republic of the Philippines, on a whimsical and farcical ploy by a lame-duck puppet president.

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Firestarter says:

April 25, 2015 at 12:58 pm

The more he opens his mouth the more our country is in danger. This is what we get in electing an obnoxious person in Malacanang. He wants to make only a statement but not a trademark where he can be proud of as his legacy to the people. His administration is infested with full of idiotic fools with no concrete plans to offer for the people. Shame on you!!

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jason bourne says:

April 25, 2015 at 9:40 am

As I said before we elected the wrong Conjuanco.

Gibo – top of his class, valedictorian, top class of his class in law, board topnotcher, active in many pro-people activiies. Tried his best as Defenese Minister & was on the ball during the typhoon as head of NDCC. Active in Outdoor sports activities.

BS Nonoy – lazy good-for-nothing congressman/senator who in in whole political never passed one(1) single bill !!!. The bills he sponsored/helped were all self-serving like the exit from the expressway to their hacienda Luisita ! Active in Video Games !

ayan ang mapapla natin kapag ini-elect natin ang isang tamad na bobo pang Presidente. kung ginamit natin ang ating kukuti eh di sana tayo na-bulabog ngayon. Maganda na sana at pa-unlad paman ang ating bansa kahit maraming problema.

Kaso nga lkang ang Pinoy ay madaling madala sa “That’s Entertainment’ kind of government. Kahit na ngayon na bistado na ang kapalpakan, ay ang mga tao ay “Okay lang”.

Kaya nag we deserve our own government. Repleksyon ito ng kababawan at katangahan natin.

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hector says:

April 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

In the old game of – ‘if you were likened to a car, what would it be’ – Fantasist Pnoy Aquino would no doubt fancy himself to be a porsche, but in reality a jeepney more closely fits the bill – old, americanised, rusty, paint peeling, slow, adorned with symbols, cheap, noisy, a bumpy ride, smoke bellowing from the front & his rear, and soon to be on the scrapheap. An ageing relic.

Kris Aquino would be an Omnibus – ‘All aboard!’

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Vicente Penetrante says:

April 25, 2015 at 8:39 am

BS Aquino the 3rd loves his blame-game. How can he make use of NSC, which includes all living past presidents?

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Hector David says:

April 25, 2015 at 8:02 am

We are loosing territory our heroes and ancestors fought and died for…Sabah mischief reef the spratleys…. No content with that we are goving others away theBBL…. Weight as well raise arms to get money and territory for free and let the fools work hard , follow the laws, and pay taxes

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vg says:

April 25, 2015 at 7:25 am

Every time Aquino finds something in his way, he bends the straight path. He creates things to push his ideas in the press and to the people. Every time he does that, we can see that he is wrong. He is plain wrong.

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Jess says:

April 25, 2015 at 6:05 am

An exercise in futility for PNoy. Impossible already for him to reverse the public’s perception of his failed presidency, of his incompetence, lack of skills (whether soft or hard) – describing his ‘tuwid na daan’ as TUWAD na Daan, a more fitting description.

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Anima A. Agrava says:

April 25, 2015 at 5:55 am

Weird, liar, corrupt, hypocrite president running or maybe not running a weird, liar. corrupt. hypocrite administration.

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Rogelio A. Feir says:

April 25, 2015 at 6:38 am

Sige pa more.

cocoy says:

April 25, 2015 at 4:57 am

I agree!!!! Your prognostication (meaning your guess) is probably on-point (meaning ‘right’). “….. one key reason why Aquino has refused from the first to convene the national security council. He does not want to listen to the former presidents’ views and to acknowledge their greater grasp of statecraft.”

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Rogelio A. Feir says:

April 25, 2015 at 6:39 am

Time on target. Weird.

Samuel Santos says:

April 25, 2015 at 4:49 am

At a time when we most need a strong and determined leader, what we’ve got is a weakling and a good-for-nothing President.

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sonny dela cruz says:

April 25, 2015 at 3:37 am

B.S. Aquino must be removed now. He is more interested on his BBL than the whole problems of the country. The media should start the call for his removal for whatever means. The country is in a mess with corruption, hunger, China’s intrude to Philippine sovereignty and unemployment. The media should wake up the Filipino people at large to save the country from the destruction by the President. The media should use all the influences in the military, businesses and the religious groups. It is time for them to do a PATRIOTIC DUTY for the first time aside from reporting. Why no one can take him out, how powerful he is against the 100 million population of the Philippines. The country needs to move forward, to uplift the economic level of each Filipino people, many are hungry and uneducated. The Filipino people needs the government to work for them NOW.

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P.Akialamiro says:

April 25, 2015 at 2:04 am

The peace council has come too late. I still hope for the best, but the ‘damage’ after 5 years is beyond repair. Especially, with the kind of leadership there is.

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Alejo Rosete says:

April 25, 2015 at 1:48 am

Ayaw niya ang NSC at LEDAC – why? He can not dictate to the members the results he want.

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