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

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL: LRT COMMUTERS DESERVE BETTER


MAY 27 ---Over the weekend Malacañang apologized for the latest disruption in the overhead railway service. On Saturday, two coaches of the Light Rail Transit line 1 collided at the Monumento station in Caloocan City. Fortunately, only one person suffered minor injuries – the operator of the LRT-1 train that rear-ended the other.
So far, the numerous glitches that have hit the LRT and Metro Rail Transit have not resulted in serious injuries or death. But authorities should not wait for grievous consequences before improving the train services. In August last year, an MRT-3 train that was being pushed for repairs by another train lost power, rammed a concrete barrier at the Pasay City terminal, then jumped off the tracks before careening to a halt at the busy intersection of EDSA and Taft Avenue, damaging several motor vehicles and causing a massive traffic gridlock. At least 36 passengers were taken to hospitals for injuries, but at least everyone survived. READ MORE...

ALSO: Only 6 days left to enact BBL


MAY 27 ---By Jarius Bondoc This year’s Independence Day rites will be held in the Visayas for the first time. The President will lead the 117th celebration on June 12 in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, where the Filipino flag was first raised in the region. On Nov. 17, 1898, was inaugurated the Revolutionary government in the Visayas, led by Martin Delgado. In the town stands a 255-year-old church used in the Visayans’ 1898 Declaration of Independence from Spanish rule. The commemoration will be held there. Educator Delgado was teniente mayor (vice mayor) and later capitan municipal (town mayor) at the time of the Revolution. A captain of the cuerpo voluntarios (native volunteers) to the Spanish army, he led a mass defection to the Katipunan, and besieged the casa tribunal (town hall) on Oct. 28, 1898. President Emilio Aguinaldo hailed his deed and made him general. He sent a saber and the flag, hoisted at the church on the day Delgado hosted a conference of other Visayan revolucionarios. Not only the Santa Barbara church is being spruced up for the events. Old houses also are being prepared there and in Iloilo City, the capital, for the visits of national officials, foreign diplomats, and balikbayan. At the original provincial capitol will be held the traditional vin d’honneur. READ MORE...

ALSO: An earthquake is something we should all fear


MAY 27 ---By Tony Katigbak
At this point I am already getting so tired of all the political news. As I am sure most everyone else is too. It’s all about the bickering and the accusations and news about political alliances and turncoats. This is especially true now that election season is creeping upon us and it will only continue to get worse as the months pass. All people seem to be talking about is who will run, who won’t run, who is running with whom, which party has the upper hand, and of course, the never-ending SWS and Pulse Asia surveys which aren’t even always accurate. Sure, this is important to the country and the information should be important to voters, as there is nothing more dangerous than a voter who is uninformed. However, I personally believe that it’s all the same information being recycled over and over again depending on who is dishing it out. It’s not like we are getting new news or any fact and evidence-based news for that matter. It’s the same mud-slinging with no resolution and that is not going to make us better voters, it’s just going to do the job it was intended for – make the voters confused and not know what is real from what is not. Personally, I think there is still a bit of time to sift through the election mess and hopefully come up with a suitable candidate to really make some solid changes in the country. That will take time. In the meantime, alongside thinking about who our next leaders will be, I think it’s also important for us to make sure that we are around to see this next phase in Philippine politics. A subject that I think deserves our attention just as much is our safety and disaster preparedness in case a devastating earthquake ever hits Manila. READ MORE...

ALSO: Unfinished business


MAY 26 ---By Ernesto M. Maceda 
After five years, there’s plenty of unfinished business by the Aquino administration. President Aquino will be leaving many unresolved issues and problems by 2016: 1. More than 20 public-private partnership (PPP) projects have not been started. 2. The schoolroom shortage has not been solved. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) completed only 49% of the classroom requirements of Department of Education (DepEd) in 2014. DPWH documents showed that only 7,062 of the 14,000 classroom requirements have been constructed. In Metro Manila, only 20% of 1,221 classrooms have been completed. 3. Rice self-sufficiency has not been achieved. The National Food Authority (NFA) council has just approved the importation of 500,000 metric tons of rice. Previous importations have been overpriced by at least $50 per metric ton. 4. The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) service has deteriorated. The two trains of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) had a collision last week. 5. The train service to Bicol has not been resumed. The Philippine National Railways (PNR) service to Calamba has been suspended after derailment. 6. The traffic situation in Metro Manila has not been improved. 7. There’s continuing congestion at the Matnog, Sorsogon port. 8. The construction of a second runway at the airport has not been started. 9. The computerization of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has not been finished. Smuggling is still ongoing. READ MORE...

ALSO: The death of a republic
[Why the haste? Two reasons. The first is tied to the 2016 elections. The LP needs to win in Mindanao where 62% oppose the BBL. An armed MILF can be very persuasive towards voters. The second is money. Approval of the BBL will unleash P528 billion in block grants over the next five years. The LP needs to win the election to ensure payment to the MILF. It could be the biggest scam in Philippine history.President Aquino has opened a Pandora’s box. The story won’t end there.]


MAY 24 ---By Carmen N. Pedrosa 
In September 2008 Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, then MILF chairman, gave me a copy of the book “We must win the Struggle” written by Shaheed Salamat Hashim, the founder of the MILF, with a personal dedication, “Best wishes and highest regard.”  In his Foreword to Salamat Hashim’s book, Ebrahim quoted Nur Misuari as saying the MNLF considered Hashim’s martyrdom as “a great loss” and “the MNLF even officially proclaimed him a great Bangsamoro national hero whose vision for an independent Bangsamoro shall forever remain alive in the hearts of the present and future generations.” Ebrahim added, “The entire MILF leadership and its constituency are unanimous in declaring that Shaheed Salamat’s oral and written literatures are living treasures – a national heritage and patrimony – of the Bangsamoro people and their struggle. He had already planted firmly the seeds of Jihad in the hearts and minds of the Bangsamoro Youth and People.”  It is worth noting that as far back as June 2007 in his Foreword to the book “The Long Road to Peace” written by Salah Jubair alias Mohagher Iqbal, Sec. Silvestre Afable Jr., chairman of the Government Peace Panel, wrote, “The most formidable task of the Philippine Government is to temper the legal and political reflexes that deny the existence of ‘shared sovereignties’ or ‘nations within nations’ which have been long accepted in the realm of conflict resolution.”  What Afable omitted to say is the concept of nations within nations would require amending the 1987 Constitution. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Dangerous short cuts


MAY 28 ---There are Filipinos who like Dirty Harry types. Individuals with a known penchant for taking short cuts to justice are elected to public office not despite such record but precisely because of it. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a former policeman who has built a dynasty in Davao City, is unapologetic about his human rights record, and recently admitted being behind the death squads in his turf many years ago. New York-based Human Rights Watch counts about 1,000 killings attributed to Davao’s vigilante groups since the 1990s. A probe is reportedly underway in connection with Duterte’s possible involvement in killings in the city in 2009 attributed to the death squads. Duterte’s reaction: So sue me. His city, he said, is one of the safest in the world. Davao City may not be safe for criminals, but neither is it safe for left-wing activists as well as the impoverished and homeless. Rights groups say the death squads, in an apparent effort to rid the city of pickpockets and other petty criminals, also target those whose biggest problem is poverty including street children. READ MORE...

ALSO: Leadership
[Mar Roxas’ demeanor would disappoint Machiavelli.]


MAY 28 ---By Alex Magno 
He drifts with the tide rather than command the waves. He waits rather than seizes the day. He would rather that power falls onto his lap, an inheritance rather than a trophy. Last Tuesday, he finally addressed the matter of a presidential run– although only to thank President Aquino for mentioning he was at the “top” of his list of possible endorsees. He could have seized the moment to declare, although that might have been completely out of character. If Roxas’ ratings in the voter preference surveys are unimpressive, it is likely because voters sense he is incapable of leadership. He does not shape outcomes. He waits for them to happen. Roxas seems to treat the presidency as a birthright – not as the Holy Grail. He sees to be enamored with the idea of leading this country. But he does not crave for it. He seems unwilling to work for it. A friend who was Mar’s colleague in a previous Cabinet described the man as indolent. He does not innovate. He does not take the initiative. He waits to be instructed. He role-plays. I have interviewed cab drivers and other ordinary voters. When they say they will not vote for Roxas, I interrogate them extensively. None could clearly say why they fail to be attracted by an otherwise pervasive, extremely visible political personality. This is the irony Mar must resolve as soon as possible. He has no problem with name recall. His namesake, the former president, is in all our peso bills. But he has a serious problem converting name recall to voter support. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL - Commuters deserve better

MANILA, JUNE 1, 2015 (PHILSTAR) May 27, 2015 - 12:00am - Over the weekend Malacañang apologized for the latest disruption in the overhead railway service. On Saturday, two coaches of the Light Rail Transit line 1 collided at the Monumento station in Caloocan City.

Fortunately, only one person suffered minor injuries – the operator of the LRT-1 train that rear-ended the other.

So far, the numerous glitches that have hit the LRT and Metro Rail Transit have not resulted in serious injuries or death. But authorities should not wait for grievous consequences before improving the train services.

In August last year, an MRT-3 train that was being pushed for repairs by another train lost power, rammed a concrete barrier at the Pasay City terminal, then jumped off the tracks before careening to a halt at the busy intersection of EDSA and Taft Avenue, damaging several motor vehicles and causing a massive traffic gridlock.

At least 36 passengers were taken to hospitals for injuries, but at least everyone survived.

READ MORE...
The consequences could be worse next time – and there is likely to be a next time, since train services have been disrupted many times since then. Just a month after the train collision, the doors of a northbound MRT-3 train suddenly opened between the Taft and Magallanes stations.

Hours later, the doors of another train also slid open between Boni and Guadalupe stations. In both cases, the trains automatically stopped. Fortunately, no passenger fell off the train during the sudden door opening.

President Aquino should demand better performance from those in charge of a mass transportation service whose frequent breakdowns have become the symbol of inefficiency in his government.

Worse, the disappointing MRT service is being linked to corruption allegations that the administration looks uninterested in pursuing. Having made the fight against graft a cornerstone of his governance, the President should not hesitate to go after erring officials even if they belong to his administration.

He must also take a serious look at the management of a vital mass transportation facility. This is a disaster waiting to happen. President Aquino should reassure his “bosses” that they deserve better service.


Only 6 days left to enact BBL GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 27, 2015 - 12:00am


 By Jarius Bondoc

This year’s Independence Day rites will be held in the Visayas for the first time. The President will lead the 117th celebration on June 12 in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, where the Filipino flag was first raised in the region.

On Nov. 17, 1898, was inaugurated the Revolutionary government in the Visayas, led by Martin Delgado. In the town stands a 255-year-old church used in the Visayans’ 1898 Declaration of Independence from Spanish rule. The commemoration will be held there.

Educator Delgado was teniente mayor (vice mayor) and later capitan municipal (town mayor) at the time of the Revolution. A captain of the cuerpo voluntarios (native volunteers) to the Spanish army, he led a mass defection to the Katipunan, and besieged the casa tribunal (town hall) on Oct. 28, 1898. President Emilio Aguinaldo hailed his deed and made him general. He sent a saber and the flag, hoisted at the church on the day Delgado hosted a conference of other Visayan revolucionarios.

Not only the Santa Barbara church is being spruced up for the events. Old houses also are being prepared there and in Iloilo City, the capital, for the visits of national officials, foreign diplomats, and balikbayan. At the original provincial capitol will be held the traditional vin d’honneur.

READ MORE...
June will be occasion to showcase the province’s strides. There’s the new ten-lane circumferential highway, including for bicycles. Along the old airport runway rose an Iloilo Convention Center, initially marred by accusations of overprice which the Ombudsman quashed last week. Nearby is being built 13 condo and commercial buildings by Megaworld, and nine by Ayala Land.

The once trash-choked river in Iloilo City has been cleaned up, the rich squatters along the banks ejected. These include an oil-polluting baradero (ship repair yard), a beer hall of a councilor, and a piggery of a judge. In their stead were built promenades exclusively for pedestrians. In Santa Barbara is an airport of international standards, in many respects better than the country’s main gateway in Manila.

Iloilo’s big change came when for the first time its local officials united, under Senate President Franklin Drilon. Among them are Gov. Arthur Defensor, Mayors Jed Patrick Mabilog (Iloilo) and Dennis Superficial (Santa Barbara), and Reps. Jerry Treñas and Arcadio Gorriceta. With them are prominent citizens in the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, led by ex-tourism secretary Narzalina Lim.

* * *

Time is running out on Congress to pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law. Its deadline, by Malacañang’s wish, is June 11, when it recesses till July 27th. With lawmakers in session only Mondays to Wednesdays, for talks the rest of the week with constituents, they have only six days from today, May 27th.

Within that time, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte must get their chambers to craft respective versions in plenary, merge these in bicameral conference, then ratify the final BBL.

The House ad hoc body of Rep. Rufus Rodriguez reported out its BBL last Wednesday, May 20th, after two weeks of final debates. It referred the draft Monday the 25th to two standing committees – on ways and means and on appropriations – due to provisions on taxation and automatic budget allocations. Only on Monday, June 1st, can the House begin to hear it thrice in plenary.

Six days won’t suffice. Congress rules prescribe weeklong intervals between any bill’s first, second, and third readings. So Rodriguez is asking President Noynoy Aquino to call for a special session to pass the BBL instead of adjourning.

Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, who voted “yes with reservations” to the BBL at the committee, doubts the outcome of such extended session. An ex-senator, he knows only too well how lawmakers think. They’ll resent being pulled out of vacations and long-planned foreign travels, he says. They might take it out on the BBL; vote “no” to avert any more bi-cam and ratification.

The Senate calendar is iffier. Sen. Bongbong Marcos had planned his committee on local governments to report out a BBL by last May 25. Now he says he still needs to input the findings of unconstitutionalities by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s committee on revision of laws.

* * *

Rodriguez says his committee has cured the BBL of eight such infirmities. Exclusive Commissions on Audit, Elections, Civil Service, and Human Rights, and Ombudsman for the Bangsamoro either have been deleted or regionalized. Erased too is the President’s clearing of military operations with the sub-state’s chief minister (CM).

The police still shall be under the National Police Commission and director-general, not the CM. In case a barangay or district opts to join the Bangsamoro, not only its citizens but the whole town or city will vote in plebiscite.

Seven other major revisions were made, Rodriguez adds. Nixed was the selection by the Bangsamoro parliament of a “wali” (titular head). The sub-state must uphold the rights of “Lumad” (indigenous tribes) to ancestral domain, reserved seats in parliament, and income shares from natural-resource extractions.

Such mining is subject to national laws. The sub-state may not contract loans directly with foreign governments. All mentions of Bangsamoro “territory” were removed. The entity shall be called Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Its Preamble was edited to conform to that of the Philippine Constitution.

* * *

P-Noy’s peace panel has expressed satisfaction with Rodriguez’s output. The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with which P-Noy’s team drafted the BBL, “officially is silent,” he says.

A prominent newswoman confides why. Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief negotiator, is incensed by the first two of seven changes. The MILF had reserved the wali post for chairman Ebrahim Murad, another source says. Too, assuming it wins against the datu (clan chiefs) and old politicos in parliamentary elections, the MILF would want full control of mineral resources, with no say from mountain tribesmen.

* * *

One contentious issue remains: will the MILF disarm? No more shooting is what the Bangsamoro political settlement aims for. Under the 2012 peace pact, the separatists must give up 70 percent of their arms if the BBL passes in plebiscite sometime Sept.-Oct. By parliamentary polls in May 2016, they’d still have 30 percent, but must disarm if they win the majority.

All Filipinos can hang on to is trust. That priceless commodity was broken by the Mamasapano massacre of Jan. 25. The MILF has not acted to regain it by complying with three congressional suggestions: return all the SAF-44’s firearms and personal effects, help get terrorist Abdul Basit Usman (it was his bodyguards who did him in, for the $1-million reward), and turn in the massacrers.


An earthquake is something we should all fear INTROSPECTIVE By Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 27, 2015 - 12:00am


 By Tony Katigbak

At this point I am already getting so tired of all the political news. As I am sure most everyone else is too. It’s all about the bickering and the accusations and news about political alliances and turncoats.

This is especially true now that election season is creeping upon us and it will only continue to get worse as the months pass. All people seem to be talking about is who will run, who won’t run, who is running with whom, which party has the upper hand, and of course, the never-ending SWS and Pulse Asia surveys which aren’t even always accurate.

Sure, this is important to the country and the information should be important to voters, as there is nothing more dangerous than a voter who is uninformed. However, I personally believe that it’s all the same information being recycled over and over again depending on who is dishing it out.

It’s not like we are getting new news or any fact and evidence-based news for that matter. It’s the same mud-slinging with no resolution and that is not going to make us better voters, it’s just going to do the job it was intended for – make the voters confused and not know what is real from what is not.

Personally, I think there is still a bit of time to sift through the election mess and hopefully come up with a suitable candidate to really make some solid changes in the country.

That will take time. In the meantime, alongside thinking about who our next leaders will be, I think it’s also important for us to make sure that we are around to see this next phase in Philippine politics. A subject that I think deserves our attention just as much is our safety and disaster preparedness in case a devastating earthquake ever hits Manila.

READ MORE...
I’ve written in columns in the past about how important it is to be safe rather than sorry, and I’m wondering if enough changes have been made to make our country more prepared to face Mother Nature’s wrath. We all saw how horribly unprepared we were when super typhoon Yolanda hit and we are still dealing with the rebuilding from that tragedy.

These types of natural catastrophic events can be seen as great equalizers, and when Yolanda came to the country with her devastating power, everyone was affected, young and old, rich and poor. Granted, the rich were probably able to get back on their feet faster than others, it still shows that no amount of money can really protect you from nature when it’s time to pay the piper.

Having said all that, it is really important for us to always be as prepared as possible for the next “big one.” I have to admit we’ve been doing a little better when it comes to storms. We seem to get the warning earlier and precautions are taken in advance.

Even when the worst inevitably does not pass, we are at least more prepared just in case. I think this is something that should apply to every natural disaster and not just typhoons.

We all still remember how a big earthquake demolished Baguio City in July of 1990. It was the strongest quake to hit the Philippines with a 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale in 45 seconds, killing an estimated 1,600+ people and causing damages worth more than P15 billion back in the ‘90s.

No one ever forgot that and though we have had a few quakes since, a horrible 7.2 hit Bohol and Cebu, but nothing as high as Baguio. I still remember the Hyatt Terraces Hotel crumbled like a deck of cards crushing so many in the rubble. I never want to see that happen again.

It’s natural that we think about our own earthquake preparedness these days, on the heels of the tragedy in Nepal. The country was hit by not one but two massive 7 and above magnitude quakes and was devastated. My heart goes out to the people who are still trying to piece back their lives and looked for loved ones in what remains. Their lives will never be the same again. I really pray for the strength they will need to rise from the rubble and rebuild.

It’s exceptionally scary for us because we have seen what could happen if a strong earthquake were to hit Metro Manila. We could literally see Manila get torn in two. Not to mention the infrastructure damage that would occur and the horrible death toll (last prediction was in the 30,000s at least).

We’ve been known to scrimp on costs when it comes to infrastructure durability and safety and it would not surprise me in the least if so many of our high-rises, buildings, malls, and more were not earthquake safe or build to code. What would happen to them – and all of us – should a big one hit the city?

Now I am not trying to be a doomsday prophet or anything like that. I don’t want to scare anyone for the sake of scaring. I just think it is important to be aware of what could happen so that we are able to prepare the best we can. I gladly welcome the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) detailed study about the West Valley Fault Line that was recently made public.

It outlines the area that the fault line snakes through and we can clearly see which areas would be most affected by a quake — which is basically all of Metro Manila. The fault line is littered with condominium buildings, schools, offices, malls, and so many of the staples of daily life. What would happen to these and surrounding structures if a magnitude 7 or above were to hit?

Senator Angara along with Phivolcs has renewed his calls to make earthquake preparedness mandatory and to put a plan in place should we have a massive hit. According to Phivolcs the West Valley Fault Line is “ripe” for activity and a massive quake could happen in our lifetime.

After all, most fault lines experience activity every 400-600 years and at this point the West Valley Fault has been 357 years since the last tectonic activity.

Senator Angara is calling on everyone to put a plan in place should an earthquake hit and wants to make sure there are enough resources should this tragedy happen including hospitals, disaster management centers, passable roads, broadcast media, fire and ambulance services, and telecommunications facilities.

This is all very important and should be done as soon as possible. Even though we can’t predict when the fault line will throw a tantrum it’s always better to be prepared way in advance than regret it later on. If what they say is true that Metro Manila could be torn in two, we have to have a contingency on what to do should that happen.

We have to make sure there is protocol in place so we aren’t running around like chickens with our heads cut off. I really hope that due to recent events we will give this the importance it deserves.

After all, the scariest part in all of this is that there is truly no way to predict if and when a massive earthquake will hit. As the research shows, it can happen any time from 400-600 years, which means that a devastating quake could hit any time in the next 40-240 years!

That’s a lot of time to be on our toes and of course, we can’t spend our lives in fear.

There is also no way of getting early warning of an earthquake. It just happens. So the best things we can do is conceptualize and implement the plan now so that it is ready, prepare as much as we can, be informed, and leave the rest to prayer.


Unfinished business SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 26, 2015 - 12:00am


By Ernesto M. Maceda

After five years, there’s plenty of unfinished business by the Aquino administration. President Aquino will be leaving many unresolved issues and problems by 2016:

1. More than 20 public-private partnership (PPP) projects have not been started.

2. The schoolroom shortage has not been solved. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) completed only 49% of the classroom requirements of Department of Education (DepEd) in 2014. DPWH documents showed that only 7,062 of the 14,000 classroom requirements have been constructed. In Metro Manila, only 20% of 1,221 classrooms have been completed.

3. Rice self-sufficiency has not been achieved. The National Food Authority (NFA) council has just approved the importation of 500,000 metric tons of rice. Previous importations have been overpriced by at least $50 per metric ton.

4. The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) service has deteriorated. The two trains of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) had a collision last week.

5. The train service to Bicol has not been resumed. The Philippine National Railways (PNR) service to Calamba has been suspended after derailment.

6. The traffic situation in Metro Manila has not been improved.

7. There’s continuing congestion at the Matnog, Sorsogon port.

8. The construction of a second runway at the airport has not been started.

9. The computerization of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has not been finished. Smuggling is still ongoing.

CONTINUE READING...
10.The illegal drug problem has not been solved or reduced.

11. The shortage of license plates and stickers and driver’s license cards is still a problem at the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

12. The power problem in Mindanao is unsolved.

13. 50% of barangays have no running water.

14. The territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

15. The New People’s Army (NPA) insurgency.

Will the new elected president have what it takes to meet the challenges? This country needs new experienced leaders of different molds, backbone, and integrity.

Samar killings

Police expressed concern over the continuing rise of extra-judicial killings, which may worsen during the run-up to the 2016 elections.

Dagum, Calbayog Barangay Chairman Rio Lebario, 45, and Barangay Councilor Dionisio Lungsod, 55, were shot dead inside their barangay hall.

A few days earlier, Barangay Chairman Edgar Dormiendo Belleza, 35, of Carayman, Calbayog City was killed.

Police declared the killings in Samar had something to do with personal grudges among politicians and their supporters.

Belleza belonged to the camp of Samar Governor Sharie Ann Tan while Lebario and Lungsod belonged to the camp of Tan’s political rival, Calbayog Mayor Ronald Aquino.

Deadset on running

Speaking in New Lucena, Iloilo, the Vice President reiterated anew that he would not back out from the presidential race in 2016.

Welcoming him were Iloilo Rep. Hernan Brion (4th District), Board Member June Mondejar, Mayor Liecel Mondejar-Seville, and Mayor Peter Paul Lopez and senior citizens.

VP Binay was accompanied by Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Parañaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting.

Binay has bounced back in the surveys with 36%. Binay said he has formed a search committee to recommend a running mate for him.

Binay stressed that competence and executive experience would be the main issue in next year’s elections.

He challenged the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into the bank accounts of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Binay said he acquired his assets through hard work.

“I was a practicing lawyer. I have been good in saving money. I also did teaching and my wife is a practicing doctor of medicine,” he said.

Binay said his wife, Dr. Elenita Binay, also has an orchid farm business and also a piggery.

No Senate approval by June

The last hearing of the Senate committee on local governments, chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is scheduled on June 3. After that, there will be only three session days before the June 11 adjournment.

With extensive plenary debates and amendments expected, expect at least ten days of debate.

Then, there will be long debates in the conference committee as the Senate version will be very different from the approved House version.

Senator Marcos stressed that the Senate is independent and would not railroad the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as they did in the House.

Senator Francis Escudero said it’s impossible that the President would be able to sign the BBL before his State of the Nation Address (SONA). He further said that it is impossible because even if Congress would be able to pass the BBL on June 11, it’s certain that the Senate and House will have very different versions. “There would be long and hot debate in the conference committee,” Escudero added.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is set to remove the ten provisions considered constitutionally unfair retained by the House of the Representatives.

So far eight senators have signed the Santiago committee report: Juan Edgardo Angara, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Aquilino Pimentel III, Vicente Sotto, Cynthia Villar, Ralph Recto, and Lito Lapid.

Whatever final version of the BBL is produced would be questioned in the Supreme Court.

Tidbits

Forty out of 170 dormitories in Manila have been found non-compliant with fire safety rules by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved tuition hike for 313 private colleges and universities nationwide. Senator Santiago, co-author of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (Unifast) bill, will summon officials of the CHED to explain the approved tuition hike.

Government is importing an additional 250,000 to 500,000 metric tons of rice. In addition to 500,000 MT earlier imported.

Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte has opened a college of medicine.


The death of a republic FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 24, 2015 - 12:00am


By Carmen N. Pedrosa

In September 2008 Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, then MILF chairman, gave me a copy of the book “We must win the Struggle” written by Shaheed Salamat Hashim, the founder of the MILF, with a personal dedication, “Best wishes and highest regard.”

In his Foreword to Salamat Hashim’s book, Ebrahim quoted Nur Misuari as saying the MNLF considered Hashim’s martyrdom as “a great loss” and “the MNLF even officially proclaimed him a great Bangsamoro national hero whose vision for an independent Bangsamoro shall forever remain alive in the hearts of the present and future generations.”

Ebrahim added, “The entire MILF leadership and its constituency are unanimous in declaring that Shaheed Salamat’s oral and written literatures are living treasures – a national heritage and patrimony – of the Bangsamoro people and their struggle. He had already planted firmly the seeds of Jihad in the hearts and minds of the Bangsamoro Youth and People.”

It is worth noting that as far back as June 2007 in his Foreword to the book “The Long Road to Peace” written by Salah Jubair alias Mohagher Iqbal, Sec. Silvestre Afable Jr., chairman of the Government Peace Panel, wrote, “The most formidable task of the Philippine Government is to temper the legal and political reflexes that deny the existence of ‘shared sovereignties’ or ‘nations within nations’ which have been long accepted in the realm of conflict resolution.”

What Afable omitted to say is the concept of nations within nations would require amending the 1987 Constitution.

READ MORE...
Before Salamat Hashim passed away, I had the chance to talk to him. I found him to be a true revolutionary who insisted on an independent Bangsamoro nation. He was confident his vision would be realized by the Moro groups. “It will take time, even by stages, but ultimately it will happen,” he told me.

“And the territorial extent of that Bangsamoro nation?” I asked. He didn’t answer but merely smiled.

As Bayanko said before, it supports a Bangsamoro state but within a new Constitution based on a parliamentary federal system where no federal state within the union can break out unilaterally without the consent by plebiscite of the Filipino people. Its creation by operation of law is no guarantee it cannot break out of the Republic. Just as the law limits the vote to ratify it to the people in the territory, so can the people in the territory vote at some future date to secede from the union.

The best example is the Act of Union of 1707 that united the parliaments of Scotland and England. Britain has no written constitution. The Union was by operation of law.

In the recent General Election of May 2015 the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) that is in favor of independence won 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies and today 69 percent of Scots, according to one poll, believe independence to be inevitable.

If the UK votes to come out of the European Union, which the Scots oppose, an independence referendum is likely. The 1707 Act of Union will then be abrogated by the simple majority vote of the Scots in that referendum.

By contrast, when Arturo Mas, president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, wanted a referendum by Catalans to secede from the Spanish State, the Spanish prime-minister Mariano Rajoy reminded him such a referendum was unconstitutional and therefore could not be held under the terms of the Spanish Constitution.

The MILF-proposed BBL reads like the constitution or basic law of an independent nation, which is not surprising under the concept of a nation within a nation. However, it runs afoul of the 1987 Constitution which is that of a unitary state.

The only way to reconcile its provisions is to amend the present Constitution. Now, do we fit the provisions of the BBL to a new Constitution or do we, as the Spaniards have done, fit a Bangsamoro federal state within the guidelines of a new Constitution applicable to other states joining the union? This is the debate Congress should have.

The other question is will the MILF accept a limited sovereignty of an amended BBL? I doubt it. To believe the Moros will give up their dream of an independent nation is like living in fantasy land. The Jihadists won’t stop until they have attained their ultimate goal. Here both the MILF and MNLF are in complete agreement, as Murad Ebrahim implied in his Foreword to Hashim’s book. They may quarrel among themselves over control, but Salamat Hashim is their national hero, his vision is their vision.

The latest development is the ad hoc panel of the House of Representatives approved a last minute insertion to the BBL giving 10 other contiguous provinces the option anytime to be part of the Bangsamoro state upon filing of a petition of at least 10% of the registered voters of the interested LGU or geographical area and whose inclusion shall be effective when approved by a majority of votes in a plebiscite. House Minority Leader Ronald Zamora warned, “This is a very dangerous provision.”

In effect, the Bangsamoro state could also end up having Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Palawan in addition to its territory.

When the House panel rejected his proposal to delete the BBL security provisions giving the MILF control of the armed forces, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon sighed, “God save this country in the future.”

With the House approval secured, the president only needs two or three votes to obtain a majority in the Senate. That should not be difficult to buy given the mercenary attitude of many senators. If a constitutional question is raised, it will then have to hurdle the Supreme Court that may dismiss it as a political question.

Why the haste?

Two reasons. The first is tied to the 2016 elections. The LP needs to win in Mindanao where 62% oppose the BBL. An armed MILF can be very persuasive towards voters. The second is money. Approval of the BBL will unleash P528 billion in block grants over the next five years. The LP needs to win the election to ensure payment to the MILF. It could be the biggest scam in Philippine history.

Where will that leave the Philippines?

Eventually an independent Bangsamoro nation composed of most of Mindanao, Zamboanga and Palawan, an area under-populated, rich in agriculture and mineral resources, that will survive better than an overpopulated Luzon and Visayas.

Such a nation, with natural affinities to Malaysia and a similar form of government, is likely to ally itself with the Malaysian Federation which had been funding and arming it in the past.

President Aquino has opened a Pandora’s box. The story won’t end there.


EDITORIAL - Dangerous short cuts (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 28, 2015 - 12:00am

There are Filipinos who like Dirty Harry types. Individuals with a known penchant for taking short cuts to justice are elected to public office not despite such record but precisely because of it. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a former policeman who has built a dynasty in Davao City, is unapologetic about his human rights record, and recently admitted being behind the death squads in his turf many years ago.

New York-based Human Rights Watch counts about 1,000 killings attributed to Davao’s vigilante groups since the 1990s. A probe is reportedly underway in connection with Duterte’s possible involvement in killings in the city in 2009 attributed to the death squads. Duterte’s reaction: So sue me. His city, he said, is one of the safest in the world.

Davao City may not be safe for criminals, but neither is it safe for left-wing activists as well as the impoverished and homeless. Rights groups say the death squads, in an apparent effort to rid the city of pickpockets and other petty criminals, also target those whose biggest problem is poverty including street children.

READ MORE...
Short cuts to law enforcement enjoy support in a country with a weak criminal justice system, where crooks are rarely caught and litigation can take a lifetime. Many Filipinos no longer bother to report to police the snatching of jewelry or being mugged for a mobile phone, or losing aluminum ladders to burglars. In Duterte’s city, the impression is that no crime is too petty to be ignored by police, which is surely one of the reasons for his enduring popularity.

Short cuts, however, are prone to abuse and make for lazy law enforcement. Extrajudicial methods of fighting crime have no place in a free society. The answer to criminality, whether petty or serious, is not to kill offenders, as Duterte has openly endorsed, but to improve law enforcement and the administration of justice. People who support extrajudicial killings and other short cuts to justice will regret it only when someone dear to them is wrongly accused of a crime and is executed.


Leadership: Mar Roxas’ demeanor would disappoint Machiavelli. FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 28, 2015 - 12:00am


By Alex Magno

He drifts with the tide rather than command the waves. He waits rather than seizes the day. He would rather that power falls onto his lap, an inheritance rather than a trophy.

Last Tuesday, he finally addressed the matter of a presidential run– although only to thank President Aquino for mentioning he was at the “top” of his list of possible endorsees. He could have seized the moment to declare, although that might have been completely out of character.

If Roxas’ ratings in the voter preference surveys are unimpressive, it is likely because voters sense he is incapable of leadership. He does not shape outcomes. He waits for them to happen.

Roxas seems to treat the presidency as a birthright – not as the Holy Grail. He sees to be enamored with the idea of leading this country. But he does not crave for it. He seems unwilling to work for it.

A friend who was Mar’s colleague in a previous Cabinet described the man as indolent. He does not innovate. He does not take the initiative. He waits to be instructed. He role-plays.

I have interviewed cab drivers and other ordinary voters. When they say they will not vote for Roxas, I interrogate them extensively. None could clearly say why they fail to be attracted by an otherwise pervasive, extremely visible political personality.

This is the irony Mar must resolve as soon as possible. He has no problem with name recall. His namesake, the former president, is in all our peso bills. But he has a serious problem converting name recall to voter support.

READ MORE...
I suspect this is a problem caused by a certain inability on the part of Mar to project a real person. It is an inability aggravated by Mar’s previous public relations efforts. He has constantly been projected as something he is not: a tricycle driver, a wet market character, and all similar incarnations totally removed from the man’s real circumstances. Mar’s handlers, in trying to project him as a man of the masses, succeeded only in creating a hologram the people distrust.

It does not help that Mar insists on speaking in Tagalog. It is clear to the native speaker the man thinks in English and wrestles with impromptu translation. He misuses words – such as when he once repeatedly said “nasa hawak,” a transliteration of “in the hands of.”

Last Tuesday, speaking of Aquino’s quasi-endorsement, he used the word “tugon” as translation of “mention.” The correct word was “banggit” or even “sambit.”

His language is fake. Voters think the man is fake as well.

He has tried too hard to sound like the man on the street. The effort has backfired.

It is obvious he uses the language only for making public pronouncements, not for daily survival.

Decisiveness

No one has accused Mar Roxas of decisiveness. Unfortunately for him, this is the virtue voters want at this time, a reaction to the slapstick leadership Aquino provided the nation.

This is the reason Rodrigo Duterte has created excitement among our voters. We may disagree with his methods, but no one has yet accused Duterte of indecision. The mayor of Davao is unflappable – and also unstoppable when he wants something done.

Although he repeatedly denies seeking the presidency, Duterte has shot up in the rankings. That is a resounding commentary on the wishy-washy leadership Aquino has thus far provided us.

It might be premature to close the books on Mar Roxas’ uninspired political quest. Filipino politics retains its ability to pull surprises – although a Roxas presidency might be the surprise of all surprises.

If that political quest unravels, however, many analysts will point to the days following the Mamasapano massacre as the key point that might have saved, or doomed, Roxas’ political career.

Mar was left out of the loop, kept in the dark, while this ill-fated operation was being hatched. Machiavelli might have chosen this as the moment to resign from the post, establish some distance from the bungling Aquino presidency to avoid the backlash and set up the political movement that would propel him to the highest office.

But Mar is no Machiavelli.

He took the slight, stood by his disloyal master, waited for the anointment simply by being obsequious.

Mar has failed to make himself inevitable. He did not build the political movement that might propel him independent of what could, in the end, be a floundering presidency whose anointment is a kiss of death. He did not carve out a clear place in the sun for himself, content to present himself merely as a continuation of the same.

Uninspired, he has become uninspiring. He did not build himself up as the man on horseback to rescue the nation from mediocrity. He is content being the man-in-waiting, heir to all the mediocrity.

No one really remembers what great thing Mar Roxas has done as congressman or as senator. No one remembers what he did in two stints as Secretary of Trade or as Secretary of Transport and Communication or as Secretary of the Interior.

All we recall is the blur of political ads where Mar plays people other than himself. The only time he used Tagalog correctly was when he cussed during a political rally and when he bullied the staff at a golf course.

Oh yes, he gave up his presidential run once to accommodate a less qualified person and then snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he slid down to second fiddle. That did not fix him in the public mind as a winner.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE