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

FROM MANILA STANDARD

EDITORIAL:  CORRUPTION CONFIRMED
[THE CASE OF THE BBL PAYOLA]


PERHAPS someone in the administration should brief the governor of Mindoro, Alfonso Umali, that silence is golden.
On Monday, Umali all but confirmed what everyone else in the administration and the ruling Liberal Party were adamantly denying—that high officials from the Bureau of Immigration signed a release order for an alleged Chinese crime lord in exchange for millions of pesos in cash. In doing so, Umali, who is the Liberal Party treasurer and who claims a special relationship with President Benigno Aquino III, unwittingly exposed how crooked this government can be under the “straight path” policy of his boss. The impetus for Umali’s careless admission was his defense of two of his fellow Liberals, Immigration Deputy Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara, who were linked to the May 21 release order for the alleged crime lord, Wang Bo. “It’s Mison who made the deal with Wang,” Umali said, referring to Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison. “He turned the story around when the deal was discovered. Mison panicked.”  Addressing The Standard’s report Monday, which used anonymous sources, Umali said: “I will no longer ask who your source was. It’s Mison. Everything that he pinned on his deputies was what he actually did. That’s all his doing. He pinned it on [his two deputy commissioner] because he was exposed.”  Of course, Umali is not a disinterested party—he admits to being close to the two deputy commissioners, and had in fact vouched for them to the President. Repizo is also Umali’s personal lawyer. The governor said he had sent the President a report to expose Mison’s alleged illegal activities, and that the President told him not to worry because he believed him. READ MORE...

ALSO by Emil Jurado: Popularity gets into Grace’s head


VICE President Jojo Binay has boxing icon Manny Pacquiao on top of his list, among others, for the Senate slate next year. The boxing champion with no less than eight crowns under his belt will surely make it considering his popularity among the “masa” electorate. And with his billions of pesos, the “masa” will surely go for him. That’s what the voters expect from every candidate either for the presidency or the Senate. But, Santa Banana, he would be another Lito Lapid in the Senate, who recently confessed that his years in the Senate was a big embarrassment because of his lack of formal education, so much so that he often had to absent himself. The problem with people who are very popular is that they don’t know their limitations. For, my gulay, how in the world can Pacquiao perform in the Senate without a formal education? He can’t even speak straight English. Pacquiao wants to be a senator and then President in 2022? God forbid! Well at least, I may no longer be around seven years from now. * * *  Senator Grace Poe’s vote endorsing the sub-committee report of the Senate Yellow Ribbon Committee recommending the filing of graft and plunder charges against the Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay for the alleged overprice Makati City Hall parking building, speaks volumes. READ MORE...

ALSO by Jojo Robles: Pork, carrots and a stick


Jojo Robles is the executive editor of Manila Standard Today 
It can’t be all pork and carrots, or pork-based dishes with carrots on the side, after all. There must also be a stick that will make Congress quake in its boots and approve, without thinking of anything but its own thick hide, President Noynoy Aquino’s current favorite legislation, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. How else to explain the sudden energy displayed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in announcing that the cases against the so-called third batch of legislator-suspects in the old (but not forgotten) pork barrel scandal will soon be filed with the Office of the Ombudsman? Just a couple of weeks back, De Lima had announced that her Department of Justice had neither the time nor the inclination to pursue the charges. Then she turned around and declared that she did have both. And now I think I know why. It was Levi Baligod, the private prosecutor in the pork barrel cases, who confirmed my suspicions. “The threat of filing of the pork barrel cases has become a Sword of Damocles placed above the heads of members of Congress,” Baligod told me in an interview. According to Baligod, the pork barrel cases, which will purportedly be filed against up to nine incumbent senators and God-knows-how-many sitting members of the House of Representatives, are now obviously being used as “leverage” to gain Congress’ approval for the BBL. Malacanang is sending a clear and unmistakeable signal to Congress, through De Lima, that if they don’t vote in favor of the BBL, they would be charged for abusing their pork, either through Janet Lim Napoles or through other “pork entrepreneurs” who similarly bought up their allocations and kicked back the bulk of the funds to them. READ MORE....

ALSO by Alejandro Del Rosario:  A defining moment for Senator Marcos


Steering the Senate committee on local government which is reviewing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is proving to be a defining moment for Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as he served notice there would be no railroading of the measure under his stewardship. Unless the BBL’s legal infirmities are removed and the interests of all stakeholders in the proposed autonomous region are taken into account, Marcos does not see the Senate passing the bill before Congress adjourns on June 11. This is so unlike the indecent haste with the way the House approved the measure at the ad hoc committee level chaired by Rep Rufus Rodriguez. A House plenary-approved BBL goes to the Senate for bicameral conference during which the measure will be further examined. But even before the bicam, the BBL already encountered opposition in the Senate when 12 senators signed the committee on constitutional amendments report of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who found the proposed measure patently infirm. By conducting the Senate hearing—both in-house and in the hinterlands of the affected autonomous region, Marcos got an insight how indigenous people like the Lumads and the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu were never consulted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process during the government’s negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Senator Marcos has his eye on history and he’s fully aware the nation is watching the denouement of this divisive issue. He wants peace in Mindanao after four decades of violence and neglect, but he wants peace that is enduring and equitable to all the people in the region. READ MORE...

ALSO: That palace meeting
[There was not much left to discuss. The only thing noteworthy taken up before it broke up was a statement made by Aquino to Roxas. “Mar, you should take both Grace and Chiz with you when you go around the country,” the President said. And that was how the meeting ended, according to the sources. Both Poe and Roxas were astounded by Aquino’s compromise, even if they did not openly protest.]


President Noynoy Aquino is torn between his “presumptive” anointed successor and Liberal Party colleague Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe. And to make matters worse, Aquino also doesn’t know what to do with Poe’s best friend, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, whom the neophyte senator will not abandon, not even for a chance to be the President’s chosen presidential or vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections. Some people have gotten it into their heads that Senator Grace Poe has already been persuaded by President Noynoy Aquino to run for President as his chosen successor, which is why she is now engaged in a bitter and very public exchange of thinly-disguised barbs with Vice President Jejomar Binay. The truth of the matter is, Aquino has given no commitment to support Poe – and it’s not because the President isn’t seriously considering her as Malacanang’s anointed. Early last month, Aquino called for the one-on-one meeting with Senator Grace Poe at Malacanang Palace. Poe didn’t know why she was summoned at the time she accepted the invitation, but the real purpose for the meeting became clear before it finally ended, according to very reliable sources who knew the details of the palace visit. As private meetings with the President go, it was pretty much par for the course, these sources said. Aquino beat around the bush before getting to the point, and then came up with a bizarre idea all by himself at the very end, leaving the people he was talking to scratching their heads. At first, Poe wondered what the meeting was all about because Aquino couldn’t seem to get to the point early in the conversation. The President, it seemed, was willing to talk to her about anything except substantial matters, as if he was afraid to broach a very difficult subject. Finally, Poe decided to take the bull by the horns, the sources said, mainly because she was getting impatient. She assumed that she had been called by the President to discuss the scathing final report on the Mamasapano massacre, which she authored as head of the Senate committee on public order. After Poe had raised the subject, Aquino opened his desk and took out his own copy of the Senate report. It had many handwritten notes on it, as if Aquino had taken it upon himself to personally edit Poe’s controversial report. READ MORE...

ALSO: Not-so-honest Poe


The next president of this country must hit the ground running soon after being elected, given the many problems the next President must confront. We should have a leader who already knows the intricacies of the position and not rely on advisers who may have a different agenda. Senator Grace Poe believes differently, saying that honesty is foremost in the presidency. Observers say that this is a swipe against the Vice President who is being accused of corruption. But now it’s on record that Senator Grace is not yet qualified to be president or vice president, being six months short of the residency requirement. In her certificate of candidacy when she ran for the Senate in 2013, she indicated that her period of residency in the Philippines had been for six years and six months. And counting her three-year term at the Senate, it means that she is still short of the mandated period of 10 years for a natural-born citizen (granting her parents were natural-born) a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election. Now, Santa Banana, I would like to ask Grace if she is being honest with the people, and even to herself. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

Corruption confirmed

MANILA, JUNE 8, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) Jun. 03, 2015 at 12:01am - PERHAPS someone in the administration should brief the governor of Mindoro, Alfonso Umali, that silence is golden.

On Monday, Umali all but confirmed what everyone else in the administration and the ruling Liberal Party were adamantly denying—that high officials from the Bureau of Immigration signed a release order for an alleged Chinese crime lord in exchange for millions of pesos in cash.

In doing so, Umali, who is the Liberal Party treasurer and who claims a special relationship with President Benigno Aquino III, unwittingly exposed how crooked this government can be under the “straight path” policy of his boss.

The impetus for Umali’s careless admission was his defense of two of his fellow Liberals, Immigration Deputy Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara, who were linked to the May 21 release order for the alleged crime lord, Wang Bo.

“It’s Mison who made the deal with Wang,” Umali said, referring to Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison. “He turned the story around when the deal was discovered. Mison panicked.”

Addressing The Standard’s report Monday, which used anonymous sources, Umali said: “I will no longer ask who your source was. It’s Mison. Everything that he pinned on his deputies was what he actually did. That’s all his doing. He pinned it on [his two deputy commissioner] because he was exposed.”

Of course, Umali is not a disinterested party—he admits to being close to the two deputy commissioners, and had in fact vouched for them to the President. Repizo is also Umali’s personal lawyer.

The governor said he had sent the President a report to expose Mison’s alleged illegal activities, and that the President told him not to worry because he believed him.

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Mison, on the other hand, denies Umali’s accusations and points to official records that show Repizo was the one who pushed for Wang’s release.

Mison said he was willing to face any inquiry and testify that Chinese Embassy officials had told him that Repizo and other Immigration officials had met with a representative of Wang, and after that meeting, they pushed for the issuance of a release order.

Regardless of who is telling the truth, there is one thing both sides agree on: money changed hands at the highest levels in the bureau to effectively block the deportation of a wanted international fugitive.

This stunning revelation alone is reason enough to question the President’s straight-path rhetoric.

Umali’s claim that he sent a report to the President also links Mr. Aquino to the entire sordid affair, and compels him to explain what action he took upon learning of the high-level corruption in his own administration.

This assumes, of course, that the President knew nothing of the agreement, and that the money wasn’t in fact used to bribe congressmen into supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which Mr. Aquino seems hell-bent on ramming through Congress.

Given this administration’s track record of using bribery and intimidation, however, we can assume nothing and must should probably brace ourselves for even more disturbing revelations.


Popularity gets into Grace’s head By Emil Jurado | Jun. 02, 2015 at 12:01am

VICE President Jojo Binay has boxing icon Manny Pacquiao on top of his list, among others, for the Senate slate next year.

The boxing champion with no less than eight crowns under his belt will surely make it considering his popularity among the “masa” electorate. And with his billions of pesos, the “masa” will surely go for him. That’s what the voters expect from every candidate either for the presidency or the Senate.

But, Santa Banana, he would be another Lito Lapid in the Senate, who recently confessed that his years in the Senate was a big embarrassment because of his lack of formal education, so much so that he often had to absent himself.

The problem with people who are very popular is that they don’t know their limitations. For, my gulay, how in the world can Pacquiao perform in the Senate without a formal education? He can’t even speak straight English. Pacquiao wants to be a senator and then President in 2022? God forbid! Well at least, I may no longer be around seven years from now.

* * *

Senator Grace Poe’s vote endorsing the sub-committee report of the Senate Yellow Ribbon Committee recommending the filing of graft and plunder charges against the Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay for the alleged overprice Makati City Hall parking building, speaks volumes.

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Poe has apparently convinced herself that with her popularity as the adopted daughter of the late movie icon Fernando Poe Jr., only she can beat Binay. Insiders tell me that up to this day, she hasn’t decided to be the running mate of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive annointed one of President Aquino and the ruling Liberal Party.

Grace had said that she was more comfortable with a Grace Poe-Chiz Escudero tandem as independents. Apparently, she believes that with her popularity and also that of Chiz, they can win. Besides, as analysts and observers say, since Poe is more popular than Mar Roxas, why should she settle for the vice presidency?

Clearly, as the days pass by till the May 2016 polls, the popularity of Grace Poe, who topped the 2010 senatorial polls, coupled with the widely-held belief that she may be the only candidate who can beat Binay, has gone to her head.

There is no doubt that Grace, who uses the Poe name and not of her husband’s family name of Llamanzares, is popular and if we can believe poll surveys, she may even top Binay’s ratings, especially with the ongoing demolition work against the Vice President, which will surely shift into high gear until next year.

But, popularity is not all there is to winning elections. Grace should have the learned a lesson from FPJ himself in the 2004 polls.

FPJ was extremely popular and was believed to be invincible as a candidate against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. But while it’s a given that FPJ was favored against GMA, the actor ran out of funds in the last two weeks of the 2004 polls as people from many provinces, especially from Cebu, lined in front of FPJ’s headquarters to beg for funds, which had dwindled by then.

Thus, GMA won in 2004 with Cebu giving her a million votes. Of course, there was also the Iglesia Ni Cristo which supported GMA with its 3 million votes. That, my dear Grace, is the reality of presidential elections in our country which has no less than 12 million people who consider themselves poor. Local and national elections are for them the only time they could get back at politicians by selling their votes.

How do you think the “Dagdag Bawas,” “Bawas Dagdag” scandal started? It started when some senatorial candidates were cliff-hanging on Nos. 13 and 14 after the votes were counted, when these cliff-hangers had to pour in money with the help of the many “Garcis” at the Comelec to add to their votes and deduct them from other winning candidates. Again, that’s a fact of life in elections in our country, my dear Grace.

As a journalist for 65 years, I have seen people lining up in precincts but do not vote until the last hour. These people wait for representatives of candidates to hand out money to them. These things happen even in urban centers like Makati. That again, is a fact, my dear Grace.

The point I am driving at is that presidential elections get costlier every year. It is now said that if a presidential candidate does not have at least P3 billion, he or she may as well forget it. That’s the reason why many popular national and local candidates lose. Even movie stars have lost, my gulay.

And without a nationwide party, an independent candidate are bound to lose. For one thing, independents without a party have no poll watchers. And more importantly, contributions go only to political party candidates who are assured of victory. Yes, contributions also go to independents, but only as tokens and in trickles, if at all.

The point I am driving at is that popularity is no guarantee for winning in a national or local elections. Voters would rather go for competence and experience, and honesty, of course.

But, Santa Banana, funding becomes crucial since the bulk of our electorate are the “masa,” or the people who think only of two things: “What’s in it for me and my family,? or “Can this or that candidate make my life better?” This is a sad fact in a country like the Philippines where poverty and joblessness appear to have no solution.

* * *

It would do well for both President Aquino and members of the Senate to junk the idea for a meeting to discuss the fate of the constitutionally-infirmed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Despite all the denials of the deputy spokesperson of the President, also known as Lady Gaga, that members of the House of Representatives were not bribed when the President met them not once but twice to vote the BBL into the plenary, who in his right mind would believe this?

This is because all of a sudden, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his cohorts changed their tune and railroaded the BBL’s passage. Santa Banana, now it has become clear that there really was bribery!

On the part of the senators, whose mandate was to enact laws that can withstand the Supreme Court’s scrutiny, why should they allow themselves to be summoned by the President to discuss the BBL? What for, so that Malacanang can dangle pork barrel allotments for their favorite projects, which seems to be a practice of the President in getting what he wants from Congress?

Besides, Congress is supposed to be a co-equal and co-independent body from the executive. Thus, the senators meeting with the President to discuss the BBL would render the separation of powers of government as myth and fiction.

The BBL may not be enacted by June 11 in time for the President’s SONA or State-of-the-Nation-Address where Mr. Aquino can boast of his legacy to the nation, but for such an important law affecting the nation, why rush it?


Pork, carrots and a stick By Jojo Robles | May. 28, 2015 at 12:01am


Jojo Robles is the executive editor of Manila Standard Today

It can’t be all pork and carrots, or pork-based dishes with carrots on the side, after all. There must also be a stick that will make Congress quake in its boots and approve, without thinking of anything but its own thick hide, President Noynoy Aquino’s current favorite legislation, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

How else to explain the sudden energy displayed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in announcing that the cases against the so-called third batch of legislator-suspects in the old (but not forgotten) pork barrel scandal will soon be filed with the Office of the Ombudsman? Just a couple of weeks back, De Lima had announced that her Department of Justice had neither the time nor the inclination to pursue the charges.

Then she turned around and declared that she did have both. And now I think I know why.

It was Levi Baligod, the private prosecutor in the pork barrel cases, who confirmed my suspicions. “The threat of filing of the pork barrel cases has become a Sword of Damocles placed above the heads of members of Congress,” Baligod told me in an interview.

According to Baligod, the pork barrel cases, which will purportedly be filed against up to nine incumbent senators and God-knows-how-many sitting members of the House of Representatives, are now obviously being used as “leverage” to gain Congress’ approval for the BBL. Malacanang is sending a clear and unmistakeable signal to Congress, through De Lima, that if they don’t vote in favor of the BBL, they would be charged for abusing their pork, either through Janet Lim Napoles or through other “pork entrepreneurs” who similarly bought up their allocations and kicked back the bulk of the funds to them.

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“The really sad part is, all those cases can stand up on their own merits,” Baligod told me. “If Secretary De Lima really wanted to file them, she could have done so a long time ago.”

How long ago? Well, Baligod said he and his fellow anti-pork crusaders have submitted the documents to the National Bureau of Investigation as early as a year and a half ago, in January of 2013. But because that was already just a few months before the midterm elections, he and his group agreed with government prosecutors that the accusers could themselves be accused of using the filing of charges for political purposes.

So the anti-pork groups held off and agreed to wait until July, two months after the polls, to restart their crusade. But since then, nothing has been heard from De Lima or the NBI, until the justice secretary suddenly declared that she didn’t have the time to pursue the cases – and just as suddenly said she had.

Why, after all, would De Lima take such an interest in the dormant pork barrel cases at this time, when Congress is deliberating on the BBL – in the plenary in the House and on the committee level in the Senate? “It’s simple: if they don’t vote in favor of the BBL, then they will be charged,” Baligod said.

* * *

Congress, of course, would rather that everyone just move on about the pork barrel cases. Judging from the allegations made by Napoles alone, the pocketing of pork was such a multi-partisan, bicameral activity that the number of legislators who participated in the scam could beat even the “super majority” that the Aquino administration regularly calls upon to pass its priority bills or support its congressional initiatives.

So, the members of Congress really have a choice in the matter of the BBL: they can approve it and receive the reported pork and cash promised by a grateful Malacanang, or they can say no to BBL and be charged with corruption by De Lima before the Ombudsman.

And, with less than a year before the next election, what congressman or senator doesn’t need funds to campaign? What member of Congress needs to be charged before the Ombudsman – and possibly even get jailed like those three high-profile senators now behind bars?

If you believe that Congress really abused the pork that the palace so liberally gave out in the past, it’s easy to conclude that any senator or congressman offered this indecent proposal will almost instinctively choose the money and the projects (which really means more money). After all, as many legislators will willingly admit in private – but never declare in public – the BBL’s final approval really rests with the Supreme Court, which will decide the eventual cases to be filed in the event the law passes.

So why not make Malacanang happy by just voting in favor of the proposed law and getting some much-needed campaign funds besides? Who wants to be the hero and be charged for past pork abuse and drag the bribe-givers in the palace (who also want to move on about the scandal) into the revived controversy in the bargain?

And this is why I believe the BBL will pass. The pork-laced carrots are just too appealing – and the stick (or sword) just too threatening – ignore.


A defining moment for Senator Marcos By Alejandro Del Rosario | May. 30, 2015 at 12:01am

Steering the Senate committee on local government which is reviewing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is proving to be a defining moment for Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as he served notice there would be no railroading of the measure under his stewardship. Unless the BBL’s legal infirmities are removed and the interests of all stakeholders in the proposed autonomous region are taken into account, Marcos does not see the Senate passing the bill before Congress adjourns on June 11.

This is so unlike the indecent haste with the way the House approved the measure at the ad hoc committee level chaired by Rep Rufus Rodriguez. A House plenary-approved BBL goes to the Senate for bicameral conference during which the measure will be further examined. But even before the bicam, the BBL already encountered opposition in the Senate when 12 senators signed the committee on constitutional amendments report of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who found the proposed measure patently infirm.

By conducting the Senate hearing—both in-house and in the hinterlands of the affected autonomous region, Marcos got an insight how indigenous people like the Lumads and the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu were never consulted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process during the government’s negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Senator Marcos has his eye on history and he’s fully aware the nation is watching the denouement of this divisive issue. He wants peace in Mindanao after four decades of violence and neglect, but he wants peace that is enduring and equitable to all the people in the region.

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The young Marcos has been thrust into a role where he is showing statesmanship, so unlike those who conceptualized the flawed framework peace agreement that formed the basis of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

One dimensional

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will have to widen his vocabulary and not limit himself to the word “kill.” He can’t use the word all the time in dealing with criminality. It makes him look one dimensional. It is not enough to threaten young thugs with grievous bodily harm by saying he would break their bones if they don’t straighten up.

Duterte could strike the right chord if he advocates a return to the death penalty instead, an issue which has gained resonance with the citizenry and victims of heinous crimes. This is a better platform for Duterte to stand on than being cop, judge and executioner at the same time. Admitting his links to the dreaded Davao Death Squad, Duterte gave the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights reason to revisit these cases that these two agencies had already forgotten.

“Do I have links with the death squad? True. If I become president the body count will be higher from 1,000 to 100,000 because I’ll kill all the criminals and throw them in Manila Bay to fatten the fish,” said Duterte in one fell swoop of self-destruction. He should know there’s also a law against polluting the waters in the bay. His handlers must be having a public relations nightmare on how to rein in Duterte who’s turning out to be a loose cannon, or more appropriately, a loose firearm.

“Dirty Rudy” can learn from another mayor known as the local “Dirty Harry” whose presidential bid ended in defeat.

While criminality is a major problem, there are other issues and concerns a President must deal with such as foreign affairs, defense and security, the economy, the national budget to fund public works and infrastructure, social services and the salaries of those in the bureaucracy.

Does Duterte have any global outlook at all? We have yet to hear him speak out against Chinese bullying in the West Philippine Sea and on what to do with our damaged ties with Beijing.These are serious problems affecting the security and economic well- being of the Republic, concerns that Duterte should start studying soon if he wants to lead the nation.

In fairness, Duterte has a point when he lashed back at the New York-based Human Rights Watch which sought his investigation for the extrajudicial killings of criminals by vigilantes in his city.

“These hypocrites should first look at the human rights violations of racist white policemen against African-Americans before they criticize me,” fumed Duterte referring to incidents of black suspects being shot dead by police in Ferguson (Missouri), New York and more recently in Baltimore, Maryland.

AMLC attention caught

Meanwhile, the Anti-Money Laundering Council which made public the undeclared 242 bank accounts of Binay and his alleged dummies clarified its finding was based on the required monthly reports of large transactions submitted to the AMLC by all the banks. The unusually large movement of money –millions deposited and withdrawn on the same day - attracted the AMLC’s attention so that it asked the Court of Appeals to freeze the Binay assets and accounts.

The VP’s nemesis, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, presented a paper trail of his former boss’ bank transactions handled by alleged Binay bagman Gerry Limlingan at Thursday’s continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing looking into official malfeasance in Makati.

The Vice President claims only five of those 242 accounts are his. The other accounts are owned by people Binay described as legitimate businessmen. Limlingan and Binay’s former secretary Ebeng Baloloy cannot be located despite arrest warrants issued on the basis of a Senate subpoena.

It would be interesting to see how the AMLC report would affect the poll rankings of Binay, Poe and Duterte in the next Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia surveys.


That palace meeting By Jojo Robles | Jun. 04, 2015 at 12:01am

President Noynoy Aquino is torn between his “presumptive” anointed successor and Liberal Party colleague Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe. And to make matters worse, Aquino also doesn’t know what to do with Poe’s best friend, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, whom the neophyte senator will not abandon, not even for a chance to be the President’s chosen presidential or vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections.

Some people have gotten it into their heads that Senator Grace Poe has already been persuaded by President Noynoy Aquino to run for President as his chosen successor, which is why she is now engaged in a bitter and very public exchange of thinly-disguised barbs with Vice President Jejomar Binay. The truth of the matter is, Aquino has given no commitment to support Poe – and it’s not because the President isn’t seriously considering her as Malacanang’s anointed.

Early last month, Aquino called for the one-on-one meeting with Senator Grace Poe at Malacanang Palace. Poe didn’t know why she was summoned at the time she accepted the invitation, but the real purpose for the meeting became clear before it finally ended, according to very reliable sources who knew the details of the palace visit.

As private meetings with the President go, it was pretty much par for the course, these sources said. Aquino beat around the bush before getting to the point, and then came up with a bizarre idea all by himself at the very end, leaving the people he was talking to scratching their heads.

At first, Poe wondered what the meeting was all about because Aquino couldn’t seem to get to the point early in the conversation. The President, it seemed, was willing to talk to her about anything except substantial matters, as if he was afraid to broach a very difficult subject.

Finally, Poe decided to take the bull by the horns, the sources said, mainly because she was getting impatient. She assumed that she had been called by the President to discuss the scathing final report on the Mamasapano massacre, which she authored as head of the Senate committee on public order.

After Poe had raised the subject, Aquino opened his desk and took out his own copy of the Senate report. It had many handwritten notes on it, as if Aquino had taken it upon himself to personally edit Poe’s controversial report.

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Aquino then started a discussion with Poe about the wording of the report, similar to the objections raised by Senate President Franklin Drilon. Aquino wanted to make the strong language condemning the Aquino administration’s failings in the incident more neutral.

Poe politely refused to accede to Aquino’s requests to re-word the report. Aquino put his copy back in his desk.

And then he finally opened up on the real reason for calling Poe to a meeting: he wanted to know if she was willing to be his standard-bearer.

* * *

While they were talking politics, Roxas suddenly entered the room, the sources said. But Aquino waved him away, telling him to return to the room in a few minutes.

What follows has already been reported in the media. Aquino could not give a real commitment and Poe, while flattered at being considered, could not commit to joining Aquino, as well.

There was also the matter, Poe told the President, of Escudero, whom the senator said had been a great help to her during the 2013 senatorial campaign, advising her on where and how to campaign and even providing her with the aircraft she needed to get around; Poe told the President that she would not do anything without Escudero, who is widely believed to be eyeing the vice presidential slot with Poe if she runs for President.

Sometime during this discussion, Roxas once again entered the room. The President did not wave him away this time and he stayed for the rest of the meeting.

There was not much left to discuss. The only thing noteworthy taken up before it broke up was a statement made by Aquino to Roxas.

“Mar, you should take both Grace and Chiz with you when you go around the country,” the President said.

And that was how the meeting ended, according to the sources. Both Poe and Roxas were astounded by Aquino’s compromise, even if they did not openly protest.

After all, the meeting was called only to discuss Poe’s plans for the top two positions being contested next year. They did not understand why Aquino would want all three of them to go around campaigning.

Aquino still hasn’t made his mind up, to this day. Perhaps sometime soon, he will realize that he only needs one presidential candidate and one vice presidential candidate.


Not-so-honest Poe By Emil Jurado | Jun. 04, 2015 at 12:01am

The next president of this country must hit the ground running soon after being elected, given the many problems the next President must confront.

We should have a leader who already knows the intricacies of the position and not rely on advisers who may have a different agenda.

Senator Grace Poe believes differently, saying that honesty is foremost in the presidency. Observers say that this is a swipe against the Vice President who is being accused of corruption.

But now it’s on record that Senator Grace is not yet qualified to be president or vice president, being six months short of the residency requirement.

In her certificate of candidacy when she ran for the Senate in 2013, she indicated that her period of residency in the Philippines had been for six years and six months. And counting her three-year term at the Senate, it means that she is still short of the mandated period of 10 years for a natural-born citizen (granting her parents were natural-born) a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election.

Now, Santa Banana, I would like to ask Grace if she is being honest with the people, and even to herself.

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When confronted with the lack of residency, she said the people will decide. My gulay, if people aspiring to be president or vice president cannot even comply with the Constitution, we may as well throw the fundamental law of the land in the trash can.

Grace, honest? What baloney!

* * *

A member of the government peace panel, former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani (who has a plantation in Maguindanao) now says that the passage of the controversial and constitutionally-flawed Bangsamoro Basic Law is no guarantee for final peace in Mindanao.

This is contrary to all the statements from President Aquino and his conscripted peace panel head Miriam Coronel Ferrer and peace adviser Teresita Deles. They have been telling us that with the peace process in place, there would no longer be “body bags” to consider. There would be peace. This also goes against what the President’s peace council, headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, has been saying that with the enactment of the BBL, there will be peace, finally, in Mindanao.

Bacani’s reaction was the answer to Senator Ralph Recto’s question on whether a new group could possibly emerge to spoil the peace process. After all, the government has only been talking to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and not to all stakeholders.

Bacani’s statement goes along with what I have been saying that the passage of the BBL is no guarantee for peace in Mindanao. My doubts are based on what I know of Moro culture and history of tribal origins, where guns and power hold sway.

That’s also the reason that I concur with former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s suggestion for a Constitutional Convention to draft a law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. This may take some time, but my gulay, why are we rushing a peace process which has an impact on sovereignty and national interest?

Final peace in Mindanao, my foot!

* * *

The Standard Poll survey shows that most Filipinos do not trust China. That’s to be expected since China has for quite some time now been bullying the country with its massive reclamations in the West Philippine Sea.

The question now is: will the distrust have any impact on China’s militarization of the China Sea? The answer is a big NO.

So, the tension between China and the Philippines, likewise with other claimants, continues, aggravated by the entry of the United States that it would defend the Philippines and the international waters of South China Sea.

I don’t know how far will this “poker play” of the US and China will go, but I can only say that when elephants fight, it is the ants that are trampled upon.

Sure, China may just be flexing its economic and military might as a super-power in this part of the world. But, considering the fact that the South China Sea is a vital maritime area where most of the oil from the Middle East passes through to the United States and Japan, will the US just sit idly by and do nothing? That’s the big problem.

* * *

Santa Banana, it has been almost five years since the Supreme Court ruled that some 900 Customs personnel (over half of them have since retired) manning the arrivals and departures of domestic and foreign airlines beyond the mandated eight-hour work hours by government personnel should be paid their overtime, transport and meal allowances.

Up to this date, it has been promises and more promises, but no pay.

What makes it worse is that there has been a “rigodon” of four Customs commissioners, and yet the Board of Airline Representatives continues to refuse paying.

The problem is that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Customs commissioners have not lifted a finger to follow what the High Court has mandated.

Are the Finance Department and the Bureau of Customs are now in the payroll of the airlines?

Thoughts on the peace process



Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/85271/thoughts-on-the-peace-process#ixzz3bN6kWGYJ
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