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

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL: SHAMING THE SHAMELESS
[Epals are perceived to be shameless by nature so a shame campaign may not put an end to their credit grabbing. But the posts and tweets can have an impact on voters, especially if it is clear that a politician’s self-aggrandizement is done at taxpayers’ expense.]


Why would anyone want to put his name on someone else’s coffin?
Capas, Tarlac Mayor TJ Rodriguez apparently wants to make sure relatives of the dead would remember not just their dearly departed but also the person who donated the casket. Politicians will do anything, it seems, for name recall, especially with the general elections approaching. Does it constitute premature campaigning? The Commission on Elections says that since certificates of candidacy have not yet been filed, there is no premature campaign. Comelec officials also say they have no control over the so-called epals. Some groups are hoping to shame epals through social media. An election lawyer also says that those who use public funds for personal aggrandizement can face graft charges. Like efforts to ban or regulate political dynasties, any measure seeking to ban politicians from plastering their images and names on billboards to claim credit for state-funded projects is sure to face stiff opposition from lawmakers. READ MORE...

ALSO: A very noisy ‘microphone diplomacy’


By Marichu A. Villanueva China hurled stinging verbal attacks against the Philippines before a gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Speaking at the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (SPLOS), Chinese ambassador Wang Min accused the Philippines of trying to “deceive the international community” on our conflicting claims with them on overlapping territorial waters in the South China Sea. China has been insisting on its “nine-dash line” claims over the South China Sea which includes islands, islets, reefs and shoals owned by the Philippines and six other claimant countries. Latest news from the Associated Press yesterday quoted an official statement from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing that China would soon complete some of its land reclamation projects in the South China Sea. They did not say when but Beijing announced their infrastructure work in the disputed islands would continue. The Chinese ambassador, who headed his government’s delegation to the SPLOS meeting, reportedly could not even couch his anger with diplomacy amid the unwavering stand of the Philippines on its rightful claims on the contested areas. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Shared responsibility


The Earth is our common home, Pope Francis said, and protecting it is a common responsibility. Nothing short of a revolutionary change in lifestyles and the way the world conducts business can save the planet from the ruinous consequences of climate change, the pontiff said in a much awaited encyclical on the environment that was finally released the other day. In keeping with his concern for the world’s poorest, Francis said the poor are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. He dismissed doubts on the science behind global warming, and placed the blame for it on large swaths of society led by big businesses, energy companies, free market economists, certain scientists, and shortsighted politicians and media professionals. He also slammed individual indifference to the fact that the Earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” The encyclical was released several months ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris in November. Skeptics have doubted whether Pope Francis, for all his immense popularity, can bring significant changes in the way people treat the planet. But the pontiff has certainly sparked a lively debate on global warming. He has also made several admonitions that shouldn’t prove too complicated to follow. One is to wean ourselves from addiction to fossil fuels and transition to alternative energy sources. Another is to prepare the planet for future generations. Some of his pieces of advice seem simple enough: plant trees, turn off unnecessary lights, segregate and recycle waste, reduce water consumption and cook only what you can consume. Learn what you can do for the environment.

ALSO: The time is ripe to federalize our nation


By Bobit S. Avila
With Sen. Grace Poe embroiled with her residency problems that could put an end to her presidential ambitions for election year 2016, and aside from Vice President Jejomar Binay and DILG Sec. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, the next presidentiable we should get to know is the Davao City Mayor, who is selling something that the others don’t have…. federalism!
I’m always all ears when someone sells to me the idea of a Federal Philippines, which so many people, especially me and those from the Visayas and Mindanao believe is where we should all be headed for, instead of that unpopular stupidity called the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This is because federalism means changing our current dilapidated centralized system of governance, where nothing works anymore. Come now, do you want me to give you another litany of the problems of Metro Manila on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) or the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)? I’m sure you don’t want to hear anymore about this problem that only got worse when the Aquino regime took over five years ago with no solution in sight. Now that’s in the heart of Imperial Manila. In Metro Cebu the major traffic congestions are centered on four major intersections in Mandaue City. First at the corner of M. L. Quezon Ave. and Plaridel St., then another at the corner of Plaridel St. and United Nations Ave. along the Fernan Bridge, and the third one at the intersection of M.C. Briones St. (formerly Mandaue Highway) and United Nations Ave. or the corner of Metro Gaisano and finally at the intersection along M.C. Briones St. and A.S. Fortuna Ave. READ MORE...

ALSO: Are you happy? (In this country?)


By Sara Soliven de Guzman In his ‘True Decalogue,’ penned in 1898, Apolinario Mabini the first Prime Minister of the Philippines (under the Revolutionary Government and then under the First Philippine Republic) handed down a legacy which we seem to have forgotten. In these confusing times, Mabini’s words should continue to inspire us to love and protect our country from further exploitation: Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself; for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in life, the patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her thou hast life, love and happiness, honor and God… Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thy own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice, and of labor; For if she be happy, thou, together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy. The basic question we should ask ourselves is: Are we happy in this country? Happiness comes from within each of us. This is a fact. We are happy in the presence of our families and loved ones. We are happy with the things that give meaning to our lives. We are happy when we accomplish things at work. We are happy when we help people. But as we work hard to maintain a good balance in life, we suffer unnecessarily. READ MORE...

ALSO: HR violations to hound P-Noy in his last 


By Satur C. Ocampo
A month hence President Aquino will deliver his sixth and last state-of-the-nation address. However much he may embellish his administration’s achievements on the economy, anti-corruption drive and governmental reforms, he will be hounded by at least two unresolved issues: his “dismal record” on human rights and impunity and the Mamasapano tragedy.
Take the continuing incidences of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances – the prime indicators of the pervasive climate of impunity since the days of the Marcos dictatorship. In his first SONA (July 2010), P-Noy acknowledged that six EJKs had occurred in his first month in office – as he extended for six months the implementation of Gloria Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, which perpetrated a long train of killings and disappearances. He crowed that three of the latest cases had already been solved, and the other three would soon be solved as well. Then he promised to stop the killings. But he failed to fulfill that promise to the Filipino people. Under his administration the EJKs continued, although the cases of enforced disappearances dropped significantly (26 to date). On May 29, 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva reported on its second “universal periodic review” of the Philippines’ HR performance (the first was in 2008). Twenty-two member-states deplored the “dismal record” in prosecuting cases of EJK, enforced disappearances, and torture. They pressed the Aquino government to end the climate of impunity by taking “decisive measures” to stop the killings and other HR violations attributed to the AFP and PNP. By that time the number of documented cases under P-Noy’s watch (from July 2010 to May 2012), submitted to the UNHRC by the human rights alliance Karapatan, had reached 76 EJKs and 49 frustrated EJKs. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL: Shaming the shameless

MANILA, JUNE 22, 2015 (PHILSTAR) June 17, 2015 - Why would anyone want to put his name on someone else’s coffin?

Capas, Tarlac Mayor TJ Rodriguez apparently wants to make sure relatives of the dead would remember not just their dearly departed but also the person who donated the casket.

Politicians will do anything, it seems, for name recall, especially with the general elections approaching. Does it constitute premature campaigning? The Commission on Elections says that since certificates of candidacy have not yet been filed, there is no premature campaign. Comelec officials also say they have no control over the so-called epals.

Some groups are hoping to shame epals through social media. An election lawyer also says that those who use public funds for personal aggrandizement can face graft charges.

Like efforts to ban or regulate political dynasties, any measure seeking to ban politicians from plastering their images and names on billboards to claim credit for state-funded projects is sure to face stiff opposition from lawmakers.

READ MORE...

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has been pushing for the passage of a bill banning epals for some time now, with little progress. But perhaps the campaign against epals is not hopeless.

Recently, the National Movement for Free Elections launched “Election 2016 Pampam” in which people can post photos and video of epal cases on Facebook or tweet using the hashtag #pampam.

Epals are perceived to be shameless by nature so a shame campaign may not put an end to their credit grabbing. But the posts and tweets can have an impact on voters, especially if it is clear that a politician’s self-aggrandizement is done at taxpayers’ expense.

There will be time for campaigning and specific areas will be allotted for posting campaign materials. Even prospective candidates, especially those with limited funds whose rivals are incumbent officials, should welcome the movement against epals and premature campaigning. It will mean less campaign spending for everyone. It will also be good for the environment, with fewer walls defaced and less trash to collect. The Namfrel campaign deserves public support.


A very noisy ‘microphone diplomacy’ COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 17, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Marichu A. Villanueva

China hurled stinging verbal attacks against the Philippines before a gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Speaking at the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (SPLOS), Chinese ambassador Wang Min accused the Philippines of trying to “deceive the international community” on our conflicting claims with them on overlapping territorial waters in the South China Sea.

China has been insisting on its “nine-dash line” claims over the South China Sea which includes islands, islets, reefs and shoals owned by the Philippines and six other claimant countries.

Latest news from the Associated Press yesterday quoted an official statement from the Foreign Ministry in Beijing that China would soon complete some of its land reclamation projects in the South China Sea. They did not say when but Beijing announced their infrastructure work in the disputed islands would continue.

The Chinese ambassador, who headed his government’s delegation to the SPLOS meeting, reportedly could not even couch his anger with diplomacy amid the unwavering stand of the Philippines on its rightful claims on the contested areas.

Wang purportedly did not call the Philippines by its name and instead referred to it as “that country,” not just once but twice during his impassioned speech. He accused the Philippines of trying to deceive countries like the United States, Japan, and others to “pressure China into making compromises and concessions on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

READ MORE...

Wang reiterated China would only agree to bilateral negotiations on the disputed territorial waters as the most effective way for the peaceful settlement of the maritime disputes for the parties directly concerned. “Let me make this very clear to that country here, its calculations are totally wrong,” Wang ranted. “China will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by that country.”

The Chinese diplomat launched the salvos against the Philippines as the official response by China to the accusations during an earlier address before the world body by his Filipino counterpart, ambassador Lourdes Yparaguirre who reiterated the Philippine position on territorial claims.

Wang’s dig at the Philippines was perhaps just a continuation of Beijing’s fury from a much higher level. It came days after no less than President Aquino drew parallelism of China with Nazi Germany during World War ll (WWII).

In a formal speech during his state visit to Japan last week, President Aquino compared the threat the Philippines faces from China today to the one Czechoslovakia faced from Nazi Germany immediately before WWII.

Actually, this was the second time President Aquino described China’s being Nazi-like in its continuing annexation in South China Sea. He made similar remarks during an exclusive interview by a New York Times correspondent with him at Malacañang last year. The New York Times quoted President Aquino as saying. “At what point do you say, ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it – remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II.”

At that time, China’s Foreign Ministry rebutted the Philippine President’s comparison as “outrageous and unreasonable.”

President Aquino’s latest remark was made before he had official talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discussed with him greater Philippines-Japan defense cooperation ties. President Aquino disclosed this could include possible Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Japan, similar with what the Philippines has with the US.

But Japan also has territorial dispute with China, though far from the South China Sea. Beijing has long been in dispute with Tokyo over some uninhabited islands which China calls Diaoyu and Japan calls Senkaku. By the way, it was Abe who first made the Nazi-like allusion to China.

The Chinese embassy in Manila headed by ambassador Zhao Jianhua likewise decried President Aquino’s latest verbiage against China on our territorial dispute with them.

In so many words, he lashed at President Aquino for using the Tokyo trip to criticize Beijing’s land reclamation projects in South China Sea, forgetting Japan’s invasion of the Philippines and China during WWII.

While Chinese ambassadors retaliate with brave rhetoric, Beijing continues to ignore the filing last year by our country of a formal complaint before the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The complaint was precipitated by China’s continuing reclamation over islets, islands, reefs and shoals within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Criticized by foreign media for its bullying of smaller nations like the Philippines, China ironically is the one decrying us before the international community for having allegedly stirred tension in the disputed South China Sea region.

But we merely filed a formal complaint before the UN-backed Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague. China, on the other hand, issued a position paper arguing the tribunal has no jurisdiction to decide the case.

Nonetheless, the Philippines is preparing for the oral arguments in The Hague. According to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official spokesman Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the oral argument is scheduled on July 7 to 13.

The Philippines is represented by government-hired foreign legal counsel, Paul Reichler of Foley and Hoag LLP. The DFA said Malacañang will announce experts and lawyers who will represent the Philippine position. Thankfully, the South China Sea dispute has remained a word war that we have with China – a super power in this part of the world, both in military and economic terms.

Another Chinese diplomat Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said differences among countries should not be addressed by noisy “microphone diplomacy” that will not solve any problems. But I guess, it’s better to have noisy talks than engage in full-blown war where everybody loses, especially for a weaker country, militarily and economy-wise.


EDITORIAL - Shared responsibility (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 20, 2015 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

The Earth is our common home, Pope Francis said, and protecting it is a common responsibility. Nothing short of a revolutionary change in lifestyles and the way the world conducts business can save the planet from the ruinous consequences of climate change, the pontiff said in a much awaited encyclical on the environment that was finally released the other day.

In keeping with his concern for the world’s poorest, Francis said the poor are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. He dismissed doubts on the science behind global warming, and placed the blame for it on large swaths of society led by big businesses, energy companies, free market economists, certain scientists, and shortsighted politicians and media professionals. He also slammed individual indifference to the fact that the Earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

The encyclical was released several months ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris in November. Skeptics have doubted whether Pope Francis, for all his immense popularity, can bring significant changes in the way people treat the planet. But the pontiff has certainly sparked a lively debate on global warming.

He has also made several admonitions that shouldn’t prove too complicated to follow. One is to wean ourselves from addiction to fossil fuels and transition to alternative energy sources. Another is to prepare the planet for future generations. Some of his pieces of advice seem simple enough: plant trees, turn off unnecessary lights, segregate and recycle waste, reduce water consumption and cook only what you can consume. Learn what you can do for the environment.

READ MORE...

Other pieces of advice require government action, including the need to give priority to public transportation. Filipino car owners, for all their fondness for Pope Francis, will not take his advice to take the bus in crowded, polluted Metro Manila until the mass transportation system becomes efficient. Others may also balk at his admonition to reduce time spent on your smartphone and avoid “a sort of mental pollution,” or to build “real relationships” instead of relying on Internet communication.

But his voice may reach “those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the Earth” – the rich who exploit the poor and do not consider the impact of environmental degradation on the impoverished.

Pope Francis’ message should also make people believe they can make a difference. “We need one another,” he said. “We have a shared responsibility for others and the world.”


The time is ripe to federalize our nation SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 16, 2015 - 12:00am 1 406 googleplus2 0


By Bobit S. Avila

With Sen. Grace Poe embroiled with her residency problems that could put an end to her presidential ambitions for election year 2016, and aside from Vice President Jejomar Binay and DILG Sec. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, the next presidentiable we should get to know is the Davao City Mayor, who is selling something that the others don’t have…. federalism!

I’m always all ears when someone sells to me the idea of a Federal Philippines, which so many people, especially me and those from the Visayas and Mindanao believe is where we should all be headed for, instead of that unpopular stupidity called the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This is because federalism means changing our current dilapidated centralized system of governance, where nothing works anymore.

Come now, do you want me to give you another litany of the problems of Metro Manila on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) or the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)? I’m sure you don’t want to hear anymore about this problem that only got worse when the Aquino regime took over five years ago with no solution in sight. Now that’s in the heart of Imperial Manila.

In Metro Cebu the major traffic congestions are centered on four major intersections in Mandaue City. First at the corner of M. L. Quezon Ave. and Plaridel St., then another at the corner of Plaridel St. and United Nations Ave. along the Fernan Bridge, and the third one at the intersection of M.C. Briones St. (formerly Mandaue Highway) and United Nations Ave. or the corner of Metro Gaisano and finally at the intersection along M.C. Briones St. and A.S. Fortuna Ave.

READ MORE...

These are major roads that lead from Cebu City to the airport or the fabulous resorts of Mactan. I’ve been writing articles asking for flyovers over these intersections and nothing has happened… especially in the last five years under the Aquino regime. What is extremely painful for the people of Cebu… this includes Cebu City, Mandaue, Mactan and Cordova… is that all the local government officials are full blown supporters of Pres. Aquino and they got nothing for their canine fealty to this President!

So what has the 6th engineering district of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) done? They constructed an island to the tune of P24 million leading all the way to the old Mactan Bridge. What the heck do we need an island for (that narrows the road) when the problem there is traffic congestion? This is one of the pitfalls of having a centralized system which prevents the growth of Cebu. This is why we want Cebu to federalize!

So back to Mayor Duterte who is flying all over the Philippine archipelago. He’s been to Cebu three times since we met him on Jan. 29, 2015. So a good question to ask is who is funding the sorties of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte? Why am I asking this question?

In my book, a presidentiable must first pass the transparency test and if he won’t reveal who is paying for those plane rides… then Duterte would flunk his first test.

Now what about his plan for federalism? When he was with us last January in Cebu City he mentioned federalism in passing but did not give out any details on this concept that’s supposed to be new to Filipinos. So Mayor Duterte really has nothing on federalism. For those who want a federal form of government, you might as well contact my good friend, Dr. Jose “Pepe” Abueva who has a complete concept for a Federal Philippines.

Meanwhile I got this email when I first wrote a little note about Duterte last week. “Hi Bobit! I’ve read your column today and, just your previous ones that made references to politics, governance and presidential wannabes; you hit the nail on the head point blank.

I agree that ‘economic development plans’ of the aspirants should now be revealed by them and tossed upon in the open for our scrutiny. This will enable us to make the right decision whom to endorse, support and eventually vote for president next year.

Meanwhile, let me share you the speech of Mr. Levy Laus, chairman emeritus of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PAMCHAM) and of the Laus Group of companies, the biggest conglomerate in Central Luzon, which he delivered yesterday in San Fernando City, Pampanga in support of the advocacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte on Federalism who was the main speaker of Pamcham during their 49th general assembly.

Structural reform is what we need and federalism is the answer for a more rapid economic development in the countryside.

I remember pretty well that you are one of the more active advocates of federalism. Just like you, Mayor Duterte, Mr. Laus and the other reform-minded leaders, I am for federalism too.

And I pray that the next President would be someone who can level the playing field without being subservient to power brokers and self interest groups, someone who can bring about change in our political structure and governance. Very truly yours, Raul Lambino.”


Are you happy? AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven de Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 15, 2015 - 12:00am 0 30 googleplus0 1


By Sara Soliven de Guzman

In his ‘True Decalogue,’ penned in 1898, Apolinario Mabini the first Prime Minister of the Philippines (under the Revolutionary Government and then under the First Philippine Republic) handed down a legacy which we seem to have forgotten. In these confusing times, Mabini’s words should continue to inspire us to love and protect our country from further exploitation:

Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself; for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in life, the patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her thou hast life, love and happiness, honor and God… Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thy own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice, and of labor; For if she be happy, thou, together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.

The basic question we should ask ourselves is: Are we happy in this country? Happiness comes from within each of us. This is a fact. We are happy in the presence of our families and loved ones. We are happy with the things that give meaning to our lives. We are happy when we accomplish things at work. We are happy when we help people. But as we work hard to maintain a good balance in life, we suffer unecessarily.

READ MORE...

Our sufferings are caused by ‘poor’ governance. Ever since the Spaniards left in 1898 (after almost 400 years of colonization) and the Americans granted independence in 1946 (after 50 years of domination but still counting), the Philippine government has just worsened each year, making our lives miserable and unhappy.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) written in 1948 states our universal aspiration that is entrenched in the constitution of every nation that has fought for its own independence.

This right to freedom belongs to anyone regardless of race, gender, creed, class or caste:“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Every Filipino has the right to have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, safe roads for travel, health care, quality education, efficient transportation and communication systems, proper law enforcement with an honest and well-trained police force, safe and clean public parks, well-maintained public museums and libraries, efficient social services, public housing, a well-equipped armed forces, etc.

But why are we struggling as a nation to get these essential needs and services. Why do we continue to be at the mercy of our officials who have the audacity to put their pictures and names in bold letters in school buildings, gymnasiums, waiting sheds or in government vehicles that they do not even own. The money spent to get all of these is the people’s money.

Why are we at their mercy? Why do we need to beg?

So, going back to the question: Are you happy?

As a Filipino, yes, I am proud to be a Filipino. I love my country with all its beauty and splendour. But as a citizen who pays taxes, I am not happy. I work hard every single day to earn my keep but I am not getting efficient services from the government.

Simply put, the government is not prioritizing our needs. It has very poor management systems, unacceptable environments and many incompetent staff.

Why hasn’t government addressed our needs?

The air we breathe is so polluted; the water we drink outside of the city isn’t potable; the electricity and gas prices are so expensive (the most expensive in Asia and maybe even in the world); the broadband speed is the slowest in Asia; the traffic is unbelievable; public markets are very dirty; crime rate is high; public health care seems to have been abandoned; the justice system is so slow (the courtrooms are filthy and have turned into kitchens); poor infrastructures; bad airports and airline control systems (passengers suffer too much delays and cancellations, worst waiting inside the airplane due to air traffic); etc. I can go on and on and on, everything seems to be malfunctioning, defective and flawed.

Worst, our people are wounded. We are hurting.

Talk about independence, are we really free? We are not! Our leaders have continued the legacy left by our former colonizers. They continue to betray us. They continue to treat us like indios. They have no heart for the Filipinos.

Our leaders romp around in flashy cars and flaunt the wealth they have amassed at the expense of the ‘common tao’. Through time, they have become indifferent to the needs of every citizen. They have become immoral. And the problem is that we allow them to treat us this way; to fool us; to cheat us and to exploit us.

We are a gifted people full of love, talent and compassion. We should be proud of our heritage, our culture, our race. We should strengthen our national pride. We should continue to study our history so we can understand our people and our differences, read the stories of the past so we can better understand today, and build on our uniqueness to make this country great again.

We should demand for better governance to protect our rights as citizens of this country. We should not be prisoners of a corrupt nation. We should not be victims of our leaders who use their new platforms (projects, roadmaps) to exploit our resources.

Philippine Independence Day celebration reminds us of our dignity and pride as a nation. We should stand strong and united in protecting our sovereign country no matter how weak that nation is right now. It is our duty to serve and protect this nation. It is our duty to ourselves, to our children and to our future.

If you go around our archipelago (tagged as The Pearl of the Orient), you will know that God has given us a beautiful and bountiful country. Our leaders need to ‘recalculate’; rethink; relearn the role they chose to play. They should become selfless and display the spirit of patriotism.

Those we have voted into public office have amassed so much unexplained wealth, built their kingdoms in their bailiwicks and created private armies. Who are their enemies? Who are they afraid of? Why are they so paranoid? Clearly, there is something wrong and things have got to change.

Our country needs to be free from incompetent and corrupt leaders. Our lawmakers create and pass laws to protect their own interests. As they continue to get rich, we continue to become poor. You can very well see this happening in the cities and the provinces. Where are the promised roads, bridges, streetlights, water supply, irrigation systems? How much is the budget given to a province, a city or a barangay each year? What has happened to the money? Why don’t we see major improvements? Enough of the Conditional Cash Transfers which only conditions our people to beg all the more. Build more homes (for the poor outside the city), schools, bridges and highways. Introduce sustainable livelihood programs. All we see are the mansions and the estates of the senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and other officials. Their assets are the ones expanding while our country and its infrastructure continue to deteriorate. Susmariosep!


HR violations to hound P-Noy in his last SONA AT GROUND LEVEL By Satur C. Ocampo (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 20, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Satur C. Ocampo

A month hence President Aquino will deliver his sixth and last state-of-the-nation address. However much he may embellish his administration’s achievements on the economy, anti-corruption drive and governmental reforms, he will be hounded by at least two unresolved issues: his “dismal record” on human rights and impunity and the Mamasapano tragedy.

Take the continuing incidences of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances – the prime indicators of the pervasive climate of impunity since the days of the Marcos dictatorship.

In his first SONA (July 2010), P-Noy acknowledged that six EJKs had occurred in his first month in office – as he extended for six months the implementation of Gloria Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, which perpetrated a long train of killings and disappearances. He crowed that three of the latest cases had already been solved, and the other three would soon be solved as well. Then he promised to stop the killings.

But he failed to fulfill that promise to the Filipino people. Under his administration the EJKs continued, although the cases of enforced disappearances dropped significantly (26 to date).

On May 29, 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva reported on its second “universal periodic review” of the Philippines’ HR performance (the first was in 2008). Twenty-two member-states deplored the “dismal record” in prosecuting cases of EJK, enforced disappearances, and torture. They pressed the Aquino government to end the climate of impunity by taking “decisive measures” to stop the killings and other HR violations attributed to the AFP and PNP.

By that time the number of documented cases under P-Noy’s watch (from July 2010 to May 2012), submitted to the UNHRC by the human rights alliance Karapatan, had reached 76 EJKs and 49 frustrated EJKs.

READ MORE...

On Septermber 28, 2012 the UNHRC wound up its 21st session after hearing the Aquino government’s response-report. The government promised to comply with the Council’s recommendations to take decisive measures to end the impunity. Meantime, the number of EJKs had risen to 112, and frustrated EJKs, to 68.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima echoed that promise in a meeting with representatives of six international HR organizations she had invited to the Philippine embassy in Washington DC. The Aquino government, she assured, had “nothing to hide” and was taking steps to solve the EJKs and other HRVs.

The organizations were: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists, Ecumenical Advisory Network, International Justice Mission, and Migrant Heritage Commission. Since 2008 — after the first universal periodic review, which excoriated the Arroyo regime — they had blocked the release of $13-million US military aid until the Philippine government improved its human rights record.

De Lima’s assurances failed to erase their skepticism. And events have proved them right in not believing what she told them.

As of March 30, 2015, Karapatan’s report of documented HRVs shows: EJKs had more than doubled to 238, with a higher incidence of frustrated EJKs: 270.

The biggest numbers of victims were of peasants (145) and indigenous people (55) – whose struggles for land and ancestral domain have been largely met with military repression. The other EJK victims included minors (20), urban poor (13), workers and youth/students (8 each), environmentalists (7), Moros (6), fisherfolk, transport workers, and entrepreneurs (5 each), church and human rights workers, and media people.

In sum, President Aquino and his administration have reneged on their promises: both to the Filipino people – whom P-Noy has publicly declared as “my boss” – and to the international community. A veritable betrayal of public trust and disregard for human life.

Since the third UPR will be conducted during the waning months of P-Noy’s term, it would be too late to call him to account via that official world forum.

Thus, like-minded international HR advocates and progressive lawyers groups have decided to convene an International People’s Tribunal which, in “a symbolic and significant act,” will hear and issue a verdict on the indictment of President Aquino on EJKs and other HRVs.

Regarding Oplan Wolverine/Exodus and the Mamasapano tragedy, a separate indictment will charge him, along with President Obama (US agents were deeply involved in the covert operations), as principally accountable. The indictment will include American military presence and intervention under the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, as these entail violations of the right to national self-determination.

The “trial” before the IPT will be held in Washington DC on July 16-18 – just days before P-Noy’s sixth SONA on July 27. Australian Sen. Lee Rhiannon will be presiding judge while former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark will handle the prosecution.

The following will sit as jurors: Azadeh Shahshahani, president of the National Lawyers Guild (US); Camille Perez Bustillo, member of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Rev. Molefe Tsele, former South African ambassador and general secretary of the South African Council of Churches; and Rev. Malcolm Damon, executive secretary of the Economic Justice Network (South Africa).

The IPT takes after the Permanent People’s Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, which in 2007 issued a guilty verdict against Gloria Arroyo for crimes against humanity: EJKs, massacres, and torture of civilians committed, in collusion with George W. Bush, in pursuance of the US “war on terror.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE