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

FROM PHILSTAR

THE PCOS IS TOO INACCURATE AND IT IS EXPENSIVE
[What we need in this country today is a reformed Comelec that would act on their mandate to give clean and honest elections for the Filipino people instead of kowtowing to their appointing masters.]


JULY 11 ---By Bobit Avila
Kudos to these brave souls, Archbishops Romulo De la Cruz of Zamboanga, Arch. Oscar Cruz of Lingayen, Arch. Rolando Tirona of Caceres, Arch. Fernando Capalla Archbishop Emeritus of Davao and Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles, supported by Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan, Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Bishop Filomeno Bactol of Nava, Pastor Art Corpuz with former Senator Kit Tatad and former Rep. Glenn Chong and Greco Belgica who won his case with the SC against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The five Archbishops, three Bishops, a Pastor, a former Senator and a former Congressman filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order seeking to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s unconstitutional juggling of billions in taxpayer’s money intended to lease with option to purchase some 93,977 purportedly new Optical Mark Reader or a sort of clone to the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. This supposedly new purchase by the Comelec for 93,977 Optical Mark Readers/PCOS machines would cost P12.641 billion, which the petitioners say is in gross violation of the 2015 General Appropriations Act specifically on Art. VI Section 25 (5) of the 1987 Constitution. This supposedly new purchase means that the Comelec would totally discard or junk the 81,000 PCOS machines that were used in the 2010 and 2013 national elections at a great cost to the tune of P9 billion of taxpayer’s money. READ MORE...

ALSO: Selective rage


JULY 11 BY ANA MARIE PAMINTUAN---SOURCED PHOTO APPENDED BY PHNO ---Meet Philippine President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III. He’s 50, never married, and enjoys his presidency like a child. posted on CommunityOnBuzzfeed by empressmaruja .......... Friendship, loyalty and, to a certain extent, party alliances clearly count for P-Noy. So we can’t expect him to show rage either and start firing people over the atrocious services in the DOTC. This department has become a symbol of paralysis and incompetence in the Aquino administration, with allegations of corruption thrown in. DOTC services touch people from all classes – from wealthy owners of luxury vehicles who see their long-awaited license plates ruined by floods, to bus and jeepney drivers and regular commuters of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). Whether they’re tooling around in a Jaguar or a scooter, drivers are incensed by the inefficiency. As long as he keeps his friends, however, it seems P-Noy is willing to take flak for selective rage. READ COLUMN BY ANA MARIE PAMINTUAN FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Vulnerable populations
[Poverty has made Filipino women vulnerable to recruitment as drug mules and sex workers by international crime rings. Sexual exploitation and abuse have also been reported in disaster zones in the Philippines, such as the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.]


JULY 11 ---As World Population Day is marked today, it’s encouraging to be informed that poverty has been cut by half worldwide in the past decade. A study, however, showed that several billions – a hefty 71 percent of the global population – remain poor. The United Nations Population Fund also points out that about 60 million people worldwide have been displaced by conflicts and other emergencies.
Those numbers include Filipinos displaced by typhoons and other natural calamities as well as armed conflict not only in Mindanao but also in other parts of the country. More may be displaced by political violence, which is escalating with the approach of the general elections. In marking World Population Day today, the UNFPA wants to raise awareness of the plight of vulnerable populations in emergency situations, with emphasis on women and girls. The UNFPA is supporting programs to assist women and girls to maintain their dignity in emergencies, keep them safe, and provide or restore their access to sexual and reproductive health care. In the Philippines, girls have been trafficked for sex even before reaching their teens. READ MORE...

ALSO: Money and machines will decide 2016
[Discarding the automated system, however, will require Congress to repeal the law. Will Congress do it? Not likely. The LP needs the PCOS machines to win. But will people accept the results if the elections are a farce?]


JULY 11 ---By Carmen N. Pedrosa 
To my great surprise, my column last Sunday ‘Letter from VP Binay’ went viral on the Internet. It was shared on numerous postings. By a conservative account, it was read by more than three million viewers. It was liked by hundreds of thousands. Later I was invited to appear on TV5 in ReAksyon program of Luchie Cruz-Valdes. I was asked whether I did not give proper recognition in my reply to the Makati social programs instituted by then mayor Jojo Binay. While recognizing his efforts, I felt what he had accomplished cannot be considered as a favor to Makati residents. All mayors are expected to provide benefits in education and healthcare to their constituents, that is why they are voted into office. Basic needs in areas like education, health, housing, and so forth constitute what former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said are part of human rights, as former human rights lawyer Jojo Binay should know. They should not be treated as entitlements mayors can grant or withhold at mere discretion in exchange for political considerations. To be fair to Binay, not everything he did as a mayor is negative. However, this is not the point. Referring to his accomplishments does not excuse him from satisfactorily answering the allegations of corruption leveled at him by the Senate or from attending its hearings. The people have a perfect right to know whether a candidate to the presidency has the moral integrity to lead the nation. They have a perfect right to know whether they will be voting for another Ramon Magsaysay or another Ferdinand Marcos. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Abusing the system


JULY 11 ---With corrective laser surgery costing about P30,000 per eye, it may be plausible for an eye doctor to claim P50 million a year in health insurance payments from the state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. The amount would be the average earning of each of the 10 physicians, nine of them eye doctors, who claimed a total amount of P500 million from PhilHealth last year.
PhilHealth officials, who are looking into the claims, noted that one of the eye doctors, who claimed P36 million, passed the licensure exam only last year. Some reports said mere eye drop treatments were passed off as major surgeries. PhilHealth officials also said some patients were made to undergo unnecessary cataract surgeries so doctors could make higher claims, with one patient going blind because of the procedure. PhilHealth has been expanding its coverage to the poor, and they are the biggest losers when doctors make padded or fraudulent claims. The state health insurer can be expected to conduct a more thorough scrutiny of claims, which can slow down the payment process. Fraudulent claims also take away funds that can be used for more benefits especially for impoverished patients. Last year PhilHealth paid P78 billion in health insurance claims, with P7 billion for pneumonia, P3 billion for dialysis, P3 billion for caesarean section procedures and P2 billion for cataract operations. READ  MORE...

ALSO: Bad start for Philippine disaster risk reduction
[Incidentally, the Philippines observes July as the National Disaster Consciousness Month. Former President Joseph Estrada issued Executive Order No. 137 in 1999 declaring July of every year as “National Disaster Consciousness Month.”]


JULY 8 ---By Marichu A. Villanueva 
By this time, Typhoon Egay shall have exited the Philippines. But another one is brewing, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather forecasters. The new tropical storm – locally named “Falcon” but with international name of Chan-Hom – was expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility any time last night. Fortunately, the past five typhoons we had this year, including “Egay,” did not wreak enormous damage. Thank God! But with the onset of the rainy season, PAGASA alerted us to brace for stronger typhoons ahead. Before “Egay” came, an obviously man-made calamity struck Leyte anew when a motorized boat capsized last Thursday (July 2), killing 62 people as of yesterday’s count, while 145 other passengers were rescued alive. Leyte is no stranger to tragedy, especially from natural calamities that often visit the province, which is located in the country’s typhoon belt. In November 2013, more than 7,000 residents perished in the storm surge brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Under the current classification by PAGASA, all cyclones with winds exceeding 118 kilometers per hour (kph) are classified as typhoon. The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center describes a tropical cyclone of at least 130 knots – or with wind speed of around 240 kph– as a “super typhoon.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: God, country, family
[Ethical governance is a big moral issue in our society today. The role of every government is to serve and protect its people and its sovereignty. There are only a few cities in this country that live up to good governance. The rest continue to make government a ‘family’ business as they continue to hold on to that power, ever possessive, never wanting to let go!]


JULY 6 ---By Sara Soliven de Guzman
AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven de Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 6, 2015 - 12:00am 0 180 googleplus0 1 When you take your oath as a public servant shouldn’t your priorities change? What should a public official serve first – country or family? I think the Binays got it all mixed up. Why are they all fighting to save their family?  The Binays have created a monster out of their cause last week. They brought out the worst in them for the public to talk about. “Arrogance” is the best description for them as expressed by Winnie Monsod last week. Who do they think they are? I guess when you rule for such a long, long time in a place (like Makati) it becomes “thy kingdom come” and everyone who benefits from them will always bow to them and say “thy will be done.”  I’ve heard several stories about their leadership from people in the streets. That yellow card of Makati is a passport to heaven but if you do not follow their rules and summons you’ll find yourself in hell. According to the grapevine, every barangay has a “Binay” group leader who has a list of everyone in the barangay. When the Binays need the people for a rally, they are called in two shifts (morning and night shift). During the shifts, their presence is important. They are given meals and then are paid (P300-500) after. They sign up in what they call a “payroll” list after receiving their ‘payola’. Of course, when confronted, no one will admit to all these stories because they are scared. If they don’t comply, their yellow cards, the Makati Health Plus card (that entitles beneficiaries to free outpatient consultations and subsidized in-patient care in the fields of surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics, ENT, Ophthalmology, dermatology and orthopaedics at the city-run Ospital ng Makati or OSMAK) will be taken away. Well, these are allegations spoken by the people of Makati. Are all these true? READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

The PCOS is too inaccurate and too expensive!


By Bobit S. Avila

MANILA, JULY 13, 2015 (PHILSTAR) SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila  | Updated July 9, 2015 - Kudos to these brave souls, Archbishops Romulo De la Cruz of Zamboanga, Arch. Oscar Cruz of Lingayen, Arch. Rolando Tirona of Caceres, Arch. Fernando Capalla Archbishop Emeritus of Davao and Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles, supported by Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan, Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Bishop Filomeno Bactol of Nava, Pastor Art Corpuz with former Senator Kit Tatad and former Rep. Glenn Chong and Greco Belgica who won his case with the SC against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The five Archbishops, three Bishops, a Pastor, a former Senator and a former Congressman filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order seeking to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s unconstitutional juggling of billions in taxpayer’s money intended to lease with option to purchase some 93,977 purportedly new Optical Mark Reader or a sort of clone to the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

This supposedly new purchase by the Comelec for 93,977 Optical Mark Readers/PCOS machines would cost P12.641 billion, which the petitioners say is in gross violation of the 2015 General Appropriations Act specifically on Art. VI Section 25 (5) of the 1987 Constitution. This supposedly new purchase means that the Comelec would totally discard or junk the 81,000 PCOS machines that were used in the 2010 and 2013 national elections at a great cost to the tune of P9 billion of taxpayer’s money.

READ MORE...

But granted those Comelec officials are not corrupt… however, spending P9 billion of taxpayer’s money to lease with options to purchase those PCOS machines despite numerous proofs of inaccuracies, surely someone ought to file criminal cases against the present crop of Comelec officials for sheer waste of taxpayer’s money. Surely Smartmatic should have given the Filipino people guarantees for reliability and accuracy. But they never did!

In comparison, I purchased my PC and a laptop five years ago and they are still in great working condition…yet I used these devices everyday, morning, noon and evening. But the Comelec purchased those PCOS machines for P9 billion and they were only used twice and now they tell us that they are beyond repair? I dare say that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should investigate the Comelec for buying those super delicate machines. I can’t imagine paying for my PC and laptop good money for it to work only two times! I’m sure you would be just as appalled as I am!

Sure the manual voting may have taken too long to count…but at least we are sure that our votes were surely counted. But the vote count via PCOS machines may have been lightning fast…but not a single voter can claim that he or she was very sure that his vote was counted. I hope that under Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista he would steer the Comelec to assure the Filipino voter that their votes would be counted.

I have written this piece so many times before that during the 2010 Presidential elections where the PCOS machines were used for the first time, A little town called Compostela, some 25 kilometers north of Cebu City had a very hotly contested vote count via PCOS machines between incumbent Mayor Joel Quiño and reelectionist Ritchie Wagas.

A recount was ordered by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Estela Singco of Branch 55 in Mandaue City that revealed Ritchie Wagas winning over the incumbent Mayor Joel Quiño. But then the May 2013 elections were already upon us… and Ritchie Wagas no longer wanted to take his post. But it was enough to prove that the PCOS machines are totally inaccurate! This is why I exhort the Comelec to start cleaning those old ballot boxes and prepare the nation for a manual vote count for the 2016 Presidential elections.

Incidentally, there was a feeble attempt last June 30th to have these PCOS machines repaired when the Comelec had a bidding for their repair that would have cost P2 Billion…but somehow by some sleigh of hand, the Comelec announced that the bidding was a failure. I suspect this was purposely done so that the Comelec would now go into the bidding for the new PCOS machines, which now cost P12.641 billion bucks!

What we need in this country today is a reformed Comelec that would act on their mandate to give clean and honest elections for the Filipino people instead of kowtowing to their appointing masters.

It’s a shame that it is the Comelec that cheats for politicos using the PCOS machines! So let’s go back to manual voting and regain our dignity! We are proud to say that we are Asia’s first Democracy…but long how the Comelec conducts our elections?

They waste our taxpayer’s money spending billions on voting machines that any IT programmer can tweak so that the results would favor certain political parties or politicians. We should end this stupidity once and for all!


Selective rage SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 10, 2015 - 12:00am 2 47 googleplus0 0


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

Egay and Falcon are not super typhoons, but look at the havoc they are wreaking: roads are melting again in the rain, and – another first under tuwid na daan – there are reports that several brand-new vehicle license plates are also disintegrating in the floods.

Because of the problems with the new license plates, the folks who thought they were lucky after getting their driver’s licenses are now worried that the cards, which are thinner than the old ones, may also fade or deteriorate quickly and look fake.

President Aquino, early in his term, fired meteorologist Prisco Nilo as administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. P-Noy, according to reports, was irked after being roused from sleep by the howling wind and pounding rain brought by Typhoon Basyang, when PAGASA had forecast that Metro Manila would be spared.

Nilo, who was reassigned to an obscure office at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), opted to retire from government service three months later, ending a 26-year career as a state meteorologist. He said PAGASA forecasting equipment needed to be modernized. This was eventually done, with the government acquiring, among others, Doppler radars for accurate rainfall forecasting – but by that time, a long career had been ruined and the nation had lost one of its handful of meteorologists.

The wrong forecast on Basyang caught Metro Manila unprepared and cost lives and damage to property, so there was reason for P-Noy to be mad as hell. But will he ever show the same rage – and swift action to sack the person responsible -– over disastrous services, such as in the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)?

Unfortunately for the public, we all know this is not the case.

* * *

Even back in July 2010, when P-Noy was in a firing mood just over a month into his presidency, there were speculative reports that Nilo was sacked ASAP because Science Secretary Mario Montejo wanted to install his own man as PAGASA head. Because P-Noy was still enjoying a honeymoon period with critics at the time, the speculation did not gain traction.

But Nilo’s case would later be revisited each time P-Noy held on to erring officials known to be close to him, or looked the other way in the face of incompetence.

P-Noy’s reluctance was palpable before he finally let go of his shooting buddy Rico Puno as undersecretary of the interior, amid insinuations of impropriety in a weapons procurement deal for the police. What has happened to this case? P-Noy showed the same reluctance in letting go of another shooting buddy, Virginia Torres, who quit as head of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) after photos and video footage surfaced showing her playing the slot machine in a gambling arcade. Palace officials defended her by saying there’s a difference between an arcade and a casino.

Then there was the disastrous initial response to Super Typhoon Yolanda, when P-Noy’s entire team ran around like headless chickens. If P-Noy got mad as hell at any of his officials, he didn’t show it.

Neither did he rage or fire anyone over the Disbursement Acceleration Program, although this is understandable since he went along with it, and continued defending it – together with its creator, Budget Secretary Butch Abad – long after the DAP had been scrapped by the Supreme Court.

The latest case of friendship running deeper than national interest is P-Noy’s reluctance to let go of his long-time security aide Alan Purisima. The head of daang matuwid ignored a suspension order of the Office of the Ombudsman over a corruption case and allowed his favorite cop to run a risky counterterrorism operation that cost the lives of 44 police commandos. By most accounts, Purisima also continued to call the shots in the PNP even while under six-month preventive suspension.

Even after the raid had derailed the peace process, P-Noy remained true to his friend, pinning the blame on the commander of the Special Action Force who was promptly sacked, and refusing to this day to name a permanent replacement for Purisima as chief of the Philippine National Police.

There are reports that P-Noy had hoped to appoint Purisima’s favored successor, Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, as the new PNP chief. But Petrasanta, who heads the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office, was dismissed by the ombudsman a week ago together with Purisima and nine other police officials over the corruption case involving a courier service for gun licenses. So perhaps we’ll finally have a new PNP chief soon.

* * *

Friendship, loyalty and, to a certain extent, party alliances clearly count for P-Noy.

So we can’t expect him to show rage either and start firing people over the atrocious services in the DOTC.

This department has become a symbol of paralysis and incompetence in the Aquino administration, with allegations of corruption thrown in.

DOTC services touch people from all classes – from wealthy owners of luxury vehicles who see their long-awaited license plates ruined by floods, to bus and jeepney drivers and regular commuters of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT). Whether they’re tooling around in a Jaguar or a scooter, drivers are incensed by the inefficiency.

The poor service is fueling criticism that the DOTC has been turned into a milking cow by the Liberal Party, whose acting president heads the department, and who has been spared from indictment in the MRT mess.

Malacañang has yet to release the findings of the Department of Justice on allegations of a $30-million extortion attempt also implicating the MRT management.

For daang matuwid, there are enough reasons to accept resignations over the mess in the MRT and the release of license plates, registration stickers and driver’s license cards.

As long as he keeps his friends, however, it seems P-Noy is willing to take flak for selective rage.


 

EDITORIAL - Vulnerable populations (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 11, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

As World Population Day is marked today, it’s encouraging to be informed that poverty has been cut by half worldwide in the past decade. A study, however, showed that several billions – a hefty 71 percent of the global population – remain poor.

The United Nations Population Fund also points out that about 60 million people worldwide have been displaced by conflicts and other emergencies.

Those numbers include Filipinos displaced by typhoons and other natural calamities as well as armed conflict not only in Mindanao but also in other parts of the country. More may be displaced by political violence, which is escalating with the approach of the general elections.

In marking World Population Day today, the UNFPA wants to raise awareness of the plight of vulnerable populations in emergency situations, with emphasis on women and girls.

The UNFPA is supporting programs to assist women and girls to maintain their dignity in emergencies, keep them safe, and provide or restore their access to sexual and reproductive health care.

In the Philippines, girls have been trafficked for sex even before reaching their teens.

READ MORE...

Poverty has made Filipino women vulnerable to recruitment as drug mules and sex workers by international crime rings. Sexual exploitation and abuse have also been reported in disaster zones in the Philippines, such as the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Apart from creating an environment conducive to job-generating economic activities, the government has also pushed for responsible parenthood as one of the measures to address poverty. President Aquino managed to achieve the difficult task of getting Congress to pass the Reproductive Health Law, but its implementation continues to be snagged at every step by its opponents. The biggest losers, as in the past before the law was passed, are impoverished women, who lack the access to reproductive health care that is enjoyed by their affluent counterparts.

The world has made progress in many population issues. But there is still too much work ahead, and an endless stream of emergencies that take their toll on vulnerable populations.


Money and machines will decide 2016

FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 11, 2015 - 12:00am 0 7 googleplus0 0


By Carmen N. Pedrosa

To my great surprise, my column last Sunday ‘Letter from VP Binay’ went viral on the Internet. It was shared on numerous postings. By a conservative account, it was read by more than three million viewers. It was liked by hundreds of thousands.

Later I was invited to appear on TV5 in ReAksyon program of Luchie Cruz-Valdes. I was asked whether I did not give proper recognition in my reply to the Makati social programs instituted by then mayor Jojo Binay.

While recognizing his efforts, I felt what he had accomplished cannot be considered as a favor to Makati residents. All mayors are expected to provide benefits in education and healthcare to their constituents, that is why they are voted into office. Basic needs in areas like education, health, housing, and so forth constitute what former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said are part of human rights, as former human rights lawyer Jojo Binay should know. They should not be treated as entitlements mayors can grant or withhold at mere discretion in exchange for political considerations.

To be fair to Binay, not everything he did as a mayor is negative. However, this is not the point. Referring to his accomplishments does not excuse him from satisfactorily answering the allegations of corruption leveled at him by the Senate or from attending its hearings. The people have a perfect right to know whether a candidate to the presidency has the moral integrity to lead the nation. They have a perfect right to know whether they will be voting for another Ramon Magsaysay or another Ferdinand Marcos.

READ MORE...

That Binay has difficulty finding a running mate for vice president with an untarnished reputation of honesty and integrity sows doubts about his credibility.

That his good friend Grace Poe chose to sign the Senate report recommending he be charged with plunder is in itself disturbing.

All these cannot help but affect Jojo Binay’s candidacy. A presidential campaign in our corrupt system is a multi-billion undertaking.

Even FVR, who is acknowledged to have spent the least in the history of recent presidential campaigns, had to cough up P400 million.

UNA’s Toby Tiangco admitted Binay’s campaign finances are drying up due to the slow trickle of contributions from donors. The bank accounts of their associates have been frozen.

UNA is not the only one experiencing financial difficulties. NP’s Cynthia Villar said her party has no money to finance the presidential or vice presidential bids of Bongbong Marcos, Alan Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes.

Judging by their 2014 SALNs, only Bongbong appears to have the resources to finance his campaign because of the Marcos wealth. According to former PCGG chairman Andy Bautista, they have recovered some $4 billion of the estimated $5 billion the Marcoses took out. This still leaves the Marcoses with a billion dollars, mostly in the form of priceless paintings that have disappeared.

If the nearly 10,000 human rights victims of the Marcos regime institute another suit in the Philippines to enforce the $2.35 billion awards by US courts and it prospers with the quiet push of the Aquino government, the Marcoses will find themselves in the poor house.

Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero have neither the organization nor the money to run as independent candidates for the presidency and vice presidency. You need an organization to win and machinery costs money.

This only leaves the LP. It has the organization, money, above all the Smartmatic-PCOS automated machines. Its only problem is to make its expected standard bearer Mar Roxas become winnable. Mar has been consistently at the bottom of opinion polls.

Mar’s poor showing is why the LP continuously courts Grace Poe to be his VP running mate. It needs badly a celebrity to lift Mar to justify his ultimate election as president with the help of the PCOS machines that any programmer can tamper without the public being wiser.

This is why the battle regarding the PCOS machines is crucial. Retaining them can pre-program election results. Discarding them by returning to a manual system of voting and counting provides reassurance given our political culture.

Rene Azurin wrote me:

“Thanks for the mention in your column yesterday, Chit. I just saw it today and it’s much appreciated! (I am surprised, though, that you were able to get hold of that private email message of mine to a few select AES Watch members).

For your info, I never left the ‘automated election system debate.’ Although I was immobilized and in a daze for months following the passing of my son Mikah, I remained part of AES Watch’s planning core and contributed whenever I could via email and private messages.

For your clarification re the ‘hybrid system,’ you should know that resorting to electronic transmission and canvassing is intended to eliminate the traditional ‘dagdag-bawas’ which (as you know) happens during the painstakingly slow progress of the Election Returns (ERs) from precinct to municipality to province to national canvassing center, as occurs in a completely manual system.

Simultaneous electronic transmission – to municipality, province, Comelec national, citizens’ independent counting groups, media, and the public (via a public website) – of precinct results removes the delay that allows this “dagdag-bawas’ to happen. Further, the instantaneous uploading of precinct outcomes to several publicly viewable canvassing servers allows verification and audit to ensure that results tallied at the precinct are consistent with results uploaded to the canvassing servers.

If you are present at your precinct and make note of the outcomes there, you can instantly verify, through a public website or via independent citizens’ watchdog groups, that the result at your precinct was correctly uploaded to the national canvassing servers (without ‘dagdag-bawas’).

Moreover, in the ‘hybrid’ system we are proposing, all transmissions will be supported by digital signatures – which the Comelec has refused to implement in their Smartmatic system (for obviously malicious reasons) – that will ensure that all precinct results transmitted originate from a legitimate, verifiable source (the authorized BEI chairman) and that they have not been altered during transmission. Though this is a ‘techie’ subject, please be assured that this is critical and thus ensures the integrity of the system.

The sad part is that Comelec seems to be just going through the motions of considering other systems, but will eventually end up with the Smartmatic system anyway. Note that they have already reversed their earlier ruling disqualifying Smartmatic. It’s all part of the ‘zarzuela’ they are staging to fool the public.

In that event, your question in your column becomes most appropriate: Why vote at all?”

Discarding the automated system, however, will require Congress to repeal the law. Will Congress do it? Not likely. The LP needs the PCOS machines to win.

But will people accept the results if the elections are a farce?


EDITORIAL - Abusing the system (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 8, 2015 - 12:00am

With corrective laser surgery costing about P30,000 per eye, it may be plausible for an eye doctor to claim P50 million a year in health insurance payments from the state-owned Philippine Health Insurance Corp. The amount would be the average earning of each of the 10 physicians, nine of them eye doctors, who claimed a total amount of P500 million from PhilHealth last year.

PhilHealth officials, who are looking into the claims, noted that one of the eye doctors, who claimed P36 million, passed the licensure exam only last year. Some reports said mere eye drop treatments were passed off as major surgeries. PhilHealth officials also said some patients were made to undergo unnecessary cataract surgeries so doctors could make higher claims, with one patient going blind because of the procedure.

PhilHealth has been expanding its coverage to the poor, and they are the biggest losers when doctors make padded or fraudulent claims. The state health insurer can be expected to conduct a more thorough scrutiny of claims, which can slow down the payment process. Fraudulent claims also take away funds that can be used for more benefits especially for impoverished patients.

Last year PhilHealth paid P78 billion in health insurance claims, with P7 billion for pneumonia, P3 billion for dialysis, P3 billion for caesarean section procedures and P2 billion for cataract operations.

READ MORE...

Health care in this country is so expensive the bulk of one’s salary can be eaten up by treatment for degenerative diseases such as diabetes. An employee nearing retirement can see his life savings wiped out if he suffers a stroke and requires long-term therapy. For millions of Filipinos, a blocked heart valve is a death sentence; life-prolonging heart surgeries are beyond their reach.

Greater PhilHealth coverage is a boon to millions, and fraudulent claims steal from those who need state-funded health care most. The nation badly needs doctors and other health professionals. But there must be no room in a noble profession for those who abuse the system and pocket benefits meant for the less privileged.


Bad start for Philippine disaster risk reduction COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 8, 2015 - 12:00am 2 4 googleplus0 0


By Marichu A. Villanueva

By this time, Typhoon Egay shall have exited the Philippines. But another one is brewing, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather forecasters.

The new tropical storm – locally named “Falcon” but with international name of Chan-Hom – was expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility any time last night.

Fortunately, the past five typhoons we had this year, including “Egay,” did not wreak enormous damage. Thank God! But with the onset of the rainy season, PAGASA alerted us to brace for stronger typhoons ahead.

Before “Egay” came, an obviously man-made calamity struck Leyte anew when a motorized boat capsized last Thursday (July 2), killing 62 people as of yesterday’s count, while 145 other passengers were rescued alive.

Leyte is no stranger to tragedy, especially from natural calamities that often visit the province, which is located in the country’s typhoon belt. In November 2013, more than 7,000 residents perished in the storm surge brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Under the current classification by PAGASA, all cyclones with winds exceeding 118 kilometers per hour (kph) are classified as typhoon. The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center describes a tropical cyclone of at least 130 knots – or with wind speed of around 240 kph– as a “super typhoon.”

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Our own PAGASA has also adopted since May this year the category of “super typhoon.” PAGASA said a cyclone with sustained winds of more than 220 kph would be classified a super typhoon.

Using the term super typhoon is expected to escalate the sense of urgency and community response, PAGASA pointed out.

While not an official term recognized before by PAGASA, super typhoon has become a household word following Yolanda, the most powerful storm yet that hit the country.

Under PAGASA’s revised system, tropical cyclones will have five classifications: tropical depression (61 kph); tropical storm (62 to 88 kph); severe tropical storm (89 to 117 kph); typhoon (118 to 220 kph); and super typhoon.

In using this new category of cyclones, PAGASA explained, “the revision aims to emphasize the intensity of a tropical cyclone and the threat of its impacts.” After adopting this fifth category of super typhoon, PAGASA also increased the current public storm warning signals from 1 to 5, with 5 as the highest alert based on the wind velocity that may trigger deadly storm surges.

The storm signals from PAGASA are the basis used by local government and school officials to declare suspension of classes and work in both government and private sector. As early as possible, mayors and school administrators announce in media, especially through radio and TV, the suspension of classes as well as offices in local governments in areas severely affected by floods and thunderstorm.

Early announcement of suspension of classes must be made, especially for young schoolchildren so that they will no longer take the risk of going to school at the height of storm and get caught in flood.

That is why Malacañang became a butt of media ridicule when it belatedly announced the suspension of work in national government agencies in the National Capital Region two hours before office hours closed last Monday. The suspension of work, except in agencies with disaster-related functions, was issued under Memorandum Circular 77 signed by President Aquino.

The Palace announcement said the President issued the suspension of work order based on the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. In fairness to the President, obviously the delay originated from the NDRRMC. All that time, the President was meeting with his Cabinet at Malacañang to go over the final make of the proposed 2016 national budget.

Checking with our field reporters, I found out NDRRMC executive director retired Philippine Navy chief Alexander Pama is on “personal leave” for two weeks. Pama’s absence should be no excuse because his deputy, retired Gen.Romeo Fajardo, must take charge.

Though a minor miscue of the NDRRMC, it gives a bad signal on how our disaster risk reduction system works.

Only last June 22, the Philippines took over the chairmanship of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Support Group. Alexandre Fasel, permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, officially handed the chairmanship of the ISDR Support Group to Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, Philippine permanent representative to the UN.

The Philippines, represented by ambassador Rebong, formally assumed the role this month in the Geneva-based UNISDR. The chairmanship is said to be in recognition of the Philippines’ disaster risk reduction initiatives as well as its vast experience in disaster response, recovery and rehabilitation.

Jerry Velasquez, the chief of section at the UNISDR, - – the only Filipino who holds this key job in Geneva – assists her. The Philippines played an active role in negotiating the Sendai Framework or the action plan to implement the strategy on disaster risk reduction by countries around the world. The Sendai Framework covers 15 years from 2015 to 2030.

Incidentally, the Philippines observes July as the National Disaster Consciousness Month. Former President Joseph Estrada issued Executive Order No. 137 in 1999 declaring July of every year as “National Disaster Consciousness Month.”

This is not to say July is disaster-prone month. Perhaps it was just coincidence one of the biggest disasters we saw in the country was the magnitude 7.8 Luzon earthquake in July 1990. The Metro Manila Development Authority will hold simultaneous earthquake drills on July 30 to boost preparations in schools, offices and at homes for a magnitude 7.2 quake feared in Metro Manila areas under the so-called West Valley Fault.

Such disaster risk reduction in large-scale preparations should redeem the Philippines as being ahead, not delayed in preventing loss of lives.


God, country, family


By Sara Soliven de Guzman

AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven de Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 6, 2015 - 12:00am 0 180 googleplus0 1 When you take your oath as a public servant shouldn’t your priorities change? What should a public official serve first – country or family? I think the Binays got it all mixed up. Why are they all fighting to save their family?

The Binays have created a monster out of their cause last week. They brought out the worst in them for the public to talk about. “Arrogance” is the best description for them as expressed by Winnie Monsod last week. Who do they think they are? I guess when you rule for such a long, long time in a place (like Makati) it becomes “thy kingdom come” and everyone who benefits from them will always bow to them and say “thy will be done.”

I’ve heard several stories about their leadership from people in the streets. That yellow card of Makati is a passport to heaven but if you do not follow their rules and summons you’ll find yourself in hell. According to the grapevine, every barangay has a “Binay” group leader who has a list of everyone in the barangay.

When the Binays need the people for a rally, they are called in two shifts (morning and night shift). During the shifts, their presence is important. They are given meals and then are paid (P300-500) after. They sign up in what they call a “payroll” list after receiving their ‘payola’.

Of course, when confronted, no one will admit to all these stories because they are scared. If they don’t comply, their yellow cards, the Makati Health Plus card (that entitles beneficiaries to free outpatient consultations and subsidized in-patient care in the fields of surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics, ENT, Ophthalmology, dermatology and orthopaedics at the city-run Ospital ng Makati or OSMAK) will be taken away. Well, these are allegations spoken by the people of Makati. Are all these true?

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Actually, many uninformed people of Makati think that every service given to them is directly from the Binays. Little do they know that those gifts or services come from the City of Makati, from the tax-payers.

If the Binay family and their supporters feel that they are above the law and want to wage a war with the Filipino people, they must realize that many would dearly accept the challenge. Something must be done to put a complete stop to the Binays’ insult on the democratic rights of the people for proper and honest governance. The Binay family has become a total embarrassment to the government and the country.

To a public servant, country comes first before family. I find it amusing to hear the VP in his recent tirade against the administration at the UNA proclamation last week say, “Una ang bayan! Una ang tao! Una ang Pilipino! (The country first! The people first! The Filipino first!). How ironic!

The scuffle that broke out after police tried to serve the Ombudsman suspension order for Makati Mayor Junjun Binay last week revealed the true character of VP Binay. What troubled me was the confrontation between the VP and Sr. Superintendent Elmer M. Jamias of the Southern Police District.

The exchange of words initiated by the VP in a condemning manner was unbecoming of a vice president and a would-be presidential candidate. This also reminds me of the same arrogance shown by Mayor Junjun with the Dasmariñas Village security guards (sometime in 2013) when his car was stopped and he told them, “Don’t you know me?”

If you think about it, I’ve seen many instances in television where Senator Nancy Binay and Congresswoman Abigail Binay also exude the same type of arrogance – all singing the same tune of protecting their family and questioning the law. Why do they feel such entitlement?

All these incidents are a preview to the type of president and first family we may have in this country come 2016 if Binay wins. A Catholic priest even said it is a “scary prospect.” Why? Simply because he is bound to continue the popular Filipino tradition of patronage politics.

Yes, if Binay wins, he will continue to defend his family, friends, and allies even when they break the law. The vicious cycle will never end. Just like all the ‘trapos’ (traditional politicians) in the country. Family dynasties will reign. Corruption will not end. Our country will be eaten up by the buwayas – daddy buwaya, mommy buwaya, baby buwayas – it’s all in the family. We’re doomed.

In our day and age, we must break this vicious political tradition and get a lone star who has not been eaten up yet by politics, power and greed.

* * *

What happened to morality in this country?

Morality is the distinction between right and wrong, good and bad behavior. It is living by the principles of honesty, integrity, honor, justice, and decency.

During Pope Francis’ visit this year, Filipinos from all walks of life, rich and poor, politicians, ordinary citizens showed immense passion as Christians.

But do we really live a Christian way of life? I am raising this question because as a predominantly Christian nation, the morality standards show extreme neglect from the church, the parents and the government. There is a need to strengthen our moral fiber of which we truly lack.

Some moral issues in the country today are: terrorism, extra-judicial killings, child abuse, human trafficking, sexuality, pornography, environmental destruction, etc. Of course, topping the list is corruption by public officials.

Ethical governance is a big moral issue in our society today. The role of every government is to serve and protect its people and its sovereignty. There are only a few cities in this country that live up to good governance.

The rest continue to make government a ‘family’ business as they continue to hold on to that power, ever possessive, never wanting to let go!

Our hard earned tax money is easily wasted away to fund corruption in all the sectors of government. The money that went into the PDAF, DAP, Malampaya Funds, the CCT, Agriculture funds to name a few could have been used to provide efficient services to the people.

Our politicians lack the moral conscience. All they want is to be catapulted to an office of power and might, where they can amass great wealth the easy way. This bunch of ‘hoodlums’ in the guise of good Samaritans couldn’t care less of the overall impact their actions have caused our nation. Sanamagan!


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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