© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO) http://newsflash.org

EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM MALAYA

EDITORIAL: FRIENDLY FIRE


GRACE POE -PHOTO COURTESY OF MANILA STANDARD GOOD intentions by clueless allies is proving to be the undoing of presidential aspirant and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as Senator Grace Poe, the other person in the supposed “dream team” of the administration for 2016, has all but told him to look elsewhere.  Now the designated point man of the unwieldy ruling party has to decide whether he is in a position to crack the whip and risk provoking resentment of some supporters on a decidedly slim chance of getting his courtship of the survey frontrunner back on track, or to cut his losses and start considering other options. Being called “unripe” still rankles for the senator. That much was pretty obvious by her reaction to suggestions that she run as vice president under the LP banner. From the moment the rather tactless choice of epithet was ascribed on her person, Poe had started to lose interest. The situation was not helped by unceasing pin-pricks from some Liberal Party members who were hoping to get her to agree to run in tandem with Roxas. What was intended as a friendly nudge ended up as a shove, earning scorn from the senator instead of inspiring her confidence. Poe early on declared that she likes Roxas and shares his desire to build up on what the Aquino administration has started. But friendly fire killed all the chances of a partnership happening between the two. Certainly, other parties-in-interest helped things along but hearing Poe say it, the cruelest cuts came from Roxas own backyard. Anyone from a backwater farm would have told them impatience never caught a fish. – PT. THIS IS THE FULL EDITORIAL.

ALSO EDITORIAL: 101.6 MILLION AND COUNTING


PHOTO FROM YAHOO NEWS PRETTY much buried under the barrage of more sensational news of late was the latest headcount showing there are now 101.6 million Filipinos – up almost 10 million from the last census five years ago. That huge number is not a problem by itself, at least, until one digs through recent demographics that shows worrisome comparisons against such factors as food production, infrastructure, health service, and basic education – and the facility with which the government is addressing such issues. One scary fact is, we do not produce enough food to feed ourselves; not even our staples like rice and fish. We also import milk and coffee, garlic and onions, meat and poultry, even the “monggo”. Rather than guessing how much we are depending on other countries to feed our ever-growing numbers, the Senate actually got it calculated down to hard currency and it costs P300 billion a year. One then is hard put not to ask: Despite that kind of money in food demand, why is 36 percent of farmers and 41 percent of fisher folks leaving in abject poverty?  READ MORE....

ALSO by Nestor Mata: THE REAL NOYNOY AQUINO


By NESTOR MATA 
PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino’s supporters and propagandists have been passing around as “truths” his accomplishments ever since he occupied Malacañang over five years ago. In the view of two political watchers of the Bayanko Public Group, one who goes by the nom de plume “Ilda” and the other Maria Luisa Gabriel, there are a lot of misconceptions which range from harmless to downright ridiculous, but most of them are obviously part of a campaign to keep his waning popularity up. They called those “truths” concocted by a publicly-funded public relations firm as nothing but “lies”. They cited four “untruths” about Aquino, namely, that (1)“he is not corrupt,” (2) “he finally exposed corrupt activities in government,” (3) “he is the greatest President the Philippines ever had,” and (4) “he is the lesser evil.” First, Ilda and Gabriel said, Aquino is “of course corrupt. There may be no evidence yet of him pocketing public funds, but he used public funds to fast track the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona by bribing and strong-arming members of Congress. The revelation that he gave extra PDAF in the amount of P50 million to senators who voted to convict Corona is enough evidence to support this.” Second, the two women said the notion that Aquino “finally exposed corruption in government is absolute garbage.” They recalled that in 1996 there was already an expose on pork barrel scamming and that pork barrel scams still continued even after that expose. Aquino cannot take credit for something that happened two decades ago... In fact, what has been exposed is that the pork barrel scam was worse during Aquino’s term. Third, they said, Aquino is “not the greatest but the worst President of the Philippines ever had. Not only does he lack diplomatic skills, he is also arrogant and vindictive. .. He has divided the sentiments of the Filipino people and caused the public to argue about his executive decisions... not much has changed since he took office. The number of poor people is still going up and corruption is rampant in government.” They quoted a Social Weather Stations survey that found half of executives from 1,000 enterprises in Metro Manila and six urban areas nationwide indicated “a lot” of corruption in government last year. Fifty-six percent of the businessmen claimed seeing “a lot” of the public sector, a 30 percent increase from 43 percent in 2012. READ MORE...

On PCOS and the 2016 Elections 08.17.15 Malaya
[“Flores said Smartmatic had been proposing the refurbishment of the PCOS machines since 2013".]


by Ducky Paredes
I attend Deedee Siytangco’s Bulongpulongan at the Sofitel when I can. I finally go to meet and listen to Cesar Flores of Smartmatic, who is being demonized by those who look with greed in their hearts on the deals that Smartmatic has been able to corner from the Commission on Elections with its superior election technology that has given us at least two elections where therewere no complaints about dagdag-bawas. Smartmatic has cornered deals with the Comelec worth billions with its PCOS machines (Precinct-Count Optical Scanners). First of all, new Comelec Commissioner Andy Bautista has followed the way that former Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes’ decision to go with PCOS machines. This was after a test run with an alternative suggestion by local computer techies suggesting the use of office computers to speed up the count. It was apparent, however, that dagdag-bawas, the bane of elections on the elections before the PCOS machines were introduced, would still be possible. Nothing beats the PCOS which delivers the votes automtically while having the paper trail that can be checked after the elections should there be any complaints. For the new COMELEC chief Andy Bautista, he cannot be faulted for having to make this choice for the lease of new machines. The anti-automation groups left him no choice. Smartmatic as early as 2014 offered to refurbish the PCOS machines. But anti-automation groups put a stop to this. A petition dated January 30, 2015 was filed by anti-automation groups including petitioners led by Bishop Broderick Pabillo to stop the implementation of the extended warranty contract that would have allowed the repair and refurbishment of the PCOS machines. This contract was specifically for the purpose of extending the life of the PCOS machines. As with any technology, one is usually given a 1-year warranty but you may sometimes opt for an extended warranty, which was offered by Smartmatic as soon as the 2013 elections ended. This extended warranty would have cost the government only P300 Million (compared to the P 3 Billion the government will have to spend if the PCOS were to be repaired today). The petition was successful in that in April, the Supreme Court voided the agreement between the COMELEC and Smartmatic-TIM for this extended warranty contract for the diagnostics and repair of the existing 80,000 PCOS machines. The Supreme Court reasoned that the Comelec “failed to justify its resort to direct contracting” although the Comelec had argued that the maker of the machine would be most suited to diagnose and repair the machines. What happened? Anti-automation groups got their wish. Eventually, Smartmatic backed out from bidding for the repair of the PCOS machines because the timeline, due to the delays caused by court cases, had become too risky. Smartmatic ended up being unable to bid for the refurbishment of the machines, even if they wanted to. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

FRIENDLY FIRE


POE --PHOTO FROM MANILA STANDARD

MANILA, AUGUST 24, 2015 (MALAYA) August 18, 2015 - GOOD intentions by clueless allies is proving to be the undoing of presidential aspirant and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as Senator Grace Poe, the other person in the supposed “dream team” of the administration for 2016, has all but told him to look elsewhere.

Now the designated point man of the unwieldy ruling party has to decide whether he is in a position to crack the whip and risk provoking resentment of some supporters on a decidedly slim chance of getting his courtship of the survey frontrunner back on track, or to cut his losses and start considering other options.

Being called “unripe” still rankles for the senator. That much was pretty obvious by her reaction to suggestions that she run as vice president under the LP banner.

From the moment the rather tactless choice of epithet was ascribed on her person, Poe had started to lose interest.

The situation was not helped by unceasing pin-pricks from some Liberal Party members who were hoping to get her to agree to run in tandem with Roxas.

What was intended as a friendly nudge ended up as a shove, earning scorn from the senator instead of inspiring her confidence.

Poe early on declared that she likes Roxas and shares his desire to build up on what the Aquino administration has started. But friendly fire killed all the chances of a partnership happening between the two.

Certainly, other parties-in-interest helped things along but hearing Poe say it, the cruelest cuts came from Roxas own backyard.

Anyone from a backwater farm would have told them impatience never caught a fish. – PT.


101.6 MILLION AND COUNTING August 14, 2015


PHOTO FROM YAHOO

PRETTY much buried under the barrage of more sensational news of late was the latest headcount showing there are now 101.6 million Filipinos – up almost 10 million from the last census five years ago.

That huge number is not a problem by itself, at least, until one digs through recent demographics that shows worrisome comparisons against such factors as food production, infrastructure, health service, and basic education – and the facility with which the government is addressing such issues.

One scary fact is, we do not produce enough food to feed ourselves; not even our staples like rice and fish. We also import milk and coffee, garlic and onions, meat and poultry, even the “monggo”.

Rather than guessing how much we are depending on other countries to feed our ever-growing numbers, the Senate actually got it calculated down to hard currency and it costs P300 billion a year.

One then is hard put not to ask: Despite that kind of money in food demand, why is 36 percent of farmers and 41 percent of fisher folks leaving in abject poverty?

READ MORE...

The agriculture and land reform agencies have that datum in their hands – 70 percent of Filipino farmers do not own their land. And with China’s hegemonic ambitions in the West Philippine Sea, our fishing industry has just been dealt another devastating blow.

Congress is now in the thick of deliberations on how to distribute P3.002 trillion that has been set as next year’s national budget.

Some P952.7 billion has been allotted for social services which covers education, healthcare, and housing.

And yet some 1.5 million school-age children will not be enrolled this year. The dropout rate has been pegged at 7 percent for primary school levels and 8 percent for high school in the last five years.

Now, as in the past, there remains a huge gap between the population vis-à-vis health workers and homes.

Bean counters in government tell us the 101.6 million will jump by another 2.1 percent next year – more than two million more mouths to feed, shelter, and send to school.

The problem is only getting bigger. – PT.


THE REAL NOYNOY AQUINO By NESTOR MATA on August 20, 2015


By NESTOR MATA

PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino’s supporters and propagandists have been passing around as “truths” his accomplishments ever since he occupied Malacañang over five years ago.

In the view of two political watchers of the Bayanko Public Group, one who goes by the nom de plume “Ilda” and the other Maria Luisa Gabriel, there are a lot of misconceptions which range from harmless to downright ridiculous, but most of them are obviously part of a campaign to keep his waning popularity up.

They called those “truths” concocted by a publicly-funded public relations firm as nothing but “lies”.

They cited four “untruths” about Aquino, namely, that
(1)“he is not corrupt,”
(2) “he finally exposed corrupt activities in government,”
(3) “he is the greatest President the Philippines ever had,” and
(4) “he is the lesser evil.”

First, Ilda and Gabriel said, Aquino is “of course corrupt.

There may be no evidence yet of him pocketing public funds, but he used public funds to fast track the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona by bribing and strong-arming members of Congress. The revelation that he gave extra PDAF in the amount of P50 million to senators who voted to convict Corona is enough evidence to support this.”

Second, the two women said the notion that Aquino “finally exposed corruption in government is absolute garbage.”

They recalled that in 1996 there was already an expose on pork barrel scamming and that pork barrel scams still continued even after that expose. Aquino cannot take credit for something that happened two decades ago... In fact, what has been exposed is that the pork barrel scam was worse during Aquino’s term.

Third, they said, Aquino is “not the greatest but the worst President of the Philippines ever had.

Not only does he lack diplomatic skills, he is also arrogant and vindictive. .. He has divided the sentiments of the Filipino people and caused the public to argue about his executive decisions... not much has changed since he took office. The number of poor people is still going up and corruption is rampant in government.”

They quoted a Social Weather Stations survey that found half of executives from 1,000 enterprises in Metro Manila and six urban areas nationwide indicated “a lot” of corruption in government last year.

Fifty-six percent of the businessmen claimed seeing “a lot” of the public sector, a 30 percent increase from 43 percent in 2012.

READ MORE...

Fourth, they said Aquino is not the lesser evil.

“In the eyes of some people he is plain evil. He seems hell-bent on persecuting his former college professor and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allegations, which are proving to be false and malicious. So far, the charges against her keep getting dropped for lack of evidence. He has no compassion for an ailing woman considering that his own father Ninoy Aquino received compassion from former President Ferdinand E. Marcos when he was allowed to seek medical treatment in the United States.”

Finally, Ilda and Gabriel concluded, these are just some of the misconceptions and untruths that Aquino’s supporters have used to defend him, but they will be proven wrong. His days are numbered because more and more people are joining his critics in clamoring for him to be impeached!

***

Southeast Asian naval capabilities are surging in the face of China’s threat and claims to virtually the entire South China Sea, even the East Vietnam Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines has nearly doubled its fleet of surface combat vessels in the last five years and is working to acquire two advanced new frigates. Vietnam’s navy is acquiring advanced new frigates, submarines and a host of modern anti-ship cruise missiles. Malaysia has added advanced submarines to its fleet and is building six new advanced frigates. Indonesia is building two frigates and acquiring two improved submarines as part of its 20-year modernization and expansion program.

It is hard to assess who has the advantage in a peer competition, or sufficient ability to prohibitively raise conflict costs to a more powerful aggressor, US naval expert Steven Stashwick wrote in an article for The Diplomat newsletter. Here are excerpts from his analysis:

Meaningfully assessing naval capability requires more than adding fleet tonnage or ship numbers. It depends strongly on the scope of an understanding of technical, logical, human, and operational limitations in the context of the intended missions, and, most crucially, the expected adversary’s capability.

By itself, China’s South China Sea Fleet has more major surface ships than Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines combined, and its similarly-sized East Sea Fleet is stationed enough to the region to quickly provide additional forces.

If much of the regional build-up is in response to Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, does adding handfuls of ships, however individually capable, make a difference?

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute database of global military expenditure shows that while the Southeast Asian nations have increased their defense spending by over one and half times since 203, combined, this is still less than one-fifth of China’s spending, which has increased over three-fold in the same span.

China’s most notable gains in South China Sea have come without relying on its navy, rather using its para-military and law enforcement vessels to press its maritime claims. Since aggregating its marine law enforcement capability under a unified Coast Guard in 2013, China’s expanding fleet continues to be the front line against other South China Sea claimants.

So, if and when the South China Sea disputes escalate into an armed conflict, are the Southeast Asian countries combined, any match with China, now emerging as one of the leading powers of the world?

***

Thought of the Day: “War makes fright, fright makes alliances, alliances war!” – Anon.


On PCOS and the 2016 Elections 08.17.15 Malaya
[“Flores said Smartmatic had been proposing the refurbishment of the PCOS machines since 2013".]


by Ducky Paredes

I attend Deedee Siytangco’s Bulongpulongan at the Sofitel when I can. I finally go to meet and listen to Cesar Flores of Smartmatic, who is being demonized by those who look with greed in their hearts on the deals that Smartmatic has been able to corner from the Commission on Elections with its superior election technology that has given us at least two elections where therewere no complaints about dagdag-bawas.

Smartmatic has cornered deals with the Comelec worth billions with its PCOS machines (Precinct-Count Optical Scanners).

First of all, new Comelec Commissioner Andy Bautista has followed the way that former Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes’ decision to go with PCOS machines. This was after a test run with an alternative suggestion by local computer techies suggesting the use of office computers to speed up the count. It was apparent, however, that dagdag-bawas, the bane of elections on the elections before the PCOS machines were introduced, would still be possible. Nothing beats the PCOS which delivers the votes automtically while having the paper trail that can be checked after the elections should there be any complaints.

For the new COMELEC chief Andy Bautista, he cannot be faulted for having to make this choice for the lease of new machines. The anti-automation groups left him no choice.

Smartmatic as early as 2014 offered to refurbish the PCOS machines. But anti-automation groups put a stop to this. A petition dated January 30, 2015 was filed by anti-automation groups including petitioners led by Bishop Broderick Pabillo to stop the implementation of the extended warranty contract that would have allowed the repair and refurbishment of the PCOS machines. This contract was specifically for the purpose of extending the life of the PCOS machines.

As with any technology, one is usually given a 1-year warranty but you may sometimes opt for an extended warranty, which was offered by Smartmatic as soon as the 2013 elections ended. This extended warranty would have cost the government only P300 Million (compared to the P 3 Billion the government will have to spend if the PCOS were to be repaired today).

The petition was successful in that in April, the Supreme Court voided the agreement between the COMELEC and Smartmatic-TIM for this extended warranty contract for the diagnostics and repair of the existing 80,000 PCOS machines. The Supreme Court reasoned that the Comelec “failed to justify its resort to direct contracting” although the Comelec had argued that the maker of the machine would be most suited to diagnose and repair the machines.

What happened? Anti-automation groups got their wish. Eventually, Smartmatic backed out from bidding for the repair of the PCOS machines because the timeline, due to the delays caused by court cases, had become too risky. Smartmatic ended up being unable to bid for the refurbishment of the machines, even if they wanted to.

READ MORE...

At the first bidding for the refurbishment of the machines in June this year, which Smartmatic joined, the company, along with all other bidders, eventually backed out when the approved budget for the contract was brought down to P2.5 Billion, 45% or P800 Million lower than the expected contract price. At the second bidding at the end of July, even if the contract price was raised again to P3.1 Billion, Smartmatic had to withdraw, this time because of time constraints. At just nine months to go before elections, it was then already too risky to sign a contracrt for the repair of the machines in time for the elections.

In any case, Bautista erring on the side of caution. By leasing new machines, Comelec would ensure that 100% of delivery of all new machines before the end of January 2016. That is the commitment that Smartmatic gave. They would also be able to certify all PCOS machines on time as there will only be one certification process with the new leased machines as well as the new 23,000 machines, instead of having two parallel certification processes for the 80,000 and the 23,000 machines. Best of all, there would be only one PCOS model that would be easier to deploy as there would be more uniformity in training processes and voter education.

Bautista can sleep soundly with this decision. The anti-Smartmatic group also has still another thing to complain about – the COMELEC’s apparent “favoritism” for Smartmatic technology.

Why not? Since Smartmatic has given us elections without dagdag-bawas and instant, flawless results, we ought to keep on doing what works and not try to supplant what works with ideas that don’t fly.

* * *

The poll watchdogs are naturally dismayed by Comelec’s decision to lease optical mark reader (OMR) machines from Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. They accuse Comelec of electoral sabotage.

“They are just following what Smartmatic wants. It’s all a sham. Whatever Smartmatic wants, that’s what they’ll do,” says former elections commissioner Augusto Lagman, who has himself suggested using existing computers but whose idea also costs several billions.

“Part of the contract with Smartmatic was the training of the Comelec staff on diagnostics and repair of the machines. Did they do that? If they did, then the trained people could have started the repair in late 2014 and the whole of 2015,” Lagman says.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares describes the Comelec decision as “suspicious.” Colmenares says that the Comelec should reconsider a hybrid system proposed by Lagman. Unfortunately, the Lagman idea was found not to work as well as the PCOS and would acrtually be more expensive.

“Without awaiting the Supreme Court action on the legal questions raised against the Comelec and Smartmatic, the Comelec proceeded to award the lease of 94,000 expensive new PCOS units to a sham joint venture, in violation of the Constitution and laws as well as COA regulations. Such impunity, lies and blatant treachery to voters, taxpayers and the Filipino people,” says Lagman.

Guanzon said that if the Comelec had enough time, she would choose to refurbish the old PCOS machines.

Comelec has only nine months before the May 2016 elections to refurbish thousands of PCOS machines.

Cesar Flores says: “It is unfair to pin the blame on us when the reason why the refurbishment could not have been done in time were the interminable delays caused by all the legal cases and Comelec’s own actions or inaction.”

Flores said Smartmatic had been proposing the refurbishment of the PCOS machines since 2013.

“Records will bear out the fact that we had been vigorously recommending this option as a means for the government to save money and to maximize its investment,” says Flores.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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