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

FROM MANILA STANDARD TODAY)

EDITORIAL: NO-WIN SPINS
[Optimism is a gift.]


OPTIMISM IS A GIFT It allows us to see hurdles as challenges and hurdles as temporary inconveniences. It makes us put on a brave face and proceed with the fight. It’s a decision—nay, a predisposition—to see the positive side of any adversity. But there are some cases when optimism is inappropriate and downright insane. This week we were aghast to learn about the Facebook post of administration presidential bet Manuel Roxas II, which read: “Hi, fellow veterans of the Zamboanga siege. Happy anniversary! Just wanted to take a moment and reflect and thank you for your leadership and commitment to welfare of our people and country. Maraming salamat. Being with you all those 21 days has touched me indelibly. Know that our country stands strong and our flag flies high because of you and the men and women like you. We battle on! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas,” said the original Facebook post. It was soon edited to sound less upbeat and more somber, but by then the post had been copied or shared. Roxas, after all, was not commemorating an occasion that must be celebrated. He was referring to the Zamboanga siege two years ago where the weeks-long clash between government soldiers and the Moro National Liberation Front resulted in the death of dozens and the displacement of thousands. The statement is just one example of this administration’s many attempts to spin a negative event into a positive one. We are not strangers to the grandiose claims of the President that the non-fatal traffic situation in Metro Manila is a sign of economic progress. More people have been able to increase their purchasing power, he said, such that they are now able to buy cars for themselves. A similar argument has been put forth in an attempt to explain the worsening experience of train commuters. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: A looming crisis


We have been told by scientists that a severe El Niño weather phenomenon will hit the country latter part of the year to the first half of next year.
To be sure, the Philippines is no stranger to extreme weather events. We’ve seen the worst of both the dry and wet seasons. We’ve picked ourselves up every time, being known for our resilience. But that we’re used to things does not mean we should sit back and watch them happen to us.El Niño has a toll: in lives, in damaged crops and infrastructure, in foregone opportunities and unrealized potential. Already, water service in some parts of Metro Manila is being interrupted because of low water levels at the Angat Dam. Blackouts in many parts of the country, especially in Mindanao, will occur more often and for longer periods. Farmers will have to deal with less harvest, which would affect their income. We may not be able to do anything about its actual onset— some things are beyond our control. But we can anticipate its effects and minimize the damage it would cost. READ MORE...

ALSO By Alejandro Del Rosario: ‘Happy anniversary’


It was a gaffe anyone could have made. But when presidential candidate Mar Roxas sent a “happy anniversary” message to the people of Zamboanga to mark the September 2013 bloody siege by Moro National Liberation Front rebels, he can only draw flak for the blooper.
More than 200 civilians died and hundreds of homes were razed during three weeks of heavy fighting between government troops and Nur-Misuari’s MNLF forces who attempted to take over Zamboanga City. It was certainly not a happy occasion for the people of Zamboanga. The message posted on Roxas’ Facebook site was quickly corrected but as with anything posted on social media, it was too late and the damage was done. It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Add this to Mar’s mindless “you have to remember the President is an Aquino and you’re a Romualdez” remark to Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez during relief operation for typhoon Yolanda victims, and you will have to ask whether you want this man to lead the country. Recalling the Roxas remark to Romualdez also brings to mind President Aquino’s callous “O, eh buhay ka pa naman” admonition to a Yolanda survivor who complained about the slow pace of rescue and relief operation. The man eventually died a few months ago. It is not known whether he died from natural causes or due to the public rebuke he got from Aquino. This administration’s insensitivity to the people’s suffering was also shown by Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya’s reaction to Metro Manila’s traffic problem when he said “hindi naman nakakamatay ang traffic” [traffic is not fatal]. Someone wrote to ask “what if Abaya was being rushed to a hospital and the ambulance got caught in traffic?” Stressed by the flak he received on social media, Abaya later on apologized for the remark. Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, in a case of poetic justice, experienced being caught in traffic and was an hour late for a TV interview. He should have gotten off his vehicle and directed traffic himself like he did in a cheap publicity stunt to advance his senatorial campaign. We do not relish seeing public officials spouting such stupid statements, but they themselves provide the wellspring of these quotable lines. It is said the rich are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, but in the case of Aquino, Roxas and Abaya, it must have been a foot instead. READ MORE...

ALSO By Fr. Ranhilio Aquino: A human rights document for Asean


Two weeks back, the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights convened representatives of advocacy and cause-oriented groups in the Philippines and called on international law professors to talk about drawing up human rights instruments for Asean. I was called upon as a professor of international law.
Many of the precepts on human rights are now part of the corpus of customary international law, and that may just be the place to start. Asean is not going to reinvent the wheel. It is not building from the ground up. And rather than devising instruments that always entail the challenge of enforceability and enforcement, it might be the far more prudent option with what is, under the current state of international law, already obligatory on all nations. The prohibition of torture, for example, is considered by many to be “jus cogens,” one of those peremptory norms embodying fundamental values of the international community that allow of no derogation. Torture is, by no means, an idle topic in the Asean region. One of the issues of international law is invariably that of enforcement: “superiores non recognoscentes”....States recognize no sovereignty over them. And so, really, the only enforcement scheme available is “horizontal enforcement,” the enforcement of and by peers— other sovereign states in the community of nations. This obviously limits the options available, but it also underscores the fallacy of dealing with international law as some globalized form of domestic law.READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Cramming at the end


BY all accounts, President Benigno Aquino III was an unremarkable student. He graduated with no particular distinction from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.
We have no empirical evidence, but his actions many years later as President suggest that as a privileged young student, he might have also wasted his time on non-academic pursuits, then crammed when exams drew near. This has certainly been the pattern of his presidency, now on its sixth and final year. With elections drawing near, President Aquino had an epiphany that the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila was not a sign of progress, as he liked to say, but a crisis that sapped the nation’s productivity and that fueled public anger and resentment at his government, which did little to ease the suffering of the people. This last-minute realization has triggered a flurry of action. Traffic management on the main highway of Edsa was transferred from the ineffectual Metro Manila Development Authority to the police Highway Patrol Group. More than a year after an MRT train derailed, crashed through barriers and fell onto a major thoroughfare and numerous other minor mishaps, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya—possibly the most useless public official in history—suddenly declared the need for the “emergency procurement” of P4.25 billion in rehabilitation services from an undisclosed service provider that did not have to go through the required public bidding. Also this month, the National Economic and Development Authority approved P131.4 billion in new projects in transportation and energy, including long overdue investments in expanding the city train system. But the late approval and scale of these projects suggests that they will be years away from completion, and do little to ease the suffering of motorists and commuters today, or even in the near future. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

No-win spins


Optimism is a gift.

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) EDITORIAL -Sep. 12, 2015 at 12:01am - It allows us to see hurdles as challenges and hurdles as temporary inconveniences. It makes us put on a brave face and proceed with the fight. It’s a decision—nay, a predisposition—to see the positive side of any adversity.

But there are some cases when optimism is inappropriate and downright insane.

This week we were aghast to learn about the Facebook post of administration presidential bet Manuel Roxas II, which read:

“Hi, fellow veterans of the Zamboanga siege. Happy anniversary! Just wanted to take a moment and reflect and thank you for your leadership and commitment to welfare of our people and country. Maraming salamat. Being with you all those 21 days has touched me indelibly. Know that our country stands strong and our flag flies high because of you and the men and women like you. We battle on! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas,” said the original Facebook post.

It was soon edited to sound less upbeat and more somber, but by then the post had been copied or shared.

Roxas, after all, was not commemorating an occasion that must be celebrated. He was referring to the Zamboanga siege two years ago where the weeks-long clash between government soldiers and the Moro National Liberation Front resulted in the death of dozens and the displacement of thousands.

The statement is just one example of this administration’s many attempts to spin a negative event into a positive one.

We are not strangers to the grandiose claims of the President that the non-fatal traffic situation in Metro Manila is a sign of economic progress. More people have been able to increase their purchasing power, he said, such that they are now able to buy cars for themselves. A similar argument has been put forth in an attempt to explain the worsening experience of train commuters.

READ MORE...

Going by that logic, life is getting better for more Filipinos. Rejoice! Except, of course, the only ones who feel the difference are those who have been rich to begin with.

Putting a positive spin into issues that require remorse or at the very least an acknowledgment of failure points to arrogance. Since June 2010, all we have heard from administration officials is how well they have been doing their jobs and how extraordinarily motivated their critics have been to bring them down.

This arrogance is better, or worse, than the inability to see things for what they are. When you have leaders who are blissfully oblivious of the emotions and the responses that should come with certain events, then you may just be doomed.

But look at the bright side: We only have a few more months of this nonsense before we get the chance to decide again, and we hope, decide better.


EDITORIAL: A looming crisis Sep. 13, 2015 at 12:01am

We have been told by scientists that a severe El Niño weather phenomenon will hit the country latter part of the year to the first half of next year.

To be sure, the Philippines is no stranger to extreme weather events. We’ve seen the worst of both the dry and wet seasons. We’ve picked ourselves up every time, being known for our resilience.

But that we’re used to things does not mean we should sit back and watch them happen to us.

El Niño has a toll: in lives, in damaged crops and infrastructure, in foregone opportunities and unrealized potential. Already, water service in some parts of Metro Manila is being interrupted because of low water levels at the Angat Dam. Blackouts in many parts of the country, especially in Mindanao, will occur more often and for longer periods.

Farmers will have to deal with less harvest, which would affect their income.

We may not be able to do anything about its actual onset— some things are beyond our control. But we can anticipate its effects and minimize the damage it would cost.

READ MORE...

Alas, the onset of the El Niño would coincide with the filing of the certificates of candidacy at the national level. In fact, at this time, our officials are already expending much—if not all—of their time and energy ensuring that voters know who they are and that they stand a chance at victory.

Worse, we have an administration with a sterling track record for reacting to problems only when these have reached crisis proportions and when public opinion has turned strongly against it.

The traffic and the train issues are just two examples. Have these not become sore points among the traveling public especially since President Aquino has had the gall to attempt positive spins to these problems? What economic growth? What greater purchasing power?

The supposedly straight path-treading administration only has a few months to show the people it can actually deal with a problem as vast and far-reaching as El Niño. This time around, it would be difficult to put a positive spin to its occurrence, just as it is impossible to control its coming and going.

There’s a looming crisis, and it won’t be looming for long. We need concrete action in mitigating El Niño’s effects—no lofty promises and tough talk will cut it anymore.


‘Happy anniversary’ By Alejandro Del Rosario | Sep. 12, 2015 at 12:01am

It was a gaffe anyone could have made. But when presidential candidate Mar Roxas sent a “happy anniversary” message to the people of Zamboanga to mark the September 2013 bloody siege by Moro National Liberation Front rebels, he can only draw flak for the blooper.

More than 200 civilians died and hundreds of homes were razed during three weeks of heavy fighting between government troops and Nur-Misuari’s MNLF forces who attempted to take over Zamboanga City. It was certainly not a happy occasion for the people of Zamboanga.

The message posted on Roxas’ Facebook site was quickly corrected but as with anything posted on social media, it was too late and the damage was done. It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Add this to Mar’s mindless “you have to remember the President is an Aquino and you’re a Romualdez” remark to Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez during relief operation for typhoon Yolanda victims, and you will have to ask whether you want this man to lead the country.

Recalling the Roxas remark to Romualdez also brings to mind President Aquino’s callous “O, eh buhay ka pa naman” admonition to a Yolanda survivor who complained about the slow pace of rescue and relief operation. The man eventually died a few months ago. It is not known whether he died from natural causes or due to the public rebuke he got from Aquino.

This administration’s insensitivity to the people’s suffering was also shown by Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya’s reaction to Metro Manila’s traffic problem when he said “hindi naman nakakamatay ang traffic” [traffic is not fatal]. Someone wrote to ask “what if Abaya was being rushed to a hospital and the ambulance got caught in traffic?” Stressed by the flak he received on social media, Abaya later on apologized for the remark.

Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, in a case of poetic justice, experienced being caught in traffic and was an hour late for a TV interview. He should have gotten off his vehicle and directed traffic himself like he did in a cheap publicity stunt to advance his senatorial campaign.

We do not relish seeing public officials spouting such stupid statements, but they themselves provide the wellspring of these quotable lines. It is said the rich are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, but in the case of Aquino, Roxas and Abaya, it must have been a foot instead.

READ MORE...

Then there is also Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who, when asked if it’s true he executed 1,000 criminals, replied:“ Only 1,000? Ang cheap naman!” Since Duterte said he’s not running for president anymore, the next administration should appoint him director of the Bureau of Corrections to put in place a de facto death penalty. That should put the fear of God in the hearts of hardened criminals.

Has the 2016 presidential race narrowed down to Roxas Jejomar Binay, and Grace Poe ? If so, then voters’ choice has also narrowed down and left them with little or no choice at all. The deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy is on Oct. 16. We might yet see a wild card with Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. joining the race. The senator has been in the news lately with his handling of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Combining the Solid North bloc and vote-rich Mindanao where Bongbong Marcos gained supporters for including all the stakeholders in the proposed BBL , he could give Poe, Binay and Roxas a run for their money.

The next Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia survey should be interesting

We have a Secretary of Agriculture and a Presidential Assistant on Food Security and yet the country is still importing 750,000 metric tons of rice this year and another 500,000 MT next year. The importation is purportedly to prepare for a prolonged El Niño dry spell, the state-run National Food Authority said. The Aquino administration had five years to increase rice productivity but importing the basic commodity must be more profitable for the NFA.

With less than 300 days left in the Aquino administration, expect some Cabinet members like Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala , DOTC Secretary Abaya, Budget Secretary Butch Abad to seek refuge in an elective office. Abad might run in his province of Batanes to replace his wife Henedina who is the current representative. Alcala could try to regain his former congressional seat in Quezon, while Abaya, a former Cavite congressman, might go back to reclaim his House seat.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal, meanwhile, held a closed-door hearing yesterday to assess evidence on the citizenship disqualification case against Senator Poe. On Sept. 21, the SET will hear the oral arguments of defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David and Senator Poe whose presidential bid and even Senate seat hang in the balance if the issue is put to a vote.


On September 6, 2009, the Philippine Embassy in Warsaw was opened at its current location, around the same time new resident embassies in Ireland, Finland and Portugal were also opened. Alejandro del Rosario, who in 2009 was completing his deployment as Philippine Ambassador to Hungary, was appointed as the mission's first ambassador, ostensibly out of the need to open the post as soon as possible and the honorary consulate in Warsaw was moved to Poznań. WIKIPEDIA


A human rights document for Asean By Fr. Ranhilio Aquino | Sep. 11, 2015 at 12:01am

Two weeks back, the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights convened representatives of advocacy and cause-oriented groups in the Philippines and called on international law professors to talk about drawing up human rights instruments for Asean. I was called upon as a professor of international law.

Many of the precepts on human rights are now part of the corpus of customary international law, and that may just be the place to start. Asean is not going to reinvent the wheel. It is not building from the ground up. And rather than devising instruments that always entail the challenge of enforceability and enforcement, it might be the far more prudent option with what is, under the current state of international law, already obligatory on all nations. The prohibition of torture, for example, is considered by many to be “jus cogens,” one of those peremptory norms embodying fundamental values of the international community that allow of no derogation. Torture is, by no means, an idle topic in the Asean region.

One of the issues of international law is invariably that of enforcement: “superiores non recognoscentes”....States recognize no sovereignty over them. And so, really, the only enforcement scheme available is “horizontal enforcement,” the enforcement of and by peers— other sovereign states in the community of nations. This obviously limits the options available, but it also underscores the fallacy of dealing with international law as some globalized form of domestic law.

READ MORE...

I suggested, echoing several contemporary authorities of international law, that regional laws like Asean law is best enforced by domestic operators rather than regional structures and mechanisms. In consequence of this realization, what Asean can do is to formulate regional covenants that member-states of Asean would then be bound, as a matter of treaty obligation, to enact in their respective jurisdictions. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women provide ready examples—and amply demonstrate the “doability” of the proposal.

Human rights are universal. They apply whenever you deal with a human being, and while there can be debate over “natural law,” there will hardly be debate over the fact that “human dignity” does make certain demands. Undoubtedly, however, there are human rights issues—or clusters of issues —peculiar to the Asean region. When we recall that there are military regimes in this part of the world, then such issues as state responsibility, command responsibility in respect to enforced disappearances, detentions and even extra-judicial executions, the obligations of armed, rebel, and belligerency groups, the rights of displaced persons and the obligations of states towards refugees—all these should be addressed in their particularity by regional instruments.

Then, in view of Asean integration, human rights should not take a back seat to economic and trade integration. It makes very little sense to promote the free mobility of professionals and of skilled labor if the rights of laborers in some countries of the region cannot be guaranteed! Then, too, a system of reportage and monitoring has proven effective. It would be useful, for one, to grant the AICHR the power to receive reports and complaints even from individuals, and to be able to refer these to the State involved. Coupled with periodic reports on compliance by member-states with human rights obligations, as well as noting egregious violations and recording complaints as well as government response, some benign but no less effective version of “praising and shaming”

may yet prove to be helpful to the cause of an Asean that is exemplarily respectful of the rights of the human person.


Editorial: Cramming at the end Sep. 14, 2015 at 12:01am

BY all accounts, President Benigno Aquino III was an unremarkable student. He graduated with no particular distinction from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.

We have no empirical evidence, but his actions many years later as President suggest that as a privileged young student, he might have also wasted his time on non-academic pursuits, then crammed when exams drew near.

This has certainly been the pattern of his presidency, now on its sixth and final year.

With elections drawing near, President Aquino had an epiphany that the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila was not a sign of progress, as he liked to say, but a crisis that sapped the nation’s productivity and that fueled public anger and resentment at his government, which did little to ease the suffering of the people.

This last-minute realization has triggered a flurry of action. Traffic management on the main highway of Edsa was transferred from the ineffectual Metro Manila Development Authority to the police Highway Patrol Group.

More than a year after an MRT train derailed, crashed through barriers and fell onto a major thoroughfare and numerous other minor mishaps, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya—possibly the most useless public official in history—suddenly declared the need for the “emergency procurement” of P4.25 billion in rehabilitation services from an undisclosed service provider that did not have to go through the required public bidding.

Also this month, the National Economic and Development Authority approved P131.4 billion in new projects in transportation and energy, including long overdue investments in expanding the city train system. But the late approval and scale of these projects suggests that they will be years away from completion, and do little to ease the suffering of motorists and commuters today, or even in the near future.

READ MORE...

The same pattern of waiting until the last minute can be seen in the recent decision by the Commission on Elections to approve a negotiated contract for the automation of the 2016 elections with a service provider that is already the target of several lawsuits.

All this begs the question: What did President Aquino spend his energy and political capital on during the first five years of his term?

The answer, sadly, was an all-out campaign to destroy his political rivals under the guise of his “straight path” policy that somehow managed to veer away from his allies and friends.

The President also spent much time and political capital on a peace agreement with Muslim rebels that most of Congress considered unconstitutional and unacceptable.

If the President had focused his efforts instead on improving the infrastructure and public services in those first years, he would not be in the predicament he is today—scrambling to have something to show after six years in office—and being questioned about dubious contracts concluded in haste.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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