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

FROM MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS

EDITORIAL:
SUPREME COURT AND THE BUDGET
[It should be recalled that the SC found four practices in the implementation of DAP as unconstitutional, and should not be repeated. It is well that the High Court is there to nip in the bud any attempt to revive the pork barrel. We’ve had enough of this animal.]


OCTOBER 8 -EDITORIAL The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2014 - 12:00am THE national budget originates as a voluminous proposal from Malacañang, sent to the House of Representatives and the Senate for passage into law, known as the General Appropriations Act. The Senate and the House conduct hearings among Executive Department heads to justify their budgets. Constitutional commissions and bodies, including the Judiciary, may also be called to these budget hearings. They later pass a comprehensive, consolidated bill, send it to the Palace and the President signs or vetoes the document. Trillions of pesos may now be spent for various government programs, projects and services. But what happens when the general public sees something wrong with the GAA? They go to the Supreme Court for relief. That is exactly what a group of petitioners, including Philippine Constitution Association president Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Benjamin Diokno, Norberto Gonzales, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Fernando Capalla, Romulo de la Cruz and Leonor Briones, did. Now the High Court has ordered the Palace and Congress to answer the complaints of the group that the GAA has revived the pork barrel. At the end of the en banc session of the Supreme Court last Oct. 6, with Associate Justice Arturo Brion presiding, the Commission on Audit (COA) was also ordered to comment on the petitions within 10 days. The group has questioned particular provisions in the national budget, specifically Sections 65, 70 and 73 of the GAA and special provisions for special purpose funds (SPF). READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: THAT OTHER RACE


OCTOBER 15 -BEFORE we get too caught up in the election swirl, the Department of Agriculture tells us that we have lost ground again in a bigger, more serious race for food self-sufficiency. Local farm outputs are all on the retreat this year belying even the modest growth projections submitted by the DA at the start of 2015. At the moment, the fight has been reduced to keeping things even at the previous year’s level and it is going to be an uphill push to even meet that with the delayed rainfall and shortened wet season. Farmers and agriculture officials are already resigned to a lower second half outputs of rice and corn. A prolonged rainless period stretching well into the middle of next year would put more pressure on our farming sector to meet the demands of feeding 101 million mouths. We had our chances at mitigating the impact of the cyclical advent of the El Niño phenomenon but agencies entrusted with the responsibility, like the DA and National Irrigation Administration, proved too short in foresight and too inept at meeting the challenge. From there the reports only get grimmer as a scientific study coming out of Australia predicted a decline in ocean productivity as another unseen effect of climate change. That is another blow to the local fishing industry that has already seen contraction at P139.8 billion in 2014, compared to P140.04 billion in 2013. These issues are more pressing, the stakes a lot higher than deciding who gets to claim a tiring political slogan that failed to deliver half of what it promised. There is still room in the deliberation over the 2016 national budget to insert safety nets for our farmers and fisher folks to help tide their industries over until more clement weather comes back and better hands take over the reins of government. Like the rest of us, they too have to pin their hopes that the next election will give us an administration with the heart and vision for the sectors that feed the country. – PT. THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO By  Ellen Tordesillas: U.S PROVOKES CHINA, PH APPLAUDS


OCTOBER 16 -The Navy Times, the official publication of the United States Navy, reported last week that “The Navy is preparing to send a surface ship inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims for its man-made island chain.” It said that the operation “could take place within days but awaits final approval from the Obama administration.” It didn’t say which of the eight islands that China occupies in the disputed waters of the South China Sea the U.S. Navy is testing the 12-nautical mile limit to underscore freedom of navigation in the disputed waters. Update:A Chinese military official warned that that the People’s Liberation Army would deliver a “head-on blow” to any foreign forces “violating” China’s sovereignty. It is important to know where the U.S. ship would be going because of the eight features that China occupies and have expanded into islands, four are rocks and are entitled to 12 nautical mile territorial sea. They are Fiery Cross, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Scarborough Shoal just off Zambales. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS states that a coastal state exercises sovereignty over its territorial sea although ships of all States enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea of other countries. The four other features located in Spratlys which are termed Low Tide Elevations or LTEs, those not visible above water at high tide, and are not entitled to the 12-nautical mile territorial sea are Mischief Reef, Kennan Reef, Gaven Reef and Subi Reef. The United States planned military action to venture into China’s claimed territorial sea is a major shift from its policy articulated by Admiral Scott Harbison Swift, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, in an interview with Manila reporters last July. Swift said that while they operate regularly in the 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone of coastal states because the U.S. stand is that international law allows them that, they don’t do that in other countries’ territorial waters. “We don’t operate within the territorial seas of those countries. We honor those territorial claims just as a matter of international law,” Swift said. When asked about the artificial islands created by China through reclamation, Swift also said he has to defer to lawyers because “There are many definitions what islands are.” But he said their basis is “the original land that it occurred. If it’s a rock under the definition of UNCLOS, it will still be a rock.” Last week, in a maritime conference in Sydney, Swift took a hard line stand: “Some nations continue to impose superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). This trend is particularly egregious in contested waters.” READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: UNITY IN THE LP


PCTPBER 16 -THE CHIEF CAMPAIGNER: THE MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL CARTOON, MAY 2013 They include Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Leila de Lima, Jericho Petilla, Joel Villanueva, Mark Lapid, Riza Hontiveros, Cresente Paez, and Nariman Ambolodto. At a time when unity is imperative among candidates girding and gearing up for battle because of the coming national elections it looks like the ruling Liberal Party, the party of President Benigno Aquino III, still has to do some mending in the area of unity. Leaders of the party aside from Aquino and his presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, are faced with consolidation problems partly because of jockeying and positioning in connection with the drafting of a senatorial lineup. It is good that the slate has been completed. Malicious aspersions aside, many wonder how an otherwise benign entertainment number was blown out of proportion in the case of the Playgirls’ allegedly lewd performance at the oath-taking rites of new LP members in Laguna. This cost the senatorial ambition of MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, or at least his desire to be included in the LP senatorial slate. The status of TESDA director general Joel Villanueva is another case in point. He may find it awkward to be on the same stage with Leila de Lima, endorsing each other’s candidacy for a Senate seat, swearing to high heavens that they are the disciples of “Daang Matuwid”, when in fact she was the one who processed and pushed the filing of graft and corruption charges against him at the Office of the Ombudsman, in connection with the illegal misuse of the pork barrel. As if these are not enough, the LP has to grapple with the problem named Ping Lacson, arguably a winning candidate. But Lacson has lately been critical of some pronouncements and actions of President Aquino, and Liberal Party members wanting presidential notice are disappointed and dissatisfied at the grant of a slate spot for Lacson. Mark Lapid, erstwhile an outsider because of his GMA connections, is also expected to meet some problems with his colleagues in the slate. Sooner than later, the LP will have to find solutions to these internal tensions. Until then, it will be a long time to May 2016. THE FULL EDITORIAL.

ALSO By Dahli Aspillera: INSPIRED BY NO. 6 SURVEY RANKING


OCTOBER 16 -ZUBIRI JUAN Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator as an independent on Wednesday at the Commission on Elections head office, accompanied by his wife, newspaper lifestyle columnist Audrey Tan-Zubiri. Inspired by his No. 6 ranking in the latest survey of senatorial preferences, “I’ve been very happy quietly living a private life with Audrey and our three kids, and tending to our small business for more than two years now. I really had no plans to return to politics....But people have been walking up to me and encouraging me to run for the Senate. So here I am, moved and overwhelmed by their support. “As Heneral Antonio Luna said: ‘Negosyo or kalayaan? Bayan o sarili?’ Yan po ang ating Artikulo Uno!” Zubiri said, quoting lines from Heneral Luna, the blockbuster 2015 Filipino historical biopic film depicting General Antonio Luna’s leadership of the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the Philippine-American War. In the Sept. 8-14 Pulse Asia Research Inc. survey of senatorial preferences, Zubiri emerged as the sixth most favored by voters, after Vicente Sotto III, Panfilo Lacson, Franklin Drilon, Francisco Pangilinan and Ralph Recto, without counting Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has filed his COC for vice president. “As we embark on a national campaign, we are truly proud to say that the Zubiri name has never been tarnished by corruption -- not even at the height of the PDAF scam,” Zubiri said, referring to the widespread Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel rip-off that has ruined dozens of past and incumbent lawmakers. “As an independent candidate, I am absolutely convinced that I will be able to humbly serve our people better in the Senate. The Filipino family and the people will be my party. READ MORE...

ALSO By E. Tordesillas: A GOOD LIST TO CHOOSE FROM FOR NEXT BATCH OF SENATORS


OCTOBER 19 -
By Ellen Tordesillas A total of 130 have filed certificates of candidacy for president in the May 2016 elections and 19 for vice president. There are 172 who are vying for the 12 slots in the Senate. The five reelectionist senators – Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III, Vicente Sotto III- have an edge being familiar names and having an established nationwide machinery. Unless something terribly awful happens that would involve them in controversy before the elections, they are expected to be in the Magic 12. There are four former senators who want to return to the Senate and they also enjoy an advantage in terms of name recall. They are Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Richard Gordon, Francis Pangilinan, and Juan Miguel Zubiri. But it’s not a comfortable advantage as experienced by Gordon in the 2013 elections (he placed number 13 in the election topped by Grace Poe) and Zubiri, who placed 14th. With the nine slots almost taken up by re-electionist and former senators, it would be an uphill battle for the new aspirants for the Senate except probably for boxing idol Manny Pacquiao. But even Pacquiao can’t be sure. Many applaud him as a boxer but he has nothing to be proud of as a legislator representing Saranggani province. He was an absentee congressman. He had also lost an election in 2007 although he bounced back in the succeeding elections and has established himself and members of his family, including his wife, Jinky, as a political force in the South Cotabato and Saranggani politics. Of the new senatorial candidates, it’s former Justice Leila de Lima who fared well in last survey (September 2015) of Pulse Asia for the senatorial race. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

SUPREME COURT AND THE BUDGET


EDITORIAL The Philippine Star) | Updated July 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, OCTOBER 19, 2015 (MALAYA) October 08, 2015 - THE national budget originates as a voluminous proposal from Malacañang, sent to the House of Representatives and the Senate for passage into law, known as the General Appropriations Act.

The Senate and the House conduct hearings among Executive Department heads to justify their budgets. Constitutional commissions and bodies, including the Judiciary, may also be called to these budget hearings. They later pass a comprehensive, consolidated bill, send it to the Palace and the President signs or vetoes the document. Trillions of pesos may now be spent for various government programs, projects and services.

But what happens when the general public sees something wrong with the GAA? They go to the Supreme Court for relief.

That is exactly what a group of petitioners, including Philippine Constitution Association president Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Benjamin Diokno, Norberto Gonzales, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Fernando Capalla, Romulo de la Cruz and Leonor Briones, did.

Now the High Court has ordered the Palace and Congress to answer the complaints of the group that the GAA has revived the pork barrel. At the end of the en banc session of the Supreme Court last Oct. 6, with Associate Justice Arturo Brion presiding, the Commission on Audit (COA) was also ordered to comment on the petitions within 10 days.

The group has questioned particular provisions in the national budget, specifically Sections 65, 70 and 73 of the GAA and special provisions for special purpose funds (SPF).

READ MORE...

These questioned provisions, the petitioners claimed, allow the Cabinet secretaries and other heads of offices to juggle allocation of funds from a Congress-approved project to one that is just pinpointed by the agency head. This is no different from the much-criticized Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), they said.

The group also said a show cause order should be issued against the Congress and Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad for “flagrant disobedience, resistance and disregard of the decisions of the Supreme Court in the PDAF and DAP cases.”

It should be recalled that the SC found four practices in the implementation of DAP as unconstitutional, and should not be repeated.

It is well that the High Court is there to nip in the bud any attempt to revive the pork barrel. We’ve had enough of this animal.


EDITORIAL: THAT OTHER RACE October 15, 2015



BEFORE we get too caught up in the election swirl, the Department of Agriculture tells us that we have lost ground again in a bigger, more serious race for food self-sufficiency.

Local farm outputs are all on the retreat this year belying even the modest growth projections submitted by the DA at the start of 2015.

At the moment, the fight has been reduced to keeping things even at the previous year’s level and it is going to be an uphill push to even meet that with the delayed rainfall and shortened wet season. Farmers and agriculture officials are already resigned to a lower second half outputs of rice and corn.

A prolonged rainless period stretching well into the middle of next year would put more pressure on our farming sector to meet the demands of feeding 101 million mouths.

We had our chances at mitigating the impact of the cyclical advent of the El Niño phenomenon but agencies entrusted with the responsibility, like the DA and National Irrigation Administration, proved too short in foresight and too inept at meeting the challenge.

From there the reports only get grimmer as a scientific study coming out of Australia predicted a decline in ocean productivity as another unseen effect of climate change.

That is another blow to the local fishing industry that has already seen contraction at P139.8 billion in 2014, compared to P140.04 billion in 2013.

These issues are more pressing, the stakes a lot higher than deciding who gets to claim a tiring political slogan that failed to deliver half of what it promised.

There is still room in the deliberation over the 2016 national budget to insert safety nets for our farmers and fisher folks to help tide their industries over until more clement weather comes back and better hands take over the reins of government.

Like the rest of us, they too have to pin their hopes that the next election will give us an administration with the heart and vision for the sectors that feed the country. – PT.


U.S PROVOKES CHINA, PH APPLAUDS By Ellen Tordesillas October 16, 2015 e.’


 By Ellen Tordesillas

The Navy Times, the official publication of the United States Navy, reported last week that “The Navy is preparing to send a surface ship inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims for its man-made island chain.” It said that the operation “could take place within days but awaits final approval from the Obama administration.” It didn’t say which of the eight islands that China occupies in the disputed waters of the South China Sea the U.S. Navy is testing the 12-nautical mile limit to underscore freedom of navigation in the disputed waters.

Update:A Chinese military official warned that that the People’s Liberation Army would deliver a “head-on blow” to any foreign forces “violating” China’s sovereignty. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/940258b2-7340-11e5-a129-3fcc4f641d98.html#axzz3ogWqjSe6)


The USS Kidd sailing off to Spratlys. Photo from The Diplomat. The USS Kidd sailing off to Spratlys. Photo from The Diplomat.

It is important to know where the U.S. ship would be going because of the eight features that China occupies and have expanded into islands, four are rocks and are entitled to 12 nautical mile territorial sea. They are Fiery Cross, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Scarborough Shoal just off Zambales.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS states that a coastal state exercises sovereignty over its territorial sea although ships of all States enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea of other countries.

The four other features located in Spratlys which are termed Low Tide Elevations or LTEs, those not visible above water at high tide, and are not entitled to the 12-nautical mile territorial sea are Mischief Reef, Kennan Reef, Gaven Reef and Subi Reef.

The United States planned military action to venture into China’s claimed territorial sea is a major shift from its policy articulated by Admiral Scott Harbison Swift, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, in an interview with Manila reporters last July.

Swift said that while they operate regularly in the 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone of coastal states because the U.S. stand is that international law allows them that, they don’t do that in other countries’ territorial waters.

“We don’t operate within the territorial seas of those countries. We honor those territorial claims just as a matter of international law,” Swift said.

When asked about the artificial islands created by China through reclamation, Swift also said he has to defer to lawyers because “There are many definitions what islands are.”

But he said their basis is “the original land that it occurred. If it’s a rock under the definition of UNCLOS, it will still be a rock.”

Last week, in a maritime conference in Sydney, Swift took a hard line stand: “Some nations continue to impose superfluous warnings and restrictions on freedom of the seas in their exclusive economic zones and claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent with (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). This trend is particularly egregious in contested waters.”

READ MORE...

There has been no reported incident, however, of any ship that was blocked by China in South China Sea where some $5.3 trillion worth of trade pass through every year.

Last September, P8-A Poseidon, America’s most advanced surveillance and submarine-hunting aircraft, was shooed away by the Chinese Navy when it tried to fly over the islands occupied by China.

Innocent passage allowed under UNCLOS does not include acts aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State.

The Navy Times article quoted David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asia-Pacific security, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. Navy hadn’t steamed or flown within 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands since 2012.

China started the reclamation and construction of installations in its occupied features in Spratlys after the Philippines filed a suit before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in January 2013 to invalidate China’s 9-dashed line map.


Gaven Reef (Chinese name: Nanxun Jiao) Gaven Reef (Chinese name: Nanxun Jiao)

The Navy Times article pointed out a possible complication in the U.S. Navy’s plan to sail into China’s occupied islands in Spratlys: “Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said that passage through territorial waters is a routine Navy operation typically used to build a legal case under international law for freedom of navigation in international waters, and right of innocent passage within territorial waters.

“Innocent passage, the right of a state to pass through the territorial waters of another, is usually conducted with little fanfare. But what makes the planned passage through China’s newly claimed territorial waters significant is that the administration had previously prohibited the Navy from doing it in the Spratly Islands, Clark said.

“’If you act like they have a legal 12-mile limit, even though the U.S. has said it doesn’t recognize it, you are tacitly acknowledging those claims as legitimate,’ Clark said, adding that even if the claims were legitimate, the U.S. would have the right to pass through under the right of innocent passage.”

The Navy Times said the Chinese government claimed the same right when its Navy’s ships passed within 12 nautical miles of the U.S.-held Aleutian Islands off Alaska In September, after a joint exercise with the Russian military.

The Philippines, which has conflicting claims on Spratlys with China (other claimants are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan), welcomed the U.S. Navy’s plan to venture inside the 12-nautical mile zone of islands occupied by China.

Lawyer Harry Roque, who specializes in international law, said “It is regrettable the Philippine government has endorsed the recent U.S provocations. It should be reminded that this support may have adverse effects on our arbitration under the principle that no one should come to court with unclean hands.”

Roque, who is aiming for a congressional seat via the partylist, Kabayan, said the U.S. plan does not contribute to peace and stability in the region. “While China cannot claim that any of its artificial islands can generate any maritime zones since all of them are low tide elevations, the act of the US in sailing near these islands only exacerbates an already tense situation and amounts to provocation. The West Philippine Sea dispute should be resolved under the rule of law and all stakeholders must uphold international law especially the prohibition on the use and the threat on the use of force.”

In supporting the U.S. game of brinkmanship with China, the Aquino government should be reminded of an African proverb, “When (two) elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”


INSPIRED BY NO. 6 SURVEY RANKING By Dahli Aspillera October 16, 2015


Dahli Aspillera

JUAN Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator as an independent on Wednesday at the Commission on Elections head office, accompanied by his wife, newspaper lifestyle columnist Audrey Tan-Zubiri.

Inspired by his No. 6 ranking in the latest survey of senatorial preferences, “I’ve been very happy quietly living a private life with Audrey and our three kids, and tending to our small business for more than two years now. I really had no plans to return to politics....But people have been walking up to me and encouraging me to run for the Senate. So here I am, moved and overwhelmed by their support.

“As Heneral Antonio Luna said: ‘Negosyo or kalayaan? Bayan o sarili?’ Yan po ang ating Artikulo Uno!” Zubiri said, quoting lines from Heneral Luna, the blockbuster 2015 Filipino historical biopic film depicting General Antonio Luna’s leadership of the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the Philippine-American War.

In the Sept. 8-14 Pulse Asia Research Inc. survey of senatorial preferences, Zubiri emerged as the sixth most favored by voters, after Vicente Sotto III, Panfilo Lacson, Franklin Drilon, Francisco Pangilinan and Ralph Recto, without counting Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has filed his COC for vice president.

“As we embark on a national campaign, we are truly proud to say that the Zubiri name has never been tarnished by corruption -- not even at the height of the PDAF scam,” Zubiri said, referring to the widespread Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel rip-off that has ruined dozens of past and incumbent lawmakers. “As an independent candidate, I am absolutely convinced that I will be able to humbly serve our people better in the Senate. The Filipino family and the people will be my party.

READ MORE...

Zubiri previously served as a senator for four years and as congressman for three consecutive terms representing the third district of Bukidnon. Zubiri’s father, Jose Jr., is the incumbent governor of Bukidnon. His older brother, Jose III, is an independent congressman.

Juan Miguel at age 47, is a veteran legislator. He served the 3rd District of Bukidnon for nine years since the 11th Congress in 1998.

He was always cited as one of the most outstanding solons. He hopes to work just as hard in the Senate to earn the same appreciation. He was the principal author of major laws such as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Rent Control Act, Wildlife Conservation Act, National Service Training Program and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Rate Pay Base Increase Act. As the father of the Biofuels Act of 2006, he earned the moniker Mr. Ethanol. He was - and still is - fondly known as one of the original Spice Boys in Congress.

His education – in Agri-Business Management - at the University of the Philippines molded his nationalist perspective.

That he translated into a social reform agenda resulting into laws for the welfare of many sectors. He is filing bills on : Workers’ Rights; Increasing the Entry-Level Pay and Retirement Pension of Public School

Teachers; Barangay Officials Monthly Honorarium, Retirement and Benefits; SSS Penalty on Loans Condonation; Strengthening the Security of Tenure; and, Increasing the Pension of All Retired Government Employees.

A trained first aider and certified rescue diver, he is a governor of the Philippine National Red Cross ; and, an active member of the Red Cross Youth Committee and Concerned Divers of the Philippines. Living as a true-blue environmentalist, he founded the Philippine Deer Foundation, a deer conservation project. He is also the Executive Director of the Palawan-based Katala Foundation which protects the Philippine cockatoo and its habitat. Hosting the weekly show Team Explorer over ABS-CBN, Migz learned the true state of our environment first-hand.


A GOOD LIST TO CHOOSE FROM FOR NEXT BATCH OF SENATORS By Ellen Tordesillas October 19, 2015 Filipinos just love elections.


By Ellen Tordesillas

A total of 130 have filed certificates of candidacy for president in the May 2016 elections and 19 for vice president.

There are 172 who are vying for the 12 slots in the Senate.

The five reelectionist senators – Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III, Vicente Sotto III- have an edge being familiar names and having an established nationwide machinery.

Unless something terribly awful happens that would involve them in controversy before the elections, they are expected to be in the Magic 12.

There are four former senators who want to return to the Senate and they also enjoy an advantage in terms of name recall. They are Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Richard Gordon, Francis Pangilinan, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

But it’s not a comfortable advantage as experienced by Gordon in the 2013 elections (he placed number 13 in the election topped by Grace Poe) and Zubiri, who placed 14th. With the nine slots almost taken up by re-electionist and former senators, it would be an uphill battle for the new aspirants for the Senate except probably for boxing idol Manny Pacquiao.

But even Pacquiao can’t be sure. Many applaud him as a boxer but he has nothing to be proud of as a legislator representing Saranggani province. He was an absentee congressman. He had also lost an election in 2007 although he bounced back in the succeeding elections and has established himself and members of his family, including his wife, Jinky, as a political force in the South Cotabato and Saranggani politics.

Of the new senatorial candidates, it’s former Justice Leila de Lima who fared well in last survey (September 2015) of Pulse Asia for the senatorial race.

READ MORE...

But while De Lima gained admiration from many for not bowing to the Iglesia ni Cristo pressure in the investigation of allegations of kidnapping and illegal detention by some members of the religious sect, that could be a problem for her come election day. Sources said the INC leadership will do everything to block De Lima’s election as senator.

INC is known to vote as a bloc. In 2001 elections, pollster Junie Laylo, then with Social Weather Stations, said “The INC’s vote strength is only about 1.2 million or 3% of the total electorate, but with a conversion rate of 68-84% that translates to about 800 thousand to 1 million votes for senatorial candidates endorsed by its leadership.”

That was in 2001. It can be presumed that the numbers have increased in the last 14 years.

“ As a solid voting bloc, INC votes can be very influential in helping borderline candidates for the Senate,” Laylo said.

But the recent controversy showed that the religious sect being a “solid voting bloc” is now in doubt.

De Lima just have to campaign very hard to overcome the INC’s lack of support. Election history has shown that there are candidates who have won without INC support.

There are a number of new senatorial aspirants who deserve to be in the Senate. I’d like to mention Neri Colmenares, Lorna Kapunan, Susan Ople, and Risa Hontiveros.

Also former Police Chief Ramon Montaño.

We have a good list to choose from.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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