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

FROM THE INQUIRER

By MARLON RAMOS:
ROXAS CAN'T SEEM TO LET GO, BUTTERS UP DUTERTE ANEW


Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II FILE PHOTO FORMER Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party standard-bearer, can’t seem to get over Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s accusation that the ruling party was behind rumors the mayor was suffering from throat cancer. After earlier denying that his camp was behind the black propaganda, Roxas on Monday expressed confidence he would remain on Duterte’s good side, referring to the mayor as “a long-time friend.” Roxas said he was saddened that he was suspected of being behind supposed efforts to discredit Duterte, who turned down the clamor of his supporters to run for president in next year’s elections. Roxas said he was able to send a personal message to the tough-talking mayor to clarify reports implicating him and his supporters in the black propaganda. Years of friendship “I’m confident he will be able to see that I had nothing to do with the intrigues or insinuations that he has been hearing lately. With our years of friendship, I will never think of doing that to him or to anybody,” Roxas told reporters at the LP headquarters in Quezon City. Roxas said he would never attack anyone by saying they had cancer, noting that he lost both his father, Sen. Gerry Roxas, and his brother, Capiz Rep. Gerardo “Dinggoy” Roxas Jr., to the disease. “To Mayor Digong,” he said, using Duterte’s nickname, “I can tell you up front, eye to eye, that I had nothing to do with it. I was not behind this nor did I order someone to do it.” No coordination He said he had no “coordination, conversation or any kind of relation” with journalist-turned-public relations practitioner Philip Lustre, who was identified by Duterte as the one who wrote an article saying he was suffering from cancer. In a radio interview last Friday, Duterte lambasted Roxas’ camp for allegedly mounting a campaign to malign him. The mayor said he was hurt by the “misinformation” about his health, noting that he had considered Roxas a friend after working with him in the 11th Congress. He also said he would “tell the entire Philippines why this person should not be elected president,” apparently referring to Roxas.THE FULL COLUMN, RELATED,
Rodrigo Duterte: Mar Roxas should not be president...

ALSO Editorial: Mocking public office
[From March 2012 to September of this year, the Reyes brothers were on the run—but apparently things were still being resolved in their favor even in their absence. Meanwhile, the Reyeses bunked down and lived it up in Phuket, Thailand, staying in a well-appointed villa and driving around in a sports utility vehicle. After they were arrested by Thai police for overstaying and turned over to Philippine authorities, the brothers’ first impulse was to put on the by-now familiar act among political big shots caught in similar straits: claim that they were sick and ask for hospital confinement. Now they are trying to reclaim their old positions, making it abundantly clear to what lengths they would go to escape accountability for the heinous crime they are facing. The Reyes brothers raised a finger at the law with their flight; they’re doing it again with their candidacies.]


AMONG THOSE who filed their candidacies last week for the 2016 polls were brothers Joel and Mario Reyes, the former governor of Palawan and former mayor of Coron town, respectively. They also happen to be the primary suspects in the murder of journalist and environmental activist Gerry Ortega. But, despite their recent apprehension in Phuket, Thailand, and subsequent detention at the Puerto Princesa City Jail after three years on the lam, they were able to file their certificates of candidacy—through Coron local government administrator Lyle Coruna, who was reportedly given a special power of attorney by the brothers to submit the papers on their behalf. Politicians in jail who still manage to run in elections are a common enough sight in these parts. Romeo Jalosjos, in prison for raping an 11-year-old girl, repeatedly ran for and won as representative of Zamboanga del Norte from behind bars. Former president Gloria Arroyo, supposedly sick and granted hospital arrest for plunder charges, has been a congresswoman of Pampanga for two terms now, and has filed her papers for a third run. Conviction alone is no longer the kind of body blow that would necessarily drive a politician out of public life for good. Joseph Estrada, the first Philippine president convicted of plunder, sought to vindicate himself first by running again as president in 2010, even placing second to Noynoy Aquino; and then, in 2013, for mayor of Manila, which he handily won. The practice has become so customary, and public outrage against it so scant, that news about political jailbirds and felons trying to regain power and influence through reelection no longer elicits even a shrug. There is, however, something quite particularly ugly and unsettling about the news of the Reyes brothers running again for public office, only a couple of weeks after their arrest at a luxury resort. The nonchalance by which these men see their incarceration for a murder charge, and their sense of entitlement over their former political posts in Palawan—as if they were merely retrieving back something they had temporarily set aside—make a mockery of the most basic sense of decency and uprightness, of what’s right and wrong in public office. The Reyeses are on the dock for the capital crime of masterminding the assassination of Ortega who, in his radio program, was critical of the former governor’s alleged questionable handling of revenues from the Malampaya gas operations in the province. Ortega was gunned down in January 2011; the alleged gunmen and several other suspects were apprehended just days later, a few of them eventually becoming state’s witnesses. READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Exacting standards
[Those exacting standards extend to the police force, where Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta and six former and five active police officials have been indicted by the Ombudsman for multiple counts of graft. Their “gross inexcusable negligence and bad faith,” in Morales’ words, led to the disappearance of 1,000 Russian-made AK-47 assault rifles worth P52 million—illicitly released to private companies, it turned out, which then sold the guns to New People’s Army rebels in Mindanao. Capiz Gov. Victor Tanco Sr. and his son, meanwhile, were not only charged with graft but also dismissed from service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office, their civil service eligibility cancelled and retirement benefits forfeited.]


Other names in government and politics may be provoking bigger headlines given the noise and fog of the coming elections, but the most committed and hardworking person in public service these days appears to be Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. In the last few days alone, Morales has filed charges against and/or removed from office a virtual rogues’ gallery of police officers, local government executives, agency heads and their various underlings for graft and corruption, extortion, grave abuse of authority and other such offenses. The flurry of suspensions and dismissals has cut across departmental or party lines. Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado was ordered suspended from office for one year for his refusal to comply with a Civil Service Commission order reinstating the provincial veterinarian. The Ombudsman’s ground was oppression and grave abuse of authority. In another administrative case, Bacolod City administrator Rolando Villamor was meted suspension for six months and one day without pay because he allegedly served as counsel for a construction firm that had filed a civil suit with the local government—a clear case of conflict of interest. To anyone who might protest that the offense appeared trifling, Morales had a stern reminder: “Respondent’s transgression erodes the public’s trust in government employees… Any act that falls short of the exacting standards for public office cannot be tolerated.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Infra sorely lacking
[Lack of infrastructure is one of the reasons often cited for the lower-than-desired inflow of foreign investments compared with our neighbors, aside from the built-in restrictions in the Constitution on the entry of foreigners in certain industries. President Aquino boasted during the Forbes event that foreign investments surged by 600 percent during his term to $6 billion as of 2014. Indeed, the growth rate was huge by international standards. But the value of inflows still paled beside those of comparable Southeast Asian peers].



EVERY BUSINESSMAN, foreign or local, seems to take every opportunity to convey to the government the Philippines’ pressing need for infrastructure, in particular airports, roads, schools and railways. The Forbes Global CEO Conference, which was held for the first time in Manila last week, was the latest venue for some of the country’s tycoons to reiterate for the nth time the importance of building infrastructure. There was praise for the Aquino administration’s performance particularly in the field of fighting corruption and in the resilience of the domestic economy. No less than the international publication’s editor in chief, Steve Forbes, commended President Aquino, who attended the CEO conference, for doing a great job leading the Philippines. That, obviously, is part of the Forbes show in Manila. The more important discussions involved the insights expressed by the leading capitalists at the gathering. Teresita Sy, now at the helm of the SM Group, delved into vocational training and argued against the government’s push for the K-to-12 program, which adds two years to the Philippines’ 10-year pre-university system. She called for the strengthening of vocational training, saying it could “open doors to an endless array of careers.” Sy pointed out that the Philippines is still a developing country and poverty remains high; as a result, not many people can afford to pay for university education. She said cheaper vocational schools would further improve people’s skills, allowing them to qualify to work in industries here and abroad. Ramon Ang, head of the San Miguel conglomerate, focused on the inefficient telecommunication services in the country. He said his company was ready to start the Philippines’ third major mobile broadband telecom network early in 2016. “We can switch on the network next year [so we won’t have] to experience problems with telecom anymore,” Ang announced to an applauding crowd. San Miguel is partnering with Australia’s biggest telecom company, Telstra Corp. (Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom dominate the Philippines’ mobile telecom industry, but both are plagued by complaints from subscribers for inefficient and poor service.) Ports tycoon Enrique Razon focused on infrastructure that could ensure the sustainability of the economic growth that the Philippines has been experiencing since Mr. Aquino took over in 2010. Razon said in an interview with the Inquirer during the Forbes CEO conference that he wanted a leader who would focus on catching up in terms of badly needed infrastructure. Looking beyond just new roads, he said that a new airport is needed and that all our neighbors have built new ones. To solve the traffic gridlock that paralyzes Metro Manila’s road network every day, Razon urged the government to build a subway system in the metropolis “instead of all these ugly MRTs and LRTs all over the place, with the buses there and jeepneys still around.”  READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: ‘Unbelievably fortunate’
[It seems it is only a matter of time before a majority of justices in the Supreme Court will take judicial notice of Arroyo’s health issues, or her stature as former senator, vice president and president, or of her age (a spry 68compared to Enrile’s 91), and grant her petition for bail on a nonbailable plunder case, for humanitarian reasons.]


Gloria Arroyo at St. Luke’s QC for overnight medical checkup October 21, 2015 10:24am GMA NEWS NETWORK It seems to be only a matter of time. On Wednesday and Thursday, former president Gloria Arroyo underwent a medical checkup at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, after the Sandiganbayan granted her a furlough from her detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on humanitarian grounds. Apparently, the hospital for veterans does not have the equipment to run the specialized tests that Arroyo requires. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued an order stopping Arroyo’s plunder trial for 30 days. The ruling was actually a status quo ante order, but it effectively granted Arroyo’s petition for a temporary restraining order against the Sandiganbayan, which is hearing her plunder case. It also allows the high court time to weigh Arroyo’s other petition, which is to reverse the antigraft court’s decision last February denying her motion for bail. These developments cannot but be understood in the context of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in Enrile vs Sandiganbayan last August, which granted bail to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile who was also in hospital detention for a plunder case. It seems it’s only a matter of time before the same slim majority in the Supreme Court will find for Arroyo, and also grant her prayer for bail on humanitarian grounds. Arroyo, a representative of the second district of Pampanga who filed her certificate of candidacy for a third term last week, is detained on the charge of illegally using P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for personal gain. She was arrested in 2012, but has been detained at the VMMC ever since because of a degenerative bone disease. In her petition to the Supreme Court, Arroyo’s counsel has included the finding of a United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which recommended that her bail application be reconsidered “in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards.” This should have no bearing on the high court’s deliberations, but who knows? The Enrile precedent proves the truth of the old axiom that the law is what a majority in the Supreme Court says it is. Consider Justice Marvic Leonen’s damning words in his vigorous dissent. Enrile’s “release for medical and humanitarian reasons was not the basis for his prayer in his Motion to Fix Bail filed before the Sandiganbayan. Neither did he base his prayer for the grant of bail in this Petition on his medical condition. The grant of bail, therefore, by the majority is a special accommodation for petitioner. It is based on a ground never raised before the Sandiganbayan or in the pleadings filed before this court.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Roxas can’t seem to let it go, butters up Duterte anew


Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II FILE PHOTO

MANILA, OCTOBER 26, 2015 (INQUIRER) By: Marlon Ramos October 20th, 2015 - FORMER Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party standard-bearer, can’t seem to get over Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s accusation that the ruling party was behind rumors the mayor was suffering from throat cancer.

After earlier denying that his camp was behind the black propaganda, Roxas on Monday expressed confidence he would remain on Duterte’s good side, referring to the mayor as “a long-time friend.”

Roxas said he was saddened that he was suspected of being behind supposed efforts to discredit Duterte, who turned down the clamor of his supporters to run for president in next year’s elections.

Roxas said he was able to send a personal message to the tough-talking mayor to clarify reports implicating him and his supporters in the black propaganda.

Years of friendship

“I’m confident he will be able to see that I had nothing to do with the intrigues or insinuations that he has been hearing lately. With our years of friendship, I will never think of doing that to him or to anybody,” Roxas told reporters at the LP headquarters in Quezon City.

Roxas said he would never attack anyone by saying they had cancer, noting that he lost both his father, Sen. Gerry Roxas, and his brother, Capiz Rep. Gerardo “Dinggoy” Roxas Jr., to the disease.

“To Mayor Digong,” he said, using Duterte’s nickname, “I can tell you up front, eye to eye, that I had nothing to do with it. I was not behind this nor did I order someone to do it.”

No coordination

He said he had no “coordination, conversation or any kind of relation” with journalist-turned-public relations practitioner Philip Lustre, who was identified by Duterte as the one who wrote an article saying he was suffering from cancer.

In a radio interview last Friday, Duterte lambasted Roxas’ camp for allegedly mounting a campaign to malign him.

The mayor said he was hurt by the “misinformation” about his health, noting that he had considered Roxas a friend after working with him in the 11th Congress.

He also said he would “tell the entire Philippines why this person should not be elected president,” apparently referring to Roxas.

--------------------------------------------

RELATED FRO RAPPLER.COM

Rodrigo Duterte: Mar Roxas should not be president (2nd UPDATE) Pia Ranada @piaranada Published 7:41 PM, October 16, 2015 Updated 12:15 AM, October 17, 2015 51 36K 355 Reddit Email 36K


'HURT.' Rodrigo Duterte says he was hurt by a rumor he had throat cancer, a rumor that he says came from Mar Roxas' camp. File photo by Karlos Manlupig

'I might just refuse to campaign for him,' the Davao City mayor says, referring to Roxas whose camp he accuses of resorting to black propaganda

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte lashed out against the camp of ruling party standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II on Friday, October 16.

Asked who he would endorse among the presidential candidates, Duterte said in an interview on radio station dzMM that he would remain "neutral," then continued that he was particularly disappointed with a particular candidate, whose camp had allegedly waged a black propaganda war against him.

"Naghihintay lang ako ng panahon, sasabihin ko sa buong Pilipinas kung bakit itong taong ito hindi puwedeng maging presidente (I'm just waiting for the right time, I'll tell the entire nation why this person cannot be president)," he said.

When asked to identify the candidate, Duterte said: "Camp ni Roxas, yung isang PR nila. Ako raw ay may cancer of the throat. Ang asawa ko, may cancer, nagkaroon ng bypass," said Duterte, referring to his ex-wife Elizabeth who recently went abroad for a bypass.

(It was from the Roxas camp, one of their public relations people. He said I had throat cancer. My wife has cancer, she underwent a bypass.)

Last September, a rumor spread that Duterte had throat cancer. Not long after, he announced for the first time that he was not running for president.

Duterte blames Roxas, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, for not being able to control people under him, one of whom allegedly released the "hurtful" misinformation.

He admitted, though that he had Buerger's disease, a constriction of the blood vessels due to nicotine. Duterte also said that he has esophageal erosion because of drinking alcohol, which his doctor said may lead to cancer if he wouldn't cut his consumption.

'Black propaganda'

Duterte said he did not know if the go-signal to spread the rumor came from Roxas himself but he said it likely had "clearance" from the higher-ups.

He said he felt hurt because he considered Roxas a friend, citing their experiences together as legislators during the 11th Congress. Roxas has also consistently referred to Duterte as a long-time friend.

Asked if he would campaign against Roxas, Duterte said, "Not necessarily, I might just refuse to campaign for him," adding that he and Roxas are "friends."

Later on, when asked whether he would urge the people not to vote for Roxas, Duterte said, "Di ko sinasabi yan. Akin lang 'yan. Bahala na ang mga tao (I'm not saying that. That's just me. The people will decide)."

Duterte was interviewed just moments after the deadline of the filing of certificates of candidacy. Many had waited for him to show up at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Intramuros, but he declared in a statement that he was not running for president.

He had made himself scarce during the past few days, issuing his latest statement only a few minutes before the 5 pm deadline.

'Unfortunate misunderstanding'

Responding to the allegations, Team Daang Matuwid Spokesperson and Representative Barry Gutierrez said in a statement, "This misunderstanding between former secretary Mar Roxas and his long-time friend Davao Mayor Digong Duterte is very unfortunate."

"Wala po sa pagkatao ni Sec Mar na magpakalat ng mga ganitong storya, lalo na tungkol sa isang taong matagal na niyang kaibigan. Kung maaalala natin, biktima ng kanser ang pumanaw niyang ama at kapatid, kaya sensitibo ang issue na ito sa kanya," he added.

(It's out of character for Sec Mar to spread stories like these, especially about someone who has long been his friend. If we recall, his father and brother were victims of cancer, that's why this issue is sensitive for him.)

During all his years as Davao City mayor, not once did he employ "black propaganda" against his political rivals, Duterte emphasized.

Duterte also had a theory on why there was a clamor for him to run: People weren't satisfied with the choices. He said neophyte Senator Grace Poe is under threat of disqualification while Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is facing corruption charges, may go to jail.

"Kay Grace, sayang boto mo baka ma-disqualify. Itong si Binay baka makulong....Ito namang si Mar Roxas, baka sakaling maisipan niya na madisiplina niya ang mga tao niya. it could be very costly sa kanya yan, " he said.

(With Grace, your vote might go to waste because she could get disqualified. Binay might go to jail. As for Roxas, he may decide to discipline his people. It could be very costly for him.) – Rappler.com


Mocking public office @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:13 AM October 20th, 2015

AMONG THOSE who filed their candidacies last week for the 2016 polls were brothers Joel and Mario Reyes, the former governor of Palawan and former mayor of Coron town, respectively. They also happen to be the primary suspects in the murder of journalist and environmental activist Gerry Ortega. But, despite their recent apprehension in Phuket, Thailand, and subsequent detention at the Puerto Princesa City Jail after three years on the lam, they were able to file their certificates of candidacy—through Coron local government administrator Lyle Coruna, who was reportedly given a special power of attorney by the brothers to submit the papers on their behalf.

Politicians in jail who still manage to run in elections are a common enough sight in these parts. Romeo Jalosjos, in prison for raping an 11-year-old girl, repeatedly ran for and won as representative of Zamboanga del Norte from behind bars. Former president Gloria Arroyo, supposedly sick and granted hospital arrest for plunder charges, has been a congresswoman of Pampanga for two terms now, and has filed her papers for a third run.

Conviction alone is no longer the kind of body blow that would necessarily drive a politician out of public life for good. Joseph Estrada, the first Philippine president convicted of plunder, sought to vindicate himself first by running again as president in 2010, even placing second to Noynoy Aquino; and then, in 2013, for mayor of Manila, which he handily won. The practice has become so customary, and public outrage against it so scant, that news about political jailbirds and felons trying to regain power and influence through reelection no longer elicits even a shrug.

There is, however, something quite particularly ugly and unsettling about the news of the Reyes brothers running again for public office, only a couple of weeks after their arrest at a luxury resort. The nonchalance by which these men see their incarceration for a murder charge, and their sense of entitlement over their former political posts in Palawan—as if they were merely retrieving back something they had temporarily set aside—make a mockery of the most basic sense of decency and uprightness, of what’s right and wrong in public office.

The Reyeses are on the dock for the capital crime of masterminding the assassination of Ortega who, in his radio program, was critical of the former governor’s alleged questionable handling of revenues from the Malampaya gas operations in the province. Ortega was gunned down in January 2011; the alleged gunmen and several other suspects were apprehended just days later, a few of them eventually becoming state’s witnesses.

READ MORE...

Three weeks after Ortega’s death, his family filed murder charges against the Reyeses and eight other people at the Department of Justice. The first DOJ panel overturned the charges, but following a public uproar, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima formed a second panel, which found probable cause against the Reyeses—a move the brothers contested, successfully, before the Court of Appeals. However, when Puerto Princesa’s Regional Trial Court Branch 52 issued warrants of arrest against the brothers, they vanished—under the law, their flight already an indication of guilt. The Reyeses fled the country reportedly with fake passports, becoming among the country’s most wanted fugitives with a P2-million reward on each for information about them.

From March 2012 to September of this year, the Reyes brothers were on the run—but apparently things were still being resolved in their favor even in their absence. One of the state’s witnesses, detained in Quezon province, was found dead in his cell. The National Bureau of Investigation declared it was suicide, but a re-autopsy determined that the witness had died by strangulation.

Meanwhile, the Reyeses bunked down and lived it up in Phuket, Thailand, staying in a well-appointed villa and driving around in a sports utility vehicle. After they were arrested by Thai police for overstaying and turned over to Philippine authorities, the brothers’ first impulse was to put on the by-now familiar act among political big shots caught in similar straits: claim that they were sick and ask for hospital confinement.

Now they are trying to reclaim their old positions, making it abundantly clear to what lengths they would go to escape accountability for the heinous crime they are facing. The Reyes brothers raised a finger at the law with their flight; they’re doing it again with their candidacies.


Editorial: Exacting standards SHARES: 312 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:39 AM October 24th, 2015



Other names in government and politics may be provoking bigger headlines given the noise and fog of the coming elections, but the most committed and hardworking person in public service these days appears to be Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

In the last few days alone, Morales has filed charges against and/or removed from office a virtual rogues’ gallery of police officers, local government executives, agency heads and their various underlings for graft and corruption, extortion, grave abuse of authority and other such offenses. The flurry of suspensions and dismissals has cut across departmental or party lines.

Camarines Norte Gov. Edgardo Tallado was ordered suspended from office for one year for his refusal to comply with a Civil Service Commission order reinstating the provincial veterinarian. The Ombudsman’s ground was oppression and grave abuse of authority. In another administrative case,

Bacolod City administrator Rolando Villamor was meted suspension for six months and one day without pay because he allegedly served as counsel for a construction firm that had filed a civil suit with the local government—a clear case of conflict of interest. To anyone who might protest that the offense appeared trifling, Morales had a stern reminder:

“Respondent’s transgression erodes the public’s trust in government employees… Any act that falls short of the exacting standards for public office cannot be tolerated.”

READ MORE...

Those exacting standards extend to the police force, where Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta and six former and five active police officials have been indicted by the Ombudsman for multiple counts of graft. Their “gross inexcusable negligence and bad faith,” in Morales’ words, led to the disappearance of 1,000 Russian-made AK-47 assault rifles worth P52 million—illicitly released to private companies, it turned out, which then sold the guns to New People’s Army rebels in Mindanao.

Capiz Gov. Victor Tanco Sr. and his son, meanwhile, were not only charged with graft but also dismissed from service and perpetually disqualified from holding public office, their civil service eligibility cancelled and retirement benefits forfeited. The Tancos allegedly extorted P3 million from a contractor in exchange for the release of funds for a multimillion-peso hospital project.

The Tanco decision echoes the Ombudsman’s action in the case of suspended Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, who was subsequently ordered dismissed from service and likewise perpetually disqualified from public office in connection with “strong evidence” that have “remained unrebutted,” showing massive overpricing and related alleged anomalies in the construction of a Makati City parking building worth P2.28 billion. Ordered dismissed along with Binay were 19 other city officials.

The much bigger case of the pork barrel scam has not escaped Morales either. Last week, she dismissed from service five officials of the Technology Resource Center, including its deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, on grounds of “grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”

Cunanan and four other TRC officers allegedly facilitated the illegal disbursement of the pork barrel funds of three former congressmen: Alvin Sandoval of Malabon-Navotas, Anthony Miranda of Isabela, and Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro. All three former lawmakers are likewise facing charges of graft for their supposed participation in the scam.

The TRC was one of the most notorious government agencies to emerge from the revelations on the widespread money-laundering operations run by Janet Napoles.

Cunanan’s agency reportedly served as a conduit through which kickbacks from the pork barrel allocation of a number of lawmakers, including indicted senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile, were processed. Whistle-blower Benhur Luy also claimed that Cunanan had routinely received a 10-percent commission from the scheme.

Morales had previously denied Cunanan’s request to turn state’s witness. Her dismissal of him from service, on top of the slew of charges he still faces, is a timely reminder from the Office of the Ombudsman that the pork barrel scam, despite having by now largely faded from the headlines, remains a piece of unfinished business for the antigraft body, and that its redoubtable head is not in any way through with it.


Infra sorely lacking @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:12 AM October 19th, 2015

EVERY BUSINESSMAN, foreign or local, seems to take every opportunity to convey to the government the Philippines’ pressing need for infrastructure, in particular airports, roads, schools and railways. The Forbes Global CEO Conference, which was held for the first time in Manila last week, was the latest venue for some of the country’s tycoons to reiterate for the nth time the importance of building infrastructure.

There was praise for the Aquino administration’s performance particularly in the field of fighting corruption and in the resilience of the domestic economy. No less than the international publication’s editor in chief, Steve Forbes, commended President Aquino, who attended the CEO conference, for doing a great job leading the Philippines. That, obviously, is part of the Forbes show in Manila. The more important discussions involved the insights expressed by the leading capitalists at the gathering.

Teresita Sy, now at the helm of the SM Group, delved into vocational training and argued against the government’s push for the K-to-12 program, which adds two years to the Philippines’ 10-year pre-university system. She called for the strengthening of vocational training, saying it could “open doors to an endless array of careers.” Sy pointed out that the Philippines is still a developing country and poverty remains high; as a result, not many people can afford to pay for university education. She said cheaper vocational schools would further improve people’s skills, allowing them to qualify to work in industries here and abroad.

Ramon Ang, head of the San Miguel conglomerate, focused on the inefficient telecommunication services in the country. He said his company was ready to start the Philippines’ third major mobile broadband telecom network early in 2016. “We can switch on the network next year [so we won’t have] to experience problems with telecom anymore,” Ang announced to an applauding crowd. San Miguel is partnering with Australia’s biggest telecom company, Telstra Corp. (Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom dominate the Philippines’ mobile telecom industry, but both are plagued by complaints from subscribers for inefficient and poor service.)

Ports tycoon Enrique Razon focused on infrastructure that could ensure the sustainability of the economic growth that the Philippines has been experiencing since Mr. Aquino took over in 2010. Razon said in an interview with the Inquirer during the Forbes CEO conference that he wanted a leader who would focus on catching up in terms of badly needed infrastructure. Looking beyond just new roads, he said that a new airport is needed and that all our neighbors have built new ones. To solve the traffic gridlock that paralyzes Metro Manila’s road network every day, Razon urged the government to build a subway system in the metropolis “instead of all these ugly MRTs and LRTs all over the place, with the buses there and jeepneys still around.”

READ MORE...

Lack of infrastructure is one of the reasons often cited for the lower-than-desired inflow of foreign investments compared with our neighbors, aside from the built-in restrictions in the Constitution on the entry of foreigners in certain industries. President Aquino boasted during the Forbes event that foreign investments surged by 600 percent during his term to $6 billion as of 2014. Indeed, the growth rate was huge by international standards. But the value of inflows still paled beside those of comparable Southeast Asian peers.

Based on data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), the Philippines got more FDIs last year than Cambodia’s $1.73 billion, Myanmar’s $946 million and Laos’ $721 million. But it was below Vietnam’s $9.2 billion, Malaysia’s $10.8 billion, Thailand’s $12.57 billion, Indonesia’s $22.58 billion and Singapore’s $67.52 billion.

Hopes were very high when Mr. Aquino announced his flagship Public Private Partnership infrastructure development program during his first State-of-the-Nation Address in 2010. More than five years into his term, the few big-ticket projects that have been awarded are facing delays, and many others have yet to be bid out. Indeed, it will be a long wait for Filipinos to enjoy the benefits of sufficient infrastructure. The sad part is that the government had the opportunity and all the funds to have seen many of these projects through.


Editorial: ‘Unbelievably fortunate’ @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:18 AM October 23rd, 2015

It seems to be only a matter of time. On Wednesday and Thursday, former president Gloria Arroyo underwent a medical checkup at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, after the Sandiganbayan granted her a furlough from her detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on humanitarian grounds. Apparently, the hospital for veterans does not have the equipment to run the specialized tests that Arroyo requires.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued an order stopping Arroyo’s plunder trial for 30 days. The ruling was actually a status quo ante order, but it effectively granted Arroyo’s petition for a temporary restraining order against the Sandiganbayan, which is hearing her plunder case. It also allows the high court time to weigh Arroyo’s other petition, which is to reverse the antigraft court’s decision last February denying her motion for bail.

These developments cannot but be understood in the context of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in Enrile vs Sandiganbayan last August, which granted bail to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile who was also in hospital detention for a plunder case. It seems it’s only a matter of time before the same slim majority in the Supreme Court will find for Arroyo, and also grant her prayer for bail on humanitarian grounds.

Arroyo, a representative of the second district of Pampanga who filed her certificate of candidacy for a third term last week, is detained on the charge of illegally using P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for personal gain. She was arrested in 2012, but has been detained at the VMMC ever since because of a degenerative bone disease.

In her petition to the Supreme Court, Arroyo’s counsel has included the finding of a United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which recommended that her bail application be reconsidered “in accordance with the relevant international human rights standards.” This should have no bearing on the high court’s deliberations, but who knows? The Enrile precedent proves the truth of the old axiom that the law is what a majority in the Supreme Court says it is.

Consider Justice Marvic Leonen’s damning words in his vigorous dissent. Enrile’s “release for medical and humanitarian reasons was not the basis for his prayer in his Motion to Fix Bail filed before the Sandiganbayan. Neither did he base his prayer for the grant of bail in this Petition on his medical condition. The grant of bail, therefore, by the majority is a special accommodation for petitioner. It is based on a ground never raised before the Sandiganbayan or in the pleadings filed before this court.”

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When the Enrile decision was released, both Malacañang and the Department of Justice expressed concern. Palace spokesperson Abigail Valte noted that the sweeping decision was “essentially uncharted territory.” Then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima worried about “the lack of guidance or standards in the majority ruling as to how to deal with similar petitions for bail.” They must surely have had the case of former president Arroyo in mind.

Leonen’s own dissent was concerned less about sailing into uncharted waters and more about using a ship that only the very privileged can afford. “Our precedents show that when there are far less powerful, less fortunate, poorer accused, this court has had no difficulty denying a motion to fix bail or motion to set bail where the crime charged carries the imposable penalty of reclusion perpetua. With less powerful accused, we have had no difficulty reading the plain meaning of Article III, Section 13 of the Constitution. With those who are less fortunate in life, there are no exceptions.” And then the clincher:

“Petitioner in this case is unbelievably more fortunate.”

It seems it is only a matter of time before a majority of justices in the Supreme Court will take judicial notice of Arroyo’s health issues, or her stature as former senator, vice president and president, or of her age (a spry 68 compared to Enrile’s 91), and grant her petition for bail on a nonbailable plunder case, for humanitarian reasons.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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