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


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

FROM PHILSTAR

BY ELFREN CRUZ: THE AQUINO LEGACY, AN ENDURING BOOK


By Elfren S. Cruz Last Thursday, Nov. 26, on the eve of Ninoy Aquino’s 83rd birthday, Neni and I launched a book which we co-authored. Here are excerpts from the preface to the book which was written by Neni: The Aquino Legacy: An Enduring Narrative has been an extraordinary experience for both of us. And why another Aquino book? What is it about Ninoy and Cory that we do not know yet. The idea for a book came from Elfren who strongly felt that the contributions of Ninoy and Cory Aquino to the Filipino people’s struggle for democracy are too significant to risk being forgotten. We feel this especially critical these days as history is in serious danger of being rewritten and altered by individuals who see a kinder and more heroic portrayals of themselves in the memory of a nation. This has greater relevance these days as the dark period of martial law is being dismissed and glossed over as an epoch that must now be forgotten. We feel this urgency as some quarters urge us to “move on.” As if the remembrance of things past and sordid and painful posed an obstacle to our progress and maturity as a nation. Many of us bear the scars of martial law, some more deeply than others, and are burdened with traumatic stories that need to be retold over and over again – for the healing that comes with every retelling. These essays are written especially for the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000. This is the generation that may only know Ninoy and Cory as the parents of P-Noy or the face of our currency bills. The lives of Ninoy and Cory may appear more like magical realism than stark reality, for truly how does one weave such a drama even with the more imaginative conjuring? There is the charismatic opposition freedom fighter destined to be the president of the land, suffering years of isolation and detention, then returns home from exile, only to be swiftly assassinated at his homecoming. There is the nonpolitician widowed wife forced to carry on her slain husband’s anti-dictatorship struggle and emerges as the president after the ouster of the dictator. And, of course, there is the only son, as reluctant a presidential candidate as his mother, who becomes the 15th president 10 months after his mother’s death. How can one family be fated to endure all that? But such are the incomprehensible ways of fate and destiny. READ MORE...

ALSO By Bobit Avila: SM Seaside City ushers new beginnings for Cebu!


The Cube in Cebu: The landmark at SM Seaside City Cebu PHILSTAR FILE All roads in Cebu City leads to the much awaited and newly opened SM Seaside City at the South Road Properties (SRP) which had a formal blessing last Thursday afternoon with no less than his eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and his excellency Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma officiating the Holy Mass. On hand to cut the ribbon was Mrs. Felicidad Sy, wife of Mr. Henry Sy and Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc. with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III. In his speech, Cardinal Vidal recalled the times if yesteryears when he would visit Mrs. Sy in the SM Store in Avenida Rizal in downtown Manila. But the new SM Seaside City is for us Cebuanos not just another shopping mall that we can be proud of, that when we have visitors coming we’d be taking them to SM Seaside City, as it will be one of Cebu’s “must see” tourist destinations. If you were playing golf at the Alta Vista Golf & Country Club, you’d think that the SM Seaside City is a huge luxury vessel that just docked in the pier in Cebu City. But from the air as you arrive from Manila, SM Seaside City looks like a huge alien spaceship that landed at the SRP. The edifice is circular and I reckon that it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest SM store in the country! Mind you, the opening of SM Seaside City also marked a new beginning for Cebu because the SM Group has already brought in 77 Hybrid air-conditioned buses to ply certain routes within Cebu City. Cebu has just waited too long for that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to materialize. At the way the government bureaucracy is dragging its feet, I don’t see the BRT operating in Cebu City in the next three years. But the private sector won’t wait for the BRT and so SM will have to push through with its new buses and I dare challenge the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to grant these buses its approval or we just might file cases against these useless national government agencies because those 77 Hybrid buses are already here waiting to start operations. During the inauguration of the SM Seaside City, I learned (but did not yet see it) that they brought back the Ice Skating Rink inside this fabulous Mall. I also got hold of new information… first that the group that brought you the Manila Ocean Park in Luneta is also opening one in Cebu. This is a tourist destination that Cebu direly needs. Lastly, I heard that SM would soon be constructing the ARENA at the SM Seaside City just like what they have in the Mall of Asia! When SM does this…. (I hope they’ll build a bigger one than that in MOA) Cebu will finally have the right place to hold those concerts that are only happening in Manila. Kudos to the Sy family and the SM Prime Holdings for the opening of the SM Seaside City. You make us Cebuanos proud of SM! READ MORE...

ALSO By Sara Soliven De Guzman: A nation yearning to vote


By Sara Soliven De Guzman
Much has been raised and said about the Smartmatic Automated Election System since it was decided that the Philippines will automate its electoral process. Whether intentionally or unintentionally the whole issue is debated between the legal legislation that our Commission on Election argues and prepared with and the logical technology details the automation process is positively justified with. It has become a battle of legal assertion and demands versus the technological systematical steps the automated process are described and engineered with. Last week Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. bagged another deal for the May 2016 elections – to supply the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with the equipment for the transmission of election results. The deal is said to have generated P50-million savings for the government. If you remember, Smartmatic also provided the same services in the 2010 and 2013 elections. For a nation at the crossroads, traumatized with what has become of the “daang matuwid” of the present administration, a “failure of election” can truly dampen the people’s morale and self-confidence. The “right of suffrage,” a fundamental right in a democracy, must be safeguarded without compromise. To subvert or pervert it is a criminal act that must never go unpunished. For if an electorate loses faith in its government, anarchy can only set in. Internal strife in government has brought about violent activities and destabilization efforts orchestrated by lawless elements in the society. Leadership has weakened. This is why we must make the coming elections work. We must demand for transparency as an important feature of the 2016 elections. When the Supreme Court disqualified Smartmatic’s bid to refurbish the 81,000 old PCOS machines at P1.6 billion because of its failure to comply with the national procurement law, many believed that at last there was a chance for an alternative voting system. But after awhile, the Comelec reconsidered its position, and qualified Smartmatic to bid again for the refurbishment of the old machines. However, as we all know, Smartmatic refused to bid one more time. Instead they offered a bid for lease of 93,977 units of the Optical Mark Reader at the cost of P12.641 billion. So, instead of a less expensive election without Smartmatic in the picture, it looks like 2016 elections will be more expensive with Smartmatic playing a stronger role. As an independent agency of the government, Comelec’s role is to ensure that the civil rights of the people is adhered to as stated in the Constitution and not as Comelec pleases. READ MORE...

ALS By Jarius Bondoc: Raps vs Vitangcol mere cover-up? Abaya commits more wrongs


PHILSTAR September25, 2014 PHOTO:  Former Metro Rail Transit General Managel Al Vitangcol III and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya face charges in the allegedly anomalous train maintenance contract amounting to P517.5 million. Philstar/file | PCOO The graft indictment of MRT-3 manager Al S. Vitangcol is a virtual cover-up. The rap singles him out, and lets off the hook his co-conspirator-superiors at the DOTC. Thus it conceals their bigger crime of plunder of P535 million for the ruling Liberal Party. Vitangcol is likely to go to jail – alone. His is an open and shut case, as exposed in this space in May 2014. He contracted for six months’ maintenance work, at $1.15 million (P51 million) a month starting Oct. 20, 2012, a company in which his uncle-in-law Arturo V. Soriano is one of five incorporator-directors. He did it by closed-door negotiating instead of public bidding. That company, PH Trams, was only two months old at the time, with mere P625,000-capital, and no experience in railways. The Ombudsman saw two violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act: giving undue advantage and preference to a contractor, if not gross inexcusable negligence; and directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in the contract. Vitangcol faces up to 15 years’ sentence; only six if he pleads guilty. Co-accused uncle Soriano, the Pangasinan provincial accountant, could share the prison cell. Four other PH Trams incorporators, chairman Marlo dela Cruz, directors Wilson de Vera, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo, could get off lighter, in falsely certifying that their company had no conflict of interest in having a relative among the contracting officials. This early, Vitangcol alone had to post bail of P30,000. Unlikely to visit Vitangcol behind bars are Transport Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya and U-Sec. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla. The two had signed with him the PH Trams contract, so equally liable for gross negligence. But the Ombudsman has not deigned charge them. Abaya lamely claims he was only two days in office when he signed the original deal, while Lotilla says they looked into the credentials of the firm’s experienced joint venture partner CB&T. In truth, though, both had extended the six-month maintenance thrice – two times by two months each and the last by two weeks – so were later well aware of the sleazy circumstances. READ MORE...

ALSO By Marichu Villanueva: #DQpamore


One win. One loss. This is the score so far on attempts to eliminate Sen. Grace Poe as the front-running presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections. Poe has at least five disqualification (DQ) cases filed against her. Visibly affected by the travails she is going through, Poe tried to make light of these DQ attempts and quipped: “DQ pa more.” Poe won yesterday the first round of the DQ case at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). The nine-man SET upheld its original ruling in favor of Poe on the citizenship question raised against her. Five of six fellow senators of Poe in the SET voted that she is considered a Filipino notwithstanding her being a foundling. Her SET victory came at the heels of her losing the second round of her fight to stay in the presidential race. The second division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruled last Monday in favor of the petition to disqualify Poe as a presidential candidate for failure to meet the residency rule. By a vote of 5-4 last Nov. 17, the SET dismissed the citizenship petition of losing senatorial bet Rizalito David who sought to nullify Poe’s winning as a senator during the May 2013 election. David immediately appealed the SET ruling. But it was dismissed yesterday by the same majority votes. Poe’s SET woes are not yet over though. David announced plans to question the SET ruling on his petition before the Supreme Court (SC). Three Supreme Court (SC) justices who are members of the SET and Sen. Nancy Binay, however, voted to disqualify her as duly elected senator for not being a natural-born Filipino as required by our country’s 1987 Constitution. Binay is a daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Poe’s archrival in the presidential race. In the Comelec DQ case against her, a unanimous vote of three commissioners favored one of the four DQ petitions against Poe before the second division. The three were Comelec commissioners Arthur Lim, Al Parreño, and Sheriff Abas. They ruled in favor of the petition filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo who sought to nullify Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for next year’s presidential elections. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

The Aquino Legacy: An Enduring Narrative


By Elfren S. Cruz

MANILA, DECEMBER 7, 2015 (PHILSTAR) BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 29, 2015 - 12:00am 1 14 googleplus0 0

Last Thursday, Nov. 26, on the eve of Ninoy Aquino’s 83rd birthday, Neni and I launched a book which we co-authored. Here are excerpts from the preface to the book which was written by Neni:

The Aquino Legacy:

An Enduring Narrative has been an extraordinary experience for both of us. And why another Aquino book? What is it about Ninoy and Cory that we do not know yet.

The idea for a book came from Elfren who strongly felt that the contributions of Ninoy and Cory Aquino to the Filipino people’s struggle for democracy are too significant to risk being forgotten. We feel this especially critical these days as history is in serious danger of being rewritten and altered by individuals who see a kinder and more heroic portrayals of themselves in the memory of a nation.

This has greater relevance these days as the dark period of martial law is being dismissed and glossed over as an epoch that must now be forgotten. We feel this urgency as some quarters urge us to “move on.” As if the remembrance of things past and sordid and painful posed an obstacle to our progress and maturity as a nation. Many of us bear the scars of martial law, some more deeply than others, and are burdened with traumatic stories that need to be retold over and over again – for the healing that comes with every retelling.


Photo credit: www.mediaispower.com Dubbed the “Millennials,” these individuals born between 1980 to 1997 number around 27 million in the Philippines, accounting for half of the current workforce. In a few years, this group will displace Gen X and Baby Boomers as the dominant generation in the workforce. Growing up in the advent of personal computers and digital devices, Millennials are exceptionally social and tech-savvy, interacting as much in the digital space as they do in the physical space.

These essays are written especially for the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000. This is the generation that may only know Ninoy and Cory as the parents of P-Noy or the face of our currency bills.

The lives of Ninoy and Cory may appear more like magical realism than stark reality, for truly how does one weave such a drama even with the more imaginative conjuring? There is the charismatic opposition freedom fighter destined to be the president of the land, suffering years of isolation and detention, then returns home from exile, only to be swiftly assassinated at his homecoming.

There is the nonpolitician widowed wife forced to carry on her slain husband’s anti-dictatorship struggle and emerges as the president after the ouster of the dictator. And, of course, there is the only son, as reluctant a presidential candidate as his mother, who becomes the 15th president 10 months after his mother’s death.

How can one family be fated to endure all that? But such are the incomprehensible ways of fate and destiny.

READ MORE...

The Aquino Legacy:

An Enduring Narrative has a deliberately chosen subtitle that attempts to capture the degree of untold pain and suffering that the family has lived with over the years, never quite gone even with the public commendation that was to come decades after. Their saga is more than timeless, their story as a family meant to be documented and remembered in history books.

Why another Aquino book?

What is it that the public does not know about Ninoy and Cory? Might this be just another retelling of the all too familiar yellow ribbon protests acknowledged by Berlin and the fall of its wall, the Velvet Revolution of the Czech Republic and more recently Hong Kong with its yellow umbrellas as a non violent revolution to reap lesson from?

We as a people are often justifiably accused of being bereft of historical memory. Tragic mistakes of the past are unnecessarily repeated. It is not that today’s youth and young professional have forgotten what the People Power Revolution was all about – they never know enough about it in the first place.

We do not mean to deify Ninoy and Cory Aquino as they themselves were the first ones to admit how mortal, how vulnerable, how flawed they were. We were not privileged to have met Ninoy but Elfren had worked closely with President Cory in Malacanang for five years. Neni was the first Filipino journalist to sit down with Cory for an interview upon her return from Boston in 1983 (thanks to Eggie Apostol of Mr. & Ms. Magazine who sent her on that “big” assignment) and continued to have close to two dozen one-on-one extended interviews and many private conversations.

Let this book allow today’s millennials to approach the fascinating tale of the Cojuangco-Aquino family with greater interest and curiosity and less trepidation about cold, hard nosed historical facts.

Straightforward historical accounts and commentaries have been juxtaposed with human interest essays, many of which have not seen publication before. We felt that the inclusion of interviews with individuals closest to Ninoy and Cory would offer a fresh and a different perspective on them as revered national figures – and of P-Noy as the highest official of the land.

So this is really dedicated to the youth, to the millennials for them to understand, value and preserve the hard fought historical gains in the restoration of democracy in 1986. The long arduous struggle that climaxed in the much publicized EDSA People Power Revolution actually begun in 1978 with the organization of LABAN (Lakas ng Bayan or People Power), Senator Aquino’s political party and the noise barrage for the Interim Batasan Pambansa elections.

It may come as a rude awakening to the millennials that the freedom they enjoy today was not available to us during the dark days of martial law. There is no disputing that the struggle for democracy is unfinished and continues on today – a struggle that every citizen must partake in towards a free and more equitable society for every Filipino.

The book will be available in Fully Booked stores starting next week.


SM Seaside City ushers new beginnings for Cebu! SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 1, 2015 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


The Cube in Cebu: The landmark at SM Seaside City Cebu PHILSTAR FILE

All roads in Cebu City leads to the much awaited and newly opened SM Seaside City at the South Road Properties (SRP) which had a formal blessing last Thursday afternoon with no less than his eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and his excellency Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma officiating the Holy Mass. On hand to cut the ribbon was Mrs. Felicidad Sy, wife of Mr. Henry Sy and Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings Inc. with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III. In his speech, Cardinal Vidal recalled the times if yesteryears when he would visit Mrs. Sy in the SM Store in Avenida Rizal in downtown Manila.


By Bobit Avila

But the new SM Seaside City is for us Cebuanos not just another shopping mall that we can be proud of, that when we have visitors coming we’d be taking them to SM Seaside City, as it will be one of Cebu’s “must see” tourist destinations. If you were playing golf at the Alta Vista Golf & Country Club, you’d think that the SM Seaside City is a huge luxury vessel that just docked in the pier in Cebu City. But from the air as you arrive from Manila, SM Seaside City looks like a huge alien spaceship that landed at the SRP. The edifice is circular and I reckon that it is one of the biggest, if not the biggest SM store in the country!

Mind you, the opening of SM Seaside City also marked a new beginning for Cebu because the SM Group has already brought in 77 Hybrid air-conditioned buses to ply certain routes within Cebu City. Cebu has just waited too long for that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to materialize.

At the way the government bureaucracy is dragging its feet, I don’t see the BRT operating in Cebu City in the next three years. But the private sector won’t wait for the BRT and so SM will have to push through with its new buses and I dare challenge the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to grant these buses its approval or we just might file cases against these useless national government agencies because those 77 Hybrid buses are already here waiting to start operations.

During the inauguration of the SM Seaside City, I learned (but did not yet see it) that they brought back the Ice Skating Rink inside this fabulous Mall. I also got hold of new information… first that the group that brought you the Manila Ocean Park in Luneta is also opening one in Cebu. This is a tourist destination that Cebu direly needs.

Lastly, I heard that SM would soon be constructing the ARENA at the SM Seaside City just like what they have in the Mall of Asia! When SM does this…. (I hope they’ll build a bigger one than that in MOA) Cebu will finally have the right place to hold those concerts that are only happening in Manila. Kudos to the Sy family and the SM Prime Holdings for the opening of the SM Seaside City. You make us Cebuanos proud of SM!

READ MORE...

* * *

Two weeks ago, just before I left for Osaka, I saw a news headline that screamed,…”STL Operators Cheat Gov’t of P50B, says NBI.” This is something that we’ve already written about in this corner sometime ago because we have heard the horror stories that the so-called “Small Town Lottery” (STL) was conceived with the singular purpose of getting rid of the jueteng or numbers game or here in Cebu we call it “Masiao.”

I never doubted that STL operators have cleverly used the legal STL to freely operate their jueteng operations without need to hide unlike what they did in the past where being raided by the police was an everyday occurrence. Of course the old jueteng lords always had “police” protection. The same is true here in Cebu where Masiao operators hide under the umbrella of the STL. In short, the STL did not replace the jueteng or masiao; it merely provided a legal cover for that illegal numbers game to flourish.

Because the STL is already legal, we haven’t heard the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) say anything against it. Alas, this kind of scheme, which was born out of a noble plan, has failed miserably to curtail the evil of the numbers game. This gives a true perspective of that old proverb that declared, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

This is the challenge that we should drop in front of Pres. Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III to immediately put a halt to all STL operations and order the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to dismantle these operations and declare STL operators that continue to run their stalls as illegal. But then we go back to the good old cat and mouse game of catch!

In a sort of way, you can add the STL as one of the massive failures of the Aquino regime, which has only caused a grave embarrassment to the people who do not have any need to play the numbers game. But since I arrived from Osaka, I haven’t heard of any Presidential order from Malacañang to stop the STL simply because the Aquino regime is always in denial of any bad news and also it is because God has taken away even his little understanding.


A nation yearning to vote AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 30, 2015 - 12:00am 1 36 googleplus0 0


By Sara Soliven De Guzman

Much has been raised and said about the Smartmatic Automated Election System since it was decided that the Philippines will automate its electoral process. Whether intentionally or unintentionally the whole issue is debated between the legal legislation that our Commission on Election argues and prepared with and the logical technology details the automation process is positively justified with. It has become a battle of legal assertion and demands versus the technological systematical steps the automated process are described and engineered with.

Last week Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. bagged another deal for the May 2016 elections – to supply the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with the equipment for the transmission of election results. The deal is said to have generated P50-million savings for the government. If you remember, Smartmatic also provided the same services in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

For a nation at the crossroads, traumatized with what has become of the “daang matuwid” of the present administration, a “failure of election” can truly dampen the people’s morale and self-confidence. The “right of suffrage,” a fundamental right in a democracy, must be safeguarded without compromise. To subvert or pervert it is a criminal act that must never go unpunished. For if an electorate loses faith in its government, anarchy can only set in.

Internal strife in government has brought about violent activities and destabilization efforts orchestrated by lawless elements in the society. Leadership has weakened. This is why we must make the coming elections work. We must demand for transparency as an important feature of the 2016 elections.

When the Supreme Court disqualified Smartmatic’s bid to refurbish the 81,000 old PCOS machines at P1.6 billion because of its failure to comply with the national procurement law, many believed that at last there was a chance for an alternative voting system. But after awhile, the Comelec reconsidered its position, and qualified Smartmatic to bid again for the refurbishment of the old machines. However, as we all know, Smartmatic refused to bid one more time. Instead they offered a bid for lease of 93,977 units of the Optical Mark Reader at the cost of P12.641 billion. So, instead of a less expensive election without Smartmatic in the picture, it looks like 2016 elections will be more expensive with Smartmatic playing a stronger role.

As an independent agency of the government, Comelec’s role is to ensure that the civil rights of the people is adhered to as stated in the Constitution and not as Comelec pleases.

READ MORE...

There is no statement in the Constitution that gives power to Comelec to have mandate in legislating unlimited powers to decide whether an election is completed or even the power to decide, if partial votes of the electorate is substantial enough to finalize tally as it wishes. As mandated by Congress to organize the Automated Election System, it never gave presumptive power in election over and above the availability of the actual voting paper when the automated machine fails. The voting paper is like the Constitutional Suffrage Holy Grail. As organizer of the election, it is the duty of Comelec to organize efficiently and effectively every aspect of the automated process.

As the automated process interface with the actual voting paper, as organizer, Comelec has the responsibility in accounting for each voting paper to ensure each vote is accounted for. There is no need for presumptive organizing decision while the voting paper is present even if the machine fails. It is then the responsibility of Comelec to account for each vote whether to manually count the available voting paper to ensure that the voting public is not prejudiced in disallowing their vote as it is unconstitutional. Whether what level of literacy or society status the citizens are, it is a global human right that measures if individuals are prejudiced in their rights of existence as citizens and their entitlement as specified in the Constitution as their Right of Suffrage.

Actual presumptive decision can only apply if there is no voting paper present in the automation like the use of touch screen where the digital data is lost. In the past 2010 and 2013 Automated Elections, Comelec’s presumptive decision to accept partial electronic results with the presence and existence of the ballot papers which shows the actual voters official selection, is truly against the Constitutional rights of voters. It is not a responsible practice for the Commission to undertake.

The constitutional mandate for the Comelec is to protect the sanctity of every ballot cast and that every election is fair, peaceful and the rights of every voter and their corresponding vote is respected.

Therefore, Comelec’s decision to terminate tallying with only 75% electronic counting can be misconstrued as unconstitutional. They forgot that the ballot paper manually filled by voters is part of the automated election that must be accounted for 100%. This is if we follow the Constitutional directive of Suffrage.

The ballot paper is the main player here for accountability and not the Automated System. If there is a delay or a technical problem with the Automated Election System, the ballot paper is still the main element. The system is only the automated means and when an alternative fallback maybe needed there is still an available means like that of manual counting. Comelec must account for every vote. This is their Constitutional role.

Chairman Bautista in the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearing conducted recently was seeking everyone’s assistance in providing a credible election outcome. Actually, the success or failure of the 2016 elections lies in the hands of the Comelec. They should seriously evaluate the steps that can make this election more transparent to the voting public. They must create a system in the precincts that observers and watchers can understand and monitor properly. In doing this the Comelec can satisfy the Constitutional directive of Article V of the 1987 Constitution – Suffrage.

We are a nation yearning to vote. We hope that the elections will be clean and fair. But hope does not guarantee that things will go well. In the Philippines, where things go wrong more often than not, can we really entrust our votes to those machines?

* * *

Today, we pay tribute to one of the heroes in the history of the Philippines – Andres Bonifacio, the Father of the Philippine Revolution and Filipino Nation. The founder and later supremo of the Katipunan, a movement which sought the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule.

Yes, many of our heroes died for freedom. Isn’t it our duty to protect that freedom to the best of our ability? God help us!


Raps vs Vitangcol mere cover-up? Abaya commits more wrongs GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2015 - 12:00am 7 152 googleplus1 5


PHILSTAR September25, 2014 PHOTO:  Former Metro Rail Transit General Managel Al Vitangcol III and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya face charges in the allegedly anomalous train maintenance contract amounting to P517.5 million. Philstar/file | PCOO

The graft indictment of MRT-3 manager Al S. Vitangcol is a virtual cover-up. The rap singles him out, and lets off the hook his co-conspirator-superiors at the DOTC. Thus it conceals their bigger crime of plunder of P535 million for the ruling Liberal Party.

Vitangcol is likely to go to jail – alone. His is an open and shut case, as exposed in this space in May 2014. He contracted for six months’ maintenance work, at $1.15 million (P51 million) a month starting Oct. 20, 2012, a company in which his uncle-in-law Arturo V. Soriano is one of five incorporator-directors. He did it by closed-door negotiating instead of public bidding. That company, PH Trams, was only two months old at the time, with mere P625,000-capital, and no experience in railways. The Ombudsman saw two violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act: giving undue advantage and preference to a contractor, if not gross inexcusable negligence; and directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in the contract. Vitangcol faces up to 15 years’ sentence; only six if he pleads guilty.

Co-accused uncle Soriano, the Pangasinan provincial accountant, could share the prison cell. Four other PH Trams incorporators, chairman Marlo dela Cruz, directors Wilson de Vera, Manolo Maralit, and Federico Remo, could get off lighter, in falsely certifying that their company had no conflict of interest in having a relative among the contracting officials. This early, Vitangcol alone had to post bail of P30,000.

Unlikely to visit Vitangcol behind bars are Transport Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya and U-Sec. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla. The two had signed with him the PH Trams contract, so equally liable for gross negligence. But the Ombudsman has not deigned charge them. Abaya lamely claims he was only two days in office when he signed the original deal, while Lotilla says they looked into the credentials of the firm’s experienced joint venture partner CB&T. In truth, though, both had extended the six-month maintenance thrice – two times by two months each and the last by two weeks – so were later well aware of the sleazy circumstances.

READ MORE...

Co-signing the three extensions was LRT boss Honorito Chaneco, as then-MRT-3 officer-in-charge. Two other U-Secs., Rene K. Limcaoco and Rafael Antonio M. Santos, as DOTC head of finance and acting secretary in Oct. 2012, were with the bids and awards committee that oversaw Vitangcol’s secret negotiations. (Santos is now justice of the Court of Appeals.) With them too were Asst. Secs. Ildefonso Patdu and Dante Lantin. As their roles were collegial, they must have induced their fellows or allowed themselves to be induced to conspire in crime, a breach of the anti-graft law too. In all they had allowed PH Trams to be paid a total of P535 million, way above the approved project budget of P350 million. During the ten-and-a-half months, no real maintenance was done, and the commuter rail deteriorated. Thus they broke yet another provision of the anti-graft law: entering into a contract grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.

Not only must Vitangcol’s DOTC superiors be indicted, but it also should be for no-bail plunder. The amount exceeds the threshold P50 million. Moreover was committed a combination and series of crimes. “It did not happen overnight, but was a product of long ... malice,” noted the Ombudsman investigators, whose original findings were nixed. In Nov. 2010 the DOTC suddenly grabbed from MRT Corp., the railway’s private owner-builder, the lucrative contracting since 2000 of the upkeep. Thence it extended giant Sumitomo Corp.’s decade-long deal only every six months. In Apr. 2012 DOTC told MRT Corp. it no longer would renew Sumitomo but look for a replacement to commence Oct. 2012. Instead of at once setting a public bidding, DOTC bosses did nothing – till two weeks before expiration. They declared an emergency situation of losing the MRT-3 daily maintenance. That paved the way for “simplified bidding,” that is, secret talks, with fledgling PH Trams.

The proceeds of the plunder is obvious. PH Trams chairman Marlo dela Cruz is an LP officer in Pangasinan; director de Vera ran but lost as LP mayor of Calasiao, hometown of Vitangcol’s in-law Soriano. They were 2010 fundraiser-campaigners of LP president Mar Roxas, P-Noy’s running mate and later Transport Secretary. In succeeding Roxas in the Cabinet post, Abaya also became LP acting president.

Vitangcol, Abaya, and Lotilla later dropped PH Trams. In its place they contracted long dormant Global Epcom, for P63 million a month. Its authorized representative to the DOTC is still Marlo dela Cruz. Vitangcol left MRT-3 when exposed. But from PH Trams till Global Epcom today, the DOTC has paid dela Cruz P1.85 billion.

* * *

The plunder goes on. Abaya presently is rushing to grant a P2-billion bonanza to an LP-favored conglomerate.

Exposed by hard-hitting broadcaster Ted Failon, the beneficiary is Light Rail Manila Consortium that has yet to commence extending Metro Manila’s LRT-1 to Cavite. The P2 billion consists of two LRMC billings – for DOTC penalties of P1.85 billion and P143.8 million. Those are for Abaya’s agency’s failure to restore the existing LRT-1 to a state ready for extension. Consisting of Metro Pacific as majority and Ayala Corp. as minority, LRMC took over the LRT-1 only in Oct. No work has yet been started by Ayala, reportedly in charge of construction (Metro Pacific will handle the 32-year operation concession).

The matter first was exposed in Sept., part of a P7.5-billion fast break from Abaya at the time. Despite DOTC insiders affirming Abaya’s letter, the latter denied it when he learned that the copy going around was unsigned. Metro Pacific’s Manuel V. Pangilinan, as LRMC chairman, wondered why his conglomerate was to be reimbursed for work undone.

Yesterday surfaced the two LRMC billings, stamped received by the DOTC. The story was true after all, despite Abaya’s denials. Abaya has been transferring the proposed common station of the LRT-1, MRT-3, MRT-7, and MRT-9 from the long-approved SM Mall in Quezon City to the Ayala Mall side half a kilometer away.

* * *

Metro Pacific has been offering to upgrade the MRT-3 at no cost to government. In exchange, it proposes to take over the operation at fares approximating the buses along EDSA below. Abaya has been ignoring it.

Instead, he contracted to buy 48 new coaches for P3.8 billion from an unqualified Chinese company. The prototype – “fully functional model” – that arrived last Aug. had no electric motor and electronic parts. Meaning, in breach of contract, it had not been tested for 5,000 km at different gradients, curves, and speeds at the Chinese factory.

Abaya also secretly negotiated in Oct. a P4.5-billion three-year rehab of the MRT-3 that Metro Pacific has been offering at no cost. The contract went to a Korean train company with three Filipino partners – experts in anything but railways: trading, general merchandising, plumbing. A silent partner is Abaya’s beloved LP-mate, dela Cruz.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459 , or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA


#DQpamore COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

One win. One loss. This is the score so far on attempts to eliminate Sen. Grace Poe as the front-running presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections. Poe has at least five disqualification (DQ) cases filed against her.

Visibly affected by the travails she is going through, Poe tried to make light of these DQ attempts and quipped: “DQ pa more.”

Poe won yesterday the first round of the DQ case at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). The nine-man SET upheld its original ruling in favor of Poe on the citizenship question raised against her. Five of six fellow senators of Poe in the SET voted that she is considered a Filipino notwithstanding her being a foundling.

Her SET victory came at the heels of her losing the second round of her fight to stay in the presidential race. The second division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruled last Monday in favor of the petition to disqualify Poe as a presidential candidate for failure to meet the residency rule.

By a vote of 5-4 last Nov. 17, the SET dismissed the citizenship petition of losing senatorial bet Rizalito David who sought to nullify Poe’s winning as a senator during the May 2013 election. David immediately appealed the SET ruling. But it was dismissed yesterday by the same majority votes.

Poe’s SET woes are not yet over though. David announced plans to question the SET ruling on his petition before the Supreme Court (SC).

Three Supreme Court (SC) justices who are members of the SET and Sen. Nancy Binay, however, voted to disqualify her as duly elected senator for not being a natural-born Filipino as required by our country’s 1987 Constitution. Binay is a daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Poe’s archrival in the presidential race.

In the Comelec DQ case against her, a unanimous vote of three commissioners favored one of the four DQ petitions against Poe before the second division. The three were Comelec commissioners Arthur Lim, Al Parreño, and Sheriff Abas. They ruled in favor of the petition filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo who sought to nullify Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for next year’s presidential elections.

READ MORE...

Commissioners Lim, Parreño and Abas are members of the seven-man Comelec who currently are all appointees of President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III.

It’s now the turn of Poe to appeal her case. Through her election lawyers, she filed a motion for reconsideration of the Comelec division’s adverse ruling on her.

Naturally, the Comelec division ruling also did not sit well with Poe’s vice presidential running mate Sen.Francis “Chiz” Escudero. Himself a lawyer, Escudero accused the three Comelec commissioners of allegedly having ruled not on legal and constitutional basis but were motivated by partisan considerations.

The same criticisms were aired by Poe’s “other vice presidential candidate,” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. Being all “independent” candidates when each of them filed their respective COCs at the Comelec, Poe and her two vice presidential candidates have joined their voices in denouncing unseen hands as behind the adverse ruling by the poll body’s second division.

Appearing as guest in this week’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Luneta Hotel, Trillanes took up the cudgels for Poe as the Magdalo’s presidential standard-bearer in the May 2016 elections. Trillanes warned of possible backlash on the attempts to eliminate Poe through DQ cases because this might benefit less deserving candidates.

Trillanes maintained Poe is a Filipino and everybody knows it except those whose political interests would be affected by her candidacy. Although he did not name names, Trillanes has not made secret his every intention to thwart Binay’s presidential ambitions.

At the longest-running Senate investigations, Trillanes went out hammer and tong against the Vice President on corruption allegations hurled by the latter’s former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado while Binay was still mayor of Makati City. This is why, Trillanes pointed out, he does not see himself being given any Cabinet role should he win the vice presidential elections and Binay becomes the next President.

The series of Senate public hearings on the corruption charges against the Vice President were blamed by the camp of Binay for his being dislodged from the top spot in the quarterly mock polls of Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Stations (SWS). Poe dislodged Binay as the most preferred presidential candidate starting the first quarter this year and continues to top the mock polls of Pulse Asia and SWS.

As one of 19 vice presidential bets running in next year’s polls, Trillanes admitted his lack of resources will make his national campaign difficult. However, he counts on the 600,000 card-bearing members of the Magdalo organization nationwide to carry him through in next year’s elections. If he loses the VP race, Trillanes can return to the Senate to complete the remaining three years of his term.

He is however optimistic that he can prevail despite the odds against him based on his track record in the past two elections when he first ran and won as senator in 2007 and during his re-election in 2013. During those times, he cited, he was still in detention at Camp Aguinaldo after he led the failed Oakwood mutiny during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Trillanes reaffirmed he is full steam ahead in pursuing his vice presidential bid. “Ipaglalaban ko kayo!” is his battle cry as independent VP bet. Asking him bluntly: Can a sitting President sleep well if Trillanes becomes his or her VP?

Without batting an eyelash, Trillanes declared he will not allow any abuses and excesses against the people if he sees it. He strongly believes though that a Poe Presidency would not commit any such abuses in office in a strong pitch for Magdalo’s presidential bet.

Trillanes must win the Veep race as his mission for now and make sure embattled Poe – as his model of President – would win all the DQ attempts on her.

A little word of advice though on Poe’s “DQ pa more” dare to those behind the DQ petitions against her. Be careful with what you wish for. This #DQpamore could trend in social media and turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2015 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE