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

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

EDITORIAL: A LEGACY BUDGET? AN ELECTION BUDGET?


DECEMBER 30 -How are we to assess the P3.002-trillion National Budget for 2016 which President Aquino signed into law before Christmas? It is a legacy budget, President Aquino said, with increased funds to enable the next administration to continue the reforms of his administration. It is product of good governance, according to Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management. The large budget will sustain the pro-people investment of the current administration, said Senate President Franklin Drilon. But the transparency watchdog organization Social Watch Philippines (SWP) has a different view. The National Budget is full of fat lump sums designed to benefit the Liberal Party in the May, 2016 , elections, said former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, SWP convenor. It revived the pork barrel system and the Disbursement Acceleration Program which have both been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, she said. When President Aquino signed the national budget – officially called the General Appropriations Act for 2016 – last December 21, he stressed that for the sixth time in a row, the budget act was approved and signed on time – thus avoiding the need to reenact the previous year’s budget. The 2016 budget, he said, is nearly double what it was in the first year of his administration, 2011, when it was a mere P1.645 trillion. READ MORE...

ALSO: With all its joys and sorrows, 2015 was a good year


DECEMBER 31 -The year 2015 ends at midnight tonight with the usual exuberance that marks the passing of one year and the coming of a new one. Whatever difficulties were encountered in the old year, the new year offers hope for a new beginning. image:
This is reflected in the results of a survey conducted by Pulse Asia early this month, in which 89 percent of the respondents said they were facing the new year with hope. It was same overwhelming sentiment all over the Philippines – from Metro Manila to the rest of Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao. If there is any part of the country where people might have reason to keep their hopes down, it is Mindanao. It was in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January where 44 special Action Force commandos of the Philippine National Police were killed in fighting with armed groups while on a mission to get a Malaysian terrorist bomber. Last December 26, one of those armed groups – the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – killed seven farmers and two other civilians in simultaneous attacks in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and North Cotabato, moving Pope Francis himself to deplore the killing of innocent people in Mindanao and send his condolences to the families of the victims. Still, the Pulse Survey showed the people of Mindanao with a high rate of 88 percent expressing hope in the coming year. It was 95 percent in Metro Manila, 89 percent in the rest of Luzon, and 85 percent in the Visayas. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Leandro Coronel - Twenty-fifteen


DECEMBER 30 -Pope Francis came, saw, and conquered in January to a typically tumultuous reception by a religion-addicted Filipino people. Before the end of the year, he would be cursed by a gruff city mayor. Mamasapano entered the Filipino lexicon when 44 gallant men of the national police were killed in the fields of a previously unknown town in Mindanao. Society at large was shocked by the carnage. Recriminations ensued over who was to blame. Calls for Mr. Aquino’s resignation over Mamasapano echoed, with the chorus for his ouster joined by his own uncle Peping Cojuangco and wife Tingting, plus a provincial archbishop and a former national security adviser. Rampant criminality continued to sow fear and loathing in communities around the country, with Metro Manila being the hotbed. The police can’t cope, especially when among the perpetrators are cops themselves. The Binay exposes continued in the Senate. If the charges of illegal amassing of wealth are true, why does Veep Jojo Binay remain a contender for the presidency? Pacquiao-Mayweather in May was a flop. The Fight of the Century could barely qualify for fight of the week. Mayweather doesn’t realize that to be a real champion, a fighter must be ready to mix it up in the ring. Ask the Mexicans and the Filipinos. Mary Jane Veloso got a reprieve from execution over drug trafficking after the Philippine government pleaded with Indonesia to spare her life. After the reprieve the Veloso family spoiled the Filipinos’ thanksgiving by claiming President Aquino didn’t lift a finger to help Mary Jane. Many people were appalled by the Velosos’ ingratitude. For a long while nobody wanted to be vice president in 2016, but later Bongbong Marcos would be picked up by Miriam Santiago, while Alan Peter Cayetano would team up with a reluctant Rodrigo Duterte. Sonny Trillanes, the feisty senator and nemesis of Jojo Binay in the Senate hearings on Makati City shenanigans, is running without a presidential teammate. Leni Robredo subbed for Poe as Roxas’ running mate. The Iglesia ni Cristo gatecrashed the headlines when accusations by some of its own ministers accused the home-grown church of financial shenanigans. The Iglesia showed its muscle by clogging the corner of Edsa/Shaw Boulevard with 15,000 of its faithful for four days, causing massive traffic jams and cursing by the public. In October and November, the loons and clowns surfaced and pestered the Commission on Elections to let them run. For president no less. Out of the more than 100 applicants, only a handful made the cut. READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Some words of advice to voters from the CBCP


JANUARY 2 -We can expect all sorts of advice from responsible leader and institutions on who to vote for in the coming elections. A recent statement issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is supposed to be a “Guide for Catholic Voters” but it could well be used by voters of all faiths in the face of the ongoing barrage of election propaganda and other developments in the campaign. Specifically for Catholic voters, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the CBCP, said they cannot support candidates espousing programs that are diametrically opposed to Church teachings on such issues as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, divorce, and Christian marriage. They should not, however, close their minds to candidates who belong to other faiths as there are noteworthy candidates from other Christian communities and other religions, he said. His other points may well guide voters of all kinds. Do not choose a candidate on the basis of published poll surveys, he said. Surveys merely show trends, which may well change in the course of the election campaign. Besides, he said, they are affected by the methodology employed by a pollster. Beware of those who employ dirty tricks against their opponents, the CBCP president said. A candidate who seeks to demolish the reputation of fellow candidates must be suspect. He debases the level of political discourse by pointing to the shortcomings of rivals instead of discussing programs, projects, plans, and advocacies. READ MORE...

ALSO By Jose Zaide: Headlines and head-turners


JANUARY 1 -Jose Abeto Zaide: He is a retired diplomat with nearly 40 years service home and abroad. He last served as Ambassador to France and Unesco. His two other missions were in Germany (our last Ambassador to Bonn and first to Berlin) and in Austria. He was DFA Chief of Protocol and on different times headed the European and Asian desks. --VIP (Very Inspirational Person) of the year. Pope Francis, in his pronouncements and visits abroad (including four days in PH), embraced those broken in spirit. The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy – from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (8 Dec 2015) to the Feast of Christ the King (20 Nov 2016) – has the express goal of changing the way the Church is perceived by the faithful, lapsed believers, and the rest of the world. “How much wrong we do to God and His grace when we speak of sins being punished by His judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy.” 
Head turner of the year — Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach raised the Philippine flag high by winning Miss Universe 2015. Deadpan comedian of Yesteryear 2013 — President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, who said in April, 2013, that he and his DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya would lie down on the LRT tracks (“magpapasagasa”) if Line 1 is not finished this year. Translator of the Year — Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, who said that the President was only joking. Would-be our closest neighbor (in future years) — China, if it makes good its threat to take over our Pag-Asa and adjoining islands. Most exciting and longest ride of the year — A Subic Fiesta Carnival roller-coaster in Olongapo City malfunctioned and left 20 young boys and girls hanging upside down for about an hour until they were rescued. Most boring and longest ride ending on foot of the year — The MRT occasionally stopped and passengers had to go on foot to the next terminal to catch the next jeepney. Proxy fight of the year — The UAE (whose inexperienced army is part of an Arab coalition helping Yemen’s government fight Huthi rebels) secretly hired 300 well-trained, battle hardened Colombian mercenaries to fight for it in Yemen. People Power gaya-gaya of the year — South Koreans blew horns and banged on tambourines to protest against President Park Geun-hye’s tough stand against union members and dissidents resisting her drive to make labor markets more flexible. A labor union leader may face sedition charge over violence at an earlier anti-government protest. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Editorial: A legacy budget? an election budget?

MANILA, JANUARY 4, 2016 (MANILA BULLETIN) December 30, 2015 - How are we to assess the P3.002-trillion National Budget for 2016 which President Aquino signed into law before Christmas?

It is a legacy budget, President Aquino said, with increased funds to enable the next administration to continue the reforms of his administration. It is product of good governance, according to Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management. The large budget will sustain the pro-people investment of the current administration, said Senate President Franklin Drilon.

But the transparency watchdog organization Social Watch Philippines (SWP) has a different view. The National Budget is full of fat lump sums designed to benefit the Liberal Party in the May, 2016 , elections, said former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, SWP convenor. It revived the pork barrel system and the Disbursement Acceleration Program which have both been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, she said.

When President Aquino signed the national budget – officially called the General Appropriations Act for 2016 – last December 21, he stressed that for the sixth time in a row, the budget act was approved and signed on time – thus avoiding the need to reenact the previous year’s budget.

The 2016 budget, he said, is nearly double what it was in the first year of his administration, 2011, when it was a mere P1.645 trillion.

READ MORE...

As mandated by the Constitution, the biggest slice of the 2016 budget is that of the Department of Education, P436.5 billion; followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, P400.4 billion; the Department of National Defense, P175.2 billion; the Department of Interior and Local Government, P154.5 billion; the Department of Health, P128.5 billion; and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, P111 billion.

The President made a point of citing the P62.7-billion budget of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program which doles out monthly amounts to selected poor families.

The Social Watchdog Philippines, however, points out that several of these items for government departments and agencies include about P500 billion without specific projects – which the administration could release, at the proper time, for undertakings that would be appreciated by voters on May 9, 2016.

The 2016 Appropriations Act, the SWP added, also redefined the term “savings” so that the President could use funds from cancelled government projects and divert them to other projects.

Very likely, there are grains of truth in both of these contrasting assessments of the 2016 National Budget. In the ongoing exchange of charges and counter-charges, we trust that the Filipino voters – who seem to be the target of so many statements, programs, and projects – will be able to see through all the claims and all the ruses and and make their own informed decision in the coming elections.


EDITORIAL:

With all its joys and sorrows, 2015 was a good year December 31, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share5

The year 2015 ends at midnight tonight with the usual exuberance that marks the passing of one year and the coming of a new one. Whatever difficulties were encountered in the old year, the new year offers hope for a new beginning. image:

This is reflected in the results of a survey conducted by Pulse Asia early this month, in which 89 percent of the respondents said they were facing the new year with hope. It was same overwhelming sentiment all over the Philippines – from Metro Manila to the rest of Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao.

If there is any part of the country where people might have reason to keep their hopes down, it is Mindanao. It was in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January where 44 special Action Force commandos of the Philippine National Police were killed in fighting with armed groups while on a mission to get a Malaysian terrorist bomber. Last December 26, one of those armed groups – the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – killed seven farmers and two other civilians in simultaneous attacks in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and North Cotabato, moving Pope Francis himself to deplore the killing of innocent people in Mindanao and send his condolences to the families of the victims.

Still, the Pulse Survey showed the people of Mindanao with a high rate of 88 percent expressing hope in the coming year. It was 95 percent in Metro Manila, 89 percent in the rest of Luzon, and 85 percent in the Visayas.

READ MORE...

The passing year had its share of natural calamities, the most devastating being typhoon Lando in Luzon which killed 58 people. It had its share of of man-made tragedies, such as the death of 74 workers in a shoe factory fire in Valenzuela, Bulacan. It had its share of corruption in government, with the filing of charges against several more legislators linked to the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles.

But 2015 also had the visit of Pope Francis in January which raised the spirits of the whole country although he visited only Metro Manila and Leyte. The ensuing months saw the coming of a record five million tourists to the country. We had the welcome drama of presidential candidates maneuvering for the coming elections. And finally, after 42 years, we had another Miss Universe in Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

With all its ups and downs, its hopes and disappointments, its successes and failures, its joys and sorrows, 2015 was a good year. And it will always have a fond place in our memory and in our history. Now it is time to look forward – tomorrow, January 1 – to the new year, 2016.


By Leandro Coronel: Twenty-fifteen by Leandro DD Coronel December 30, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share2

Pope Francis came, saw, and conquered in January to a typically tumultuous reception by a religion-addicted Filipino people. Before the end of the year, he would be cursed by a gruff city mayor.

Mamasapano entered the Filipino lexicon when 44 gallant men of the national police were killed in the fields of a previously unknown town in Mindanao. Society at large was shocked by the carnage. Recriminations ensued over who was to blame.

Calls for Mr. Aquino’s resignation over Mamasapano echoed, with the chorus for his ouster joined by his own uncle Peping Cojuangco and wife Tingting, plus a provincial archbishop and a former national security adviser.

Rampant criminality continued to sow fear and loathing in communities around the country, with Metro Manila being the hotbed. The police can’t cope, especially when among the perpetrators are cops themselves.

The Binay exposes continued in the Senate. If the charges of illegal amassing of wealth are true, why does Veep Jojo Binay remain a contender for the presidency?

Pacquiao-Mayweather in May was a flop. The Fight of the Century could barely qualify for fight of the week. Mayweather doesn’t realize that to be a real champion, a fighter must be ready to mix it up in the ring. Ask the Mexicans and the Filipinos.

Mary Jane Veloso got a reprieve from execution over drug trafficking after the Philippine government pleaded with Indonesia to spare her life. After the reprieve the Veloso family spoiled the Filipinos’ thanksgiving by claiming President Aquino didn’t lift a finger to help Mary Jane. Many people were appalled by the Velosos’ ingratitude.

For a long while nobody wanted to be vice president in 2016, but later Bongbong Marcos would be picked up by Miriam Santiago, while Alan Peter Cayetano would team up with a reluctant Rodrigo Duterte. Sonny Trillanes, the feisty senator and nemesis of Jojo Binay in the Senate hearings on Makati City shenanigans, is running without a presidential teammate. Leni Robredo subbed for Poe as Roxas’ running mate.

The Iglesia ni Cristo gatecrashed the headlines when accusations by some of its own ministers accused the home-grown church of financial shenanigans. The Iglesia showed its muscle by clogging the corner of Edsa/Shaw Boulevard with 15,000 of its faithful for four days, causing massive traffic jams and cursing by the public.

In October and November, the loons and clowns surfaced and pestered the Commission on Elections to let them run. For president no less. Out of the more than 100 applicants, only a handful made the cut.

READ MORE...

The Philippines and China’s row over the West Philippine Sea was a year-long topic. The Philippines won an initial victory over proper jurisdiction in an international court at The Hague and practically the rest of the world supports the Philippines. But China refuses to budge.

A new scam hit the headlines in 2015: tanim-bala. Unscrupulous staff at Manila’s international airport invented a money-making scheme by planting bullets in passengers’ baggage and extorting money from them. Again Filipinos’ twisted ingenuity comes to the surface.

The aforementioned Duterte staged the longest political striptease in Philippine history. Protesting non-interest in the presidential race, he hemmed and hawed for months before reluctantly agreeing to run.

The political tandems running for president and vice president are a study in contrasts. Binay, an anti-Marcos activist, chose a habitual coup plotter in Gringo Honasan.

Miriam Santiago chose a non-committal Bongbong Marcos even though Santiago fought against Marcos’ dictator father, Ferdinand. Duterte Harry and crimebuster Cayetano together. Strange.

Finally, nothing strange here, Pia Wurtzbach capped the Filipino year by becoming Miss Universe. I’m not a fan of beauty contests, but there it is. All in 2015.

***

Happy New Year to all readers! Let’s make the coming year lucky for all of us by making the right decisions in May.


EDITORIAL: Some words of advice to voters from the CBCP January 2, 2016

We can expect all sorts of advice from responsible leader and institutions on who to vote for in the coming elections. A recent statement issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is supposed to be a “Guide for Catholic Voters” but it could well be used by voters of all faiths in the face of the ongoing barrage of election propaganda and other developments in the campaign.

Specifically for Catholic voters, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the CBCP, said they cannot support candidates espousing programs that are diametrically opposed to Church teachings on such issues as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, divorce, and Christian marriage. They should not, however, close their minds to candidates who belong to other faiths as there are noteworthy candidates from other Christian communities and other religions, he said.

His other points may well guide voters of all kinds.

Do not choose a candidate on the basis of published poll surveys, he said. Surveys merely show trends, which may well change in the course of the election campaign. Besides, he said, they are affected by the methodology employed by a pollster.

Beware of those who employ dirty tricks against their opponents, the CBCP president said. A candidate who seeks to demolish the reputation of fellow candidates must be suspect. He debases the level of political discourse by pointing to the shortcomings of rivals instead of discussing programs, projects, plans, and advocacies.

READ MORE...

While there are no perfect candidates, opt for those willing to be better for the people; who may have been wrong in the past but are willing and ready to change their ways. Ultimately, what is important are the qualifications and aspirations, the plans and visions of the candidates.

On political dynasties, Archbishop Villegas said the Christian voter should prudently choose others who may have equal if not superior qualities and competencies for the position.

The bishops of the Church, the CBCP president said, do not seek to persuade their flock to vote for any particular candidate. The desired qualities of candidates and the options open to voters may well be discussed in the context of prayer, in the light of Church teaching, and with “a sense of fairness and concern for the common good,” he said.

There are probably many other words of advice that will be given by the leaders of our communities and institutions about many other issues – such as party loyalty, ideological considerations, rewards and promises, and campaign funds. All such advice would be welcome, but the points made by the CBCP should be taken to heart by all voters.


By Jose Abeto Zaide: Headlines and head-turners by Jose Abeto Zaide January 1, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share0


Jose Abeto Zaide: He is a retired diplomat with nearly 40 years service home and abroad. He last served as Ambassador to France and Unesco. His two other missions were in Germany (our last Ambassador to Bonn and first to Berlin) and in Austria. He was DFA Chief of Protocol and on different times headed the European and Asian desks.

VIP (Very Inspirational Person) of the year. Pope Francis, in his pronouncements and visits abroad (including four days in PH), embraced those broken in spirit. The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy – from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (8 Dec 2015) to the Feast of Christ the King (20 Nov 2016) – has the express goal of changing the way the Church is perceived by the faithful, lapsed believers, and the rest of the world. “How much wrong we do to God and His grace when we speak of sins being punished by His judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy.”

Head turner of the year — Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach raised the Philippine flag high by winning Miss Universe 2015.

Deadpan comedian of Yesteryear 2013 — President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, who said in April, 2013, that he and his DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya would lie down on the LRT tracks (“magpapasagasa”) if Line 1 is not finished this year.

Translator of the Year — Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, who said that the President was only joking.

Would-be our closest neighbor (in future years) — China, if it makes good its threat to take over our Pag-Asa and adjoining islands.

Most exciting and longest ride of the year — A Subic Fiesta Carnival roller-coaster in Olongapo City malfunctioned and left 20 young boys and girls hanging upside down for about an hour until they were rescued.

Most boring and longest ride ending on foot of the year — The MRT occasionally stopped and passengers had to go on foot to the next terminal to catch the next jeepney.

Proxy fight of the year — The UAE (whose inexperienced army is part of an Arab coalition helping Yemen’s government fight Huthi rebels) secretly hired 300 well-trained, battle hardened Colombian mercenaries to fight for it in Yemen.

People Power gaya-gaya of the year — South Koreans blew horns and banged on tambourines to protest against President Park Geun-hye’s tough stand against union members and dissidents resisting her drive to make labor markets more flexible. A labor union leader may face sedition charge over violence at an earlier anti-government protest.

READ MORE...

Sir, May I go out (and come back)? — Invitational re-training program “Sa ‘Pinas, Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir” will enable returning OFW-teachers to be hired in public schools as Teacher Grade I. DepEd, DOLE, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Philippine Normal University collaborate to provide re-training and online refresher course to update the teacher-returnee in skills and knowledge.

Rising number of misfits in the year blamed on Congress — Because of the leniency of the laws giving immunity to minors who commit crime, or because of voting criminals into Congress?

Highest in 12 years: 72% of Pinoys expect happy Christmas — SWS. “Mano po, ninong, mano po, ninang…”

TURNOVER — Letty better known as LJM wrote “30” on Christmas eve; but the hand at the tiller is remembered by readers and her sons and daughters at Philippine Daily Inquirer.

CLIMATE CHANGE? — The German Embassy’s Christmas card of the Rizal monument with snowfall.

Christmas on Rizal Day 30 December. Our parish priest Fr. Jolan and youth volunteers of the Church of the Ascension of Our Lord packed gifts for some 500 urchins (plus another 150 overflow). Kids thrilled to the antics of real-life Jollibee and a magician, while feasting on their Christmas lunch of spaghetti, hamburger, zesto. Games and prizes in the morning, gift packs and flip-flops, and queuing to kiss the Child Jesus at the makeshift manger.

The 2009 initiative of Monet Hamlin to give 200 children shoe boxes filled with school supplies (ball pens, pencils, crayons, pad paper, sharpeners, erasers, etc,) grew exponentially and now gifts over 35,000 students.

Former Japanese Ambassador “Joe” Tanaka aka Johnnie Walker-san and his wife Yayoi frown on charity and prefer to run nearly 50 NGOs in the country (“Teach a man to catch a fish”). But they made an exception since Christmas, 2014, for the children; and their donation again this year went a long way to multiply the loaves and the fishes. FEEDBACK: joseabetozaide@gmail.com


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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