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BY JARIUS BONDOC: MAKING SENSE OF ALL THAT ELECTION NEWS


JANUARY 13 -By Jarius Bondoc
Just some questions, to make sense out of all the confusing election news: • To enforce the ban, cops at checkpoints will confiscate firearms in cars of civilians, including off-duty lawmen. Even replica guns will be seized, they warn. Does that mean our kids must get Comelec exemptions to bring out their toy shooters that look real? • Isn’t Rody Duterte’s DQ as presidential bet an open-and-shut case for the Comelec? They DQ’ed Grace Poe due to a self-admitted entry error in her 2013 certificate of candidacy to lack the required residency. No mistakes allowed, right? Duterte is substituting for Martin Diño, a Quezon City barangay officer. Diño admits to a typo in filing for mayor of Pasay, even if on the correct form for President. So what’s the Comelec waiting for? • To simplify it, can’t Duterte just withdraw? He decided to run because the Comelec initially had accepted ex-American Poe’s COC. Now that they’ve DQ’ed her, he has no more reason to fight, right? • Comelec chairman Andy Bautista encourages us to vote in shopping malls on Election Day. It would decongest those hot, crowded polling precincts. That also would spare us out-of-towners the expense of traveling to our place of voter registry. We’d want to vote not only for national but also local officials, whose acts, the Comelec well knows, affect us directly. So we’ll need localized ballots specific to our province, congressional district, city or municipality, and council district. Tell us, Chairman sir, how many spare ballots will you make available at the mall nearest us, for any of the 97,447 precinct clusters? Don’t mind the cost to buy the special cardboard, print, dispatch, and stack those billions of spare ballots. Nothing is more sacred than suffrage, right? • Commissioner Rowena Guanzon says she’s a peer – not under any administrative supervision – of Chairman Andy. Humph, that should put the interloper in his place. But pray tell, who’s going to sign Madam’s next travel order plus airline fare, hotel accommodations, and per diem; or approve her requisition for staff and supplies; even monthly allowances for gasoline, representation, and sundries? Silly government rules require those pesky agency chiefs to meddle in admin matters. • Back to the candidates, administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas asks us voters about rival Poe: “Do you want to have an American for President?” Maybe he should commission the SWS or Pulse Asia to conduct such a survey. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how big a majority would say “yes”? • Three non-Liberal Party senators, two of them now candidates, got the Ombudsman to charge VP Jojo Binay with P2-billion plunder. For judicial fair play, shouldn’t they also charge LP president Joseph Abaya and his candidate-party mate for P10.13-billion plunder – five times more – at the MRT-3 commuter rail alone, other railways, car plates, and drivers’ licenses not yet included? Documentary evidence readily is available on those scams (see breakdown below). READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ana Marie Pamintuan - Enhanced cooperation
[The Americans had hoped for a Supreme Court ruling when Obama returned for the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum last November, but the SC had too many other items on its plate, mostly election-related. While waiting for the SC to act, the Americans scouted around for facilities where they want access for their troops: their former naval base in Subic Bay, their former air base in Clark Field, and Philippine military bases in Palawan and Cebu. With the uncertainty hanging over EDCA, little has moved since then. Now that the uncertainty is lifted, we should avoid looking at the treaty as the answer to all our security needs. While we need all the help we can get in dealing with an aggressive neighbor, we cannot revive a mindset of heavy dependence on others for our own defense.]


JANUARY 13 -PHILSTAR FILE With the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA between the Philippines and United States, a common question is whether Uncle Sam will now be more inclined to stop Chinese expansionist activities in disputed waters. Among expats from several countries with whom I have chatted recently, the betting is that there will be little change, especially while the Philippines’ arbitration case is pending in The Hague. The 10-year period started running when the agreement was signed, so EDCA is now nearing two years old. During that period, China rapidly built artificial islands on reefs we are claiming in the South China Sea. Recently, it began landing civilian planes on its newly completed airstrip on Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef. Beijing is said to be building a submarine station in one of the artificial islands. Uncle Sam didn’t need access to anybody’s military base to stop all that Chinese reef reclamation. But the US didn’t do anything to stop the activities, except to regularly issue statements about freedom of navigation and behaving by international rules. Even with the passage of EDCA, it’s doubtful that Washington will do anything to stop the Chinese reclamation while waiting for the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal on the Philippines’ maritime entitlements. Based on previous cases involving Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, the betting is that the tribunal will rule in our favor. Whether China will abide by the ruling is anybody’s guess. I don’t think even the Chinese leadership is sure of its course at this point. We like to joke that the Philippines will end up owning that airstrip on Kagitingan, which is starting to look better than the NAIA. But we can’t count on EDCA to, so to speak, deliver us from evil. It’s good to have a powerful ally, but we must also work on our self-reliance for long-term credible defense and survival. We need to invest in developing our own self-defense capability. Filipinos have the brains, the innovation, and we can have the resources if we work hard enough. Japan did it after the war; China is doing it now. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Marichu Villanueva - Right to reply smuggled in Comelec IRR
[According to Comelec public information department head James Jimenez they called for this public hearing to enable the Comelec update their IRR on Fair Election Act, especially with the advent of the internet or social media as one of the means for political ads and campaign. It was only now that we in media discovered the existing IRR being implemented by the Comelec already allows the controversial right of reply (ROR) in the campaign rules. What many lawmakers have failed to legislate has apparently been smuggled into the Comelec IRR into the Fair Election Act. So during these 120 days of the election period in the country, all media entities are mandated to comply with this under Section 16 of the IRR. Thankfully, there is no penal provision attached to it.]


JANUARY 13 -I
n apparent show of “unity,” the entire Commission on Elections (Comelec), including two feuding commissioners, appeared together before the media yesterday. This obviously sought to put an end to the internal strife between two Comelec commissioners from turning into a full-blown public spectacle. Comelec chairman Andres Bautista designated yesterday fellow commissioner Arthur Lim “as the senior commissioner in terms of wisdom” to speak for all of them. Lim declared “all’s well that ends well” for the poll body and that they have agreed to “move forward” after this ugly episode. Of course, they must. With the national and local elections taking place on May 9, it behooves these Comelec commissioners that they are mandated and sworn to administer the political contests in the country, not fight in contest among themselves. So whatever personal or official differences each of them have against each other, the commissioners must first get their act together before anything else. As a collegial body, the Comelec chairman is the “primus inter-pares,” or first among equals of his fellow commissioners in the seven-man poll body. Therefore, as Comelec chairman, he has the authority to call the attention of any official under him, including commissioner Rowena Guanzon for any breach of procedures, if not protocol. Incidentally, both are appointees of President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III along with the rest of the Comelec commissioners. The furor started when Bautista found out last Friday from media reports that Guanzon submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) earlier that day the Comelec reply to the questioned disqualification ruling against presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe. In a memorandum, Bautista ordered Guanzon to explain why she proceeded to file the comment in behalf of the poll body. Bautista’s memo fell into the hands of media later that day. As to how media got hold of the internal memo obviously riled Guanzon. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Bobit Avila - We need to transform our nation or die trying


JANUARY 14 -By Bobit S. Avila
AKITA, Japan: We’re in Akita, the northernmost tip of the Island of Honshu, where we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station hurling at 360 kph in what was then a technological wonder in Japan in the early sixties. Today, the Shinkansen is a major part of Japan’s railway system that works with a Swiss watch clockwork precision. In one of Japan’s latest technology, I was served a braised beef tongue with rice on a cardboard box, where all you need is to pull a string and voila! Five minutes later, your food is steaming hot! All this without lighting a fire to cook it on your lap! How could the Japanese people achieve such technology? 71 years after hundreds of US B-29 Superfortress bombers firebombed and flattened Tokyo killing more than 100,000 people, rendering millions maimed and millions more homeless? While the scars of war apparently have been erased (perhaps not from the memories of the old folks who lived through that kind of hell) or disappeared from the Japanese landscape, it just makes you think that Japan, the loser of World War II has somehow managed and emerged to bounce back in just a short 71 years and looked like they won that war. Contrast this to the Philippines, where Manila was destroyed when US Forces took it from the Japanese occupiers and Cebu City (yes, we just launched the World War II coffee table book War in Cebu) was 90 percent destroyed by American bombs, although the Japanese soldiers opted to fight the American Division from the mountain fastness of Babag Ridge. During the Shinkansen trip to Akita… I could see that the further we are from Tokyo; the quality of their infrastructure remained the same. If the train has to pass a mountain, they bore a tunnel instead. So four hours away from Tokyo, we are in what you would call Rural Japan. Yet, you do not see any signs of poverty, simply because the Japanese government built its infrastructure with the same passion and quality like they do in major cities like Tokyo/Yokohama or in Osaka/Kobe. This is what we call inclusivity! When the Haneda International Airport was already beyond capacity, the Japanese built the Narita International Airport, which is an hour’s ride to downtown Tokyo. Perhaps this should be the question that each Filipino ought to ask himself. If Japan recovered from the ravages of war and transformed itself from its former warlike stigma into a major world power, there must be something that they do in Japan that is worthwhile copying. There is no doubt that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has supported many infrastructure projects in the Philippines, but still we are so technologically far behind Japan, there is no hope of us of catching up unless we do something drastic or even revolutionary. Hey, Japan rebuilt itself in 71 years using their people’s talent and ingenuity and it is all there for us to see and yes – copy! Yet even just to copy the best things that they have in Japan, we have failed miserably doing it! Thanks to our people who seem to be very comfortable with the status quo, especially those corrupt politicians who want to keep Filipinos poor and uneducated so that they can maintain their stranglehold control over the lives (and tax money) of the people many of whom end up in diaspora working abroad in order to have a better life! We need to transform our nation into something better, or like Japan, or die trying!  READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - IS reaches Southeast Asia


JANUARY 16 -The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombings in the Indonesian capital Jakarta the other day that left seven people dead. This brings to 15 the number of countries where IS has launched deadly attacks. As with other horrific terrorist attacks, the bombers hit a soft target: a Starbucks outlet in Jakarta’s busy commercial district. It is the first major attack in Southeast Asia claimed by IS and should raise alerts across the region, particularly in the Philippines where foreign terrorists have long enjoyed safe haven. Philippine security officials have said there is so far no IS-related threat detected, but a high state of vigilance must be maintained. Indonesian militants belonging to Jemaah Islamiyah or JI, the regional terror cell with loose links to al-Qaeda, have struck in Mindanao and Metro Manila. Indonesian JI bomber Fathur Rahman al-Ghozi, harbored by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was arrested and convicted for the deadly attacks on a Light Rail Transit coach and several other sites in Manila and Makati on Dec. 30, 2000 that left 22 people dead. JI and the Abu Sayyaf were tagged in the 2004 bombing of the SuperFerry 14 near the mouth of Manila Bay that killed at least 116 people. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Making sense of all that election news


By Jarius Bondoc

MANILA, JANUARY 18, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc January 13, 2016 - 12:00am - Just some questions, to make sense out of all the confusing election news:

• To enforce the ban, cops at checkpoints will confiscate firearms in cars of civilians, including off-duty lawmen. Even replica guns will be seized, they warn. Does that mean our kids must get Comelec exemptions to bring out their toy shooters that look real?

• Isn’t Rody Duterte’s DQ as presidential bet an open-and-shut case for the Comelec? They DQ’ed Grace Poe due to a self-admitted entry error in her 2013 certificate of candidacy to lack the required residency. No mistakes allowed, right? Duterte is substituting for Martin Diño, a Quezon City barangay officer. Diño admits to a typo in filing for mayor of Pasay, even if on the correct form for President. So what’s the Comelec waiting for?

• To simplify it, can’t Duterte just withdraw? He decided to run because the Comelec initially had accepted ex-American Poe’s COC. Now that they’ve DQ’ed her, he has no more reason to fight, right?

• Comelec chairman Andy Bautista encourages us to vote in shopping malls on Election Day. It would decongest those hot, crowded polling precincts. That also would spare us out-of-towners the expense of traveling to our place of voter registry. We’d want to vote not only for national but also local officials, whose acts, the Comelec well knows, affect us directly. So we’ll need localized ballots specific to our province, congressional district, city or municipality, and council district. Tell us, Chairman sir, how many spare ballots will you make available at the mall nearest us, for any of the 97,447 precinct clusters? Don’t mind the cost to buy the special cardboard, print, dispatch, and stack those billions of spare ballots. Nothing is more sacred than suffrage, right?

• Commissioner Rowena Guanzon says she’s a peer – not under any administrative supervision – of Chairman Andy. Humph, that should put the interloper in his place. But pray tell, who’s going to sign Madam’s next travel order plus airline fare, hotel accommodations, and per diem; or approve her requisition for staff and supplies; even monthly allowances for gasoline, representation, and sundries? Silly government rules require those pesky agency chiefs to meddle in admin matters.

• Back to the candidates, administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas asks us voters about rival Poe: “Do you want to have an American for President?” Maybe he should commission the SWS or Pulse Asia to conduct such a survey. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how big a majority would say “yes”?

• Three non-Liberal Party senators, two of them now candidates, got the Ombudsman to charge VP Jojo Binay with P2-billion plunder. For judicial fair play, shouldn’t they also charge LP president Joseph Abaya and his candidate-party mate for P10.13-billion plunder – five times more – at the MRT-3 commuter rail alone, other railways, car plates, and drivers’ licenses not yet included? Documentary evidence readily is available on those scams (see breakdown below).

READ MORE...

• Why did the Comelec stampede us into having our biometrics taken – on threat of “no bio-no boto” – only to issue us mere chits as proof of registry, yet easy to lose, that they say we don’t even need to bring to the polling precinct on Election Day? Why weren’t we old and new voters issued proper biometrics IDs? Is it true that the cards will be ready only by Oct. 2016, five months after the balloting? They say the biometrics finally would stop flying voters. But without those IDs, how will they tell if we’re really who we say we are?

• This one’s about the presidential election in the US. When, oh, when will they finally elect that call-him-what-you-may Donald Trump? How many of us Filipinos would want, for a change, to be the ones to tell those white supremacists, “You should learn to choose the right leader”?

* * *

Here’s the breakdown of the P10.13 billion plundered so far from the MRT-3 alone:

• P1.85 billion to LP-mates in shoddy interim maintenance firms PH Trams (Oct. 2012-Sept. 2013) and Global Epcom (Sept. 2013-July 2015);

• P402 million, possibly double, to seven subcontractors (July 2015-Jan. 2016), the biggest chunk to Global Epcom for the easiest yet hardly done job cleaning station toilets and replacing busted light bulbs;

• P3.81 billion to the secretly negotiated three-year maintenance deal starting Jan. 2016, with Korea’s Busan Transport and four unfit Filipino firms behind which the LP-mates now hide, under a contrived “emergency,” with the final contract yet undisclosed;

• P3.85 billion to the overpriced purchase of 48 light rail vehicles from China’s Dalian Corp., inapt as it doesn’t make motorized LRVs, only passenger and cargo railcars pulled by locomotives. The first two prototypes arrived engineless, thus untested for 5,000 km, in breach of contract;

• P160 million to buy a new rail grinder only last Oct. 2015. Used only once a year, it’s a wasteful duplication since the same equipment is required from Busan starting Jan. 2016; and

• P53.4 million for a seven-month upgrade of the signaling system, also contracted in Oct. 2015, although a brand-new network is supposed to be supplied under the deal with Busan et al.

Not yet included are untold billions more for the separate purchase and installing of 48 LRV traction motors from Germany, and splurged on junkets to China and Korea.

* * *

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


Enhanced cooperation SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 13, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


PHILSTAR FILE

With the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA between the Philippines and United States, a common question is whether Uncle Sam will now be more inclined to stop Chinese expansionist activities in disputed waters.

Among expats from several countries with whom I have chatted recently, the betting is that there will be little change, especially while the Philippines’ arbitration case is pending in The Hague.

The 10-year period started running when the agreement was signed, so EDCA is now nearing two years old. During that period, China rapidly built artificial islands on reefs we are claiming in the South China Sea. Recently, it began landing civilian planes on its newly completed airstrip on Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef. Beijing is said to be building a submarine station in one of the artificial islands.

Uncle Sam didn’t need access to anybody’s military base to stop all that Chinese reef reclamation. But the US didn’t do anything to stop the activities, except to regularly issue statements about freedom of navigation and behaving by international rules.

Even with the passage of EDCA, it’s doubtful that Washington will do anything to stop the Chinese reclamation while waiting for the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal on the Philippines’ maritime entitlements.

Based on previous cases involving Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, the betting is that the tribunal will rule in our favor. Whether China will abide by the ruling is anybody’s guess. I don’t think even the Chinese leadership is sure of its course at this point. We like to joke that the Philippines will end up owning that airstrip on Kagitingan, which is starting to look better than the NAIA.

But we can’t count on EDCA to, so to speak, deliver us from evil. It’s good to have a powerful ally, but we must also work on our self-reliance for long-term credible defense and survival. We need to invest in developing our own self-defense capability. Filipinos have the brains, the innovation, and we can have the resources if we work hard enough. Japan did it after the war; China is doing it now.

READ MORE...

* * *

With 10 justices voting to uphold the validity of EDCA as an executive agreement, the Supreme Court is unlikely to reverse its ruling, so the deal is expected to finally be implemented.

EDCA strengthens security cooperation between the two countries, and allows the US to station more troops here and position military hardware for operations within the region.

The access to Philippine facilities that the US will enjoy under EDCA boosts Washington’s pivot to Asia and enhances its presence in a region where China is moving aggressively to assert dominance.

But EDCA is not like the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan. That one specifically binds the US to come to Japan’s defense in case of external attack. In 2012, Washington said the treaty covered the Senkaku Islands, which are being claimed by China. And in April 2014, US President Barack Obama categorically declared that the US would defend the Senkakus from armed attack.

In our case, the US has merely said it is not a party to territorial disputes in the South China Sea and would prefer a peaceful settlement. Washington has mainly expressed support for the arbitration case that we have brought before the Arbitral Court in the Netherlands.

* * *

EDCA specifically states that the US will not set up permanent military bases here, won’t bring in nukes, and will give the Philippine military full control over facilities that US forces will use.

Ticklish issues during the negotiations may still bedevil the implementation of the EDCA, which the Supreme Court deemed an executive agreement requiring no ratification by our Senate.

One issue is financing for facilities that will be set up for the “increased rotational presence” of US troops within Philippine military installations. Will Uncle Sam provide the funds, expected to be substantial, and how will this affect Philippine control over the facilities? US taxpayers want accountability for the use of their money by their government.

Another is the command structure within the facilities where US troops will be stationed on rotation, possibly for three to six months. While the EDCA provides that the Philippines will have full control over the facilities, members of different armed forces have their own dynamics.

US troops were in fact stationed on rotation at Camp Navarro / Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City for 13 years, from January 2002. I don’t remember any command problems being reported. The Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF)-Philippines was comprised of special forces from all the major US military services: the Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Special Operations Forces and Air Force Commandos.

In the course of counterterrorism training and intel activities in Mindanao, JSOTF-P lost 17 men, 10 of them when a Chinook helicopter (call sign “Wild 42”) went down in the Bohol Sea while returning from a mission in Basilan on Feb. 22, 2002.

In February last year, JSOTF-P was deactivated, although some of its personnel continued to provide assistance to Philippine security forces.

At its peak, JSOTF-P had only about 600 men. The rotational structure envisioned under EDCA is likely to be a much larger deployment and the command structure more complicated.


Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, left, and U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg sign the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement at Camp Aguinaldo, Philippine military headquarters in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Monday, April 28, 2014. The U.S. military will have greater access to bases across the Philippines under the new 10-year agreement signed Monday in conjunction with President Barack Obama's visit and seen as an effort by Washington to counter Chinese aggression in the region. AP/Aaron Favila PHILSTAR FILE

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin signed the EDCA with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on April 28, 2014, when Obama was visiting Manila. Legal challenges were expected by both parties, but these were complicated by the killing of transgender Jeffrey Laude by visiting US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton in October of the same year.

The Americans had hoped for a Supreme Court ruling when Obama returned for the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum last November, but the SC had too many other items on its plate, mostly election-related.

While waiting for the SC to act, the Americans scouted around for facilities where they want access for their troops: their former naval base in Subic Bay, their former air base in Clark Field, and Philippine military bases in Palawan and Cebu.

With the uncertainty hanging over EDCA, little has moved since then. Now that the uncertainty is lifted, we should avoid looking at the treaty as the answer to all our security needs.

While we need all the help we can get in dealing with an aggressive neighbor, we cannot revive a mindset of heavy dependence on others for our own defense.

* * *

SNAIL MAIL: Christmas cards, letters to the editor and invitations sent to me by snail mail as far back as November from various parts of Metro Manila finally reached our office yesterday. A colleague also received a letter yesterday greeting him on his birthday, which was in May 2015. The envelopes bore stamp marks dated Jan. 6, 2016.

We’re only a few blocks away from the main office of the Philippine Postal Corp. PhlPost cannot use the holiday rush as an excuse for this atrocious service, since the digital age has drastically reduced the number of people still using snail mail. PhlPost has more responsibilities than merely manufacturing cute commemorative stamps.


Right to reply smuggled in Comelec IRR COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 13, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

In apparent show of “unity,” the entire Commission on Elections (Comelec), including two feuding commissioners, appeared together before the media yesterday.

This obviously sought to put an end to the internal strife between two Comelec commissioners from turning into a full-blown public spectacle.

Comelec chairman Andres Bautista designated yesterday fellow commissioner Arthur Lim “as the senior commissioner in terms of wisdom” to speak for all of them. Lim declared “all’s well that ends well” for the poll body and that they have agreed to “move forward” after this ugly episode.

Of course, they must. With the national and local elections taking place on May 9, it behooves these Comelec commissioners that they are mandated and sworn to administer the political contests in the country, not fight in contest among themselves. So whatever personal or official differences each of them have against each other, the commissioners must first get their act together before anything else.

As a collegial body, the Comelec chairman is the “primus inter-pares,” or first among equals of his fellow commissioners in the seven-man poll body. Therefore, as Comelec chairman, he has the authority to call the attention of any official under him, including commissioner Rowena Guanzon for any breach of procedures, if not protocol. Incidentally, both are appointees of President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III along with the rest of the Comelec commissioners.

The furor started when Bautista found out last Friday from media reports that Guanzon submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) earlier that day the Comelec reply to the questioned disqualification ruling against presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe. In a memorandum, Bautista ordered Guanzon to explain why she proceeded to file the comment in behalf of the poll body.

Bautista’s memo fell into the hands of media later that day. As to how media got hold of the internal memo obviously riled Guanzon.

READ MORE...

So instead of making a written reply to the memo, Guanzon posted on Twitter her acerbic rebuttal. She ranted that she is not a subordinate nor an employee of Bautista. She took issue why Bautista did not just quietly discuss the matter with her since their respective offices are just beside each other at Comelec in Gen. Antonio Luna St. in Intramuros, Manila.


BAUTISTA, GUANZON

She insisted she acted with the full knowledge of the Comelec en banc which earlier designated her to draft the comment for submission to SC. Faced with the SC deadline, she proceeded to submit the Comelec comment without going back to her fellow commissioners to make their final read and make any amendments, if any.

Certainly, she may have acted in good faith for what she did. But one mistake cannot be corrected by another mistake.

Adding to her very strongly worded Twitter post against Bautista, she hurled very serious allegations against the Comelec chairman before TV interviews. She accused the Comelec chairman no less of possible partisanship with one of the presidential candidates.

So how can the Comelec assuage the public “all’s well” now in the poll body? We should take that with a grain of salt.

After so much hullaballoo, all of them – including Bautista himself – eventually signed and adopted Guanzon’s draft comment en toto at the end of their en banc meeting yesterday.

With her original draft as submitted to the SC sustained, Guanzon kept her peace, for now, I guess. All throughout Guanzon’s personal tirades on him, no hurting words were ever uttered by the gentleman Comelec chairman, not in public anyway.

Bautista merely smiled at us when we ribbed him about his brewing rift with Guanzon when we attended last Monday’s Comelec public hearing on the new implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the Fair Election Act. Accompanied by fellow commissioners Christian Robert Lim and Luie Tito F. Guia, the Comelec chairman participated in the hearing on the proposed amendments of the IRR on Republic Act 9006, otherwise called as the “Fair Election Act” which will also govern the political advertisements or propaganda for or against any candidate or political party in the coming May 9 elections.

According to Comelec public information department head James Jimenez they called for this public hearing to enable the Comelec update their IRR on Fair Election Act, especially with the advent of the internet or social media as one of the means for political ads and campaign.

It was only now that we in media discovered the existing IRR being implemented by the Comelec already allows the controversial right of reply (ROR) in the campaign rules.

What many lawmakers have failed to legislate has apparently been smuggled into the Comelec IRR into the Fair Election Act. So during these 120 days of the election period in the country, all media entities are mandated to comply with this under Section 16 of the IRR. Thankfully, there is no penal provision attached to it.

The ROR is precisely one of the reasons the equally controversial Freedom of Information (FOI) bill got snagged anew in the 16th Congress. The passage of the FOI Bill was a campaign promise of President Aquino in 2010 and over 20 versions were promptly filed by pro-administration and opposition lawmakers. The FOI bill was approved by the House committee on public information in May last year but it has yet to be taken up in plenary. Its approval by previous Congresses was derailed at the last minute due to the insistence of some House members for an ROR provision.

The right of reply provision, which mandates guaranteed space in news for rebuttals, is strongly opposed by anti-corruption groups and news organizations. Although guaranteed in our country’s Constitution, there is no enabling law yet passed by Congress for ROR. And yet at the Comelec public hearing, Jimenez and Lim cited this constitutional provision and SC jurisprudence to justify the inclusion of ROR into the Fair Election Act IRR.

Is this another case of “judicial legislation” that no less than Senate president Franklin Drilon has strongly denounced as intruding into mandates of a co-equal branch of government?

At any rate, Comelec unwittingly abets this ROR ploy that circumvents the IRR limits on political ads.


We need to transform our nation or die trying SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 14, 2016 - 12:00am 1 5 googleplus0


By Bobit S. Avila

AKITA, Japan: We’re in Akita, the northernmost tip of the Island of Honshu, where we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo Station hurling at 360 kph in what was then a technological wonder in Japan in the early sixties. Today, the Shinkansen is a major part of Japan’s railway system that works with a Swiss watch clockwork precision. In one of Japan’s latest technology, I was served a braised beef tongue with rice on a cardboard box, where all you need is to pull a string and voila! Five minutes later, your food is steaming hot! All this without lighting a fire to cook it on your lap!

How could the Japanese people achieve such technology? 71 years after hundreds of US B-29 Superfortress bombers firebombed and flattened Tokyo killing more than 100,000 people, rendering millions maimed and millions more homeless?

While the scars of war apparently have been erased (perhaps not from the memories of the old folks who lived through that kind of hell) or disappeared from the Japanese landscape, it just makes you think that Japan, the loser of World War II has somehow managed and emerged to bounce back in just a short 71 years and looked like they won that war.

Contrast this to the Philippines, where Manila was destroyed when US Forces took it from the Japanese occupiers and Cebu City (yes, we just launched the World War II coffee table book War in Cebu) was 90 percent destroyed by American bombs, although the Japanese soldiers opted to fight the American Division from the mountain fastness of Babag Ridge.

During the Shinkansen trip to Akita… I could see that the further we are from Tokyo; the quality of their infrastructure remained the same. If the train has to pass a mountain, they bore a tunnel instead. So four hours away from Tokyo, we are in what you would call Rural Japan. Yet, you do not see any signs of poverty, simply because the Japanese government built its infrastructure with the same passion and quality like they do in major cities like Tokyo/Yokohama or in Osaka/Kobe. This is what we call inclusivity!

When the Haneda International Airport was already beyond capacity, the Japanese built the Narita International Airport, which is an hour’s ride to downtown Tokyo. Perhaps this should be the question that each Filipino ought to ask himself. If Japan recovered from the ravages of war and transformed itself from its former warlike stigma into a major world power, there must be something that they do in Japan that is worthwhile copying.

There is no doubt that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has supported many infrastructure projects in the Philippines, but still we are so technologically far behind Japan, there is no hope of us of catching up unless we do something drastic or even revolutionary. Hey, Japan rebuilt itself in 71 years using their people’s talent and ingenuity and it is all there for us to see and yes – copy! Yet even just to copy the best things that they have in Japan, we have failed miserably doing it!

Thanks to our people who seem to be very comfortable with the status quo, especially those corrupt politicians who want to keep Filipinos poor and uneducated so that they can maintain their stranglehold control over the lives (and tax money) of the people many of whom end up in diaspora working abroad in order to have a better life! We need to transform our nation into something better, or like Japan, or die trying!

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Yes, many Filipinos are visiting Japan these days because our economy may have improved through all these years. However we are still woefully lacking in infrastructure development especially outside Metro Manila or Metro Cebu. Bogo City is a short 100 kilometers away north of Cebu City. But if the Japanese government was in charge of developing Cebu, Bogo City would only be a mere 40-minute freeway drive or a 30-minute train ride away. Doing this would declog

Cebu City of squatters like stick like leeches making our urban city ugly. I dare say that the time to change is now!!

Perhaps the best thing I noticed in this visit to Japan is the lack of security guards in all establishments in Tokyo or in Osaka for that matter. In the Philippines, everywhere you go, you will see a security guard, even in our Restaurants, Banks, Department stores, shopping malls and yes even our Churches. I dare you go to any hotel lobby in Cebu or Manila and as your car goes in the driveway, a security guard stops you for that baggage check without taking a peek whether you have a bomb inside your bag or not.

Indeed, hiring of security guards has become part and parcel of our daily lives… perhaps because many Filipinos with less education are comfortable doing this job. But in Japan where salaries and wages are high, they just can’t afford to hire security guards to do nothing but guard your door. Yes almost all stores or shops that you enter have a Closed-Circuit TV and for sure, Japanese Swat teams are always on full alert for any untoward incidents that could occur. Japan is truly a very safe and secure nation!

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mo-pzcom.com  or vsbobita@gmail.com . His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com .


EDITORIAL - IS reaches Southeast Asia (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 16, 2016 - 12:00am 2 14 googleplus0 0

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the bombings in the Indonesian capital Jakarta the other day that left seven people dead. This brings to 15 the number of countries where IS has launched deadly attacks.

As with other horrific terrorist attacks, the bombers hit a soft target: a Starbucks outlet in Jakarta’s busy commercial district. It is the first major attack in Southeast Asia claimed by IS and should raise alerts across the region, particularly in the Philippines where foreign terrorists have long enjoyed safe haven.

Philippine security officials have said there is so far no IS-related threat detected, but a high state of vigilance must be maintained. Indonesian militants belonging to Jemaah Islamiyah or JI, the regional terror cell with loose links to al-Qaeda, have struck in Mindanao and Metro Manila.

Indonesian JI bomber Fathur Rahman al-Ghozi, harbored by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was arrested and convicted for the deadly attacks on a Light Rail Transit coach and several other sites in Manila and Makati on Dec. 30, 2000 that left 22 people dead. JI and the Abu Sayyaf were tagged in the 2004 bombing of the SuperFerry 14 near the mouth of Manila Bay that killed at least 116 people.

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Indonesia is no stranger to Islamist terrorism. The country has battled JI militants, who were tagged in the bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005 that killed a total of 222 people, and the 2009 attack on the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in which two suicide bombers killed seven people.

Nearly a year ago today, Philippine police Special Action Force commandos killed Malaysian JI terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindano. Combined forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed 44 of the SAF and prevented the commandos from taking the body of Marwan, who was wanted for the 2002 Bali bombing.

The killers of the SAF are still scot-free, and there’s the possibility that more terrorists are being harbored in this country. There is also a strong possibility that with IS gaining a foothold in Indonesia, it won’t be long before the group makes its presence felt in the Philippines. No country in the region can let down its guard.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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