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


FROM PHILSTAR

BY Bobit Avila: THE FIRST I.E.C. - A STUNNING SUCCESS IN CEBU


FEBRUARY 2 -Bobit S. Avila
It was a great and blessed week for us Cebuanos in hosting the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) for the whole week last week. If I didn’t write anything about the IEC last week, it was only due to the fact that there was a mix-up in getting my media ID. I enrolled the entire MyTV crew for this international event, but only my ID was missing. So I missed the first three days, including the talk of Auxiliary of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron. So by Tuesday afternoon, I went to my usual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and asked the Lord if it was his will to deny me from participating in the historic IEC for his honor and glory and I will accept it... as we always obey the will of God. But the next morning on Wednesday, I got a text from a friend who told me that he has two IDs, but did not want to be recognized. So by Wednesday afternoon, I was able to join the IEC. I already sent my Thursday column, so I could not make any report on the IEC until today. Yes, I prayed before the Holy Eucharist and I was granted a minor miracle. The last time that the IEC was held in the Philippines was in Manila in 1937, and they found two first communicants who took their first Holy Communion at the Luneta at that time – Mrs. Rosita Arcenas (Ninang in our wedding) and his eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Both of them joined the 5,000 communicants who also took their first communion last Friday officiated by Cardinal Vidal.
Cebu’s hosting of the IEC left an indelible mark in Cebu. First was the fabulous IEC Pavilion, which could handle 15,000 delegates. This edifice was constructed by our dear friends, Engr. Lito and Fe Barino of Duros Construction and kudos to them for it was beautifully constructed, complete with basement parking facilities. This will be Cebu’s major venue for future national and international conventions. READ MORE...

 ALSO: EDITORIAL - ‘Deep-seated impunity’


FEBRUARY 2 -Since November 2009, there has been no other murder on the same scale as the massacre of 58 people, 32 of them media workers in Maguindanao. But killings of journalists continued, with nine murdered in 2015, three of them within just 10 days in August. That record made the Philippines the second most dangerous country after Iraq for media workers, according to the International Federation of Journalists. The IFJ is releasing its 79-page report on the problem in a few days and submitting it to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is meeting on the issue in Paris. The IFJ report comes on the heels of the release last week of the annual global report of Human Rights Watch, which criticized the record of the Aquino administration in protecting civil liberties. Now in its 26th edition, the HRW report observed that “there has been little accountability” for the killings of activists, journalists and lumad or indigenous leaders as well as other serious rights abuses including child exploitation, displacement of communities and contract killings in the Philippines. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Global emergency


FEBRAURY 4 -By this time, most countries are familiar with the drill: commercial aircraft are disinfected and all international travelers are monitored for symptoms of illness. People are more mindful of public sanitation and personal hygiene. Travelers are adjusting their plans and keeping themselves updated on every development about the latest global health threat: the Zika virus. Health officials have warned that the Philippines is particularly vulnerable. The virus is borne by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits dengue and thrives in this tropical archipelago. The country is still grappling with dengue and a related mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya. With about 10 million Filipinos working overseas, the risk of contracting Zika abroad and bringing it to the Philippines is also high. As images have shown, Zika has been linked to microcephaly among babies of infected mothers, leaving the newborns with compressed brains and shrunken skulls. No vaccine has been developed so far for the potentially lethal affliction. Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur said its production of a vaccine for dengue could speed up development of a vaccine for Zika. Still, even with research fast-tracked, a Zika vaccine is still at least several months away. In the meantime, countries can only prevent the spread of the virus through the same measures used against dengue: the destruction of mosquitoes and their breeding grounds. Brazil, where nearly 4,000 babies now suffer from Zika, is reportedly planning to release genetically modified aegypti mosquitoes that die before they reach adult stage. This may not be possible in the Philippines where the Supreme Court frowns on genetically modified organisms. The best that Filipinos can do is to keep surroundings clean, use insect repellent and treated mosquito nets, observe hygiene and be on alert for symptoms. An abundance of caution is useful when confronting a disease without a cure. THE FULL EDITORIAL.

ALSO: By Marichu Villanueva -'Narcos’


FEBRUARY 3 -By Marichu A. Villanueva
It is quite alarming, to say the least, when Sen. Grace Poe boldly declared in public what many police and other law enforcement officials would soft-pedal before media. Understandably, because these police officials and top law enforcement authorities fear the repercussions to their career if they point to any political personalities who stray into the illegal drug trade to raise funds for election campaign. Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, was quite direct. She minced no words to say such reality may already be happening on the ground during a roundtable discussion with The STAR editors, columnists and reporters last Monday. A neophyte politician, Poe expressed her worst fears that narco-politics may have gained a foothold in the Philippines. Barely three years into office as senator, Poe is now seeking the highest office of the land as one of six presidential candidates in the coming May 9 elections. Before her critics and supporters of other presidential wannabes accuse us of campaigning or endorsing her, let me state at the outset Poe came to The STAR editorial office as the third presidential candidate for the roundtable interviews before the official election campaign starts. Vice President Jejomar Binay and former interior secretary Mar Roxas II attended roundtable discussions at Port Area one after the other late last year. If she makes it as president, Poe vows, among other things, to cut off narco-politics from establishing control in our country. Narco-politics refers to the use of revenues from the illegal drug trade to influence the results of elections, especially at the local government level. It brings to mind “Narcos,” a TV series I am currently watching at Netflix for trial subscription. This Netflix in “Narcos” series was based on the infamous Medellín drug cartel and dramatized the rise and fall of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents who hunted him down. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Sara Soliven De Guzman - Comelec, we have a problem


FEBRUARY 1 -The fun run held last week to kick off the campaign for clean and peaceful elections led by the Commission on Elections brings to mind the many faux pas this agency has done in the past that has cast doubts in its credibility and efficiency in the conduct of its mandate. The Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, Article VII – The Commission on Elections, Section 52 on the Powers and Functions of the Commission on Elections states: “In addition to the powers and functions conferred upon it by the Constitution, the Commission shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest elections.” A study made from a layman’s point of view show various implications regarding the credibility and accountability of this important branch in Philippine government. The findings are a bit blatantly obvious. The Commission on Elections as an independent branch is meant to deliver a fair and honest election framework for the voting people of the Republic of the Philippines. But in reality, we must not be too naive that this framework is efficiently and competently structured to satisfy the fairness, orderliness, and honesty in achieving a credible responsible election. The quality of people assigned as chairman and commissioners of Comelec in the past decades meant to ensure an effective and functional progressive office of Electoral Commission. Sadly, in studying the eventful and historical governing of the Comelec operations, it seems that the chairman and commissioners are somewhat clueless and helpless in controlling and maintaining a standard that have a stringent framework without political interference from the ruling local government governors and mayors. We must also keep in mind that the chairman and commissioners of the Comelec are appointed by the ruling President. This leaves us wondering if they are not biased towards the ruling party or specifically influenced by the President who appointed them. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ana Marie Pamintuan- Useless
[Think about it: if the disqualification cases against Sen. Grace Poe had gone straight to the Supreme Court last year, everything would have been settled with finality by now.]


FEBRUARY 5 -Ana Marie Pamintuan OK, considering the pace of the SC, this is also iffy. Still, if the cases did not have to go to the Commission on Elections first, there’s a good chance that ballot printing would have started by now, with no doubts about the qualifications at least of those running for president. It would have saved the nation a lot of political uncertainty, and the Comelec could have busied itself with other pressing matters in preparation for the May polls. Whatever decision is reached by the Comelec, either the candidate or the petitioner in a disqualification case goes to the SC anyway. The SC disregards Comelec rulings. So why waste time, effort and people’s money for useless Comelec deliberations? All Comelec divisions were unanimous in their decision to disqualify Poe. The cases went to the SC anyway, where Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is arguing passionately for the case of foundlings. Even Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is not yet home free despite the unanimous decision by a Comelec division to junk all the disqualification cases against him. The petitioners can still seek a reconsideration of this ruling, after which the cases will go to the full Comelec, whose decision will also be open to a motion for reconsideration. Then the cases can go to the SC, regardless of the entire Comelec’s decision. By the time all legal remedies have been exhausted and the SC comes up with a ruling that is final and for execution, the May elections would have long been over. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

The 51st IEC: A stunning success for Cebu!


Bobit S. Avila

MANILA, FEBRUARY 8, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 10 googleplus0 0 It was a great and blessed week for us Cebuanos in hosting the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) for the whole week last week.

If I didn’t write anything about the IEC last week, it was only due to the fact that there was a mix-up in getting my media ID. I enrolled the entire MyTV crew for this international event, but only my ID was missing. So I missed the first three days, including the talk of Auxiliary of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron.

So by Tuesday afternoon, I went to my usual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and asked the Lord if it was his will to deny me from participating in the historic IEC for his honor and glory and I will accept it... as we always obey the will of God.

But the next morning on Wednesday, I got a text from a friend who told me that he has two IDs, but did not want to be recognized. So by Wednesday afternoon, I was able to join the IEC.

I already sent my Thursday column, so I could not make any report on the IEC until today. Yes, I prayed before the Holy Eucharist and I was granted a minor miracle.

The last time that the IEC was held in the Philippines was in Manila in 1937, and they found two first communicants who took their first Holy Communion at the Luneta at that time – Mrs. Rosita Arcenas (Ninang in our wedding) and his eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Both of them joined the 5,000 communicants who also took their first communion last Friday officiated by Cardinal Vidal.

Cebu’s hosting of the IEC left an indelible mark in Cebu. First was the fabulous IEC Pavilion, which could handle 15,000 delegates. This edifice was constructed by our dear friends, Engr. Lito and Fe Barino of Duros Construction and kudos to them for it was beautifully constructed, complete with basement parking facilities. This will be Cebu’s major venue for future national and international conventions.

READ MORE...

 
JOYFUL IEC OPENING RITES , YOU TUBE VIDEO

The IEC also brought in 100 Ceres Buses, mostly dubbed “Mindanao Star.” It was the first time that Cebu City saw a hundred huge buses going around in selected locations to pick up delegates in their hotels or in places close to these hotels to bring them to the IEC. Because of this, motorists avoided the areas where the roads were closed and in the end traffic was light everywhere. Thanks also to the suspension of classes in Cebu City.

Perhaps the biggest legacy that the IEC brought to Cebu and for the Philippines is the impression of the foreign delegates who came from 75 countries from all over the world that Cebu City, which has become an international city, has somehow retained our Catholic faith.

They saw this in the response of the Filipino delegates from all over the Philippines who joined the IEC. But best of all, they saw this last Friday afternoon after the Holy Mass in front of the provincial capitol for the procession that ensued.

My messenger on his motorcycle dropped me close to the capitol building by 4 p.m., but due to the mass of people, I could not even break into the huge crowd. I then found myself backtracking to Cebu Doctors Hospital where it was still jam packed with people.

What’s remarkable was people that far from the capitol building (around 400 yards away) would respond to the prayers during the Holy Mass.

Communion was done with the mass of people looking for the white umbrella for the Eucharistic ministers…but there was no mad rush or crowding to take communion.


A PARK FILLED WITH THE FAITHFUL. Thousands who could no longer make it inside the Plaza Independencia fill parts of M.J. Cuenco Ave., M.C. Briones St., Osmeña Blvd. and other streets to take part in the opening mass of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. The last time the Philippines hosted the IEC was nearly 79 years ago. (Sun.Star Foto/Allan Cuizon)

Then the procession proper began with only the Blessed Sacrament in the carroza with Arch. Jose Palma and Papal Legate his eminence Charles Muang Cardinal Bo and Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin seated behind the monstrance.

I walked from Cebu Doc to the skywalk in front of Robinsons Mall and I was taken aback by the huge number of people who joined the procession. The estimate of the crowd was nearly two million, not to mention the people who lined the streets but didn’t join the procession.

It was truly a solemn occasion and when evening came you could see a sea of candles with the tail of the procession still at the capitol building while the head of the procession already arrived at the Plaza Independencia.

Then the final Holy Mass dubbed “Statio Orbis” was held at the South Road Properties (SRP) just across the SM Seaside City mall and we went before lunch to avoid the traffic. But traffic at that time before the 4 p.m. mass was already snarled.

It took us 45 minutes just to enter the SM Seaside, which was jam-packed with people. By 4 p.m. Cardinal Bo started the Holy Mass and thanked the Filipinos for their faith.

Arch. Jose Palma also begged forgiveness for the disturbance during the IEC and he was applauded for his humility.

There was probably a million and a half that attended the open air mass, which culminated with a greeting by Pope Francis on a video feed. Next IEC four years from now will be in Budapest, Hungary. Praise God for the stunning success of the IEC.

* * *

Email: vsbobita@mo-pzcom.com  or vsbobita@gmail.com


EDITORIAL - ‘Deep-seated impunity’ (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 2, 2016 - 12:00am 2 9 googleplus1 1

Since November 2009, there has been no other murder on the same scale as the massacre of 58 people, 32 of them media workers in Maguindanao. But killings of journalists continued, with nine murdered in 2015, three of them within just 10 days in August.

That record made the Philippines the second most dangerous country after Iraq for media workers, according to the International Federation of Journalists. The IFJ is releasing its 79-page report on the problem in a few days and submitting it to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is meeting on the issue in Paris.

The IFJ report comes on the heels of the release last week of the annual global report of Human Rights Watch, which criticized the record of the Aquino administration in protecting civil liberties.

Now in its 26th edition, the HRW report observed that “there has been little accountability” for the killings of activists, journalists and lumad or indigenous leaders as well as other serious rights abuses including child exploitation, displacement of communities and contract killings in the Philippines.

READ MORE...

The 659-page World Report 2016 raised a recurring observation of international journalist groups – that the failure to prosecute those behind the killings has bred impunity.

HRW acknowledged that killings have gone down under the Aquino administration, but added that the next one must work on institutional reforms that will tackle “deep-seated impunity for abuses by state security forces and the corrupt and politicized criminal justice system.”

Tackling those problems will take strong political will. In many cases, local political kingpins allied with those in power are suspected of involvement in the killings, but no one is caught because the kingpins control every step of the criminal justice system in their turf, from barangay personnel to police, fiscals and judges.

Political will is crucial, but no president can do it alone.

Institutional reforms require the strengthening of the judiciary and development of professionalism in the police and military, whose members must not feel beholden to politicians for promotions and assignments.

The reforms are daunting, but they are indispensable in a free society where citizens do not live in fear of those tasked to protect them.


EDITORIAL - Global emergency (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 4, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

By this time, most countries are familiar with the drill: commercial aircraft are disinfected and all international travelers are monitored for symptoms of illness. People are more mindful of public sanitation and personal hygiene. Travelers are adjusting their plans and keeping themselves updated on every development about the latest global health threat: the Zika virus.

Health officials have warned that the Philippines is particularly vulnerable. The virus is borne by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits dengue and thrives in this tropical archipelago. The country is still grappling with dengue and a related mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya. With about 10 million Filipinos working overseas, the risk of contracting Zika abroad and bringing it to the Philippines is also high.

As images have shown, Zika has been linked to microcephaly among babies of infected mothers, leaving the newborns with compressed brains and shrunken skulls. No vaccine has been developed so far for the potentially lethal affliction.

Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur said its production of a vaccine for dengue could speed up development of a vaccine for Zika. Still, even with research fast-tracked, a Zika vaccine is still at least several months away.

In the meantime, countries can only prevent the spread of the virus through the same measures used against dengue: the destruction of mosquitoes and their breeding grounds.

Brazil, where nearly 4,000 babies now suffer from Zika, is reportedly planning to release genetically modified aegypti mosquitoes that die before they reach adult stage. This may not be possible in the Philippines where the Supreme Court frowns on genetically modified organisms. The best that Filipinos can do is to keep surroundings clean, use insect repellent and treated mosquito nets, observe hygiene and be on alert for symptoms. An abundance of caution is useful when confronting a disease without a cure.


‘Narcos’ COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 3, 2016 - 12:00am 1 23 googleplus0 0


By Marichu A. Villanueva

It is quite alarming, to say the least, when Sen. Grace Poe boldly declared in public what many police and other law enforcement officials would soft-pedal before media.

Understandably, because these police officials and top law enforcement authorities fear the repercussions to their career if they point to any political personalities who stray into the illegal drug trade to raise funds for election campaign.

Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, was quite direct. She minced no words to say such reality may already be happening on the ground during a roundtable discussion with The STAR editors, columnists and reporters last Monday.

A neophyte politician, Poe expressed her worst fears that narco-politics may have gained a foothold in the Philippines. Barely three years into office as senator, Poe is now seeking the highest office of the land as one of six presidential candidates in the coming May 9 elections.

Before her critics and supporters of other presidential wannabes accuse us of campaigning or endorsing her, let me state at the outset Poe came to The STAR editorial office as the third presidential candidate for the roundtable interviews before the official election campaign starts. Vice President Jejomar Binay and former interior secretary Mar Roxas II attended roundtable discussions at Port Area one after the other late last year.

If she makes it as president, Poe vows, among other things, to cut off narco-politics from establishing control in our country.

Narco-politics refers to the use of revenues from the illegal drug trade to influence the results of elections, especially at the local government level.

It brings to mind “Narcos,” a TV series I am currently watching at Netflix for trial subscription. This Netflix in “Narcos” series was based on the infamous Medellín drug cartel and dramatized the rise and fall of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents who hunted him down.

READ MORE...

The story is told largely from the points of view of Escobar and one of the US DEA agents after him. The story begins with the early days of the drug battle of the US DEA agent when he used to go after “hippies in flip-flops” caught with up to a kilo of marijuana. Then, the illegal drug trade flourished and was more sophisticated. It turned violent as hundreds, if not thousands of lives were lost in bloody battles between members of the cartel peddling tons of kilos of cocaine and drug agents from Colombia, Mexico, and the US.

Escobar was first a petty smuggler of goods to and from Colombia and the US and went through his trade routes easily by bribing border police and military men as well as local officials. Escobar graduated into smuggling more lucrative but illegal cocaine most popular among drug users in the US.

Accumulating much money, Escobar dispensed funds, food and other assistance to poor folks in his town. Then he declared he would become president of his country. That was the third episode of this series that I was able to watch.

The uncanny parallelism of “Narcos” to the growing shabu trade here may ring true if Philippine authorities keep their heads down, if not turn a blind eye on such dark prospects.

Sounding out the alarm, Poe warned us about corrupt officials and unscrupulous politicians who have lost steady sources of funds with the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or the infamous “pork barrel.” She also pointed to the loss of Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that the Supreme Court declared illegal.

The fact that this coming May will be the first elections that would be fought by candidates sans the “benefits” of lawmakers’ PDAF makes the use of illegal drug money as campaign funds possible, Poe explained. Surely, it’s not far-fetched.

As a mother of three children, the 47-year-old Poe echoed the fears of many parents on the growing menace of drug trafficking, especially shabu, the so-called poor man’s cocaine smuggled in large volumes into the Philippines. Worse, she noted, there have been of late incidents involving local politicians also apparently in the illegal trade.

Her attention was caught by an incident in Iloilo after a privately owned radio station was attacked last Nov. 19, 2015. As caught on security camera, a group of 20 men attempted to barge in the Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo station building in Mandurriao district. It turned out two of those involved in the break-in of the radio station were suspected leaders of an illegal drug syndicate in Iloilo who were earlier arrested and jailed but were apparently on the loose.

The incident caught national interest after it was reported in media and to which Senators Poe and Nancy Binay filed separate resolutions calling for investigation into the incident. Incidentally, Iloilo is a known political bailiwick of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III. In fact, President Aquino led last year’s Independence Day celebration in Iloilo City.

Poe conducted last Dec. 10 the first public hearing of this incident in Iloilo City where the Senate committee on public order invited Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City; Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr.; director general Arturo Cacdac Jr. of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA); Philippine National Police (PNP) regional director Paul Ledesma, and other local government and police officers and members of media in Iloilo City.

She resumed the public hearing yesterday at the Senate and was informed by the PDEA chief that indeed there has been an increase of arrests on illegal drugs involving police and local government officials last year. However, Cacdac noted the increase was not that dramatic compared with previous years’ records.

In 2015, the PDEA chief reported a total of 199 government officials were arrested for drug trafficking: 32 law enforcers, 64 barangay officials and 103 government employees. He compared this total to 190 arrests recorded in 2014; 138 in 2013; 65 in 2012, and 29 in 2011.

If this is the PDEA’s accomplishment report, we dread what was not reported.


Comelec, we have a problem AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven de Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 1, 2016 - 12:00am 2 45 googleplus0 1

The fun run held last week to kick off the campaign for clean and peaceful elections led by the Commission on Elections brings to mind the many faux pas this agency has done in the past that has cast doubts in its credibility and efficiency in the conduct of its mandate.

The Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, Article VII – The Commission on Elections, Section 52 on the Powers and Functions of the Commission on Elections states: “In addition to the powers and functions conferred upon it by the Constitution, the Commission shall have exclusive charge of the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly and honest elections.”

A study made from a layman’s point of view show various implications regarding the credibility and accountability of this important branch in Philippine government. The findings are a bit blatantly obvious. The Commission on Elections as an independent branch is meant to deliver a fair and honest election framework for the voting people of the Republic of the Philippines. But in reality, we must not be too naive that this framework is efficiently and competently structured to satisfy the fairness, orderliness, and honesty in achieving a credible responsible election.

The quality of people assigned as chairman and commissioners of Comelec in the past decades meant to ensure an effective and functional progressive office of Electoral Commission.

Sadly, in studying the eventful and historical governing of the Comelec operations, it seems that the chairman and commissioners are somewhat clueless and helpless in controlling and maintaining a standard that have a stringent framework without political interference from the ruling local government governors and mayors.

We must also keep in mind that the chairman and commissioners of the Comelec are appointed by the ruling President. This leaves us wondering if they are not biased towards the ruling party or specifically influenced by the President who appointed them.

READ MORE...

In addition, based on an extract Resolution pertaining to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI); constitutions and appointment, the Commission on Elections, through its Election Officer, shall constitute not later than a defined date, the BEI for each precinct/clustered precinct. These BEIs come from the list of all public school teachers submitted by the Department of Education’s (DepEd) highest official within the city/municipality/school district.

Note that this DepEd highest official is selected and appointed by the governors of the provinces and mayors of the cities. These BEIs undergo Comelec training. But as they are initially paid and appointed by Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) governor or mayor, one can’t help but wonder where their loyalty would be.


COMELEC Seal.png

Back in 2013, in Rizal Province, there were allegations that the canvassing of votes was transferred by the Provincial Election Supervisor from the City Hall of Antipolo, the seat of canvassing for every election, to the Ynares Sports Center in the Provincial Capitol grounds which is believed to be the center of political activities and headquarters of the Ynares adopted political parties.

By moving to the Capitol, when a separate working place was practically available in the City Hall, the Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) increased the risk to compromise Comelec’s independent role to that of the Provincial Government. This shows that the power of the PES seems to be beyond the control of Comelec. This likewise cast doubt on the fairness and honesty of the election.

If you can still recall, it was also in this province where during the 2010 post-election 60 PCOS machines were recovered in the resident of a Smartmatic technician.

This nearly caused a rebellion in Antipolo, Rizal. Police and army personnel were called in riot gear.

On April 23, 2010, Comelec passed Resolution 8823 directing Smartmatic to store the PCOS machines in the central warehouse of Smartmatic in Cabuyao, Laguna after elections. Acting partly as mediator, then Senate President Enrile transferred the 60 machines to be stored in the Senate.

But already after the fact, even with the directive of the Joint Congress Committee, only a truncated investigation occurred with negative findings.

No action was taken by Comelec against the PES of Rizal whose role is to supervise the Resolution directive of delivering the equipment to the specified storage location nor Smartmatic for violating and interfering the proper storage as stated in Resolution 8823.

As a matter of fact, Comelec continued trading with Smartmatic without considering insulting the voters of the Philippines with its inaction to a foreign supplier that violated its Resolution by being in possession of that 60 machines in a private dwelling.

Now, is it wrong for the voters to think that Comelec was in collusion with Smartmatic with this event being clearly unresolved?

Comelec seems powerless in the local government management or manipulation of the election which does validate the statement that they are clueless and helpless in the election activities at local government levels.

Here lies the predicament of why we have such an unstable and corrupt government. Our election system framework lacks proper organization, monitoring and complete administrative infrastructure. This is why the Philippines is full of elite dynasties controlling our cities, provinces and even our national government.

This is why 80 percent of our population wallows in poverty. These elite dynasties control the full national government.

Without the support of the government these dynasties risk unfavorable results in the election in the cities and provinces. So, efficient governance is stuck in these complex political maneuvers, so unproductive in providing the necessary services for the people of the Philippines.


MANY election watchdogs have proliferated in the May polls because of the failure of the Comelec, the constitutionally ordained guardian of the ballot, to protect the sanctity of elections. [photo courtesy of Carmela Ledesma]

The Commission on Elections, as an independent branch of government, lacks the complete organization framework that can provide a full accountable management of having a fair, orderly and honest competent election that they promote in their operating code.

A factor in organization regarding legalities like Legislations and Resolutions becomes a hindrance in managing Commission on Elections. Management can easily be transformed in a more dynamic framework based on policy statements, procedural directives, detailed guidelines and hence producing a high form of working standards.

So in reality what is needed is a proper administrative infrastructure with full working framework structure based on a specific legislation as part of what the directive Constitutional statement states. The Commission can then freely plan and organize without being hindered or pressured through stalemate by defensive legal obligation and can manage, organize and account for the respective responsibilities it is meant to provide. It can satisfy the legal obligation more effectively.

The Comelec is supposed to be the premier guardian of the Philippine ballot. It is an embarrassment to have it operate inefficiently and ineffectively for so many decades because the same elite groups holds the power to ensure control not for good governance but for self-benefit and glory. This actually justifies why the electorate remain skeptical and negative towards Comelec.

Do politicians really think that as voters we are that naïve that we could easily be manipulated? It’s time for massive reforms to bring proper control to governance.

Perhaps Comelec can set up their offices far from the LGU premises. In this way, they can maintain and not compromise their unbiased independent status.


Useless SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 5, 2016 - 12:00am 3 8 googleplus0 0

Think about it: if the disqualification cases against Sen. Grace Poe had gone straight to the Supreme Court last year, everything would have been settled with finality by now.

OK, considering the pace of the SC, this is also iffy. Still, if the cases did not have to go to the Commission on Elections first, there’s a good chance that ballot printing would have started by now, with no doubts about the qualifications at least of those running for president. It would have saved the nation a lot of political uncertainty, and the Comelec could have busied itself with other pressing matters in preparation for the May polls.

Whatever decision is reached by the Comelec, either the candidate or the petitioner in a disqualification case goes to the SC anyway. The SC disregards Comelec rulings. So why waste time, effort and people’s money for useless Comelec deliberations?

All Comelec divisions were unanimous in their decision to disqualify Poe. The cases went to the SC anyway, where Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is arguing passionately for the case of foundlings.

Even Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is not yet home free despite the unanimous decision by a Comelec division to junk all the disqualification cases against him. The petitioners can still seek a reconsideration of this ruling, after which the cases will go to the full Comelec, whose decision will also be open to a motion for reconsideration. Then the cases can go to the SC, regardless of the entire Comelec’s decision.

By the time all legal remedies have been exhausted and the SC comes up with a ruling that is final and for execution, the May elections would have long been over.

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And because the SC some years ago did the unprecedented and reversed its own supposedly final, executory decision, there is a possibility that the disqualification cases could become bogged down in perpetual litigation.

This wouldn’t be a problem if both Poe and Duterte are included in the ballot but lose with the disqualification cases still waiting for a final SC ruling. The tribunal may just archive the cases, explaining that the candidates’ defeat has rendered the cases moot, as the SC did in the disqualification case filed against presidential candidate Joseph Estrada in the 2010 race. Erap placed an impressive second in that race. Without so-called “necro-politics,” he might have won.

In the current race, both Poe and Duterte are strong contenders. Consider the scenarios if either of them wins and is later disqualified.

We have a poll body that is inutile in deciding on the qualifications of candidates. Why does it bother with the work? This situation is absurd and a waste of time and public resources.

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Foreign investors have also complained that business regulatory bodies are just as emasculated as the Comelec, with all decisions appealable to the courts. Comelec rulings at least are directly elevated to the SC.

In business disputes, rulings of regulatory bodies can go to the regional trial court first before going up to higher tribunals. Resolving business disputes with finality can take a decade or two. This wreaks havoc on investments.

Aware of this problem, investors from several countries now require the inclusion of a clause in contracts, especially big-ticket ones involving the Philippine government, that in case of a dispute, the issue will be subjected to international arbitration. But even with this clause, decisions by foreign arbitral tribunals have been challenged before Philippine courts when it comes to implementation, such as in the amounts to be paid by one party to another.

The SC has been criticized for poking its nose even into areas where it has no expertise, and failing to get the needed expert advice, such as in the case of its sweeping ban on genetically modified organisms. The GMO ban has affected not only field-testing of pest-resistant and higher-yield crops but also importation of products such as animal feed.

Responding to environmental groups, the SC has even ordered executive offices to clean up Manila Bay. Everyone wishes that this would happen, but the judiciary is encroaching on executive functions here.

With the high tribunal accepting anything and everything piled on its plate, it’s little wonder that it has a gargantuan caseload and can’t decide anything quickly enough.

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SC justices will probably explain that they are merely carrying out their constitutional duty. I’ve written about the constitutional provision that was not in any of the previous charters of the land, cited to me by several current and retired SC justices themselves.

The provision states that judicial power includes the “duty of the courts of justice” to determine “whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.”

Admittedly, there are many cases wherein orders or decisions smack of grave abuse of discretion, such as in electoral protests. But if the SC will be the final arbiter anyway, why waste time, effort and public funds by bringing poll protests first to the Comelec and the House and Senate electoral tribunals?

Because of the time it takes for protests to reach the SC and get a final ruling, those who unlawfully occupy an elective post can finish nearly the entire term before the real winner is installed. That’s robbing voters of their will.

The SC has also rendered the Comelec useless in regulating campaign finance and bringing sanity to the party-list system. Perhaps one day the SC will even count the votes.

Charter change would have best been accomplished under President Aquino, who was seen to be genuinely uninterested in perpetuating himself in power. Miffed by the SC, P-Noy said he wanted to clip “judicial overreach” and for a while seemed ready to go along with Cha-cha. But he made sure his mother’s Freedom Constitution would remain untouched under his watch by threatening, every time there was a serious move for economic Cha-cha, to propose a Charter overhaul that would allow him to seek a second term.

So economic Cha-cha is currently as dead as the Bangsamoro law. The SC appears unwilling to practice some self-restraint in accepting cases. And here we are, faced with uncertainty over the presidential race.

It’s too late for the current administration, but the next one may want to sit down with Congress and the SC to discuss this state of affairs. If the gods of Padre Faura are unwilling to give even an inch to have their vast powers clipped, Cha-cha will need serious consideration.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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