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

FROM ABS-CBN & PHILSTAR

WATCH: TEDITORIAL - THE DOG AND THE BONE


MARCH 7 --By Teddy Locsin, Jr Watch premium ANC videos on iWantv or TFC.tv In tonight's Teditorial, Teddy Locsin Jr. cautions the Philippines against failed expectations and problematic alliances on the simmering dispute over the South China Sea. - The World Tonight, ANC, March 7, 2016 VIDEO  TEDITORIAL BELOW...

ALSO: By Jarius Bondoc -Too hard to issue voting receipts?


MARCH 11 -By Jarius Bondoc
Filipinos are crazy about receipts. They have receipts for every conceivable transaction: groceries, salaries, personal loans. They even have ones for strictly confidential because potentially embarrassing purchases, like erectile-dysfunction pills. Or for the patently illegal, like “jueteng” illegal gambling bets. Extramarital partners keep count via receipts how many times they’ve trysted, when, and where. Filipinos are uninterested in the taxman’s frequent reminder to “ask for an O.R. (official receipt).” Just the same they require receipts as proofs that the exchanges or events did take place. Receipts can be for reimbursements, records, or mementos. Like, the senior lothario is issued a receipt reflecting the 20-percent discount and VAT exemption in buying the above-whispered pill. The housemaid, as instructed by the Señora, must make the wet-market vendors scribble on slips torn from the notebook the prices of the “talong,” “bagoong” and “lapu-lapu” she bought. The condoler keeps as grim remembrance the receipt for the Mass card offered at the deceased’s wake. The Dept. of Transportation has made the receipt more important than ever. An illustration is a quarrel over driving licenses at the Land Transportation Office this week. Showing his crumpled, faded receipt, the driver wanted to know if his plastic license card finally is ready for release. The clerk at the issuance window replied that the agency still was short of the regular cards. So the driver requested that his receipt be re-stamped “extended” by another six months. On seeing the original date of the receipt, the clerk refused, saying the two-year license was to lapse in a month. “You need to get a new license,” she declared. Naturally the driver complained, “But you haven’t even issued me one for these past two years. To which the clerk shot back, “Yes, but your receipt shows that it’s expiring.” The driver insisted, “Still, where’s that expiring license which I paid for, as shown by this receipt?” They ended up cussing each other. READ MORE...

ALSO: Abuse of discretion
[People are wondering if P-Noy’s statements on the SC decision are merely for show, part of efforts – not too convincing so far – that Poe is not his Plan B, and that it’s not 2010 all over again when he was suspected of secretly supporting Jejomar Binay instead of Mar Roxas. Whether or not P-Noy’s sentiments on the SC ruling are genuine, he has put the tribunal on the spot again. Not that it will change the status quo; the SC isn’t about to yield an inch of power. SC justices are living up to their name: they are the gods of Padre Faura.]


MARCH 11 -ANA MARIE PAMINTUAN
The Constitution allows the judicial courts “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.” At the rate the Commission on Elections has been seeing its decisions, including unanimous ones, overturned by the Supreme Court, Comelec officials should just quit and let the SC do the work of the poll body. Or else, after repeatedly committing “grave abuse of discretion” as ruled by the SC, Comelec officials should be impeached. In just one day, the Comelec saw two of its major decisions overturned by the SC: its disqualification of Sen. Grace Poe from the presidential race for failure to meet both citizenship and residency requirements, and its rejection of the issuance of voter receipts – a decision meant to deter vote-buying and save time and resources. The SC, which has taken its sweet time resolving Poe’s disqualification case, refused to grant the Comelec’s request for a one-week extension of the deadline to argue against the petition for vote receipts, and unanimously overturned the poll body’s unanimous decision. Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista lamented that implementing the SC order would require the reconfiguration of 92,500 SD memory cards and retraining of over 277,000 election inspectors. The Comelec must hold a bidding for the supply of around 1.2 million additional rolls of thermal paper and 92,500 receptacles for the receipts. Bautista has warned that as a result, the elections may have to be postponed. In reaction, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said the Comelec ignored a non-extendible deadline to respond to the petition and failed to see that the receipts are mandated under the poll automation law. Perhaps the Comelec is guilty of incompetence in failing to understand “non-extendible” and in misinterpreting the law. This is bad for Bautista, a former law dean who was also considered for an SC seat. But generally, there ought to be a presumption of regularity in the way government agencies carry out their functions, or else the SC could find itself reviewing all orders, policies and decisions of all offices including regulatory bodies. The Comelec, a constitutional body, has been rendered inutile – little more than a gofer of the SC, its decisions ignored and its deliberations nothing but a waste of time, resources and people’s money. The Comelec has been reversed in its efforts to prevent the abuse of the party-list system, regulate campaign finance and prevent premature campaigning. It does not have the final word on the eligibility of candidates or in resolving electoral protests. With the SC taking on anything and everything including all electoral protests and poll-related issues, the high tribunal – already suffering from case overload, which has further slowed down adjudication – should expect to find itself swamped soon with election cases. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Marchu Villanueva - Clock ticking for Comelec


MARCH 11 -By Marichu A. Villanueva
Don’t panic! Building scenarios like no elections, or No-El, won’t help any to address the latest bug in preparations for the holding of the next automated elections in our country on May 9. The No-El scenarios cropped up anew following the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that ordered the implementation of the voters’ receipts as mandated under the Automated Elections Law. Thrown off their timetable, the seven-man Commission on Elections (Comelec) headed by chairman Andres Bautista re-plotted their timeline of preparations and their next moves in the coming days. After their emergency meeting yesterday, Bautista announced the poll body would file a motion for reconsideration (MR) at the soonest possible time. While still drafting the MR, the Comelec chief disclosed they would start the bidding process for thermal paper and receptacles to comply with the SC ruling to implement the Voters’ Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), or voters’ receipts, for short. The Comelec paid a dear price for their tarrying after the SC refused the five-day extension of deadline the poll body asked to submit their comment on the VVPAT. Bautista admitted this was because they were confident on the jurisprudence of a similar petition against the VVPAT which was dismissed by the previous SC ruling in 2009. But the confidence was obviously misplaced because they are facing a completely new SC composition that ruled on a new petitions filed led by former Sen. Richard Gordon. Bautista earlier doubted a reversal of the unanimous ruling handed down by the high court last Tuesday. His previous pessimism was obviously replaced yesterday by hopefulness, or should I say wishful thinking. Apparently, this after a public statement yesterday made no less by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. In an interview with court reporters, Sereno frowned at No-El scenario and told them it would be best for the poll body to just submit its position before the high court. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Carmen Pedrosa - No dirty tricks, please


MARCH 12 -Carmen Pedrosa - I was surprised to read in FB that “I have switched my support from Jejomar Binay to Rodrigo Duterte.” Please naman. No dirty tricks. I have never supported Jejomar Binay. So there has been no switch. I have been for Rodrigo Duterte from the day the Davao city mayor launched his candidacy. Duterte has many qualities that we are looking for in a new leader. But the most important ‘quality’ (if that can be called a quality) as far as I am concerned is his stand on constitutional reform. This should be the main concern of Filipino voters in May (if we do have an election that will be fair and free). I wrote in January 23, 2016 on that – Federalism and Duterte. I will excerpt some portions of that article so it is clear what I stand for: “There are many reasons but to me, the most important is his program for constitutional change to restructure politics and government in the country. It is a tall order but whoever undertakes it, and succeeds would have the gratitude of the Filipino nation… “He will put the country together for what I consider to be a compromise solution and fight for federalism to bring peace in Mindanao. “Kinausap ako to carry the torch of federalism,” Duterte said. “I will build a nationwide consensus for federalism.”


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Teditorial: The dog and its bone

MANILA, MARCH 14, 2016 (ABS-CBN) ABS-CBN News Posted at 03/07/16 11:58 PM 704 - Watch premium ANC videos on iWantv or TFC.tv In tonight's Teditorial, Teddy Locsin Jr. cautions the Philippines against failed expectations and problematic alliances on the simmering dispute over the South China Sea. - The World Tonight, ANC, March 7, 2016

 

 


PHILSTAR

Too hard to issue voting receipts? GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Jarius Bondoc

Filipinos are crazy about receipts. They have receipts for every conceivable transaction: groceries, salaries, personal loans. They even have ones for strictly confidential because potentially embarrassing purchases, like erectile-dysfunction pills. Or for the patently illegal, like “jueteng” illegal gambling bets. Extramarital partners keep count via receipts how many times they’ve trysted, when, and where.

Filipinos are uninterested in the taxman’s frequent reminder to “ask for an O.R. (official receipt).” Just the same they require receipts as proofs that the exchanges or events did take place. Receipts can be for reimbursements, records, or mementos. Like, the senior lothario is issued a receipt reflecting the 20-percent discount and VAT exemption in buying the above-whispered pill. The housemaid, as instructed by the Señora, must make the wet-market vendors scribble on slips torn from the notebook the prices of the “talong,” “bagoong” and “lapu-lapu” she bought. The condoler keeps as grim remembrance the receipt for the Mass card offered at the deceased’s wake.

The Dept. of Transportation has made the receipt more important than ever. An illustration is a quarrel over driving licenses at the Land Transportation Office this week. Showing his crumpled, faded receipt, the driver wanted to know if his plastic license card finally is ready for release. The clerk at the issuance window replied that the agency still was short of the regular cards. So the driver requested that his receipt be re-stamped “extended” by another six months. On seeing the original date of the receipt, the clerk refused, saying the two-year license was to lapse in a month. “You need to get a new license,” she declared. Naturally the driver complained, “But you haven’t even issued me one for these past two years. To which the clerk shot back, “Yes, but your receipt shows that it’s expiring.” The driver insisted, “Still, where’s that expiring license which I paid for, as shown by this receipt?” They ended up cussing each other.

READ MORE...

The LTO also is short of vehicle license plates. It advises new and old car registrants to just “make your own” cardboard plates in the meantime. More than 600,000 pairs of metal plates still are stuck in 11 cargo containers at the Customs in the Port of Manila. The contracted plate-maker has no money for import duties. The LTO requests that the registration receipt number be included in the homemade temporary cardboard versions. One car owner dutifully printed the all-important receipt number, with this underneath in bold letters: “Anak ng camote, wala pa rin plaka!”

Receipts are now being issued for erstwhile secret dealings. Last year a woman name-dropped some Malacañang bigwigs on import receipts, hoping to slip past Customs six cargo containers of smuggled rice. As the deadline nears to file corporate income taxes, BIR “fixers” issue unofficial receipts of multimillion-peso cash savings of their tax-evading clients. A recent news exposé shows that even casino payoffs can be duly receipted, even if only “for internal accounting purposes.”

Yet why, despite all this, is it so difficult for the Comelec to issue a voter receipt?

The Supreme Court unanimously has told the election body to activate the VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) of the 97,000 voting machines. The Election Automation Act of 2008 requires such receipt, oddly scuttled in the 2010 and 2013 balloting. With the VVPAT, every voter can check if the machine read his ballot correctly. The electorate also can verify the accuracy of the tally and transmission.

The VVPAT is the most basic security safeguard of the fraud-prone voting machine. The SC justices, 15-0, ordered the Comelec quickly to draft guidelines on the VVPAT for Election Day. Yet what Filipinos see is the poll body grumbling in the news media against the SC ruling.

* * *

Two agencies under Malacañang need to reconcile their financial differences before the figures increase any further. Those are the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) which endows it five percent of casino earnings.

Pagcor remitted to the PSC P4.324 billion in the seven years from 2009 to 2015. Certain PSC commissioners believe, however, that the agency should have gotten more – P12.312 billion. They aver that sports development was shortchanged P7.988 billion.

The differences arise from two methods of computing the five-percent share of sports advancement. Pagcor first sums up its revenues for the year, deducts five-percent franchise tax and operating expenses, then from the balance derives the PSC’s five-percent share.

Thus in 2009, Pagcor gave PSC P392 million from gross take of P30.385 billion. In 2010 PSC got P506 million from Pagcor’s P31.461 billion. In 2015 (first ten months) PSC got P833 million from Pagcor’s P35.73 billion.

PSC commissioners have another way of computing. That’s the one prescribed in Aug. 1990 by then-Justice Sec. Franklin Drilon. That is, from Pagcor’s gross revenues, first deduct the government’s five-percent franchise tax, then derive the PSC’s five-percent share for sports.

If computed that way, Pagcor should have given PSC P1.461 billion in 2009, P1.518 billion in 2010, all the way to P1.705 billion in 2015.

The P7.988-billion balance could determine if the country can produce once and for all an Olympic gold medalist.


Abuse of discretion SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


ANA MARIE PAMINTUAN

The Constitution allows the judicial courts “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.”

At the rate the Commission on Elections has been seeing its decisions, including unanimous ones, overturned by the Supreme Court, Comelec officials should just quit and let the SC do the work of the poll body. Or else, after repeatedly committing “grave abuse of discretion” as ruled by the SC, Comelec officials should be impeached.

In just one day, the Comelec saw two of its major decisions overturned by the SC: its disqualification of Sen. Grace Poe from the presidential race for failure to meet both citizenship and residency requirements, and its rejection of the issuance of voter receipts – a decision meant to deter vote-buying and save time and resources.

The SC, which has taken its sweet time resolving Poe’s disqualification case, refused to grant the Comelec’s request for a one-week extension of the deadline to argue against the petition for vote receipts, and unanimously overturned the poll body’s unanimous decision.

Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista lamented that implementing the SC order would require the reconfiguration of 92,500 SD memory cards and retraining of over 277,000 election inspectors. The Comelec must hold a bidding for the supply of around 1.2 million additional rolls of thermal paper and 92,500 receptacles for the receipts. Bautista has warned that as a result, the elections may have to be postponed.

In reaction, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said the Comelec ignored a non-extendible deadline to respond to the petition and failed to see that the receipts are mandated under the poll automation law.

Perhaps the Comelec is guilty of incompetence in failing to understand “non-extendible” and in misinterpreting the law. This is bad for Bautista, a former law dean who was also considered for an SC seat. But generally, there ought to be a presumption of regularity in the way government agencies carry out their functions, or else the SC could find itself reviewing all orders, policies and decisions of all offices including regulatory bodies.

The Comelec, a constitutional body, has been rendered inutile – little more than a gofer of the SC, its decisions ignored and its deliberations nothing but a waste of time, resources and people’s money. The Comelec has been reversed in its efforts to prevent the abuse of the party-list system, regulate campaign finance and prevent premature campaigning. It does not have the final word on the eligibility of candidates or in resolving electoral protests.

With the SC taking on anything and everything including all electoral protests and poll-related issues, the high tribunal – already suffering from case overload, which has further slowed down adjudication – should expect to find itself swamped soon with election cases.

READ MORE...

The incoming leadership of the executive and legislative branches must consider sitting down with the senior officials of the judiciary to prevent this situation from getting out of hand.

* * *

The SC can check the executive and legislative branches for grave abuse of discretion. But who checks grave abuse in the judiciary? The nation can’t afford to keep impeaching SC justices, although these days there’s hissing about impeachment plans, promising exciting times ahead in the next administration.

Rival camps are said to be furiously working to unearth the rumored 100 million reasons for the SC’s 9-6 ruling favoring Poe. A businessman working for an industrialist is suspected of providing the persuasive argument.

President Aquino, whose anointed is seeing more rats abandoning ship after the ruling on Poe, jumped into the fray the other day. P-Noy questioned the SC ruling not on the issue of residency, where Poe appears to have been allowed to get away with an “honest mistake,” but on the more complicated issue of citizenship.

Judging from the “confused” P-Noy’s comments, he’s not looking at the debate over the citizenship of foundlings, but at the constitutional description of a “natural-born citizen” – a requirement for a president of the republic.

Section 1, Article IV of the Constitution describes a “natural-born citizen” as someone who is a citizen of the Philippines “from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.” Those seeking Poe’s disqualification argue that she had to perform an act to reacquire and perfect her Philippine citizenship.

Poe has said she renounced her Philippine citizenship “for love” and moved with her husband to the United States where they raised their family. If ever, he will be the first American First Spouse and their kids the first American children of a Philippine president.

When you have a worthy candidate like Poe, it’s fine to argue for vox populi vox Dei, to let the people decide and do away with the niceties of the Constitution and election rules. Poe’s supporters stress that it would be a shame to deprive Filipinos of such a choice for the nation’s highest post.

But what happens when the same arguments used in her favor are invoked by unpopular or venal candidates? Whatever jurisprudence is set will have to be applied to future controversies.

Interestingly, Section 5 of Article IV may be a ground for challenging dual citizenship rights: “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” But there are many provisions in our precious Constitution that have not been carried out.

* * *

P-Noy said the other day that all along, he had thought that when he appointed Poe as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, she had already renounced her US citizenship.

His belated wading into the controversy is curious, considering that the solicitor general who is supposed to represent the government had argued for Poe and against the Comelec, while four of his SC appointees also voted for Poe.

People are wondering if P-Noy’s statements on the SC decision are merely for show, part of efforts – not too convincing so far – that Poe is not his Plan B, and that it’s not 2010 all over again when he was suspected of secretly supporting Jejomar Binay instead of Mar Roxas.

Whether or not P-Noy’s sentiments on the SC ruling are genuine, he has put the tribunal on the spot again. Not that it will change the status quo; the SC isn’t about to yield an inch of power. SC justices are living up to their name: they are the gods of Padre Faura.


PHILSTAR

Clock ticking for Comelec COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Marichu A. Villanueva

Don’t panic! Building scenarios like no elections, or No-El, won’t help any to address the latest bug in preparations for the holding of the next automated elections in our country on May 9. The No-El scenarios cropped up anew following the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that ordered the implementation of the voters’ receipts as mandated under the Automated Elections Law.

Thrown off their timetable, the seven-man Commission on Elections (Comelec) headed by chairman Andres Bautista re-plotted their timeline of preparations and their next moves in the coming days. After their emergency meeting yesterday, Bautista announced the poll body would file a motion for reconsideration (MR) at the soonest possible time.

While still drafting the MR, the Comelec chief disclosed they would start the bidding process for thermal paper and receptacles to comply with the SC ruling to implement the Voters’ Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), or voters’ receipts, for short.

The Comelec paid a dear price for their tarrying after the SC refused the five-day extension of deadline the poll body asked to submit their comment on the VVPAT. Bautista admitted this was because they were confident on the jurisprudence of a similar petition against the VVPAT which was dismissed by the previous SC ruling in 2009.

But the confidence was obviously misplaced because they are facing a completely new SC composition that ruled on a new petitions filed led by former Sen. Richard Gordon.

Bautista earlier doubted a reversal of the unanimous ruling handed down by the high court last Tuesday. His previous pessimism was obviously replaced yesterday by hopefulness, or should I say wishful thinking.

Apparently, this after a public statement yesterday made no less by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. In an interview with court reporters, Sereno frowned at No-El scenario and told them it would be best for the poll body to just submit its position before the high court.

READ MORE...

This augurs well for the Comelec to see this as a sign that the 15-man tribunal remains open to consider and hear their arguments against the printout of VVPAT and their proposed alternative mode of compliance of the law through on-screen voters’ verification system.

The Chief Justice, however, chastised the Comelec for ignoring the “non-extendible” period given to them. Sereno made true her public promise months before that the court will give priority to election-related petitions and cases that would be elevated to them. Given the time element and urgency of resolving these cases before election day, Comelec should have taken the cue.

With Comelec still hurting over the double whammy of SC rulings, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, said the poll body has no one to blame but themselves. “They lost by default,” Pimentel said, citing the poll body failed to submit on time their comment on the Gordon petition.

Speaking in our weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay last Wednesday, Pimentel disclosed the PDP-Laban filed a separate petition to the SC on the same case but it was not considered along with Gordon’s petition. In the PDP-Laban petition, he cited, they proposed a combination of printout and screen voters’ verification of their ballots.

Pimentel, along with common senatorial bet Susan “Toots” Ople and PDP-Laban official spokesperson Atty. Paola Alvarez were guests at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Cafe Adriatico in Malate, Manila. It was a timely discussion of election issues a day after the SC handed down two major decisions that heavily impact the May 9 presidential polls. In another ruling, the SC voted 9-6 to overturn the Comelec disqualification ruling against presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe.

The majority ruling that included Sereno allowed Poe to run and stay in the presidential race as they set aside citizenship and residency questions raised against her candidacy. The SC ruling came at a time the nation observes with the rest of the world the International Women’s Week.

Ople and Alvarez, speaking for Filipina womenhood, hailed the SC ruling as not just a victory for women but also for gender equality that has been glossed over conveniently.

Ople thanked the SC, headed by our country’s first woman Chief Justice, for seeing beyond politics to uphold the rights of foundlings and the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in their rights to be voted upon.

Alvarez, for her part, noted the SC ruling strengthened the Philippine democratic process. However, as a lawyer, Alvarez reserves her comment until she reads the entire SC ruling on the case which is a precedent-setting jurisprudence.

A bar topnotcher before he turned to politics, Pimentel also shared the same sentiments of Alvarez on the SC ruling in favor of Poe. As far as PDP-Laban is concerned, Pimentel who is the party’s chieftain, maintained the SC ruling on Poe was of no concern for them. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the presidential standard-bearer of their party, has been doing well in pre-polls surveys, that’s why.

As chairman also of the congressional oversight committee on automated elections, Pimentel admitted their concern on the impact of the SC ruling on the VVPAT at this stage of ongoing pre-polls preparations of the Comelec.

Pimentel recalled the Comelec led by Bautista presented last month before the congressional oversight committee the vote counting machines. Among other things, the Comelec demonstrated the proposed VVPAT alternative using 30-second on-screen check that would allow voters to see their filled ballots before these go into the machines.

However, Pimentel rued, when the Comelec issued the guidelines, this was reduced to 15 seconds only. Certainly, he noted, this is too short a time for the voters to read and check their ballots. If time is the concern, Pimentel asked the Comelec to revert to the original voting period from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. which the poll body earlier changed and reduced from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pimentel disclosed the oversight committee set another public hearing on March 23 to update them on Comelec preparations for the coming national and local polls. With clock ticking 59 days to go from today before election day, this would definitely be an opportunity for Comelec to prevent a No-El to become a self-fulfilling prophecy by doomsayers.


No dirty tricks, please FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 12, 2016 - 12:00am 2 186 googleplus0 4


Carmen Pedrosa - I was surprised to read in FB that “I have switched my support from Jejomar Binay to Rodrigo Duterte.” Please naman. No dirty tricks.

I have never supported Jejomar Binay. So there has been no switch. I have been for Rodrigo Duterte from the day the Davao city mayor launched his candidacy.

Duterte has many qualities that we are looking for in a new leader. But the most important ‘quality’ (if that can be called a quality) as far as I am concerned is his stand on constitutional reform. This should be the main concern of Filipino voters in May (if we do have an election that will be fair and free). I wrote in January 23, 2016 on that – Federalism and Duterte.

I will excerpt some portions of that article so it is clear what I stand for:

“There are many reasons but to me, the most important is his program for constitutional change to restructure politics and government in the country. It is a tall order but whoever undertakes it, and succeeds would have the gratitude of the Filipino nation…

“He will put the country together for what I consider to be a compromise solution and fight for federalism to bring peace in Mindanao.

“Kinausap ako to carry the torch of federalism,” Duterte said. “I will build a nationwide consensus for federalism.”

READ MORE...

The longer we delay in finding solutions to the Mindanao conflict, the graver the dangers we will face with news there is now an ISIS caliphate (the group of extremists behind the gruesome murders in the Iraq-Syria war).

The objection to constitutional reform is the real stumbling block to a peace agreement. The solution is to establish one or more federal states for the Muslims.

The federalist principle empowers smaller units of community so governance is more efficient. More citizens are able to participate in governance.

We need a way through which citizens can participate in government or at least come as close as possible to government. Obviously in the Philippines, with more than 100 million people to govern in a unitary system, ‘democracy’ is a very real problem. Democracy to us means ‘representative democracy’ with others governing us. The larger the unit, the less people are able to participate or be involved in governance.

To be democratic, we must reduce the size of government into manageable units. That is what makes federalism so attractive to many countries today.

* * *

A word on still imprisoned former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This comes from GetReal website. I am glad that her rehabilitation has begun.

This comes from Financial Times editor David Pilling who said that the Philippine economy grew on the back of Arroyo’s legacy.

“Where are we now? No one knows.

We don’t know whether we are coming or going or how far we are in our journey to whatever was promised to the Filipinos during President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s campaign.

All we know for sure is that four years have passed (CNP: indeed in three months it will end) since we elected ourselves a new president. Beyond that there is no way of knowing how much has been achieved (a) relative to an initial baseline and (b) relative to an aspired-for target.

“In other words, President Aquino: Where is the plan?

“How can you presume to lead if there is no goal to lead us to? How can you presume to report to us if there is no baseline to report against?

How can you presume to take accountability when there are no specific initiatives defined as included in your reform agenda?

“Without a plan:

(1) one cannot motivate;

(2) one cannot measure progress; and,

(3) one cannot take credit.

“Perhaps, Mr President, not doing any of the above is your plan for your 2010-2016 government.

“Seems the day of reckoning is arriving for the Second Aquino Presidency. The issue of whether or not the trumpeted economic gains we have been seeing supposedly under the ‘watch’ of President Aquino are his to take credit for remains debatable. It seems that when Aquino crowed that all these were achieved under his ‘watch,’ he was really taking himself quite literally – he literally just sat back and watched while the groundwork laid by his predecessor former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivering results.”

David Pilling, Asia editor of the Financial Times in his blog post Philippines: assessing the ‘key man’ risk raises the question of what happens after Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

Pilling makes two assertions that bring to question Aquino’s place in history:

“(1) Much of what the government of President Aquino had achieved over the last four years is primarily attributable to Arroyo’s legacy… In truth, some of the macro-economic improvements have been the fruit of policy changes outside his administration, particularly at the central bank. Although his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was deeply unpopular and accused of overseeing a corrupt administration, much of the improvement in economic fundamentals can be dated to her government.

“(2) Circumstance, perhaps more than policy, has driven economic growth…Very healthy levels of remittances from abroad and strong domestic demand mean the economy is shielded more than most from external shocks. The country, where half the population is 24 or under, is entering the sort of ‘demographic sweet spot’ that saw other Asian nations prosper.

“While such pieces of insight are nothing new to people who apply a critical mind to evaluate facts rather than simply drink the political Kool Aid, it is only now that we are seeing more and more of the idea that Arroyo may, in fact, have made unpopular decisions that are now bearing fruit going mainstream.

“Indeed, Arroyo herself, in her treatise on the subject of her contribution to nation building as President from 2001 through to 2010, has exhibited the grace to acknowledge the contributions of her own peers in history to put her achievements in proper perspective…”

“No amount of black propaganda can erase the tangible improvements enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of families liberated from want during my decade at the helm of the nation. But these accomplishments have simply been part of the continuum of history. The gains I achieved were built on the efforts of previous leaders. Each successive government must build on the successes and progress of the previous ones: advance the programs that work, leave behind those that don’t.”

In claiming credit for what is not his, President Aquino is distorting history. It shows his dishonesty.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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