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

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

EDITORIAL: HACKERS AND OTHER THREATS
[We can take some comfort, however, in the observation made by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman that while the Comelec website is vulnerable, it will not be easy to attack 90,000 voting machines to manipulate the election results. What is worrying, he said, is “internal tampering or inside job” on the Comelec website after election day, where election results will be posted.]


With just a few weeks before the May 9 elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website was hacked last week by a group affiliated with Anonymous Philippines. It got into Comelec’s database, warned that it would be closely monitoring how it will administer the elections, and asked it to implement the security features of its counting machines. “Commission on Elections, we are watching,” the hackers warned. “Expect us.” This is the second time the website was hacked by this group. Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said Anonymous hacked the Comelec website last year to demand the activation of all security features of the voting machines. image: Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said there is no sensitive information in the website that was hacked last week. For the elections itself, he said, Comelec will have a different website. “It will have its own set of security features which are different and of a higher quality than the one we are using now,” he said. Securing a website is easier said than done. As early as 2012, Anonymous Philippines hacked several government websites to protest against the Anti-Cybercrime Law. After the Mamasapano encounter in 2015, it attacked government websites to express its sympathies with the families of the 44 police commandoes who died in the incident and criticized President Aquino’s absence at the Villamor Air Base arrival ceremony for the victims’ bodies. Even the United States, which is well ahead of most nations in cyberspace, suffered a massive data breach when its Office of Personnel Management, basically the human resources department of the entire federal government, was hacked in 2014-2015, exposing detailed information about 21 million government employees. READ MORE...

ALSO: An appeal for an end to election violence


GOOGLE.COM SEARCH PHOTO Election violence has long been a problem in our country. In the 2013 local elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported 35 killed in a 112-day period before the voting in May. In the election before that – in 2010 — the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP recorded 130 incidents, including the killing of four candidates for mayor, board member, and councilor, along with 31 civilians. With this perennial danger very much in mind, the Comelec and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) signed last Monday an agreement to monitor election-related violence, including human rights violations, in connection with the coming May 9 elections. Concern has been expressed over the situation in Abra province where, it is feared, violence might explode at any time, considering events dating back to 2006. In that year, reelectionist Mayor Marc Ysrael Bernos of La Paz was gunned down by unidentified killers. His younger brother Joseph went on to win in his place and was reelected twice, while his widow Joy Valera Bernos ran for Congress and also won two reelections. Another political family, the Bersamins, has also been a victim of violence. Rep. Luis Bersamin was recently killed after attending a relative’s wedding in Mount Carmel Church in Quezon City. A cousin, Board Member James Bersamin, was gunned down while jogging in front of the Bangued Cathedral. READ MORE...

ALSO: Fears of poll violence
[Our own presidential election on May 9, less than two months from now, is now mired in charges and counter-charges of all kinds, but there has been no physical violence in our rallies so far, and we pray that there won’t be, for that may quickly degenerate into killings as in past Philippine elections.]


Filipinos are closely following developments in the United States elections for many reasons. One is that the US today has a sizeable Filipino-American population and there is not one Filipino family today that does not have some relative now living or working in the US. We also look up to the American political system, with its free and open discussion of issues in such venues as presidential debates, town hall meetings, and big rallies and conventions, which we too have come to hold in our own election campaigns. It was dismaying to read about the ugly turn to violence in a rally in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday last week, when supporters and opponents of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump came to blows, forcing Trump to cancel the rally. The next day in Dayton, Ohio, Secret Service men surrounded Trump as a man tried to rush onstage. Police used pepper spray on anti-Trump supporters in Kansas City, Missouri. Rowdy violence marked other rallies and Trump accused followers of Democratic aspirant Bernie Sanders of infiltrating his rallies; he threatened to send his own militants to Sanders’ rallies. READ MORE...

ALSO: In choosing a candidate


“All politics is local.” — Speaker Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill Whether you are a million-peso-a-month commercial bank CEO, or a taipan, or a voting student, or a malnourished under-the-bridge dweller, why would you vote for Vice President Jejomar Binay, or Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, or Sen. Grace Poe, or Sec. Mar Roxas, or Sen. Miriam Santiago? Or, have you been bought and paid for by the barangay captain, or a loyal party member, or an acquaintance, or have been gainfully employed by the incumbent administration? For no cogent reason, why vote for a candidate just because he is an Ilocano, or Visayan, or from Mindanao, or Ilonggo, Ibanag, Waray, Bicolano, or Batangueno? In spite of mental reservations, one votes for a candidate because he is a blood relative, a frat brod, a class or batch mate, a province mate, or a neighbor, or a town mate, as Robert Jackson had written, “Men are often bribed by their loyalties and ambitious than money.”  In many cases, friendship and affinity become more significant than money, or whatever ulterior motives one may expect or conceal from the winning candidate. Having said all the above, and given this fact that all the candidates are promising everything under the sun, the voter would want to caution the candidate with what W. B. Yeats had written, “I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”  Thus, the Filipino voters, numbering in the millions, youthful and eager to vote, are confronted with five stereotype presidential candidates, and very promising youthful vice-presidential candidates that augur well for the future. Aside from Sen. Grace Poe, who is the least experienced among the candidates but has consistently topped the popularity poll surveys, the other four aspirants, namely, Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Mar Roxas, and Miriam Santiago are veteran public servants, tested administrators, and managerially capable. They have their strengths and they have their vulnerabilities. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Fred Lobo - Electioneering charges and the ‘Panama Papers’


Electioneering issue and charges surface as four Philippine National Police (PNP) bosses were allegedly spotted in a meeting with supporters of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas II. Elections nearing and so here come electioneering or “The Nearness of You” cases.  ***  The “Panama Papers” on overseas deposits of the rich and famous, reportedly including scions of the Marcoses, sparks probe worldwide and locally. Elections must be the cruelest season. Here come the “Panama Papers,” too. Whew! ***  PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor says the four officers – Director Generoso Cerbo Jr., chief of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence; and Chief Superintendents Renier Idio (Cagayan Valley); Bernardo Diaz (Western Visayas); and Ronald Santos (Calabarzon) – have until Friday to” explain” their reported presence in the meeting allegedly presided by a legislative staff of Roxas at Novotel in Cubao, Quezon City. Possible explanation: What’s new? We were invited to a “zombie” party or just sleepwalked. ***  Mayor says the PNP Headquarters will officially communicate with the concerned officers so they could answer the issues.  The envelopes, please… “Dear Chief” letters coming so the “Chief” could fairly answer. *** “Let them answer the issue individually. They are senior officers and responsible enough,” Mayor points out. But if they can not fully explain their presence in “the meeting,” then they may face charges of electioneering, he warns. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Hackers and other threats

MANILA, APRIL 11, 2016 (BULLETIN) April 6, 2016 - With just a few weeks before the May 9 elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) website was hacked last week by a group affiliated with Anonymous Philippines. It got into Comelec’s database, warned that it would be closely monitoring how it will administer the elections, and asked it to implement the security features of its counting machines. “Commission on Elections, we are watching,” the hackers warned. “Expect us.”

This is the second time the website was hacked by this group. Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said Anonymous hacked the Comelec website last year to demand the activation of all security features of the voting machines. image:

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said there is no sensitive information in the website that was hacked last week. For the elections itself, he said, Comelec will have a different website. “It will have its own set of security features which are different and of a higher quality than the one we are using now,” he said.

Securing a website is easier said than done. As early as 2012, Anonymous Philippines hacked several government websites to protest against the Anti-Cybercrime Law. After the Mamasapano encounter in 2015, it attacked government websites to express its sympathies with the families of the 44 police commandoes who died in the incident and criticized President Aquino’s absence at the Villamor Air Base arrival ceremony for the victims’ bodies.

Even the United States, which is well ahead of most nations in cyberspace, suffered a massive data breach when its Office of Personnel Management, basically the human resources department of the entire federal government, was hacked in 2014-2015, exposing detailed information about 21 million government employees.

READ MORE..

Only two weeks ago, state-run media in China lauded a Chinese national who had admitted hacking the websites of Boeing in an attempt to acquire plans for jet fighters and transport aircraft.

Cyber security is truly difficult to achieve and the Comelec may not be able to achieve what companies and government agencies in countries as advanced as the US have not quite succeeded in doing.

We can take some comfort, however, in the observation made by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman that while the Comelec website is vulnerable, it will not be easy to attack 90,000 voting machines to manipulate the election results.

What is worrying, he said, is “internal tampering or inside job” on the Comelec website after election day, where election results will be posted.

There perhaps lies a greater danger than outside hacking. Anonymous should be on the lookout for this possibility of an “inside job” and officials of the Comelec themselves should be warned.

They should consider all possibilities and take upon themselves the responsibility for ensuring that the results as recorded in our modern automated system are protected in this coming elections.


An appeal for an end to election violence April 8, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share1


GOOGLE.COM SEARCH PHOTO

Election violence has long been a problem in our country.

In the 2013 local elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported 35 killed in a 112-day period before the voting in May. In the election before that – in 2010 — the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP recorded 130 incidents, including the killing of four candidates for mayor, board member, and councilor, along with 31 civilians.

With this perennial danger very much in mind, the Comelec and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) signed last Monday an agreement to monitor election-related violence, including human rights violations, in connection with the coming May 9 elections.

Concern has been expressed over the situation in Abra province where, it is feared, violence might explode at any time, considering events dating back to 2006. In that year, reelectionist Mayor Marc Ysrael Bernos of La Paz was gunned down by unidentified killers. His younger brother Joseph went on to win in his place and was reelected twice, while his widow Joy Valera Bernos ran for Congress and also won two reelections.

Another political family, the Bersamins, has also been a victim of violence. Rep. Luis Bersamin was recently killed after attending a relative’s wedding in Mount Carmel Church in Quezon City. A cousin, Board Member James Bersamin, was gunned down while jogging in front of the Bangued Cathedral.

READ MORE...

While it is not definitely known if these killings are related and if they have anything to do with politics, they are very much in the minds of the people of Abra. The Bernos patriarch, former Governor Andres Bernos, has now issued an appeal to all candidates to put an end to what seems to have become a culture of violence in the province. He has reason to be concerned — his son and daughter-in-law are candidates for congressman and governor, respectively. “Ours is a democratic government,” he said, “We decide who will be our leaders through elections, not by killing each other.”

The PNP has already put six provinces in its initial election hotspot list – Masbate, Pangasinan, Negros Oriental, Samar, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur — and is now closely monitoring Abra. The Comelec-CHR agreement will help, but a great deal depends on political leaders throughout the nation. This early, special efforts must be made to get the leaders of these and other potential hotpots in the country to get together and draw up agreements and observe them for the peaceful conduct of elections this May,


Fears of poll violence March 18, 2016 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share15

Filipinos are closely following developments in the United States elections for many reasons. One is that the US today has a sizeable Filipino-American population and there is not one Filipino family today that does not have some relative now living or working in the US. We also look up to the American political system, with its free and open discussion of issues in such venues as presidential debates, town hall meetings, and big rallies and conventions, which we too have come to hold in our own election campaigns.

It was dismaying to read about the ugly turn to violence in a rally in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday last week, when supporters and opponents of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump came to blows, forcing Trump to cancel the rally. The next day in Dayton, Ohio, Secret Service men surrounded Trump as a man tried to rush onstage. Police used pepper spray on anti-Trump supporters in Kansas City, Missouri. Rowdy violence marked other rallies and Trump accused followers of Democratic aspirant Bernie Sanders of infiltrating his rallies; he threatened to send his own militants to Sanders’ rallies.

READ MORE...

Trump has been noted to be using strong language not normally used in political allies; at one time, he called a leading rival for the Republican nomination a “liar.” In the wake of the violence in the rallies, President Barack Obama found it necessary to call on all the candidates to “reject insulting language and violence against other Americans.”

Last Tuesday, Americans voted in primaries in five big states – Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. Trump consolidated his lead in the Republican Party with victories in four of the states, while Hillary Clinton won in all five states to remain the frontrunner among the Democrats. In response to reports that Republican party leaders are moving to deny him the nomination if he fails to get the needed 1,237 votes by convention time, Trump warned there may be riots.

As we follow the election campaigns in the US, we hope fears of violence in rallies will not materialize and the US election on November 8 will produce a worthy successor to President Obama.

Our own own presidential election on May 9, less than two months from now, is now mired in charges and counter-charges of all kinds, but there has been no physical violence in our rallies so far, and we pray that there won’t be, for that may quickly degenerate into killings as in past Philippine elections.


In choosing a candidate by Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva April 7, 2016 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share7

“All politics is local.” — Speaker Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill

Whether you are a million-peso-a-month commercial bank CEO, or a taipan, or a voting student, or a malnourished under-the-bridge dweller, why would you vote for Vice President Jejomar Binay, or Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, or Sen. Grace Poe, or Sec. Mar Roxas, or Sen. Miriam Santiago?

Or, have you been bought and paid for by the barangay captain, or a loyal party member, or an acquaintance, or have been gainfully employed by the incumbent administration?

For no cogent reason, why vote for a candidate just because he is an Ilocano, or Visayan, or from Mindanao, or Ilonggo, Ibanag, Waray, Bicolano, or Batangueno?

In spite of mental reservations, one votes for a candidate because he is a blood relative, a frat brod, a class or batch mate, a province mate, or a neighbor, or a town mate, as Robert Jackson had written, “Men are often bribed by their loyalties and ambitious than money.”

In many cases, friendship and affinity become more significant than money, or whatever ulterior motives one may expect or conceal from the winning candidate.

Having said all the above, and given this fact that all the candidates are promising everything under the sun, the voter would want to caution the candidate with what W. B. Yeats had written, “I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

Thus, the Filipino voters, numbering in the millions, youthful and eager to vote, are confronted with five stereotype presidential candidates, and very promising youthful vice-presidential candidates that augur well for the future.

Aside from Sen. Grace Poe, who is the least experienced among the candidates but has consistently topped the popularity poll surveys, the other four aspirants, namely, Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Mar Roxas, and Miriam Santiago are veteran public servants, tested administrators, and managerially capable.

They have their strengths and they have their vulnerabilities.

READ MORE...

For example, while Vice President Binay is the most experienced and capable manager who promised decisive leadership and vowed to transform the Philippines into another Makati, his candidacy has been hobbled by relentless demolition jobs and allegations of past corruption.

Secondly, Sen. Grace Poe, who is an American citizen turned Filipino citizen with husband and children remaining US citizens, despite her other virtues will inevitably and inexorably fall prey to American pressure, tutelage, and influence as the United States presence grows with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and the South China Sea becomes an international issue.

Thirdly, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has the simplest short-term objectives and the least excess baggage to carry. It is doubtful and unrealistic that he can eradicate criminality and drug trafficking in six months but the simple advocacy is mind boggling, mesmerizing, and captivating, and deserving of the presidency.

As for Sec. Mar Roxas, like P-noy, he lives in a fantasy world where to be a good president, he needs to be his own man, and not be a clone or replica of President Benigno Simeon Aquino.

We live in interesting times.

You be the judge.


Electioneering charges and the ‘Panama Papers’ by Fred M. Lobo April 7, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share4


By Fred Lobo

Electioneering issue and charges surface as four Philippine National Police (PNP) bosses were allegedly spotted in a meeting with supporters of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas II.

Elections nearing and so here come electioneering or “The Nearness of You” cases.

***

The “Panama Papers” on overseas deposits of the rich and famous, reportedly including scions of the Marcoses, sparks probe worldwide and locally.

Elections must be the cruelest season. Here come the “Panama Papers,” too. Whew!

***

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor says the four officers – Director Generoso Cerbo Jr., chief of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence; and Chief Superintendents Renier Idio (Cagayan Valley); Bernardo Diaz (Western Visayas); and Ronald Santos (Calabarzon) – have until Friday to” explain” their reported presence in the meeting allegedly presided by a legislative staff of Roxas at Novotel in Cubao, Quezon City.

Possible explanation: What’s new? We were invited to a “zombie” party or just sleepwalked.

***

Mayor says the PNP Headquarters will officially communicate with the concerned officers so they could answer the issues.

The envelopes, please… “Dear Chief” letters coming so the “Chief” could fairly answer.

***

“Let them answer the issue individually. They are senior officers and responsible enough,” Mayor points out.

But if they can not fully explain their presence in “the meeting,” then they may face charges of electioneering, he warns.

READ MORE...

***

Presidential contender Sen. Grace Poe reminds officials of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to remain apolitical and refrain from engaging in partisan politics, after active military and police officers reportedly met with Roxas’ campaigners.

“My appeal to the PNP and the military: Be neutral especially during the day of the elections and during the campaign period,” says Poe.

***

However, parties involved initially claim that they met to discuss measures to ensure that the conduct of the May 9, 2016, elections would be orderly and peaceful.

“Well, I do hope so that that what they discussed is for everyone’s benefit… only to ensure that the exercise would be fair, clean and safe,” Poe says.

***

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party describes as “all hot air” the claim of Cebu gubernatorial bet Winston Garcia that he will deliver one million votes to presidential bet Davao Mayor Rody Duterte and cripple other contenders.

Roxas will get at least 60 percent of the province’s 2.7 million votes, says Rep. Edgar Erice, LP spokesman.

***

Erice points out that Rep. Gwen Garcia would remain loyal to Vice President Jejomar Binay together with Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama. Others will have their choice, but Roxas will have the support of the still popular Davides and other Cebuano leaders allied with the Aquino administration.

Translation: Not just One Cebu but three, four, five Cebus.

***

On the other hand, notwithstanding battling Stage 3 cancer, Elizabeth Zimmerman launches her own campaign to support the presidential bid of former husband Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Politics is strange. Estranged couple now helping each other.

***

For the first time, Zimmerman comes out in public to launch her own campaign dubbed “Byaheng DU30,” a month-long campaign on board a bus.

“My Duterte Bus will roll. I am doing this for the country’s future. We are doing this for change, real change,” Zimmerman says.

***

The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay calls “hogwash” the claim of Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala and other officials that there is low poverty incidence in North Cotabato where a bloody dispersal of “hungry” demonstrating farmers just rook place.

UNA spokesman Mon Ilagan says “Almost half of the population of North Cotabato is poor, the province registered a 48.9 percent poverty incidence rate in the first semester of 2015.”

***

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos prefers to keep silent on the leaked “Panama Papers” which reportedly included in its list of rich and powerful world personalities with offshore accounts her three sons, Ferdinand Richard Michael Manotoc, Fernando Martin “Borgy” Manotoc, and Matthew Joseph Manotoc.

Mom keeps mum on “secret” bank accounts of sons. Howdy?

***

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) investigation also reportedly reveals that Sen. JV Ejercito is among the more than 500 Filipinos included in the Panama list of celebrities and political figures who have offshore accounts or move their wealth to avoid taxes.

500+ rich Pinoys with offshore accounts. E tu JV? What would Papa Erap say?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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