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

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL: SOCE - A TOOL FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
[The requirement to submit the SOCE is not a frivolous one, but a useful tool for promoting good governance. Every effort must be made to compel honesty and accuracy in the statements.]


JUNE 10 -Beating the deadline the other day, four of the five candidates who ran for president and all the bets for vice president submitted their statements of campaign contributions and expenditures or SOCE to the Commission on Elections. Now comes the hard part, which is verifying the accuracy of the statements. There must be a serious verification effort, at least for all those who sought the nation’s two highest posts. With tens of thousands of candidates, the Comelec will be swamped if it tries to verify all SOCEs. But random verification can also be conducted in the congressional and local government races, particularly among the winners, who cannot assume their posts unless they submit the statements. The Comelec, which must attend to many other matters including election protests and preparations for the barangay elections later this year, can explore assistance from certain groups in the verification process. Citizens can do their part by providing pertinent information or submitting documents to determine the accuracy of the statements. Rival candidates can dispute the statements by submitting evidence of supposed inaccuracies. Unless the nation sees clearly that such statements may be verified, submission of the SOCE – a crucial element in regulating campaign finance – will be an exercise in futility. This guarantees that rules governing campaign finance, weak as they are, will continue to be flouted. The nation’s failure to bring transparency to campaign financing is a major cause of corruption and the brazen influence peddling that has prevented the development of a merit-based society. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - "Daang matuwid" bet fails SOCE requirement


JUNE 11 - THE FREEMAN EDITORIAL -By the time the Comelec deadline passed last Wednesday for the filing of statements of contributions and expenditures by all candidates who ran in the May 9 elections, only four of the five who ran for president managed to comply with the requirement. As for the six who ran for vice president, all of them managed to beat the deadline. Of the four who ran for president and complied with the Comelec requirement, Grace Poe turned out to have spent the most. Of the P511 million in contributions that she received, she spent P510 million, or almost all of the money. The second biggest spender was Jejomar Binay, who also spent almost every centavo of the P463 million in contributions that he received. The third biggest spender, and the only one who will not regret the spending, was Rodrigo Duterte, the eventual winner. The incoming president spent a total of P371 million out of the P375 million in contributions that he received. The one who spent the least was Miriam Santiago, who incidentally also placed last in the race. Santiago also spent virtually every centavo of the P74 million she received. The only one among the five who ran for president and failed to beat the Comelec deadline for the filing of certificates of contributions and expenditures was Mar Roxas, who ironically was the "daang matuwid" candidate. Given the way people understand "daang matuwid," Roxas should have set the example by being the first of the five to file his statement. But as it turned out, it was the sickly and ailing Santiago who beat everybody else in filing. And to think she has just come out of the hospital. Roxas, on the other hand, despite being the youngest of the male candidates and presumably in the pink of health, not to mention having all the help he can muster from being the anointed of the party in power, failed to come up with the requirement. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Epicenter of child slavery


JUNE 9 -With a new administration coming in, police have started taking children off the streets and enforcing curfew on minors all over the country including Metro Manila. Many of the children are sent into the streets by their parents to beg or sell items such as flower garlands. The police campaign is laudable but it must be sustained instead of being a mere flash in the pan to impress a new chief executive. A bigger problem, involving the heinous abuse of children, however, is perpetrated behind closed doors. The top official of the United Nations Children’s Fund in the Philippines has described the country as the “epicenter” of the global live-stream child sex abuse trade and the world’s top source of child pornography. UNICEF Philippines’ Lotta Sylwander said parents themselves were often the ones who peddled their children for live sex shows to pedophiles worldwide. The illicit trade is reportedly facilitated by Filipinos’ proficiency in English, the prevalence of Internet use and an existing network developed for Filipino migrant workers that allows the easy remittance of funds from around the world. Many of the children are forced to perform several times a day, for about an hour at a time, in front of a webcam, according to UNICEF, which also expressed concern about the prevalence of child sex abuse perpetrated by family members themselves. Of some 7,000 cybercrimes reported every month in the country, about half involved child sex abuse, UNICEF added. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Healthy oceans, healthy planet


JUNE 8 -The rainy season is upon us, and with it comes the flooding that brings up to the surface tons of garbage. In Manila Bay, every storm washes ashore truckloads of trash, with strong tides often bringing the solid waste all the way to Roxas Boulevard. The regular inundation of garbage is proof that Filipinos still have a long way to go in keeping Manila Bay clean. Today the Philippines joins the international community in observing World Oceans Day, with several communities planning coastal cleanups to mark the event. Some progress has been made in ridding Philippine seas of pollution, particularly in communities that are reaping the benefits of eco-tourism and clean fishing grounds. Sea pollution, however, remains a serious problem all over the country. “Healthy oceans, healthy planet” is this year’s theme for World Oceans Day. The United Nations is reminding the international community that oceans are the lungs of the planet, producing oxygen, feeding billions, providing sources of medicine and interconnecting the world. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Age of criminal liability


JUNE 11 -With president-elect Rodrigo Duterte promising a crackdown on criminality, among his legislative priorities is to lower the minimum age for criminal liability. The minimum is currently pegged above age 15, with those below 18 also spared from criminal liability unless “discernment” is established in committing an offense.
Duterte himself has not mentioned a specific age, but lawmakers are said to be eyeing a return to the previous minimum of 12 years. While any effort to save minors from the stigma of a criminal record is laudable, crime rings saw the advantage of the higher minimum age and recruited minors for illegal activities. The revised Juvenile Justice law, enacted in 2013, penalized the inducement of children to commit crimes. Still, children were recruited by adults as drug couriers, jueteng bet collectors, members of organized pickpocketing rings, and runners for fences of snatched mobile phones and other items. Many thieves of vehicle parts are minors. Because of such activities, lowering the minimum age of criminal liability is likely to enjoy public support. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL - A tool for good governance 3

MANILA, JUNE 13, 2016 (PHILSTAR) June 10, 2016 - 12:00am - Beating the deadline the other day, four of the five candidates who ran for president and all the bets for vice president submitted their statements of campaign contributions and expenditures or SOCE to the Commission on Elections. Now comes the hard part, which is verifying the accuracy of the statements.

There must be a serious verification effort, at least for all those who sought the nation’s two highest posts. With tens of thousands of candidates, the Comelec will be swamped if it tries to verify all SOCEs.

But random verification can also be conducted in the congressional and local government races, particularly among the winners, who cannot assume their posts unless they submit the statements.

The Comelec, which must attend to many other matters including election protests and preparations for the barangay elections later this year, can explore assistance from certain groups in the verification process. Citizens can do their part by providing pertinent information or submitting documents to determine the accuracy of the statements. Rival candidates can dispute the statements by submitting evidence of supposed inaccuracies.

Unless the nation sees clearly that such statements may be verified, submission of the SOCE – a crucial element in regulating campaign finance – will be an exercise in futility. This guarantees that rules governing campaign finance, weak as they are, will continue to be flouted.

The nation’s failure to bring transparency to campaign financing is a major cause of corruption and the brazen influence peddling that has prevented the development of a merit-based society.

READ MORE...

The public deserves to know the individuals, groups or special interests that bankroll election campaigns, whether in national or local races, and how much the contributions are. This makes it easier to track the distribution of the spoils of victory and keep an eye on possible anomalous deals and unworthy appointments in government service. Putting a cap on campaign spending also aims to give candidates who are qualified but lack the financial resources and party machinery a fighting chance.

The requirement to submit the SOCE is not a frivolous one, but a useful tool for promoting good governance. Every effort must be made to compel honesty and accuracy in the statements.


THE FREEMAN EDITORIAL - "Daang matuwid" bet fails SOCE requirement (The Freeman) | Updated June 11, 2016 - 12:00am 1 1 googleplus0 0

By the time the Comelec deadline passed last Wednesday for the filing of statements of contributions and expenditures by all candidates who ran in the May 9 elections, only four of the five who ran for president managed to comply with the requirement. As for the six who ran for vice president, all of them managed to beat the deadline.

Of the four who ran for president and complied with the Comelec requirement, Grace Poe turned out to have spent the most. Of the P511 million in contributions that she received, she spent P510 million, or almost all of the money. The second biggest spender was Jejomar Binay, who also spent almost every centavo of the P463 million in contributions that he received.

The third biggest spender, and the only one who will not regret the spending, was Rodrigo Duterte, the eventual winner. The incoming president spent a total of P371 million out of the P375 million in contributions that he received. The one who spent the least was Miriam Santiago, who incidentally also placed last in the race. Santiago also spent virtually every centavo of the P74 million she received.

The only one among the five who ran for president and failed to beat the Comelec deadline for the filing of certificates of contributions and expenditures was Mar Roxas, who ironically was the "daang matuwid" candidate. Given the way people understand "daang matuwid," Roxas should have set the example by being the first of the five to file his statement.

But as it turned out, it was the sickly and ailing Santiago who beat everybody else in filing. And to think she has just come out of the hospital. Roxas, on the other hand, despite being the youngest of the male candidates and presumably in the pink of health, not to mention having all the help he can muster from being the anointed of the party in power, failed to come up with the requirement.

READ MORE...

Now the contributions and expenditures requirement is not a new imposition. It is not something that caught all candidates by surprise. If you have been a politician for sometime, you are supposed to be very familiar with the requirement. Besides, the Comelec has given everyone ample time – one month after the election – to prepare their statements.

In other words, there is simply no reason for anyone to fail making it before the deadline. And if the others can do it, there is similarly no reason why Roxas cannot. The assertion by the camp of Roxas that a pile of contribution receipts needs to be gone through for the sake of transparency does not hold water in light of the fact that Roxas was not the only one who received donations. All the rest did, in the hundreds of millions. But they still managed to file. How come Roxas didn't?


EDITORIAL - Epicenter of child slavery Share (The Philippine Star) - June 9, 2016 - 12:00am

With a new administration coming in, police have started taking children off the streets and enforcing curfew on minors all over the country including Metro Manila. Many of the children are sent into the streets by their parents to beg or sell items such as flower garlands. The police campaign is laudable but it must be sustained instead of being a mere flash in the pan to impress a new chief executive.

A bigger problem, involving the heinous abuse of children, however, is perpetrated behind closed doors. The top official of the United Nations Children’s Fund in the Philippines has described the country as the “epicenter” of the global live-stream child sex abuse trade and the world’s top source of child pornography. UNICEF Philippines’ Lotta Sylwander said parents themselves were often the ones who peddled their children for live sex shows to pedophiles worldwide.

The illicit trade is reportedly facilitated by Filipinos’ proficiency in English, the prevalence of Internet use and an existing network developed for Filipino migrant workers that allows the easy remittance of funds from around the world.

Many of the children are forced to perform several times a day, for about an hour at a time, in front of a webcam, according to UNICEF, which also expressed concern about the prevalence of child sex abuse perpetrated by family members themselves. Of some 7,000 cybercrimes reported every month in the country, about half involved child sex abuse, UNICEF added.

READ MORE...

The country has tough laws against domestic violence and sexual abuse of children. As with many other laws, however, implementation leaves much to be desired, and enforcement is weakest when the victims are from poor households.

The cybercrime law continues to evolve, and there must be enough Filipino experts in information and communication technology to help law enforcers go after purveyors of online child porn. But authorities need more resources and strong political will to do their work.

“There are no limits to how cruel and gross this business is,” Sylwander said in an interview in which she described the abuse as tantamount to child slavery.Authorities must waste no time in stopping this evil industry.


EDITORIAL - Healthy oceans, healthy planet 0 Share (The Philippine Star) - June 8, 2016 - 12:00am

The rainy season is upon us, and with it comes the flooding that brings up to the surface tons of garbage. In Manila Bay, every storm washes ashore truckloads of trash, with strong tides often bringing the solid waste all the way to Roxas Boulevard. The regular inundation of garbage is proof that Filipinos still have a long way to go in keeping Manila Bay clean.

Today the Philippines joins the international community in observing World Oceans Day, with several communities planning coastal cleanups to mark the event. Some progress has been made in ridding Philippine seas of pollution, particularly in communities that are reaping the benefits of eco-tourism and clean fishing grounds. Sea pollution, however, remains a serious problem all over the country.

“Healthy oceans, healthy planet” is this year’s theme for World Oceans Day. The United Nations is reminding the international community that oceans are the lungs of the planet, producing oxygen, feeding billions, providing sources of medicine and interconnecting the world.

READ MORE...

The UN is particularly concerned about plastic waste dumped in the ocean, which choke fish and other marine life. Toxic industrial waste even from inland waterways also finds its way into oceans, destroying coral reefs and the marine life that they sustain.

While they help ease pollution, regular coastal cleanups alone will not do the trick. People need to change their attitude toward the ocean and its blessings for humanity. Several countries have shown what can be done to keep oceans clean and ensure the sustainability of marine resources. Those best practices can be replicated in other countries.

The UN officially recognized June 8 as World Oceans Day in 2008. Since then, awareness has been raised about the need to keep oceans healthy, but the challenges remain daunting. Today’s event should encourage more people to become “citizens of the oceans.”


EDITORIAL - Age of criminal liability (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 9 googleplus0 0

With president-elect Rodrigo Duterte promising a crackdown on criminality, among his legislative priorities is to lower the minimum age for criminal liability. The minimum is currently pegged above age 15, with those below 18 also spared from criminal liability unless “discernment” is established in committing an offense.

Duterte himself has not mentioned a specific age, but lawmakers are said to be eyeing a return to the previous minimum of 12 years. While any effort to save minors from the stigma of a criminal record is laudable, crime rings saw the advantage of the higher minimum age and recruited minors for illegal activities.

The revised Juvenile Justice law, enacted in 2013, penalized the inducement of children to commit crimes. Still, children were recruited by adults as drug couriers, jueteng bet collectors, members of organized pickpocketing rings, and runners for fences of snatched mobile phones and other items. Many thieves of vehicle parts are minors. Because of such activities, lowering the minimum age of criminal liability is likely to enjoy public support.

READ MORE...

The move, however, must not overlook the fact that these are minors who still have many years ahead and deserve a chance to enjoy fruitful and productive lives. Lowering the age of criminal liability must be accompanied by a boost in the state’s capability to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. The revised law, Republic Act 10630, provided for the establishment of halfway homes or Bahay Pag-Asa in every province and chartered city for juvenile offenders. How many are in operation and doing the job?

RA 10630 also created a Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee in every region to implement the law and craft effective intervention programs to rehabilitate young offenders. The incoming administration must review the progress of these regional committees.

The objective in the intervention programs is to make juvenile offenders, most of whom come from impoverished families, realize that poverty need not be synonymous with a life of crime. As the name of the Bahay Pag-Asa halfway homes indicate, young offenders must be given hope. They deserve a second chance; they must be able to dare to dream that life can be better.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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