PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org



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

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

EDITORIAL: BREAKING CONVENTION
[Peace is never easy; lasting peace, even less so. Even if an agreement is finally arrived at and a law finally passed, the pursuit of peace entails constant, inclusive consultations. This may just be another item for discussion—speculation—for most of us. For those who live in Mindanao, these decisions would define the way they live. The incoming administration must learn to listen more than its predecessor ever did.]


JUNE 21 -It is likely that President Benigno Aquino III, who only has nine days remaining in his term, considers the failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress as the biggest frustration of his six-year term. Getting the bill passed would have brought the promise of lasting peace in Mindanao and would have earned for Mr. Aquino the distinction of being the president finally able to end the decades-old conflict in the South. Alas, deliberations on the BBL were hampered by the perception that the government only spoke with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and not the other stakeholders in Mindanao—other Moro groups, indigenous peoples, Christians and others. And then came January 2015, when 44 police commandos pursuing terrorists died in the hands of MILF members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. This dealt a final blow to the bill because it raised the issue of the MILF’s sincerity in talking peace with the government. But now there is talk that the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front will hold a Moro Convention that they hope would end the protracted conflict in Mindanao. All fronts will be represented in the meetings, and attendees will be there in view of the Bangsamoro in general. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Wrong on so many counts
[This disregard for the law was perhaps epitomized by Roxas himself, who failed to file his SOCE, citing “voluminous number of receipts that have to be scanned and attached to the document.”]


JUNE 21 -THE resignation by Elections Commissioner Christian Robert Lim as head of the Commission on Elections Campaign Finance Office speaks volumes about the divisions within the poll body over its 4-3 decision to extend the deadline for candidates to file their statements of contributions and expenditures. Lim, who was in the minority, had voted to reject the extension sought by the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party and others who failed to meet the original June 8 deadline. He and two others—including Chairman Andres Bautista—were outvoted in a move widely seen as an accommodation to the LP, which has had a six-year record of implementing the law only when it suits its purposes. The reasons for Lim’s opposition to the extension were clear and well argued. “The policy shift is not acceptable,” Lim said. “To grant the request for extension would not only be unfair to other candidates and parties who complied within the prescribed period but also would be a reversal of the Commission’s own resolution on the matter. Republic Act 7166, he added, very clearly states the following: “Every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election. “No person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required. “The same prohibition shall apply if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file the statement required herein within the period prescribed by this act.” Moreover, the Comelec itself had earlier warned all candidates and parties that the June 8 deadline was “final and non-extendible.” Tellingly, the LP’s Manuel Roxas II was the only presidential candidate who failed to file his SOCE on time; the LP itself was similarly delinquent. READ MORE...

ALSO: by Tony La Viña - Gina Lopez and other appointments
[Lopez will assure us that the government will always be on the side of planet and people; she will require the highest standards of performance from her own colleagues in government and from the private sector. If such standards were followed, then indeed only mining consistent with sustainable development will be operating in the Philippines. Change is coming. These individuals definitely will bring positive change. Let’s welcome that.]


INCOMING DENR CHIEF GINA LOPEZ -
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is on a roll. Even before assuming office as the 16th President of the Philippines, his administration is off to a good and fast start. Verbal pyrotechnics and media controversies aside, the initial decisions have been encouraging. In particular, with a few exceptions, I find the Duterte cabinet to be by and large solid— impressive, in fact. There are individuals in the Duterte cabinet that stand out right away —among others, Sonny Dominguez, Ernie Pernia, Ben Diokno, Jun Evasco, Bebot Bello, Jess Dureza, Salvador Medialdea, Art Tugade, Rodolfo Salalima and Liling Briones—for their experience and seniority. Their professional records in and out of government assures us that at the helm of the most critical departments are people of the highest caliber. Finance secretary-designate Dominguez does not just know money. He also understands rural and sustainable development, having performed excellently in the Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources during the time of Cory Aquino. His stewardship of the La Fayette mining company in Rapu-rapu, Albay also saw the reversal of the bad environmental and social development record of that company. Forming the core of Duterte’s economic team are two world-class economists from the University of the Philippines —Diokno and Pernia. Diokno’s understanding of the budget is unparalleled. Together with Pernia’s insight on poverty, it complements the vision of inclusive development articulated by Dominguez. I must add that Ramon Lopez, the new Trade and Industry Secretary, while younger than his peers in the economic team, brings with him the success of the innovative program Go Negosyo and could provide impetus for new thinking on the economic challenges (particularly poverty) we face. I can say the same of Jess Dureza and Bebot Bello, both of whom I worked with during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos. Dureza and Bello are seasoned consensus builders – people you would like to be with in a foxhole (literal and figurative) during conflict situations. They are trusted by the constituencies they are now responsible for. I must say that I am optimistic that we will finally be able to forge permanent peace with all the major revolutionary movements the country has to contend with. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - From one promise to the next
[We don’t want to be in this same sorry state six years from now.]


JUNE 23 -When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is sworn in as the new chief executive next Thursday, the country will not only gain a new leader. It will also lose the existing one. While there is much uncertainty as to what the next six years will bring, there is a measure of comfort that the six-year Aquino administration is drawing to an end. To be sure, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III began on high moral ground. Elected into office on a wave of sympathy for his just-deceased mother, Mr. Aquino presented himself as the savior of a miserable land. He would bring the light of transparency into the nation, he said, and eradicate corruption and poverty. He would correct the ill practices of the past, bring plunderers to justice and occasion a golden age of good governance and economic growth. What actually happened between mid-2010 and today is a poor approximation of the scenario he painted. The past six years instead saw arrogance and self-congratulation amid incompetence. When things went wrong, the administration blamed its predecessor or some other party. When things went well, it took shameless credit for milestones including those not entirely of its own doing. The emphasis on superficial claims—achieving nominal GDP growth, rushing a law said to bring “final peace” to Mindanao, or jailing officials involved in irregularities provided they are not administration allies—took its toll on the people who had expected much and now feel short-changed.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Breaking convention

MANILA, JUNE 27, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted June 21, 2016 at 12:01 am - It is likely that President Benigno Aquino III, who only has nine days remaining in his term, considers the failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress as the biggest frustration of his six-year term.

Getting the bill passed would have brought the promise of lasting peace in Mindanao and would have earned for Mr. Aquino the distinction of being the president finally able to end the decades-old conflict in the South.

Alas, deliberations on the BBL were hampered by the perception that the government only spoke with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and not the other stakeholders in Mindanao—other Moro groups, indigenous peoples, Christians and others.

And then came January 2015, when 44 police commandos pursuing terrorists died in the hands of MILF members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. This dealt a final blow to the bill because it raised the issue of the MILF’s sincerity in talking peace with the government.

But now there is talk that the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front will hold a Moro Convention that they hope would end the protracted conflict in Mindanao. All fronts will be represented in the meetings, and attendees will be there in view of the Bangsamoro in general.

READ MORE...

Specifically, the convention will produce a draft bill that would go well with the federal-parliamentary system envisioned by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.

The most encouraging phrase in all this must be “all fronts.” To be sure, taking into consideration the concerns of all stakeholders who would be affected by the proposed Bangsamoro entity will be complicated and difficult. But this is exactly how consensus is built.

Alongside talks of peace should be efforts to make economic gains felt by a wider group of Mindanao residents. Some of the poorest and underserved local government units are in Mindanao. Dissatisfaction with their leaders, poor education and lack of opportunities to improve their condition consign many to a life of discontent, resentment and insurgency.

Peace is never easy; lasting peace, even less so. Even if an agreement is finally arrived at and a law finally passed, the pursuit of peace entails constant, inclusive consultations.

This may just be another item for discussion—speculation—for most of us. For those who live in Mindanao, these decisions would define the way they live. The incoming administration must learn to listen more than its predecessor ever did.


Wrong on so many counts posted June 20, 2016 at 12:01 am

THE resignation by Elections Commissioner Christian Robert Lim as head of the Commission on Elections Campaign Finance Office speaks volumes about the divisions within the poll body over its 4-3 decision to extend the deadline for candidates to file their statements of contributions and expenditures.

Lim, who was in the minority, had voted to reject the extension sought by the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party and others who failed to meet the original June 8 deadline. He and two others—including Chairman Andres Bautista—were outvoted in a move widely seen as an accommodation to the LP, which has had a six-year record of implementing the law only when it suits its purposes.

The reasons for Lim’s opposition to the extension were clear and well argued.

“The policy shift is not acceptable,” Lim said. “To grant the request for extension would not only be unfair to other candidates and parties who complied within the prescribed period but also would be a reversal of the Commission’s own resolution on the matter.

Republic Act 7166, he added, very clearly states the following:

“Every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.

“No person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required.

“The same prohibition shall apply if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file the statement required herein within the period prescribed by this act.”

Moreover, the Comelec itself had earlier warned all candidates and parties that the June 8 deadline was “final and non-extendible.”

Tellingly, the LP’s Manuel Roxas II was the only presidential candidate who failed to file his SOCE on time; the LP itself was similarly delinquent.

READ MORE...

This failure means nothing to Roxas, who lost the election, but would have meant that the party’s winning vice presidential candidate, Leni Robredo, would be unable to take office because of her party’s failure to submit its SOCE by the June 8 deadline.

All that, however, is now moot, since four of the seven commissioners—Commissioners Rowena Guanzon, Arthur Lim, Al Pareño and Sheriff Abas—voted to grant the LP an extension up to June 30 to comply with the law.

The accommodation will affect not only the aftermath of this year’s electoral exercise, but the conduct of future elections as well, since candidates and political parties may take this decision as a sign that they, too, can disregard the law with no dire consequences.

This disregard for the law was perhaps epitomized by Roxas himself, who failed to file his SOCE, citing “voluminous number of receipts that have to be scanned and attached to the document.”

Shortly after asking for an extension, the erstwhile candidate could have buckled down to make sure his paperwork—already late—was submitted with no further delay. Instead, he embarked on a nationwide tour to thank those who helped him during the campaign, and documented his stops with a GoPro camera on Facebook and Twitter.

If only Roxas and his LP cronies took their SOCE obligations half as seriously.


Gina Lopez and other appointments posted June 25, 2016 at 12:01 am by Tony La Viña


INCOMING DENR CHIEF GINA LOPEZ

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is on a roll. Even before assuming office as the 16th President of the Philippines, his administration is off to a good and fast start. Verbal pyrotechnics and media controversies aside, the initial decisions have been encouraging. In particular, with a few exceptions, I find the Duterte cabinet to be by and large solid— impressive, in fact.

There are individuals in the Duterte cabinet that stand out right away —among others, Sonny Dominguez, Ernie Pernia, Ben Diokno, Jun Evasco, Bebot Bello, Jess Dureza, Salvador Medialdea, Art Tugade, Rodolfo Salalima and Liling Briones—for their experience and seniority. Their professional records in and out of government assures us that at the helm of the most critical departments are people of the highest caliber.

Finance secretary-designate Dominguez does not just know money. He also understands rural and sustainable development, having performed excellently in the Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources during the time of Cory Aquino. His stewardship of the La Fayette mining company in Rapu-rapu, Albay also saw the reversal of the bad environmental and social development record of that company.

Forming the core of Duterte’s economic team are two world-class economists from the University of the Philippines —Diokno and Pernia. Diokno’s understanding of the budget is unparalleled. Together with Pernia’s insight on poverty, it complements the vision of inclusive development articulated by Dominguez. I must add that Ramon Lopez, the new Trade and Industry Secretary, while younger than his peers in the economic team, brings with him the success of the innovative program Go Negosyo and could provide impetus for new thinking on the economic challenges (particularly poverty) we face.

I can say the same of Jess Dureza and Bebot Bello, both of whom I worked with during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos. Dureza and Bello are seasoned consensus builders – people you would like to be with in a foxhole (literal and figurative) during conflict situations. They are trusted by the constituencies they are now responsible for. I must say that I am optimistic that we will finally be able to forge permanent peace with all the major revolutionary movements the country has to contend with.

READ MORE...

The personal history of Jun Evasco is well-known. His leadership role in the Duterte campaign has also been recognized. He will be a strong advocate for the poor and for local governments in the new administration. The Cabinet, and more importantly, the country, is fortunate to have Evasco as Cabinet Secretary.

Salvador Medialdea is highly respected in legal circles. His family name of course is an admired brand in law, his father being a former Supreme Court Justice and long-time Court Administrator. Bingbong, as he is called, has been described a lawyer’s lawyer—as straight as an arrow on legal and integrity issues. This assures us that the rule of law will not be set aside in an administration that could be daring in many issues.

Finally, among the senior officials, Art Tugade and Rodolfo Salalima come to their positions in the Department of Transportation (for Tugade) and the newly formed Department of Information and Communications Technology (for Salalima) with stellar reputations in the private sector. They have challenging mandates but I am hopeful that finally, the government will deliver on the areas in which the Aquino administration failed so miserably.

The Duterte administration is not impressive only at the Cabinet level but also at the sub-Cabinet level. To cite one example, I am very happy that Martin Delgra, from Davao City, will be the new Chair of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. Chuck or Chuckbong, as we call him, is totally incorruptible, extraordinarily competent, and absolutely patriotic. He is pro-poor and an advocate of good governance. I should know because we have been friends for 35 years since we were batch mates as Jesuit Volunteers in 1981. Chuck served as a high school teacher in Kadingilan, Bukidnon and then took up law in Ateneo de Davao. He then became a human rights lawyer, basing himself in Basilan for a number of years, before returning to law practice in Davao City. The transportation sector and public is well-served to have someone like Delgra overseeing the public interest.

I am very happy of course that many Mindanawons are in the Duterte government. The Department of Agriculture, for example, will now led by Manny Piñol from North Cotabato. He brings to that position the experience of someone who has actually been a farmer and a governor of a province dependent on agriculture. I am also proud to claim that two of his undersecretaries are people with my surname. Evelyn Laviña will be undersecretary for high-value crops while Pompee La Viña will be undersecretary for agricultural enterprises. Evelyn, who happens to be the spouse of my cousin Peter, has extensive experience as a planter herself of high value crops, while Pompee, my brother, is a business entrepreneur with degrees from both Ateneo de Manila and the Asian Institute of Management.

I also welcome into the highest ranks of government those personalities coming from progressive organizations. I really admire President-elect Duterte for appointing Paeng Mariano, Judy Taguiwalo, and Joel Manglungsod in the Departments of Agrarian Reform, Social Welfare and Development, and Labor and Employment. With the chairmanship of the National Anti-Poverty Commission also going to another militant, this will be a historic moment for our country. I look forward to these colleagues to show that consistency in principles can be translated into results in the ground which they can politically defend from attackers. In the end, they will unify all stakeholders (not just their usual constituencies).

Finally, reserving the best for the last, I enthusiastically support the appointment of Gina Lopez for environment secretary. Among others, Lopez understands what is at stake in the many fights going on all over the country over coal-fired power plants. It is time for the country to transition to clean and renewable energy. That policy shift starts by making sure that the environment and health impacts of coal-fired power plants are properly internalized and accounted for in pricing electricity.

As a study the Ateneo School of Government produced last year has pointed out, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources can enable this shift by imposing a gold standard in approving coal-fired power plants. We should approve only those plants that can perform according to the highest global pollution standards and deny permits to those that can only comply with lower standards.

While I personally believe that responsible mining is doable, its principal enabling condition is strong environmental governance.

Lopez will assure us that the government will always be on the side of planet and people; she will require the highest standards of performance from her own colleagues in government and from the private sector. If such standards were followed, then indeed only mining consistent with sustainable development will be operating in the Philippines.

Change is coming. These individuals definitely will bring positive change. Let’s welcome that.


From one promise to the next posted June 23, 2016 at 12:01 am

When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is sworn in as the new chief executive next Thursday, the country will not only gain a new leader. It will also lose the existing one. While there is much uncertainty as to what the next six years will bring, there is a measure of comfort that the six-year Aquino administration is drawing to an end.

To be sure, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III began on high moral ground. Elected into office on a wave of sympathy for his just-deceased mother, Mr. Aquino presented himself as the savior of a miserable land. He would bring the light of transparency into the nation, he said, and eradicate corruption and poverty. He would correct the ill practices of the past, bring plunderers to justice and occasion a golden age of good governance and economic growth.

What actually happened between mid-2010 and today is a poor approximation of the scenario he painted. The past six years instead saw arrogance and self-congratulation amid incompetence. When things went wrong, the administration blamed its predecessor or some other party. When things went well, it took shameless credit for milestones including those not entirely of its own doing.

The emphasis on superficial claims—achieving nominal GDP growth, rushing a law said to bring “final peace” to Mindanao, or jailing officials involved in irregularities provided they are not administration allies—took its toll on the people who had expected much and now feel short-changed.

READ MORE...

Indeed, the decrepit state of public transportation, the crippling traffic situation in Metro Manila, the inability to attain food security and the failure to protect farmers, the gaping income inequality and the pervasive culture of impunity have become the defining characteristics of this administration that is thankfully coming to an end.

As we make the transition, it would be good to wisen up. We should refuse to be made to feel high with larger-than-life personalities who make sweeping promises of change. Look at the fine print and see if there is substance to back the pronouncements. Ask questions and do not allow the officials to determine what will and will not be discussed. Be alert for potential vested interests and develop an intolerance for doublespeak.

We don’t want to be in this same sorry state six years from now.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2015 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE