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FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

EDITORIAL: THE LAST STRAW
(Hurt feelings are simply a lame excuse to go.)


DECEMBER 6 - Leni Robredo is still vice president, but has resigned Sunday as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council which made her concurrently a member of the Cabinet. In a statement, Robredo said the Duterte administration was preventing her from doing her job as housing czar and was keeping her out of the loop. She cited the P19-billion slash in the budget for key shelter agencies and, more proximately, a text message sent her by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. telling her to not bother attending Cabinet meetings beginning this week. This was the last straw, Robredo said. For its part, the Palace acknowledged that the President and the Vice President did have “irreconcilable differences” that would make it impossible for the two of them to work together constructively over the long term. It is likely Ms. Robredo did not arrive at this decision to quit overnight. We imagine she may have weighed the  consequences of staying put versus resigning. It was clear she tried to get along with the President in the beginning—remember that oft-repeated, giggly encounter on the grounds of Camp Aguinaldo? Perhaps the signs were slow in coming and perhaps she did want to do a good job, too, no matter the odds. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Abaya’s turn


DECEMBER 8 -We have mixed reactions to the inclusion of former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and six other transport officials in the graft suit in connection with the purchase of P3.8 billion worth of license plates during his stay at the department. First, a sense of bewilderment. After all, it was lawyer Al Vitangcol, the former general manager of the Metro Rail Transit, who led the inclusion of Abaya’s name in the case which only previously included the names of the private suppliers. Strange however that Vitangcol should take an active role now—did not the Sandiganbayan recently issue a warrant of arrest against him for attempt to extort $30 million from representatives of a Czech manufacturer of rail cars so they could bag the deal for the MRT? READ MORE...

ALSO: By Emil Jurado - Sincerity put to test
(The Yellows want her to lead the opposition. But what leadership can she bring, being an opportunist? She was a member of the Cabinet, an alter ego of the president. Thus she must conform with the President’s wishes. She did not. What a bigot and a hypocrite! If the opposition must be led by someone, that should be somebody respected and admired. Robredo has failed her test.)


DECEMBER 8 -by Emil Jurado
President Rodrigo Duterte is said to have received intelligence reports that a group of well-financed Yellows, led by Loida Nicolas, a BS Aquino ally, is doing the rounds of United States cities—New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles—to join a movement to destabilize the Duterte administration. These people are also said to be soliciting the help of the Central Intelligence Agency for their destabilization efforts. This report then prompted Mr. Duterte to float the ideas of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which is perceived as just a step too close to the declaration of Martial Law. I think destabilization is impossible at this point considering the still-high trust and satisfaction ratings that Duterte enjoys. READ MORE...

ALSO: By An untenable situation
(There might be other underlying reasons why VP Robredo had to go. Perhaos these reasons are related to the last elections. There is this widespread belief that there was election manipulation in the last polls. I have it from a good source that President Duterte believes very strongly that there was indeed cheating).


DECEMBER 8 -by Florencio Fianza It was a union that was destined not to last. As it turned out, it was over in barely five months. Perhaps the President should never have appointed Vice President Leni Robredo to his Cabinet in the first place. The two are poles apart on almost all issues. With her departure from the Cabinet, the Liberal Party is now urging her to lead the opposition. I do not intend to belittle the leadership capabilities of Robredo, but it is difficult to see this happening. She is too inexperienced a politician to be able to stomach the kind of politics here in the country. Also, the political opposition is in such disarray that there really is hardly any opposition left. As in every administration, all or almost all the politicians are scrambling to join the administration which tells us the kind of politics that we have. READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL: The last straw

MANILA, DECEMBER 12, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted December 06, 2016 at 12:01 am - Leni Robredo is still vice president, but has resigned Sunday as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council which made her concurrently a member of the Cabinet.

In a statement, Robredo said the Duterte administration was preventing her from doing her job as housing czar and was keeping her out of the loop. She cited the P19-billion slash in the budget for key shelter agencies and, more proximately, a text message sent her by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. telling her to not bother attending Cabinet meetings beginning this week.

This was the last straw, Robredo said.

For its part, the Palace acknowledged that the President and the Vice President did have “irreconcilable differences” that would make it impossible for the two of them to work together constructively over the long term.
It is likely Ms. Robredo did not arrive at this decision to quit overnight. We imagine she may have weighed the consequences of staying put versus resigning. It was clear she tried to get along with the President in the beginning—remember that oft-repeated, giggly encounter on the grounds of Camp Aguinaldo? Perhaps the signs were slow in coming and perhaps she did want to do a good job, too, no matter the odds.

READ MORE...

We believe, however, that being slighted or eased out should have been less of an impetus. Events other than that text message—which could be argued as just hurt feelings—dissuading her from attending meetings should have been the last straw.

For instance, Robredo could have resigned when President Duterte made that comment about ogling her legs and knees during the commemoration of the third year anniversary of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.” It showed he did not respect her at all. Duterte may believe he can get away with most things but that should not have been one of them. He has made many comments offensive to women; for Robredo to do nothing about these, on her own behalf and on behalf of all women who are reduced to body parts, smacks of cowardice.

Another compelling reason came up just a few days later—the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the petitions opposing the plan. Two officials of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines quit precisely because of this. Robredo was vocal about her opposition, too —but again, did nothing. This would have been a definitive last straw.

We would have res-pected—admired—Robredo’s decision to quit over these issues. It would have shown she was aware of her non-negotiables and was willing to take a stand.

Hurt feelings are simply a lame excuse to go.


Abaya’s turn posted December 08, 2016 at 12:01 am



We have mixed reactions to the inclusion of former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and six other transport officials in the graft suit in connection with the purchase of P3.8 billion worth of license plates during his stay at the department.

First, a sense of bewilderment.

After all, it was lawyer Al Vitangcol, the former general manager of the Metro Rail Transit, who led the inclusion of Abaya’s name in the case which only previously included the names of the private suppliers. Strange however that Vitangcol should take an active role now—did not the Sandiganbayan recently issue a warrant of arrest against him for attempt to extort $30 million from representatives of a Czech manufacturer of rail cars so they could bag the deal for the MRT?

READ MORE...

Vitangcol is hardly the paragon of virtue or the personification of good governance.

In fact, Abaya was his boss at the Transport Department. We wonder what the extent of the animosity between the two is, such that Vitangcol would take steps to ensure his former superior—would not go scot-free. Perhaps he felt betrayed that he was made a sacrificial lamb of sorts in the Inekon case just so the higher-ups like Abaya and, ultimately, Benigno Aquino III, could evade accountability.

Second, relief. We do not remember Abaya fondly. In fact, the millions who continue to be plagued by the sorry state of traffic and public transportation wish there were some way to go after Abaya for all his indifference, incompetence, hypocrisy and arrogance while he was at his post. The transport system did not just stagnate during the regime of Daang Matuwid—it deteriorated. This can only be the result of criminal negligence, at the very least.

Finally, hope. We are aware that the wheels of justice turn ever so slowly in this country, and that even the filing of cases in courts does not guarantee that the guilty will be made to pay. Nonetheless, we have seen definitive changes in the past few months—some more drastic than we ever dared imagine, and not always for the better.

We have no other recourse but to hope that this time the evidence would be sufficient, the case airtight.


Sincerity put to test posted December 08, 2016 at 12:01 am by Emil Jurado


by Emil Jurado

President Rodrigo Duterte is said to have received intelligence reports that a group of well-financed Yellows, led by Loida Nicolas, a BS Aquino ally, is doing the rounds of United States cities—New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles—to join a movement to destabilize the Duterte administration.

These people are also said to be soliciting the help of the Central Intelligence Agency for their destabilization efforts. This report then prompted Mr. Duterte to float the ideas of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which is perceived as just a step too close to the declaration of Martial Law.

I think destabilization is impossible at this point considering the still-high trust and satisfaction ratings that Duterte enjoys.

READ MORE...

* * *

The National Democratic Front, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the New People’s Army are playing the same game they have always played with previous administrations. They lay down conditions as they sit at the negotiation table, supposedly to talk peace with the government.

Before the NDF sits down again, this time in Rome, it insists on the release of some 434 political prisoners.

To the credit of President Duterte, he has been adamant, sticking to the fact that if there is no bilateral ceasefire agreement, there will be no release of prisoners.

Santa Banana, the President has already bent over backwards in appointing to the Cabinet Judy Taguiwalo as secretary of Social Welfare and Development, Rafael Mariano as secretary of Agrarian Reform and Liza Maza as chairperson of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

My gulay, the President even released 16 NDF consultants despite their being in detention for numerous criminal offenses.

The sincerity of our government in achieving peace with the communist insurgents cannot be doubted. We have been willing and ready to release the sick and elderly among the communists detained. Four were given presidential pardons last week.

There is the problem, however, of those already sentenced and convicted by law. That would need judicial approval—and the judiciary is another branch of government altogether.

The communists’ sincerity, on the other hand, leaves room for doubt. They have failed on so many occasions. And now they are playing the same game.

* * *

The provincial sorties of Vice President Leni Robredo, in the guise of helping the poor, are truly pathetic. She is trying too hard to show to the people that despite her ouster from the Cabinet, she can continue to reach out to the marginalized.

The Yellows want her to lead the opposition. But what leadership can she bring, being an opportunist?

She was a member of the Cabinet, an alter ego of the president. Thus she must conform with the President’s wishes. She did not. What a bigot and a hypocrite!

If the opposition must be led by someone, that should be somebody respected and admired. Robredo has failed her test.

Robredo claims she was eased out of the Cabinet to keep the Liberal Party out of the plans of the Duterte administration. But she knows all too well that she became vice president because of cheating and now her conscience is bothering her.

Another of the Yellows clinging to her post is Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan. She was already told not to attend Cabinet meetings but she cannot seem to get the message that she no longer enjoys the President’s confidence. Licuanan knows her replacement is just waiting for her to step down. Is she waiting to be bodily carried out of the Ched building?

* * *

I am not favoring anybody as chairman of the board or as administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. But I believe Malacañang must decide, once and for all, on who should be chairman AND administrator. The confusion is not doing the freeport any good.

Martin Dino, for whom President Duterte substituted as PDP-Laban candidate for President, claims that SBMA chairman, he should also be the administrator. So when the Office of the Executive Secretary named former deputy administrator Randy Escolango as administrator, Dino claimed that just one person should occupy the two positions. This was provided for in the law, Republic Act 7227, which cannot be amended by a mere executive order.

What is important is that whomever gets appointed to the post, there should be peace and harmony for the good of all stakeholders. It is not good to have two appointees quarreling over turf. The President should have the final say.


An untenable situation posted December 08, 2016 at 12:01 am by Florencio Fianza


by Florencio Fianza

It was a union that was destined not to last. As it turned out, it was over in barely five months.

Perhaps the President should never have appointed Vice President Leni Robredo to his Cabinet in the first place. The two are poles apart on almost all issues. With her departure from the Cabinet, the Liberal Party is now urging her to lead the opposition.

I do not intend to belittle the leadership capabilities of Robredo, but it is difficult to see this happening. She is too inexperienced a politician to be able to stomach the kind of politics here in the country.

Also, the political opposition is in such disarray that there really is hardly any opposition left. As in every administration, all or almost all the politicians are scrambling to join the administration which tells us the kind of politics that we have.

READ MORE...

Maybe what those people urging Robredo to lead the opposition want is something else. Perhaps they just want her to become the symbol of a grassroots movement that they want to launch to oppose and even possibly topple President Duterte. If this is the case, it will of course be a different story altogether. We do not know the kind of support that such a plan can generate from the public without an effective and believable battle cry, it is hard to see it succeeding.

The two most obvious rallying issues would be the alleged extra-judicial killing related to the government’s drug war and the burial of the late, former President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

If this is the case, VP Robredo should be careful. She should think and think hard. There are people and entities who would like nothing better than to create such a scenario. Robredo should not allow herself to be used. She is such a decent person that it would be a tragedy if she does.

* * *

We have a system wherein the elected vice president, especially if that person belongs to another party, can criticize the President. We have seen this happen much too often. We have also seen this happen even if both belong to the same party. This was the case with Cory Aquino and Doy Laurel. It did not take long before both were at odds with each other.

During the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, she appointed Vice President Guingona and after a while, both were differing on important issues. It is all right to criticize a president, but once appointed to the Cabinet, perhaps propriety will dictate that if a vice president does not have anything good to say about government policies, then it is better simply to keep quiet. In the case of VP Robredo, she did in fact criticize government policies several times. But again keeping quiet might not be that much of a help.

Former VP Binay in fact practiced this until former President Aquino unleashed the power of the presidency that destroyed his chances to become President. The quintessential Vice President was Sergio Osmeña Sr. He was a loyal supporter of President Quezon to the end. Maybe we should follow the system that the United States has—if the presidential candidate wins, he or she carries the vice president to avoid untenable situations.

The practice of appointing the vice president to the Cabinet should stop. There are many things that a vice president can do. She or he can represent the head of state in many activities here and abroad. So what if that vice president uses the six years to campaign? After all, the president is not allowed to run for re-election.

* * *

There might be other underlying reasons why VP Robredo had to go. Perhaos these reasons are related to the last elections. There is this widespread belief that there was election manipulation in the last polls. I have it from a good source that President Duterte believes very strongly that there was indeed cheating.

President Duterte of course does not hide the fact that he believes Bongbong Marcos won the vice presidential race and said so to the press during his state visit to China. In the May elections, Marcos was leading by over a million votes and then this lead dwindled significantly overnight. Then he found himself losing to Robredo by a small margin.

Could there have been electronic manipulation? If so, how? We must remember that Smartmatic admitted to changing some codes at the very last minute or when counting was under way. The code is part of the command that tells the election system what to do. Quite possibly, Smartmatic changed part of the code so that votes for Marcos coming from many PCOS machines were rejected by the Comelec server.

This is the only explanation why all of a sudden, the lead of Marcos was erased overnight. What has to be done is to get someone to do forensic examination to determine how many votes for Marcos were rejected by the Comelec server. Can this be done? Yes, by someone who knows computers.

In this case, it is almost certain that Smartmatic was involved in the cheating. The only question is who ordered Smartmatic to change the codes. We must remember that Smartmatic was never able to satisfactorily explain why it changed the codes.


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