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EDITORIAL: ASEAN SUMMIT 2017


JANUARY 3 -THE Philippines will host the anniversary summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year. For this occasion, the Office of the President has allocated P15.5 billion to cover all the expenses of hosting the event. This summit is in fact that reason behind the 600-percent increase in the budget of the OP from that of 2016. This revelation, though, is not something that may shock the public. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno explained with reassurance that budgets for summit-related projects will be directly released to five implementing agencies, thus: Office of the President, P11.07 billion; Department of Tourism, P749.56 million; Presidential Communications Operations Office, P1.46 billion; Department of Trade and Industry, P177.68 million; and the Department of Interior and Local Government, P2 billion. As in previous observances of similar events, we realize that some of these allocations will go to infrastructure and other projects that will spruce up the physical venues and beautify the environment. Benefits from these activities will accrue to the public long after the summit is over. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Nestor Mata - New events and personalities in 2017


JANUARY 3 BY NESTOR MATA  -IT’S that time of a New Year when we look back and ponder the events that occurred and the personalities which caught us all by surprise. We are referring to the election of multi-millionaire Donald Trump, who had no experience at all in governing a nation, as the next President of the United States; the unprecedented election of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, as President of the Philippines; and Russian President Vladimir, the master political tactician. In the view of three political analysts in an article published by The Straits Times, real estate mogul Donald Trump, who takes his oath of office on January 20, has “rewritten a place of the United States in the world. It will mark the culmination of the most disruptive election in American history, and the 70-years-old’s path to the White House has been strewn with the bodies of conventional wisdom, political tradition and historical precedent.” Trump won, the article went on, while wreaking havoc on all established ideas about what it takes to win an election and making a host of controversial remarks that would have disqualified a more conventional candidate. READ MORE...

ALSO: Editorial - Wake-up call


JANUARY 7 -THE general state of disrepair, decrepitude and weakness of our jails and prisons was put to the fore with the advent of President Rodrigo Duterte’s highly controversial war on drugs. The National Bilibid Prison, the Quezon City jail, the Manila city jail and others have become poster icons of congestion, security lapses, inhuman conditions, disease, and official corruption. In fact, it is common knowledge that illegal drug trade flourished in the NBP during the successive administrations of Presidents Arroyo and Aquino. This sorry state of affairs in the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the local government units and the judicial system has been projected adequately to national attention but only elicited a passing notice from our officials. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Nestor Mata- An ‘economic revolution’


JANUARY 5 -By NESTOR MATA
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte, now on his seventh month in office this January 2017, is reportedly sending shockwaves throughout the country by revealing his “secret formula” that the average Filipino is using to make fast money from home. “We’re literally seeing an increase in self-employment,” Duterte was quoted by ABS/CBN News as saying that “never before in history do we have an opportunity that people can easily take advantage of to generate tremendous wealth in such a short time.” Duterte explained why this is going to happen, and that it will only last until his term ends. “A new economy has emerged that 99.9 percent of the world’s population is unaware of. Imagine buying google.com when the internet first began. That same opportunity is occurring right now and it’s 100 times more powerful. Literally anyone can begin taking advantage of this new economy.” READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL - ASEAN Summit 2017

MANILA, JANUARY 9, 2017 (MALAYA) January 04, 2017 THE Philippines will host the anniversary summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year.

For this occasion, the Office of the President has allocated P15.5 billion to cover all the expenses of hosting the event. This summit is in fact that reason behind the 600-percent increase in the budget of the OP from that of 2016.

This revelation, though, is not something that may shock the public. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno explained with reassurance that budgets for summit-related projects will be directly released to five implementing agencies, thus:

Office of the President, P11.07 billion; Department of Tourism, P749.56 million; Presidential Communications Operations Office, P1.46 billion; Department of Trade and Industry, P177.68 million; and the Department of Interior and Local Government, P2 billion.

As in previous observances of similar events, we realize that some of these allocations will go to infrastructure and other projects that will spruce up the physical venues and beautify the environment. Benefits from these activities will accrue to the public long after the summit is over.

READ MORE...

Another reason for the swelling summit budget is the fact that it would actually cover three events -- the commemorative launch of the Philippine chairmanship of the regional grouping to be held on Jan. 15 in Davao City; the 30th ASEAN Summit in Mactan, Cebu in April, and the 31st ASEAN Summit to be held in November at Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

President Duterte announced at the chairmanship’s turnover ceremony in Vientiane last year that the theme of the 2017 ASEAN Summit is “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

Duterte’s personal propensity for displeasure or angst over foreign leaders expressing their concern about his war on drugs in the Philippines has somewhat affected our relations with other countries.

The chairmanship of ASEAN and the coming summits are rare opportunities for Duterte to push for our so-called independent foreign policy and flesh out the Filipino style of friendship and goodwill among our neighbors.

Come to think of it, it has been 30 years since the establishment of ASEAN but we have not really felt the concrete and lasting benefits of membership in this regional body.

Aside from growing its membership list, ASEAN itself seems to be too timid to have its voice heard on important regional and international issues.

Perhaps the Philippine chairmanship in this grouping, with President Duterte taking the lead, will make a difference not just for the nation but also for the rest of ASEAN.


New events and personalities in 2017 By NESTOR MATA January 03, 2017


By NESTOR MATA

IT’S that time of a New Year when we look back and ponder the events that occurred and the personalities which caught us all by surprise.

We are referring to the election of multi-millionaire Donald Trump, who had no experience at all in governing a nation, as the next President of the United States; the unprecedented election of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, as President of the Philippines; and Russian President Vladimir, the master political tactician.

In the view of three political analysts in an article published by The Straits Times, real estate mogul Donald Trump, who takes his oath of office on January 20, has “rewritten a place of the United States in the world. It will mark the culmination of the most disruptive election in American history, and the 70-years-old’s path to the White House has been strewn with the bodies of conventional wisdom, political tradition and historical precedent.”

 

Trump won, the article went on, while wreaking havoc on all established ideas about what it takes to win an election and making a host of controversial remarks that would have disqualified a more conventional candidate.

READ MORE...

Time magazine chose him as its Person of the Year for “empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-steaming fears, and framing tomorrow’s culture by demolishing yesterdays...” In another Time article entitled “See the Most Googled Person in Each Country in 2016”, Trump was the top-trending person in 88 countries of the world.

After the established order in US politics was unceremoniously upended, the article noted, many are now looking to see what sort of impact Trump will have on the world. At the heart of the concern is the potential disruption from Trump’s repeated mantra of “an America First” approach to the world.

Trump’s America is not necessarily one that sees itself as a keeper of international order and peace, or at least not without getting compensated for it accordingly. He has often questioned about the US commitment in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and said that the likes of Japan and South Korea need to pay more for the defense the US provides.

His phone call with Taiwan’s President and subsequent questioning of the US commitment to a “One China” policy also suggest a volatile approach to foreign policy that will put foes and allies on their toes. Similarly, Trump’s promises of tearing up trade deals suggest a belief that trade is not an activity that could benefit all, but a game where the winner triumphs over the loser.

Finally, Trump’s reneging on deals signed, such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, would also threaten to undermine US credibility as a negotiating partner in the future as well as its standing as a defender of an international rules-based order. It would, in the eyes of foreign policy experts, be a stunning disruption indeed!

***

The Philippines has not been the same since Rodrigo Roa Duterte, described as “brash, tough-talking” city mayor, became President six months ago.

In so short a time, the 71-year -old President Duterte has unleashed a war on crime, illegal drugs and corruption that is “shocking the world for its brutality, but which keeps boosting his ratings at home.”

He has shown no tolerance for critics of his anti-crime drive, and also shoved aside an issue that deeply divided Filipinos for nearly 30 years. With his blessings, he ordered the burial of the late President Ferdinand E, Marcos, who died in 1989, in the National Heroes Cemetery.

Beyond the Philippines’ shores, Duterte’s shadow looms large. He has set aside a hard-won ruling from an international tribunal meant to check China’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea.

And, oh, just like Trump in the Time magazine article entitled “See the Most Googled Person in each country in 2016”, Duterte was the most searched personality in the Philippines through the internet search engine Google. Since his assumption to office, he was already known not only in Asia but around the world because of his intensified anti-drug war and controversial statements against international organizations that criticized him..

Duterte remains popular but his critics, put off by his “brusque and sharp tongue” are digging in. That may lead to an even rougher year ahead of him, although a robust economy could boost his presidency and take some of the stings out of his critics at home!

***

Russian President Vladimir Putin, described as “a master tactician who has turned weakness into strength”, is ruling a country beset by fundamental problems.

Russia’s population is ageing and declining, its economy has failed to diversify and hit by low oil and gas revenues. It is also subjected to financial sanctions by the West. And even the military, whose modernization is one of Putin’s pet projects, is suffering from a lack of financial resources.

Still, Putin is indeed a master tactician in using weakness to gain strength as shown by his decision to get involved in Syria which transformed Russia from a marginal player in the region’s arbiter.

Contrary to American predictions, Putin did not get bogged down in the fighting, and his troops did not suffer heavy casualties. And unlike the Americans, the Russians proved determined and resourceful, even if their Middle East policies are opposed by most Arab nations.

Finally, Putin, with his carefully nurtured macho image, revealed that he had “some input” in the election of Trump to the White House in Washington, D.C. And Putin believed that he had good year in 2016, and might be expecting an even better one this New Year 2017.

***

Japanese Prime Minister Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be first head of state to visit the Philippines on January 12 to 13, 2017 through the invitation of President Duterte.

One of the possible discussions for the bilateral meeting Duterte and Abe, according to UNTV News, is the loan package offered by Japan to the Philippines amounting to 2.4 billion dollars for a new railway not only in Manila also in Mindanao, and to give 10 coastguard ships. Prime Minister is set to go to Davao City and Manila.

***

Ninety-five percent of Filipinos will enter 2017 with hope, according to a survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS). And the remaining five percent said they will face the New Year with fear.

“Hopefulness for the New Year is high regardless of socio-economic class,” SWS added.

***

A Joyous New Year to all!


EDITORIAL - Wake-up call January 06, 2017

THE general state of disrepair, decrepitude and weakness of our jails and prisons was put to the fore with the advent of President Rodrigo Duterte’s highly controversial war on drugs.

The National Bilibid Prison, the Quezon City jail, the Manila city jail and others have become poster icons of congestion, security lapses, inhuman conditions, disease, and official corruption.

In fact, it is common knowledge that illegal drug trade flourished in the NBP during the successive administrations of Presidents Arroyo and Aquino.

This sorry state of affairs in the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the local government units and the judicial system has been projected adequately to national attention but only elicited a passing notice from our officials.

READ MORE...

The daring, unprecedented attack by a group of heavily armed men on the North Cotabato district jail in Kidapawan City before dawn of Wednesday again pointed to the quagmire of continuing neglect our jails have been consigned to.

The well-planned raid was conducted after midnight with the aid of heavy weapons and the element of surprise that some 20 jail guards with their pistols and rifles could only offer token resistance. No reinforcement came from the police or the Armed Forces.

This resounding wake-up call on the inadequacy of the prison system took a toll of 158 escapees, five fatalities including one jail guard, several inmates wounded and huge property losses. The loss of face of the Duterte administration, particularly the Department of Interior and Local Government which supervises jails, is hard to quantify.

Early reports pointed to the Bangsa More Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) guerrillas, a breakway faction of the MILF, as behind the raid. Both the MILF and the MNLF have denied involvement, but the BIFF denial is most emphatic.

“We have other priority targets. And if ever we do conduct operations, we would never deny responsibility,” said BIFF spokesperson Abu Misri Mama.

Insiders recalled that the raiders first freed the Tamayan brothers first, then the Salik siblings, all alleged BIFF members, and proceeded to open other cells. It is interesting to note that the cases of the Tamayans and the Saliks ranged from illegal drugs to kidnapping and robbery, including murder.

If the major groups of Muslim guerrillas are not involved in this daring prison raid, could there be other Muslim groups as militarily organized, trained, and prepared to conduct such an operation?

The Kidapawan incident should finally prod President Duterte and his cabinet to act, or we may find ourselves watching the fast erosion of government power and influence in that part of the country.


An ‘economic revolution’ By NESTOR MATA January 05, 2017


By NESTOR MATA

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte, now on his seventh month in office this January 2017, is reportedly sending shockwaves throughout the country by revealing his “secret formula” that the average Filipino is using to make fast money from home.

“We’re literally seeing an increase in self-employment,” Duterte was quoted by ABS/CBN News as saying that “never before in history do we have an opportunity that people can easily take advantage of to generate tremendous wealth in such a short time.”

Duterte explained why this is going to happen, and that it will only last until his term ends. “A new economy has emerged that 99.9 percent of the world’s population is unaware of. Imagine buying google.com when the internet first began. That same opportunity is occurring right now and it’s 100 times more powerful. Literally anyone can begin taking advantage of this new economy.”

READ MORE...

But Duterte warned that it’s dangerous to talk about this “economic revolution” because “the powerful Oligarchs do not want the average Filipino so much wealth and because the wealthier the population is the less power they themselves have.”

Finally, Duterte concluded, “the Oligarchs are angry that I revealing this. But it’s about time that we share the money of the entire country and to move faster. It’s an economic revolution!”

***

After Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his support for President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, crime and corruption, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May expressed her wish “to be a genius like the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, who has been fulfilling what he promised during the presidential campaign last year.”

According to a London news report, May said also “I think the UK can follow the Philippines’ footsteps.” She added that she is ready to strengthen the UK-Philippines relationship. “Duterte is my friend, I will work with him. Filipinos will always maintain discipline even in foreign countries like here. I love Filipinos in UK who are hard working like their President Duterte.”

And finally, Prime Minister May remarked: “For the respect I have for President Duterte, and to prove that I’m in love with his leadership, UK is going to offer visa-free policy to all Filipinos for a period of three years.”

***

The Senate is ready to convene as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) with the House of Representatives to write amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

The proposed changes to the 29-year-old Constitution, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel hopes, will be submitted to Congress by the body of experts formed by Malacañang for the purpose before the middle of this year 2017 so that lawmakers can start working on the amendments.

While President Roa Duterte and many lawmakers prefer the formation of a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) as a mode for changes in the Charter change, Pimentel said the convening of a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) is still very much an option. In a Con-Ass, he explained, the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene as one chamber amending body while a Con-Con requires the election of delegates.

The main drawback of a Con-Con, Pimentel pointed out, is its huge cost, and the danger of that the process will lead to massive changes in the Constitution, and drag for a long time being an independent body. “We’re reading the Constitution and thinking what are the good reforms for our Constitution,” he said. “So we’re ready to convene as a Constituent Assembly.”

Actually, during the presidential campaign last year, Duterte, as a candidate, pushed for a shift to a federal form of government as well as lifting restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution. And he vowed to step from office if the amendments are implemented before the end of his term of office in 2022.

Duterte has also assured the 24-member Senate that he preferred a separate voting of members of the two chambers of Congress in the event the Con-Ass convened to allay concerns of senators they will be outvoted by the congressmen, who number 290.

Pimentel said that while nothing stops a lawmaker from proposing other than a shift to federalism and removal of restrictive economic restrictions, member of the Con-Ass can exercise self-discipline and limit themselves not to go beyond our agreement.

“Let’s not worry because we’re really opening up the Constitution,” Pimentel said. “This is really the process to change or revise it!”

***

Quote of the Day: “A good Constitution is infinitely better than the best despot!” – Anon.


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