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FROM THE TRIBUNE

EDITORIAL: WHY ARE REDS DICTATING TERMS?


FEBRUARY 4 -Now that it’s the communist party that revoked its unilateral ceasefire, it is time for the government to be firm about the rebels presenting a sign of goodwill on the peace process or else call off the negotiations. In all candor, the Maoist group called the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) has not shown any signs that it is ready to embrace peace yet, even as the government acceded to the release of some of its prisoners on top of granting its nominees key Cabinet posts. The NPA spokesman who didn’t even have the balls to give his real name said that the guerrillas would continue to negotiate peace while engaging the government in battle which is a position that reeks of cow manure. If the government negotiators agree to such a position, Rody had better look for other worthy individuals to represent the government. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiators were more honorable — in comparison with the Reds to deal with, in the midst of the duplicity that the CPP-NPA is showing. Rody, to start his presidency, announced in his first state of the nation address (Sona) that he was calling off the military offensive against the rebels through the declaration of a unilateral cesefire. READ MORE...

ALSO: Finding a good balance (Mining Closure)


FEBRUARY 9 -The mining audit that has resulted in the closure of 23 huge mining operations should be seen as it is, which is the government enforcing its rules no matter the huge business interests affected. However, it is also government’s responsibility to balance the effect of a sweeping order.
The order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has created ripples overseas, which is no longer a novelty under Rody since his controversial statements have been making the Philippines a daily news fare but he should be enough for now in terms of putting the country in global headlines. The DENR has a huge responsibility in its hands which is much more than anybody’s cause or crusade, most particularly Environment Secretary Regina Lopez who has proven herself to be uncompromising which is a good trait in street protest rallies, but not in government.
The action of Lopez has created a degree of friction within the Cabinet due to worries on the economic impact of the sudden shutdown of most of the country’s major mining operations. The concerns are valid since mining is a major industry that has huge potentials for the economy.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the closure of the 23 mines will displace 1.2 million Filipinos. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Charlie Manalo -How could you Kris?


FEBRUARY 9 -Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte bared that former presidential sister Kris Aquino sent him a text message, begging him not to send her brother, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, to jail in connection with the death of 44 troopers of the Philippine National Police — Special Action Force (SAF), who were mercilessly killed in Mamasapano. It can be recalled the SAF troopers were killed after they were waylaid by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces in an open cornfield after the extraction plan in their operation to arrest international fugitive Marwan, failed. According to reports however, they could have been rescued had only the Armed Forces sent them reinforcements but which Noynoy refused to send. And for this, Duterte wants the case reopened with Noynoy possibly facing charges. And that is enough to send shivers to the former president, including his famous (or infamous) sister, Kris. Kapal naman ng mukha mo Kris.You are very much aware your brother ordered the filing of charges after charges against former President, now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo not because he believed she was guilty of any wrongdoing but because your brother just wanted to get back at her for invalidating the executive order issued by your mother on the stock distribution option which would subject Hacienda Luisita to agrarian reform. READ MORE...

ALSO: COMMENTARY - US envoy eyes cuts to UN peacekeeping


FEBRUARY 9 -United Nations, United States — Washington’s new UN envoy Nikki Haley is putting in motion a far-reaching review of UN peacekeeping that is likely to lead to closures and downsizing of missions, according to diplomats. Haley took up her post with a vow to overhaul the United Nations and “do away” with what she termed as “obsolete” activities amid fresh clamor in Washington over US funding for the world body. During one-on-one meetings with Security Council ambassadors this week, the new US envoy raised peacekeeping as a priority for cuts, zeroing in on the UN’s flagship enterprise, according to three diplomats with knowledge of the discussions. “On UN reform, I think there is a particular interest in peacekeeping,” said a Security Council diplomat. Haley is setting up a mission-by-mission review of all 16 peace operations and is “relatively skeptical” of the value and efficiency of many of the blue-helmet deployments, said the diplomat, who spoke on background. A senior Security Council diplomat told AFP that peacekeeping reform was “a priority” for the new US ambassador “who wants to work closely with key partners on the issue in the coming weeks.”
While the United States has few soldiers serving as peacekeepers, it is by far the biggest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, providing nearly 29 percent of the $7.9 billion budget for this year. READ MORE...


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Why are Reds dictating terms?

MANILA, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 (TRIBUNE) Written by Tribune Editorial Saturday, 04 February 2017 00:00 - Now that it’s the communist party that revoked its unilateral ceasefire, it is time for the government to be firm about the rebels presenting a sign of goodwill on the peace process or else call off the negotiations.

In all candor, the Maoist group called the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) has not shown any signs that it is ready to embrace peace yet, even as the government acceded to the release of some of its prisoners on top of granting its nominees key Cabinet posts.

The NPA spokesman who didn’t even have the balls to give his real name said that the guerrillas would continue to negotiate peace while engaging the government in battle which is a position that reeks of cow manure.

If the government negotiators agree to such a position, Rody had better look for other worthy individuals to represent the government.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiators were more honorable — in comparison with the Reds to deal with, in the midst of the duplicity that the CPP-NPA is showing.

Rody, to start his presidency, announced in his first state of the nation address (Sona) that he was calling off the military offensive against the rebels through the declaration of a unilateral cesefire.

READ MORE...

The communists at first rejected complementing the move of Rody as it demanded the release of more than 400 political prisoners “immediately.”

The Reds knew they were asking for the moon but if Rody agreed, then they lose nothing and gain a lot. They will also obtain a huge leverage in the negotiations if their comrades are all released.

They reluctantly imposed a unilateral ceasefire but at the same time imposed a deadline on the government to comply with their demands, similar to the way a hostage taker talks to the police.

Considering the moves of the communist movement during the negotiations period, it seems that its only interest is to exploit the interregnum to consolidate its forces.

At the negotiating table in Netherlands, CPP chairman Jose Maria Sison and the other communist leaders were seen usually having a good time at the expense of the government negotiators to reflect their lack of sincerity in the process.

The NPA spokesman who uses an alias Ka Oris cited in a video two reasons for the communist group to end its five-month old ceasefire declaration which are that the Duterte regime failed to fulfill its promise to free all political prisoners and that the government “has treacherously taken advantage” of the ceasefire and attacked the rebels’ territories.

Of course, its so-called territories are not clearly defined since it is only the NPAs who claim these. The MILF’s so-called territories in the peace negotiations, in contrast, were delineated according to Moro tribal affiliations.

The NPA claimed more than 500 towns under its “influence” were infiltrated by the military.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lazaro said that the military only intervenes when citizens call the government’s attention to NPA extortion activities, in demanding businesses in territories where the rebels claim control to pay “revolutionary taxes.”

Lazaro said the NPA also strengthened its recruitment operations amid the truce.

The parameter of the military operations was clearly defined by Lorenzana as he said state troops do not actively operate against the NPA while Rody’s ceasefire is in effect.

The military, however, has to fulfill its duty in maintaining peace and order and to run after lawless elements whoever they are.

“We do not recognize any areas under NPA control nor are they allowed to roam around with their firearms intimidating people,” Lorenzana said.

The government should negotiate in a position of strength by not allowing those with whom it is negotiating, whether the CPP-NPA or the MILF, to dictate their terms.

The reason for this is simple: the government has the mandate from the people who voted its leaders in place while the rebels have none.


Finding a good balance Written by Tribune Editorial Thursday, 09 February 2017 00:00


The mining audit that has resulted in the closure of 23 huge mining operations should be seen as it is, which is the government enforcing its rules no matter the huge business interests affected.

However, it is also government’s responsibility to balance the effect of a sweeping order.

The order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has created ripples overseas, which is no longer a novelty under Rody since his controversial statements have been making the Philippines a daily news fare but he should be enough for now in terms of putting the country in global headlines.

The DENR has a huge responsibility in its hands which is much more than anybody’s cause or crusade, most particularly Environment Secretary Regina Lopez who has proven herself to be uncompromising which is a good trait in street protest rallies, but not in government.

The action of Lopez has created a degree of friction within the Cabinet due to worries on the economic impact of the sudden shutdown of most of the country’s major mining operations.

The concerns are valid since mining is a major industry that has huge potentials for the economy.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the closure of the 23 mines will displace 1.2 million Filipinos.

READ MORE...

He also said initial estimates peg the loss in terms of revenues for the year from the closure order to be around P653 million which is mostly foregone revenues of local government.

Lopez cited programs like planting tress and some form of cottage industries are being developed to absorb those to be laid off as a result of the crackdown on what she calls irresponsible mining that seems to have come off as an afterthought. The workers are adept at work in mines, and not in farms or needlework.

Dominguez said proposals such as turning the mines into eco-tourism destinations to provide alternative jobs to people would take some time and the necessary infrastructure to be realized.

“I am sure that at some point in it will be viable. But how do you make eco-tourism if you cannot get there because there is no road? That there is no pier? That there is no airport?

“We have to build the infrastructure to make sure that it’s a viable place to visit,” he said.

Dominguez also worries that municipalities, particularly those dependent on mining and not the national government, would suffer tax revenue losses from the closure of mining companies.

Some far-flung municipalities earn solely from taxes paid by mining companies operating in their areas.

Dominguez said while it’s going to hurt that the national government will miss mining revenues, it is not going to be fatal but in some small municipalities, it’s the only income they have.

Dominguez, co-chairman of the inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), said members of the Cabinet were now formulating emergency measures to address the closure’s impact on affected workers.

He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development, among others, was collating the number of affected workers and the Department of Labor is considering the creation of jobs for this purpose.

Not only workers in mining companies are those affected by the order but also those who provide secondary services such as workers of companies providing supplies such as boots and helmets as well as small store owners around the mines.

Dominguez said the MICC is also holding a meeting to draft measures to help affected workers.

MICC is chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry. Its members are the secretaries of the DENR and the Department of Finance, the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, the president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines and representatives of the business, civil society, and the academe.

”The Cabinet is obviously very concerned about unemployment and people not having income so we will put our shoulders to the wheel to address that issue first,” Dominguez said.

Lopez said the campaign will not affect those businesses that follow the law and what is foremost is that environment disasters, believed to have been caused by discharges from mining operations that regularly recur are being addressed.

Government decisions should, however, find a balance to reduce the distress that it may cause.


How could you Kris? Written by Charlie V. Manalo Thursday, 09 February 2017 00:00



Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte bared that former presidential sister Kris Aquino sent him a text message, begging him not to send her brother, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, to jail in connection with the death of 44 troopers of the Philippine National Police — Special Action Force (SAF), who were mercilessly killed in Mamasapano.

It can be recalled the SAF troopers were killed after they were waylaid by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces in an open cornfield after the extraction plan in their operation to arrest international fugitive Marwan, failed.

According to reports however, they could have been rescued had only the Armed Forces sent them reinforcements but which Noynoy refused to send. And for this, Duterte wants the case reopened with Noynoy possibly facing charges.

And that is enough to send shivers to the former president, including his famous (or infamous) sister, Kris.

Kapal naman ng mukha mo Kris.

You are very much aware your brother ordered the filing of charges after charges against former President, now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo not because he believed she was guilty of any wrongdoing but because your brother just wanted to get back at her for invalidating the executive order issued by your mother on the stock distribution option which would subject Hacienda Luisita to agrarian reform.

READ MORE...

And this was validated when all charges against the former president were dismissed after your brother stepped down from office.

Your brother also removed former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona from office, convicting him of a correctible offense after the High Court which he then headed, upheld Mrs. Arroyo’s position on the stock distribution option.

On both occasions, Kris, did you text your brother asking him not to pursue his vindictive moves? Of course you did not.

Now, after the 44 SAF troopers died in the hands of the “enemy,” did you ever bother to text your brother to forgo his plan to grace the event of a car manufacturing company and give the slain troopers a heroes’ welcome when their bodies arrived at Villamor Airbase?

No you did not. In the same manner you did not remind your brother that a storm was unleashing its fury in other parts of the country while he was busy attending Dingdong Avanzado’s wedding at one time, and busy belting an out of tune song during the PSG’s Christmas Party at another time.

You were so insensitive that time Kris. You and your brother. And now you still have the gall to beg Duterte not to send you brother to jail?
How could you Kris? Makes me want to borrow Duterte’s favorite line: “P_____ __a!

Move over loan sharks.

If ASA Philippines plan pushes through, the turbaned-loan sharks preying on helpless street hawkers and small entrepreneurs would be a thing of the past.

According to ASA Philippines, they are currently contemplating on deploying loan processors on the streets to rival the operations of the Indian money lenders, who in an instant, can extend loans to those who can stomach the usurious 20 percent monthly interest translated to 240 percent annual interest. Very much unlike ASA Philippines’ borrower-friendly scheme of a 30 percent per annum interest.

And that’s no joke. In fact, just recently, the microfinance non-government organization (NGO) issued P2 billion in bonds in a bid to cater to the credit needs of the two million poor women entrepreneurs in the country. This alone, is the considered the largest bond issuance of an individual microfinance institution.

With already over a million Filipino women as clients, ASA Philippines bared it is now seeking medium-term bonds for the services it offers its entrepreneur–borrowers.

The good news is that in addition to traditional microloans for businesses, these services include financing for water and sanitation products, housing improvements and solar energy for homes as well as providing scholarships, healthcare benefits and business development trading.

While ASA Philippines views the issuance of the P2 billion bonds as a milestone for them, as its founder and CEO Kamrul Tarafder puts it, it cannot be denied that such move lays a strong foundation for the development of the lives of the struggling mothers throughout the country, who through their hard work, can utilize the funds they borrow to generate the necessary income to improve the lives of their families.


US envoy eyes cuts to UN peacekeeping Written by AFP and Tribune Wires Wednesday, 08 February 2017 00:00

United Nations, United States — Washington’s new UN envoy Nikki Haley is putting in motion a far-reaching review of UN peacekeeping that is likely to lead to closures and downsizing of missions, according to diplomats.

Haley took up her post with a vow to overhaul the United Nations and “do away” with what she termed as “obsolete” activities amid fresh clamor in Washington over US funding for the world body.

During one-on-one meetings with Security Council ambassadors this week, the new US envoy raised peacekeeping as a priority for cuts, zeroing in on the UN’s flagship enterprise, according to three diplomats with knowledge of the discussions.

“On UN reform, I think there is a particular interest in peacekeeping,” said a Security Council diplomat.

Haley is setting up a mission-by-mission review of all 16 peace operations and is “relatively skeptical” of the value and efficiency of many of the blue-helmet deployments, said the diplomat, who spoke on background.

A senior Security Council diplomat told AFP that peacekeeping reform was “a priority” for the new US ambassador “who wants to work closely with key partners on the issue in the coming weeks.”

While the United States has few soldiers serving as peacekeepers, it is by far the biggest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, providing nearly 29 percent of the $7.9 billion budget for this year.

READ MORE...

During hearings at the US Senate last month, Haley made clear she was seeking to bring the US share of funding for peacekeeping to below 25 percent and said other countries should step in to shoulder the burden.

“We have to start encouraging other countries to have skin in the game,” she said.

No list has been drawn up of missions that are to be axed, but diplomats said UN missions in Haiti and Liberia are probably headed for a rapid shutdown.
Get it settled and get out

The last remaining UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast will pull out in June while the Security Council renewed the UNMIL mission in Liberia until March 2018 with the understanding that this would be the final year.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous is traveling to Haiti next week to carry out an assessment that could pave the way for a closure.

For now, diplomats are welcoming the US scrutiny and agree that while some missions are operating in difficult political environments — Haiti, Cyprus or Kosovo for example — there is no major threat of conflict in those areas.

At the Senate hearing, Haley questioned the decision to send peacekeepers to South Sudan, citing opposition from President Salva Kiir’s government, even though some 200,000 civilians are sheltering in UN bases.

There should be clear exit strategies, she argued, and new missions should be authorized only if there is a “secure base to start with.”

“Our goal should be to go in, keep the peace, get it settled and get out,” she said.

China steps in?

The peacekeeping review could have serious implications for stability in Africa. Nine of the UN’s 16 peacekeeping missions are deployed on the continent.

US de-funding could open up the door for China — the second largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping and Africa’s number one trading partner — to bolter its role.

China’s share of the UN peacekeeping budget now stands at 10.3 percent followed by Japan (9.7 percent), Germany (6.4 percent), France (6.3 percent) and Britain (5.8 percent).

The biggest and most costly mission is the 22,000-strong MONUSCO force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been deployed for 18 years and has an annual budget of $1.2 billion that some say could be downsized.

The joint UN-African Union mission in Sudan’s Darfur region (UNAMID) is singled out as a costly and ineffective operation because it has been repeatedly blocked by the Sudanese government.

But analyst Aditi Gorur said funding cuts to UN missions in South Sudan, DR Congo, the Central African Republic and Mali “would likely be a death sentence for thousands of people, and would undo a huge amount of progress toward peace deals.”

“The bottom line is that UN peacekeeping is a bargain for the US government,” said Gorur, director of the Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program at the Washington-based Stimson Center.

“It advances the national interest by promoting peace and stability at a fraction of the cost of what the US would have to spend on its own.”


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