[PHOTO W/ CAPTION COURTESY OF DAYLIFE - Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, left, and former President Fidel Ramos, right, link arms as they sing a patriotic song to celebrate the 25th People Power Anniversary Friday Feb. 25, 2011, at the People Power Monument along EDSA highway at suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. Ramos was one of the leaders of the near bloodless four-day people power revolution 25 years ago that ousted the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos from 20-year-rule and helped install Aquino's mother Corazon "Cory" Aquino to the presidency.]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 28, 2011 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Eight months since he assumed office in June 2010, President Aquino will finally be holding today his first Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council meeting at 10 a.m. in Malacañang.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. will be at the Aguinaldo State Hall, along with several leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Members of the Cabinet of President Aquino will also be there, to be led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., as they will be seeking the lawmakers’ support for the 23 priority bills they deem urgent to the government’s platform of good governance.

“We hope to be able to show our 23 priority bills and that there would be a consensus between the leaders of our team and leaders of Congress as to what measures will be taken up,” Valte told government-run radio dzRB.

She said the list grew to 23 from 17 because six measures have been added to the previous list, two of which are twin bills regarding measures that could strengthen and put more teeth to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

The Reproductive Health (RH) bill and the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill have unfortunately been excluded from the LEDAC list, the former because a responsible parenthood bill has yet to be issued while the latter is still undergoing thorough review.

Among the added priority bills were the proposed anti-trust law, protection and security to whistle-blowers, amendments to the Witness Protection Program, creation of a water regulatory body, government procurement reforms, and defining the powers and functions of the Department of National Defense.

The list of administration-backed proposals also includes Aquino’s commitments in July 2010, during his first State of the Nation Address, such as giving flesh to the constitutional provisions that prohibit monopolies and penalizing anti-competitive deals, strengthening the law on witness protection and providing security and benefits to whistle-blowers.

“All the 23 proposals went through benchmarking, goal-setting, and prioritization process during various Cabinet workshops and the succeeding meetings of the Cabinet clusters,” Ochoa said.

“In determining the measures to be included in our priorities, we reckoned with four parameters: people, resources, legal basis and political objectives,” the executive secretary added.

The original LEDAC list of priority bills contained 32 pieces of legislation, but this was reduced to 17. Before the LEDAC was to convene, however, the Palace added another six to the list, making it a total of 23.

“The bills that the President will present to the LEDAC are in the final stages of preparation. We are not just submitting a list of measures, but the bills themselves, which have been studied by the lead agencies involved,” Ochoa said.

He said the shortlist was finalized in late January, and that the measures were selected from at least 180 proposed bills received by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office from various departments and joint foreign chambers of commerce.

Aquino wanted to convene the LEDAC in late January, but failed.

Members of the opposition bloc in the House of Representatives, led by House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, have been complaining about the delay in the meeting.

Ochoa said the priority measures were critical to achieve the concerns of the Aquino administration outlined in the 16-point agenda of the government.

The priority bills to be submitted to the LEDAC will not cover new taxes or Charter change, in keeping with the President’s previous pronouncements.

The proposals instead assure citizens of human development, infrastructure development, economic development, sovereignty and security, and good governance.


In a fix again FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 02/28/2011

Noynoy is likely to do repeat of a washed down Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) report on the Aug. 23 botched hostage rescue, where he absolved his close buddy and his allies from any criminal and administrative charges.

This time around, the repeat will come in the form of the probe on the 14 Taiwanese fraudsters who were deported, not to Taiwan, but to Mainland China.

Noynoy and his government refuse to apologize to Taiwan — and there are reasons to take such a position, owing to the One-China policy, since a formal apology from the Philippine government would outrage the Mainland Chinese government, as this would be a recognition of Taiwan, which would be a breach of the One-China policy, although this matter could have been handled much better than the botched up job Noynoy and Malacañang did on this deportation issue.

To this day, Noynoy insists that there is nothing to apologize for, claiming that to apologize would mean that the Philippine government committed such a huge mistake, which he insists his government did not commit, which is not quite true.

Taiwan is putting the squeeze on the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there and Noynoy simply “solves” this problem by ordering his Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) secretary to create jobs for the returning Filipino workers from Taiwan.

Gee. Noynoy truly is much too simple-minded. An order to create jobs for these returning OFWs and generate jobs in this country is not as easy as directing the DoLE chief to “go forth and multiply jobs,” Noynoy. The climate for job generation must first be created, something which he has not been able to do, despite his propaganda of investors coming in with $2.8 billion.

Still, there was that “fact sheet” of a seven-point agreement inked between Noynoy’s special envoy and Taiwanese foreign minister, chief of which was that the Philippine government would be conducting a probe and make those who erred in deporting the 14 Taiwanese nationals to China be held accountable with possible sanctions.

Noynoy and his aides, whether in Customs, Immigration and even the Justice department will have to be held accountable, with others sanctioned, or meted certain penalties, because it was pretty clear early on, that the Philippine government not only erred, but deliberately lied and even refused to obey the appellate court’s order to on a habeas corpus issue regarding the 14 Taiwanese, who moreover, certainly had their Taiwanese passports and visas — something that can hardly be denied, since these are documentary evidences.

These deportees were certainly well documented as Taiwanese nationals, and there was that deliberate act of the authorities to confiscate the passports, in order to make it look as though they were not documented, even when there were valid visas issued to them by the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) in Taiwan. Also, even worse, there was that claim from Malacañang earlier on that there was a request for extradition, when there was no such extradition request.

And worst, even as the Taiwan offices hired a lawyer and sought a court order for a habeas corpus, in a legal bid not to have these 14 Taiwanese deported to their motherland, Malacañang and the authorities disregarded that order, and promptly put them on a plane to Mainland China.

Since it is the Philippine authorities who are clearly at fault, and deliberately lied, what is Noynoy now to do, by way of a probe?

And just who is to lead the probe, his Department of Justice secretary, who is herself involved in ensuring that these 14 Taiwanese would not be sent back to Taiwan, but to China?

And just how would Noynoy water down an already probable watered down report, while trying to smoothen the frayed ties with Taiwan?

The way it looks, Noynoy doesn’t seem to care to fix up ties with Taiwan. Apparently, from his order to the DoLE chief, he thinks creating jobs for the jobless OFWs — who have multiplied in number, owing to the unrest in the Middle East — is easy and all that is to be done is to say “Create jobs” and jobs are created.

Gee, eight months into the presidency and Noynoy already thinks he is God?

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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