JULY 18, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Danny Dangcalan - Sen. Gregorio Honasan said he hopes that President Aquino will map out his national policies in his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, which the senator feels he had not done in previous reports.

“I’m hoping to hear from him in his SONA the national direction, his marching orders, his priority in the national government so we all know what to do,” Honasan said in Bacolod Saturday.

He said if the President wants national security as the topmost priority, then government resources should be geared toward that goal.

“If he says our second priority is tourism, then our resources will be channeled along that objective,” he added.

Honasan rates Aquino’s performance thus far in the past two years as a seven on a scale of 10.

“I’m a very kind professor. I give him a passing grade. In other words, he is not on the dean’s list and he is not a scholar, he just passed. But he has so much room for improvement,” he said, adding that the President’s heart is in the right place because he seems to be untainted with corruption and has only good intentions for the country.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, on the other hand, expressed hope that Aquino would give a truthful report about the country’s condition.

“At the time when the speechwriters are already working on President Aquino’s speech, they should consider sticking to facts,” Palma said.

He said he is also hoping that the President’s SONA would help unite the people and serve as an inspiration to move forward.

“There are a lot of problems and concerns, but when we solicit the cooperation of many, we have the competence and encourage the people to collaborate and work together. We would be able to give solutions to many of our problems,” he said.

He also assured Aquino the bishops would be praying that the Holy Spirit would inspire him during his SONA.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is expected to provide adequate security on July 23.

The PNP would be deploying 7,500 policemen of which 3,500 policemen would come from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) while others would come from nearby police regional offices.

However, Central Luzon farmers gave the President’s two-year accomplishments a “double thumbs down” rating in a rally yesterday.

“Aquino has implemented policies and programs detrimental to the region’s farmer sector,” said the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) during the rally, where they burned a life-size effigy of the President.

AMGL invited farmers and members of other sectors in Central Luzon to join a protest caravan tomorrow to culminate in a rally during the SONA in Metro Manila.

“Everybody knows about Hacienda Luisita. They (Aquino’s family) conned the government in 1957 and used public funds, they massacred the farm workers in 2004, they blocked the DAR and PARC’s (Presidential Agrarian Reform Council) decision to junk the stock distribution option in 2006, they tried to peddle lies at the Supreme Court during the oral arguments and carried out a bogus referendum in August 2010,” the group said.

AMGL chair Joseph Canlas cited the case of farmers in Tarlac city “where the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) project has triggered massive land grabbing and speculation, in anticipation of the abrupt appreciation of land value.”

He said that mining operations are also systematically destroying the mountains of Zambales, Pampanga and Bulacan, which Aquino is continuously promoting through his recently issued Executive Order 79. – With Evelyn Macairan, Ding Cervantes

Gringo: Nat'l interest should also prevail in 'super coalition' talks By Christina Mendez Home Updated July 17, 2012 04:14 PM 1 comment to this post

MANILA, Philippines - Re-electionist Sen. Gregorio Honasan said national interest should be the main consideration on possible talks of a "super coalition" between top leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and the administration Liberal Party and its coalition partners, Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

Honasan said the proposed UNA-LP coalition is better “left to the superior judgment of the leaders” of the two major political coalitions in the country today.

He said that President Benigno Aquino III, as chairman of the LP, should even be included in the talks.

“I think the UNA-LP coalition is left to the superior judgment of the leaders of UNA; the Vice President, former President Erap and Senate President Enrile and the leaders of the LP, NP and the NPC including the President,” Honasan said.

“Para ang interest na maisaalang-alang dito ay hindi interest ng partido kundi public interest that should result in the way we conduct our elections, free, credible, clean and honest elections,” he added.

On the possibility that some candidates might be displaced, Honasan reiterated that the decision should be left to the senior statesmen.

“Dahil sila ang nakakaintindi nang kung paano ma-serve ang national interest dahil kung ili-limit natin sa interest ng kanya-kanyang partido, balik tayo sa dating gawi. I don’t think it will be good for the coming 2013 elections,” he said.

Honasan expressed hope that a super coalition, “if firmed up,” will “lead us back to the two party system.”

“I think the most important matter should be public interest, not narrow partisan, political interest. That should be the primary objective of all these coalition between the so-called admin party and the UNA,” he said.

The other day, Binay said that he is open for the UNA into forging a “super coalition' with the LP for the 2013 mid-term elections.


Judging the Presidents

Presidential biographer Robert Merry examines how presidents are evaluated by historians and voters - By Shannon McGovern July 12, 2012 RSS Feed Print

There is a rating system for virtually everything, from books and movies to athletes and musicians. The American presidents are no exception, and have been ranked and critiqued by scholars and historians for decades.

Robert Merry, editor of the National Interest and biographer of President James Polk, explains how the presidential rating game is played in his book, Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

He examines White House history and weighs the sentiments of the electorate against historians' analyses to formulate his own rating of U.S. presidents.

Merry recently spoke with U.S. News about who the great presidents are and how some have qualified as what he calls "Men of Destiny" who have shaped the direction of the nation. Excerpts:

What defines a successful presidency?

Looking back at our great presidents, they all meet three criteria.

Number one, they were judged by historians, in the polls of historians, to have been great.

Number two, they all were successful with the electorate, meaning that they were two-term presidents succeeded by their own party.

And number three, they all transformed the political landscape of America and set the country upon a new course. Then, the president has to, of course, understand his time and understand that he is not really mandated to change the direction of the country, but he is mandated to ensure that the country thrives by proceeding along the same lines that it has proceeded in the past.

What qualities make a president a "Man of Destiny"?

[The presidency] was designed to have a lot of checks and balances on it, and therefore once a president can really capture the sentiment of the American people, he becomes quite powerful.

But unless he's able to pull that off, he's not going to be able to really move the country significantly in one direction or another.

What is the rating game?

Arthur Schlesinger Sr., the Harvard professor, sort of initiated the current rating game ethos in 1948 when he conducted a poll of prominent historians and had them rank the presidents in terms of who is the greatest and who were the not so great, who were the failures, who were the mediocre, sort of ordinary or average.

As Mark Twain said, it's differences of opinion that make horse races. The difference between a horse race and this rating game is that the difference of opinion in a horse race gets settled at the finish line, but there's no finish line here.

Do historians and the public always agree?

They generally agree. There are some instances in which the voter assessment and the historian assessment is quite disparate and worthy of conversation.

Warren G. Harding is judged to be a bad president, largely because of the Teapot Dome scandal, and he died in office, about two thirds or three fourths of the way through his only term.

He gave the country what the country wanted. The voters were happy with the guy, and historians consider him to be really terrible.

What should President Obama take from your book?

I say in the book that President Obama was elected in the middle of a crisis, and he attempted to address the crisis in many ways.

He tried to take the country in a direction the country did not want to go with healthcare. In doing so, he undermined his standing and his position with the American people, and with the Congress, which is a reflection of the American people, in a way that has harmed his ability to lead. While I think that he's on the cusp of his political fate in terms of his ability to get re-elected or not, I think he has a significant prospect of being re-elected because he has essentially abandoned the thesis direction and goal that he had created for himself at the beginning of his presidency when he was tempted to take the country in a direction it didn't want to go.

How does time affect a president's rating or legacy?

Presidents are subject to vogues of font and attitudes, just like anything else. There was a body of thought that dominated the thinking of American historians up until relatively recently, which said that Andrew Johnson was attempting to protect the country from the ravages of the radical Republicans in Congress, particularly the Senate, who were trying to take control of the government from him and dominate Reconstruction in a way that was making it difficult for the South to be reincorporated into American society.

But more recently, historians have come forward and written about Reconstruction in a way that suggests that that's not really the right way to look at it. As a result of that change in political thinking, we see that Andrew Johnson declines in the historians' polls. Whereas Grant, who succeeded Johnson and who sought to deal with the radical Republicans, and did so much more successfully than Johnson, we see his stock rising.

10 Things Obama Can Learn From Clinton Tweet Share on Facebook By Paul Bedard


As presidential debuts go, Barack Obama's, while legislatively successful, has been a public approval disaster.

But he's not the first to arrive in Washington with great hope only to face a public backlash.

At this stage in his presidency, Bill Clinton was just as bad off in public polling as Obama. Gallup pegged his public approval rate at 43 percent compared to Obama's current 41 percent.

The 1994 midterm election catastrophe forced Clinton to change his approach to getting things done in Washington, which led to his easy reelection and remarkable ability to survive during the Monica Lewinsky affair, then culminated in a retirement called the model for ex-presidents.

5 Reasons Obama Is the Same as Bush, Clinton Tweet Share on Facebook y Paul Bedard


Elected in a euphoric wave of hope and change for the future, President Obama's recent stumblings over the Gulf oil disaster, efforts to influence Democratic races, and hiccups in stopping domestic terrorism have even his friends thinking he's no different than any other president.

This week there have been several liberals and progressives making the charge that Obama, despite all the election hype and hope, is just another politician.

Mike Barnicle, a regular on the MSNBC morning show Morning Joe, vented that frustration yesterday.

Talking Thursday about the good Americans felt electing what they thought was a unique and intelligent young president in 2008, he said: "It was as if we gave ourselves a big gift box with a huge bow on it and now with everything that he inherited, the economy, two wars, speaking like a hugely partisan guy about the deficits yesterday about the Republicans—we open the bow, we take the top off the box and it's the same old same old."

That's not to say that Obama can't come back, like former President Clinton did several times.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said that if he had a tombstone for every time the administration had been declared dead, "we could open a cemetery."

And other Democrats say that Obama is getting a bad rap in the media. But pollsters suggest that Obama's long stretch at 50 percent public approval or less means that the thrill is gone.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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