DAP RULING BLAMED FOR DROP IN GOVT SPENDING; NOY ALLIES, CABINET MEN WANT SC POWER CLIPPED  
Stung by a backlash in public opinion, Malacañang and its allies in Congress seem to have sounded the retreat call on the pursuit of charter change (cha-cha) to extend the term of President Aquino but apparently not the idea of clipping the powers of the Judiciary, the Supreme Court (SC) in particular. Aquino’s economic managers and Palace allies in the Senate ganged up on the SC blaming its decision on the Disbursment Acceleration Program (DAP) for a slowdown in government spending that they claim will reflect on the economy through slower growth.

Last July, the SC ruled Palace acts creating the DAP as unconstitutional and ordered officials who created and implemented the money pool to prove good faith in an appropriate court.
In an interview with TV5 last week, Aquino chastised the SC for having immense powers and complained of judicial overreach which he claims affects the rendering of government services. Aquino’s so-called economic managers yesterday emphasized before the senators the need for the two Houses of Congress to work hand in hand with the Executive in some fiscal issues needing legislative action. The matter that was immediately seconded by Senate President Franklin Drilon who aired concerns over the drop in government spending this year which he claimed, if not addressed, could further be aggravated by what he called as “chilling effect” of the SC’s decision on the DAP on the government spending plan.

During the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC)’s briefing to senators on the 2015 proposed P2.6-trillion national budget, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima underscored Congress’ participation in dealing with some fiscal issues, on top of those the department listed as legislative priorities that included fiscal incentive rationalization (FIR), tax incentives management and transparency (TIMTA), Customs modernization and tariff act, valuation reform act and fiscal regime for mining industry. “We’d like to work with Congress to deal with some issues that we face involving the judiciary that affect our ability in key areas to deal with our fiscal issues,” Purisima said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 3 impeachment complaints weak, say speaker, Justice Committee members  

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., along with members of House Committee on Justice, yesterday described as “weak” and “mere scraps of paper” the three impeachment complaints filed against the President Aquino, two of which were in connection with the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The speaker said the complaints, which are scheduled to be taken up by the House Committee on Justice, chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. on Aug. 26 are “all weak.” Asked why he considered as “weak” the three complaints, which were separately filed by militant groups and endorsed by some congressmen this month, Belmonte, a lawyer, said, “I don’t like to get into that discussion. That’s my view – that they are all weak.” Belmonte had earlier said that the implementation of the DAP was “done in good faith” and that it helped spur the economy and that the use of savings is a longstanding practice. Anti-pork barrel groups, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and youth alliance Youth Act Now filed separate impeachment complaints against the President for implementing DAP, in “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.” The third impeachment complaint was filed by members of civil society groups in connection with the Aquino government’s signing of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States. Belmonte had earlier said the EDCA cannot be used as another ground for President Aquino’s impeachment, saying, “There are no constitutional infirmities in that agreement as far as I could think of.” * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Drilon, Belmonte: Allies but biggest opponents of 2nd term; Charter change to lift foreign equity limits   

The biggest opponents of a second term for President Aquino through a constitutional amendment are his principal allies in Congress, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon. “I am against term extension,” Belmonte told the Inquirer in a text message on Tuesday. Drilon told reporters that he and Belmonte agreed to cooperate only on a resolution that would amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, not on the amendment of the Charter’s political provisions. Belmonte is the main proponent of a pending resolution in the House of Representatives to amend the Constitution solely to lift foreign equity limits in investment areas restricted to Filipinos such as real estate and the media. President Aquino has refused to endorse Belmonte’s initiative, which made his declaration in a television interview last week that he was open to seeking a second term through constitutional amendments if there was strong enough clamor for him to continue his reforms a surprise. But Aquino did not say he would work for the amendment of the Constitution during his term or that he would seek a second term. If he does, he won’t get support from Belmonte, who said the revision of the political provisions of the Constitution was not a priority of the House.* READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace spokesman had 'slip-of-tongue: Sorry for no-el slip — Lacierda

Palace mouthpieces took turns yesterday to take back a statement, or a slip of the tongue, of
President Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda that appears to let the cat out of the bag on a no-election (no-el) scenario being cooked up within the circle of President Aquino. The Office of the Presidential Spokesman even issued a statement supposedly clarifying the statement of Lacierda in response to a question concerning even some relatives of President Aquino making known their intention of supporting the candidacy for president of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016 likely against the administration bet. It was suspected that the no-el trial balloon was floated as a result of the current push of President Aquino for charter change (cha-cha) in which term extension is part of the agenda on top of the clipping of the powers of the Supreme Court.

Aquino had complained of judicial overreach as hampering the work of both the Executive and the Legislative branches during an interview with TV5 that was believed to have been arranged by the Palace. Aquino, prior to the interview, is engaged in a bitter confrontation with the SC over its decision that tagged as unconstitutional a list of Palace acts that created the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which is a money pool of juggled funds from the yearly budget. The supposed response of Lacierda was “Let’s wait for the endorsement of the President kung sino ang kanyang hahayagin [sic] bilang kanyang kandidato sa 2016 kung sakaling tutuloy ang 2016 elections” (Let’s wait for the endorsement of the President whoever he announces as his candidate for 2016 if by chance the 2016 elections are held). The statement said that Lacierda’s reply “may have led certain members of the public to assume that the next presidential elections would not be undertaken come 2016.”

It added that it is “not the case” and the President has neither decided on term extension nor on endorsing a candidate, owing to the fact that his efforts are focused on more pressing matters of state. “It should be noted that the 2016 elections will push through, and that the administration will always follow the processes set by the Constitution. We regret the confusion that the statement may have caused,” the statement read. The statement also provided a link to the full transcript of the briefing in which Lacierda made made the baffling reference to a no-el scenario. * READ MORE EXPLAINING FOR DAMAGE CONTROL......

(ALSO) Palace: PNoy still undecided on term extension   

THE PRESIDENTIAL OATH-'SO HELP ME, GOD': President Benigno Aquino III takes his oath before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales as the Philippines 15th President during inaugural ceremony at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park in Manila in 2010. - President Benigno Aquino III has not made a decision on whether he would seek a second term, Malacañang said Wednesday. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said those accusing Aquino of trying to get another term through Charter Change have gone ahead of themselves and prejudged the President. "There are some who believe that the President should do one more term. The President has not made his mind on that. The President said in his interview that 'I consult the people,'" Lacierda said at a televised press briefing. Lacierda was referring to Aquino's interview with TV5 wherein he revealed that he is open to amending the Constitution to clip the immense powers of the judiciary. Charter change could pave the way for lifting the six-year term limit of the chief executive. When asked in the interview if he wants a term extension, Aquino said he listens to his bosses - the Filipino people. * READ MORE...FROM WIKIPEDIA: PHILIPPINE PRESIDENTIAL OATH OF OFFICE AT THE END OF THIS PAGE.

ALSO: Palace calls on youth to revisit life of Ninoy Aquino 

For his martyrdom and contributions to democracy, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. deserves to be remembered not only by those who witnessed his courage during the dark days of martial law but also by the youth who are now enjoying the freedom he fought for, Malacañang has said. “Thirty-one years ago, Ninoy Aquino came home to prove that the Filipino is worth dying for,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Thursday.
He said it was for this reason that the former senator was remembered as one of the “martyrs who stood for our national freedom and integrity.” August 21, which marks the death anniversary of Aquino, is a national holiday in the Philippines. Lacierda also called on the people, especially those who witnessed Aquino’s assassination, to remind others how his sacrifice had triggered and “sustained People Power efforts to bring back democracy through peaceful means.” “Let us pledge to transmit his thoughts and the reasons he took his fateful stand to the generations who were not yet around in 1983, but who continue to enjoy the freedom of choice, thought, and expression that he fought and died for, and which characterizes our country today,” Lacierda said. President Benigno Aquino III will visit his father’s grave and hear mass at the Manila Memorial Park on Thursday morning. Aquino and the rest of his family are also expected to visit the grave of their grandfather Pepe Cojuangco.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO Philstar Opinion: Malacañang’s reversal  

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte has made another turn around. After confirming that President Aquino is now open to Charter change (Cha-cha), including term extension and clipping the powers of the Supreme Court (SC), she has now declared that the President is not supporting any moves in Congress to amend the Constitution. “I think we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. What I remember the President say was that he’s thinking about it. He didn’t say, ‘Let’s do this tomorrow.’ He did not say anything about doing it tomorrow, doing it next week, doing it in the next few months,”Valte explained. Valte also distanced the President from administration lawmakers in the House of Representatives campaigning to introduce amendments to the Constitution and to lift term limits to allow the President to run for a second term. Party-list Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Ibara Gutierrez III urged President Aquino to clarify his stand on Cha-cha. They say the situation is now confused as Palace spokesmen have made statements contradicting President Aquino’s statement in a TV5 interview that he was now open to considering Cha-cha because of his conviction that there is a need to clip the powers of the SC. One immediate effect of President Aquino’s reversal on his declared stand against Charter change is the clear admission that Mar Roxas is not winnable or even worse that Roxas may not be trusted to continue his reforms. *READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

DAP RULING BLAMED FOR DROP IN GOV’T SPENDING; Noy allies, Cabinet men want SC powers clipped

PHOTO: PURISIMA & DRILON

MANILA, AUGUST 25, 2014 (TRIBUNE) Written by Angie M. Rosales - Stung by a backlash in public opinion, Malacañang and its allies in Congress seem to have sounded the retreat call on the pursuit of charter change (cha-cha) to extend the term of President Aquino but apparently not the idea of clipping the powers of the Judiciary, the Supreme Court (SC) in particular.

Aquino’s economic managers and Palace allies in the Senate ganged up on the SC blaming its decision on the Disbursment Acceleration Program (DAP) for a slowdown in government spending that they claim will reflect on the economy through slower growth.

Last July, the SC ruled Palace acts creating the DAP as unconstitutional and ordered officials who created and implemented the money pool to prove good faith in an appropriate court.

In an interview with TV5 last week, Aquino chastised the SC for having immense powers and complained of judicial overreach which he claims affects the rendering of government services.

Aquino’s so-called economic managers yesterday emphasized before the senators the need for the two Houses of Congress to work hand in hand with the Executive in some fiscal issues needing legislative action.

The matter that was immediately seconded by Senate President Franklin Drilon whoaired concerns over the drop in government spending this year which he claimed, if not addressed, could further be aggravated by what he called as “chilling effect” of the SC’s decision on the DAP on the government spending plan.

During the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC)’s briefing to senators on the 2015 proposed P2.6-trillion national budget, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima underscored Congress’ participation in dealing with some fiscal issues, on top of those the department listed as legislative priorities that included fiscal incentive rationalization (FIR), tax incentives management and transparency (TIMTA), Customs modernization and tariff act, valuation reform act and fiscal regime for mining industry.

“We’d like to work with Congress to deal with some issues that we face involving the judiciary that affect our ability in key areas to deal with our fiscal issues,” Purisima said.

* The DoF chief cited a recent SC ruling requiring the government to pay P62 billion for Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) for labor-related issues for the simple reason that the board that approved it had only three principals.

“These I think are important issues that can affect the fiscal sustainability of the country and we would like to work with Congress on how to better manage these challenges,” he said.

Drilon noted during the proceedings that which he claimed as a tremendous drop in government expenditures with a mere two percent posted for the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year with 10 percent, which he claimed to be a visible declinein government consumption.

“The reason I’m pointing that out is, you cannot discount the fact that the bureaucracy is now concerned about spending given the decision of the SC on the DAP. The fear factor had made the bureacracy extra careful in preventing the possibility of being hailed to court because of the decision on the DAP. You know, whether you like it or not, the DAP had a chilling effect on the goernment expenditure program,” he was quoted as saying during the said proceedings.

“The challenge therefore to our economic managers should be how to comply with the decision of the SC, the final decision of the SC but at the same time accelerate government for the next three quarters or whatever is left because you know we have enough revenues but we are not spending well. In fact our programmed budget deficit is way below target,” Drilon said.

“And that means underspending,” he added.

Purisima agreed and even made a rundown of some of the cases where government programs, mostly major infrastructure projects including a power plant that he claimed could help addresss a potential power outage problem in the near future, have been stalled due to the issuance of temporary restraining orders (TRO) by the court.

“This was my point earlier in my presentation. Congress really will have to help the Executive in managing some of these issues,” he said.

But finance committee chairman and presiding officer, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero posed the query on dealing with some issues that really calls for some cause of action or if there’s indeed basis to file a case in court.

“I think that’s when Congress should come in to better define what should be the better basis because in effect you have the judicial veto on Executive action. The world is not perfect, you cannot have perfect situations but I do realize that there maybe parties that can be affected. But it is I think important that we have to look at the one that benefits the most rather than the concern of the few...in some cases we end up in stalemates,” Purisima said.

In an interview with reporters, Drilon stressed the significance in accelerating government spending as the national budget constitutes 18 percent of the economy.

“The efficiencies of the bureaucracy would vary from office to office. You have a good manager in DPWH, the spending program there is good for it depends on each department. But, you cannot also discount the fact that also because of the DAP decision, this will have a chilling effect on the ability of the bureaucracy to spend,” he said.

Drilon also cited the need to define govenrment savings so as not to hamper the spending program of agencies.

“I am not saying that we just spend money without regard to the SC decision. There must be some consciousness, changes. For example, if you buy medicine in January, the appropriation and the bid results in a 25-percent savings. Under the decision of the SC, you have to wait until December before you can spend the 25 percent savings,” he said.

He said the challenge therefore to the Aquino administration is how to accelerate spending, and at the same time complying with the Supreme Court decision.

“How to accelerate spending in the next months of the year, in order to achieve the program of government spending and contribute to the expansion of the economy and at the same time, complying with the decision of the Supreme Court,” Drilon said.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

3 impeachment complaints weak, say speaker, Justice Committee members by Charissa Luci August 22, 2014

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., along with members of House Committee on Justice, yesterday described as “weak” and “mere scraps of paper” the three impeachment complaints filed against the President Aquino, two of which were in connection with the implementation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The speaker said the complaints, which are scheduled to be taken up by the House Committee on Justice, chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. on Aug. 26 are “all weak.”

Asked why he considered as “weak” the three complaints, which were separately filed by militant groups and endorsed by some congressmen this month, Belmonte, a lawyer, said, “I don’t like to get into that discussion. That’s my view – that they are all weak.”

Belmonte had earlier said that the implementation of the DAP was “done in good faith” and that it helped spur the economy and that the use of savings is a longstanding practice.

Anti-pork barrel groups, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and youth alliance Youth Act Now filed separate impeachment complaints against the President for implementing DAP, in “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”

The third impeachment complaint was filed by members of civil society groups in connection with the Aquino government’s signing of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.

Belmonte had earlier said the EDCA cannot be used as another ground for President Aquino’s impeachment, saying, “There are no constitutional infirmities in that agreement as far as I could think of.”

* Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice, also said the three impeachment complaints “lack merit.”

Tupas said he has read the three complaints, but declined to comment. “But I cannot reveal my assessment as it might influence the members. As you know, I’m impartial as presiding officer,” he said.

AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, member of the House Committee on Justice, called the three complaints are “mere scraps of paper designed to advance the personal vested interests of certain groups and not to strengthen our democratic process and ensure transparency and accountability.”

The impeachment hearing was initially set by the Committee on Justice for Aug. 18, but was rescheduled to Aug. 26 to give all members ample time to scrutinize the complaints. Tupas said the committee will vote on that day whether the complaints are sufficient in form. It will then decide on the dates of succeeding hearings.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Drilon, Belmonte: Allies but biggest opponents of 2nd term; Charter change to lift foreign equity limits  By Gil C. Cabacungan, Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:41 am | Wednesday, August 20th, 2014


Senate President Franklin Drilon (left) and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.: Allies but biggest opponents of a second term for President Aquino. (Photo by Benhur Arcayan / Malacanang Photo Bureau)

MANILA, Philippines–The biggest opponents of a second term for President Aquino through a constitutional amendment are his principal allies in Congress, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“I am against term extension,” Belmonte told the Inquirer in a text message on Tuesday.

Drilon told reporters that he and Belmonte agreed to cooperate only on a resolution that would amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, not on the amendment of the Charter’s political provisions.

Belmonte is the main proponent of a pending resolution in the House of Representatives to amend the Constitution solely to lift foreign equity limits in investment areas restricted to Filipinos such as real estate and the media.

President Aquino has refused to endorse Belmonte’s initiative, which made his declaration in a television interview last week that he was open to seeking a second term through constitutional amendments if there was strong enough clamor for him to continue his reforms a surprise.

But Aquino did not say he would work for the amendment of the Constitution during his term or that he would seek a second term.

If he does, he won’t get support from Belmonte, who said the revision of the political provisions of the Constitution was not a priority of the House.

* He said he did not even discuss the matter with the President when they met on Monday.

“No. I talked about our priorities, particularly the budget, [the proposed] Bangsamoro [basic law] and [the] competition policy. We hardly talked about Charter change,” Belmonte said in another text message.

There may be time

Drilon said there may be time for the Senate to handle Belmonte’s resolution, which would amend the Constitution’s economic provision by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law.”

But Drilon was not really sure the Senate could pass the bill within the remaining two years of President Aquino’s term.

“I think we still have time. But that is speculation on my part,” Drilon said.

“Our agreement with Speaker Belmonte is that once they have passed their proposed amendment in the House, we will work on it in the Senate, insofar as the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law,’ in the economic provisions of the Constitution,” he said.

The resolution deals only with the economic provisions of the Constitution, and does not include any political provisions.

It is under discussion in the House and is expected to go through a process similar to enacting a law, with both Houses of Congress separately voting on the measure.

A three-fourths vote by each chamber is needed for the resolution to be approved.

Asked about concerns that there would also be efforts to amend the political provisions of the Constitution, Drilon said there were built-in checks and balances in the process.

Just because the House has approved a measure does not mean the Senate will also pass it, he said.

Drilon said the ruling Liberal Party (LP) had no official stand on the talk about amending the Constitution that had been inspired by Aquino’s statements in his TV5 interview.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the party had not reached a consensus about the extension of the President’s term.

Speaking at a press forum on Tuesday, Gonzales denied that party members had met to discuss the extension of Aquino’s term, saying that was only speculation in the media.

“As far as I’m concerned, talks about [amending the political provisions of the Constitution] happen only in the papers,” Gonzales said. “The truth of the matter is there’s no talk, whether official or informal, [in] the LP,” he said.

Not Roxas’ idea

Gonzales also said that it was not true that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive but unpopular candidate of the party for president in 2016, first broached the idea of a second term for Aquino and called a meeting of the party for a discussion.

“SB [Belmonte] spoke to Mar, and Mar denied that there was such a meeting. I talked to [Eastern Samar Rep.] Ben Evardone. He said there was no meeting,” Gonzales said.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Evardone, one of party members supporting a second term for Aquino, said there was no formal meeting, but there were talks “on the sidelines.”

Sen. Francis Escudero, another ally of Aquino, said he would block any moves to amend the Constitution, especially proposals to lift term limits.

Escudero said any proposal to amend the Constitution should have been launched in the early days of the Aquino administration so that the effort would be spared intrigue and suspicion that it was intended to benefit only a few.

He said he also did not see any justification for any attempt to clip the powers of the judiciary, one reason that Aquino cited in his television interview as making him reconsider his old opposition to constitutional amendment.

On July 1, the Supreme Court struck down Aquino’s economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), angering the President who said the program had helped many poor Filipinos.

Aquino threatened the Supreme Court justices with impeachment, a move that gained immediate support from his allies in the House who lost their pork barrel, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which the court also struck down last year.
Escudero said the 1987 Constitution strengthened the Supreme Court because of the country’s experience during martial law, when dictator Ferdinand Marcos consolidated all governmental powers under the presidency.

Trial balloon

“If we weaken the Supreme Court, there may come a time when we will have an abusive President—and that is not President Aquino—and there will be no more Supreme Court that we can run to,” he said.

Escudero said the talk about extending Aquino’s term beyond 2016 was just a “trial balloon”—a ploy to counter the impression that the President had become a lame duck.

He said he believed Aquino was more than willing to step down at the end of his term in 2016.

“The President and his family have already given their share and more to the country. He deserves to get his own life back, and I think he is looking forward to that day to come in 2016,” Escudero said.

Malacañang insists President Aquino is not pushing for the amendment of the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit, which would allow him to run for a second term.

But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said on Tuesday the Palace would not stop members of the House from working for amendments now that the President had expressed his openness to it.

Leading the effort is a member of the Liberal Party, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, who claims there is a “strong clamor for the President to continue his reforms through a second term.”

“The legislators have their own process regarding that,” Coloma told reporters. “Let’s just allow that process to proceed according to their wishes.”

Coloma sought to clarify what he called “conclusions” drawn from the President’s pronouncements.

Aquino was roundly criticized by all sectors for flirting with the idea of seeking a second term, which his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, under whose administration the 1987 Constitution was adopted, rejected despite persistent prodding by her supporters.

“That’s why we are clarifying what was mentioned [in the television interview] was not the objective. He was not referring to that,” Coloma said.

But Coloma said Aquino was “not misquoted” and neither was the President “surprised” at how other news organizations reported his statement on TV5.

“All he said was he would listen [to the public] and he wanted to know their sentiments on how his reforms could be continued. That was his clear declaration,” Coloma said.

But Erice is proceeding to prepare a bill that would allow a president to serve a four-year term and run for reelection for a second term of four years, similar to the US presidential term limit.

LP-led coalition ‘solid’

Despite Belmonte’s open defiance of political “Cha-cha”—the legislators’ code word for constitutional amendments—LP members insist that the coalition their party leads in the House remains solid.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said: “I don’t think there is dissension in the ranks. There is no order coming from the President on Cha-cha that has been defied by anyone.”

Erice said: “There is no official LP stand on Charter change. It’s my personal advocacy. Liberalism is about pursuing your advocacy. There are just those who want to divide the party by floating intrigues.”

Evardone said the LP remained “equivocably behind President Aquino’s leadership and his reform agenda.”

He said: “The varied opinions of some party members on the issue of Charter change is a sign of a vibrant, healthy and democratic political party that encourages public discourse on issues affecting national interest. We will continue to engage and consult our party members to come up with a consensus on vital issues that we believe are acceptable and beneficial to the Filipino people.”

Erice, Treñas and Evardone have so far been the most vocal among the Liberals to support the president’s plan to push for the amendment of the Constitution to lift the presidential term limit as well as to bring back the balance of power between the three branches of government by scaling back the Supreme Court’s overreach.

Erice said he would not spoil the plan of Belmonte to fast-track his amendment initiative for economic reforms next week.

But he said he would file his bill for two four-year terms for the president through the normal process at the House committee level.

“We intend to go through the regular process, no fast break moves for us,” Erice said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares called on his colleagues Tuesday to oppose a term extension for Aquino.

“We must defeat the Liberal Party’s self-serving move because it would worsen the already sorry state of the country.

The Aquino government should heed the voice of the people and junk Cha-cha,” said Colmenares, the House senior deputy minority leader.

The government, he said, should instead concentrate on “providing more jobs, better social services.”

He added that the Aquino administration should also focus on preventing other looming crises, including power and water shortages.

Opposition from Church

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also opposes the amendment of the Constitution to give Aquino a second term.

On Tuesday, Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez became the latest Church leader to oppose what he called the “self-serving attempt by top government officials” to amend the Constitution.

“You don’t want to leave after tasting power. That is wrong,” Marquez said during Mass commemorating the 136th birthday of President Manuel L. Quezon at Perez Park in Lucena City, Quezon province.

Without directly referring to President Aquino and his allies, Marquez said there were people who wanted to destroy the country.

“No one has the right to destroy the Supreme Court. No one has the right to clip the powers of [the judiciary]. That is wrong,” Marquez said, a clear reference to Aquino’s complaints about judicial review.–With reports from Christian V. Esguerra and DJ Yap in Manila and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Palace spokesman had 'slip-of-tongue: Sorry for no-el slip — Lacierda Written by Tribune Wires Sunday, 24 August 2014 00:00


LACIERDA

Palace mouthpieces took turns yesterday to take back a statement, or a slip of the tongue, of President Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda that appears to let the cat out of the bag on a no-election (no-el) scenario being cooked up within the circle of President Aquino.

The Office of the Presidential Spokesman even issued a statement supposedly clarifying the statement of Lacierda in response to a question concerning even some relatives of President Aquino making known their intention of supporting the candidacy for president of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016 likely against the administration bet.

It was suspected that the no-el trial balloon was floated as a result of the current push of President Aquino for charter change (cha-cha) in which term extension is part of the agenda on top of the clipping of the powers of the Supreme Court.

Aquino had complained of judicial overreach as hampering the work of both the Executive and the Legislative branches during an interview with TV5 that was believed to have been arranged by the Palace.

Aquino, prior to the interview, is engaged in a bitter confrontation with the SC over its decision that tagged as unconstitutional a list of Palace acts that created the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which is a money pool of juggled funds from the yearly budget.

The supposed response of Lacierda was “Let’s wait for the endorsement of the President kung sino ang kanyang hahayagin [sic] bilang kanyang kandidato sa 2016 kung sakaling tutuloy ang 2016 elections” (Let’s wait for the endorsement of the President whoever he announces as his candidate for 2016 if by chance the 2016 elections are held).

The statement said that Lacierda’s reply “may have led certain members of the public to assume that the next presidential elections would not be undertaken come 2016.”

It added that it is “not the case” and the President has neither decided on term extension nor on endorsing a candidate, owing to the fact that his efforts are focused on more pressing matters of state.

“It should be noted that the 2016 elections will push through, and that the administration will always follow the processes set by the Constitution. We regret the confusion that the statement may have caused,” the statement read.

The statement also provided a link to the full transcript of the briefing in which Lacierda made made the baffling reference to a no-el scenario.

* Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte also underlined that the statement of Lacierda was misread and that it was not part of any trial balloon from the Palace.

“It was not floated. It can be more exciting to believe that it was an issue floated by the spokesman but it was not so. Like what Secretary Lacierda said yesterday ‘the President has neither decided on term extension or endorsing a candidate. In both instances, 2016 elections will push through’,” Valte added.

Last Thursday, Binay criticized the people urging the President to amend the Constitution and extend his term in the process that elicited a response from Lacierda.

“I really don’t know why the allusion was to the people surrounding the President, when the President himself has stated his views on the Constitution. The President cannot be dictated on. This is something he personally mentioned,” Lacierda said in an interview yesterday.

It was Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas who started the talk of a term extension of Aquino, saying he is the best person to continue his reforms in government.

Roxas is a laggard in the pre-election polls, with VP Binay leading by a mile.

It was also evident that Aquino through his spokesman, was ticked off with Binay saying that an extension of Aquino’s term beyond 2016 is a threat to democracy.

The Palace stand is that a reelection of Aquino and a charter change to clip the Supreme Court of its power of judicial review make democracy stronger.

Lacierda conrinued criticizing the Vice President, saying he was thinking way ahead when he cited the supposed dangers of amending the 1987 Constitution.

Lacierda said that some people are already saying that this is a threat to democracy, which is much too forward, since the President is still at that stage pf consulting his bosses.

“We shouldn’t worry about being a threat to democracy, because what we are after is a healthy balance between the three branches of government,” Lacierda claimed.

Earlier, Lacierda had a slip of the tongue when he adverted to a no election scenario, but quickly corrected himself.

On the Liberal Party leaders holding a meeting with Aquino to discuss his position on charter change, Lacierda said he does not know what the decision of the LP is, and whether the party leaders had talked with Aquino to set a meeting.

“But Secretary Butch Abad said that, as a political party, they really have to discuss this matter. And so they will discuss this matter with the President but I don’t know when and who are involved in the meetin,” Lacierda claimed.

He added: “Some people have different notions of what charter change is, so some people have expressed preference for economic provisions. So let them discuss what kind of alliance (the opposition) has. It’s a free country.”

On the speec of the Vice President that was seen as an attack at the advisers of Aquino, Lacierda replied: “I don’t understand that statement because it’s clear — it’s coming from the President. So, I don’t know who the Vice President is referring to but the President has already mentioned it openly — (he is) very, very honest about his views on the Constitution. Very, very honest about his views on maintaining the checks and balance.

So I really don’t know why the allusion is against the people surrounding the President when the President himself has already openly stated his views on the Constitution and the President cannot be dictated on. This is something that he personally mentioned during the interview (on TV5).

When Lacierda was asked whether Binay’s statements pertained to the people surrounding Aquino, such as DILG Secretary Mar Roxas who has said he’s open or he would like the President to continue his term and of influencing Aquino, the presidential spokesman said “why refer to the people behind the President when the President himself has already spoken and said that he’s consulting with his “bosses”.

FROM PHILSTAR

Palace: PNoy still undecided on term extension By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated August 20, 2014 - 3:18pm 7 25 googleplus0 0


President Benigno Aquino III takes his oath before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales as the Philippines 15th President during inaugural ceremony at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park in Manila in 2010. REY S. BANIQUET/OPS-NIB

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has not made a decision on whether he would seek a second term, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said those accusing Aquino of trying to get another term through Charter Change have gone ahead of themselves and prejudged the President.

"There are some who believe that the President should do one more term. The President has not made his mind on that. The President said in his interview that 'I consult the people,'" Lacierda said at a televised press briefing.

Lacierda was referring to Aquino's interview with TV5 wherein he revealed that he is open to amending the Constitution to clip the immense powers of the judiciary.

Charter change could pave the way for lifting the six-year term limit of the chief executive. When asked in the interview if he wants a term extension, Aquino said he listens to his bosses - the Filipino people.

* Aquino, however, clarified that this does not automatically mean that he would seek reelection.

The President's statements prompted some of his allies at the House of Representatives, led by Caloocan City Representative Edgar Erice, to push for Charter change to extend Aquino's term.

Malacañang denied giving orders to its allies.

"There are no movements from the Palace to amend the Charter. There's no orchestrated move. People are saying there is. There is none," Lacierda said.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Palace calls on youth to revisit life of Ninoy Aquino By Kristine Angeli Sabillo |INQUIRER.net9:27 am | Thursday, August 21st, 2014


THE TRIAL Aug. 27, 1973, Fort Bonifacio. Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. challenged the jurisdiction and independence of the military commission of Marcos-appointed generals and colonels. He refused to participate in the trial. On Nov. 25, 1977, the military tribunal sentenced him to die by musketry. ED SANTIAGO

MANILA, Philippines — For his martyrdom and contributions to democracy, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. deserves to be remembered not only by those who witnessed his courage during the dark days of martial law but also by the youth who are now enjoying the freedom he fought for, Malacañang has said.

“Thirty-one years ago, Ninoy Aquino came home to prove that the Filipino is worth dying for,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Thursday.

He said it was for this reason that the former senator was remembered as one of the “martyrs who stood for our national freedom and integrity.”

August 21, which marks the death anniversary of Aquino, is a national holiday in the Philippines.

Lacierda also called on the people, especially those who witnessed Aquino’s assassination, to remind others how his sacrifice had triggered and “sustained People Power efforts to bring back democracy through peaceful means.”

“Let us pledge to transmit his thoughts and the reasons he took his fateful stand to the generations who were not yet around in 1983, but who continue to enjoy the freedom of choice, thought, and expression that he fought and died for, and which characterizes our country today,” Lacierda said.

President Benigno Aquino III will visit his father’s grave and hear mass at the Manila Memorial Park on Thursday morning.

Aquino and the rest of his family are also expected to visit the grave of their grandfather Pepe Cojuangco.

PHILSTAR OPINION

Malacañang’s reversal SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 19, 2014 - 12:00am 0 20 googleplus0 0


Ernesto M. Maceda

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte has made another turn around. After confirming that President Aquino is now open to Charter change (Cha-cha), including term extension and clipping the powers of the Supreme Court (SC), she has now declared that the President is not supporting any moves in Congress to amend the Constitution.

“I think we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. What I remember the President say was that he’s thinking about it. He didn’t say, ‘Let’s do this tomorrow.’ He did not say anything about doing it tomorrow, doing it next week, doing it in the next few months,”Valte explained.

Valte also distanced the President from administration lawmakers in the House of Representatives campaigning to introduce amendments to the Constitution and to lift term limits to allow the President to run for a second term.

Party-list Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Ibara Gutierrez III urged President Aquino to clarify his stand on Cha-cha. They say the situation is now confused as Palace spokesmen have made statements contradicting President Aquino’s statement in a TV5 interview that he was now open to considering Cha-cha because of his conviction that there is a need to clip the powers of the SC.

One immediate effect of President Aquino’s reversal on his declared stand against Charter change is the clear admission that Mar Roxas is not winnable or even worse that Roxas may not be trusted to continue his reforms.

* Another effect of P-Noy’s “open” stand to pursue Cha-cha is the heavy flak and opposition to it, led by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) president Socrates Villegas, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Anti-Pork Groups.

Binay ready to face Noynoy

Vice President Jejomar Binay told media men in Legazpi that he is ready to run against President Aquino in the 2016 elections.

Binay who will run as the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate said he is ready to face the challenge of the presidency against any other candidate.

Binay reiterated his highest respect for President Aquino and expressed belief that the President will eventually ignore the manufactured clamor for political Charter change (Cha-cha) “coming from a clique within the Liberal Party (LP).”

Binay said the remaining two years of the Aquino administration should be better spent addressing the issues of poverty, the looming power crisis and other concerns of the people.

Binay further said, “I have declared even before the President’s statement the other day my opposition to Cha-cha, except only on the economic provisions. My position has not changed. I will continue to oppose political Charter change not only because of principle but because it will be destabilizing and divisive at the very moment that we need national unity.”

MRT another inefficient service

The MRT suffered 3 accidents in five days’ time. Earlier, it also suffered a series of stoppings and breakdowns resulting in passengers waiting for hours before a train is repaired or can continue its service.

It is clear that there is no efficient maintenance of the trains and its tracks, as well as its power supply.

It is the result of poor government oversight coupled with lax management.

The public is subsidizing the MRT to the tune of P4 billion annually, yet it isn’t getting the good and efficient service it deserves.

The MRT 3 is operated by a private firm, the Metro Rail Transit Corp., in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The DOTC has not done the best it could to address the deteriorating state of the MRT.

The Court of Appeals (CA) junked a petition by Metro Rail Transit Holdings II Inc. (MRTH II), parent company of Metro Rail Transit Corp, to stop the DOTC from buying 48 new light rail vehicles for the MRT3.

“It is clear that the project concerning the procurement, supply, and delivery of LRVs partakes of a national government infrastructure project geared towards the paramount objective of reducing the pitiful condition of our commuters,” the court said in its decision.

It is sad to say that the inefficiency of MRT service is yet another case of government’s inefficiency and failure to provide good service to hundreds of thousands of commuters.

Pangilinan out of order

Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan rejected National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Arthur Juan’s offer to resign amid accusations of extortion by a Bulacan-based rice trader.

That’s out of order. Juan is a presidential appointee. Only the President can accept or reject resignations.

Pangilinan has, in effect, contradicted the President.

The President has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the allegations of extortion charges against Juan and his assistant Patricia Galang by major rice trader Jomerito “Jojo” Soliman, who was charged with profiteering and violations of NFA rules.

Soliman submitted a sworn statement to the NBI.

Tidbits

President Aquino inaugurated a newly constructed Ninoy Aquino Bridge in Tuao, Cagayan, which cost P599 million; P145 million came from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fund.

Our sincere condolences to Marietta Primicias Goco on the passing of her beloved husband, former Solicitor General and Philippine Ambassador to Canada Raul Ilustre Goco.

FROM WIKIPEDIA

The oath of office of the President of the Philippines is as follows:
I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President (or Vice-President or Acting President) of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God." [In case of affirmation, last sentence will be omitted].

The oath from the Filipino language version of the constitution was used for the inauguration of Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Benigno Aquino III:
"Matimtim kong pinanunumpaan (o pinatotohanan) na tutuparin ko nang buong katapatan at sigasig ang aking mga tungkulin bilang Pangulo (o Pangalawang Pangulo o Nanunungkulang Pangulo) ng Pilipinas, pangangalagaan at ipagtatanggol ang kanyang Konstitusyon, ipatutupad ang mga batas nito, magiging makatarungan sa bawat tao, at itatalaga ang aking sarili sa paglilingkod sa Bansa. Kasihan nawa ako ng Diyos." (Kapag pagpapatotoo, ang huling pangungusap ay kakaltasin.)

The oath of office requirement for all public officers and employees of the government including every member of the armed forces is follows:
All public officers and employees of the government including every member of the armed forces shall, before entering upon the discharge of his duties, take an oath or affirmation to uphold and defend the Constitution; that he will bear true faith and allegiance to it; obey the laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; will well and faithfully discharge to the best of his ability the duties of the office or position upon which he is about to enter; and that he voluntarily assumes the obligation imposed by his oath of office, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

The oath of office for members of the Board of Tax Appeals is as follows:
I, (name) of (Residence), hereby elected/appointed to the position of (office), hereby solemnly swear that I will well and faithfully discharge to the best of my ability, the duties of my present position and of all others and may hereafter all, under the Republic of the Philippines, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I will obey laws, legal orders and decrees, promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Republic of the Philippines, and that I impose this obligation upon myself, voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So Help me God.

Filipino version:
Ako si________________ng______________, naihalal/naitalaga sa katungkulan bilang_____________, ay taimtim na nanunumpa na tutuparin ko ng buong husay at katapatan sa abot ng aking kakayahan, ang mga tungkulin ng aking kasalukuyan katungkulan at ng mga iba pang pagkaraan nito'y gagampanan ko sa ilalim ng Republika ng Pilipinas; na aking itataguyod at ipagtatanggol ang saligang batas/konstitusyon ng Pilipinas; na tunay na mananalig at tatalima ako rito; na susundin ko ang mga batas; mga kautusang legal at mga dikretong pinaiiral ng mga sadyang may kapangyarihan ng Republika ng Pilipinas, at kusa kong babalikatin ang pananagutang ito na walang anumang pasubali o hangaring umiwas. Kasihan nawa ako ng Diyos.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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