AQUINO ON THE POPE, GILAS AND THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE 

PHOTO: CASUAL TALK. President Benigno Aquino III entertains lighter questions after an extensive political interview. File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau. President Benigno Aquino III shares his thoughts on his 'idol,' his 'okay' love life, and why he can't get doused with a bucket of iced water even for a cause. After an extensive interview on politics, President Benigno Aquino III shared his thoughts on a wide range of topics from athletes to his love life, to a fundraising trend on social media.

In an interview on Bombo Radyo aired on Thursday, August 28, Aquino said Pope Francis serves as an inspiration to him, that a "cold" has kept him from accepting the ALS ice bucket challenge, and that he sometimes feels bad for Sarangani Representative and boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Here are the President’s views on lighter topics: On the ice bucket challenge --Huwag na muna nating pag-usapan dahil una kong ivo-volunteer si [Undersecretary] Rey Marfil. [Siya ang] una kong icha-challenge, lalo ngayon may sipon ako. (Let’s not talk about that because the first one I will volunteer is [Undersecretary] Rey Marfil. [He is the] first one I’ll challenge especially now that I have a cold.)

On Pope Francis  ---Baka naman sabihin dahil tinrain rin ako ng mga Heswita, at Heswita siya kaya idol ko siya. Pero ‘yung gusto nating makitang buhay na simbahan ay talagang isinasabuhay niyang simbahang nakatutok doon sa pangangailangan ng kanyang mga kasapi. Hindi…para bang walang pakialam sa nangyayari, at ‘yan ay talagang dinemonstrate ni Pope Francis in so many instances, kaya talagang very inspiring, naggegenerate ng intense hope na may rebirth ‘yung Catholic Church. (People might say that because I was trained by Jesuits, and he’s a Jesuit, that’s why he's my idol. But he really embodies the vibrant church we want to see, a church that is focused on the needs of its people, and not unmindful of its what's happening. And that’s what Pope Francis has really been demonstrating in so many instances. So its very inspiring, and generates intense hope in the rebirth of the Catholic Church.)

On world champion boxer, congressman, playing basketball coach, and entertainer Manny Pacquiao  *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: PNP chief won’t be fired Aquino defends Purisima, acknowledges presence of scalawags in uniform  

President Aquino yesterday acknowledged the presence of scalawags in the Philippine National Police (PNP) as he came to the defense of the country’s top cop, Director General Alan Purisima, who came under fire in the wake of the spate of crimes. The President said that while there are scalawags in the PNP, there are policemen who remain true to their mandate. “It is true that there are scalawags but who arrested those who are responsible for the ‘hulidap’ in EDSA? The policemen themselves, led by Gen. Purisima,” President Aquino said in his speech at the Agenda Setting Dialogue with Partners in Malacañang yesterday. “Those who investigated and ran after the suspects are also their fellow policemen,” he said. “So is it fair to ask for the resignation of Gen. Purisima who has been leading the PNP that is performing well? The truth is the PNP has already improved its public image,” Aquino said COPS LINKED TO CRIMES Calls for Purisima to resign as PNP chief started after 12 policemen from the Quezon City Police District-La Loma Police Station were implicated in the P2-million EDSA “hulidap” last September 1. *CONTINUE READING...

(ALSO) Traffic jams: Noy calls for sacrifice  

The process of applying a sticker that allows trucking firms to transport shipping containers out of the Port of Manila to their respective warehouses on a 24-hour basis until Sept. 15. takes 20 minutes, causing more traffic jams yesterday. EDD GUMBAN MANILA, Philippines - The sacrifices made by motorists and commuters amid the traffic nightmare in Metro Manila last week, due to the decongestion of Manila’s ports, would bear fruit in the long run, President Aquino said yesterday. “There is an impact of this congestion alone on the growth of our economy. We don’t want this thing to... exacerbate problems like, for instance, increasing prices for food because of the difficulty… on the logistics side,” Aquino told reporters in Davao City, where he attended the Philippine Business for Social Progress meeting and the launch of the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program. “Bear in mind that we can sacrifice somewhat here or have longer-term effects that everybody will suffer from because of this phenomenon that has happened,” he added.

The gridlock on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) last Friday left thousands of commuters from Meycauayan in Bulacan to Balintawak in Caloocan City stranded for up to six hours. The traffic jam was blamed on the “one truck lane policy” implemented by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The President said the public should also understand that the congestion at Manila’s ports was a result of the decrease in the number of cargo trucks allowed to leave port from 5,000 to less than 3,000 due to the truck ban imposed by the city. Aquino said even the M4 rifles for the Armed Forces of the Philippines were stuck in Singapore because of port congestion. “Now, we were clearly on track to bring the situation to normal levels,” he said, adding that the shipping containers have to be moved out fast because of the coming holiday season. “Everything and anything that has been thought of that can address these congestion problems is being done,” he said.

He vowed to personally look into the traffic situation, particularly on the NLEX, which became a virtual parking lot on Friday. “I don’t want to rely on the reports of anyone. I want to see the videos that were captured by the CCTV (closed-circuit television) to determine exactly where,” Aquino said. 1,003 trucks get passes --*READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy blames GMA for MRT mess   

PHOTO ; Gloria Macapagal Arroyo --President Aquino blamed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo again yesterday, this time for the problems concerning the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT). “There is a problem. But it is a problem that should have less problems attached to it, if certain things were done before we took over,” he said in a chance interview at the SM Mall in Davao City.

The President also noted that the light rail systems are “really old.” The LRT Line 1, which runs from Baclaran to Monumento, was built sometime in 1981 while MRT Line 3 (MRT-3) along EDSA was constructed in the mid-90s. Aquino said the MRT 3 was originally built for 300,000 commuters, but as many as 500,000 are now using it on a daily basis. He assured the public that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is “on top of the situation” and steps are being undertaken to address the problems. He did not respond when asked how long will MRT and LRT commuters have to bear with the glitches in train operations, saying he still has to hold a meeting with DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy defense of Drilon’s Iloilo pet project quizzed  

President Aquino’s quick defense of Senate President Franklin Drilon amid the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) controversy has prompted a partylist representative to ask if the Chief Executive himself is involved in the allegedly overpriced project. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told the media yesteday that Aquino “still trusts” Drilon despite the recent issues surrounding the ICC. “We have to remember that part of the funds used for the ICC came from Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The President’s quick defense of Drilon’s pet project is thus highly suspicious. So we ask: ‘Has the President personally benefited from this possibly overpriced project? In my view, that’s not far from happening,” Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said. The militant lawmaker earlier revealed that he is seeking an investigation into the ICC and other government projects undertaken by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.(HCC), which is also the contractor for the controversial Makati parking building.In House Resolution 1466, Ridon said the P700-million ICC is possibly overpriced, and may even be more expensive – on a per square meter valuation – than the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.

Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco, who filed plunder charges against Aquino, Drilon and other government officials, accused the President, through the DAP and the Senate president, through his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), of funding the alleged overpriced Iloilo project. He claimed that the bare structure of the convention center alone costs P611.5 million. “There is a visible, clear and undeniable overprice of P95,562 per square meter, of P611,597,000 for all of 6,400 square meters on the cost of the skeletal structure alone, of by 6,400 percent,” Syjuco alleged in his complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman last September 8. Drilon allocated P200 million of his 2013 PDAF for the construction of the ICC.  Other sources of funds for the ICC include the P200-million from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and another P200 million from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). On July 8, 2014, Drilon announced that another P100 million has been infused to the ICC project through DAP.

The project was publicly launched in 2012, and construction is being hastened for it to be finished in time for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in 2015. *READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Times Opinion: Why Abad should face the Senate  

If only to dispel the impression that he is channeling US president Richard Nixon and turning the DAP mess into his own Watergate, President Benigno Aquino 3rd should be wary of invoking “executive privilege” in preventing Budget Secretary Butch Abad from facing the Senate and answering questions about the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the illegal expenditure of P140-billion of the people’s money.

Nixon’s use of executive privilege did not save his presidency; in the end he had to allow his White House legal counsel John Dean to testify in the Senate; his chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and presidential assistant John Ehrlichman were hauled to court and convicted on charges of obstruction of justice. Nixon was ordered by no less than the US Supreme Court to surrender his White House tapes to the special committee formed to investigate Watergate. In the end, Nixon, facing certain impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, opted to resign from the presidency. He would instead strive to win vindication in the following decade by writing his memoirs and other books.

Aquino will make the trajectory toward resignation more certain by sticking stubbornly to a policy of executive secrecy and executive privilege. No administration omerta (conspiracy of silence) on DAP can save the DAP and the Aquino presidency. Senate President Franklin Drilon, no matter how much he tries, will not be able to stop the Senate from calling Abad back to the witness chair. His lawyering for Abad, in the earlier Senate moro-moro, will not work this time. Conscience and the weight of his office (third in line to succeed to the presidency in case of vacancy) will finally weigh on him. In what follows, I discuss the eerie Nixon parallel and its important lessons for Philippine presidential politics.

Eerily replicating Nixon --Whether by design or instinct, Aquino is replicating many of Nixon’s missteps in Watergate, in his own handling of the DAP scandal. There’s a new word, “channeling,” that more vividly describes how Nixon is being reincarnated by Aquino. It comes from New Age beliefs that denote the process whereby a person becomes a conduit for a deceased person, who imparts information about a previous life. \

Aquino began the channeling on October 30 last year when he went on national television to publicly declare that he was “not a thief” in an attempt to head off the growing corruption scandal surrounding DAP, PDAF, and the President’s Social Fund (PSF). Specifically, Aquino declared: “The issue here is theft. I did not steal….I have never stolen. I am not a thief. I am the one who goes after thieves.” Aquino’s declaration, perhaps on the advice of his speechwriter, consciously echoed Nixon’s declaration, “I am not a crook,” at a news conference on November 17, 1973.* READ MORE...


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Aquino on the Pope, Gilas, and the ice bucket challenge


CASUAL TALK. President Benigno Aquino III entertains lighter questions after an extensive political interview. File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (RAPPLER.COM) Natashya Gutierrez - President Benigno Aquino III shares his thoughts on his 'idol,' his 'okay' love life, and why he can't get doused with a bucket of iced water even for a cause

After an extensive interview on politics, President Benigno Aquino III shared his thoughts on a wide range of topics from athletes to his love life, to a fundraising trend on social media.

In an interview on Bombo Radyo aired on Thursday, August 28, Aquino said Pope Francis serves as an inspiration to him, that a "cold" has kept him from accepting the ALS ice bucket challenge, and that he sometimes feels bad for Sarangani Representative and boxing champ Manny Pacquiao.

Here are the President’s views on lighter topics:

On the ice bucket challenge

Huwag na muna nating pag-usapan dahil una kong ivo-volunteer si [Undersecretary] Rey Marfil. [Siya ang] una kong icha-challenge, lalo ngayon may sipon ako.

(Let’s not talk about that because the first one I will volunteer is [Undersecretary] Rey Marfil. [He is the] first one I’ll challenge especially now that I have a cold.)

On Pope Francis

Baka naman sabihin dahil tinrain rin ako ng mga Heswita, at Heswita siya kaya idol ko siya. Pero ‘yung gusto nating makitang buhay na simbahan ay talagang isinasabuhay niyang simbahang nakatutok doon sa pangangailangan ng kanyang mga kasapi. Hindi…para bang walang pakialam sa nangyayari, at ‘yan ay talagang dinemonstrate ni Pope Francis in so many instances, kaya talagang very inspiring, naggegenerate ng intense hope na may rebirth ‘yung Catholic Church.

(People might say that because I was trained by Jesuits, and he’s a Jesuit, that’s why he's my idol. But he really embodies the vibrant church we want to see, a church that is focused on the needs of its people, and not unmindful of its what's happening. And that’s what Pope Francis has really been demonstrating in so many instances. So its very inspiring, and generates intense hope in the rebirth of the Catholic Church.)

On world champion boxer, congressman, playing basketball coach, and entertainer Manny Pacquiao

* May mga araw naaawa ako sa kanya sa dami nang payo niyang magkasalungat na kailangang harapin. Baka naco-confuse na rin ‘yung tao kung sino bang dapat kausapin; kung sino ba ang dapat pakinggan. Pero sana talagang nasa edad na siya na ma-discern niya kung sino ba talagang nagbibigay ng tamang payo sa kanya.

(There are days when I feel bad for him because of the many contradicting advice he receives. He might be confused as to who to talk to, who he should listen to. But I hope that he’s of the age where he can discern who is giving him the right advice.)

On Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

Mabigat ang tungkulin. Maliwanag na matagal ang kanyang pagbubuhat ng responsibilidad na ayusin ‘yung buong Hudikatura.

(She has a heavy duty. It’s clear that she will have to carry the responsibility of reforming the judiciary for a long time.)

On Gilas Pilipinas competing at the FIBA World Cup 2014

Magandang pagkakataon para ipakita ‘yung talento ng Pilipino, ‘yung ugali natin na hindi tayo pasukong tao. ‘Yung puso, ‘yung ambisyon, at ‘yung pagsusumikap tungo doon sa ambisyon na ‘yon. Hindi, ‘di ba, fed with a silver spoon. Hindi. Talagang pinagsumikapan natin at ‘yon sana makita natin sa performance ng Gilas.

(It’s a good chance to showcase Filipino talent, our attitude that we don't give up. The heart, the ambition, and the resolve towards that ambition – not fed to with a silver spoon; no. We really strive hard [to succeed] and I hope that’s we see in Gilas’ performance.)

On his love life

Ayos naman. Maliwanag na hindi ‘yon ang priority natin ngayon. (It’s okay. It’s clear that’s not our priority right now.) – Rappler.com

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

PNP chief won’t be fired Aquino defends Purisima, acknowledges presence of scalawags in uniform by Madel Sabater - Namit September 13, 2014 Share this:


Director General Alan Purisima

President Aquino yesterday acknowledged the presence of scalawags in the Philippine National Police (PNP) as he came to the defense of the country’s top cop, Director General Alan Purisima, who came under fire in the wake of the spate of crimes.

The President said that while there are scalawags in the PNP, there are policemen who remain true to their mandate.

“It is true that there are scalawags but who arrested those who are responsible for the ‘hulidap’ in EDSA? The policemen themselves, led by Gen. Purisima,” President Aquino said in his speech at the Agenda Setting Dialogue with Partners in Malacañang yesterday.

“Those who investigated and ran after the suspects are also their fellow policemen,” he said.

“So is it fair to ask for the resignation of Gen. Purisima who has been leading the PNP that is performing well? The truth is the PNP has already improved its public image,” Aquino said

COPS LINKED TO CRIMES

Calls for Purisima to resign as PNP chief started after 12 policemen from the Quezon City Police District-La Loma Police Station were implicated in the P2-million EDSA “hulidap” last September 1.

* On that same day, Police Officer 2 Domino Alipio of the Anda Police Station in Pangasinan ran amuck, killing four teachers and wounding four others in Lingayen.

And only last Thursday, two policemen from the Eastern Police District – Police Officer 3 Arnel Roque and Police Officer 1 Roan Garcia were relieved over their alleged involvement in kidnapping and other criminal offenses.

PNP ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Despite these developments, President Aquino defended Purisima from criticisms, citing the big improvement of the PNP under his watch.

In his speech in Malacañang, Aquino noted the PNP’s accomplishments under the leadership of Purisima. The President cited the arrest of the suspects in high profile cases such as that on the slay of international car race driver Enzo Pastor; the killing of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan, Mayor Ernesto Balolong; the killing of hotel chain owner Richard King, as well as the arrest of fugitives like retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

BALANCED NEWS

In the same speech, the President also called on the media to practice balanced reporting of crimes and crimes solved.

“I feel dismayed when we see crime stories in the headlines and crimes solved landing on a small space on page 20,” Aquino said.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask for balanced reporting on crimes,” he added.

REVIEW POLICE TRAINING

With the spate of criminal activities involving policemen, detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada called on fellow lawmakers to review the existing set up of the formal police training program to determine if this has something to do with the involvement of some policemen in high-profile crimes.

Estrada said Congress should look into the current setup of the formal training program for the uniformed personnel where the academy is administered by another institution outside the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Under Republic Act 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) is run by the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC).

Estrada is pushing for the transfer of administrative supervision and operations control of the PNPA, as well as the Philippine National Training Institute (PNTI), and the National Police College (NPC), from the PPSC to the PNP.

The PPSC is primarily considered the premier educational institution for the training, human resource development and continuing education of all personnel of the PNP, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

“As the PNP already acknowledged, they are now looking into better training and values formation programs,” Estrada said.

Estrada added that the cases of policemen-cum-criminals and the pervasive belief of escalating criminality and disorder could be symptoms of an ineffective police academy setup.

He has filed Senate Bill No. 131 for this purpose and which is among his priority measures.

REPORT CRIMES

Meanwhile, Director Carmelo E. Valmoria, National Capital Regional Police Office director, called on the public not to just make accusations, but make a formal complaint and file cases before the court.

Valmoria said it’s easy to accuse policemen of wrongdoing but he urged complainants to execute an affidavit and make a formal complaint. (With reports from Hannah L. Torregoza and Francis T. Wakefield)

FROM PHILSTAR

Traffic jams: Noy calls for sacrifice By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 9, 2014 - 12:00am 7 165 googleplus0 0


The process of applying a sticker that allows trucking firms to transport shipping containers out of the Port of Manila to their respective warehouses on a 24-hour basis until Sept. 15. takes 20 minutes, causing more traffic jams yesterday. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines - The sacrifices made by motorists and commuters amid the traffic nightmare in Metro Manila last week, due to the decongestion of Manila’s ports, would bear fruit in the long run, President Aquino said yesterday.

“There is an impact of this congestion alone on the growth of our economy. We don’t want this thing to... exacerbate problems like, for instance, increasing prices for food because of the difficulty… on the logistics side,” Aquino told reporters in Davao City, where he attended the Philippine Business for Social Progress meeting and the launch of the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program.

“Bear in mind that we can sacrifice somewhat here or have longer-term effects that everybody will suffer from because of this phenomenon that has happened,” he added.

The gridlock on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) last Friday left thousands of commuters from Meycauayan in Bulacan to Balintawak in Caloocan City stranded for up to six hours. The traffic jam was blamed on the “one truck lane policy” implemented by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The President said the public should also understand that the congestion at Manila’s ports was a result of the decrease in the number of cargo trucks allowed to leave port from 5,000 to less than 3,000 due to the truck ban imposed by the city.

Aquino said even the M4 rifles for the Armed Forces of the Philippines were stuck in Singapore because of port congestion.

“Now, we were clearly on track to bring the situation to normal levels,” he said, adding that the shipping containers have to be moved out fast because of the coming holiday season.

“Everything and anything that has been thought of that can address these congestion problems is being done,” he said.

He vowed to personally look into the traffic situation, particularly on the NLEX, which became a virtual parking lot on Friday.

“I don’t want to rely on the reports of anyone. I want to see the videos that were captured by the CCTV (closed-circuit television) to determine exactly where,” Aquino said.

1,003 trucks get passes

* Meanwhile, a total of 1,003 cargo trucks have availed of the “Last Mile” truck ban pass given by the MMDA for the first week of its implementation.

MMDA assistant general manager for operations Emerson Carlos said the tagging of trucks that will be allowed to pass through Metro Manila roads even during truck ban hours, except on EDSA, ended at noon yesterday.

Only cargo trucks with “Special Truck Lane Pass” stickers and their rear bumpers painted with “LASMAYL” are allowed to transport shipping containers out of the Port of Manila to their respective warehouses on a 24-hour basis until Sept. 15.

Another sticker will be issued for trucks intending to use the Last Mile Truck Route from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22.

The MMDA said an estimated 20,000 shipping containers are still inside the Port of Manila.

The MMDA earlier advised motorists to brace for heavy traffic in the next two weeks with the implementation of Last Mile Truck Route as part of a plan to decongest the Port of Manila of container vans.

The term last mile is used in supply chain management and transport planning to describe the movement of people and goods from a transport hub to a final destination in the area.

Under the Last Mile Truck Routes scheme, container trucks with stickers will also not be allowed to park along any Metro Manila road or street. According to the MMDA, any truck issued with the “last mile truck routes” sticker that caught on EDSA, España, Ortigas, Katipunan, Recto and Taft Avenue during the truck ban hours will be apprehended with the owners to pay the fine of P5,000. The MMDA will also recommend the blacklisting of the trucking company.

Designated as truck routes under the scheme include A. Bonifacio Avenue coming from NLEX, passing through C-3 and Caloocan, straight to Road 10 to Manila’s ports. Trucks coming from CAVITEX may go straight on Roxas Boulevard to the port area.

Meanwhile, trucks coming from Southern Luzon may pass through Osmeña Highway and Quirino Avenue to Roxas Boulevard.

15-day deadline

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada gave truckers 15 days to unload their containers in the ports of Manila.

He told The STAR the city government is implementing the Last Mile Route to allow cargo trucks to pass through Manila even during truck ban hours.

“We just want them to unload their products and ease traffic in Manila,” he said.

Estrada said some 20,000 trucks entering the city every day are causing the monstrous traffic jams, adding that designating Batangas and Subic as extension ports should have been long implemented.

“I’m finding ways to ease traffic in Manila for the greater good of the greatest number of people. The students, teachers and employees of various government and private entities in Manila are supportive of our programs to ease traffic in the city,” he said.

Reclaim road space

Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, who also heads the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion, said that they would ask the MMDA to ask concerned local government units to “reclaim road space” occupied by illegal settlers, used as car repair shops, turned into big parking lots, or as garbage dumps to ease traffic.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said they would also suspend road construction along C3 while decongestion at Manila’s ports is ongoing.

“Our appeal is that they return the roadways especially those roads that have already been paved from R-10, from the Port Area of Manila to the Intramuros Golf Course,” he said. .– With Jose Rodel Clapano, Mike Frialde, Evelyn Macairan, Edith Regalado

Noy blames GMA for MRT mess By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 9, 2014 - 12:00am 91 1819 googleplus0 0


Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino blamed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo again yesterday, this time for the problems concerning the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT).

“There is a problem. But it is a problem that should have less problems attached to it, if certain things were done before we took over,” he said in a chance interview at the SM Mall in Davao City.

The President also noted that the light rail systems are “really old.”

The LRT Line 1, which runs from Baclaran to Monumento, was built sometime in 1981 while MRT Line 3 (MRT-3) along EDSA was constructed in the mid-90s.

Aquino said the MRT 3 was originally built for 300,000 commuters, but as many as 500,000 are now using it on a daily basis.

He assured the public that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is “on top of the situation” and steps are being undertaken to address the problems.

He did not respond when asked how long will MRT and LRT commuters have to bear with the glitches in train operations, saying he still has to hold a meeting with DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya.

* He lamented that the efforts of his administration to address the problems by purchasing more coaches were only met with criticism.

“So sabi ko nga, hahabaan niyo iyung franchise ninyo, tataasan natin iyung rate… (but) the increased rates will be met by a lot of resistance by the commuting public,” he said, lamenting that extended franchises have a trade-off of higher fares.

“We are in government, can purchase it, why shouldn’t government purchase it? Tapos nung nagka-purchase, kung anu-anong isyu na naman iyung lumabas na influence peddling, etc,” he added.

P10 B to improve MRT operations

Meanwhile, Abaya said a total of 11 projects worth around P10 billion are underway to improve the operations of MRT-3.

He said the biggest project is the P3.76-billion MRT-3 capacity expansion project involving the acquisition of 48 brand new trains that was awarded to CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. of China.

Abaya said the project would increase the capacity of MRT-3 to 800,000 per day.

With the new trains, he said the waiting time for the arrival of trains for each station would be shortened to 2.5 minutes from the current waiting time of 4.5 minutes.

He said the capacity of MRT-3 would increase by at least 13 percent with the delivery of 10 to 13 brand new trains next year.

He said three to four brand new trains would be delivered per month starting September next year.

P2.2-B maintenance contract

Abaya said a three-year maintenance contract worth P2.2 billion would ensure that the mass transit system would operate under safe running conditions and maintain cost at a minimum level. The one-year contract of Autre Potre Technique (APT) Global that expired on Sept. 5 is extended on a monthly basis at P57 million.

The DOTC also earmarked P1.15 billion for the rehabilitation of 28 old trains of the MRT-3 and another P94.5 million to replace train engine motors.

The DOTC is also spending P870 million to upgrade the ancillary systems, including the upgrading of power substation, depot facilities for parking, construction of North Avenue turnback and Taft Avenue pocket track extension to be able to integrate the 48 brand new trains.

Another P185 million would be used to upgrade the signaling system and computer software to improve the reliability of MRT-3.

The government has also allocated P119.5 million to replace 500 pieces of old rail tracks to maximize the speed of light rail vehicles, which are currently limited to 40 kilometers per hour after a freak accident injured about 36 passengers on Aug. 13.

Abaya said P110 million would be spent to replace and upgrade the entire radio communication system for improved coordination between train operators and control center supervisors.

He said P50 million would be used to replace obsolete elevators and escalators to accommodate passengers especially persons with disabilities, pregnant women and senior citizens.

He said the government is likewise spending P13.7 million to construct an additional footbridge at the North Ave. station to accommodate passenger queues.

The AF Consortium, led by infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and conglomerate Ayala Corp., is spending P1.09 billion to establish the automated fare collection system to be fully operational by September next year.– With Lawrence Agcaoili, Edu Punay

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Noy defense of Drilon’s Iloilo pet project quizzed Written by Charlie V. Manalo Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00


DRILON, AQUINO

President Aquino’s quick defense of Senate President Franklin Drilon amid the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) controversy has prompted a partylist representative to ask if the Chief Executive himself is involved in the allegedly overpriced project.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told the media yesteday that Aquino “still trusts” Drilon despite the recent issues surrounding the ICC.

“We have to remember that part of the funds used for the ICC came from Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The President’s quick defense of Drilon’s pet project is thus highly suspicious. So we ask: ‘Has the President personally benefited from this possibly overpriced project? In my view, that’s not far from happening,” Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said.

The militant lawmaker earlier revealed that he is seeking an investigation into the ICC and other government projects undertaken by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.(HCC), which is also the contractor for the controversial Makati parking building.

In House Resolution 1466, Ridon said the P700-million ICC is possibly overpriced, and may even be more expensive – on a per square meter valuation – than the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.

Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco, who filed plunder charges against Aquino, Drilon and other government officials, accused the President, through the DAP and the Senate president, through his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), of funding the alleged overpriced Iloilo project.

He claimed that the bare structure of the convention center alone costs P611.5 million.

“There is a visible, clear and undeniable overprice of P95,562 per square meter, of P611,597,000 for all of 6,400 square meters on the cost of the skeletal structure alone, of by 6,400 percent,” Syjuco alleged in his complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman last September 8.

Drilon allocated P200 million of his 2013 PDAF for the construction of the ICC.

Other sources of funds for the ICC include the P200-million from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and another P200 million from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

On July 8, 2014, Drilon announced that another P100 million has been infused to the ICC project through DAP.
The project was publicly launched in 2012, and construction is being hastened for it to be finished in time for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in 2015.

* Iloilo was said to have been preselected by the organizing committee of Apec to host two of the 20 meetings that will be held in the country in 2015.

“We have to remember that DAP funds can only be tapped if there is approval from the President. If Drilon – who is one of the highest ranking members of the Liberal Party – was able to clinch DAP funds for the ICC, then it is indeed possible that Aquino is personally entangled in this unfolding scandal,” Ridon noted.

“The investigation we are seeking may possibly uncover the contract-rigging mafia inside government. I am thankful that colleagues in the Senate, including Sen. (Miriam) Santiago, are supporting this move. The crusade for accountability must not stop, even if it comes knocking at the doors of Malacañang,” he stressed.

Drilon has denied Ridon’s allegations as he accused the militant lawmaker of using erroneous data to make false charges against the Iloilo Convention Center Project.

He stressed the convention center should not be compared to the Makati parking building just because they had been handled by the same contractor.

MANILA TIMES OPINION

Why Abad should face the Senate September 8, 2014 11:02 pm by YEN MAKABENTA


YEN MAKABENTA


If only to dispel the impression that he is channeling US president Richard Nixon and turning the DAP mess into his own Watergate, President Benigno Aquino 3rd should be wary of invoking “executive privilege” in preventing Budget Secretary Butch Abad from facing the Senate and answering questions about the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the illegal expenditure of P140-billion of the people’s money.

Nixon’s use of executive privilege did not save his presidency; in the end he had to allow his White House legal counsel John Dean to testify in the Senate; his chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and presidential assistant John Ehrlichman were hauled to court and convicted on charges of obstruction of justice. Nixon was ordered by no less than the US Supreme Court to surrender his White House tapes to the special committee formed to investigate Watergate.

In the end, Nixon, facing certain impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, opted to resign from the presidency. He would instead strive to win vindication in the following decade by writing his memoirs and other books.

Aquino will make the trajectory toward resignation more certain by sticking stubbornly to a policy of executive secrecy and executive privilege.

No administration omerta (conspiracy of silence) on DAP can save the DAP and the Aquino presidency.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, no matter how much he tries, will not be able to stop the Senate from calling Abad back to the witness chair. His lawyering for Abad, in the earlier Senate moro-moro, will not work this time.

Conscience and the weight of his office (third in line to succeed to the presidency in case of vacancy) will finally weigh on him.

In what follows, I discuss the eerie Nixon parallel and its important lessons for Philippine presidential politics.

Eerily replicating NIxon

Whether by design or instinct, Aquino is replicating many of Nixon’s missteps in Watergate, in his own handling of the DAP scandal.

There’s a new word, “channeling,” that more vividly describes how Nixon is being reincarnated by Aquino. It comes from New Age beliefs that denote the process whereby a person becomes a conduit for a deceased person, who imparts information about a previous life.

Aquino began the channeling on October 30 last year when he went on national television to publicly declare that he was “not a thief” in an attempt to head off the growing corruption scandal surrounding DAP, PDAF, and the President’s Social Fund (PSF).

Specifically, Aquino declared: “The issue here is theft. I did not steal….I have never stolen. I am not a thief. I am the one who goes after thieves.”

Aquino’s declaration, perhaps on the advice of his speechwriter, consciously echoed Nixon’s declaration, “I am not a crook,” at a news conference on November 17, 1973.

* In an hour-long televised question-and-answer session with 400 Associated Press managing editors, President Nixon vigorously defended his record in the Watergate case and said he had never profited from his public service.

His exact words were: “I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice…People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

From executive privilege to resignation

The following chronology of events shows how Nixon’s initial decision to invoke executive privilege progressively deteriorated to an ever-losing position, and eventually to his resignation from the US presidency.

February 27, 1973: Nixon tells White House counsel John Dean, he intends to use executive privilege to keep aides, Haldeman and Ehrlichman, from testifying before the Senate.

March 2, 1973: Nixon invokes executive privilege in preventing John Dean from testifying at the confirmation hearings of FBI director L. Patrick Gray. “No president could ever agree to allow the counsel to the president to go down and testify before a committee,” Nixon says.

May 22, 1973: Nixon says, No executive privilege claims will be made in regard to the Watergate investigations. President Nixon promises that he will not use the claim of executive privilege to impede testimony or the presentation of evidence: “Executive privilege will not be invoked as to any testimony concerning possible criminal conduct or discussions of possible criminal conduct, in the matters presently under investigation, including the Watergate affair, and the alleged cover-up.” It is with this understanding that former White House counsel John Dean would testify before the Senate Watergate Committee the following month.

July 7, 1973: Nixon invokes executive privilege in refusing to testify or provide documents.

July 23-26, 1973: Documents, tapes subpoenaed by Watergate investigators; Nixon refuses to comply.

Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox and the Senate Watergate Committee demand that President Nixon hand over a selection of presidential documents and the secret White House tapes. Nixon refuses to hand over any of the requested material. He invokes executive privilege.

August 9, 1973: Watergate Committee files suit against Nixon for refusing to comply with subpoena.

August 15, 1973: Nixon delivers second Watergate Address to Nation. He says that the Senate investigation has focused more on trying to “implicate the president personally in the illegal activities that took place,” and reminds listeners that he has already taken “full responsibility” for the “abuses [that] occurred during my administration.” But in light of the increasing evidence being revealed about the Watergate conspiracy, Nixon’s speech is later proven to be a compilation of lies, half-truths, justifications, and evasions.

Nixon concludes his address, saying that it is time to put Watergate behind us, to abandon this “continued, backward-looking obsession with Watergate. The time has come for the rest of us to get on with the urgent business of our nation.”

August 29, 1973: Judge Sirica orders Nixon to hand over tapes. Nixon refuses, but he will lose in court.

July 24, 1974. The issue of access to the tapes has gone to the Supreme Court. On July 24, 1974 the Court rules unanimously that claims of executive privilege over the tapes were void. It orders the president to release them to the special prosecutor. On July 30, 1974, President Nixon complied with the order and released the subpoenaed tapes.

August 5, 1974. The White House released a previously unknown audio tape from June 23, 1972. Recorded only a few days after the break-in, it documented the initial stages of the coverup: it revealed Nixon and Haldeman meeting in the Oval Office and formulating a plan to block investigations by having the CIA falsely claim to the FBI that national security was involved.

The release of the “smoking gun” tape destroyed Nixon politically. The 10 congressmen who voted against all three articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee announced they would all support impeachment when the vote was taken in the full House.

August 7, 1974. Senators Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott and Congressman John Jacob Rhodes met with Nixon in the Oval Office and told him that his support in Congress had all but disappeared. Realizing that he had no chance of staying in office, Nixon decided to resign. In a nationally televised address from the Oval Office on the evening of August 8, 1974, the president announced his resignation: August 9, 1974. President Nixon and his family leave the White House.

Abad in the Senate

Will Aquino follow the footsteps of Richard Nixon?

Will Miriam’s Question Hour with Abad take place? Or will the administration head it off by making her an offer she cannot refuse?

Will the senators who do not carry the stench of DAP with them join Santiago in questioning Abad?

As I write this piece, there’s still no official word that Senator Santiago has already filed her resolution for the Senate to call Abad to appear in the chamber for a Question Hour session.

The truth is it is Abad and Aquino who will be presented a summons that they cannot refuse. President Nixon tried everything to prevent his men from testifying in the Senate to no avail. Most of the aides wound up in court and in jail. The White House counsel had to testify anyway. And the subpoenaed tapes and documents had to be turned over.

The promise of this session with Abad is that Abad will be interrogated by senators who are without the stench of DAP hovering over them, and who are not beholden to Abad. Senators will not be embarrassed to ask him tough questions about the DAP.

There will be a sea change and a breath of fresh air, when Trillanes, Cayetano and Pimentel go to the sidelines when this session takes place.

The media will be there in full force. The gallery will be full.

Some readers will like the parallels and lessons I have drawn with the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Some will relish them hoping that this Filipino political drama will end in a similar way: with the resignation of a failed president.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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