HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK ...

OPPOSITION AND ADMIN SOLONS GLAD NOY WON'T SEEK 2nd TERM 

Opposition and administration lawmakers have readily welcomed the pronouncement of President Aquino that he is not seeking reelection in 2016. Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (photo) said the President is correct in stating that efforts by some quarters to have a presidential second term is not the “right solution” toward economic growth.
“I concur with the President that a second term may create political turmoil and divisiveness, and is counter-productive in attaining economic development,” he added.
“I hope the group that calls itself “More 2 Come” headed by a certain Melvin Matibag, RJ Echiverri and several individuals behind these efforts for a second term will now refrain from campaigning,” Ejercito stressed. He said people in the administration and their supporters who are advocating term extension should bear in mind that the parents of President Aquino themselves — the late President Corazon Aquino and Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. — were against presidential term extensions. “Our President always listens to his bosses. He looks at the survey results.

He acts based on the interest of the people and he found that term extension is divisive,” Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, said. In a forum with business executives in Makati City last Tuesday, Aquino said having six more years in office was not “the right solution” to sustain the economic growth achieved under his leadership. The President instead urged the business leaders to choose the next leader “who not only says the right things but who you can trust to deliver the same.” The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay also said he is glad that Aquino has already ruled out seeking a second term. “We are glad that the President has reaffirmed his deference to his late mother’s Freedom Constitution by categorically ruling out the Charter change that would have allowed him to seek a second term,” Binay’s spokesman for political affairs Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla said in a statement. Sen. Grace Poe said she has no doubt that the President would listen to his bosses to keep the legacy of his parents unblemished despite efforts of some administration allies to persuade the President to run again in 2016. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy finally signs P167.9-B Yolanda rehab master plan 

Almost a year after super-typhoon Yolanda left a wide swath of death and destruction in the country, President Aquino has finally approved the P167.9-billion rehabilitation master plan for storm-hit communities. The Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) aims to “build back better” the resettlement, infrastructure, livelihood, and social services in 171 cities and municipalities ravaged by the powerful typhoon, according to Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. “Upon the recommendation of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) and the favorable endorsement of the National Economic and Development Authority, the President approved yesterday, October 29. 2014, the 8,000-page Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, which outlines the National Government’s commitment to implement over 25,000 rehabilitation and recovery specific plans and programs and activities (PPAs),” Coloma said.

“According to PARR Secretary Panfilo Lacson, these PPAs are envisioned to bring forth the recovery of the 171 affected cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions (collectively known as the ‘Yolanda corridor’) based on the principle of ‘build-back-better’ by focusing on long-term, sustainable efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen capacities of communities to cope with future hazard events,” he added. P75.67B FOR RESETTLEMENT Under the post-Yolanda rehabilitation plan, the resettlement projects for the Yolanda victims will take the biggest slice of the proposed budget at P75.67 billion. Coloma said the government aims to restore settlements and basic community facilities and services that are more resilient to hazard events. Infrastructure development will require P35.14 billion in order to sustain economic and social activities in the affected areas, according Coloma. At least P30.6 billion will be set aside for livelihood and continuity of economic activities and business while P26.40 billion for social services in the disaster-hit communities. Since November, 2013, Coloma said, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already released a P51.98 billion from the national budget for the rehabilitation plan in the Yolanda corridor. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino inspects ports, terminals ahead of All Saints’ Day  

OCT 31 ---PHOTO: Aquino gives away rubber wrist bands to the province-bound passengers at a bus terminal along Buendia Avenue, Makati. MATIKAS SANTOS/INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines–President Benigno Aquino III was happy with the security preparations in major passenger terminals as he conducted an inspection Friday afternoon ahead of the expected exodus of people going to the provinces to visit their dead on All Saints’ Day. “[Aquino] has seen that the preparations have been made to ensure the safe and comfortable travel of our countrymen going to their home towns,” Presidential spokesman Hermino Coloma told reporters in an ambush interview at a bus terminal in Pasay city. Aquino first inspected the passenger terminal complex in Manila North Harbor and boarded a Visayas-bound vessel. Coloma said that Aquino had an emergency exit lane cleared because passengers’ luggage had blocked it.

Aquino was happy with the new facility which allows travelers to sit in the spacious air-conditioned pre-departure area. “There are no overcrowded areas and everyone is comfortable,” Coloma said. Aquino also inspected the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and made sure that the x-ray machines were functioning. “He gave instructions for the deployment of more K-9 units as additional precaution and security measure,” Coloma said. “Overall, the President was happy with what he saw,” he said. During the inspection at the Terminal, Aquino ate Arroz Caldo inside a new lounge, which caused a slight delay in his inspection schedule, Coloma said. Aquino’s last inspection was at two bus terminals at the Buendia-Taft intersection where he boarded the buses to check on the passengers.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: No fireworks seen in Noy’s APEC attendance in China; Noy will not have bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping, but will meet Latin American leaders    

No fireworks are expected when President Aquino visits China for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next month. But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) believes it will be the perfect forum to discuss business and investments, and show that the Philippines’ relations with China go beyond the West Philippine Sea dispute. In a press briefing yesterday, DFA Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Laura del Rosario said the President and his Cabinet economic cluster would seize the opportunity to market the country as an investment destination. Del Rosario said the country’s territorial row with China is not on the agenda. “I just read the agenda. The agenda is like shaping the future through Asia Pacific economic partners, so it’s really all economic,” she said. She said tourist arrivals from China had increased despite the sea dispute.

Del Rosario said this year’s APEC would be “a bit more exciting for us” because the Philippines would host the forum in 2015. The President would talk before chief executive officers in the region. He will also have a dialogue with leaders of the APEC Business Advisory Council on economic reform for competitive growth. “For the APEC leaders’ meeting, we are going to talk about advancing regional economic integration, which will go into discussion of free trade arrangements in the Asia Pacific,” Del Rosario said. Aquino will not have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping but will meet with Latin American leaders. The President will leave for Beijing on Nov. 9 and leave on Nov. 11 for Myanmar to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit until Nov. 12. Del Rosario said Latin American countries were also looking for investment areas. Meanwhile, the prevailing security development in the West Philippine Sea, specifically within the country’s Kalayaan Island Group, is likely to derail the planned offshore oil and gas exploration in Palawan by 2016. * READ MORE...

ALSO On 2016 Bet: With Aquino out, LP seeks ‘right bet’  

With President Aquino out of the 2016 presidential election, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) is searching for the “right candidate,” but Interior Secretary Mar Roxas remains its “presumptive candidate,” allies in the Senate and the House of Representatives said on Wednesday. Sen. Bam Aquino, an LP member, said the President expected reform-minded individuals to carry on the administration’s policies. “He will reveal the right candidate at the right time. It’s still too early,” the President’s cousin told reporters. “But for the LP, I think right now the presumptive candidate is Secretary Roxas.” Another LP stalwart, Sen. Ralph Recto, agreed that many party members were backing Roxas.

“We all know that he is interested in becoming President. Many in the party support it. I don’t know of anyone in the party interested in running for President,” he told reporters. Recto said an endorsement by the President would boost Roxas’ ratings in the polls. “That will always help. Whoever the President endorses will always help,” he said. Senate President Franklin Drilon said the President had realized that the “right leader” would have to carry on the administration’s reform policies. “I have said before that the President is sensitive to the surveys. He’s studying the surveys. And I’m sure that he will listen to his bosses, and he will act in accordance with the national interest,” Drilon said in an interview. “Now he has come to the conclusion that the reforms he has started can be continued and preserved by electing the right leader,” he added. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace ‘auditing’ VP’s Cabinet deeds  

BINAY’S PERFORMANCE KEY TO KEEPING NOY’S TRUST — COLOMA The Palace bared yesterday that a performance check is being conducted on Vice President Jejomar Binay but sidestepped suggestions that it is connected with the well-coordinated demolition job against the Vice President which started from the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. claimed that although Binay is a Cabinet member, issues hounding him do not affect the government’s performance but added that the Vice President is included in a “performance audit” being undertaken on Cabinet members.Coloma said Binay, who has been hounded by controversies since the Senate probe began, should continue to do the work Aquino had assigned him.

“In that aspect, we have to look into his management of the fields that the President has given to him. First the housing sector, where he stands as administrator of Housing on Urban Development and Coordinating Council, and as Presidential Adviser on OFW (overseas Filipino workers) Affairs,” Coloma said.Coloma said Vice President Binay is expected to fulfill his duty as a member of the Cabinet, adding that the President himself observes and evaluates his work. Coloma added Binay “should perform his responsibilities to keep the trust and confidence of the President.”
“We have stated the basic principle, and at present, that’s our statement on that, because the President has not mentioned any different kind of treatment (on Binay),” Coloma said in reaction to whether Binay still enjoys the President’s trust. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 4 top execs owe gov’t P10b—COA   

NOV 3 ---PHOTO: FROM LEFT: Roxas, Soliman, De Lima, Alcala --PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s 10 top executives, including Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala had P10.14 billion in cash advances but failed to liquidate the amounts beyond the prescribed period, a Commission on Audit report shows. Based on the 2013 Annual Financial Report that was submitted to Congress in October, the COA says the cash advances mostly “represented expenses on local and foreign travels and for special purpose time-bound undertakings.” The 228-page COA report, a copy of which was obtained by the Manila Standard, shows that the P10.14 billion was higher by P477.11 million than the unliquidated cash advances of the same national government agencies in 2012.

Even the Office of the President has ranked 8th in the top 10 with unliquidated advances amounting to P340.87 million in 2013, the COA report says. Roxas’ DILG ranked third with P1.1 billion in unliquidated cash advances. The COA discovered that the Commission on Elections has P3.214 billion in unliquidated advances, the biggest among the top 10 departments, or 31.71 percent of the total unliquidated amount. The Department of Education came second with total unliquidated advances of P2.23 billion. The unliquidated advances of Roxas’ DILG represented 10.85 percent of the total P10.14 billion. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ranked fourth or next to Roxas at P685.62 million. De Lima came fifth at P617.44 million, Soliman at sixth with P452.55 million, and Alcala at seventh with P354.50 million. The COA says other executive offices had unliquidated advances amounting to P297.53 million but did not identify them. * READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Solons glad Noy won’t seek 2nd term


Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito

MANILA, NOVEMBER 3, 2014 (TRIBUNE) Written by Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00 - Opposition and administration lawmakers have readily welcomed the pronouncement of President Aquino that he is not seeking reelection in 2016.

Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said the President is correct in stating that efforts by some quarters to have a presidential second term is not the “right solution” toward economic growth.

“I concur with the President that a second term may create political turmoil and divisiveness, and is counter-productive in attaining economic development,” he added.

“I hope the group that calls itself “More 2 Come” headed by a certain Melvin Matibag, RJ Echiverri and several individuals behind these efforts for a second term will now refrain from campaigning,” Ejercito stressed.

He said people in the administration and their supporters who are advocating term extension should bear in mind that the parents of President Aquino themselves — the late President Corazon Aquino and Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. — were against presidential term extensions.

“Our President always listens to his bosses. He looks at the survey results. He acts based on the interest of the people and he found that term extension is divisive,” Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, said.

In a forum with business executives in Makati City last Tuesday, Aquino said having six more years in office was not “the right solution” to sustain the economic growth achieved under his leadership.

The President instead urged the business leaders to choose the next leader “who not only says the right things but who you can trust to deliver the same.”

The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay also said he is glad that Aquino has already ruled out seeking a second term.

“We are glad that the President has reaffirmed his deference to his late mother’s Freedom Constitution by categorically ruling out the Charter change that would have allowed him to seek a second term,” Binay’s spokesman for political affairs Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla said in a statement.

Sen. Grace Poe said she has no doubt that the President would listen to his bosses to keep the legacy of his parents unblemished despite efforts of some administration allies to persuade the President to run again in 2016.

* “I have no doubt with the President. I mean the easiest is to have him there because at least we know his style of leadership but I know, with the legacy of his parents, this is something that he would not permit,” Poe said.

Sen. Bam Aquino, a cousin and party mate of Aquino in the Liberal Party (LP) said it should not come as a surprise to hear of the Chief Executive finally closing his door on the idea of seeking another term.

“I am not really surprised with that statement, maybe it was time to clarify once and for all, as far I am concerned, if you look at the Senate, we’ve never had any move to amend the Constitution for any political institution. So, I am not surprised,” he added.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he has always been against the President’s seeking re-election.

“I have always thought it wasn’t a good idea to run for a second term,” he stressed.

House Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal said the President’s decision not to seek re-election only belied “hunger for power” criticisms against him.

“I have always been consistent in saying that the President, since Day One, has been really looking forward to a more peaceful life as a private citizen,” Banal said.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., a stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP), said the President’s statement was in response to “his bosses’ will.”

“When the President uttered the presidency is not the solution, he was just reiterating that his ‘bosses’ the Filipino people would be the key for the progress of our nation,” Barzaga added.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, a member of the minority bloc, said “it is well that Aquino finally put a stop to this misplaced initiative of his supporters.”

“Now we can focus on the real real work in hand alleviating our peoples’ problems and promoting their welfare,” de la Cruz said.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

PNoy finally signs P167.9-B Yolanda rehab master plan by Genalyn Kabiling October 31, 2014 Share this:


THEN AND NOW – This is what Barangay San Jose in Tacloban City looked like (top photo) a few days after super-typhoon ‘Yolanda,’ one of the strongest tropical cyclone recorded in history, hit the Visayas on November 8, killing more than 6,000. Above, tents sprout like mushrooms where houses once stood. The area shot from the nearby barangay hall has been declared a danger zone. (Linus Guardian Escandor II)

Almost a year after super-typhoon Yolanda left a wide swath of death and destruction in the country, President Aquino has finally approved the P167.9-billion rehabilitation master plan for storm-hit communities.

The Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) aims to “build back better” the resettlement, infrastructure, livelihood, and social services in 171 cities and municipalities ravaged by the powerful typhoon, according to Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

“Upon the recommendation of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) and the favorable endorsement of the National Economic and Development Authority, the President approved yesterday, October 29. 2014, the 8,000-page Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, which outlines the National Government’s commitment to implement over 25,000 rehabilitation and recovery specific plans and programs and activities (PPAs),” Coloma said.

“According to PARR Secretary Panfilo Lacson, these PPAs are envisioned to bring forth the recovery of the 171 affected cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions (collectively known as the ‘Yolanda corridor’) based on the principle of ‘build-back-better’ by focusing on long-term, sustainable efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen capacities of communities to cope with future hazard events,” he added.

P75.67B FOR RESETTLEMENT

Under the post-Yolanda rehabilitation plan, the resettlement projects for the Yolanda victims will take the biggest slice of the proposed budget at P75.67 billion. Coloma said the government aims to restore settlements and basic community facilities and services that are more resilient to hazard events.

Infrastructure development will require P35.14 billion in order to sustain economic and social activities in the affected areas, according Coloma. At least P30.6 billion will be set aside for livelihood and continuity of economic activities and business while P26.40 billion for social services in the disaster-hit communities.

Since November, 2013, Coloma said, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already released a P51.98 billion from the national budget for the rehabilitation plan in the Yolanda corridor.

* The post-Yolanda rehabilitation blueprint was submitted by Lacson to the President last August. The plan was not immediately approved since Aquino wanted clear timetables for rehabilitation projects.

‘I AM NEVER SATISFIED’

Last week, the President admitted he was not content with the pace of the rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-damaged places, describing some delays as absurd.

“I am never satisfied,” the President said at a media forum in Ortigas last week, when asked if he was pleased with the rebuilding efforts in Yolanda-affected places. “I want to deliver everything that has to be delivered weekly as quick as possible,” Aquino added.

“Sometimes it gets to me, medyo absurd. For instance, one year later, why is the runway in Tacloban not yet ready? And the quick answer is: there is a lack of asphalt, you have to bring it in. And then also, initially, parang yong aggregates… it turns out Leyte has the aggregates,” the President said.

Aquino said the housing project of the families displaced by the typhoon has been hindered by the lack of safe relocation sites. “On houses, we might have the funds, we might have the materials already; then we don’t have the land. Then when you were given land, it’s land nobody wants,” he said. The land must be certified safe for settlement for communities, he added..

He said the rehabilitation efforts must also coexist with the need to keep the typhoon victims fed, free from disease, and sheltered.

“So am I satisfied? No. I wish everything that has to be done were done after one year, but that is might be an impossibility,” he said.

Aquino said he hopes the “build back better” rehabilitation plan, a multi-year effort, will be “substantially accomplished by the time I step down.”

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino inspects ports, terminals ahead of All Saints’ Day
Matikas Santos @MSantosINQ INQUIRER.net 6:18 PM | Friday, October 31st, 2014


Aquino gives away rubber wrist bands to the province-bound passengers at a bus terminal along Buendia Avenue, Makati. MATIKAS SANTOS/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–President Benigno Aquino III was happy with the security preparations in major passenger terminals as he conducted an inspection Friday afternoon ahead of the expected exodus of people going to the provinces to visit their dead on All Saints’ Day.

“[Aquino] has seen that the preparations have been made to ensure the safe and comfortable travel of our countrymen going to their home towns,” Presidential spokesman Hermino Coloma told reporters in an ambush interview at a bus terminal in Pasay city.

Aquino first inspected the passenger terminal complex in Manila North Harbor and boarded a Visayas-bound vessel.

Coloma said that Aquino had an emergency exit lane cleared because passengers’ luggage had blocked it.

Aquino was happy with the new facility which allows travelers to sit in the spacious air-conditioned pre-departure area.

“There are no overcrowded areas and everyone is comfortable,” Coloma said.

Aquino also inspected the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and made sure that the x-ray machines were functioning.

“He gave instructions for the deployment of more K-9 units as additional precaution and security measure,” Coloma said.

“Overall, the President was happy with what he saw,” he said.

During the inspection at the Terminal, Aquino ate Arroz Caldo inside a new lounge, which caused a slight delay in his inspection schedule, Coloma said.

Aquino’s last inspection was at two bus terminals at the Buendia-Taft intersection where he boarded the buses to check on the passengers.

FROM PHILSTAR

No fireworks seen in Noy’s APEC attendance in China By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 30, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - No fireworks are expected when President Aquino visits China for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next month.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) believes it will be the perfect forum to discuss business and investments, and show that the Philippines’ relations with China go beyond the West Philippine Sea dispute.

In a press briefing yesterday, DFA Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Laura del Rosario said the President and his Cabinet economic cluster would seize the opportunity to market the country as an investment destination.

Del Rosario said the country’s territorial row with China is not on the agenda.

“I just read the agenda. The agenda is like shaping the future through Asia Pacific economic partners, so it’s really all economic,” she said.

She said tourist arrivals from China had increased despite the sea dispute.

Del Rosario said this year’s APEC would be “a bit more exciting for us” because the Philippines would host the forum in 2015.

The President would talk before chief executive officers in the region. He will also have a dialogue with leaders of the APEC Business Advisory Council on economic reform for competitive growth.

“For the APEC leaders’ meeting, we are going to talk about advancing regional economic integration, which will go into discussion of free trade arrangements in the Asia Pacific,” Del Rosario said.

Aquino will not have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping but will meet with Latin American leaders.

The President will leave for Beijing on Nov. 9 and leave on Nov. 11 for Myanmar to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit until Nov. 12.

Del Rosario said Latin American countries were also looking for investment areas.

Meanwhile, the prevailing security development in the West Philippine Sea, specifically within the country’s Kalayaan Island Group, is likely to derail the planned offshore oil and gas exploration in Palawan by 2016.

In an apparent bid to counter China’s aggressive activities in the disputed region, Vietnam is looking at India for more naval gunboats aside from Russia, from which it has procured six submarines, three of which have reportedly been delivered.

“It’s but normal for Vietnam to further bolster its defenses in the region because it will be the first to be affected by China’s aggressive stance,” said Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. – With Jaime Laude

FROM THE INQUIRER

With Aquino out, LP seeks ‘right bet’ Gil C. Cabacungan, TJ Burgonio | Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:44 AM | Thursday, October 30th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–With President Aquino out of the 2016 presidential election, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) is searching for the “right candidate,” but Interior Secretary Mar Roxas remains its “presumptive candidate,” allies in the Senate and the House of Representatives said on Wednesday.

Sen. Bam Aquino, an LP member, said the President expected reform-minded individuals to carry on the administration’s policies.

“He will reveal the right candidate at the right time. It’s still too early,” the President’s cousin told reporters. “But for the LP, I think right now the presumptive candidate is Secretary Roxas.”

Another LP stalwart, Sen. Ralph Recto, agreed that many party members were backing Roxas.

“We all know that he is interested in becoming President. Many in the party support it. I don’t know of anyone in the party interested in running for President,” he told reporters.

Recto said an endorsement by the President would boost Roxas’ ratings in the polls. “That will always help. Whoever the President endorses will always help,” he said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the President had realized that the “right leader” would have to carry on the administration’s reform policies.

“I have said before that the President is sensitive to the surveys. He’s studying the surveys. And I’m sure that he will listen to his bosses, and he will act in accordance with the national interest,” Drilon said in an interview.

“Now he has come to the conclusion that the reforms he has started can be continued and preserved by electing the right leader,” he added.

* Asked if the country’s leader should come from LP’s ranks, Drilon said: “Certainly, we would wish that.”

Right solution

Speaking before semiconductor and electronics industry players on Tuesday, Aquino declared that seeking a second term was not the “right solution.” To ensure the country’s competitiveness, he said he would vote for the “right candidate” in the 2016 presidential race, but did not elaborate.

Aquino first broached the idea of seeking a second term in a TV interview in August. In an interview with the Inquirer later, Aquino said he did not want his administration’s gains to go to waste.

The President said he wanted to fend off those who want to destabilize the government, flush out the aspirants for the presidency in 2016, and fight those who want to make him a lame duck. He later raised the possibility of amending the Constitution to allow him to seek a second term.

Recto said the President’s pronouncement was consistent with the single, fixed six-year term set by the Constitution. “So to me, that is the default position. That is what the Constitution says,” Recto said.

“I concur with the President that a second term may create political turmoil and divisiveness, and is counterproductive in attaining economic development,” opposition Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said.

Presumptive candidate

“Mar has been the presumptive candidate. But as the ruling party running this country, we are all focused on supporting the projects and programs of the President,” said Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, LP secretary general. “We will have to follow the process under our party constitution in selecting our standard-bearer in due time.”

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treńas said: “Now that the President has already declared that a second term is out, the party will focus on its presumptive candidate Secretary Mar Roxas.”

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas of the LP said that Roxas’ climb in the survey of possible presidential candidates from 6 percent in June to 13 percent in September had made Roxas the most likely LP candidate in 2016.

“We expect his numbers to increase in the coming months,” Vargas said.

Not so fast

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., however, said the entire LP membership had yet to make up its mind on who would be the party’s chosen one in 2016. The LP vice president said the party would choose not only among its ranks but also worthy and winnable candidates among its “allies and believers.”

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said: “Although Secretary Mar has the edge and the sentimental choice, we should not exclude others who embrace the daang matuwid principle of P-Noy like Sen. Grace Poe or Senator Chiz or Sen. (Alan Peter) Cayetano or Congresswoman Leni Robredo.”

‘Noted’

“Noted,” Vice President Jejomar Binay said with a laugh.

Binay, who has declared early on his bid to seek the presidency in 2016, was asked in Tiaong, Quezon province, about the President’s statement that he was stepping aside at the end of his term. He said he would certainly continue the President’s reform program if elected.

The Vice President said he had been going around to clear his name from corruption charges against him, including the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II and ownership of a 350-hectare property in Batangas province dubbed “Hacienda Binay.”

His spokesman, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, said in a statement: “We are glad that the President has reaffirmed his deference to his late mother’s Freedom Constitution by categorically ruling out the Charter change that would have allowed him to seek a second term.

“Over and above all the present noise about Senate inquiries and upcoming debates, it is Vice President Jojo Binay who has made available for public inspection his record of legal activism and public service over half a century, no less transparently than his declaration to seek the presidency right from the start.”–With reports from Christine O. Avendańo in Manila and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Palace ‘auditing’ VP’s Cabinet deeds Written by Joshua L. Labonera Monday, 03 November 2014 00:00

BINAY’S PERFORMANCE KEY TO KEEPING NOY’S TRUST — COLOMA

The Palace bared yesterday that a performance check is being conducted on Vice President Jejomar Binay but sidestepped suggestions that it is connected with the well-coordinated demolition job against the Vice President which started from the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. claimed that although Binay is a Cabinet member, issues hounding him do not affect the government’s performance but added that the Vice President is included in a “performance audit” being undertaken on Cabinet members.

Coloma said Binay, who has been hounded by controversies since the Senate probe began, should continue to do the work Aquino had assigned him.

“In that aspect, we have to look into his management of the fields that the President has given to him. First the housing sector, where he stands as administrator of Housing on Urban Development and Coordinating Council, and as Presidential Adviser on OFW (overseas Filipino workers) Affairs,” Coloma said.

Coloma said Vice President Binay is expected to fulfill his duty as a member of the Cabinet, adding that the President himself observes and evaluates his work.

Coloma added Binay “should perform his responsibilities to keep the trust and confidence of the President.”

“We have stated the basic principle, and at present, that’s our statement on that, because the President has not mentioned any different kind of treatment (on Binay),” Coloma said in reaction to whether Binay still enjoys the President’s trust.

* Coloma said all Cabinet members are undergoing checks or audit performance, reasoning that it is encompassed by the principle of accountability and responsibility on public servants.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim secretary general Jose Virgilio “JV” Bautista, meanwhile, said the scheduled debate between Binay and his nemesis Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is on despite a number of Binay’s allies expressing reservations about the debate resolving the issues being raised against the Vice President.

“If the debate will result in a enlightening of the issues, that will be welcomed. The debate should focus on the propriety of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee on the overpriced Makati building. Our observation, however, is that it had deteriorated into a witch hunt, into a platform to destroy the reputation of the VP,” he said.

He said UNA is in the process of forming a team to meet with members of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), which will sponsor the debate and that Nov. 10 was suggested as a date for the debate.

“As of now, the Vice President wants the debate to be held. The challenge for a debate came from him so he wants to go through with it,” Bautista said.

Bautista, however, said many of Binay’s allies expressed misgivings about the vice president “stooping down” to the level of Trillanes by agreeing to the debate.

“My jaws fell when I heard the senator say ‘O, Mr. Tiu (businessman Antonio Tiu), don’t attempt to look cute. You are not. I don’t think you’re cute.’ Imagine a senator uttering those words. So we expressed strong reservations with the Vice President in debating with Senator Trillanes, he is not worthy and deserving of the time and attention of the VP,” he said.

Bautista said he’d rather have Binay debate with Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II since they are both on the same plane of gunning for the presidency in 2016.

“(Binay and Roxas) are both declared presidential timber. Yes, it is too early for that but what we’re saying is that it seems Roxas, anyway, is behind the smear campaign against the VP,” he said.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president Toby Tiangco also criticized the senators decision to throw him and Bautista out of the Senate hearing for supposedly gatecrashing the probe last week.

Tiangco said he and Bautista were authorized by Binay to represent him at the hearing and that Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said earlier anyone from the Binay camp is welcome to testify at the probe.

During a hearing last October 8 Tiangco quoted Cayetano as saying “We welcome the allies of the Vice President to attend but their decision was to boycott the proceeding, let me put on record, before we close this session on the Makati Building II or Makati Parking Building, we welcome the camp of Binay to submit any evidence or witnesses to testify here.”

“They, however, called us ‘gatecrashers’ when in fact we showed them due courtesy and even politely requested that we be made to explain the reason for our presence in the hearing. But apparently, they were afraid of what we were to show and say that’s why they booted us out,” he said.

“By putting politics first over the truth, the Blue Ribbon Committee led by these senator-inquisitors has become the Administration’s ‘protection umbrella’. The Blue Ribbon Committee has openly made itself a convenient cover and insulation from public scrutiny and ultimately protect friends and allies of the Administration,” he said.

Former Zambales Rep. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, meanwhile, questioned why only GMA is in jail while her co-accused in the alleged conspiracy in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) scam are all out on bail.

“This is what is saddening, here we see a government under the Aquino administration that uses its power to curtail the freedom and the rights of their political opponents and this is not confined to Arroyo, it is also being done to other allies of the former administration,” Magsaysay said.

“So as a lawyer, maybe the VP (Binay) is speaking as a human rights lawyer. He has basis for saying she (GMA) was given unfair treatment because of politics,” she said.

“One cannot blame (Binay) for mouthing what everybody was mouthing all along, including me, that under the PNoy administration it is selective justice,” she said. “Because there are so many instances that we can cite selective justice as we can glean from the time of the Luneta crisis up to today,” Magsaysay said.

The President has yet to charge or punish anyone from his cabinet “for incompetency or inefficiency” that they continuously commit up to this day and refused to remove them from their posts, she lamented. She charged President Aquino for always saying: “I have my full trust and confidence.”

She asked: “How then can you expect or seek justice if you are on the other side of the coin?” She said she was just lucky because they have nothing to throw against her. “Because I’m sure if they have something against me, I could have been charged long before the three senators were indicted,” she said.

Magsaysay said she is very much dismayed by the politicking. She said this is the first time she encountered this kind of politics that after the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) not one has raised a howl from the honorable members of congress with regards to the demeanor of the Palace.

If there is somebody that should be in jail that somebody should be (Budget Secretary) Butch Abad, she said.

“Because the mere fact that the Supreme Court declared DAP as unconstitutional and the mere fact that Butch Abad admitted that he used it in the impeachment of CJ (Chief Justice Renato) Corona, that is already enough evidence to put him in jail,” Magsaysay added.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

4 top Aqino execs owe gov’t P10b—COA By Christine F. Herrera | Nov. 03, 2014 at 12:01am

Solon pushes bill to punish failure to settle cash advances


FROM LEFT: Roxas, Soliman, De Lima, Alcala

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s 10 top executives, including Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala had P10.14 billion in cash advances but failed to liquidate the amounts beyond the prescribed period, a Commission on Audit report shows.

Based on the 2013 Annual Financial Report that was submitted to Congress in October, the COA says the cash advances mostly “represented expenses on local and foreign travels and for special purpose time-bound undertakings.”

The 228-page COA report, a copy of which was obtained by the Manila Standard, shows that the P10.14 billion was higher by P477.11 million than the unliquidated cash advances of the same national government agencies in 2012.

Even the Office of the President has ranked 8th in the top 10 with unliquidated advances amounting to P340.87 million in 2013, the COA report says.

Roxas’ DILG ranked third with P1.1 billion in unliquidated cash advances.

The COA discovered that the Commission on Elections has P3.214 billion in unliquidated advances, the biggest among the top 10 departments, or 31.71 percent of the total unliquidated amount.

The Department of Education came second with total unliquidated advances of P2.23 billion.

The unliquidated advances of Roxas’ DILG represented 10.85 percent of the total P10.14 billion.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ranked fourth or next to Roxas at P685.62 million. De Lima came fifth at P617.44 million, Soliman at sixth with P452.55 million, and Alcala at seventh with P354.50 million.

The COA says other executive offices had unliquidated advances amounting to P297.53 million but did not identify them.

* The State Universities and Colleges also had P160.27 million in unliquidated advances while “other departments, offices” had a total of P676.51 million, the COA says.

“With the exception of the SUCs, same the departments reported the highest figures of unliquidated advances to officers and employees in fiscal year 2012,” the COA report says.

“Under the Revised Penal Code, if a public officer had been advanced cash and failed to account for the money, it is presumed that the money had been pocketed and put to personal use,” said Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, a party mate of President Aquino and Roxas in the ruling Liberal Party.

“The legal presumption is as clear as day.”

For this reason, Romulo filed House Bill 1287 that seeks to make the infraction prima facie proof of embezzlement.

Romulo was responding to a COA finding that some P10.14 billion in cash advances remain unsettled by 10 government executives, well beyond the prescribed period.

Exasperated by the brazen disregard for the law and pertinent COA orders on the timely liquidation of all advances, Romulo wants to hold the public officers instantly liable for stealing the funds obtained.

“We’ve already filed House Bill 1287, which make the infraction prima facie proof of embezzlement of the money received,” Romulo said.

“The failure to settle a cash advance will be sufficient evidence that the recipient pocketed the money unless the proof is rebutted,” Romulo said.

This means the Office of the Ombudsman may already initiate a criminal charge for malversation of funds, according to Romulo.

Depending on the amount involved, “malversation of public funds” carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office, plus a fine equal to the sum misused.

Also under Romulo’s bill, advances in all government offices have to be liquidated within the following prescribed deadlines:

For salaries and wages—within five days after each 15th day of the month pay period;

For petty operating expenses and field operating expenses—within 20 days after the end of the year;

For special operations, and operating expenses or purchases of supplies, materials and the like in the amount exceeding P100,000—within 20 days after completion of the operation or delivery and acceptance of supplies, materials and the like;

For local travel—within five days upon the officer’s return to official station;

For foreign travel—within 60 days upon return to official station; and

For other advances—within six months after performance of the purpose for which the advance had been granted.

Under a COA circular, a cash advance is settled either by returning the money if unspent, or by presenting vouchers, with details as to the items thereon paid, which must be in accord with the purpose for which the money was released, and further backed by proper receipts and other evidence of payment, subject to the result of a post-examination thereof by the auditor concerned.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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