HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK ...

PIMENTEL: AQUINO SHOULD KEEP HIS HANDS OFF VP PROBE; PALACE: NOY RESPECTS CO-EQUAL BODY 

NOV 12 --Warning that it would set a “dangerous precedent,” Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said yesterday that President Aquino should keep his hands off the Senate probe into the allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay. Pimentel issued the statement after Aquino, speaking with reporters in Beijing, said the Senate’s probe of Binay “in dribs and drabs” was detracting from the chamber’s task of passing urgent legislation. “The President should be hands off when it comes to the conduct of legislative investigations,” Pimentel said. Malacañang said the President never demanded an end to the Senate inquiry and did not violate the independence of a co-equal branch of government. READ FULL REPORT

ALSO: Gov’t workers begin receiving early Christmas bonus this week

Starting this week, 1.2 million government workers will receive their Christmas cash gift and the remaining 13th month pay, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced yesterday. Office workers (MB file photo) Office workers (MB file photo) The early release of the holiday perks would allow the state personnel to prepare for the Christmas season, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. The first half of the bonuses was already released in May this year. “For the past year, government employees have been working quietly and without fanfare for the good of the nation. It’s only proper that their efforts and hard work are given fair recognition. The year-end bonus and extra cash should help them prepare for the holiday season and its demands,” Abad said in a statement.

ALSO: Kris Aquino welcomes charismatic President Enrique Nieto of Mexico; PNoy IN Myamnar

NOV 14 ---In behalf of President Benigno Aquino III, his celebrity sister-actress Kris welcomed the charismatic President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto to the Philippines at the Villamor Airbase on Thursday night. Kris posted on her Instagram account a photo of her short encounter with the good-looking Nieto, whose movie star-like appeal made him a favorite politician in his home country. Nieto was on his way to Australia but had to make a stopover in the Philippines for almost two hours while their plane was refueling. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Palace hits Koko on Binay probe 

Malacañang criticized yesterday Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III for stating that President Aquino should keep his hands off the Senate inquiry on the corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino was just expressing his views on the lawful means to ferret out the truth and exact accountability.
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READ MORE...

(ALSO) Noy: Same standards applied in dealing with Cabinet members

NOV 13 --BEIJING – President Aquino maintains he is not being selective when it comes to dealing with members of his official family. In a press briefing with reporters Tuesday night after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here, Aquino said he was using the same standards for his Cabinet members and other officials and mere allegations should not be enough to fire them. Among the Cabinet members and officials facing allegations of corruption are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. and Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima. Aquino stressed everyone was entitled to due process because it was easy to throw accusations, but proving them was another thing. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Noy on hosting of next APEC: China a tough act to follow

NOV 13 ---PHOTO: President Benigno Aquino III poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping who is hosting a welcome dinner for APEC leaders, and his wife Peng Liyuan, at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) BEIJING – China’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit may be a tough act to follow next year when the Philippines takes its turn to host the meeting of regional leaders, President Aquino said Tuesday. “I think, number one, we can’t find any fault with the way they hosted, especially the leaders’ summit. The precision, the perfection, I think, sets a standard for us to try and at least match next year when we host APEC,” Aquino told reporters in a press briefing here Tuesday night after attending the summit. Aquino said he asked for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s and other regional leaders’ support for Manila’s hosting of APEC next year. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Justice remains elusive for slain Luisita workers in Tarlac 

NOV 16 ---VIOLETA Basilio (right) weeps during the protest action for the victims of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre where several sugar workers, including her only son Jhaivie, died during the bloody dispersal. LYN RILLON/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO --CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines — About 500 people on Sunday gathered at Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) in Tarlac City, a property of the family of President Aquino and the site of a riot 10 years ago between government forces and striking workers, to demand justice for the seven men killed in that bloody event. “Hacienda Luisita massacre” is how Florida Sibayan and her group, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), refer to the event that transpired around 3 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2004. Police and the military retook CAT’s Gate 1 on the order of then Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas after the Department of Labor and Employment assumed jurisdiction over the joint strike of members of United Luisita Workers Union from CAT Labor Union and Ambala that began on Nov. 6. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO TRIBUNE EDITORIAL: Discontent spreading fast 

NOV 14 ---It is difficult to dismiss the call for transformation spreading in key urban centers of the country due to the mere fact that it is spreading from outside Metro Manila, which is traditionally the center of administration critics. The issues raised are also distinctly clear and is far from the partisan concerns related to the 2016 elections. It started in Lipa City, Batangas last August and was followed by an assembly in Cebu City on Oct. 1 and the other day in Butuan City, all assemblies calling for Noynoy to step down due to incompetence. READ FULL EDITORIAL...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Pomentel: Aquino should keep hands off VP probe


Palace: Noy respects co-equal body

MANILA, NOVEMBER 17, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Marvin Sy - Warning that it would set a “dangerous precedent,” Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said yesterday that President Aquino should keep his hands off the Senate probe into the allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Pimentel issued the statement after Aquino, speaking with reporters in Beijing, said the Senate’s probe of Binay “in dribs and drabs” was detracting from the chamber’s task of passing urgent legislation.

“The President should be hands off when it comes to the conduct of legislative investigations,” Pimentel said.

Malacañang said the President never demanded an end to the Senate inquiry and did not violate the independence of a co-equal branch of government.

“He respects the co-equal branch and (said) that the senators are fully aware of their roles as lawmakers, mindful of pending legislation, in addition to their corollary responsibility of conducting investigations,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Binay’s camp welcomed President Aquino’s call for the Senate to speed up its investigation on the Vice President so they can focus on legislative work.

Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said the court – and not the Senate subcommittee hearing – is the proper venue to determine the guilt or innocence of the Vice President.

Pimentel joined other senators in brushing aside the President’s call to speed up the Senate investigation on Binay.

“The Department of Justice is conducting its own investigation into the same subject matter so he should give the DOJ the deadline and not the Senate because the DOJ is under his office,” Pimentel said.

“What if there’s an investigation of a department secretary or someone closely identified with the President some time in the future? Can he still tell or advise the committee to speed up or terminate the investigation or how to conduct the investigation? That would be a dangerous precedent and could be misconstrued as interference with a co-equal branch of government,” Pimentel added.


PHOTO FROM INQUIRER FILE: Senators Antonio Trillanes, Aquilino “Koko”Pimentel and Alan Peter Cayetano stress a point during a Senate hearing on the controversial 350-hectare Binay Farm property in Rosario, Batangas. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Pimentel is chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee conducting the probe into the allegedly overpriced parking building constructed by the city government of Makati.

Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in Beijing on Tuesday, Aquino said the Senate should present all of its evidence against the Vice President and not in “dribs and drabs” so as not to disrupt urgent legislation.

Pimentel said the Blue Ribbon subcommittee has been conducting investigations five hours at a time and as far as he was concerned, this was time well spent.

Whatever perceived delays caused by the hearings were, according to Pimentel, not the fault of the subcommittee but the resource persons invited, particularly from the camp of the Vice President.

“We have also encountered ‘unfriendly and uncooperative’ behavior from those being investigated. These are the people causing the perceived delay,” Pimentel said.

“Makati officials have boycotted the hearings. Imagine local officials defying the Senate? Should we allow this to happen at all, much more continue?” he added.

Pimentel noted a number of resource persons have avoided subpoena, while others have defied it outright.

He said the hearings of the subcommittee have all been covered by the resolution filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and are not limited to the issue of the parking building.

The third part of the resolution, Pimentel said, was even “flexible” because it covers other related anomalies.

“We will have to uphold the power and authority of the Senate and recommend soon some disciplinary measures on some personalities,” Pimentel said.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, for his part, said the case of Binay would serve as the acid test for the administration of President Aquino and his “tuwid na daan” or straight path policy.

He said the administration’s pursuit of cases against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former chief justice Renato Corona and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. was not that difficult considering these personalities were not allied with the President.

In contrast, Cayetano said Binay is a close family friend of Aquino and so it would be more difficult for him to pursue possible cases against him.

“Policies are always easy to apply on competitors or enemies but hard to apply to friends. By doing anything that helps Binay, he is not helping a friend but saying that the tuwid na daan is not that serious,” Cayetano said.

Just like Pimentel, Cayetano said whatever delays are seen in the investigation of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee are due to the lack of cooperation by the camp of the Vice President.

He said the problem is not with the Senate but with the attitude of the Vice President, who he said has been preventing some of the key witnesses from attending the hearings and not submitting the required evidence.

Cayetano said the Senate would not be cowed or affected by statements such as those coming from the President and would continue to conduct its hearings on issues related to the Vice President.


DRILON

Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, said he is confident the President is aware of how things work in the Senate and he has no control over how the senators and committees go about their business.

“President Aquino was also a senator once. He knows how things work as well as the culture in the Senate. I am certain that Senators (Teofisto) Guingona and Pimentel have heard what the President said. I am sure they will consider that in the process of their decision making,” he said.

Drilon said the President called him up to relay the request of the Vice President to stop the investigations being conducted by the Blue Ribbon subcommittee.


VALTE

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also said there is nothing wrong with President Aquino calling on Drilon to relay the request of the Vice President to stop the probe on the corruption allegations against him.

She said the President merely informed Drilon about Binay’s request and did not pressure him to grant it.

“The President made it clear that he was conveying a message. He was asked to convey the message. He said yes. He conveyed the message,” Valte said.

“The President did not ask for anything from Senate President Drilon. A message was conveyed. Let’s draw the distinction between pressure, between asking to do something, and merely being a conduit to relay a message,” she added.

Valte said Aquino did not violate the separation of powers among co-equal branches of government.

“We do not see anything improper about the President conveying a message,” Valte said.

“Is there anything in the Constitution that says that the two leaders cannot speak? Or is there anything in the Constitution that specifically says that they cannot discuss matters involving other officials?” she asked.

Aquino said in Beijing on Tuesday that he would prefer the Senate investigation into Binay’s alleged anomalies be finished as soon as possible to finally be able to charge or absolve people based on evidence.

He stressed there were problems that must be addressed now and that must be done by next year.

Aquino said the government must focus on rebuilding the communities destroyed last year by Typhoon Yolanda and measures to prevent the entry of the Ebola virus into the country.

Aquino said he and Binay were still talking and that the Vice President told him he was going through some hard times.

“I told him ‘between the two of us, you are in the position to know if there is truth to the allegations’ and he asked me: ‘what would you advise me?’ Then I told him: ‘how can I advise you on what to do since you know all these things compared to what I know?’” Aquino told reporters in Filipino.

Aquino, however, noted the Senate investigation on Binay must not be done in “dribs and drabs” since there were many economic bills that must be passed along with the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

He stressed there must be a balance between politics and responsibilities.

Salgado said the senators leading the probe do not care much for the presumption of innocence, which has been evident from the start.

“These inquisitors are blinded by their prejudgment and consumed by their obsession to malign Vice President Binay that we seriously doubt if they would heed the words of the President,” Salgado said.

Salgado said the fact that the subcommittee scheduled another hearing on Nov. 17 – the first day of budget deliberations at the Senate – “shows where their priorities lie.”

“We also doubt if the senators would feel any shame that the President had to remind them that there is much legislative work to be done, especially the approval of the 2015 budget,” he said.

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, interim president of Binay’s political party United Nationalist Alliance, said he expects the extended Senate hearings against the Vice President to continue “in aid of demolition,” not in aid of legislation.

Binay has repeatedly refused to attend Senate hearings on various corruption allegations against him, saying he had been pre-judged by senators.

Meanwhile, the principal of the Makati Science High School appealed to the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee not to hold its inspection of the school’s new building tomorrow as it would disrupt classes.

MSHS principal Evangelina Apolinario said she received a letter on Tuesday from Pimentel informing her the subcommittee intends to hold an ocular inspection of the new school building at 9 a.m.

Apolinario said she wrote Pimentel last Tuesday and requested the inspection should be done over the weekend so as not to disrupt classes.

In her letter, Apolinario also expressed concern that if the inspection of the school’s premises was done on a weekday, it would have some adverse effects on the students.

“We would like to spare our students from needless anxiety and other adverse effects they may suffer if they witness the actual inspection of their school facilities,” Apolinario said.

The Blue Ribbon subcommittee during its hearing last Nov. 6 announced its intention to conduct an ocular inspection of the new MSHS building in relation to its ongoing investigation of the alleged overprice in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II. – Aurea Calica, Helen Flores, Alexis Romero, Mike Frialde


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Gov’t workers begin receiving early Christmas bonus this week November 17, 2014 Share this: Christmas comes early for the government workforce.

Starting this week, 1.2 million government workers will receive their Christmas cash gift and the remaining 13th month pay, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced yesterday.

Office workers (MB file photo) Office workers (MB file photo) The early release of the holiday perks would allow the state personnel to prepare for the Christmas season, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

The first half of the bonuses was already released in May this year.

“For the past year, government employees have been working quietly and without fanfare for the good of the nation. It’s only proper that their efforts and hard work are given fair recognition. The year-end bonus and extra cash should help them prepare for the holiday season and its demands,” Abad said in a statement.

Government workers are entitled to a year-end bonus equivalent to a month’s pay and cash gift of P5,000 based on Budget Circular 2010-1. The bonuses will be for both civilian and uniformed personnel across all government departments and agencies, including regular co-terminus employees in government.

Abad said the funds for the holiday pay of national government agencies are sourced from this year’s national budget. Government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) will tap into their corporate funds for the bonuses, while local government units (LGUs) will source their perks from local government funds.

“Funds to support the requirements of government personnel were released to the agencies at the very start of the year. The General Appropriations Act (GAA)-as-release-document ensures that funds are sufficiently available to the agencies from the very start, so that they can roll out the year-end bonuses and cash gifts at the appropriate time,” Abad said.

Last year, President Aquino ordered the early release of the year-end perks of the government workers following the massive destruction left by super typhoon Yolanda. The incentives were meant to help them respond better to the calamity, whether or not they were directly affected by the disaster.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Kris Aquino welcomes charismatic President Enrique Nieto of Mexico Julliane Love de Jesus @JLDejesusINQ INQUIRER.net 10:00 PM | Friday, November 14th, 2014


SCREENGRAB from Kris Aquino’s Instagram post

MANILA, Philippines—In behalf of President Benigno Aquino III, his celebrity sister-actress Kris welcomed the charismatic President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto to the Philippines at the Villamor Airbase on Thursday night.

Kris posted on her Instagram account a photo of her short encounter with the good-looking Nieto, whose movie star-like appeal made him a favorite politician in his home country.

Nieto was on his way to Australia but had to make a stopover in the Philippines for almost two hours while their plane was refueling.

Along with Kris was her friend, TV host-product endorser Boy Abunda.

Kris said they had an “informative conversation” with Nieto, who was accompanied by First Lady Angelica Rivera.

Kris had to pinch-hit for President Aquino while he was in Myanmar for the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.

According to Kris, the experience was “nostalgic” as this reminded her the time she had to welcome delegates from several countries with her late mother, President Corazon Aquino.


SCREENGRAB from Kris Aquino's Instagram post


FROM PHILSTAR

Palace hits Koko on Binay probe By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 14, 2014 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


PIMENTEL

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang criticized yesterday Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III for stating that President Aquino should keep his hands off the Senate inquiry on the corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino was just expressing his views on the lawful means to ferret out the truth and exact accountability.

* “Is Senator Pimentel implying that the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice are unwilling or incapable of investigating irregularities in government?” he said. “Or is it possible that he may have been misquoted, or that his views were taken out of context?”

Aquino had suggested that the Senate consider whether its inquiry “has matured to go into the more formal process” so its efforts to deal with alleged anomalies “may be brought into full fruition,” Coloma said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the exchanges would not affect the relationship between the executive and the Senate.

“I don’t think there should be any rift and there will be no rift between the Senate and the executive branch,” he said. “We’ve worked very well together and so we expect a continued good relationship with the Senate.”

Lacierda said despite the inquiries, senators are mindful of the pending legislation that require their action.

On Sen. Alan Cayetano’s statement that the investigation might last until next year, Lacierda said: “This is a co-equal branch. We will leave it up to them.”


FROM PHILSTAR

Noy: Same standards applied in dealing with Cabinet members By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


AQUINO

BEIJING – President Aquino maintains he is not being selective when it comes to dealing with members of his official family.

In a press briefing with reporters Tuesday night after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here, Aquino said he was using the same standards for his Cabinet members and other officials and mere allegations should not be enough to fire them.

Among the Cabinet members and officials facing allegations of corruption are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. and Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima.

Aquino stressed everyone was entitled to due process because it was easy to throw accusations, but proving them was another thing.

Aquino, however, confirmed asking Ona to take a leave so he could prepare his answer to the investigation into the allegedly anomalous purchase of vaccines.

Aquino said he was waiting for Ona’s explanation and it would be unfair to make a judgment at this time.

“I should not have ordered an investigation if I already came up with a judgment,” he said.

Aquino said there was a previous investigation conducted and he saw errors in the Bids and Awards Committee and tasked the Department of Justice to look into it.

“Again, if there is a question, there is an answer and the truth shall set us all free. But again, there are processes. The processes ensure that we do not have... lynch mob; no death by innuendo. So, again, he (Ona) has entitlements. So the question here is what really happened there? Why is the decision like this? And he has to be given his time to be able to respond,” he said.

Jimenez and Singson, on the other hand, were implicated in the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) reportedly funded by the pork barrel fund of Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“The allegations related to the ICC – so far seem to be all just politics,” Aquino said.

He said he did not have different standards for his people but he would consider the gravity of the allegations being hurled against them.

“How serious are the allegations? What are the preliminary data to support the allegation? Are the decisions detrimental to the general public or not? That should be primary,” Aquino said.

The President said the allegations against Ona involve medicine and vaccination.

“At risk are the very young. That should have high priority. The Iloilo Convention Center being built... calculations, blueprints, inventory of materials... The danger is not immediate as compared to vaccines,” he said.

With regard to Purisima, Aquino reiterated he was considering the outputs of the PNP chief against the allegations against him, including illegal wealth, conflict of interest, indirect bribery, among others.

“If he was interested in making money, (he) can make tons and tons of money. And the allegation...was quite far from the potential (to make money) just from illegal gambling alone,” Aquino said, noting that even the lifestyle check must be taken in relation to the allegations.

Still okay

Aquino also said he could not see any reason why Binay would have to leave the Cabinet since the Vice President had been good in his job in housing and resettlement and on the overseas Filipino workers’ concerns.

Like anybody in the Cabinet, Aquino said Binay had really been fulfilling his responsibility.

The President said he could not possibly acknowledge successes only to admonish them on issues not related to their jobs.

“I think the Vice President, without taking any side, is also entitled to presumption of innocence until proven guilty, which is our fundamental right,” he said.

Binay is being investigated by the Senate for alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall 2 parking building and undeclared properties in Batangas.


FROM PHILSTAR

Noy on hosting of next APEC: China a tough act to follow By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


President Benigno Aquino III poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping who is hosting a welcome dinner for APEC leaders, and his wife Peng Liyuan, at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING – China’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit may be a tough act to follow next year when the Philippines takes its turn to host the meeting of regional leaders, President Aquino said Tuesday.

“I think, number one, we can’t find any fault with the way they hosted, especially the leaders’ summit. The precision, the perfection, I think, sets a standard for us to try and at least match next year when we host APEC,” Aquino told reporters in a press briefing here Tuesday night after attending the summit.

Aquino said he asked for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s and other regional leaders’ support for Manila’s hosting of APEC next year.

“As you know, the whole of the APEC activities is a year-round event, so my last interaction with everybody was to ask for everybody’s support for the success of our hosting of APEC next year,” he said.

Aquino said he was bowled over by the “entertainment aspect of the summit, particularly the cultural performances.

“To be honest, I was looking at it quite intensely. Assuming... we have the talent, but how do you actually produce something on this level? On the entertainment aspect alone, they combined Chinese and Western,” he said.

The President said one of the dancers in the cultural performance was hearing-impaired, prompting him to think how a person could dance without hearing the music.

“If I were to characterize one thing, in the way they hosted it, especially this portion that I was actually witnessed to, the precision,” he said.

“The fireworks, for instance – the human (performance), the video and the fireworks – you won’t see anything out of sync. No one is ahead, no one is behind. Maybe with us it will be a little less precise,” Aquino said.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Justice remains elusive for slain Luisita workers in Tarlac Tonette Orejas @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Central Luzon 9:19 PM | Sunday, November 16th, 2014


VIOLETA Basilio (right) weeps during the protest action for the victims of the 2004 Hacienda Luisita Massacre where several sugar workers, including her only son Jhaivie, died during the bloody dispersal. LYN RILLON/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines — About 500 people on Sunday gathered at Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) in Tarlac City, a property of the family of President Aquino and the site of a riot 10 years ago between government forces and striking workers, to demand justice for the seven men killed in that bloody event.

“Hacienda Luisita massacre” is how Florida Sibayan and her group, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), refer to the event that transpired around 3 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2004.

Police and the military retook CAT’s Gate 1 on the order of then Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas after the Department of Labor and Employment assumed jurisdiction over the joint strike of members of United Luisita Workers Union from CAT Labor Union and Ambala that began on Nov. 6.

The strikers, however, resisted, saying talks were ongoing with the management of both CAT and Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI).

Sunday’s commemoration opened with an ecumenical service by leaders of the Catholic, Protestant and Aglipayan churches.

The families of the victims came, either showing photographs of their slain loved ones or sharing the pain of losing them.

Sibayan, Ambala chair, said she did not expect the government to immediately jail those responsible for the deaths of Jessie Valdez, Adriano Caballero Jr., Jaime Fastidio, Jesus Laza, Juancho Sanchez, Jhaivie Basilio and Jhune David, with President Aquino in power.

Aquino was representing the second district of Tarlac province when the riot broke out in 2004.

Sibayan, in a telephone interview on Sunday, said Aquino and his relatives were among those who should be held accountable for the deaths of the striking workers.

“We were unarmed. We were violently dispersed as we demanded the application of genuine agrarian reform in Hacienda Luisita. Workers in CAT wanted fair wages,” she said.

Lawyer Antonio Ligon, spokesperson of HLI, said the killings had been investigated and the results showed no fault on the part of HLI or government officials at the time.

“As far as I know, President Aquino is not even an officer or employee of HLI. So it’s baseless and unfair to put the blame on him,” Ligon said on Sunday.

In August, Ambala and families of the victims filed a petition asking the Office of the Ombudsman to reopen the Luisita massacre case. The petition, however, was denied in October.

The first case—for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, multiple attempted murder, murder, physical injuries, theft and malicious mischief—was dismissed in 2005. The Ombudsman’s Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices dismissed in December 2010 all charges against police and military respondents.

Sibayan said only the Laza and Valdez families received their 6,600-square-meter farm lot from the 4,500 hectares the Supreme Court had ordered HLI to distribute in 2012 under the government’s agrarian reform program. This was because their fathers had worked at the sugar estate since 1989, when the stock distribution plan, the first form of agrarian reform there, took effect.


TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Discontent spreading fast Written by Tribune Editorial Friday, 14 November 2014 00:00

It is difficult to dismiss the call for transformation spreading in key urban centers of the country due to the mere fact that it is spreading from outside Metro Manila, which is traditionally the center of administration critics.

The issues raised are also distinctly clear and is far from the partisan concerns related to the 2016 elections.

It started in Lipa City, Batangas last August and was followed by an assembly in Cebu City on Oct. 1 and the other day in Butuan City, all assemblies calling for Noynoy to step down due to incompetence.

In the Lipa declaration of the National Transformation Council (NTC), the issues raised were corruption and Noynoy’s defiance of the Supreme Court in its ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) being unconstitutional.

In the Cebu declaration, Noynoy was again asked to relinquish the presidency as he was accused of selective justice in the pork barrel controversy, the failure to stem the rising extremism in the troubled parts of Mindanao, the lingering corrupt system in government and the use of a fraud-tainted automated election system.

Again the failures of Noynoy, this time in addressing the sufferings of the “Yolanda” victims in the Visayas were cited in the Butuan convention as the chief reason to call for Noynoy’s resignation.

Also an issue that the Butuan assembly raised was the contentious Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which in a manifesto was stated as falsifying the people’s deepest longing for genuine self-management of their own affairs.

It noted that the BBL instead would create new divisions, disunity and discontent, both among those who are part and those who are not part of the new Bangsamoro entity.

The BBL bill is being railroaded at the House packed with the allies of Noynoy prior to its transmittal to the Senate where the Palace hopes it would be rammed through with the help of its alliance in the chamber.

The resignation of Noynoy, according to the group would set the stage for the process of deep reforms in the government to weed out the corrupt culture ingrained in it.

The call is extreme but which seems to come from desperate voices that are exasperated with the brand of hypocrisy and arrogance practiced by Noynoy and the Liberal Party (LP) and yellow mobs around him.

The response of Noynoy through his Palace mouthpieces was to ignore the existence of the groups while attributing their call to the necessary political discourses prior to a presidential election.

The groups calling for the resignation, or Nonoy’s relinquishment of his position, however, are far different from the usual partisan elements taking pot shots to enhance their 2016 chances.

They are mostly made up of civic groups from which Noynoy drew strength in capturing the presidency in the 2010 elections.

While having less media appeal, the current movement can be compared to the 2005 withdrawal of support on Gloria Arroyo by most of the civil socialites who had installed her to power in 2001 including former President Cory Aquino, the mother of Noynoy.

The issues raised against Arroyo were abuse of her presidential powers and the manipulation of the votes which are not very different from the causes being carried by the transformation groups.

Ignoring the existence of the protest movement and worse laughing it off is like dismissing the first signs of cancer until it is too late since the disease had spread well beyond cure.

Attributing it to partisan politics will only further insult the intelligence of most Filipinos thus will only help the further spread of discontent.

Noynoy has less than two years left in his forgettable term and it seems the time would all be spent in fending off rather than addressing the long list of grievances from an increasingly restless nation.

 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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