HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK ...

NOY ON TYPHOON RUBY PREPARATIONS: FAILURE IS UNFORGIVABLE 

DEC 5 ---President Aquino yesterday warned concerned government agencies that he would have no patience for excuses in failing to prepare for Typhoon Ruby. Speaking with members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Aquino said any failure in the performance of their duties would be “quite unforgivable.” “I will not be very patient with excuses after this event,” the President said during the NDRRMC meeting held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. “We are more experienced now (because of Yolanda) so we should be able to do more,” he added. Aquino said each agency should check on one another to ensure that all the necessary preparations are in place. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Help one another, Noy asks Pinoys

DEC 7 ---Strong waves batter Legazpi Boulevard in Barangay Puro, Legazpi, Albay. EDD GUMBAN MANILA, Philippines - Help one another, President Aquino called on the Filipino people as the nation braces for the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby. “All of us here were looking forward to having a quiet Christmas this year, to taking a breather and finding the time to recharge for 2015” but “as you are all well aware, Typhoon Ruby confronts us as a nation,” Aquino said in a speech at the Bulong Pulungan on Friday. The President said every sector should be responsible, including the media in its reporting, so that people in affected areas would be guided instead of being unduly alarmed. “Even as we ponder this point, let us bear in mind that it is the Christmas season, and it is incumbent upon all of us to demonstrate goodwill and good cheer,” Aquino said.

ALSO: PNoy turned Malampaya Fund to his  own 'pork'; Lawmaker demands audit of Palace’s Special Fund  

DEC 5 ---AN opposition lawmaker accused President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday of turning the P170 billion Malampaya Fund into his own pork barrel and releasing some P33 billion for non-energy-related projects, including the acquisition of refurbished US warships. Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon demanded that the Commision on Audit release its special audit report on the Malampaya funds under Aquino and that the Palace account for the Special Fund. In September 2013, or two months before the Supreme Court struck down the use of the Malampaya Fund for non-energy projects as unconstitutional, President Aquino released P15 billion for 10 projects, Ridon said. “Where did the rest of the gas reserve proceeds go?” Ridon asked. Ridon said he wondered how the President considered the purchase of US warships or financial assistance to public utility drivers to be related to energy development. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Police torture thriving in Philippines under Noynoy—Amnesty Int’l 

PHOTO: Amnesty International secretary general, Salil Shetty, (L), shows a report of police torture during a meeting in Manila, the Philippines, on December 4, 2014. Thu 5:9PM GMT 0 2 Share -- Amnesty International has expressed serious concern about the widespread and routine use of torture against suspected criminals by police in the Philippines. Torture of suspected criminals by police in the Philippines has thrived under the administration of President Aquino, human rights monitor Amnesty International said yesterday.Dozens of beatings, rapes and electrocutions are being recorded by the country’s human rights commission every year, with many other cases going unreported, Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty told reporters. “Torture by the police is very widespread and routine,” Shetty said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Senator urged Aquino to name new PNP chief 

Sen. Grace Poe urged President Benigno Aquino III “to immediately appoint a capable leader to run” the PNP during [Director General Alan] Purisima’s suspension. “I hope for an immediate and orderly transition of leadership within the PNP to preserve public order and assure the people’s security this holiday season,” she said in a text message to reporters. The Senate committee on public order, chaired by Poe, has inquired into allegations linking Purisima to anomalies. Purisima is facing charges for plunder, graft and indirect bribery over his alleged “hidden mansion” in Nueva Ecija, the construction of his official quarters called the White House in Camp Crame and other charges over the contract with a courier service. The charges of corruption and ill-gotten wealth have triggered calls for his resignation. Purisima, backed by the President, stood his ground. Sen. Sergio Osmeña III called on Purisima to quit following the Ombudsman’s order suspending him.READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO The President can’t wait for the day when he turns Citizen Noy again 

PHOTO: PRESIDENT MEETS JOURNALISTS President Aquino answers a question from INQUIRER Lifestyle editor Thelma San Juan during the annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas party at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila on Friday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE He won’t be Citizen Noy until 18 months from now, but already President Benigno Aquino III had to face questions on his personal plans once he completes his term on June 30, 2016. But the President preempted one question from the journalists whose questions at Friday’s Bulong Pulungan forum ranged from the first thing he’d do on the afternoon of June 30, to his “happiest moments” during his six-year presidency. “I look forward to your thought-provoking questions, (but) might I preempt you (on) one question always asked here, the one about my love life—to which the answer remains the same,” Mr. Aquino said, to much laughter from his audience. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO in an Interview last Aug 2014: What’s the first thing Aquino will do if he steps down in 2016? 

Eat delicious food. That’s the first thing President Benigno Aquino III will do if he does step down in 2016. “One year and ten months from now, palagay ko kasama ko si (Media Relations) Usec. (Rey) Marfil at saka si (Office of the Appointments Secretary) Asec. (Jun) Delantar sa July 1, the day after bumaba tayo sa puwesto, at kakain kami ng masarap talaga tapos may streamer na nakalagay sa likod namin: Kalayaan,” Aquino said in jest during an interview with Bombo Radyo on Thursday. (One year and ten months from now, I think I will be with Usec. Marfil and Asec. Delantar on July 1, the day after I step down from office, and we will eat delicious food while there’s a streamer posted behind us with the word: Freedom.) The President was responding to the radio anchor who asked him to say what first comes into his mind when he hears a certain phrase. The phrase mentioned that merited that answer was “PNoy in less than two years from now.” However, at the start of the interview, Aquino’s statements revolved around the possibility of a term extension. READ FULL EARLY REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Noy on Ruby preparations: Failure is unforgivable


President Aquino looks at a Philippine map during a meeting with officials of the NDRRMC at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday in preparation for Typhoon Ruby. AP

MANILA, DECEMBER 8, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero - President Aquino yesterday warned concerned government agencies that he would have no patience for excuses in failing to prepare for Typhoon Ruby.

Speaking with members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Aquino said any failure in the performance of their duties would be “quite unforgivable.”

“I will not be very patient with excuses after this event,” the President said during the NDRRMC meeting held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“We are more experienced now (because of Yolanda) so we should be able to do more,” he added.

Aquino said each agency should check on one another to ensure that all the necessary preparations are in place.

“I like everybody to be a busybody or pakialamero. You should not assume that everything will trickle down,” he said.

The President presided over the NDRRMC meeting that lasted for more than two hours.

Member agencies presented their preparations for the typhoon, which is expected to hit practically the entire country.

During the meeting, Aquino quizzed officials about their efforts to respond to the typhoon to avoid a repeat of the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda last year.

Among the concerns raised by the President was the stability of the prices of goods and possible looting incidents.

Aquino asked officials of the trade and interior departments to determine if the government could declare a state of national emergency to prevent unreasonable price increases in affected areas.

Such declaration would allow the President to issue rules to protect the people from hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation and other practices affecting the supply, distribution and movement of food, clothing, medicine, and other essential goods and services.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla reported to the President that some stores in Leyte are no longer selling goods for fear of being looted.

“Everybody’s panicking at this point including the groceries,” Petilla said.

Aquino asked Trade Undersecretary Victorio Dimagiba to check if they could send rolling stores or discount caravans to areas that may be hit by the typhoon.

The President also instructed the military and the police to send personnel to groceries and retail outlets to prevent looting and other criminal activities.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. assured the President that they are prepared to send troops to guard commercial establishments.

“Our forces will secure supermarkets so there will be no more repeat of what happened during Yolanda,” Catapang said.

Aquino also ordered the Philippine National Police to declare all policemen not in their designated posts as absent without leave (awol).

“The minute that there will be checking of attendance and one is absent, declare him as awol. It is not acceptable if someone assigned to the post is not there,” Aquino added.

The President also directed concerned agencies to find a safe area where assets being used for response can be pre-positioned.

Officials said the assets could not be placed in Guiuan and Hernani in Eastern Samar and Tacloban because they are located along the typhoon’s expected path.

Aquino ordered an inventory of all military assets that can be used for response.

Catapang said Cebu could be designated as repacking center because of the availability of C-130 cargo plane.

The President said that warehouses should be available for the stockpiling of relief goods.

Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera said around 100,000 family food packs are on standby at their national warehouse and are ready for distribution. She reported that 3,000 food packs have been sent to Borongan while 2,000 more will be given to Marabut in Samar.

Aquino wants safe evacuation sites for residents in disaster-prone areas.

The President also wants prompt and timely communications in affected areas.

For the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Aquino proposed the possible exemption from the truck ban of trucks carrying relief goods.

“Ruby presents a challenge. We have to be conscious of the sensitivities of our people,” Aquino said.

In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said authorities were doing their best to ensure the safety of people when asked if the zero casualty target remained and if there would be forced evacuation.

“In every opportunity we learn our lesson and what I can say for sure now is we learned our lesson from the Typhoon Yolanda experience,” Coloma said.

Coloma said the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s regional offices had prepared some 270,000 food packs amounting to P18 million along with other food and non-food items totaling P270 million.

He said they had been appealing to the people to follow the warnings of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council right away and its local units.

Coloma added preemptive evacuation was being implemented since any delay in removing people from low-lying areas could endanger the residents and even the rescue volunteers.

He stressed that local officials led by governors and mayors were expected to give utmost priority to people in danger areas.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said local government units have also learned to follow the safety guidelines set by the NDRRMC following the onslaught of Yolanda.

“If we always have an aspirational goal of zero casualty, then the attitude of the government and the ordinary citizens would be in a manner that would make sure that we are kept safe or we ourselves make the initiative to keep ourselves safe from the calamities,” he said.

On the possible storm surges that could affect coastal areas, Lacierda said they would let the Department of Science and Technology give more accurate predictions on their possible occurrence.

He said the government wanted proper information to be disseminated to the public to avoid panic and mass hysteria.

Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management said the NDRRMC funds were pegged at P2.61 billion while the balance for the Quick Response Fund (QRF) was P4.69 billion.

The breakdown of 2014 QRF per agency includes: Department of Agriculture - P405.8 million; Department of Education - P563.87 million; Department of Health - P500 million; Department of National Defense (Office of the Secretary) - P447.85 million; DND (Office of Civil Defense) - P764.47 million; Department of Social Welfare and Development - P1 billion; and Department of Transportation and Communications - P1 billion. With Aurea Calica, Lalaine Jimenea


FROM PHILSTAR

Help one another, Noy asks Pinoys By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 7, 2014 - 12:00am 5 51 googleplus0 0

Strong waves batter Legazpi Boulevard in Barangay Puro, Legazpi, Albay. EDD GUMBAN MANILA, Philippines - Help one another, President Aquino called on the Filipino people as the nation braces for the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby.

“All of us here were looking forward to having a quiet Christmas this year, to taking a breather and finding the time to recharge for 2015” but “as you are all well aware, Typhoon Ruby confronts us as a nation,” Aquino said in a speech at the Bulong Pulungan on Friday.

The President said every sector should be responsible, including the media in its reporting, so that people in affected areas would be guided instead of being unduly alarmed.

“Even as we ponder this point, let us bear in mind that it is the Christmas season, and it is incumbent upon all of us to demonstrate goodwill and good cheer,” Aquino said.

The President said his briefing with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reminded everyone “that we must do our utmost, leave nothing to chance, improve where we can, and match what we have done so well in the past.”

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who is in Eastern Samar as head of the national government frontline team, said over dzRB yesterday the President is receiving regular updates on the typhoon.

Roxas said Filipinos who wanted to help could donate to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“We know what is needed: noodles, canned goods, candles, batteries, blankets, mats, of course, rice... medicines,” he said.

Roxas said typhoon victims would also need tarpaulins, dry clothes, jackets and plastic.

He said supply routes would be cleared to ensure there would be no delay in the delivery of assistance.

“To Samar and the rest of the Visayas, let us help one another to overcome Ruby,” Roxas said, adding the people should be alert and not be hard-headed. He also advised residents not to resist evacuation to save their families.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Roxas also reminded local officials of the President’s directive to verify the accuracy of evacuation reports.

Local officials were tasked to certify the figures, for which they will be held accountable, Lacierda said.

Quick reaction teams Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reactivated its quick reaction teams (QRT)s in preparation for the typhoon.

Baldoz said QRTs must be ready to assess the extent of the damage of the typhoon to firms and establishments and provide DOLE’s package of assistance to affected workers.

She said the “cash-for-work” system should be in place for the affected residents. DOLE programs such as the Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program, Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers and Negosyo sa Kariton and Kabuhayan Starter Kits should be made available to the victims, she added.

Baldoz had also directed the DOLE’s Financial Management Service to set aside DOLE funds for emergency employment.

No to price hike

Amid reports of panic buying, Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez during a Mass on Friday appealed to traders not to raise the prices of commodities.

“Do not take advantage of others at this time of calamity. You’re not the only ones who have the right to live… it is a great sin against God and against love of your suffering brothers and sisters to use these trying times for your personal economic advantage,” Varquez said.

The diocese has opened the doors of its churches and seminary to residents evacuated from coastal communities.

Meanwhile, acting Health Secretary Janette Garin ordered field officials to transfer pregnant women in evacuation centers to government hospitals. She said regional directors and heads of government hospitals should visit evacuation centers on a daily basis.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson ordered building contractors with projects along the path of the typhoon to observe safety measures.

“All building contractors are directed to secure overhead cranes on top of buildings under construction and to provide safety signages in areas where there are potential risks of falling debris,” he said.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines in northern Luzon has prepared for deployment its linemen to attend to fallen power lines.

Telecoms set up facilities

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s Smart Communications and Sun Cellular provided wireless broadband devices and additional mobile phones to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to be used for hotline coordination with the NDRRMC.

PLDT is also installing five additional landlines and DSL data link for the OCD and TD-LTE wireless broadband links for the three command centers in Cebu City.

Various units reporting to the OCD have also been posting updates and reports via Batingaw, a mobile application co-developed by the agency, where users can post geo-located status with photos, among other emergency response functionalities such as sending safety status via text messages.

Globe Telecom corporate social responsibility director Fernando Esguerra said the company would set up communications facilities in the areas on the typhoon’s track.

“We want to be ready for any eventuality. We are empowering the local government units concerned to conduct libreng tawag service if the need arises,” Esguerra said in a statement.

“We are equipping them with emergency communication facilities so that they can do this while our security personnel are focused on ensuring that Globe employees and our systems are safe and intact,” he added.

Globe said portable generator sets would also be on standby in case of power interruption.

Share a ride

In Ormoc City, councilors urge residents to “share a ride” and “share their homes” with typhoon victims.

“Maybe they can adopt a family or two for a day or two,” Councilor Bennet Pongos Jr. said.

As of early yesterday morning, some 4,500 families are staying in evacuation centers. –With Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan, Janvic Mateo, Lawrence Agcaoili, Raymund Catindig, Lalaine Jimenea


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

PNoy turned Malampaya Fund to his  own 'pork' By Christine F. Herrera, Maricel V. Cruz | Dec. 03, 2014 at 12:01am

Lawmaker demands audit of Palace’s Special Fund


PHOTO TAKEN JUNE 14, 2014 ABAD AND AQUINO: President Aquino's P501 billion Special Purpose Funds (SPF) in the proposed 2015 budget will not be an unlimited presidential pork barrel, Malacañang said Thursday. Presidential Communications Operations Office chief Herminio Coloma Jr. said the SPF was intended for contingency expenditures and that including it in the national budget was based on "established management practice."

AN opposition lawmaker accused President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday of turning the P170 billion Malampaya Fund into his own pork barrel and releasing some P33 billion for non-energy-related projects, including the acquisition of refurbished US warships.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon demanded that the Commision on Audit release its special audit report on the Malampaya funds under Aquino and that the Palace account for the Special Fund.

In September 2013, or two months before the Supreme Court struck down the use of the Malampaya Fund for non-energy projects as unconstitutional, President Aquino released P15 billion for 10 projects, Ridon said.

“Where did the rest of the gas reserve proceeds go?” Ridon asked.

Ridon said he wondered how the President considered the purchase of US warships or financial assistance to public utility drivers to be related to energy development.

The non-energy projects included the acquisition or transfer of the USCGC Hamilton for P423.06 million; the transfer, dry-docking and periodic hull maintenance costs of Weather High Endurance Cutter Class Vessel for P880.61 million; the Public Transport Assistance Program (PTAP) - Pantawid Pasada for P300 million and another Pantawid Pasada for P150 million.

Ridon also took the COA to task for its failure to release its findings on the use of the Malampaya funds under President Aquino.

“COA’s refusal to divulge more details on how the Malampaya funds were utilized under the Aquino administration has created a blind spot in public accountability. While things are clearing up on how the P900-million Malampaya fund scam under the Arroyo administration came to be, the public is still left in the dark on how Aquino used Malampaya during his term as President,” he said.

At the Senate hearing on Monday, Ridon said, COA chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan said of the estimated P170 billion Malampaya gas reserve fund, a total of P33 billion has been released to various government agencies as of June 2013.

Of the P33 billion, Ridon said the President ordered the release of P15 billion for 10 projects.

Citing Palace documents, Ridon said, apart from the US war ships, the other Malampaya-funded projects were fuel requirement of National Power Corporation (NPC) - Small Power Utilities at P2 billion; fuel requirement, genset lease/rental and half of capital expenditures requirements of NPC-Small Power Utilities Group at P1.62 billion; sitio electrification project at P814.41 million; NPC’s short term loan facility with LBP (missionary electrification) at P3 billion; and barangay line enhancement and sitio electrification projects at P1.10 billion.

Tan also revealed that a “special audit” is currently being conducted to review the use of the Malampaya funds, saying that her agency found red flags on several fund releases, particularly in the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Interior and Local Government, Ridon said.

The chief state auditor, however, refused to give more details on the upcoming report, which she promised to release next year, he said.

“Since the Malampaya scam erupted last year, the Filipino people have been clamoring for the release of COA audit reports that cover the entire fund. Yet the COA chair has again dodged this request with another cliffhanger,” Ridon said.

In its ruling on the pork barrel issued last November, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the provisions of several laws that allow the President to use the Malampaya Fund for purposes other than energy related projects.

“With COA refusing to release its audit report on the Malampaya fund releases and the Aquino administration not releasing more details on the use of the special fund, the risk of a big-time corruption cover-up is very high,” Ridon noted.

Ridon said the Malampaya fund question was just another proof that the Palace’s “straight path” rhetoric is hollow.

“With billions of unaccounted public funds left in the discretion ofvthe President, we fear that a government-run mafia is orchestrating a big-time corruption scheme, with the aid of no less than COA itself,” Ridon said.

United Nationalist Alliance interim president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco lashed out at the manner by which the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee handled the Malampaya probe.

Tiangco said after wantonly crucifying Vice President Jejomar Binay in the court of public opinion based on mere “red flags” raised by COA from its Makati audits, Senator Teofisto Guingona III’s Blue Ribbon Committee was now so protective about disclosing preliminary findings of the state audit agency about the more than 15-billion worth of transactions involving the Malampaya Funds.

He also hit the Guingona panel for having a double standard, compelling the COA to present its preliminary report on the Makati City Hall Building 2, but refusing to do the same on the Malampaya Fund scam.

“Is it because the Malampaya audit could implicate, not just the former Arroyo allies who transferred to LP with the promise of protection from cases, but also the ‘Tuwid na Daan’ pretenders who are officials and allies of the LP-led Aquino administration?” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said if Guingona really wanted to ferret out the truth and go after those who were actively involved in siphoning the Malampaya Fund, then the Senate Blue Ribbon should also summon Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and order her to produce the five-and-a-half-hour recorded testimony of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

He challenged the Senate ethics committee to conduct on its own an investigation of any lawmakers mentioned in the Napoles sworn statement.

“But the Liberal Party allies in the Senate seem to be hiding something. That’s why they don’t want Napoles to appear before the Malampaya Fund probe,” Tiangco said.

Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, criticized the COA for the slow pace of its Malampaya Fund review.

“I find it unacceptable the admission of COA that it has yet to complete its audit report on the releases made from the Malampaya Fund,” said Binay.

The senator said she was baffled why COA was still on the preliminary review stage when it has already been eight years since “red flags” were raised. With Macon Ramos-Araneta


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Police torture thriving in Philippines under Noynoy—Amnesty Int’l Written by AFP and Tribune Wires Friday, 05 December 2014 00:00


Amnesty International secretary general, Salil Shetty, (L), shows a report of police torture during a meeting in Manila, the Philippines, on December 4, 2014. Thu 5:9PM GMT 0 2 Share -- Amnesty International has expressed serious concern about the widespread and routine use of torture against suspected criminals by police in the Philippines.

Torture of suspected criminals by police in the Philippines has thrived under the administration of President Aquino, human rights monitor Amnesty International said yesterday.

Dozens of beatings, rapes and electrocutions are being recorded by the country’s human rights commission every year, with many other cases going unreported, Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty told reporters.

“Torture by the police is very widespread and routine,” Shetty said.

Shetty said ending torture could be a “very important legacy” for Aquino, whose six-year term will end in 2016, but he accused the President of not doing enough to reform the police force.

“If you don’t acknowledge the problem, there can be no solution,” Shetty said.

Quoting data from the Philippine human rights commission, Amnesty said 457 torture cases were reported from 2001 to the middle of this year. The 75 cases recorded in 2013 was the highest in a single year.

But five years after the Philippines passed a landmark anti-torture legislation under previous president Gloria Arroyo, there have been no convictions, Shetty said.

“The single, most important reason there is torture in the Philippines is they (police) get away with it,” he said.

He said low salaries also contributed to the problem, with police officers torturing to extract confessions or extort money.

Amnesty also recommended establishing a body that is independent from the police to handle reports of torture, as the current system sees police investigating themselves.

Shetty said Aquino and the heads of the national police force and interior department did not respond to Amnesty’s requests for a dialog to discuss their report.

“Looking the other way will not help,” he said.

Asked to comment on Amnesty’s findings, Aquino’s spokesman, Herminio Coloma, said: “The government is pursuing its efforts to prosecute those violating the anti-torture law”.

The national police issued a statement contradicting Amnesty’s findings and insisting major reforms on human rights had been successfully implemented.

In the statement, police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said unspecified “disciplinary action” had been taken against some police officers who committed torture.

He did not address Amnesty’s complaint about no criminal convictions.

Philippine security forces gained notoriety for torture and other human rights violations during the two-decade reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, which ended with a “People Power” revolt in 1986.

Corruption and human rights abuses within the police and military have proved to be an enduring problem.

On Thursday, the nation’s Ombudsman recommended that the national police chief, a close ally of Aquino’s, be suspended over graft allegations.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Senator urged Aquino to name new PNP chief Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:38 AM | Friday, December 5th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Grace Poe urged President Benigno Aquino III “to immediately appoint a capable leader to run” the PNP during [Director General Alan] Purisima’s suspension.

“I hope for an immediate and orderly transition of leadership within the PNP to preserve public order and assure the people’s security this holiday season,” she said in a text message to reporters.

The Senate committee on public order, chaired by Poe, has inquired into allegations linking Purisima to anomalies.

Purisima is facing charges for plunder, graft and indirect bribery over his alleged “hidden mansion” in Nueva Ecija, the construction of his official quarters called the White House in Camp Crame and other charges over the contract with a courier service.

The charges of corruption and ill-gotten wealth have triggered calls for his resignation. Purisima, backed by the President, stood his ground.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III called on Purisima to quit following the Ombudsman’s order suspending him.

“He should resign, or retire, or whatever. He should remove himself from service already. If he wants, you can call it falling on your sword, on behalf of his boss, the President,” he told reporters.

Osmeña said Purisima should have resigned months ago if only to protect the PNP image.

The Senate public order committee recommended in early November that the Ombudsman further investigate gifts to Purisima, including a donation for his official residence and a big discount on his SUV.

Purisima was investigated for accepting P11.46 million from three construction executives for the construction of his official quarters and for receiving a big discount when he bought a 2013 Land Cruiser.

The committee said the huge discount for the SUV, bought for P1.5 million when its current market value was P4.3 million, amounted to a gift to the PNP chief “by reason of his office.” With a report from Gil Cabacungan


FROM THE INQUIRER

President can’t wait for the day when he turns Citizen Noy again Nikko Dizon
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:11 AM | Saturday, December 6th, 2014


PRESIDENT MEETS JOURNALISTS President Aquino answers a question from INQUIRER Lifestyle editor Thelma San Juan during the annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas party at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila on Friday. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

He won’t be Citizen Noy until 18 months from now, but already President Benigno Aquino III had to face questions on his personal plans once he completes his term on June 30, 2016.

But the President preempted one question from the journalists whose questions at Friday’s Bulong Pulungan forum ranged from the first thing he’d do on the afternoon of June 30, to his “happiest moments” during his six-year presidency.

“I look forward to your thought-provoking questions, (but) might I preempt you (on) one question always asked here, the one about my love life—to which the answer remains the same,” Mr. Aquino said, to much laughter from his audience.

At 54, the only son of democracy icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino, remains a bachelor.

At the forum, the President made it clear that he was looking forward to retiring from politics, saying that seeking another elective post was out of the question after he wraps up his term in 2016.

A year’s break

“Foremost on my mind, together with my Cabinet, is to take at least a year’s break to recharge and recover from all the tensions, turmoil (and) concerns over the past six years,” Mr. Aquino said. “I think I will try to look for a means to serve in another capacity rather than an elective office,” he added.

He was also toying with the idea of writing a book to help “institutionalize the lessons … learned” from his six years in office.

“We’d really want to interact with the youth and help shape the next generation so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. In exactly what form? I’m not exactly sure at this point (but) we are concerned with today’s issues,” the President said.

When a new President is sworn in noon of June 30, 2016, Mr. Aquino just might head home to his family’s residence on Times Street in Quezon City. He looks forward to staying in his own bed and in his own house, he said.

“… And perhaps looking forward to the following day when I don’t have to wake up too early. I can laze around and get used to living on Times (Street) again. And perhaps visit the neighborhood supermarket and fast food joints around,” the President said.

No classic cars

Criticized early in his administration for buying a secondhand Porsche, the President was also asked the dream car he would indulge in once he was a private citizen again. Well, he would have to check the 2015 models first before he can give an answer, Mr. Aquino said, adding that he wasn’t really into classic cars because “when I turn on the ignition switch, I want it to start all the time. I don’t want it to be (just) a labor of love.”

Music, it seems, would remain a constant in the private life of President Aquino who said that “music became more important,” during the many highs and lows of his presidency. He relied on jazz at night and religious songs “to calm down,” he said.

Mr. Aquino added: “Sometimes, you need to be filled with energy so it becomes either rock or some dance music. Sometimes, you need something really different to take your mind off things, so it becomes classical (music). Except rap, I still don’t like rap, with all due apologies.”

The President said he also tries to avoid listening to love songs if he could, a remark that again made his audience laugh.

And what made him happiest during his presidency?, he was asked.

Happiest moments

Seeing the country’s economy grow, the President replied, mentioning the Philippines’ credit ratings upgrade and investment grade status.

He added that seeing the government take on a proactive stance against disasters, instead of reacting only to the impacts of disasters, also made him happy.

There is a long list, “things are changing,” he said.

“But I guess, at the end of the day, (the happiest moment is) when you see the renewed optimism and the attitude that is different in our people, (when) it seems nothing is impossible … From the time we stepped into office when there was massive cynicism, when the primary goal was how to leave the Philippines, to now … (when) the young (are) coming back home. That, again, makes us all happy and makes all of this worthwhile,” Mr. Aquino said.

The 28-year-old Bulong Pulungan forum has had President Aquino as its special guest for its annual Christmas event for the past five years, conferring on him various awards for his governance, from last year’s “Man of Steel” award to this year’s the “Bosses’ Favorite” award.


EARLIER FROM THE INQUIRER

What’s the first thing Aquino will do if he steps down in 2016? Kristine Angeli Sabillo
@KSabilloINQ INQUIRER.net 12:55 PM | Thursday, August 28th, 2014



MANILA, Philippines – Eat delicious food. That’s the first thing President Benigno Aquino III will do if he does step down in 2016.

“One year and ten months from now, palagay ko kasama ko si (Media Relations) Usec. (Rey) Marfil at saka si (Office of the Appointments Secretary) Asec. (Jun) Delantar sa July 1, the day after bumaba tayo sa puwesto, at kakain kami ng masarap talaga tapos may streamer na nakalagay sa likod namin: Kalayaan,” Aquino said in jest during an interview with Bombo Radyo on Thursday.

(One year and ten months from now, I think I will be with Usec. Marfil and Asec. Delantar on July 1, the day after I step down from office, and we will eat delicious food while there’s a streamer posted behind us with the word: Freedom.)

The President was responding to the radio anchor who asked him to say what first comes into his mind when he hears a certain phrase.

The phrase mentioned that merited that answer was “PNoy in less than two years from now.”

However, at the start of the interview, Aquino’s statements revolved around the possibility of a term extension.

The President did not categorically answer the question on whether his openness to Charter change had anything to do with calls to extend his term.

“Ako ba ang nag-aambisyon na pahabain (Do I want my term to be extended)?” he asked in clarification.

“Sinabi ko naman noong una akong tumakbo hindi ako masokista. Pero at the same time, sabi ko nga makikinig ako sa anumang utos ng mga boss natin (When I first ran for President I said, I am no masochist. But at the same time, as I said, I will listen to whatever command my bosses give),” he said.

Aquino and his representatives have long been hounded by media for answers on whether Charter change will push through and if it will involve extending the term of the President.

But Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said there are still no moves from Malacañang to push for Charter change.

Aquino said he will continue to listen to the voice of his bosses.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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