HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEKEND ...

LP EXEC BATS FOR ROXAS-POE TEAM-UP 

DEC 20 ---Liberal Party stalwarts appear to be bereft of even a vice presidential candidate coming from their party, as they are now looking at an outsider to serve as the running mate of sentimental favorite, Liberal Party (LP) president and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas. Saying the LP would definitely consider forging coalitions with other political parties and independent personalities, especially those who are already in the majority coalition known to share the party’s ideals and principles and are committed to pursue the reforms and programs initiated by President Aquino, LP secretary general, Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, yesterday said the LP hierarchy is now seriously considering the tandem of Mar Roxas and Grace Poe for the 2016 presidential elections. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Lacson irrevocably resigned as Rehab Czar; now seeks creation of permanent disaster rehabilitation agency

Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson is proposing the creation of a permanent government agency to handle rehabilitation and recovery operations in areas hit by disasters. Lacson also confirmed that he submitted to President Aquino last Friday his irrevocable resignation as head of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) effective Feb. 10, 2015, in time for the revision of Republic Act 10121 or the act strengthening national disaster risk reduction and management system. “The bottom line is, we are a transition body and inevitably, we will have to fold tent down the road. I think it is wise to allot enough time for the permanent agency to take on the functions of OPARR,” Lacson said in an interview over dzMM. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: What PNoy loves about Pope Francis

President Aquino expressed admiration for Pope Francis for being a true "pastor" and for being in touch with the faithful. Answering a question during the youth summit of the Kristyanong Kabataan para sa Bayan (KBB) of the Jesus is Lord movement, Aquino said that the pope reminds him of members of the Catholic Church who took a stand during the martial law years. "Ipinapakita niya kasi 'yung pagbabalik sa nakagisnan kong Simbahan na kinabibilangan ko. Lalo na noong panahon ng martial law, marami sa relihiyoso ang talagang nanindigan at naging talagang…sinasabing witness for Christ. Mayroong mga ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Diyos na tila nakalimutan at hinamak ng mga otoridad," he said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Government to miss 2014 GDP growth target, will likely miss its 2015 growth target too -- DIOKNO  

PHOTO: BALISACAN ---During an interview with NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan on the sidelines of the ASEAN PPP Networking Forum held in Manila on Tuesday, it was obvious that he is no longer optimistic about hitting the country’s GDP growth target. Balisacan said it will be “very, very, very challenging” to meet the 6.5-percent GDP growth target for the whole year, even if it means tapping the low-end range of the goal. TRIBUNE REPORT: With 2014 coming to a close, there’s nothing the Philippine government can do to salvage its below par economic performance. This year the contribution of government will be neutral at best, and negative at worst. The culprits will be public construction and government consumption of final goods. Both will be negative to flat. Sadly, it is in these two areas where government can directly influence growth. For sure, we cannot influence the economic performance of the rest of the world. What’s happening in Europe, Japan and China, though relevant to our strong and sustained growth, is not within our control. The other thing that we don’t control is climate change or the occurrence of natural calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and flooding, etc. READ DIOKNO'S FULL REPORT AND HIS FORECAST FOR 2014-2015....

ALSO Audit Report from COA: P2.7B in pork wasted by local executives

The Commission on Audit has reported that governors and mayors squandered P2.7 billion in pork barrel funds in 2013—the last year of the funds’ deployment after the system was declared unconstitutional—either because they were corrupted or misused or stashed away in their bank accounts to collect interest earnings. FILE PHOTO These funds were traced to LGUs in Metro Manila (National Capital Region) with P594.319 million; Western Visayas (Region 6) with P126.161 million; Bicol (Region 5) with P100.766 million; Calabarzon (Region 4-A) with P58.148 million; Cagayan Valley (Region 2) with P53.378 million; Central Visayas (Region 7) with P34.933 million; Ilocos (Region 1) with P33.328 million. Fund misuse was also noted among LGUs in Mimaropa (Region 4-B) with P30.915 million; Davao (Region 11) with P26.087 million; Soccksargen (Region 12) with P26.087 million; Central Luzon (Region 3) with P22.885 million; Northern Mindanao (Region 10) with P9.590 million; Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 11) with P7.415 million; Eastern Visayas (Region 8) with P5 million; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with P 2.456 million; and Caraga (Region 13) with P870,000. READ FULL REPORT FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO: Bangsamoro law critics adopting anti-people stance — MILF 

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is branding the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as the “menu” for the country’s peace and development, claiming the proposed law has the “overwhelming” support from the Moros and tagged those who are opposing it as “anti-people.”  In an editorial posted over its website, the MILF also said it is surprised that those harping negative sentiments on BBL are people outside the jurisdiction of the proposed law.
It, however, did not name names. The MILF stressed the BBL, which is currently undergoing scrutiny by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is designed to address the decades-long Moro Question that claimed the lives more than 200,000 people.
It blamed the conflict to the country’s status lagging behind other neighboring Southeast Asian countries.READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Palace welcomes New People’s Army’s ceasefire declaration

---------The Communist Party of the Philippines on Wednesday declared a ceasefire during the holidays and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis. The truce will cover the following dates: Dec. 24, 2014 to Dec. 26, 2014; Dec. 31, 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015; and Jan. 15, 2015 to Jan. 19, 2015. The NPA has ordered its fighters to desist from carrying out offensive operations against the police and the military, as well as the government’s paramilitary groups. It said the declaration was issued in solidarity with the Filipino people as they observe the traditional holidays, which coincide with the CPP anniversary celebration on December 26. READ FULL REPORT FROM THE BEGINNING...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

LP exec bats for Roxas-Poe team-up


ROXAS

MANILA, DECEMBER 22, 2014 (TRIBUNE)  Written by Charlie V. Manalo - Liberal Party stalwarts appear to be bereft of even a vice presidential candidate coming from their party, as they are now looking at an outsider to serve as the running mate of sentimental favorite, Liberal Party (LP) president and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.

Saying the LP would definitely consider forging coalitions with other political parties and independent personalities, especially those who are already in the majority coalition known to share the party’s ideals and principles and are committed to pursue the reforms and programs initiated by President Aquino, LP secretary general, Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, yesterday said the LP hierarchy is now seriously considering the tandem of Mar Roxas and Grace Poe for the 2016 presidential elections.

Sarmiento said proposals by other LP members for a Roxas- Poe tandem would be definitely welcomed as he noted that this kind of team-up combines leadership, experience and expertise in governance with mass appeal, honesty and idealism. “

 A Roxas-Poe team in 2016 is really worth considering. They can complement each other in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Secretary Roxas has a deep experience in governance and has a proven track record as a public servant but he seems to lack the “masa” appeal of Senator Poe,” Sarmiento said.

“Secretary Roxas will be very effective in managing the nation and in pursuing the reforms and programs that were started by President Aquino while Senator Poe can be the rallying figure for our people to unite and work together in building our nation,” he added.

Sarmiento said that it can’t be denied that Roxas worked really hard to serve the nation and has always excelled in all his endeavors long before he became a favorite target of demolition attacks by political foes.

He said that Roxas remains the sentimental choice for most LP members as their presidential standard bearer because of their personal knowledge of his sacrifices and accomplishments as President Aquino’s “troubleshooter.”

“He had been a congressman, a senator and a member of the Cabinet in different capacities and has excelled in all these positions. He is one of President’s Aquino’s most reliable troubleshooters in nearly all aspects of governance because he is an outstanding problem solver,” Sarmiento said.

With Senator Poe as partner, Sarmiento said that Roxas would be more effective in reversing the false perceptions about him as a result of relentless political mudslinging.

It is the LPs and their allies in the Senate who have been relentlessly demonizing Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay to bring down his ratings in pre-election surveys.

Binay and his camp have exposed the LP demolition job against him through an Oplan Stop Nognog” to stop him from winning the 2016 presidential race.

The LP executive said Senator Poe, as Roxas’ running mate, will not have to worry about the huge logistical requirement and the far-reaching political machinery that is needed to run a national political campaign.

An opportunity to serve as Vice-President can also provide Senator Poe the needed training to prepare her to run for President in 2022.

“I agree with some observations that Senator Poe would be a perfect choice as Secretary Roxas’ running mate because like him, she also shares the vision and the principles of President Aquino and the Liberal Party. They both share the same passion to serve our people and both are unblemished by corruption,” Sarmiento said.

“The LP and Secretary Roxas have a political machinery that extends even to the smallest barangay and the expertise to effectively run a nation. Senator Poe has the charisma and the idealism to inspire unity among our people,” he said.

Senator Poe, however, has been portraying herself as a reluctant candidate for higher positions although it has been noted that she has been taking a high profile stand since she was seen as a presidential/vice presidential material.

She is currently being played up by the yellow media as a strong presidential candidate, even as Binay, despite his ratings plunging, remains as the leading presidential bet.


FROM PHILSTAR

Lacson esigned as Rehad Czar; seeks creation of permanent disaster rehabilitation agency By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


LACSON

MANILA, Philippines - Rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson is proposing the creation of a permanent government agency to handle rehabilitation and recovery operations in areas hit by disasters.

Lacson also confirmed that he submitted to President Aquino last Friday his irrevocable resignation as head of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) effective Feb. 10, 2015, in time for the revision of Republic Act 10121 or the act strengthening national disaster risk reduction and management system.

“The bottom line is, we are a transition body and inevitably, we will have to fold tent down the road. I think it is wise to allot enough time for the permanent agency to take on the functions of OPARR,” Lacson said in an interview over dzMM.

He noted that OPARR’s mandate only covers the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year. So after Typhoon Ruby, people asked if OPARR would also extend its rehabilitation efforts to those affected by the recent storm.

“I have made some recommendations to the President when I submitted the OPARR report. After Typhoon Ruby hit the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda, there is a need to have a permanent government agency that will focus on the rehabilitation of areas affected by storms because typhoons always hit the country,” he explained.

A study shows that the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year. Each year, typhoons and monsoon rains cause landslides, flooding and other devastating effects on communities all over the country.

Lacson noted that at present, the government is only creating an ad hoc office whenever a typhoon lashes parts of the country.

Lacson is working for the turnover of the mandate of OPARR to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a government agency in charge of disaster mitigation. He said there could be a one-month transition period that should start in January.


FROM ABS-CBN

What PNoy loves about Pope Francis By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News Posted at 12/19/2014 3:01 PM | Updated as of 12/19/2014 3:02 PM

MANILA - President Aquino expressed admiration for Pope Francis for being a true "pastor" and for being in touch with the faithful.

Answering a question during the youth summit of the Kristyanong Kabataan para sa Bayan (KBB) of the Jesus is Lord movement, Aquino said that the pope reminds him of members of the Catholic Church who took a stand during the martial law years.

"Ipinapakita niya kasi 'yung pagbabalik sa nakagisnan kong Simbahan na kinabibilangan ko. Lalo na noong panahon ng martial law, marami sa relihiyoso ang talagang nanindigan at naging talagang…sinasabing witness for Christ. Mayroong mga ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Diyos na tila nakalimutan at hinamak ng mga otoridad," he said.

"Itong Papang ito ay tila naibabalik 'yung konsepto ng pagiging pastor sa kanyang flock. Hindi 'yung masyadong malayo, hindi parang hindi ka nakikita, ang mga dinadaanan ng kanyang sinasakupan. Itong Papang ito ay talagang mukhang binubuhay ang konsepto na siya dapat ang nag-aaruga sa tinatawag nating flock," Aquino said in an open forum

Aquino said he would discuss the state of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, among other topics, when he meets with Pope Francis at the Palace in January.

"So siguro mapapag-usapan namin 'yung estado ng Simbahan na kinabibilangan namin dito. Siguro mapapag-usapan din namin 'yung mga ginagawa naming hakbang para magkaroon ng tinatawag na kingdom of God here on this earth habang nandito tayo. Siguro magpapasalamat ako sa tulong na binibigay niya na inspirasyon na napakarami na buhay ang Simbahang kinabibilangan namin as opposed to 'yung tila parang napaka-divorced sa nangyayari sa lipunan," Aquino said.

The Pope will visit the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015.


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Government to miss 2014 GDP growth target, will likely miss its 2015 growth target too Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00


PHOTO: BALISACAB ---During an interview with NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan on the sidelines of the ASEAN PPP Networking Forum held in Manila on Tuesday, it was obvious that he is no longer optimistic about hitting the country’s GDP growth target. Balisacan said it will be “very, very, very challenging” to meet the 6.5-percent GDP growth target for the whole year, even if it means tapping the low-end range of the goal. MANILA BULLETIN, DEC 16, 2014.

With 2014 coming to a close, there’s nothing the Philippine government can do to salvage its below par economic performance. This year the contribution of government will be neutral at best, and negative at worst. The culprits will be public construction and government consumption of final goods. Both will be negative to flat. Sadly, it is in these two areas where government can directly influence growth.

For sure, we cannot influence the economic performance of the rest of the world. What’s happening in Europe, Japan and China, though relevant to our strong and sustained growth, is not within our control. The other thing that we don’t control is climate change or the occurrence of natural calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and flooding, etc. We can partly control agricultural output, however.

 We can invest in water impounding facilities and irrigation systems to take care of wide weather swings. We can build farm-to-market roads to ensure that agriculture produce in the hinterlands reaches the markets efficiently and economically. We can break up large farms into small ones. Probably not a good idea from economic efficiency viewpoint, though it may be socially desirable. But we can minimize the negative impact of agrarian reform by doing it well and quickly. We can adopt modern technologies, seeds, and pesticides to raise farm productivity.

But, isn’t it ironic that most scams and scandals took place, and perhaps still taking place, in the agricultural sector? The fertilizer scam, the irrigation scandal, the National Food Authority scam, and others—all these happened in the agriculture sector in the guise of helping poor farmers. What a shame!

Government can build more and better roads, bridges, airports, seaports, and other infrastructure. You hit two birds with one stone. You perk up the economy and you close the infrastructure gap. Unfortunately, the government continues to underprovide for public infrastructure. And the little money that Congress had authorized the Executive Branch to spend for infrastructure, the latter failed to spend in full. I’ve said this many times before, and I’ll say it again: we are not investing enough for “hard” public infrastructure.

 We should be spending from 5% to 7% of GDP for public infrastructure. Yet we have been spending only about 2% of GDP. At that rate, it will take us forever to catch up with our Asean-5 peers.

The economy is slowing GDP growth, year-on-year Source: Government authorities

Agriculture continues to underperform. But it would be a mistake to blame killer typhoon Yolanda for its poor output since it performed well in the second quarter and poorly in the third quarter. Both the industry and services sectors showed signs of slowing down. For industry, it grew 9.3% in 2013 and 6.9% in the first three quarters of 2014 while services expanded 7.3% in 2013 and 6.1% in the first three quarters of 2014.

Industry showing signs of weakness GDP growth, year-on-year Source: Government authorities

While it remains robust, the growth of manufacturing is decelerating. Growth of the construction has been erratic, growing in pits and stops. From 2013 to 2014, its growth has been cut by more than half.

From a very deep hole in 2010 and 2011, public construction emerged strongly in 2012 and 2013. However, it was flat in 2014. Private construction, on the other hand, had double-digit growth in Q2 and Q3 in 2014, after it plunged in Q1. Is growth sustainable?

Private construction is roughly ¾ of total construction. Electricity, gas, and water sub-sector have expanded modestly and with a downward bias. The services sector accounts for more than half of the economy, hence its performance could pull down or boost overall economic growth significantly. The average GDP growth for the first three quarters of 2014 is weaker than the full year growth of 2013.

The transport sub-sector is the only exception. Banks and financial intermediaries slowed down the most. Real estate, renting, and business activity dipped slightly but remained robust. Public administration and defense decelerated sharply.

The economy’s bread and butter is decelerating too GDP growth, year-on-year Source: Government authorities

Election spending boosts economic growth GDP growth, quarterly, year-on-year Source: Government authorities

ECONOMIC FORECAST FOR 2014 AND 2015

I forecast that the economy will grow at 5.9% in 2014 (lower than the official forecast of 6.5% to 7.5%) and 6.2% in 2015 (lower than the official forecast of 7.0% to 8.0%).

The lower end of the 2014 economic goal is now virtually unreachable because the year is practically over. Isn’t an 8.2% growth or higher possible in the fourth quarter? No. The two recent peaks — the first and second quarters of 2010 when the economy grew 8.2% and 8.9%, respectively — are not possible because two conditions are missing, namely: base effect and election spending. If you’re a “half-full” person, you’ll say 2015 will be a better year.

But if you’re a ‘half-empty’ chap, you’ll say it will be one of those years when the administration will not meet its lofty goals. Inflation will be at 4.2% in 2014 and 3.5% in 2015 owing to lower oil and electricity prices.

Both are within the government’s targets. Unemployment rate will remain elevated at 7.0% in 2014 and 2015, higher than the official forecasts of 6.7% and 6.6%, respectively.

More workers will join the labor force — approximately 1.1 to 1.2 million — much more than what the economy can absorb in the near — and medium-term. The creation of good jobs will continue to be a challenge for the present administration and the next.


FROM THE INQUIRER

COA: P2.7B in pork wasted by local executives Gil C. Cabacungan @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:08 AM | Monday, December 22nd, 2014


The Commission on Audit has reported that governors and mayors squandered P2.7 billion in pork barrel funds in 2013—the last year of the funds’ deployment after the system was declared unconstitutional—either because they were corrupted or misused or stashed away in their bank accounts to collect interest earnings. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Audit (COA) has reported that governors and mayors squandered P2.7 billion in pork barrel funds in 2013—the last year of the funds’ deployment after the system was declared unconstitutional—either because they were corrupted or misused or stashed away in their bank accounts to collect interest earnings.

A COA summary report, posted on the agency’s website, on how local government units (LGUs) used their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2013 showed that at least P1.035 billion of the allocations given by representatives and senators were used “inappropriately.”

The COA said some of the LGUs it audited in 2013 abused their pork barrel funds by using these on projects not specified in the special allotment release orders (Saro) of the PDAF or the projects identified by the legislators who gave the funds.

A number of LGUs exceeded the cash limits in paying cash advances for pork barrel projects, it said. The LGUs also did not follow National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 537 issued in February 2012 in the disbursement of funds, it said.

NBC 537 was issued to enforce strict guidelines on the use of pork barrel funds, including designating how much could be used for soft (such as medical aid and livelihood assistance) and hard or infrastructure projects and what kind of multipurpose vehicles, information technology equipment and cultural programs were allowed for PDAF funding.

Idle funds

In the wake of widespread public outrage at the alleged diversion of P10 billion in PDAF allocations to ghost projects and kickbacks, the Supreme Court ruled on Nov. 19, 2013, that the congressional pork barrel system was unconstitutional.

At the time the ruling was handed down, the COA said that P1.106 billion in idle PDAF allocations were still under the control of governors and mayors who had not returned the money to the National Treasury when they were audited this year.

The COA said this was contrary to the Supreme Court decision, which stated that the remaining PDAF funds covered by the permanent injunction shall not be disbursed but instead reverted to the unappropriated surplus of the general fund.

These funds were traced to LGUs in Metro Manila (National Capital Region) with P594.319 million; Western Visayas (Region 6) with P126.161 million; Bicol (Region 5) with P100.766 million; Calabarzon (Region 4-A) with P58.148 million; Cagayan Valley (Region 2) with P53.378 million; Central Visayas (Region 7) with P34.933 million; Ilocos (Region 1) with P33.328 million.

Fund misuse was also noted among LGUs in Mimaropa (Region 4-B) with P30.915 million; Davao (Region 11) with P26.087 million; Soccksargen (Region 12) with P26.087 million; Central Luzon (Region 3) with P22.885 million; Northern Mindanao (Region 10) with P9.590 million; Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 11) with P7.415 million; Eastern Visayas (Region 8) with P5 million; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with P 2.456 million; and Caraga (Region 13) with P870,000.

Red flags

The COA also revealed that PDAF disbursements to LGUs worth P547.082 million were red-flagged with at least 91 governors and mayors providing zero or incomplete supporting documents for pork projects, and 11 LGUs failing to indicate amounts of their disbursements in violation of the Section 4 of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, which required that all claims against government funds shall be supported with complete documentation.

Four LGUs implemented PDAF projects without public bidding while one LGU conducted public bidding even after the Supreme Court had banned pork barrel funds, the COA said.

Another seven LGUs did not report their receipt and use of PDAF on their websites as mandated.

The COA described the PDAF as discretionary funds to members of Congress and appropriated as lump-sum funds in the General Appropriations Act.

“[The] PDAF does not pass through the normal budgetary process of having to be initiated by the Executive branch. Its main purpose is to give legislators direct access to funding for projects that will have specific impact on their constituents,” it said.

“While legislators have the prerogative to choose the projects, their implementation is the responsibility of the agencies to which the funding allocation is directly released by the Department of Budget and Management,” it said.

The PDAF could be used only for public works, specific national defense spending, agricultural subsidies, buildings and roads, scholarships and medical expenses.


FROM THE TRIBUNE

Bangsamoro law critics adopting anti-people stance — MILF Written by Mario J. Mallari Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00 By Mario J. Mallari


All the areas in the Autonomous Region could be included if a majority of voters decide to be included. Here is a list of some of the places, which can be included if the people vote for it: BASILAN: Most of Basilan and Isabella City JOLO/LANAO DEL NORTE:Baloi Marawi City Munai Nunungan Pantar Tagoloan Tangkal MAGUINDANAO/Cotabato City NORTH COTABATO:Aleosan Carmen Kabacan Midsayap Pigkawayan Pikit SULU --All the places around the above areas can vote to join the Bangsamoro too! But before they vote, there must be a request from the local government or ten percent of voters living in the place to join the vote.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is branding the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as the “menu” for the country’s peace and development, claiming the proposed law has the “overwhelming” support from the Moros and tagged those who are opposing it as “anti-people.”

In an editorial posted over its website, the MILF also said it is surprised that those harping negative sentiments on BBL are people outside the jurisdiction of the proposed law.
It, however, did not name names.

The MILF stressed the BBL, which is currently undergoing scrutiny by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is designed to address the decades-long Moro Question that claimed the lives more than 200,000 people.

It blamed the conflict to the country’s status lagging behind other neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

“As clearly stated time and again, the BBL is a menu to address the Moro Problem or Question which has pestered the country for decades and which caused it to lag far behind its Asian neighbors,” the MILF claimed.

“Solving this problem is solving the nation’s problem. The BBL is a menu for peace, development and unity of this country,” it added.

The MILF maintained that the BBL is for the entire Bangsamoro inhabitants – Muslims, Christians and indigenous peoples (IPs), who were given special privileges under the proposed law.

“This is the reason – never mind the spoilers — that whoever criticizes the BBL is adopting an anti-people stance. The BBL is for the entire inhabitants of the Bangsamoro, be they Muslims, IPs or Christians. Being Bangsamoro is only an identity; it does not confer any privileges,” the MILF said.

“If any group who has been given special privileges in the BBL, they are the IPs,” it added.
The MILF even noted the supposed silence of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari on BBL.

“Clearly the Moros are overwhelmingly behind the proposed law, including those in the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. Even MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari is silent these days on the BBL,” the MILF said.

“We do not expect him to come out openly for the BBL, but just to be mum on the BBL is already a sign of greatness in the offing,” the MILF said of Misuari.

“To date, there is hardly any Moro leader or politician who has not expressed support to the BBL. We are sure everybody will be on board soon,” it further said.

Earlier, however, both panel heads of the Senate – Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Congress, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, have noted provisions in the BBL that could be similar to the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) which was declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Rodriguez said his panel is seriously considering the concerns raised against some provisions in the BBL that may be declared unconstitutional by the SC, such as allowing other areas outside the Bangsamoro territory to also join the entity upon a petition of at least 10 percent of the constituents; creation of an internal audit body aside from the Commission on Audit (CoA); the duplication of the power of the Ombudsman to probe its officials; the establishment of its own civil service, its own human rights body, and its own poll body that would oversee elections in the sub-state.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government which oversees the deliberations of the BBL, seconded the contention aired by House counterparts.

Marcos highlighted the grounds used by the high tribunal in declaring as unconstitutional the MoA-AD which was the agreement signed during the term of President Arroyo that sought to create the Bangsamoro juridical entity saying some of the attributes are also present in the BBL

The senator also said the Philippine Constitution Association, in a position paper, also cited several constitutional questions.

On top of these, Marcos said, there are some “administrative” concerns also facing legal issues.


FROM PRESIDENTIAL WEBSITE

Palace welcomes New People’s Army’s ceasefire declaration December 20, 2014


PNoy

The Palace welcomes the ceasefire declared by the New People’s Army (NPA) for the holidays and the Papal visit next month, an official said, expressing hope that the gesture would lead to a long-term solution to the country’s insurgency problem.

“Ang pagpapahayag ng tigil putukan sa panahon ng Kapaskuhan at sa napipintong pagdalaw ng Santo Papa ay makatutulong sa pagtamo ng katahimikan sa ating pamayanan at kaligtasan mula sa ligalig at pangamba,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“Nawa’y magsilbing tulay din ito sa pagbuo ng matatag na batayan para sa pagresolba sa mga usaping naging balakid sa pagkakaunawaan ng mga nagtutunggaling puwersa sa lipunang Pilipino,” he added.

The Communist Party of the Philippines on Wednesday declared a ceasefire during the holidays and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis. The truce will cover the following dates: Dec. 24, 2014 to Dec. 26, 2014; Dec. 31, 2014 to Jan. 1, 2015; and Jan. 15, 2015 to Jan. 19, 2015.

The NPA has ordered its fighters to desist from carrying out offensive operations against the police and the military, as well as the government’s paramilitary groups.

It said the declaration was issued in solidarity with the Filipino people as they observe the traditional holidays, which coincide with the CPP anniversary celebration on December 26.

According to the rebels, the ceasefire was also issued in deference to the visit of Pope Francis.

Early this week, the military declared a month-long ceasefire against the communist rebels, also for the same reasons.

The unilateral ceasefire will start on the midnight of Dec. 18 and end on the midnight of Jan. 19.

The Philippine government has been battling communist insurgents for several decades. Government estimates put the rebels at 4,000, mostly in Mindanao.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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