NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

AQUINO: FOES, CRITICS BEHIND MY COLLAPSE RUMORS


Aquino said his critics continue their attacks on his leadership to divide the nation and to bring back the old system.
- President Benigno Aquino III on Monday accused his political enemies and critics of spreading rumors about his health. In his speech at a briefing on the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 project in Quezon province, Aquino again dispelled reports that he collapsed in Malacañang on Friday and was admitted to an intensive care unit. Also denying that he has a serious illness, Aquino described such reports on his health as mere gossips or "make-believe."  Aquino belied claims that the administration was behind the rumors to gain public sympathy amid the backlash over the Mamasapano incident. He suspected that his political foes and critics were the ones who started the rumors to sow confusion and discord and to advance their agenda.  "Talaga naman pong para sa mga pursigido nating kritiko, tila sala init sala sa lamig ang aming sitwasyon. Pagtitiwalaan po ba natin ang mga katunggali natin sa tuwid na daan gayong umaabot na sa sukdulan at walang pakundangan ang pagnanais nilang magdulot ng agam-agam at kaguluhan, pati sa pag-iisip ng publiko," Aquino said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino says, 'Rivals fear my endorsement in 2016'


AQUINO   TIAONG, Quezon: PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday was firing on all cylinders as he made his first public appearance since rumors spread over the weekend that he had collapsed and was critically ill.  Speaking to reporters during a briefing about the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 project in Tiaong, Quezon, a combative Aquino accused his political rivals and critics of spreading rumors about his health. He also dismissed claims that the administration was even behind it to gain public sympathy amid the backlash over the Mamasapano incident. “[I’m sure you have heard of the rumors that spread Friday midnight, entering Saturday. [The rumors] said I collapsed in Malacañang, that I have a serious illness, while others said I was in the ICU [intensive care unit]. When they saw me Saturday night with no health problems, a new rumor came out, that it was us spreading the rumors to get the public’s sympathy],” the President said in Filipino. READ MORE...

ALSO Trillanes: Poe out as Liberal bet


TRILLANES  THE ruling Liberal Party may no longer draft Senator Grace Poe as its standard bearer in the 2016 elections after the unfavorable findings of her committee that “hurt” President Noynoy Aquino, according to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.  Trillanes, who also announced that he would run for vice president because “the people are not ready for a Trillanes presidency,” said the party may instead settle for Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas despite his poor showing various election surveys.  “Siempre, ‘yong kukunin mong President iyong makakatulong sa iyo [Of course, the one you will get for President will someone who can help you],” Trillanes said during the weekly “Kapihan sa Senado.”   But after the report of her committee which spelled out the blunders Aquino committed over the police operation that resulted in the death of 67 people, Trillanes doubts if the Liberal Party will still field Poe as its presidential bet.   As for himself, Trillanes said he will no longer seek the presidency a day after the latest voter preference survey by pollster Pulse Asia showed him at eighth place among possible contenders with a rating of only 2 percent.READ MORE...

ALSO: Trillanes faces expulsion from Senate
(Trillanes, in a radio interview, maintained that there could not be any grounds for his expulsion as what he had revealed so far were statements issued to him by Army officers and that he has their consent in divulging it to the public).


FOR VIOLATING CHAMBER RULES  ----
A senator may be facing possible expulsion from the upper chamber for violating the Senate rules by disclosing information raised during the Senate’s “executive session.” Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes, who over the weekend revealed some of the confidential information discussed during closed-door proceedings concerning the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers’ Mamasapano operation, yesterday remained adamant in claiming that he committed no offense insofar as upholding the sanctity of executive sessions in the Senate. But his statement appears to contradict others who have pointed out that the claims he had bared were indeed part of the executive sessions presided by Sen. Grace Poe, overall chairman in the Senate’s inquiry on the Mamasapano incident, and worse, such claims were deemed unmeritorious by senators. While the matter on an intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) engaging some military officials and soldiers to a drinking spree on the eve of the Mamasapano mission indeed cropped up during the executive session, it was not pursued by senators as it was not related at all to the botched Jan. 25 SAF operation. “Initially it was mentioned in passing by one of those being grilled in the executive session,” sources said, referring to the said “drinking spree” incident. Senators were then prompted to call upon relieved SAF director Gen. Getulio Napenas anew to validate the then still “insinuation” made by a military official that they were treated to a night out, supposedly to prevent the Army to operate on the day of the mission or to whether they were preparing for the mission. READ MORE...

ALSO: Ally demands Noy show all Mamasapano cards
(STOP INSTALLMENT DISCLOSURE — SONNY ANGARA)


ANGARA  
Even a Palace ally in the Senate made a demand that President Aquino come clean on the Mamasapano debacle and for Aquino to finally lay down all his cards on the table instead of providing the public with his piecemeal account of his participation in Oplan Exodus. Oplan Exodus was the police mission launched last Jan. 25 that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan but which tragically went awry resulting in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Sen. Sonny Angara said Aquino should reveal all he knows of the Mamasapano operation instead of making partial disclosure on the issue. While Angara expressed belief that Aquino cannot be held criminally liable or be held accountable as a result of “command responsibility,” he disapproved of the manner in which Malacañang has been giving piecemeal disclosures on the actions taken by the President concerning the Jan. 25 incident.  Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in defending Aquino on his refusal to cooperate in the various probes held on the tragedy and instead uses public appearances to explain his side said Aquino is not done yet in giving a full account of his participation in the police mission. “We are appealing that (his explanation) is not given in an installment basis, hopefully it is made through full payment,” the senator commented to reporters, given the latest revelations made by Aquino that allegedly, resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima “disobeyed” his order to inform and coordinate with PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina in carrying out the mission. READ MORE...

ALSO: Public disapproval mounts vs. PNoy’s peace, law enforcement efforts


More Filipinos disapproved of President Benigno Aquino III’s efforts to promote peace and to enforce the rule of law after the deadly January 25 Mamasapano incident, Pulse Asia survey results showed Tuesday. The poll conducted earlier this month revealed that three out of every 10 Filipinos (29 percent) disapprove of the Aquino government’s performance in terms of "increasing peace in the country.” This is just one of the findings in the survey results. Four in every 10 Filipinos (40 percent) nevertheless still approve of the government’s peace efforts, although this figure is lower compared to the 45-percent approval rating on the same issue last November. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy hosts lunch for Lady Eagles, Lady Spikers, calls for peace
("At siguro matanong ko rin sa sarili ko: At alam naman po nilang hindi na ako tatakbo next year, bakit ba pinupuntirya na nila parati akong banatan, banatan, at banatan?" Aquino added.)


The Ateneo men's and women's volleyball squads and the La Salle Lady Spikers pay a courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino III at the Malacañang Palace on Tuesday.
Malacañang photo  
MANILA, Philippines – Archrivals Ateneo Lady Eagles and La Salle Lady Spikers paid a courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday at Malacañang following a thrilling finals series in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.  Aquino hosted a lunch with the back-to-back champions Lady Eagles and second placer Lady Spikers along with men's champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.  The Ateneo Economics graduate then acknowledged the healthy competition between the two women's teams, saying that despite clashing for the title, they still exemplified sportsmanship.  “Ang ikinatutuwa ko po ay noong magbasa ako ng diyaryo sa sumunod na araw nitong huling labanan. Ang nadatnan kong larawan: May nakasuot ng berde at may mga nakasuot ng bughaw, nagyakapan. Tapos na ang laban, naroon kayong mga manlalaro’t taos-pusong binabati ang isa’t isa. Sa kabila ng mahigpit na kompetisyon at matinding pressure na manalo, pinairal ninyo ay ang spirit of unity and sportsmanship. Di ba’t napakaganda nun?” Aquino said while admitting that he failed to watch the game even on television due to other commitments. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino suspects health rumors efforts to weaken his endorsement in 2016


TIAONG, Quezon: PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday was firing on all cylinders as he made his first public appearance since rumors spread over the weekend that he had collapsed and was critically ill.  Speaking to reporters during a briefing about the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 project in Tiaong, Quezon, a combative Aquino accused his political rivals and critics of spreading rumors about his health. He also dismissed claims that the administration was even behind it to gain public sympathy amid the backlash over the Mamasapano incident.  “[I’m sure you have heard of the rumors that spread Friday midnight, entering Saturday. [The rumors] said I collapsed in Malacañang, that I have a serious illness, while others said I was in the ICU [intensive care unit]. When they saw me Saturday night with no health problems, a new rumor came out, that it was us spreading the rumors to get the public’s sympathy],” the President said in Filipino.  “[To those who believe this, listen to the wise words from the elderly: We gain nothing from gossips. Indeed our determined critics will find fault in everything we do],” he added. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Aquino: Foes, critics behind collapse rumors


 Aquino said his critics continue their attacks on his leadership to divide the nation and to bring back the old system.

MANILA, MARCH 30, 2015 (INQUIRER) By Louis Bacani - President Benigno Aquino III on Monday accused his political enemies and critics of spreading rumors about his health.

In his speech at a briefing on the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 project in Quezon province, Aquino again dispelled reports that he collapsed in Malacañang on Friday and was admitted to an intensive care unit.

Also denying that he has a serious illness, Aquino described such reports on his health as mere gossips or "make-believe."

Aquino belied claims that the administration was behind the rumors to gain public sympathy amid the backlash over the Mamasapano incident.

He suspected that his political foes and critics were the ones who started the rumors to sow confusion and discord and to advance their agenda.

"Talaga naman pong para sa mga pursigido nating kritiko, tila sala init sala sa lamig ang aming sitwasyon. Pagtitiwalaan po ba natin ang mga katunggali natin sa tuwid na daan gayong umaabot na sa sukdulan at walang pakundangan ang pagnanais nilang magdulot ng agam-agam at kaguluhan, pati sa pag-iisip ng publiko," Aquino said.

READ MORE...
"Sila po ang gumagawa ng tsismis na wala namang katuturan o basehan upang isulong ang sariling agenda. Sila rin po ang mga nagnanais na makuha ang kapangyarihan at makinabang muli sa baluktot na kalakaran," he added.

Aquino discouraged Filipinos from believing in such rumors, saying there is nothing to be gained from them.

The president suspected that the rumors on his health were part of the efforts aimed at weakening his endorsement power in 2016.

"Sa susunod na taon may eleksyon na naman po tayo at ako po'y napag-isip lalo na 'nung 'yung kinalat nilang tsismis. Ang tindi talaga nitong mga kalaban natin. Bakit hanggang diyan umabot na sila?" he asked.

"At siguro matanong ko rin sa sarili ko: At alam naman po nilang hindi na ako tatakbo next year, bakit ba pinupuntirya na nila parati akong banatan, banatan, at banatan?" Aquino added.

Despite the reforms initiated by the administration, Aquino said his critics continue their attacks on his leadership to divide the nation and to bring back the old system.

Aquino assured, however, that he will continue pushing for reforms in his remaining 465 days in office.

"Tinitiyak ko naman po sa ating mga boss: gaano man kalakas ang ingay na ginagawa ng mga naghahasik ng negatibismo, mananatili akong tapat sa mandatong ipinagkaloob ninyo sa akin," he said.


MANILA TIMES

Aquino: Rivals fear my endorsement in 2016 March 24, 2015 12:39 am by CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER AND JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER


AQUINO

TIAONG, Quezon: PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday was firing on all cylinders as he made his first public appearance since rumors spread over the weekend that he had collapsed and was critically ill.

Speaking to reporters during a briefing about the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 project in Tiaong, Quezon, a combative Aquino accused his political rivals and critics of spreading rumors about his health. He also dismissed claims that the administration was even behind it to gain public sympathy amid the backlash over the Mamasapano incident.

“[I’m sure you have heard of the rumors that spread Friday midnight, entering Saturday. [The rumors] said I collapsed in Malacañang, that I have a serious illness, while others said I was in the ICU [intensive care unit]. When they saw me Saturday night with no health problems, a new rumor came out, that it was us spreading the rumors to get the public’s sympathy],” the President said in Filipino.

READ MORE...
“[To those who believe this, listen to the wise words from the elderly: We gain nothing from gossips. Indeed our determined critics will find fault in everything we do],” he added.

The President said he suspects that these were parts of efforts to weaken his endorsement power in 2016.

“[I] asked myself: They already know I won’t run next year, then why do they keep criticizing me [as you and I make our way to] the polling precincts next year, which made me suspect that these gossips were deliberate. I’m appalled [at] what our rivals have been doing. Why did they go this far?” he asked.

The President, however, promised that he will continue pushing for reforms in his remaining 465 days in office despite critics taking every opportunity to put themselves above what is good for the country.


MANILA STANDARD

Trillanes: Poe out as Liberal bet By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Mar. 20, 2015 at 12:01am


TRILLANES

THE ruling Liberal Party may no longer draft Senator Grace Poe as its standard bearer in the 2016 elections after the unfavorable findings of her committee that “hurt” President Noynoy Aquino, according to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes, who also announced that he would run for vice president because “the people are not ready for a Trillanes presidency,” said the party may instead settle for Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas despite his poor showing various election surveys.

“Siempre, ‘yong kukunin mong President iyong makakatulong sa iyo [Of course, the one you will get for President will someone who can help you],” Trillanes said during the weekly “Kapihan sa Senado.”

But after the report of her committee which spelled out the blunders Aquino committed over the police operation that resulted in the death of 67 people, Trillanes doubts if the Liberal Party will still field Poe as its presidential bet.

As for himself, Trillanes said he will no longer seek the presidency a day after the latest voter preference survey by pollster Pulse Asia showed him at eighth place among possible contenders with a rating of only 2 percent.

READ MORE...
“I believe it is a function of the readiness of the people to have somebody like me to run this country,” he said. “We won’t force it.”

But he clarified that that was his personal decision and he has not yet consulted with leaders of the Nacionalista Party, which he said will like decide on its lineup for the 2016 polls in the middle of this year.

Poe, for her part, said the decision she reached on the Mamasapano incident was one of the most difficult she encountered since entering the government and politics was farthest from her mind.

“People will find it hard to believe, but I’m not really planning strategy yet because it will really affect the quality of your work if your intention is to run,” she said.

“I have a high regard for the President, and I continue to have that high regard for him. I consider him a friend,” Poe said, but she had to come up with the “right conclusions” because these would be used to prevent future occurrences of that nature.

Before releasing the report, she prayed and asked God to say “what I need to say, what He wants me to say. I mean that’s how I pray.”

“I don’t want to prejudice any person, his reputation which is one’s life. More so, the President, whom I respect and who is respected by many, but he committed mistakes,” Poe said.

“It’s not an easy decision to make. Honestly, do I want it? It’s a difficult position. See what the President is going through now?” she added.


TRIBUNE

Trillanes faces expulsion from Senate; FOR VIOLATING CHAMBER RULES  Written by Mario J. Mallari and Angie M. Rosales Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00


TRILLANES

A senator may be facing possible expulsion from the upper chamber for violating the Senate rules by disclosing information raised during the Senate’s “executive session.”

Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes, who over the weekend revealed some of the confidential information discussed during closed-door proceedings concerning the Special Action Force (SAF) troopers’ Mamasapano operation, yesterday remained adamant in claiming that he committed no offense insofar as upholding the sanctity of executive sessions in the Senate.

But his statement appears to contradict others who have pointed out that the claims he had bared were indeed part of the executive sessions presided by Sen. Grace Poe, overall chairman in the Senate’s inquiry on the Mamasapano incident, and worse, such claims were deemed unmeritorious by senators.

While the matter on an intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) engaging some military officials and soldiers to a drinking spree on the eve of the Mamasapano mission indeed cropped up during the executive session, it was not pursued by senators as it was not related at all to the botched Jan. 25 SAF operation. “Initially it was mentioned in passing by one of those being grilled in the executive session,” sources said, referring to the said “drinking spree” incident.

Senators were then prompted to call upon relieved SAF director Gen. Getulio Napenas anew to validate the then still “insinuation” made by a military official that they were treated to a night out, supposedly to prevent the Army to operate on the day of the mission or to whether they were preparing for the mission.

Senators were told that the still unnamed intelligence officer was not in any way involved in the SAF operation and that their night out was simply a gathering of sorts of former comrades celebrating their successful joint missions in the past, sources said.

A number of senators were present when the matter was first brought out in one of the executive sessions last month and when it was eventually “clarified”, as the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials were made to present their respective versions of the incident last Feb. 24.

“It does not merit even a mention in the committee report, that’s why it was excluded. Why would we omit it if it’s really vital information?” sources said, adding that it was apparent that the mention of the said incident was intended to muddle the issue or skirt from the fact that the military failed in providing needed reinforcements.

“They wanted to make it appear that there were attempts (by those from the SAF) to grab credit if the mission turned out to be successful,” sources said.

Another source privy to the closed-door proceedings, corroborated the assertions, emphasizing that Trillanes’ claims that a PNP official wined and dined with Army commanders, were “not even in the list of approved and disapproved excerpts lifted from the executive session.”

Poe repeatedly said in several interviews prior to the presentation of the Senate report on Mamasapano that she will have to secure first the consensus of her colleagues before she can make public any information disclosed during executive sessions.

The same tact was employed by the chairman of the Senate committee on public information and dangerous drugs in incorporating in the 129-page panel report some of the “confidential information” divulged to them during closed-door sessions.

Under Rule XLVII of the Senate Rules on executive session, Section 128 states that the “President as well as the senators and the officials and employees of the Senate shall absolutely refrain from divulging any of the confidential matters taken up by the Senate and all proceedings which might have taken place in the Senate in connection with the said matters shall be likewise considered as strictly confidential until the Senate, by two-thirds (2/3) vote of all its members, decides to lift the ban of secrecy.”

Section 129 of the same rule says that “any senator who violates the provisions contained in the preceding section may, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all the senators, be expelled from the Senate and if the violator is an official or employee of the Senate, he shall be dismissed.”

Trillanes, in a radio interview, maintained that there could not be any grounds for his expulsion as what he had revealed so far were statements issued to him by Army officers and that he has their consent in divulging it to the public.

“So I am not bound by the Senate Rules under such condition. I spoke to them (unnamed military officers) outside the executive session. Since we had already finished up with the executive session. That already happened sometime ago,” he said.

Trillanes added he did not violate any rules. “I talked to them outside of the executive session and they gave me permission to bare to the public the information the officers involved gave me.”

But the sources in the Senate said: “So far the rules of the Senate provide that at least 2/3 of the members must give permission or at least the chairman,” in contradicting Trillanes’ position.

They further emphasized that the core of the executive session is essentially “secrecy.”

General Napeñas also yesterday dared Trillanes to name the military officers whom the senator claimed admitted to him about their being wined and dined, to ensure that they would not be informed at all of the secret mission.

SAF Director Virgilio Moro Lazo yesterday called on Senator Trillanes to be more responsible in making pronouncements on matters regarding the botched Operation Plan “Exodus” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Lazo, during a broadcast interview, at the same time, denied reports that SAF officers engaged their Army counterparts in Maguindanao a night before the launching of Oplan “Exodus” last Jan. 25.

“There is absolutely no truth that the SAF went on a drinking spree with the soldiers…now if there are other PNP officers who did that, we don’t know about it,” said Lazo during an interview over DzMM.

“We just want to clarify the insinuation that SAF got the Army officers to ensure that the SAF wanted the mission for themselves. That is a lit,” he added.

The SAF said that the police elite force is hurting due to insinuations that they wanted to take full credit of the operation and “fooled” their military counterparts.

Trillanes over the weekend claimed that police officers engaged their military counterparts in Maguindanao in a drinking spree in Koronadal on Jan. 24 or the eve of the launching of SAF’s Oplan “Exodus”. He did not specify that SAF officers were involved on adrinking session.

On Monday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed that Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade, and Lt. Col. Romeo Bautista, chief of the 45th Infantry Battalion (IB), were invited to a drinking session by SAF officers.

Feliciano and Bautista were the military commanders who have jurisdiction over Mamasapano, Maguindanao where Oplan “Exodus” was launched targeting Malaysian terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, Amon Baco, alias Jihad, and Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman.

Lazo appealed to Trillanes, a former Navy officer who figured in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, to check his information first before making public announcements.

The SAF chief, however, maintained that does not want to quarrel with Trillanes.

“I do not want to quarrel with a senator, but as a soldier, as a cavalier I am appealing to him that he should straighten out his facts before making such false statements. That hurts us,” he stressed.

Trillanes’ disclosure on the 120 SAF commandos deployed in Mamasapano who supposedly refused to provide needed reinforcements to their comrades who were then already engaged in a heavy firefight with hostile forces, was confirmed to have indeed been discussed during the executive session.

But none of the senators present when the matter was discussed made any public disclosure on the issue, except Trillanes, sources noted.

There has been a precedent in the past when the Senate was investigating the NBN-ZTE scandal.

There was a “leakage” on what transpired during the executive session and the reporter who wrote an article about the proceedings was called to be cited in contempt.

In the said incident, then Sen. Joker Arroyo allegedly intervened when former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Romulo Neri was about to drop a bombshell, supposedly directly implicating then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the hundreds of millions of purported bribe money that changed hands in the deal.

The lawmaker, then aligned with the Arroyo administration protested on the floor that the publication of the article, claimed that was a complete falsehood and peddled by some senators.

Senator Arroyo stressed that the Senate has long established rules and practices, including the power to investigate via executive sessions which are sacrosanct and the news item destroyed the inviolability of executive privilege and has put the upper chamber’s credibility of maintaining the confidentiality of what transpires in such sessions.

“The Senate must conduct an inquiry on the violation of its long established rules and enduring practices, otherwise, no one will believe the confidentiality and sacrosanctness of executive session.

“That is the sanctity of the executive sessions. That has been compromised because of the Inquirer report,” Senator Arroyo said in his privilege speech delivered on Oct. 2, 2007.

Then Senator Arroyo even emphasized that then Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. reiterated that the executive session must observe the time-honored rule on silence.

“How can we now compel our resource persons to reveal information which we say that is confidential, if we cannot enforce the rule on our members and on media?” Senator Arroyo asked.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile even supported Senator Arroyo’s contention in citing a member of the media for indirect contempt as there has been a precedent case at the Supreme Court.

While a number of senators have come out to express their dissent or approval on the findings and recommendations of the Senate on the Mamasapano incident, Trillanes was the lone member who has openly discussed issues covered by the executive sessions.

Majority of senators agreed that Poe handled well the investigation on the Mamasapano incident as she tried to be fair to all the parties concerned.

Trillanes could be held accountable for his actions if and when a formal complaint is filed before the Senate ethics and privileges committee.

The said committee, to this day, remains to have a vacancy on its chairman and vice chairman as elected members made so far, on the part of the minority bloc were Senators Nancy Binay and Vicente Sotto III and no representatives from the majority bloc.

The ex-officio members include Enrile, being the minority leader, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano.

Under Rule 10, section 13 of the Senate rules, the jurisdiction of the said committee covers all matters pertaining to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of the Senate and its members.


TRIBUNE

Ally demands Noy show all Mamasapano cards Written by Angie M. Rosales
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 00:00


STOP INSTALLMENT DISCLOSURE — ANGARA

Even a Palace ally in the Senate made a demand that President Aquino come clean on the Mamasapano debacle and for Aquino to finally lay down all his cards on the table instead of providing the public with his piecemeal account of his participation in Oplan Exodus.

Oplan Exodus was the police mission launched last Jan. 25 that killed Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan but which tragically went awry resulting in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Sen. Sonny Angara said Aquino should reveal all he knows of the Mamasapano operation instead of making partial disclosure on the issue.

While Angara expressed belief that Aquino cannot be held criminally liable or be held accountable as a result of “command responsibility,” he disapproved of the manner in which Malacañang has been giving piecemeal disclosures on the actions taken by the President concerning the Jan. 25 incident.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in defending Aquino on his refusal to cooperate in the various probes held on the tragedy and instead uses public appearances to explain his side said Aquino is not done yet in giving a full account of his participation in the police mission.

“We are appealing that (his explanation) is not given in an installment basis, hopefully it is made through full payment,” the senator commented to reporters, given the latest revelations made by Aquino that allegedly, resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima “disobeyed” his order to inform and coordinate with PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina in carrying out the mission.

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It’s a given fact that the matter of the administration’s handling of the Mamasapano issue did not sit well as far as the public is concerned as even various surveys manifested an overwhelming demand for an explanation coming from the Chief Executive, Angara said.

The recent surveys, probably prompted Malacañang to disclose new information concerning Aquino and his role in the tragic SAF operation.

Needless to say, the senator said, the Mamasapano issue is likely to hound the Executive in the coming 2016 national elections. It may even change the political landscape as far as the administration is concerned, he said.

As to the President’s endorsement “power” or influence in drawing support for his chosen candidate, Angara said it’s obvious that Aquino’s endorsement has been lessened in significance.

“If the election is held tomorrow, his endorsement will not be a factor but we all know that the election will be held not until May next year,” he said.

Sen. Bam Aquino stood by the President in not having to give in to calls for him to apologize, saying that the Chief Executive had owned up responsibility in the Mamasapano incident even long before the Senate held its investigation.

Senator Aquino, a presidential cousin, expressed belief that calls for Aquino to apologize are nothing but 2016-related.

“Right now, a lot of moves are really toward 2016 already. You’re almost sure that it’s a trap. You’re almost sure that as soon as he says sorry, someone is going to say, why was he not sincere or why is the tone of his voice that way? I’m almost sure that those who are asking him to say sorry are already ready with their statement after he does,” he said.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, a staunch ally of Aquino, said the President’s latest pronouncements somehow is giving the public an idea of the Chief Executive’s stance as far as carrying out the operation prior to Jan. 25.

“It is leading to that (the President giving apology on Mamasapano). In my view, he is just waiting for the right chance for the people to hear him out,” Escudero said to reporters in another interview.

Angara, while he supported pronouncements in the report of the Senate committee on public order holding the President as the ultimate responsible in the Mamasapano incident, maintained that no law was violated by Aquino.

The senator is of the opinion that Aquino erred in not having Espina included into the picture, as far as carrying out the SAF mission is concerned as the President appeared to have treated Purisima as still the PNP chief.

The Palace remained on the defensive yesterday, following a statement fro Justice Secretary Leila De Lima that Aquino erred in his judgement in the Mamasapano operation and that there is no question that Aquino is accountable for the incident.

Coloma, in a statement, defended the President, saying that De Lima only affirmed the earlier statements made by Aquino over the incident.

While Aquino had earlier claimed to have accepted responsibility for the incident, he has insisted on keeping an unapologetic stance, even as former senior officials in the country including former President Fidel V. Ramos, called on him to make a public apology over the incident.

“In her statement before the Rotary International, De Lima said President Aquino has no criminal liability on the operations in Mamasapano,” Coloma said.

“If there is any error, it is based on the wrong information received. The statements of Secretary De Lima affirmed the initial statements of President Aquino,” he added.

The justice secretary said this did not violate the PNP chain of command because in the first place, there was no such principle in the police agency.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), however, denounced the new twist offered by Aquino on the Mamasapano incident which he now says Purisima let him down by not informing PNP officer-in-charge (OIC) Leonardo Espina of Oplan Exodus.

The group said that nearly two months into the Mamasapano debacle, Aquino keeps on passing the buck for the tragedy.

“Aquino should have made sure that other officials were duly informed of the operation. He should not have issued any orders to Purisima to do anything because the latter was already suspended,” he added.

Bayan said that Oplan Exodus was a mission that had serious implications on national security and the peace process. It said that Aquino, as commander and chief and chief executive, should at the onset made sure that his top security officials were all on board.

“Yet in typical Aquino fashion, he entrusts the task of coordinating with the police leadership to his suspended buddy. It appears that either Aquino does not understand the implications of the operations or he simply does not care,” Reyes said.

“A clear proof of how the President is lying again: at the height of the Mamasapano operation, he was still coordinating with Purisima not Espina for updates. For the President, Purisima not Espina, was still on top of the situation,” Reyes said.

Senators also scored the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) assertion on the upper chamber’s report of its investigation on the Mamasapano incident as supposedly based mostly on emotions rather than an objective interpretation of facts.

“Since when did CHR become editors? Why don’t they make their own report and not meddle with Senate business,” said acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said in a text message to reporters.

Overall lead prober in the Mamasapano incident, Sen. Grace Poe, defended her committee on public order’s findings and recommendations based on their investigation, emphasizing that the panel report was based primarily on the testimonies of resource persons given under oath as well as documents and other reports submitted to them officially.

“A contrary view of CHR chairman (Loretta Ann Rosales) notwithstanding, we welcome her submission of the CHR report on its own investigation on the incident which may still be considered on amendments,” Poe said.

The CHR voiced its concern over the statements made in the Senate report such as the use of the word “massacre” to refer to an encounter, saying that it was excessive as such characterization overlooked the fact that the SAF members involved were armed and were not necessarily helpless or unresisting.

Both Senators JV Ejercito and Escudero slammed the CHR for being discriminating against men in uniform.

“Does the CHR deem our government troops to have no human rights? What happened was a clear massacre. The dictionary defines massacre as ‘the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty,’”

Escudero said. “Exactly how it happened to our SAF men in Mamasapano unless our CHR defines it in another term,” he added.

Escudero, one of the first lawmakers to describe the tragic Mamasapano incident as a massacre days after seeing a video circulating on the internet about the brutal killing of the 44 SAF troopers, said the Senate has thoroughly went over the pieces of evidence presented to the panel.

According to Escudero, protection of human rights also covers the military and the police, and not just the civilians.

He also called on the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to speak and move in behalf of the government and stop engaging the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the peace process.

The two Special Action Force (SAF) companies that served as primary efforts in launching Operation Plan “Exodus” could have been walloped by Moro rebels if the military did not come into play, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. so claimed.

Catapang, during a chance interview by Camp Aguinaldo reporters during the Army’s 118th founding anniversary celebration in Fort Bonifacio., yesterday said that the extrication mission launched by the military troops resulted in the rescue of 28 members of the 84th Special Action Company (SAC).

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), particularly members of the 61st and 62nd Division Reconnaissance Companies (DRCs), were deployed to link up with the 84th SAC and 55th SAC that were pinned down by combined Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

The day-long clash resulted in the killing of 44 SAF commandos, including seven junior officers, 18 MILF fighters, six BIFF rebels and five civilians.

Of the 44 fallen SAF commandos, 35 come from the 36-man 55th SAC that was walloped by the Moro rebels, while nine from the 84th SAC.

The 84th SAC was tasked to take down Malaysian terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, Amin Baco, alias Jihad, and Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman. On the other hand, 55th SAC was assigned to secure the exfiltration route of the 84th SAC.

“If we were not able to extricate them, we are not talking about SAF 44, we are talking about SAF 72. Because if they were not extricated, maybe they were also walloped,” said Catapang.
Informed sources from both the police and military ranks, however, said the military could have down better to save more SAF commandos.

“We say ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way’. If the military really wanted to reinforce the SAF, they can do better than what was done,” a military officer said.

“You don’t need artillery fire or even specialized units to link up with the pinned down SAF. Regular troops could have reinforced them if given the orders,” he added.

Another source cited the peace negotiations with the MILF as the main reason that prevented the military from moving in.

“Apparently, there was no order for the military to move in, reinforce the SAF and engage the Moro rebels. Why? Because of the peace process,” the second source said.

“Troops will move only when given orders, there’s no way that they will disobey orders,” he added. Mario J. Mallari, Joshua L. Labonera


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Public disapproval mounts vs. PNoy’s peace, law enforcement efforts March 24, 2015 9:31am

(Updated 1:26 p.m.) More Filipinos disapproved of President Benigno Aquino III’s efforts to promote peace and to enforce the rule of law after the deadly January 25 Mamasapano incident, Pulse Asia survey results showed Tuesday.

The poll conducted earlier this month revealed that three out of every 10 Filipinos (29 percent) disapprove of the Aquino government’s performance in terms of "increasing peace in the country.” This is just one of the findings in the survey results.


This figure is eight percentage points higher compared to the 21-percent disapproval rating given to the administration for the same issue last November.

Four in every 10 Filipinos (40 percent) nevertheless still approve of the government’s peace efforts, although this figure is lower compared to the 45-percent approval rating on the same issue last November.

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Disapproval in the government’s efforts in “enforcing the law on all, whether influential or ordinary people” also rose from 21 percent last November to 29 percent this month.

This increase was mainly because previously undecided respondents changed their opinion to disapproval. The approval ratings remained for law enforcement efforts remained steady at 41 percent.

The Pulse Asia survey was conducted among 1,200 Filipino adults over a month after the botched Mamasapano operation, which left over 60 people dead, including 44 police commandos.

Eighteen Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and at least five civilians were also killed in the encounter that erupted after government forces attempted to arrest high-profile terrorists in Maguindanao.

Congressional deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will embody the peace deal between the MILF and the Philippine government, were halted following the bungled mission.

A separate Pulse Asia survey, results of which were released last week, showed that 44 percent of Filipinos oppose the BBL's passage.

3rd most urgent concern in Mindanao

Increasing peace in the country was the third most urgent concern in Mindanao, the Pulse Asia survey also showed.

Thirty-four percent of respondents from Mindanao said the government should focus on peace efforts. They were however more concerned with controlling inflation (52 percent) and fighting corruption in government (38 percent).

Considering the rest of the country, economic issues such as controlling inflation (46 percent) and improving workers’ pay (44 percent) continue to be top concerns among Filipinos.

In contrast, Filipinos were least concerned about defending Philippine territory (5 percent), facing terrorism (5 percent) and changing the Constitution (4 percent).

The Pulse Asia survey was conducted on 1,200 Filipino adults from March 1 to 7. Prevailing economic issues at that time include increases in electric and fuel rates.

The survey has a plus-or-minus 3 percent margin of error and 95 percent confidence level. —Andreo Calonzo/KG/TJD/NB, GMA News


PHILSTAR

PNoy hosts lunch for Lady Eagles, Lady Spikers, calls for peace By AJ Bolando (philstar.com) | Updated March 24, 2015 - 4:34pm


The Ateneo men's and women's volleyball squads and the La Salle Lady Spikers pay a courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino III at the Malacañang Palace on Tuesday. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – Archrivals Ateneo Lady Eagles and La Salle Lady Spikers paid a courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday at Malacañang following a thrilling finals series in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.

Aquino hosted a lunch with the back-to-back champions Lady Eagles and second placer Lady Spikers along with men's champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.

The Ateneo Economics graduate then acknowledged the healthy competition between the two women's teams, saying that despite clashing for the title, they still exemplified sportsmanship.

“Ang ikinatutuwa ko po ay noong magbasa ako ng diyaryo sa sumunod na araw nitong huling labanan. Ang nadatnan kong larawan: May nakasuot ng berde at may mga nakasuot ng bughaw, nagyakapan. Tapos na ang laban, naroon kayong mga manlalaro’t taos-pusong binabati ang isa’t isa. Sa kabila ng mahigpit na kompetisyon at matinding pressure na manalo, pinairal ninyo ay ang spirit of unity and sportsmanship. Di ba’t napakaganda nun?” Aquino said while admitting that he failed to watch the game even on television due to other commitments.

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“Sa likod ng matinding kompetisyon at kantiyawan, ay mga tunay na magkakatuwang at magkakaibigan. Batid ito, lalo na ninyong mga atletang dating magkakaeskuwela, na ngayon ay magkatunggali sa iba’t ibang liga,” he added.

Aquino also shared that during his collegiate days, the rivalry between the two schools was intense.

“Alam po n’yo, talagang deka-dekada na ang inabot ng rivalry ng Ateneo at La Salle. Naaalala ko nga po: Noong panahon namin, grabe ang girian. Siguro po, kung literal na nakakapatay ang masamang tingin, marami nang nakaltas na henerasyon ng mga Atenista at Lasalista.”

The President took the opportunity to call out for peace and related the schools' rivalry to the political conflicts that the country is currently dealing with.

“Naisip ko rin po: Sana, ang mga pulitiko, pati na ang mga kasapi ng iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan, ay ganito rin ang ipamalas na ugnayan,” the President said.

“Iyan nga po ang diwang gusto nating itanim sa isip at puso ng ating mga kababayan. Nahahati man tayo sa iba’t ibang isla, mayroon man tayong mga pagkakaiba, sa huli, iisang koponan lang tayong mga Pilipino.”


MANILA TIMES

Aquino: My political riivals fear my endorsement in 2016 March 24, 2015 12:39 am by CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTER AND JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER

TIAONG, Quezon: PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday was firing on all cylinders as he made his first public appearance since rumors spread over the weekend that he had collapsed and was critically ill.

Speaking to reporters during a briefing about the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 project in Tiaong, Quezon, a combative Aquino accused his political rivals and critics of spreading rumors about his health. He also dismissed claims that the administration was even behind it to gain public sympathy amid the backlash over the Mamasapano incident.

“[I’m sure you have heard of the rumors that spread Friday midnight, entering Saturday. [The rumors] said I collapsed in Malacañang, that I have a serious illness, while others said I was in the ICU [intensive care unit]. When they saw me Saturday night with no health problems, a new rumor came out, that it was us spreading the rumors to get the public’s sympathy],” the President said in Filipino.

“[To those who believe this, listen to the wise words from the elderly: We gain nothing from gossips. Indeed our determined critics will find fault in everything we do],” he added.

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The President said he suspects that these were parts of efforts to weaken his endorsement power in 2016.

“[I] asked myself: They already know I won’t run next year, then why do they keep criticizing me [as you and I make our way to] the polling precincts next year, which made me suspect that these gossips were deliberate. I’m appalled [at] what our rivals have been doing. Why did they go this far?” he asked.

The President, however, promised that he will continue pushing for reforms in his remaining 465 days in office despite critics taking every opportunity to put themselves above what is good for the country.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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