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

SWS: AQUINO SATISFACTION RATING HITS ALL-TIME LOW


President Benigno Aquino III. FILE PHOTO 
Public satisfaction on the administration of President Benigno Aquino III has reached its lowest point so far, the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed. The survey, which was conducted from March 20 to 23 this year with 1,200 respondents, revealed that Aquino obtained a net satisfaction rating of a “moderate” +11 (those satisfied minus unsatisfied), from “good” +39 from December 2014. Public satisfaction on the Aquino administration dropped 35 points from +47 rating it obtained from the same period last year. The survey also showed that Aquino’s satisfaction rating plunged in all geographic areas and all socioeconomic classes. Respondents from Balance Luzon gave Aquino a “neutral” -3 rating, a 42 point drop from December’s “good” +39 rating. In Mindanao, Aquino’s satisfaction rating plunged 21 points (from +46 to +25) while in Metro Manila, the President’s satisfaction rating fell 16 points (from +23 to +7). READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino ratings slump signals downfall—militant solons


MANILA, Philippines–The harshest critics of President Aquino in the House of Representatives said the slump in his trust and approval ratings in the latest Pulse Asia survey signals the downfall of the Aquino administration.
In separate statements, two solons of the seven-member Makabayan bloc said Aquino lost the trust of the public in the aftermath of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano debacle that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro fighters and five civilians dead. “The lowest trust and performance rating of President Aquino based on the latest Pulse Asia highlights the massive erosion of the people’s support to his administration,” Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said. Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said the latest survey is “a clear indication that the Filipino people do not buy Aquino’s lame excuses on the Mamasapano clash.” 

Aquino has received flak for refusing to admit command responsibility and instead putting the blame on sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas who he said disobeyed his orders to coordinate with the military on the top secret antiterror raid meant to take down high profile terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.  He is also criticized for authorizing resigned police chief Alan Purisima, a close friend, to supervise the operation despite the latter’s suspension for graft. The police Board of Inquiry (BOI) also accused Aquino of breaking the chain of command when he authorized Purisima and bypassed acting police chief Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace blames media for PNoy's ratings decline


The Palace says it will take the new survey as an opportunity to "reach out" to the public and explain more following the Mamasapano incident.
File/Malacañang Photo Bureau 
MANILA, Philippines - The decline in President Benigno Aquino III's satisfaction rating was due to the bloody Mamasapano incident and recent media reports, Malacañang said Monday. "Malaking bahagi nito ay hinggil doon sa naganap sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao noong Enero 25," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a television interview. "Ang mga ratings ay naka-ugnay sa mga headlines at sa mga nilalathala sa media na binabasa at inuunawa ng ating mga mamamayan. Kaya sa aming paningin ito ay media-related sa malaking bahagi," Coloma added. The latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that Aquino's net satisfaction rating plunged from a "good" +39 in December to a "moderate" +11 in March, the lowest point of his term. READ MORE...

ALSO Group to PNoy: Stop blaming media for plunging ratings


Militant group Bayan says President Aquino has himself to blame for his plunging ratings.
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III should stop blaming the media for his plunging satisfaction ratings in the surveys, according to militant group Bayan. Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the president has but himself to blame for the downward ratings. "Aquino has all the time in the world to speak the truth about Mamasapano (incident). He had four speeches widely covered by the media. Yet his speeches often contradicted each other," Reyes said in a statement. READ MORE...

ALSO Palace to Mike Arroyo: We're not persecuting GMA


Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda responded to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who reportedly said that his wife is a victim of political persecution.
AP file photo 
MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang insisted on Monday that the Aquino government is not persecuting former president and now Pampanga lawmaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda responded to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who reportedly said that his wife is a victim of political persecution. Lacierda said the executive department has no control over the electoral sabotage and plunder cases filed by the Commission on Elections and the Ombudsman, respectively, against Arroyo. "Is it based on our discretion whether to convict an accused or not, whether it’s as high as a former President or as lowly as a clerk? It’s not within our province to decide the fate of an accused. The fate is decided by a judge or justices," Lacierda said. "So I certainly disagree with the comments of Mr. Mikey Arroyo. I understand where he is coming from, but the bare fact is: it’s beyond our control, it’s within the discretion of the courts to decide the fate of the accused," the Palace spokesman added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace official says Aquino wants Arroyo case resolved before his term ends


Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President Benigno Aquino III.
FILE PHOTO 
A PALACE official said that the Aquino administration wants the case of former President and Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to be resolved soon, just like how the Aquino leadership wants other cases to be resolved expeditiously. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that although it wants the case of Arroyo to be resolved soon, the former President’s case should also follow due process. “Let me state this as a general principle: you’d like to see all cases resolved the soonest possible time. But you’d also be very, very conscious of the fact that due process must be observed,” Lacierda said in a press briefing on Monday. READ MORE...

ALSO MALAYA OPINION: Aquino’s plummeting net approval and net trust ratings


BENJAMIN DIOKNO  In less than four-and-a-half years, President Aquino’s net approval rating has plummeted from 76% to 15% while his net trust rating has sunk from 78% to 9%. That’s a huge erosion of his political capital. I’ll put the blame for the sharp fall in Mr. Aquino’s approval and trust ratings first, to the constitutionally flawed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and second, to the lying, the cover-up, and the President’s refusal to take full responsibility for the bungled Mamasapano incident. Some politicians – friends and foes alike -- advised President Aquino III to say sorry for the Mamasapano disaster. He should disclose everything, they say. But, after two months, it is clear that he won’t apologize and it probably won’t matter anymore. The damage has been done. An apology at this time might not do him any good. The severe erosion of Mr. Aquino’s net approval rating (NAR) and net trust rating (NER) has been phenomenal. His endorsement value for the administration’s candidate has been largely diminished.

His ability to have a strong finish, or at least function well, during the crucial last 14 month of his six-year term is now very much in doubt. His timetable for the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been derailed. In the March 1-7, 2015 Pulse Asia survey, 44 % of respondents are opposed to the passage of the BBL while 21% are in favor. In the same survey, 79% of Filipinos disagreed with the President Aquino’s decision to ignore the arrival honors for the fallen members of the PNP-SAF in favor another event. As a result of the Mamasapano massacre, the objections to the BBL have solidified. Likewise, the timetable for announcing his likely heir apparent has gone awry. Were it not for the certainty that the Philippines will have a new President in a little more than a year, Mr. Aquino would have been a lot of pressure to step down. The Filipino people are just tolerating the stay of this inept, bumbling administration for a few more months in lieu of the uncertainty associated with a regime change. READ MORE...

ALSO World View: The trials of Asian democracy


Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former defense minister and national security adviser, was chair of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council and currently is a member of the National Diet.  TOKYO—These are times of trial—literally in the courts—for a growing number of Asia’s democracies. The list of major national political leaders in the region who have faced, or are about to face, criminal charges has grown so extensive that it is plausible to wonder whether democracy itself can survive in a number of these countries. Perhaps the gravest allegations have been leveled at Bangladesh’s opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who has been charged with murder in a case going back many years. India’s former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who lost power less than a year ago, is being questioned by prosecutors in connection with allegations of corruption in the privatization of coal mines under his government. Following a military coup that overthrew her democratically elected government, Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is facing charges of official malfeasance over rice subsidies.

Then there is the long-running saga of Malaysia’s opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. His conviction on sodomy charges will effectively ban him from politics for five years, at a moment when the opposition is posing the most serious challenge to Malaysia’s ruling United Malays National Organization (Umno) since the country gained its independence from the British Empire in 1958. Moreover, Anwar’s daughter has now been detained for questioning the integrity of her father’s trial in a speech in the Malay parliament, in which she is an elected member in her own right. Each of these politically tinged trials has different origins, of course. And each was or will be conducted in court systems that vary greatly in terms of their development and independence. Yet all of them have called into question, to varying degrees, the rule of law and the prospect for a democratic future in each country. READ MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

SWS: Aquino satisfaction rating hits all-time low


President Benigno Aquino III. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, APRIL 6, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) Aries Joseph Hegina @inquirerdotnet - Public satisfaction on the administration of President Benigno Aquino III has reached its lowest point so far, the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The survey, which was conducted from March 20 to 23 this year with 1,200 respondents, revealed that Aquino obtained a net satisfaction rating of a “moderate” +11 (those satisfied minus unsatisfied), from “good” +39 from December 2014.

Public satisfaction on the Aquino administration dropped 35 points from +47 rating it obtained from the same period last year.

The survey also showed that Aquino’s satisfaction rating plunged in all geographic areas and all socioeconomic classes.

Respondents from Balance Luzon gave Aquino a “neutral” -3 rating, a 42 point drop from December’s “good” +39 rating.

In Mindanao, Aquino’s satisfaction rating plunged 21 points (from +46 to +25) while in Metro Manila, the President’s satisfaction rating fell 16 points (from +23 to +7).

READ MORE...
The President’s satisfaction rating in the Visayas remained under the “good” territory but dropped 12 points (from +42 to +30).

Meanwhile, Aquino’s satisfaction rating registered a 43 point drop (from “good” +49 to “neutral” +6) among Class ABC and a 27 point drop in both Class D (from “good” +37 to “moderate” +10) and Class E (from “good” +45 to “moderate” +18).

SWS categorizes net satisfaction ratings through the following terms: +70 and above, “excellent;” +50 to +69, “very good;” +30 to +49, “good;” +10 to +29, “moderate;” +9 to -9, “neutral;” -10 to -29, “poor;” -30 to -49, “bad;” -50 to -69, “very bad;” -70 and below, “execrable.”

However, despite the huge drop on the President’s satisfaction rating, only 32 percent of respondents support calls for Aquino’s resignation. The survey said that 50 percent conveyed their support to the administration while 18 percent are undecided on the issue.

The survey was conducted almost two months following the bloody counterterrorist raid in Mamasapano, Maguindano, which killed at least 67 people, including five civilians.


INQUIRER

Aquino ratings slump signals downfall—militant solons Marc Jayson Cayabyab @MJcayabyabINQ INQUIRER.net 2:58 PM | Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–The harshest critics of President Aquino in the House of Representatives said the slump in his trust and approval ratings in the latest Pulse Asia survey signals the downfall of the Aquino administration.

In separate statements, two solons of the seven-member Makabayan bloc said Aquino lost the trust of the public in the aftermath of the Jan. 25 Mamasapano debacle that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro fighters and five civilians dead.

“The lowest trust and performance rating of President Aquino based on the latest Pulse Asia highlights the massive erosion of the people’s support to his administration,” Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said the latest survey is “a clear indication that the Filipino people do not buy Aquino’s lame excuses on the Mamasapano clash.”

Aquino has received flak for refusing to admit command responsibility and instead putting the blame on sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas who he said disobeyed his orders to coordinate with the military on the top secret antiterror raid meant to take down high profile terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

He is also criticized for authorizing resigned police chief Alan Purisima, a close friend, to supervise the operation despite the latter’s suspension for graft.

The police Board of Inquiry (BOI) also accused Aquino of breaking the chain of command when he authorized Purisima and bypassed acting police chief Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

READ MORE...
While Aquino has ordered Napeñas to inform Espina, the SAF commander kept the mission to himself supposedly to keep the operation from being compromised.

Ridon said the latest survey is not the end to Aquino’s drop in the survey.

“His approval and trust ratings can even dip further, following the release of the BOI report that named him as the one who gave the go signal for the botched operation,” Ridon said.

Colmenares said it is only “all downhill from here and opens the possibility of (Aquino’s) key allies deserting him.”

Both critics called on Aquino to resign from his post in the aftermath of the debacle.

“With his responsibility and accountability for… the Mamasapano incident, it would be best for him to resign and face the consequences of his actions,” Colmenares said.

“Mr. President, read the writings on the wall. If you don’t resign, you risk entering the most turbulent period in your presidency,” Ridon added.

The latest Pulse Asia survey shows that Aquino received all-time low approval and trust ratings since he became president in 2010.

From 59 percent in November 2014, his approval rating dropped to 38 percent in March 2015 while his trust rating fell from 56 percent last quarter to 36 percent this month.

“This is the first time the President has posted non-majority national approval and trust ratings in Ulat ng Bayan surveys since he was first rated as president by survey respondents back in October 2010,” Pulse Asia said in its media release

In a separate statement, militant coalition “Noynoy Out Now” is set to stage a rally on March 20 for the president’s removal from office.

“The latest Pulse Asia survey showing a 21 percent drop (sic) in the President’s approval ratings and a 20 percent drop (sic) in his trust ratings confirms our view that the President has lost the people’s trust and confidence,” former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, one of the key leaders of the coalition, said in a statement.

“This Friday’s rally will up the ante for his removal by bringing in more groups and a broader range of sectors and personalities all calling for his resignation,” he added.


PHILSTAR

Palace blames media for PNoy's ratings decline By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated April 6, 2015 - 1:09pm


The Palace says it will take the new survey as an opportunity to "reach out" to the public and explain more following the Mamasapano incident. File/Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines - The decline in President Benigno Aquino III's satisfaction rating was due to the bloody Mamasapano incident and recent media reports, Malacañang said Monday.

"Malaking bahagi nito ay hinggil doon sa naganap sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao noong Enero 25," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a television interview.

"Ang mga ratings ay naka-ugnay sa mga headlines at sa mga nilalathala sa media na binabasa at inuunawa ng ating mga mamamayan. Kaya sa aming paningin ito ay media-related sa malaking bahagi," Coloma added.

The latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that Aquino's net satisfaction rating plunged from a "good" +39 in December to a "moderate" +11 in March, the lowest point of his term.

READ MORE...
Coloma pointed out, however, that the same SWS poll also showed that 50 percent of Filipinos oppose calls for Aquino to resign despite his declining public satisfaction score.

He said the government will take the new survey as an opportunity to "reach out" to the public and explain more following the Mamasapano incident.

"Umaasa kami na sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaliwanag, pagpapalaganap ng tama at makatotohanang impormasyon ay lalong magpapaunawa sa mga mamamayan ang panig ng pamahalaan," Coloma said.

President Aquino has been heavily criticized for passing blame instead of acknowledging his possible lapses in the botched Mamasapano mission that left 44 Special Action Force commandos dead.

Aquino has failed to issue a public apology over the Mamasapano incident but he appealed for public understanding.


PHILSTAR

Group to PNoy: Stop blaming media for plunging ratings By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated April 6, 2015 - 5:05pm


Militant group Bayan says President Aquino has himself to blame for his plunging ratings.

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III should stop blaming the media for his plunging satisfaction ratings in the surveys, according to militant group Bayan.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the president has but himself to blame for the downward ratings.

"Aquino has all the time in the world to speak the truth about Mamasapano (incident). He had four speeches widely covered by the media. Yet his speeches often contradicted each other," Reyes said in a statement.

READ MORE...
He added that people's dissatisfaction with the president is reflected in the latest Social Weather Stations survey.

Reyes claimed the diminishing satisfaction of the people with President Aquino is the result of the his constant lying on the Mamasapano operation, which resulted to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force troopers.

"It is the result of his insensitivity to the plight of the families and his utter disregard of the demands for truth and accountability," he added.

Meanwhile, Bayan and other people's organizations will resume to stage protests as the House of Representatives re-opens the hearings on Mamasapano.


PHILSTAR

PALACE per Lacierda to Mike Arroyo: We're not persecuting GMA By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated April 6, 2015 - 5:44pm


Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda responded to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who reportedly said that his wife is a victim of political persecution. AP file photo

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang insisted on Monday that the Aquino government is not persecuting former president and now Pampanga lawmaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda responded to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo who reportedly said that his wife is a victim of political persecution.

Lacierda said the executive department has no control over the electoral sabotage and plunder cases filed by the Commission on Elections and the Ombudsman, respectively, against Arroyo.

"Is it based on our discretion whether to convict an accused or not, whether it’s as high as a former President or as lowly as a clerk? It’s not within our province to decide the fate of an accused. The fate is decided by a judge or justices," Lacierda said.

"So I certainly disagree with the comments of Mr. Mikey Arroyo. I understand where he is coming from, but the bare fact is: it’s beyond our control, it’s within the discretion of the courts to decide the fate of the accused," the Palace spokesman added.

READ MORE...
Still in hospital detention, Arroyo is facing an electoral sabotage case in connection with the 2007 senatorial poll fraud. She is also facing a plunder case for allegedly misusing the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds during her term.

About a month ago, Aquino's lawyer filed a complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Committee seeking compensation for the alleged harm Arroyo has suffered for her continued detention.

International lawyer Amal Clooney said the criminal prosecutions against Arroyo are "politically motivated and persecutory in nature" and that the presumption of her innocence was violated.

"Mrs. Arroyo has become the victim of President Aquino’s politically motivated campaign to have her tried and detained so that she can effectively be neutralized as a political opponent," said the lawyer, who is also the wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney.


INQUIRER

Palace official says Aquino wants Arroyo case resolved before his term ends Aries Joseph Hegina @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 6:16 PM | Monday, April 6th, 2015


Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President Benigno Aquino III. FILE PHOTO

A PALACE official said that the Aquino administration wants the case of former President and Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to be resolved soon, just like how the Aquino leadership wants other cases to be resolved expeditiously.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that although it wants the case of Arroyo to be resolved soon, the former President’s case should also follow due process.

“Let me state this as a general principle: you’d like to see all cases resolved the soonest possible time. But you’d also be very, very conscious of the fact that due process must be observed,” Lacierda said in a press briefing on Monday.

READ MORE...
He also emphasized that due to the separation of the judiciary from the executive branch, Malacañang cannot exercise control over the judiciary.

“As a general principle, we’d like to see cases resolved but again, we have no control. That’s a limitation of a tripartite form of government: that we have no control over the judiciary,” he added.

Atty. Mike Arroyo, the husband of the former chief executive, reportedly accused the Palace of political persecution.

The former president, who celebrated her 68th birthday on Sunday, has been in detention in the Veterans Memorial Medical Center due to a plunder case filed by the Sandiganbayan for her alleged misuse of P366 million intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

With the help of international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney, Arroyo’s case has been filed before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD).

Alamuddin urged the UN body to swiftly act on Arroyo’s case as her continued detention is said to be a human rights violation.


MALAYA OPINION OF THE DAY

Aquino’s plummeting net approval and net trust ratings By BENJAMIN DIOKNO on March 30, 2015


BENJAMIN DIOKNO

In less than four-and-a-half years, President Aquino’s net approval rating has plummeted from 76% to 15% while his net trust rating has sunk from 78% to 9%. That’s a huge erosion of his political capital.

I’ll put the blame for the sharp fall in Mr. Aquino’s approval and trust ratings first, to the constitutionally flawed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and second, to the lying, the cover-up, and the President’s refusal to take full responsibility for the bungled Mamasapano incident.

Some politicians – friends and foes alike -- advised President Aquino III to say sorry for the Mamasapano disaster. He should disclose everything, they say. But, after two months, it is clear that he won’t apologize and it probably won’t matter anymore. The damage has been done. An apology at this time might not do him any good.

The severe erosion of Mr. Aquino’s net approval rating (NAR) and net trust rating (NER) has been phenomenal. His endorsement value for the administration’s candidate has been largely diminished. His ability to have a strong finish, or at least function well, during the crucial last 14 month of his six-year term is now very much in doubt.

His timetable for the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been derailed. In the March 1-7, 2015 Pulse Asia survey, 44 % of respondents are opposed to the passage of the BBL while 21% are in favor. In the same survey, 79% of Filipinos disagreed with the President Aquino’s decision to ignore the arrival honors for the fallen members of the PNP-SAF in favor another event. As a result of the Mamasapano massacre, the objections to the BBL have solidified.

Likewise, the timetable for announcing his likely heir apparent has gone awry.

Were it not for the certainty that the Philippines will have a new President in a little more than a year, Mr. Aquino would have been a lot of pressure to step down. The Filipino people are just tolerating the stay of this inept, bumbling administration for a few more months in lieu of the uncertainty associated with a regime change.

READ MORE...
Mr. Aquino’s vanishing net approvals rating (NAR) and net trust rating (NTR)

Mr. Aquino started his presidency with a very high approval rating. On his first Pulse Asia survey (October 20-29 2010), he got an approval rating of 79% and a disapproval rating of 3%, or a net approval rating (NAR) of 76%. His trust rating was equally stratostrophic: 80% trusted him while 2% distrusted him, or a net trust rating of 78%.

Mr. Aquino’s net approval rating (NER) plummeted from 62% in March 2014 to 42% in June 2014, or by 20% when the Supreme Court ruled that several acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

The toll on Mr. Aquino trust rating has been more severe. As a result of his constitutionally flawed DAP, and his boorishness in its defense, his net trust rating (NER) sunk from 60% to 39%, or by 21%. Those who trusted him fell from 69% in March 2015 to 53% in June 2015 while those who distrusted him rose from 9% to 14%.

Finally, Mr. Aquino’s NAR has dwindled to its all-time low as a result of the Mamasapano debacle, 15% from an all-time high of 76%. The sharp fall of Mr. Aquino’s trust rating should also be a cause for grave concern. From an all-time high net trust rating (NTR) of 78% early in his term, Mr. Aquino’s latest NER was a measly 9% -- 36% trusted him while 27% distrusted him.

Here’s my unsolicited advice: Mr. President, if you’re incapable of saying sorry, just quit talking. The more you talk, the more you dig yourself a deeper hole. So, stop digging.

Focus on the affairs of government by appointing good men to vacant posts in key government offices – the Commission on Elections, the Civil Service Commission, the Philippine National Police. In the final year of your presidency, you cannot afford to have a government run by officers-in charge (OICs) since they have limited authority. But in appointing the best fit for the job, choose the best and the brightest.

Focus on your job. Concentrate on narrowing the infrastructure gap. For example, decide now which airport – NAIA, Clark, or Sangley – will serve the country’s future aviation needs. Fix the rickety urban transit system.

Ensure energy supply and its affordability and reliability. Provide more decent jobs for Filipinos at home. Adopt an internationally competitive mining law. Modernize the agriculture sector by increasing investment in agriculture-enhancing infrastructure and technology.

The list of unfinished business is long. Since time is short, prioritize well and implement programs and projects with extreme sense of urgency.


INQUIRER

World View: The trials of Asian democracy Yuriko Koike @inquirerdotnet 12:05 AM | Monday, April 6th, 2015

TOKYO—These are times of trial—literally in the courts—for a growing number of Asia’s democracies. The list of major national political leaders in the region who have faced, or are about to face, criminal charges has grown so extensive that it is plausible to wonder whether democracy itself can survive in a number of these countries.

Perhaps the gravest allegations have been leveled at Bangladesh’s opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who has been charged with murder in a case going back many years. India’s former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who lost power less than a year ago, is being questioned by prosecutors in connection with allegations of corruption in the privatization of coal mines under his government.

Following a military coup that overthrew her democratically elected government, Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is facing charges of official malfeasance over rice subsidies.

Then there is the long-running saga of Malaysia’s opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

His conviction on sodomy charges will effectively ban him from politics for five years, at a moment when the opposition is posing the most serious challenge to Malaysia’s ruling United Malays National Organization (Umno) since the country gained its independence from the British Empire in 1958.

Moreover, Anwar’s daughter has now been detained for questioning the integrity of her father’s trial in a speech in the Malay parliament, in which she is an elected member in her own right.

Each of these politically tinged trials has different origins, of course. And each was or will be conducted in court systems that vary greatly in terms of their development and independence. Yet all of them have called into question, to varying degrees, the rule of law and the prospect for a democratic future in each country.

READ MORE...
Singh’s questioning by government prosecutors is perhaps the least worrying case, because India’s democracy is rock-solid, and its judiciary is fearsomely jealous of its independence. His supporters at home and abroad should have no fear for his rights, or that his case will become some political plaything to keep the opposition Congress Party down.

Indeed, the politically shrewd Prime Minister Narendra Modi is far too smart to even contemplate attempting to distort the investigation of Singh for partisan gain.

Sadly, fidelity to judicial independence and the rule of law cannot be guaranteed as thoroughly in the other cases. Bangladesh, the world’s fourth largest Muslim democracy, has historically had a patchy record in this regard, suggesting scope for political intervention in the case against Zia, if only by officials eager to curry favor with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Indeed, the two leaders’ mutual loathing is long and legendary. Each has been prime minister, and both have sought, while in office, to use the courts to keep the other out of power, even out of politics altogether—seemingly without regard to the cost.

The murder charges leveled against Zia have already spurred protests and could incite massive civil disturbances if a trial actually takes place, jeopardizing the economic success that the country has had under Hasina’s rule. And yet government prosecutors who are ultimately responsible to the prime minister are pressing ahead with the case.

Shinawatra’s looming trial in Thailand and Ibrahim’s repeat conviction in Malaysia lack even the fig leaf of judicial independence.

Shinawatra’s overthrow by the military was clearly a bid by the country’s generals to end by force the electoral lock that she and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra—himself a former prime minister who was deposed by a military coup in 2006—have had on Thailand for almost 15 years.

So now the generals and their allies in the Bangkok elite seem determined to turn back the clock; Yingluck’s looming trial appears to be a signal that the Thaksins’ popularity rules out anything more than “managed” democracy in Thailand.

But the current quiescence of the pro-Thaksin forces should not encourage anyone to think that the military can suppress Thai democracy forever or without a fight.

Sadly, Malaysia may soon become prone to the same type of violent protest and economic decline that have gripped Thailand in recent years.

Here, it seems clear that Umno’s political interests have been allowed to dictate that the country’s key opposition leader should be tried on charges that no real democracy that embraces the rule of law would even consider leveling, and convicted on evidence that no truly independent court would accept.

Political leaders in Thailand and Malaysia, and in other countries in the region, frequently tout the model pioneered by Singapore’s founder and longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew, who died last month.

Yet the path on which both countries have embarked was not Lee’s path. Yes, Lee’s system enabled him to remain in power for 31 years, and he did use the civil—not criminal—courts to harry his opponents. But Lee, more importantly, also relied on elements of democratic contestation to ensure that meritocracy triumphed over patronage.

This formula underpinned the rapid consolidation of good government, based on rigorous standards of official conduct that limited the elite’s arbitrary power. Putting one’s opponents in the criminal dock seems unlikely to produce a similar result. Project Syndicate

Yuriko Koike, Japan’s former defense minister and national security adviser, was chair of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council and currently is a member of the National Diet.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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