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

PCIJ: AQUINO GOVT FAR BEHIND IN ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE


AUGUST 19 ---FIGHTING corruption has been one of the top priorities of President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Or so he claims. He bannered the slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (where there is no corrupt, there is no poor) during the 2010 presidential campaign. He promised to be the “most determined fighter of corruption” in his Social Contract with the Filipino People, the Aquino administration’s platform until 2016.
The President also made good governance a cornerstone in the current Philippine Development Plan, promising to curb corruption by intensifying government efforts at detection and prevention as well as resolving pending corruption cases with dispatch. Yet barely a year before Aquino’s term ends, his administration seems to be falling far, far behind in fulfilling such pledges. Indeed, one of the starkest examples of the Aquino government’s weak response to corruption is its action–or lack thereof–on the controversial cases involving pork-barrel monies. In fact, rather than being proactive in pursuing those involved in the pork barrel scam that included government agencies, lawmakers and bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), the Aquino administration appears to have been springing into action only after dogged media coverage of the controversy. And when it does act, those it hails to court are mostly small fry–career civil servants from the middle level down. Interestingly, too, most of the big-fish exceptions belong to the political opposition. The government, however, has been slow to react to revelations by media that a syndicate of fake NGOs has been siphoning monies from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)–otherwise known as pork barrel–in collusion with legislators. For sure, there were those who thought Aquino was making good on his promise to combat corruption when his administration went after then-Chief Justice Renato Corona and succeeded in having him impeached and then convicted by the Senate in 2012 for not declaring more than $2 million worth of assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as required by law.
To this day, though, the leaders and most members of the House of Representatives, including the President’s allies who served as prosecutors in the Corona trial, have refused to release copies of their actual SALN to the public. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy to look into complaints vs Customs' balikbayan box inspection


The Palace said President Benigno Aquino III will look into the complaints received by the Bureau of Customs over the new directive to open and inspect balikbayan boxes
. The Palace on Sunday assured that President Benigno Aquino III will look into the feedback and complaints received by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) regarding its new regulation to randomly inspect balikbayan boxes.
”We have received a lot of open letter and messages through Facebook, e-mails. We’re collecting these and we’ll make sure these will be given to President Aquino,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a Radyo ng Bayan interview. ”We will make sure also that their complaints will be forwarded to Customer commissioner Bert Lina,” Valte added. The Palace official thanked the overseas Filipino workers who responded to the BOC’s new measure on packages. She personally assured that the feedbacks and complaints will reach the president. Valte urges the public to continue sending their feedback so the Customs will know their concerns about the new regulation. ”If you have feedbacks about this new regulation of the BOC, just send them. Our government has a lot of accounts on the social media. The President has Twitter account, Official Gazette. Just continue sending,” Valte said. READ MORE...

ALSO: LEAN HARVEST FOR ‘DAANG MATUWID’ -PCIJ REPORT
[24 SOLONS IN DOJ PORK COMPLAINTS, FREE PASS FOR 94 MORE IN COA LIST?]


PHOTO COURTESY OF PCIJ  FIGHTING corruption has been one of the top priorities of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Or so he claims. He bannered the slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” during the 2010 presidential campaign. He promised to be the “most-determined fighter of corruption” in his Social Contract with the Filipino People, the Aquino administration’s platform until 2016. He also made good governance a cornerstone in the current Philippine Development Plan, promising to curb corruption by intensifying government efforts at detection and prevention as well as resolving pending corruption cases with dispatch. Yet barely a year before Aquino’s term ends, his administration seems to be falling far, far behind in fulfilling such pledges. Indeed, one of the starkest examples of the Aquino government’s weak response to corruption is its action – or lack thereof – on the controversial cases involving pork-barrel monies. In fact, rather than being proactive in pursuing those involved in the pork-barrel scam that included government agencies, lawmakers, and bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), the Aquino administration appears to have been springing into action only after dogged media coverage on the controversy. And when it does act, those it hales into court are mostly small fry – career civil servants from the middle level down. Interestingly, too, most of the big-fish exceptions belong to the political opposition. The government, however, has been slow to react to revelations by media that a syndicate of fake NGOs has been siphoning monies from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – otherwise known as pork barrel – in collusion with legislators. READ MORE...

ALSO: PMA to have older graduates, shorter terms for officers due to K to 12


With the implementation of the K-12 program, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) will have older lieutenants and shorter terms for senior military officers due to mandatory age of retirement. Philstar.com/File photo
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The implementation of the K-12 basic education program, which adds two more years in high school, will mean that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) will have older graduates who are commissioned as lieutenants, and thus shorter terms for senior military officers. Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri said that while there will be no vacuum in the PMA with the implementation of the K-12, there will still be an effect. “If that (K-12) will be implemented, we will have older graduates because based on the law, those who will join the PMA are high school graduates. By that time, with the K-12, there will be additional two years, so aspiring cadets will be 18 years old,” Iriberri said. “Because the cadets and lieutenants will be older, the effect is shorter term for military officers because we also have to consider the mandatory age of retirement,” he added. But based on PMA records, most of those who join the academy came directly from high school. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: DOTC chief on traffic mess: It’s not fatal
[DOTC chief gives 'deepest apologies' for saying Metro Manila traffic 'not fatal'; “not burdensome to the daily lives of the people.” DUH! ]


DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a television interview that traffic in Metro Manila is not fatal to anyone. File photo
It may be ruining the day for thousands daily, but at least it’s “not fatal,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said of Metro Manila’s traffic mess. Abaya made the remarks in an interview last Monday with ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol. “Hindi naman siguro fatal iyan,” he said, but quickly clarified that what he meant was traffic was “not burdensome to the daily lives of the people.” At Malacañang yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda appealed for patience and assured the public the government is seriously addressing the matter. “The traffic situation is an issue that we continue to address. There have been a number of ongoing infrastructure projects and all of us are affected by it and we have asked the public for their understanding and patience,” Lacierda said. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the same appeal over the weekend. She also urged motorists and commuters to plan their trips so they can have better chances of getting to their destination on time. Last Aug. 14, a payday Friday, monstrous traffic jams were reported on most major roads in Metro Manila especially along Andrews Avenue, Airport Road and Sucat Road – vital arteries leading to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s four terminals. Hundreds missed their flights that day. READ MORE...

ALSO KMU PRESS RELEASE: On Risa Hontiveros’ PhilHealth ads


PhilHealth director Risa Hontiveros’ television advertisements were made and aired to boost her chances of winning in the 2016 senatorial elections. She and her partylist group Akbayan hope that she would fare better this time despite having served as loyal servants and defenders of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s anti-worker and anti-poor presidency.
The ads confirm that Hontiveros was appointed to PhilHealth not to improve the agency’s service to its members but as part of the preparation for her Senate run. We have already said that she does not have a track record of service to workers. Her appointment is part of patronage politics donning the guise of “daang matuwid.” We have every reason to believe that public funds are being used to pay for the airing of the advertisement, which cost less than half a million per airing. READ MORE...

ALSO MALAYA Column: ARE US, CHINA DOOMED TO CONFLICT?


By Rey O. Arcilla
I WAS at a loss up to Sunday night what to write in today’s column. Then I had the good fortune of coming across in the internet a talk given in March this year by former Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd of Australia entitled “Are the US and China Doomed to Conflict?”. Given the rather ticklish situation now existing in our neck of the woods brought about by the conflicting territorial claims of China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea (WPS/SCS), Rudd’s discourse is very timely. According to Wikipedia, Rudd holds the distinction of, among others, having been twice Prime Minister of Australia, from 2007 to 2010, and again for about three months in 2013. He was the first former prime minister to return to the office since Robert Menzies in 1949. He has retired from politics. Rudd is a long-time student of China and once served as a diplomat in that country. He had a unique vantage point in witnessing the Asian giant’s rise in power in the past few decades. In his talk, he asks whether the growing ambition of China will inevitably lead to conflict with other major powers, particularly the United States – and suggests a gripping narrative in a video that everyone should watch (it has sub-titles), especially leaders of this country. Particularly relevant to Rudd’s discourse are the words of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela … “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela  READ MORE... ALSO REMINDERS FOR NOYNOY...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Aquino govt far behind in anti-corruption drive

MANILA, AUGUST 24, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) by EARL G. PARREÑO, PHILIPPINE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM - FIGHTING corruption has been one of the top priorities of President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Or so he claims.

He bannered the slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (where there is no corrupt, there is no poor) during the 2010 presidential campaign.

He promised to be the “most determined fighter of corruption” in his Social Contract with the Filipino People, the Aquino administration’s platform until 2016.

The President also made good governance a cornerstone in the current Philippine Development Plan, promising to curb corruption by intensifying government efforts at detection and prevention as well as resolving pending corruption cases with dispatch.

Yet barely a year before Aquino’s term ends, his administration seems to be falling far, far behind in fulfilling such pledges. Indeed, one of the starkest examples of the Aquino government’s weak response to corruption is its action–or lack thereof–on the controversial cases involving pork-barrel monies.

In fact, rather than being proactive in pursuing those involved in the pork barrel scam that included government agencies, lawmakers and bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), the Aquino administration appears to have been springing into action only after dogged media coverage of the controversy. And when it does act, those it hails to court are mostly small fry–career civil servants from the middle level down. Interestingly, too, most of the big-fish exceptions belong to the political opposition.

The government, however, has been slow to react to revelations by media that a syndicate of fake NGOs has been siphoning monies from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)–otherwise known as pork barrel–in collusion with legislators.

For sure, there were those who thought Aquino was making good on his promise to combat corruption when his administration went after then-Chief Justice Renato Corona and succeeded in having him impeached and then convicted by the Senate in 2012 for not declaring more than $2 million worth of assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as required by law.

To this day, though, the leaders and most members of the House of Representatives, including the President’s allies who served as prosecutors in the Corona trial, have refused to release copies of their actual SALN to the public.

READ MORE...

Only a summary of the legislators’ net worth is what the House has disclosed in its press releases since 2010.

More than words, results

Speed, volume, focus, fairness–a campaign blind to political color or friendship–these seem to be in short supply when it comes to Aquino’s anti-corruption drive.

Not surprisingly, it is hard to find enough reason to assert that the administration has conducted a truly, fully vigorous war against corruption.

For instance:

The PDAF scam story broke in the Philippine Daily Inquirer involving eight NGOs connected with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in July 2013, and the Commission on Audit (COA) released its special audit report on the abuse and misuse of pork from 2007 to 2009 in August 2013.

A month later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its first plunder and graft complaint against three opposition senators and five former legislators, and two months later, its second complaint against seven more former legislators.

But it was only on August 7, 2015, or 24 months later, when DOJ filed its third complaint against a senator and eight other incumbent and former legislators. Curiously, all three complaints were founded on practically the same sets of documentary evidence and testimonies of whistleblowers.


The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed before the Office of the Ombudsman the third batch of cases against lawmakers in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. AUGUST 7, 2015 INQUIRER

In its three complaints, the DOJ has named more than 100 respondents, including only 24 legislators mostly from the political opposition–four senators and 20 former and incumbent members of the House of Representatives.

The Ombudsman has filed charges against three senators and five former congressmen in the Sandiganbayan, indicted a few more, but is yet to finish its case build-up against the rest of the lawmakers named in the three DOJ complaints.

The 24 legislators in the DOJ list make up just a fifth of the 118 legislators that the Commission on Audit (COA) said implemented “highly irregular” PDAF projects in tandem with questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009.

This, in the five-year life of daang matuwid (straight path) is by no measure an abundant harvest and, according to both critics and allies of the administration, an apparent case of “selective investigation” or “selective justice” on the part of the DOJ and the administration.

To this day, though, the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office continues to gather documentary and testimonial evidence against the other legislators named in the COA report.

The COA report offered more than enough documentary and testimonial evidence on the modus operandi of legislators, implementing agencies, contractors and NGOs, and how they corrupt the flow of public funds.

Too, it proposed a menu of corrective measures and reforms that could have been instituted in agencies that have been used as pork funds conduits. The President has abolished pork barrel under the PDAF system but in its stead allowed the continued flow of monies to bankroll projects endorsed by legislators, in the budgets of executive agencies.

In a series, more COA annual audit reports followed for the years 2012 and 2013, this time on the same patterns of pork abuse and misuse under the Aquino administration. As with the first report, hardly word, comment, action, or promise of reform was heard from the President about what the government could do better to curb corruption.

Not just PDAF or Napoles

To be sure, the problem is this: Corruption is bigger in scope and breadth than all the saber-rattling against it could crack.

For one, Napoles is just one of the so-called “service providers” who have supposedly been colluding with lawmakers and officials of various state agencies to pocket funds meant for development projects. Lawyers, prosecutors and civil servants in the agencies tainted with the corruption in pork say there are several other Napoles-like “service providers.” Thus, the three batches of PDAF cases that focused only on Napoles NGOs would hardly scratch the surface of this multi-billion-peso scam.

For another, PDAF was just one of the multiple lump-sum funds that have been raided, and continue to be raided, by Napoles and Napoles-like service providers and their fake NGOs. Audit reports documenting the abuse and misuse of these funds have not received appropriate action from the President or his Cabinet secretaries.

For a third, filing suit against a few big fish and a multitude of small fry may not at all trigger the right results and behavior among civil servants. Those in the lower ranks are bearing the heaviest punishment for corruption, even as their bosses and the politicians who authored the misdeeds have managed to fly out of the country, hide in opulent surroundings and escape prosecution.

The COA special audit on the PDAF disbursed from 2007 to 2009 is a virtual road map for licking corruption and fulfilling the promises of daang matuwid.

It reveals that during that period, 82 NGOs implemented 772 projects funded from the pork of a total of 188 legislators amounting to P6.156 billion. But of the 82 NGOs, only eight are controlled by Napoles. COA’s findings indicate that several others are fake and cannot be located at their given addresses.


Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima

For this period, the eight Napoles NGOs received only a total of P1.742 billion from the PDAF. The remaining P4.414 billion went to the 74 other NGOs, which, says COA, were selected to implement projects on the “basis alone of the purported endorsement by the sponsoring legislators”–just like the Napoles NGOs.

Lawyers of the DOJ and the Ombudsman, as well as Levito Baligod (lawyer for Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers), say the COA report and the whistleblowers point to at least six to nine more Napoles-like operators or “service providers” who are in cahoots with corrupt legislators and top officials of some government agencies.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, who is in charge of overseeing the DOJ’s PDAF investigation, thinks there may even be more than 10. Baligod, the private complainant in the first two PDAF cases, has the most conservative estimate, six, based, he says, on the audit report and his own research. The Ombudsman’s estimate is seven more.

More fake NGOs

Baligod, though, says, whatever the number, the Aquino administration should also give priority to investigation of the non-Napoles fake NGOs.

His own research reveals that the sum total of the take of at least six other service providers may be bigger than the Napoles-linked NGOs. This is because, he argues, “they give bigger commissions compared to Mrs. Napoles.” In other words, they may have been awarded more projects because they gave bigger incentives.

The lawyer of the whistleblowers in the Napoles-linked cases until early 2014, Baligod notes that per project “Mrs. Napoles gives only a maximum of 60 percent [of the project cost] commission. Some of the six give up to 70 percent.”

He named the Kaisa’t Kaagapay Mo Foundation Inc. (KKMFI) and the Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation Inc. (KapKFI) as examples of NGOs that were seriously competing with Napoles’ operations before her network was shut down.

From 2007 to 2009, COA said KKMFI implemented five projects, channeled through the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), of the following members of the House of Representatives, totaling P36.86 million:

Rep. Julio Ledesma 4th, P26.190 million;
Rep. Arturo Robes, P2.910 million; and
Rep. Al Francis Bichara, P7.760 million.

The projects covered the procurement of livelihood technology kits and seedlings for distribution to 58 barangay (villages) in two municipalities and two cities of Negros Occidental, three municipalities and one city in Albay and in three barangay of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

According to the COA special audit report, however, the beneficiaries did not receive the goods.

Of the 58 barangay chairmen who allegedly acknowledged receipt of the kits and seedlings, 26 categorically denied receiving the items. Moreover, nine of the 58 were not incumbents during the period of distribution, the report said.

Nabcor files reviewed by PCIJ showed that the same legislators supposedly got bigger amounts: Ledesma, P27 million; Robes, P3 million; and Bichara, P18 million.

KapKFI, for its part, implemented three projects from Nabcor and nine projects from the Technology Resource Center (TRC) amounting to P107.541 million for the following congressmen:

NABCOR:
Rep. Roberto Cajes, P12.610 million;
Rep. Michael John Duavit, P4.850 million; and
Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, P6.615 million.

Yet again, Nabcor files reviewed by PCIJ showed bigger amounts that supposedly went to these lawmakers–Cajes, P23 million; Duavit, P5 million; and Arroyo, P22.82 million.

TRC:
Rep. Edgardo Chatto, P13.440 million;
Rep. Robert Jaworski Jr., P5.760 million;
Rep. Pedro Pancho, P27.106 million;
Rep. Roque Ablan Jr., P9.800 million;
Rep. Eladio Jala, P13.720 million; and
Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, P13.640 million.

The Nabcor projects covered the procurement of livelihood technology kits, seedlings and farm implements for distribution to 42 municipalities and barangay in the provinces of Rizal, Negros Occidental, Bohol and Bulacan. But COA auditors said that none of the recipients who were interviewed confirmed receipt of the items that were supposedly distributed to them. In fact, 15 categorically denied having received the goods.

Meanwhile, the funds totaling P83.466 million transferred by the TRC to KapKFI for the implementation of nine projects remained unliquidated during the period of the special audit.

Rep. Arroyo had already passed away when COA was preparing its special audit report.

COA sought the other legislators to verify their signatures appearing in the pork documents. Most did not reply or tried to avoid directly answering COA’s query.

Only three–Pancho, Jaworski, and Chatto confirmed as theirs the signatures on some or all the papers shown them by COA.

No summons yet

Yet even with such leads provided by COA, the Justice department has seemed to be disinterested to investigate deeper into PDAF, and especially into cases of NGOs not related to Napoles.

When asked recently why DOJ was yet to summon the officers of NGOs identified as “suspicious” in the audit report, Justice Undersecretary Justiniano replied, “First and foremost, there’s no whistleblower. Whistleblowers greatly help because they provide inside information on the operation of the NGO.”

Too, Justiniano said, the department wanted to focus on Napoles first before embarking on other suspects because the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) lacks manpower.

The DOJ’s proclaimed focus on Napoles, though, does not seem to have translated to a heightened sense of urgency for the department. After all, the latest PDAF complaint linked to Napoles was transmitted to the graft-investigating body only less than two weeks ago–almost two years after the first two complaints were filed.

According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, this third complaint involves “the third and final batch” of people who will be charged, “insofar as the Napoles NGOs are concerned for 2007 to 2009 COA special audit report.”

With these three complaints, the DOJ has recommended the filing of plunder and/or malversation, direct bribery and other graft and corrupt practices against over 100 individuals, including four incumbent senators and four incumbent and 16 former members of the House of Representatives.

But a PCIJ review of data shows that the number of lawmakers so far charged is fewer than one-fourth of the total 118 senators and congressmen that could be indicted based on evidence gathered by COA and the whistleblowers.

In its special audit report of the PDAF disbursed from 2007 to 2009, COA named 118 lawmakers as having implemented “highly irregular” projects using their pork barrel.

Nineteen other lawmakers, apart from the 118 on COA’s list, appear to have received kickbacks from their pork-barrel funds, as shown from the files of Luy, a whistleblower in the PDAF scam, as well as from Baligod’s research.

Napoles herself named 20 senators and 100 congressmen in an affidavit she submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee as having “connections with [her] and received part of the pork barrel.”


20 senators, 100 congressmen named on Napoles' long list ... neSenator Teofisto Guinggona III shows the envelope containing Janet Lim Napoles' affidavits submitted by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. FROM INQUIRER FILE MAY 26, 2014

Third and last?

The Justice secretary’s recent statements that DOJ’s work is done, with the filing of the third and last complaint, has puzzled Baligod.

DOJ, de Lima has said, finds no other leads or cases to pursue on account of the COA report and the testimonies of the whistleblowers. A part of the team that prepared the first, second and third batches of PDAF cases, he says,

“The third batch should have included 29 congressmen, not just nine. In fact, based on the documents, it should have been 34, but in the course of our investigation, we found out that five had died.”

“We were already done with the case build-up against the 29 congressmen,” he continues. “[Way] back June 13, 2014 Secretary de Lima issued a statement promising to file the third batch a week from then because the evidence was already complete.”

“Between then and now, I don’t know what happened,” Baligod says. “My assessment is that politics already crept into the process.”

In the DOJ’s list of those who should be charged with plunder and/or malversation, graft or direct bribery, 14 are identified with the political opposition–all the four senators and at least half of the 20 congressmen.

But three of the 24 are high-profile supporters of the Aquino administration: former Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Representative and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Joel Villanueva, former Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) congressman Rufino Biazon and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

The amount that the 24 lawmakers had allegedly obtained in rebates is huge. Based on Luy’s records from 2004 to 2012, the total reachesP1.017 billion.

The kickbacks racked up by Napoles’s client-legislators–61 in all (six senators and 55 congressmen, including the 24 recently named in the DOJ complaints)–amount to about P1.37 billion.

This means that the 37 other client-legislators could have gained about P350 million in total. Compared to the kickbacks of the 24 lawmakers, the 37 other legislators just got one-fourth of the pie, not as huge but a very substantial amount nonetheless.

Yet based on de Lima’s pronouncement, these lawmakers may escape formally facing a complaint in relation to the misuse of their PDAF.

But the 25 or so officials and employees of implementing agencies that transferred funds to NGOs for the implementation of various PDAF projects allegedly at the behest of the legislators will not be as lucky. Some of them have been charged with the crime of plunder; most are accused of graft and corruption, violation of ethical standards of public officials and falsification of public documents. Many are now free on bail, but even they are feeling somewhat betrayed.

As they see it, they were left with little choice but to follow orders from their bosses; now the order givers are being allowed to get away and they are left holding the bag.

“Even now that just a few years have passed, all of us have almost been reduced to crawling on the ground,” says a former Nabcor employee. He adds that the scandal “has tainted my person, even my family’s.”

He reasons, “What I’m saying is that not all who were involved in the case are guilty. You also have been employed, you know employees just implement orders.”

Later, however, he concedes that he also had a part in the systemic corruption.

Says the former state firm employee: “Lahat may kontribusyon sa corruption, kahit ordinaryong tao. Siguro on our part, natatakot kami, nagpadala kami [Everyone has a contribution in the corruption, even the ordinary people. Maybe on our part, we were afraid, we gave in].”

With research and reporting by Fernando Cabigao Jr. and Malou Mangahas,
PCIJ


PHILSTAR

PNoy to look into complaints vs Customs' balikbayan box inspection By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated August 23, 2015 - 5:15pm 2 10 googleplus0 0


The Palace said President Benigno Aquino III will look into the complaints received by the Bureau of Customs over the new directive to open and inspect balikbayan boxes
.

MANILA, Philippines – The Palace on Sunday assured that President Benigno Aquino III will look into the feedback and complaints received by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) regarding its new regulation to randomly inspect balikbayan boxes.

”We have received a lot of open letter and messages through Facebook, e-mails. We’re collecting these and we’ll make sure these will be given to President Aquino,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a Radyo ng Bayan interview.

”We will make sure also that their complaints will be forwarded to Customer commissioner Bert Lina,” Valte added.

The Palace official thanked the overseas Filipino workers who responded to the BOC’s new measure on packages. She personally assured that the feedbacks and complaints will reach the president.

Valte urges the public to continue sending their feedback so the Customs will know their concerns about the new regulation.

”If you have feedbacks about this new regulation of the BOC, just send them. Our government has a lot of accounts on the social media. The President has Twitter account, Official Gazette. Just continue sending,” Valte said.

READ MORE...

In a bid to curb smuggling, the BOC last week warned the OFWs not to abuse their balikbayan privileges which allow them to send gifts or “pasalubong” worth USD 500 only in value and ordered random opening of boxes.

This drew flak from OFWs, solons and other citizens worried of their valuables.

Valte clarified that BOC’s new regulation aimed not to single out the OFWs.

RELATED: Customs chief responds to OFW’s plea not open balikbayan boxes


MALAYA

LEAN HARVEST FOR ‘DAANG MATUWID’: 24 SOLONS IN DOJ PORK COMPLAINTS, FREE PASS FOR 94 MORE IN COA LIST? August 20, 2015 BY EARL G. PARREÑO Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism


PHOTO COURTESY OF PCIJ

FIGHTING corruption has been one of the top priorities of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Or so he claims. He bannered the slogan “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” during the 2010 presidential campaign.

He promised to be the “most-determined fighter of corruption” in his Social Contract with the Filipino People, the Aquino administration’s platform until 2016.

He also made good governance a cornerstone in the current Philippine Development Plan, promising to curb corruption by intensifying government efforts at detection and prevention as well as resolving pending corruption cases with dispatch.

Yet barely a year before Aquino’s term ends, his administration seems to be falling far, far behind in fulfilling such pledges. Indeed, one of the starkest examples of the Aquino government’s weak response to corruption is its action – or lack thereof – on the controversial cases involving pork-barrel monies.

In fact, rather than being proactive in pursuing those involved in the pork-barrel scam that included government agencies, lawmakers, and bogus non-government organizations (NGOs), the Aquino administration appears to have been springing into action only after dogged media coverage on the controversy.

And when it does act, those it hales into court are mostly small fry – career civil servants from the middle level down. Interestingly, too, most of the big-fish exceptions belong to the political opposition. The government, however, has been slow to react to revelations by media that a syndicate of fake NGOs has been siphoning monies from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – otherwise known as pork barrel – in collusion with legislators.

READ MORE...

For sure, there were those who thought Aquino was making good on his promise to combat corruption when his administration went after then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and succeeded in having him impeached and then convicted by the Senate in 2012 for not declaring more than US$2 million worth of assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) as required by law.

To this day, though, the leaders and most members of the House of Representatives, including the President’s allies who served as prosecutors in the Corona trial, have refused to release copies of their actual SALNs to the public. Only a summary of the legislators’ net worth is what the House has disclosed in its press releases since 2010.

MORE THAN WORDS, RESULTS

Speed, volume, focus, fairness – a campaign blind to political color or friendship – these seem to be in short supply when it comes to Aquino’s anti-corruption drive. Not surprisingly, it is hard to find enough reason to assert that the present administration has conducted a truly, fully vigorous war against corruption.

For instance:

• The PDAF scam story broke in the Philippine Daily Inquirer involving eight NGOs connected with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles in July 2013, and the Commission on Audit (COA) released its special audit report on the abuse and misuse of pork from 2007 to 2009 in August 2013. A month later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its first plunder and graft complaint against three opposition senators and five former legislators, and two months later, its second complaint against seven more former legislators. But it was only on Aug. 7, 2015, or 24 months later, when DOJ filed its third complaint against a senator and eight other incumbent and former legislators. Curiously, all three complaints were founded on practically the same sets of documentary evidence and testimonies of whistleblowers.

• In its three complaints, the DOJ has named more than 100 respondents, including only 24 legislators mostly from the political opposition – four senators and 20 former and incumbent members of the House of Representatives.

The Ombudsman has filed charges against three senators and five former congressmen in the Sandiganbayan, indicted a few more, but has yet to finish its case build-up against the rest of the lawmakers named in the three DOJ complaints.

The 24 legislators in the DOJ list make up just a fifth of the 118 legislators that COA said implemented “highly irregular” PDAF projects in tandem with questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009.

This, in the five-year life of “Daang Matuwid” is by no measure an abundant harvest and, according to both critics and allies of the administration, an apparent case of “selective investigation” or “selective justice” on the part of the DOJ and the administration. To this day though, the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office continues to gather documentary and testimonial evidence against the other legislators named in the COA report.

• The COA report offered more than enough documentary and testimonial evidence on the modus operandi of legislators, implementing agencies, contractors, and NGOs, and how they corrupt the flow of public funds. Too, it proposed a menu of corrective measures and reforms that could have been instituted in agencies that have been used as pork funds conduits. The President has abolished pork barrel under the PDAF system, but in its stead allowed the continued flow of monies to bankroll projects endorsed by legislators, in the budgets of executive agencies.

• In a series, more COA annual audit reports followed for the years 2012 and 2013, this time on the same patterns of pork abuse and misuse under the Aquino administration. As with the first report, hardly word, comment, action, or promise of reform was heard from the President about what the government could do better to curb corruption.


INQUIRER EDITORIAL CARTOON --Prosecute them all  @inquirerdotnet 03:36 PM September 18th, 2013 APPENDED TO REPORT BY PHNO

NOT JUST PDAF OR NAPOLES

To be sure, the problem is this: corruption is bigger in scope and breadth than all the saber rattling against it could crack.

For one, Napoles is just one of the so-called “service providers” who have supposedly been colluding with lawmakers and officials of various state agencies to pocket funds meant for development projects. Lawyers, prosecutors, and civil servants in the agencies tainted with the corruption in pork say there are several other Napoles-like “service providers.” Thus, the three batches of PDAF cases that focused only on Napoles NGOs would hardly scratch the surface of this multi-billion-peso scam.

For another, PDAF was just one of the multiple lump-sum funds that have been raided, and continue to be raided, by Napoles and Napoles-like service providers and their fake NGOs. Audit reports documenting the abuse and misuse of these funds have not received appropriate action from the President or his Cabinet secretaries.

For a third, filing suit against a few big fish and a multitude of small fry may not at all trigger the right results and behavior among civil servants. Those in the lower ranks are bearing the heaviest punishment for corruption, even as their bosses and the politicians who authored the misdeeds have managed to fly out of the country, hide in opulent surroundings, and escape prosecution.

The COA special audit on the PDAF disbursed from 2007 to 2009 is a virtual road map for licking corruption and fulfilling the promises of “Daang Matuwid.”

It reveals that during that period, 82 NGOs implemented 772 projects funded from the pork of a total of 188 legislators amounting to P6.156 billion. But of the 82 NGOs, only eight are controlled by Napoles. COA’s findings indicate that several others are fake and cannot be located at their given addresses.

For this period, the eight Napoles NGOs received only a total of P1.742 billion from the PDAF. The remaining P4.414 billion went to the 74 other NGOs, which, says COA, were selected to implement projects on the “basis alone of the purported endorsement by the sponsoring legislators” – just like the Napoles NGOs.

Lawyers of the DOJ and the Ombudsman, as well as Baligod, say the COA report and the whistleblowers point to at least six to nine more Napoles-like operators or “service providers” who are in cahoots with corrupt legislators and top officials of some government agencies.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, who is tasked with overseeing the DOJ’s PDAF investigation, thinks there may even be more than 10. Lawyer Levi Baligod, the private complainant in the first two PDAF cases, has the most conservative estimate: six – based, he says, on the audit report and his own research. The Ombudsman’s estimate is seven more.

MORE FAKE NGOS

Baligod says, though, that whatever the number, the Aquino administration should also give priority to the investigation into the non-Napoles fake NGOs.

His own research reveals that the sum total of the take of at least six other service providers may be bigger than the Napoles-linked NGOs. This is because, he argues, “they give bigger commissions compared to Mrs. Napoles.” In other words, they may have been been awarded more projects because they gave bigger incentives.

The lawyer of the whistleblowers in the Napoles-linked cases until early 2014, Baligod notes that per project “Mrs. Napoles gives only a maximum of 60 percent (of the project cost) commission. Some of the six give up to 70 percent.”

He named the Kaisa’t Kaagapay Mo Foundation, Inc. (KKMFI) and the Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (KapKFI) as examples of NGOs that were seriously competing with Napoles’s operations before her network was shut down.


PHILSTAR

PMA to have older graduates, shorter terms for officers due to K to 12 By Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 23, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


With the implementation of the K-12 program, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) will have older lieutenants and shorter terms for senior military officers due to mandatory age of retirement. Philstar.com/File photo

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The implementation of the K-12 basic education program, which adds two more years in high school, will mean that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) will have older graduates who are commissioned as lieutenants, and thus shorter terms for senior military officers.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri said that while there will be no vacuum in the PMA with the implementation of the K-12, there will still be an effect.

“If that (K-12) will be implemented, we will have older graduates because based on the law, those who will join the PMA are high school graduates. By that time, with the K-12, there will be additional two years, so aspiring cadets will be 18 years old,” Iriberri said.

“Because the cadets and lieutenants will be older, the effect is shorter term for military officers because we also have to consider the mandatory age of retirement,” he added.

But based on PMA records, most of those who join the academy came directly from high school.


DOTC chief on traffic mess: It’s not fatal By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 20, 2015 - 12:00am 14 1609 googleplus0


Photo taken last Monday shows the rush hour traffic on EDSA Kamuning in Quezon City. The government has been urged to take immediate and drastic action to address the traffic problem in Metro Manila. Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines - It may be ruining the day for thousands daily, but at least it’s “not fatal,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said of Metro Manila’s traffic mess.

Abaya made the remarks in an interview last Monday with ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol.

“Hindi naman siguro fatal iyan,” he said, but quickly clarified that what he meant was traffic was “not burdensome to the daily lives of the people.”

At Malacañang yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda appealed for patience and assured the public the government is seriously addressing the matter.

“The traffic situation is an issue that we continue to address. There have been a number of ongoing infrastructure projects and all of us are affected by it and we have asked the public for their understanding and patience,” Lacierda said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte made the same appeal over the weekend. She also urged motorists and commuters to plan their trips so they can have better chances of getting to their destination on time.

Last Aug. 14, a payday Friday, monstrous traffic jams were reported on most major roads in Metro Manila especially along Andrews Avenue, Airport Road and Sucat Road – vital arteries leading to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s four terminals. Hundreds missed their flights that day.

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She said airport authorities have been advising the public to consider the heavy traffic when making trips to and from the airport.

Valte said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is deploying more traffic enforcers to critical areas.

She also expressed hope that operators of the South Luzon Expressway would deploy more toll collectors to ease buildup of vehicles at the toll gates.

Immediate action For Sen. Francis Escudero, the government needs to take immediate and drastic action to address the problem, including firing concerned officials and appointing competent people.

Escudero said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has clearly failed in fulfilling almost all of its responsibilities under the current administration.

He cited the massive problems of the MRT-3, which have inconvenienced thousands of commuters daily due to constant glitches in its operations.

Escudero said the President should at least direct the DOTC to conduct in depth studies on the operations and maintenance of the MRT-3 so that even if the current administration fails to do something about the problem, the next administration would be more prepared to deal with it.

He also cited the Land Transportation Office (LTO)’s failure to issue license plates and registration stickers on time.

“I think the President, even this late in the day, should act because clearly for the past five years, they haven’t performed. I think that’s sufficient time for them to perform and show something out of it,” Escudero said.

“Either they take over and do something about the problems or change the people running these offices because clearly they haven’t been able to deliver,” he added.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto recently called the attention of the LTO to its failure to deliver on its performance targets as contained in the General Appropriations Act.

As contained in its budget proposals for 2015 and 2016, the LTO submitted to Congress the following pledges: car plates and stickers for brand new cars issued within seven days; registration of old cars, complete with car plates and stickers, done within two hours; new driver’s licenses processed within four hours; and old driver’s licenses renewed within 60 minutes.

With all the complaints coming from motorists about the delays in the delivery of services by the LTO, Recto said the ability of the agency to deliver on its promises is now questionable.

“Believe it or not, these are actually the same performance targets the LTO has set for itself this year,” Recto said.

“So we should ask them if they are now delivering plates for brand-new cars within a week, and what gives them the confidence to renew the same promise of processing speed for next year,” he added.

Recto said that he intends to raise the issue during the hearings on the proposed budget of the DOTC.

He said that the LTO should be able to explain the reasons for its problems or if it has solutions. – With Marvin Sy

----------------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

DOTC chief gives 'deepest apologies' for saying Metro Manila traffic 'not fatal' By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated August 20, 2015 - 6:03pm 1 285 googleplus0 0


DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a television interview that traffic in Metro Manila is not fatal to anyone. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya apologized on Thursday for his statement downplaying the traffic mess in Metro Manila.

"I extend my deepest apologies to the public, for an off-the-cuff statement made earlier in the week, which understandably came across as reckless and insensitive," Abaya said in a statement sent to Palace reporters.

"I am aware that what I said has only added to the frustration and the suffering of the public. I am profoundly sorry for this," he added.

Abaya was referring to his controversial comments about the traffic in the metro that he made in an interview last Monday with ABS-CBN's TV Patrol.

"Hindi naman siguro fatal iyan," he said, but quickly clarified that what he meant was traffic was "not burdensome to the daily lives of the people."

Abaya claimed that his office knows the traffic mess in Metro Manila and that they are addressing the problem.

"With this apology, I wish to assure the public that we are well aware of the situation we all face every day. Please be assured that we are doing everything in our power and exerting the maximum effort to ease traffic in Metro Manila and the surrounding areas," he said.

However, Abaya added that some of the solutions to the traffic woes "will take time."

He cited the LRT-2 Masinag extension project which will require two years of construction.

"This is precisely the infrastructure needed to ease traffic congestion in the area. Our goal in extending the rail system to Masinag is to provide a more efficient and reliable commuting option to those affected," he said.

Abaya "humbly" asked the public for patience and understanding amid the ongoing projects.


KILUSANG MAYO PRESS RELEASE

Press Statement
21 August 2015

On Risa Hontiveros’ PhilHealth ads



PhilHealth director Risa Hontiveros’ television advertisements were made and aired to boost her chances of winning in the 2016 senatorial elections. She and her partylist group Akbayan hope that she would fare better this time despite having served as loyal servants and defenders of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s anti-worker and anti-poor presidency.

The ads confirm that Hontiveros was appointed to PhilHealth not to improve the agency’s service to its members but as part of the preparation for her Senate run. We have already said that she does not have a track record of service to workers. Her appointment is part of patronage politics donning the guise of “daang matuwid.”

We have every reason to believe that public funds are being used to pay for the airing of the advertisement, which cost less than half a million per airing.

The ads are being projected as public service announcements, and the claim of Akbayan media officers that “no public funds” were used in their creation and airing can only be pure hogwash.

The ads confirm that Akbayan is indeed part of the country’s rotten political system, “bahagi ng bulok na sistema ng pulitika.”

It is only trying to deceive the people and prettify the rotten system when it claims that it is fighting for its “reform agenda” in government. We are calling on Filipinos to reject Hontiveros and Akbayan in the polls.

Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597


MALAYA COLUMN

ARE US, CHINA DOOMED TO CONFLICT? By Rey O. Arcilla on August 18, 2015


By Rey O. Arcilla

I WAS at a loss up to Sunday night what to write in today’s column.

Then I had the good fortune of coming across in the internet a talk given in March this year by former Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd of Australia entitled “Are the US and China Doomed to Conflict?”.

Given the rather ticklish situation now existing in our neck of the woods brought about by the conflicting territorial claims of China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea (WPS/SCS), Rudd’s discourse is very timely.

According to Wikipedia, Rudd holds the distinction of, among others, having been twice Prime Minister of Australia, from 2007 to 2010, and again for about three months in 2013. He was the first former prime minister to return to the office since Robert Menzies in 1949. He has retired from politics.

Rudd is a long-time student of China and once served as a diplomat in that country. He had a unique vantage point in witnessing the Asian giant’s rise in power in the past few decades. In his talk, he asks whether the growing ambition of China will inevitably lead to conflict with other major powers, particularly the United States – and suggests a gripping narrative in a video that everyone should watch (it has sub-titles), especially leaders of this country.

Particularly relevant to Rudd’s discourse are the words of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela …

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela

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Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/8XQ1onjXJK0 (Copy and Paste on your browser.)

***

Reminders (for Noynoy):

Sad to say that after five years, none of the following items has merited the attention of Noynoy. And he keeps bragging about his Daang Matuwid?!

1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency. That was more than five years ago!

A couple of Noynoy’s appointees to head the NFA also left under a cloud.

2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and order his successor, Robert “Pretty Boy” Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former.

Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that:

(a) He received the obscenely excessive compensation of P16.36 million in 2012 making him the highest paid government servant then. He was also the highest paid in 2013 with P12.09 million and the second highest in 2014 with about the same amount.

(b) That about two years ago, at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices, maybe more by now, to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011.

COA also said that the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have at that time responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.

There are three questions being raised when remittances, or parts thereof, of government agencies are not recorded by the GSIS on time: a) Where are these huge sums “parked” in the meantime?; b) Do they earn interest?; and c) To where (whom?) does the interest, if any, go?

Pray tell, Mr. Vergara, what is the present status of these funds, including those that may have been remitted since and not yet recorded by the GSIS? How long do you think you can “dedma” these questions?

I believe it is time for COA to follow up on what Vergara has done on the above findings so that affected GSIS members would know the status of their contributions!

Maybe the newly appointed GSIS Board chairman, Renato de Guzman, could also look into this?

In this connection, I would like to address this question to COA Chief Michael Aguinaldo: “Is Vergara one of the sacred cows in Noynoy’s coterie whom you wouldn’t dare investigate?”

***

Today is the 113th day of the ninth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

I dread to think of how many more years it will take before Jonas’ disappearance is finally resolved. I hope the new members of the Commission on Human Rights will be able to help expedite the resolution of his case, notwithstanding the appointment by Noynoy of the new Army chief, Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, who had been linked to human rights abuses, including the abduction of Jonas in 2007.

***

From an internet friend:

A man once asked an old-timer who had been married 60 years and claims he and his wife never once fought in all that time.

“Never?! Every married couple fight on occasions. Please tell me your secret.”

“Well,” said the old man, “it all started about 60 years ago, right after the wedding. We were riding our mule back to town and walking it down the street when it tripped over a stone and my wife said to him “That’s one.”

We kept riding and he tripped again on another stone, which made my wife immediately say: “That’s two.”

Two minutes later, the mule trips over a stone again. My wife said: “That’s three”, pulled out a gun I never knew she had and shot it in the head without thinking twice! I was shocked and yelled at her: “What the heck do you think you’re doing? We needed that mule! Are you crazy?!”

My wife looked me straight in the eye and said: “That’s one.”

“And we haven’t had a fight since.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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