from The Manila Times

101 days after: Little done, no real plan for Tacloban


The ABS-CBN media behemoth would be doing real public service if it broadcast again, or release a transcript, of broadcaster Ted Failon’s excellent—but depressing—special report on Tacloban

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FIRST PERSON by Alex Magno

from The Philippine Star




This time President Aquino blames a typhoon.

Asked about a recent survey showing a marked increase in the number of people who rate themselves as “poor,” Aquino pointed out that the survey was taken after Typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas. He suggested that more people rated themselves as “poor” as a direct consequence of the natural calamity. Read column





Republic Service by Ric Saludo

from The Manila Times


Solving Aquino: Blame, investigate, tune out


When faced with crisis, what should a leader do most of all:  a) Blame others? b) Investigate? c) Take action on the problem? Clearly, the last should be first, and the first last. Remedial measures are most important and urgent, followed by inquiries into causes, culpability, and crisis prevention measures.

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Ten questions they didn't, couldn't ask at the Napoles hearing


When Janet Lim-Napoles arrived at the hall for the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last Friday, she was dour-looking, but surprisingly—or not so surprisingly— confident. When she left, she was smiling and even animatedly shook hands with her persecutor, justice secretary Leila de Lima who was visibly shocked at the gesture.

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The wimpiest, most shameful Congress


I cannot run out of words to describe how low our Congress, has stooped to be so subservient to, or so fearful of President Aquino.

With his Disbursement Acceleration Program, which threw to the dustbin Congress’ appropriations law, Aquino has politically slapped its members on their faces.


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Without Congress' approval, Aquino set up own P72-B pork barrel fund


It’s amazing how the pork barrel scam, initially intended to politically bury the opposition early for the 2016 elections, has boomeranged against this administration and opened up to public view its horrific can of worms.

Unveiled only in the past few days, it is a mostly unknown fund created in October 12, 2011 in order to finance the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program. The P5 billion used for the post-trial “second tranche” of the bribe money for Congress to take out Chief Justice Renato Corona came from this fund.


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President Aquino is now suspect

On the face of it, abolishing the hated pork barrel system and throwing to jail senators and congressmen who stole taxpayers’ money using the scheme could have been President Aquino’s great achievement, his legacy to the nation.

More than that, it is a masterstroke that could put an end the presidential and vice presidential ambitions of opposition Senators Ramon Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is politically finished to be a leader that could rally opposition senators against Aquino’s man Senate President Franklin Drilon.


Aquino's flawed Moro policy unravels


The storming of Zamboanga City by forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that started Monday marks the unraveling of President Aquino’s injudicious, even reckless roadmap to end the Islamic insurgency in Mindanao.


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Pork scam makes us miserable


One of the weirdest TV news clips I watched during a recent typhoon had a reporter asking people in a street that was flooded to the waist: “Ok lang ba kayo?”. Not only that, believe it or not, he asked them: “Masaya ba kayo?” (“Are you ok? Are you happy?”)

And believe it or not, a chubby lady, an elderly man, and a teen-ager—all seemed were poor—were all smiling, “Sanay na ho kami. Masaya na lang kami.” (“We’re used to it.


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Incompetence and politicking in Zamboanga


Around 1 a.m. September 9, 2013, fully armed Moro National Liberation Front fighters routed a Navy’s elite Special Operations Group that tried to stop them from landing on the coast of barangay Rio Hondo in Zamboanga City, killing one Navy soldier and wounding six others.

By dawn, the MNLF fighters—joined by 100 who had slipped into the city earlier—had occupied six barangays, allegedly keeping hostage some 200 civilians, and securing their battle perimeters with improvised explosive devices. Snipers, the military would learn later, had been deployed in strategic areas.


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DBM cover-up in COA's pork barrel report


Imagine if the school principal clamps down on cheating by this class of 24 students, which had become an open secret on campus.

An investigator is called and asks for the exam papers for him to pin down the cheating. The teacher submits only the documents for this particular gang of four he doesn’t like, and simply ignores the investigator’s demand to provide him with the exam papers of the others.


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Without pork, Aquino is a lame duck


Without the pork barrel funds, President Aquino will most likely be a lame-duck president for the remaining three years of his administration, and we will see a truly independent Congress after all these hypocritical three years. Even the controversy alone over pork barrel and Aquino’s efforts to deal with it will have consequences that will loosen his hold on Congress.


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Pork barrel, an anti-poor system


The watershed, historic million-people rally the other day sent a loud, clear message to President Aquino: Scrap the pork-barrel system.

It is not just the gross, scandalous hijacking of taxpayers’ money by the likes of Janet Napoles, not just the hundreds of millions of pesos senators and congressman manage to siphon to their own pockets in varied ways, certainly not just greed that people from all walks of life were protesting against the other day.


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The right to bail
Monday, 24 February 2014 15:53 Posted by admin   

by Fr. Ranhilio Aquino  (Manila Standard Today)

You can introduce a terminological distinction between a ‘detainee’ and a ‘prisoner’, but the effects belie the verbal sleight-of-hand: A person is deprived of his liberty in so many different ways. But while a prisoner suffers incarceration as penalty for a crime of which he has been duly, we hope, convicted, a detainee is detained (= incarcerated) on suspicion (technically: on the basis of a probability) that he committed an offense. Each acquittal merely proves how mistaken suspicions can be, no matter that they are vested in the legalesse of ‘probable cause’

Noynoy's powers
Thursday, 16 January 2014 13:09 Posted by admin   

by Jojo Robles  (Manila Standard Today)

If President Noynoy Aquino is granted emergency powers, will he use them to address urgent problems like high electricity prices? But if Aquino never used his vast regular powers to protect the people before, what makes anyone think giving him even more authority now will prod him to do that?

With Aquino, it has never been a question of a lack of presidential power. It is Aquino’s decision of when and where to expend his great power that is really the key.

Romualdez: We wanted Aquino's care but got blamed instead
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00 Posted by admin   

by Dennis Santos and Aquiles Zonio  (Philippine Daily Inquirer Mindanao)

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Mayor Alfred Romualdez has admitted that he is still hurting from President Benigno Aquino III’s “uncalled for statement” that thousands died in the city when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) struck, because the city simply failed to prepare for the cyclone.

“He made that comment on a Saturday. He came here (Tacloban) on a Sunday. I felt bad, because how can you make a comment when you were not here,” Romualdez said on Wednesday in an interview. Around 5,800 died in Yolanda, roughly half of whom from this city; over 26,000 were injured; and close to 2,000 people are still missing.

When institutions and processes fail
Monday, 02 December 2013 00:00 Posted by admin   

by MA. LOURDES N. TIQUIA (The Manila Times - ZILCH)

The wrath of Yolanda has showed to us how government can fail us during the most critical hours when we needed to feel its presence. It is even worst after its aftermath. Sad, truly sad because every peso we contribute to taxes whether in the form of withholding, value added or expanded value added taxes are pesos we worked hard for

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 00:00 Posted by admin   

by Alex Magno  (The Philippine Star)

A couple of days after calamity struck, he was adjudged to have “failed to show leadership in the crisis, and was too slow in acknowledging the severity of the disaster.”

Five days after that big tsunami struck Japan in 2011, Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned his post. That was the honorable thing to do.

Friday, 22 November 2013 14:18 Posted by admin   

by Jojo Robles  (Manila Standard Today)

One day, perhaps when all the anger, the blame-tossing and the Monday morning quarterbacking have ceased, all the things that went wrong in the official and unofficial response to Typhoon Yolanda will be documented and analyzed, with a view to avoiding them when future calamities strike our calamity-prone land. After all, while we can always improve our capability to lessen the death toll and the damage to property in future disasters, we simply cannot prevent disasters from happening.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 00:00 Posted by admin   

by Jojo Robles  (Manila Standard Today)

As Dave Barry said, I am not making this up: The ambassador of Thailand, Prasas Prasasvinitchai, was warned that he would be recalled to his home country if he did not course a shipment of relief goods donated to the Philippines through the, uh, proper channels.

Prasasvinitchai earlier informed the Department of Foreign Affairs that the shipment of relief goods from the Thai royal family was to arrive today at Cebu’s Mactan airport, on board a Royal Thai Air Force C-130 plane. The envoy requested merely that DFA arrange for a ranking Philippine official to receive the donation.

Thursday, 21 November 2013 00:00 Posted by admin   

by Alex Magno  (The Philippine Star)

The Supreme Court, voting unanimously, ruled the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) unconstitutional. That ruling is a major blow against the curse of pork barrel politics.

In addition, the High Court deemed illegal the discretionary use of special earmarked funds such as the President’s Social Fund and the Malampaya Fund. These earmarked funds can only be used for the specific purposes intended by law.

Ten years ago, same provinces, different disasters one issue remains: Response
Friday, 22 November 2013 12:52 Posted by admin   

The devastation in Leyte, Samar and nearby provinces this November is quite a repeat of what happened nearly ten years ago in the same areas, although of different strengths and intensity.

First, there was a landslide caused by heavy rains in towns of Leyte on December 21, 2003. There were casualties but immediate response groups were mobilized for search, rescue and retrieval. 


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