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On Impeaching Binay

“((T)he Supreme Court recognizes the authority of Congress to determine which acts constitute impeachable offenses, regardless of when they were committed.”

 


by Ducky Paredes

 

Can Jejomar Binay be impeached as vice president for things that he did while he was a city mayor?

Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr, President of the National Unity Party (NUP) and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr, believe Vice President Jejomar Binay can only be impeached for crimes and other acts he  committed after he assumed his office in 2010.

 “An impeachable official who did not commit any impeachable offense during his time in office can still be held accountable for offenses committed before assuming his present office,” says Dasmariñas City Rep. Barzaga. The NUP is allied with the ruling Liberal Party.

Harry Roque Jr., who teaches Constitutional Law at the University of the Philippines College of Law agrees that the impeachable offenses must have been committed while Binay was sitting as an impeachable official not when he was Mayor of Makati.

Article XI Section 2 of the Constitution that provides the Vice President “may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”

 “It is contemplated that it be for acts while he was vice president,” Roque says.

* * *

But Rep. Barzaga also notes that the Supreme Court recognizes the authority of Congress to determine which acts constitute impeachable offenses, regardless of when they were committed.

In Francisco vs. The House of Representatives, Barzaga points out, the Court ruled that the determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense is a “non-justiciable” political question and is beyond judicial power. This means that no court, (not even the SC) can decide what is an impeachable offence.

 The High Court ruled that such a determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislature

Thus one can argue that, “based on the Francisco ruling, it is up to Congress to determine if the acts committed constitute an impeachable offense, which may include the period when said offense was committed,” adds Barzaga.

Does this mean that Binay can actually be removed from the vice presidency for things that he did as mayor?

Barzaga also cites Section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution which states: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people.”

Even American authorities and jurisprudence support his view, says Barzaga, citing the statements of Yale constitutional scholar Alan Hirsch, author of “A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment.”

 “The Philippine Constitution has its origin from the United States Constitution, including the removal from office through impeachment. Consequently, on issues pertaining to the impeachment process, resort must be made to American jurisprudence on the matter,” he said.

Quoting Hirsh, Barzaga argued that impeachable offenses could also refer to actions taken by an impeachable public officer prior to his assumption of his current office.

According to Hirsh, the American Constitution does not provide any limitation that impeachment could only be used for acts taken during the incumbency of the public officer, Barzaga said.

 “Similarly, the Philippine Constitution does not mandate that the impeachable offense must be committed during the term of the impeachable officer. Basic is the rule that when the Constitution does not distinguish, we shall not also distinguish,” Barzaga said.

Barzaga said Hirsch further argues: “While it might seem unfair to remove someone from office for acts undertaken before assuming office, in certain cases it would clearly be justified. Suppose, for example, it turns out that a President, in a previous stint as a governor, made a regular practice of accepting bribes. Impeachment would clearly be in order.”

Hirsch cites as an example the case of former US vice president Spiro Agnew, who, if not for his timely resignation in 1973, would have been impeached as he was indicted for extortion and bribery he allegedly committed during the time he was governor of Maryland.

Barzaga said there are cases wherein an impeachable officer is not actually impeached but subjected to criminal indictment and civil suit – another scenario that can be applied in Binay’s case.

He cited the cases of former US vice presidents Spiro Agnew and Aaron Burr.

Agnew was indicted for acts committed prior to his assumption of office as vice president. Burr was charged for killing Alexander Hamilton at the time he was the vice president.

 “Both were criminally indicted while sitting as vice presidents,” Barzaga said, adding that even former President Bill Clinton, during his presidency, was a defendant in a sexual harassment civil suit filed by Paula Jones for the sexual misconduct he allegedly committed at the time he was governor of Arkansas.

* * *

The dean of the San Beda Law School, Ranhilio Aquino, said a criminal prosecution of an impeachable official such as Binay may not take place unless he is removed from office by impeachment.

 “As long as one is within the territory of the Republic of the Philippines, anyone who commits a crime—from the President down to the last citizen in the farthest barangay—is liable to be prosecuted, tried and punished,” said Aquino.

 “However, in the case of impeachable officials—and VP Binay is an impeachable official—criminal prosecution may not take place before he has been removed from office by impeachment by the Lower House and conviction by the Senate. In other words, an impeachable official is first removed from office by the mechanism of impeachment and conviction, and then prosecuted and tried for criminal offenses,” he added.

In effect therefore, while Binay holds office he may not be prosecuted for any criminal offense, Aquino said.

 “As soon as he ceases to hold office, either by resignation or impeachment, he may be prosecuted. And the impeachment of an impeachable official is not a function of the Justice Department but of the House of Representatives that alone can file articles of impeachment with the Senate,” said Aquino

* * *

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said that Binay and all constitutional officials are covered by immunity from suit.

But this does not prevent the Office of the Ombudsman from conducting an investigation to determine if there is a ground for impeachment, he added.

Macalintal also said immunity from suit is not in the Constitution, but “a mere tradition.”

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hvp 10.20.14

 

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Mga Kapalmuks

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Kung sa ibang bansa (Korea, Japan, Malaysia, USA at sa marami pang iba) pa nangyari ang ganito, magbibitiw na ang nahuli at hindi na tatakbo dahil sa hiya.

Kaya na rin dahil sa hindi naman nating maasahan na ang mga kapalmuks na pulitiko natin ay kusang magbibitiw sa tungkulin na tinuring nilang pinagkakakitaan imbes na tunay na pagsilbi sa lipunan ay ang kanilang pinayayaman ay ang kanilang pamilya na tuwang-tuwa naman sa kanilang swerte. Madalas akala ng mga kapalmuks na ito ay nararapat lang na binigyan sila ng Maykapal ng pagkakataong makaahon sa kahirapan. Madalas pa ay akala ng mga kapalmuks na swerte nila at grasya ng Diyos ang nagbibigay sa kanila ng kanilang pinagkukupitan.

Meron namang ilang nagiisip gaya ni Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice na ang dapat na mangyari ay ang mawala na ang mga kapalmuks na pamilyang ganito sa pamamagitan ng impeachment.

Ngunit, muknhang hindi nalalaman ng mga kapalmuks kung ano ang kanilang nagawa. Tanong ng isa:

“Mas importante ba ang impeachment kaysa solusyon sa kakulangan ng trabaho? Sa rehabilitation ng Yolanda areas? Sa ng peace initiatives sa Bangsamoro region o sa pagpasa ng Freedom of Information (FOI) bill?”

 (Sa Amerika, noong si Richard Nixon ang Presidente, ang Bise niya ay si Spiro Agnew. Ang Attorney General ng District of Maryland ay kinasuhan ito ng “extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy.” Hindi natuloy ang kaso dahil nakipag-ayos na lang si Agnew at nag-bitiw ito sa pagiging Bise Presidente. Hindi na rin tinuloy ang mga sumbong pwera lamang iyong tax fraud at pinagbayad siya ng  $ 29,000 para sa income tax na hindi niya binayaran noong 1967.  Hindi na siya nakulong. Nangyari ito noong 1973 habang nasa ilalim tayo ng diktadurya.)

Dapat pa nga kung hindi talaga kapalmuks, sinisisi pa niya ang pamahalaan na gumagawa ng sa kaniyang pananaw ang kung anu-anong pahirap para sa kaniya. Para bang  meron siyang karapatang manatili sa kaniyang pwesto at wala siyang utang sa lipunan at wala siyang kakulangan sa tapat na pagsilbi.  Sa kaniyang mga pinapakita, dapat na iwanan na niya ang gabinete ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III matapos na birahin nito at ang diumano’y ‘selective justice’ ng administrasyon.

Ayon kay Erice, wala itong puwang sa Gabinete ni Pangulong Aquino matapos nitong banatan ang administrasyon. “Nasa Gabinete ka kinukuwes­tyon mo ang desisyon ng boss mo?”

“Kung gusto niyang banatan ang administrasyong Aquino at ang Liberal Party, mag-resign na lang siya sa gabinete. Panahon nang ipakita niya ang kanyang tunay na kulay,” giit pa ni Erice. “Kaliwa’t kanan (siya) eh, ‘pag pabor sa kanyang bumanat, babanatan niya ang Pangulo. Kung maganda naman ang ginagawa ng Pangulo, siya pa ang nauuna sa pakikipag-selfie sa Pangulo. ” Kapalmuks talaga!

Ayon kay Erice, wala nang puwang sa gabinete ni Pangulong Aquino ang mga gamitong tao matapos nitong banatan ang administrasyon. “Nasa gabinete ka kinukuwes­tyon mo ang desisyon ng boss mo?” diin ni Erice.

“Kung gusto niyang banatan ang administrasyong Aquino at ang Liberal Party, mag-resign na lang siya sa gabinete. Panahon nang ipakita niya ang kanyang tunay na kulay,” giit pa ni Erice.

Sa nakikita natin ngayon, noong nanalo si PNoy noong 2010, baka mas maganda sana kung ginaya niya ang ginawa ng Pangulong Carlos Garcia noong ang kasabay niyang nanalo sa pagka Bise ay galing sa kontra partido na si Vice President Diosdado Macapagal kasabay nito sa halalan. Hindi niya binigyan ang nahalal na Bises ng pwesto sa kaniyang gabinete!

Nagyon, maaaring merong isa niyang miyembro ng gabinete’y  papasok sa NBP ng Muntinglupa kasama ang Misis! Only in da Pilipines!

hvp (10.17.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Let’s Stick to the PCOS in 2016

Had any of the election protests managed to prove massive PCOS cheating at the local level, Macalintal said Roxas would certainly have demanded the delivery of relevant ballot boxes in these contested areas to the SC for immediate recount.”

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Was there anything wrong with the last two elections we had using the PCOS machines?  Most of us have complaints.

Yet,  self-styled electoral reform activists —-  Augusto Lagman and Nelson Celis, have been trying to change the Philippine automated election system (AES) that were used in 2010 and 2012. They attack the AES hoping that the Comelec will abandon the election system that has proven successful and want to change it with their own.

The leaders of AES Watch and TrasparentElections.org.ph (Lagman and Celis)  have started a media offensive to stop the  use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the next national polls.  Fortunately, the Comelec decided in August to use this same optical mark reader (OMR) apparatus in 2016, as endorsed by the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC).

* * *

Lagman, Celis and their ilk are “lobbyists” masquerading as poll reform vanguards. They have actually been lobbying for their rival Open Election System (OES), a mongrel technology combining manual precinct-level vote counting with semi-automated provincial/city and national canvassing. This is in complete disregard of the intent and spirit of Republic Act 9369 or the poll computerization law.

The two are still doggedly selling the manual-automated OES despite (1) its glaring transgression of RA 9369’s decree on full computerization of the Philippine electoral system, and (2) this mongrel has a high vulnerability to the dreaded dagdag-bawas that undermined pre-2010 national and local elections.

One wonders why  the Government Watch chaired by Raul Concepcion with his solid reputation as a credible consumer advocacy group supports the pseudo poll reformers’ call for Comelec to dump the PCOS machines in favor of a new system.  

Charges of PCOS-related poll fraud raised by the likes of Lagman, Celis and Concepcion hold no water as proven by the three arguments of the country’s most prominent election lawyer. Romulo Macalintal.

For Macalintal, the allegation that President Aquino was elected as a result of poll rigging has “no factual nor legal basis” because Aquino won the elections “fair and square,” having gotten 42% of the votes before being unanimously proclaimed by Congress in joint session on June 9, 2010.

* * *

 The three points that Macalintal enumerated in support of the accuracy of the PCOS/AES setup as well as the integrity and credibility of the balloting:

1. “His (President Aquino) opponents did not contest his election when they all conceded defeat,” Macalintal asserted. “None of them ever said that they were cheated by PCOS machines.”

Macalintal said that all the information technology (IT) experts who kept on casting doubts on the President’s victory “miserably failed to show proof that any of the more than 80,000 PCOS machines was ever hacked or their results compromised;” 

2. All election protests involving local posts have been dismissed because the protesters or poll losers failed to present any material discrepancy between the PCOS results and the results of the physical re-count of the ballots; and

3. The best argument that the PCOS count in 2010 was accurate was that Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II has “not been actively pursuing” his election protest against Vice President Jejomar Binay that he filed before the Supreme Court in July 2010.

Had any of the election protests managed to prove massive PCOS cheating at the local level, Macalintal said Roxas would certainly have demanded the delivery of relevant ballot boxes in these contested areas to the SC for immediate recount.

* * *

Says Macalintal: “Thus, I have been challenging these ‘IT experts’ to show at least one, yes, even just one, ballot of the more than 37 million ballots cast in the 2010 or 2013 polls where the vote cast by a voter for, say, Candidate A was credited by the PCOS to Candidate B,”

His challenge was never taken up, he says, and al that these “experts” could come up with were alleged results of some recounts conducted by trial courts where they claimed the PCOS results did not tally with the physical count of the ballots in one or two precincts.

“But these alleged ‘discrepancies’ were not due to PCOS fraud but were man-made fraud or tampering of the original ballots by some election operators out to discredit the integrity of the PCOS count,” says Macalintal.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes himself is so sure that no PCOS/AES-related cheating ever took place that he challenged critics during the August hearing of the JCOC that he would resign right then and there if any of them could present solid proof that the PCOS machines were inaccurate.

* * *

In case it dumps PCOS/AES, Comelec will need a whopping P55 billion to buy about 800,000 DRE machines using the touch screen mode for the country’s 80,000 precincts nationwide.

Considering that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed to just P10.3 billion the P16-billion budget that the Comelec wanted under the proposed 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of P2.6 trillion. With P10.3 billion, the Commission will use P6.9 billion to use/upgrade the existing 80,000 PCOS units and buy 6,000 new ones to cover the larger number of voters and the planned pilot DRE program, and have P3.4 billion left for its other poll-related activities for the next computerized electoral exercise.

* * *

The electorate has nothing to worry about the PCOS/AES technology supplied by Smartmatic in 2010 and 2013, given (1) that most Filipino voters themselves were satisfied with, and lauded the results of, those electionss as reflected in the tracking and exit polls of prominent pollsters Social Weather Stations (SWS), Pulse Asia and StratPolls; and (2) the high level of international acclaim for these Philippine polls as shown by the swift congratulatory messages from leaders across the globe.

James Jimenez, spokesperson and education and information department director at the Comelec, has some powerful arguments debunking the critics’ feigned concern over the accuracy of the PCOS machines.

Jimenez notes that what the critics are not telling the public is that their allegations “had actually been brought up before the Supreme Court and that it ruled, in no uncertain terms, that the fears were unfounded.”

Regarding the critics’ charge about the public not being able to see how the votes are being counted by the PCOS machines, Jimenez said this argument is “disingenuous” because, “Accuracy in counting is determined not by watching ballots being counted, but by checking if the votes received by any candidate, as recorded in the election returns, match the number of votes he or she received, as gleaned from each individual ballot.”

* * *

Unlike Government Watch, the advocacy group Democracy Watch has aptly noted in a position paper the great strides that the Philippines achieved in the field of electoral balloting via the use of PCOS/AES in the country’s first two computerized elections.

Hence, it said, it was “impractical” to replace the PCOS machines and spend billions of pesos on acquiring a completely new system, considering that “the reported use of the same PCOS machines in other countries shows that with proper storage and maintenance, a useful life span of 10-20 years is normal.”

“More importantly, records show that hardware failure and replacement rate in the 2010 elections was only at 0.6% and in the succeeding 2013 elections, it was even lower at approximately 0.5%,” said Democracy Watch. “Verily, the reported incidents are mainly due to issues not associated directly with the PCOS machines, but problems with the voters’ lists, issues with the BEIs, among others.”

Lagman’s nonstop opposition to AES/PCOS is marked by a clear conflict of interest.

It is unbecoming for him to vilify this automated system because he was, and still is, the lead proponent of the mongrel OES that the Comelec rejected in the 2010 public bidding in favor of Smartmatic and its local partner Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic-TIM).

In his early days as Comelec commissioner in 2011, Lagman already shot himself in the foot with his reported statements before the media that betrayed his lack of delicadeza and exposed a clear conflict of interest in his capacity as a member of the Commission.

Despite the international and domestic acclaim won by the country’s first-ever automated polls using the AES-driven PCOS machines, Lagman—an appointed Comelec commissioner—said back then that it was time for the Comelec to consider other technologies instead of using again in 2013 what he described as the “defective” PCOS machines.

This may have prompted  Malacañang to subsequently withdraw Lagman’s appointment to the Comelec after  he showed he was incapable of discharging his duties effectively owing to his vested interest when it came to automating the country’s election system.

He should have had a sense of delicadeza following his appointment to announce then that he would inhibit himself from all Comelec deliberations on the PCOS because of his commercial interest in another electoral system..

Actually, Malacañang should never have appointed Lagman to the Comelec in view of his checkered past in the IT community.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a fraud charge against Lasgman in 2010. Did Malacañang’s screening committee overlook or deliberately ignore that Lagman was under DOJ investigation back then for suspected estafa?

The case stemmed from a complaint by businesswoman Nora Bitong against him. Lagman allegedly sold a company—Systems Standard Inc.—without the consent of Bitong, who was the majority owner of the firm.

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hvp 10.16.14

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Incinerator, Binay Immunity, COA on Alcala

Albano cites a 2002 Supreme Court ruling which said that the Clean Air Act “does not absolutely prohibit incineration as a mode of waste disposal, (since) only those burning processes which emit poisonous and toxic fumes are banned.”

 


 

 

 by Ducky Paredes

 

First District Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III on Sunday backed the proposal of Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to use “high-tech and environment friendly” incinerators to dispose of solid waste.

According to Albano, there no need to amend Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999 to make way for burning garbage without polluting the surroundings.

Albano cites a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that the Clean Air Act “does not absolutely prohibit incineration as a mode of waste disposal, (since) only those burning processes which emit poisonous and toxic fumes are banned.”

According to him, the “ruling recognizes that the garbage problem is a matter of public concern, and for as long as the government adopts ways that will address it–such as the use of ‘smokeless’ incinerators as advocated by MMDA’s Tolentino, then so be it.”

The government’s P390-billion waste disposal project in 1997 with Jancom Environmental Corp., involvwd the development of an incineration plant at the San Mateo landfill in Rizal province.

The present 8,100 tons of garbage generated daily by Metro Manila, an average of almost 1.5 kilograms per person per day, requiree prompt and effective government action.

MMDA’s Tolentino notes that while certain provisions under RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 regulated burning, improved incinerators could now comply with the law’s requirements.

But the so-called “waste-to-energy incineration technology” to be adopted should conform to strict universal emission standards and the Clean Air Act, Albano says.

* * *

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima says that  the Department of Justice will investigates investigation into the anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay because he is not immune from suit.

 “The principle of immunity from suit applies only to two entities—the State and the President,” De Lima explains.

“No one can prevent us from doing an investigation because there is no such thing as immunity from investigation,” De Lima says.

Although the Vice President is one of the impeachable officials mentioned in the Constitution, she argues that “impeachability does not mean immunity.”

 “Thus, among the impeachable officials, only the President is immune from suit. The vice president is an impeachable official but is not immune from suit. Cases can be filed against him but he can only be removed by impeachment,” says De Lima.

In the case of Spiro Agnew, Vice President of the US under President Nixon, an investigation showed that he had received money that he did not report. There was no impeachment. Agnew resigned under a plea bargain deal. Eventually, he had tro pay a stiff fine to the government.

The NBI investigationwill verify the veracity of the allegations against Binay.

Aside from the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, Binay is the suspected  owner of hundreds of hectares of land in Batangas province.

* * *

The Commission on Audit (COA) blames Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for the misuse of P759.1 million worth of lawmakers’ PDAF funds.

COA found that the amount, channeled to the Department of Agricutlure (DA) between December 2011 to October 2012, went to fake non-governmental organizations that mostly belong to the Godofredo Roque network of NGOs.

“The audit team believes that the DA is the primary implementing agency of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) projects and is therefore, responsible for the efficient and effective implementation of these projects,” says COA.

The COA report notes that the DA used satellite agencies, including the National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor), Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), the Philippine Carabao Center, and the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), as conduits instead of implementing the projects itself as required by law.

“There is no need to use a conduit agency for the implementation of the PDAF projects. Instead, it should be the one to find the eligible and qualified NGOs for the purpose,” says COA.

Alcala says he does not know nor has ever heard of Godofredo Roque.

He told reporters:”Hindi ko po alam ang sinasabi niyo. We have to check on that.”

Alcala says that he has not received a copy of the COA report and that it was his first time to hear of Godofredo Roque.

Some lawmakers who have been dragged in the pork barrel scam had earlier denied knowing that their discretionary funds went to bogus non-governmental organization. Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the  senators charged with plunder and graft in connection with the scam, maintains that it was the responsibility of implementing agencies to verify whether the NGOs were fake.

Alcala is facing graft and plunder complaints before the Ombudsman after being named as one of the possible beneficiaries in the special COA report that exposed the extent of how fake NGOs were used to siphon off public funds.

Despite the allegations, Alcala continues to enjoy the President’s trust. President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he would not fire cabinet officials implicated in the pork barrel scam in the absence of sufficient evidence.

COA found that 23 projects covered by the report were awarded to only 3 NGOs, which shared the same sets of officers: Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation Inc., Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation Inc., Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc.

These NGOs did not belong yo yjr mrtwork of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, who is facing plunder charges for the scam.

The report found all 3 NGOs shared the following officers and incorporatorsMarilou L. Antonio, Godofredo G. Roque, Marilou C. Ferrer,Miraflor E. Villanueva and Ruby L. Ramos.

“The above NGOs which are owned/managed by the same persons resulted in monopoly of implementing PDAF projects by making it appear that the three NGOs are independent and separate from each other,” notes COA .

DA-NAFC only released P116.752 million to NGOs endorsed by legislators out of the P199.4 million worth of funds allocated to NAFC. Of the 59 PDAF-funded projects covered by the report, only 8 validation reports were submitted to COA.

Anomalies in the transactions noted by COA include: failure to provide a list of individual beneficiaries, failure to provide a timeline for the monitoring, evaluation and reporting of project implementation, andfailure to submit liquidation, with the DA only making “verbal reminders” to the NGOs for the requirements

COA’s latest report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund covered 59 memoranda of agreement with the NAFC for the PDAF-funded Integrated Livelihood Development Program with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and former and current members of the House of Representatives.

The Congressmen include:Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman (Lanao), Abigail Faye Ferriol (PL-Kalinga), Anthony Golez (Bacolod City), Antonio Lagdameo (Davao del Norte), Arnulfo Fuentebella (Camarines Sur), Baby Aline Vargas Alfonso (Cagayan), Eduardo Gullas (Cebu), Florencio Flores (Bukidnon), Francisco Matugas (Surigao del Norte), Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing (Cebu), Irwin Tieng (PL-Buhay), Isidro Ungab (Davao City), Julieta R. Cortuna (PL-A Teacher), Julio A. Ledesma (Negros Occidental), Leopoldo Bataoil (Pangasinan), Loreto Leo Ocampos (Misamis Occidental), Maria Velintina G. Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Mariano U. Piamonte, Jr. (PL-A Teacher), Maximo Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro City), Monique Yazmin Q. Lagdameo (Makati City), Nasser Pangandaman (PL-AA Kasosyo), Neil Benedict A. Montejo (Leyte), Renato Unico, Jr. (Camarines Norte), Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro), Rodante D. Marcoleta, (PL-Alagad) and Scott Davies Lanete (Masbate).

* * *

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

# # # #

hvp 10.15.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Ang Pinagdarasal ni Papa Francis

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Upang maiwasang pumasok ang kasamaaan sa puso ng bawat Katoliko ay dapat na eksaminin ang konsensya para masigurong hindi masasakop ng demonyo.Ito ang naging mensahe ni Pope Francis sa kanyang homiliya sa misang ginanap sa Santa Marta sa bansang Columbia kung saan sa kabila, aniya, ng makalumang paniniwala ay maituturing namang magandang gawain ang pag-aaral sa konsensya ng bawat Katoliko.
            “The Gospel of the day reminds us that the devil always comes back to us; he never stops tempting man. The devil has patience. He never leaves that which he wants for himself, that is, our souls,” sabi pa ng Santo Papa.

During her journey through history, “the Church is tempted by the devil who tries to divide it,” ‘ika ng Papa at, dahil sa Demonyo, nagkawatak-watak ang mga Kristiytano.

Ang sermon ni Francis tinukoy niya sa pagkakahiwalay ng iba’t-ibang sekto ng Kritianismo.

Huwag nating kalimutan, ayon kay Francis na “there are many brothers and sisters who share our faith in Christ, but who belong to other denominations or traditions different from our own.” Ang kaniyang kagustohan ay nag huwag nating tanggapin itong mga “painful divisions,”  na naging sanhi ng mga hindi pagkaksunduan, “suffering, even wars.”

“Are we resigned, or even indifferent to this division? Or do we firmly believe that we can and must walk in the direction of reconciliation and full communion?” Tanong ni Francis.

“Our preaching and our testimony will be all the more credible if we are able to live in communion and love each other. That’s what his apostles understood,” dagdag pa niya.

Kung anuman ang iagmulan ng hindi pagkakaintindihan at away, “what is certain is that, in one way or another, behind all these divisions there is always pride and selfishness,” ayon sa Santo Papa. These flaws, dagdag pa niya  “make us intolerant, unable to listen and accept those who have a vision or a position different from ours.”

Ang hiningi ni Francis sa ating mga Kristiyano ay ang ipgdasal natin na magsama-sama ang lahat ng mga Kristiyano at maglakadtaong lahat samsa-sama  sa kaniyang tinawag na “spiritual ecumenism.”

Sa bawat bansa, marami ang mga theologians, bayaan natin silang mag-debate tungkol sa mga isyu, “while we walk together, praying for each other and carrying out works of charity.”

“This is called ‘spiritual ecumenism,’” ayon kay Francis, “walking the path of life together in our faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.”

“The Lord asks us not to fix our gaze on what divides us, but rather on what unites us,” ‘ika ng Papa Francis, “and this means adherence to the truth, along with the ability to forgive, and to feel part of the same Christian family.”

“There are divisions,” he declared. “There are divided Christians. We are divided among ourselves. But we all have something in common: we all believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord. We all believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we all walk together. We are on a journey.”

Ayon sa Papa, “Let us go forward towards full unity! History has separated us, be we are on the way to reconciliation and communion! And this is true! And this we must defend! We are all on a journey towards communion.”

Ito pong sinasabi ng Simbahang Katoliko ngayon sa pamamagitan ng Santo Papa, naiiba sa mga nadinig ko noong mas bata pa ako na kung minsan ay parang mas matindi pa ang galit ng aking relihiyon sa ibang mga sekto at mas matindi pa ang galit nito kesa sa mga relihiyong hindi naniniwala sa Hesu Kristo. Tama si Francis. Maaari tayong mga naniniwala na Diyos ang Hesu Kristo na sama-samang magsamba’t magdasal.

# # # #

hvp (10.15.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

PNoy Preaches Democracy in Bali

“What we have done is to bring back government to its core: to be a provider of genuine service and by so doing, empower society and enterprise; to champion what is right, fair, and democratic towards the benefit of all, and thus enable our people to participate in fulfilling the promise of our freedom.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

   President Benigno Aquino III’s message at the Bali Democracy Forum was loud and clear:  A totalitarian regime is never acceptable. To us, his home audience, he was also saying that he was not looking at a second therm for himself.

Speaking before regional leaders in Bali, Indonesia, Aquino talked of  totalitarian rule but concluded that its consequences far outweigh the benefits.

 “It can be said: In a totalitarian regime, things get done faster, whether they are right or wrong, precisely because there are no checks and balances in place. Very often, the consent and support of the governed are neither sought nor attained.”

 “Naturally, such a regime, one divorced from the desires of its people, will have weak foundations. In that kind of regime, might I point out, the opinions and wishes of the governed are only second to the objective of staying in power.”

Aquino acknowledged that as a leader, it is common to feel frustrated which ”breeds the temptation to consider an authoritarian method” that may likely bring about “immediate gains.” He warned however, that without consensus, instability would ultimately arise.

 “Sitting down and reflecting on this idea, however, we realize that, with the lack of consensus and consent from the people, such a mode, which offers quick, short-term gains, may be detrimental to society in the long-run.

 “On the other hand, in a democratic state, which is the opposite of an authoritarian regime, government is systematically attuned to the voice of the people; it represents the people and works towards the betterment of its people.”

* * *

Our President  was co-chair of the forum, along with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Aquino encouraged ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders to foster democracy in their respective countries for the good of the ASEAN region even if it would require a “significant amount of time.”

 “All of our reforms in the domestic sphere complement our approach in building meaningful consensus with our ASEAN brothers and partners in the region. Like all of you, we share the belief that stability and cooperation are fundamental in maximizing the prospects of success brought about by democratic participation.”

 “To those who represent the different ASEAN states here today, all of us know full well that the collective growth of our citizenries may only be fulfilled in a regional context where our shared ideals and individual beliefs are respected by our partners.”

The President said it was crucial for the region to harness its “united resolve towards a democratic regional community,” and for ASEAN counties to treat each other “as a brother in the path to mutual progress.”

 “Thus, it is incumbent upon us to continue to show our brothers and sisters in ASEAN that they chose the right path; we can do this by extending assistance to them, in every manner possible,” he said.

* * *

            In his speech, the President also shared the history of the Philippines in fulfilling democratic processes, citing the EDSA People Power revolution which toppled the 21-year regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino praised the peaceful movement as “the absolute measure by which all democratic actions in our country will be judged.”

Aquino cited the progress achieved by his administration, specifically the “resurgent economy, a more empowered citizenry, and the growing confidence of the international community in the Philippines.”

 “What we have done is to bring back government to its core: to be a provider of genuine service and by so doing, empower society and enterprise; to champion what is right, fair, and democratic towards the benefit of all, and thus enable our people to participate in fulfilling the promise of our freedom.”

In the Philippines, Aquino said, it is “the interest of the majority, and not of the powerful few” that is “the ultimate compass of government.”

He said the relationship between Indonesia and the Philippines is a striking example of ASEAN nations working together for the betterment of all.

The President said Indonesia played a key role in helping the Philippines forge peace between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and has been supportive of the Philippines’ efforts to secure its maritime borders, combat terrorism, and raise awareness for climate change.

“Indonesia has indeed been a true friend to my people,” he said.

* * *

Going back to the totsalitarian regime the President mpthed that  “as we have seen in history, all authoritarian regimes, regardless of the cause of their coming to power, will at one point make political survival the end all and be all of government”

“In a democratic state, which is the opposite of an authoritarian regime, government is systematically attuned to the voice of the people; it represents the people and works towards the betterment of its people. And while consensus building, which is the foundation of such a state, may be a long and complicated process,” he said.

 “Democratic institutions, after all, seek to free and enable its citizens, and the first freedom should always be from hunger, as my father once thought. In turn, that empowered citizenry becomes capable of nurturing and fostering democracy. This ultimately redounds to a virtuous cycle of inclusiveness, stability, and development,” Aquino said.

* * *

This means that PNoy is no longer interested in changing our constitution so he can have another term. It sure looks like he has accpted his bosses’ decision. Last I heard it was 6 to 4 among his bosses against changing the Consitution and giving PNoy a second term.

* * *

            We have a letter from Mr. Arjan P. Aguirre, M.A., Instructor, Department of Political Science of the Ateneo de Manila University:

“Good day! I am writing this email to make a comment about your article ‘Pope Scolds a Mayor’.

“Sir, I think that your article is referring to a report found in adobochronicles.com.The article is a satire. The info about Mayor Petilla may be true, but the response of Vatican or the Pope is not. 

I am an avid reader of yours, Sir.”

* * *

Arj is absolutely right. I picked this item up from a  from a blog that did not identify where the report came from. I was a bit suspicious because the purported letter to the Mayor of Palo  did not seem like it came from any Pope especially where it says: “What part of ‘visiting the typhoon victims’ do you not understand?” But, even with these my doubts, I still used it to beat my deadline for the day.

My apologies too to Mayor Remedios Petilla and the residents of Palo.

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hvp 10.14.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Disposing of Canada’s Basura

Malaya 10.14.14

 

Under the Basel convention, the “exporting country must take back the waste materials if the receiving country refuses to accept them.” Environmental groups have since urged that the container vans simply be shipped back to Canada as per the international treaty.”

 


 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Why is a firm in Vlenzuela, Bulacan importing garbage?

This was the call of environmental and health groups, as they decried government for allowing the unlawful disposal of toxic waste from Canada in the Philippines, instead of shipping it back to the source in accordance with international laws.

Groups led by Greenpeace, Ecowaste Coalition, Ban Toxics and the Ang Nars partylist held a press conference at the Quezon City Memorial Circle (QCMC), exposing what they said were government’s approval to simply dump in a Tarlac landfill the shipment of garbage from Canada intercepted by the Bureau of Customs in 2014.

Late in 2013, 50 forty-foot container vans from Ontario-based Chronic Inc. started arriving at the Manila International Container Port for consignee Chronic Plastics based in Valenzuela city. The contents of the container vans were declared as “scrap plastic materials for recycling.”

The Bureau of Customs decided to open the container vans in January, which was when the putrid discovery was made.

Thw Bureau of Customs (BOC) confiscated the container vans after discovering that they contained possibly hazardous wastes such as used plastic bags, used bottles, newspaper, household garbage, and even soiled adult diapers.

In February, the BoC filed a complaint in the Department of Justice against Chronic Plastics, saying the shipment violated the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste and Control Act of 1990, and the Basel Convention On The Control Of Transboundary Movements Of Hazardous Waste And Their Disposal, to which both the Philippines and Canada are signatories.

Under the Basel convention, the “exporting country must take back the waste materials if the receiving country refuses to accept them.” Environmental groups have since urged that the container vans be simply shipped back to Canada as per the international treaty.

But 459 days after the first shipment of wastes to the Philippines, most of the container vans and their waste contents remain in the the Bureau of Customs in Manila.

Ang Nars political affairs officer Anna Marie Kapunan said “garbage juice” was already leaking from the containers when the Department of Health-Bureau of Quarantine inspected them in March.
            “I filed for a Congressional Inquiry in aid of legislation regarding the unlawful importation of the 50 container vans filled with garbage. Clearly, this is a reflection of our dignity as a nation,” said Paquiz.

EcoWaste Coalition President and Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had proposed to have the waste disposed here.

During a press conference in April, Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation said that Canada was in violation of the Basel Convention, which states that waste, especially the hazardous kind, cannot be transported by countries outside of their borders.     

Both Canada and the Philippines are party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which was adopted in 1989. But neither one has yet ratified the Basel Ban Amendment which totally prohibits the transportation of hazardous wastes from industrialized countries to developing countries.    Allowing the shipment to be disposed of here would “set a wrong precedent for other countries to follow suit.”

“Ano ‘to, basurahan lang ba tayo? (Are we mere dumping grounds)?” Ban Toxics Executive Director Richard Gutierrez asks. If the Philippines does not take a stand, he said, Canada – along with other developed countries – would keep doing the same to other developing countries. The economic waste trade, says Gutierrez, occurs when one passes on the most difficult waste to manage by taking advantage of a country’s lax law enforcement, cheap labor, and the lack of awareness of the country or community regarding the waste it receives. As the exporter cuts costs, they send it to the poorest country who will take the waste at minimal cost. The rest, said Gutierrez, is subsidized by the health, environment, and community bearing the brunt of the waste.

“How can we segregate that waste? It’s an insult to the Filipino people for us to be saddled with managing that,” said Nina Galang of Green Convergence.

To solve this decades-long problem, said Gutierrez, countries must take action and communicate to their global neighbors that they should do the right thing. The most important step is ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which the Philippines should do now.

Last Aug. 30, to decongest the Manila ports, 16 of the vans were shipped to the Subic International Container Terminal Services, which immediately requested that the Manila port take them back as there were already “big holes in the vans leaking and emitting a foul odor,” according to Aguilar.

The advocacy groups said that in a meeting in August, the environment department, and the foreign affairs department, one of the recommended actions on the toxic wastes was to “permanently dispose of them in Philippine soil,” in particular, in a sanitary landfill in Tarlac province, Aguilar said.

Aguilar said this was discovered by the groups in September, when Ang Nars Rep. Leah Paquiz received word from the Environmental Management Bureau about the agreements in the interagency government meeting.

“I will not tolerate this matter sitting down. As a legislator, I filed for a congressional inquiry in aid of legislation the unlawful importation of the 50 container vans filled with garbage. Clearly, this [dumping of waste in our country] is a reflection of our dignity as a nation,” said Paquiz.

Von Hernandez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition and executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the planned move would set a “wrong precedent.”

“This government proposal sends a signal to unscrupulous and illegal waste traders to ship their unwanted junk to the Philippines. There can be no compromises here. This garbage shipment must be sent back to Canada, its country of origin. The Philippine government must do everything it can to prevent these incidents from happening ever again in the future,” Hernandez said.

“Why our government is even contemplating on accepting these illegal wastes when international law is behind us is exasperating,” noted lawyer Richard Gutierrez, executive director of BAN Toxics.

In April, the groups launched an online petition on change.org urging the Canadian embassy in the Philippines to facilitate the return of the garbage back to Canadian soil. As of press time, the petition has garnered 23,631 supporters.

* * *

I urge the reader to sign the petiton at change.org. Under petitions, look for “Take your trash back, Canada. The Philippines is not a dump.

* * *

                  The book “The Improbability Principle,” asks “if you can come up with an explanation for the following which, at face value. would seem so improbable  that we wouldn’t expect to see it; so improbable that we shpould regard it as impossible. The observation is described in U.S. News & World Report of December 19, 2011. It refers to the late Kim Jone-Il, former leader of Naorth Korea,and says, ‘In 1994, the very first time he played golf, Kim Jong Il dominated the 7,700-yard Pyongyang Golf Course.  He shot an unimaginable 38-under par, recording no worse that a birdie at the country’s only golf course. His round incjuded 11 holes-in-one, and the feat was verified by 17 bodyguards who were present.’”

            One explanaton could be that that there was no caddy, only bodyguards — and everyone knows that North Korean bodyguards can only count bodies!

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hvp 10.13.14

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Mahiya Naman Kayo!

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Kung sa ibang bansa pa nangyari ng mga nalalaman natin ngayon tungkol sa Pamiyang Binay at sa ating Bise Presidenteng Jejomar Binay, tiyak na ang mga nasangot ay magbibitiw na at lalayasan na ang pulitika.

Noong 1973, si Spiro Agnew, bise Presidenteng Amerika ay naimbistigahan ng  United States Attorney’s office for the District of Maryland, sa mga bintang  na extortion, tax fraud, bribery, at conspiracy. Ang bintang ay ang timanggap siya ng suhol na umabot lamang ng $100,000 bilang Baltimore County Executive, Governor ng Maryland, at Vice President. Pinayagan si Agnew  na nagbitiw sa pwesto at tanggapin na hindi niya sinali ang kinitang $29,500 noong 1967, kundisyon sa pagbitaw niya sa kaniyang pwesto bilang Bise Presidente ng USA.

Marami ring iba pang mga opisyal na nawalan ng pwesto sa iaba’t-ibang bansa dahil sa nalaman ng madla ang kanilang nagawang kabalustagan.

Dito lamang sa atin na kahit na ano pa ang lumilitaw na kababuyang gingawa ng mga namumuno sa atin, tuloy pa rin ang kanilang ginagawang pagnanakaw at kawalanghiyaan.

Sa India noong 1980, lumitaw ang “Bofors  Scandal” kung saan nasangkot ang Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi sa pagtanggap ng kickback mula sa pagbili ng mga armas mula sa Bofors ng Sweden. Hindi na ulit nanalo ang mga Gandhi, isa itong pamilyang matagal nang namuno sa India.

Dito lamang sa atin, dahil sa ang mga pulitiko natin ay walang respeto sa mga ating mga mamamayan na bumoboto sa kanila, kahit na ano pang baho na nila’y, ang mga pulitiko’y naniniwala na kaya pa rin nilang tuluyang linlangin ang mga botante, kasama na rin ang pagbili ng ating mga boto at ng eleksiyon.

Tungkol sa iskandlong Binay, tuloy-tuloy ang mga pagsisinungaling ng ating Bise Presidente sa kaniyang mga pahayag na kung sino-sino ang mga nagmamay-ari kuno ng kanilang mga pag-aaring lupain kahit na nalalaman naman ng lahat na kaniya lamang mga tauhan rin ang kasniyang hinaharap sa atin na mga nagmamay-ari raw ng mga lupaing sinasabi ng mga taga-Makati mismo na kaniya. Halata rin naman na ang kaniyang sinasabing mga may-ari ay kaniya ring mga tauhan.

Sana’y mahanap na ng NBI ang mga nagtatagong mga tauhan ni Binay na si Gerry Limlingan upang malaman na natin kung ano ang kanilang mabubunyag kung hindi sila magsisinungaling.

Sayang ang Makati na maaari sanang naging kagaya ng Taguig kung saan ang kanilang pinagyayabang ay ang sa kanilang Lungsod ay ang “Bawal ang Kurakot!”

Sa kay tagal na nating bansa na hanggang ngayon ay marami pa ring mga kurakot na namumuno sa ilang lalawgan at munisipyo. Ang dapat nating mga ihalal sa mga susunod na halalan ay ang mga naniniwalang ang mga kurakot ay walang karapatang manalo. Kailan kaya ito mangyayari o ito ba’y imposibleng mangyari sa bansa nating nangununa sa mga kurakot na pulitiko?

Baket hindi sundin ng pamahlaan ang sinasabi ni Senador Miriam na dapat nang maimpeach ang Bise Presidenteng Jejomar Binay. Sa ganoong paraan, malalaman rin natin kung ilan ba sa ating mga senador at kongresista ay handang kalimutan ang puitika at sumunod sa tuwid na daan na dapat na tinutunguhan ng bansang ito kailan man.

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hvp (10.13.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

The Dumb EVBO Idea Will Not Work

Malaya 10.13.14

 

“Why don’t you just do a deal with Manny, hindi na kayo gagastos dito.’ In this year’s budget, they are asking P53 billion just to buy out the bonds. Sabi ko bonds will not give you control of MRTC, it’s just a bond,” said Osmeña.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Our government — specifically, our Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) executives, have been caught repeatedly lying through their teeth in a bid to blame everyone—from the private partner MRT Corp. (MRTC) to even the commuters themselves—for the EDSA rail fiasco.

Still, the consensus reached in the recent Senate hearings was that the lasting solution to the MRT3 woes is for the private sector to fully operate our metro rail system — that the DOTC’s P54-billion Equity Value Buyout (EVBO) would only result in the government’s costly purchase of the MRTC bonds owned by two state-run banks (without the acquisition of even just one train or coach).

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III even wants the DOTC to accept what he called the “perfect offer” of the Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC), an MRTC stakeholder, to take over MRT3.

Secretary Joseph Abaya and his underlings at the DOTC, Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and MRT have been brazen enough to obfuscate the facts in a perverse attempt to sucker senators and congresspersons into thinking that MRTC and the MRTC-picked original operation and maintenance (O&M) contractor Sumitomo are to blame for putting the MRT3 into such a despicable state that nothing bu an immediate 100% government takeover could save our Metro Rail system!

In fact, Abaya and his factotums like Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla have had no qualms about throwing red herrings—such as baring plans to sue MRTC for an illusory breach of contract or unduly accusing Sumitomo of cannibalizing train parts prior to its unceremonious replacement by temporary O&M contractors Philippine Trams Rail Management & Services Inc. (PH Trams) and, later, Autre Porte Technique Global Inc. (APT-Global)—just to take Senate and House probers off the scent of DOTC-style corruption and mismanagement that have put over a half-million MRT3 passengers in harm’s way on a daily basis.

* * *

Fortunately for commuters and the rest of the public, the Abaya gang failed to pull the wool over our legislators’ eyes, and far from being sidetracked from the DOTC’s “sins” or serial breaches of its 1999 Build Lease Transfer (BLT) accord with MRTC, these probing solons have managed to uncover the following:

DOTC ignored all five proposals by its private partner to buy additional light rail vehicles (LRVs) at no cost to the government—the first four by MRTC from 2000 to 2007, and the fifth one by the Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) in 2011 after it bought into this rail system via a cooperation agreement with the Fil-Estate Group that controls MRT Holdings Corp. (MRTH), which owns MRTC.

So how did Lotilla muster the nerve to tell senators in September that the DOTC was planning to sue MRTC for breach of the BLT contract, when these five capacity expansion proposals alone illustrate that MRTC was never remiss in its obligations and had in fact repeatedly proposed to improve the EDSA rail system by buying more trains at no cost to the government?

* * *

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said after the hearing that the best available solution at the moment was for the DOTC to forget its takeover plan and instead accept the 2011 proposal of MPIC, which Sobrepeña mentioned in the Oct. 2 subcommittee hearing.

 “You want to speed it up? I’d rather do a deal with Manny Pangilinan. I asked them to, I told them, ‘Why don’t you just do a deal with Manny, hindi na kayo gagastos dito.’ In this year’s budget, they are asking P53 billion just to buy out the bonds. Sabi ko bonds will not give you control of MRTC, it’s just a bond,” said Osmeña.

 “The only way to get out of management without going to court is to negotiate the Manny Pangilinan offer,” said Osmeña. “I think it’s a good offer. Manny Pangilinan is a professional manager and business entrepreneur. It’s a perfectly good offer.”

As recalled by Sobrepeña, MPIC offered to take over MRT3 in 2011 when it bought into the MRTC that year via a cooperation deal with Sobrepeña’s Fil-Estate Group. MVP offered to take over MRT3 in exchange for procuring $300 million-worth of additional trains and buying another $350 million equity in MRTC.

Osmeña’s support for the MPIC proposal makes sense, given the sterling record of MVP and his group of companies in making profit centers out of private and public facilities such as Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Maynilad Water Services Inc. (Maynilad), Philippine Long Distance Co. (PLDT), Smart Communicatons Inc. (Smart), Philex Mining Corp. (Philex) and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC).  

Letting MPIC run MRT3 will be like throwing fish in water, given its current partnership  with the Ayala Corp. on the DOTC-awarded P1.088-billion Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS) for MRT3 and the P65-billion extension of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT1) to Cavite.

Osmena’s push for MPIC’s “perfect offer” for an MRT3 takeover behooves the DOTC to sit down with the MPIC/MRTC/MRTH group for a genuine dialogue on a mutually acceptable plan to solve the MRT woes at the soonest—and for good.

Such a dialogue for a win-win solution for all stakeholders—the riding public, MRT3’s private owners and Government—is necessary as the time calls for concrete actions to stop the daily hellish conditions for over a half-million Metro Manila train riders.

There is a always a solution if the parties are willing to sit down and dialogue, in lieu of the current standoff brought about by the DOTC’s repeated breach of its 1999 Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) accord with MRTC and Secretary Abaya’s arrogant refusal to even talk to the system’s private owners.

* * *

The DOTC took over MRT3’s maintenance when it dumped Sumitomo Corp. on short notice in 2012. This led to the endless string of accidents and glitches ever since interim O&M contracts were awarded—without public bidding—to PH Trams and Comm Builders & Technology Inc. (CB&T) and APT Global and Global Inc.

DOTC executives shamelessly lied in justifying the summary termination of long-time maintenance service provider Sumitomo Corp. in 2012 on grounds that the Japanese firm had refused to offer any financial warranty to continue operating MRT3 and even demanded an O&M fee to run the rail system that was much higher than those eventually awarded in succession to the PH Trams-CB&T and APT Global consortiums

The truth as explained by MRTH’s Sobrepeña during the Oct. 2 hearing wasthat Sumitomo Corp.’s O&M contract was anchored on the “single point of responsibility” principle, which meant it was committed to run a specific number of LRVs at peak hours—in its case, 20 trains plus 40 more coaches or 60 LRVs in all—and would  cover all financial and technical requirements to make that happen on its watch.

 “The loss of the single point of responsibility is the single most important loss we have had in the system,” Sobprepeñ said. “This loss has now led to current state of finger-pointing as to who is at fault for the sorry state of the MRT-3 system.”

In contrast, the subsequent contract fees charged by the PH Tram and APT Global groups might have appeared cheaper than the one asked by Sumitomo in 2012 because the DOTC cunningly (stupidly) split the O&M caboodle into “chop-chop” contracts minus any financial guarantee or warranty as claimed by Abaya before the subcommittee.

 That Abaya was again lying was confirmed during the hearing by APT Global executive Vic Espiritu who said his firm’s contract did not have a warranty clause as their O&M deal did not require them to financially guarantee their work. This was because, he said, their contract  only covered the labor component as the DOTC was in charge of supplying the spare parts.

Worse, Espiritu even blamed DOTC, as the MRT3 operator, for the MRT3 glitches. (Such accidents and hitches have totaled 17 since July alone, including the Aug. 13 overshooting of a defective train at theTaft Station that injured 38 passengers—and which Abaya had conveniently blamed on the driver as a “human error.”)

* * *

MRT3’s condition took a turn for the worse in the first half of the Aquino presidency, when Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II was still DOTC boss and existing rail system-related contractors were junked in favor of Johnny-come-latelys, most of them connected to the now ruling LP and its 2010 electoral campaign.

These erstwhile LP and/or Roxas operatives, among them ousted MRT general manager Al Vitangcol III and Marlo dela Cruz of PH Trams and APT Global, have figured not only in the $30-million MRT3 shakedown expose but also in the highly irregular award of interim O&M contracts to PH Trams-CB&T and APT Global.

As alleged by Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, interim president of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party, Roxas used the MRT system as a “milking cow” of the LP during his stint as DOTC secretary.

 “The problems of MRT-3 are rooted in the corruption scandal involving members of the ruling Liberal Party who Secretary Roxas is protecting,” said Tiangco.

* * *

The P54-billion re-nationalization plan cooked up by Abaya and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima—called the Equity Value Buyout (EVBO)—is a sham privatization that is but a creative accounting trick, as it will only covers the combined 80% economic rights held by the state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

* * *

As senators noted during last week’s succesive hearings by the chamber’s finance committee chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero and its public services subcommittee on public transport chaired by Sen. Grace Poe,  there is nothing in it for MRTC and the rest of the private stockholders as the entire EVBO money is intended for DBP and LBP alone.

* * *

Sobrepeña explained told to the senators: that (1) another $200 million to $300 million (or between P8.9 billion and P13.45 billion at the current forex rate of $1=P44.83) is needed to pay for the shares of the private stakeholders, and (2) nobody has been talking to them about the EVBO.

Sobrepeña’s revelations prompted senators to ask why the DOTC has been talking only to MRTC chairman Tomas de Leon, who chairs the firm’s Board in his capacity as LBP director.

In the height of arrogance (0r ignorance), Abaya shot back that the DOTC had no obligation to reach out to the firm’s private sector representatives. What a dumb tning to say! If you want to buy them out, you have to start by talking to them! If you can’t even talk with the owners, how the heck do you make a deal?

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hvp 10.12.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Huwag Ibigay ang MRT sa DOTC

Diretsahan

 


 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Malamang na lalo pang ma-bad trip ang mga pasahero ng MRT-3 kapag matuloy ang plano na sang   Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) ang magpapalakad nito sa susunod na taon.

Ayon kay  DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya:“If an average passenger will take an average trip, it will be a five peso increase.”

Sa press briefing n, sinabi ni Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda na wala pang impormasyon na nakarating sa Palasyo ng Malacañang ukol sa planong ito. Gayunpaman, mistulang sinuportahan ng Palasyo ang planong ito ng DOTC.

Nanganganib na tuluyan nang madiskaril ang biyahe ng mga tren sa Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 kapag maubos ang reserbang riles kapag muling nagkaaberya sanhi ng mga putol na riles.

Ito ang naging pahayag ni Renato San Jose, officer in charge ng MRT-3, dahil sa kanilang huling imbentaryo sa MRT depot ay may tatlong ­piraso na lamang ng reserbang riles.

Sinabi ni San Jose na sa loob ng isang linggo, da­lawang beses na naantala ang operasyon ng MRT dahil sa mga nasisirang riles kaya posible aniyang maulit ang pagkakasira nito lalo’t sadyang luma na ang mga ito.       

“Labing limang taon na itong mga riles na dinadaanan ng mga tren sa MRT kaya’t sa kalumaan at sa tagal na ay nagkakabiyak at napuputol na ang mga riles,” ani San Jose.

Sumusuka ang gobyerno ng P53 milyon kada buwan sa pagmantine ng MRT-3 system at sa mahabang panahon ay pinahintulutan ang mga opisyal ng Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) na tanggapin ang kanilang paboritong supplier.

Ayon naman kay United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president at Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, ang MRT-3 railway system ay na­ging paboritong gatasan ng administrasyon hanggang sa dumating ang punto na nakokompromiso na ang kaligtasan ng mga pasahero. 

Ang guato pa ng DOTC na ibigay na sa kanila ang MRT-3 na sa ngayon ay pag-aari pa rin ng mga pribadong imbestor sa MRT Corporation (MRTC). Baka lalo lamang sumama o matigil na ang operasyon nito kapag pabayaang DOTC na ang magpapalakad ng MRT. Kailan ba naman merong bumuti ang pamamalakad kapag ang pribado ay binigay sa isang ahensiya ng gobiyerno?

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10.10.14 hvp

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