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Tungkol sa Pulitika sa Taong 2016

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

 

Kung sakaling totoo ang mga balitang lilisanin na ni Vice President Jejomar Binay ang PDP-Laban kung saan ito ay tumatayong chairman sa kasalukuyan para bumuo ng bagong partido bilang paghahanda sa 2016 presidential elections, tatanggapin umano ito nang maluwag sa kalooban ng mga maiiwan sa partido.

Ayon sa presidente ng naturang partido na si Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, kung totoong lilisanin na sila ni Binay ay magpapatuloy pa rin ang mga krusadang nakagawin na ng mga bumubuo sa PDP-Laban.

 “Kung totoo man ito, tuloy pa rin ang existence ng PDP-Laban at tuloy ang pagpapalakas ng partido,” pahayag ni Pimentel.

 “Idolohiya naman kasi ang batayan namin sa partido at hindi personalidad. Ang paglisan o paglipat sa ibang partido ay freedom of association ‘yan,” mababang tinig na banggit pa ni Pimentel.

Ang aasahan ni Binay ay sasanib ang partido ng Alkaldeng si Joseph Estrada ng Maynila na tumakbo sa pagka-Pangulo noong 2010 habang si Binay naman ay tumakbo sa pagka Bise. Tinalo ni Aquino si Erap at si Binay naman ay nagwagi kontra kay Mar Roxas.

Ang maaaring tumakbo laban kay Binay at si Mar Roxas ulit na ngayon ay Kalihim ng Interior and Local Government o DILG. Nagkaroon na rin ng pahayag si Mar na hindi na siya tatakbo bilang Pangulo sa 2016 ngunit inaasahan ng mrami na maglalaban pa ring muli ang dalawang  nagkalaban noong 2020 sa pagiging pangalawang pangulo.

Ang magiging kalaban ng bagong partido ni Binay ay ang magkasamang tumakbo noong 2013 na ang Liberal at Nacionalista na kinuha ang siyam sa labindalawang pwesto sa pagka-Senador noong 2013. Ngunit, maaari ring tumakbo muli si Villar sa 2016 kasama ang isa sa mga batang pulitiko kagaya ni Senador Alan Peter Cayetano at baka rin si Senador Bongbong Marcos na dapat na tumakbo muli sa pagka-Senador kung hindi sa pagiging Bise o Presidente.

Meron kayang maghahangas na sampahan si Binay ng sumbong tungkol sa korapsyon gaya ng kasong hinaharap ng kaniyang Misis na si Dr. Elenita Binay. Siyempre merong duda kay Binay dahil kaya lamang naman siya yumaman ay noong siya ay naging Alkalde ng Makati.

Noong Human Rights lawyer pa si Binay ay wala naman siyang malaking salapi at kayamanan kaya maaaring pagdudahan kung saan nanggaling ang yaman ni Binay. Ang tanong ay kung nagbago na ba ang pag-iisip ng botante na hindi na sila boboto sa isang taong maaari nilang pagdudahan kung malinis ba ito o marumi.

Meron na bang pagbabago ang botanteng Pillipino or sila ba’y nasisindak pa rin sa kwarta kung saan  man ito nanggaling. Magiging isyu kaya sa 2016 ang kalinisan ng ating mga pulitiko o kaya pa rin ba silang linlangin ng mga pulitikong mayayaman at masisindak pa rin ba sila sa kwarta ng mga ito saan man ito nanggaling?

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hvp (03.03.14)

 

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 ADB Gagamit ng ‘Renewable Energy’

Diretsahan

 

 ni Horacio Paredes

 

 

            Ang Asian Development Bank (ADB) ay titigilan na  ang pag-gamit ng koriyente na manggagaling sa MERALCO (Manila Electric Co.). Imbes ang buong compound ng ADB ay gagamit ng “renewable energy.”

            Ayon sa ADB ang kanilang headquarters sa bansa ay kukunin ang lahat na kanilang pangangailangan sa enerhiya sa ADB mula sa  AdventEnergy Inc., isang  “licensed retail electricity supplier”  ng Aboitiz Power. Ang  bangko  ay gagamit ng 100 % na renewable energy mula  sa mga geothermal plants sa Tiwi , Albay  at Makiling-Banahaw sa lalawigan ng Laguna at mula sa kanilang mga solar panel na nasa bubung ng kanilang gusali,  na kanilang inilagay noong 2013 pa.

            Sa kanilang “full renewable energy utilization” hindi na manggagaling sa MERALCO ang kanilang gagamiting koriyente.

            Nagawa ito ng ADB sa pamamagitan ng  Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) kung saan ang mga nangangailangan ng dambuhalang enerhiya ay nakakapili kung saan manggagaaling ang kanilang koriyente.

            Ayon kay ADB Vice President Bruce Davis: “As an institution we are strongly committed to expanding the use of renewable energy across Asia and the Pacific, so it is only fitting that we walk the talk in our own headquarters.

            “This agreement will allow us to cut our annual corporate carbon footprint by nearly 50 percent, with an emission reduction of more than 9,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

            Sa  supply contract ng ADB at  AdventEnergy ang gagamiting energhiya ng  ADB ay mas o menos na 1.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) na enerhiya  kada buwan. Mula naman sa mga solar panel sa bubong ng kanilang gusali ay 50,000 kWh naman kada buwan ang madadagdag.

            Baka dapat na gumaya ang ating gobkiyerno sa ginawang ito ng ADB, kaya lamang ang  ating nadidinig sa ating mg opisyal ay ang tanong na papano raw kapag gabi na o kaya’y mawala ang  hangin, saan na manggagaling ang ating enerhiya? Sa totoo lamang, kapag gabi ang enerhiya galing sa solar ay iniipon sa mga bateriya at nagagamit rin sa gabi. Ganoon rin ang enerhiya galing sa hangin na iniipon sa bateriya at pinawawalaan kung tumigil ang hangin.

            Ang solar ay dapat sanang nilalagay sa bubong mg mga presinto ng pulis upang di na napakalaki ng binabayad sa Meralco; ganoon rin sana sa mga bubong ng mga gusaling pag-aari ng gobiyerno.

            Ayon sa ADB, ang kanlang solar panel sa bubong at ang kanilang kinontratang enerhiya mula sa Bicol at Laguna ay sapat na upang mabigyan ng enerhiya ang buong ADB Headquarters kung saan nagtatrabaho ang kanilang 2,600 na mga empleyado’t mga consultant bawa’t araw.

            Pinili nila ang AdventEnergy ng Aboitiz dahil ito pa lamang kumpaniya ang malaki sa kanilang enerhiya ay galing sa “renewable sources.”

            Sana nga’y gumaya tayo sa ibang mga bansa kung saan ang mga gumagamit ng windmill at solar panel ay binibigyan ng tulong ng pamahalaan at binibili naman ng kanilang MERALCO ang sobra nilang enerhiyang kanilang pinadadala sa distribution company gaya ng MERALCO.

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hvp 02.28.14)

 

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.

People Surge vs. PNoy

Malaya (02.28.14)

 

 ”‘Continuing our rehabilitation efforts is our number one priority. We are devoting our resources to guarantee not the mere subsistence of the survivors, but their genuine recovery,’ Aquino says.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

The members of People Surge , that group that wants P40,000  given to all survivors of Yolanda, are apparently middle-class, not part of the poor. Otherwise, they would not think that they are important enough to force the President out of Malacanang to meet with them. The real poor amongst us are not quite as demanding. Thus, the President is right to say: “To those who are saying that we have been slow in responding… it seems to me that if they are capable of attending to their trip to Manila, perhaps they can also attend to their livelihood.”

 Added the President: “Let us not forget: 1.4 million families were affected; 918,000 will need housing assistance.

“If we have 1.4 million affected families at P40,000 each, that would amount to P56 billion. In our 2014 budget, we have about P600 billion that we can use for expenses outside of the personnel services and the maintenance and other operating expenses. That P54 billion is already 10 percent of P600 billion.

“More importantly, will the P40,000 be a long-term solution? I cannot see that. But we will read their petition once it reaches my table,” the President added.

People Surge are also critical of the government’s policy of establishing a no-build zone near the coastline, to keep people away from danger zones during storms.

Aquino did not meet with the Yolanda survivors who went to the Palace, but he later assured that the government would expedite its rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in calamity-hit areas.

 “Continuing our rehabilitation efforts is our number one priority. We are devoting our resources to guarantee not the mere subsistence of the survivors, but their genuine recovery,” Aquino says.

 “We will complete the rehabilitation and improvement of the affected communities sooner rather than later; and all of you will see those areas brimming with more opportunity than ever before.”

Sister Edita Esloper, chairperson of People Surge, questioned the plans announced by presidential assistant on rehabilitation and recovery, Panfilo Lacson. She thimks that Lacson is in his post only to improve his chances in the 2016 Presidential elections.

 “There is reason to be skeptical that the Aquino government will be wheeling and dealing, with the 2016 elections just around the corner and the funds for reconstruction vulnerable to disappearing to political pickpockets,” says  Eslopor..

 “The Lacson-led reconstruction program is anti-people and pro-big business in diminishing what is needed by the people and hyping what is favorable to the private sector, which is given a bigger role than the government,” she says. What a perverted view of the weld coming from a nun!

Actually, Lacson started with private business foundations doing the work. because they were already working in the areas affected by Yolanda.  Besides, the local government units (LGU)  did not seem to have the wherewithal, the plans  and the interest in doing anything at all. Thus, his decision to use private  foundations who were already working in the area to start  the work. of rehabilitation

The President and the government ought to read up on what happened in New Orleans immediately after ‘Katrina’ hit in 2005 for solace in the face of criticisms in whatever the government does. The same kind of troubles  surfaced in the U.S. during the Bush years.

* * *

Looking over the demands of People Surge, one finds that they are more interested in condemning the government, specially the President, than in actually accomplishing anything positive for the storm’s victims.

 Says Efledia Bautista, executive vice president of People Surge: “We have warned the President before that if he will not act to save the people, the people will no longer support him.

 “He is more calamitous than typhoons Pablo, Ondoy and Yolanda as well as the Bohol earthquake.

 “We will remind him on what happens to a leader no matter powerful when he is too detached from the people.  We believe now the Filipino people have suffered long enough and it is time to save ourselves from the disastrous President Aquino.

 “For the information of Noynoy Aquino, the demands for P40,000 cash assistance, livelihood, housing, and social services are what the government should have given right after Yolanda. The typhoon destroyed people’s lives, houses and livelihood, destroyed the two most important cash crops in the region, abaca and coconut, as well as other staple crops. Yet such basic government responsibilities based on the people’s real needs never materialized up to now. The people have absolutely nothing and all the President is giving them is hot air. “

People Surge has also asked the government to recall its no-build zone policy near the coastline, a request that rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson has ruled out.

That demand for recalling the no-build zone in the are most affected by storm surges does not seem to fit in with the posture of the People Surgers that they want what is best for Tacloban. Do they want what happened during Yolanda to again happen again and again to their city, again taking so many lives of those unprepared for the sea coming up on land and washing houses and people out to sea? Don’t they yet see any dangers coming from living too near the sea in a world where the sea has turned deadly?

* * *

Homobono Adaza, a human rights lawyer and a young politico before he ended up as a political prisoner and an outspoken critic during the Marcos regime, notes that  corruption still exists in a massive level adding that the dreams of the people who fought for change were insulted.

 “28 years after, a lot of people are regretting,” Adaza said.

Adaza, among the early ones who fought the dictatorship, says that the  life of the poor and the middle class has not changed — unemployment and lack of education still haunt the country.

Adaza points out  out that the oligarchs are back in full strength and lamented that only few key players of the people power revolt were remembered and others were forgotten and ignored.

 “Those who created the waves are forgotten but those who rode the waves are the ones visible,” he said.

He mentioned that the Edsa revolt would not have happened were it not for the people who created the situation.

Daza, however, still has high hopes for the Philippines.

 “One day before I reach the sunset, maybe there will be a new dawn in this country and with a new dawn there will be a new day,” he says.

I have to agree with him today as I often did in the old days when other politicians suspected that he could have been secretly working for the dictator. He was just totally committed against the dictatorship and his fervor for change was immutable. Thus, others suspected that he was faking it. Now, others have grown rich from their government posts and Bono is still looking for a new dawn. We need a pure second EDSA to finally set things right!

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hvp 02.27.14

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.

Si Senador Bong Naghahanap ng Sisisihin

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

           

            Baket ba galit na galit si Senador Bong Revilla kay Kalihim Mar Roxas? Dahil kaya kay Dennis Cunanan, dating namumuno sa Technology Resource Center (TRC),  na ngayon aygustong mailagay sa Witness Protection Program (WPP) at magiging saksi laban lalo na kay Sebador Bong?

   Ganito ang paratang ng Senado sa Kslihim: “Sa dami ng atraso niya, dapat mag-resign na siya.  Huwag na niya akong gamitin para bumangon sa lugmok niyang kalagayan.”  Papaano naman kung hamunin rrin ang  Senador na magbitiw dahil kahiya-hiya siya sa mga bjmoto sa kaniya bilangSenador

   Sa totoo lamang, tinanggi ni Kalihim Mar na siya ang merong pakana kay Cunanan: “I pity my friend, Senator Revilla, because it appears that he doesn’t know how to face the evidence provided by Benhur Luy and COA (Commission on Audit). I’m not his enemy.”

    Sagot naman ng Senador: “Ako nga naaawa sa kanya. Saksi hindi lang ang buong bansa, kundi ang buong mundo, sa kanyang mga kapalpakan.  Hanggang ngayon, damang-dama pa rin ng mga Pilipino ang bunga ng kanyang mga pagkukulang. Kaya nga gumagawa siya ng paraan na ibaling ang atensyon ng mamamayan para makalimutan ang kanyang mga kakulangan Kung mapapansin ninyo, ang mga hinawakan at hinahawakan na trabaho at departamento ni Sec. Mar Roxas ay ang mga nagkaroon ng malalaking problema.”

   Tungkol sa Tacloban  inasikaso ni Mar pagkatapos ng hagupit ni Yolanda: “Kaya nga hindi na siya masikmura ng mga tao doon,” pahabol pa ng Senador.

   Ayon kay Revilla, namumuno ang kriminalidad sa buong Pilipinas. “Sobrang tatapang at wala ng takot ang mga kriminal.  In fact, kanina lang kung kailan sikat na sikat ang araw, isang jewelry shop, sa loob ng isang mall na sinasabing pag-aari ng kaniyang pamilya mismo, sa loob ng Araneta Center, ay nilooban ng mga armadong kalalakihan.”

 “Hindi ba’t malinaw na sampal yan sa kanyang mukha bilang kalihim ng DILG?” Tanong ng Senador.

Para naman sa akin, ‘di ba’t noong una’y amg binibintang ng Senador tungkol sa pagtetig ni Cunanan ay ang Palasyo. Alalahamim na naririto pa tayo sa mga imbestigasyon ng Senado na ginagawa lamang “in id of legislation” at hindi pa ito ang gagawang pasuri ng Ombudsman upang alamin kung ano nga ba ang gagawain sa mga nagnakaw ng kanila mismong mga  PDAF. Hindi pa nga nagsisimula ang kasong maaaring magpakulong sa kanila, todo banat nasi Bong. Baka kapag umabot na itong kasong ito sa korte ay naubos na ang galet ng mga Senador na iyan at magiging tameme na lang sila.

Napaka-aga ng pasgbitiw nila ng mga kung anu-ano. sa halip na wala pa ngang nangyayaring maari silang makulong.

* * *

Nagpaliwanag ang Department of Health (DOH)  na kahit na makapasok ang pribadong mga investor sa Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), tuloy pa rin ang pag-silbi ng ospital sa mga mahiirap.

Ayon kay Health Secretary Enrique Ona ang mga  indigent patient ng Ospital ay hindi  maiisan-tabi dahil sa 70% ng mga kama sa 700 na kama ng ospital (400) ay ilalaan para sa mga pasyente ng Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

“This one is very clear-cut. Of the 700 beds, 70 percent or more than 400 shall be allocated for the [PhilHealth] sponsored programs,” ang paliwanag ni Dr. Ona.

Pinaliwanag rn ni Dr. Ona na ang mga pasyente ng PhilHealth ay mwalng babayarn — ni isang kusing!

“Under the program, it is ‘no balance billing’ for all its members [so] that means everything will be taken care of by PhilHealth and patients will not be billed beyond what PhilHealth is required to pay by law,”ayon kay Dr. Ona..

Ang  P5.6-billyong modernization program for theng POC, ang kauna-unang ospital na mapapaskamay ng pribadong kumpaniya sa ialaling ng public-private partnership scheme sa ialim ng pamamahala ni Psngulong Noynoy Aquino ay mapupunta sa Megawide Construction Corp. at World Citi Consortium.

A multisectoral group earlier this month filed a petition in the Supreme Court, asking it to stop the government from pushing through with the project.

Ngunit, ayon kay Dr.  Ona ang POC, ang lkaisa-isang ospital na ginagamot ang buto o mga “orthopedic” ay mananatiling para sa lahat.

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hvp 02.26.14)

 

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.

Tough Life at the PMA

“Let us keep the values of courage, integrity and loyalty intact, and let it be a beacon that would guide us daily in our thoughts and deeds.’ This was the message of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of of 2013’s topnotcher, Cadet 1st Class Jestony Lanaja.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

It is very difficult for civilians to understand the Honor Code of the Philippine Military Academy.  We civilians are allowed to tell “white lies” throughout our lives. In fact, parents even sometimes consider this “cute” and proof that we will do well in the real world. What led to Cadet Jeff Cudia’s being dismissed from  the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) began on Nov 14, 2013. He was under two minutes late for his 3 pm English class (ENG 412) on that day because he explained that he  was “dismissed a little bit late” in a previous class.

Cudia’s appeal that he submitted to the Honor committee after it declared him guilty was that when the bell first rang at 2:55 pm, signaling the class dismissal, Cudia stood up to submit his paper to instructor Maria Monica Costales.

Cudia then asked Costales about his deductions in a previous exam. After the chat, Costales instructed Cudia and some cadets to wait so she could give them their section’s grades for the earlier exam.

Two bells rang, signaling that it was already 3 pm, but they were still in the hallway waiting for Costales. There were five of them who waited for the instructor and all of them were late for the next class.

Tardiness is a serious offense in a military school. Cadets are always required to explain when they’re late. If the explanation shows that it was not the cadet’s fault, the punishment may be waived.

Cudia wrote in his explanation: “Our class was dismissed a little bit late and I came directly from 4th period class….”

A month later, on December 19, Cudia learned that he was given 11 demerits and 13 hours of touring (marching) as a punishment for his tardiness. He approached Major Dennis Hindang of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), his tactical officer, to appeal the decision.

The tactical officer is like a father to the cadets. He is tasked to monitor the daily activities of cadets under him. He gives them grades for Conduct, which is part of the regular computation of a cadet’s grades.

“Not because I don’t want to serve punishment, but because I know I did nothing wrong, I obeyed instruction, and believing that my reason is justifiable and valid,” Cudia explained in his appeal.

But Hindang told Cudia that he talked to Costales himself. The class was dismissed on time. Cudia explained to Hindang what happened in Costales’ class. He was told to file his appeal in a written form.

Cudia wrote in his appeal: “I strongly believe that I am not in control of the circumstances, our 4th period class ended 1500H and our 5th period class, which is ENG412, started 1500H also. Immediately after 4th period class, I went to my next class without any intention of being late Sir.”

This is where the problem began for Cudia. A month later, on Jan 7, 2014, his tactical officer filed an honor report against him.

“Lying that is giving statement that perverts the truth in his written appeal, stating that his 4th period class ended at 1500H that made him late in the succeeding class,” Hindang wrote.

Graduation was two months away. Cudia expected to be  the salutatorian of PMA “Siklab Diwa” Class 2014. He was also the top of the Navy class. A promising military career was waiting for him.

The PMA Honor Code states that a cadet should “not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those among them who do so.” It’s a culture that binds alumni together and they are very protective of the code.

The Honor Committee, composed of cadets, investigated his case. The PMA has refused to divulge details of the case but maintained the powerful committee followed due process.

In February, a month before graduation, Cudia was declared guilty of honor violation. He was expected to “resign honorably” and leave quietly like other cadets who were found guilty of violating the code.

But he didn’t. He sought an appeal of the decision and presented a letter from Costales herself saying Cudia’s excuse was “reasonable.”

Costales wrote: “I agree and consider that because Cadet Cudia is under my instruction to wait, and the other cadets still have business with me, it is reasonable enough for him to say that “Our class was dismissed a bit late” (dealing with matter of seconds or a minute particularly 45 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds).”

Costales added: “And with concern to OR432 class, I can say it ended on time (1500H).”

Cudia decided to remain inside the camp to fight his dismissal.

On February 21, the Honor Committee ordered cadets to ostracize him because of various violations including exposing the academy’s supposedly confidential processes and smearing the name of the academy.

Did Cudia intend to deceive?

There are two questions cadets accused of violating the code are asked: Do you have the intention to deceive? Do you have the intention to take undue advantage?

“I appeal, in the name of clarity, fairness and truth that my case be reopened and carefully reviewed for I did not violate the honor code/system, I can answer NO to both questions,” said Cudia in his appeal.

Cudia’s sister Annavee expressed the family’s anger in a Facebook post: “Nang tinanong si Aldrin bakit siya nahuli, sabi niya sila ay nahuli ng pag-dismiss ang propesor nila. Sabi ng Honor Committee ay kasinungalingan daw ‘yun at dapat daw ay sinabi niya “pinahintay kami ng propesor pagkatapos ng klase.” Hindi ba pareho lang naman yun?,” she asked.

She added: “Kung sinasabi nyo na nagsisinungaling ang kapatid ko, pati ba yung Propesor nila nagsabi na tama ang sabi ni Aldrin ay nagsisinungaling din?”

No. Hindi pareho iyon.

The honor code apparently defines the truth clearly  as “unvarnished.”

Putting the blame for something on others or on circumstances that one cannot control is not allowed. Apparently, others cadets were also late for that English Class by under two minutes and did not explain away their tardiness as someone else’s (the teacher Costales’) fault!

The PMA’s Code of Conduct is not something that can be applied to civilians. That is why we are civilians.

* * *

“Let us keep the values of courage, integrity and loyalty intact, and let it be a beacon that would guide us daily in our thoughts and deeds.”

This was the message of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of of 2013’s topnotcher, Cadet 1st Class Jestony Lanaja.

The 22-year-old Lanaja, from Davao del Sur, topped the 124 members of “Pudang Kalis” to become valedictorian.

Pudang Kalis stands for soldiers with heart and honor, unified in strength, and is derived from a Muslim term for “sacred sword.”

In his graduation speech, Lanaja noted:

“Let me just say there were more than enough to break us - body and spirit. Give up! Because we missed our families and the carefree lives we used to live. Resign! This was an option not a few times entertained by many of us. But no, we never gave up.”

In a touching moment, he spoke in his dialect to express his gratitude to his parents Antonio and Erlina, a tuba gatherer and a housewife, saying all he had achieved was because of them.

Lanaja grew up in a poor community without any electricity until he reached fourth grade. He is the eldest of 3 siblings — Angeline who has dropped out of school, and John Patrick, who is deaf mute.

The young cadet worked in a sugar cane plantation and a coconut farm to earn money for college. He was elected as a councilor in his barangay and studied in a trade school, before he entered the PMA.

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hvp 02.26.14

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.

‘Bold’ Billboards & Expensive Rice

The proposed bill delegates to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) the determine the major thoroughfares where the ban would apply and the monitoring of  compliance with the provisions of the proposed Act.

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

“Bold” billboards may soon be out.  The Department of Justice  endorsed a proposed law at the House of Representatives banning “obscene and distractive” pictures on billboards along major roads.
            Justice Secretary Leila de Lima agreed that  the creation of such a law is timely due to the growing number of billboards exhibiting “obscene” pictures which distract motorists and sometimes cause road accidents.
            “More importantly, it causes damaging effects on the morals and values of children and the public in general,” De Lima said in the legal opinion based on the letter of  Rep. Jorge Almonte, chairman of the House committee on public information.
            Almonte sought the justice department’s comments on House Bill 1407 entitled “An Act Prohibiting the Public Exhibition or Display of Obscene and/or Distractive Motion or Still Pictures Along Major Thoroughfares” introduced by Rep. Harlin Abayon.
            The justice secretary acknowledged that the effective way to stop the proliferation of obscene advertisement billboards along major thoroughfares is through the enactment of a law prohibiting and penalizing the public exhibition or display of obscene billboards and pictures.
            De Lima, however, recommended the definition of “obscene” in the case of People vs Kotinnger be included in the proposed bill.
            De Lima noted Supreme Court defined obscenity as something offensive to chastity, decency or delicacy.
            The Justice Secretary  added that the test to determine the existence of obscenity is, whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscene, is to deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences and into whose hands a publication or other articles charged as being obscene may fall.
             De Lima further noted that another test of what is obscene based on the Kottinger case is “that which shocks the ordinary common sense of men as an indecency.”
            “(T)he high court hastened to say that whether a picture is obscene or indecent must depend upon the circumstances of the case and, that ultimately, the question is to be decided by the judgment of the aggregate sense of the community reached by it,” De Lima notes.
            Under the proposed bill, obscene and/or distractive pictures were defined to mean as “pictures or images, still or moving, that go substantially beyond customary limit of candor and offend community standards or decency and lack seriously literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
            The proposed bill delegates to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to determine the major thoroughfares where the ban would apply and the monitoring of  compliance with the provisions of the proposed Act.
            De Lima said such “gargantuan” mandate should be shared with other agencies, such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of the Interior and Local Government and/or other local government units.
            “As to the task given to this Department to promulgate a procedure for the prosecution of violators and other necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act, together with DPWH, we welcome the same, and look forward to draft the implementing rules once the proposed bill is passed and enacted,” De Lima said.   

                                                                                       * * *

Despite warnings from economists, officials working with lawmakers are insisting the extension of rice import quotas.

Officials of the Department of Agriculture and National Food Authority as well as several senators who have recommended in ongoing hearings by the Senate committee on agriculture and food  an extension of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade -World Trade Organization  special treatment of rice or quantitative restrictions (QRs) which expired in June 2012.

The recommendations are in stark contrast to the positions of several top economists from the University of the Philippines (UP), all of whom have called for the abolition of import quotas, citing the increasing costs of rice in the market.

Dr. Roehlano Briones of the UP School of Economics and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the top think-tank in Southeast Asia, said  “consumers will benefit from cheaper rice” with the removal of the QR and the levying of moderate tariffs.

“The country should not seek an extension for the QR in rice imports. Any licensed importer should be allowed to make its own commercial decisions, subject to payment of tariff and compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards,” said the economist whose views are echoed by National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Director General Arsenio Balisacan who also pushed the abolition of quantitative restrictions with some tariff protection.

The Philippine Statistics Authority-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (PSA-BAS) reported rice today sells from 13 percent to 14 percent higher than at the same period last year. Well-milled rice now retails for P40.06 per kilogram while a kilo of regular-milled rice, on the other hand, now retails for P36.75.

Agriculture officials led by Secretary Proceso Alcala have repeatedly argued for the extension of the QR, testifying in ongoing Senate hearings that this was needed to protect the country’s 2.5 million farmers. The Senate hearings, which have shifted its focus from spiraling rice prices to ongoing rice smuggling controversies, resume today.

However, economists have repeatedly pointed out that the protection of rice producers comes at the expense of consumers who are the “losers” under current rice importation policies. Former Neda Chief and Professor Emeritus Gerardo Sicat of the UP School of Economics said “the losers in this corrupted world are consumers” as those who benefit from government’s protectionist policies “are producers who can exclude market competition with government help” as well as rice smugglers who “make huge profits when high tariffs are in place.”

“The differences in import and domestic prices,” stressed Sicat, “make smuggling an attractive activity in spite of the risk of being caught.”

The respected economist lamented how protectionist policies like import quotas and QRs have denied Filipino consumers access to affordable rice and said rice importation should be perceived in a different light.

“The fact that low cost producers of rice in Southeast Asia can produce rice at a large advantage should be seen in another light: We can buy cheaper food for our people. The gains will be for the people, the consumers.”

According to UP School of Economics Dean Ramon Clarete, while the import controls exercised by the NFA are designed to protect local rice producers from competing rice exports, this means Filipino consumers have to pay 40% more for rice.

“If (we buy) imported rice,” Clarete explained, “we will pay 40 percent less. That is the effect of import restrictions.”

Sicat emphasized the need to “balance a wise import policy for rice” with “a domestic production program that helps our domestic farmers to produce rice.”

“Such a program includes higher investments in agricultural infrastructure, government price support and credit and technical extension. Under this framework, rice farmers of high quality rice and high productivity can find niche markets even for export,” he said.

Besides, imposing quotas on rice imports  is mow already in violation of  World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. By insisting on imposing quotas, the Philippines would be in violation of the WTO, even as we continue to insist on Pinoy rice-eaters  paying higher costs for their rice. That seems like a dumb thing to do, considering that we can get better rice at lower prices if we import our rice needs.

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hvp 02.25.14

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.

Finally, after so long, Car Plates in April; EDSA’s 28th

The new plates will have tamper-resistant locks and screws that will permanently attach the plates to motor vehicles and motorcycles.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

Only in the Philippines and only now could it happen that for over a year, we have not had new license plates for our vehicles. Word is that the new license plates for motor vehicles and motorcycles patterned after those in Europe and Singapore are expected to be released starting in April 2014.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya says they have issued a notice to PPI-JKG Philippines Inc. to proceed with the P3.85-billion license plate standardization program.

Abaya said the release of the new license plates in late April is timely, with road safety concerns being highlighted amid the recent spate of accidents involving public utility vehicles. The project would also help ease traffic congestion with the start of the construction of major road projects in the metropolis.

 “The security features of the new plates will help weed out ‘colorum (unauthorized)’ vehicles from the roads, which will better assure the safety of the riding public. They will also help in reducing the anticipated traffic in Metro Manila. Of course, these features will also enable authorities to enforce criminal and traffic laws more effectively,” says Abaya.

The release of the new license plates originally scheduled last September was delayed due to concerns about the release of funds by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the five-year project. That doesn’t sound right. After all, there should be no problem about the money since we pay cash for our car plates. Thus, there should always be money to pay for the license plates sold to the motoring public.

This was after the joint committee of the DOTC and Land Transportation Office (LTO) awarded the joint venture of the Netherlands’ J. Knieriem B.V. Goes (JKG) and Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. the five-year contract for the project.

The Senate is set to investigate the delay of the license plate project, as well as other projects of the DOTC. Sen. Francis Escudero filed a resolution seeking a congressional inquiry into the delay of the projects of the DOTC.

Escudero said the public is getting frustrated over the failure of the DOTC to undertake projects such as the purchase of additional coaches for the MRT-3 and the supply of license plates and vehicle registration stickers. The new license plates feature the new alphanumeric design such as three-letter and four-number combination for motor vehicles and two-letter and five-number combination for motorcycles.

Currently, motor vehicle license plates have three letters and three numbers, while motorcycles have two letters and four numbers.

Private motor vehicle plates will have a new black-and-white design, similar to those used in most countries around the world.

On the other hand, for-hire vehicles or PUV plates will retain the black and yellow scheme.

The new plates will have tamper-resistant locks and screws that will permanently attach the plates to motor vehicles and motorcycles.

 “This will prevent their transfer from one vehicle to another, which is done in perpetrating crimes such as car theft and in operating ‘colorum’ PUVs,” the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) says.

A “third plate” windshield sticker would replace the current sticker that is renewed during annual registration, and would indicate the vehicle’s license plate number.

For PUVs, their authorized routes would be indicated on the “third plate,” making it more difficult for out-of-line “colorum” operations and plate tampering.

With these security features, it will be easier for the LTO, the Land Transportation and Franchising Board (LTFRB) and other law enforcement agencies to rid the roads of “colorum” vehicles.

Among the other efforts of the DOTC, LTFRB and LTO are the possible imposition of stiffer penalties for “colorum” operators, including a P1-million fine, as well as the use of technology to zero in on violators.

* * *

The 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution “belongs to the people” and its commemoration should not focus on the key personalities of the historic uprising. A morning paper featured the personalities that had a role in the events of 28 years ago starting on February 22, 1986 that ended on February 25, 1086, when the Marcos family left the country. This year, the persons involved in the actual event will no longer be a main focus of the celebration.

One thing to remember is that many of the persons who turned against the dictator were themselves also Marcos friends and allies who abandoned him when he was on his way out. Thus, if these persons have proven themselves unfit to continue in office under a regime that would change the morality of government as seems possible with the beginning last year of what was called the “million people march” that led to the end of the PDAF or the “pork barrel” for our legislators, it is only right that they are not hailed as EDSA ‘86 heroes.

Those who turned against the Dictator in 1986 did so with the sole purpose of having a role in the new government. If there was a change in the morality of government, these former Marcos loyalists did not change nor were they affected by the new morality brought in by President Cory. Thus, they were square pegs in round holes and never had the moral leadership to inspire the populace to do better. They primarily stood for the old ways of doing things.

The new morality that was brought in by the million people march last year is what one hopes will inspire a moral revolution that would bring this country back to the place where we were prior to the time when the laws and the government was changed into one-man rule operating under the military.

Malacanang also announced that  this year the Aquino administration is “looking beyond” the historical context of the EDSA revolt to “recognize people who quietly kept the spirit of people power alive” by standing by their fellow Filipinos in times of need.

This, noted the palace, was evident in the wake of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities that struck the country last year.

 “The spirit of EDSA becomes alive not just every Feb. 25,  but when trials come and we as one nation help our fellowmen.”

President Aquino announced that he will mark the 28th anniversary of People Power on Feb. 25 in Cebu instead of Metro Manila where the peaceful uprising actually happened.

The President will lead the flag raising ceremony and “salubungan” rites in Cebu, which was hit by a strong earthquake last year. He will then fly to Tacloban City, which was devastated by Yolanda.

The EDSA People Power Commission prepared activities to commemorate the event, including a wreath laying ceremony at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City to be led by former President Ramos.

Aquino will also lead celebrations on Feb. 24 by inspecting recovery projects in Cateel, Davao Oriental, which was hit by Typhoon Pablo, and then hold a “Pulong Bayan” in Loon, Bohol that was also struck by a  killer quake last year.

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hvp 02.25.14

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Iba’t-ibang Pananaw Tungkol sa Cha-Cha

Abante (02.25.14)

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Ang pahayag ni Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Isagani Zarate hinggil sa umano’y tunay na motibo ng pagsusulong ng amyenda sa economic provision ng Saligang Batas o tinatawag ngayong Charter Change (ChaCha) ay  hindi lang raw ipagbibili ang ekonomiya at ang patrimonya kundi pati kaluluwa ng Pilipinas na ibibigay na sa mga dayuhan ay mukhang sobra naman na reaksyon sa kagustuhan lamang ni Speaker Belmonte at ng marami sa mga kongresista na pabilisin ang daloy ng ating ekonomiya,

 “Talagang nakakapangilabot ito. Ang sabi nga natin 75% ng ating mga magsasaka, at seven out of ten farmers do not own a land, talagang ibebenta natin ang ating mga lupa sa mga dayuhan,” pahayag pa ni Zarate. Gaya nga ng aking pinaliwanag na — ang mga parteng ito ng Saligang Batas ay hindi nakakatulong sa karamihan sa atin kundi lamang sa mga Pilipinong marami nang lupain na iilan lamang sila at marami pa’y magkakamag-anak.

Ibinuking din ng solon na sa opening sponsorship speech ng authors sa ChaCha ay ipinakita ang solidong suporta ng foreign chamber of commerce.

 “Talagang nakikita mo na kung ano ang niluluto ng amendments na ito,” ani pa ni Zarate.

Bunsod nito iginiit ng solon na dapat tutulan ang panukalang amyenda sa Saligang Batas.

 “Dapat talaga ang laban, dalhin natin sa mamamayan dahil in the past we were able to derail ChaCha train I think with more reason now kailangang i-derail ang ChaCha train na ito not only on the aspect procedure but in the substance dahil sagad-sagaran na ang assault na ito sa ating mga mamamayan,” dagdag pa ni Zarate.

Para naman kay 1-BAP partylist Rep. Silvestre Bello III, hindi pa panahon para pag-usapan ang ChaCha dahil sa marami pang mga maaaring pag-usapan imbes na ang pagbabago ng mga economic na parte ng ating Saligang Btas.

 “To me the more pragmatic consideration is sa dami ng problema ng ating bansa sa korapsyon, sa peace and order, sa calamities man-made and natural dito, dapat nakatutok ang atensyon ng Kongreso at ng buong bansa dito,” ani Bello.

 “Alam mo ‘yung Charter chang — I don’t know why they have to change it ibig ba nilang sabihin nagkamali si former President Cory Aquino sa paggawa ng 1987 Constitution, ibig ba nilang sabihin na hindi napag-aralang mabuti itong ating Saligang Batas? Of course not.  This is a product of combination of efforts of all the members of the Constitutional Commissioners who framed and the Filipino people who adopted this Constitution.”

Para sa akin, dapat lamang na baguhin ang mga parte ng Saligang Batas na naghahadlang sa ating kaunlaran. Ang problema kasi ng ating mga mayayaman sa Pinas ay hindi nila inilalagay ang kawarta nila sa produksyon kundi inuubos ang mga lupang mabibili sa paniniwalang walang lugi kapag ang kwarta nila’y ginagamit upang palawakin ang kanilang pag-aaring lupain, Mas magaling sana (lalo na’t palaki ng palaki ang ating populasyon) na sila’y mag-invest sa mga bagay na magbbigay ng trabaho sa mga kapwa nilang Pilipino imbes na sa lupa lamang.

Inaawat rin ni Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga si Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III sa deretsahang pagtutol sa ChaCha at sa halip ay dapat umanong manatili itong “neutral” at nakabalanse sa naturang panukala.

Bilang pinakamataas na opisyal ng pamahalaan at haligi ng namamayaning lapiang pulitikal na Liberal Party (LP), walang duda na susunod umano kay Aquino ang mga kapartido at kaalyadong mambabatas sa anumang sabihin nito kaya para maging patas ang tsansa ng ChaCha sa Kongreso ay makabubuting gumitna na lamang umano ang Pangulo, ani Barzaga.

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hvp 02.24.14)

 

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.

Isa Nanamang Saksi Tungkol sa PDAF ng mga Senador

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

            Meron na namang isa pang saksi laban sa mga Senador na nakinabang at kumita sa kanilang PDAF. Kinumpirma ni Atty. Levito Baligod, ang abogado ng mga whistleblower sa pork barrel scam, na isa pang testigo na si dating Technology Resource Center (TRC) General Manager Dennis Cunanan ang nagsumite ng aplikasyon sa Department of Justice-Witness Protection Program (DOJ-WPP) para maging state witness.

            Ayon kay Baligod na noon pa man ay nagpahayag na ng kahandaan si Cunanan na isiwalat ang nalalaman nito sa scam, sa katunayan umano ay nauna pa ito na naging resource person sa mga impormasyon ukol sa paggamit ng PDAF funds bago pa man lumantad si Benhur Luy at noong nakaraang taon pa naghain ng kanyang aplikasyon sa WPP ngunit hindi lamang agad na naaksyunan.

            Ang TRC ang isa sa sinasabing conduit sa pagpapalabas ng pork barrel fund at si Cunanan diumano ang mismong kumausap sa ilang mambabatas, ksama si Sen. Bong Revilla, para mapalabas ang pondo. Sa paglabas ni Cunanan na saksi, ang unang tatlong Senador na nabintangan ay meron ng saksi na maaaring matanggap sa Witness Protection Program — si Ruby Tuazon laban kina Jinggoy at Juan Ponce Enrile at si Cunanan laban kay Bong Revilla.

            Ngunit, meron pa ring ilan pang Senador na dapat pang makasuhan dahil na sila rin ay nakinabang sa racket ni Napoles. Sana lamang na bilis-bilisan ang pagdinig sa kaso upang mahatulan na ang mga senador na nagkasala bago maka-takbo na naman sila sa sunod na halalan at baka manalo na naman. Ang atin kasing mga botante ay hindi nag-iisip at malamang na iboboto pa rin ang kanilang mga nalalamang mga pangalan. Kahit nga artistang wala namang kakayanang maging Senador ay nananalo at napakalalaki pa ang kanilang mga natatanggap na boto.

            Mabuti naman na sa mga bagong mga halal na mga Senador, dahil na rin sa nawala na ang PDAF, ay walang mga maaaring makasuhang nakinabang kay Janet Napoles gaya ng mga mas matatandang senador. At sana’y sa mga susunod na halalan simula sa 2016, sana’y wala nang mga artista’t iba pang mga mananalo na hindi man lamang pinadhandaan ang paglilingkod bilang Senador.

            ‘Ika ni Balingod, merong panahin na inapura ni Bong ang pagpalabas ng pondo.

            “Cunanan made the calls to validate the senator’s signatures on letters endorsing the non-government organizations of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and if the senator’s staff members are authorized to sign for him. Kasi may mga memorandum of agreement na hindi legislator kundi chief of staff ang pumipirma,” pahayag ni Baligod.

            Sinabi ni Baligod na ang testimonya ni Cunanan ay magpapatibay na mismong si Revilla ang lumagda sa endorsement letters para sa pagpapalabas ng PDAF funds noong 2007 hanggang 2009 na umaabot sa P503.60 milyon.

            Matatandaang maka­ilang ulit nang itinanggi ni Revilla na mayroon itong nilagdaang mga endorsement letter.

            “Depende kasi sa depensa nila. Si Senator Jinggoy Estrada at si Senator Juan Ponce Enrile sinasabi hindi sila tumanggap ng kickbacks kaya relevant ‘yung sinabi ni Ruby Tuason. Pero ‘yung kay Bong Revilla, sinasabi niya wala siyang nalalaman.

             Hindi niya alam ang nangyayari sa PDAF kaya mahalaga ang testimonya ni Cunanan kasi siya ‘yung tumatawag to validate tapos sasabihin sa kanya ni Revilla:

            ‘Oo, pirma ko ‘yan.’ Kilala naman niya ang boses ni Senator Revilla,” paliwanag ni Baligod kung saan kasama pa umano ni Cunanan ang aide ni Revilla na si Richard Cambe sa ilang transaksyon nito.

            Matuto na sana tayo na ang mga dapat botohan bilang mga Senador ay ang mga taong hindi maaaring magawang makipagsabwatan sa mga kagaya ni Janet Napoles upang ibulsa ang mga kwartang dapat sana’y nakakatulong sa ating mga naghihirap na mamamayan.

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hvp (02.21.14)

 

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.

BIR’s Kim Goes on a CAT-Hunt

Imagine high-end vehicles, including Mercedes Benzes, having a value of less than P840,000 on the average!”

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

   Trust the keen eyes of a CPA topnotcher and highly experienced tax lawyer who is Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares to spot the cunning attempts of some business firms to short-change the government in their tax obligations.

It is incredible, after all,  that imported luxury cars such as latest model Mercedes Benzes, lumped together with other top luxury brands, would have an average  bargain-basement value of just about P840,000.00 per vehicle.

 An active target shooter who owns several guns, Henares is trying to hit the bull’s eye in the case of CATS Motors, Inc. which placed the total CIF (cost, insurance and freight) value of all the vehicles it sold in 2012 at a mere P599,342 million! Come on! Is it possible that the company’s marketing and sales people simply set aside or overlooked the accounting background of Henares?

There’s an old metaphor that says curiosity killed the cat. In this case, though, it was not the “cat” that got curious but the BIR boss. 

It seems that the declared CIF value of the luxury motor vehicles imported by CATS, as published by the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs in a major daily, attracted the curiosity of Henares.

The word is that she checked with the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) about the total number of vehicles sold by car importers and dealers, including CATS. And this firm’s sales volume for 2012 turned out to be 715 units consisting of various models of Mercedes Benz, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep. Reportedly, the CAMPI sales figure came from CATS Motors itself.

 The analytical mind of the accountant in Henares must have gone topsy-turvy trying to reconcile the declared CIF value of just under P600 million with the reported sales volume of 715 units. And why not? A little pencil-pushing involving these two figures shows that, on the average, the CIF value of one unit of the above brands would come to exactly P838,241.27. As the old saying goes, “everyone’s got an opinion, but the numbers don’t lie”.

Now Henares is said to be training her sight on the really big CATS. Clearly, there are tax deficiencies here. This should not be surprising, really. Imagine high-end vehicles, including Mercedes Benzes, having a value of less than P840,000 on the average! Yet the KIA Sportage and KIA Carens both of which belong to a much lower category, have suggested retail prices of P1.203 million and P1.155 million, respectively!

This is allegedly the reason why CATS President Felix Ang and Chairman Greg Yu activated, hurriedly it seems, a previously dormant company, Auto Nation Group, Inc. It’s practically the same company as CATS, considering that its Directors include Ang, his wife Grace, other relatives, and Greg Yu. Reportedly, it is Auto Nation Group importing luxury brands all of sudden, in lieu of CATS.

As previously mentioned, though, Henares is quite the sharp-shooter. If the luxury car importer intended to escape her crosshairs, they should not have been so obvious. According to my BIR sources, it won’t be long until the good commissioner pulls the trigger. on CATS!

* * *

I have no problem with the Supreme Court decision upholding libel online as a criminal offense with only the author of a libelous posting liable and no one else. Those who merely receive the posting  or comment on it  are not liable. The provision doubling the penalty on libel which already carries a maximum jail term of  12 yeas  or a fine of P200,000 was struck down by the Court, Now, the anti-cybercrime law that was aimed at internet activities such as hacking, identity theft, cybersex and online child pornography can be implemented.

After the law was passed in 2012, the anti-cybercrime act was suspended pending the decision of the Court.

What is really needed is for libel to be decriminalized as it has been in many part of the world.

This is something that journalists and media advocacy groups like the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) have been campaigning over several decades now.  We have asked Congress to amend the provisions on libel of the 82-year-old Revised Penal Code (RPC), Article 355 of which states that “Libel by means of writing or other similar means” is punishable with a minimum of six months and one day imprisonment (prision correccional) and a fine ranging from P200 to P6,000.

The most significant development in the Philippine campaign to decriminalize libel is the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s (UNHRC) October 2011 declaration that the criminal sanction for libel in the Philippines is “excessive” and in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in which the Philippines is a signatory.

The UNHRC was acting on the April/July 2008 complaint filed by Davao broadcaster Alexander “Lex” Adonis, who spent almost two years in jail after being convicted in absentia in a libel complaint filed by then Davao City 1st District and then House Speaker Prospero Nograles.

Branch 14 of the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) sentenced Adonis to imprisonment of a minimum of five months and one day to a maximum of four years, six months and one day and to pay a fine of P100,000 in January 2007. Adonis was tried in absentia since the court deemed his failure to attend consecutive scheduled hearings and his lawyer’s withdrawal from the case as a waiver of his right to defend himself.

Nograles filed libel complaints against Adonis, then Bombo Radyo station manager Dan Vicente, and the Manila-based tabloid Abante Tonite for publishing reports that Nograles and his alleged mistress had been caught in a hotel by the latter’s husband.

UNHRC asked the Philippine government to review its libel law because it is incompatible with Article XIX, paragraph 3 of the ICCPR.

Quoting its General Comment No. 34 which detailed the application of Article XIX: Freedoms of opinion and expression, UNHRC reiterated that “States parties should consider the decriminalization of defamation 113 and, in any case, the application of the criminal law should only be countenanced in the most serious of cases and imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty. It is impermissible for a State party to indict a person for criminal defamation but then not to proceed to trial expeditiously – such a practice has a chilling effect that may unduly restrict the exercise of freedom of expression of the person concerned and others.”

The Committee also noted that  the Philippines was in violation of Articles 14, paragraph 3 and 19 of the ICCPR for failing to notify Adonis of the resumption of the proceedings and of his lawyer’s withdrawal of representation which resulted to his trial in absentia.

It asked the Philippine government to report within 180 days whether it had complied or not with the Committee’s suggestions. It seems that the Philippines has chosen to ignore the UNHRC. The 180 days within which we were supposed to report has long passed and we have not heard anything more about this.

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.