July 2010

No VFA

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivered his first State of the Nation Address on July 26, 2010. In his speech, he spoke of what little money the country has left; the irregularities in the previous administration; the need for more classrooms, cash transfers, ad social services; and the poor investments his predecessor made in several sectors which were actually not returning any profit. He also called upon Congress to support him in passing measures on fiscal rationalization; land use; witness protection; break-up of monopolies; and the often talked about, but also often forgotten, armed forces modernization. But there was no VFA.

The VFA or Visiting Forces Agreement, a remnant of the Estrada administration’s national security policy and the license given by the Arroyo administration for the, albeit prolonged, visit of US forces in the country remains a burning issue of national sovereignty for most of the country’s nationalists.

Just seven years after the Magnificent 12 of the Philippine Senate voted to reject a news treaty which would allow American forces to stay in the country, the GI Joes were once again, allowed to return to the country for military exercises. The first of these exercises were held in June of 2001. But 9/11 attacks changed the character of the exercises, the troops participating in them, and also the duration of the stay of American forces in the country.

By January of 2002, elements of the Joint Task Force 510 of Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC) headed by Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster arrived in the country and were deployed to Western Mindanao. Later, JTF 510 would be de-activated after the formation of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines or JSOTF-P. With this, the country became another front in the Bush’s administration’s Global War on Terror. In fact, the presence of the US troops in the country and their activities are collectively part of Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines.

In November 2002, the country signed another agreement with the United States, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, which allowed US forces to select locations and build upon these locations, support facilities for their activities in the country. While the agreement was supposedly to be in effect for only five years, it was extended in 2009, after the both Philippine and American negotiators concluded that the arrangement benefitted both parties. The agreement has been viewed by several sectors as “virtual basing” and in violation of the constitutional ban on foreign bases.

But the VFA would be put to test when Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was accused by a Filipino woman under the name Nicole, of rape. The incident, later to be called the Subic Rape Case, served as a litmus paper for the provisions of the agreement which has always been believed by many to serve only the interest of the American government. While the lower court convicted Smith on the charges, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision and set him free. The case though, has become another rallying cry for review of the VFA, so much so that Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has waged a personal battle for a review of the agreement.

While protests and criticism of the VFA have become staple activities of progressive groups in the capital, locals in Zamboanga City, Basilan, and Sulu are ambivalent.

In a 2006 report made by David Santos of ABS-CBN Zamboanga on the anniversary of 9/11 a local was asked on what he feels with the presence of American troops, he answered that he felt safe and that the end is near for the Abu Sayyaf. It would be important to point out that the report was made at the height of Oplan Ultimatum or the intensive military operations of the armed forces against the Abu Sayyaf that resulted to the deaths of several of its leaders.

The interviewee’s thoughts are not isolated. There are some in Mindanao who actually think that the presence of American troops is actually needed. The reasons for this feeling vary. Some adhere to this because they lack faith in the integrity of the AFP in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf, especially after the controversial Lamitan siege; others think that the American forces are more sufficiently equipped to conduct more demanding operations against the bandits; and then there are also those who think that the US presence guarantees the creation of a Bangsa Moro state a.k.a. the BJE or the Bangsa Moro Juridical Entity. Of course, the last one is the result of centuries of enmity between Muslims and Christians in this country which can best be understood by reading Samuel K. Tan’s A Critical Decade.

At its 12th year, the Visiting Forces Agreement remains a heated issue of sovereignty, national security, and justice from the halls of power in Metro Manila to the barangays of Basilan and Sulu. It is still one of the rallying cries of the progressive groups whenever they hold protests whether infront of US Embassy, the Congress, or President Aquino’s house on Times Street. Yet the agreement has largely remained in effect and unquestioned. Since it was declared constitutional early this year, not much has been heard from political scientists, the academe, and the policy-makers. And it was not even mentioned in the recent State of the Nation Address.

Aquino should make a definite stand on the VFA.  And he should call for its review If it has achieved or failed its purpose then it should be abrogated. If it has not, then it should be revised and formalized as a treaty with the concurrence of the Senate and the House of representatives. Otherwise, if it remains a treaty, it will always be a bone of contention against the policy of the United States in the Philippines.

With the on-going withdrawal of US troops in Iraq, and the planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by next year, it is not a remote possibility that there would be a reduction, if not full withdrawal of US troops from the country. The problem is if the US maintains its posture against China. Now that would be an entirely different matter.

Aquino signs EO on Truth Commission

photo by Dondi Tawatao - Getty Images AsiaPac

photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty

Aquino signs EO on Truth Commission
By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III signed on Friday Executive Order 1, creating the Truth Commission tasked to look into graft and corruption allegations that hounded the past administration.

“Today, I signed Executive Order No. 1, establishing a commission to investigate allegations of anomalies during the last nine (9) years. The process of bringing a necessary closure to the allegations of official wrongdoing and impunity has begun,” Aquino said in a statement on Friday.

Aquino said the executive order was in line with his promise to form the Truth Commission in the first 100 days of his administration.

He said that former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. will head the commission that has been tasked to investigate and seek the truth about corruption allegations that were committed over the last nine years by government officials and their accomplices in the private sector.

The commission, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said at a press conference, has until Dec. 31, 2012 to complete its mission.

This year, however, De Lima said the commission would be doing “organizational and initial stages” of its work.

Aquino EO No. 1 creating the Philippine Truth Commission

MALACAÑAN PALACE
MANILA

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1

CREATING THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010

WHEREAS, Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines solemnly enshrines the principle that a public office is a public trust and mandates that public officers and employees, who are servants of the people, must at all times be accountable to the latter, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives;

WHEREAS, corruption is among the most despicable acts of defiance of this principle and notorious violation of this mandate;

WHEREAS, corruption is an evil and scourge which seriously affects the political, economic, and social life of a nation; in a very special way it inflicts untold misfortune and misery on the poor, the marginalized and underprivileged sector of society;

WHEREAS, corruption in the Philippines has reached very alarming levels, and undermined the people’s trust and confidence in the Government and its institutions;

WHEREAS, there is an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the people’s faith and confidence in the Government and in their public servants;

WHEREAS, the President’s battlecry during his campaign for the Presidency in the last elections “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” expresses a solemn pledge that if elected, he would end corruption and the evil it breeds;

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and secure justice for all;

WHEREAS, Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise know as the Revised Administrative Code of the Philippines, gives the President the continuing authority to reorganize the Office of the President.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. – There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as the “COMMISSION”, which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

The Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and four (4) members who will act as an independent collegial body.

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. – The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. In particular, it shall:

a)      Identify and determine the reported cases of such graft and corruption which it will investigate;

b)      Collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large scale corruption which it has chosen to investigate, and to this end require any agency, official or employee of the Executive Branch, including government-owned or controlled corporations, to produce documents, books, records and other papers;

c)      Upon proper request or representation, obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of Representatives records of investigations conducted by committees thereof relating to matters or subjects being investigated by the Commission;

d)      Upon proper request and representation, obtain information from the courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Court Administrator, information or documents in respect to corruption cases filed with the Sandiganbayan or the regular courts, as the case may be;

e)      Invite or subpoena witnesses and take their testimonies and for that purpose, administer oaths or affirmations as the case may be;

f)       Recommend, in cases where there is a need to utilize any person as a state witness to ensure that the ends of justice be fully served, that such person who qualifies as a state witness under the Revised Rules of Court of the Philippines be admitted for that purpose;

g)      Turn over from time to time, for expeditious prosecution, to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities, by means of a special or interim report and recommendation, all evidence on corruption of public officers and employees and their private sector co-principals, accomplices or accessories, if any, when in the course of its investigation the Commission finds that there is reasonable ground to believe that they are liable for graft and corruption under pertinent applicable laws;

h)      Call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the Department of Justice or any of the agencies under it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge of its functions and duties;

i)        Engage or contract the services of resource persons, professionals and other personnel determined by it as necessary to carry out its mandate;

j)        Promulgate its rules and regulations or rules of procedure it deems necessary to effectively and efficiently carry out the objectives of this Executive Order and to ensure the orderly conduct of its investigations, proceedings and hearings, including the presentation of evidence;

k)      Exercise such other acts incident to or are appropriate and necessary in connection with the objectives and purposes of this Order.

SECTION 3. Staffing Requirements. – The Commission shall be assisted by such assistants and personnel as may be necessary to enable it to perform its functions, and shall formulate and establish its organizational structure and staffing pattern composed of such administrative and technical personnel as it may deem necessary to efficiently and effectively carry out its functions and duties prescribed herein, subject to the approval of the Department of Budget and Management. The officials of the Commission shall in particular include, but not limited to, the following:

  1. General Counsel
  2. Deputy General Counsel
  3. Special Counsel
  4. Clerk of the Commission

SECTION 4. Detail of Employees. – The President, upon recommendation of the Commission, shall detail such public officers or personnel from other departments or agencies which may be required by the Commission. The detailed officers and personnel may be paid honoraria and/or allowances as may be authorized by law, subject to pertinent accounting and auditing rules and procedures.

SECTION 5. Engagement of Experts. – The Truth Commission shall have the power to engage the services of experts as consultants or advisers as it may deem necessary to accomplish its mission.

SECTION 6. Conduct of Proceedings. – The proceedings of the Commission shall be in accordance with the rules promulgated by the Commission. Hearings or proceedings of the Commission shall be open to the public. However, the Commission, motu propio, or upon the request of the person testifying, hold an executive or closed-door hearing where matters of national security or public safety are involved or when the personal safety of the witness warrants the holding of such executive or closed-door hearing. The Commission shall provide the rules for such hearing.

SECTION 7. Right to Counsel of Witnesses/Resource Persons. – Any person called to testify before the Commission shall have the right to counsel at any stage of the proceedings.

SECTION 8. Protection of Witnesses/Resource Persons. – The Commission shall always seek to assure the safety of the persons called to testify and, if necessary make arrangements to secure the assistance and cooperation of the Philippine National Police and other appropriate government agencies.

SECTION 9. Refusal to Obey Subpoena, Take Oath or Give Testimony. – Any government official or personnel who, without lawful excuse, fails to appear upon subpoena issued by the Commission or who, appearing before the Commission refuses to take oath or affirmation, give testimony or produce documents for inspection, when required, shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action. Any private person who does the same may be dealt with in accordance with law.

SECTION 10. Duty to Extend Assistance to the Commission. – The departments, bureaus, offices, agencies or instrumentalities of the Government, including government-owned and controlled corporations, are hereby directed to extend such assistance and cooperation as the Commission may need in the exercise of its powers, execution of its functions and discharge of its duties and responsibilities with the end in view of accomplishing its mandate. Refusal to extend such assistance or cooperation for no valid or justifiable reason or adequate cause shall constitute a ground for disciplinary action against the refusing official or personnel.

SECTION 11. Budget for the Commission. – The Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the Commission to ensure that it can exercise its powers, execute its functions, and perform its duties and responsibilities as effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.

SECTION 12. Office. – The Commission may avail itself of such office space which may be available in government buildings accessible to the public space after coordination with the department or agencies in control of said building or, if not available, lease such space as it may require from private owners.

SECTION 13. Furniture/Equipment. – The Commission shall also be entitled to use such equipment or furniture from the Office of the President which are available. In the absence thereof, it may request for the purchase of such furniture or equipment by the Office of the President.

SECTION 14. Term of the Commission. – The Commission shall accomplish its mission on or before December 31, 2012.

SECTION 15. Publication of Final Report. – On or before December 31, 2012, the Commission shall render a comprehensive final report which shall be published upon directive of the President. Prior thereto, also upon directive of the President, the Commission may publish such special interim reports it may issue from time to time.

SECTION 16. Transfer of Records and Facilities of the Commission. – Upon the completion of its work, the records of the Commission as well as its equipment, furniture and other properties it may have acquired shall be returned to the Office of the President.

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.

SECTION 18. Separability Clause. If any provision of this Order is declared unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the validity and effectivity of the other provisions hereof.

SECTION 19. Effectivity. – This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

DONE in the City of Manila, Philippines, this 30th day of July 2010.

(SGD.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
By the President:

(SGD.)PAQUITO N.  OCHOA, JR.
Executive Secretary

DPWH cancels 19 ‘midnight deals’ worth over P934M

DPWH cancels 19 ‘midnight deals’ worth over P934M

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Citing the Aquino administration’s policy of transparency and accountability, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson has ordered the cancellation of 19 “midnight deals” entered into by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The contracts, worth over P934 million, for the rehabilitation of provinces affected by Storms “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) and “Pepeng” (Parma) are supposed to be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

He said proper procedures were clearly violated as the projects did not undergo “open and competitive” public bidding.

“Aside from being negotiated, the contracts were signed even before their SARO (special allotment release orders) were released by the Department of Budget and Management. That’s quite irregular,” he said.

“They were signed just a few days before July 1 (Day 1 of the Aquino administration),” Singson told the Inquirer.

JICA earlier agreed to finance 86 projects worth over P3 billion in areas in Regions 1 to 5 severely damaged by the two storms.

A check with DPWH files showed the contracts were signed on June 18 while their SAROs were released on June 25.

“Why should you sign contracts when you’re not authorized?” Singson asked.

Probe of DPWH officials

He has formed a team tasked with conducting a thorough investigation of the canceled contracts and the DPWH officials behind them.

The “contract packages,” which are part of the DPWH’s Post-Ondoy and Pepeng Short-Term Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project, included the following (with their respective project costs, locations and contractors):

• No. 10: P53.06 million; La Trinidad, Bokod, Itogon and Buguias, Benguet; Sabangan, Mountain Province and Tabuk, Kalinga; Ferdstar Builders Contractors.

• No. 13: P35.1 million; Ilocos Norte; A. de GuiaConstruction.

• No. 24: P91.5 million; Sitio Departe, Barangay Bantog, Asingan, Pangasinan; Tokwing Construction.

• No. 25: P228.7 million; Sitio Bato, Barangay San Vicente, San Manuel, Pangasinan; Northern Builders.

• No. 27: P25.8 million; Camalaniogan and Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan; M. M. Construction.

• No. 28: P68.6 million; Paitan Section Bay and Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya; Royal Crown Monarch Construction and Supply.

• No. 30: P27.4 million; Sta. Fe, Kayapa and Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya; Christian Ian Construction Corp.

• No. 36: P9.14 million; Paombong and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan; P.O.N. Construction.

• No. 37: P41.1 million; Bulacan province; Northern Builders.

• No. 39: P42.5 million; San Felipe and Iba, Zambales; Tokwing Construction.

• No. 40: P19.2 million; San Marcelino, Zambales; Arrowhead Construction.

• No. 41: P77.3 million; Arayat, Pampanga; L.R. Tiqui Builders, Inc.

• No. 44: P78.7 million; Candaba, Pampanga; Northern Builders.

• No. 45: P27.4 million; Barangay Bodega, Floridablanca, Pampanga; Northern Builders.

• No. 46: P16.4 million; Guagua and Lubao, Pampanga; L.R. Tiqui Builders, Inc.

• Nos. 47-A and 47-B: P32.01 million; Moncada and Bamban, Tarlac; R.A. Pahati Gravel and Sand and LSD Construction and Supplies.

• No. 48: P18.3 million; Aliaga, Nueva Ecija; L.R. Tiqui Builders Inc.

• No. 49: P19.1 million; Bongabon and San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija; Royal Crown Monarch Construction and Supply.

• No. 51: P22.4 million; Balayan and Lemery, Batangas; A.D. Construction.

Need for transparency

Singson repeatedly stressed the need to be “very transparent and objective in project selection, bidding and awarding of projects.”

“I will seek and even plead for the cooperation of members of Congress, politicians and local government units to help us in ensuring the integrity and transparency of all public works projects,” he said.

He vowed to lead by example.

“This is what I told President Aquino when I accepted this position … I realize that we also have to change how contractors, suppliers and elected officials deal with DPWH,” Singson said.

He warned DPWH personnel against acting as “middlemen and collectors for contractors, politicians and other questionable personalities.”

The Empire strkies back: Gloria's counter-Sona

“Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

And so the loyal weaver who cloaked his Empress in legalisms played the precocious boy who could see through pretense. “I have been cautioned to go slow on the SONA because President Aquino enjoys a tremendously high approval rating. But when the Emperor wears no clothes, can I honestly tell you that his robe is regal and majestic?”

Honestly?

Rep. Edcel Lagman delivered Gloria Arroyo’s counter-Sona even as the stench of the anti-impeachment defense he pulled out his ass some years back – “preh-joo-disssh-yal kwesss-chonssss” – still fouls the air.  Look at his allegations of interference, defiance, and anti-constitutional behavior against President Aquino.

“The rule of law, not the role of interference, must be strictly observed and judiciously upheld. No more similar presidential interventions in the judicial domain like in the Trillanes case; no more affront against a co-equal branch of government like the defiance of the valid appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona; and no more projected creation of a “Truth Commission” which may suffer from constitutional infirmities like usurping the power of Congress to create and fund offices and commissions and violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution.’”

1. Intervention in the Trillanes case

“People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.” – Will Rogers

Atty. Romeo V. Pefianco of the Bulletin addressed the issue of intervention adequately in an article titled, “President’s oath dictates duty.”

He recounted that President Quezon was accused of interference when he vented his anger on a judge and justices of the Court of Appeals who upheld the judge’s decision to dismiss a case involving the death of a laborer.  Quezon believed the laborer was denied justice.

“Quezon’s wrath found total support among the various workers’ federations. But members of the Bar and various civic groups, with full support from the print/broadcast media, reacted with equal vehemence.”

But Quezon was not cowed. “The President coolly lectured to them all: “My oath of office directs me ‘…to do justice to every man…’ I’m doing this now, in addition to preserving and defending the Constitution.”

Pefianco added, “The above is the same oath President Noynoy swore to uphold on June 30… Asking DoJ to review the case against Senator Trillanes is not an act of defying the courts, but a duty imposed by his oath “…to do justice to every man…” The doctrine of separation of powers is a lot lesser than the duty/power to do justice to every man.”

Justice triumphed in the end. The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and indemnity was awarded to the laborer’s kin.

2. “Affront against a co-equal branch of government”

“I would be loath to speak ill of any person who I do not know deserves it, but I am afraid he is an attorney.” – Samuel Johnson

President Aquino expressed his disagreement with the appointment of Justice Renato Corona before he assumed the presidency. Has he shown any defiance since he took his oath of office?

The fact that disagreement was expressed before, not after, Aquino became president is an inconvenient distinction that Lagman would rather gloss over. And that’s because it’s a “pree-joo-disss-yal kwesss-chon” to his allegation.

And what about Gloria Arroyo, was she being defiant when she disagreed with Supreme Court decisions that went against her?

3. “The creation of a truth commission”

“It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour.” – Thomas Jefferson

Sure, any defense lawyer will argue against the legality of such a commission. That’s what they are paid to do. But all Lagman did was to reveal Arroyo’s legal strategy should she be hauled before the commission. And he also exposed Gloria’s preference for Ombudsman Gutierrez.

I turned off my TV after Lagman’s first allegation. I figured if that was the biggest rock he could hurl, then I was not going to waste my time watching him throw pebbles.

Foundation seeks writers/media monitors for media campaign

SEARCH FOR WRITERS/MEDIA MONITORS

I am looking for experienced writers/media monitors that can devote a three month period to a media campaign for a private foundation. The period is from August to October with industry standard pay for full time work.

Applicants must have the following qualifications:

  • College graduate
  • Very proficient in writing in Pilipino and English
  • Media monitoring experience
  • Internet, blogging and social network savvy
  • Capable of working from home (must have a computer and broadband connection) but always available to attend meetings and pressers
  • Willing to do basic clerical duties such as creating press briefers

Please send your CV and a one page (letter-sized) essay in both English and Pilipino on the topic, “How I Can Help Eradicate Poverty,” to leahnavarro [at] gmail [dot] com. The search period is from 30 July to 6 August 2010.

Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud

Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud
by Andreo Calonzo
GMANews.Tv

Several senior Marine officers are willing to come out in the open to share vital information regarding the alleged irregularities in the 2004 elections that supposedly benefited then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

This was according to Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, who said in an exclusive GMA News interview that he got the assurance personally from these unnamed military officers.

“I talked to some senior officers who were then commanders of middle level units, and they can attest to what happened,” Sabban told GMA News reporter Susan Enriquez in the interview aired over “24 Oras” Wednesday.

He said the officers will only share the information with the soon-to-be-formed Truth Commission, the independent body that will investigate unresolved controversies under the Arroyo administration, including accusations of poll fraud.

Arroyo’s camp has repeatedly denied irregularities during the 2004 elections.

Sabban said most of these officers were assigned in Lanao del Sur, the southern Philippine province where widespread manipulation of votes allegedly took place in 2004.

“According to them, their junior officers can corroborate their statements. So, I think, if the commander comes out, then obviously, those who were there, the junior officers and enlisted personnel, they will also come out and tell what really happened,” he said.

Three now-retired generals – Hermogenes Esperon, Roy Kyamko and Gabriel Habacon – reportedly took part in the cheating to ensure Arroyo’s victory in 2004.

The names came out in the controversial “Hello, Garci” tapes — the wiretapped phone conversation between a woman believed to be Arroyo and a man believed to be then Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. [See: Hello, Garci time line.]

A military fact-finding panel had cleared Esperon, Kyamko and Habacon in a report that has been kept confidential up to the present.

Sabban appealed for the release of the report, which is dubbed as the Mayuga report in reference to the five-man panel’s head, retired Navy Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga.

Sabban also said he is confident that the Truth Commission, to be led by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide, can get to the bottom of what really happened during the 2004 elections.

President Benigno Aquino III, during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, said he would sign the executive order formalizing the creation of the Truth Commission this week. – KBK, GMANews.TV

What the blogosphere is saying on SONA

Blogs are starting to appear on what the SONA means for us, and the dust is settling and people are starting to think things through what the President said.

Our regular Pro Pinoy contributors gave their two cents. Manuel Buencamino wrote SONA, and it was followed by Felicity’s “A delayed reaction to the theif who stole in the night.”   Marocharim tweeted his take in what is appropriately titled, “the 140 character SONA.”

Caffeinesparks gave her thoughts in “Noynoy’s first SONA: reiterating the message of his campaign.” She scrawled, “this SONA sounds like a report to the people.”

Regular Pro Pinoy writer, Doy Santos on the other hand had a good piece on “Son of a SONA!” In it he criticized the administration’s choice of Public-Private Partnerships in developing nations. It is a must read.

Leo Alejandrino lent his insight in “Noy’s State of the Nation.” He said, “by my count the weighted grade for the SONA was a B+ for sincerity and goodwill. It could have done with more content especially on fiscal reform. Next year’s test will be harder. The President will no longer have the past Administration to hit on. He will also have to deliver on his promises. Let us wish him luck.”

Loyal Aquino supporter Reyna Elena jot down his thoughts in a reaction to President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address.

Over at Midfield, Ding Gagelonia wrote “P.Noy’s 1st SONA: The Hits, and Misses (retitled).”  Tony Cruz narrated Arroyo, PPP policy top Aquino’s Congress speech, ending with a quote from Bayan Muna.

The opposition’s circle had this to say. We have Edcel Lagman’s Counter-SONA.  If you’re in that camp, be sure to read Maningat’s P-Noy’s first SONA in proper perspective.

The Anti-Pinoy Ilda’s take on President Noynoy’s SONA: what the clapping audience failed to hear,” apparently the President is the ‘biggest loser.’  Of course, it hasn’t dawned on that camp that calling people names simply translates to losing an argument.

The opposition continues to oppose everything and proposing nothing.

Most people general accept the SONA in a positive light.   Yes there are misgivings and some obvious disappointment, but generally are willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt and this time to act.  In their critic you can sense that they do want to make things better loving their country and willing to change it.