The Daily Roundup: 27 January 2011

Philippines-US dialogue starts today” by Bernice Camille V. Bauzon

The Philippines and the United States will hold their first strategic dialogue in Manila today until tomorrow to discuss the two countries’ various concerns on foreign policies, trade and economy and defense and security.
Philippine-US relations have been nurtured by a shared history and adherence to common values, especially a commitment to freedom, democracy and free enterprise, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

“The dialogue will affirm the strength of the Philippine-US alliance and the dynamic partnership for peace, security, stability and prosperity,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said in a statement, adding that the dialogue is a “clear manifestation” of both countries’ resolve to enhance their relations.

Read more at The Manila Times

PNoy thanks PBSP’s support for his government” by Amita O. Legaspi

President Benigno Aquino III might have been two and a half hours late for his appointment with the officers and members of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Tuesday, but still he was received warmly.

The cordial welcome was not only because Aquino once worked for the PBSP, a business sector-based non-government organization, but more importantly because its members understood the need for him to attend to the victims of a bus bombing that happened just a block away, some hours earlier.

Read more at GMA News

The issue of NFA’s existence” by Solita Collas-Monsod

National Food Authority Administrator Lito Banayo seems to be between a rock and a hard place. He has been blowing the whistle on what he perceives to be at best mismanagement and at worst corrupt practices of the previous NFA/Department of Agriculture leadership as exemplified by the unnecessary importation of rice at inflated prices.

So much so that there is talk that Arthur Yap, the former DA secretary (therefore ex-oficio chair of the NFA Council), and possibly even former President Gloria M. Arroyo (this, I would like to see — it just sounds good in the media, but I cannot imagine how the connection between her and the NFA Council decisions and the NFA bidding process can be established) will be haled to court to answer for their sins in this regard.

Read more at Business World

RP bill should not delay enactment of RHB-solon” by Fernan Marasigan

THE drafting by Malacañang of a responsible-parenthood (RP) bill as espoused by leaders of the Catholic Church should not in any way cause a delay in the legislation of the reproductive-health bill (RH), a legislator said on Wednesday.

Party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela said Congress has already held several hearings and consultations, and a technical working group is already working on the consolidation of the several bills filed and deliberated upon, thus “The legislative mill must continue uninterrupted.”

Read more at Business Mirror

Social protection review gets grant

A technical assistance grant of $1.4 million will be provided by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction for the Philippines to help “overhaul” the country’s social protection programs.

The grant, to be administered by the Asian Development Bans, aims to identify priority social protection programs and those which should be phased out.

Read more at Malay Business Insight

No body in charge” by Rigoberto D. Tiglaw

EVEN AS the Left and the opposition were very noisily claiming that it was a prelude to the imposition of martial law, the Human Security Act (actually the anti-terrorism law) was passed in 2007. Its provisions enabled the Arroyo administration to contain terrorism.

One of the law’s key features, intended to create a strong institution that is alert and capable of fighting terrorism, is the seven-member Anti-Terrorism Council. Under the law, the executive secretary serves as its chair, with the justice secretary as vice chair. The other members of the council are the secretaries of national defense, foreign affairs, interior and local government, and finance as well as the national security adviser. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and even his successor who served at that post for only four months, Leandro Mendoza, convened the council every month.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Loves, dreams shattered” by Tina Santos, Nancy C. Carvajal

Sweethearts Shirley Kristel Ausena, 25, and Jhohansson Reyes, 24, left home on Tuesday morning with high hopes for their families and each other.

Their dreams of finding a better life were shattered by the explosion that ripped through a passenger bus in Makati City just before 2 p.m.

Kristel and Jhohansson were among the five people killed in the explosion, which authorities claimed was caused by an improvised explosive device.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Muslim militants eyed in EDSA bus carnage” by Cecil Morella

Muslim militants from the remote southern Philippines may have been behind a bus bomb attack in the nation’s financial hub that killed 5 people, authorities said on Wednesday.

A mortar bomb triggered by a mobile phone caused Tuesday’s explosion that ripped apart a bus travelling along one of Manila’s main roads, the city’s police chief and President Benigno Aquino’s national security adviser said.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Blast a preemptive attack” by Cris G. Odronia

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday said that a bus explosion on Tuesday that killed five persons and injured more than a dozen others could be the handiwork of attackers who may be planning another strike at his administration.
According to President Aquino, the government, however, for now would not point to any particular group as being behind the blast.

“We’re not even sure that the label ‘terrorists’ is the most appropriate [for those who carried out the attack],” said the President, who also on Tuesday saw “terror” and “destabilization” in the explosion.
No individuals or groups have claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack.

Read more at The Manila Times

24 Hours of Bombings: Russia, Philippines, Thailand, Iraq” by Maria Ressa

It used to be that when near simultaneous, coordinated bombings happened, it would be an automatic signature of Al-Qaeda.

Not so in our world today.

Since 9/11, authorities around the world have arrested or killed top and mid-ranking leaders of Al-Qaeda and its associate groups like Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia. You would think that would be a good thing, but I’d argue it’s now much harder for authorities to identify and fight terrorists. Recent events show how the threat has evolved in a decade (yes, this year marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11).

Read more at Maria Ressa’s Blog

Con Yap