All posts by: glenn

A Wish for Philippine Sports in the Hundredth Year Anniversary of the Far Eastern Championship Games

Boxing photo

Not many men can claim they’ve faced the best. Not many can say they grabbed hold of a doubting world’s attention, and for a few moments, humanity was gripped by their resolute exploits for a win, for grace or national pride, for the right to say I’ve faced the best. I have pulled off the unbelievable.

We saw in the 2012 London Summer Olympics the pure determination of 19-year-old boxer Mark Barriga. He was the shortest fighter in his division, and yet with brilliant footwork and a crisp right hook, he dropped his Italian opponent in the first round. Even when he was defeated by a single point by the Kazakh Birzhan Zhakypov, Barriga demonstrated the refusal to be dominated by ugly techniques that belonged more in a wrestling match. Despite losing, he was able to gain the crowd’s admiration with his resolve and clean punches. The audience made up mostly of people from foreign countries was won to his side. They started to chant “Phi-li-ppines! Phi-li-ppines!”

Our country’s campaign for athletic glory can be likened to Barriga’s Olympic story—an expedition fueled by an earnest passion for sports that has yet to make headway. The Philippines was the first nation from Southeast Asia to compete in the Olympics, the first Southeast Asian country to win an Olympic medal. And yet until now we only have two silver medals (boxer Mansueto Velasco in 1996 and swimmer Anthony Villanueva in 1964) and seven bronze medals.

In 2013, the task of gaining honor for Philippine sports is again upon us. This year brings about a milestone and an opportunity for Philippine sports as it marks the Hundredth Year Anniversary of the Far Eastern Championship Games—the very first international sports gathering in Asia, which was actually held in the country on February 4, 1913.

The Far Eastern Championship Games was a time of optimism and hope for Filipino athletes and sports lovers. It featured extraordinary performances from our athletes, including Luis Salvador’s 116-point effort to lead the Philippines over China to capture the gold medal in basketball. The Rizal Memorial Coliseum, which could hold 30,000 spectators, had also just been constructed to host the games. Gawking at the triumphant athletes and the newly built sports complex, one must have had this vision of the future of Philippine sports—brilliant, exciting, like sunlight illuminating a great trophy.

Our sports administrators

Olympic Council of Asia head Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait with global sports leaders

Nearly a century later, what has become of the hope and brilliance of the Far Eastern Games? 2012 was a year that brought both honor and defeat to Filipino athletes. What was the most striking Philippine sport experience in 2012? Was it our athletes’ gutsy though disappointing performances in the London Olympics? Manny Pacquiao’s unbelievable knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez? Or perhaps LA Tenorio’s clutch jump shot with just 20 seconds left to defeat the United States Team, 76-75, and win the William Jones Cup?

For this writer, an experience to remember was more educational than exciting as it provided the opportunity to see our country’s sports administrators at work at the Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly. The gathering of global sports leaders was held on October 8 last year at the Macau East Asia Games Dome.

Our country was represented by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose Cojuangco, Jr., Robert “Dodot” Jaworski, Jr., and Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. Known as a second generation sports hero, Jaworski is the son of basketball’s Living Legend, Sonny Jaworski, and was valuable member of the popular Ginebra/Gordon’s Gin basketball team in the 90s. His wife, Mikee, meanwhile is a popular television personality who won a gold medal for the country as an equestrian in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.

The two athletes addressed an impressive gathering of 400 leaders of the world’s Olympic associations global decision makers in sports, including the Executive Board of the Olympic Council Asia (OCA) led by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah (former Minister of Oil of Kuwait and president of both the OCA and the Association of National Olympic Committees) and Lord Sebastian Coe (Life Peer of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, former Olympic Games world record holder for middle distance track events, and chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games).

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Jaworki’s address was a firm declaration of the Philippines’ resolve to stand out in sports. He reminded the sports leaders that international athletic competitions in Asia actually started in the Philippines with the Far Eastern Games. He said the 100th Anniversary of the Far Eastern Games was not only an occasion for us to prove our mettle in sports, but as a nation that was ready to rise with the rest of Asia. Jaworski also spoke as an envoy for our tourism industry when he showed off the venue of the Anniversary—the powdery white sands of Boracay.

A wish for Philippine Sports

Today marks the 100th Year Anniversary of the Far Eastern Games, the time when Filipinos first looked forward to the feats and victories of our athletes. Like Jaworski, we may also see this as time when we can revitalize our faith and aspirations for Philippine sports.

When our delegates to the 2012 London Olympics returned with no medals last year, most Filipinos were not surprised—it was as if they had expected our athletes to lose. When Manny Pacquiao, our greatest sports hero, was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, some of the most disheartening remarks came from our countrymen. There were even some who said he deserved the defeat. These discouraging words prompted kickboxing champion Jerson Estoro to post on Facebook: “Ngayon maglalabasan na naman ang mga utak talangka.”

Estoro’s observation perhaps represents how Filipino athletes feel about their countrymen. Being an athlete is a lonesome endeavor—most days are spent at the sports center, tiring and pushing one’s self without anyone knowing. What our athletes yearn for are not the ostentatious celebrations that come after winning, but the steady source of inspiration and support whether they are just training, when they winning, and even when they are losing.

In the many years after the Far Eastern Games, we have criticized different people for our losses. We have blamed athletes; we have blamed sports administrators. We have not recognized the successes they have attained despite their meager resources. In 2011, the Philippine Sports Commission received a P400 million budget to support the programs of sports associations and athletes nationwide. In contrast, our neighbor Singapore had a sports budget of P7.4 billion. Our athletes have been competing each year against opponents who receive more than ten times their financial provision.

And yet, despite this obstacle, Filipino athletes have forged on with exemplary performances though it has not been recognized. For instance not a lot of people know that our athletes and sports and administrators have been delivering great results during Cojuangco’s term as POC president. In 2005 we won for the first time the Southeast Asian Games Championship. We have also been receiving the best results in terms of medals in the Asian Games, and have attained victories in global Muay Thai and Dragon Boat competitions. It is very disheartening that their hard work and successes have not been acknowledged, let alone appreciated.

This year provides an occasion for us to show our appreciation for our athletes, and renew our belief in their ability to succeed. POC president Cojuangco is organizing a celebration for our athletes in the Hundredth Year Anniversary of the Far Eastern Games. We must take part in this event to honor them and recognize their efforts. Another way for us to show support is by joining Gawad Kalinga volunteers who are building a retirement village for them this year.

This writer’s personal wish for Philippine sports in the Hundredth Year Anniversary of the Far Eastern Championship Games, however, is perhaps harder and more important than the construction of a retirement village, or an increase in our sports budget—it is for us to cast off the “utak talangka,” for us to stand again with, and believe our athletes. Our players also need the daily pat on the back, a smile when we see them jogging on the road.

Most of us have been fans of Philippine sports for a lifetime. We have been rooting for Team Pilipinas since we watched our first basketball game on TV, the day we first saw the wide breadth of a soccer field, the instance we first laced gloves. We have placed bets on teams, argued with supporters of other countries, prayed for sports miracles as if our lives depended on it. We are part of their expedition towards glory and Olympic gold.

If there is something that we can learn from our athletes, it is that we must stay the course despite bleak odds. Despite being shorter and having less resources, our resolve and faith in them can win medals and other countries’ respect. Much like Pacquiao or Donaire, our small, plain gloves can be the center of attention in a global arena of big names and glittering lights.

‘Di lahat ng legal ay makatarungan. ‘Di lahat ng hatol ay makatotohanan. Inosente lang ang naniniwala

Sa simula ng paglilitis kay Chief Justice Renato Corona, isa ako sa mga umasang ang impeachment ay magsisilbing instrumento para maliwanagan tayo kung bakit kailangan matanggal ang punong mahistrado sa pwesto.

Umasa akong hindi lamang mailalatag ang mga ebidensiya para sa mga senador—ito rin ay maipapakita sa mga simpleng taong tulad ko.

Umasa akong kapag nagdesisyon ang Impeachment Tribunal, ito ay base sa lahat ng ebidensiyang maari nilang makalap. Samakatuwid, umasa akong ang Impeachment Tribunal ay magiging instrumento para sa katotohanan at katarungan.

Kaya naman lubos ang aking pagkabigo nang mapakinggan ang opening statement ni Dean Eduardo delos Angeles para kay Corona kung saan ipinaalala niya ang kaso ni Harry Stonehill. Si Stonehill ay isang Amerikanong negosyante na inusig ni dating Secretary of Justice Jose W. Diokno dahil sa kanyang pagsuhol sa mga opisyal ng gobyerno.

Natagpuan sa bahay ni Stonehill ang mga edidensiyang kayang magpatunay ng kanyang krimen. Kasama pa dito ang isang “blue book” kung saan nakatala ang pangalan ng mga linkod bayang nagpasuhol sa Amerikano.

Ngunit matapos ang tatlong araw, ipinagbawal ng Korte Suprema ang paggamit ng blue book at iba pang dokumento bilang ebidensiya. Si Stonehill at lahat ng mga nagpapasuhol na opisyal ay nakaiwas sa pagkaaresto. Inutusan ni dating pangulong Diosdado Macapagal si Secretary Dioko na mag-resign. Nagmalaki pa si Stonehill. “Lahat ng tao ay nababayaran,” aniya. “Ako ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas.”

Hindi tama ang nangyari sa kaso ni Stonehill; hindi ito makatarungan. Ngunit ayon sa Defense Panel ni Chief Justice Corona, ito ang batas. Ito ang legal. Ito ang hatol ng Korte Suprema.

Sa mga sumunod na araw, paulit-ulit na ipinaalala sa atin ng mga abogado ni Corona ang ganitong pag-iisip. Ang ebidensiya daw ay “immaterial.” Ang testimonya daw ay “hearsay.” Hindi ‘yan naaayon sa batas. Ako po ay nahiyang magsalita, natakot magsulat dahil ano ba ang alam ko sa batas. Hindi ako abogado at malamang babagsak ako kapag kumuha ng klase ni Sen. Miriam sa Peyups.

Ngunit sa haba ng paglilitis ay napansin ko ring ‘di naman dapat ako nananahimik. Ilang ebidensiya ang naitago at pilit na itinatago sa likod ng teknikalidad: 1) Ang mga dollar accounts ni Chief Jusitce Corona. 2) Ang kanyang privilege card sa Philippine Airlines. 3) Ang mga testimonya ng security guard ng Korte Suprema na bigla na lang naglaho mula sa holding room ng Senado. 4) Ang testimonya ng iba pang mga hukom ng Korte Suprema.

Ang batas ay hindi po laging makatarungan. Ang mga hatol ng mga korte ay hindi po laging makatotohanan. May mundong malawak sa labas ng mga kwarto ng Korte Suprema. At ang katarungan ay mas makakabuluhan sa mga teknikalidad ng batas.

Walang nakakahiya sa pagsusulong para sa makatotohanan at makatarungang paglilitis. Hindi porke’t wala tayong alam sa batas ay magpapatumpik-tumpik na tayo sa pagpapahayag ng ating mga opinyon. Inosente lang ang naniwalang hustisya ang habol ng mga abogado. Kung may kikilos pa para sa katarungan, sana tayo na iyon.

Memorandum of the Prosecutors on Article 2 of the Impeachment Complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona

The Prosecutors submitted the Memorandum on Article 2 of the Impeachment Complaint 10 AM today, January 25, 2011, to comply with the order of the Impeachment Court.

In the Memorandum, the Prosecutors said that the “charge in Article II goes far beyond mere failure on the part of Corona to mechanically file or disclose his SALN. His duty to disclose his SALN to the public necessarily implies a duty to be truthful, honest, and accurate in the sworn statements thereof (that is why the law requires the SALN to be under oath). Corona’s disclosure of a false, dishonest, and incomplete SALN is as much a betrayal of public trust as his failure to disclose his SALN.”

Please click on the link below to read the Memorandum: memo-1

The Presidential Spokesperson on the First Day of the Impeachment Trial

The case has been joined in the Senate, which has demonstrated its independence and seriousness in undertaking its constitutional duties. This early, we have seen the legalistic manner by which the defense hopes to muddle the truth and bog down the proceedings. This is merely a demonstration of how the entire apparatus of control of the Arroyos and their allies is falling apart, increasingly unable to stonewall in order to hinder the quest for the truth.

 

Having politicized the judiciary to an unprecedented level, the calling to account of the Chief Justice presents the prospect of the judiciary finally being liberated from the chains of political indebtedness and partisanship. The public has expressed every confidence in the Senate going about its duties in impeachment with fairness, undeterred and not fooled by the conspiracy theories and cheap propaganda of the Chief Justice.

 

A judiciary liberated from self-serving disregard of its obligations to the Constitution and our people will be a judiciary that will be able to contribute to political stability, economic growth, and attracting investments and creating jobs.

Impeachment Defense Opening Statement By Dean Eduardo D. delos Angeles

Your Honors,
My Countrymen:

Good afternoon.

During the past few days, Prosecutors happily displayed pictures of the Bellagio and a list of some 45 properties, supposedly owned by the Chief Justice, to create the impression that he accumulated ill-gotten wealth. In fact, the Chief Justice owns only five (5) real properties.

Yet, the Complaint, which contains eight (8) grounds for impeachment, does not accuse the Chief Justice of acquiring ill-gotten wealth. He is accused of graft and corruption only for refusing to account for the Judiciary Development Fund or JDF.  Even with regard to his statements of assets, liabilities and networth or SAL-N, the issue is whether or not the alleged failure to disclose violates the principle of accountability.

The pictures of the Bellagio and the bloated list of titles are, therefore, irrelevant to this trial.

This impeachment finds its roots in President Aquino’s fight against corruption and his perception that the Supreme Court is a hindrance to his quest. He believes that the Supreme Court protects former President Gloria Arroyo.  On the other hand, the defense believes that President Aquino is antagonistic to the Court because of its ruling in the Hacienda Luisita case.

The nobility of President Aquino’s fight against corruption cannot be questioned.  It is respectfully submitted, however, that in his fight, the President and the Executive Department are duty-bound to scrupulously observe an abiding respect for the Constitutionalrights of every one of us.

The eight (8) Articles of Impeachment can actually be classified into two (2) categories.  First, those that involve decisions of the Supreme Court (Articles I, III, IV, V, VI, VII).  And, second, those that pertain to the non-disclosure of the SAL-N of the Chief Justice, and his alleged refusal to account for the JDF.  (Articles II and VIII).

Let me first address the latter.  Complainants accuse the Chief Justice of allegedly refusing to account for the JDF.  The documentary evidence will prove the contrary.  And, with respect to his SAL-N, the defense will establish that in accordance with law, the Chief Justice annually files his SAL-N with the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court, who has legal custody of such documents.  We shall show that the Clerk of Court is restricted from disclosing the SAL-Ns by resolutions first issued during the term of Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan way back in 1989.  In light of current developments, the Chief Justice has already caused these resolutions to be included in the agenda of the Supreme Court for re-evaluation.

With respect to the decisions, the complainants made a tally of selected cases to show that the Supreme Court was biased.  This is not so.  First, it is not fair to handpick decisions that supposedly favor the Arroyo Administration; all the decisions of the Supreme Court must be considered.  Second,  there are several decisions against the former President and her administration.  For example,  in Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines v. Office of the Executive Secretary, the Chief Justice himself penned the decision declaring former President Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 46 null and void.  Third, in any decision, the Supreme Court always bases its judgment on sound legal grounds.

Take the case of the Truth Commission.  The defense will establish that the Supreme Court was not biased towards the Arroyo Administration.  Aming ipapakita na tama ang desisyon dito.  Nilabag ng Executive Order No. 1 ang Equal Protection Clause dahil ang pag-imbestiga kay Ginang Arroyo ang  tanging layunin ng Truth Commission.  Moreover, the Supreme Court even suggested a cure for the defect by not limiting the probe to the Arroyo Administration.  But the Executive Department stubbornly refused to adopt such a simple amendment.

The defense will also explain that when the Supreme Court issued a TRO enjoining Secretary Leila de Lima from enforcing her Watchlist Order, the Supreme Court acted in accordance with the Constitution and jurisprudence.  Hukuman po lamang ang maaaring magbigay ng Hold Order kapag mayroon nang na-isampang criminal case.  Ngunit, noong panahong iyon, wala pang na-isasampang criminal case si Secretary de Lima laban kay Ginang Arroyo kahit, bago pa dito, matagal nang naghain ng reklamo ang Akbayan for Plunder.  Bakit naman po natin sisnisisi si Chief Justice?  Di po ba’t malinaw na ang Executive Department ang may pagkukulang sa kaso ni Ginang Arroyo?

I remember a Secretary of Justice who aimed to rid our country of corruption.  His name is Jose W. Diokno. He secured several search warrants and raided the offices and homes of Harry Stonehill, a rich American businessman who was alleged to have bribed government officials.  To set an example, Secretary Diokno sought to prosecute Mr. Stonehill.  Using the search warrants, the raiding teams seized truck-loads of incriminating documents, including a “blue book” containing the names of the bribed government officials.  Yet, after three (3) days, the Supreme Court issued a TRO preventing Secretary Diokno from using all the seized documents.  Tulad ng marami, nagtaka ako: paano ito nangyari?  After I read the decision penned by Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, I understood. The decision explained that the search warrants were void and the seized documents inadmissible in evidence because the warrants did not specify the things to be seized, as required by the Constitution.

The Stonehill case is strikingly similar to the crusade of President Aquino. In both, there are crusading officials who want to eliminate corruption.  In both, the public overwhelmingly support these officials.  In both, the officials unfortunately transgressed the Constitution.  And, in both, the Supreme Court stepped in and issued adverse and unpopular decisions because its task is to always uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The House also complains that the Chief Justice betrayed the public trust when the Supreme Court decided on the cityhood of sixteen (16) municipalities, the creation of a new district in Camarines Sur, and the conversion of the Dinagat Island into a province.  Aba, nakakalimutan na yata nila na sila ang nag-likha nitong mga batas na ito.  Now that the Supreme Court has upheld what they did, sila pa ang nagagalit at nagmamadaling mag-sampa ng impeachment case laban kay Chief Justice.  Ano bang kalokohan ‘yan?

At eto pa po.  Sabi nila this impeachment is not against the Supreme Court, but aimed to make the Chief Justice accountable for his personal actions.  All decisions are, however, rendered by the Supreme Court, never by the Chief Justice alone.  Isa lamang ang boto ng Chief Justice at hindi niya kontrolado ang ibang mga mahistrado.  Each Justice votes according to his oown opinion. Taliwas sa sinasabi nila Congressman Tupas, wala pong voting bloc dito.

Your Honors, in performing its responsibility under the Constitution, the Supreme Court, as a co-equal branch of government, is now being assaulted and criticized.  It is our humble submission that in upholding the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice cannot be considered as obstacles to clean government, or to the President’s vision to realize his “daang matuwid”.  In upholding the Constitution and in safeguarding individual rights, the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice cannot be considered the enemies of the people.  Precisely, they protect individual rights and, therefore, do not betray the public trust.

Today, the House of Representatives and the Executive Department have joined all their might,  power and resources to impeach the Chief Justice. This impeachment sends a chilling threat to the Supreme Court, to withhold the exercise of its judicial power and just let the President have his way. Unfortunately, his obsessive pursuit of his goal has, at times, resulted in the infringement of the law. It has also brought the branches of government into collision, and now it divides the nation.  During this crucial moment in history, we fervently pray that you, our Honorable Senators, will listen,  consider the evidence and, as your solemn oath declares, do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws of the Philippines.

May God bless us all.

Opening Statement of Lead Prosecutor Rep. Neil Tupas

As public servants, we took an oath to uphold the people’s will at all times. All who hold positions in the government of our Republic are accountable for their actions.  For the power of the sovereign Filipino people is a power that is higher than the Executive, the Legislative or even the Judiciary.  And therefore, no matter how high and mighty one’s position may be, one can never, ever be beyond public accountability.

Today, we lay down before this impeachment tribunal the product of the collective voice of the people.  Impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona for betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, and for graft and corruption is the verdict in the House of Representatives. By issuing such verdict, we took the first step to accomplish our oath as the keepers of the people’s trust.

Let me be clear: We are not here to indict the Supreme Court as an institution, or to do battle with the judicial branch of government. We are here to search for the truth so as to restore the strength and independence of the judiciary.  We are here because one man – Chief Justice Renato Corona — has bartered away for a pot of porridge the effectiveness, the independence, and the honor of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Senate President, your honors, one very important question before this honorable impeachment tribunal is, by what standards should Renato Corona be judged?

You only have to look at the Supreme Court itself to know the answer. As you climb its steps, you will see two statues.  One of these statues is of Cayetano Arellano, the first Chief Justice, a man of absolute integrity, and of the deepest legal wisdom. The other is of Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, who viewed his oath so sacred, and loved his country so deeply, he preferred to die at the hands of the Japanese rather than betray his country.

The Supreme Court itself, then, views the position of Chief Justice as beyond politics, beyond personal considerations, and always about putting honor and justice ahead of every other consideration.  *Pagkatao po ang ating pinag-uusapan dito*. The Code of Judicial Conduct demands that a judge must be like Caesar’s wife – someone who must not only be pure but must be beyond suspicion at all times. Therefore, a Justice must be judged according to the highest standards. Against such standards, we then ask: Who is Chief Justice Corona?  What kind of a man is he? *Ano po ba ang pagkatao ni Renato Corona?*

Chief Justice Renato Corona was a loyal servant to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the time she became Vice-President in 1998 until she became President in 2001. Such loyalty had numerous rewards for the Chief Justice.  Imagine, GMA paid for his back surgery.  His wife was given plum positions in the John Hay Management Corporation. He was appointed Associate Justice, and the best reward of all, against all odds, he took a midnight oath as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Corona’s appointment as Chief Justice also served an immoral purpose: that of shielding GMA from prosecution for her misdeeds during her presidency. The prosecution will show how Chief Justice Corona became the crowning glory of the cast of accomplices of former President Arroyo, and how he protected GMA’s interest in exchange for his position of prestige and power.  This is at the heart of Article 1 of the Impeachment Complaint.

This unholy alliance between Chief Justice Corona and GMA, and Corona’s deep indebtedness to the former President culminated in the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enable GMA and her husband to leave the country, and escape accountability. This is Article 7, Corona’s biggest favor yet to his benefactor. And in Article 4, we will show how the Chief Justice intervened in the impeachment case against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez also to protect GMA.

In Articles 3 and 5, we will show the lack of moral fitness of Chief Justice Renato Corona when he committed acts of impropriety involving parties with pending cases in the Supreme Court. His mockery of the disciplinary institutions of the Supreme Court in the plagiarism charge against a Supreme Court Associate Justice will be proven in Article 6.  And in Article 8, we will show how he failed to account for the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and the Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ), funds which are managed by the Chief Justice.  *Malinaw po: Kung gusto natin ng hustisya, hindi na dapat ipagkatiwala kay Chief Justice Corona ang pinakamataas na pwesto sa hudikatura.*

* *

And finally, we come to Article 2 where the prosecution will prove that Chief Justice Renato Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth after he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002.  To give you an idea of this article, let me present to you some of the prized pieces of the Corona crown jewels:

1. Spanish Bay Tower, Bonifacio Ridge, acquired October 14, 2005, purchase
price Php9,159,940;

2. McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, acquired October 21, 2008,
purchase price Php6,196,575;

3. Bellagio I Tower, Taguig, acquired December 2009, purchase price of
Php14,510,225;

4. The Columns, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, acquired in 2004;

5. One Burgundy Plaza – the building where Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had a
penthouse unit while she was Vice-President – acquired in 2003, purchase
price Php2,758,000; and

6. Number 57 Maranao Street, La Vista, acquired in 2003, zonal valuation
Php20.4 million, sold to his daughter for Php18 million.

The governing principle of our laws is clear: unexplained discrepancy between an official’s income and his assets, declared or undeclared, is *prima facie *evidence of ill-gotten wealth, and therefore, is an impeachable crime of graft and corruption.

The process of accountability is always a painful one. But the legislature is tasked by no less than the Constitution, the very expression of the people’s will, to undertake this sacred duty.  And if at this instance, this is how we are called upon to be of service to our country, impeach we must.  Mr. Senate President, your honors, we submit that Renato Corona, by his misdeeds, is unfit to remain Chief Justice.

In closing, the message of the House, as the representatives of the people, is the same as that given by Oliver Cromwell when he dismissed England’s Long Parliament on April 20 of 1653. Before God and country, we say: “It is high time for us to put an end to your sitting in that place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice, you are an enemy to good government, as you have sold your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas Escariot betrayed your God for a few pieces of gold. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Thank you and good afternoon.

Chief Justice Corona Impeachment is Acid Test for Online Reportage

I am visiting a friend at the Senate today, and have decided to take the opportunity to blog about the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It’s only been five minutes and already I’ve encountered a number of political creatures like Adel Tamano and former Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party representative Risa Hontiveros. I also caught a glimpse of Juana Change leading a rally of sorts outside the GSIS building.

The multitudes who have taken time off work to rally against Corona here, and those who support him at the Supreme Court demonstrates how people can take a political issue personally. My own appreciation of the issue is that it is putting every foundation of our democracy through the acid test not merely of public opinion, but of integrity and accountability.

Today’s impeachment trial is remarkable not only because it supposedly tries an Arroyo ally, but also because this is the first time that a Supreme Court chief justice is actually being put through an accountability process. Elected officials endure impeachments and elections, which is also a test of one’s trustworthiness.  Cabinet secretaries are always tested by senate investigations. However, for the longest time it seemed as if the Supreme Court is invincible to any process that would ensure its probity.

That, if proven guilty, even the highest judicial officer of the Philippines can still be made to answer for transgressions is the most encouraging sign.

But Corona is not the only one being tested today. The Senate will also be tested as to how it will decide based on the evidences presented. The House of Representatives will have to prove the merit of its impeachment complaint. And the Executive will have to show restraint and respect for the other branches of government, and let the impeachment run its natural course.

I see this also as an acid test for online reportage. The Corona trial have opened other discussions, and one that I am keenly looking at is the perception of University of Santo Tomas (UST) professors—and journalists from traditional media—that online reportage is reckless and inept in meeting the standards of journalism. One of my UST professors presented some valid questions on Facebook. “Is online journalism really the future of journalism?,” he asked. “What are its rules? What is it needed?”

His inquiry and ideas carry weight, but we also cannot deny that professionals in traditional media have likewise failed in upholding their lofty journalism standards. A number of people actually believe that Rappler is more credible and less vulnerable to sensationalism and politicking than TV Patrol.  But of course we cannot only give readers a choice between Korina Sanchez and Maritess Vitug, and say that’s the best we can provide. Online needs to step up.  We are not only in the hot seat because of that UST statement, but because we really are the future of news reportage.

The emergence of the Internet practically forces every journalist to go online or face the consequences of having your story read only 24 hours after people have read about it on Facebook. Simply put, you either go online or become irrelevant.

I feel also that online reportage is not yet as corrupted and subservient to political and capitalist interest as television, the broadsheets, and the radio. Majority of online writers have managed to maintain their impartiality, and this is something we must continue and even improve upon. Online communicators will also be called to be anointers of Truth in this momentous trial that carries inconceivable political and legal repercussions. It is an opportunity for us to prove that we can provide relevant and unprejudiced reportage on this trial because every word we write means the difference between a reader who is misinformed or one who has been provided sufficient knowledge and insights to make one’s own opinion on Corona and the impeachment. Twenty minutes before the trial, and it’s time for us to step up. Time for us to blog.

People Power to provide poor with sustainable livelihoods

Business leaders, microentrepreneurs, and NGO workers will gather at the NBC Tent, Fort Bonifacio, Global City from Feb. 22-23 to celebrate the work of the private sector in providing poverty-stricken Filipinos with livelihood opportunities, and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.
The “People-Powered Markets” exhibit will also serve as venue for the participants to discuss and plan how to build on the work of companies and microfinance institutions in engaging enterprising Filipinos in poor communities and empowering them with funds, training, and outlets for their products.
The exhibit will be opened by President Benigno Aquino III.  Among the business leaders who will attend the event are Philippine Long Distance Company chair Manny V. Pangilinan,  Philippine Investment Management, Inc. president and chief executive officer Ramon del Rosario,  and renowned accountant-philanthropist  Washington Sycip.
“We seek to bring about a People Power to transform the market into an instrument for shared progress for all Filipinos,” said Dan Songco, president and chief executive officer of the PinoyME Foundation, a key organizer of the exhibit.
“I am inviting all Filipinos who believe that we can bring growth to our lives and to society through hard work and unity. The exhibit will not only show models on how we can participate in supporting microentrepreneurs, but also share knowledge and encouragement for people to start their own microenterprises,” said Rapa Lopa, the favorite nephew of former President Corazon Aquino and president of the Ninoy and Cory Foundation, a partner in organizing the exhibit.
PinoyME
People-Powered Markets also marks the 5th Year Anniversary of PinoyME, which was started by Cory Aquino in 2006 with the aim of reducing poverty by championing microenterprise and microfinance. In one of her last speeches, the People Power icon urged Filipinos to join PinoyME in its mission.
“Over the past year, I have been inspired by the noble work of microfinance institutions which have reached out to the entrepreneurial poor, giving them the means to uplift their lives through honest and hard work. To many of us, livelihood loans of P1,000 to P10,000 may not mean much, but to those outside the fringes of the mainstream economy, these are vital in tiding them over from day to day. The small but steady income from their micro-enterprises makes it possible for them to eat decent meals, to  send their children to school and to nurture dreams of a better life,” Aquino said.
In a mere five years, PinoyME has established itself as a driving force in different microfinance and microenterprise areas.   Today, it is more than a source for funds; it has stimulated more academic research on microfinance, gathered information experts to help automate microfinance institutions, and helped microentrepreneurs find outlets for their products. Not surprisingly, its growth has coincided with the advancement of microfinance in the country. Microfinance now reaches more than 5 million Filipinos through the services of 500 microfinance institutions with a combined portfolio of P12 billion.
Value chains that work for the people
PinoyME has not been alone in efforts to promote microenterprise as poverty reduction tool. There have been various allies–from companies and universities to microfinance institutions and consolidators. The unity of these institutions to support microentrepreneurs will be showcased as  “value chains that work for the people.”
A value chain is a physical representation of the various processes that are involved in producing goods. For instance, there is a chain between Jollibee Foods Corporations and farmers from Nueva Ecija and Bukidnon. Jollibee partners with the farmers for its requirement of fresh ingredients like onions and bell peppers. However, the two would not have been able to transact without the collaboration of The Catholic Relief Service Philippines (CRS), which promotes market-driven strategies to facilitate farmers’ participation in the mainstram market, the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC), a government corporation mandated to provide for the credit needs of farmers, and the Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), a microfinance insitution that directly delivers the funds to the farmers cooperative. The chain hence is not merely between Jollibee and the farmers, but also includes CRS, NLDC, and ASKI.
Labeled by Lopa as a “reverse trade fair”, the exhibit is innovative in the sense that it allows microentrepreneurs to learn of ways of doing business with established companies by being part of their value chain. This is an inversion of the traditional trade fair wherein microentrepreneurs market their goods to the companies and to consumers.
“On the other hand, businessmen can learn from these models and say ‘I want to use this model to meet my requirements and also help out the people in my community. Or a NGO could say ‘I want to be part of this value chain and organize people into a cooperative so they can meet the delivery requirements of a company’,” said Songco.
“These are not just value chains but models of People Power. In a sense that is what we are celebrating and what we want to bring about more–People Power that has transcended the political and that makes a direct impact in the lives of people,” Lopa added.
People-Powered Markets will also feature product development clinics on niche marketing and seminars on how to partner with companies by being part of the value chain. Admission is free. For more information on PinoyME, please visit the website http://www.pinoyme.com/.