DND

Former DND Secretary Angelo Reyes commits suicide (updated)

ANC reported that former Defense and Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes shot himself in the chest and was taken to Quirino Memorial Medical Center in QC.  He was brought to the hospital at 7:45 AM.   Doctors were unable to revive the former Secretary of National Defense.

Angelo Reyes was rushed to the hospital, and declared dead on arrival.  According to ANC’s interview with Health Secretary Ona, when Reyes arrived at the hospital, he didn’t have any blood pressure, cold and bloody with no vital signs.

Noel Alamar (of ABS-CBN) quotes Manalo (PNP) as saying Reyes shot himself in the chest and was rushed to the hospital by his bodyguard.”  The former defense chief reportedly visited his mother’s tomb, then shot himself.

Witnesses say, Mr. Reyes was with two of his children and two aides at the time of his suicide.  He asked them to step away, then shot himself.

@nerveending tweeted, “I read once in a suicide profile that those who fall of fail from a high position most likely to commit suicide.”

Twitterverse was shocked by the death of Secretary Reyes.  @yuriandre tweeted, “Angelo Reyes dead? OMG! I believe there’s bigger money involved in this AFP #plunder scandal.”

The plot thickens,” @momblogger added.

Partylist Representative Teddy Casino remarked, “Reyes’ suicide will cast a shadow over today’s House hearing.  Don’t know how this will affect those attending.”

Jiggy Cruz tweeted, “Oh wow… Just read about Angelo Reyes… Let’s pray for him and his family…”

Transcript of BSAIII's answers at Youth 2010: Bumoto Para sa Pagbabago

Transcript of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino’s answers at Youth 2010: Bumoto Para sa Pagbabago, ANC Presidential Youth Forum, January 29, 2010, De La Salle University-Manila

Transcript of Answers at the DLSU Youth Forum

Question from Ingga Bianca Sobreikerri of St. Scholastica’s College

Ingga Bianca Sobreikerri: Senator, kayo po ba ay sang-ayon sa Reproductive Health Bill at paano po ninyo ilulunsad at ipaliliwanag sa ating mga kababayan ang ganitong batas gayong ang inyong pamilya ay kilala bilang maka-Diyos?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Ang posisyon po namin ay tinatawag na responsible parenthood, ang statistics po namin ay ganito, ang sabi po kanina ng isa nating katunggali wala po tayong population problem. I think we will all agree that if you at one parameter for instance education, there is a problem in classrooms anywhere from 20 to 40 thousand, we are not already able to meet the needs of the people who are already here and that responsible parenthood basically says each parent should be reminded, ipaalala natin sa bawat magulang may dinala kayong anak sa mundong ito, mayroon kayong obligasyon na paaralin, pakainin, may tirahan na maayos, damitan at iba pa.

Hindi po puwdeng bahala na kung ano ang mangyari dun sa anak, yun lang po ang minumungkahi namin. Ngayon po, ano ang solusyon po diyan? Mayroon po tayong educational campaign na ipapaalala po itong mga responsibilidad na ito, yung paghuhubog ng konsensiya at yung values po, iniimbitahan po natin ang bawat isang simbahan na maki-lahok at ibahagi yung kanilang mga pagtu-turo para maliwanagan yung paghuhubog ng konsensiya, nasa atin pong Saligang Batas na mayroon pong separation of Church and State, tayo ay isang demokratikong bansa, hindi po marapat na ang gobyerno po natin ay magdi-dikta sa sinoman kung ilan ang anak na dapat nilang dalhin sa mundo, kung paano nila pa-planuhin ang kanilang pamilya, pero mayroon pong obligasyon nandiyan po sa Saligang Batas na ang gobyerno, ipaalala sa bawat isa na mayroon po tayong tungkulin sa pamilya na nagiging “nuclear family” o susi sa lahat ng pagre-resolba sa lahat ng ating problema.

Huling paalala lang po, noong EDSA po, mayroon tayong humigit kumulang 50 milyon katao,ngayon po ay nasa 93 hanggang 97 ang tinatayang mga mamamayang Pilipino. Geometric ang progression sa population at kung tayo ay parang walang nakikita, walang sasabihin at walang naririnig, siguro po yung mga bata na hindi na nagkakaroon pagkakatong matunghayan ay lalong hindi magkakaroon ng pagkakataon kung tayo’y patuloy na mananahimik.

Questions from a panel of De La Salle University-Manila students

Panel member: Sa pagpasa ng batas ukol sa contractual employment sa mga kumpanya, paano po ninyo ire-resolba ang mga issue ng security of tenure o employment sa ating bansa?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Yun nga po ang problema, contractualization does not have security of tenure that there will be mutually exclusive, ang tanong nga po dito, mayroong kontrang isyu po dun yung comparative advantage natin versus other countries, labor lang po for the most part ang ating dear value added, tapos we’re pricing ourselves out of the market, yung aming plataporma, stresses education and education enhances the skills, the skills and job potentials that will open up because of an enhance and more skill full labor force hopefully will ensure the tenure and potentials for having meaningfull and dignified jobs here in the country and as well as abroad.

Gusto kong sugpuin ang “contractualization” at the same time ayoko namang patayin yung mga negosyo na kakaunti na lamang nandiyan na ang dami na nga pong lumikas sa ating bansa, wala naman ho talagang makikita sa solution sa extreme positions, saan ba yung happy compromise dito? Natutugunan yung kapakanan ng mga manggagawa, natutugunan din naman yung pangangailangan ng mga negosyo para maka-compete sa global market, huwag po nating kalimutan malapit na po tayong ma-obliga under various treaties na magbukas ng ating mga pinto sa dayuhang mga kalakal at mga produkto, so kailangan na po tayong maka-laban sa ating domestic market at mangyayari po yan, kung talagang naka-focus, yung isa po saking mga panukalang batas yung kung paano ibalik yung konspeto ng bawat kompanya na ang pananawa dapat ay hindi kayo o kami kapag nagtutugunan at nag-uusap ang management at labor pero bumalik tayo dun sa tayo, kompanya natin ito, paano natin palalaguin ito? Ang mga minungkahi natin dito ay yung productivity incentive.

Panel member: Sinabi po ninyo sa inyong palatastas na hindi po kayo magnanakaw, pero paano naman po ang ibang opisyal? Ang taong ko po, mayroon na po kayong nagawang kongkretong mga paraan bilang isang mambabatas para siguraduhing mahuli at mapanagutan ng mga ahensiya o mga opisyal na napatunayang nagnakaw sa kaban ng bayan o naging kasama sa katiwalian?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Salamat sa tanong mo, palagay ko naman hindi ka absent nung nandoon tayo sa mga ZTE hearing, nandoon tayo kasama sa impeachment, nagtatanong tama ba yung paratang dun sa hello Garci, among other things, kasama ako sa impeachment for that matter, sinubukan narin nating iwasto yung sistema, doon sa AFP, DND budget, pagka-tagal tagal, 1974 pa po, hindi po subject to public bidding yung kanilang paggugol ng budget na yun, isang taon po ay umabot ng P1.8 billion ang tinatayang savings is between 5 to 10 percent, we could have saved a hundred and 80 million and devoted it to something else. Pero ang dulo po nun, I think I have proposed an amendment accepted to GAA for something like 9 or 10 budget seasons already kaya lang pinapalusutan at ginagawaan ng paraan para magkaroon ng failure of bidding, ang dami pa po nating ginawa, na hindi lang tayo naging interesadong itaas yung sarili nating bangko dahil tumutugon lang po ako sa ipangako ko na paglilikungkuran ang taong bayan, hindi ko na kailangan pang ipagmalakihan pa kung ano iyong ating nagawa.

Questions from Ted Failon, host of the forum

Ted Failon: Mayroon bang nagawa si Pangulong Arroyo na dapat niyang panagutan pagkatapos ng kanyang term?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Sa akin po pananaw, YES. Ang problema po dito….

Ted Failon: Kung YES sa paano pong paraan?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Dapat po magkaroon tayo ng closure sa lahat ng issues, ang issue nga po dito yung kulang ng transparency, mayroon po tayo for instance yung fertilizer scam na kalian naimbestigahan, 4 years after the crime was committed, kailangang may katiyakan sa kaparusahan, kung tao po ay hindi mamamansin dito sa mga issues na walang closure, para narin nating sinabi na ituloy natin itong sistema na mali sa atin pong palagay. Paano natin hahabulin yan? Nandiyan po ang ating mga korte, nandiyan po yung ating mga investigative arms, pero may obligasyon din naman tayo na protektahan ang karapatan ng lahat, dahil sabi nga po ng aking ama, yung pagtatanggol sa karapatan lalo ng kalaban mo ang talagang batayan kung talagang may demokrasya o wala, yun po ang hahabulin natin. Pangako ko po ay closure on all of the issues, kailangan pong magkaroon ng resolution kung sino ang may kasalanan ay kailangang may tiyak na kaparusahan.

Ted Failon: Ginoong Aquino, ano po kaya ang pinakamabigat na isyu na dapat nyang panagutan?

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Napakahaba po ng listahan, baka kulangin po tayo.

Ted Failon: Isa lang po.

Senator Noynoy Aquino: I think she has destroyed a lot of institutions that we have replied upon to have a vibrant and functional democracy. Ang dami na hong nagkwestiyon. Pati simbahan kinukwestyon. Pati ang ating mga korte nakukwestiyon. Dulo po nito, may gagawing kasalanan, sasabihing sagot pulitika lamang at parati hong nabibinbin na malaman natin ang katotohanan. Tuloy yung dapat mali ay tila sa ating pananaw ay naging sistema na. Naging syang palakad at kalakal po sa ating bansa na talagang nagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan.

Closing statement

Senator Noynoy Aquino: Magandang hapon ho sa lahat. Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa pagkakataong ito. Palagay ko po ang pinuno, klaro ang mga posisyon sa lahat po ng isyu. Mahirap po sundan kung pabago-bago o naliligaw paminsan-minsan at bumabaliktad ang kanyang mga desisyon. Sa katanungang mayroon bang kasalanan si G. Arroyo, dapat mayroon tayong paninindigan. Tama o mali ikaw ang mag didikta sa buong gobyerno kung uusigin o hindi. Pag tayo po ay sasagot na nakakakaba ng konti, bakit ang unang papasok sa ating kaisipan ay hindi ko idedepensa ang sagot ng isang katunggali. Bakit ho depensa kaagad kung gayong nasa oposisyon sya? Kailangan ho suriin natin kung ano ang pinanggalingan natin, dahil sinasabi ng lahat, marami ang mali sa kasalukuyang sistema. Tayo ho ba ay nagpanatili sa sistemang yun o tinututulan natin yung mali? Pakitingnan po ang aming mga record. Maraming salamat sa lahat.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

BSAIII action plan on peace and development in Mindanao

Aquino-Roxas Mindanao Peace and Development Agenda

Action Plan on Peace and Development in Mindanao

Peace and Security

Transparent and consultative peace process

Workable peace is possible only if supported by a broad, active and informed peace constituency.

  • I will assume direct responsibility for the revival of the peace process with the MILF.
  • I will reconstitute the peace panel with men and women of integrity who will directly report to me. There was a time when the peace process was doing well until the Arroyo Government began to use the peace negotiation as prop to political survival. I will see counsel from peace advocates like former OPAPP Secretary Deles, Peace Panel Head Afable and former Notre Dame University President, Fr. Mercado to put back on track the credibility needed in the peace process.
  • I will ensure the participation of various Mindanao stakeholders – Muslims, Lumad, Christian settlers – in the negotiating panels and working groups;
  • I will create a niche for the participation of other Muslim “gatekeepers” particularly traditional and LGU leaders, MNLF, the Ulama, Bangsamoro civil society.
  • Request the Bishops-Ulama Conference to submit a report on the results of the consultations it conducted in the aftermath of the failed MOA-AD; likewise with all known civil society organizations and academic institutions which undertook similar consultations or researches in the past year, such as the University Network on the Mindanao Question led by the UP School of Law, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, and the Al Mujadilah Foundation.

The results of all these processes should be collated, with key points of agreement and contention identified for inputting into the peace mechanism, as appropriate. On this basis, a mechanism should be devised for these groups to participate in the continuing dialogue on and monitoring of their recommendations.

MNLF

  • I will immediately convene the Oversight Committee on the Organic Act on Muslim Mindanao (RA 9054) and complete a review and assessment of the implementation of the law. I will issue an Executive Order reviving/extending the function of the Oversight Committee, which was last convened before 2004 and which never completed its task, and impose a deadline for the completion of its work.
  • I will order the Department of Foreign Affairs, with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to give a report on the tripartite review of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement and cull the “immediate doable” measures that government can undertake.
  • I will order an inventory of the backlog on assistance to MNLF rebel returnees, as the basis for determining the requirements and timetable for addressing the gap and closing the existing program, while a new program is crafted in cooperation with concerned LGUs and approximating the international standards on DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation) of former combatants.

Indigenous People

  • We will review the recent appointment of the Commission to ensure they are in accordance with the law and rationalize the NCIP plantilla to professionalize the bureaucracy to do its mandate under the law, including the delineation of ancestral domains (AD) and support the development of the Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP).
  • I will work with IP communities and all land and resource-management related agencies for a thorough review of all Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs), and Certificates of Free Prior and Informed Consent (CFPICs) issued towards weeding out those issued defectively, fast-tracking decisions on all pending applications, and providing support for development and implementation of the ADRMP for areas covered by CADTs.
  • I will ensure basic education, health, and sanitation facilities and services for IP communities.
  • I will look into the immediate situation of security of IP communities in areas of ongoing armed conflict.

Internally Displaced Families

Families displaced by conflict will receive full support to be able to return to their communities of origin, if they so desire.

  • I will put up a compensatory fund which will provide shelter, food and livelihood assistance to enable the estimated 30,000 internally displaced families to return to their homes.

Lawless and Criminal Elements

I will dismantle private armies and take a firm hand against all forms of lawlessness

  • I will ensure the prosecution of all identified perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre. I am aware that the families of the victims and witnesses of the crime are vulnerable to harassment as well as bribes to weaken the case. I will ensure that families of the victims and witnesses of the crime will receive adequate protection and support as they work for justice.
  • The Maguindanao massacre was not just a local Maguindanao problem. It was abetted by the national government with government policies and resources. DND should submit immediately the result of its investigation and inventory of the arms and ammunition confiscated from the Ampatuans and identify civilian and military leaders responsible for the build up of arsenal of the Ampatuans.
  • I will revoke EO546. Never again will public funds be used to support and maintain a private security force.
  • KFR incidents are national security concerns. I will commit full budgetary support to PACER in establishing and implementing an anti-kidnapping strategy in Mindanao; provide full support for the filing of charges against suspected perpetrators, including full protection for released victims and their families.
  • Under my watch, I will ensure that all security forces will be insulated from partisan politics. I will implement the Defense Reform Program started by former DND Secretary Nonong Cruz which aimed to build a professional AFP. A professional AFP along with a professional PNP committed solely to defend the constitution and uphold the law is the key to the dismantling of private armies and implementing the gun control. All forms of excuses for self-protection can be abandoned only when citizens trust state security forces.
  • We will aim to improve the ratio of security forces to our growing population.
  • All appointments in the AFP and PNP will be based on merit and performance.
  • Forces on the ground will be provided with adequate provisions, equipment and training to be able to discharge their duties effectively.

Governance

Performance Incentives

Setting National Policy: Performance- and outcome-driven over-investments in education, health, and employment interventions.

  • I will match every peso invested by 4th and 5th class LGUs in basic education, maternal and child health care and potable water and latrines.
  • Moreover, I will provide additional support to performing LGU’s so they can fast track filling the gaps in attaining targets for their education, health and sanitation programs. In education I will support LGU efforts to attain 100% basic education enrolment, lowering dropout rates and increasing completion rates.

Transparent and proper use of public funds

I will ensure that all fund releases to all LGUs will be transparent and its utilization fully accounted for.

  • I will support DBM’s effort started by former Secretary Emilia Boncodin in regularly publishing and disseminating all releases to the LGUs.
  • I commend COA for their fearless reports which exposed politically sensitive cases such as the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam. I will ensure adequate support to state auditors for proper and accurate audit reports. And their reports will not end in filing cabinets. The OP will take the necessary action on irregularities in the COA reports.

Free and honest elections

I will ensure free, honest and orderly elections.

  • I will release the Mayuga Report to make public the findings on the role of the military in the controversial 2004 elections.
  • On the next ARMM election in 2011, I will install measures that will hold paramount the will of the people of ARMM. The military and the police will remain strictly politically neutral. They will ensure that the election is clean, orderly and peaceful.

Development

Infrastructure

To transform Mindanao into modern agricultural center and the nation’s food basket.

I will address infrastructure gap in farm to market roads, irrigation and post harvest facilities.

Corollary to this, to substantially reduce post-harvest losses, post-harvest facilities will be provided to Mindanao corn, coconut and rice farmers while processing facilities will be made available to coastal fishers and aquaculturists.

Additional irrigated farms will raise cropping intensity and hence productivity contributing in the process to the attainment of the goal of self-sufficiency for specific commodities and bolstering export-competitiveness for others.

  • During my term, I will improve its total road network by bringing its current paved road ratio closer to the national average. This will lower transport costs and post-harvest losses.
  • Corn driers will be priority of DA under my watch. Every 1,000 hectares of corn land will be serviced by at least 1 corn drier.
  • Irrigation coverage will be expanded. Mindanao has about 700,000 hectares of farms that need irrigation. We will expand irrigation facilities to service half of the area by the end of my term, subject to sound cost-benefit analysis.

Public Investment

In areas of Mindanao where private investors are hesitant to invest due to high risk and uncertainty, my administration will establish state enterprises that will partner with potential private investors or extend guarantees to them to spread the risks. The purpose is to generate investments in these areas as a way of jump-starting economic activities and providing employment opportunities so direly needed in these communities. This will be the government’s direct assault on breaking the vicious cycle of lack of jobs, resulting to greater poverty, in turn partly fuelling the conflict, leading to lack of investments and lack of jobs.

  • Among my priority will be government investment in the development of the Halal Industry. This, first and foremost, will answer the essential need of Filipino Muslims for access to food and non-food products that is consistent with their faith. This will also enable local producers, Muslims and non-Muslims, to partake of the multi-billion dollar world halal market.
  • I will encourage investments in our energy sector to tap more diverse sources of power and lower the cost of energy in the long term. In the short term, I will support moves to mitigate the effects of the power crisis such as:
    • Leasing power barges
    • Contracting additional generating capacity through cooperatives and private utilities
    • Allowing the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to use ancillary services such as the contracting of back-up generating capacity
    • Promoting demand side management

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Manifestation of BSAIII at the joint session of Congress on martial law

Manifestation of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III at the joint session of Congress on martial law, December 14, 2009

Manifestation at the Joint Session on Martial Law

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, the President lifted the proclamation of martial law. Under different circumstances or perhaps if done by a judicious President, her act should have calmed the public groping for answers as to whether there was an existing rebellion at the time of the proclamation. But her act has raised more questions that need to be answered.

We join the condemnation of the massacre of 57 Filipinos in Maguindanao. Condemnation is not enough. We need to unearth the conditions that allowed such a crime in order to prevent a recurrence.

If we are to remain committed to the constitutional principles upon which the whole fiber of a just and orderly society rests, it behooves us to continue to inquire as to the factual basis of the declaration of martial law.

Was there truly a legal basis for declaring martial law in Maguindanao?

Was the restoration of peace and order the real reason for the imposition of martial law or are there other reasons yet unseen?

Was it to instill fear, given the very negative connotations of martial law?

Was there actual, not just impending, rebellion?

Was martial law imposed to cover up the discovery of DND/PNP arms and ammunition proving government support for the warlords that have delivered questionable election victories to this administration in the past?

Was it to enforce such overwhelming control to prevent any leakage of information and suppress evidence of electoral fraud and other crimes?

Was it meant to re-establish control of the alleged massive electoral fraud machinery in time for the 2010 elections?

Was this a test case for implementing martial law rule in the entire country?

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, the people deserve an answer, an explanation of the circumstances that led the administration to resort to this action. The joint session of Congress was the ideal venue for providing the needed enlightenment. Let the people’s voice be heard and indeed, it is through us that they will be heard. Let us not shirk from our responsibility, lest we transform ourselves into a passive accomplice of this administration’s penchant for constitutional defiance.

The President’s action has deprived Congress of its constitutional mandate to exercise oversight on how martial law powers are wielded.

Some claim that with the lifting of the proclamation of martial law in Maguindanao our constitutional duty in this whole exercise have become moot and academic. But as elected representatives of the people it is within our constitutional duty to ensure that this historic convening of both chambers of Congress will not be an exercise in futility.

It is for this reason, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, that this representation urges both chambers to create a jointly appointed Independent Commission that will study and come up with recommendations to Congress in aid of legislation as to clearly define the conditions that would warrant the declaration of martial law, a definition of how the Commander-In-Chief should exercise martial law powers and to provide guidance to the Congress in the exercise of its oversight function over this presidential prerogative.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Bayan Muna on GMA's plot: From No-El to Oplan Rafael

Bayan Muna on GMA’s plot: From No-El to Oplan Rafael
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Militant party-list group Bayan Muna yesterday disclosed the Arroyo administration’s purported plan to stay in power, this time through what it called “Oplan Rafael” or Retain Arroyo through Failure of Elections, replacing the previous “No Election (No-El)” scenario.

“The game plan of election operators within the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines has already changed from No-El to Rafael,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said.

He accused Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales of hatching Rafael himself after divulging plans of some groups to cheat in the elections on May 10.

“Rather than a postponement of the elections, the scenario builders and planners including Gonzales are now looking at a failure of elections to ensure (President) Arroyo’s stay in power.”

Casiño added Gonzales and the military, under the cheating operations, are also actively campaigning against the re-election of Bayan Muna in the party-list elections as well as the senatorial bids of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza of Gabriela.

He said Bayan Muna would file a complaint against Gonzales and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Delfin Bangit before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for election offenses.

Casiño called on Gonzales to resign for cooking up these scenarios and making negative pronouncements about the May 10 elections.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and other lawmakers urged Gonzales to just shut up if he has nothing positive to say about the first automated elections on Monday.

Gonzales earlier revealed attempts to cheat in the elections on May 10 have already started.

He said the military has started tracking down the groups behind cheating attempts that were to favor two presidential candidates he did not mention.

According to Gonzales, money is now being distributed to some Comelec officials and the military to ignore the cheating operations on election day.

Gonzales told the joint forum of the Bishops-Ulama Conference in Davao City last week that some members of the police and military, even from the Comelec, formed part of the groups behind the attempt to tamper with the elections.

Military and police officials asked Gonzales to prove his claim, but he could not present evidence.

The Comelec also summoned Gonzales, but just the same, he could not support his allegations.

Before this latest statement, Gonzales said the administration was preparing for the scenario of 30 percent failure of elections.

Sources say Gonzales’ statement on the supposed cheating operations instigated by two presidential bets is laying the groundwork for questionable election results.

“The people should always be on guard and immediately report any military involvement in partisan electoral activities, which include campaigning for or against a candidate,” Casiño added.

Casiño said they have evidence that indicated the military is also harassing supporters of Bayan Muna and those of Ocampo and Maza.

“We fear that the military’s attacks and electoral fraud against us will intensify in the coming days unless the AFP leadership seriously orders and sanctions all those involved in electioneering,” he said.

Assurances

The AFP, on the other hand, assured the Catholic Church that it has no plans to take over the government if there should be a failure of elections.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos said Bangit gave the assurance vowing the AFP would protect the integrity of the elections.

“He (Bangit) reiterated his stand that he is for successful elections. He allayed fears that there would be military takeover or a junta. He said this will not happen because it is unconstitutional,” Burgos said.

Bangit met with the officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday as a follow up to the Bishops-Ulama Conference he attended in Davao City last week. – With Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Marvin Sy, Jaime Laude, Evelyn Macairan

DND talking with 4 foreign governments on buying military equipment

DND talking with 4 foreign governments on buying military equipment
By Alexis Romero
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense is in talks with four foreign governments on the possible purchase of military equipment, even as some sectors have raised concerns about possible “midnight deals” being hatched by the outgoing Arroyo administration.

“I do not want this business of suspecting the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) each time it makes a major procurement. I said we will not deal with private contractors. The modernization that we will try to do will be between governments,” Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales told reporters over the weekend.

Gonzales revealed that Canada, Italy, Israel and South Korea have already laid down their respective offers.

“The Canadians are offering long-range patrol aircraft and medium-lift capability. The Italians are doing the same. Israel is looking at the possibility of giving us combat helicopters and communication systems. The Koreans are telling me they are prepared to give us a credit line of up to $2 billion,” he said.

Gonzales said he is also awaiting a proposal from the French government.

The defense chief said they would still review the offers and expressed hope that the delivery of the equipment would be done within the next two years.

Critics fear that the last-minute projects of the Arroyo administration would be fraught with massive corruption and irregularities.

Last week, Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III warned against the government’s “midnight deals” and called on foreign suppliers not to transact with the outgoing administration.

He also vowed to strictly scrutinize the Arroyo administration’s latest transactions.

“If such midnight deals are concluded just the same, they must all be subjected to the strictest scrutiny and immediately rescinded whenever warranted,” Aquino said.

“Every peso stolen from the budget of our security organizations represents a drop of blood of our soldiers, airmen, sailors and police officers who risk their lives in the service of our nation,” he added.

Gonzales admitted that the government is into an “11th hour” preparation to modernize the AFP, but claimed that nothing is illegal with it.

“Yes, we are rushing what we can still do under the AFP modernization program in our very limited time left,” he said. “Aren’t we, Filipinos, known to be good in the last two minutes?”

The DND chief also said the acquisition of new military equipment would enhance the country’s defense capabilities and restore national pride.

The government is planning to buy an armor system for the Army, multi-role vessels for the Navy and long-range patrol aircraft, medium lift aircraft and attack helicopters for the Air Force in the next two to three years.

Malacañang has issued an “obligation authority” to the DND to allow it to enter into multi-year contracts. The scheme is in the 2010 national budget signed into law by President Arroyo last February.

Without such authority, the DND can only spend up to P5 billion per year from the modernization funds.

Noynoy vows probe off mining activities in Nueva Vizcaya

Noynoy vows probe off mining activities in Nueva Vizcaya
By Charlie Lagasca
The Philippine Star

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has vowed to initiate an investigation into the illegal mining activities in the province if elected president.

Aquino said he has personally witnessed from above on a chopper during a campaign sortie how unfettered mining activities have left mountains in the province eroded.

“(We will seek) an investigation on this matter. It’s disturbing that the whole mountain top is almost gone,” he said.

Aquino was referring to an area in the remote Barangay Didipio in Kasibu town where the controversial government-backed multimillion-peso Australian mining firm-funded Didipio Gold-Copper Project is located.

Dipidio is a mineral-rich village nestled along the Nueva Vizcaya-Quirino mountain boundary.

The town has attracted hundreds of small-scale miners using unregulated explosives and deadly chemicals.

Aquino said he even asked his pilot to fly nearer to the mining sites to see the extent of the destruction in the mountains in Didipio.

“I saw the dying state of the mountain. It’s frightening. The soil and boulders have become loose that these would give in during rainfall, which endangers the lives of the residents,” he said.

The Didipio venture, the first large-scale mining project approved by the government since the enactment of the 1995 Mining Act, has been the subject of opposition by the Catholic Church and environment groups for being “anti-environment” and “anti-people.”

Illegal small-scale mining operations in the area have also gone unabated despite repeated warnings by authorities of deadly accidents due to cave-ins and premature explosions.

Aquino’s call for probe came on the heels of Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena’s statement that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is also scrutinizing the stand of every presidential candidate on mining issues.

“Besides morality and gambling, we will also look on one’s candidate’s stand on mining. This is a crucial issue for everyone since it concerns the environment and future of our children,” Villena said.

On the other hand, lawmaker-allies of President Arroyo assured Aquino that the administration would not enter into “midnight contracts or deals.”

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong said it was unfair for Aquino to insinuate that the outgoing government may be entering into questionable transactions.

“That’s baseless and unfair. Mrs. Arroyo is our President until June 30, and it is her legal responsibility to promote the welfare of our country. She will not allow any contracts or deals to be forged in haste and which are disadvantageous to our country’s interest,” he said.

Representatives Danilo Suarez of Quezon and Pedro Romualdo of Camiguin said Aquino should win first before threatening to invalidate contracts entered into by the outgoing administration.

Suarez said the insinuation of an irregularity “is another black propaganda against the Arroyo administration.”

He said the country is not wanting in laws on accountability that the next government could use against those who profited from questionable deals.

Aquino has warned all those dealing with the government that he would not honor midnight contracts entered into by Mrs. Aquino and her officials if he wins the presidential race on May 10.

In particular, Aquino said he was addressing his warning to foreign governments and contractors in the light of information that the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines were rushing $300 million worth of equipment procurement.

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales later admitted that the defense-military leadership had started groundwork for the acquisition of sophisticated navy vessels, attack helicopters and some other equipment.

A Cabinet-ranked official in charge of sequestered media entities has also reportedly entered into a joint venture contract with R-11 Builders group of companies for the development of the sequestered four-hectare Broadcast City lot, which is a stone’s throw away from the affluent Ayala Heights and Ayala Hillside subdivisions.

The Broadcast City was reportedly valued at P10,000 per square meter, or about half the price of Ayala lots.

The undervaluation has put the government at a disadvantage, since its share of the joint venture would be based on a much lower price for the property.

The R-11 group is owned by billionaire businessman Reghis Romero, who is said to be close to President Arroyo and her husband and is a supporter of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. – With Jess Diaz

DND chief: Gov't ready for 30% automation failure

DND chief: Gov’t ready for 30% automation failure
By Henry Omaga Diaz
ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time, a ranking official of the Arroyo administration admitted that the automated elections could fail.

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales reveals up to 30% of machines to be used in the coming polls may not function properly.

He was quoting the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which supposedly made this statement in a security cluster meeting in Malacañang.

“Ang calculation nila, ang worst-case scenario is 30% baka hindi matuloy ang automation, pero ishi-shift din naman nila sa manual yun,” he says in an interview with ABS-CBN News. “Ang failure of election, masasabi natin kung walang resulta. Failure of automation and tinitingnan natin.”

Gonzales says even President Arroyo was surprised by the Comelec’s assessment.

“Natatandaan ko ang Pangulo natin, tatlong beses na paulit-ulit yun, tinatanong talaga niya ang Comelec…Kaya naman nagpatawag siya ng National Security Council para may panahon pa para ayusin kung may diperensya, i-repair natin,” he recalls.

But the Comelec asserts Gonzales might not have completely understood the Comelec statement.

“We’re printing 30% of the national requirement for that [contingency]. So, kung ikoconfuse mo yung dalawa, yun na nga, mukhang scary, but these are two separate things,” explains Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez.

But Gonzales notes it is crucial to prepare for the possible automation problems come election day.

JDV: Bangit to take over

For former Arroyo ally and House Speaker Jose de Venecia, it is the administration which is behind moves to make the elections fail.

De Venecia notes that if no president, vice president or senator is proclaimed, and the Senate leadership and House speakership remain vacant, the military might take over the government.

“So by June 30, no presidential winner is proclaimed. By July 1, our friend Gen. [Delfin] Bangit, as chief of staff of the armed forces, will assume military rule. And you cannot blame him because there is no civil power,” says de Venecia.

De Venecia believes Mrs. Arroyo will not step down on June 30 since several charges are expected to be filed against her.

Maclang to put career on line

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vehemently denies plans for a junta.

AFP vice chief of staff Rodrigo Maclang says a military rule is not part of the military’s contingency plan in case of election failure.

“But we are prepared to address any event, in any event that something happens,” Maclang says.

When asked if Bangit will take over in case there no proclamation by June 30, he says: “We have not talked about it right now.”

Maclang, head of Task Force HOPE, which is in charge of the elections, says he will do everything to spare the military from politics, and avoid being dragged into election scandals like in 2004.

“I will not allow it. I will put my career on the line. I will resign if something happens like that in the future,” says Maclang.

Maclang notes every soldier knows his role this coming elections — protect the ballot at all times.

James Yap’s uncle backs Gibo

James Yap’s uncle backs Gibo
By ARIS ILAGAN, BEN R. ROSARIO
Manila Bulletin

BACOLOD CITY – While the Liberal Party (LP) has yet to douse off Baby James Yap’s controversial “endorsement” of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar, another relative of Kris Aquino’s husband has openly expressed his support to another presidential contender – Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Mayor Melencio Yap of Escalante City, uncle of James Yap, opted to throw his support to Teodoro instead of his nephew’s brother-in-law Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the LP standard-bearer.

This developed as newly designated Lakas-Kampi-CMD secretary general Ray Roquero said that with 43 congressmen and 18 governors running unopposed or facing weak candidates, the party projects at least 10 million votes for Teodoro, all coming from provinces and congressional districts of these members.

Baby James – who surprised a big crowd of Noynoy supporters who gathered during a rally of the LP candidates here last week when he uttered the name “Villar” – is the three year old son of James Yap and popular showbiz personality Kris Aquino, sister of Noynoy.

“James even calls me ‘Tiyo (uncle)’ when we see each other,” the mayor said. James Carlos Yap was born in Escalante on February 15, 1982.

Since the start of the local campaign period last March 26, the Escalante mayor said his team has been conducting three to six sorties daily, and never forgetting to include Gibo in these campaigns.

Escalante City, which is about 95 kilometers north from this city, has some 53,000 voters.

“Gibo is very intelligent and not a traditional politician,” Mayor Yap said.

“In fact, I go around campaigning in my locality wearing green,” Yap said.

Green is Gibo’s campaign color.

Mayor Yap is among the 15 Lakas-Kampi-CMD mayors who Negros Occidental Gov. Isidro Zayco said would work hard to ensure that Gibo gets the most votes in the vote-rich province of Negros Occidental come May 10.

Zayco said the mayors have vowed to ensure the victory of the former defense secretary in their province in a show of glue-like loyalty to the ruling party.

“May kwarta man o wala, updan namon si Gibo kay kapartido,” said Zayco, the provincial chair of Lakas-Kampi-CMD. (“With or without money support, we will support Gibo because we’re partymates.”)

Zayco, who is gunning for the mayoralty of Kabankalan City where he used to serve as three-term mayor, said that almost half of the localities in the province with a voting population of at least 1.3 million stand solid behind the presidential bid of the former defense secretary.

“Fifteen mayors are for Gibo out of the 31 localities in the province,” the governor revealed.

For his part, Mayor Manuel Escalante of Manapla town, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Negros Occidental, said that 11 mayors from the southern and northern portions of the province have pledged total allegiance to Gibo in their earlier meetings.

But this number could further swell, said Escalante, a fact that Zayco eventually confirmed when he revealed that 15 mayors are now supporting Gibo.

Escalante also said the mayors who are solidly behind the candidacy of Gibo believed that he has the sincerity and the capacity to lead the country to further development, virtually echoing the statement issued by Gov. Zayco.

Zayco identified the localities of the mayors that would deliver majority of the province’s votes to Gibo as the cities of Sipalay, Himamaylan, Silay, Talisay, San Carlos, Escalante and Cadiz; and the towns of Hinigaran, Moises Padilla, Isabela, Murcia, La Castellana Calatrava, Manapla and La Carlota.

In the fifth district of Negros Occidental, which straddles six localities, Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo vowed to bring victory to Gibo.

He said the entire Lakas-Kampi machinery in the province would work on turning Negros into “Gibo country.”

Roquero predicted 10 million votes that would be delivered by the 61 unopposed congressmen and governors as he announced that the party’s sample ballots will include three additional names in the original six-man senatorial team.

To be added are the ruling party’s adopted senatorial candidates Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile, and former Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III. All three have consistently been in the upper 12 of senatorial poll surveys.

“We’re all geared up to give Gibo a landslide,” said Roquero, barely a week after the administration party elected a new leadership team headed by its president, Deputy Speaker Ma. Amelita C. Villarosa.

Tuesday night’s LKC executive committee meeting, which also named Villarosa as party chair and Francis Manglapus as party president, “already set the irreversible direction toward turning our political advantage in 24 percent of political races nationwide into a resounding victory for Teodoro,” Roquero said.

Based on the record, LKC is running unopposed or virtually unopposed in 43 congressional races and 18 gubernatorial races as well as in 45 contests for city mayors.

FVR giving advice to Gibo

Meanwhile, former President Fidel V. Ramos, considered the “father” of Lakas-CMD who later distanced himself from the ruling party after having a falling out with President Arroyo, is now among the key political advisers of Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr.

However, Ramos has yet to officially announce his anointed candidate, although he had earlier said he would soon make official his endorsement.

In an interview during a political gathering at the Sugarland Hotel in this city, Teodoro admitted that he has been receiving a series of “unsolicited” advices from Ramos on his ambition to become the country’s 15th president.

“You know, he is the former president and former head of the party… I take his advice seriously,” the 45-year-old administration bet said.

Ramos and Teodoro have three common denominators in connection with their political life – both of them served as secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) before they decided to throw their hat into the political ring to seek the presidency; both were the “anointed one” of the incumbent president when they decided to join the presidential race; and both were considered “underdogs” in all poll surveys at the start of the campaign.

It was recalled that Ramos ran in the presidential race in May, 1992 and got the endorsement of then President Corazon Aquino, mother of now Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

But when Ramos, who then joined the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) to seek nomination as standard-bearer, lost to House Speaker Ramon Mitra in the party convention, he formed “Lakas Tao” party that later merged with the National Union of Christian Democrats to form Lakas-NUCD that propelled him to the presidency with the unwavering support of Mrs. Aquino.

Ramos, now 82, earlier advised Teodoro not to be affected by the poll surveys that showed him in poor fourth place despite having the backing of the administration party’s machinery.

Ramos told Teodoro to focus his attention on his campaign instead of being distracted by the surveys.

LTO's Lomibao kicked up to DND

LTO’s Lomibao kicked up to DND
By Paolo Romero and Alexis Romero
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo has appointed former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Arturo Lomibao as defense undersecretary for legislative affairs.

It was not clear when Mrs. Arroyo made the appointment. There were suspicions that it was done after March 10 or the last day she was allowed under the law to make appointments before the May elections.

Officials, however, insisted Lomibao’s appointment was signed in the first week of March.

With Lomibao now at the Department of National Defense, former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Alberto Suansing reassumed yesterday the top LTO post.

Movements in the LTO and other agencies were only made known to the public towards the end of last month.

Sources said Lomibao already attended a meeting of top defense officials last Monday at Camp Aguinaldo.

This was confirmed by Defense Undersecretary for Finance and Armed Forces Modernization Affairs Antonio Romero II.

“He (Lomibao) was there during our meeting. He was introduced to us by the secretary,” he told The STAR.

Romero said Lomibao was also given an orientation about his responsibilities as defense undersecretary. He said the appointment of the former PNP chief was a welcome development for the agency.

“It’s good that he was appointed. We needed to fill up some positions in the department,” Romero said in Filipino.

He described Lomibao as “low profile” and “diligent.”

Former DND undersecretary Alberto Valenzuela Jr., who used to handle legal affairs and special concerns, quit his post last month.

Sources said Lomibao came after Valenzuela’s resignation but was not really his successor since the former PNP chief would handle a different portfolio. Romero said there are officials who are already handling DND’s legal concerns.

Romero said former DND undersecretary Antonio Santos Jr., who used to handle defense affairs, had also left the department after reaching the retirement age of 65. Romero said he is now handling defense affairs in a concurrent capacity.

On the other hand, the term of office of former DND undersecretary for internal affairs Ariston de los Reyes lapsed last month, according to Malacañang.

There are reports that former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Victor Ibrado has been offered De los Reyes’ position.

A ranking DND source confirmed this but Ibrado, who is out of the country, has yet to accept the offer. Ibrado retired from military service last March 10.

A native of Pangasinan, Lomibao is a member of Philippine Military Academy class 1972. He holds a master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in development administration. Lomibao was named PNP chief in 2005, replacing Edgar Aglipay.

His wife Jacky Tiu-Lomibao, a former kidnap victim, is making a bid for a seat in Congress as the third nominee of party-list group Abono, representing farmers.

Mrs. Arroyo also designated Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan as new deputy presidential spokesman.

With Peyuan’s appointment, the President now has four spokespersons led by Secretary Ricardo Saludo, who is also concurrently secretary-general of the private-public reconstruction commission.

The two other deputy spokespersons are Gary Olivar and Charito Planas, who is also Nayong Pilipino executive director.

Peyuan was originally appointed to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) last month but was removed two days later because of alleged lobbying by his predecessor Augusto Syjuco.

Peyuan at the time accused Syjuco of having a hand in his removal reportedly because of his refusal to agree to an illegal directive on the use of over P700 million in TESDA funds. – With Rainier Allan Ronda

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