Officials of DFA and OWWA snubbed a Senate investigation into the Lebanon evacuation fiasco. Malacanang ordered them not to attend.
Below is the letter of ES Ermita explaining why the said officials were prohibited from appearing at the Senate inquiry.More in Susan Ople’s blog. Here.
Notice that Ermita dictates to the Senate what sort of inquiries they are allowed to undertake. But the Senate has the duty and the power to exercise oversight. That means it can and must investigate how the Executive branch spends money and implements policy.
An inquiry in aid of legislation is only one of the many powers of Congress. Congress is certainly not limited to it.
Ermita’s letter is a direct challenge to the powers of the Senate. Is the Senate going to fight or will it back down?
Here’s Ermita’s incredible letter.
Dear Sen. Estrada:
This refers to your letter invitation dated 26 July 2006 (received by my office on 27 July 2006) inviting me and other government officials to a hearing on Monday, 31 July 2006 at 1:00 P.M. in connection with Senate Resolution No. 515 of Senator Richard Gordon entitled, “Resolution Calling for and Inquiry in Aid of Legislation on the Plans and Resources of Concerned Government Agencies for the Repatration of OFWs in Lebanon.”
We note, however, that the invitation:
1. does not refer to any possible needed statute that prompted the inquiry; and,
2. does not contain the questions relative to and in furtherance of the subject of the inquiry.
In view thereof, this representation, together with those invited from government agencies, would be unable to attend said hearing until the above information are furnished, and the undersigned is provided with sufficient time to prepare for the hearing.
Your Honor must be aware that all of the government officials invited to the inquiry are currently engaged in critical operations to get our OFWs in Lebanon out of harm’s way, and bring them home to the Philippines. It is in the national interest that such officials are allowed to do their job with undiminished time and attention.
Very truly yours,
(orig. signed) EDUARDO R. ERMITA
Inquirer 7 net columnist Billy Esposo wrote that former president FVR picked Mayor Sonny Belmonte as GMA’s successor. Read the story here.
Here’s the rub :
FVR did not say whether he wants Belmonte to take over now or after GMA gives up her position.
FVR did not say whether he wants Belmonte to take over before or after charter change.
Timing makes all the difference in this case.
If FVR wants Belmonte to take over after GMA and chacha then he’s not only blowing smoke out of his ass, he’s crapping on us. Again.
If FVR wants Belmonte to take over now then let’s make him walk his talk. Make him call for the immediate resignation of Gloria and lead a people power uprising to install Belmonte.
We think the image of FVR with an unlit cigar is perfect. He should light the damn thing and smoke it. Or throw it away.
Or, as some of our less diplomatic colleagues might put it, “shit or get off the potty!”
Ellen Tordesillas, columnist from Malaya and Abante, raises disturbing questions about a new website called “Sundalo”. She points to disturbing signs that indicate the website belongs to none other than Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, the newly installed AFP-COS. Read details here.
The wife of Gen. Danny Lim found it strange that the website was launched right around the time her husband’s court martial was announced, If the website were for real, wouldn’t the wife of the soldier prominently featured on the site’s homepage vow for its authenticity?
Nothing negative about Esperon surprises us anymore. We have said it before and we will say it again, Esperon is General Ver reincarnated.
At the opening of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting ( AMM ) in Kuala Lumpur on July 24, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi called on ASEAN members not to appear indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as well as the Lebanese people by condemning Israel’s resort to excessive military reprisals in the region. “ASEAN must make its voice heard, loudly and clearly” by not continuing to tolerate “the subjugation and repression of the Palestinian people by Israel.”
In contrast to the Malaysian prime minister’s forceful position, the Philippine Government has not issued any statement condemning Israel’s incursions into Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. In all probability, the Philippine delegation approved the AMM’s joint communiqué’s call for an immediate ceasefire only because it feared it would stick out like a sore thumb if it objected.
If there has been a voice that has been deafening since the outbreak of the latest crisis in the Middle East, it has been the utter silence of the Philippines.
Another issue over which the Philippines has not spoken out recently is the situation in Myanmar. While the ASEAN ministers expressed concern over the pace of the reconciliation process in Burma by stating they “hoped to see tangible progress that would lead to peaceful transition to democracy in the near future,” there has been no public comment of late by any Philippine officials on the stonewalling tactics employed by Burmese junta to thwart all efforts at establishing a multi-party system in that country.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Seri Syed Hamid Albar admitted in a televised interview with the BBC that the problem of Myanmar is affecting ASEAN’s international credibility and for this reason the regional grouping had to effectively address the issue.
The point Uniffors wishes to stress here is that Malaysia has taken the initiative to improve ASEAN’s credibility in the international community during its chairmanship of the standing committee. To a large extent, it has succeeded because it has clearly defined foreign and national policy objectives and undertakes sustained efforts to achieve these objectives.
In sharp contrast to the Philippines, the incoming standing committee chair, which lurches from one crisis to another, not knowing where to go.
Luckily for the ASEAN, the vice-chairman will be Singapore, a country that has its act together and can hopefully help a hopelessly lost Philippines to find its ASEAN bearings.
Raul Gonzalez was appointed justice secretary to make sure that the long arm of the law never reached Nani Perez, Virgilio Garcillano, Jocjoc Bolante, Blanquita Pelaez and now Ma. Elena Bautista, the LTFRB chair who had a no-bail warrant of arrest against her.
Ma. Elena Bautista is a protegee of Raul Gonzalez. Yesterday, the justice secretary helped her escape justice. He prevented law enforcement agents from arresting her and he escorted her to NAIA where she took a plane out of the country. Read Daily Tribune story here.
During martial law, Gonzalez was a fearless lawyer who fought for justice and freedom. He was admired by many and his rise to the top was all but inevitable.
“Cream rises to the top” they say. And indeed it does. Cream floats. But so does scum. And shit.
In her SONA, Mrs. Arroyo said she found the money to pay down the foreign debt and to pay for the construction of her Enchanted Kingdom.
BUT SHE LOST THE MONEY FOR THE REPATRIATION OF THE STRANDED OFWs IN LEBANON.
The OFWs are not asking the government for charity. OWWA funds belong to OFWs. It is not government money. It is not taxpayers’ money. ANG PERA NG OWWA AY GALING SA BULSA NG MGA OFWs.
Philippine ambassador to Lebanon, Alfrancis Bichara, said, the Embassy was “running out of funds.” He added, “They ( Manila) should have standby funds; they should accelerate the movement of funds.”
Typically, DFA spokesman Asuque attacked the messenger, Bicharra, instead of addressing the problem. He told Bicharra, “As the ambassador you should direct requests for funds not to reporters but to the proper authorities, like the assistant secretary for finance.”
Eduardo Ermita dismissed the issue as, “It’s a matter that the DFA will look into. It’s just a procedure, in due time, the money will be transferred to Lebanon.” We hope that “in due time” means within this lifetime.
But Asuque is not all talk. He swung into action right away. He said thank you to the International Organization for Migration for shouldering the cost of repatriating 450 OFWs. Read it Here. Thank you is the favorite phrase of ranking DFA officials.
And he added that DFA will investigate Bichara for telling the truth.
Well an investigation is called for. And there will be one. For DFA and OWWA. They will be investigated for the missing OWWA billions. Read it Here.
The OFWs are not asking the government for charity. OWWA funds belong to OFWs. It is not government money.It is not taxpayers’ money. ANG PERA NG OWWA AY GALING SA BULSA NG MGA OFWs.
Where is the OFWs money? Who misspent it? Who stole it?
In Malaya, columnist Lito Banayo tells us about the people behind the people’s initiative. And how they mistook Satan’s words for divine inspiration. Read it Here.
In his regular column in the Inquirer, Manuel Quezon III writes about the SONA and laments the fact that the issue remains the same. Legitimacy.
“In politics and, indeed, in any human activity, legitimacy is essential. It is non-negotiable; otherwise you end up making the ironic argument that at least Mussolini made the trains run on time in Italy; that Hitler gave Germany the autobahn and the Volkswagen Beetle; or that Stalin, regardless of his purges built dams according to five-year plans; while Mao meant well when he launched the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. According to that framework, Pol Pot was simply a misunderstood man trying to achieve agricultural self-sufficiency.” Read it Here.
THE LONG VIEW
Rootin’ tootin’ regime
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Published on Page A11 of the July 27, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
THERE’S supposedly a car rental brochure from Tokyo that has this amusing example of English: “When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him vigorously.” The administration does this, trying to charm the critical with the melodious ka-ching! ka-ching! of cash and other financial instruments, and then vigorously tootling its opponents (and if all fails and the enemy is a provincial yokel, it lets off a rat-tat-tat of ordinance).
Luwaran, the MILF website, reported that MILF chief peace negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, was not impressed by Arroyo’s SONA.
Luwaran wrote, “But he (Iqbal) said the litany of names of mostly politicians described as behind the so-called successes achieved by her administration makes the speech dull and unappealing to people who think.
“The speech is mainly ego-boasting or busting,” he said, adding that the President exceptionally overemphasized the positive side of her rule but deliberately failed to state the true state of the nation in the Philippines.
“It is pathetic to listen to a one-sided speech,” he further explained.
PCIJ reported that Rep. Edcel Lagman, the man who furnished the wire hanger called “prejudicial questions” for last year’s abortion of the impeachment complaint against Arroyo, says the rusty tool can still be used for yet another abortion. Read PCIJ report HERE.
“The initiation of an impeachment complaint entails a process which commences with the filing of the complaint and culminates in the receipt of the complaint by the Committee on Justice to which it is referred,” Lagman explained, “The new impeachment complaints were interposed prematurely.”
Lagman used to be a decent and respectable congressman. Until he turned “pro-life”. Pro Gloria’s life, that is.