Uniffors


Zubiri’s Folly

Posted in Economic Affairs by uniffors on the March 31st, 2007

Senatorial candidate Miguel Zubiri’s bio-fuels law takes food from our plates and puts it into our SUVs.

Fidel Castro Ruiz comments on biofuels and hunger. HERE.

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Cardinal Rosales declares Movable Feasts

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the March 30th, 2007

The Feast of Human Rights Abuses

“What is happening under the Arroyo regime today is so tiny that it is a mere speck of the human rights abuses committed then under Marcos”

The Feast of Corruption

“I’m not in favor of anyone and I don’t mean to say that I like GMA [Gloria Macapagal Arroyo]. What I’m worried about is the truth. The truth is GMA is not the only president linked to corruption. There are bigger, bigger fishes. That is why I’m interested in the whole truth. This is only piecemeal.”

It’s Einstein’s Theory of Relativity applied to morality. From now on, Rosales is the only priest I will go to for confession. Come to think of it, I don’t have to go to confession at all.

Everything is relative, right?

Alston’s report’

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the March 30th, 2007

Alston’s report can be read at the blogs of Manuel Quezon III and Ellen Tordesillas, HERE and HERE.

Or below.
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Duque and Yap are candy men again

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the March 29th, 2007

A Malaya editorial called it Duque’s P1 Billion bag of goodies.

(BEGIN) Our new-found charity toward the basic decency of Gloria and her subalterns was immediately rudely shattered, however, by the Palace announcement that Health Secretary Francisco Duque would serve as point man in an inter-agency ad hoc committee handling the war against hunger.

After his designation as anti-hunger “czar,” Duque appealed to everyone to shun partisanship and work hand in hand in providing a food safety net for the poorest of the poor. One out of five families going without food even if only once in three months is unacceptable. Duque said the battle against hunger will show dramatic results in six months.

If we didn’t know Duque, he could have fooled us. This is the same Duque who hijacked the Medicare fund of overseas workers for PhilHealth months before the 2004 elections. A note in his handwriting said expanding health insurance coverage would “impact” on Gloria’s presidential bid. PhilHealth did not have the money to provide expand coverage to those who could afford the premium. His recommendation? Hijack the OFW’s contributions.

Gloria then proceeded to give away PhilHealth cards during her campaign sorties. When the opposition questioned the thinly disguised form of vote-buying, Duque excoriated critics for seeking to deny the poor access to health services that they legitimately deserved.

In a subsequent Senate hearing, it was found that PhilHealth membership rose from around 3 million to 5 million in 2004. The new members promptly lost their health insurance the following year because the government would (what for?) no longer subsidize their premiums.

For a job well done, Duque was promoted from PhilHealth chief to health secretary. Now he’s back to crying crocodile tears over the hungry and the sick.

Partnering with Duque in supervising the release of the P1 billion is Agriculture Secretary Art Yap. Hellooo. Yap, as administrator of the National Food Authority in 2004, transferred his agency’s available funds to the agriculture department to “boost farm productivity.” The NFA money was pooled with the funds of the agrarian reform department and the agriculture department. These were the funds that former agriculture undersecretary Joc Joc Bolante siphoned off to the campaign chest of Gloria.

Duque and Yap pledging not to divert the P1 billion to the administration’s campaign kitty? Sama-sama na sila ng amo nilang sinungaling.(END)

The best prediction of what the candy men will do to that P1 billion comes from unconfirmed Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez,

He said, “Look at the calamity funds. In many instances, these do not reach their intended beneficiaries because they are misappropriated by local government officials.”

What Gonzalez said, months ago, to justify the bribing of bishops, still holds true for the P1 Billion now at the disposal of election operators Duque and Yap.

Who will guard the guardians

Posted in Manuel Quezon III by uniffors on the March 29th, 2007

Manuel Quezon III, HERE, on command responsibilty in the AFP.

Command and Control
Manuel L. Quezon III, mlquezon3@gmail.com

THE DEBATE here and now, is whether besides fighting in the field, the Philippine armed forces should be fighting civilians, too. No one represents the debate on what the armed forces should do, and to what extent it should be held responsible in its duty to fight the New People’s Army, better than Gen. Jovito Palparan.

He has been bold and blunt in what he thinks should be done. And that is, to fight the NPA not just in the field, but to attack what he considers its support system, the legal Left.

In this view, Palparan isn’t unique. Testifying before the Melo Commission, Gen. Esperon said, “The CPP is the brain; the NPA is the armed group; and the NDF is the shield. The NDF is composed of legal organizations that may have been infiltrated by the CPP and NPA.” But Gen. Esperon, before the same commission, was careful to distinguish military operations, fighting the NPA, from other efforts of a non-military nature, which he said were properly the department of the civilian agencies of the government. So far, so good; the problem is that Palparan made statements that at the very least, suggested he, as a commanding officer, had no problem if soldiers and civilians went beyond fighting the NPA in the field.

Back to Gen. Palparan, he’s made some blood-curdling statements as quoted in the Melo report. Just one example: “I cannot order my soldiers to kill, it’s their judgment call, they can do it on their own.” But the problem with such fire-breathing statements, is that they could be construed as an inspiration to portions of the military who might be tempted to use what Mussolini called inexorable force to solve political problems. Inexorable force may be okay for fascists, but it contradicts our democracy’s dedication to human rights.

Palparan’s statements have already led his critics to call him “the butcher,” and he has even become the focus of some investigations. The calls for such investigations began even when Palparan was still an officer on active duty.

In response to such calls, Gen. Esperon told the Melo Commission, “[he] admitted that the AFP has the power and authority to investigate if any of its officers has violated certain rules and regulations, such investigation may, however, muddle or obstruct any on-going operation. Gen. Esperon added that the AFP has confidence in the duly constituted investigative body.”

To his credit, Palparan, according to Esperon, expressed willingness to be investigated, but as the Melo Report noted, the AFP didn’t investigate Palparan because no formal complaint was lodged. So it’s been up to other institutions to do their own investigations.

Besides the Melo Commission, official investigations include Task Force Usig, both set up by the president, and the Commission on Human Rights which works independently. Recently, the CHR issued a preliminary report on General Palparan. The report was hailed by the AFP, which said it cleared the controversial general.

The CHR, however, denied it cleared Gen. Palparan. A story in the Bohol Chronicle quotes Acting Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Dominador Calamba II as saying “that Palparan could not shy away from the fact that killings were rampant anywhere he is assigned. The retired general failed to initiate inquiries on the alleged extra-judicial killings when it should have been his chance to clear his name.”

Mallari, a fellow commissioner in the CHR, was tasked with looking into political killings in Central Luzon where Palparan had been assigned as 7th Infantry Division commander. The allegations were that Palparan should be held responsible for the spate of alleged political killings in the region. Mallari, in his report, said Palparan should not be held responsible, because he unearthed no evidence directly linking Palparan to any such killings.

But then not even Palparan’s harshest critics ever alleged that he was running around personally liquidating leftists.

Rather, the question concerning Gen. Palparan is this: To what extent is he, as an officer, liable, for the conduct of their troops? In other words, should our senior generals be held accountable for violations of human rights? In other words, does command responsibility apply to officers like Palparan? Particularly in the light of his fire-breathing statements? And what should civilians do about it?

Our own government launched investigations, as we know. Some are ongoing and some will hopefully lead to prosecutions. The issue gets complicated when foreigners become interested. Complicated, because at times it seems our own government is inconsistent. When a UN special rapporteur came here and did his own investigating, our armed forces complained. When a US Senate Committee conducted a hearing on these accusations, some of our own senators complained. But the UN rapporteur’s activities put pressure on the executive branch to release the Melo Report which it had wanted to withhold from the public. And now, despite threats from senators like Miriam Defensor-Santiago to investigate the USA for human rights violations, the executive has decided to welcome a rapporteur from the US State Department.

In other words, there seem to be principles at work here, that are so important they become the business of everyone, and not just the locals, to look into. At the heart of all this are the principles we know as human rights. And also, the idea that command responsibility is not something nations can adopt or ignore, but that all modern militaries are obliged to uphold.

AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., when asked if officers should be held accountable for cases involving the military murder of civilians, told the Melo Commission he didn’t believe command responsibility should apply.

But on Feb. 4, he changed his mind. Why did he do that? Court cases and presidential directives mandate the principle of command responsibility. To his credit, Gen. Esperon, when it turned out he was wrong, did something about it. Faced by the law and his own opinions on command responsibility, Esperon upheld the principle and not his own opinion.

But this only begs an ancient question. Who will guard the guardians, the ancient Romans asked. Every society with a military eventually ends up asking itself the same thing. As well we should. The armed forces are our armed forces: They fight for us, they are paid by us, they are supposed to represent what is best in us.

Gen. Esperon is free to have his own opinions, whether on the innocence of his men when it comes to allegations of human rights violations, or his wanting the CPP-NPA declared illegal. I don’t think he should be free to express his opinions. Those are policy statements, and those are for the civilians, not the officers of our AFP, to craft.

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Hostage taking only a PR crisis for Malacanan

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the March 29th, 2007

While the entire country worried over the fate of the hostaged pre-schoolers, Exsec. Eduardo Ermita worried about the effect of the hostage taking on potential foreign investors.

Malacañang: Manila hostage crisis puts RP in bad light HERE

(Begin) Malacañang said Wednesday that the hostage drama in Manila is another “shameful” incident for the Philippines.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the country, once again, was put in a bad light in front of the international community because of the hostage drama near Manila City Hall in Lawton district.

Ermita said that because of the incident’s international coverage, people in other countries might think that the peace and order situation in the Philippines has gone worse.

The executive secretary said Malacañang is hoping that the incident will not affect the expected foreign investments to the country. He added that foreign investments help the government to address poverty. (END)

“It was truly embarrassing, but we did not have control over what had happened, we will do everything that we can to rise from this incident. The world might think, as a result of this, that there is chaos in the Philippines. We don’t want this perception of the country to happen,” said Ermita.

Business muna bago ang lahat.

Hunger and lifestyle

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the March 28th, 2007

Manuel Buencamino lampoons Gloria Arroyo’s response to the hunger surveys,

Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom
Manuel Buencamino

Hunger and lifestyle

Dear Queenie,

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been at peace with my conscience ever since you said poor spending habits are the cause of hunger.

You see, I’ve always felt guilty about ignoring famished street urchins pestering me to buy sampaguitas to decorate the Jesus statuette on my dashboard. Now I can tell them the money I save from not buying their decorative sampaguitas goes to feeding my children.

Thanks for pointing out that hunger is a lifestyle choice.

And thanks also for reminding me of the wonderful put-down of victim-hood your Trade secretary, Peter Favila, made a year ago this week.

Your response to hunger, although delivered a week early, is an excellent companion to his immortal words:

“We have plenty of jobs available in the country today, but the problem is, some Filipinos are just pihikan or choosy. Some Filipinos aspire to be the vice president immediately upon hiring or they want to be able to pick the time and place of work. Those who can’t get what they want choose to just wait till their ideal job falls on their lap.”

Your secretary’s words must have inspired street urchins not to wait for the “ideal job to fall on their lap” for they ignored the political noise and took advantage of the strong peso, the stable political situation, and the investor-friendly climate to go into the sampaguita business.

Their profits will be reinvested in the stock market and soon, as a pundit said, they will be trading in their paper boats for yachts.

You can tell the whole world, “We have no child labor. We are a nation of child entrepreneurs.”

And you can add that investor confidence, as shown by the great number of street-urchin entrepreneurs, disproves the perception that your regime is the most corrupt in Asia.

Going back to the hunger issue…

Recently, a newspaper reported, “Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said 1.1 million college graduates are without jobs while there are 650,000 vacancies for highly skilled workers.”

You followed up Jesli’s statement with: “Mag-technical muna shila bago shila tumuloy sha college. Kashi ang laki-laki ng shweldo ng weldersh and butchersh kaysha sha shweldo ng clerk.”

The demand for butchers, instead of the uselessness of college degrees, is what you and your apologists should have focused on.

You could have thrown butchers at the opposition and ended all their talk about hunger because the demand for butchers clearly debunks their claim that there are more hungry people now than ever before.

Unfortunately, your lap dummy chose to comment on our lifestyle and impose his puritanical values which are clearly antigrowth and, therefore, prohunger.

He said, “You can cut down on cigarettes and drinks. Instead of three bottles, one or two will suffice. You can have substantial savings if you cut down on unnecessary expenditures including text messaging.”

Your puritan talking-doll does not appreciate what my economist friend, Filomeno Sta. Ana III, calls “the multiplier effect of vice.”

Alcohol consumption does away with short-term hunger—alcohol goes with pulutan—and the food industry will benefit from an increased demand for tokwa’t baboy, sisig and chicharon bituka. Furthermore, alcohol and greasy foods induce a craving for cigarettes.

I’m sure you can figure out for yourself what that means in terms of business, unemployment, taxes, the budget deficit, the strength of the peso, the price of power and transportation and the OFW epidemic.

As to your talking doll’s admonition on text messages, well…more text messages mean a bigger telecommunications market. That’s a magnet for foreign investors. What does he have against foreign investments? Is he a communist?

Anyway, the crumbs from your economic reforms are falling from your table straight to the mouths of the hungry masses so there’s no excuse for hunger.

So the next time I’m accosted by another urchin entrepreneur begging me to buy her sampaguita leis because she’s hungry, I will simply tell her, “Change your lifestyle and you won’t go hungry.”

Hugs and kisses,

MB

P.S. I just saw one of your secretaries on TV and he’s blaming a series of typhoons for the hunger problem. I guess his point is that hunger is “weather-weather lang.” Hmmm…

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph)

Speckless

Posted in Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 28th, 2007

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Now you see it, now you don’t

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the March 27th, 2007

The Comelec announced that Juju Cayetano has been disqualified.

But…

From Inquirer. Net :
(Begin)“… commissioner Resurreccion Borra said that Joselito Cayetano’s name would still be included on the final list of senatorial aspirants pending the resolution of his case before the Comelec en banc or the Supreme Court.

At the same time, Borra said that the Board of Elections Inspectors would still have to decide whether a vote for “Cayetano” would be considered a stray vote.

“The Board of Election of Inspectors will decide on stray votes. The National Board of Canvassers may not credit these votes. Once he is disqualified [Joselito], his votes will be credited to [Alan] Peter [Cayetano],” Borra said. (END)

Disqualify Juju but leave his name on the list and let the Board of election inspectors decide and Alan Peter will not be able to take his oath as senator “pending the resolution of his case (Juju’s) before the Comelec en banc or the Supreme Court.”

So the confusion and stray votes factor, which is the reason for running Alan Peter’s namesake in the first place, is still there.

Juju is still in the picture. But Abalos and his commissioner’s are safely out of it.

Magaling. Magic tricks of this sort are the specialty of GMA’s election lawyer, Macalintal.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Gloria’s teacher

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the March 27th, 2007

Katataspulong writes about Gloria’s teacher and concludes:

“Post-Marcos, she is the longest reigning president. The venom of politics and the lessons her father taught her rendered her immune to the call of her conscience. In the thick of the campaign in 2004, her social welfare secretary was blurting out that “patriotism has many forms. Cheating an amateur is moral. We save the country from perdition”. In 2004 she quit being a nice guy.”

Read the rest of the story HERE

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