Pope Benedict goes to Cuba

Posted in Manuel Buencamino,Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 30th, 2012

Pope Benedict went to Cuba for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, the Patroness of Cuba. Fidel Castro called on the Pope at the Vatican embassy in Havana after the Pope’s final mass at the end of his three-day visit.

Fidel asked the Pope about changes in Church liturgy and asked for a book “to help him reflect”. The two leaders discussed a wide range of topics that covered “the difficult world situation and the problems of mankind from a religious, scientific, and cultural point of view.”

The highlight of the meeting was Fidel popping the question:


The 2nd commandment

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the March 29th, 2012

In his column in the Philippine Star today, former senator Ernesto Maceda who is celebrating his 77th birthday, wrote:

    “I thank God for giving me 77 years of a meaningful life in the service of God, country and people.”

Maceda, God, and public service, all in one sentence.

The second of the Roman Catholic Ten Commandments says:

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy GOD in vain.”

Wala lang.

A classmate’s disappointment with CJ Renato Corona

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the March 27th, 2012

Circulating in social media is a letter from a classmate of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Rene Santayana and Renato Corona were in the Ateneo 1962 elementary and 1966 high school graduating classes. Santayana wrote to his class e-group after he received an e-mail on the Newsbreak exposé regarding Corona’s embellished academic achievements. (Read in Rappler.com “Corona lied about academic honors?”)

An Atenean from a later batch summed up Santayana’s letter as a ” message that reflects the dilemmas that we face when we have to choose between doing good and protecting erring kin, friends, and classmates. In Philippine society, the greater good is subsumed to loyalty to the family, the class, the tribe, the fraternity, the organization.”

Below is Mr. Santayana’s letter to his classmates:

    Dear classmates, 
    The attached email (the Newsbreaak exposé) caught my eye because of its attachments (Corona’s academic resumé submitted to Malacañan in 1992 when he worked for the Ramos administration; a screen grab of Corona’s resumé in the Supreme Court website prior to its alteration in March 14, 2010; Ateneo commencement programs from grade school, high school, college, and college of law) and so I decided to briefly drop a line to this forum.  I imagine there is a great deal of ‘talk’ about the on-going impeachment proceedings which is why I am forwarding this to the Yahoo group. 
    Many of the attachments in this email will be familiar to you. Certainly, they were to me.  The heavy hitters in our batch were Edjop (Edgar Jopson), Bobby Jayme, Rhett Pleno, Jacques Schnabel, Inggo Diaz, Chito Gomez, Louie Hernandez, Dari Pagcaliwagan, and Benito Diaz.  I never saw nor do I recall the name of Corona having stood out in any honors list during our years in the Ateneo.  Do you? 
    The point is … why lie about it?  There are more than a hundred of us classmates – surely a large number will recall what really transpired in school?  What a blatant display of arrogance and contempt!  This I take personally because it touches me and it violates whatever small personal unsullied space I can still cling to in this life.  I cannot stand idly by and allow myself to be made complicit in this. 
    If we cannot trust a man in small things, how can we trust him in big things?  Grade school and high-school … who still includes those in a professional resume anymore?  Frankly, it’s not even worth mentioning, much less lying about.  Yet, some people choose to fabricate and weave untruths … and use it for self promotion.  Anyone who can lie about such small things can lie about anything – yes, even the biggest things. 
    In this particular instance it is very difficult to show any support even for a classmate, unless you are prepared to compromise your own principles.  Personally I was reserving judgment and waiting for events to unfold.  It seems the wait is over.  This is an issue we are all familiar with.  This has nothing to do with Malacanang, nothing to do with the Senate, nothing to do with politics.  It has everything to do with principle, character and integrity. 
    Regardless of the outcome, this early Rene Corona himself has shown me that he is unworthy of his position – or any other responsible position.  The cumulative weight of all those petty lies and belabored half-truths is crushing and it leaves him bereft of any moral ground to stand on.  He should just admit his guilt, resign immediately and hang his head in shame. 
    It’s 2:17 in the morning.  More than 5 hours have gone by and still I cannot bring myself to press the ‘send’ button.  In the end I realize that I will have to – or suffer the loss of my own principles. But that does not make it any easier.  What an utter disappointment!  For all of us.

Before the long break…

Posted in Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 24th, 2012




Green taxation

Posted in Brownman's Posts,Economic Affairs by uniffors on the March 22nd, 2012

Green Taxation
by Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III
Green taxes, and we use the term in the broader and liberal sense to include user charges, are an essential component of a green economy. Green taxes perform three important functions, namely:
1.     They generate significant revenues, which contribute to financing development, promoting equity, and maintaining macroeconomic stability.

2.     They correct for the external costs of market failure.  Specifically we refer to failure to capture the full costs of economic activities, including consumption that damage the environment or threaten the wellbeing of future generations. The taxes capture (or internalize) the full costs of the negative effects or spillovers.

3.     Similarly, green taxes serve the sumptuary objective of altering people’s consumption behavior by increasing prices of goods that are environmentally harmful.
Biodiversity, environmental sustainability, and slowing down climate change are all public goods.  In fact, amidst climate change, these are all global public goods.  As public goods, government intervention is inescapable.  And it goes without saying that green taxation is one of the principal tools for collective action, be this at the national level or the supra-national level.
Green taxes do yield substantial revenues, for the goods and transactions they cover are part of the day-to-day lives of peoples. Every one has a carbon footprint; almost everyone cannot avoid using non-renewable resources.  The full costs of such consumption, ordinarily not reflected in the market price, can only be accounted for through taxation.
Thus even a modest tax rate translates into big revenue gains. In turn these additional revenues can be used not only to protect the environment in particular but likewise to finance development in general, especially in developing countries.
Take the case of the carbon tax.  Its main objective is to address the market failure (or the negative externality) that leads to environmental damage. At the same time, the (potential) revenues from a carbon tax are huge. In June 2005, writing for Project Syndicate, Joseph Stiglitz wrote that “at current carbon prices, the value of carbon sequestration by tropical rainforests likely equals or exceeds the current level of international aid being provided to developing countries.”

Progressive taxation is a cardinal principle.  That is to say, the rich or the better-off classes have to pay higher taxes or higher tax rates than the poor or the lower income group. 
One can argue that green taxes are generally progressive.  After all, it is the rich or the upper-class people who have a much bigger carbon footprint than the poor.  They ride airplanes; they own gas-guzzling SUVs; they turn on air-conditioning units 24/7; they have all the latest entertainment gadgets that use up a lot of energy; and they wear precious metals mined from the mountains of Africa and Asia.
But of course, the poor also consume non-renewable resources and engage in activities (e.g., cutting wood for cooking or doing slash and burn for a living) that also destroy the environment.
In this context, even the poor must be subject to green taxation and regulation.  After all, such taxation and regulation will ultimately be for their benefit, since they are the most adversely affected by the problems arising from climate change and environmental destruction.
Nevertheless, policy-makers can find ways to moderate the impact of the tax that affects the poor.  For example, a tax imposed on petroleum can be designed in a way that poor farmers or fishermen can purchase fuel at a lower rate through, say, a voucher system.  Further, the price increase in transportation from a tax hike in petroleum can be offset by a subsidy for energy-efficient mass transportation.
Such principle of progressive rates and even subsidies can likewise apply to the consumption of environment-related goods or non-renewable resources.

Tempest in a D(umb)-cup

Posted in Manuel Buencamino,Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 22nd, 2012


Arnold Clavio’s stupid commentary on the controversy between Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Match Commissioner Cristy Ramos and two Azkal players created a storm that diverted attention away from the real issue at hand: nabastusan si Cristy Ramos, binastos ba siya? Cristy Ramos thinks so and she filed the appropriate letter of complaint with the AFC Disciplinary Committee.

In the meantime, maybe the AFC can review its Regulations and Guidelines for AFC Match Officials. The book applies to “Any officials appointed by AFC, including but not limited to the Head of Delegation, Head of Administration, Venue Manager, Match Commissioner, Referee Instructor, Referee, Assistant Referees, Fourth Official, Media Officer, Security Officer, Medical Officer and Technical Study Group Officer.”

Simply put, the Match Commissioner is the highest official in an AFC match. All match officials follow an Official Program that contains a list of activities, itemized hour by hour, “which must be carried out by AFC Match Officials upon arrival until after the match.”

Those activities include but are not limited to arranging transportation within the locale of the match, accommodations, meeting with team officials, security and media arrangements, suitability of venue and equipment, pre-match rehearsal of ball boys, eligibility of players, and practically anything you can shake a stick at.

The incident between Ms. Ramos and the two Azkal players occurred in connection with official duties included in the Official Countdown before a match: “14. MINUS NINETY (90) MINUTES BEFORE THE MATCH: 1. Match Commissioner must receive the Player Selection List for the teams. For centralized qualification matches, this process must take place at the end of the TMM (Team Managers Meeting) (cf. Section D, Article 8.11) 2. Once the Match Commissioner receives the list, he goes into the team dressing room with the 4th Official to check each of the players on the list against their eligibility card as well as the player’s equipment ensuring that the equipment is as per the AFC Equipment Regulations. ”

All the AFC has to do is to remove or amend the clause “he goes into the team dressing room” because checking the eligibility card of the players can be done outside the dressing room. Besides, checking the players’ equipment can’t be done until they are suited up for the game anyway.

So having both checks outside the dressing room will save everyone from having to teach gender sensitivity in dressing rooms to non-kayumanggi football players.

The comment on the cup size of Cristy Ramos was pambabastos anytime, anywhere and that cannot be corrected by a simple amendment of Official Countdown guidelines. It will entail a lot of sex education.

However, the problem of a half-dressed player inside a dressing room can be eliminated by simply amending the procedure that seems to have been written before female Match Commissioners became common.

As for Arnold Clavio, if you were to measure his brain in terms of bra sizes, he would probably be braless.

After more than 30 days

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the March 21st, 2012

At the beginning of the impeachment trial, the question was: Is Renato Corona morally fit to remain as Chief Justice?

After 30 days of trial, I think the question is now: What does the country really need, an honest and independent judiciary or Renato Corona?

At today’s impeachment trial

Posted in Manuel Buencamino,Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 21st, 2012

After a few days of seeming sobriety, Sen. Miriam Santiago went apeshit again, this time on Land Registration Authority head Eulalio Diaz III whom she accused of being the president’s puppy because they were batch-mates in grade school, he belonged to the senate staff of Aquino, he worked as a volunteer in Aquino’s campaigns, and is now his appointee to the LRA. She wanted him to look him straight in the eye and plead guilty to her charge of guilt by association. Well, if Eulalio Diaz is a tool of Aquino by those standards, then the same standards can also be applied to Corona in relation to Gloria Arroyo. ‘Yun lang.


Ano ba talaga?

Posted in Manuel Buencamino,Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 15th, 2012


As of this writing Corona has produced five witnesses. His first witness testified on the provenance of the impeachment complaint, a topic that the Impeachment Court ruled off-limits two months ago. All of Monday and long minutes of Tuesday were wasted as the Senate tolerated his bellyaching over the late release of his pork barrel. Why did the Impeachment Court put up with him? Because senators are politicians and the witness is the kingpin of a vote-rich congressional district.

The next witness was a woman from the Supreme Court. She produced documents regarding Corona’s salaries and allowances. Two other witnesses, one from the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the other from the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, testified on Corona’s allowances. What for? According to Corona’s chief counsel they were called to clarify issues regarding the source of Corona’s wealth. But a senator pointed out that there was no need to explain the source of Corona’s wealth since the Senate already granted Corona’s motion to drop all references to it. That’s four defense witnesses speaking on matters that are irrelevant and immaterial. Ano ba talaga?

The first defense witness to address the allegation that Corona mis-declared his SALNs explained why a property in Marikina that was in Mrs. Corona name belonged to him. He said he bought the property from Mrs. Corona 20 years ago but he just never got around to putting it in his name. He presented a deed of sale as proof of ownership. So a deed of sale is better proof of ownership than title to a property? Now comes Corona’s non-disclosure of a condominium unit in Makati. He said he did not own it despite a deed of sale and a title to the unit because he had not taken possession of it yet. Ano ba talaga?

Corona keeps repeating, “When I submitted myself to the Senate from the start, I trusted our senators that they will do their duty responsibly. Whatever verdict they will have, I will accept it.” But last February Corona petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the trial because the Impeachment Court acted “with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.” Ano ba talaga?

Corona claims he is not hiding his dollar accounts and will produce them in due time. But he petitioned the Supreme Court to prohibit the opening of his dollar accounts. Ano ba talaga?

Corona said he closed his multimillion peso account with PSBank on the day he was impeached because he lost his trust in the bank. But he opened a new account in the same bank with the money from his closed account. Ano ba talaga?

Corona pointed to money from a family firm he claimed his wife owned to explain how he was able to buy high-end condos and maintain several hefty peso and dollar bank accounts. And then Ana Basa and Sister Flory Basa raised questions about Mrs. Corona’s ownership of the family firm. Now Corona says any mention of the family firm is irrelevant to the impeachment. Ano ba talaga?

Corona says he will personally explain everything before the Impeachment Court. But he also says he will do so only if his lawyers allow him to testify. Ano ba talaga?

The truth is everybody already knows the truth and everybody knows what needs to be done. The problem is the doing will be done by 23 politicians, some of whom you would not trust with your pet cobra.

Also in Interaksyon.com

A Judd of whine

Posted in Manuel Buencamino,Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the March 12th, 2012

Interaksyon, the online news portal of TV5, reported that the Senate Impeachment Court found Corona defense counsel Jose “Judd” Roy III in indirect contempt for claiming in a hastily called press conference last month that “Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa was calling up senators and dangling a P100-million bribe to defy the Supreme Court decision against opening of dollar accounts allegedly owned by Corona.”

Not surprisingly, Atty. Roy’s reaction to the contempt citation was typical Corona.

“Why only me, it was a concerted efforts from us, why singling me out,” whined tough guy Judd.


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