Saturday, July 30, 2011

Out of sight, out of mind


Call Gloria anything you want, but as Emil Jurado would say, you can never question Gloria's work ethic. After Typhoon Juaning hit Bicol, there were complaints from Albay Governor Joey Salceda about how PAGASA failed to inform them that the typhoon would be passing through their province. This is less than a week after the yellow president praised the agency for their accurate predictions and forecasts.

Now many people are asking where the president was at the height of the typhoon. Of course, we can expect his mouthpieces to say that th president was monitoring the situation, but wouldn't it have be better if the president made himself visible during the storm?

I remember in years past, PGMA, even when a typhoon was pounding Manila, would be out of Malacanang, attending the NDCC meetings or checking out evacuation areas. This is clearly not the case with Penoy, who has been out of sight, out of mind. The most visible official i have seen so far last Friday was that noisy undersecretary of PAGASA.

At a time when the people need to see leadership, the president was clearly absent, choosing to delegate authority rather than take charge. It is surprising since the yellow president and his palace have been known to micromanage anything that has anything to do with his perceived arch-enemy, Gloria Arroyo, but doesn't want to involve itself with things like disaster management. Ika nga, out of sight, out of mind. In his July 29, 2011 column, Emil Jurado had this to say:


And where, oh where was DSWD head honcho Stinky Soliman? Up to now, Albay has yet to receive much-needed relief. If i know my fellow Bicolanos, I would not be surprised if Joey Salceda is a tad bit disillusioned with his President right now.

Now, if you still have doubts, you might want to check the clippings below and see how the present leadership compares to the past when it comes to work ethics.











That's leadership you won't get with Penoy. 30

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Micromanaging

With too many problems facing the country that needs to be addressed, it is surprising why the president and his minions try to meddle into every little detail that should be the job of his cabinet secretaries. It is quite telling, though, why the Palace is so interested in the Amaptuan and Bedol brouhaha and everyone who has 25% of his brain working has already deduced that Bedol and Amaptuan will be used by the Palace in their Anti-Arroyo propaganda. Even the hospitalization of Ampatuan is being handled by the Palace, while people suffer from high oil prices and high commodity prices -- something that is equally, if not more important than the Palace's anti-Arroyo stance.

One wonders how the president could appear to be doing so much without doing anything at all. Yes, the media shows Penoy doing all sorts of activities, yet the supposed benefits of those activities never seem to trickle down to the most deprived segments of our society. I almost seems like there is no president at all.

Now we are seeing so many explosive revelations about alleged anomalies and election frauds, to which evidences are presented not in a court of law but in the media. It also seems that the government knows they have nothing solid against Arroyo and that they just want her to be tried in the media.

What the President needs to do is stop meddling in everything anti-Arroyo and concentrate on his campaign promises, many of which remain unfulfilled after a year in office. With the SONA just days away, I fear that Penoy will make many more promises without completing first the promises he made during the elections.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Perjury for Margie?

Margie Juico swore under oath in a Senate hearing regarding the PCSO donation to the Bishops that she was not the source of the claim that the Bishops bought Pajeros using donations from the charity office. Juico, who was questioned by Senator Jinggoy Estrada regarding the source of the term "Pajero Bishops" said she never said the word Pajero and blamed the media for taking her statements out of context.

Yet it was Margie Juico herself, in an interview on TV, who said to the effect that she is bothered by the fact that the money donated to the bishops could have been put to good use kesa pinambili lang ng Pajero.





Margie perjured herself and there must be consequences to this. In fact, many people are beginning to suspect that the Pajero issue cropped up in an attempt to "put the bishops in their proper place" and to shame Gloria Arroyo (killing two birds with one stone, so to speak).
She must be held responsible for committing an act so grievous that it placed the integrity of the Catholic Bishops and the Roman Catholic Church to question.

It was indeed a lucky break that Sen. Miriam Santiago did her homework, looking into the claim by the COA that the donations were unconstitutional. In her opening statement, she said that the COA's duty was to audit and questions on constitutionality should have been referred to the DOJ. She even asked why the Senate is wasting its time investigating something so petty, when she has it from a personal source that there is a bigger issue involving the PCSO amounting to billions of pesos.

In her blog, Sen. Santiago presented the following:

Statement at the public hearing on alleged PCSO anomalies

held by the blue ribbon committee on 13 July 2011


The Facts

It appears from the 2009 report by the Commission on Audit that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office charged to its Charity Fund the total amount ofP6.94 million for five utility vehicles granted to certain dioceses of the Catholic church.

On the face of each check, in so many words, the following explanation was typed: “Purchase of one unit 4 x 4 service vehicle to be used by the diocese in its various community and health programs.”

Each of the bishops involved used the PCSO grants to purchase the following utility vehicles: a secondhand ten-year-old Nissan Pathfinder pickup; a Mitsubishi Strada pickup; a Toyota Grandia Hi-Ace; a Mitsubishi Montero; and an Isuzu Crosswind.

The COA report said that this action was a violation of the constitutional provision that no public money should be appropriated, directly or indirectly, for the use of any church.

The Law

The Constitution contains at least three specific provisions concerning the relationship of church and state.

The first provision is found in Article 2, Declaration of Principles, which states in Section 6: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

The second provision is found in Article 3, Bill of Rights, which states in Section 5: “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

And the third provision is found in Article 6, the Legislative Department, which states in Section 29 paragraph 2: “No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion. . . .”

The Issue

The issue is whether the 2009 COA report is correct, in finding that the grant ofP6.49 million to certain dioceses of the Catholic church violates the Constitution.

I humbly submit that the COA report is wrong, and that there was no constitutional violation. Under the Constitution, the power of the COA is to audit government funds, not to settle questions of constitutional law. That power is granted only to the Supreme Court. COA should have recommended that the constitutional issue should be raised with the Department of Justice, which is the official legal adviser of the executive branch of the government.

Constitutional Analysis

Constitutional law consists, not only of the Constitution, but also of the cases decided by the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds. So far, the only case decided by the Supreme Court that has some bearing on the present issue is the 1937 case ofAglipay v. Ruiz.[1]

The post office issued postage stamps commemorating an international eucharistic congress of the Catholic church. The issue was whether the stamps used public money for religious purposes, thus violating the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that there was no violation:

It is obvious that while the issuance and sale of the stamps in question may be said to be inseparably linked with an event of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any, received by the Roman Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Government. We are of the opinion that the Government should not be embarrassed in its activities simply because of incidental results, more or less religious in character, if the purpose had in view is one which could legitimately be undertaken by appropriate legislation. The main purpose should not be frustrated by its subordination to mere incidental results not contemplated. (Emphasis added.)

Thus, the test is the basic purpose, and not the mere incidental result, of the use of public funds. The basic purpose of the grant of public funds is clearly stated on the face of the checks themselves: “purchase of service vehicles to be used by the diocese in its various community and health programs.” If there is any benefit to the bishop and the diocese, it is merely incidental.

The Threefold Test:

Purpose, Effect, Entanglement

The provision in our Bill of Rights consists of two clauses:

  • The Establishment Clause, prohibiting Congress from establishing a state religion; and

  • The Free Exercise Clause, denying to Congress the power to prohibit the free exercise of religion.

Under the Establishment Clause, the general guide is the concept of “neutrality.” This means that government should act to achieve only goals which are secular, meaning goals which are worldly; as distinguished from goals which are spiritual. Government should achieve secular goals in a religiously neutral manner.

To determine what is a religiously neutral act, the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted a threefold test called purpose, effect, entanglement. To determine whether a law that is religiously neutral on its face violates the Establishment Clause, the Court will consider three factors, which I shall now apply to the pending PCSO case:

1. Does the law have a secular purpose?

Answer: Yes, because the PCSO law (R.A. No. 1169, as amended) authorizes the PCSO “to engage in health and welfare-related investments, programs, projects, and activities,” by itself or in collaboration with others.

2. Does the law have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion?

Answer: No, the PCSO law does not even mention religion.

3. Does the law create an excessive entanglement between government and religion?

Answer: No, as I shall now explain.

The threefold test was laid down in the 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzman[2]decided by the US Supreme Court. It is not binding, but it is authoritative in our jurisdiction. In Lemon, the Court said that in determining whether a law involves excessive entanglement between government and religion, we must conduct the following analysis:

1. Consider the nature of the institution that received the benefit from the government.

2. Consider the nature of the aid that the government gave to the bishops.

3. Consider the resulting relationship between the government and the bishops.

The donations pass the threefold legal test under jurisprudence. However, during the hearing, PCSO management apparently admitted that it has not given similar donations to any other religion. If so, then PCSO management appears to be giving preference to the Catholic religion, and that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.


Repeal the PCSO Charter


As chair of the Senate committee on revision of laws, I shall call a public hearing this August on a new PCSO charter, as well as a new Pagcor charter. Both the PCSO and Pagcor funds constitute the President’s Social Fund, which has served as a black budget, meaning a budget insulated from public scrutiny, confined to the dark and insulated from sunshine, sneaked through the back door instead of undergoing the open process of congressional budgetary authorization.

Under existing law, PCSO generates revenues from the sale of sweepstakes and lotto tickets. The resulting revenues are allocated, as follows:

  • 55% to the Prize Fund

  • 30% to the Charity Fund

  • 15% to the Operating Fund

The Charity Fund and the Operating Fund – or in other words, 45% of the revenues – are allocated by the PCSO Board, apparently with the approval of the President. According to the 2008 COA report, the total deposits to the bank’s current account for the three Funds were in the aggregate amount of P7.603 BILLION.

To give to the PCSO Board the power to allocate the galactic sum of P7.603 BILLION A YEAR is to excavate a yawning democratic deficit. The present situation is feudal and contrary to best international practice. The best practice is the one-fund concept, under which all government revenues are remitted to the Treasury, and disbursed only as authorized by Congress. There should be no President’s Social Fund, because the entire government budget is already his budget. This is why we call it the President’s Budget.

The new law will repeal not only the PCSO charter, but also all the various republic acts that seek to allocate certain PCSO funds to alphabet-soup national programs. The new law will limit the PCSO Board only to the function of regulating and supervising sweepstakes and lotto operations.

The entire revenues for the year will be remitted to the national treasury. Only the President and Congress will prioritize and allocate the fund, except that 5% of the lotto earnings shall be given to local government units, and only 10% shall be allocated for administrative expenses. The PCSO bureaucracy shall be slashed, their allowances and privileges abolished, and the public relations budget removed.

And while this process of building on the ashes takes place, I respectfully move that this blue ribbon committee should immediately recommend to the Ombudsman the criminal prosecution of all PCSO officials responsible for depositing in 2009 with a private commercial bank the sum of P1.548 BILLION without the prior approval of the Department of Finance, as required under DOF Order No. 27-05.

By the process of lateral thinking, I respectfully move to investigate the source of the false report about the so-called “Pajero bishops,” when it turns out that no Pajeros were involved. Who is this maleficent twisted genius? Was this media spin designed to cover up the crime of depositing without authorization in a private bank the sum of P1.548 BILLION? Was this media spin further designed to call public attention away from the annual sum of some P 7.6 BILLION made available to the sticky fingers of the PCSO Board?

Like the wanton world-class theft of public funds and conspicuous consumption generated by the road user’s tax, the PCSO anomaly is bodaciously corrupt. Keep the bishops out of it. #

—–

[1] 64 Phil. 206 (1937).

[2] 403 US 602 (1971).


Miriam's presentation was quite revealing, to say the least.

The best part of the hearing was when Juico' plans backfired, and people were shocked with the revelation that the PCSO donations to the Bishops was blown out of proportion by Juico and the present board, with Juico being booed by the audience during the hearing.

Now that the truth has been revealed, it is time Margie Juico faced justice for wasting the Senate's and the peoples' time and money in a wild-goose chase that now appears to be a smoke screen for an even bigger scandal -- a scandal which might put Juico in a bad light, perhaps?

The ball is now in the Seante's court. They should find Margie Juico guilty of perjury if only to send a message to others that the Senate will not be used to destroy other people's credibility.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aha!


In his show on DZBB last week, Arnold Clavio shared this blind item.

Sino itong mataas na opisyal na opisyal ng gobyerno na niregaluhan ng isang negosyante ng BMW X6M na tinest drive nga niya sa kanyang bahay/opisina?

Clavio, while giving out clues, and with Mike Enriquez joining in the guessing, received a text message from Malacanang via Ed Lacirda saying that they deny that the President bought a BMW X6M, to which Clavio replied:

Oo nga. hindi nga bumili. Bigay nga eh.

---
It is funny how Malacanang became so defensive about this issue. Guilty ba?


The Yellow Fever symptom of paranoia

Paranoid. That is the best word to describe the current government. Everywhre they look, they see Gloria plotting against them. And with good reason, since they did the same to Gloria when she was president. They know full well that now that Penoy is in power, they are at the receiving end of what they used to do to the past administration.

Penoy's paranoia stems from the fact that he has done nothing in his one year in office, and now that the SONA is drawing near, he has to do something to make the people think that he is. And so, he uses his secret weapon: Blame Gloria.

Blaming Gloria is this administration's favorite past time, but i contend that Penoy could take a page from Gloria's book. Ask anyone who worked for Malacanang during Gloria's term and they will tell you that Gloria is a workaholic -- something Penoy will never be accused of.



Let FPJ Rest

Here comes Susan Roces and her daughter again, demanding justice for FPJ who they claim was robbed of the presidency. This comes in the wake of Lintang Bedol's statements that there was indeed cheating in the national elections in Mindanao in 2004.

Here is a person who says something unsubstantiated yet immediately believed by people who want so much to believe that their camp won the elections. Totoo nga, sa Pilipnas, walang natatalo, lahat dinadaya. I pity these people whose egos are so big as to believe that they alone have the monopoly on honesty and deserving of the peoples' trust. I pity FPJ whose soul cannot rest because the people he left behind are still holding him back by not letting things go.

Col. Mariano's Message: "It is our right to replace the government"

In a video being circulated on the worldwide web, the deputy commander for naval reserves, Col. Generoso Mariano, called on the people to stop believing the lies being fed to us (by the government about the economy. Generoso is being supported by the Solidarity For Sovereignty (S4S).


video

Meanwhile, the S4S denounced the statements claimed by Col. Ariel Querubin that Col. Mariano's video was fake. The S4S said:

Kami po, ang SOLIDARITY 4 SOVEREIGNTY (S4S) ang nagpalabas ng video tape na ito. Kami po ang unang naglabas ng pangungurakot ni Gloria. Kahit ang kanyang pagka-imoral sa mga relasyon ay inilabas namin. Nagkampanya po kami sa buong bansa upang ilantad ang kanyang katiwalian at imoralidad. Kami rin po ang unang una nag-file sa Kongreso ng kasong impeachment kay Gloria ngunit kahit isang Kongresista ay walang nagendorso. Kasama po kami sa lahat ng mga pagkilos laban kay Gloria. Ano ang dahilan bakit ngayon ito inilabas? May mga nagsasabi na bigyan ng pagkakataon si Noynoy sapagkat isang taon pa lang. Bakit masyado tayong mapagbigay sa pinuno ngunit hindi naaawa sa kapwa Pilipinong nagdurusa araw-araw, sa mga nagugutom, sa mga hindi nakakaeskwela, sa mga walang trabaho, sa mga namamatay dahil sa sakit at walang gamot, sa mga biktima ng karahasan at krimen, atbp. Ilang libo pa ang mamamatay habang binibigyan natin ng dagdag na panahon si Noynoy na ipakita ang kanyang kakayanan. Milyun-milyon na ang naghihirap. Dapat sa unang araw pa lang ng pagupo ni Noynoy kung siya at talagang handa, dapat nagutos na siya sa kanyang mga tauhan na sagutin ang mga problemang ito. Kung hindi pala siya handa at hindi niya kaya, hindi dapat siya tumakbo. Sa pagbibigay sa kanya ng dagdag na palugit, lumalabas "trial and error" o "hit and miss" lang ang kanyang liderato. Husto ba ito o makatarungan sa mamamayang Pilipino? Hindi! Nagtatamasa na siya ng katakut-takot na kapangyarihan, ngunit hindi niya ito magamit kaagad-agad para sa nakararami na naghihirap? Maawa naman po tayo sa ating sambayanan. Mukhang pinaglalaruan lang tayong lahat.

Ayon kay Ariel Querubin hindi totoo ang video tape. Sumakay na naman sa isyu. Maliwanag na sinabi ni Col. Mariano sa Ch 5 na 33 taon na siyang nakipagtagisan sa kamatayan at hanggang ngayon buhay pa siya. Hindi niya tatalikuran itong deklarasyon niya, paninindigan niya ito. Ngunit tulad ng fake na awards ni Ariel na nilakad niya kay Erap ayon sa kanyang mga kasamahan - ang gold cross, medal of valor (hindi siya ang lumaban, batalyon ng Bikolanong si Col. Asidao ang nakipagencuentro) at pagpatay sa isang kumander daw (ang napatay ay ang "muse" na kinidnap hindi kumander) gusto na naman niyang magpasikat. Dapat respetuhin na lang niya si Col. Mariano, huwag na niyang pilitin na tabunan ito. Alam niyang bayani sa mata ng mga makabayang tao si Col. Generoso Mariano.

Ang mga sumusunod na "land mines" ay dapat nalutas na ni Noynoy. Ito ay ang unconstitutionality ng May 10 elections, ang "aspergers disorder" na kapansanan n Noynoy, ang pagkawala ng direksyon ng pamahalaan, ang hindi mapigtas na pagtaas ng mga presyo ng bilihin, isang taon na hindi pa nakukulong si Gloria, ang nagbabantang takeover ng coalition government pinangungunahan ng kaliwa, ang isyu sa Spratlys at RH Bill. Dito nakabase ang mga aksyon o hakbang ng S4S.

S4S, 7.19.11
Col. Mariano is currently being investigated by the Armed Forces because of his controversial video.

It is sad when people like Col. Mariano risk everything to air their sentiments, while some quarters who support the Yellow President simply dismiss it as a "propaganda". The many criticisms hounding this administration come from all factions of society, but still the Palace is suffering under the delusion that these criticisms are merely works of his enemies and not the true sentiments of the people. The people running this government are no longer in touch with the true sentiments of the people. They live in their protective bubble, happily test-driving Porsches and BMWs, attending concerts, going out on dates while the people go hungry. It is no different from Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned.

The government should look at Mariano's video as a wake-up call that there is indeed a problem, but they refuse to do so, wanting so much to believe that everything is alright in their quit little world. They will never accept their faults, nor accept that they too are human and capable of being blinded by their own biases. Having observed politics in out little nation for nearly a decade, i fear that Mariano is not the last Filipino who will call for a rejection of this do-nothing government.

Let no one say that the president has not been warned. It will be his own fault when he wakes up ousted one day.