31 October 2013

BPO group to Aquino: We are not stupid

BPO group to Aquino: We are not stupid
Public funds being used for political patronage’
12:17 am | Friday, November 1st, 2013

The most telling criticism of President Aquino’s defense of the pork barrel system came from workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry that employs young, educated and tech-savvy Filipinos estimated at nearly a million strong.

We are not stupid! We are angry, we are disgusted, and we will not allow this to pass,” the BPO Industry Employees Network, or BIEN, said Thursday in a sharp reaction to President Aquino’s 12-minute statement to the nation on Wednesday night.

The corruption that goes with the pork barrel system has hounded our country since the 1980s. The money that we pay as taxes is being compromised and the President has the gall to tell us that it is not being pocketed,” said the umbrella group for workers in over 200 companies nationwide.

In his address, Aquino declared that he would prosecute those involved in raiding the allocations from the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, meant to uplift the countryside and ease the plight of typhoon victims.

The President angrily denounced criticism against his own pork barrel funds—P600 billion proposed for next year for special purposes—and the Disbursement Acceleration program (DAP), a little-known impounding facility for government savings purportedly created in 2011 to pump-prime the economy set back by low infrastructure spending at the outset of his term.
The issue here is theft,” he said. “I am not a thief.”

Peachy Rallonza-Bretaña, one of the persons behind the recent pork barrel protests, said: “I think he got hurt by being called the pork barrel king, and that he did not move on. He focused too much on that it became all about him…. It wasn’t what the people wanted to hear.”

The Scrap Pork Network, in a statement, said similar pork barrel controversies could continue unless the system is overhauled, and it cannot be done until the President keeps on defending it.

We want the vulnerabilities not only plugged but a strong wall put in front of it. We want governance improved and that’s why we want the pork barrel system gone and the Freedom of Information Act in place. We can’t be experiencing this every few years because you are stubbornly defending keeping the pork barrel in place,” it said in a statement.

We want public service improved that’s why we want public funds to go straight to the departments without being a tool for patronage politics by trapos to maintain their political dynasties.”

Wednesday night’s broadcast marked the first time the Aquino administration demanded from the nation’s networks access for a prime time slot—resorted to in the past by Malacañang to address grave national issues. Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used this vehicle to say “I am sorry” in the midst of calls for her ouster following allegations she stole the 2004 presidential election.

Aquino’s address came amid public outrage at allegations that Janet Lim-Napoles channeled state funds—from the PDAF and revenues from the Malampaya oil and gas fields off Palawan province—into kickbacks.

Court ruling soon

The constitutionality of the PDAF and the DAP has been raised in the Supreme Court. A ruling is expected by year’s end.

Three days before the Million People March in August demanding the abolition of the PDAF, Aquino announced that the congressional pork barrel had been abolished. But the high court in hearings last month said that only Congress could scrap the PDAF.

It said the high tribunal could also do this by declaring it unconstitutional.

Following Aquino’s declaration of the death of pork, the House of Representatives shifted next year’s PDAF allocation of P26 billion to six executive departments but retained the power to designate projects for the lawmakers, a point at issue in the Supreme Court cases.

Aquino insisted in his address on Wednesday night that he needed the P600 billion in special funds—lump sum and discretionary—in the General Appropriations Act next year to address such things as natural calamities and the rebuilding of Zamboanga City following the uprising staged by the Moro National Liberation Front last month, among others.

The President said the DAP, which had impounded some P170 billion in government savings since its creation in 2011, had positively contributed to the 7-percent growth of the economy last year, a fact acknowledged by the World Bank, and the investment upgrades the country received from credit-rating agencies paid millions by the state to undertake the analysis.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has acknowledged that the DAP was the source of the additional pork from P50 million to P100 million given to 20 senators who voted to convict Chief Just Renato Corona last year for dishonesty in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Petitioners in the Supreme Court cases claim the President cannot move state savings from one department to another under the Constitution.

Bonuses to SSS, GSIS

BIEN lambasted the President for his failure to prosecute a single corrupt Arroyo official.
Some of those officials are enjoying your protection after you appointed them as members of your Cabinet. You appointed officials in the Social Security System, Philippine Heath Insurance, Government Service Insurance System and other government-owned and -controlled corporations who continue to enjoy millions of bonuses that come from our hard work, blood, and sweat, and you tell us you are all holy and innocent?” the group said.
Yes, Mr. President, we are very angry, for you made us look stupid and incapable of thinking. We are employees who pay taxes so that the government can provide social services to the most needy in our society yet you failed to provide even the simplest forms of relief in times of calamities and disasters,” it added.

BIEN was referring to the relief assistance given to the people affected by the recent destructive earthquake in Bohol province.

[That amount] is incomparable to the amount you spend in useless bonuses and incentives of high officials of different government agencies,” it said. “We have lost confidence in your government to manage our money after you’ve made us look stupid by trying to wash your hands clean of corruption!”

Dwindling popularity

Mr. Aquino did not say anything new and did not depart from his long-standing defense of the pork barrel, especially presidential pork. He only further showed his desperation to maintain pork,” Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said in a statement.

It is clear that Mr. Aquino made the speech in response to his dwindling popularity. Despite the feel-good rhetoric and cover-up attempts, it is clear that the Aquino regime remains in panic mode and that Aquino is losing sleep, if not hair, over the people’s mounting anger and protests over the pork barrel,” the KMU added.

The Kilusang Kontrapork said: “You miss the point, Mr. President. Pork is essentially patronage, not only fund misuse…. What we expected from

P-Noy last night was a list of needed reforms in the public finance system of the country, beginning with the elimination of all pork. What we got was a shrouded defense of pork.”

29 October 2013

PMAers speak up

PMAers speak up

9:15 pm | Sunday, October 27th, 2013
 5  481  471

For many years, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. was largely a social club attending to homecoming affairs held annually during the month of February. Parades, class gatherings, picnics and donations for Fort Del Pilar were the order of the day insofar as homecoming activities were concerned. The association honored silver and golden jubilarians, as well as prominent alumni who distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavor, particularly those that rose to high positions in the military organization. There were programs that aimed to promote professionalism in the service but these were few and far between.

When it came to crucial issues of national concern, the association remained silent as though it had nothing to contribute to the exchange of ideas and views in our society. This state of affairs was the result of an association dominated by officers on active duty who are not allowed to publicly express their views on political matters, especially when they contradict official government policy. Neither are they allowed to air their grievances except through the established chain of command. Any violation of this principle could result in disciplinary action, including a possible court martial.

A good example of this reticence to speak up has to do with the “revolving door” policy of the government as it concerns the term of office of the AFP chief of staff. For more than a decade now we have had AFP chiefs serving, on the average, for 12 months at a time. Because of the rapid turnover at the top, appointments in many key positions below such as the head of the Western Mindanao Command, Eastern Mindanao Command, Central Command in the Visayas, the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and other major commands are basically short-term assignments. The commander has very little time to engage in meaningful planning of long-term projects that could very well bear fruit in the future.

Incidentally, our barangay chiefs, who will be elected today, will serve for a fixed term of three years.

One glaring anomaly that I have raised a number of times concerns the appointment of the head of the PMA. This premier military institution of the land, an institution that produces most of the key leaders of our armed forces, is headed by officials on the verge of retirement. The current superintendent retires in February after less than a year in office. He leaves without seeing any class graduate. His predecessor had even less time, staying at his post for only five months before retirement.
What was on the minds of our military leaders when these appointments were made? Certainly it was not the best interests of the institution. Just what can one expect from officers who are marking time prior to starting a new chapter in their lives?

And so, it is left to retired PMA graduates no longer in the active service, or in government, to speak up for their fellow alumni who share similar sentiments.
This is their voice.


Cognizant of the maxim that PUBLIC OFFICE IS A PUBLIC TRUST;

Conscious of the desire of the Filipino people for reform, transparency, and accountability in government operations;

Mindful of the negative long-term implication to peace and order and national security of the improper use of public funds and the non-adherence to accountability of public officials;

Aware of the current issues against the Congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the off-budget Presidential special funds, consisting of the Malampaya Fund, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Fund, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Fund and the Road Users Tax Fund;

Knowing that the current issues are a result of a systems failure in governance, exacerbated by a breach of ethical standards by some public officials; and
Believing that national progress and the upliftment of the quality of life of all Filipinos, especially the less fortunate in society, can be better achieved if public funds are properly used;

We, the PMA Alumni Advocacy Group, composed of graduates of the Philippine Military Academy who are no longer in active service, hereby strongly recommend that:

1. The Congress and the President of the Philippines totally abolish the Congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel funds” in whatever form;

2. The President of the Philippines discontinue the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP);

3. The President submit all unbudgeted funds, like the Malampaya Fund, the Road Users Tax, and the social funds from the PAGCOR and the PCSO, to the budgetary process and oversight power of Congress;

4. The Congress of the Philippines, in turn, provide the President with enough funds to deal with calamities and other contingencies, subject to its oversight power;

5. The Congress enact a law which provides that all revenues of the government from whatever source, including but not limited to the Malampaya Fund, the Road Users Tax, the PAGCOR Fund, and the PCSO Fund, be deposited in the National Treasury to be spent only as may be provided in the yearly General Appropriations Act, repealing or amending as necessary existing laws and Presidential issuances to the contrary;

6. Public officials who have been implicated in the misuse of their “pork barrel funds,” and/or in amassing wealth illegally in violation of the anti-plunder or anti-graft laws, take a leave of absence or resign from their positions, without prejudice to their prosecution for criminal offense as may be warranted;

7. The Judiciary of the Philippines, led by the Supreme Court, initiate reforms within its ranks to ensure speedy and impartial trial to punish the guilty and clear the innocent; and

8. All public officials, including members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), set the correct example in good governance, perform their duties as protectors of the people and the State, and not use their office as an opportunity to amass wealth illegally.

21 October 2013

Ex-Generals to Aquino: Give up your Pork


Retired generals on Saturday said Malacañang should transfer to the National Treasury the Malampaya Fund and all other state funds spent at the discretion of the President, so their use could be monitored. 

The pork barrel scandal that has held the public’s attention for three months now was also being discussed in military circles and the  consensus is to put all government accounts under the custody of the treasury, said retired Brig. Gen. Rosalino Alquiza, former president of the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO). 

“We have heard a lot of sentiments and positions [on the pork barrel]. I join the recommendation that the Malampaya Fund, the Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) fund and the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) fund that go directly to the presidential fund … should be deposited in the National Treasury and be subjected to the budgetary process,” Alquiza told the Inquirer. 

He said this should end the debate on the President’s pork barrel and the abolition of all forms of pork. 

Officials of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association (PMAAA), led by their chair, retired Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Reyes, graced the 115th Foundation Day parade of the PMA cadets in Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City. 

Reyes made no reference to the pork barrel scandal in the speech he delivered at Borromeo Field. 

But in an interview after the program, Reyes and members of the PMAAA board said Alquiza’s position was a common sentiment among the association’s members. 

Reyes said the PMAAA wanted good governance to prevail over the anomalies that had surfaced.

He said the PMAAA had been following the debates since the Commission on Audit revealed that P10 billion from the pork barrel of legislators may have been stolen using fake nongovernment organizations linked to suspected scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. 

The fake NGOs were allowed to facilitate the projects selected and financed through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of more than 20 lawmakers. 

The controversy soon included government expenditures financed by the Malampaya Fund, which represents the government’s share from the earnings of the natural gas project in Palawan. 

Napoles’ NGOs allegedly accessed some of this fund, too, when Malacañang disbursed livelihood money for victims of Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2009. 

Reyes said the PMAAA was not in a position to pass judgment on how the PDAF or the Malampaya Fund had been spent, but the retired generals believed that all government funds “must go through a clear process of checks and balances.” 

Presidential Decree No. 910, issued by former President Ferdinand Marcos, allows the president access to the Malampaya Fund, which is to be used primarily for energy-related projects, Alquiza said. 

But PD 910 should no longer be valid after the 1987 Constitution took effect, he said. 

Alquiza said the PMAAA was also concerned about “this new mammal called the Disbursement Acceleration Program,” a policy employed by Malacañang to allocate savings to lawmakers which many believe was “used for patronage politics.” 

Reyes said the PMAAA did not want the President to lose his flexibility to govern the country, but the solution to the pork barrel scandal would be to reduce the discretionary funds available to his office.

05 October 2013

Revolutionary Government

Revolutionary govt; Republica Filipina
FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) |
Updated October 6, 2013 - 12:00am

Iceland is Iceland and the Philippines is the Philippines. Both rank high among top users of Facebook and Twitter.  They may be miles apart but thinking the same thing — a crowd sourced Constitution to steer government back to the people.
However Iceland retained its Parliament, its crisis did not warrant removal. Two-thirds of the people voted yes in a referendum for the crowd-sourced constitution but it struggles in the Althing, still the stronghold of the establishment.
Not so the Philippines. Here we could do better than Iceland in crowd-sourcing a new Constitution for a new beginning. The crisis leaves us no choice but for a quick surgery to save the country through a transition council with revolutionary powers.
*   *   *
I do not know Dr. Emmanuel “Noli” Tiu Santos. From his wall in Facebook comes this Strategic Plan for Revolutionary Government.
He is founding president/chairman-CEO at International Academy of Management and Economics (IAME). He is also chairman and president of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS).
Here it is his suggested plan:
1. Proclamation No. 001-82113, Series of 2013
Proclaiming a Revolutionary Government, Revoking the 1987 Constitution, and Promulgating the Transition Freedom Constitution for the Provisional Government.
2. Revolutionary Presidential Decree (RPD) 001-82113, Series of 2013
Abolition of Congress and Pork Barrel in any Guise or Form
3. RPD No. 002-82113, Series of 2013
Arrest of all those involved in the pork barrel scam and other forms of corruption and CONFISCATION OF PLUNDERED OR UNEXPLAINED WEALTH of elective and appointive officials, staff or employees, and private individuals. (Net worth of plundered or unexplained wealth minus net worth declared in the income tax return the year before assumption of public office equals net plundered or unexplained wealth.)
4. RPD No. 003-82113, Series of 2013
Adopt SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE as sufficient quantum of proof of evidence to convict any person, whether government official and employee and private individual, for violation of the Anti-Graft Law, Unexplained Wealth Law, Anti-Plunder of Wealth Law, Code of Ethics for Public Officials, and other related laws, while at the same time repealing the Rule on Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt provided in the Rules of Court, Anti-Graft Law, Anti-Plunder Law Unexplained Law, Code of Ethics for Public Officials, and other related laws.
5. RPD No.004-82113, Series 0f 2013
Criminalizing any abuse of power or discretion for any act or omission through whim, caprice, intent to extort, expectation of graft or bribe money, or personal hostility in any transaction with the government; establishing the presumption of probable cause to commit corruption by delaying the processing of papers required by law, ordinance, rules, or regulations; and requiring only substantial evidence to convict the erring official or employee.
*      *      *
I am now reading “A Wide-Angle View of the Philippine Colonial Experience Thru the lens of Latin America” by Elizabeth Medina, a Filipina living in Chile.
Our efforts today for a new beginning have their roots in our wars of independence in the Spanish period.
The Philippine Republic (Spanish: República Filipina, Tagalog: Republika ng Pilipinas), more commonly known as the First Philippine Republic or the Malolos Republic was a short-lived insurgent revolutionary government in the Philippines. It was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 23, 1899 in MalolosBulacan, and endured until the capture and surrender of Emilio Aguinaldo to the American forces on March 23, 1901 in PalananIsabela, which effectively dissolved the First Republic.
The establishment of the Philippine Republic was the culmination of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule.. That constitution was proclaimed on 22 January 1899, transforming the government into what is known today as the First Philippine Republic, with Aguinaldo as its president.
 It was the first Constitutional Republic in Asia. It was titled “Constitución política”, and was written in Spanish following the declaration of independence from Spain, proclaimed on January 20, 1899, and was enacted and ratified by the Malolos Congress, a Congress held in Malolos, Bulacan.
The Republic at Malolos was the first to frame a comprehensive constitution duly approved by an elected congress (A representative democracy). Thus making this, the first Constitutional Republic in Asia. “ — Wikipedia
My friend, constitutional warrior Orion Dumdum has sent the first posting for “A new Constitution for a new beginning.” It was written by Kristian Ligsay Jensen (A Filipino who lives in Denmark) on behalf of the CoRRECT™ Movement.
The draft presented here is a Malolos-style Draft. I’m attempting to create a Constitution for the Philippines as it might look like had we not lost our parliamentary heritage from the 1899 Malolos Constitution of the First Philippine Republic.
I have appropriated a lot of the terminology used in the Malolos Constitution — a parliamentary republic. These terms have a longer tradition of use in the Philippines. Hence, the more usual Anglo-Saxon parliamentary terminology like Parliament, Cabinet, Prime Minister, Minister, and Member of Parliament are respectively replaced with Fil-Hispanic parliamentary terminology like Assembly, Council of Government, President of the Council of Government, Secretary, and Representative.
Where applicable, I have also incorporated features found in the Malolos Constitution, most notably the reintroduction of the Permanent Commission, which was an important part of the First Philippine Republic. The Malolos Constitution was also secular, so I have strengthened that feature as well.
Where there has been some doubt about the features of the Malolos Constitution, whether in terminology or procedure, I have had to extrapolate by looking at the Constitutions of countries from which the Malolos Constitution drew inspiration from, namely: Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Belgium, and France.
I have also looked at the Constitution of Spain, which no doubt must have also influenced the First Philippine Republic. Among the countries just mentioned, Mexico’s current Constitution from 1917 is the one that resembles the Malolos Constitution most, so that is the one I drew from most.
The following is based largely on the Amended 1987 Constitution as proposed by the Consultative Commission:
Economic Liberalization:  All citizenship restrictions for the ownership of alienable land, the exploitation of natural resources, the operation of public utilities, the ownership of mass media, advertising companies, and educational institutions, and the practice of professions are removed.
 Evolving Federalism: Local autonomy is enhanced with provisions allowing for the creation of autonomous territories anywhere in the country, and for a federal system to be implemented upon the ratification of the people when at least 60% of the country is composed of autonomous territories.
 Parliamentary System: The current presidential form of government is replaced with a parliamentary form of government, where the executive branch of government is made directly responsible to the legislative branch of government, and the functions of Head of State and Head of Government are separated.

Transition Council

What are transition councils for?
(The Philippine Star) |
Updated September 22, 2013 - 12:00am

With Noynoy Aquino fast developing into a lame duck president, the talk among responsible Filipinos is how to move on — what do we do to make sure the country does not deteriorate beyond repair.
We have been let down so grievously by those to whom we have entrusted the running of our country.
We need to tackle national problems strewn in the wake of the latest government crises – the Napoles expose of pork barrel scam and the fighting in Zamboanga that has cost dozens of lives and with no prospect of ending. Letting it just fester will be our doom.
More and more are thinking of seizing hold of the situation instead of letting matters just drift. There are various scenarios to consider — the most crucial of which is to create a transition government and get the most able, experienced and patriotic Filipinos with unsullied reputations whether in or out of government to keep the country’s institutions running properly.
It may be ironic but the first task of preserving our chosen democratic way of life is to create a revolutionary government acting as a transition council. The test of revolutionary government would be to write a new Constitution and overhaul the entire system of governance.  
We must keep repeating that to ourselves that any other solution will fall short of stopping pork barrel scams and public moneys being filched by politicians to the detriment of the country. Neither do we have the luxury of time.
Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

*      *      *
To those with reservations and hope that something can still be done to save the country from utter perdition should be reminded that at present all officials elected in 2010 and 2013 are illegally occupying their posts. The government acting through the Comelec is stonewalling all questions regarding this election so the duty falls on the citizenry to pick up the gauntlet.
These elections were failed elections and remain unresolved to this day.
How can an illegal government try the criminals of the Napoles pork barrel scams when it does not have the mandate from the people?
Moreover, the investigation is being made by people who took part in the crime either by actual commission or neglect in doing something about it. We have a government claiming to be against corruption and yet abets the very same corruption. We are deceived.
If we are to create a new society it must be founded on moral principles of government. The revelations of the pork barrel scams leave us no options unless we meet the challenge now of creating a new system that follows the democratic principle of government that is for the people by the people and of the people.
That task should have begun with the election failures of 2010 and 2013. We are not the first country that had had to confront the task of making the leap of change through revolution peacefully if possible and violently if necessary. Only then can we secure the future of our country.
 For this we will need to move fast or events will overtake us end up with the status quo, stuck in the oligarchic society we had tried to reform in the first EDSA that fooled so many reformers, some of whom gave up their lives and fortunes for the cause.
*      *      *
The military is mandated by the Constitution as protector of the state when it is threatened either internally or externally. But it can only act if there is a transition council under the principle that civic authority is supreme at all times. That can happen only if there is a civil transition council that the military can support. Without the transition council the military has no choice but support the existing government under the dictum of civilian supremacy.
Therefore reform-minded Filipinos must create a transition council, empowered to forge a new constitution, punish all government officials who were part of the scam and preside over new elections. All stolen moneys by politicians and officials alike should be returned to the national treasury under pain of being charged with crimes without bail. These moneys could instead be by the state for a new government set up by real ballots and a true counting.
*      *      *
It is unacceptable that the very same persons who committed the Napoles pork barrel crimes are allowed and continue to be in charge of investigating the crimes.
 Only a transition government can work out a juridical procedure to punish those who had shamelessly stolen the moneys intended for infrastructure and social services.
We must pursue this line while the issues are hot and burning and the people have awakened with a new energy to set the country right.  
If we don’t seize the moment then we may revert to business as usual with unscrupulous politicians feasting on public moneys with impunity.
*      *      *
The transition council follows the practice of “provisional government” that has been used in other parts of the world when a country is devoid of government. The Smartmatic PCOS elections combined with the Napoles pork barrel leaves us very little choice but confront the fact that we do not have government – only a seizure  by thugs elected by pre-programmed machines only to steal public moneys.
Thieves have broken down our electoral system, violated the Constitution and are helping themselves to public moneys. If that is not an indication that no one is charge, I wonder what else will.
*      *      *
There are provisional governments, transition councils, interim councils of every kind and hue in most countries after a revolution peaceful or otherwise. We had one after Cory Aquino’s EDSA but it ultimately failed  to carry out the reforms envisioned by the revolution. This time we must proceed more carefully as we move to what can be  considered a God-given opportunity to try again.
*      *      *