Sunday, February 28, 2010

If elected, Villar vows to make Baguio smell of pine again

March 01, 2010 04:55:00
Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Original Story:

BAGUIO CITY—Seemingly dismayed by what this city had become, thanks to rapid development that has cost Baguio even the scent of pine trees, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar vowed to allocate the “necessary resources” to help this summer capital “regain its prominence” if elected to office.

“We know Baguio looks very different now...I believe we can bring back its beauty,” Villar told reporters in a press conference at La Trinidad, Benguet, where he and other NP candidates visited the vegetable trading post before heading for this city.

Under a Villar administration, he said he would spearhead the re-greening of Baguio with pine trees and proposed that e-jeepneys or electronic jeepneys be made to ply the city’s roads not only to reduce pollution but to serve as an added tourist attraction.

“Tourism and the environment go hand in hand. We have to clean the air in Baguio because pollution is a deterrent to tourism which provides jobs and livelihood opportunities in the city,” he said in a separate statement.

Villar said funding for an e-jeepney project could be tapped from the Development Bank of the Philippines or the National Development Corp.

“The local government can take the lead in securing the funding to establish fleets of e-jeeps but the national government under my leadership will commit the necessary resources for Baguio City,” he said.

He pledged to give priority to Baguio City, and northern Luzon, in the government’s tourism promotions and marketing campaigns.

At the press conference, Villar said Baguio and Tagaytay City were his two favorite tourist spots in the country.

The self-made billionaire said he owned a huge nursery of pine trees and added that he had long studied Baguio’s re-greening.

Original Story:

Cojuangco: No alliance with Villar

By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star
Updated March 01, 2010
12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - The leader of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) bloc in the House of Representatives disowned yesterday his party’s supposed alliance with presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel Villar and his Nacionalista Party.

Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco said NPC is sticking to its “neutral stance” when it comes to the position of president that is at stake in the May 10 elections.

“My father and I stand behind NPC’s neutral stance,” he said in a text message sent to The STAR.

His father is billionaire businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., NPC’s founder and chief financier, whom party members still regard as their principal leader.

“The NPC has done its duty by fielding its own (vice) presidential bet. Our participation in the presidential contest is now over,” Rep. Cojuangco said.

Two presidential candidates are nephews of the elder Cojuangco: Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP) and Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Rep. Cojuangco said NPC is supporting only the vice presidential bid of its member, Sen. Loren Legarda, who is Villar’s running mate.

He said his party president, former Isabela congressman Faustino Dy Jr., has apparently “acted unilaterally” on coalescing with Villar “without consulting with the rest of the party.”

“Let me stress: I do not agree with what Jun Dy has done, if in fact he has done so. And my father and I object to such an arrangement as it now does no good to be partisan,” he said.

He stressed that a coalition with Villar “will not help our local candidates; in fact, it will be very disruptive to them.”

Other members of the Cojuangco party said they would support their respective presidential candidates despite Dy’s supposed coalition with Villar’s NP.

The group of former South Cotabato Rep. Lou Antonino, her daughter incumbent Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio and Gov. Daisy Fuentes said they would continue to support the LP team of Aquino and Sen. Mar Roxas.

Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said he and several other NPC members are committed to Teodoro.

“We have committed to support Gibo and that will not change, the coalition notwithstanding. Our support for Gibo has been cleared with the party,” Aggabao said.

Other NPC congressmen backing Teodoro’s presidential candidacy include Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan, Elias Bulut of Kalinga-Apayao, Antonio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur, and George Arnaiz of Negros Oriental.

Teodoro headed the NPC bloc in the House when he was a Tarlac congressman.

Another party member, Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza, said NPC members still enjoy freedom of choice in supporting presidential and vice presidential candidates.

“Kanya-kanya pa rin (It’s still each to his own). In my case, I am a senatorial candidate of Erap (former President Joseph Estrada), whose presidential candidacy I am supporting. They cannot force me to abandon Erap,” he said.

He said the party would not sanction those who will not support Dy’s candidate for president.

He recalled that their party decided against fielding or supporting a presidential candidate when Sen. Francis Escudero, a party member, backed out of the race.

The supposed coalition between Dy and Villar has created problems for local NPC candidates, according to former Rep. Antonino.

“There are 239 NPC members at the congressional, provincial and local levels who are being opposed by NP candidates. What happens to them?” she asked. - With Jose Rodel Clapano

Original Story:

Top Provinces in terms of votes

  1. Cebu 2,416,368

  2. Pangasinan 1,662,094

  3. Cavite 1,654,989

  4. Negros Occidental 1,550,850

  5. Bulacan 1,479,765

  6. Davao del Sur 1,465,611

  7. Laguna 1,440,660

  8. Nueva Ecija 1,289,804

  9. Iloilo 1,257,661

  10. Rizal 1,256,194

  11. Batangas 1,226,698

  12. Pampanga 1,114,484

  13. Quezon 1,020,010

  14. Leyte 1,013,569

  15. Zamboanga del Sur 920,995

  16. Camarines Sur 916,349

  17. Isabela 867,053

  18. Misamis Oriental 780,333

  19. South Cotabato 733,566

  20. Bohol 729,815

Bishops urge Comelec to probe Villar’s ‘vote-buying’

02/28/2010 | 04:39 PM

Original Story:

Two Catholic bishops urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday to investigate presidential aspirant Senator Manuel Villar Jr. for alleged vote-buying.

In separate interviews, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez and Catarman Bishop Emmanuel Trance told Veritas radio candidates in the May 10 elections should not manipulate the poor.

"Do not use anyone, especially the poor and the children, for personal interest," Gutierrez said of Villar’s public display of generosity last week.

A few children who came to greet Villar went home P20 richer when he handed them the bills during his sorties in Batangas City and Lipa City.

Villar said he had not intended to hand out money, but he felt sorry for the children. (See: Villar gives P20 bills to kids in Batangas)

Villar later defended his actions, saying the money was meant to buy the children sweet potato, not votes. (See: Villar: P20 was meant to buy sweet potato, not votes)

Gutierrez and Trance said the Comelec should look into the matter.

"When you help it should be faith-based and love-driven. [Candidates] should present their platform rather than teach others to cheat," Gutierrez said.

Trance, for his part, noted that while he did not wish to pass judgment on the issue, candidates should be guided by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pastoral statement for the May polls.

"We are asking all the candidates to start serving our people now in the campaign period by being honest and sincere in educating our people on the real situation of the country and not to campaign to manipulate the perceptions of the people by winning by all means and all costs whether moral or immoral," he said.

Trance also said it is not just the Comelec's but also the people's responsibility to look into the alleged vote-buying by Villar.

Aside from defending the giving away of P20 bills, Villar also clarified that the distribution of scholarship certificates during a Nacionalista Party sortie in Pasay City on Thursday was merely ceremonial since these had been given earlier to the beneficiaries.

Villar said those who have more in life should give something to the less fortunate.

Told that giving out cash to the public during the campaign period is prohibited, Villar agreed, but insisted that this was not the same as allowing the children to eat sweet potato.

Sweet potato is associated with poverty because it is often substituted for staple food during tight times. Villar, like most other candidates, claims to be pro-poor.

Under Article 12, Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, vote-buying is defined as the act of giving, offering or promising money or anything of value, including promises of “employment, franchise or grant, public or private" in order to influence a voter’s electoral preferences." — NPA, GMANews.TV

Original Story:

Villar defends self, denies vote-buying allegations

By Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star
Updated February 28, 2010
12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Senator Manuel Villar Jr. denied that his camp was engaged in vote buying when it handed out scholarships to 40 children and even when he personally gave P20 bills to a couple of children the other day.

Speaking with reporters in Batangas, Villar explained that what his daughter Camille handed out during last Thursday night’s Rocaktropa concert at the Mall of Asia were the scholarship certificates that he promised the children some time ago during a noontime show.

“These were given out a long time ago at Wowowee when some children lost in a game and Willie said that it was a pity they were going home without scholarships,” Villar said, recalling how the show’s host Willie Revillame coaxed him into giving out scholarships to the losing contestants.

The scholarships for the 40 children amounted to P3 million, which Villar promised to the children during the show.

Villar has been criticized for vote-buying, which was followed up by the handing out of P20 bills to a couple of children last Friday.

During his market tour of Batangas last Friday, Villar was approached by a couple of children who were asking him for money to buy food.

Villar said that he did not want to hand out money because it would not look good but he did because he “really pitied them.”

“I really didn’t want to. I know it’s not allowed, but try telling them that,” he said.

In a separate interview, Villar also said that the children could not vote anyway, so it is not considered vote-buying.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the other day that Villar’s move during the concert Thursday night could be considered as vote-buying.

The Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “giving, offering or promising money or anything of value” to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate.

Vote-buying is considered an election offense, which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment as well as the removal of the right to vote and be voted for.

‘Not my problem’

Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said yesterday his camp would not file any vote-buying case against Villar for giving out cash and scholarships to people.

“It’s up to the Comelec. I am not a lawyer. I have no advice to give to my opponent. They have competent minds to assist them,” Aquino said in a press conference in Cebu upon his arrival here to meet his supporters. He came from General Santos City where he also had a sortie.

Aquino said the LP would not file a disqualification case since the Comelec should know how to deal with cases like that.

He said he could not judge for himself if Villar was indeed buying votes.

“One can look at it that way. In my case, I am an incumbent senator, there are people who request medical assistance. What I do is I refer them to my office, there is a unit in my office that is in charge of taking care of them so we can separate the campaign from other functions of my office,” Aquino said.

Bagumbayan presidential bet Sen. Richard Gordon yesterday said Villar should be censured for giving out scholarships during the election campaign season.

“He should be censured. Why only now? Someone asked me for a scholarship and I said, see me in June,” said Gordon.

Meanwhile, Gordon said Filipinos should be weaned away from the culture of patronage.

Bogus coalition

In a related development, the LP branded yesterday as bogus the coalition between the Nacionalista Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition aimed at stealing the dominant party status for the coming elections.

LP campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad said NPC officials themselves cried foul over the supposed coalition since they were not consulted about it.

Abad said long-time NPC stalwart, former General Santos City Rep. Lu Antonino, disowned the supposed NPC-NP coalition, which was seeking accreditation as the dominant opposition party.

“Antonino and many other NPC leaders are protesting that they have not been informed, much less consulted, on the supposed coalition,” Abad said.

The accreditation is granted to the opposition party that can show that it has: one, the most number of incumbents from senators down to councilors; two, the most number of candidates, from President down to the last councilor; and three, the most extensive chapters, from the province down to the municipality.

“Matched against the LP, the NP loses following the said categories. Thus, this belated coalition with the NPC and this attempt to get accreditation as a coalition,” Abad said.

According to Abad, the accreditation gives the dominant opposition party the right to be assigned a server for the purpose of the canvassing of votes in the automated elections of May 2010.

“For NP, it also removes the tag of engaging in an ‘unholy alliance’ with the administration. With the accreditation, it can go to town and proclaim itself the real opposition, even when it is not,” Abad said.

“The NP-NPC coalition is questionable based on two grounds: first, it is not a registered coalition, the period for registering coalitions having already lapsed; and second, the consent of key NPC stalwarts was not secured, making the so-called coalition unauthorized insofar as the NPC is concerned,” Abad said.

In a statement, Antonino said several members of the NPC expressed surprise over the reported coalition of their party with the NP.

After Sen. Francis Escudero withdrew from the presidential race, Antonino said NPC members agreed not to officially endorse any presidential candidate.

“Party members nationwide have since coalesced with other political parties in the local contests and have thrown their support for their personal choice of presidential candidates,” Antonino said.

Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza is aiming to become senator as guest candidate of former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, while Camarines Sur Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella, who is running for re-election, is likewise supporting the former president.

Negros NPC leader Albee Benitez, who is seeking a congressional seat, and former governor Rosette Lerias (NPC, Southern Leyte), have come out in support of LP presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino’s presidential bid, Antonino pointed out.

The statement also said that South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino and Gov. Daisy Fuentes are supporting LP vice presidential bet Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II instead Sen. Loren Legarda, the NPC candidate who is running under NP.

Antonino said party members believe this supposed coalition raised questions because nationwide, “there are 239 NPC members who are being opposed by a Nacionalista candidate.”

The more prominent ones include former congressman Claude Bautista (NPC, Davao del Sur) who is running against Gov. Douglas Cagas (NP), and Gov. Emilio Masias II (NPC, Negros Oriental) who is pitted against Jose Baldado (NP).

“In such cases, who is to be recognized as representing the dominant minority party in those areas? This can be complicated. Overall, there are 15 congressional candidates, five gubernatorial, eight vice-gubernatorial, 78 mayoral, 92 vice mayoral, and 41 board membership candidates from our party who are in direct confrontation with Villar’s NP,” NPC South Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol said. – With Christina Mendez, Aurea Calica, Mike Frialde

Original Story:

Erap to GMA: Allow next leader to pick Supreme Court chief

By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star
Updated February 28,
2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Joseph Estrada advised President Arroyo against appointing the next chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC) and allow the next president to appoint the chief magistrate.

Estrada also advised Mrs. Arroyo to follow the example set by her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, in dismissing the midnight appointments made by his predecessor.

“Out of respect for her father, (Mrs. Arroyo) should not appoint the next chief justice. She should allow the next president to do that,” Estrada told The STAR.

Estrada said Macapagal did not honor the appointment made by former President Carlos Garcia of Dominador Aytona as governor of the then Central Bank of the Philippines (now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas).

He said Macapagal instead appointed Andres Castillo as the new CB governor.

Estrada said the SC ruled in favor of Macapagal and nullified the midnight appointment of Aytona as ad interim CB governor.

Estrada said if Macapagal did not recognize the legality of the appointment of Aytona, there is more reason for his daughter to do the same in the case of the next chief justice.

“In my opinion, once the election is held, automatically the incumbent president will be a caretaker president. She cannot appoint or dismiss anyone,” Estrada said.

Estrada said he prevented influence peddling in the appointment of members of the judiciary during his presidency by ignoring even the sentiments of his supporters and campaign contributors.

According to Estrada, a big-time campaign fund contributor and a business
tycoon he did not identify got angry with him for turning down his requests to help him in a pending case before the high court.

Estrada said the Filipino trait of utang na loob (paying a debt of gratitude) should not compromise the interest of the greater majority.

Estrada joined the increasing public clamor against Mrs. Arroyo appointing the next chief justice during the remaining months of her term of office.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), for its part, has opted to wait for the SC to rule on the proposals to appoint the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno before submitting the shortlist of nominees to Malacañang.

The JBC said it would push through with the ongoing selection process pending resolution by the high court of the consolidated petitions of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and lawyers Jaime Soriano, Arturo de Castro and former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza that sought answers to the issue of whether Mrs. Arroyo can appoint the next chief justice.

Under the Constitution, the incumbent President is banned from making appointments two months before the elections until the end of her term. Puno retires on May 17, which falls within the period of the ban.

But some sectors claim that Mrs. Arroyo could still name the next chief justice since the constitutional ban applies to appointments made in the executive department.

Original Story:

Teodoro backs Villar over P20 dole-out to kids

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 15:29:00

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics

Original Story:

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Senator Manny Villar, who was criticized for handing out P20 to children during a campaign sortie, has found an ally in one of his rivals in the May 2010 presidential race, administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro.

Teodoro said he would do the same thing to a hungry child, who would ask money from him but said, this act should not become a habit of candidates.

“If there is pattern or conduct, then that's different. It depends on the circumstances, let's not preempt the Comelec (Commission on Elections) on that,” he told reporters in an interview here on Sunday.

The Comelec had said that the act could constitute vote-buying.

Villar said he gave the kids the money when he campaigned in Batangas because they were hungry and wanted to eat camote.

“That really depends on the circumstances, let's say may isang pulubi na hindi pa kumakain tapos ikaw hindi mo naman intensyon na ipakita sa media o sa tao, binigyan mo ng P20 dahil kawanggawa mo na lang, medyo unfair naman iyon (Let's say there's a beggar who has yet to eat, and you gave him P20 out of charity, and it was not your intention to show it to the media or the public, then it's unfair [to accuse the candidate of vote-buying]),” Teodoro said.

Asked if he would do the same when faced with the same situation, he said, “Depende. Kung may pulubi na nagugutom, and at that time hindi pa nakakakain, bakit hindi mo naman tutulungan? (It depends. If there is a beggar and he is hungry and if at that time he has yet to eat, why would I not help him?),” he said.

Teodoro said it was up to the Comelec to judge Villar's act and determine if he violated any election laws.

Original Story:

Comelec urges celebrities to help in voters’ education drive

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 18:45:00

Filed Under: Celebrities, Elections, Eleksyon 2010

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is urging celebrities and media personalities to help in educating Filipino voters on the automated polls.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said celebrities could greatly help the poll body in disseminating the needed information on how to cast their votes under an automated system.

Movie and television stars could appear in instructional advertisements on how to fill up ballots and how to ensure their votes will not be voided, he said.

The poll body is set to begin its nationwide information drive in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency and media outfits.

Larrazabal said anyone in the showbiz world is welcome to help the Comelec fulfill its mandate.

“We welcome everyone who would be willing to help us in our voters' education endeavor. If they have questions on how to help, we could arrange a meeting with them,” he said.

“As for celebrity endorsers, we believe they have drawing power and Comelec would be very open to work with them,” said Larrazabal.

The poll official added that Comelec would draft guidelines on tapping celebrities for voters' education as well as the tax credit system media outfits carrying Comelec infomercials can avail.

Original Story:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sis vows no ‘Kamag-anak Inc.’ in Aquino presidency

By Anselmo Roque
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:15:00 02/28/2010

Filed Under: Benigno Aquino III, Eleksyon 2010, Elections

original Story:

MUÑOZ, NUEVA ECIJA—THERE will be no “Kamag-anak Inc.” in a Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino presidency.

Pinky Aquino-Abellada, the Liberal Party presidential candidate’s sister, said Aquino’s extended family would not be allowed to meddle in the affairs of government, if he becomes president.

Abellada, who was the guest speaker at the silver anniversary celebration of the computer training center of the Central Luzon State University here, said she and her three sisters—Ballsy Aquino Cruz, Viel Aquino Dee and Kris Aquino Yap—would continue in their professions after helping their brother in the presidential campaign.

Abellada, who has an economics degree, said she and her sisters would not interfere or dictate on their bachelor brother how he should run the country.

The Aquino siblings are children of the martyred opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.

“We had been in exactly the same situation before when our mother served as president. We never meddled,” said Abellada.

The derisive phrase “Kamag-anak Inc.” was coined by critics of former President Aquino to refer to her relatives who were accused of meddling in the affairs of government and of using their connections for their own ends during her term from 1986 to 1992.

Abellada said that while she and her siblings respected their relatives, they would not hesitate to act if they saw that something was not right.

“We will tell our brother about it. We will protect and nurture the good name that our parents left behind,” she said.

“We will not betray the love that the millions of Filipinos have shown for our father and mother,” she added.

Abellada assured her audience that her brother would not make any decisions that would destroy the trust of the Filipino people.

“Noynoy has his own mind. He will not be pressured. He treats everyone with respect so he will not be high-handed,” she said.

Abellada, who has been campaigning for her brother in the provinces, said she wanted people to know Noynoy “as a person, as a brother and as a public servant.”

original Story:

Villar: Kids can’t vote, so P20 is not vote-buying

By Nikko Dizon, Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:29:00 02/28/2010

Filed Under: Manny Villar, Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections

Original Story:

VILLASIS, PANGASINAN—THE KIDS were hungry and wanted to eat camote (a root crop). Is that vote-buying?

This was the retort of Sen. Manuel Villar, standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party (NP), to critics assailing his P20 handout to young children at a market while on a campaign sortie in Batangas City on Friday.

“First of all, what’s wrong with giving [money] to children? They cannot vote. That’s not vote-buying. And that was money for them to buy camote,” Villar told reporters in Filipino following the induction Saturday of a local women’s group at the packed public gym in Villasis.

“Even children who are fed only camote are dragged into intrigues. They’re pitiful. And it’s not said anywhere that eating camote during a campaign is prohibited,” he said.

(If the senator appears hung up on the root crop, it’s probably because boiled camote is his favorite snack, as the Inquirer has learned from his Senate staff and younger brother.)

Villar also said the distribution of scholarships to children during his “Rockatropa” concert at the SM Mall of Asia grounds on Thursday night was “ceremonial.”

He said the scholarships were given earlier on “Wowowee,” the TV noontime show hosted by his supporter, Willie Revillame, “before the filing of the CoCs (certificates of candidacies).”

Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento warned on Friday that if a complaint is filed against him, Villar could face charges of vote-buying for handing out the scholarships at the concert.

“Under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, the prohibited acts include giving money or anything of value to favor one candidate. It’s called vote-buying,” Sarmiento told reporters.

“This applies to everyone,” he said, adding that vote-buying could involve just about “anything,” including scholarships.

Sarmiento, however, said a complaint needed to be filed at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before it could open an investigation.

42 children

On the phone Saturday with the Inquirer in Manila, NP spokesperson and senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla said it was not scholarships but “one-time financial assistance” that Villar had given out.

Remulla said there were a number of reasons why the “financial assistance” given to 42 urban poor children during the rock concert organized by Villar’s daughter Camille on Thursday night did not constitute vote-buying.

“It happened last January. [Villar] was there at ‘Wowowee’ and 42 out-of-school youths were presented by Willie, who then asked the senator to sponsor them,” Remulla said.

Villar quickly granted the request and shelled out P3 million, according to Remulla.

“So each of the kids was given about P71,000,” he said, adding that the amount would cover tuition and other school expenses for a schoolyear. (The exact amount is P71,428.57.)

Precisely to avoid being accused of using the assistance for campaign purposes, Villar was careful not to go up the stage, Remulla said.

Camille Villar took her father’s place, and was embraced by the children when she showed up on stage with Revillame, the main host of the concert.

“So [the distribution of financial assistance] was merely ceremonial in nature because [the actual donation] happened before the campaign season,” Remulla said.

Up to Comelec

Villar can rest assured that the party of his closest rival for the presidency will not initiate a disqualification case against him for distributing scholarships.

In a press conference yesterday at the general aviation office of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, said he was leaving the matter up to the Comelec.

Aquino said that while one could view the distribution of scholarships as a form of vote-buying, the LP was not planning to file a complaint against Villar.

“The Comelec itself made the comment on that,” Aquino said. “I am not a lawyer and I cannot give advice to my rival. He has competent legal minds to assist him.”

Aquino said he had instructed his staff to put up a clear division between his campaign and his public duties as a senator in order to avoid charges of vote-buying. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Original Story:

Teodoro unsure of Singson vote even after attending daughter’s wedding

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:01:00 02/27/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Wedding, Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Inquirer Politics

Original Story:

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Philippines -- Administration standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro attended the Saturday wedding of the son of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson Jr., but remained unsure of Singson's support.

Teodoro and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stood as principal sponsors at the wedding of Singson's son Ryan and Ilocos Sur Gov. Deogracias Victor Savellano's daughter Patch in Vigan City Saturday afternoon.

“Until the last day, we have to really work for each and every vote,” Teodoro told reporters here Saturday morning when asked if he was confident of Singson's support for his presidential bid.

His acceptance of the young Singson's invitation for him to stand as a wedding sponsor should not be construed that he had the elder Singson's unequivocal support in the bag, he said.

``For me, the choice of sponsor is Ryan's choice. He has asked me to stand as a sponsor as early as last year. I wouldn't put politics into it,” he said at the opening of the Agri-Trade and Tourism Expo in the city.

Speculations had been rife that Singson would follow boxing champ Manny Pacquiao's lead and pick Nacionalista Party candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. over Teodoro.

Singson, a staunch administration ally, fanned these speculations when he told the press Friday that the Ilocos leaders have not reached a consensus on whether to support the administration candidate.

Teodoro, who barnstormed Ilocos Norte, La Union and Ilocos Sur in a bid to clinch the “Ilocano vote,” said he respected the local leaders' decision process.

“I believe they're still making a decision in their own province. And we respect the process they're undertaking in their party,” he said.

La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, who accompanied Teodoro in his tour in the province, said Teodoro's attendance at the wedding should dispel speculations that Singson was supporting Villar.

“Well, I think that's for him (Singson) to answer,” he told reporters, referring to the speculations. But he added: ``Gibo is one of the sponsors at the wedding of Chavit's son. You draw your own conclusion.”

Ortega conceded that Singson, a long-time governor in Ilocos Sur, was still influential in the province.

Ortega, however, said that a majority of the Northern Alliance members, a group of lawmakers from Regions 1 and 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region, were throwing their support behind Teodoro.

“Yes, most of them are supporting him,” he said, pointing out that this would a spell big difference in the final tally. He also predicted a landslide victory for Teodoro in La Union which accounts for over 400,000 voters.

Ortega conceded that Villar was Teodoro's toughest rival in the Ilocos Region, but he said the region would only go as far as supporting Villar's senatorial candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“Ilocos will only carry Bongbong. Even I in Lakas will carry Bongbong, but only Bongbong [in Villar's party],” he said of the son and namesake of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Original Story:

Bishop urges bets: Don’t use kids in political ads

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:32:00 02/27/2010

Filed Under: Children, Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Inquirer Politics

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines -- Leave the children alone.

This was the message of a senior Catholic prelate on Saturday to politicians who have been using children in their campaign commercials.

Capiz Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo said candidates for the May 10 national and presidential elections should stop using children in their ads, saying this was a form of exploitation.

“It’s like child abuse,” Gordoncillo said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.

“I’m calling on the candidates to please stop using the children,” he said. “That is against their rights. We should respect the children. Let them grow according to human rights. They should not grow tainted by politics.”

Politicians should also stop using other marginalized sectors, like persons with disabilities and the poor, to trawl for votes.

“They should stop this kind of politics,” Gordoncillo said.

Most of the presidential candidates have ads on television, radio and print focusing on their advocacies that almost always feature children and marginalized groups.

With the elections just over two months away, the battle for votes is heating up and candidates have been flooding the airwaves with their anti-corruption and anti-poverty messages.

Sen. Manuel Villar, presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party, has been bombarding the airwaves with television and radio ads featuring children singing his campaign song.

His running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, has been airing ads showing her with farmers.

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III’s promotional materials also feature children. His running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas, is shown interacting with the elderly and market vendors in his commercials.

Original Story:

Evangelist presidential bet vows ‘zero corruption’

By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:22:00

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Inquirer Politics

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines -- Promising “six years of zero corruption” if elected, evangelist-turned-presidential candidate Eduardo “Brother Eddie” Villanueva led his Bangon Pilipinas party proclamation rally at the historic Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila on Saturday.

The proclamation rally was preceded by a motorcade participated in by about 1,000 vehicles that started from the People Power Monument along Edsa, Quezon City at 6 a.m..

The motorcade traversed the highway up to Monumento in Caloocan City, briefly stopping at the monument of Philippine Revolution leader Andres Bonifacio before heading to Quiapo.

Traffic was jammed on the Lawton-bound lane of Quezon Boulevard because of the many vehicles parked there. Despite the heat of the sun, some supporters, who all came in yellow “Eddie Tayo!” shirts, stayed in the middle of the plaza in front of the Quiapo Church using their own umbrellas during the five-hour program that started about 9 a.m.

A huge tarpaulin on the covered makeshift stage proclaimed the party's slogan, “Ibalik ang dangal! Anim na taong walang korapsyon (Restore our pride! Zero corruption for six years) with blown-up pictures of Villanueva, running mate and former securities and exchange chief Perfecto Yasay Jr. and their six senatorial candidates.

Before taking the stage, Villanueva told reporters that they chose to start their proclamation rally at the People Power Monument as Bangon Pilipinas' way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolution that ended the 20-year Marcos dictatorship.

Villanueva, the founder of the Jesus is Lord Church, added they chose Plaza Miranda, site of the bombing of the 1971 Liberal Party campaign rally that preceded the imposition of martial law in 1972, because it has always served as “a symbol of public opinion historically.”

“EDSA revolution brought back democracy. But sadly it did not bring back righteous governance,” said Villanueva, who described himself as a radical activist during the Marcos regime.

“People power is not merely an occasion that is celebrated every year. The essence of People Power is the empowerment of every Filipino in a democratic environment. With this power, the Philippines can liberate itself from the shackles of corruption and rise again,” he went on.

He thanked Bangon Pilipinas' supporters for the “show of force,” expressing his surprise at the turnout at the motorcade.

“The show of force is a clear statement of Filipinos who are tired of traditional politics. I challenge every Filipino who loves God and country to remember our history. We are a nation of heroes. Let us become heroes again. The answer to the nation’s woes is in your hands,” he said.

“Under our Constitution, People Power is recognized. But for nine years (under the Arroyo administration) we restrained ourself from staging People Power. We waited for the May 10 elections to bring back real change,” said Villanueva.

His senatorial candidates are Dr. Zafrullah Alonto, lawyers Reynaldo Princesa and Ramoncito Ocampo, broadcast journalists Kata Inocencio and Alex Tinsay, Count Habib Adz Nikabulin, and educator Dr. Israel Virgines.

Villanueva ran for the first time in 2004 when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won her presidential bid. The 2004 victory of Arroyo -- who was first catapulted to Malacañang in the 2001 EDSA revolt that ousted Joseph Estrada from the presidency -- was disputed a year after when tapes of Arroyo’s conversations with an elections commission official surfaced. Arroyo later apologized for her lapse of judgment but insisted she did not mean to ask the official to cheat for her, but was just following up the status of her vote count.

Original Story:

More Pinoys not in favor of Arroyo’s running

Written by Cai Ordinario / Reporter
Friday, 26 February 2010 20:48

Original Story:

AS the May elections draw near, more Filipinos have become averse to the idea that President Arroyo is running for representative of the Second District of Pampanga, according to the latest Ibon Foundation nationwide survey.

The survey conducted in January 2010 showed that 82 percent of respondents were aware that Mrs. Arroyo was running for Congress.

Of this number, some 86 percent said they were not in favor of the President’s move to run, while only 6.2 percent were in favor. Those who did not have an answer accounted for 7.8 percent of the total.

“Most Filipinos are not in favor of President Arroyo’s stay in the government as Pampanga representative,” Ibon said in a statement.

The 86 percent who said “no” was an increase compared with the number of respondents who said “no” in the July and October 2009 surveys conducted.

Based on the July and October 2009 surveys that asked respondents the question “Are you aware of reports that President Arroyo plans to run for Congress in the 2010 elections after her term as President ends?” around 82.01 percent said “No” in July and 85.76 percent in October.

Ibon said the January 2010 nationwide survey was conducted from January 9 to 17 using multistage probability sampling scheme. The latest survey has a margin of error of +3 percent.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that Mrs. Arroyo can run for representative of the Second District of Pampanga. This ruling upheld the earlier decision of the Commission of Elections (Comelec) to allow the President to run in the May polls.

In a minute resolution, the Supreme Court stated that the Comelec did not commit grave abuse of discretion by accepting the President’s certificate of candidacy filed in December.

However, petitioners such as Liberal Party senatorial candidate Party-list Rep. Maria Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel of Akbayan said their group is going to appeal the decision of the Supreme Court. Hontiveros has said in previous interviews that running for Congress is the President’s way or staying on in Malacañang.

Original Story:

No big deal, says Palace of GMA’s lowest trust rating


Original Story:

MALACAÑANG yesterday said the soaring of President Arroyo’s distrust rating to its highest level so far – 68 percent – in her few remaining months in office is no big deal.

"Alam mo naman iyong rating na iyan, they come and go. The President remains focused with what she’s doing," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday.

Ermita said Arroyo has lately been doing the rounds of infrastructure projects under her Super Regions program to check on their status and to inform the people of what she has done while she is in power.

The January 22-26 Pulse Asia survey showed that 68 percent of its 1,800 respondents distrust Arroyo. Only 11 percent trust the President, which is also her lowest trust rating.

Ermita also brushed aside the survey finding that 52 percent of Filipinos will not vote for the presidential candidate whom Arroyo will endorse. This reinforces the perception that Arroyo’s endorsement is a "kiss of death" for administration presidential bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

"It’s a survey. It helps candidates know where they must improve on…We don’t take them as gospel truth. They’re not gospel truth," Ermita said.

He said the government’s detractors only want to pull Arroyo down. He expressed hope that Teodoro will be able to overcome the odds stacked up against him.

Teodoro’s trust rating was 31 percent, compared to 32 percent who distrust him and 36 percent who are not sure whether to trust him. He had the highest increase in trust rating among presidential candidates.

The Pulse Asia survey also showed that public trust in Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno Aquino III fell by 8 points, or from 72 percent in December 2009 to 64 percent in January 2010.

Nacionalista Party standard bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.’s trust rating rose from 69 percent in December to 70 percent in January, making him the most trusted presidential candidate despite moves to censure him due to the controversial C-5 extension project.

The Aquino camp said the survey was sponsored by the NP "to bank on Villar’s massive advertisement surge last December and January."

For that same period, Aquino and Villar were locked in a pre-poll statistical tie, it said.

"Why only release the results of the trust survey now? said Edwin Lacierda, spokesman of the Aquino camp.

"First, they want to distract the people from the more recent TNS survey -- conducted from January 28 to February 3 on a sample size almost double that of the Pulse Asia survey -- which clearly shows that Aquino has widened his lead, with around 11 percentage points separating him and Villar," he said.

"The second reason is the same reason he is holding his concert today at MOA: Villar obviously released the belated survey results because wants to dampen the inevitable resonance of People Power on its 24th anniversary, which he fears will surely overwhelm his over-funded, shallow gimmickry," Lacierda said.

Perfecto Yasay, vice presidential candidate of Bangon Pilipinas, said the survey was "foul."

Yasay got a trust rating of 8 percent in the survey.

"Pulse Asia headlines the most moneyed candidates as the most ‘trusted’ while those who have only begun their campaigns because of modest resources and in strict compliance of the law are characterized by ‘distrust,’" Yasay said.

"It is disheartening how quickly less popular candidates are labeled as mistrusted compared to those who are more known by virtue of their having been in traditional politics for too long. Obviously, the survey was nearsightedly designed without fairness in mind," he also said.

Original Story:

Gibo backs Mikey A on party-list stand

By Charlie V. Manalo

Original Story:

Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro yesterday defended those seeking party-list nominations who do not necessarily belong to the marginalized sectors, saying it is the advocacy that matters in the party-list system and not the personality of the nominees.

In saying so, the administration bet has basically backed the stand of embattled Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo who is now taking the heat of his possible entry as party-list representative

“Ang party-list ay hindi tao (kundi) iyung advocacy that is important. Kung makatutulong sa advocacy ng marginalized ng isang tao o grupo bagama’t hindi siya marginalized, bakit hindi,” said Teodoro in an interview in San Fernando, La Union with media reporters from Manila.

The other day, Arroyo, lashing back at his critics, said nobody has the monopoly of party-list system, adding what matters most in party-list representations is the nominee should be committed to upholding and fighting for the ideals, goals, objectives and the interests of the sector he or she intends to represent.

One of Arroyo’s rabid critics, Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, claimed Arroyo cannot represent any party-list group as he does not belong to the marginalized sector.

Arroyo hit back, saying since Hontiveros herself also does not come from the marginalized sector, she should respect the internal decision of all other party-list groups and concentrate on espousing the ideals of her own group.

Arroyo dared Hontiveros to compel her presidential bet, Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to address the issues of the Hacienda Luisita and the Subic- Clark-Tarlac Expressway project

At the same time, Teodoro called on other Cabinet secretaries, including Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, to heed the directive of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to resign immediately as he might also be seeking party-list representation.

Reyes is reportedly being eyed as nominee of the 1-Utak party-list group.

“If the Comelec says so, I think it should be respected. I think there is nothing wrong with that. But in the case of Congressman Arroyo, he is an elective official, that is different. I think what the Comelec is talking about are appointive officials. Kapag appointive, sa tingin ko maliwanag na iyung mensahe ng Comelec, so sundin na lang,” Teodoro said.

Original Story:

Villar scholarships may cost him vote-buying raps

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:08:00 02/27/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics, Inquirer Politics

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—In a bitterly fought election campaign where poverty is a major issue, self-made billionaire Sen. Manuel Villar may find himself in hot water for having too much money.

Election commissioner Rene Sarmiento on Friday said some people might take issue with the financial bonanzas, including scholarships, given away during Villar’s political rallies and equate that with vote-buying.

“Under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, the prohibited acts include giving money or anything of value to favor one candidate. It’s called vote-buying,” Sarmiento said. “This applies to everyone,” he said.

Asked if scholarships are covered by that provision, Sarmiento said vote-buying could involve just about “anything.”

“The fact that there is a payment for tuition, books, clothes, even miscellaneous expenses, that is money or anything of value,” he said.

Sarmiento said a complaint needed to be filed at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before the poll body could open an investigation.

“Then, let the wheels of justice roll,” he said.

What the law says

Under the Election Code, vote-buying or vote-selling involves “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”

Eyebrows raised

Before the opening of the campaign period last Feb. 9, the giving away of house and lots, cash, groceries and scholarships to participants in a game show sponsored by the Nacionalista Party standard-bearer raised the eyebrows of some Comelec officials.

But at that time, the Comelec said Villar could not be held liable for any election offense because the campaign period had not officially begun.

On Thursday night, the Villar camp held a concert in a mall in Pasay City where the senator’s daughter, Camille, handed out dozens of scholarships to children, some looking as young as 4 years old.

Each scholarship was reportedly worth P70,000 pesos.

The concert, attended by thousands of people, was produced by Camille and hosted by Villar supporter, television host Willie Revillame.

NP: Just ceremonial

NP spokesperson Gilbert Remulla downplayed the distribution of scholarships as a “mere formality and was just ceremonial.”

“The scholarships were awarded prior to the start of the campaign … prior to the election period,” Remulla said on the phone.

He said that the NP had taken all legal aspects into consideration before including the awarding of the scholarships during the rock concert at SM Mall of Asia.

Villar, who built his fortune from real estate, is running neck-and-neck with Liberal Party candidate Sen. Benigno Aquino III in the presidential race, based on surveys.

Last month, after big prizes were distributed at the Villar-sponsored game show, Comelec Chair Jose Melo said the giving away of prizes could not be construed as electioneering as the campaign period had not started.

“He can probably say that he is only donating the prizes,” Melo said at a press briefing at the time. He also admitted there were “loopholes” in the country’s campaign laws.

Manny plays Santa

On Friday, in sorties south of Manila, Villar played Santa to children.

Greeted by kids during his market visits in Batangas and Lipa cities, Villar shelled out P20 bills to each of at least four children who had patiently waited for their turns to shake his hands.

“I didn’t want to give away money because it won’t look good, but I really took pity on them,” Villar told reporters later.

He said he would have preferred to give them food but since it would take time and the crowd was already gathering around him, he decided to reach into his pocket.

Villar toured both the new and old Batangas city markets, then proceeded to a market in Lipa before heeding home. With reports from Nikko Dizon, Michael Ubac and Inquirer Research

Original Story:

Villar: P20 was meant to buy camote, not votes

02/27/2010 | 07:31 PM

Original Story:

VILLASIS, Pangasinan—It was meant to buy camote and not to buy votes.

This was how Nacionalista Party standard bearer Senator Manuel Villar Jr. on Saturday defended his handing out P20 bills to children during his campaign sorties in Batangas province. (See: Villar gives P20 bills to kids in Batangas)

He said his giving out money cannot be considered as vote-buying since the children are not registered voters.

"Yung mga bata hindi naman nakakaboto yun. Di vote buying yun. Pambili lang ng kamote yun. Napakain mo lang ng kamote, masama na. Huwag naman ganoon," he told reporters during the NP's campaign sortie in this bustling town of central Pangasinan.

He also clarified that the distribution of scholarship certificates during NP's Rockatropa concert Thursday was just ceremonial, as these have already been earlier granted to the beneficiaries.

"Noon pa yun binigay sa Wowowee," Villar said, referring to a noontime television program where he made recent appearances. He added that his party will continue giving such scholarship grants despite the flak that it has been receiving.

Villar said that those who have more in life should give something to the less fortunate people.

"Ang lahat po na biniyayaan ng Diyos, dapat tayo ay mamahagi sa ating mahihirap na kababayan. Wag po tayo padadala sa mga naninira at nagsasabing wag tayong tumulong sa mahihirap," he said.

Told that giving out cash to the public during the campaign period is prohibited, Villar agreed but insisted that this did not mean allowing the children to eat camote.

Camote, also known as sweet potato, is a root crop that often substitutes for staple food during rice scarcity or for impoverished households, and thus is a food associated with utter poverty.

Under Article 12, Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, vote-buying is denied as the act of giving, offering, or promising money or anything of value, including promises of “employment, franchise or grant, public or private" in order to influence a voter’s electoral preferences.

Vote-buying also involves making or offering to incur expenses that will, directly or indirectly, benefit a person, association, corporation, entity, or community “to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party."—JV, GMANews.TV

Original Story:

‘Next president must focus on corruption, poverty reduction’

Written by Cai Ordinario / Reporter
Friday, 26 February 2010 20:52

Original Story:

INSTITUTIONAL constraints to growth will remain a reality for the next administration, which makes it imperative for the next president to not only focus on only one goal of eradicating corruption or poverty, but both.

University of the Philippines School of Economics (UPSE) dean Emmanuel de Dios said problems in Philippine institutions need to be met with “a bit of statesmanship” and measures that should be implemented must move to eradicate both corruption and poverty, which often lead to political instability.

“Yes, [institutional constraints to growth] will be there. It requires a bit of statesmanship to maneuver around them. You have to move against poverty, you have to move against corruption. It sounds corny but those are really the links that must be [addressed]. Once you’re president, you have to [address] both,” de Dios said in an interview after his lecture at the recently held 8th Ayala Corp.-UPSE Economic Forum.

In his lecture, titled “How So Institutions Constrain Philippine Growth?”, de Dios discussed that political instability often leads to lower economic growth.

This has already been seen in the performance of the country in the survey World Governance Indicators (WGI) periodically released by the World Bank. The WGI evaluates countries performance in voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption.

De Dios said that based on the previous WGI, the Philippines always ranked low in control of corruption and political stability. The years when the country ranked its lowest in these areas, the country also suffered very low income levels and foreign investment flows.

“Instances of massive corruption or economic or political processes have historically been the proximate cause of severe instability. Both instability and corruption have demonstrated a negative impact on investment. Low investment rate is a known feature of mediocre economic performance,” de Dios said.

These years include 1984 to 1986, which was at the tailend of the Martial law period prior to Edsa 1; 1988, when there were coup d’etats during the Aquino administration; 1999, during the impeachment trial, which led to Edsa Dos; and 2004, which was characterized by the “Hello, Garci” scandal.

Original Story:

Two bishops go for ‘Kapatiran’


Original Story:

LIPA Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra yesterday said they are supporting the Ang Kapatiran party and its presidential candidate, John Carlos delos Reyes, a councilor of Olongapo City.

"I’m supporting JC de Los Reyes and other Ang Kapatiran candidates but that is my personal position," said Navarra.

"I am endorsing JC de Los Reyes and other Ang Kapatiran candidates. Some will say that di naman sila mananalo pero that is my position," said Arguelles.

The two said they both believe it is only Ang Kapatiran that is sincere in bringing political change.

"Sila lang kasi nakikita ko na may sincerity, honest and with clear platform of government," said Arguelles.

The statements of Arguelles and Navarra came as a surprise because the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has been very firm in being non-partisan in elections.

Archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz, a Canon Law expert and former CBCP president, said Arguelles and Navarra did not violate any Church law.

"There is no canonical violation, strictly speaking, but it could be pastorally imprudent as of the moment," Cruz said.

Original Story:

Comelec tells party-list groups: Name nominees

By Helen Flores
The Philippine Star
Updated February 27, 2010
12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Party-list groups joining the May 10 elections have until March 26 to submit their list of nominees, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said nominees must satisfy the minimum qualifications provided in election laws.

After receiving the list, the poll body must immediately publish it in three national newspapers, he added.

Larrazabal said under Resolution No. 8691 issued by the Comelec last Nov. 3, party-list nominees who are holding public appointive office shall be considered resigned upon their acceptance of the nomination.

“Unless they accept the nomination, they are not considered nominees of the party-list organization and they are not required to resign,” he said.

“Nominees who are holding elective office may continue to hold office even after acceptance of their nomination,” read the resolution.

Larrazabal said the 187 party-list groups included in the ballots are not all accredited by the Comelec, and the poll body will soon release the lists of accredited and unaccredited party-list groups.

He also said a nominee can be rejected if someone files an opposition to his or her nomination.

If a nominee is rejected, the second, third, fourth or fifth nominee can replace him orher, he added.

Ocampo accuses Comelec of allowing mockery of law

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo accused the Comelec yesterday of allowing certain groups to make a mockery of the party-list representation system in Congress.

“The Comelec has been very lenient in accrediting party-list groups that hardly represent marginalized sectors,” he said.

“Time and again, we have pleaded with the Comelec to be more discerning in recognizing party-list groups, but time and again, the Comelec has been remiss in its duty.”

Ocampo said amending the Party-list Law to prevent unqualified persons from representing marginalized sectors would be one of his priorities if he wins as senator in the May 10 elections.

“The letter and spirit of the law intends to involve the marginalized sectors in the process of legislation,” he said.

“It aims to give representation to these sectors whose voices are often unheard or dismissed in the public debate.

“In recent years, however, we have seen how the law was twisted and manipulated to accommodate individuals and groups that do not represent the marginalized, but in fact stand for big political and business interests.”

Representatives of these groups are relatives of incumbent government officials and members of the police and military organizations, he added.

The fact that Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes are being nominated to represent marginal sectors “only goes to show that there’s something very wrong and there is something lacking in the party-list law,” Ocampo said.

Bayan Muna has vowed to file cases with the Comelec to disqualify Arroyo and Reyes if they are nominated as party-list representatives.

The party-list group United Transport Koalisyon (1-Utak) has confirmed that it is submitting Reyes’s name to the Comelec as its first nominee in place of Vigor Mendoza.

It is not clear why Mendoza, a member of the House of Representatives, is giving way to Reyes, who is accepting the nomination.

A group calling itself Ang Galing Party (AGP) would nominate Mikey Arroyo, according to Mayor Buddy Dungca of Bacolor town in Pampanga.

Dungca said Rep. Arroyo would be AGP’s first nominee with outgoing Mayor Dennis Pineda of Lubao town as second nominee.

AGP claims to represent underprivileged sectors like transport drivers and security guards, he added.

1-Utak: Reyes just one nominee

The I-Utak party-list group clarified yesterday that Reyes is just one of its nominees in Congress.

Bren Sayasa II, party secretary- general, said their group is still going through a selection process to determine the qualifications of their nominees.

“They can check our records with the (Comelec) to find out who our nominees are,” he said.

Sayasa said once the selection process is completed, a proper announcement would be made.

“Until then, there is no reason to speculate on the nominees that would be fielded by 1-Utak,” he said.

In a statement, Sayasa denied allegations of Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng Transport at Operator Nationwide (Piston) that it is in cahoots with the Big 3 oil firms.

Since the party-list has been elected to Congress, it has filed numerous bills and resolutions for the benefit of the transport sector, he added.

Sayasa said the bills include one outlining a fair pricing scheme for petroleum products, recommendation to amend the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act of 1998 and Executive Order 839, and a review on the price formulation strategy of oil firms.

If they were in connivance with Petron, Caltex and Shell, they would not be pushing for a law that would affect the business of these oil companies, he said.

He asked officials of the Independent Petroleum Companies Association to support their proposal to limit the number of fuel pump stations to avoid further dominance by the big oil companies.

“How can they say that we are in connivance with oil firms when we are doing our best to create a level playing field in the sale of petroleum products to protect small oil industry players as well,” he said.

The 1-Utak also pushed for the implementation of a single ticketing system for traffic violators, Sayasa said. – With Jess Diaz, Perseus Echeminada

Original Story:

Save the sugar farming sector

Saturday, 27 February 2010 00:00

Original Story:

PERHAPS because the President and the First Gentleman are from sugar-farming provinces, the Arroyo administration worked successfully to defer implementation of zero tariff on sugar trading within the Asean Free Trade Area.
The slow death of sugar farming has been going on for decades. Removal of tariffs on Philippine sugar imports would have hastened the death of our country’s sugar-agriculture sector.

Before long, however, the zero-sugar-tariff agreement among Asean members will have to be enforced. Unless the Philippine government and the sugar industry’s leaders do something to begin aiding Filipino sugar planters before that day of zero-tariff comes, the Philippines as a cane sugar producing country is doomed.

Some economists and policy-makers, the same people who say that if Filipino farmers can’t produce rice and corn competitively against the farmers of other countries then rice and corn farming in our country deserves to die, are averse to lifting a finger to save the sugar-farming sector. They falsely argue that the Philippines would be better off using the money protecting these sunset sectors for more productive economic activities.

But what activities? Selling more Filipino labor abroad? This is already being done. And the efforts to upgrade the skills of Filipinos for the OFW market abroad is bearing fruit. The problem is that unless the global economic slowdown ends—unless consumer spending in our markets, the United States, Japan, Korea and Western Europe, becomes as dynamic as in the years before the 2008 financial crisis—the global need for OFWs will surely shrink.

The manufacturing of Intel and Texas Instrument chips, Toyota automotive harnesses, and such products here will decline—unless the world economy recovers for good.

The requirement for more and more Filipino seamen annually will halt, if Greece (whose shipping industry is manned almost completely by Filipinos) does not recover from its present monetary and economic crises.
We Filipinos must decide to nurse back our agriculture sector to good health. Because if we don’t we will suffer from food insufficiency.

Our Agriculture officials are claiming that we will never have a rice, corn and sugar shortage because we can easily import these basic agricultural products.

But for how long? With a global rice and corn shortage looming on the horizon because of El Niño, La Niña and other climate-change effects, our usual rice sources have given indications that they may no longer be willing to sell as much of their rice and corn as they used to. We are the world’s biggest importer of rice and our buying pattern has driven the world price of rice to record highs.

Now we are importing sugar too. Next week the government will auction off to traders the right to import 60,000 tons of sugar to stabilize the domestic price of that essential product.

Why doesn’t the government just make the restoration to good health of our agriculture a top priority?

SRA must do its job

Most sugar landowners, big and small, are talking about the demise of the sugar industry when the zero-tariff regime under the AFTA kicks in.

They want government to give “full protection and support” to sugar farmers, planters, the mills and the downstream candy and other industries.

A recent Bulatlat report quoted Jose Nadie Arceo—president of the United Farmers Association of Negros-South Inc. (UNIFARMS), to which small sugar landowners affiliated with the United Sugar Planters Federation (UNIFED) of the Negros provinces belong—saying that their “average sugar production every year is at 2.0 to 2.1M metric tons almost equal to our domestic consumption.”

Even if there is an annual increase of just 3 percent to 5 percent in domestic consumption, Arceo said, their group of small-scale planters (with only 25 hectares or less of cultivated land fir sugar) can cope with total demand.

There would then be no need to import.

With support, the Philippines can again become a sugar-exporting country.

But to do that, Arceo believes (according to the Bulatlat report written by Karl G. Ombion), and to save the sugar industry, “the country must revert back to a regulated regime.”

“The problem with the current liberalization and deregulation policy of the government, Arceo also said, is that the local industry is losing out to the massive imports of sugar from countries with highly efficient, technology-wise, and heavily-subsidized sugar industries.”

Arceo, Bulatlat reports, “compared the failure of government to support the sugar industry with the problems confronted by the government’s agrarian reform program.”

“The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),” he said, “is a good program, that is why many of us small farmers have offered some of our lands for CARP coverage. But it failed because the government did not provide poor farmers with access to capital and subsidies to make their lands productive.”

Arceo complained that the “government does not also have a comprehensive program to support the sugar industry. We have several government agencies that are supposed to assist sugar producers, like the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Quedancor, among others, but we do not know what they are doing.”

In addition there is also unabated sugar smuggling.

There is a Sugar Regulatory Administration. But despite complaints from sugar-industry people, it has not curbed sugar smuggling.

It is not too late for President Arroyo to make a strong move to support the sugar industry. And for that matter the rice and corn agriculture sectors.

And the next President and his Cabinet must make a stand about making our country agriculturally self-reliant.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Teodoro: A college graduate for each family

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 14:12:00

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Elections, Education

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines – Administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro has vowed to implement an education agenda that sought to target at least one college graduate per family.

“Ang target natin bawat pamilya ay magkaroon ng isang college graduate [Our target is for each family to have at least one college graduate],” Teodoro said in a recent dialogue with barangay (village) officials, women’s groups, youth and fisherfolk groups in Muntinlupa City.

He underscored the need to raise the standards of the basic education system to make it competitive with internationally, improve training program for teachers, and introduce a sustainable student loan program to deserving students.

Mike Toledo, Teodoro’s spokesman, admitted that the aim of ensuring at least one degree holder for every family was “ambitious” but doable.

“You heard him say how important quality education in lifting the economy, thus a Teodoro administration would ensure that sufficient fund is available for those deserving but underprivileged students,” he said in a phone interview.

Under the proposed program, a seed capital of P5 billion to P6 billion will be set aside in the Social Security System and invested in income-generating schemes to ensure sustainability.

Students can avail of this loan program for their education, which they can start paying once they get a job.

One payment scheme will be through salary deduction when the person gets a job, Toledo said.

He said the formula was proven successful in other countries based on the students that have graduated from college.

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Teodoro forms own media bureau outside of party

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:42:00

Filed Under: Media, Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Move over Lakas Kampi CMD media bureau. Here comes the "Gibo 2010 campaign bureau.''

Two weeks into the campaign, administration standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro has formed his own media bureau independent of the party's own, tapping deposed President Joseph Estrada's former spokesperson to head it.

The main job of the Gibo 2010 campaign bureau is to disseminate Teodoro's platform of government and positions on crucial issues to the voters "immediately,'' bureau head Mike Toledo said.

"We intend to make this one of the most organized campaigns, not only in terms of having the most of local executives under our wing, but in terms of disseminating information about the platform of government of Secretary Teodoro,'' Toledo told reporters.

Toledo, who served as deputy spokesperson, and later on acting Press Secretary in the shortlived Estrada administration, announced the creation of the bureau and its members last Wednesday.

The bureau is running Teodoro's campaign from the Linden Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, away from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD headquarters along Edsa in Greenhills, San Juan.

It is separate from the party's media bureau which is handling the campaign of its senatorial candidates, and from that of its vice presidential candidate Edu Manzano.

In the run-up to and days after the Feb. 9 kick-off of the presidential campaign, some reporters assigned to the Teodoro campaign have observed the poor coordination on, say schedule of his sorties.

Toledo, who also doubles as Teodoro's spokesperson, however, was quick to dispel observations that the presidential candidate wasn't satisfied with the performance of his party's media bureau.

"We're not saying that the party's efforts weren't enough. What's important is that we're assured of victory. Why leave things to chance? As John F. Kennedy said, ‘If you think you'll come in second, you'll not come in first,’" he said.

"We do everything we can, everything legally possible, to make sure that on May 10 we emerge No. 1. If that means coming up with another bureau, like the one we're putting up right now, so be it,'' he added.

What Teodoros’ bureau hopes to do is to "step up'' efforts of the party media bureau, according to Toledo.

Toledo, a graduate of the UP College of Law and a lawyer by profession like Teodoro, stressed that running a presidential campaign was a "serious business.''

"It can't be taken lightly. If you're complacent for just a minute, you're in danger. Secretary Teodoro has a message, has a good platform, and it will be a waste if this is not disseminated and not brought out to all voters, to all people for them to understand, and to realize that he is the right candidate, and the right man for the position of President,'' he said.

Teodoro, 45, has been given free rein to mount his campaign since taking over the leadership of the party. He has yet to climb out of his poor survey ratings, less than three months before the vote.

While it's being run independently, the bureau would still closely coordinate with the party's media bureau, according to Toledo.

"This is just to complement and sustain the effort. In politics, there's no such thing as `we've done enough.' Let's not leave any stone unturned as far as the message is concerned,'' he said. "We should help each other out. If there's another group that will help us, it is welcome.''

Toledo declined to say if the party or Teodoro alone is financing the media bureau, saying he was not in a position to talk about this.

Asked whether it was too late in the day to form such a bureau, he said: "It's never too late. We have a group before. It's just being formalized now."

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