Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wrong ink used on ballots

By Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star
Updated April 01, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Now it’s the wrong ink.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has admitted that Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) supplied the wrong ultraviolet (UV) ink used in the printing of the ballots for the May 10 elections, and that these marks are thus unreadable by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

However, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal refused to say if the supplier would be penalized.

“I don’t want to preempt because at this point in time that question has to be decided by the en banc,” Larrazabal said.

A UV mark is placed on each ballot as one of the security markings.

According to Consortium on Electoral Reforms executive director Ramon Casiple, the poll body has decided to shut off the UV readers of the PCOS machines after they failed to read many ballots during the laboratory tests last January.

Casiple, also a member of the Comelec Advisory Council on Poll Automation, claimed that the UV ink provided by Smartmatic-TIM “lacked the density” needed to be read by the machines.

As a way out, the Comelec will instruct the teachers serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) to use portable UV lamps to scan the UV security markings on the ballots.

But this will extend the queuing time of each voter by at least two seconds.

The portable UV lamps are the same ones used to check whether currency is fake or real.

Larrazabal would not confirm or deny that the UV ink supplied by Smartmatic-TIM was wrong and refused to divulge the explanation given by the joint venture.

“There’s a number of things and let’s wait for the en banc. For me what is important is there is still a way to authenticate the UV ink. The ballot itself is authenticated by the PCOS machines,” he said.

Asked why the Comelec opted to use portable UV reader instead of replacing the UV ink, Larrazabal said that would have set a bad precedent

“If you do that people will come up with so many excuses to invalidate this ballot and that ballot. Right now we are working on a timeline to ensure that we have ballots on Election Day,” he said.

Another official said the Comelec is actually on schedule as far as the printing of 50 million ballots for the May polls is concerned.

Esmeralda Amora-Ladra, head of the poll body’s printing committee, said they have already printed 55 percent of the ballots as of last count.

Ladra said there is still enough time to finish printing the ballots on April 25, which is currently being done at the National Printing Office (NPO).

She said their level of confidence was further boosted when a fifth printer was commissioned last March 27 by Smartmatic to add to the previous four machines they were using.

Ladra, however, stressed that their effort entailed only the printing of 50 million ballots for automated voting and not the printing for manual voting.

She admitted they were previously wary that they would not finish the printing in time, which made them entertain offers by private printers.

She said that one firm, Secomp Solutions, had offered their technology and services to the Comelec.

“But with the fifth printer, I think we don’t need any additional services,” Ladra said.

Rumors had been circulating at the NPO about the slow progress of the printing of the ballots.

Sources at the NPO said that the ballot printing has only finished 50 percent of the target as of last tally.

Tightened security in Mindanao

In Mindanao, Comelec regional director lawyer Helen Aguila-Flores said police and military forces will tighten security preparations in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in relation to the expected arrival of the PCOS machines and their distribution in the region this April.

“The police and military have already prepared the security for the machines and the election period itself,” she said, adding that 2,979 PCOS machines are expected to be deployed in Zamboanga peninsula.

Lawyer Vidzfar Julie, deputy regional Comelec director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said they are also expecting the PCOS machines to arrive.

The two election officials said the tight security preparation is needed to safeguard the machines, citing the situation in some areas in the region in the previous election.

Flores said the police and military, in coordination with Smartmatic, have already mapped out the security and deployment arrangement for the machines to avert any sabotage.

She said they have considered all the important matters in the deployment of the PCOS machines, including physical accessibility.

She said the police or the Armed Forces will assist in areas not accessible by normal transportation and areas difficult to penetrate due to the presence of insurgents or threat of armed groups. – Rainier Allan Ronda, Roel Pareño

Original Story:

Millionaires to represent ‘balut’ vendors in House

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:54:00 04/01/2010

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

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—They properly belong to the party set, not to a party-list representing a so-called marginalized sector.

Among the nominees of Ang Kasangga, the party-list group of First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s sister, are multimillionaires and influential people, not balut vendors and other micro-entrepreneurs, administration critics said yesterday.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the first two nominees of Ang Kasangga—Teodorico T. Haresco and Eugenio V. Lacson—are multimillionaires linked to the Arroyo administration.

“They do not fall within the category of micro-entrepreneurs,” he said.

“The law and Commission on Elections guidelines are clear: A party-list nominee must not only be an advocate of the sector it is representing,” Bayan and the poll watchdog Kontra Daya said in a joint statement.

“The nominee must belong to the marginalized sector,” it said.

In its website, Ang Kasangga claims it represents micro-entrepreneurs.

In the House of Representatives, it is represented by Maria Lourdes Arroyo, sister of the First Gentleman.

Her “entry into Congress drew heavy criticism because it was alleged she did not represent small business. It was during this period that Ang Kasangga defended her, saying she represented small businessmen, including balut vendors,” noted Reyes.

The party-list group defines micro-entrepreneurs as “those with individual capital of P3 million and below.”

‘Bridges to nowhere’

“If Ang Kasangga’s nominees are allowed to stand as nominees, what will prevent big business interests to seek or even buy a seat in Congress in the future?” said Reyes.

Haresco is a member of the board of directors of the state-run Philippine National Oil Co., said Reyes. He was reportedly involved in the President’s controversial Bridge Program which has drawn criticism for allegedly being the “bridges to nowhere.”

Among many other things, Haresco is chair and chief executive officer of Winace Holdings Philippines, which is involved in the acquisition and sale of stocks, bonds and investment securities, Reyes said.

Lacson is a three-term city mayor and is ranked No. 79 among the top 100 stockholders of Fidelity Stock Transfers Inc. Others in the list are businessman Luciano Tan and several members of the Ortigas and Villonco families, all of whom are not considered micro-entrepreneurs, Reyes also said.

Lacson was being considered by the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD as a vice gubernatorial candidate in Negros Occidental for the May elections before he decided to run under the party-list system.

Arroyo-linked groups

There are at least 14 other party-list groups with links to the Arroyo administration, according to Reyes:

Ang Galing Pinoy, whose first nominee is Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo. The group’s other nominees are Mayor Dennis Pineda of Lubao, Pampanga, and Mayor Romeo Dungca of Bacolor, Pampanga. The party, formerly known as Guardians Anti-Crime, Pro-People Organization, claims to represent security guards, tricycle drivers and vendors.

1-Utak, party-list of the transport sector, whose nominees include former Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes and lawyer Vigor Mendoza, ex-official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Batang Iwas Droga, BIDA, which says in its website it was the “brainchild” of Efraim Genuino, chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). Its nominees include Efraim’s daughter Sheryl Genuino-See; businessman Johnny Tan and Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, currently a nominee for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Kabayan, which claims to represent transport sector workers, farmers and fisherfolk, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, anticrime crusaders, and overseas Filipino workers, among others. Its nominees include Ron Salo, former subordinate of ex-Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

Pacyaw, which claims to represent urban poor youth, has tourism assistant secretary Janet Rita Lazatin and former consul Reynaldo Pineda as nominees.

“Also in the list are Association of Labor and Employees, Abot Tanaw, APO 1, Bantay True Marcos Loyalists, Aangat Tayo, Abono, Abante Tribung Makabansa, Alliance of People’s Organizations, and Anad, an “anticommunist group believed to be supported by the Armed Forces,” Reyes added.

Original Story:

Arroyo party breaking up; First Gentleman blamed (Mike A ‘called up’ Garcias to back Villar)

By TJ Burgonio, Aquiles Zonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer Mindanao
First Posted 01:11:00 04/01/2010

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

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Reports that First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo is backing another presidential candidate forced Gilbert Teodoro Jr. to quit as chair of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, party mates said Wednesday.

The administration party teetered on disintegration after Lakas president Sarangani Gov. Miguel “Migz” Dominguez and party secretary general Francis Manglapus followed Teodoro’s lead and quit their posts Wednesday.

“It’s true. The First Gentleman and his allies are supporting Manny Villar. That may have triggered Teodoro’s resignation,” said a Lakas senatorial candidate, who asked not to be named.

Even before the start of the national campaign on Feb. 9, it was an “open secret” among his party mates that Mike Arroyo was bankrolling the campaign of the Nacionalista Party presidential candidate, the administration senatorial candidate said.

“And he (Teodoro) doesn’t believe that GMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) doesn’t know about this,” he added.

Teodoro quit as party chair Tuesday purportedly to focus on his campaign, and to allow the party to tap a full-time chair who could respond to the needs of local officials.

Because of reports that Mike Arroyo is backing Villar, the NP standard-bearer’s allies in Lakas-Kampi-CMD, especially the original members of Kampi, have started to defect to Villar’s camp. The most recent among them was Cebu Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, according to the Lakas senatorial candidate.

A number of Lakas stalwarts in Mindanao have also declared their support for Villar—among them Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas, who also defected to the NP; Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy, the Lakas chair in the province; and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri.
Luis “Chavit” Singson, presidential assistant on national security, also recently announced his resignation as Lakas coordinator in Ilocos and declared himself an independent candidate for governor of Ilocos Sur. Later he said he was backing Villar.

He said he had to address his differences with the Lakas standard-bearer. “When Gibo was secretary of defense, he did not give me an appointment. Despite my many attempts for us to meet, he did not give me time,” Singson said.

More than halfway through the campaign, the former defense secretary trails Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Villar and deposed President Joseph Estrada in surveys, stuck at 6 percent.


The opposition has claimed that Villar who is battling Aquino for No. 1 in the polls was Ms Arroyo’s “secret candidate,” an allegation dismissed by presidential spokespersons as “black propaganda.”

“That’s absolutely, completely false. That’s gossip. As far as I know, they’re supporting Gibo,” Mike Arroyo’s lawyer Ruy Rondain said.

But a second source confirmed that Teodoro’s resignation was prompted by the Arroyos’ support for Villar.

Mike’s call to Garcias

A party official, who requested anonymity, said Teodoro uncovered the shift of support when members of the Garcia family of Cebu decided to jump ship and support Villar.

When the support of the Garcias for Villar became public, Teodoro went to Cebu and confronted Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, the source said.

Only the governor has remained in the Teodoro camp among the Garcias.

“Gibo was so furious when he learned of the Garcias’ support of Villar. So he went to Cebu to talk with Gwen. There, he was informed about what really took place,” the source said.

He said “Gwen told Gibo during their one-on-one talk that the First Gentleman had called them up, the reason why other members of the Garcia clan switched support to Villar.”

Villar’s denial

As expected, Villar denied that he was the “secret” candidate of Malacañang and that he was enjoying financial support from the Arroyos.

“I did not ask [for money] from Malacañang and I don’t wish to receive any,” Villar said in a statement quoting what he said in a press conference.

He maintained that he was not an administration accomplice, noting that as then chair of the Senate committee on public order, he headed the probe of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, that allegedly involved Ms Arroyo and some members of her family.

He also pointed out that NP stalwarts Gilbert Remulla and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano led the congressional inquiries into the “Hello Garci” and ZTE-NBN scandals.

Since his ouster from the Senate presidency, Villar said he had not talked to either Ms Arroyo or her husband.

Lack of funds

Teodoro’s decision to quit and run his own campaign was proof of the party’s lack of funds, according to Mayor Ramon Guico of Binalonan, Pangasinan.

“That shows that the party has no money,” said Guico, also a Lakas senatorial candidate.

“We’re aware that local candidates are badgering him (Teodoro) for funds. But what if the party doesn’t give him any funds? What can he do? How can the machinery campaign for him if there are no funds?” said Guico.

Guico, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said he received a barrage of text messages from mayors Wednesday, asking whether the party had funds.

Two weeks ago, Teodoro said he had received funds from the party, but was unaware if the senatorial candidates had received any.

Need for full-time chair

Reggie Velasco, deputy secretary general, maintained that there was nothing more to Teodoro’s resignation than the need for a full-time chair to attend to the needs of local officials.

“We have funds. But with so many candidates running, there has to be someone who is agreeable to make optimal use of these funds,” he said by phone.

Even before party members could come to grips with Teodoro’s resignation, Dominguez and Manglapus quit Wednesday as president and secretary general, respectively.

Courtesy to the Excom

After talking on the phone Wednesday morning, Manglapus said he and Dominguez offered their resignations to the executive committee to give it a free hand in choosing the next chair.

But like Teodoro, both are staying on as party members.

“After Gilbert decided to relinquish his post, it’s just natural [for us to resign] as a courtesy to the executive committee so they will have the flexibility to decide who will be the next chair,” Manglapus said at the party headquarters on EDSA.

Besides, he added: “We came in as a package.” He, however, said he might reconsider his resignation should the party decide to retain him as secretary general.

In the party’s Nov. 19, 2009, convention, party members approved resolutions nominating Teodoro as chair, Edu Manzano as vice chair, Dominguez as president and Manglapus as secretary general.

If the principle of automatic succession were followed, either Manzano or his fellow vice chair Oscar Moreno would replace Teodoro, officials said.

Manglapus, son of the late Sen. Raul Manglapus, said he would now focus solely on Teodoro’s campaign, while Dominguez would focus on his reelection as governor.

Manglapus squelched speculations that Teodoro had in effect abandoned the party, and even his candidacy.

“We’re going full blast with the campaign,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s still the official candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.”


Teodoro’s announcement, however, has shocked many of his party mates, leaving some of them demoralized.

Guico said he was “hurt” and “demoralized” by the resignation because Teodoro did not consult him and the other senatorial candidates.

“We’re like children abandoned by their father. He should have consulted us,” he said.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay demanded that party leaders call a meeting. “They should explain to us what really happened. We have a right to know.”

Nograles confused

Speaker Prospero Nograles was among those taken aback by the spate of resignations from Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“The resignation is a shock to me and (was made) without any consultation from us, the previous leaders of the party. I am now confused and seem to be out of the loop,” Nograles said in a text message to reporters.

Nograles said the local troops were also confused. “What has happened to our party? To each his own?” he asked.

What would happen now to the campaigns of Manzano and the six Lakas senatorial candidates?

“Everything is status quo. It’s best for the party. They can take care of the needs of the local candidates,” Manglapus said.

Dominguez said majority of the members of the League of the Provincial Governors of the Philippines were still behind Teodoro.

Asked why he resigned as Lakas president, Dominguez said he was only following Teodoro. “I go where my party chair goes,” he said. With a report from Gil Cabacungan

Original Story:

Bro. Eddie Villanueva: reflect and discern

31 March 2010 / Wednesday
Media Reference:

Bro. Eddie Villanueva: reflect and discern

Bangon Pilipinas Party presidential candidate Bro. Eddie Villanueva urged the Filipino people to make this Lenten Season a time to reflect on the most important issues of life.

“The time calls for all of us to see the connection between the sufferings of Christ that led to His death on the Cross for the redemption of mankind and the current untold sufferings of our people who are seeking redemption from the clutches of systemic and endemic corruption that has made life a living hell for the vast majority of us,” he said.

Villanueva explained that it is not coincidental that the seemingly only remaining vestige of hope for a people and nation in peril is the conduct of a credible, honest, orderly, and peaceful election on May 10.

“In my heart of hearts, I shall be praying for just one thing this Holy Week, that may all those who have evil plans for the upcoming elections grow a good conscience, be convicted of the crime they will be committing against their very own children and grandchildren, and be converted to become vanguards of our democracy instead,” the former televangelist added.

He emphasized that the central message of Lent is making the ultimate sacrifice, that of willingly choosing to die a cursed death for the good of others.

“There can be no greater example of service and servanthood than that which Jesus exemplified for us. With genuine fear of God and love for the nation, this is the very kind of service that the Bangon Pilipinas Party is committed to offer to our people. I deem it important to underscore this in this season of Lent to make a point that our solemn vow to further no interests other than that of our people is not only for them but more importantly unto the Lord,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Bangon Pilipinas Party standard-bearer also urged Filipinos to discern for themselves and listen to what the Lord has been telling them in history.

“Where have traditional politics and traditional politicians led us in our course as a nation? Why have we reached the pit of corruption, almost the point of no return, under their watch?” he asked, adding however that all is not yet lost if the nation would only vote for non-traditional politicians on May 10.

“Death did not keep Jesus from resurrecting Lazarus and death did not keep the Heavenly Father from resurrecting Jesus. While we may be at the brink of death as a people and nation, all is not yet lost for us. Kaya pang bumangon ng isang bagong Pilipinas sa ilalim ng isang bagong sistema ng pulitika,” said Villanueva who is running on the platform of Anim na Taong Walang Korapsyon, ang Bagong Pilipinas ay Babangon.

Moreover, he also appealed to those running in the upcoming elections to refrain from spending the Lenten season on electioneering, saying this is unethical albeit legal.

“Huwag na sanang magamit pa ang Kuwaresma para sa pangangampanya kahit pa ang mga araw ay sakop ng election period. Ang higit na mainam at kailangan ay masusing pagninilay, hindi lamang tuwing ganitong panahon kundi sa bawat sandali, upang matiyak na tama ang ating intension at aksyon, at tunay tayong ginagabayan ng Panginoon sa tamang landasin at gawain,” he said.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gilberto Teodoro resigns as Lakas-Kampi-CMD chairman

03/30/2010 | 09:16 PM

Original Story:

Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has quit as chair of the administration party to focus his energies on his presidential campaign, a month before the end of the campaign period.

“Effective immediately I am resigning as chairman of our party to focus all my efforts campaigning for the presidency of the country as the official candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD," Teodoro said in a letter addressed to the Lakas-Kampi-CMD national executive committee.

On November 17, 2009, Teodoro was elected Lakas-Kampi-CMD chairman, four months after leaving the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

Reelectionist Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, the party’s vice chairman, is his likely successor.

Party officials have aired their concerns over Teodoro’s ability to handle the post of party chairman while campaigning.

Teodoro has placed fourth in national preference surveys, trailing behind his second cousin Sen. Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party, and former president Joseph Estrada of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

Teodoro’s Facebook page, in its latest status update, said: “Sec. Gibo Teodoro remains steadfast in winning the presidency in May 10, 2010, that is why he had to resign as chairman of the party, because of the diligent work being chairman requires. This now allows him to dedicate his full time to his campaign. Expect the campaign to go to third and fourth gear." - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV

Original Story:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gibo cautions Arroyo on asset sale

by Joyce Pangco Panares

Original Story:

The ruling party’s standard bearer Gilberto “Gibo’’ Teodoro Jr. has urged the Arroyo administration to exercise prudence and leave it to the next president to pursue the sale of state assets valued at P30 billion.

While Teodoro acknowledged that the sale of the assets will help narrow the widening budget deficit which could hit P293 billion this year, he said privatization efforts should be left to the discretion of the next administration to avoid controversy.

“I am not familiar with the assets, but for me, prudence is the order of the day. Be prudent and exercise utmost conservative judgment,” said Teodoro of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

The Harvard-educated lawyer and 1995 Bar topnotcher said it might “not be a wise move” to push through with the sale with barely three months left for the Arroyo administration.

The government expects at least P30 billion in additional revenues with the planned sale of state assets and the lease of the Fujimi property in Tokyo within the first semester of the year.

Up for disposal under the privatization program are the 102-hectare Food Terminal Inc. in Taguig and at least 60 percent of government shares in the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp.

Proceeds from the privatization of the state assets are expected to offset this year’s budget deficit, which the Development Budget Coordinating Committee placed P293 billion, up from an original ceiling of P233.4 billion. That is based on such assumptions as the delay in the sale of state assets.

The government hopes to raise at least P15 billion from the sale of its 60-percent stake in PNOC-EC, P13 billion from FTI and P6 billion from the lease of the 4,361-square meter Fujimi property in Tokyo.

The Fujimi property, located in upscale Fujimi Cho, Chiyoda-Ku, is currently the Philippine ambassador’s residence in the Japanese capital.

The government plans to tear down the structure for a 21-storey building, the penthouse of which will serve as the ambassador’s residence.

“The sale of these assets must be left to the next administration, so I counsel prudence,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro downplayed the defection of former Ilocos Gov. Chavit Singson to rival camp. “Manong Chavit in Ilocos Sur, if ever, is a big loss. However, I will always rely on my personal relationship with the Ilocano people,” said Teodoro, who is the only Ilocano-speaking presidential aspirant.

Singson, the provincial chairman of Lakas-Kampi CMD’s Ilocos Sur chapter, recently declared support for Senator Manuel Villar Jr. because majority of the local leaders allied with him wanted to support the Nacionalista Party standard bearer.

Original Story:

Comelec issues guidelines on overseas voting

By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:57:00 03/28/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Inquirer Politics

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines -- Officials administering the month-long overseas absentee voting in Hong Kong and Singapore have been ordered to print status reports of the process at the start and end of each day.

The report will contain the number of those who had voted and the number of valid ballots counted, according to Resolution No. 8806 that was released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over the weekend.

The resolution contains general instructions for the special board of election inspectors and special ballot reception and custody group on the voting, counting and transmission of results for the balloting in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Due to the large number of absentee voters in Hong Kong and Singapore, the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines procured by the Comelec for the country’s first automated elections will be used there.

In other countries, Filipino voters will send out ballots via mail, or cast votes personally in designated polling precincts and have the ballots counted manually, in accordance with the traditional procedures of absentee voting.

The overseas absentee voting will be held 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 10 to May 10.

Under the Comelec resolution, the special boards are required to count and record the number of unused ballots at the end of each voting day. The boards and the watchers present should also sign the status report.

The report, along with the unused ballots and other election documents and paraphernalia, will be placed inside the ballot receptacle and election materials box sealed with a masking tape signed by board members.

The Comelec resolution emphasized that the ballot box and the counting machines should remain inside the polling place and should be secured.

At the start of each voting day, the boards should also print the status report, and compare the number of valid ballots cast in the status report with the number that had been recorded.

The board should also show that there are ballots inside the black ballot box, without opening it.

The ballot box has a small transparent window through which the contents can be seen.

After the votes are counted, unused ballots should be torn in half lengthwise. One half would be placed in an envelope and submitted to the custody group for safekeeping, while the other half would be put in an envelope to be deposited in the ballot box.

The resolution also states that before the termination of the voting, the board members are barred from announcing whether a voter has voted, how many have voted or have so far failed to do so, or stating any other fact that tends to show the state of the polls or reveal how any person has voted.

Original Story:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Will the real party list group please stand up?

VERA Files

Original Story:

In 1998, the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives or APEC decided to plunge into Philippine politics through the party list elections.

That year happened to be the first time that Filipino voters would be electing a party list group, on top of an individual politician in their congressional districts, to the House of Representatives. Approved three years earlier, Republic Act No. 7941 or the party list law had sought to include "marginalized" sectors in lawmaking.

But the leaders of APEC, composed of electric cooperatives based mostly in Mindanao, only thought of joining the race five months before the May 1998 polls, and nearly everything—from the name of the group to its list of nominees for congressional seats—was done hurriedly, admits Edgar Valdez, APEC’s current representative to Congress.

"Noon turo-turo na lang. Parang it was all a joke (We just pinpointed who would be the nominees. It’s as if it was all a joke)," said Valdez, who was at the time the group’s No. 5 nominee.

The last-minute formation of the party list organization and the absence of a track record are enough grounds for APEC’s disqualification under an administrative order of the Commission on Elections.

APEC’s accreditation, admits Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, is one big blunder committed by the Comelec.

But the poll body has not acted to correct its mistake. Save for a petition filed by another organization before the Supreme Court questioning the qualification of APEC’s nominees—a case the electric cooperatives later won—no one has disputed APEC’s presence in Congress.

The party list group representing electric coops has consistently landed a seat in Congress since the 11th Congress. Today, in the 14th Congress, it holds two seats, enjoying the perks of lawmaking, including the infamous pork-barrel funds placed at Congress’ disposal every year.

Comelec’s apparent laxity in accrediting party list groups, coupled with a Supreme Court order allocating seats to party list groups that garnered only 1 percent of votes instead of the 2 percent required by RA 7941, has led to a deluge of party list group aspirants, with a record 293 applying and an unprecedented 158 accredited for this year’s elections.

Among the party list groups that have sought accreditation are those that claim to represent tricycle drivers and security guards, miners, itinerant vendors, barangay tanods, golf course caddies, and even jail inmates. Some have nominees or representatives who are actually traditional politicians or former government officials.

"It’s a mockery, it bastardizes the principles of the party list system," said former Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales.

The original intention of the party list system was to open up the legislative system to sectors whose views and voices have been excluded. The law originally lists categories of these "marginalized," among them peasants, labor, youth, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, and women. And part of the intention was to bring these sectors into Congress from the parliament of the streets where they have been holding rallies for decades.

But Rosales said most of the party list groups applying for accreditation are fake: they were nonexistent before the elections, have no nationwide membership, no clear legislative programs to implement, and even have "bogus" nominees.

Among the nominees in the current crop of applicants are First Son Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, who is the nominee for a group representing security guards, and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff and environment and energy secretary Angelo Reyes, who is the nominee for a transport sector group. Rosales said the two are proof that traditional politicians are using the party list system as a backdoor to Congress.

"The first thing any clear thinking Comelec should do is to question. We know that this (Mikey Arroyo) is a very rich person who owns property all over the world, including California which he didn’t declare in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities," said current Akbayan representative Walden Bello.

On the other hand, 1-Utak, the transport sector group that is adopting Reyes as a nominee, came under fire for allegedly being a front of the big oil firms. The jeepney drivers and operators’ group Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng Transport at Operator Nationwide finds it suspicious that 1-Utak’s legislative program is centered on the pricing of petroleum products rather than the welfare of jeepney drivers. 1-Utak has denied the accusation.

Last week, the Comelec issued Resolution No. 8807 which may yet disqualify Mikey Arroyo and Reyes from the party list race. The resolution stipulates that party list nominees have to submit documentary evidence to prove that they "belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition they seek to represent."

To qualify, a party list group must not be funded by a foreign government or the Philippine government, must renounce violence and represent a marginalized sector, must have track record, and must show proof of "national constituency" (regional chapters in at least nine regions in the country).

Despite Comelec’s supposed strictness, many groups with questionable records have passed its scrutiny. For one thing, the sheer number of applications has forced the Comelec to hear 10 to 15 applications—25 at times—a day.

But a more inherent problem is R.A. 7941 itself. "(T)he law passed by Congress has many gaps, has many vague provisions," Sarmiento said.

Others, however, chiefly blame Comelec and its interpretation of the law.

APEC’s Valdez, who was president of the Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative for 17 years before becoming a congressman, insists there is no really case against APEC and faults the Comelec for the late issuance of implementing rules and regulations for R.A. Act 7941 in the 1998 elections.

He also said the track record required of party list groups is not found in the law but was just imposed by Comelec.

"Gawa-gawa lang ng Comelec ’yang administrative order nila (Comelec just made up that administrative order was only made up by the Comelec). It did not exist in 1998. If it’s illegal now, it would be faux facto (false fact)," Valdez said.

Comelec’s definition of "marginalized" is also unclear, said UP professor and former National Treasurer Leonor Briones.

Sectoral parties, organizations, political parties pursuing ideologies and ideas, and coalitions can be accredited as party list groups.

But Briones said the criteria being used by Comelec in legitimizing such groups are so vague that one could no longer identify which is indeed marginalized and which is just projecting itself to be so.

She cited An Waray, a regional organization based in Eastern Visayas whose advocacy is to uplift the plight of poor Visayans.

Briones, who is from Dumaguete City, takes issue with An Waray’s insinuation that all Warays are poor and helpless. "What is the basis to say who is marginalized? The Warays as Warays or as fisherfolk? Is it according to livelihood? Is it according to region? Is it according to economic sector like fishermen or farmers?" she said. "If you are from Samar, therefore you are marginalized? I would dispute that."

Briones also scored the entry of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s son, Narciso II, as a party list representative of the rural communities.

"How can the son of Miriam be a representative of the farmers?" she asked of Narcisco II, who used to be a member of his mother’s legislative staff.

"The party list system is in a mess. It’s supposed to give representation to marginalized sectors, but if you look at the present party list representatives, it’s very obvious they are not marginalized," Briones said.

The composition of the 32 party list groups now sitting in Congress underscores the imbalanced representation of marginalized sectors in the legislature.

Abono, Anakpawis, Aba-Ako, ARC and AGAP represent the agricultural sector. Groups formed to lobby for the poor are the An Waray, Alagad, Bayan Muna, Akbayan, Ang Kasangga, Gabriela, Akbayan and Aangat Tayo. For the barangays or villagers, there are Banat and Ang Bantay. TUCP and 1-Utak represent the public transport sector, and A-Teacher and Abakada-Guro the teachers. Cibac and Yacap are anti-graft watchdogs. Cooperatives are being represented by the Coop-Natcco, Butil and APEC. The elderly has the Senior Citizens and the Veterans Filipino parties.

Ironically, Kabataan is the sole representative of the youth even if more than half the country’s 89 million population belong to this sector. The indigenous peoples are represented only by Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino.

No party list group represents the physically impaired or overseas Filipino workers whom the government calls its "modern-day heroes."

Migrante International, an OFW party list group and the only organization identified with migrant workers, was disqualified by the Comelec along with 25 others. The reasons: it had failed to obtain 2 percent votes and to participate in the 2007 elections.

RA 7941 clearly prohibits religious groups from becoming party list groups. Yet questions linger as to why Cibac (Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption), which is allied with Jesus is Lord Movement’s Eddie Villanueva, and Buhay, which is identified with the El Shaddai’s Mike Velarde, have been accredited by Comelec.

Villanueva’s son, Joel, even represents the minority bloc at the powerful Commission on Appointments. Velarde’s son Rene, on the other hand, is the deputy majority leader. Both are on their third and final term. In the 2010 elections, the elder Velarde himself is listed as a Buhay nominee. No one has ever questioned their groups’ seats in Congress.

Sarmiento said the Comelec has noted all these violations but is caught in a dilemma on how to address it. He said only Congress can end this recurring problem.

"I think the law has to be fine-tuned. When you say supported by a religious sector, what does it mean? There are groups in Congress that are being supported by a religious group," Sarmiento said.

As disturbing as party list groups backed by Church groups are those affiliated with giant political parties or with nominees related or identified with political figures.

As early as the 1998 congressional elections, the Lakas-NUCD-CMD, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan have been banned from joining the party list elections.

These groups, however, have tried various tacks to slip into Congress via the party list route, aided by what used to be a policy of Comelec against disclosing the names of the nominees of party list groups. (The Supreme Court has ordered the Comelec to disclose the nominees of every party list group that is participating in this year’s elections.)

The groups included GLOW (Gloria Arroyo); NCWP (National Council of Women of the Philippines), with the sister of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. as the second nominee; Bagong Bayani, with former congresswoman Andrea Domingo who was also head of the JDV Foundation; Kampil (Kabataang Masang Pilipino) of JV Ejercito, and Lakas-CCW. Some of them, however, lost during the electons.

In the 2007 polls, the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalistang Pilipino attempted to enter Congress. Its first nominee then was Norberto Gonzales, who was already in the Arroyo Cabinet.

Ang Kasangga sa Kaunlaran (Ang Kasangga) was formed in 2005 and succeeded in putting presidential sister-in-law Ma. Lourdes Arroyo as the representative of vendors and other small-time entrepreneurs in Congress. She is the fourth Arroyo in the House.

Kakusa, founded by convicted child rapist former Zamboanga del Norte congressman Romeo Jalosjos, is also part of the 14th Congress. Kakusa is also affiliated with Gonzales’s PDSP.

The brother of former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Dr. Arsenio Abalos, nearly made it as a party list representative of tricycle drivers through Biyaheng Pinoy. Public outrage forced then Comelec Chairman Abalos to scratch his brother’s group from the list.

Agbiag is an Ilocano group connected with Thompson Lantion, former chair of the Land Transportation Land and Franchising Regulatory Board, while Ahon Pinoy has Dante "Klink" Ang Jr. as its first nominee. Ang is the son of Dante Ang, Arroyo’s former publicist who now heads the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

Resolution 8807 should aid the Comelec in deciding who should be a party list group’s nominees. The law allows an "advocate" of a sector to pass as a group nominee, but the resolution now states that the nominee must come from the sector he or she seeks to represent.

"If the group or sector is really marginalized, the representative must be marginalized also. Because that is the best," Sarmiento said. "But what’s happening is there are advocates who are millionaires. Is that acceptable? For me it’s not acceptable."

(The author is a television reporter who submitted a longer version of this article as her master’s project at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Asian Center for Journalism. Her adviser was VERA Files trustee Luz Rimban. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look into current issues.)

Original Story:

Noynoy: No Speaker Gloria if LP wins

Original Story:

LIBERAL Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III yesterday said President Arroyo’s reported plan to become House speaker is possible only under a Villar administration because of the "unholy alliance" between the government and the camp of Nacionalista Party’s Sen. Manuel Villar.

Under an Aquino administration, there is no way Arroyo will become speaker because the LP’s allies would not allow it, he said.

"After EDSA, there has been no speaker that has been not allied with the (new) administration. GMA has exploited that to a very large extent," he said.

Aquino noted many of Arroyo’s allies have already left the ruling Lakas-Kampi CMD in favor of other parties like the LP and Sen. Manuel Villar’s Nacionalista Party.

Arroyo’s critics have warned that she could be planning to wrest power by winning the House speakership and moving to change the 1987 Constitution so she could become prime minister under a parliamentary form of government.

The President’s congressional candidacy is said to be a form of leverage against the pile of legal charges she will be subjected to once she steps down from power next year.

Lakas-Kampi officials earlier admitted the party has already lost almost 40 percent of its allies who have already defected to other parties. –
Wendell Vigilia

Original Story:

Palace not bothered by defections

Original Story:

MALACAÑANG yesterday shrugged off as part of "political realignments" the defection of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson from the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD to the Nacionalista Party, saying administration standard bearer Gilberto Teodoro Jr. would still win the May 10 polls.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said despite Singson’s defection, many officials from the other political parties are bolting to the ruling party.

Olivar said the Palace cannot do anything if Singson, who is seeking to regain his old post in Ilocos Sur, chose to join the Villar bandwagon.

Teodoro was quoted by reports as saying that while Singson’s bolting was "a big loss" he is relying on his personal relationships in the Ilocano-speaking North.

On Saturday, Teodoro was assured by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia that he has the backing of the One Cebu Party, which is headed by the Garcia clan.

Cebu, which has 2.5 million voters, is the province with the biggest voting population. One Cebu Party counts 49 of 51 mayors in its ranks. –
Regina Bengco

Original Story:

Nerissa says she's dropping Teodoro and backing Villar

(The Freeman) Updated March 29, 2010 12:00 AM

Original Story:

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Sixth District Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, who is running for mayor and her entire slate in Mandaue City, announced that they are supporting the presidential bid of Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manuel Villar, but remain loyal to One Cebu Party and will still support the candidacy of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and her running mate Glenn Soco.

The announcement came after Villar met with five Cebu congressmen last week fuelling speculations that One Cebu will go for Villar instead of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro.

“That is expected. I already expected that,” said the unfazed Gov. Garcia when asked for a reaction on this latest political development in the province, which she has dubbed as “Gibo country”.

Soon-Ruiz said that after consultation with her leaders and political allies in Mandaue City, she realized that most, if not all of them would like to support a presidential bet that has the interest of our city in his heart.

She said that her leaders and political allies are clear about their choice and as the head of Nagkahiusang Mandauehanon, she agreed with them and they have reached a consensus.

“We have decided to support a presidential candidate that I am very confident will not turn his back on the people of Mandaue,” Soon-Ruiz said.

However, according to political observers in Mandaue, the decision of Soon-Ruiz and her allies stem from the governor’s penchant to play footsie with the camp of Mayor Jonas Cortes, who is supporting the candidacy of Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.

“Murag namangka sa duha ka barko, si Gwen kay samtang naa kuno siya gasuporta ni Nerissa, iya man sad giabi-abi si Jonas,” the political observer noted.

Soon-Ruiz explained that while serving in Congress for three terms, Villar and his wife Rep. Cynthia Villar were at one time or another a colleague and their working relationship assures her that Villar will be there for Mandaue when he becomes president.

She said that her platform is to provide 24/7 service to Mandauehanons, which is her higher commitment to the people of Mandaue and, if necessary may rise above partisan consideration.

The mayoralty candidate said that she wants the city to progress even surpass its neighbors because at this time we are lagging behind.

She contended that the city’s growth and development has stalled because the administration has no vision and the needed leadership to bring it to new heights.

“My working relationship with the Villars can assure Mandaue of national government support. This is a big political risk for me, but if this is what it takes to ensure that Mandaue will develop and progress in the next three years so be it,” Soon-Ruiz said in a press statement sent to The FREEMAN.

With this shift of support, Soon-Ruiz said that her local slate, with her as the head has tendered their resignation from Lakas-NUCD-CMD party yesterday.

She further said that they are ready to submit their courtesy resignation to Governor Garcia as members of One Cebu party to show our deep respect to her leadership.

“We believe that Gov. Garcia deserves another term as she has ably served the people of Cebu province for the last six years. Hence, we will continue to work hard and campaign to ensure the victory of Gov. Garcia and her running mate Glenn Soco in Mandaue,” Soon-Ruiz added.

The governor however assured that her personal relationship with the Ouanos will remain the same even if the daughter of former Mayor Thadeo Ouano, Emmarie is one of Soon-Ruiz candidates for councilor.

When asked as to how the shift of support will affect Teodoro’s winning in the presidency, the governor said, “One person cannot make a candidate win even myself. That’s why I am campaigning hard,” the governor added. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/NLQ (THE FREEMAN)

Original Story:

‘Reject partylist bets backed by politicos’

March 29, 2010 08:26:00
Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News

Original Story:

PARTYLIST groups backed by outgoing officials or politically influential families should be rejected by voters, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said last Saturday.

Enrile, one of three Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) candidates endorsed by the administration One Cebu party, said the original purpose to give marginalized sectors proper representation in Congress was lost.

Instead, various groups not defined as marginalized under the Constitution proliferated and tried to avail of Congress representation. “It is being abused already,” said Enrile.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) came under fire after it released the nominees of 45 groups out of 187 accredited party-list organizations that included former Cabinet members, military officials and outgoing Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo.

The younger Arroyo gave way to his mother, outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

However, he is seeking a congressional seat under the partylist Ang Galing Pinoy group which is reported to represent the security guards.

Fifty seven seats are allotted for party-list representatives in the 287-member House of Representatives.

Comelec officials admitted that the party-list system needs guidelines for selecting nominees and procedures to disqualify them.

Original Story:

2010 elections more complicated – ‘Erap’

March 28, 2010, 4:08pm

Original Story:

The 2010 national elections will be more complicated compared to past elections because of the presence of moneyed bets who not only buy votes but also buy the candidates of their rival parties, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada lamented on Sunday.

Estrada, who is seeking a fresh term as President after being ousted from the presidency in 2001 by an uprising, said it is hard to duplicate his overwhelming showing in the 1998 presidential election because of presidential bets who use money to lure candidates of other parties to their fold.

"I may not," Estrada speaking in Filipino, answered when asked by reporters if he thinks he can again score a landslide win in Caloocan, his known bailiwick after campaigning in the city last Saturday.

"My rivals (in this election) are moneyed. They have lots of money. They buy everything, even the candidates (of other parties)," he lamented.

He noted a candidate in his original senatorial slate who joined another party even before the campaign period could start.

"Well, mahirap nang magsalita," Estrada said when asked if he was referring to former United Opposition (UNO) Spokesman Adel Tamano who joined the Nacionalista Party to run for senator.
Estrada, the standard-bearer of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), however, chided Tamano on his decision to bolt the opposition particularly his poor showing in pre-election surveys.

"He (Tamano) has not been rating. At least, Joey De Venecia is in the Magic 12," Estrada said referring to the son and namesake of former Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr. who is running for senator under the PMP banner.

Asked if Tamano would have better ratings had he stayed behind the Estrada camp, Estrada said: "Who knows? He has all the qualities, a lawyer, masters (degree) in Harvard University, and he has good looks."

In Caloocan last Saturday, Estrada and his running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay joined PMP's local candidates in a motorcade.

The PMP candidates were warmly welcomed by Caloocan residents as throngs of people lined up the streets starting from Barangay Pangarap during the motorcade.

When they reached Bagong Barrio, PMP candidates ran out of campaign souvenirs to give out to the crowd because of the large crowd that welcomed them along the way.

PMP said they prepared thousands of PMP T-shirts, fans, and stickers to give out to the crowd but still they ran out of such materials at the later stage of the motorcade.

PMP local candidates in Caloocan, led by mayoral candidate Luis “Baby” Asistio and vice mayoral candidate Rey Malonzo promised to deliver millions of votes in the "Erap Country" of Caloocan.

Original Story:

‘Yellow Ladies’ walks for ‘Noynoy’

March 28, 2010, 4:10pm

Original Story:

Hundred of ladies, and their friends, Sunday donned their yellow shirts and dresses, accentuated by yellow pins, yellow baller IDs, and yellow stickers on their bags, and braved the busy streets of the country’s central business district despite the unpredictable weather to show their support for Libreal Party (LP) presidentiable Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“We do this to show the Philippines that we are all-out in our support for Noynoy,” said Polly Penson Aquino, one of the “Yellow Ladies.”

The Yellow Ladies, also known as Noynoy’s “prayer warriors,” come from different walks of life. They are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and even beauty queens. But despite their different backgrounds, they are united as volunteers at the LP headquarters, doing odd jobs as cutting out yellow ribbons to handling message bulletins, basically doing everything they could to help with LP campaign.

“We do this for love of country,” explained Polly. “Noynoy is the candidate with the most moral strength.

Now that corruption is at its worst in the country, what we sorely need is someone who has integrity and will not subject our country to more alleged corruption.”

The Yellow Ladies get together every Thursday to pray for a clean election, and a representative from their group will do a thousand Hail Mary’s each week.

Their walk in Makati consisted of four groups which would all converge on the Ninoy Aquino Monument. They proudly showed their “L” signs to passing motorists and vehicles, not to mention pedestrians.

Original Story:

185 party-lists submit nominees to Comelec

March 28, 2010, 4:06pm

Original Story:

A total of 185 party-list groups Sunday submitted the list of their nominees to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The party-list groups are Cibac, A Teacher, Pacyaw, Aba Ilonggo, Buklod Filipina, APo, Alagad, Butil, Apec, Biyayang Bukid, SB, Bago, Aani, Bandila, Ang PDR, VFP, Agham, AFPSEGCO, Anakpawis, Cocofed, Aksi, Gabriela, Senior Citizens, Abono, Akma-PTM, Fil-Mus, 1Ganap, Kalinga, Ama, Anad, IVAP, Anakalusugan, Kasapi, Atong Paglaum, Abakada, Buhay, Katribu, ATM, Kabataan, Agap, Aba, AMS, Ag. Ame, Consla, LPGMA, 1-Ak, At, Abp-Bicolnon, Arcapp, As, Agbiag, Firm 24-k, Agila, Agri, Bukid, Diwa, Green Force, Amang, Yes We Can, ATS, Awat, Aama, Uni-Mad, PM (manggagawa), FFW, Amin, Abroad, Lypad, Abang Lingkod Inc., Alna, Ang Kasangga, Abakada, Alim, Sabod, Alum, Aki, Alma, Akbayan, Cofa, Ahon, Bida, Aral and Anak.

Among the known personalities included on the list of nominees are resigned Energy secretary Angelo Reyes, the top nominee of 1-UTAK, former police general Romeo Maganto is named as nominee of Sagip while Bantay has Ma. Evangelina Palparan, wife of Rep. Jovito Palparan.

Records showed that Energy Undersecretary Zamsamin Ampatuan, who belongs to the Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao, is the nominee of Anak.

Bayan, along with poll watchdog group Kontra Daya, that monitored the last day of filing of the nominees at the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila, meantime, expressed dismay with the nominees of some party-list groups, claiming it only proves beyond doubt that the party-list system is being abused by the politically and economically influential in the country.

“From the initial list of nominees, we can certainly say that the party-list system is being routinely abused by politicians, big business interests, high-ranking military officials and Palace allies. It is lamentable that it has come to this. Comelec is partly to blame because it has allowed the party-list system to be taken advantage of over the years,” claimed Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr.

It can be recalled that the group earlier questioned the nomination of Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo by the Ang Galing Pinoy Party-list.

The group is also questioning the nominees of PACYAW, APO, ABONO, Aangat Tayo, ANG KASANGGA, ALE, and KABAYAN because of their alleged association with the Arroyo administration. PACYAW counts as its nominees Tourism Asst. Secretary Janet Lazatin and businessman Reynaldo Pineda, both allies of Arroyo from Pampanga. APO party-list has former Ilocos congressman Salacnib Baterina as its first nominee.

ABONO has Robert Raymund Estrella and Franciso Ortega III, who hail from the prominent Estrella and Ortega political clans allied with the administration. Aangat Tayo’s nominee, Rep. Daryl Grace Abayon is the wife of Rep. Harlin Castillo Abayon (Lakas) of Northern Samar.

ANG KASANGGA’s first nominee is businessman Teodorico T. Haresco who, as one website says, “is primarily known for his involvement in the President's Bridge Program a sustained infrastructure and fast-track rural development project spanning over 14 years.”

ALE has Pampanga provincial board member, businesswoman and known Arroyo ally Catalina Bagasina as its first nominee while Office of the President special assistant Erlinda De Leon is its second nominee.

Party-list group KABAYAN has Palace exec Ron Salo as first nominee. Salo was undersecretary under the Office of the Executive Secretary of Eduardo Ermita in 2009 Salo was with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office before moving to the OES.

Original Story:

Villar denies giving money to get support

March 28, 2010, 4:13pm

Original Story:

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manny Villar strongly denied that he is giving campaign funds to politicians who are joining his party, stressing that it is an old and recycled issue being hurled against him to derail his presidential bid.

"Such reports that many politicians are joining NP because I am giving them campaign funds are all pure speculations and old gimmicks by my political adversaries who are desperately exerting all efforts to derail my campaign," said Villar in a press statement

Villar issued the denial following the alleged shifting of support to the NP of Bukidnon Governor Jose Zubiri along with his 22 mayors and former Cebu City Mayor Alvin Garcia, a member of the powerful political clan of Cebu. Garcia who expressed support to Villar's candidacy, is seeking the mayoral post of Cebu City in the coming elections.

Original Story:

‘Gibo’ asks prudence in privatizing over P30 bilion gov’t assets

March 28, 2010, 4:15pm

Original Story:

Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilberto 'Gibo" Teodoro Jr. said Sunday that the government must exercise prudence in privatizing more than P30 billion worth of government assets.

Teodoro was referring to the proposed sale of the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC), Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) and Fujimi property, from which the government is expecting to generate P293 billion in revenues.

He stressed that the sale of the three government properties should be left at the discretion of the next elected administration to avoid controversy.

“I am not familiar with the assets, but for me, prudence is the order of the day, be prudent and exercise utmost conservative judgment,” he stressed.

The government has tried a number of times to auction off all three — the last time at the end of last year — but failed due to poor market conditions and lack of investor interest which contributed to a record P298.5 billion deficit.

While the sale maybe legal and helpful to the country, Teodoro stressed “it does not make it a wise move” due to the expected controversies that could be generated from the transactions.

“The decision (on the sale of government assets) should be left to the next administration, so I counsel prudence, especially in the last remaining months (of this administration),” he said.

Reports said the government also wants to sell the PNOC-EC’s 10-percent interest in the Malampaya natural gas project first before its 60 percent stake in the oil, gas and exploration firm.

Original Story:

‘Chiz’ gives hint of his presidential choice

March 28, 2010, 4:26pm

Original Story:

“I’m not fond of ‘ponkan’.”

This was the curt reply of Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero when asked what color he prefers in the coming May 10 presidential election. (Ponkan is an orange-colored citrus fruit).

In the Philippines, there is the so-called color-coded political campaigns with orange and yellow and green trying to outshine each other. Orange is the color of Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar, yellow of Liberal Party standard bearer Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and green of administration bet Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro.

Escudero said he may announce his choice for the presidency right after undergoing deep prayers and meditation during the Holy Week.

“I may open up and declare right after the Holy Week because we need to think it over and pray hard for enlightenment,” Escudero told the radio program “Kartada Escalera” over radio last Saturday morning.

Escudero said it is the duty of everyone not just to vote but also to express their support and be watchful of the elections.

It may be recalled that right after he backed out from the presidential race, Escudero has openly declared that he will not support Villar.

He is one of the few who stood against Villar during the Senate investigation of the C-5 road controversy.

The senator from Sorsogon said he may have a rough time to choose saying that some of the candidates are even close to him.

“President (Joseph) Estrada is a wedding godfather, same with Sen. Villar. Bro. Eddie Villanuea is also close to me. Senator (Richard) Gordon is a family friend,” he said.

Original Story:

Noynoy stretches lead versus Villar in latest SWS survey

03/29/2010 | 01:10 AM

Original Story:

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy" C. Aquino III has opened up a nine-point lead over his nearest rival for the presidency, fellow legislator and Nacionalista Party bet Sen. Manuel “Manny" B. Villar, Jr., based on the results of the latest BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations Pre-Election Survey.

Mr. Aquino picked up a point to score 37% and further benefitted from a six-point loss for Mr. Villar, now at 28%, in the March 19-22 poll conducted just before campaigning for local posts began last Friday. The gap between the two frontrunners was just two points, within the error margins used, a month earlier.

Spokesmen for both pointed to retweaked strategies working or needing further adjustment, and analysts have said local-level campaigning – where endorsements by their parties’ bets will ostensibly add a new dimension – could change things anew with still a little over a month and a half left to go before the May 10 elections.

Former President Joseph M. “Erap" Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, meanwhile, gained four points to 19%, narrowing his gap with Mr. Villar to nine points from 19 previously.

Administration candidate Gilberto “Gibo" C. Teodoro, Jr. of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD remained in single digit territory with his score staying at 6%.

There were minimal changes with respect to the rest of the “presidentiables": Bagumbayan’s Sen. Richard “Dick" J. Gordon picked up a point to score a fifth-placed 3%, overtaking Bangon Pilipinas’ Eduardo “Bro. Eddie" C. Villanueva who lost a point to 2%. Following were Ang Kapatiran bet John Carlos “JC" G. De Los Reyes with 0.3%, and independent candidates Jesus Nicanor “Nick" P. Perlas (0.1%) and Sen. Ana Consuelo “Jamby" A. S. Madrigal (0.04%).

Votes for disqualified Kilusang Bagong Lipunan candidate Vetellano “Dodong" S. Acosta were classed under the undecided and others.

As with the previous Feb. 24-28 survey, the SWS respondents were asked to privately fill out a ballot containing the names of the official candidates in alphabetical order.

The question asked was “Kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon, sino ang pinakamalamang ninyong ibiboto bilang Presidente, Bise-Presidente, at mga Senador ng Pilipinas? Narito ang listahan ng mga kandidato. Paki-shade o itiman po ang naa-angkop na oval katabi ng pangalan ng taong pina-kamalamang ninyong iboboto (If the elections were held today, whom would you most probably vote for as President, Vice-President, and Senators of the Philippines. Here is a list of candidates. Please shade the oval beside the name of the persons you would most likely vote for).

A total of 2,100 registered voters were polled nationwide, divided into random samples of 300 in Metro Manila and 600 each in the Balance of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. The sampling error margins used were ±2.2% for national percentages, ±6% for Metro Manila, and ±4% for the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The results put Mr. Aquino ahead of the pack in terms of both geographic area and socio-economic class, although he saw his support drop in Metro Manila (39% from 42%) and Mindanao (32% from 35%). He overtook Mr. Villar in the Balance of Luzon (35% versus 30%), and among the class ABC (45% vs. 17%) and class E (33% vs. 31%).

Mr. Villar saw his support eroded in almost all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes, except in Metro Manila where he kept his score of 20%, keeping him third behind Mr. Estrada.

Mr. Aquino’s nationwide gain was limited to one point as his three-point losses in Metro Manila and Mindanao offset increases of four points in the Visayas and two points in the Balance of Luzon.

Mr. Villar’s nationwide loss of six points, meanwhile, was due to seven-point drops in the Balance of Luzon and the Visayas, a six-point fall in Mindanao, and a steady score in Metro Manila.

Mr. Estrada’s four-point gain nationwide was due to an additional six points in Mindanao, five points in the rest of Luzon, four in Metro Manila, and a steady score in the Visayas.

Mr. Teodoro’s score failed to improve as despite picking up a point each in Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao, he lost a point in the Balance of Luzon.

Mr. Gordon leapfrogged Mr. Villanueva by gaining a point each in the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and holding steady in Mindanao while losing a point in Metro Manila.

Mr. Villanueva lost a point each in both the Visayas and Mindanao, gained one in Metro Manila, and held steady in the Balance of Luzon.

By class, Mr. Aquino gained 15 points to 45% among the ABC. Mr. Villar lost 16 to 17% while Mr. Teodoro gained five to 12%. Mr. Estrada lost three (11%), Mr. Villanueva gained two (3%), Mr. de los Reyes one (1%), and the rest were unchanged.

Among class D or the “masa," Mr. Aquino’s score was unchanged at 38%; Mr. Villar lost seven to 27%; Mr. Estrada gained five to 18%; Mr. Teodoro was unchanged at 6%; Mr. Gordon picked up a point to 3%; and Mr. Villanueva lost a point to 2%. There were minimal changes with respect to the scores of the rest of the candidates.

Among the class E, Messrs. Aquino and Villanueva gained a point each to 33% and 3%, respectively. Mr. Gordon gained two points (3%), Mr. Villar lost three points (31%), Mr. Estrada was steady (21%), while Messrs. Teodoro and Perlas lost a point each (4% and 0.1%, respectively).

Sought for comment, Mr. Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a telephone interview: “This is good news for us. We mapped out a strategy to improve our ratings in areas where we are weak, and it looks like the people are responding well. We will continue to work to increase our lead."

Nacionalista Party senatorial bet Gilbert C. Remulla, who also speaks on behalf of Mr. Villar, said: “The latest ratings of the SWS are a challenge for us to work much harder in the remaining 40 days of the elections. This Holy Week is a time for us to recalibrate our strategies.

“Coming from over a 40-point deficit in September, the NP believes that we still have the right momentum going for us. As campaigns go, there are ups and downs but in the end we are confident that we will be able to emerge victorious. We are currently working on solidifying our national machinery."

Margaux M. Salcedo, Mr. Estrada’s spokesperson, attributed the improvement in the scores of the former president to recent visits to various provinces and towns.

“We are pleased with the results. Although we would have wanted a bigger jump because we are aiming for continuous [increase], we believe the increase was due to the rounds that he has made recently. We have been working really hard to reach out to the masses," she said in a telephone interview.

Mike Toledo, Mr. Teodoro’s spokesman, said the administration candidate remained confident even if his ratings were not moving, insisting that the ruling party does not rely solely on surveys.

“We look at surveys but we don’t rely on them. They don’t reflect the outcome of elections and history is replete with such cases. We have been seeing massive outpouring of support but that is not reflected in the surveys. We will continue doing what we do," he said in a separate telephone interview. — BusinessWorld

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‘Arroyo to use party-list seats to win as House Speaker’

03/27/2010 | 10:44 PM

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President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will use not just representatives from congressional districts, but also party-list seats to secure the House speakership in the next Congress, a militant group and a poll watchdog said on Saturday.

Militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and election watchdog Kontra Daya said in a joint statement on Saturday that nine of the 185 party-list groups who were able to submit their nominees’ names before the deadline on Friday night are connected to Arroyo.

According to the two groups, these Arroyo-linked party-list groups include Ang Galing Pinoy, which named the President’s eldest son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo as its first nominee.

Senatorial candidates Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo had earlier sought the disqualification of Rep. Arroyo as nominee of the party-list group which claims to represent security guards, saying there is no way the presidential son shared the group’s advocacies. (See: Mikey disqualification as party-list bet sought)

Three other party-list groups submitted names of past and present Cabinet officials under the Arroyo administration as their nominees, Bayan and Kontra Daya said.

Transport party-list group 1-UTAK named former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes as its first nominee. Reyes formally resigned on Friday to focus on his nomination. (See: Energy chief Angelo Reyes quits post — Palace)

The party-list group PACYAW, which claims to advocate sports development in the country, has former Tourism assistant secretary Janet Lazatin as its first nominee.

Party-list KABAYAN, meanwhile, has former Executive undersecretary Ron Salo as its first nominee, the two groups said.

Bayan and Kontra Daya likewise said that the party-list groups APO, Abono, Aangat Tayo, Ang Kasangga and ALE also had names of pro-Arroyo local officials and businessmen in their lists of nominees.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said that these party-lists groups would further expand Mrs. Arroyo’s chances of becoming the next House Speaker. The President is running for a congressional seat in the second district of her home province, Pampanga.

“The party-list system is another flank by which Arroyo would try to gain control of the House," Reyes said.

“From the initial list of nominees, we can certainly say that the party-list system is being routinely abused by politicians, big business interests, high-ranking military officials and Arroyo allies," he added.

Reyes also blamed the Comelec for “allowing the party-list system to be taken advantage of over the years."

Administration critics have long claimed that Mrs. Arroyo’s congressional bid was her ploy to perpetuate herself in power after her term ends on June 30, 2010. Her political opponents allege that her allies in Congress would push for a shift to parliamentary form of government, which would enable her – provided that she wins as congresswoman – to run for prime minister.—JV, GMANews.TV

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Villar-Arroyo alliance seen in Chavit’s defection from Lakas

03/28/2010 | 05:35 PM

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When Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao received a hero’s welcome upon his arrival last week, former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit" Singson - a known ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was seen in the crowd wearing orange.

Orange is the campaign color of presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., who was also spotted in Pacquiao’s entourage. Pacquiao, who also used to be allied with the administration, is now under Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP).

Last Saturday, Singson confirmed that he was backing Villar instead of administration standard-bearer Gilberto “Gibo" Teodoro Jr. (Lakas-Kampi-CMD). An ABS-CBN report quoted Singson as saying that he chose to support Villar because most Ilocos Sur leaders want him president.

On Sunday, Liberal Party (LP) campaign manager Florencio Abad said Singson’s abandonment of Teodoro only lent credence to allegations that Villar and President Arroyo have forged an alliance.

“The addition of Chavit Singson into the broadening ranks of Lakas-Kampi stalwarts supporting Villar is slowly but surely completing the Villarroyo [Villar-Arroyo] puzzle," Abad said in a text message to GMANews.TV.

LP is fielding Villar’s closest rival to the presidency, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III, as its standard-bearer.

Singson, who was instrumental in the downfall of the Estrada government in 2001, denied this. He said he had already cut ties with the party when he resigned as chairman of its Ilocos Sur chapter.

Better now than later

“Panira lang nila [LP] iyon. Ako, nag-resign na ako sa Lakas. Mas mabuti nang umalis ngayon habang maaga, kaysa pagkatapos pa ng eleksyon," Singson told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

(The LP is just trying to malign us. I already resigned from Lakas, and it’s better to leave now than wait after the elections.)

Singson’s exposé against his friend, former President Joseph Estrada, sparked an impeachment complaint against the former leader, which eventually led to his ouster. A massive anti-corruption uprising installed then Vice President Arroyo to power.

In 2007, Singson ran for senator under the administration’s Team Unity ticket, but was unsuccessful. In September 2008, President Arroyo appointed him deputy national security adviser.

Singson also said he and Teodoro were not close. “I do not like him very much. We did not talk when he was still in the [Department of National Defense]," he said. Teodoro was a former DND secretary.

Normal occurrence

Last month, Singson hinted that he and other Ilocos Sur leaders were unsure of supporting Teodoro. The former governor said he and Teodoro may be party-mates, but it does not automatically translate to votes for the latter.

Malacañang, for its part, downplayed Chavit’s shift in allegiance, saying it is still confident that Teodoro would win in the May 10 polls. It also denied forging an alliance with Villar.

In an interview on government-owned Radyo ng Bayan (dzRB), deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said it was normal in Philippine elections for politicians to cross party-lines.

“It happens to everybody. People are coming and going… It’s like that in Philippine politics, especially during campaign season," he said.

Arroyo allies go for Villar

Singson, who is seeking to reclaim his previous post as Ilocos Sur governor, is the latest Arroyo ally to throw support for Villar. The others were Bukidnon Governor Jose Zubiri and former Cebu City Mayor Alvin Garcia.

Garcia belongs to Kusug, Cebu’s local opposition party. His relatives, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and father, Deputy House Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia Sr., belong to One Cebu, the ruling party in the province that is backing Teodoro.

Abad said the unfolding scenario is a bi-polar presidential race “with Villar as the administration bet and Aquino carrying the opposition banner.

“This can only benefit a confused electorate as their choices are now more and more clearly limited to Aquino representing change and to Villar symbolizing the status quo," Abad said. - with Johanna Camille Sisante/KBK, GMANews.TV

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Gloria, a force to reckon with in House

By Gerry Baldo

Original Story:

Win or lose, outgoing President Arroyo will still be a force to reckon with.

Even if Arroyo loses the Speakership fight when the 15th Congress opens, she will still be a power to contend with.

If Mrs. Arroyo succeeds in winning a House seat in the Second District of her home province Pampanga, she could be a strong force, enough to oust a sitting president, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino vice presidential candidate Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay added that whether or not a “Rep. Gloria Arroyo” gets the House speakership, she and a few loyal followers of around 90 lawmakers could prove to be a potent group that could threaten the next president with an impeachment case.

“If Arroyo captures just one-third of the House of Representatives, then she will hurdle the constitutional threshold of impeaching the Malacañang’s occupant,” he warned.

“Whether she is Speaker of the House or minority leader with 90 congressmen behind her, she is in a position to undermine the next president.” Binay added.

Binay posited that Mrs. Arroyo would still have the edge in both instances when she gains the speakership or loses the fight to become the minority leader with only 90 allies behind her.

She can leverage this group into a potent impeachment bloc that can “boot out or blackmail” the next president, Binay stressed.

“It will be a win-win situation for her. If she gets 136 members of the 270-person House, then she ascends to the Speaker’s throne. If she loses and becomes the minority leader with 90 diehards, then she can still impeach her successor,” Binay said .

That impeachment will be “automatic,” Binay said,

“The 1987 Constitution says if you can get one-third of the House to sign the impeachment complaint, the articles of impeachment go straight to the Senate for trial That’s the impeachment arithmetic,” he added.

In drawing up the impeachment complaint, “Minority Leader Gloria Arroyo” need not apply stringent standards in stringing together allegations against the sitting president , Binay said.

“This is because the business of impeachment is not a judicial proceeding but a political act. Proof does not count, but numbers do,” Binay said.

“If one-third of the House members say ‘we do not like the President’, and indict him on the flimsiest of charges, the House will have no option but to rubberstamp its consent and express deliver the impeachment papers to the Senate where a trial would then take place,” he said.

While Arroyo is gunning for the top House post, “her fallback position presents her with many tantalizing prospects .Even as a minority leader, she can make it her career to oust the president,” he said.

“With just 90 members, she can already dangle the ‘impeachment Sword of Damocles’ over the head of the president. If she succeeds in sewing up votes enough to elect her House Speaker, she can do a lot of mischief,” adding that it is becoming clear that Arroyo will use the House of Representatives as a “command post from where she will direct the siege of the presidency.

“Arroyo is clearly buying a very costly political insurance. Because she knows she will at least be investigated for abuses she committed in her 10 years in power, she is building up her retaliatory capability. She is basically forming a Batasan-based coalition that will obstruct justice,” Binay said.

But Arroyo will not meet the newly- elected president with “guns blazing,” Binay predicts. “She will first attempt to strike a deal with him. She would probably tell him, “If you want peace, leave me alone. If you run after me, I will go after your scalp.”

That deal might be accepted by other presidentiables “with backbones as hard as a leche flan,” Binay said. “But trust me, an Estrada-Binay administration will reject it. We fight. She cannot blackmail us.”

House sources said that this early a close ally of Arroyo has been doing the rounds among lawmakers to solicit their support in the Speakership race.

The same source, however, said that Mrs. Arroyo’s bid for the speakership would largely depend on who wins the presidency in May.

“An antagonistic president can ruin her plans,”the same source said yesterday.

The source explained that lawmakers

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