Friday, February 19, 2010

One of Asia's freest press is the Philippine's rambunctious, noisy press

Bohol Chronicle Editorial: To be able to live and breathe democracy, after 14 years of Martial Law, is a luxury many have often taken for granted. But we should not.

A Congress to make laws and democratically-elected LGUs to govern communities, by and large, are there to see. One of Asia's freest press is the Philippine's rambunctious, noisy press. Largely, there is freedom of expression - let us cherish that.

Philippine elections showcase this type of democracy, though sometimes marred by guns and gold that alter the outcome of the popular will. But it can pass the test.

That is why the decision of progressive groups like those under the wings of Makabayan and Akbayan, among others, to come into the open to compete in the democratic debate of ideas through election to Congress, must be respected.

It is the COMELEC, a constitutional body, which is the only entity empowered by law to accredit candidates and their parties as qualified to run for the people's mandate - not the military nor the police. These groups should be allowed to freely campaign for the people's vote.

It would be unfair to dump all of them as communist fronts since they were precisely accredited by COMELEC since they represent a marginalized constituency that renounces violence as a method for reforms and change. That's why they run for office.

Besides, the military has been specifically mandated by law to remain non-partisan in elections but just maintain peace and order. If the Army runs after rebels asking for permit-to-campaign funds - that is their sound duty. But to discredit COMELEC approved Party List groups and other candidates as "communists" is not part of their job.

Among those parties under the Makabayan wing are: Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and ACT Teacher. Akbayan has produced some of most avid nationalist-reformists in Etta Rosales, Risa Hontiveros and Walden Bello. Communists?

They should be allowed to say their piece in the same way that Retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan of the Bantay Party List was accredited and then elected as Party List Congressman for 2007.

Palparan was given the chance to debate with the "communists" in Congress which means that is the democratic route for reform in this country. No double standard, please.

Let us be on guard because if we sleep on our sacred duties, we could lose the cherish freedoms that our heroes and the EDSA freedom warriors had fought for.

Let us cite one other example.

The raid and detention of 43 health workers doing a seminar in a resort in Morong Rizal and detained for three days - incommunicado- is a throw back to the Dark Days of Martial Law, that we should never allow to happen again.

Reports of psychological torture and sexual harassment by their captors in Camp Capinpin, Tanay have been media subject for days.

The Military defied for days the order of the Supreme Court of the land to produce the 43 victims before the Court of Appeals. Even AFP Chief Victor Ibrado and former Defense Chief and Lakas presidential candidate Gibo Teodoro were aghast at the Military's violation of a constitutional mandates by not immediately producing the victims in court.

Talk about abuse with impunity.

The Military accused some of the 43 of manufacturing bombs (during the seminar?) and as being active members of the NPA.

If that is so, why the need for interrogation and detention when the Military could just throw the book at them and jail them if indeed the Army had the goods on them?

If only some of them were suspect, why then hold the entire 43 health workers in detention -blindfolded, forced fed and mentally tortured?

Martial Law had caused us so much loss - that of our freedom and bread.

We have not regained the bread - for many are still poor - and now our precious freedom is slowly being carted away with impunity.

In Bohol, seven reformist-leaders have disappeared or died from assassins' bullets.

Today, there are talks that armed men have landed on our shores for the May 2010 elections - which can therefore become bloody.

That is the reason the Sanguniang Panlalawigan had endorsed a Motion to place the entire Bohol under COMELEC control. Fine by us, actually.

That might be the only way we can maintain the respect for democratic space on our way to national reform and progress.

Defense boss presides over turnover of rowhouses worth P6-M to former Bohol rebels

Defense boss presides over turnover of rowhouses worth P6-M to former Bohol rebels

FORMER rebels, now Kauban sa Reporma (KRs) or comrades in reform in Bohol stand to get their own houses, homelots and farmlots with the launching Thursday of the Kalayaan Resettlement Center in Brgy. Remedios, Danao, Bohol.

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Undersecretary Danilo Encinas of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process, Major Cristobal J.P. Perez of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Gov. Erico Aumentado and top military and police officials led launching rites for the 25-unit rowhouse costing P6 million.

Fifteen members of the Bohol Composite Farmers Association led by former New People's Army (NPA) strategist circa '70s and '80s Epitacio Ramirez who went by the nom de guerre "Kumander Vargas", and 10 other farmers who already live in the area will occupy the units.


The project is a product of Aumentado's signature convergence strategy. For the purpose, he leveraged P1.5 million from the provincial coffers to magnet P3 million from the Office of the President-President's Social Fund (OP-PSF) and another P1.5 million from Opapp.

The Engineer Support Battalion (ESBn) under Lt. Col. Ramon Evan Ruiz based in Brgy. Macaas in Tubigon town will build the rowhouses. The battalion is already a veteran of many school building projects of Aumentado and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as well as the Department of Education (DepEd).

The homelots and farmlots are on a sprawling 50-hectare area made available by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The Bohol Poverty Reduction Management Office (BPRMO) and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) will provide technical assistance in growing oil palm or jatropha as well as seeds or planting materials for vegetables and other high value cash crops that can be planted between rows while the main crops are still young and unproductive.

On the other hand, the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPV) has an ongoing livestock dispersal program that the new Remedios settlers can also avail of. That same day, Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, OPV head, had asked Aumentado to lead the passing-on-the gift ceremony for 11 heads of carabaos and more goats to their new owners during the civic action at the Remedios barangay hall. These are offspring of animals given to first round beneficiaries.

Remedios is only around three kilometers from Danao town proper.

SND's message

Gonzales said through all these years that he and Aumentado have joined forces to address the decades-old insurgency problem, Bohol has always pushed ahead earlier of the other provinces.

Being one of the most successful provinces in addressing insurgency, he said the Bohol experience should be replicated in the rest of the country.

He noted that in another first – Aumentado who also chairs the Bohol Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), Chief Supt. Lani-o Nerez, Central Visayas regional police director and Maj. Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, commander of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division based in Samar signed a joint resolution declaring Bohol insurgency-free.

Where the Government of the Philippines (GOP) and Communist Party of the Philippines leader Jose Ma. Sison have not been very successful, Aumentado has succeeded, Gonzales said, referring to the peace talks in Utrecht that have now stalled.

While Norway, the third party that has been giving support for the talks to continue is now apparently at a loss as to what to do next, Aumentado has found the key – talk to everyone interested and come up with a solution acceptable by all stakeholders: the Kalayaan Resettlement Center in Bohol's case.

Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera, Col. Alan Luga, commander of the 802nd Brigade, Sr. Supt. Anthony Obenza, Bohol police provincial director, Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva of the Central Command and Gonzales signed as witnesses.

With Bohol already insurgency-free and therefore "cleared", Aumentado, Tabaquero and Nerez also signed a memorandum of agreement transferring the active role in internal security operations (ISO) from the military to the police pursuant to the National Internal Security Plan (NISP) crafted by the National Security Council that President Arroyo has approved – for the "hold" phase.

The MOA also specified that the Bohol PPOC will take the lead in the "consolidation" and on to the "development" phases.

Tagbilaran Bohol Corruption

Sunday Post: The war of attrition between Mayor Lim and Vice Mayor Veloso arising from the P50 million DBP loan and the subsequent walkout of minority councilors has rubbed in to members of the city's majority bloc. 

Commenting on the walk-out, Councilor Oscar Glovasa said the city is the biggest loser in the controversial gesture of the minority members of the SP Monday.

"We have encountered another delay in the rehabilitation of our city roads because of our own making," he said of his peers.

Friday's session was marred by a walk-out by the minority members led by Vice Mayor Veloso and his allies, Councilors Edgar Kapirig, Zenaido Rama, Anne Mariq uit Oppus and Bebiano Inting.

The minority bloc claimed there was no walk-out.

Inting said they left the session after it was already adjourned.

Interviewed after the incident, Veloso said he adjourned the session after it became "unruly".

This version of the incident was denied by the majority bloc which continued the session after the walk-out.

Councilor Danilo Bantugan said Veloso could not adjourn the session since there was no motion.

"Even an ordinary councilman in the barrio knows that for the presiding officer to adjourn the proceedings, a motion is first required," he added.

Councilor Leonides Borja also disputed Veloso's claim that the session had become unruly saying the recordings of the proceedings will bear this out.

"Maybe they forgot that the session was covered live and that the people heard what actually transpired," he added.

Glovasa said that the walk-out again delayed the approval of the resolution authorizing the mayor to sign the agreement with the Development Bank of the Philippines with the city treasurer.

"It means that the people who have been clamoring for the rehabilitation of the city roads will have to wait a little longer," he added.

Glovasa, who is wrapping up his second term as councilor to run for Congress, said the walk-out is "an embarrassment" to the city because it shows what kind of councilors the city has.

Calling the walk-out gimmickry, Glovasa said it shows that the minority councilors are more concerned with stunts than with actual results.

Councilor Edgar Bompat, who presided over the session after Veloso and his group walked out, said the majority bloc is considering the possibility of censuring the minority councilors for their acts of disrespect to the council.

Bantugan said that if the minority bloc refuses to participate in the next session, they will resort to extreme measures.

"If they have no respect for us and for the city government, they should at least respect the people who pay our salaries for us to attend the sessions," he added.

Borja lamented that while they have moved the session day next week from Friday to Tuesday so that they will not miss a session day, the minority bloc instead defaulted on their responsibilities.

Glovasa denied there is any irregularity in the loan and in the implementation of the project saying the Commission on Audit is vigilant in ensuring that the public funds are well spent.

Political Trend in Bohol Province

From Bohol Sunday Post
There are widening cracks within the ruling Lakas-Kampi Party, and daily the cracks are widening and getting uglier. Unlike in previous elections, where the party stalwarts were united, .today there is an in-fighting among its ranks.

Take the case of Governor Erico Aumentado, who almost lost the position as the official candidate for Congressman of the second district for Lakas-Kampi when the certificate of nomination was awarded to Trinidad Mayor Judith Cajes. Although, this was promptly revoked, Aumentado supporters suspect that Cong. Cajes and Congressman Edgar Chatto were behind it. They cannot forgive the two party stalwarts. So it is an open secret that mayors identified with Aumentado, although official Lakas-Kampi candidates will support

Vice-Governor Julius Herrera. Chatto has to watch his back carefully for those mayoral candidates disguising as Lakas-Kampi candidates but secretly supporting Herrera.

Definitely, Chatto cannot expect Aumentado's support. After the elections, I doubt if Lakas-Kampi will still be intact as the party of domination in Bohol. But well, these are political realities.

Although Chatto has still an advantage at this start of the campaign, there are still several months to go, before the elections. Chatto has to assess carefully his strengths and weaknesses and concentrate his campaigning to areas where his opponent is strong

He must fight like a Packman if he is to win convincingly in the elections. He has to watch his back and trust nobody. Sadly enough these are games of politics.

I am supporting Chatto because he is young and has a vision for Bohol. He listens to suggestions and will surely be guided by the composite opinion of Boholanos.

One big factor is, the money politics, and ironically sometimes, this is the deciding factor. Boholanos especially the old voters still go to the candidates who can buy their votes. What is the extent of vote-buying nobody knows but Chatto should get well prepared for it at this time

At this time, it is easy to predict that the first district will be won by ex-Governor Rene Relampagos. Our good friend, Oscar Glovasa has virtually no chances to win the elections despite the loud support of Tagbilaran City Mayor Dan Lim. Outside of Tagbilaran, Glovasa has no known political bailiwick. He cannot be even sure of Tagbilaran.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has no opponent so he is as good as elected.