Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blue Ribbon Committee can be the truth commission

The truth has a way of coming out, especially where the anomalies of the past administration is concerned.

It looks like now that the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee may possibly play the role of the Truth Commission of the Aquino administration. The country now has a chance to dig deeper and know more about the indiscretions of the past administration should Rebusa pushes through with the statements linking former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the alleged anomalies within the military.

Retired Lt. Col. George Rebusa is a credible witness. Nilalagay niya ang pamilya niya sa alanganin. Sakit lang ng ulo ang aabutin niya dito, pero nakonsiyensiya siya kaya niya ginagawa ito.

The Senate should provide Rebusa all the security he needs to protect him as a witness. It is the least we can do given the situation he is currently in.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Let the generals face the music

Government must take the cue from Rabusa’s testimony and dig deeper. If he is indeed telling the truth, his confession gives our investigators serious leads that if pursued may unearth more evidence to buttress his claims of plunder. Bank records must be subpoenaed and bank officials ought to cooperate or face criminal liability themselves for being in complicity with those who may have committed the crime of plunder. The anti-money laundering council too must move quickly to look into these accounts and check if indeed they exist, or existed in the past. These are pieces of documentary evidence that are very difficult to disprove because authentic documents cannot lie.

Rabusa has given the government the lead; it is the government’s turn to unearth what has to be unearthed—even if it means generals past and present will now have to face the music.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Designate an anti-crime czar

We condemn this latest act of lawlessness that has led to the senseless killing and maiming of our citizens.

The lasting solution to lawlessness is strengthening the long arm of the law in a system of justice that swiftly punishes the guilty. Only when the system of justice works will we see the end of lawlessness and criminality.

The president should seriously consider designating an anti-crime czar and mobilize our citizens to help in the effort to secure information that may lead to the arrest of the masterminds behind this and other dastardly criminal acts.

The executive department should also initiate the convening of the Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council or JELACC and see how the three branches of government can set a common strategy to modernize the administration of justice in the country.

Photo Credit: MMDA

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Death penalty not the answer to brazen acts of criminality

The brazen acts of criminality highlighted by the twin carnappings with the victims even burnt by their captors give a foreboding sense of lawlessness. I agree that this requires immediate action. The government should put its foot down, so to speak. Perhaps a crime czar should be appointed—someone who is resolute and results-driven. This person must be on top of coordinating the efforts of the PNP and the DOJ.

We sympathize with the victims’ families and condone these heinous crimes, but strict enforcement of the law is what’s needed, not the death penalty.

We do not support this. It is the certainty, not the severity, of punishment that brings fear in the hearts of would-be criminals. No matter how severe the penalty imposed, if convictions are few and far between, or cases drag on for years on end without punishment, then criminality will remain rampant. It is the swiftness of punishment regardless of the penalty involved that will ensure respect for our laws and instill fear in the hearts of would-be criminals in our criminal justice system.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Proceeds of FTI sale must go to Agri sector, avoid a negotiated sale

The government’s plan to sell the Food Terminal Inc. must be above board.

Playing by the rules is the only way to go. Legal shortcuts must be avoided in order to steer clear of legal disputes and controversies such as the case of PIATCO Terminal 3, or ZTE-NBN deal. On the other hand, we have the sale of MWSS or Camp John Hay from where we can pick out good lessons in handling the sale of government assets. For as long as we play by the rules, privatization has proved to be successful. If done correctly, privatization serves the national interest. We must therefore start with public bidding and avoid a negotiated sale of FTI.

FTI would be better off getting rid of the complex which has distracted it from its job of providing farmers access to markets, choosing to focus of late on being a lessor of an industrial estate. The 120 hectare agro-industrial estate in Taguig was originally meant to be a consolidation center for agricultural products. It housed a slaughterhouse, chicken dressing plant and a multi-purpose warehouse for dry storage, food-processing facilities for grading, handling and packaging for foreign market in the 1970s.

Let’s look at the objectives of selling the property. If it is for the benefit of the agricultural sector then it should be used to strengthen the capability of FTI in its role of providing access to markets. Maybe the government has finally realized that leasing an industrial zone to locators, which is what FTI has evolved into, is not its primary objective—finding markets is or should be. Therefore, the funds should be used for the retooling of FTI to answer that role. Market access is key to upping our farmers’ income.

Proceeds of the sale must be plowed back to the agricultural sector whose budget was cut in 2011. Proceeds should be used to increase public investments in the agriculture sector such as irrigation, farm to market roads and the construction of post harvest facilities. If we are to privatize what was originally meant to revolutionize the agricultural sector of the country, then it is but fitting that this sector benefit from this planned sale.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chacha is not a magic wand that will solve our country's problems

We should not look at ChaCha as the magic wand that will solve our country's problems. We are still struggling to implement our laws as they are, what makes them think that when a new set of laws under a new constitution is put in place these new laws will then be effectively and fully implemented? Even under a new constitution it will still be political will and genuine leadership that will ensure that the laws are implemented in full. Changing our constitution doesn't guarantee anything. In the end, what we need is determined and effective leadership that will vigorously implement our laws in full without fear or favor.

I am willing to debate but I must caution the public not too look at the ChaCha as a magic wand that will solve the serious problems facing the nation. If we cannot implement our existing laws in full what makes us think that we will be able to implement the laws in full under a new constitution? Full and effective implementation of our laws by public sector leaders with the support of citizens who are equally determined and resolute in effecting real change will bring about the change we seek with or without ChaCha.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On the effects of La Niña: We haven't seen the worst

The non-stop rains could push the country into an agricultural crisis unless officials prepare for worst-case scenarios. The extensive damage to agricultural crops in Southern Leyte, specifically the 100 percent damage in St. Bernard, should serve as a lesson in disaster preparedness. Agricultural crops in Davao and Albay have also been badly hit.

My office has started coordinating with DILG secretary Jess Robredo and DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman in helping out our kababayans in Southern Leyte. We plan on surveying the extent of the damage to crops there and coordinate with the Department of Agriculture in coming up with legislative measures to offset the considerable loss of agricultural produce.

The country is only just beginning to feel the effects of the La Niña phenomenon. PAGASA officials say that the country received way below average number of storms last year and, consequently, Filipinos can expect more typhoons this year during the peak of La Niña from January to March 2011. The Department of Agriculture reported that Albay alone suffered P1.3M production loss of rice in just three days due to continuous rains from December 28-31, 2010.

The country's agricultural sector has already taken blows from the combined effects of the drought caused by El Niño and the series of typhoons that followed it last year. We experienced negative growth from January to September of 2010. We should be able to use data from PAGASA, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, and other concerned government agencies to be able to come up with measures to address the disastrous effects of La Nina to our agricultural sector. Something must be done right away, and the earlier we come up with these measures, the more we can shield our countrymen from a looming disaster and threat to our food security.

Kakaumpisa pa lamang ng taon ngunit malaki na kaagad ang naidulot na pinsala at kahirapan sa ating mga kababayan ang mga baha at walang tigil na pag-ulan. Ang kinababahala ko ay ang mas malaki pang pahirap sa kabuhayan ng ating mga magsasaka kapag nagpatuloy pa ang serye ng tag-ulan at tagtuyot. Nakita na natin ang epekto nito noong nakaraang taon sa agrikultura, kung kaya't dapat ay maghanda na tayo agad ng kaukulang pagtugon sa siguradong pinsalang idudulot ng La Nina. Maghanda lamang tayo, panigurado kahit ano pang unos ay malalagpasan natin.

Photo Credit: Landslide in Bolod Bolod, Saint Bernard Southern.Leyte by Mark Anthony Asoy Recilla, via Marisa Lerias

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My statement on Comptroller Garcia's plea bargain: What a mockery!

On February 25, 2010, on the day we were supposed to be celebrating the anniversary of People Power, another midnight deal was being hatched by the office of the Ombudsman, government prosecutors (under the Arroyo regime), and the camp of comptroller Carlos Garcia for a plea bargain that would allow the plunderer to take home half of what he stole from the public coffers.

And, as former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo has pointed out, there’s another court handling Garcia’s case that has ordered the forfeiture of P175M in assets of the former general and that this would be nullified with the precedence of the plea bargain. That is already a difference of P40M, and yet we know that Garcia took for himself at least P303M.

Garcia should not be allowed to go away scot-free and enjoy the rest of his loot. He should not be allowed to take home even a cent of what he stole. He should rot in jail and serve as an example to all would-be plunderers. That would be a good example of a bad deed getting punished instead of setting a bad example of a court not doing its mandate.

Letting Garcia escape with this is a real mockery of our system and our laws—with the robber literally laughing his way to the bank! This is a mockery of the very ideals we fought for in EDSA!

Image Source: AFP