Monday, February 27, 2012

We urge ceasefire between warring camps to prevent loss of more lives

We urge the National Democratic Front, and its armed wing the New People’s Army, and the Philippine military to immediately declare a ceasefire.

Wala nang saysay ang kaguluhan na ito lalo pa’t nadadamay ang mga inosente at walang kinalaman sa giyerang ito.Ilan pa ba ang kailangang mabuwis na buhay bago pa tayo mamulat sa katotohanan na walang magandang naidudulot ang hidwaan na ito? Tapusin na natin ito, para sa kapakanan ng ating mga anak.

I am sure I speak for everyone when I say we all long for lasting peace in the country. Whichever side you are on, we all long for the day when guns are finally silenced and we no longer need to bear arms. Four decades of fighting is too long. Let us not allow our children to be further victimized by the atrocities of war. We refuse to accept war and escalating violence as a fact of life. It should not be. What we need is lasting peace so we can create stability and progress for our citizens wherever they may be. We call on all armed groups to end these hostilities and instead build on making our communities safe and viable for livelihood opportunities. That will be our key to achieving peace.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Judicial privilege cannot be invoked in cases involving allegations of wrongdoing

The Supreme Court’s move to block the testimony of Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno from the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on account of “judicial privilege” has gone too far.The SC is trying to limit the powers of the impeachment court, the sole body mandated to try impeachment cases against government officials.

We cannot allow the Supreme Court to dictate, by way of restraining orders and court rulings, how we are to try and decide this case. The trouble here is that our respect for the TRO has emboldened the Supreme Court to further limit and cut down our powers and prerogatives as a court.”

Unless we do something about this now, pretty soon our sole power to try and decide impeachment cases will become a joint undertaking with the Supreme Court, but with the impeachment court as a junior partner.

Only when the impeachment court asserts its authority will the Supreme Court back off from its acts of obstruction in matters over which they have no jurisdiction.

Judicial privilege exists, yes, but it cannot be invoked to cover-up for wrongdoing—nor can it be invoked to undermine or defeat the Constitutional mandate of the Senate having the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases.

Moreover, it is most unfortunate that the Supreme Court has taken this path of non-disclosure and strict confidentiality when transparency and accountability are hallmarks of the 1987 Constitution. For any witness in the judiciary to secure the consent of the Supreme Court before they can testify before the impeachment court undermines our powers and prerogatives as the only constitutional check to excesses in the Supreme Court.

How can they explain this anomalous situation wherein we need to secure the consent of the court for witnesses to appear before us in a trial where in the Chief Justice himself is being tried? What makes things worse is that four or five of the sitting justices have publicly shown support for the Chief Justice in a series of rallies. How can these justices decide with impartiality?

This is now a case of the tail wagging the dog. The only check on the Supreme Court, the impeachment court, is now being checked by the same Supreme Court. First, they TRO’d our subpoena, now they have limited our powers to summon witnesses. What’s next? Voiding the trial altogether? They have exceeded the limits of their judicial authority.

The impeachment court must take the necessary steps to prevent these unwarranted incursions on the impeachment proceedings.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Philippines should look into investments in 'black gold'

The country could be missing out on a great opportunity if it fails to pay attention its well-regarded coffee beans.

There is a resurgence in the popularity of coffee shops, and it is unthinkable that we are not making the most out of this opportunity by marketing the Philippines' coffee beans.

I enjoin our countrymen to support our proudly Pinoy-made coffee beans. We encourage businesses to advocate the same. Our beans are renowned for their unique taste. We must be able to capitalize on this fact to boost our local coffee industry and empower our local farmers and all those whose lives are dependent on this valuable commodity.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Give up arms for farms

We call on the government anew to focus on strengthening agriculture and food production in Mindanao in paving the way towards lasting peace.

One of the main causes of insurgency is high incidence of poverty. the government must map out a plan that would, in time and with the cooperation of all stakeholders, develop Mindanao as the nation's true 'food basket'.

We call on both the GPH and the MILF to seriously explore the possibilities of prosperity should the decades-old conflict finally ends. There is much work that needs to be done, but we first need to end this decades-old war. This war has already cost us over P100 billion pesos in the past four decades. Should the war end, we can allocate the much-needed resources for the basic services , infrastructure and the necessary investments in the countryside and agricultural development.

We firmly believe that the country's far too neglected agricultural sector is the key to the country's economic and social ills.

We have neglected agriculture for decades, which is why our neighbors like Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand are zooming past us while we are limping like a crippled old man. If we had, instead, focused on developing agriculture in our “food basket” of Mindanao think of where we might be today.

History has taught us that a military solution in Mindanao has failed time and time again. We must look at the Ramos administration’s aggressive peace initiatives in the 90s that helped create the window of opportunity that laid down the foundation for economic progress in cities like GenSan (General Santos), Cagayan de Oro, and Davao. In the Mindanao experience, war has brought only misery while aggressive peace initiatives have brought real, tangible progress and development in these areas.

General Santos, for example, has risen from being a war-torn area to the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” with exports in 2010 valued at $359.4 million (approximately P15.5 billion).

The root cause of insurgency is poverty. What our people in the rural areas need are sustainable agricultural programs that can help feed our people and give our farmers and fisherfolk dignity in their professions. Then maybe they will no longer be encouraged to take up arms.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

(February 13, 2012) Impeachment Trial: My Ecumenical Prayer

Almighty father, our ultimate law giver and the source of all power and authority, this impeachment court comes before you and our people today to fulfill our duty to render justice in these proceedings.

Gabayan niyo po kami o Diyos na makapangyarihan. Bigyan ninyo po kami ng sapat na dunong, lakas at tapang na tiyakin na sa paglilitis na ito mangingibabaw ang hustisya at katarungan para sa lahat.

We seek your infinite wisdom, your strength and your courage to pursue accountability and justice for all. We pray that your guiding hand leads us to the path of the righteous, the just and the truth.

Oh Lord as the nation wades through unfamiliar constitutional waters, we seek clarity of mind and a courageous heart to do what must be done to uphold the national interest. Where there is confusion we pray for enlightenment, where there is need for discernment we pray for wisdom, where there is overzealousness we pray for restraint. Where there is dissension we pray for unity for the good of our nation. Bigyan niyo po kami ng sapat na kakayahan na mabigyan ng linaw sa harap ng kalituhan, magkaroon ng pagkakaisa sa harap ng bangayan, mabigyan ng mapanuring pagiisip sa harap ng samut-saring mga posisyon at argumento upang masagot ang tanong kung nagkasala ba o hindi ang nasasakdal.

As public servants we pray too that as we pursue justice and accountability, we do so without neglecting the need to create jobs for our people, provide food for our hungry and to provide the atmosphere for the creation of wealth for our nation and our people.This we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SC should not interfere in the impeachment trial

The Supreme Court should not interfere in the impeachment trial because the Constitution gives the Senate the sole power to try and decide impeachment cases. It will also leave a bad taste in the mouth should they interfere because it may be perceived as an attempt of the Supreme Court to rescue the Chief Justice from being accountable to the public. The impeachment process as a constitutional mechanism to exact public accountability from the highest ranking officials of the land will be undermined by any interference from the SC.

We do not wish to ignore the Supreme Court, and to avoid this we urge the Supreme Court to respect the powers and prerogatives of the impeachment court by not stepping into the fray. Our position is that the rulings and decisions of the Senate as an impeachment court cannot be subject to judicial review. If the Senator-Judges err in the conduct of its proceedings, the correction of such error is not by way of judicial review, but by the sovereign will of the people--who can and ought to reject us at the polls if they believe that we committed errors in our judgment as Senator-Judges.

The SC’s image will be further tarnished if it prevents the Senate from doing its constitutional duty to try and decide the case against the Chief Justice. A TRO on the subpoena of dollar bank accounts may be perceived as a desperate attempt at shielding the Chief Justice from accountability and a move to suppress the truth. It will be damaging to the SC as an institution.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Include in the curriculum "disaster preparedness" subject

Nature has been exposing the country’s vulnerability against the elements, as such we urge the Department of Education to include in the curriculum classes that will educate Filipinos on disaster preparedness.

We must not sit idly by as tragedy continue to cost us millions of pesos in property damage and lives of our countrymen. Whether our people are aware of it or not, climate change is upon us and we must do what we can to prevent or at least mitigate the effects of natural disasters.

A 6.9 magnitude earthquake shook Visayas and Mindanao Monday that left 30 dead and 52 more injured. In 2011, flash floods and landslides brought about by typhoons left thousands dead and cost millions of pesos in property damage.

It’s high time we address the issue of disaster preparedness. We must not allow the gains we have made to move the country forward be hampered by natural disasters. We already know our country is prone to typhoon flooding and earthquakes. It is not enough that we are aware of the facts; more importantly we must make steps to act based on what we already know.