Lacierda may yet get his dream of becoming foreign secretary

The resignation of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, four months before the end of the Aquino administration, may yet pave the way for Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda to realize his dream of becoming foreign secretary.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda

Not many know Lacierda’s desire to be head of the much-coveted cabinet position. It was Mar Roxas, the presidential candidate of President Aquino and the Liberal party, who told an ambassador that Lacierda would be his foreign secretary.

Roxas, the envoy recalled, presented Lacierda to him: “Here’s your future boss.”

The envoy was taken aback, he replied, “I won’t be with the DFA anymore by that time.”

Funny. The envoy’s reply sounded like “I’m thankful I won’t be there when that disaster happens in the DFA.”

The envoy was thinking that it would happen after 2016 and assuming that Roxas would succeed Aquino.But that possibility doesn’t seem very likely because in the many surveys conducted of the presidential race for the May 2016 elections, Roxas has never topped one.
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February 10, 2016 6:00 am  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  2 Comments

Water source crucial in determining status of Itu Aba (2)

Personnel measure the girth of trees on Taiping Island. Photo from Taiwan's Foreign ministry.

Personnel measure the girth of trees on Taiping Island. Photo from Taiwan’s Foreign ministry.

(Conclusion)

The issue of whether Itu Aba (also known by its Chinese name “Taiping” and Philippine name “Ligaw”) is an island or a rock has become a battle of experts.

In the hearing at The Hague last Nov 30 on the Philippine suit against China’s nine-dash-line and constructions in submerged maritime features in the Spratlys, the American lawyer of the Philippines, Paul Reichler, presented a 1994 study which was the result of a botanical expedition funded by the Republic of China (Taiwan)’s Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan.

Reichler quoted from the study which stated: “The underground water is salty and unusable for drinking.”
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February 8, 2016 8:37 am   Posted in: Foreign Affairs, South China Sea  One Comment

Water source crucial in determining status of Itu Aba (1)

Itu Aba. Photo by AMTI.CSIS.org

Itu Aba. Photo by AMTI.CSIS.org


Is the water coming from the grounds of Itu Aba (Chinese name: Taiping; Philippine name: Ligaw) suitable for drinking?
The answer to this question is crucial in determining whether Itu Aba is an island or a rock.

The determination of Itu Aba’s feature- whether a rock or an island- is important in establishing the extent of the Philippine’s territory and coverage of its sovereignty.

Itu Aba, occupied by Taiwan, is the biggest feature in the Spratlys in South China Sea which is being claimed wholly by China and Taiwan and partly by Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS defines an island as “a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.”
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February 6, 2016 5:56 am  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs, South China Sea  No Comments

The Junjun Binay libel case vs Trillanes

Former Makati Mayor Junjun Binay: "Allegations besmirched my good name."

Former Makati Mayor Junjun Binay: “Allegations besmirched my good name.”

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. He said he will continue exposing the truth about the Binays.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. He said he will continue exposing the truth about the Binays.

Telling the truth does not make one immune from libel suits.

Last Monday, Judge Dina Pestano Teves of the Makati Regional Trial Court 142, released the warrant of arrest for Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV after finding probable cause in the suit filed by former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.

Trillanes, who is running for vice president as an independent candidate in the coming May election, is in Washington D.C. for the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event hosted by members of the United States Congress and organized by a Christian Fellowship Foundation attended by some 3,500 guests from all over the world. The U.S. president usually attends the event held every first Thursday of February.

But the senator sent his reaction to the news about the warrant of arrest for him. “If the Binay family believes that I can be intimidated and threatened from exposing them, they are badly mistaken. I will do everything I can to make sure that plunderers will not rule this country again”, he said.
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February 3, 2016 7:04 am  Tags: ,   Posted in: Elections 2016, Graft and corruption  6 Comments

Ball is now with the people after Senate ends Binay probe

Senators Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Cayetano at the final hearing, Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee on Makati anomalies. Photo from DZRH.

Senators Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Cayetano at the final hearing, Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee on Makati anomalies. Photo from DZRH.

Now that the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee has wrapped up its hearings on the alleged anomalies in Makati under the watch of the Binays, the ball is now with the Ombudsman and the Filipino people.

In his opening statement at the beginning of the 25th and last hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee Tuesday, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as chair, assured the public that “the legislative ideas based on the evidence we have gathered as well as our findings on the two resolutions shall be forthcoming. Just to remind everyone, the subcommittee’s proceedings were undertaken in aid of legislation.”

This is to debunk criticisms of the year-long investigation as primarily a vehicle to destroy Vice President Jojo Binay, who is a presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.
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January 28, 2016 11:00 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Graft and corruption  9 Comments

The Marine who said ‘No’

This article was first published on January 18, 2009. We are re-posting this as Lt. Col Ferdinand Marcelino is again in the news after he was arrested in a drug bust operation last Jan. 21. Marcelino says his presence in the shabu den was a legal operation. His lawyer said it was a “frameup”


By Ellen Tordesillas, VERA Files

THE soldier who stirred a hornet’s nest by accusing Department of Justice officials of bribery in the so-called “Alabang Boys” case could have been a millionaire by now.

Marine Maj. Ferdinand Marcelino, chief of the Special Enforcement Service of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, has experienced being bribed by smugglers, politicians and drug dealers in his 14-year career as a military officer.

But Marcelino, who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1994, said he has made it a point to give back the thick envelopes stuffed with cash, and was not even curious enough to count the money and see how much he is worth.
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January 26, 2016 10:50 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Illegal Drugs  31 Comments

What happens if winner in May elections is disqualified?

Of the eight presidential candidates that the Commission on Elections approved to be listed in the ballots for the May 9, 2016 elections, two are facing disqualification cases: Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte.

Grace Poe and Escudero oblige a selfie with student in Cebu.

Grace Poe and Escudero oblige a selfie with student in Cebu.

The eight names that Comelec said would be in the ballots are: Jojo Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA); Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (PRP); Rody Duterte of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban); Mel Mendoza of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP); Grace Poe, independent;Mar Roxas of Daang Matuwid Liberal Party (LP); Roy Señeres of Partido ng Mangagawa at Magsasaka Workers (WPPPMM); and Dante Valencia,independent.

Printing of the ballots will start on Feb. 1 although Senate President Franklin Drilon, an LP stalwart, is asking the poll body to delay it and wait for the resolution of the disqualification cases being heard by the Supreme Court.
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January 24, 2016 11:12 pm  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: 2016 elections  17 Comments

Doble ‘gudtime’

Neri Colmenares, main author of bill increasing pension of SSS retirees by P2,000 a month, says SSS has  P325 billion uncollected revenues. From Philippine Star.

Neri Colmenares, main author of bill increasing pension of SSS retirees by P2,000 a month, says SSS has P325 billion uncollected revenues. From Philippine Star.

At the Mercury Drugstore the other day, I overheard two senior citizens discussing about the President’s veto of the P2, 000 peso a month increase for members of the Social Security System.

One was telling the other about the commentaries of DZMM’s Ted Failon which she fully agreed. “Bakit nila binigyan ang sarili nila ng bonus na P1 milyon tig-isa kapag Pasko kung wala pa lang pera para sa mga miembro?”

The lady said bonuses are given as reward for good performance but the she cited the report of the Commission on Audit that the SSS owns many assets that are idle that have resulted in losses amounting to over a hundred million pesos yearly.
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January 22, 2016 12:40 pm  Tags:   Posted in: General, Governance  35 Comments

PH should re-assess relations with Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini address a news conference at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, January 16, 2016. © Leonhard Foeger / Reuters. Photo https://www.rt.com.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini address a news conference at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, January 16, 2016. © Leonhard Foeger / Reuters. Photo https://www.rt.com.


After more than two- and- half decades of suffering and enduring United States-led sanctions, Iran, one of the world’s top oil producers, is poised to rejuvenate its economy now that they can access an estimated 100 billion dollars of assets frozen since 1979 when students stormed and occupied the American Embassy in Teheran and held hostage American diplomats for 444 days following the fall of the U.S. supported Shah of Iran.

In a visit to Iran in 1989 to attend a conference on the Persian Gulf, I attended a press event where an American delegate asked an Iranian official if he could go inside the former U.S. Embassy compound which was already occupied by the Revolutionary Guards.
The Iranian official offered a deal: “We will let you visit the former U.S. Embassy compound if your government allowed us to have access to our assets in the United States.”
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January 22, 2016 10:17 am  Tags: ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  2 Comments

Binay biggest gainer in ‘destroy Grace Poe’ crusade

Binay's office released this photo to prove that he was not booed in the Sinulog celebration in Cebu

Binay’s office released this photo to prove that he was not booed in the Sinulog celebration in Cebu

The “Eliminate Grace Poe” from the presidential race crusade has benefitted Vice President Jejomar Binay who has regained the lead in the latest survey of candidates for president in the 2016 elections by the Social Weather Stations.

Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas, whose allies in the Commission on Election delivered the strongest blow against Poe, has gained from it a little because he is now in a statistical tie with Poe and another candidate, Rodrigo Duterte. But it doesn’t bring him closer to the presidency because Binay is pulling away.

By helping destroy Poe, Roxas is delivering the presidency to Binay.
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January 18, 2016 12:21 am  Tags: ,   Posted in: 2016 elections, surveys  4 Comments