Tag: President Benigno Aquino III

Bring Sabah issue to the International Court of Justice now

The Manila Times, March 3, 2013

AS this column last Friday expressed apprehension over it, President Aquino and his officials were throwing to the Malaysian wolves Filipino Muslims digging in what they claimed was their legitimate homeland in Sabah.

Government’s do-what-you-want-to-do-with-them message to Malaysian authorities was made through such irresponsible statements from Mr. Aquino and his officials that the Sultan of Sulu’s claim was dormant, and that they would be even charged for violating our Constitution for the crime of inciting to rebellion.

And indeed, after the Malaysians’ assault that resulted in 12 of the Sulu Sultan’s men and two Malaysian soldiers killed, that country’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in effect said that our government implicitly cleared their move. “The Philippine Government had already said that it wanted those involved to return to the Philippines,” the Malaysian new website thestar.com quoted the home minister as saying.

Especially with blood now on his hands, Mr. Aquino must comply with his oath of office—that he will defend the Constitution and implement the laws of the land—by pursuing our territorial claim over Sabah. The Philippine claim on Sabah is only dormant— as a presidential spokesperson claims it is—if one believes that certain laws, Republic Acts, can be treated as “dormant.”Continue reading

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Why EDSA changed little of the country (Second of Two parts)

As published in the Manila Times, February 27, 2013

As I explained in this column Monday, the EDSA Revolution was hardly a rocket booster for our economic growth. Using one important economic indicator, gross domestic product per capita, which roughly represents a nation’s prosperity, ours in 1972 was larger than China, Thailand or Indonesia. By 2011, these countries had overtaken us by this economic indicator.

Why?

One obvious answer is that the 1987 Constitution, which People Power President Corazon Aquino ordered rushed to replace that Marcos created in 1973, had two provisions which have been dead-weights to our country’’ growth. The first continued a crucial economic policy since our independence, purportedly to protect our national bourgeoisie, who however were actually monopolists: Restrictions on foreign ownership on certain industries and on land. Certain revisions such as a 25-year lease, renewable for another 25, full foreign ownership of condominium units, and liberal interpretation of common and preferred shares just have not made our country attractive to foreign investments. The spectacular growth of Malaysia and Thailand in the 1980s, and Indonesia’s surge in the 1990s have proven without any doubt the crucial role of foreign capital in a developing country’s growth.

Even nearly xenophobic China with its decades of “anti-imperialist” slogans has been the one of the biggest recipients of foreign capital in recent years, which partly explains its spectacular growth rates. The chart above clearly shows how our foreign investments into our neighbors have surged since 1987, while our level of foreign capital inflow have hardly changed. In 2012, Cambodia and Myanmar in fact have had more foreign capital inflows than ours.

The second provision in the Cory constitution restored the pre-martial law political system, which has been and will be the biggest baggage for our country: the presidential system, which Aquino and her allies most probably opted for as a reaction to Marcos’ move towards a parliamentary system (remember the Batasang Pambansa?).

We are one of the few countries, which maintain a system in which the people directly choose the President, who is both head of state and government. Our system hasn’t been “debugged” in the way that of the US has been, with such refinements and checks as the system of electoral colleges, primaries a strong party system, and one-on-debates among presidential contenders.Continue reading

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‘MILF: Noy gave us hope’

That was this paper’s headline in August quoting Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Murad Ebrahim, who was ecstatic then that the President of the Republic went on a secret trip to Tokyo just to meet him and his comrades.  Two months later now, President Aquino has indeed given the MILF hope in ways beyond Murad’s wildest dreams.

He ordered the military to stand down, after the MILF massacred nineteen Army Special Forces soldiers in Basilan 18 October.  And even as he tied the military’s hands while the rebels made their get-away, Mr. Aquino called for a command conference only two days later.  The generals couldn’t believe what they were hearing in that meeting: instead of asking them to come up with a plan to retaliate against the massacre, he blamed the commanders, and ordered relieved Col. Alexander Macario as head of Special Operations Task Force Basilan and Lt. Col. Leo Peña as commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, the mother unit of the ambushed platoon.   Mr. Aquino fired even the Army spokesman Col. Antonio Parlade whose fault was to articulate soldiers’ anger over the murder of their comrades.

With his statements deflecting blame away from the MILF, the President sadly has assumed the role of PR man, spinmeister for the MILF.

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Republic downgraded in Aquino-MILF meet

“MILF: NOY gave us hope,” this paper’s banner headline said recently, referring to President Aquino’s August 5 meeting in a Narita airport travelers’ hotel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Mr. Aquino indeed gave the insurgents a lot of hope—to make the MILF the core of a sovereign state. The meeting in effect put the MILF on the same category as the Philippine Republic—sovereign entities. Read the MILF’s statement on the meeting (which was strangely under-reported in mainstream newspapers) and it’s the conclusion you will arrive at. (I have posted it at www.trigger.ph).

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Aquino Sona claims a life

It was the rush by President Aquino’s officials to include in his State of the Nation Address last July 25 what they thought would be a spectacular “exposé” of an alleged Marcos-style “behest loan” during the past administration that led to the suicide of 43-year-old Development Bank of the Philippines lawyer Benjamin Pinpin.

A despondent Pinpin took his life on Aug. 2, and in the suicide notes he left to his wife and mother, he regretted the false statements he made in an affidavit he signed on July 27, reportedly after weeks of pressure by the DBP board. The affidavit was to be among the evidence the DBP board would submit in its graft case to be filed at the Office of the Ombudsman alleging that 25 DBP officials connived to extend an anomalous loan to tycoon Roberto Ongpin, described in the suit as a “Marcos crony.”

The DBP board had to resort to intimidating Pinpin and other DPB officials to provide evidence for the graft case because of the tight schedule for its planned inclusion in Mr. Aquino’s Sona.

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Aquino breaks up his Cabinet

In the 45 weeks since he assumed office, President Benigno Aquino III has convened a total of four meetings of the Cabinet, a crucial body which in most republican democracies serve as the head of the government’s executive committee and council of advisers.

Mr. Aquino seems so convinced that the Cabinet is a useless body or one that is so unwieldy for him that he has effectively broken it up into five parts, and may even be on the way to dissolving it in effect, through Executive Order No. 43 which he issued on May 13. It is a totally unprecedented, and radical restructuring of the Philippine presidency.

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