Joint custody

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

It’s clear the United States is doing its part in not marring its relationship with the Philippines over the murder case involving US Marine Joseph Pemberton, with some groups calling for the repeal of the Visiting Forces Agreement. A major issue with the VFA has to do with the question of custody over US military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, but that seems to have already been addressed with the transfer of Pemberton to the Mutual Defense Board security facility at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, guarded by two US Marines and four Filipino soldiers – which technically puts him under the “joint custody” of both countries.

Joint custody was something that was discussed during the talk show “Opposing Views” hosted by lawyer Rod Nepomuceno at 9TV where we appeared along with UP Political Science Professor Amado Mendoza last Friday. Knowing the condition of our jails, and the possibility that Pemberton could be subjected to hostile treatment from other inmates, one can’t really blame the United States for wanting to make sure that its accused military personnel are detained in a safe and secure facility acceptable to US standards. Pemberton will be staying in an air-conditioned container van supplied by the US Embassy similar to where Daniel Smith stayed within the Embassy premises.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg has been in constant touch with the US military command and the State Department, and is grateful for the remarks of President Aquino that one man should not affect the VFA and cause its abrogation. This was the same sentiment of Speaker Sonny Belmonte who said we should consider the bigger picture with regard to the country’s defense posture and relative to the power structure in the Asia Pacific region.

While Senate Foreign Relations committee head Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is calling for the junking of the VFA, majority of senators are for the review of the agreement and contentious provisions such as the custody issue, and we’re certain the US is prepared to do so, but after the case of Joseph Pemberton is finished.

Intense politics

It’s still more than a year before the May 2016 elections but political positioning is kicking into high gear judging from the intense accusations being traded by opposing camps. Sources told us the group of Vice President Jejomar Binay is preparing to mount a “counter attack” against the senators who have been relentless in their assault again the Veep.

According to our source, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is concentrating on the Liberal Party, in particular DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Frank Drilon whom they believe to be the brains behind the alleged demolition job against the vice president. The Binay camp will expose the ineptitude of Roxas and other people identified with him such as Liberal Party stalwart and Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya (who is doing a bungling job with the MRT) as well as PNP Director General Alan Purisima who is also hounded by corruption allegations.

Given the intensity of politics in this country, the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic must be prepared for the upcoming political exercise in 2016 because losers will definitely cry cheating again. At the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearing on automated elections, Comelec asserted that while the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) is not perfect, it is reliable as shown by the results of the 2010 and 2013 elections that have been accepted by Filipinos and the international community as credible.

Despite the efforts of some vested interest groups to demonize the PCOS and push for semi-automated elections that make use of manual canvassing at the precinct level, top technology experts sitting as the independent Comelec Advisory Council backed the reuse of the 80,000 PCOS machines from Smartmatic for 2016. We don’t really understand why some people keep beating a dead horse when no less than the Supreme Court has already ruled with finality the legality of the Automated Election System (AES) in a September 2009 decision, concluding that the possibility of hacking with the AES is “very slim. The PCOS machines are only online when they transmit the results, which would only take around one to two minutes. In order to hack the system during this tiny span of vulnerability, a super computer would be required.”

Allegations by losing parties that the PCOS machines did not count some votes turned out to be unfounded since the physical ballots showed marks that were not on the digital images taken during election day – meaning somebody must have tampered with the physical ballot. The JCOC, led by Sen. Koko Pimentel, encouraged Comelec to continue conducting random audits in key areas to ensure that the machines continue to correctly reflect the votes – valid votes, that is. It’s a simple and practical solution that can be done to check the machines’ accuracy. 

‘Kidnap me’

We were informed some women’s rights groups are banding together to look into the case of Josie Tallado, wife of Camarines Norte Gov. Egay Tallado, and whether she is a victim of domestic abuse.  The governor’s wife was earlier reported as missing but she turned up yesterday saying she fled because she feared for her life. According to Mrs. Tallado, she was virtually put under “house arrest” with her gadgets and cell phones confiscated because her husband accused her of uploading a sex video of the governor and his alleged mistress.

Tallado says she decided to escape after seeing her husband with a gun, and that she believes he is just looking for an excuse to get rid of her without getting implicated. It’s not also true that she is planning to run in the 2016 elections or that she planned this “kidnap me” scenario as a gimmick to bolster her chances, she said.

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com.


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