Malampaya explosive — COA
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2013 - 12:00am

The release of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was authorized by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a letter to then Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Rolando Andaya, signed by then Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita for the rehabilitation of victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, with a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) issued on Nov. 19, 2009. The money was withdrawn before Christmas.

It is questionable why the release was made to DAR and not to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)? It is also surprising why the release did not come from the President’s P7.5 billion Calamity Fund? And lastly, why were the funds released to non-government organizations (NGOs)?

This is a clear case where DBM and DAR officials should be charged. DBM can give the excuse that they were just following orders of the President.

Besides DAR, an estimated P23.6 billion was released to other departments not implementing energy-related projects. They must also explain how they spent the money.

An estimated P165 billion has been collected from Malampaya’s royalties. A detailed accounting is in order here.

FOI stalled in the House

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill has not passed the House committee on public information since the committee has to organize itself first.

Misamis Occidental Rep. Jorge Almonte, committee chairman, gave an excuse that he was busy attending to the Zamboanga crisis since his relatives were held hostage.

He also gave an excuse, the lack of a meeting room.

The House of Representatives failed to pass the bill in the last Congress because of Malacañang objections. It looks like it will again suffer the same fate.

In the Senate, the FOI bill has been approved by the Senate committee on public information headed by Senator Grace Poe.

House Minority leader Ronaldo Zamora said the House Minority was ready to tackle the measure.

Anti-Bullying Law signed

Together with the Department of Education, we welcome the signing of Republic Act 10627 or the “Anti-Bullying Law” of 2013.

The law defines bullying as any severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other students.

The act of bullying also involves infringing on the rights of other students at school or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly preparation of a school.

Commendable Beng

In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Beng Climaco declared with much emotion that she will rebuild Zamboanga City and it will rise as a much stronger city.

Mayor Climaco has been handling the chairmanship of the Crisis Management Committee for 12 days now, in a confident, efficient way working with Secretary Mar Roxas.

More than 110 people have been killed, almost 200 wounded, and 115,000 evacuated during the siege. More than 200 homes have been burned.

This is indeed a tragedy for Zamboanga City and its 800,880 people.

Carnapping unstopped

The Kae Davantes case once again highlights the problem of carnapping in Metro Manila.

On Tuesday, the service vehicle of Mayor Lily Estoya of Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro was carnapped in Quezon City.

Meanwhile, the violence on barangay level also continues with 2 barangay chairmen shot dead in Pidigan, Abra and Tuy, Batangas. Alfredo Madriaga, 54, barangay chairman of Barangay San Diego, Pidigan, Abra, died of multiple bullet wounds fired by motorcycle-riding gunmen.

In Batangas, Barangay Chairman Nemensio Atasan, 48, of Barangay Bolbok, Tuy, Batangas, was shot dead in an ambush as he was driving his car.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. has warned that it will be a violent barangay election.

Defense readied

Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla have confirmed that they are preparing privilege speeches to explain their side on the pork barrel scam charges filed against them.

Senator Estrada gave hints that he will deliver an expose to mention other lawmakers and other executive officials also involved in malversation of public funds.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s lawyer Enrique Dela Cruz said that Atty. Gigi Reyes, former chief of staff, was not authorized to sign for the  Senator.

No food for soldiers

One of the problems that surfaced during the Zamboanga fighting is the lack of food for soldiers. Consistent reports have come in saying that civilians in whose houses the soldiers took shelter had to feed the soldiers boiled bananas and biscuits.

Why is this so? The 3 military camps were nearby, just about 2 kilometers away. Why couldn’t their kitchens cook continuously and deliver food to soldiers in the field?

The situation is worst for soldiers who go on patrol in the mountains. Their food supply is good only for 3 days.

This is a major problem that must be solved. One sad reality, usually rice and sardines are the rations given to soldiers on patrol.

This is also a constant complaint of soldiers in the field, even charging that their battalion commander is pocketing their food allowance.

Kabalu comments

Former MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said that the government underestimated Nur Misuari and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

In a surprise statement, Kabalu suggested that Mindanao should be divided into 2 with Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Lanao under MILF and the island provinces of Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi under MNLF.

Peace panel chairperson Miriam Ferrer said they are closely watching the Zamboanga situation. She said the atmosphere in the peace panel was somber.

*    *    *

Happy Birthday to Devon Emrick Demdem, Rodella De Veyra, and Bing Carlos of San Agustin Village in Novaliches.

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