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Three-day President

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2016 - 10:00am

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assailed President Benigno Simeon Aquino Jr. for his inaction on the Kidapawan incident that led to the violent dispersal of the farmers.

“President Aquino should have opened the rice granaries and distributed rice to the 6,000 hungry farmers suffering from El Niño,” Enrile said.

Enrile said Aquino is a three-day President, as he takes three days before he acts on even the most pressing matters such as these incidents: the alleged laundering of $81 million stolen funds and the Kidapawan incident; and even during the Mamasapano bloody operation and the Super Typhoon Yolanda tragedy.

Vice President Binay said the protest in North Cotabato demonstrate that poverty remains a problem in the country.

Senator Marcos said Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala should explain how the agency’s budget was being spent. “Seventy percent of the country’s poor are in agriculture. You cannot blame the farmers because they are hungry. You cannot blame them for fighting for their families’ survival,” Marcos said.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) called for the release of the farmers still detained and “to bring all those responsible to justice.” IADL president Jeanne Mirer said “Mr. Aquino’s silence on the incident showed that President Aquino tacitly supported the police action.”

However, Senior Superintendent Alexander Tagum has been administratively sacked amid the Philippine National Police’s investigation.

Senator Chiz Escudero called for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe into the Kidapawan massacre to avoid suspicions of a possible whitewash.

Meanwhile, “Tabang Kidapawan,” an independent fact-finding and humanitarian mission, concluded that there was an attempt to whitewash and cover-up the bloody protest. Based on the evidences and statements of the witnesses, the crime scene was bulldozed immediately; the items the protesters left were burned by the police; a firetruck immediately sprayed the ground, clearing bloodstains from both camps after the violent police dispersal of farmers as reported by Atty. Ephraim Cortex, assistant secretary general for legal services of National Union of People’s Lawyers.

The probe team recommended the release of the calamity fund to the individual farmer beneficiaries; investigation of President Aquino and Agriculture Sec. Alcala for “their negligence and failure to put up appropriate measures to mitigate the effects of drought; investigation of North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza for “misappropriation of the Calamity Fund,” among others. They also recommended to investigate and prosecute President Aquino, National Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army Major Gen. Eduardo Año, PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez, Gov. Mendoza, and the officers of different police and military units operating in Central Mindanao who participated in the Kidapawan incident.

The Antwerp-based Progress Lawyers Network expressed shock and outrage over the violent dispersal, citing how the farmers were merely seeking government help as their livelihood suffered due to the dry spell wrought by climate change.

“The violent dispersal violated the farmers’ right to life and to be free from arbitrary detention,” the Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers declared.  Seventy individuals are illegally detained in two separate locations, according to Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Binay allies harassed

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) denounced Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, for harassing allies of UNA presidential bet Jejomar Binay.

The Ombudsman has filed graft charges against UNA reelectionist Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia, former Laguna Gov. E.R. Ejercito and UNA senatorial bet Gen. Getulio Napeñas.

The case against Rep. Garcia refers to the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in 2006, a full 10 years ago.

The case against Gov. Ejercito involved an alleged anomalous insurance contract, way back in 2008 when he was mayor of Pagsanjan, Laguna.

UNA spokesperson Ramon Ilagan questioned why Ombudsman Morales has not filed cases against Budget Sec. Florencio Abad and Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala.

UNA president, Rep. Tobias Tiangco said he did not expect the criminal case filed against Gen. Napeñas to affect negatively his chances in the Senate race. Tiangco said people have long decided on their conclusions about Mamasapano and who were at fault.

Rep. Garcia said she would not allow the political harassment initiated by his opponents to distract her from her reelection bid as congresswoman of Cebu’s 3rd District.

Bongbong now leads

Two recent surveys have reported that Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is now in first place, overtaking long-time leader Senator Francis Escudero, in the race for vice president.

Marcos is getting big support from respondents in Metro Manila and the balance of Luzon.

In San Juan City, Mayor Guia Gomez is endorsing a Roxas-Marcos ticket.

Duterte-Marcos stickers and tarpaulins are sprouting all over Metro Manila. President Aquino is openly campaigning against Marcos, but it does not dent Marcos’ popularity.

Millenials have no recollection of the Marcos dictatorship 30 years ago. They also do not accept that the son, who was very young during the Martial Law regime, should be blamed for the sins of the father.

Tidbits

Despite BIR Commissioner Kim Henares’ efforts, the tax effort of the Aquino administration is at low 14.2 percent, way below the Ramos administration’s high effort rate of 17 percent.

Cebu Rep. Ace Durano, campaign manager of Grace Poe, admits that Mayor Duterte is their main opponent. A 7,400 DZRH-MBC Survey placed Duterte first, with 36 percent and Poe second at 28 percent.

Prince Albert of Monaco visited the Tubbataha Reef  National Park in Palawan.

Manny Pacquiao is favored at 230 to 1 over Timothy Bradley. You would have to bet P230 to win P100.

Tessie Sy-Coson and Robina Gokongwei-Pe are on the list of Forbes “Asia 50 Power Businesswomen 2016” list.

 

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