Archive for the ‘Philippine Politics’ Category

Whether true or not the public’s vision of a sinking ship usually includes scenes of rats jumping overboard in an effort to save themselves.

In the case of Philippine President Arroyo and her sinking ship of State it appears as though she has pre-empted the “rats.” All day yesterday the country was awash in rumors some of Arroyo’s Cabinet members would be resigning in protest over allegations of election rigging.

Last night in an address over state run radio she called for the resignations of her entire cabinet and remained steadfast in her determination to stay in office. “First of all, I am not resigning my office,” Arroyo said. “At the same time, I will restructure and strengthen the Cabinet. I am asking the entire Cabinet to tender their resignations.”

She said her new Cabinet would have a free hand in governance while she focuses on fundamental changes to the constitution and the political system. How a mass resignation and re-naming of new cabinet members would alleviate the current political pressure is certainly debatable. It all smacks of a desparation move on her part. It’s also doubtful it would improve her current standing with the public. A poll released Wednesday showed only two of every 10 Filipinos still trust Arroyo and nearly half believe she should no longer be president.

Until last nights radio address most members of Arroyo’s cabinet have repeatedly expressed support for the president. No longer. Friday morning, in a hastly called press conference, several Philippine cabinet officials led by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said they have asked President Gloria Arroyo to step down and allow Vice President Noli De Castro to take over the country’s leadership. Also present were Trade and Industry Secretary Juan Santos, Budget and Management Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Education Secretary Florencio Abad, Social Welfare Development Secretary Corazon Soliman and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Villa.

The heads of the government’s main revenue collection agencies, Guillermo Parayno of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Alberto Lina of the Bureau of Customs, also quit. Shortly after, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla announced he has resigned.

Within the last hour (13:30 PST) former president Cory Aquino, a long time ally of Arroyo, has also called for Arroyo’s resignation and to shift power to the Vice President. In short she said it would be in the best interests of the country if Arroyo stepped aside and avoided either an impeachment trail or another reoccurence of the all too familiar “people’s power” revolt in the streets of Manila.

As yet the major newspapers, other than reporting the news, have remained clear of the controversy. I suspect within a few days and with pressure building one of them will break ranks and call for Arroyo’s resignation also.

As an aside, I say Woo-Who! This is like getting a pay raise, the peso has lost value in the last two weeks and now sits at P56.45 to one US dollar. When it hits 65 to the dollar I’ve got a nice little stash to cash in.

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Consider this headline: “Arroyo may end up executed on the streets.” Of course it should be taken with a grain of salt, the statement was issued by a Philippine communist party spokesman.

Accusations that Mrs. Arroyo’s family received illegal-gambling payoffs and that she cheated in the election have plunged her government into crisis, prompting opposition calls for her resignation.

“The main issue now is how to speed up the ouster of [Mrs. Arroyo],”

Gregorio Rosal, a spokesman for the Communist Party of the Philippines—the rebels’ political wing—told DZMM radio.

“What we see is that if [Mrs. Arroyo] does not resign . . . she most probably will be forcefully booted out by the people, and the worst thing is she may meet the same fate as the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, who were toppled and executed in the streets,” said Rosal.

Meanwhile, back inside the “official government”, such as it is, Major Jason Aquino of the Army Scout Rangers was relieved as operations chief of the paratrooper unit on Sunday. Major Aquino was sacked for “politicking” after it was found out that he was the source of a pamphlet being distributed to the ranks that openly questioned Ms Arroyo’s administration.

Maj Gen Romeo Dominguez, meanwhile, quit his post as commanding general of the military’s northern Luzon command, just two days after one of his men was linked to destabilisation plots against Ms Arroyo.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband, accused of taking illegal gambling payoffs, left for the United States on Wednesday after his stay in Hong Kong. Amid a political storm over election rigging and other scandals that has threatened his wife’s stay in office he was summarily “tossed” out of the Philippines last week by his beloved Commander-in-Chief Hubby.

And there is this quote: “She will forever be hounded by people’s questions about her moral ascendancy and legitimacy to lead this country,” the statement said. “The most honorable thing for her to do now is to resign.”

Care to guess who it is attributed to? Nevermind, I love being the spoiler, it was issued by The Protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines. NCCP chairman Most Rev. Ignacio Soliba uttered it in their demand for Pres. Arroyo’s resignation.

Me thinks if she has lost the church my prediction of a Christmas, at the latest, end to “Ate Glo’s” presidency is a wee bit overly optimistic.

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You could say this is satire in the best tradition of Scrappleface, but it isn’t. Philippine President Arroyo has tossed her husband out of the country to hide him from corruption allegations.

Jun 29, 2005 — MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo moved dramatically on Wednesday to reduce pressure on her government from graft allegations, saying her husband had agreed to leave the country.

She did not say how long her husband, Jose Miguel and known widely as Mike, would remain abroad. Opposition lawmakers have said he, the couple’s son and other family members were involved in payoffs from gambling syndicates, but nothing has been proved.

Her husband has also been accused by the opposition of helping Arroyo try to fix the results of last year’s election in telephone conversations with an election official.

“Today, my family is once again called to sacrifice our personal happiness to allow me to serve best as president of our country,” Arroyo, her voice cracking with emotion, told a business forum in Manila.

“My husband has volunteered to go abroad. I mention this here today because I want to signal to everyone that nothing can stop my administration from implementing … our reform agenda.”

Volunteered? That’s rich, as I said it borders on being satire. It also gives “Mike” an opportunity to stash any US assets from prying legal eyes. One note of advise to the Philippine customs department. Better give “Mike” a complete inspection on his way out of the country. There’s no telling how much may be secreted out under the guise of “personnel papers.”

On a more serious note, Archbishop Oscar Cruz advised President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to “just go” and “there is life after the presidency.”

That’s most likely true, the question is will that life be behind bars.

Cross Posted On the Third Hand.

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The current vote rigging scandal has swirled around Philippines President for close to four weeks. After protest marches, calls for snap elections, rumors of government takeovers too numerous to count and portions of the alleged “smoking gun” tape becoming the latest rage in cellphone ringtones Pres. Arroyo addressed the country. What follows is the full text of her address to the nation:

Mga Minamahal kong Kababayan,

For the last several weeks, the issue of the tape recordings has spun out of control. Tonight, I want to set the record straight. You deserve an explanation; from me, because you are the people I was elected to serve.

As you recall, the election canvassing process was unnecessarily slow even after the election results were already in and the votes had been counted.

I was anxious to protect my votes and during that time had conversations with many people, including a Comelec official. My intent was not to influence the outcome of the election, and it did not. As I mentioned, the election had already been decided and the votes counted. And as you remember, the outcome had been predicted by every major public opinion poll, and adjudged free, fair and decisive by international election observers, and our own Namfrel.

That said, let me tell you how I personally feel, I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment. I’m sorry. I also regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter. I take full responsibility for my actions and to you and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events. I want to assure you that I have redoubled my efforts to serve the nation and earn your trust.

Nagagambala ako. Maliwanag na may kakulangan sa wastong pagpapasya ang nangyaring pagtawag sa telepono.//pinagsisisihan ko ito ng lubos.// Pinana’gutan ko nang lubusan ang aking mga ginawa at humuhingi ako ng tawad sa inyo, sa lahat ng mga butihing mamamayan na nabawasan ng tiwala dahil sa mga pangyayaring ito. Ibig kong tiyakin sa inyo na lalo pa akong magsisikap upang maglingkod sa bayan at matamo ang inyong tiwala.

I took office with a mandate to carry out a plan for the nation. Since that time, I have focused on making the tough but necessary decisions to make up for years of economic neglect. We passed a comprehensive fiscally responsible national budget; raised new and necessary revenues to reinvest in the people; and implemented new anti-corruption measures that have led to the highest collection of taxes in history.

Nothing should stand in the way of this work, or the next phase of my reform agenda, which includes new investments in education and social services with our new revenues; and an expansion of our successful anti-corruption and lifestyle checks.

That is why I want to close this chapter and move on with the business of governing.

I ask each and every one of you to join hands with me in a show of unity, to help forge One Philippines, where everyone is equal under the law, and where everyone has the opportunity to use their God-given talents to make a better life.

Our nation is strong and getting stronger. The progress is steady and I ask you to walk with me on this journey to rebuild our great nation. I remain your humble servant and promise you that I will fulfill my constitutional oath of office to serve the people to the best of my ability.

God Bless the Philippines.

It should be pointed out Arroyo was required under law to make this statement. Under Section 5 of Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, all public officials are required to reply within 15 working days to any query or complaint from any citizen. The complaint alleging vote fraud was filed on 12 June.

President Arroyo has remained deadly silent on the scandal until she was forced to meet this deadline. And to be honest it’s short on substance and long on platitudes. Based on these words her greatest achievement has been the passage of the controversial value added tax.

Even as she was giving her speech, behind the scenes, the government is studying the possibility of lowering the tariff duty on crude and refined oil products to soften the impact of the 10-percent value added tax on petroleum products. That would seem to undercut any gains she has already made.

The bottom line is this. Despite her claims at fulfilling her constitutional oath and serving the people, I’m sticking by my recent prediction. She’s gone by Christmas at the latest.

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Lets lay out a scenario first.

Your the president of a struggling third world country. You assumed power when a peoples revolt tossed out your predecessor, whom you served as vice president. Two years later – and reneging on a previous promise not to – you run for re- election against a political virgin. The “John Wayne” of Philippine cinema. The election is won by a total of 1,123,576 votes and you return to office vowing to stamp out corruption and improve the stagnate economy.

In the two years since you survive an attempted coup d’état by disgruntled military members. A still unresolved scandal involving the First Gentleman and Iraq hostage crisis that results in capitulation and ransom money paid to jihadist cut throats.

The list of chicanery, shenanigans, double-dealing, fourberie, and fraud has been endless, but, you have survived. Until now. And as predicted in August ’04 President Gloria Arroyo may be finally done for.

Whistleblower, and former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Deputy Director Samuel Ong, has produced a wiretap conversation (download files here) allegedly between the president and Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. The original tape is in excess of three hours long but the main gist is Arroyo was given assurances by Garcillano that votes can be found (read: manufactured) that will offset her rival’s lead over her in the May ’03 election. Other portions detail how to slow down the election count in some areas and ensure her victory.

The government, meanwhile, insists that the tapes are fake, edited by the “opposition” out of wiretapped conversations Arroyo had with other people, in order to destabilize her administration.

In knee-jerk reaction three youths were arrested, and charged with inciting to sedition, a crime punishable by up to six years imprisonment for posting anti-Arroyo signs containing her picture and the words, “President Evil,” and “The Evil Continues.”

It is no surprise rather than call for authentication of the tapes they have filed charges against the whistleblower and are attempting to silence the media.

Exposing the criminal act of cheating massively at the polls committed by President Arroyo and her political operator, election official, Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, and demanding her resignation are now not only seditious acts, but also “proof” that the audio tapes on the poll fraud is a plot for a coup d’etat.

This position was bared today by officials of the Justice Department and the National Bureau of Investigation, after they filed sedition charges against former NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong, the poll fraud whistleblower.

But even as sedition raps were filed yesterday against Ong, Malacañang at the same time admitted that the President does not want the tapes played by radio and TV stations or by anyone else because this would reduce her to becoming a victim of trial by publicity.

The House committees on public information, national defense, public order and security, electoral reforms, and information technology decided on Wednesday to send a letter to the President formally asking for her comment on the controversial tape.

The same letters will be sent to First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, Garcillano and other people whose conversations were allegedly illegally tapped.

The committees also decided to ask the FBI, Scotland Yard and other investigation agencies in Japan, Australia, and Canada if they can authenticate the tapes and if they are willing to do so.

The recordings issue comes as members of Arroyo’s family face allegations of connections to illegal gambling. On May 30 and June 6, at least three witnesses in a Senate investigation linked her husband, son and brother-in-law to jueteng, an illegal form of gambling that helped trigger her predecessor Joseph Estrada’s ouster in 2001. Her son, Congressional Representive (Pampanga) Juan Miguel Arroyo, took an indefinate leave of absense on Wednesday. A day after promising, “if proven guilty, I will resign.”

In light of the above, I hearby reissue my prediction of August 2004, President Gloria “Ate Glo” Arroyo’s shelf life has about expired. If she lasts until Christmas it will be an amazing feat.

Cross posted On the Third Hand

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I thought the string of hateful bile slithering out of Howard Deans mouth tops the list of stupid remarks. He has nothing on Philippine Ambassador to Israel Antonio Modena. This mental midget has compared Israeli immigration police to Nazis in the way they had been allegedly mistreating Filipinos.

Modena said in a newspaper interview published Friday that the treatment of foreign workers by Israeli immigration police was comparable to that of Jews at the hands of the Gestapo secret police.

“Just like the Nazis treated the Jews, you know, that’s how the immigration police treat us,” he was quoted as saying in the interview, which was published in a Jerusalem weekly and other newspapers across the country. “They don’t think twice about raiding a Filipino home in the wee hours of the morning.”

Israeli lawmaker Joseph Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and former justice minister, said “He should apologize in public or pack his things and go back home to the Philippines.”

Actually he should be both, and as quick as possible.

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This is like a broken record. (For you youngsters, a record was this round piece of plastic that produced music. Think black pizza without the anchovies.)

Australian terror warning irks Manila

Officials in Manila yesterday admonished Australia for warning its nationals against travelling to the Philippines. They said that the latest travel advisory issued by Canberra was based on “rehashed” intelligence reports.

“It seems the Australian Government has based its renewed warnings on rehashed, outdated intelligence reports,” Press Secretary and spokesman for President Gloria Arroyo Ignacio Bunye said.

Bunye was referring to a travel alert issued by Australia to its nationals that warned against impending terrorist attacks on Philippine soil.

Damm, Philippine officials are not only “irked,” but are “admonishing” one of it’s Southest Asia neighbors. The intelligence may indeed be outdated, but I question why it’s even used when all you need to back up any threat warning is a quick tour around the local and international news outlets.

Japanese man stabbed to death in northern Philippines.
13 communist rebels killed in weekend clash.
Peace Talks Between Manila and Reds Dim Following Executions. (more here)

This is only a short list of events occuring in the last 72 hours. Being “irked” is the least of Philippines officials problems.

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