Monday, September 25, 2006

Roilo Golez opposes plan to sell Camp Aguinaldo

Plan to sell Camp Aguinaldo welcomed, hit
By Delon Porcalla and James Mananghaya
The Philippine Star 09/26/2006

House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles welcomed yesterday the proposal to sell portions of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. "That’s a very good idea. It will ease traffic with new access roads. It will raise funds for modernization, it will develop the commercial area and will move military camps outside of the highly congested areas therein," Nograles said of the Armed Forces’ general headquarters. The lawmaker, however, stressed that the process should be transparent. "We must define and make the process clean, transparent and subject to COA (Commission on Audit), Congress and public scrutiny. All processes must be done by legal means and we must monitor closely the sale, especially the proceeds where it will be used and spent," Nograles said.
But as expected, Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, a member of the opposition, slammed the idea. "Why should the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) sell its jewels in order to modernize? The other agencies are not asked to do that," Golez said. "The AFP modernization budget should come from the General Appropriations Act, especially now with the additional VAT (value-added tax) revenue of over P100 billion," he added.
Golez, a former national security adviser of President Arroyo, said the general headquarters of the Department of National Defense (DND) "should not be transferred far from Malacañang for better communication and coordination." "In the US, the Pentagon is only a few minutes away from the White House," Golez cited.
Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz bared last week plans to sell or lease on a long-term basis some military camps, including Camp Aguinaldo, in a bid to raise much needed funds for the modernization program of the AFP. Cruz, however, noted that they have yet to receive proposals from private concessions for the sale or long-term lease of military camps. "It would push through only if there is a good proposal," the defense chief said during the Manila Overseas Press Club forum at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City Thursday night.
Cruz said he has asked Congress to authorize him to sell or lease the military’s real estate properties as required under the National Defense Act. He said that if plans to sell or lease Camp Aguinaldo push through, the AFP’s major services namely, the Army, Air Force and Navy as well as the DND would have a common headquarters. This could be in Lipa City in Batangas, Lucena City in Quezon or Clark Field in Pampanga. AFP chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said an estimated P50 million could be raised by selling or leasing portions of the 178-hectare Camp Aguinaldo. Esperon said that aside from Camp Aguinaldo, any camp could also be sold or leased such as Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija — home of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, the elite Special Operations Command and the Training and Doctrines Command. Fort Magsaysay is said to be a "candidate" for conversion into an agricultural field. Golez, meanwhile, raised concerns over Camp Aguinaldo, which lies along the EDSA highway, being transformed into a commercial hub. "Converting Camp Aguinaldo into a commercial center would worsen the EDSA traffic. Right now, there are only a few offices and vehicles situated there. Making it commercial would dramatically increase its population and vehicle density," he said in a statement. "With its trees, Camp Aguinaldo is one of the lungs of Metro Manila to help ease the serious air pollution along EDSA. Most of those trees would be chopped down to give way to ‘progress,’" he added.
"And finally, do we really need another potentially graft-ridden mega land deal similar to what happened in the Amari land deal?" Golez asked, referring to the multimillion-peso scandal involving Thai firm Amari, which reclaimed lands along the Manila Bay area.
The Philippine Defense Reform (PDR) program aims to allot P10 billion annually for the modernization of the AFP for the purchase of new and modern equipment for the military’s anti-terror and counter insurgency campaigns. Among the real estate properties of the military that have been sold to private buyers through the Bases Conversion and Development Authority are Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Camp John Hay in Baguio City, Subic naval base in Zambales and Clark Field in Pampanga, from which the government was able to earn billions of pesos. Cruz said that by directly putting the earnings in a trust fund at the Development Bank the Philippines and the Landbank of the Philippines, the earnings from the sale or lease of military real estate would surely go to the modernization program.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Philippine House hearing on complaint reset; minority cries harassment, Roilo Golez blog

House hearing on complaint reset; minority cries harassment

By Maila AgerINQ7.netLast updated 05:11pm (Mla time) 09/19/2006
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(UPDATE) DESPITE an appeal by opposition lawmakers, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's allies in the House of Representatives succeeded in having the hearing on an expulsion case filed against a lawmaker reset to next month.
House Minority Floor Leader Francis Escudero said the move to reset the hearing was an indication that the case was weak and was only meant to harass Cayetano and the opposition.
Upon the motion of Northern Samar Representative Harlin Abayon, the committee on ethics tasked to hear the complaint against Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano was set for October 3.
Filed by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and supported by his son and Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo and brother and Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio Arroyo, the complaint stemmed from allegations by Cayetano that the Arroyos kept a multimillion-dollar bank account in Germany.
The First Gentleman has denied Cayetano’s claim.
Abayon's motion was prompted by a query from CIBAC Representative Joel Villanueva, an opposition member, on why ex-officio members of the committee had not been furnished a copy of the complaint ahead of the hearing.
Abayon, who also received a copy only during the hearing, then moved for its postponement.
“With that revelation, Mr. Chairman, and because according to the honorable Villanueva, he has just received the complaint and he is not ready, I think the best thing that we have to do here is to postpone this hearing so that the members will be able to study,” Abayon said.
“If that is the case, I therefore move that we might as well defer this so that in the next hearing Mr. chairman, we'll have an intelligent discussion,” Abayon said.
But Escudero clarified that Villanueva was only raising a parliamentary inquiry and not asking for a postponement.
Villanueva also clarified that he was ready to participate in the deliberations.
“We'd like to make of record that the Honorable Villanueva expressed his readiness to participate in this afternoon's proceeding and also in behalf of the minority, we'd like to manifest our readiness to participate and be part of this committee deliberation,” Escudero said.
Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez fears that the delay of the proceeding might be used by the complainants to amend the complaint.
“I think we should avoid the question where we have a complaint that maybe subject to a continuing amendment,” Golez said.
“We don't want a situation where when we resume, we’ll be confronted with a new complaint,” he said.
But Abayon and Baguio Representative Mauricio Domogan pointed out that the rules of the committee clearly provided for an amendment to the complaint at any stage until an answer was filed.
Bohol Representative Roberto Cajes, the committee chairman, ruled in favor of Abayon and Domogan's argument.
But if rules were to be followed, Escudero said the complainants should also be present during the hearing.
He pointed out that under the rules of court, the same rules that the committee was using, “interest must be expressed by the complainants with respect to whatever case they are filing.”
But Cajes said the complainants and the respondent were not yet required to attend at this stage of the proceeding.
Nonetheless, Escudero said he was convinced that the case against Cayetano was weak that was why the President's allies were delaying the proceedings.
“Pagpapakita na hindi sila handa siguro, na parang hilaw yung complaint na sinampa dahil pinag-uusapan nila ang posibilidad ng amendment [This goes to show that maybe they are not ready, that the complaint that has been filed was half-baked because they are still discussing the possibility of amending it],” Escudero said after the hearing.
“Lahat ng ito ay panggigipit lang. Pang-uurot sa opposition, minority at kay congressman Cayetano. Wala naman talagang basehan ang kaso [All of these only prove harassment against the opposition, minority, and Cayetano],” Escudero said.
Golez said the deferment of the hearing was also puzzling.
“We are ready to discuss now. Why are they not? Is there a hidden agenda? Did they find the complaint weak or defective and need to rework it?” he asked.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Inquire editorial on House charter change resolution, Roilo Golez blog

EDITORIAL
Spitting on it
InquirerLast updated 01:12am (Mla time) 09/07/2006
Published on Page A10 of the September 7, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

PITY the good people of Cagayan de Oro. Their elected representative in Congress -- and, by extension, their own proud city -- will forever be associated with the Arroyo administration's shameless display of outright contempt for the Constitution.
After the House committee on constitutional amendments voted on Tuesday to approve Resolution No. 1230, which seeks to convene Congress into a constituent assembly (unconstitutionally, in our view and that of many others), the committee chair, Rep. Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro, immediately welcomed the result with the most fatuous statement of the year. "The motion was approved overwhelmingly. This is not my triumph but the triumph of the committee and the Filipino people."
His triumph? Where did he get the idea that his role as engineer of the Charter change express was a personal achievement? Not even Rep. Simeon Datumanong, who controversially masterminded the rejection of two impeachment cases against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in two years, was foolish enough to claim the impeachment votes as a personal feat.
But we haven't even begun to plumb the depths of absurdity in Jaraula's statement.
The committee's approval of the motion cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a triumph; it was simply the majority flexing its muscles. Was the eventual outcome ever at risk? Not even the most optimistic members of the House opposition thought so. In fact, the only element of mystery in the process was timing. When would the House leadership send the signal to the committee to go ahead and vote?
Indeed, when push came to shove (or, to sustain the original metaphor, when the light turned green), the committee did not even bother to discuss the substance of the motion. As opposition Rep. Roilo Golez pointed out, the committee spent two hours wrangling last Tuesday, but only on procedural matters. The actual discussion of the motion took less than a minute.
In the news release issued by Congress, Jaraula tried to address the opposition's concerns about fast-tracking. Charter change, he said, has "long been the subject of debate in Congress and numerous other public forums for almost a decade now." The two-hour meeting on Tuesday, he implied, should be understood in that longer-term context.
But Jaraula, in his eager defense of the administration strategy, was once again merely being absurd. There is no such thing as a 10-year-old "subject of debate in Congress." The legislative clock is rewound at the start of each Congress; even bills that have passed one chamber must be refiled if they do not become law.
In other words, Jaraula was playing fast and loose with the facts. The principal reason the administration coalition green-lighted the committee vote was not because it was time to conclude a decade of debate, but because the House leadership said it had the support of three-fourths of the chamber to convene a constituent assembly.
So much for the triumph of the committee. But the triumph of the Filipino people?
House Resolution No. 1230, which the committee approved and which will now be voted on in plenary, actually kills the Constitution it seeks to save.
Speaker Jose de Venecia is being economical with the truth when he insists, again and again, that the presidential form of government "has failed the Filipino people." But he is downright being miserly when he interprets a key provision in the Constitution -- which states that "Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members, may propose tochange the Charter" -- as doable even without the Senate's participation.
And Jaraula and his committee think the Speaker's view is not only reasonable, but God's honest truth. Surely, however, this unusual interpretation is even more absurd than Jaraula's own not-my-triumph-but-ours statement.
If a legislative measure requires both chambers of Congress to vote separately, before it can become law, how much more is the participation of both chambers required when amendments of or revisions to the Constitution, our system's basic law, are at stake?
Ordinary people can appreciate the import of this question. But De Venecia, Jaraula and others in the administration coalition don't even hear the question. They have a different answer in mind, and they rip and shred the Constitution and spit on it to suit their ends.
Copyright 2006 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

USNA ranks among best academically, Roilo Golez blog

Thursday, August 31, 2006

USNA ranks among best academically

E-Mail This Article Print This Story
By Judy Campbell
Naval Academy Public Affairs

The Naval Academy has been ranked the No. 3 Best Undergraduate Engineering program in U.S. News & World Report’s ‘‘America’s Best Colleges.”
The Naval Academy was also ranked No. 4 Best Aerospace Engineering Program; No. 6 Best Electrical Engineering Program; and No. 9 Best Mechanical Engineering Program. U.S. News & World Report bases their rankings upon the judgments of deans and senior faculty familiar with the specific programs.
‘‘We are pleased that U.S. News and World Report has confirmed the Naval Academy’s reputation as an excellent engineering school,” said Academic Dean and Provost William C. Miller. ‘‘However, the U.S. Naval Academy is first and foremost a leadership school, preparing young men and women for positions of responsibility in the Navy and Marine Corps.
‘‘Midshipmen acquire an excellent foundation in math, science and engineering along the way, but every graduate must be prepared to take his or her place among the future leaders of the sea services.”
For more information, see the U.S. News and World Report Web site at http:⁄⁄www.usnews.com⁄usnews⁄edu⁄college⁄rankings⁄rankengineering_brief.ph.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

With luck and strong will, a U.S. ally, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, proves adept at dodging political bullets; Roilo golez comments

With luck and strong will, a U.S. ally, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, proves adept at dodging political bullets; Roilo Golez comments
The Associated PressPublished: September 2, 2006

MANILA, Philippines They call her tough, clever, opportunistic or just plain lucky, but her opponents know better than to underestimate Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is carving out a reputation as a true political survivor.

The Philippine president, one of Washington's strongest backers in the war on terror, has been the target of constant coup rumors since she was swept into office in January 2001 by the country's second "people power" revolt. Now she has just performed another escape act by fending off a second impeachment attempt.

The late-August victory prevented a potentially explosive trial in the Senate — an opposition stronghold — on allegations of vote-rigging, corruption, human rights abuses and violations of the Constitution. As a result, she has gained an aura of political invincibility, immune from the opposition's best shots while she manages a never-ending string of crises, including natural disasters, terror attacks and other emergencies.

Despite plummeting poll ratings, the former economics professor and one-time college pal of future President Bill Clinton at Georgetown University, has shown a knack for cutting deals and bending rules, even the Constitution.

"She works hard, she's a fighter," said Rep. Roilo Golez, Arroyo's former national security adviser who has switched to the opposition. "She really fights to the point of going over the edge."

Her critics claim she has gone too far in trying to squelch dissonant voices, and the Supreme Court generally agreed when it ruled that she illegally imposed a weeklong state of emergency and other measures to quash a coup plot last February that allegedly involved the military, communist rebels and shadowy financial backers.

The ruling didn't much matter. Arroyo, the 59-year-old daughter of a president, already had sent her message by cracking down on an unfriendly newspaper and getting arrest warrants for several alleged coup plotters. Any momentum that they might have gained was long gone by the time the court ruled.

Two impeachment moves were hastily killed off by the overwhelming dominance of her supporters in the House of Representatives, ensuring the allegations wouldn't make it to trial in the Senate.

With a one-year ban on filing another complaint, Arroyo now has breathing room ahead of spring local and congressional elections. Any major opposition gains seem unlikely in that voting, however; Arroyo's party is generally popular, particularly outside Manila — a strength that won her a six-year term in 2004 despite losing the vote in the sprawling capital.

Arroyo's troubles started almost immediately after she was sworn in to replace Joseph Estrada, the action film star-turned-politician who fled the presidential palace in January 2001 amid mass protests over his alleged corruption in office.

While disgraced, Estrada retained support, particularly among the urban poor. His arrest three months later sparked days of protest that culminated in a bloody but unsuccessful attempt to storm the palace.

Street protests continue and the opposition has vowed to maintain pressure on Arroyo, but the public is growing apathetic and Arroyo skillfully works the political establishment.

"She knows how to distribute favors and how to cut deals," said Alex Magno, a political science professor at the state-run University of Philippines who is regarded as pro-Arroyo.

"She's like Jekyll and Hyde. She's an astute economist and an astute politician. The two things don't go together usually."

Arroyo's legislative record is mixed. She pushed through a value-added tax against strong opposition and the economy has benefited, soothing the middle class. She has put in long hours and courted the urban poor. But an antiterrorism bill and the national budget have been casualties of Congress' constant distractions over the impeachment bids, with spending on infrastructure and education suffering most.

Her political position was strengthened by the death of the opposition's main candidate in the 2004 election just months after the vote, and no unifying voice has emerged to rally her opponents. "The people want a face. There are many leaders who are eligible but no one comes forward. We admit it's our weakness," said opposition spokesman Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Also dead is charismatic Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin, who played key roles in the first "people power" revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and the second mass uprising against Estrada.

Growing up in the palace helped prepare Arroyo for anything, even jousting with the no-holds-barred Philippine media.

A reporter once asked Arroyo at a news conference how much sex she was getting. The married mother of three barely paused before retorting: "Plenty."

She has also shown deftness in complicated crises. She obtained the release of truck driver Angelo de la Cruz, appeasing his kidnappers in Iraq by withdrawing the Philippines' small military contingent a month earlier than planned. The decision was applauded at home, and she got away with only brief criticism from Washington and other allies.

The latest crisis was over allegations that she conspired to fix the 2004 election that she won by a million votes. Arroyo admitted she shouldn't have talked with an elections commissioner during the protracted ballot count, but claimed she didn't influence the results.

She has been hospitalized twice in recent months and there are rumors of a liver problem.

"She's actually overconfident," Magno said. "She's like Tiger Woods in some ways. You know that when Tiger Woods leads in the first two days, it's almost sure that he'll win the tournament."

But in a country with a history of instability since democracy replaced the Marcos dictatorship 20 years ago, anything can happen — a political scandal one day, a natural disaster the next, such as the mudslide that buried a village on the island of Leyte in February, killing more than 1,000 people.

"We have a system that's designed to feed on scandals. We don't know what will blow up next," said Magno. "Even if you have fire extinguishers in every corner, you still have to be ready for the unexpected."

And political survival may not equate to success for the Philippines. With four years left in her term, she has shown more skill at stamping out the political fires than putting the nation on firm path for economic progress.

"We won't have the ability to do long-term planning and long-term execution," Magno said. "Gloria will win but all of us will lose in the long run."

___

AP Correspondent Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report.


MANILA, Philippines They call her tough, clever, opportunistic or just plain lucky, but her opponents know better than to underestimate Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is carving out a reputation as a true political survivor.

The Philippine president, one of Washington's strongest backers in the war on terror, has been the target of constant coup rumors since she was swept into office in January 2001 by the country's second "people power" revolt. Now she has just performed another escape act by fending off a second impeachment attempt.

The late-August victory prevented a potentially explosive trial in the Senate — an opposition stronghold — on allegations of vote-rigging, corruption, human rights abuses and violations of the Constitution. As a result, she has gained an aura of political invincibility, immune from the opposition's best shots while she manages a never-ending string of crises, including natural disasters, terror attacks and other emergencies.

Despite plummeting poll ratings, the former economics professor and one-time college pal of future President Bill Clinton at Georgetown University, has shown a knack for cutting deals and bending rules, even the Constitution.

"She works hard, she's a fighter," said Rep. Roilo Golez, Arroyo's former national security adviser who has switched to the opposition. "She really fights to the point of going over the edge."

Her critics claim she has gone too far in trying to squelch dissonant voices, and the Supreme Court generally agreed when it ruled that she illegally imposed a weeklong state of emergency and other measures to quash a coup plot last February that allegedly involved the military, communist rebels and shadowy financial backers.

The ruling didn't much matter. Arroyo, the 59-year-old daughter of a president, already had sent her message by cracking down on an unfriendly newspaper and getting arrest warrants for several alleged coup plotters. Any momentum that they might have gained was long gone by the time the court ruled.

Two impeachment moves were hastily killed off by the overwhelming dominance of her supporters in the House of Representatives, ensuring the allegations wouldn't make it to trial in the Senate.

With a one-year ban on filing another complaint, Arroyo now has breathing room ahead of spring local and congressional elections. Any major opposition gains seem unlikely in that voting, however; Arroyo's party is generally popular, particularly outside Manila — a strength that won her a six-year term in 2004 despite losing the vote in the sprawling capital.

Arroyo's troubles started almost immediately after she was sworn in to replace Joseph Estrada, the action film star-turned-politician who fled the presidential palace in January 2001 amid mass protests over his alleged corruption in office.

While disgraced, Estrada retained support, particularly among the urban poor. His arrest three months later sparked days of protest that culminated in a bloody but unsuccessful attempt to storm the palace.

Street protests continue and the opposition has vowed to maintain pressure on Arroyo, but the public is growing apathetic and Arroyo skillfully works the political establishment.

"She knows how to distribute favors and how to cut deals," said Alex Magno, a political science professor at the state-run University of Philippines who is regarded as pro-Arroyo.

"She's like Jekyll and Hyde. She's an astute economist and an astute politician. The two things don't go together usually."

Arroyo's legislative record is mixed. She pushed through a value-added tax against strong opposition and the economy has benefited, soothing the middle class. She has put in long hours and courted the urban poor. But an antiterrorism bill and the national budget have been casualties of Congress' constant distractions over the impeachment bids, with spending on infrastructure and education suffering most.

Her political position was strengthened by the death of the opposition's main candidate in the 2004 election just months after the vote, and no unifying voice has emerged to rally her opponents. "The people want a face. There are many leaders who are eligible but no one comes forward. We admit it's our weakness," said opposition spokesman Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Also dead is charismatic Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin, who played key roles in the first "people power" revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and the second mass uprising against Estrada.

Growing up in the palace helped prepare Arroyo for anything, even jousting with the no-holds-barred Philippine media.

A reporter once asked Arroyo at a news conference how much sex she was getting. The married mother of three barely paused before retorting: "Plenty."

She has also shown deftness in complicated crises. She obtained the release of truck driver Angelo de la Cruz, appeasing his kidnappers in Iraq by withdrawing the Philippines' small military contingent a month earlier than planned. The decision was applauded at home, and she got away with only brief criticism from Washington and other allies.

The latest crisis was over allegations that she conspired to fix the 2004 election that she won by a million votes. Arroyo admitted she shouldn't have talked with an elections commissioner during the protracted ballot count, but claimed she didn't influence the results.

She has been hospitalized twice in recent months and there are rumors of a liver problem.

"She's actually overconfident," Magno said. "She's like Tiger Woods in some ways. You know that when Tiger Woods leads in the first two days, it's almost sure that he'll win the tournament."

But in a country with a history of instability since democracy replaced the Marcos dictatorship 20 years ago, anything can happen — a political scandal one day, a natural disaster the next, such as the mudslide that buried a village on the island of Leyte in February, killing more than 1,000 people.

"We have a system that's designed to feed on scandals. We don't know what will blow up next," said Magno. "Even if you have fire extinguishers in every corner, you still have to be ready for the unexpected."

And political survival may not equate to success for the Philippines. With four years left in her term, she has shown more skill at stamping out the political fires than putting the nation on firm path for economic progress.

"We won't have the ability to do long-term planning and long-term execution," Magno said. "Gloria will win but all of us will lose in the long run."

___

AP Correspondent Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this report.