P-Noy Meets With INC Head

Malacañang said that the President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, visited yesterday the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)’s central office which is located in Quezon City to get to know with the religious group’s leader and “touch base” with the organization’s followers.

Eduardo Manalo, INC’s leader meets Aquino on the eve of the appearance of Chief Justice Renato Corona before the Senate impeachment court, but Malacañang then refused implications that the meeting is about or something to do with the impeachment trial.

Presidential spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda said that, “The purpose of the President is to touch base with his supporters and you don’t need to get the support right now.”

The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) management is apparently seen lobbying for the release of Corona, whose lead counsel is former justice Serafin Cuevas who is a member of the sect.

“Unfortunately, the schedule of the President and the schedule of Ka Eduardo (Manalo) could not jibe. It was only this Monday or today that they were able to find a common schedule,” Lacierda said. “The unfortunate thing was it was only today that they were able to find a common schedule.” He added.

Lacierda stated that Aquino’s meeting with the Iglesia ni Cristo’s leader was “warm.”

Aquino personally called for the impeachment of Corona in December 2011.

The last time that Aquino had a chance to visit the INC headquarters which was then considered as his first visit as well was before the May 2010 presidential elections when he was still a senator. He was accompanied by his sisters Ballsy Cruz and popular TV talk show host Kris Aquino.

“As you know, the INC supported the President during his senatorial campaign and during also his presidential campaign,” Lacierda recalled.

The spokesman admitted the impeachment trial was discussed, primarily because it was among the “burning issues of the day.”

“He explained to Ka Eduardo the reasons for the impeachment – that this is part of his reform agenda.

“The President only mentioned the reason why there was an impeachment against Chief Justice Corona and he explained his reasons,” he said.

Lacierda similarly modulated the implication of Aquino’s visit to the INC central office at Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, when he could just have received the religious leader at his office in Malacañang.

“I asked that and the President mentioned it’s always a practice of not only this President but also the other presidents, to visit the head of Iglesia ni Cristo in Central. This is nothing new,” he said.

The other topic discussed, aside from the impeachment according to Lacierda, was the government’s skills development program that will be implemented through the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which is being headed by Joel Villanueva, son of evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord Movement, and is said to be an administration senatorial candidate in 2013.

Lacierda rejected allusions that Aquino was seeking for INC’s support for the future candidate, Villanueva.

“It was only a discussion of what the government has been doing. But there’s certainly no way something was discussed about Villanueva,” he said.

“There are certain matters that we do not list out in the schedule,” he added, dismissing the accusations that the administration had not been transparent in its meeting with the INC.

Not bothered

Lacierda also mentioned that he doesn’t consider Roman Catholic priests’ celebration Masses for Corona just to show a support from the Church leadership for the plagued Chief Justice.

“We have no response to that. This is a free country. There’s a separation between Church and State. So let them – if he wants to celebrate Mass for the Chief Justice, by all means. We have no response to that. And obviously, only a Catholic priest can celebrate a Mass, a Catholic Mass. So there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.

He referred to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines saying that they’re not even aware of any official stand of the CBCP regarding Corona’s impeachment.

“They have not released any statement. So we just rely on statements. We don’t rely on individual bishops. As far as we know, they have not published in their website any official position taken by the CBCP,” he said.

Lacierda said they haven’t heard anything from CBCP president Jose Palma “other than those short interviews.”

“But as an official position, we have not seen any official position taken by the CBCP. Any organization can make a position. Right now, it is in the hands of the senator-judges. So let’s wait for the testimony of Chief Justice Corona,” Lacierda said.

Meeting defended

There was nothing wrong with regards that the President having a meeting with INC leaders, just for the issue of the prosecution panel in Corona’s impeachment trial.

“It’s not uncommon for presidents to solicit the support of the influential group even harking back to the 1970s,” Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II also defended President Aquino’s visit to the INC.

“There’s nothing wrong about it. He just presented his sentiments on the impeachment of the Chief Justice and his campaign for reforms, which sentiments are known to the public,” he told the reporters.

He said the President’s visit may be compared to Aquino’s past meetings with Catholic bishops at the height of debates on the controversial Reproductive Health bill.

“If there are groups big or small that are holding contrary views, it is not unusual for us politicians to approach them to present to them our side. To ignore them would mean insensitivity on our part,” he said.

“In the case of the Chief Justice, whether there is lobbying or not from any group, we are confident that the strength of the evidence we have presented against him would get him convicted,” Gonzales stressed.

But Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said Aquino’s visit only showed his insecurity.

“Why is he going out of his way to explain Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment when he should have nothing to do with it in the first place?” Magsaysay said. “He looks so defensive especially when a so-called congressional source said the INC was influencing senator-judges to acquit the Chief Justice.”

No INC meeting

Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile contradicted the reports that he met with any representative of the INC.

“I quarantined myself,” Enrile told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said “lobbying for or against any issue is normal.”

“Whether it is happening I don’t know. I’m one of those who can say nobody had approached me to lobby then and now,” Sotto said.

“That’s part of the normal interaction between politicians and constituents. All sectors whether you are Iglesia or civilian or non-sectarian can talk to both sides,” Sen. Edgardo Angara said.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary-general and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco also denied that the INC was trying to influence senator-judges identified with UNA.

“As the secretary-general of UNA, I would like to state that there is no truth to that rumor. No emissaries from the INC have sent feelers to senator-judges belonging to UNA for the purpose of pleading for the Chief Justice,” Tiangco said in a statement.

“It is disappointing to read of an ‘anonymous’ source trying to besmirch the reputation of both INC and UNA,” he said. “This congressional source insists he remain anonymous while he attempts to discredit UNA and debase the INC.” – With Christina Mendez, Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano

Timeline: Resumption of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona

Day 35 (May 7) The impeachment court allows the defense panel to subpoena Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as “hostile” witness, but two defense witnesses are barred from testifying since their testimonies bore no relevance to the case.

Day 36 (May 8) Chief Justice Renato Corona promises to testify before the Senate impeachment court based on the documents presented to the Office of the Ombudsman on his alleged $10-million bank deposits.

Day 37 (May 14) Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales presents an Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report, which reveals Corona allegedly had 82 accounts with a “transactional balance” amounting to $10 million, spread out over five banks and not declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Day 38 (May 15) Ombudsman Morales continues her testimony, saying there were “significant” transactions on Corona’s alleged dollar accounts during the 2004 and 2007 election periods and before the impeachment trial began.

Day 39 (May 16) The defense panel presents three complainants who filed charges against Corona before the Ombudsman in an attempt to show that their claims were baseless. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile compels Kaya Natin! Movement lead convenor Harvey Keh to explain why he should not be cited for contempt for handing over to his office confidential records of Corona’s alleged dollar accounts.

Day 40 (May 22) Corona testifies before the impeachment court.

Phl Seeks Win-Win Situation In Shoal Row With China

President Benigno Aquino III said that the country will pursue a win-win situation with China within the claims with both countries regarding Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

Aquino told the business forum of the Joint Alumni Clubs of US Universities last Wednesday that, “We have not stopped having communication with them in trying to look for a win-win situation.”

However, while the country intends to look for a win-win scenario for both parties, Aquino mentioned that he would still keep track of upholding and enforcing the laws.

“If it’s clear that we have a 200-mile exclusive economic zone designated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and both of us are parties to it, is it too much to ask that our rights are respected by our neighbors, in the same token that we respect their rights?” he asked.

With determination, Aquino also claimed that he is not going to give up any areas that belong to the country.

“I am not empowered to give up any of our territory,” he said.

Aquino added that the authority intends to handle the matter diplomatically.

“We do not want to present a threat to them in any shape, manner, or form in terms of military action,” he added.

On the other hand, Albert del Rosario the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, revealed that the Philippines has more investments in China than China has in the Philippines.

He stated that the Philippine investments in China amounts to nearly $3 billion as against to China’s investments in the Philippines which is approximately less than a billion and a half ($1.5).

Last Wednesday, Del Rosario told the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines that, “We benefit from our relations with China just as China benefits from its relationships with us.”

Del Rosario also mentioned that China, in which is considered the Philippines’ 3rd largest trading partner, signed a memorandum of agreement during President Aquino’s state visit last year that both countries would work towards accomplishing $60 billion in 2-way trade within a 5-year period and 2 million inward visitors within 5 years.

“It was also agreed upon that the bilateral agenda would be moved forward in the most positive way, while the areas of contention such as the West Philippine Sea would be abstracted and dealt with separately,” he added.

Having the fact that Chinese investments in the country is only half of Philippine investments in China, Del Rosario then said that Filipino businessmen will not be discouraged from investing in their country despite the recent activities and happenings taken by the Chinese travel agencies suspending tour packages to the Philippines as tensions over the borderline of the islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) increased.

Also, China possessed Philippine fruit exports suspected of carrying pests amid a tense argument between the two countries over Panatag Shoal.

“I don’t think that we should be discouraging our businessmen from investing in China. It’s a good thing if they see how we do it here but what we’re trying to do is at least equalize the amount of investments that go out and we’re hoping that more Chinese investors will take an interest in the Philippines,” Del Rosario said.

“We’d like to believe it’s not,” Del Rosario replied when he was asked if the suspension of tour packages to the Philippines, the reduction in flights, and the possession of Philippine bananas are forms of pressure by China among the maritime argument between Philippines.

“We’d like to believe it’s a technical issue,” he added.

Economic pressure

If China continues to exert economic pressure to the Philippines such as blocking bananas and canceling tour packages, then, the lawmakers said and warned that the economy of the Philippines would be in danger.

Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco and Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said the suspension of tour packages and the controls on fruit importations is “China’s subtle warning versus Philippine on its vast economic arsenal.”

Also, they urged that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should step up efforts in paving the way for the creation of a joint Philippine-China study commission, which would focus on finding mutually acceptable solutions to end the dispute in the Spratlys.

“The decision of Chinese travel agencies to suspend travel to the Philippines could be China’s subtle warning that it does not even need its military to bring widespread economic destruction in the country,” Haresco said.

He warned the suspension of tour packages to the country by Chinese travel agencies “could be the beginning of a larger and more sustained campaign to remind the Philippines and even the US that its economic arsenal is as devastating as its three-million strong People’s Liberation Army.”

Also, he added that the effect of the travel suspension would already deny the economy millions of dollars in potential tourism revenues and warned that Beijing might even go further by obliging a ban on Filipino overseas workers, including those working in Hong Kong and Macau.

Haresco said that the only way to fix the problem in the Spratlys is through direct mutual dialogue with China without discounting the possibility of entering into a joint exploration arrangement in the areas claimed by the Philippines.

While the United States will always remain a valuable supporter to the Philippines, bragging Washington into the Spratlys argument “will do more harm than good” as this is being viewed as an indirect needling by Beijing.

Tactical support

On the other hand, Malacañang, restated that the presence of a US submarine in Subic had nothing to do with the Philippines’ disagreement with China over the disputed Panatag shoal.

Edwin Lacierda, Presidential spokesman, illiterates that the US government made a request last April 3, 2012, days before the April 10 standoff saying that they be allowed to dock their submarine in the area.

“And so it (US request) was addressed to the Department of National Defense and the DND gave its approval on April 24. So, I don’t need to answer or respond to the statements made by the Left,” Lacierda explicated.

Earlier, security officials revealed the visit of submarine USS North Carolina (SSN-777) in Subic was a routine port call scheduled last April 3, before the standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels in Panatag shoal started. The US attack submarine rose last Sunday in Subic Bay.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the visit of a US submarine in Subic violated the country’s sovereignty.

In a statement, the CPP said the US is using the entire Philippines as a vast military base where it could dock its ships, land its fighter jets, fly its drones, conduct repairs and replenish supplies.

Filipino protesters led by former military rebel Nicanor Faeldon said they are planning to sail to Panatag as a show of support.

“They want to protest against the aggression being committed by China against our country, Faeldon’s spokesman kit guerrero said.

He said at least two fishing vessels carrying faeldon’s group were expected to arrive at the shoal later on Friday.

“They are intending to stay there at least three days and fish, if they are not prevented from doing so, Guerrero said, adding that planting a Philippine flag on the rock was also an option.

Fishermen from Batanes, Faeldon’s home province, along with fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales would be joining Faeldon to fish in Panatag that China has included in its declared fishing holiday.

The Philippines has reminded China that the West Philippine Sea is not the sum total of their bilateral relations.

The Philippines remains a safe and a welcoming country even as tensions over the disputed islands escalated.

Stay on the line

China has demanded manila not take measures in the political and legal aspects, saying it will worsen and complicate the situation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said last Monday in a press conference in Beijing that the Philippines should adhere to “diplomatic negotiations” to resolve the standoff.

“In particular, diplomatic negotiations should be adhered to in resolving the current situation, rather than continuing to incite public opinion and send contradictory messages,” Hong said.

SWS: Poor Families Rise To 11.1M

A recent survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) discovered an estimated 11.1 million Filipino households consider themselves poor last March, while up from 9.1 million households in December.

The results of the survey was first published in BusinessWorld and found out that 55 percent of the respondents rated their households poor, 10 percent higher than the 45 percent three months earlier.

A rise of 9 points from the 36 percent or 7.2 million families are recorded in the previous quarter saying that they were poor in terms of food, an amount that translates to approximately 9.1 million families which accounted for the 45 percent.

It was with the Aquino administration that the figures went up this high.

SWS used face-to-face interviews as a mean to use for the noncommissioned survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for national percentages and plus or minus 6 percentage points for area percentages.

The record for self-rated food poverty was posted at 59 percent under the Ramos administration in April 1994 and in September 2002 under the Arroyo administration, while the record for self-rated poverty was posted in July 1985 at 74 percent under the Marcos regime.

Malacañang reacted last Thursday to the survey results saying that it was “natural” to see variations in the levels of self-rated poverty because the government’s antipoverty programs were taking time to be significantly felt.

Programs take time

President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesperson, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, acknowledged that discernments of poverty were among the indicators that the administration was looking at.

“As we have said in the beginning, antipoverty programs take some time before the effects are felt on a sustained basis,” Lacierda said in a news briefing.

“In the meantime, it is natural to see fluctuations in self-rated poverty,” he added.

Lacierda, nevertheless has provided subjective evidences of the government’s conditional cash transfer program benefiting target beneficiaries.

“We have heard for instance, when we were in Roxas City… one mother showed how her child was able to buy a new school bag, new shoes. She was also able to buy vitamins for her child,” Lacierda said.

For the survey, SWS showed a card to 1,200 adults nationwide and asked them, “Where would you place your family on this card?” The choices included “not poor,” “on the line” and “poor.”

Self-rated poverty scaled sharply in Mindanao having 72 percent in March from 38 percent in December. Also, it mounted in the Visayas island from 52 percent previously to 61 percent.

But on the other hand the percentages for Metro Manila from 47 percent to 46 percent while the rest of Luzon managed to maintain its 45 percent, remained basically unaffected.

Self-rated poverty also levitated among those living in the rural areas having 49 percent last December and 66 percent in March, but rarely changed among those in the urban areas amounting to 41 percent to 40 percent respectively.

Food poverty

For self-rated food poverty, SWS asked respondents “Based on the type of food eaten by your family, where would you place your family on this card?” Respondents were made to choose from “not poor,” “on the line” and “poor.”

Self-rated food poverty poured in Mindanao with respect to 30 percent last December while 64 percent in March. It also escalated in the Visayas from 43 percent to 47 percent but hardly changed in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon with just a difference of 1 percent last December.

SWS also determined the self-rated poverty threshold of respondents who considered their households poor or food-poor by asking how much they  needed monthly so as not to consider themselves poor.

The median poverty threshold rose in Metro Manila to P12,000 from P10,000, in Luzon outside Metro Manila to P10,000 from P6,000, in the Visayas to P8,000 from P6,000 and in Mindanao to P7,000 from P6,000.

The median food-poverty threshold in Metro Manila rose to P6,500 from P5,000. In Luzon outside Metro Manila, it rose to P5,000 from P4,000.

It went up to P4,500 from P3,750 in the Visayas and to P4,000 from P3,500 in Mindanao.

President Aquino cancels the surprise visit to Bilibid

New Bilibid Prison

New Bilibid Prison

Since the news about Tony Leveste having a special treatment in New Bilibid Prison, several issues were starting to spread out. There were speculations that other wealthy prisoners were also treated favorably compare to the ordinary prisoners. People were becoming hysterical regarding the issues that show irregularity. They also concluded that corruption could be one of the reasons why instances happened.

President Aquino

President Aquino

So, President Aquino situated a surprise visit to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City last June 15, 2011 (Wednesday). This surprise visit was planned number of weeks ago. This was for the president to observe and evaluate the performance of the officers in the said correction. President Spokesman Edwin Lacierda made sure with Department of Justice (DoJ) that the surprise visit must be kept secret from the officials of New Bilibid Prison.

But, before the visitation took place, everyone was surprise that the surprise visit was canceled. According to Lacierda, it is because the meaning of the word surprise was neglected. The officers from the Bilidbid were informed that the president will visit them. There was no name coming out on who was the informant of the said information.

Other Sources: ABS-CBN News

Aquino Vows to Improve Foreign Investments in the Philippines

By Kathleen Yu

President Noynoy Aquino

President Noynoy Aquino III

In his first state of the nation address (SONA) on July 26, 2010,  newly elected president Benigno Aquino III vowed to boost foreign investments in the country, fight corruption within the government sector and create job opportunities for the local workforce. Aquino promised to “boost collection and fight corruption in the tax and customs bureaus”  and to provide for the education, housing, and health care needs of working class Filipinos.

He vowed to improve PhilHealth coverage for government and private employees, as well as to “build more classrooms” and “fund service contracts under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE).” Aquino also proposed conditional cash transfers to assist parents in educating their children, and promised to improve the Philippine educational system by expanding the basic education cycle from seven years to the global standard of twelve years.

To accomplish this, he proposed the establishment of public-private partnerships between the government and the business sector. He acknowledged the need to attract foreign investors to the country, and promised to implement stable economic policies that would not only “level the playing field” for potential investors, but also make the Philippines a more attractive investment destination in Southeast Asia. This would, in turn, reduce unemployment and create job opportunities for the local workforce.

According to statistics from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines registered only $1.5 billion in direct foreign investments in the year 2008, compared to Thailand’s $9.8 billion and Indonesia’s $7.9 billion. Economic growth in the Philippines averaged 3.7% in the last twenty years, as opposed to 4.7% in Thailand and 6% for Malaysia. During his speech, Aquino vowed to consider “each and every item of the budget” and promised to improve direct foreign investments in the country. Budget secretary Florencio Abad also proposed the implementation of government austerity measures, and promised “dramatic” improvements in both the education and health sectors.

In his speech, Aquino promised to improve business registration procedures in the Philippines, to encourage foreign and local investors to set up operations in the country. Under the leadership of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary Gregory Domingo, the 4-8 hour process of registering a business name would now be cut down to just 15 minutes. The 36 documents required for the procedure would be cut down to 6, and the 8 page application form would be shortened to just one page. This would make it easier for foreign and local investors to set up business operations in the Philippines.

According to BPO Consultant Gregory Kittelson of Manila consulting firm Kittelson & Carpo Consulting, “Many foreign investors are hopeful that Aquino will provide an enabling and transparent business environment that will encourage growth and promote fair competition among foreign and local companies. The keyword here is confidence. Once investors are confident that Aquino will come through with his promises and put the right processed in place, we can expect a surge in long term investments.”

Kittelson added, “The general mindset of foreign investors was to wait and see if all went well during and after the recent elections.  Once Aquino was sworn in and the country appeared to demonstrate continuous stability, foreign investors regained confidence and carried out their investment plans for the Philippines.”

Let’s hope that PNoy (as President Aquino is affectionately known to the masses) is true to his word.

MILF awaits tack of Aquino in Mindanao peace efforts

MANILA, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be watching how the new administration of incoming President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will pursue the peace process in Mindanao, the Muslim separatist group said.

The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim separatist rebel group pushing for the establishment of an Islamic state in large parts of Mindanao.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the MILF, said the next stage of the protracted peace talks will depend on how the Aquino administration intends to deal with the issue.

“The peace process depends on them, whether they want to talk or whether they will adopt the war policy. If they adopt the war policy, we will defend ourselves,” said Iqbal.

Previously, Iqbal expressed doubts about a peace pact with the new administration, citing that Aquino is surrounded by people who are “spoilers” of the peace process, including vice-presidential running mate Manuel “Mar Roxas II, and former North Cotabato vice governor and losing gubernatorial candidate Manny Piñol.

“Piñol is no longer in position, but Roxas is still influential. Ultimately, what will matter here is the interest of big businessmen, warlords and mining companies,” he said.

Roxas and Piñol both strongly opposed the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which would have been a major breakthrough in the peace talks with the MILF.

Iqbal said it is normal for a revolutionary group like the MILF to wage its cause through war, but the negotiation track is a better option.

“In war, we cannot win over the government, we also cannot be beaten by the government. It is very destructive to both sides, so it is better if we go for a negotiation track. I hope that negotiations do not take forever, there should be an effort to accelerate the peace process and finally resolve this,” he said. 

While the MILF claims it has the arsenal to sustain an all-out war against the Philippine armed forces, the group, for now, prefers to wait for the next step that will be taken by the Aquino administration.

“We have already proven that we can sustain war, we can resort to highly mobile tactics which will be difficult for the government if a confrontation ensues. We can dictate the terms of the war, when we will attack, where we will attack, and what arms to use,” Iqbal said.

The Philippine military estimates the MILF forces to number around 12,000, but Iqbal, refused to confirmed this.

Last week, the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald said the EU has agreed to participate in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) assisting the peace process in Mindanao.

MacDonald said the details of EU’s participation will be firmed up as soon as the terms of reference have been agreed with the parties in the peace talks.

The IMT, with peace talks broker Malaysia as head of the team, was initially deployed in 2004. It later added Japanese economic experts as part of the team.

Aquino will take oath in Tarlac with a Barangay Captain?

SENATOR Benigno Aquino III, the apparent winner in the May 10 presidential election, he said that he would take oath rather than having an oath with a chief justice that was assigned by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Actually the barangay captain has no barong yet to wear to the oath of Aquino..

Aquino opposes Arroyo’s appointment of Associate Justice Renato Corona to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who retires on May 17, saying it violates a constitutional ban on election-period appointments.

“I think his appointment will be questioned at some future time… At the end of the day, I do not want to start out with a question mark on the validity of my oath of office,” Aquino told reporters at Tarlac Funeral Homes.

Aquino was attending a wake for retired Col. Arnulfo Obillos, who was killed in a poll-related shootout in Cavite with police. He and his running mate Senator Manuel Roxas II held the news conference in a nearby chapel.

Aquino likened Corona’s appointment to an “insurance policy” for Mrs. Arroyo, whom Aquino has vowed to investigate for any acts of corruption in office.

“She probably assumes she’ll be facing a whole ton of cases… [and] she is looking for sympathetic or friendly faces from those who will try her case,” he said.

It is traditional for the chief justice of the Supreme Court to swear in the incoming president at the Luneta in Manila, but there is no law or constitutional provision requiring it. The Constitution merely spells out the oath that the president and vice-president must take.

Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, took her oath at the Club Filipino in San Juan in 1986, while her rival for the presidency, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was sworn in at the Malacañang Palace.

A Palace spokesman said Aquino may take his oath before any other officer, but he could not refuse to recognize Corona as the next chief justice because Mrs. Arroyo followed the law when she appointed him.

In a radio interview, presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the incoming president must follow the law whether he liked it or not, adding the public would judge Aquino by his actions.

In a separate interview, Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said it was unlikely that Mrs. Arroyo would heed Aquino’s call to withdraw Corona’s appointment because she was within her rights to appoint him.

Mrs. Aquino’s former election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, told radio dzBB that Aquino’s plan not to take his oath before Corona would be an embarrassment for the country.

Breaking from the traditional oath-breaking ceremony would send the wrong signal and tarnish the Philippines’ image.

In a separate press conference Friday, Senator Aquilino Pimentel said he had suggested to Aquino that he take his oath before “the lowliest barangay official’’ to demonstrate his concern for the poor.

He said Aquino could revoke Corona’s appointment once he became president, but acknowledged that could create a constitutional standoff between the executive and judicial branches of government.

Noynoy far from complacent despite survey lead

Sen. Noynoy Aquino

Sen. Noynoy Aquino

Presidential aspirant Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III on Tuesday said he is still not confident of victory in the 2010 elections despite his impressive performance in presidential surveys.

Interviewed by reporters, Aquino said he is maintaining his vigilance to ensure that the next year’s automated polls – the first in Philippine history on a nationwide scale – would not be rigged.

Siyempre nakakatuwa yun pero dapat lalo tayong magpursigi at lalong magtiyaga na mapalaki natin kung pwede ang lamang na yan at marami na nga tayong istorya ng pandaraya sa eleksyon,” said Aquino.

(Of course I am pleased about the survey results, but we have to work harder to widen the lead because we’ve been hearing about stories of electoral fraud.)

Aquino placed first among other presidential aspirants in a survey conducted by Pulse Asia from October 22-30.


Noynoy bares presidential bid

Forty days after former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino died, her only son, Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, vowed to resurrect the kind of leadership and governance she has left if the Filipino nation will elect him as President in 2010.

Although Cory would have wanted her son to finish his term as a senator, Noynoy said it was the public’s clamor that strongly convinced him to finally represent the Liberal Party as its standard-bearer in next year’s presidential election.

“Tinatanggap ko ang hiling ng sambayanan. Tinatanggap ko ang habilin ng aking mga magulang. Tinatanggap ko ang responsibilidad na ituloy ang laban para sa bayan. Tinatanggap ko ang hamong mamuno sa labang ito. Bayang Pilipinas, tatakbo po ako sa pagka-pangulo sa eleksyon sa 2010,” Aquino affirmed his presidential plans in an early morning press conference at the Kalayaan Hall of Club Filipino in San Juan City, the same venue where his mother had her historic oath-taking in 1986.

Read more..

Aquino’s condition worsens, says daughter

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The condition of former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, in hospital for colon cancer, has deteriorated, her daughter said in a televised interview Monday.

Prayers have been said across this mostly Catholic Southeast Asian nation for Aquino, 76, who has been hospitalized for the past month.

“This is the hardest time for all of us,” Kristina Bernadette Aquino told ABS-CBN television.

Aquino’s daughter wept as she outlined her mother’s condition.

“She is in pain already, so please pray for her so that it could be lessened.”

Read more…