His own boss

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NINETEEN years have passed since then Congressman Oscar Orbos filed the “Freedom of Information Act of 1992”. Several other, more or less similar, bills were filed in the Senate and the House from 1998 until 2008, when then House Speaker Prospero Nograles filed House Bill 3732, or “An Act Implementing the Right of Access to Information on Matters of Public Concern Guaranteed Under Section 28, Article II and Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution and for Other Purposes.”

In 2009 the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media filed Senate Bill 3308, or “The Freedom of Information Act of 2009.” It passed the Senate on third and final reading on December 14, 2009. On January 20, 2010, the bicameral conference committee reconciled conflicting provisions in the Senate and House bills. The Senate approved the reconciled bill on February 1. The bill went to the House on February 3, but lack of quorum prevented its discussion. Congress then went into recess in preparation for the 2010 elections. Supposedly assured of passing on the last day of the 14th Congress on June 4, 2010, the bill died when the House adjourned without discussing it for lack of quorum. A number of administration congressmen, including some listed among House Bill 3732 sponsors, were not on the floor, but were seen in the House premises, leading to suspicions that the House leadership had orchestrated their absence to prevent passage of its own bill.

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The teller, not the tale

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IF INDEED Marine Col. Generoso Mariano was calling for the overthrow of Benigno Aquino III, few except Malacanang and its own version of the Arroyo regime’s Lorelei Fajardo seem to have been either surprised or worried.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Avigail Valte went so far as to declare that once retired, Mariano could work directly for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, since, she said, the latter’s camp has been saying the same thing that Mariano said in that video someone took of him reading what looked like a prepared statement, and uploaded on YouTube.

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Blaming Arroyo

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BENIGNO Aquino III blames not only his immediate predecessor, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, for the country’s ills; he’s also mentioned the late Ferdinand Marcos as equally responsible for them.

For doing that in some of his speeches and interviews with the media — and implying that Marcos and his female clone have made changing anything extremely difficult if not impossible — not only the partisans of Arroyo have accused Mr. Aquino of trying to deflect criticism from his own administration’s inadequacies. So have others impatient with the administration’s seeming inability to solve the country’s most urgent problems.

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Understanding

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NOT all of them bought Pajeros, a sport utility vehicle ( SUV) manufactured by Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors; some bought even more expensive SUVs and pick-up trucks, and others cheaper Asian utility vehicles (AUVs) with funds from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Erroneously tagged by the media as “the Pajero 7,” some of these bishops of the Catholic Church are asking for “understanding,” in tacit admission that their use of public funds might have been neither legal nor moral.

Some of the country’s bishops also asked for understanding when the world-wide sex scandals involving the clerical abuse of children erupted during the papacy of John Paul II, making this the second time in less than a decade when the allegedly spiritual and moral betters of the Filipino people have asked poor sinners for sympathy.

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Shallow bench

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BENIGNO AQUINO III has an approval rating of between 68 and 70 percent, most probably because he hasn’t done anything scandalous or controversial. That says something about how low Filipinos’ expectations of their leaders are. But you can’t blame them for it, their high expectations having been frequently dashed to pieces, and given how anxious they are to have someone in power better than Mr. Aquino’s predecessor, in comparison to whom even Ferdinand Marcos was already in danger of looking good as she ended her nine-year watch as the (putatively elected) President of the Republic.

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