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Statement of Secretary Leila M. de Lima on resignation challenges

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DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. Photo by WN.COM
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. Photo by WN.COM

Republika ng Pilipinas
KAGAWARAN NG KATARUNGAN
Department of Justice
Manila

12 October 2010

SECRETARY LEILA M. DE LIMA’S STATEMENT ON RESIGNATION CHALLENGES

The President has substantially adopted the IIRC recommendations and has drawn up a realistic action plan for their implementation. I and the IIRC members have been briefed by the President’s legal team regarding some recommendations which were not adopted en toto. The President’s concerns and reasons for the modifications on the recommendations are well-taken. The difference in position is not basis for any stark divergence in the IIRC’s and Malacañang’s approach on the culpability of the officials involved. There are more commonalities and consensus than differences.

The divergence in the IIRC Recommendations and Palace review are not even differences in policies, but are issue-specific. They relate to differences in perspective of the realistic application of the laws in public officer accountability given the facts considered. The President has determined that for certain IIRC recommendations, it was better to start with a realistic action plan of meting out punishment. That is a clear prerogative of the President.

Resignations from positions of trust and confidence are usually based on irreconcilable differences on questions of policy. There is no such difference between me and the President. The differences in opinion on specific recommendations raised in the IIRC Report are far from policy differences. They are issue-specific. If any Cabinet member or alter ego of the President is asked to resign based on differences of opinion on specific-issues, the President will always be left without a Cabinet. There will be no end to resignations as there will always be differences in opinion on specific issues between the President and the members of his Cabinet.

It is the nature of the Executive Department’s system that the best and brightest of the nation’s managers and administrators are taken into the trust and confidence of the President to help him execute the nation’s laws. These managers and administrators thus become the President’s official family. In taking on this privilege, we, as Cabinet members, are always mindful of our position in the hierarchy of governance. We serve at the pleasure of the President. As the Chief Executive, he may or may not adopt our advice or perspective on certain issues. In the end, it is the President who determines the best course of action. His alter egos are only expected to support him in those actions he deems best.

In arriving at the best courses of action, full debate and discussion between the President, his Cabinet and advisers is not only expected, it is in fact encouraged. And precisely because of the nature of a debate, certain positions are bound to differ, even oppose each other. This is the spirit of democratic debates and the essence of a well-managed democracy. To derive only conflict and disharmony from this exercise, and imply resignation every time a Cabinet member’s perspective or opinion is not adopted, is to misunderstand the nature of how debate and deliberation in government works, and how it is essential in the determination of policy formulation and implementation. We cannot be so onion-skinned as to contemplate resignation every time our perspective is not adopted in its entirety by the President.

As the alter ego of the President in the Department of Justice, I basically serve as the primary legal adviser of the President. But I am just one of his many advisers. In the end, it is the President who determines which advice or combination or variety of advices is most appropriate under the given set of circumstances. When I accepted his offer to serve his administration, I did so knowing fully well that this came with the conditions of the job.

I continue to fully support and remain dedicated to the President and to the fulfillment of his dreams for this country.

(Sgd.) LEILA M. DE LIMA

Gun ban drive full swing in Bicol

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Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo
LEGAZPI CITY – The total gun ban campaign in connection with the October Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election went on full swing after police and military authorities in Bicol arrested 13 people and seized from them at least 22 various types of low and high powered firearms and explosives, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said Wednesday.

Chief Supt. Cecilio Calleja, PNP Bicol regional director, said the arrest of gun ban violators and the subsequent confiscation of their firearms all came from the PNP checkpoints set in strategic areas across the six provinces of the region.

Calleja said various police commands in the six provinces in Bicol were placed on heightened alert since the last week of September following the total gun ban imposed by the Commission on Election (COMELEC) for the upcoming barangay and SK election on October 25 this year.
He said the PNP has set up stationary and mobile check points and conducted 537 operations that led to the arrest of 13 people and the confiscation of 13 hand guns, nine high powered firearms consisting of M16 rifles, KG9 submachine guns, and shotguns, including chemical substance for explosives and detonating caps.

Calleja said at the start of the gun ban campaign Task Force Masbate (TFM) has arrested at least four suspected members of a Private Armed Groups (PAGs) operating in the towns of Aroroy and San Pascual in Masbate.

San Pascual town was the site of the deadliest poll- related violence incidents this year where five people, including a town councilman were killed in a daylight ambush staged by suspected PAGs in a remote village here.

Calleja said TFM operatives have confiscated at least eight high-powered firearms since its reactivation about two months ago. (PNA/MAL/BICOLTODAY.com)

Statement of President Aquino on the recommended actions after reviewing the IIRC report on the Quirino hostage taking

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Malacanang Photo
Malacanang Photo

STATEMENT
of
His Excellency BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
On the recommended actions to be taken after reviewing the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee on the August 23rd Quirino Grandstand hostage-taking incident
[October 11, 2010]

The Executive Secretary (ES) and the Chief Presidential Legal Council (CPLC) have completed their review of the recommendations of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC).

The review was undertaken within three basic parameters:

First, the facts enumerated in the IIRC report; second, the possible criminal, and administrative sanctions that could be imposed under the law; third, whether the cases to be filed will prosper.

The Review also defines concepts such as reckless imprudence, simple imprudence, criminal negligence, neglect of duty, simple neglect of duty, gross incompetence, mistake in judgment, that are offenses under the law and punishable, if proven.

This having been done, I am ordering that the following actions be taken:

Refer to the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) the filing of appropriate charges against P/Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay for gross incompetence and serious neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);

Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against Police Director Leocadio Santiago Jr. for less grave neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);

Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against P/Supt. Orlando Yebra for neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);

Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against Police Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III for gross incompetence (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);

The initiation of administrative proceedings against Manila Mayor Alfreo Lim for misconduct in office and simple neglect (under Sec. 60 of the Local Government Code). His case will be referred to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for appropriate proceedings;

The initiation of administrative proceedings and investigation of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III by the Office of the President for neglect of duty and/or inefficiency in the performance of official duty (under Rule XIV, Sec. 22 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. 292 and other pertinent civil service laws, rules and regulations) and gross misconduct (under Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act);

Refer the IIRC Report to the House of Representatives for appropriate action in the case of Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez;
Instruct the Department of Justice to expedite the resolution of the serious disobedience and conspiracy in illegal detention cases currently lodged against SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza and to instruct the Manila Police District to file appropriate complaints for illegal possession of firearms and serious illegal detention as an accomplice of his brother Rolando Mendoza;

In the case of media, we view media as an effective partner in providing checks and balances, and to this end, allies in our goal of good governance. We will continue to champion freedom of the press as guaranteed in our Constitution. However, in this case, freedom was not tempered with appropriate responsibility in the behavior of Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo of RMN. Rogas interfered in the negotiations and effectively aided and supported the hostage taker by giving him a platform to air his demands. Tulfo, by his own admission, violated police instructions. Their behavior was irresponsible bordering on the criminal.

We understand that the major networks have taken action to discipline errant reporters and are reviewing and revising guidelines for coverage in emergency situations. These are encouraging signs that media is taking responsibility for its actions.

We expect this kind of unprofessional behavior not to be repeated again, or we could be compelled to ask Congress for appropriate regulations to protect the safety of the public, our security forces and media itself.

I have also admonished Secretary Robredo and Undersecretary Puno for failing to uphold the high standards of performance that I demand from them. I sat them down last night. The outcome was a commitment for more professionalism, starting with their acting as one.

I pledged from the very start that there would be accountability. The purpose of the Review was to find the viable legal actions which can be taken against the concerned parties.

In addition, as you know, we are taking steps to enhance our ability to respond to future crises.

We are redrafting the ten-year old Malacañang crisis manual written in the year 2000 to make it more responsive to not only hostage situations but other crises we may face in the future. We have also established a presidential situation room so that actions by the government in crisis situations can be more coordinated and swift. We’re also in the process of reviewing the capabilities of our security forces to see what may be done with regard to training and procurement of equipment.

I have also instructed that the recommendations of the IIRC and the review by the ES and CPLC be posted on the Official Gazette website, as promised.

Catanduanes most vulnerable to landslide, flood

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Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo
LEGAZPI CITY – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol has declared Catanduanes as the most susceptible area to landslide and flooding in Bicol.

Dr. Arlene Dayao, Chief Geosciences Division of MGB Bicol, said that the majority of island province’s area is landslide and flood-prone. Dayao emphasized that this is due to the “natural ground formation of the province” likewise the altered land use system in the area such as kaingin, deforestation among others.
“Presently MGB Bicol is in close coordination with municipal disaster management councils and local governments to heighten the public awareness on the geohazard risks that affected areas would be facing”, Dayao said.

She cautioned the local residents on possible incidents of landslide and flooding in identified areas stressing that when signs of apparent disaster loom they should automatically evacuate.
Meanwhile, MGB Bicol Regional Director Reynulfo Juan pinpointed at least 49 municipalities in the region at risk to landslide and flooding.

Among the critical areas in Albay includes Bacacay, Libon, Malilipot, Malinao, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo, Tiwi and Ligao; in Camarines Norte, Basud, Capalonga, Labo, Mercedes, Paracale, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Vicente and Sta. Elena; in Camarines Sur, Buhi, Caramoan, Garchitorena,Goa, Lagonoy, Libmanan, Lupi, Pasacao, Presentacion, Sagnay, Sipocot and Tinambac;

In Catanduanes, Bagamanoc, Baras, Bato, Caramoran, Gigmoto, Pandan, Panganiban and San Andres; in Masbate, Aroroy, Baleno, Mandaon, Milagros and Mobo; in Sorsogon; Bulan, Irosin, Juban, Magallanes, Matnog, Sta. Magdalena and Sorsogon City. (AS Araya/MAL)

First 100 days: Few sign of real reform

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Report kay Boss:President Aquino first 100 days. Malacanang Photo

Report kay Boss:President Aquino first 100 days. Malacanang Photo
IBON Commentary

The first 100 days of any administration are unique – this is the moment of transition from the old government, and the new administration is at the height of its optimism, trust and popularity. These are all vital political capital for reform.

What it does in the first 100 days is not necessarily final for the remaining six years and, to be sure, just so much can be realistically done in so short a time. Yet the first 100 days offer important insight into the character of the new administration and go far in establishing the directions of governance.

At this point, the new Aquino administration is showing few signs of conviction and a real reform agenda. It has not used its first 100 days to establish any real momentum for the economic and political reform that the country has long needed– belying its promise of real change.

In terms of national economic policy, the administration must aim for more democratic outcomes and more inclusive growth. But the Aquino administration’s economic directions are wanting; redistributive wealth and asset reforms have not been placed on its agenda, with a striking low priority for real land reform. Hacienda Luisita is perhaps the biggest missed opportunity of Pres. Aquino to underscore the sincerity of his administration in bringing about agrarian change and social justice; the administration has not put a stop to non-land-distributive methods such as the stock distribution option and continues to ignore the clamor of peasants for genuine land reform.

The US $434-million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant for the Philippines to fight corruption which was signed last Sept. 23 in the US as witnessed by Aquino and Hillary Clinton requires the Philippines to meet certain indicators such as open trade, economic freedom, good governance, adherence to human rights, etc. to continue receiving the ‘grant’. To qualify for support, recipient countries are required to implement neoliberal economic and political policies such as opening up the economy to foreign capital and minimizing government intervention. It must be pointed out that the MCC grant was negotiated and practically clinched during the Arroyo administration’s term. That it was officially signed under the Aquino government only highlights the fact that the US sees in the new government the perpetuation and even strengthening of national economic, political, and military policies that kowtow to US agenda at the expense of Philippine sovereignty. Moreover, projects under the MCC are criticized as part of military’s counterinsurgency campaign thereby shortcutting the process of achieving sustainable and lasting peace.

More alarming is the administration’s declaration that that it will pursue as many free trade agreements as possible – such as an EU-RP trade deal and the TransPacific Partnership with the US. Despite his track record of voting against the one-sided Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) when he was senator in 2008, Aquino is now pushing for similar and even potentially worse free trade agreements with other countries. The EU-RP trade deal, for instance, will even unavoidably be “WTO+” or entail commitments even far beyond those the country has already made in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Moreover, the US has made overtones on the need for Charter change (Cha-cha) if the Philippines is serious in pushing for free trade deals.

The proposed 2011 national government budget currently being deliberated in Congress demonstrates a lack of priority for the people’s fundamental needs: there are alarming cuts in the budgets for health and education (especially for state colleges and universities) and scant allocation for housing and local rice procurement. In contrast, the executive branch allotted a huge budget for defense and also to pump-prime private-public partnerships (PPPs), which Pres. Aquino has promised in his inaugural speech will be cost-free for the government. Lastly as in the past administrations, a huge portion of the proposed national budget is allotted for debt servicing.

Aquino, in a renewed bid to fast track financing, construction, and operation of vital government infrastructure, signed Executive Order (EO) No. 8 to attract foreign capital and give them guaranteed and almost unlimited opportunities to profit from the country’s infrastructure. The much-hyped yet not-so-novel PPP is unmindful of the country’s experience with privatization. Among others, the incessant rate hikes in utilities such as power and water as well as the looming increases in toll fees and MRT/LRT fare are bitter results of previous and current PPP initiatives.

Even as it promised not to impose new taxes, the Aquino administration has pushed for additional tax burden such as through collection of the 12% VAT on toll, which is supposedly allowed under the reformed value-added tax (RVAT) law but the previous Arroyo administration refused to implement. Its much-hyped campaign to run after tax evaders, which has supposedly netted some big fish, avoids confronting the largest local and foreign businesses. The Commission on Audit (COA) for instance, recently revealed that big foreign firms Shell and Chevron have not been paying due income taxes from its Malampaya operations. All these show that the administration continues to rely on regressive taxes that unduly burden the country’s poor while avoiding taxes on the rich.

Instead of a long-term, productive, and sustainable poverty alleviation program, Aquino continues Pres. Arroyo’s conditional cash transfers (CCT) program, which is a dole-out program that only tends to obscure the underlying reasons behind lack of access to education and health and overall poverty of the people. In the end, the CCT is a waste of resources, especially because it is funded by foreign debt, which will be repaid with interest.

Lastly, the hyped anti-corruption stance of the Aquino administration has yet to really manifest. There is no sense of determination nor urgency in going after former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her administration’s accumulated corruption charges and electoral fraud. The supposed anti-corruption drive also does not show in its revenue generation for the coming year, which remains poor.

The new administration has so far fell short in crafting concrete steps towards real change in its first 100 days. It is thus urgent for Pres. Aquino to immediately reveal his vision for the country, present a viable program for development, and prove that he has the ability to rally the people according to their genuine interests.

P-Noy bagsak sa unang ika-100 araw

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P-Noy 100 days: Mahigit tatlong libong Sorsoganon ang nagmartsa upang ipinawagan kay P-Noy na usigin si Arroyo sa mga kasalanan nito sa bayan. Photo by BICOLTODAY.com
P-Noy 100 days: Mahigit tatlong libong Sorsoganon ang nagmartsa upang ipinawagan kay P-Noy na usigin si Arroyo sa mga kasalanan nito sa bayan. Photo by BICOLTODAY.com

SORSOGON CITY – Bagsak ang ibinigay na grado ng mga Sorsoganon kay Presidente Benigno Aquino III sa kanyang unang isangdaang araw.

Sa pahayag ng Bagong Alyasang Makabayan Sorsogon napakanipis lang ng pagkakaiba ng gobyerno ni Aquino sa nagdaang administrasyon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Sinabi nito na napakalubha pa rin ng krisis sa kabuhayan ng bansa. Laganap pa rin ang kawalan ng trabaho, disempleo, tanggalan sa trabaho at patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin. Lublob pa rin sa mga panloob at panlabas na utang ang pamahalaan. Mayroon pa ring pampulitikang panunupil at pamamaslang, demolisyon sa mga maralitang komunidad, maliit na pondong inilalaan sa state universities and colleges (SUCs), jueteng payola, karumal-dumal na krimeng katulad ng Manila Hostage Crisis na kinasasangkutan ng mga pulis, at pagpapatuloy ng mga proyektong nakaangkla sa programang globalisasyon ng Estados Unidos.

Malinaw na hindi tinutugunan ng gobyernong Aquino ang mga kahilingan at adhikain ng mamamayan, kundi mananatiling sunud-sunuran ito sa utos at kagustuhan ng imperyalistang Estados Unidos, mga lokal na asendero at negosyanteng komprador, ayon pa sa Bayan.

Dinagdag pa ng Bayan-Sorsogon na patuloy din ang pananalasa ng mga pwersang panseguridad ng estado sa kanayunan at kalunsuran. Sa Bikol, nakapagtala na ang KARAPATAN ng labing-anim (16) na pampulitikang pamamaslang sa loob ng isang daang araw pa lamang ni Noynoy. Banta pa rin sa mamamayan ang ipinagpapatuloy na Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). Ang OBL ay ang kontra-insurhensyang programa ng rehimeng US-Arroyo na kumitil sa mahigit 1,200 aktibista at dahilan ng sapilitang pagkawala ng mahigit na 200. Wala man lang makabuluhang hakbang na ginawa ang gobyerno ni Aquino upang usigin si Gng. Arroyo sa mga kasuklam-suklam na krimen nito sa mamamayan.

Sa kabilang dako naman, sinabi ng Piston Land Coalition sa Sorsogon na Walang pagbabago sa kalagayang pang-ekonomiya ng mga tsuper at maliliit na opereytor sa unang isandaang araw ni Pangulong Aquino at walang malinaw na palatandaan na babaguhin ng nakaupong Pangulo ang mga patakarang pangtransportasyon na ipinatupad ng nagdaang administrasyon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Ayon sa kanila makailang beses nang nagtaas ang presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo mula nang maluklok sa pwesto si Pangulong Aquino. Ang dating P32 bawat litro ng krudo nang siya ay maupo ay PP35.05 na ngayon. Ang pagtaas na ito sa presyo ng krudo ay labis na kabawasan sa arawang kita ng mga drayber at maliliiit na opereytor at ng kanilang pamilya. Patuloy ding nagdaranas ang mga drayber at maliliit na operator sa hagupit ng DOTC Department Order (DO) 38 at 39 serye ng 2008 na ipinatupad noon pang nagdaang administrasyon ni Arroyo. Ang nabanggit na DO 39 ay nagtaas ng mga multang bayarin bilang kaparusahan sa mga paglabag sa batas-trapiko. Ito ay nagtaas ng multa mula sa 11% (hal. mula sa P450 ay naging P500 na multa sa paggamit ng behikulong walang plate number) hanggang 9900% (hal. mula sa P150 ay naging P15,000 bilang multa sa di-awtorisadong paggamit ng bell at sirena at exhaust whistle o depende sa nagawang paglabag) kung ihahambing sa mga multang bayarin na nakasaad sa DO 693-93.

Sinabi pa ng Piston na ang DO 39 ay itinago ng DOTC sa mga grupo at pederasyon ng transportasyon.

Ani’y nila ito’y hindi ipinadaan sa isang pampublikong konsultasyon ng mga apektadong sektor bago ito inilabas at ipinatupad. Noong Pebrero 2009 lang nang makahawak ang PISTON ng kopya ng DO 39 gayong ito pala ay pinagtibay ng DOTC noon pang Agosto 2008.

“Alam naming ito ay nagbibigay ng karagdagang dagok sa buhay at kita ng mga tsuper, maliliit na opereytor, konduktor ng mga dyipni, traysikel, bus, taksi at iba pang mga pampasadang sasakyan na ngayon nga ay labis nang nagpapasan ng bigat ng nararanasang krisis pang-ekonomiya. Maliban dito, may bayarin pang tulad ng EVAT, quarterly tax, yearly tax, road

users tax at iba pang mga bayarin na ipinapataw ng LTFRB at mga LGU’s sa bawat transaksyong ginagawa sa mga ahensyang ito. Walang hakbang na ginawa si P’noy upang ibsan ang mga pasaning ito”, pagtatapos ng Piston Sorsogon. (BICOLTODAY.com)

Cheap, clean geothermal energy enjoyed by other regions at expense of Albay – Salceda

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Bacon Manito Geothermal Plant. Contributed Photo

Bacon Manito Geothermal Plant. Contributed Photo
LEGAZPI CITY – Albay Gov. Joey Salceda expressed dismay over the benefits other provinces have been reaping from cheaper and clean electricity supplied by geothermal energy fields in Albay.

Salceda cited the Aboitiz Power Corp., an Independent Power Producer (IPP), has recently announced that it is already supplying energy to San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. in Pampanga.
He said “It is so unfair. Consumers of San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. are getting cheaper electricity from Albay.”

Salceda said that while other provinces are enjoying the geothermal resources from Albay, the province is currently enduring the spikes in power rates imposed by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC).

The Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) has to settle some P982 million in outstanding power bills with PEMC. For the electric cooperative to pay, the amount of P1.63 additional charge on the electric bills will be passed on to consumers as “PEMC debt recovery charges”.

According to Salceda, Aleco has been a “problem cooperative” for the past years due to debts from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corp. (PSALM) amounting P1.7 billion and with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) amounting to P180 million.
Salceda said that responsible for the mounting unsettled debts of the electric cooperative is the spikes in electricity rates imposed by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which according to him the PEMC is the operator of WESM.

He said the irony with it is what Albayanos get from supplying the country with cheap and clean energy – 330MW from Tiwi, Albay since 1976 although lower now at 160MW which the Aboitiz is now operating and by next year the Bacon-Manito (BacMan) would start operation with another 240MW power generation?

He added that the nationalization of the geothermal fields singlehandedly killed Albay tourism after the famous steam bath cubicles locally known as banyos were forced to close, as the natural steam it produces no longer exists.

Second, even if we strip out Aleco inefficiencies, power purchase costs are far higher at WESM and even a similar bilateral supply contract fetched higher costs for comparable volume, he pointed out.

Third, of course, what the province gets is the depletion of its geothermal reserves that deprives future generations of Albayanos of their benefit even as the past generation as well as the present only enjoyed the bragging rights of hosting such national treasure with hardly any financial claw back.

Salceda said he was informed that Aboitiz Power has started supplying San Fernando Electric in Pampanga with power from its Tiwi and MakBan geothermal facilities in Bicol and Laguna, respectively, on September 26.

San Fernando Electric will have Aboitiz Power as its exclusive energy supplier until December 25, 2012.

Salceda quoting a report from the San Fernando Electric Co., said the Aboitiz Power coming from Albay is sold at a cheaper price thus electric consumer in Pampanga pays less because there is no value-added tax imposed on renewable. (PNA / BICOLTODAY.com)

The First 100 Days Message of President Benigno S. Aquino III

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The First 100 Days Message of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Malacanang Photo

The First 100 Days Message of President Benigno S. Aquino III. Malacanang Photo

Message

of

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
On The First Hundred Days of his Administration
[October 7, 2010, La Consolacion College, Manila]

Maraming salamat po, maupo po ho tayong lahat.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, members of the Cabinet, our host led by Sister Imelda, honored guests, fellow workers in government, mga minamahal ko pong kababayan, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Ang basehan po ng demokrasya ay mayroon po tayong mga politiko na naglalahad ng kanilang plataporma. Ang nanalo po ay obligadong ipatupad ang platapormang ipinangako.

Isandaang araw po ang nakalipas, nagpanata ako sa taumbayan: Hindi ko tatalikuran ang tiwalang kaloob ninyo sa akin. Ang nakalipas na isandaang araw ang magsisilbing tanda ng ating pong paninindigan.

Malalim at malawak po ang mga problemang minana natin. Nag-ugat ito sa isang gobyernong parang tatlong matsing na nagbingi-bingihan, nagbulag-bulagan, at gumawa ng sariling katotohanan.

Mali po ito. Ngayon, mayroon na po kayong gobyernong handang makipag-usap at magsabi ng totoo; handang makinig sa makabuluhang usapan; handang iangat ang antas ng pampublikong diskurso ukol sa mga isyung makaaapekto sa ating lahat, at maging sa mga darating na henerasyon.

Ang natamasa po natin ngayong unang isandaang araw ng ating panunungkulan: Mayroon na po kayong gobyernong hindi kayo binabalewala o inaapi.

Bumalik na po ang kumpyansa sa ating bansa. Tumatatag ang ating ekonomiya, at dahil dito, lumalago ang kaban ng ating bayan. Ang lahat ng inani at aanihin pa natin mula sa pinatibay na ekonomiya ng ating bansa, ibinabalik naman natin sa taumbayan upang tuluyan na tayong makaahon sa kahirapan. Binibigyan natin ng katuturan ang paggastos. Walang pisong dapat nasasayang.

Halimbawa po ang mga itinalagang opisyal sa mga GOCC. Naroon po dapat sila para pangalagaan ang interes ng taumbayan. Noon pong nakaupo sila doon, nilabag nila ang Memorandum Order 20, na pinirmahan noon pang Hunyo 2001. Inatupag po nila ang sariling interes na nagdulot ng pinsala sa interes ng taumbayan: nakakuha sila ng kung anu-anong mga bonus at allowance.

Ipinatutupad naman po natin ang Executive Order No. 7 na nagsususpinde sa lahat ng pribilehiyong iyon. Idiniin lamang po natin ang dapat naipatupad pa noong 2001. Sa isang kumpanya lang po tulad ng MWSS, ang napigil nating mahulog sa bulsa ng bawat opisyal ay umaabot na sa dalawa’t kalahating milyong piso kada taon. Siyam po ang miyembro ng Board nila, at sa MWSS lamang po iyan. At ilan po ang mga GOCCs, GFIs, at mga ahensyang sakop ng EO No. 7? Isandaan, dalawampu’t dalawa (122) mga ahensya at kumpanya.

Nariyan din po ang nangyayari sa mga kontrata tulad sa NAIA 3. Isipin lang po natin, tatlong administrasyon na ang dinaanan nito. Pang-apat na kami. Tumagal na po nang husto ang kasong ito, may mga pinaslang pa dahil dito. Kundi dahil sa mga tapat na nagmamahal sa bansa tulad nina Justice Florentino Feliciano at Justice Meilou Sereno, baka wala na ring pinatunguhan ang kasong ito. Sila po ang mga tunay na bida sa kaso, ngunit death threats pa po ang ibinayad sa kanila. Tila ba nagkulang sa aruga ang nakaraang gobyerno. Ngayon pong alam nilang suportado sila ng mga kapwa nila nasa tuwid na landas, naresolba na po nila ang kontrata. Kung natalo po ang gobyerno natin rito, 990 million dollars ang nalagas sa ating mga pondo. 43.5 bilyong piso ang perang nailigtas nila at natin. Higit pa rito, mapapakinabangan na natin ang airport sa lalong madaling panahon.

Kung naaalala po ninyo, pinahinto natin itong negotiated contracts ng DPWH; pinarebid natin ito. Ginawa lang po natin kung ano ang tama, napigil na po natin ang paglustay ng 934.1 million pesos, at lumalabas na kung susunod tayo sa tamang proseso ay nasa 600 million pesos lang ang dapat gastusin sa mga proyektong ito. Nabalik po ang pera sa kaban ng bayan na kung pinahintulutan natin ang maling sistema ay natapon na naman sanang muli. Hindi lang po sa mga kalsada: sa DOTC, pinigil natin ang pagwaldas ng isang bilyong piso. Sa Department of Agriculture, 30 million at least ang natipid sa isang proyekto lang na bibili tayo ng spectrometer na gusto sanang doblehin ang presyo.

Doon po sa Department of National Defense, ang dinefend po ang pag-purchase ng mga helicopter na tila overspecified para paburan ang isang kumpanya lang. Sinisiyat ito. Itinabi na muna natin. Ang gastos na 3.6 billion ay hindi pa po nangyari.

Lahat po iyan naibalik natin sa kaban ng bayan.

Mayroon pa po. May proyektong inaprubahan ang dating administrasyon, huhukayin daw nila ang Laguna de Bay para palalimin ito. Ang sabi raw dadami ang isda. Mas makakaiwas daw sa baha. Mas madali daw makakaikot ang mga bangka at mga ferry service. Tatanggalin din ang pollutants doon sa Laguna de Bay. Ang tanong ko, saan ililipat ang lupang hinukay? Ang tatanggalin sa Laguna de Bay ay itatambak lang din pala sa ibang bahagi ng Laguna de Bay. At magkano naman po ang uutangin ng gobyerno para sa prebilihiyong ito? Konti lang daw po : 18.5 billion pesos lang naman po. At pareho rin ang kuwento: Tila hindi na naman dumaan sa tamang proseso ang pag-aapruba sa kontrata. Hindi natin dadaanin sa madaliang hokus-pokus ang proyektong ito. Pag-aaralan natin ito nang husto at sisiguraduhing hindi masasayang ang pondong gagamitin para rito.

Idadagdag ko lang po: ito po ay ni-review natin last week. Isipin po ninyo: hanggang ngayon, mayroon pa rin humihirit.

Napansin n’yo po ba, pati ‘yung weather forecasting gumanda? Napansin n’yo po ba na hindi na paulit-ulit ang mga mensahe ng PAGASA? Ngayon po, nakatutok na at mas malaman ang mga weather bulletin natin. Ang dating intermittent rainshowers across the country, ngayon, sasabihin na uulan sa ganitong lugar nang mga ganitong oras, delikadong lumabas para sa mangingisda at iba pa.

Tama po na hindi pa kumpleto ang equipment natin. Pero ngayong nagsimula na po tayong magtrabaho, kakaunti na lang ang kulang na kagamitan. Maling sistema at maling palakad ang nanligaw sa pagtataya ng panahon. Ang mga update dati na dumarating kada anim na oras, kada oras na ngayon kung dumating. Marami po tayong binago sa PAGASA, at kasama na po rito ang bulok na sistema.

Nakita naman po natin ang katakut-takot na problemang minana natin, pero hindi po tayo natinag. Naisaayos at naisasaayos na natin sa loob ng isandaang araw ang hindi nagawa ng dating administrasyon sa loob ng tatlong libo, apat na raan, apatnapu’t walong (3,448) araw.

Hininto na po natin ang pagkatagal-tagal na sistema kung saan itinuloy nang itinuloy ang mga proyekto na walang sumisiyasat kung angkop ba o kung may katuwiran ba ang mga ito. Isinulong po natin ang zero-based budgeting. Ang sabi po namin, isa-isahin natin iyan. Kung hindi po mapatunayang may saysay ka pa, tigil na ang ginugugol ng bansa sa iyo.

Ang mga Agriculture Input Subsidies na lalo lamang nagpapayaman sa mayayaman na habang binalewala ang mga mahihirap; ang mga programa tulad ng Kalayaang Barangay at Kilos-Asenso na hindi naman inilatag nang malinaw kung ano ang prosesong dinaanan, at kung saan napunta ang pera—inilipat po natin ang kanilang mga pondo tungo sa mga programang napatunayan nang makakatulong sa taumbayan.

Humigit-kumulang na 11 bilyong piso pa po ito na magagamit at mapapakinabangan nating lahat.

Sa edukasyon, kalusugan, at pag-ahon sa kahirapan po natin itinutok ang pondong natipid natin. Mula 175 billion pesos, umangat ang budget ng DepEd sa 207.3 billion pesos. Gugugulin po ito upang makabuo ng 13,147 na bagong classroom, at ng sampung libong bagong teaching positions. Sa DoH, umangat mula sa 29.3 billion pesos ang budget papuntang 33.3 billion, upang mapatatag ang unang-una, ang National Health Insurance Program. Sa DSWD, lagpas doble na po ang budget, galing 15.4 billion pesos papuntang 34.3 billion pesos.

Ang punto po natin dito: Walang maiiwan. Hindi po tayo papayag na yayaman ang iilan habang nalulunod sa kahirapan ang karamihan.

Kaya nga po natin pinatatag ang Conditional Cash Transfer Program. Salbabida po ito para sa mga nalulunod nating kababayan upang makapunta na sila sa pampang ng pagkakataon at pag-unlad. Lampas doble po ang bilang ng mga pamilyang matutulungan ng conditional cash transfers, mula isang milyong pamilya sa ngayon, tungo sa kabuuang 2.3 million na pamilya sa 2011.

Patuloy po ang ating tema ng pagbibigay ng lakas sa taumbayan. Dahil na rin po sa panunumbalik ng tiwala sa gobyerno, nabiyayaan ang KALAHI-CIDSS program ng dagdag na 59.1 million dollars—halos tatlong bilyong piso—mula sa World Bank. Sa programa pong ito, dadami pa ang komunidad na magkakaroon ng kuryente, kalsada, at malinis na tubig—mga proyektong ang taumbayan mismo ang nagpaplano at nagpapalakas.

Paulit-ulit po nating ididiin: trabaho ang pangunahing agenda ng ating administrasyon. At marami pong magandang balita ukol dito.

Ang papasok na pera sa ating bansa mula sa mga foreign investors ay aabot sa 2.4 billion dollars, at iyon ay pang-umpisa pa lamang. Direkta po itong magbibigay ng 43,600 na trabaho sa mga Pilipino. Simula pa lamang po iyan: Kung hindi natin sila padadaanin sa butas ng karayom, makukumbinsi pa po silang magnegosyo rito, at madadagdagan pa ang mga trabahong nalikha.

At manganganak pa po ng manganganak ang mga trabahong ito. Halimbawa, sa call center, kailangang panggabi ang trabaho. Kailangang magbukas ng kapihan, ng fastfood, ng mga convenience store. Hindi bababa sa dalawandaang libong bagong trabaho ang malilikha pa—kahit hindi ka marunong mag-computer, may pagkakataon ka sa dagdag na mga trabahong ito.

Trabaho din po ang idudulot ng mga Public-Private Partnerships na patuloy nating isinusulong. Nagtayo na po tayo ng PPP Center, kung saan ang mga gustong makilahok sa pagbabago ay mapapasailalim sa tapat, malinaw, at mabilis na proseso. Mula sa pagpapahaba ng mga LRT Lines, hanggang sa pagpapatayo ng bagong paliparan na tutulong sa turismo, hanggang sa mga eskuwelahan na itatayo sa buong sambayanan, magsisimula na po ang bidding para sa mga ito sa loob ng mga susunod na buwan.

Kinikilala na ng pandaigdigang merkado ang pagtatag ng piso. All-time high po ang ating Gross International Reserves na umabot na sa 52.3 billion dollars noong ika-dalawampu ng Setyembre. Ang dati-rati ay parang imposibleng maabot ng Philippine Stock Exchange Index na 4,000, nalampasan na po. Kahapon lamang po, all-time high na naman ang inabot ng ating Philippine Stock Exchange Index na umabot sa 4,196.73 points. Ipinapakita nito ang kumpiyansa sa ating ekonomiya sa ating mamamayan at sa atin pong pamahalaan. Kabilang na po ang ating PSE sa mga best-performing stock market sa buong Asya. At habang lumalakas ang piso at lumalago ang ekonomiya, steady lang naman po ang mga presyo ng ating mga bilihin. Handang-handa na po tayo talaga sa pag-unlad.

Lahat po ito nagawa natin dahil nakasandal ang gobyerno sa inyong tiwala. At umaapaw na rin po ang tiwalang iyan sa buong daigdig.

Dalawang ulit na pong nag-apply ang Pilipinas para sa Millenium Challenge Corporation Grant. Sa unang tatlong buwan lang po ng administrasyon natin napaaprubahan ito. Ang sa kanila lamang po, aminado silang hindi natin maiwawasto agad ang lahat ng problema, pero naniniwala silang patungo na tayo roon. Sabi nila, gusto namin kayong matulungan para maabot ang inyong mga pinapangarap, heto ang 430 million dollars.

Ididiin ko lang po: dalawang beses nag-apply, ni-reject sa loob nang hindi bababa sa siyam na taon, tayo po sa tatlong buwan, inaprubahan.

Pati po ang mga international organization tulad ng OECD, tinanggal na tayo sa listahan ng mga bansang kumukupkop ng mga tax evader. Maaari na tayong makakuha ng impormasyon na makakatulong sa paghuhuli sa mga tax evader na isinasagawa ng BIR.

Dahil na rin po sa panibagong tiwalang nangingibabaw sa pamahalaan, dumadami ang mga tumutulong sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng mga tip tungkol sa katiwalian. Sumasaksi sila sa maling pangyayari, para makatulong sa ating paghahabol ng demanda. Halimbawa, sa bagong-tayo na Pera ng Bayan website, isa-isa nang lumilitaw ang mga taong makatutulong sa atin upang tugisin ang mga smuggler at tax evader.

Ibinabalik ng mga hakbang na ito ang kumpiyansa ng daigdig sa Pilipinas. Nagkakaisa nang muli ang ating lipunan, at ang nanatili na lang na parang sirang-plaka na paulit-ulit ang reklamo ay ang mga gustong manumbalik sa poder upang ituloy ang kanilang ligaya na nagmumula sa ating pagkakaapi.

Sila na nga ang nagdulot sa atin ng mga problemang pinapasan natin ngayon, sila pa ang may ganang bumanat nang bumanat sa atin. Papansinin ba ninyo sila? Magpapalinlang ba kayong muli?

Hindi po kami nagbibiro sa pagtahak sa tuwid na landas. Kayong mga mali ang palakad at pinipinsala ang mga kababayan natin, ginagarantiya ko sa inyo: may taning kayong lahat.

Ito pong mga problemang pinangako nating solusyonan, tatlong buwan pa lang nakikita na ninyong nabubuo ang solusyon. At ang inyong tiwala po ang pundasyon ng lahat ng ating naabot sa loob lamang nitong tatlong buwan ng ating panunungkulan.

Mula pa noong kampanya, ibinato na po sa atin ang lahat ng puwedeng ibato sa loob at labas ng Revised Penal Code. Pati po ang buhok ko ginawa nilang isyu. Palagay ko ho dahil siguro binata pa tayo, hindi na tayo binigyan ng honeymoon. Payag po si Sister Imelda diyan. Gusto talaga tayong gibain ng mga taong nais mapanatili ang lumang sistema, kung saan para silang mga dambuhalang buwayang nagpapakasasa sa kaban ng bayan.

Binabatikos lang naman po tayo dahil may iilan na naghahanap ng paraan para magpatuloy ang siklo ng mali. Alam din naman po nila ang tama, hindi pa nila maatim gawin. Mayroon po talagang mga nag-aambisyon na makabalik sa poder, nag-aambisyon na panatilihin ang sistemang sila lang ang nakikinabang, mga kapit-tuko sa puwesto na nakikinabang sa lumang sistema—mga taong gusto lamang ituloy ang kanilang ligaya, habang binabalewala naman ang sakripisyo ng taumbayan.

At tayo naman po: tuloy na tuloy ang laban. Hindi po tayo titigil.

Kung mayroon po tayong pagkukulang, ito marahil ay ang hindi nating naging kaugalian na ipamalita ang mga tagumpay na atin pong nakamit. Mas binigyan nating halaga ang paghahanap ng mga paraan na makatutulong sa ating mga kababayan. Kitang-kita naman po ng taumbayan ang resulta ng ating pagtatrabaho. Talagang nakagagalak ng puso itong satisfaction rating na seventy one percent. Natural po, sa inyo ang tagumpay na ito—sa bawat Pilipinong nagtitiwala at nakikilahok sa ating agenda ng pagbabago.

Ang patuloy ko pong panata: Hindi tayo titigil. Habang dumarami tayo sa tuwid na landas, dumadali naman po ang tungkulin nating itama ang mali.

Hinding-hindi po tayo titigil sa tuwid na landas. Unti-unti na pong natutupad ang ating mga pangarap.

Maraming salamat po. Magandang umaga sa lahat.

Aquino’s first 100 days: No major achievements, no meaningful change, lots of failed promises

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Renato M. Reyes, Jr., BAYAN secretary general. Contributed Photo
Renato M. Reyes, Jr., BAYAN secretary general. Contributed Photo

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The first 100 days of the Aquino government were marked by the continuation of many of the policies of previous governments, the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation and the failure to make any headway in the prosecution of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In his Ulat sa Bayan, President Benigno Aquino III again did not address crucial issues such as human rights violations, the prosecution of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her cohorts, land reform, migrants welfare and the plight of other marginalized sectors. The 20-minute speech was big on rhetoric but falls short of actual meaningful results.

Aquino’s superficial efforts to make himself appear different from Arroyo cannot cover-up the lack of any meaningful reforms in his government. He gets failing marks in many key areas of governance such as justice, human rights, economic reform and foreign policy.

The Aquino government finds comfort in survey results which it believes are unusually high. History however has shown that even the most optimistic survey results are fleeting if there are no fundamental changes in place. Former presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada during their first 100 days had higher scores than Aquino but both ended up as very unpopular regimes.

The president’s first 100 days saw the following developments:

1. The failure to hold Arroyo and her cohorts accountable for gross corruption, human rights violations, and sell-out of national interests. Despite the formation of the so-called Truth Commission, no charges have been filed by the Aquino government against the former president. The TC in fact has slowed down the process of accountability. Even the Department of Justice cannot conduct its own investigations because it will have to defer to the TC. Aquino has gone after some tax-evaders and over-paid officials of the past government, but it has miserable failed to make any headway against GMA.

2. Human rights violations continue with impunity throughout the country. There are now 16 activists who have become victims of extrajudicial killings during Aquino’s first 100 days. There are continuing reports of harassment, abductions, illegal arrests, trumped up charges and torture aimed at critics of government. There have been no charges filed against the known human rights violators of the Arroyo regime. The Aquino government, despite the abuses of the past, has continued the bloody counter-insurgency policy of its predecessor.

3. Aquino has continued the failed neo-liberal economic policies of past governments. Like his predecessors, Aquino has relied on foreign investments, foreign loans and OFW remittances to prop up the ailing economy. He has not shown any plan for genuine land reform and national industrialization as basic requirements for national development. Aquino has slashed the budget for social services (education, health) and plans to impose added burdens on the people such as the MRT fare hike. He has made “conditional cash transfer” (read: dole-out) as the centerpiece program in addressing, nay covering up poverty.

4. The current government has remained subservient to foreign dictates. It has not delivered on its promise of reviewing the VFA. It has expressed unqualified support for the US war on terror and US intervention in Southeast Asia. It has not protested the indefinite stay of US troops in Mindanao.

5. The Aquino government is wracked by internal squabbles and intensifying rifts between different reactionary factions. These warring factions out to corner the spoils of power have severely hampered the functions of government. Aquino remains indecisive in addressing this reality as evidenced by his stubborn refusal to fire his friend and shooting-buddy DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno.

With the current state of affairs, the people must rely on their own strengths, initiatives and struggles in achieving justice and meaningful change.

Groups dismayed over Aquino’s performance on key environmental issues

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Illegal logging in Mindanao. Contributed Photo

Illegal logging in Mindanao. Contributed Photo
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Another sector gives the President Noynoy Aquino a failing mark. The performance of President Aquino in his first 100 days in Malacanang, dismayed environmental activists groups saying President Aquino failed to meaningfully initiate and act decisively to protect the Philippine ecosystem.

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) revealed that they were expecting from the new Aquino administration to differ in approach from the previous Arroyo administration and reverse the policies that run counter to environmental protection and conservation, however this has not been fulfilled.

“In the first three months, President Aquino was unable to provide a clear and comprehensive environmental agenda on how the government will rehabilitate the local ecosystems and reverse the environmental degradation in the country. He even did not fulfill the positive promises he set out during his campaign,” said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan PNE.

During the Presidential campaign period, Aquino promised to review all current mining projects in the country and to designate a genuine environmental advocate as secretary of the Department Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR).

The group noted that, contrary to his promise, no single mining project were reviewed up to this date and even the even the so-called midnight mining deals that were dubiously approved few months before Arroyo stepped down from Malacanang were not investigated by the new administration.

In the last few months of President Arroyo, the DENR approved 13 Exploration Permit (EP), 21 Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), and 2 Financial and Technical Sharing Agreement (FTAA) from April 29, 2010 to June 29, 2010.

Some of these shady deals include the mining concessions given to Canadian mining company MBMI Resources Inc. (MBMI) and Altamira Exploration and resources, Inc. that cover a total of 19,000 hectares of land in the pristine environment of Palawan province. Also MPSAs covering 53,624 hectares of offshore area in Cagayan province were given to four foreign and private corporations in June 9, 2010. None of these mining projects were investigated.

“Another indication of Aquino’s anti-environment orientation is the appointment of Ramon Paje, former Executive Director of Mining Development Council (MDC) and Presidential Adviser on Mining, as secretary of the DENR.” said Bautista.

One of top architects of mining liberalization of the previous Arroyo administration, Sec. Paje led in the promotion of large-scale mining in the country. He is the number one man of the previous government through the MDC in convincing and lobbying local government units to allow mining projects in their area.

One of the actions of Sec. Paje, as instructed by the President Aquino, is urge the provincial government of South Cotabato to reverse the Environment Code declaring the ban of open pit mining technology in the province.

The Environment Code, which was passed to protect the environment and agriculture in South Cotabato, is seen as a hindrance to the biggest mining investment of foreign-back Sagittarius Mines Inc. to develop the Tampakan project in Far South Mindanao Region.

“On the aspect of climate change issue, President Aquino’s pronouncement that he will focus on climate mitigation instead of climate adaptation is worrisome. This is maybe one of the factors why measures on increasing the capacity and capability of the government and local communities on how to cope with global warming effects such as stronger and more frequent typhoons and longer droughts are almost non-existent. Until now, the country is still reeling from water shortage,” added by Meggie Nolasco, spokesperson of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance.

In a statement, Defend Patrimony Alliance, a multisectoral alliance in defense of natural resources, reported that the new administration also failed on environmental justice issue.

According to Defend Patrimony, human rights violations and threats to the safety of environmental advocates still persist under the Aquino administration. Only this year, the cases of the 5 environmental activists have been killed and 1 failed assassination, have not been investigated or even denounced by President Aquino. There are a total of 33 environmental activists killed since 2001.

The group said that President Aquino also kept mum on the issue of toxic contamination and deaths in the former US military bases in the Philippines when he recently met with US President Barak Obama.

“This early on, based on the actions of President Aquino and his lack of response to other pressing environmental issues such as climate change and commercial logging, we have observed that the Aquino Administration is just continuing the old liberalization policies, programs, and projects of the environmentally destructive Arroyo Administration,” ended Bautista.