President Noynoy Aquino’s 4th SONA: No transformative changes

President Benigno Aquino III addresses before the Congress, 22 July 2013.

President Benigno Aquino III addresses before the Congress, 22 July 2013. (Courtesy of Rappler)

President Benigno Aquino III delivered his State of the Nation address for the fourth time in his presidency. His SONA was significant in the first place as his administration is passing the midway of its term that is scheduled to end on 30 June 2016 and also, it was the opening of the new 16th Congress.

Since it is in the midpoint of his 6-year term, the people or boss in his own words, have been expecting a lot of transformative changes in our country for the past three years under his watch. Ordinary people may have different opinions in his policies, but there’s a common thing which is whether he delivered or not.

As I watched his State of the Nation Address at the Law Building of the University of San Carlos amidst of my asthmatic condition right now, there might be phrases that the president uttered that really made sense like saying that he cannot transform the country within his six-year term, which is impossible as far as our economic and political climate are concerned, but just like in his three previous SONAs, I cannot avoid to criticize his manner of blaming some of his shortcomings in his administration to his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I think for the past three years of his term, any shortcomings of his administration are now the fault of him and his team, not the predecessor one.

As I expected, he never mentioned any drastic and yet, long-term transformative changes for our country like revising our 1987 constitution to cure our economic and political systems shortfalls that are no longer compatible to our fast-evolving globalized world as he has to pander the interests of few business and political elites who brought his mother and him to the presidency. Though he mentioned some initiatives to be tacked in his administration like crafting a Basic Law for the proposed Bangamoro, amending the SSS pension scheme system, passing the Cabotage Law, Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill, Land Administration Reform Bill, P2.268-trillion National Budget for 2014, addressing chronic power shortage in Mindanao, dividing his family-owned Hacienda Luisita to beneficiaries by September, and many more, but those initiatives that the administration want to address are insufficient at its best to achieve of what he want, transformative changes.

What I would like to advise to our president is that he should capitalize his political advantage at this point of time to initiate structural changes to our economic and political system that would have positive impact to the lives of our future Filipinos and have him to stop listening leftist and oligarch lobbies of preserving the current status-quo that has not uplift the lives of our people from poverty while this people kept complaining whosoever in power and profiting the semi-monopolistic economic system thanks to the 1987 constitution. I hope the president will read and listen to my advice and if not, history will judge you.

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Maria Lourdes Sereno is the new Chief Justice

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is expected to led the Supreme Court for the next 18 years.

Yesterday, after months of screening and public interviews on who should be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court due to the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona during the impeachment trial, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino appoints Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as the replacement of the deposed Renato Corona.

Her appointment yesterday has significance as she is the first female to hold the highest post of the judiciary branch of our government, the position of Chief Justice and expected to hold the position until she reach the age of retirement of 70 on 2 July 2030.

When I heard the news that she was appointed, I was not surprised as Chief Justice Sereno was one of the favorites of the President to replace the deposed Renato Corona as Chief Justice and aside from that, Chief Justice Sereno was the first appointee to the Supreme Court (SC) by President Noynoy Aquino and her votes in Supreme Court when she was an ordinary Justice was in favor of the interest of the Cojuangco family, maternal family of Noynoy Aquino, when she positioned that the valuation the government should pay to the Cojuangco family should be in 2006 price not the 1989 as ruled by the majority of the Justices in 2011 regarding the just compensation payments by the government to the Cojuangco in order the lands of the Hacienda Luisita to be redistributed.

Also, she was the one of the Justices who barred the former President and now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from traveling abroad for medical treatment in Europe on which was contrary to the constitutional right of a person to travel anywhere else unless convicted with final judgment by any courts on which Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was yet to be judged with final judgment.

I hope that our new Chief Justice should show not only her independence but also the entire Supreme Court’s independence from the coercion of the executive branch.

CJ Renato Corona’s rebuttal before the impeachment court

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Renato Corona testify as a witness before the Impeachment Court.

Last Tuesday, the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona testify himself as a witness before the Impeachment Court. His testimony or rebuttal takes more than a hour to clear his name from falsified accusations being stoned to him by the prosecution. He states on his testimony that the administration of Noynoy Aquino uses their available resources to put down him. He states that we must not believe that this Impeachment Court is against corruption because of being somewhat tolerant of the prosecution’s fraudulent ways of presenting the evidences.

He states also that his impeachment is based mostly in hatred and vengeance by a single person (he refers to the President Noynoy Aquino). He condemned on what he considered as partisan politics as this administration tends to in favor to their close friends and benefactors during last election season in terms of making appointments in certain government positions.

Also in a part on his testimony, the Chief Justice condemned a certain senator who naked him in front to the public. He condemned his critics on being a suspicious of his wealth that being generated for many years as a practicing private lawyer before he entered in the government in late 90s and states that his wealth was gained through hard works. He states also that his life is rather simple and doesn’t have a maid in their house.

He condemned the prosecution team of butchering the Constitution to destroy his life and his family like presenting a forged and fabricated evidences or using black propaganda before the media.

He also states that the Supreme Court’s decision to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita last November was the reason of his impeachment (confirms my suspicion that his impeachment was because of that decision) as the timing of his impeachment coincides the HL’s decision.

He also states the irrelevant Basa-Guidote properties also nothing to do with him and never invested it contrary on what the prosecutors and the Basa family states.

He also condemned that the alleged 45 properties named to him as a fraud. He states that he only owns 5 properties named to him. He states also that he has no properties abroad contrary to what a journalist says and considered her as a liar.

He also condemned that he has 82 bank accounts with the total worth of $12 million as a fraud also. He states that he has only 4 bank accounts named to him and only amounted to $2.4 million. He also condemned the AMLC report presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales as an unauthenticated and consider her testimony as a misinterpretation.

He also signed a wavier to open his dollar account to the senator-judges with a condition that the 188 representatives and a senator will sign it first to open their dollar account to the public.

Before the cross-examination by the defense to CJ, he suddenly left the witness stand therefore the Session Hall of the Senate as he cannot take the stress of more than a hour to refute the case of the prosecution and suffered a low blood pressure or hypoglycemia. Many critics considers as a “walk-out” but that was not the case as CJ Renato Corona returns to the Session Hall with a wheelchair and states through his defense lawyer, Serafin Cuevas to return to testify by Friday which the CJ did.

Well, his testimonies confirms on what my suspicions the cause of his impeachment that is to maintain the ownership of the Hacienda Luisita by the accuser, the Cojuangco family through Noynoy Aquino. I also believe that the evidences stoned to him by the prosecution are just baseless, unrealistic, and fabricated just to vilify the Chief Justice because he was just an appointee of the previous administration.  I also believe that those to accused him maliciously of owning a 82 dollar accounts to sign the waiver and show their dollar accounts to the public to be fair. I believe also that the entire impeachment trial is railroaded by this administration in order to achieve what they wanted, the total control of all branches of the government.

In the end of the day, the Rule of Law shall prevail in the verdict this coming Tuesday by the Senator-Judges not their respective political survival this coming 2013 and 2016 elections. If they abide with their political survival, our country would be going to the path of the dicatatorship.

The Supreme Court orders to compensate the Cojuangcos according to 1989 price

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld its November 2011 decision that just compensation for Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province should be pegged on the value of the estate in 1989, and not on a higher valuation based on 2006 prices sought by the Cojuangco family, owners of the sugar plantation.

The high court’s final and executory ruling did not encompass an actual price for the sugar estate, but militants placed the 1989 value of the 4,335-hectare Hacienda Luisita at P173 million.

SC Administrator Justice Midas Marquez said the 8-6 vote settled the issue of which property valuation to use–1989 or 2006–in paying the Cojuangcos for distributing the plantation to its 6,000 tenant farmers.

It was not an open-ended decision that would have given the Department of Agrarian Reform or a special agrarian court the final say on the issue of just compensation for the Cojuangcos, he said.

For me, this latest decision gives the Hacienda Luisita farmers their long-awaited justice of owning the land that should have been theirs a years ago but the owners, the Cojuangco family constantly disobey the agreement with the government of redistributing the Hacienda Luisita way back in 1968 when the Cojuangco family through Ninoy Aquino managed to maintain the Hacienda Luisita’s control to theirs in spite of an agreement ten years earlier. In 1980, Ferdinand Marcos ordered to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita but it was never materialized because of opposition from the Jose Cojuangco’s family side through Ninoy Aquino (his wife was a daughter of Jose Cojuangco, Sr.) then EDSA I Revolution came in 1986 that propelled Cory Aquino to the presidency. In 1987, a year after the EDSA I, some Hacienda Luisita farmers stromed into Mendiola in a protest with the simple goal of redistributing the Hacienda, but what happened? some of them were massacred by the police forces who guarded the Mendiola Bridge to prevent any protesters to strom Malacañang directly. That massacre haunted Cory Aquino’s reputation as a savior of all Filipinos forever and forces her to enact a watered down “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” in 1988.

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program exempt the entire Hacienda Luisita from redistribution to the farmers by enacting and applying the option of “Stock Distribution Option” on which according to that provision, the farmers can own or have a part in Hacienda Luisita as stock holders however that’s not enough and in fact in spite of that, the Cojuangco family still considers them as a serf instead of a stock holder like in a typical business establishments as the Cojuangco family maintains the tight grip on ownership of the Hacienda.

Because of increasing poverty especially in the areas of Hacienda Luisita, the farmers decided to make a protest again to hear their plea for total ownership of a land they cultivated for many years in 2004 but what happened? like in Mendiola Massacre, 17 years earlier, some of the farmers were massacred allegedly with the direct order of the Cojuangco family. They were dispersed but their fight never stopped but instead that massacre encourage them to fight more for justifiable land distribution.

In November 2011, the Supreme Court ordered to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita once and for all with unanimous decision among the justices but it was not a final and executory. However, that decision seems to be unacceptable for the Cojuangco family of course as one of the members of their family, through the president Noynoy Aquino initiated a demolition job of destroying the pillar and integrity of the Supreme Court by impeaching the Chief Justice, Renato C. Corona with the alleged charges of unexplained wealth while he’s the Chief Justice and even before he took that position.

I hope that justice will be served once and for all and both sides should follow the Rule of Law whether the farmers or the Cojuangco family for the betterment of this country.