EDITORIAL - Sore losers

8:23 PM

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In record time, the Commission on Elections proclaimed the other day nine of the 12 candidates who have won Senate seats. The nine, whose votes were tallied from precincts all over the country, are from different political parties. Neither the candidates nor their parties are complaining about electronic cheating, missing flash cards, disenfranchisement of their supporters, and human or mechanical errors.

Comelec officials have also proclaimed most of the winners in the local races. In the presidential race, the two candidates who were rumored before the elections to become the beneficiaries of an administration-engineered “automated Garci” - Sen. Manuel Villar and former defense chief Gilbert Teodoro - were the first to concede to Sen. Benigno Aquino III, whose wide winning margin was announced by Comelec Chairman Jose Melo. Aquino also emerged the winner in exit polls conducted by both Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, with Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay coming out as the likely winner, although by a narrower margin, in the vice-presidential race.
A day after the elections, the verdict was out: poll automation, despite glitches, was a success. Several foreign governments and international observers congratulated the country and the Comelec. The equally unprecedented gracious concession of Villar and Teodoro, together with the rapid proclamation of local candidates, contributed to post-election stability.

But old habits die hard, and certain quarters - mainly losing camps - are threatening to create trouble by using the smallest glitch to stop their rivals from assuming office. As the long wait to vote showed, the country’s experiment with poll automation was not perfect. The Comelec admitted human error and mechanical glitches in tallying. Violence and vote buying marred the process in some areas. The congressional calendar for canvassing is also out of sync with the digital age.
Every problem must be examined to prevent a repeat in the next elections. Candidates who are losing by narrow margins also have a right to keep the vote tally under close scrutiny. But accusations of cheating and questions about the credibility of the vote must be backed by evidence. Speaker Prospero Nograles, who has lost to his political nemesis in Davao, is threatening to conduct a House audit of the vote. The congressional canvassing cannot be prolonged for personal motives.
Without evidence, complaints of cheating are nothing but sour grapes. Sore losers are showing why they didn’t deserve to win in the first place.

source: (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

Noynoy may need to form new political alliances

7:36 PM

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The opposition will likely lead both houses of Congress under a Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III presidency unless he manages to form new alliances with his power over pork barrel allocations, according to lawmakers.

Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., the defeated presidential candidate, is certain to get back his post as Senate president, and President-turned-Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will possibly become Speaker of the House of Representatives, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Santiago said in an interview over dzBB radio Sunday that Villar had the “numbers” to regain the Senate presidency, while Ms Arroyo, being a shrewd leader, may just clinch the House leadership.

But she said that Ms Arroyo could only be the next Speaker if her alliances would hold.

“You know politics. Even if they (Arroyo’s allies) belong to parties against Aquino, the minute he is proclaimed as president, they would change parties because you get so many benefits under a sitting president,” Santiago said.

Ms Arroyo last week retook the chairmanship of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party and her advisers said the party was determined in fielding her for the House speakership.

Santiago said she had recently spoken to Villar and he “seemed interested” in taking back the Senate leadership occupied by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

She said over 10 senators who would likely vote for Villar, including, those like herself, were Pia Cayetano and Ramon Revilla Jr. who ran under Villar’s Nacionalista Party, and supporters Lito Lapid, Alan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Joker Arroyo and Gregorio Honasan.

No happy days ahead

Santiago said that with the opposition in control in Congress, Aquino would have a hard time pushing his legislative agenda. She added that those close to Aquino also would have difficulty committing graft and corruption.

“I myself am not raising any doubt on his honesty and integrity, but I do entertain very serious doubts about the honesty of some people (around Aquino),” she said, adding it was wrong to think that “happy days are here again.”

“Oh no, that cannot happen because Congress would be watching them,” she said.

Santiago said it would soon be known if these people were really sincere “in putting President Aquino as the embodiment of the ideals represented by his father and mother.”

Apparently speaking about former Cabinet officials who left Ms Arroyo during the “Hello Garci” scandal of 2005, Santiago also said these people around Aquino sought Ms Arroyo’s resignation because they could not get what they wanted from her.

“If they left President Arroyo, we will know if they also would leave President Aquino if they realize that they will not get what they want from him,” she said.

“I’m very sorry to give them the bad news: Guys, you are not going to get rich this time,” Santiago said.

Arroyo asked to unify party

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that a core base of supporters of Ms Arroyo, who won a seat in the second district of Pampanga, had sent a manifesto to be signed by members asking her to unify the party and make a bid for the speakership.

“We believe that only the President can unite the party,” Suarez said. “Although she has not declared whether she wants to run for Speaker or not, we are confident that if we can promise to give her the winners to win, she will go for it.”

With 109 members in the House and about a dozen more likely to be added after the winners of the party-list votes have been proclaimed, Suarez said the Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition could remain dominant with an ability to impeach the President to counter the Chief Executive’s power over pork barrel releases.

Everything is fluid

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., however, felt that the majority of the House members were not inclined to be “confrontational” in the 15th Congress, considering that they have their constituents to consider for their pork barrel allocations.

“We are keeping our options open. Everything is fluid right now, what is important is that the party will stick together because we are stronger if we work as one party rather individuals,” Barzaga said.

Based on initial estimates, the Liberal Party, which has declared incoming Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as its candidate for Speaker, has a core base of 44 members in the House with the Nationalist People’s Coalition getting 30 and the Nacionalista Party with 23.

But Florencio “Butch” Abad, a top Liberal Party official, declared that the battle for speakership was virtually over with Belmonte securing the votes (roughly 140) needed to install him as Speaker.

“We believe that members of other parties have realized that it was better to coalesce with us than to be with the opposition,” Abad said.

“It’s too early to say how the leadership issues will be resolved in both houses,” said LP Sen. Francis Pangilinan. “Congress doesn’t convene until the third week of July. A lot can and will happen between now and then.”

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

joel sumadic


Aquino posts double-digit lead in survey as Villar continues to stall

12:06 AM

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Liberal Party standard-bearer Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's lead over Nacionalista Party candidate Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr. widened to double digits three weeks before the presidential elections, a Social Weather Stations survey, as reported by BusinessWorld, showed.
Aquino's lead over Villar increased from nine points last month to 12 points in the survey conducted from April 16 to 19, owing to the former's single-point gain to 38 percent, and the latter's two point-drop to 26 percent.
Based on the voter turnout of 77 percent in the 2004 presidential election, Aquino would have won by some 4.7 million votes over Nacionalista Party candidate Sen. Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr. had the presidential election been held in the third week of April.
Aquino would have garnered 14.8 million votes of the 39 million votes cast (77 percent of the 50.7 registered voters) and Villar 10.2 million.
Black propaganda launched against him by the camp of Villar, ranging from a bogus psychiatric report to a fake epileptic attack, have backfired on the the NP candidate, the LP standard-bearer said.
Aquino said the survey results showed that his core base of supporters had "solidified" behind him as they felt that their candidate had been attacked "below the belt."
That Villar's ratings have been falling showed that some of his core supporters did not agree with his negative campaign style, Aquino added.
Deposed President Joseph Estrada remained in third place with 17 percent (down two points). He was followed by former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (9 percent, up 3 points), Senator Richard Gordon (2 percent, down one point) and evangelist Eduardo Villanueva (2 percent).
Senator Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas and John Carlos "JC" de los Reyes did not get more than half a percent each.
In terms of votes, Estrada would have gotten 6.6 million; Teodoro, 3.5 million; Gordon and Villanueva, about 780,800 each; Madrigal, 117,000; and Perlas and De los Reyes - 78,000 each.
A total of 2,400 registered voters participated in the survey, which asked them who they would vote for by filling out ballots. The survey had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
Aquino did not have much of a headstart in February, when the election period started. In a February 24 to 28 SWS survey, he was ahead of Villar by only two points (36 percent versus 34 percent), practically a statistical tie because the margin of error was 2 percentage points.
The LP presidential candidate's ratings have barely changed since—37 percent in March and 38 percent this month.
But Villar's consistently dropping ratings (from 34 percent in February and 28 percent in March to 26 percent this month) have given Aquino a considerable lead.
In the latest survey, Aquino led in all geographic areas and socioeconomic classes.
Aquino's lead over Villar was most pronounced among members of class ABC (31 points), where the former got the support of 53 percent and the latter, 22 percent.
Aquino was ahead by 13 points (38 versus 25 percent) even in the "masa" class D. The only category where he did not have a double-digit lead over Villar was in class E, where he only had a single-point lead at 32 percent.
Six percent of respondents were undecided about their presidential preference. The category includes those who supported disqualified candidate Vetellano Acosta and those who submitted unreadable responses.
Meanwhile, Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas III remained the top contender for the vice-presidency, while Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay climbed up to second place in a statistical tie with Senator Loren Legarda, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey.
Of the 2,400 registered voters surveyed from April 16 to 19, a total of 39 percent said they would vote Roxas for vice president if elections were held at the time. This is a three-point drop from his March rating.
Support for Roxas has been declining since December 2009, but he maintains a considerable lead over his rivals.
Meanwhile, Binay gained four points to 25 percent, placing him in second place with Legarda, who lost a point to 24 percent, given the survey's sampling error margin of plus-or-minus two percentage points.
Binay's ratings have been on the rise since December, while Legarda's have been dropping.
The remaining vice presidential candidates' ratings are as follows: 3 percent for former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando, 2 percent for Edu Manzano, 1 percent for Perfecto Yasay, and less than half a percent each for Dominador Chipeco and Jose "Jay" Sonza.

Source:Philippine Daily Inquirer

joel sumadic

Gov’t didn’t lose single peso—Villar

10:58 PM

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MANILA, Philippines – The government has not lost a single peso and in fact even earned more than P100 million pesos in tax from the sale of the shares of his real estate firm, Senator and presidential candidate Manny Villar said on Friday.
"Nililiwanag ko lang, walang nawawala sa gobyerno maski piso [I would like to make clear that the government did not lose a single peso]. This is a private transaction sa mga funders investors at ng kompanya [of the funders, investors, and of the company]," said Villar at a press conference in his office in Manadaluyong.
"Ang gobyerno natin ay kumita pa dahil nagbayad kami ng tax [In fact, our government even profited because we paid tax]. I think more or less P120 million ang ibinayad ng kompanya [was paid to the company]," he said.
"So nakinabang ang bayan, nakinabang ang bayan dito. Kumita ang PSE sa fee [So the country profited, the country profited here. The PSE profited from fees]," he added.
This was how the senator defended himself from accusations that he had used his position as then Senate President to pressure the Philippine Stock Exchange to bend its rules and allow the release of almost 30 percent of his shares in his Vista Land Landscapes Inc (VLL) from the lock-up period.
Villar vehemently denied the allegation.
"Walang masamang nangyari, walang irregularity, walang na-violate na batas [Nothing wrong happened, no irregularity, no law was violated]," he pointed out.
In fact, he said, his one and only request to allow the release of VLL's shares from the lock-up period was rejected by the PSE.
If indeed there was truth to allegations that he influenced the PSE, Villar said his request would have not been rejected.
The senator did not deny meeting and making phone calls with Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Fe Barin and PSE president Francis Lim but said all these were just "normal."
Asked if there was conflict of interest since he was then Senate President and was representing his company to the PSE, Villar said, "Hindi naman [Not really]."
"Normal naman na pumunta sa PSE [It’s normal to go to PSE]. Magtatanong anong balita [To ask what the news is]. Na-disapproved [Was the request disapproved]? Okay," he said.
As a senator, Villar clarified that he did not have to divest his companies or shares.
The rule of divestment does not cover legislators as it only covers those in the executive, his lawyer, Nalen Galang, pointed out.
Villar said the reported P26 billion earnings were proceeds from the primary offering of the VLL's shares.
And a big portion of these proceeds, the senator said, went to the company.
Reports said P5 billion of the amount was earmarked for his campaign.
Asked if he has plans of filing a case against his accusers, Villar said, "Alam ko pulitika lang naman ito kaya hindi na [I know this is just politics so I will not]."

Source: Inquirer.net

joel sumadic

Enrile dares PSE to reveal truth about alleged Villar blackmail

11:47 PM

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MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile challenged Philippine Stock Exchange officials to shed light on whether Sen. Manuel Villar threatened them with a Senate probe into bourse irregularities if they didn’t allow the sale of his own shares in Vista Land so he could raise billions of pesos more in a secondary offering.
“Did Senator Manny Villar, as had been the talk in business circles, really threaten the PSE with a Senate investigation of the shenanigans of its own members? Was such a threat, no matter how veiled, hidden in the unrecorded caucus?” Enrile said.
“If such is a fact, I call on the PSE board to say so. They are there to protect the investing public and they must come out with the truth about his allegation. Otherwise, there can be no other conclusion but that Manny Villar indeed used their own misdeeds to blackmail them,” he added.
Ex-President Joseph Estrada and Enrile exposed on Thursday minutes of a PSE meeting in June 2007 wherein Villar secured the PSE board’s approval of the release of almost 30 percent of his own shares in Vista Land Lifescape, Inc., from a 180-day lock-up period so he could sell them in a secondary offering.
The alleged bending of the rules, Enrile said, enabled Villar to gain billions of pesos that he is supposedly spending on what is reportedly the country’s most expensive presidential campaign.
Enrile said that some PSE board members wanted any exemption from the normal rules to be scrutinized and its implications on the stock market carefully studied.
“But there were those who were clearly ready to look the other way and were apparently disposed from the beginning to railroad the approval of the request contrary to the rules of the PSE,” Enrile said.
“In particular, these were Director and President Francis Ed. Lim, Director Anabelle Chua, Director Roberto Atendido and Director Cornelio Peralta,” he added.
Enrile said the minutes of the meeting on June 29, 2007 showed that then Senate President Villar sought an audience with members of the board and himself made a presentation before the directors in connection with his company’s request to be exempted from the lock-up requirement.
The re-electionist senator said Villar secured the approval in just over an hour.
Enrile said Villar himself told him in 2007 that he gained P5 billion from the public listing of Vista Land and that he would use this amount to fund his presidential campaign in 2010.
The Senate President said he sought an explanation from the PSE board about Villar’s intervention in PSE activities on March 18, 2010.
He received a letter marked “private and confidential” from PSE chair Hans Sicat about Villar’s presence in one of the PSE’s meetings in 2007 but withheld information about the caucus.
Sicat, Enrile said, turned down his request for a copy of the minutes of the meeting Villar attended but the Senate President said he, nonetheless, managed to secure a copy of those minutes.
“The ensuing deliberations show that at least some members of the Board had serious concerns and they pointed out the flaws and adverse implications of the former Senate president’s request,” Enrile said.
Enrile said Director Vivian Yuchengco even recommended sanctions to the underwriters who caused the issue because they knew fully well that the exchange required the lock-up.
Lawyer Roy Rafols, Enrile said, said that listing applicants whether by way of an introduction or by way of an initial public offering must comply with the rules.
Enrile said the board proceeded to vote on the issue of whether to allow the sale of the shares despite the lock up with the vote going Villar’s way.
Enrile said the chair of the PSE board hoped that the whole board “stand united” behind the decision.
“Because of the short cut committed by Manny Villar, many followed suit. Many more investors in the stock exchange could have been duped and suffered loses. Manny Villar and his conspirators in the PSE destroyed the integrity of the Philippine Stock Exchange,” Enrile said.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

joel sumadic

Estrada, Enrile accuse Villar of pressuring PSE on stock sale

11:35 PM

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MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Manuel Villar, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer, earmarked for his presidential campaign P5 billion which he raised from an allegedly irregular transaction three years ago involving his real estate firm’s shares, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Thursday.
The P5 billion came from the P26 billion that the family-controlled Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. (the corporate successor of real estate developer C&P Homes Inc.) raised in the stock market, said Enrile, senatorial candidate of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
Enrile accused Villar of influencing the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) board in June 2007 into approving his request to release almost 30 percent of his shares in Vista Land from the lock-up period in violation of stock exchange rules.
“If he can do this when he is still not the President, how much more if he is already the President of this country?” Enrile said at a news conference at the campaign headquarters of former President Joseph Estrada’s PMP in Mandaluyong City.
“Is this the type of person that the country should install as the next President of the Philippines?” he added.
The lock-up requirement is a prohibition on all listings and public offerings of shares of stock of private corporations.
It prohibits major shareholders like the Villars from selling their shares within a certain period to protect small shareholders from the devaluation of the shares, according to Enrile.
“In simple terms, those who want to generate funding for their companies by selling their shares to the public are prohibited from selling or dumping their own shares within a certain period because such will affect the price or value of the listed shares, thus unjustly enriching the majority shareholders at the expense of and to the detriment of the public,” Enrile said.
Villar at PSE meeting
Enrile presented minutes of a supposedly confidential PSE meeting in 2007 and a letter of PSE chair Hans Sicat as proof of his allegations against Villar. (Sicat joined the PSE board and became its chair only last year.)
The minutes showed that Villar was present at the PSE board meeting on June 29, 2007, when the board approved the release of 29.28 percent of his shares. Enrile said it was Villar himself who requested an audience with the PSE directors.
“From the record of all these proceedings, there is no doubt in my mind that Sen. Manuel Villar himself lobbied and exerted pressure to railroad the approval of his family-owned company’s request for exemption to enable him and his family to sell their shares which were otherwise subject to lockup at a hefty premium!” Enrile said.
Veiled threat
“Now, I understand what he said when he told me that he earned P5 billion when he sold his own shares of stock and that he would use the amount for his campaign. It turned out that there was manipulation and a bending of the lock-up rule of the (PSE),” added the reelectionist senator.
Enrile said he sought an explanation last month from the PSE board about Villar’s intervention. He said he received information that Villar got the concession after Villar told the board at a meeting that he had information that stockbrokers had also violated the rules.
“That remark, I understand, assumed the character of a veiled threat to members of the PSE board, and it caused the immediate approval of the requested exemption from the lock-up provision of the PSE rules,” Enrile said.
He said a member of the PSE board confirmed the veracity of the story. “And so I formally sought clarification and information through my letter to the members of the PSE board,” he added.
Request approved in 1 hour
Enrile said the PSE approved Villar’s request on the same morning that he presented “a short background on their application to release a portion of escrowed shares.”
The PMP senatorial candidate said that PSE minutes showed that Villar’s presentation, the PSE “caucus” that still included Villar, the serious questions raised by board members, and the approval of Vista Land’s request all transpired in “just over an hour.”
“The PSE [board’s] accommodation was done with such alacrity that made me wonder if they did it out of sheer efficiency and brilliance, or out of awe at the presence of no less than the [then] President of the Senate,” Enrile said.
OFWs taken advantage
Estrada, who opened the news conference with his own statement, said Villar took advantage of the overseas Filipino workers whom he vowed to protect. Many of the buyers of Villar’s property developments are migrant workers, he said.
Estrada urged Villar to respond to this and other allegations squarely.
Undeclared income
Enrile indicated that Villar could be held accountable for his failure to declare his earnings from the proceeds of the public listing.
“[The] name of Manuel Villar or of Congresswoman Cynthia Villar does not appear in the information memorandum or in the prospectus and in documents related to the public offering of Vista Land,” Enrile said.
“But he is saying that he and his spouse earned P10 billion from the public offering,” he added.
“Is this the reason why this is not declared in his 2007 and 2008 statements of assets, liabilities and net worth?” Enrile asked.
Enrile said that if Villar could be proven to be overspending in the presidential campaign then he could be the subject of disqualification proceedings.
He noted that in a casual conversation at the Senator’s Lounge with the then Senate President Villar in 2007, the latter admitted that he raised P26 billion from the public offering of Vista Land shares.
“Is all of that yours? You have quite a sizable campaign kitty!” Enrile recalled telling Villar after he asked about Vista Land’s international road show.
P5 billion personal use
He said Villar told him that P21 billion would go to his companies while P5 billion would be for his personal use.
“That’s what I would use for my campaign,” Enrile quoted Villar as saying.
Other corporations have already followed Villar’s example, according to Enrile.
Above board
The PSE said Vista Land had complied with the listing and public offering requirements of the exchange based on its records in 2007.
The Vista Land offering was done subsequent to its listing by way of introduction, which allows a company to list its shares without conducting an initial public offering.
PSE rules encourage and, in certain cases, require the applicant company to conduct a public offering of its shares within one year following the listing by introduction.
In a statement, the PSE said its board earlier approved the public offering of Vista Land and in a subsequent meeting in 2007 announced that the lock-up rule would not apply to the sale by existing shareholders (owning less than 10 percent of the outstanding capital stock of the company at the time of the offering) of their shares as part of the public offering following a listing by introduction.
“The PSE is committed to the development of the capital markets of our country and implements its rules to protect the interest of its stakeholders and the investing public,” Sicat said.
Documentary tax
Other stockbrokers said that at the time of Vista Land’s application, the PSE was just about to start lobbying Congress for the removal the documentary stamp tax to reduce transaction cost.
Shares of Vista Land tumbled by 3 percent to close at P1.88 per share Thursday in stark contrast to the generally upbeat stock market trading.

Source: inquirer.net

joel sumadic

Aquino, Roxas continue to top trust survey

12:27 AM

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MANILA, Philippines—Amid the political mudslinging, Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III and his running-mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II continued to enjoy the highest trust ratings among candidates for the two top posts, a Pulse Asia survey showed.

The survey, conducted on March 21-28 among 3,000 respondents, showed Aquino receiving a trust rating of 69 percent, up five percentage points from the 64 percent he got in February from people who said they had “big trust” in him.

“Only nine percent said they had ‘small/no trust’ in Aquino, a significant drop of five percentage points from the 14 percent who said they didn’t trust him in February,” said a Liberal Party statement.

“Meanwhile, 74 percent said they had ‘big trust’ in Roxas, for a four-percentage point increase from 70 percent [in February],” the LP said.
Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar received a “big trust” rating of 61 percent, the survey showed.
Former President Joseph Estrada came in third with 48 percent, followed by former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (36 percent), Sen. Richard Gordon (29 percent), Eddie Villanueva (22 percent) Sen. Jamby Madrigal (21 percent), and Nicanor Perlas and JC de los Reyes (nine percent each).

In the vice presidential race, the NP’s Sen. Loren Legarda received a trust rating of 50 percent, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay got 58 percent, Bayani Fernando (24 percent), Edu Manzano (23 percent), Jay Sonza (13 percent), Perfecto Yasay (11 percent) and Dominador Chipeco (nine percent).
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

joel sumadic