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Category Archives: politics

Korina Sanchez leaves DZMM – Here’s what it means

Veteran broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez has resigned from her DZMM radio show Rated Korina, ABS-CBN executive Eric John Salut confirmed over the weekend via Twitter.

In the same post, Salut added that Sanchez will remain anchoring the news porgram TV Patrol and her weekly magazine show Rated K. She will also remain as ABS-CBN’s chief correspondent. Sanchez’ previous time slot will now be occupied by “Sakto,” to be hosted by Marc Logan and Amy Perez.

To preempt speculations from the public, Sanchez promptly released a statement saying that her  desire to focus more on her graduate studies from the Ateneo de Manila University is the reason behind her exit.

Muntik na akong ibagsak ng dalawa kong propesor dahil sa absence at late submissions kaya talagang hindi ko mapagsabay,” Sanchez said. Anyone out there who is juggling work with the requirements of a master’s program definitely agrees with her, including this writer.

However, there’s definitely more to this than what they’re saying in public. Sanchez has been part of DZMM’s morning block for over a  decade now, with news and commentary shows like ‘Korina sa Umaga‘ and ‘Tambalang Failon and Sanchez.’ However, her longtime relationship and eventual marriage to Mar Roxas in 2009 directly affected perceptions of how she is handling her job.

korina sanchez resigns

Korina Sanchez is leaving her longtime DZMM radio show (credits: http://www.DZMM.abs-cbnnews.com)

As noted in a previous post here, Sanchez has for years been accused of turning her position into a  platform by which to attack her husband’s political rivals. On separate occasions, Sanchez was said to have attacked Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros, ABS-CBN reporter RG Cruz, and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

In fact, some suggested that Sanchez’ series of investigative reports in 2008 about glutathione whitening products was really all about ruining the presidential prospects of Senator Loren Legarda, a one-time endorser of Lucida-DS. In short, Sanchez’ role in ABS-CBN News has long been problematic.

What appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back in this case is Sanchez’ offhand criticism of CNN’s Anderson Cooper at the height of the relief efforts for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda last November. During a live report, the American journalist noted that there’s ‘no organized relief effort’ from the government.

Hindi yata niya alam ang sinasabi niya (He’s not really aware of what’s happening on the ground),” Sanchez said of Cooper through her commentary program last November 13. Cooper’s observation must have hit a raw nerve for Sanchez. After all, her husband was the designated point man of the administration for the relief efforts at that time (ex-Senator Panfilo Lacson has since been appointed the rehabilitation czar).

The top honchos at ABS-CBN for sure knows that with Roxas now being positioned for the 2016 presidential elections, Sanchez’ active role in the news department is becoming less and less tenable. The official campaign period may still be two years away, but expect the candidates to begin campaigning in earnest by mid-2015 at the latest. In other words, expect Sanchez to leave TV Patrol within the next year and a half or even earlier.

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Video of Roxas-Romualdez meeting goes viral

A forty-minute video of a meeting between Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez has been been circulating in the social media since yesterday. The clip was uploaded by Philippine Star columnist Cito Beltran on video-sharing website YouTube. Watch the entire clip below:

In his article today, Beltran said the video was recorded in November 14, six days after Super typhoon Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas, by someone from the Romualdez camp. The writer claimed that he first learned of the video in November 26. “I actually wanted to stay out of the squabble except when it reached a point when Mar vehemently denied asking for a letter of resignation and anyone who claims such was a liar,” Beltran explained.

alfredo romualdez tacloban

Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez (Credits: http://www.CorrectPhilippines.org)

 

Why is this video so crucial? Remember that last November 17, The Filipino Scribe and other news websites first reported that Roxas asked Romualdez to submit to him a letter stating that since he can no longer function effectively as a local government unit, the national government already needs to take over.  The video confirms this, with Roxas telling the Tacloban mayor: “Aquino ang presidente, Romualdez ka.”

 

 

Apparently, it’s Roxas who understood that there can be political implications if the Aquino administration is seen as moving against the city administration. As we have noted in a previous post that has since gone viral, President Benigno Aquino III and Mayor Romualdez has been at loggerheads since the election season.

 

Will this spell the doom for Roxas’ angling for the presidency by 2016? Abangan. (Curiously, Beltran once had a show with Korina Sanchez, Isyu 101, Roxas’ wife.)

 

 

 

 

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US Senate confirms Philip Goldberg as ambassador to Philippines

The United States (US) Senate has voted to confirm Philip Goldberg, a veteran career diplomat, as the country’s next ambassador to the Philippines last November 14. Goldberg, a former ambassador to Bolivia, will succeed Harry K. Thomas, the first African-American to hold the said post. The US Senate website did not disclose though how the exactly the confirmation vote went.

Thomas served as the top American envoy to Manila from May 2010 until his departure last month. Goldberg is expected to present his credentials to President Benigno Aquino III possibly before 2013 ends.

Goldberg was confirmed on the same day as James Brewster Jr., the next US ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Brewster is only the fifth openly gay man to serve as a US ambassador, one report noted.

English: This is the official photo of Ambassa...

Incoming US Ambassador Philip Goldberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Goldberg will have his hands full upon his arrival to the Philippines. As per the directive of President Barack Obama, the United States government is deeply involved in the relief efforts for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (international code name ‘Haiyan’), especially in the Eastern Visayas region.

Obama last week announced during a White House press briefing that aircraft carrier USS George Washington will be coming over to the Philippines to assist in the recovery efforts. “Our friends in the Philippines will face a long hard road ahead, but they’ll continue to have a friend and partner in the United States of America,” he said. Read the full statement of President Obama in this link.

He also urged Americans to visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/typhoon, a web portal meant to raise donations for super typhoon Yolanda survivors. As of the moment, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Brian Goldbeck is the one supervising the American relief initiatives in the disaster-stricken areas.   

 

(Must read: Bloomberg.com columnist William Pesek slams the Chinese government for giving a miniscule amount for relief aid to the Philippines: “As hundreds of thousands of Filipinos struggled to find food, water, shelter and the bodies of loved ones in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, China quickly dipped into its world-leading $3.7 trillion of currency reserves and came up with … all of $100,000.”

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Aquino’s animosity toward Tacloban mayor hampering relief efforts?

Speaking to CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour last November 12, President Benigno Aquino III repeatedly reiterated that super typhoon Yolanda (international code name ‘Haiyan’) wrecked so much havoc especially in the Eastern Visayas region because the “local (government) response failed.”

He told Amanpour that “two or three” local government units (LGUs) were “simply overwhelmed” by Yolanda. Watch Amanpour’s entire interview here. Even without being mentioned by name, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is certainly one of those Aquino is referring to.

A day before his interview with Amanpour, Aquino was said to have walked out of a briefing with Tacloban City officials after he got irked by the said LGU’s unpreparedness (Malacanang later clarified that he merely went to the bathroom).

With Aquino seemingly bent on putting all the blame on him, Romualdez played defense. In an interview with GMA News, the mayor complained about what he described as insufficient aid from the national government.

Wala namang giyera, bakit hindi magpadala ng tatlong batalyon dito para hakutin na natin lahat ng patay?” Romualdez said. He also explained that relief goods are not being transported to devastated communities because of the lack of usable vehicles.

alfredo romualdez tacloban

Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez (Credits: http://www.CorrectPhilippines.org

In relation to this, a point-by-point report (the author cannot be determined as of this time) on what is happening is now going viral on the Internet. In a nutshell, the post explicates that Romualdez sought as much help as possible from the national government both before and after Yolanda rammed the city. And in all those instances, Romualdez received decidedly inadequate assistance.

Here are some of the items listed. Check CorrectPhilippines.org for the entire post:

1. After Typhoon Yolanda struck, the Mayor of Tacloban requested the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) to make a “RESPONSE OVERKILL” on the rescue and relief operations. Unfortunately, the response from the National Government was very cold and half hearted.

2. On Day 2 of Typhoon Yolanda aftermath, the Mayor requested the NDRRMC to deploy 2 Marine Battalions to help immediately establish peace and order and rescue/relief operations. Unfortunately, this plea for help was unheeded by the National Government.

5. The Mayor requested the National Government to put more vehicles and personnel for cadaver retrieval but up to now only 4 trucks from the National Government are doing this. Only 8 trucks from the National Government are doing relief work. Tacloban is now reeking from the smell of death and relief operations are still moving at a snail’s pace.

7. To add insult to injury, the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (Mar Roxas) wants the Mayor of Tacloban (Alfred Romualdez) to write a formal letter to Philippine President Noynoy Aquino supposedly to inform him that he could no longer function as Mayor, thereby surrendering authority to the DILG Secretary (Mar Roxas).

To say that there’s a personal animosity between Aquino and Romualdez would be an understatement. For starters, the mayor of Tacloban is a nephew of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Even until now, Aquino and the Romuladezes are on clashing sides of the political spectrum. The mayor’s cousin, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez, is currently the president of Lakas-CMD, the party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The administration made a vigorous bid to unseat Romualdez during last May’s polls. In fact, Kris Aquino, the president’s youngest sister and television superstar, personally campaigned for Florencio ‘Bem’ Noel, the president’s bet. “If Bem wins (for mayor), I will give whatever Tacloban needs in just one call,” Kris quoted the president as telling her during a campaign rally.

Despite all these, plus the president’s sharp criticism of Romualdez’ tenure as the city chief, he won re-election handily. In hindsight, Kris is perhaps right. Aquino would probably be more decisive in dealing with the disaster in Tacloban if the city is being led by his anointed candidate.

(PS: Is it possible to set aside political differences when it comes to disaster response? In dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year, United States President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed remarkable ability to work side-by-side for the greater good. Christie, a top supporter of Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney, repeatedly noted how he and the president remained in touch throughout the calamity. Read our post about it here.)

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Korina Sanchez vs Anderson Cooper and journalism ethics

In tonight’s edition of TV Patrol, ABS-CBN anchor and chief correspondent Korina Sanchez delivered a report about the situation in Ormoc City, Leyte.

Curiously, Sanchez’ assignment in the said city came a day after she earned flak from netizens who lambasted her following her negative comments directed to Anderson Cooper of CNN International. The American journalist highlighted the slow government relief efforts for super typhoon Yolanda survivors.

Hindi yata niya alam ang sinasabi niya (He’s not really aware of what’s happening on the ground),” Sanchez said of Cooper through her commentary program in DZMM Wednesday morning. A deluge of criticism against Sanchez, mostly shared online, followed shortly after. As noted by Rappler.com, Sanchez was hit on two fronts.

First, it is Cooper, not her, who’s actually reporting live on location. Second, Sanchez is married to the man who’s the de facto point man of the government’s disaster relief efforts – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. And since Roxas is widely expected to run for president in 2016, any criticism about the government’s response to Yolanda’s aftermath will not serve his political ambitions well.

I first noted the possibility of Sanchez being put in an awkward situation last Sunday. During a live broadcast of her Sunday magazine show Rated K, Sanchez interviewed Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras. Political junkies should note that Almendras is allied with the Balay faction of President Benigno Aquino III’s cabinet, which is identified with Roxas and the ruling Liberal Party.

“Korina Sanchez reporting about the government relief efforts in Leyte led by her husband DILG Sec. Mar Roxas presents a clear conflict of interest,” I wrote on Facebook, while adding that this journalistic transgression may be set aside for a while because “these are extraordinary circumstances.” Nevertheless, it seems that the problematic situation really has a way of rearing its ugly head.

korina sanchez anderson cooper

ABS-CBN news anchor Korina Sanchez slammed CNN’s Anderson Cooper in her radio program Wednesday morning (Credits: Inquirer.net)

It’s not the first time that Sanchez lashed out at individuals she perceives as slighting Roxas. There’s ABS-CBN reporter RG Cruz (refresh your memories by reading this blog post) and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros. Both instances happened in 2009, shortly after Roxas gave up his presidential ambitions to be Aquino’s running mate.

More recently, Sanchez has earned the ire of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp. Binay is of course the man who defeated her husband three years ago. In 2011, Binay complained that Sanchez seems to be refraining from mentioning his name during broadcasts. Last year, Binay’s camp took offense when Sanchez allegedly described his as a “dark little evil spirit.”

This episode brings back to mind the controversy last year created by President Aquino’s decision to take a swing at news anchor and former Vice President Noli de Castro during the 25th anniversary celebration of TV Patrol.

As media ethicist Chay Hofilena pointed out, this was a situation “waiting to happen,” arguing that networks seem to be facilitating a revolving door for journalists who venture into politics. Like De Castro, Sanchez resumed her news reading duties much sooner than expected.

If Roxas indeed seeks the presidency by 2016, Sanchez is expected to step down from her journalistic activities within the next 18 months. Until then, there’s no reason to believe she won’t be involved in another conflict-of-interest situation.

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October 28 2013 Philippine holiday – Barangay Elections

President Benigno Aquino III has declared October 28, the last Monday of the month, as a special non-working holiday. The triennial barangay elections is scheduled to be held on the said day. The president made the announcement through Presidential Proclamation 656, which he signed last September 25. Access the full text of proclamation 656 here.

Aquino made a similar declaration (Proclamation 571) in connection with the midterm polls held last May. Designating October 28 as a holiday is meant to give Filipinos “the fullest opportunity to participate in the elections and (to) exercise their right to vote.”

Aside from the barangay elections, the Sangguniang Kabataan polls is also scheduled to be held on that day though a bill that seeks to defer it to February 2015 has already been passed in Congress.

As The Filipino Scribe noted before, not declaring October 28 a holiday may seriously affect voters’ turnout since the Philippines currently does not allow early voting unlike in the United States.

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Aquino admin used pork barrel vs Renato Corona – Jinggoy

Senator Jinggoy Estrada revealed during his privilege speech Wednesday afternoon that senators who voted last year to impeach then-Chief Justice Renato Corona received an additional of P50 million to their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation.

Estrada said this was announced through “a private and confidential letter” from now Senate President Franklin Drilon, who chaired the Senate finance committee at that time. Drilon swiftly denied Estrada’s claim, saying that no such letter exists. “I maintain that the senators voted according to their conscience and their impartial evaluation of the evidence presented during the Coronal trial,” he said.

The problem is, one of his former colleagues directly belied Drilon’s denials. Speaking to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, former Senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed that those who voted to convict Corona indeed received a P50 million incentive from the administration. He however clarified that he’s not among the recipients of this since he had “no regular PDAF.”

Panfilo Lacson

Panfilo Lacson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Corona was understandably elated by Estrada’s bombshell, describing it as a vindication for him. In a brief statement, the ousted chief justice claimed Estrada’s speech proved that his removal from office is unconstitutional and that all charges against him are baseless. He also faulted Malacanang for launching a “massive demolition campaign” directed to him.

The revelation that President Benigno Aquino III co-opted lawmakers into voting against Corona by using the pork barrel fund as a bargaining chip is nothing new.

In his testimony for the defense panel during the Corona trial, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said that leaders of the House of Representatives repeatedly stressed to them that those who will not endorse the impeachment complaint against will get “zero PDAF.”

Tiangco added: “Ayaw kong mapag-initan. I do not want to catch the ire of the most powerful man in the country, the President of the Philippines.”

However, as reported by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, then-Senate President and impeachment court presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile regarded Tiangco’s testimony as irrelevant to the trial.

 

Clearly, the Aquino administration used the power of the purse to make lawmakers on both Houses of Congress submit to its will. Isn’t this a blatant form of corruption? Whatever happened to tuwid na daan?

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