BACOLOD CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the Diocese of Bacolod to remove the tarpaulin hanging at San Sebastian Cathedral, which identifies the senatorial candidates whom the faithful should support and reject for their stance on the reproductive health (RH) law.
Mavil Majarucon-Sia, Bacolod election officer, said the tarpaulin, which was 6 feet by 10 feet, violated the election law that limits the size of campaign posters.
The allowable size is only 2 feet by 3 feet, she added.
He said he has sent a notice to Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra to remove the tarpaulin by today (Monday) or the Comelec would take it down.
“The bishop told us he would comply,” she said.
But Fr. Felix Pasquin, rector of San Sebastian Cathedral, said Sunday Navarra had the matter studied by their lawyer and they were seeking a definitive opinion from the Comelec legal department on the matter.
“The tarpaulin is on private property and is an expression of their moral stand against the RH law. It should not be classified as campaign material,” he said.
Pasquin said the “Team Patay”/“Team Buhay” tarpaulin on the right side of the church’s facade is an answer to the tarpaulin they earlier put up on the left side calling for the junking of the RH law that bares a quotation from Acts 5:29 that says, “We must obey God rather than men.”
The Diocese of Bacolod identified seven senatorial candidates whom they tagged as members of “Team Patay” and asked the faithful not to support them for voting in favor of the RH law.
They were Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Teddy Casiño and Jack Enrile.
Partylist groups Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis are also on the “Team Patay” list.
The six senatorial candidates that the Diocese of Bacolod identified as prolife, or as members of “Team Buhay” for voting against the RH law, are Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar.
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The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is barking at the wrong tree.
This was how Senator Franklin Drilon addressed reports that Team PNoy is eyeing a sweep victory in the 2013 senatorial race to support his senate presidency in the next Congress.
“I will not dignify those statements because I am not a candidate. They are barking up the wrong tree,” Drilon told reporters in a weekly press conference.
Drilon, who will reportedly replace Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, reminded UNA he is not running for re-election.
He insisted for the opposition to be more focused on presenting their platforms instead of spreading rumor to propel their campaign.
“We are more focused on presenting Team PNoy as a team, which fully supports President Aquino’s platform of good governance which in turn has resulted in an improved economy and better social and health services,” Drilon said.
“The issue is whether we are for good governance. If they say otherwise, it’s up to them as long as they spell my name correctly,” he added.
Re-electionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III introduced Drilon, who is serving as Team PNoy’s campaign manager, as “the next Senate President.”
This triggered a 'conspiracy theory' idea from the opposition, which alleged that a 12-0 victory will be enough to install a new senate president in the 16th president.
“For all intents and purposes, it is the members of the 16th Congress who will choose the next Senate President.” Drilon said.
“These are the issues in the campaign and the senate presidency in the 16th Congress is a question that the senators will decide upon as an independent body, since the Senate has been known for its independence by law and by tradition,” Drilon said.
“By law, the 16th Congress will have a new set of officers, both the Senate and the House will elect its officers with the new Congress council, who believers of the House and the Senate will be is a matter for each House in chair,” he added.
“Let’s just move on and instruct what the people are looking for and what this campaign is all about. And this campaign for the Team PNOY is a campaign on good governance. It’s a platform that we should carry on, until the end of the elections,” he said.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino signed a landmark law on Monday compensating human rights victims of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless "People Power" revolution ended his reign.
Ten billion pesos (4 million) will be distributed to potentially thousands of people whom Marcos's security forces tortured, raped or detained, as well as relatives of those who were killed, during his rule.
Speaking at a ceremony in Manila to mark the anniversary of the revolution that was led by his mother, Aquino said the law was part of his government's efforts to "right the wrongs of the past".
"We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state's recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds," Aquino said.
Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the country's independent rights commission, said the law would finally allow all his victims to feel a sense of justice.
"The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights," Rosales told AFP.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairwoman of Selda, a group which represents Marcos rights victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.
"There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone it will not result to much," Hilao-Enriquez said.
Hilao-Enriquez's group represents about 10,000 documented victims but she said there were many more who had not been officially registered and may now come forward, such as Muslim communities in the remote south of the country.
Under the law, a compensation board will accept and evaluate applications for reparations over the next six months. Those victims will be from when Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to the end of his rule in 1986.
The compensation will come from about 0 million the government has recovered from Swiss bank accounts that Marcos secretly maintained while he was in power.
The government has accused Marcos and his relatives of plundering up to billion and has so far recovered about billion.
After millions of people took to the streets in a military-backed protest, US-supported Marcos fled to Hawaii where he died in 1989.
After returning from exile his relatives have made a remarkable political comeback, while always denying any wrongdoing by the family.
Marcos's famously extravagant wife Imelda is now an 83-year-old congresswoman representing the family's political stronghold in a northern province.
Marcos's son and namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, is a senator with public ambitions eventually to become president.
He posted a long statement on his official Facebook page in which he said he had "no problem" with compensating people for rights abuses committed between 1972 and 1986.
But Marcos said the issue of compensating the "tens of thousands" of human rights victims in the post-Marcos era had been ignored.
"That question is like an elephant in the room that some politicians, the typically glib, sanctimonious, and self-righteous, pretend not to see," he wrote, while insisting he was focused on ways to "unify our country".
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Ma. Garcia Pulido-Tan has assured politicians who will run in next year’s midterm elections that she would not allow the agency to be used to persecute them or destroy their chances of winning in the elections.
In an interview, Tan allayed fears of some candidates in the local and national elections that a possible bad timing of the release of audit reports on them or their offices was personal.
“We will always be fair game because that’s the nature of our work,” Tan said. “Iyong timing, as I said, if somebody comes to us and then they report that will you look into this, of course we will do that. We can’t say, wait, you should not complaint because there is an election. That should not be the case,” she said.
Tan said the COA would always validate the complaint first and would only proceed if there was a basis.
Regarding Vice President Jejomar Binay’s earlier claim of political persecution by Heidi Mendoza, one of COA’s commissioners, Tan said the documents being cited in the media against Binay did not come from the COA.
Binay had described as “disturbing” the timing of the audit being initiated on the Makati Friendship Suites, a condotel run by the city government, on the basis of a letter sent by “concerned employees of Makati.”
He also said his office had been receiving reports of a demolition plan against him ad early as year, and that Mendoza herself was part of it.
Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesperson, said that Mendoza has been “very vocal about her dislike for the Vice President.”
But Tan noted that the letter-complaint was furnished to many people, including the media.
“I think we receive that complaint and we started looking at it as far back as April or May last year. And it was not until late this year that it came out in the paper because the press got a copy of the same letter but it did not come from us,” Tan said.
“So I think that should be assurance enough that we don’t want to be used one way or the other. For us it’s just a job and we will do our work prudently. If there is a leakage, definitely it did not come from us,” she stressed.
Tan said she was very particular about leakage from the office although she admitted that this could not be completely controlled.
She said there was still no audit report on the Friendship Suites because it was still ongoing.
For the election period, the COA chair has laid down instructions on three audit areas that must be monitored closely, namely ghost employees, fund transfer, and election spending from public money.
MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reshuffled 16 of the 33 election officers in Metro Manila to “further guarantee the success” of the May 13 polls, an official said yesterday.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they reshuffled their election officers because some may already be familiar with the candidates and could be influenced by them.
In Resolution 9642, the Comelec said the reassignment is “for the best interest of the commission particularly in furthering efficiency, competence, integrity and absolute impartiality within commission.”
The poll body stated in the resolution that it intends to deliver clean, honest and peaceful elections by “advancing… the competency and expertise of its personnel,” particularly its election officers.
The reshuffle will be in effect from March 1 until June 12, the end of the election period, “without prejudice to the authority of the commission en banc to effect further reassignments whenever the exigency of service so requires.”
The poll body had earlier reshuffled regional directors, provincial election supervisors and department heads at the Comelec central office in Intramuros, Manila.