Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Let’s convert the P49 billion CCT funds from mere doleout to rehabilitation of severely damaged areas, through meaningful jobs. Will JBC relax earlier ruling to accommodate De Lima? Foreign funders follow same formula for Third World countries on population control---including Ph.

In earlier columns I argued that the administration’s conditional cash transfer (CCT), proposed to be raised from P35 billion this year to a whopping P49 billion next year, should be given very serious scrutiny by Congress---now that it’s deliberating the P3 trillion budget for 2012-2013. The demand of the people at this point is to provide JOBS AND MORE JOBS to the able-bodied among the over 2 million who have been severely affected by the floods. A massive rehabilitation stares the nation in the face right now and this could be financed from the CCT funds---safer from graft and corruption and easier to check out and handle.


The CCT has been criticized in various quarters as a gargantuan waste of taxpayers’ money. Just recently the COA itself found so many loopholes in the CCT, among them, that so many listed beneficiaries do not qualify as “very poor” and there are multiple grants to the same recipients. Many times too, they get far less than the amount stated---binubulsa ng mga administrators on the ground. But who among the poorest of the poor will complain?

Now is the perfect time to re-channel these whopping funds to something more meaningful and less prone to corruption.  President Aquino’s administration can immediately launch the clean-up and rehabilitation of all devastated areas---and initiate the heavy-capital infrastructure projects needed to prevent another deluge in Luzon.  To achieve all these,  the CCT funds could be re-channeled into paying the salaries of those participating in the gigantic rehab effort and to fund the infrastructures. P49 BILLION WILL GO A LONG WAY.

The beauty of this rehab effort is that there will be records of payment for ACTUAL WORK DONE BY THOSE HIRED--- far better than the often hocus-pocus CCT listings by DSWD and the degrading dole-outs which strip the very poor of their dignity and makes them total mendicants.


No other issue has elicited more comments from readers than the RH bill, showing how controversial it really is. A reader emailed this reminiscent reaction:

“Years ago I attended a forum of the group called “Families for Families,”   where it presented demographic statistics on why First World countries are zealously pushing for population control in Asian countries. I noted from the forum that these FW countries have long reached zero growth because of the inverted pyramid caused by population control. Singapore was the first Asian country to grasp this repercussion and soon its government launched a " Four-or-more campaign” where it provided many incentives for couples to have babies.

“The natural pyramid has the young population as its strong base and narrowing towards the tip are the seniors. With the zero population control the West had adopted, however,  the inverted pyramid showed more seniors at the base who cannot support the young. This phenomenon is happening everywhere where population control occurred, and the retirement age is being stretched a few more years because the government cannot afford retirement fees. The most affected is Scandinavia.

“Asians and Hispanics are on the rise. We are re-populating the world as migrants and it looks like there’s a big effort of First World countries to impose the same mistake on the rest of the world---control the latter's population---all out of fear that the Asians and Hispanics would overpower them.

“Beyond theological beliefs, “Families for Families” stressed that it’s a moral issue as well. It included in its study the statistical evaluation of poor families that have a far greater chance to emancipate themselves from poverty if they have two, three or more bread-earners. It’s educational opportunity that government and the private sector must focus on.”

That brings us back to the Wall Street Journal's recent wise two-liner: "The Philippines does not suffer from overpopulation. There are just too few growth opportunities. How very right, legislators."


News says the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has begun deliberations on the votes for the short-list it will present to the President---as mandated by the Constitution---so he can choose the next Chief Justice.  The query on everyone’s mind is, will the JBC abide by its earlier ruling (in the case of former Justice Agnes Devanadera in the GMA era) that a nominee for the Supreme Court facing administrative and criminal cases cannot qualify for CJ? Devanadera was shut out of the JBC list because of a politically motivated administrative case filed against her? Will aggressive nominee Leila De Lima suffer the same fate? 

De Lima has been quite open about her ambition to become CJ while the Palace is not been coy about its desire to appoint her. But the Integrated Bar of the Philippines has also openly stated that it will deliberate on the two disbarment cases vs. De Lima that the SC endorsed to it---meaning, she might not be on that JBC short-list.

Talk in the grapevine, however, is that there’s TREMENDOUS PRESSURE on the IBP to wind up the investigation into the De Lima cases---favorably. 


Fueling this rumor is the perception that some JBC members may actually be delaying the voting on the short-list---to wait for the IBP’s favorable decision on De Lima. One of them is Sen. Chiz Escudero who recently re-joined the JBC after boycotting it after the SC upheld Frank Chavez’s petition to limit Congress participation in the JBC to just one member---as per the Constitution. Escudero purportedly wanted to scrutinize the financial statements of CJ nominees and asked to re-set the JBC voting (now scheduled for this Monday).

Given the pressures from many sides, will the JBC reverse its 2007 ruling on Devanadera and allow De Lima’s name to be inserted into the short-list? ABANGAN!        


I attended the SC hearing on the Senate’s motion for reconsideration of the Court's ruling on Chavez’s petition to dis-allow participation of a second member of Congress in the JBC. The SC upheld Chavez and ruled that only one from Congress (either a senator or a representative) could sit in the JBC. 

Only nine SC members deliberated on the Senate MR since five other SC members were automatic nominees to the CJ post and hence did not participate). The nine SC members disappointingly reversed the Court's earlier one-vote ruling---and let the current “tradition” of having a senator and a representative, each with full vote, stay in the JBC. The SC members' argument: the Court cannot decide such an important question with an incomplete membership.

I can understand the nine SC members’ position, but now, because of that opening they created, we see lawyers such as former Sen. Rene Saguisag arguing that the “spirit” rather than the strict letter of the Constitution should be honored in this issue of Congress’ two votes in the JBC. The problem with honoring the “spirit” rather than the letter is: WHAT OTHER SPIRIT GHOSTS WOULD FOLLOW TO TWIST CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS THAT ARE SO CLEAR? Would not this lead to a weakening of the Rule of Law and the Constitution?

It is far better to formally amend the Constitution in this issue rather than weaken it. But the sad part is that the SC itself is leading the way in eroding the base.   

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