The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 21, 2010 Major News Stories

Oil companies reduce fuel product prices

PETRON CORP. and Unioil Petroleum Philippines, Inc. have lowered prices of all oil products by P1 per liter effective today and yesterday, respectively.

Chevron rolls back prices by P1.00/liter

CHEVRON PHILIPPINES will roll back prices of its petroleum products by P1.00 per liter effective Friday, 6 a.m.
"Prices of Gold, Gold E10, Silver, Silver E10, regular, kerosene, and diesel will be reduced by P1.00 per liter. Price movements [were] due to [the] continued decrease in world prices," the company said in an advisory Thursday night.

Unleaded gasoline prices range from P42.45 to P44.00 per liter, while diesel prices range from P33.65 to P36.95 per liter. Kerosene ranges from P41.28 to P45.80.

Dubai crude has gone down to $80 per barrel from $84 per barrel in April. Unleaded gasoline is now priced at $88 per barrel, down from $94 per barrel last month, while diesel has gone down to $92 per barrel from last month's $96 per barrel. 

More brownouts, DOE says

EXPECT more brownouts. Due to a demand in electricity that is higher than the supply, Cebu will continue to schedule brownouts, a Department of Energy (DOE) official said yesterday Aguinaldo Briones, DOE senior science research specialist, said that for yesterday alone, the total power demand was 645 megawatts (MW) but the power produced by plants was only 295 MW so supply was short 350 MW.

Briones said the 295 MW was generated by six plants in Cebu and the supply from Leyte.

Toledo Power Corp.'s coal-fired plant was generating 50 MW; Toledo Power Corp.'s diesel plant 32 MW; Cebu Thermal Power Plant (CTPP) 1 had 45 MW; CTPP 2, 51 MW; Cebu Diesel Power Plant, 25 MW; Cebu Private Power Corp., 52 MW and the rest was from Leyte.

CTPP 1 and 2 and Cebu Diesel are operated by SPC Power Corp., which has a contract with the National Power Corp. to operate the Naga Power Plant Complex.

The 84-MW coal-fired power plant of the Cebu Energy Development Corp. in Toledo City that started operating last March was shut down for a scheduled preventive maintenance.

But Briones said even if the 84-MW plant will operate again, there is still a power supply deficit especially during peak hours of 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. when majority of the consumers use air-conditioning units amid the dry and hot weather due to the El Niño phenomenon.

Meanwhile, Briones said the blackout that hit Cebu the other day happened after the power transmission line from Talisay City to Compostela town tripped thus preventing the entry of power supply from Leyte.

Leyte supplies power to the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) grid and because the supply cannot pass through the Talisay-Compostela powerline, a blackout occurred especially in areas serviced by the Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) 1 and Cebeco 2, Briones said.

The blackout was a problem of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), a private firm that transmits power from the plants to the power distribution utilities, like the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco), Briones said.

Ethel Natera, Veco corporate communications manager, said yesterday they were advised by NGCP that the estimated power deficiency was 210 MW and Veco was asked Veco to deload 120 MW.

But Natera said the highest they had deloaded was only 21 MW in the rotation brownouts that started at 8:40 a.m. yesterday.

Beware of toxic school supplies, parents warned

Pinag-iingat ng isang environment group ang mga magulang sa pagbili ng school supplies para sa kanilang mga anak! Naglipana kasi ang mga gamit na yari sa plastik na may nakalalasong kemikal, at posibleng magdulot ng seryosong problema sa kalusugan!

Hearing on 'per pulse' mobile phone billing blocked

MANILA, Philippines - Regulators cancelled a hearing yesterday over telecommunications firms' failure to implement a new billing scheme for mobile phone calls, noting that the "per-pulse" scheme is being questioned before the Court of Appeals.

City helps Tinago fire victims in rebuilding houses

ALTHOUGH there will be no monetary assistance that will be given to the families who have lost their homes to the fire in Barangay Tinago, the Cebu City Government assured it will help them rebuild their homes.

Alvin Santillana of the Cebu City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) said the City Government will be extending its standard assistance given to all fire victims, which includes the distribution of housing materials.


Last Wednesday, a fire in the inner portion of Sitio Judas in Barangay Tinago razed at least 40 houses of some 85 families. The damage is pegged at P950,000.

In a phone interview with Sun.Star Cebu, Santillana said the City will be distributing P5,000 worth of housing materials to the victims.

"If they will need more housing materials, they will then shoulder the expenses," said Santillana.

The CDCC is currently checking the list of families for the distribution of the housing materials that include GI sheets and plywood boards.

Also, the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) has been distributing food, which will last for three days, to the fire victims.

Today, Santillana said the DSWS is expected to distribute "take home" goods, which include blankets, mats, mosquito nets, plates, pots, and a bag of canned goods and rice.

Carcar police chief relieved from post

FOR failing to make substantial developments in several cases in Carcar City, Supt. Renato Malazarte was ordered relieved as chief of police.

Acting Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Chief Erson Digal said he is assigning CPPO Operations Branch Chief Ali Baron to take over Malazarte's duties. Malazarte will replace Baron.

Digal pointed out that in three months Malazarte was unable to solve or file many cases.

These include the grenade blast that killed an elderly couple in Barangay Napo and the recent shooting of a barangay captain in Barangay Ocaña.

Digal said that while there were some leads in the cases, he noted a lack of effort in the gathering of information.

What needs to be done, he said, is to locate witnesses and get their testimonies in writing so cases can be filed.

Sun.Star Cebu tried but failed to contact Malazarte, who was sent to Tudela to oversee the implementation of a writ of execution. This was his first assignment as new chief of the Operations Branch


Digal said the switch of Baron and Malazarte took effect yesterday.

He also expressed confidence in Baron.

"I have trust in him. I've seen him work. He's very dedicated to his job," Digal said in Cebuano.

Baron, for his part, thanked Digal for the chance given to him.

"I accept whatever assignment they give me. But this assignment is a new challenge. There's an opportunity to grow," he told reporters.

During the interview, he was not sure about the appointment yet and kept saying he still had to see the official orders.

But he said if he is Carcar City's new chief of police, he will focus on the proper deployment of personnel to minimize crime.

Suspects in Carmen heist freed

THE two security guards who were earlier picked up for questioning in relation to the robbery of the Lhuillier dressing plant in Carmen, Cebu were released for lack of evidence.

Supt. Ritchie Medardo Posadas, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 deputy chief, said Melvin Cencio, 30, and Jesus Morales, 45, were freed last Wednesday afternoon after the Lhuillier management confirmed their employment as company guards.

Cencio and Morales were picked up for questioning after they were found in the company of alleged robbery gang leader Joshua Paring in an operation by a joint team of police operatives at 5:30 a.m. last Wednesday.

Paring died after he allegedly engaged the police in a shootout.


The operation also resulted in the arrest of Rolando Gonzales, 28, and Jonidie Sanico after the team reportedly recovered firearms in their respective houses.

Posadas said witnesses pointed to Paring as one of the five persons who staged the robbery and ran away with P300,000.

As for Gonzales and Sanico, Posadas said charges of possession of unlicensed firearms and violation of the election gun ban were filed against them yesterday afternoon.

Posadas said the CIDG 7 is still gathering evidence to establish their possible involvement in the robbery.

Acting Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Erson Digal said his office is verifying reports that Gonzales was one of those behind the killing of retired policeman Nonito Taoy late last year.

On Gonzales's earlier claim that he and Paring work for Rep. Ramon "Red" Durano VI (Cebu, 5th district), Posadas said they are still confirming this.

Gonzales, when interviewed by reporters last Wednesday at the CIDG 7 headquarters, said he works as a messenger for Durano, while Paring worked as a bodyguard.


Durano, in an official statement furnished to Sun.Star Cebu, said Gonzales and Paring are their election volunteers.

Paring, according to the statement, was not Durano's bodyguard because the latter has his official security detail assigned to him by the Commission on Elections.

"Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Paring and other volunteers do messengerial jobs on schedules of sorties and schedules of political meetings. We had no way of verifying… their personal circumstances or personal lives," the statement said.

"During elections, we welcomed the help of these volunteers because we needed all the assistance we could get…What they did outside our office was out of our engagement," the statement said.

Vidal to celebrate 25th year

CEBU Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal remains "strong" to serve the Cebuanos, as he prepares to celebrate his 25th anniversary as cardinal, an official of the Archdiocese of Cebu said yesterday.

Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese, yesterday said Vidal doesn't consider next week's celebration as his last.

Dakay said Vidal remains in good physical condition at 79.

Vidal is visiting his hometown in Mogpog, Marinduque and Lucena City in Luzon.

"We hope he remains strong within the coming years," said Dakay.

On Monday, a vespers will be held at 6 p.m. at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

At 8 p.m., Vidal will host a cultural night at the church grounds of the cathedral.

On Tuesday, a Eucharistic celebration, to be celebrated by Vidal, will be held at the cathedral at 10 a.m.

This will be followed by a film showing and book launching of Vidal's biography at 12:45 p.m. at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

Dakay said bishops from different dioceses in the country will attend the celebration.

'Cebu bloc to be a hollow bloc'

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña not only belittles the newly formed Cebuano bloc in the House of Representatives, but he also makes fun of it.

The Cebuano bloc is composed of congressmen in Cebu who want to unite their voices in the selection of the new House speaker.

They are congressmen-elect Eduardo Gullas (1st district), Pablo Garcia (2nd), Pablo John Garcia (3rd), Benhur Salimbangon (4th), Ramon "Red" Durano (5th), Luis Gabriel Quisumbing (6th) and Arturo Radaza of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City (7th)—all allied with administration party One Cebu.

Two names have been floated for the speakership of the House of Representatives. They are President Gloria Arroyo, who ran and won the congressional seat in Pampanga's second district and Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, who is congressman-elect in his city's fourth district.

Arroyo is with the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party while Belmonte is with the Liberal Party (LP).

Osmeña believes congressmen from other political parties will likely jump to LP, and eventually support Belmonte's bid.


In this regard, the mayor said the Cebuano bloc will become a "hollow bloc."

"It's a matter of time lang gyud, makuha na ni Belmonte iyang gusto. Unya kanang Cebu bloc, mahimo na unya nang hollow bloc (It's only a matter of time before Belmonte gets what he wants.

As for the Cebu bloc, it will become a `hollow bloc'," Osmeña said.

It's also possible the Cebuano bloc will support Belmonte, as they have not decided yet whom to support.

But Osmeña said LP provincial chairman Hilario "Junjun" Davide III, who ran but lost to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, will be more powerful than any of the congressmen in the province.

He said Davide has the support of LP standard-bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is leading the presidential race, and the LP provincial chairman will soon take control of Cebu, as far as projects are concerned.


Pablo John, when sought for reaction, said they expected Osmeña not to join them.

"He belongs to a different political party and we know that he will not join us. In One Cebu, we just agreed that we will work together as one bloc for what is good for Cebu," Garcia said.

He said they are reaffirming their alliances to push for Cebu's economic agenda and policies under a President, who belongs to another political party.

One Cebu spokesman Rory Jon Sepulveda said while Osmeña is welcome to join the Cebu bloc, the group is better off without him because the outgoing Cebu City mayor does not even know the job of a congressman.

Osmeña, who won as congressman in Cebu City's south district, said Belmonte has two months to form a majority bloc in Congress.

LP doesn't have the majority of the congressmen yet, but Osmeña is optimistic Belmonte will end up victorious with the help of Aquino.

"Klaro kaayo nga ang presidente makahatag og dakong influence kinsa'y mahimong speaker of the House kay siya mao'y muhawak sa pork barrel, kinsa may ganahan sa mga congressman nga mawagtangan ug proyekto (The President will have a big say on who becomes House speaker because the former controls the pork barrel.

Who among the Congress members want to lose projects)?" Osmeña said.

He said a congressman's performance is based on projects, and not on his legislative performance.


Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. said the LP hierarchy will not discuss any coalition with One Cebu without consulting its local leaders, especially Osmeña.

"Because the LP leadership is strict against admitting politicians whose names are tainted with corruption, I think only congressman-elect Luigi Quisumbing will qualify.

Benhur may also qualify but it will depend on how sincere he is in supporting the Aquino administration," Sanchez said.

Sanchez also questioned the allegations of cheating raised by One Cebu.

"I think that is one way to justify their failure to deliver the one million votes that they've promised to (presidential candidate Gilberto) Gibo (Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi). But for me, in a simple analysis, the bottom line is they failed to deliver the promised one million votes for Gibo. And now they are trying to make an escape about dubious or whatever stories of cheating," Sanchez said.

On the reports that One Cebu leaders are trying to talk to the Aquino camp, Sanchez said these can not be avoided since the Garcias want to survive.

"The principle of the Liberal Party is to get rid of corruption. We should stand by that principle to fight corruption. Those who want to join the Liberal Party must be free of corruption. So knowing that byline, I don't think somebody in One Cebu can pass," Sanchez said.

Pablo John said One Cebu has no plan to join the LP.

He also questioned Sanchez's authority to speak for Aquino's party.

"Granting LP will not accept members based on the said LP principle, then why is Sanchez there? He should not be there," Pablo John said.

Capitol recalls bry. multicabs

PINAMUNGAJAN Mayor Geraldine Yapha wants to find out who ordered the recall of four multicab vehicles from four barangays where Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia lost in the May 10 elections.

Yapha said the multicabs were taken by a Capitol team from Barangays Camugao, Tanibag, Lamac and Butong.

"The Provincial Government did not have the courtesy of calling me that they will get back the vehicles especially that Garcia offered them to the barangays through me," Yapha said.

Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) confirmed the pullout of the vehicles after information reached the governor that these were used for partisan politics in the elections.

Rep. Garcia said the vehicles were placed under the custody of the barangay officials under a memorandum of agreement with Capitol retaining their ownership.

"But these vehicles were used for partisan politics. This is illegal and a misuse of government property. Confiscating them is the first step. The second step is the filing of criminal charges against all barangay officials who used them for partisan political activities," Rep. Garcia said.

But Yapha said she wouldn't have minded the pullout had she been properly informed.

One barangay captain gave Yapha a copy of a letter informing her the Capitol would get the vehicles back.

Although not signed by Garcia, the letter stated "by the authority of the governor" and signed by Provincial Administrator Eduardo Habin.

The letter said the Province will use the vehicles for its official functions.

Yapha said that when the letter was delivered, the Capitol team, which brought with them drivers, immediately took the vehicles.

"The barangay officials and the people were dismayed because they have no more vehicles for barangay activities," the mayor said.

She said the barangay officials and the people of Camugao, Tanibag, Lamac and Butong now have to walk if they have to attend community activities.

Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez Jr. described the vehicle pullout as a political vendetta.

Sanchez said the officials of these barangays had supported the candidacy of Hilario Davide III for governor, not Gwendolyn Garcia's.

Capitol spokesman Rory Jon Sepulveda said the vehicles were not even recalled but confiscated since these were used for illegal activities.

"There were complaints. Several witnesses are willing to testify that these were used during the campaign period. We did not confiscate the vehicles during the campaign period so the culprits could not use (such action) as a political propaganda," Sepulveda said.

Granada assumes as mayor of Tudela town for 40 days

WITH less than 40 days left to serve his term, Demetrio Granada assumed as mayor of Tudela, Camotes Island amid tight security yesterday.

After obtaining a writ of execution from the Supreme Court to prove that he was the winner of the 2007 mayoral race, Granada replaced his rival, Rogelio Baquerfo, who previously won based on a Commission on Elections en banc decision.

Granada, in an interview yesterday, said while his rival may continue to object to his victory, he can not do anything as he was "being ordered" by the court to sit as town mayor.

"Permanente man gyud nang ilang objection, pero gisugo man ta sa korte nga palingkuron gyud ta as mayor. Unsa ma'y mabu-hat nako?" said Granada.

But while Granada is happy for being declared the rightful town mayor, he is in a quandary on what he can do for the remainder of his term, which will end on June 30.
"Wala gyud ko kibaw unsa akong buhaton sunod," said Granada, 81.

In a separate interview, Baquerfo said he is discussing with his lawyer the legal actions they will take to counter Granada's assumption.

After Police Regional Office 7 Director Lani-o Nerez secured approval to provide security escorts for a court sheriff, the implementation of a writ of execution placing Granada as mayor was carried out yesterday.

A platoon from the Regional Public Safety Management Battalion (formerly Regional Mobile Group) and two teams each from the Poro and San Francisco Police Stations were in Tudela to make sure tensions between supporters of Granada and his opponent Rogelio Baquerfo did not escalate into violence.

The platoon from the RPSMB 7 arrived in Tudela before the elections.

Acting Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Erson Digal assured the situation was not tense.

"But as law enforcers, we have to prepare so we sent enough forces," he told reporters.

The writ of execution stemmed from a Danao City Regional Trial Court ruling, declaring Granada the winner of the mayoralty race for the 2007 elections. It was Baquerfo who served as mayor since he was first declared the winner.

But Granada filed an electoral protest and a recount found him the victor.

Granada has a few weeks left to serve as mayor. Last May 10, he opted to run as a municipal councilor, while Baquerfo ran for mayor.

Digal said both men lost.

Digal, as reported by his men on the ground, said Granada was successfully installed as mayor of Tudela at 2:45 p.m., with no problems encountered.

Granada said he had somewhat "conceded" to Baquerfo when he no longer ran for mayor in this year's elections. He ran as councilor instead but lost.

He gave his Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (Bakud) party ally Erwin Yu the chance to run as mayor.

Yu beat Baquerfo with a hairline margine. Yu got 3,328 votes against Baquerfo's 3,016 votes.

With the few days left of his term, Granada said he will look into the welfare of the municipal workers by looking at what is left of the town's annual budget, which was affected when the political tug-of-war started.

Comelec laughs off allegations of 'Koala Bear'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) The Commission on Elections laughed off allegations of vote rigging made by a certain Robin, whom a lawmaker has described as looking like a koala bear.

He says he knows the source code but he cant even spell PCOS, Director James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said of Robin, saying that in the video appearance of the masked whistleblower, he spelled PCOS, which stands for precinct count optical scan machines, as PICOS.

Jimenez also belied the claim of Robin that a player PCOS machine was purportedly used to rig votes by blocking the transmission of real and authentic election results and, instead, transmitting padded or shaved votes.

Again, thats not true. If you knew the server, if you knew how it worked, then you would never make that claim, Jimenez said.

The official explained that in the event that two transmissions occur during canvassing, the system will allow both transmissions to enter the system, while alerting a human systems administrator of the incident.

What happens is it [the system] slams a gate down on these two or more transmissions and it raises a flag. The flag will alert a human system administrator so that the human can make a decision on which of the transmissions should be accepted or whether both transmissions should be rejected altogether, Jimenez explained.

So which means that, dun sa kwento ni Robin, pagpasok ng player PCOS, dahil nakatanggap na ng transmission yung PCOS, hindi na niya tatanggapin yung darating a few minutes later, kasi three minutes advanced daw siya eh. Sa totoong buhay, imbes na ibobox out yung tunay na PCOS, papasok yan pareho [based on Robins account, once the real PCOS receives the transmission, the player PCOS will no longer receive those that will be sent a few minutes later, because it is three minutes advanced. But in actuality, instead of boxing out the real PCOS, there will be two transmissions], he added.

While Comelec admitted that there were instances when the systems administrator had to intervene during the transmission, it said that these instances were forced.

Yes. We forced it. In some instances kung saan may duda tayo sa resulta, pina re-transmit natin para mag-flag [where we have doubts on the results, we request a retransmission so that it could be flagged] and so we are able to compare the first one, which we thought was doubtful and the second one. These were very specific instances where it was very clear which one was the right one. These were forced. It never happened in a real life situation yung nangyari lang ng kusa [that it just happened], Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said in the same news briefing.

The Comelec will answer in detail all the allegations made by Robin, Larrazabal said.

The Comelec official said concerned groups and other individuals should not immediately believe the claims of the supposed whistleblower.

Let me say this: are these the same people who said we couldnt turn around the elections? Are these the same people who said well have failure of elections? Are these the same people who said the PCOS machines wouldnt arrive? Are these the same people who said we couldnt print out the ballots? Their statements have all been disproven yet they continue to peddle lies. They have to stop already, enough is enough. You have to realize when to stop. Now if you have a legitimate complaint, there is a process, you can file a petition, you can file a complaint, and you have to follow that process, Larrazabal said.

Fraud operator's report does not jibe with surveys, exit polls

Hindi tugma ang mga detalyeng ibinigay ng nagpakilalang tauhan ng Comelec tungkol sa umano'y dagdag-bawas noong halalan sa resulta . Ito'y kung pagbabasehan ang mga survey at paunang resulta ng halalan! Samantala nanindigan ang Comelec na imposibleng dayain ang resultang ipinadala ng PCOS machines.

IT expert says electronic cheating report of 'Robin' was unlikely

MANILA, Philippines - The alleged electronic cheating disclosed by self-confessed election fraud operator "Robin" in the May 10 elections was impractical and unlikely, according to an Information Technology expert.

"Personally, I believe that the magnitude of the cheating that was exposed by Robin would not have been carried out within the time constraints that were available to them," Pablo Manalastas of the Center for People and Governance (CenPEG) said in an interview on ANC's Top Story on Thursday.

Manalastas further explained that cheating was "not practical" from the figures Robin gave during his interview with the media. According to Robin, their group has copies of the 15 million original ballots, and they transmitted their results to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) server before the actual PCOS machines in use in precincts and canvassing centers transmitted the results.

The claims were impractical, said Manalastas, because to succeed, the group should have the following logistics: 1) the National Printing Office should have managed to print 2 copies of the 15 million original ballots in front of observers, 2) Robin's group should have 30,000 PCOS machines, and 3) Robin's group should have 30,000 pollwatchers in these precincts, a far cry from the 12-men group Robin claimed they have.

Manalastas also added that the compact flash (CF) cards were re-programmed on May 3 and to successfully cheat on the elections, Robin's group must obtain copies of the re-programmed CF cards to make their claims plausible.

"To execute the entire plan, you need too many resources than what Robin is claiming," Manalastas said.

He also explained that if Robin's group indeed managed to get insider help from Comelec and Smartmatic, they still need 30,000 pollwatchers who will send word once a certain precinct is about to transmit election results.

"It wouldn't have been done on election day with the resources he described he had. Remember that transmission has to happen after 7 p.m. on election day. They need poll watchers in all their precincts [to succeed]," he said.

Also, Manalastas pointed out that if the group has indeed successfully transmitted the rigged results, the original PCOS machines would be unable to transmit their results in the Comelec server. "The results from the original PCOS machines would be rejected by the server and transmission would have failed," he said.

Final testing and sealing

Manalastas also added that Comelec should check with the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) to ensure that proper testing and sealing were done before the actual counting of the votes. The procedure is important in validating losing candidates' claims to election cheating.

"Ask the BEIs if they were able to do successful testing and sealing. It doesn't matter if the testing and sealing was done after the elections as long as they used the right CF cards for the counting," he advised.

Manalastas explained that Comelec has done numerous changes in the design of the ballots and each change should be aligned with the data on the CF cards.

"I'm not saying there is fraud but the count could be wrong if the precinct used the old version of the CF cards. The correctness of the count depends on the correctness on the match between the CF card and the ballot," he said.

Further, Manalastas narrated that because of the re-programming that happened on May 3, some areas got the CF cards either after the elections or too late on May 9 to conduct final testing and sealing.

"An ER (Election Result) will be correct only if the CF card passed final testing and sealing. Unless final testing and sealing is done, we cannot rely on the correctness of the count," he warned. The use of the correct CF card will determine whether the losing candidates' claims to fraud hold water, he said.

"Comelec should examine the results which came from the provinces where the delivery of the CF cards were delayed. Comelec has figures of the precincts that did not do final testing and sealing. It's possible to do that check," Manalastas adviced.

House probe into 'hocus PCOS' stalls Comelec tasks

by by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - The Congressional probe into allegations of electronic cheating during the automated elections is causing delays in the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) tasks, including canvassing and proclaiming election winners, an official said Thursday.

House urged to leave poll irregularities to Comelec

Malacañang advised lawmakers on Thursday to consider letting the Commission on Elections investigate charges of vote fraud, lest it be confronted with the danger of a delayed proclamation of the next President.

Comelec willing to reset date of special polls

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it is open to proposals to move the date of special elections from May 28, a Friday, to May 29 to give way to the Muslims' day of worship.

Poll technicians still upaid after hard work in far-flung villages

MANILA, Philippines – More than a week after the country held its first automated polls, technicians in charge of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines continue to air their complaints of unpaid wages and unescorted delivery of the equipment and other election paraphernalia to polling precincts.

Comelec focused on helping in joint session canvassing

MANILA, Philippines – Undeterred by allegations of election fraud hurled at them, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it remains focused on assisting in the upcoming joint session canvassing next week.

"We have already sent more than half of the certificates of canvass (COCs) and as we continue to send more, we are also helping out Congress in setting up their canvassing system," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said. 

Jimenez said that the joint session will be adapting a combination of automated and manual systems of canvassing. 

"They introduced some modification that is geared towards due execution, wherein they will both look at the canvassed ballots and the electronic copies of the COCs," he explained. 

Although Jimenez admitted that they still have to look into the allegations of election fraud raised by some parties, he urged the poll watchdog groups and the public not to lose their focus on finishing the task of canvassing, which has suffered further delays because of the time spent in attending hearings and investigations. 

"Although we respect the Congress for giving us the chance to explain our side, I hope that we no longer make this issue as big as it already is because instead of finishing the work at hand, all this issues are just causing more delays," he said.

The National Board of Canvassers (NBC) is supposed to finish the canvassing for the party-list groups this week. But the completion of tally and proclamation of winning candidates will have to take one more week because of the hearings that the NBC had to attend. 

Noynoy to AFP: Stay true to your promise

Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is likely to win the presidential race, on Thursday said he expects the military to stay true to its promise that there would be no coup d'etat in his administration.

Aquino answered in the affirmative when asked whether he believes the assurance of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for operations Maj. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan that the military will be "very stable" and "more professional" with Aquino as its commander-in-chief.

"Hindi ko maiisip na magiging hadlang sila sa pag-asenso ng bayan (I can't imagine them getting in the way of the country's progress)," Aquino said in a text message.

On Wednesday, Pangilinan said the only coup d'etat the AFP will mount in the Aquino administration is "against corruption, against poverty and against insurgency."

"I dont think pababayaan niya yung (he will take for granted the) Armed Forces. We are a great component, a big component of the society and also of the government. We can accomplish a lot for the society, not only for the administration," Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan also appealed to Aquino to pick a good secretary for the Department of National Defense.

The administration of Aquino's mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, survived several coup d'etats. In one military uprising in August 1987, the younger Aquino was among those shot near the gates of Malacañang. A bullet remains lodged in his neck.

In the just concluded elections, a former military officer who joined the bloody December 1989 coup Danilo Lim sought a Senate seat under Aquino's Liberal Party. Lim failed to make it to the winning circle.

The Philippine military is currently headed by Gen. Delfin Bangit, who is closely associated with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Bangit belongs to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 1978, of which President Arroyo is an honorary member. Several other ranking officials in the military are from the same batch.

Aquino to meet US envoy Friday

MANILA, PhilippinesPresident-apparent Benigno Noynoy Aquino III is set to meet on Friday with US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. as he expects to receive phone calls from other heads of state.

Aquino said Senator Manuel Mar Roxas II, his vice presidential candidate in the just concluded elections, will join him when he meets with the ambassador, who sought the meeting.

Im really not sure what the agenda isSiya (Thomas) ang pupunta sa akin, he said without saying where their meeting will take place, citing security reasons.

Asked if he has received any call from US President Barack Obama, Aquino answered in the negative.

On Saturday, Aquino said another head of state will make a phone call to him while others have also set appointments with him.

Noynoy has plans for Mar even if he loses VP polls

MANILA, Philippines - Even if Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II eventually loses in the vice-presidential elections, incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said his running mate will still have a role to play in his administration.

Noynoy on future Cabinet execs: a mix of the best, brightest

Former Arroyo Cabinet officials, influential lawyers, and even Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II - if ever he loses in the vice-presidential race - may compose the official family of Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III once his victory in the presidential race is formalized.
"You will be surprised at the positions, there will be new faces, some young, some old, there will be a mix of the best and the brightest," Aquino said at a press briefing Thursday night.

Aquino said he has plans for Roxas if Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, who is leading the vice-presidential race according to the partial and unofficial tally of more than 90 percent of election returns, wins as vice-president.

He said without elaborating that he and Roxas, whom he said had helped him a lot during the campaign, had already entered into an agreement. 

"This is whether he wins or doesn't win, meron kaming usapan (We have an agreement)," he said. He assured that he would observe the constitutional provision that bans the appointment of losing candidates within one year after the elections.

"Kung dalawa kami nagtatrabaho doon mas mabilis (If the two of us will work together then we can make headway at a much faster rate as far as leading this country is concerned)," Aquino said.

"The Firm"

Aquino also said he is not closing the door on the possibility of appointing members of the influential Villaraza Marcelo Cruz and Angcangco Law Office — also known as "The Firm" — despite widespread observations of them being influence-peddlers. 

"Mahirap magsalita nang sarado. Merong nanindigan din naman doon (It's hard to arrive at a conclusion this early. They also have principles)," he said.

Former Solicitor-General Frank Chavez had earlier accused former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz — both partners of The Firm who served under the Arroyo administration — of jockeying for positions in the Aquino government. 

Search committee

Aquino said he has a "search committee" in charge of the search for possible appointees in his administration. So far, former Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who also served under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the only one sure to return to her old post. 

Aquino, however, said he has asked President Arroyo's erstwhile peace adviser Teresita Deles to accept the briefing that will be given by Malacañang on the peace process. 

Both Soliman and Deles were members of the so-called Hyatt 10, which refers to the 10 Cabinet officials who resigned from the Arroyo government in 2005 during the height of accusations that President Arroyo rigged the results of the 2004 elections to favor her.

Aquino, meanwhile, neither confirmed nor denied reports that he is considering lawyer Jojo Ochoa as executive secretary. "Jojo Ochoa has been my principal legal counsel from the time I entered public service, which was in 1998," said the former three-term congressman of Tarlac.

Arroyo allies clinging to power may be out to sow confusion -- Binay spokesman

MANILA, Philippines -- A spokesperson for the leading vice presidential candidate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, has said that those behind the masked whistle blower that linked Binay to the fraud could purposely be creating conditions that could pave the way for President Macapagal-Arroyo to stay in power beyond her term.

Asked who would launch such a vilification campaign against winning candidates like Binay and Liberal Party presidential candidate, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, lawyer JV Bautista said allies of the Arroyo administration who wanted to remain in power would come to mind.

It is difficult to speculate but there are still forces out there who intend to sow confusion during this period, Bautista said.

(There are) allies of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who are capable of fomenting confusion by casting doubt on the electoral and thereby creating the conditions within which GMA could prolong her stay in power, he added.

The secondary suspects, Bautista indicated, would be the supporters of Binays closest rival for the vice presidency, Sen. Manuel Roxas II.

The secondary suspects are Binays foes. They should come clear, Bautista said.

Binay is ahead of Roxas by a slim margin of 800,000 votes in the canvassing of votes in the vice presidential race.

The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino is solid behind Binay despite the whistle blowers allegation that as part of his deal with election players Binay had votes shaved from Estrada and other candidates to be added to LP standard bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III.

Nothing has changed, Bautista said.

Bautista said the allegation that Binay had votes added to Aquino made the whistle blowers story even more unbelievable.

Estrada camp wary of congressional canvass

The camp of ousted President Joseph Estrada is worried that issues it plans to raise about the integrity of the May 10 elections may come to naught during the official congressional canvass that will start next week.

30 Lakas solons to jump to LP, says Tañada

Some 30 congressmen from the administration party Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats have expressed interest in crossing over to the Liberal Party (LP), a move that could bolster the bid of congressman-elect Feliciano Belmonte Jr. for the speakership, according to the spokesman of the party.

Arroyo lacks numbers to get top House post - partymate

Outgoing President and incoming Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does not have the numbers to get herself elected as head of the House of Representatives, according to Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who said Quezon City Mayor and congressman-elect Feliciano Belmonte of the Liberal Party has a better chance of getting elected House Speaker in the 15th Congress.

Militant group: 12 party-list reps to back GMA speakership bid

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing President Arroyo is expected to get the support of 12 representatives from elected party-list groups when she assumes office as congresswoman of Pampanga, militant group Bayan said.

"The campaign against pro-Arroyo party-list groups somehow lessened the effectiveness of some of these groups. However, they will still get at least 12 seats and are expected to align with Mrs. Arroyo, based on their track record and previous affiliations. We're still studying the likely alignments of the other groups," said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.

Reyes said among the groups  expected to be aligned with Mrs. Arroyo include party-list front runner Ako Bikol, which is accused of having links with favored Arroyo contractor Zaldy Co, who also hails from the same region.

The group is likely to get at the maximum of three seats. Other groups like Abono, whose representatives come from prominent families in La Union and Pangasinan allied with the administration, is assured of getting at least one seat and a maximum of two seats, Reyes added.

He said party-list groups You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP), Ang Galing Pinoy of former Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, Kasangga sa Kaunlaran of presidential appointee Teodorico Haresco and anti-communist group ANAD are likely to get one seat each.

The athletes group Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta whose nominee includes Miles Roces, son-in-law of former Arroyo official Lito Atienza, may get one seat.

Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilocano, a group that was cited in a Malacañang memorandum as an admin party-list may also get one seat, Reyes said.

"Arroyo can attempt to form her own block in the partylist system given the presence of her son Mikey, and her other allies...Even the disqualification petitions we filed with Comelec are being denied one by one," Reyes said. 

Escudero 'dark horse' in battle for Senate presidency?

Ang nagbabalik-Senado na si Franklin Drilon ang pambato ng Liberal Party para maging Senate President ayon sa napagkasunduan sa isang caucus ng partido kagabi. Pero inilulutang din ang pangalan ni Senador Chiz Escudero na siya umanong "dark horse" sa karera para sa panguluhan ng Senado.

Aquino may take oath before SC justice, but not Corona

Sa mga balitang bumabandila sa isang mahistrado pa rin ng taga-korte suprema posibleng manumpa si presidential front-runner Benigno Aquino III.  Pero, agad nilinaw ni Aquino --- hindi ito kay Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Noynoy on oath-taking: If not barangay chair, then Carpio-Morales

If he can't be sworn in by his barangay captain, leading presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III would like his oath-taking to be administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

'The Firm', Chavez clash over who's meddling in govt affairs

Ibinunyag ni dating Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo na nakikialam umano si Pangulong Arroyo sa pagdedesisyon ng kaniyang mga itinalagang mahistrado sa Korte Suprema. Pero binuweltahan ni dating Solicitor General Frank Chavez si Marcelo at ang kinabibilangan niyang "The Firm," dahil nakikialam din umano ang mga ito sa pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno.

Corona's record favors gov't secrecy

by By Purple S. Romero,
MANILA, Philippines - Newly installed Chief Justice Renato Corona is unperturbed by the opposition to his appointment, challenging his critics to first look at his actions before forming their conclusions.  

"In the unusual exigencies of present-day circumstances, I am all too keenly aware that so much more than the usual is expected of me," Corona said in a statement accepting his appointment.   

His initial moves suggest that he is out to prove that he is his own man, and not Arroyo's ally in the SC. He asked his wife, Cristina, to resign as president of Camp John Hay Management Corp. on June 30. Cristina was also appointed by Arroyo.
For members of the judiciary, having a family member who enjoys ties with the president is frowned upon because it raises issues of conflict of interest. In the US Supreme Court, Time magazine reported that the propriety of Justice Clarence Thomas was put into question because his wife works in the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank which can help make or break an appointment from the president. 
Corona acted on this issue belatedly, however. His wife had been appointed as head of Camp John Hay way back in 2007, when Corona himself was already in the Court (He was appointed in 2002).
Cristina's loyalty to Arroyo showed in 2008 when the former signed a manifesto in support of the president, who was accused of accepting a bribe from the aborted $329-million NBN-ZTE deal. 

Justice Corona was asked then to inhibit himself when the SC took up the case of whether former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri could invoke executive privilege when subpoenaed by Congress regarding the NBN-ZTE deal. 
Corona did not inhibit and voted in favor of Neri's invocation of executive privilege. 
Against info disclosure 

Aside from pushing for his wife's resignation, Corona has also started to become more visible, showing signs that he can keep the court open to the public.
He has become more accessible to the media. He started to make the media rounds after he drew flak because the media was not allowed to cover his oath-taking as chief justice Monday.  
He has so far granted interviews with radio stations and ABS-CBN television shows, where he reiterated that his capacity to be independent should not be judged prematurely.
It remains to be seen, however, if Corona's openness to the media and to the public will translate to his votes on cases. A look at how he voted in past cases involving press freedom and disclosure of information would show that he favors government secrecy.
Corona voted against the disclosure of the technical preparation done by the Commission on Elections for the first nationwide poll automation. Former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr., Protestant bishop Leo Soriano Jr., Quintin Doromal, Fe Maria Arriola, Isagani Serrano, and Rodolfo Lozada Jr. asked the Court to compel the Commission on Elections to make its preparation public following the malfunctioning of compact flash cards in various precincts days before the elections.
"[The] Comelec cannot shirk its constitutional duty to disclose fully to the public complete details of all information relating to its preparations for the May 10, 2010 elections without violating the Constitution and relevant laws," the Court said. Corona, along with Justices Roberto Abad and Presbitero Velasco, dissented, however.
Corona also voted in 2008 that prohibiting the media from playing "Hello, Garci" tapes does not constitute prior restraint.  
In the said case, the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Justice warned that the media would be sanctioned if they continued to play recorded conversations between President Arroyo and Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the canvassing of presidential votes. The conversations touched on securing Arroyo's votes in Mindanao during the 2004 presidential elections.
Another case that covered the issue of prior restraint involved Eliseo Soriano, leader of the religious group Ang Dating Daan. Corona voted with the majority who upheld the decision of the Movie and Television Review Classification Board suspending Soriano for saying profanities on air against the ministers of another religious group Iglesia ni Cristo.
Puno and Justice Antonio Carpio dissented, however, and said that Soriano's suspension equates to a violation of his freedom of expression.
Votes count more 
But the real proof of Corona's independence would be his votes in cases affecting not only her former boss, Arroyo, but also the incoming president, Aquino.
Corona voted in favor of the Arroyo administration in numerous cases. (Read: Justice Corona's voting record favors Arroyo
Corona, however, held that he voted in favor of the government because he believed that its position was right. Hence, it was a vote for the government, not for Arroyo.
It will be worth watching now how Corona will vote under a government in the hands of a new leader.(

Ombudsman to complete 7-year term

OMBUDSMAN MA. Merceditas N. Gutierrez would finish her seven-year term ending in 2012 amid questions raised over her independence as a close friend of the presidential family.

Transfer of 15 cops in Maguindanao massacre sought

State prosecutors have asked a Quezon City court to order the transfer of 15 policemen involved in the Ampatuan massacre to Camp Crame, saying they their lives were in danger because they have agreed to testify for the prosecution.

Pinay with baby face expulsion from Norway for visa violation

by By Macel Ingles, ABS-CBN Europe Bureau
OSLO - A Filipina married to a Norwegian man has been ordered to leave Norway in the next 2 weeks for violating a working visa provision in her passport. 

The decision was handed down by the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) after the Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI) found Laila Navrud, 28, violated visa provisions that stipulate that she can only work as an au pair in the country.

Also facing expulsion is her 6-month-old son with husband, Ole Kristian Navrud.

Laila entered the country as an au pair 3 years ago and met Norwegian Ole Kristian Navrud. The couple married in 2008 and applied for family reunification and a working permit for Laila.

The UDI issued a working permit with the code that, unknown to her at that time, stipulated that she can only work as an au pair. This stipulation was not indicated in the actual permit and neither was it made clear to her when she got her permit.  

In January 2009, UDI found Navrud in violation of her visa when she reported that she had worked at a bakery and café. 


The decision of the Immigration directorate to expel Navrud and her young son has sparked widespread outrage in the country with both national and local politicians adding their voice to condemning the decision.  

A local mayor of Modum county where the couple reside had pledged to raise money for the legal appeal of their case and called the decision "unreasonable."

A lawyer has also offered his services for free to the couple. Their case is now being handled by Arne Seland from the legal firm Feydt who offered to take the case pro bono.

A Facebook group called the "Støttegruppen for Ole Kristian Navrud og familien" had been set up to gather support for the beleaguered family. Its members calling for a review of the case has reached 54,000.

Prime Minister's orders case review

In an interview with Norwegian TV2, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg promised a review of the Laila case. He said that while it can be understandable that many people can be moved by individual cases, he also said that it is "wiser to be open to look at the rules that apply to individual cases and at the same time make sure that the rules apply to everyone. It means, he added, that if the rules have to be changed it had [to] be applicable to everyone."

The expulsion order for Navrud and her son takes effect June 3 but their case is now being appealed.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas props up peso

by Reuters
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine central bank or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas sold dollars on Thursday to support the peso, which was hurt by the euro zone debt crisis, traders said.

$1: P45.990

$1: P45.990

Euro 1: P56.4571

With Aquino victory, US investors see good prospects

by By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
NEW YORK - With a new Philippine President coming into office in July, the financial climate in the Philippines is said to be favorable for investors.

Gov't posts P2.6B budget surplus in April

MANILA, PhilippinesThe national government registered a budget surplus of P2.6 billion in April.

The Department of Finance said this was a result of the P124.5 billion in revenues collected and P121.9 billion in revenues spent.

Still, the deficit in the first four months of the year reached P131.6 billion, up from P118 billion in the same period in 2009.

For 2010, the government is aiming to limit the deficit to P193 billion.

Filipinos in Bangkok safe amid violence

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos in Bangkok stayed indoors following the imposition of a curfew in the capital city after the military dispersed anti-government protesters starting on Wednesday.

Manny agrees to blood test; megafight on?

MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao is willing to take the blood test to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. The 31-year-old Filipino, who just became the first boxer in history ever to be elected to Congress, said he's willing to take the blood test as long as they're not done close to the fight.

Freddie Roach to train Ana Julaton again

MANILA, Philippines – "Trainer of the Year" Freddie Roach is set to work his magic again on 2-time world champion Filipino-American Ana "The Hurricane" Julaton.

Pacquiao to study in UP before Congress opens

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-elected congressman of Sarangani province Manny Pacquiao seems bent on becoming successful in performing his legislative duties in a way that is no different from how he has won his championship bouts – by preparing hard.

KC picks Ai-Ai as Kris's replacement on 'The Buzz'

MANILA, Philippines – Actress and "The Buzz" host KC Concepcion was saddened by co-host Kris Aquino's decision to leave the weekly entertainment program.

With Robin Padilla, Wowowee's ratings go up

MANILA, Philippines – Robin Padilla is happy that popular noontime show "Wowowee" continues to do well in terms of television ratings after he took over the show 5 days ago.

Filmfest in Israel to feature 6 Filipino movies

MANILA, Philippines – The organizers of the 2010 Cinema South International Film Festival in Sderot, Israel will focus on Philippine films by featuring 6 critically acclaimed and unique Filipino films, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced.

PAGASA: Expect hotter days ahead

MANILA, Philippines - Hot summer days may continue until the second week of June according to PAGASA.

Metro Manila sizzles at 37.5°C

MANILA, Philippines - Metro Manila sizzled with the maximum temperature hitting 37.5 degrees Celsius on Wednesday afternoon.

Heat kills Army recruit during training in Isabela

MANILA, Philippines – The scorching heat has claimed the life of an army trainee while 16 other recruits suffered dehydration during the first day of their training in Isabela province on Wednesday.

How did the senatorial candidates and parties coming from the ranks of the left-wing social movements fare in the last election? What does their showing tell us about their strengths?

Two political blocs with social movement origins fielded senatorial candidates in either the LP or the NP slate. These are the AKBAYAN (ranked 4th in the party list election) bloc, led by senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel who joined the LP team; and the national democratic (natdem) bloc, whose Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) ran in the senatorial election under the NP banner.

Risa's votes

Among the three candidates, Risa performed best, landing 13th place with approximately 8.5 million votes. This means her base has expanded far beyond the 981,020 people who voted for her party, Akbayan. Her own social networks outside of the social movements (classmates, former colleagues in the media, kin and their own circles) certainly contributed. But we can surmise that the biggest contribution came from the NoyMar constituency of about 13 million.

This large base not only includes the Liberal Party supporters, many of whom voted straight, but also the ordinary citizens from the public at large who were inspired by the Noynoy's promise of change. There are also non-NoyMay supporters who voted for Risa because they wanted more competence in the Senate and a new name outside of the same, old family names. Indeed, many have expressed regret that Lito Lapid instead of her didn't make it to the Magic 12.

It is very unlikely that the natdem base of about 2.85 million people voted for Risa given the unfriendly relationship between them. Akbayan and the natdem party list groups locked horns in Congress on how to advance agrarian reform. They are at odds over the pending indemnification claims of the human rights victims of the Marcos regime. The greater hostility takes place on the ground and has led to harassment mostly of Akbayan campaigners. Akbayan has been a vocal critic of the CPP-NPA's practice of imposing permit to campaign fees.

The natdem's electoral base

How did I get the estimate of 2.85M natdem (electoral) base? I drew this from the total votes garnered by the natdem party list groups. Other than Bayan Muna (ranked 7th) and Gabriela (ranked 5th), these are the Anakpawis (ranked 16th), Kabataan (ranked 17th), ACT Teachers (ranked 20th), and the Katribu Indigenous Peoples' Sectoral Party (ranked 67th). While 2.85 million is not enough for a full-pledged natdem to become senator without outside help, it is good enough to get them some seven seats in Congress.

Note that Liza Maza chalked up 3,587,956 votes and Satur Ocampo got a slightly lower tally of 3,298,262, to land 25th and 26th place, respectively. This shows that the people who wanted Ocampo and Masa in the Senate did not go much beyond the estimated natdem circle of 2.85M.

Between Bayan Muna and Gabriela, it would seem that the latter is able to appeal to a slightly wider base. Liza got almost 300T more votes than Satur. Gabriela, after all, has been able to help many abused women. The campaign against domestic violence has a broader appeal, beyond the more politicized groups, although violence against women is certainly political. To its credit, Gabriela is the only women's group that has landed a party list seat in Congress in consecutive elections since it joined the race in 2004.

It is also possible that some of Satur's votes went by mistake to the unknown Ramoncito Ocampo of Bangon Pilipinas but we'll never know now.

Little added value from Villar

If we can credit NoyMar for a huge chunk of Risa's vote, we cannot also ignore Villar/NP's contribution to Ocampo and Maza. But then, Villar got only about 5 million votes. Assuming Ocampo and Masa got most of their other votes from Villar, the courtesy-of-Villar votes will translate to only about 450,000 votes (the difference between Ocampo's votes and 2.845M). This means that the alliance with Villar did not do much good for the natdems.

Would they have fared better if they ran under the Liberal Party, with Noynoy? Very likely, although they would most likely still fall short of the top 12. In any case, the natdems already closed the deal with Villar even before the "Noynoy for president" momentum began.

Big contribution to Villar

Assuming only 2M of the 2.85M natdem constituency voted for Villar, the natdems delivered more for Villar than he did for them. The natdems does constitute a bloc vote, similar to the Iglesia ni Cristo.

But we can assume that not all followed the central command. Indeed in Region 4A (CALABARZON), Satur got 154,658 more votes than Villar. The gap between Liza and Villar is even higher at 232,195 votes. In Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN), Satur and Liza got slightly 25,000-27,000 more votes than Villar.

But barring any organizational level-betrayal of Villar, and crediting the discrepancy in these two regions to aberrant acts of natdem followers and to additional votes from non-natdems/non-Villarites for the natdem senatoriables, 2M natdem believers voting for Villar is a fair estimate.

Two million is about 40 percent of Villar's votes. The natdems delivered and Villar certainly got his money's worth from them.

Villar also benefitted from taking in Bongbong Marcos and the KBL. Who contributed more, the natdem left or the Marcos right, is hard to tell. Villar came next to Noynoy in Regions 1, 6 and the ARMM but it was in the Marcoses' Region 1 that he was only 10 percent short of Noynoy's votes (642,000 against Noynoy's 715,595). We can also presume that Bongbong helped pull up Villar's votes in other places, considering that he got about 12 million votes as against Villar's 5 million. But it's quite clear that majority of the more than 10 million people who voted for Bongbong and the full-pledged, victorious NP senatorial bet Pia Cayetano did not vote for Villar.

Geographic spread

Majority, or 63%, of the votes for the natdem partylist groups came from Luzon, including Metro Manila. The trend is consistent with the votes for Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza. Approximately 65% of the two's total votes came from Luzon and Metro Manila.

Satur's and Liza's votes are highest in the NCR, Region 4A (CALABARZON) and Region 3 (Central Luzon), in that order, with votes ranging from 398,000 to 643,000. Votes of 100,000 to 200,000 are spread out in all the other regions except for Region 4B (MIMAROPA), Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), CARAGA and the ARMM, which registered below 100,000 votes.

In all, the natdems are rather weak in the Visayas and in Mindanao. In Luzon, they have lost many followers in MIMAROPA and the Cordillera. Only about 60,000 voted for Liza and Satur in these two regions, while Villar got considerably higher votes.

Still a political force

Still, compared to all left-wing social movement forces, the natdems remain the strongest and most consolidated. Although Akbayan aced all of them in rank, the natdems are thrice larger than Akbayan's voting constituency. They are more than 20 times larger than the base of Anak Mindanao and Partido ng Manggagawa, among whose leaders were former natdem personalities who belonged to the 1970s and 1980s generation of student activists.

To conclude, the natdem's fortunes in relation to the Senate has not changed since 1987 when they even more ardently aimed for the Upper House, with several senatorial candidates running under their own party, the Partido ng Bayan.

On the other hand, at the Lower House, they have cumulatively increased their presence, proving that they remain a political force. This success in turn shows that the party list system, despite its loopholes, has enabled the access of social movement groups and forces to the state's representative institutions.

Dealing with Aquino

The next administration would do well to institute the needed electoral reforms that will ensure fairer chances for others groups, unfamiliar names and new faces in the next electoral contests. This way, the natdem left will not be discouraged from investing more efforts (and strategizing more wisely) in the electoral arena, away from the recourse to armed, political violence.

Peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF can also support this process of instituting the guarantees of fair play and rule of law (on both sides), and identifying a basic set of shared policy reforms that can be collaboratively pursued, or competitively but nonviolently discussed in the public arena in cases of policy difference.

Getting one or two natdem personalities into the Executive branch and keeping lines open with the natdem party list representatives can help build bridges and combine constituencies in advancing key legal reform areas as well as in the jockeying for key positions against the Arroyo bloc in the Lower House.

The natdems, for their part, have serious thinking to do as to how they will relate to the new Aquino presidency. They can choose to be the extremeyl opposed to it and be marginalized as in the earlier Aquino presidency, or they can take their chances by treading the "critical collaboration" path.

*This analysis was based on ABS-CBN's consolidated election data posted in its online site and accessed on May 19 and 20, 2010.

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