Home » 2005 » December

Monthly Archives: December 2005

Our issue for December 31, 2005

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

December 31, 2005 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: Man of the Year —Archbishop Oscar Cruz

When Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz launched his national crusade against jueteng in 2001, he did not set out to overhaul Philippine society. His goal was to save poor Filipinos from a vice in which they had been wallowing for generations. Neither did he believe he could eradicate jueteng. All he wanted to do was wake up the poor to their exploitation by the gambling lords and their political and police coddlers. To do that he needed to leave the sacristy and step out into the world to stand for morality, fast departing from the Philippines under the rule of politicians and their relatives who have no conscience. It was not difficult because he never believed that priests should confine themselves to their churches and leave the world to governments. His flock was out there, neither pulling themselves out of poverty nor being helped by the government to pull themselves out. Instead they were burying themselves deeper in poverty in trying to win a few hundred pesos and buy a good meal for one day—only a few were winning and just for show. Those who were getting rich were the gambling lords and their political patrons—mayors, governors, members of Congress—and corrupt police. The fall of President Joseph Estrada showed how high in the government the corruption had reached. But Estrada’s ouster did not even reduce official corruption from jueteng. Instead it worsened, the crusade found out. To carry out his self-imposed mission, Cruz would have to go up against the powers that be and work with their enemies. He would endanger many lives including his own. It didn’t matter. From talking to journalists about the wider spread of corruption from jueteng, Cruz went on to bring his crusades findings before an investigating committee in the House of Representatives, where nothing happened, and before two investigating committees in the Senate, where the bravest of his witnesses exposed the involvement not only of local government and high-ranking police officials but also of members of the family of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. None of the people whose greed had been exposed had been prosecuted, but two members of the presidential family had to leave the country for a while and jueteng lords had to rethink their illegal business. For a while, jueteng was reduced. President Arroyo appointed a jueteng fighter whose efforts might have helped a little to the reduction. Most of it was the result of Cruz’s fearless fight. He was not completely successful but he showed what determination driven by sincerity could do in fighting vice and corruption. For stepping out of the church and standing for morality on behalf of the poor, for fearlessly challenging the high and mighty, for showing that vice was never reduced but got worse under the Arroyo administration, and for creating a wider public awareness of the evil that is jueteng and its influence in the country’s corridors of power, Archbishop Oscar Cruz is the Free Press Man of the Year for 2005.

By Ricky S. Torre

(more…)

Advertisements

Our issue for December 25, 2005

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS
December 24, 2005 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: The Consultative Commission (with 10-page supplement on the constitutional amendment consultations)

After three months of consultations across the country, the 55-member Presidential Consultative Commission submits its report to Malacañang this week. The report contains the commission’s proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution that the Palace says it will respect. But the mood is different in the House of Representatives, which wants Congress itself to amend the Constitution. The House is waiting for the commission’s report and should this turn out radically different from the politicians’ plans, the House will challenge the legality of the commission in the Supreme Court. As of last weekend, the commission was redrafting the report to produce a compromise version free of the influence of the federalists in the consultative body. As it was, the draft report was partly based on the constitution of the Citizens Movement for a Federal Philippines and planned to be inserted into the Constitution. This will not do.

(more…)

Our issue for December 17, 2005

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

December 17, 2005 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: Twisted Key

Virgilio Garcillano faces the congressional investigation into the Arroyo tapes on Wednesday without even the slightest credibility. Sen. Joker Arroyo is unwilling to get the Senate involved in the proposed joint hearings with the five House committees investigating the scandal because the exercise will just be a waste of time. It is now clear that since his return last week with incredible tales about his nearly six months’ disappearance that Garcillano, once believed to be the key to explaining the tapes to the nation, did not come out to tell the truth about last year’s presidential election. He came out to force a closure to the scandal as Malacañang, which is now protecting him, has designed it so that the opposition will have no strong evidence to bring another impeachment case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo next September. Garcillano will answer any question except about the tapes, central to the investigation and evidence of the fraud. His reason is that the tapes have been illegally obtained and cannot be used in any investigation. He is right under the law and that will be his shield during the investigation. But the Filipino people have already heard the tapes and no explanation by any legal light, even by the Supreme Court perhaps, will convince them that their votes were not stolen. And that is why no matter what Garcillano say during the investigation the people and even the investigators will not believe him. More important to the investigation now is Samuel Ong, the former NBI deputy director who knows the provenance of the tapes. Both houses of Congress want to talk him but his too scared for his life to come out.

By Ricky S. Torre, Wendell Vigilia and Butch Serrano
(more…)

Our issue for December 10, 2005

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

December 10, 2005 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: Pag-IBIG Fund Anniversary (with 8-page, full-color supplement)

2. Garci Talks

Virgilio Garcillano surfaces and claims he has never left the Philippines during the five months that he disappeared after the Arroyo tapes scandal broke out. Singapore’s Foreign Ministry must have been lying when it informed the Philippines that Garcillano transited Singapore on July 14 on his way to another country. He says he had been moving around fearing for his life because he had learned that Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s men were looking for him. Lacson? Why Lacson? That’s Malacañang, of course. Without Fernando Poe Jr. and Raul Roco, Lacson, the third-placer in last year’s presidential election, is the biggest threat to Mrs. Arroyo—as a possible alternative to her, that is. So Lacson’s men are no longer looking for Garcillano, that’s why Garcillano has decided to come out? No. He says that “after [he was] convicted before the bar of public opinion, the people are now ready to hear the truth.? How’s that—after convicting him, the people are now ready to listen to him? To his lies, the opposition says. Opposition leaders says Malacañang is behind Garcillano’s return. That’s most likely true. Malacañang has been insisting on closing the book on the Arroyo tapes scandal, but has acknowledged that there can be no closure unless Garcillano comes out and tells all. So here is Garcillano saying Mrs. Arroyo did not rig the election and setting conditions for his appearance before the Arroyo tapes investigation in the House of Representatives: lift the arrest warrant issued against him, recall the bounty offered for his arrest, and he won’t talk about the tapes during his questioning. He has also asked the Supreme Court to quash the warrant and stop the House investigation because the tapes were illegally obtained. The man just doesn’t want to be investigated. Without discussion of the tapes, what will the congressmen discuss with him? If the investigation is not completed, the accusation of electoral fraud against Mrs. Arroyo remains and she will have to defend herself in another impeachment in Congress next September. It is doubtful, however, that the Supreme Court will meddle in the business of Congress, a co-equal branch of government. Besides, before Garcillano can complain of being the victim of illegal wiretapping, he first has to admit that he is indeed Mrs. Arroyo’s phone pal and they are really the ones talking about rigging the election on the tapes. If he does, he confirms the charges against Mrs. Arroyo. She faces impeachment, he faces six years in jail (for electoral fraud alone). The congressional investigators are willing to accommodate him: if he is willing to talk, the warrant and the bounty fly. His supposed fear for his life doesn’t sell: he is more valuable to the opposition alive than dead; the reverse is true for the administration. Lacson says it is to his interest that Garcillano lives so that he can tell the truth about the election. PDP-Laban Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. of Makati, chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage, says, “Everybody wants him alive so we can catch him in his contradictions.?

By Ricky S. Torre, Wendell Vigilia and Butch Serrano
(more…)