Witness pins GMA, FG Mike Arroyo in 2007 election fraud

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) presented this morning fifteen Election Officials in the Province of Maguindanao who were witness to alleged election irregularities during the 2007 Senatorial Elections in the Province.

Also presented was former Maguindanao Provincial Administrator Norie K. Unas, the right hand man of former Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. According to COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., Unas was the one who “stage managed” and rigged the election results in the 2007 polls, upon the instruction from, said Brillantes, “the highest official of the land.”

Read part of COMELEC’s press release today:

“The 2007 elections in Maguindanao was marred by an absolute commission of fraud and irregularity,” said Brillantes, who with Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and COMELEC Commissioner Elias R. Yusoph, led the press conference this morning at the poll body’s Main Office.

Unas and the fifteen Election Officials and personnel submitted their respective Affidavits before the COMELEC, detailing their knowledge in election irregularities in the 2007 polls.

In his Affidavit, Unas directly linked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her spouse former First Gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo in 2007 Maguindanao election fraud.

Unas, in his affidavit, said President Arroyo’s instruction to Datu Andal during a dinner meeting held at Malacanan Palace days before the 2007 elections was: “Dapat 12-0 sa Maguindanao, kahit pa ayusin o palitan niyo ang resulta.”

Unas also said that he was told by Gov. Datu Andal Ampatuan that, “Utos ni FG, kelangang 12-0 ang result sa Mguindanao… at kailangan walang makuhang boto si Cayetano.” He said this came after Ampatuan met with the former First Gentleman at the LTA Building in Makati. Unas accompanied Ampatuan during that meeting.

DOJ Secretary de Lima, for her part, cited the significance of Unas’ testimony, saying that “this is the first time that a witness has direct personal knowledge pointing to the first couple” as alleged perpetrators of election fraud. ###

Here’s Norie K. Unas

Norie K. Unas 

Download Unas’  Affidavit here.

The Election Officers and personnel from Maguindanao who were presented by the COMELEC today are:

  • Saliao Amba (Mamasapano town),
  • Maria Susan Albano (Datu Unsay town),
  • Nena Alid (Talayan),
  • Alice Lim (Pagagawan),
  • Susan Cabanban (General S.K. Pendatun),
  • Magsaysay Mohamad (Sultan sa Barongis),
  • Araw Cao (Mangudadatu),
  • Estellita Orbase (Shariff Aguak),
  • Jeehan Nur (Ampatuan),
  • Salonga Edzela (CVL Tech, Maguindanao),
  • Ragah Ayunan (Rajah Buayan),
  • Russam Mabang (Pandag),
  • Asuncion Reniedo (Paglat),
  • Rohaida Khalid (Datu Saudi), and
  • Norijean Hangkal (Guindulungan).

Photos from the COMELEC Education and Information Department

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NYCHRP statement on Arroyo’s “Simple” Dinner


IS GLORIA THE NEW IMELDA?

Filipinos in New York Respond to Arroyo’s “Simple” Meals

Despite the claims of the Arroyo administration, there are certainly simple, inexpensive culinary pleasures to be had in New York City. While the Big Apple is certainly home to Wall Street power lunches, Tavern On The Green, and the Russian Tea Room, it is also home to the $1 pizza slice, the $1.25 hot dog from the street vendor, and the $4 over rice plate in Chinatown.

And with New York unemployment reaching a record high of 400,000 in 2008 due to the economic crisis, these cheap eats are becoming everyday fare for more and more New Yorkers.

In fact, New Yorkers would be the first to rebuke Philippine Presidential Press Secretary Cerge Remonde’s claims that the recent New York City dinner of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her travel entourage was a “simple” dinner, or the line that such expensive rates are “standard” in New York City.

There was nothing “simple” about Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s entourage drawing up a $20,000 tab for two tables at the ritzy Le Cirque Restaurant in Manhattan. Surely such a feast for the 65 Philippine bureaucrats who literally wined and dined to their hearts content could have easily fed several small villages in the Philippines itself. What blows our minds even more is the recent news that the infamous $20k extravaganza was preceded by a similar $15k fete in Washington DC, where Arroyo and her entourage dined at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse after her state visit with President Barack Obama.

As Filipinos in New York, this degree of extravagance from a Philippine Head of State is both vulgar and, unfortunately, familiar. Before the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, former First Lady Imelda Marcos was known for closing entire floors in Saks Fifth Avenue for her million-dollar shopping sprees. In 1982, Imelda arrived in New York to shop with 40 assistants and 300 suitcases. The previous year, Imelda purchased a Park Avenue apartment and its contents for a lump sum of $9.5 million. According to People Magazine, the then-First Lady even imported workers from the Philippines to help in refurbishing rooms in the Manhattan properties she bought. At it’s height, the Marcos family had purchased billions worth in New York City real estate, including the $51 million Crown Building and the $60 million Herald Center. Ironically, Imelda declined on purchasing the Empire State Building at $750 million, claiming it was “too ostentatious”.

But while the rest of the world was agasp and Filipinos vowed never again to such bawdy displays of lavishness, Arroyo’s latest spending spree on her so-called “simple” meals indicate she may have been taking notes from the so-called Steel Butterfly all along.

Conversely, a 2008 survey in the Philippines conducted by Gallup International revealed that four out of every ten Filipinos reported having little or no food at all on their tables in the last 12 months. At 90 million, the Philippines has one of the highest population growth rates in Asia. The Arroyo government’s failure to resolve increasing food insecurity in the country leaves hunger and malnourishment a reality for the majority of families in the Philippines.The most acute pangs of hunger remain in the densely-populated urban slum communities of Metro Manila, where just stone’s throw away from Arroyo’s residence, at least half a million families lack food.

Such excessive spending on food in the face of extreme hunger cannot be tolerated. Arroyo and friends have some serious explaining to do to the millions of poor Filipinos, including our families, whom we strive to support with our hard-earned remittances.

If $20k for dinner is “simple”, then how much would “decent”, “normal”, and “fancy” cost, by Arroyo standards? And if the Marcoses still have the gall to this day to swear by their dead patriarch’s glass coffin that they did not spend billions in Philippine public funds for their own whims, even amidst credible evidence indicating gross graft and corruption on their part, aren’t Arroyo, Remonde, et al playing the same tune when it comes to their arrogantly unapologetic stand on these dinner tabs? Does one need to be a communist to put two and two together, or is this a case of plain common sense?

In fact, an examination of Arroyo’s penchant for lavish spending of public funds during foreign trips coupled with her propensity for political repression and human rights violations of her own countrymen, may make her the star combination of both Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ worst traits– all wrapped up in a tiny 4’11” moled package.

Is Gloria the New Imelda in terms of spending? With her “simple” dinner costing tens of thousands in US dollars, the answer doesn’t look too bright for us mere $1.25 hot dog eaters. But then again, do we really want her to stick around in office long enough to find out?

Let us take our cue from Philippine history. In 1983, the death of one Aquino, who’s star shone brightly against the darkness of tyranny and corruption, contributed to fast tracking an ongoing people’s movement that toppled a dictatorship marked by repression, corruption and obscene lavishness. Today, in 2009, with the Arroyo administration embodying these same traits, shouldn’t the death of another Aquino, who perhaps shined even brighter, do the same?

Of women, fire and rapists

The month of March this year may forever be ingrained in Philippine history as among the worst to ever hit Filipino women.

fireThough it is supposed to be “Women’s Month,” the string of events that unfolded recently made it a lot like the government’s so-called observance of “Fire Prevention Month” (which coincidentally falls on the same month as that of Women’s); a time where, quite paradoxically, incidents of fire happen to hit us most.

On the first day of March, I was awakened by a loud and seemingly unending blare of sirens. I think this was around 9 AM. I thought there was a fire nearby, so I hurriedly went up my roof to check if there is a cloud of black smoke in the vicinity. Fortunately, there was none and the entire ruckus was just a parade of fire trucks to warn us against playing fire – March being fire prevention month and all.

Seriously though, that earsplitting commemoration didn’t sink into me until I happened to open my TV and learned on the news that a fire has razed the Baguio City Public Market and an SM Mall in Cavite. “Ahh, Fire Prevention Month nga pala ngayon,” I told myself. “Kaya pala may parada ang mga bumbero.”

For me, the government’s, particularly that of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) yearly commemoration of the “Fire Prevention Month” is just a smokescreen to hide their utter inability to protect us from fires in one of the hottest months of the year. We all know that the BFP is poorly equipped and undermanned. So I only have pity for those brave firefighters who regularly come to blows with major fires donning only tattered and substandard firefighting clothes while their bosses up the ladder have only grease lining both their mouths and pockets for eating lechon on a regular basis and for the millions of grease money forked from private companies who sell the same substandard firefighting equipment.

That, my friends, is my brief explanation why I think “Fire Prevention Month” is a joke.

nicole_smith1

And so when I heard of the news that a twenty one year old woman was brutally murdered and molested on the night of March Fifth in Davao; I thought this incident would surely solidify the women’s movement that’s set to march on March 8 for International Women’s Day.

Also, I knew this would be a setback to the peace process, considering that the victim is a daughter of legendary New People’s Army Commander Parago. The victim was elementary teacher Rebelyn Pitao.

And then, after an alleged and much touted “30 minute” phone call of US President Barack Obama to de facto Philippine President Gloria Arroyo recently, “Nicole” was reported to have suddenly “recanted” her story on her alleged rape by US Serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

junk_vfa1Her so called “recantation” was widely seen by her lawyers and the women’s groups as an underhanded ploy to weaken the Filipino people’s movement against the lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). They also asserted that the US government, with the help of the Arroyo regime, has pressured “Nicole” to issue her alleged “recantation” to weaken the rape case against Smith, thus making it possible to finally spirit him out of “detention” from the US Embassy.

Indeed, “Nicole’s” sudden turn around is suspect. Note that this happened at the height of clamor to have the VFA abrogated. And after the Obama-GMA phone chit-chat, note further that the Philippine government has resurrected from the dead moves to extradite police officers Mancao and Dumlao who is believed to hold the key in pinning the mastermind on the murder of PR man Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

The Department of (In) Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales has publicly said that Mancao and Dumlao are ready to link opposition stalwart Senator Panfilo Lacson and former President Joseph Estrada to the Dacer-Corbito killing.

Ex deal? Probably. But one thing’s for sure: This government is ready to sacrifice the dignity, not only that of rape victim “Nicole” but the entire nation’s as well, for its own political survival.

PHILIPPINES-CRIME-POLITICS-JUSTICEAnd then the unthinkable happened. Former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, who was convicted of raping an 11 year-old in 1996, was ordered released courtesy of an executive clemency issued by the de facto President. (Play Smoke‘s funny Jalosjos game here. I scored 185!).

The joke that is the annual “Fire Prevention Month” has indeed rubbed off to “Women’s Month” under Gloria Arroyo. To think that we have a woman presenting herself as President.

I sure dread the day when I’d be saying “Aah, Women’s Month pala ngayon. Kaya pala may nagahasa na naman.” I hope this would come not in my lifetime.

Why should Roxas apologize?

Putang ina naman talaga ang cha-cha ni Gloria e.

Anti-Chacha Rally in Makati Dec 12, 08 (AP photo)

Anti-Chacha Rally in Makati Dec 12, 08 (AP photo)

Arrogant

nogralesWhen I read today House Speaker Prospero Nograles’ remark that only members of Congress can decide on the fate of the charter change they so want to ram through our throats, I prayed that the ebola virus strain found recently on Philippine hogs infect only the kind of pork Congressmen like Nograles worship  – pork barrel.

“Only members of Congress can vote on these measures and they may possibly be influenced by the public outcry. But the demonstrations on the streets and its leaders cannot vote for or against Cha-cha [Charter change]. It’s the vote of congressmen and senators that will count. Not the streets,” Nograles said in a text message.

Not the streets? Nograles should be reminded that it is demonstrations in  the streets that catapulted his boss, Gloria Arroyo, to power – the one he and his like minded hogs in Congress wants to remain president forever.

It is the height of official arrogance and elitism for him to now claim that only Congressmen hold the sole authority to decide on issues , like cha-cha, that will affect the very lives of the Filipino people they are supposed to represent.

The cha-cha Nograles wants would not only extend Arroyo’s hold to power, it would also get rid of the very few patriotic provisions left in our charter like the ones disallowing total foreign ownership inside our soils. This is why people flatly rejects any moves to amend our constitution.

Nograles’ remark, however, shows how prostituted our present congress is. That they now  have ceased to become representatives of the people, boasting only of a constituency that comprises that of Arroyo, her family and a handful of others who desperately wants to cash in on Gloria’s illegitimate and unpopular rule.

Shame on you Noggy. I hope you catch ebola in your pork.

OFWs take on the fight for the “ST 72”

Middle East-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has recently launched a petition denouncing the Arroyo regime’s continuing persecution of political dissenters as evidenced in the arbitrary arrest of 72 political activists in the Southern Tagalog region.

Initiated by Migrante Middle East, the petition read in part, thus:

We oppose and will act against the tyrannical hand of Arroyo regime victimizing activists, and warn the inclusion of migrant rights leaders and advocates to be victims of its tyrannical rule.

Overseas Filipino workers and their families cannot and could not remain silent in the midst of the continued repression and political persecution of peace-loving activists who have done nothing wrong but who have unselfishly offered their lives and time for the establishment of a just, democratic, and peaceful Philippines.

The series of reported cases of arbitrary arrest due to trumped up cases filed against activists from Southern Tagalog have reached to the information and concern of our overseas Filipino workers around the world.

It is really uplifting to learn that our kababayans overseas still cares about what’s happening right now in the country, particularly under this regime who violates peoples’ rights – left and right and  with impunity – just so they could cling on to power.

They give a new meaning to the phrase “bagong bayani” or modern day heroes.

For the Arroyo government,  they are “heroes” because it is their hard earned cash that is keeping this bankrupt economy from collapse. But for me, they are heroes because not even the oceans could stop them from doing their patriotic duty of working for a democratic, peaceful and just homeland.

I urge everyone, especially the OFWs to sign the OFW-initiated petition by clicking here. To learn more about the arbitrary arrests in Southern Tagalog, click here.

US heart Gloria

A call center in each province. This is Gloria Arroyo’s vision for the country as told in her speech before the League of Municipalities in the Philippines in Manila Hotel last week.

“Gusto natin magkaroon ng maraming call center sa bansa, hindi natin kayang maglagay sa lahat ng inyong bayan, pero sana naman, lahat ng inyong probinsya [We want many call centers in the country. We can’t put up call centers in every town, but we hope, in every province],” she said in a speech before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

“So I instructed the commission on ICT to make a technical study on the resources needed to transform every province in the country into an ICT enabler,” she said.

So “pleased” was Arroyo with the booming Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector in the country that she unceremoniously came to the defense of one call center company who was reported recently to have laid-off 900 of its employees due to the biting financial crisis.

Arroyo said she was “very alarmed” at the reported layoffs in Advanced Contact Solutions Inc. (ACS), and had it checked.

“So we checked with that center, ACS, and they totally denied it,” Arroyo said in a speech before she switched on the University of the Philippines-Ayala Land Techno Hub in Quezon City on Friday.

“In fact, they are looking for more workers and they were even telling us the story that other call centers like Teletech and others read the news, they called up ACS and said, where are the workers you are laying off? We want to absorb them right away, but ACS said they were not laying off anyone: ‘We’re looking for more,’” she said.

Looks like Arroyo is really determined to transform the entire country into a nation of graveyard shift “zombies”, or as Misunderstood puts it, “sleep deprived, nicotine inhaling, cab riding new breed of Filipinos.”

Glamorous, you think? Hold on, she explains:

We are just like the rest of the working class, overworked and underpaid. We are forced to defend the big banks, superstores, telecoms or any account that we are handling. Just like any proletariat, we are alienated from these giants that we work for. We apologize for things that we do not have anything to do with. We fix problems that to start with, we did not create. We are the cheap, apologetic and docile answering machines on the other end of the line. The receiving end of the ire and rants of shortchanged customers.

So, now that we’ve seen Arroyo’s dream for the country, lets move on to how she intends to make this dream a reality, and fast: Executive Order 758.

The EO allows “qualified foreigners who are granted the SVEG (Special Visa for Employment Generation) shall be considered special non-immigrants with multiple-entry privileges and conditional extended stay, without need of prior departure from the Philippines.”

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan is self-assured that this presidential directive would create 100,000 new jobs in the country.

Libanan said the new SVEG is timely with the expected slowdown in the global economy next year, and will put the Philippines ahead of other countries in Asia in inviting more foreign capital.

“We are looking forward to the time when less Filipinos would seek employment abroad because we are already bringing the investors and the jobs their investments will create here in our country,” he said.

Guess what type of “jobs” Libanan and his boss are referring to? B. P. O. Arroyo wants to have call centers in every province, remember?

But for Migrante International, Arroyo’s order validates the “semicolonial set-up” we have in the country.

“…foreign corporations are given free reign to plunder and exploit our resources indefinitely, while our workers are nailed to deplorable working conditions and slave-like wages,” Garry Martinez, Migrante Chairperson said.

Martinez said that this would “step up the labor export program of the Arroyo government and the hegemony of big foreign corporations and businesses in the country.”

The long and short of it.. We have a tuta (puppet) for a president and here’s the proof.

Never mind if the people are transformed into overworked and underpaid “zombies”, so long as she remains the “US’ best friend”.

o0o

Click here to see why call centers, even in each of the country’s provinces, can’t stem the massive migration of Filipino workers abroad.

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