POSTSCRIPT / February 19, 2012 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Both Noy and Corona should explain SALNs

NOTHING TO HIDE?: The nation is awaiting President Noynoy Aquino’s disclosure of his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, bank account balances and psychological report as suggested by Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

President Aquino has challenged the Chief Justice to immediately disclose his SALNs and bank balances (but omitted his medical history) that are being scrutinized in the Corona trial before the Senate impeachment court.

“If you hide it, then you must be guilty,” the President told the Chief Justice. In reply, Corona challenged him to make public his own records. We agree. Fairness dictates that the protagonists stand on level ground.

The Batangueno CJ reminded the President: “Mayroon po tayong obligasyon na ipakita sa taong-bayan na maayos ang ating pagiisip.”  (We owe it to the people to assure them we are of a sound mind.)

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INSTANT REBUTTAL: It is only fair that the accuser and the accused make a simultaneous disclosure “para magkaalaman na.” After all, Mr. Aquino himself is in a hurry to have the people know the truth.

But that might be difficult to do as the trial follows an established pattern. Under the rules, the prosecution presents its case first. Until the accuser is done, the accused has to wait toward the end to present his defense.

The President’s idea of an instant rebuttal is not in the rules. His statements calculated to embarrass Corona as hiding something may work with an uninformed crowd, but not with those who know and respect the procedure.

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BALANCE: Still, I love a President who can take what he dishes out, especially because I presume that Noynoy Aquino has nothing to hide.

This observer will be happy to see the President’s idea of an instant reply worked into the rules. I prefer to see the defense given the chance to reply RIGHT AFTER the prosecutor closes its presentation on an article of impeachment.

This will also be good for the media seeking to balance their reports. This will minimize speculative interpretation dominated by the one-sided presentation of the prosecution.

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WHY 8 RAPS?: This prompts me to repeat a point I raised earlier. As a non-lawyer, I understand that only one charge can be filed against an impeachable official within one year.

How come in the Corona case, not one but eight scattergun charges were filed? It has been explained to me that the eight items are the articles of only one impeachment charge. Still, I think the matter should be revisited.

The eight articles are not similar to one another. Each one is not a duplication or a mere elaboration of the other articles. We actually have a litany of eight distinct and separate charges disguised as one.

If they are only one charge, as the prosecution claims, ALL THE EIGHT articles comprising the alleged one charge should be proved to gain conviction.

If one article is not proved, that one would bring down the entire complaint. The eight articles – if they truly comprise just one charge – must rise or fall together.

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GUARDED OPTIMISM: The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas enters 2012 with guarded optimism even while other countries grapple with their own economic difficulties.

Scanning the global environment and its linkages to the Philippine economy, BSP Vice Gov. Cyd Tuano-Amador (Monetary Policy Sub-Sector) said that while we are not immune to global headwinds, we are “well-insulated.”

Briefing officers of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) days ago, Dr. Amador recalled that a barrage of shocks hit the global economy in 2011. She mentioned the weak recovery/sub-par growth of United States, the European sovereign debt worries and banking system fragilities.

There was also the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan (which had immediate and direct impact on Philippine industries) and the violent unrest in some oil-producing countries spiking the price of petroleum products.

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GLOBAL GROWTH: Amador reported that global growth in sum is expected to be moderate through 2012.

She cited projections of the International Monetary Fund showing that the growth of the world economy which was 3.8 percent in 2011, would dip to 3.3 percent in 2012. It was 5.2 percent in 2010.

Specific growth forecasts are: for advanced countries/regions from 1.6 percent to 1.2; United States, from 1.6 percent to 1.8 percent; Euro area from 1.5 percent to -0/5 percent; and emerging and developing countries from .2 percent in 2012 (a drop from 7.3 percent in 2010) rising to 5.4 percent in 2012.

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SOLID OUTLOOK: The BSP official said the overall growth outlook for the Philippines is solid.

For 2012, government authorities foresee a growth of 5-6 percent, although the Asian Development Bank places it at 4.8 percent, while the IMF has it at 4.7 percent. Bloomberg Consensus also sees it at 4.7 percent.

Optimism is buoyed by credit rating upgrades: Fitch Ratings has raised our credit rating to BB+ from BB with a stable outlook; Moody’s raised Philippine and foreign currency to Ba2 from Ba3 with a stable outlook; and Standard & Poor’s upgraded our credit rating from stable to positive outlook.

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SPILLOVER: But Amador said some global economic woes could spill over into the Philippines through a number of channels:

1. Trade in goods — US and Europe each account for about 15 percent of Philippine exports

2. Trade in services — In Business Process Outsourcing, about 75 percent of total BPO receipts are from the US and 7 percent from Europe. In tourism, 17 percent of tourists are from the US and 10 percent from Europe.

3. Remittances — More than 40 percent of remittances (through the banks) of overseas Filipinos are from the US and about 20 percent from Europe. In 2011, overseas workers remitted $20 billion, a new record high. In 2010, it was $18 billion.

4. Investments — The US accounts for 48 percent of gross foreign direct investments, while Europe accounts for 5 percent.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 19, 2012)

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