POSTSCRIPT / October 25, 2012 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Let voters make own definition of ‘dynasty’

GOVERNMENT?: Now and then we still come across statements of Malacañang referring to an Aquino “government” when obviously what is meant is “administration.”

One wonders if it is ignorance or arrogance that prompts Palace spokesmen and press release writers to consider the Aquino administration as the government.

A sample statement: “Malacañang says Aquino government remains optimistic that amendment to Anti-Money Laundering Act would be passed by Senate.” There are other similar statements.

Is this a hint of a longing for, or a case of plagiarizing usage in, parliamentary setups where the government includes the Prime Minister and members of Parliament – a commingling of powers that is not true of our tripartite system?

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PALACE CONTROL: The media themselves seem to have swallowed the Palace line. Note that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, for instance, is referred to by the press as a pact between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The agreement is only between the Executive (not the government) and the Muslim band. It was negotiated and signed only by one of the three branches of government. The Congress and the Judiciary are not a party to it.

Malacañang’s freely referring to itself as the government is understandable. The Executive appears to have succeeded in placing under its control, or at least influence, the Supreme Court, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

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MNLF VS MILF: The Malacañang-MILF Framework Agreement for a Bangsamoro, while having been widely accepted by war-weary spectators in and outside the country, is also encountering a little identity problem.

The Moro National Liberation Front headed by Nur Misuari, who refuses to be left behind by history, insists that only the MNLF and not the MILF is recognized by the powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation as the representative of Filipino Muslims.

The OIC recognizes the MNLF, having given it and no other Philippine group an observer status. We still do not know if the attendance of the OIC’s secretary-general in the Oct. 15 signing of the Bangsamoro deal in Malacañang will alter that.

My guess is that the OIC will be inclined to recognize, or at least keep an open mind on, the Bangsamoro pact – because it is a step nearer to an emerging Moro sub-state in Mindanao. The OIC sympathizes with Filipino Muslims whom it perceives to have been abused and dispossessed.

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CREDENTIALS: As we have been saying from the very beginning, Malacañang should have been careful to ensure first that it was talking to the right party.

The matter of credentials is basic. By what process did the 12,000-strong MILF win the status of being the sole authentic representative of the close to five million Muslims in the Philippines?

Was it enough for Malacañang that the MILF was endorsed by the United States (and naturally its allies)? American strategic designs in the South are too obvious to ignore.

President Noynoy Aquino should level with the people and also disclose the reasons why Malaysia, if it had no ulterior motives, refused to give up its role as a “facilitator” in the talks in Kuala Lumpur.

How is the Bangsamoro deal related to the Philippine claim on Sabah? Is the granting of autonomy — which might even require constitutional amendment — lead to the Muslim sub-state later embracing the Malaysian federation?

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DYNASTY DEFINITION: In the Senate, hearings have started on renewed proposals for the enactment of a law defining “political dynasty” as prohibited under the Constitution.

This belated move will not prosper because of lack of time and lack of support of enough senators, many of whom could be adversely affected by a ban on political dynasties.

But if they want publicity, senators can ride on the debate over political dynasties, whose candidates in the 2013 polls litter the landscape.

A bill of Sen. Miriam Santiago seeks to ban the spouse or relatives within second civil degree of consanguinity of a sitting elective official from running for a public post in the same province.

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FIGHT BACK: There are suggestions to extend the definition to include families and close relatives of incumbent elected officials on the national level.

But even without a definition by law, people already have a sense of who are members of political dynasties who are taking advantage of their family names to get elected.

If the dynasties, old and new, dominating the Congress refuse to pass a definition, what each Pilipino can do is decide for himself who are dynastic candidates — and reject them at the polls.

Since the dynasties refuse to listen to the public, voters can then fight back by using their own definition.

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AT THE BOURSE: We got word that the Securities and Exchange Commission is set to initiate reforms as a result of its investigation of allegations that some traders may have engaged in questionable transactions that affected the share prices of some listed firms.

The SEC acted on a request of the chief executive Joseph Calata of agriculture distribution firm Calata Corp. to find out what or who may have caused the impressive spike in its share prices just two weeks after its initial public listing.

The commission endorsed the matter to the Capital Market Integrity Corp. to investigate. We heard the CMIC has recommended the imposition of fines on some brokerage firms that may have been responsible for the unusual price fluctuations.

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STRICTER RULES: Judging by the character of SEC chair Teresita Herbosa, the stock market is likely to see important reforms, such as stricter procedures for identifying and processing parties opening a brokerage account.

The present procedure may be too lax. All that is required are the filling out of the standard Customer Account Information Form, and the submission of two ID pictures and two signature cards.

Banks have stricter requirements for the opening a checking account. Some banks want an applicant to disclose the nature of his business and his sources of income. They want to make sure the account will not be used to launder money.

Herbosa reportedly wants those opening a brokerage account to submit copies of their income tax returns and undergo a background check of their business.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 25, 2012)

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