MANILA – In a landmark trial the Philippines chief justice was impeached yesterday, a major political score for President Benigno Aquino III’s anti-corruption campaign – an effort that officials feel is key to helping the Philippines emulate its neighbours economic growth Chief Justice Renato C. Corona was found guilty of failing to declare financial assets by more than 2/3 of the county’s senate, in a trial coming soon after the prosecution of Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for corruption and election fraud. After Corona’s fall, how the case against former President Macapagal-Arroyo plays out could be key to altering perceptions that the Philippines is a messy place to do business. “Corruption has made investment uncertain and means companies don’t really know how safe the Philippines is to put their money,” said Mon Casiple, director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER).
MANILA — By April 14, the latest date for which figures are available, 38 election candidates had been killed during the January to mid-April campaign period, according to Felix Vargas, spokesman for the government’s task force on elected government officials. The figure does not include campaign workers and candidates’ assistants who were killed. Professor Rommel C Banlaoi, the director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR), told Asia Times Online that “cases of election related killings from the use of illegally armed groups have been recorded and to date numbers more than 100” The Maguindanao atrocity was the largest recorded mass killing of journalists in a single incident. The massacre was carried out to deter an opposition clan, the Mangudadatu family, from running in the elections against the government-backed Ampatuan clan. This case and other, less well-known clashes in the southern Philippines and elsewhere illustrate how elections raise the stakes for volatile local bigwig rivalries
DILI — Since the 14th Philippine Congress opened in July 2007, over 30 measures aimed at revising the post-revolutionary 1987 Constitution have been proposed, the dry legality often offset by catchy acronym nicknames such as ‘CON-ASS’, ‘CON-CON’ and ‘CHA-CHA’. These have provided rich pickings for tabloid headline writers and online rabble rousers, with one such item now doing the cyber-rounds listing the “CON-ASS-HOLES” who backed the latest move to change the constitution. The item refers to those in Congress who on June 2 voted in favor of Resolution 1109, which would allow the lower house of representatives to vote itself into a so-called constituent assembly (CON-ASS) — without the support of the upper house, or Senate. CON-ASS, it is believed, will pave the way for constitutional or charter change (CHA-CHA), a move that could enable President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to extend her term in office beyond the six years mandated by the current constitution.