Malacañang public petition page coming soon

First published in The Philippine Star, 2 November 2014

The government is planning to establish an online petition platform similar to the White House petition page of the US government.

In line with its efforts to expand and improve the government’s feedback mechanism, the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office will put up an online platform for petitions on the gov.ph website, PCDSPO said.

“Users will be able to log in and post petitions, which will then be open for e-signatures from the public. When a certain signature count is reached, an official response will be posted,” it said.

The PCDSPO said discussions on the design and features of the platform have been made.

The communications group has opened a webpage http://bit.ly/1qcE0wO where the public can provide constructive insights until Nov. 15.

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WikiLeaks bares plan to bury VFA review in ’09 (1/3)

First published in The Philippine Star, 22 October 2014

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had planned to “bury in bureaucracy” the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 2009 to take the “issue off the front pages” months before the 2010 elections, according to a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.

The STAR recently reviewed the cables released by WikiLeaks in 2011 in the light of the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Subic earlier this month, allegedly at the hands of a US marine. The suspect, Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, is under custody of his superiors on the USS Peleliu.

The incident sparked calls for a review or abrogation of the VFA.

One particular cable, dated Sept. 24, 2009 and supposedly classified confidential by then US ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney, revealed the circumstances behind the Philippine government’s plan to review the VFA that year.

According to the cable, the DFA decided to conduct a comprehensive review of the VFA “to reduce the intensity of the debate and allow further consideration to take place in a less charged, post-election environment.”

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2016 poll ads start making rounds online

First published in The Philippine Star, 5 October 2014

MANILA, Philippines – It’s still more than a year before the 2016 presidential elections, but the Internet – particularly social media site Facebook – is already teeming with pages urging various personalities and politicians to run for the top post in the land.

And while Vice President Jejomar Binay appears to be the frontrunner in the next presidential race based on surveys, it was a different story when it came to his popularity on Facebook.

The STAR conducted a search yesterday on various personalities to verify the existence of “For President” pages bearing their names, and results showed the most popular was the one urging Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to run in 2016.

Called “Bongbong Marcos for President” movement, the Facebook community page – started just in August – already has over 238,000 likes.

“(It) is a movement of people united with the vision to bring Philippines back to greatness, to glory. We believe we need young, brilliant, progressive leadership to accomplish this. And so, we push and encourage others to call for the Presidency of Senator Marcos in 2016,” read the page’s description. Read more of this post