Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, Rep. Liza L. Maza, Rep. Rafael V. Mariano, Rep. Raymond V. Palatino, Rep. Teodoro A. Casiño and Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan have filed a resolution in Congress asking government agencies to look into allegations that tycoon Lucio Tan had defrauded the government of as much as P330 billion.

The Commission on Audit’s annual reports on Maguindanao have always highlighted deficiencies in the province’s finances. In its 2008 audit report, the commission found that it could not ascertain the validity of the provincial government’s claim that the province had more than P107 million pesos deposited in banks. The COA also could not verify the existence of properties and assets worth P345 million pesos that the province said it had.

The unchecked rule of political warlords like the Ampatuans, army and police units like those controlled by President Arroyo’s mistahs, and warmongers in government like General Hermogenes Esperon and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, make up a culture of tolerance for killings and contempt for the rule of law. Thus, this culture of impunity traces itself right back at the doorstep of Malacañang.

Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of abducted peasant organizer Jonas Burgos, left for the United Kingdom last week to attend a forum organized by Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines-United Kingdom (CHRP-UK), Amnesty International-UK and the British trade union group Unison, which aims to highlight the problem of enforced disappearances in the Philippines.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and Congressman Mikey Arroyo seemed to have their roles down pat by now. When the big three oil companies raised oil prices yet again this Oct. 20, despite the disaster-wracked times and despite charges of persistent overpricing thrown their way, these three government officials just continued their role – speak like they want to change the situation but allow the oil companies to have their own profitable way in the end.

Reporters Without Borders today released its Press Freedom Index for 2009. In it, the Philippines ranks 122, compared to last year’s 139. This suggests that press freedom in the Philippines has improved, regardless of the many killings, attacks and intimidation being faced by Filipino journalists. But over the years, the country’s rankings in the index indicate a worsening of press freedom.