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The Daily Tribune

(Without Fear or Favor)



World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Philippines

The Philippines Matrix Project

Our energy ‘Sputnik’ moment DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 09/30/2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

The usual divide and rule path

Click to enlarge
The divide and rule tack of Noynoy’s yellow appointees at the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is working perfectly, which may be enough to destroy the global reputation of the bank.

The DBP is the government’s premier commercial bank which, along with the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), that in turn was created to supposedly serve the vast agricultural sector, was designed as tools for the country’s development.

Lately, however, the only development that has been seen at DBP is infighting among its officials and a bitter feud among Noynoy’s appointees and the past leadership of the bank.

The conflict within the DBP is a microcosm of the many conflicts within the fractious Noynoy administration.
The public, for instance, is now used to hearing about the Balay and the Samar factions’ internal struggle in Malacañang and the almost public display of one faction pathetically trying to outdo the other.

There were also several instances when Noynoy’s yellow people tried to impose their will on the agencies that they colonize.

At the DBP, the yellow appointees backed by the minions of Noynoy’s cronies are supposedly on a crusade to cleanse the state bank of its crooked past.

On the cross hair of the yellow appointees are the former DBP officials and businessman Roberto Ongpin who has long been suspected by the yellows and the new administration officials to be a chief crony of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

Employees were not asked but ordered to turn in what they knew about past irregular dealings and when the evidence is considered insufficient, it does not matter that these are manufactured to suit their whims.

The turf battle at DBP has reached international notice, with credit watchdog Standard and Poors issuing a subtle warning about a possible downgrade of DBP’s credit grade that would make it more expensive, if not difficult, for the bank to borrow abroad or the value of guarantees that the bank gives on loans to private companies degraded.

The derating on the bank, it being an integral part of government, may also reflect on the overall credit grade of the country.

The conflict at DBP only goes to show the shortsighted character of Noynoy and the people around him in running the government or its different arms.

Noynoy similarly has the penchant of deciding based on immediate needs while not seeing the future implications of his decisions. A clear proof of this, was his donating $1 million to the Japanese victims of the earthquake that happened way back in March.

The day after the donation, while he was still in Japan, typhoon “Pedring” struck, devastating most of Luzon, including Metro Manila.

Those left in the country found out to their dismay that only P3 million was left in the calamity fund to be spent which would not last for long for the many victims of the devastation caused by the typhoon.

The DBP situation would not have been blown out of proportion had the appointees of Noynoy shed their cloak of conceit and sought cooperation from employees of the bank instead of threatening them.

As it turned out, the appointees of Noynoy are being resisted by those who they are supposed to work with in improving the performance of the state bank.

Consider that the first order of business of Noynoy’s appointees was to dig up alleged irregular loans transacted with the bank instead of attending to the many requests from troubled business sectors for government assistance.

A serious reform at all levels of government is indeed expected from the administration of Noynoy but not through an abrasive mob-like manner that the yellow crowd surrounding to which Noynoy is accustomed.
Now, trouble at the DBP is near tipping point with the employees up to the managerial level appears to be closing ranks against the appointees of Noynoy.

The resolution of the conflict in the state bank would require either most of the employees being terminated or the appointees of Noynoy being sent packing out of DBP.

The latter is more ideal but would likely not happen with Noynoy’s help.

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110930com6.html

The usual divide and rule path EDITORIAL Click to enlarge 09/30/2011

The usual divide and rule path

Click to enlarge
The divide and rule tack of Noynoy’s yellow appointees at the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is working perfectly, which may be enough to destroy the global reputation of the bank.

The DBP is the government’s premier commercial bank which, along with the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), that in turn was created to supposedly serve the vast agricultural sector, was designed as tools for the country’s development.

Lately, however, the only development that has been seen at DBP is infighting among its officials and a bitter feud among Noynoy’s appointees and the past leadership of the bank.

The conflict within the DBP is a microcosm of the many conflicts within the fractious Noynoy administration.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune
URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/

Cha-cha on their mind FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 09/30/2011

Cha-cha on their mind

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Senate and House leaders during their first Legislative Summit yesterday reportedly agreed on a new mode of amending the Charter to be called the “bicameral constituent assembly (con-ass)” whereby the two chambers come together, but vote separately on the proposed amendments to the 1987 Charter.

This way, said some leaders, the controversial provision regarding the matter of a three-fourth vote from all the members of the entire Congress, i.e., the House and the Senate, voting as one body and not separately, will have been resolved through the “bicameral con-ass.”

As long as this mode of changing the Charter is not challenged before the high court, that mode is likely to push through. But what if this is challenged?

It has to be pointed out that there are only two modes by which Congress can amend the Charter and the first mode stated clearly in the Constitution says that “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by (1) Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or (2) a constitutional convention (con-con).”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110930com2.html

Down with the billboards NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 09/30/2011

Down with the billboards

Armida Siguion-Reyna
This lola did not agree with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) anti-smoking memorandum that empowered its men to arrest smokers caught on sidewalks and curbsides and inside private vehicles on Edsa. Neither, with its suggestion to arm traffic enforcers.

With the first, it wasn’t so much to defend smokers’ rights, as it was to recognize the myriad crimes taking place in the city’s main artery na nadadagdagan pa, imbes kumonti. Never mind the jaywalkers, although those who reject the use of walkways and pedestrian lanes run the risk of being hit-and-run victims. Mas dapat bang unahing hulihin ang naninigarilyo kaysa sa mga rugby solvent-sniffers, motorcycling thieves grabbing cell phones and handbags and bands of minors preying on unlocked taxis?

Regarding arming MMDA traffic enforcers to protect them from the deleterious effects of “road rage,” well, I’ve let out my bit about that, almost just recently, here in this same space. The proposal was borne by the “lack of respect” for the MMDA man-on-the-road, reasoning along the lines of “If we can’t respect him, then we arm him, so he’s able to shoot back.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110930com4.html

Palea vs the people C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 09/30/2011

Palea vs the people

Jonathan De la Cruz
Unfortunate and grave! This is all I can say about that wildcat strike launched by the Philippine Airlines (PAL) employees’ union, Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea), last Tuesday, as Typhoon “Pedring” battered the metropolis. That strike stranded thousands of PAL passengers not only in the country but overseas and disrupted for a good 11 hours the operations of the nation’s flag carrier. One passenger, a certain Annie Recio, who was flying to Iloilo to visit her ailing mother and who braved the rains to be at the airport on time only to be told flights were cancelled summed the public’s sentiments well when she said “while she could sympathize with the Palea members’ plight what they did was unforgivable...they have a responsibility to the passengers and the public to do their job and not let them suffer as well.”

Indeed, that strike could not have been done at the worst time. There was a typhoon, people were hurrying to their destinations and essential cargoes were being moved in, out and around the country that any kind of disruption would cause irreparable damage not only to PAL but probably even more to its customers such as Recio whose presence beside her ailing mother was beyond any consideration. No wonder she was visibly shaken and angry when she got interviewed by members of media..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune
URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110930com5.html

Senate, House agree on Cha-cha By Angie M. Rosales, Charlie V. Manalo and Virgilio Bugaoisan 09/30/2011


Senate, House agree on Cha-cha

By Angie M. Rosales, Charlie V. Manalo and Virgilio Bugaoisan 09/30/2011

It took a Legislative Summit organized by the leaders of both houses of Congress to agree on amending the Constitution through a newly introduced mode that will enable the House and the Senate to vote separately, instead of jointly, as stated in the Constitution.

But Malacañang said it is not keen on pushing Charter change even if it is only to amend restrictive economic provisions but that it would not stop Congress if one or both chambers proceed in pursuing constitutional reforms.

Leaders of both chambers of Congress yesterday agreed, during the summit, to proceed separately on the manner by which to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The Constitution is, however, clear on the modes by which Congress can amend or revise the Charter, and in both instances, the Charter states that both chambers must vote jointly, either with a three-fourths vote for Congress itself to introduce amendments, or two-thirds, or a majority, again voting jointly, to amend the Charter through a constitutional convention..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110930hed1.html

Ball on Palace’s court, SC says on tolls VAT By Virgilio Bugaoisan and Benjamin B. Pulta 09/30/2011

Ball on Palace’s court, SC says on tolls VAT

By Virgilio Bugaoisan and Benjamin B. Pulta 09/30/2011

The Supreme Court yesterday said the ball is on Malacañang’s court whether or not to impose the value-added tax (VAT) on road tolls starting tomorrow as there is no more legal impediment with the lifting of the temporary restraining order on the tax despite a pending motion for reconsideration on its imposition.

SC spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the Bureau of Internal revenue (BIR) may opt to impose the unpopular 12-percent VAT on toll rates after the SC lifted yesterday the freeze order issued against the imposition.

Despite wide public clamor mainly from the Senate and various transport and commuter groups, the Palace said President Aquino will not lift a finger to defer the implementation of the VAT on toll tomorrow.

At a press briefing, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said Aquino would not intercede to stop the implementation of the VAT on toll because the Palace has no choice but to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110930hed2.html

SC upholds conviction of 17 ASG in nurses’ abduction By Benjamin B. Pulta 09/30/2011

SC upholds conviction of 17 ASG in nurses’ abduction

By Benjamin B. Pulta 09/30/2011

The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the conviction of 17 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits for the abduction 10 years ago of Ediborah Yap and three other nurses from a government hospital in Lamitan, Basilan.

The special second division of high tribunal turned down the appeal of the accused and stood by its earlier decision last June that affirmed the conviction of the terrorist group led by the late Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sabaya.

“The court resolves to deny the motion with finality, the basic issues raised therein having been duly considered and passed upon by the court in the aforesaid decision and no substantial argument having been adduced to warrant the reconsideration sought,” stated the notice of resolution signed by division clerk of court Ma. Luisa Laurea.

The SC again held that the Court of Appeals was correct in directing the convicted Abu Sayyaf bandits to pay P200,000 in moral damages to the family of Yap and to kidnap victims Shiela Tabuñag, Reina Malonzo and Joel Guillo, and also to pay additional P150,000 in civil indemnity and exemplary damages to Yap’s heirs..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110930nat1.html

Roxas’ biofuels unit start full operations 09/30/2011

Roxas’ biofuels unit start full operations

The bio-fuel unit of listed sugar group Roxas’ Holdings Inc. (RHI), Roxol Bioenergy Corp., has started full operations after the government announced the guidelines for the much-awaited pricing mechanism for ethanol will be signed soon.

RHI chairman Pedro Roxas said the company was informed that the guidelines shall involve a reference price for locally produced fuel ethanol based on the National Biofuel Board’s published prices of feedstock as monitored by the Sugar Regulatory Administration..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/business/20110930bus6.html

Pimentel calls for probe into GMA cover-up of massive poll fraud in 2007 09/30/2011

Pimentel calls for probe into GMA cover-up of massive poll fraud in 2007

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday called for an investigation into the alleged cover-up by former President Arroyo of massive fraud during the 2007 senatorial elections.

“There is sworn testimony that the former President was the main player behind the cover-up of the rigging of the 2007 elections,” Pimentel said.

The senator, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, was referring to the sworn testimony, dated Aug. 22, http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110930met1.html2011 of former South Cotabato acting provincial election supervisor Lilian Suan-Radam.

Radam surfaced recently and revealed a grand scheme involving former Malacañang officials and former top officials of the Commission on Elections led by then chairman Benjamin Abalos.

Radam admitted she and several other election officers were given instructions to manipulate the results to favor the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity senatorial candidates..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110930met1.html

Navotas, Malabon cities placed in state of calamity after ‘Pedring’ 09/30/2011

Navotas, Malabon cities placed in state of calamity after ‘Pedring’

The cities of Navotas and Malabon have been placed under a state of calamity as most villages of the two neighboring areas in northern Metro Manila are still flooded and thousands of families remain holed up at various evacuation centers.

In separate phone interviews, Navotas Mayor John Reynald Tiangco and Malabon Mayor Tito Oreta said they were elated by the quick reaction of the members of the two cities’ Sanggunian who held emergency council sessions for the purpose.

“Thus we are declaring a state of calamity in the city so as the affected residents will be immediately provided with the much-needed assistance, especially those still holed up at several temporary shelters put up by the city government,” Tiangco and Oreta said.

Tiangco cited the importance of placing the coastal city under such state, saying this would be beneficial to the families since the local government can be able to purchase their immediate needs through emergency procurement..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110930met2.html

Unprepared, as usual EDITORIAL 09/29/2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Unprepared, as usual

Click to enlarge
Despite being a typhoon-prone country, with at least 20 typhoon visits annually, government authorities have proven to still be unprepared for typhoon disasters. And even with a change of leadership in the weather bureau that had been given more weather forecasting equipment, we are still unprepared for the big ones, especially on typhoons hitting Metro Manila.

By the time the weather bureau and Malacañang sounded the alarm, Metro Manila streets were already flooded, and too many schoolchildren as well as office workers had already made their way to their schools and offices, leaving them wet and stranded, with nowhere to seek shelter from the howling winds and heavy rains.

Why could not the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the traffic policemen, for instance have stationed themselves near the flooded areas to at least stop drivers and their vehicles from continuing with their driving into the streets that already had the waters rising? That way, if they were turned away and closed the streets early enough, such as the Pasay-Manila stretch of Roxas Boulevard, all the way to Bonifacio Avenue, less vehicles would not have been stranded right smack into the impassable flooded areas..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110929com1.html

Creating more problems FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 09/29/2011

Creating more problems

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
One is unsure whether Noynoy believes it is the Spratlys issue that will keep him popular with the international community, specifically the US and Japan and the Asean governments, or if he is angling for more support for him and the disputed Spratlys favoring the Philippine stand against China.

Whatever the reason, Noynoy is playing a fairly dangerous game against China, because no matter how much the US and Japan side with Noynoy, due mainly to “international sea lanes access” particularly untrammeled passage rather than regional security reasons, when China shove comes to push, neither the US nor the Japanese government, and for that matter, the Hanoi government is likely to wage a war against super power China.

It certainly was much too indiscreet of Noynoy to state, when he was in the US some weeks back, that China will be “reasonable” on this Spratlys issue as long as China can save face.

And truly, there was no need for Noynoy to bring up the disputed Spratlys problem in the US, since his trip there had nothing to do with the disputed islands, but to speak before a forum launching a transparency in government theme. Yet he had to bring this issue up, either before a business meeting or a Filipino community type meeting..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: lhttp://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110929com2.html

Australian history looms over boatpeople issue focus 09/29/2011

Australian history looms over boat people issue


SYDNEY — A national obsession with border security, the legacy of outdated racist policies, and fears over job security have made asylum-seekers one of Australia’s thorniest political problems, experts say.

Boatpeople arrivals have for years prompted heated debate in Australia, with some deriding them as “queue-jumpers” taking the place of other needy refugees, and others seeing them as desperate people in need of protection.

The issue can be an electoral game-changer and politicians have battled to balance intense voter sentiment, national obligations toward refugees, and establishing a deterrent to unauthorized and sometimes fatal sea journeys.

“There’s something in the national imagination that’s sparked by the arrival of boats on our northern borders,” said high-profile immigration researcher David Corlett, who also works as a consultant to refugee groups..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110929com3.html

A P5 million ‘worthless’ school edifice INSIDE CONGRESS charlie manalo 09/29/2011

A P5 million ‘worthless’ school edifice

charlie manalo
The other day, officials of the Batino Elementary School in Quirino District in Quezon City approached a member of the media asking that they be assisted in finding sponsors to have their new school building finished.

The school building, with four classrooms, is bare. No school furniture and fixtures such as blackboards, desks and fans, it is still unpainted. Worse, even if the building has its own comfort room, it has no septic tank making it virtually non-functional. And the whole structure is worth P5 million.

According to the school officials, the building was funded with the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello. And for this reason, members of the Akbayan party-list have requested that one of the rooms be reserved for their exclusive use for the group’s headquarters.

If these reports are true, then this could very well serve as a fitting monument to Akbayan’s hypocrisy..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110929com5.html

Treasure hunters VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 09/29/2011

Treasure hunters

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
Recently, a well-known and much read national daily carried a news item about local treasure hunting. As expected, the avid and prolonged search was reported to be in conjunction with a “Yamashita Treasure.” It was furthermore said that the venture was officially stopped by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in coordination with the local government officials and residents in the place that has long since signified their unanimous objection to the venture — basically for reasons of their safety and health.

The Filipinos as a whole are rather well-acquainted with treasure hunting — especially so after the Japanese occupation and particularly so with reference to treasure said to be buried here and there by this and that Japanese military official.

The truth of the matter, however, is that the hunt for hidden treasure in the country also has reference to Spanish coins which were said to be kept in different ways and places, basically for safe keeping..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110929com7.html

‘Pedring’ leaves 23 dead; new storm draws near 09/29/2011

‘Pedring’ leaves 23 dead; new storm draws near

The death toll from typhoon “Pedring” yesterday climbed to 23 as thousands of people battled widespread flooding and a new weather disturbance draws near.

Rescuers reported two more deaths overnight, while 35 others remained missing, after Pedring unleashed heavy rains, winds and storm surges across Luzon, including Metro Manila, last Tuesday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council-Office of Civil Defense (NDRRMC-OCD) said the typhoon affected 68,601 families or 320,945 individuals in eight regions in Luzon, including Metro Manila.

One of the worst affected areas was Bulacan province where dikes burst and water was released from dams that reached critical levels during the height of Pedring’s fury..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110929hed3.html

PAL ‘strikers’ damage ground equipment; scaled down flights on By Conrado Ching and Charlie V. Manalo 09/29/2011

PAL ‘strikers’ damage ground equipment; scaled down flights on

By Conrado Ching and Charlie V. Manalo 09/29/2011

Philippine Airlines (PAL) management said it has resumed its flight operations, albeit operating on a reduced schedule, with the deployment of two US-bound flights, three regional and two domestic flights early yesterday morning, amid charges that certain ground equipment was damaged by striking workers of the flag carrier’s ground crew union.

PAL management condemned the illegal work stoppage by the members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) that led to the suspension of airport operations and the cancellation of 172 inbound and outbound flights (102 international and 70 domestic) from PAL’s hub at NAIA Terminal 2 yesterday.

PAL said it would lose millions of dollars in operational losses due to the wildcat strike of its ground handling crew which paralyzed the operations at its hub at the NAIA Terminal 2.

Close to 400 members of the PAL union workers assigned to the check-in counters, baggage, ramp and catering services suddenly abandoned their posts causing the cancellation of over a hundred international and domestic flights and inconveniencing thousands of passengers..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110929hed4.html

Over 18,000 Pinoy kids work in mining, quarrying on job sites — ILO 09/29/2011

Over 18,000 Pinoy kids work in mining, quarrying on job sites — ILO

At least one million children in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia, including the Philippines, work in small-scale mining and quarrying operations, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported.

In the Philippines alone, more than 18,000 children, aged 10 to 14, work in this hazardous environment, data from the National Statistics Office showed. Child labor in the country is common due to widespread poverty, obligating children to help support to their families to meet daily needs.

The ILO expressed alarm that child laborers’ continued exposure to dust and mercury-based chemicals in mines can cause serious brain damage. Child laborers in the mining industry also often are undersized as a result of carrying excessively heavy loads.

The ILO believes that child laborers in mining sites are likely to increase due to the higher prices and demand for minerals from countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and emerging economies..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110929nat3.html

Abu Sayyaf raids Muslim village in Basilan; 6 killed By Mario J. Mallari 09/29/2011

Abu Sayyaf raids Muslim village in Basilan; 6 killed

By Mario J. Mallari 09/29/2011

At least six persons, including four civilians, were killed after Abu Sayyaf terrorists raided a Muslim village in Basilan province yesterday morning that triggered an intense firefight with government security forces in the area.

Col. Alexander Macario, commander of the Army’s Special Operations Task Force in Basilan, said that more or less 15 fully-armed Abu Sayyaf men terrorized civilian populace in Barangay Lower Benembengan around 5:30 a.m..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110929nat1.html

MMDA files another motion to allow it to roll down billboards on Edsa By Pat C. Santos 09/29/2011

MMDA files another motion to allow it to roll down billboards on Edsa

By Pat C. Santos 09/29/2011
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is set to file another urgent motion before the Makati Regional Trial Court today seeking permission for the second time to be allowed to roll down billboards along Edsa and other major thoroughfares in the metropolis.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said they will file the motion before the sala of Makati RTC Branch 133 Judge Elpidio Calis as part of their preparation for the possibility of another typhoon hitting the country this coming weekend.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said a tropical depression off Northern Luzon has developed into a storm that has been given an international code name of “Nalgae,” the Korean word for wings.

Once it enters the country the weather bureau said it will be given the local name “Quiel.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110929met2.html

The Philippines: The real origin of species? By Deni Rose M. Afinidad, Staff Writer 09/29/2011

The Philippines: The real origin of species?

By Deni Rose M. Afinidad, Staff Writer 09/29/2011
The reports are staggering: P35 million worth of black corals, 163 endangered hawksbill and green turtles, and other marine life were seized by the customs at the port of Manila early this year. The black corals, reports say, include 21,169 species or the equivalent of 190 square kilometers of coral reef — about five times the size of Manila.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the remorseless hunt for wildlife species for home displays and exotic décor has been threatening the country’s tourism, employment, pharmaceutical research and food security.
But the Philippines is not the only one that should be alarmed, said marine biologist Kent Carpenter during a recently held symposium titled “Scientific Discovery and Conservation in the Philippines.”

Preserving the Philippines, Carpenter noted, should be a global priority because the country, according to his years of research verified by many scientists from different fields, has been found out to be “the center of the center of marine life in the universe,” the place with the most number of marine species per unit area, or the “bull’s eye” or concentration of species in the Coral Triangle..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/life/20110929lif1.html

‘Pedring’ crop damage at P729 million — DA By Angie M. Rosales 09/29/2011

‘Pedring’ crop damage at P729 million — DA

By Angie M. Rosales 09/29/2011

Typhoon “Pedring” left devastations on the agriculture sector worth an estimated P729 million in 28 provinces of eight regions in the country, according to initial reports provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the Senate.

At a hearing on the proposed DA budget by the Senate finance committee, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said almost 68,000 hectares of agricultural lands of some 50,000 farmers were affected by the recent typhoon.

Rice fields were the most affected, leaving P654 million damaged crops while 6,322 metric tons of corn were also affected worth P69.2 million.

Alcala said about 39,175 metric tons of palay were damaged which was 0.6 percent of 6.5 million metric tons of the projected harvest for the remaining months of the year..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/business/20110929bus1.html

Support for wage hike bills snowballs in Congress

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Support for wage hike bills snowballs in Congress

From 2001 to 2009, the recorded net income of the top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines had ballooned more than five times (552-percent), from P116-billion in 2001 to P756-billion in 2009. But the average daily wages and salaries increased only 31-percent over the same period, from P222 in 2001 to 291 in 2009.
Sidebar: Rep. Winnie Castelo will ‘plank’ for P125 wage hike bill

MANILA – Citing papal writings and research findings on economic, historical and comparative aspects of continuously denying the Filipino workers a substantial wage hike, a legislators’ forum organized by the House of Representatives labor committee upon the request of Anakpawis Partylist Rafael Mariano last Monday succeeded in gathering additional authorship and support for wage hike bills in Congress. Rep. Mariano is the author of House Bills 375 and 3746, which seek to enact a significant increase in the minimum wages of workers in the private and public sectors.

“A democratic state can do no less than side with their workers and their wages over capitalists and their profits,” said Sonny Africa, head of research of non-government economic think-tank Ibon Philippines. Africa showed the gathered legislators and unionists the huge disparity between the Filipino workers’ wages, which had barely increased in the last decade, and the capitalist profits which had ballooned nearly six times over the same period. Africa also showed how wage rates have continuously lagged behind and farther even from the government’s estimated family living wages.

From 2001 to 2009, the recorded net income of the top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines had ballooned more than five times (552-percent), from P116-billion ($2.65b) in 2001 to P756-billion ($17.27b) in 2009. But the average daily wages and salaries increased only 31-percent over the same period, from P222 ($5.1) in 2001 to P291 ($6.6) in 2009.

Sonny Africa of Ibon and other labor leaders told legislators that a substantial wage hike is good for the economy.(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
Under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s more than a year-old administration, Filipinos’ wages have also not yet significantly increased despite his promises of change and fulfilling the Filipinos’ dreams during his campaign. The P22 ($0.50) additional cost-of-living-allowance it granted last May has barely brought the minimum wages closer to the needed family living wage.

In the National Capital Region, Ibon computed the family living wage at P999 ($22.82) as of Aug this year, but the minimum wage is pegged in the National Capital Region (NCR), where it is highest, at P426 ($9.73). The gap between minimum wages and family living wage is wider outside of NCR. Africa clarified that they based the computations on the National Wages and Productivity Commission’s data, even as he noted that the NWPC’s webpage for such data has been “under construction” for quite a while now..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/28/support-for-wage-hike-bills-snowballs-in-congress/

Affidavit of support requirement breeds corruption- Migrante chapter in UAE

Affidavit of support requirement breeds corruption- Migrante chapter in UAE

“We are continuously receiving complaints from OFWs whose relatives were victimized by an extortion gang in the NAIA. These extortionists demand to be shown the AOS, but afterwards went on to ask for money.” – Migrante

MANILA — Instead of being a measure to prevent human trafficking, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ “Affidavit of Support” (AOS) requirement is becoming an instrument of corruption.

Several Filipino workers groups in the United Arab Emirates headed by the Dubai chapter of Migrante International Migrante-UAE is intensifying its campaign to have the AOS requirement, which the DFA is demanding from all visiting relatives of overseas Filipino workers based in the United Arab Emirates and other countries, removed.

Since July 12, 2010, OFWs securing an affidavit of support for their relatives from the Philippine consulate are required to be present even if they filed their visit visa at the UAE Immigration through travel agencies. They are also required to have their affidavit of support in red ribbon. The document has to be notarized at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and it costs around P1,000 (US$23.25).

Last year, Migrante-UAE initiated public discussions among Filipino groups in Dubai as part of its campaign to oppose the AOS requirement. In the next few weeks, the group will engage in a petition signing campaign, the results of which it will present to the Philippine consulate in Dubai. It also intends to send copies to Malacañang and the House of Representatives.

According to the DFA, the AOS aims to put an end to human trafficking and illegal deployment of OFWS through unscrupulous recruitment agencies. Nhel Morona, Migrante-UAE Secretary-general said the AOS requirement was “nothing but a form of legalized ‘kotong’ or mulcting.

A useless document

“It’s a useless document. It won’t stop human traffickers from their illegal activities, but it will breed extortion activities,” he said.

Morona cited reports his group received sometime on May 2011 about a group of passengers who boarded a flight from Manila to Dubai with a stopover in Hong Kong . They were supposedly asked to pay grease money by immigration officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when they discovered that the passengers were all on a visitor’s visa. He also said there was a Filipina nurse who was forced to hand out P25,000 (US$581) allegedly to agents of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in NAIA so she would be allowed to fly back to Dubai on a visitor’s visa..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/28/affidavit-of-support-requirement-breeds-corruption-migrante-chapter-in-uae/

Bacolod-based green activist builds own green house

Bacolod-based green activist builds own green house

Green activist Rusty Binas remains true to his commitment to restore ecological balance in the City of Smiles.
Binas , a global advisor of Holland-based development agency CORDAID in its program of Community-managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR), is building a a house in Marapara Heights that combines the basic elements of green architecture and stone-age architectural concepts.

His own concept of a green house is not really new, but it does offer a lot of unique systems. For one, it reduces construction costs by introducing the use of volcanic rocks, clay, mud and pebbles. For another, it utilizes its rooftop for rain water catchment and for potable water storage.

Natural aesthetics is another unique feature of the house design as it makes use of stones and rocks for the columns, foundations and ceilings, making it appear like a stone house in the neolithic period dating some 4000 BC.

Each main column has a built-in drip water system, which complements the gravitational water pressure from the rooftop water catchment. This is what keeps the column wet, allowing moss to develop on it and, in the process, harden and strengthen it over time.

Green house architecture being built in Bacolod.(Photo by Karl G. Ombion / bulatlat.com)
To maximize a natural cooling system, Binas employed the concept of a house design that has less walls and covers for its rooms, kitchen, living room. This allows fresh air to flow freely through all all parts of the house even as it maximizes daylight. The house also comes with an automatic closure system during wind and rain surges. Even the comfort room is without roofing to allow maximum light and fresh air, but it does have an automatic canopy system that can be used during rainy periods. With it, the house needs no air-condition units and fans; neither does it use lights during daytime.

Another feature of this unique green house is the utilization of green energy through solar power for its lightings, water system, few AC facilities, and for power charging needs. So even with long brown-outs in the neighborhood, residents of the Binas house need not worry about light or temperature settings because the house will provide for itself with the help of nature..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/26/bacolod-based-green-activist-builds-own-green-house/

Benjie Oliveros | War and health

Benjie Oliveros | War and health

When I began thinking about this topic and doing my research, I realized that I should be discussing not only about war and health but, more importantly, on the war against the people’s right and access to health.

The two wars against the people’s right and access to health occurred simultaneously during the last decade of the previous century: the war of globalization and the war against “terrorist states,” “rogue states,” “the axis of evil,” and eventually the war on terror. The war on terror did not begin with the World Trade Center attacks in September 11, 2001. If began after the change in the political landscape in Eastern Europe and the USSR and the conception of the Defense Policy Guidelines in 1992 by then Defense Sec. Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, and the 2000 policy paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses – Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century” of the conservative think tank Project for a New American Century, which, by the way, is comprised of the very same group of people: Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, I. Lewis Libby, and Donald Rumsfeld, who became the Defense secretary of Bush Jr.

The change in political landscape in the Eastern bloc during the latter part of the 1980s provided both an opportunity and a challenge to the US. The communist bogey no longer exists while at the same time, it provided the US with the opportunity to use its political and military dominance to push for its own economic interests and agenda. Thus, even as there was no longer any serious challenge to its hegemony, it refused to downscale its military spending. It even increased it by creating a hype about a supposed new specter: Islamic fundamentalism. That is why even before the September 2011 attacks, the US, in its defense policy paper “Rebuilding America’s Defense – Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century,” was already able to underline the principles that would shape its global “defense” policy. The 9-11 attacks merely gave the US the perfect excuse to launch its war on terror.

What were these principles guiding US defense policy and global positioning?

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles

Those countries that were included in the list of “terrorist,” “rogue,” or “evil,” states are those that “stridently oppose US presence and influence in their regions” and those that oppose “economic freedom” or the “free market ideology” of globalization.

Globalization, as we experienced it during the last two decades is about “downplaying government intervention” in the economy, of controlling budget deficits, and deep cuts in government social spending. It is, according to economist Joseph Stiglitz, about “austerity packages and privatization.” And among the most hit by these measures are the budgets for health and education. And the countries that refuse these measures, as well as US power projections run the risk of being targets of the US war on terror..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/24/benjie-oliveros-war-and-health/

Brocka at Bernal vs. indie filmmakers

Brocka at Bernal vs. indie filmmakers


Isang taon yata nang huli kaming magkita ni Mau Tumbocon, kritiko at film programmer. At dalawang taon na rin kaming tumutungo sa aming paboritong dessert at coffee na lugar sa Castro Street, at natagpuan naming muli na naghuhuntahan na naman kami tungkol sa pelikula. Pangalawang beses na ulit.

May nostalgia kami sa mga pelikula nina Lino Brocka at Ishmael Bernal, mga higanteng figura sa aming panahon, at lampas pa rito. Natanong ni Mau kung sino sa indie filmmakers ang sumusunod sa yapak ng dalawang direktor? At wala akong maisip na madaling sagot.

Nabanggit ko si Joel Lamangan at Brillante Mendoza. Si Joel ay napapanahon ang politikal na tema ng mga pelikula — Flor Contemplacion, abduction at politikal na pagpaslang, torture at rebolusyon. Pero mas naunang henerasyon ng filmmakers si Joel. Si Brillante naman ay kilala sa artistikong pelikula, na slice-of-life, na wala pang mass following sa loob ng bansa.

Sina Brocka at Bernal ay mga politikal na animal, sa positibong pagtingin. Kasama sila sa laban sa sensura, freedom of expression ng artist, pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina, anti-diktadurya, at maging anti-Cory Aquino sa panahong hindi ito popular. Organisado sila sa mga politikal na afiliasyon, at ginagamit ang kanilang politikal na posisyon para higit na magpopularisa ng mga isyu. Gayundin, ginagamit din nila ang kanilang sining para manghasik ng kontraryong kaisipan at karanasan pang-sining.

Ang naturing naming kaibahan nina Brocka at Bernal sa isang banda at ang kasalukuyang indie filmmakers sa kabilang banda ay ang mas madilim na pangitain hinggil sa pelikula at lipunan. Kina Brocka at Bernal ay nakaangkop sa naratibong disenyo ang pagpasok ng politika, at ang rekurso sa politikal na antagonismo ng mga bida rito..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/11/04/brocka-at-bernal-vs-indie-filmmakers/

Zombadings, on modern day acceptance

Zombadings, on modern day acceptance


There is a mystery that has been puzzling the people in the colorful town of Lucban, Quezon. A serial killer is on the loose and the succession of events clearly shows who the targets are. In the midst of this chaos, Remington (played by Martin Escudero) discovers something about himself and develops a fear of the unknown.
Dubbed as the country’s first zombie comedy film (directed by Jade Castro; written by Raymond Lee, Michiko Yamamoto, and Jade Castro), “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington” is a story of a young man who is being haunted by his gay-taunting past. As a child, Remington was fond of ridiculing gay people he encountered as he kept on calling them names. Until one day, he met a gay grieving in a cemetery (played by Roderick Paulate), who got mad at the mocking and cursed that Remington will also be gay when he grows up.

No semblance of homosexuality would be seen in Remington as he is the typical macho slacker who either spends his day doing nothing or drinking lambanog with his neighbors. As the straight guy that he is, Remington is head over heels for a girl named Hannah (played by Lauren Young), who just got back in town. But one night, an assault from an unidentified creature changed Remington’s life as he felt that he is turning into someone else.

The shaved legs, the tight girly shirts, the gay lingo, Remington is transforming by the day. He became fond of looking at guys, and eventually develops an attraction to his best friend Jigs (played by Kerbie Zamora). And by turning gay, he worried that he would be a target of the serial killer.

But Remington had other worries; how will he be back to his natural self?

Queer experience

Remington may have been cursed to be gay, but the film Zombadings showed that being homosexual is not a bad thing. It is worth noting that despite the obvious changes in him, the people around him still treated him the same way. His life even became more colorful with his new-found personality, undeniably something that comes with being gay.

After some speculations on his gender, it is touching to see how Remington’s parents (played by Janice de Belen and John Regala) understood the bizarre occurrence and did what they had to for their son. Indeed an ideal scene, as sympathy is rarely seen in a situation as such.

Suppressing discrimination

In a rather traditional society like ours, there are still people who detest the existence of gay people. It may not be highlighted in the news, but the worst kind of aversion does exist in the form of hate crimes on the group.

Zombadings had take on this issue in a lighter way in the form of a mysterious equipment that serves as a gaydar. In the film, a homophobe (played by Daniel Fernando) once delivered his speech regarding his hatred for the gay community, but his talk was drowned by the celebration in the town. The particular scene spoke much about putting an end to the age-old ridicule on gay people..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/09/13/zombadings-on-modern-day-acceptance/

Death and damage By ELENA L. ABEN, AARON B. RECUENCO and FRANCO G. REGALA September 27, 2011, 11:23pm

Death and damage

September 27, 2011, 11:23pm
Typhoon Pedring caused a storm surge and flooded many areas in Luzon and Metro Manila, forcing the evacuation of people from homes with many wading in hip deep waters to escape the deluge.
Typhoon Pedring caused a storm surge and flooded many areas in Luzon and Metro Manila, forcing the evacuation of people from homes with many wading in hip deep waters to escape the deluge.

MANILA, Philippines — At least 12 people were killed as typhoon “Pedring” whipped Luzon with heavy rains and forceful winds that wrought destruction, knocked out power and communication lines, paralyzed air, sea, and land transport, and caused a rare storm surge in Manila Bay.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that five people were killed in Metro Manila; one in Catanduanes in the Bicol region; one each in Subic and Olongapo City in Zambales; one in Aurora; one in Cagayan province; one in Pampanga; and another in Camarines Sur.

Four people, including three children, died when a concrete wall collapsed on them in Barangay Mapulang Lupa, Valenzuela City at the height of Pedring’s onslaught yesterday morning...... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/335781/death-and-damage

In mob Noy trusts EDITORIAL 09/27/2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In mob Noy trusts

Click to enlarge
If he has not realized it yet, Noynoy and his yellow Palace cohorts’ efforts to divide the government with their arrogance have become so successful that the government is now on a straight path to a standstill.

The imperious attitude at the Palace is one where whatever comes out of it, an edict or a mere idea, should be deemed infallible and those complaining against these are given the right to cry out to their hearts content and to walk away after with no Palace concern.

The Senate and the judiciary are certainly the most recent victims of the Palace conceit.

The Senate recently issued a resolution recommending that Noy use his presidential privileges to order the suspension of the increases in toll rates and the fares of the mass rail transit systems.

The Palace ignored the resolution, replying that increases in the fares of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) systems will benefit the poor in the long run. Twisted logic it is, but since it came from what the Palace believes is Mt. Olympus, it must therefore be the right logic. This was how Noynoy’s mouthpieces presumably understand their statements..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110927com1.html

Promising president FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 09/27/2011

Promising president

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Noynoy Aquino really goes big with his promises — despite already common knowledge that while he continues to give out promises, he somehow hardly delivers on his pledges — even before he ascended to Malacañang.

In Tokyo last Sunday, Noynoy told a group of overseas Filipino workers that when he leaves Malacañang in 2016, he will have left the Filipinos with a “much different Philippines” as his legacy, as he pledged to “catapult the country to unprecedented progress where Filipinos will no longer seek jobs abroad and instead work in the country with pride and contentment.”

He was quoted as saying to the crowd: “I have a simple goal. Create more jobs so you will no longer go abroad. What we want is a situation where you go abroad to work because it is your choice, not because you can’t find a job (in the Philippines). As long as you are one with me, you are my bosses, there’s no doubt that the Filipino race will triumph because of industry and talent. Our goals are within our reach.”

Noynoy even went as far as saying that “Before, they (governments and investors) would just snub us. Now, they would race to call on us because they know that we are rising with dignity and we ourselves are eager to effect changes.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110927com2.html

Uncertainty as Zimbabwe deadline for foreign handover looms focus 09/27/2011

Uncertainty as Zimbabwe deadline for foreign handover looms


HARARE — Foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe have until Sunday to hand in plans to sell majority stakes to local blacks, under a law that has alarmed investors, who are uncertain how the rules will work.
The government’s order for the transfer of 51-percent ownership has been called the final phase of “economic emancipation,” after controversial land reforms targeting white-owned farms a decade ago. But analysts are skeptical.
“There is no way the locals and the government have the money to buy shares in the companies. Everybody knows that,” Anthony Hawkins, a University of Zimbabwe economics professor, told AFP.
The indigenization drive could hurt the economy in the same way as the land reforms, which sparked an economic nose-dive after supporters of President Robert Mugabe violently seized white-owned farms, he warned..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110927com3.html

Unmask the cohorts NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 09/27/2011

Unmask the cohorts

Armida Siguion-Reyna
Media revelations on just how much the Arroyo administration stole boggle the mind. The thieves got away with it when they were entrenched, but did they really think the lid would stay tight on their pilferage? Fat chance, that.

As early as July 3, 2009, I wrote, here in this same space, that: “For at least 50 foreign trips and state visits, Mrs. Arroyo spent over P2 billion traipsing the globe from 2002-2007, P408.6 million in 2008, and P436 million for this year only half-way over.

“We remember when she flew to China while her husband was recovering from a heart procedure, and that was to witness the signing of the ZTE-NBN memorandum of agreement. That she went to the US during Typhoon ‘Frank’ in June of 2008 and a shipload of 600-plus passengers sank, hundreds of others killed in floods and landslides. We recall how once she had her entire family with her for a state visit to China, grandchildren and yayas included, how usually congressmen and spouses would be in the ‘official’ entourage to the US, Europe and to here and there, a senator or two. And still the usual staff that accompanies a head-of-state, the security men, and the media people.

“All the hangers-on say they paid out of their own pocket. We merely have their word and how good is their word, given the lying they’ve done? Lalaki ba nang ganyan kalaki ang gastos kung ang mga miron ay talagang nagkanya-kanyang bayad ng hotel at pamasahe?”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110927com4.html

Poverty in the USA AN OUTSIDERS VIEW Ken Fuller 09/27/2011

Poverty in the USA

Ken Fuller
In 2010, a further 2.6 million Americans descended into poverty, bringing the total to 46.2 million, a peak not previously reached in the 52 years since the Census Bureau started compiling such statistics. The impoverished represent 15.1 percent of the population, a level last seen in 1993.

Those in “deep poverty,” defined as existing on less than half the amount determining the official poverty line, increased to 20.5 million. At 16.4 million, child poverty is the highest since 1962. And, as might be expected, those who are not white stand a greater chance of being poor, the poverty-rates being 27 percent for blacks, 26 percent for Hispanics, and 12.1 percent for Asians, compared to 9.9 percent for whites – but they’re all on the increase.

Needless to say, unemployment is largely responsible for this state of affairs, and last year a staggering 48 million people between the ages of 18 and 64 did not work a single week — an increase of 3 million in 2009. But things are also bad on the wages front, and average earnings for a full-time male worker, adjusted for inflation, were slightly lower than they were in 1973. Yes, 1973.

If you’re poor, things are bad even when times are “good.” For example, the report in the New York Times on Sept. 13 cited a researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who pointed out that “the period from 2001 to 2007 was the first recovery on record where the level of poverty was deeper, and median income of working-age people was lower, at the end than at the beginning.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110927com5.html

Where villains are heroes INSIDE CONGRESS charlie manalo 09/27/2011

Where villains are heroes

charlie manalo
In its grand effort to mask its incompetency, the Aquino administration has embarked on an unrelenting crusade to pin down the previous administration for alleged anomalies it had committed during its incumbency.

Precisely, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, the Aquino administration, for all its bravado, deserves a 21-gun salute. But only if it had been fair and objective in its quest for truth and justice.

For its opening salvo, it had launched an offensive against the previous administration using the infamous Pajero issue it allegedly donated to some members of the Catholic Church, which of course backfired on the administration.

Having lost miserably on the Pajero battle, Sen. Ping Lacson then opened fire, accusing the former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo of effecting the sale of his family-owned second hand choppers passed off as brand new to the Philippine National Police..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110927com6.html

Noynoy gives ‘failed’ ARMM P40-B budget By Angie M. Rosales 09/27/2011


Noynoy gives ‘failed’ ARMM P40-B budget

By Angie M. Rosales 09/27/2011

Government’s attempt, after two decades of devolving some of the Executive’s power by instituting the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and with the current Malacañang tenant constantly saying that the ARMM has been proven to be a failure despite the infusion of almost P124 billion from the national budget in the last 20 years, money in the tens of billions will still be splashed by the current administration to the ARMM.

This admission was made yesterday by Sen. Franklin Drilon, the chairman of the Senate finance committee, as he disclosed that the Aquino government has provided nearly P40 billion in total allocation to ARMM, the highest in the history for the region.

“Our computation is that apart from the P12.4 billion presented under the NEP (national expenditure program), the ARMM also gets from the other national government agencies under the budget of DA (Department of Agriculture), and others, an amount equivalent to P11.5 billion. ARMM also gets an internal revenue allotment of P14.2 billion. There is the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) or the allocation of the legislators for ARMM amuonting to P560 million. All in all, the NEP would call for an allocation of P38.7 billion to the ARMM,” Drilon said, citing the current budget at only P11.8 billion.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110927hed1.html

‘Pedring’ intensifies, thousands evacuated from path of typhoon By Mario J. Mallari 09/27/2011

‘Pedring’ intensifies, thousands evacuated from path of typhoon

By Mario J. Mallari 09/27/2011

Tropical storm “Pedring” yesterday intensified into a typhoon, prompting government weather forecasters to place several areas under storm signals, particularly in Bicol Region where more than 50,000 residents have already been evacuated as part of the preemptive actions by government authorities.

“Pedring” is expected to make landfall this morning along the vulnerable eastern edge of Luzon, then dump heavy rains hundreds of kilometers inland to areas including the National Capital Region.

Rafaelito Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense-Bicol director, said as of 1 p.m. yesterday a total of 7,491 families in Albay province, composed of 51,669 people have been evacuated to safer grounds due to the threat posed by the typhoon.

He said OCD-Bicol and other allied government agencies are continuously monitoring situation in flood- and landslide-prone areas in the region..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110927hed3.html

Stock market bleeds amid debt crisis in Europe By Danessa O. Rivera 09/27/2011

Stock market bleeds amid debt crisis in Europe

By Danessa O. Rivera 09/27/2011

The local stock market, which has been used to the familiar ground of breaking records since the start of the year, suffered a blood bath yesterday as the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) dropped a steep 164.74 points to close at 3,721.22, the lowest level for the year and erasing its gains since January.

The sharp drop in the bourse index, however, merely mirrored a downtrend in Asia where most markets tumbled amid the worsening debt crisis in Europe.

Anxious Asian traders fear European leaders will not be able to find a solution to the region’s debt crisis.

Accord Capital Equities Corp. analyst Justino Calaycay said the PSEi failed to keep a marginal gain at the market’s opening as a regional slump dragged shares lower amid elevated risks as an acceptable solution to the Greece crisis remained elusive..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110927hed2.html

MILF body drops Kato from ranks By Mario J. Mallari 09/27/2011

MILF body drops Kato from ranks

By Mario J. Mallari 09/27/2011

Efforts by the Council of Ulamas to bring back renegade commander Ameril Umbra Kato back to the folds of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and patch up differences with MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad has failed, prompting the MILF-Central Committee to officially drop Kato from its ranks.

MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said the two-week deadline given by the Ulamas to Kato to meet with Murad and return to the MILF ranks ended yesterday with negative results.

“He ignored the appeal of the ulamas for him to go back to the folds of the MILF and he stood firm and insisted on staying out of the MILF…officially, as far as the MILF is concerned, he is no longer an MILF (member),” Jaafar said.

Last Sept. 12, the Council of Ulama talked with Kato and tried to convince him to return to the MILF and patch up differences with Murad. The ulamas gave Kato two weeks to make a decision. However, the efforts proved futile..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110927nat1.html

Solon demands disclosure of Aquino trade, economic deals with China, US, Japan 09/27/2011

Solon demands disclosure of Aquino trade, economic deals with China, US, Japan

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano yesterday asked Malacañang to disclose to the public the various trade agreements and deals entered into by President Aquino during his recent visits to China, United States and from his ongoing trip to Japan.

In a statement, Mariano took note that in all of his trips, Aquino was accompanied by his economic advisers and local businessmen and that in his last three trips, the President and his official entourage have spent at least P70 million,

“The President is making rounds to top global economies to tell the world about his administration’s domestic and foreign policy thrusts, anti-corruption and good governance agenda. But in real terms, Aquino is announcing to the world that ‘the Philippines is open for business’ and enticing foreign investors to set up businesses in the country. Our local agriculture, domestic natural resources and Filipino workforce are at stake in all of the trade deals that the President entered into,” Mariano said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110927nat4.html

Pichay loses appeal before CA By Benjamin B. Pulta 09/27/2011

Pichay loses appeal before CA

By Benjamin B. Pulta 09/27/2011

A ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA) has turned down the appeal of embattled Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) chairman and former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay who is questioning his suspension by the Ombudsman.

In a four-page ruling, the appellate tribunal’s Second Division said Pichay’s motion for reconsideration is moot and academic because then acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro had already dismissed Pichay. The Office of the Ombudsman placed Pichay under a six-month preventive suspension for misusing LWUA funds in acquiring a troubled thrift bank in 2008.

The CA said ruling on the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order against Pichay is “inconsequential” and does “not serve any useful purpose,” according to the appellate court.

“It bears to note that the Office of the Ombudsman has already adjudged petitioner guilty of the administrative charges against him and ordered his dismissal from the service, which decision is immediately executory even pending appeal,” according to the CA decision written by then CA Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, who was recently promoted to the Supreme Court..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110927met1.html

MMDA seeks court consent to order ad agencies to remove billboards By Pat C. Santos 09/27/2011

MMDA seeks court consent to order ad agencies to remove billboards

By Pat C. Santos 09/27/2011

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino sought the consent of the court yesterday after it filed an urgent motion before Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 133 to order the advertising agencies to remove the billboards along Edsa and other national roads in the metropolis view of the possible onslaught of Typhoon “Pedring.”

On Sept. 1, Judge Elpidio Calis granted the petition of the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines’ (OAAP) for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the MMDA’s anti-billboard campaign.
The TRO ordered the MMDA to stop the enforcement of its Memorandum Circular No. 10 Series of 2011 to regulate the display of advertising billboards along major roads and open spaces. The TRO lapsed on Sept. 22.

The motion was filed in deference to the current status quo agreed upon by MMDA and OAAP during the last court hearing held on Sept. 21..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110927met2.html

Priorities DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 09/26/2011

Monday, September 26, 2011


Herman Tiu Laurel
Upon Aquino III’s return from his visit to the US of A, numerous local mainstream newspapers emblazoned the growing critical outspokenness of even the most conservative sectors in Philippine society. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI); the Philippine Steelmakers Association (PSA); the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport); UP National Engineering Center; the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), including the Associated Labor Union; and, ironically a group that advocated privatization of the power industry, the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), spoke out on one major issue: The Philippines’ highest power cost in Asia. In a joint statement, they bewailed the fact that “there appears to be no specific and strong action program or roadmap coming from the executive department” to address the current power rate crisis.

TUCP Party-list Rep. Democrito Mendoza, not always the most assertive labor leader, worked up the courage to state: “We ask the Aquino administration to bring power rates down” — this, as the chief operating officer of PhilExport, citing figures from the Department of Energy (DoE) on RP’s power rates at 24 US cents per kilowatthour compared to Thailand and Malaysia’s eight and seven US cents per kwh, respectively, added that it is “the biggest disincentive to the entry of new foreign direct investors to our shores.”

More pointedly, the ALU’s Gerard Seno demanded that Aquino III “make the necessary bold policy interventions… including the suspension and review of all pending power rate increase petitions in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC),” with Mendoza calling for the scrapping of the 15.8-percent “Performance-Based Rate” (PBR) formula and the restoration of the 12-percent Return on Rate Base (RoRB) price setting mechanism by the ERC, adding that high power rates eat up as much as 11 percent of workers’ income.

Power company director Jojo Borja of Iligan Light, who has been helping us in our fight against the ERC and Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) with documented evidence of the latter’s overpricing, called me to highlight these headlines with enthusiasm, while expressing frustration over the wishy-washy stance of many so-called business leaders. Raul Concepcion, for instance, whom he has sought out for help against the ERC and power companies’ abuses and provided with all the hard evidence, given the former’s leadership of the Oil Price Watch, a supposed consumer protection watchdog that often publishes comments on electricity rates, has sadly only given lip service. This is precisely why Borja stresses that consumers themselves must keep up the pressure.

Still, we should all be happy that the aforementioned groups are now speaking out more boldly, even as they are still short of taking legal and demonstrative actions such as pickets and rallies — maybe even “planking” at Meralco to force the issue further.

As vital as the power price crisis issue is, the other headline that came out of Aquino III’s US trip was his “buko” (coco water) discovery, as if it were a new and fantastic development from his tête-à-tête with Obama.

Readers of this column know that for the past two years, we have promoted the coconut industry as a definitive economic lifesaver for the country. From the development of coco water, to coconut milk as replacement for imported dairy that will save us $1 billion in imports regularly, to coconut fiber textiles against soil erosion, to soil conditioners for many desert regions such as those in China, to high tech coco-chemicals for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical purposes, as well as for fuels and explosives, our coconuts can work wonders.

We have long reported that after commercial beverage brands Gatorade and Powerade were exposed as frauds, their manufacturers PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. shifted to coconut water as the base for these sports drinks.

It is enough, however, for the Aquino III government to finally realize the importance and potential of the coconut industry as a game changer for the economy. It is, after all, a sector that it had nary a care for when it appointed a small-time Quezon province lawyer who is ignorant of the coconut industry to head the Philippine Coconut Authority.

Among the coconut’s many applications, which we have enumerated in previous columns, there is also a product from it that will not only help the economy but those infirmed in old age with dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Scientific tests reveal that “monolaurin” from virgin coconut oil (VCO) reverses this scourge of the world’s aging population.

But one does not need to be at risk for Alzheimer’s to understand that unless government wakes up to its perilous neglect of the coconut sector, the once 500-million strong coconut tree population that has been reduced to 300 million today may soon no longer provide the miracles it is touted for. From being the top coconut products producer, the Philippines has now been overtaken by Indonesia, with India fast catching up.

The government of Aquino III has been going around in circles with its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects (that have been delayed for another year) and its expensive Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, with all sorts of rationalizations from foreign case studies (such as from Mexico, now reeling in macro-economic decay and drug-induced anarchy) citing upticks in child nutrition based on doleouts that do not increase a country’s economic viability.

In the power and coconut industry sectors, Aquino III can resort to ready-made high impact projects that can turn around the economy in both the near and medium term. With drastic power rate cuts, the people’s economic hardship will be reduced in as short as a few months’ time. With a crash diversification program for the coconut industry, a bountiful harvest will be reaped in two to three years. Aquino III should therefore set these two as his government’s priorities over and above the prevailing programs that have been proven to be serious duds.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8 on “ERC-Meralco Conspiracies”; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110926com5.html

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