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The Cha-cha-FDI myth DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 08/19/2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Cha-cha-FDI myth

Herman Tiu Laurel
A massive campaign has been sustained in recent months to brainwash the public into thinking that the Philippines is wretchedly in need of foreign investments. Its proponents say that a Charter change (Cha-cha) scheme to open up our already globalized property, corporate and natural patrimony rights to foreigners is now of the essence. No less than our leading legislators have aggressively pushed this, with mainstream newspapers echoing their line.

The Philippine Star, in its Aug. 16 “Cha-cha can easily triple investments” story, for instance, quoted House committee on constitutional amendments chairman Misamis Occidental Rep. Loreto Leo Ocampos as saying that “our FDIs (foreign direct investments) will TRIPLE (emphasis mine) from the current $2 billion to $3 billion once these constitutional reforms are implemented.” Well, looking at his faulty “math,” one could already conclude that Ocampos’ FDI projections will be massively off the mark, too.
In fact, the track record of “reforms” by the Philippine Congress for the past 25 years doesn’t inspire confidence at all. It is therefore quite scary that the term is being brandished again.

Consider some of the key “REFORM packages” since the Edsa I “People Power” government, beginning with the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) that supplanted the progressive income tax system with the regressive value added tax (VAT) set-up that transferred the tax burden to the vast majority of middle and low income consumers.

Consider the Trade Reform law passed in the early ’90s that introduced liberalization, deregulation and privatization, which are now a curse on the Philippine economy, spurring uncontrolled fuel and power rate hikes, debilitating peso fluctuations, as well as privatizations that socialize the debts but privatize the profits.
Consider, too, the so-called Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) that raised our electricity rates to the highest in Asia. Aren’t these alarming enough?

Unfortunately, those impervious Cha-cha for FDI campaigners continue to call for the grant of full ownership of any and all businesses — especially land — to foreigners, as well as allowing them unlimited access to our natural resources. They have even spread their sales pitch to the Internet, using as their bogeyman the “privileged, favored and protected abusive and exploitative Filipino oligarchs” who, they say, take advantage of the Constitution’s protectionist provisions to monopolize businesses and keep out foreign capital at the expense of free market competition. What they are silent on, however, is the obvious fact that in many of these oligarch-controlled companies, foreign capitalists are the major partners of local oligarchs and, in certain cases, the ones who actually control these companies through majority voting shares.

Moreover, as these Cha-cha for FDI proponents try to draw comparisons with countries that enjoy high FDIs — notably Vietnam, Thailand, and other Asian countries — to point out that we are lagging behind due to “restrictions,” the truth of the matter is that almost all Asian (including Asean) countries are still “restrictive” or protectionist. Land property rights, in the main, are still not given to foreigners — only long-term leases. Corporate ownership is still limited — such as in Thailand, where it is only up to 49 percent, notwithstanding its latest FDI in 2010 hitting $6 billion, or four times more than the Philippines.

Although Singapore is vastly more liberal, the city-state of only 694 sq. km. (having not much land for others to own anyway with five million in population) is the only exception.

As in the Philippines since Marcos’ time, most Asian countries only allow 100-percent foreign-owned companies to do business in especially-designated hi-tech, export processing zones.

One just has to look at the Asean Web site with its bundled rice stalks logo under Foreign Equity Policies to get an overview of how liberal Philippine policy already is, which I quote: “100 percent foreign equity ownership is allowed in all areas except those in the negative list under the Foreign Investment Act of 1991 as amended.” For Thailand, it states: “The 1972 Alien Business Law grants foreigners permission to engage in certain business enterprises in Thailand only if more than 50 percent of the capital is owned by Thai Nationals. However, for BoI promoted companies, majority foreign ownership is permitted for projects that export not less than 50 percent of sales.”

And while the likes of AntiPinoy.com continuously hold up Vietnam’s apparently lax foreign equity rule to buttress their point, the truth is, a May 2011 US State Department investment climate evaluation states otherwise:

“There are ownership limitations for certain companies listed on the Vietnam stock exchange and service sectors. Foreign ownership cannot exceed 49 percent of listed companies and 30 percent of listed companies in the financial sector. A foreign bank is allowed to establish a 100-percent foreign owned bank in Vietnam but may only own up to 20 percent of a local commercial bank. Individual foreign investors are usually limited to 15-percent ownership, though a single foreign investor may increase ownership to 20 percent through a strategic alliance with a local partner.”

Keep in mind that no sovereign nation will ever give away protection of its interests and concerns, and the privileges of its own people. Also know that other more important considerations, such as the cost of electricity, are what matter in a country’s investment climate.

Thus, Vietnam’s $0.05/kWh power rate is one of its main attractions; same with Thailand’s $0.15/kWh, which are a far cry from the Philippines’ $0.21/kWh. Even Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Gov. Diwa Guinigundo was forced to admit to a select audience that “the most difficult challenge for the national government and the private sector (is) addressing the high cost of power in the country.”

But as he and the rest of RP’s political players who are behind the extant campaign don’t say this out loud to explain why FDIs are shying away from the Philippines, they are simply pulling wool over the people’s eyes as they lie about the real reason for Cha-cha: The sell-out of the country through their many swindles.
(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 5 to 7 p.m., and Tuesday, Thursday, 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 “More Power Outrages”; also 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/20110819com6.html

Courtesy test? EDITORIAL 08/19/2011

Courtesy test?

Click to enlarge
Interparliamentary courtesy appears difficult to apply in the case of Iggy Arroyo, the congressman, allowing him the privilege to make his call on the invitation that the Senate issued him on the probe of the overpriced used choppers sold to the Philippine National Police (PNP) since it was he who had volunteered the information that the lease transaction on the helicopters that are the subject of the probe was made when he was the top man at the family-owned LTA group, which means he must know details on the aircraft that had eluded the Senate proceeding.

Not that it was an obvious reprise of his role as an alleged decoy in the Jose Pidal bank account which was suspected owned by his big brother Mike, but doesn’t his responsibility and that of all members of Congress in facilitating the creation of law and assuring that all laws are followed as well, take primordial value over an unspoken rule that seems to serve only the inordinate interests of legislators?

The argument goes that if the Senate compels Iggy to give his testimony to the chamber’s inquiry, nothing would stop members of the House from requiring senators to attend its hearings..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110819com1.html

Fudging the real issue FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/19/2011

Fudging the real issue

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Does it matter who filed the petition against the ban on smoking — even in sidewalks and open air areas — imposed by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino?

Why should it, when all that should matter is for the court to decide whether or not the ban is legal, because if the law is followed, the areas that MMDA wants to become smoke-free go against that which the law says, and definitely, it is the law, not an MMDA ban, that is superior.

MMDA says it has arrested thousands for violating the ban, but MMDA does not even have that power and authority to arrest anyone, as it should be the police who should, And in this instance, not even the cops should be arresting those who have ignored the ban because precisely, the law covering this subject says these areas which the MMDA arbitrarily claimed to be smoke-free, are a free area for smokers.

So why should an issue be made in questioning who the “real” petitioner is, whether it is a tobacco firm, or just a plain smoker who is asserting his right to smoke freely where the law allows him to smoke?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110819com2.html

Palestinian, Israeli Christians bridge chasm in Spain focus 08/19/2011

Palestinian, Israeli Christians bridge chasm in Spain


MADRID — More than 150 Roman Catholics living on each side of the raging Middle East conflict say they bridged a chasm by flying to Spain for a huge youth festival attended by Pope Benedict XVI.

For Ala Sayej, a 23-year-old Palestinian bank worker from Ramallah in the West Bank, the World Youth Day party gives him a rare chance to meet with fellow Christians from his own region.

At home, Israeli army checkpoints and strict travel restrictions make it tough for him to see Christians from Gaza, the other part of the Palestinian territories, let alone those from Israel.

Sayej is one of 160 youths from the Holy Land — half from the Palestinian territories and the other half from Israel — who flew to Spain to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s youth festival..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110819com3.html

Containergate C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 08/19/2011


Jonathan De la Cruz
The tale of 1,900 plus and counting missing containers is getting curioser and curioser. If not totally tangled. Like a sore wound that will not simply go away even as administration officials feverishly try to change the subject with all sorts of headline grabbing initiatives L’Affaire containers may yet turn out to be one of the hallmarks of P-Noy’s second year in office. In fact, it may turn out to be a kind of “containergate” for P-Noy and his crew, especially since the public has not even heard any squeak from the usually loquacious Palace spokesmen on any subject under the sun. Hell, if Secretary Edwin Lacierda can go to some length ridiculing Arroyo legal spokesman “Attorney/Doctor” Raul Lambino for issuing what he called medical bulletins why can’t he even say a word about such an enveloping scandal which, based on rough estimates, involves at least P1.5 billion in lost government revenues resulting from this multibillion-peso smuggling operation. To think that it happened and may still be happening right under the very noses of the highest officials of the land!.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110819com5.html

Solon to Noy: Fire De Lima By Angie M. Rosales and Benjamin B. Pulta 08/19/2011


Solon to Noy: Fire De Lima

By Angie M. Rosales and Benjamin B. Pulta 08/19/2011

For always only playing up to the media and the public at large instead of performing her tasks and achieving something instead of nothing but investigations leading to nowhere, a senator yeserday called on Malacañang to get its Justice chief, Leila de Lima, out of the Department of Justice and instead appoint her as presidential spokesman.

Neophyte Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is not at all impressed with the performance shown by De Lima and he suggested yesterday for President Aquino to consider employing her services instead as a presidential spokesman.

Trillanes called on Aquino to consider replacing the DoJ chief due to what he said was the inaction and her failure to perform her tasks despite numerous pronouncements on cases to be filed.

“We gave her enough time to do her job but she has failed to deliver really. She’s been there for 14 months now. You tell me what she has done so far aside from the Hubert Webb fiasco? None. And these cases that were filed, it.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110819hed1.html

DND Mayuga review team to summon active AFP officials By Mario J. Mallari 08/19/2011

DND Mayuga review team to summon active AFP officials

By Mario J. Mallari 08/19/2011

The Department of National Defense (DND) special investigating committee (SIC) reviewing the controversial Mayuga Report may summon active officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) implicated in the alleged electoral fraud in 2004.

But this early, denials of a cover-up are already being made by a member of the Mayuga Board who yesterday stood by the board’s findings clearing the so-called “Garci generals” of any liability in the alleged manipulation of the presidential polls.

Retired Commodore Emilio Marayag stressed there was no cover-up on the part of the investigating body headed by then AFP Inspector General, Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga.

“I don’t think there was a cover-up, I don’t know if there was an intention to cover up but I don’t think there was a cover-up. We did not discuss anything about cover-up and why we’ll cover up when we are all in the service,” Marayag said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110819hed5.html

Filipinos ‘troublesome’ in Sabah — WikiLeaks cable 08/19/2011

Filipinos ‘troublesome’ in Sabah — WikiLeaks cable

A Malaysian official called Filipino residents in Malaysian-controlled Sabah “troublesome” while another expressed fear that they could become potential threats to Malaysia’s interest and security if allowed to become politically active or once parts of Mindanao are given autonomy, a 2006 confidential US cable released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks said.

The cable, uploaded on WikiLeaks Web site last Wednesday, detailed comments of Malaysian officials on the effects of population boom in Sabah to American diplomats.

A significantly increasing number of Filipinos in Sabah have raised concerns among Malaysian officials, fearing that it might lead to the Philippines regaining control of much of the territory’s eastern part, which it had been claiming.

Sabah’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Masidi Manjun, according to the cable “singled out Filipino Muslims from Mindanao as especially troublesome.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110819hed6.html

Pagcor loss in casino scam might have been jacked up By Charlie V. Manalo 08/19/2011

Pagcor loss in casino scam might have been jacked up

By Charlie V. Manalo 08/19/2011

A senior lawmaker yesterday said the losses incurred by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) in the casino scam involving foreigners might have been jacked up, based on the original information contained in the complaint sheet.

This even as the solon added Pagcor had all the chance to apprehend one of the primary suspects in the scam had it wanted to.

In an interview, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga bared that based on the information on the original complaint sheet, Pagcor officials pegged the losses of the three casinos at only P956,000.

However, the information was later amended to report a joint loss for the three casinos at P158 million..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110819nat1.html

Three killed at RP gold rush site 08/19/2011

Three killed at RP gold rush site

Three miners were killed and four others injured in the latest deadly landslide to hit a gold rush area in the southern Philippines, a civil defense official said yesterday.

Heavy rain caused the landslide on Tuesday that buried the miners in a mountainous area of Mindanao island where thousands of people have built their own tunnels in search of gold, said regional civil defense director Liza Mazo.

The miners were sleeping in their bunkhouses, guarding their tunnels, when the landslide hit, she said.

“This area has a steep slope and the soil is loose, so this happens every time in rains. The earth just gave way,” Mazo told AFP..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110819nat2.html

Mar Roxas refuses to pay 211 illegal dismissed LRT workers By Gerry Baldo 08/19/2011

Mar Roxas refuses to pay 211 illegal dismissed LRT workers

By Gerry Baldo 08/19/2011
Former Senator and now Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Transportation and Communications yesterday refused to allot a portion of the proposed P34.574-billion budget of the DoTC for the compensation of 211 illegally dismissed workers of the Light Rail Transit in 2002.

The DoTC owed the former LRT employees some P299 million.

Roxas, who was at the House of Representatives yesterday for the budget hearing of the DoTC, told members of the House committee on appropriations that his department has no plan of paying off P208 million in back wages and P21 million in legal fees to the former LRT employees. He said it is illegal.

“Inasmuch as I would like to compensate the workers, my hands are tied. We sympathize and want to help these workers but, regrettably, the SC (Supreme Court) did not hold the LRTA (LRT Authority) liable,” Roxas said in the budget deliberations for DoTC..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110819met2.html

DoJ downgrades charges of murder against Dominguez gang members to homicide By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/19/2011

DoJ downgrades charges of murder against Dominguez gang members to homicide

By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/19/2011

Members of a major car theft syndicate have been indicted by prosecutors in connection with the killing of Emerson Lozano last January.

In a 17-page resolution approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, a three-man panel of prosecutors recommended that a “criminal information for carnapping with homicide” be filed against the car theft syndicates supposed leaders, brothers Raymond and Roger Dominguez, as well as a number of other respondents, namely, Jayson Miranda a.k.a. Soy/Jayon, Roland Talban a.k.a. Eduardo Fernandez/Rolly,Napoleon Salamat a.k.a. Pong and a certain alias Marlon.

“After a thorough and careful assessment of all the evidence presented, we are convinced that there exists sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime of carnapping with multipe homicide has been committed,” the panel composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Amor Robles, Eden Valdez and Bernardo Fernandez said.

The complaint was filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Lozano’s relatives led by his father, lawyer Oliver Lozano..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110819met4.html

Two admin lawmakers join call for resignation of Customs boss By Charlie V. Manalo 08/19/2011

Two admin lawmakers join call for resignation of Customs boss

By Charlie V. Manalohttp://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110819met1.html 08/19/2011

Two administration lawmakers yesterday joined the mounting call for the resignation of Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez amid accusations of a whitewash in the investigation into the disappearance of some 2,000 container vans with highly dutiable goods.

This developed as one of the drivers of one of the missing container vans has surfaced to implicate the owner of a Manila warehouse in the anomaly that reportedly cost government over P3 billion in unrealized taxes.

At the weekly Usaping Balita News Forum in Quezon City, Reps. Magi Gunigundo (Valenzuela City) and Reynaldo Umali (Negros Oriental) aired strong suspicions of a cover-up in the Customs investigation initiated by Alvarez.

The two solons noted that the scam happened during the watch of Alvarez and that he had failed to detect it despite reports that the smuggling modus operandi has been going on for nearly 10 months now..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110819met1.html

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