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Sadness DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 02/13/2012

Monday, February 13, 2012


Herman Tiu Laurel
Reviewing the economic and political news of the past week only brings out a wave of sadness in me. It is not just that the decade-long major economic downturn will continue to worsen this year; it is because the present government still has no credible response to it, which can only mean more suffering for the nation.

That the Philippines has fallen so far behind its Asean neighbors today is no longer in dispute. But looking back, even in the wake of the destabilization of the early ’80s by the US, our country still had the infrastructure to bounce back. All that, however, was destroyed by the Yellow counter-revolution of 1986 and the ensuing 25 years that saw the dismantling of the nation’s agro-industrial foundation, making it an import-dependent globalized economy.

Then, as the series of globalization-induced crises came, starting with the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, followed by the 2000 Dot-com and 2008 Wall Street crash, the backward Philippine economy sank even deeper, even as our countrymen continued to try their darndest to keep their noses above water.

Many are sadly unaware that Filipinos are drowning from the Western economies that are propping themselves up on our backs through our debt payments and the repatriation of profits by transnationals.
Still, the fate of Filipinos is in the hands of politicians and financial-economic mangers (led by Malacañang) who, instead of addressing the crises, stoke internal strife by firing up sound and fury signifying nothing.

Listening to the likes of that Ilocos solon, who seems hell-bent on driving the country into national political suicide with a mindless threat to impeach all Supreme Court (SC) justices who choose not to toe the administration line, or his colleague who went into a melodrama on the whereabouts of an alleged “leaker” of the chief magistrate’s bank documents, but without asking any lawful authority to ferret her out, one would no longer need any explanation as to why this country, with such “leaders,” is in dire straits.

Last Friday I chanced upon the GNN show of Ray Orosa who had the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Diwa Guinigundo as guest. The BSP deputy-governor, as usual, effused over the performance of the Philippine economy and its alleged financial gains. Thinking perhaps that the audience did not have the tools necessary for analyzing or dissecting his presentation of the ratings agencies’ upgrade of our country, copious amounts of financial jargon flowed through his lips.

There’s no problem with a strong peso, he said, as import prices will go down; there’s no problem with inflation as wages will go up; and there’s no problem with hunger and poverty as these are just consumer basket benchmarking. Makes you think of the Philippines as a paradise courtesy of the BSP, doesn’t it?
But as the hard questions from the texters came in, such as, “When have salaries kept abreast of prices?” or “Why do import prices still go up despite a strengthening peso?,” the polite host had no recourse but to allow his guest to wriggle out of these as fast as possible.

As the Philippine gross international reserves (GIRs) have grown to $77 billion, BSP officials like Guinigundo, who beat their chests on their self-proclaimed financial management prowess, still say that covering 11 months worth of imports is necessary when only four months worth of cover is needed.
Similarly, these officials gush over increasing portfolio investments when the fact is such “hot money” or short-time “motel investments” are opportunistic funds from the US (where interest is almost zero) that cash in on higher Philippine yields, taking profits from the stock market and then leaving just as quickly.

Moreover, financial ratings agencies such as S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch’s that are now praising the Philippines and are tied to banking interests that want the Philippines to keep on borrowing — now that many countries have stopped doing so or will be defaulting — have all been discredited by now.

In saying that Western economies are standing on our backs as props to keep their head above the financial floodwaters, I refer primarily to the role of the BSP in keeping us indebted when we can already start paying off our debt.

Thanks to the BSP and the “PeNoy-chio” government, our national debt already grew to P5 trillion of late. Thus, when Orosa asked, “Why don’t we use our growing reserves more productively instead of lending it out (referring to “investments” in US T-bills and the like)?,” a visibly stumped Guinigundo could only give a spiel that goes, “We need to accumulate the dollars in case of a “currency attack.’”

My dear readers, history has shown that the best defense against any currency attack is what Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad did in 1997 for his country —currency controls. But since that is taboo for the minions of the global and local financial mafia, Guinigundo had to resort to his “currency attack” yarn and the necessity of sleeping GIRs.

With the combined inanities of politicians and financial managers, we should no longer shake our heads at these headlines last week: “Exports fall worse than expected” (BusinessWorld); “Building construction starts drop 80 percent to P575B in 2011” (Philippine Star); “2011 export earnings dip to $47-Billion” (Manila Times); “Neda sees 2012 growth at 3 percent to 5 percent (Manila Times); ad nausea.

Although my fearless forecast about BS Aquino III getting even lower grades than Gloria Arroyo’s mid-term ratings by the end of 2012 has never dampened my mood, what fills me now with sadness are the lost years that we would have to endure anew as we wait for this inane, incompetent, and ill willed administration to fade away — hopefully soon.

(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m.; watch Destiny Cable GNN’s HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m., on “Hocus PCOS: New evidence;” 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/20120213com5.html

Syria rejects new Arab League resolutions

Syria rejects new Arab League resolutions

Damascus has rejected the Arab League’s call to bring international peacekeepers into Syria, labeling it a hostile act aimed at undermining security and stability in the country.

­An emergency session of foreign ministers of the 22-member Arab League in Cairo has issued a resolution appealing to the UN to bring peacekeeping force into Syria. The international contingent, they insist, should be consisted of UN blue helmets and troops from Arab countries, “to oversee the implementation of a ceasefire.”.... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/syria-rejects-arab-league-resolution-139/

Al-Qaeda joins ranks of Syrian revolt backers

Al-Qaeda joins ranks of Syrian revolt backers

The leader of Al-Qaeda has voiced his support for the Syrian uprising. He called on Muslims to join the opposition in Syria in their drive to oust President Bashar Assad.

­In an eight-minute video address posted on Sunday on a jihadist website, Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to aid the Syrian rebels..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/al-quaeda-syria-support-103/

Russian superlaser to be as good as H-bomb

Russian superlaser to be as good as H-bomb

Russia has launched a $1.5 billion project to create a high-energy superlaser site which designers pledge will be the best in the world. Capable of igniting nuclear fusion, the facility will be used both for thermonuclear weapon and civil purposes.

The new laser device will be used for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) studies. The field aims to recreate in the lab the processes which happen inside a star or in a hydrogen bomb explosion. ICF is similar to what scientists are trying to do with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, but takes an alternative approach to how nuclear fusion is started..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/russia-superlaser-thermonuclear-weapon-123/

Athens burns, buildings on fire as chaos, riots flare up (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Athens burns, buildings on fire as chaos, riots flare up (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

The worst riot damage in years has struck Athens as MPs pass harsh new austerity measures. Dozens of historic buildings were set ablaze after riots turned chaotic overnight in Greek capital with protesters looting shops and clashing with riot police.

Firefighters are dousing smoldering buildings and cleanup crews are sweeping rubble following a night of rioting in central Athens. The stench of tear gas hung in the air Monday morning, choking passers-by. Looters smashed dozens of shops as 45 buildings, including a cinema, bank, cafeteria, a mobile phone dealership and a glassware shop, burned in central Athens..... MORE


URL: http://rt.com/news/athens-burn-clashes-riots-145/

Labor woes and frozen wages in Davao

Labor woes and frozen wages in Davao

Davao Today
Reposted by Bulatlat.com
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Philippines was recently reported to be the third country in the world that has the lowest salary increases. And that news is not farfetched when Davao workers say they are
working harder but are being paid lesser.

Luis Luchavez, a tireman for a big shipping company, Sulpicio Lines, sees to it that the tires of a 25-tonner forklift are functional. “I only get paid according to the number of tires I repaired. If there are no flat tires, then I am not paid,” he tells Davao Today. There are times when he repairs in the dead of the night, without ever receiving an overtime pay.

A January 17 report carried by the online news businessworld.com cited a study by India-based recruitment platforms MyHiringClub.com andNriJobPortal.com pointing to the country’s salary increment outlook of 4.21 percent in 2012, next to Bulgaria (4.03 percent) and Vietnam (4.13 percent). The country’s performance is way, way below the worldwide average of 10.19 percent.

Luchavez is one of the 1.875 million workers in Davao region. His income is practically based in the number of repairs he makes. “If our bill reaches 4,000 pesos (US$93.74), that’s the time we can get our salary,” he said. Of the whole amount, 50 percent goes to the shop owner, 25 percent for Luchavez and the remaining 25 percent for his fellow tireman.

In the Davao region, the minimum wage is pegged at P286 ($6.7),not enough for a family of six who needs at least P 720 ($16.87) a day, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board.

Ramil Sencio, 38, a factory worker for 20 years, receives the basic pay. Married and with two children, he says, his salary is not enough for their basic needs. “If I have no work, I ply my motorcycle or do electrical jobs for extra income,” he said..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/08/labor-woes-and-frozen-wages-in-davao/

OFWs and Filipino residents in Italy protest the ‘remove middle name’ policy

OFWs and Filipino residents in Italy protest the ‘remove middle name’ policy

Remove your middle name.

This is what the authorities of Italy’s Ministry of Interior or the Ministero dell’Interno, have been telling Filipinos in Italy since the agency laid down its Circular No. 29 on October 7, 2010. The labor ministry has since been ordering ordering Filipinos living and working in Italy to “drop their middle names’ in official documents to avoid confusion in the use of middle names.”

Italians do not have middle names.

Migrante Europe and the Migrante chapter in Italy are opposing the circular which, in contrast, has been endorsed by the Philippine embassy in Italy.

In a statement, Migrante Europe said Filipinos are against the new rule and have been actively campaigning for its repeal on just grounds.

“The measure was implemented without consultation with the Filipino community; it has triggered more confusion among Filipinos. The Italian government is unjustly requiring all Filipinos to change their official documents such as passports and other identification cards at their own expense,” it said.

Despite appeals and requests from Filipinos, principally in Rome, to dialogue with the Ministry of Interior and to pursue diplomatic representation to repeal the measure, the Philippine Embassy thru Ambassador Romeo Manalo has reportedly been ignoring the call of his compatriots against the circular.

Earlier last year, Filipino migrants in Italy formed ” Task Force Circular No. 29,” also called Alliance of Filipino Migrants in Italy. The group’s members have reportedly been active on Facebook and other social networking sites, airing their concerns regarding the policy.

New system

The Philippine embassy for its part has already release bulletins containing information on the new system of registration for Filipinos in Italy. The embassy first released Info Bulletin No. 8-2011 on March 18, 2011 to explain the stand of the embassy on the matter.

“The Embassy supports the issuance and continued implementation of the Circulars as it firmly believes that the new uniform system on registering Filipinos in Italy is for the better good of all our kababayans in ltaly”, stated the bulletin..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/02/08/ofws-and-filipino-residents-in-italy-protest-the-remove-middle-name-policy/

LPA threatens Negros with flash floods 02/13/2012

LPA threatens Negros with flash floods

The sufferings of earthquake-affected residents of Negros Oriental continued as a low pressure area (LPA) yesterday started bringing heavy rains in the province, threatening the landslide-hit areas with possible flash floods.

In fact, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) yesterday suspended retrieval operations in landslide-hit areas of Guihulngan and La Libertad due to heavy rains spawned by the LPA.

NDRRMC executive director Undersecretary Benito Ramos said that the LPA is affecting Negros Oriental province bringing heavy rains that prompted the stoppage to the search and retrieval operations for 64 persons who remained unaccounted for after last Monday’s magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120213nat2.html

Palace, House leadership dismiss impeach plans vs Noy By Gerry Baldo and Fernan J. Angeles 02/13/2012

Palace, House leadership dismiss impeach plans vs Noy

By Gerry Baldo and Fernan J. Angeles 02/13/2012

Malacaang and its allies in the House of Representatives have dismissed the alleged plan to impeach President Aquino as baseless and unfounded even as Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the case, if filed, in the lower chamber could be declared dead on arrival.

Belmonte, reacting to reports that an impeachment case is going to be filed against Aquino for his alleged part in the anomalous sale of a government property in Baguio City, yesterday said the President has nothing to do with the transaction.

According to the House leader, the sale of the property happened during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120213hed2.html

Prosecution spokesman also building house in ritzy village EXCLUSIVE By Charlie V. Manalo 02/13/2012

Prosecution spokesman also building house in ritzy village


By Charlie V. Manalo 02/13/2012

There appears to be a boom in housing projects among members of the House prosecution panel as it’s not only the lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona who was able to acquire a multimillion-peso property in a posh subdivision in Quezon City despite a P25,000 monthly salary.

If sources are to be believed, one of the prosecution spokesman has also acquired a multimillion-peso house and lot in another village adjacent to the subdivision where lead prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas’ reported P50-million mansion is located.

Yesterday, a Tribune source bared that Marikina Rep. Romero “Miro” Quimbo had acquired a house and lot worth no less than P15 million in Varsity Hills, Quezon City..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20120213hed5.html

AFP 4,000 personnel to be rotated, says Dellosa By Mario J. Mallari 02/13/2012

AFP 4,000 personnel to be rotated, says Dellosa

By Mario J. Mallari 02/13/2012

More than 4,000 personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be rotated to other military units as part of the present leadership’s advocacy for transparency and accountability in the 125,000-strong organization.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa has ordered the rotation of overstaying AFP personnel in furtherance of professionalism in the military, noting that there are military personnel who have spent more than the ideal three years in the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo and unified areas.

It was gathered that there were AFP personnel who have spent more than 10 years in one headquarters..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20120213nat3.html

Attempt to hostage Dazas sparked killing — lawyer By Mario F. Fetalino 02/13/2012

Attempt to hostage Dazas sparked killing — lawyer

By Mario F. Fetalino 02/13/2012

It was a hostage-taking case where the perpetrator was killed.

Thus said the lawyer representing former Quezon City Rep. Nanette Castelo-Daza during a press conference yesterday in Quezon City.

The lawyer shed light on the case involving the death of the lawmaker’s long-time boyfriend Noel Orate, district manager of United Laboratories.

Orate was shot dead last Friday night by Allan Robes, provincial board member of Bulacan, during the hostage situation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120213met1.html

Palace admits it is helpless on transport weekly protest 02/13/2012

Palace admits it is helpless on transport weekly protest

Malacaang has made a public admission on its inability to halt what appears to be an impending weekly transport strike that is being posed by the transport sector in view of the continuing oil price increases.

In a radio interview heard over the State-owned radio station, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte also shrugged off worsening relationship between Malacaang and the transport sector, even as she claimed the government had already come out with concrete measures to address the concerns of the transport sector.

If that (weekly protest) is what they want, we cant do anything about it. They have the right to do that as part of their effort to make their voices heard and sentiments felt by whoever they are protesting against, not necessarily the government, Valte added..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20120213met3.html

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