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DA: Corn is 2015’s ‘champion crop’

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Andrea Lim | Reporter

Corn, it appears, is next year’s ‘champion crop’, largely made feasible because of the government’s farm mechanization and seed banking initiatives.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the Philippines is already on the threshold of corn self-sufficiency, and it is a big boost that corn can now be harvested the whole year round because of modern post-harvest facilities.

Alcala said that farmers were able to harvest corn the whole year because of the corn-in-a-cob dryer provided by the government.

Seed banks were established for the first time therefore providing replacement seeds ready to be planted in any case inclement weather hit the country.

Alcala added that there are reserved seeds in every province all over the country.

The DA also said that local corn production reached self-sufficiency last year based on market demand.

According to the DA, while the Philippines has met the self-sufficiency levels for corn of the local feed and livestock industry, the real test for self-sufficiency also requires a one month buffer stock, which is a small margin “we hope to achieve very soon.”

Corn production has grown from 3.4MT/hectare to 4.2MT/hectare in the past few years mainly due to more high-yielding seeds and new technology.

The Philippines managed to save more than P60 billion on corn imports from 2010 to 2013, whereas the Philippines used to import P28 billion worth of corn every year.

PH agriculture grew in first half of 2014

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Andrea Lim | Reporter

 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced that the country’s agriculture industry is on its way to a sustained recovery after last year’s series of calamities as it claimed an 11.26% growth in terms of value and a 1.81% growth in terms of volume for the first half of 2014.

 

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that the farming and fishing industry grossed P776.5 billion at current prices, as compared to P697.9 billion posted a year ago, adding that prices received by farmers and fishers went up by an average of 9.28%.

 

Produce Recovery

Rice, corn and sugarcane recovered from last year’s slump, boosting overall value of crops by 18.31% in terms of value, and 3.36% in terms of volume. Crops account for half of the total agricultural production.

 

The DA said that rice harvests reached 8.38 metric tons, 4.78% higher than last year’s 7.99 million metric tons.

 

The growth was due to the increase in the harvest area and yield in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Socskargen.

 

The PSA also noted the presence of better irrigation services along with higher prices of rich which encouraged farmers to plant more, particularly in Ilocos and Central Luzon.

 

Likewise, corn productivity grew by 4.7%, from 3.32 million tons to 3.48 million tons, with increases recorded in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Soccskargen. Value of corn harvests climbed to 9.17%, from P41.3 billion in January to June last year to P45.1 billion this 2014.

 

PSA said that corn farmers were able to recover from the 4.2% decline in their output in the same period last year, adding that more farmers were encouraged to plant due to high farmgate price as well as the DA’s implementation of early cropping for growers affected by weather disturbances that made available production assistance such as seeds and affordable loan packages.

 

Meanwhile, sugarcane production grew by 5.11% from 14.7 million tons in the first half of 2013 to 15.46 million tons for the same period this year, brought about by area expansion in Kalinga in the Cordilleras, Capiz and Cebu in the Visayas, and Sultan Kudarat in southwestern Mindanao.

 

Other crops which also improved output include mango (9.97%), cassava (10.04%), tomato (4.39%), cabbage (1.41%) and eggplant (1.94%).

 

On the other hand, coconut production is still declining as the industry struggles to recover from the onslaught of scale insect infestation in Quezon, Batangas, Laguna and Cavite, and from the damage inflicted by typhoon Glenda on plantations in Eastern and Western Visayas.

 

However, the coconut industry still grew in terms of value by 42.65% (that is, P50.3 billion) due to higher prices.

 

The animal industry, composed of the livestock and poultry subsectors, likewise posted production growth, increasing by 0.94% and 0.73% respectively.

 

Livestock, boosted by the improved production of dairy and hog (3.23% and 1.02% respectively), grossed P118.9 billion at current prices. This is 6.33% bigger than the previous year’s value of P111.84 billion.

 

At the same time, poultry expanded due to increases in chicken (2.24%) and duck (.50%) production.

 

In contrast, output in the fisheries sector declined by almost 2% due to lower harvests of milkfish (-2.2%), roundscad (-1.36%), yellowfin tuna (-0.24%) and seaweed (-4.12%) due to devastation brought about by Typhoon Yolanda.

 

The typhoon hit key food-producing areas in the Eastern and Western Visayas in November last year, destroying numerous fish farms and fishing boats, which prevented thousands of fisherfolk to venture out to seas.

 

Resurgence Initiatives


Rehabilitation efforts by the DA have since started, involving the distribution of sturdier fishing boats, as well as high-quality replacement seeds for rice and corn farmers, and restocking of animal and fish stocks with better health support as part of the government’s build-back better strategy.

 

Alcala said during the DA’s budget presentation before the House committee that the department proposed P51.7 billion budget for 2015 will be spent to carry out initiatives that are meant to sustain gains in staple food production and enhancing competitiveness of the Filipino agro-fishery products in the global arena.

 

Alcala explained that the financial programming for 2015 will focus on providing postharvest facilities and machineries such as rice threshers, combine harvesters and transplanters to help lower losses and production costs.

 

“These initiatives would enhance further the competitiveness of Filipino agri-fishery products for the benefit food producers and entrepreneurs, notably the smallholders,” he said.

EBOLA PANDEMIC: Are we prepared?

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Andrea Lim | Reporter

 

The Philippines faces another pandemic threat – the Ebola virus, and the challenge is brought about by the Department of Health’s small budget and the few number of isolation rooms prepared in case it enters the country.

 

“The number of isolation rooms that were prepared to handle cases of Ebola virus in the Philippines might not be adequate [in case it enters the Philippines],” said Undersecretary Janette Garin.

 

“Being ready for the Ebola virus is such a strong word – although we have experts  who can deal with the Ebola problem, including facilities in different parts of the country where we can bring patients afflicted by Ebola virus,” admitted DOH program manager Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy.

 

Lee Suy said that the DOH allocated P50 million for the disease program. The allocation is small, but Congress said that they have agreed to increase the budget ahead of the possible entry of the Ebola virus in the Philippines.

 

According to Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases head Ludovico Jurao, travel bans have been issued due to the very real threat of the Ebola virus.

 

The Department of Foreign Affairs has restricted travel to affected West African countries.

 

Meanwhile, Akbayan Partylist Walden Bello says that preparedness is being monitored.

 

“We have to be alarmist in responding to this health problem because we have OFWs in West Africa where the virus has claimed lives.”

 

On a more positive note, Health Secretary Enrique Ona says that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as well as other government hospitals nationwide are equipped to undertake laboratory tests.

 

Ebola watch


The DOH has required all local and foreign travelers entering the country to fill up a health and itinerary checklist, Ona said, adding that all air and seaports have been equipped with thermal scanners to detect the temperature of arriving passengers.

 

The Department of Labor and Employment likewise called on OFWs in West Africa to return to the Philippines to avoid being affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

 

Local government units are also being mobilized as the first line of defense in preventing the entry and spread of Ebola in the Philippines.

 

“What we wanted is to make sure that Ebola doesn’t make it to the Philippines. Globally, the problem is there. We are at a stage of preventing the entry, which is a tough task. It may not be feasible but we’re working to contain it,” Lee Suy said.

 

While the Bureau of Immigration can intercept people showing signs and symptoms of Ebola like fever through thermal scanners at airports, the DOH cannot hold or isolate them unless they agree to cooperate.

 

Bats monitored


Lee Suy said that local governments should dedicate health personnel to handle suspected Ebola cases, adding that communities can also help by reporting neighbors coming home from Ebola-affected countries.

 

According to Lee Suy, bats are also being monitored as carriers of the virus.

 

The Philippines remains vulnerable because of the impact of free international travel and the presence of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the three West Africa countries where the outbreak has already claimed 1,000 lives.

ON PANGOLINS AND ILLEGAL TRADE

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John Paolo J. Bencito | Reporter

 

The Philippines is indeed blessed with its highly-diverse portfolio of flora and fauna that dots its prospered shores. However, the survival and ultimate demise of many treasured creatures, like the Philippine Pangolin or ‘Balintong’, an endemic anteater native to Palawan – depend on how well the government is responsive to address the long-standing issue.

 

Like anywhere in the world, illegal wildlife trade here in the Philippines and in ASEAN is a well-oiled machinery, similar to the illegal drug trade. It is difficult to stop completely, but at we should initiate moves from our group and make a difference.

 

Just last year, a Chinese boat that crashed into a protected coral reef in the Philippines was hiding the remains of a second environmental disaster in its hold: thousands of illegally killed pangolins, a scaly anteater prized for its meat and scales in China.

 

The vessel hit an atoll on 8 April 2013 at the Tubbataha national marine park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site on Palawan that was also struck by a US minesweeper in January that same year. Philippine Coast Guard Spokesman Armand Balilo said that about 400 boxes, totalling over 10 tonnes of frozen pangolins, were discovered during a second inspection of the boat later that week.

 

The Philippines and the ASEAN region has long been targeted by illegal wildlife traders as a hotspot in the lucrative, multibillion dollar global trade of wildlife, in which both live and processed goods of most species are traded, ranging from eagles and elephants to rare orchids and indigenous medicinal herbs, from raremarine species to endemic reptiles and songbirds.

 

According to Rolando A. Inciong of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, the illegal trade has esoteric economic implications for the region, involving broad and complex networks of sourcing and marketing. It engages a diverse range of actors including rural harvesters, professional hunters, and an array of traders from wholesalers to retailers, up to the final consumers.

 

While all ASEAN Member States are signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered

Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the poaching, trafficking and illegal consumption of wildlife parts and products remain rampant. The scale of illegal wildlife trade is alarming. Due to the illicit nature of the trade, it has been hard to obtain exact figures, but experts estimate the value of illegal wildlife trade at USD10 to 20 billion annually.

 

“The pangolin is the most heavily traded exotic mammal.”The ASEAN- Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN)cites that“If trends continue, scientists predict that 13 to 42 per cent of the region’sanimal and plant species could be wiped out this century. At least half of those losses would representglobal extinctions.” That number include pangolins.

 

The World Bank highlighted the devastating effects that the illegal trade and exploitation of wild animals and plants are having on Southeast Asia’s biodiversity. “There has been a drastic decline in the Malayan Pangolin (Manisculionensis) which is endemic to Palawan province wherein the said species is known to be illegally traded as evident from the records of the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC), Provincial and City Prosecutor’s Office, Legal Services of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD); and, as reported by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).”

 

This collection pressure, along with the destruction of natural habitat/forest is the principal factor affecting species’ survival in the wild. The Philippine government has national and local legislations/policies being enforced addressing the above-said issue. In the national scale, Republic Act 9147 (RA 9147), otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, has become the general guiding policy for the conservation, protection and sustainable management of wildlife resources including the Malayan Pangolin.

 

However, even if the legislations, policies and initiatives of the Palawan Provincial Government and the National Gov’t were to be put onto place, the protection and conservation of wildlife resources, illegal trading on wildlife still goes on. Thus all factors affecting the situation, especially on Malayan Pangolin, were identified and corresponding remedies and solutions were recommended.

 

Relevant Philippine legislations on the protection and conservation of wildlife resources; by reviewing the implementation of RA 9147 and PCSDS’ initiatives and programs; and, analyzing the records from the enforcement and agencies concerned are all lacking grip, just like the toothless Palawan Pangolin.

 

In the proceedings of the ‘Workshop on Trade and Conservation of Pangolins Native to South and Southeast Asia’ in 2008, policy studies on Pangolin trade pointed that 1) there are no financial allocation given by the government on the protection of Pangolins in the wild; 2) there is weak or dysfunctionalmanner in the enforcement of the already weak laws; 3) insufficient technical capability by implementing agencies; and, 4) population in the wild unknown.

 

Despite thebanning of pangolin trade since 2002, the appetite of Chinese consumers for its meat, prized as a delicacy, and its scales, believed to benefit breast-feeding mothers, has virtually wiped out the poor creatures in China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

 

Chris Shepherd, an expert at wildlife trade group Traffic based in Malaysia, told the Guardian: “There is no way a slow-breeding species like the pangolin can withstand this huge pressure for long.” He said the enforcement of laws had not kept pace with demand for the pangolin meat and scales, which can fetch hundreds of dollars per kilogram in China: “We have seen a really obscene amount of seizures but very few people are arrested and even fewer convicted.”

 

The 12 Chinese crewmen from the wrecked vessel are being held on charges of poaching and attempted bribery, said AdelinaVillena, Tubbataha Reef Wildlife Park legal counsel, and face further charges, including damaging coral reef and possessing pangolin meat. Tubbataha reef is a marine sanctuary and popular diving destination 640km south-west of Manila and had already been damaged by a US navy ship that got stuck in January and had to be dismantled.

 

The Philippine military quoted the poachers as saying they accidentally wandered into Philippine waters from Malaysia. The Chinese poachers face up to 12 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $300,000 (£196,000) for the poaching charge alone. For possessing pangolin meat, they can be imprisoned up to six years and fined, Villena said.

 

The Philippine pangolin haul is one of the largest on record. In 2010, 7.8 tons of frozen pangolin and 1.8 tons of scales were seized from a fishing vessel by customs officers in Guangdong, China, while a series of customs seizures in Vietnam in 2008 yielded 23 tons of frozen pangolins in a week.

 

The International Union of Conservation of Nature said rising demand for pangolins, mostly from mainland China, and lax laws are wiping out the unique toothless anteaters from their forest habitat in Southeast Asia.

 

The animals are protected by laws in many Asian nations, and an international ban on their trade has been in effect since 2002. But these measures have had little impact on the illicit trade, the IUCN said.

 

As for the case of the twelve Chinese poachers, will justice be served?

NAIA Terminals Gets ‘Boss’ Toilets

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PASSENGERS at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can expect better comfort room facilities soon, as the rehabilitation of 121 toilets is set to be completed at Terminals 2, 3, and 4 under the “Kayo ang Boss Ko” or “KBK” Toilet Facilities Improvement Project by December this year.

This is part of the efforts of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to modernize the country’s primary gateway.

The P32.6-Million project includes the installation of major fixtures such as water closets, sensor-type urinals, lavatories, tiles, ceilings, and waterproofing works. As of early this month, around 15 percent of civil works have been completed.

For Terminal 2, a total of 26 toilet facilities are included for the rehabilitation. Based on an MIAA report, 16 comfort rooms located in the passenger movement area are now undergoing repairs. Out of 85 toilets at Terminal 3, 26 have begun rehabilitation. The rehabilitation of 10 toilets at Terminal 4 commences this month.

Meanwhile, as part of MIAA’s continuous effort to maintain and upgrade its facilities, 54 toilets at Terminal 1 were rehabilitated as early as 2010.

 

Air-condition Systems

 

The MIAA is also installing and replacing air-conditioning units at Terminals 1 and 2. All of the old 36 air handling units (AHUs) in Terminal 1 will be replaced with newly-procured units, 17 of which have been received by the airport authority for full installation by November this year. The remaining 19 AHUs will be functional by March 2015.

For Terminal 2, a total of 21 new air-conditioning units will be installed. Passengers can expect improved temperatures inside Terminal 2 by September, as nine (9) out of the 21 units will already be in place within the month.

 

Infra Upgrades

 

The NAIA Terminal 1 Rehabilitation Project, which involves structural retrofitting and other engineering works, is ongoing and scheduled to normalize operations by the end of February 2015.

Meanwhile, the NAIA Terminal 3 systems completion effort has already allowed full airport operations at the facility beginning this month. Five major international airlines are already transferring from Terminal 1, and will decongest the latter by 3.5 Million annual passengers once the ongoing transfers are completed by the middle of next month.

Palace Keeps Hands Off MRT Issue

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SHOULD Metro Rail Transit officials get the boot for the mishap that caused the injury of 36 commuters?  If you ask Malacanang, they would rather keep their hands off this issue.

While Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary (DOTC) Joseph Emilio Abaya is busy promoting a term extension for President Noynoy Aquino, the Palace has deferred to make a comment on the fate of MRT execs “until the result of the DOTC investigation is known.

“You’re asking us, ‘Is there anything higher?’ but it’s an investigation. They investigated it. I think, there were technical concerns. There were issues they were in a better position to handle,” presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda said in a news conference.

 

Administrative Charges

 

On Tuesday, Abaya said administrative charges will be filed against train operators and control center employees who supposedly committed errors that led to the overshooting of an MRT coach last week.

At least 36 passengers, including children and elderly, were hurt last Wednesday when an MRT coach rammed through a steel barricade at the Taft Avenue station in Pasay City.

The MRT 3 is operated by private firm Metro Rail Transit Corporation, in partnership with the DOTC.

Lacierda likewise reiterated the administration’s commitment to address MRT congestion.

“What we know, what we’re addressing, is the concern by the riding public on the MRT. The leadership and the DOTC are finding ways to ensure the safety of the riding public. The congestion is a concern for us,” Lacierda said.

“That’s why we’ve been working hard on the trains, coaches to be finished, so that we can expand the number of coaches in the MRT,” he added.

The MRT, which runs along EDSA from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, currently ferries 560,000 passengers daily—way beyond its 320,000 design capacity.  The trains and much of the rail system is about 15 years old.

 

Leaving the PH

 

Meanwhile, some train operators of the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit have chosen to work abroad, a television report said.

For LRT-1 alone, more than 50 train operators have already secured jobs in Singapore. Aside from their job experience, LRT operators in the Philippines are in demand because they can operate first, second, and third generation trains.

MRT and LRT train operators are contractual employees. But their contract is regularly renewed. They get paid around P20,000 plus benefits.  The pay in other countries like Singapore could be three times higher.

The MRT and LRT managements said that there were enough train operators in the country. They also continue to hire and train. After the MRT’s recent derailment at the Taft Station in Pasay City, the train operators of the MRT will undergo retraining next week.

As a precaution, the MRT currently runs its trains at a slower speed from 50 kph to 40 kph.

A Taxing Problem

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Tonypet J. Rosales | Editor

 

NOTHING is certain but death and taxes. 

But here in the Philippines, death and taxes are almost synonymous—with the country having the highest taxes in the region and with no apparent way for the average Filipino to avoid its heavy burden.

In a paper submitted to both houses of Congress, the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP) provided data for lawmakers who are looking for individual income tax reform to reduce tax burdens.

The TMAP paper revealed that Filipino individual taxpayers are subject to the highest effective income tax rates among all the countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

 

Highest Bracket

 

In comparison, TMAP points out that in the Philippines, an employee that earns an average of PhP40,000 a month (or Php500,000 annually) is already in the highest 32 percent income tax bracket. 

In other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, workers earning the same annual income pay only 20 percent; 11 percent; and, 10 percent respectively.  In Singapore, employees are taxed 2 percent—one of the lowest in the region.

TMAP recommended that the top tax rate should be reduced, that the tax threshold for lower incomes be raised and that tax brackets be realigned. With a more equitable individual tax code and a reduction in tax burdens, it was also suggested that overall compliance could be enhanced and the tax base widened, particularly if the code could also be simplified for those entrepreneurs and professionals subject to individual income taxation.

 

Amendments

 

Calls to amend the tax grid have snowballed in recent weeks with several proposals aimed at protecting the purchasing power of employees against the increasing cost of living concurring with the TMAP recommendations.

Over at the Senate, the chairman of the Senate ways and means committee Juan Edgardo Angara stressed that current Philippine income tax rates hurt middle-income earners, and has introduced a bill that aims to adjust and compress income tax brackets so as to reflect, to a greater extent, taxpayers’ ability to pay.

Angara’s bill (Senate Bill 2149) also includes proposals to gradually reduce the country’s top rate of income tax from the current 32 percent to 25 percent over the period from 2015 to 2017, together with an increase, from PhP30,000 to PhP75,0000, in the tax exemption cap on annual benefits such as 13th month pay and Christmas bonuses.

 

Opposition

 

The Department of Finance (DOF), however, expressed its opposition of the Angara measure claiming that government stands to lose at least PhP43 billion in revenues by 2017 if the bill was to be passed. Later, the DOF would admit that the PhP43 billion was only a rough estimate, but it added that any revenue loss would be harmful given the country’s present fiscal deficit situation, foreign debt and with some PhP130 billion needed to fund reconstruction following typhoon Yolanda.

As of 2006, the Philippine government was spending a third of its annual budget on debt interest payments alone, thereby crowding out vital expenditures on social services and infrastructure. The budget shares of education and health had, in fact, been falling from 17.1 and 2.1 percent in 2000, respectively, to only 13.9 and 1.3 percent in 2006.

The Aquino government is now faced with the same prospect of a mounting debt service burden that could severely tie its hands in providing for the ever-growing needs of education and health services. As a solution, PNoy and his economic managers simply want to raise taxes even when an estimated PhP250 billion is lost yearly to tax evasion.  Raising taxes would be unjust as it puts the burden on the average wage earner and on the shoulders of obedient taxpayers.

 

Low Collection

 

Problems with the Philippine tax system appear to have more to do with collections than with the rates. Estimates of individual income tax compliance in the late 1980s ranged between 13-27 percent. Assessments of the magnitude of tax evasion by corporate income tax payers in 1984 and 1985 varied from as low as PhP1.7 billion to as high as PhP13 billion. 

Tax evasion is also compounded by mismanagement and corruption.  A 1987 government study revealed that 25 percent of the national budget was lost to graft and corruption. With the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) controversy and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), this 1987 figure appears to be a gross underestimation.

Low collection rates have, in effect, reinforced the regressive structure of the tax system.  The World Bank calculated that effective tax rates (taxes paid as a proportion of income) of low-income families were about 50 percent greater than those of high-income families in the mid-1980s. Middle-income families paid the largest percentage. This situation was caused in part by the government’s heavy reliance on indirect taxes.

Individual income taxes accounted for only 8.9 percent of tax collections in 1989, and corporate income taxes were only 18.5 percent. Taxes on goods and services and duties on international transactions made up 70 percent of tax revenue in 1989, about the same as in 1960.

 

Mixed Signals

 

The country’s outdated” and inequitable taxation system makes middle-income earners pay the same taxes as billionaires and needs to be updated immediately.

“Updating our tax system is an issue of equity. It’s not an issue anymore of macroeconomics. That’s all meaningless if the average person has nothing left for his family,” Angara said.

For its part the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it is considering draft proposals to lower income taxes by 2015.  But like the mixed signals from the DOF, the BIR said it would be willing to lower income taxes if it would be replaced by a revenue raising mechanism elsewhere.

Aside from lowering individual income taxes, the BIR should also consider lowering the corporate income tax rate, which currently stands at 30 percent. A lower corporate tax rate would enable the Philippines to be more competitive tax-wise in ASEAN, and attract more foreign investments.  At present, the country’s corporate tax rate is the highest in ASEAN (except where a company in Myanmar is not registered under its Foreign Investment Law). Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam have the second-highest tax rates at 25 percent – a whole 5 percentage points lower than the Philippines.

Simply put, lowering individual income taxes would mean additional purchasing power for the average Filipino.  More money in their pockets means an increased capacity to make purchases and satisfy the need for basic goods and services.  This additional empowerment can thus translate to a stronger local economy with money flowing in the direction of local manufacturing.

Otherwise, taxes will continue to make a killing.

ARE WE SECURED?

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Erick San Juan | Columnist

 

Security is the most complicated issue associated with the construction of new architecture in the Asia Pacific region especially with the ASEAN countries as the center. Traditionally bilateral treaties are the main components of security in the region. During the Cold War, the system of regional security was based on the ‘umbrella’ principle. In those years, the US created an extensive network of quasi-alliance consisting of nation-states, not related through multilateral formats of security apparatus but committed to Washington. The US initially opposed a multilateral security system in the Asia Pacific region, recognizing it as a threat to the existing bilateral agreements.

 

Even after the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of bipolar  confrontation, security architecture in the region has not changed. Moreover, Washington draws a line in modifying military-political alliances with key allies like Japan, South Korea, Australia, Philippines and Thailand, as well as strengthening the network of new partners such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar. The west operates without regard to the countries’ approaches to their national security and seek their greater susceptibility to models of regional integration as promoted by the Americans. At a time when countries in Asia Pacific are trying to reduce tensions in the region, Washington Ok’d Japan’s modernization of its military and national security. Observers believed that Japan will support the US in their military-political activities in the region. No doubt about it, because Japan after the second world war became a close ally of the USA and it became an integral partner of the Trilateral Commission which started as a global organization of Japan, US and Europe whose early mandate was to return the war loots where they belong.

 

With this commitment of the Japanese government, plus the saber-rattling with China, it has to change and modify its constitution. A radical departure from it’s being a non-nuclear state, a country who learned from its past mistakes and has refused to participate in wars anymore. With the impending threat from China, it is now devoted to the joint activities with the west.

 

Good for the Japanese? What about us and the other Asian neighbors? Any escalation of war in the region, whether we like it or not, we will be drag to go to war again. The big question mark is- “Are we secured? Will our big brother Americans help us?”

 

In the recent article of Victor Avecilla at the Manila Standard, August 12,2014, he asked this question- “In the event that a shooting  war breaks out between the Philippines and Communist China, will the US  and the UK be just as ready to assist Manila in the fighting?”

 

Avecilla cited the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between Manila and Washington DC and legally speaking, the US is duty bound to rescue us. (Yes we ratified it but the US Congress did not). He added that it is impossible for the Americans to intervene especially now that America is in financial crisis. (Plus the US owe China trillions of dollars). He also cited some pundits that the US will still help the Philippines because America cannot afford to allow the sea lanes in East and South East Asia converted into a Chinese lake.

 

Just like what my pro-American father warned me in the past that the Americans are good people per se but you can’t trust all the people running it’s government. Even Mr. Avecilla commented, “Sadly, the historical record provides Manila reason to doubt if America can be taken on its word.

 

To quote- “In December 1941, when the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands after their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, US President  Franklin D. Roosevelt sent word to Manila that reinforcements were on their way to America’s citadel in the Far East. Those promised reinforcements never came.”

 

“The US had no colonies in Europe at that time, but it had one in the Pacific-the Philippine Islands. In 1942, President Roosevelt agreed with the UK that the war in Europe against Germany and Italy shall take priority over the war in the Pacific against Japan. Meanwhile, the Philippines had to bear the ordeal of brutal enemy occupation.”

 

“After the successful invasion of France by allied forces in June 1944, Roosevelt focused his attention to the Pacific. The original plan was that the US military forces will by-pass the Philippines and launch the allied offensive against Japan from Formosa (now Taiwan). Fortunately, General Douglas McArthur vehemently objected to that plan and prevailed on Roosevelt to liberate the Philippine Islands prior to an invasion of Japan.”    That was the American version of history. The truth of the matter, when the US government found out that Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita was already in Manila to collect the war loots, Roosevelt immediately instructed MacArthur to return to Manila and locate Yamashita.       

       

Avecilla narrated that in contrast to the way the US treated us, a former colony, it invested heavily in the economic recovery of its erstwhile enemies- Germany and Japan.

 

There were several inconsistencies in history which I unmasked in my book, ‘Raiders of the Lost Gold. Lastly, Avecilla stated that the historical record may be subject to various interpretations but there is one message it clearly conveys-‘that the Philippine government will be better off assuming that no military  assistance will readily come from foreign countries in the event a shooting war does take place against China and that the Philippines should start beefing up its military arsenal immediately and explore unconventional diplomatic solutions to the serious breach of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.’

 

Need I say more?

DESPERATE

Posted on Updated on

Ronald Roy | Columnist 

 

To put it quite tritely: Laughter is the best medicine, very especially in these times when the ruling yellow heavyweights are punch-drunk with power and the flyweights like you and me are, again, struggling up to beat the count of ten. But we do not ask what miracle there is to turn around the one-sided slugfest, because LOL gives us renewed vigor and purpose — the imperative resilience — like I did when I received the following text.

 

Pedro: “Lahat ng mga politiko ay mga magnanakaw.”  Juan: “Hoy, dahandahan ka naman sa pananalita!   Nakakasakit ka ng damdamin!”  Pedro: “Bakit, politiko ka ba?” Juan:” Hinde, pwede ba!? Magnanakaw lang ako!” He he, ha ha, your choice but, whichever, it is our ethnic sense of humor that will get us back on our feet to put an end to Pres. Benigno S. Aquino lll’s reign of terror. Hopefully.

 

The Palace’s chief occupant is so incredibly combative he has made clear in no uncertain terms that it is he, not the Supreme Court, who is the ultimate interpreter of the law, that ours is a government of men, not of laws, and that, with the support of his legislative lackeys, he will change the Constitution that was his mother’s legacy in order: one, to formally “restore the balance of power among the three branches of government by clipping the excesses of the high tribunal that has been usurping his executive powers and prerogatives” — HUH ??? — and two, to reset term limits in response to a public clamor for a second presidential term for the prematurely balding kid — HUH???

 

Of course, they are mulling over such other beguiling amendments relative to, for instance, the economy and foreign relations; but hey, these yellow stools must be taking us for idiots! Their palpable agenda is to change the basic charter in a way that will first: exculpate them from PDAF and DAP-related criminal and civil liabilities, and second: authorize their benefactor to stay in office until all his hair is gone — which could take forever.

 

People will howl but they can always argue it’s the people who’ll decide anyway, so why the paranoia?! They could really be convincing were it not for the fact that it is their vote-buying largess that gives them what they want, not to mention those PCOS machines that could magically pull off the results in their favor. Diyos ko po, ang kakapal naman!

 

 

But, is there anything new? These yellow stools will persist till hell freezes over, and only sovereign violence can stop them! Bakit sila ganyan, Sir Roy ? Simple lang, hija (Nora Ching): Sarap na sarap sila sa kapangyarihan, at sila lang ang marurunong! Pero, Sir, mayroon pa bang naniniwala sa kanila? Well, confident that Nora understands English, I reply as follows.

 

Randomly conducted radio interviews over the past weeks on the issue of presidential term extension show an overwhelming rejection of the Yellows’ agenda at the ratio of 674 to 89, with presidential-bailiwick Tarlac leading the deluge at 148 to 45 cum bad words. But, did these sycophants stop? Naaah. Just the same, Yellows led by Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice proceeded to initiate charter change moves in the Lower House, even in the face of the near impossibility of chacha happening for lack of material time, let alone the fact that the budget does not provide for it.

 

It was somewhat a breather, anyway, that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon finally came out rejecting constitutional changes for term extensions, even if they were seen to have done so only after it became obvious the people would not stand for it. But I’m actually more convinced that these two yellow bootlickers spoke up after they were reportedly warned by a shadowy military group known as Young Officers Union (YOU) that hell would break loose if they pursued chacha.

 

According to the A-1 source, YOU’s message to the two was for them to “give it up, because in the Senate alone, a 3/4 vote (18 votes) would be impossible”. Well, I have done a little arithmetic on this, and this is the result: Voting against term extensions, particularly that for P-Noy, are 1.Juan Ponce Enrile, 2. Jinggoy Estrada, 3.Bong Revilla, 4.Tito Sotto, 5.Gringo Honasan, 6.Nancy Binay, 7.Bong Bong Marcos and 8.Miriam Defensor Santiago. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, there will be eight senators opposing term extensions, effectively reducing to sixteen, two short of the threshold eighteen votes that are needed to carry the proposal.

 

But then, anything is possible with people with jail terms staring them in the face. After P-Noy steps down from office, they will be held to account for the plunder of billions of pesos worth of people’s money. They are very desperate.

 

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EDITORIAL: PR Frenzy

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PR Frenzy

Volume 4, No. 52

 

TROUBLE is brewing in the Palace—again.

 

In an apparent panic over the sharp dip in the President’s net approval ratings, the Palace is said to be in over-drive to save PNoy’s sagging image and to save the Liberal Party bet from certain doom come the 2016 presidential elections.  Problem is, the Balay and Samar groups are at it again, each with their own ideas of how to save the ship from sinking.

 

A newspaper report says the Palace is now in PR crisis mode and both Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, leaders of the Samar and Balay groups have activated their own PR machineries to help solve the administration quandary.

 

Roxas, who is supposedly the LP standard bearer in 2016, is reportedly bringing back the American handler who propelled him to the Senate with the “Mr. Palengke” brand in 2004.  Meanwhile, Ochoa is said to have called back his Samar team—led by television director and PNoy cousin Maria Montelibano—to active duty.

 

Roxas’ tactic is expected to be filled with slogans and geared toward a return to the basic platform of good governance.  Sounds like a remake of “Daang Matuwid”.  On the other hand, with a television director at the helm, Ochoa could be gunning for a more cinematic approach, one involving high drama and the broadcast media.

 

Balay and Samar have been at odds since 2010 following the Mar’s loss to Jejomar Binay and this opportunity to outdo one another could end in another fiasco for PNoy.

 

Caught up and probably lost in all this mess is Secretary Sonny Coloma, presidential spokesperson and the guy, as his job description suggests, who is supposed to be on top of the President’s public information and communication concerns. Appointed to replace Edwin Lacierda, observers say the President may be unhappy with Coloma’s inability to do damage control on the DAP issue and, most recently, the issue of port congestion.

 

In the end, we are the losers in this PR game.  A massive public relations campaign will entail the use of public funds—money that could be better spent improving the plight of Juan dela Cruz than to save the flagging numbers of a confused President.