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BLAME GAME

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By ElCid Benedicto

Beyond the controversy over the “Napolist” or the list provided by alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, on those lawmakers supposedly in cahoots with her scheme misusing their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), was the legal implication of the “exposure” of what most observers consider as a malicious document.

The Senate blue ribbon committee released the two versions of the “Napolist” immediately after it was furnished to the panel, one provided to former Sen. Panfilo Lacson by Napoles’ husband Jimmy and the other that she herself allegedly have given to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Some members of the House of Representatives who have raised howl for having been dragged into the issue have reportedly considering of filing a class suit against a major publication while there are those also from the Senate contemplating of taking legal action against Napoles herself and other media entities.

The blame game is just starting and as to who will carry the brunt will likely be the members of the media who took the bait of publicizing the tons of documents coming from both camps of Napoles and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Some Senate observers took note of some apparent lapses on the part of blue ribbon committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III in releasing the documents even before his panel could take it up in a formal hearing.

A senior Senate member admitted that such act by Guingona could constitute a libelous act, acceding to the assertions of some upper chamber observers that their colleague should have at least circumspect by having the documents first entered into the records of the committee proceedings releasing it publicly.

This was on the account of the Napoles list provided by Lacson that was not signed by her or accompanied by any other document attesting to her ownership of it.

Based on the assertions of some, Guingona, in effect, caused the publication and distribution of information on a malicious imputation of a crime that is not even contained in an official document.

Another senator, an ally of the Aquino administration, on the other hand, came to the defense of Guingona saying that the blue ribbon chair could not be made to any criminal offense since he did not cause the publication and distribution of the information but the media entities.

“He ordered the release of the documents, being the committee chair, but he did not tell you (members of the media) to have it publicized. More importantly, he’s not the ‘author’ of what could be considered as a libelous material,” the senator-lawyer pointed out.

“Didn’t you notice? He made no utterances regarding the content of the documents, meaning lifting anything from it,” the senator further pointed out.

Such argument makes sense, in a way as this was the same issue raised by the Supreme Court in the case of Alonzo v. Court of Appeals, saying that that what is material is that a third person has read or heard about the libelous remark, for “a man’s reputation is the estimate in which others hold him in, not the good opinion which he has of himself.”

As such, the elements of libel are: imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another; publication of the imputation, identity of the person defamed; and existence of malice.

It can be noted that senators and congressmen enjoy immunity from prosecution even if they defame or accuse anyone of any wrongdoing in their privilege speeches or any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.

No less than Senate President Franklin Drilon himself pointed out the documents should have been substantiated before it was made readily available to the public,

“Dati ko nang sinasabi na tayo ay pabor na ilabas ang listahan, ngunit dapat ay sana may pruweba mula sa isang testigo, at hindi allegation lang. Yung listahan ay puro pangalan, walang malinaw na dokumento. Hindi naman yata tama na ilabas yang mga pangalan na walang basehan, dahil ang reputasyon ng isang tao ang nakasalalay,” Drilon said in one of the interviews.

“Katulad nga ng sinasabi ni Sen. (Francis) Chiz (Escudero) , nasa listahan siya ng isa (Napoles list provided by Lacson), pero wala siya sa iba. Ipinasa na ni (former) Sen. Lacson sa blue ribbon committee ung affidavit daw ni Napoles, pero meron pang ibang listahan. Kaya po iyan ay uulitin ko lang, kailangan may pruweba ang listahan,” he stressed, during an interview with dzMM.

In another radio interview, the Senate chief reiterated the same, emphasizing that he does not stand opposed to disclosing the contents of such documents supposedly from Napoles provided that it’s backed up with proof or testimony to substantiate the allegations contained therein.

“Mag-ingat tayo sa mga listahan na walang detalye, dahil ang reputasyon ng mga tao ang nakasalalay diyan,” he said.

The documents comprised of unsigned supposed sworn affidavit of Napoles, a typewritten notes of sort and a “list” of names of senators, congressmen, government officials and alleged “agents” was accompanied by a mere cover letter signed by Lacson.

“As agreed earlier, I am hereby transmitting to your office the following documents: draft affidavit of Janet Lim Napoles; narration of events; and list of senators, congressmen and other personalities that she allegedly dealt with in connection with the PDAF. Please acknowledge receipt of the foregoing documents. I hope that these documents will assist the investigation being conducted by your committee and address the clamor of our people for transparency in public service,” Lacson said in his letter to Guingona dated May 13.

Unlike in the case of committee members whom Sen. Koko Pimentel emphasized have every right to be given copies, including such unsigned documents although he pointed out that insofar as probative value is concerned, there’s none.

“It’s just a list. Let us be more concerned with evidence…it’s useless
kung ganun lang. It has no probative value at meron na kasing draft and signed Senate blue ribbon report eh. If we feel na may additional pa, let’s start a new one, a new investigation na lang.

At that time when Pimentel made the statement prior to the submission of De Lima’s version of the “Napolist” as well as Napoles’ two sets of affidavits.

He pointed out that the Napolist, on its face, was useless as it “has no probative value at meron na kasing draft and signed Senate blue ribbon report eh. If we feel na may additional pa, let’s start a new one, a new investigation na lang.”

Also, calling Napoles to testify on the list provided by Lacson then, was viewed by Pimentel as premature, adding that it should have been accompanied by a sworn affidavit, which De Lima eventually provided.

Pimentel said that those mentioned in the “Napolist” can avail of a legal remedy by filing perjury charges, considering that Napoles, in her appearance before the Senate blue ribbon issued a flat denial regarding her involvement in the pork scam.

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CONSPIRACY

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By Miguel Raymundo

Yearly, the government allots billions of pesos in taxpayer’s money to build roads, but it’s the private contractors who are making a killing at public’s expense.

Take the 94-km North Luzon Diversion Road, built in 1996 by the government which has fattened the pockets of its new owners, Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group.

Renamed North Luzon Expressway, the project has emerged as a cash cow of listed Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the group’s infrastructure unit in the Philippines.

Last year alone, the MPTC saw profit bursting at the seams, surging sharply, thanks – or no thanks – to the government’s benevolence in allowing with impunity the company to jack up its toll rates amid mounting protests from motorists.

Buoyed by robust revenues, the Salim firm even went to the extent of proposing to stretch its franchise to cover the lucrative Manila-Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway under a 50-50 revenue sharing deal with the government.

Bottomline
But the proposal hardly took off the ground, shot down in no time at all by a government wizened to the profiteering ways of private contractors.

Typical of its insensitivity to public welfare, the state-run Toll Regulatory Board allows a toll road operator every two years to raise its rates without the need for the agency’s prior approval.

Cashing in on a hefty traffic volume, the MPTC’s bottomline, up by a hefty 32 percent to P2.784 billion year-on-year, only showed how the government’s infrastructure program has turned out to be big business for the private contractors.

In short, a conspiracy exists between government and the private contractors by cashing in on the commuters’ gullibility to take any toll rate increase without raising a whimper.

Admittedly, the privatization of public utilities only leads to huge profits for big foreign and local corporations – and, effectively, widen rich-poor gap.

Other than TRB’s automatic approval of any toll rate increase every two years to allow operators a fair return on their investments, another contentious issue is the 12 percent value-added tax on toll approved by the Supreme Court which has been passed on by operators to the already financially burdened commuters.

Benchmark
Ultimately, the country’s public roads and highways should be taken over by the government to prevent corporations from increasing their profits at public’s expense.

The toll road operator’s wallowing in profits amid complaints of rising rates could have provided a benchmark, a caution for the government in tempering privatization of its public infrastructure projects.

But that appears not to be the case as more and more projects are up for grabs, ranging from toll roads to ports, airports, to the highest bidders in the private sector.

Apparently, profitability is key reason why there’s a mad rush among the country’s corporate titans to bid for the proposed P35.42 billion, 44.6-km Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calex).

Auctioned off by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the project has attracted four qualified bidders, including powerhouse San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Best Deal
Jockeying for the highly lucrative contract is so intense that the Salim Group has sought SMC’s disqualification for allegedly submitting a non-compliant bid.

The Indonesian group has argued that SMC’s bid did not contain a valid bid security, a bond that protects the government in case a winning bidder decides not to proceed with the project.

But SMC, which has adopted infrastructure as an integral part of its core businesses, has disputed its rival’s contention.

“We are compliant. We have a very competitive bid and we are confident we can give government the best deal for the benefit of the taxpayers and the country,” it says in a statement.

Irked over the rivals’ raising of petty issues, the conglomerate admonished them not to waste energy pulling each other down, saying “we want our countrymen to get the best price from several, not a few bidders.”

Cavite-Laguna
Other bidders expected to give competitors a run for their money are the joint venture of Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Group and Malaysian infrastructure firm MTD Bhd.

Part of the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program, the project starts from Kawit, Cavite, and ends at the Mamplasan interchange of the South Luzon Expressway in Biñan, Laguna.

Based on DPWH’s terms of reference, private investors will finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the expressway that will connect Cavite and Laguna directly, greatly reducing travel time between the two provinces.

The two highly industrialized and urbanized provinces are home to hundreds of international and multinational electronic, semiconductor, automotive and manufacturing companies, in addition to residential developments.
With infrastructure deemed as a key component of economic growth, the government is projected to invest about P750 Billion for projects between 2011 and 2016.

Budget
Separately, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is also proposing about P403 billion in infrastructure projects in 2014 to boost the country’s competitiveness, spur investments, create jobs and improve the country’s economy.

The budget outlay would result in a five percent infrastructure spending in relation to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio and increase revenue effort to 17.1 percent by the year 2016.

But somehow, the government has rationalized what it says is the essential role of the private sector as the main engine for national growth and development.

Under the PPP, the government will provide incentives to stimulate private resources for financing the construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects.

To a large extent, the government is even willing, on a project basis, to protect investors from certain regulatory risks such as court orders or decisions which prevent them from adjusting tariffs to contractually agreed levels.

Risks and Regulations
Such regulatory risk insurance could take the form of make-up payments from the government to PPP investors, other guaranteed payments, and adjustments to contract terms.

The specifics of the type of protection to be offered by the government, and the mechanisms through which such protection will be offered will be part of the contract terms for each project. Such protection will only be offered for solicited projects which undergo a competitive bidding process.

But certain advocacy groups had criticized the PPP, saying the public is being held hostage by private corporations whose overriding purpose is only to amass profits as much as possible.

In effect, the responsibility to build roads is being handed over by the government to private concessionaires who are only too eager to squeeze money from the financially depressed people.

Why and Who are Persecuting the Ejercito Estradas?

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By Linggoy Alcuaz

“When it rains, it pours.” That is what the Ejercito Estradas must be feeling nowadays. The latest open hunting season on the Ejercito Clan started three weeks ago. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s Chairman, Senator Teofisto “Tootsie” Guingona III, started to subpoena and receive “Napolists” and JLN narratives.

On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, former PNP Director General, former Senator and now Secretary Ping Lacson submitted his unsigned copy and/or version of the “Napolist”. A day later, Wednesday, May 14, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, submitted her signed “Napolist”. However, she requested and was given a week or until two weeks ago to submit Napoles’ signed affidavit. She submitted the first affidavit on schedule and the supplementary affidavit just last week. Last week also, the NBI submitted their copy of the Benhur Lim Luy Computer Hard Drive with about 30,000 files and 3,000 folders.

Surprise of all surprises! Freshman Senator J V Ejercito Estrada was included in the list of incumbent and former Senators as a Senator and not as a former Congressman. JV is a former Jaycees National President. He was elected for three three year terms as Mayor of San Juan. Then, he served a single term as Congressman of San Juan City. Fortunately, JLN retracted and cleared JV.

Two weeks ago, Wednesday, May 21, the COMELEC En Banc ruled to disqualify Laguna Governor E. R. Ejercito for overspending. They gave him just five days to secure a TRO from the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court merely asked the COMELEC to comment and reply to E. R.’s legal recourse, but did not issue a TRO, they unseated him. Last week, Tuesday, May 27, they swore in the Vice Governor to take ER’s place.

Two weeks ago, the news broke that the Supreme Court had scheduled Mayor Estrada’s disqualification case for deliberations. Both parties were given a month to submit their respective memoranda.

Then, we have the ten and a half month drawn out Trial by Publicity of the three Opposition Senators – Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, known also by their code names “Tanda”, “Seksi” and “Pogi”. The long awaited filing of Plunder Cases against them by the Ombudsman before the Sandigan Bayan, has been delayed because of the following reasons.

The defendants asked to be provided with copies of certain documents filed by the DOJ with the Ombudsman. The latter acceded but gave the defendants just five days to review and comment on the said documents. Meanwhile, Ombudsman Carpio Morales went abroad. My educated guess is that they are just waiting for the next Congressional recess before filing the first wave of cases at the Sandigan Bayan.

Jinggoy was born on Feb 17, 1963. He became Vice Mayor of San Juan from 1988 to 1992. Then, he served three three year terms as Mayor from 1992 until 2001. In the aftermath of the 2001 EDSA II, Mayor Jinggoy Estrada was also charged and arrested and jailed like his father. However, unlike his father, he was granted bail and acquitted eventually.

With four Ejercitos being simultaneously prosecuted/persecuted, one wonders why? Although, they all belong to the Opposition, they had not been critical or uncooperative with PNoy’s Administration before they were the ones at the receiving end of political maneuvers and vendetta.

Although, the political persecution is now peaking, it started more than a year ago. In the May 13, 2013 National Elections for twelve Senators, JV ended up number eleven with Greg Honasan and Jackie Enrile behind him. All three of them had done better in the poll surveys during the previous year. On the other hand Admin Candidates Grace Poe, Sonny Angara and Bam Aquino were substantially and surprisingly ahead of what the surveys had indicated. Even Nancy Binay with much less experience and exposure than JV was six places ahead of him in fifth place.

Then, in the months of September, October and November, Jinggoy, Erap and E. R. took their turns as Administration Targets. In the Napoles, PDAF and Pork Scandals, JPE, Jinggoy and Bong Revilla were singled out repeatedly for trial by publicity as well as Prosecution by Persecution. “Iyon pala”, there were twelve to twenty five incumbent and former Senators involved depending on what list you believed in. Out of so many winning candidates in the same boat, E. R. was singled out to be ousted for election overspending.

While Erap has been defending and praising PNoy and his Administration, PNoy’s boys have been maneuvering to oust him from Manila and restore Fred Lim. When the results of the May 19 – 26 Pulse Asia “Ulat ng Bayan” Survey came out, PNoy’s boys panicked. The public survey which does not include Erap, shows that non Administration Presidentiables have 58 % of the vote. The Admin Presidentiables have a mere 42 %. In the private survey which includes Erap, the non Admin total increases to 2/3 and the Admin total decreases to one third. In both Vice President Binay is way, way ahead.

In their desperation, PNoy’s boys are trying to pull down Binay by demolishing his allies including JPE and the Ejercitos. However, the latest twist in the political drama for 2016 is that the last desperate Strategy of the Roxas camp is to drive a wedge between Erap and Binay and get the two of them to run in 2016 for President. The objective is to split the Opposition vote. However, the surveys show that even if Binay, Erap, Poe, Bongbong and Bong all run, Binay would still win. In second place now, is Erap. In third place is Poe.

The best thing that PNoy can do for himself is to support Binay or Erap. That way, he would not go to jail like Erap and GMA did.

As for Grace Poe, I believe that if she inherited some basic character traits from FPJ, she will not immediately run for President.

USAID Special Feature: USAID Helps Mindanao folk strengthen climate resilience

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BAGANGA, Davao Oriental – All his life, Edilberto Bohol lived off the sea. On good days, he catches just enough fish to provide for his family.

However, he and his colleagues struggle just to meet their basic needs. Edilberto catches fish in the traditional hook and line method, which can bring meager returns.

As a result, he, and many of the province’s 15,000 fishers, live below the poverty threshold. “I have been fishing since I was small. The same is true with my father. I only finished high school, and this is the only livelihood I know,” said Bohol.

Seeking to improve the plight of these fishing communities, government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) conducted agriculture and aquaculture training and distributed seedlings, fish fry and other production inputs to help improve livelihoods in the area.

Unfortunately, Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) struck the province before these programs could reap their intended results.

Profitable and Sustainable
And the very resources that these fisher folk relied on for their survival were wiped out. More than 400 fishing boats were damaged and almost all fish-rearing structures in Boston, Baganga, and Cateel—municipalities severely affected by Pablo—were decimated. Projects that were underway were likewise wiped out.

During the immediate aftermath of Pablo, local governments tried to focus on underlying poverty issues of their areas and resume daily fishing activities. There was an obvious need, however, to introduce alternative livelihood opportunities that could be more profitable and sustainable.

The U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program, supports this idea.

Following a rapid assessment, USAID designed and implemented a multi-component disaster recovery program in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, under the oversight of the Mindanao Development Authority.

Climate Adaption
USAID/Philippines Mission Director Gloria D. Steele said, “The recovery program is part of the U.S. Government’s Php768 million disaster assistance to help Typhoon Pablo victims recover from the catastrophe.

This consisted of education, infrastructure, climate adaptation strengthening, agriculture and aquaculture livelihood assistance for the most severely affected municipalities.”

The multi-component approach included the introduction of high-value aquaculture to typhoon-affected fisher folk in both provinces.

The provincial Government of Davao Oriental was also provided with a high-value aquaculture industry development plan, which presents the results of a study on the viability of grouper (or lapu-lapu) production to help drive sustainable economic growth in the province.

The plan was formally handed over to Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon in August 2013. It notes that grouper is expected to give better returns to growers compared traditional aquaculture commodities, like milkfish and tilapia.

USAID GEM
This target commodity presents the most potential for promotion and development in the area, considering its high market price, local and export market demand, availability of suitable mariculture sites and advances in technology.

The short to long-term strategies presented in the plan may also take off from the activities implemented by USAID through GEM.

USAID, in collaboration with the provincial government and BFAR, conducted a series of workshops on grouper farming for select growers associations in coastal towns. To help strengthen their climate resilience, the skills expansion effort included the construction of weather-resistant fish cages using locally sourced materials.

Fisherfolk in landlocked towns were trained on inland freshwater aquaculture.
They were also taught climate adaptation and mitigation techniques to address flooding and unstable oxygen levels that occur in fishponds when water temperature rises.

Majority of these growers received hatchery-bred grouper juveniles, milkfish fingerlings, formulated feeds and other start up materials from USAID.

Fisherfolk
“The project reached about 2,000 fisherfolk. The technologies we introduced are cost-effective, highly replicable and will also avert potential losses due to adverse weather conditions,” said Lauro Tito Ilagan, USAID-GEM Aquaculture Team Leader.
“Lapu-lapu farming can be very profitable and sustainable. At two production cycles per year, a four-compartment fish cage will allow a net income of as much as Php200,000,” Ilagan explained.

Edilberto and members of the Kinablangan Fisherfolk Association, which he chairs, are about to enjoy their first harvest of grouper.

“We can sell these at about Php500 a kilo,” he said, thanking USAID for helping his hometown. “We will reinvest part of our income to buy fingerlings and other inputs so that we can continue to improve our lives.”

Other growers groups that participated in the project, such as the Mabini Fisherfolk Association, are also on their way to recovery.

Prior to their foray into grouper production, the members were engaged in traditional cage culture of low-value milkfish which they sold for about Php100 per kilo in local wet markets. On their first cycle of production, they stand to earn approximately Php260,000.

“The seeds of recovery that we planted a year ago through a strong partnership between the Philippine and United States governments are beginning to bear fruit.

The U.S. Government will continue to work with our Philippine Government partners to help Typhoon Pablo-affected provinces recover and achieve lasting peace and greater prosperity for all of its residents,” Director Steele said.

Control

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By Ronald Roy

Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, unabashed self-proclaimed contender for the presidency in the 2016 elections, warned that keeping secret a new affidavit by Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged PDAF scam brains, would “empower her to manipulate public opinion one way or the other.” Perhaps. However, I don’t go along with his demand that she be summoned anew by the Blue Ribbon Committee for a scrutiny of her new statement.

There is no way the public will gain enlightenment from a senate investigation of the pork scam when the culprits alluded to by Napoles are the investigating senators themselves, not to mention those other guilty colleagues — bato bato sa langit ang tatamaan ay huwag magagalit — who quietly swivel in their cool armchairs expecting vindication in a process that they fully control. This asinine and expensive circus must stop. It serves no other purpose than to fuel more speculation, sow more confusion, and facilitate cover-up schemes.

Senators are not called “lawmakers” for nothing. By their every word and deed, and as their mandate would have it, they must exemplify sedulous adherence to the lofty requirements of respect for the Law, esteem for its institutions and processes, and fear of its rule. Accordingly, our senators should now terminate the subject investigation in order to allow the Ombudsman’s Office to exercise unimpeded control of the role it is ordained by the Constitution to discharge. No, there is no cogent reason for these upper-chamber legislators to distrust their own creation: the largely statutory criminal justice system.

*****

Motorcyclists are the bane of patience. Being in total control of our streets, they freely violate traffic rules in pretty much the same way some politicians cavalierly breach the norms of delicadeza and rectitude. And can these motorcyclists quickly organize themselves into a mob at any accident site where one of them is involved! One should not find unfamiliar any of the following road situations.

Three years ago, I was driving on Edsa behind two buses that were a meter and a half apart. Suddenly, a motorcycle sped past me on my right side, surged ahead and, to my horror, raced through between the buses in a resolve to overtake them. As the buses moved toward each other, motorists and I following behind came to a screeching stop to see a gut-wrenching mishap that left the helmeted rider and his machine lying on the road in one gruesome twisted heap.

That was but one of numerous motorcycle misfortunes that had then been occurring at a very alarming rate, and the accidents have since increased without letup. Today, one wonders if authorities will ever buckle down to produce safety rules for the motoring public in general and the motorcyclists in particular, pedestrians and bystanders included.

For having been actually involved in two recent motorcycle accidents, I sometimes muse on the possibility that one day I will be a plaintiff or defendant in a reckless imprudence trial, notwithstanding the fact that in over 60 years behind the wheels, my extraordinarily diligent and defensive manner of driving has always seen me safely through — knock on wood. Hereunder are the two incidents.

As I remained at STOP position preparing to turn right to Hemady Street in Q.C., a motorcyclist drove up from behind and rested his machine between my right rear door and the embankment. From that position, he knew I would turn right since my signal lights were flashing. After the traffic light turned green, I proceeded to turn right along with the motorcycle. While I was executing the turn, the motorcycle suddenly swerved around in a split-second decision to change course.

I didn’t hit it, but its rider kicked my fender to avoid being struck. As a result of the force of the kick, he fell off his two-wheeler which scooted ahead and crashed against a concrete wall. He suffered a broken wrist and a badly damaged motorcycle. Luckily, patrol cops who witnessed the incident prevented a gathering mob of cussing motorcyclists from possibly lynching me. The hurt rider apologized for his reckless driving.

Then, another time when I was doing 30 kph on Aurora Boulevard, Manila, a motorcycle that had overtaken me suddenly crossed my path, and instinctively I swerved rightward to avoid hitting it. Unfortunately, I hit a cab. The culprit sped away and got lost in the traffic, and I gave the taxi driver a generous amount for slightly denting his fender.

This sort of road scourge cannot be totally eradicated. But authorities can control it by requiring motorcyclists to drive, at all times, directly behind a chosen vehicle, and allowing them to move therefrom only for the purpose of turning left or right to another street. Needless to state, strict enforcement and stiff penalties will produce eye-popping results, particularly in the dramatic reduction of riding-in-tandem killings. Hopefully.

My Fearless/Fearful JLN Forecast!

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As of our Press Deadline, Janet “Jeny” Lim-Napoles was still at the Ospital ng Makati. While the World was questioning why she had not been returned to her court designated place of detention at the PNP SAF camp in Santa Rosa, Laguna, the Authorities were pointing fingers at each other.

The Makati RTC Branch presided over by Judge Almeda said that there was no need for a Court Order to return her to where the Court had committed her. Her custodian, the PNP, said that she had not paid her hospital bills and therefore could not get a discharge or release order from the Ospital ng Makati. The Ospital ng Makati said that they had already issued a discharge order. Besides, they said that it is against the law to hold a patient because of non payment of medical bills or expenses.

Then we hear that JLM wants to stay in the hospital for at least three months. That is what the rich and infamous always want to do. Former Presidents Estrada and Arroyo were committed to the Presidential Suite of the Veterans Memorial Hospital. Former PCSO Chairman and Director Manoling Morato stayed at the SLMC, QC. Gov. Antonio Leviste and Rolito Go spent a portion of their sentences in various hospitals as well as special accommodations at the National Penitentiary at Muntinglupa.

My Fearless Forecast is that if JLM is brought back to Santa Rosa, her list of Senators, Congressmen and Executive Officials involved in the the PDAF/Pork Scandal will come out in its entirety. My Fearful Forecast is that if JLM continues to be detained at the Ospital ng Makati, her list will again be censored, evaluated and manipulated to implicate PNoy’s enemies and protect his allies, friends and KKK’s.

My very educated guess is that while JLN (born January 15, 1964) started out in business dealings with the government fifteen years ago, she made it big when she learned and graduated to the level of PDAF.  This was during the GMA Administration between January 2001 and June 2010. She and her husband, Marine Major Jaime “Jimmy” Napoles, were charged in connection with a 1998 3.8 million peso Kevlar Helmet Procurement Contract divided among seven dummy corporations. Her husband was dropped from the case. Janet was acquitted in 2010.

By the time of the May 2010 National Elections, JLN had accumulated huge sums of money from the multi billion peso Ghost Deliveries of fake Projects of JLN NGO’s. My Guess is that JLN gave the Noy – Mar/LP Campaign a big campaign contribution in the hundreds of millions of pesos. And that is why JLN’s Scam phased in effortlessly into the Aquino Administration of the “Matuwid na Daaan”.

The Expose of the JLM PDAF Scam was triggered by the serious illegal detention of Ben Hur Luy from Dec 19, 2012 to March 22, 2013 by JLN and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim.  On the behest of Ben Hur’s parents, the NBI rescued him from a JLN house that was being used as a retrest house. While in NBI protective custody, Ben Hur started to about JLN’s operations. Meanwhile, JLN continued to harass Ben Hur and use influence and wealth in her favor. JLN retained the MOST Law Office.

However, on July 12, 2013, the PDI came out with a series on the JLN PDAF Scam. In the meanwhile, Social Media had discovered and encountered the high living lifestyle of the Lim – Napoles Family. A month later, on Friday, August 16, Netizens almost spontaneously called for a Million People March and Rally at the Luneta for Monday, August 26, a holiday.

Meanwhile, the NBI – DOJ – Ombudsman investigation and prosecution as well as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s Hearings focused on the three opposition Senators, namely Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla to the neglect of other Legislators, Executive Officials and NGOs.

Meanwhile, the serious illegal detention case filed by Ben Hur Luy against JLN and Reynald “Jojo” Lim matured under media and public watch from NBI Investigation to DOJ Prosecution and finally the issuance of warrants of Arrest by the Makati RTC versus Jeny and Jojo. This was followed by the posting of a reward for information leading to Janet’s arrest.

After hiding for several weeks, Janet surrendered to President Aquino and DILG Sec Mar Roxas in Malacanang after a nightime “Hide and Seek” with Presidential Spokesman Lacierda. Then, Noy and Mar escorted JLN to Camp Crame. The purpose of the whole charade was to secure JLN’s cooperation in the one sided Investigation and Prosecution of the three Opposition Senators.

Meanwhile there was the promise of comfort and leniency for the VIP Accused Criminal and Detention Prisoner. However, six months passed with no hospital arrest as promised. That is why the Lists started to threaten to come out.

Tremors In The Economy

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By Al Labita

 

  • Foreign funds are dumping local stocks and shifting them to other emerging markets abroad
  • Unabated capital flight raises questions about the BSP’s role as the state’s financial watchdog
  • Fleeing capital signals loss of investors’ trust in government and economy
  • Foreign credit rating agencies stall investment upgrade due to perceptions of corruption plaguing the Aquino government

 

Monetary authorities may not admit it, but unmistakable signs point to what could be financial tremors shaking the country’s economy.

At the stock market, share prices are plummeting, dragging down prices of listed companies — and profits of investors.

Now trading at precariously below 7,000 points, the Phisix – the stock market’s barometer – has come under siege as more foreign funds dump local counters and shift them to other emerging markets abroad.

Also referred to as “hot money,” the funds come and go anytime as investors deem fit. Usually interest-bearing, they are parked in stocks, government securities and money market.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed that in this year’s first quarter alone, investors pulled out a whopping US$2.1 billion from the market, sending stock prices tumbling to new lows.

The seemingly unabated capital flight only showed how foreign traders had exploited to the hilt the

BSP’s foreign exchange liberalization policy at the expense of a sagging economy.

Loss Of Trust

Amid surging constraints hounding the financial market, the BSP may have to reassess its policy and attune it to the imperatives of the times.

Interestingly, the outflow of foreign currencies surpassed their inflow in the first quarter as portfolio investors offloaded peso-denominated assets.

At any given trading day, foreign funds account for over 60 percent of market liquidity, thus their adverse impact on stock prices when withdrawn.

The withdrawal, an alarming indication of loss of confidence in the economy, meant that the Philippines has lost its luster as an investment haven.

It came on the heels of reports that foreign credit rating agencies – Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor  — had become discriminating in backing sovereign debt issues, including those of the Philippines.

But in the past and in exchange for the Aquino government’s three billion pesos service fee, they would readily upgrade the nation’s credit standing.

Investment Grade

A favorable rating affords the debt issuer low interest rates and other concessions from creditors.

Previously, the Philippines was kept two notches below investment grade, despite reforms

in the economy. This prompted the BSP to call the attention of the rating agencies to discrepancies between methodologies used by the agencies and the actual grades the country got.

Last year, the Philippines earned an investment grade, an indication of the government’s capability to pay its loans.

This was because the Philippine economy grew by 7.2 percent—the second fastest in Asia next to China. It was also better than 2012’s 6.8 percent growth rate.

Though behind the curve in upgrading the Philippines, Moody’s is the only rating firm that has a “positive outlook” for the country. This implies possible upgrade in the next 12 to 18 months.

Credit Outlook

Fitch and Standard & Poor’s currently have “stable” outlooks for the Philippines, indicating that their ratings would stay the same for the next year and a half.

Other upsides going for the Philippines are a sound banking system and a balance of payments surplus, leading to a continuous decline in the debt to GDP ratio — from 68.5 percent in 2005 to 49.2 percent in 2013.

For BSP, it feels confident that the three credit watchers would once again extend a favorable rating of the country’s planned slew of IOUs this year to plug any budgetary deficit, given a track record of 60 consecutive quarters of positive growth.

This time, however, it’s a different story as the three credit watchdogs are overly cautious in stamping their seal of good housekeeping on sovereign debt issues, including those issued by the Aquino government.

One underlying reason is the perception of corruption weighing down on the Aquino government in the wake of the pork barrel scandal.

Another is the deteriorating finances – the national government incurred a fiscal gap of P84.1 billion from January to March this year.

The deficit, despite the government’s belt-tightening policy, was 27 percent more than the P66.5 billion in the same three months of last year.

A Department of Finance report blamed the deficit on expenditures which climbed 12 percent year-on-year, faster than the nine percent increase in revenues.

The multi-billion pesos rehab of typhoon-devastated Eastern Visayas proved costly.

Deficit

The government incurred nearly half of the first-quarter deficit in March when the fiscal gap reached P40.2 billion, 14 percent more than the P35.1 billion a year ago.

Spending and revenue grew at the same pace last month, but the government raised only P129.3 billion whereas expenditures were higher at P169.5 billion, thus the deficit in March.

Also in the red is the country’s balance of payments position (BOP) which, as of last February, showed a gaping deficit of US$4.14 billion, a far cry from the US $1.08 billion surplus booked in the same period last year.

Contrary to expectations, two revenue-raising agencies – bureaus of customs and internal revenue – had miserably failed to improve their  collections due to unabated smuggling and tax evasion, in cahoots with corrupt officials.

The Poor

Government data showed the country’s budget shortfall in the first two months of the year rose 40 percent to P43.9 billion as the government increased spending for the highly politicized reconstruction efforts in disaster-stricken Visayas region.

Another gray area of the economy is that investment pledges approved by the Board of Investments slumped by 52 percent to P47 billion in this year’s first quarter, year-on-year.

Amid signs that the days of cheap money are over, market talk is that not too soon, banks will likely raise lending rates, currently ranging from 16 to 22 percent per annum. Expected to get hurt are small businesses.

The move, largely viewed as anti-poor and pro-rich, forms part of BSP’s policy tools requiring banks to tighten their lending windows to stave off any inflation rate uptick.

What also alarmed foreign credit watchers is the banking sector’s runaway loans to real estate companies amid fears of a property bubble.