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BI Reforms-A Boost to Tourism

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Congress can pass a meaningful immigration reform bill – a legislation that promises not only to improve national security, but could also boost our economy due to its positive impact on local communities that rely on travel.

Since early 2010, the travel industry has been a significant source of employment growth for the economy by adding almost a half-million jobs. Moreover, the increase in travel industry jobs has outpaced the rest of the economy. Congress can help improve on this progress by passing an immigration bill with provisions that make our borders more secure, while also encouraging more international travelers to visit our country to enjoy our cities and scenic wonders and conduct business with Philippine companies.

One reform policymakers should consider is the addition of more immigration officers to facilitate travelers upon arrival to our country and speed them on their way safely and securely. In other words, immigration reforms can increase travel to the Philippines at the same time enhance our security.

In the discharge of its broad functions, the Bureau of Immigration through its Board of Commissioners, exercises administrative and quasi-judicial powers over the regulation of the entry (arrival), stay (sojourn), and exit (departure) of foreign nationals in the country; and monitoring of the entry and exit of Filipino citizens in compliance with Philippine laws and other legal procedures.

In view of BI’s function to monitor the entry and exit of Filipino citizens, the new Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration Siegfred Mison emphasizes that although the right to travel is enshrined in the Constitution and enjoyed by every Filipino, those who want to travel abroad should have their documents in order, particularly their passport and other documents issued by a foreign country such as a tourist or working visa (where applicable), before they are allowed to leave.

Tourists must prove their financial capability for the trip, present proof of work or support in the Philippines, or submit an affidavit of support if they are visiting relatives overseas, to prevent being offloaded from flights. Also, those who do not have the financial capacity to travel or who are accompanied by a foreigner will automatically by subjected to secondary inspection.

The Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT) created the necessary measures to protect Filipinos from becoming victims of human trafficking. The “Guidelines on Departure Formalities for Internationally Bound Passengers,” in accordance with Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which was subsequently approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is one such measure. It took effect last January 2012.

Mison pointed out that offloading “is not a policy but a consequence of the implementation of the guidelines.”

The Immigration’s “strict” memorandum is aimed to curb the exodus of undocumented OFWs abroad as well as protect victims of human trafficking. Mison said immigration has the mandate to “offload” – meaning disallow a traveler to board a plane – but it is not the government’s policy. The BI said offloading, or barring passengers from leaving the country, is not an official government policy but a consequence of the implementation of the guidelines.

The Constitution guarantees the right to travel of every citizen, however, it may only be impaired for the interest of national security, public safety or public health, as may be provided by law, the bureau said.

 

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) again clarified that showing proof of financial capacity is not a requirement for Filipinos who want to travel abroad. Those who have complete travel documents, such as a valid passport and tourist or working visas, are allowed to leave the country.

He also said the bureau is more stringent in screening those who fit certain “tourist worker profiles”:

  • First time travelers who are going to destinations that are not popular among tourists
  • Tourists with no steady source of income in the Philippines and no benefactors in their country of destination

Mison said the implementation of the guidelines contributed to a decline in the incidents of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Under the guidelines, the bureau will automatically subject the following to secondary inspection:

  • Travelers without financial capacity to travel escorted/accompanied by a foreigner who is not related to them
  • Minor traveling alone or unaccompanied by either parent or legal guardian without the required travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
  • Previously repatriated irregular workers, in which case, travel may not be allowed without the clearance from the IACAT
  • Partners and spouses of foreign nationals intending to depart to meet and/or marry his/her fiancé without the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate
  • Passengers traveling to countries with existing deployment bans, alert levels, and travel advisories and those in possession of a visa to the said countries
  • Passengers who stayed abroad for more than one year during a previous departure from the country as a tourist/temporary visitor, intending to depart for the second and/or subsequent time

Section 6, Article III, of the 1987 Constitution guarantees Filipinos’ right to travel, but it is not absolute. The Constitution states this right may be curtailed for the interest of national security, public safety, or public health.

In a related story, nearly 4.7 million foreigners visited the Philippines in 2013. The Department of Tourism (DOT) said foreign visitor arrivals jumped 9.56% to 4.68 million in 2013.

South Korea remained the biggest source of tourists, rising 13% to 1.16 million in 2013. South Koreans accounted for 25% of the country’s visitor arrivals last year.

The number of tourists from the United States, which make up 15% of the total tourist arrivals, reached 652,626 in 2013, a 3.3% increase from the previous year.

Japan was the Philippines’ third biggest source market with 412,474 arrivals in 2013, followed closely by China with 426,352 arrivals. The number of Chinese tourists surged 69% in 2013, despite tension between the Philippine and Chinese governments over disputed islands.

The DOT expects more foreign visitors to the Philippines this year. The immigration reform bill can provide the tools to make travel to the Philippines easier. Given travel’s increasingly important role as a driver of economic growth, making international travel to the Philippines easier and more secure will pay big dividends in terms of stronger growth and more jobs. By the exercise of its administrative and quasi-judicial powers over the regulation of the entry (arrival), stay (sojourn), and exit (departure) of foreign nationals in the country, the Bureau of Immigration can help immensely our tourist trade.

 

Franchising in the Philippines : A Guide For Filipino Retirees

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Most Filipinos who work abroad as employees put all their time and effort to eight to five type of jobs for many years even for decades we might say, so that they could earn better to support their families and raise the capital they need for that dream business!  They remain patient until the time they could finally rejoin their families in their homeland where they could retire and begin the next phase of their lives as even more productive citizens, seniors as they would be called, but not as employees anymore and not only as dependent members of the family, but as business-minded individuals who could contribute to the overall development of the country’s economy with their businesses that could employ a good number of fellow Filipinos.In these days, Filipinos are becoming even more learned about the significance of being business-minded.  The opportunity for employment runs out at the age of 60-65, so the other option for retirees who envision active lives which is definitely more lucrative is to have their own businesses.  However, the problem is that even though they have the funds to start-up businesses according to their interests, they seem to be hesitant about pursuing it, because of the challenges they might face in shaping their products and services, creating a business name, developing training, operation and production systems,  and everything else under the word branding.  It all appears to be overwhelming, because of the required attention on the details of doing business. Nevertheless, in franchising, problems that could possibly arise when doing business could be easier solved for senior citizens wanting to do business.  Moreover, with the inevitable decrease in capability to deliver laborious and time consuming tasks in conducting one’s own business, the idea of franchising all seems to be very convenient, entirely beneficial and promising, because of its ready made plans, templates, and support system.  Moreover, a franchised business is already popular, so if you are able to find the best location for it, you can expect that customers will come to you. If you are an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and dreaming of having your dream business in the Philippines after many years of work, I would suggest that you invest your hard earned money through franchising if you would want to be saved from most of the hassles of creating your own unique business.

There is the Association for Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) which you may go to and ask for the latest activities and resources pertaining to franchising.  The said association encourages Filipino business enthusiasts to patronize local franchises.  According to Armando O. Bartolome who is the president of AFFI, ‘franchising is a booming business’.  To give you a better idea, Bartolome  mentioned about a previous record that stated the income from this industry which amounted to Php54 billion in 2012.  In addition, he also said that, ‘Philippines reportedly ranked third among countries that investors are looking at to source potential franchises’.  This year, prominent local franchisees are expanding their market reach in other countries.  It only means that franchising really is tested to be viable and more importantly, profitable. The success of the franchising industry in the Philippines could be attributed to the fact that our country’s very own franchisees and other international franchisees are incredibly packaged for the newbie entrepreneurs.Depending on your financial capability and interest, there are numerous options to choose from ranging from various industries namely food and beverage (which is very much sought after), travel, convenience stores, pharmaceutical, clothing etc.Food carts cost approximately thirty thousand pesos (Php30, 0000) to even double of this amount.  This is very cheap already considering what you would get which are basically what you would initially need when putting it up.  You would not have to worry about what to use as  equipment and materials, how to train your staff, produce products and where to get your supplies.

You only have to take care of all your operational costs which include rental fees, salaries to employees, electricity and water bill.  If you opt for something which is of bigger investment, you can expect to need some Php1.2 million for Mang Inasal, Php30 million pesos for Jollibee, Php35 million for McDonalds, Php5 million to Php8 million for Figaro and Php5 million for Mocha Blends (full store).Considering franchising as your gateway to business is undoubtedly a practical way to succeed in the industry and not put your hard earned money to waste.  To retirees, capitalization is at hand, because they could utilize their retirement funds.  Aside from wanting to spend it to finance the kind of lifestyles they want when they retire, retirees could use it as investment capital.  After all, return of investment and profitability from franchising is realizable.

DTI- DOE Bagwis Program Orientation in General Santos City

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General Santos City. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) conducted an orientation on the DTI- DOE Bagwis Program for LPG Dealers. This was held on March 3, 2014 at the Phela Grande Hotel, Magsaysay Avenue, General Santos City.About forty (40) participants from Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) dealers, retailers and members from the General Santos Consumer Welfare Council, Inc. attended the orientation.Engr. Arnel V. Sayco DTI-GenSan Officer-in-Charge, explained the significance of the program wherein deserving LPG dealers stand to be awarded with either a Gold or Silver Bagwis Seal of Excellence.Ms. Mary Ann Morales, DTI Division Chief, elaborated on the rationale of the program as giving recognition to LPG dealers that are compliant to all LPG-related trade laws implemented by both the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Energy. A Senior Science Research Specialist of the Department of Energy- Mindanao Field Office, Ms. Nenita Uy, discussed the Department Circular No. DC 2014-01-0001 “Providing for the Rules and Regulations Governing the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Industry.”In her closing remarks, Ms. Asuncion Rodriquez, President of General Santos City Consumer Welfare Council, Inc. expressed hope that with the DTI-DOE Bagwis Program, LPG dealers may be more responsible and provide safe and quality products and services to consumers.

Core Values

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Last March 16, at Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City, 222 Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets received their graduation diplomas in a somber atmosphere heightened by the academy’s Code of Honor, engendered by separate speeches by Commander-in-Chief Benigno S. Aquino lll, PMA Superintendent Maj. Gen. Oscar Lopez, and newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Jheorge Llona, the class valedictorian. All three spoke about the glowingly sterling asset the academy holds dearest to its heart: The PMA Code of Honor.Although in the three speeches his name was not mentioned, it was clear that the embattled PMA Cadet 1st Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia had failed in his bid for the President’s grant of a “second chance”, after he had been dismissed from the service for lying when he tried to explain why he entered a class late by two minutes. He would have been the 223rd cadet to graduate.

PMA, a Public School

It would later be reported that Aldrin was tentatively allowed to pursue his OJT (which had been aborted by the investigation) in order to qualify for next year’s graduation, pending a review of his case by the AFP Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Baltazar, as ordered by Pres. Noynoy.However, should all “become well and end well” with Aldrin graduating next year, the citizens’ anxieties over the PMA’s worthiness as the country’s prime military training institution would still linger unabated, without a review of the Code of Honor, and of all the curricula and administrative matters that are subject to the powers of the State or, in the ultimate sense: to the authority of the sovereign people of the Republic.It was absolutely wrong for the academy’s authorities and their trainees to pronounce that the Cudia case was an internal matter over which Pres. Noynoy had the last say. The PMA is a chartered institution, meaning: Filipino taxpayers, being its stakeholders, may advance their interests before the proverbial court of last resort in a textbook move, short of resorting to any of a number of drastic sovereign options.

Fight For Justice

As Aldrin’s fate hangs in the balance, social media and the public, those whom PMA authorities and their cadets ignored when they sympathized with the entreaties of Aldrin’s sister, can only disconcertedly speculate: what if a dejected Aldrin had joined rebel forces up in the hills to fight for justice, not for himself, but for the citizenry for whose sake he had precisely enrolled in the PMA, the institution that now appears in his tortured mind to have lost its raison d’ être, or reason for being the people’s sentinel!? His life might have been ruined, indeed, and this might well be his way of rebuilding it.To be sure, Aldrin, born of poor parents who had themselves served the military in their prime, had chosen to pursue the family tradition of serving his country with a commitment to safeguard its interests, including defending it against aggression with his own life. And now he’s told that he has been tentatively expelled for having breached the Code of Honor with a lie, and that any lie of whatever size, “big or small”, would suffice to cause dismissal. Huh? It is bothersome that the PMA does not teach the principle of punishment’s “commensurate-ness” to the offense; a postulate practiced in all religions and legal systems the world over.Appropriately, Aldrin has gone the course of “exhausting administrative remedies”, an avenue where some theorists see Pres. Noynoy as having the final say. But I differ. It is the Supreme Court that will decide with finality if Aldrin’s human rights have been violated in the premises, guided as it essentially is by the interests of the sovereign Filipino people.

The Foible of Narcissism

I was once an ROTC cadet officer of the Model Battalion. DMST was grooming me for Corps Commander, but after the basic two years, I stopped. Reason: I wasn’t really serious in becoming a soldier. I joined the Model Battalion because, with highly specialized training, I would also look smart in a gala uniform, an elitist cut above the field of ornery mortals. That was how most of my fellow Model Battalion cadets likewise narcissistically felt. That is how most PMA-ers likewise narcissistically feel, hence, the urgent need for a re-orientation on PMA’s core values.Transcending the Cudia case is the bigger picture necessitating the academy’s re-examination of its vision and mission, and a determination of how well life has been breathed into them. But this task would be an exercise in futility if there were no clear understanding of the academy’s core values among its authorities and cadets.At this point, the core value of leadership comes to the fore as a timely reminder that: he who leads must be last, and he cannot lead who cannot follow. Valor also comes to mind, as exemplified by the bolo-wielding and barefooted Andres Bonifacio who wore no gala uniform.

Cayetano for President?

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By ElCid Benedicto

It’s the presidency or nothing, as far as Senator Alan Peter Cayetano is concerned.The Senate majority leader, more than two weeks ago, confirmed what has long been widely speculated as presidential ambition in a television interview, yet he still played coy, as to whether he’s out to challenge Vice President Jejomar Binay in the race to the Palace seat in 2016.“I want to be president of this country someday. I think I can do something great for God and our people. But is 2016 my time or is it 2022, 2028 or never?” Cayetano was quoted as saying when asked to state categorically whether he has presidential ambitions.Despite his and his camp’s attempts to apparently rouse the public attention on his eventual “candidacy”, the senator’s moves appear to be only backfiring on them.Cayetano himself announced that his party, the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the administration’s Liberal Party (LP) “may join forces for the 2016 presidential elections.”But party stalwarts of both LP and NP immediately doused cold waters on the idea being floated by Cayetano.His presidential ambitions was criticized by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in his privilege speech last March 12, alluding to Cayetano as someone who have been using the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on pork barrel scandal in advancing his political agenda.This sparked heated exchanges on the floor between the two senators. Not a few have claimed that Cayetano’s all poised and bracing up for his race to the presidency this early, and has in fact already set up a “war room” in a building in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig where his wife, Lani, is the mayor.He has in fact practically admitted that political ads are already in the can and will be released in the coming weeks, apparently in hope of creating a buzz and get a feel of the public’s awareness on him. Based on information that had reached some of his colleagues, Cayetano allegedly is already staying in the same building that occupies his “war room” and is keeping tight watch on his position in the surveys that currently still being dominated by Binay and Roxas.The senator who claimed that his “strong stand against corruption has always been  the highlight of my long career in government service”, once had former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo as his campaign benefactor, when he was running for a congressional seat and elder sibling Pia was still seeking a seat in the Senate, reports said.Shortly after the siblings became critics of the Arroyo administration, the former presidential husband was prompted to reveal in an interview that during the 2004 campaign, the Cayetanos asked for additional campaign funds from him.An article that came out in the online news organization Rappler detailed how “money seems to continue hounding the Cayetanos in the Senate.”

Smuggling as a Supply Game

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By VL Domingo

(Conclusion)

BEFORE transplanting, the farmer must have to buy at least 10 bags of mix-grade fertilizers for basal application to have a good crop. Because he has very little capital which he also borrowed from the usurer he buys only 1/3 of the plant requirement.

Furthermore, the price of fertilizer as an input initially went up by 136% (and it continues to increase), since only a few Chinese traders are  importing it, thus again limiting the supply of fertilizers which provides the plant energy for productivity.

This is specially so when planting during the dry season.  During the rainy season, somehow the farmers get free nitrogen from the air every time there is a thunderstorm that initiates nitrification. Meanwhile, his soil has gotten acidic after more than 50 years of chemical farming which was first introduced in the l960’s by ESSO (Standard Oil).

Not a few government employees lost their lives and jobs in the fertilizer subsidy scam for lack of supply.

A Regional Director in Lasam and a DA employee who knew too much about the scam were murdered.  The DA employee with his wife, and his only daughter who just graduated from college and a niece working with him as his assistant in their house in Bulacan were murdered in the middle of the night, wiping out the whole family.

Harvesting Headaches

When palay is harvested haphazardly, you again lose 15-20% of what you should harvest from your backbreaking efforts in farming. This is after the farmers spend a lot of money on chemicals to protect their fields from pests and diseases.

Again they need to contract at least 20 harvesters. The practice then is they get 10% of your harvest. This is after shaking off easily 5% of the rice particles to the ground and stepping on them.  They could save this if they could only hire harvesting machines. But there is none.

Worse, even the harvesters like the transplanters are gone.

In the barangays, there are two kinds of farm workers. There are those who want to harvest only while the others want to transplant only.

The practice of harvest sharing is gone; hence you could no longer be assured of harvesters on time. You have to wait for harvesters from the other barangay that may still have some harvesters. Meanwhile, the field rats are slowly harvesting your palay if you did not put a rat trap before harvest.  There is then a need to rent a combined harvester.

But for the moment only a few towns have it because it is very expensive.  It is too costly for an investor. Only a federation or a cooperative could afford to buy it and  rent it out to its members if they could raise the funds which is usually not available from banks and the government is not also investing on it.

Availability of Warehouses

Again the supply chain of the grains industry is broken by the lack of investments in warehouses. Only traders are investing and making windfall profits at the expense of the farmer-producers. This is where the trader starts making his profits. This is where the cartels come in.

Only a few own rice warehouses in Metro Manila and they connive to dictate the price in the market.

Recently, they even hired persons and provided them money to queue for rice just to dramatize that there is no rice supply anymore from the NFA warehouses. The NFA then had to release their buffer stocks which some unscrupulous NFA employees usually keep and allow it to rot and sell to traders for a clean profit and recorded as losses in the books of the agency.

Farmer cooperatives have been given funds to build their own warehouses, but their trading funds were mismanaged leaving them bankrupt. So in effect there is no supply of warehouse space even as they stood in the middle of the fields like “white elephants” in the middle of brown and barren rice land for lack of irrigation.

This happens because of subsistence farming as the norm that now needs to be transformed  into commercial farming with highly professionalized farmers federation to do the business of planting and trading palay and rice to supply the needs of the country and be truly self sufficient (not by statistical manipulations) .

Supply of Post-Harvest Facilities

Easily, 5-10% is lost in rice milling using dilapidated rice mills that are very inefficient. Part of the rice supply to the consumers is being given to feed mills for livestock instead of human consumption.

Drying in the highways shows the Jurassic way of drying palay which leads again to additional losses that could easily compensate for the 10% shortage that is reported every year.

Drying  and Milling are not integrated because of the absence of investors. The government could easily invest on this through farmer federations but is not being done. If the government shifts its policy to invest instead of subsidizing, it will be easier for them to  monitor the funds instead of using government money in anomalous subsidies and programs.

The millions of funds allocated by DA Regional offices for training monitoring, evaluation and support services can be realigned with the Government Social Investment Funds (GSIF) to finance the construction of post-harvest facilities, provide trading funds for the importation of inputs and buying palay from their members with incentives and selling to the government those that they could not sell for Quedan, stockpiling and buffer stocking.

GSIF is what is needed in completing the infrastructure in commercial rice production instead of just the farm to market road which others call as “road to my farm” among Congressmen and Senators.

Politics of Rice

The absence of rice supply in the market will topple down a President or he will lose his bid for re-election. This is the politics of rice. Thus a sitting President  (with or without him knowing it actually puts a  tacit approval  to his/her henchmen to DALPO (Do All Possible) and allow even smugglers to bring in rice just to make sure that there is no shortage.  Most often also this will be tolerated by his henchmen to keep them in power and in their high positions in government.

Thus, the previous President tolerated this sad reality through her  Secretaries of Agriculture. The standing order then was to produce or tolerate smuggled rice (to insure supply in the hands of the retailers). Along the way, sometimes things go wrong in this “modus operandi”.

One popular businessman lost his life when he told the President about a smuggled rice and the President without knowing the implication since it is a complex reality in food security, had the goods confiscated.   The businessman was then shot (as a double crosser) in his house probably even in front of his wife by telling on the smugglers.

The “Hunger Game” which starts with  government lies that there is sufficient supply, has now  graduated into a “Supply Game” which the government has failed to address by subsidizing creating anomalous transactions has now graduated into a “Killing Game”.

Paradigm Shift

Like history, these anomalies in the P300 billion grains industry will keep on repeating itself from administration to administration until Kingdom  Come unless there is a paradigm shift in dealing with this killing issue.

The first is to listen to what the farmers say (through their credible leaders) as a solution to this recurring problem of rice supply which starts from lack of palay supply, lack of seeds, lack of water, lack of inputs, lack of farm credit, which continues because of inefficient transplanting, harvesting, milling and warehousing thus making their unit costs higher than the world price which now results to unbridled smuggling of rice in all ports of the country.

The second is for the government to invest (not subsidize) in the commercial ventures of farmer federations and similar associations to now operate their own agribusiness.

The third is to allow the price of palay and rice to seek its own levels. When the farmers earn more because of free enterprise (not with government control) but with government investments, the farmers will produce more and better quality palay because they will now have regular incomes from the commercial venture in which they participated. They can then buy more manufacture goods and invigorate the manufacturing industry to be able to pay higher wages and can now afford to buy a more expensive rice directly sold to them by the farmers through cluster farming.

This will then enable the farmers to produce rice at lower unit cost, provide the supply needed by the traders and generate the local and national economy. With more incomes from palay farming then they don’t have to sell their seeds, keep some stocks for their use and will not become a consumer of rice themselves as claimed by many technocrats who are not even “walking the fields” just to justify their claim of certifying importation.

 

Legarda Calls for Enforcement of LGUs’ Land Use Plans

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Senator Loren Legarda called on concerned government agencies to ensure that the comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs) of local government units (LGUs) are being enforced.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, issued the statement during the committee hearing for the proposed National Land Use Act (NaLUA) and the Final Forest Limits Act.

She said, it is not enough that 1,500 LGUs have their respective CLUPs. “We have to make sure that these approved CLUPs are carried out effectively, which means that hazard-prone areas, forestlands, and protected areas remain uninhabited and are preserved as no building zones.”

The Senator added that national government agencies, particularly the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), must ensure that CLUPs are faithfully implemented.

Legarda also highlighted the need to approve the proposed National Land Use Act because the government is currently using an antiquated land classification method formed in the 1920s.

“We have been experiencing stronger storms, earthquakes and other natural hazards. A national land use measure is crucial in the government’s current disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts,” she stressed.

“Furthermore, LGUs play a critical role in the crafting of risk-sensitive and participatory land use planning and management. LGUs are considered to be the first line of defense against disasters so there is an urgent need for them to be capacitated, enabling them to prepare, update and implement their respective CLUPs based on policy guidelines to be set under the proposed NaLUA,” she added.

Meanwhile, Legarda also said that through the Final Forest Limits Act, “we aim to conserve, protect, and develop our forest resources to attain ecological balance and promote sustainable development.”

“With demarcated and properly identified forestlands, the national government can better plan the utilization of the natural resources of the country, and LGUs would be better equipped to initiate and implement development projects and programs with due regard to the preservation and protection of the integrity of the demarcated forest lands,” Legarda concluded.***

Japan Commits PHP215 Million ODA Providing “Next-Generation Vehicle Package”

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Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario exchanged notes for the “Non-Project Grant Aid (Next-Generation Vehicle Package)” amounting to 500 million yen (approximately 215 million pesos) on March12, 2014.

The “Non-Project Grant Aid (Next-Generation Vehicle Package)” aims to contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution in the Philippines caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The products to be provided under this project will be decided in accordance with the Philippine Government’s requests. Specifically, the project is intended to provide eco-friendly products that will promote the development of the Philippines through making use of Japanese technology such as hybrid vehicle (HV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), electric vehicle (EV) and clean diesel vehicle (CD).

Projects under the Non-Project Grant Aid (NPGA) seek to assist developing countries in responding to different economic and social needs. The NPGA offers foreign currency funding for importation of goods such as industrial materials that will address a specific concern of a developing country. The objectives of these projects are in line with the concept of “Inclusive Growth” stated in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, as well as the concept of “Human Security” being advocated by the Japanese Government. Projects such as this serve as a continuing testimony of strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines.

BI’s Reforms Bearing Fruit

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The relentless efforts of the Bureau of Immigration to pursue its general functions have come to fruition.As the primary enforcement arm of the Department of Justice and the President of the Philippines in ensuring that all foreigners within its territorial jurisdiction comply with existing laws, and assisting local and international law enforcement agencies to secure the tranquility of the state against foreigners whose presence or stay may be deemed threats to national security, public safety, public morals and public health, it showed its fervent determination to fulfill its mandate for the administration and enforcement of immigration, citizenship laws and the admission of foreigners in the Philippines through its “Bad Guys Out, Good Guys In (BGOGGI)” Campaign.

Through this campaign, undesirable aliens, especially fugitives, terrorists, sex offenders and the like are inevitably excluded/denied entry in the country, while foreigners who have violated Philippine immigration laws or any other statutes face deportation proceedings. Commissioner Siegfred Mison said there will be no let-up in the BI’s campaign against human trafficking because the syndicates involved do not stop in “exploiting the vulnerabilities of our poor countrymen.”

Mison said they will continue to offload suspected victims of human trafficking so long as there are Filipinos who are subjected to involuntary servitude and abusive working conditions abroad.

Ten Russian nationals who were invited by Bureau of Immigration (BI) operatives last year in Cebu on suspicion of being undocumented aliens have voluntarily left the country recently.

“We have given them due process by deleting their names in the hold departure list after the resolution of the deportation case,” Bureau Commissioner Siegfred Mison explained. Mison added that “there is no evidence of fraud or being misled to sign their request for voluntary deportation so that the Bureau also refunded the cash bonds.”

In the spirit of diplomatic and friendly relations between the Philippines and Russia, the BI also granted the appeal of the Embassy of the Russian Federation who assured that the arrested Russians are “good citizens that will always carefully observe the Philippine laws and traditions.”

It can be recalled that the BI launched the alien mapping program early last year to keep track of the influx of foreigners in the country and check the status of their stay. The foreigners were apprehended by a BI task force while allegedly working at a travel agency in Lapu-Lapu City without the required visa on November 5 last year.

However, only six were seen working inside the travel company while the other four were reportedly guests of the latter. They reportedly violated the limitation and conditions of their stay as a temporary visitor.

Also, in line with Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison’s “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” policy in weeding out undesirable aliens, the Bureau has deported 44 unwanted aliens from the country.

Immigration violations committed by these deported aliens range from overstaying, undocumented, conviction of crimes, working without visa/permits, and fugitives from justice, etc. Out of these 44 deportees, 4 were fugitives from justice from their respective countries who were arrested by the Bureau by virtue of mission orders pursuant to Executive Order No. 287 (s-2000).

With the Bureau’s relentless campaign against undesirable aliens hiding in the country, Commissioner Mison gave a stern warning to these fugitives that they cannot forever hide from the long arm of the law of this country and soonest they will be deported.

Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison issued again yesterday a stern warning against foreigners caught trying to enter the country with spurious immigration stamps following the confinement of two foreign nationals at the airport recently. Mison said Ghana and Ethiopia nationals were denied entry to the country after immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport discovered that their visas and travelling documents are spurious and fake.

Dana Krizia Mengote, a member of the travel control and enforcement unit, denied admission to Sofia Zeinu Ali at the NAIA Terminal 2, who arrived via Philippine Airlines from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, claiming for a holiday in the Philippines. When asked of her purpose, she merely shook her head and she claimed she doesn’t understand English. Upon inspection of her travel documents, the immigration officers found it has numerous cuts, blurry and detected counterfeit “Schengen” visa.

“The Philippine border security should not be taken lightly”, said Mison adding that the Philippines will not serve as a transit hub for foreigners with counterfeit visa stamps.

Also, a Ghanaian national named Anderson Adua Abalem was intercepted at the airport’s arrival area upon disembarking from Philippine Airlines originating from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Abalem is on transit to Vancouver, Canada. Upon inspection, the passenger presented a Republic of Ghana passport with a V-1 multiple Canada sticker visa. However, Ma. Ruby Fontejon, supervisor of the travel control and enforcement unit, found out that the V-1 sticker was fake.

A representative at the Canada Border Services Agency and first secretary of the Canadian Embassy inspected Abalem’s travel documents and confirmed they were really counterfeit.

Both foreign nationals are recommended to be included in the bureau’s blacklist.

Armed with the fresher P601 million 2014 budget, the public can expect more reforms and new programs at the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison said this additional budget will allow them to vastly improve its services to foreign nationals and tourists particularly their priority measures and programs that will “change the bureau’s image.” He revealed that half of this year’s budget will be spent in reform measures among immigration personnel to prevent them from conspiring to commit corruption. It will also be spent in upgrading the agency’s services and continuous training for its personnel.

Mison said they will complete the automation of the bureau’s services to eliminate human intervention and the modernization of their information technology systems as well as their surveillance systems in all airports and seaports throughout the country.

Mison intimated that the bureau’s revenue for 2013 reached P2, 985,641,950,  BI’s highest since its creation in 1940. He credited the record collection of immigration tax and non-tax fees to improved and expedited services to foreigners at its main and satellite offices.

Tax collection totaled P72, 869,666; non-tax charges including services, fines and penalties amounted to P2, 853,188,665 and ACR I-Card fees reached P130, 107,777.

Mison, at the same time, noted that the bureau has received the highest percentage increase in appropriated funds for fiscal year 2014.

The BI, which is among ten Department of Justice (DOJ) attached agencies, has an approved budget of P650,677 million under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (Republic Act 10633).

Mison said the BI 2014 budget, which reflects a 14.48 percent or P356 million increase, from last year’s P568 billion, will be devoted to the upgrading BI’s border control system. The bureau is set to purchase P70 million worth of computer and equipment, including biometric machines, under its modernization and automation program.

It’s an Information War!

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Before a “hot war” is not a “cold war”, it’s the “information war” or “media war” waged between MSM (Mainstream Media) and Alternative Media. For example, media becomes a key factor in the success or failure of “regime change” efforts of the incorrigible subversive foreign powers pushing their hegemonic drive, using “Orange Revolution”, “People Power”, “right to Protect” media campaigns for “regime change” inflicted on Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Georgia, and many others. In the Philippines, the information war and its consequences shape the direction of the lives of one hundred million Filipinos – for better or (and usually) for worst. At least once a month this column will try to sum up the key information battles transpiring or shaping up. Let’s start with the local media war.

Sergio Osmena and his Poe-ppet

At the end of last week Sen. Sergio Osmeña III surprised the public by publicly describing BS Aquino, his ward in the 2010 presidential elections, as “Noynoying”, a “poor manager” and “matigas ang ulo”. It is well known that he is today carving out another protégé in the form of the “Poe-ppet”. This comes after the “Brenda” of the Senate declares from-out-of the blue that 2016 needs another woman president, a position which she thinks she is too old to hold (how humble, suddenly). There are a dozen reasons why it should be known by all now that a “poe-ppet” is being groomed to take over the current one tattered by the Meralco price hike, MRT Balsy-Eldon scam, etc. Just like how BS Aquino was groomed to replace the wayward doll Gloria Arroyo earlier.

The pathologically exploitative Filipino Ruling Class and its foreign partners desperately need a new Muppet Show star to delay the revolt of the restive audience going hungrier by the year. The Poe-ppet is perfect and its handlers are trying to imbue it with the attributes of having FPJ’s name but without FPJ’s real heart for the anti-globalization, traditional values such as loyalty and gratitude, genuine humility and compassion for people. The Poe-ppet is a cold, wooden figure; warmth it cannot exude. It must be remembered, the Poe-ppet was proclaimed by PCOS-melec on the basis of 20-million votes in a “final tally” of June 6, 2013 but in the PCOS-melec “final final” posting on July 11 this became 16-million votes for the “Ta-lo Poe” candidate.

Delfin Lee’s captor sacked!

Nothing captures that picture of pervasive and unchecked corruption the Yellows have set up in the country than the case of Delfin Lee and his P 7-Billion swindle of the People’s housing funds. This involves BS Aquino’s, and Gloria Arroyo of course because this also involved former Cong. Romero Quimbo and former VP and HUDCC chair Noli de Castro, administrations. Delfin Lee, the housing development scammer who eluded authorities for years was arrested last week by Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, but less than a week later Capa was relieved by way of a “promotion” he himself argues to be a demotion; before this BS Aquino sidekick Mar Roxas tried to turn the tables on VP Binay, who is also housing Czar, for reporting that “influential people” tried to have Lee released.

It turned out that Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party, called up BS Aquino’s police chief Purisima to “inquire” about Lee’s arrest. A controversy also erupted over an earlier erasure of Lee’s name from the PNP list of wanted criminals. There is no reason for a governor of a province far from the housing project of Lee, many of which are in Central Luzon, to be interested in billionaire Lee except for political funding. Clearly, Lee enjoys enormous power and protection from the Liberal Party of BS Aquino and Mar Roxas and their ilk. The media twist in all these is that attempt to turn the issue against Binay, and now expect a massive shift of MSM (Mainstream Media) to another issue to be created.

Cha-cha dancing Zombies

Who’s playing the Cha-cha tunes to which many are dancing to like Zombies? One of those playing the tune is the CorrectPhilippines which is one of the major groups leading from the hidden-behind of the March 15 rally at the Quirino Grandstand, along with groups like PSST (Patalsikin, Sipain, Salot sa Taumbayan), Fix the System Movement, et al whose human faces are not yet seen. But CorrectPhilippines is clear in its advocacy – Opening of the Economy for rape; it highlights Inquirer columns of Peter Wallace, the chief enforcer of the AmCham, ECCP (European) and others for further liberalization and privatization – and chief defender of Meralco’s December-January rate hike! These groups, like the Million Man March PR stunt, are really pervasive in the social media.

Cha-cha is a U.S. sponsored economic-geopolitical project which BS Aquino is obliged to obey. Aquino is playing coy against the bad cap Speaker Belmonte imposing the Cha-cha on Congress. When the right psychological moment comes the good cop will tilt in favor of the Cha-cha. To achieve this the MSM is burying the economic facts that nail the coffin on economic liberalization: the trillions of pesos of domestic capital available in BSP’s Special Deposit Account, the surplus in Foreign Exchange Reserves, the overflowing capital of banks just allowed to pump it into the real estate bubble. The answer to the economic crises, including unemployment, is restoring the cash flow to the people through nationalization of privatized giant public utilities like Meralco.

GDP: The hypnotic mantra

“PH to top SEAsia GDP 2014 growth at 7.5%” the February MSM headlines but in the same month the next headline followed, “Jobless rate climbs to 27.5 pct in Q4” or almost 13-million Filipinos jobless based on the employment survey of the SWS and in May this year the conservative BS Aquino government statistics admitted that “Philippine unemployment rate rises to 7.5 pct in Jan.”, based on the estimates by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The PSA figures also showed that underemployment remained high at 19.5 percent, working less than 40 hours a week, and higher than the 36.13 million recorded a year ago. The underemployment rate is double that of the unemployment rate.

Despite the unemployment figures and rising poverty the MSM continues brandishing the GDP growth figures as the magic words to mesmerize and entrance with the message that “everything is going fine”, and then push the Cha-cha for more of the same finance-capital monopolist “foreign investment” control of the economy that will primarily consists of real estate capture of Philippines land assets using U.S. dollars that will soon be worthless given its crashing status in the global financial system. The same worthless U.S. Dollars will take over Filipino companies making Filipino entrepreneurs mere peons in their own companies. The only measure of real economic growth is the HDI, Human Development Index, and that must be the standard.

More information war summaries next week, on Ukraine, Venezuela, and Philippines burning issues. (Tune to 1098AM, DWAD, Tues. To Fri. “Sulo ng Pilipino” program; watch GNN Sat. 8pm and Sun. 8am “Manila: Sunrise in the City”, Destiny Cable ch. 8 or SkyCable ch. 213, or www.gnntv-asia.com; log on to www.newkatipunero.blogspot.com)