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.

A Global Mining Ethics Code: Why It Matters

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by Erick A. Fabian

There is no international law governing mining projects, according to environmental ethics expert Shefa Siegel. The Philippine Society of Mining Engineers (PSEM) has a Code of Ethics, but a quick look at their website copy of the code reveals that it needs improvement in the environmental aspect.  At the moment, there are only individual ethical codes and behavioral standards, but these are mostly voluntary and no government strictly enforces them. Included in this long list of ethical codes are the International Cyanide Management Code, the Equator Principles, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Natural Resource Charter, and the United Nations’ “Ruggie Principles”. These are seen more as guidelines rather than authoritative.

On a recent visit to Japan, geologist and researcher Dr. Victor Maglambayan found out that there is a growing demand for “ethical jewelry.” He noticed that discussions about fair trade and related ethics in the jewelry business have been gaining ground in other countries. “In one of my early visits to Japan, I realized that the green trend has already taken hold even for gold, especially for gold produced by small-scale miners,” says Maglambayan in an interview with mainstream broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer some years back. The respected geologist also works as division manager for exploration at Philex Mining Exploration.

“The traditionally wealthier countries in the world have shown concern for problems associated with small-scale mining by preferring jewelry that is untainted by issues normally associated with small-scale miners like child labor, use of toxic substances and other environmentally hazardous practices,” he remarked. According to Maglambayan, this trend is not much different from the phenomenon of ‘blood diamonds’ in some African countries in the past. ‘Blood diamonds’ are those mined using slave labor, often done using kidnappings and other illegal methods. He mentions examples of jewelry companies that are exemplary when it comes to ethical business practices, such as Cartier and Fifi Bijoux in France, and Hasuna jewelry in Japan.

A sane mining code of ethics, Siegel believes, is one that would limit prolonged extraction once it reaches an unsustainable level in an area, instead of expanding as if the resource is unlimited. The enforcement of mining ethics will require interfering with existing mining policies. Such interference, says Siegel, was unheard of in the past decades but is very much necessary in the time of climate change and ecologically-sustainable business practices. Failure of enforcing an international mining ethics code will result to the stubborn persistence of extraction practices, which will prove to be fatal to communities around the world, not to mention the environment.

The country of Mongolia has the Sustainable Artisanal Mining (SAM) project, done in partnership with the Swiss government. It has produced a mercury-free gold processing plant in Bornuur province after its small-scale miners formed a cooperative. The advocacy for ethically-produced mining products is now being jump-started in Latin American countries as well. In Colombia, there is an organization of small-scale miners called Asociacion por la Mineria Responsable (ARM). ARM advocates for a ‘standard zero’,a process to certify gold, silver and platinum that conforms with the following ethical requirements: Gold and gemstones should be from socially and environmentally responsible mines. These should be fairly traded, ensuring that miners get a fair price for the goods, and the employees are paid more than the local minimum wage.

ARM emphasizes that no child and forced labor or exploitative practices will be used in the mining, refining or trading of gold and gemstones. Another remarkable thing about this movement is that the gold mines follow an eco-sustainability program, meaning no chemicals were used (for example, cyanide, mercury or arsenic). As a way to make up for the extraction, ARM members make sure that the topsoil dug off during mining is replaced.

It is uncertain if mining companies in the country are catching on the trend to promote “green jewelry” and fairly traded mineral. Research efforts in finding ways to produce and promote “ethical gold” to benefit small-scale miners are apparently not in place. The Philippines is still in the “fact-finding” stage, while foreign researchers are now in the “problem-solving” stage. Maglambayan mentions research work by Dr. Peter Appel of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, who documented the extent of mercury use in the small-scale mine sites in Zamboanga del Norte and Camarines Norte.

“Aside from helping clean up the process of small-scale miners, this may have economic benefits. Consider how much gold can be recovered from the mercury that can be recovered from the tailings. If it becomes successful, maybe large mining companies may show more interest in small-scale miners’ activities finally,”said Maglambayan. He believes that international agencies with interest in social development should see artisanal, or small-scale mining, as a way to help rural folk rise from poverty.

In the Philippines, the Environmental Management Bureau has estimated 300,000 small-scale miners in 2011. In Benguet alone, at least around 16,000 people work in small-scale mining industries. Maglambayan says small-scale mining “should be engaged constructively as the problems in this sector impact largely on mining companies.” “Small-scale mining is a reality in the Philippines because it is driven by poverty and the lack of opportunities,” he says.


Fred Ruiz Castro

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Justice Fred Ruiz Castro

By Ronald Roy

I am a lawyer, 78 years old, born to Jose J. Roy (+) and Consolacion Ruiz Domingo-Roy (+), and honored by this opportunity to recall and share anecdotes about a great legalist, the late Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Fred Ruiz Castro.Uncle Fred was a rather distant relative because his mother, Esperanza Ruiz-Castro, had a sister named Julia Ruiz-Domingo, who was my mother’s mother. I was thus related to him within – in the language of the Civil Code – the fifth civil degree by consanguinity.

However, the “distance” notwithstanding, there were those extraordinary traits of the Castros that easily endeared them to the Roys and, in general, to others in any public setting. They were good-looking, intelligent, charming, witty, articulate, and oh so amiably engaging with beautiful voices. I remember my aunties Anching and Luida, and uncles Fred, Jones, Belong, Angelo and Biens, and I do so with much admiration. Could anyone of them stand out at any social gathering? And how!

One evening, when I was a law school freshman invited to a Castro birthday celebration, I found myself in a huddle with two uncles and three ladies whom they were regaling in a discussion about Law. Uncle Angelo, a non-lawyer, was now poised to deliver a coup de grâce to Law.Unaware that his manong, the Hon. Court of Appeals Justice, Fred Ruiz Castro, had stealthily walked up to the group and was now standing directly behind him, Uncle Angelo continued, “…so, Law is no big deal! Unlike the more exact fields like Mathematics, Medicine and Accounting, Law is common sense, right and wrong lang yan, don’t kill, don’t steal and all those prohibitions we all know about. As a matter of… of…” and his voice trailed off as he felt a hand gently pressing down on his shoulder. Then came the familiar deep baritone from behind, and Uncle Angelo’s face suddenly turned ashen.

“Mr. Castro, you have just been caught en flagrante committing an unconscionable culpa aquilliana in the presence of a robed member of a superior court. An apology you must now make, lest you be declared to be in contempt of court.” Whereupon, Uncle Angelo turned around and replied, “I respectfully assert my right to counsel, your Honor.” (Laughter) Of course, they were both in the usual bantering mood.

Spotting me, Uncle Fred then said he was pleased to learn that his “Manong Pepe” (my father) had convinced me to take up Law. “I just agreed to please him, Uncle. My heart still embraces Architecture and Civil Engineering”, I replied. It didn’t take long for him to say these meaningful words: “You wont regret it, hijo. The Law defines you and the people you must interact with, your rights and duties, society and its institutions. It defines your country and the democracy in which it thrives, and your willingness to nurse it, and defend it, even with your own life. And it opens countless doors for self-fulfillment.”

Those words are the reason why I have not regretted becoming a lawyer. They are also the reason, I think, I am an activist pro bono columnist of the without-fear-or-favor variety.

After that evening, years passed with virtually no interaction transpiring between us. Then, some time in 1977-’78, I bumped into Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro at the lobby of the Manila Hotel, after he had addressed an association of judges and practitioners as their Guest Speaker.

His military bearing adding to the stateliness of his magistracy, he did me proud as people watched him move towards me. “Good afternoon, Mr. Chief Justice. That was an excellent speech”, I said as we shook hands. His gaze was more penetrating now, those eyes seemingly sparkling with the wisdom of the ages as he smiled at me, his left hand rested on my shoulder.”Don’t be stiff with me, Ronnie. As the Managing Partner of Jose J. Roy and Associates Law Offices, you must be doing quite well. Congratulations for a well-written Appellee’s Brief in that complicated fraud-stained negotiable instruments case involving a multinational company. Your citation of foreign jurisprudence substantially contributed to the logic of your theory of the case. I like your language, the language of jurists. Carry on, Mr. Counselor.”

With that characteristic congenial smile, he winked then hurried off for an appointment with his barber. That was the last time I saw Uncle Fred, wit, humorist, legal icon, chief justice, patriot.

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)


Fast Forward

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by Francis de Guzman

AMID the negative (manmade and natural disasters) and positive (high percentage rate for the economy as a whole) both footnotes left behind by 2013, the country enters the New Year with a glimpse of hope that 2014 would be a much better year for all.
No less than a recently conducted survey just before the year-end, revealed how much Filipinos (a large 94 percent) value life vis-à-vis great hope for a good future ahead. What touches the heart is that the very same survey showed: “hope remained high even among residents in the disaster areas.”

Per Philippine Star editorial on its New Year message, it emphasized the important part hope plays in the overall picture –“High hopes for a better year ahead are anchored partly on the belief that good governance will remain a high priority for the administration. There are daunting challenges ahead, many of them built up over several decades: high electricity costs and unreliable supply, an elusive peace in the south, and the need to create more decent jobs and make growth inclusive.”
We can only pray for God to grant all of us Filipinos a truly blessed, fruitful and joyful 2014!
On the hot issue of the sudden holiday increase of power rates that caught majority of Filipino consumer’s off-guard, perhaps it is best that retained Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, plays it fair and square for all Filipino users of electricity. Just during holiday period, Petilla was reported by major dailies to have “received flak for maintaining the planned P 4 per kilowatt hour increase by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) which is under top business honcho MV Pangilinan’s turf. No less than the Palace via Press Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., reiterated its clarion call that “the national government always bears in mind the welfare of the consuming public, and only wanted rates to be “reasonable and just.” That of course, could remain better said than done, if it (the Palace) could not or is not able to contain Petilla’s seemingly pro-Meralco stance, whereby progressive-minded lawmakers assailed him for, due to his said statement.

In this particular case, it is always the poor Filipino consumers that end up “victims’ of electrical power surges that more often than not, benefit the ones that hold the keys to such power. The Palace backing of Petilla’s stand vis the rate hike, can indeed lead to a great backfire. A flicker of light in this dark tunnel could be Sen. Sergio Osmena III statement that tries to draw hope “that Pres. Aquino would have Congress amend Presidential Decree 910, allowing the administration to tap about P 10 billion of the Malampaya Fund to subsidize the recent Meralco increases.”  This is something to watch out for folks.
RETAILER RE-OPENS DOORS 2014. Considered the country’s pioneer retail firm – Cherry Foodarama, re-opens at its original site in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City this 2014. Established in 1952, the retailer now has two other branches –Congressional Avenue, Quezon City and its largest site at the Marcos Highway, Antipolo City. The new Cherry Foodarama Building will provide Filipino consumers with its famous “low-low prices” for local and imported brands and food items. It also celebrates its 61st Year Anniversary on 14thFebruary 2014 by giving-away two (2) brand new 5-seater Toyota Avanza during its Grand Draw in Antipolo City, under the direct supervision of the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).
QUOTABLE QUOTES: “If we had more plants come in, the power supply situation would be more stable.” –Luis Miguel Aboitiz (President, Philippine Independent Power Producers Association (PIPPA), the ‘Group of 28’ power generation companies).
WORD OF LIFE: “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” – (Luke 17:3,4 The Holy Bible, King James Version)
(For feedback, email: francisdeguzman55@yahoo.com)

Inevitable War

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By Erick San Juan

There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others. – Niccolo Machiavelli

LIKE I used to say, if the program is on and the only thing the global elites can do is to postpone the inevitable global war and precisely to their advantage. And so what can countries (like the Philippines) do to seize the opportunity of getting what they deserve in engaging with alliances? As a sovereign nation, we have to gather our act together so that we will get what is due us and not to repeat the bad part of our history.

Just like a broken record player, I’ve been repeating that we must learn from our past experiences and we should not forget how we were screwed by the global elites in dragging us into a war not of our liking. In the process we were left behind after the war and it was Japan, the perceived enemy of America who received the all out support from the United States government.

Now that the Philippines is being programmed to be the epicenter of war in the South China Sea (SCS) and in the Pacific, US  State Secretary Kerry made a lip service recently that the US will give an all out  support to our country just in case of war. But remember the several times that we had a near confrontation with China, all we heard from Uncle Sam was that the US will remain neutral and will not interfere with the dispute between China and the Philippines and their only concern is the freedom of navigation in the SCS.

But when Japan had the same predicament with China in the disputed area in the East China Sea, plus the recent establishment of Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) by China, we witnessed how the US military showed support to Japan. The mere fact that the US government even reminded Beijing that there is a US-Japan security pact in place and that the contested islands are part of that treaty that the US will give support to Japan in case of an attack from China. It is very clear that after all that support we gave as a loyal ally to US, we never had the same treatment as what US has been giving to Japan.

This only shows that our government should make it clear and be firm as to the extent of our relationship with Washington, especially now that there is an ongoing talks about a new “access agreement” on the presence of US military in the country.
If the US is really serious not to make  us just cannon fodders, the US congress should pass a law (like what support they gave to Japan) that there will be an automatic retaliation and support from US in case of Chinese (or other countries) attack and aggression to our country.

In these exciting times, let us be very wary and always on the lookout when it comes to the country’s security and foreign policy, like what we have cited in our past two articles, the drums of war are getting louder and louder and the possibility of a regional conflict right here in our backyard is real. Any miscalculation and possible false flag operation can lead us to another destruction whether we like it or not. This is the reality! Our so called leaders allowed us to be the US military doormat in the region and like a huge magnet, we attract Uncle Sam’s enemies in the process.

The only hope that this country have with the present administration is to cast a fair deal with the US. If they want our country’s support in their pivot to Asia, they must put it in writing approved by their US Congress. That will be the moment that we can have a semblance of peace of mind especially if we will be armed like real warriors and not like toy soldiers. If not God forbid!
May our leaders conscience bother them. I believe in Karma!

Happy New Year?

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by Ronald Roy

SURPRISINGLY, the Filipino spirit has remained high after 2013 ended with record highs in crime, corrupt practices and natural calamities. Does this demonstrate that we are the most resilient people in the entire planet? Or does it portend a caveat from Mme. De Maintenon who said: “Hope says to us constantly, ‘Go on, go on’ and leads us to the grave”? Where has public outrage gone?!

Is it to our God-will-provide religiosity that this outstanding trait of Hope is ascribed, along with the oft-pontificated virtue of Forgiveness? Indeed, was it the spirit of Forgiveness, if not political posturing, that accounted for the recent visits to the ailing heinous-crime detainee Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by some high-profile clerical and political leaders?

Ang mga bumabagang balita, via the daily papers and radio-TV reportage, say it all and, by all indications, the ongoing upsurge of graft and criminality shall remain unabated. You cannot step out of your house without feeling you could get mugged, which is not to say that you feel fairly secure at home with nary a worry over a break-in or an “inside job” of sorts.

Yes, even your most trusted domestic helper is now suspect. Mainly because his pay is buying less, and he now has more to support in a growing family, period. And again, this is not to say that you are comfortable with the rigidities of the Kasambahay Law, the passage of which was most likely motivated by politicians’ ploy to curry favor with the vote-rich poor. You feel cheated, and rightly so.

Despotic QC Politicians

I live in New Manila, Quezon City and I share an utter outrage with my neighbors. New Manila might have been the “Forbes Park” of the 40s, 50s and 60s, but not anymore. It is not a “gated community”, and neither can it pretend to compare with any in those more affluent cities. Save perhaps for a sparse 15% handful in terms of social standing, the rest in New Manila are a mix of middle and lower middle-class families.

Even the richest amongst us are aghast at the “very injustice of it all” — a phrase often used in our coffee-shop tête-a-têtes. It’s even not a question of whether we’re rich or not, but whether we’re willing, symbolically speaking, to spend twenty pesos for one half-rotten medium-sized calamansi, or to be “taken for a ride”. What an outrageous rip-off!

The thing is: the city’s imposition of realty tax hikes was arbitrary. At its public hearings, the City Council ran roughshod over the hallowed guarantee of due process by totally ignoring the overwhelming well-argued opposition of residents. Three years ago, QC homeowners were imposed “social housing taxes” in order to help re-settle outsiders squatting on their lots. Today, the squatting families are still there, and the lot owners who cannot use their lots continue to bear increasing tax burdens thereon with no relief in sight. So, where has all the money gone?! Aha… there’s the rub! I don’t wish to give a cynical answer, except that—I have long considered QC officials to be corrupt. Until lately, they had their own pork barrel racket. Hmmm… maybe they still do. Anyway, “ghost employees”– two councilmen have pending cases which the courts are taking an eternity to terminate — “flying voters”, kickbacks and other anomalies are their bread and butter.

And to add to the residents’ discomforts, the service is bad. Cops are losing the war against robbers because the robbers are cops. Kickback schemes pave the way for roads and avenues being built so substandard that they undergo constant repairs. Prostitution and trafficking of prohibited drugs are on the rise. Ad nauseam! And the city continues to brag it’s the richest city in the country!!!
Oops, incidentally, there’s a new QC ordinance imposing on every homeowner a hefty garbage fee to fund the city’s—take a deep breath—reforestation program!! Huh?! Mayor Bautista, Hinde kami tanga!! Why could you not answer when asked to explain the program?! Hmmm…methinks what should take place soonest is an honest-to-goodness comprehensive audit of the financial records of the city government, as well those of QC Mayor Herbert Bautista, during all the long years he has been in office.

A New Year’s Bad Start

After the rambunctious celebration, we woke up to greet the dawn of a new year with resurgent hopes for good health, prosperity, peace, price rollbacks, diminished road rages and scams, and all that, but doggone it, we have had nothing but bad news since January 1!

Wreaking havoc is news that the newly constructed housing units for Supertyphoon Yolanda’s victims are overpriced, substandard and unlivable. Heartless and callous!! The role of rehab czar Ping Lacson here is merely coordinative, but we cannot discount his legendary savvy in the unique neutralization of felonious culprits in our jurisdiction. Go for it, Ping!

Explosive is a looming constitutional crisis between the Supreme Court and the Lower House which are headed on a collision course. With push coming to shove, the solons’ superior impeachment tool can however be blunted by the sovereign people and the Church coming together to support the Court, along with, if imperative, military backup.
(http://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy)

PING LACSON : Whipping Up a Storm in the PNoy Camp

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By ElCid Benedicto

THE “recruitment” of former Senator Panfilo Lacson into the Cabinet of President Benigno Aquino III in the middle of his term has raised not a few eyebrows, especially after he was given the daunting task of rebuilding from the rubble the typhoon-devastated provinces in the Visayas, carrying the credentials of, besides that of a two-term upper chamber member, a former decorated military and police general. His re-entry into government service is proving to be a controversial one as issue of alleged overpricing of bunkhouses as temporary shelter for typhoon Yolanda victims in Tacloban City, he was supposedly tipped off, is being debunked by Palace officials.

Third Faction?

Could the new rehabilitation czar be on his way of stirring a third faction in the already tension-filled Cabinet of Pres. Aquino?
On Tuesday, two of Aquino’s known strong allies in the Senate, appear to be on the side of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Sec. Rogelio Singson on the issue on alleged anomalies surrounding the construction of temporary shelters of Yolanda survivors in Tacloban City. Senate President Franklin Drilon even vouched for the credibility of Singson, who vowed to quit his post if the charges will be proven to be true.

“I know for a fact that Sec. Singson would not stand for any shenanigans. He has shown zero tolerance for corruption since day one in office. His integrity and competence is unassailable,” Sen. Drilon said in a statement where he also described the DPWH chief as the “most honest, efficient and decisive Public Works secretary” he has seen throughout the last few administrations.
Another administration ally, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, seemed to be inclined towards Singson than Lacson on the issue although he was quick in pointing out that he’s not in a position to assert whether there’s even a tinge of truth to the allegations that has reached Lacson.

Sen. Escudero and Sen. Drilon, incidentally, happen to be identified with the known “opposing” blocs in Malacañang.
The Senate president is highly-associated with the “Balay” group of Interior Sec. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II while Sen. Escudero is known to be associated with the “Samar” bloc of Executive Sec. Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr.

Endless Bickering

The rehabilitation czar neither within the inner circle of the said blocs, reported to be engaged in endless bickering and power struggle and has not been a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), only that he has been identified as “pro-administration” of Pres. Aquino while he was still in the Senate. Based on recent developments so far, the former senator neither have the backings of any of the two Palace blocs, based on the pronouncements of the two senators, his erstwhile colleagues in the Senate.
But given the track record of former Sen. Lacson as a lawmaker, he has established a reputation of not only a “crimebuster” but also that of being strongly against corrupt practices.

Access to Information

Probably unknown to many was the story about the former senator, who was still some few weeks into his office, firing two of his staff members immediately after learning that they were already entertaining some “under the table deals.”

He had, under his name, a string of exposes in the Senate of alleged irregularities of the Arroyo administration and these were coupled with documents to back up his claims. One thing that probably sets former Sen. Lacson apart from his former colleagues, was the fact that he continue to enjoy access over some classified information, probably owing to his deep connections with the intelligence community while he was still in the military and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

However, on the issue of alleged overpricing, some Singson supporters in the Senate have voiced misgivings on the allegations of overpricing saying that the usual 15% “mobilization expenses”, in which the 30% to 35% supposed commissions would come from, in such projects were managed to have been “waived” by the DPWH chief.

“If at all, the contractors might be cutting corners to earn about one or two (percent), but that’s not likely to happen under Singson. That’s why he’s confident in saying that it’s impossible that there’s overpricing in these projects,” sources explained.
But for former Sen. Lacson to go to the extent of having the issue investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) by the PNP, it’s likely that he’s holding on some information from reliable and trusted sources.

As to how this latest saga on corruption under the Aquino administration would end up later on, the public would have to wait and see, at least until the issue is taken up and investigated in the Senate.

New Probe 

Neophyte Sen. JV Ejercito already announced plans of filing a resolution to effect the probe when Congress resumes sessions beginning Jan. 20.

Sen. Escudero himself admitted that the matter of the Senate engaging in a new inquiry is inevitable once a member of the upper chamber introduces a resolution to effect the conduct of the proceedings or even ask his finance committee to exercise its oversight functions to ascertain any possible misuse of government funds.