Tonypet J. Rosales | Editor
IT APPEARS the most bloated government department—the Communications Group PNoy—simply can’t get the job done. To arrest the President’s sagging image, the administration is bringing more people into the fray, a move that could spark new hostilities between the Samar and Balay groups in Malacanang.
Since 2010, despite an awesome PR machinery, Malacanang never really got a hold of the public relations game. A series of missteps, snafus, blunders and miscommunications (beginning with the mishandling of the Luneta hostage incident involving a tour bus filled with Chinese nationals) have kept the President’s team of spokespersons and speechwriters busy fending off critics.
On Tuesday, a newspaper report by that the Palace is in “PR crisis mode”, hiring the services of a foreign pollster and political strategist to help reinvent the image of the President after the government’s net approval ratings plummeted to a record low.
The report said a crisis management team under Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. (Samar Group) and a political strategy team under Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas (Balay Group) has been activated to help refurbish PNoy’s image which has taken hit after hit since assuming the presidency in 2010.
A Palace source said Roxas is bringing back one Paul Bograd, the political strategist said to be responsible for Mar’s “Mr. Palengke” brand which made the DILG secretary No. 1 senator back in 2004. Bograd’s assignment: to fix PNoy’s image which suffered massively because of the Supreme Court’s adverse ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On the other hand, Ochoa has made changes in the Palace media group starting with the appointment of Presidential Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma as presidential spokesperson taking the place of Edwin Lacierda who is identified with Mar’s Balay group.
Ochoa is also said to have reactivated members of the Samar group involved in the 2010 campaign, including television director and PNoy cousin Maria Montelibano. Montelibano served as head of Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) during the time of President Cory Aquino and was also the designated point-person for media in Noynoy’s 2010 campaign.
While Bograd’s appointment can be considered a slap in the face of Secretary Coloma, observers believe that recent turn of events is symptomatic of a leadership breakdown in Malacanang. The administration is slowly falling apart and may eventually cost the ruling Liberal Party (LP) the 2016 presidential elections.
Seed of Discord
The conflict between the Samar and Balay group started shortly after Mar Roxas lost the vice presidency to Jojo Binay. Balay is the the group that met regularly at the residence of Roxas and its core is composed of the LP leadership together with the Black and White Movement and Ronald Llamas’ Akbayan. Samar Avenue in Quezon City is where Montelibano’s media bureau and Ochoa’s legal team held fort. PNoy sisters Pinky and Ballsy and Sonny Belmonte also regularly joined the Samar meetings.
The difference between the two groups emerged when Balay members started blaming Samar for the emergence of the winning NoyBi (Noynoy-Binay) tandem. In 2010, Mar’s presidential candidacy was floundering (he was usually ranked 4th in the ratings) and things looked up only after he gave way to Aquino and ran for vice president instead.
However, in the last weeks before the elections, Binay eventually caught up with Mar in the ratings.
From sure winner, Roxas became a pathetic loser. The two camps exchanged barbs blaming each other for Mar’s loss with Balay—despite the polls—claiming the Binay win as a fluke. The seed of discord had already planted as early as 2010.
The latest polls showing the President’s net satisfaction ratings at an all-time low, forced both the Samar and Balay groups to reactivate their crisis management teams. The Palace is in panic and by racing to save the President and effect a quick turnaround—Pnoy and company could find himself in even deeper trouble.
Mar’s panic is understandable because his chance of becoming the LP standard bearer and winning the presidency in 2016 is directly proportional to PNoy’s pop ratings. If PNoy crashes and burns, Roxas might as well kiss his presidential aspirations goodbye.
Palace insiders say Ochoa is concerned with the way the LP has handled the DAP issue. The August 23, 2013 speech of the President defending the DAP was reportedly the idea of Roxas who managed to convince PNoy to deliver the speech on primetime television despite Ochoa’s protests.
“Ochoa believes the (Senate President Franklin) Drilon and (Budget Secretary Butch Abad are dragging the President down with them,” the Palace source said.
Abad is the architect of the DAP which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Drilon—who failed on his promise to scrap the Senate pork—tried to make up for his failure with an attempt to salvage the impounded money by circumventing the TRO issued by the SC by having the funds declared as “savings” that the President can use in the event of a calamity. Drilon’s antics reportedly did not sit well with House Speaker Belmonte.
The situation has become a fight for the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s life that even the “First Bunso” Kris has been put to active PR service.
Kris’ strategy jumps off from PNoy’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) where the camera cuts away to the gallery and catches the “Queen of All Media” wiping off her tears as her PNoy mouths off the sacrifices of their parents Cory and Ninoy in his impassioned speech.
On August 1, on the occasion of Cory Aquino’s 5th death anniversary, Kris even hinted on the potential martyrdom of PNoy. “He [Noynoy] can’t do it on his own. We need to stand by him and give him strength. Please pray with us also that he stays alive,” Kris told guests after the Holy Mass at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.
Kris, of course, was alluding to PNoy’s mentioning in his SONA of certain “dark forces” that were supposedly out to get him. While much of what makes the Aquino dynasty great has something to do with death, the idea of President Aquino dying to achieve a PR bonanza is totally out of the question.
If PNoy dies, then Vice President Binay becomes President defeating the whole purpose of initiating an ambitious PR mode to save PNoy’s neck and the LP from a public hanging.
What remains clear is that the scenario in the Palace remains as chaotic as ever with the administration content in plugging loopholes and providing band-aid solutions to the country’s problems. Common sense dictates that it is never wise to have two captains run a PR ship.
Right now, PNoy and company appear secure and safe—just like the passengers of the Titanic.
“A bad beginning makes a bad ending” ~ Euripedes
Laoag City – The slow and tedious, not to mention expensive, processes of registering a business and compliance with tax requirements with the Bureau of Internal Revenue make Teresita* question her decision to open a sari-sari store to augment her husband’s, a tenant farmer, income. For the privilege of operating a sari-sari store, she has to issue official receipts and deal with the BIR every month, for percentage tax** among others.
“Issue an official receipt for every sale even if the buyer didn’t ask for it, but if the sale is below P25 and the buyer didn’t ask for one, then you don’t have to issue a receipt,” the BIR officer emphasized during the tax briefing at the Revenue District Office No. 1 in Laoag City. “If you don’t issue a receipt, you will be fined P10,000! If your customer asked for a receipt and you didn’t give him, that’s a fine of P20,000!” she warned.
“Everything is very confusing,” Teresita told her seatmate at the briefing. “To travel to the city every month to pay taxes, I will spend an additional P184 for public transportation expense,” she added.
Additional transportation expense is not the only additional costs Teresita has to think of is she wants to open a sari-sari store. Not only will she need to pay 3% of her monthly sales to BIR, but she also have to pay for the cost of printing official receipts. For a farmer and a housewife, just the additional P184 in monthly transportation expense is a lot.
Isn’t there an injustice in this tax requirement for sari-sari stores? Is it really fair to ask them to issue official receipts? Is it fair that sari-sari store owners, who are mostly marginal earners, be burdened with monthly tax compliance? Is it fair that people who barely earn enough to buy for their necessities are burdened with additional costs in exchange for the privilege of owning a sari-sari store?
When asked why this so much tax compliance burden for sari-sari stores, the same BIR officer said that the official receipts will help BIR determine if sari-sari stores are truly earning marginally. She added that it is not enough for sari-sari store owners to declare they are marginal earners, but they have to show BIR receipts that they only sold so much.
I understand the country, through the BIR, needs to increase its tax collections so it can improve basic services to the country, but ensuring that all sari-sari stores report their actual sales and requiring them to pay taxes on these sales every month too much of a burden? The combined annual sales of all sari-sari stores in the country couldn’t possibly equal the one year sales of PLDT which, as of 2013, was P 164.1 billions. So isn’t BIR efforts more aptly rewarded if it focuses its efforts in policing the country’s biggest corporations and ensuring that they pay the right taxes?
The cost of ensuring that every single sari-sari store comply with this rule and the additional benefit, increase in tax collections, are clearly not commensurate. Isn’t there a better, less onerous way for the government to collect taxes from sari-sari stores? With the combined brilliance of the people at BIR, I am sure they can think of something.
The tax rules governing tricycle and jeepney drivers and operators are an example of this brilliance. I don’t know how it is in the other parts of the country, but in the boondocks I call home, our neighborhood tricycle driver earns more than the nearest sari-sari store. Why not require sari-sari stores to pay a fixed amount of taxes every quarter? If Teresita is required to pay P750, which is equivalent to a total sales of P25,000, a quarter in taxes, this would still be preferable to spending almost P600 every quarter in transportation expenses for monthly tax compliance.
What is it with sari-sari stores that they are dealt with differently? Could it be that requiring sari-sari stores to issue official receipt with the threat of thousands of pesos in fines if they don’t is a sign of a wider epidemic? Is this the beginning of the slow death of common sense in BIR?
What will be the next result of this slow death of common sense? Maybe, ask the fish vendor at the wet market to issue official receipts, too?
*Not her real name
**Percentage tax is a computed as 3% of total sales and is paid monthly to the BIR
Liza M. Gaspar is a wealth coach and personal finance enthusiast. She also volunteers for the Rotary Club of Makati McKinley (rcmmckinley.org) and the Gerry Roxas Leadership Awardees (grlawardees.org). Engage her in a discussion about anything you fancy at http://www.thegirlninja.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/annalizagaspar
WITH various controversies and anomalies, Philippines agricultural forecast seems to follow a bright rainbow in the sky.
No less than the government’s Department of Agriculture under its chief honcho –Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, has been in the limelight lately, due to several controversies hounding the country’s precious prime staple food –rice.
In fact, just before the ‘forced’ resignation of former Custom’s chief Biazon, rice smuggling was among those that hugged newspaper headlines from Aparri to Jolo, and whereby top accused rice smugglers rocked the confines of our anti-crime agencies via several high-point Senate-led inquiries.
The Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. (PAJ), one of the country’s pioneering news associations (now led by the dynamic Philippine Star business editor and my close friend –Roman ‘Sir Manong’ Floresca,) has been at the frontlines of the nation’s agricultural dimensions since the mid-seventies, dwelling on in-depth articles, research, plus innovations and insights on the latest developments of our society’s prime economic-mover in the 21st century.
And while we are dwelling on our favorite subject –rice, did you know that Ilocos Norte has just received its deserving award for being one of the top 12 rice-producing provinces of the country. No less than Ilocos Norte’s hard-working Governor –Imee Marcos received the “2013 National Rice Achievers”(NRA) trophy from DA Sec Alcala, and national rice production coordinator and the DA’s Undersecretary Dante S. Delima. As per media release which appeared in the PS: “other winning provinces includeNueva Ecija, North Cotobato, Nueva Viscaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Bukidnon, Bulacan , Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna and Lanao del Norte. A total of P117.42 million worth of project grants and cash prizes were given out to the awardees which consisted of 12 provinces, 48 municipalities, 10 irrigator associations (IA’s), three small water impounding system associations (SWISAs) and agricultural extension workers (AEWs).
The addendum report stated that “each province received P4-million worth of project grant, while municipalities received P1-million worth of project grants. The IA’s and SWISAs each received P1-million and P500,000 respectively, while AEWs were given P20,000 cash prize each.” Well folks, that says a lot about the ‘strength’ of our rice-producing provinces.
Just wondering how this ‘good news’ would affect the cash registers of some rice-supporting fast-food establishments like Inasal for example, which is by the way, now under the stewardship of globally-strong Filipino-owned firm –Jollibee Group.
And by the way, what have we here on the latest developments concerning the hotly-controversial National Food Authority (NFA) which was at the receiving end of countless accusations vis-a-vis “anomalies and corruption” that required Senate and Congressional inquiry for that matter? In fact, a number of people’s organizations have called for its abolition “citing billions of pesos in debt the government has incurred over the years.”
Latest media reports however has it that no less than the Palace “has stood pat on its position not to abolish the grains procurement agency, saying this will affect millions of Filipino farmers dependent on NFA support price for palay.”
Now we wonder why this present administration is still open to import rice from our neighboring ASEAN brothers, when it has been revealed (as per documented media reportage) that our beloved Philippines has enough rice production to feed our growing millions of Filipinos nationwide. Let us remember, what the Word states: “…and the truth shall set you free.”
And to think that “to date, NFA’s debts are placed at around P150 billion.” Where do we go from here?
IT is very natural for people to disagree with one another. Each human is created unique and distinct or, in a real sense: without equal. E.g., take an event, like a basketball game witnessed by a thousand spectators, and you can expect from them a thousand accounts with variances in perception, understanding, enjoyment and what have you.
Differences should never spawn ill feelings. They are like rains that come in cycles alternating with sunshine. Let us welcome them as opportunities for building healthier relationships, resting assured that the laws of God and of Man are precisely the infrastructure of just and orderly societies. Significantly, as there is a “carrot and stick” discipline for homes and schools, so also is there a system of “crime and punishment” in the wider environment beyond their fences.
Let us therefore acknowledge and accept life’s greatest challenge: to doggedly temper irreconcilable differences, to generously give or give in, or otherwise make sacrifices in order to strengthen or preserve the whole of which we are each expendable parts. Given the cited infrastructure, there’s no reason why peace is not attainable in our blighted land.
Last March 29, the Nationalist People’s Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), somberly observed its 45th Anniversary barely a week after the capture in Cebu of the two highest officials of the CPP-NPA network, along with 10 others. Apart from being a blow to the morale of the commies, the arrests are certain to set back their calendar of armed operations against government buildings and military installations, not to mention populated civilian areas.
In dealing with communist rebels, not to mention their Moro counterparts down south, civilian and military authorities have demonstrated eternal patience. Indeed, legislating, listening, negotiating, giving carrots and bending backwards to spinal discomforts have long become the norms of official policy. But what happens if carrots do not work any longer? Dialog after dialog has not worked. Ceasefire after ceasefire has not worked. Amnesty after amnesty has not worked. Of late, the peace process has ground to a halt…no thanks to the Reds!
Time for the sticks
My personal reaction to the recent arrest of twelve communists in Cebu, including the CPP-NPA Chair, his wife and five others who reportedly comprise the highest Maoist ruling body in the country today, is: “Good. Charge them all immediately with Rebellion. With respect to leader Benito Tiamson and his wife Wilma, Secretary General and Finance Chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, against whom warrants of arrest for Murder and Frustrated Murder had long been issued, their criminal prosecution should commence without delay, unless of course the said crimes were committed in furtherance of rebellion, in which case they should be tried only for Rebellion”.
Ringing hollow is their claim that their arrest would only set back the on-off series of peace talks started over 25 years ago, since it is a documented fact that they have cavalierly derailed the peace talks with constant absences from scheduled meetings, not to mention their programmed forays into traditional targets anytime they choose. Should they be treated any differently from a widowed labandera who got 14 years for robbing and killing a businessman so she could feed her six children?
The Valley of Death
Sure, their alleged love of country is aflame with revolutionary fervor — dig those slogans screamed out with clenched fists! — but hey, non-commies like me are also country-lovers, and they need no strident slogans and clenched fists to assemble, debate and make meaningful headways in the quest for social change! And this they can do as a guaranteed right to use what is known as “democratic free space” — an expanse that includes the polling places, the halls of Congress, the courtrooms, the streets and other open spaces allowed for marches and the airing of grievances.
Revolutionary catchphrases like “Tuloy ang laban!” and “Patay kung patay!” are so scorchingly emotional they set ablaze the valor to “march into the valley of death”; ignominious death, that is, because the struggle of the Tiamsons and their fellow Maoists can never succeed, there having never been a time, ever, when their mindless and unreasonable methods appealed to the hearts and minds of the overwhelming majority of citizens.
So how can they proclaim themselves “patriots,” when they knowingly and openly oppose the peaceful and democratic ways of the vast number of Filipinos? By doing so, these handful of fully armed commies think they can impose their will upon a hundred million sovereign people. And to think that CPP-NPA Supremo Benito Tiamson is a UP-bred sociologist! One wonders how such anti-people sentiments could be hailed by him and his followers as patriotism.
Gas2Grid Ltd. reported Thursday that it has just received written approval from the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) to commence the Malolos-1 extended oil production in the Philippines.
The operations will commence as soon as the crew and equipment have been mobilized to the site with likely initial oil production commencing in April. This testing is being carried out in order to confirm the commerciality of the Malolos Oil Field. The DOE had previously extended Service Contract 44 (SC 44) for a 12 month period starting Jan. 29 in order to conduct the tests.
The extended oil production testing program aims to gather sufficient technical information to confirm commerciality of the Malolos Oil Field to justify the Department of Energy awarding a 25 year production period leading to full field appraisal and development. Proving commercial production at Malolos Oil Field will have a very significant impact on the value of the Company and will benefit the Philippine economy.
On Jan. 29 the Company reported a “Contingent Resource” of oil in the two productive sandstones for the Malolos Oil Field between a “Low Estimate” (1C) of 6.8 million barrels and a “High Estimate” (3C) of 68.1 million barrels, with a “Best Estimate” (2C) of 20.4 million barrels of “Total Oil Initially in Place”. This Contingent Resource is in addition to the Unrisked Prospective Resources released to the ASX on Jan. 29. The large size of contingent and prospective resources justifies further exploration within SC 44.
In that respect, the Company is continuing discussions with interested parties for funding the complete appraisal and development work (seismic acquisition, production well drilling and production facilities) at the Malolos Oil Field and additional exploration prospects by a farmout of part of its 100 percent interest in Service Contract 44. In view of the time frame available to the Company for SC 44, it will also consider sole funding some of the work early should farmin terms and agreements take undue time to finalize. The Company is funding the extended oil production testing from existing cash reserves which were raised last year.
THE country’s top rice-producing municipalities, cities and provinces, farmers and irrigators’ associations, and agricultural workers were honored by the Department of Agriculture in an awarding ceremony held at the Resorts World Manila, March 14.
This year’s Rice Achievers’ Awards conferred a total of over PhP110 million in prizes from the DA National Rice Program to 12 provinces, 48 municipalities and cities, 10 irrigators’ associations, three small water impounding system farmers’ associations (SWISAs), and 496 agricultural extension workers (AEWs).
For surpassing their palay (unhusked rice) production targets, attaining higher average yield, encouraging more farmers to use quality seeds and appropriate technologies, and prioritizing rice-related projects, the provinces of Nueva Ecija, North Cotabato, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Bukidnon, Bulacan, Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna, and Lanao del Norte were declared as the country’s top rice achievers for 2013.
Each of the provinces’ governors received a trophy and check worth P4 million for rice-related projects from Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Rice Program coordinator and acting undersecretary for field operations Dante Delima.
The top municipalities and cities, including the exceptional IAs each received P1-million worth of project grants. Outstanding SWISAs got P500,000 each in project grants, while the leading AEWs took home a cash incentive of P20,000 each.
Alcala said the annual contest, now on its third year, is the government’s way of thanking the country’s rice farmers and their respective provincial and municipal officials and AEWs for their continuing efforts and contribution to increase rice production.
“The Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Awards is part of DA’s interventions and incentive system to encourage LGUs, IAs, SWISAs and AEWs to contribute their share in increasing farmers’ harvest and incomes, to attain national rice sufficiency,” the DA chief said.
The top provinces, cities and municipalities were chosen based on the following criteria: incremental increases in rice harvest and average yield per hectare over 2012 levels, increases over their 2012 targets, amount of budget devoted to rice projects and initiatives, number of farmers benefited, and degree of quality seed utilization, among others.
The combined palay production of the top 12 provinces amounted to 6.65 million metric tons (MMT), which represents about 36 percent of the country’s total harvest of 18.42 MMT last year.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will bring together the country’s water and power sectors to raise public awareness on the close link between water and energy consumption as the nation joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Water Day (WWD) on March 22.DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said this year’s celebration, which has a local theme “Water is Power,” will focus on the growing awareness that saving water may be one of the most effective ways to save energy – and vice versa. “We wish to highlight the important link between water and power, and how they are highly dependent on each other,” Paje said, noting that producing energy uses water, and providing freshwater uses energy. He said both processes face growing limits and problems.
He added: “In fact, much of our generated power relies on water, while many Filipinos rely on electrical power for domestic water supply.”Paje said that aside from providing Filipinos access to clean water and electricity, “the efficient use of both water and power is also an urgent issue the government is trying to address.”According to statistics, about 17 million people in the Philippines have no access to safe drinking water and over 15 million still have no access to electricity.To mark WWD 2014, the DENR, its attached agencies and partners have prepared a week-long program from March 17-22.
On March 17, a kick-off event will be held at the Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Expected to attend are Paje, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and National Power Corp. (NPC) president Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita.These officials, along with other representatives from NPC, National Irrigation Authority, Metropolitan Manila Water Sewerage System, and water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, will be treated to a “Water Energy Tour Nexus” of the Angat, Ipo and La Mesa dams.
On March 18, the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will hold a day-long World Water Day Exhibit at the Activity Center of the Glorietta 2 in Makati City. At 5 p.m. on that day, there will be a free four-hour concert that will feature pop and alternative rock artists to draw attention to current efforts to revive Manila Bay, and major rivers and creeks in Metro Manila.On March 19, the EMB will hold an on-the-spot poster-making contest for elementary and high school students at the SM North EDSA, while their teachers undergo a Water Education workshop at the Air Quality Training Center inside the DENR compound in Quezon City.
On the same day, employees of the Laguna Lake Development Authority will lead tree-planting activities in Antipolo City and Taytay, Rizal. They will also hold a river clean-up in the nearby towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez the following day.The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, led by its chairperson Gina Lopez, will conduct an “estero tour” featuring the rehabilitated Estero de Aviles in San Miguel, Manila on March 20.
Employees of the DENR and Maynilad will hold a “Plant for Life” mangrove tree-planting activity along Cavite shores on March 18 in Bacoor and March 20 in Kawit.The DENR will also host “Water is Power” lecture series in selected schools in Pateros and the cities of Quezon, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, and Taguig from March 18 to 20.All activities will culminate on March 21 at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia, where a two-kilometer walk will be held outside to raise awareness on various water-related issues.The celebration of March 22 as “World Day for Water” was declared in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly. This year’s international theme is “Water and Energy.”
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.
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.