DA Honors Top Rice Producers
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.
Turnover of Japan-Funded Disaster-Prevention Equipment in Cagayan de Oro
Minister Akio Isomata, Embassy of Japan’s Minister for Economic Affairs turned over fishing nets and dredging machines to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in a ceremony last March 14 for the Japan-funded Non-Project Grant Aid for the Restoration and Disaster Prevention in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental. The ceremony was also attended by Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and Congressman Rufus Rodriquez.
The assistance, signed two years ago, provided 600 million yen (approximately 315 million pesos) for the purchase of necessary products for the recovery and disaster prevention of Typhoon Sendong affected areas. Aside from the fishing nets and dredgers, housing materials will also be provided under this project to assist the victims in the restoration and rebuilding of their homes. This assistance comes on top of the 25 million yen (approximately 14 million pesos) emergency relief, composed of water tanks, tents and other relief items, and the 2 million US dollar emergency grant through international humanitarian agencies.
In his speech during the ceremony, Minister Isomata referred to the importance of proactive involvement of local communities in enhancing disaster preparedness and said, “Japan, being also a disaster-prone country, is committed to assist the Philippines in enhancing its ability for disaster risk reduction and management, and have worked together with the Philippines in this field for many years through various ODA projects. But, there is one thing we always have to bear in mind in implementing any kind of disaster-related efforts. That is, we need a heightened awareness of local communities for the prevention of natural disasters even at normal times.”
Japan, as the top donor of ODA to the Philippines as well as a disaster-prone country itself, has supported the Philippines’ disaster mitigation and management efforts by sharing its experiences and lessons learned from the past natural disasters. Recently, the Government of Japan provided assistance for the victims of Typhoon Pablo in 2012, the Bohol Earthquake and Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Moreover, a 50 billion yen Post-Disaster Standby Loan was signed last December 2013, when President Aquino visited Tokyo, to further assist in the restoration and recovery of disaster stricken areas. These projects reaffirm the continued commitment of Japan to extend cooperation in minimizing threats and impacts of disasters.
DTI- DOE Bagwis Program Orientation in General Santos City
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.
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.
Consumer Protection Group Hits Protector of Big Businesses
By William Dipasupil
THE economy will fall not because President Aquino is a poor manager but because of some politicians who are protecting the interests of big businesses, according to a consumer protection group. The Movement Against Business Abuses (MBA), an alliance of consumer protection advocates, was reacting to an earlier statement by Sen. Serge Osmeña blaming the President and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla on the country’s power woes. “If there’s somebody that should be blamed for the country’s problem on electricity, it is Senator Serge Osmeña III, who obviously is protecting the rape of the economy by big businesses,” the group said. Osmeña, they said, has been remiss in his duty as a lawmaker in helping address the country’s problem on thinning power reserves, much more as chairman of the Senate energy committee. “He failed to recommend amendments to EPIRA which is the primary cause of our power problems,” MBA added. Republic Act No.9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001squarely puts the burden of protecting the interest of consumers and ensuring competitiveness in a deregulated industry on the shoulders of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). The ERC was created to promote and protect long-term consumer interest in terms of quality, reliability and reasonable pricing of a sustainable supply of electricity. The group pointed out that the recent order by the ERC to void spot market prices of electricity generated and sold to Meralco last December and January were clear indications that the government is aware of the real purpose of regulatory functions. The Movement said that it is about time that the real cost or electricity and how it is computed should be made public, which could be done by amending certain provisions of the EPIRA law. As chair of the Senate energy committee, they said, Osmeña may introduce the amendments so that the power generators and distributors would be compelled to make public how they arrived at on the cost of electricity being charged to the consumers. “Investors in the energy sector had for decades held hostage the government and consequently the users of electricity by threats of brownouts every time their greed driven profits are threatened,” the MBA spokesman, lawyer Rey Cardeno, said. Cardeno pointed out that the consumers had always been on the losing end and ended up paying more every time Meralco pushed for another round of power rate increase before the ERC. “We were convinced, then, that the ERC was in the pockets of Meralco,” he said, adding that “unless this is a trick, and ERC and Meralco has perfected several tricks against consumers, we are looking forward to a new directions at the ERC and the Department of Energy.” But now, he said, that the ERC is being true to its functions by ordering a review and recalculate the cost power that Meralco wants to pass on to consumers, the national leadership, including Osmeña, should support the peoples’ demand for transparency on the actual cost of electricity.
Richard Sanz: The Emperor of Iced Tea and Bibingka
Young entrepreneur Richard Sanz started out with nothing but a business concept and his gut feel. Going by personal instinct and intuition has been considered too risky by many business people. In Richard’s case, it has proven him right in the long run, because he now rules one of the most successful food businesses in the country.
He started his venture in 2004. “I was 23 years old when I resigned from my engineering job in a multinational firm. It was a risky decision as I had a family to provide for, but I went ahead because I was young and excited to have my own business.” He remembers his mother making iced tea from tea leaves and water. With that dearly-held childhood memory, Sanz collected Php120,000 worth of capital from personal loans and created Tea Square, the Philippines’ first specialty iced tea brand.The first Tea Square branch was opened at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.
“We are confident that through focused development and brand-building, we can get a respectable market share in three to five years,” he shares. Despite the fact that most food businesses rely on the tried-and-tested iced tea prepared from powder, Richard Sanz has successfully popularized a line of all-natural tea beverages. Food Asia Corporation, his company, currently has four brands and 80 retail outlets nationwide, and has experienced revenue growth of over 1,000 percent during the past years.
“My target was the upscale, health-conscious AB market. Since I had a low budget, I developed my own products based on what I felt the market would enjoy. I also designed the cart, and learned how to use Adobe Photoshop to create my company’s logo and marketing materials. The entire setup took two weeks,” Richard narrates.
“Since I only had one employee, I did all the marketing, accounting, and other tasks myself. But it made me so proud to see people frequenting the store–between 50 to 100 customers came each day, probably out of curiosity. The good thing, though, is we were able to translate that curiosity into continuous sales.”
One way to ensure business success is to to educate the public about one’s products. Richarddid taste tests and set up in-mall posters informing the consumer of tea’s health benefits, such as boosting one’s immune system, preventing cancer, and reducing high blood pressure. He also had the creative idea to use ‘LoyalTea’ cardsto attract more customers. Richard believes in excellent customer service. To show his dedication in satisfying customer demand, he printed his personal cellular phone number on all packaging materials. If that isn’t engaging with your market on a very personal, down-to-earth manner, we don’t know what is.
Tea Square has grown to twenty branches nationwide. “I was able to recover my initial investment in only six months and repay my loans within a year,”Sanz proudly says.
In 2006, not wanting to rest on his laurels, Sanz sought to venture into the bibingka business. His idea is so simple and yet quite effective. “My family likes eating bibingka, but sometimes, we can’t finish a whole serving. So I thought of making smaller portions.” He called it as Bibingkinitan!, a combination of‘bibingka’ with ‘balingkinitan’, which means small or petite in Filipino.
At Php20 per piece, Bibingkinitan! rice-flour cakes are accessible to the mass-based broad C market. It has classic and flavored variants of the classic bibingka recipe, including chocolate, cream cheese, and macapuno.The mini-bibingkas sold like hotcakes. According to Richard, “Bibingkinitan! is the country’s leading bibingka chain today in terms of revenue and store number. It’s also our bestselling brand. We now have over 60 Bibingkinitan! branches.”
One would think that another business success would leave an entrepreneur to settle down, but not Richard, who seems to be quite a natural in handling a business venture. One year after Bibingkinitan!’s launch, he opened another upscale outlet called Bibingka Cafe at the Alabang Town Center in December 2007. Its menu consists of bibingka ala mode, champorado, salabat, tsokolate,and barako coffee, all classic Filipino comfort food and beverages,offered at very affordable prices. Not to be stopped, he opens three more branchesin 2008 at SM North EDSA, SM Clark, and SM Mall of Asia.
To further grow his flourishing business empire, Richardcreated another business division. Calling it Fresh-Foods, its first product offerings are ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook frozen foods, like Stuffees stuffed bread and tilapia ala pobre, as well as fresh poultry produce, like fresh white eggs, red duck eggs, and fresh chicken.
SM Supermarket was impressed with the company’s products and marketing efforts, and offered the opportunity for Richard to develop a brand of consumer food products for the broad C market. These products are now being distributed in major SM supermarkets and hypermarkets nationwide.
Richard notes that FreshFoods’s competition is much more formidable than those of their retail brands, but he remains confident about it. “We are confident that through focused development and brand-building, we can get a respectable market share in three to five years.”
FoodAsia presently has a workforce of almost 100 employees and occupies a 100square meter office in Muntinlupa City. Both Tea Square and Bibingkinitan! have begun franchising, with its combined 20 franchised outlets comprising roughly 25 percent of the current total stores. “We want to establish a presence in all towns in the Philippines,” Sanz says.
In today’s globally-oriented world, an entrepreneur should be able to think in more global perspective. “Innovation is part of our strategy. The product itself is an innovation because we changed the landscape for bibingka. I want to make Bibingkinitan a global brand. All the other food from other countries like Italy, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand are available locally but we have to establish distribution of Filipino food abroad. My dream is to make this Philippine delicacy known globally through Bibingkinitan. We have inquiries in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong today. Hopefully it’s a first step,” the founder of the country’s first bibingka empire says.
A Global Mining Ethics Code: Why It Matters
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
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
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!
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)