Philippines

QUINTESSENTIAL OPERATOR! STRANGE BEDFELLOWS!

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opinyon-politics

A year ago, this week, July 12-15, 2013, the PDI came out with a four part series on the Napoles PDAF/Pork Scandal. The PDI Expose came out of the three months “Serious Illegal Detention” of Benhur Lim Luy by Janet Lim Napoles and brother, Raynald “Jojo” Lim from Dec 19 to March 22. Then there were attempts (the retention of the MOST Law Firm and a letter to President Aquino from JLN seeking assistance against harassment by the NBI.) to cover up and hush up the said crime. Atty. Baligod and the Family of Benhur Lim Luy went to the PDI on April 27, 2013 and turned over Benhur’s Computer Hard Drive with 2,156 folders and 20,103 files.

Since then, we have been analyzing, projecting, wondering, what will be the end result of all of these. Our predictions and projections have swung back and forth, to and fro, principle to practical. A mere month and a half after the first PDI series, we thought that we were on the verge of another popular revolution (July 12-August 26). However, every month that passed since then, September, October, November, December and so on, the instant indignation and mobilization of July and August was disassembled and whittled down.

Even, the Tuesday, November 19, 2013, Supreme Court decision that PDAF was unconstitutional seemed to contribute to the pacification of public opinion. The proverbial final nail on the coffin was the paltry and pathetic June 12, 2014 Coalition or Movement Rally at the Bonifacio Shrine behind the Manila City Hall. Meanwhile, Bayan and other likely suspects held their rally at the Liwasang Bonifacio and proceeded to Mendiola after. The quantity as well as the quality of the Million People March to Luneta had been dissipated by Disunity, Dogma, Pride, Purism, Selfishness, Suspicion, and what have you.

Before you read on: Beware “Do Gooders”, “Holier Than Thous”, “Mayabangs”, “Pharisees”, “Purists” and Swapangs”. You might not like what you will read. Welcome “Balimbings”, “Half Breeds”, “Mestizos” “United Fronters”. Pray, keep your Hearts and Minds Open!

People are born, develop and grow up with two sides to the brain – Art and Science, Creativity and Logic, Language and Numbers, Love and Likes. My Left Brain must have been bigger. I was better with numbers than with language. However, in my late High School years and even more during College, my Right Brain caught up with my Left Brain and even overtook it. This was just in time for the 70’s as in the “First Quarter Storm!”
Subsequently, I realized that six decades of Politics and Protest taught me a new Political/Protest kind of Math. I learned that: 1 + 1 is not = 2, its 3. 10 divided into two is not 5 and 5, its 3 & 3. The other 4 just evaporated. I learned the value of Coalitions, Compromise, getting together and Unity. I learned too the other side of the coin, Disunity, Division, Dogmatism, Going It Alone and Purism.

Both at close range and from a distance, I learned about and observed political failure and success. One of the longest running political failures was the Jesuit/Ateneo inspired purist third force that fielded a separate slate of candidates in the National/Presidential Elections of 1957 and 1965 (PPP – as in Party for Philippine Progress and Progressive Party of the Philippines), and the Local/Midterm Elections of 1959 (Grand Alliance). Double blinded Noynoy (an Atenean like Manglapus.) may yet turn the success story of his parents’ double deaths and martyrdoms into the biggest family tragedy because of his narrow mindedness. On the other hand, we have had a myriad of political successes when even strange bed fellows got together. The following are examples of how the heterogeneous as opposed to the homogenous came about achieving their common objectives.

In 1946, the Liberator, Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur supported the Collaborator, Manuel Acuna Roxas for President. In 1953, the Nacionalista Party adopted LP President Elpidio S. Quirino’s Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay as its Presidential candidate. The latter had been an LP Congressman.

Then, in 1961, the Grand Alliance/PPP and the LP coalesced as the United Opposition Party (with Diosdado Macapagal and Emmanuel Pelaez for President and Vice President. Raul S. Manglapus and Manuel Manahan of the GA/PPP captured the first two slots for Senator.) and defeated the NP’s incumbent re-electionist President Carlos P. Garcia.

In 1965, former LP Congressman, Senator and Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos won the NP nomination for Presidential candidate. With Fernando Lopez as his Vice Presidential running mate, they defeated the incumbent LP President Diosdado Macapagal and running mate Senator Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas. Senators Raul S. Manglapus and Manuel Manahan, the Purists, came in third.

In the 1970’s, Moderates and Radicals came together and came apart several times over. In the February 7, 1986, Snap Elections, Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino and Salvador “Doy” Laurel were perceived as having been the real winners because they had come together in one slate at the last minute.

In 1992, Lakas, NUCD and UMDP coalesced to field FVR. After he won the count and proclamation, Ramos made peace with all of his rivals, namely, NPC”s Danding Cojuangco, LDP’s Ramón V. Mitra, LP’s Jovito Salonga, KBL’s Imelda Romualdez Marcos and Unido’s Salvador “Doy”: Laurel, except for PRP’s Miriam Defensor Santiago. In 1995, in a Marriage of Convenience, Lakas and LDP put up a common twelve man Senatorial Slate.

In 1998, the LDP, LP, NPC, PDP and PMP coalesced behind Erap against the Lakas, NUCD, UMDP, Kammpi and defeated Speaker Joe de Venecia. However, the Kammpi’s GMA beat Angara for the VP. In March 2000, the Binamira’s, Pedrosa’s, Jun Enriquez and Linda “Inday” Montayre and Linggoy Alcuaz launched the Exclamation Point Sticker in the Silent Protest Movement. In the run up to EDSA II, Boy Saycon and Popoy Lagman, Peping S. Cojuangco and Vic Ladlad teamed up to Oust Erap. In 2004, Erap and Jun Enriquez got together. From 2004 to 2009, Orange and Red worked side by side.

From sometime in the past until November 29, 2007, the RA and RJ factions of the Left were often in the same coalitions. In 2007, Uno and GO defeated GMA and the Lakas’s Coalition at the Senatorial level. In 2013, Grace Poe ran under the LP and came out # 1. The future may show Pastor “Boy” Saycon and Erap together again.
All of these examples don’t mean that in this more complicated age that the strange bedfellows have to be formally together and united in their objectives to defeat the enemy. After all, as the lesson of the lost August 26 Million People March to Luneta shows, it is impossible to unite everybody. All they have to do is to aim their attacks at the same targets – Aquino and Abad, and not at each other. The Supreme Court Decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional lays the foundations for a common target range. The targets are now much bigger than Napoles of the Ten Billion Scam.

Happy Birthday Pastor Boy Saycon!

UK Scholarship Program to Allow More Pinoys

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PHOTO STORY 1 ASIF AHMAD

NOW, more Filipinos can have the chance to be admitted in a United Kingdom flagship scholarship program as additional slots will be opened to Filipinos in the Chevening Scholarships program for the academic year 2015 to 2016.

In a statement, the British Embassy in Manila announced that the number of Filipino scholars in the program will double in the following year due to an additional investment of PhP2.4 billion to the program globally.

The amount will be invested over a period of two years to ensure an additional 1,000 scholarships will be available globally, the embassy said.

“We want to receive more and more varied applications from all across the Philippines,” said British Ambassador Asif Ahmad.

“We are encouraging people who can be leaders in a wide range of areas from governance to economics, from peace building to trade, from justice to climate change and energy,” he added.

Applications for the academic year 2014-2015 have already closed, but the program will open once more to potential scholars on August 1 for Academic Year 2015-2016.

Philippine sponsors for the program this year include the Bank of the Philippine Islands, GlaxoSmithKline Philippines Inc., First Pacific Leadership Academy and San Miguel Corporation.

For Academic Year 2013-2014, a total of 11 Filipino scholars were chosen to pursue studies in finance and economics, environment and sustainability, trade, health and law in the UK.

The Chevening Program is a prestigious scholarship program that allows students outside the UK to pursue any one-year masters degree courses at any of the universities in the UK.

A special feature of Chevening in the Philippines this year will be ensuring it contributes to the UK’s support of the Mindanao peace process.

According to the statement, the aim is to identify at least five scholars in the 2015-2016 batch “who can make a positive difference to realizing the vision of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.”

LOST BREW: WHEN THE PHILIPPINES WAS COFFEE KING

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coffee cherry on tree

Financial analyst and coffee entrepreneur Pierre Yves Cote of Rocky Mountain Coffee, Inc. warned the local coffee industry, “The supply gap represents 100,000 jobs that go away to Vietnam every year. In terms of economic value, the Philippines will give Vietnam P17 billion within 5 years, P28 billion within 10 years, and P75 billion within 20 years. This will make the Philippines’ coffee importers rich, Vietnam people rich, but Filipino farmers will remain poor. Can we allow this to continue to happen?”

200 years ago, the Philippines was once the fourth biggest producer of coffee in the world. Today, the country only produces .012 percent of the demand for coffee worldwide.

What happened to the local coffee industry? There are incoming projects, both government and private sector-funded, that aim to revive the old industry.

The root of the problem lies in the fact that local coffee farmers cannot supply even the local demand for coffee. The country has had to import 85 percent of its coffee from Vietnam.

Government data shows that at least 138 million kilograms worth Php6 billion is imported from Vietnam every year.

One of the leading coffee brands, Kopiko, sources its beans from Indonesia. Local coffee produce has been relegated to niche markets that cater to coffee shops and specialty brands.

The cost of coffee imports have also become cheaper because coffee farmers from other countries such as Brazil and Vietnam are willing to sell their beans already roasted, unlike local farmers who sell their coffee beans raw.

Expensive Grinders
Some would think that it is just plain laziness or lack of initiative, but the truth is that local farmers do not have easy access to coffee-roasting tools that measure up to international standards.
Industrial coffee machines cost around a million pesos on average and are costly to maintain if bought secondhand.

There are low-capacity models but these would not be fast and efficient enough to meet market demand, especially if the Philippines wants to compete in the international coffee market, now lorded over by Brazil.

The Bravura is the cheapest roasting machine available in the market. This locally-made roasting machine costs Php485,000 per unit or around US$11,100.

Government Efforts
The old town of Piddigin Ilocos Nortehas started developing an initial 10-hectare Arabica coffee plantation located in one of the coldest mountain ranges in the country.

The DENR has given a grant to the Piddig local government of Php52 million worth of financial assistance for the establishment of a coffee nursery.

The project is expected to produce 2 million coffee seedlings in three years or until 2016.

The DSWD is also involved in the coffee industry revival with its livelihood assistance, worth Php5,000 per family-beneficiary.

It aims to encourage farmers’ family members to produce organic fertilizer through vermiculture needed in sustaining the coffee farm.

Target beneficiaries receive training on how to produce organic fertilizer through a simple process of vermicomposting.

This technology employs worms (African night crawlers) to decompose waste materials, such as household and farm, to produce organic fertilizer for sustainable agriculture.

The vermicomposting technology is now being practiced by many farmers in Ilocos Norte, shying away from costly farming inputs such as commercial fertilizer.

Alongside coffee, high-value crops such as papaya and bananas are being suggested to be intercropped in the coffee plantation.

Political Bottleneck
The unceremonious bypassing of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala by Aquino appointee Francis Pangilinan, himself a former senator, means that government modernization of agricultural industries will slow down.

That includes the coffee industry, which of this moment is still in a vegetative state.

The political maneuvering is being done so as to favor certain cartels that seek to profit from imports, most of them backed by foreign companies engaged in the international coffee market.
Experts say Filipinos consume 138 million kilos of coffee, but the country only produces less than 20 million kilos, or only 14 percent of the coffee that locals consume.

Another alarming fact is that the local demand is increasing while the supply is declining.

According to experts, this supply gap will increase to 200 million by 2020 and 800 million by 2032, if the current trend is to continue.
One solution being proposed is to have a definitive roadmap to restore the coffee industry, combined with political will to confront the cartels.

THE BRT SYSTEM: PRO-PEOPLE, PRO-SAFETY, PRO-NATION, AND PRO-EARTH

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By Erick A. Fabian

The installment of a fast, cost-effective, and convenient bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Metro Manila can be a significant solution to the traffic congestion in the metropolis. That is, if the government can implement it in a transparent manner, with full disclosure to the public sector.

Otherwise, even a well-intended plan will gather dust in the storerooms of the Department of Transportation and Communications if tainted by corruption, which the government agency has yet to cleanse itself of.

In a press release last July 2, the DOTC announced that one of its many modernization projects will be the creation of BRT systems.
One such project is now being implemented in Cebu, expected to be operational by 2017. The DOTC is confident that eventually, Metro Manila will also have its own BRT system in the future.

DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya admitted that the current bus system is inefficient due to the fact that there are no exclusive and integrated bus lanes. The current BRT system will have those lanes in place.
“Road space is a scarce resource. It is the responsibility of the state to manage this. It’s better to move Filipinos through intelligent buses than cars. The use of BRT requires a paradigm shift. We will bring the BRT to Metro Manila. It will soon be a reality in our neighborhood,” he says.

Low-Cost Transport
The BRT system is considered an innovative, high capacity, low-cost public form of transport that can efficiently improve urban mobility.
This permanent, integrated system uses buses or specialized vehicles on roadways or dedicated lanes to quickly and efficiently transport passengers to their destinations, while offering the flexibility to meet transit demand.

BRT systems can easily be customized to community needs and incorporate state-of-the-art, low-cost technologies that result in more passengers and less congestion.

“BRT systems around the world have been successful in mobilizing masses of people in dense urban settings, getting them to their destinations reliably through fixed schedules, efficiently through segregated lanes and priority passage, comfortably and safely through modern, well-equipped buses, and affordably through relatively lower capital costs and maintenance expenditures,” said Abaya.

“BRTs are game-changers. They are as effective as rail systems in terms of moving people around quickly and efficiently, but are much cheaper to build and are faster to develop. Since they will be granted as concessions, their riders will not be at the mercy of ‘colorum’ vehicles or transport strikes. They will be spared from unnecessary disruptions and unsafe traveling conditions,” Abaya noted.

The BRT concept started in Curitiba, Brazil in 1974, but the “BRT” name and the system’s popularity did not come until it was introduced in Bogota, Colombia in the year 2000. Currently, there are over two hundred BRT systems either operating or being built worldwide.

Key Components
There are at least five generally-accepted components for a BRT system:

Modern buses with technical specifications designed precisely for the system, such as bus floors with the same height as station platforms as these would save time for boarding and alighting;
A segregated lane or “busway,” which only BRT buses my ply;
BRT stations at locations identified to be most suited for riders;
Continuously-operating services programmed to meet passenger demands; and Intelligent transport systems or information technologies which ensure the efficient operations of the system, such as automatic signaling which control traffic lights to ensure that the BRT buses are not impeded during trips.

The Country’s First
After obtaining the National Economic Development Authority’s approval last May to construct the country’s first BRT system in Cebu, the DOTC is now proposing a Manila BRT to serve the Quezon Circle-Manila City Hall route.

Both these projects are made possible due to a grant and technical expertise provided by the World Bank.

The DOTC is also considering other possible BRT locations in Metro Manila, with the supposed intention of providing commuters with a modern, safe, convenient, and efficient mass transit bus system which current transport schemes are unable to offer.

If implemented nationwide, and synchronized with the current RORO (roll on, roll off) system, we can expect improvements in public safety, faster travel time for commuters, less road accidents, and more possibilities for the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

A Safer System
Since BRTs are designed to have their own separate lanes, just like light rail transit trains, road accidents can be expected to decline upon operation.

Most road accidents happen as a result of congested roads and highways, coupled with bad traffic management and undisciplined drivers.

BRTs will have stricter standards in selecting its drivers, and there will be stricter rules to follow so that the system can stay in operation.

Better Infra
Less congestion in our roads will result to better transport of people and goods, and less deterrents to communication systems and industries that rely on roads.

Foreign investors often balk at the idea of investing here because of the terrible state of our road infrastructure.

A simple but functional BRT system is a promising solution to the country’s problems in road maintenance, as only BRT buses will be allowed to use specific lanes, thus lessening the wearing down of public roads.

An efficient transport system is an assurance for investors that the moving of goods and services will be smooth and efficient.

Less Cars, More BRTs
Research after research has proven that too many cars in a crowded metropolis contribute immensely to pollution and global warming.

Global warming experts are advocating for cars that use alternative fuels, but the transition will take some time and development is still considered expensive.

An efficient BRT system will provide an alternative to using cars to get around the city. Since speed limits will be strictly imposed in this system, a reduction of greenhouse gas emission can be expected due to low fuel consumption.

This has been proven to be effective in currently-running BRT systems around the world. As BRT buses are made of newer technology, fuel efficiency can be achieved.

As soon as BRT systems become operational in Metro Manila, we can expect consequential improvements in our infrastructure, and in our economy as a whole.

CARTELS SHOW TEETH

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garlic

By Miguel Raymundo

Business cartels always had their way with the government. How the abuse of their control over government hits the consumers again gets public attention on the price hike of garlic.

Garlic, a food ingredient, has not gone scarce in the market. Only that its price has shot up 900 percent from P17.00 to P300.00 per kilo. The conclusion of Senator Cynthia Villar is this is price manipulation.

Everybody is guessing what caused this. Was it a surge in demand for the food ingredient? Did supply decline? If things were normal except for a spike in prices, what gave the courage to traders and the cartel to manipulate the prices?

In a hearing in the Senate called by Sen. Cynthia Villar, government officials and industry leaders admitted the spike in the price of garlic stemmed from price manipulation.

While the garlic price shot up to outrageous level, consumers also suffered price spike in rice, basic food commodity in the country.

Price of well-milled rice shot up by 19 percent from its year ago prices. Commercial rice was selling at minimum of P42.00 per kilo in the market.

The price hike in rice, though, benefitted farmers as farm gate prices of palay went up to P25.00 per kilo.
Food cartels are moving, preparing to control their respective markets, with the garlic and food ingredient group taking the first bold move.

In this country cartels get what they want. They can force the President to reorganize government to accommodate their interests. And this power was again confirmed at the Department of Agriculture where these food cartels dictate their terms of engagement.

A secretary of agriculture is always at the mercy of these cartels. And Secretary Proceso Alcala of the DA is the latest victim of this cartel’s influence in government.

The DA under Alcala was lately chopped and taken away from him were “problematic” agencies like the NFA, PCA, and NIA. These agencies were given to former Senator Francisco Pangilinan, now the country’s food czar.He now sits in PNoy’s official cabinet.

Alcala refused to be dictated by the rice cartel and other food cartels. Instead,he went to the farms and encouraged farmers to plant more. He made it hard for the cartel to operate and contained massive rice smuggling.
Sources in the agriculture sector say Alcala’s vigilance and independence from the rice cartel ended up with savings in tens of billions of pesos in rice importation.

Same sources said, more than savings, Alcala was pushing for higher local production and improved food security. There is no food security in rice and farm product importation. He was pushing for higher income to farmers to encourage local production.

“Smuggling farm product is the cause of slow death of agriculture in the country,” they said.

But those billions of pesos lost by the cartels funded his removal. The strongest lobby to oust a cabinet member supported by media budget in tens of millions of pesos did Alcala in. He lost to the rice cartel lobby and is now a paper tiger in the farmers’ fight against powerful traders.

That the garlic cartel is not bothered a bit by some senators concern over this price manipulation could only mean confidence on their hold on some government officials, some of them in Malacañang.
With the price manipulation earning for these garlic and food ingredient traders over Php25Billion, they can buy everyone and anyone in this government.

Hypocrite

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By Ronald Roy

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hypocrisy” as the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion. There are disturbing reasons to believe that the much-touted daang matuwid (righteous path) slogan of Pres. B.S. Aquino lll qualifies as a shuddering example of the definition.

Good attracts while evil repels, and this explains the slogan’s proselytizing power. The Tagalog catchphrase is excellent political fodder for largely religious, fanatical, and superstitious Filipinos. They are, to a fault, easily beguiled by the slogan, the same way they are often finagled by quick-money operators who build bogus shrines and sell fake healing water.

Needless to state, the slogan’s large-scale deception is pernicious to our floundering democracy, and only our citizens, if reawakened and unshackled from the yellow camp’s “Rasputinean” enticements, can be their own saviors. However, most of us didn’t believe then Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s claim that God had ordered her to ignore the public clamor for her resignation because He wanted her to continue her good work for the country; so maybe there is hope P-Noy’s bewitching mantra will fizzle out.

But, is there? My persistent irritation is that: despite the president’s slowly diminishing popularity, his slogan still appears to be getting the better of us. Without rattling in public, he quietly seethes with anger whenever confronted by legitimate dissent. And he is good at appearing virtuous, notwithstanding his obviously undemocratic contempt for opposition leaders, vis-à-vis his overwhelmingly indecent defense of misbehaving political allies.

He is a bad sport. His kind of politics is dirty and foul-ridden; and if governance were a basketball game, he would have already been ejected and banned for life which, in reality, is a possibility now that the Supreme Court has unanimously declared DAP ( disbursement acceleration program) to be unconstitutional.

The sovereign people’s anguished cry for justice and restitution of their money has been heeded by the high tribunal, and this for the moment is a reassurance that our magistrates’ principal concern is the people’s welfare — a welcome reminder that the high court is the ultimate rampart for an oppressed citizenry, and that it stands ready to play an activist role to countercheck the abusive executive and legislative departments. But this is only the start of a long, daunting struggle.

As expected, impeachment of the president quickly came to the public psyche on the day of the official announcement of the tribunal’s resolution and, as of this writing, countless theories have evolved regarding its impracticality, futility and legal untenability, as bandied about by the Palace and its cohorts; and most likely, by the time this article’s been published, a number of impeachment complaints have already swamped the lower house’s impeachment committee.

Predictably, not one of them will prosper, impeachment being a political exercise, a numbers game, where P-Noy’s lackey, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, is in full control, not to mention the president’s bottomless kitty for political self-preservation. The DAP reportedly funded the removal of impeachment respondent CJ Renato C. Corona, and it is ironic that the high tribunal’s subject DAP decision now portrays his tormentor, President Noynoy, as having received a dose of his own medicine. Karma?

As I wrote in a previous article, do not expect P-Noy to fire DBM Sec. Butch Abad who is generally seen as the brains and/or orchestrator of the DAP. How could P-Noy, really, have the heart to dump Abad whose wrongful acts he had authorized or acquiesced to? However, a charge of Technical Malversation against Abad is being studied, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Good move, although this could be a clever ploy that effectively diverts attention and pressure from P-Noy. Resignation? I do not think Abad will “take the bullet” for his master by stepping down. I hear this guy is a kapit-tuko of the kapal-muks variety.

So, what have we got before us? The spectacle, no less, of a graft-ridden administration on survival mode, fiercely banking on the power of its hypocritical daang matuwid to convince us: that we have a virtuous leader who rules the country with the best of intentions, by using our money for allegedly legitimate and noble purposes, and without pocketing a single peso, and that this declaration should be enough to shield him against accountability. HUH??? I disagree.

Their unbearably monotonous refrain of “good intentions” and “good faith” must now be laid to rest in the face of the Supreme Court’s statement that the Palace is not yet off the hook, not till the DAP’s sponsors can prove good faith.

Well, P-Noy and cohorts are finished, and here’s why. Senate records show that Sen. Noynoy sponsored a bill to outlaw the DAP because he saw it as an evil. But his colleagues rejected it. Therefore, he has been in bad faith all along. He should graciously resign if only to reduce the ignominy of being tagged as a hypocrite.

Smooth Criminals

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THE Aquino administration is in a quandary.

Shortly after putting senators Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada behind bars for their alleged involvement in the PhP10-billion pork barrel scam and issuing a warrant against former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, government is now beset with a problem bigger than pilferage of the PDAF—that of the issue of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Designed as a stimulus package to fast-track public spending and economic and push economic growth—which was supposedly being hampered by a prevailing under-spending in government disbursements—President Aquino approved the DAP in October 2011 upon the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Clusters.

From its approval and throughout 2012-2013 government spent a total PhP142.23 billion in realigned savings from different government agencies on a total 116 DAP-funded budgets. And in declaring the practice to be in violation of the Constitution, the High Tribunal cites the culpability of the proponents and implementers of the illegal government program.

The chief architect of this budget impounding system is Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, the same person whom some quarters have accused of orchestrating and providing tutelage to the players and con artists of the PDAF scam.

If the PDAF scam lists senators and congressmen as possible conspirators, the DAP tags the Office of the President—President PNoy—for approving a program that is against the fundamental laws of the land.

In defense, Malacanang said it “acted in good faith” when it spent hundreds of billions in public funds circumventing the provisions of the Constitution via the DAP. Also, being unconstitutional—in the words of Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda—should not be equated to criminality. Acting in good faith could be taken as the government’s admission of incompetence or an ignorance of the law, with both providing no excuse for the commission of an illegal act.

Because the DAP is very similar to the PDAF in many respects including the funding of projects identified by lawmakers, it is not easy to accept that the line that DAP was money well spent and the thievery was limited to the PDAF.

The PDAF involved an amount less than one percent of the total national budget and the DAP spending is ten times that of the money that Janet Lim Napoles and her co-accused were able to stick their fingers into.

If PDAF is just “pocket change”—Napoles and company are just petty thieves. An audit of the DAP and national budget could lead us to the big-time crooks and the smooth criminals in government.

The Fate of Jojo Binay

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BINAY PHOTO ULET

By Ado Paglinawan

JOJO Binay is doomed.
His intentions for the presidency surfaced too early and unlike Cory Aquino, so to speak, he did not “keep his options open”. Because of this, his prospective run for the Presidency in 2016 is doomed from the outset.

Why? Because in a political atmosphere where corruption is key to being despised by the Filipino constituency, the bevy of his wife’s pending plunder cases await him at every corner.

He is able to maintain his Makati dynasty despite this Damocles sword because of the “controlled” political environment he inherited from the late former Mayor Nemesio Yabut.

Irreversible Error
I dare say if Yabut did not die in 1986 leaving a vacuum of leadership in that city just as Marcos had just left for Hawaii, there would be no Binay at all. Binay expanded the projects of Yabut in order to gain power and fame for his “entitlement” programs. I know because I was Yabut’s strategic consultant since he was first elected in 1971 to the time of his death. Only Yabut’s oldest son, King could have prevented the Binay ascendancy, but the boy did not challenge him and instead fielded his half-brother Toro Yabut to run for councilor.

That proved to be an irreversible error because when Toro had mayoralty ambitions and his half-brothers Ricky and finally King had theirs, Binay was already well-entrenched.

Perks
Only in Makati do the poor registered voters get free full medical care including hospitalization, laboratory work and pharmaceuticals and the non-poor are charged nominally according to their income brackets. Seniors have special privileges and go to movies for free and children are guaranteed free education up to college.

The police are well-equipped and provided for. There is a small sports complex in almost every barangay that also houses well-staffed councils that are ever-present in their respective territories making sure every resident or new resident of voting age are properly identified in their periodic census. Fire and emergency brigades also abound.

National Appeal
Again to clarify, Binay did not start these programs, he only expanded and added juice to them like a check for PhP1,000 every six months and a birthday cake for senior citizens. He has also issued a blue card for residents so that they become “arrest free” within the city.

This of course has a powerful appeal to non-Makati residents. In fact, it was even able to propel his obscure daughter to the Senate in 2013, despite her only experience being to count the weekly loot the Binay family gets from the exercise of their elective positions and laundry the filthy money into a foundation.
The reason for this was her daughter ran for one of 12 available positions in a campaign where name recall and TV advertising counts the most. Even Grace Llamanzares was severely way behind the polls when she had not yet added the magical surname “Poe” identifying her to her adoptive father of the late action king “Fernando Poe” to her “official nomenclature” as a candidate. And of course, Jojo Binay has all the cash to buy those lucrative TV spots.

Winning the Count
One may argue, however, that Binay won the vice presidency. Hello? Binay was never truly elected by the people. He came out with almost Php400 million to buy the position when Mar Roxas reneged on his contract with the Comelec “operators”, thus failing to protect his votes. Mar led by a long mile in 100% of all the pre-election surveys and exit polls. Binay lost the elections but won the count.

Like BS Aquino who is a digital president, Binay is a digital vice president, courtesy of Smartmatic and the corrupted automated election system. In fact, there is not a single public official in government today that has not been digitally elected.

Pending in the Supreme Court today are nullification cases that I have filed or helped file for the 2010 and 2013 elections.

So stop this romantic notion that Binay is electable. The dung his wife Elenita acquired when she left the city after her term as mayor ended will haunt him no end.

Binay does not even have ground troops outside of the Alpha Phi Omega and some cities that he has adopted as sister cities of Makati sharing with them some entitlements. His groundswell was just fictionalized in order to apply smoke and mirrors on how he bought his own election. But I am willing to concede to you if no one stops Comelec Chairman Sixto Brilliantes from reinventing Smartmatic into another automated cheating system for 2016.

By the way, the recent barangay elections were conducted manually. Are you aware of any electoral protests? The reason why the powers-that-be are addicted to automation is because it has made buying the presidential election a lot easier—you only have to corrupt the person who controls the system and you do not have to do any cheating anymore in more than 100,000 precincts nationwide.

That disputes your entire article about a dilemma because there is no dilemma. Binay must kiss the ass of BS Aquino who has Brilliantes in his tank in the same way the village idiot got elected in the first place.

Controlling the polls
BS Aquino controls the electoral system. Gloria Arroyo cleared Ronnie Puno to giving Pinky Aquino Abellada, Noynoy’s sister, the source code and thus control to the Smartmatic system on May 5, 2010 or five days before the 2010 elections.

The Arroyos are forever corrupt. Only God knows how much money changed hands, but soonest BS Aquino got proclaimed and sworn into office, he turned his back on Arroyo, propped up plunder cases against her and proceeded to put her behind virtual bars and effectively a hostage at the Veterans Memorial Hospital to keep her away from power politics.

BS Aquino got them by the balls and blackmail greed prevents them from squealing. Did you notice how Mike has confined the Arroyo defenses within the legal structures politics? Despite this “political persecution”, Arroyo’s Kampi and KGMA supporters complain no end that they cannot get any funds from the former president.

Pedigree
This fatal mistake has stuck to Gloria because she forgot Noynoy comes from a pedigree of quislings.

His maternal great grandmother stole the war chest of the Katipunan entrusted to her by General Antonio Luna. Her grandfather cheated the government and farmers in order to acquire and control Hacienda Luisita.

His paternal grandfather was a Japanese collaborator, and of course his own father was an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whose flipside spells IBM, for which her sister worked for. Remember how Ninoy Aquino used the New People’s Army against government in order to leverage the Americans?

Her own mother the former president but who was without a political machinery rode on the Unido coalition to win the presidency but who later betrayed Unido’s leader Vice President-elect Salvador Laurel whom she promised will serve as Prime Minister of the parliamentary form of government they inherited from Ferdinand Marcos.

In order to protect the gruesome relations of her husband with the communists, she released Jose Maria Sison and gave him safe passage out of the country.

And then to appease the US, whether CIA or IBM, Cory Aquino instead chose to rule under a revolutionary government and returned the government structure to the American presidential system that ended up accidentally deleting the two-party system that is causing all the schizophrenia in today’s Philippine governance.

There is no dilemma. Binay only has to pander to BS Aquino (and of course the Americans) and obediently serve as their altar boy.

The Americans are once again omnipresent in Philippine affairs, but I am not too sure they will agree to electing the first black Filipino president after it seems that the first black US president they twice put into office seems to be more interested in his ideology transforming the American political culture rather than serving their country’s national interest and the vested interests of the US establishment before that.

This is how complicated the situation is.

THIEVES IN GOVERNMENT

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pinoy

By Ray L. Junia, Publisher

THIEVES continue to steal the future of this country.

Nothing can be more unreal than the government claim of economic gains trumpeted by Malacañang spin masters as the best in our part of the world.

The latest gesture of courtesy by an honored guest to his host, a World Bank top official saying the Philippines is on its way to become Asia’s economic tiger, made the headlines in our national media. This made us laugh. This WB seer is either the worst prophet or best in PR that envoys are trained to be.

Motoo Konishi, WB country director for the Philippines, cited macroeconomic strength of the economy for his trust in our future. He fails to see the sick trees inside what appears to be a beautiful forest. This is unfortunate as we expect bankers to be more forthright and honest and if they cannot be honest they better just shut up.

Tail ender
The Philippines is doomed to become tail ender in the race for economic gains in Asia if not the world. It is our destiny to be always poor. We have our reasons to believe so.

Corruption is the root cause of the country’s economic miseries. Cost of living, driven by high cost of basic necessities, is too high, seventy percent of the population has been declared poor.

Stealing from government coffers has not abated, even got worse with the President illegally spending Php177 Billion on DAP from the national budget. To think that other agencies are victims of the same thievery that ultimately ends up with the people suffering.

This thievery and corruption is the first reason responsible investors are not coming in and may even be packing up.
Latest report from the Philippine Statistics Authority on the foreign investments (FI) shows a sharp decline in the first quarter of 2014 compared to same period last year.

In the first quarter of 2014, FIs approved by seven investment promotion agencies amounted to Php37.4 Billion. This is 25.6 percent lower than the take in the same period last year. In 2013, FIs were Php50.3 Billion.

FDIs tell the story
On foreign direct investments (FDI), the Philippines is the tail ender, far way below the second lowest.
The average take by the country on FDIs between 2002 and 2012 was US$2.7Billion, the lowest while Singapore, a city state, got the highest at US$52.8Billion. Vietnam got second lowest with US$8.5B, better by over US$5B.

Even the numbers on FDIs in relation to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can cause investors to shy away from us. In the first two years of the Aquino administration, we registered again the lowest in ASEAN countries.

In 2010, net FDI was 0.7 percent of GDP and this declined to 0.6 percent in the following year, 2011. Compared with neighbor countries our net FDI was the worst and almost sick situation. Our neighbors did much better: Singapore 25.1%, Vietnam 6.2%, Malaysia 4.3%, Thailand 2.8% and Indonesia 2.2%.

In the measure of impact of the FDI to population or per capita shares, it will tell a clearer picture of the cause of our economic woes. On this measure, our FDI per capita is lowest at US$ 13.3 while Singapore registered the highest at US$ 12,347.00.

These figures covering the period ended 2011. Three years after, when poverty incidence has gone up and prices of basic goods and services have hit the ceiling, this situation could be lot worse.

The first look at our numbers will not encourage serious investors to come in. discouragement will set in when they find out why we are the cellar. The reason is massive corruption that has worsened during the Aquino administration.

It’s corruption, stupid!
Pulling down interest and trust by foreign investors in our country and national leadership are several reasons: high cost of electricity, lack of infrastructure and worsening peace and order and corruption.

While corruption is last in the list of reasons, it is the principal cause of reasons the country is losing the trust of investors.

The cost of electricity in the Philippines being highest in Asia and second highest in the world can be traced to massive corruption in the highest offices of the land, from Malacañang to Congress, down to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

On infrastructure, the national leadership has turned over this responsibility to the private sector. From supply of power, to supply of water, to use of roads, to building of transport, and airports, these are all now being given out to private investors.

It’s rape!
Our national leaders call this Public-Private Partnership or PPP. This is one marriage that was intended to legitimize rape.

How else would one describe a situation like what the Filipinos are going through now. Before privatization, cost of electricity was one of the lowest in Asia, roads were free to use, cost of water was affordable and cost of living allowed free money to spend outside of the essentials.

The national economy is now controlled by forty families. Eighty percent of national wealth is owned by 10 percent of the population. Ninety percent share the remaining 20 percent of national wealth. This situation has led to daily “rape” of every poor Filipino’s right to a decent living.

Now we have to pay for use of highways we call toll roads. The national leadership intentionally stopped building big roads to the big city to justify entry of toll roads.

Planned robbery
What happened to cost of electricity and cost in use of roads are examples of well planned grand robbery. Government neglected building new power stations while neglecting national roads, stirring consumers to demand for better services. Privatization became the only solution, offering lower cost that never happened and, worse, cost doubled if not tripled.

Government leaders said privatization saves the government of funding services that are obligations of government. These government duties are supposed to be supported by our taxes. This cost transfer led to savings that allowed Malacañang to “steal” Php177 Billion for DAP and tens of billions for PDAF.

Theft came from many points: at the privatization arrangement when investors would show interest and put his money where his mouth is. Second, at the national budget that would have been spent for these basic services given to the private group. This savings turns out be pork barrel of Malacañang, in the case of Aquino is Php177 Billion in two years, misappropriated and misspent.

Even when privatization became a solution to our infrastructure needs, still serious investors are saying the country is short of what are needed to gain their trust.

One leading complaint is our problem in communications. Even when Smart earns billions of pesos for Manny V. Pangilinan and Globe has multiplied several folds the billions of the Ayalas, the foreign groups are not still happy with our communications system.

Truth is not only the foreign investors are complaining but the locales are also complaining of being short changed by these telecom companies.

Privatization not free
Privatization is not free to the taxpayers. In 2012, President Aquino gave the DOTC Php8.6 Billion and the DPWH Php3 Billion for the preparation of business cases, pre-feasibility studies and feasibility studies for various PPP ventures.

In inviting private sector participation, the government waives many requirements that would have earned the national treasury billions of pesos. Of course these exemptions are always suspect to be products of under-the-table negotiations that line up the pockets of government executives and legislators.

The sum total of reasons this country will not move forward and bring economic relief to the poor is we have elected officials who serve the interests of their masters and not the interests of the people. We have national leaders who boldly steal, unmindful of constitution and laws, as if the public does not exist.

The “theft” of Php177 billion by Malacañang is just a symptom of a more serious malady. The effect of this disease is a society that will always be abused and used to enrich further enrich the billionaires and make new millionaires of those we trust to lead our government. This is because we have elected thieves to run our government.

ALVIN TAN: Helping Filipino Consumers Find Good Food Online

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People who love to dine out and eat out with their friends and families know about Munchpunch, the food search site spearheaded by Alvin Tan. Most people have probably used this website to get some information on a new restaurant that they would like to visit, to look at the menu and how much on average would it cost per person to dine there.

Before becoming the CEO of a leading foodie resource in restaurants and food establishments, General Santos native Alvin Tan worked as a developer for a local start-up company.

Alvin Tan joined his co-founder Howell Hay as the lead technical person of a software development ship they had decided to put up. It was only later that they realized that they wanted to build their own products, which was the reason they rebooted the company – which then became Exponencia, Inc., the company behind Munchpunch.

Munchpunch is the leading online portal for food in the country, whereas it houses menus, branches and even reviews on restaurants within and outside Metro Manila. It provides the easiest way of finding restaurants, caterers and food providers as well as menus and top deals and promos in the food industry.

Munchpunch came about during the time that Tan and Hay were in the midst of brainstorming for ideas for a new product, when they noticed menu flyers stacked up at their office.

“That’s how the idea of aggregating menus came about,” says Tan. “It was initially for food delivery alone but it has evolved into a menu search engine for any food establishment.”

The initial concept was something similar to Citi Delivery, where they were able to develop an automated software to help with the actual deliveries. The difficulties faced though were getting some of the restaurants to conform to procedures.

Eventually, Alvin initiated starting using Munchpunch more for menus and dining out which redirected the focus and purpose of the site.

Among the challenges Tan and Hay faced on launching Munchpunch was in how to get menus and additional content and their lack of clients and resources.

Getting additional content for the site was a manual process where they would have to get information from the restaurants. Although after a certain point, restaurants began approaching them.

During the first three years, Alvin says they had no revenue and had to rely on Google ads. Because the ads weren’t bringing in a lot of revenue, they had to rely on interns to save on costs.

Revenue now comes in through ads and the VIP Menu subscription.

Alvin says the challenges taught him to “do things faster, test them right away since you’d never get anything done if you were to wait for everything to become perfect.”

If there’s one thing that Alvin wished he could have done differently, it is that he shouldn’t have held back and believed in himself more. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to follow their hearts and believe in their abilities.

The biggest milestone Munchpunch attained was getting from zero to 1.3 million views per month.

“A great way to help increase readers or viewers for your site is to make sure that you are focused on a specific topic so that when people would talk about it, it will be your brand that would be their top of mind recall.” Alvin adds.

Munchpunch managed to grow through proper coding and SEO. Alvin says they’ve also given out stickers and goodies, but SEO has been the most effective method for growing the site.

His advice to people who want to get into the start-up game?

“Start small with a niche idea but research the target market size in advance”, he says.

Asked what was next for Munchpunch, Alvin says they are working on improving the VIP Menu for the restaurants they are working with. They are also looking into corporate tie-ups.