Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Aklan Lakas Supports GMA Not To Resign

Aklan Lakas CMD through former SP member RODSON F. MAYOR, Secretary General expressed full support to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to follow the legal and constitutional process and not to resign.
Mayor said, that GMA was elected by the sovereign people to serve and has the duty to carry on the mandate reposed upon her by the sovereign people to defend and uphold the constitution and not to be cowed by the marchers on the street who do not even reflect a percent of the 84 million population.
Aklanons hail the decision of President Arroyo in defending and upholding the legal process and constitution by her firm stand not to resign as a display of strong leadership and political will.
Meanwhile, Mayor, expressed dismay at the action of former President Cory Aquino in asking GMA to resign and add fuel to the present street turmoil, instead of helping calm down the protesters and encouraging them to follow the legal process and the rule of law.
According to Mayor, the former President does not have the legal and moral right to ask for the resignation of President Arroyo who was elected by the people.
Mayor stressed that former President Aquino who did not carry the mandate of the people as she was not elected President but installed by people power in 1986 did not bother to resign, despite the clamor for her resignation and the 7 coup attempts where several people died.
In former President Aquino’s time, she was abandoned by her Vice President, the late Salvador Laurel and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the principal actors that installed former President Aquino to the presidency. If the former President did not resign during her time when she was not elected by the people, but installed by people power, and was also abandoned by her close allies, then she has no legal and moral right to ask President Arroyo to resign.
On the other hand, Tibyog It Akean has approved a proposal to call for the immediate resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the Presidency. This was announced by former Congressman Allen S. Quimpo last week during a radio interview with Kaibahang Butz Maquinto in his program “Elitsahan”. According to Atty. Quimpo, the call for Arroyo resignation was approved during the Tibyog meeting held in Buruanga, Aklan last week.
However, Governor Carlito S. Marquez in his speech on July 11 during the induction of officers of the Boys Scouts of the Philippines, Aklan Council, he was one of the signatories of the resolution of the League of Provincial Governors strongly supporting the Presidency of President Arroyo and urging her not to resign her position. “I am a member of Lakas CMD,” Gov. Marquez declared. /MP http://madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

World Bank To Issue General Rules On Remittance Flow

The World Bank (WB) will release this month its general principles for international remittance systems as it and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) attempt to capture migrant workers’ money flowing through informal channels.
In her presentation at a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand last May, WB official Marilou Uy cited that a WB unit is crafting the general principles governing countries’ policies on remittances.
The presentation of Uy, WB director for financial sector operations and policy, was titled “The Role of Public Policy and Remittances”. It was presented to more than a hundred financial executives in Bangkok during the second Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) policy dialogue held May 26-27. The dialogue on the role of the private sector in shifting from informal to formal remittance systems comes after the WB released a report, Global Development Finance 2003, saying remittances have become an important and stable source of financial inflows to developing countries.
Uy’s paper defined remittances as the sum of workers’ remittances, compensation of employees, and migrant transfers. Citing the World Bank’s Global Development Finance 2005 report, Uy’s presented that inflows to developing countries reached beyond $120 billion end-2004 from less than $40 billion in 1990.
In his presentation, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., one of three speakers from the Philippines in the conference, presented that from $6 billion in the year 2000, OFW remittances hit $8.54 billion in 2004, which is 52.65 percent of the country’s gross international reserves and roughly 14 percent of the Philippines’s gross domestic product.
Espenilla’s presentation also cited five key regulatory challenges in OFW remittance flows which are: 1. money laundering channels, 2. low transaction cost, convenience and access, 3. consumer protection, 4. operational risk management, and 5. proper recording and monitoring.
Uy’s presentation emphasized the international lender’s seriousness in tackling the issue of remittances, so much so that the WB’s Global Economic Prospects 2006 for release this year would center on international remittances and migration.
Key Issues
A KEY issue the WB considers in its policy recommendation is reducing remittance costs through improved financial systems and infrastructure.
“Reducing remittance fees is likely to increase annual remittance flows to developing countries”. “To date, remittance costs remain regressive and high on average,” Uy pointed out.
On the average, sending money to the Philippines and Mexico through Moneygram and Western Union is higher compared to sending it through other remittance firms. According to Uy, sending $100 through Moneygram and Western Union to the Philippines from the US exacts above 14 percent in fees compared to other remittance firms that charge below that range. However, the two firms are charging less for every $1,000 remittances sent to Mexico from the US compared to other remittance companies.
Another key issue for public policy on remittances is the regulatory regime for anti-money laundering and financing terrorism. This was emphasized by IMF’s Chee Sung Lee, that remittance flows are an important source of external funds for many countries, “such flows may go through informal systems.”
“Informal remittance providers may pose a particular risk of misuse for ML and the financing of terrorism (FT),” Chee added.
“The regulatory regime needs to introduce ways of ensuring financial integrity without unnecessarily reducing access to remittance services,” Uy said.
Basically, Uy said, “policymakers should understand and enhance the development impact of remittance.”
This key issue comes from the WB’s belief that remittances directly reduce the severity of poverty, smooth consumption, and affect household investments in education, health, land and housing.
Her data cited that with remittances in the denominator, the Philippines’ debt as percent of exports would only hit below $151 billion, the amount of debt as percent of exports the Philippines would have without remittances in the calculation.
The fourth key issue for public policy focuses on improving data on remittances and migration as “reliable data on remittances are keys to our understanding of their development impact.” /MP http://madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

Entrepreneurial Farmer

The VAT Reform Law or Republic Act 9337 after its approval was implemented on July 1, 2005. However, the following day, July 2, its implementation was stopped in view of the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
However, it is anticipated that very soon the Supreme Court will come out of its decision and may go with the approval and implementation of the RA 9337. On that basis, the Department of Trade and Industry has launched a “campaign to education on the VAT and its impact on the prices of basic commodities.”
The DTI and other government agencies has stepped up its price monitoring activities to ensure that prices are within reach by consumers and prevent unscrupulous businessmen from taking advantage of the law.
In Kalibo, Aklan, the Provincial Local Price Coordinating Council held a meeting last Wednesday afternoon, July 13 and discussed the VAT Reform Law, its implementation and the benefits derive out of the law. Ms. Lilivic Minguez – Gatdula, BIR District Revenue Officer of Aklan gave a briefing on VAT Reform Law.
Governor Carlito S. Marquez was represented by Atty. Diego M. Luces to the meeting. Ms. Ermelinda P. Pollentes, DTI Aklan Provincial Director in her closing statements discussed the monitoring on the states of supplies and prices her office is doing to ensure availability of basic commodities and maintain stable prices.
The Civil Service Commission will deny request for information regarding the grade of any examinee to a CSC test unless the interested party goes personally to the CSC office in Kalibo, Aklan. “Inquiry of grades by telephone will not be attended to, “said Ms. Evelyn Ejor, Director II of CSC in Kalibo, Aklan. She is not also allowed to release to the media the names of the successful examinees of the civil service test.
According to Director Ejar, her office is prohibited to release the list of names of civil service test passers by telephone. To get the result of one’s test, he must go to her office. “The names of successful examinees are in a CD. We have no master list unlike before,” Ms. Ejar declared. “Once an interested person is in our office and will request for the result of the test, the computer will be opened and scan for the names or name,” Ms. Ejar added.
This Civil Service Commission rule is dictatorial and a strong defiance of the principle of transparency. This impedes access to information as it prevents media both print and broadcast to publish and broadcast respectively names of successful candidates in the examination.
The Civil Service Commission does not understand the waste of money, time and effort in going to its offices just to know the result of the examination. The CSC does not understand the use of high information technology now available in the Philippines specifically in Aklan. The CSC fails to realize the expenses wasted in opening and shutting off its computers every time a client personally requests for his grade. The CSC did not understand how many man hours its personnel will spend to attend personally to the request of the examinees.
This personal appearance policy of the CSC is so antiquated and a great defiance of modern technology. Today, there are E – mail, E – market, E – ticket. But the Civil Service Commission uses the antiquated method of information technology with a view to withhold information from the media.
In my conversation with Director Ejar, she assured me that she will transmit my views on the above stated matter to the higher level management of the Civil Service Commission with the view to enhance ease in the release of grades.

PGMA has terribly divided the beloved country, the Republic of the Philippine. Because of her “Hello Garci” tape and the Jueteng Payola, the country has been chopped. The Roman Catholic are divided, the members of the Cabinet, students and teachers, businessmen, cause oriented and religious groups are divided, professional organizations are divided.
In Aklan, Governor Carlito S. Marquez is in the same side with Mr. Rodson Mayor. Former Cong. Atty. Allen S. Quimpo is with the Gloria Resign movement. However, Tibyog which Atty. Quimpo organized is for the constitutional process. But that is not enough for Ibajay Mayor Roberto M. Garcia, Jr., president of the Aklan Mayor’s League has declared full support to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
PGMA has survived the July 8 storm. How long will she hold? Let us wait as history unfolds. /MP http://madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

A & E: Alternative Learning System

Mrs. Perfetua Z. Isagan routinely handles a basic education class for a motley group of youngsters at Kalibo Pilot Elem. School (KPES). Her current crop of 12 entrants (18 last year) is part of the program of DepEd called Alternative Learning System (ALS) under RA 9155 otherwise known as Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001 which aims to provide a viable alternative to the existing formal education instruction encompassing both the nonformal and informal sources of knowledge and skills.
DepEd Memo No. 409 S. of 2004 signed by Sec. Florencio B. Abad renamed the Bureau of Non – formal Education to Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS).
BALS is mandated to: a) address the learning needs of marginalized groups of the population including the deprived, depressed and underserved citizens, b) coordinate with various agencies for skills development to enhance and ensure continuing employability, efficiency, productivity and competitiveness in the labor market, c) ensure the expansion of access to educational opportunities for citizens of different interests, capabilities, demographic characteristics and socio – economic origins and status, and d) promote certification and accreditation of alternative learning programs both formal and informal in nature for basic education.
Mrs. Isagan is not a bit perturbed by heterogeneous level of educational attainment of her ward. She has a student said to be a fourth grader but has reverted to functional illiteracy after 6 – 7 years. Another is a second year high schooler but left school for the last three years. Reasons given for quiting school are poverty, family and psychological problems (slow learners and physically handicapped). With ALS, students are offered rare opportunity to equip themselves with mental, social and physical development without feeling the stigma and skepticism attached to adult literacy programs.
Students who are absent from daily classes due to work pressure may by arrangement opt for home study learning modules that are very practical and helpful. Convenient target of ALS are young housewives and household assistants who have time at their disposal. “If there’s any success for me, it is the realization that formal education is extended free to marginalized sectors of society.” Mrs. Isagan declared.
An important program of ALS is Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) test which gives out – of school youth opportunity to secure either elementary or high school certificate to qualify them for enrolment in the next level of education or employment. This annual event is staged at KPES, one of 32 testing centers in the entire country.
Mrs. Amelia M. Pastrana – Lim, Education Supervisor I, said that “of the 156 examinees who took the A & E test last February 20, 2005, 9 or 5.76 percent hurdled the test for secondary level. For elementary, 4 out of 20 or 20 percent passed the test. Among the secondary qualifiers are from KPES namely: Glerybe C. Ambay and Cherry P. Peralta. District Supervisor Pablito T. Ipadala beams with pride that two of their ALS graduates on skills training are now employed at Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Hospital and another in Singapore. Both are accomplished dressmakers.
District ALS Coordinator Isagan follows a hectic and demanding schedule of teaching instruction: Monday (AM) – English, Tuesday (AM) – Filipino, Wednesday (AM) – Science, Thursday – Division Office (no class), Friday (whole day) – skills training on Dressmaking, Tailoring or Electricity (TESDA). The afternoons are devoted entirely to Mathematics. Supervisory jobs are made in 7 barangays where ALS are implemented. These are Elem. Schools of New Buswang, Andagao, Pook, Caano, Nalook, Gen. F. Castillo and Briones, all in Kalibo.
Non – formal education has long been operationalized by DepEd for the last 25 years. It has significantly contributed to the improvement of the educational status and vocational skills of marginalized learners. Funding for materials and equipment like tables, chairs and cabinet is surprisingly non – existent forcing mentors to solicit from Sangguniang Panlalawigan members and LGU.
Fortunately, Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo of Kalibo is among those avid supporters and leading advocates of the program. Mrs. Isagan avers that in several instances, she was generous with the needs of poor students like notebook, ballpen, and ID picture. “You have to understand their inadequacies and concerns hence this personal sacrifice on my part”, she said.
This bureaucratic oversight must be properly addressed to by DepEd in coordination with LGU’s to achieve targets in the face of meager resources and rising public expectations. Lackluster performance in A & E test on examinees this year only proved utter government neglect and prejudice. Any educational investment for out – of school youth and adult learners would have a profound effect since they are part of our precious human resource. Making them productive members of society can have tremendous impact on themselves and to the whole community. /MPhttp://madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

Boracay Environmental Fee Cut Down To P30

The Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Malay agreed to reduce the proposed P50 environmental fee to P30 for tourists entering Boracay after a consultation with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members over the weekend at Caticlan Jetty Port.
“The environmental fee will be used exclusively for environmental programs and projects in Boracay. The proceeds will be deposited in a trust fund to sustain the resort-island as the top tourist destination in the country,” said Vice Mayor Floribar Baustista. Aklan SP member Plaridel Morania, committee chairman on environmental protection, said, “all stakeholders should share their part to protect Boracay Island, but the imposition of the regulatory fee should be reasonable. If excessive, it might hinder the progress of the island.”
“The tourists might go to other places if the fee collected is exorbitant. The local government of Malay, for regulatory purposes, deemed that a reasonable fee should be collected and spent for the protection of the national treasure of the county,” stressed Morania.
Vice Governor Ronquillo C. Tolentino, who presided the consultation, said that “the idea of the P50 environmental fee is not fixed and we have to make certain arrangements to allow the passage of the ordinances of Malay.”
For her part, Malay SB member Julieta Aron pointed out that, “the environmental fee is the answer to protect the degradation of the island. This is meant for a tourist to make his/her share in the protection of Boracay.”
The Malay local government is expecting some P27-million proceeds from the environmental fee designed to partly finance the acquisition of a P9-million sanitary landfill in Sitio Bacolod at Barangay Caticlan, Malay.
Hon. Ramon Gelito, SP committee member on transportation, Hon. Gerick Templonuevo, SP committee member on tourism, and SB members Ralf Tolosa and Nolasco Claud attended the consultation.


But Aklan SP member Selwyn Ibarreta questioned the implementation of the ordinance. He said, “it might open a floodgate of legal actions if the term ‘tourist’ is not well defined and differentiated to that of Aklanon and non-Aklanon guests. This ordinance should be studied first to keep away conflict in the future.” Ibarreta is the chair of laws, rules and ordinances committee.
Under the proposed ordinance, ‘non-Aklanon guest’ is defined as any person who does not reside, without abode or without any family or ancestor in Aklan.
“I think this is the first time in the country that an environmental fee is being charged to tourist. We should resolve if Aklanons are exempted or be given discounts only since all tourists, even if they are Aklanons or non-Aklanons, contribute to the garbage problem of the island,” Malay Vice Mayor Bautista said.
Morania, for his part, recommended the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) with the inclusion of the NGOs in the island to study the ordinance that includes giving discounts to senior citizens, students and group tours.
Max Zurbito, consultant of Boracay Association of Resorts, Restaurants and Independent Allies (BARRIA) said, “his group is not objecting to the proposal of the local government for fund-raising activities, but local officials should not collect the environmental fee not stated in the Local Government Code.”
However, Vice Governor Tolentino clarified that “the purpose of environmental fee is regulatory and not a tax ordinance as claimed by BARRIA.”
“We consider the initiatives of the private sector like BARRIA in the development of Boracay and the desire of the government of Malay to protect the environment of Boracay,” Tolentino acknowledged.
Instead of the environmental fee, BARRIA is proposing to charge 5 percent to resorts and establishments based on occupancy rooms of staying tourists. Proceeds of which should be remitted to the local government for environmental projects.
Engr. Susan Trinidad, executive director of Boracay Foundation, Inc. supported the proposed P30 environmental fee, but she suggested the creation of a management board to monitor the disbursements of the fees collected. /MP madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

Gemarino Heads NFA Aklan

The new manager of NFA Aklan is Mr. Pablito G. Gamarino.
Former Manager Sergio A. Balofiños, Jr. turned over the command and responsibility to Provincial Manager Pablito G. Gemarino during the simple turnover ceremony held recently at NFA Office, Linabuan Sur, Banga, Aklan.
PM Gemarino is a public servant returnee to Aklan. He was in Aklan way back in May 22, 1996 as head of the NFA Aklan until January 5, 1998. “I am happy to be back and to work again with dependable employees. I’m confident that with your support and cooperation, we can work together as a team for the effective and efficient delivery of NFA services to the public.”
PM Balofiños expressed his sincere thanks to all employees for his fruitful management of NFA Aklan for one year, six months and five days. “Aklan will remain special and memorable for me and my family.” It was during his field assignment in Aklan that God surprised him and his family with a great reward. His son, Dr. Junnel passed the Medical Board Licensure Examination in February 2004 and placed No. 2 out of 948 MB passers. Dr. Junnel Balofiños is a promising young doctor and PM Balofiños shared this happiness with NFA Aklan. He is now assigned in the same capacity in NFA Capiz.
The turn over ceremonies was witnessed by NFA – COA headed by Auditor Loda Pongyan. Her message inspired the honorees. Words of thanks and gratefulness were expressed for outgoing Manager Balofiños for his support and cooperation extended with high degree of professionalism. Auditor Pongyan assured a supportive and harmonious working partnership with PM Gemarino. “Just pray and think positively that every new assignment will make us better citizens and continue working to help this nation. Let us consider it as a new opportunity to fulfill the vision and mission tasked to us.”
Adm. Gregorio Y. Tan, Jr. issued Special Order which also covers the re – assignment of other mangers in Region VI as follows: PM Gil Ibarra from NFA Capiz to NFA Negros Occidental; PM Marianito Bejemino from NFA Antique to NFA Negros Oriental; PM Hedy Jardeleza remains in NFA Iloilo; PM Procopio Trabajo II from NFA Misamis Oriental to NFA Antique. The periodic re – assignment among executives and officials in the NFA organization is done for the best interest of the service.
Gemarino started his NFA service in May 1, 1975 in Negros Occidental in the Registration and Licensing Section as Aide. His qualifications, potentials and dedication to duty earned for him promotions as Operations Officer, Sr. Operations Officer, Warehouse Supervisor II, Asst. Provincial Manager and Provincial Manager of NFA Capiz on January 22, 1991. He was previously assigned in NFA Antique, NFA Iloilo, NFA Biliran, NFA Samar and NFA Negros Oriental.
Gemarino, 56 years old is a native of Guimbal, Iloilo. He studied in Central Philippine University in Iloilo City, and finished AB – Political Science. He is happily married to Socorro Guerrero – Gemarino, a nurse. They are blessed with four children who are Quennie Fritzie, Darwin, Coreen Paulette, and Cashmere and a grand daughter, Paula. Gemarino is a lawn tennis enthusiast. /MP http://madyaas_pen @yahoo.com @yahoo.com

DTI Notes Price Increase of Aklan Commodities

There is sufficient supply of commodities in Aklan now but owing to the recent school opening and higher purchase price brought about by higher manufacturing and transportation costs, some school supplies and other important goods have significantly increased in prices.
This assessment is based in the Quarterly Price Monitoring Report of Provincial Director Ermilinda P. Pollentes of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Some brands of pad papers, composition notebooks, spiral notebooks, pencils and ballpens registered significant increases in prices, the report stated.
A piece of Mongol Pencil was P4.50. Now, its price is P4.75. Harton Pencil cost P2.25 each last month, now it sells at P2.50. Brands like Sunny, Victory and Faber Castell had no price increase.
Among ballpens, Uni and Panda increased prices while Reynold’s, HBW and Avanti had no price increase. Of the five top brands of pad papers from Grades I – IV 90 leaves, Universal pad increased its price per pad from P4.75 a month ago to P5.00 now, while Merit, sold last month for P11.25 per pad is now P12.00. Topline, Global and Advance brands did not raise its prices. Intermediate pads price is as is.
Most brands of composition and spiral notebooks have insignificant prices increases of less than a peso per piece.
Prices of five brands of 155 grams canned sardines – 555, Asahi, Family, Ligo and Mega, powder – filled milk, some brands of coffee like Nescafe 25 gms and Great Taste remain stable.
Among detergent bars, only Surf increased its price from P14.75 last month to P15.30 now. Prices of other brands remained the same. Tide bar even lowered its price from P23.00 per bar last month to P22.75.
Most brands of iodized salt had price increase not higher than one peso. Refined sugar, however, now costs P29.35 per kilogram from P28.10 last month, while brown sugar is now sold at P22 from P21 last month.
All brands of 25 kg. hard flour increased in prices ranging from P3.00 to P7.00 per bag. Soft flour increased by as much as four to six peso per 25 kg. bag.
Prices of the three brands of noodles: Maggi, Payless and Nissin’s Ramen did not increase.
The prevailing prices and supplies of construction materials could not be compared with last month’s due to unavailability of previous reports.
According to Mr. Rene Retiro of DTI – Aklan, supplies and prices of some six 6 schools and office supplies stores were monitored which are: 10 construction supply establishments and 10 grocery stores in Kalibo. /MP http://madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Bloody Wednesday, June 29

June 29, 2005 will remain in the history of Aklan as a bloody day. Aklan’s schools division superintendent Dr. Arthur S. Juada was brutally killed, Aklan Consultant on Coastal Resource Management Kai Kulhman was shot and wounded, his wife Maria Kulman was also shot and killed in a fishfarm in Cabugao, Batan and the jailbreak of two inmates wounding three jail guards before they escaped at Aklan Rehabilitation Center, Nalook, Kalibo.
Dr. Arthur Juada was brutally killed by still unknown assailant at about past 8:00 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, June 29.
He died of 26 stab wounds in room No. 216 at Puntal Villa Beach Resort Arevalo, Iloilo City. Dr. Juada was last seen eating his breakfast at about 6:30 A.M. that day. At past 8:00 A.M. the room boy of the hotel saw a dead body sprawled inside room 216 which was later identified as that of Dr. Juada. According to the police, Dr. Juada died of 26 stab wounds. His dead body lay naked on the floor, between the two beds in his room. His cellphone, watch and other jewelries were missing. His wallet was recovered but empty of any amount of money.
His death until this writing remains a mystery. The police are still trying to establish the motive of the killing and who killed Dr. Juada.
Dr. Juada was in Iloilo City to attend the Early Child Care Development Seminar sponsored by DSWD and DepEd.
In Cabugao Batan, Aklan, a German national Kay Kulman was shot and wounded while his wife Maria Paz Kulman instantly died of gun shots. The shooting happened in midday in a fishfarm.
The suspect Mr. Rogelio Torralba voluntarily surrendered to the police in the afternoon of the same day. He is from Dumangas, Iloilo and now residing in Cabugao, Batan.
In the Aklan Rehabilitation Center, Nalook, Kalibo, Aklan, two inmates escaped at about 6:30 P.M. on Wednesday, June 29. Inmates Saldy Magaslang and Gari Sultan forcedly went out of Cell No. 3, went to the guard house and shot the guards on duty before they climbed the jail fence and vanished in the dark. They also lobbed a fermentation grenade which did not explode.
Jail Guard Ramy Fernandez suffered a wound on the left side of his body. Jail Guard Edgar Bonifacio was wounded at the back of his body and left arm and Jail Guard Raul Silverio was wounded on his hip. The guard were unable to return fire.
The escapes took place just after dinner. Inmate Nolly Nabor was out of the cell. When he entered it, the two: Gari Sultan and Saldy Magaslang instantly went out. The police are still haunting for the two jail escapees. /MP mailto:madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

Where Is: “Mamamayan Muna, Hindi Mamaya Na?”

By Ernesto T. Solidum
The on – going government crackdown against corrupt officials in the defense, finance and public works departments deserve the highest accolade and support. They are aptly called economic saboteurs that sap the strength and vitality of the nation. It is hard to believe that lifestyle checks of some key public officials would reveal assets amounting to multi million pesos manifested as luxury cars, condominiums, dollar bank accounts and choice real estates. That these were acquired in a brief span of time victimizing the recipients for whom the projects are intended and the taxpayers from whom money was collected. Hence, prostituting the government service.
Section 1 of Implementing Rules of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713) mentions that “the State shall promote a standard of ethics (not lifestyle) in public service. Public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence and loyalty; act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives and uphold public interest over personal interest.”
Curiously, flag ceremony ritual executed by government employees weekly includes above all pledge of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. But, how many of those concerned take to heart the noble intention and aspirations that a public officer will honestly and unselfishly serve his countrymen? How many have actually gone out of their way to welcome and inquire their office guests/visitors to assist them of their problem out of simple courtesy? This campaign on office courtesy is waged by Civil Service Commission in the mid 1980’s. Presently too bad this “Mamamayan Muna, Hindi Mamaya Na” has fizzled out and a big failure..
The World Bank reported that 30 percent of our annual budget is lost due to graft. This means that 1.3 million government employees are prime suspects. They are subjects to methodical lifestyle check based on physical assets and countrystyle living as against declared assets and liabilities. It appears that the Office of Ombudsman is found wanting in its job. At least the Estrada graft case is languishing since 2001. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Grafters/crooks and all forms of corruptions have multiplied in recent years as underpaid government employees have to cope with rising cost of living. In rural areas, a head of family needs to earn at least P9,000/ month to be above the poverty level. For a school teacher receiving P10,000/month with net take home pay is only P8,275 hence, falling into the poverty trap. Public perception is that jueteng, prostitution and illegal drugs proliferate simply because politicians and law enforcers connive in perfect silence.
This is corroborated in a report in poverty stricken Southeastern Anhue province of China in 1994. With a population of 56 million, 300,000 of its civil servants were found guilty of embezzling money from government coffers. Punishments included public execution, harsh imprisonment and fines. Corruption comes with power. The more a person has, the more he can be corrupted and in big amounts.
It is underscored that there still exist a remnant of civil servants untainted by graft. They are the unsung heroes, those whose moral integrity and honesty are above par. However, due to economic and political considerations a thorough house cleaning is in order. Pressing need is to remove the misfits and bad eggs in the bloated bureaucracy. Thereafter, must be a moral regeneration drive on Filipino values and commitment to the ideal. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Ambrosio R. Villorente
Philhealth Calls Govt. Retirees Non – Paying Members
Among the clients of Philhealth are the retired government employees. These are the people who spent the best years of their lives in government service. After long, dedicated and honest works for the people via the government offices, they are retired either under the optional or compulsory retirement law.
A government worker who has served the government for not less than 20 years may avail of optional retirement. A government employee who reaches age 65 will retire under compulsory retirement law.
While serving the government, part of the monthly salary is subtracted for payment of health insurance with Philhealth. Hence, long before a government employee retires, he has started paying his health insurance and immediately after his retirement, Philhealth is also fully paid of his premium. Since a government employee started paying his insurance premium, Philhealth also is using the money collected.
Well and good, but after government employee retired, he also stopped paying the health insurance with Philhealth. In case he gets sick, part of expenses are reimbursed by Philhealth. Well and good too.
What is bad, even worst and very degrading to the retired government employees is: Philhealth calls them “NON – PAYING” members. This is not only very humiliating but also degrading. Philhealth must have called them “PRE – PAID” members but not “non – paying” for government retired employees have paid Philhealth a good part of their income while serving the government.
Philhealth must change “non – paying” to another better term. Do the present officials and employees like to be called “non – paying” members of Philhealth after their retirement?
Some reactions were received after EF predicted in this column the farmers will soon be boneless if the prices of farm products remain as is while the cost of production continuously increases.
Here is a reaction from a member of a Sangguniang Bayan who engages also in farming. “I have a luxurious papaya plants loaded with fruits”, he related.
“One time, a rich but not very rich person who can well afford to buy things he likes asked me to give him some green papaya fruits.” “I obliged. I harvested some fruits and gave him. He did not offer to pay but said “thank you very much”.
I told him before we parted: I accept your thank you but you should have honored the farmers and recognized the role they perform as food producers of the nation if you have offered to pay the papaya. By asking for free the farmer’s produce is an insult to them for you give no value to the effort of the farmers to produce food like the papaya.
I agree. Manufactured products are not free even in its respective factory, more so with industrial. No hardware store gives free even one piece of nail to anybody. Everybody buys it. On the other hand, farmer’s products like sweet potato, tapioca and papaya are usually asked for free. Fruits like santol are secured for free. This is not recognition of the farmer’s effort and a disincentive to them.
The June 24, 2005 monitoring report of DTI – Aklan said “supply of commodities monitored is sufficient and prices remain stable except for some school supplies which prices increased significantly.”
EMCOR has removed its motorcycles display in Martelino Street. It has widened the lane for vehicles. However, the display is just on the sidewalk for the pedestrian to hardly pass.
The ambulant vendors have moved out of Toting Reyes Street, they made good their promise to Kalibo Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo to leave Toting Reyes Street and move to Oyo Torong site on June 20, 2005.
However, the Dried Up Sooc Neighborhood Association, Inc. has filed an “Omnibus Motion for the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and For The Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order With Motion and Prayer to Cite and Declare the Hon. Raymar A. Rebaldo, Mayor of the Municipality of Kalibo in Contempt of Court.”
According to the petition, Special Proceeding No. 6903, the present location is now the subject of litigation in the Court, Branch 8, Regional Trial Court, Kalibo, Aklan. /MPmailto:madyaas_pen@yahoo.com

Feud Between Two Ilonggo Leaders Affects Pres. GMA

By Alex P. Vidal
It is sad that just when Mrs. Arroyo needs them most, two of the prominent national leaders who are both Ilonggos, are not in good speaking terms politically.
We refer to Senate President Franklin Drilon of Molo, Iloilo City and Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez of Jaro, Iloilo City. The two political titans, both brilliant lawyers, figured prominently in a recent debate regarding the coming out of several witnesses against jueteng operations in Luzon who linked Pres. Arroyo’s son, Rep. Mickey and brother-in-law, Rep. Ignacio.
Their clash started when Gonzalez warned witnesses they could be charged with perjury if they could not substantiate their allegations against the family of the President. Gonzalez’s statement did not sit well with Drilon who scored the former congressman of the lone district of Iloilo City for “scaring away” potential witnesses.
Drilon’s criticism of Gonzalez’s opinion triggered an avalanche of condemnation from the opposition which chided Gonzalez and demanded for his resignation as DOJ secretary.
But before Gonzalez could fire back at Drilon and the Gonzalez bashers, a more nerve-tingling issue cropped up: the “Hello Garci” scandal featuring Pres. Arroyo herself and Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano (assuming that they are the phone pals in the taped conversation, Pres. GMA has apologized but did not confirm if it was Garcillano who’s in the tape).
Both Drilon and Gonzalez are actually political rivals in Iloilo City. Drilon backed former Mayor Mansueto Malabor for congressman against Gonzalez’s son, Raul, Jr., in the May 10, 2004 elections.
Although Raul, Jr. edged Malabor by the skin of the teeth, Drilon continues to show his displeasure toward the father Gonzalez. In the Commission on Appointments (CA), it is rumored that Drilon intentionally placed Sen. Panfilo Lacson, an arch critic of the DOJ secretary, as the chairman in order “to make life difficult” for Gonzalez who has been bypassed twice in a row.
If Pres. Arroyo will not reappoint Gonzalez owing to the repeated rejection by the CA, Gonzalez will certainly take it against his fellow Ilonggo Drilon, who is reportedly rooting for another appointee from another region just in case Gonzalez will be ousted.
The power play between the two powerful political figures in the country has, in one way or the other, also affected Pres. Arroyo, who is now facing the most difficult battle in her quest to keep her presidency amid calls from different sectors for her to step down.
If both gentlemen are united, they could gather their strengths and minds together and best protect Mrs. Arroyo. Sadly, they have become part of the excess baggage rather than part of the president’s defense walls. /MP

EDITORIAL - June 26-July 02,2005

Is PGMA On The Way Out?
Last night, June 27, 2005, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo broke her silence after three weeks of mounting pressure to speak out, over the famous “Hello Garci” tape.
She started with: “Mga minamahhal kong kababayan”. “For the last several weeks, the issue of the tape recordings has spun out of control…You deserve an explanation from me because you are the people I was elected to serve.”
“I was anxious to protect my votes and during that time had conversations with many people including a Comelec official.” Here, she accepted, PGMA talked with many people including a Comelec official but did not exactly name Mr. Garcillano with whom she is alluded talking to within a wiretapped telephone conversation.
“My intent was not to influence the outcome of the election, and it did not…The election had already been decided and the votes counted,” PGMA pointed out.
“I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment. I’m sorry. I also regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter. I take full responsibility for my actions and to you and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events.” He, PGMA accepted her call to Comelec official and other people regarding the outcome of the election was a “lapse in judgment” and she apologized for it.
Is an apology of the deemed learned President of the Philippines enough to rebuild the Philippines for the damages the country is experiencing now because of her lapse in judgment?
To say that her call was made “after the election results were already in and the votes had been counted” is questionable. The call was done during the election process. This statement is another statement to mislead the nation.
“Nagagambala ako. Maliwanag na may kakulangan sa wastong pagpapasya ang nangyaring pagtawag sa telepono. Pinagsisisihan ko ito ng lubos. Pinana nagutan ko ng lubusan ang aking mga ginawa at humihingi ako ng tawad sa inyo.”
PGMA asked for forgiveness from the Pilipino people for the “lapse of judgment” and expressed her regret. She appealed to the emotion of her countrymen. But to recognize a “lapse in judgment”, then requested forgiveness and expressed regret is not really enough for the head of state, like the Republic of the Philippines to restore the damages suffered of the nation and the prestige lost here and abroad. PGMA’s courage to accept error is admirable. However, she will be a model if she went further to step down from office.
If she continued her presidency, she will be a model to those who will follow her. Commit “lapse in judgment”, apologize and continue holding office? Future leaders will commit wrong, apologize but continue the questionable leadership? If she resigned the presidency, she is a model to commit “lapse in judgment” and resign the job, so that an excellent head of state will take over the job for the good of the country. The next head of state will maintain an unquestionable character, activities and decisions. He is a person of strength and obedience.
Ms. Arroyo has been sicked of lapse in judgment. In 2003, she announced she would not run for President of the Philippines. But she reversed herself. Her “I remain your humble servant and promise you I will fulfill my constitutional oath of office to serve the people to the best of my ability” is very doubtful of fulfillment. Majority of the Filipinos doubt her loyalty and honesty to the country and her people. Her presidential objectives will be untenable, cooperation is uncertain and her actions are always suspects.
Her presidency has made the Philippines the most corrupt and poor country of the world. The Philippines is the subject of humor in the community of nations with an incredible president.
There is no way for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo but to step down to cleanse the Philippines. She is on her way out. Only time will tell. /MP

I’m Sorry. I Also Regret. *

* Statement of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the Hello Garci Tape issued on June 27, 2005

Mga minamahal kong kababayan. For the last several weeks, the issue of the tape recordings has spun out of control. Tonight, I want to set the record straight. You deserve an explanation from me, because you are the people I was elected to serve.
As you recall, the election canvassing process was unnecessarily slow even after the election results were already in and the votes had been counted.
I was anxious to protect my votes and during that time had conversations with many people including a Comelec official. My intent was not to influence the outcome of the election, and it did not. As I mentioned, the election had already been decided and the votes counted. And as you remember, the outcome had been predicted by every major public opinion poll, and adjudged free, fair and decisive by international election observers, and our own Namfrel.
That said, let me tell you how I personally feel. I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment. I’m sorry. I also regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter. I take full responsibility for my actions and to you and to those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events. I want to assure you that I have redoubled my efforts to serve the nation and earn your trust.
Nagagambala ako. Maliwanag na may kakulangan sa wastong pagpapasya ang nangyaring pagtawag sa telepono. Pinagsisisihan ko ito ng lubos. Pinana’nagutan ko ng lubusan ang aking mga ginawa at humihingi ako ng tawad sa inyo, sa lahat ng mga butihing mamamayan na nabawasan ng tiwala dahil sa mga pangyayaring ito. Ibig kong tiyakin sa inyo na lalo pa akong magsisikap upang maglingkod sa bayan at matamo ang inyong tiwala.
I took office with a mandate to carry out a plan for the nation. Since that time, I have focused on making the tough but necessary decisions to make up for years of economic neglect. We passed a comprehensive, fiscally responsible national budget; raised new and necessary revenues to reinvest in the people; and implemented new anti – corruption measures that have led to the highest collection of taxes in history.
Nothing should stand in the way of this work, or the next phase of my reform agenda, which includes new investments in education and social services with our new revenues; and an expansion of our successful anti – corruption and lifestyle checks.
That is why I want to close this chapter and move on with the business of governing.
I ask each and everyone of you to join hands with me in show of unity, to help forge One Philippines, where everyone is equal under the law, and where everyone has the opportunity to use their God – given talents to make a better life.
Our nation is strong and getting stronger. The progress is steady and I ask you to walk me on this journey to rebuild our great nation. I remain your humble servant and promise you that I will fulfill my constitutional oath of office to serve the people to the best of my ability.
God Bless the Philippines.

Boracay Bizmen Act On Garbage Crisis

The Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has started its two-year plan to address the garbage problem of the island.
Karen Reina, BCCI president and project chairperson, said “the original program is now a 3-component program dubbed as “Boracay Lives!” designed to solve the ever-growing solid waste crisis.”
The P4-million Boracay Ecological Education Campaign and Material Recovery Facility (MRF) project is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and BCCI under Pearl 2 (Private Enterprise Accelerated Resources Linkages).
“Unknown to many, the BCCI has started its program with Pearl 2 on the eco-education campaign. So far, we have only received dire warnings on why our project will fail; many are waiting in the sidelines, joining only if it started to succeed. Wake up! The time to act is now! No community-based program will work if the community stands by and watches,” Reina said.
The project aims to reduce the volume of solid waste, to increase the volume of recycling and for visitors and guests to be aware and follow the environmental laws of the island.
“Let us stop saying why it cannot be done; let us start saying why it can be done! Let us show everyone else how, no matter how daunting it may seem, a mountain can be moved when the will is there,” Reina pointed out.
BCCI has identified several activities over a period of 24 months to implement and sustain the Pearl 2 project, among others, the conduct of eco-education and information campaigns for stakeholders; capability-building for BCCI to service the needs of BCCI’s area of responsibility; the setting-up of MRF that will recycle and re-use the solid waste of the island and the holding of annual event to promote environmental awareness among students in Boracay schools.
Agnes Acero, project assistant for the program, said “the ecological education campaign started with a cluster of 31 establishments and 10 households in Sitio Angol in Barangay Manoc-Manoc.”
She stressed that briefing on ecologically sustainable practices and the proper handling of garbage has been initiated by BCCI.
“We started to implement the ecological education campaign with our BCCI members in the island. This Pearl 2 project of BCCI will surely strengthen the capability of stakeholders to reduce, re-use and recycle the solid waste generated,” Acero added.
She said the project is in conformity with the DENR’s Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and with the Environmental Consent Agreement (ECONA). It is closely working with Oikos Society with Roland Nillas as project consultant.
BCCI stressed that the Philippine Tourism Authority has allowed the use of its Wastewater Treatment Facility Area for the solid waste disposal program and a recycling facility.
Last June 1, Aklan Governor Carlito Marquez, Malay Mayor Ceciron Cawaling and DENR special action officer Zoilo Andin also agreed to close the existing dumpsite in Barangay Balabag to put an end to the island’s garbage crisis. /MP