Thursday, May 24, 2007

EDITORIAL - May 20 - 26 Issue

Remittances Foil Asia Crisis Repeat,
World Bank Study Says


Across the East Asia region sweeps the wind of prosperity and cash remittances. Knowledge capital by migrant workers has helped economies become more robust a decade after a devastating crisis.
Aside from the Philippines, the World Bank (WB) cited remittances from workers overseas also helped other countries like Vietnam and Mongolia to beef up cash reserves. Hence, remittances could soften and may even foil a repeat of the 1997 Asian crisis if there would be one in the future.
"A decade after the financial crisis that devastated East Asia in 1997-98, the region is far wealthier, has fewer poor people and a larger global role than ever before. Led by continued strong growth in China, Emerging East Asia now has an aggregate output of over $5 trillion, double the dollar value just before the crisis," the WB report "Ten Years after the Crisis" said.
The economies affected by the crisis: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, and Thailand, posted real per capita incomes "significantly" exceeding pre-crisis levels, the report noted. The first three economies achieved real per capita income growth of 3-3.5 percent, "with per-capita growth in Korea and Thailand averaging 4-4.5 percent" in the four years ending 2006.
The cause, in particular with the Philippines, is consumption or the purchase of consumers by what the country’s factories produce, retailers sell, and businesses import-for-sale from abroad.
"Consumers in the Philippines increased real expenditures by 5-6 percent, supported in part by a 20-percent rise in remittances from abroad," the WB said.
Compared with Thailand’s 3.2-percent consumer-demand growth last year, the Philippines posted a 5.5-percent growth from just 4.9 percent in 2005. Both countries are regarded as developing economies compared to the four newly industrialized economies of Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
Remittances, coupled with the strong performance of the Philippines’ electronics exports, "far outweighed the impact of higher imported oil prices on the current account".
The Philippines current account –available cash for loans, payment of debts, for investments, and others flowing in the system- jumped to a US$5-billion surplus last year from US$2 billion in 2005.
The percentage increase (to US$12.8 billion in 2006) in remittances underscores the vital role played by money from Filipinos working abroad, WB report said.
"Through these flows [remittances and transfers for the balance of payments], which account for over 13 percent of GDP [gross domestic product], large trade deficits were transformed into current account surpluses. A trade deficit would mean the Philippines buys more products from other countries than what it sells or exports.
Remittances may be one of the reasons why the Philippines, along with Korea and Malaysia, quickly "regained their pre-crisis level of per-capita income by 1999, while this took longer, till 2003, in Indonesia and Thailand," according to the WB report.
According to eco-nomist Fernando Aldaba, an up tick in exports, support sentiments that remittances could help avert a crisis that could come from a slowdown in the United States economy.
"I would agree that factors for another Asian crisis are not present or, if there are, the countries in the region have wizened up," Aldaba, who teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University said.
However, Aldaba wouldn’t single out remittances from Filipinos working temporarily or permanently abroad as a single instrument that could help avert another crisis.
"The 1997 crisis was marked with capital flight, and even at that time the shock to the Philippines was relatively less compared to Thailand since our money was no longer pegged to the dollar," he explained.
Still, awash with cash from remittances, the Philippines could have the elbow room to maneuver, Aldaba said.
"Remittances could mitigate the impact of a crisis that would engulf the region if the economic slowdown in the US hit," he added.
Likewise, Aldaba said, the right fiscal and monetary policies would still be the main weapons that the country could wield considering that the economy and the market are relatively small.
With the right mix of reining inflation and control of money supply, he explained, the Philippine economy may weather shocks from a US economic slowdown even with a decline in remittances, Aldaba pointed out. The flow of money from Filipinos overseas hasn’t reached its peak despite the strengthening of the peso against the greenback.
"The outflow of workers hasn’t declined. Unless this occurs, remittances may decrease. But the decline wouldn’t happen in the next five years," Aldaba said.
Even the WB notes such view, but cautions since the record-high 1.026 million Filipino workers who left for employment overseas last year, "in part reflects the lack of domestic employment opportunities."
That challenges the WB posed remain as the Philippines joins her East Asian neighbors in marking year 2007 as a time of prosperity a decade after a debilitating crisis. /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

By Ambrosio R. Villorente
Aklan’s SP New Composition

Beginning July 1, 2007, the Aklan Sang-guniang Panlalawigan (SP) will have a revised composition as a result of the May 14 local election. The presiding officer will be Vice Governor elect Gabrielle V. Calizo. She comes from Kusog, a local party. The 10 regular members are composed of six from Tibyog and four from Kusog/AIM coalition.
These three ex-officio members are representatives of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL), sangguniang kabataan (SK) and association of barangay councils (ABC). Of the ex-officio members, Hon. Franklin Quimpo of the PCL will be replaced by a new representative who will probably come from Tibyog.
The July 2007 – June 2010 Aklan SP will have a 9 – 4 Tibyog – Kusog/AIM combination presided by a Kusog/AIM vice governor. This will be a different SP Aklan compared with SP Aklan 2004 – 2007 which was presided by Tibyog vice governor and a 10 – 3 Tibyog – Kusog/AIM SP members composition.
Common Objectives
Tibyog and the coalition of Kusog/AIM had the same direction for the development and progress of Aklan which is to improve the living condition of the Aklanons. The two however, differs in the mode of implementation. Tibyog has embarked on its economic enterprise development and effected the increase of real estate tax to generate more money to finance its poverty alleviation program and education.
In health management, Tibyog improved the building of the DRSTMH and worked for the 100 percent PhilHealth coverage under its indigency program. In agriculture, Governor Carlito S. Marquez embarked on abaca production, hybrid rice program, livestock and poultry and mango production. It has approved ordinance that mandated the creation of the Aklan Rivers System Development Council. It authorizes the studies, drafting and implementation of projects in the Aklan rivers system.
But the Kusog/AIM coalition, while it recognized there is progress, the progress is moving on a snail speed. According to Vicky Ramos – Billie Calizo tandem, "there is lack of livelihood and income opportunities; lack of public infrastructure, lack of public health facilities and services and lack of educational facilities.
Kusog/AIM envisions to solve this unemployment problem through tie-up with local and international private sector groups for employment like the United Philippine Lines and Godofredo P. Ramos Foundation. It will harness and utilize all available government resources to promote livelihood and employment generation projects.
Kusog envisions to construct farm-to-market roads to connect food production areas to the national highway, to the market which will motivate farmers, fisherfolks to produce more, reduce cost of production, increase production and supply consumers with high quality products.
In the field of health management, Vicky/Billie were not contented of the P139 million hospital DRSTMH building and the 100 PhilHealth coverage in the indigency program. They proposed to "upgrade existing public health facilities and services, provide adequate continuing support to maintain a standard of service necessary for Aklanons, …secure health service professionals to augment the pre-sent…health service staff…and provide low cost housing to those modern day heroes who serve our people."
Vicky Ramos/Billie Calizo team envisioned to "build modern school buildings complete with education facilities, training centers,…the upgrading of teachers’ and a realistic economic and social benefits programs for their…services" like housing, health care system and livelihood support program for additional income.
Another issue Kusog/AIM team brought to the people during the election is the abrupt and high increase of real estate tax. The Kusog/AIM coalition vowed to reduce if not totally stop the collection of this realty tax increases. Moreover, it also promised to work until the Electric Power Purchase Agreement between Akelco and Mirant Global is finally declared by the court null and void.
To many, the issues Kusog/Aim brought were listened to by the people. The Kusog/AIM vice governor won over Tibyog and also won 3-2 for SP members, eastern side and one of its two candidates won for SP, western side. For a political observer, this is a 50-50 victory for Tibyog and Kusog/AIM. To think that Kusog/AIM is in the opposition with very limited resources and disadvantaged machinery, the victory is more for Kusog/AIM which has nill incumbent mayor except in Balete. Mayor Charito Navarosa of Libacao and mayor Ramon Legaspi, Jr. of Makato who both won with Kusog had deserted Kusog. Mayor Romeo Dalisay who won the election in 2004 with AIM likewise deserted AIM. All the three renounced their allegiance with Kusog and AIM respectively and took their oaths with Tibyog.
However, Aklanons can expect a more interesting, objective and frank discussions of matters during SP sessions. With the presence of Hon. Rodson Mayor, Hon. Nemesio P. Neron, Hon. Ramon Gelito of Kusog/AIM and Hon. Morania of Tibyog, "wind velocity" there will be fireworks every session. There will be session which will be reasonably calm, unwieldy and stormy.
The presiding officer, vice governor Billie V. Calizo will enforce the parliamentary rules and order. Hon. Jean Rodriguez and Hon. Daisy Sucro Briones will be there to promote love, camaraderie and nobleness. Hon. Plaridel Morania and Hon. Selwyn Ibarreta will answer the bombs from Kusog/AIM.
It is expected that there will be objective discussion of all matters. This will be good for the Aklanons. They will be best informed of matters closely associated with their everyday lives with transparent and objective discussions both in the committee meetings and in the sessions.
The effectiveness of the United Leadership of Aklan will be in perilous path starting July 1, 2007. Will Gov. Carlito S. Marquez decide matters by himself? Will he allow Kusog/AIM to share in deciding matters? This will be hard because Vice Gov. Gabrielle V. Calizo presides the SP which approves plans and especially budget.
As advanced by Hon. Rodson Mayor, his first act in the SP is to file resolution or ordinance suspending the implementation of provincial ordinance which increased the real estate tax. Will Mayor master enough votes in the SP to approve resolution/ordinance suspending the effectivity of that stated ordinance? If he got approval of such resolution in the SP, will Gov. Marquez sign it for approval? Will he veto it? If vetoed, will the Aklan SP override the veto? This is one proposal that is very interesting to watch. /MP

An Actual Political Experience, Circa 2007 Election


Is it true that the more you go deeper into politics, the dirtier it gets?
When a person has a good value from the root and trying times come his way, can he be negotiated? The conscience will often dictate..."you are good and no need to get bad just for the sake of politics."
To a person who has principles in politics, this may be false. But if a person no matter how principled he may be, is there still the good in him?
Yes, politics can get dirty if allowed. The values learned and inculcated of one’s parents taught from the formative years and the past where one came from that made him the best person he is now in. There are still some politicians who had the heart and mind. No matter how the leaders behind convince him to do some dirty tricks, his values prevent him. This is where my admiration went during the May 14 election.
It was on that trying moment that my values were tested and challenged. Yet, no matter how bad can it be…there is that conscience which dictated me whether to go for it or just ignore it; let things flow, and let people judge.
Never in my mind, had I dreamt of being involved in politics. Until one day, I was surprised. I didn’t refuse the person whom I believed his battle cry and motivation. Though surprised, I was excited about the job. It was the most challenging job I ever had and never regretted every moment of it, until one moment in time, I was tempted to do something which in the very first place was not in my rule.
Hitting below the belt during election was no surprise though. It was with me when I myself was into the situation. And when I let myself hypnotized into doing it, it was the hardest moment I had, next to loosing a husband. Though so sorry for what happened, the damaged was done. Yet, with the kind of persons I worked with, they were so kind to accept my apology. One said, "tomorrow is another day, don’t repeat it." That was enough to melt my heart down and accepted that it was my fault for letting other people distract my way. Priest, friends came to the rescue and close friends and family consoled, too. With the kind of friends around me, the only words I said to them, were THANK YOU.
No matter how I consoled myself that it was strictly politics, still, I have the conscience. I still felt the ignorance of my action. Those were the trying moments that I lost my trust to a person whom I thought was an angel. Never be deceived by an angelic face, by a soft voice and a "holier than thou" camouflage of an evil.
People may be greedy of power, yes, it’s true. Yet, I would like to make clarification that, not all can be greedy. There are some politicians left, though in one party, has the best in him and is indeed, the right person to become a leader, our leader. The people may not understand him and the whole party, yet, a person can look thru his eyes if he is indeed, a true leader and not just a traditional politician. He might allow himself to be dictated once in a while, but he can control the situation and has the political will to act. There can be rules that are good, not for the people but rules for self-interest. Yet, the true kind of leader is the one who leads the people as a whole, not as an individual.
My experience in radio and television job gave me the opportunity to meet new friends; opened new windows of opportunities; got known the politicians very well; listened to them and learned the political scenery first hand from them; knew the real media people who really love and care our people and country as a whole. I met, knew and learned the kind of people whom I admired the most and whom I later lost trust. I had met people who expressed sincere appreciation.
I also learned that some people in the journalism practice are as greedy as some politicians, too. Not of power, but of attention; not of expose, but of money, not of news, but of commission. These and others they did during the last election fever.
At the same time, I knew people listens very well. They kept watch over me attentively. They observed with an open ears and eyes. They either supported me; dictated; mentored; advised; criticized; motivated and acted as nuisance.
For one thing, money talks in politics. Why people allow it? They said, because of poverty. People can accept a one time deal in exchange of three-year term of bad governance. But if we noticed, these are the people who belong to the low income population, the out of school youth and the illiterate. Politicians take advantage of them during elections. People in the middle and upper classes are wise voters with strong conviction. They are non-partisan. They choose the best among the best of the leaders and vote with conscience. Some may vote for their relatives. Blood is thicker than water but sometimes proven otherwise. There are also some politicians who turned around 80 degrees just before election, because of money. They betrayed a good leader in exchange for money, money that may last for one day in a sari-sari store. But the effect of it will last for three-years, or more. A BAD AND CORRUPT GO-VERNANCE will be the consequence.
Today, politics are not suited for emotional people, politician who have a "heart like a rock." But a leader must pass a sensitivity test. A stubborn politician and leader has no place in a democracy. They must be eliminated from public office. In the next election, people must vote, not those who hide emotion but those who are sincere, frank, committed, honest and capable. Hiding emotion is dishonesty and a betrayal of public trust. Let their lips say what their hearts feel and minds think. They must be transparent as public figures if not property. How can electorates choose if the candidates kept things in their closet?
Politics is popularity, relevance and acceptance of ideas proposed by certain candidates. For the electorates and the candidates, trust in GOD’S WILL. "What you do to the least of My brethren you do it to Me." /MP
Note: 1st pic is the author with re-elected Governor of the Province of Aklan - Hon. Carlito Samson Marquez (face too haggard though- one hour before the proclamation) and the 2nd picture is with re-elected Representative of the Lone District of Aklan - Congressman Joeben T. Miraflores...cheers to success the day before the election)


Genuine Opposition Topples TU In Aklan

By Boy Ryan Zabal

The Editor with MIGZ ZUBIRI, 12th in Aklan

It was 8-2-2 victory for Genuine Opposition (GO) candidates in Aklan. The GO almost sweep the senatorial race in Aklan after Loren Legarda and seven of her fellow opposition bets were on top 12 in the official tally of the Commission of Elections (Comelec).
Legarda leads with 123,257 votes, followed by Rep. Francis Escudero, 116,644 and Manny Villar, 108,116.
Independent candidate Kiko Pangilinan grabbed the fourth spot with 99,085 votes followed by Panfilo Lacson, 93,626 and Benigno Aquino III with 89,635 votes.
Team Unity candidate Edgardo Angara is on the seventh position with 80,252, followed by Allan Peter Cayetano (GO) with 75,418 votes.
Former Senator Gregorio Honasan came ninth with 68,031 votes followed by Antonio Trillanes, 65,503, Aquilino Pimentel, 63,313 and TU bet Miguel Zubiri took the 12th spot with 62,872 votes.
Team Unity candidates Ralph Recto, 61,595 (13th), Joker Arroyo, 61,178 (14th) and Prospero Pichay, 58,232 votes for the 15th spot.
The Aklanon voters’ choice of senators is nearly congruent with the national electorates. While Aklan voters went for 8-2-2 for GO, TU and independent senatorial candidates, the Comelec tally also shows the same: 8-2-2. The Aklanons went for TU’s Edgardo Angara and Miguel Zubiri while it is Angara and Arroyo in the Comelec’s partial returns.
In the case of the NAMFREL tally as of 4:46 P.M., May 23, it is also 8-2-2 for GO. TU’s Arroyo and Angara are in the magic 12./MP

LGU Malay Complies Environmental Laws


Group planting, a combination of several ornamental plants is good for the eyes and soul and to the environment.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Aklan officer Baltazar Gerardo revealed the local government of Malay is complying with the environmental laws in the transport of residual wastes in mainland Panay".
Gerardo made the assurance following the periodic monitoring of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) led by Under-secretary Zoilo Andin, Jr of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
"The local government is complying with the requirements for the efficient transport of residual wastes of Brgy. Yapak and Manoc-Manoc," he stressed.
Gerardo said, Engr. Arnold Solano of the Municipal Solid Waste Management Board reassured him that the truckloads of residual wastes in three barangays, the bulk of which at Brgy. Balabag, are being transported within the month across Boracay Island to a dumpsite in Brgy. Kabulihan in mainland Malay.
The administration of Mayor Ceciron Cawaling is serious in implementing the law on the Ecological Solid Waste Management, Gerardo added.
"We are appealing to local and foreign tourists visiting the island to segregate their garbage to minimize the waste problem," Gerardo said.
Some 7 to 10 tons of garbage a day are produced and collected by garbage trucks from establishments and residential houses in the island.
Residual wastes are segregated in materials recovery facility (MRF) and transported by motorized pump boats before they are transferred to dump trucks in Brgy. Caticlan.
Gerardo also lauded the efforts of Forester Delilah Maugeri based in Boracay Island and Task Force Bantay Boracay led by Senior Supt. Benigno Durana, Jr. for their massive information dissemination in the implementation of waste segregation and compliance to environmental laws by hotel owners. /MP

Prov’l Hospital Expansion, A Legacy

The Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital’s upgrading into a second level referral hospital will be remembered as the greatest achievement and legacy of effective and efficient health service delivery to the people.
Under the united leadership of Cong. Florencio T. Miraflores, Gov. Carlito S. Marquez and Vice Gov. Ronquillo C. Tolentino, Aklan took courage to implement the project utilizing the loan proceeds from the World Bank with local funds from the province as equity.
The provincial government of Aklan and the Municipal Development Fund Office – Local Government Finance and Development Project (MDFO-LOGOFIND) entered into a memorandum of agreement for the latter to provide a loan to Aklan in the amount of P139 million.
According to Dr. Myrtle M. Pelayo, DOH representative and a member of the Provincial Health Board, the provincial hospital is considered Aklan’s showcase of health service delivery system.
"The provincial government takes pride in having completed the expansion and rehabilitation of the provincial hospital not solely relying on the meager resources of the provincial government. It was in fact a product of sheer determination and resolve. The upkeep and cleanliness of the expanded hospital has been acclaimed as comparable to our best and private hospitals in the country," she added.
The expansion of provincial hospital under the supervision of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Emma Cortes has two major objectives: (1) to serve as one of the economic enterprises of the province of Aklan to generate additional revenues; and (2) to provide better and efficient health services to Aklanons.
The project components included the construction of a three-storey building, canteen, hospital façade and mortuary; rehabilitation of the old buildings (north, main and south buildings, doctors’ and nurses’ quarters); construction of a new power house; upgrading of existing powerhouse; and site improvement. Transformers, air-conditioning units, generator sets, x-ray machines, ultrasound machine, hospital beds, furniture, curtains and other hospital furnishings will be purchased.
Four rooms in the ground floor are rented as private doctors’ clinics. This will encourage Aklanon doctors to practice their profession in Aklan and at the same time, be of service to their province mates. Located at the 2nd and 3rd Floors of the building are 35 rooms, which are serving as private rooms for hospital patients.
Provincial Government and Services Officer Medelia Solanoy earlier stressed the procurement of modern and updated hospital equipment will save Aklanons from expense and tedious travel to Iloilo and Manila just to avail of adequate diagnosis and treatment.
It maybe recalled that the provincial hospital was built in the 1930s when Aklan was still a part of Capiz. After World War II, the hospital was authorized to have a bed capacity of 30. This was increased to 59 beds in 1956, then 75 in 1961 and finally to 100 beds in 1975. It was later renamed to Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital. Despite of almost 150 percent bed occupancy until it’s upgrading, it remained a 100 beds hospital. Hospital beds were placed at its hallways to cope with the overflow volume of patients.
Economic Enterprise Development Department (EEDD) Chief Rex Victor Consemino said the provincial hospital is considered a viable avenue for enterprise development under the EEDD to spur generation of much needed revenues for Aklan. It provides better services and client satisfaction. The provincial hospital expansion shall pursue sustainable growth and development through innovative generation of financial resources for effective and accessible service delivery.
The provincial government is challenged to open new economic frontiers, maintain fiscal stability and promote responsible stewardship for good governance and public service. The indigency program for Aklanons shall be pursued with vigor and remains a top public service priority of the administration.
Aklanons are assured of affordable hospital services especially for rates on minor and major operations and admission to private rooms.
"The hospital expansion program will be a flagship of Aklan’s EEDD program," Marquez stressed. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Ni Tita Linda Belayro
Ro Bankero

Malisod ro trabaho it bankero. Imaw ro nagadapit ko mga pasahero sa pangpang it suba ag ihatod sa pihak man nga pangpang. Kon tiyempo it tigbaeaha, peligroso ro anang kabuhi. Sa anang mga alima nakasalalay ro kabuhi ko anang mga pasahero. Ogaling maskin malisod ro anang obra, guinatinguha gid nana nga maserbisyuhan ro mga tawo nga nagasalig kana.
Isaeang adlaw, may isaeang ka bag-ong tapos sa pagka abogado nga nagpadapit sa bankero. Ro abogado ngato hay manaba guid ro anang pagtan-aw sa rayang bankero. Naka suksok it amerikana ag naka kurbata pa imaw nga may daeang porpolyo. Samtang nagapanaw ro baroto, naghambae rong abogado, "anong grado ro imong natapos?" pangutana it abogado. "Sir, hasta grade six eamang ro akong haabot", sabat man it bankero. "Ay abaw toto, 25 porsyento ro naduea sa imong kabuhi," hambae it abogado. "May natun-an ka baea hanungod sa siyensya o historya?" dugang nga pangutana pa guihapon ko abogado. "Owa guid ako it nasayuran karon sir, perme abi akong absent sa klase," makaeo-eo-oy nga sabat ko bankero.
Kon mawron hay 50 porsyento eon ro naduea sa imong kabuhi," baeos it abogado. "Hay sa matimatika, kaantiguhan ka?" Ulihi nga pangutana it abogado. "Mas grabe ngani sir sa rikaron. Mahinay guid ako sa numero, busa bankero eon lang ro akong natugpa-an." Mapa-inubuson nga sabat kong bankero. "Kon mawron, mga 25 porsyento eon lang ro habilin sa imong kabuhi," hambae it abogado. Nag init ro dueonggan ko bankero. Sa kaakig ko bankero, tongod sa anang pagpati hay guina insulto imaw ko rayang abogado, pag-abot sa tunga-tunga it suba, golpe nana nga tinikwang ro baroto. Nahueog ro abogado ag nag kapay-kapay nga nagpatabang.
"Sir, kaantiguhan ka baea mag eangoy?" singgit it bankero. "Ay abaw toto, owa guid ako it kalibutan mag-eangoy, tabangi ako," pakitlo-oy it abogado.
"Pasensya sir, may 100 porsyento ko imong kabuhi hay duea eon. Ogaling tongod naeo-oy ako kimo, buligan ta ikaw." Guin dawat nana ro alima it abogado nga naga pangeopsi eon sa kahadluk. Ro anang eawas hay naga kurog pa.
"Abi ko tanan ro kaaeam hay sayod mo, ro simpleng pag-eangoy owa nimo pag tun-i", kampante nga hambae it bankero. "Dumdom nakon experto ka man sa siyensya sa pageangoy," dugang pa ko bankero.
Napahuya ro abo-gado. Indi komo abogado imaw hay tanan ro kaaeam hay hatun-an nana. May mga kaaeam nga guina pa-kanaba naton tongod sa pagpati nga owa raya it relasyon sa atong pro-pisyon. Indi naton pag tuya tuya-on ag paghusgahan ro mga simpleng tawo. /MP

Tolentino: Will Leave Politics

By Boy Ryan B. Zabal

After a lopsided defeat from vice governor-elect and former Aklan congresswoman Gabrielle V. Calizo (Nacionalista Party), lawyer-journalist Ronquillo "Kel" Conanan Tolentino (Lakas-CMD) is retiring from politics.
Tolentino said, he had decided to leave politics for good and would pursue his public service as lawyer-journalist.
"All what I have done was service to humanity, a genuine public service. In the next years to come, through media as a journalist, I could still deliver services to our people," he stressed.
Tolentino, a three-termer Sangguniang Pan-lalawigan member, had been an Assistant provincial secretary, provincial manager of the Bureau of Employment Services, Ministry of Labor in Aklan and former Kalibo Sang-guniang Bayan member.
He is a seasoned columnist of a regional newspaper, an alumnus of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the former secretary-general of the National Union of Students of the Philippines for Western Visayas.
In 2004, he was elected vice governor of Aklan under the ruling local coalition Tibyog Akean. He lost his reelection bid to Calizo on the May 14 election.
Calizo got 109,097 votes as compared to Tolentino’s 71,508, a margin of 37,589 votes. He lost in 16 towns, but won in Ibajay.
As presiding officer of the Sangguniang Pan-lalawigan for 2004–2007, Tolentino was instrumental in the passage of landmark ordinances, including the Economic Enterprise Development Department.The 63-year-old veteran journalist is also thinking to return to the academe as a professor of law. Tolentino will continue his works in socio-civic organizations like the Philippine National Red Cross, Aklan Press Club and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. /MP

NERBAC To Ease Investment Climate In Region 6–DTI

By Ruby M. Melliza

The National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center (NERBAC) is created to improve investment climate in region 6, according to Dominic P. Abad, Regional Director, Department of Trade and Industry. Abad disclosed the information to the 30 participants in a briefing composed of regional directors, assistant regional directors and representatives from the different national government agencies at the DTI Audio Visual Room, Iloilo City just recently.
Abad revealed the NERBAC or Republic Act No. 7470 was approved on 29 April 1992 aimed to provide prospective entrepreneurs/investors with the basic information on various business options that are opened to them in accordance with the investment priorities of the government; and to provide a one-stop-shop-action center which will facilitate the processing and documentation of all paper requirements necessary for the establishment of a business enterprise in the country, including credit services. NERBAC is pilot tested in the cities of Davao and Cebu and soon to be implemented in Region 6 to be housed at the DTI building in Iloilo City.
During his presentation, Abad revealed NERBAC will initially have two functional units which are the Investment Promotion and the Licensing and Registration Facilitation Units. Since it’s a one-stop-shop, representatives from the local government units along with the representatives from the national government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cooperative Development Authority, Social Security System, Pag-ibig Fund, Bureau of Internal Revenue and Philhealth, among others, will provide a workforce to hold office at the Center to serve the business licensing or registration facilitation needs of the investors or entrepreneurs. This scheme will eliminate red tape making business easy for investors.
To have a feel of what NERBAC is all about, DTI Cebu Regional Director Asteria Caberte talked about the Cebu NERBAC experience. Caberte said that NERBAC streamlines business processes making a positive climate for investors. "The problem lies in the commitment of all stakeholders involved in the project. Sometimes they are there, sometimes they are not there," she added.
City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, who came, said that the project is very timely. His office is now streamlining the processing of business and building permits for a better business environment for the city of Iloilo. He added that the Iloilo City hall will have a temporary shelter at the Robinsons Place to give way for the construction of the new Iloilo City Hall building. He is also looking on how the city can house together all the departments to streamline business procedures and making his office friendly to clients and investors. He pledged to support the NERBAC.
DTI will conduct series of workshops for the stakeholders to ensure the successful creation of NERBAC in Region 6. NERBAC is scheduled to be operational in April 2007. /MP

Suroy-suroy Ta Sa Cebu


Suroy-suroy is a Cebuano term which means in English to go around. And I went around, Cebu. This is also another way of making people feel and see Cebu thru this bandwagon "SUROY-SUROY TA SA CEBU" created by the Cebu Tourism Office. Travel packages are priced reasonably and cheaper for tourists to go around Cebu, its neighboring towns and barangays for a day tour or a 3-day package trip, assured by our very kind tourist guide, a practicing journalist from the Cebu Vice-Governor’s office, Tito Joel Pineda.

Megs & Clouds in front of the Malacañang Cebu

My first trip to Cebu was exhausting yet memorable and funfilled. My Mom went there to attend Toastmasters’ convention. She brought me with her as make up for the lost time when she was busy in the recently concluded May 14, 2007 election.
I was so excited when I arrived at Mactan International Airport. The city is the birthplace of my late grandpa. So, I was delighted to see the place, too. My Mom and I were a little bit lost when we arrived, it was her 1st return to Cebu after she and her parents left while she was small. And that, Cebu 30 years ago was far different from what it is now.
Oh well, during the first day of our trip, we were so tired. We stayed in our hotel to rest. The following 3 days of our trip was exciting and exhausting, too. I can’t stay walking too long though, thanks heaven for the taxis that were around. Speaking of traveling, my Mom reminded me that I will enjoy the trip by walking and savor the breeze of the city, its people and the historical places I can only see well when I am walking.
Our hotel is located at the Gen. Maxilom Avenue which according to our driver, used to be the mango plantation ages ago. Mandaue City is an industrial city. Lapu-Lapu City is the only city within the island of Mactan. The best part of Cebu city is the monumental sculptural tableau in honor of the people of Cebu. It is a tribute to all Filipino people and the wealth of our race.

The paintings at Casa Gorordo.

According to the marker of the tableau, it was the idea of the artist Eduardo Castillo and then Cebu City Mayor Alvin B. Garcia in 2001-2004. The pride, unity and cultural wealth of a race emanate from the people’s sense of self and history, from early Filipinos to the dawn of Spanish colonization. The revolution of 1896, the birth of the Philippine Republic is shown in this monument. The heroic contribution of the Cebuano people in the saga of events which transpired in the islands of Cebu are vital elements in the formulation of the nation we know today.
As a child and as my Mom described to me as well as a "visionary artist" at a young age, I am most interested in the arts and culture of the place. And so, here comes another historical place where I really enjoyed the paintings. Casa Gorordo at Fuente Osmena, where it was built in the mid-19th century, is the house of the 1st Filipino Bishop of Cebu in 1910-1932. Four generations of the Gorordo family lived in this house, the place was acquired in 1980 by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation. It was restored and later re-opened as a public museum declared by the National Historical Commission on September 24, 1991. There are some paintings displayed, too. The house is very beautiful, preserved woods and antiques of the Gorordo family are enchanting views.

The author in front of the Cebu provincial capitol.

Lapu Lapu monument in front of the Whitehouse look alike the Capitol of Cebu stands proudly and dauntless on the shores of Mactan. At Sto. Nino Cathedral, my Mom bought all candles of the street children just to help them increase their sales. It is the the place of the original Sto. Nino de Cebu. At Fort San Pedro, Mom negotiated to buy cheaper red attractive guitar. The Malacanang of the South in Cebu is near the port area and in front of the La-Independencia plaza; the Capitol that look-alike the Whitehouse Palace with a beautiful dome painting, too. Cebu city has wider roads. The skyline is oh! so beautiful! and the people are so warm and kind. I also noticed the smoothness of getting into the taxi after shopping. Unlike other cities, the taxi drivers are honest on their taxi meters. They return things that are left behind (my Mom’s so forgetful) and they take you around the city without fare overpricing. Food has a variety of choices and shopping was fun, too! Thanks to my being thrifty.
My Mom and I had a wonderful mother-daughter bonding moments with good friends and moments we were just alone. It was indeed a memorable and exhausting but fun-filled trip to Cebu!
(*The author is an 11-year old daughter of Melrose S. Lunn of Poblacion, Numancia, Aklan. She is a Grade VI pupil in June 2007 at Infant Jesus Academy, Kalibo, Aklan.) /MP

DOT Predicts MoreTourist Arrivals


International visitor arrivals to the Philippines are expected to increase by 8 percent to 10 percent in 2007, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said over the weekend.
The growth forecast matches the 8.4-percent increase in arrivals in 2006, which was a record-year for tourism, Durano said.
Data show that the number of foreign guests who visited the country reached a record high of 2.84 million last year, up from 2.62 million in 2005. But the 2006 figure was below the Department of Tourism’s target of 3 million foreign tourists for the year.
The government targeted three (3) million visitors in 2006; 3.4 million in 2007; 3.88 million in 2008; 4.42 million in 2009; and 5 million in 2010.
But sources at the tourism department said the specific arrival targets for 2007 to 2009 were reduced after missing the 2006 target. But the goal remains to attract five (5) million visitors by 2010.
Despite the increase in arrivals in 2006, the country’s tourism receipts from foreign tourists fell 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2006. Travel exports went down 1.1 percent to P120.87 billion in 2006 from P122.24 billion in 2005.
National Statistical Coordination Board secretary general Romulo Virola linked this to the strong peso, which appreciation against the US dollar reduced the growth of the peso value of foreign inflows such as tourism receipts.
Durano described 2006 as a good year for Philippine tourism who said prospects for 2007 are even better, with the expected completion of new resorts and accommodation facilities that would bring the total number of hotel rooms to about 18,000 by year end.
The hotel and restaurant sector expanded 6.1 percent year-on-year in 2006, contributing P106.03 billion, up 10.6 percent from P95.85 billion a year earlier.
Employment in hotels and restaurants grew by more than 42,000 jobs or 2.6 percent to 913,000 as of October 2006 from just 871,000 a year ago.
Durano said the approval of a P1.5-billion budget for the department in 2007 and the expected enactment of the Tourism Bill would be good for the industry.
"Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, is doing its part to contribute to the President’s 10-point agenda, which includes tourism development as a means to accelerate employment generation. They have shown this not only through the tourism bill, which both chambers filed with their respective versions, but also through the bigger allocation for DoT in the 2007 national budget," he said.
Senator Richard Gordon, the main proponent of the Tourism Bill in the upper chamber, said tourism means jobs for Filipino people.
"The industry has an immense impact on the economy. Every foreign tourist spends P50,000 in shopping, eating, touring and staying at resorts. On an average year, 2.6 million foreign tourists give our economy P130 billion which generates jobs across the board, from the ordinary street vendor to the hotel magnate," Gordon said. /MP

Saturday, May 19, 2007

EDITORIAL - MAY 13 - 19 Issue

People Listen To Kalibo Comelec
Appeal For Trust

"I hope this time the people will trust the Comelec."
This appeal and message came before the May 14 election from Kalibo’s new election officer, Francisco Palomar for Kalibonhons and Ak-lanons in general in the national and local elections.
Palomar agreed that previous events had badly affected the Comelec and deteriorated its integrity. He hoped that would not happen again. He vowed to do his best as steward of Comelec-Kalibo.
Palomar also said that to attain this, all election laws should be implemented in Kalibo in coordination with the Philippine National Police of Kalibo, Aklan.
"We have a superb working relationship with the local PNP here," Palomar said.
He has nothing but praises for Kalibo PNP Chief Arnold Ardiente and his men. According to him, Ardiente goes around the town to check on illegally-posted campaign materials and scraping or detaching those which are not posted in common poster areas.
Palomar, however, admitted the Comelec and the PNP have no control over those which are displayed in residential houses even if these did not adhere to the regulated sizes of posters."Some residences displayed streamers which are supposed to be displayed only during rallies," Palomar pointed out.
"Our teachers who comprised the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) were prepared", he assured. The teachers who served in the elections received P3,000 each. They got half of that amount before the elections from their respective municipal treasurers. Our election paraphernalia were ready, and we expected a very peaceful and orderly election in Kalibo," Palomar stressed.
Palomar also reminded everyone to observe the banned activities during the election period, like the gun ban, liquor ban, dances and cockfights.
And the election in Kalibo was peaceful and orderly. The winners were proclaimed on Thursday afternoon, May 17. While Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo, other winners and their supporters were jubilant inside the Kalibo SB Session Hall during the proclamation of winners, supporters of defeated candidates simultaneously held a very peaceful protest rally outside.
It is safe to say that Aklan held a very peaceful and orderly election. However, in general it is doubtful to conclude that Aklan has credible election.
Other than the firing of guns in Buruanga, no related election incident happen.

153 POLL

As of May 17, some 153 died of election related incidents. Can we call this peaceful? As announced by the chief, Philippine National Police, the Philippines held her most peaceful, orderly and credible election on May 14.
Moreover, 10 died on election day alone while 116 were injured in election related violence. Can we call that peaceful?

Foreign Observers

According to a team of 21 foreign observers, election in Muslim Mindanao was manipulated by outsiders. It was a hot situation in Mindanao specifically in Sulu and Tawi-tawi and the atmosphere was not coducive to elections in the places visited. They did not feel safe as they experienced two bombing incidents in polling centers and encountered two armed groups. They cannot say the election was fair. There were cases of vote manipulation, there were lots of coaching inside pricincts where people were being commanded to write the names of candidates other than their choices. They observed flying voters in truck loads. They also observed the Philippines’ antiquated voting process.
They observed vote buying based on their talk with some voters in the area which price is very cheap - P20.00 per voter. They attributed the increasing political dynasty in the Philippines to the clan system./MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

By Ambrosio R. Villorente
Lessons Learned In The May 14 Election
The May 14 election clearly showed the candidates for various political positions as well as political leaders and voters have matured. There was no bloody incident. The election was conducted in a manner worthy of professionals and civilized people.
The results of the election indicated the voters did not base their choice according to party lines but upon the issues, qualifications and performance. Generally, all candidates were the best and the Aklanon electorates voted for the candidates who were among the best. Almost all the candidates spent money for the election, some offered food and groceries. However, the voters received those money and other materials unconditionally given. They voted for the candidates of their choice.
The winners
In the provincial level, the Aklanons went for governor Carlito S. Marquez of Tibyog but voted Gabrielle V. Calizo of Kusog/AIM for vice governor. This indicated that "straight voting" is a thing of the past.
An independent candidate Atty. Anthony Y. Acevedo for congressman could have given Congressman Joeben T. Miraflores a good fight if he had made a good and systematic campaign. But Acevedo joined the race quite late. Acevedo has a very impressive record as provincial treasurer of Aklan and city treasurer of Iloilo City and Manila. He is a competent lawyer who has attended several trainings abroad with prestigious universities and institutions.
To some voters, the campaign of Acevedo was done leisurely and haphazard. In the case of the election for the sangguniang panlalawigan members it was 4-1 in the western district. Kusog/AIM cannot win more than two of the 5 positions for it fielded only two candidates. Hon. Ramon Gelito who was No. 5 in the 2004 also placed fifth in this 2007 election. Kusog could have won more seats if it fielded complete ticket.
At the eastern side of Aklan, it is 3-2 for Kusog/AIM.
This confirms the maturity of the Aklanon voters, that voters listened carefully to the issues, analyzed it and decided for the common good regardless of the political machineries and resources of the candidates and their political party.
There are three principal issues Kusog/AIM brought to the people.
1. Real estate tax – Kusog/AIM brought to their attention the sudden increase of real estate tax which reached 300-700 percent. Tibyog made a good job to explain this issue of taxation both in the campaign tour and in its radio program. Take note that Tibyog has twice as long radio/ TV time than its opponents. But more voters believed the opposition than the Tibyog.
2. Health management is an issue where the opposition heavily dealt with. It has captivated the emotional sense of the electorate. Again, Tibyog fully explained the issue but more voters believed the opposition than the Tibyog.
3. The increased rate of electric power. Hon. Rodson Mayor has inculcated to the voters that he is the protector of "Akeanong mga naga paeamati". He delivered the message that he fought much for the good of the people using his own money, time and effort. He claimed credit in the issuance of the TRO directing Akelco to cease and desist from implementing the increase electric power rate.
Cong. Joeben T. Miraflores came as an intervenor which hastened the issuance of TRO, but it was quite late, hence Mr. Mayor claimed for the credit and more voters believed him.
In the campaign trail, Rodson Mayor promised the people. "I will fight for you", Ret. Col. Nemesio P. Neron – "isumbong mo kay Neron", while Hon. Daisy Sucro Briones’ battle cry was: "Ibalik ninyo ako." These campaign slogans won the votes of more Aklanons.
Of the 17 towns, Balete, Banga and Malay mayors and vice mayors went to the Kusog/AIM, except Malay vice mayor who was unopposed. While Gov. Marquez lost in Balete and Malay, he won with overwhelming majority votes in Banga, his hometown. However, his vice governor Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino miserably lost not only in these three municipalities but in 13 other towns. He won in Ibajay.
Vice Governor Tolentino is a highly respected and adored official. His performance in the sangguniang panlalawigan is outstanding. What went wrong with him? Did the voters attribute to him the increase of real estate tax as presiding officer of the sangguniang panlalawigan which approved the tax ordinance? Why did vice gov. lost in 16 towns? Only three mayors lost while 14 Tibyog mayors won in the election. Was there machine failure?
Since 1950 or for the last 57 years, Banga had never been led by anyone except lawyers and physicians. In this year’s election, the four candidates were Dr. Mercedes Imperial and Dr. Stevens N. Fuentes – both Dr. of medicine and Atty. Jeremy N. Fuentes a lawyer.
Mr. Antonio Mameng, an expert of "number games" won the mayoralty race. He even got the majority votes in Poblacion, Banga. Mameng won the election with more or less 3,500 majority votes.
While Mameng and his vice mayor, Mr. Melanio Rentillo triumphed, only one of his candidates for SB members won who placed number 8. The first seven went to the Imperial – Besana tandem and S. Fuentes – Teodosio team.
In that May 14 election, Aklanons learned that election is won with the following: 1. Valid and relevant issues fully articulated to and understood by the people; 2. Competence, commitment and conscience of the candidates; and 3. Bribery by way of offering money and other goods will not deliver more votes. /MP

e-Mail To EF

I don’t understand why your government has to declare holiday on election day. What a waste of government money. Only your country declares holiday on election, maybe that’s another reason why your country is so poor.

(Filipinos were dominated by foreigners for about five centuries that after regaining freedom and democracy, they have been eager to exercise those freedoms. Moreover, 500 years of domination was accompanied by economic exploitation and the big businesses are owned by foreigners. Editor)

GSIS e-Card Is A Disservice To Retired State Employees

By Ambrosio R. Villorente

Picture above shows GSIS members and pensioners fall in line to activate their e-Cards at the GW@PS kiosk located at the ground floor of the Aklan Provincial Capitol building, Estancia, Kalibo. e-Card is necessary for all GSIS members to transact business with the GSIS and for the GSIS pensioners to withdraw their monthly pensions. However, the use of this e-Card causes so much pain to the pensioners who are in a twilight of their lives.
Note this 86 years old man who falls in line to have his e-Card activated. The process seems simple but it took too much time to fall in line. The card activation process is of four steps but experience shows the process is repetitious because most of the time it resulted to unsuccessful validation.
The e-Card will be activated within 24 hours after validation. Believing that a pensioner can be able to withdraw his money after validation, a pensioner proceeds to an ATM booth to withdraw his money only to be frustrated. He needs to file a request with the GSIS office so that his pension will be released. It will take at least another 15 days before his pension money is made available in a bank.
It appears that instead of promoting decent and joyful life for the retired state officials and em-ployees, the GSIS is making it hard and painful for them to spend the remaining parts of their lives. /MP

Local Election Winners In Aklan

By Ambrosio R. Villorente
Re- elected Aklan Provincial Governor CARLITO S. MARQUEZ

Comelec Proclaims Kalibo Winners

Raymar A. Rebaldo and Nilda B. Tambong re-elected mayor and vice mayor respectively and eight other candidates for sangguniang bayan of Kalibo, Aklan. Picture above shows Mayor Rebaldo (extreme right) with (from l to r) Soviet Dela Cruz and Ronce Reyes, (SB Elect), Mark V. Quimpo, Greg Malapad, Lilian Q. Tirol, re-elected SB members. Not in the picture are vice mayor Nilda B. Tambong, Madeline Ang Regalado, Peter Lao and Buencamino Villanueva - elected SB members.

After hectic campaigning for the last 45 days and three days after the election, victorious candidates are now emerging. As of the evening of Friday, May 18, the following candidates are either elected or re-elected. Re-elected are congressman Florencio T. Miraflores and Provincial Governor – Carlito S. Marquez; elected vice governor is Gabrielle V. Calizo. The members of the Aklan sangguniang panlalawigan (Eastern) are Nemesio P. Neron, Daisy Sucro Briones (re-elected), Plaridel Morania (re-elected), Rodson Mayor and Jean O. Rodriguez.
Re-elected members of the sangguniang pan-lalawigan (Western) are Selwyn Ibarreta, Gerick Templonuevo, Ramon Gelito, Pedro Garcia and Jose Yap.
The triumphant mayoralty and vice mayoralty candidates for the 17 towns are: 1. Altavas –Mayor–Dr. Kathryne Refol, Vice Mayor–Guillermo Gervacio; 2. Balete–Mayor–Bubot Calizo, Vice Mayor–Rizal G. Rod-riguez, Jr.; 3. Banga–Mayor–Antonio Mameng, Vice Mayor–Melanio Rentillo; 4. Libacao– Mayor– Charito Navarosa, Vice Mayor–Ramon Zapata; 5. Malinao–Mayor–Dominador Ilio, Jr., Vice Mayor–Rosie Iguban; 6. New Washington– Mayor–Edgar R. Peralta, Vice Mayor–Jean Velarde; 7. Batan–Mayor–Delfina Ramos, Vice Mayor– Jaynar Demeterio; 8. Nabas–Mayor–Romeo Dalisay, Vice Mayor–James V. Solanoy; 9. Malay–Mayor–Ciceron Cawaling, Vice Mayor– John Yap; 10. Buruanga–Mayor–Quezon Labindao, Vice Mayor–Dexter Obrique; 11. Makato–Mayor–Ramon Legaspi, Jr., Vice Mayor– Nelson D. Tapus; 12. Tangalan– Mayor–Gene Fuentes, Vice Mayor– Jed Tirol; 13. Lezo–Mayor–Victor Fernandez, Vice Mayor– Philip John Buenaflor;14. Numancia–Mayor–Elvirita Templonuevo, Vice Mayor–Evangeline M. Ibabao; 15. Kalibo– Mayor–Raymar A. Rebaldo, Vice Mayor– Nilda Tambong; 16. Madalag – Mayor – Rex T. Gubatina, Vice Mayor–Rolando Inosanto; and 17. Ibajay – Mayor – Ma. Lourdes Miraflores, Vice Mayor – Nelson D. Santamaria.
Counting of votes in Ibajay was delayed in view of the questions of the lawyers of Mayor Roberto Garcia, Jr. They questioned some election returns which did not bear seals from the various precincts. Atty. Ferdinand Calunsad complained but Ms. Maiden Acero who substituted Mr. Rolando Malacad did not listen to him. Instead, she proceeded with the counting of votes.
Mr. Rolando Malacad of the Comelec became ill in the process of counting and was accompanied to a private hospital in Kalibo, Aklan.
Ibajay was the last town to submit its certificate of canvass. /MP

BPI Joins Fray To Capture Remittance From Pinoys in Europe


MAKATI CITY—BEFORE sliding to third position in the Philippine banking industry, Ayala family-led Bank of the Philippine Islands set its eyes on the profitable remittance market that Philippine National Bank previously dominated.
But with its shareholder hobbled by regulations in the United States, where bulk of remittances from some eight million overseas Filipinos go through, BPI settled for the United Kingdom.
This was what BPI president Aurelio R. Montinola III told stockholders during their annual meeting last March.
"Why London, when you can target the United States where there are more overseas Filipino workers?" a shareholder echoed what would be expected questions from the banking industry.
"Certainly, we would like to have a branch in the US, but regulatory agencies would not allow us because of our partner, DBS, is not fully engaged in bank operations," Montinola replied.
Singapore’s DBS Group, Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, owns 20 percent of BPI. The rest of the shares are owned by Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp., which also has assets and investments in real estate and water utility.
At the BPI stockholders’ meeting, executives revealed that the move to put up a branch in London, one of the world’s financial centers, has been on the pipeline ever since the bank made inroads in the European remittance market.
According to its plans, BPI will shell out £20 million (or about P1.9 billion) to have a full service branch in London to beef up its remittance center currently based in Italy.
Montinola revealed that in March BPI expected to establish a UK-registered corporation in about six months, although the Financial Services Authority of London has already given BPI its British license to operate a bank last April 26.
"We are in the stage of finalizing our systems now. We are in one location and we need a second location [for technical purposes]. We expect that we would be in the pre-operation stage by about September or October this year and then, for next year, a full operation," he told reporters after the stockholders’ meeting.
"The whole point is to grow from remittance transactions to overseas banking relationships," he added.
Inched out
BPI’S announcement was made at a time when it would slide to third from its current position as the country’s second largest financial institution, having a P473.24-billion net asset.
The slide would occur anytime in the next few weeks as regulators gave the green light for the merger of Equitable-PCI Bank, Inc. and Banco de Oro Universal Bank, currently ranked fourth and fifth largest in the country, respectively.
The two banks, which will carry the name Banco de Oro-EPCI Inc., will have a combined net asset of P607.87 billion, according to its published statement of condition as of December 29, 2006.
The merged entities would dislodge Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank) from its top position, having a net asset of P536.61 billion.
But when BPI starts its London operations, it would be competing head on not with these two banks but with PNB, now majority-owned by tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan.
PNB has been operating a branch in London since 1976. This was later renamed to PNB Europe PLC, which also has a full banking license. Other than handling remittances, PNB’s subsidiary is engaged in export-import financing and corporate and consumer lending.
PNB has 64 remittance centers, including 39 in 11 US states, nine in HK and eight in Canada. It also has 30 bank branches in several countries, with concentration of operations in the US and Canada.
BPI, however, already showed signs it means business, especially in capturing gains from the US$8-billion average annual remittance, when it dislodged PNB in 2005 from the latter’s top position in the global money-sending market.
PNB, the country’s sixth largest bank, lost the initiative last year to BPI when it captured only US$2.2 billion or about 20 percent of the remittance market compared to BPI’s claim of having managed US$3.2 billion (about 22 to 23 percent market share) in money flow.
BPI has been expanding its business aside from the overseas Filipino market, knowing that many of them are already sharing a market that can shrink and grow anytime.
Last year, it opened its Rome-Vittorio Emanuel office, its fourth remittance center in Italy, in order to handle the remittance transactions of Chinese nationals in that country.
"This office raised Italy’s remittance performance by almost 300 percent from the previous year," BPI claimed in its 2006 annual report without citing specific figures.
THE Philippines is the world third largest recipient of remittances, after India and Mexico. Last year, $12.3 billion were sent to the country, or about 10 percent of the gross domestic product.
BPI said it would mainly target the OFWs in the UK, which last year remitted $561.67 million, or about a third of the entire remittances from land-based Filipino workers for Europe, according to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Stock estimates data from the government Commission on Filipinos Overseas for 2005 cites that the UK is home to some 52,977 immigrants from the Philippines.
CFO also estimates there are 72,638 temporary contract workers and 7,480 undocumented migrants for a total of 133,095 Filipinos in that European country. That same year’s estimates showed there are 211,351 immigrants, 523,442 contract workers and 123,282 undocumented migrants, or a total of 858,075 Filipinos in Europe.
Operating in that continent, even with remittance alone, could be profitable for a bank.
For instance, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.’s Rome, Italy-based remittance center RCBC Telemoney Europe SpA. reported a net income of €162,300 (or about P10.47 million or US$220,589) from operations in three major cities.
With a full-service branch, BPI could also offer its other products even before a Filipino leaves for work in Europe.
According to Montinola, they could also offer OFWs other products like a housing loan or the unit investment trust fund aside from a savings account.
"We usually don’t make comments on what we think will happen because numbers are just numbers. We will try to expand first our share and our reach," he said.
"More or less, say, in the first three years of operation, we would sort of navigate our way in figuring how things would turn out," he said.
He, however, added that the ultimate plan was to have its other branches at the rest of Europe but "probably that will be between 2008 and 2009."
Catch up
TECHNICALLY, BPI is playing catch-up with its competitors which have established footholds in other countries since the sixties.
For instance, in August 1963, Equitable Banking Corp., the firm that bought and merged with Philippine Commercial International Bank in 1999, established its full service branch in Hong Kong. It was the first bank in the country to have foreign operations to cater mostly to Filipino-Chinese businessmen.
Currently, EPCIB has 27 remittance centers and a network of 300 correspondent banks, mostly in the US.
It took BPI more than a decade in 1974 to establish its own branch in Hong Kong to tap the same customers that Equitable and other Philippine banks had already mapped out over those years.
In the US market, for one, BPI has a remittance center while Metrobank, Philippine National Bank, and even Allied Banking Corp., through a stake in a US bank, have already established full branches there since the eighties.
Reviewing Metrobank’s financial statement for 2006 reveals that the contribution of its US operations to its total revenues only accounts for a mere 1.28 percent. But this performance contributes 2.7 percent to the bank’s bottomline.
The bank’s audited net income reached P5.53 billion for the year, or 46-percent higher than the previous P3.8 billion.
For the European market, there were already eight local banks with presence in London, according to the BSP website.
However, only two have full-service branches: Allied Commercial Bank UK Plc (public limited company) and sister-firm PNB.
Montinola said they expect a 15-percent increase in remittances that would be coursed through this formal channel of banks.
"The difficulty with all of these projections is not really within our control. People who go abroad… would have to decide if they send money to the Philippines or not," he added.
While Montinola aired his fears that Filipino deployment could slow down in the next few years due to the Philippines’s booming call center industry, BPI still believes this could be still far.
"Over the years, redeployment and migration are seen to be a preferred option for Filipino workers and professionals as long as the domestic economy can not provide meaningful employment," the bank stated in its annual report. /MP

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Tita Linda Belayro
Nagapati baea kamo sa mahika? Sa makaron, maeaka eon lang nga nagakaeatabo rong mahika. Sa moderno eon nga tiyempo, haeos natukiban eon it siyensya ro kato anay nga indi matungkad it tawo. Ogaling sa dumaan nga kalibutan sa kaharian it mga madyekero, puro madyek ro guina kabuhi it mga tawo.
Ro mahika hay halin pa sa mga katigueangan sa pagpamuno ko andang hari nga si Haring Cabonegro. Guin taw-an nana ro mga tawo it kina adman agod magamit sa andang pagpangabuhi. Sa anang alima ro kabuhi it mga tawo. Ro indi kana magsunod hay guina bawian nana it kina adman. Paagi sa anang gahum, hakikita nana ro guina obra it iba.
Sa tanan nga onga, owa guina kilaeaha si Prinsipe Zapiro. Onga imaw sa asawang si Virna. Maeaw-ay si Prinsipe Zapiro ag guina kahuya it hari, tongod puro gwapo ro iba nanang mga onga.
Guina paboran nana ro mga onga kay Voltera nga sanday Arconz, Peregreno ag Paran. Guin taw-an pa nana it dugang nga kina adman ro tatlo, bisan pa abusador ag maatag sa kwarta, paagi sa mahika.
Bu-ot pirme magpamasyar sa baybayon si Prinsipe Zapiro. Halin nga guin kahuya imaw it hari, owa eon imaw naga-adto sa palasyo.
Isaeang adlaw, samtang naga pamasyar imaw sa baybayon, may hakita imaw nga isaeang ka bote nga inanod it taob. Anang guin buksan ro bote ag gumuwa ro berdeng aso. Nagporma nga isaeang ka gwapahon nga babaye. Nagpasaeamat ro babaye. Imaw kuno hay isaeang ka prinsesa nga guin sumpa it bruha. Guin sueod imaw sa bote, ag kon sin-o ro makapoeot ag maglibre kana hay may premyo. Imaw si Prinsesa Charina.
May suksok imaw nga kulentas nga may gahum. Guintao kana ko anang inang reyna. Ro kulentas hay may gahum pag-abot nana it 18 años. Mabuhay nga naduea ro prinsesa. Guina ea-o-man imaw nga patay eot-a.
Ko mga oras ngaron hay nagatungtong eon si Prinsipe Zapiro sa ika-18 años. Golpeng naghayag ro kulentas. Guinbuytan ko prinsesa ro kulentas ag guinliso. Nagtunga ro puting kabayo nga may pakpak.
Sumakay ro daywa ag guindaea sa palasyo it prinsesa. Pag-abot it prinsesa, nagbakod ro hari sa pagbuyot sa kulentas. Nalipay man ro reyna.
Guinkasae si Prinsipe Zapiro ag Prinsesa Charina. Pagkatapos it kasae, nagbakasyon sanda sa kaharian ni Prinsipe Zapiro agod mabisitahan ro anang inang si Voltera.
Hakibot si Prinsipe Zapiro sa pagkasayod nga guin preso ko tatlong ka prinsipe ro anang hari. Ro ina ni Prinsipe Zapiro hay guin obrang sueogo-on it Reyna. Guin tago ro hari sa idaeom it palasyo bilang preso. Paagi sa gahum it kulentas, nakasueod sanda sa peresuhan nga owa it nakakita. Nalipay guid ro hari. Nag no-oe imaw kon ham-an it guin dugañgan ro kina adman it tatlo nanang onga.
Guinbalik ni Prinsipe Zapiro ro hari sa anang trono. Nagwala ro tatlong ka prinsipe. Sa pag-atubang ko anang mga magueang, hakibot sanda kay Prinsipe Zapiro. Guinamit nanda ro andang mga kina adman ogaling mas pwersado ro kulentas ni prinsesa Charina. Ro andang kina adman hay guina gamit nanda sa kaeainan ngani nadaog kong kulentas nga guina gamit sa kamaeayran. Sa pageoya ko kina adman it tatlo, natigayon ro pagbalik sa trono ni Haring Cabonegro. Nagpasaeamat man ro mga tawo tongod naka pahuway man sanda sa kapintas ko pagdumaea ko tatlong ka magmanghod. Guindaea ni prinsipe Zapiro ro anang Inang Reyna sa anang pagbalik bilang hari idto sa kaharian ni Reyna Charina. /MP

Peso’s Gain Is OFW’s Bane


IN A remittance slip, there was an additional US$50 that Cesar Dimasupil’s daughter Arlene sent from London. But he remained stoic.
"That [money] would just even things out," Dimasupil said of the dilemma that most families of overseas Filipino workers are facing under a stronger peso and a record-low inflation rate.
Dimasupil, like most Filipinos brought up in a male-as-strong society, said he does not know if he should celebrate for getting the added money from something he said he shouldn’t have asked from his daughter in the first place.
"But what can I do? They said the strong peso could lead to lower prices. That hasn’t happened in the past months," Dimasupil said.
The Dimasupil family shares the conundrum of a Philippine economy that a recent World Bank (WB) report said has been growing, in part because of the cash sent by nearly eight million Filipinos temporarily or permanently working or living abroad.
In a report released by the WB last month, it noted that the stronger peso helped inflation rates to fall to 4.3 percent by end-2006 and to 2.6 percent by February this year. Food and oil prices remained "relatively" stable, the WB said.
Pummeled in recent years by political shocks to the economy and macro-economic anxieties, the peso appreciated by nearly eight percent against the US dollar in 2006, and strengthened further in early this year.
It’s a cause celebre for most businesses, especially importers who can pay less from products they’re bringing in from abroad.
But for an economy that the WB said is relying on consumption, the celebration isn’t felt yet by OFW families in the Philippines whose remittance receipt is boosting consumption.
According to economist Fernando Aldaba, herein lies the risk of an economy relying much on remittances since many OFWs could also hedge on a possible uptick of the dollar.
BUT with the expected spending this May up to June, particularly on tuition and school expenses, the hedge couldn’t be applied despite the peso gaining further against the greenback on a two-month high of P47 (per US$) exchange rate.
"That enrolment is just around the corner prompted me to ask for the additional money," Dimasupil said whose two other children are also studying to be nurses like Arlene.
Indeed, low inflation rate may have abated prices of basic commodities from pushing up but the cost of education, something held dearly by most Filipino families, remain expensive.
Beth Realubid said, she "also asked her husband Lando in Bahrain to hike what he sends monthly." They have three children who are all studying in college.
According to Jose Alfonso, a seafarer, aside from tuition, the higher cost of his brother’s clothing requirements in a maritime school also caused him to send an additional hundred dollars a month.
"My brother asked that his monthly dollar allowance be raised because the peso equivalent of what I used to send him has gone down," Alfonso said.
Before, Alfonso sent US$150 a month, which was equivalent to around P8,400. But with the appreciation of the peso, that amount is now just a few change above P7,000.
"I feel like losing a thousand pesos every month," he added.
Alfonso’s brother Michael also needs an additional US$25 in allowance to be able to pay rent and eat three times a day. He lives in a Manila dormitory and goes to their home in the province of Cavite on weekends.
Arlene’s parents, on the other hand, used to get the equivalent of around P28,000 from her US$500 monthly remittance.
Now, her parents said they get only a little more than P23,500, a difference of P4,500 since the exchange rate of P56 to US$1 in 2005.
"Yung ibinaba ay sapat na para sa allowance ng isang bata sa isang buwan." (The difference is already equivalent to a month’s allowance of one kid going to college), Flavia, Arlene’s mother, said.
STILL, not all Filipinos sending money home are pessimistic. Take US-based overseas Filipino-turned-exporter Robert Ceralvo. He expects a stronger peso to "gradually –and hopefully not very long– translate to lower prices of utilities, commodities and many other day-to-day needs that the OFW family regularly purchases and consumes."
"A lower exchange rate, which at the onset translates to lower domestic purchasing power for OFW beneficiary families, will, in time, translate to a general increase in the real purchasing power, i.e. it will be cheaper to buy imported goods, cheaper to travel abroad, etc.," Ceralvo said in reply to questions sent by electronic mail.
Indeed, the average inflation has fallen substantially from 7.6 percent in 2005 to 6.2 percent in 2006 as the dollar weakened against the peso.
Ceralvo added a stronger peso spells "good news for businesses that rely on imported input or raw materials and for those who are investing on call centers, telecoms and BPOs who are buying and bringing in new technology from other countries."
But from an exporter’s point of view, Ceralvo said they share the same sentiments as the OFWs have.
"Right now our handicrafts, woodcrafts, toys, gifts and collectibles, home furnishings, Christmas décor, apparel and garments industries are gasping their last breathe, trying to survive from stiff competition from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, new republics from eastern Europe and Africa," he explained.
"A strong currency … will make our exports more expensive, and a fall in exports has a negative effect on our economic growth," he added.
For some OFWs like Arlene, however, sending the additional remittance amount meant additional work hours or securing additional sources of income.
Her father said their daughter has asked the administrator of the hospital she’s working for to increase her weekly overtime by at least five hours.
"She cannot just increase my remittances without increasing her monthly income," Arlene’s father said.
On the other continent, Lando Realubid began repairing appliances for fees lower than licensed repair shops.
His wife Beth said, Lando does this on his off-hours working in the docks of Bahrain as a port-based third engineer.
"He makes an additional US$100 to US$200 a month doing appliance repairs," Beth said. However, this is seasonal since she said there are months when no one asks for repairs.
Joseph, likewise, had to work extra hours. From a 52-hour workweek, including overtime, he is now breaking his back 12 hours more, or two additional hours everyday on a six-day workweek on board a tanker.
"For a fragile, ‘strange’ economy like ours, there are certainly losers and winners in the fluctuation of the exchange rates, both short-term and long-term," Ceralvo said.
Still, he added that the OFW family has more leverage and hedging abilities than the rest of the population, to offset the negative effects of a strong currency.
"They can still fully enjoy the positive effects of a deteriorating peso exchange rate," because they can rely on our dollars, he said. /MP

The Genes: The Science Behind Cagayan Valley Goat and Sheep Expo

Why do show-winning animals win? At the recently held 2nd Cagayan Valley Goat and Sheep Expo, the secret is in their genes!
The adjudged best goats and sheep in the conformation show during the Expo have superior genes developed through research and development on genetics, and breeding and selection supported with good health care and management.
"Each breed of goat has a standard. For example, the Boer goat is an animal of quality with balance and symmetry and a strong and vigorous appearance, with a body that is fleshy and boldly three-dimensional — that is long, deep and wide," explained Dr. Synan S. Baguio, senior science research specialist at PCARRD.
Baguio added "every part of the animal’s body is explicitly described in its breed standards. De-viations from these standards are considered either faults or a dis-qualification depending on how such deviation downgrades the animal’s performance and physical attributes," sharing his insights on scientific judging of show animals.
Consequently, the expo adopted established breed standards for goats and sheep as reference in objectively judging the conformation of the animals during the show, making it the first of its kind in the country.
The Expo is a good example of how science and technology (S&T) is well appreciated by ordinary people, by goat and sheep raisers, the academe and animal technicians.
In fact, S&T is also evident in the manner by which handlers raised their animals. Scientific, indeed, were the methods that PCARRD and partner R&D institutes passed on to the local technicians of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 2 (DA-RFU 2) prior to the expo. Such methods eventually found their way to the local goat and sheep raisers.
The two training courses, which were conducted and co-sponsored by PCARRD and hosted by the DA-RFU2 prior to the expo imparted to participants the principles behind small ruminant breeding and selection; the standards of breed and show animal handling and judging; and assessed the participants’ skills through hands-on practices.
Backed by S&T, Cagayan Valley secured the success of its 2nd Expo. It earned for itself positive recognition for the pioneering and trailblazing effort in promoting a science-based goat and sheep industry in Region 2. This is expected to translate to premium prices for and preference to high quality genetics, which manifest in good physical attributes. After all, "genetics is king"; in ensuring the top per-formance of future animal generations.
Organizers, including the DA-RFU 2, the Isabela Sheep and Goat Raisers Development Cooperative, the Isabela State University, and the Cagayan Valley Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Con-sortium intend to further improve the succeeding expos through S&T-based initiatives. (Dante T. Facundo, S&T Media Service) /MP

DTI Schedules 2nd Visayas OTOP Fair in Boracay

Region 6 will play host to the 2nd Visayas One Town One Product (OTOP) fair at the white beach Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan. The fair will be held for five days from 23 – 27 May 2007 at the La Carmela de Boracay Resort. The opening program is at 6:00 pm on May 23. A total of 112 OTOP Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from Region 6 (45 SMEs), Region 7 (37 SMEs), and Region 8 (30 SMEs), are expected to join.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Dominic P. Abad revealed the fair will be highlighted by a night market on the beach from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm daily while regular selling from 2:00 pm – 11:00 pm daily will be conducted at the second floor of the resort. Products for sale include: souvenir items, beachwear, novelty items, furnishings, natural fiber, fashion accessories such as bags, shawls, headgears and footwears, also food items and horticulture inputs for landscaping.
To add color to the fair, a daily live mannequin show will be done from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, featuring the different products of Regions 6, 7 and 8. To make the fair more alive, a rolling band will be commissioned to roam from station 1, 2 and 3 in addition to a sailboat bearing the OTOP logo that will sail around the Island. To enliven the night market, a sand art castle with all the candlelights featuring OTOP will be mounted plus a band to play reggae music.
According to Dir. Abad, the Island of Boracay was chosen as the fair venue because most souvenir shops are there. It is where the domestic and foreign tourists abound and it has great market and tourism potentials. Invited to come are buyers from Manila and from the three regions, governors and mayor and other government officials from the national government agencies, among others.
Abad stressed that the 2nd OTOP fair will focus on the selling of products produced by the SMEs of the three regions under the DTI OTOP Philippines program to promote entrepreneurship and create jobs in the countryside. It encourages the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to produce and market distinct products or services using the indigenous raw materials and manpower through the Local Government Units (LGUs), which take the lead in identifying, developing, and promoting a specific product or service which has a competitive advantage. The DTI through the Regional Operations group and the SME Development Group assist the LGUs in identifying the specific product and coordinate other forms of assistance from other government agencies such as the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources , Interior and Local Government, DOST, DOT and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority. Package of assistance includes business counseling, skills and entrepreneurial training, marketing, and introduction of appropriate technologies.
The 1st OTOP fair was held in Cebu City last year focused on the product development initiatives of the DTI. It highlighted the tourism and market potentials of the Supra Region, the Central Philippines, attracted more than half of the foreign tourists in the country. The fair became a vehicle to showcase the OTOPs of Regions 6, 7 and 8. It generated sales amounting to P3.77M for the 4-day fair.
The DTI is bent on supporting the LGUs in promoting the products of the OTOP SMEs. Lately, the DTI has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Development Bank of the Philippines for a special window on financing for the OTOP SMEs. (Reby M. Melliza/DTI-6) /MP

Scholars Prove Value of Council’s HRD Investments

They affirm once again the value of PCARRD’s investments in human resource development. Three PCARRD scholars shared the limelight as the Pest Management Council of the Philippines (PMCP) and its member societies honored their own at the group’s 38th Annual Scientific Con-ference held recently at the Bohol Tropics Resort, Tag-bilaran City.
Benguet State University (BSU) professor, Dr. Luciana M. Villanueva was named Pest Management Awardee in Research. She was a PCARRD scholar (1979-1983) while pur-suing her PhD in Plant Pathology at the Univer-sity of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
PMCP recognized her significant contribution to the development of effective and sustainable management strategies against plant parasitic nematodes and fungi associated with highland vegetables, strawberry and chrysanthemum in the Cordillera.
PMCP further cited her pioneering work on chrysanthemum diseases provided the baseline information for the de-velopment of an in-tegrated disease ma-nagement strategy. This included the discovery and development of fungal hyperparasites as bio-logical control for chrysanthemum white rust. This technology reduced fungicide application by 34 percent resulting to savings valued at P59,000 / ha.
These contributions in the field of pest management have sig-nificantly improved the cutflower and vegetable industry not only in the Cordilleras but nationwide.
The Philippine Phy-topathological Society (PPS) named University of Southern Mindanao (USM) professor, Dr. James Silvestre as the Gerardo O. Ocfemia Outstanding Plant Pathologist. This is in re-cognition of his dis-tinguished contributions to instruction, research and extension in the field of Plant Pathology. Silvestre received a grant from PCARRD in 2000 for his PhD dissertation in Plant Pathology at UPLB.
PPS recognized Silvestre’s teaching versatility that has benefited many students in Plant Pathology and related fields at USM. He was thesis adviser to hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students, some of whom are now noted teachers, researchers and leaders in various public and private agencies.
His citation in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World International points to his leadership and achievement evidenced by his numerous plant disease discoveries, his research and extension projects and various local and international awards.
Meanwhile, the Phi-lippine Association of Entomologists (PAE) named BSU professor, Dr. Lita M. Colting as the L.B. Uichangco Out-standing Entomologist. Colting was a PCARRD scholar in both her MS and PhD in Entomology, which she completed in 1983 and 1998, respectively.
PAE cited her as an exemplary educator who has mentored a number of award-winning student researchers. Incidentally, she was conferred the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award in 2002.
Her contribution to the management of leafminer and tuber moth, highlighted in her comprehensive fieldwork with farmers and technicians in the Cordillera provinces that led to the development of practical, sustainable and en-vironment-friendly pest management measures in the production of potato and other vegetable crops.
In a related de-velopment, Dr. Virginia R. Ocampo was named PMCP Awardee for Instruction while Ms. Priscilla M. Barcial was conferred the Marcos R. Vega Memorial Award by Weed Science Society of the Philippines (WSSP) . Both are from the UPLB Crop Protection Cluster.
The PMCP is composed of three scientific societies and three associations which are the PPS, PAE and the WSSP. The three associations are the Pest Control As-sociation of the Philippines,CropLife Phi-lippines, and the Crop Protection Association of the Philippines. (Lily Ann D. Lando, S&T Media Service) /MP

Friday, May 11, 2007

EDITORIAL - May 6 - 12 Issue

The Art of Election Cheating

Cheat – the act of deceiving or swindling; to deal with dishonesty for one’s own gain; to deceive by trickery. Cheat is a general term which implies dishonesty or deception in dealing with a person to obtain some advantage.
Another term for it is defraud, a legal term that stresses a deliberate deception in criminality that deprives a person of his rights.
Swindle stresses the winning of a person’s confidence in order to cheat or defraud a person of money, possession and others. Dupe stresses credulity in a person who is tricked or fooled. Trick implies a deluding by means of a ruse stratagem. Hoax implies a trick skillfully carried off to demonstrate the gullibility of a victim.
In this election on May 14, pessimists predict there will be cheaters, some will be duped, candidates maybe swindled of his/her votes. There will also be hoax. Will you be one of these specifically during this May 14 election? Please exclude yourself.
If the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials are correct, the May 14 election will be rigged. These former AFP officers called themselves Poll Watchdog Coalition or "Bantay Boto".
According to them, there is a fresh plot to cheat in the May 14 election, aimed to ensure victory for the administration’s senatorial candidates.
Bantay Boto revealed it received reports on the existing "Oplan Mercury Rising" designed to bag the top three slots for team unity (TU) in the Visayas, Mindanao and 12 other provinces in the country. The three are Michael Defensor, Jose Miguel Zubiri and Prospero Pichay.
Retired Commodore Ismael Aparri of Bantay Boto issued warnings to concerned officers that Bantay Boto "will watch their every move until the final count is in". "Cheating will take place and we will try to limit it," assured Aparri.
Huge cash incentives for local government and Comelec officials will be offered for the delivery of 12–0 win for TU, revealed Aparri. Bonus is added if Alan Peter Cayetano got zero vote.
Aparri alleged, general Hermogenes Esperon, AFP chief of staff issued instructions to military commanders to ensure 12-0 for TU win. During the absentee voting of military personnel between May 4-6, army personnel were advised to vote straight TU, alleged Aparri.
However, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro denied the allegation saying: "Let’s not drag the AFP into something it is not doing."
After the voting has ended, adding and subtracting of votes will start. Votes will be added to candidates who paid while votes will be subtracted from the candidates who did not pay. Those candidates with money and are willing to spend it for vote adding or shaving will win the election.
This will happen as it happened in the past elections. The operators usually do votes adding and shaving in the town and provincial levels.
The town level involves P100,000 or below per candidate and P200,000 to P1 million in the provincial level depending upon the size of the province or city concerned in term of voters population, said an unnamed source who used to be part of the past operations.
The money is prepared and then look for a guide who may identify the right election officer to bribe for they are the custodian of the certificate of canvass (COCs).
But why cheat? Swindle? Defraud? Why do candidates dupe or hoax their rivals? Are they really honorable persons?
The cheaters are most fitted for the dustbin. They are not the best person to lead us, the people. Okay, they are proclaimed senator, congressman, governor, vice governor, SP or SB member, Mayor and Vice Mayor because they cheated, then they are fake officials. They defrauded the real and actual winners. They are dishonorables. They are power hungry.
In Akeanon terms, they are "sueok, hakog, maakop, akab, hangoe!" /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

By Ambrosio R. Villorente

It’s A Holiday On May 14
On Monday, May 14 will be an official public holiday in the Philippines. There will be no office because that day is a national and local elections. All qualified voters are expected to go to their respective polling places to cast their votes for the servant leaders whom we, you and I will entrust to manage the affairs of government.
After months of campaigning, it is hoped all the candidates have had presented themselves to the electorates. They should have very well presented their qualifications to the voters such as their education and training, experiences, and track records sufficient to discharge the functions of the office or offices they are aspiring for.
Among the candidates, we will elect 31 out of the candidates to the May 14 election. We will elect 12 senators, one congressman, governor, vice governor, five (5) sangguniang panlalawigan members, one party-list, mayor, vice mayor and eight (8) members of the sangguniang bayan of the municipality where we are voting.
Each party-list a group of people who belong to a disadvantage or marginalized group not otherwise represented in congress. A voter votes for a party and not the individual. A party-list which obtained two (2) percent of all the votes cast is entitled to one (1) representative to the House of Representatives. The number one nominee of that partylist will represent that party-list group.
Candidates List
Since a voter may vote for 31 candidates, it is of high possibility to forget the names of the candidates whom a voter has earlier decided to vote for. A voter who has no list will spend more time recalling the name of the 31 candidates he/she has decided to vote for. His/her hurry to finish voting may force him/her to write names of candidates not of his/her choice. Therefore, list is needed.
Probably, he/she will just fold his ballot leaving several spaces blank and give it to the poll clerk. He/she forfeited the right to vote. Moreover, the blank spaces maybe filled up by interested persons of the names of other candidates, hence, induces cheating, and the election will not reflect the "will" of the people.
Factors To Consider In Voting
Suffrage is both an individual right and a duty to country. While qualified voters have the right to vote, voters have also the duty to vote for the candidates who are best qualified and suited for the positions they are aspiring for. The voters must follow certain basis in voting. They must consider candidates’ motivation why they are aspiring for that position. Voters must examine the candidates’ competencies to fulfill their platform of government once elected to that position. Voters must examine the past performance and activities of the candidates.
During campaign period, the candidates for various positions must have fully discussed their qualifications, platform of government and their previous performances with the electorates. On this basis, the voters may rank the candidates. In case of Senators, 12 will be elected. So that the top 12 candidates will be your choice. This procedure may be followed also in the case of sangguniang panlalawigan members – top 5 and sangguniang bayan members – top 8.
Voters may also rank candidates for congressman, governor, vice governor, mayor and vice mayor and vote for the number one rank.
Safeguarding Votes
Your votes will mean nothing unless properly credited and counted for the candidates whom voters voted. There is a need to be vigilant to safeguard votes. Voters may watch the canvassing, tabulation and summation of votes. They must guard the ballot boxes to avoid switching until it reached the hands of the designated storage room and custodian. Voters must watch to prevent the tampering of Certificates of Canvass.
This May 14 election perhaps will be the last chance of the Philippines to elect the most deserving servant leaders who are honest, intelligent, diligent and capable to redeem the lost glory of the Philippines. May those officials concerned in the management of the election do their jobs with maximum honesty and integrity. This election is the last chance to stop graft and corruption in the government and alleviate massive poverty.
I hope the charge of Ms. Maria Betina Mobo Garcia of the arrivals of election magicians in Aklan is not true and no election anomaly will ever happen in Aklan more so in the whole Philippines. /MP