Monday, November 30, 2015

November 15- 21, 2015

Quotation of the Week

   “A pessimist is a person who, regardless of the present, is disappointed in the future.”


Singing of the Philippine National Hymn during the Turn  Over Ceremony of the various assistance to the Yolanda victims held in covered court, Dumaguit, New Washington, Aklan lead by Hon. Richard J. Gordon and Mayor Edgar Peralta. 

Photo above shows Hon. Fernandez, Brgy. Captain of Mabilo, New Washingto, Aklan, receiving symbolic key to the core shelter from Hon. Richard J. Gordon and Mr. Patrick Elliot of International Federation of Red Cross.
Gordon talking to the Ati-ati tribe as they welcome him and his group in the KIA.


Sarangani Governor Steve Solon (left) and Senator Bongbong Marcos answering questions on various economic and political issues from both the local and national media during the press briefing at the Sarangani Provincial Capitol.

  Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. this week said  the government should abandon its penchant for importing agricultural products and instead provide easy credit facilities to farmers, lead research and development in agriculture, improve the country’s irrigation system which has deteriorated since 1984, and continue  pursuing the construction of more farm-to-market roads in strategic areas.
 Marcos said statistics show that 70 percent of the poor are in the agriculture sector.
“Kaya’t sa palagay ko balikan muna natin ang agrikultura and make public investments not only in funding, infrastructure and in all other ways we can help our farmers.”
  Earlier, reports said the country’s economy grew by 6 percent in the third quarter of the year, the third fastest expansion of economies in Asia in the quarter with China and Vietnam leading respectively.
“Sinasabi nila ang ganda raw ng ating ekonomiya, one of the best in Asia pero hindi nararamdaman ng taong bayan. Ang yumayaman lamang yung mayaman na at yung mga malalaking korporasyon. Kaya’t ang dapat nating tinitingnan ay inclusive growth,” Marcos said in his speech during the celebration of Sarangani Province’s 23rd anniversary.
Marcos emphasized, “Government must institute measures to ensure the benefits of economic growth will be felt by all Filipinos.”
 Marcos lamented that despite the good performance of the country’s economy the poverty rate remains practically unchanged along with the unemployment rate, prompting many Filipinos to seek jobs (outside the Philippines).
“Let us start from the very foundation of our economy—the agricultural sector. I believe that doing so would make our country a better place for all of our people,” Marcos concluded.
On the other hand, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. virtually turned the tables on President Aquino who has asked him to apologize to the people. Marcos said Mr. Aquino himself should apologize if he thinks he has done something wrong as President of the Philippines.
 Marcos said the people are more interested on issues that directly affect their lives on a daily basis and their future, “People are looking for answers on why the drug problem in the country is getting so bad. Why are the prices of commodities so high? Why can’t I get a job?”
 Marcos asserted, “The people want solutions to the lingering poverty in the country, the lack of jobs and other woes.”/MP


     Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. on Friday, November 21, said the cost incurred in terms of money and effort in hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit could be well worth it.
 “If you are going to host a very important international conference like the APEC that we had, you have to make sure you do it properly, and security is a very large part of that equation. So I’m glad that it was done well and it was well organized,” said Marcos in a press briefing in Baguio City.
 He said efforts to ensure the safety of the 21 Heads of State attending the leaders’ meeting, some of them the most powerful Heads of State in the world, could not be considered overkill.
 “You must make sure nothing bad happens to them. Can you imagine, isipin nyo may mangyari habang nandito sila kung papano tayo mapapahiya? No amount of money can buy your reputation back kung may mangyari na ganun,” he stressed.
Marcos also said critics should not be taking potshots at the efforts of the government to promote the country particularly when it’s our time to shine in the world’s stage.
 Among others, the government has been getting flak for reportedly spending P10 billion for the APEC summit.
 “Of course P10 billion is a great deal of money and we will find out where it all went. But if our economic managers, in their meeting with the other government leaders, have made some advantageous trade arrangements with all these other countries, then we can say it’s worth it,” Marcos concluded.
On the other hand, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. this week urged the government to help the group of Filipina inventor Aisa Mijeno to realize her goal of mass producing salt-water powered LED lamp.
 Marcos said it is sad that the government has yet to provide support for Mijeno’s invention when both US President Barack Obama and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma of Alibaba had recognized the potential of the invention.
 Mijeno, CEO of SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) shared the stage with Obama and Ma at the APEC CEO Summit where Obama moderated a session after his speech on climate change. Mijeno needs funding to mass produce the lamp.
“SALt’s invention has gained international attention and earned various awards. It is puzzling why we have not seen any effort from the government to help bring this product of Filipino ingenuity to the market,” Marcos lamented.
 The LED lamp can provide 8-hours of light powered only by a solution of water and two tablespoons of salt or plain seawater.
 The Senator noted that SALt’s invention which will provide a cheap and dependable source of light in many rural areas of the country where there is still no electricity will also give employment if mass produced here in the country.
 At the very least, Marcos said concerned government agencies should take the initiative of reaching out to Mijeno’s group to inform them of the assistance they could avail of under RA 7459 or the Investors and Inventions Incentives Act.
 Marcos said inventors have been complaining in the past that they experience difficulty in trying to avail of incentives they are entitled to receive under the law, prompting many of them to find support outside the country.
 “We should be the first ones to benefit from the innovative creations of our inventors. Unless we give them adequate support we will always lose out from investors abroad who are always on the lookout for promising new products,” Marcos concluded/MP


    Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo this week urged the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to learn from Japan’s experience in the privatization of its Japan National Railways (JNR) to avoid costly and inequitable missteps if government pursues its plan to chop up and privatize the Philippine National Railways.
Romulo made the call following the signing of an agreement by President Benigno S. Aquino III and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to build the $2-billion North Commuter Railway from Tutuban, Manila to Malolos, Bulacan. The project which intends to “address the congestion challenges posed by urbanization” is said to be the largest loan package given by Japan to a development partner.
Romulo pointed out that the North Commuter Railway is actually the “infamously corrupted NorthRail that was carved out of the PNR North Line from Tutuban to Dagupan.”
He said that its viability as an independent operation from the PNR has not been publicly validated.
Obviously, the plan of the DOTC is to chop up the Philippine National Railways with its North Line spun off and developed with the Japanese loans while the PNR South Line, from Tutuban all the way to Legaspi  shall be sold off to private entities. The South line includes the immediately profitable Tutuban to Calamba operation and valuable PNR real estate.
The government is expected to proceed on Dec. 1 with the submission of qualification documents by interested bidders for the South Railway Project. It is one of the biggest government PPP projects and involves the rehabilitation of the 653 kilometers long railway from Tutuban to Legazpi then possibly to Matnog, Sorsogon.
“The Japanese when they privatized the JNR, carefully studied  the economic viability of the rail coverage of the planned separate railway operations arising from the privatization,” Romulo said.
“While the Japan National Railways was broken up and privatized into 7 railway companies, each new rail operation was organized on the basis of ascertained viability of the area covered,” he noted.
  “Let it not be said that we did not speak out on this very important matter, I urged the DOTC to conduct an immediate, thorough and transparent study to ensure that the projects will provide long-term and maximum benefits for our people, Let us not repeat the negative experiences we had in the MRT public-private partnership misadventure.” Romulo said/MP

 Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda
Ni Tita Linda Belayro

   Pila eon nga adlaw ro nag taliwan nga owa it dakop ro mangingisda.  Pang ap-at eon nga adlaw makaron. Agahon pa si Undoy hay nag halin sa anda ag  sa bilog nga sang-adlaw owa it pahuway nga itsa it lambat, ogaling owa gihapon imaw it hadakpang isda.
“Siin baea tanan ro mga isda naga panago? Indi ako mag pati nga owa gid it maskin sambilog nga ibis nga habilin”. Hambae ko pobreng mangingisdang Undoy. Nagdesider imaw nga mauli eon lang ogaling nag ta-o pa imaw it katapusan nga tsansa. Initsa nana ro anang lambat ag mag poepanihoe. Sa anang paghunos ko lambat, may hakita imaw nga maisot nga isda nga naga pisik-pisik. Nalipay imaw ko una, apang pagkakita nana ko maisot nga ibis, tinukob  imaw it kaeo-oy.
“Mahimo eon konta nga daehon ko sa baeay rondayang ibis, ogaling ano ro akong mabo-oe kara ay maniwang manlang ag maisot pa. Habatian nana nga nag hambae rong isda.
“Ma-eo-oy ka, amo. Ibalik mo ako sa dagat. Basi kon gina-usoy ako makaron ko akong inang isda. Hueata eon lang nga ako magbahoe agod mapuslan mo ako”. Sa kakibot ni Undoy, initsa nana rong isda sa tubi. Dayon nana uli sa andang baeay.
Nagtaliwan ro pilang adlaw, halipatan eon nana ratong isda. Masakit ro anang unga ag owa sanda it pangbayad sa duktor. Hapilitan si Undoy nga magpangisda. Sa una nana nga pag itsa pa-eang hay abo nga isda ro anang hadakpan. Sa mga isda ngaron hay may nag hambae kana.
“Abo guid nga saeamat ay owa mo ako gin daea sa inyo. Pag-uli ko sa among pamilya, gin sugid ko kanda ro imong ka-eo-oy kakon, busa iya kami naga baeos kimo.” Hambae ko isda nga makaron hay nagbahoe eon.
“Pasensyaha gid ninyo ako ay may masakit ro akong unga. Bo-ot namon nga daehon sa duktor ogaling owa kami it kwarta.” Sabat man ni Undoy mangingisda.
Mangan-angan tumunga rong isdang mabahoe, ro tatay ko isda. May angkit nga perlas sa anang bibig. Gin tao nana  kay Undoy. Nagpasaeamat imaw.
Halin kato owa eon si Undoy naga adto sa baybay. Ro kabakeanan ko perlas hay andang gin negosyo ag naka patindog pa sanda it baeay./MP

  By Ernesto T. Solidum

The weekly Kapihan at NVC Carmen Hotel on November 21, 2015 discussed the topic, “International Men’s Day” celebration. The guests are all from Men Opposed to Violence Against Women and Children Everywhere (MOVE), Aklan namely: Franklin Quimpo-founding president, Ameliti-Mutuc Farales, and Paul Abriam Pelayo. 
Mr. Quimpo said that MOVE, Aklan  is currently celebrating its 16th year when the International Men’s Day was founded.  The observance falls on November 19 and celebrated in 60 countries worldwide. The theme this year’s celebration is: “Make a Difference for Men and Boys”. The concept and advocacy are very similar to MOVE, Aklan like promoting gender equality, positive role model of men in family and community.  We will have a commemorative program on Wednesday, November 25, at 8:00 o’clock in the morning to be held at the Provincial Capitol grounds where participants will wear orange uniform, a UN color to symbolize termination of violence against women and children, Franklin Quimpo stressed.
MOVE, Aklan is now on its 8th year since its registration in 2007 averred Mr. Farales. The legal basis is RA 9262 or Anti-violence against Women and Children Act which is also the foundation of Gender Advocacy for Development (GAD). This convergence is jointly celebrated annually from November 25 to December 18. We have community-based chapters in Kalibo, Malinao, Nabas as well as government-based officers as provincial government, PNP and DILG. Our active membership has reached 600 Nation-wide.
Those who volunteer to join must be of legal age, persons of strong moral conviction willing to use his talents and energy toward uplifting the status of women and children, and determined to renounce all forms of violence such as physical, financial and emotional. Recently, we were invited to launch MOVE, Capiz chapter and organize NVC MOVE, Juniors.
We acknowledged the able leadership of our Honorary Chairman Gov. Joeben T. Miraflores who is providing regularly 5 percent annual subsidy to program and projects of MOVE, Aklan and GAD that resulted to winning national recognition for MOVE, Aklan as an outstanding NGO last year and License hub, confided the Chief, Human Resource Management of DAR.
Mr. Pelayo stated that the logic of using men to convince other men of MOVE’s advocacy is plain and simple. One cannot be irked or displeased when men talk it out between and among themselves than women. The machochismo or false chivalry is too powerful to be ignored. In this way by ruffling no feathers we win more converts to our cause.
Our 6th Congress had two approved Resolutions: a) commending the DILG for recognizing all MOVE, Aklan chapters, and b) Civil Service Commission (CSC) for enjoining all government employees and their families to support the nation-wide campaign to end violence, Mr. Pelayo concluded.
Move, Aklan is basically a referral organization working in coordination with appropriate government agencies like PNP, DOJ-Prosecutors’ Office, DENR, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and DSWD. Its army of young volunteers though dedicated and capable could hardly make a dent in the wave of violence committed in our midset. The PNP crime statistics has this latest data: 1.9 million loose firearms in the country, 145 robberies everyday, 457 victimized by thieves, 28 women being raped everyday and 27 killings every day. Ironically, we have 9 laws covering the protection and welfare of women and children against all forms of violence. Yet the statutes are not properly enforced by authorities.
It appears that MOVE, Aklan has not benefitted so much from holding annual congresses. Invited speakers from coordinating agencies such as PNP, DOJ and DSWD usually report on current problems related to crimes against women and children and their corporate action. Data presented could be prepared that will include: Program, activities, description, objective(s), person or agency responsible, time frame and budget. These documents must be presented during executive meetings called for the purpose and approved for implementation. It must be remembered that an organization though non- profits must be transparent and accountable.
Confirmed reports show that 1st class municipalities like Kalibo and Malay lead in the number of crimes perpetuated against women and children. Obviously,the tourism boom and the  preponderance of beer joints, pub, bar, videoke bar, disco bar, saloon bar and massage parlors especially in Boracay are mainly responsible for crimes upsurge. This knowledge can be a tool to design the best strategy to minimize if not totally prevent crimes against the fair sex and children./MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

Media in conflict management appears very simple topic to discuss. However, the topic is interesting and very useful in our everyday life. Media is information channel and interpreter of issues in political, cultural, social and economic issues.
As discussed in a recent seminar among students of the Northwestern Visayan Colleges in Kalibo, Mr. Angelo B. Palmones demonstrated to the students the need in our daily life “Conflict Management”. Mr. Palmones is the Assistant Vice President for News and Current Affairs, Manila Broadcasting Company – DZRH. He is also president of AGHAM, Inc.
It is very important that members of the media or press must know and appreciate the importance of conflict management as: media shapes stories that the members cover, journalists have opinions and beliefs; media owners like radio/TV and newspapers have economic interests, and they want to sell their stories, and programs to the public. Most of the time, media covers conflict and they tend sometimes to distort realities. They lead people to think that conflict is pervasive and peace is abnormal.
Media responds to more imminent problems such as the weather, traffic and natural disaster among others. As a watchdog, media gives feedback to the public on local problems like the traffic problem in Metro Manila . Media brings hidden stories out into the public view like the “Tanim Bala” in the NAIA. 
Media sets agenda, filters issues and maintains balance of views. These are done by presenting the views of all sides.
 It is hard to believe, but media is a policy maker. A media outfit such as radio/TV stations and newspapers must establish and maintain credibility in order to earn the respect of policy makers. Opinions and recommendations of members of the press who had earned good reputation and with high credibility can easily influence policy and decision makers to accept their recommendations.  Media can also be a tool of policy makers like government officials and business leaders to get across their message. 
In foreign policy of a country, media can serve as a diplomat who sends messages back and forth between and among all sides of a conflict like the conflict in the Philippine sea. Media helps break diplomatic deadlock and assists in the promotion and mobilization of public support for agreement. It helps build confidence between the parties, as it bridges the gap between and among them.
The government should provide all available assistance to farmers affected by typhoon Lando to enable them to rebuild their lives as soon as possible, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos strongly suggested. 
“Assistance to the victims should not end with just the distribution of relief goods. We should give adequate support to our farmers so they can resume planting and return to normal as soon as possible,” Marcos added. This suggestion is worthy of consideration and approval. 
 The government should provide cheap credit facilities to the affected farmers like the Sikat Saka program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
 Other credit facilities available include the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program, Agri-Microfinance Program, and the Cooperative Banks Agri-Lending Program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
 “But as much as possible the process should be simplified so the farmers could avail of the loans as soon as possible,” Marcos suggested. Forget the voluminous supporting documents. The farmers’ crops must be covered with insurance under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation to ensure they can rise again from the devastation of typhoon Lando.
 The DA should field its technicians to help farmers determine the best use of lands submerged in floods and covered with thick mud. It must also provide seeds to farmer affected by the typhoon. 
Some 152 years after the birth of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the revolutionary movement Katipunan, exploitative conditions in vast haciendas and plantations remain in the Philippines.
 The national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said that farm and agricultural workers continue to slave away to produce cash crops for the interests of foreign enterprises and the local landowning elite – the same cycle of oppression that Bonifacio and the Katipunan sought to change.   
    “Land reform and the emancipation of farmers and the people were the main aims of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Up to this day, however, brutal oppression in these types of landholdings persists and continues  to cause misery to farmers and agricultural workers,” said Ranmil Echanis, UMA Secretary General. 
The hacienda system was introduced by Spanish colonialists in the 19th century to pro 
duce crops for export.  This system was further encouraged by the colonial regime of US imperialism which maintained and depended on feudalism as its social base.
 “US Imperialism enlisted the loyal support of the local elite who allowed themselves to be tamed by the US for local political leadership.  This became necessary for the US to ensure the continuous supply of raw materials such as sugar, hemp, coconut and other agricultural products from its new colony. This also favored the interests of the local ruling elite who were either landlords themselves or compradors.” 
“The loyal adherence of the local landowning elite and big comprador bourgeoisie to impositions of imperialism make up the semi-feudal economy which plagues the country up to the present,” said Echanis. Spanish-era haciendas like Hacienda Luisita and plantations established during the American colonial period like Del Monte Foods, Inc. are still in existence and continue to operate.
 These landholdings are part of the millions of hectares of agricultural land that are tied down to onerous contracts between supposed land reform beneficiaries and giant agribusiness firms. The government’s failed agrarian reform program CARP works perfectly for the interest of giant companies as it encourages agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to become out growers or to lease their lands with onerous contracts or agribusiness venture arrangements.
 “Instead of sincerely providing land to the tiller, the government is still targeting expansion of plantations,” added Echanis.  “Plantations have bred many forms of precarious employment victimizing agricultural workers enduring hard labor and exposure to harmful chemicals while being paid only slave-like wages.”
In Mindanao alone, these include the following:  256,360 hectares for sugarcane; 150,000 hectares for cacao by 2020; 116,000 hectares for rubber; 87,903 hectares for coffee plantation; and almost one (1) million hectares of oil palm plantations by 2030.  The multinational fruit giant Dole Philippines plans to expand to at least 12,000 hectares of land for its pineapple plantation; and Unifrutti, which recently invested P3.7 billion for an expansion of 2,600 hectares of land for Cavendish banana plantation in Moro areas such as Maguindanao.
 Foreign plunder continues to result in dispossession and displacement of numerous lumad, Moro and peasant communities. “The guardia civil of yesteryears are now replaced by the state and private security forces who brazenly violate the rights of the people,” said Echanis.
 “Bonifacio, the hero of the ‘anakpawis’ or toiling masses, continues to inspire farmers and agricultural workers to organize themselves and fight for genuine land reform and national sovereignty, ” ended Echanis.
 In Congress, UMA supports the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 252 filed by Anakpawis Partylist./MP


The Province of Negros Occidental, tagged as the country’s organic farming capital, plays host to the 12th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC) on November 25 to 27 at SMx Convention Center, Bacolod City.
Around 1,800 organic agriculture farmers, traders, processors, academe members, researchers, local government units and advocates will convene in this year’s NOAC on the theme “Halin Talamnan, Tubtub Kalan-an” (Farm to Table). The congress will be simultaneously conducted with the 10th Negros Island Organic Farmers’ Festival (NIOFF) on November 25 to 29.
The congress will commence at the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol Grounds with the opening ceremony of the NIOFF and a foot parade going to Bacolod- SM City.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Undersecretaries Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Atty. Emerson U. Palad will grace the congress. Mr. Andre Leu, president of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) will be the keynote speaker.
Series of breakout and plenary sessions will be conducted from the first up to the second day. Participants will be divided into three groups for the breakout sessions for beginners, research and marketing with topics ranging from organic farming technologies to retailing and distribution of organic products and farm to table processing.
Sec. Alcala will lead the granting of citations and cash prizes to the winners of the eight categories in the 2015 search for Outstanding Agricultural Achievers to wit: Agricultural Extension Worker,   City/Municipal, Provincial, City/Municipal Focal Person, Provincial Focal Person, Organic Farming Family, Farmers’ Group and Small Individual Farmer categories. The municipality of Tugbungan, Iloilo is chosen as the outstanding organic municipality and will receive a cash grant of P1, 000,000.00 to further augment their town’s initia-tives and projects in support to organic agriculture.
Some 20 organic farmers associations, distributers and retailers will participate in the three-day Organic Agriculture Trade Fair and Exhibits at the 3rd floor of SM City.
Participants from different regions will tour to several established organic farms in Negros Occidental like the Rapha Valley in Salvador Benedicto, Peñalosa Farms in Victorias City, Buro- Buro Spring Farm in Talisay City, among others on November 27./MP


  Sen. Francis “Chiz” said the government needs  to build new city centers across the Philippines to create more employment opportunities outside the National Capital Region (NCR) and ease congestion in the metropolis.
 Along with the creation of suburban cities, Escudero said the government should also pour in money to provide an efficient train system that will connect urban centers and increase people’s mobility.
  “We have to start planning to integrate Metro Manila to potential urban centers in the country via an efficient train system connecting the metropolis to Bulacan, Pampanga up to Ilocos Norte in the north, and then Laguna, Batangas, down to Matnog, Sorsogon in the south,” said Escudero. 
  The same way can be done to connect provinces to Metro Cebu in the Visayas and to Bacolod City in Mindanao, which have enormous potential as new suburban cities, he added.
  Dispersing the city center away from mega Manila is also envisioned to provide a long-term solution to the chronic traffic congestion in the NCR with focus on the construction of railway network since it is the most efficient and most economical mode of transportation.
  According to Escudero, the government can capitalize on the expansion of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to create what is dubbed as the “next wave cities” outside Metro Manila.
In 2012, the Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) together with the IT-Business Process Association of the Philippines (iBPAP) identified potential sites of ICT hubs beyond the metropolis based on “worker supply, telecom infrastructure and other factors necessary to sustain a local BPO industry.”
The program, which was put in place after the Philippines edged out India as the world’s largest exporter of voice-driven BPO, found Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Clark and Bacolod City as four major hubs for IT-Business Process Management services.  
  It also identified Baguio City, Davao City, Dumaguete City, Iloilo City, Lipa City, Metro Bulacan (Baliuag, Calumpit, 
  Malolos City, Marilao and Meycauayan City), Metro Cavite (Bacoor City, Dasmariñas City and Imus City), Metro Laguna (Calamba City, Los Baños and Sta. Rosa City), Metro
Naga (Naga City and Pili) and Metro Rizal (Antipolo City, Cainta and Taytay) as the “next wave cities.”
“The government can use the list as a guide to create new city centers all over the country. The idea is that Metro Manila would be like an old town surrounded by suburban centers all over the country,” said Escudero, who is leading all pre-election surveys for vice president.
  To realize this, he said the government must put in place the necessary infrastructure that would translate to more opportunities outside mega Manila. “We should start putting together the blueprint for this. Our people outside mega cities deserve to experience genuine inclusive growth. They should not be left behind.”
Considered as a sunshine industry in the country, BPO is projected to create 1.3 million jobs and raise $25 billion in revenue for the Philippines by 2016.  
  “We should capitalize on the opportunities provided by the booming BPO industry to create new urban centers in the country. Doing so will not only help redistribute business investments but also decongest our main urban center that is Metro Manila,” Escudero said.
  A study by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2012 said the traffic problem in Metro Manila costs the country as much as P2.4 billion a day due to the lost productivity and potential income of people stuck in congested roads.
 The amount will balloon to P6 billion a day by year 2030 if nothing is done to solve the problem, the NEDA said./MP

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 8-14, 2015

Quotation of the Week

“Power intoxicate men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power, he seldom recovers.
  -James F. Byrnes


 The Weekly Kapihan on November 14, 2015 at NVC Carmen Hotel had guests from Philippine Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA). From PCIC are Charlito Brillieta, Reg’1. Director, Region 6, Ronilo Calar, Prov’1 Coordinator, PCIC, and Ms. Salome David, Asst. Prov’1 Agriculturist.
Dir. Brillieta in a power point presentation discussed the mandate of PCIC to support the government food production program by providing crops insurance coverage against force majeure events such as typhoons, floods and pest/diseases outbreak.  The legal basis is PD 467 and RA 8175 approved on December 29, 1995.
PCIC has a comprehensive insurance coverage of crops (rice, corn, high value crops like abaca, mango), poultry, large cattle, goats, swine, fisheries and other aquaculture projects. An important feature is extending coverage to composite buildings, farm machineries and equipment and pump boats. The PCIC caters to small farmers cultivating less than 7 hectars  who may either be beneficiaries of Sikat Saka under Land Bank of the Philippines, ARB-DAR or self-financed. Standard premium payment for self enhanced rice farmers is 5.94 percent of total production cost.
Fortunately, insurance premium payment for farmers in Aklan this year under the Registry for Basic System in Agriculture (RBSA) in the amount of 16 million pesos has been approved thereby benefitting 3,947 farmers said Dir. Brillieta.
“Recently, we paid 1.7 million pesos for 420.0 ha. rice farms damaged by drought in Balete. Abaca farmers in Libacao who suffered from Typhoon Yolanda were given 3.0 million pesos for crop damages,” Brillieta reported
Mr. Calar said that prospective farmer applicants must contact their Municipal Agricultural Officers (MAO’s) for assistance. Necessarily they must be members of Irrigators’ Association and applying package of technology (POT) recommended by DA. We have increased our Staff to four considering the need to promote the best interest of farmers and fisher folks.
Our Production Technologists (PT’s) and Farm Technicians (FT’s) are deputized as Insurance Underwriters. PCIC has given 3 million pesos facility to Office of Provincial Agriculturist for crop insurance, said Ms. David.
The rationale behind the creation of PCIC is very laudable considering the frequent disasters associated with climate change. An average of 22 typhoons visit the Philippines each year.  Not to be taken lightly are the El Nino and La Nina phenomenons. Dir. Brillieta averred that the budget for Western Visayas under RBSA is 139 million pesos as subsidy to farmers until 2016. Yet only a small fraction is actually utilized due to moderate El Nino that hit the first half of this year. For instance Aklan rice hybrid target of 1,602 has. resulted to only 300 has. planted.
Dr. Allen S. Quimpo, Director Institute of Public Policy Studies, NVC expressed regret over the governments’ dole out mentality. He believes that whether big or small, farmers must be responsible and accountable to pay whatever expenses incurred in the pursuit of his business.
Asst. Prov’1 Agriculturist David mentioned that the current tourism infra development (KIA runway expansion and Kalibo Circumferential Road) has largely reduced the irrigated rice area by 1,000 has. It should be recalled that Aklan has a total irrigated area of 6, 712 has. out of a total 17,120 has. devoted  for  agriculture. Aggravating this condition is unbridled land conversion from agricultural to residential, commer 
cial and industrial uses. 
Presently, Sikat Saka program extends production loan to rice farmers at maximum of 42,000 pesos/ha. for hybrid and 37,000 pesos for inbred. Even if insurance cover is free, the actual amount to be indemnified by PCIC depends on whether the calamity occurred during vegetative stage (where the crop could somehow recover), reproductive and ripening see page 3 
(where damage could be 50-100 percent). The post production losses such as seed germination and discoloration which vary from 9-26 percent is not included. The loan is secured by collateral and could be foreclosed in case of default. Altogether this calculated risk is not for small farmers. Here a single misstep can cause hunger and poverty not only to the farmer himself but his entire family. Indeed this is a dilemma faced by many farmers. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data show that two- thirds of the farmers and fisher folks are living below the poverty threshold./MP   

Entrepreneurial Farmer
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

2 years after yolanda

    After Two (2) years on the ground, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Aklan Chapter has done so much and its works still continues.
PRC Aklan provided food items to 14,750 families while 19,217 families received non-food items like plastic mats, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, tarpaulins, tents, kitchen sets, hygiene kits and shelter repair kits.
   PRC Aklan constructed core shelters in Balete - 2,331; Banga - 1,345; Lezo - 150; Libacao - 1,234; Madalag  - 1,535; and New Washington - 2,290. Moreover, it constructed six (6) health facilities: four (4) in Balete, and Two (2) in Madalag. In education, PRC Aklan put up three (3) classrooms in Balete; eight (8) in Libacao, and seven (7) in Madalag. 
    Furthermore, PRC  Aklan, to start a livelihood project, provided cash of 20,000 pesos per family in Altavas - 1,066; Balete - 1, 674; Banga - 1,634; Libacao - 669; Madalag -  1, 240; and New Washington - 449. PRC also provided skills trainings to 86 individuals, six (6) of whom are already gainfully employed. Some 4,138 individuals were trained in Disaster Risk Reduction 
All these completed projects were turned over to the recipients in a Turn Over Ceremonies held in Dumaguit, New Washington, Aklan on Thursday morning, November 12. The ceremony was presided by Hon. Richard J. Gordon, PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer with New Washington Mayor Edgar Peralta.
    In the afternoon of the same day, a simple program was held in ABL Sports Complex, Capitol Site, Kalibo, Aklan. The program was attended by representatives from Aklan, Antique, and
   During the program, the Livelihood Recovery Program, Skills Training and Enterprise Development, Graduation and Community Managed Livelihood Project were discussed, and the MOA Signing was held.   
     Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino, PRC Aklan chapter chairman, BOD welcomed the guests, visitors and participants. Mr. Dennis Saneo discussed the Livelihood Recovery Program.
Vice Gov. Billie V. Colizo-Quimpo delivered a message in behalf of Gov. Miraflores who was not able to attend the affair.  Mr. Karl  Isomaa, head of Philippine Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross also gave a message. Skills Training Beneficiaries from Aklan – Simon Sisno and Ma. Elie Abegale Cortes;  Cyferian B. Elenon – Anteque; and Capiz - Gladys B. Dichoa  gave their respective messages.
    Hon. Plaridel M. Morania introduced the guest speaker, PRC Chairman and CEO, Hon. Richard J. Gordon.
    The beneficiaries of the CMLP also gave their respective messages before the program ended who are from Brgy. Magubilan, Panay, Capiz; Brgy. Lumaynay, Altavas, Aklan; Brgy. Maria, Lauaan,  Antique; and Brgy. Idio, Sebaste, Antique.  
The program ended with the Memorandum of Agreement signing between the PRC and the Community Managed Livelihood Program. Photo session followed Ms. Jasmine Gallaza acted as Master of Ceremony. 
    Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., through Senate Resolution No. 1623, called for a Senate inquiry to clarify the ambiguity of foreign corporations owning and operating businesses that pertain to construction in the Philippines.
 Should the inquiry result in amendments to the existing law, Republic Act (RA) No. 4566 or the Contractor’s License Law, this will most likely result to an increase in job generation and foreign direct investments, a policy that ultimately benefits Filipinos.
  Under Republic Act No. 4566, the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1746) or the PCAB is authorized to “adopt reasonable necessary rules and regulations to effect the classification of contractors in a manner consistent with established usage and procedure as found in the construction business, and may limit the field and scope of the operations of a licensed contractor to those in which he is classified to engage.”
   Marcos said that the PCAB itself has proposed amendments to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said law to address the apparent ambiguity.
 Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a legal opinion in 2009 that a 100 percent foreign-owned construction firm, without being the project proponent, can undertake the “construction stage” of an infrastructure project, subject to certain minimum paid-up capital requirements.
   “The establishment of foreign equity restrictions in certain fields of economic activity is an important question of national policy which needs to be thoroughly and extensively discussed and studied by Congress, in consultation with appropriate government agencies and key stakeholders in the Philippine construction industry and other relevant private sector groups,” Marcos concluded/MP


     Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero condemned the manhandling by police of a radio reporter who, according to the senator, was merely doing his job as a member of the media. 
 “We respect the ongoing investigation, but right now, what is clear is that the way the policeman dealt with the reporter was overkill. It did not have to come to that,” he said. 
 The senator said dzRH reporter Edmar Estabillo had the right to access information on the police blotter, which is a public document.
   “There was no question on Mr. Estabillo’s legal personality as a member of a legitimate media entity. If the issue was the need to verify his identity, seeking a simple ID would have sufficed. There are more civilized ways to do that than wrestling down a man,” said Escudero.
    Cameras at the Marikina police station caught Estabillo arriving at the station, talking to SPO2 Manuel Layson, the desk officer on duty at that time. Then the two disappeared into the office. Moments later, the video showed Layson’s arm around the neck of Estabillo, who was struggling in vain to get out of Layson’s hold. Estabillo was pinned to the ground and handcuffed, in clear view of two other members of the Marikina police.
    Police accused the reporter of being arrogant and refusing to present his ID. Layson alleged that it was Estabillo who first laid a hand on him and took his badge. 
“Arrogance, on either side, will get us nowhere, but as a man in uniform, SPO2 Layson should have exercised maximum tolerance,” Escudero said. “I had higher expectations of authorities.”
   Freedom of Information (FOI) plays a vital role in the government’s drive to eliminate corruption, Escudero believes. If FOI is combined with an iron-fist campaign, it will make a strong foundation to fight corruption. 
    “For a long-time now, we have been hoping for the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill for greater transparency in governance.  
    The FOI mandates that information must be published online and pub 
lished in such a way that it is easily understandable to the average citizen. With the FOI, graft and corruption would be prevented and also promote better public participation in public affairs. 
    Escudero also sees the lifting of the Bank Secrecy Law for government officials and employees. The veteran lawmaker has filed a bill as early as 2007 that will enable the government to audit the finances of all civil servants, including the President.
    Senate Bill No. 16, which he again filed in 2010 and 2013, seeks to compel government officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks within and outside the country, including investments in government bonds.     “I’ve always said that public office is a public trust. And government officials and employees should always be open to the scrutiny of the public,” Escudero said/MP.


Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero suggests the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step into the probe on the alleged “tanim-bala (bullet-planting)” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Escudero said this is to avoid doubts on the result of the investigation being done by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) amid public outrage on the racket of planting a live bullet in the luggage of passengers, mostly OFWs and foreign nationals, so unscrupulous airport personnel can attempt to extort money from them.
“It is not only the integrity of the MIAA that is at stake, but the government as a whole. By having the NBI as a third party investigator, we can show the public that the government is serious in getting rid of dishonorable airport officials and personnel,” Escudero said.
According to him, he has filed Senate Resolution No. 1641 to inquire into the alleged extortion scheme using the “tanim-bala” modus to put a stop to the scam that is hurting the Philippine economy.
“Airports are doors to business activities and further development. If fear is what our airports open to travellers, we are assured of great economic sufferings. Who will come here to conduct business when the moment they step in, threats of abuse or arbitrariness surround them?” Escudero asked. 
Tourism contributed P983 billion to the economy in 2014, based on the share of tourism direct gross value added. Remittances from OFWs reached P382 billion in the first four months of 2015.
“We expect a deluge of balikbayans soon. Are we going to put all of them through this Russian roulette of ‘laglag-bala’ in NAIA?” Escudero asked.    
 The MIAA leadership earlier said that some 40 personnel from the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), who are manning the X-ray scanning machines at the country’s premier airport, were under investigation. 
Escudero, however, pointed out that suspicions of possible whitewash may arise since MIAA and OTS are both under the Department of Transportation and Communications.
“We need tangible and effective measures in place. Not only do we have to abate such modus operandi but we also need to institutionalize a comprehensive and accountable security policy in all airports,” said Escudero.
 “Part of a comprehensive security policy is to engage permanent staff dedicated to handling security policies and procedures to ensure that state and travelers’ rights and prerogatives are well protected,” added Escudero
 “Most, if not all of OTS personel, are contractual but they play an important function in transportation security. They must be permanent in their duties to ensure quality and consistency of engagement in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, we will keep on losing and training people anew,” Escudero pointed out.
On the other hand, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo this week expressed concern that the “tanim bala” cases at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be swept and buried under the APEC Summit rug.
“While we know that government’s and media’s attention are now focused on keeping the APEC Leaders and delegates safe and comfortable, we hope the probe ordered by the President is done and the culprits, if any, held accountable,” he said.
 Romulo  pointed out that those who may have been wrongfully accused should be immediately cleared, citing the admission of DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya that there were “certain lapses” in the filing of the cases against “tanim bala” suspects.
Romulo cited the case Gloria Ortinez, an OFW who lost her job last Oct. 30 but regained it after an emotional meeting with her employer in Hongkong. Abaya said he believed Ortinez was innocent and apologized to her during a Senate hearing last week. Charges against her were dismissed for lack of probable
cause after airport police presented to the fiscal a different bullet found allegedly in her bag.
 At the same time, Romulo lauded the deployment of prosecutors by the Department of Justice at the airports, saying that this would ensure immediate action and assure protection of travelers and security people in “tanim bala” incidents.
 The NBI task force TaLaBa (Tanim/Laglag Bala) was expected to submit its report to the DOJ on Monday instead of the original deadline of Nov. 18.
 The DOTC, tasked by President Aquino to conduct a probe, has yet to submit its findings.
 “There has to be closure soon. We don’t want the anxiety and uncertainty on the part of our travelers to continue after the APEC Summit ends,” Romulo said. “We expect a deluge when the Leaders leave on Friday.”/MP


Despite its tight schedule, the Congress will prioritize the approval of the proposed Salary Standardization Law 2015, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon assured. He and Senate Finance Committee Chair Loren Legarda have agreed to co-author the proposed measure in the Senate.
“There is really a need to pursue the new version of the Salary Standardization Law to increase the purchasing power of millions of our state workers, who could not cope with the inflation,” said Drilon.
“The new compensation package being sought will fix the glaring discrepancies in the pay schemes between the public and private sectors,” Drilon added.
He will author the proposed measure in the Senate along with Senator Legarda. As early as last year, Drilon called on the Department of Budget and Management to review the government pay scale.
“Even if the Senate is busy working on the 2016 National Budget and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we will make time for the swift passage of this measure to implement the raise in the salary scheme in government,” Drilon said.
 “We will immediately file the draft law. I will immediately talk to my colleagues to give it special attention. We will calendar it for committee hearing and plenary deliberation at the soonest time possible, so we can guarantee its passage by the end of the year,” Drilon said.
According to Drilon, the low pay rates in government sector discourage competitive and highly-skilled employees, even fresh graduates, from working and staying in government.
The primary reason why agencies experience difficulties in filling up vacancies in their offices per Department of Budget and Management record, resulted in 191,988 unfilled positions in 2015.
The proposed SSL 2015 will also solve the exodus of government workers, who leave their posts to seek greener pastures in the private sector and abroad. “An improved salary scheme will be the biggest morale booster for all public workers to excel in their work. It is important for the government to retain its employees and recruit more competent and driven professionals, especially the youth, into its ranks. There are enough provisions in the General Appropriations Bill to fund the implementation of the first tranche of the salary increase,” He pointed out .
Under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund, according to Drilon, P50.7 billion has been allotted for the salary increase.
The approval of the Salary Standardization Law 2015 before the year is over, assures all public employees to enjoy higher wages starting next year,” Drilon said.  
The proposed pay hike is “much-awaited and long overdue development” for the millions of government workers, who are paid much less compared to their counterparts in the private sector. The SSL 2015 would be a great Christmas gift for the thousands of public employees around the country.” There is really a need to pursue the new version of the Salary Standardization Law for the sake of our teachers, health workers, policemen and other government employees who receive wages that don’t fairly compensate the hard work they put in serving the people,” Drilon said. /MP


       The Liberal Party (LP) and its vice presidential candidate, Rep. Leni Robredo find themselves singing different tunes, this time on how they weigh in on issues confronting presidential frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe.
Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo raised this point in the light of the statements issued by Robredo, raising doubts on Poe’s patriotism, despite the passionate courting done by the LP to convince the popular senator to be the vice-presidential candidate of Mar Roxas, who has trailed Poe in surveys.
     No less than President Benigno Aquino III had tried but failed to get Poe’s approval to join the LP slate after several rounds of meetings. It was the same for Roxas, who settled for Robredo after his repeated attempts to convince Poe proved to be futile.
    “I find Rep. Robredo’s comments quite perplexing considering that her own party, led by the President and LP bet Mar Roxas, aggressively wooed Sen. Poe to be Mar’s running mate before ultimately deciding to give up and settle for the lady from Camarines Sur,” said Roman, who belongs to the administration party, but is running for senator under Poe’s Galing at Puso team.“The LP did not question Sen. Grace’s patriotism when they invited her to run in their Senate slate in 2013, neither did they question it again when they tried to convince her as the party’s vice-presidential bet. So why these questions now?” he pointed out.
    This is not the first time that Robredo, LP and Roxas have had differences on key issues. Robredo once said she was for tax cuts which was contrary to Roxas’ position against tax cuts.
On the controversial issue of “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting), the LP tandem also held opposing views. Robredo favored to decriminalize possession of bullets, while Roxas said, government should not be faulted if a passenger was caught with a bullet.
     At the same time, Romulo said he was disappointed with Robredo’s limited view of patriotism, which raises the possibility of depriving returning overseas-based Filipinos the chance to serve the country if they wish to do so in the future.
     “I believe that Rep. Robredo failed to grasp the implications of her ill-advised statements when she questioned Sen. Poe’s love of country. Yes, some OFWs are not running for president, but what if they decide to? Will Leni and the LP deny these Filipinos, who only want to improve their lot, the right to seek public office because at one point in their lives they chose to live abroad?s I think this is incredibly unfair to those we consider our modern-day heroes,” Romulo stressed./MP

By Ernesto T. Solidum
 Photo at right shows  a lone farmer harvesting her palay crop. Note the poor stand of his palay crop which yield may olny be about 3,000 kilos or three metric tons per hectare due to non application of recomended scientific rice farming technologies.
Chief Executive Officer and columnist Peter Wallace in an article published in the Philippine daily Inquirer of November 12, 2015 called for the repudiation of government rice self sufficiency program. He suggested to rely on cheap rice imported from Vietnam and Thailand instead. Despite the Department of Agriculture target to produce 20,000,000 metric tons in 2013 and 21,000,000 metric tons in 2014, production shortfall is 8-10 percent. Hence, the need to import.
In 2010, rice importations were 2.4 million metric tons, in 2011-0.86 million metric tons, in 2012-0.5 million metric tons, and in 2014-1.3 million metric tons. Obviously, those did not include massive/unchecked smuggling by private  
traders. The decade before, actual rice imports averaged 2.2 million metric tons per year. Since National Food Authority subsidizes, the price of rice (17.00/kgm) government losses is staggering-170 billion pesos over the past 10 years. 
 The proposal of Mr. Wallace, although meritorious, is too drastic and sweeping. It does not take into consideration that rice lands are irrigated, waterlogged or rain fed. Hence, unfit or have limited uses for high value crops. 
At least 40 percent of our rice farms are covered by decrepit irrigation facilities of National Irrigation Administration , communal irrigation projects, small irrigation pumps and farm reservoirs. It appears that irrigated areas are gobbled up by authorized land conversions. 
Furthermore, being fully dependent on another country for critical commodity such as rice, exposes the Philippines  to undue trade restrictions and price fluctuation in the world market. It is sound policy that only a fraction of our rice needs must be imported to keep up with the needs of galloping human population and natural disasters. 
Welfare analysis done by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies headed by Economist Roehlano  Briones indicated  that in 2013, if quantitative restrictions were eliminated in rice imports and rice imports were allowed to freely enter the Philippines, imports would have increased ten-folds bringing down the retail price of rice to 18.80 pesos per kgm from 33.08 pesos/kgm.
 The cost of producing a kilogram of rice in the Philippines is 10.00 pesos while it is only 5.00 pesos/kgm in Thailand and Vietnam. While our average rice yield is 3.9 metric tons per hectare, the above stated countries have achieved 5-6 metric tons per hectare per harvest. Considering that planted and irrigated area in Thailand and Vietnam is double in size than our country and with less number of populations,  it is logical that Vietnam and Thailand have surplus rice production.
In addition, there is full support by the government of these countries to local farmers in terms of farm to market roads, irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, post harvest facilities, research and development , and  technology transfer.
Presently, we have 3.9 million hectares of rice land but only 40 percent is irrigated. The  average yield in irrigated area is 5.0 metric tons per hectare.  The average production of rain fed area is 3.0 metric tons per hectare. 
Policy direction must be to develop maximum potentials of our irrigated farms targeting 6.0 metric tons per hectare. Rain fed rice farms must be converted and planted to high value crops such as rubber, palm oil, Cavendish bananas, mango, cacao and coffee geared for exports. The estimated shortfall could be 2.6 million metric tons of rice. Since high value crops are processed, industrial scale and local employment will be bolstered leading to increased purchasing power.
 Probably, this is the time when the daily exodus of 6,092 Pinoys leaving for work abroad will be reversed. Waning interest in agriculture and fisheries will be stopped: crops and livestock production is bolstered and aging farmers replaced by young blood. The NFA is privatized, while DA and NIA are strengthened with more budget allocation, and the agricultural extension function is returned to the Department of Agriculture with new agriculture secretary who can successfully implement a sound, effective and productive rice self sufficiency program beginning 2016./MP


      Swarm of ABAKADA educators warmly greeting Senator Bongbong Marcos during the ABAKADA Party List NCR/R Leaders Assembly held at the Lyceum of the Philippines.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said that the government can afford to fund the education of all students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) if education is truly a key priority under this administration.
In a speech before the ABAKADA Party List NCR/R Leaders Assembly held at the Lyceum of the Philippines, Marcos noted that all the government has to do is to allot P15 billion for scholarships and grants-in-aid out of the over P2 trillion 2016 budget instead of constantly shaving the funds for SUCs.
The Senator further said that the government should have no problem including this in the budget noting that it is spending more than P10 billion in hosting the week-long APEC event.
“Palagay ko ay kaya nating gawin at mas marami ang matutulungan. Panahon na na ang lahat ng mga nag aaral sa lahat na SUCs sa buong Pilipinas ay libre na ang pag aaral. Hindi ito suntok sa buwan. Pinag-aralan namin ang budget. P15 billion will pay for all the students for free tertiary education,” Marcos explained.
 Marcos said that there is a need to implement a large scale scholarship/students aid program in the Philippines and institutionalize reforms in the educational system.
“That is why we are looking at the budget and looking at what we can do for education. That is why I have been proposing these measures that some may see as radical but actually aren’t. These are the measures we need to push. These are the initiatives that we need to fight for,” Marcos asserted.
He added that doing this would greatly benefit those who have the potential to succeed in life but are impeded by poverty and their inability to get an education supported by the SUCs.
For his part, ABAKADA Party List Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz welcomed Marcos’ statement and said that their group has been pushing the increase in funding not only for the growing college population in the country but those enrolled in ‘Tech/Voc’ schools as well.
“In addition, one of our initiatives has been the expansion of the student loan program to include more financial institutions to support the SUCs as this has been very effective based on the experience of the United States,” he said.

Jonathan Dela Cruz also said that their group is also pushing the rationalization of the proliferation of locally funded colleges and universities to ensure that these are sustainable and meet the growing needs of the students in the tertiary level./MP 

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 2-7, 2015

Quotation of the Week



At the age of 87 years, eight (8) moths, and two (2) days, Atty. Sergio R. Rigodon went back to his Creator. He passed away on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 in Metro Manila. His body was brought to Banga, Aklan on October 31.
Atty. Rigodon studied Elementary in Banga Elementary School and his secondary in Banga Rural High School where he graduated valedictorian in 1948. He started his colloge education in Aklan Catholic College in Kalibo but transferred to Lyceum of the Philip-pines where he completed Bachelor of Laws in 1953 and passed the bar in the same year. Not contented of being a lawyer, Atty. Rigodon again went back to college, this time at the Far Eastern University where he finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce in 1954.
Atty. Rigodon started his law practice in Metro Manila in 1954 as a corporation lawyer, and he did it until his death. 
Atty. Rigodon was the Municipal Mayor of Banga, Aklan for 23 years (1972-1995). He popularized the name of Banga as “Banga, the Beautiful”. Banga town plaza was awarded the “Most Beautiful Town Plaza” in 1994. However, before becoming Mayor of Banga, Atty. Rigodon topped the election for Board members of Aklan in 1960. Hence, he was Senior Board member, then as Vice Governor of aklan in 1961- 1963.
He was confidential assistant in Legislative Executive Tax Commission in 1964-1965 and Liaison Officer of the House of Representatives in 1966-1967. After the law was approved creating the national Irrigation Administration,  Atty. Rigodon was appointed  
member of the  NIA Board of
Directors from 1968 to 1974. He was managing Director of Aklan Integrated Coconut Industries, Inc. in 1978- 1983.
He was also member of the Board of Directors of Republic Transport & Shipyard Corp., Iloilo City.
Being a lawyer,  Atty. Rigodon was a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Aklan Chapter. He was chairman for several years of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Aklan Council and member of the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation,  Banga chapter. 
He is survived by his loving wife, Ms. Dorotea O. Iglesias-Rigodon and children Karen R. Galang, Sergio I. Rigodon II, Dorothy R. Dimson, Sergio I. Rigodon III, Joseph I. Rigodon, and Atty. Raymund I. Rigodon./MP


Pasig Rep. Roman T. Romulo this week said the lifeline provided by the UniFast Law to poor and deserving tertiary students should be ready by next school year.
“We expect the implementing rules and regulation to be completed and approved by CHED in January, 2016. This will allow qualified tertiary students to avail of the benefits provided under the law during the first semester of next school year,” said Romulo, who is the principal author of the landmark legislation signed by President Aquino last month, October.
“I urge the CHED to immediately work on the implementing rules and regulations and issue it before the year ends so that we can immediately implement our law next year. Once this law is implemented, there will be no more unfortunate cases similar to that of Kristel Tejada in the future,” he pointed out.
A UP Manila freshman student, the 16-year old Tejada was driven to suicide on March 15, 2013 after she was asked by school authorities to go on forced leave after failing to pay her tuition.
The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Act  will provide qualified students the following benefits:
•Scholarship ---financial assistance given to eligible students on the basis of merit and/or talent,
•Grant-in-Aid --- financial assistance to poor but eligible students.
Student loan --- financial assistance consisting of short-term or long-term loans which shall be extended to students facing liquidity problems.
The various benefits of the UniFAST Act are broader than that provided for under the Iskolar ng Bayan law and can be availed by any student, whether graduate of public or private school and regardless of ranking in class or school he or she plans to enroll in.
“This is another way of realizing what we want for those who might fall behind as the country moves forward. Dapat lang na walang maiiwan, dapat di na mangyari ang katulad ng nangyari kay Kristel Tejeda” said Romulo./MP


Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. was invited to deliver the keynote address at the 5th Philippine Cooperative TEAMshop on Nov. 13, 2015 to be held at the La Carmela de Boracay Hotel and Convention Center in Boracay, Malay, Aklan. 
More than 1,200 cooperative leaders and practitioners nationwide, including non-government organizations, representatives from local government units, and members of the academe are expected to participate.
Marcos, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cooperatives filed Senate Bill 424 seeking to amend the charter of the Cooperative Development Authority to strengthen the country’s cooperative movement.
The Boracay gathering, with the theme “Celebrating 10K Diamond of Cooperation-Trends and Prospects” seeks to revisit the experience of Philippine cooperatives and  to provide updates on the 2020 vision for cooperatives as enunciated by the International Cooperative Alliance.
“I am elated to be amongst the gathering of leaders of the country’s cooperative movement where a fruitful exchange of best practices and insights in managing the agro-industrial business enterprises of cooperatives is sought to be achieved.” 
“I look forward to the discussions about the challenges that cooperatives are facing as a result of the coming Asean Economic Integration,” Marcos concluded. 
On the other hand, Senator Marcos called on government to conduct an inventory of elderly citizens to find out whether all of them are receiving benefits from PhilHealth as mandated by law.
Marcos is co-author of Republic Act 10645, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act signed into law on November 5, 2014, which provided for the mandatory Philhealth coverage of all senior citizens.
“We would like to find out whether all senior citizens are truly receiving their entitlement from Philhealth. If not, there is a need to initiate the necessary action to ensure that this is corrected and the benefits reach all its intended recipients,” Marcos said.
“Philhealth record shows that as of 2014, its members and beneficiaries under RA 10645 reached 5,881,871,” Said Macos
“RA 10645 amended RA 9994 and expanded and made automatic PhilHealth benefits to all senior citizens especially, including indigent or poor senior citizens who are incapable of paying the monthly contribution to PhilHealth to become members.”
“The original law benefitting senior citizens is RA 7432 allowed Filipinos who are 60 years and above, among others, 20 percent discount from all establishments relative to the utilization of transportation services, hotels, theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other similar places of culture, leisure, amusement and other purchases,” Marcos pointed out./MP


Good news for the estimated 1.9 million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS): The Senate this week approved on final reading a bill which seeks to grant an across the board P2,000 increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners.
 House Bill 5842, or the Social Security Act, seeks to amend Section 12 of Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997. The latest amendment to the law was 18 years ago under RA 8282.
 The bill was approved with 15 affirmative votes, one negative vote by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and zero abstention. Enrile said he was against the bill because the granting of the “generous benefit” to SSS pensioners would eventually lead to the “bankruptcy of the SSS.”
 House Bill 5842 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Cynthia Villar, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Chiz Escudero, Jing-goy Ejercito-Estrada, Ferdinand “Bongbong Marcos Jr. and Deputy Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and principal sponsor of HB 5842, said “given the rising cost of living, it is high time we give our retirees and their family a monthly pension that will allow them to at least live with dignity.”
“We must also consider that many of our retired workers, given their old age, have maintenance medicines and special requirements that add to their daily living expenses. Increasing their pension is the least we could do to reward them for decades of hardwork ,” Villar stressed
 At the House of Representatives, the bill was introduced by Congressmen Neri Colmenares, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Mark Villar, Jesus Sacdalan, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Cresente Paez, Agapito Guanlao, Edgardo Masongsong, Leah Paquiz and Antonio Tinio.
“While the SSS provided a five percent across-the-board pension increase for its retired members in 2014, it is admitted that such five percent increase is not sufficient to cover the rising cost of living for the past 18 years,” Villar said.
Villar cited data from the National Statistical Coordinating Board which pegged monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P8,022 per month.
Poverty threshold refers to the minimum income a family or individual must earn in order to be considered “not poor.
Villar said that the average SSS pensioner receives P3,169, which is below the poverty threshold.
“I do not think that the basis for which the SSS was established – that of promoting social justice and providing meaningful protection to its members and their beneficiaries against the hazards of old age, loss of income, among others – is at work,” Villar said.
For his part, Recto said roughly 1.5 million of the SSS pensioners of about 81.5 percent received a monthly pension below P4,000 in 2012. The amount is less than the daily minimum wage and was below the poverty line set by government.
“The consolidated bill seeks an across-the-board increase of P2,000 on the monthly SSS pension. In effect, those receiving the minimum pension of P1,200 per month will now receive P3,200 under this bill. The average SSS pensioner gets about P3,169 a month. If this bill becomes law, his pension will increase to P5,169,” he added.
Recto said the increase in monthly SSS pension will not result in underspending since pensioners will spend their money and boost the domestic economy. /MP


Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero urged NAIA authorities to give members of duly registered media entities access to areas where they can exercise their duties without intervening in security personnel’s work.
 Escudero made the call following reports that media workers accredited to cover the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are prohibited from going to certain areas of NAIA Terminal 3, where there were reports of the “tanim-bala” cases.
 NAIA reporters complained that the restriction on their access came only in the wake of reports on the alleged extortion scheme that has victimized overseas Filipino workers, tourists and travellers on business. 
“At a time like this when we are all trying to find the truth behind this deplorable ‘tanim-bala’ modus operandi, we need the media to be free to do its work of gathering information, examining our systems, and uncovering the wrongs that may be hidden from sight,” Escudero stressed. 
He pointed out that NAIA personnel and officials of the Manila International Airport Authority should not feel threatened by the presence of prying eyes if they have nothing to hide.
“Lagi naman nating sinasabi na ang walang tinatago hindi natatakot masilip,” Escudero said. 
 According to the Department of Transportation and Communications, there have been 1,394 ammunition-related cases this year, many of them reported only in the last two months. 
The case of OFW Gloria Ortinez, who was detained and prevented from flying to Hong Kong after security personnel found a bullet in her luggage, called attention to the modus operandi, which had also victimized an American missionary and a balikbayan. 
 Ortinez’s case drew media attention to the prevalence of “tanim-bala” incidents in airports.  The National Bureau of Investigation, which was directed to look into the cases, said the scheme is being perpetrated by a syndicate./MP


Tower No. 13 of Agus 2 – Kibawe 138kV line 2 was bombed around 9:00 PM of Nov. 6. This is the 10th tower bombed by lawless elements in 2015.

Just eight days after three NGCP towers in Patani, Marawi City were bombed, another tower in the same area was targeted in the evening of November 6. Tower No. 13 along Agus 2 - Kibawe 138-kilovolt (kV) line 2 in Guimba, Marawi City was bombed by unidentified perpetrators, making it the 10th tower bombed in 2015. 
While the explosion did not topple the tower, the damage it sustained caused it to lean, putting the transmission facility in a more critical condition.
 On October 29, three towers along the same transmission line were bombed. Of the three, two structures, towers No. 19 and No. 20, were toppled. The third tower, No. 21 sustained damage, but was not toppled.
At 1:50 PM of November 9, NGCP was able to fully restore the Agus 2 – Kibawe 138kV line 2 after implementing temporary measures to transmit electricity produced by Agus 1 and 2 hydropower plants to the rest of the Mindanao grid.
The PNP and AFP are leading in the investigation and exerting all efforts to catch the perpetrator/s.
“This is the 10th tower bombed by lawless elements in 2015 alone, with 5 towers bombed within the month of October. We are very concerned that this situation seems to be escalating, with each incident happening progressively closely to each other,” the company stressed. “With the help of the local authorities, several other bombs were found see page 3 
on our facilities, but these did not detonate and were safely disposed of,” said NGCP.
“NGCP is appeal 
ing to the public to help monitor the safety of the towers so that transmission services remain uninterrupted,” NGCP said. “If anyone sees anything suspicious at or around our towers and facilities, please inform us immediately. You may text us your tips and other information at 09178791077.”
NGCP is fully cooperating with law the enforcement agencies as they investigate the incident. Restoration efforts began as soon as the area was declared safe.
Restoration of transmission services to affected areas were likewise hampered by uncooperative landowners who are preventing NGCP from conducting much needed vegetation clearing activities. Elements of the Philippine Armed Forces are currently assisting NGCP in entering the properties of the uncooperative landowners to expedite restoration.
NGCP has repeatedly appealed to the government and the Philippine Army to assist resolve the escalating security and right-of-way issues in Mindanao./MP