Give donation to Consortium

Thursday, April 30, 2009

JDA News: JDA Software Announces Workforce Management Strategies to Drive Profitability in Today's Challenging Retail Environment


Scottsdale, Ariz.April 28, 2009 –  JDA® Software Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: JDAS) today announced that now more than ever, retailers of all sizes are tasked with navigating the inherent complexities of workforce management and striking a balance between reducing store operating budgets and a growing demand for a customer-centric shopping experience. Successful retailers are making workforce management a top corporate priority and eliminating their reliance on outdated, manual procedures that are disconnected from their store planning processes. According to Gartner Research, with labor being the second-largest operational cost (after merchandise), retailers can achieve great benefits, over a longer period, through applications supporting the end-to-end workforce management processes.1


“An overall decrease in consumer spending has forced retailers to reduce store operating budgets, while consumers continue to expect a very high level of customer service,” said Wayne Usie, senior vice president retail, JDA Software. “As a result, forecasting and scheduling store labor has become more complex than ever before. To manage these complexities, leading retailers are turning to advanced solutions for more accurate labor forecasting, streamlined scheduling processes, and consistent workforce management across the entire retail enterprise while also delivering tangible ROI in an accelerated timeframe.”


JDA Software recommends strategies for effective workforce management supported by advanced store operations solutions.


·    Optimize the Talent Pool: Matching employee skill level to store responsibilities or departments is even more critical in today’s competitive retail landscape. However, decreases in store operating budgets have led to staff reductions, meaning retailers have to do more with fewer employees. Workforce management solutions that factor in all of the traditional staffing constraints (e.g. qualifications, availability) plus business variables such as localized consumer demand, fixed and variable daily tasks, and store traffic patterns can ensure an accurate forecast of holistic staffing requirements. When combined with enterprise-wide, real-time visibility that allows for a regional talent pool to be shared across locations, an advanced workforce management solution can ensure the right employees are at the right place at the right time.


·    Spend Less Time Scheduling, More Time Managing and Selling: With advanced solutions that maximize the productivity of store employees, leading retailers have realized that turning to optimized workforce management solutions can improve operational performance and increase profitability. By using schedules which are automatically generated based on forecasted staffing requirements, store managers can be freed from the laborious task of building schedules from the ground up, and instead make minor changes to the system-generated schedule as needed, cutting the human effort by 50 percent or more. This frees up store managers to focus on driving sales and enhancing customer service. Through systematic alerts, the manager can act fast on impending overtime, under-staffing and other key performance indicators that might negatively impact operations, service or labor costs.


·    Match Staffing to Real Demand: Advanced workforce management solutions that are based on forecasted demand can drive sales results. Retailers are able to more accurately forecast and build staffing levels based on expected sales and traffic patterns in the store. By scheduling the right number of people at the right time in the right departments, retailers can ensure that customers will be served by the most knowledgeable associates. However, even the best forecast can be rendered inaccurate by unforeseen events such as extreme weather conditions. With the ability to adjust forecasts with up-to-the-minute trends and the anticipated impact of situations, staffing can be increased or cut back accordingly.


·    Improve Customer-Centricity: Most consumers have had the unfortunate shopping experience of either being ignored by sales staff, or not being able to find a salesperson for assistance. Retailers know brand loyalty is fragile. Those that can’t capitalize on customer-specific data and provide the right mix of product and supporting staff not only risk losing the sale, but also risk losing brand loyalty with shopper defections that can have a greater negative impact on sales. Intelligent workforce management solutions can deliver a finely tuned and customer-centric workforce plan to improve brand loyalty that will last long after the recovery of a challenging economy.


·    Deliver Tangible ROI: Retailers large and small are under pressure to protect margins and improve operating efficiencies to offset falling sales. As a result, workforce management has become a critical area of focus. By implementing workforce management technology into its operations, one family-operated, Midwest grocery chain gained the ability to better forecast staffing needs for its 13 store locations based on actual sales data collected from its POS system to achieve a 30-percent reduction in scheduling time. This further enabled this grocery retailer to establish a minimum-hours policy for weeks that have been historically slow to effectively reduce labor costs by 10-15 percent. Even by simply implementing traditional template-based scheduling with integrated time and attendance, an outdoor lifestyle retailer realized a 25-percent savings in overtime dollars. Solutions that can yield short-term ROI without the burden or risk of lengthy implementation timelines will prove indispensible.


Retailers that embrace and implement advanced workforce management solutions clearly see the results with elevated productivity, reduced labor costs, improved sales, and increased consumer and associate satisfaction. As economic pressures continue to rise, retailers that adopt automated workforce management solutions with intelligent forecasting capabilities will be poised to capture market-share during difficult economic conditions and lead the charge when conditions improve.


To learn more about how JDA Software helps its customers manage the constantly evolving challenge of workforce management, please visit


1 Gartner, Inc. “Hype Cycle for Retail Technologies 2008,” by Mim Burt, Van L. Baker, Gale Daikoku, John Davison, Hung Le Hong, Jeffrey Roster, Stephen E. Smith, Andrew White and Jack Heine, 26 June 2008


About JDA Software Group, Inc.

JDA® Software Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: JDAS) is the world’s leading supply chain solutions provider, helping companies optimize operations and improve profitability. JDA drives business efficiency for its global customer base of more than 5,800 retailers, manufacturers, wholesaler-distributors and services industries companies through deep domain expertise and innovative solutions. JDA's combination of unmatched services, together with its integrated yet modular solutions for merchandising, supply chain planning and execution and revenue management, leverage the strong heritage and knowledge capital of market leaders including Manugistics, E3, Intactix and Arthur. When supply chain results matter, companies turn to JDA. For more information about JDA, visit or contact us at or call +1 800 479 7382 / +1 480 308 3000.


Motorists bound to Lanao Del Norte from Iligan City and vice versa were advised to take Ditucalan Bridge as alternate route for the bombed Agus Bridge.

 In his recent inspection, Public Works and Highways Secretary ordered the DPWH Region X Office to immediately prepare the program of work for the needed repair of the damaged bridge.

"Agus Bridge is one of the main bridges of Iligan City, if not repaired immediately, it will cost the delay not only of the traveling public but also the flow of trade going to and from Zamboanga, Misamis Occidental and all other parts of Mindanao since it is situated along Iligan-Cagayan-Butuan Road (ICBR," Ebdane said.

The damaged bridge has a total length of 104 meters [30 meters Reinforced Concrete Deck Girder (RCDG) and 74 meters Steel]. Halfway of the Steel Bridge was bombed which destroyed both sides of its steel beam. Upon assessment of the Regional Bridge Expert, bottom chords (left and right), the main diagonal mid-span, cross stringers and the sidewalks of the bombed area are totally damaged.

To date only light vehicles are allowed to pass the detour bridge, with vehicular traffic being supervised by Lanao del Norte 2nd District Engineering Office in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Iligan City.


To assure the strict implementation of the procurement process, the Department of Public Works and Highways conducts a refresher course on the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9184 or the National Government Procurement Law.

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. said that the seminar would not only inform the participants on the detailed process of the procurement in the government but it will also encourage them to be part of the DPWH efforts in combating graft and corruption by strictly enforcing the provisions of the RA 9184.

"Majority of the DPWH projects are being under taken by contract, this seminar will help to assure the overall effective implementation of these projects especially during the procurement activities," Ebdane said.

A total of 30 participants, composed of administrative officers and legal officers who are members of Bids and Wards Committee or Secretariat from the 16 DPWH regional offices attended the seminar.

Assistant Secretary Jaime Pacanan, in-charge of DPWH AMMS Operation said among the topics discussed are the Procurement Planning and Reporting Process, Rules in Procurement of Civil Works, Goods and Consultancy Service and  Standard Bidding Document Requirements.

The guest speaker is DPWH Bureau of Research and Standards Director Antonio Molano Jr. who is also a member of the Government Procurement Board.

Chiz to Government: Erect permanent evacuation centers


Sen. Chiz Escudero called on the government to establish permanent evacuation centers in areas affected regularly by natural calamities to minimize disruption of classes and ensure immediate availability of safe havens for disaster victims.


The government, through the National Disaster Coordinating Council, currently uses school buildings, multipurpose facilities, and churches as temporary evacuation centers.


"This leads to the disruption of children's education and even religious services for lengthy periods of time," the opposition senator said.


Escudero added the government needs to move now in light of the recent declaration by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAG-ASA) that this year's rainy season will likely arrive earlier than its usual onset in late May or early June.


"Permanent evacuation centers can also be used alternatively as health or social centers," he added.


The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons annually. From 1970-2005, damages from typhoons reached P61 billion. At least 5,000 families and 30,000 individuals, on average, are also affected yearly by these typhoons.


In a report, the World Bank said the country incurred direct damages amounting to P15 billion annually due to typhoons and other natural disasters from 1970 to 2000, and that this was equal to about 0.7 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year.


GDP is the total peso value of all goods and services produced domestically over a specific period of time in a given year and released on a quarterly basis.


 "We have to anticipate that there will be at least five devastating typhoons annually, and that these will affect the eastern seaboard, particularly the Bicol region, Region 8 and parts of Regions 2 and 4," Escudero said.

Chiz presses Government to audit Big 3

The government should immediately conduct the audit of the books of the Big 3 oil companies and comply with the order issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26 Judge Silvino Pampilo, Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

"The government no longer has an excuse not to examine the books of the Big 3 oil firms. The court order is explicit, and should immediately be complied with," Escudero said.

The court order instructs the Commission on Audit, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Bureau of Customs to conduct an audit of the books of the Big 3 oil firms

Covered by the examination were the oil firms' cash receipts, cash disbursement books, purchase orders on petroleum products, delivery receipts, sales invoices and other related documents on the purchases of petroleum products from January to December 2003

"The least that the government can do is to conduct without delay the audit as mandated by the court. This much it owes the Filipino people," Escudero said.

The senator said the government has dragged its feet on the issue for too long, adding that early decisive action by the Department of Energy (DOE) could have spared the public at least some fuel price increases.

"The DOE had promised as far back as two years ago to get the Big 3 to report on their state of finance. It is lamentable that the DOE apparently does not feel any sense of urgency on the matter despite the fact that the people have long been clamoring for action on the issue," Escudero said.

"The government should show its sincerity in addressing this issue. No more lip service, act now without dispatch and audit the oil firms' books," he added.


Are you an SSS member?

SSS Press Conference

Earlier this month, Social Security System, which we all know as the pension fund for private sector workers, held their first seminar to the media all over the country. So they flew in all those provincial reporters--print, radio, and broadcast--to Manila for the two-day seminar.

Even we, a media organization, were puzzled why would SSS reach out to us for all these years when they are saying years before that they do not have enough funds. The second day gave us, or least for the OFWJC, all the answer. Read this article to find out what's the real deal.


With agenda or not, we would like to share with you the presentations of SSS officials during the two-day affair.  

Link to the folder:



1. Overview of SSS Benefits Presentation by Agnes E. San Jose, Assistant Vice President RDF Program


2. SSS' Service EnhancementsNow and In The Future

Gwen Ma. Judy D. Samontina, Assistant Vice President

Technical Support Division, IT Management Group


3. Value creation in the face of global recession

Romulo Neri, President and CEO



4. The Historyof SSS, in brief

Atty. Eddie A. Jara, Vice-President

Visayas & Mindanao Groups


5. "Employment Prospects amidst the Global Economic Crisis"

Perspectives from Ambassador Donald G. Dee

SSS Commissioner


6. Mastering the 'ART' of Collection

Judy Frances A. See

Vice President Coverage and Collection Program


7. Mac Initiatives in Improving Forntline Services

Mario R. Sibucao

Members Assistance Center (MAC)

Program Management

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Some 25 informal workers' groups under the banner of MAGCAISA will call for social protection for all as well as the passage of the Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Economy (MACWIE) . when they celebrate Informal Workers' Day on the morning of May 4 at the University of the Philippines  School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UPSOLAIR),  Diliman, Quezon City.
Rep. Dan Fernandez filed HB 1955 on MACWIE  at the House of Representatives, where the Committee on Labor already held a hearing on it.  Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a similar bill in the Senate. Sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill in both houses of Congress  are expected to provide inspirational messages at the May 4 gathering of at least 200 informal worker leaders.

MACWIE, if passed,  will benefit the fast growing ranks of workers in the informal economy, who now comprise 24.6 million or 76 percent of total employed in the Philippines.   It assures informal workers, women and men,  of their rights at work, access to resources, social protection, and participation in decision-making..
Four policy briefs on social protection for all, social security, health insurance, and occupational safety and health will be launched during the May 4 celebration. The policy briefs call for inclusion of informal workers in social insurance schemes(SSS and PhilHealth), and the extension of occupational safety and health services for women and men in the informal economy.
Key officials of the SSS, PhilHealth,and the Occupational Safety and Health Center are expected to respond to the recommendations of the policy briefs, outputs of months of research and advocacy work involving informal workers' groups, academe (faculty of the University of the Philippines), and other stakeholders.with the support of the Social Protection in Asia (SPA) research and policy network program.
Before convening at UPSOLAIR, MAGCAISA representatives will participate in the flag ceremony at Quezon City Hall, where they will award Quezon City Mayor Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte  with a certificate of recognition for his leadership in promoting and implementing programs and services for informal workers  in his locality.
The May 4 celebration will be held with the support of the Center for Labor Justice of UPSOLAIR and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

More than 20,000 jobseekers register for JOBapalooza ‘09

In celebration of Labor Day 

More and more new graduates and jobseekers are riding on the wave of opportunity by registering with the country's biggest jobs fair dubbed "Tayo Na! Trabaho Na! JOBapalooza '09" Labor Day approaches, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today reported.


Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that based on the latest DOLE preliminary report, more than 20,603 jobseekers have already registered for JOBapalooza '09, which shall be held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City on May 1, 2009.


More than 1,000 local firms and overseas recruiters would offer more than 250,000 productive job opportunities to new graduates and jobseekers.


Following the ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:45 a.m., the main Labor Day program will commence at 9:00 a.m. at the SMX Hall, followed by the launching of the DOLE Hotline and the reading of Labor Day Manifesto, and the awarding of livelihood and training certificates/vouchers to disadvantaged sectors and workers under various DOLE and government thrusts (WIN AP, DOLE-AMP, Phil-Health, Ye-Ye, PGS, and OWWA).


Simultaneously, a Livelihood Display and Sale, complemented by entrepreneurship slideshows, training/livelihood seminars, and medical missions, will proceed in the area from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The day will be capped by the launch of Hatid Saya (Alay sa Manggagawang Pinoy sa Ibayong Dagat) courtesy of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Trade Unions concert, a spectacular fireworks display in honor of the Filipino worker, and finally, the JOBapalooza '09 Concert dubbed "Alay sa Manggagawang Pilipino" featuring Gary Valenciano and Rivermaya.


Roque said that JOBapalooza '09 is a collective offering of the Philippine Labor Movement comprising the country's labor federations and the country's Three Plus (3+) Social Partners (which include management, government and other sectors).  He cited the  Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Philippine Transport and General Workers Organization (PTGWO), All Workers Alliance Trade Union (AWATU), Trade Union of the Philippines and Allied Services (TUPAS), Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW), Philippine Organization of Labor Unions (POLU), and Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), for presenting the Labor Day jobs fair in partnership with major sponsors Globe, Banco de Oro (BDO), SM Shoemart, PHIL-JobNet (,, STI, Philippine Online Chronicles (POC),  the City Government of Manila, and the City Government of Pasay City, as well as the DOLE's National Capital Region (NCR) Office, which is supervising the event.


As this developed, the DOLE's Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) continues to encourage new graduates and jobseekers to avail of the available opportunities by registering for the JOBapalooza '09 using the Internet links at, or the DOLE's website at  Walk-in applicants are also welcome at the SMX on the Labor Day itself. 


Roque emphasized that on top of the main"Tayo Na! Trabaho Na! JOBapalooza '09," more job/livelihood fairs will highlight the nationwide Labor Day celebrations in the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao areas under the supervision of the DOLE Regional Offices (ROs), at the following tentative venues on May 1, 2009:  Region I (Ilocos Region) – SM Rosales, Pangasinan;  Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – Baguio Convention Center/SM Baguio Job Fair; Region II  (Cagayan Valley) – Paseo Real, Tuguegarao City (job/trade/livelihood fair) and Faustino L. Dy Gymnasium, Cauayan City (registration of professionals); Region III (Central Luzon) -- Pampanga (SM City Pampanga, SM City Clark, SM City Baliuag, and SM City Marilao);  Region IV-A (CALABARZON) – SM Sta. Rosa (livelihood fair); Region V (Bicol Region) – SM Naga City;  Region VI (Western Visayas) – Robinson's Place, and Gaisano City, both in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Region VII (Central Visayas) – Cebu City Sports Complex (overseas fair), SM City Cebu Jobs Fair, Provincial Capitol (local fair);  Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) – ZC Golden Boys Grille, Nunez Extension, Zamboanga City; Region X (Northern Mindanao) – SM Cagayan de Oro City;  Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN) – Kidapawan City Gymnasium, South Seas Complex, and KCC Mall of General Santos City; and CARAGA Region – Luciano Convention Center, GP Rosales St., Butuan City.      




DOLE issues pay rules for Labor Day


The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said that May 1, 2009 (Friday) is a regular holiday nationwide in observance of Labor Day.


Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that as affirmed under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Presidential Proclamation No. 1699 issued on December 24, 2008, Labor Day is a long-cherished tradition that the Filipino workers celebrate on its exact date.


"It is both a national celebration as well as an international event that our trade unions have fought hard to institutionalize in the country," Roque said.


He advised the country's employers on the lawful holiday pay rules to be applied during the nationwide regular holiday of Labor Day on May 1, 2009, as follows:


A.  If the day is the employee's regular workday:


¨      If worked, [the employee] is entitled to 200% of his [or her] basic wage for the first eight (8) hours and, for work in excess of the 8 hours, an additional 30% of his or her hourly rate on the said day;

¨      If unworked, the employee is entitled to 100% of his daily rate, provided he or she was present or was on leave with pay on the workday immediately preceding the holiday.


B. If the day is the employee's rest day:


¨      If worked, the employee is entitled, for the first 8 hours, to 200% of his or her daily rate for work in excess of 8 hours, plus 30% of his or her hourly rate on the said day;

¨      If unworked, the employee is entitled to 100% of his or her daily rate, provided he or she was present or was on leave with pay on the workday immediately preceding the holiday.


C. Where the day immediately preceding the holiday is a non-work day in the establishment or the scheduled rest day of the employee, he or she shall not be deemed on leave of absence on that day, in which case he or she shall be entitled to the holiday pay.         

Monday, April 27, 2009

OFWJC newspacket Volume 8 number 1

Resident Editor's Note


CHOOSING stories for the OFW Journalism Consortium is like having a sunny-side fried egg for breakfast: scoop the yellow yolk or snip the white layer first?

These are choices the diner mulls; if she has the time..


Time is a luxury that Consortium writers don't have but the editor does.


After working on Move (our first magazine [also Vol. 7 Nos. 5-10 as a newspacket) that came out in October 2008, it's been a long time, indeed since we came out with our stories.


The Consortium, for the past six months, has been grappling with its own future as its bank account resembles a fried egg, sunny-side up.


Stories on overseas Filipino workers in a crisis-shackled world, however, found oases in several news agencies and in OFWs themselves. Some of the stories are in this latest newspacket.


Despite hard-to-go-by times, our stories remain free for reprint. We only ask the Consortium is acknowledged as source.


It makes us shudder thinking we will grope inside the pockets of readers, especially OFWs, who are already agog at how to balance their checkbooks.

We can only hope they can continue to rely on the generosity of strangers as much as of their countrymen to transform the drought in jobs, income, and goodwill into a lush green field of a prosperous future.


For you, the Consortium reader, we hope you can see the sunny-side of our egg yolks: the stories we can serve in future breakfasts.





Reporters and editors of the OFW Journalism Consortium generously volunteered their skills and services  to produce this newspacket and its contents.


Download the packet here:



If You Can't Hack It, Don't Force Full Automation

Sen. Chiz Escudero warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not to gamble with the country's future by forcing full automation when it is not ready to implement it for the 2010 elections.


He scored the Comelec for being in a "state of denial" about its obvious unpreparedness to implement poll automation nationwide after it reset the scheduled opening of bids for last April 27 to May 4.


"First they changed terms of reference. Now they are moving the date of bidding. This is another proof of unpreparedness of the Comelec. They rushed the Senate to approve the budget in one day only to face delays after the fact," said the opposition senator, who heads the congressional oversight committee on poll automation.


"I urge the Comelec commissioners to be true and honest to themselves. If it can't be done, don't force the issue and rush into automation just for the sake of automation," Escudero said.


In its belated announcement last Saturday, the Comelec did not explain why its Bids and Awards Committee decided to postpone the bidding for poll automation of the national and local elections.


Escudero, who was among those who voted against the 11.3 billion automation budget in the Senate, reiterated his opposition to full automation at this time.


"The United States has been trying to automate for the past 50 years. They are only percent automated. We want to be 100 percent automated in one year," he pointed out.


"The House of Representatives has been trying to automate with 238 votes to bring the votes of the farthest seated congressmen, 100 meters away to the front row. They have not been able to do it for the past two years," he added.


Escudero said that the best thing the Comelec can do is to admit it if they are not ready to hold automated elections nationwide so an alternative plan can still be worked out by Congress before it ends its session on June 5.


"That is the patriotic thing to do. The future of our democracy is in their hands," he said.



            Dr. Edita T. Burgos, her children and other relatives and friends will celebrate mass in front of Camp Aguinaldo today to mark the second anniversary of his saon Janas' abduction by suspected military agents from a restaurant at the Ever-Gotesco Mall in Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City.


            Jonas Burgos, an advocate of organic farming, was whisked away by burly men who grabbed while he was having launch at the mall.

            The missing Burgos, who yelled "aktibista land po ako" after he was manhandled and forced into a van, was the son of Jose Burgos Jr., publisher of We Forum and Malaya who was himself imprisoned during martial law.


            Dr. Burgos said the assembly for the celebratory mass to be officiated by Fr. Robert Reyes will be at 9 a.m.


            She express dismay over the failure of the Supreme Court (SC) to rule on the motion for review that she filed in August 2008 to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) granting only a partial writ of amparo and denying the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus directed at military authorities.


            The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has consistently denied having Jonas Burgos in its custody in spite of the fact that the license plate used in the van during the abduction was traced to a vehicle impounded in a military camp in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan.


            Moreover, the car that tailed the van during the abduction was also found to have been issued to the office of the former chief of the Philippine Army (PA).


            Last April 21, Jonas' brother JL and Jose Burgos III mounted an art exhibit at the Conspiracy Restaurant in Visayas Ave., Quezon City to dramatize their agony at not finding Jonas through legal processes.

            The show featured five works by Jose Burgos III and three by JL, all of them dealing with the physical evidence of the abduction, their longing for a lost brother and their yearning for justice.


            Also featured were photographs documenting their search for Jonas.


            "The last two years has been like an eternity of uncertainty. We were able to proceed only because in these two years of affliction, the family has been blessed with relatives, friends and unnamed supporters especially artists and those in media who have provided all kinds of assistance. We have commended them in a special way to Him who will thank them. In my dialect "Ang Diyos ang mabalos." (God will thank them.)," Dr. Burgos said.


            "Jonas was taken by armed men and a woman last April 28, 2007 at the Hapag Kainan Restaurant, Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City at broad daylight in the view of hundreds of mall goers. Since then we have been praying, appealing, filing cases, searching, yet nothing is known of Jonas' fate. What is certain is that the perpetrators used a car with car plate TAB 194 which at the time of abduction was in the custody of the 56th Infantry Batallion. And what is more certain is that the state actors have all participated in the cover up so that I would not find out what truly happened," she added.


            "Jonas remains to be missing, two years after. We, the family and friends of Jonas have not given up. We have been constant and consistent in our efforts to locate him. We shall not forget. Though the forces of evil, now present in the very institutions that are vowed to protect the people, shroud the truth about what befell Jonas, we believe that in His time and our perfect time, the truth will be known and justice will be served," Dr. Burgos concluded.





To inform the local communities regarding the status of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo> '> s flagship projects in the main island of Palawan, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) conducts a public forum on the status of El Nido - Bataraza - Rio Tuba Road Project.

In his report to Public Works Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr., Region IV-B Director Viniedo Reyes said that among the participants in the said forum are local officials from the 2nd Congressional District of Palawan including municipal councilors and barangay captains.

During the forum, DPWH Palawan 2nd Assistant District Engineer Mariano G. Soriano reported the progress of works along the road project including other major projects of President Arroyo such as  the Malampaya Gas Share Project.

To date, this P8.16 Billion road project is already 33.37% complete and is expected to be completed by November 2010.

The project involves the construction of 358 kilometers of portland concrete cement pavement, and rehabilitation of bridges, slope protection works, drainage system and installation of road safety devices.

Bataraza Liga ng mga Barangay President Eddie Sagun said that the forum has become a good venue for exchange of ideas and tresh out vital issues regarding the road project such as road right of way acquisition, traffic control scheme during project implementation and local employment opportunities.

"We salute the department for its consistent hard work to provide the people with consistent information and being transparent in their operations. We would also like to express our deep gratitude and appreciation to the DPWH for their appearance and effective campaign," President Sagun said.

Gov’t Labor Day Job Fair to send OFWs to their deaths

Press release from Migrante

MIGRANTE: Gov't Labor Day Job Fair to send OFWs to their deaths


In a press conference this morning in Quezon City, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were victims of contract violations and other labor malpractices in Taiwan, Qatar and Libya joined Migrante International in condemning the Philippine government for apparently ramping up its effort to promote overseas employment despite the growing number of cases illegal dismissals, piracy, trafficking, illegal recruitment and human rights violations among OFWs amid the biting global financial crisis.

 "Our response to her gimmicks is the mass filing of illegal recruitment cases against concerned recruitment agencies. But more than this, there is one thing in common among all these cases: they are all POEA aprroved! Thus, POEA seems to be directly abetting criminal activities! Thus, we are also studying our options on how we can hold the POEA legally accountable for such injustice." Migrante Secretary General Gina Esguerra declared.

 Migrante particularly scored the government who they said is currently "working triple time" to mount the biggest job fair in the country on Labor Day, "Jobapalooza '09". The group, however, noted that the job fair's aim is not to provide Filipinos with stable jobs here at home but with dubious jobs overseas.

 "At the onset, the Arroyo regime has been a total failure in generating long term and sustainable jobs here in the country. It has been working triple time to promote overseas employment to cover up for this failure. For this regime, Filipinos are cheap commodities for export and it cares little if our compatriots are deployed to the most dirty, difficult, dangerous and degrading jobs and situations abroad," said Esguerra, noting that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has "gone so desperate" that it is even going directly to the Barangays to register jobseekers for the "Jobapalooza."

In short, the government is practically knocking door to door to send OFWs to precarious situations, some to their deaths overseas, with their job fairs," said Esguerra

Esguerra cited cases that prove why the government's labor export program is not the solution to the present crisis. She alluded to the case of 50 OFW victims from Libya and 16 from Qatar whose contracts were substituted and were subsequently dismissed from their jobs.  Esguerra said contract substitution is a form of illegal recruitment.

She also cited the cases of.over 100 OFWs from Taiwan who after paying exorbitant placement fees ranging from Php 85, 000- 150,000 were illegally dismissed by their employers.  She said this is a classic case of overcharging because according to RA 8042, allowed placement fees should only be equivalent to one month salary.  "This is also a form of illegal recruitment," Esguerra said. And yet, all government has done is to offer a paltry loan assistance package that would push OFWs more deep in debt.

Esguerra slammed Arroyo's slated Labor Day Job Fair, which seems to be part of her hype for her stimulus package, as nothing but "a government sponsored flea market where people are the ones that are up for sale at rock bottom prices."

She said OFWs under Migrante's banner worldwide are set to march on Labor Day to highlight the fact why the Arroyo government is the "biggest illegal recruiter in the country." She said putting the lives of Filipino workers at risk by deploying them to hazardous situations is also a form of illegal recruitment according to RA 8042.###


Junk oil deregulation law -- Chiz



Senator Chiz Escudero said the oil deregulation law is being used by the oil companies as a weapon to keep the public hostage and a shield to protect its interests.


"Their open defiance of the order to audit their books shows how inutile the government has become," the opposition senator said.


"The current turmoil in the global economy has seen governments taking on a more activist, regulatory role. We can do no less," Escudero said.


He pointed out that when Congress passed the law in 1998, the expectation was oil prices would decline because of competition among the oil companies.


"The law has become an artifact, a fossil that we can't even use for fuel. We have to act quickly because when the world's economies recover from today's crisis, oil prices might just soar above US$100 per barrel," he said.


The senator also lambasted the failure of Department of Energy chief Angelo Reyes to submit his promised report on the state of finances of the three major oil firms.


"The best evidence that Secretary Angelo Reyes is sleeping on his job is the pronouncement made by his fellow Cabinet member that gasoline prices are overpriced by P8.00," Escudero said.


He also pointed out that nothing has happened to President Arroyo's order for an audit of the books of oil companies.


"This is the least that government should be doing for the people. Whether helpless or simply inutile, what is clear is that the government is not doing enough to mitigate the impact of oil prices on our people," Escudero said.


Watch your spending, Chiz tells government

Sen. Chiz Escudero called for closer scrutiny and oversight of the administration's P300-billion economic stimulus package to avoid a runaway budget deficit which already stands at P119.7 billion as of the first quarter of the year.

Escudero said that while the global economic crisis necessitates a strong response from government, the crisis should also not be made an excuse for excessive spending which in turn could be a source of graft and corruption.

The Department of Finance reported that stimulus spending, coupled by weak collections, have pushed the budget deficit for month of March alone to P52.6 billion, the highest in history.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) came out with a report Wednesday that the Philippine economy is expected to post zero growth this year. But the report also said the world economy was expected to contract, by as much as 3.8 percent for industrialized nations like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

"We must be vigilant in monitoring how taxpayers' money will be spent. The administration says it will go to job generation, direct cash transfers, and social protection program. While these are priorities, we must make sure funds are indeed going to be spent for these activities and spent well," Escudero said.

He said the zero-growth projection by the IMF was a highly conservative estimate. HSBC, for instance, puts the figure at least around one percent growth for this year.

"The economic crisis should not be made an excuse by government to wantonly spend under the guise of 'pump-priming,'" Escudero said.

He also called on the administration's economic planners to calibrate stimulus spending in infrastructure towards vital sectors like services and agriculture.

"Stimulus spending in infrastructure should be made with long-term growth in mind and not merely to create jobs. We don't want to see white elephants or useless projects when the economic crisis blows over," Escudero said.

Instead, the senator called for focused spending on sectors that are poised to pick up and recover quickly when the effects of the crisis wear off. These sectors include tourism, and business process outsourcing.

Some economic analysts see a three to four percent growth next year when markets settle down.

"The government must be able to account for every peso it spends to stimulate the economy in terms of growth over the long term," Escudero said.



Chiz to COMELEC: Don't Dance Cha-Cha with House

Sen. Chiz Escudero scored the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for playing into the hands of Cha-cha proponents by delaying the proclamation of the new partylist representatives as ordered by the Supreme Court.


"The cha-cha proponents could take this opening to railroad their long-planned agenda to extend their stay in power," Escudero said.  "The COMELEC decision to delay the proclamation raises questions about its motives."


He pointed out that some of the new representatives are members of partylist groups which are opposed to changing the constitution before the 2010 elections


Escudero had earlier hailed the SC decision in BANAT vs. Comelec saying that it virtually killed the plot by administration allies to change the constitution through a constitutional assembly since it would increase the number of votes required to pass the proposal.


A day after saying the poll body would abide by the Supreme Court's ruling, COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo said his colleagues would first have to meet with the High Court's technical working group before acting on the tribunal's decision.


The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the old formula of computing partylist representation in the House which was two percent of the highest votes cast for a partylist group.


The new formula as penned by the tribunal is 20 percent of the total number of legislative districts which under the present composition of the House should be 55 seats.


Escudero, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Law, said the legal and constitutional basis for proclaiming the new partylist representatives are clear and unequivocal.


"There is no need for an omnibus law to allow the increase in the number of seats at the House beyond 250. The Constitution is clear on this: the number of seats shall be 250 unless otherwise provided by law," he said.


"The Supreme Court ruling declares that acts of Congress creating legislative districts in effect increases the number of seats in the House of Representatives. Proclamation delayed is democracy denied," he added.


Earlier, Speaker Prospero Nograles said he would ask the House's legal department to study the ruling after stating that the decision would put the House membership over 250 which he said would violate the Constitution.


On Wednesday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile formally informed Escudero that he is withdrawing authorship of Senate Bill 3123 or "An Act Increasing the Number of Membership in the House of Representatives" citing the Supreme Court ruling.


A similar bill had earlier been filed at the Lower House by Iloilo Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. and has passed the committee level.



Chiz slams government for borrowing spree

Senator Chiz Escudero slammed the government for its borrowing spree supposedly in the name of economic stimulation and called on the Arroyo administration to immediately revisit its 2009 budget deficit target of P199 billion.

First quarter borrowings hit P351 billion in the first quarter of this year alone, up 130 percent over the same year-ago period.

"The rise in borrowings is alarming. The national government must exercise prudence and not make the global economic crisis an excuse for massive borrowings," Escudero said.

The senator said the deficit target of P199 billion for this year, adjusted from the original P172 billion, was set in anticipation of a massive economic slowdown brought about by the global economic crisis.

"But Malacanang itself has declared that the economic situation is not turning out to be as bad as originally projected. In fact, no less than Bangko Sentral Governor Armando Tetangco had protested the zero growth rate announced by the IMF," Escudero said.

"The government must temper its borrowing spree and carefully calibrate its stimulus spending. We have to remember that taxpayers will eventually be the ones who will pay for this loans, not President Gloria Arroyo or her economic managers," the senator added.

The government is planning to borrow P175 billion overseas and P439 billion from domestic sources. Foreign borrowings would rise by P27.5 billion.

The rise in the deficit was attributed to the government's P300-billion economic stimulus package which was put in place to ease the impact of the global economic crisis.

But both the government and the private sector are already saying the country may be spared the full brunt of the economic crunch.

In light of this, Escudero said there should be closer scrutiny and oversight of the Arroyo government's stimulus spending.

 "As economists continue to see some encouraging indicators and revise their own growth projections for the country, the government must do the same and revisit its stimulus program," the senator said.

Chiz decries bias in favor of foreigners

Sen. Chiz Escudero said the case of Daniel Smith reveals an inherent bias in favor of foreigners in the country's justice system 


"It's really saddening to see that Filipinos, who have been victims of discrimination overseas, are even placed at a disadvantage against foreigners in their own country," he said.


"More disheartening is the fact that Nicole saw hope, a better future, in America despite her unfortunate experience. It may very well be an indictment of what we have become as a nation," the opposition senator said.


"It is a symptom of the state of helplessness that has developed because of decades of misgovernance. Most of our people have, through no fault of their own, lost faith in this country," Escudero said.


He also noted that Smith did not even "waste a day" in slipping out of the country after being acquitted or rape by the Court of Appeals.


"While he is out of sight, Smith will never be out of our minds. He will always remind us of the folly of our dependency on the United States," he said.


Escudero reiterated his support for the abrogation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).


Chiz wants more cops, teachers, doctors to match rising population

The government should stop paying lip service to critical sectors of society such as education, peace and order, and health and immediately act by filling up the shortages of teachers, policemen, and physicians in the country, Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

"The government should immediately fill up the shortage in policemen, teachers, and doctors in the country because they are frontline personnel who provide vital and essential services that move our country forward," Escudero said.

He said that while partylist representation in the House of Representatives is indexed to its total membership as the Supreme Court ruled recently, so, too must government index the number of policemen, doctors, and teachers to the increasing population which now stands at 88.57 million.

 "The principle of proper representation is a foundation of a vibrant democratic society. To deny the people this is to deny them the benefits of democracy," Escudero said.

 "Take education, for instance. We have 522,990 public school teachers as of 2008. The additional requirement, based on government's own data, is 39,762 for this year. However, only 10,000 teachers will be hired this year, leaving a shortage of 29,762," he said.

What is lamentable, the senator said, is that with the projected increase in enrollments in public schools this coming school year by about 500,000 pupils, this will mean 12,500 new teachers.

"We cannot afford to sacrifice the quality of education in the country," he said.

In the case of policemen, Escudero said Republic Act 6975 provides that the manning levels of the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall be approximately in accordance with the ideal police-population ratio of one cop for every 500 persons.

"As of March 2005, the ratio was 1:729. This is unacceptable, and this is one of the reasons why the government has been unsuccessful in effectively addressing criminality," he said.

He said there are presently 125,893 policemen, of which half are available for beat patrol everyday. Based on a three-shift schedule, Escudero estimated that there are only about 20,000 policemen on duty at a given time.

With a projected increase in the population by 1.9 million, the senator said the policeman-population ratio of 1:500 means there should be about 177,000 policemen. "The backlog is roughly 50,000 policemen; the government will only hire 3,000 this year. This is simply unacceptable," Escudero said.

At the same time, Escudero said the shortage of government doctors has already reached alarming levels. He said there is one government doctor for every 29,000 Filipinos as of end-2006, including those assigned to administrative duties.

"The ideal ratio, according to the World Health Organization, should be one doctor for every 10,000 patients. In the United States the ratio is 1:450. But in Cuba, a developing country like the Philippines, it is 1:225.

"We cannot invoke demographic reasons in packing the Batasan to the rafters and at the same time reject the same standard as to the number of people who make us well and keep us safe," Escudero said.

 "If the government is putting more people to stand on the floor of Congress, then it can no less than put more teachers in classrooms, more doctors in health centers to treat our sick, and more policemen in the streets to protect us," he added.