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Monday, August 31, 2009


In support with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyos' thrust in building infrastructure facilities to interlink the major islands of the country through the Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) System, the Department of Public Works and Highways reported the completion of an access road leading to an on-going new port in San Andres, Quezon Province

Funded under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Pump Priming Program, the DPWH Quezon 3rd District Engineering Office reported the completion of the Sitio Dating Bayan Section of the San Francisco-San Andres-San Narciso Road Project.

The DPWH Pump Priming Program aims to fight the increasing threat of global financial economic crisis by providing massive employment opportunities especially in the jobless rural communities in distant areas.

DPWH Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. said that improving the major access roads leading to major port area to in support in the needs of agricultural and trade industry in Quezon Province and it would also generate employment opportunities among the residents in the area.

Mr.Moises Parada, a Brgy.Captain in Brgy. Tala San Andres said that during the time when the road has not yet paved, farmers as well as local traders in the area are having a hard time to transport their products going in and out of Lucena City which is the main trading post in Quezon Province but now that the parcel of the road was paved it had really helped to speed up travelling time.

Under the CY 2009 Pump Priming Program, the said road project includes the road opening, sub-grade base preparation, concrete paving, stone masonry works and road side tree planting along the 474 lineal meters of road.

This P15 Million road projects also includes the P112,350 worth of road right-of-way acquisition.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Philippine Government, IOM, UNHCR Sign Refugee Transit Agreement

28 August 2009-The Philippines, IOM and UNHCR yesterday signed a Memorandum
of Agreement on providing emergency transit facilities in the Philippines
for refugees in need of immediate international protection.

The agreement aims to establish modalities for the transit and processing of
refugees in the Philippines who risk being sent back to countries from which
they have fled (refoulement) or who need to transit in another country,
pending the processing of their cases and their subsequent resettlement in a
third country.

Under the agreement, IOM will provide transport to and within the
Philippines for the refugees, as well as onward transport to resettlement
countries. It will also provide medical screening on arrival and prior to
departure, as well as cultural orientation to prepare them for their new
lives in resettlement countries.

The deal, signed by Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and
senior representatives of IOM and UNHCR, is the first formal arrangement of
its kind.

"This agreement will result in better protection for refugees in high risk
situations, who can now be evacuated to the safety of the Philippines and
processed, prior to their permanent resettlement in a third country," said
IOM Manila Administrative Centre Director Bruce Reed.

Time for honest men to take a stand in NBN-ZTE mess

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero called on Social Security System President Romulo Neri to stand up for truth, come clean, and divulge everything he knows about the anomalous NBN-ZTE deal.

"All it takes for corruption to continue is the inaction of men and women. I call on Secretary Neri to follow the example of Rodolfo 'Jun' Lozada and stop protecting those truly responsible," Escudero said.

"Unless there are more Jun Lozadas – men and women who courageously come forward to expose corruption in government – then this problem will continue to haunt our country and hinder its growth," the 39-year old senator added.

Neri was the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chief when the NBN-ZTE scandal broke out. He claimed he was bribed by then Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos to approve the deal.

Abalos was the alleged facilitator of the botched telecom deal. The Office of the Ombudsman had recommended the filing of graft charges against Abalos and Neri but cleared President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Miguel Arroyo of any involvement in the deal.

"Secretary Neri is now in a position to help authorities bring to justice those who are involved and may have masterminded the deal. He is now being made the fall guy of the culprits. He should reconsider his invocation of executive privilege and reveal all he knows about the NBN-ZTE deal," Escudero said.

Neri testified before the Senate that Abalos offered him a bribe and that he had informed President Arroyo about it.

"Sec, me 200 ka dito," Neri quoted Abalos as saying to him at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong City.

Escudero said corruption has often been cited as the Philippines' biggest problem. He estimates billions of pesos are lost every year to graft.

Under the Arroyo Administration, the country ranked 141th in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index last year. In 2004, the Philippines was ranked 102, and then slipped to 117 the next year. In 2006, it was down to 121st and then fell further 131st in 2007.

"These billions can be used for educating our youth, developing our inadequate infrastructure, and delivering important basic services," he said.

Is Erap unstoppable?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

By Tony Lopez
Is Erap unstoppable?


The office of Manny Villar and Pulse Asia sent me the Pulse Asia survey results of July 28 to August 10 showing the former Senate president now leads the presidentiables race for 2010.

Villar would take 25 percent of the vote, former President Joseph Estrada 19 perccent, Vice President Noli de Castro 16 percent, Sen. Chiz Escudero 12 percent and Sen. Mar Roxas 11 percent.

Pulse Asia confirmed a separate Social Weather Stations survey of June 19 to 22, 2009, showing that Villar and Estrada are now the top two contenders for the presidency. Both have come from the bottom from a year to two years ago. Erstwhile frontrunner de Castro is steadily losing ground. Estrada used to be last among the first seven choices. That he has climbed to within striking distance of the frontrunner nine months before May 2010 is remarkable. He has yet to peak.

However, Erap is devilled by two questions—his legal qualification to run and his qualification to run. Legally, he is not supposed to be allowed to run again because presidents are banned from any reelection. Erap's legal advisers maintain the ban is on immediate reelection by an incumbent president and reelection by those who have served office for at least four years. He served only for 30 months. Gloria Arroyo served the 42 months remainder of Erap's six years yet she was allowed to run and win in 2004. So legally Erap can win his case before the Supreme Court.

Now as to Erap's qualification for the presidency, former Sen. Ernesto Maceda makes a compelling case. Here is Maceda:

We submit that President Joseph "Erap" Estrada is the best choice to lead the country in the next six years for the following reasons:

He is the most experienced of all the candidates—17 years as mayor, five years as senator, six years as vice president and Cabinet member and two and a half years as president. These amount to a total of 30 and a half years of executive and legislative experience.

He is the most mature. As a senior citizen, he will be the oldest to serve. Like President Ronald Reagan, who was elected at 73 and served for two terms and was considered one of the best US presidents; Nelson Mandela, who was elected the first president of South Africa at age 84 and received a Nobel Peace Prize; Charles de Gaulle, who served as president of France until he was 79; and German Chancelor Helmut Kohl, also in his late years, Estrada brings the wisdom of the ages to the job.

Will a 40-year-old, a 45-year-old or a 52-year-old with young children in school not think of insuring his family's future? At 73, President Erap's only purpose in life is to serve God and the poor in the last years of his life.

He has no businesses to favor or to protect.

He is a survivor and has survived several baptisms of fire and is now steeled against any new challenges he may face.

He continues to retain the trust of his countrymen, as is proven in surveys, something that is necessary to get people's confidence in and cooperation with his administration.

After six and a half years of detention he did a lot of meditation, introspection, prayers and Bible study, he has undergone the necessary purification and conversion, which has brought him closer to God and has given him a fresh outlook in life and makes him better prepared to hold the reins of government.

He wouldn't be a dictator. Having been unjustly charged and detained, he has walked in the shoes of the oppressed, which provides him with the perspective to wield the sword of government with objective balance and restraint. He wouldn't be dictatorial.

He is the only person who has demonstrated the political will to fight the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and New People's Army insurgencies. He captured 46 MILF camps and routed the secessionists. He will never agree to the creation of a Bangsamoro state in Mindanao, in gross violation of the Constitution. If you continue a GMA administration, the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain will be revived.

In view of his age, his stature and his forgiving nature, he will be in the best position to unify all the defeated factions after the elections. It would be difficult for the warring senators who ran for president to unite after losing the elections to their sworn enemies.

Over and above all these, President Erap has one overarching quality that separates him from the other presidentiables—he has a big heart, a generous heart, a forgiving heart and most of all, a loving heart for the poor.

Erap is a known quantity, predictable and definitely a democrat with a golden heart.

He is not only the best choice. He is also the safest choice.

To contact the writer, post your comment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Transcript of Interview Juan Ponce Enrile 24Aug2009



On EO 464


Sir, pwede ba  na some portions of it ay ma-consider?




Pwede pa kung sa akala ng presidente ay kailangan pa pag-usapan sa publiko.




On 600 American troops..VFA


Sir, ano po yung comment nila sa presence ng 600 American troops?




Sino ba may sabi na 600? Hindi nga nila alam.




Sir, personally, ano po yung Agreement covering the situation now.




Yung  Visiting Forces Agreement ang justification.




Sa tingin  po  ninyo dapat bang  i-revisit ang VFA? Sabi po ni Sen. Miriam Santiago, it's taking them too long sa mga visits nila dito pero parang wala naman daw nangyayari.



Leave that to the Committee on Foreign  Affairs to decide. Gather the facts muna.





Pero sir, sino dapat ang mag decide kung dapat  pa sila mag stay dito kasi US ang nag declare na mananatili pa sila dito?



Upon the arrangement of the two government 'yun in accordance with the agreement. Hindi nila pwedeng labagin yung Agreement. Yung  Agreement ang controlling document diyan.







































Aghast at the increasing incidence of highway accidents, Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday called for higher penalties for reckless driving, especially when it results to death and injuries to persons.


Loren reacted vehemently to the accident along Maharlika Highway in Lucena City when two buses collided, resulting in the death of eight passengers and injuries to many others.


Loren deplored that because of lax traffic law enforcement, many drivers have become reckless and have disregarded traffic rules and regulations. 


She also observed that many public utility drivers have taken to using drugs despite regulations banning drug users from driving.


She recounted one instance when a bus did not stop on a pedestrian crossing along EDSA Avenue and hit a young girl accompanied by her mother.  The girl's arm was later amputed, with the driver of the bus claiming that he did not see the girl stretching her arm to stop the bus.


Loren noted that many of the traffic accidents are due not only to reckless driving and flagrant violations of traffic rules and regulations but also to the use of drugs by drivers, especially those who drive public utility vehicles. 


Other drivers lack proper training and experience, endangering lives and properties, Loren noted.


 "It is time that we put a stop to these rampant accidents," said Loren, "by strict and proper enforcement of traffic laws and regulations and adequate training of public utility and private vehicle drivers.  Policemen and traffic enforcers who accept bribes should be punished strictly and drummed out of the service."


She also said that the drug testing of public utility drivers should be made regularly at random and should be strictly enforced.


Loren also proposed a review of the penalties provided for reckless driving that result to death and injuries of persons. 


She noted that the charges filed are usually for homicide or causing injury through reckless imprudence.


 "But if the accident is caused by the use of drugs, shouldn't this be considered an aggravating circumstance, and thus subject to a higher penalty?" she asked.

Migrante to COMELEC: Extend OAV listing


With only a week left before the deadline of overseas absentee voters' (OAV) registration, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers' groups appealed to the Commission on Elections to extend the ongoing OAV registration.

Migrante International, in a statement, said it is "very disappointed" with the COMELEC's "snail-paced" approval of OAV registrants. The group said that out of 162,356 OAV applications so far, only 17,000 of them have been approved by the COMELEC's Resident Election Registration Boards (RERB).

The Migrante leader explained that since the start of the OAV registration period last February, the RERBs have convened only twice, in March and in April this year.

OAV registration ends August 31, 2009.

"The COMELEC's snail paced approval of OAV registrants is unforgivable. We are afraid that, because of this sad development, OFWs might deem the COMELEC insincere in its mandate to ensure our hard fought right to vote," Martinez said.

"Migrante mobilized all of its chapters and members overseas to encourage Filipinos abroad to register, only to find out that the COMELEC has been sluggish in approving OAV applications," he added, stressing that they have chapters in nine (9) of the ten (10) countries worldwide who topped OAV listing. "The deafening clamor of OFWs around the world  for an extension of the oav registration seems to be falling on deaf ears."

Martinez disclosed that COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo wrote them a letter last month asking for help from Migrante chapters worldwide in the promotion of OAV registration.

"We challenge the COMELEC, under the leadership of Chairman Melo, to rise up to the occasion and prove that the right to suffrage of Filipinos overseas is their priority by extending the OAV registration until December 31, 2009; by working triple time in conducting more field registrations and information campaigns and by stepping up the approval process of pending OAV applications for registration," Martinez concluded.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


 An animated film promoting a green environment, co-produced by Sen. Loren Legarda, will be premiered on Wednesday, August 26, at 10:30 a.m. at Cinema 1 of Shang Cineplex.


The film, a two-episode animated series, titled Ligtas Likas, tells the story of a young girl named Maya and her friends, Bobot, the compactor-robot, and Tatang, the nature worshipper. 


Together they fight off the enemies of the environment.  Each episode tells how they conserve the rainforest and protect the ocean against pollution.


Creative Media and Film Society of the Philippines or CREAM has collaborated with the Office of Senator Legarda to co-produce Ligtas Likas.


The film is primarily aimed at children to motivate them to practice and promote recycling and proper waste management in line with the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000 which was authored and sponsored by Senator Legarda. 


The story and screenplay were written by Ms. Imee Marcos, Peter Mayshle and Ann Angala Shy. Animation was directed by Nasser Luceñada and co-directed by Excy Salavarria.


Augusto B. Santos was appointed as the Acting Director-General (DG) of the
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on August 19, 2009. This
is the third time that the President designated him as NEDA Head. His
earlier appointments were as NEDA Officer-in-Charge from July 14, 2005 to
February 16, 2006 and as Acting Director-General from August 16, 2007 to
July 28, 2008.

Rising from the ranks, Acting DG Santos started as an Economic Researcher
of the Presidential Economic Staff of the National Economic Council (now

His professional experiences are in the areas of policy and program
analysis for the social and infrastructure sectors, official development
assistance coordination, project development, investment programming, and
regional development and land use and physical planning.

Prior to his appointment as DDG in March 28, 2000, Santos served as
Assistant Director-General for Investment Programming of NEDA's National
Development Office (1992 to 2000) and as Director of NEDA's Infrastructure
Staff (1990 to 1992). He was Project Director/Manager of the World
Bank-assisted National Transportation Planning Project from 1987 to 1989.

Santos has held various positions in different government organizations,
boards and committees. He is currently Chair of the National Land Use
Committee and the Regional Development Committee under the NEDA Board, the
Audit Committee of the Philippine Export/Import Credit Agency Board, and
the National Steering Committee of the UNICEF-assisted Country Program for
Children. He also sits as ex officio representative to the Power Sector
Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, Toll Regulatory Board,
Philippine Ports Authority, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Trade
and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines, National
Irrigation Administration Board and the Palawan Sustainable Development
Council. He also served as the Chair of the Philippines-Canada Development
Fund Board and as member of the Board of Directors of the Light Rail
Transportation Authority and the Council for the Welfare of Children.

ICTSI among ASEAN’s Top 100 ‘wealth makers’ – Stern Stewart

New York-based management advisor Stern Stewart & Co. has included International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) in its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 100 Relative Wealth Added (RWA) Index list for 2009.
ICTSI was ranked 39th in Southeast Asia and third in the Philippines in the list's RWA-Overall Business Cycle.  Eleven Philippine companies made it to the regional rankings, with ICTSI cited as one of only two companies in the country that created wealth for shareholders during a six-year business cycle from 2001 to 2008.
Awarding rites for the Philippine winners were held last 23 July at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Makati City.  ICTSI Officers Narlene Soriano, Public Relations Manager, and Ma. Estella Abad Santos, Business Development – Asia Manager, represented the Company during the awards.
The RWA Index is based on a metric system devised by Stern Stewart that measures companies' wealth made during expansion and contraction periods.  Listed companies are pitted against peers classified according to industries defined by business news and information provider Bloomberg.
ICTSI, classified under transportation, also placed in the RWA-Overall Expansion list at rank 26.   The Company was not included in the RWA-Overall Contraction list, an indication that ICTSI weathered the global economic crisis based on its performance from 9 October 2007 to yearend 2008.  Stern Stewart identified the 9 October 2007 as the peak of the market based on Bloomberg data.
Rankings in another list, the Wealth Added Index (WAI), were also released.  ICTSI placed 74th in the WAI-Overall Business Cycle, and 31st in the WAI-Overall Contraction list.  WAI, another metrics developed by Stern Stewart, measures excess wealth generated above expectations based on perceived risks of shares, especially if companies exceeded its cost of equity.
The placement of ICTSI in the WAI-Overall Contraction list is another positive indicator based on the WAI principle of outperforming cost of equity during expansion and underperformance during contraction.  Over the business cycle, companies should cover their cost of equity during high, low, and neutral periods.
Both RWA and WAI follow the Economic Value Added (EVA) philosophy developed and popularized by Stern Stewart.  EVA is based on the principle that firms, business units, projects and activities must beat their cost capital.
ICTSI is a leading port management company involved in the operations and development of 19 marine terminals and port projects in 13 countries worldwide.   For over 20 years, ICTSI has proven itself to be the private sector partner of choice for world-class trade facilitation in the economies it serves. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

'GMA should care for OFWs while still alive'


A global alliance of OFW organizations cautioned President Arroyo in using the wake of Joel Llorente, a returning OFW who died while on board a plane, to cover for her administration's alleged criminal neglect on OFWs welfare protection.


"It is precisely the Arroyo administration's failure to address the basic needs of the Filipinos that kept OFWs like Llorente to keep on working even while sick. It would be the height of hypocrisy to use his wake as a publicity stunt when in the first place it was her labor export program that eventually killed Llorente," exclaimed Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante international.


President Arroyo visited the house of Llorente at Payatas, Quezon City, to sympathize with the mourning family of the said OFW and to assure that necessary benefits would be given by OWWA.


 "About 3,400 Filipinos are leaving their loved ones daily to work abroad due to worsening poverty and widespread unemployment here in our country. On the other hand, an average of 10 bodies of overseas Filipinos likewise arrives everyday.  No amount of token commiseration with one victim can expunge GMA's record of criminal negligence for the plight of the OFWs ," Garry Martinez added.


According to the group, President Arroyo signed administrative order 247 last December 4 instructing POEA to focus more on marketing OFWs abroad to ensure the number of deployed Filipino workers in different countries this year will increase.


"We would like to remind President Arroyo that three of her fellow Kapampangans could be beheaded any moment since her administration failed to raise the issue of the torture they experienced at the hands of Saudi authorities so they would forcibly admit to the crimes they never committed. President Arroyo should really stop her practice of using OFWs to gain media mileage," Martinez concluded.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

DPWH to Save KAMANAVA’s Historical Sites and Boost Tourism

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is rushing the completion of the P 5.18 Billion mega-dike project in the KAMANAVA area in order to spare 2.56 million people from persistent floods and to protect historical sites in the former Spanish communities.

In an interview, Carla Bartolo, project director of DPWH KAMANAVA Flood Control Project Management Office, said the project is now 94% completed and is expected to be finished by December this year.

"We are fighting against time to complete this project not only to alleviate the living condition of the people here but also to preserve what remained of the historical and heritage sites," she said of the historically rich towns in Kalookan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.

KAMANAVA has rich historical sites like the Bonifacio Monument, the Bell Tower of San Diego De Alcala Church, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, and other heritage landmarks dating as far back as the 1800's.

Bartolo said that once the floods are contained, KAMANAVA has the potential of achieving progress because of its historical sites which can attract tourists here and abroad.

"Once the floods are gone, the tourists will come in," she said.

According to Bartolo, the mega-dike project covers 18.50 sq. km of flood-prone areas in the cities of Kalookan, Malabon, and Navotas. The feasibility study of Valenzuela area will be undertaken under a separate drainage area.

The project also includes the raising of river walls on the left and right banks of the Malabon-Tullahan and Navotas-Tullahan River, the construction of flood control gates, pumping stations, and drainage channels, and the improvement of drainage channels.

Bartolo further said that the flooding in the said areas have occurred since early times due to physical conditions of the site. However, the recent rapid urbanization, coupled with land subsidence, has induced severe flood damage everytime it rains.

Other contributing factors to the flooding in KAMANAVA are the high tide at Manila Bay, the run-off increase due to urbanization, reclamation, topography and inadequate capacity of drainage channels due to siltation and obstruction.

Petroleum taxation around the world

Friday, August 21, 2009

Training cum employment program for nurses gains more support

Support for the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) program, which has
already deployed more than 5,000 unemployed registered nurses nationwide,
continues to "snowball" with a healthcare foundation committing to sponsor
the deployment of an additional 100 nurses to another 20 needy

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that the GlaxoSmithKline
Foundation (Phils.), Inc. entered into an accord with the DOLE and the
Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), on Thursday (August 20, 2009) to
provide for its sponsorship of 100 unemployed registered nurses who would be
deployed to 20 poor municipalities under Project NARS.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said that the latest
support follows the earlier commitment to the Project NARS forged by the
PHAP Cares Foundation, Inc. which assured the deployment of a similar number
of nurses in an accord inked on May 21, 2009.

Amidst the development, the PhilHealth has positively expressed support
towards the deployment of another 220 unemployed registered nurses to more
poor municipalities under the NARS program.

Significantly, the growing support to the program both from the private
pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, as well as the government sector, is
expected to increase the number of poor municipalities targeted under
Project NARS from the original 1,000 nationwide.

A number of local government units (LGUs) have also provided additional
support such as transportation allowance ranging from P500 to P2,000 per
month, free board and accommodation, and free food when on duty.

The GlaxoSmithKline Foundation (GSKF) is a non-stock, non-profit
organization whose mission extends the company's medical and research
commitment to community service and corporate social responsibility.

Roque said that GSKF president Roberto C. Taboada, together with PHAP
president Oscar J. Aragon, signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which
affirmed the foundation's support and commitment to the Project NARS. Roque
and PRC Chairman Nicolas P. Lapeña, Jr., also signed the MOA.

Subsequently, the document was presented to President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo in Malacañang Palace.

The President had earlier launched Project NARS during the successful
Multi-Sectoral Summit on "Joining Hands Against the Global Crisis" in
Malacañang Palace on February 9 this year.

The latest MOA underscored the importance of the Project NARS in mobilizing
unemployed registered nurses to the poorest municipalities in the country in
response to the global crisis. The Project aims to mobilize nurses as
"warriors for wellness" in poor municipalities to initiate primary health,
school nutrition, maternal health programs, and first line diagnosis; inform
about community water sanitation practices and do health surveillance;
immunize children and mothers; and act as roving nurses for rural schoolds.

Under the project, the nurses would undergo training and development for
competency enhancement in accordance with the training program designed by
the PRC and the Board of Nursing in collaboration with the DOH. The nurse
trainees receive a monthly P8,000 stipend during their training period, and
under the signed MOA, the GSKF will shoulder the monthly allowance for the
100 additional nurse-trainees.

Thus far, the first batch of 5,000 nurse-trainees with a six-month tour of
duty under Project NARS had been successfully deployed to the 1,000 poorest
municipalities for a six month tour of duty beginning last April.

Meanwhile, the on-line application for the second batch beginning October
2009 has commenced. Project NARS website and pertinent information are
accessible in the Internet at www.dole., or

RP hails Japan's new anti-piracy law to protect passage of ships, seafarers off Somalia

The Philippines has hailed the passage of a new law by Japan that
complements the global efforts to ensure a safe passage for ships, and their
maritime personnel, in response to the rampant acts of piracy and hijacking
occurring off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in particular, said that the
recent passage of Japan's new, decisive anti-piracy law dovetails with the
wider efforts of the United Nations (UN), including the Philippines and
other affected countries, to ensure the safe passage of ships in the world's
maritime trading areas.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque had been apprised by the
Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the salient legislative
development in Japan which, while aimed at protecting Japan-flagged vessels,
would reinforce the safety and well-being of the more than 40,000 overseas
Filipino seafarers currently manning the majority of Japan's global merchant
marine fleet.

Prior to the development, Roque visited Tokyo earlier this year,
accompanied by the social partners from the Associated Marine Officers' and
Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), and the Philippine-Japan
Consultative Council, to represent the country at the Philippine-Japan
Seafarer Policy Forum, and successfully push the preservation of the jobs of
the numerous overseas Filipino seafarers employed in Japanese vessels.

The Labor and Employment Secretary had been apprised by Foreign Affairs
Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis that, "His Excellency, Prime Minister Taro
Aso of Japan, had recently announced the enactment of the 'Law on the
Penalization of Acts of Piracy and Measures against Acts of Piracy.'"

As PM Taro Aso underscored earlier, the new law would benefit both Japanese
and non-Japanese vessels, allowing Japan to "discharge its responsibility as
a member of the international community," by actively contributing to the
global efforts against the menace of piracy.

Japan, in enacting the law, reaffirmed the UN Convention on the Law of the
Sea, which provides that all states shall cooperate to the fullest possible
extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place
outside the jurisdiction of any State.

Forged in 1982 through the signatures of more than 150 countries including
the Philippines, the Law of the Sea defined piracy as illegal acts committed
on the high seas for private ends, adding that all countries have a right to
seize and prosecute those committing such acts.

Japan had contributed proactively to the anti-piracy efforts in tandem with
the protecting naval vessels of the United States (US), European countries,
China, and other states patrolling the waters off Somalia.

Its measures included the dispatch of two destroyers from the Japan Coast
Guard and the Maritime Self Defense Forces for the conduct of maritime
police operations in the Gulf of Aden. Specifically, the vessels had
already escorted some 87 Japan-flagged vessels in 28 operations since early

Importantly, the government has noted the point raised by Japanese Foreign
Minister Hirofumi Nakasone who said that the new law would allow Japan to
collaborate more closely with the international community in carrying out a
multi-pronged approach aimed at addressing the costs of piracy in the Indian

As Nakasone indicated, Japan's active aid to Somalia has so far totaled
approximately USD 67 million in the form of humanitarian assistance and aid
to improve order and security, adding that ultimately, the resolution of
piracy in the area involves a) the advancement of maritime law enforcement
capabilities of the region's coastal states; b) more regional cooperation;
and c) the stabilization of Somalia's situation in response to increased

Libyan firms open doors to distressed OFWs

Five (5) Libyan companies have signified their intention to absorb the
greater majority of some 131 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in
the host country, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) bared today.

A report to Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque indicated that
the offer by the Libyan firms came in response to the intervention and
mediation pursued by the DOLE'S Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in
that country to assist the distressed OFWs.

Media had earlier reported the plight of the distressed OFWs who accused
their employer in Libya of allegedly transferring their work site illegally,
and reducing their wages by forcing them to sign new contracts. In
particular, the group Migrante International indicated that while the OFWs
wanted Libya to continue being "a nice destination for OFWs," it also echoed
their need for appropriate intervention to rescue them from their plight.

The Philippine Labor Attache to Tripoli, Libya, Nasser S. Mustafa, said that
while the POLO had taken care to inspect the worksite and facilities of the
OFWs in Tripoli in accordance with its duty, unknown to it the OFWs upon
their arrival in Libya from the Philippines were immediately brought by the
firm to a project site located 1,250 kilometers away in Benghazi.

Nonetheless, Mustafa indicated that during their intervention, the firm,
called ERSAA, indicated its sincerity to assist in the resolution by
releasing the OFWs' passports to the POLO's custody, and by not posing any
impediment to the transfer of the OFWs to other companies. Furthermore, it
pledged to release the remaining salaries of the workers.

He added that onsite in Benghazi, Libya, the POLO had dispatched one of its
staff, Mr. Abdulaziz A. Ating, accompanied by a representative of Bison, the
recruiting agency, to oversee the OFWs' transfer.

As this developed, Mustafa said that the POLO had commenced the full
documentation of the workers while they are in the process of being absorbed
with receiving companies, which have offered to accommodate them on more
favorable working and living environments than their original employer.

"The process started with the Al Furusiya Contracting Company, which hired
11 workers who received a full month salary in advance as provided by the
said firm," the Labor Attache said, adding that eight other OFWs also
absorbed by the Amal Africa have been provided by the firm with 600 Libyan
dinars as advanced salary, with another 500 Libyan dinars sent to their
families in RP.

Based on Mustafa's recent report, in addition to Al Furusiya, four more
Libyan companies have also signified their intention to absorb the
distressed OFWs following the meetings the POLO had initiated with other
employers. He identified the four as United Engineering Company, Al Oula
Company, Amal Africa Catering Company, and Al Taqaniya Al Handasia Al
Hadeetha, which altogether offered to absorb a total 93 of the 131
distressed workers. Mustafa, however, indicated that 29 of the 131 OFWs
have firmly decided for repatriation back to RP, with the first batch
tentatively scheduled in August, and with the Bison agency ensuring their

On favorable terms, United Engineering Co. offered to absorb 24 of the 131
OFWs offering to facilitate the required residence visa, provide
accommodation and food, a two-year working contract subject to POLO review
with three months on probationary, and basic salary on the following scheme:
a) foreman - US$600 increased to $750 after probationary period, and b)
skilled workers - basic salary of US$400 increased to $600 after probation.
For its part, Al Oula Co. indicated its openness to absorb around 10 OFWs,
with residence visa, two-year contract, salaries in cash paid every month's
end either in US dollars or Libyan dinars as preferred by OFWs, free housing
accommodation, with the provision of food under negotiation. Meanwhile,
Amal Africa Catering Co. signified through its General Manager Ali Hakuma
the firm's intention to hire 35 of the OFWs, on salaries ranging from
US$400 - $1,000 according to performance, with 45 days leave a year,
advanced salary of one month with a portion sent to their families in RP.
Finally, the firm Al Taqaniya Al Handasia Al Hadeetha, through Director Eng.
Khalid, expressed willingness to hire 24 of the distressed OFWs with free
accommodation, food and transportation, residence visa, a monthly salary of
US$500 for skilled workers and $600 for foreman, 8 working hours daily and
leave every Friday, provided the OFWs work hard for the interest of the

Gov't issues pay rules for Ninoy Aquino Day

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued the pay rules to be
observed during the special non-working holiday on Friday, August 21, 2009,
in observance of the Ninoy Aquino Day.

The special (non-working) day in honor of the Filipino hero had been
declared by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by virtue of Presidential
Proclamation No. 1699 she issued on December 24, 2008.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque advised the country's
employers in the private sector on the rules to be observed during the
special non-working day in honor of Ninoy Aquino, as follows:

a) If worked, the employee is entitled to 130% of his [or her] daily rate
for the first 8 hours, and to an additional 30% of his or her hourly rate on
the said day for work performed in excess of 8 hours;

b) If unworked, he or she is not entitled to any payment, unless there is a
favorable company policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement (CBA)
granting payment for special days even if not worked;

c) If worked and falling on the employee's rest day, the employee is
entitled for the first 8 hours to 150% of his or her regular daily rate, and
for work performed in excess of 8 hours, plus 30% of his or her hourly rate
on the said day.

Any clarifications regarding the pay rules may be made with the DOLE's
Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) at tel. no. 527-3000 local 301.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DPWH Says Infomercials Promote Transparency and Accountability

A top official of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) has justified the use of infomercials saying that they have to inform the public about the newly completed roads and bridges in the spirit of service and transparency.

"Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. wants us to be fully accountable to the people with regards to infrastructure projects undertaken with the use of taxpayers' money," said Jaime A. Pacanan, the DPWH Assistant Secretary for Support Services.

Pacanan, who represented Ebdane during the recent Senate hearing on infomercials, said "people should be well-informed in terms of our department's accomplishments so that they can fully realize and actually use the roads to progress."

The DPWH was one of the departments taken to task by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago for coming up with infomercials. The DPWH infomercials show Ebdane showcasing the DPWH accomplishments and how they are improving the lives of the people all over the country.

According to Pacanan, one of the reasons why the public has not been so appreciative of the DPWH's accomplishments was that, as engineers and architects, they have somehow taken for granted the need for them to drumbeat their accomplishments.

"Although we risk lives and limbs opening up roads in rebel- and terrorist-infested areas in far corners of the country, people have largely taken for granted our role in nation-building simply because we have been too timid in announcing our projects," said Pacanan, adding that this was also the reason that the DPWH has been falling behind in popularity surveys.

"This time, we want to tell people about our quality infrastructure projects and the difference these projects have made in their individual lives, their communities and the country as a whole. And to reach the people effectively, we have to make full use of the infomercials," Pacanan said.

Through Secretary Ebdane's marching orders to speed up the completion of projects, the DPWH has recently completed 38 out of the 154 State of the Nation Projects of President Macapagal Arroyo. The DPWH is rushing to complete 37 more projects by December 2009.

Pacanan argued: "How can people from the provinces, for instance, be aware that there is a more convenient way of going to other places if we would not inform them about the new or repaired roads through infomercials?"

Migrant NGO'S Statement on the Death of Welfare Attache Cabilao


"Trafficking in persons degrades the dignity of a human person and exploits the vulnerability of people.  …Trafficking in persons is becoming a menace, and is now a global phenomenon that affects not only the dignity of the person, but, also the reputation of the nation, whether it is a source or destination country."


Those were the words of Dir. Finardo G. Cabilao, defining trafficking with much objectivity but with pain, truth, compassion and care for the person and country.  And behind those words are the very reason that propels him to assists the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have been victimized by unscrupulous illegal recruiters and human traffickers.  And for his belief, he lost his life.  The authorities ruled out robbery as a motive for his death.  His untiring effort then, to assist victims of human trafficking remains suspect for the killing. 


Kanlungan Centre Foundation is a witness to Mr. Cabilao's tireless effort in extending assistance to OFWs.  He helped us in looking for missing and trafficked OFWs; he helped us in the repatriation of a number. He was in constant communication with us these past few weeks.  And for some months, he helped us locate and repatriate about 10 to 15 victims of trafficking.  He saves lives that the persons may continue to live in dignity.


And while it is true that, often, NGOs and the government are in a constant battle of ideas, Kanlungan found a friend and an ally in the person of Dir. Finardo Cabilao.  And we mourn for his loss.  And we can only attribute to him the words of K. Gibran.."protecting other rights is the noblest and most beautiful human act."  In life and in death, we commend the deeds of Dir. Finardo G. Cabilao as we call on the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia to resolve the case and let justice take its course.




The Officers and Staff


14 August 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

UP expert urges to develop GM coconut to top lauric acid content of canola oil




UP expert urges to develop GM coconut to top lauric acid content of canola oil


            Dr. Calixto M. Protacio of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB) has called for urgent research to regain the competitive advantage of coconut oil over canola oil, which was derived from rapeseed that was boosted by a gene from the California bay tree and another gene from coconut to raise its lauric acid content from virtually zero to 60 percent.


            Protacio, who belongs to UPLB's Crop Science Cluster, said coconut oil used to enjoy a monopoly of a segment in the oil and fats market, estimated at between 2 percent and 3 percent, that could not be substituted with cheaper oils.


            "Coconut oil is difficult to substitute with other vegetable oils because it is mainly composed of medium chain fatty acids, the most dominant of which is lauric acid, which occurs at 49% level. Lauric acid, a 12-carbon molecule without any double bonds (which makes it a saturated fatty acid), lends unique properties in the food, soap and cosmetic industry. It was also shown to have antiviral and anti-bacterial properties when used as virgin coconut oil. In the past, the only traditional competitor is palm kernel oil-which also contains roughly the same amount of lauric acid as coconut oil- but the volume is quite low to really pose a threat to coconut oil," he said.


            Palm kernel oil is derived from the meat of the oil palm seed. The main product of palm oil is derived from the husk or pericarp of the fruit which contain mainly palmitic acid (a 16- carbon long molecule), Protacio stressed.


            By the start of the current decade, transgenic canola oil that had a much higher 60 percent lauric acid content was introduced in the market and threatened to bring Philippine coconut oil on its knees. The US and Canada produce a huge volume of rapeseed.


            Protacio noted that a similar fate befell the sugar industry in the 1980s, when the US reduced its imports as American biotechnologists developed high fructose corn syrup.


            The UP professor said biotechnology did the trick for US rapeseed and US corn while Filipino policymakers and environmentalists and anti-GMO groups are still squabbling over the propriety of using GMOs.


            Briefly, said Protacio, rapeseed produced lauric acid through the introduction of the acyl-ACP thioesterase gene from the California bay tree which was overexpressed in the first line of canola. Next, US biotechnologists introduced the lysophosphatidic acid acyl transferase (LPAAT) gene from coconut in the second line of canola resulting in the 60 percent laurate content.


            Thus, coconut oil may now be substituted by the more available canola oil and this has posed a threat to the traditional market share of coconut oil in the world market..


            Protacio warned that to overcome the threat posed by GM canola, Filipino scientists should use the same biotechnological advances for GM canola in coconut, stressing that "it offers the fastest avenue for coconut improvement and makes it possible to target the gene(s) of interest."


            He added: "Currently, six genes involved in the biosynthesis of lauric acid in coconut have been characterized and cloned at UP Los Baños, including the thioesterase and LPAAT genes, all coming from coconut.  However, these genes are still as yet unutilized because a reliable regeneration protocol is still lacking. The transfer of genes (or transformation) can only be done in cells or simple tissues after which the transformed cells have to be regenerated into a whole new palm for the improved characters to be manifested."


            Elaborating on his lament, Protacio said "The six cloned genes for increasing the lauric acid content of coconut are languishing in a -80o C freezer. They have not been introduced into any coconut cell culture to produce a transgenic coconut cell line. Although a reproducible cell regeneration system is still lacking in coconut, some success in tissue culture research have been achieved over the years at the Albay Research Center of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). Around 19 coconut palms derived from cell tissue culture from several experiments have been produced which are now growing in the field. However, the tissue culture method is not yet consistently reproducible. In contrast, tissue culture of palm oil has already been in existence since the 80s in Malaysia , and a transgenic oil palm has already been reported." (biolife news service)

PopDev Media Awards deadline draws near

The Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) reminds everyone of the approaching deadline for the submission of entries to the 5th PopDev Media Awards.

The contest is open to all print, broadcast, online, photo, and citizen journalists nationwide. Entries must deal with population and human development issues such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), public health (especially reproductive health), reproductive health policy and governance, economic growth and poverty, climate change, housing and urban development, sustainable development, environment, education, gender, maternal health, adolescent reproductive health, family planning, food security, reproductive rights, migration, and population ageing.

For the Print and Online Category, awards will be given for Best News Reportage (should consist of a body of work or a series of at least three spot news reports); Best Opinion or Editorial Piece; Best Investigative Report, and Best Feature or Magazine Article.

For Television, awards will be given for Best TV Documentary and Best Magazine Program or Talk Show.

For Radio, awards will be given for Best Radio Program. Entries to this could be news, commentary (should consist of a series of at least three separate news reports or commentaries) or a special production of media agencies.

For the Photojournalism category, awards will be given for Best Single Photo and Best Photo Essay.

Citations will also be given for blog (text) and photo blogs (single photo and photo essay) in recognition of the significant contribution of citizen journalists in the informed discussion of population and human development issues. Entries from professional journalists may be considered as long as these were posted in their personal blogs.

Entries should have been published, aired, or posted between August 16, 2008 and August 15, 2009 in a publication or network that has been in existence for at least one year, or in a blog site that has been created at least since January 1, 2008. Deadline for submission of entries is on August 31, 2009. Please submit your entries to and indicate "Entry to the PopDev Media Awards" on the subject line.

Interested parties may send as many entries in a chosen category. Winners will receive a cash prize, trophy, certificate, and a chance to go into a study trip to a PLCPD project area in the Philippines.

For more information, interested parties may contact PLCPD at (02) 9251800 or (02) 4362373 or visit

The PopDev Media Awards is made possible with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Commission on Population (PopCom), Employers' Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare (PNGOC), Forum for Family Planning and Development (FORUM), Philippine Center for Population and Development (PCPD), Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), Women's Feature Service (WFS), and Philippine Center for Photojournalism (PCP).

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Official Development Assistance (ODA) disbursements significantly rose in the first semester of 2009, according to the First Semester CY 2009 ODA

Loan Performance Report. The disbursement level grew to US$826.59 million, increasing by 96 percent compared to the same period last year. As of the
first semester of 2009, total cumulative ODA loans amounted to US$8.07 billion, financing 91 loans.

"The significant increase in disbursements was largely attributed to the single tranche release of two program loans of US$150 million (Governance in Justice Sector Reform Program, Subprogram II) and US$ 200 million (The Global Food Crisis Response Program Development Policy Operations) funded
by ADB and WB, respectively," the report said.

The disbursement level is the actual amount of disbursements from all ODA loans.

There was a general increase in all major financial indicators of ODA absorptive capacity. The disbursement rate, which is the percentage of actual disbursements over target disbursement, increased to 86 percent in the first six months of 2009 from 80 percent during the same period last year. On the other hand, the percentage of cumulative actual disbursements over scheduled disbursements, or the availment rate, rose to 81 percent in the first half of 2009 from 74 percent in the same period in 2008.

The disbursement ratio also rose to 17 percent as of the first semester of 2009 from 13 percent in the same period last year. The disbursement ratio is the share of actual disbursement to the net loan amount available during the year.

However, 31 program and project loans had disbursement rates below 50 percent due to procurement-related and financial processing issues and other issues such as right-of-way.

The biggest donor of ODA is the Government of Japan-Japan International Cooperation Agency (GOJ-JICA), having a share of 38 percent of total ODA Commitments. JICA is followed by the World Bank (18%), the Asian Development Bank (15%), and China (12%). All other donors comprise 17 percent of total ODA.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Identify brutally killed woman in video gov’t urged



The biggest global alliance of OFWs calls on the Arroyo administration to immediately determine if the woman being stoned to death in a video clip is not a Filipina OFW.


"The video was very disturbing. If the said woman in the video is a Filipina, then the Philippine Embassy in Jordan should act accordingly and immediately conduct an investigation as to why the incident had happened," says Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.


The video of the said incident was uploaded last June 25, 2009 in entitled "Pinay sa Jordan (Brutally killed)". A certain hotjc2009 uploaded the video, with no indication of a real name in the website and his profile only describes him as a 28 year old and his location is in Bahrain.


Responding from a comment in Tagalog, hotjc2009 admitted that he himself doesn't know who the said woman is in the video and that the said clip was only forwarded to him by a friend who told him that the incident happened in Jordan.


"No one can simply dismiss the brutality shown in the video. Only a heartless government official will have the stomach to ignore the seriousness of the said incident," said Marinez.


The video started by showing Filipino subtitles warning OFWs not to commit infidelity in Middle East region. Then it showed a mob kicking furiously a woman whose face is already covered with blood. The clip ended by showing a man smashing the head of the woman by a stone block.


The group challenges the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Labor and Employment to call on their staff posted abroad to confirmed the veracity of the said incident and whether a Pinay OFW was really involved.


"We would like to call the attention of our kababayans abroad to please provide informations that will help in confirming the authenticity of the video. Migrante will be the first one to feel relieved if the said woman is indeed not a Filipina," Garry concluded.


Martinez said that anyone who can give information about the incident may contact through the office landline at 421-0768.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Good afternoon to all of you,ladies and gentlemen. More than a month ago, I tendered my official resignationas Director General of NEDA to the President to take effect on the closinghours of August 16. That resignation has been accepted by the President.


I told the President in myresignation letter elective political opportunities lie on the horizon andafter much thought and discernment, I have decided to explore these but outsidethe podium and canopy that my present office provides. When I first ran thisline by some senior staff, they said that mere exploration of some politicaloptions is no ground for resignation. Actually, they are right because a dreamfor a public office is not punishable by law. And even if one starts preparingto run for office, civil service rules do not require him to give up hiscurrent post. The practice, then and now, is one can run an office and for anoffice at the same time.


But that may be possible in otheroffices, but not in NEDA, I believe. In my letter of resignation to thePresident, I thanked her for giving me the opportunity to serve the countrythrough a great agency whose admirable staff responded ably to the challengesof the times. Indeed, I could not have asked for a more professional andproficient staff than the ones who have warmly welcomed me here and, in myheart, I know that I will be dishonoring their dedication in public service ifI will be preoccupied with other matters other than leading them in their work.Heading the NEDA is a fulltime work. It does not need a leader who is a jobapplicant in disguise. Thus, I will be demeaning the people I have worked withand debasing their work ethic if I report to work with other things in mind.


I know that my resignation violates all the rules inthe playbook of political campaigns. It will automatically deprive me of thesoap box which will make me visible and the bullhorn which will allow me to beheard. Politicians are also supposed to run into the spotlight and here I amdoing the opposite by running away from it, by resigning. To retain mycredentials as a Nedan, I must step aside and give way to a new DG who willdedicate his every waking hour to the task at hand and not be distracted by anoffice yet to be won, thus my resignation.