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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

OFW and their families go on early Christmas caroling; asks Supreme Court to expedite ruling on party-list representation



As the battle for party-list representation of millions of Overseas Filipino Workers shift to the courts, member of Migrante today delivered Christmas carols on the doorstep of the Supreme Court to ask for the immediate issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on COMELEC's decision to de-list the party-list group from the 2010 elections.


"We remain optimistic that the Supreme Court will put an end to the COMELEC's mocking of the Party-list System Act. We believe that the court will grant the Christmas wish of our 'modern-day heroes,' which is to be given the chance to gain representation in Congress," said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Party-list chairperson.


Members of the group sang "Sa Supreme Court" to the tune of "Sa May Bahay," with the lyrics: "Sa Supreme Court ang aming bati/ Merry Christmas na maluwalhati/ Ang hustisya nawa'y maghari/ Para ang Migrante'y makatakbo muli." They also sang "Comelec" to the tune of "Jingle Bells," with the lyrics: "Comelec, Comelec  bakit dinelist/ Sa mga tatakbo, Migrante Party-list?/ Hey, Comelec, Comelec bakit nagpasulsol/ Sa dikta ng Palasyo at sa among ulol?"


In its petition for a TRO filed last November 20, Migrante said that the Comelec's de-listing did not follow due process as stated in Section 6 of the Party-list System Act, and that the reason used by Comelec for de-listing Migrante was not among the grounds enumerated under the said law.


"If the Supreme Court can abandon the first-party rule in order to ensure that marginalized sectors earn well-deserved seats in Congress, surely it can trash a Comelec ruling that is clearly illegal, baseless, and politically-motivated against known critics of the government," Regalado added.


The group said that the Supreme Court must release its decision before the December 1 deadline of the filing of party-lists' manifestations of their intent to run.


"The court should consider the TRO as a Christmas gift not only to OFWs, but to Philippine democracy that is under attack by the Comelec's obvious move to block the participation of progressive party-lists from the 2010 elections," said Regalado.


The migrant leader reiterated that OFWs from Migrante chapters abroad will continue to conduct protests should the government continue to deny them the chance for representation. ###






Mga OFW at pamilya nag-caroling sa

Supreme Court para hingin ang TRO sa pagkaka-delist ng Migrante


Ngayong ang laban para sa representasyon sa party-list ng milyon-milyong mga OFW ay nasa korte na, nag-caroling ang Migrante sa Supreme Court para hingiin ang mabilis na paglalabas ng Temporary Restraining Order  sa desisyon ng Comelec na i-delist sila sa listahan ng mga party-list na makakatakbo sa eleksyon sa 2010.


"Umaasa kami na wawakasan ng Supreme Court ang pambabalasubas ng Comelec sa Party-list System Act. Naniniwala kami na pagbibigyan ng mataas na korte ang kagustuhan ng mga 'bagong bayani' na magkaroon ng representasyon sa Kongreso," sabi ni Connie Bragas-Regalado, tagapangulo ng Migrante Sectoral Party.


Inawit ng mga kasapi ng Migrante ang "Sa Supre Court" sa tono ng "Sa May Bahay," na may lirikong: "Sa Supreme Court ang aming bati/ Merry Christmas na maluwalhati/ Ang hustisya nawa'y maghari/ Para ang Migrante'y makatakbo muli." Inawit rin nila ang  "Comelec" sa tono ng "Jingle Bells," na nagsasabing: "Comelec, Comelec  bakit dinelist/ Sa mga tatakbo, Migrante Party-list?/ Hey, Comelec, Comelec bakit nagpasulsol/ Sa dikta ng Palasyo at sa among ulol?"


Sa kanilang isinumiteng petisyon para sa TRO noong Nobyembre 20, sinabi ng Migrante na ang pagdedelist ng Comelec ay hindi sumusunod sa "due process" na nakasaad sa Section 6 ng Party-list System Act, at ang batayang ginamit ng Comelec para tanggalin ang Migrante ay hindi nasusulat sa nabanggit na batas.


"Kung nabasura noon ng Supreme Court ang 'first-party rule' para tiyaking ang mga sektor na marginalized ay makakuha ng representasyon sa Kongreso, tiyak na kakayanin rin nitong ibasura ang isang desisyon ng Comelec na malinaw na iligal, walang basehan, at may motibasyong pulitkal laban sa mga grupong kritikal sa administrasyong Arroyo," sabi ni Regalado.


Sinabi ng grupo na kinakailangang ilabas ng Supreme Court ang kanilang desisyon bago ang Disyembre 1, ang huling araw para sa pagpasa ng mga party-lists ng manipestasyon sa paglahok sa eleksyon.


"Ang TRO mula sa korte ay nararapat na pamasko hindi lamang sa mga OFW kundi sa demokrasya ng Pilipinas na ngayon ay inaatake ng Comelec sa pamamagitan ng panggigipit nito sa mga progresibong paryt-list tulad ng Migrante,"ani Regalado.


Sabi pa ni Regalado na handa ang mga OFWs, mula sa 23 balangay nitong nakakalat sa buong mundo, na magtuloy-tuloy ng protesta kapag tinuluyan ng pamahalaan ang hindi pagbibigay ng pagkakataon sa mga migrante na magkaroon ng representasyon. ###






Sa Supreme Court
(sa tono ng Sa may Bahay)

Sa Supreme Court an gaming bati
Merry Christmas na maluwalhati
Ang hustisya nawa'y maghari
Para ang Migrante'y makatakbo muli

Ang sanhi po ng pagparito
Hihingi po ng T-R-O
Kung sakaling kami'y perwisyo
Pasensya na kayo, tuso po si Melo

Ang wish ko ay T-R-O (3x)
Migrante'y makatakbo


Comelec (sa tono ng Jingle Bells)


Comelec,  comelec  bakit dinelist

Sa mga tatakbo, migrante partylist?

Hey, comelec,  comelec bakit nagpasulsol

Sa dikta ng palasyo at sa sa among  ulol?



Melong pulitika sa pagkakadelist ng aming partylist

Dahil Migrante ang lumalabang tunay

Sa pagpapabaya ng gubyerno sa OFW



 Mahal na Supreme Court sanay inyong dinggin

Ang TRong hiling sanay bigyang pansin

Upang makatakbo at mabigyang tinig

Ang OFW't pamilya nya dun sa konggreso


Hustisya hustisya sa OFW

Supreme Court , supreme court

Maglabas ng TRO


Migrante chapters, Muslims members in the Middle East condemn horrible massacre of civilians, women, lawyers, and journalists; will hold indoor interfaith prayer for the victims



Migrante chapters, Muslims members in the Middle East condemn horrible massacre of civilians, women, lawyers, and journalists; will hold indoor interfaith prayer for the victims

Chapters and member-organizations of Migrante in the Middle East along with its Muslim members today strongly denounce the barbaric massacre of civilians, women, lawyers, and journalists in Maguindano the other day, and join the calls of providing swift justice to the victims by putting behind bars the perpetrators and mastermind of the most horrible crime this year.


"It is really a sad moment for our fellow OFW-Muslim brothers and sisters that during Eid Al-adha this horrible crime had happened, worst as those involved were from two warring Muslims clans in Maguindanao," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said Muslim members of Migrante in the Middle East conveyed to him how they felt hearing the horrible news from Maguindanao.


Binang Jiliano, a Muslim welfare case officer of the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangang (KGS), an affiliate of Migrante in Riyadh, said along with his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, he condemned the massacre and urges the Arroyo government to provide swift justice to all the victims.


"Muslim brotherhood, faith and unity should not be destroyed by one's thirst for power and political ambitions," Jiliano added.


Jiliano conveyed to his fellow Muslims not to allow themselves to be controlled by the present administration's political machinations dividing Muslims using one against the other in order to easily rule them. 


Monterona said KGS and Migrante along with its Muslim members will lead an indoor interfaith prayer for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre on November 27, a Friday, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and at the same time express their strong condemnation to the brutal killings of innocent civilians, women, lawyers, and journalists.


"Migrante-Middle East, Muslim OFWs and their families joins the Filipino people in demanding from the Arroyo government swift action to put behind bars the masterminds and perpetrators of this gruesome massacre though the alleged culprits are her political patrons in Maguindanao; the Arroyo govt. must put an end to the prevailing culture of imputy which flourished under her regime as numerous cases of political killings and disappearances in the country have been recorded," Monterona ended.

PRESS STATEMENT: Justice for the Victims of Maguindanao Massacre!



Migrante Sectoral Party extends its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the recent massacre in Maguindanao. Overseas Filipino Workers all over the world and their families are one with all peace-loving Filipinos in seeking justice for the victims and in calling for an end to these kinds of atrocities.


The brazenness and brutality with which the Maguindanao massacre was carried out underscores the fact that the perpetrators, the Ampatuan clan allied with the Arroyo administration, are unafraid that justice will catch up with them. This comes as no surprise.


Let us be reminded that the Arroyo administration holds the record of having the largest number of political killings and harassment, almost all the perpetrators of which have gone unpunished. President Arroyo's personal hand in crafting the vicious counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya has led to indiscriminate bombings and summary executions of civilians by the military in the countryside. In warlord strongholds such as Maguindanao, the military and police authorities are inutile in protecting the citizens and are even being used as accessories to crime. Thus, we believe that Arroyo herself is responsible for perpetuating the prevailing culture of violence and impunity, of which the Maguindanao massacre is the latest and most deeply shocking consequence.


This massacre is a wake-up call for all OFWs worldwide—it is a reminder of the economic backwardness and political violence that characterizes provinces such as Maguindanao, which they have left behind for lack of better options. Many OFWs are refugees from the ongoing war in Mindanao, fuelled by militarization and administration-backed warlordism. We are concerned that incidents such as the Maguindanao massacre will make refugees, and eventually migrant workers, out of residents gripped by overwhelming fear. Filipinos deserve a life of peace and opportunities in their own homes, a life that so far has been denied them as evidenced by ever-increasing overseas deployment.


For the Arroyo administration to prove that democracy still works and that citizens can still look forward to the dispensation of justice in the country, it must make the Ampatuan clan and local and police and military officials face the full wrath of the law. The whole OFW community is watching very closely and will erupt in protest over any indication of whitewash of the investigation or kid gloves treatment of the perpetrators. 


Migrante is one with the Filipino people in grieving the deaths of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and the slow death of the nation through fascistic rule.###

'Comelec, repressing the rights of marginalized sectors'

With four days left before the start of the period of filing of
manifestations of intent to participate in the 2010 party-list
elections, a sectoral party of overseas Filipinos and their families
has castigated the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for its
"conscious effort to marginalize the already marginalized sectors in
our society."

"There seems to be a conscious and orchestrated effort from the ruling
regime - through the COMELEC - to deny genuine organizations such as
Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP), their right for representation in
Congress," said Connie Bragas-Regalado, MSP Chairperson.

Regalado noted that the COMELEC appears to be more concerned in
keeping the 2010 ballot as short as possible rather than its duty to
empower marginalized sectors through the Partylist law. "One need only
read their unfounded, downright illegal and outrageous resolutions
lately to realize how the COMELEC is so bent on turning away as many
organizations as it can for the 2010 elections. And, quite
unsurprisingly, those who are highly critical of the regime such as
Migrante was the first ones to get the boot from the COMELEC," she

Recently, the COMELEC has removed Migrante from the list of qualified
contenders for the 2010 partylist elections. The move from the poll
body was widely criticized by Migrante as well as various OFW groups
worldwide saying that the COMELEC denied the group their day in court.
"The gravity of this COMELEC decision delisting Migrante can not be
over emphasized," said Regalado.

"Not only did the COMELEC denied Migrante its right to due process; it
has, in essence, deprived the over ten million overseas Filipinos and
their families of their much deserved right to genuine sectoral
representation," she said.

Regalado said her group is gearing up to challenge the COMELEC ruling
by elevating their case to the Supreme Court. Protest actions against
Migrante's deletion are also heating up inside and outside the

Just last week, the COMELEC stirred up a hornets nest for throwing out
the petition for accreditation of gay group, Ang Ladlad Partylist.
Citing verses from the Bible and the Koran, the COMELEC said Ang
Ladlad's "petition must fail" because the group is allegedly
"advocating immoral doctrines" and in order to "protect the youth from
moral and spiritual degradation."

The COMELEC also denied Samahang Magdalo's petition for accreditation
as Political Party saying that their leaders and members remain
"unrepentant" and still "harbor the propensity to engage in another
illegal adventure" similar to the so-called Oakwood mutiny.###

Photo release: Mangyan on hunger strike against mining gets support from indigenous groups


November 25,2009 MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Indigenous groups from the Luzon region representing tribes from the Ifugaos, Aetas, Remontados, Agta and Dumagats show their support to Mangyan tribal leader Librada "Badang" Isidro during the Ninth (9th) day of the Mindoro Hunger Strike (MHS) camped in front of the the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR). The MHS strongly opposes the Mindoro Nickel Project owned by Norwegian company INTEX Resources. Photo by Roslyn Arayata



The Philippine Ports Authority and the Manila North Harbour Port Inc. (a joint venture of Metro Pacific
Investments Corp. and Harbour Centre Port Terminal Incorporated) sign the P14.5 billion, 25 – year
contract to modernize the Manila North Harbor to include its development, management, operation
and maintenance. Photo shows, (L-R), Reghis M. Romero III; Leopoldo Bungubung, PPA Assistant
General Manager for Operation;  Atty. Oscar M. Sevilla, PPA General Manager; Michael L. Romero
Harbour Centre President & CEO and Jose Ma. K. Lim, Financial Officer/Treasurer sign the North
Harbor modernization contract.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Philippines: Fiscal outlook revisited


- Deterioration in Philippines fiscal situation attracting attention

The success of Filipino champion boxer Manny Pacquiao in the ring has
led some commentators to draw a stark contrast with the state of
National Government (NG) finances. In particular a FT Lex column on 20
November highlighted that:

1) The Philippines fiscal position has suffered recently.
2) This has put strain on Philippine government local currency funding
efforts. On 17 November, the government failed to sell local currency
bonds for the third time this quarter.
3) Overseas investors can't be relied on to substitute for local
investor demand.
4) Despite this Philippine sovereign bond yields have been behaving
themselves for now, but all eyes will be on the success of sovereign
issuance early next year.

- Potential trend deterioration in revenue growth is a concern

In the Southeast Asian focus published on 2 October we put the
deterioration of the Philippine National Government finances in context.
There is no question that the Philippines fiscal situation has
deteriorated - with the weakness of the revenue line is a particular
cause for concern (Chart 1). However, we take a relatively benign view
on the grounds that some of the deterioration in revenue is cyclical.
Moreover, the resulting deficit is now more easily sustained as the
Philippines enjoys a combination of reasonable real and nominal GDP
growth prospects, plus (in contrast to the period before 2003) an
underutilised pool of domestic savings.

- Near term funding fears are overdone

This does not mean there will not be a bit of push and pull over the
price of domestic government debt - the Philippines domestic financial
markets are not deep. But we think the reliance on overseas investors is
overstated by the Lex article.

Importantly, the Philippines enjoys a current account surplus, and thus
excess savings, supported by surprisingly strong remittances. Properly
intermediated, these savings flows should easily fund the government's
deficit domestically. But in the likely event of poor intermediation,
the associated flows of foreign currency have, and should continue to,
provide 'local demand' for foreign currency debt issued by the
government. The remittance flow driven local and foreign currency
savings pool reduces reliance on foreign funding and helps explain why
Philippine domestic and sovereign yields have been behaving themselves
(Charts 4 and 5).

- Revenue risks

Now, there is danger that government revenues - the perennial bugbear of
Philippine finances - do not recover with a pickup in the economic
activity. If so, the incoming administration after the May 2010
elections will have to quickly make some tough decisions. But for now,
assuming a cyclical recovery in revenues, we are relatively sanguine
from a Philippine deficit funding perspective

Please see Southeast Asia Focus: Sustainable growth and fiscal policy;
Ed Teather; 2 October 2009 for a more detailed look at Philippines
National Government fiscal sustainability.

Chart 1: NG fiscal balance has deteriorated as expenditure rose and
revenues fell.
Source: UBS, Haver, CEIC

Chart 2: Philippine fiscal balance has deteriorated - but is not clearly
out of line with developments elsewhere in EM
Source: UBS, Haver, CEIC

Chart 3: The deterioration in Philippines revenues is probably partly
cyclical (as with the weakness elsewhere).
Source: UBS, Haver, CEIC

Chart 4: In any case, unlike in the early 2000s and 1990s, the
Philippines now has savings available in excess of those required to
fund investment.
Source: UBS, Haver, CEIC

Chart 5: Excess savings put downward pressure on interest rates and
makes financing the deficit a lot easier by reducing reliance on foreign
Source: UBS, Haver, CEIC

To get the full paper, please leave comment.



MANILA, PHILIPPINES –Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group and a people's movement composed of more than eighty (80) organizations from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide, is dismayed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) response to the Mindoreños hunger strike, which is clamoring for the revocation of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued to a Norwegian company – Intex Resources' Mindoro Nickel Project.

Yesterday, DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza signed a suspension order on the Intex ECC after the dialogue with the Mindoro contigent composed of the chief executives and local officials of Mindoro, Mangyan tribal leaders, civil society representatives and with the presence of Bishops Broderick Pabillo and Warlito Cajandig held during the second day of the hunger strike.

"The Mindoreños had a dialogue with Secretary Atienza in good faith but upon closer inspection of the signed order, the Mindoreños felt dissatisfied by Secretary Atienza's response, which merely gave a 90-day suspension to the ECC and failed to reflect accurately the address the issues and agreements during the dialogue such as the call of Mindoro local officials to respect Oriental Mindoro's 25-year mining moratorium ordinance issued in 2002 prohibiting the entry of all large-scale mining in the province and the presented local resolutions opposing the mining project ," said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera, belonging to support groups of the Mindoreños.

Yesterday, the Mindoreños have also acquired a copy of the letter issued by Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee (EIARC) that recommended an ECC denial on the Mindoro Nickel Project.  With the series of dissappointments from the DENR's actions the Mindoro Hunger Strike being staged in front of the DENR will continue.

"We, in ATM, is dismayed by Secretary Atienza's obvious bias on Intex Resources over the interest of the people of Mindoro when he ordered a suspension instead of a revocation of the Intex ECC. Despite the lack of social acceptability of the mining project and the EAIRC's recommended denial of the ECC, Secretary Atienza still signed Intex ECC!", exclaimed Garganera.

"Secretary Atienza, should be held accountable to this continued tense situation, ATM will continue to provide utmost support to the decision of the Mindoreños to continue with their battle against the unjust actions of the DENR and Intex Resources" concluded Garganera.

The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an advocacy group and a people's movement that upholds the rights of the present and future Filipinos against the persisting injustices related to mining. ATM is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and PhilDHRRA.

From ‘goats’ to riches: Hardwork, self-help tricks in farm integration




A success story on productivity


Born a farmer's son, it is but natural for Benjamin R. Lao to be keen on farming.


"My first love is farming," said Benjamin, owner of the Lao Integrated Farms, one of the 10 winners in the 2009  Productivity Olympics.  Lao was named Best in Productivity Improvement Program in the Agribusiness Sector for using the formula of integration, research, and a lot of hard work. 


Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D.  Roque   said Lao Integrated Farms was cited for implementing the best agricultural practices that made them highly productive and profitable despite the economic slump. Lao Integrated

Farms also ventured on the production of coco sugar which is a budding industry in the agri-business sector.


Benjamin  Lao owns about 40 hectares of land, parts of which were   inherited from his parents. To transform the barren land into an agricultural haven, he  started reading agricultural magazines and other publications.  He also attended trainings conducted by government agencies like Department of Agriculture, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Department of Science and Technology to learn the basics of farming.


With basic agricultural   knowledge he gained from various trainings and from reading agricultural magazines, he adopted the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), a soil conservation technique. He planted his land with various nitrogen-fixing hedgerows like Flemingia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, and Indigofera anil, which are good sources of fertilizer being legumes.  Later on, he planted them all over his farm.


Since Lao wanted to practice the principle of organic farming, he thought of adding goats.  He planted all vacant space of the agricultural land and ensured that everything was productive, which is why it is called an integrated farm.


Today, he uses the hedgerows as additional feed for his goats.  He  started with only seven goats and the manure was used as organic fertilizer.  But, he found out there was money in goats, so he opted to increase the number.  Today, he has about 170 goats in his farm. The milk he gets from the goats  was used as ingredient for their homemade Donna Belle durian ice cream. 


Lao is also raising pigs in his farm – about 32 heads.   When he inherited the five-hectare farm, there were already coconut trees growing.  After every three months thereafter, he harvested 400-600 nuts.   And when he planted the nitrogen-fixing legumes, the coconut yield markedly increased to 15,000 nuts per quarter.


To meet the   demand  of the increasing number of customers particularly in Metro Manila, Benjamin adopted  several Productivity Improvement Program (PIP) strategies including  faithful compliance  with Good Agricultural  Practices (GAP) and adherence with  Good Manufacturing  Practices (GMP).  Because of these strategies, the sales of Lao Integrated Farm increased by 50%


"My success highly depends on the cooperation within my family members and my workers.  So I give them the best as  well as  benefits due them.  I always give them training capacity building.  So even though I am political science graduate, I was able to start and maintain this kind of business," said Benjamin.


Lao Integrated Farms was first introduced to the ISTIV (Industrious, Systematic, and Time-conscious Innovative and Value for work) productivity improvement program through the National Wages Productivity Commission and the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board XI.


"The training helped our workers a lot especially in   enhancing working relationships among workers and management," Benjamin explained.


He added that through the NWPC's ISTIV productivity improvement program,  the workers became more industrious   especially when the land was transferred to them and became their own.


"Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the products of the farm is for the income of individual members while only 7% was retained for management or administrative maintenance," Benjamin enthused.  "In the last three years, we have been able to increase our buyers because we have established good image and goodwill with everybody."


Lao  Integrated Farms  and the other Productivity  Olympics awardees   proved that  investments  in productivity programs   can lead to increased profits  and greater competitiveness.

Sec. Roque urged   local  firms  to invest  in  improving their efficiency and production  by enrolling in DOLE productivity programs such as the ISTIV PIP as this will enable  them to compete  and take advantage of the projected  global economic rebound in 2010.


This year's Productivity Olympics winners are:


 Agribusiness  Category :   Lao  Integrated  Farm  (Davao  del  Sur,  Region  XI)  and  Sultan  Kudarat  Muscovado  Farmers  Millers  Corp (Sultan Kudarat, Region XII)  for  Small  enterprises  and AMS  Employees  Fresh Fruitys  Producers  Cooperative  (Davao del Norte,  Region XI)  for   Medium  Enterprises.


Service Category:  New  Prestoza  Machine Works  (La  Union,  Region XI)  for Micro  Enterprises,   Gubat  St.  Anthony  Cooperative  (Sorsogon,  Region V)  for   Small Enterprises,  and  De Vera's  Medical  Center (Isabela,  Region II)  for  Medium  Enterprises)


Industry  Category:  Carlo's  Bamboocraft  and  Furnishing  (Abra,  Car)  and Maruth  Footwear  (Laguna,  Region IV-A)  for   Micro  Enterprises,   Wellmade  Motors  and Development Corp.  (Mandaue, Region VII)  for  Small  Enterprises and Vjandep Bakeshop (Cagayan de Oro,  Region X)  for  Medium Enterprises. 


Sunday, November 22, 2009

With growing number of disqualified progressive party-lists: Migrante denounces Comelec as a tool for political repression, asks Supreme Court to act quickly


Migrante Party-list today declared that it would join ACT and Courage Party-lists in fighting against the Commission on Elections' apparent move to block the participation of progressive party-lists in the 2010 elections, saying that the poll body had exposed itself as a tool for political repression and electoral fraud.


"First, it denied representation to millions of Overseas Filipino Workers. Now it has denied representation as well to hundreds of thousands of teachers and government employees. Comelec chairman Jose Melo and the other commissioners must be dismissed and held accountable for their bastardization of the Party-list System.


"The Filipino people cannot trust the Comelec to hold clean and honest elections, when it has already shown an obvious bias against party-list groups known to be critical of the administration," said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Party-list chairperson.


According to Regalado, the poll body has resorted to twisting the law and outright lying in order to justify the de-listing of Migrante and disqualification of ACT and Courage.

"For instance, it carried out a verification of Courage chapters but came out with an incorrect report that failed to recognize existing chapters and attributed to them non-existing ones. In Migrante's case, it equated non-participation in the elections to failure to obtain 2% of total party-list votes.


On the other hand, did the Comelec ever prove the constituency of administration-backed party-list groups such as Jovito Palparan's Bantay and Lourdes Arroyo's Ang Kasangga? Until now, it is not even clear what marginalized sector they represent," she said.


The migrant leader is confident that "the Comelec's flawed decisions will not fool the Supreme Court," but expressed concern over the nearing December 1 deadline for filing of manifestations of intent to run.


"It is imperative that the court act quickly on the matter. Will it allow the fate of marginalized OFWs, teachers, and government employees to rest on a handful of politically motivated commissioners? Will it allow the Party-list System to be fully bastardized?" she added.


Migrante last November 20 asked the Supreme Court for a Temporary Restraining Order on their de-listing, while ACT and Courage are set to file their petitions to the high court next week.

SSS benefit payments hit P959-M in Central Visayas

CEBU CITY – The Social Security System (SSS) payments for benefit claims in the Central Visayas region totaled P959.99 million from January to September, which was seven percent more compared with the same period last year, a top official said.


SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Romulo Neri said payments for retirement and maternity claims, which made up 53 percent of total disbursements, posted double-digit increases during the nine-month period.


"Retirement benefits, which made up 29 percent of the total, increased by 12 percent to P280.82 million from P250.69 million for the first nine months last year. Maternity claims rose by 10 percent, amounting to P230.40 million," he said.


Neri and other senior SSS officials were in Cebu City for the inauguration of the pension fund's new three-story building along Osmena Boulevard on November 17. SSS personnel would move in on December 8, in time for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.


The glass and aluminum-clod building, which lies at the former site of the SSS Cebu Regional Office, provides better facilities for more than two million SSS members and over 85,000 employers in the Central Visayas region.


Neri said disbursements for disability claims totaled P34.26 million and sickness benefits reached P96.78 million, while death benefits and funeral grants totaled P317.73 million.


SSS provides benefits for sickness, disability, maternity, retirement and death under the regular Social Security program and the Employees' Compensation program, which grants additional benefits for work-related contingencies.


SSS Cebu City branch exceeds target, collects P1.64B


CEBU CITY – Contribution collections of the Social Security System's (SSS) Cebu City branch totaled P1.64 billion from January to September 2009, surpassing its nine-month target by more than P21 million, a top official said.


SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Romulo Neri said the amount was P81.21 million or 5 percent more than the branch's P1.56 billion collection during the same period last year.


"The increase in collections at the SSS Cebu City branch made up nearly half of the P3.56 billion contribution payments from Central Visayas for the first three quarters of the year," he said.


Neri and other top SSS officials attended the inauguration of the new SSS building along Osmena Boulevard on November 17. SSS Cebu City is among the pension fund's 15 branches under the SSS Central Visayas Cluster.


The new building houses the SSS Cebu City branch and its Central Visayas Cluster Office, which supervises the agency's operations in the provinces of Cebu, Samar, Bohol and Leyte.


"We expect collections not only in Cebu City, but also for the entire Central Visayas region, to increase in the coming years, especially now that we are inaugurating a bigger SSS building in Cebu," Neri said. "Providing members better SSS facilities encourages them to avail of our services and to remit contributions regularly."


SSS Cebu City, which is one of the eight SSS branches in Central Visayas that accept over-the-counter payments, collected a total of P1.14 billion through its branch tellers from January to September 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Domingo Asks DPWH to Use Coconut Technology To Prevent Landslides and Boost Economic Activity


The DPWH is going green as it moves to strengthen and repair sloppy areas hit by massive landslides caused by recent destructive typhoons which destroyed billions worth of roads and bridges in Metro Manila and many areas of Luzon.


In a recent meeting with officials of the Department of Public Works and
Highways (DPWH), Acting Public Works Secretary Victor Domingo has advocated the use of cocofiber nets (coconets) for soil and slope protection, river; and shoreline rehabilitation to prevent soil erosion brought by the typhoons.


"The department will again be hitting two birds with one stone by using a cheaper
bioengineering technology to prevent soil erosion and promote economic activities as well," Domingo said.


The Philippines is the world's largest producer of coconuts, with 67 percent of the country's farmlands planted with coconuts.


"Using cocofiber nets is an effective technology to solve serious erosion
problems and maintain the integrity of infrastructure projects, such as roads and bridges. The typhoons may have passed, but it does not mean they will not return. So we must strengthen the sloppy areas now while the sun is up," Domingo said.


According to Domingo, coconets can reinforce silt, soil, debris and decrease
the velocity of water. It can also be used in retaining walls of roads and bridges by using geotextiles, which are made from coconut fibers.


"We will need more budget now that we are constructing bridge expansions and
repairing damaged infrastructures because of landslides. That's the reason behind why we are promoting the use of coconets because it is cheaper than imported synthetic materials that are commonly used in construction and repair works," Domingo said.


 The DPWH secretary said that his green advocacy is in line with President
Macapagal-Arroyo's call for the government not only to develop and use local
resources, but also to spark progress in the countryside.


 "Just imagine how many jobs more we can create among those hit by the floods with this
eco-friendly initiative," said Domingo, who earlier vowed to be practical and wise
in spending government's resources.


According to a study conducted by CocoTech, a local private enterprise produces
geo-textiles from waste coconut husks; the country's mountainous topography makes
soil erosion a regular problem in the Philippines.

                The study said half of the country's area is considered upland or slopes of more than 18 degrees, making them vulnerable to strong tropical typhoons and floods.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI), a consortium of 60 nongovernment
organizations globally recognized as one of the best practices in budget
advocacy, urged Senators and heads of Senate offices to adopt the
alternative budget proposals for health, education, environment and
agriculture so that rehabilitation and reconstruction in the wake of
destructive typhoons can be accelerated.

During the ABI Forum held today (November 18) at the Philippine Senate,
former national treasurer Leonor Magtolis Briones, lead convenor of Social
Watch Philippines (SWP) which organized the ABI, said that there is a need
to increase allocations for critical socioeconomic programs as the
proposed 2010 expenditure program is a 'maintenance' budget and not
designed to lay the groundwork for recovery and a full-scale revving up of
the economy in the coming years.

"The allocations for critical socioeconomic services in the proposed 2010
budget and the additional revenues will not be enough for rehabilitation
and reconstruction of sectors damaged by recent calamities. It will also
not be enough to shelter the people from the impacts of globalization and
the global economic crisis," said Briones.

She explained that the allocations for Economic Services, which includes
agriculture, environment, trade, power and energy and water resources
decreased by P25 billion. The total budget for Departments was also
reduced by P51 billion.  "Figures clearly show that the that the eight
percent increase in the budget for 2010 is not geared towards greater
spending for programs that will have the greatest impact on economic and
social development," Briones said.

The ABI proposed a total of P25.2 billion additional allocations for
health, agriculture, environment and education. This includes additional
allocation of P9.6 billion for education, P2.1 billion for health, P790
million for agriculture and P11.3 billion for environment. The group also
proposed a total of  P50 billion alternative sources of financing to be
able to increase the budget for social development.

"We urge the Senate to adopt our alternative budget proposals for better
allocation for health, agriculture, environment and education. The
Philippines is already in danger of missing its targets on ending the
worst forms of human deprivation as embodied in the Millennium Development
Goals. More than one third of the population is living on less than one
dollar a day. Five million children cannot go to school. We are among the
countries with the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in Asia.
Meanwhile, the extreme weather conditions aggravate the situation,"
Briones said.

"The alternative budget proposals by civil society groups aim to increase
financing for these vulnerable sectors who should be the targets of
rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government," she added.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fw: UBS Southeast Asian Focus - ASEAN: Inflation issues


Headline inflation numbers are bottoming out across the ASEAN-5
economies and twelve-month inflation rates are likely to accelerate
noticeably in coming months. In this context we review potential
inflation shocks from commodity prices and administered price
adjustments given higher US dollar oil prices and weather effects. Over
the weekend, the Philippines announced the withdrawal of a fuel price
cap put in place following recent storms - implying upside to fuel
prices - while a decision on food price controls is pending. On the
cards for 2010 are subsidy reforms in Malaysia and Indonesia.

More important for financial markets is that monetary policy makers will
be focusing on the recovery in economic activity when they make their
decisions on the removal of monetary accommodation. And here we think
more evidence of durable economic recovery will be necessary before any
tentative tightening measures are undertaken; even if policy makers are
monitoring the impact of commodity prices on inflation expectations. We
remain of the view that no monetary tightening will take place in ASEAN
prior to Q2 2010.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Syngenta joins relief, food-for-work project in Benguet



Syngenta Philippines has pitched in to support relief operations for typhoon Pepeng victims in Benguet.


           In coordination witn the Itogon Inter-Barangay Alliance (IIBA) and the teachers at Ucab Elementary School in Itogon, Syngenta fed 800 pupils on October 26 and 27.


           Two pupils from the school along with other family members perished due to landslides at the height of Typhoon Pepeng. Ten other people died in Barangay Ucab, a mining community in Itogon.


           Syngenta and IIBA originally planned to feed only 400 pupils on the October 26 but nourished 400 more the following day


           On October 27, Syngenta also took part in the food-for-work program in Sitio Labey in Ambuklao, Botok, Benguet organized by the Serve the People (STP) Brigade.


           Residents of Labey, which is comprised of 90 families, joined hands with volunteers  to clear roads of debris and construct pathways and roads.


           A total of 21 volunteers from different institutions, including medical students from the Alliance of Concerned Medical Students of St. Louis University in Baguio and the Zuellig Family Foundation, went to Labey for the program.


            Syngenta also donated rice for the effort through the STP Brigade.


            Itogon Councilor Pedro Anton said "It will take months for the roads to be made passable to vehicles. We are thankful to nongovernment organizations (NGOs) helping us."


            Syngenta is also slated to help the STP Brigade in its planned food-for-work activities in Pasdong, Atok and three other isolated areas in Benguet.


            Labey is still isolated, roads are impassable and mobile phone signals are low. Residents have to walk for about three kilometers of mountainous terrain before reaching the sitio.


            Bangen Elementary School in Labey was totally damaged by a landslide. Two weeks after the typhoon, schools are still closed.


            Teacher Lolita Jose was still cleaning the school desks and drying what was left of their book collection. The only microscope for their biology class was also wrecked.


          "We need assistance," Jose said.


UBS Southeast Asian Focus - Philippines: Update on the economic impact of the storms


A month after tropical storm Ketsana (Ondoy) and subsequently typhoon Parma
(Pepeng) tragically hit Manila and Northern Luzon respectively; official
estimates of the storms' impact on GDP are still modest at 0.3ppts.
However, the lack of activity data has raised the degree of uncertainty to
the government forecast of 0.8-1.8% growth in 2009 and our own forecast of
5% growth in 2010, while concerns over the impact on balance sheets and
NPLs have increased.

High frequency Bureau of Agriculture data does suggest a clear impact on
some food prices. However, in part because of price controls, to date the
price impact does not seem to be widespread. As such we expect the price
effect of the storms to be temporary - there is already evidence that the
more exceptional rises in prices are reversing. But the high weight of food
in the Philippines CPI means October inflation (due 5-October) could
potentially jump 0.5-2ppts nonetheless. With international (Thai) rice
prices edging lower and atmospheric indicators suggesting a mild El-Niño,
any jump in inflation in the next couple of months should unwind in due

Given the price rises so far, we revised our average CPI forecast for 2009
to around 3.7% from 3.2% and for 2010 to around 3.9% from 3.8% at the same
time as the publication of our 2011 forecast. Both these outcomes are
within the BSP's 4.5% +/-1ppt inflation target range for 2010. Policy
makers will likely continue to focus on rebuilding and mitigating the
storms' damage on lives and property, not the limited medium term inflation
risks posed by the storm. No change in policy is likely to be forthcoming
from the 5 October BSP monetary policy meeting.

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Global Source Quarterly - The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises
GlobalSource Partners
Oct 27, 2009


The Philippine scenario does not look as bleak as one would expect after a
great flood. Growth would likely continue this year thanks to resilient
remittances and the support provided by rebuilding efforts.

A robust current account is able to mask increased fiscal worries by
allowing a healthy amount of foreign currency borrowing to occur in what
appears to be another case of overseas Filipinos saving the day. This in a
nutshell keeps financial markets in still quite good shape.

Prospects look particularly promising for 2010 when the country will be led
by a new president brought peacefully to power while the world economy
gains strength. Such would usher in continued remittances, export recovery,
and a honeymoon period with a new leader that could only improve the
environment for investments.

The two leading candidates in the May 2010 elections based on the latest
popularity surveys can be expected to manage the economy competently. Both
are acceptable to the business sector and financial markets and will likely
be more blessed than the previous leader with a popular mandate, which
should fuel a surge of optimism in the country.


* Rain or shine?

* Reconstruction support

* Fine weather in financial markets

* Fingers in the dike as deficit widens

* Tragedy's foreign currency windfall

* The Aquino afterglow

* Forecast tables

* Charts pages

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