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MRT Woes/SMC Opens TPLEX

Once fully complete, travel time from Tarlac City to La Union, which is about an hour away from Baguio City, will only take 45 minutes at 100 kph.” 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

A Hong Kong-based group has agaion found that the Metro Rail Transit, which runs along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, is no longer safe.

Haven’t we known that all along, considering that our DOTC officials stopped the maintenance company thatwas doing the job since the beginning and changed them with their own people who knew next to nothing about trains? The hundreds of thousands of commuters who brave the long lines leading to the platform every day, and who subject themselves to inhuman congestion even at supposedly off-peak hours, know all that  the problems besetting the MRT 3 are not just about comfort.

Various instances of minor breakdowns are observed every day, delaying the arrival of coaches and causing untold inconvenience to the plans of passengers.

All these, they bear with heroic patience that only Filipinos seem capable of.

Even that instance when a coach overshot the railway, or when a train door sprung open while the MRT was running, commuters continued to patronize the trains.

The transport secretary says people always have a choice, but he is wrong. His statement only shows his gross misappreciation of the plight of the daily wage earner. Their only choice is to blame our President for the rotten maintenance of rhe MRT.

The people don’t have a  choice because the government does not provide any other options to get from home to school or place of work, and vice versa. The MRT is relatively cheaper and many times faster than any of the other public vehicles available.

But now we are being told that if the trains continue to run under the same conditions over time, there will be accidents resulting in substantial casualties among the riding public.

There has been a fourfold increase in the cases of broken rails over the past three years, after a new maintenance provider took over. In the past year alone, 22 broken rail cases have already been reported.

Trackworks have been rated poor.  In fact, the speed of the trains has had to be reduced to 40 kilometers per hour from 65 kph to minimize risks to passengers.

But slowing down the trains is hardly a solution. As we have seen, it has only resulted in greater buildup of passengers.

That some stations are poorly maintained and that several escalators are not working hardly provide consolation, either. Indeed, in Metro Manila, taking the MRT can be a harrowing experience, especially if one is aware of worse things that could happen if things are allowed to remain in their present state.

 

The President has precious little time left to do something for the public to remember him by. For a while, we thought it would be the fight against corruption, but we have seen the double standards under which this fight is carried out. We thought, too, that it  would be public-private partnerships, but years have passed and we have yet to feel the tangible benefits of such ventures.

Public transport has become a gut issue. It is ignominious that a citizenry which has to worry about making ends meet must also be insecure about their person and property.  Then, they  must also be subjected danger as they try to eke out a living.  One can sense the government’s (low) regard for those it calls its “bosses.”

* * *

 Here’s a bit of good news. The 13.66-kilometer Rosales to Urdaneta, Pangasinan section of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will be made available to motorists starting Dec. 20 to January 20, 2015 to ease traffic flow to and from northern Luzon during the holidays.

Private Infra Development Corp. (PIDC), a unit of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation and operator of TPLEX, said use of this new section will be free of charge during the period.

“Many families will be traveling to and from northern Luzon during the Holidays, and this is our company’s ‘Christmas present’ to them,” said PIDC president Mark Dumol.

“Construction of TPLEX is well on track and while we still have to make a few more refinements, it is safe to use. We’re opening early as service to the public” he said.

He added that the section is also being opened to accommodate commuters wanting to travel to Manila for the visit of Pope Francis this January, after which it will be closed again to allow for finishing works.

In 2013, the company opened the first section (Tarlac City to Paniqui) of the total 88-kilometer TPLEX project, for motorists’ free use over the Christmas season. It then soft-opened the Paniqui to Rosales section in time for the Holy Week last April.

PIDC said that with the opening of the new section, the total length of the TPLEX that has been made operational in just over a year, will reach 63 kilometers.

It expects to fully complete the project, running to Rosario, La Union, in 2015. Once fully complete, travel time from Tarlac City to La Union, which is about an hour away from Baguio City, will only take 45 minutes at 100 kph. Currently, it takes motorists anywhere between 2.5 to 3.5 hours to travel from Tarlac to La Union using the old national road.

* * *

Should we see Sony Corporation’s giving in to fears that North Korea might send  terrorists to kill off hundreds of Americans at the showing of their comedy on North Korea “The Interview” or fid Sony do the right thing? Remember that a young punk shot dead several people  during the showing of a Batman movie. Imagine what could have happened if Sony had not pulled the film from the theatres? I also understand that the movie really had no redeeming values. Sony must have figured the  film was not worth the trouble it was causing.

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hvp 12.22.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Kailangan nang Pagbabago ang NBP

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Bata pa ako, madalas na ako sa Muntinglupa, sa NBP mismo. Noon, ang aking lolo sa ina, (Erberto Misa. Sr. ) ang Direktor ng NBP(1937-1949).

Tama ang mga nagsasabinh dapat na, sa ganitong sitwasyon ng NBP ngayon. dapat na pinagbi­bitiw sa tungkulin ang lahat na mga prison guards at pati na rion mga o[isyal ng New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Hinihirit din ni Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian kay Justice Sec. Leila de Lima na bumuo ng isang espesyal na lupon na mag-iimbestiga sa sumambulat na kontrobersya sa Bilibid.

Kagaya ng ibang mambabatas, from top to bottom din ang dapat umanong mangyaring resignation ng mga tauhan ng NBP.

“How can this happen under the nose of the NBP management for years? This is totally unacceptable and all NBP personnel — from top to bottom — should resign immediately,” ayon kay Gatchalian.

Lahat ng NBP personnel ay dapat maghain ng courtesy resignation sa DOJ para malusaw na ang mga anay na tauhan.

Binigyang-diin ng mambabatas na hindi makakalusot ang mga opisyal ng NBP at Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) na nangunsinti sa maluluhong kubol na naging tarima ng mga ‘lord’ sa Bilibid.

Pinakamatindi aniya ay ang nadiskubreng high-powered firearms na nasa kamay ng mga convicted drug traffickers.

Hindi pa man klarung-klaro kung papaano napadpad ang kargada ni Guimaras Cong. Joaquin Carlos Nava sa isa sa mga sinalakay na kubol ng bigating convicted drug lord sa NBP ay maagap namang sumalag ang mga kasamahan nitong mamba­batas sa Kamara.

Ang naging paliwanag ni Rep. Nava ay kaniyang pina-ayos ang baril sa nagbenta denhil may siara at hindi niya lama kung papaano na puntasa dreug lord.

Para naman kay House Deputy Majority Leader at Cibac Rep. Sherwin Tugna, kinakailangan ng due process.

Kaisa rin si House Deputy Minority Leader at 1BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello III sa paniniwalang hindi dapat kaagad-agad magbitaw ng konklusyon at parusahan ng apurahan ang kasamahan nilang solon patungkol sa isyu.

Muling nagsagawa ng raid sa NBP ang mga ahente ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), BuCor at DOJ Sec. De Lima.

* * *

Sa mgs lumilitw na kung anu-ano ang naipapasok ng mgas preso. mptorsiklo, aircon, recording studio at iba pa, halos nakakasiguro na y=tayo na hindi ito maaaring makapasok sa NBP na walang o[osyal na nagnigay nang phintulot. Hindi kayang gawain ito ng isa lamang gwardiya.

Nalaman na binigyan ng 6 na buwang ultimatum ni De Lima ang mga grupo ng mga preso o “gang” para isuko ang kanilang mga kontrabando.

Mismong si PNP Anti-­Illegal Drugs Special O­peration Task Force (AID-SOFT) Spokesman Chief Insp. Roque Merdegia na ang drug lord na si Peter Co ang pinaka­mayaman at pinaka­makapangyarihang preso sa NBP.

Ayon kay Merdegia, kung susumahin, umaabot sa P100,000 hanggang kalahating milyong piso ang kita ni Co kada araw sa kanyang transaksyon sa ilegal na droga kaya sa loob lamang umano ng isang buwan ay halos naliligo na ito sa bilyun-bil­yong pisong salapi kahit pa nasa loob ng bilangguan.

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hvp (12.22.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Malaya 12.24.14

Proving that the train riders are the leat important to the government, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya says the fare hike will push through on Jan. 4 next year, even if commuters complain of long queues and poor service for the MRT and LRT Lines 1 and 2.”

 

DOTC Charges More for its Awful Train Service

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

The government is a bust as a businessman. Malacañang anounced that it  supports the decision of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to increase fares in the Light and Metro Rail Transit systems, saying this was long overdue. That is no reason to increase fares.

Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. says that  the 60 percent LRT/MRT subsidy coming from taxpayers from Visayas and Mindanao – who are not Metro Manila train riders – should stop, and train fares should be closer to those of air-conditioned buses.

True, but the decision is still dumb.

 An astute businessman would have improved the service before increasing the fare. While there will be resistance to hihgher fares with a train that conks out on a regular basis, no one would sqwak about higher fares for a better train experience. Couldn’t we wait a few months as the sysrem improves? That is, if it is possible to see any positive improvements while the trains are being run by the politicinas who run  the DOTC.

Coloma said it is unfair that people who are not using the trains are shouldering LRT/MRT operations. That includes not only the Visayans but also those who have cars in Metro Manila.

Coloma said regular train commuters only pay P15 for the P40 worth of fare subsidized by people living in the Visayas and Mindanao.

* * *

Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate sought a special congressional inquiry into the fare hikes during the Christmas break as the DOTC says the fare hikes will take effect in the first week of January.

“We are not against development or the extension of the rail systems but we are against passing government irresponsibility and corporate greed not to mention corrupt practices onto hapless commuters,” Colmenares said.

He said Malacañang was practically blackmailing the public into accepting the fare hikes when it said these were meant to reduce government subsidies that may be otherwise used for other projects.

“The argument that the subsidy allotted to the MRT/LRT should be lowered or given to other regions because they do not use it is wrong because such an argument can also be used against projects in other regions,” Colmenares said.

“An example is like for the Aquino administration would stop constructing or rehabilitating a bridge in Eastern Visayas because the people of Mindanao would not be using it,” he said.

“It is not wrong to subsidize projects that would benefit a specific region, so if the government would also develop a mass transportation system for other regions then it would be good, what is wrong is to create conflict and division among regions and provinces and pit the projects and benefits of one region against the other,” he added.

* * *

Zarate says the Aquino government has adopted privatization as its escape hatch whenever it needs to bail out its public utilities buried in debt due to poor management and/or corruption.

He said the experience with privatization has shown that privatized utilities bring about unregulated price increases.

“It is feared that increasing fares will eventually lead to privatization and the state’s abandonment of its duty to provide affordable mass transportation to the citizens,” Zarate said.

“Before proposing any increases, the high cost of operations and the large amount of debt incurred by the project should first be investigated, specifically on whether taxpayers are actually subsidizing debt incurred by the private consortium that built the MRT. There is need for government to look into the operational costs of the MRT and LRT lines to check if there might be excessive expenses or mismanagement of funds,” he said.

Proving that the train riders are the leat important to the government, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya says the fare hike will push through on Jan. 4 next year, even if commuters complain of long queues and poor service for the MRT and LRT Lines 1 and 2. Apparently, Abaya is the wrong person to be  incharge of any peopele projects.

He issued Department Order No 2014-014, setting the new fares for the country’s three major mass transport systems in Metro Manila.

* * *

I agree with Former President Fidel Ramos against “damaging” the country’s relationship with the United States over the custody of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton at a time when the country is facing a “bully,” in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“You know that issue, although it is serious for all of us, must not be the cause for the damage of Philippine-US relations because there are higher interests,” Ramos said at the 79th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) inside Camp Aguinaldo.  

“I’m sorry for the families and I’m sorry also for the US side, but in this case it must be our higher interests – and the higher interests are Philippine interests – [that should prevail] because we are right on site. We are in the battlefield and we are the victims of bullying by, hindi ko na sasabihin…. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas (I won’t mention anymore. Long live the Philippines)!”

The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, has expressed its disappointment over the US rejection of its request to have custody over Pemberton, who is accused of murdering a transgender Filipina in Olongapo City.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the US has the right to keep the US Marine in custody while the judicial proceedings is ongong. Pemberton is now in a special detention area in Camp Aguinaldo, the main military camp. (READ: Arrest warrant out for US Marine over Laude slay and US denies PH request for custody over Marine)

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima also expressed her opinion that the Philippines should insist on getting custody of Pemberton.

At least two senators – Miriam Defensor Santiago and Francis Escudero – also have supported the position of Leftist groups that want the American soldier detained in an ordinary jail.

Getting custody of Pemberton and his transfer to a regular jail are two different issues. He is currently detained inside the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, but custody remains with the US. This means all his movements must be approved by the US embassy. Only his fellow US Marines serving as his guards can approach Pemberton while the Filipino guards are only in charge of perimeter security.

“In the middle of an evolving regional security architecture that is increasingly volatile and uncertain, it is imperative for the AFP to develop its territorial defense capability. It is important that we adjust our defense structures and synchronize our systems and processes in order to shape an armed forces capable of providing a credible defense posture,” says AFP chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr.

 

The Philippines also has a new military-to-military agreement with the US, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation AgreementIt allows the US to construct facilities inside Philippine military bases and preposition defense assets in the country. But the constitutionality of the new deal is contested in the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the petitions next year.

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This is my last column in Malaya for 2014 because today;s issue isthe last for Malaya in 2014. The next issue will be on January 5, 2015.

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Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

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hvp 12.23.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

On Pemberton, Anikow and Dr. Ona

My decision to purchase PCV 10 has allowed the Philippine government to realize savings of P231,720,401.00 (P833,670,642.00 for PCV 13 vs. P601,950,241.00 for PCV 10) and also enabled the DOH to increase the original number of beneficiaries from 300,000 to 423,000 infants.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

I am among those who want to keep America as a friend. We need the USA to keep the Chinese at bay. I am convinced that China will not start a war against us as  long as the US is committed to declare war on any country that nvades the Philippines. Thus, I am for EDCA and wish that there would be better relations between our two countries.

While a lot of us are disappointed that the US Embassy refused to turn over Marine Corporal  Joseph Scott Pemberton to our prisons, I agree with the US Embassy.  In case you don’t know about is yet, the US is disappointed with a recent Makati City court ruling on the killing of a US Marine outside Bel-Air Village in Makati by four Filipino men in November 2012.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg relayed his country’s sentiment when he pointed out that the court ruling on the murder of Marine George Anikow appeared to be “the end of the road” for the case that hardly got media attention. “Clearly we are disappointed by it,” he says.

The killing of Anikow, husband of a US diplomat, was captured on CCTV.

The suspects were granted bail by the Makati regional trial court.

“There has been a ruling on the case and the press did not cover, pick it up. Two of the suspects were not convicted of any crime and two were convicted of homicide and given probation,” Goldberg said. “And so nobody has served the day for that brutal crime. We don’t know why that would happen.”

The probation decision, according to the US Ambassador, was appealed but was denied by the court.

“The justice department has said that there may be some way to appeal the probation decision but it has already been appealed once and denied, so it looks like it is the end of the road,” Goldberg says.

He said he had spoken to the victim’s family and found it hard to explain the brutal murder.

The four Filipinos reportedly ganged up on Anikow when he confronted them for bullying a village guard who prevented them from entering the subdivision.

The United States Embassy in Manila expressed dismay over the developments in the George Anikow case.

Four Filipino suspects were granted bail in February 2013.

The US Embassy attempted to appeal the case but to no avail.

I feel that if I am moved by the act of Pemberton against Jennifer Laude, a male transvesite, I should also be moved by the senseless death of US Marine Anikow, who was killed for standing up for a Filipino guard being beaten by four men for doing his duty.

* * *

 I, for one, am glad that that Health Secretary Enrique Ona has submitted his resignation.  

Ike Ona is, like me, a Pasig Rotarian. As a fellow Pasig Rotarian, Ike is like a brother to me.

His one fault is that he is not mean enough to survive in government as we know it. What did him in were rumors and false tales. Dr. Ona mever had to deal with those who did him in and I, for one, am glad that he never learned.  He kept to being the great guy that he has always been.

The caseagainst hin was about command responsibility and ministerial duties rather than corruption. as well as other issues raised by groups that wanted Ona out.

He was on leave which should have ended late last month.

He quit when he should have. After all, the leave was over and the President had not yet made up his mind on what to do. Would it take a few more months or even longer?

Ona defended himself over the allegations in an affidavit submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

He justified the purchase of the pneumonia vaccine PCV 10, saying the government was able to save more than P200 million.

“My decision to purchase PCV 10 has allowed the Philippine government to realize savings of P231,720,401.00 (P833,670,642.00 for PCV 13 vs. P601,950,241.00 for PCV 10) and also enabled the DOH to increase the original number of beneficiaries from 300,000 to 423,000 infants,” Ona’s affidavit read.

Ona was crticized for the purchase of the vaccine PCV 10, which is regarded as less cost-effective than PCV 13. But, here is the WHO take on the two: “PCV10 and PCV13 are licensed for the prevention of invasive disease, pneumonia and acute  otitis media caused by the respective vaccine serotypes in children from 6 weeks to 5 years of age. In addition, PCV13 is  licensed for  the prevention of pneumococcal disease in adults aged  >50 years.”

Ona, however, says “the primary objective in procuring PCV 10 instead of 13 was to enable the DOH to optimize limited government resources and to have the most number of infant beneficiaries but still achieve the best possible health outcomes.”

Those who say that the WHO recommended the more expensive PCV 13 are wrong. The WHO never chose between  PCVs 10 & 13. Dr. Ona did the right thing. PCV 10  can cure the “most number of infant beneficiaries,”which was why we needed to buy the vaccine. PCV 13 is better because it can also be used by adults over 50 but how many infancts are over 50?

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hvp 12.21.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Ang Pagdami ng Populasyon at Sasakayan

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Sa ating mga nakatira sa sentro ng bansa, mukhng tuloy-tuloy lamang na pasama ng pasama ang ating mararanasang trapik sa mga ­lansangan ng Metro Manila.

Tila sabay-sabay na lumabas ang lahat ng uri ng sasakyan n dahil sa ilang araw na hindi sila nakabiyahe dulot ng bagyong Ruby.

Sa totoo lamang, sobra na ang mga sasakyang nasa Metro Manila. Dapat sana na noon pang dekada 80 ay nagpasa na tayo ng batas gaya ng sa Singapore na kung wala kang garahe ay hindi ka maaaring bumili ng kotse. Sa ganitong paraan (at mga multang binbayaran ng mga hindi makasunod sa batas) merong sapat na salapi sa pag-gawa ng mga bagong kalsada. At, dahil sa malaki ang multa, mas mabuti pang mag-commute na lamang kesa magbayad ng multa.

(Sa ngayon nga, dahil meron akong kapatid na malapit sa akin ang bahay, ang isa kong kotse — na pang color coding ko kapag Huwebes — ay nakagarahe sa bahay ng aking kapatid. Sa pananaw ko, hindi rin maganda ang color coding dahil hindi naman ang pribadong kotse ang dapat sisihin sa trapik kundi ang kakulangang ng ating mga kalsada.)

(Sa Davao, Cebu at iba pang mga lungsod, bumibigat na rin ang problema nila sa trapik. Talagang dapat na mas mabilis ang pag-gawa ng mga kalsada kesa sa pag-danimi ng ating populasyon.)

Reklamo ng mga naipit na mga commuters na kahit ano’ng gagawin nila para makahanap ng alternate route upang makarating sa kanilang trabaho o pupuntahang lugar ay wala silang magawa dahil kahit saang sulok ng Metro Manila ay matrapik. At maging ang mga Light Rail Transit at Metro Rail Transit ay siksikan din dahil sa dami ng pasahero.

Marami tuloy sa ating mga pasahero maging ang mga motorista ang uminit ang ulo at nagka-high blood ­dahil sa naranasan nilang trapik na halos hindi na umuusad.

Ang sitwasyon ng trapik ay pagpapakita lamang ng kapabayaan ng Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP) at maging ng mga metro mayors na nagkulang sa paghahanda ng mga traffic plans para sa inaasahang buhos ng mga sasakyan, empleyado at mga estudyante sa mga kalye.

Hindi naman na bago ang ganitong sitwasyon kaya dapat ay napaghandaan ito ng mga kinauukulang ­government agencies.

Alam naman ng ating mga opisyal kung saan ang bottle neck ng trapik sa kanilang kinasasakupang lugar kaya dapat tinambakan ito ng mga traffic enforcers upang hindi naiipon ang mga sasakyan..

Konting diskarte naman sana para sa mga kinauukulang opisyal na kumilos ng maaga at magplano sa ­ganitong mga inaasahang sitwasyon sa ating mga lansangan.

Dapat lamang na maging mapili tayo sa ating mga lider, lalo na sa pagpili ng sunod na Pangulo. Dapat na ang susunod nating Pngulo ay hindi lamang naniniwala sa Tuwid na Daan, dapat rin na ito ay gustong makapag-gawa ng maraing daan para sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong napapanganak (dahil hindi naman talaga mapigilan ang pagdami nating mga Pilipino) at ang pagdami rin nga mga sasakyan sa Metro Manla at sa Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, Metro Cagayan de Oro, Metro Tagaytay, Metro Batangas at kung saan pa dumarami ang dami ng tao at ng mga sasakyan.

Ayaw naman kasi ng Simbahan na magkaroon tayo ng Population Control kaya dapat lang na tuloy-tuoy ang pag-gawa ng mga lansangan upang merong madraanan nating lahat.

Kung ang pagdami nating mga Pilipino ay nasa 2 o 3 percent, dapat rin na ang ating mga kalsada ay humahaba rin ng  10 percent  o mas pa sa bawat taon.

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hvp (12.12.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Nagkamali Ako

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

 Sa huli kong kolum sa Abante ay ginamit ang sulat na pinaniwalaan kong galing kapwa kong mamamahayag na si Ariel Borlongan ng “Hataw.”

Sa sulat na aking ginamit ba akala kong sulat ni Borlongan, inamin ng sumulat na rumanggap siya ng mamahaling ewgalo mula sa pulitik (Binay), Ang king komento sa sulat ay “Salamat, Ariel, sa iyong pagiging tapat. Ngunit kung tinigil mo ang pagbatikos sa nakita mong  kamalian dahil sa natanggap mong regalo, walang pagkakaiba iyon sa katotohunang nasuholan ka!”

“Nakatanggap ako ng isa pang sulat galing sa tunay na Ariel: “Matagal ka na sa pamahayagan kaya nagtataka ako (at nagdududa) kung bakit ginamit mo sa iyong kolum ang isang sulat na nagmula raw sa akin.

“Una, hindi ko email address ang ginamit sa sulat dahil kilala ng lahat, lalo ng aking mga kaibigan, na mula nang mauso ang internet—arielborlongan@yahoo.com ang aking ginagamit.

Ikalawa, walang maniniwala sa mga tunay na nakakakilala sa akin na tumanggap ako ng regalo sa kam”po ni Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay dahil hindi ako kailanman nakipagkita sa kanila at kilala ko lamang sila sa pangalan, lalo ang mga binanggit ko sa aking kolum na sina Joey Salgado at alyas “Porky”. Kung buhay lamang ang kaibigan na si Boy Togonan, siya ang makapagpapatunay na may utang pa sa akin si VP Binay sa ipinagawa niyang political tabloid noong nasa Filipino Magazin pa ako.

“At ikatlo, kung bubusisiin mo ang sulat, napakabobong manunulat nito dahil sa nakakakilala sa akin bilang dating editor sa tabloids (Abante, Abante Tonite, Bandera, Bulgar, Balita at iba pa) malupit ako laban sa paggamit ng AY at hindi ako nag-aalis ng kahit isang titik sa mga kataga tulad ng paggamit ng sumulat ng KONSENSYA.

“Halatang sinisiraan ako ng gumamit ng ariel_borlongan@yahoo.com.ph para magpaliwanag sa hindi naman dapat ipaliwanag dahil hindi ako kailanman naniniwala sa white paper. Tuwing Huwebes lamang ang aking kolum na “Abot-Sipat” sa Hataw paano pa kung tatlong beses kada linggo o araw-araw?

“Sana, G. Paredes, kinilatis mo munang mabuti ang sulat kung totoong nanggaling sa akin. O nagtanong ka sa mga editor diyan sa Abante at Abante Tonite dahil alam nila ang estilo ko sa pag-edit ng balita. O kaya, itanong mo ang integridad ko bilang mamamahayag sa iyong best friend na si Neneth Ramirez.

“Gumagalang,  Ariel Dim. Borlongan”

Sinagot ko ang sulat niya:”Sorry. Tama ka. Dapat na inalam ko muna kung ikaw nga ba ang nagpadala noong sulat. Sa dami kasi ng mga email ko, talagang hinsi ko na nagagawa iyon. Sorry. Magpapaliwanag ako sa Martes sa Abante. Sorry ulit.”

Mabuti naman na tinanggap ni Ariel ang aking pag-sorry. “Maraming salamat, ayoko lang mabiktima rin asng mga kabaro natin sa trabaho ng mga media handler na masyadong namemersonal. Hanggang ngayon, dukha pa rin ako at alam ‘yan ng mga kasamahan natin sa pamamahayagan. Mabuhay ka, Sir!”

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hvp (12.01.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Tungkol kay Jojo Binay

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Ang rekalmo ni Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay tungkol sa mga sumbong sa kaniya at sa kaniyang Anak na Junjun, ang kasalukuyang alalde ng Makati ay:  “They have even given political color to the sanctity of ‘Simbang Gabi’”.  Ito ang sagot ni VP Binay sa  sinampang kaso lavan sa kaniyang anak na si Mayor Jun Jun Binay ng kanilang  tinuturing na lungsod ng Binay Family Dynasty.

Nagreklamo ang abugadong si  Renato Bondal kasama ang mga “good government advocates”  at dinala sa Office of the Ombudsman ang sumbong sa mag-ama na overpricing laban sa Bise Presidente at ang kaniyang anak.

Ayon kay Atty. Bondal na nagsampa ng kasong “overpricing ” na nangyari noong si Jojo pa ang Alkalde at noon ring ang anak na si JunJun ay alkalde mula 2007 hanggang 2013.

Umabot ang gastusin sa  P1.3 billion habang ng  orihinal na estimate ay nasa P470 million lamang.

Kasama sa kinasuhan ay ang mga kasalukuyang konsehal na  sina Ferdinand Eusebio, Arnold Magpantay, Romeo Medina, Tosca Puno-Ramos, Alethea Casal-Uy, Virgilio Hilario, Monsour del Rosario III, Vince Sese, Nelson Pasia, Salvador Pangilinan, Elias Tolentino, Ruth Tolentino, Henry Jacome, Leo Magpantay, Nemesio Yabut Jr., Armand Padilla, Israel Cruzado, Ma. Theresa de Lara, Angelito Gatchalian at Ricardo Javier, kasama ang mga kawani  ng Makati City School Board noong 2009. 

Sinama rin ang  Commission on Audit (COA) resident auditor Ma. Cecilia Caga-anan at ilang miyembro ng  bids and awards committee, at mga opisyal ng  Hilmarcs Construction Corp. (HCC), kasama si  engineer Efren M. Canlas.

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ng Binay na handa siyang humarap sa Ombudsman upang sagutin ang mga  kasungalingan laban sa kaniya.

Ikinalungkot rin ni Binay: “I am just saddened that they did not give the Christmas season even an ounce of respect.”

(Baket ba parang mas mahalaga pa sa kaniya ang pagiging sagrdo ng “Simbang Gabi” kesa ang pagsunod sa batas ng bansa at sa 10 Commandmants ng Diyos?  Tanong ng ng isang komentarista:”Sila Binay ba ay merong sinantong araw noong kanilang ginawa ang paglabag sa batas?”

“To those who filed the complaint and their backers, I say, I will answer all your lies before the Ombudsman,” ayon sa  Bise President. “Let us face each other before the eyes of the law. I will go through the right process.”

 “I am used to life’s challenges. And even if they are not fair or just, I do not back down,” ayon kay Binay . “Let us all go through the process—so that the people may see who is really telling the truth.”

(Ganito dapat ang sinagot ni Binay noong nagsimula ang pagsusuri ng Blue Ribon Committee  ng Senado tongkol sa yaman ng mga Binay. Kaya lamang mukhang nalalasahan na niya ang pagiging Pangulo niya at sumobra na ang kayabangang niya! Isa pa rin itong dapat nating pag-isipan kung anong klase bang magiging Presidential Family ang mga Binay na ito!)

Si Atty. Bondal ay kasama rin sa mga unang nagsampa ng kaso sa Ombudsman tungkol sa overpriced Makati parking building, na kasalukuyang iniimbestigahan ng  Senate blue ribbon committee.

Sa kaniyang bagong rekalmo, ayon kay Bondal, ang City Hall na ginawa ng Hillmarc “implemented using the same modus operandi employed in the construction of the overpriced Makati parking building.”

Ayon kay Bondal, sinamapa niya ang bagong kaso laban sa mga Binay tapos na  pati na si  COA Chair Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan ay nagulat sa pagkamahal ng naturang gusali.

* * *

Sa mga sunod-sunod na pangyayari na kung anu-ano ang mga binibintang sa Bise Presidente at sa kaniyang Asawa, anak at  Pamilya, hindi ko madaling matanggap ang pahayag ng mga Binay na kasuningalungan lamang ang lahat na mga banat sa kanila sa ganoong hindi naman sinasagot nila kayang sagutin ang mga bintang. Dapat sana’y harapin nila ang mga senador na bumabanat sa kanila at ang mga lumilitaw na overpricing ng mga gusaling kanilang pinagawa sa lungsod ng Makati.

Sa katotohanan, hindi naman natin kalaban si JoJo Binay lalo na’t baka malamang na maging Pangulo  pa rin siya ng Bansa. Ngunit baket ba na kung merong mga paratang laban sa kaniya’y hindi naman niya sinasagot. Parang wala tayong karapatan na alamin ang katotohanan? Kaya, tuloy na hindi siya pinaniniwalaan ng marami at tinuturing siya ay isa lamang kurakot gaya ng maraming pulitiko na hindi dapat mahalalal bilang Pangulo ng ating bansa. Marami ang mas gusto pa ang kung tawagin sa bisaya ay sunoy na sunoy pa gaya si Senadora Grace Poe na noon lang 2013 cumabak sa pulitika.

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hvp (12.19.14)

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Big Trouble at SCTEX

” In its disclosure reports to the SEC and PDEx, meanwhile MNTC similarly bared its plan to take legal action against BCDA if and when the BCDA fails to make the Price Challenge process fair and transparent.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

A week ago,  an Invitation to Bid (ITB) to a price challenge on the privatization of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) was published in several newspapers by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

The interim operator—Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC)— was, to put things mildly, surprised by BCDA’s move to publish the ITB in the major dailies without t consulting MNTC on the public bidding’s Terms of Reference (TOR).This was clearly  in violation of the Business and Operating Agreement (BOA) that both parties signed in 2011.

In a letter to the BCDA and in official disclosures to both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and   the Philippine Dealing Exchange (PDEx), the MNTC complained that, in pursuit of a successful auction and with no intent whatsoever to delay the process, it has requested an immediate discussion with the BCDA of the terms, conditions, procedures and timetable for the Price Challenge before the TOR is released to the public.

But if the BCDA proceeds with the auction without the MNTC’s concurrence on the TOR provisions and without prior common understanding that the would-be awarded contract should be anchored on the 2011 BOA, the interim SCTEX operator said “the validity of the Price Challenge may be questioned for having been undertaken by the BCDA unilaterally and without legal basis.”

 In fact, the MNTC added: “We may also be constrained to review our legal options in order to protect our interests.”

The MNTC issued the disclosure reports and sent its letter to BCDA president-chief executive officer (CEO) Arnel Paciano Casanova last Dec. 9, a day after the ITB came out in Manila’s broadsheets. 

This means that this auction, unless done in a fair and transparent manner, could go the route of other major projects—a protracted court battle over the BCDA’s surprise move.

* * *

In the published ITB signed by lawyer Nena Radoc as chairperson of the BCDA Price Challenge Selection Committee, the state-run firm invited qualified foreign and local proponents to a price challenge of MNTC’s offer, to include:

1.  Payment of Upfront Cash of P3.5 Billion (inclusive of the 12% Value-Added Tax or VAT) to BCDA;

2.  50/50 sharing of the gross toll revenues between the BCDA and the Private Sector Partner (PSP);

3.  Assumption by the PSP of the operation and maintenance costs and responsibilities over SCTEX; and

4.  Assumption by the PSP of the ongoing Integration Agreement for the Toll Collection System of the SCTEX and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

 “The object of the Price Challenge is the Upfront Cash only, which should be higher than P3.5 Billion, payable upon signing of the agreement,” said the BCDA in the newspaper advertisements. “The other aforesaid commercial terms should be accepted by the Proponents.”

 “However, MNTC has the right to match the Upfront Cash proposal of the Highest Rated and Responsive Proponent (HRRP), in which case, MNTC shall be awarded the contract,” it added. “If MNTC fails to match the Upfront Cash offer of the HRRP, the latter shall be awarded the contract.

The BCDA pointed out in the published ITB that BCDA and the MNTC “signed a BOA in 2011 subject to the approval of the Office of the President of the Philippines (OP). In the interest of transparency and fair competition, the OP directed that the MNTC’s offer be subjected to a Price Challenge.”

Details of the Price Challenge are contained in the TOR, which, according to the ITB, was to be released and made available for purchase by interested parties last Thursday (December 11), for a non-refundable fee of P500,000 payable to the BCDA.

 BCDA has set a Pre-Selection Conference to discuss the TOR at its Bonifacio Global City headquarters at 2 PM on January 6, 2015.

* * *

This is where the planned bidding goes through a sticky patch as MNTC, professing full support for the Price Challenge is grumbling nonetheless that it has not seen the TOR, let alone been consulted about it, before the ITB was published last week.

MNTC executives fret that not all of the BOA’s relevant terms will be contained in the TOR or discussed with the would-be bidders, hence leaving the interim SCTEX operator with the short end of the deal.

First, the BCDA set in the ITB a minimum upfront fee of P3.5 billion, which the MNTC has offered.

 This is not exactly true because while MNTC had indeed offered P3.5 billion, it is actually broken down into a front payment of P2.9 billion plus a P600-million allocation for the repair of an SCTEX bridge and the NLEX-SCTEX integration.

Second, the ITB set a 50-50 revenue-sharing arrangement in sync with MNTC’s offer, but it did not specify that the interim operator’s offer was for a minimum revenue share for Government of P400 million annually from next year till 2019.

 Third, rather than limiting the challenge to the P3.5-billion offer, MNTC executives assert that, in the interest of fair play, the technical and operational offers of the would-be bidders should also match those of MNTC.

Hence, contrary to BCDA’s disclosure in the published ITB about MNTC’s “right to match” the offer of whichever among the would-be bidders (other than MNTC) ends up as the Highest Rated and Responsive Proponent (HRRP), and thereby win the contract, there is no guarantee that MNTC will exercise that right.

 Not having seen the final TOR prior to the ITB’s publication, MNTC executives now say that they reserve their right to contest the results of the Price Challenge, assuming that the would-be bidders are not required to match the technical and operation specifications of MNTC’s offer.

Confided one MNTC executive: “We can’t say if we will match offers to be received from other bidders.  We think our current offer is already fair.  We will wait to see if the bids to be received are reasonable before deciding to match.  We can also contest the result of the Price Challenge if the process is not done properly.”

* * *

  The BCDA intends to assign the rights, interest and obligations till 2043 in the management, operation and maintenance of the world-class, four-lane SCTEX, which, at 94 kilometers long—traversing the provinces of Pampanga, Bataan and Tarlac—is now the country’s longest toll road.

Opened in 2008, SCTEX was built by the BCDA at a cost of P34.9 billion, of which 78% was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

This toll road provides a direct link to Metro Manila via the NLEX, which is also run by MNTC.

Under MNTC’s management, daily traffic has  jumped from an average of 9,302 vehicles in 2008 to 19,706 in 2009; 24,543 in 2010; 23,439 in 2011; 25,612 in 2012; 27,843 in 2013; and to this year’s 30,8555 (or an over three-fold increase over the six-year period).

MNTC won the bidding for SCTEX’s privatization on the last year of the Arroyo Administration, but the BOA between BCDA and this MPIC subsidiary was signed only in 2011, and subject to the President’s final approval.

Malacañang suspended this accord in 2012 and asked MNTC to offer better revenue-sharing terms, leading to prolonged negotiations that culminated in the firm’s third offer in February 2013 of a 50-50 income share plus a P3.5-billion cash component (inclusive of P600 million for a bridge repair and the NLEX-SLEX integration).

* * *

Foreign and local companies interested in joining the Price Challenge must either be corporations registered with the SEC or joint ventures (JVs) or consortia, of which at least one member-firm should be registered with the SEC.

These would-be bidders should be at least 60% Filipino-owned, have at least three years of experience in managing and maintaining a toll road within the last decade, and a net worth of credit line issued by a reputable commercial bank or banks of at least P5 billion as of Dec. 31, 2013.

MNTC president-CEO Rodrigo Franco says, “The price challenge is just a part of the proposal…okayed by the OP and we don’t contest that decision.

 “We are supportive of that effort, if that is the only way to resolve the problem in SCTEX. We just want to make sure that it is done properly.”

 While MNTC agrees “in principle” that their offer would be challenged, Franco stresses that the firm did so only on condition that he terms “shall be agreed (upon) by BCDA and MNTC”.

The unilateral move by the BCDA s prompted Franco to say that MNTC could sue should the BCDA pursue the Price Challenge without first according the interim SCTEX operator its right to go over the TOR.

* * *

Franco asserts that a price challenge is not provided for in the BOA that the BCDA and MNTC signed in 2011, after the company ended up as the lone bidder for SCTEX’s management and operation contract.

Thus, he says, a price challenge “cannot be undertaken without the consent or involvement of MNTC.”

“MNTC reiterated that the terms of the contract, which will be the subject of the price challenge, should accurately reflect the terms of the BOA to be revised only to the extent necessary and that the upfront cash payment is the only subject of the price challenge,” he said. 

According to Franco, “The terms of the BOA as may be provided in the terms of reference are fixed for the purpose of the price challenge and therefore, may not be the subject of any further negotiation.”

MNTC had already asked the BCDA to discuss the necessary amendments to the BOA and the terms, conditions, procedure and timetable for the price challenge before the TOR are released to the general public and for sale to interested parties.

* * *

Actually, the fact that trouble was brewing on the SCTEX front first surfaced early this year when Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) president Ramoncito Fernandez questioned the Palace plan to subject the SCTEX contract to a Swiss challenge.

  “We were told that the President (Aquino) already liked our third improvement but he wants to subject it to a Swiss Challenge,” he said. “Our position there is we find it grossly unfair and without legal basis.”

MPIC’s subsidiary MPTC is the majority owner of MNTC.

 MPTC owns 71% of MNTC, which operates NLEX and SLEX. It also owns 100% of Cavitex Infrastructure Corporation (CIC) that operates the 14-km Cavitex, 46% of the Tollways Management Corporation (TMC), and 29.45% of Thailand’s Don Muang Tollway Public Company Ltd, (DMT) by way of FPM Infrastructure Holdings Ltd.

* * *

In the Dec. 9 letter to Casanova, Franco pointed out that the Price Challenge, as directed by Presidet Aquino, is “necessarily connected” to the 2011 BOA, which was “the culminaton of the biddingprocess that was initiated in 2009 for BCDA’s selection of a private sector partner” for SCTEX’s privatization.

 “We maintain that the Price Challenge  was not contemplated in the BOA nor was it included in the terms of reference for the 2009 bidding,” MNTC said. “Thus, the Price Challenge cannot be undertaken unilaterally by BCDA or without the consent or involvement of MNTC.”

“It should be made clear in the TOR that the upfront cash payment is the only subject of the Price Challenge and that MNTC or the successful price challenger, as the case may be, cannot further amend nor revise the terms of the BOA,” it said. “In other words, the terms of the BOA as may be provided in the TOR are fixed for the purpose of the Price Challenge and therefore should be completely maintained and may not be subject of any further negotiation between BCDA and the successful price challenger.”

It noted that MNTC had agreed to consider the Price Challenge and discuss the matter with BCDA “on the express condition that “the terms of such Price Challenge shall be agreed upon by BCDA and MNTC.”

This point was made “expressly clear,” it said, in MNTC’s three successive letters to the BCDA sent on June 19, Sept. 16 and Dec. 2 this year.

  “If BCDA proceeds with the Prive Challenge without our agreement on the provisions of the TOR and without having a common understanding that the BOA will be the basis of the contract to be executed by the successful price challenger with BCDA, the validity of the Price Challenge may be questioned for having been undertaken by BCDA unilaterally and without legal basis,” MNTC said. “We may also be constrained to review our legal options in order to protect our interests.”

MNTC sought an immediate meeting with BCDA representatives to discuss the TOR, with “the view of striving to attain a successful Price Challenge following the OP-approved parameters and with no intention to delay the process.”

Copies of the Dec. 9 letter to Casanova were sent to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

 In its disclosure reports to the SEC and PDEx, meanwhile MNTC similarly bared its plan to take legal action against BCDA if and when the BCDA fails to make the Price Challenge process fair and transparent.

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hvp 12.18.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

The US On China’s ‘nine-dash line’

“The law of the sea does not permit [maritime] entitlements to be overridden by another state’s maritime claims that are based on ‘history,’ To the contrary, a major purpose and accomplishment of the Convention is to bring clarity and uniformity to the maritime zones to which coastal States are entitled.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

An agency under the  United States Department of State questioned China’s nine-dash line over the South China Sea, the subject of contention with its neighbors such as the Philippines.

The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs’ study released earlier this month urged China to clarify sweeping delineation over the strategic waterway as the claim appears to be inconsistent with international law.

“Unless China clarifies that the dashed-line claim reflects only a claim to islands within that line and any maritime zones that are generated from those land features in accordance with the international law of the sea … its dashed-line claim does not accord with the international law of the sea,” the study affirmed.

The study explored interpretations of the dashed-line claim, which China has said is based on its historical stake on maritime features and waters.

It noted, however, that China’s possible explanations for the nine-dash line will not assure it of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the areas.

“Even if the legal test for historic waters were applicable, the dashed-line claim would fail each element of that test,” according to the authors.

The Philippines has repeatedly objected to China’s claims in asserting its own rights over the hotly disputed sea. It is also pushing an arbitration case against the Asian giant under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) despite Beijing’s rejection of the proceedings.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, welcomed findings of the study as a contribution to the “substantive literature that supports the primacy and utility of the UNCLOS for the determination of maritime entitlements, and the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes.”

* * *

  Here is the gist of the study by the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs: The US State Department says that China failed to clarify its controversial 9-dash line claim over the South China Sea in a way consistent with international law.

The Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs published a study on Friday, December 5, assessing the consistency of China’s maritime claims with international law.

The study was released ahead of a December 15 deadline for China to respond to the Philippines’ historic arbitration case on the disputed sea before an international tribunal. The US study also came just two days before China released its own position paper detailing its objection to the case.

In the 26-page paper, the US says that China’s position on its maritime claims is unclear. It analyzed 3 possible interpretations of the 9-dash line, two of which “do not have a proper legal basis under the law of the sea.”

“Unless China clarifies that the dashed-line claim reflects only a claim to islands within that line and any maritime zones that are generated from those land features in accordance with the international law of the sea, as reflected in the LOS Convention, its dashed-line claim does not accord with the international law of the sea,” the paper concludes.

The US was referring to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which the Philippines cited in its arbitration case to invalidate the 9-dash line.

The US State Department said that the study was part of a series to “examine a coastal state’s maritime claims and/or boundaries and assess their consistency with international law.” Yet the timing of the publication was close to the deadline for China’s counter-pleading.

The paper reiterates earlier statements of State Department officials asking China to clarify the 9-dash line.

“Although the US Government is active in protesting historic claims around the world that it deems excessive, the United States has not protested the dashed line on these grounds because it does not believe that such a claim has been made by China. Rather, the United States has requested that the Government of China clarify its claims.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei criticized the US study.

“The US report ignores the basic facts and international legal principles and is contrary to its promises not to take a position or sides. It is not helpful to the resolution of the South China Sea issue and the peace and stability of the South China Sea. We urge the US side to abide by its promises, act and speak cautiously and objectively and fairly view and deal with the relevant issue,” Reuters quotes him as saying.

China criticizes what it views as US meddling in its disputes with its neighbors. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea, believed to hold vast deposits of oil and gas, and a major shipping route.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, citing the contentious line to assert “indisputable sovereignty.” Declaring the line inconsistent with UNCLOS is the main claim of the Philippines in its arbitration case.

* * *

The US State Department says in two out of 3 interpretations, China’s 9-dash line is inconsistent with international law.

The US study analyzed the 9-dash line using 3 interpretations: as a claim to islands, as a national boundary, and as a historic claim. It is only the first interpretation where the US said the line could be consistent with UNCLOS.

As to the third interpretation, the paper said the line failed each element of a legal test: 1, No open, notorious, and effective exercise of authority over the South China Sea; 2. No continuous exercise of authority in the South China Sea; 3. No acquiescence by foreign states in China’s exercise of authority in the South China Sea.

“The law of the sea does not permit [maritime] entitlements to be overridden by another state’s maritime claims that are based on ‘history,’ To the contrary, a major purpose and accomplishment of the Convention is to bring clarity and uniformity to the maritime zones to which coastal States are entitled,” the paper stated.

On the second interpretation of the line as a national boundary, the State Department said that this too is inconsistent with international law.

“Moreover, dashes 2, 3 and 8 that appear on China’s 2009 map are not only relatively close to the mainland shores of other states, but all or part of them are also beyond 200 nautical miles from any Chinese-claimed land feature,” it said.

While China released a position paper on the arbitration case, it was silent on the merits of the Philippines’ claim questioning the 9-dash line. Instead, it chose to focus on jurisdiction or technical issues on the admissibility of the Philippines’ claims.

Although the US is not a party to the dispute and the arbitration case, scholars said its paper contributed to discussion on the issue.

“It is a must-read for anyone interested in maritime security, the law of the sea, or China’s foreign policy,” said The Intrepeter, a blog of the Australia-based think tank Lowy Institute for International Policy.

China’s position paper is also sparking debate. American international law professor Julian Ku urged the Philippines to respond by releasing its pleading or memorial.

“As a legal document, [China’s] position paper is very well done and is the best legal analysis of the jurisdictional issues in the Philippines arbitration I have seen coming out of China, and certainly from the Chinese government,” he said on the legal blog Opinio Juris.

“I’m sure the Philippines will be tempted to release at least the jurisdictional portion of their brief as well. I hope they do, since the public reaction to their legal arguments will be just as important as any ruling the tribunal makes,” Ku added.

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hvp 12.17.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Dreaming of a Bangsamoro

The problem has always been that the Muslims among us want a country of their own. This creates a problem of a Bangsamoro having its own constitution and their own virtual country, which would naturally be an aleien entity for the Christian majority.”


by Ducky Paredes

 

It is good that the Moro National Liberation Front-Nur Misuari faction and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are being asked to present their opposing views on the Bangsamoro Basic Law even as as the congrssioanl panel reviewing thel provisions in the Palace-backed BBL has found some provisions unconstitutional, says Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member special ad hoc committee on the BBL, said that the panel found some provisions unconstitutional, e.g. that the Bangsamoro will not have its own Ombudsman, Commission on Elections, Civil Service Commission, police force and human rights commission. “The panel found it unconstitutional to surrender these offices to the Bangsamoro and decided to retain them with and under the national government,” says Rodriguez.

The panel is now into its 30th public hearing of which 20 were held in Mindanao and 10 in Manila.

“On January 17, we are inviting the MNLF Misuari faction and the MNLF- Sema faction. We will invite the Islamic command and the top 20 factions of Alonto. There are three big factions of the MNLF. We also invited the BIFF of Umbra Kato. We are going to invite them to come to Manila and also the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Rodriguez said.

“As to whether Misuari and Umbra Kato will come, they may not be able to come because they have a warrant of arrest. But we are only requesting that their representatives would come to read their position papers.”

The MNLF-BIFF-MILF hearing will be held in the House at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17, Rodriguez says.

 On Jan. 16, the mayors and governors of the soon to be affected provinces will also be invited to a separate hearing in the House.

Rodriguez said there was overwhelming support for the Bangsamoro from the core territories such as the five provinces Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,which were with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

However, Rodriguez admits that there are serious concerns raised against the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

“There are also concerns. In general, the framework is very much supported but there are for example provisions, I’ll cite one, the ‘opt in’ provision. At anytime after the formation of the Bangsamoro government and approval of the law, it will allow 10 percent of the population of a barangay or the municipality to ask for a plebiscite to joint the Bangsamoro,” says Rodriguez.

“This is seen especially  by congressmen who are in areas adjacent or contiguous to the Bangsamoro. They are quite afraid that there may be a continuing speculation and continuing problem where there are always a possibility that 10 percent of the population maybe influenced by the adjacent territory and they may ask for separation from present territory. So they are against it.”

Rodriguez cited the concern raised by Iligan City Rep. Vicente Belmonte, who was recently ambushed, that he is against the “opt in” provision since five barangays in Iligan City that are adjacent to Lanao del Sur may “opt in” and ask for a plebiscite.

 “That will get 55,000 of the 85,000 hectares of the city. He would be left with only 35,000 hectares,” Rodriguez.

 “Those are the specific issues that is being dealt by our congressmen.”

 Rodriguez said the panel will have to decide on whether or not to delete the “opt in” provision.

 Another concern, he said, was the BBL provision that the Bangsamoro will create its own internal audit body.

 “We find that unconstitutional. So we are reminded to remove that because under the Constitution and this is also the complaint of justices and former justices, na baka unconstitutional ito. Kasi we only have one Commission on Audit. One national audit  that cannot be delegated to a regional audit body,” Rodriguez said.

The Bangsamoro police, he said, would be likewise retained under the PNP chief and under the commander-in-chief, the President.

The civil service, he said, could not also be given up.

 Rodriguez said Ombudsman Conchitina Carpio-Morales asserted that the discipline of public officials could not in anyway be given the civil service that would be established to the Bangsamoro because the Ombudsman was a constitutional body.

 “The Ombudsman are the only ones authorized to be able to investigate criminal and administrative offenses of public officials,” Rodriguez said.

 He said the panel would make sure that the BBL the Congress will pass would get past the scrutiny of the Supreme Court on the bill’s constitutionality.

He said the Bangsamoro government would be under one civil service commission.

“Under the Palace-proposed BBL, there is an authority for the Bangsamoro parliament to establish its own civil service but yan ang tinutulan din. Sabi namin baka maging against the Constitution because we have a civil service commission, only one civil service commission for the entire country,” Rodriguez says.

* * *

One understanda the concerns of Congressman Rufus and opur Muslin “brothers.” But. wasn’t the whole idea to have a Bangsamoro — a nation of their own for our Muslim brothers, who have a problem with living in a country run by non-Muslims and laws mandated by our Christian ways? The problem has always been that the Muslims among us want a country of their own. This creates a problem of a Bangsamoro having its own constitution and their own virtual country, which would naturally be an alien entity for the Christian majority.

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hvp 12.16.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.