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On PCOS and the 2016 Elections

08.17.15 Malaya

Flores said Smartmatic had been proposing the refurbishment of the PCOS machines since 2013.

by Ducky Paredes

I attend Deedee Siytangco’s Bulongpulongan at the Sofitel when I can. I finally go to meet and listen to Cesar Flores of Smartmatic, who is being demonized by those who look with greed in their hearts on the deals that Smartmatic has been able to corner from the Commission on Elections with its superior election technology that has given us at least two elections where therewere no complaints about dagdag-bawas.

Smartmatic has cornered deals with the Comelec worth billions with its PCOS  machines (Precinct-Count Optical Scanners).

First of all, new Comelec Commissioner Andy Bautista has followed the way that former Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes’ decision to go with PCOS machines.  This was after a test run with an alternative suggestion by local computer techies suggesting the use of office computers to speed up the count. It was apparent, however, that dagdag-bawas, the bane of elections on the elections before the PCOS machines were introduced, would still be possible. Nothing beats the PCOS which delivers the votes automtically while having the paper trail that can be checked after the elections should there be any complaints.

For the new COMELEC chief Andy Bautista, he cannot be faulted for having to make this choice for the lease of new machines. The anti-automation groups left him no choice. 

Smartmatic as early as 2014 offered to refurbish the PCOS machines. But anti-automation groups put a stop to this. A petition dated January 30, 2015 was filed by anti-automation groups including petitioners led by Bishop Broderick Pabillo to stop the implementation of the extended warranty contract that would have allowed the repair and refurbishment of the PCOS machines. This contract was specifically for the purpose of extending the life of the PCOS machines. 

As with any technology, one is usually given a 1-year warranty but you may sometimes opt for an extended warranty, which was offered by Smartmatic as soon as the 2013 elections ended. This extended warranty would have cost the government only P300 Million (compared to the P 3 Billion the government will have to spend if the PCOS were to be repaired today). 

The petition was successful in that in April, the Supreme Court voided the agreement between the COMELEC and Smartmatic-TIM for this extended warranty contract for the diagnostics and repair of the existing 80,000 PCOS machines. The Supreme Court reasoned that the Comelec “failed to justify its resort to direct contracting” although the Comelec had argued that the maker of the machine would be most suited to diagnose and repair the machines. 

What happened? Anti-automation groups got their wish. Eventually, Smartmatic backed out from bidding for the repair of the PCOS machines because the timeline, due to the delays caused by court cases, had become too risky. Smartmatic ended up being unable to bid for the refurbishment of the machines, even if they wanted to. 

At the first bidding for the refurbishment of the machines in June this year, which Smartmatic joined, the company, along with all other bidders, eventually backed out when the approved budget for the contract was brought down to P2.5 Billion, 45% or P800 Million lower than the expected contract price. At the second bidding at the end of July, even if the contract price was raised again to P3.1 Billion, Smartmatic had to withdraw, this time because of time constraints. At just nine months to go before elections, it was then already too risky to sign a contracrt for the repair of the machines in time for the elections. 

In any case, Bautista erring on the side of caution. By leasing new machines, Comelec would ensure that 100% of delivery of all new machines before the end of January 2016. That is the commitment that Smartmatic gave. They would also be able to certify all PCOS machines on time as there will only be one certification process with the new leased machines as well as the new 23,000 machines, instead of having two parallel certification processes for the 80,000 and the 23,000 machines. Best of all, there would be only one PCOS model that would be easier to deploy as there would be more uniformity in training processes and voter education. 

 Bautista can sleep soundly with this decision.  The anti-Smartmatic group also has still another  thing to complain about – the COMELEC’s apparent “favoritism” for Smartmatic technology.

            Why not? Since Smartmatic has given us elections without  dagdag-bawas and instant, flawless results, we ought to keep on doing what works and not try to supplant what works with ideas that don’t fly.

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The poll watchdogs are naturally dismayed by Comelec’s decision to lease optical mark reader (OMR) machines from Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. They accuse Comelec of electoral sabotage.

“They are just following what Smartmatic wants. It’s all a sham. Whatever Smartmatic wants, that’s what they’ll do,” says former elections commissioner Augusto Lagman, who  has himself suggested using existing computers but whose idea also costs several billions.

 “Part of the contract with Smartmatic was the training of the Comelec staff on diagnostics and repair of the machines. Did they do that? If they did, then the trained people could have started the repair in late 2014 and the whole of 2015,” Lagman says.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares describes the Comelec decision as “suspicious.” Colmenares says that the Comelec should reconsider a hybrid system proposed by Lagman. Unfortunately,  the Lagman idea was found not to work as well as the PCOS and would acrtually be more expensive.

 “Without awaiting the Supreme Court action on the legal questions raised against the Comelec and Smartmatic, the Comelec proceeded to award the lease of 94,000 expensive new PCOS units to a sham joint venture, in violation of the Constitution and laws as well as COA regulations. Such impunity, lies and blatant treachery to voters, taxpayers and the Filipino people,” says Lagman.

Guanzon said that if the Comelec had enough time, she would choose to refurbish the old PCOS machines.

Comelec has only nine months before the May 2016 elections to refurbish thousands of PCOS machines.

 Cesar Flores says: “It is unfair to pin the blame on us when the reason why the refurbishment could not have been done in time were the interminable delays caused by all the legal cases and Comelec’s own actions or inaction.”

Flores said Smartmatic had been proposing the refurbishment of the PCOS machines since 2013.

“Records will bear out the fact that we had been vigorously recommending this option as a means for the government to save money and to maximize its investment,” says Flores.

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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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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.

Neither Leni nor Grace for Mar

08.14.15 Malaya

“Leni Robredo was a no-show at the launch of a movement to convince her to take the leap.” 

By Ducky Paredes

            She would the perfect candidate for vice president except that she does not want the job and would also reluctantly, prefer to go for a Senator’s seat.

Unwilling to answer a clamor that she run for Vice President, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo was a no-show at the launch of a movement to convince her to take the leap.

Those who have chosen her as the VP candidate for Mar Roxas’ presidency do not agree. “The best leaders are the reluctant leaders,” says singer-composer Jim Paredes, extolling the virtues of the congresswoman and widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, the multiawarded former mayor of Naga City.

“I think Leni here is a blessing like Cory was,” Paredes said, adding that the nation needed leaders with conscience and humility.

He said, “I feel safer with leaders like that, not like those who harbor certain presumptions—that ‘I have money, machinery, or [am] doing well in the surveys.’”

The Leni Robredo for Vice President Movement was organized by the civil society group Kaya Natin Movement and supported by like-minded groups and individuals. The launch was held at Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.

Asked on Tuesday if she would appear at the event, Robredo exclaimed: “Oh no! I’m not part of it. In fact, I asked Harvey [Keh] early on to stop pushing for it, but he wasn’t listening.”

 “My kids are getting stressed because of it,” she said in a text message.

Former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III of the Liberal Party (LP) said Robredo was his choice should Sen. Grace Poe ultimately decline the offer to be the running mate of the party’s standard-bearer, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

“Our point is we cannot wait forever” for Poe to make a decision, he said. “We have to organize.”

He said Robredo herself had expressed a preference for Poe, the front-runner in the presidential preference surveys, to accept the LP’s offer to slide down as a vice presidential candidate.

But if this would not materialize, Tañada said Robredo would fit the bill.

If Poe does decide to be Roxas’ running mate, however, “this movement would transform into a Leni Robredo for Senator Movement,” Tañada said.

A University of the Philippines economics graduate and a lawyer, the 54-year-old Robredo is planning either to seek reelection in her congressional district or to run for a Senate seat.

She earlier said her awareness rating was too low, and that she had too little experience as a politician to run for Vice President.

But Anak Mindanao Rep. Sitti Turabin-Hataman, one of her supporters, said Robredo’s lack of political ambition was precisely what convinced her of Robredo’s qualification.

“We know she has not yet declared. She has a lot of apprehensions. These are the characteristics, the level of awareness and humility we want in a candidate. We know that if she is put in the position, she will double her efforts because she knows her limitations,” Hataman said.

Former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio described Robredo as “a true person, a good Filipino, who loves her country, shows deep sympathy for her countrymen, who lives simply, who loves her family and who puts God at the center of her heart.”

* * *

Mar Roxas’ announced intended for Vice President Grace Poe has only harsh words for  Liberal Party (LP) officials led by Interior and Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for trying to weaken her position and dissuading her from running for president in 2016.

“This is a fight for the future of our countrymen. Some people have said I should not run for a higher position because I will only divide the votes. Can’t we leave that to the voters to decide?”

She has also become suspicious that the Liberals are behind reports questioning her citizenship.

Poe said she had not yet spoken to Abad, but was open to talking to Roxas because he is a friend.

Sought for comment, Abad said: “I never said or did anything along that line. I have always respected her choice, whichever way it goes.”

Roxas, the standard bearer for the Liberals, issued an invitation to Poe to be his running mate through a nationally televised morning talk show last week.

She also said what she would say to Roxas was the same: she was still “discerning and praying” on her decision.

A losing senatorial candidate last week filed a quo warranto case before the Senate Electoral Tribunal seeking to unseat Poe from the Senate by questioning her citizenship.

Before that, personal attacks against Poe came out in a tabloid, accusing  her of being an alcoholic who had undergone rehab. The news report also said she was abusive to maids.

That she would suspect those inviting her to run for vice president ought to convince the Liberals to let her go lest she blames them for her adopted father’s loss when he ran in 2004.

Caloocan City congressman and Liberal Party spokesman Edgar Erice had to deny reports that he gave Rizalito David P1 million to pursue the disqualification bid against Poe before the Senate Electoral Tribunal.

“You know, whoever is behind that text message, his purpose is for Secretary Mar and Senator Grace not to reach common ground, so I’m very sure that I’m not the one behind that because it’s been my long dream for them to be a tandem,” said Erice.

“I’ve never seen nor met Rizalito David in my entire life,” he added.

Erice said a Roxas-Poe tandem would be the “perfect team” to continue the reforms started by the Aquino administration.

As I advised a young man, whose intended ran off with another: “She’s clearly not for you. Find a batter one.” Hopefully, he will.

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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.

The NPC’s Choice: Mar or Grace?

08.13.15 Malaya

At least 26 congressmen and five governors attended the dinner, but none of the Cojuangco clan was there.”

 

 

 

By Ducky Paredes

 

 

The orders were  to size up the leading lights in next year’s presidential election came from on high: Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco and his chief executive officer in San Miguel Corp., Ramon Ang.

Sen. Grace Poe and Secrerary Mar Roxas both emerged from the meetings with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) with encouragement and support from individual party members.

The NPC would decide as a party who to support in 2016.

 After she met with the NPC, Senator Grace  said: “I think it’s more their individual capacities, like a lot of members of the NPC that I’ve known have been very encouraging.

“Just ask them because it’s hard to say who is committing,” she added.

Asked how many had committed, she said there appeared to be many, but that it would be better to ask the members about it.

Earlier, a dozen stalwarts of the NPC sat down for two hours behind closed doors over breakfast of corned beef, tapa and smoked fish first with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, President Aquino’s anointed standard-bearer, at the ruling Liberal Party’s Balay headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.

The NPC has two senators, at least 40 House of Representatives members, 14 governors, 22 city mayors, and hundreds of municipal mayors. It is the second-largest political party, after the Liberal Party (LP) of President Aquino.

In the evening, the NPC hosted Poe and Sen. Francis Escudero at the NPC headquarters in Cojuangco’s estate on Balete Drive.

Poe also said there were no formal talks about the matter. What took place was more of catching up with each other.

Asked if members had encouraged her to run, she replied: “Yes, I think a lot of them were very encouraging and supportive.”

She also said that while the gathering was for socializing, she and the members discussed problems concerning their regions, such as inadequacies in irrigation or the airport, to determine what could be done in the budget season or perhaps the next six years.

The NPC members, most of whom are local officials, know the problems at the grassroots level, she said.

She said she was the one who asked them what could be done to address the issues in their localities.

Escudero, asked in what way the NPC was encouraging, noted once more the statement of party president and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao that many members of the party are leaning toward supporting Poe if she would run for President.

At least 26 congressmen and five governors attended the dinner, but none of the Cojuangco clan was there, according to Sen. Vicente Sotto III.

“We are trying to get the pulse of the party on their tandem,” Sotto said.

Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, said the party was expected to consult members on their sentiments on the 2016 polls.

According to Davao del Sur Gov. Claude Bautista, Cojuangco and Ang directed them to sit down with Roxas to hear his political plans as part of the exploratory talks between the country’s two largest political groups.

 “As of the moment, there is no final instruction coming from boss Danding and boss Ramon. We’re just waiting for the marching orders. As good soldiers of the party, we will just abide by what the party wants,” he said.

NPC stalwarts Reps. Mark Llandro Mendoza of Batangas and Mark Enverga of Quezon confirmed that the lunch meeting was initiated by the Roxas camp amid reports that some members of the NPC were inclined to support Poe if she runs for the presidency next year.

“Secretary Mar Roxas was specifically asking us to support him,” Mendoza said. But he said he would respect the party’s final decision.

“At the end of the day, it is still the party decision that shall prevail. We will abide by the party decision,” Mendoza said.

An administration ally privy to LP meetings with its coalition partners said that the two meetings showed that the NPC was still undecided about who they would support for the 2016 presidential election.

The source added that the party would likely come out with a decision by December.

Mendoza earlier slammed the effort of Roxas’ mother, Judy Araneta Roxas, to woo support for her son from non-profit, charitable and non-political groups such as the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc.

Mendoza said members of the CSFI were being invited by Mrs. Roxas to a lunch  Wednesday  at Gloria Maris, the same venue where allies of Roxas gathered last week to show their support for the administration bet.

Aside from Mendoza and Enverga, other NPC members who joined the meeting with Roxas were Reps. Scott Lanete of Masbate, Victor Yu of Zamboanga del Sur, Susan Yap of Tarlac, Pedro Acharon Jr. of South Cotabato, Jorge Arnaiz of Negros Oriental, Aristotle Aumentado of Bohol, Evilio Leonardia of Bacolod City, Henry Pryde Teves of Negros Oriental, Mercedes of Negros Occidental, Isidro Rodriguez Jr. of Rizas, and Darlene Antonino-Custodio of South Cotabato.

The NPC is the second largest political party in the country with two senators, 47 members in the House of Representatives, 14 governors, and 22 city mayors.

LP stalwart and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, however, said the NPC could be split over the 2016 elections.

“NPC members are divided on who to support… It is possible that the party would be splintered into those supporting Roxas, Binay or Poe,” Evardone said.

Davao del Sur Gov. Claude Bautista said it was Conjuangco and businessman Ramon Ang who urged party members to meet Roxas and hear his plans.

“As of now, there is no final instruction from boss Danding (Cojuangco) and boss Ramon Ang so we’re just waiting for the marching orders. Since we are just good soldiers in the party, we will abide by what he told us,” he added.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. agreed that the NPC was playing it safe because the dominant LP will put up candidates against NPC bets in the national, local, provincial and city levels during next year’s elections.

“That is the dilemma of NPC candidates and even other members of the administration coalition,” said Barzaga of the National Unity Party, another ruling coalition member.

Amid the flurry of activity, the Palace said it is hoping the NPC coalition with the Liberal Party will continue the reforms of the Aquino administration.

“President Aquino… is hoping that the administration coalition could be maintained, especially on the aspect of the implementation of permanent reforms in the country,”  said  Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.

         

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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.

NY Global Source On RP Elections

08.12.15 Malaya

 

“Global Souce (sees) softer export demand, increasing foreign investor caution, more volatile global financial markets and risk of a stronger El Niño weather disturbance,” (and)  political uncertainties. . .  adding to the “unpleasant brew.”

 

 

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

 

The Philippine presidential election in 2016 is shaping up as a battle between “continuity” and “change” in governance without,  according to New York-based think tank Global Source, any clear front-runner yet in sight.

After President Aquino endorsed Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as his successor while framing the next presidential vote as a referendum for the “straight and righteous path,” Global Source said the aspirants would likely take guidance from their rankings in scheduled September polls of voter preference.

The Global Source commentary, dated Aug. 7 and written by Filipino economists Romeo Bernardo and Marie-Christine Tang, said the presidential election was bringing “heightened uncertainty for investors,” especially as it was emerging as a multicontender race with “no clear front-runner, specifically one who can assure bureaucrats of continuity in the executive branch, key in our view to unlocking promised state spending.”

Toward the end of his final address to Congress on July 27, the President attempted to recast the 2016 presidential election as a vote for continuity, saying that economic progress under his administration was “only the beginning” then endorsed the candidacy of a teary-eyed Roxas four days later.

“The tactic is a clever one intended to translate popular support for the President, who has managed to spring back from low ratings in the wake of the Mindanao crisis early this year, into votes for Mr. Roxas, who is lagging in presidential preference polls. If it succeeded in painting the other contender, Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is hounded by allegations of corruption, as one taking the ‘crooked’ path, so much the better,” the think tank said.

Despite the much-publicized investigations of charges of past wrongdoing, the think tank noted that Binay continued to enjoy relatively high popularity scores and in the last presidential preference poll, had a significant 11-point lead over Roxas.

“Even as the administration is trying to frame the 2016 contest as one between continuity (straight) and change (crooked), Mr. Binay, an astute politician who grew up in poverty, is playing the rich versus poor card to the hilt,” Global Source said.

Binay and Roxas had long been gearing up for this rematch since 2010 when Roxas gave way to Mr. Aquino as the Liberal Party standard-bearer only to lose the vice presidency to Binay.

“Although Mr. Binay heretofore has had the upper hand in imaginary matchups between the two, many believe that with continuing unveiling of ‘evidence’ of Mr. Binay’s vast accumulated wealth that would make his rich versus poor cry sound hollow, Mr. Roxas would quickly catch up and with the support of the administration machinery, he could soon gain the advantage,” Global Source said.

“In fact, some believe that the only thing left for Mr. Roxas to do to secure his bid is to persuade Sen. Grace Poe to be his running mate. But as Philippine presidential elections go, it is very unlikely that it will be a two-man race,” the think tank said.

At the moment, Global Source said Poe did not appear too keen to be Roxas’ running mate.

“After all, she scores the highest in presidential preference surveys and it seems that some in the administration party favors her over Mr. Roxas, seeing in her the same commitment to the straight path while offering a refreshing change from traditional politicians,” Global Source said.

Poe, a junior senator, is widely expected to team up with Sen. Francis Escudero on an independent ticket.

There has been bad blood between Escudero and Roxas, as Escudero supported Binay in the 2010 vice-presidential race.

Several political parties have reportedly offered to adopt the Poe-Escudero team but nothing has been concluded.

“Clearly though, [Poe’s] entry into the race will benefit Mr. Binay, as she and Mr. Roxas will split the votes of those supportive of the administration. To date, she remains noncommittal about her plans and with legal issues raised about her citizenship/residency eligibility, her decision may well depend on her assessment of vulnerability to disqualification down the road,” Global Source said.

Global Source was the first institution to predict that Poe, an adopted daughter of movie actors Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, could be one of the presidential contenders in 2016 after topping the senatorial election in 2013.

As the Aquino administration heads into its last mile, Global Source said reform efforts were likely to “slow to a crawl.”

In his final address to Congress, the President mentioned five priority bills—Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), rationalization of fiscal incentives, antidynasty law, unified uniformed personnel pension reform bill and the 2016 budget.

A sixth proposed measure, freedom of information bill, was not mentioned in the speech but was cited by the President a day later.

“While we are confident that the President has enough influence over Congress to ensure the timely passage of the budget and Congress itself may want to support pensions for uniformed personnel, we are less optimistic about the other bills,” Global Source said.

“If ever, the executive may need to accept watered-down versions of its proposals, like what happened to the recently enacted Cabotage Law, which limited foreign ships’ cargo handling to those coming also from foreign vessels. The BBL, meant to be this administration’s legacy, remains controversial and difficult for legislators facing reelection to support,” it said.

Overall, Global Source said, external risks have increased for the Philippine economy.

“Our outlook, which sees GDP (gross domestic product) growth at 6.1 percent in 2015 and 6.5 percent in 2016, is one of guarded optimism that considers robust domestic demand growth alongside softer export demand, increasing foreign investor caution, more volatile global financial markets and risk of a stronger El Niño weather disturbance,” Global Source said, adding that political uncertainties were likewise adding to the “unpleasant brew.”

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We, the local analysts see our young to be adept with computers and the internet and are not as


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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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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.

Sino ang Dapat Sisishin sa Sunog?

06.11.15 Abante

 

Ni Horacio Paredes

 

Hindi ko gaanong maintindihan kung baket ang Department of the Interiror and Local Government (DILG) at Department of Labor and Employment (DILG) at sinisisi ng marami sa nangyaring sunog sa Kentex sa Lungsod ng Velenzuela.

Sa totoo lamang ay maraming mga negoskyante ang nakaka-alam na ang  dapat na ginagawang pagsususri ng Bureau of Fire Prevention (BOF) sa mga opisina at pagawaan, ang karamihan ay mabibigyan na ng permit, kapag pumayag silang bumili ng  fire extinguisher. Iyan ang racket ng BFP.

Kung gusto nating maging maayos ang pagsususuri ng BFP, dapat na matigil ang ganitong gawain at dapat rin na pati na  ang plano ng factory ay tinitignang mabuti kung ang mga mangggagawa ba ay maaaring makalikas ng madali kapag nagkaroon ng sunog. Hindi dapat na dahil bumili  lamang ng fire extinguisher ay dapat nang mabigyan ang pagawaan ng permit to operate at buiseness  permit. Kung merong pangalawa at mas mataas pang palapag, dapat na merong fire escape na magagamit ang mga manggagawa upang makalikas sa sunog. Dapat rin na malalaki ang mga pintuan upang madaling makalabas ang mga manggagawa.

Sa ngayon ay wala namang magagawa ang DILG at ang DOLE tungkol sa mga bagay na ganito. Ang mga negosyante ay tinuturing na dadag-gastos lamang ang mga dapat na ginagawa ng BFP at DOLE. Sa totoo nga kung tutuusin, marami sa mga namamatay sa sunog na mga mangagawa ay wala man lamang SSS at Philhealth. Eto ang mas dapat na pinupuna ng mga nag-dedemonstrtate ngayon tungkol sa sunog ng Kentex. Eto rin ang dapat na pinag-aaksayahan ng mga demostrador tungkol sa mga pagkukulang ng mga pagawaan sa Velenzuela at iba pang lugar.

Galet na galet sila kina Kalihim Mar Roxas ng DILG at  Kalihim Rosalinda Baldoz ng DOLE Ang Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance ay nag-file ng reklamo labang kay  Roxas, Baldoz, DOLE National Capital Region Director Alex Avila, DOLE NCR Labor Compliance Officer Engineer Joseph Vedasto, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) fire chief Director Ariel Barayuga, BFP NCR director Senior Supt. Sergio Malupeng Soriano Jr., Valenzuela City fire marshal Supt. Mel Jose Lagan, at ang  chief ng Fire Safety Enforcement Section Chief Ed Groover Oculam.

Sa tingin ko rin, mali  si President Benigno Aquino III noong kaniyang sinisi  ang alkalde ng Velenzuela dahil nagbigay ito ng business permit  sa Kentex kahit hindi ito tinupad ang mga  safety standards at hindi sumunod sa  Fire Code.

Ayon naman kay Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian ang business permit ng Kentex ay hindi niya binawi dahis na rin sa ang  BFP ay wala namang sinumite sa city hall na follow-up report kahit na wala namang automatic fire sprinklers at fire detection alarm systems ang Kentex Factory.

Nakialam naman ang alkalde ng Manila na si President-Mayor Joseph Estrada kung baket ang Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) hindi sinusunod ang DILG memorandum na binibigyan ang mga  local government units (LGUs) ng timgkiling magbigay ng provisional business permits habang hinihintay ang  inspeksyon ng Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

 “It has been the practice of LGUs all over the country to issue provisional permits (good only for 30 days) to ensure that the operation of business establishments will not be hampered,” ayopn kay Estrat.

Eto ay nilalaman ng Joint DILG-DTI Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2010, dated Aug. 26, 2010 by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-05 dated Jan. 4, 2011; and a Sept. 24, 2012 BFP memorandum.

 

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Our VP Must Be Dreaming

06.12.15 Malaya

Binay at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum in Manila shocked host Marichu Villaniueva when he said that  he was still hoping to get Aquino’s support even if they belong to different political parties.”

 

By Ducky Paredes

 

I have long suspected that the Vice President is either living in another world or worse with his choices for vice President. His latest — still hoping to get President Benigno Aquino III’s support for his presidential bid in 2016 is proof that his head must be out of whack.

He has announced other names who have,  embrassedly declined –from Mar Roxas of the Liberal Parrty to Senator Grace Poeand business magnate Manny Pangilinan, who has ignored the announcement..

Binay at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum in Manila shocked host Marichu Villaniueva when he said that  he was still hoping to get Aquino’s support even if they belong to different political parties.

Nandun pa rin ang aking paniniwala na pagdating ng oras, kokonsiderahin ako; konsiderasyon man lang,” he said.

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In the investigation of the House Blue Ribbon Committee on Chinese Gambling Lord Wang Bo,  it was the House of Representatives and the Liberal Party (LP) that was clead of involvement.

Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Associate Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilberto Repizo also denied receiving money or raising funds for the House or the ruling party from the fugitive.

“There is no member of the House and there is no political party involved in this case. It is a simple summary deportation process,” Mison told the House good government committee chaired by Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez.

Mangotara said he has not met with Wang or his representative or with any House member to present an “indecent proposal” in connection with the fugitive’s case.

“As a former member of the House of Representatives and of the LP, I have to protect the integrity of our party and this institution,” he said.

Repizo apologized to the House and the ruling party for having been dragged into Wang’s case.

“This is a deportation process, which calls for compliance with the requirements of the rule of law and due process,” he said.

According to  news report, an immigration commissioner allegedly received P100 million from Wang so he would not be sent back to Malaysia, where he came from on Feb. 10, or deported to China, where he is supposedly wanted.

The tall tale wast that $10 million (about P440 million) was given for the LP, which was used the money to bribe congressmen for the approval of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Commissioner Repizo blamed Mison for the controversy saying it was the immigration boss that allowed Wang’s entry into the country.

Mison explained his decisoon to let the fugitive in so he could be turned over to the Chinese embassy.

He said he wanted Wang investigated and charged here for alleged illegal activities he committed in the country.

On March 5, the three immigration commissioners ordered the Chinese deported. But on May 21, they reversed their order and required the presentation of authenticated documents like the warrant for Wang’s arrested issued by Chinese authorities and proof of the cancellation of his passport.

Five days later, on May 26, Mison presented a draft resolution ordering again the fugitive’s deportation.

Repizo said the draft resolution made the case controversial “because we had honest differences of opinion on whether the fugitive should be deported or not.”

He said he and Mangotara disagreed with Mison’s recommendation “because the authenticated documents that we have required in compliance with rules on evidence have not been presented and the circumstances have not changed.”

* * *

The leaders of the Group of Seven nations have condemned island-building and other coercive activities in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea and East China Sea.

“We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation,” the G7 leaders said, without naming countries.

They said they were concerned about tensions in the region and called for countries to abide by international law.

“We underline the importance of peaceful dispute settlement as well as free and unimpeded lawful use of the world’s oceans,” they said.

The bloc also endorsed the Declaration on Maritime Security issued by G7 Foreign Ministers in Lübeck, Germany.

The G7 includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

China claims most of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims.

Chinese construction projects are ongoing in Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, all within Philippine territory.

That has been our line from the very beginning,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in a text message, referring to the G7 statement.

In a recent interview in Madrid, Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio expressed optimism on the outcome of the international arbitration case filed by Manila to contest China’s maritime claims.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague is expected to decide on the jurisdictional issue in August or September after hearing the case in oral arguments set next month.

 “The European Union has said that they want this dispute to be resolved in accordance with the international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Once there is a ruling we expect the EU to also support the ruling because this is a ruling of an international tribunal in which EU is a member,” said Carpio.

He said he expects the PCA to reject China’s nine-dash line.

“If the tribunal will allow the nine-dash line to stand then the law of the sea (UNCLOS) will not apply in South China Sea. If it can’t apply in South China Sea, it cannot apply in other seas/oceans because other naval powers will demand the same right as China,” he stressed.

“We cannot create an exemption because naval powers will demand also an exemption. Why is China alone being given an entire sea? India will claim the Indian Ocean,” he argued.

In the same interview, Carpio warned of possible repercussions to global economy if the territorial dispute is not settled.

“If the dispute flares up, world economy will be in danger because more than one half of the seaborne trade of the world passes through the South China Sea. And this dispute – if it flares up – will affect the entire world,” he explained.

The magistrate argued that China’s claim to a “historical right” to the waters enclosed within the nine-dash line in the South China Sea is utterly without basis under international law.

He explained that UNCLOS has extinguished all historical rights of other states within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the adjacent coastal state.

This, he said, explains why the 200-nautical mile zone is called “exclusive,” as no state other than the adjacent coastal state can exploit its resources.

China claims that Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which it calls Huangyan Island, is the Nanhai island that 13th century Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician Guo Shoujing allegedly visited in 1279 on orders of first Yuan Dynasty emperor Kublai Khan, to conduct a survey of the “Four Seas” to update the Sung Dynasty calendar system.

The supposed visit in 1279 was the only “historical” link China was claiming to justify its seizure of Panatag.

But it was exactly the same link that China was invoking to justify its claim over the Paracels groups of islands and contest Vietnam’s own claim, Carpio said in a speech during the 19th National Convention and Seminar of the Philippine Women Judges Association last March.

He also said that in a Jan. 30, 1980 document entitled “China’s Sovereignty Over Xisha and Zhongsa Islands Is Indisputable” and published in Beijing Review, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that the Nanhai island that Guo visited in 1279 was in Xisha or what is internationally called the Paracels, a group of islands more than 380 nautical miles from Panatag Shoal.

The SC justice also argued that a state could only claim “historical rights” over waters that are part of its internal waters or territorial sea.

The SC justice also said China failed to satisfy any of the conditions to claim historical rights under the general principles and rules of international law: formal announcement to the international community, continuous exercise of sovereignty over the waters it claims as its own internal waters or territorial sea, and recognition and tolerance from other states.

He added that China’s nine-dash line claim was “never effectively enforced.”

Carpio wrote the SC decision that unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines law of 2009.

The Baselines Law was passed to beat the deadline set by the UNCLOS for the country to determine its baseline and its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

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K to 12, BI Bribrery, The Chinese Bully

06.11.15 Malaya

“’May pera po ang China, kailangan po natin ng kapital [China has the money and we need capital],’ said Binay.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Among students and parents, the hottest topic today is the country’s shift to the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) program.

Under the  law by signed President Aquino in 2013, the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum requires all students to take one year of Kindergarten, six years of elementary school (Grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and two years of senior high school (Grades 11 to 12).

Some quarters have welcomed it, saying it signaled the government’s commitment to provide its citizens with a globally competitive education.

Under the current 10-year Basic Education Curriculum, most of our students, even those who had gone through four years of higher education to obtain their degrees, are not recognized as college graduates abroad because they were two years short of the total 16 years of education required internationally. Exceptions are graduates of Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines, but in some instances they, too, lost scholarships or had to take more units of study because of our outmoded education system.

K to 12 is what our education system needs at this time in our history. The global community has finally acknowledged the strength of our economy and the quality of our labor force. One way of sustaining that upward trajectory is by making sure that the youth are learning at par with the rest of the world.

But, some sectors see the additional two years of schooling as a burden that aggravates their already precarious financial situation. It is a valid concern.

There will also be two years when colleges will not have students  in Freshman and Sophomore classes for the first to years after the start of  the K to 12 program,

While tertiary institutions may have first year students by the sart of K t0 12, they will not have second and third year students. And when their students advance to second year, they will not have third year students.

Some universities worry that if they open freshman classes this year or the next, they may not have enough income to cover operational costs.

Of course, there will be problems. But despite thecurrent situation, we still believe that the time is now for the K to 12 implementation.

The K to 12 curriculum will give students the time and the resources to gain mastery of core subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Language. This will make them more confident in their academic skills.

As the new curriculum is learner-centered, students can pursue their choice of electives and specializations. They will have enough time to participate in cocurricular activities fit for their skills and their interests.

The K to 12 system will also allow parents to save on college tuition. Since Grades 11 and 12 are technically college-leveleducation, students may spend less time in university. In fact, after Grade 12, students may opt to work after having obtained Certificates of Competency or National Certificates from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. If they choose theentrepreneurial track, they may be able to put up their own businesses.

DepEd has been working double-time to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. There are obstacles but this is just par for the course in the face of any significant and encompassing change.

Are we ready for K to 12? Ready or not, we have no choice but to bite the bullet. It is time to move Philippine education on to the global future. The time to take a stand for our children’s future is now.

* * *

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas explain how P91 billion from an illegal gambling syndicate in China managed to get into the country undetected.

Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison vowed to tell all in  Tuesday’s  House probe on allegations that suspected Chinese crime lord Wang Bo paid Immigration officials millions of pesos in exchange for his release.

Wang’s release was aborted by a protest from the Chinese Embassy, which sent documents to show that Wang was a fugitive and was wanted by Interpol and Beijing for running an illegal gambling operation and for money laundering.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who represents Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in the committee on good government and public accountability that is investigating the case, said he would ask the AMLC and the BSP to verify the report from the Chinese Embassy that P91 billion in hot money from Wang’s alleged illegal gambling operations in China found its way into the Philippines.

 “I am sure this (Chinese Embassy report on Wang Bo’s operations) could have not escaped the attention of AMLC because the amount is staggering,” Romualdez said.

The embassy, in a report submitted to the Justice Department and the Bureau of Immigration, described Wang’s operation as “huge” and became a transnational crime when he expanded the illegal activities in the Philippines.

Mison accuses his deputies, Associate Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara of arranging Wang’s release, after the Chinese Embassy informed him that they and other officials had met with a representative of Wang.

Both Repizo and Mangotara denied Mison’s accusations. Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party             accused Mison instead of cutting a deal with Wang.

Umali says Mison tried to pin the blame on Repizo and Mangotara when his deal with Wang was exposed.

Mison denied the accusation and said he was willing to face any inquiry to prove his innocence.

“I will reveal the truth that it was the Chinese Embassy officials who officially relayed to me that Deputy Commissioner Repizo and other Immigration officials, met with a representative of Wang and after that meeting, they pushed for the issuance of a release order,” says Mison.

Romualdez wants the AMLC should identify the sources of funds, mostly from China, and the recipients’ banks in the country.

“What are the sources? Under what specific accounts were these transactions made and which Philippine banks them?” Romualdez said, citing questions that the AMLC and BSP must answer.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz agreed, saying the AMLC should look into the “shocking” amount of money that could have been laundered into the country.

He contrasted the AMLC’s inaction in Wang’s case to its aggressive campaign to investigate political opponents of the administration.

“It’s time AMLC and even the BSP come out and explain themselves,” Dela Cruz said.

Wang has been detained at the Bureau of Immigration jail in Taguig City since his arrest on  Feb. 10  upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Malaysia. The Chinese embassy sought the government’s assistance in apprehending Wang, saying he was wanted for illegal gambling and that his passport had been cancelled.

Wang, employed at the ELC Technology Consulting Co. Inc. based in the Cagayan Economic Zone, will remain in custody while his case is pending with the Justice Department.

His name has also been placed in the bureau’s blacklist, which bars him from returning to the country when he leaves.

* * *

Should we seriously study Beijing’s offer to bilaterally settle the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute instead of rejecting it outright, an administration senator said on Monday.

Sen. Francis Escudero says that this is a better alternative than taking a hardline stance.

“We should study any offer that would promote peace without giving up our regional, multilateral and legal moves in relation to the West Philippine Sea issue,” he said.

Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua on Friday told a select group of journalists that Beijing was also amenable to “share” with the Philippines facilities they constructed in areas they occupy in the West Philippine Sea.

Escudero’s statements was skimilar to  Vice President Jejomar Binay’s call early this year. Binay said he would try a different tack in dealing with the China problem if he is elected President in 2016.

He added that he was looking forward to striking a win-win joint venture as a result of direct talks with Beijing.“May pera po ang China, kailangan po natin ng kapital [China has the money and we need capital],” said Binay.

Beijing refuses to recognize the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction on the issue and has repeatedly insisted that claimants should approach the dispute bilaterally.

The United States has also urged China and other nations to halt reclamations there.

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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.

Totoo Kaya Ang VVS sa Halalan2016?

06.11.15 Abante

ni Horacio Paredes

Palakpak pati tenga ng mga grupong kontra dayaan sa halalan nang ihayag ng Commission on Elections (Comelec) nitong nakaraang Pebrero na maglalatag ito ng isang karagdagang proseso para beripikahin kung ang isang botante ay talagang kasama sa talaan ng mga rehistradong manghahalal.

Ang tawag dito ay Voter Verification System (VVS) at ito daw ay gagamitin para sa 2016 elections. Plano ng Comelec na maglagay ng VVS machine sa lahat ng presinto. Susuriin umano nito ang biometric data ng bawat botante bago siya bigyan ng balota at payagang makaboto.

Ang biometric data ay naglalaman ng lahat ng impormasyon tungkol sa isang botante, kasama na ang kanyang larawan at fingerprint. Bagaman maaaring dayain o pekehin ang retrato ng isang tao, hindi pwedeng mapeke ang fingerprints. Kaya ito ang magiging tiyak at mabisang paraan para salain ang mga flying voters, double registrants, ang may pekeng Voter’s ID, ang mga inalis na sa opisyal na listahan ng botante at iyong mga walang biometric records.

Naglaan ang Comelec ng P727.21 milyon para sa 23,000 units ng VVS machines. Kasama sa badyet ang bayad sa 4,135 technicians na mamahala at titingin sa operasyon ng mga ito.

Dalawa ang nag-qualify sa bidding para sa VVS na tinawag ng Comelec nitong nakaraang Pebrero. Ngunit sinasabing inirekomenda ng Comelec Technical Working Group (TWG) na i-disqualify ang isa mga ito, ang joint venture kompanya na Safran Morpho at Comfact Corporation, dahil hindi kumpleto ang isinumitenng mga requirements.

Subalit binale-wala daw ng Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) ang rekomendasyon ng TWG at idineklarang lowest complying bidder ang nasabing kompanya. Ang kaso, pumalpak umano ang VVS machine ng Morpho-Comfact sa aktwal na demonstration. Napilitan ang BAC na i-disqualify ito kaya nadeklarang qualified ang second lowest complying bidder, ang Indra Sistemas S.A. Philippines.

Ngunit sa di malinaw na dahilan, na-disqualify din ang Indra Sistemas at nang maghain ito ng protesta, sinabihan umano ito na kinakansela na ng Comelec ang VVS project! Kahit pasok sa approved bid contract (ABC) ang isinumite nitong P580 milyon bid, nagkaroon umano ng realignment sa P727.21 badyet ng proyekto at tila isasama daw ito sa badyet para sa pagbili ng mga bagong Precinct Count Optical Scanners o PCOS machines!

Ang tanong, tama ba ang hakbang na ito ng Comelec? At komporme ba sa desisyong ito ang bagong Chairman nilang si Andy Bautista?

Ayon nga sa panibagong lengguahe ng mga kabataan,  “Anyari?”  Tila pinadama lang tayo ng mga bugoy sa Comelec. Lumalabas na pinaasa lang nila tayo sa wala ipinangalandakan nilang “total elimination of election cheating in the precinct level.

May bulong-bulungan ngayon na kunyari lang daw ang pagkansela ng VVS project. Magdedeklara daw ang Comelec ng failure of bidding makaraan lang ang ilang linggo, at tatawag uli ito ng panibagong bidding. Sa ganito, mabibigyan umano ng tsansa ang Smartmatic na lumahok sa panibagong bidding. Tila kahina-hinala nga naman na ang nagtutulak ng pagkansela sa VVS project ay isang dati nang Commissioner na isa rin sa mga pumirma sa PCOS contract ng Smartmatic. Matatandaang ibinasura ng Korte Suprema ang kontratang ito.

Chairman Andy, gusto ka yatang paikutan ng mga momoy dyan sa iyong ahensya. Umaasa po sa iyo ang madlang bayan na bibigyan mo ng pinal na wakas ang matagal nang nangyayaring dayaan sa halalan.

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.

Fault-Finders Galore

 06.10.15 Malaya

“COA notes that the national government’s guarantees on loans entered by GOCCs, state financial institutions, and the private sector have not been fully disclosed.”

by Ducky Paredes

The Commission on Audit (COA) makes isue with the national government (NG) for alleged violations of constitutional provisions on transparency for failing to disclose contingent liabilities of P1.3 trillion as of December 2013.

The COA notes that  Section 7, Article III, of the Constitution acknowledges citizens’ “right to the information on matters of public concern” while Section 28, Article II, mandates the state to “adopt and implement a policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

The COA points out that the national government has not reported a number of contingent liabilities, including obligations the government has assumed for various build-operate-transfer or build-lease-transfer (BOT/BLT) projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. It has also not reported the pass-on liabilities from government-owned-or-controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs).

But, isn’t it up to COA, as part of its functions,  to spot and report these things?

COA notes that the national government’s guarantees on loans entered by GOCCs, state financial institutions, and the private sector have not been fully disclosed.

In the 2013 annual audit report for the Bureau of Treasury, the COA said a total of P1,030,485,094,220.42 in contingent liabilities by the government was not disclosed, including the following: $20.728 million (P920.284 billion) from BOT/PPP projects; P32,3479,670,542.81 in outstanding guarantees issued by the Republic of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; P77,851,015,797.61 in foreign borrowings of the private, courtesy of the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) and the Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines (Tidcorp).

The COA notes that the government only declared P470.81 billion as contingent liabilities, consisting of P466.87 billion as “NG direct guarantee on GOCC loans” and P3.94 billion as “GFI guarantee assumed by NG. These are the figures in the Debt Analysis and Monitoring Division (DMAD) of the Bureau of Treasury as of Dec. 31, 2013. The COA chided government for failing to reveal larger exposures in its report.

Among the major BOT/BLT projects listed by the COA with the biggest project costs were: 38 power projects (27 completed and 11 ongoing) by the National Power Corporation and Philippine National Oil Corporation-Energy Development Corporation, totaling $8.701 billion;10 transport/road projects totaling $3.503 billion, including MRT Line 7 ($1.235B), Daang Hari-SLEX Link ($43.5M), and the Tarlac-La Union Toll Expressway Project ($35M); Five water supply projects by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the Bohol Provincial Government, the National Irrigation Administration, the Clark Development Corp., and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, with a combined value of $7.839 billion;Seven information technology (IT) projects with a total cost of $1.577 billion, including database infrastructure and automation of the National Statistics Office, the Land Registration Authority, and the Bureau of Immigration ($1.5 billion); the database infrastructure of the Land Transportation Office ($75 million); and various IT projects by the local governments of Pampanga, Malabon City, and Koronadal City ($1.92 million); Nine property development projects by the LGUs of Bocaue, Cagayan de Oro City, Quezon City, Mandaluyong City, the Philippine National Railways, the National Housing Authority, and the Department of Tourism ($449.86 million); and the Talisay City Hall building project ($4 million).

The COA said it was informed by the Bureau of Treasury that the bureau does not monitor loans drawn by the private sector.

COA enjoined the Bureau of Treasury to comply with the “transparency provisions” in Article 7 of the Constitution.

* * *

Survivors of the Kentex fire and their families demonstrated before the Office of the Ombudsman to ask the antigraft body to investigate the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for possible liability over the seven-hour fire at the slippers factory in Valenzuela that killed 72 people.

The survivors led by the Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance are set to file complaints against DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, DOLE National Capital Region Director Alex Avila, DOLE NCR Labor Compliance Officer Engineer Joseph Vedasto, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) fire chief Director Ariel Barayuga, BFP NCR director Senior Supt. Sergio Malupeng Soriano Jr., Valenzuela City fire marshal Supt. Mel Jose Lagan, and chief of the Fire Safety Enforcement Section Chief Ed Groover Oculam.

DOLE and DILG are being accused of failure to ensure safe work conditions for the workers of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. The complaint did not include Valenzuela city mayor Rex Gatchalian and other local government official who are actually charged with allowing businesses to operate, because some of the victims’ families took note of their kindness toward them.

President Benigno Aquino III also earlier mistakenly pinned the blame on the local government of Valenzuela for granting a business permit and certificate of occupancy to Kentex despite its noncompliance with safety standards and apparent violations of the Fire Code.

The truth is that fire inspection of local businesses has always been spotty. Local businessmen will tell you that buying a fire extinguisher from a fireman is ususally all you need to obtain a clearance.

* * *

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is asking why the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is ignoring its own memorandum allowing local government units (LGUs) to issue provisional business permits pending an inspection of the establishments concerned by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

This prompted Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to reiterate the “no fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC), no business permit” directive.

“It has been the practice of LGUs all over the country to issue provisional permits (good only for 30 days) to ensure that the operation of business establishments will not be hampered,” Estrada said in a statement.

This is covered by Joint DILG-DTI Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2010, dated Aug. 26, 2010 by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2011-05 dated Jan. 4, 2011; and a Sept. 24, 2012 BFP memorandum.

Under the memorandum circulars, mayors are allowed to issue provisional business permits while the BFP conducts an inspection of the business establishments concerned. The BFP would then report violators to the local governments which could then revoke the issued permits.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian says that Kentex’s business permit was not revoked because the BFP never submitted a follow-up report. On May 13, blaze broke out at the slipper factory in Valenzuela City, killing 72 workers. It was later found that the factory didn’t have automatic fire sprinklers and fire detection alarm systems.

* * *

Antonio Calipjo Go, academic supervisor at Marian School of Quezon City, is at it again. He says that said he has found some 1,300 errors in the newest book the DepEd had published titled “Diversity: Celebrating Multiculturism (sic) Through World Literature”—a learner’s material for Grade 10 students.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro, said “With that title, I am sure that’s the first draft.”

Luistro said the book that Go had critiqued was still in the printing process, and it had been corrected and given a new title, “Celebrating Diversity Through World Literature.”

He added that if Go truly wanted to help, he should have sent the mistakes he had uncovered in the textbook to the DepEd.

Go said in his letter that the book he reviewed was a 508-page textbook that was “recently published” by the DepEd.

Part of the measures put in place by the DepEd to avoid textbook errors, which Luistro described then as publishers’ errors, was getting its own authorsto write all learner modules owned by the department.

“As teachers use it, they may spot [an error]. We want the field to participate in the [process]. With the idea that as the years pass by, you keep on developing the material, so it becomes perfect. Not just from a point of view of a writer but actually [as a material] used in the field,” Luistro said.

“Textbooks, even though they are error-free, have to be updated every so often,” Luistro said, adding that “I don’t think we have a textbook that has no error, even typographical.”

The DepEd has “a loop where those errors can actually be noted and submitted,” he said.

“We instituted this process whereby the writers submit [the material]…. We have editors just for English or Filipino. It passes through [another] editor, proofreader. The more recent one [is someone checks on] the cultural sensitivity. Before that, the actual content [is also checked]. So, there are at least four layers of correction,” Luistro said.

“We still have problems because of the sheer volume [of the materials], there are errors that are not caught…. What’s critical are the gross errors.”

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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.

 

 

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.