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Tungkol kay Binay

Abante (05.19.15)

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Masamang-masama ang epekto sa business community ang sumi­ngaw na report ng Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) na diumano’y pag-freeze sa 242 bank accounts ni Vice President Jejomar Binay at iba pang personalidad.

Dahil dito sa kanyang speech sa National Conference of Employers, sinabi ni Vice: “It creates a chilling effect on confidence in business and banking system that is detrimental to our economy and develop­ment.”

Sa king pananaw, ang chilling effect mito ay sa mga taong merong tnatagong kwarta dahil sa hindi nila ksyang ipaliwanag kung saan nanggagling ang slapi nilang nasa bangko – saan ito nanggaling at baketnasa account nila. Kadalasan, ang mga tinatago at ayaw ipa-alam ay dahil sa eto’y kwartang suhol, kickbak o kwart ng gobiyernong kinuha nila sa kaban ng bayan.

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                Hindi natagpuan si Gerry Limlingan, ang umano’y dummy ni Vice President Jejomar Binay, sa address ng bahay na nakalagay sa isa niyang sinumpaang salaysay.Si Limlingan ang sinasabing finance officer ni Binay muna nang maging alkalde ito ng Makati City.

              Idinawit at inakusahan ni dating Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado si Limlingan na dummy umano ni Binay sa ilang negosyo at mga nakuhang ari-arian na hindi raw idineklara ng pangalawang pangulo sa kaniyang Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net worth.

              Sa affidavit, kinumpirma ni Limlingan ang address ng kaniyang bahay sa 2125 A. Luna St., Pasay City, Metro Manila.

              Pinuntahan ng mga reporter ang naturang tirahan nitong Martes at nakita ang Luna Apartments sa nabanggit na lugar. Gayunman, sinabi ng security guard na nagpakilalang “Dionio” na walang Limlingan na nakatira sa apartment. Mayroon pang isang apartment na nasa compound pero wala rin daw Limlingan na nakatira dito.

               Mula noong nakaraang taon, hinahanap ng Senado si Limlingan para padaluhin sa isinagawang imbestigasyon sa umano’y mga proyekto sa Makati na pinatungan daw ang gastos.

 

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              Sa kabila ng mga alegasyon ng katiwalian, nagdeklara si Vice President Jejomar Binay na tuloy ang pagtakbo niyang pangulo sa 2016 national elections.

             “Yung ikinakalat nila na yung panlalait sa akin, kung anu-anong kasinungalingan ang itinatapon sa amin, hindi ito magiging dahilan para ako ay umatras,” pahayag ni Binay sa mga mamamahayag matapos ang kaniyang talumpati sa National Conference of Employers nitong Biyernes.

             “Tuloy po ang laban, inumpisahan niya, tatapusin ko,” dagdag ng pangalawang pangulo.

              Una rito, inihayag ni Senador Antonio Trillanes IV na naniniwala siyang hindi na itutuloy ni Binay ang planong tumakbong pangulo sa darating na halalan dahil sa mga alegasyong ng katiwalian na hinaharap nito.

              Kamakailan lang, nagpalabas ng freeze order ang Court of Appeals para sa 242 bank accounts na pag-aari ni Binay, ilang miyembro ng kaniyang pamilya, at mga kaalyado na umano’y mga dummy ng pangalawang pangulo.

             Ang kautusan ng korte ay batay sa petisyon at inilabas na ulat umano ng Anti-Money Laundering Council na nagsagawa ng imbestigasyon sa mga nasabing bank account.

             Sa nakalipas na mga buwan, kapuna-puna na bumaba ang satisfaction ratings ni Binay sa mga survey mula nang lumabas ang iba’t ibang isyu ng katiwalian tulad ng umano’y overpricing sa pagpapatayo ng Makati City Hall Building II, Makati Science High School building, University of Makati Nursing building; gayundin ang sinasabing Hacienda Binay sa Batangas, at  umano’y mga maanomalyang transaksiyon sa Boy Scouts of the Philippines at Pag-IBIG Fund, na kapwa pinamumunuan ng pangalawang pangulo.

               Nauna nang itinanggi ni Binay at ng kaniyang kampo ang mga alegasyon at sinabing pulitika at paninira lamang ang lahat dahil sa kaniyang planong tumakbong pangulo sa 2016 elections.

                Gayunman, sa nakaraang survey ng Social Weather Station na ginawa noong Marso para sa mga posibleng tumakbong pangulo ng bansa, nangunguna pa rin si Binay na may 36 percent, at sinusundan ni Senador Grace Poe na may 31 percent.

 

            Sana naman  na maging mas matalino na ang mga botante at dapat na pipilitin niula na ang mga pinip[ili lalo na’t sa pagka-Psangulo ng bansa ay kilalang maayos na mga tao at hindi pulitikong ang layunin ay maging milyonariyo o baka pa  bilyonario. Dapat matuto na ang mga pulitiko natin na kung guato nila ng boto natin, ang dapat nilang ipkita at ang kanilang magiging panglingkod ay ang tapat sa bansang Pilipinas at hindi ang pangunugrakot upsng yumaman! Dapat mawala na sa ating lipunan ang mga pulitikong kutakot!

 

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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.

On Infrastructure Plans

Malaya (05.18.15)

“Metro .Carmageddon’ and the subsequent port congestion has started to take its toll on the public approval ratings of the once highly popular President during the homestretch of his term.”

by Ducky Paredes

Although  public spending on infrastructure and other capital outlays spiked to P276 billion last year (it was 5.4% more than 2013’s P261.8 billion)  budget secretary Florencio Abad admits that this total was 24.4% short of the P365.2-billion program for infrastructure.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in its assessment of the disbursement performance at end-2014, traced the official underspending to the “considerably low” fund use by the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), along with “weather disturbances, peace and order problems, and delayed concurrence/difficulty in securing approval from authorities…..”

Less than a week later, the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) reported that disbursements for infrastructure and other capital outlays would rise steadily this year from P94.3 billion in the first and second quarters to P100.8 billion in the third quarter and to P142.2 billion in the last quarter.

This is a total of P431.6 billion for infrastructure and public works this year, much higher than the 2014 program of P365.2 billion, accounting for 16.7% of the proposed 2015 budget of P2.559 trillion.

That Malacañang has a true sense of urgency to finally raise infrastructure spending is good news as poor road infrastructure—along with its resultant traffic congestion, especially in Metro Manila continues to dampen investor confidence despite the Philippines’ status as Asia’s newest economic star.

“Infrastructure is badly needed if economic growth is to be maintained. The implementation of PPP projects needs to be accelerated, especially on the DOTC side,”  says Henry Schumacher, executive vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP).

For John Forbes, senior adviser to the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham), “The government can’t spend enough on infrastructure fast enough. Poor infrastructure combined with fast growth will lower growth if it creates too much congestion.”

The seemingly unabated congestion at the Port of Manila resulting in large part from the failure of cargo forwarders and truck haulers to move their goods fast enough in and out of the metropolis or do business more efficiently in alternate ports north and south of the capital that poor infrastructure and the ensuing monster traffic are  major deal-breakers for prospective investors.

Even as Secretary Abad and the DBM were admitting the anemic spending on infrastructure, concerned business groups are complaining about the surfeit of charges and penalties—port-congestion surcharge (PCS), random container-cleaning fee, terminal-handling fee, container-deposit fee and container-detention charge, among others—that continue to burden them These are also caused by the government’s continued failure to unclog the capital’s ports.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Alfredo Yao notes that the surcharges slapped on businesses during the peak of the port-congestion problem amounted to $600 to $700 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU).

Citing his own conservative cost estimates, ECCP president Michael Raeuber said port-congestion surcharges at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and the South Harbor during the gridlock reached $166 million while those for trucking totalled an additional $418 million since last year.

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, who also chairs the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion, assures the Senate committee that Aquino will ease the congestion further and keep the port situation at normal level regardless of volumes by improving road access to the ports.

“Only a percentage of cargo actually goes to south or to the north (of Luzon) while a huge volume of cargo is intended for Metro Manila, majority of which is actually for the city of Manila,” Almendras said.

Almendras’ take on port congestion, which is but symptomatic of the larger problem of the entire Metro Manila’s road infrastructure woes and ensuing “Carmageddon” or monster traffic, point to the urgency for Malacañang to speed up completion of the parallel expressways being built separately by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) to connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

MPTC’s unsolicited proposal of  a 13.4-kilometer expressway linking NLEX and SLEX next to the parallel skyway now being built by SMC through its consortium with the Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. (Citra).

The SMC-Citra project did not have to go through a Swiss Challenge, is the Skyway Stage 3 of the SLEX, while MPTC’s portion involves the construction of the four-lane elevated expressway, originally via the Philippine National Railway (PNR) tracks, with three exits to connect NLEX with SLEX.

Both mega expressways are now facing delays after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Aquino recently gave its go-ahead to the North to South Railway Project (NSRP), which has two railroad components from Manila to Bulacan in Central Luzon and  from Manila to Legazpi City in Bicol.

About a week ago, DPWH Undersecretary Rafael Yabut said the completion of the two connector roads will be delayed by the entry of the North and South railway projects, as both will have to be “reconfigured” with the planned rebuilding of the railway to Southern Luzon.

This is because the railroad tracks will run parallel to the connector road now being built by SMC-Citra and to the other one that MPTC offered in May 2010 under an unsolicted proposal for the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) mode.

SMC-Citra’s Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 is a 14.82-km. six-lane skyway from Buendia to Balintawak and is due for commercial operation by 2017.

In fact, one of the country’s top construction companies—EEI Corp.—announced last May 4 that it has been tapped by SMC-Citra to build Sections 3 and 4 of its Connector Road, covering Aurora Boulevard to Quezon Avenue and Quezon Avenue to Balintawak.

MPTC’s own Connector Road project has yet to take off as government agencies—true to the DBM’s admission of the “delayed concurrence/difficulty in securing approval from authorities”—have taken years to decide on how to implement it.

MPTC’s proposal has remained on the drawing boards three years after it was conditionally approved because bureaucrats from assorted agencies have, till just recently, disagreed on how to move it on to Stage 1.

MPTC’s connector road will run from C-3 Road in Caloocan City to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila’s Sta. Mesa district.

Media reports that this project has moved back and forth through the years on the Aquino watch as the concerned agencies argued on whether to implement it via the Swiss Challenge—the normal course of action for unsolicited proposals—or the faster joint venture (JV) route between MPTC and the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC), which holds the franchise for both NLEX and SLEX.

But now that Government has finally decided—after five years of dilly-dallying—that the best way is to subject this unsolicited proposal to a Swiss challenge—which is what MPTC offered back in 2010 in the first place!—the proposed NLEX-SLEX Connector Road has had another hitch, this time the need to “reconfigure” its design in light of Government’s belated plan to use the same PNR tracks for its  P287-billion North-South Railway Project (NSRP) from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban in Manila and all the way to Legazpi City in Albay.

Phase 1 of NSRP, which was approved by the NEDA Board only last February, will involve the construction of a 36.7-kilometer elevated commuter railway  from Malolos to Tutuban, and is due for completion by the third quarter of 2020.

However, as revealed by Undersecretary Yabut, the NSRP will require design realignment or changes that will further delay both Connector Road projects.

Under the original MPTC proposal, the 13-kilometer NLEX-SLEX Connector Road would cost about P18 billion, but, according to news reports, the amount was cut to P11 billion for an eight-kilometer stretch after MPIC reached an agreement with SMC for the latter to initially shoulder the cost of the five-kilometer common alignment connecting the NLEX-SLEX connector road to SMC-Citra’s Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project.

But the need to realign the MPTC project, for one, will reportedly jack up its cost by P3 billion more to P14 billion—as both NSRP and this proposed expressway will both use the PNR right-of-way.

The two Connector Road projects will address the port congestion problem because aside from making travel by motorists and commuters to and from Northern and Southern Luzon faster and easier, both expresways will decongest Manila’s ports in encouraging the movement of cargoes or delivery of goods to the alternate ports in Batangas port in the South and the Subic and Clark freeports in the North.

Both will improve transport logistics as a result of the more efficient movement of cargoes, roll-on, roll-off (RORO) vessels, and passengers in and out of the ports located in Manila, and would reduce travel time from NLEX to SLEX to only 15 to 20 minutes.

Investors would start flocking to the country when the project is completed because it would enhance connectivity between our international airports and seaports, including the Subic freeport by way of the NLEX-Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) route, the Batangas Port via SLEX, and the Clark International Airport to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

This will, in turn, improve linkages between the key growth areas of Metro Manila, Central Luzon, North Luzon and the Clark-Subic corridor.

Experts note that the speedy implementation of the two Connector Road expressways and other major infrastructure projects will not only raise public satisfaction in P-Noy’s performance; it will also boost investor confidence by addressing the concerns of foreign and local businesspeople over undue delays in PPP and other big-ticket projects.

With barely a year left, it is only now that several PPP contracts are being bidded out.  Of 57 PPP projects drawn up in 2010, only eight have been awarded so far and all were solicited projects.

President Aquino will not realize his dream of having both Connector Road projects completed before he steps down in 2016.

Metro “Carmageddon” and the subsequent port congestion has started to take its toll on the public approval ratings of the once highly popular President during the homestretch of his term.

His Administration’s net satisfaction score, according to the March 20-23 survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), fell to +19 in the year’s first quarter from +34 during the previous quarter in 2014. His own net satisfaction rating, meanwhile, went down by over two-thirds to +11 from + 39 during the same period.

With the issues of monster traffic and port congestion obviously dragging P-Noy down to record lows on his watch, there are “surgical operations” that his alter egos in the Cabinet can perform—one of these being the fast-track implementation of the two Connector Road projects —to prevent his performance and satisfaction scores from further going south in the five remaining quarters of his presidency.

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.

AMLC Looks Into 224 Bank Accounts

Malaya (05.15.15)

“(T)he SALN of Baloloy and Limlingan were disproportionate to the values, frequency and complexity of their banking transactions.”


By Ducky Paredes

According to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report to the Court of Appeals (CA), more than P600 million in cash was deposited in the bank accounts of alleged dummies of Vice President Jejomar Binay in various transactions in a single day,

The report was part of the AMLC petition to the court to freeze 242 bank accounts, securities and insurance papers of Binay, his family and his suspected dummies, which was granted on Monday ex parte, or without hearing. It is valid for six months and is aimed at preserving assets pending investigation of corruption charges against Binay while he was mayor of Makati City, mainly stemming from the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

Asked for comment, Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado wartns the media that the Vice President’s lawyer, Claro Certeza, threatens “to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law” any one who writes abou the AMLC report and the CA order, insisting that the law mandates their confidentiality.

In the AMLC report, the amounts of P315,467,269.59, P221,436,720, P44,954,005.43 and P49,075,903.14 in cash were deposited in the various accounts of Gerardo Limlingan, Mario Oreta and Bernadette Cezar Portollano on Oct. 14, 2014.

Limlingan is reportedly the longtime financial officer of Binay.

Oreta is the president of property developer Alphaland Corp. which allegedly paid P200 million in kickbacks to Binay for a land deal in Makati for the Boy Scout of the Philippines, which the Vice President heads.

Portollano is corporate secretary of Omni Security Investigation and General Services, a security and janitorial services company, and administrator of Binay’s former company, Agrifortuna Inc.

The following day, on Oct. 15, 2014, cash deposits totaling P79,621,549.00 were also made to the alleged dummy accounts.

The AMLC report also showed that between Sept. 12 and Oct. 22, 2014, a total of P585,754,104.86 was withdrawn in over-the-counter transactions from the accounts of Limlingan and Eduviges D. Baloloy, a longtime Binay executive assistant.

The AMLC report, which became the basis of the CA freeze order, also indicated that a total of P11 billion had been recorded in the accounts of Binay, his alleged dummies and his son Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. since 2008.

The report showed that majority of the accounts bore the names of Limlingan, who was identified by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings as the person who allegedly received kickbacks for Binay when he was the Makati mayor.

Baloloy shared most of the accounts with Limlingan, with single transactions amounting to as much as P70 million.

Limlingan, Baloloy and other persons associated with the Vice President made “massive withdrawals of funds and pretermination of  investments” soon after the subcommittee conducted hearings on the alleged overpriced Makati City parking building.

A table of transactions in the AMLC report showed that between Aug. 26 and Nov. 26, 2014, a total of P909,173,584.95 in securities under the names of Limlingan and Baloloy were sold.

Between September and December 2014, a total of P1,170,086,586.69 was transferred from their two accounts to another account.

The report also stated that P3,386,189,976.45 was withdrawn from the accounts of Binay, Limlingan and Baloloy starting Aug. 20, 2014, until January 2015.

Limlingan in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) had a monthly income of P30,000, according to the report.

The report also showed that the SALN of Baloloy and Limlingan were disproportionate to the values, frequency and complexity of their banking transactions.

Some P50 million worth of investmentDescription: http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png and trust funds under their names had been preteminated. Another P565,795,485.81 representing check encashments were recorded from Aug. 22, 2014, to Jan. 12, 2015.

Withdrawals, totaling P67 million were recorded between Oct. 1 and 17, 2014, included a P10-million check on Oct. 16.

Mutual funds worth P30 million were also noted by the AMLC to have been sold on Sept. 1, 2014, under the names of Limlingan and Baloloy.

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The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay slammed his political opponents for spreading malicious reports that Binay owns all the 242 bank accounts, investments, and insurance policies being investigated by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

“It is an outright lie to say or make it appear that Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has 242 accounts as reported in media. Even based on the purported copy of the freeze order being circulated by Ernesto Mercado, there are only five accounts that mentioned the name of Vice President Binay,” Binay’s counsel Claro Certeza said.

The Court of Appeals has frozen 242 bank accounts and insurance policies belonging to Binay, some members of his family and close associates, who are suspected of being his dummies.

The appellate court granted the petition of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, which is looking into Binay’s financial transactions and those of entities being linked to him and his family.

The CA gave weight to the AMLC’s investigation that found probable cause to link the individual and joint bank accounts of the Vice President, Gerry Limlingan, Ebeng Baloloy, Antonio Tiu, some members of the Chong family, some companies linked to the Binay family, and even whistle-blower and Binay’s former close ally Ernesto Mercado.

“It is clear that the intent of this perception game is not to hold people accountable or to find the truth but to malign the reputation of Vice President Binay, as part of his opponents’ orchestrated campaign for the May 2016 Elections,” he said.

He noted how the freeze order can be easily taken out of context and that ex parte freeze order proceedings are deemed confidential in order to protect the name and reputation of concerned parties.

“It is regrettable that the strict confidentiality of a proceeding involving an ex parte petition for a freeze order is being brazenly violated. It is very easy to take a freeze order out of context in order to destroy the name and reputation of a person because a freeze order is issued based solely on the representations of AMLC,” he said.

“The respondents are not yet given the opportunity to be heard. It is for this reason that, according to the law and the congressional deliberations, ex parte freeze order proceedings must be strictly confidential, with those violating the confidentiality rule being liable for contempt as well as criminal prosecution,” Certeza added.

He said the AMLC “misled the Court of Appeals” by deliberately omitting and concealing several details about Binay’s bank accounts.

“It is apparent from the purported copy of the freeze order that the AMLC deliberately misled the Court of Appeals by omitting the fact that Vice President Binay received campaign contributions in the amount of P231 million and incurred expenses in the amount of P218 million through his designated banks accounts which were all duly reported in his Statement of Campaign Contributions and Expenses filed with the Comelec,” he said.

“The AMLC was also not truthful with the Court of Appeals because it deliberately concealed the fact that Vice President Binay and his wife were earning additional income from their respective businesses in addition to the Vice President’s salary. All these information were duly reported in the Income Tax Returns of the Vice President that span for almost three decades and on file with the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” Certeza added.

Certeza said they will file criminal charages against media outfits that published or reported the Court of Appeals order.

Certeza cited Section 14 (d) of Anti-Money Laundering Act (Republic Act 9160 as amended by R.A. 9194), which provides that “in case of breach of confidentiality that is published or reported in media, the responsible reporter, writer, president, publisher, manager and editor-in-chief shall also be criminally liable under the act.”

“We will prosecute to the fullest extend of law any party that published or reported or commented on the report of the AMLC and the order of the Court of Appeals,” the lawyer said.

Certeza did not identify the media outfits that would be charged, but the freeze order story came out in primetime news programs of ABS-CBN 2 and GMA 7, and published by a newspaper. He also did not say when and where the cases would be filed.

However, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says that there was no breach of confidentiality rule on this case.

“There is only prohibition of disclosures if the case is still under investigation of AMLC. I don’t think such prohibition applies to reporting by media of a court case – especially issuance of a court order like freeze order. I think media has the right to report those developments in the case,” De Lima said.

Former Binay ally and Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and officials of the Liberal Party were reportedly the sources of the copies of the CA order reported by the media.

            LP secretary general and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said the CA is part is part of the judiciary which is independent of the executive and legislative branch.

Sarmiento also reminded Binay’s camp that the CA, which is now being accused of conspiring with the administration to freeze some P600 million bank deposits of the Binays, is also the same constitutional body that granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the Ombudsman’s decision to suspend Makati Mayor Junjun Binay for six months.

“How can they accuse the CA of conspiring with the administration to cripple the finances of the Binays when in fact the CA is an independent constitutional body which is beyond the ambit of powers of the executive? Did they hear us claiming conspiracy when the CA granted a TRO to stop the suspension of Makati Mayor Binay?” Sarmiento said in a statement.

Sarmiento said that the CA decision to freeze the assets of the Binays is based on the merits of the petition filed by the AMLC, which was created by law to assist in the investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in any unlawful activity including graft and corruption.

Sarmiento pointed out that all the legal woes of the Binays did not come from LP or from any member of the administration but originated from their former minions and political allies who have finally decided to come out and expose their alleged misdeeds.

Senator Francis Escudero said Binay should not hind behind the AMLC bank secrecy and confidentiality rules.

“If true, this is no longer a mere allegation being hurled at him by a political opponent but, rather, a serious accusation that he should answer and address squarely,” said Escudero in a text message to reporters.

Escudero, a member of the majority bloc in the Senate, aid Binay should no longer ignore or sweep the allegations of corruption under the rug.

“He owes the people nothing less,” said Escudero, who campaigned for Binay in the 2010 vice presidential race.

Escudero had a falling out with Binay when he ran in 2013 under President Benigno Aquino III’s Team Unity.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the confidentiality rules prohibit employees and officials of the covered institutions from revealing to the public what they report to the AMLC.

“That is the prohibition, I repeat is on the employees and officers of banks or other covered institutions, they are prohibited from revealing the reports of covered transactions that they make to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.”

Furthermore, he said the third prohibition is on the revelation of the filing of the petition in the CA, of the petition for a freeze order.

“However, once the order is issued for the freeze, there is no prohibition. The confidentiality rule does not apply because then you already infringe on the freedom of the press. There is no more public interest to be served by prohibiting the publication,” Drilon said.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said once assets are freeze, it’s an indication that there’s a prima facie case.

“He can still that it came from legitimate activities. It will then depend on the evidence in the succeeding hearings,” said Angara.

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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.

PAMUSA Writes Us a Letter

When the U.S. lawsuits are filed and reverberate across the nation for those who may be found guilty of graft and corruption who almost surely would negotiate plea bargain with all their illicit assets in the States confiscated.”

 

By Ducky Paredes

 

            This is a letter from Francisco Wenceslao, President of the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa):

“Sad to say, when asked the two good Presidents the Philippines has had, the choices were Marcos and Ramos. Marcos would’ve been the best if not of martial rule that prolonged the time for him and cronies’ to rob the country. Had he served his constitutional limit, his ill-gotten wealth could’ve been moderated which would’ve been compensated by his use of presidential power to control abuses of politically influential families, e.g. the Lopezes. But because Marcos stayed in power for too long, he lost control, for instance, of Kokoy Romualdez enriching himself.

“With regards to Binay, suffice it to say President Aquino will have residual power to the last day of his presidency to pull the rug under Jojo Binay’s and other aspirants’ feet especially with evidence of graft and corruption building up against the VP and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.  If the President agreed, the overwhelming evidence against Binay Sr. and Jr. of corruption, bribery and fraud gathered by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Ombudsman can be filed simultaneously with the Sandiganbayan and in the U.S. under international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) such as the UNCAC and PHL-USA Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Because of the more serious nature of felonies they are charged, the U.S. get the priority to investigate and extradite the Binays to the U.S. to await trial like Panama’s former President Manuel Noriega.     

“Add to the evidence against the Binays the evidence of the graft and corruption cases including plunder against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ex-Marcos trade and industry minister Roberto Ongpin, the three Senators, House members and other government officials implicated in the pork barrel scam including Napoles herself will suffice for the new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s to broaden the U.S. Department of Justice’s (USDOJ) current Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and file in the U.S. the corresponding lawsuits to recover the illicit assets the accused are charged and the civil restitution for their illegal acts probably with millions of dollars of fines a U.S. court might impose. Hence, no businessman will touch Binay with a 10-foot pole while regular contributors to his campaign funds will get lost.

“Realizing he’s beaten before the May 2016 elections are held, the Binays will probably plead for mercy, resign their positions and renounce ever running for office again.

“When the U.S. lawsuits are filed and reverberate across the nation for those who may be found guilty of graft and corruption who almost surely would negotiate plea bargain with all their illicit assets in the States confiscated like Sen. Lito Lapid’s wife who was convicted of bulk cash smuggling in Las Vegas, current and former government officials, their close associates and family members including private businessmen and individuals who used to contribute to the Binays’ campaign funds would be like St. Peter when he denied knowing Jesus on his way to crucifixion.

“With Mar Roxas’ campaign well-organized at home and overseas especially in the U.S., it won’t be difficult anymore for Pamusa to raise funds for the “War against Graft and Corruption” now awaiting President Obama’s approval which will focus on poor Southeast Asian countries centered in the PHL and probably spearheaded by PamusaOther presidential aspirants like Grace Poe may be imbued some sense and decide to give way to Mar as it would be more prudent to declare for Mar to unite our people solve our difficult national problems and wait for 2022 for her turn.

            “With Pamusa’s support Mar’s supporters including those “sitting on the fence” will be pleased to know the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), is a U.S. constitutional law case dealing with the regulation of campaign spending by organizations. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the First Amendment of the U.S.prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation. The principles articulated by the Supreme Court in the case have also been extended to for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations. The decision has been thoroughly tested in the last U.S. 2010 midterm elections resulting in President Obama’s Democratic Party losing both Houses of Congress to the Republican Party because of the latter’s allegedly unlimited funds to spend. The decision has been stretched abroad in the recent Israeli elections with the White House’s allegedly funding an NGO for the ouster of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to news reports, a US State Department grant of $350,000 to the OneVoice Movement which allegedly forwarded the money to its subsidiary in Israel called Victory 15 (V15) committed to ousting Netanyahu due to the PM being an obstacle to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, brokered by the US. Like past accusations made in every U.S. election, the OneVoice Movement funding and its support for Netanyahu’s opponent will soon be forgotten.

“Call it superstition but I firmly believe in the Almighty intervening in the life of the Filipino nation. After Aquino’s failure to use his God-given advantages that could’ve reduced graft and corruption and opened up Philippine economic opportunities for self-sustaining growth, it’s indeed providential it takes the U.S. Supreme Court decision for Mar to correct the nation’s mistakes in the past.

           The private businessmen and individuals cc’d with this email and the others they can reach should be informed that President Obama’s War against Graft and Corruption” may well be Mar Roxas’ main platform, thus make him unbeatable for the 2016 elections.

“Everybody is welcomed to ride his bandwagon but must first show true repentance of past involvement in graft and corruption. How? They can write or email me for guidance, thank you and God bless us all. “

* * *

By the way, I disagree with the Vice Presidenrt in his speech before businessmen on the AMLC probe: “It creates a chilling effect on confidence in business and banking system that is detrimental to our economy and development.” I believe that, more than likely, the chilling effect will be on the crooks and the outright corrupt in government!

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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.

‘Magingat Kayong Kontra Binay’ – Atty. Certez

Abante (05.16.15)

ni Horacio Paredes

Ang dating sagot ni Vice President Jejomar Binay sa mga hinala na kumita siya sa ilang transaksyon ay ang mg eto raw ay mga paninira lamang at walang katotohanan. Ngayon namang lumabas na ang Anti-Money Laundering Commission (AMLC) ng mga tinago niyang kayamanan, kakasuhan raw ni Vice ang mga magbalita sa pangyayari. Parang mali, ‘di ba?

Ayon nga kay Senador Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero hindi umano dapat magtago si Vice President Jejomar Binay sa likod ng ‘bank secrecy law’ dahil naglabss na ang  Court of Appeals (CA) ng freeze order sa kanyang mga bank accounts.

“If true, this is no longer a mere allegation being hurled at him by a political opponent but, rather, a serious accusation that he should answer and address squarely,” ‘ika ni Escudero. “He should no longer ignore nor sweep this under the rug. Neither should he hide behind secrecy/confidentiality rules on AMLC/bank deposits. He owes the people nothing less.”

Sinabi naman ni Senador Antonio Trillanes IV:.“The freeze order is but validation of the corruption allegations against VP Binay. I’m just curious to find out how his spokesmen would choke on their explanations on this one.”

Sinabi naman ni Senador Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III: “Klarong-klaro na as a result ‘yan ng Senate hearings or investigations.”

Bukod sa CA, may ilang ahensiya na rin ng gobyerno ang kumilos sa mga impormasyon na lumabas nang ginagawang­ pagdinig ng Senado sa alegasyon ng korupsiyon laban kay Binay.

“Si Antonio Tiu may tax evasion case sa BIR at DAR, tinitingnan na ang implementation ng land reform sa Rosario Batangas property, ang Ombudsman kinikilusan ‘yung complaint for plunder, at ngayon na-trace na ang transactions. Marami nang bunga o resulta dahil sa hearing sa Senado,” saad ni Koko.

“‘Yung pagdating sa bank transactions, saan galing ‘yan, gaano kalaki ‘yan, ipapaubaya ko na sa Anti-Money Laundering Council or Ombudsman kasi malilihis na ako sa topic,” wika pa nito.

Subalit paliwanag nito, ang freeze order ay hindi ‘indication of guilt’ kundi isa lang ‘self-defense mechanism’ ng estado para ma-preserve ang diumano’y ‘ill-gotten wealth’.

Mariin namang itinanggi ng Liberal Party (LP) na may kinalaman ang mga ito sa ‘freeze order’ na ibinaba ng CA sa mga bank account ni VP Binay, asawa nitong si Dra. Elenita at anak na si Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay at iba pa.

“Walang kinalaman d’yan ang LP,” pahayag ni LP at Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice matapos palabasin ng kampo ni Binay na may kinalaman umano ang LP.

“Natatakot lang siya (VP Binay) sa sariling multo kaya kung sino-sino ang kanilang inaakusahan na may kagagawan sa freeze order sa kanilang mga bank account,” pahayag ni Erice.

Iniligaw diumano ng Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) ang CA nang itago nila ang impormasyon hinggil sa iba pang ‘source of income’ ni VP Binay at misis na si Elenita.

Ito ay ayon kay Atty. Claro Certez, legal counsel ng mga Binay, kasunod ng ulat na naglabas ng freeze order ang CA sa 242 bank accounts ni Binay, mga kapamil­ya nito at iba pang mga personalidad na ginawa nitong ‘dummies’.

Sa tlotoo lamang, wala namang nagsabi na 242 ang bank account ni Vice. Ang 242 ay mga bank account ng Pamilyang Binay at ng kanilang mga  alipores!  Ganiyan kagaling ang AMLC!

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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.

Panalo si Mayor Bayron, Ping Lacson

Abante (05.12.15)

ni Horacio Paredes

Nagwagi sa ginanap na recall election si Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron kontra sa nagprotestang si dating mayor Edward Hagedorn sa Palawan City. Sa totoo lamang hindi na dapat na pinayagan pa ang recall election. Nagkagastos pa ang gobiyerno dhil lamang sa kagustohan ng dating Mayor Hagedon ng Puerto Princesa
Si Bayron ay iprinoklama ni Atty. Georgia Vitaliano ng Commission on election (Comelec) bilang nagwaging alkalde.
Nakakuha si Bayron ng botong 44,299  habang nakakuha lang ng 39,002 si Hagedorn.
* * *
Humanga ako sa sinulat ni Jake Macasaet tungkol kay Ping Lacson kung kaya uulitin ko rito ang ilan sa mga puntos nang sinulat ni Jake sa Abante noong Linggo
“Tinanggihan  ni Ping Lacson ang P200 million pork barrel bawat taon sa 12 taon niyang panunungkulan bilang senador. Sa isip niya ang paggamit ng pork tulad ng pagpapagawa ng maliliit na kalye, basketball court, palengke at marami pang iba ay tungkulin ng mga tauhan ng Pangulo.
“Bukod  duon, alam ni Ping na marumi ang paggamit ng pork. Hindi niya mababantayan ang bidding sa isang proyekto na pork ang kuartang gagamitin. Halos lahat ng bidding na pork ang gamit ay lutong macaw.”
* * *
“Kahit isang salita walang narinig kay Ping. Kung siya ay pulitikong mapagsamantala dapat sinabi niya na “alam ko iyan ang mangyayari kaya hindi ako tumanggap ng pork”. Hindi niya sinabi na marumi ang paggamit ng pork pero napatunayang marumi nga sa ginawa ni Napoles.
“Hindi marami ang tao na nakakaunawa ng dangal at linis ng mga mambabatas na tulad ni Ping. Matatandaan na nuong siya ay PNP Chief sinabi niya na dalawang klase lang ng tao ang magdadala ng baril: Ang mga pulis at mga kriminal.
“Nuon ding panahong iyon inalok siya ng mga jueteng lord ng P5 million bawat buwan. Tumanggi siya.”
* * *
“Ilan sa mga pulitiko natin ang ganyan ang pagkatao? Si Ping lamang at si Sen. Grace Poe na tahimik na tumutupad ng tungkulin bilang mambabatas pero hindi sumasali sa pa­sikatan sa harap ng TV camera sa maraming imbestigasyon ng Blue Ribbon Committee ng Senado.
“Nabalita na may ambisyon si Ping na kumandidato muli sa pagka-Pangulo. Pero tahmik pa rin siya at binabasa ang puwedeng mangyari sa botohan kung ipagpatuloy niya ang kandidatura.
“Hindi pa maunawaan ng maraming tao na ang mga tapat sa tungkulin ay hindi nagpapasikat sa TV o diyaryo. Trabaho lang ang ginagawa. Nagbabayad ng utang si Ping sa mga botanteng naghalal sa kanya.
“Panahon na para suriin natin ang tunay na pagkatao ng mga kandidato sa pagka-Pangulo. Balikan natin at pag-aralan ang kanilang record sa panunungkulan. Dapat ang mga malilinis at tahimik na naglilingkod sa bayan ang ihalal. Hindi iyong mga mai­ingay at pasikatero na nagwawaldas ng kaban ng bayan tulad ng pagkawaldas ng pork sa paggamit kay Janet Lim-Napoles bilang tulay.
“Sa tingin ko si Ping ang karapat-dapat. Lalo na kung makukumbinsi si Grace Poe na tumakbo bilang Bise Presidente ni Ping. Sila ang tamang team. Wala ng iba.
“Ang inaasahan ko kung itutuloy ni Ping ang kanyang kandidatura, maraming tao ang tutulad sa kanya na hindi maghihintay ng kapalit. Para sa bayan lang.”
Sana’y magkatotoo.
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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.

On OFW Mules, Presidential Appointees

Malaya (05.12.15)

“Congressman Mark Villar notes that in 1993, there were only two recorded Filipinos arrested abroad for drug trafficking. Now, the figure ballooned to 710.”

by Ducky Paredes

Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, vice chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, is alarmed over the “noticeable trend” that more Filipino drug couriers are being exploited by drug trafficking syndicates.
“Of the 710 arrested, 265 or 37 percent are males, while 445 or 63 percent are females. Women are usually targeted by syndicates since they generally generate mild suspicion from authorities and the female body has more cavities possible to insert drugs in, therefore posing less detection risk,”  said the
Quoting the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) he said the number of Filipinos victimized as drug couriers by international drug trafficking syndicates is increasing “at an alarming rate.”
Congressman Mark Villa notes that in 1993, there were only two recorded Filipinos arrested abroad for drug trafficking. Now, the figure ballooned to 710.
Villar, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, said Congress should also look into recent reports that human traffickers and illegal recruiters have joined forces with drug syndicates to target OFWs heading for Southeast Asian countries as drug couriers.
“There is a need to look into these reported increase of human trafficking and illegal recruitment of our overseas Filipino workers for the purpose of carrying drugs abroad,” he said.
While we now look with abhorrence at Indonesia’s firing squad to deal with  drug lords, one notes that one Lim Seng, in the 1960s, in Manila was a struggling restauranteur in the when he dove into the heroin business.
There was then, as now, a growing heroin trade among Manila students, leading to the 1972 Ati-Drug Law under which Lim Seng was arrested days after martial law came down that September. He faced a military, rather than a civilian trial.
Naturally quite wealthy from his enterprise, he evidently believed up until the last moments that he could buy his way out of execution. Little did he understand that he had been ticketed to demonstrate the incipient dictatorship’s iron fist.
Should we go back to this Martial Law punishment that has obviously worked well for Indonesia? Death to drug dealers!
* * *
Malacanang defends the appointment of Sheriff Abas, a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), saying there was no MILF influence.
“Obviously, what some people are trying to imply is that it was influenced by the MILF, which… was not, because you can see also that Commissioner Abas was already in government (prior to his appointment),” Valte said.
She noted Abas served at the Civil Service Commission in Cotabato and most of his professional life had been spent in government.
As for Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista, Valte said they were confident that he could hurdle the Commission on Appointments (CA) despite criticisms that he was not an election lawyer.
“And also the record of Chair Bautista will bear out his credentials… His CV (curriculum vitae) will bear out his competence. I understand that there are some other, I guess we could call it ‘observations’ at the very least, but Chair Bautista is ready to face the CA,” Valte said.
In Bacolod city, newly-appointed Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon also dismissed allegations that her appointment will favor the administration in next year’s election as she appealed to politicians and would-be candidates to discipline their leaders, campaigners and supporters to ensure peaceful, orderly and credible elections in 2016, saying “elections in the Philippines can be very violent.”
Guanzon, a former mayor of Cadiz City in Negros Occidental, met with the province’s local election officers in Bacolod City on Friday.
Asked how the 2016 poll would be conducted, Guanzon said the Comelec agreed in a meeting last week to push for automation.
“With an automated election, there is less margin of error and less opportunity of cheating inside the polling place,” she stressed.
She said even the election officers prefer automated elections because it is faster and orderly.
Guanzon said the Comelec will conduct two simultaneous public biddings – for the refurbishment and diagnostic of the precinct count optical scanner (PCOS) machines and for the purchase of additional 100,000 new units – as soon as the documents are prepared.
She hinted though that the Comelec prefers refurbishment because it is less costly than buying new ones.
Senate President Franklin Drilon brushed aside allegations made by the opposition’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that the ruling Liberal Party will benefit from Guanzon’s appointment, she being a close ally of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who may seek the presidency next year.
While Drilon admitted knowing Guanzon, who used to be his colleague at the ACCRA Law firm, he stressed that she is both competent and independent.
* * *
The President ignored the top choice of the Judicial and Bar Council and appointed an assistant solicitor general over three judges and a Department of Justice undersecretary as associate justice of the Sandiganbayan.

“We’d like to announce that the President has appointed the Honorable Sarah Jane T. Fernandez as Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan. The President signed the appointment last May 5, 2015,” Malacanang announced..
It was the first presidential appointment to be announced by the Palace after the public criticism that met the appointment of little-known lawyer Sheriff Abas to the Commission on Elections, who  turned out to be a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
A lawyer since 1994, the 45-year-old Fernandez was chosen from a short-list that included Muntinlupa City Judge Philip A. Aguinaldo, Makati City Judge Mary Ann Manalac, Quezon City Judge Bernelito R. Fernandez and Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano.
Aguinaldo, a former Ilocos regional prosecutor and DOJ senior state prosecutor, was the favored candidate of the JBC with seven votes along with Corpus-Manalac, 2013 winner of the Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano Award for outstanding regional trial court judges.
The two Fernandezes each got six votes while Justiniano had five.
The new Sandiganbayan magistrate is the youngest sister of Dagupan City’s first female mayor Belen Fernandez, president of the CSI mall chain and one of the top ranking officials of the Liberal Party in vote-rich Pangasinan province.
The new magistrate graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree of B.S. Legal Management and was conferred a Juris Doctor degree by the Ateneo in 1994. She also holds a Master in Management from the Asian Institute of Management and is an alumna of the Divine Word Academy of Dagupan.
The new justice joined the Office of the Solicitor General in 1995 as an associate solicitor and, as a full-pledged solicitor in 2006, was part of the team which successfully defended the Reformed Value Added Tax (RVAT) cases before the Supreme Court.
Like her politician-sister, the new justice also joined public life during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo, who appointed her assistant solicitor general in 2006.
Valte said Fernandez was chosen to replace Associate Justice Gregory Ong who was dismissed by the Supreme Court last year over his alleged links to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Interestingly, the family of the new justice is closely associated with former Dagupan Mayor Alipio Fernandez and has consistently opposed former Dagupan Mayor Benjamin Lim.
Valte said Fernandez’ appointment paper, dated May 8 and signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., has already been sent to Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
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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.

Senate Worries About Defense, The New Comelec

Malaya (05.11.15)
“‘We do not question the appointment of the President of anyone, we just want to raise a question: why now?’ asks Sultan Firdausi Abbas, MBAP president.”

by Ducky Paredes

The Senate national defense and security committee pushed finally faced up to our defense problems and called for an accelerated modernization of our armed forces to be able to put up a credible defense against Chinese agression in the Western Philippine Sea.
This was the assessment of Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV, the committee chair after a three-hour hearing on the land reclamations and dredging operations by China on disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“It is clear that we modernize the AFP and accelerate it due to the potential threat to national security. There is no debate there,” he said. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang pressed lawmakers to increase the budget and annual cost of modernizing the AFP.
The government has spent only P63-billion to modernize the AFP since 2002, since 13 years ago. That’s a pittsnce compared to what our neighbor countries have been spending
Cesar P. Garcia Jr., director-general of the National Security Council (NSC),  told the Senate committee that “with the reports of massive reclamation projects by China in our exclusive economic zone, it is now very clear that our territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea has in fact overtaken all security issues in our  hierarchy of national security concerns.”
Trillanes, a former Navy officer, agreed with Garcia’s assessment and believed the country “should have at least a minimum credible defense posture or at least a minimum deterrent capability so that they could not just come in and out of our territory.”
Seven of the islands reclaimed by China are “very close to Palawan” rather than to Hainan island in the southeastern most portion of China, say our defense officials.
The new islands rising in the South China Sea has gotten the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) worried.
A series of satellite images, the latest of which were taken in February and March and released by defense publication IHS Jane’s show that China has intensified the construction of artificial islands by dredging sand from submerged coral reefs and building up land mass, sometimes doubling or tripling the size of existing features. Among at least half a dozen islands being reconstructed, work on Fiery Cross Reef has attracted most attention because of its speed and scale. According to Jane’s, the new island is already big enough for a 3,000-meter (9,500-foot) runway able to accommodate big military planes.
* * *
Shaking off jet lag, President Aquino rallied Filipinos in the US to chase the “Filipino dream” of a better Philippines beyond 2016.
“The future of the Philippines is in your hands,” the President told the Filipino community at JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Chicago, stressing the significance of the 2016 presidential vote in perpetuating the administration’s reforms.
Ahead of the President’s visit, Chicago-based accountant Edilberto Ortiz posed the question for Aquino: “Is this good government going to continue?”
“There’s a saying: You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Aquino said, raving about the Philippines’ accomplishments.
Under “good governance,” he reported that the Philippines has gone from being Asia’s “sick man” to the region’s “darling,” and has seen investor confidence rise, “untouchables” go to jail, and unfinished infrastructure projects completed.
While not promising to solve everything before he steps down in June 2016, Aquino said it was clear Filipinos were reaping the fruits of the reforms his administration had sown.
“Surely, even the next administration will reap what we [have sown], that is if the straight path doesn’t turn crooked, and if you pick the right leaders as you [did] in 2010,” he said.
“I get blamed for a heavy downpour, and for heavy traffic on Edsa. I even get blamed for Manny Pacquiao’s recent loss,” he said, drawing chuckles from the Filipinos.
But then again, the President said, Filipinos “[could] not be fooled.”
“I’m confident that like in 1986, and in 2010, come 2016, you’ll be there to carry on what we’ve started. Our goal is not to go back to the rotten system, but to continue our country’s transformation,” he said.
And there’s no other way to achieve this but for all Filipinos to band together “whichever part of the world you are in,” he added.
“Let’s continue to chase the Filipino dream: a Philippines that is not only full of zest, enthusiasm and goodness, but of opportunities to better one’s self and country, and contribute to a better world,” he concluded.
The President kicked off his working, whirlwind visit to Chicago by receiving Mayor Rahm Emanuel at JW Marriott on Wednesday afternoon. He’s flying Thursday morning to Canada for a three-day state visit.
Emanuel presented Aquino with a city council resolution welcoming him to the Windy City, citing his phenomenal ascension to the presidency and achievements as a leader, before they sat down for a chat.
It was Emanuel’s first day at work after he was reelected for a second term in April. Emanuel is a former White House chief of staff to fellow Chicagoan President Barack Obama. He was elected mayor of Chicago in 2011.
“He said, ‘I am your admirer for being outspoken and clear-eyed on important issues affecting your country,”’ Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, quoting Emanuel.
After the meeting, Aquino motored to the nearby TransUnion headquarters for a roundtable discussion with executives of the US Chamber of Commerce, US Asean Business Council and the National Center for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).
Aquino ditched a prepared speech and forthwith asked them about their experiences in doing business in the Philippines, and how else this could be improved, Coloma said.
David Neenan, president of International TransUnion, expressed appreciation for the government’s thrust of promoting inclusive growth. TransUnion, he said, has been working with Land Bank of the Philippines in helping small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs gain access to financing.
The other executives expressed interest in doing or expanding business in the Philippines, and Aquino discussed areas that needed their expertise.
Thomas La France, senior executive of GE Transportation, spoke about possible investments in infrastructure development, Coloma said.
President Aquino replied that being an archipelagic country, the Philippines needs to improve connectivity by expanding the existing nautical highway, improving roll-on, roll-off and port facilities. Possiblities for improving the country’s railway system were also mentioned.
Ralph Carter, Federal Express managing director for legal, trade and international affairs, talked about his company’s involvement in improving the Philippines’ links with the global supply chain.
Julie Hoeniges of Caterpillar spoke about expanding her company’s business in mining, while Michael Fernandez of Cargill raised the possibility of raising his company’s investments in the agribusiness field, Coloma said.
“Monica Whaley, president of the National Center for Apec, lauded the Philippine government’s path-finding initiatives in promoting financial inclusion across all spheres of socioeconomic activity,” Coloma said.
At the end of the discussion, Marc Mealy, vice president for policy, US-Asean Business Council, gifted Aquino with a red Chicago Bulls jersey and a green Boston Celtics jersey. Having lived in Boston with his family during martial law, Aquino is a Celtics fan.
Members of the Chicago-based militant group Anakbayan staged a rally in front of JW Marriott, calling for the President’s resignation, renewing the group’s constant refrain.
When he faced the gathering of Filipinos, Aquino cracked jokes, and afterward stayed longer to pose for group pictures with them on stage, smiling and pressing flesh.
“I got excited when this visit was confirmed. I thought, this is my chance at tasting your deep-dish pizza,” he said to chuckles.
The Philippines has grown by leaps and bounds, the President said, since the administration adopted good governance as its rallying cry. Sadly, this good news has never “trended” on social media, hence, it must not only be “liked” but “shared” on Facebook, said the President.
So far, the government has filed 637 cases under the Revenue Integrity Protection Service, Run After Smugglers and Run After Tax Evaders programs, Aquino said.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the news that our politicians who are untouchable are now in jail, if not under hospital arrest,” he said.
Even corruption-ridden agencies, such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, have turned a new leaf, he added.
“Our basic principle: Good governance equals good economics, equals good-quality inclusive growth. That’s why we should forget our tag as Sick Man of Asia; we’re now called the Darling of Asia,” he said.
“The country has achieved investment grade status and risen in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, and according to Bloomberg, is poised to become the second fastest-growing economy,” he added.
From 2010 to 2014, the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an average of 6.3 percent, Aquino said.
“We’re targeting 7 to 8 percent GDP growth this year,” he said.
According to the the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Philippines will continue to be the “exception” in Asia and in the world as its economy is expected to continue its upward growth momentum.
“We see falling potential growth in the world and in Asia in general, but the Philippines is an outlier,” IMF resident representative Shanaka Jayanath Peiris said in a briefing.
IMF’s current estimate of the Philippines’ annual potential growth is at six to 6.5 percent. Peiris said the IMF would update this figure during its Article IV Consultation slated next week.
The IMF last month increased its forecast for Philippine economic growth this year to 6.7 percent from an earlier projection of 6.6 percent. The latest estimate is faster than the 6.1 percent expansion recorded last year but still short of the government’s seven- to eight-percent target for 2015.
For next year, the IMF expects economic growth to slow down to 6.3 percent, also below the government’s seven to eight percent target for that period.
The Philippines should remain as Southeast Asia’s growth driver this year until the next, despite a slower first quarter growth versus the fourth quarter of last year.
“Manufacturing and exports are weaker, but domestic demand remains strong. This suggests that growth is overall strong… definitely stronger than first quarter of 2014 but may not be stronger than fourth quarter of 2014,” Peiris said.
* * *
The Muslim Bar Association of the Philippines (MBAP), notes that Sheriff Abas, a Comelec provincial director in Maguindanao before his new appointment as Comelec Commissioner, was reportedly a cousin of MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
“We do not question the appointment of the President of anyone, we just want to raise a question: why now?” asks Sultan Firdausi Abbas, MBAP president.
Noting that several competent Muslims have been named to the Comelec in the past without being questioned because most of them were known to the public as effective public servants. Of Abas, he said, “It appears he is unknown.”
Abbas added that “the little information” they had was that he was closely related to Iqbal.
The number of questions about the new commissioner spurred Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado Jr. to crowd source information about Abas, who is known to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and was once a regional director of the Civil Service Commission.
People describe Abas as “a young lawyer” who studied at Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, and  the son of Maguindanao public school principal Mildred Abas.
Abas was appointed to the Comelec along with its new chairman, former Philippine Commission on Good Government Juan Andres Bautista, and former Cadiz City mayor Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon, as commissioner.
Former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod questioned Bautista’s competence to lead the poll agency saying that Bautista may be a good lawyer but he has no background on election law.
“While he is a good lawyer, he has not been an election lawyer,” the former Comelec Chairman notes.
Monsod said Bautista has a good background in law as dean of the Far Eastern University’s Institute of Law and enjoys a good reputation as an honest person, but he said being an election lawyer was a critical qualification for the position. As a matter of fact, Monsod, himself was never an election lawyer.
Monsod also questioned if Bautista had sufficient management experience, because being Comelec chairman was “primarily a management job.” Actually, the new Chairman has a lot of hand-on experience as a manager having worked withe private companies and as head of the PCGG.
Bautista will join six other lawyers in the Comelec, which faces a management problem rather than a legal one, says Monsod.
Asked if the new appointees would have enough time to learn the ropes, Monsod said they will have a “very short learning period.”
“They should immediately connect with their field organization because credible elections are delivered from the ground level,” Monsod says.
Asked what Bautista should do with the controversial automated elections, Monsod said the Comelec commissioners should consult their field personnel and let them recount their personal experiences on automation and how people feel about it. For me, the knowledge that  the votes are counted automatically by a machine makes them safe from the dagdag-bawas perpetrators is good enough reason to continue with our elections.

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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.

Senate Worries About Defense, The New Comelec


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.

Senate Worries About Defense, The New Comelec

Malaya (05.11.15)
“‘We do not question the appointment of the President of anyone, we just want to raise a question: why now?’ asks Sultan Firdausi Abbas, MBAP president.”

by Ducky Paredes

The Senate national defense and security committee pushed finally faced up to our defense problems and called for an accelerated modernization of our armed forces to be able to put up a credible defense against Chinese agression in the Western Philippine Sea.
This was the assessment of Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV, the committee chair after a three-hour hearing on the land reclamations and dredging operations by China on disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“It is clear that we modernize the AFP and accelerate it due to the potential threat to national security. There is no debate there,” he said. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang pressed lawmakers to increase the budget and annual cost of modernizing the AFP.
The government has spent only P63-billion to modernize the AFP since 2002, since 13 years ago. That’s a pittsnce compared to what our neighbor countries have been spending
Cesar P. Garcia Jr., director-general of the National Security Council (NSC),  told the Senate committee that “with the reports of massive reclamation projects by China in our exclusive economic zone, it is now very clear that our territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea has in fact overtaken all security issues in our  hierarchy of national security concerns.”
Trillanes, a former Navy officer, agreed with Garcia’s assessment and believed the country “should have at least a minimum credible defense posture or at least a minimum deterrent capability so that they could not just come in and out of our territory.”
Seven of the islands reclaimed by China are “very close to Palawan” rather than to Hainan island in the southeastern most portion of China, say our defense officials.
The new islands rising in the South China Sea has gotten the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) worried.
A series of satellite images, the latest of which were taken in February and March and released by defense publication IHS Jane’s show that China has intensified the construction of artificial islands by dredging sand from submerged coral reefs and building up land mass, sometimes doubling or tripling the size of existing features. Among at least half a dozen islands being reconstructed, work on Fiery Cross Reef has attracted most attention because of its speed and scale. According to Jane’s, the new island is already big enough for a 3,000-meter (9,500-foot) runway able to accommodate big military planes.
* * *
Shaking off jet lag, President Aquino rallied Filipinos in the US to chase the “Filipino dream” of a better Philippines beyond 2016.
“The future of the Philippines is in your hands,” the President told the Filipino community at JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Chicago, stressing the significance of the 2016 presidential vote in perpetuating the administration’s reforms.
Ahead of the President’s visit, Chicago-based accountant Edilberto Ortiz posed the question for Aquino: “Is this good government going to continue?”
“There’s a saying: You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Aquino said, raving about the Philippines’ accomplishments.
Under “good governance,” he reported that the Philippines has gone from being Asia’s “sick man” to the region’s “darling,” and has seen investor confidence rise, “untouchables” go to jail, and unfinished infrastructure projects completed.
While not promising to solve everything before he steps down in June 2016, Aquino said it was clear Filipinos were reaping the fruits of the reforms his administration had sown.
“Surely, even the next administration will reap what we [have sown], that is if the straight path doesn’t turn crooked, and if you pick the right leaders as you [did] in 2010,” he said.
“I get blamed for a heavy downpour, and for heavy traffic on Edsa. I even get blamed for Manny Pacquiao’s recent loss,” he said, drawing chuckles from the Filipinos.
But then again, the President said, Filipinos “[could] not be fooled.”
“I’m confident that like in 1986, and in 2010, come 2016, you’ll be there to carry on what we’ve started. Our goal is not to go back to the rotten system, but to continue our country’s transformation,” he said.
And there’s no other way to achieve this but for all Filipinos to band together “whichever part of the world you are in,” he added.
“Let’s continue to chase the Filipino dream: a Philippines that is not only full of zest, enthusiasm and goodness, but of opportunities to better one’s self and country, and contribute to a better world,” he concluded.
The President kicked off his working, whirlwind visit to Chicago by receiving Mayor Rahm Emanuel at JW Marriott on Wednesday afternoon. He’s flying Thursday morning to Canada for a three-day state visit.
Emanuel presented Aquino with a city council resolution welcoming him to the Windy City, citing his phenomenal ascension to the presidency and achievements as a leader, before they sat down for a chat.
It was Emanuel’s first day at work after he was reelected for a second term in April. Emanuel is a former White House chief of staff to fellow Chicagoan President Barack Obama. He was elected mayor of Chicago in 2011.
“He said, ‘I am your admirer for being outspoken and clear-eyed on important issues affecting your country,”’ Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, quoting Emanuel.
After the meeting, Aquino motored to the nearby TransUnion headquarters for a roundtable discussion with executives of the US Chamber of Commerce, US Asean Business Council and the National Center for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).
Aquino ditched a prepared speech and forthwith asked them about their experiences in doing business in the Philippines, and how else this could be improved, Coloma said.
David Neenan, president of International TransUnion, expressed appreciation for the government’s thrust of promoting inclusive growth. TransUnion, he said, has been working with Land Bank of the Philippines in helping small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs gain access to financing.
The other executives expressed interest in doing or expanding business in the Philippines, and Aquino discussed areas that needed their expertise.
Thomas La France, senior executive of GE Transportation, spoke about possible investments in infrastructure development, Coloma said.
President Aquino replied that being an archipelagic country, the Philippines needs to improve connectivity by expanding the existing nautical highway, improving roll-on, roll-off and port facilities. Possiblities for improving the country’s railway system were also mentioned.
Ralph Carter, Federal Express managing director for legal, trade and international affairs, talked about his company’s involvement in improving the Philippines’ links with the global supply chain.
Julie Hoeniges of Caterpillar spoke about expanding her company’s business in mining, while Michael Fernandez of Cargill raised the possibility of raising his company’s investments in the agribusiness field, Coloma said.
“Monica Whaley, president of the National Center for Apec, lauded the Philippine government’s path-finding initiatives in promoting financial inclusion across all spheres of socioeconomic activity,” Coloma said.
At the end of the discussion, Marc Mealy, vice president for policy, US-Asean Business Council, gifted Aquino with a red Chicago Bulls jersey and a green Boston Celtics jersey. Having lived in Boston with his family during martial law, Aquino is a Celtics fan.
Members of the Chicago-based militant group Anakbayan staged a rally in front of JW Marriott, calling for the President’s resignation, renewing the group’s constant refrain.
When he faced the gathering of Filipinos, Aquino cracked jokes, and afterward stayed longer to pose for group pictures with them on stage, smiling and pressing flesh.
“I got excited when this visit was confirmed. I thought, this is my chance at tasting your deep-dish pizza,” he said to chuckles.
The Philippines has grown by leaps and bounds, the President said, since the administration adopted good governance as its rallying cry. Sadly, this good news has never “trended” on social media, hence, it must not only be “liked” but “shared” on Facebook, said the President.
So far, the government has filed 637 cases under the Revenue Integrity Protection Service, Run After Smugglers and Run After Tax Evaders programs, Aquino said.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the news that our politicians who are untouchable are now in jail, if not under hospital arrest,” he said.
Even corruption-ridden agencies, such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, have turned a new leaf, he added.
“Our basic principle: Good governance equals good economics, equals good-quality inclusive growth. That’s why we should forget our tag as Sick Man of Asia; we’re now called the Darling of Asia,” he said.
“The country has achieved investment grade status and risen in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, and according to Bloomberg, is poised to become the second fastest-growing economy,” he added.
From 2010 to 2014, the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) grew by an average of 6.3 percent, Aquino said.
“We’re targeting 7 to 8 percent GDP growth this year,” he said.
According to the the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Philippines will continue to be the “exception” in Asia and in the world as its economy is expected to continue its upward growth momentum.
“We see falling potential growth in the world and in Asia in general, but the Philippines is an outlier,” IMF resident representative Shanaka Jayanath Peiris said in a briefing.
IMF’s current estimate of the Philippines’ annual potential growth is at six to 6.5 percent. Peiris said the IMF would update this figure during its Article IV Consultation slated next week.
The IMF last month increased its forecast for Philippine economic growth this year to 6.7 percent from an earlier projection of 6.6 percent. The latest estimate is faster than the 6.1 percent expansion recorded last year but still short of the government’s seven- to eight-percent target for 2015.
For next year, the IMF expects economic growth to slow down to 6.3 percent, also below the government’s seven to eight percent target for that period.
The Philippines should remain as Southeast Asia’s growth driver this year until the next, despite a slower first quarter growth versus the fourth quarter of last year.
“Manufacturing and exports are weaker, but domestic demand remains strong. This suggests that growth is overall strong… definitely stronger than first quarter of 2014 but may not be stronger than fourth quarter of 2014,” Peiris said.
* * *
The Muslim Bar Association of the Philippines (MBAP), notes that Sheriff Abas, a Comelec provincial director in Maguindanao before his new appointment as Comelec Commissioner, was reportedly a cousin of MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
“We do not question the appointment of the President of anyone, we just want to raise a question: why now?” asks Sultan Firdausi Abbas, MBAP president.
Noting that several competent Muslims have been named to the Comelec in the past without being questioned because most of them were known to the public as effective public servants. Of Abas, he said, “It appears he is unknown.”
Abbas added that “the little information” they had was that he was closely related to Iqbal.
The number of questions about the new commissioner spurred Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado Jr. to crowd source information about Abas, who is known to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and was once a regional director of the Civil Service Commission.
People describe Abas as “a young lawyer” who studied at Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, and  the son of Maguindanao public school principal Mildred Abas.
Abas was appointed to the Comelec along with its new chairman, former Philippine Commission on Good Government Juan Andres Bautista, and former Cadiz City mayor Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon, as commissioner.
Former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod questioned Bautista’s competence to lead the poll agency saying that Bautista may be a good lawyer but he has no background on election law.
“While he is a good lawyer, he has not been an election lawyer,” the former Comelec Chairman notes.
Monsod said Bautista has a good background in law as dean of the Far Eastern University’s Institute of Law and enjoys a good reputation as an honest person, but he said being an election lawyer was a critical qualification for the position. As a matter of fact, Monsod, himself was never an election lawyer.
Monsod also questioned if Bautista had sufficient management experience, because being Comelec chairman was “primarily a management job.” Actually, the new Chairman has a lot of hand-on experience as a manager having worked withe private companies and as head of the PCGG.
Bautista will join six other lawyers in the Comelec, which faces a management problem rather than a legal one, says Monsod.
Asked if the new appointees would have enough time to learn the ropes, Monsod said they will have a “very short learning period.”
“They should immediately connect with their field organization because credible elections are delivered from the ground level,” Monsod says.
Asked what Bautista should do with the controversial automated elections, Monsod said the Comelec commissioners should consult their field personnel and let them recount their personal experiences on automation and how people feel about it. For me, the knowledge that  the votes are counted automatically by a machine makes them safe from the dagdag-bawas perpetrators is good enough reason to continue with our elections.

# # # #

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.