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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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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.

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.

* * *

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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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.

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.”

# # # #

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.

Walang Hadlang kay Grace sa paka-Pangulo

 

06.06.15 Abnte

 

ni Horacio Paredes

Tama ang tanong ni Senadora Grace Poe sa kampo ni Vice President Jejomar Binay kahit na hindi pa siya nagpapasya kung tatakbo ba siya o hindi sa mataas na posisyon sa 2016 elections: “Bakit kayo natatakot sa akin?”

“Kung sinabi man na kayo ay hindi natatakot sa akin, hindi po ito ang kilos ng hindi nababantaan,” pa­saring ni Poe sa United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) matapos kuwestiyunin ni Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco ang kanyang residency requirement.

 “Pinaninindigan ko po ang committee report ngayon, at kung kelan sinabi ko na dapat humarap sila at magsalita, ilalabas nila itong issue na ito,” wika pa nito.

Nanindigan si Poe na kuwalipikado siyang tumakbo sa 2016 presidential election dahil sobra na aniya ang kanyang residency requirement.

“Unang-una hindi po totoo na ako’y hindi ku­walipikado. Kuwalipikado po ako,” pahayag ni Poe sa panayam kahapon sa Senado.

Kung tutuusin aniya’y lagpas sa 10-taon ang kanyang inilagi sa bansa na siyang requirement sa ilalim ng Konstitusyon para sa mga kandidato sa pagka-pangulo at bise-presidente.

Ayon sa senadora, maaga pa ng 2005 ay andito na siya sa Pilipinas at naka-enroll na umano sa mga paaralan ang kanyang mga anak. 

“I was here 2005 pa lang, ‘yung mga anak ko naka-enroll na sa paaralan, ready po ang transcripts diyan. Ready po ang mga titulo ng aking kinuhang lugar para matirhan dito,” paglalahad ni Poe.

“Di ako abogado pero ako po’y tapat at truthful at kung bibilangin mo talaga ‘yung oras na andito ako sa Pilipinas, lagpas pa nga po sa requirement.”

 “Kaya para po sabihin nila na kulang, marami po kaming magpapatunay na sobra pa nga, at marami po magpapatunay po diyan,” anang senadora.

“Taglay ko po ang katotohanan, hindi po ako nagtatago sa inyo. Kaya nga po hindi ako, hindi ko kinakailangang magtago sa likod ng isang tagapagsalita,” wika pa nito.

Sa kabila ng mga paliwanag, matigas pa rin ang posisyon ni Tiangco na hindi uubrang tumakbo dahil hindi kuwalipikado si Poe sa pagka-pangulo o bise-presidente sa 2016.

Binanggit pa ng kongresista na lahat naman ng may sapat na kuwalipikasyon ay may karapatang tumakbo sa halalan.

“Wala naman tayong pinipigilan. Ang sinasabi lang, dapat ang lahat ng tatakbo sapat ‘yung ku­walipikasyon at ‘yung kuwalipikasyon na huli ‘yung panlima sa pagtakbo sa presidente at bise-pre­sidente ay kulang siya base sa kanyang sinumpaang salaysay,” giit ni Tiangco.

Ito ay makaraang makisawsaw na rin sa usapin ng Presidency ni Poe si Senate President at LP Vice President Franklin Drilon at kampihan ang kampo ng senadora laban sa akusasyon ni Tiangco.

“Sabihin na natin na tama ang sinasabi ng UNA na 9 ½ lang si Senator Grace mula noong siya ay nag-file ng certificate of candidacy para sa Senado, ngunit ‘yung kanyang added years na siya ay nasa Amerika, kung maipapakita niya na meron siyang intensiyon na bumalik, yaan po ay bilang sa pagbilang ng sampung taon na residency,” paglalahad pa ni Drilon.

* * *

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.

Obama Warns China/ UNA Wrong on Poe

06.05.15 Malaya

“’We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive,’ said Obama.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

US President Barack Obama weighed in on territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), urging China, to respect the law and stop “throwing elbows.”

As several Asian regional powers face off over maritime borders, Obama warned about disregard for existing laws and a move away from established ways of resolving disputes.

“If you start losing that approach, and suddenly conflicts arise and claims are made based on how big the country is or how powerful its navy is instead of based on law, then I think Asia will be less prosperous and the Pacific region will be less prosperous,” he said.

The United States does not hold any territorial claims in the South China Sea, Obama added. But as a “Pacific power,” Washington has called on China and other nations to end reclamation.

His administration has vowed to continue sending military aircraft and ships to the tense region to protect navigation rights.

“We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive,” said Obama.

Turning to China directly, Obama adopted a boxing metaphor, saying, “It may be that some of their claims are legitimate, but they shouldn’t just try to establish that based on throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way.”

Sought to comment on the US president’s speech, Malacañang’s deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “We have always been of the position that any dispute involving territory should be resolved in a peaceful manner and in such a way that adhered to international norms.”

The US military will work to prevent unforeseen clashes in the South China Sea, the commander of the US 7th Fleet says.

In an interview aboard the USS Blue Ridge, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas said Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces can operate anywhere in the world and expressed hope that the US ally will cooperate with other countries such as the Philippines and Australia to boost its presence in the South China Sea.

* * *

 Is time slowly running out for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)?

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd admitted that passage of the measure that will create a Bangsamoro region is getting dimmer.

“The number is a cause for concern. This one is more difficult to steer to passage than RH (Reproductive Health bill). RH has been discussed in Congress for so long…long before the 15th Congress. BBL was submitted very late…in September [2014],” Gonzales said in an interview.

Deliberations on the measure started in plenary Monday.

The House is expected to hold additional session days on Thursday and Friday this week so as to have enough time for lengthy debates and have the proposed BBL law approved by June 11, the start of Congress’ two-month break.

The House and Senate will resume session on the third Monday of July, when President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his final State of the Nation Address.

Gonzales said it will take time for the plenary to tackle the bill considering that deliberations at the committee level took two days to finish.

“Even if we hold sessions until Friday, we’d still have so little time. There are suggestions that we open sessions earlier at 10 am, but that would really depend on who are the lawmakers who will promise to be present. Otherwise, we’ll just wait,” Gonzales points out.

“How do you limit discussions? Just consider the amendments proposed by Celso. What if he wants everything on nominal voting? You can’t stop him,” he added.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat proposed 150 amendments to the BBL bill in the committee level. Of the 150 proposed amendments, only five were accepted.

One of the most contentious provisions of the proposed law is the opt-in clause which allows contiguous cities and municipalities to the Bangsamoro core area and those under the 1976 Tripoli agreement to be part of the Bangsamoro region upon the petition of at least ten percent (10 %) of the registered voters and approved by a majority of qualified votes cast in a plebiscite.

The Tripoli Agreement covers Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Palawan.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice said his colleagues should not be worried of the opt-in provision if they are serving their constituents well.

“If more than 80 percent of their constituents are Christians, of course, those will not vote for their inclusion in the Bangsamoro. What are they afraid of? The opt-in provision should challenge them to deliver good governance. Otherwise, their constituents would want to leave and join Bangsamoro,” Erice said.

Also yesterday, Malacanang denied reports that it received money from an alleged Chinese crime lord to pay off members of Congress in exchange for the approval of the BBL.

“Allegations on BBL ‘payola’ are baseless and untrue,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a text message.

A report said that lawmakers allegedly received millions in hard cash last week, shortly after Wang Bo, who is wanted by Interpol and the Chinese government for allegedly embezzling $100 million, was ordered released by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.

But Coloma said the only reward promised by the Aquino administration was peace, as well as prosperity, in Mindanao.

* * *

 

Senator Grace Poe has denied allegations made by an opposition spokesperson that she is not qualified to run for a higher post in the 2016 elections because of residency issues.

Hindi po totoo na hindi ako kwalipikado. Kwalipikado po ako pero hindi pa po ako kandidato,” Poe told reporters in the Senate. (It is not true that I am not qualified. I am qualified, but I am not yet a candidate.)

On Tuesday Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco cited Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) in the 2013 senatorial elections, where she wrote that she had been a resident in the Philippines for only 6 years and 6 months.

Based on Tiangco’s computation, Poe will not meet by May 2016 the 10-year residency requirement for candidates running for president or vice president.

Poe admitted she erred in her COC in 2010. “Hindi nga ako abodgado at teknikalidad po ang sinasabi nila,” Poe said. (I am not a lawyer and what they are raising is a technicality.)

She returned to the Philippines from the United States in 2004, when her adopted father, actor Fernando Poe Jr, died. Six months before that, the father lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a presidential election that was marred by allegations of systematic fraud.

Poe had since decided to live in the Philippines and renounce her dual citizenship.

But when she filled out her COC, she started counting from April 2006, when she sold her house in the US, until October 2012, when she filed the election document.

“[The COC says] before May. That is any month. I thought to err on the side of prudence. It’s the day of my actual filing to show that I was eligible first for the Senate, and if ever, sa darating na panahon kung matuloy man, ay talagang lagpas pa sa kinakailangan,” Poe said. (In the future, if [seeking higher office] will push through, I will have than enough residency.)

She said she has been living in the Philippines since January or February 2005 and she enrolled her children in Philippine schools later that year.

Some legal experts have dismissed the grounds that Tiangco cited for Poe’s disqualification. They cited the case of Imelda Romualdez Marcos versus the Commission on Elections, which states: “It is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification requirement.”

Others argue that the Senator has been a resident of the country since she was born.

# # # #

 

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.

Obama Warns China/ UNA Wrong on Poe

06.05.15 Malaya

“’We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive,’ said Obama.”

 


 

US President Barack Obama weighed in on territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), urging China, to respect the law and stop “throwing elbows.”

As several Asian regional powers face off over maritime borders, Obama warned about disregard for existing laws and a move away from established ways of resolving disputes.

“If you start losing that approach, and suddenly conflicts arise and claims are made based on how big the country is or how powerful its navy is instead of based on law, then I think Asia will be less prosperous and the Pacific region will be less prosperous,” he said.

The United States does not hold any territorial claims in the South China Sea, Obama added. But as a “Pacific power,” Washington has called on China and other nations to end reclamation.

His administration has vowed to continue sending military aircraft and ships to the tense region to protect navigation rights.

“We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive,” said Obama.

Turning to China directly, Obama adopted a boxing metaphor, saying, “It may be that some of their claims are legitimate, but they shouldn’t just try to establish that based on throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way.”

Sought to comment on the US president’s speech, Malacañang’s deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “We have always been of the position that any dispute involving territory should be resolved in a peaceful manner and in such a way that adhered to international norms.”

The US military will work to prevent unforeseen clashes in the South China Sea, the commander of the US 7th Fleet says.

In an interview aboard the USS Blue Ridge, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas said Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces can operate anywhere in the world and expressed hope that the US ally will cooperate with other countries such as the Philippines and Australia to boost its presence in the South China Sea.

* * *

 Is time slowly running out for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)?

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd admitted that passage of the measure that will create a Bangsamoro region is getting dimmer.

“The number is a cause for concern. This one is more difficult to steer to passage than RH (Reproductive Health bill). RH has been discussed in Congress for so long…long before the 15th Congress. BBL was submitted very late…in September [2014],” Gonzales said in an interview.

Deliberations on the measure started in plenary Monday.

The House is expected to hold additional session days on Thursday and Friday this week so as to have enough time for lengthy debates and have the proposed BBL law approved by June 11, the start of Congress’ two-month break.

The House and Senate will resume session on the third Monday of July, when President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his final State of the Nation Address.

Gonzales said it will take time for the plenary to tackle the bill considering that deliberations at the committee level took two days to finish.

“Even if we hold sessions until Friday, we’d still have so little time. There are suggestions that we open sessions earlier at 10 am, but that would really depend on who are the lawmakers who will promise to be present. Otherwise, we’ll just wait,” Gonzales points out.

“How do you limit discussions? Just consider the amendments proposed by Celso. What if he wants everything on nominal voting? You can’t stop him,” he added.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat proposed 150 amendments to the BBL bill in the committee level. Of the 150 proposed amendments, only five were accepted.

One of the most contentious provisions of the proposed law is the opt-in clause which allows contiguous cities and municipalities to the Bangsamoro core area and those under the 1976 Tripoli agreement to be part of the Bangsamoro region upon the petition of at least ten percent (10 %) of the registered voters and approved by a majority of qualified votes cast in a plebiscite.

The Tripoli Agreement covers Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato and Palawan.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice said his colleagues should not be worried of the opt-in provision if they are serving their constituents well.

“If more than 80 percent of their constituents are Christians, of course, those will not vote for their inclusion in the Bangsamoro. What are they afraid of? The opt-in provision should challenge them to deliver good governance. Otherwise, their constituents would want to leave and join Bangsamoro,” Erice said.

Also yesterday, Malacanang denied reports that it received money from an alleged Chinese crime lord to pay off members of Congress in exchange for the approval of the BBL.

“Allegations on BBL ‘payola’ are baseless and untrue,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a text message.

A report said that lawmakers allegedly received millions in hard cash last week, shortly after Wang Bo, who is wanted by Interpol and the Chinese government for allegedly embezzling $100 million, was ordered released by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.

But Coloma said the only reward promised by the Aquino administration was peace, as well as prosperity, in Mindanao.

* * *

 

Senator Grace Poe has denied allegations made by an opposition spokesperson that she is not qualified to run for a higher post in the 2016 elections because of residency issues.

Hindi po totoo na hindi ako kwalipikado. Kwalipikado po ako pero hindi pa po ako kandidato,” Poe told reporters in the Senate. (It is not true that I am not qualified. I am qualified, but I am not yet a candidate.)

On Tuesday Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco cited Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) in the 2013 senatorial elections, where she wrote that she had been a resident in the Philippines for only 6 years and 6 months.

Based on Tiangco’s computation, Poe will not meet by May 2016 the 10-year residency requirement for candidates running for president or vice president.

Poe admitted she erred in her COC in 2010. “Hindi nga ako abodgado at teknikalidad po ang sinasabi nila,” Poe said. (I am not a lawyer and what they are raising is a technicality.)

She returned to the Philippines from the United States in 2004, when her adopted father, actor Fernando Poe Jr, died. Six months before that, the father lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a presidential election that was marred by allegations of systematic fraud.

Poe had since decided to live in the Philippines and renounce her dual citizenship.

But when she filled out her COC, she started counting from April 2006, when she sold her house in the US, until October 2012, when she filed the election document.

“[The COC says] before May. That is any month. I thought to err on the side of prudence. It’s the day of my actual filing to show that I was eligible first for the Senate, and if ever, sa darating na panahon kung matuloy man, ay talagang lagpas pa sa kinakailangan,” Poe said. (In the future, if [seeking higher office] will push through, I will have than enough residency.)

She said she has been living in the Philippines since January or February 2005 and she enrolled her children in Philippine schools later that year.

Some legal experts have dismissed the grounds that Tiangco cited for Poe’s disqualification. They cited the case of Imelda Romualdez Marcos versus the Commission on Elections, which states: “It is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification requirement.”

Others argue that the Senator has been a resident of the country since she was born.

# # # #

 

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.

Japan vs. China

06.04.15 Malaya

Japan’s military is considering joining the United States in maritime air patrols in the South China Sea in response to China’s increasingly assertive pursuit of territorial claims.”

 

 

 

By Ducky Paredes

 

Ten senators or more than the majority of the 17-member Senate blue ribbon committee have signed a draft report that recommended the filing of plunder raps against Vice President Jejomar Binay and other personalities involved in the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall 2 parking building.

The ten are:Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Francis Escudero, Pia Cayetano, Serge Osmena III, Teofisto Guingona III, Bam Aquino, Grace Poe, Alan Cayetano,  Antonio Trillanes IV; and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that came out with the draft report  

The other members of Guingona’s committee are Senators Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Lito Lapid, Gregorio Honasan, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Binay’s daughter, Nancy Binay.

The two other ex-officio members of the committee aside from Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano are Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

Pimentel earlier said the draft report needs to get at least nine signatures, or the majority number of the 17-man committee before it becomes official and can be transmitted to the plenary either for approval or rejection.

Escudero cited two reasons why he signed the draft report:

“First, the evidence cited by the committee is to my mind, sufficient to justify the recommendation to file the cases mentioned,” he said.

“And second, in order to afford the named persons the opportunity to answer the allegations against them in their chosen forum, the courts, since they refuse to participate in the Senate and have been saying that they will answer in the proper forum,” he further said.

Escudero campaigned for Binay in the 2010 vice presidential race but the two had a falling out after the senator chose to run under the Liberal Party-led coalition during the 2013 senatorial race.

Guingona said he signed the draft report because he saw basis that the parking building was overpriced.

“There’s basis for further investigation,” he told reporters.

On his part, Senator Aquino said he signed the draft report, “because the findings that the Makati City Hall II Parking Building was overpriced and that its surrounding bidding process was irregular were largely unrefuted and unanswered.

These findings warrant that the appropriate government agency further investigates the matter and file the corresponding charges, as it deems proper,” he said in a statement.

Apart from the Vice President, the draft report also recommends the filing of plunder charges against his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and other personalities who allegedly conspired to jack up the cost of the parking building. The Binays have repeatedly denied the allegations.

* * *

Now, China has taking to lying when it accussed the Philippines of also building an airport and a sea pory in the disputed area in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea)  in violation of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaratyion of Conduct in the South China Sea DOC). The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei enumerated the reclamation work being done by other claimant nations, including the Philippines, in South China Sea.

“For a long time, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries have been carrying out reclamations on the Chinese islands they are illegally occupying in the Nansha Islands (Chinese name for the Spratlys), building airports and other fixed infrastructure, even deploying missiles and other military equipment,” he said in a news briefing, a transcript of which was posted in the official website of the Chinese embassy in Manila.

Hong said the Philippines is in fact building an airport and expanding a wharf on Thitu Island (Pagasa), the largest of Philippine-occupied naturally occurring islands in the West Philippine Sea.

On Nanshan (Lawak) Island, Flat (Patag) Island, and others, the Philippine government is building “so-called tourism facilities,” Hong added.

Clearly, China makes these accusations to deflect international criticism about the reclamation work that they are undertaking in the West Philippine Sea.

What is important is to determine when these activities began to take place after the 2002 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea (DOC) as the benchmark.

A nything done after the signing of the DOC is clearly a violation.

“If you look at the facilities that the Philippines has, all of these were acquired prior to 2002,” Jose explained. “Even the airport in Pagasa, it was constructed before 2002.”

China, on the other hand, started their reclamation activities in the disputed areas in the South China Sea after 2002.

“As far as we are concerned, all the reclamations they’re doing, is a violation of the DOC,” he said.

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Recent satellite images show China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in disputed areas in the South China Sea and may be planning another.

As this developed, Japan’s military is considering joining the United States in maritime air patrols in the South China Sea in response to China’s increasingly assertive pursuit of territorial claims.

News of the deliberations came as Japan and the United States unveiled new defense guidelines during a visit to Washington by Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, reflecting his plans for Japan to take on a wider security role beyond the direct defense of its home islands.

While no concrete plans had yet been formulated, Japan could join US patrols in the South China Sea, or operate patrols in rotation from the Japanese island of Okinawa on the edge of the East China Sea, the Japanese source said,.

Japanese air patrols in an area where China is pushing disputed territorial claims, including a massive program of land reclamation, would risk antagonizing Beijing.

But defense officials in Tokyo worry that doing nothing would allow China to eventually impose its authority over a region through which $5 trillion of sea-borne trade passes ever year – much of it heading to and from Japan.

“We have to show China that it doesn’t own the sea,” said the Japanese source.

A US military source said a decision to begin flights in the South China Sea could prompt Tokyo to ask the Philippines for access to air bases under disaster relief training and other joint training exercises. This would give Japanese aircraft added range to stay out on patrol longer, he said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

A senior Philippine military source said such access would not currently be possible, because Manila does not have any military co-operation agreement with Tokyo similar to the pact it has with Washington, which allows US ships to use its bases to re-fuel, re-supply and make emergency repairs.

But President Aquino, one of the most vocal regional critics of China’s reclamation program, is due to meet Abe in Tokyo in June, when the South China Sea issue is certain to be discussd,

# # # #

 

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

Ang Australia vs China Rin

06.04.15 Abante

Ni Horacio Paredes

Sumali na rin ang bansang Australia sa Estados Unidos sa panawagan sa bansang China laban sa ginagawang large-scale land reclamation sa mga isla sa South China Sea.

Sinabi ni Defense Minister Kevin Andrews na nababahala ito sa ginagawang military build-up ng China sa artificial islands na pinaniniwalaang mayaman sa langis, minerals at gas reserves.

“Australia has made clear its opposition to any coercive or unilateral actions to change the status quo in the South or East China Sea,” sabi pa ni Andrews.

“This includes any large-scale land reclamation activity by claimants in the South China Sea, and we are particularly concerned at the prospect of militarization of artificial structures,” paliwanag pa nito.

Babala pa ni Andrews na asahan na gagawa ng aksyon ang iba pang bansa sa nasabing rehiyon kung magpapatuloy ang China sa ginagawa nito.

Kaugnay nito, naniniwala si dating Chief Justice Reynato Puno na ang sama-samang boses sa United Nations (UN) na tinuring nitong “win-win solution” ang magbibigay-daan para tigilan na ng China ang agresibong pag-aangkin sa West Philippine Sea at mapahupa ang tensyon sa pagitan nito, ng Pilipinas at ng iba pang bansa sa Asya pati na ang mala­laking puwersang tutol sa aksyon ng China.

Ayon kay Puno dapat magkaroon na ng ibang avenue o pamamaraan ang bansa para maresolba ang territorial row sa South China Sea lalo at masasabing hindi naman naging epektibo ang pagresolba sa tensyon sa legal na pamamaraan.

“Alam natin na ang natural resources sa kalupaan ay may hangganan so ang susunod na ie-exploit ay mga resources sa dagat at ‘yan ay pag­lalabanan ng iba’t ibang developed countries,” paliwanag ni Puno.

“ASEAN speaking with one voice - there is always that hope that China will listen especially if the ASEAN solution benefits all parties. If the regional mechanism fails, you go to the universal mechanism.

You go to the United Nations. If there would be a stronger conglomeration of voices in the UN, these warring parties will really stop and think about the solution,” dagdag pa ni Puno.

·       * *

Sa kabila ng agresibong pagsasapubliko ng Department of Health (DOH) hinggil sa nakakaalarmang pagsirit ng kaso ng Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV-AIDS) sa bansa, hindi pa rin ito maawat sa paglobo at sa pinakahuling ulat, umaabot sa 560 ang bagong HIV cases na naitala at sa hanay na ito ay 16 ang nasawi nitong buwan lamang ng Abril. 

Batay sa pinakahu­ling update ng DOH-HIV/AIDS Registry, sa 560 bagong kaso ay 36 ang naitalang full-blown AIDS noong buwan ng Abril at 16 ang nasawi dahil nasa advanced stage na ng sakit nang madiskubre.

Karamihan sa mga bagong kaso ay sa National Capital Region (209 cases), Calabarzon (102 cases) at Central Luzon (48 cases). Mataas ito nang 42% kumpara sa 393 kaso na naitala sa kaparehong buwan noong nakaraang taon.

Pero sa rekord ay ang buwan pa rin ng Marso 2015 ang may pinakama­laking kaso dahil umabot ito sa 667 simula nang maitala ang kauna-una­hang HIV/AIDS case sa bansa noong 1984.

Sa mga bagong kaso, 547 ang nahawa ng sakit dahil sa pakikipagtalik, 12 ang mga drug users na gumagamit ng iisang karayom sa pagturok ng ilegal na droga at isa ang mother-to-child.

Sinabi naman ni MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Eduardo Janairo na maraming kaso ng nakahahawang sakit ang hindi sana nauwi sa AIDS kung maaga pa lamang ay nasuri na ang mga pasyente at nabigyan ng kaukulang gamot.

Kaya naman ang muling paanyaya ni Janairo ay maging ma­ingat sa pakikipagtalik at agad na magpa-volun­tary HIV screening.

“Hindi nangangahulugan na may HIV ay end of the world na at hintayin na lamang na maging AIDS ang sakit,” diin ni Janairo.

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