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Kanino Nga Ba ang Luneta?

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Sumsangayon ako sa sinabi ng National Culture and the Arts (NCCA)  na hindi sila sumasangayon sa ginagawang condominium sa Taft Avenue (dulo ng Luneta Park) na pag-aari ng D.M. Consunji na aabut sa 49 palapag ang taas. Ayon sa NCCA  na bilang sila ang ahensiyang inaasahan natin sa gumagawa ng mga alitiuttunin tunkol sa kultura nababahalal sila sa ginagawang  condo na nakakaguko sa pananaw ng monumento kung saan mismo nakalibing ang ating  “national hero” na si i Jose Rizal. Dagdag pa ng NCCA: “Rizal as our hero deserves no less than a hero’s monument and sole ownership of the landscape in which he is buried and honored.”

Ang dating nakatayo sa lote na dating pag-aari ng gobiyerno ay ang Jai-Alai Building na  desenyo ng kilalalng arkitektong Americano na si Welton Beckett na gumawa rin ng Los Angeles Airport, Marami ang nganghinayang noong dinemolish ang Jai-Alai dahjil maari sanang naging sinehan, restoran o iba pa. Kakaiba rin karing gusali ana tinawag na art deco, ngunit, sinira ito at sa pagkalipas ng ilang taon ay naging pag-aari ng pamilyang Consunji.

Ayon naman sa DMCI, kumpleto ang kanilang mga permit sa kanilang tinatayong gusali.

Magandang pag-isipan kung sino ba ang dapat na sinusunod — ang NCCA o ang nakabili ng lupain sa Taft Avenue na kung patayuan ng 49 palapag na condo ay papatayin ang vista mula sa Manila Bay ng monumento ni Rizal. Kung ng masusunod ay ang mga Knights of Rizal kasama si Senadora Pia Cayetano. kanilang ipapasibak ang nasimulan ng gusaling tinatyo ng DM Consunji dahil sa masisisra ang tanawin ng monumento ni Rizal.

Ang mga pamilya namang Consunji na madalas na  nagbibiyahe sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo, baket parang hindi nila naiisip na kapag kanilang pinagpatuloy ang kanilang plano ay masisira ang  vista sa kaisa-isang monumento natin sa ating bansa na dinadayo ng mga bumibisita sa at tinatanggap ng lahat na ang kapalit ng pag-alay niya ng kaniyang buhay sa kalayaan nating mga Pilipino.

Para sa akin, kung kinakailangang gibain ang pinipilit ipatayo ng mga Consunji na labag sa pananaw ng nakakarami at ng ating inaalay na pagdandal kay Gat Jose Rizal, dapat lamang na giabain!

* * *

Basahin ang aking mga  kolum sa www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. Mag-email sa duckyparedes@gmail.com.

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hvp (09.08.14)

 

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

That Dog Fight at Makati City Hall

Malaya 09.08.14

 

That Vera and PAACL are but attack dogs of the Binays is betrayed by the phony nature of the graft charges against the Cayetanos and Taguig’s alderpersons.

 


 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Pre-election fever took over the Senate on the heels of an inquiry initiated by Sen. Antonio Trillanes on the alleged PhP 2 billion overprice of the P2.7-billion 11-storey Makati City parking building that the senators  claim should have cost only P700 million under current construction-cost estimates.

The Binays—from Vice President Jejomar Binay to his two legislator-daughters Senator Nancy and Congresswoman Abigail and son Mayor Jejomar Erwin Jr.—act as one in dismissing  the Senate inquiry as a politically motivated hatchet job done by lawyer-complainant Renato Bondal who belongs to a “political demolition team” targeting the Vice President.

Taking their cue from the Binays, partisans tried to knock the wind from the probe’s sails by filing on the same day graft charges against Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and his mayor-wife Lani of Taguig City before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Clearly the the graft complainant of the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Civil Liberties Inc. (PAACL) comes from the Binays to counter the investigation started by  the Nacionalista Party (NP) tandem of Senators Cayetano and Trillanes to bring down the the front-running Vice-Presudent who leads the 2016 presidential race.

As the Senate probe into the overpriced Makati building began,  PAACLI president Roderick Vera filed before the Ombudsman:

 (1) a graft charge against Cayetano for alleged misuse of P9 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) funds to buy 18 “overpriced” multi-cabs for Taguig City;

 (2) another graft charge against the senator for alleged misuse of PDAF funds on ghost projects in the Taguig barangays of Lingid, Calzada and Maharlika; and

  (3) a graft charge against Mayor Cayetano and her city’s 16 councilors for alleged misuse of P313.249 million in City Hall funds on 3,188 ghost employees.

But Vera’s and PAACL’s coming out of the woodwork on the very day that a Senate blueribbon subcommittee chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III kicked off its Makati City Hall probe seems to prove  only that this was a demolition job unleashed by the Binays.

Consider this: Vera has been a close friend of Rep. Abigail or “Abby” Binay since their law school days at the Ateneo de Manila.

This self-styled graft buster is in fact so close to Abigail that he belongs to her exclusive Thursday Club barkada—along with the congresswoman’s chief of staff Mysty Mendoza and lawyers Martin Subido and Fhilip Sawali. They —that meet regularly at Abigail’s home (No. 53 76th Kamias Street, Dasmarinas Village.)

PAACL is the same group that protested the appointment as Comelec commissioner of Al Parreno, a Liberal Party (LP) nominee identified with Binay’s archrival Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

PAACL was also vocal about the alleged special treatment by Roxas of the police force of Delfin Lee during his arrest in connection with the Globe Asiatique Realty Holding Corp. case.

The only other person identified with PAACL is Sawali, the Thursday Club member who was the beadle of Abigail Binay’s Ateneo law class of 2001.

Talk is that the demolition jobs against the Binays’ political enemies are being run by the congresswoman’s law firm—Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB)—that is based in Legaspi Village in Makati.

Subido and Mendoza used to work at the former Carpio Villaraza and Cruz, once known as The Firm, before eventually leaving CVC to join Congresswoman Abby in Congress.

 That Vera and PAACL are nothing but attack dogs of the Binays is betrayed by the phony nature of the graft charges against the Cayetanos and Taguig’s alderpersons.

 First, PAACL claimed the 18 multi-cabs were overpriced because each was bought by the city government for P498,000 apiece as against the P229,000 rate claimed by Mayor “Jun-Jun” Binay and a lower P190,000 as claimed by Vera himself in his PAACL complaint.

This charge is fake and a case of mislabelling because Taguig’s City Hall bought brand-new air-conditioned units for P498,000 that were used as  ambulances. What the complainant referred to is the acquisition cost for refurbished, second-hand units with no air-conditioning equipment, the cheaper multi-cabs that Makati gives out to its barangays.

Second, PAACL claims that the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the release of P313.249 million in city government’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds for 3,188 ghost employees in 2012.

Both points—the COA report and the hiring of ghost employees—are false. There was no mention of any ghost employee in the COA report for 2012, much less any question by auditors on the use of city government funds for Job Order (JO) personnel.

 The COA found nothing irregular about the hiring of such workers doing regular tasks amid the shortage of permanent personnel, and even noted in the 2012 report that City Hall had prepared the payrolls for these workers on the basis of the biometric machine readings of daily time records of the existing plantilla positions.

So, if there are biometric machine records of these employees’ daily work attendance, where exactly are the ghost employees that Vera and PAACL complain about in the graft charge?

In fact, what the COA stated in the 2012 report was that in response to the Commission’s observation in 2007 on City Hall’s lack of personnel, Taguig City  government hired 3,188 JO personnel in the city’s various development programs “to augment the present workforce.”

COA points out that the city government is looking into revising its current plantilla position to address this concern over the lack of permanent staff, but added that such an effort will take long because “it will entail a lot of time due to Civil Service requirements and procedures.”

 A total of 1,258 were assigned or deployed to the Business Development and Information Technology Program; another 1,007 to the Project Management and Infra Development Program; and 923 more to the Community Welfare and Development Program, notes the COA.

COA noted in the 2012 report that: “Verification disclosed that the personnel in the above-mentioned programs were actually assigned/deployed to different Offices in the absence or lack of regular personnel performing regular functions/services. Management justified that job order services are needed to implement and facilitate its various programs, though, the City is now considering the revision of the existing plantilla positions to address the said concern. However, it will entail a lot of time due to Civil Service requirements and procedures.”

  “It is worth mentioning,” added the COA report, “that the biometric machine readings of daily time records were the basis of the HRMO in the preparation of payrolls for these personnel. For those not using the biometric machine, the manual time records are the basis of the payroll preparation. Payroll payments are through Land Bank of the Philippines Automated Teller Machine.”

The graft charge about the alleged misuse of Cayetano’s P165 million in PDAF allocations is similarly a hoax because more than P162 million of the said pork for Taguig City were actually combined outlays from Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile when he was still Senate President, ex-Speaker Prospero Nograles and former Taguig Rep. Henry Duenas.

Cayetano’s PDAF outlay that was mentioned by COA in the report only totaled P2.6 million of the P165-million pork allocations for Taguig, and it only referred to delayed documentation of the project.

“Probably , the Vice President is in panic  mode already because he knows  we’re getting closer to the truth,”  Trillanes said the day after the follow-up hearing.

Trillanes also vowed to pursue the probe despite VP Binay’s “attempts” to stop it by trying to get public sympathy.

Mayor Jun-Jun Binay was so fidgety as he tried—but failed—to explain before the Senate blueribbon subcommittee last Aug. 20 that there was no overprice and that the COA had found nothing wrong with it.

In fact, the mayor seemed too dazed and confused during the hearing that at one point, under Cayetano’s grilling, Binay admitted the possibility of an overprice in this P2.7-billion Makati project.

 Asked by the senator if it was possible there was an overprice by his underlings and that he was just not aware of it, Binay surprisingly replied: “There will be a possibility, your Honor. You’re right sir.”

At the very least, the mayor’s obviously uninformed answers to questions about the project indicated that he was not a hands-on chief executive and simply relied on the city government’s engineers to do infrastructure projects on their own without guidance or supervision.

Binay told the subcommittee that city engineers had briefed him about what needed to be done next and about the cost of the project, adding that, “We’ll have to rely on them, on their findings and recommendations.”

 “I’m the last to sign,” said the mayor in a news report.

If Binay had been on top of things with regard to this controversial project, it would have been impossible for him to miss that the project costs reported to him by the city engineers were way, way beyond the prevailing market rates.

As pointed out by defeated mayoralty bet Renato Bondal during the Aug. 20 hearing, the Makati parking building cost P84,000 per square meter, based on the P2.7 billion budget for the 31,900-square-meter edifice.

This is definitely way too much for a parking building, considering that Bondal had bared that this construction cost is about double the P2 billion budget for the posh 46-storey Shang Grand Tower (about P40,000 per sq. m.) and P2.8 billion for the 57-storey Greenbelt Residences (or P45,000 per sq. m.)

Federico Cuervo, a property appraiser from Cuervo Valuers & Advisory, pegged during the public hearing at P23,000 (based on 2007 prices) the average cost of a building in the city’s Barangay Poblacion, where the parking building now stands. And this, he said, was for a “Grade A” building and not just for a parking structure.

Citing figures from the Davis, Langdon and Seah (DLS) construction cost handbook—which is used in the Philippines—Cayetano said during the first hearing that a mere parking building should have cost only P12,000 to P18,000 per sq. m., an average standard office should cost between P26,900 and P33,000 per sq. m., and first-rate office should range from P30,000 to P37,000 per sq. m.

During the follow-up hearing last Aug. 26, architect Arnel Colcol of the Philippine Institute of Architects told Cayetano that a great majority of architects are familiar with and use this DLS handbook, particularly those involved in higher valued construction like the quantity surveyors who represent the owners of buildings under construction when it comes to reviewing contracts and budgeting the necessary allocations for line items.

Mayor Binay’s spiel about the project getting the COA’s seal of approval turned out to be a lie when COA chairperson Grace Pulido Tan herself said during the Aug. 20 hearing that the COA would conduct a special audit of the building’s construction amid “red flags” such as the division of the project into 5 phases—called “chop-chop” by Bondal—and the quick award of all 5 projects to the same contractor.

 Tan noted that for Phase 1 of this parking building project covering a P400-million contract—it was started in 2007 when Vice President Binay was still the mayor—the entire process from the budget allocation to the public bidding and to its award to winning bidder Hilmarcs Construction Corp. was completed in a record of just two-and-a-half months.

 “In our experience, a project of this magnitude and complexity would normally take at least six months or even a year to procure,” Tan said during the hearing.

Tan noted that a city ordinance setting aside P400 million for Phase 1 was approved on Nov. 8, 2000. This project was bid out on Dec. 28, 2007, and then awarded to Hilmarcs Corp. on Jan. 18, 2008.

Hilmarcs Corp. also won the contracts for the four subsequent project phases covering the same parking building.

In last weeek’s follow-up hearing, Tan questioned why over P1 billion was still appropriated for the building for Phases 4 and 5 of the project even if the COA’s technical audit specialists and engineers assessed in 2011 that it was already “habitable and ready for use” after Phase 3 of the construction.

Pagkakumpleto ng Phase 3, and this was after spending about P1.5 billion, [the] project [was] habitable na and ready for use,” she said. “And yet nagkaroon ng Phase 4 and Phase 5, na kung saan nag-appropriate ang city of Makati ng more than P1 billion pa rin.”

Given that the nature of work done in every phase of the five-part construction work was not clearly defined, Pulido told the subcommiittee that a COA team is now being formed to conduct a special audit of this project.

Bondal has his own take on the points raised by the COA chairperson. He said, ““There was no bidding for the P2.7-billion Makati carpark building… The real cost of the building will only be known after it has been completed because it was chopped into phases.”

 “Makati could be called the chop-chop capital of the Philippines,” he said during the first hearing.

The Binays are possibly on tenterhooks right now as more testimonial evidence were gathered from ex-Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado plus Makati City resident auditors and Binay officials in-charge of the project during the follow-up Aug. 26 hearing that confirmed the spate of irregularities attending the parking building.

These officials who appeared clueless on the details of the project included former assistant city engineer Line dela Peña, former Makati City Administrator Marjorie De Veyra, Makati City Administrator Eleno Mendoza and COA engineers Cecilio Pineda, Allan Florentino, Zaldy Lavarro, Roldan Menciano and Flora Ruiz.

Moreover, the Binays are bracing for the possibility of the investigation spilling over to more hanky-panky deals involving other City Hall multimillion or billion-peso projects like the Makati City Hall itself, Ospital ng Makati and the Makati City Science High School.

The Senate subcommittee’s discovery of the “chop-chop” or subdivided construction of the P2.7-billion parking building could—in the words of Sen. Pimentel—“open a Pandora’s box,” given that a number of the Makati government’s infrastructure projects were similarly carried out in phases.

For Cayetano’s allies, this was the reason why the Binay camp had cooked up the graft charges against the senator and his wife as a desperate attempt to divert public attention from the controversy that now threatens to open a can of worms at the Makati City Hall from the time the Veep was mayor.

 “The allegations are simply not true and this was clearly just meant to distract people from the Binay’s corruption hearing later today,” said Taguig City Councilor Darwin Icay on the day that Nancy’s pal Vera and the PAACL had filed the graft charges.

 “Any citizen has a right to file charges but the politics in this are clear – lawyer  Rod Vera is a law school classmate of Rep. Binay and this law  firm with close ties to VP Binay,” added Icay. “The organization was also used as a shadow organization that attacked Secretary Roxas during the Delfin Lee arrest. Their agenda is clear: make up bogus charges to divert attention from the ongoing investigation into the Binay’s corruption scandal involving the overpriced Makati parking building. These are purely lies based on maliciously distorted facts.”

Icay said that, “The City of Taguig made a smart investment in acquiring these new ambulances and emergency response vehicles – they will help. Contrary to Mayor Binay’s claim, these vehicles were not refurbished. We’re making a lot of smart investments to build for the future, including free education, medicine for our seniors and families, and creating jobs.”

The councilor noted that the COA itself had no questions on the purchase of 18 brand new mini-ambulances and fire trucks by the city, “a project funded by Senator Cayetano’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation, as part of the Cayetano couple’s commitment to make every Taguigeño feel like a VIP in his or her city.”

Former socio-economic planning secretary Solita Monsod has a different take on this controversy.

For Monsod, even if the Binay camp’s claim that the graft complaints against them the Veep and Mayor Binay were indeed politically motivated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that such charges are not true and should not be believed.

  “The bukol is as much as P2 billion, which is a lot of money,” wrote Monsod in her Aug. 23 column in a major daily. “Even if that bukol were only P200 million or even just P50 million, that is criminal plunder of the money of the people of Makati, which should be looked into and duly punished. Let’s not forget that. And other charges as well.”

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hvp 09.07.14

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

That Dog Fight at Makati City Hall

That Vera and PAACL are but attack dogs of the Binays is betrayed by the phony nature of the graft charges against the Cayetanos and Taguig’s alderpersons.

 


 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Pre-election fever took over the Senate on the heels of an inquiry initiated by Sen. Antonio Trillanes on the alleged PhP 2 billion overprice of the P2.7-billion 11-storey Makati City parking building that the senators  claim should have cost only P700 million under current construction-cost estimates.

The Binays—from Vice President Jejomar Binay to his two legislator-daughters Senator Nancy and Congresswoman Abigail and son Mayor Jejomar Erwin Jr.—act as one in dismissing  the Senate inquiry as a politically motivated hatchet job done by lawyer-complainant Renato Bondal who belongs to a “political demolition team” targeting the Vice President.

Taking their cue from the Binays, partisans tried to knock the wind from the probe’s sails by filing on the same day graft charges against Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and his mayor-wife Lani of Taguig City before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Clearly the the graft complainant of the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Civil Liberties Inc. (PAACL) comes from the Binays to counter the investigation started by  the Nacionalista Party (NP) tandem of Senators Cayetano and Trillanes to bring down the the front-running Vice-Presudent who leads the 2016 presidential race.

As the Senate probe into the overpriced Makati building began,  PAACLI president Roderick Vera filed before the Ombudsman:

 (1) a graft charge against Cayetano for alleged misuse of P9 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) funds to buy 18 “overpriced” multi-cabs for Taguig City;

 (2) another graft charge against the senator for alleged misuse of PDAF funds on ghost projects in the Taguig barangays of Lingid, Calzada and Maharlika; and

  (3) a graft charge against Mayor Cayetano and her city’s 16 councilors for alleged misuse of P313.249 million in City Hall funds on 3,188 ghost employees.

But Vera’s and PAACL’s coming out of the woodwork on the very day that a Senate blueribbon subcommittee chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III kicked off its Makati City Hall probe seems to prove  only that this was a demolition job unleashed by the Binays.

Consider this: Vera has been a close friend of Rep. Abigail or “Abby” Binay since their law school days at the Ateneo de Manila.

This self-styled graft buster is in fact so close to Abigail that he belongs to her exclusive Thursday Club barkada—along with the congresswoman’s chief of staff Mysty Mendoza and lawyers Martin Subido and Fhilip Sawali. They —that meet regularly at Abigail’s home (No. 53 76th Kamias Street, Dasmarinas Village.)

PAACL is the same group that protested the appointment as Comelec commissioner of Al Parreno, a Liberal Party (LP) nominee identified with Binay’s archrival Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

PAACL was also vocal about the alleged special treatment by Roxas of the police force of Delfin Lee during his arrest in connection with the Globe Asiatique Realty Holding Corp. case.

The only other person identified with PAACL is Sawali, the Thursday Club member who was the beadle of Abigail Binay’s Ateneo law class of 2001.

Talk is that the demolition jobs against the Binays’ political enemies are being run by the congresswoman’s law firm—Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB)—that is based in Legaspi Village in Makati.

Subido and Mendoza used to work at the former Carpio Villaraza and Cruz, once known as The Firm, before eventually leaving CVC to join Congresswoman Abby in Congress.

 That Vera and PAACL are nothing but attack dogs of the Binays is betrayed by the phony nature of the graft charges against the Cayetanos and Taguig’s alderpersons.

 First, PAACL claimed the 18 multi-cabs were overpriced because each was bought by the city government for P498,000 apiece as against the P229,000 rate claimed by Mayor “Jun-Jun” Binay and a lower P190,000 as claimed by Vera himself in his PAACL complaint.

This charge is fake and a case of mislabelling because Taguig’s City Hall bought brand-new air-conditioned units for P498,000 that were used as  ambulances. What the complainant referred to is the acquisition cost for refurbished, second-hand units with no air-conditioning equipment, the cheaper multi-cabs that Makati gives out to its barangays.

Second, PAACL claims that the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the release of P313.249 million in city government’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds for 3,188 ghost employees in 2012.

Both points—the COA report and the hiring of ghost employees—are false. There was no mention of any ghost employee in the COA report for 2012, much less any question by auditors on the use of city government funds for Job Order (JO) personnel.

 The COA found nothing irregular about the hiring of such workers doing regular tasks amid the shortage of permanent personnel, and even noted in the 2012 report that City Hall had prepared the payrolls for these workers on the basis of the biometric machine readings of daily time records of the existing plantilla positions.

So, if there are biometric machine records of these employees’ daily work attendance, where exactly are the ghost employees that Vera and PAACL complain about in the graft charge?

In fact, what the COA stated in the 2012 report was that in response to the Commission’s observation in 2007 on City Hall’s lack of personnel, Taguig City  government hired 3,188 JO personnel in the city’s various development programs “to augment the present workforce.”

COA points out that the city government is looking into revising its current plantilla position to address this concern over the lack of permanent staff, but added that such an effort will take long because “it will entail a lot of time due to Civil Service requirements and procedures.”

 A total of 1,258 were assigned or deployed to the Business Development and Information Technology Program; another 1,007 to the Project Management and Infra Development Program; and 923 more to the Community Welfare and Development Program, notes the COA.

COA noted in the 2012 report that: “Verification disclosed that the personnel in the above-mentioned programs were actually assigned/deployed to different Offices in the absence or lack of regular personnel performing regular functions/services. Management justified that job order services are needed to implement and facilitate its various programs, though, the City is now considering the revision of the existing plantilla positions to address the said concern. However, it will entail a lot of time due to Civil Service requirements and procedures.”

  “It is worth mentioning,” added the COA report, “that the biometric machine readings of daily time records were the basis of the HRMO in the preparation of payrolls for these personnel. For those not using the biometric machine, the manual time records are the basis of the payroll preparation. Payroll payments are through Land Bank of the Philippines Automated Teller Machine.”

The graft charge about the alleged misuse of Cayetano’s P165 million in PDAF allocations is similarly a hoax because more than P162 million of the said pork for Taguig City were actually combined outlays from Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile when he was still Senate President, ex-Speaker Prospero Nograles and former Taguig Rep. Henry Duenas.

Cayetano’s PDAF outlay that was mentioned by COA in the report only totaled P2.6 million of the P165-million pork allocations for Taguig, and it only referred to delayed documentation of the project.

“Probably , the Vice President is in panic  mode already because he knows  we’re getting closer to the truth,”  Trillanes said the day after the follow-up hearing.

Trillanes also vowed to pursue the probe despite VP Binay’s “attempts” to stop it by trying to get public sympathy.

Mayor Jun-Jun Binay was so fidgety as he tried—but failed—to explain before the Senate blueribbon subcommittee last Aug. 20 that there was no overprice and that the COA had found nothing wrong with it.

In fact, the mayor seemed too dazed and confused during the hearing that at one point, under Cayetano’s grilling, Binay admitted the possibility of an overprice in this P2.7-billion Makati project.

 Asked by the senator if it was possible there was an overprice by his underlings and that he was just not aware of it, Binay surprisingly replied: “There will be a possibility, your Honor. You’re right sir.”

At the very least, the mayor’s obviously uninformed answers to questions about the project indicated that he was not a hands-on chief executive and simply relied on the city government’s engineers to do infrastructure projects on their own without guidance or supervision.

Binay told the subcommittee that city engineers had briefed him about what needed to be done next and about the cost of the project, adding that, “We’ll have to rely on them, on their findings and recommendations.”

 “I’m the last to sign,” said the mayor in a news report.

If Binay had been on top of things with regard to this controversial project, it would have been impossible for him to miss that the project costs reported to him by the city engineers were way, way beyond the prevailing market rates.

As pointed out by defeated mayoralty bet Renato Bondal during the Aug. 20 hearing, the Makati parking building cost P84,000 per square meter, based on the P2.7 billion budget for the 31,900-square-meter edifice.

This is definitely way too much for a parking building, considering that Bondal had bared that this construction cost is about double the P2 billion budget for the posh 46-storey Shang Grand Tower (about P40,000 per sq. m.) and P2.8 billion for the 57-storey Greenbelt Residences (or P45,000 per sq. m.)

Federico Cuervo, a property appraiser from Cuervo Valuers & Advisory, pegged during the public hearing at P23,000 (based on 2007 prices) the average cost of a building in the city’s Barangay Poblacion, where the parking building now stands. And this, he said, was for a “Grade A” building and not just for a parking structure.

Citing figures from the Davis, Langdon and Seah (DLS) construction cost handbook—which is used in the Philippines—Cayetano said during the first hearing that a mere parking building should have cost only P12,000 to P18,000 per sq. m., an average standard office should cost between P26,900 and P33,000 per sq. m., and first-rate office should range from P30,000 to P37,000 per sq. m.

During the follow-up hearing last Aug. 26, architect Arnel Colcol of the Philippine Institute of Architects told Cayetano that a great majority of architects are familiar with and use this DLS handbook, particularly those involved in higher valued construction like the quantity surveyors who represent the owners of buildings under construction when it comes to reviewing contracts and budgeting the necessary allocations for line items.

Mayor Binay’s spiel about the project getting the COA’s seal of approval turned out to be a lie when COA chairperson Grace Pulido Tan herself said during the Aug. 20 hearing that the COA would conduct a special audit of the building’s construction amid “red flags” such as the division of the project into 5 phases—called “chop-chop” by Bondal—and the quick award of all 5 projects to the same contractor.

 Tan noted that for Phase 1 of this parking building project covering a P400-million contract—it was started in 2007 when Vice President Binay was still the mayor—the entire process from the budget allocation to the public bidding and to its award to winning bidder Hilmarcs Construction Corp. was completed in a record of just two-and-a-half months.

 “In our experience, a project of this magnitude and complexity would normally take at least six months or even a year to procure,” Tan said during the hearing.

Tan noted that a city ordinance setting aside P400 million for Phase 1 was approved on Nov. 8, 2000. This project was bid out on Dec. 28, 2007, and then awarded to Hilmarcs Corp. on Jan. 18, 2008.

Hilmarcs Corp. also won the contracts for the four subsequent project phases covering the same parking building.

In last weeek’s follow-up hearing, Tan questioned why over P1 billion was still appropriated for the building for Phases 4 and 5 of the project even if the COA’s technical audit specialists and engineers assessed in 2011 that it was already “habitable and ready for use” after Phase 3 of the construction.

Pagkakumpleto ng Phase 3, and this was after spending about P1.5 billion, [the] project [was] habitable na and ready for use,” she said. “And yet nagkaroon ng Phase 4 and Phase 5, na kung saan nag-appropriate ang city of Makati ng more than P1 billion pa rin.”

Given that the nature of work done in every phase of the five-part construction work was not clearly defined, Pulido told the subcommiittee that a COA team is now being formed to conduct a special audit of this project.

Bondal has his own take on the points raised by the COA chairperson. He said, ““There was no bidding for the P2.7-billion Makati carpark building… The real cost of the building will only be known after it has been completed because it was chopped into phases.”

 “Makati could be called the chop-chop capital of the Philippines,” he said during the first hearing.

The Binays are possibly on tenterhooks right now as more testimonial evidence were gathered from ex-Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado plus Makati City resident auditors and Binay officials in-charge of the project during the follow-up Aug. 26 hearing that confirmed the spate of irregularities attending the parking building.

These officials who appeared clueless on the details of the project included former assistant city engineer Line dela Peña, former Makati City Administrator Marjorie De Veyra, Makati City Administrator Eleno Mendoza and COA engineers Cecilio Pineda, Allan Florentino, Zaldy Lavarro, Roldan Menciano and Flora Ruiz.

Moreover, the Binays are bracing for the possibility of the investigation spilling over to more hanky-panky deals involving other City Hall multimillion or billion-peso projects like the Makati City Hall itself, Ospital ng Makati and the Makati City Science High School.

The Senate subcommittee’s discovery of the “chop-chop” or subdivided construction of the P2.7-billion parking building could—in the words of Sen. Pimentel—“open a Pandora’s box,” given that a number of the Makati government’s infrastructure projects were similarly carried out in phases.

For Cayetano’s allies, this was the reason why the Binay camp had cooked up the graft charges against the senator and his wife as a desperate attempt to divert public attention from the controversy that now threatens to open a can of worms at the Makati City Hall from the time the Veep was mayor.

 “The allegations are simply not true and this was clearly just meant to distract people from the Binay’s corruption hearing later today,” said Taguig City Councilor Darwin Icay on the day that Nancy’s pal Vera and the PAACL had filed the graft charges.

 “Any citizen has a right to file charges but the politics in this are clear – lawyer  Rod Vera is a law school classmate of Rep. Binay and this law  firm with close ties to VP Binay,” added Icay. “The organization was also used as a shadow organization that attacked Secretary Roxas during the Delfin Lee arrest. Their agenda is clear: make up bogus charges to divert attention from the ongoing investigation into the Binay’s corruption scandal involving the overpriced Makati parking building. These are purely lies based on maliciously distorted facts.”

Icay said that, “The City of Taguig made a smart investment in acquiring these new ambulances and emergency response vehicles – they will help. Contrary to Mayor Binay’s claim, these vehicles were not refurbished. We’re making a lot of smart investments to build for the future, including free education, medicine for our seniors and families, and creating jobs.”

The councilor noted that the COA itself had no questions on the purchase of 18 brand new mini-ambulances and fire trucks by the city, “a project funded by Senator Cayetano’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation, as part of the Cayetano couple’s commitment to make every Taguigeño feel like a VIP in his or her city.”

Former socio-economic planning secretary Solita Monsod has a different take on this controversy.

For Monsod, even if the Binay camp’s claim that the graft complaints against them the Veep and Mayor Binay were indeed politically motivated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that such charges are not true and should not be believed.

  “The bukol is as much as P2 billion, which is a lot of money,” wrote Monsod in her Aug. 23 column in a major daily. “Even if that bukol were only P200 million or even just P50 million, that is criminal plunder of the money of the people of Makati, which should be looked into and duly punished. Let’s not forget that. And other charges as well.”

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hvp 09.07.14

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Ang Papaplit kay PNoy

Diretsahan

 


ni Horacio Paredes

 

   Dapat nang payagan nating bumalik sa pagka-Pangulo ang ating Presidente  sa 2016? Ang aking sagot, kahit na baka ang pumalit sa kaniya ay pulitikong pinagdududahan ng marami na yumama habang naglilingkod sa bayan ay ganoon pa rin. Nang tumakbo siya sa pagka-Pangulo nalalaman niyang isang termino na anim  na taon lamang ang kaniyang pinasukan. Kung kinulang ito. sori na lang. Kung hindi pa tapos ang gusto niya sanang gawain, wala tayong magagawa. Kung hindi niya nagugustohan ang maaaring pumalit sa kaniya, anong magagawa natin? Mas maganda nga sana kung kaniyang pinaghandaan ang katapusan ng kaniyang paglingkod bilang pngulo at inihanda niya ang papalit sa kaniya. Ito sana ay si Mar Roxas,ngunit, hindi naman tinanggap ng tao. Kaya ayan,  kung sino ang piliin ng mamamayan, iyon ang mgagiging Pangulo.

Sayang, dahil talaga nga namang napakaganda ng balita  makaraang makakuha ng upgrade sa rating sa dalawang international group na indikasyon umano na nagbubu­nga na ang repormang sinimulan ni Pangulong Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III sa nagdaang apat na taon.

Tumaas ng pitong puntos ang ranking ng Pilipinas sa Global Competitiveness Report ng World Economic Forum (WEF).

Ang Pilipinas ay ika-52 na sa 140 bansa sa mundo sa WEF report para sa taong 2014-2015 mula sa dating ika-59 noong nakaraang taon at umaabot na sa 33 notches ang itinaas nito simula noong 2010 kaya maituturing ang ating Pinas na most improved country.

 “The latest survey registered improvements in macroeconomic environment and institutions, as well as ethics and corruption — citing the reforms over the past four years as having bolstered our economic growth,” pagmamalaki ng Malakanyang.

Sayang. Dapat sanang napaghandaan ni PNoy ang kaniyang pag-alis upang ang makapalit sa kaniya ay kung sino man ang kaniyang  napili. Ngunit, hindi na ito mangyayari at malamang na sa 2016, pag-upo ng kung sino man ang uupong Pangulo’y malamang na makakaramdam tayo ng biglang pagbaba, lalo na’t kung ang papalit ay balik sa dating pulitika’t gawain.

* * *

Matapang na sinabi ni Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang na wawakasan na sa loob ng isang taon ang New People’s Army (NPA) para lubos na makausad na umano ang economic development ng bansa lalo na sa kanayunan.

 “Ang aking target ay ideklara na ang buong bansa na payapa na at lubusang handa na para sa pag-unlad bago ako bumaba sa aking puwesto.

Ang mangyari nga ay mas mapaaga pa kaysa sa isang taon at hindi na aabot pa sa campaign plan natin na hanggang 2016 bago bumaba sa puwesto ang Pangulo,” ang walang kaabug-abog at buong tapang na sagot ni Catapang nang siya’y tanungin kung ano ang plano niya sa NPA.

Kumpara kay Catapang, ang dating AFP chief na si retired Gen. Emmanuel Bautista ay tila mas naging maingat sa pagbi­bitaw ng “fearless forecast” pagdating sa pag­lipol ng NPA tangan ang Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) o Oplan Bayanihan, ang bagong counter­insurgency program ng AFP.

Kinumpirma na kahapon sa ma­kapangyarihang Commission on Appointments (CA) ang “appointment” ni Catapang at 51 iba pang opi­syal ng militar. Sana naman ay matupad ito ng ating militar. Sa MAlaysia at Indonesia ay matagal nang natigilin nila ang mga komunista. Dapat sa atin tin sa Pilipinas ay matagal na ring nawala ang mga komunista. Sana’y kayang ipatupad ni Catapang ang kaniyang pinapangako.

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hvp (09.05.14)

 

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On Judicial Overreach

  Consider this — in 2009, the year before Aquino assumed office, the country’s GDP growth rate was just above 1%. Since he assumed power in 2010, the country’s average GDP growth rate has been 6.3%. In 2009, the Philippines’ Gross National Income was $627 billion; in 2013, it was $770 billion. And since 2009 the country’s total foreign exchange reserves have doubled, to more than $80 billion,” says Wagner.

 

 


 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Should the president seek a second term? The easy answer id “No.” He ran under a Constitution that gives a President only one term with no re-election, The original contract was that he would serve only one term. Thus, should he no want something more after that one term, he would be bending the rules. While this President would not want more than that. The possibility that someone will come who would want to stay forever is not a far-fetched one. The problem we have is that we do not choose our leaders with a view of the future.

We choose our leaders based on popularity, not on what is best for the country.

As the debate on whether President Benigno Aquino III should seek a second term or not heats up, one American executive says that he should – if only to sustain the economic gains achieved during his term.

 “If the Constitution is not changed, and Aquino does not run, win, and serve a second term, the country risks losing its hard won gains and could easily fall back into some bad habits,” David Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions, said in an article published in the US-based news website Huffington Post Tuesday.

Wagner cites the economic gains achieved during Aquino’s term to support his call for a second term for the president.

 “Consider this — in 2009, the year before Aquino assumed office, the country’s GDP growth rate was just above 1%. Since he assumed power in 2010, the country’s average GDP growth rate has been 6.3%. In 2009, the Philippines’ Gross National Income was $627 billion; in 2013, it was $770 billion. And since 2009 the country’s total foreign exchange reserves have doubled, to more than $80 billion,” says Wagner.

Wagner said that Aquino was able to implement reforms in the government in order to achieve the country’s economic achievements.

 “This is due, in large part, to Aquino’s refusal to continue the regrettable tradition of corruption, nepotism and abuse of power, and choose instead to turn the country around by stabilizing the political process, reforming the internal revenue service and customs bureau, and making good governance the hallmark of his administration, rather than an historical aberration,” Wagner added.

The CEO also said that the “Filipinos owe it to themselves to consider amending the Constitution.”

He also claimed that “most Filipinos are probably able to say their lives are better today than they were four years ago.”

* * *

The President said last week that his willingness to amend the Constitution was in order to clip the powers of the Supreme Court and not to seek a second term.

 “It seems judicial overreach has to be reviewed and we have to put limits to it,” Aquino said.

Wagner’s statements contradicted those by the New York Times which, in an editorial last week, criticized Aquino for considering reelection and for wanting to clip the powers of the Supreme Court that had ruled as unconstitutional one of his economic programs.

* * *

Of late. the President’s plans include visiting Belgium, France, Spain  and Germany to establish stronger relations with the European Union and invite investors to the Philippines. He is also visiting the United Nations  on the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon and to address the United Nations in New York on climate change at the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US President Barack Obama in the light of the Philippine experience from a series of natural disasters.

Aquino said his openness to amending the 1987 Constitution had nothing to do with seeking a second term, but rather concerned the need to limit the judiciary’s supposed “meddling” with the two other branches of government.

But while Aquino appeared to have shut the door on the idea of running for a second term, he had not stepped back from his stand that the powers of the judiciary should be clipped, especially after the Supreme Court struck down his economic stimulus plan, the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The President reiterated that he was open to amending the Constitution to set “limits” to “judicial overreach.”

 “It seems judicial overreach has to be reviewed and we have to put limits to it,” he said. “It seems that the judiciary has been meddling a lot and this makes it difficult for us to run this government.”

But he also clarified that his response did not mean that he would “automatically go after an additional term.”

Aquino elaborated on that statement, saying he was now “consulting” with the people on how to “ensure that what we have started will continue and become permanent.”

On his own, he said, he could tell his supporters that “there’s a limit” to his term in office. But he said he also had to deal with concerns about continuity of programs introduced on his watch.

 “I also have to provide answers to that,” he says.

In considering constitutional amendments, a move he had consistently rejected before, the President was apparently still hurting over certain Supreme Court decisions.

He insisted that government officials who implemented DAP-funded projects were considered “guilty until proven innocent” based on the Supreme Court’s 13-0 decision on July 1 declaring certain DAP practices unconstitutional.

Last week, Aquino appointed to the Supreme Court Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, who defended the DAP in the high court and later asked the tribunal to reconsider its decision.

The President also resurrected former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2010, maintaining that it violated the Constitution.

Aquino used Corona’s midnight appointment as a major argument in campaigning for the ouster of the Chief Justice, who was eventually impeached in December 2011 then removed in May 2012.

The President replaced Corona with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. But even Sereno and his other appointees to the Supreme Court found certain practices under the DAP unconstitutional.

One consolation for this President about the present Supreme Court is that he apparently chose well  when he appointed Sereno as Chief Justice.  She apparently has her own mind and rules as she sees fit. Thus, what the President sees as judicial overreach  is simply the Court acting on its own and doing what it should be doing  – ruling based on how it sees fit on these issues whether or not Malacanang is happy over the decisions.

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hvp 09.04.14

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

The End of Impeachments/Grace Poe for President?

The Senator told SyCip that she still had no intention of seeking higher office. But she was nevertheless grateful to have his trust.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

            Eventually, the House of Representatives justice committee on dismissed the three impeachment complaints filed against President Benigno S. Aquino III as insufficient in substance.

            After four hours of debates, each of the three impeachment complaints received only four affirmative votes, 54 negative votes and zero abstentions.

The first impeachment complaint accused Aquino of committing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of his administration. It was signed by 28 individuals, including leaders of various sectors and members of the academe.

            The second case filed by youth groups also stemmed from the DAP and alleged that Aquino committed betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption with the controversial stimulus program, which was declared partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

            The third complaint accused Aquino of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for entering into an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.

            The three complaints were filed last July and were endorsed by lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc.

            Aquino had expressed confidence that the impeachment complaints filed against him will be dismissed for lack of merit.

            He noted that the cases were filed by those from the radical left who only want to oust him.

            The House committee on justice junked all 3 impeachment complaints against President Benigno Aquino III,effectively ending all further debates on the cases.

            The committee voted 54-4 to declare the first two impeachment complaints over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), as well as the 3rd complaint over the Philippine-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, as insufficient in substance. Each complaint was voted on separately.

            Going by what the congressmen who would impeach the President for signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States, the Philippines’ weak military posture would have not have sufficed if we did not have that side agreement with the United States in the event of a shooting war with China.

            For now, we are at least  assured that our long-time ally — the US — will be on our side in the event of a war we did not want against with our neighboring aggressive military bully.

* * *

Washington SyCip, founder of accounting firm SGV & Co., asked Senator  Grace Poe at the Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility in a hotel in Makati City about her running for President.

The Senator told SyCip that she still had no intention of seeking higher office. But she was nevertheless grateful to have his trust.

“Of course, especially coming from Washington SyCip, it’s an honor to have his trust and for him to consider me as somebody who can probably give more by serving in higher office,” Poe said when asked in the Senate about SyCip’s statement.

She said she “really admires” SyCip, 93.

“He’s a captain of the industry. More importantly, he inspires many also because of his contributions and positivism,” she added.

The senator also revealed that SyCip had been an old friend of the family.

Her grandfather, Actor and film maker Fernando Poe Sr., was one of SGV’s first clients. And SyCip had been quick to support her father’s bid for the presidency in 2004.

“Washington SyCip was one of the first supporters of FPJ when he ran for President, so maybe he has a soft spot. That’s all,” she said.

Still, she is not yet convinced about running for President.

“I told him I have no plans. Right now, I’m barely over a year in office and I have yet a lot to prove. But again, it’s an honor especially coming from him,” she said.

Poe said she did not want to make a big deal about the matter, when asked by the Inquirer about SyCip’s question to her.

She ranks behind Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has early on announced his plan to run for higher office.

Poe was the top-ranked candidate during the 2013 senatorial election. It was the first time she ran for public office.

Poe has been known for championing the freedom of information bill, which was already passed in the Senate but is still stuck in the House of Representatives.

She has also spoken out against electoral fraud, recalling the fate of her father who ran and lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.

One thing that Grace has going for her is that she has at least taken a raide on the MRT, even if only once.

* * *

The Manila Metro Rail Transit System, also known as MRT Line 3, MRT-3, is a rapid transit line in Metro Manila, generally running in a north-south direction along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Although it has characteristics of light rail, such as the type of rolling stock used, it is more akin to a rapid transit system owing to its total grade separation and high passenger throughput. Envisioned in the 1970s as part of the Metropolitan Manila Strategic Mass Rail Transit Development Plan, the thirteen-station, 16.9-kilometer (10.5 mi) line was the second rapid transit line to be built in Metro Manila when it started operations in 1999. It is operated by the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private company operating in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) under a Build-Operate-Transfer agreement.

Total ridership however significantly exceeds the line’s built maximum capacity, with various solutions being proposed or implemented to alleviate chronic congestion in addition to the procurement of new rolling stock. However, these solutions have had a mixed effect on ridership, and experts have questioned the line’s structural integrity owing to overcrowding onboard the line despite pronouncements that the system in general is safe.

MRT-3 is integrated with the public transit system in Metro Manila, and passengers also take various forms of road-based public transport, such as buses, to and from a station to reach their intended destination. Although the line aimed to reduce traffic congestion and travel times along EDSA, the transportation system has only been partially successful due to the rising number of motor vehicles and rapid urbanization. Expanding the network’s capacity to accommodate the rising number of passengers is set on tackling this problem.

The line serves 13 stations on 16.9 kilometers (10.5 mi) of line,[1][2] spaced on average around 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) apart. The rails are mostly elevated and erected either over or along the roads covered, with sections below ground before and after Buendia and Ayala stations, the only underground stations on the line. The southern terminus of the line is the Taft Avenue station at the intersection between Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and Taft Avenue, while the northern terminus is the North Avenue station along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa, Quezon City. The rail line serves the cities that Circumferential Road 4 (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) passes through: Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay and Quezon City

During the construction of the first line of the Manila Light Rail Transit System in the early 1980s, Electrowatt Engineering Services of Zürich designed a comprehensive plan for metro service in Metro Manila. The plan—still used as the basis for planning new metro lines—consisted of a 150-kilometer (93 mi) network of rapid transit lines spanning all major corridors within 20 years, including a line on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, the region’s busiest road corridor.

The MRTC was subsequently awarded a Build-Operate-Transfer contract by the DOTC. The DOTC would have ownership of the system and assume all administrative functions, such as the regulation of fares and operations. The MRTC would have responsibility over construction and maintenance of the system and the procurement of spare parts for trains. In exchange, the DOTC would pay the MRTC monthly fees for a certain number of years to reimburse any incurred costs.[10]

Construction started on October 15, 1996, with a BOT agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MRTC. An amended turnkey agreement was later signed on September 16, 1997 with a consortium of companies, which included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Sumitomo Corporation, and a local company, EEI Corporation, which was subcontracted for civil works.

On December 15, 1999, the initial section from North Avenue to Buendia was inaugurated by President Joseph Estrada, with all remaining stations opening on July 20, 2000, a little over a month past the original deadline. However, ridership was initially far below expectations, with passengers complaining of the stations’ steep stairs and the general lack of connectivity with other modes of public transportation. Passengers also complained of high ticket prices, with the maximum fare of ₱34 at the time being significantly higher than a comparable journey on those lines operated by the LRTA and PNR. Although the MRTC projected 300,000-400,000 passengers riding the system daily, in the first month of operation the system saw a ridership of only 40,000 passengers daily. The system was even criticized as a white elephant alongside the Manila Light Rail Transit System and the Metro Manila Skyway.

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hvp 09.03.14

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

Tungkol kay Grace

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

   Sa pagpili natin ng bagong Pangulo sa 2016, hindi na tayo dapat pumili kung sino ang popular o iyong mga mgagandaang sinasabi. Hindi dapat na kung sino-sina lamang. Dapat na piliin natin ang makakatulong sa ating bansa at kung sino ang merong plano upang umunlad ang Pilipinas at tayong mga Pilipino. Kadalasan, tayong mga botante ay niloloko lamang ng mga kandidato at tayo namang mga botante ay handang magpaloko kung kaya nga ganito ang ating kabuhayan at ganito ang ating bansa — na hindi umuunlad at tayo nama’y hindi umuunlad. Papaano naman kasi tayong uunlad na ang ating mga pinipili ay niloloko lamang tayo at tayo naman ay handang-handang magpaloko sa mga kandidato.

Meron kandidato diyan na magkukuwento ng kaniyang mahirap na buhay noong nag-aaral pa siyang naka-tsinelas lamang sa pagpasok sa eskwelahan. Ngunit, hindi naman niya binabanggit na ngayon ay sobra-sobra na ang kaniyang salapi kahit na wala naman silang ngosyo o pinagkikitaan kundi lamang ang gobiyerno. Ang mga anak ay nasa LGU, nasa Kongreso at sa Senado. Milyonariyo na sila at ang kaniyang mga anak at asawa ngunit wala naman silang pinagkikitaan kundi lamang ang kanilang mga puwesto sa pamahalaan. Meron bang pakinabang ang tao sa pamiyang ito. Wala. Lahat ng pakinabangan ay sa kanila lamang, Parang wala namang nakakapansin na sila’y yumayaman sa paglilingkod sa bayan dahil kada halalan, sila nama nang sila pa rin ang pinipili ng botante na maibalik sa puwesto.

Meron tayong bagong salta pa lamang sa pulitika. Siya’y tumakbo bilang senador at napili naman siya bilang isa sa mga namumunong senador noong huling halalan. Ito sy si Grace Poe na anak ng dating tjmakbo sa pagka-Pangulo ngunit nadaya sa bilangan at  tinalo ni Gloria kahit na marami ang naniniwala na si Fernando Poe, Jr. ang tunay na nanalo sa halalang iyon.

* * *

Kamakailan lamang, nakipagsabayan si Senador Grace Poe sa bugso ng mga tao sa pila para makasakay ng Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) kaninang umaga.

Bandang 8:20 nakasakay ng tren si Poe na bumiyahe mula North Avenue station hanggang Taft Avenue Station.

Sinubukan ni Poe sumakay ng MRT upang maranasan ang dinaranas ng mga parokyano nito.

Ang senador ang tagapangulo ng Senate public services sub-committee on transportation na magsasagawa ng pagdinig tungkol sa MRT.

Siya rin ang naghain ng Senate bill 2266 na naglalayong bumuo ng National Transportation Safety Board na mamamahala sa imbestigasyon ng mga aksidente sa paliparan, pantalan, kalsada, at maging sa mga tren.

* * *

Kamakailan ay nagtagpo si Grace at ang isang matandang negosiyante na kilalalng-kilala sa larangan ng ngegosiyo. Na-ala-ala pa ni Washington Sycip na 93 na ngayon na ang lolo ni Grace, ang aktor at Producer na si Fernando Poe, Sr., na ama ni FPJ, ay isa mga naging kliyente ng SGV bago pa nagka-World War II. Kaya nga noong tumakbo si FPJ sa pagka-pangulo’y sinuportahan rin ni Washington SyCip. Ang payo niya kay Grace ay timakbo dapat sa pagka-Pangulo. Sagot naman ni Grace na nagsisimula pa lamang siya sa pulitika at marami pa siyang dapat na pag-aralan, bago siya sumabak sa pagka-Pangulo ng Pilipinas,

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hvp (09.03.14)

 

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

Our Awful MRT/ Make Nutrition a Priority

Malaya 09.0314

 

MRT 3 operations director Renato San Jose reported that the monthly average service interruptions increased from 1.83 train stoppages in 2008 to four in 2014. The average loops or round trips of trains per month also decreased from 6,585 in 2011 to 6,338 in 2014.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

           Don’t blame the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) for the sad state of our Metro Rail Transit (MRT). While the MRT is supposed to be run by the MRTC, in reality they have been kept out of the decision-making by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in all areas  where the  MRTC could have helped. For instance, the DOTC could have allowed MRTC to buy coaches, which they were supposed to do after MRTC bought into the MRT during Gloria’s presidency. Apparently, though, the DOTC preferred to buy the trains directly from a Chinese company. Thus, if the new trains turn out to be as bad as the present equipment, blame the DOTC which has been keeping the MRTC from doing its job of running the MRTC which they bought from the government during Gloria’s term.

           Thus, the DOTC has only itself to blame for the poor state of things of the MRT. MRTC, while listed as the owner, has been kept out of the decisions which have all been done by the DOTC, In fact, even when MRTC offered to supply new trains at no cost to the government, the DOTC went ahead with ordering new trains from a Chinese company, which makes me wonder why a government agency will decide to buy rather than accept the trains offered by MRTC (at no cost to government.

            No wonder that  defects on the trains, equipment and facilities of the much-maligned Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 have increased in recent years.

During a Senate hearing on Monday, MRT 3 operations director Renato San Jose reported that the monthly average service interruptions increased from 1.83 train stoppages in 2008 to four in 2014.

The average loops or round trips of trains per month also decreased from 6,585 in 2011 to 6,338 in 2014.

In the same period, the monthly average defects on other equipment and facilities have also worsened: station computer system, 18 to 118; escalators, 97 to 204; and elevators, 82 to 342.

As of August 29, 11 of the 34 elevators and 10 of the 46 escalators in various MRT stations are not operational. All ticket issuing machines are also not functioning.

“Wala na po kahit isang gumagana. Lahat po sila ay sira na,” San Jose said. “Wala na pong pwedeng bumili na pasahero doon po sa ating mga vending machine.”

Even the air-conditioning units of the MRT 3 have been experiencing more defects, from 24 in 2012 to 336 in 2014.

A Senate public service transportation sub-committee is currently holding an investigation into the state of the MRT 3 in light of an accident last month when a train crashed into the barrier of the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City, injuring more than 30 people.

One can only admire the decision made by the government during the Gloria administration to bring in a business partner that would have saved the government from having to explain the inadequacy of its MRT services by getting out from under the mess that the government has made of itself by insisting on running the MRT by itself instead of turning it over to the MRTC, which was ready to take it over and take all the blame for how badly the service is being run.

On top of all this, the decision to fire the long-time maintenance provider for the trains in favor of new companies that had been set up precisely to win the maintenance contracts for the MRT has not turned out too well. In fact, the new maintenance contractors have revealed themselves as incompetents.

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The Philippine Association of Nutrition (PAN), Inc. urged Filipinos to make nutrition a priority, following the result of the 8th National Nutrition Survey, that revealed one in every 10 Filipino adults has chronic energy deficiency (CED) or nutritional deficiency.

   “By CED, this would mean that a person may have the following, if not all: inadequate food intake, impaired tissue growth, anorexia from intestinal parasitism, anorexia from trace element deficiency, and anorexia with general chronic infection,” explained PAN president Dr. Gemiliano Aligui.

   By gender, more females (10.5%) are energy deficient compared to their male counterpart (9.4%).

   The results, which form part of the 8thNational Nutrition Survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, were derived from a study conducted from June 2013 to April 2014, covering all 17 regions of the country, 79 provinces, 45,047 households, and 172,323 individuals.

   Despite the findings on CED, Dr. Aligui was quick to add that there was an improvement in CED statistics in the country, explaining that from 1993 to 2013, there is a decreasing trend in its prevalence from 13.9 percent to 10.3 percent.

   But he revealed that while there was a decrease in the number of CED cases, there was, however, an increasing trend in the prevalence of overweight and obesity—from 16.6 percent in 1993 to 29.9 percent in 2013.

   The study learned that three in every 10 adults are overweight and obese, with more females than males falling under the category.

   “So, while we are concerned with chronic energy deficiency, overweight and obesity are more problematic,” he added.

   Dr. Aligui, who is also the chair of the Institutional Research Ethics Review Committee of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology, also detailed the importance of complete nutrition to overall health, as proven by his study titled “Adult energy deficiency: What we should need to know about vitamins and minerals.”

   He said that the significance of getting the complete micronutrients all at the same time is that metabolic processes are made efficient when all micronutrients are available in the body. Free radicals are better eliminated with a balance of micronutrients such as chromium, zinc, selenium, lithium, and vanadium,”

   Dr. Aligui added that it is important to note that this observation thus dismisses the growing concern among weight-conscious Filipinos that multivitamins cause weight gain.

   “Contrary to popular belief, taking vitamins actually increases metabolism, which is the process of breaking down food for energy or building body cells and tissues.”

   “You should consider filling the nutritional gap with a multivitamin that is complete with essential vitamins and minerals,” he said.

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

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hvp 09.02.14

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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.

Tungkol Kina Binay

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

            Meron tayong batas (R.A 3160) na nagsasabing “kung ang isang  public official ai napatunayang nakapagipon  ng pg-aari o kayamanan na sobra sa kaniyang sahod at iba pa niyang kinitang legal, ang bagay na ito’y sapat na bilang ‘ground for dismissal’ o pagtangal sa kaniya sa pwesto.”

            Ang matagal ko nang pinagtatakahan ay kung papaano naging bilyonario ang mag Binay sa ganoong wala naman silang negosyo kundi lamang puliika. Mabuti nga’t iniimbistigahan sila ng Senado. Kung mapatunayan na hindi nanggaling ang kanilang kayamanan sa kaban ng bansa at kung mapaliwanag nila na hindi sila kurakot, dapat lamang na gawain nating Pangulo si Jejomar. Ngunit kung wala pa ring maayos na paliwanag, hindi dapat siyang maging Pangulo!

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Kung ating pagisipan kung ano ang  sinasabi ng R 3160, hindi ba’t  dapat na nagdududa tayo sa ating mga opisyal at ating babatayan ang kanilang paraan ng pagpapayaman dahil baka sila nga’y nagkakaroon na ng kayamamang hindi nila maaaring ipaliwanag kung saan ito nanggaling o kung papaano iyo napunta sa kanila?

Hindi dapat nagtataka ang mga namumuno sa atin kung tayo’y nagpapkita na bukas ang ating mga mata at nakikita natin ang lahat na angyayari. Kapag ang sagot ng isang “public servant” sa mga hinala ng mamamayan ay galit at ang sinasabi ay pawang kasinungalingan  lamang ang lahat na mga duda sa kaniya kahti hindi pa tapos ang pag-imbestiga sa kaniya, parang pinapa-alam  na niya na meron siyang tinatago na ayaw niyang ilabas. Ano ang masama kung siya’y magpaliwanag dahil dapat lang naman na hindi natin sila dapat ituring na sila’y mga anghel at santo kundi mga tao lang naman gaya rin natin na maaarii ring matukso ng slapi o kayamanan o kapangharian.

Hindi masama na magduda. Ang masama ay ang mahuli sila sa katiwalian.

‘Ika nga ng batas na kung hindi nila mapaliwanang kung papaano sila yumaman, hindi na kinakailangan ng ebidensiya, agad na silang ituturing na nagnakaw kapag wala silang paliwanag kung papaano sila yumaman. Hindi kinakailangang patunayan. Kung di mapaliwanag, Guilty!

* * *

Hindi dapat na napipikon ang mga Binay sa nangyayaring pagsuri kung saan nanggaling at papaanong yumaman ang kanilang pamilya. Dapat lamang na magduda tayo dahil wala naman silang ibang inaasikaso kundi ang pamamahala ng Makati at ng bansa. Meron silang alkalde, kongreista, senadora at bise presidente. Lahat sila’y mga public servant. Anong masama kung imbistigahan sila sa ganoong nalalaman naman ng lahat na bago sila pumasok sa pagiging mga public servant ay hindi naman sila mga milyonaryo. Sa totoo kung mapatunayan nila na wala silang kayamamanang galing sa gobiyerno o mula sa hindi mapaliwanag kung saan nga galing, mas bibilib pa nga sa kanila ang mamayan dahil maaayos naman pala silang mga kawani ng bayan? 

Ngunit, kung magagalit sila na sila’y pinagdududahan at iniimbistigahan, di ba’t para na rin nilang  sinasabi na indi sila dapat iniimbistigashan dahil baka merong lumabas na hindi maganda?

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hvp (08.29.14)

 

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

Nasaan na ang Million People?

Diretsahan

ni Horacio Paredes

          Ayon kay ground commander Supt. Romeo Macapaz, nasa 3,000 hanggang 5,000 ang kanilang crowd estimate sa Luneta hanggang alas-12:00 ng tanghali at unti-unti nang nabawasan matapos na magmartsa na patungo sa Mendiola ang ilang rallyista.

          Paanong nangyari na isang taon lamang ang lumipas na ang tinawag na “Million People March”  ay napunta na sa “3,000 People March?

                Baket nagkaganito?

                Malamang na noong 2013, nagkasama-sama ang mga tao na wala namang nag-organisa. Ngayong 2014, napakarami na ang nag-angkin na kanila ang martsa at bawat isa ay nag-angkin na kanila ito kung kaya hindi kinagat ng mamamayan. Meron diyang mga pulitiko na hindi yata nakakahalata na kung kaya naging tagumpay ang Million People March noong Agosto 203 y dahil sa hindi nila tinanggap ang mga pulitiko na smali sa kanila. Meron pa ngang ilang pulitiko nas sumama ngunit napahiya noong ayaw sila pakinggan ng mga tao.

                  Nariyan rin ngayong 2014 ang mga galit sa Pangulo at sa iba pang mga pulitikob na noong 2013 ay hindi rin pinakinggan ng madla. At nariyan rin ang Simbahan at ang petition pa nga raw ay papapirmahan sa lahat ng mga simbahan sa bansa upang makamit ang 6,000,000 na registradong botante na pipirma (at isa-isang susuriin ng Comelec kung sila nga ba ay botante) na dapat ein ay ang bawat distrito sa bansa merong tatlong porsiyento ang nakalagda sa petisyon!

                   Ako’y naniniwala na hindi ito makakamit kung walang milyon-milyong salapi ang nagpapapirma. Para mo lang masiguro na meron kang anim na porsiyentong nakapirma sa bawat distrito ng kongreso ay napakahirap gawain. Kinakailangan mong tungohan ang mga ito sa kanilang bahay upang hingin ang kanilang pirma sa petisyon!

                    Noong tinanaong ang ilang pumirma sa petisyon sa Luneta kung ano ang kanilang pinirmahan, marami ang nagsabi na hindi nila ito naiintindihan. Pappano kaya kung sila’y kausapin ng kanilang Kongresman upang hingin ang kanilang pahayag na tanggalin ang kanilang pinirmahan sa petisyon, hindi kaya na pipirma rin ito sa hiling ng kongresista?

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                     Ang pagkaka-iba ng “Million People March” noong 2013 at sa nangyari noong Lunes ay malaki. Noong 2013, parang katuwaan. Nagkitkita lamang ang lahat sa Luneta, Nagyon ay parang naging obligasyon.

                      Ika nga ng isang dumalo: “Nagpunta kami dito para hindi magpasikat, para mag-selfie na dumalo kami sa rally. Nagpunta kami dito ngayon para ipakita sa pamahalaan na nagbabantay ang mga Filipino at hindi papayag na magpayaman muli ang mga nasa pwesto,” pahayag ng mga bikers na siyang unang-unang lumagda sa People’s Initiative na layon na makakalap ng 6M lagda hanggang sa buwan ng Dis­yembre para isulong ang pagbasura sa presidential at congressional pork barrel at pagpapatupad ng line budgeting para iwas-korupsyon at pagpataw ng 10-taong parusa sa mga lalabag at pagdiskuwalipika na makapagtrabaho sa gobyerno.

                      Sinabi naman ni Agnes Reyes, estudyante ng Adamson University, na tiwala siyang malaki ang magagawa ng People’s Initiative para sa pagbabago kaya naman nakiisa ito at ang mga kaibigan sa protest rally.
                       Maging si Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle ay nakiisa sa protest rally laban sa pork barrel system kung saan hinikayat nito na panatilihin nating  buhay ang demokrasya at tiyakin ang kultura ng integridad.
                       Sa kanyang mensahe, pinasalamatan ni Tagle ang lahat ng dumalo sa pagtitipon sa Luneta na isa umanong paraan ng pagbibigay-boses sa mga biktima ng korupsiyon lalo na sa mga mahihirap na siya umanong nawawalan dahil sa pangungurakot.
                       Kaya lamang hindi nga naging kasing sigla noon martsa noong 2013 na masaya ang mga dumalo at hindi sinamahan ng pulitika kung kaya parang katuwaan lamang na nagpakita na ayaw natin ng “pork barrel” kung kaya sumunod ang Korte noong kanilang hatol na ang PDAF ay labag sa ating Saligang Batas dhil sa nangyaring “One Million People March” noong 2013.

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hvp (08.27.14)

 

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