Skip to content

No BBL Police Force, Germans on MRT

03.06.16 Malaya

”(T)he Mamasapano clash, which sparked widespread public outrage, prompted calls to postpone or cancel outright the BBL deliberations, as Congress waited for the PNP to complete its investigation.”

By Ducky Paredes

As a consequence of the Mamasapano debacle, the proposed autonomous Bangsamoro region will not be allowed to have its own police force.

“The Bangsamoro having their own police—there can be no such thing,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), told reporters on Monday. One practical problem in a Bangsamoro police force could be finding enough Bangsamoro college graduates who would qualify for police work.

Rodriguez said the police force with jurisdiction over the future Bangsamoro area would be placed under the control and supervision of the Philippine National Police.

The government peace panel chair, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, earlier said the PNP would retain control over some operational aspects of the Bangsamoro police, such as purchases and promotions, but the region’s chief minister would have more direct powers over the local police.

The BBL would give primary responsibility for peace and order in the Bangsamoro region to the regional government in coordination with the national government.

Section 2 of Article XI of the draft BBL provides for the establishment of a Bangsamoro police service that will be part of the PNP.

The proposed Bangsamoro police will be supervised by a Bangsamoro Police Board, which will be part of the National Police Commission.

There is nothing in the draft BBL that says the Bangsamoro will have its own police force. But Rodriguez said his committee would review the public order and safety provisions of the draft BBL on top of a plan to strike down its “unconstitutional provisions.”

Among the planned changes is to delete provisions creating autonomous versions of the Commissions on Audit, Civil Service, and Elections, and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Rodriguez acknowledged that the Jan. 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in which 44 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas, and five civilians were killed had complicated the passage of the BBL, with lawmakers’ support for the measure waning in recent weeks.

The BBL fleshes out a peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in March last year.

But the Mamasapano clash, which sparked widespread public outrage, prompted calls to postpone or cancel outright the BBL deliberations, as Congress waited for the PNP to complete its investigation.

Rodriguez said the committee might still invite resource persons to shed light on the Mamasapano incident at the resumption of the congressional hearings this month.

The hearings will be held behind closed doors, he said.

“It should now be in aid of legislation, so we will invite them in executive session,” Rodriguez said.

He said the committee hoped to complete its report on the BBL by May for plenary debate. He said the House might need special sessions to pass the BBL in June.

* * *

A group composed of two German firms and a Filipino-owned company has put forward a proposal to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to rehabilitate the ageing Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) for P4.65 billion.

In a two-page letter to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the group composed of a joint venture of Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH, HEAG mobile GmbH, and CommBuilders & Technology Philippines Inc. has submitted a proposal to rehabilitate the mass transit system along EDSA that is P116 million cheaper than the P4.76-billion budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“We, CommBuilders and Technology are pleased to submit the enclosed project proposal from these world-renowned European companies, Schunk Group, and HEAG mobile – for your review and evaluation,” the group stated in the letter signed by Schunk Bahn Group Manila authorized representative Rolf Bieri and CommBuilders authorized representative Roehl Bacar.

Under the proposed Swiss challenge, the group said the basic plan is to initially mobilize rehabilitation where time and work windows are flexible and station facilities would be prioritized.

Compared to the other proposals provided, the group said its proposal would address the ancillary power, considered the 48 new trains, new stabling area, new elevators and escalators, new public address system, public information system, new toilets, platform gates, CCTV, signaling system, rail replacement and rail grinding.

The group is also looking at restoring two trains every 45 days to allow a lead time of eight to 12 months before the rolling stock is turned over to the government.

According to the proposal, the system rehabilitation to be completed in three to four years has a limited downtime of four hours to make sure that the operations of MRT-3 would not be disrupted.

Aside from the limited maintenance downtime, the group said its proposal ensures that only one entity would control the system rehabilitation composed of efficient and experienced parts integrators with global network.

Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH (Schunk) has the expertise and is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of high quality power transmission railway equipment.

On the other hand, HEAG mobilo operates and maintains its own fleet of trains/trams and buses since in the late 1800’s. With its operations based in Darmstadt, HEAG mobile has 23 bus lines and nine tramlines.

* * *

The Senate has approved a joint resolutionauthosizing President Benigno Aquino 3rd to address a looming electricity shortage in Luzon this by granting him “special powers.”

Voting 16-0, the chamber passed Joint Resolution 12, allowing the executive branch to find ways of fast-tracking the issuance of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other documents needed for new power-related projects, or that which will facilitate connection, interconnection or transmission of such projects to the grid.

Under the proposal, the Department of Energy (DOE) will coordinate with other government agencies such as the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), National Power Corporation (NPC), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) to facilitate issuance of or suspend the application of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other authorization from March 1 to July 31, 2015.

The DOE will also coordinate with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) regarding the schedule of power plants’ maintenance shutdowns to ensure that only a few facilities will be allowed to undergo repairs from March to June.

Joint Resolution 12 also seeks the implementation of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) in Luzon. Under the program, big business establishments will use their generator sets for a certain period of time in order to ease power demand from the main grid.

Senator Sergio Osmeña 3rd, head of the Senate Committee on Energy, said adoption of the ILP scheme would cost consumers P7 to P8 per kilowatt hour, which is low compared to the P35 per kilowatt hour that would be shouldered by the consumers if the government leased power generators at a cost of P6 billion for two years.

“In this manner, up to 1,400 megawatts may be deloaded for a few peaking hours on certain days,” Osmeña notes.

Under the Senate resolution, part of the Malampaya Fund will be used to pay for extraordinary expenses incurred by the PSALM by virtue of the increased pumping operations of Kaliraya Pump Storage Power Plant (KPSPP) as well as the expenses by the NPC for disturbance or displacement compensation to affected households and resort owners within Caliraya Lake.

It will also be used to pay customers who are allowed an option to recover their Deloading Compensation from the government as may be provided in the ILP rules as well as the expenses incurred by PSALM to recover production costs, including fixed and variable costs, when Malaya thermal power plant is made to run.

With the passage of the joint resolution, the bicameral conference committee will reconcile contentious provisions of the Senate and House versions before the proposed law is sent to Malacanang for the signature of the President.

 

By Ducky Paredes

As a consequence of the Mamasapano debacle, the proposed autonomous Bangsamoro region will not be allowed to have its own police force.

“The Bangsamoro having their own police—there can be no such thing,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), told reporters on Monday. One practical problem in a Bangsamoro police force could be finding enough Bangsamoro college graduates who would qualify for police work.

Rodriguez said the police force with jurisdiction over the future Bangsamoro area would be placed under the control and supervision of the Philippine National Police.

The government peace panel chair, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, earlier said the PNP would retain control over some operational aspects of the Bangsamoro police, such as purchases and promotions, but the region’s chief minister would have more direct powers over the local police.

The BBL would give primary responsibility for peace and order in the Bangsamoro region to the regional government in coordination with the national government.

Section 2 of Article XI of the draft BBL provides for the establishment of a Bangsamoro police service that will be part of the PNP.

The proposed Bangsamoro police will be supervised by a Bangsamoro Police Board, which will be part of the National Police Commission.

There is nothing in the draft BBL that says the Bangsamoro will have its own police force. But Rodriguez said his committee would review the public order and safety provisions of the draft BBL on top of a plan to strike down its “unconstitutional provisions.”

Among the planned changes is to delete provisions creating autonomous versions of the Commissions on Audit, Civil Service, and Elections, and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Rodriguez acknowledged that the Jan. 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in which 44 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas, and five civilians were killed had complicated the passage of the BBL, with lawmakers’ support for the measure waning in recent weeks.

The BBL fleshes out a peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in March last year.

But the Mamasapano clash, which sparked widespread public outrage, prompted calls to postpone or cancel outright the BBL deliberations, as Congress waited for the PNP to complete its investigation.

Rodriguez said the committee might still invite resource persons to shed light on the Mamasapano incident at the resumption of the congressional hearings this month.

The hearings will be held behind closed doors, he said.

“It should now be in aid of legislation, so we will invite them in executive session,” Rodriguez said.

He said the committee hoped to complete its report on the BBL by May for plenary debate. He said the House might need special sessions to pass the BBL in June.

* * *

A group composed of two German firms and a Filipino-owned company has put forward a proposal to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to rehabilitate the ageing Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) for P4.65 billion.

In a two-page letter to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the group composed of a joint venture of Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH, HEAG mobile GmbH, and CommBuilders & Technology Philippines Inc. has submitted a proposal to rehabilitate the mass transit system along EDSA that is P116 million cheaper than the P4.76-billion budget of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“We, CommBuilders and Technology are pleased to submit the enclosed project proposal from these world-renowned European companies, Schunk Group, and HEAG mobile – for your review and evaluation,” the group stated in the letter signed by Schunk Bahn Group Manila authorized representative Rolf Bieri and CommBuilders authorized representative Roehl Bacar.

Under the proposed Swiss challenge, the group said the basic plan is to initially mobilize rehabilitation where time and work windows are flexible and station facilities would be prioritized.

Compared to the other proposals provided, the group said its proposal would address the ancillary power, considered the 48 new trains, new stabling area, new elevators and escalators, new public address system, public information system, new toilets, platform gates, CCTV, signaling system, rail replacement and rail grinding.

The group is also looking at restoring two trains every 45 days to allow a lead time of eight to 12 months before the rolling stock is turned over to the government.

According to the proposal, the system rehabilitation to be completed in three to four years has a limited downtime of four hours to make sure that the operations of MRT-3 would not be disrupted.

Aside from the limited maintenance downtime, the group said its proposal ensures that only one entity would control the system rehabilitation composed of efficient and experienced parts integrators with global network.

Schunk Bahn-und Industrietechnik GmbH (Schunk) has the expertise and is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of high quality power transmission railway equipment.

On the other hand, HEAG mobilo operates and maintains its own fleet of trains/trams and buses since in the late 1800’s. With its operations based in Darmstadt, HEAG mobile has 23 bus lines and nine tramlines.

* * *

The Senate has approved a joint resolutionauthosizing President Benigno Aquino 3rd to address a looming electricity shortage in Luzon this by granting him “special powers.”

Voting 16-0, the chamber passed Joint Resolution 12, allowing the executive branch to find ways of fast-tracking the issuance of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other documents needed for new power-related projects, or that which will facilitate connection, interconnection or transmission of such projects to the grid.

Under the proposal, the Department of Energy (DOE) will coordinate with other government agencies such as the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), National Power Corporation (NPC), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) to facilitate issuance of or suspend the application of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other authorization from March 1 to July 31, 2015.

The DOE will also coordinate with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) regarding the schedule of power plants’ maintenance shutdowns to ensure that only a few facilities will be allowed to undergo repairs from March to June.

Joint Resolution 12 also seeks the implementation of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) in Luzon. Under the program, big business establishments will use their generator sets for a certain period of time in order to ease power demand from the main grid.

Senator Sergio Osmeña 3rd, head of the Senate Committee on Energy, said adoption of the ILP scheme would cost consumers P7 to P8 per kilowatt hour, which is low compared to the P35 per kilowatt hour that would be shouldered by the consumers if the government leased power generators at a cost of P6 billion for two years.

“In this manner, up to 1,400 megawatts may be deloaded for a few peaking hours on certain days,” Osmeña notes.

Under the Senate resolution, part of the Malampaya Fund will be used to pay for extraordinary expenses incurred by the PSALM by virtue of the increased pumping operations of Kaliraya Pump Storage Power Plant (KPSPP) as well as the expenses by the NPC for disturbance or displacement compensation to affected households and resort owners within Caliraya Lake.

It will also be used to pay customers who are allowed an option to recover their Deloading Compensation from the government as may be provided in the ILP rules as well as the expenses incurred by PSALM to recover production costs, including fixed and variable costs, when Malaya thermal power plant is made to run.

With the passage of the joint resolution, the bicameral conference committee will reconcile contentious provisions of the Senate and House versions before the proposed law is sent to Malacanang for the signature of the President.

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.

US Drones and Metro Traffic

Malaya (03.02.15)

 

”Col. Padilla says: ‘We expect more surveillance flights to be deployed in the Philippines, increasing the frequency of rotation.’

 

By Ducky Paredes

 

The news that the P-8A Poseidon has been doing some work in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) for the country is a welcome one. This is the drone that the US Navy has and it has flown 160 flight hours from Clark over the ocean where the Chinese are hard at work reclaiming islands and building fortifications and landing fields (all contrary to international law, one might add, since they are doing their thing on Philippine territory). 

Since we do not have the capability to even see what the Chinese are doing, thank God for the US Navy. In fact, theUS Navy admits that they are doing us a favor  when they say that they are doing so to “strengthen maritime partnerships in the  Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

Armed Forces Spolesman Col. Renato Padilla agrees that the drones “ensure freedom of navigation and security of sea lanes of sea communications.”

“It is in the interest of everyone to ensure that that commerce andPadilla also explained that working and cooperating with the US Navy does not violate Philippine sovereignty after all we have a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United  States. Padilla explains that this is not directed against China which claims the most potentially oil-rich area. trade really flow in these seas and that it is not hampered. It is in the interest of everyone that we watch over this with our allies

Padilla also explained that working and cooperating with the US Navy does not violate Philippine sovereignty after all we have a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United  States. Padilla explains that this is not directed against China which claims the most potentially oil-rich area.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet sees the flights of the Pelicans of their Patrol Division (VP) 45 as providing an opportunity fpor the US to “increase understanding and showcase the capabilities of the Navy’s newest maritime patrol and reconnaisance aircraft.”

“It was a remarkable opportunity to work ‘alongside the members of the Philippine Armed Forces,” said US Navy Lt. Matthew Pool, Combat Air Crew 4 parol plane commander..

Col. Padilla says: “We expect more surveillance flights to be deployed in the Philippines, increasing the frequency of rotation.” 

* * *

China accuses the US of emboldening claimants, the Philippines and Vietnam, with the US military’s presence in the area.

China says that it has been restrained and responsible in its actions in the South China Sea even as US Intelligence called its expansion in the area an “aggressive” effort to assert Chinese sovereignty.

China claims that it has a historical claim over most of the West Philippine Sea that overlaps claims of its neighbors including Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Sadly, only the Philippines has filed a case against China with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

* * *

Metro Manila simply has too many cars and not enough roads. Other Asian cities have put up regulations regarding vehicle ownership which have mostly worked such as the one in Singapore, an Asian country that is smaller than any of the cities that make up Metro Manila. There, before one can get a license to own a vehicle, one has to prove that he has a garage where he will keep it off the road when he is not using it,

Here, anywhere in the cities of Metro Manila, even the side streets are filled with cars parked here by residents of the street and even by others who live elsewhere even at night. No MMDA governor or City Mayor has even tried to take control of the streets even when they are empty of people. Yet, they were able to do this in Singapore and even other places. All that one needs is a law or regulation and the firm resolve to clear the streets of parked vehicles.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) ha a much needed plan to repair Ayala Bridge during the summer break. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino wants the DPWH to reconsider its plans to repair the posts of the bridge and raise the bridge by an additional 0.7 meters, Apparently the river traffic under the bridge has been taking a beating from barges that ocassionaly bump them. The DPWH says that after the repair, Ayala Bridge will be good for another 20 years.

According to the MMDA, the effect on Manila traffic will be horrendous. Not only would this isolate the campus belt, it would also affect 

Quezon Boulevard,United Nations Avrnue, Taft Avenue, Quirino Avenue, Legarda Street, Magsaysay Street, Recto Avenue and Roxas Boulevard.

Think also what would happen if Ayala Bridge falls down as in the Lomdon Bridge song.

* * *

Blame the MMDA and the Philipppine National Police for the massive gridlock on the day we commemorated the end of the Marcos dictatorship. Both say that it would have been even worse if they had allowed the leftists and the rabble rousers free reign at EDSA.

While they are right, one has to wonder how in Thailand, they actually have actual coups where no businesses are affected and even the traffic goes on as usual. The anniversary of the event that hapenned at EDSA in 29 years ago results in a humungous traffic jam even as in neighboring country’s the actual coups are carried on with hardly anyone noticing what is going on.

* * *

While our Senators and Congressmen are disturbed about what might happen if the Bangsamoro entity is finally set up, business seems to be turning a blind eye on the matter.

The Makati Business Club, the Managment Associaton of the Philippines, the Financial Executives, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, 

Philippine B usiness for Social Progress, Mindanao Business Council and the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industryhas given tne Bangsamoro idea their all-out support.

Clearly, the President still has the support of the business community.

 

 

# # # # 

 

 

 

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.

Mapanganib Sumakay sa Sirain Nating MRT

Abante  (02.21.15)

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Araw-araw na yata ang  disgrasya sa Metro Rail Transit (MRT). Kamakaian mayroong pasaherong nasaktan sa tila nagiging bisyo nang ‘sudden stop’ ng mga tren ng MRT.

Hinihinatay ba nilang merong mamamatay bago aksyunan ang problema?

Nangyari na biglang himinto  ang southbound train mula sa Quezon Ave. station. Nangyari ang biglang paghinto ng tumatakbong tren sa pagitan ng Cubao at Santolan.

 “Bigla na lang po nag-sudden stop ‘yun train tapos halos lahat po ng mga pasahero nasa gitna nagtauban na po,” kwento ng isa sa sugatang pasahero. 

Ngunit, ang  sinama ng kanilang loob ay wala man lamang  kahit na sino man na nag-asikaso sa kanila.

Tanging ang operator ng nasabing tren lamang ang humingi ng dispensa sa kanila.  Maliban doon ay wala na.

Mabuti na lamang na wala namang grabeng nasugatan sanaganap ang aberya.

Makaraan ang ilang minuto, isa namang northbound train ang bigla ring nag-sudden stop malapit sa Magallanes station.

Sa pangyayaring  “sudden stop”, napasubsob sa isa’t isa ang mga pasahero ng siksikang tren at ang ilan sa mga nakatayo ay napahiga pa.

Sa paliwanag ni MRT 3 General Manager Roman Buenafe, umuubra umano ang automatic train protection (ATP) ang kanilang mga tren  kung kaya ito biglang nag-sa-sudden stop..

Inatasan na raw ni Buenafe ang maintenance provider nito na Global APT na dagdagan ang mga bumi­byaheng MRT trains, lalo na umano ‘pag ‘rush hour’.

Ayon ksy Buenafe, base sa kasunduan ng Global APT at MRT-3 dapat na nasa 18 hanggang 20 train sets ang arawang bumibyahe para maisakay ang libu-libong pasahero nito.

Dahil sa kakulangan umano ng mga tren kung kaya’t nangyayari ang humahabang pila na nagdu­dulot ng perwisyo sa mga mananakay nito.

Ngunit. ano nga ba ang nangyari? Baket nga ba nagkakaganito na ang MRT? Noong ang nag-mementena ay ang Sumitomo na mula’t simula Sumitomo na ang nag-aayos ng MRT, wala nanmang mga ganitong pangyayari.  Inalis ng DOTC ang Sumitomo at kanilang ipinalit ang Global APT! Kaya,  wlang ibang dapat na pasagutin lundi ang DOTC sa nanagyayari sa MRT.

 ‘Ika ni Senador JV Ejercito: “Nakakatawang-nakakainis ang pahayag ni MRT GM Buenafe, na kaya maraming tumumbang pasahero ay sa kadahilanang hindi sila nakahawak sa mga handrails na tila nasisisi pa ang mga pasahero!”

Parang kasalanan pa ng mga pasahero ng MRT na hindi nakahawak ang mga ito sa handrailings nang biglang huminto kaya sila nasaktan.

Nabatid na sa pahayag na ito ay ipinaalala ni MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe na kaya may mga nasaktan sa isa sa pinakahuling aberya ng MRT ay dahil may mga pasaherong hindi nakakapit sa handrails nang ito ay mangyari.

Panawagan ng mam­babatas, dapat ay ibalik na lamang umano sa dati ang pamasahe ng MRT dahil ang pagtaas ay hindi naman nakatulong upang umayos ang kondisyon ng mga tren.

Talaga namang malaking kamalian ang pagtaas ng singgil sa MRT dahil hindi naman bumuti ang serbisyo. Masama ang serbiso. Tinaas ang pasahe. Imbes na bumuti ang serbisyo, lalo pang sumama! Ganito ba ang maayos na pamumuno?            

Kailangan ring panagutan ng pamunuan ng MRT ang mga pasaherong nasaktan nang magkaroon ng aberya ang tren.

Ayon kay Presidential Communication Opera­tions Office (PCOO) Sec. Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr., kaugnay ng aberya sa MRT: “Kapag mayroon pong nasaktan ay kargo iyan ng MRT. Ang unang tungkulin ng  gobyerno ay ang kaligtasan ng mga commuter.”

Malinaw aniya ang prinsipyo ng gobyerno na ipinapatupad na kapag may problema  ang bagon at malalagay sa panganib sa buhay ng mga pasahero ay hindi na dapat patakbuhin hangga’t hindi ito naaa­yos. Baka na maisip ng mamamayan na mas maganda pa ang buhay noong Diktador pa ang nagpapatakbo ng bansa dahil noon ay maayos pa ang MRT at wala noong nagiging problema gaya na nangyayari araw-araw ngayon sa ating MRT!

# # # #

hvp (02.20.15)

 

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.

Who Won in the PDRCI Arbitration Case?

Malaya 02.20.15

 

As the party that filed the complaint and got what it wanted including its money back, doesn’t that  make  CJHDevCo the winner in the PDRCI!

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Ordinarily, one does not quarrel who won in an arbitration case? One expects that everyone wins. But, Arnel Paciano Casanova of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) proclaimed himself winner last week in the decades-long  controversy over Camp John Hay (CJH) and CJHDevCo.

The real story is actually that BCDA was among the many losers.

In fact, among the big losers was the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since funds raised by the BCDA buy equipment for our military and police.

One sensitive point raised in the ongoing congressional inquiries into last month’s bloodbath in Maguindanao was the combined capacity of the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP)—or lack of it—to shield Filipinos from harm’s way. One BCDA purpose is to raise funds from the investment program for public-private partnerships (PPPs).

As winner, Casanova was quick to order the BCDA’s  private partner CJH Development Corp. to immediately vacate the CJH Special Economic Zone (CJHSEZ) that it has been running for almost two decades in Baguio City. He also ordered locators to ignore CJHDevCo and to transact business only with the BCDA —as soon as the arbitral tribunal of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. (PDRCI) affirmed the rescission of the 1999 lease agreement between the BCDA  and CJHDevCo.

* * *

What does this do to Republic Act No. 7227 (the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992) whose mandate is for the BCDA to privatize military camps to generate funds for the AFP modernization program?

Casanova was presumptuous to consider himself the victor in the BCDA-CJHDevCo dispute because, if there is anything certain at this point following last week’s conclusion of the PDRCI arbitration process, it is the list of big losers arising out of the rescission of the 1999 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the lessor and its lessee and their subsequent revised or restructured MOAs (RMOAs) resulting from the BCDA’s repeated contract breaches.

* * *

The biggest losers are the following: (1) the AFP, because of this reverse privatization’s major setback to the Armed Forces’ modernization program; (2) the national government, owing to the black eye to President Aquino’s pet Public-Private Partnership when the PPP is already wracked by undue project delays, flip-flopping official policies, and controversies surrounding public auctions of big-ticket ventures; and (3) the City of Baguio, which is now at a loss on how to collect its overdue 25% share of all JHSEZ rentals paid to the government.

 “We see this as a victory for government,” Casanova told the media after the PDRCI’s arbitral tribunal’s Feb. 11 decision for the lessee to return the estate to thelessor, inclusive of all new constructions and permanent improvements that CJHDevCo built on the property to the tune of P5 billion since securing its lease contract 19 years ago.

The decision of  PDRCI is contained in the 274-page Final Award issued by the three-member arbitral tribunal chaired by Mario Valderama.

There are on record 118 business enterprises like business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, restaurants and retail shops along with 85 residential buildings owned by private sub-lessees at the CJHSEZ, according to president-CEO Jamie Eloise Agbayani of the John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC).

* * *

In contrast to Casanova, CJHDevCo executives have been deferential enough to respect the Feb. 11 ruling of the PDRCI and abide by its order for it to surrender JHSEZ as soon as the BCDA coughs up the P1.42-billion in rentals that the arbitral tribunal has directed BCDA to refund in full to its lessee.

The PDRCI panel, while affirming the invalidation of the warring parties’ JHSEZ lease accord, threw out Casanova’s claim that CJHDevCo owes the government P3.3 billion in overdue rentals, and ruled  instead that the BCDA return the P1.42 billion in total rentals that its lessee paid since 1996.

Said CJHDevCo chairman Robert John Sobrepeña: “We are pleased and happy with the decision of the PDRCI…and we are awaiting our lawyers’ advise on its implementation.

 “We feel vindicated by the Arbitration Tribunal in upholding our position that CJHDevCo does not owe any P3.3 billion back rentals to the BCDA,” said Sobrepena. “Instead, it was the finding of the Tribunal that it is BCDA which now owes us P1.42 billion as reimbursement for all our rental payments since 1996.”

Sobpreña assured CJHDevCo’s locators of continued protection as they acquired their CJH sub-leases in good faith.

He also expressed the hope that the BCDA would (1) sustain CJHDevCo’s vision for the JHSEZ to become the “leading eco-tourism destination in Northern Luzon” and (2) continue nurturing the almost half-million pine trees that CJHDevCo had taken good care of in the course of its almost two-decade stewardship.

 “We assure our buyers, locators and sub-lessees that their rights to the properties they acquired and are now using in John Hay will continue to be protected and respected,” he said.

As for CJH’s 480,000 pine trees, Sobrepeña said, “It has always been our position that the trees in John Hay are the Camp’s most treasured assets.  The pine trees are what have set John Hay unique among other destinations.  The presence of these trees posed the greatest challenge to our development plans as we believed these trees should not be cut.”

 “As a result, in our resolve to not cut the trees, our development footprint had been substantially reduced and so we had prayed to the Arbitral Panel that the lease contract with BCDA be reformed to reflect a reduced developable footprint and if this were not possible, then a rescission of the lease contract with damages paid to us, instead,” he said.

 Sobrepeña voiced hope that “when we turn over the Camp to BCDA after the P1.42 billion award is paid to us, BCDA will take care of the 480,000 trees we will leave behind.  When we took over the Camp in 1996, there were 250,000 trees in the Camp. During our stewardship of the Camp, we planted 230,000 more trees.  Thus, when we eventually turn over Camp John Hay to BCDA, the Camp would be in perfect environmental condition.”

* * *

Sobrepeña and the rest of CJHDevCo’s top executives have the correct mindset with regard to the outcome of PDRCI’s arbitration.

Casanov’s interpretation of the verdict is way off the mark, once again betraying his high-handed, haughty and outrageously personal drive to vilify BCDA’s supposed private partner and kick it out of CJH, apparently in favor of his BFF (best friend forever)—Ayala Corp., which is one of CJHDevCo’s tenants and BCDA’s chief lessee at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).  

* * *

Casanova’s claim of  personal victory on the Camp John Hay issue comical. Apparently, his clients lost:

 (1)  The AFP—because it undermines the AFP modernization program;

  (2) The Government—particularly its privatization program for military facilities, as BCDA’s plan to prematurely take over the CJHSEZ can only be interpreted as reverse privatization; and

 (3)  Baguio City because the PDRCI took away Baguio’s 25% share of all BCDA rentals as host-city of the CJHSEZ.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan told reporters that, as soon as the PDRCI order becomes final, the city will no longer collect any share of CJHSEZ rentals.

The city government, he said, used this money to bankroll local projects that cannot be funded by Baguio’s P412-million Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) share from the national government.

Councilor Peter Fianza, who was Baguio’s City Administrator during the terms of former Mayors Braulio Yaranon and Reinaldo Bautista Jr., said the PDRCI-ordered return of CJH to the BCDA will be a severe blow to the local economy.  The city government supported the original BCDA-CJHDevco lease agreement on condition that the city would get either a 25% share of all rentals or 30% of net income, whichever was higher.

City Hall mortgaged the BCC against its share of rentals that the BCDA was supposed to collect from CJHDevCo. The City was forced to pay the balance after GSIS threatened to take back the BCC after the feud between the CJHSEZ lessor and its lessee escalated in 2011.

This is also not a victory for the BCDA because the PDRCI panel, in its Feb. 11, threw out BCDA’s claim that CJHDevCo owes its lessor P3.3 billion in overdue rentals.

The PRDCI found that contrary to BCDA’s allegations, CJHDevco has not been remiss in its financial obligations to Government as lessee of CJH.

 It is not a victory for the BCDA because the PDRCI ruling vindicates CJHDevCo’s long-held argument that state-run firm has been a serial violator of the 1996 MOA) and the subsequent RMOAs.

Such transgressions were acts of bad faith on the part of BCDA, that started right from the very start of the lease agreement in 1996 when the lessor failed to turn over at least 32 hectares covered by the original MOA despite the lessee’s payment in advance of P250 million upon signing of the contract and another P425 million in rentals a year later.

CJHDevCo executive vice president-chief operating officer (COO) Alfredo R. Yñiguez III traced his firm’s major rift with its lessor to the latter’s breaches in the 2008 RMOA, specifically the non-establishment of the One-Stop Action Center (OSAC), which eventually undermined the developer’s capability to generate revenues from its CJH operations.

BCDA repeatedly transgressed the MOA/RMOAs to its private partner’s detriment, while CJHDevCo continued to act in good faith all these years—in unequivocal support of the government’s public-private partnership program,  paying P1.4 billion in rentals and investing some P5 billion in various CJH facilities and other projects.

The PDRCI panel’s affirmation of BCDA’s repeated contract breaches underscores BCDA’s belligerance towards its private partners on the watch of Casanova as the BCDA’s president-CEO.

 Casanova’s highly-publicized disputes not only with CJHDevCo but also with other private developers, such as SM Land Inc. in BGC, have long spooked the business community and dampened investor confidence in PPP projects and other big-ticket joint ventures with the government, despite the successive credit upgrades of the Philippine economy as Asia’s new growth haven.

Maltrearting BCDA’s private partners and its other stakeholders may be partly in  Casanova’s DNA, judging from his warlike behavior towards CJHDevCo, SMLI and even seemingly harmless active and retired military officers residing in a portion of the former Fort Bonifacio army camp at BGC.

The Supreme Court subsequently ordered the BCDA to honor its original agreement with SMLI, in an Aug. 13 decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., who noted that “a reversal (by the BCDA) might turn away investors eyeing public-private partnerships.”

Among the initial displays of Casanova’s brand of arrogance and truculence was his overseas flight in 2006, just before the Senate started investigating an armed BCDA takeover of the PPP base conversion project in Poro Point, La Union.

* * *

It is foolhardy for Casanova to claim that lease contract’s revocation as a victory for the BCDA. The fact is that it was CJHDevCo that filed a complaint before the PDRCI in 2012 precisely to ask the arbitral tribunal to rescind the RMOAs, or, failing that, the original lease agreement itself, owing to the lessor’s repeated violations of the MOA and the subsequent RMOAs signed by both parties.

In a Jan. 9, 2012 letter to Casanova prior to its eventual filing of an arbitration case before the PDRCI, CJHDevco demanded that the BCDA fully comply with its obligations under the lease agreement, particularly the establishment of the OSAC

 In its complaint before the PDRCI, CJHDevCo invoked Section, Article X of the RMOA in demanding for arbitration of the dispute between them, particularly because the BCDA had not acceded to its request for the convening of the joint committee and its appeal to settle its dispute with the agency.

As the party that filed the complaint and got what it wanted including its money back, doesn’t that  make  CJHDevCo the winner in the PDRCI!

# # # #

hvp 02.19.15

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 to Peace in Mindanao?

Malaya 02.19.15

“Aggabao added many of their members ‘were frothing in the mouth in outrage over what happened in Mamasapano.’”

by Ducky Paredes

It is not surprising that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.’s enthusiasm for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law had diminished because of the encounter between the MILF and the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Phulippine National Police that resulted in the killing of 44 police commandos.

Belmpnte says that, after the incident, he is no longer confident that the BBL would be passed on the target date set by the ad hoc committee, led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez

“I think this is not the best time to vote on [the BBL].”

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. agrees that a cooling off period is needed.

“There is still too much heat,” Marcos said.

“The people are mad, so there must be a cooling off period for the BBL to have hope.”

In Malacañang, Communications secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. insista the administration will continue to push for the approval of the BBL despite the Mamasapano incident.

He said the bid for the BBL’s approval was not political in nature but for the achievement of lasting peace.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said while the passage of the BBL was stalled, Turkey and Indonesia had joined other countries in support of the peace process in Mindanao.

Australia, Canada, Libya, Norway, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States had also expressed their support for the Philippine government’s efforts to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao. 

Belmonte said the House leadership was “still in the mood” to tackle the BBL once the board of inquiry concludes its investigation of the Mamasapano fiasco.

Belmonte says that the BBL could still be tackled and passed when Congress resumes its session in May.

But as the board of inquiry had yet to conclude its probe into the incident, Belmonte said, he believed now was not the best time for lawmakers to vote on the Bangsamoro bill because of the strong public sentiment about the Mamasapano incident.

 “I told Rufus [Rodriguez, head of the ad hoc panel on BBL], ‘It’s not a good time to bring the BBL out there [plenary].’ I don’t think they’re all very enthusiastic about it at this stage until we find out more about the incident.”

House Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, an administration ally, said the Mamasapano incident would adversely affect President Aquino III’s anointed one in 2016.

Aggabao, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the second largest political party in the country and the major coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Party in the House of Representatives, said the party believed that the whoever would be endorsed by the president as the administration’s standard-bearer would not likely get popular support from the Filipino people.

“Before Mamasapano, our perception is that whoever is chosen by the President…will have a very distinct advantage whoever is supported by the President. But with this the party perception may somehow dim a bit even the popularity of the President,” says Aggabao.

This developed as Aggabao said the proposed BBL had acquired a local face as many lawmakers, particularly from the Northern part of the country, had been asked by their constituents on the ‘parameters’ of the BBL once the autonomy is granted to the secessionist rebels.

“We have always treated the BBL as a deal that is far removed from my constituents na I come from a district that is you know in the North, that we lost 3, in the Mamasapano incident… we lost 3 from Isabela.  So now all of a sudden the BBL has acquired a local face and people are asking kamusta na daw iyong BBL? Kamusta ba ang tayo natin diyan?” Aggabao said.

He also admitted that NPC members were divided on the BBL.

“Our party was in favor of the BBL prior to the Mamasapano incident.  But after that happened, we called for our members to give their side in a caucus. I suggested coming out with a resolution expressing our solidarity with the nation and the bereaved families. Some others said we should go beyond that and ask for a suspension on BBL hearings,” Aggabao said.

Aggabao added many of their members “were frothing in the mouth in outrage over what happened in Mamasapano.”

* * *

A female Muslim lawmaker was a rare voice for peace in the rising beat of war drums in the House of Representatives.

The tense atmosphere has become more heated by a police official’s appeal for vengeance and by the emergence of a six-minute video showing the Moro rebels’ brutality.

Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema was in tears when she appealed for sobriety in a raucous room of lawmakers, military and police officials, government officials, and local government executives pumped up by an emotional speech by Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, officer in charge of the Philippine National Police.

 “Our emotions are high. I saw Espina and (relieved Special Action Force [SAF] Director Getulio) Napeñas cry and hug each other. But more than these emotions, more than grandstanding, it is the lives of the people in the Bangsamoro area that are at stake,” said Sema, wife of former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, chair of one of the factions of the Moro National Liberation Front.

Sema expressed concern that with the Senate and the House suspending public hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was in danger of collapsing.

 “So that lives of police, military and others will be spared, may we ask for a reconsideration,” Sema said after the House committees on public order and safety and peace, reconciliation and unity debated on whether to show the clip of the alleged brutality that wounded SAF members suffered at the hands of MILF fighters on Jan. 25.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, a former general, also cautioned the committee against playing with the “emotions of many people” by showing the cruel acts on the video.

Davao Rep. Karlo Alexie B. Nograles said he wanted the video shown because he did not want the House to be accused of covering up.

But Lanao del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindon said showing the video could set a precedent in all House hearings.

Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte said the House would make a mistake by showing the video whose contents have yet to be authenticated.

The committee later agreed not to show the video but asked Napeñas to confirm if the man shot as shown in the video was indeed a SAF commando.

In Mindanao, an Italian priest also appealed to those lobbying for “total war” in Mindanao to stop pushing for that path in light of the recent clashes between Moro rebels and government forces in Mamasapano.

“As a Christian priest I want to ask forgiveness for the voices calling for total war in Mindanao, coming often from Christian sectors and politicians,” said Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, founder of Silsilah Dialogue Movement.

“What will happen if there will be war in Mindanao again? What will happen if this war will give more space to international terrorists who justify their violence through ideologies that already are circulating in our midst?” the priest said in a statement posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.

In the wake of the Mamasapano incident, lawmakers suspended hearings on the proposed BBL, a key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the government and the MILF signed last year, putting the deal under a cloud of uncertainty.

The lawmakers said the proposed law seeking to create a new autonomous government for Muslims in Mindanao, to be known as the Bangsamoro, would not pass if put to a vote now because emotions were running high after Mamasapano, where 44 police commandos died.

Before the Mamasapano debacle, lawmakers had promised to enact the BBL in March and to hold a referendum in May.

The MILF says that it will not accept a watered-down version of the BBL.

In the wake of Congress’ decision to defer action on the BBL that would move forward the Mindanao peace process, more countries are prodding the Philippines to continue with the peace process and the fight against terrorism.

Among these countries was Norway where Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was on a two-day visit to thank its leaders for their firm support for the peace process and to discuss cooperation between the two countries in peace mediation, maritime affairs, disaster risk reduction and management, and trade and investment.

The latest countries to send messages and statements to the Department of Foreign Affairs were Russia, Palau, Libya and Norway.

Earlier, there were similar messages of support for the peace process from Australia, Canada, Spain Switzerland and the United States.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende lauded government and MILF efforts to keep the peace process intact as he warned that “armed conflict is a serious threat to development and has negative consequences far beyond the actual battlefield.”

“A lasting settlement in Mindanao would benefit the entire population of the Philippines,” Brende said.

Norway is a member of the International Monitoring Team for the government-MILF peace talks and serves as vice chair of the Independent Decommissioning Body that oversees the decommissioning process of MILF forces and arms.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Nikolay Yudashev expressed shock and grief over the killing of 44 police commandos.

“Memory of their valor and self-sacrifice shown while pursuing a noble mission of fighting terrors will remain in our heart,” the Russian ambassador said.

Through its embassy in Manila, Palau said it had “unwavering support and solidarity with the Philippines in condemning such heinous acts of terrorism against government security personnel.”

Libya through Charge d’ Affaires Abobaker I.W Ataweel of the Libyan Embassy told Del Rosario that the country hoped that Filipinos would “triumph over this tragic incident and continue the pursuit to attain peace in Mindanao.”

D’Ambra said the World Interfaith Harmony Week became a fitting reminder for people to unite against ideologies of violence and war.

With the tension rising in Mindanao, D’Ambra described the fear among Christians and Muslims alike. “While Christians are leaving places more populated by the Muslims in Mindanao, Muslims also feel suspicious being in cities populated mostly by Christians.”

“I appeal especially to religious leaders, both Muslims and Christians. We have a big responsibility. I advice the Muslim leaders to be more active in promoting the concept of mercy and compassion, the central message of Islam, and to the Christians to recall the central message that is love,” he added.

# # # #

hvp 02.18.15

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 Delikadesa

Abante  (02.19.15)

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Sa aking pananaw, sobra-sobra na ang mga komentaryo ng ating dating Pangulong Fidel V. Ramos at  pakikisawsaw nito  sa usapin ng Mamasapano incident.  Parang akala niya na siya lamang ang marunong kahit na noong kaniyang panahion sa Malakanyang nakipaglokohan siya kay Nur Misuari ng MNLF, na walang naging kontribusyon bilang gubernador ng ARMM kundi lamang ang paglakas ng korapsyon sa ARMM, na dapat sana’y nakatulong ito sa mga Pilipinong Muslim ngunit hindi nangyari.

Napansin rin ito ng ating Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. Sa isang pahayag, pinasaringan ni Belmonte si Ramos na tapos na ang kanyang pagiging lider ng bansa kaya dapat ay iwasan na nito ang pagkomento sa nakaupong Pangulo.

“Former President Ramos had his time,” paghahayag ni Belmonte.

Giit ni Belmonte kay Ramos, mas mabuting manatili na lamang ito bilang senior statesman at tigilan ang pagbatikos sa kasalukuyang lider ng bansa.

Inihalimbawa pa ng House Speaker ang kalakaran sa Estados Unidos kung saan ay hindi naririnig ang mga dating Pangulo na bumabatikos sa nakaupong Presidente at sa halip ay nagbi­bigay lamang ng pribadong payo o advice.

“In the United States, do you hear former presidents commenting on their successors? All they can offer is private advice. FVR should remain a senior statesman of the country and avoid comments on his successors,” giit ng lider ng Kamara.

“…his time as the nation’s leader had already lapsed,” dagdag nito.

Para naman kay Quezon City Cong. Winston Castelo, malaya si FVR na maglabas ng kanyang sentimiyento pero sana ay iwasang magturo ng responsibilidad sa Mamasapano incident. Mas mabuti aniyang patapusin ang imbestigasyon ng Board of Inquiry (BOI).

Sa totoo lang. sa Amerika ilan nang nakaraan na ang panahon bilang pangulo ng kanilang bansa, ngunit wala tayong naririnig na kahit na anumang batikos galing sa mga dating Pangulo nila. Ito’y dahil na rin nalalaman nilang kapag meron silang pintasan ay maaaring ibalik rin ng nakaupo sa mga kapalpakan ng mga nakaraang presidente at halungkatin na naman ang mga kapalpakan nito kahit na sa pribadong buhay —  mga kabit kaya at iba pang mga maaaring bigyang panibagong buhay kapag pagusapan muli.

Dito lang sa atin na walang katapusan ang huwalanghiyaaan ng ating mga pulitiko, dati mang nakapuwesto o kasalukuyan.

Kahit nga sa mga dating nagpapalakad ng mga negosyo at ahensiya ng gobiyerno ay wala tayong maririnig tungkol sa pamamalakad ng kasalukuyang nakaupo dahil na rin sa tinatawag nating delikadesa, isang katangiang hindi natutunan ng dati nating Pangulong Ramos!

# # # #

hvp (02.18.15)

 

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 MILF Will Not Get the BBL It Wants

Malaya 02.18.15

 

‘At the Senate, Recto reiterated the BBL cannot be passed in its present form. It has to undergo revision and improvements. But amending the bill shouldn’t be equated with mangling it,’ he said.”

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

According  to Superintendent Raymund Train, intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who led the 38-member assault team, the police commandos who clashed with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 did not run out of bullets, contrary to reports and testimonies in congressional hearings.

In a sworn statement taken by a PNP investigator, Train was asked if his team ran out of ammunition.

 “No, because I instructed my men to have fire discipline or shoot only when you see the enemy,” he said. “However, many of our M203 ammunition were duds.”

An M203 is an M-16 rifle fitted with a grenade launcher.

On Jan. 25, he said the plan was to inform the AFP after their principal target, Marwan, had been taken down “by calling TCP and mentioning the word Bingo.”

Train said he was able to call at 4:15 a.m. after they had killed Marwan.

TCP stands for tactical command post, which was manned by Train’s superiors, sacked SAF commander Director Getulio Napeñas and his deputy, acting SAF commander Noli Taliño, kilometers away from the scene of the firefight.

Train said he did not know, nor was he informed in his communications with TCP, why at least five SAF companies – from 41st to 45th – were not able to reinforce his team and the blocking force that was nearly wiped out.

He recounted that they were able to reach Marwan’s lair at 4:14 a.m. after crossing five rivers, more than an hour behind schedule “due to difficulties in the river crossing.” They were supposed to be in the area at 3 a.m.

Train said they started to withdraw after taking DNA samples and photographs of their quarry.

He added that they had encountered gunfire after walking about 200 meters away from Marwan’s hideout.

 “This time, we also heard more gunfire at about 500 meters from our position. We were then informed by TCP that 55th SAC (blocking force) was also under fire,” he recalled.

Train said their engagement with Muslim rebels “lasted the whole day.”

 “A majority of the casualties died from sniper (fire) and mortar rounds. Many of them died in the afternoon, between 2 and 6,” he said.

Train said they were rescued at around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, more than a day after their clash with Moro fighters.

 “We finally left the area of engagement at 3:30 p.m., January 26,” he said.

* * *

The proposed law, the Baangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), if it passes at all, will probably be very different from the original. You can’t expect our legislators  (Senators and Congressmen) to give the Muslim rebels what they want. The BBL is basically an appropriations measure, with taxpayers shelling out P75 billion in its first year alone.

This means the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will not get what it wants – a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) “with no changes.”

Key leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate said yesterday they intend to rewrite and revise the BBL draft presented to them by the MILF and government peace panel.

 “We cannot pass it on an ‘as is or take-it-or-leave-it’ basis, especially with what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25,” Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II says.

At the Senate, President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said they would not be blackmailed into signing the BBL without changes.

Gonzales said the House would take out from the MILF-government peace panel draft all provisions that it feels would violate the Constitution.

 “These are not only a few, these are so many. We will attempt to have something that is compliant with the Constitution and acceptable to our people in Mindanao,” he said.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the ad hoc committee on the proposed BBL, said the panel intends to rewrite at least five sections that he and his colleagues consider unconstitutional.

“Contrary to fears expressed by the MILF, we will not water it down but water it up, if there is such a word, to enhance it, to improve it,” he said.

Gonzales and Rodriguez were commenting on the letter of MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim dated Dec. 29, 2014 to Rodriguez.

In the letter, the MILF chief said his organization trusts “that Congress will pass the mutually agreed BBL draft with no changes and without diminishing, diluting or watering down its provisions, except probably for minor changes or changes that clearly improve it or enhance it.”

He repeatedly reiterated in his letter his group’s desire for lawmakers to keep intact the BBL “draft” or “text,” which, he emphasized, was “mutually agreed” upon by the government and the MILF.

“We appeal to Congress to do its part in fulfilling the commitment of the Philippine government and the MILF to a politically negotiated settlement of the Moro grievances by passing the mutually agreed BBL draft without watering down its provisions, as feared by many of our constituencies in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

The MILF leader indicated that his organization had the impression that President Aquino could bind Congress and the Supreme Court on the BBL.

He said in entering the peace negotiations, the MILF had the “understanding that it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or ‘whole government,’ especially since, among other reasons, the commander-in-chief powers of the President allow him to bind the whole of government, including its different branches.”

He said the “onus or the principal burden of implementing the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and its annexes and the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) through the expeditious passage of the mutually agreed text of the BBL” now rests with the government.

Gonzales says the MILF has the wrong impression that Aquino could bind Congress and the Supreme Court on the proposed BBL.

 “There is separation of powers among the three branches of government. Malacañang cannot bind us, nor can the Palace and Congress bind the Supreme Court, which will be the final arbiter of any constitutional issue involving anything that we pass here in the House,” he said.

Rodriguez said the five BBL provisions that his panel considers as unconstitutional are those authorizing the envisioned Bangsamoro region to have its own version of the Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, ombudsman and Human Rights Commission.

Aside from these, there are sections that require the President to coordinate with the planned new region whenever the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police conducts operations there, he said.

He said such requirement would dilute the powers of the government.

Gonzales and Rodriguez refused to blame the government panel on why the MILF was insisting on congressional approval of the BBL as drafted, and why the organization thinks Aquino could bind Congress and the Supreme Court.

“Let’s just say the MILF has its views on these things, and we have a different view,” Rodriguez said.

At the Senate, Recto reiterated the BBL cannot be passed in its present form.

 “It has to undergo revision and improvements. But amending the bill shouldn’t be equated with mangling it,” he said.

“The bill must be cured of its perceived constitutional defects,” Recto said.

 “Dito pa lang ayusin na (Let it be fixed here). It must pass the constitutional litmus test here. It’s better for the legislature to make it constitutionally-compliant than for the Supreme Court to strike it down later,” Recto said.

He said the BBL is basically about “financing the peace,” referring to the annual appropriations for the proposed Bangsamoro government.

 “The BBL is basically an appropriations bill. It creates financial obligations in the tens of billions of pesos. It binds the national government, and ultimately taxpayers, to allocate large sums of money every year,” Recto said.

 “On the first year alone of the Bangsamoro establishment, the projected minimum cost is P75 billion,” Recto said, citing official estimates on the fiscal impact of the creation of the so-called Bangsamoro.

A big chunk of the amount is in the form of a “block grant,” which in 2016 – according to testimonies of government officials – will be around P27 billion, says Recto.

 “In the draft BBL, the block grant is automatically appropriated, meaning Congress is obliged to approve it. It may be open to congressional scrutiny, but not to congressional deletion or even reduction,” Recto said.

The BBL also provides for a “Special Development Fund” to be remitted by Manila to the Bangsamoro administration.

 “This is P10 billion, an amount that is bigger than the combined budget of the tourism and trade and industry departments, or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority,” he said.

On top of these entitlements, Recto explained barangays, cities, towns and provinces in the Bangsamoro region will continue to receive their Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA), which is the share of local governments from taxes collected by the national government.

 “The block grant, the SDF and other entitlements are over and above present spending levels,” Recto pointed out.

In a hearing on the Mamasapano clash last week, Recto also revealed the amount being readied for the Bangsamoro is even bigger than the P70-billion budget for the cash conditional transfer program.

The Philippine National Police (PNP)’s annual budget is pegged at P70 billion.

# # # #

hvp 02.17.15

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.

Good and Bad News

Malaya 02.17.15

 

They still had ammunition for their rifles, but what failed them were their grenades which turned out to be defective and apparently did not explode. Who bought these grenades for the SAF? Why did our PNP supply them grenades that would not explode?”


by Ducky Paredes

 

 The good news is that the value of the investment of dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) in Berlin-based Rocket Internet AG has gone up close to €500 million. 

PLDT spokesman Ramon Isberto said the value of the company’s investment in the German firm surged 48 percent to €493.6 million from €333 million barely six months after it bought into the Internet company.

Rocket Internet generated €588.5 million after it increased its share capital through partial utilization of its authorized capital under the exclusion of shareholders’ subscription rights to €165.14 million from €153.13.

The 12.01 million new no-par value ordinary bearer shares priced at €49 per share were placed in a private placement with institutional investors by way of an accelerated bookbuilding process late last week.

The issue price of €49 per share translates to a market capitalization of €8.09 billion for Rocket Internet.

Isberto said the fund raising activity would dilute PLDT’s stake in Rocket Internet further to 6.1 percent from 6.6 percent.

“Assuming at 7.8 percent capital increase, PLDT’s 6.6 percent stake would be reduced at 6.1 percent with €493.6 million value which is still 48 percent higher than our initial investment of €333 million,” he added.

The PLDT Group made its biggest foreign investment when it spent €333 million to acquire a 10 percent stake in Rocket Internet last Aug. 7.

Last month, PLDT’s Smart Communications Inc. through Through Voyager Innovations Inc. announced it was initially investing €30 million for a 33.3 percent stake in a joint venture company with Rocket Internet to focus on online business development in the Philippines.

On the other hand, Asia Pacific Internet Group - 50 percent owned by Rocket Internet - would have a 66.7 percent in the new joint venture company to be called Philippine Internet Group (PHIG).

The unit of Smart has an option to increase its stake to 50 percent in the new online enterprise that would bundle activities of existing high-growth companies and numerous models to be launched in the coming years

Following the successful model of Rocket Internet’s four existing Regional Internet Groups, PHIG would leverage local market and business model insights, facilitate commercial, strategic and investment partnerships, enable local recruiting and sourcing and accelerate the rollout of online startups.

It would drive the activities of high-growth companies that are already operating in the Philippines like Lamudi, Carmudi, Clickbus and Pricepanda, and aims to launch numerous new companies in the coming quarters. Every PLDT phone subscriber is an investor in PLDT whose investment has gained in valuec with the good news.

* * *

We are now finding out that the police commandos who clashed with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 did not run out of bullets, contrary to eastrlier reports and testimonies in congressional hearings.

They still had ammunition for their rifles, but what failed them were their grenades which turned out to be defective and apparently did not explode. Who bought these grenades for the SAF? Why did our PNP buy grenades that would not explode?

This is according to Superintendent Raymund Train, intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who led the 38-member assault team.

The SAF was on a mission to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino cohort, Basit Usman.

Train said he lost nine men after killing Marwan in his hideout in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano town.

Another team, the SAF’s 55th Special Action Company, was to serve as a blocking force on the way out of the village. Thirty-five of 36 members of this force died in a clash with fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had signed a peace deal with the government.

In a sworn statement taken by a PNP investigator, Train was asked if his team ran out of ammunition.

“No, because I instructed my men to have fire discipline or shoot only when you see the enemy. However, many of our M203 ammunition were duds,” he said.

An M203 is an M-16 rifle fitted with a grenade launcher.

Asked why he thought nine of his men died, he said, “There was no immediate reinforcement upon extrication. AFP did not react immediately even after we requested for indirect fire support,” referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

AFP officials claim that they were given little information on the Mamasapano operation and on the location of the embattled SAF forces.

“The planners agreed to use time-on-target as basis of coordination to ensure operational security. This is due to past experiences wherein prior coordination was made with the AFP and the result of the operation was always negative,” Train said.

On Jan. 25, he said the plan was to inform the AFP after their principal target, Marwan, had been taken down “by calling TCP and mentioning the word Bingo.”

Train said he was able to call at 4:15 a.m. after they had killed Marwan.

TCP stands for tactical command post, which was manned by Train’s superiors, sacked SAF commander Director Getulio Napeñas and his deputy, acting SAF commander Noli Taliño, kilometers away from the scene of the firefight.

Train said he did not know, nor was he informed in his communications with TCP, why at least five SAF companies – from 41st to 45th – were not able to reinforce his team and the blocking force that was nearly wiped out.

He recounted that they were able to reach Marwan’s lair at 4:14 a.m. after crossing five rivers, more than an hour behind schedule “due to difficulties in the river crossing.” They were supposed to be in the area at 3 a.m.

Asked how sure he was that the man they had killed was Marwan, he said the target looked like the one in photos they had with them.

“Also, I observed that his behavior, particularly his sleeping habit, is consistent with the known behavior of the target,” he said.

Train said they started to withdraw after taking DNA samples and photographs of their quarry.

He added that they had encountered gunfire after walking about 200 meters away from Marwan’s hideout.

“This time, we also heard more gunfire at about 500 meters from our position. We were then informed by TCP that 55th SAC (blocking force) was also under fire,” he recalled.

Train said they tried to link up with the blocking force.

“No, we were already under fire at this time, so we established a defensive position near a nipa hut and radioed for support several times,” he said when asked if they were able to reach their beleaguered colleagues.

Train said their engagement with Muslim rebels “lasted the whole day.”

“A majority of the casualties died from sniper (fire) and mortar rounds. Many of them died in the afternoon, between 2 and 6,” he said.

Based on testimonies given in congressional hearings, at about this time, all but one of the 36-member 55th SAC had been killed. Relatives have said their last communication with them came at 2 p.m.

Train said they were rescued at around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, more than a day after their clash with Moro fighters.

“We finally left the area of engagement at 3:30 p.m., January 26,” he said.

President Aquino was in Zamboanga City on the day of the gunfight.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command based in the city, told last Wednesday’s hearing at the House of Representatives that Aquino authorized a “best effort rescue without endangering reinforcing troops” at about 7 p.m. that day.

# # # #

hvp 02.16.15

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 Sitwasyon sa South China Sea/Brutal na Pagpatay sa SAF

Abante  (02.17.15)

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Hindi na yata na-aasikaso ng Palasyo ng Malacañang ang ulat na nagha­handa na ng giyera ang China sa Asya kaya lalong pinaiigting ng nasabing bansa ang kanilang reclamation activities sa Spratly Islands.

Ginawa ni Presidential Communication Ope­rations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio ‘Sonny’ Coloma Jr. matapos mag-­warning ang intelligence chief ng Pacific fleet ng United States (US) Navy ukol sa reclamation activities ng China sa South China Sea o West Philippine Sea.

 “Hindi natitinag ang posisyon ng ating pamahalaan hinggil sa panga­ngailangan na pairalin ang isang rules base approach sa pagharap sa mga usapin sa West Philippine Sea,” ani Coloma.

Ayon sa kalihim, wala ng urungan ang kasong isinampa ng Pilipinas sa International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ang tribunal body ng United Nation (UN) laban sa China.

Bukod dito, hindi umano bumibitaw ang Pilipinas sa ating hangarin na magkaroon ng Code of Conduct (COC) na suportado ng mga bansa sa Southeast Asian Nation.

Una rito, naniniwala si Navy Capt. James E. Fanell na ang reclamation activities ng China sa West Philippine Sea ay paghahanda para idomina ang mga bansa na umaangkin din sa mga isla sa nasabing karagatan.

* * *

Dalawampu’t siyam sa 44 nasawing Special Action Force (SAF) commandos ang pinasabog ang bungo matapos na barilin sa ulo ng makorner sa madugong bakbakan ng mga rebeldeng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) noong Enero 25 sa Mamasapano, Maguin­danao.

Ito ang nabatid base sa resulta ng autopsy report ng PNP-Crime Laboratory na nagsagawa ng pagsusuri sa mga bangkay ng mga bayaning SAF troopers.

Kahit naka-bullet proof ang mga commandos ay tinanggal ito ng MILF rebels saka pinagbabaril sa dibdib, leeg at mukha kaya karamihan ay halos hindi na makilala.

Ilan pa sa mga nasawi ay nilapastangan ang mga bangkay matapos na pagtatadtarin ng taga.

Lumilitaw rin na pinagbabaril ang mga ito ng malapitan ng makorner na ng mga kalaban. Bagaman bahagya lamang nasugatan ay brutal pa ring tinapos ang buhay ng mga ito.

Isa sa mga brutal na pinaslang si PO2 Joseph Sagonoy, na nagtamo lamang ng tama ng bala sa hita pero binaril ng dalawang beses sa ulo na ang pagpaslang ay na­ging ‘viral video’ sa social media.

Samantala sina Ins­pector Ryan Pabalinas, radio man ay pinagbabaril sa ulo, leeg at katawan habang si Insp. Rennie Tayrus, sub-leader ng 84th SAF seaborn company ay may mga tama ng bala sa ulo, likod at ibabang bahagi ng katawan.

Si Sr. Inspector Gednat Tabdi, ang sinasabing pumutol ng hintuturo ng napatay na si Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist Zulkipli bin Hir alyas Marwan para sa sampling ng DNA test ay pinasabog rin ang bungo at marami pa nilang kasamahan na brutal ding pinatay.

Enero 25 nang ini­lunsad ng SAF commandos ang Oplan Exodus sa Mamasapano upang hulihin si Marwan na may $5 milyong reward at Abdul Basit Usman may $2M patong sa ulo.

Aabot naman sa 392 SAF commandos ang nagsagawa ng mission na ikinasawi ng 44 sa kanila.

Buhay pa ang ilang miyembro ng Special Action Force (SAF) dahil hindi naman grabe ang sugat nila sa katawan subalit tinuluyan sila ng pinaghihinalaang miyembro ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) nang pagbabarilin nang malapitan sa ulo at katawan sa isang maisan sa Mamasapano, Maguindanao noong Enero 25. Kung meron tayong usapang pangkapayapaan sa MILF, bekt ganito ang ginawa nila saating mga pulis?

# # # #

hvp (02.16.15)

 

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.

Rumor-Mongering

Malaya 02.16.15

 

Should we give up on “peace” in Mindanao? Some hotheads in the legislature — both in the Senate and in the Lower House seem inclined to throw the Bangsmoro Basic Law out the window. Then, what?”


by Ducky Paredes

 

Kicking the President out at this time or forcing him to resign will only make things worse. For one thing, no one is prepared to take over. The Vice President certainly has not shown that he can do the job nor is he even percieved as having the leadership qualities and the moral sense that one expects of one who would lead this nation.

Thus, it is not surprising that  the purported destabilization plot by certain groups to overthrow the Aquino administration in the wake of growing public outrage over the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos of the Philippine National Police in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25 looks like it will go the way of exagerrated rumor-mongering.

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., and other leaders are confident that our police and military will not abandon their Commander-in-chief, President Aquino, and join the pending coup move revealed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago at a Senate hearing last week.

 “I think the AFP (Armed Forces of Philippines) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) still have faith in their commander-in-chief and are strongly rallying behind him despite the growing outrage over the Mamasapano incident,” said Speaker Belmonte.

Malacañang, the  President’s Palace, has not done anything to beef us its defenses and  Secretary Edwin Lacierda, the president’s spokeman says that  the Presidents is unfazed by protest actions calling for his resignation even as  militant groups have staged protest actions calling on President Aquino to resign, blaming him for the death of the 44 SAF commandos in Maguindanao.

A group called EDSA Dos Bente Dos Coalition says that  it will also conduct protests starting February 22.

Lacierda says that  while the Palace respects protest actions, the public should await the results of the PNP Board of Inquiry investigation findings. “We are in the midst of an inquiry. We are in the midst of several inquiries. So while we respect their choice to express themselves in those manners, we will wait for the results of the Board of Inquiry, kasi kailangan naman talagang malaman ang katotohanan.” he said.

Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo confirmed that there is a brewing coup against the President, but expressed confidence that it is will fail.

 “Senator (Antonio) Trillanes IV and Congressman Gary Alejano have, based on information they received, alerted the government on the activities of certain groups opposed to the administration preparing for a seizure of power,” he said.

 “One group set its plan into motion even before the Mamasapano massacre,” Acedillo said. “Now comes confirmation from the secretary of defense. Despite these, however, I do not believe that these groups will succeed.”

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says that they are still verifying the coup plot report after Senator Santiago expressed alarm over intelligence reports that leaders of certain groups “with a financial backing from a very rich man” are seeking to overthrow the Aquino government.

(In fact, many businessmen are wondering who Senator Santiago’s “very rich man” could be. Could this be just a wild rumor?)

Senator Santiago believes that the DND should have stepped up efforts to “immediately arrest” the coup plotters and their financiers.

She says  that despite her criticism of the President over the SAF 44 massacre, she is  also “against the removal of President Aquino by any means except those that are legal.”

AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe is right when he says that “no person in his right mind, no matter how rich, would finance destabilization moves that will adversely affect the economy and reduce the Philippines into a pariah of the international community.”

“ While, we can not discount such rumors, I do believe that coup d’etats in the Philippines will never have the support of the people and global community,” he said.

But, 1-BAP partylist Rep. Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, who served as justice secretary during the Ramos administration warns:

 “The success or failure of such coup depends on how the President handles the situation which has become very volatile. The nation wants justice now. I do hope the President has seen the handwriting on the wall,” he said.

Congressman Bello seems to be walking in step with Former President Ramos who has unlike former Presidents both in the US and the Philippines, kept their clomments on the sitting president to themselves out of a sense of propriety.

* * *

Retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal calls for President Benigno Aquino III’s resignation following the Mamasapano clash between government forces and Muslim rebels. Vidal, as chairman of the National Transformation Council (NTC), urged Aquino to step down from office and calls  for reforms in the system of government.

“We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian Churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Even long before the unfortunate events, the National Transformation Council has strongly articulated that the President step down. Recent developments have made the call even more urgent and imperative,” he said.

Vidal’s view was supported by Bishop Ramon Villena, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz, Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla and Bishop Filomeno Bactol but not by the National Transformation Council (NTC). The NTC clarifies that they are not planning to be part of the alleged coup d’etat brewing against the President.

The NTC said they only encourage the public to stand united for change.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, for his part, said the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has no plans of getting involved in any political activities.

* * *

The government is providing assistance tor the bereaved families of the 44 SAF commandos. Aside from the monetary assistance coming from the President’s Social Fund, each of the families is extended support in terms of employment, education, health, and housing, among others.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) offers the families skills training programs, while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is matching the skills of working-age individuals with available jobs. “There are members of certain families that have signified interest to undergo career-coaching from TESDA,” says Lacierda.

The government is also reaching out to the private sector to recommend the employment of relatives of the SAF troopers.

The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has an existing scholarship program that will provide grants for the children of the SAF troopers. For dependents who are in college or are of college-age, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will provide them assistance.

The Office of the Executive Secretary is recommending a mechanism to provide educational assistance to dependents not covered by the Napolcom or CHED programs through the President’s Social Fund.

Lacierda says that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been speaking with families “to determine the best path for them.” As for livelihood assistance, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is studying the respective areas of residence of the families to see which businesses are feasible for them. The Department of Health (DOH) has been conducting diagnostic procedures on those who have requested medical assistance.

 “The National Housing Authority (NHA) is assessing the families’ housing needs, and will submit reports at the soonest possible time.

 “Upon the President’s orders, all available mechanisms of the national government are in motion to ensure the well-being of the families,”  says Lacierda.

* * *

Should we give up on “peace” in Mindanao? Some hotheads in the legislature — both in the Senate and in the Lower House seem inclined to throw the Bangsmoro Basic Law out the window. Then, what? If we cannot have peace with our Muslim Filipinos. What, then, can we have?

I am getting too many unwanted text messages calling Muslim Filipinos insulting names. It’s like being back in the days when we still had the Moro wars that started with the Spanish conquistadors and continued  during the time of the American colonizers. Surely, we can do better than the Spaniards and the Americans. We can have peace between Christians and Muslims. After all, we’re all  Filipinos.

# # # #

hvp 02.15.15

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.