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VOL. 2 NO. 103

FEBRUARY 21, 2014






Jinggoy Estrada decries prejudgment

Give us back our roads

Thousands of US volunteers pack meals for Filipino children

Fil-Canadian in Focus: Frank and Olga Tan

Remembering Edsa

Remittances hit all-time high in 2013

Record $2.2B in December brought total to $22.8B BY PAOLO G. MONTECILLO Philippine Daily Inquirer

THAT’S MY BOY. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada visits his son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, at his Senate office to greet him on his birthday and give him

moral support amid accusations he pocketed tens of millions of pesos in pork barrel kickbacks. Also in photo are Estrada’s other son, Sen. JV Ejercito, and Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who has also been implicated in the pork barrel scam. PHOTO BY GRIG MONTEGRANDE

4-day work week pushed amid hellish traffic jams BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, PHILIPPINES—The prospect of hellish traffic jams in Metro Manila with two major road projects beginning simultaneously on Monday night has prompted a Quezon City lawmaker to revive his push for a four-day work

week for government employees to help ease the anticipated gridlock. Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, who chairs the House committee on Metro Manila development, said his proposal would reduce the commuting time for state employees and provide a measure of comfort by giving them an

❱❱ PAGE 15 Remittances hit

Manny Pacquiao starts gym training ❱❱ PAGE 8

❱❱ PAGE 8 4-day work

CASH SENT home by migrant workers, one of the main drivers of the country’s economic growth, rose to record levels last year despite the continued weakness of the global economy. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monday reported that growth in remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) beat expectations in 2013, helping prop up consumer demand despite the high unemployment in the country. “The solid growth of remittances from

FEBRUARY 21, 2014



no term contracts

Philippine News


Solons want to clip Ombudsman’s powers BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer THE HOUSE committee on justice wants to amend the Ombudsman law, or Republic Act No. 6770, to favor officials facing complaints. It has approved a measure seeking to limit the power of the Office of the Ombudsman to preventively suspend officials and to cut in half the six-month suspension period. It also seeks to amend the rule on the finality of Ombudsman decisions. A preventive suspension is issued to remove an accused official from the scene during an investigation but is not an indication of guilt or intended to be a penalty. Under the proposed changes, in cases where the penalty is other than public censure, reprimand or suspension of more than one month’s salary, the ruling shall be implemented only after the period of appeal shall have lapsed. As for the power to suspend, the bill would have the Ombudsman issue preventive suspensions only against officials still in the position from which the charges arose, unless there was a great possibility their continuing in their present position would influence wit-

Authored by Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (in photo), a measure seeking to limit the power of the Office of the Ombudsman to preventively suspend officials and to cut in half the six-month suspension period has been approved by the House committee on justice. PHOTO FROM GMANETWORK.COM

nesses or alter the evidence. The justice committee approved the measure despite opposition from Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera. Authored by committee chair Niel Tupas Jr., it is intended to ensure that pre-

LTO, LTFRB blamed for spate of bus accidents BY JERRY E. ESPLANADA Philippine Daily Inquirer JESUS ARRANZA, the chair of the 800-member Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), yesterday said both the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) shared part of the blame for the recent spate of tragic bus accidents because of their failure to do their jobs. “It’s time for top officials and other personnel of these two agencies to wake up,” Arranza said in a statement. He described as “alarming” the observation that “these two agencies merely react when deaths occur in vehicular mishaps” instead of meticulously implementing roadworthy standards in the transportation industry. “Had the LTFRB and LTO done their jobs, that is, monitoring round-theclock the franchises and operations of bus companies, then serious road accidents involving buses and other public utility vehicles could have been prevented,” Arranza said. In a statement, the FPI head pointed

out that these agencies “share the blame for non-roadworthy vehicles plying routes nationwide.” “It is only now that they are discovering that the GV Florida Transport bus involved in the Feb. 7 crash in Bontoc, Mountain Province that killed at least 14 passengers was not even registered under the name of the said company,” he noted. “Moreover, the bus’ license plates did not match with the engine & chassis. Worse, it was also discovered that the bus had double license plates,” he added. According to Arranza, “the public is confronted with a bigger problem: that the LTFRB and LTO merely react as their respective investigations are made after the fact or after a mishap had already happened.” The LTFRB ordered all of the estimated 250 buses of Florida off the road as part of the 30-day suspension meted on the bus firm.” With main terminals in Sampaloc, Manila, and Cubao, Quezon City, Florida plies routes to over 40 key cities and towns in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Region. ■

ventive suspensions would be imposed not as a penalty or tool for harassment but as a necessary move to prevent a public official from interfering with or delaying an investigation, Tupas said. He said there were instances in the past when a preventive suspension was ordered where the official concerned was no longer in the post from which the complaint arose. In this case, the official was no longer in a position to influence the investigation. “What happens is it becomes a penalty. The primary purpose of a preventive suspension is not a penalty,” he said during the committee hearing. On questioning by Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, however, Tupas acknowledged there were instances when this was not the case, such as when the official moved from being vice mayor to mayor. The Ombudsman would still be able to suspend an official whose new post puts him in position to influence an investigation involving his former post. Tupas also said that reducing the period of preventive suspension from six months to three was necessary because six months was too long, especially for an elected official. In seeking to amend the law on the

finality of the Ombudsman’s decisions, Tupas said the current rule states that an appeal would not stop the implementation of the decision. This means that if an official is ordered dismissed, he would not be able to serve in his present post while appealing the ruling. Tupas said this was contrary to jurisprudence and was unfair, especially to elected officials. Mosquera, at the hearing, insisted on the Ombudsman’s power to issue preventive suspensions, saying that even if an official were in a position other than the one where the complaint originated, he could still use his office to influence the investigation. He said the Ombudsman should be able to issue preventive suspensions ex parte, or without notifying the other party, since the respondents may be able to file pleadings to delay their suspension and give them time to tamper with the evidence or get to the witnesses. He also said the six-month preventive suspension period should be retained. If the suspension period were reduced, there was a possibility of the official returning to his post and continuing the acts for which he was suspended, he said. ■


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Philippine News

FEBRUARY 21, 2014


Before he was ‘Sexy,’ Jinggoy was ‘Anak,’ Sen. Loi was ‘Inay’ BY NANCY C. CARVAJAL Philippine Daily Inquirer BEFORE “SEXY,” Sen. Jinggoy Estrada was given the code name “Anak” and his mother, former Sen. Loi Estrada, was “Inay,” according to sworn statements issued to the National Bureau of Investigation. Loi Estrada, like her son, channeled some of her allocations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, according to the statements executed by Benhur Luy. But Luy, the principal whistle-blower in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, said the NGOs implemented the mother’s projects and that she received a 40percent commission. Jinggoy Estrada, together with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., Napoles and 34 others, is facing a

plunder complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with allegations that PDAF allocations went to ghost projects or kickbacks. They have denied wrongdoing. NBI witnesses, in their sworn affidavits, had submitted notebooks containing records of Napoles’ alleged deals with the lawmakers. Enrile, Estrada and Revilla were referred to in the notebooks by their code names “Tanda,” “Sexy” and “Pogi,” respectively. In an interview with the INQUIRER, Luy said Jinggoy Estrada had persuaded his mother to allocate her PDAF to Napoles. “The projects of Senator Loi were fully implemented, but like her son’s projects a commission of 40 percent was also deducted from the project’s amount,” said Luy, a former employee of Napoles, who is under detention allegedly for holding Luy hostage to prevent him from revealing her activities to authorities.

Luy also said that Napoles gave Loi Estrada the “Inay” code name. He said Jinggoy’s code name was changed from “Anak” to “Sexy” after the senator went dieting and lost weight. Luy said actor Mat Ranillo acted as conduit in the transactions of Loi Estrada. One document obtained by the INQUIRER showed Jinggoy’s mother wrote then Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on May 9, 2005, requesting transfer of her PDAF with special allotment release order (Saro) E-05-00181 dated Jan. 24, 2005, to the Philippine Social Development Foundation, a Napoles dummy organization. Another document also showed that Loi Estrada in a letter on Jan. 11, 2006, to then Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban directed that P10 million of her PDAF with Saro No. ROCS-0507-593 dated Dec. 29, 2005, be channeled through the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Rice and Corn program of

Before “Sexy,” Sen. Jinggoy Estrada (left)was given the code name “Anak” and his mother, former Sen. Loi Estrada (right), was “Inay,” according to sworn statements issued to the National Bureau of Investigation. PHOTO FROM SOLARNEWS.PH

former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Loi Estrada said the allocation was for the implementation of agricultural livelihood projects through another Napoles organization, the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation. Loi Estrada again wrote Yap on Feb. 7, 2007, to allocate P23 million of her PDAF to the municipalities in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur with Saro No. ROCS0607680 dated Nov. 22, 2006, to the same Napoles dummy organization, Masaganang Ani. Jinggoy Estrada also wrote Panganiban in a letter on Aug.

15, 2005, asking for the transfer P30 million of his PDAF to another Napoles NGO—People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc.—to implement his project under Saro No. E-04-948 dated Dec. 15, 2004. The document received by the secretary’s office on Oct. 11, 2005, also bore a marginal note with an instruction to Director Ricardo Regis to expedite the process. Jinggoy Estrada also wrote Regis on Sept. 18, 2006, to allocate P10 million of his PDAF to municipalities in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte with Saro No. ROCS- 06-03101 dated June 16, 2006, for livelihood programs. ■

Philippine News


Focus pork scam probe on Philforest–Belmonte

P-Noy forms human rights claims board

BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer

BY MICHAEL LIM UBAC Philippine Daily Inquirer

PHILIPPINE FOREST Corp. (Philforest) should be the focus of investigation in the alleged diversion to dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of P100 million worth of pork barrel funds, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said. Belmonte told reporters that authorities should investigate the Commission on Audit (COA) report that found that Philforest had released the funds to eight NGOs that were either ill-equipped for the projects given to them or could not be found in their addresses. But Belmonte also gave the benefit of the doubt to claims that allocations—ranging from P210,000 to P13.45 million— the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Malacañang’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went to these organizations. “The appropriate authorities should investigate, but I think a lot of the congressmen were in good faith. The IA (implementing agency) should of course be the center of the investigation,” Belmonte said. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad washed his hands of any culpability in the alleged scam. “How a project is implemented,” he said in a text message to the INQUIRER, “is wholly up to the implementing agency, or Philforest in this case.” Members of the House of Representatives have an annual allocation of P70 million under the PDAF, which was augmented after the creation in 2011 of the DAP, an impounding mechanism for government savings purportedly used to pump prime the economy. The COA has said that the PDAF- and DAP-funded projects coursed through Philforest should have been awarded to NGOs through mandatory bidding instead of being contracted out. The P100-million came from 22 lawmakers consisting of two senators and 20 House members, mostly from party-list groups.

A YEAR after being pressed by rights advocates, President Aquino finally announced the composition of a board that would compensate the harms suffered by human rights victims under martial law. Mr. Aquino named as chairperson to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board retired Police Director Lina-CastilloSarmiento and appointed as members Wilfred Asis, Galuasch Ballaho, Byron Bocar, Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Glenda Litong, Jacqueline Veloria Mejia, Aurora Corazon Parong and Erlinda Senturias. The board was created pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10368, otherwise known as the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. Mr. Aquino signed into law RA 10368 at the 27th anniversary of Edsa People Power Revolution in February last year. Sarmiento, who retired last month, is the first female police official to be promoted to second-star rank in the maledominated Philippine National Police (PNP). When she received two stars in June 2012, she became the PNP’s first female third level official to hold the rank of director equivalent to that of a major general in the military. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares had earlier castigated the President for dilly-dallying on implementing the law, w h i c h Congress passed to afford victims of martial law their long-delayed recognition and reparation. The compensation will be sourced from the recovered P10-billion illgotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In a privilege speech last December, Colmenares criticized

Umali recollection

In an earlier phone inter-

Belmonte told reporters that authorities should investigate the COA report that found that Philforest had released the funds to eight NGOs that were either ill-equipped for the projects given to them or could not be found in their addresses.

view, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, one of those mentioned in the COA report, said he remembered choosing an NGO to implement his project upon the prodding of Philforest, which has a list of its accredited groups. “My recollection is we were made to choose from among those groups,” Umali said. He surmised that this was the procedure because Philforest was a small agency that was unable to handle all of the lawmakers’ projects. But he also said that the project he funded under Philforest was implemented. The main beneficiary of the funds, which the COA said amounted to P13.5 million, was his Unified Tree of Life Program that intended to plant 12,012,012 trees. So far, some 3 million trees have been planted in his district, he said. The program, launched on Dec. 12, 2012, continues up to today, he added. Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco, who was Kasangga partylist representative in 2012, also said yesterday that the implementers of his projects came from the Philforest list. Haresco said that his small office had nothing to do with accrediting these groups. The P1.05 million he coursed through Philforest was for the reforestation of areas devastated by Tropical Storm “Sendong” in 2011, he added. Tañada denial

Former Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III denied allegations that P7 million of his PDAF


funds went to a “ghost project” and asserted that Philforest implemented in 2012 the planting of trees in the Maulawin Watershed. According to Tañada, he and local officials of the municipality of Guinayangan, Quezon province, along with residents, farmers, and students were present when the project was implemented to provide livelihood projects and produce fruit-bearing trees. The project also involved planting propagules to rehabilitate the mangrove area in Guinayangan, he added. “I am willing to cooperate with the COA to help clarify questions they may have on this matter,” he said. The other lawmakers whose funds Philforest released to supposedly questionable NGOs were Senators Gregorio Honasan II and Lito Lapid, and Representatives Raymond Democrito Mendoza, Fatima Dimaporo, Isidro Q. Lico, Antonio Alvarez, Michael Angelo C. Rivera, Salvador P. Cabaluna III, Rodolfo G. Valencia, Jose S. Aquino II, Ponciano D. Payuyo, Hadjiman HatamanSulliman, Joel Roy R. Duavit, Nelson Dayanghirang, Nicanor M. Briones, Jose Benjamin Benaldo, Maria Isabelle G. Climaco, Yevgeny Vicente B. Emano and Robert Raymund Estrella. There has been greater scrutiny on the role of NGOs in implementing public projects following disclosures that P10 billion in pork barrel funds ended in kickbacks and phantom projects. ■

the President for his failure to swiftly appoint members of the board that would oversee the distribution of the P10 billion fund. He noted that several human rights groups had long submitted nominees for the board positions. Without the board, which would also be tasked to come up with the implementing rules and regulations, the process of compensating the victims could not begin, Colmenares said. The militant lawmaker even asked Congress at the time to exercise its power of oversight and investigate the alleged nonimplementation of the law that it approved. At a briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the President had not given the board a timetable for the compensation process. But Coloma said the board was expected to observe a “sense of urgency” on account of the victims who have been waiting for compensation from the government for over four decades. “They have a sense of urgency in facing up to their new duties,” said Coloma of the members of the compensation board. But Coloma said the “expectations” or duties of the board were contained in Section 10 (powers and functions of the board) such as “receive, evaluate, process and investigate applications for claims.” ■

Philippine News

FEBRUARY 21, 2014


US backs rule of law in sea row BY TARRA QUISMUNDO AND NIKKO DIZON Philippine Daily Inquirer A VISITING United States official has reaffirmed the US government’s support for international law and the rules of discipline in the disputed territories of the West Philippine Sea (a portion of the South China Sea), saying that America’s focus remained on maintaining peace and stability in the Asia Pacific. Scot Marciel, principal deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, also reiterated US support for a peaceful means of resolving the dispute, including the Philippines’ right to take its case against China to a United Nations arbitral tribunal to clarify maritime boundaries in the contested waters. “What we’ve emphasized is the importance of all claimant states following international law, and kind of agreed-upon rules of behavior during the pe-

riod when these disputes were under way,” Marciel said in an interview at the US Embassy. Marciel is on a visit to the region for a “reorientation” on the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries (Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam), touching base with his counterparts in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and with observers of developments in the Philippines. He left the country. “So whenever you look at what we say publicly, it’s always about maintaining the peace, the stability that’s critical to prosperity in the region but also urging all the claimants, including China, to follow sort of rules and international law,” the US official said. It was amid these escalating tensions that Washington announced its “pivot” to the Asia Pacific, which Marciel said represented the Obama administration’s commitment to be “intensively engaged with the region in every way—diplomatically, economically, [through] people-to-people relations, se-

curity,” among others. He said the United States remained a neutral player in the dispute but it was supportive of efforts to peacefully resolve the matter, including the push for a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea and legal remedies such as the Philippines’ arbitration case before the UN tribunal. Marciel said the United States continued to value its relationship with China, underlined by the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Beijing as part of a four-city swing through Asia, Kerry’s fifth visit to the region as America’s top diplomat. As it builds up its defense capability amid regional security concerns, the Philippines is now negotiating an agreement with Washington for greater US military presence in the country. While not involved in the negotiations, Marciel described the talks as an “overall effort” to find “21st century ways” of ensuring “interoperability” between the Philippine and US militaries in the areas of de-

fense and disaster response. “It’s really an effort by both sides to build a very modern and effective defense relationship or to strengthen what’s already a good relationship,” he said. In a related development, the Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday made the rare move of reacting to a statement by a ranking US general who criticized President Aquino’s recent call for international support against China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea. On Monday, US Gen. Herbert Carlisle cautioned Mr. Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe against making provocative statements amid the rising tensions between China on one side and the Philippines and Japan on the other. “We believe the Philippines’ defense and military establishments have exercised maximum

restraint with respect to the situation in the West Philippine Sea. Based on previous occurrences, it is clear the Philippines has been the object of harassment,” the DND said in a statement released. “We believe that in opposing aggressive and expansionist behavior, the Philippines is not only serving its national interests, but also serving the region’s as well, including all states that have a stake in freedom of navigation and clear territorial rights as defined under the principles of Unclos (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” the DND said. The four-paragraph statement was probably the strongest which the defense department has directed at a US military official commenting on the dispute with China. ■

Philippine News


P-Noy: What went wrong? Cabinet pressed to explain rise in joblessness BY MICHAEL LIM UBAC, JEROME ANING AND MICHELLE V. REMO Philippine Daily Inquirer

tion and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) “have been expanded to ensure that children of most needy families become employable.”

lusang Mayo Uno (KMU)—said “jobless growth” would continue unless the primary causes of unemployment were recognized and addressed.

BAFFLED BY the high unemployment rate, President Aquino quizzed the Cabinet on its “action plan for poverty reduction” as the benefits of a strong economy were eluding the country’s middle class and poor. Mr. Aquino presided over a rare full Cabinet meeting that included Vice President Jejomar Binay in the Aguinaldo State Dining Room of Malacañang. The meeting came after the media reported a finding of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that the unemployment rate rose to 27.5 percent, or an estimated 12.1 million, as 2.5 million Filipinos joined the ranks of the jobless between September and December last year. The unemployment rate soared even as the economy surprisingly grew 7.2 percent, the second-fastest after China’s, showing that the economic growth was not inclusive. The unemployment rate was 6 percentage points higher than the 21.7 percent (some 9.6 million) in the previous quarter, according to the SWS survey. Mr. Aquino “prayed for God’s guidance” at the start of the meeting, Malacañang said. At press time, the Cabinet was still discussing the action plan as well as the “strategic framework of human development and poverty reduction,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message he sent to members of the media. The action plan for poverty reduction is indispensable to the Aquino administration’s goal of “inclusive growth.” Poverty incidence in the country stood at 25.2 percent in 2012. “We are focusing on job creation in manufacturing and more highly remunerative sectors,” Coloma said, when asked by reporters why, despite the strong capital inflows, the level of joblessness was growing. Coloma said the conditional cash transfer program and programs of the Technical Educa-

Faces of poverty

Trade liberalization

Margie Sta. Ana, 55, said she did not feel the economic growth. “It’s even hard to find a job even if you are a college graduate,” said Sta. Ana, who worked as a factory worker for 30 years. She lives with her sickly husband under the stairs of a dilapidated two-story apartment in Makati City because they can no longer afford the rent. Like Sta. Ana, Astro Camitan, 25, said he also didn’t enjoy the benefits of the country’s growing economy. “They (corrupt officials) pocket the people’s fund instead of using it to help the needy,” said Camitan, a father of one and works as a tricycle driver. “What progress are they talking about if they are the only ones who benefit from it?” Allies and critics alike of the administration as well as economists and a multilateral agency put forward various proposals to address the unemployment problem. Instead of blaming calamities for the soaring number of jobless Filipinos, the government should focus on having labor-intensive infrastructure projects that would achieve the twin goals of providing jobs and reconstructing devastated areas, said Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello. Reacting to the SWS findings, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the unemployment rate increased in the last quarter because of the calamities that hit the country. Contractualization

But while this was the case, Bello said the increasing number of the unemployed could also be attributed to existing policies on labor contractualization, a scheme in which workers are let go after six months so that employers will not hire them on a regular basis and thus pay for their benefits. Three labor groups—Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and Ki-

PM chair Renato Magtubo said that while climate change was becoming a big threat to the Philippines, the primary culprits behind the rising unemployment levels were trade liberalization, lack of an industrial program and privatization-led growth model. Industrialization

TUCP executive vice president Gerardo Seno said the government must continue to attract new job-creating investments, build new roads, bridges, and sea ports and airports, and lower electricity rate if it wanted to effectively address the unemployment problem. KMU attributes the high unemployment rate to dependence on foreign investments, alleged failure to implement genuine land reform and absence of national industrialization. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), in a recent publication titled “Taking the Right Road to Inclusive Growth,” said the failure of the country to boost its industrial sector was a key reason why its economic growth remained far from being inclusive. “The Philippine economy’s chronic problems of high unemployment, slow poverty reduction and low investment are reflections of the sluggish industrialization,” the ADB said. Manufacturing

The ADB said the industrial sector, which included manufacturing, should be the one driving the economy to substantially reduce unemployment and poverty. Growth of the Philippine economy over the past decade, however, has been driven by the service sector, which includes the business process outsourcing (BPO) subsector. While the BPO sector in particular and the overall services sector in general have provided economic gains, these are not responsive to the need for inclusive growth. According to the ADB, the

President Aquino quizzed the Cabinet on its “action plan for poverty reduction” as the benefits of a strong economy were eluding the country’s middle class and poor. PHOTO FROM JSNCRUZ.COM

dustrial sector, compared with the service sector, has the better ability to create job opportunities for the poor. Also, the industrial sector has a much higher multiplier effect on the economy. The ADB suggested more government support for the industrial sector through investments in education, skills training and infrastructure to achieve inclusive economic growth. Economists’ take

Economists said it would take a while before the country’s economic growth would translate into significant drop in unemployment and poverty. When an economy takes a highgrowth trajectory, businesses do not immediately hire more workers. They only do so when they are convinced that robust economic growth is sustainable, said Victor Abola, an economics professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific. “Initially, they (businesses) will just require existing workers to work overtime,” Abola told the INQUIRER. Benjamin Diokno, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, said economic growth did not always equate to a drop in the unemployment rate. In the case of the Philippines, he said, many recent investments were capital-intensive but not laborintensive. “Most public and private construction can be characterized as large-scale, capital intensive. Even the multi-billion school building program was implemented by big-time contractors using capital intensive or labor-saving technologies,” Diokno told the INQUIRER.

Diokno said the Philippines needed to invest more in sectors that were labor-intensive and job-generating in order to see a drop in the unemployment rate. Human development

At the full Cabinet meeting, the President was briefed on “jobs challenge and human development” by the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Tesda, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Trade and Industry. Other issues discussed with the President were “protecting the poor and the vulnerable (social protection).” The Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council led the discussions. The Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Science and Technology discussed “crosscutting concerns and support for human development and poverty reduction,” while the agriculture, environment and agrarian reform departments zeroed in on “rural development and poverty focus,” said Coloma. Coloma said a special presentation on “Fish Settlement” in the wake of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” was also made by the National Anti-Poverty Commission. Besides antipoverty issues, the President and his Cabinet also tackled issues dealing with peace and order, and disasters. The Cabinet secretaries also discussed with the President several measures that were consistent with the administration’s “social contract” with the Filipino people. ■

Philippine News


Manny Pacquiao starts gym training

4-day work... extra day off. This is especially important now in light of the looming traffic jams expected to result from the construction of the Skyway project to connect South Luzon Expressway on Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak, Quezon City, and the construction of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway Phase 2 to the Entertainment City gambling hub. To make up for the extra nonworking day, government workers would have to work for 10 hours a day instead of the usual eight hours, according to Castelo. The 10-hour, four-day work week complements a recent proposal from traffic officials to limit school days from five to four days a week as well. “Our workers serve as our economic backbone. We should not close our eyes to their difficulties, especially now that major infrastructure projects are on their way for their construction,” Castelo told reporters on Monday. “At no better time than now when megaroad projects in Metro Manila have gotten under way that proactive experimentation should take place,” he added. The House has long been observing the four-day work week, Castelo said, and this has resulted in government savings, among other things. He said the cutback had not compromised service or productivity. The lawmaker said his bill, if approved, could lead to 20-percent in savings in work expenses, such as transportation fare and food for the state employees. Employers, on the other hand, could save on maintenance costs and overtime pay for workers. ❰❰ 1

Better productivity

The shortened work week could also lead to better productivity because it would help workers to be more focused on their tasks, he said. The extra rest day would give government workers more time to spend with their families or pursue leisure activities, and this could make them more revitalized and motivated, Castelo said. They could even use the additional day off to hone their

BY ROY LUARCA Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, PHILIPPINES— Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao returned to the gym Monday and did light workouts with Filipino trainer Buboy Fernandez. Trusted assistant Roger Fernandez told the Inquirer that

Pacquiao and Buboy did five rounds with the mitts and then two rounds each with the speed ball, double end ball and the heavy bags plus two rounds of skipping rope at Pacman Wild Card Gym in Gen. Santos City. Pacquiao will try to regain his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown from Timothy Bradley on April 12 in Las Vegas. ■

Artist’s vision for the Skyway 3 project. PHOTO FROM ABS-CBNNEWS.COM

skills so that they would be more competitive in the labor market, he added. Castelo said he decided to refile his bill in the 16th Congress even before the megaroad projects took off because he had observed that many workers were being stressed out by worsening daily traffic and becoming less productive. Members of the House independent bloc said they would invite public works, traffic and other officials involved in the 14.8-kilometer Skyway project to a hearing to provide details of the impending road works. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said having more indepth data about the major road projects would help Congress come up with ways to mitigate the effects of the road works. Romualdez said this should not be taken as opposition to progress. “We wish it would’ve come earlier… so we’re stuck with a much delayed and lastminute project,” he said. He also said the public should know how much the toll would be once the Skyway extension is completed because this could also lead to increased fares and trigger a demand for higher salaries. Brace for the worst

Residents of the capital went through the usual traffic snarls that would likely worsen in the coming years as the Aquino administration belatedly imple-

ments 15 infrastructure projects. “We are informing the general public to brace for the traffic situation that we will be encountering for the next four years,” Francisco Manalo, executive director of the capital’s traffic office, said as angry commuters took to social media to vent their frustrations. Manalo warned that once construction begins, travel on the city’s main roads will be reduced to a crawling speed of 1 to 9 kilometers per hour, compared to the already slow, normal 20 kph. Motorists and commuters fearful of getting stuck on the roads left home earlier than usual on Monday. But with so many vehicles on the road as the day began, traffic in and around Manila was snarled for hours in the morning. “Traffic armageddon begins in Manila!!” tweeted San Crisselle Tiu, while Chay1007 said she had to bring an “extra [supply] of patience.” Once actual construction begins, it can take a vehicle at least two hours to travel the 19-km stretch of the city’s main thoroughfare, warned Vicente Lizada, spokesman for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s traffic monitoring office. The authority has asked contractors to provide staff to help direct traffic. ■ With a report from AFP


Jinggoy Estrada decries prejudgment BY TJ A. BURGONIO Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, PHILIPPINES— Protesting a colleague’s “threepoint shot” remark on the testimony of pork barrel scam witness Ruby Tuason against him, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Monday challenged the Senate to convene the ethics committee to investigate him. Taking the floor on his 51st birthday, Estrada said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III had “prejudged” with his remarks using terms in the game of basketball the outcome of the blue ribbon committee inquiry into the alleged misuse of P10 billion in the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund. Estrada said he “almost fell off” his seat when he heard Guingona, the committee chair, conclude that Tuason’s testimony was not only a “threepoint shot, but a buzzer-beater and a winning shot.” “Is it right for a chair of the

committee to prejudge the outcome of any committee hearing?” he said, addressing Senate President Franklin Drilon. “If he has already prejudged the trial, that I am guilty, what’s the reason to call another hearing? If you or anybody here in the Senate has any goods against me, the proper forum is the Senate ethics committee,” he added. Unfair

Estrada said prejudging the outcome of the hearing was “unfair” to him and his colleagues implicated in the scandal. None of the senators present took up the challenge to convene the ethics committee. Guingona was not around. Estrada, along with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., and the alleged brains of the scam, Janet Lim-Napoles, are under investigation in the Office of the ❱❱ PAGE 13 Jinggoy Estrada

Philippine News


Obama coming to visit PH in April BY TARRA QUISMUNDO Philippine Daily Inquirer US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is visiting the Philippines and three other Asian countries in April on a tour aimed at easing questions over the staying power of his strategic shift to Asia, which is growing increasingly tense as China flexes its muscles to intimidate its rivals for territories in the East China and South China Seas. The Philippines will be Obama’s last stop, after visits to Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, the White House said. Obama’s visits to Manila and Kuala Lumpur are intended to make up for his no-show when he canceled a previous Asia tour in October last year amid domestic political strife in Washington. “He will meet with President Aquino to highlight our economic and security cooperation, including through the modernization of our defense alliance, efforts to expand economic ties and spark economic growth through the Partnership for Growth, and through our deep and enduring people-to-people ties,” the White House said in a statement released in Manila by the US Embassy. Malacañang said Obama would visit the Philippines on the invitation of President Aquino. Speaking to reporters in the Palace, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Obama’s visit would “provide a new momentum to Philippine-US relations” as well as strengthen the two countries’ “partnership in many areas.” Coloma dismissed insinuations that Obama’s visit could be an afterthought since the Philippines would be the last stop on a four-country tour.

Not refueling stop

Asked if Manila would just be a refueling stop for Obama before heading home, Coloma replied: “The United States is one of the two strategic partners of our country, and that’s the backdrop for all the visits of the head of state of the US and the visits of the head of state of the Philippines to the [United States] because we’re talking of strategic partnership.” A subtext to Obama’s visit will be rising territorial tensions between several US allies and China, which deepened over Beijing’s recent declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea. Beijing was also angered last week when Washington stiffened its line on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, calling for it to adjust or clarify its claims. US military presence

Obama’s visit comes amid negotiations between Manila and Washington for increased rotations of US troops in the Philippines. Said to be framed within the 62-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Philippines, the rotational agreement is part of Obama’s pivot to Asia policy and of the Philippines’ bid to boost its external defense amid a festering territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within Manila’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone. While saying it does not take sides in territorial disputes, the United States has warned China not to declare a new air defense zone in the South China Sea, which overlaps the West Philippine Sea, and has many times expressed support for Philippine efforts to peacefully settle the dispute, including taking the matter to the Unit-

ed Nations for arbitration and pushing for a maritime code of conduct to prevent armed confrontations in the sea. Besides the Philippines and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have territorial claims in the South China Sea. Partnership for Growth

Obama is visiting Manila as the United States pursues implementation of the White House-led Partnership for Growth, which endeavors to improve education, government, justice and financial systems in the Philippines through collaborative engagement between US and Philippine officials and organizations. The Philippines is one of only four countries engaged with the United States in the program. The others are El Salvador, Ghana and Tanzania. A left-leaning group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), promised to welcome Obama with an “internationally coordinated” protest. Northeast Asian allies

Obama’s stops in Japan and South Korea will also bolster close US alliances, at a time of aggravated political tensions between its two Northeast Asian friends. It was an open secret that Obama would call in Japan in April to take up an invitation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who took office in December 2012. But the decision to add South Korea to the trip came after rising pressure from Seoul and from the Asia policy community in Washington. The move also reflects a desire to signal to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un that there are no gaps in the US and South Korean resolve to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear program and belligerent rhetoric.

The Philippines will be Obama’s last stop, after visits to Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, the White House said. PHOTO BY MISTYDAWNPHOTO / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

It also indicates that Obama is keen to avoid dealing a political slight to South Korean President Park Geun-hye that could result from a presidential visit to Tokyo and not one to Seoul. Relations between the two nations were severely rattled by Abe’s December visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among Japan’s war dead. Obama’s Asia itinerary also includes one noticeable exception—a stop in China. But he is expected to return to the region later in the year for regional summits in Australia, Beijing and Burma (Myanmar). The White House said in a statement that Obama’s April trip would highlight his “ongoing commitment to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.” Free trade pact

Obama is certain to try to push negotiations on a vast Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that will include 12 nations, and is seen by some observers as an attempt to meet the economic challenge of a rising China. The US president, however, may encounter some skepticism from regional partners because US Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, a key Obama ally, has expressed skepticism about granting him expanded powers to negotiate trade deals.

In light of Reid’s remarks, Pacific Rim nations may be loath to make concessions in the trade talks, fearing that any deal agreed may be modified by the US Congress. Obama will stop first in Japan where he will meet Abe. Then he will travel to Seoul for talks with Park, likely to be dominated by North Korea’s latest maneuvering on the divided peninsula. Pyongyang is currently fuming at the prospect of annual US-South Korean military exercises starting later this month and that it views as an act of war. From Seoul, Obama will head to Kuala Lumpur to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to discuss deepening defense and military ties. Then he travels to Manila on the last leg of his tour. The White House did not give exact dates for the trip, other than saying it would take place in late April. Obama has declared he is America’s first “Pacific President” and announced a rebalancing of military and strategic resources to the dynamic, fastgrowing region. But the cancellation of his trip last year and the departure from his administration of big political hitters committed to the Asia pivot, like former secretaries of state and defense Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, have prompted some concern in the region over US staying power. ■

Philippine News


Ruby to detail kickbacks Tuason testifies today at Senate pork probe BY NANCY C. CARVAJAL Philippine Daily Inquirer ON THE EVE of her appearance before the Senate blue ribbon committee, Ruby Tuason met for two hours with five whistle-blowers to provide details on how she delivered alleged kickbacks to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, through his aide, and personally to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in the alleged P10billion pork barrel scam. Tuason, who confessed she arranged lavish parties for Janet Lim-Napoles, the supposed mastermind behind the racket, and later became her bagman, will read a prepared statement before submitting herself to questioning by the senators, according to a source who attended the meeting in the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters. “The speech will give the gist of her involvement and reason of her coming out and more,” the source said. The source said the meeting between Tuason and thewhistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy mostly covered “confirmation of events and transactions.” “Tuason did not have her own records but confirmed the listings and numbers that appeared in the daily transaction records of Luy,” the source said, referring to transactions with the lawmakers.

Tuason, who is known to cook for friends, brought with her homemade sandwiches that she handed out during the meeting. Lawyers from the Department of Justice asked her to identify each whistleblower who had earlier given testimony about the kickbacks. Also present during the meeting at the NBI were Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, Arlene Baltazar and Gertrudes Luy, all former employees of Napoles who have turned against her. Tuason, who is a fellow suspect of Enrile and Estrada in the plunder complaint being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsmand, confirmed statements by Luy and Sula about deliveries Tuason made to Enrile’s former chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, in her house in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City, the source said. Commissions

Tuason also met for five hours with the whistle-blowers at the NBI and corroborated statements about the delivery of kickbacks for the use of the senators’ allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Tuason earlier confirmed to Luy that the commission she handed to Reyes for using Enrile’s PDAF was P77 million for the period 2007-2009, while Estrada’swas P35 million, ac-

cording to the lawyer of the whistle-blowers, Levito Baligod. Luy had the same figure for the alleged Enrile commissions but his record for the money he gave Estrada was only P9 million. Baligod said this was because Estrada went directly to Napoles or used conduits. Based on the records of the two witnesses, the first transaction by Tuason involving Enrile’s PDAF was P31.9 million coursed through the Department of Agriculture using Napoles’ bogus nongovernment organization—People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation—with special allotment release order No. BMB-E-0404-068, dated Dec. 14, 2004. Tuason’s figure for the amount given to Estradawas smaller because the senator used his former staff, Pauline Labayen, to collect his purported payoff. Estrada also had used as conduit for Napoles actor Mat Ranillo. The widow of the late Carlos “Butch” Tuason, chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, left for the United States after news of the pork barrel scandal broke out in July last year. She returned on Friday, saying she wanted to clear her conscience and turn state witness. Both Estrada and Enrile have denied any wrongdoing. Enrile said Tuason was only a “casual” acquaintance.

Ruby Tuason, the widow of the late Carlos “Butch” Tuason, chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, left for the United States after news of the pork barrel scandal broke out in July last year. PHOTO FROM SOLARNEWS.PH

Expanded NBI probe

Also Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the NBI was looking into the possible involvement of Ranillo and Justa Tantoco, a friend of former Sen. Loi Ejercito, in the pork barrel scam following Tuason’s revelations. “That’s being looked into because it’s our duty to investigate new information provided by this new whistle-blower, by the new state witness, and we need to pursue this,’’ De Lima told reporters. She said the case involving Ranillo concerned the recovery of “sums of money’’ from certain transactions he had with Napoles. De Lima was referring to a 2005 legal dispute between Ranillo and Napoles’ JLN Corp. in which Ranillo was sued for payment of a vehicle. A GMA News report said one of the JLN Corp. vouchers submitted by Ranillo to the court dated Aug.11, 2005, showed that Estrada received “payment for

50 percent of P30 million rebate charge’’ worth P1.14 million. Asked about Tantoco, De Lima said she had no details yet but added that “perhaps if that is explored or pursued (today) at the Senate hearing we might have an answer.’’ De Lima is expected to attend the resumption of the Senate hearing. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the Palace was expecting Tuason to tell “nothing but the truth.” “Perhaps, that’s also what our people, not just those in the government, want,” Coloma told reporters in Filipino. “Even ordinary people have a very high interest in the outcome of this issue because they know that this involves the alleged misuse of public funds,” he said. “In all instances, we want—the people want—to know the truth because it’s that would give justice to this issue.” ■

Bus firm can’t blame bad roads–DPWH BY JERRY E. ESPLANADA Philippine Daily Inquirer THE GV FLORIDA Transport’s blaming the poor condition of the road for the Feb. 7 fatal accident involving one of its buses was “unbelievable,” said a Department of Public Works and Highways official in Bontoc, Mt. Province. “It’s not true. That portion of the Bontoc Nueva Vizcaya road where the accident occurred is well-maintained,” Wilbur Likigan, the district engineer in the DPWH field office in Bontoc, said in a phone interview. He said there is a roving team

The wreckage of the Florida Transport bus is left at a farm in Barangay (village) Talubin in Bontoc, Mt. Province. Strewn around it are personal belongings of its passengers, 14 of whom had died and 32 others taken to hospitals in Mt. Province, Baguio City and Metro Manila. PHOTO BY RICHARD BALONGLONG / INQUIRER.NET

of road sweepers that makes sure the entire stretch of the road is free of sand particles,

stones, rocks and other loose materials caused by landslides. Likigan said it was “totally

unfair” to blame the condition of the road for the crash of the Florida Transport bus that left 14 people dead and 31 more injured. “We’re inclined to believe it was either mechanical failure or the bus driver’s error that may have caused the crash, definitely not the road condition,” Likigan said. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chair Winston Ginez said that mechanical failure and the driver’s negligence apparently led to the tragedy. The LTFRB has slapped a 30day suspension on all 228 units of the GV Florida Transport after discovering that the license plate

of the ill-fated public utility vehicle belonged to a bus owned by another company, theMountain Province Cable Tours (MPCT). An initial LTFRB investigation found that theMPCT franchise and its buses were sold to GV Florida Transport in September last year. Driver Edgar Renon, who survived the crash, and the owners of the firm, have been charged with reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries. The charges were based on affidavits of survivors and witnesses who said the bus was speeding on the sloping highway before it fell into the ravine. ■

Philippine News


Palace eyes road tax for safety programs BY MICHAEL LIM UBAC Philippine Daily Inquirer THE RASH of vehicular accidents has prompted the government to take a hard look at how the P12-billion road user’s tax, which is supposed to fund road safety, is being utilized. The total amount collected from car owners each year under the tax, known as the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC), comes to around P10 billion, according to Malacañang. President Aquino is taking a hands-on approach amid the increasing frequency of accidents involving public buses. “The President is meeting shortly with the Department of Transportation and Communications, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) to discuss an action plan for preventing accidents and enhancing safety in public transportation,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. The LTFRB canceled the franchise of Don Mariano Transport Corp. (DMTC) on Jan. 14 after the company’s

buses were involved in a string of accidents, including the Skyway crash that killed at least 20 on Dec. 16. The LTFRB is investigating another more recent accident involving a bus operated by GV Florida which fell into a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province, killing 15 passengers. Asked about the road user’s tax, Coloma forwarded a text message from Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson denying the rumors of possible abuse in the utilization of the fund. “It’s being used properly,” said Singson, but he added that the “focus” was now on “road maintenance and safety.” The Road Board, which administers the road user’s tax, is under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Tuesday the amount in road user’s tax collected last year from motor vehicle registration fees reached P11.7 billion. He urged the government to tap a portion of the P11.7 billion for road safety, saying road accidents were becoming a “national epidemic.” ■

Guingona: It’s a 3-pt shot Tuason says she delivered P8-10M in cash to Estrada BY NORMAN BORDADORA AND TJ BURGONIO Philippine Daily Inquirer SEN. TEOFISTO Guingona III compared her testimony to a “three point shot that wasn’t only a buzzer-beater but also a winning shot” in the game of basketball. Guingona, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said it was the first time that a witness directly testified kickback money was given to a senator. “That is very, very essential,” he said. Ruby Tuason, 62, a former Malacañang social secretary, yesterday told Guingona’s committee how she delivered to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s office in a wheeled luggage P8 million to P10 million in kickbacks from an alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam engineered by businesswoman Janet LimNapoles. On questioning by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Tuason said Estrada was in his sixth-floor office in the Senate building when she made the payoff, upon instruction by Napoles, sometime in 2008. She said she made cash deliveries to Estrada’s office at least twice and at other times, to his Greenhills residence in San Juan City. “I don’t exactly remember how much but if it’s that kind of bag, I would presume it could be something like 10 million [pesos]. Perhaps, 8 to 10 (million pesos),” Tuason said, testifying a week after her return from the United States where she had fled after the scandal broke out six months ago. Tuason, who is facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged Napoles racket and has applied to become a state witness, said there were also times that she would give smaller payoffs, P1 million for instance, to Estrada. “That would fit in my bag. Because I carry a huge bag,” Tuason said. She mentioned that there was a time she gave money to Estrada at the Zirkoh comedy bar in Greenhills. She said Napoles and her husband Jaime witnessed the turnover. Aside from details already

Guingona, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said it was the first time that a witness directly testified kickback money was given to a senator. PHOTO FROM NEWSHOPPER.SULEKHA.COM

mentioned in her sworn statement submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Tuason said Estrada himself and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, offered millions of pesos in public funds for Napoles’ network of dubious nongovernment organizations (NGOs). The NGOs were allegedly used to channel allocations from the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) aimed at alleviating rural poverty to ghost projects and kickbacks. The racket was exposed by Benhur Luy, a former Napoles employee. Recounting accounts of the transactions detailed in her 15page sworn statement, Tuason said she was met by a member of Estrada’s staff at the Senate’s basement parking area and accompanied to the elevator and Estrada’s office on the building’s top floor. Tuason identified the man as Alfredo de los Reyes after she was shown pictures of Estrada’s staff during the hearing. “Then I went to the office of Senator Estrada. I placed it in his private room, beside his chair,” Tuason said. Payoff to Enrile aide

“Was Estrada there?” Trillanes asked. “Yeah. There was a time when he wasn’t there because he was in session. I just waited for him.

But usually he’s there,” Tuason replied. She said Estrada knew whenever she would deliver the kickbacks because she would call him. “I would tell him, I’m coming over to bring it. Then I will bring it and leave it with him.” She said she also would tell Estrada how much money was in the bag. “I just tell him. There, for instance, is eight million,” Tuason said. As to cash deliveries to Reyes, Tuason said she would meet Enrile’s senior aide in posh Makati and Taguig restaurants—Tsukiji, Gourmand, L’Opera and Mamou. “Let’s say, for example, I have the bag. I will come down from the car to go to the restaurant and if her driver is there, I will just give the bag to her driver,” Tuason said. Tuason said she would then tell Reyes how much was delivered. She said she would also give a piece of paper from Benhur Luy and the JLN group about how much money Reyes would receive. Asked how she told Reyes that she was going to give her money from Napoles, Tuason said, “She knows that the reason why we were going to see each other was because I was going to hand her money.” Inkling of payoff

Trillanes asked Tuason if she ❱❱ PAGE 13 Guingona: It’s

Philippine News


‘Give us back our roads’ SC petitioners fed up with traffic jams, air and noise pollution BY MARICAR B. BRIZUELA, AND CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, PHILIPPINES—A group of Filipinos, including children and students, on Monday asked the Supreme Court to compel the government to implement a road-sharing scheme, saying that practically all the roads in the country are given to just less than 2 percent of the population that owns motor vehicles. “The 98 percent of Filipinos are not even given proper space for them to walk or bike,” the group said. It is demanding that half of the roads be set aside for nonmotorized transportation, safe and covered sidewalks, edible gardens and all-weather bike lanes, and the other half for an organized transport system. Valerie Cruz, one of the convenors of the Share the Road Movement, said the group was also asking the high court to reduce the gas allowance of Cabinet officials and to require them to take public transport. Cruz said this was the only way for officials to understand the experience of a daily commuter taking public transport. Carless residents and car owners alike walked for 30 minutes from Rizal Park to the Supreme Court building in Manila to ask for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan. Others rode bikes. A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy for parties who believe that their “constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened with violation.” Its issuance leads to protection orders and mandates court hearings on environment and health matters. “All (petitioners) stand to be injured by respondents’ unlawful neglect of the principle that those who have less in wheels must have more in the road (road-sharing principle) as directed by law,” said the petition, which held as respondents several government agencies and President Aquino, chair of the Climate Change Commission. Four-year-old girl

Four-year-old Maria Paulina

Voiding RH law not what people want– Belmonte BY LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer

24 petitions were filed in various barangays from Luzon, Vizayas and Mindanao last 2013 by the Share the Road Movement. PHOTO FROM SHARE THE ROAD MOVEMENT FACEBOOK PAGE

Castañeda, a daughter of a participant in the “Walk for WoK (writ of kalikasan),” handed the copy of the petition to the docket section of the Supreme Court. Castañeda was assisted by 80-year-old Commissioner Elsie de Veyra of the Philippine Commission on Women, who said that she attended the event to represent the elderly. The petitioners asked the high court to require the government to implement certain environmental laws “to mitigate the ill effects of the crisis of climate change, reduce air pollution and improve air quality by adopting the road-sharing principle.” The environmental laws include Administrative Order No. 171, which created the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change; Executive Order No. 774, which reorganized the Presidential Task force on Climate Change; Administrative Order No. 254, which mandates the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to formulate a national environmentally sustainable transport for the Philippines; and Republic Act No. 9729, which established the framework strategy and program on climate change, and created the Climate Change Commission. The petitioners said the government had been building more and more roads to accommodate more and more private vehicles. “This car-centric transportation policy is the result of the Philippines trying to ape the transportation model of

Los Angeles, a model we see in American movies,” they said. They noted that the proliferation of private cars and vehicles has poisoned the air and that the government has failed to implement environment laws. Prayer

The petitioners asked the court to direct the DOTC, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of the Interior and Local Government to immediately implement the road-sharing principle by, among other ways: – Dividing all the roads by at least one half, lengthwise. Onehalf of the road shall be used for all-weather sidewalks and bicycle lanes as well as for urban edible gardens pursuant to Section 12b of Executive Order No. 774. The other half of the road space may be used for motorized vehicles, preferably for safe, efficient, convenient and inexpensive collective or mass Filipino-made transportation systems. – For the Department of Budget and Management to make available funds for the roadsharing principle. – For the executive branch to reduce its fuel consumption by 50 percent starting from the date the case was filed, and for employees and officials to take public transportation for 50 percent of the time. Those who joined the Walk for WoK included some 80 law students from Ateneo de Ma❱❱ PAGE 39 ‘Give us’

A SUPREME Court decision to strike down the reproductive health (RH) law would go against what the people want, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte warned. Voiding the law, whose approval was won in a narrow Congress vote, would be a “veto against the will of the majority of our people,” Belmonte said. The Speaker of the House was reacting to talk the petitioners who challenged the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law in the high tribunal might just win their case. Congress approved the bill in December 2012 after a bitterly fought battle marked by namecalling and accusations of lobbying by both proponents and opponents. “While I fully respect the integrity, impartiality and independence of the Supreme Court, we must also consider that the passage of this law took 13 years and about four months. It was realized despite pressure from religious groups and other sectors who worked just as hard to raise their issues against the measure,” Belmonte said in a statement. He said the arguments raised against the law were well-ventilated during the congressional debates among the representatives. “Remember that we have 289 House members who are individuals representing a broad spectrum of society,” he said. “They are rep-

resentatives directly elected to articulate what majority of their constituents want. Therefore the resulting law was a product of this painstaking process and was a democratic compromise,” he said. The Speaker described the opinions of the RH law’s opponents as the “minority view,” since the measure was passed despite their opposition being taken up by the lawmakers. “We must therefore respect the desire of the majority which is to exercise their freedom of choice,” he said. He also disputed claims that the law promoted abortion, pointing out that the measure declared abortion illegal. “It is in fact a law that ends the paternalistic treatment of women and is supportive of their right to choose. It is a law that may even greatly reduce, if not eradicate, the tens of thousands of illegal abortions that are going on yearly in the country today, further endangering the lives of women and mercilessly killing their unborn children,” he said. Belmonte said Congress took all views into consideration when it voted on the measure, and it was its duty to safeguard the people’s legal rights. “The Constitution guarantees individuals in a democracy this legal right to choose for themselves, including how they perceive their roles as responsible parents and the methods they would choose to sustain their reproductive health,” he said. ■

Philippine News


Jinggoy Estrada... Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scandal that has sparked widespread public condemnation. All of them have denied wrongdoing. A former social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, Tuason testified before the blue ribbon committee that she delivered kickbacks to Senator Estrada in his Senate office, a comedy bar and in his home in Greenhills, San Juan City. The 62-year-old Tuason is also facing plunder charges. She went to the United States after the scandal broke out in July 2013 and returned on Feb. 7, saying she wanted to turn state witness because her conscience bothered her. She offered to return P40 million in commissions she said she received while working for Napoles. Estrada vehemently denied Tuason’s allegations, saying “Tita Ruby” delivered trays of sandwiches and not bags of peso bills. ❰❰ 8

‘I’ve been demonized’

On the floor on Monday, Estrada said Tuason’s testimony was “empty,” as he assailed Guingona for prejudging the hearing. “I’ve been demonized in the newspapers. We kept on hogging the headlines almost every day… that there was a new whistle-blower who was going to pin me down. But in truth and in fact, her testimony was empty,” he said.

“I don’t want to discuss the details… but I feel so hurt by the parting statements made by the chair of the blue ribbon committee. If he chooses that battle, I will give him that battle. No problem with me. We’re all colleagues here. But to prejudge me as guilty, I will not allow that. I will fight that. I have not committed any crime against the Filipino people,” he said. Former President Estrada, who is now Manila mayor, Enrile, Revilla and other opposition senators turned up in the younger Estrada’s office to celebrate his birthday. The elder Estrada wished that his son, Enrile and Revilla would “overcome” the scandal. “It’s a vicious cycle. They’re conditioning the minds of the people… that they’re guilty,” he told reporters in his son’s office, which was packed with guests. “That’s what they did to me when I was impeached.” The former President, who was toppled by a people’s revolt in 2001 over charges of corruption, incompetence and inefficiency, and later convicted of plunder, acknowledged that the controversy was affecting his son’s political plans. “Once he’s cleared, he’ll become more popular,” he said. ‘Stop persecution’ While the elder Estrada was under “house arrest” during his trial for plunder, Jinggoy and his mother, Luisa “Loi” Ejerci-

to, ran for and won seats in the Senate. After he was convicted, Joseph Estrada was pardoned by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Senator Estrada, for his part, aired this birthday wish: “Stop the persecution.” The senator admitted that he missed Tuason, the food coordinator in his 50th birthday party. “She used to be in charge of food. Now I had to do it myself,” Estrada said before playing host to reporters at lunch in the Senate press office. As social secretary to the elder Estrada, Tuason was in charge of state dinners in Malacañang and apparently also handled special family occasions. All those good, happy times between the Estradas and Tuason are over now. Days after flying home from the United States, Tuason took to the witness stand and said she delivered bags of money to Estrada as well as to Enrile’s chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, in restaurants. Enrile, for his part, challenged Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Antonio Trillanes IV to act as “private prosecutors” against him.

P30 million and ask what they intend to do with it,” Tuason said.

added. Tuason was the former social secretary of Estrada’s father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, when he was still in Malacañang. Jinggoy Estrada himself acknowledged that Tuason was a family friend. At one point, Trillanes said he found Tuason’s affidavit wanting and Sen. Miriam DefensorSantiago observed that the witness was “trying to tread on as few toes as possible.” “You’re a smart, sophisticated woman. You know more than this,” Trillanes said. The DOJ, he said, should get more information from her if she is to become a state witness.

Dare to Santiago, Trillanes

Santiago said Enrile’s presence in Tuason’s meetings with Reyes showed his complicity in the alleged crime while


Trillanes insinuated a “possible sabotage” of the case against Enrile resulting from Tuason’s testimony. Trillanes said he would produce documents showing the connection between Tuason’s lawyer, Dennis Manalo, and Enrile. Manalo said he was no longer connected with the Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako law firm in which Enrile was a partner. Enrile said he severed his ties with the firm in 1965. “I wish that they would appear as private prosecutors,”

Enrile, who turned 90 on Feb. 14, said, referring to his colleagues who were linking him to the scam. “We will welcome them as witnesses or private prosecutors.” The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) in a statement on Monday called on Estrada to resign. Dante Jimenez, VACC president, said: “It was very clear in Ms. Tuason’s testimony that she delivered millions of pesos in kickbacks to his Senate office and his residence in San Juan.” ■

son a “perfect witness” for the prosecution. Santiago suggested a reason for Tuason’s hesitation: Her friend Alice Eduardo was Enrile’s business partner in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza). “Senator Enrile is using a common friend for his scam in the Ceza. She and Alice Eduardo are close friends, and she didn’t want to embarrass her friend,” she later told reporters. Eduardo, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction & Development Corp. who has close ties to Reyes, had been awarded the contract for the 1,000-meter, P5.1-billion breakwater project under the Port Irene rehabilitation and development program.

Eduardo is president of Sta. Fe Builders Dredging & Equipment Corp., whose chair, Neal Jose O. Gonzales, is the brother of Reyes. But the mere fact that Enrile would pick up Reyes during her meetings with Tuason showed he was “complicit in the conspiracy,” Santiago said. Otherwise, Santiago said Tuason was an “eyewitness” to the scam, and met all the requirements to be a state witness. Tuason’s testimony, she said, was “sufficient” to convict the key players in the scandal beyond reasonable doubt. “Here we have a person who personally dealt with some of the accused here, particularly the senators involved,” she said. If at all, she said Tuason was a mere “gofer.” ■

Guingona: It’s... believed Enrile knew Reyes was collecting kickbacks from the senator’s PDAF disbursements. “He never even mentioned the word PDAF to me,” Tuason said. “Considering how many these transactions were, maybe he had an inkling.” Pressed for a categorical answer, she said, “I can only presume that he knows.” Trillanes told Tuason that the public was watching if she would cover up for anybody after she decided to become a state witness and come under the DOJ’s witness protection program. She said she only entered the deals “at the start and at the end and when there were payments to be made.” “So, when they tell me that they have P30 million, I call Benhur to tell him they have ❰❰ 11

Smart woman

Asked by Trillanes who in Estrada’s and Enrile’s offices called her to inform her of the availability of funds for conversion into fat kickbacks by Napoles’ NGOs, Tuason said, “In the office of Senator Enrile it was Attorney Gigi and or sometimes it was... Mr. Evangelista.” Tuason was referring to Jose Antonio Evangelista, the deputy chief of staff in Enrile’s office. Evangelista, along with Enrile, Estrada and Reyes, was in the first batch of those named in the plunder complaint. “In the office of Senator Estrada it was Senator Estrada. We’re rather close,” Tuason

A mere ‘gofer’

Even so, Santiago called

Philippine News


Aklan solon linked to fake Saro syndicate BY CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA Philippine Daily Inquirer

awarded the project and get paid upon the issuance of the NCA. Operations in Congress

AKLAN REP. Teodorico Haresco Jr., the driver of Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and three others were behind the fake special allotment release order (Saro) scam, according to the National Bureau of Investigation, which recommended the filing of criminal charges against them. A Saro is a document issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that allows the release of lump-sum funds, such as those from a senator’s or a congressman’s pork barrel, officially known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The release of a Saro paves the way for the issuance of a notice of cash allocation (NCA), which in turn triggers the release of the funds. (The Supreme Court declared the PDAF unconstitutional last December.) Relampagos, who was also investigated by the NBI for possible involvement in the fake Saro scam, was not among those recommended to be charged in the NBI’s Jan. 29 report to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. The report was released to the media. De Lima said there was “no evidence or sufficient evidence yet” against Relampagos. Syndicate in DBM

“That’s why the (NBI) team also recommends further investigation with the end view of identifying others who may be part of a well-entrenched syndicate engaged in Saro peddling and similar insidious schemes,” the justice secretary said in a text message to reporters. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad vowed to “take appropriate action” against his personnel implicated in the case. But Abad said his agency would first “need to thoroughly review the [NBI] report and determine the culpability/extent of involvement of DBM personnel in the so-called Saro scam.” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the NBI findings were “part of our continuing effort to curb corruption and establish higher standards of public accountability.”

The National Bureau of Investigation recommends the filing of criminal charges against Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr., the driver of Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and three others who were allegedly behind the fake special allotment release order scam. PHOTO FROM INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

“Those who persist in carrying out decadent practices in the bureaucracy are served notice to shape up or ship out,” he told reporters.

which were peddled to certain congressional staff members. The probe was conducted at the request of the DBM. Falsification

Findings challenged

Haresco challenged the NBI findings that he was criminally liable for a fake Saro, saying that he or his office has no capability to produce such a document and that he would have no use for a bogus order anyway. He said he was “flabbergasted” by the NBI’s findings, especially since his staff had acted as complainants in the NBI in connection with the spurious documents. Haresco said the NBI should reinvestigate the matter even as he disclosed that he had received another Saro last month which concerned the same project covered by the fake Saro, although this time, the latest document was confirmed to be original. “I’m asking the NBI to reinvestigate because how can it be that my office can be an originator of fake Saros when we have no capability at all. We don’t know how the Saro document [is produced]. We have an idea but we don’t know the code number, the signatories, the serial number or bar code,” Haresco said in a press briefing. He said a fake Saro would serve no purpose for him. “What will it benefit me if I have an advance notice? What will I get out of it except to announce [it] prior to the construction of the project?” De Lima said the NBI report focused on the agency’s investigation of two fake Saros for Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and Region 6 (Eastern Visayas),

Besides Haresco, recommended to be charged in the Department of Justice were Emmanuel Raza, a staff member of Zamboanga City Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuno; Elvie Rafael, driver of Relampagos; Bhernie Beltran, an alleged DBM employee; and Mary Ann Castillo, a consultant of Haresco. Except for Castillo, the rest were recommended to be charged with falsification of public documents. Castillo was recommended to be charged with obstruction of justice. Raza, Rafael and Beltran were also recommended to be charged with violation of the Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. Rafael was recommended to be administratively charged with grave misconduct. Modus operandi

The Saro gang’s modus operandi is to photocopy advance copies of the Saros and turn them over to their contacts in the congressional offices where signatures are superimposed to make the documents appear genuine. The congressional contact then shows the copy of the Saro to the local executive where the project is located. The local executive then shows the fake Saro to a contractor who will then advance at least 20 percent of the project cost. The contractor will then be

In the course of its investigation, the NBI unearthed the involvement of a “well-entrenched syndicate” within the DBM, the operations of which extend to the halls of Congress, De Lima said. “(S)ome DBM employees, who requested anonymity, hinted [at] the involvement of some other employees and a highranking official in Saro peddling,” she quoted the report as saying. “Hence, further and deeper investigation is warranted,” the justice secretary said. The NBI investigated Relampagos after a janitor and a driver in his office were said to be members of the Saro gang. The investigation covered Saros issued in Cagayan Valley worth P161 million and in Western Visayas worth P77 million. Farm-to-market projects

When the scam was uncovered in October last year, the DBM quickly canceled 12 Saros covering P875 million worth of farm-to-market projects, the funds forwhich had yet to be released. The Saros also had not been signed by the authorized signatory, then Assistant Secretary Luz Cantor. The NBI report said that according to Relampagos’ affidavit, the budget undersecretary did not recommend the request for the release of funds on the farm-to-market-roads of the Department of Agriculture in October last year because it lacked a network plan. But copies of unreleased and unsigned Saros for the farm-tomarket road projects surfaced in mid-October last year when inquiries into these were made at the DA regional field office in Tuguegarao City. Raza was implicated after it was found out that he had given a copy of a fake Saro and its attachments to a staff member of Rep. Aline Vargas-Alonso. Raza told probers he had gotten a folder containing a photocopy of the listing of farmtomarket road projects from Rafael, a Relampagos driver, and Beltran, a DBM employee. Both men offered no evidence to refute Raza’s claims.

Haresco letter

Haresco was implicated because he sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Oct. 21, 2013, to which a Saro that was determined to be fake was attached. The document was among a series of Saro that the DBM had canceled. Because of this, the NBI team said that “the legal presumption that the person who presented a falsified document is deemed to be the author, if he stands to benefit there from arises.” “The requirement of gain or benefit was satisfied because Cong[ ressman] Haresco Jr., would surely take the credit if the project mentioned in the Saro would be implemented considering that his district was its beneficiary,” the report said. Haresco consultant

It was discovered that the fake Saro was endorsed by Haresco’s consultant, Castillo, who claimed it came from someone she was not familiar with. But investigators said Castillo had hesitated to provide more information about the person who gave the fake Saro to her. She left her job after her contract ended last Dec. 31. She gave a notarized affidavit instead of being interviewed by the NBI. All this prompted the NBI team to conclude that she did not want to identify the source of the Saro and to cooperate with the probers. The NBI team said the premature disclosure and/or unauthorized release of the Saro was due to a lack of internal control system in the DBM. This lack of control led to the printing of Saros despite deficiency in the documentary requirements, especially the network plan; improper handling of documents; and improper use of non-DBM employees in the delivery of documents. Because of the scam, the DBM announced in early January the scrapping of the Saro system. Abad said departments and agencies would no longer need to get Saros to obligate funds because the General Appropriations Act had become the government’s “official budget release document.” ■

Philippine News


Over 3 days, thousands of US volunteers pack 2 million meals for hungry children overseas BY MIKE HOUSEHOLDER The Associated Press NOVI, MICH.—They came from all walks of life—Girl Scouts troops, National Guard units, financial planning offices—to spend three days packing food for thousands of hungry children they’ll never meet. The 2 Million Meals effort, the brainchild of a Detroit-area pastor, concluded Sunday. The results: 8,810 volunteers put together 2,029,536 meals to be shipped to El Salvador, Haiti and the Philippines. The mixtures of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and 21 vitamins and minerals will provide one meal a day for a year to 5,560 children. “The truth is, this has been an amazing experience because of the impact it’s going to cause in the lives of every child and every person who’s going to eat these meals,” Brad Powell, who heads up NorthRidge Church, said shortly after the 2 millionth meal was packed Sunday afternoon. “But I think you can see from the energy in this room and all that’s going on it’s going to change more than just the lives of those who will eat this food.” Powell led an effort three years ago in which 5,000 volunteers packed 1 million meals over the same time period at an area middle school. Convinced more could and should be done, Powell dreamed of doubling that effort. That vision became a reality on Sunday, when the magic completed number was displayed on an oversized video display. Volunteers, who worked 11 sets of two-hour shifts from Friday to Sunday, cheered and danced as Gary Glitter’s sports-arena anthem “Rock & Roll, Part 2” filled the Suburban Collection Showplace, a convention centre in Novi, which donated 65,000 square feet (6,000 sq. meters) of space. Also on board was Feed My Starving Children, a Minnesota non-profit that sends volunteer-packed meals across

the globe. NorthRidge members paid for the meals themselves, raising $440,000 mostly through Christmas offerings at the church, which is one of the largest in the U.S. The nondenominational Christian church, which has its main campus in Plymouth Township as well as two satellite locations e l s e where in Michig a n , draws an average of 9,600 worshippers each weekend. Packing stations such as Jenna’s cheered when they reached a certain number of meals. The hooting and hollering could be heard, barely, over the nonstop barrage of music—an eclectic mix of Christian rock, Motown, modern pop and more. Occasionally, organizers gave the volunteers a much-needed break. On Sunday, the volunteers dropped their tape, scissors, labels and ladles and broke into the “Cupid Shuffle” dance en masse. Gabe Solak, a 12-year-old from Ypsilanti, said he was drawn by the chance to do something for someone else. “I heard about all these kids who were starving and are hungry, and I wanted to help them,” he said. “I’m very compassionate.” Sgt. Stacy Price, 43, worked alongside a handful of his fellow soldiers from a nearby Army National Guard unit, which saw 2 Million Meals as both a chance to give back as well as a valuable team-building exercise. Price, though, said it was simply an enjoyable experience. “I got to meet some amazing people here. Hopefully, I’ve met some more friends,” said the fatigues-clad Price, who posed for more than a few pictures with other volunteers. “The experience was great. The people were very upbeat. Everyone was smiling and having a good time.” ■

Remittances hit... OFWs remains supportive of economic activity, with cash remittances accounting for 8.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2013,” the BSP said in a statement. Cash remittances in December rose by 9.1 percent year-on-year to a record $2.2 billion. This brought the full-year figure to $22.8 billion—also the highest on record for any 12-month period— representing an increase of 6.4 percent from the previous year. The expansion in 2013 was better than the 5-percent growth projected by the BSP at the start of the year. These cash transfers from OFWs are the biggest source of foreign exchange for the country, ensuring the ample supply of dollars and other currencies that the economy needs for doing business with the rest of the world. Remittances are also the major driver of domestic consumption, which makes up about two-thirds of GDP. The country’s economy as measured by GDP grew by 7.2 percent in 2013, beating government estimates and the second highest in Asia after China’s. Late last year, BSP officials said remittances would grow more than expected ❰❰ 1

as OFWs with families in areas affected by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” send more money to finance the reconstruction of homes. In its statement, the BSP boasted that more than three-fourths or 77.1 percent of all remittances in December came from land-based workers with contracts of one year or more—an indication of the sustainability of the flows. Cash transfers from sea-based workers rose at a faster rate of 7.9 percent versus 6 percent for land-based OFWs. The major sources of remittances were the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom , United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Canada and Japan. Apart from the sustained demand for Filipino labor, the BSP said the ever-expanding global presence of local banks and other financial institutions through the establishment of new offices or tieups with foreign partners has made it easier for OFWs to send money home safely. As of end-December, commercial banks’ tie-ups, remittance centers and correspondent bank branches and representative offices in other countries stood at 4,740 locations. ■




Post-Valentine, of sorts By Conrado De Quiros Philippine Daily Inquirer THIS COUNTRY is home to sublime ironies, and none comes more sublime than the fall of Juan Ponce Enrile. Only a year and a half ago, he was at the height of his powers and popularity. He had just presided over the impeachment trial of Renato Corona and had done so masterfully, unfurling his lawyerly skills for all the world to see. Armed with that triumph, he unfurled as well his recollection of his life and times for all the world to cringe. Insisting among others that his waylaying at Wack-Wack, which triggered martial law, was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. God did not. His unraveling was as swift as his raveling. A year and a half later, he had lost his commanding heights and was looking at the world from the bottom of the abyss. He was one of three senators charged with conspiring with Janet Napoles to defraud the public big-time, and the senators he had pissed off during his heyday were determined to see him bite the dust. They had their knives unsheathed last Thursday, and two of them in particular, Antonio Trillanes and Miriam Defensor-Santiago,

brandished newly sharpened ones. They were unhappy with the way Ruby Tuason had dealt with him. “She was rather clear in the part about Sen. Jinggoy Estrada,” lamented Trillanes. “But when it came to the part about Senator Enrile, she suddenly became forgetful. It was as if she wasn’t interested.” Santiago echoed the sentiment suggesting that Tuason knew more than what she told about Enrile. Their complaint drew from the fact that Tuason had testified only about dealing with the keeper of Enrile’s house and heart, Gigi Reyes, and not with Enrile himself. When they asked whether she knew if Enrile gave her his blessings and profited from the transactions, Tuason said no. She left it to the senators to draw their own conclusions. That left Trillanes and Santiago instead unsatisfied and demanding she say more. But why on earth should she, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima asked? In fact, De Lima went on, that was what made Tuason’s testimony rock-solid, she spoke only about things she knew. The natural assumption that Reyes was merely Enrile’s alter ego, to say the least, might be acceptable in the court of public opinion, but it was not in a court of law. In a court of law, that will not be taken as proof, that will be taken as perjury.

But—and here’s the part that makes this a sublime irony, and a post-Valentine story of sorts—I don’t know that Tuason has really done Enrile a world of favor by pinning down only Reyes with her testimony. I don’t know that she hasn’t in fact twisted the knife after plunging it into his, well, heart. Look at the wonder of it: Here is a man who, now about to embark on his 10th decade on earth, has managed to survive pretty much every

The guy looked invincible. He had no known vulnerabilities, not conscience, not scruples, not compunction. adversity, springing back from them with the ease of a jack-in-the-box. Among them his ( junior) partnership with Marcos, a partnership he cemented with his aforesaid ambush at Wack Wack, whose authenticity he has always been of two minds about. Among them as well his thwarted attempts to oust Cory by various coups, seeing his comrades jailed for their pains and for his ambitions (he himself escaped the fate), but rising back again to recover fame and fortune.

The guy looked invincible. He had no known vulnerabilities, not conscience, not scruples, not compunction. Even when he went on a downhill slide soon after launching his book—he was accused of giving his favorite senators millions in taxpayer money in the form of Christmas bonuses, he was accused of turning the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport into a smuggler’s paradise, his son lost in the elections after WikiLeaks reminded the world of his murder case—he seemed battered but unbowed. Indeed, even after being tagged as one of the senators in cahoots with Napoles, he looked headed to shrug it off all over again. Except, this time, for one thing. Ruby Tuason has given direct evidence not about him but about Gigi Reyes. Ruby Tuason has unfurled the specter of jail not on him but on Gigi Reyes. I remember again that scene in “Casablanca” where Humphrey Bogart tells Claude Rains, “This gun is pointed right at your heart,” to which Rains replies: “That is my least vulnerable spot.” As it turns out with Enrile, in his twilight years that is his most. Contrary to Trillanes’ and Santiago’s interpretation that Tuason has spared Enrile, she has in fact put him in a bind. True enough, Tuason has given him a loophole. She hasn’t named him di-

rectly as a party to the transactions. Of course she knows how to add two and two together, as Trillanes and Santiago bid her do in front of them, but the law forbids her from doing so. She does not know it for a fact, she knows it only for an assumption. Legally—and Enrile, like Marcos, has always found in the legal the most formidable protection, apart from the most lethal weapon— Enrile can always say he had nothing to do with Reyes’ doings. Legally, he can always say what Reyes did is her own lookout. Legally, he can always hang her out to dry. Or he can bail her out and, at risk of his own wellbeing, and freedom, admit freely that all Reyes has done she has done for him. It won’t do to just try to discredit Tuason by calling her a liar to her face, his capacity to call anyone a liar, like Jinggoy’s, particularly after his autobiography, not being there, never mind Tuason’s own credibility. So, what’s it going to be? Will he be playing a role in the movie, “Hanggang Dito Na Lamang at Maraming Salamat,” or “Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan”? Will he be singing the line from Frank Sinatra’s song, “It’s Over,” “The loving was easy, it’s the living that’s hard”? Or the song from “Chorus Line,” “What I Did For Love”? ■


Promote alternative means of transportation By Randy David Philippine Daily Inquirer WE ARE glad to read in Sunday’s Inquirer that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will revive the Pasig River ferry as suggested in a recent column. As it will supply a new fleet of boats, the MMDA should make sure that the cabins are closed and airconditioned so that passengers will not smell the stink of the river. It was this stink that, in the past, discouraged commuters from taking the ferry. So the new boats should be shallow draft so that they will not touch the bottom of the now shallow Pasig River. I rode many times in such a type of ferryboats at the Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Maybe MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino can send somebody, or go there himself, to take a look. Another factor that discouraged commuters from taking the ferry was the long wait at the river terminals, so there should be enough boats for more frequent trips. While the boat trip itself was short, the long wait at the terminals made the passengers lose precious time. The ferry won’t make much money at first—maybe even lose some—but the number of passengers will increase as commuters discover the fast, com-

fortable, cool trip up and down the Pasig River a much better alternative to riding in crowded buses and jeepneys crawling through traffic jams on land. For added comfort, the ferry can sell soft drinks and snacks on board. On weekends, the ferry may extend its service to the lakeshore towns around Laguna Lake for holiday trippers. Better access to them will hasten the development of the lakeshore towns which are isolated most of the time in spite of their closeness to Metro Manila. Restaurants serving fish caught in the lake and other Rizal-Laguna delicacies will sprout. Soon souvenir shops selling, for instance, woodcarvings from Paete and lanzones during the lanzones season will follow. Los Baños has its famous buko pie and fresh carabao milk. We used to drive around the lakeshore towns of Rizal to visit the old churches and eat kanduli, hito, plapla, and “usa” and “baboy damo”—although I know that hardly any deer or wild pigs can now be caught in the surrounding hills. What they are serving now are probably beef and pork from native black pigs. But no matter, the trips will still be enjoyable because of the beautiful, rustic countryside. That’s another thing: Metro Manilans, trapped in the concrete jun-

gle, long for the rustic countryside with the open space, wide fields, and bamboo-and-nipa houses. But they are fast disappearing in the BulacanPampanga towns and in the LagunaCavite-Batangas towns traversed by the NLEx and SLEx, respectively. You see the fields as you speed along the highways, but you can’t get down there. When you stop in the towns, you are met by a concrete jungle similar to the one you fled from. We also used to ride the ManilaCavite ferry—when it was still operat-

“...[B]ut the number of passengers will increase as commuters discover the fast, comfortable, cool trip up and down the Pasig River a much better alternative to riding in crowded buses and jeepneys...” ing—in the late afternoon or early evening just to savor fresh sea breeze while having ice-cold beer on board, and to look around Cavite City. We would take the same ferry on its trip back to Manila. That ferry also ceased operations because of financial losses. But the government should revive and subsidize it because it would take a big load off the crowded Manila-Cavite

highway—at least until MRT 3 is completed and goes operational. In fact, traffic congestion to and from the towns along Manila Bay would ease if there were ferry services to these towns. For the same reason, traffic on MacArthur Highway would lessen if ferry services were made available to transport passengers between Bulacan-Pampanga and Metro Manila. Our old folk used the river and the sea to ship cargo and people from these provinces to Manila and its suburbs. Flat-bottomed boats called “casco” were poled down the river with loads of rice, salt, nipa shingles, bamboo and other products. Residents of river towns waited on the riverbanks to buy the goods from them. We should continue to use our waterways to ease the traffic load on our few and narrow roads. We are an archipelago and we should use the water highways which need no periodic repairs like the streets. What’s more, because the sea is so big, there would be no traffic congestion on it as happens on land. For this reason, the government should encourage a boatbuildingand-repairing industry. Most of the boats we have now are small they could easily sink in rough seas. Provide boat builders with the knowhow

and capital to build bigger boats. Together with the ferryboats, we should increase the number of commuter trains around Metro Manila and suburbs. Let the Philippine National Railways earn more so it can improve the Luzon train system. In other countries, the railroad is the most important and cheapest means of transportation. We have neglected our railroad because we were seduced by the American car manufacturers to put our money in motor vehicles. Now we are reaping the whirlwind of that mistake. Until the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal, the railroad operated efficiently from San Fernando, La Union, in the north to Legazpi, Albay, in the south. The Bicol Express, which took you in first-class coaches overnight from Manila to Legazpi, was famous then. When you woke up in the morning, Mayon Volcano greeted you through the train windows. The trip to Pangasinan, Baguio and the Ilocos provinces was also fast and pleasant on board the train. It stopped at Damortis, La Union, where firstclass buses were waiting to take passengers up Kennon Road to Baguio. Now a car trip to Baguio takes at least five hours (it took only four hours or less in the old days). After you leave NLEx, the traffic jams begin. ■




Clones? By Juan L. Mercado Philippine Daily Inquirer “DON’T CRY For Me Argentina” is a song from a 1978 Broadway musical. Evita Peron sang this from the Casa Rosada balcony, expressing regrets and defiance. “No llores por mi Argentina/ The truth is I never left you / All through my wild days / My mad existence/ I kept my promise….” Few remember that the Marcos dictatorship banned that song. Officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines were told the play “Evita” was verboten. Uneasy censors thought Imelda Marcos’ life cloned that of Evita. “The parable of Argentina offers lessons for many governments,” The Economist said this week. “A country of the future got stuck in the past… The country’s 100 years of decline taught that good government matters.” Has this lesson been learned? Yet, “a century ago, Argentina stood out as the country of the future.” Its GDP per head was higher than that of Germany. The country had fertile land and benign climate. It introduced universal male suffrage in 1912—ahead of the Philippines in 1935. “(It also had) an educated population and the world’s most erotic dance. Immigrants tangoed in from everywhere….”

Now, the country is a wreck. Argentina is at the center of an emergingmarket crisis—again. “President Cristina Fernandez is merely the latest in a succession of economically illiterate populists, stretching back to Juan and Eva (Evita) Peron, and before.” Forget about competing with the Germans. The Chileans and Uruguayans, whom Argentines looked down on, are now richer. Children from Brazil and Mexico do better in international education tests. (In the early 1970s, the Philippines was second only to Japan in economic performance. By the time the Marcoses scrammed to escape People Power crowds, the country had been gutted to Asean’s pauper status.) “The danger today is not totalitarianism,” The Economist wrote: “If Indonesia were to boil over, its citizens would hardly turn to North Korea as a model.” (Hear that, National Democratic Front’s Joma Sison and Luis Jalandoni? From the bourgeois comfort of Holland, they threaten to wage people’s war here.) So, where is the danger? That of “inadvertently becoming the Argentina of the 21st century. Slipping casually into steady decline is not hard. Weak institutions, nativist politicians, lazy dependence on a few assets and a persistent refusal to con-

front reality will do the trick.” The economic crunch of the early 2000s left Argentines permanently suspicious of liberal reform. But its “decline has been largely self-inflicted. The Perons built a closed economy that protected its inefficient industries that Chile’s generals opened up in the 1970s and pulled ahead. Argentina’s protectionism undermined Mercosur, the local trade pact.” Fernandez’s government does not just impose tariffs

Few remember that the Marcos dictatorship banned that song. Officials of the CCP were told the play “Evita” was verboten. Uneasy censors thought Imelda Marcos’ life cloned that of Evita. on imports. It shoots itself in the foot— by taxing farm exports. Argentina did not build institutions to protect its democracy from the army, (Remember our Rolex 12? Juan Ponce Enrile, Eduardo Cojuangco, plus 10 generals, got Rolexes from the dictator for imposing martial law.) So, Argentina became prone to coups. Unlike Australia, Argentina did not develop strong political parties determined to build and share wealth. Its politics was captured by the Perons and

focused on personalities and influence. (Isn’t that a mirror image of the Philippines? In a study of the elites, over two decades, political scientist Dante Simbulan pinpointed 169 families. They’ve produced 584 public officials, including seven presidents, two vice presidents, 42 senators and 147 representatives.) Another clone: “Argentina’s Supreme Court has been repeatedly tampered with.” (Corazon Aquino fired the Marcos Supreme Court after assuming office through People Power in 1986—except for Claudio Teehankee who was the lone independent voice. He was to become chief justice.) Political interference destroyed the credibility of Argentina’s statistical office. Graft is endemic. Argentina ranks a shoddy 106th in Transparency International’s corruption index. (The Philippines improved its score in Transparency International’s Index 2013, which ranked 177 countries from “highly corrupt” to “very clean.” We came in 94, up from last year’s 105th. We lagged behind Singapore [5th] but was ahead of Cambodia [160th]. The country was bracketed with Algeria, Colombia and India.) “Building institutions is a dull, slow business.” But Argentine leaders preferred the quick fix—of charismatic leaders, miracle tariffs and currency

pegs, rather than, say, a thorough reform of the country’s schools. “Argentina’s decline has been seductively gradual.” It didn’t reel from dictators as monumental as Mao or Stalin. In the downward spiral, Buenos Aires cafés continued to serve espressos and medialunas. That makes this especially dangerous. The bigger threat festers in the emerging world, The Economist asserted. Uninterrupted progress to prosperity takes the sheen of bogus inevitability. Too many countries surge forward on commodity exports, but neglect their institutions. Their weaknesses could be exposed just as Argentina’s was. Populism stalks many emerging countries; constitutions are being stretched. Overreliant on oil and gas, many are ruled by kleptocrats strapped with a dangerously high self-regard. In Turkey, the autocratic Recep Tayyip Erdogan blends Evita with Islam. In too many parts of emerging Asia, crony capitalism remains the order of the day. “Inequality is feeding the same anger that produced the Perons.” Would Imelda sing as Evita? “And as for fortune and as for fame / I never invited them in/ Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired/ They are illusions…” ■


‘Manay’ Gina’s wide network By Rina Jimenez-David Philippine Daily Inquirer “ONLY GINA could gather a crowd like this,” remarked former House Speaker and Gina’s hubby Joe de Venecia, observing that she had managed to gather in one place people (mostly women) from the disparate worlds of politics, show business, business, media and NGOs. Indeed, only “Manay” Gina, congresswoman from Pangasinan and president of the women legislators’ group, could have gathered around one table Imelda Marcos and Loi Ejercito, and on the next table Ballsy Aquino Cruz and Viel Aquino Dee, with Sen. Loren Legarda, Sen. Grace Poe and her mother Susan Roces, Regal Films matriarch “Mother” Lily Monteverde, and Tessie Sy Coson of the SM empire surrounding them. On one table, a group of Gina’s classmates from Assumption cheered her on, while in another were seated members of INA, or Ina na Naulila ng Anak, the NGO Gina founded with media personality Ali Sotto after the deaths of their children. We were witnessing around the function room at the Gloria Maris restaurant the fruits of Gina’s hard work and networking for many years, dating from her childhood as one of

the daughters of Doc Jose Perez of Sampaguita Films (“the world where I grew up in,” Gina would acknowledge), as the better half of congressman Joe and then president of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, and thence her coming into her own as she took over her husband’s congressional district and assumed responsibility heading the women’s caucus in the House. “You may have noticed that the great majority of my guests are women,” Manay Gina noted in her brief remarks. “And that is because it is women—aside from my family—who are my chief sources of strength and inspiration these days.” *** “Manong” Joe, still showing signs of pain as he recovers from a broken collarbone in an accident late last year, shared the “many reasons I love Gina.” First was her putting up, as head of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, a network of safe houses called “The Haven” for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. From one center in Muntinlupa, “The Haven” has since expanded to over 30 locations around the country, joined in time by “Havens” for street children and abandoned senior citizens. After losing their daughter KC in

a fire, Gina channeled her grief and pain into establishing INA, and setting up a counseling center for grieving parents inside the DSWD compound in Quezon City. But Manay Gina has built a network that consists not just of buildings and centers, but even more significant, an even wider network of friends built and maintained by unfailing consideration and caring. As one congresswoman remarked: “Manay Gina’s generosity is legend, she gives us souvenirs from her travels and even little items like shawls and food.”

“...[O]nly “Manay” Gina...could have gathered around one table Imelda Marcos and Loi Ejercito, and on the next table Ballsy Aquino Cruz and Viel Aquino Dee...” And all these packaged with charm and sincerity. Gina may have learned the ropes of dealing with people from all walks of life from her producerfather who treated stars and bit players in his Sampaguita stable as family, along with production staffers, talents and fans. But perhaps it is not “lessons learned” that propel her, so much as DNA, as entertainment—and what is politics but another form of entertain-

ment—clearly runs in her blood? May the years be kind, Manay Gina, and may you expand your network of do-gooding even further in the future! *** Twenty years after the groundbreaking Cairo Conference on Population and Development in 1994, a conference where the term “sexual and reproductive health and rights” entered the lexicon, women have shown remarkable progress. In a New York Times commentary, Somini Sengupta observed that women have gained “greater control over their health and destiny, women worldwide have fewer children, are less likely to die of childbirth and have made great strides in literacy.” Based on a report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), these rosy findings, however, have a dark lining to them. In poor countries, and in poor communities in these countries “women’s status, maternal death, and child marriage,” the prevalence of which indicate continuing violations of women’s rights, remain high. “In poor countries,” observes Sengupta, “pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among young women ages 15 to 19. Women continue to be paid less and they are

more likely to work in jobs that are less secure and with fewer benefits.” *** Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA executive director, forwards an “obvious” solution: “Men have to change. They have to accept gender equality.” One worrying statistic is that worldwide, one in three women reported being physically or sexually abused. In Asia, a separate study found that nearly half of the 10,000 men interviewed reported using physical or sexual violence against a female partner, while a fourth of them said they had raped a woman or girl, with the vast majority saying they faced no prosecution. Concluded the report: “Progress has been unequal and fragmented.” And as Sengupta observed: “The changes may have come at a time when the world has prospered overall, though women in the poorest countries, along with poor women in some richer countries, have not seen their lives improve.” It seems obvious, then, that while gender disparities continue to haunt the lives of women in the poorest areas, it is still prosperity and a way out of poverty that will lift women out of their abject status and empower them to pursue better lives. ■





Rob Ford says he’s offended when people say he’s homophobic BY ALLISON JONES The Canadian Press TORONTO—Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said in a YouTube video released Tuesday that he’s offended by claims he’s homophobic, while his city councillor brother suggested people in the gay community are “bullies.” The brothers made the comments in the second instalment of their online “Ford Nation” show, consisting of a series of clips of varying lengths in which they slag fellow councillors and take one question. The query appears to have come via email from “Mary from Scarborough,” who is identified as the mother of a gay son. She referenced Ford’s stance against a rainbow flag at city hall and recent comments about not attending the annual pride parade. Ford read the question, in which “Mary” suggested Ford is homophobic and asked why people should vote for him if he doesn’t support all citizens. “I am not homophobic,” Ford said. “I’ll go to anyone’s house, anyone’s place to help them out. I take offence when people say that to me.” A rainbow flag—a long-standing symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and



transgender rights and pride—was raised at city hall earlier this month as the Sochi Winter Olympics began. Ford said he wanted it taken down. He was told the flag was flown as a gesture to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, but Ford said the Olympics are about patriotism, not “sexual preference.” “Our Canadian flag should be up there, not the pride flag,” Ford said in his YouTube show. But the rainbow flag did not replace a Canadian flag. It was put up on a “courtesy” flag pole which otherwise flies the City of Toronto flag.

Multiple flag poles around city hall fly the Canadian flag and the city flags at all times. Rob Ford then turned it over to his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, who suggested the gay community and its supporters are “bullies” to people who don’t attend the annual pride parade. The mayor had said in the past that he didn’t attend the annual pride parade because of a family tradition of spending the Canada Day long weekend at the cottage. But when asked earlier this month if he was planning ❱❱ PAGE 44 Rob Ford

Fed study says education can combat low public confidence in justice system BY DEAN BEEBY The Canadian Press OTTAWA—An internal Justice Department report says Canadians have little confidence in the courts and the prison system—and the best way to counter those perceptions is through education. Opposition critics argue that message is at odds with the Conservative justice agenda, which they say simply exploits public misunderstanding of justice issues by en-

acting tough-on-crime measures that can be harmful. The federal report summarizes a decade’s worth of opinion polls and research, some of it unpublished, that has consistently found high confidence in the police. But research shows Canadians also see the courts as too slow to deliver justice, and judges as handing out sentences that are too lenient. The research indicates the public believes victims are too often ignored in the justice system, and that prisons do a poor job of rehabilitat-

ing offenders. The study, prepared for a policing symposium last month in Ottawa, was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. “The public generally believes that sentences are too lenient and that the corrections system is not doing a great job of rehabilitating offenders,” says the 13-page report. Author Charlotte Fraser, a Justice Department employee, notes that Canadians’ generally low levels of ❱❱ PAGE 39 Fed study

OTTAWA—Four years after the federal government ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Canada has released its first report into how disabled Canadians are faring. The report, prepared collaboratively by Ottawa and the provinces and territories, says there are ongoing challenges for Canadians with disabilities, including barriers to language and communication, learning and training, and safety and security. FEDS ASK PUBLIC FOR INPUT ON PROSTITUTION LAW OTTAWA—The Conservative government wants to hear from Canadians about how to rewrite the country’s prostitution laws after those laws were struck down by the Supreme Court late last year.A month-long online consultation period on the Justice Canada website begins today and runs to March 17. ONTARIO LEGISLATURE RAISES RAINBOW FLAG TORONTO—With just five days to go until the end of the Sochi Olympics, the rainbow flag is finally flying at the Ontario legislature. The three elected parties all agreed on Feb. 10 to ask the Speaker for permission to fly the Pride flag, but it wasn’t granted until Tuesday, when the legislative session resumed. STANLEY CUP AT CANADA HOUSE CAUSES STIR SOCHI—The Stanley Cup made an appearance at Canada Olympic House on Monday and it didn’t sit well with one former Olympian. While athletes from several sports converged to see hockey’s most prized trophy, former Canadian skier Brian Stemmle tweeted his opposition to the event.

Canada News


Edmonton man charged with marriage scam, was to get $5,000 from bride: CBSA

B.C. transportation minister says balancing budget means tough ferries decisions

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press

EDMONTON—An Edmonton man has been charged with marriage fraud in what the Canada Border Services Agency says is a first in Alberta. The agency alleges 60-year-old Gilbert Leland Platts of Edmonton was to get money from his foreign bride for the phoney relationship. “It’s alleged that he entered into an agreement with this woman that she would pay him $5,000 to marry her and then she would be able to get a permanent residency status

in Canada,” spokesman Sean Best s a i d Tuesday.

“It’s alleged that he had already received a portion of that money and he would receive the other portion at the time she did receive her status in Canada.” The agency started investigating in April 2012 after receiving a tip about a possible

scam marriage. Best said he couldn’t reveal details about the woman, including which country she is from. The court charges list the woman as Venus Platts. The Immigration and Refugee Board said Venus Tandog Platts, a woman in her late 30s, received an exclusion order last May requiring her to leave Canada. Records show the Philippines native entered Canada as a worker in 2007 and married in 2010. Gilbert Platts is charged with misrepresentation and counselling misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. He faces a maximum fine of $100,000 or up to five years in prison. He is to appear in an Edmonton court on March 20. ■

VICTORIA— B.C.’S transportation minister is defending ferry-service cuts, particularly on minor and northern routes, saying the high cost of low ridership can’t be justified. Todd Stone told the legislature hours before the government delivered its budget that the Discovery Coast circle-tour route, which connects Port Hardy on Vancouver Island with several central coast communities, lost almost $7.5 million last year. He says the vessel servicing the summer-only route will need to be replaced within three years at a cost of more than $100 million. Stone says the three-month service for about 500 vehicles is not sustainable and balancing

the budget requires the government to make tough decisions. NDP transportation critic Claire Trevena says service adjustments effective April 28 mean it will take 33 hours instead of the current eight hours to make the trip, based on estimates from the business community, and that the reduced vessel size will accommodate only 16 vehicles at a time, down from 115 vehicles. But the Transportation Ministry says upcoming route adjustments mean it will take about 16.5 hours to travel the route, compared to the current 12 to 13 hours. New Democrat MLA Gary Holman says constituents are complaining that communities will become ghost towns, while Trevena says European tour operators are horrified about the cuts to the popular attraction. ■

World News

FEBRUARY 21, 2014


French official says 11 eurozone nations seek to propose financial transaction tax by May BY JUERGEN BAETZ The Associated Press BRUSSELS, BELGIUM—A group of 11 European countries is pushing ahead with the introduction of a tax on financial transactions and wants to present a plan by May, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said Tuesday. Officials started pushing for the tax in the wake of the 20089 financial crisis to curb speculation by investors and claw back revenues following the government bailouts of banks. While the idea is seductive for policymakers, its implementation has proved a headache and the nations involved—the bloc’s major economies except Britain—haven’t been able to reach an agreement for over a year. “We have to make progress,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said ahead of a meeting of the finance ministers from the 11 eurozone nations. He said the tax may have

to be introduced bit by bit, rather than as one package. The main difficulty is determining what financial products should be taxed and to what extent. It’s still unclear where shares, derivatives and other products would be taxed: In the country where they are issued, where they are bought, or both? EU nations estimate the levy could yield tens of billions of euros (dollars) annually.

Germany and France, the European Union’s largest economies, are strongly in favour of the levy, but Britain, which is home to the bloc’s biggest financial hub, London, is adamantly opposed, saying it will undermine the banks’ competitiveness. At a separate meeting in Brussels, the EU’s 28 finance ministers sought new ways to reach an agreement with Euro-

pean lawmakers on the timely creation of a body that can unwind or restructure ailing banks, the so-called single resolution mechanism. Ministers and the European Parliament are at odds on the authority’s structure and on how to ensure that its common backstop fund will be sufficient in times of crisis. It is set to be financed by a bank levy that would raise 50 billion

euros ($69 billion) by 2026, but there’s no agreement yet on what funds could be used if more were needed. “The easy answer on the question ‘will there be enough money?’ can be to allow ... the fund to borrow from markets,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Allowing for a borrowing capacity would require government guarantees, he added. But Germany’s Schaeuble rejected that idea, insisting the banks alone must be on the hook. “We have to make clear that the final bill is taken by the (financial) industry.” Time is tight, however. European lawmakers need to pass legislation creating the bank rescue body before the Parliament’s term expires in May, or the project will be delayed until 2015. The body would accompany a new centralized banking oversight that is part of the bloc’s planned wider banking union, the eurozone’s main effort to stabilize its financial system. ■

‘A diplomatic role’: 19 year old skier gets ready to become East Timor’s first Winter Olympian BY ANDREW DAMPF AND HOWARD FENDRICH The Associated Press KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA—”It all started,” East Timor’s first Winter Olympian says, “as a joke.” When Yohan Goncalves Goutt was 8 years old, on a skiing vacation in his native France, a family friend kiddingly told him that if he kept at it with the sport, one day he could make it to the Olympics. “It stuck in my head,” Goncalves Goutt says now, “and I wanted it to become a dream come true.” So here he is, at 19, preparing to compete as an Alpine skier in the Sochi Games, representing East Timor, where he founded the officially recognized ski federation. His race, the slalom, is Saturday night. He sees his role in Russia as

twofold: He’s an athlete, sure, but he’s also a sort of ambassador for East Timor, the impoverished southeast Asian nation that was a Portuguese colony, was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, and became a sovereign state in 2002 after the United Nations intervened. “In a way, I’m doing something for the Timorese. I’m helping out. I’m showing that Timor exists, and maybe some people will want to invest in Timor. And so that’s my sort of diplomatic role that I have here,” Goncalves Goutt said in an interview with The Associated Press after training Monday on a hill blanketed by thick fog. “In the future, I would like to go back to Timor if I get sponsors after Sochi ... to create sports centres. This is one of my aims, because I believe that in a country that needs to grow up, education is really important, but I think sports can re-

ally help a lot as well,” he said. “Today I’m sure that a lot of people know about Timor because of the flag that was at the (Sochi opening) ceremony, and they just it looked up on Google, maybe, and now they know.” Born in Paris—”Not really a ski area,” he says with a smile—to a French father, who is in the importexport business, and Timorese mother, who works full-time to help her skiing son, Goncalves Goutt carries both passports. “My mom gave me the Timorese language, culture, history. And my dad gave me this very French thing of going skiing in the winter,” he said. “I’m just so happy today I can combine both.” Goncalves Goutt prefers listing his dual last names with his mother’s first, because he is representing East Timor at the Olympics. He often gets asked why he didn’t try to compete for

France, instead. But Goncalves Goutt knows, first of all, how much more difficult it would have been to make that talented team, as opposed to being a team of one. “It never crossed my mind, because it’s a way of not losing the connection with my country. I have Timorese blood,” he said, rubbing his left arm, “and I want to keep that connection.” With daytime temperatures of about 85 degrees (30 Celsius) much of the year, East Timor is not exactly home to many skiers. The nation of more than 1 million people has been represented at the Summer Olympics; two finished marathons at the 2012 London Games, for example Goncalves Goutt, who trained Monday wearing a red, yellow, orange and black plaid ski suit, proudly points out that he qualified for the Sochi Olympics based on his skiing results.

While he’s never competed in a top-level World Cup race, he did finish 14th out of 43 entrants in a slalom in Iran last month. Goncalves Goutt needed to pull together a $75,000 budget to make his Olympic wish happen, and a lot of that money came out of his— and his family’s— own pockets. In addition to giving him a chance to meet skiers he has looked up to, including American star Bode Miller, it’s also allowed Goncalves Goutt to spread the word about his mother’s homeland. “Timor has a lot of suffering and a sad story. We can’t forget it,” he said. “But we have to move on and I hope that being in the Winter Olympic Games could make a nice story for Timor as well. And hopefully now, when people type ‘East Timor’ on Google, they won’t see all this war, all these bad things. Some positive light.” ■

World News


Congressional budget office: Minimum wage hike raises income for over 16.5M but cost 500K jobs BY ALAN FRAM The Associated Press WASHINGTON—Boosting the federal minimum wage as President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are proposing would increase earnings for more than 16.5 million people by 2016 but also cut employment by roughly 500,000 workers, Congress’ nonpartisan budget analyst said Tuesday. The report by the Congressional Budget Office was released as the Senate prepares to debate a Democratic proposal to gradually boost today’s $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016. The proposal is backed by Obama, but it faces strong Republican opposition and long odds of approval by Congress. The analysis immediately added fuel

to the partisan dispute over the proposal. It put authoritative weight behind long-time GOP claims that increasing the minimum wage would cost jobs by forcing companies to spend more on wages. “This report confirms what we’ve long known: While helping some, mandating higher wages has real costs, including fewer people working,” said Brendan Buck,

spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “With unemployment Americans’ top concern, our focus should be creating—not destroying—

jobs for those who need them most.” Democrats have said such claims are overblown and outweighed by the benefits to workers and the overall economy as low-paid employees spend more money. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, author of the Senate legislation, cited other research concluding that a higher minimum wage would create jobs, not reduce them. “And as the CBO report affirms, an increase in the minimum wage will help lift families out of poverty,” Harkin said. The report said as a result of the minimum wage increase, there would be 900,000 fewer people living below the federal poverty line.

The CBO study examined a proposal similar to Harkin’s and focused on the plan’s impact in late 2016, when it would take full effect. After 2016, Harkin’s bill would require the minimum wage to be increased annually to reflect rising inflation. The analysts said their estimate of employment losses was approximate. They said the actual impact could range from a very slight employment reduction to a loss of 1 million workers. The report said that besides boosting wages for people earning less than $10.10 hourly, some people making more than that amount would also see higher earnings as bosses adjust their pay scales upward. ■


FEBRUARY 21, 2014


Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act: A comparative view Current Act

Proposed Act

• Residence for three out of four years (1,095 days); • No requirement that resident be physically present; • Time as a non-permanent resident (non-PR) may be counted toward residence for citizenship; • No intent to reside provision

• Requires physical presence for four years (1,460 days) out of the six years; • 183 days minimum of physical presence per year in four out of six years; • Eliminate use of time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident (non-PR); • Introduce “intent to reside” provision

• Adult applicants aged 18–54 must meet language requirements and pass knowledge test; upper age limit of 54 currently established by policy, not in legislation; • Applicants can meet knowledge requirement with assistance of an interpreter

• Requires applicants aged 14–64 to meet language requirements and pass knowledge test; • Applicants must meet knowledge requirement in English or French

• Most “Lost Canadians” had their citizenship • Extends citizenship to “Lost Canadians” restored in 2009, but some “Lost Canadians” born before 1947 as well as their 1st generawere not covered by that change and are not tion children born abroad eligible for citizenship • Bars getting citizenship from people with domestic criminal charges and convictions

• Expands bar on getting citizenship to people with foreign criminal charges and convictions

• Consultants not required to be registered or regulated in order to represent individuals in citizenship manner; • Few tools to deter fraud and ensure program integrity; • Fines and penalties for fraud are a maximum of $1,000 and/or one year in prison

• Defines who is an authorized representative and provides authority to develop regulations to designate a regulatory body whose members would be authorized to act as consultants in citizenship matters; • Authority to refuse applicant for fraud; fines and penalties for fraud are a maximum

• Governor in Council (GIC) final decision maker for citizenship revocation

• Gives Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister authority to decide on routine revocation cases • Complex revocation cases such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, security, other human or international rights violations, and organized criminality decided by the Federal Court

• GIC final decision maker on discretionary grants of citizenship

• Gives CIC Minister the authority to decide on discretionary grants of citizenship

• Limited authority to define what constitutes a complete application

• Establishes authority to define what constitutes a complete application and what evidence applicants must provide

• Citizenship grant is a three-step decisionmaking process

• Changes citizenship grant to a single-step process that reduces duplication and improves processing times.

• No requirement to file Canadian income taxes to be eligible for a grant of citizenship

• Requires adult applicants to file Canadian income taxes, as required under the Income Tax Act, to be eligible for citizenship

Please check

Current Act

Proposed Act

• No authority to revoke citizenship for acts against Canada’s national interest

• Establishes the authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who were members of an armed force or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, and deny it to PRs for the same reasons • Authority to revoke Canadian citizenship and deny it to PRs who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences, depending on the sentence received

• No fast-track mechanism for citizenship for members of the military to honour their service to the Canadian Armed Forces and address deployment challenges

• Creates a fast-track mechanism for citizenship for PRs serving with—and individuals on exchange with— the Canadian Armed Forces to honour their service to Canada



Canada is not a hotel: Kenney BY MELISSA REMULLABRIONES Philippine Canadian Inquirer RICHMOND, B.C.—Mr. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Development and Minister of Multiculturalism, came to Richmond to discuss the budget unveiled by Minister Jim Flaherty as Economic Action Plan 2014 but was—und e r st a n d a b l y— b o m b a r d e d by questions on the spate of changes on the immigration front. Indeed, media representatives of three of the largest and fastest growing immigrant population in Canada—the Chinese, South Asians and Filipinos—met with the minister at a roundtable to seek answers to questions that are making their groups very concerned: Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act and what it would spell for their groups in the near future. The proposed law is the first comprehensive reform to the

Citizenship Act since 1977. Some of the pressing questions of the reporters included the longer residency requirement, the cancellation of the immigrant investor program and the new “expression of interest“ system. Longer residency requirement

“Canada is not a hotel. Our passport is not a document of convenience. It’s not a political insurance policy. it implies mutual obligations. it implies being committed to this country in longer terms,” said Mr. Kenney. Most developed countries like Australia and the UK actually require five, six, seven years of residency, according to the minister. Thus, under the new law, to make sure that Canada will have citizens that have formed “meaningful attachments” to the country, immigrants seeking citizenship must reside in Canada for four out of the previous six years, an increase of one year from the old law, “[E]

Minister Jason Kenney


specially given the number of people who in the past dodged around the rules,” the minister explained. The RCMP has investigated residency fraud in the past few years and found more than 10,000 cases of people who faked proof of their residency. People also showed up at citizenship ceremonies with their suitcases packed, ready to go back to their country of origin.

“All of that will end with the exit-entry information system that we’re putting in place by the end of this year,” Mr. Kenney said. “And I hope with the new requirements, applicants for citizenship actually file tax returns. No longer will we accept the notion that someone can be a permanent resident for citizenship applications but at the same time be a non-resident for

tax purposes,” he says. Mr. Kenney clarified, however, that the longer residency requirement will not apply to people who are already permanent residents in Canada. “They will be grandfathered under the proposed Strengthening Citizenship Act. It will only be for newcomers who arrive after that act is adopted.” ❱❱ PAGE 39 Canada is not

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FEBRUARY 21, 2014



Frank Tan and Olga Alvarado-Tan

BY CHING DEE Philippine Canadian Inquirer EVERY PINOY must have heard the expression “mula Aparri hanggang Jolo” (from Aparri to Jolo) at least once in their lifetime. To put this in perspective, Aparri is more than 500 kilometers from Manila, which is about 18 hours by bus—if you’re lucky. Despite such distance, Frank Tan and (then) Olga Alvarado’s paths crossed. Destiny written all over

Francisco “Frank” Tan Jr. is a native of Pasig City, while Olga Dumlao Alvarado grew up in Aparri, Cagayan. He studied Fisheries Technology and earned his master’s degree in government management from the University of the Philippines, she earned her Pharmacy degree from the University of Santo Tomas. In spite of the differences, Frank found Olga and Olga found Frank. Together, they built their humble beginnings in Cagayan Valley, where Frank was assigned as the regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Olga established her own drug store. They got married on January 25, 1964. Remember that old cliché, “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be?” Well, this lovely couple is a living testament to that beat-up saying. No matter the distance, despite taking different disciplines in difference universities, they still found their way to each other. Recently, Frank and Olga celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in downtown Toronto. The couple renewed their marriage vows with the help of Rev. Fr. John Sullivan, parish priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, as the officiator. After the ceremonies, a formal reception was held at the Ellas Hospitality Center in Danforth Road, Toronto. Relatives and close friends joined the Tan family as they celebrated 50 years of blissful togetherness. Eleanor Alvarado Calbes-Thomson serenaded

Frank, Olga, and their guests. And of course, the festivities wouldn’t be complete without performance from their grandchildren. Talk about destiny, eh? More than blessings

Frank and Olga’s love brought them unspeakable joy and priceless rewards in the form of their five children. They consider them to be the source of their pride. And why not? After raising five achievers, they should give themselves a pat on the back for a job very well done. Their eldest daughter, Liesel, earned her degree in medicine from Manila Central University. She is now a registered nurse in Canada and currently working as the Nurse-in-Charge at the Leisure World Nursing home in Mississauga. She is married to Jose Aguila. They have two children. Rommel, their second child, finished his accountancy degree in San Beda College. He is now working for a British financial company in Mississauga. He married Jocelyn Co and they have two kids together. The middle child, Vanessa, earned her degree in pharmacy from Centro Escolar University. She is now a licensed pharmacist in Canada. She is running her own drugstore with the help of her husband, Aftabul Habib. They have two kids. Ramie earned his degree in medical technology from his mom’s Alma Mater—University of Santo Tomas. Today, he is working as a licensed medical technologist at the Blood Bank of Toronto East General Hospital. He married Myla Tan and they bore two children. Last but certainly not the least, their youngest kid Omar is an Economics graduate from York University. Now, he is working at the Bank of New York in Bermuda. “I’m very thankful that they’re all obedient children. They follow our [advice]. Our children are very good because they are religious… They know how to give and take with their brothers and sisters and help each other. There’s nothing more we can wish [for] because everything is okay with us.” Just in case you failed to do

The Tans’ family photo.

the math, their five kids have blessed Frank and Olga with eight grandchildren—all between the ages of 6 to 18. Moving to Canada

With the encouragement of Frank’s sister and the hope of finding a better future for their children, Frank and Olga decided to move to Canada in November 1991 with their entire family. “I was invited by my sister who happens to be a professor in the University of Toronto, a doctor of psychology,” Frank shared. “She told us that our children will have a better future here, although I’m okay na in the Philippines.” At first, Frank’s relatives helped them out as they all tried to find whatever job they could in order to make a living. For Frank and his household, the biggest challenge they faced after moving to a new country was employment. “Number one there is finding your profession—a job in order to support the family, any kind of job you [can] take,” Frank said. Frank himself met some new friends who introduced him to the Primerica Financial Corporation. He started out as a subscriber, then an agent, and he continued to work for financial services for some time. As for their kids who all

earned their college degrees back in the Philippines, most of them had to study again in Canada to get accreditation. “They have to study again here,” Frank said about his children. “It was very, very discouraging,” he noted, “but I told them, ‘you have a better future here. Just take your chance and be patient’.” And patient they all were. Frank, Olga, and their five children started to take odd jobs here and there to make ends meet—both in school and at home. “My two daughters, they [worked as nannies] for my sister in their condominium, at least they can support us,” he recalled. “And my other [sons], one worked in McDonald’s and the other one worked with my brother-in-law who happens to be in capitals management,” he continued. Despite the challenges, Frank noted that the Canadian government, even more than two decades ago, has always been helpful—even to immigrants like him and his family. “The government here in Canada is very helpful,” Frank pointed out. Around three or four years later, after years of working during the day and studying at night, their kids finally finished

their studies, earned their accreditation, and found better jobs. Since then, everything started to get better. Today, almost 23 years after they flew to The Great White North, Frank and Olga still think of home. “We used to go home to the Philippines every year, because [she still has] relatives in Cagayan Valley to visit. In my case, I still have nieces and nephews in Makati. We have to see them and see how their lives are doing.” Words from the Wise

For those who just arrived in Canada (or for those who are planning to make The Big Move), Frank shared two pieces of advice based on experience. “The first important thing to do is to join any community organization. From there, you can have networks and find some help, and whatever you do, you owe it to the community,” he said. As for the second advice: “The point is: do not lose hope, just keep on working and keep on praying that the Lord will help you in what you’re doing. Don’t lose hope and everything will come out alright… If you lose hope, you’re a goner. Hope is always there. It will come out okay. Just keep on praying [for] whatever you are doing and the Lord will help.” ■



Remembering Edsa The Ghost of EDSA Past, Present and Future BY ANGIE DUARTE Philippine Canadian Inquirer THE CAB driver and I sat in stunned silence, the air between us heavy with disgust and dismay, as the lady on the radio recounted how she had— on several occasions—delivered large sums of money to lawmakers in their Senate offices, or to their homes. Sometimes (for sums of one or two million pesos only, she would use her handbag; others times, for amounts up to eleven million, she would use a carry-on bag with wheels). Her bad back couldn’t handle the weight of the cash, she said. Ruby Tuason’s testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in the long-drawn out pork barrel scam was on everyone’s agenda on the morning of February 13, 2014, and for once, I was thankful to be stuck in rush-hour traffic. I wanted to hear what she had to say, no matter that it made me balk, or how—to my already frayed “life in the Philippines” sensibilities—each word sounded like nails down a chalkboard. I realized the driver was asking me a question, so I tuned out of the testimony to tune in to his query. It was half-question, half-thought-spoken-out-loud: “Ma’am, ano kaya ang itsura ng ganoon kadaming pera? Hindi ko maisip, Ma’am. (Ma’am, I wonder what that much money looks like? I cannot even imagine it, Ma’am.)” He could not visualize it; neither could I; for I, like the cabbie, belong to the

class that—on these islands— works hard for their meager amounts of money. Way, way too hard; for way, way too little. Neither of us could imagine what millions in cold, hard cash would look like; nor could we fathom the incredible lack of soul, conscience, and shred of humanity in the people who thought it “ok” to steal these millions from their fellowFilipinos. After all, a kickback comes from money allocated for projects, which in turn comes from the country’s coffers, which we all know comes from the people’s taxes paid from very, very hard work; for very, very little recompense. Despicable. Utterly so. EDSA? What EDSA?

As the cab neared my place of work, we drove by some EDSA anniversary flyer or other, pasted to an electric post (presumably to stay there until weathering takes its natural course). On the 25th of February, 2014, it will be the 27th anniversary of the People’s Power movement that took place on EDSA, to oust the overstaying dictator, and thrust the hapless housewife into the highest seat in the land. It was the movement that catapulted the Philippines to global political and sociocultural fame. It was the movement that the annals of history will forever remember as the peaceful revolution of the masses that, in 1986, restored democracy in the Philippines. It was the movement that united a nation, across all socioeconomic barriers; regardless

An iconic photo of the EDSA Revolution in the Philippines in February 1986 showing hundreds of thousands of people filling up Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA). The view is looking northbound towards the Boni Serrano Avenue-EDSA intersection. WIKIPEDIA PHOTO

of class; and despite political and religious beliefs towards a common and noble goal. Yet in that cab, it was the movement that made me just about snort in derision. Where is the EDSA spirit now? What happened to all that hope and promise? Punk’s not dead. Is the spirit of EDSA?

The Ghost of EDSA past came to haunt me, as I recalled a time that was charged with the certainty of a better tomorrow, and of a bright future for our country— finally. Let’s throwback to 1983; to the revolution’s first birth pangs. Ninoy Aquino’s return to

the country after several years in exile was as highly anticipated as it was dreaded. People feared for his life, yet no one expected the end to come so quickly. He had barely stepped onto the soil of his native land when shots rang out, finding their mark in Ninoy. His lifeless body was unceremoniously and hurriedly tossed into a waiting security van seconds thereafter. Video footage left people in shock; stunned by the brazenness of it all. Shock turned into mourning, which later morphed into outrage, as the icon of long-overdue change lay dead in a coffin—his face, disfigured by the assassin’s bullet and purposely

left un-retouched. The people’s sentiments began to simmer; then seethe. Yet for two more years after his death, democracy lay dead in the tomb. And on the third year, she rose again. It was 1986 and I was a young punk in my senior year of high school; sporting asymmetrical hair, fishnets, studs and boots long before these were integrated into Manila’s stream of fashion consciousness. Under pressure from Uncle Sam and from an increasingly disgruntled Filipino populace to prove the legitimacy of his 20-year-rule, President Marcos ❱❱ PAGE 31 The Ghost

Remembering Edsa

FEBRUARY 21, 2014


10 Little Things we can do for the Philippines BY KATHERINE MARFALTEVES Philippine Canadian Inquirer

With hard work, determination and commitment, we can definitely move ahead.

There is so much to see and celebrate. 7. Be an ambassador. If foreign tourists ask, “What is beautiful about the Philippines?,” boast a little. There's really much we can be proud of in our own Pearl of the Orient.

2. Support local products. What’s in the tag of your favorite shirt? Does it show that it's “Made in the Philippines”? In his book, “12 Littlle Things We Can Do To Help Our Country,” Alexander Lacson explained that we have to support our local products. It shows how proud we are to be Filipino—and a subtle way to represent the Philippines and introduce our products to citizens of other countries.

In his book “Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell said, "Do not underestimate the power of little things, they can spur a revolution.” This statement best describes how little, seemingly inconsequential events can lead to an awakening and a valiant fight for democracy. But on the 28th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, it is no longer enough to bask in its memory. We have to perform—again— little, seemingly inconsequential things to help our country, and ourselves, move forward. 1. Find a job or be productive. According to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, 12.1 million Filipinos are currently jobless. While this figure is quite understandable due to the calamities that struck the country (according to Malacanang), we have to rise from our stupor and realize we can do something about our lot.

3. Obey laws. Think, "All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Yes, the book. Throw peace and order in and you get the picture. From following the simple traffic rules to paying the right taxes—it can spell a world of difference. 4. Ask for an official receipt. Whether you like her or not, let's help Kim Henares, BIR Chief, do her job. This mere slip of paper—a receipt—means

8. Keep the environment clean. This needs no explanation and should apply to everyone wherever they are.

more proof for the BIR to run after those tax evaders. 5. Support local music, arts, literature Our race is filled with amazing talents and limitless creativity. We have brilliant singers who have reigned supreme in various international competitions. We have local authors who have their books translated in many languages and visual artists who hold exhibits

9. Be a good leader. Set a good example. Take the words "public service" to heart. Don't be tempted by untold riches. Moral values, including dignity and credibility, are qualities that would ripple in eternity. It could even land you, if you are really good, in history books (an unintended effect, of course).

in many parts of the world. Our task is to support and patronize them. Our own. Sariling atin. 6. Support local tourism. Our country has so much to offer than we can ever imagine. Huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan. Don't be a stranger in your own country. Before going out (or for overseas Filipinos, before thinking of visiting other countries), explore the beauty of the Philippines.

10. Be a good parent. A happy family is a happy society. Focus on your children. Make sure you contribute positively to their lives and their futures. It is never too late.





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Remembering Edsa


The Lost Speech Ninoy Aquino’s arrival speech he never read BY CHING DEE Philippine Canadian Inquirer


I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through non-violence.

THE EDSA revolution—the first one, to be more precise— took place between February 22-25, 1986, almost three years after Ninoy’s death. Led by his dear wife, Cory Aquino, the people took it to the streets and sent the Marcos family (and their posse) packing. The revolution was broadcasted worldwide and inspired so many people all over the globe. It was dubbed the “People Power Revolution.” Today, as we remember the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, we commemorate one of its heroes. Despite his absence, Ninoy Aquino served as an inspiration not just to his wife and family, but to a grieving nation longing for freedom and fighting for its right.

I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.

The speech he never got to read

The country is far advanced in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united. But we can be united only if all the rights and freedoms enjoyed before September 21, 1972 are fully restored.

August 21, 1983 was more than just a Sunday. To some, it was the death of democracy. The death of hope, of liberty, of an end to tyranny. To a few, it must have felt like victory. The late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was brutally assassinated that Sunday just as he was emerging from his plane at the tarmac of then Manila International Airport. A couple of shots were fired and he fell from the plane. He was dead on the spot. Ninoy prepared a speech prior to his arrival. The speech he never got to deliver. According to his speech, he came back to the country despite his mother’s advice after being exiled in Boston, Massachusetts. He also knew back then that he will be stepping into darkness once more. “I am prepared for the worst, and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser, many of my tested friends and a few of my most valued political mentors. A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties,

I am prepared for the worst, and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser, many of my tested friends and a few of my most valued political mentors. A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties, have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts. Three years ago when I left for an emergency heart bypass operation, I hoped and prayed that the rights and freedoms of our people would soon be restored, that living conditions would improve and that blood-letting would stop. I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis. I never sought not have I been given any assurances, or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end, justice will emerge triumphant. According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man. Rather than move forward we have moved backward. The killings have increased, the economy has taken a turn for the worse and the human rights situation has deteriorated. During the martial law period, the Supreme Court heard petitions for habeas corpus. It is most ironic after martial law has allegedly been lifted, that the Supreme Court last April ruled it can longer entertain petitions for habeas corpus for person detained under the Presidential Commitment Order, which covers all so-called national security cases and which under present circumstances can cover almost anything.

The Filipino asked for nothing more, but will surely accept nothing less, than all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1935 constitution – the most sacred legacies from the founding fathers. Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Must we wait until that patience snaps? The nationwide rebellion is escalating and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution. There is a growing cadre of young Filipinos who have finally come to realize that freedom is never granted, it is taken. Must we relive the agonies and the blood-letting of the past that brought forth our republic or can we sit down as brothers and sisters and discuss our differences with reason and goodwill? I have often wondered how many disputes could have been settled easily had the disputants only dared to define their terms. So as to leave no room for misunderstanding, I shall define my terms: Six years ago, I was sentenced to die before a firing squad by a military tribunal whose jurisdiction I steadfastly refused to recognize. It is now time for the regime to decide. Order my immediate execution or set me free. I was sentenced to die for allegedly being the leading communist leader. I am not a communist, never was and never will be. National reconciliation and unity can be achieved, but only with justice, including justice for our Muslim and Ifugao brothers. There can be no deal with a dictator. No compromise with dictatorship. In a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build. Subversion stems from economic, social, and political causes and will not be solved by purely military solution: It can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom. For the economy to get going once again, the working man must be given his just and rightful share or his labor, and to the owners and managers must be restored the hope where there is so must uncertainty if not despair. On one of the long corridors of Harvard University are carved in granite the words of Archibald Macleish: ‘How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always and in the final act, by determination and faith.’ I return from exile and an uncertain future with only determination and faith to offer – faith in our people and faith in God.”

❱❱ PAGE 30 The Lost

Seen & Scenes

FEBRUARY 21, 2014


PAENG NEBRES IS REELECTED PRESIDENT OF BICOL CANADA Rafael Nebres was reelected president of the Bicol Canada Community Association, Inc. (BCCA). A native of Camalig, Albay, he will be serving until 2015. The BCCA is composed of Bicolanos and Bicolanas who came from the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon who opted to settle down in the different Canadian provinces, cities, and towns.

Photo shows Rafael Nebres (middle), reelected president of the Bicol Canada Community Association, Inc., Leon J. Aureus, Jr., founder of BCCA (extreme left) and Jojo Taduran (extreme right), BCCA vice president for membership and government relations. (St. Jamestown News Service, Dindo Orobeso)

LOVE & MUSIC Philippine-based singer and pop balladeer Timmy Pavino, with the Rosario Strings and other special performers, serenaded their Valentine’s Day guests during Timmy’s concert entitled Love & Music held at the Chandos Pattison Auditorium in Surrey, B.C.. For the full story, please see page 32.

SHIFTING GEOGRAPHY Shifting Geography is a new international ensemble dance creation under the collaborative work of Vancouver choreographer of Co.ERASGA, Alvin Erasga Tolentino and from Bonn, Germany of CocoonDance, Rafaële Giovanola. This new dance explores the body as a geographical metaphor with which to inquire about one’s origin and pathway, and in the direction from which one traverses to continue the search of place, belonging, adapting and surviving from the myriads of chaos to self discovery.

MISS VALENTINE 2014 The Filipino-Canadian New Era Society of B.C. crowned Remie Delos Reyes as Ms. Valentine 2014 at the Capri Hall on February 16. Several February birthday celebrants, including Aning Hernandez, also graced the occasion.

For photo submissions, please email

It will be held from February 18-22, 2014 at 8pm at 1895 Venables St. Vancouver. For ticket inquiries, please call 604.251.1363 or visit

Seen & Scenes


BLUEPRINT FOR CITIZENSHIP IMPROVEMENTS Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, delivered a keynote address on the Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements and participated in a question and answer period with members of the Richmond, B.C. community. The event was held on February 17 and was organized by the Intercultural Harmony Alliance and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

CHINESE CULTURAL CENTRE PUBLIC MEETING Stakeholders and different immigrant groups met on February 15 at the Chinese Cultural Centre to discuss the provincial government’s apology and to look at developing a common strategy on requesting a change in the B.C. core curriculum. Artist and Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) Vice President Esmie Gayo-Maclaren spoke on behalf of the Filipino community.

SIR KA MILING SILVERIO CELEBRATED HIS 93RD BIRTHDAY A surprise birthday party was given to Ka Miling by her daughters Marivit Ramajo and Tessie Malonso. A number of close relatives and Rizal friends were invited to celebrate his 93rd milestone with him in his Scarborough home. Although he is physically weak, he enjoyed having everybody around, recalling the happy occasions and celebrations he had with his families and friends. Emiliano R. Silverio was the first Rizal Toronto Chapter Commander in the GTA and served as Canada Region Commander for 10 years. He is happy to be informed and continue to be a part of the activities of the Knights of Rizal in Toronto and all over Canada.

MERING MAURICIO HAD A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY The daughter and family of Mering Mauricio gave her a surprise luncheon party in a Scarborough restaurant to celebrate her recent birthday. Her friends from St. Barnabas and Prince of Peace Parishes had a very enjoyable lunch and wished her a Blessed and Happy Birthday.

Remembering Edsa

FEBRUARY 21, 2014


The Lost... have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts,” he wrote. Yet in spite of those charges, he decided to come back home to set things right. “I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through non-violence. I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice,” he said in his speech. Ninoy knew that “in a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build.” Hence, his peaceful approach. He chose not to follow the easy path even if he knew it could cost him his life. “I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis. I never sought ❰❰ 27

nor have I been given any assurances, or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end, justice will emerge triumphant,” he said. He longed to end the spilling of more innocent blood in his homeland. He mentioned in his speech that the country moved backward—into tyranny and violence—rather than move forward with the regime. In his speech, Ninoy listed the atrocities of Martial Law. The deterioration of human rights, the massive increase in extrajudicial killings, twisted laws, the suppression of free speech and even businesses to freely run, and the imprisonment of the innocent. He pointed out that for a fallen economy such as the Philippines’ “to get going once again,” owners must be given hope and workers should be given their fair share for their toils. And then he called for unity. “The country is far advanced

in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united. But we can be united only if all the rights and freedoms enjoyed before September 21, 1972 are fully restored,” he pointed out. “The Filipino asked for nothing more, but will surely accept nothing less, than all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the 1935 constitution—the most sacred legacies from the founding fathers. Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Must we wait until that patience snaps?” Apparently, yes. The Filipino’s patience was stretched to the thinnest strand, until it can no longer contain it and it exploded onto EDSA three years later. It seems like as if he has foreseen the revolution as proven by his speech. “The nationwide rebellion is escalating and threatens to ex-

plode into a bloody revolution. There is a growing cadre of young Filipinos who have finally come to realize that freedom is never granted, it is taken,” he wrote. And yet Ninoy longed to end things in a non-violent manner, so he used his speech to deliver his terms and to keep everything peaceful and blackand-white despite knowing that “there can be no deal with a dictator. No compromise with dictatorship.” “Order my immediate execution or set me free.” They said that a man who has lived a full life is not afraid to die. In his speech, he proved that saying true. In 1977, he was sentenced to die before a firing squad by a military tribunal for allegedly being the nation’s communist leader. “I am not a communist, never was and never will be,” Ninoy wrote. He said that “Subversion stems from economic, social, and political causes and will not

be solved by purely military solution: It can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom.” Perhaps the government back then was mistaking Ninoy’s subversion with communism. At the last part of his speech, Ninoy quoted Archibald Macleish as written along the corridors of Harvard University. “How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always and in the final act, by determination and faith.” And Ninoy added, “faith in our people and faith in God." A man’s legacy truly lives on after he himself passes away. He wrote, “According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.” ■

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Remembering Edsa


The Ghost... called for a snap election, one year before the duly scheduled elections. The results declared Marcos victorious, to cries of “FOUL!” all across the land. People took to the streets on February 22, 1986; EDSA was the melting pot of all collective woes, anger, and frustration. Generals, once loyal to the strongman, defected; and with them, their men in uniform. Clergy men and women bore crosses and prayed rosaries; while intellectuals and artists gave speeches, sang songs, wrote essays extolling the virtues of nationalism and love for country. Three days, the clamor continued, until he who sat on his high wall had a great and decisive fall. Marcos, along with his family, relinquished power and fled in exile to Hawaiian shores. The people were jubilant; a sea of yellow frenzy. Ninoy’s widow Corazon was sworn into office as the country’s first female president. Hope seemed to spring eternal, despite her self-confessed lack of experience in any shape, ❰❰ 25

form, or fashion to fulfill the highest call in the land. The future seemed as bright as the shade of canary yellow which had become the colour of the new movement. Twenty seven years since, I am all that much older, and I am still a punk. Punk’s not dead, I can say with conviction. But what of the spirit of EDSA? Where has it all gone? Forgotten, perhaps, like the crimes of the former ousted politician who yet again holds a seat in government. Is the spirit of EDSA, like punk, alive still? I am not as convinced. The Ghost of EDSA Present must be sitting in a dark corner somewhere, bawling. Pork, rice, and unbridled greed

Since the storied People’s Power Movement took place on EDSA 27 years ago, much has happened to make me question if the legacy still lives. Pork and rice, for instance. I refer, of course, not to our favorite mouth-watering fare, but to the notorious billion peso pork barrel scam, and to the infamous billion peso

“David Tan” rice smuggling scandal. Pork and rice: a meal prepared by unbridled greed, at the expense of the Filipino people. These are but two examples in a whole gamut of them. Where do we, the people, factor into the recipe? I am no scholar on the matter, but it would seem that we have played the role of the “powerless and clueless” very, very well. In complete anti-thesis to the vigilance and initiative of “People Power.” We cannot live off one spectacular moment in time, and then slip back into our oblivious, routinary existence. We are too forgiving, and far too forgetful. We elect the same-old-same-old into office; blinded by smooth talking and lofty ideals or bought by crispy bills. The plight of our country, and I am sorry to say it, is pitiful. All these reports on the “economic recovery” that we are supposedly enjoying have yet to translate to concrete terms, for good of the common man and woman; such as the taxi driver and myself.

“AKO” ay Pilipino

Where do we begin to unravel the hopelessly tangled knot of a country we have become? It all starts with the part you and I play in the knot. What can I do to make it better, one person at a time? I am not talking of the empty nationalism we all-too-often see; the kind that gets their underwear in a bunch and goes all ballistic on social media when someone says something nasty about the Philippines or a Filipino, yet the same kind that thinks nothing of tossing their litter onto the streets of an already dirty metro. Folks, there is a reason we have been likened to the gates of hell, and you would have to be blind, living under a rock, or in absolute denial not to see it. So instead of expending effort railing against those who point out the truth, let’s do what we can to fix it. I am referring to the nationalism that takes ACTIVE RESPONSIBILITY for our own actions in the country we claim to love so very much. Littering. Driving like a moron. Paying off the cop who catches you for driving like a moron. Refusing

to fall in line and shoving your way into the bus or the railway transit. Not paying your employees fair wages for their labour. Not paying on time. Not paying them at all. Treating your helpers like slaves, instead of workers with dignity. Putting-up with all the garbage (literal and figurative) the government passes off as good service. Electing former criminals into office. The list of areas in which we all fall short goes on and on. Time to set the cogs into motion, and bring about a true revolution in our country; the kind of revolution that begins with self: “AKO.” It begins with self and ripples all across the land into something more solid than the mere memory of a fantastic 3-day event in our history. Ninoy said that the “Filipino is worth dying for.” Is he or she also worth living for? Can we love our individual lives in a manner worthwhile and worthy of the price that many a bygone hero and heroine have paid? I would like to believe that the answer is a resounding “YES.” So would the cab driver, I am guessing. As would the Ghost of EDSA Future, I am certain. ■

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Timmy Pavino Heart’s Day Concert BY SOCORROBABES NEWLAND

LAST FRIDAY’S red carpet event “Love & Music” Valentine’s Day Concert did not fall short of double G’s (glitz & glamour), surprises, frenzy and sterling array of amazing young talents. For those who came to watch amidst hundred-andone reasons for others not to, it was one Valentine’s date night to remember. Their loss, our utmost gain. The main act and emerging shining star, TIMMY PAVINO, did not disappoint. If anything, he gets better each time. One can never have enough of Timmy’s polished, soothing chops. His akin lounge-style of performance is no put on. He’s naturally gifted with gab. Finding his comfort zone and enthusiasm in conveying messages of love and yearning not by mere melodic rhythm, but by intertwining this with his thought-provoking words of wisdom. For a young man of 20some, Timmy Pavino has fully aged to perfection. His Barry Manilow medley was the best I have heard yet so far, not even from overtures of more established Filipino performers. And his Michel Legrand ditty rendition did top my favourites for the night. Featured young artist, Glisha dela Cruz, was a revela-

tion. During rehearsals she came in with an unassuming flair of a typical teenager who was tasked to dish out a tune with Timmy of a famous Jose Mari Chan-Regine Velasquez 1970’s classic hit, “Please Be Careful With My Heart”. The result was splendid. Glisha simply came out from her shell and nailed her part. With what I’ve seen, that was the official launch of Glisha’s career in local entertainment. She is a total package in the making—talent, beauty, good bearing and right attitude all rolled into one. No one else could be prouder that night than Glisha’s doting parents, a.k.a. generous and beloved producers behind “Love & Music” Valentine’s Day Concert—Joel and Narima dela Cruz of Glisten Productions. I caught up with them shortly before the show. And they both quipped, “whatever happens, we will make sure that this is going to be one Valentine’s Day concert in Vancouver that will be remembered for a long, long time. We are believers/ supporters of great Filipino talents. We did not falter in asking Timmy to be the star of our new production venture’s maiden offering”. Bravo! This couple definitely has good taste. From opening acts up till closing, it was hard to leave my seat for anything. Proud of Timmy Pavino and the journey that has taken him. Went home fulfilled sans disappointments and doubts. ■

Timmy Pavino with Glisha dela Cruz.



Luis and Angel, in a relationship again BY KATHERINE MARFAL-TEVES Philippine Canadian Inquirer

Iwa Moto and Pampy Lacson, with Thirdy (middle).


Jodi Sta. Maria says son gets along with Iwa Moto BY MARINEL R. CRUZ Philippine Daily Inquirer ACTRESS JODI Sta. Maria says her son with estranged husband Pampi Lacson is getting along well with the latter’s new partner, Iwa Moto. “Everything is OK now. Pampi and I worked this out, not for ourselves but for our son (Thirdy). We don’t want him to grow up conflicted,” Jodi told entertainment writers during her launch recently as the face of the “Alagang Flawless” campaign. “It doesn’t matter who made the first move and [apologized]. What’s important is that all is well now, for Thirdy’s sake.”

has tears when she cries.’ He’s so cute!” The actress pointed out that Pampi is a responsible father. “He loves our son and I never worry when Thirdy is with him. Hindi siya nagkulang. And he really makes time for the boy, especially when he is needed in school.” She was cautious when discussing Thirdy’s relationship with her boyfriend, Bacoor Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla. “Thirdy calls him tito (uncle). It’s clear to Thirdy who Jolo is to him. I don’t want my son to be confused about the role of his dad and that of the person I am with.” She added, “Pampi is always [accessible to Thirdy]. I don’t want to cause him any disrespect. He and Jolo both know where they stand.”

More comfortable

Not prepared

Jodi and Pampi announced their separation in March 2011 and filed for annulment shortly after. The “Be Careful With My Heart” star said Thirdy is now more comfortable around Iwa, who gave birth to a baby girl in September. Frequent visitor

“Thirdy visits them often. I have never heard him say anything negative about [Iwa],” Jodi said. “[Iwa and I] don’t communicate regularly. I’ve seen Thirdy’s baby sister only in photos. He’s crazy about her. I constantly remind him to be a good kuya.” Jodi said she never kept the reason for the breakup from her 8-year-old son. “He’s a smart kid. Not for a single moment did I underestimate his understanding of things. I patiently explain things to him whenever he asks. I will not go into the details, but I sit down and talk with him.” She discovered interesting things about Thirdy when he became a big brother [to Baby Eve], Jodi said. “He’s so loving and thoughtful, laging nakadikit sa baby. He tells me about her. Recently, he said, ‘Mom, my baby sister already

Talk has it that the annulment case will soon be decided. Jodi refused to confirm this. “I will answer questions about my annulment at the proper time,” she stressed. She is emotionally unprepared to get married again, Jodi pointed out. “Jolo knows this. We talk about my dreams and aspirations—marriage is not yet one of them. He sees how well my career is going, and understands that I shouldn’t waste any opportunities right now.”

LUIS MANZANO and Angel Locsin are together again. “I’m proudly her boyfriend,” Luis said in an interview on “Buzz ng Bayan” on Sunday, February 16. He added that the reconciliation happened just a few days after New Year’s Day—and as they say—the rest is history. After a few text messages, the nowcouple started to bring back the flame again. It will be recalled that last January 15 in an interview with ABS-CBN News, Angel surprised the public when she admitted that she’s still in love with Luis. Meanwhile, Luis clarified the rumors that Angel made the first move in their reconciliation. “Some people believe I had no idea when she first came out on TV and said mahal niya ako (she loves me), that it was our first time to talk after so long. That’s wrong. We were already talking, we were already spending time with each other, we were already enjoy-

The road to reconcilation

“It all started a few days after Christmas. I don’t even think if I got to greet her for Christmas. Nabati ko ang family nya ( I greeted her family). A few days after Christmas, that’s when we started texting again. Very simple lang. Greeting lang. New year, pumunta ako sa bahay nila (I went to their house on New Year),” Luis recounted. He denied that he was the cause of the breakup of Angel and Phil Younghusband, explaining that they didn’t have any form of communication for several years. The TV host-actor also cleared that Angel didn’t cause his breakup with actress Jennylyn Mercado. “Jen and I know the real reason why we broke up. Our families know the real reason why we broke up. She (Angel) was not a factor in the breakup.” As for their rumored wedding plans, Luis didn’t give a clear answer—but hinted that it could happen a few years from now. ■

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Prayers for him

As Jolo’s girlfriend, Jodi said, she shows support by “praying for him and his family.” The Revillas are the subject of public scrutiny, with the alleged involvement of Jolo’s father, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. “Praying for them is the best I can do. I hope they overcome this trial. Jolo knows I’m here for him, especially if he needs someone to talk to. I offer him a shoulder to cry on,” she said. “It’s true, he’s been emotional lately. This is not unusual for a person going through a lot.” ■

ing each other’s company again,” he explained.

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Deniece Cornejo denies being an escort BY JAYMEE T. GAMIL Philippine Daily Inquirer MANILA, PHILIPPINES—Saying she wanted “to educate the Filipino people who are trying to undermine my character,” alleged rape victim Deniece Cornejo has denied rumors that she was in the escort service industry. “I have never been employed in any club as an escort,” Cornejo said in an email sent on Sunday to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Reports about her being a call girl started circulating after the Malaysian man who let her stay in his condominium unit for free said that they first met at a club. The admission was made by Greg Binunus in an affidavit he submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which was looking into the cases filed by TV hostcomedian Vhong Navarro against Cornejo. Cornejo and Navarro hogged the headlines after both made allegations and counter-allegations against each other. Cornejo claimed that during a visit to her condo unit at Forbeswood Heights in Taguig City on Jan. 22, the TV host tried to rape her but her friends led by businessman Cedric Lee and his sister, Bernice, arrived in the nick of time to stop him.

Navarro, on the other hand, accused Lee and seven others of mauling him and framing him for rape so that they could extort money from him. In her e-mail, Cornejo explained how she met Binunus, the former tenant of the condo unit where the alleged rape and the mauling of Navarro occurred. “I met Mr. Greg through a girl who purchased goods from me. She happened to work at a piano bar. She gave Mr. Greg my number, hoping that he would purchase goods from me in order for her to get a commission,” she said. Cornejo, a model and styling consultant, sells fashion items online. “During my meeting with Mr. Greg, he also discussed his other projects. He mentioned that he was opening a Southeast Asian restaurant … in the Fort and asked me to be an endorser and [to also] help him [in] branding and management since I am a hospitality management student,” she added. At that time, Cornejo said she was looking for a condo unit since most of her meetings, auditions and commercials were in Makati. According to her, Binunus told her that he used to stay in a unit at Bonifacio Global City where he still had two months of rent left. He explained that he left because the unit had been robbed.


“I then decided to stay in that unit [on] a short-term basis while looking for a more accessible place in exchange for helping him in his business,” Cornejo said. She stated in her e-mail that she decided to explain the situation because people were attacking her character. “Victim-blaming is a very common practice throughout the world especially for rape victims: ‘She was dressed provocatively. She had a bad reputation. She should have known better than to put herself in that situation,’” she added. Cornejo went on to quote a study conducted by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in which 20 percent of respondents blamed women for inviting sexual assault by being drunk, wearing short skirts or flirting. She also quoted statistics from the

Rape Abuse, and Incest National Network, which stated that “victim-blaming is one of the main reasons that women do not want to report rape.” “And this is why I bought this laptop, in order to do my research on the matter aside from continuing to do my creative work in fashion and design. I find it hard to believe that buying a laptop with a video-editing software has anything to do with me being raped,” Cornejo said. The NBI earlier reported that it was looking into a report that she bought a laptop computer with video editing software in a Quezon City store on Jan. 26. It said that Cornejo later asked the condo management if she could see the footage taken by their closed circuit television camera to help her find some items which she lost. ■

Arnel readies all-originals album BY MARINEL R. CRUZ Philippine Daily Inquirer JOURNEY FRONTMAN Arnel Pineda said he would soon come out with an all-original album to show Filipinos his “other side.” “I’ve been working on my own songs since last year. Journey tours every year; however, this album will have songs different from what the band normally plays, but it will still be rock. It’s been my kind of music since I joined my first band at 15,” Pineda said, adding that the tunes would tackle love, social issues and personal experiences. His single, “This Christmas,” has been available on iTunes since December. Two more songs, “Paumanhin” and “Ewan Ko Ba,” are up for release soon. “I release one song at a time,” he said. That’s how local artists deal with piracy these days—if you release them all at the same time, you’d see bootleg copies on the streets soon after.” Possible visit

During his launch as ambassador for the “Win Against Asthma Today” campaign organized by healthcare company

GlaxoSmithKline, Pineda also hinted at the possibility of Journey revisiting Manila this year. The American rock band is scheduled to tour the United States and Canada from May 14 to September. “We’ll be doing 55 shows in all,” he told the INQUIRER. “We might come to Asia around mid-October. Our supporters in Japan are requesting for us to perform there. Since we’ll be in the region, [we’re thinking,] we might as well visit the Philippines.” Pineda also reported that his bandmates, with the help of his newly formed Arnel Pineda Foundation Inc., were able to raise $350,000 for “Yolanda” survivors. “It is still being discussed which projects and institutions the fund will go to,” Pineda pointed out. “I’m so pleased that my friend, (singer) Martin Nievera, decided to join in.” Aside from spreading awareness on fighting asthma, Pineda said he visited children’s hospitals and distributed medicines to those afflicted with hydrocephalus. “It’s a serious illness that I think the government should look into… I hope foundations created to help sick kids will be able to give more,” the singer stressed.



Hayden Christensen bound for Johnny Depp receives big screen in films with Oscar distinguished artisan winners Cage, Brody award at makeup and hair stylists guild awards BY LAUREN LA ROSE The Canadian Press

TORONTO—Hayden Christensen says it was “quite the adventure” filming the period piece “Outcast” in China—an experience that was heightened by his co-star Nicolas Cage. The Vancouver-born actor of “Star Wars” fame said he was in and around Beijing for nearly four months shooting the action movie which is set in the 12th century. “We were filming out in the rural countryside for the most part and some incredible environments. And then working with Nic Cage was a real treat,” Christensen said in a recent phone interview. “He's everything that you expect and more. A super, super nice guy and one of the most professional actors I've ever gotten to work with.” Christensen said that he and Cage portray knights from the Crusades in the film. When the Canadian star first crossed paths with the Oscar winner, Cage already appeared well on his way towards being immersed in his on-screen role. “First time I met him, he was full on in character and didn't break character for the first couple of weeks,” Christensen recalled. “He did a full-on English accent, he had like this wound on one eye, so he was walking around with one eye shut all of the time.... “(He's) just a very dedicated guy. Showed up, he knew all of his lines for the entire movie before we started filming. Just incredibly prepared, and it was really cool to get to work with him because I was a fan.” Christensen dabbled in fashion with a recent collaboration with homegrown retailer RW&Co. A 20-piece capsule collection released last year was inspired by time Christensen spent at his Ontario farm during the holiday season. But the 32-year-old—who has starred in films including “Shattered Glass,” “Jumper”

BY JESSICA HERNDON The Associated Press

Hayden Christensen.

and “Awake”—appears poised for a return to the big screen. In addition to shooting the recent project with Cage, he is set appear alongside yet another Oscar winner, joining Adrien Brody in “American Heist.” Filmed in New Orleans, Christensen said the pair portray brothers who get caught up with the wrong crowd and “decide it's a good idea to go rob a bank.” “It's a heist movie with some action elements, but it's very much a character-driven drama that's really about the relationship between these two brothers,” said Christensen. “I think that relationship is really what the movie is about.” Christensen catapulted to international fame with his starring role as Anakin Skywalker in two of the “Star Wars” prequels: 2002's”Episode II - Attack of the Clones” and “Episode III - Revenge of the Sith,” which was released in 2005. The storied sci-fi franchise will be revived once again with the Walt Disney Co. producing a new “Star Wars” trilogy set to take place after the original three space epics.


J.J. Abrams—director of two recent big-screen adaptations of the “Star Trek” franchise— will be helming the first film in the new “Star Wars” series. Shooting for “Star Wars: Episode VII”' is slated to begin this spring and is due for release in 2015. Original “Star Wars” stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are expected to play smaller, supporting roles in the new movie. “I think it's in good hands,” said Christensen of the scifi film series reboot.”I think they're going to take the franchise probably into a new direction. I'm not really involved, so I wish them the best. “I saw George Lucas not too long ago, and he's definitely moving on to a new phase of his life,” Christensen added in reference to the famed “Star Wars” creator, who remarried last year and also welcomed a baby girl. “It will be interesting to see what Disney does with it, and what J.J. does with the first film.” ■ With files from The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES—In an awards season that seems to have a ceremony for every facet of filmmaking, the Make-up and Hair Stylists Guild awards returned after a 10-year hiatus with an award for Johnny Depp. The actor received the first ever distinguished artisan award for his work in films like “Edward Scissorhands,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Depp’s honour was presented by his long-time collaborator and makeup artist Joel Harlow, who is nominated for an Academy Award this year for makeup in “The Lone Ranger.” Depp also starred in the film. “This is a great honour, but glancing up at the screen I realize what a ridiculous thing I’ve done,” joked Depp while accepting his trophy after clips of his work were shown at Paramount Studios theatre on Saturday evening. “I mean seriously, why do they still give me jobs?” he added. “I’ve done a lot of things...I should probably apologize for a few, but I won’t.” Praising the work of the makeup artists who’ve helped him “find the root of each character,” the soft-spoken actor said he liked when his face was moulded in “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” “I found, oddly, that I liked being encased in all of that stuff,” he said. “I try something different each time as an actor with the amazing help of makeup artists who have made my whole career.” Resembling the boozy party that is the Golden Globes rather than the formal Oscars, the makeup and hair stylists awards, which honours the best in the business from film to television, was a reunion for the behind-the-scenes artists. Squeals echoed throughout

the auditorium as artists with multi-colored hair and thick cat-eye style makeup hugged and kissed. “It’s our circle or little family’s time to celebrate,” said Harlow prior to the ceremony. As an ode to visual effects, a woman painted white and dressed in white stood in the lobby balancing a large headpiece made of flowers as she was lit by green lights. Host Tom Arnold later joked she looked “edible, like a big white cake.” There to present the award for best contemporary hair styling to the stylists for “Lee Daniels’ the Butler,” best supporting actress Oscar nominee June Squibb called the green lighting “wild.” Turns out she loves the colour. She’s even asked Tadashi Shoji to make her a green dress for Oscar night. “I’ve seen a sketch and it’s wonderful!” she added. Some of the evening’s other awards went to Oscar nominees “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” for best special makeup effects and “Dallas Buyers Club” for best period and/or character makeup, while best contemporary hair styling in a television series went to “The Voice.” Makeup artist Dick Smith and hairstylist Gail Ryan received lifetime achievement awards. Jane Lynch, Ed Asner, Johnny Knoxville, Nicollette Sheridan and Melissa Leo were among the presenters at the charming awards show that even included the engagement of a gay couple. “Just have fun, that’s all this is about,” said Sue Cabral-Ebert, president of the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild. “It’s not brain surgery.” Could a gaffers and grips gala be next? “You should see the electrical staff’s awards,” joked Arnold. “It’s madness!” The Oscar ceremony will take place March 2. ■




‘Pilates in business class’

In Clinical Pilates, you learn to wake up your ‘sleeping muscles’ to heal and prevent injuries BY ANNE A. JAMBORA Philippine Daily Inquirer THEY’RE A group of specialized physiotherapists and movement specialists trained to incorporate Pilates in rehabilitating injuries and chronic pain. They build relationships with their patients, becoming extra sensitive to their mood and behavioral changes, encouraging them to keep on going but, more importantly, also knowing when to set restrictions. This is physical rehab, 21st-century style. This is Clinical Pilates. “It’s Pilates in business class . This is a highly specialized discipline. We provide first-rate rehab service based on principles that are grounded on scientific studies. We make sure everything is positive here. The muscles need to be activated, but emotions have to be corrected, as well,” said Ole Eugenio, founder and program director of Options Studio. Eugenio is also the co-designer of last year’s successful Core Suspend, an exercise program that is now a recognized education provider by the American Council on Exercise. Partnering with one of the country’s top sports and celebrity chiropractors, Dr. Anton Cancio, Options Studio opened the country’s first and only Clinical Pilates rehab program this year at the 3/F 101 Connecticut cor. Missouri Sts. in Greenhills, San Juan, just above Cancio’s clinic, Cancio Chiropractic. It is open Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Under the guidance of Cancio, the therapists—all fitnessand Pilates-certified trainers—adjust the Pilates program according to the doctor’s instructions. These instructions are mostly composed of what patients should not be doing during a movement. Synergy

“Pilates has allowed my pa-

tients to hold their adjustments longer because the muscles become stronger. It really wakes up those ‘sleeping muscles,’ those we don’t normally address,” Cancio said. There’s a synergy between the muscle, the joints and the spine, Cancio said. When he aligns the spine, for instance, the muscles have to work together to support it well. When the wrong muscles are fired or if an imbalance of muscle strength from misguided training happens— and this is usually the case when patients go from rehab straight to their gym instructors—the alignment won’t hold long, the pain returns and they come back for more treatment. To avoid this cycle, Cancio decided to open a studio above his clinic. It has always been his plan to open a wellness center that can provide high-quality professional service under one roof. Options Studio was the perfect partner of choice. For patients who are not ready to go into full-on one-onone fitness training, Clinical Pilates will give them a guided and controlled type of rehab that will someday take them to their fitness goals. “I don’t really like it when patients come back to me, in pain, after a treatment. ‘Doc, I don’t know if I pushed myself too hard or if my trainer did it wrong.’ There’s always that injury, nursing it, and then fitness. You can’t go from injury to fitness,” Cancio said. With a team of specialists, patients can look forward to avoiding that cycle. Instructors report to Cancio before and after each session. This way, he stays constantly updated with their programs. Patients who enroll in the program include those with slipped discs, shoulder pain, scoliosis, knee injury, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, chronic bad posture that leads

to neck pain, prenatal and postnatal problems like back pain, athletes with sports-specific conditions, or those seeking to improve performance in sports like golf, tennis, basketball, football and running. Cancio said Clinical Pilates can bring down a 38-degree scoliosis curve, for instance, to 30 degrees or less. Although scoliosis can never be fully corrected, by restoring balance and bringing the muscles to optimum health, the structure is able to move, since the spine and joints now offer better mobility, he said.

Lean forward with fly

Daily function

“Ours is a program that can restore daily function. With the awareness and willingness of the patient to improve, we can write them a very good program suited to their needs. We provide the inspiration, but at the end of the day it’s really up to the patients,” Eugenio said. Clinical Pilates does not use conventional weights like those found in gyms or rehab centers. Instead, it uses Pilates equipment like Tower Trainers, stability chairs, reformers, suspension ropes, stability balls— equipment that encourages three-dimensional training. The springs in these machines, for instance, perform much better than traditional weights like dumbbells. They resemble more closely muscle contractions, emphasizing concentric and eccentric contraction to prevent injuries. The more you press, the more you’ll be working against the resistance, Eugenio said. The even tension throughout the entire movement makes it more effective, increasing strength faster and more effectively. With suspension ropes, patients need to stabilize them first before they can execute a movement properly. “We don’t go deeper into the

Midback series

motor learning of the muscle. When you get injured, your muscle firing pattern will be changed, and that’s why you develop some tightness. There’s an abnormal muscle firing pattern. And this is what we’re correcting,” Eugenio said. But it’s not all about adjustment and strength-building. Eugenio said there are some functions that cannot be corrected by exercise alone. And here’s where Cancio Chiropractic myotherapy comes in. Myotherapy is a manual therapy that combines different customized massage techniques that focuses on problem areas in the muscle, such as chronic trigger points, scar tissue, nodules, tightness/stiffness and muscle spasms. These problem areas can all cause referred pain to other areas of the body. Myotherapy isolates these trouble spots and frees up the muscle so it regains flexibility and allows normal muscle function. “It’s the integration of the whole body when you do a movement. Unlike doing bicep curls, for example, you move

just the bicep. In Pilates, you learn to stabilize the core to be able to do a movement more efficiently while protecting your back,” Eugenio said. Cancio said the core is not just about the abdominals, although that’s what many people know from coveting those sixpack abs they see in magazines. The core includes the pelvis, hip muscles and glutes. “The reason we don’t get injured is because, even before we move, for a few milliseconds, the core is engaged to protect the spine. This we learn even as babies. We don’t consciously think about it now. But when you’re sedentary or have just given birth, those core muscles become weak and no longer engage prior to movement. So you get a back pain when you pick up an object from the floor,” he said. By activating the core muscles and small muscles in the spine with resistance, patients will relearn to switch on those muscles. Through repeated feedback to the mind and body, patients will gain muscle memory until it becomes an automatic response. ■



Vancouver Diversity Health Fair Celebrates 10 Years With A Focus on Healthy Families VANCOUVER, BC—On Saturday, March 1, 2014, one of the most dynamic multicultural events in the Lower Mainland celebrates a decade of promoting health and wellness to Vancouver’s diverse community. AMSSA is hosting the 10th Annual Vancouver Diversity Health Fair at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Drive, Vancouver). The theme of this milestone event is Promoting Family Health. There is no cost to attend or to participate in the day's events, which run from 10AM - 3PM; opening ceremonies begin at 9:30AM. Over the past ten years this event has evolved into the largest event of its kind in Canada. It opens doors for cultural groups who often don’t know how to access health services in our country or make their needs known, by promoting physical and emotional well-being in a comfortable, fun and easily-accessible environment. Over 80 volunteers make this day possible, including those offering translation services in Cantonese, French, Korean, Vietnamese, Farsi, Punjabi, Spanish, Mandarin and other languages. Guests will have access to free health and wellness resources including more than 50 exhibitors, 10 onsite health screenings such as blood pressure testing and ask a Nurse/Dietician services. The popular Healthy Cooking Stage will feature cooking demonstrations with Chef Gerry Kasten from Vancouver Coastal Health, Thi Bui of Fraser Health, Chef Trevor Randle from Agriculture in the Classroom and Chef Instructor at

Maple Ridge Secondary School and Chef Siddhartha Choudhary from Siddhartha's Indian Kitchen. New additions and long-time favourites in the Healthy Families Activity Zone include: Family Yoga with Yoga Buttons, Gymnastics Tumble with BC Gymnastics, Fun With Food with Vancouver Farmers Market, Soccer with MoreSports, Active Art with Vancouver Parks and Bring Back Play with ParticipACTION. This year’s entertainment stage includes performances by Science World, Zumba Vancouver, Estilo Cubano and more. The 10th Annual Vancouver Diversity Health Fair welcomes the support of Travelsmart, who is encouraging guests to travel to the event via transit. They will be hosting a free bike valet at this year’s event, as well as presenting gifts to the first 300 guests to provide the transit ticket they used to get to the Fair. Food trucks (Arturo Mexico To Go, Culver City Salads, San Juan Family Food Truck) will be on-site for those who wish to purchase lunch. For more information please visit Representatives are available for interviews in several languages. AMSSA is an affiliation of over 80 member agencies providing immigrant settlement and multicultural services in over 25 communities throughout BC. They provide leadership in advocacy and education for anti-racism, human rights and social justice, supporting its members in serving immigrants, refugees and culturally diverse communities. ■



Study: Saliva test may help predict which teenage boys will later develop major depression BY MARIA CHENG The Associated Press

Ruby Tuason.


Ruby Tuason shows ’em how to handle men BY THELMA SIOSON SAN JUAN Philippine Daily Inquirer WHY SHOULD one be surprised that when table chatter turns to Ruby Tuason these days, it’s not so much the pork barrel issue that Manila gossip dwells on, but another interesting detail of the socialite’s life? The plunder case suspect, who asked to turn state witness in the Janet Napoles pork barrel scam, is described by friends as a feisty woman who, when she caught her husband cheating on her, dumped all his stuff on the front yard—including his “Gucci shoes,” a woman friend says—and burned them. Her hubby, the late Butch Tuason, came home just in time to see the bonfire. But had he come a few minutes earlier, he could have been thrown into the fire, too, the friend adds, in jest. Over lunch, the friend also recalls, in passing, how Ruby’s sleuthing on her husband’s peccadilloes would crack them up— “like she would stake out the apartment where she believed her husband kept his mistress, and with a megaphone to call out to them!” Nooo, we all chorus at the table; you must be exaggerating. No, this female friend swears. “But I learned a lot from her on how to handle a man. She really loved him, and [vice versa]. An interesting love story.” In the end, her friends say, Ruby was around to attend to

her husband’s wake and funeral. While they also point out that Butch was the love of her life, he wasn’t her first husband. She was Mrs. Laygo (she has two sons with him) before she was free to marry Butch in Vegas. (Some friends of Butch’s first wife, however, claim that Butch and his first wife, Vicky Preysler, stayed officially married.) At that lunch, we also learn that Ruby and her sister Mercedes (who would die of cancer)—their family name is Chan—did well in the late 1980s buying and placing TV ads for the Louie Beltran show “Straight From the Shoulder,” which ran in those years, and media-buying for Nestlé, also in those years. Butch’s first wife, Vicky Preysler, is the sister of Isabel Preysler, the Manila-born socialite who has become a highprofile celebrity in Europe and a favorite cover of “Hola!” Isabel’s also known as the first wife of Julio Iglesias and the mother of Enrique Iglesias. Ruby’s friends recall how Julio would hang out with Ruby and Butch whenever he was here in those good old days. But if Ruby was a fighter for her man, she is also a good homemaker, her friends say. She is a good cook, who’s known for her puttanesca and her prawns in coconut and aligue sauce. This plunder suspect/state witness/socialite/bonfire maker also prays the rosary, the novena and visits the Blessed Sacrament every day, they say. ■

LONDON—A saliva test for teenage boys with mild symptoms of depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says. Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in teenage boys and found that ones with high levels coupled with mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer clinical depression later in life than those with low or normal cortisol levels. The test was tried on teenage boys and girls, but found to be most effective with boys. About one in six people suffer from clinical depression at some point in their lives, and most mental health disorders start before age 24. There is currently no biological test to spot depression. “This is the emergence of a new way of looking at mental illness,” Joe Herbert of the University of Cambridge and one of the study authors said at a news conference on Monday. “You don’t have to rely simply on what the patient tells you, but what you can measure inside the patient,” he said. Herbert compared the new test to ones done for other health problems, such as heart disease, which evaluate things such as cholesterol and high blood sugar to determine a p a t i e n t ’s risk.

Herbert and colleagues at the University of Cambridge observed more than 1,800 teenagers aged 12 to 19 and examined their cortisol levels with saliva tests. The researchers also collected the teens’ own reports of depression symptoms and tracked diagnoses of mental health disorders in them for up to three years later. The boys who had high cortisol levels and mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer from clinical depression when compared to other teens with normal levels, while girls with similarly elevated cortisol levels were only up to four times more likely to develop the condition. The study was paid for by the Wellcome Trust and the results were published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. Experts suggested that cortisol might affect boys and girls differently. “All hormones, including sexual hormones, influence brain function and behaviour,” said D r.

Carmine Pariante, a professor of biological psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. He was not linked to the study. Pariante said the genderspecific hormones—androgen for males and estrogen and progesterone for females—might react differently to cortisol and could explain the difference in risk for teenage boys and girls. Pariante said the saliva test was promising and could help target psychological help such as talk therapy for boys at risk of developing depression. Scientists are increasingly searching for physical markers in the body of psychiatric illnesses instead of relying exclusively on a diagnosis based on a patient consultation. “This gives us a biological model to understand mental health problems the way we understand other medical conditions,” he said, comparing it to how doctors might diagnose a broken leg based on an X-ray or identify heart disease patients based on high blood pressure or cholesterol readings. “It will help us identify patients at risk so we can try to help them as soon as possible.”


Canada is not...

Fed study...

“I don’t think an extra 12 months is unreasonable to ask,” said the minister.

❰❰ 18

confidence in the justice system are similar to those of citizens in other western countries. Such views have remained relatively stable over the last 10 years, even as crime rates have fallen. “Canadians have less confidence that the CJS (criminal justice system) is helping victims of crime,” Fraser concludes. “Canadians also have less confidence in some functions of the courts and corrections system, particularly sentencing practices, providing justice quickly, rehabilitating offenders and releasing the right offenders at the right time.” The report links the poor opinion of Canadians to a “lack of understanding of the specific mandates of courts and corrections,” and says public education is the favoured approach to correcting misperceptions. The Conservative government has made some elements of public opinion the cornerstone of its justice policy, imposing mandatory minimum sentences to remove discretion from judges, and promoting a victims’ charter of rights. “It’s legislation by popular opinion on many complex justice issues,” says MP Francoise Boivin, the NDP’s justice critic. “The way that the Conservatives have been acting on criminal justice bills, it’s been kind of catering to these impressions.” Boivin, a lawyer who once practised criminal law, says the justice system can be improved, especially in its treat-

ment of victims. But Canadians also need to be better educated about the system rather than “just exacerbating their preconceived impressions.” Media reports and the Conservatives’ own claims about criminal justice can distort reality, she said. The Liberal justice critic said he was surprised that public opinion has remained static even as crime rates have fallen. “The empirical evidence in terms of crime rates and rates of re-offence don’t justify the pessimism that appears to exist,” MP Sean Casey, a lawyer, said in an interview from Charlottetown. The Conservative justice agenda, he said, is “playing on perceptions, stereotypes and fears as opposed to the evidence.” The study notes the often-reported phenomenon that much crime goes unreported, but says only about 15 per cent of Canadians decline to report crime because they lack faith in the justice system. “The three primary reasons people report crimes are when they are serious in nature, involve substantial loss or physical injury, or when insurance payments require them to do so,” says the study, citing research on the failure to report many crimes. A spokesman for Justice Canada, Andrew Gowing, said the report was “an opportunity to synthesize existing research on public confidence in the Canadian criminal justice system.” “At this time, no further steps are planned.” ■

“We can start this road revolution in small towns and eventually cover a bigger scale,” Eugenio told the Inquirer. After submitting the petition to the Supreme Court, the participants proceeded to the Senate in Pasay City and filed the people’s initiative to pass the proposed share the roads law.

tion was a “golden opportunity” to help boost efforts to achieve the best air quality possible. In a statement, Paje expressed gratitude to the petitioners for “potentially opening a new chapter in Philippine environmentalism.” He said, “Rest assured that whatever the outcome of the petition, the DENR will continue to strive to attain the best air quality achievable with the help of all the stakeholders, including the petitioners.” ■

❰❰ 23

Immigration at a higher price point

“Does the scrapping of the immigrant investor program target rich Chinese immigrants specifically,” asked one reporter point-blank. The minister answered, “Frankly, we should have suspended this program many years ago and if I have one regret as immigration minister is that I did not have done this before.” According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, data for the past 20 years indicated that the average investor-immigrant paid $200,000 less in taxes than a skilled federal worker, and almost $100,000 less than a live-in caregiver. “We were not getting any economic advantages from it,“ said the minister. However, a replacement program is in the works. “One pilot project Minister Alexander is developing is having economic immigrants at a higher price point, making [the loan] at risk, and having actual investment to support some start-up business that can lead to innovation in Canada and create real jobs. Never again will investors in Canada get a fully guaranteed, no-risk loan. If they want to enjoy the benefits of living in Canada, they have to live here and they want to become citizens, and have a real, at risk investment at an innovative sector,” Mr. Kenney

Minister Jason Kenney

explained. Reeling the employers in

The minister also explained that the government will try to get the support and cooperation of employers and provincial governments through the “expression of interest” pool to attract those individuals whose skills Canada most need. This model follows the programs in other developed countries that are accepting immigrants. “[Their] employers are more involved in choosing their immigrants. In Canada, some of the [new immigrants] go to big cities, can’t get their credentials recognized, they don’t have Canadian experience. They get


underemployed, they work in survival jobs, their skills atrophy and they get frustrated. That is too often the experience here in Canada,” said Mr. Kenney. Immigrants in Australia, for example, earn on average far more than the immigrants in Canada. Through the changes, it is hoped that the value of Canadian citizenship will be protected, while creating a faster and more efficient process for those applying to get it. It is also hoped that with the new laws, those immigrating to Canada will no longer be at the mercy of socio-economic barriers that are preventing them—and Canada—from moving forward. ■

‘Give us’... nila University and San Beda College. Carrying papers with the statement “I support road-sharing,” the participants included women, children, doctors, elderly and persons with disabilities. Some biking enthusiasts “fed up with the country’s traffic congestion, high cost of transportation, noise and air pollution” also joined the activity. A wheelchair-bound elderly man, who carried his dog, took part in the walk. Ateneo law student Clariesse Chan, one of the convenors of ❰❰ 12

the Share the Road Movement, said that the “time for talk is over.” Walkers blocked

Before they filed the petition, the walkers were blocked by police officers who had set up barricades on Padre Faura Street. But the walkers showed the police that what they were waging was a “peaceful revolution.” The group quietly proceeded to the Supreme Court and waited for the flag-raising ceremony to end before some representatives entered the building and filed the petition.

Asked how he saw the implementation of the road-sharing principle in the country, San Beda law student Paolo Burro told the Inquirer that the group was targeting a “slow implementation” of the scheme. “We can start by giving wide, safe and clean walkways for pedestrians,” he said. With these “simple projects,” people will realize the impact that these can do to the streets, Burro said. Ateneo law student Det Eugenio said it was time to show to the people that road-sharing was possible.

Golden opportunity

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje welcomed the filing in the Supreme Court of the writ of kalikasan on road-sharing. Although he was among the respondents, Paje said the peti-

With a report from Jeannette I. Andrade



BSP chief calls for calm in markets

Gov’t unveils suite of poverty reduction measures

Investors urged to watch how economic data unfold

Aquino administration aims to halve number of poor Filipinos

BY PAOLO G. MONTECILLO Philippine Daily Inquirer THE CENTRAL bank has called for calm in financial markets following statements by the United States’ top monetary official emphasizing the need for continued stimulus to support the American economy. This comes amid the continued volatility in financial markets due to jitters over the pace of the tapering of the US Federal Reserve’s monthly bondbuying program. “As expected, Fed Chair (Janet) Yellen emphasized the principles of the continuity of policy, of being data-dependent, and of not having a preset course on policy,” Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. “This means the markets will be well-served if they are circumspect and if they also watch how the economic data unfold.” In her first appearance before US lawmakers earlier this week, Yellen said the US Fed would not make any abrupt changes inmonetary policies in theworld’s biggest economy. She hinted that the Fed would continue cutting its monthly bond-buying program, which

stands at $65 billion from the original $85 billion. But the newly appointed Fed chief added that policies supportive of growth would be maintained until more signs of a stronger recovery become apparent. The Fed’s asset purchases or quantitative easing were introduced in late 2009 to drive interest rates down in support of the American economy. The BSP reported that its gross international reserves, which serve as the last line of defense from external economic shocks, stood at $78.94 billion in January. This was $4.3 billion lower than the $83.17 billion recorded the previous month. The BSP attributed the drop to its foreign exchange operations. Although the BSP allows market forces to determine the peso’s movements, the central bank intervenes in foreign exchange markets from time to time to smoothen out extreme movements in the peso’s value against the dollar. Latest data from the central bank showed that net outflow of foreign investments from the start of the year to Jan. 24 reached $1.13 billion, a stark reversal from the net inflows of $1.19 billion in the same period a year ago. ■

BY MICHELLE V. REMO Philippine Daily Inquirer THE AQUINO administration’s latest poverty reduction roadmap—which provides for more investments in social services, infrastructure and skills training—is expected to halve the number of poor Filipinos in less than a decade. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that under the updated medium-term Philippine Development Plan (PDP), which is set to be released today, the country’s provinces will be divided into three categories. Category 1 under the updated PDP covers highly populated areas with robust commercial activities. Examples are Metro Manila and progressive provinces such as Pangasinan. Balisacan said one antipoverty measure to be implemented in areas under this clasis sification was the conduct of skills training to people from lowincome households so they can take advantage of employment opportunities. Because areas under this category already accommodate more businesses than others, Balisacan said the key to help businesses get the right people

to meet their requirements. Category 2, on the other hand, covers areas with limited opportunity for economic growth because of their smaller population and isolation from centers of commerce, such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This category also covers provinces with great tourism potential, Balisacan said. The major antipoverty measure under this category is the implementation of infrastructure projects that will connect them to commercial centers and make them more accessible to tourists. Category 3, meanwhile, includes areas that are most prone to natural calamities and disasters. Examples are provinces in Eastern Visayas, Balisacan said. Measures to fight poverty in these areas include investments in disaster-resilient infrastructure and programs that will enhance local governments’ capacity to respond to disasters. He noted that disasters, because of the resulting disruption to businesses, have a tendency to pull nonpoor households into poverty.

Balisacan said the strategies under each category were formulated according to what government thinks will have the greatest and most immediate positive impact. “The objective is to accelerate poverty reduction. With the plan, [halving poverty incidence] can be achieved much earlier,” Baliscan told the INQUIRER. He said trimming poverty incidence by half in less than a decade was possible with the successful implementation of the updated PDP, under which economic growth of above 7 percent is expected to be sustained. Balisacan, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), cited the success of other Asian economies in speeding up the pace of poverty reduction. ❱❱ PAGE 46 Gov’t unveils

‘Hot money’ flows out of PH BY PAOLO G. MONTECILLO Philippine Daily Inquirer MOST FOREIGN portfolio investors divested their Philippine interests last month, letting go of holdings of listed shares, government IOUs and time deposits, and took their cash back to the United States. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) yesterday said that sentiment on the Philippines turned sour, reflecting the overall “bearishness” toward emerging markets around the world. This was brought on by the US Federal Reserve’s decision

last January to scale back its massive monthly bondbuying program to give the American economy a chance to stand on its own feet. “Outflows for the month nearly doubled ... as investors started to divert funds back to the United States as the economy exhibited more signs of recovery,” the BSP said in a statement. Foreign portfolio investments, or “hot money,” reversed to a net outflow of $1.8 billion in January from a net inflow of $1.27 billion in the same month last year. This was the biggest monthly outflow on record. Hot money investments are

short-term placements that can be brought in or out of a country with ease. Most are invested in shares listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, government securities, and peso-denominated time deposits. Registered investments in January reached $1.3 billion— less than half the $2.8 billion in gross investments that entered the country the year before. These investments were offset by the $3.1 billion that flowed out of the country last month. The biggest outflow was seen in investments in government securities, where $1.5 billion in cash left the country. Net outflows from listed shares

reached $209 million, while outflows from time deposit stood at $169 million. The United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Luxemburg and Belgium were the top five investor countries of the month, cornering 77.9 percent

of the total. The flow of hot money is the most volatile component in the country’s balance-of-payments position, which is a summary of all transactions between the Philippines and the rest of the world. ■



Canada increases its medal total to 17 with two more silvers at Sochi Olympics The Canadian Press SOCHI, RUSSIA—Canada is still in the mix for the most overall medals at the Sochi Olympics after capturing a pair of silvers on Tuesday, but the leaders may be starting to pull away. Canada’s team has a goal of winning the most medals in Sochi, and silvers from halfpipe skier Mike Riddle and the women’s short-track relay team helped keep the leading Dutch and American teams in sight. But time may be running out, with just five days of competition left. Like Canada, the U.S. will win a medal in women’s hockey, and will likely at least match the Canadian team in men’s hockey and women’s bobsled. Canada could make up a couple of medals in curling, where the men and women’s teams will compete in Wednesday’s semifinals. Neither the Dutch

nor the Americans are factors in those events. Canada can also move closer to a men’s hockey medal when they pay 11th-ranked Latvia in Wednesday’s quarter-finals. Latvia shocked Switzerland 3-1 Tuesday to set up a favourable matchup for the defendingchampion Canadians. Canada has 17 medals (four gold, nine silver, four bronze) through Day 12 of the Games, good for fifth place. The Netherlands and the U.S. each have 20, while host Russia has 19 and Norway 18. Germany leads the gold-medal table with eight. Riddle’s silver increased Canada’s medal count in freestyle skiing to on Olympic-best seven (three gold, three silver, one bronze). The native of Sherwood Park, Alta., overcame wet and snowy conditions at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park to score 90.60 points on his final run. That was bet-

tered only by the 92 scored by David Wise of the United States. “It’s unbelievable,” said Riddle. “I put down a good run in what were difficult conditions. I knew I had a chance.” Riddle said he’d never done the combination that won him the medal—back-to-back double cork 1260. Ski halfpipe is making its Olympic debut in Sochi, thanks in part to the efforts of Canada’s Sarah Burke, who died in a training accident in 2012. “I don’t think we would be here without her,” said Riddle. “Ski halfpipe has got to where it is because of her.” While Canada’s freestyle ski team has exceeded expectations in Sochi, its short-track speedskating team has been a disappointment. The women’s 3,000-metre relay team won just the second short-track medal for Canada at the Sochi Games with Marie-

Eve Drolet of Chicoutimi, Que., Jessica Hewitt of Kamloops, B.C., Valerie Maltais of Le Baie, Que., Marianne St-Gelais of St. Felicien, Que., and Jessica Gregg of Edmonton finishing second behind South Korea. Silver seems to be Canada’s destiny lately at the Games, with the women being bumped up from third to second place after China was disqualified for not clearing the track fast enough after passing the baton. It was a welcome result for Canada’s team, which seemed poised for a medal haul after Charles Hamelin won gold in the men’s 1,500 metres early on but has suffered bad luck since. “The medal helps take away some of the pain,” St-Gelais said. The result came after Hamelin fell in qualifying in the men’s 500, an event in which he was the defending champion. Canada may yet win another medal in short-track, as Mal-

tais advanced out of the heats of the women’s 1,000 metres with an Olympic-record time of one minute 28.771 seconds. Canada is also poised for a medal in women’s bobsled, with Calgary’s Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., sitting in second place after two runs. The defending Olympic champions are solidly in medal contention, though they have a lot to do in Wednesday’s final two runs as they trail the American sled of Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams by 0.23 seconds. “We don’t really look at times so I don’t even know how big the gap is,” Humphries said. “And we don’t want to know. “Heather and I go in and focus on ourselves. I have no idea how anyone else did, how their runs were. We stick to us.” “We just try to have fun,” she added. “Knowing where other people are just complicates that.” ■





(MARCH 21 - APRIL 19)

(JUNE 22 - JULY 22)

(SEPT 23 - OCT 22)

(DEC 22 - JAN 19)

The hard work and good business sense that you’ve put into your job may finally be paying off, Aries. Expect some positive changes to take place at the workplace this week. Today you’re likely to be feeling especially energetic and decide to give your house a thorough cleaning. Don’t try to do this on your own, however. You need to conserve your energy. Get other members of your household to help!

Expect a lot of letters and phone calls from lovers, close friends, or children today, Cancer. You might also want to make a few yourself. Some positive and interesting information may have come your way that you’ll want to share with those close to you. You’ll want to make sure that you remember whatever it is you learn today, Cancer, as it could prove valuable in the future.

Your intuition, physical and intellectual energy, and insight are at an all-time high today, Libra. You’ll probably want to spend much of the day alone, reflecting on your ideas and deciding how you want to put them to work for you. At some point, you may want to put your thoughts in writing. You could also tune in more strongly than usual to the thoughts and feelings of others.

You’re very intuitive by nature, Capricorn, and today you should be feeling especially so. Don’t be surprised if you spontaneously tune in to the ideas and emotions of those around you, or even if you and someone else come up with the same words at the same time. Use your insights. You might also find that they bring artistic inspiration and even advance your worldly ambitions.





(APRIL 20 - MAY 20)

(JULY 23 - AUGUST 22)

(OCT 23 - NOV 21)

(JAN 20 - FEB 18)

Insights that may come welling up from the past could be put to work for you in a positive way, Taurus. You could use them as inspiration for a creative project of some kind, or you could just make them work for you in your day-to-day dealings with others. You should be feeling especially romantic and sexy today. Relations with lovers should be close and passionate.

Studying some paperwork involving your finances could bring a pleasant surprise. You’re better off than you thought, Leo! Dividends or benefits of some kind might be forthcoming. You could decide to treat yourself, buy some gifts for your family, or perhaps do some work on your home. Do take care to avoid impulse buying. You don’t want your funds to disappear as quickly as they came!

You could well be bubbling over with physical energy today, Scorpio. You might want to spend your day visiting with friends. You could pick up some interesting information from them, which you might be able to put to work for you. You could lay plans for finally attaining a long-term goal; perhaps a lucky break made this possible. Expect to spend most of your day talking and planning!

This should be one of those days when you feel as if you could conquer the world. You feel strong and determined, Aquarius, and willing to do whatever it takes to get wherever you want to be. A goal could be attained at this time, ambitions realized, or perhaps a lucky break could come your way. This is an excellent day to seek a new job, ask for a raise, or make a favorite project a success.





(MAY 21 - JUNE 21)

(AUG 23 - SEPT 22)

(NOV 22 - DEC 21)

(FEB 19 - MAR 20)

Your home might need some work today, Gemini. This might simply involve a thorough cleaning, or it could mean major repairs of some sort, perhaps plumbing or electrical. If the latter, it isn’t a good idea to try to do this yourself. There could be factors involved that are more complicated than they seem. Don’t be afraid to call in a professional.

Today some information might come your way that inspires you to come up with some valuable new ideas, Virgo. Your own intuitive faculties are operating at a very high level, and therefore your insights could prove valuable. Make sure you cover every possible contingency. This knowledge could be used to advance your own career and financial interests, so you may want to spend an hour or two writing down your thoughts.

Visitors in your home, perhaps invited by others in your household, could put a crimp in your desire to be alone and hash out your thoughts today, Sagittarius. Your mind is sharp and ideas should come thick and fast. Don’t get so irritated with the situation at home that you sabotage your plans. You might want to go off somewhere by yourself, possibly to simply sequester yourself in your own room.

A business or love partner could bring opportunities for advancement your way today, Pisces. You may decide to draft or execute legal papers that could be very important to your future. Romance looks promising today. Your confidence and enthusiasm are showing in your face and could make you seem more attractive than usual. In the evening, plan an intimate celebration!




Friendly residents, colourful customs make Myanmar a unique destination BY TAMSYN BURGMANN The Canadian Press MANDALAY, MYANMAR— Jumping bumps and swerving around potholes, two dusty Canadians motorbiking toward an ancient spirit festival just up the road from Mandalay are practically greeted by a welcoming committee. Burmese women with cherubic cheeks smeared golden with ground-bark makeup rattle shiny silver pots. A boy of about 10 nearly tumbles into the road, teetering on one foot to score high-fives from the scooting passersby. Plastic-horn blasts herald their arrival among the throngs. Coconut-coated sweets are gifted by cross-legged hawkers with Libra scales. A whirlwind of neon scarves sweeps the duo into a crush of hugs and flying roses and frenzied ceremonial dancing. A photo-snapping duel ensues. Locals, who’ve congregated this steamy afternoon to party hard in the tiny village smack dab in the centre of Myanmar, are curious and elated by their alien visitors. “What country you come from?” is the common icebreaker. It’s the reception foreign travellers often get. Shuttered for 50 years until recently by a repressive military regime, the Southeast Asian country also known as Burma is a quirky tapestry of huge-hearted people yearning to connect with the rest of the planet. Though the rapidly reforming nation likely still seems a dauntingly elusive destination from the vantage point of Joe Canadian, that perception appears to be changing owing

to spreading word-of-mouth about truly unique sojourns. “Everything is really as if it’s locked in a time capsule,” said Karen Butler, a long-time Toronto resident who journeyed through Myanmar for three weeks in January. “People approach very openly. They want to speak with you. They want to practise their English. They are really interested in asking questions about you and the outside world. They’re very friendly, very smiley.” It’s now been more than three years since the country that shares many climate and cultural similarities with neighbouring Thailand opened its polls and released from house arrest Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The government’s reforms won it improved ties with Western countries, jump-starting tourism. More than one million foreigners visited Myanmar in a single year for the first time in 2012, according to the country’s hotels and tourism ministry. Among them, 6,485 were Canadian. Finally on the map, the number of visits to Myanmar is expected to keep climbing. Friction between the moving parts of an entire society being rejigged, however, is already changing the nation, both for better and for worse. Hence why sooner rather than later is best to high-tail it to the luscious land of rice paddies and the mighty Irrawaddy River, equally replete with pagodas gleaming like gold thimbles when seen from the sky and omnipresent Buddhist monks wrapped in maroon robes. Indiana Jones’-sized courage is not required. Despite the lack of infrastructure and a well-needed deep clean, with

just a few preparatory steps, such as a visa, the right money and necessary immunizations, Myanmar’s must-sees can be journeyed to safely and in relative comfort. Two billboards, erected side by side outside Yangon’s airport, simultaneously advertise the country’s popular Myanmar Beer—”Warmly welcome our country, our brand”—and state in stark lettering: “Drug offense is a serious crime and it can get the death penalty.” There are definite rules to be followed here, but if visitors abide by them (such as by staying only at designated guesthouses) their holiday will be smooth and intoxicating. They’ll experience colourful customs (double-smooch the sky to get service), a strong activist subculture (political cartoons have a long history) and cuisine representing Myanmar’s vast ethnic diversity (point-to-pick Shan joints, wild-gathered Kachin salads, Burmese noodle soups). The pulse of progress is strongest in modernizing Yangon, a wacky city with cabbies driving cars with the steering wheel on the wrong side, vendors dangling Aung San Suu Kyi T-shirts and chi-chi shisha bars frequented by the children of infamous cronies. Purchase handicrafts and traditional longyi sarongs in the labyrinthine Bogyoke Aung San (Scott) market, stroll in daytime around the hoard of treasure that is 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda and join the crowd gorging on skewers of barbecued meat for dinner on 19th Street. Travellers’ next move should involve either busing or flying to Mandalay, another former capital, where historic sites worthy of lengthy queues can

Ancient temple in Myanmar.

instead be enjoyed in princely peace. Run fingers along 1,774 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist text—dubbed the world’s largest book—and climb barefoot up Mandalay Hill to reach a breathtaking panorama. Many visitors avoid the imposing palace compound, which was reconstructed by forced labour in the early 1990s. Onwards comes the choice of tried-and-true route via sea or air to the archeological ruins in Bagan—an awesome moonscape of countless crumbling temples explored by foot or hot-air balloon—and then touristy Inle Lake. For the more adventurous, trekking in the mountains around the Shan state towns of Hsipaw, Kalaw and the little-visited Kyaukme offers stunning vistas and profound cultural encounters. Travellers seeking serenity on their own terms might also

fly to the northernmost accessible city of Myitkyina, not dangerous though located in conflict-ridden Kachin state. It’s also the jumping-off point to Indawgyi Lake—open to foreigners but rarely visited. Late summer, the view overlooking the irrepressible Irrawaddy River from open-air Jingpo Duu restaurant is a dreamscape of wispy mashedpotato clouds just eclipsing distant mountains. Two temples shine like new pennies on the opposite shore. Tourists would pay a premium for such picture-perfect dining in Canada, suggests resident John Sanlin. “Not here. This is not like Yangon. There are no traffic jams,” he says, gesturing across the river. “If you have time, go to the frontlines. Sleep with the soldiers. One candle, then bed.” Hospitality right to the finish. ■



Russian bathhouse traditions live on in the Sochi region during the Olympics BY TAMSYN BURGMANN The Canadian Press KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA—”What's the score?” asks Svetlana Fedorenko as she enters a bathhouse in the Caucasus Mountains with her husband and friends: The U.S.Russia hockey game was on, and most of the country was glued to a television. A few miles away from the ski slopes of Krasnaya Polyana, where athletes are competing for Olympic medals, an outdoor bathhouse called British Banya is attracting visitors. Russians feel so strongly about the banya, a ritual of sweating it all out in a steam room and whipping each other with bunches of leafy branches, that even a crucial game between the old rivals can't stand in the way of this weekend tradition. Bathhouse master Ivan Tkach starts his preparations late in the afternoon, at least three hours before the bathing party arrives. He chops the wood, heats up the stove in one room, builds a fire for the Native American sweat lodge, and ignites the blaze beneath a Japanese hot tub, which swings on chains from wooden poles. “The most important thing about the banya is to have a good spirit in the body,” Tkach explains. “When people come to the bathhouse, it is not only about warming up the body, but more importantly about relaxing, getting the toxins out of the body, and, psychologically, leaving the worries behind.” The banya is an institution in Russia. It's a place where businessmen deals have been struck and romantic comedies have been set. Russians even have a special greeting for each other as they emerge: “Happy light steam!” The bathhouse traditions go way back. One of the earliest and most vivid mentions of the banya in Russia chronicles Princess Olga in the late 10th century avenging her husband's death by inviting his killer's emissaries to have a bath

Go for the food: How to do fine dining with a view of Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans BY TAMSYN BURGMANN The Canadian Press

Interior of a traditional Russian bathhouse

in Kyiv. She then set fire to the bathhouse while they were enjoying themselves inside. Russian bathhouse owners are more welcoming these days. Tatyana Larkin has been running the British Banya for seven years since moving from Moscow to start a business of her own. The 46-year-old entrepreneur says she's been a fan of the banya for so long that “when I faced the choice of what to do next, I didn't have that many options.” Larkin says Krasnaya Polyana is the ideal place for a bathhouse. “People come here for a vacation, they ski, they need to have something to do,” she says. Larkin describes her bathhouse as an “interactive museum of bathhouse art.” Its name was inspired by a visit to the British Museum in London, where she was struck to see a sprawling collection of exhibits from around the globe. “Our grounds are, of course, not as big as to present the entire collection of bathhouse traditions across the world, but we've tried our best to display the key points so that people can find out about them,” she says. One of the highlights of this bathhouse is a Native American sweat lodge, a narrow hut that consists of a frame covered with layers of thick felt. A bathhouse master puts hot stones in the

middle of the hut, pours water on it, and lets the people sitting around it enjoy the steam. Bathhouse master Ivan Tkach is worried: The bathing party is still lounging in the aroma-therapy room, tarrying over tea. “We're losing steam,” Tkach complains to a colleague. “Can't they understand?” The steam room is the pinnacle of a Russian bathhouse experience. Tkach, who has been heating up the stove for hours, is afraid the guests will feel that the steam “has died out.” Valery Fedorenko, a 48-yearold businessman from Krasnodar, comes out of the aroma room with a red towel around his hips and a woolen hat on his head. It's a chilly evening and the steam is evaporating from his shoulders. For Fedorenko, the weekly bathhouse visit is “about recreation, health, the joy of friendship, life and longevity.” He is in Sochi to see the Olympics, but he had to quit watching the hockey game in his hotel room to make time for his weekly bathhouse appointment—the one thing in his planner that he never misses. Fedorenko says he has been teaching his four children, aged 4 to 27, to make the weekend bathhouse visit a must. “They all do it. All my friends come over and we go in together,” he says. “You can't compare it to anything else.” ■

NEW ORLEANS—VISITING New Orleans for Mardi Gras season? You'll find pizza, hot dog stands and rolling carts of cotton candy galore along the parade routes, but some of the city's finest fare can also be consumed along St. Charles Avenue, the main drag for the biggest and glitziest star-studded processions of Carnival. Some restaurants even have grandstands that put viewers at eye level with floats and just above the throngs of street revelers jockeying for beads with outstretched arms. Herbsaint, a French bistrostyle restaurant on St. Charles near the middle of the parade route, offers viewing spots for diners from its grandstands for $35 to $50, depending on the night, but also has dining-room windows fronting the route. “I can't think of too many spaces where you can actually sit in a restaurant and have that nice bottle of burgundy, that nice meal, and then just sit there and just watch the parades go by,” said chef and owner Donald Link. “It's a neat experience.” Link said this will be the restaurant's 14th Mardi Gras, and after experimenting with buffets, special menus and scaledback menus, what works best is regular dinner service inside with the option of stand-viewing outside. That means the opportunity to indulge in Herbsaint standards like duck confit and dirty rice, beef short ribs

with potato cakes and gumbo— all while taking in the Carnival revelry. “We serve our wine in the right glasses, and nothing changes,” Link said. “It's the experience you want to come here for any night of the year.” Like several restaurants, Herbsaint is closed on Mardi Gras (March 4 this year), but most downtown parades happen in the days and weeks before the holiday. Zulu, Rex and two other clubs, known as krewes, parade on Carnival day. More than 30 others are scheduled from Feb. 21 through Lundi Gras, the Monday before Mardi Gras, including the starstudded Bacchus, Endymion, Muses and Orpheus parades. “It's a busy time for us, but it's a fun time,” said Anthony Scanio, chef de cuisine at Emeril's Delmonico, which is owned by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and is also located along the St. Charles route. There, patrons can watch parades from the main dining area while enjoying a fine meal with some Carnival-inspired touches, like a Mardi Gras “king's cup” cocktail and king cake doughnuts sprinkled with Carnival colours of purple, green and gold. The menu also includes Louisiana delicacies like spicy cream cheese boudin (sausage) balls, chicken and andouille gumbo and veal braciolone with spaghetti and New Orleans red gravy. The Brennan family-owned Palace Cafe, which is toward the end of the route where St. Charles turns onto Canal Street, offers fine dining with three levels of parade views. ■


FEBRUARY 21, 2014

What Is My Automobile Injury Claim Worth? A 28 year old nurse who I represented last year was involved in a car accident. She and her parents came to see me 3 months after the accident. The insurance company had offered the young nurse $5,000 dollars to settle her claim. The young lady’s parents wanted to know if she should accept the offer. I answered this family’s questions with my own question in return: “Are you feeling 100% better?” The young nurse looked at me and shook her head. She explained that she was having headaches and that she had returned to work because she feared for her job. She had only been with the hospital for 6 months and she did not feel that she could take any more sick days. After the young lady told me her situation, I immediately advised her that she should not accept the settlement offer. An important thing for an injury claimant to understand is that when you accept a settlement—it is final. If you settle a claim you cannot re-open it at a later date—even if you do not re-

Rob Ford... to attend this year’s World Pride parade hosted by Toronto, Ford said: “I’ve never been to a pride parade. So I’m not going to change the way I am.” Doug Ford has said he went to the parade once with his children, though he wouldn’t again, as he described it as an event where “middle-aged men with pot bellies” ran down the street “buck naked.” “I think it’s good for tourism,” Doug Ford said on the YouTube show. “But don’t try to put a gun to anyone’s head that disagrees with you. It doesn’t mean that they hate gays.” Rob Ford chimed in by saying “it’s ridiculous,” but his brother was not finished. “It’s just a bunch of bullying, a bunch of bullies coming after you,” Doug Ford said. “The gay community feels like they’ve been bullied and rightfully so because a lot of times they have, Rob. But don’t come back and try to bully the people that don’t show up and call them homophobic.” Doug Ford also asked rhetori❰❰ 18

cover. Furthermore, returning to work does not stop you from advancing an income loss claim for the future. The law compensates all kinds of future losses. Things like reduced hours, light duties and/or loss of promotion are all compensable. In the case of our young nurse, she remained on light duties for a substantial period of time. Furthermore, due to her condition, she stopped accepting lucrative overtime shifts, which impacted her income. Because the accident contributed to my client’s reduced income, she was entitled to compensation for both past and future losses. When the claim ultimately settled, I am

proud to say that the nurse received $140,000. Over 25 times the original offer! If you or your family are involved in an accident—do not be afraid to ask the simple question— What is my claim worth? ■ The author, Joel Zanatta, is the managing partner of Hammerberg Lawyers, one of Vancouver’s foremost law firms specializing in personal injury and ICBC claims. Joel and his team of lawyers have represented thousands of injury victims throughout British Columbia. Questions? Call 604 269 8500 ext. 126 or email


cally, “Do you know how many gay friends that we have?” Rob Ford, who lost most of his mayoral powers late last year after admitting he’d smoked crack cocaine while in office, and his brother used most of the other videos in Tuesday’s series to go after city councillors and other opponents. Doug Ford referred to all but a handful of councillors as “a bunch of yahoos.” The mayor said he was going to list the top 10 Toronto councillors he wanted to see defeated in October’s municipal elections, but added more names along the way and proceeded to name 18. “These people have gone out of their way to, I personally think, ruin Toronto, increase taxes, strip me of my powers and you know what? It’s time to put up or shut up,” Rob Ford said. “They wanted the war, they’re going to get the war,” he said, echoing a previous battle cry he made after city council removed several of his powers—a move he compared to the invasion of Kuwait. ■

Have you been in a car accident? Know your rights. You have rights, entitlements, and choices with your ICBC claim and should never be told differently. Joel leads our team of personal injury lawyers. They’ve worked successfully on thousands of files winning significant settlements for people just like you. We will help resolve your claim comfortably and get you the time you need to recover fully before returning to work. We provide a translator and also welcome your enquires at no cost to you.




1220–1200 73 Avenue West, Airport Square, Vancouver 604-269-8500 Joel Zanatta, Partner




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FEBRUARY 21, 2014


Publisher Philippine Canadian Inquirer Editor Melissa Remulla-Briones Associate Editor Laarni de Paula

Healthier living starts at church North Vancouver church hopes to encourage healthier living in Filipino community, starting at home

Correspondents Gigi Astudillo Angie Duarte Katherine Marfal Frances Grace Quiddaoen Ching Dee Socorro Newland Graphic Designer Victoria Yong

BY SARAH CASIMONG Special to Philippine Canadian Inquirer LEARNING THAT you are at risk of weight-related diseases when you thought you were healthy can be a lot to stomach. New Life Alliance Church of North Vancouver recently discovered that the majority of its members—mostly Filipino— are heavier than their ideal weight and now they want to make some changes. This year the church put on a heart health-themed Valentine’s Day celebration to raise awareness about heart disease. Church nurses ran a booth that measured the height, weight and waist circumference of individuals to predict those at risk of heart disease and diabetes. They used height and weight to measure the body mass index (BMI), and calculated the waist-to-height ratio to determine any health problems church individuals may be in danger of facing. Shiela Estuye, a kidney dialysis nurse who was behind the heart-health booth, compared results from both forms of measurement and found that more than half of the individuals who were measured fell under the overweight or obese category. Estuye has no doubts that a sedentary lifestyle and the Filipino diet are partly responsible for these statistics. For Filipinos, who count on white rice as the staple of their diet and serve meats

that are high in saturated fats, there is a higher risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. But the same food that is putting the health of Filipino Canadians at risk is what brings them together. Traditional food is often at the centre of many celebrations and gatherings—and church is no exception. Every week after the pastor's sermon, New Life Alliance Church members stay for lunch, provided by different assigned members every week. On the table is always an array of everyday Filipino favourites: chicken adobo, sinigang with beef, pork, pandesal, the occasional salad with dressing—and of course, the all-important steamed white rice. A healthier diet does not require these foods to be cut out completely, but portion control and substitutions can make a difference. Angel Luk, registered dietitian and founder of FoodMysteries, recommends cutting down on fat intake— only 30-45 mL per day—and sticking to healthier fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—found in fish, nuts, vegetable oil and non-hydrogenated margarine. “Butter, lard and shortening are delicious, but they raise our [unhealthy] cholesterol levels so use these sparingly and limit them to special recipes or occasions,” Luk said. And although rice is the predominant food for Filipinos, carbs should

only make up one-quarter of your meal, Luk said. "Choose whole grain varieties whenever possible and limit white, refined grain products." Another important tip: Pay attention to portion sizes. "Eating a huge portion of a lower-fat dish doesn't make it any healthier than eating a small portion of a higher-fat dish," Luk warned. To see the church’s measurements go down to the normal range, Reverend Cres Casimong is starting a sermon series on healthier living from a biblical point of view. Next month, they are starting The Daniel Plan, a program coauthored by Rick Warren, which incorporates faith, food, friends and fitness for health in all areas of life. "In the long-term we are hoping to correct those [above healthy range] statistics and get them back to where they should be,” Reverend Casimong said. He admits there will be challenges, but is hoping that the sense of community will be a benefit. “It’s harder for us [Filipinos] to change [our habits] in a way, because our food and diet is not healthy. Individually, it’s going to be very difficult, but with a support group, together, we can help each other.” The church is planning to track the progress of its members to see if there have been any significant changes to their BMI and waist measurements by the end of 2014. ■

Gov’t unveils... “Experiences of other countries would show how poverty reduction accelerated as they kept a fast pace of economic growth,” he said. The Philippines recently became one of the fastest growing economies in Asia after its economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent last year. Despite this, the country continued to have one ❰❰ 40

of the highest poverty rates in the region at 25.2 percent in 2012. Balisacan said the antipoverty roadmap should help make the country’s growth inclusive, or felt by the majority of the population. Meantime, Balisacan said the government would augment the budget for the conditional transfer program (CCT), which is implemented across the coun-

try to lift more households out of poverty. Under the CCT, the government grants cash subsidies to the poorest households. Household beneficiaries are required to send children to public schools, and the mothers and their children to public health centers for regular checkups in exchange for cash. ■

Photographers Angelo Siglos Danvic Briones Operations and Marketing Head Laarni de Paula (604) 551-3360 Advertising Sales Alice Yong (778) 889-3518 Antonio Tampus (604) 460-9414 PHILIPPINE PUBLISHING GROUP Editorial Assistant Phoebe Casin Graphic Designer Shanice Garcia Associate Publisher Lurisa Villanueva In cooperation with the Philippine Daily Inquirer digital edition Philippine Canadian Inquirer is located at 400-13955 Bridgeport Rd., Richmond, BC V6V 1J6 Canada Tel. No.: 1-888-668-6059 or 778-8893518 | Email: info@canadianinquirer. net,, sales@ Philippine Canadian Inquirer is published weekly every Friday. Copies are distributed free throughout Metro Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto. The views and opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors named, and are not necessarily those of Philippine Canadian Inquirer Editorial Team. Member


FEBRUARY 21, 2014


Philippine Canadian Inquirer Issue #103  
Philippine Canadian Inquirer Issue #103