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PHILIPPINES

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By ping galang

ESSE Robredo’s credentials, like those of many others who had risen to positions of leadership before him, look pretty “ordinary”: he did well in school, worked hard and rose to responsible positions in a reputable corporation, and clawed his way to victory in hard-fought elections. However, Robredo distinguished himself from the rest because of his different style of leadership. He led not by a naked exercise of power and influence but by taking a close look at what his constituents wanted and needed, and finding ways to satisfy those wants and needs. Academics have recognized this shift in focus in favor of the attending to the followers’ needs as opposed to the old notion that leaders always had the prerogative to impose their wishes on the people. “It was presumed until only recently that leaders should dominate and followers defer,” points out Public Leadership lecturer Barbara Kellerman of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in her recently published book, The End of Leadership. Kellerman says: “Leaders were generally expected to tell followers what to do, and followers were generally expected to do as they were told. No longer.” Followers now are “far sturdier than they used to be, stronger and more independent,” and leaders, at least in an ideal situation, are “supposed to suggest or recommend that their followers follow, not order them to do so,” the Harvard lecturer further says. This shift in the balance of power between leaders and followers— with leaders becoming weaker and followers stronger—is the result of cultural evolution and technological revolution, adds Kellerman.

Pro-people leadership This point is being raised in search of an explanation to the kind of pro-people leadership that Jesse Robredo pursued. Was it instilled by Kellerman during his days at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government—where Robredo worked on his Masters in Public Administration, and where Kellerman is currently the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership? That looks unlikely. Robredo was at Harvard in 1999 and at the time Kellerman was director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Leadership at the Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland. Kellerman moved to the Kennedy School only in 2000 after

Robredo institutionalized the participation of NGOs and people’s organizations in all official discussions of Naga City’s policies and projects.

JESSE ROBREDO’ S STYLE OF LEADERSHIP

HE LED BY FOLLOWING

Academics have recognized the shift in focus in favor of the attending to the followers’ needs as opposed to the old notion that leaders always had the prerogative to impose their wishes on the people.

being named founding executive director of the School’s Center for Public Leadership. Besides, when Robredo, who had completed in the mid-1980s a graduate program in business administration at the University of the Philippines even while working at San Miguel Corp.’s Magnolia Dairy Products unit, enrolled at Harvard for his masters, he had just completed his first three terms as mayor of Naga, by which time he had already earned numerous plaudits for his revolutionary governance style. In putting the interest of his followers in Naga ahead of those of the leaders, Robredo moved for the institutionalization of the participation of NGOs and people’s organizations in all official discussions of the city’s policies and projects. He initiated programs that cemented partnerships with the poor so that they would eventually acquire their own land and houses. Also quite importantly, Robredo introduced a merit-based system in staffing City Hall and solved the crippling traffic problem in the city center, a move that proved crucial to attracting investment into the city. Those were only some of the big tasks Robredo handled and on which he delivered big results. There were others which, at least to some people, may look “minor”—like sweeping streets in Naga himself even when he was already mayor, or replacing busted light bulbs on posts along major roads.

Pursuing reforms It was difficult at first to pursue reforms. Robredo recalled during his response after being conferred the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service: “Important political benefactors, whose interests ran contrary to our reform agenda, disowned us. Businessmen who were my friends but were af-


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fected by the city’s honest-to-goodness tax collection campaign questioned our intentions and loyalties.” But the people of Naga rallied behind Robredo, who stood his ground against corruption and patronage politics. “They rejected dirty politics and shunned manipulations by those who have power and money. Instead they demanded for more efficient services and organized themselves into proactive sectoral groups not only as a means of extending influence but more importantly as a tool for developing themselves into responsive citizens who were sincerely involved in public affairs.” His desire to serve the people grew out of an outrage over the Marcos-era murder of the char-

ismatic Benigno Aquino Jr. Robredo committed to a kind of politics that was the opposite of what he saw during the martial law regime, one skewed more towards caring for his people—not exploiting them. Ninoy’s assassination so affected Robredo that he joined the mammoth crowds that lined up to view Aquino’s body and pay respects to the fallen leader. As pointed out in the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation archives, Robredo even managed to talk briefly with the widow Cory Aquino during the wake. He also joined the funeral march later—and the throng that jammed EDSA during the People Power Revolt of 1986. The assassination of Senator



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Robredo holds a dialogue with Manobos from Agusan del Sur. Aquino, plus the sudden gush of contradiction that he felt in working for a company that at the time was controlled by a known Marcos crony, apparently stirred something in Robredo. It was during this period that he became interested in working in government to serve the Filipino people. When Cory Aquino became president, Robre-

do was appointed program director of the newly created Bicol River Basin Development Program, leaving his high-paying job in the private sector.

The science of governance Robredo also aligned his city with the similarly trailblazing Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) that was started in 2000 by Jesus Estanislao, finance secretary during the Cory Aquino presidency, as a vehicle for post-Marcos governance reforms that focused on local government units. The strategic importance of lo-

cal governance at that juncture was highlighted by the fact that more than half of the Philippine population lived in cities, said Estanislao. ISA introduced the Performance Governance System (PGS) management tool in 2004 to a pioneer group of eight cities, including Robredo’s Naga. “With our guidance, they crafted City Road Maps. They formed multi-sectoral coalitions, made up of leaders from various sectors of their city who would contribute to meeting the targets they set,” said Estanislao. With the active participation of private citizens, the cities started implementing their development strategy, tracking it regularly, and measuring the city’s performance using scorecards. At the time of his passing, Robredo was a member of ISA’s board of trustees. Many of his ideas on good governance are certain to serve as guides for local government leaders for a long time to come. In leadership mentor Kellerman’s view, there are two qualities that characterize good leaders: “ethical and effective.” Without a doubt, Jesse Robredo was both. (GMA News) n

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NUTRITIOUS PINOY STAPLES GAINING GLOBAL RECOGNITION

Natural ingredients - derived from crops and plants that are indigenous to our soil and climatic conditions – are gaining growing acceptance the world over. Filipino entrepreneurs should grab the opportunity now that the world market is turning green.

Achuete, which is grown abundantly locally, is a natural red colorant for food and drinks, and for cosmetics, hair, and skin products. By joel paredes

RESIDENT Aquino must have thought of natural ingredients as one of the factors that would boost Philippine farming when he delivered a fitting tribute to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala in his 3rd state of the nation address (SONA) on July 23. Indeed, Alcala has been talking about pump priming the natural ingredients industry even as he grapples with the great task of securing food sufficiency by the yearend of 2013. The good secretary is talking not only of rice, other nutritious staples like cardaba and cassava, and that natural ally of everyone’s heart— banana—but also of vegetables, natural ingredients and everything else that comes from the topsoil to support this country of nearly 100 million. Now, he is keen on listening to reports about the potentials of the natural ingredients industry, a sector of the farming industry that had been silently raising revenues for the past decade or so. One thing going for the natural ingredients sector is that it requires only basic manufacturing processes and overhead costs are far less than what other industries have to endure. However, Alcala is concerned about how the industry could be sustained and how imports for the health and wellness products could be reduced and eventually eliminated.

Window of opportunity

Sunflower plants, such as these ones in a farm in Davao, have a lot of health benefits. Its seeds and oil are said to help prevent heart diseases as well as help keep the skin moisturized.

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“It’s actually being looked at now (by government) because it provides an opportunity to our farmers for additional income, particularly those in the uplands,” says Dr. Candida Adalla, program director of the Department of Agriculture’s Biotech Implementation Unit (DA-BIU). Adalla says there is a niche for natural ingredients the world over and it becomes a matter of duty for Filipino entrepreneurs to go for

it, particularly now that the world market is turning green. Two of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have prioritized the development of natural ingredients for their medicines, but they have so far only focused on lagundi, now a popular medicine for cough. Natural ingredients, Adalla adds, are derived from crops and plants that are indigenous to our soil and climatic conditions and even from plants that could be introduced and produced in substantial volumes. These crops and plants are easy to manage and require minimum inputs. However, the wellness market is still surprisingly dependent on imports, with essential oils used in spas coming from China, India, and Vietnam. For instance, turmeric, which is known as luyang dilaw and has become popular as an herbal supplement, is imported from India when this can be grown locally without local its efficacy. Unfortunately, the country’s biggest food ingredient company still imports 8,000 metric tons (MT) of tamarind for its sampaloc broth when the tree grows practically everywhere and is standard fare for regional dishes.

A good start Adalla stresses that her office has undertaken a study with Hybridgim Consulting, Inc. on how to capitalize on global demand for


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Two of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have focused on lagundi, now a popular medicine for cough. Philippine ingredients and found out that the country can join the bandwagon and even join the lead pack. “The result of that study showed there is a big market, a global market, for natural ingredients,” she adds. As proof of this, the study said the industry has been growing over the past few years “as it responds to shifting consumer trends and new market opportunities.” Pharmaceutical ingredients have already created niches, with demand for new product categories such as “nutraceuticals” and “cosmeceuticals” stronger than expected. The global market for natural ingredients was even forecast to reach $18 billion by 2013. The global market for cosmetics that use ingredients which confer health or wellness benefits were projected to grow by 8.1 per cent, with the demand for the ingredients outstripping the demand for products. Now, there’s also less emphasis on essential oils and aroma chemicals, with research and development (R&D) by ingredients companies leading to the shift. In the last three decades, there had been substantial growth in herbal medicine market globally. Today, 80 per cent of the people in developing countries reportedly rely on plant-based products for health care that are widely available

“The result of that study showed there is a big market, a global market, for natural ingredients,” she adds. and more affordable.

Big returns As the seventh most biodiverse country in the world, the Philippines has the inherent capacity to produce and trade these ingredients, the study reported. By harnessing biodiversity, the door is wide open for a more intensive exploitation of the great potential of medicinal plants, functional foods, natural food dyes, tropical fruit flavors, and essential oils. In 2006, the study noted that Philippine share in natural products was US$400 million, with virgin coconut oil (VCO) cornering threefourths of the market. VCO is used as a food supplement and cosmetic ingredient. Apart from VCO, the list of top plants that are commonly used included banaba, lagundi, ampalaya and malunggay (or moringa). Based on the DA-Hybridgim study, Adalla says they have pre-



PHILIPPINES

pared a road map that aims to catalyze the development of natural ingredients industry for at least three priority species within five years. This road map intends to put the Philippines firmly as a major player in the world’s natural ingredients industry. Among the ingredients that can be harnessed are the essential oil from citronella which is the ingredient for insect repellant products and crop protection inputs, along with its use as scents for soaps, lotions, air fresheners and cosmetics. Another is the essential oil from annatto (atswete), which is a natural red colorant for food and beverages, and for cosmetics, hair and skin products. Tu r m e r i c , too, can be developed, with the oil being used for pharmaceutical purposes, particularly for treatment of liver diseases and other abdominal ailments. This is apart from turmeric’s being a natural

yellow-orange colorant for food, beverage and animal feed and as a powder for culinary use. The roadmap intends to support all sectors involved in the value chain, from the growers and producers to the manufacturers. It outlines the formation of new cluster of bio-based industries that compromise of farming, bio-inputs, bio-processing and manufacturing, resulting in additional job and livelihood opportunities for people living in the countryside. Farming for natural ingredients can also develop idle and unpro-

SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

ductive agricultural lands. Secretary Alcala has been “very receptive and is very interested” in developing the natural ingredients, according to Adalla. If their plans push through, the DA is confident that within the next three years they can develop a vibrant natural ingredients industry. Adalla doesn’t see any problem in promoting natural ingredients among farmers. “The farmer will always plant whatever (is offered) as long as there is a market,” she concludes. (InterAksyon.com) n


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PHILIPPINES

By floyd whaley The New York Times

A N I L A — In the upscale business district of Manila, a midweek crowd spills out into the street. The New York-themed Borough restaurant is pulsating to the beat of a Bon Jovi song, while young, hip Filipinos take shots of tequila from a passing tray and sing in unison. “Whoa-oh, we’re halfway there!” the crowd sings. “Whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer!” The revelers have reason to celebrate. Times are pretty good in the Philippines if you are young, skilled and live in the city. Young urban workers are helping to give the country its brightest prospects in decades, economists say. With $70 billion in reserves and lower interest payments on its debt after recent credit rating upgrades, the Philippines pledged $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund to help shore up the struggling economies of Europe. “This is the same rescue fund that saved the Philippines when our country was in deep financial trouble in the early ’80s,” said Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento, a congressman from Western Samar. The Philippines has certainly had a steady flow of positive economic news recently. On July 4, Standard & Poor’s raised the country’s debt rating to just below investment grade, the highest rating for the country since 2003 and equivalent to that of Indonesia. ____ HERE are two more positive news on the Philippine economy: 1. The Philippines is projected to have the world’s sixth fastest growing economy in the next 40 years, according to Knight-Frank

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Projected to hit an average yearly gross domestic product growth of 7.3 percent from 2010 to 2050, the Philippines is seen to be sixth fastest growing economy in the next 40 years.

PHILIPPINES AN

ECONOMIC BRIGHT SPOT IN ASIA

The Philippines leaped 10 notches in the global competitiveness ranking for the year to 65th spot out of 144 countries. and Citi Private Bank’s 2012 Wealth Report. The report predicted that the Philippines will have an average yearly gross domestic product growth of 7.3 percent from 2010 to 2050. “Citi research shows that while China and India are likely

to grow rapidly over the next 40 years, there are other key countries with promising chances for growth that do not necessarily match the traditional assumptions about where future growth will emanate from,” said Grainne Gilmore, Knight Frank’s head of

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The Philippines is the 44th-largest economy in the world today. If current trends hold, it can leap to the No. 16 spot by 2050. The Philippine stock market is one of the best performers in the region and the peso reached a fouryear high against the dollar at about the same time. The gross domestic product grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter, outperforming all other growth rates in the region except China’s.

UK Residential Research. Thus, instead of including Brazil and Russia on its list of Global Growth Generators (3G), “Citi include[d] countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam on this list,” the head researcher said. 2. Enjoying a favorable economic performance and having a government that claims to put premium on its anticorruption drive, the Philippines leaped 10 notches in the global competitiveness ranking for the year to 65th spot out of 144 countries. The country’s latest performance followed a similar 10-notch jump to the 75th spot last year, resulting in an overall 20-notch jump so far under the Aquino administration. The World Economic Forum (WEF) said in its 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines was one of the few countries that registered a double-digit improvement in ranking this year. The Philippines landed on the 65th spot after it registered an overall score of 4.23 points (out of 7 points) across all 12 categories considered by businesses as major areas for determining a country’s competitiveness. ___ The Philippines is the 44th largest economy in the world today, according to HSBC estimates. But if current trends hold, it can leap to the No. 16 spot by 2050. The Philippine stock market, one of the best performers in the region, closed at a record high after the recent S.& P. rating upgrade, and the country’s currency, the peso, reached a fouryear high against the dollar at about the same time. The gross domestic product of

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the Philippines grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter, according to the country’s central bank, outperforming all other growth rates in the region except China’s. Economists expect similarly strong growth in the second quarter. “We have made a very bold forecast for the Philippines, but I think justifiably so,” said Frederic Neumann, a senior economist at HSBC in Hong Kong. A high population growth rate, long considered a hindrance to prosperity, is now often seen as a driving force for economic growth. About 61 percent of the population in the Philippines is of working age, between 15 and 64. That figure is expected to continue increasing, which is not the case for many of its Asian neighbors, whose populations are aging. “There are a number of countries in Asia that will see their working-age populations decline in the coming years,” Mr. Neumann said. “The Philippines stands out as the youngest population. As other countries see their labor costs go up, the Philippines will remain competitive due to the sheer abundance of workers joining the labor force.” Many of those workers are feeding the country’s robust outsourcing industry. The Philippines, where English is widely spoken, surpassed India last year as the world’s leading provider of voice-based outsourcing services like customer service call centers. According to the country’s Board of Investments, offshore call centers employed 683,000 Filipinos in 2011 and generated about $11 billion in revenue, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. The government is seeking to expand the industry and has said it hopes it will generate $25 billion in revenue by 2016. The Philippines’ growing prosperity has also been driven by the 9.5 million Filipinos — almost 10 percent of the population — who work outside the country and who sent home about $20 billion in 2011. That is up from $7.5 billion in 2003. Trinh D. Nguyen, an economist with HSBC in Hong Kong, said the Philippines had benefited from an increase in government efficiency and revenue collection, as well as aggressive actions to address corruption, like the impeachment of the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the arrest of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on suspicion of accepting kickbacks and of misusing government lot-



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IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT NUMBERS

T

HE New York Times was right in describing the Philippines as an “Economic Bright Spot,” but Philippine officials cautioned that a young populace alone won’t be enough to support that assumption.

The service sector — including the young call center workers reveling in Manila — are helping drive an economic boom in the cities. tery money. “It is not only short-term growth that draws investors to the Philippines,” Ms. Nguyen said. “The fundamentals are there.” But there are also real weaknesses in the country. Recent flooding, which by some estimates submerged 50 percent of Manila, illustrates a shortage of modern infrastructure that makes the Philippines highly vulnerable to disasters. “The Philippines is hit with several deadly and devastating natural disasters every year,” Ms. Nguyen said. But government officials have said that the recent flooding might actually help economic growth, because reconstruction will require an increase in public spending and the country will have to put into place programs to make it more resistant to the effects of natural disasters. Another hurdle is the fact that the Philippines has traditionally underexploited its natural resources. The government estimates that there are 21.5 billion tons of metal deposits in the country, including large deposits of nickel, iron, copper and gold. But they have never been a significant driver of economic growth because extraction has been mismanaged, Mr. Neumann said. In the shorter term, there are concerns that the country’s newfound prosperity has not sufficiently eradicated poverty. Other countries in the region, most notably China and Japan, but also Thailand and Vietnam, have successfully developed export-driven manufacturing, bringing millions of people out of poverty and increasing the size of their middle classes. Manufacturing typically draws workers away from agriculture, which pays less. But many of the large foreign companies that

financed such transitions to manufacturing in Asia have avoided the Philippines because of periods of political instability. The service sector — including the young call center workers who were recently reveling in Manila — are helping drive an economic boom in the cities. But that type of outsourcing still provides only about 1 percent of jobs in the country, according to data from the Asian Development Bank. And the strong sector does not create jobs accessible to farmers or to millions of other Filipinos in rural areas who seek a way out of poverty. “While the Philippines’ business process outsourcing industry has grown impressively, it still employs a very small portion of the country’s work force,” noted Rajat M. Nag, a managing director of the Asian Development Bank. “It needs to aggressively develop its manufacturing sector to create more jobs.” On Emerald Avenue in the Ortigas business district of Manila, where hundreds of call center workers pour out of skyscrapers to gossip and smoke, Mika Santos, 18, does not have much to say about the national economy. But she is very happy with her own situation. After completing a two-year information technology course and passing an exam in English proficiency, she started handling customer service calls for a United States mobile phone company. She earns a comparatively high salary for an entry-level job, and her employer offers incentive bonuses, free meals and shuttle service. Had she been born a generation earlier, she would most likely have worked as a low-income farmer or gone overseas to find work. “My parents didn’t have any opportunity like this,” she said. n

“Our working age population is quite large compared to other countries whose population is shrinking,” said National Competitiveness Council (NCC) co-chair Guillermo Luz. “But just having people is not good enough. We need to educate them,” he added. This is one of the reasons why education receives the highest budgetary allotment among all social services, said Luz, whose council promotes a competitive Philippines and instills a culture of excellence through public-private sector collaboration as a means to reduce poverty through inclusive growth. Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has a somewhat similar view, saying he would rather handle the problem of having an old population than a young one that is poor and unproductive. Reacting to same article on The New York Times, Balisacan said in a separate interview, “Mas masarap na problema ‘yung old population kaysa sa very young but poorly educated and unproductive.” The New York Times article by Floyd Whaley, entitled “A Youthful Populace Helps Make the Philippines an Economic Bright Spot in Asia,” cites Frederic Neumann, a senior economist at HSBC in Hong Kong, as saying, “The Philippines stands out as the youngest population. As other countries see their labor costs go up, the Philippines will remain competitive due to the sheer abundance of workers joining the labor force.” For Balisacan, Whaley failed to take into account the economic situation of that young population: poor, uneducated and unproductive. The Commission on Population agreed. Executive director Tomas Osias said it shouldn’t be all about numbers. “We have to speak of quality population. Hindi ‘yung puro numbers lang,” he said. Resources, which could have been used for quality education and health, are “diffused” in the large young population of the country, Osias added. “For the [young population] to be a sweet spot [in economic terms] that population must be healthy and well-educated,” said Balisacan, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority. What the NY Times writer was referring to was the “demographic bonus,” which occurs when a country’s working age population is increasing faster than the young dependent population, Balisacan noted. Luz said economic growth should not be over-simplified. “Economic growth is complex and complicated. There’s no single approach or strategy,” he added. In the case of the Philippines, dependents weigh against the working populace, Balisacan noted. For every 100 workers, there are 60 dependents, the NSO reported. In order to reduce the dependency rate, he cited proper education and healthcare for couples on family planning. “When you reduce the dependency rate, the income of the economy is higher, savings generated is higher, and investments are higher…” Balisacan added. (GMA News) n


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PHILIPPINES

SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

By norman sison

MAN is injured and the doctor prescribes a local anesthetic. “Please, doc,” the patient asks. “Can’t I have an imported one?” Filipinos satirize their own foibles and the anesthetic joke pokes fun at the penchant for imports. The joke became popular during the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and the much-sought-after label then was “made in the USA” – a legacy of the 50-year US colonial era that ended in 1946. The PX store was the place to go to for Filipinos visiting the then-US military bases at Clark in Pampanga and Subic Bay in Zambales. The Filipino appetite for things foreign is as durable as ever and it is a mindset that one group of volunteers is trying to change. “What we really want is to effect positive behavioral change within our own social circle such as our family and friends, where we can actually change minds,” says volunteer Maricris Sarino. At ages 19 to 30, the people behind Yabang Pinoy (“Filipino Pride” in Filipino) look more like artists than nationalists. But patriots indeed they are. At their monthly potluck get-together, it’s Filipino food only. Members take it upon themselves to wear clothes that either have local labels or have Filipino-inspired designs. You will not hear music by foreign bands. When the group started in 2005, the mission was simply to encourage Filipinos to “buy Filipino” and, eventually, help prop up the fragile Philippine economy. Good business meant jobs. “In Yabang Pinoy, we believe that true progress and development starts when every Filipino believes in being a Filipino,” says Sarino. Publicist Mark Tan joined Yabang Pinoy in 2007 and volunteers his time as a spokesperson. He points out the dormant economic power in the hands of each Filipino. “With our 100 million citizens and abundant natural resources – this potential can be unlocked if only Filipinos realize that each has his own way to contribute to real progressive change in the country through patronage of

PROUDLY

PHILIPPINE-MADE Yabang Pinoy believes that true progress and development starts when every Filipino believes in being a Filipino. “With our 100 million citizens and abundant natural resources – this potential can be unlocked if only Filipinos realize that each has his own way to contribute to real progressive change in the country through patronage of Filipino brands, products, goods, and services,” says its spokesman. Filipino brands, products, goods, and services.” They don’t just tell people to “buy Filipino.” They also tell people what Filipino-made products are out there because there are some brands that many people don’t know are Filipino because they sound foreign like clothing labels Penshoppe and Bayo. On their website (www.yabangpinoy. c o m ) , Facebook page and other so-

cial networks, Yabang Pinoy freely pushes local brands, big and small. It organizes an annual bazaar showcasing Filipiniana, consistently staged since November 2005. Earlier this year, they launched their “PHmade” campaign to further crystallize their cause. Their slogan, “The Filipino is worth buying for,” is a pun from a quote made famous by

slain political opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., whose belief that “the Filipino is worth dying for” steeled his resolve to return to Manila from self-exile in the US despite the threat of assassination. At times, Yabang Pinoy also has to encourage local businesses to dream bigger and bolder. “For local entrepreneurs to continually improve their products and services, they have to start thinking of themselves as Filipino entrepreneurs poised to compete globally,” says Tan. But the real work, as Yabang Pinoy quickly realized, was social engineering – changing the way Filipinos see the “made in the Philippines” label. Yabang Pinoy volunteers learned from their own experience. To believe in their own message, they have to live it. They wear wrist bands made of abaca or Manila hemp – their version of the popular baller bands – to remind them-

selves of their cause every day. Over 80,000 abaca bands have been sold since 2005. The habit change, Yabang Pinoy volunteers acknowledge, takes time. “Through the years, if you keep on advocating Pinoy pride, it constantly changes you and you don’t even know how it happened,” says Sarino. The ongoing territorial spat with China has given the “buy Filipino” cause an unexpected boost. Nationalists were angered months ago when the Philippine National Police awarded a contract for 60,000 pistols to a supplier that imports the Austrian-made Glock. They said the contract should have been bid out to local gun makers only to give the local defense industry a boost. However, Yabang Pinoy refuses to adopt a combative tone. “Yabang Pinoy’s campaigns have always been towards real progressive change, borne out of a spirit of pride as Filipinos, and not as a movement against something,” explains Tan. The “buy Filipino” campaign is nothing new. On August 19, 1939, President Manuel Quezon, in efforts to prepare a country for independence from the United States, issued Executive Order No. 217 to instill values among Filipinos that included buying local. “Cultivate the habit of using goods made in the Philippines. Patronize the products and trades of your countrymen.” Fast forward to 1998. That year, businessman Raul Concepcion of Concepcion Industries, maker of the Carrier air conditioner brand, launched Buy PhilippineMade Movement, complete with a “proudly Philippine-made” seal of excellence to help buyers know what to buy. But the campaign eventually fizzled out. If Yabang Pinoy is to succeed, its volunteers say, they need to change the pervading view that “made in the Philippines” is synonymous with poor quality. Sarino points to the endurance of abaca, the world’s strongest natural fiber, and she brandishes her wrist band readily: “I’m a Filipino. I have something to be proud of.” (Vera Files) n


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Even the biggest names in Philippine cinema are susceptible to having their once stellar careers morph into lackluster visibility in showbiz

THERE’S LIFE AFTER SHOWBIZ

MAYOR GOMA AND CONGRESSMAN AGA HEY were the most popular matinee idols of their time. Richard Gomez was the ultimate depiction of the much-desired breed of the “tall, dark, and handsome”. Aga Muhlach was the mestizo actor known for being extremely good-looking whichever way you look at him---thus earning the title of “Ang lalaking walang anggulo.” Richard Gomez, or Goma to friends and colleagues in the business, has made a name for himself as an actor, athlete, TV show host, model, and director. He had charttopping movies and TV shows. Goma has also won Best Actor merits from prestigious award-giving bodies such as Gawad Urian, FAMAS, Metro Manila Film Festival, and Star Awards. Goma has also been branded as a ladies’ man, having had romantic relationships with equally popular showbiz stars like Sharon Cuneta and Dawn Zulueta. The Dawn and Richard tandem is perhaps one of the most iconic love teams in Philippine cinema, with their critically acclaimed movie, Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit, as one of the most memorable roman-

tic dramas in Pinoy movie history. But Dawn and Richard’s off-screen love affair was not meant for eternity. The couple eventually split up and Goma later married Lucy Torres, his leading lady in one of their more popular TV commercials. Goma has had his share of downtime in showbiz, having transferred from one network to another and ultimately coming back to ABS-CBN where he landed the lead role in the remake of Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit -- the primetime hit teleserye Walang Hanggan (where he rekindles onscreen romance with Dawn). This new soap could well be Goma’s biggest break after Lucy and Goma: will they find happiness and success in provincial politics?

Goma and Aga are seeking a new career in politics -- a considerably seamless transition since the realms of politics and show business are so closely intertwined in the Philippines. Showbiz celebrities, whether they are seasoned actors or starlets, have gone in and out of politics.

a period of drought in his career. And it seems that the veteran actor subscribes to the saying that one must strike while the iron is hot. He now has plans to run for Mayor of Ormoc City in Leyte in the 2013 elections. Aga Muhlach shares the same circumstance. He has expressed his intent to run for congressman of Camarines Sur. Last August 3 Aga was sworn in by Mar Roxas as a new member of the Liberal Party. Incidentally, Goma and Lucy, who is an incumbent congresswoman of Leyte, are also LP members. A couple of years ago, in the height of the fame of shows like Oki Doki Doc and movies like Kailangan Kita, one could not have foreseen the decline in Aga’s career -- considering that the actor was able to maintain his baby face good looks and impeccable acting skills. But perhaps with factors such as age, marriage, and the tough competition with and among newer and younger actors, even the biggest names in Philippine cinema are susceptible to having their once stellar careers morph into lackluster visibility in showbiz. Compared to Goma, Aga’s career has taken a steady spiral down to unpopularity. He has no new projects or upcoming movies. He left his home network ABS-CBN and transferred to TV 5 in 2011. The multi-awarded actor now hosts a TV 5 show called Pinoy Explorer. He is married to former beauty queen Charlene Gonzalez. Both Goma and Aga are seeking a new career in politics -- a considerably seamless transition since the realms of politics and show business are so closely intertwined in the Philippines. Showbiz celebrities, whether they are seasoned actors or starlets, have gone in and out of politics. And even politicians themselves sometimes cross over to


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the world of movies and TV. Aga is up against formidable odds in his first try in politics. He will be facing the candidate of the Fuentebella dynasty of Camarines Sur. Aga does not consider this an obstacle, confidently offering his services to the people of Camarines Sur, believing that the “people will decide.” Goma, on the other hand, has his eyes on the mayoral seat in his wife’s hometown of Ormoc. Wife Lucy meanwhile is seeking reelection as Ormoc City’s representative. It was actually Goma who sought the congressional seat in 2010 but he was disqualified for lack of residency, forcing Lucy to take over at the last minute. The actor is confident of winning the mayoral seat, pointing to his wife’s performance in Congress. “Sabi ko sa kanila, huwag na silang manggulo kasi ang ganda ng ginagawang trabaho ni Lucy,” Goma said. “There’s so much improvement, there’s so much progress sa Ormoc... Continuously, nanggugulo sila. I’ll be forced to run head to head against them. Ayaw nilang tumigil so maglaban tayo head to head. Lalabanan ko sila,” referring to his political foes. Intrigues will continue to besiege the political path that Goma and Aga have chosen to traverse. Their political opponents will undoubtedly find one controversy after another to hurl against the former matinee idols. Their motive for running will always be questioned. And they will, as previous actors who have shifted their careers to politics have been grilled, be accused of using their Asked why he did not run for public office, the late Dolphy quipped, “Eh paano kung manalo ako?”

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Aga is sworn in by party president Mar Roxas as member of the Liberal Party. Beside Aga is his wife, Charlene Gonzalez. showbiz fame and popularity to garner votes and will therefore win not based on actual political merit or skill but on face value and artista factors. The trend of showbiz personalities shifting to politics is not new in the count r y. Countless actors have tried their hand in public service and governance. Vilma Santos is currently the

SOLUTION ON PAGE 21

governor of Batangas, Tito Sotto has been a senator for several terms, and Joseph Estrada was once the president of the country. It seems that there is a certain age in showbiz, a period close to retirement, when actors deem it most practical to dabble into politics, to present themselves to their fans and ask for

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their support as they run for public office. This recurrence is widely accepted in the industry that older actors gradually put a foot out of the silver screen and into government office. The question now is, will Goma and Aga’s once-sparkling careers be bright enough to snag them the electoral win they’re vying for? Winning Best Actor trophies seemed an easy enough feat for these talented actors. Will a mayoral and congressional seat for Goma and Aga, respectively, be just as easy to achieve? n


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HROUGH the years, Kim Chiu, the first big winner of Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition, has metamorphosed from an awkward teen to a sophisticated young woman. In an interview with StarStudio magazine, Kim, then a simple provincial lass coming to terms with her newfound fame, first took her cue from her fellow stars in ABS-CBN’s musical variety show ASAP.

TEENYBOPPER TO FASHIONISTA

As she slowly rose to “primetime princess” status, the 22-year-old Filipino-Chinese beauty from Cebu eventually started her own collection of pricey items, from Kelly bags that would cost at least half a million pesos, to Rolex watches.

Kim models for Bench clothing brand. “Nakikita ko ang dami-daming artistang girls, kasama ko sa dressing room,” she told the magazine. “So parang ako, ‘Ang ganda ng mga suot nila.’ Na-imbibe ko na rin sa self ko na ‘Ay, kailangan kong mag-outfit. Kailangan kong magdamit nang maayos.’” Kim admitted that there was a time when she secretly stowed her simple bag after seeing the designer goods of her fellow performers on ASAP. “Nahihiya ako kasi ‘yung mga kasama kong artista may Chanel, mga LV (Louis Vuitton), mga kung anu-anong signature bags. Sabi ng Ate Lakam ko, ‘Tago mo ‘yan, nakakahiya.’ Ako naman, ‘Okey, tago,’” she shared. As she slowly rose to “primetime princess” status, the 22-year-old Filipino-Chinese beauty from Cebu eventually started her own collection of pricey items, from Kelly bags that would cost at least half a million pesos, to Rolex watches. “I like big watches, ‘yung parang pang-lalaki,” she said. “Maliit ‘yung wrist ko, ‘pag maliit ‘yung watch, mas mahahalata ‘yung kapayatan ko. So big

Kim and Xian at the recent Star Magic Ball. watch na lang para matabunan ‘yung kapayatan ng wrist ko,” she explained. Kim also has a walk-in closet on the third floor of her house, which she calls a “boutique.” It has branded shoes of different colors and designs, her favorite scents and dozens of aviator shades. By the time she started the soap Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, the actress tapped sister stylists Kimi and Boop Yap. “’Pag kailangan ko ng damit, ‘Uy kailangan ko ng ganito. Ito ‘yung mangyayari sa event na ito,’” she said. “’They get clothes na bagay sa event na pupuntahan ko.” The Yap sisters met Kim in 2009 as designers and assistants for stylist Sidney Yap in a shoot

for StarStudio. They have a clothing line called Influence. “For Kim kasi, we really take into consideration her personality,” Boop told StarStudio. “She doesn’t like to wear dark colors because they make her look skinnier. Automatic, eliminated na ‘yan from the options.” Asked what clothes look good on Kim, the stylist said: “Sweetheart necklines, drapings, one-shoulder and Venus-cut silhouettes, and asymmetrical hemlines.” Xian Lim, Kim’s on-screen partner, said his leading lady has simple but charming fashion choices. When asked about his favorite look of the actress, Xian said: “When she wears a dress with a belt, tapos naka-wedge… or when she’s wearing her high-waist shorts with Tory Burch flats.” “She looks good in anything – branded man ‘yan o galing kung saan, it will look expensive,” he added. Kim is set to star in the upcoming ABS-CBN drama series Ina, Kapatid, Anak with Xian, Maja Salvador and Enchong Dee. (ABS-CBN News) n

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From an awkward teen to a sophisticated young woman.


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CELEBR TY

NORA WINS CRITICS’ AWARD IN VENICE

Left-right: Lovi Poe, Mercedes Cabral, Nora Aunor and Brillante Mendoza at the Venice Film Festival NORA Aunor won a critics’ award from an independent award-giving body in Venice for her lead performance in the movie Sinapupunan (Thy Womb). She is the first Filipina to receive the Italian critics’ award. The multi-awarded actress was given the Bisato d’Oro critics’ award last Sept. 7 for her portrayal of a Badjao midwife who cannot conceive and lets her husband find

a second wife who can give him a child. The following day, the Rivista del Cinematografo or Journal of Cinema, a group of film critics that has been giving recognition to participating films at the yearly Venice International Film Festival, bestowed the La Navicella prize to Thy Womb director Brillante Mendoza. He was cited for his film which the group deemed “particularly relevant for

NO POLITICS AND POLITICIANS FOR KRIS KRIS Aquino is legally prohibited from marrying a government official, putting an end to rumors linking her to Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. In a recent episode of her TV show Kris TV, Kris explained the provision in one of her contracts when asked by Escudero on whether she has plans to run in the upcoming 2013 elections. “You’re not allowed to marry a politician ah, doon sa kontratang pinirmahan ko. It’s there,” the presidential sister told Escudero, who is a guest co-host during the show’s Monday episode. “Kasi kung ang asawa mo pulitiko, ‘yung binabayad sa’yo nung kumpanya, conjugal eh, shared ninyo, nung asawa mo na politician. So in effect, parang nase-swelduhan din nila ‘yung pulitiko,” she explained. Aside from marrying a politician, Kris said she is also prohibited from running for office in the upcoming 2013 elections, as stated in another contract. “I just renewed two contracts na pumirma talaga ako ng war-

rant. With multinationals kasi, they’re very strict right now, na I’m not running in 2013,” she said, not specifying which of her contracts prohibit her from getting involved in politics. Dubbed “The Queen of All Media,” Kris is one of the most sought-after celebrity endorsers in the country. According to YES! magazine, in 2011 Kris was a contract endorser of at least 20 brands and commercial products.

ARE JOHN LLOYD & ANGELICA NOW A COUPLE?

the affirmation of human values.” Nora, Mendoza and actresses Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral are in Venice to represent the Philippines’ lone entry in the world’s oldest film festival. The main characters of the movie received a five-minute standing ovation at the 69th Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 6. People at the movie’s world premiere sprang to their feet in a five-minute ovation that lasted until the entire delegation left the cinema. Thy Womb, one of the 18 movies vying for the prestigious Golden Lion award, is set on the islands of Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao.

Arriving separately, John Lloyd and Angelica leave the Star Magic Ball together.

Coco (right) receives award from Matteo.

COCO, MATTEO END RIFT

KAPAMILYA stars Matteo Guidicelli and Coco Martin finally ended their rift during the 6th Star Magic Ball last Sept. 1 at Makati Shangri-La Hotel. That night Coco was named “Standout Star,” an award which was—as luck would have it—presented by Matteo and Kathryn Bernardo. As Coco received the award, Matteo jokingly tried to kiss the hand of the former. Then the two young actors embraced each other to show that there is no more bad blood between them. Coco expressed happiness over the reconciliation with Matteo. “Siyempre, masayang-masaya rin ako na tapos na, naayos na. Lahat naman kasi kami dito ay magkakaibigan talaga. Isa kaming pamilya sa Star Magic,” the award-winning actor said. The two Star Magic talents had an altercation during last year’s ball which was allegedly fueled by jealousy and misunderstanding over Maja Salvador, who was then Matteo’s girlfriend. News broke out last month that Maja and Matteo have gone their separate ways.

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JOHN Lloyd Cruz has already admitted his relationship with Angelica Panganiban during his exclusive interview with The Buzz parts of which aired last Sept 2, a blog report asserted. Entertainment writer Reggee Bonoan, writing on Manila Bulletin’s blog site, said her source from ABS-CBN told her that John Lloyd had confirmed that he and Angelica are now a couple. But the source said that because of John Lloyd’s upcoming Star Cinema movie The Mistress, the portion where he admitted

BEA, ZANJOE HOPE TO TIE KNOT IN 5 YEARS

SWEETHEARTS Bea Alonzo and Zanjoe Marudo and Bea Alonzo see themselves getting married in five years. “Ang plano ko sana in five years pa,” Bea said in an interview, reaffirming the sentiments earlier expressed by her boyfriend. Sometime in June, Zanjoe said he plans to propose to Bea in “due time.” “Pagdating ng mga five [years],

his relationship with Angelica was removed. “Makakasira ng promo ng ‘The Mistress’ kaya ipina-edit ang pagamin ni John Lloyd sa ‘The Buzz,’” the source said. The source further said Cruz and Panganiban would probably go public about their relationship after The Mistress opens in theaters nationwide on Sept. 12. “After two weeks siguro maipalabas ang ‘The Mistress,’ sabay nang iuupo sina Lloydie at Angelica para sabay nilang aminin at ikuwento sa publiko kung paano at saan nagsimula ang maganda nilang relasyon,” the source said. In the The Buzz interview John Lloyd said it did not seem right for him to talk about his relationship with Angelica when he is promoting his new movie with long-time onscreen partner Bea Alonzo. “It deserves a better timing,” he said. “Hindi naman tanga ang mga manonood. Opo, wala po akong sinasabing iba. Ang sa akin lang, ‹yung sa amin gusto kong bigyan ng pagpapahalaga na tingin ko ay karapat-dapat para sa amin.” The two were spotted holding hands while leaving the 6th Star Magic Ball at the Makati ShangriLa Hotel last Sept. 1. The two arrived separately at the red-carpet event.

tatanungin, pipilitin ko na siya,” he said in a separate interview. “Malapit naman na siguro kami sa tamang edad. Sana walang mangyaring masama o pangit.” Bea, who is turning 25 in October, added: “Sa ngayon, ‘yun ang gusto ko mangyari. Pero hindi mo naman hawak ang mga pagkakataon, ang sitwasyon, so hindi natin alam.“ She said she looks forward to a happy ending to their relationship. “In every relationship naman, hindi mo papasukin ang isang relasyon kung ang tingin mo mage-end din. So why enter a relationship kung alam mong mage-end din.” Bea also admitted to having little confidence in herself before because of her figure. But not anymore with Zanjoe around. “He’s making me feel beautiful every day. By making me feel na ako lang, enough na,” she said. The couple, however, has not been seeing much the past few months. Bea has been very busy with two projects -- a movie and a soap with John Lloyd Cruz.


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CELEBRITYFILES

FOR TONI, IT’S CAREER FIRST FOR NOW DIRECTOR Paul Soriano has voiced out his intent and readiness to ask the hand of his girlfriend, Toni Gonzaga, in marriage but it seems their planets are not aligned yet. The actress-host and Kapamilya star explained why she’s not ready for marriage yet. “It took me so long to get into the business. It took me ten years, ‘yung struggling days ko just to get in, and now that I’m enjoying it -naka-ten years na by God’s grace -- I’m looking forward to another ten, more years to come in the business.” Toni, however, admitted to looking forward to settling down with Paul, in God’s time. “Palagi niyang sinasabi he’s ready, pero ako talaga kaunti na lang. Tingnan ko na lang what God has in store for me pa, then if He says it’s time, na pwede na ako magasawa, to make my own family, all in His time.” And it seems Direk Paul has always understood her priorities and choices. “At naiintindihan naman niya (Paul) ‘yon. Ang hi-

rap rin kasi when this is what you’ve dreamed of all your life, and then you just give it up right away,” added Toni. “So ‘yung personal kong buhay, nasa sideline pa eh, hindi ko pa masyado pina-prioritize, dahil ang-gandaganda pa nung mga nangyayari, and also with Paul, with all the opportunities that he’s getting.”

PIOLO DOESN’T WANT TO GROW OLD ALONE PIOLO Pascual says he has plans of getting married five years from now, and that he doesn’t want to grow old alone. “I hope and pray from the bottom of my heart for the Lord to send that person in time before I reach the age of 40. I want to be in love. I want to spend the rest of my life with somebody, you know. I don’t want to grow old alone,” he said, nine months after his controversial split from KC Concepcion. According to him, it is essential that his future partner share his faith. “Gusto ko pareho kami ng faith. Gusto ko kung gaano ko

kamahal ang Diyos, ganun din niya kamahal ang Diyos. ‘Yon lang, then bahala na ang Diyos sa ibang bagay. Hindi ako mapiling tao, basta gusto ko lang pareho kami ng faith.” Piolo also disclosed he wants four children with his future wife. He has a 15-year-old son, Iñigo, from a non-showbiz girl. “So five lahat. Pero sabi ko kay Iñigo, ‘Ikaw pa rin. You’ll always be the eldest. You will always be the kuya.’ Of course that’s his right,” he explained. He added he is bent on keeping his promise to his son that he won’t settle down until Iñigo turns 18. “I promised him that. Kami muna.

Bumabawi ako sa bata eh. Pero malapit na, three years na lang.” At the moment, Piolo said he is married to his work. “Ayaw ko din namang tumanda mag-isa. But right now kasi, kasal ako sa trabaho ko eh. ‹Yon ang mahirap. I want to get married, I want to prioritize my family, my kids but then, to do that, I need to slow down talaga.”

ZSA ZSA BACK AFTER SUCCESSFUL SURGERY ZSA Zsa Padilla is back in Manila after her successful surgery at the Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California, last month. A tumor was taken out of Zsa Zsa’s kidney during the operation, which lasted for five and a half hours. She was initially diagnosed to have Stage 1 kidney cancer. On Twitter, the singer-actress shared her happiness to be back home. She even posted a photo of

her pet dog. . Having overcome her family’s latest crisis, Zsa Zsa’s daughter, Karylle, can only breathe a sigh of relief now that her mother is cleared of cancer. “Awa ng Diyos, because of the prayers of everyone, sending their love and positivity, it became easy to go through such an impossible situation after everything that’s happened,” said Karylle. Following the news of her tumor,

prayers for Zsa Zsa poured in from her family and friends, colleagues in the industry, and even strangers. “Naging magaan ang feeling, naging madali financially dahil maraming tumulong, and napakadaming suporta from family, friends, even strangers,” said Karylle. “I don’t think we would have survived this after everything that’s happened to us, but because of everyone’s prayers, lumakas ang loob namin.”

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By patricia denise chiu

ARD 4 of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila, is as crowded as they come, with two, sometimes three pairs of mothers and infants to a bed. The airy hall with high ceilings is home to some 300 mothers who have just given birth. But not all births are equal.

“’Pag may tag na ganyan na iba sa amin, alam mong sa kabila sila dadalhin,” said 21year-old Maricel Vega Pique, a new mother confined at the normal delivery ward. “Kabila” here refers to Fabella’s Kangaroo Mother Care section, three rows at the rightmost side of the ward where premature and underweight babies are strapped to their mothers for at least 18 hours a day. “Human incubator sila, kumbaga,” nurse supervisor Cherry Anne Roque commented. Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a caring method to help premature and low-birth-weight newborns until they are able to survive without intensive care. The technique is mostly used in developing countries, said the Bless Tetada Kangaroo Mother Care Foundation website. It allows a higher chance of survival for the infant through the use of skin-to-skin contact and increased interaction with the mother and father. KMC in the Philippines was initially adopted at the neonatal care unit at Fabella in 1999, during the directorship of Dr. Ricardo Gonza-

AT MANILA HOSPITAL, MOMS ARE HUMAN INCUBATORS

Mostly used in developing countries, the Kangaroo Mother Care is a technique wherein premature babies are strapped to their mothers’ breast for at least 18 hours a day. The technique allows a higher chance of survival for the infant through the use of skin-to-skin contact and increased interaction with the mother and father.

Following the technique of Kangaroo Mother Care, a mother cradles her newborn baby in her breast. les. “I sent Dr. Socorro Mendoza to train in the Kangaroo Mother Care in Bogota, Colombia,” Gonzales said. The Bless Tetada Kangaroo Mother Care Foundation, Philippines, Inc. was established in 2008. The Foundation’s goal is to develop, monitor, and accredit KMC centers and also encourage continued application of KMC as a standard practice in neonatal care. To date, the KMC program at Fabella has helped not only in maintaining a higher survival rate


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of infants but also in propagating sustained breastfeeding among mothers. “Mas malakas talaga ang daloy ng gatas pag naka-Kangaroo,” Gonzales said.

Lack of facilities Recognizing the lack in available facilities, Gonzales pioneered the technique, believing that the best caretaker for a premature infant is its mother. “Nakita ko nun, mga tatlong baby sa isang incubator [sa Neonatal Care Unit]. Sabi ko, ‘ipag-aakyat niyo na ‘yan sa mga nanay,’” Gonzales said. Along with the staff, Gonzales designed a stretchable tube top that allows a mother to cradle her baby between her breasts, while sharing body heat with him. Nurse Roque admits that the technique is necessary for a government hospital like Fabella. “Wala naman kasi kaming mga high-tech na incubators dito,” she said. KMC allows hospitals lacking in equipment and resources like Fabella to send patients home faster, while also minimizing the family’s expenses, according to the Bless Tetada KMC Foundation. But Gonzales stressed that the newborns and their mothers have to stay within the care of Fabella until they reach a certain threshold of weight. “Basta dapat sunod-sunod ‘yung pagbigat bago sila i-discharge,” he said. In the KMC ward, there is no ideal weight to be reached. The continued weight gain of underweight and premature infants is closely monitored, however. Nineteen-year-old Rhea Bantosila says the method is highly effective. She has just given birth to underweight twins and has been nursing them in the KMC ward for more than a month. “Effective po talaga. Nakita ko ‘yung paglaki nila. Itong si Justin 1.4 (kilos) nung lumabas. Ngayon 1.8 na,” she said. The twins have had return trips to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but periodically get brought up to their mother when they are stable. “Nung una po nahirapan ako, kasi dalawa sila. Kaya kailangan akong tulungan nung mga nurses na ipasok sila sa tube. Pero ngayon madali na. Maginaw lang minsan,” she said. Donning the tube means leaving her back exposed to the elements, something the former office secretary is willing to endure for her babies. “Nagkukumot na lang ako,” she added. Bantosila says the technique also helps her get to know her babies better—she can strap the twins to her chest while she talks with other mothers in the ward to pass the time.

Mothers nurse their babies at the maternity ward of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.

M=others who go in for their prenatal checkup also go through counseling sessions on family planning.

The median age of mothers all over the country has been steadily going down. At 19, Bantosila said she was surprised when she first got pregnant. “Sabi po kasi namin ng papa nila, ‘pag 25 na ‘ko tsaka kami magbebaby,” she said. “Ewan kung anong nangyari kung bakit ang aga. Pero sobrang thankful pa rin ako kasi siyempre blessings sila,” she added.

Teenage moms, underweight babies Gonzales explained that the trend of young mothers, especially in the KMC ward, is nothing new -- or surprising. “Sa KMC ward, mga bata talaga ‘yung mga nanay. Kasi ‘yung mga nanganganak ng premature at underweight, mga teenage mothers na ‘di pa developed ang mga matres,” he said. “Kasi ‘yung normal na babae na dapat kaya nung uterus ‘yung nine months

na pagbubuntis, ‘di kinakaya ‘pag teenager pa lang,” he explained. Roque lamented the fact that the median age of mothers in Fabella has been steadily going down. “Pabata talaga nang pabata ‘yung mga nanay,” she said. “Kahit dito sa Fabella, na meron kaming counseling tungkol sa family planning, mahirap pa rin eh.” In Fabella, Roque explained, mothers who go in for their prenatal checkup also go through counseling sessions on family planning. If a couple should decide to avail of artificial family planning methods, the hospital provides them with pills or condoms, for a minimal charge of P40 per visit. Counseling services for natural family planning are also available. Despite the educational campaign, there are still mothers who

are unresponsive to these seminars. “Minsan pag ayaw talaga, wala kaming magagawa. Right naman nila ‘yun eh,” Roque said. She noted, however, that those who regularly went to Fabella for checkups prior to giving birth have been more receptive to the seminars, as compared to those rushed to the hospital immediately before delivery. Gonzales likewise bemoaned the lack of a national reproductive health law. “Kung meron lang reproductive health law, mas gagaan ang working environment naming mga child care practitioners,” he said. An RH law would mean better education of mothers, which could lower the incidence of unplanned teen pregnancies in the country, he added.

Up to God For her part, Bantosila does not see anything wrong with her pregnancy—or the fact that she got

pregnant early. “Ngayon naman po, mga mature na ‘yung kasing edad ko eh,” she said, explaining that she was in a better position than her own sister, who, at 18, has had two children herself. “At least natapos ko ‘yung vocational course ko bago ako nagbuntis,” she said. Despite the fact that she and the 21-year-old father of her children did not plan this first pregnancy that has resulted in twins, Bantosila, who was rushed to Fabella from a provincial hospital in Cavite following complications of her pregnancy, is adamant that she will not be using any artificial family planning method, and is distrustful of their safety. “Hindi ko po kasi alam ‘yan. At ‘di ba maraming parang side effects sa family planning?” she said. “Yung condom po na gawa sa mga factory, baka madumi ‘yun, tapos ipapasok sa ‘kin,” she says warily. “Baka mag-calendar (rhythm method) na lang kami.” When asked if she wants any more children, she said, “Sana ‘wag kaagad kasi mahirap ngayon ang buhay, tapos kambal pa ‘yung unang anak ko. Pero bahala na po kay God.” Despite some setbacks, Gonzales maintains that education can only do good. “If there is information and education, mas mainam kasi mababawasan ang mga teenage mothers natin sa ward,” Gonzales said. (GMA News) n


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PINOYS STAYING AS JOB PROSPECTS IMPROVE

HERE, THERE R AND EVERYWHERE Returning OFWs from wartorn Syria.

Job applicants scour the newspaper for vacancies.

EMITTANCES from overseas are expected to be less important to the Philippine economy “in the coming years” as improving job prospects in the country may dissuade Filipinos from leaving.

F you think Filipinos can be found only in the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe, think again. Chances are you’d bump into a kababayan in over 200 countries in all corners of the world. Overseas Filipino workers have fanned out to such far-flung and “out-of-this-world” destinations as North Korea, Greenland, Mongolia, Equatorial Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Comoros Islands, Montserrat, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Netherlands Antilles, Isle of Man, Burundi, Kiribati, Turkmenistan, and St. Pierre and Miquelon, among others. According to a report by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), at least one Filipino domestic helper is currently based in each of these places. OWWA adds that at least two to three Filipino household service workers (HSW) have been sending remittances to their families in the Philippines from these countries – Costa Rica, Moldova, Senegal, Cameroon, Barbados, Kenya, Venezuela, Tajikistan, San Marino, Micronesia, Gibraltar, Dominica, El Salvador, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Western Samoa, South Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, eight to 10 Filipino HSWs are based in each of the following countries: Malawi,

Seychelles, Monaco, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Zambia, Laos and Argentina. All these countries have no formal labor agreements with the Philippines, thus exposing Filipino domestic helpers to exploitation and abuse. Filipino migrant workers somehow manage to land jobs in these countries without going through the usual legal deployment processes aimed at ensuring that their labor contract and employment are valid and fair. Based on the same OWWA list, countries hosting the biggest numbers of Filipino HSWs are

Hong Kong with 316,412; Kuwait, 210,763; Saudi Arabia, 140,497; United Arab Emirates, 128,101; Singapore, 94,104; Qatar, 78,806; Italy, 78,352; Lebanon, 42,566; Malaysia, 29,019; Bahrain, 21,254; Cyprus, 20,127; Oman, 19,601; Jordan, 18,905; Spain, 13,597; Brunei Darussalam, 9,740; Macau, 6,085; United Kingdom, 2,716; Syria, 2,637; Taiwan, 2,423; Greece, 1,971; Japan, 1,757; Pakistan, 1,051; South Korea, 774; United States, 768; Cayman Islands, 664; China, 611; Egypt, 593; Palau, 494; Saipan, 454; and Switzerland, 395. From 2006 to 2011, the country deployed a total of 499,495 newly-hired HSWs. The top 10 destinations for Filipino domestic helpers were Hong Kong, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Bahrain, Malaysia and Oman. In view of the continuing cases of abuse and exploitation of HSWs, the government is seriously considering a “five-year phaseout program” on the foreign deployment of HSWs. During the phaseout period, prospective HSWs will be given other employment options based on their skills. n

According to financial services provider DBS Group in a research note, the Philippine economy had been performing “very well” and that investment-led growth may be forthcoming. The Singapore-based firm cited government reforms, low debt levels and steps taken to address the high birth rate as “all positive steps” that point to faster economic growth. “Working domestically may become more attractive to locals as employment opportunities grow,” DBS said. “We suspect that remittances will slowly diminish in importance in the coming years.” The group also noted that the sluggish economy in Europe and the Middle East pulled down the growth of remittances to the Philippines to a 15-month low of 4.2 percent year on year in June. “Accordingly, this also implies that full-year remittance growth will be around 5 percent to 6 percent this year, a continued deceleration from 7.2 percent and 8.2 percent in 2011 and 2010, respectively,” DBS said. “In the short term, there are considerable headwinds to remittance growth amid a lackluster global economy,” it added. Further, DBS said that the strong peso also mitigates the effectiveness of each dollar of remittance inflows, resulting in less support for the domestic economy. The group said that the growth of remittances to the Philippines was unlikely to return to the double-digit growth rates seen from 2002 to 2008 when growth was strong in the developed economies including the United States and Europe. Together, these two major markets accounted for a combined 58 percent of total remittances in 2011. “The heavy debt load in the two regions implies that economic growth will be constrained over the medium term,” DBS said. “Asia remains a bright spot, but the region only accounts for 12.8 percent of (global) total remittance and is unlikely to negate the remittance slowdown in the developed economies,” it added. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n


PLANET

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PHILIPPINES

By cathy rose a. garcia

H E N N A S A’ s science rover Curiosity made its historic landing on planet Mars last August 5, a Filipino engineer was working hard to make sure its flight software was running smoothly. Lloyd Manglapus, a senior software engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recalled the excitement and tension inside the Surface Mission Control room on landing night. “All of us went through meticulous training for this event. We have gone over seemingly every possible contingency. All of us knew what to do and were focused on performing our responsibilities. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was mixed with tension and excitement,” he said in an e-mail interview with ABSCBNnews.com. “For me, the anxiety just seemed to build up as the entry-descentlanding sequence went through its progression. Everything just seemed to go perfectly - and sometimes, for an engineer, that can be a little unnerving. When touchdown was confirmed, everyone in the room jumped in excitement. There was a lot of clapping, highfives, handshakes and hugs. That was an awesome experience to go through,” he added. The $2.5-billion Mars Science Laboratory project (Curiosity) is NASA’s first astrobiology mission since the 1970s, and the first that brought a state-of-the-art laboratory to the surface of a distant planet. Manglapus had two main roles for the Curiosity project: flight software technical lead and mission operations flight software chair. “As a Flight Software Technical Lead, I evaluate software design changes and investigate anomaly reports (bugs). As a Mission Operations Flight Software Chair, I monitor Curiosity’s Flight Software and make sure that it is running smoothly and ready to perform Curiosity’s daily activities,” he said. While the rest of the team celebrated Curiosity’s historic feat by heading out to parties, Manglapus said he still had to work that memorable evening. “I got to work with the first data and pictures getting sent back by Curiosity. Overall,

Manglapus (right) had two main roles for the Curiosity project: flight software technical lead and mission operations flight software chair.

PINOY ENGINEER MADE SURE MARS ROVER RAN SMOOTHLY ‘I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to be involved in a project like this. Like a lot of us, it has been a childhood dream of mine to be involved with NASA . . . being able to share this adventure with family and friends in the Philippines - as well as our fellow kababayans - makes it that much more special.’ a very fulfilling night for me,” he said. The hard work is only beginning for Manglapus and the team, since Curiosity will explore Mars for nearly two years. “This is really just the start of

Curiosity’s almost two- year mission on the planet - and what a great start it is! A lot of the team members, including myself, will continue on to support the surface mission. During that time, each of us could also be pulled out to sup-

port other NASA-JPL projects. In fact, I am currently supporting multiple projects; but most of my time is currently spent operating Curiosity,” he said. For the 42-year-old Manglapus, it has always been a dream to work at NASA. “I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to be involved in a project like this. Like a lot of us, it has been a childhood dream of mine to be involved with NASA. Having this dream realized has already been an amazing experience. But being able to share this adventure with family and friends in the Philippines - as well as our fellow kababayans - makes it that much more special,” he said. He was born in Cebu and grew up in a suburb just outside Marikina. He graduated high school from Marist School in Marikina and attended the University of Santo To-

SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

mas, majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science for two years. After his family moved to the US in 1989, he studied at the University of Southern California, where he graduated Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in 1993 and a Master of Science in Computer Science in 1996. Manglapus started working at NASA in 2000 as a contractor developing flight software. He developed flight software for an instrument called Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, which was launched on NASA’s Aura spacecraft and has been observing the lower Earth atmosphere for the past 8 years. “Working at NASA can be challenging but it is definitely fulfilling. You get to work with exciting technologies, challenging projects, and some of the smartest and dedicated people on the planet. Where I work, the people are friendly, supportive, and respect each other,” he said. But there are downsides, like the demanding work, long hours and short vacations. “The downside is that the work can be tough and demanding and can put a strain on relationships. Working a flight project sometimes means long hours, almost no weekends and even less vacations. A great support system -- family and friends -- can help out a lot,” he said. Manglapus finds support from his wife Gilda Cruz, a trauma manager at a local hospital, and son Jaellan, who is finishing a pre-med course at the University of California in Irvine. Asked if he has any advice for Filipinos who may want to work at NASA, Manglapus said it’s important to be competitive and work hard. “Go after your dream. There is no one way to join NASA - if engineering or science is not for you, there are also a variety of other careers. Be competitive, keep working to achieve your goal and don’t lose sight of it,” Manglapus said. (ABSCBNnews.com) n

SUDOKU ANSWER FROM PAGE 12


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COMMUNITYNEWS

Multi-Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist

David Pomeranz With special guest artist Joey Albert

To Perform in Vancouver One Night Only For Charity

D FUN RUN 2012: Participants at the Caregiver Fun Run on September 1, 2012, Vancouver (Photo by Jhunior Benjamin).

WHO WILL CARE FOR THE CAREGIVERS? By Joseph Lopez

W

ho? Caregivers themselves.

On September 1st, caregivers gave themselves a break. A Fun Run around the Killarney Park Oval in Vancouver was exactly that, a lot of fun.  And the weather blessed the event – it was a sunny T-shirt day. This is the second year of the Fun Run.  The Run raised funds to help caregivers address immigration and labor issues including employer abuse. The Fun Run was organized by the Multicultural Helping House Society WE CARE Support Group - the Association of Live-in Caregivers within the Society.  Open to the public, more than 30 participants participated in several events: 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 x 100 meter Relay, a Walkathon and Jumpshot.  There was even a Seniors 400 meter Challenge. Ms. Norilyn delos Reyes who walked the Walkathon said, “We all enjoyed ourselves.  Although some lightheartedly grumbled of sore legs, the fun compensated for normal minor after-effects of physical exertion.” A spokesperson from the Society, Ms. Crisanta Sampang said, “September 1 was a perfect day for the Fun Run. The MHHS We Care group is grateful to all the sponsors and volunteers who helped make the event a success.” For more details and photos, please see the MHHS Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/mhhsvancouver  

avid Pomeranz is one of the most successful and prolific songwriters on the planet today. His songs and solo recordings have sold 40 million copies worldwide. His songs have been used in many TV shows and major films and recorded and/or performed by many major artists including Barry Manilow (“Trying to Get The Feeling Again” and “The Old Songs”), Clay Aiken, Lea Solonga, Bette Midler, Cliff Richard, Kenny Logins, Richie Sambora, Harry Belafonte, Isaac Hayes, Kenny Rogers, John Denver, The Carpenters & Cleo Laine, among others. David has created wonderfully received theatre projects including his “Chaplin - a Life in Concert,” his multi-media one-man show, in which he plays no less than 25 characters, and “Little Tramp,” the full-cast musical, and music for Kathie Lee Gifford’s’ “Under the Bridge. “ David is presently at work composing the score, in collaboration with Joseph Stein (“Fiddler on the Roof”) for a new Broadway-bound musical comedy. As for David Pomeranz in Concert, this is the reaction:

Critic Phillip Elwood of The San Francisco Examiner wrote, “It is difficult to open up one’s creative heart and soul before an audience and to project the honesty and emotional sensitivity that Pomeranz possesses.” David Pomeranz has invited Vancouver singing artist Joey Albert to join him for this special one night event. Joey is a Filipino pop & jazz singer, musician, lyricist & songwriter, a major star in the Philippines, whose songs, like “Tell Me,” are a part of the cultural fabric for Filipinos world-wide. The concert is a fundraising event for The Drug Prevention Network of Canada, which has a simple goal – to encourage increased support & resources for effective Prevention & Treatment programs for addiction. This one night only concert is Thursday September 20th at 8PM at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, 7373 Macpherson Ave. Burnaby BC. Tickets at ticketstonight.ca or call 604.684.2787


Vancouver Edition

‘MALIGNO’ PLANET

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PHILIPPINES

SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

HAUNTS VEEP BINAY HO could possibly be the maitim at maliit na maligno who had aspired for the post of interior and local government secretary? Broadcaster Korina Sanchez was being mischievous when she talked of evil spirits that are “little and dark” in her radio program, Rated Korina, on Aug. 24. The wife of incoming Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas recalled the time when various politicians were vying for the DILG post before President Aquino appointed the late Jesse Robredo to the post in July 2010. “Hindi ho ba kaya, noong wala pang DILG secretary ay maraming mga maiitim at maliliit na mga maligno ang siya pong naka-ano dyan, umaabang-abang para makuha po ang pwestong yan. Pero mabuti na lamang po, ay binasbasan po ng kaliwanagan ng pag-iisip ang ating pinuno na si P-Noy (Aquino) at si Secretary Robredo ang kanyang napili para dyan po manungkulan,” Sanchez said.

C

ITY tours are usually organized to educate tourists and the general public on cultural and historical landmarks and other interesting places. But this time, a different guided tour takes on patronage politics as its agenda and object of discovery. Anti-epal is an ongoing shame campaign on Facebook against the practice of politicians using government projects to promote themselves. The crusade that has been sweeping cyberspace is now being taken to the streets — after its initial tour of Paranaque, the group moved to Quezon City. Their aim is to put a stop to the habit of politicians of putting blaring names and photographs in ubiquitous political ads, signages, and other posters of government projects and programs. “Epal” is Pinoy slang referring to people who likes to hog the limelight, get noticed or, plainly opportunists who like to get credit for everything. Through Antiepal, netizens have put this slang to a more political use, pointing to the various shameless promotions, self-serving gimmicks and

The seemingly harmless remark merited an instant response from the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who felt alluded to as one of those maitim at maliit na maligno. In a letter of complaint to ABS-CBN network, which operates the radio station dzMM, and to the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, Binay’s spokesperson, Joey Salgado, said

Sanchez’ remarks “constitute a clear breach of broadcasting standards and ethics.” He also accused Sanchez of “using her program and her stature in the network for personal and political ends.” “We are certain that Mrs. Sanchez-Roxas will claim, in her defense, that she did not name the Vice President and she had used the article ‘mga’ to refer to several unnamed individuals. To us, this is a flimsy defense,” read the complaint filed before the ABS-CBN ombudsman. “It is public knowledge that before Robredo’s appointment, Vice President Binay had expressed his preference for the said position because of his background in local governance… No other personality was reported as having expressed interest in the said position,” said Binay’s camp. The Vice President’s office

NO TO EPAL!

Celdran gives top epal award in QC to Councilor Vincent Belmonte as Juana Change looks on. ter a living president. ploys used by politicos. Atop an open truck, the tour Carlos Celdran, a social critic and cultural tour guide, has joined scoured certain parts of QC reforces with satirist Juana Change, cently in search of political banners the Dakila Artist Collective and and markers. Because of their ubiqmembers of the online group uity, it proved to be an easy task. Anti –Epal to spot these signages The group counted, measured and and tell the public that this kind identified the different kinds of epal gimmickry they saw. of practice is unacceptable. They gave awards to the politi“QC is perhaps the epal capital of the country,” Celdran quips, re- cian with the most number of epal ferring to the historical fact it was posters spotted. For QC, Counone of the oldest cities named af- cilor Vincent Belmonte of the 4th

Binay: Who’s afraid of the dark? said such a “personal attack … erodes the public’s faith in the professionalism and impartiality of ABS-CBN and its news personalities” and also shows “a clear conflict of interest on the part of Mrs. Sanchez-Roxas.” This is the latest episode in the recurring rift between the camps of the Vice President and Mar Roxas. Roxas has a pending electoral complaint before the

Presidential Electoral Tribunal contesting the victory of Binay in the vice presidential race in May 2010. In March last year, the Vice President’s camp complained that Sanchez was omitting mention of Binay’s name even in news stories involving the official. Roxas and Binay are expected to square off again in the 2016 presidential race. n

Juana Change brings anti-epal campaign to Parañaque. District got the shame award. “Being in office is not a privilege, politicians should serve anonymously,” Celdran asserted. The group reiterated however that they were not targeting specific politicians. It is the practice they do not approve. President Aquino declared earlier in his term a policy to ban this practice, which was translated

into a memo released in September 2010 by the late Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo. The memo prohibits the practice of putting up billboards, signages and other information bearing the names, initials or pictures of government personalities on all government projects and government properties. (Vera Files) n


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WHAT HAVE WE DONE SINCE ONDOY? PLANET

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SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

By gemma bagayaua mendoza

N DO Y ’ struck and engulfed large portions of Metro Manila in September 2009, I had to resurrect points I raised in a story I wrote for Newsbreak Magazine back in 2002. I didn’t realize I would be repeating the points I raised in those stories again, so soon. The first story was prompted by floods that visited Metro Manila in August 2002 -- a decade ago. When I started researching for that first story, I thought the research would reveal a pattern of corruption in the flood control projects. I was wrong. While the management and prioritization of flood control funds are also an issue, the reasons behind Metro Manila’s flooding problem is actually more complex: 1. Almost a fifth of Metro Manila’s 63,000 hectare land area is naturally flood-prone. This is true of portions of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela that are below sea level, or whose elevation is lower than that of the water level of Manila Bay particularly during high tide. And you wonder why many parts of those cities are often submerged in floodwaters? It is also true of the area in Marikina where Provident Village, one of the hardest-hit villages during ‘Ondoy,’ now sits. Geologists will tell you that you should expect flooding in the area because it sits on a river delta. If you look at Provident Village on the map, you will see that Marikina River snakes around it. During rain, when the river carries so much water, the tendency for the currents is to look for the shortest route, which means slicing its way through the village. 2. The annual rainfall volume of Metro Manila is one of the heaviest among metropolitan areas around the world. All that water must go somewhere. 3. Urban sprawl has covered practically every part of the city in

Have we looked into our own habits and tried to find a way to minimize trash? Have we addressed the roots of flooding? Have we called to account developers who violate environmental laws when they alter natural waterways? Have we gone after the government officials who allowed these developers to build where they shouldn’t?

Almost a fifth of Metro Manila’s 63,000 hectare land area is naturally flood-prone, with portions of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela below sea level,

Tons of garbage in Manila Bay are washed ashore along Roxas Boulevard after a typhoon.

The devastation that this year’s August rainfall brought about makes you wonder what has been done since. impermeable asphalt and cement, making it difficult for rainwater to seep through soil. On top of that, we have also irresponsibly disrespected -- and covered -- the esteros (tributaries), the natural drainage systems through which water was supposed to flow initially to main waterways, such as the Pasig River, before flowing into the Manila Bay.

4. Tons of garbage. I have lost track of the current numbers. At the time I did my research, my understanding was that we, city dwellers, were dumping something within the region of 3,000 cubic meters (equivalent to 600 fully laden trucks) of garbage and other solid materials in the city’s rivers, canals thereby clogging these drainage systems within weeks after they are cleaned. 5. Politics. This tends to mess up the implementation of flood control projects and sabotage wellmeaning programs that have reduced the risk imposed by natural hazards such as floods. It’s been almost three years since ‘Ondoy’. The devastation that this year’s August rainfall brought about makes you wonder what has been done since. We certainly poured money into the problem. Since ‘Ondoy,’ the annual national budget for flood control has more than tripled. In the 2012 General Appropriations Act, funding for locally-funded flood control

Squatter shanties along esteros and river banks hinder the flow of floodwater. projects amounted to P8.5 billion, shouldn’t? Congress legislated a law transup from 2.7 billion in 2009. Flood control projects and forming what used to be the Nationpumping stations can only do so al Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to the National Disaster much, however. Have we looked into our own Risk Reduction and Management habits and tried to find a way to Council (NDRRMC). Beyond turning the agency acronym into minimize trash? Have we addressed the roots a tongue-twister for reporters and of flooding? Have we called to ac- broadcasters, has the agency transcount developers who violate en- formed its approach - -from mainly vironmental laws when they alter reacting to calamities as they happen to long-term risk reduction? natural waterways? If not, then don’t be surprised if Have we gone after the government officials who allowed these something like this happens again. developers to build where they (Rappler.com) n


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FROM ‘SOUTH CHINA SEA’ TO ‘WEST PHILIPPINE SEA’ A year and five months after the fact, President Benigno Aquino signed an order renaming South China Sea waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) West Philippine Sea.

On September 5, the President signed Administrative Order No. 29, “Naming the West Philippine Sea of the Republic of the Philippines, and for other purposes.” “These areas include the Luzon Sea as well as the waters around, within and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal,” Mr. Aquino says in the order made public only last Sept. 12. Mr. Aquino said he was still looking forward to a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, whom he missed seeing at the 20th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ summit in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sunday. “I am still hoping that we can have a dialogue where we can have a heart-to-heart talk and [real] sharing of all of our thoughts in total honesty and openness. So that seems to be the way forward to settle all of these things,” Mr. Aquino said, referring to the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea. The Aquino administration began calling the South China Sea West Philippine Sea in March last year after Chinese patrol ships harassed a Philippine scientific vessel and fired across the bows of Philippine fishing boats in waters within the country’s

claim in the Spratly chain. Mr. Aquino clarified that AO 29 covered only “portions of the South China Sea.” Those waters encompass the Philippines’ 370-kilometer EEZ, Mr. Aquino said. Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal, is within the country’s EEZ, he said. “I just want to be precise … I’m sure that Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc is within our EEZ and also they have been [part of the country] historical[ly],” Mr. Aquino said. “Does it help our cause? It is important to clarify which portions we claim as ours versus the entirety of the South China Sea,” Mr. Aquino said, explaining to reporters the need to officially rename the area because some countries call it by other names. “We call it West Philippine Sea. There is a portion of it they call East Sea. Each one calls it by another name. Let’s make clear what areas we claim as ours,” he said. To justify the official renaming of waters to the west of Palawan and Zambales provinces, the order points

out that Presidential Decree No. 1599 (issued in 1978) established the Philippine EEZ. In 2009, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 9522, the Baselines Law, which defined and described the baselines of the Philippine archipelago. According to the AO 29, the Philippines exercises “sovereign rights under the principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), to explore and exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources, whether living or nonliving, both renewable and nonrenewable, of the seabed, including the subsoil and the adjacent waters, and to conduct other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of its maritime domain, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds.” It says the Philippines exercises “sovereign jurisdiction” over its EEZ with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures; marine scientific research; protection and preservation of the marine environment; and other rights and duties provided for in Unclos. The order directs the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) to produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines showing the West Philippine Sea. n

PH COMPETITIVENESS RANKING UP BY 10 NOTCHES ENJOYING a favorable economic performance and having a government that claims to put premium on its anticorruption drive, the Philippines leaped 10 notches in the global competitiveness ranking for the year to 65th spot out of 144 countries. The country’s latest performance followed a similar 10-notch jump to the 75th spot last year, resulting in an overall 20-notch jump so far under the Aquino administration. “The Philippines makes important strides this year in improving competitiveness—albeit often from a very low base—especially with respect to its public institutions,” The World Economic Forum (WEF) said in its 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report, which was released on Sept. 5 worldwide. The WEF said the Philippines was one of the few countries that registered a double-digit improvement in ranking this year. The Philippines landed on the

65th spot after it registered an overall score of 4.23 points (out of 7 points) across all 12 categories considered by businesses as major areas for determining a country’s competitiveness. Guillermo Luz, co-chairman of the Philippines’ National Competitiveness Council (NCC), said that this year was the first time the country landed on the upper 50 percent of countries ranked in the global competitiveness survey. He said the NCC was targeting the Philippines to join the upper one-third of the global competitiveness rankings by 2016, the end of the Aquino administration. The survey on global competitiveness, which taps businesses as respondents, grades countries based on the following 12 categories or “pillars.” These are the following: [government] institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher educa-

tion and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation. Luz said the Philippines registered improvements in 11 out of the 12 categories. On macroeconomic environment, Luz attributed the country’s improved ranking to the country’s favorable economic performance. The Philippine economy grew 5.9 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, making the country one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. This brought its average growth rate for the first semester to 6.1 percent, making the government’s fullyear growth target of 5 to 6 percent attainable. But Ramon del Rosario Jr., chairman of the Makati Business Club, said a lot of work still had to be done in several areas to help ensure that the Philippines reaches the upperthird rankings in 2016. n

PNoy enjoys highest satisfaction rating.

AQUINO GETS HIS HIGHEST SATISFACTION RATING AFTER falling to a low last May, public satisfaction with President Benigno Aquino III bounced back to a “very good” +67 -- a 25-point gain from +42 in May, according to a new survey conducted last August by Social Weather Stations. SWS said Aquino’s new score is the highest so far for his administration. It added this was Aquino’s best score since assuming office in 2010, surpassing his previous “very good” +64 in November 2010. But while his best score surpassed Gloria Arroyo (+30 in March 2004), Joseph Estrada (+67 in March 1999) and Fidel Ramos (+69 in July 1993), he has yet to beat his late mother Corazon’s best of +72 in October 1986. The SWS said its Aug. 24-27 survey showed 77 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with his performance, compared to 63 percent in May. Only about 10 percent were not satisfied, less than the 21 percent who were not satisfied last May. The SWS uses a net satisfaction score system that classifies +70 and above as excellent; +50 to +69 as very good; +30 to +49 as good; +10 to +29 as moderate, +9 to -9 as neutral; -10 to -29 as poor; -30 to -49 as bad; -50 to -69 as very bad; and -70 and below as execrable. SWS’ survey involved interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide. Sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages applied to the survey. The SWS survey showed Aquino’s ratings improve in all areas, socioeconomic classes and gender. By areas, Aquino’s rating zoomed up by 41 points in Metro Manila to a “very good” +59 (73 percent satis-

fied and 14 percent dissatisfied), by 35 points in the Visayas to an “excellent” +76 (83 percent satisfied and 7 percent dissatisfied) and 29 points in Balance Luzon to +70 (78 percent satisfied and 8 percent dissatisfied). His rating in Mindanao was a “very good” +61 (74 percent satisfied and 13 percent dissatisfied). In rural and urban areas, his score was up 19 points to an “excellent” +70 (79 percent satisfied and 10 percent dissatisfied) in rural areas; and 30 points to a “very good” +65 (75 percent satisfied and 10 percent dissatisfied) in the urban areas. Across socioeconomic classes, he had a 53-point gain among the ABC to an “excellent” +78 (84 percent satisfied, 6 percent dissatisfied). It was 27 points higher at +68 (77 percent satisfied, 10 percent dissatisfied) among the class D or masa and higher by 12 points to a “very good” +62 (74 percent satisfied, 12 percent dissatisfied) among the class E. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda noted Aquino’s latest score was the highest he has received since taking office in June 2010. “The consistently strong numbers affirm the President’s mandate for change; they are tangible indicators of the people’s support for the difficult yet necessary reforms the President has championed since day one. Indeed, since the first SWS survey on public satisfaction in September 2010 the President’s ratings have not dipped below 63 percent and have increased to the current high of 77 percent. These are indicative of sustained satisfaction in the performance of the President,” he said. n


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PHILIPPINES

SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

NEWSROUND-UP

P407-B INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS APPROVED NEARLY a month after monsoon rains inundated large parts of Metro Manila, President Aquino and his Cabinet on Sept. 4 gave the green light for a P351-billion flood-control system that is expected to be completed in 2035. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board, chaired by Mr. Aquino, also approved the extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2 from the Santolan station in Pasig City to the Masinag Junction in Antipolo City, and the acquisition of additional coaches for MRT 3. The flood-control master plan, the LRT and MRT projects, the construction of airports in Daraga, Albay province, and Panglao in Bohol province, as well as the upgrade of roads and bridges were approved by the Neda board in Malacañang. Together with the P351-billion flood-control master plan, the total cost of the projects is P407.4 billion. The DPWH master plan, which calls for at least P351.72 billion in infrastructure spending, covers a total of 11 infrastructure projects. The projects would be funded by the national budget, loans and grants, and public-private partnerships. “The [flood-control] master plan has been approved by the Neda board with the initial allocation of P5 billion,” Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang told reporters after the meeting. “That will happen immediately.” In the aftermath of last month’s deluge in Metro Manila and the central and southern parts of Luzon, triggered by weeks of monsoon rains, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) unveiled the master plan to address the perennial flooding in the metropolis. An environment lawyer said there was a cheaper, faster and natural way

The LRT Line 2 is being extended to Masinag in Antipolo. to address flooding in Metro Manila. Antonio Oposa Jr., a Ramon Magsaysay awardee in 2009, proposed that P100 million be set aside to acquire property for water collection ponds. The 11 infrastructures in the DPWH master plan include the Manila

core area drainage improvements, P27.2 billion; East Manggahan Floodway and improvement in Cainta and Taytay rivers, P26 billion; MalabonTullahan river improvements, P21.6 billion; Meycauayan river improvements, P14.04 billion; Valenzuela-

Obando-Meycauayan river improvements, P8.631 billion; land-raising for small cities around Laguna Lake, P7.15 billion; and improvement of rivers that flow into Laguna Lake, P637 million. Also included in the plan are “mar-

MILF ON PEACE: ‘WE’RE ALMOST THERE’ COTABATO City -- “We’re almost there.” This was how optimistic a top official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front sounded over the progress of peace talks between MILF and government. Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief, buttressed reports quoting government negotiators as saying an agreement between MILF and government is taking shape, would be finalized this year and implemented before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016. Jaafar, in an interview by a radio station here, said while there is no agreement yet on a number of key issues, MILF leaders are confident that an agreement would fall into place in future meetings between the guerrillas’ peace panel and that of government. “We feel that the Aquino administration’s peace panel is agreeable to have (the unresolved issues) tackled

Will peace finally dawn in Mindanao? with an open mind,” Jaafar said. Among the unresolved issues, according to Jaafar, is whether or

not the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), a new governing body that would replace the Autono-

mous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), would be parliamentary in form. MILF and government negotiators have agreed in principle to adopt BJE as a replacement for ARMM, which Mr. Aquino once described as a failed experiment in autonomy that has been bleeding billions of pesos of government funds due to massive corruption. Among BJE’s features is an expanded territory for Moro autonomy, a concept which opponents of a previous attempt to expand autonomous rule for Moros continue to campaign against. Asked to cite a timetable for the signing of the peace agreement, Jaafar said: “Within this year we pray and hope to sign this peace accord with our counterparts.” Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said in a statement that the government expects “major breakthroughs” in the

ginal priority” projects: South Parañaque-Las Piñas river improvements, P17.3 billion; and West Manggahan area drainage improvements, P5.52 billion. Other projects approved by the Neda board were: • Various bridge projects of the DPWH across the country, from 2013 to 2017 (P16.3 billion) • Change in scope, increase in cost and implementation of extension for Mindanao Roads Improvement Project, from 2012 to 2014 (P3.9 billion) • Bicol International Airport Project, from 2013 to 2015 (P4.8 billion) • New Bohol, Panglao Airport Development Project, from 2012 to 2017 (P7.4 billion) • Strengthening of Angat Dam and Dike Project 2013 to 2016 (P5.7 billion) • Request by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. for financing the Agus VI Hydroelectric Power Plant (units 1 and 2) Upgrading Project. The 4.19-kilometer extension of LRT 2 from 2012 to 2016 is expected to cost P9.7 billion, while the MRT 3 Capacity Extension Project from 2012 to 2019 would cost P8.6 billion. The MRT 3 project involves the acquisition of 52 light rail vehicles. The two projects whose approval was deferred were the Cavite-Laguna Expressway Project and the acquisition of vessels by the Philippine Coast Guard, especially patrol boats. “There is the Cavite-Laguna Expressway project. We need to clarify some details, like how it fits in with the national road integration,” Carandang said. Once the technical questions were addressed, the projects could move forward, he said. n

talks this year. “The government hopes to be able to sign a series of agreements within the year and complete their implementation during the Aquino administration,” her statement said. Deles said a plebiscite would be held to complete the process of replacing ARMM with BJE. A rejection by the people of the BJE in a plebiscite, however, would send the talks back to square one. “We would achieve more milestones if more Filipinos will support it (BJE),” Deles said. The emergence of a new Moro guerrilla group led by disgruntled leader Ameril Umra Kato, however, is casting a shadow on the ongoing talks. Kato’s Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a new guerrilla army formed after Kato broke off from MILF, has been blamed for a series of attacks on civilian communities. n


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PUNO CLEARED ON ‘RAID’ BUT NOT YET ON ARMS PRESIDENT Aquino has cleared resigned DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno of wrongdoing when he went to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s condominium after the plane crash even if the President’s instruction was only to secure Robredo’s office. After having spoken to Puno, Aquino is convinced that Puno had only wanted to secure—and not to get—the papers of Robredo in all possible places where these were: at Robredo’s office at the DILG office in Quezon City, in Camp Crame, at NAPOLCOM in Makati and in Robredo’s condominium unit. Aquino said Puno went to Robredo’s condo unit after being told by Superintendent Oliver Tanseco that Robredo also brought home some documents. Tanseco is the deputy chief of the Office of Internal Security at the DILG. “Noong inorder ko na office, my understanding is inassume na n’ya lahat ng offices pinapa-secure ko. Understanding ko rin, itong si Superintendent Tanseco ay nagpaalala rin sa kanya na nag-uuwi ng mga papeles, dokumento si Secretary Robredo. So noong kami ay abala, na nasa Masbate hinahanap si Secretary Robredo, sinigurado na niya, sa aking panan-

aw, na ma-secure lahat ng pwedeng pinaglagyan nitong documents. Hindi para kunin, hindi para tignan pero siguraduhin na hindi mawala lahat itong mga dokumento—‘yung posibilidad na [nasa] iba’t ibang tanggapan ni Secretary Robredo nakalagay,” Aquino told reporters. Asked if Puno will still be investigated for the alleged anomalous bidding process for the Philippine National Police’s plan to purchase rifles, Aquino said that everyone involved in the process will still be investigated. Aquino still wants to get to the bot-

PUNO QUITS DILG POST

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has dropped Rico E. Puno after his controversial shooting range buddy got caught in yet another storm following the death of his immediate boss, Jesse Robredo. Mr. Aquino on Sept. 11 accepted the resignation of Puno as undersecretary in the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the aftermath of a furor over his alleged “raids,” purportedly to secure state papers upon the President’s directive, on the offices of Robredo and an attempt to enter the apartment of Robredo after his plane crashed on August 18. Puno kept silent throughout the furor until Sept. 11 when he sent his resignation letter. “As undersecretary for peace and order in the DILG, I am entrusted with duties and responsibilities that involve strict confidence, security and protocol. Violating the confidential nature of my duties may expose people to danger or jeopardize critical operations,” Puno began his statement. “Hence I am duty-bound to act with restraint and circumspection, even when subjected to personal attacks in the mass media. This is why I have opted not to react to the speculative accusations that have been hurled against me by some media organizations,” he said. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that “as far as we know, Undersecretary Puno is willing to defend himself. What is clear from the statements was that the President instructed Undersecretary Puno to secure the office of Secretary Jesse Robredo … There were some confidential documents in the condominium of Secretary Jesse Robredo. He took it upon himself in his initiative to also ensure that the documents in the condominium be also secured. But, again, when you say secured, nothing is to be brought out, nothing is to be touched. So, as far as we know, the instructions of the President were carried out by Undersecretary Puno.” “The President has accepted Mr. Puno’s resignation effective immediately,” said Lacierda, who described the undersecretary’s move as “commendable.” “It clears the air that what some people refer to as KKK (kaibigan, kaklase at kabarilan) is not true,” he said, referring to claims that the President coddled his friends, classmates and shooting buddies. “This is a development that certainly would put to rest all these accusations of the fact that Undersecretary Puno is close to the President and he’s being coddled and that’s not true,” he added. n

tom of the bidding process which Robredo had began investigating before his death. He said he himself discovered on the Internet the overprice in the purchase of M4 assault rifles by the PNP and called for an inquiry, but that Puno was not under investigation. “I searched Google and I discovered there were plenty of rifles selling below $1,000. So I asked them why was $1,000 converted to P80,000? And that started the investigation,” the President said. He referred to what he said was his directive to Robredo to conduct an inquiry into the deal. Aquino said he was not satisfied with the rifle tender, which started with at least seven bidders expressing interest and the PNP bidding com-

mittee ending up with only one qualified buyer with a bloated price. The President said the PNP had set the indicative price for the M4 Bushmaster rifles at P80,000 each, or roughly $2,000, which was close to half the P150,000 purchase price in the previous administration. “That was the price of the M4 two years ago. But if you search the Internet now, you can get it for as little as $800 plus each. That’s roughly P32,000 each which is very far off from the P80,000. And the rifle itself (AK Type) was not what they (Special Action Force) told me they wanted,” he said. The PNP bid committee switched the specifications in the bidding from M4 to AK. Aquino also noted that a foreign supplier had offered two years ago to

set up a factory here to produce the rifle at P40,000 each. “So I asked where is the one who offered to sell at P40,000? Why is the one with the P80,000 offer left in the bidding? When it did not meet what you wanted, why did you continue to accept its offer? So I instructed Secretary Robredo to look into this,” he said. “I wanted to ask the technical (bidding) group a simple question: Why didn’t anyone check the Internet? If you can buy one piece at that price, I’m sure you will get discount if you buy a hundred or a thousand pieces. That was something that Secretary Robredo was also checking up on and basically, I didn’t like the answers because it only raised more questions,” he added. n

CORONA, KIN FACE TAX EVASION CHARGES THE Bureau of Internal Revenue on Aug. 30 filed a tax evasion case worth P150.68 million at the Department of Justice against former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. Aside from Corona, also included in the complaint are his daughter, Ma. Carla Beatriz C. Castillo, and son-inlaw, Constantino T. Castillo III. Corona, a registered taxpayer of Revenue District Office No. 32 that covers Sampaloc, Sta Mesa and San Miguel, served as former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Chief of Staff, presidential spokesman and acting executive secretary before she appointed him as Associate Justice in the Supreme Court and as Chief Justice. As a public official from 2002 to 2010, Corona was required to submit under oath his statement of assets, liabilities and networth annually including that of his spouse and children under 18 years of age. In his SALNs, Corona’s net worth ranged between P7 million to P22 million in the nine-year period. But BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said Corona did not declare all his

assets in his SALN. “Aside from the bank deposits, he also did not declare two real properties he acquired during his stint in government: a condominium unit at the Columns, along Ayala Avenue that he bought for P3.6 million in 2004 and a property in Fort Bonifacio that he bought for P9.16 million in 2005,” Henares added. After examining Corona’s bank records and compared it with his net worth, Henares said they discovered a substantial disparity between the acquisition cost of the properties declared in his SALNs and the cost declared in the certificates authorizing registrations. Using the “expenditure method,” the BIR found that Corona’s deficiency income tax liability amounted to P120.5 million for the nine-year period. The method used was based on the theory that if a taxpayer’s expenditure in a given year exceeded his reported income, the excess spending would represent unreported income. Corona’s daughter, meanwhile,

was charged for violating section 254 of the National Internal Revenue Code or attempting to evade or defeat taxes in 2010 and violating section 255 or failing to file an income tax return for the same year. Castillo is also facing the same violation for attempting to evade taxes in 2003 and 2009 and violating section 255 of the NIRC or failing to file an income tax return in 2003. Based on the complaint, Castillo registered with the BIR in 1998 but filed his income tax returns only from 2005 to 2009. Castillo declared a total income of only P1.933 million for the five-year period. His wife, on the other hand, only filed income tax returns for only 2008 and 2009 where she declared a total income of only P228,040. While the Castillo couple’s declared income amounted to less than P3 million, they were able to acquire three properties: a P10.5-million property in Project 3, Quezon City, a P15-million commercial property in Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City and an P18-million mansion in La Vista, Quezon City. n

CORONA REVOKED BANK WAIVER REMEMBER former Chief Justice Renato Corona’s bank waiver? He revoked it. It was one of the most dramatic moments of the impeachment trial. Then Chief Justice Corona signed a waiver on his bank documents, allowing government agencies to look into his bank accounts. It turns out Corona soon revoked the waiver after he was removed from office on May 29, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares told a press conference on August 30, announcing tax evasion charges against Corona, his daughter and son in law. Henares said the BIR discovered this after it asked the Banco De Oro for bank records of Corona “approxi-

mately one or two months ago.” “Their legal wrote us and said the lawyer of Chief Justice Corona said that CJ Corona is revoking the waiver. So we were questioning that because the waiver was executed by the Chief Justice and therefore the only one who can revoke it is the Chief Justice. That is our argument with Banco De Oro. However, Banco De Oro brought us to court, asking the court whether they can legally give us the certification,” said Henares. Henares added, “Based on my last information, it seems the Chief Justice was asked to comment and he confirmed that he is revoking the waiver he executed.” The BIR chief said the issue with Banco De Oro is now a subject of

a case at a Regional Trial Court in Makati. Corona’s lawyer during the impeachment trial, Judd Roy, said he does not know about the issue. “I don’t know what he did. Just like his walk out, I was not informed of his actions regarding the waiver,” said Roy. Corona signed the waiver toward the end of his impeachment trial in May, saying it was a sign of transparency. He even challenged other government officials to follow suit. Corona’s waiver sparked a public call for government officials to sign a waiver. The waiver was even one of the requirements asked of those vying to replace him as Chief Justice. n


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SERENO, OTHER JUSTICES BARE SALN FOR the first time after over 20 years, all Supreme Court (SC) justices released yesterday their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2011, with Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno declaring a net worth of P17,985,375.51. A copy of the SALN revealed that Sereno had total assets worth P19,227,578.85 and liabilities of P1,242,203.34 at the end of last year. The first woman chief justice declared that she has three houses and lots in Filinvest East in Cainta, Cavite, and Davao worth P9.175 million, which she had purchased prior to her appointment to the SC in August 2010. Just last year, she bought a lot in the same subdivision in Rizal for P2.1 million. The SALN also bared that Sereno has three vehicles registered under her name – a 2005 model Toyota Altis, a 2002 Mitsubihsi Lancer and 1997 Toyota Corolla. She has cash of P1,185,602 in bank deposits and investments worth

P1,203,400 in acquisition cost. In summary, Sereno has a total of P8,281,500 in real properties and P10,990,278.85 in personal and other properties. Her liabilities include a P1-million loan from BPI Family bank. Her husband, Mario Sereno, has worked in the construction industry and the Federation of Philippine Industries. A comparison with her SALN in 2010, where she had P17,762,167.26, showed an increase of P267,408 in her net worth. Sereno said her SALN included her earnings for being a lawyer of the government in the arbitration suits in Singapore and Washington in connection with the expropriation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Sereno released her SALN to the public upon approval of the SC. The other 13 justices have also released their SALNs. Based on the summary of SALNs, Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo was the wealthiest among the

PAL PLANS TO BUILD BIGGEST AIRPORT SHORTLY after signing a multibillion-dollar deal to acquire 50 new planes— the biggest aircraft order in the country’s history—flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has disclosed plans to build what could be the largest airport in the Philippines. The planned airport would be able to handle four times as many flights per hour as the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Pasay City. Naia, built in the 1950s, has been criticized as obsolete with decrepit facilities. It can handle 36 flights per hour. PAL president Ramon S. Ang said investments in infrastructure was part of the company’s aggressive expansion program, which could include rehiring some of the 2,600 employees PAL retrenched in October of last year. “We have a plan for our own terminal and runway. We still have to clear this with the government but we are hoping they will support us,” Ang told reporters at the sidelines of the firm’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Aug. 30. He said the new airport would be closer to Manila than the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which the government is grooming to replace Naia. Ang, who also serves as president of PAL’s controlling shareholder San Miguel Corp., declined to disclose the prospective location for the new facility prompting a guessing game in business circles. Some reports say the facility could be located either in San Jose, Bulacan; others say it could be in Binangonan, Rizal. Ang said the company would need at least 2,000 hectares of land for the project. The new airport, which will be exclusive to PAL and sister firm PAL Express (formerly Air Philippines), would have two parallel runways when it opens, with the option of having two more. Parallel runways mean two planes can take off and land at the same time—now impossible at Naia’s perpendicular runways. Ang said the government’s plan to turn Clark into the country’s premier gateway might be ill-advised, given the facility’s distance from Manila. “If you want to fly [from] Clark, how long will it take you to get to the airport? Two hours if you are coming from Makati. Then you have to wait two more hours for your flight,” Ang said. He said plans to build a new high-speed railway between Metro Manila and Clark—at an estimated cost of $10 billion—would be too heavy a burden for the government to carry. Ang said the company would shell out about $500 million in equity for the airport project. The rest of the project cost would be financed using loans from foreign or local banks. Once approved by the government, he said PAL could complete the project in three years. “We plan to pitch this to President Aquino in January or February. Hopefully, this is aligned with the government’s plans,” he said. Ang said the new airport, together with other components of PAL’s expansion, could lead to a solution to the labor problems that have hounded the airline for more than a decade.

justices with a declared net worth of P108,904,519.37 in 2011. Associate Justice Arturo Brion is the poorest with net assets worth P1,498,509. Senior Justice Antonio Carpio has a net worth of P79,895,025.57 in 2011, Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. with P7,264,064; Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro with P7,941,000; Justice Diosdado Peralta with P22,642,264.73; Justice Lucas Bersamin with P18,811,447.87; Justice Roberto Abad with P42,100,000; Justice Martin Villarama Jr. with P19,074,165.20; Justice Jose Perez with P9,380,000; Justice Jose Mendoza with P27,408,152.36; Justice Bienvenido Reyes with P75,146,199 and Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe with P67,101,327. The release of the SALNs came some two months after the SC issued guidelines for releasing the SALNs of judges and justices. Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) supported the appointment of Sereno, citing President Aquino’s aim to restore public trust in the SC. “The appointment of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as the new Chief Justice brings stability, legitimacy, and will restore confidence in the Supreme Court that underwent a serious political stress test unprecedented in its history,” said PCCI president Miguel Varela in a statement. n

HIGH COURT CUTS TRIAL TIME THE Supreme Court has announced the first judicial reform under Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that was initiated by her reviled predecessor, Renato Corona. The high tribunal said it had approved a new court rule that would result in cutting short the testimony of witnesses in court proceedings by requiring them to submit affidavits in lieu of oral direct testimony, thereby allowing a speedy resolution of cases. This means that the witnesses will be “subjected to cross examination” immediately and “cut short by 50 percent the presentation of witnesses,” according to Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, who was designated the court’s new “communicator for judicial reform.” At a briefing, Villanueva said the court approved unanimously at its en banc meeting on Sept. 4 what he described as the “judicial affidavit rule” upon the recommendation of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, chairman of the committee on revision of rules of court, and Associate Justice Roberto Abad, head of the subcommittee on revision on rules of procedure. Villanueva, a former trial

judge, said the measure, which would take effect on January 1, was pilot-tested at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court beginning in April while Corona was facing the Senate impeachment court, which subsequently ousted him for dishonesty in his asset declarations. He said the measure would apply to “all actions, proceedings and incidents requiring the reception of evidence” in all courts and quasi-judicial bodies. Parties in a litigation are required to submit the judicial affidavits not later than five days before pretrial or a preliminary conference or prior to scheduled hearings of motions and hearings, he said. The affidavit contains the name of the witness, the name of the lawyer who took the evidence and statement that the witness is answering questions and that he is conscious that he is under oath and may be held criminally liable for false testimony or perjury. The new rule applies to criminal cases under three circumstances: when the maximum penalty does not exceed six years, the accused agrees to the use of judicial affidavit irrespective of the penalty involved and in the civil aspects of criminal actions regardless of penalty. n

QUAKE DAMAGE AT P133.6-M; RESIDENTS REBUILD LIVES THE magnitude 7.6 earthquake off Visayas last Aug. 31 has left about P133.6 million worth of damages to public infrastructure, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said. In Eastern Samar, damages recorded were at least P25 million, in Northern Samar at P45 million and in Tacloban City at P62 million. There were also 239 houses damaged, 82 of which were completely destroyed. The quake was felt in several parts of Visayas region, also claimed one fatality and left 10 injured. In Northern Mindanao, damage was reported in two barangays in Cagayan de Oro City. These were the collapse of an abandoned old quarry site in Purok Upper Kolambug in Brgy. Lapasan, and a partially damaged house in Brgy. Poblacion. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported that the quake generated at least 168 aftershocks on Sept. 1, two of which were felt. Families returned to their quakedevastated homes Sunday, ignoring government warnings to relocate away from danger zones. Men, women and children picked through the debris in the quiet fishing town of General MacArthur, Eastern Samar, looking for materials to salvage from their splintered wooden houses. “We thank the Lord that no big

waves came, but still, the earthquake destroyed our home,” said Rosel Aruera, a 20-year-old mother of two, as she surveyed the remains of her home. “It was so strong we were thrown off our bed and minutes later our floor and walls crumbled.” The quake, which triggered landslides in which one woman died, also sparked tsunami warnings as far away as Indonesia, Japan and Papua New Guinea. NDRRMC chief Benito Ramos said the quake served as another reminder for many local governments to improve disaster preparedness and relocate entire villages away from danger zones. “We are lucky this time. But we can’t count on luck all the time,” he said. “We also understand that politically it is easier to say they will relocate communities, but it is more difficult to implement.” The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, with an average of 20 typhoons battering the island nation every year. It also sits on the Pacific Rim of Fire -- a belt around the Pacific Ocean dotted by active volcanoes and unstable ocean trenches. Heavily populated urban areas on the Philippines’ main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, sit on or are near at least four fault systems. The most active of these, the Valley Fault System, cuts through the

eastern section of the island, including across Manila and suburban areas to the south. That fault moves once every 200 to 400 years, the last time in the 17th century, seismologists said. Ramos said a 2004 study jointly carried out with Japan said a movement of the Valley Fault System could trigger a 7.2-magnitude quake, flattening 40 percent of all buildings in Manila, a city of 15 million. Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the 7.6-magnitude quake would have been more strongly felt had its epicenter been on land or if there was more vertical displacement of ocean water, triggering a destructive tsunami, as what happened in the Moro Gulf quake that killed thousands of people in southern Mindanao and Sulu in 1976. Asked if he considered it a miracle, Solidum replied: “It’s always a blessing when damage from an earthquake is minimal. I believe in God … but there are scientific explanations for what happened.” “We were lucky,” said University of the Philippines (UP) geologist Alfredo Mahar Lagmay. He said the Philippines was fortunate that the earthquake did not meet the conditions of a larger-scale disaster: power, proximity and the kind of structures in the affected places. n


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NEWSROUND-UP

COMPROMISE RH BILL EYED SUPPORTERS of the Reproductive Health bill plan to introduce a compromise version aimed at winning over the Catholic Church, but a bishop rejected the suggestion outright, saying they would never support birth control. Senior Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin said the House would form an informal working group with the Executive, the Senate and some “reasonable” members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to reach an agreement on the highly divisive measure. Garin said the group would speed up the approval of the bill and avoid any delaying tactics that anti-RH lawmakers might use to derail its passage. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that House leaders would have a difficult time passing the bill before Congress goes on a break on Sept. 21, unless they could come up with “some breakthrough ideas.” Belmonte said the House leaders would not sacrifice other important bills such as the 2013 budget to push

the RH bill. Garin, a doctor who supports the bill, said all sectors needed to come up with a compromise version to win over the Catholic bishops, who have staunchly opposed the measure because of its support for artificial birth control and sex education in schools. She said the House proponents of the bill had already agreed to water it down by limiting its scope and changing some terms. For example, a provision “promoting” contraceptives could be changed to “making them available.” Garin also allayed Church fears that the measure would promote promiscuity, saying contraceptives would only be available to couples seeking them from the Health Department, the local government units and their distribution centers. She said that from what she heard, President Benigno Aquino III would also support changes to the bill. Rep. Edcel Lagman, the bill’s main author, said he was still hopeful that it would be approved.

“The principal thrust of the latest round of amendments is to emphasize the pro-poor orientation and direction of the bill and that the promotion and distribution of RH information, services and supplies will be geared to the poorest and most marginalized households,” he said. In the Senate, the principal author of the bill, Senator Pia Cayetano, said she was willing to delete any provisions that might be “confusing and misleading” to expedite its passage. She rejected Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s suggestion that the bill be taken up in June next year and criticized the delaying tactics used by anti-RH senators. Enrile and Senate Majority Floor Vicente Sotto III, vocal critics of the bill, said they were merely exercising their rights. Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles rejected talk of a compromise, noting that even if they changed the name of the RH bill, “it’s still the same measure with the purpose of depopulation.” n

LIM WANTS TO KEEP OIL DEPOTS MAYOR Alfredo Lim has vetoed a proposed city ordinance seeking the removal of the oil depot from Pandacan by 2016. In a letter to the City Council, Lim said he concurs with the recommendation of City Legal Officer Renato de la Cruz to veto Ordinance No. 8283, “An Ordinance Amending Section 2 of Ordinance No. 8187 by Reclassifying the Area Where Petroleum Refineries And Oil Depots Are Located From Heavy Industrial (I-3) to High Intensity Commercial/Mixed Use Zone (C3/ MXD).” De la Cruz said the proposed ordinance is “prejudicial to public welfare” because of the “economic and political repercussions” of its approval. “If Ordinance No. 8283 eventually becomes law, the City would suffer huge budgetary deficit, especially since it is already experiencing a shortfall as a result of the substantial

Oil depots in Pandacan, Manila

tax credits granted to several businesses,” he said. De la Cruz said the proposed ordinance did not specify concrete plans on how the city would cope with the loss of revenue due to the removal of the oil depot. Approval of the proposed ordinance would pave the way for new suits from oil companies challenging it, he added, De la Cruz said the City Council should have waited for the Supreme Court (SC) decision on the pending petitions before passing the new ordinance. In the latest ordinance, the Council seeks to amend Section 2 of Ordinance No. 8187 to read: “The land use where the existing industries are located, the operation of which are permitted under Section 1 hereof, are hereby classified as Industrial Zone, except the area where petroleum refineries and oil depots are located,

which shall be classified as High Intensity Commercial/Mixed Use Zone (C3/MXD).” On Aug. 28, 29 councilors unanimously approved the proposed ordinance seeking the removal of the oil refineries in Pandacan by 2016. De la Cruz said Petron, Chevron, and Pilipinas Shell have already promised to relocate but have yet to provide a timeframe. Councilor Jocelyn Dawis-Asuncion, principal author of the ordinance, said the city council will override Lim’s veto. The city council will need 26 votes to override the veto, according to Councilor Jong Isip, council spokesman. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. said Lim’s veto is beneficial for the city and the oil firm. Roberto Kanapi, Shell vice president for communications, said no major accident has occurred in the oil depot because of continuous compliance with safety

500,000 NURSES JOBLESS, FACE EXPLOITATION

THE government’s lack of determination to implement measures to protect nurses and efforts of the Health Department to promote “false volunteerism practices,” has resulted to massive unemployment and exploitation of nurses in the country, a labor advocacy group said. The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) said nurses continue to work without pay in hospitals, but the Department of Health has adopted new guidelines on nurse volunteerism “amid the massive unemployment and underemployment of nurses in the country.” “We are extremely alarmed by the plans of the DOH to develop and implement guidelines on nurse volunteerism,” said Annie Enriquez-Geron, General Secretary of PSLINK, a national confederation of unions and associations in the public sector. “Close to half a million of our nurses are jobless and desperate for work. We don’t understand why the DOH is suddenly bent on developing guidelines on nurse volunteerism when they know that this will only increase the vulnerability of our nurses to abuse and exploitation,” Enriquez-Geron said. Government statistics place the number of unemployed nurses in the country at about 400,000. The government ordered last year the scrapping of volunteer work for nurses in government hospitals, but they continue to work without pay in government and private hospitals. ANG NARS President Leah Paquiz slammed government inaction on the plight of the nurses and failure to penalize hospitals that make nurses work without pay under “exploitative volunteerism schemes and non-accredited training programs.” “A year has passed since the government issuance of a memorandum that banned volunteer work and yet hospitals continue to exploit our nurses because they (hospitals) are not held accountable,” Paquiz said. Des Valladolid, a young nurse who attended the forum, told reporters the DOH guidelines on volunteerism would make nurses work in hospitals as “volunteers forever.” “Nurses are also human beings, who need to earn a decent living for themselves and their families,” Valladolid said. “We deserve to be treated fairly like any other worker or professional.” She said the need to institutionalize volunteerism in hospitals is unnecessary because “volunteerism is imbedded in our chosen profession. Nursing is a service-oriented profession. You cannot be a nurse if you are not passionate about helping people.” ANG NARS and PSLINK called on the government to create regular positions for nurses in hospitals and implement strong policies that ensure decent pay for the nurses. n standards. “We welcome this because we have always said that the facility is secure and it has a big economic contribution to Manila,” he said. Earlier, Petron, the country’s biggest oil refiner, said it will spend $500 million to move out of the Pandacan oil depot before the 2016 deadline. In 2009, the SC upheld the validity of a city council resolution re-clas-

sifying the oil depot in Pandacan as a commercial zone. However, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 8187 re-classifying the area as a heavy industrial zone, allowing the oil depot to stay in the city indefinitely. Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza and the Social Justice Society are challenging the legality of the re-classification before the SC. n


Vancouver Edition

PLANET

31

PHILIPPINES

SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012


SEPTEMBER 16-30, 2012

PLANET

32

PHILIPPINES

Vancouver Edition

September 16-30, 2012 Issue  

Aga and Goma cover