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Bernie H. Liu

CONQUERING CEBU &THE WORLD 12 We politicize economic issues & give an economic perspective to political issues JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2, 2014 • VOL.4 NO.22


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LIE after lie after lie: that was the order of the past week. Businessman Davidson Bangayan swears he is not David Tan who is wanted by authorities for being the country’s biggest rice smuggler, as well as the pointman in the cartelization of the rice trading industry. Page 2

by Miguel raymundo

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LIeS! by Miguel raymundo

LIE after lie after lie: that was the order of the past week. Businessman Davidson Bangayan swears he is not David Tan. Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima counters he appears to be the one, quoting documents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The mysterious and elusive“David Tan,” hunted by authorities, is considered the country’s biggest rice smuggler, as well as the pointman in the cartelization of the rice trading industry. This cartel has stolen tens of billions of pesos in revenues and taxes while killing rice farmers. That Davidson Bangayan is not the David Tan government is looking for while affidavits in the hands of the DOJ say he is the one, raises the question: who is the liar and where is the lie? In the search for truth on Dante Tan, sidelined and lost in the confusion is the rice cartel itself. Who are in this cartel? Bangayan said there are thousands of them in the rice trading business. Surely Bangayan was not referring to the rice stall traders in the thousands of markets in the country. But, maybe, he was. David Tan being made pointman for thousands of rice traders who control rice supply and the NBI can’t fi nd him? Who will believe this? While we get entertained by the DOJ hot pursuit of a phantom David Tan, the question that has not been asked and investigated is: who are members of this cartel? The cartel is really hurting. For the fi rst time the cartel is faced with an uncooperative Agriculture Secretary and President. It was President PNoy who ordered the auction of tons of Indian rice import that were stocked in a warehouse in Subic Freeport. Returning the favor, the cartel has unleashed all its resources to “kill” Alcala in the public mind and help demonize PNoy in the national media, in the hope that the two will give in to pressures. Until today, the cartel has failed so the screw gets tightened. Poor Alcala. In wanting to help the farmers, his reward is a mountain of headaches in the courts and in the national media. Late last week another plunder case was fi led against him. The rice issue is a spectacle of lies and bare-faced liars with billions of pesos in lobby funds and a battery of lawyers, helped by a battalion of media operators. With President PNoy being attacked by his enemies and even his supporters and allies in, Malacanang hopes to entertain the people with a report on the survey measuring the satisfaction rating of the President. Unfortunately, the spin doctors of the President failed to see the incredible in that survey result: the President earned higher satisfaction rating in Yolandaaffected areas. Those in the know protested. The Social Weather Station (SWS)

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survey in December showed the President has +54 satisfaction rating in typhoon ravaged areas, higher than the +48 satisfaction rating in other areas. To the people in theVisayas regions, this was a big lie. SWS has lots of explaining to do. But surely this survey results amounts to adding insult to injury. While the President was being hit from all corners, Senator Bong Revilla made the week even hotter under the collar for most of the boys in the student council by the Pasig River. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Mar Roxas became “Boy Pick Up” and “Boy Hatid” while the President became “Boy Tango” in the uncontrolled language of insults in the social media. Revillas charges were calibrated as he stood before his fellow senators and the TV cameras to reach millions who were made to believe he would deliver a better explanation of his involvement in the Napoles case than that of two other senators. The showbiz quality and timing of Sen. Bong Revillla’s so-called “expose” last week of secret negotiations in 2012 that indeed assured the expulsion in early 2013 of Chief Justice Renato Corona from the Supreme Court do not in any way erase doubts that the actor is himself as big a liar as his tormentors are portrayed to be, including President Aquino, Secretary Mar Roxas, COA chief Pulido-Tan and whistleblower Benhur Luy. Lies, photos, myths and props—such as his immediate family and co-actors at the Senate gallery, with hankies and tears on the ready for more dramatic effect, as the “honorable” senator’s power pointer prowls the screen for media mileage for his supposedly falsified signatures on various PDAF-related documents that sat famously atop a toy truck for all TV viewers to see—are de rigeur in cinematic extavanganzas. Revilla, the actor, is a master at this; second to none. But then, what is the actor’s point in January 2014 in belatedly exposing the crude negotiating skills of Roxas? To save for Revilla the 2016 presidential run, that is; It’s not about preserving the family honor as he grandiosely claims! After all, Ramon Sr, Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo, even Rep. Lani are not Revillas! Their current lives are no longer lived in celluloid screens which are lies but on the truth that they are Bautistas of the political realm! What Philippine clan could be more Walter Mittyish? Revilla voted to indict Corona—with a swagger in 2013 that belied the now-revealed truth that Roxas was a lousy recruit at furtive talks. This time around, the senator indicted himself by weaving inconsistencies that cannot sustain themselves—again with a swagger and voice inflection so methodical in its acting out the true and the untrue, thus blinding the untrained listener. What really transpired that night when Aquino, Roxas, and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Revilla said he took photos of the DILG Secretary at the wheels of an un-plated car that drove him from Bahay-na-Puti in Cubao to Bahay Pagasa, the presidential residence at the Malacanang Complex? According to Revilla, Roxas did not want it known that it was he who was to meet key Palace people at Bahay Pagasa. As an entertainmentluminary and a senator, even as the leader of the opposition party, it is not irregular to fi nd him trudging the grounds of Pagasa and meeting Aquino! It is the natural thing to happen in a working politician’s life. If lies were not part of his business,


Revilla could have seized the day, be a hero-of-sorts, and voted NO against Corona’s impeachment that fateful day in 2013: not such a surprising move since he was of the opposition. He was not expected to toe the line of the Palace. To many who watched him on TV, he displayed the seeming truth that his ethical standards were in the right place and thus believed his game. Fans of Corona grudgingly bestowed on Revilla a new angle of admiration as he swaggered to the dais at the Senate to cast for the soft-spoken Corona’s demise from the corridors of justice and power. But last week, after a season of PDAF slings that alleged him to be the Number One Corrupt Legislator, unable to get the Palace to his side, Revilla metamorphosed into the person he really is: a class actor of a classless political kind. He has belied himself and opened Pandora’s box of PDAF mire by claiming that Aquino and his ilk, in a plot a la Jack Ryanish, in fact pressured him and begged him to throw in his largesse (“balato” was how he termed it) of a YES against Corona. What does that make of a member of the country’s Upper House with his sight on the Presidency? Nothing, but a peddler of items that do not add up to an honorable whole, a loser who cries wolf amid a multi-billion peso scam. The worst lies came from the Meralco overprice issue. Worst, because the impact of these lies have made most of us poorer. While rice smugglers ran off with tens of billions of pesos, they reduced the cost of rice in the markets. On the other hand, the government favoring Meralco with mechanisms to take more from a captive consumers, made the power suppliers hundreds of billions richer and consumers a lot poorer. A strong advocate against Meralco and government abuse of consumers. Butch Junia writes in answering a column item by Tony Lopez at the Manila Times: Mr. Lopez is wrong in claiming that “government refuses to control” the 17.5% distribution charge of Meralco and the 5.9% system loss. This is in fact the regulated sector of the industry, being a natural monopoly. Government regulates Meralco’s rates, but it is regulation that favors Meralco and pads its coffers, at the expense of the captive customers. Meralco’s distribution rate under RORB was P0.76 pkwh, today under ERC’s PBR, it is P1.64 pkwh. How did this happen? Because of fancy and outlandish expense items ERC gave to Meralco, like the Regulatory Liaison & Compliance fund for P2.2B, advertising for P1.7B, return on capital for P20B (one year), under recovery, P22B, return of capital, P5B, working capital, P1.8B, etc. Etc. Result: Meralco net profit under RORB - P2.6B; under PBR, P17B. Meralco is far from being a charity house, it is the business that will send everyone to the poor house. By the way, about the system loss, why is Meralco charging us for it on the generation component (57% 0f total) isn’t SL line loss or pilferage? How can there be SL in generation? and if generation is pass thru cost, where does the generation component of SL go? Mr. Lopez makes Meralco look burdened by this increase. Kawawa naman ang Meralco. But with P17B net earnings, kawawa talaga ang Meralco. baka kulang pa ang P1.41B per month, P47.2M per day, P1.9M per hour na kita nila sa PBR. At the hearings on these Meralco charges, the late Naro Lualhati argued that Meralco’s distribution rate should only be P0.90 pkwh. But ERC would have none of that. The first rate under PBR was P1.24 pkwh, to its highest now at P1.64. With Meralco annual sales of 32B kwh. one centavo is P320M. Imagine how much our rates would have been if ERC heeded Mang Naro’s computations. Mr. Lopez, sir, Meralco is hardly a bystander here. Not by a very long mile. Last week, the country stood witness to how far our leaders, in politics, business, justice, and congress, will lie, distort truth and fool the people. What leaves a bad taste in the mouth is the messengers of these lies are supposed to be respected people in media.

Mar and Noy: The Boys Who Cry Wolf “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche


HERE is this popular Filipino idiom, ‘labasan ng baho’ (rough translation: ‘exposing each other’s stink’), and it comes up every time a person claims to expose the lies of a group that he or she has conspired with. It is a favorite phrase of whistleblowers and those engaged in clandestine affairs, especially those political in nature. Once more, it has been a recent catchphrase in the Sen.Revilla VS. Mar and PNoy hullabaloo. The farcical duo have given comedy tandems in the country a run for their money with their absurd but entertaining pile of cover-ups. Revilla calls BFFs Roxas and Aquino liars. Mar and PNoy counter with a taunt that Revilla is lying and is just angry with the world. As we’re all aware of, it takes one liar to know another. The president and his buddy Mar have been slowly distancing themselves from the pork barrel scandal involving Janet Napoles since last year. This massive blemish on the Aquino administration will be too hard to forget, because the public’s cynicism towards politicians have once more been intensified by cover-up after cover-up. Just as Bong Revilla’s pleas for public sympathy fell on deaf ears, so does the Aquino - Roxas duo’s efforts to clean their names by pointing their fingers at a person that they are allegedly in cahoots with. UP professor and political analyst Randy David says in his commentary on Revilla’s recent privilege speech that the senator is barking on the wrong tree. It may be the wrong tree, but this tree is also defensively shuff ling its leaves and is behaving as if it has so much to hide. This ‘tree’, or rather, these ‘trees’ were also known for using Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez as its scapegoat in the Yolanda disaster relief controversy. It is becoming a terrible habit of theirs, and we citizens are paying for it. The fact that Aquino’s efforts at influencing Supreme Court judge Corona’s ousting is public knowledge says a lot more about how the public is so jaded to allow people who lie habitually to take in the reins of power. In effect, we also lie to ourselves. It is consensual self-deception. The public barely spoke up when Roxas was given the DOTC post, because it did not seem like an event that would affect us directly. That is, until Yolanda happened. All lies eventually become undone at the onslaught of truth. The average Juan will exclaim, “All politicians lie anyway.” It’s time to remind ourselves that it shouldn’t be that way. It’s one thing to lie in private, in their personal affairs. That is none of our business. It is when those mandated with the public good keep lying to everyone that it becomes our business. We cannot improve and evolve as a democracy if we have public officials who cannot divulge the truth when they have to, for the sake of millions of lives who will be affected. We should be angry when we are being lied to, and yet we keep giving Aquino and Roxas the undeserved benefit of doubt. If anything, the Aquino administration’s actions should be lesson enough for us. We are being lied to over and over again, and there is a certain point when enough should be enough. We should be like the townspeople of the classic fable. We should be fed up with people like Mar Roxas who continually lie and distort the truth for their own ends. We should feel betrayed because we all allowed him there, under the initial impression that he and his buddy Noynoy are looking out for us. They keep asking for our support, and here we are letting them help themselves to our taxes. They keep depicting their critics as wolves, and they keep crying out to us to believe them. In truth, they are the proverbial wolves in the story, voracious for power and operating only in self-interest. If they do get their comeuppance (I say this with my fingers crossed), and they cry out to the public once more, it would be very hard to believe them. Fool us once, shame on them, but we’ve been fooled more than twice. We should be ashamed of ourselves for believing them. As veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas would put it in her blog, “Don’t b*llsh*t us about ‘doing right for the country.’ You are lining your pockets with our money. That’s not right for the country. You are all liars.”

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News from Where You Stand

Chasing the Presidency

by elCid benedicto “THE presidency is a destiny.” These were the words of former Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar, an erstwhile presidential wannabe, a few days before he officially ended his term of office in June last year. The realization may have been difficult to accept for him especially since he had, not only been setting his sights for the highest government position from the time he joined the Senate in 2001, but has come fi nancially prepared in campaigning for it. The lone “billionaire” lawmaker while he was still in the House of Representatives as well as in the Upper Chamber was obviously speaking from experience when he made the statement, addressing at that time some of his party mates from the Nacionalista Party (NP), Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “My advice to my party mates, if you’re looking at 2016, huwag kayong masyadong maaga,” he said, adding that it’s a matter of destiny, really, if one is to become the country’s leader.


It seemed though that former Sen. Villar’s piece of advice, unsolicited it maybe, fell on deaf ears. The next round of presidential race is still exactly two years away, yet this early, there’s no stopping now Sen. Cayetano from getting a full head of steam against his potential rivals. Sources said that in a recent Christmas party with his staff members, the younger of the two incumbent Cayetano siblings, announced his plans—as if it’s not obvi-

ous to the entire community in the Senate, even to those outside of his office—to run for a higher government position— the highest position to be specific. Although Sen. Marcos, on numerous occasions, dropped hints and even categorically admitted in previous interviews that the matter of the presidency is among his personal ambitions, the idea of taking a bid at it in 2016 is more pronounced on the part of Sen. Cayetano.


Both senators are happen to be come from prominent families but it’s Sen. Cayetano who is believed to be now “welloiled”, supposedly, and could very well fi nance his campaign even this early in the race. Money matters may not be a problem for a person of stature of Sen. Marcos as the lone son and namesake of the late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, happens to be the third “richest” among his peers in the 15th and current Congress in the Senate with a declared total net worth of P437.2 million, while Sen. Cayetano was “17th” in 2012 and “7th” in rank among those 12 members who won in the May 2013 midterm senatorial polls. His declared total net worth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) in 2012 stood at P23.3 million and P22.5 million last year.

Both camps are said to be gearing for probably the biggest challenge of their political career but Sen. Cayetano allegedly went ahead early in the race. Those privy in the last senatorial campaign of the now Majority Leader in the Senate claimed that he’s replete of funds as his “war chest” were supposedly more than enough to cover before and after the campaign period.


In the middle of the campaign season last year, talks were rife that Sen. Cayetano has also already armed himself with “strategists”, “think-tanks” and one of which was even dubbed as “Obama team” – supposedly a group of political strategists that has carefully studied and intend to carry out the same campaign formula used by President Obama. Alongside this report came the accusation coming from no less than some of his fellow candidates in the administration slate “Team PNoy” that his camp’s supposed dirty tricks department, was behind the massive “text brigade” or “text blasts” the objective of which was not only to boost his standing in the polls and at the same time, lessen their chances in being among the presidential and vice presidential contenders in 2016. Whether the allegations were true, Sen. Cayetano, who often figure in the fourth, fifth and lower ranking in the pre-election surveys, ended up third in the race.

Daily Interviews

In the last few months of 2013, Senate observers noted that Sen. Cayetano had been practically a regular subject of interviews in one of the morning radio

programs. Practically reads almost daily. “Nabili na ba ni (Sen.) Alan (Cayetano) yung (name of the radio station)?” one former upper chamber official commented in jest. This was followed by another set of “media rounds” or guestings in some radio and television shows of a giant network at a time when most of his colleagues made themselves scarce for either a much needed break or observe the “undas” or All Souls Day. No one can fault the senator if he opts to have it his way because as political observers would say, it’s anybody’s ballgame during election period. But one thing that cannot be factored in, even probably the best among political strategists, is one’s fate and they better listen to someone who had to deal with the hard truth translated in hundreds of millions, probably even near a billion-peso campaign dating back 2007. It’s worth trying though, according to former Sen. Villar, especially if they would try their luck via a “tambiolo” or a raffl ing device of sort involving a game of chance. “Wala namang masama na ilagay ang pangalan mo sa tambiolo. As a matter of fact, I would encourage every Nacionalista senator to try and put his name in the tambiolo,” former Sen. Villar was quoted as saying. Whether he was serious in his suggestion, one thing that the former House Speaker and one-time Senate president said with certainty before he stepped down last year was that he has no more plans in politics and would rather pour in his energy and resources on his vast businesses.

Disaster-risk Insurance in the PH A RELATIVELY new concept, disaster risk insurance, had been a subject of a highlevel forum held at the Senate recently— whether a paradigm shift intended to be used as a tool to recoup the losses from natural and man-made disasters can be activated within a period of six months. Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on climate change, who organized the event, in partnership with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), opened the debates on the proposal. “This is indeed, a very timely forum as barely two months ago, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded ripped through the Visayas region. The ferocity of typhoon Yolanda left a trail of devastation of epic proportions to our country. This horrific incident highlighted our preparedness - or perhaps, the lack of it

- in times of disaster,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said in his speech during the said forum. Whether the concept of adopting such major policy decision within such a short period of time is feasible, it’s worth exploring following a wave of natural and man-made disasters last year, all attributed to climate change, Drilon noted. “But how could one adequately prepare for natural disasters as fierce as typhoon Yolanda, Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami that hit Japan almost three years ago?” he asked. “As a risk management tool, insurance would protect individuals and communities from fi nancial suffering in the aftermath of natural disasters. But we can all agree on the fact that insurance is not a silver bullet for risk management and risk reduction. It is one of the mechanisms to

manage or transfer risk, but we need to ask the question: In our investing environment, is it the best course of action in terms of cost effectiveness and affordability? It is in forums such as this where we must and can examine such propositions. Disaster risk insurance is something that is new to many of us. Therefore, we must carefully examine this from the point of view of policy makers,” said Drilon. Participated in by some members of the academe, economic and foreign policy experts, provided inputs on the merits of strengthening disaster risk insurance. A similar concept is already being implemented in countries such as Mexico, Turkey and some Carribbean states. The Senate leader pointed out that insofar as the Philippines is concerned, there are existing regulations on risk insurance of all government building while We TaKe a STanD

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agricultural losses are supposed to be insured through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, a subsidiary of Landbank. “On the part of the Philippine government, we at Congress in the meantime have allocated substantial funds in the national budget which we use to respond to the needs of victims of calamities that hit us. The 2014 National Budget provides funds for the survivors of disasters, particularly the victims of typhoons Santi, Labuyo and Yolanda, 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas region, and the siege in Zamboanga City. The General Appropriations Act of 2014 also included authorizations worth P100 billion for the completion of various relief and rehabilitation programs. ElCid Benedicto


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US Power Privatization Failed










To Catch a Liar IN this country, to fi nd corrupt public officials who have betrayed the public trust almost always requires another act of betrayal—performed by whistle-blowers who have grown a conscience overnight or have come forward after a falling out with their cohorts. Case in point is Benhur Luy, the man of the hour in the P10-billion pork barrel funds scandal that tainted the names of several lawmakers and other high-profi le government officials. The accusations hurled by Luy against several lawmakers (the list topped by senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla) have triggered a spate of counter-accusations, media interviews, press conferences and privilege speeches from the parties tagged by Luy’s revelations. As a result, a number of other “forgotten” issues have resurfaced like the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona and the issue of rice smuggling—all resurrected by the PDAF scandal. In an attempt to clear his name, Sen. Bong Revilla made an impassioned speech before Senate denouncing Luy and denying any involvement in the PDAF brouhaha. Accompanied by his father former senator Ramon Revilla Sr., wife Rep. Lani Mercado, two of his sons and pal actor Philip Salvador, Senator Revilla became instant target for naughty netizens who probably valued the lawmaker’s speech as nothing but a desperate attempt to save face. More lies on top of his earlier lies. (Facebook users had a blast with the post where Revilla was tagged by as “Best Actor”, Revilla Sr., “Best Supporting Actor”; Lani Mercado, “Best Actress”; Jholo Revilla, “Best Child Actor” tied with his brother; Philip Salvador, “Best Friend”; and, a photo of evidentiary documents stacked on top of a Tonka truck was named “Best Float”) In his speech, Revilla also managed to fi re a few shots back at President Aquino, tagging Presidential sister Ballsy for her alleged involvement in the mess surrounding the purchase of new coaches and trains for the LRT. Sen. Bong also spoke of a secret meeting with PNoy in Malacañang where he was allegedly told by the President to vote for the impeachment of Corona. But who is telling the truth? Catching a thief is really much easier than catching a liar. But before the court of public opinion, Revilla may have already lost his case.


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T’S about time the Philippines and Filipinos wake up to the fact that privatization can’t work for the benefit of the people. Only the few oligarchs and their corporation’s shareholders, mostly hidden foreign fi nancial interests, benefit from privatization – particularly of public utilities and strategic enterprises that are fundamental to public welfare and the National Economy. The on-going hearings in the Philippine senate show that privatization and its companion policy, deregulation, has resulted in “market manipulation”, “regulatory capture” and overall capture of government due to the over-concentration of wealth in the few corporate hands. The U.S. is the fi rst major country where power privatization showed its ultimate follow, as early as year 2000 when Enron engaged in electric market supply manipulation and caused $ 50-Billion fi nancial collapse of the State of California. One would think that the U.S. learned from that, but no. Just in July 2013 the fi nancial giant J.P. Morgan accepted a fi ne of US$410 million from the Federal Electricity Regulation Commission (FERC) for electricity market manipulation – causing power rates to jack up inordinately. In the Philippine case two decades of electricity privatization has led to the highest power cost in

PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE Mentong Laurel Asia, and last month the highest in the world, and now senate hearings show incontrovertible evidence of Meralco and WESM market manipulations. Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV may be prescient in warning that “government may be forced to takeover the private power generation plants” just like in the past before the late Cory Aquino started the privatization process, given the bitter experience of the Filipino today facing the highest power costs in the World. To help provide the broader perspective of the Global Experience of the failure of privatization I’d like to highlight significant world news items on many different countries’ 30-years failed experiments of privatization and deregulation– of power and other public utilites: “Electric deregulation fails to live up to promises as bills soar” from the Associated Press in April 21, 2007 by Ryan Keith reporting from Benton, Illinois: “This wasn’t supposed to happen with deregulation. Electric

bills were supposed to go down. Instead, Ellie Dorchincez can almost see the dollars evaporating every time she turns on the lights or opens the freezer at her small Farm Fresh grocery store. Her electric bill, which used to be about $800 a month, has jumped to $1,800. She’s shut down a large freezer of frozen treats and now closes the store an hour early to cut costs but fears she still may have to raise prices and lay off some workers….” “Some Economic and Historical Aspects of Electric Deregulation” from Ferdinand E. Banks, Wed, 15 June 2011, “… in case you didn’t know, in southern California electric deregulation led to the wholesale electric price increasing by 533% in about 8 months. …. the California state government paid billions of dollars to fi rms generating electricity, with some of these fi rms called ‘out-of-thestate criminals’ by California governor Gray Davis, because they gamed the system by pretending that they could not supply more electricity…. something similar was experienced in Sweden last year. … Ten years have passed … in that period electric deregulation has also failed in Alberta and Ontario Canada. It failed in South Australia. It failed in almost every state in the United States of America where it was attempted,….” Turn to page 11

Compassion COMPASSION is among the alluring attributes of a president. In a country of Filipinos known to be “maawain” (compassionate) by nature, we should seriously note that Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos released from imprisonment an opposition senator, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., so he could go abroad for a by-pass surgery certified as urgent by Manila’s best cardiologists. The ailing senator was then confi ned at Fort Bonifacio after having been sentenced to death by a Military Tribunal. The dictator had, in fact, rejected earlier pleas from Ninoy that he instead be placed under house arrest because of constant chest pains. But Marcos knew that military confi nement was what was best for the latter’s security, since his detention at home would have made him an open target, and Marcos was too smart to ignore a probable plot by Communists to assassinate Aquino in order compromise him as the principal suspect. It was thus a dilemma of sorts for both men. However, fortunately for Macoy and Ninoy, the former was—as I personally knew him--so blessed with a “pusong mamon” (soft heart) that he authorized the latter’s immediate trip abroad for that treatment. While Ninoy was a beneficiary of Marcos’ compassion, can we now expect his son P-Noy to show as much compassion for former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is in dire need of a vertebral surgery, considering that her case before the Sandiganbayan is still pending trial

MUSINGS Ronald Roy (meaning, she’s still presumed innocent), while Ninoy had already been convicted when allowed to leave the country? Still languishing in the presidential suite of the VMMC (Veterans Memorial Medical Center), Gloria gloomily hopes against hope her petition for bail will be granted, considering that her three co-accused have long been out on bail. [Plunder charges involving intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) had been brought against her, PCSO Chairman Sergio Valencia, and former Directors Manoling Morato and Raymundo Roquero.]

How Cold Can A Human Heart Be?

Over the past month, GMA has been visited by such dignitaries as former presidents Fidel Ramos and Erap Estrada, former VP Noli de Castro, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Bishop Ramon Arguelles and Bro. Eddie Villanueva, not to mention “faceless” others who come to wish her well. They have all seen a very debilitated Gloria. She weighs a mere 70 pounds! Extreme pain prevents her from masticating and swallowing,

such that her meals must fi rst be ground and mashed each time. Certainly, anyone in Gloria’s place could consider her denial of bail to be utterly unjust, most especially where a junior member of the Sandiganbayan has reportedly leapfrogged to the top post with an order not to grant her bail petition. One wonders, truly, how cold a human heart can be.

Will Bong’s Tear Jerker Succeed?

One wonders too how far Sen. Bong Revilla will go in his attempt to exculpate himself from any liability that may arise from the pork-related plunder charges that the National Bureau of Investigation leveled against him some time ago. Revilla’s privilege speech—albeit in substandard English, and obviously prepared without the aid of a lawyer who would have taught him the difference between “impeach” and “convict” -- was a succinct denial of the charges, although he did not say he did not receive kickbacks. He confidently portrayed himself as a victim whose signature had been forged on a number of documents in some design to derail his chances for a higher office in the forthcoming 2016 elections. I don’t think he did well enough to earn exculpation, notwithstanding the mawkish sight of him embracing his infi rm father fighting back tears on a wheelchair -- an act seen as a cinematic tear jerker scripted to win support from movie land’s teeming masa, his bailiwick. Turn to page 11

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The Viewpoints and outlook of the well-informed

BSP Charter Change 2 IS there any need to change the charter of the BSP? There seems to be some reason, but an attempt to change the charter must be approached with great care. As of this time, I do not see too much need to do so, except perhaps for the fact that the foreign exchange operations of the BSP have generally resulted in their sustaining very substantial losses and the BSP will be needing also a substantial infusion of additional capital. Although what in effect is happening is that the BSP is subsidizing the public and industry trying to balance some degree of rate stability and the inflationary pressures that are ever present or there is a significant imbalance between demand and supply factors which might make the exchange rate unstable whether the losses incurred were necessary is another question. The experience of the trader costs money each and every day, and whether it is right that the people’s money be used in this way and to this extent is another. Truth is that while relatively free, our foreign exchange market is a controlled floating rate that has to contend not just with demand and supply factors but also with Central Bank intervention though their buying and selling is usually coursed thru some banks to “disguise” how deeply they might be intervening on any given day. But certainly they do and it sure costs

a whole lot of money annually, in fact, billions of pesos. How necessary that subsidy is a matter that needs to be periodically looked at, but it does constitute misappropriated expenditure of public money, so now, Congress needs to appropriate 150 billion to keep the BSP afloat. Don’t be alarmed if after another 4-5 years the same request for recapitalization will come around the bend again. No one in Congress or the Senate seems to be sophisticated or shall we say smart enough to wend their way through some of these complicated issues. The BSP seems to be beyond any kind of public scrutiny, and like most Central Banks seek to operate under everyone’s radar. They make public pronouncements that everything is ok, consistently under emphasize businesses and the public about some of the dangers that are coming and try to be a soothing voice. Sometimes that is alright, but there are times that we need to face facts and what is needed is an expert sober voice, not a PR effort and truly prescient regulators. But to go back to what we cited in our fi rst article, though somewhat dated, my perception is that the Supervision arm of the Central Bank leaves a lot to be desired. The level of competence and performance is too bureaucratic, the pace of action slow so that by the time they ride into town, often it

RAY OF HOPE Ramon Orosa is rather late in the game. If it was not just a PR ploy by the Governor, his statement that some shadow banking is going on has to be interpreted as a very serious observation. So why is he not acting on it now and has to await a change in the BSP charter. I submit the BSP at present has all the power to deal with the issue and put a stop to such practices. Indeed, for such chicanery, if practiced by banks, he should already have acted and publicly punished and castigated the offending banks. That is what the public seeks. Banks are not sacred cows and if the BSP is looking to the FRB, which is not a government entity anyway, they have not learned the lessons they need to learn from that debacle experienced by the US and from which they continue to suffer. If they are concerned about creating panic, or that perhaps some offending banks are too big to fail, then I would suggest that he begin to revise his frame of reference in

overseeing the banking sector of the economy. Times have changed. The BSP is expected and should be absolutely impartial and must favor public interest which means if someone is guilty of unsound practice or doing something illegal, such as fudging their books, the BSP should immediately take action to relieve offending personnel of the bank and levy very substantial fi nes. But the ruse of creating bogeys or straw men as a form of argumentation are college level tactics and unfortunate. There are other elements of common bank shareholders problems. For example if a dominant business group uses their bank arm to create studies for them, even economic studies or geographical assessments as a freebie, that should not be allowed. Let the benefitting company pay their way. Why? Because the bank partakes of public trust, because deposits from which they earn are not their money, and there is a serious fiduciary obligation that should not allow double dealing. Perhaps the rules on DOSRI should be expanded to ensure that all commercial banks deal with their affi liates at an arms length, including subsidiaries and affi liates and shareholders. For example, should the bank foreclose on an asset, shareholders should not be given preference in acquiring foreclosed as-

sets, but I know it is commonly done including at times by the very officers of the bank even with the consent of the board of directors. In one such instance I became aware of, a high rise condominium was resold to the officers of the bank on long term arrangements, but alas, kudos to the BSP, those sales were eventually reversed. See they do have the power already. Now, sometimes banks do get into trouble because of poor judgment, inadequate control and supervision of subordinates, poor training, lack of appropriate sophistication despite beautiful CVs; of course, international developments, etc. Prudence on the part of the BSP would be called for especially if there are several banks that get into trouble simultaneously. But do these developments need a change in the BSP charter? I think not. But it needs a BSP that is not a government bureaucratic agency, and while there is some need of confidentiality in their own activities and dealings especially at the Monetary Board level, the case for a charter amendment of the BSP save for its capital structure to me is not so compelling. There are some other changes that are not worth quibbling about, but the compelling issue is whether greater power is required at this time and my opinion is that it is not.

Hegemony in the Offing DESPITE many Chinese diplomatic assurances to the contrary, Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea is an attempt to re-establish traditional Chinese hegemony in the region. As of January 1, 2014 China’s Hainan province required all foreign fishing vessels to ask permission to enter more than half of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea. The new regulations adopted by China’s Hainan Province on implementing the country’s fishing law replaced the previous regulations that went into effect in 1993.

Nothing Unusual

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said there was nothing unusual about the new restrictions.”As a maritime nation it is normal and routine for China to make rules to regulate the conservation and management of maritime biological resources,” said Hua. “According to international laws, universal practice and domestic laws, the Chinese government bears the right and obligation to manage the biological and nonbiological resources on relevant islands, reefs and in relevant waters.... If someone asserts that the technical amendments on a provincial fishing regulation which has been implemented for years will pose a threat to regional peace and stability, it’s either due to lack of common sense or out of hidden intent”. But the United States says Chinese moves to restrict fishing in contested waters of the South China Sea are a “potentially dan-

gerous” escalation in the maritime dispute. Chinese authorities say the rules are well within their sovereign rights.


U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the new restrictions run counter to efforts to resolve the disputes multilaterally. “The passing of these restrictions on other countries’ fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea is a provocative and potentially dangerous act,” said Psaki. ( Even geopolitical analysts in the region believe that the absence of crisis settlement methods between China and neighboring Asian nation-states and the probability of confl ict situation emerging in the region will increase not excluding the possibility of armed confrontation. So the question asked by Elfren Cruz in his column in the Philippine Star–“How is it that the province of Hainan can claim jurisdiction over most of China’s claims of islets and atolls in the West Philippine Sea? Is this not the responsibility alone of the central government? Is it mere coincidence that Hainan province is also where a major Chinese naval base is located? This is the location of a dock for China’s only aircraft carrier and also the base for attack submarines.” Hainan province is the second largest province of China which explains why their major naval base is located (if one will look into the map closely, it is very near Luzon.) Quite obviously,

WHISTLE BLOWER Erick San Juan aside from the South China Sea’s untapped oil and gas reserves, the area is very rich with marine life including wide varieties of edible fish. That is why the predominantly privately owned fishing companies based in China are hard to control by Beijing’s central government even if these companies are already engaged in overfishing. Actually, as China looks for more fishing grounds, near or distant, collisions with neighboring countries happen more often especially with Vietnam and the Philippines.   Sadly, our experience with such maritime accident made our overseas workers victims whether they like it or not. Protests from country claimants in the South China Sea about this latest fishing regulations has been sent and it is for Beijing government to take action and instruct Hainan province to ease the tensions created by such act.

Nagging Question

But back to the nagging question—why this regulation by a China’s province being imposed ‘provocatively’ in the contested area?

To shed light to this question, from Foreign Affairs, Professor David Lampton wrote an article entitled “ How China is Ruled: Why It’s Getting Harder for Beijing to Govern.” According to him, this difficulty arises from the fact that China’s central government is operating in an environment radically different from the one that existed at the beginning of Deng’s tenure. He writes that these are the primary reasons governing has become more difficult than in the past: “First, individual Chinese leaders have become progressively weaker in relation to both one another and the rest of society. Second, Chinese society, as well as the economy and the bureaucracy has fractured, multiplying the number of constituencies. Third, China’s leadership must now confront a population with more resources, in terms of money, talent, and information than ever before.” However, today: “The combination of more densely packed urban population, rapidly rising aspirations and the spread of knowledge, and the greater ease of coordinating social action means that China’s leaders will fi nd it progressively more challenging to govern.” The leadership style of Xi Jingping is also being closely observed to see how he will deal with this changing environment. It is, of course, too early to determine what his path will be. He is presently still trying to consolidate his power over Communist Party political machinery, and even more critical, over the

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People’s Liberation Army. (Elfren Cruz) With China’s rising hegemony in the region and the assertiveness of its citizenry in imposing regulations that involves foreign fishing vessels, there will always be incidents that might trigger a regional conflict in the process especially with the United States who always advocates freedom of navigation in the area.

Uneasy, Violent Relations

Remember that “throughout history, relations between dominant and rising states have been uneasy—and often violent. Established powers tend to regard themselves as the defenders of an international order that they helped to create and from which they continue to benefit; rising powers feel constrained, even cheated, by the status quo and struggle against it to take what they think is rightfully theirs.” (Aaron L. Friedberg, the national interest online). So who will blink fi rst? The US is known for it’s ‘fi rst strike policy’ or doing preemptive strikes to neutralize the enemy. But China seems to do the same. China’s action is now being perceived as a violator of international laws and an open threat to regional security and stability. Multilateral discussion on this issue must be addressed by the ASEAN and by the UN as soon as possible to avoid the ‘inevitable’ which the ‘hidden hands’ behind the scene are fanning to create a situation to justify such wars in the offi ng.

january 27-february 2, 2014

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Ports BOI Promotes PH Tourism

Mison’s Mission at Immigration By Dong Maraya

THE public can expect more changes in the Bureau of Immigration this year. The newly designated Bureau of Immigration (BI) chief, Commissioner Siegfried Mison vowed to implement reforms to transform the bureau into a model government agency. Mison said the approval by President Aquino of the increase in the bureau’s budget from a PhP568-million budget last year to PhP601 million this year, greatly enhanced the bureau’s plans to vastly improve its services. “We appreciate the renewed trust and confidence given to us by the President. We will do our best for our people. We will continue our reform measures, ensure strict border controls against criminal elements and undesirable aliens, and enhance our relationships with other stakeholders this year,” Mison stressed.           


The Bureau administers and enforces the immigration, citi-


zenship and alien registration laws of the Philippines. It also plays a role in the enforcement of RA 9208 also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Acts of 2003. Mison believes that the bureau will be able to surmount its challenges with the support of its stakeholders. The bureau plans to strengthen its relationships with foreign chambers, business groups and people’s organizations to enable it to fulfill its mandate. Together with people’s organizations, Mison said the bureau will continue to safeguard the welfare of our people, most especially those victimized by human trafficking groups. Last year, the bureau implemented a “good guys in, bad guys out” policy which resulted in a smooth re-organization, increased revenue collection and enforcement of immigration laws. When Mison assumed office last July 16, 2013, he immediately enforced a stricter implementation of immigration laws meant to discourage the entry of foreign nationals with criminal records abroad.

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High Profile Fugitives

The BI caused the arrest of more than 15 high profile fugitives. Four hundred foreign nationals with warrants of deportation or Mission Orders or found to have violated immigration laws were arrested and charged for working without proper visas or permits. A total of 659 foreign criminals and fugitives hiding in country were arrested in 2013, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) revealed. The BI Commissioner said, most of the foreign fugitives arrested were involved in forgery and extortion, cybercrime, pornography or sexual conduct and economic crimes. The suspects were nabbed on the strength of warrant, mission order, interception while others surrendered voluntarily. He declared that the bureau’s “good guys in, bad guys out” campaign is in full swing and that more arrests of illegal and criminal aliens will be made in the coming months. While arresting undesirable aliens, the bureau extended its hand to foreign nationals who

want to upgrade their status in the country.

IT System

To further enhance its services, Mison says, the bureau will modernize its information technology systems as well as its surveillance systems in all airports and seaports throughout the country. Automating the bureau’s processes eliminates human intervention, which is the main source of corruption in previous administrations. Mison also vowed to combat human trafficking in the country through institutional dialogues and partnerships with people’s organizations. Hundreds of innocent Filipinos fall victim to human trafficking groups mostly based abroad.   Human trafficking, says Mison, is a scourge that must be stopped immediately. Mison said they have already alerted immigration personnel at the airport to be extra vigilant and foil attempts of these syndicates to use our country as venue for their nefarious activities.

TOURISM has been identified as one of the few potential growth sectors in mature economies. Many countries, attracted by the potential economic benefits, have embarked upon the development of tourism. In 2012, the Philippines recorded 4.27 million tourist arrivals, after the Department of Tourism launched a widely publicized tourism marketing campaign titled “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”. The Department of Tourism has reported a 10.5 percent increase in tourist arrivals indicating that the country is on track towards achieving its 2014 target and 10 million arrivals by 2016. Tourism is a major contributor to the economy of the Philippines, contributing 5.9% to the Philippine GDP in 2011. However, without the support of another government agency which is the Bureau of Immigration (BOI), this cannot be easy. One of the programs of the Bureau of Immigration that immensely helps the government’s drive to boost and sustain the gains in tourist arrivals is the one that intends to ease travel into the country. This is the “Trusted Traveler Program (TTP).” Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison announced that this program aims to allow expedited immigration clearance for pre-approved, low-risk air passengers upon arrival into and departure from the Philippines. He said the new program will enhance the bureau’s ability to expedite and facilitate immigration processing at international airports of known frequent travelers. Under the program, citizens of other countries who are allowed to enter the Philippines without an entry visa are eligible to enroll and participate. Those eligible in the program must have travelled to the Philippines as temporary visitor at least once in the immediately preceding 12 months and have stayed in the country for not more than 30 calendar days in each visit. The visitor must not have been convicted or charged of any crime, felony or offense in the country of nationality and no recorded violation of Philippine immigration laws. Members of the program shall enjoy pre-approved and expedited entry and exit clearances in Philippine international airports. Membership in the program is valid for three years unless sooner revoked by the Commissioner. At international airports, a member shall proceed to the immigration counter especially designated for the program and present his passport. The immigration officer shall immediately swipe his passport without further query or presentation of additional document. A traveler then will also enjoy less processing lines, no paperwork, and reduced queuing time that will result in fewer delays.


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Agriculture Alcala Opens Ambalgan RPC for Quality Rice AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso J. Alcala inaugurated the PhP32.2-million riceprocessing center (RPC) in Ambalgan, Sto. Niño, South Cotabato on January 17 as part of the government’s commitment to provide high quality rice to the Filipino people. During the ceremony, Alcala said the Department of Agriculture is eager in improving the quality of local rice thru the provision of a grain processing and storage facilities. Alcala said the Ambalgan RPC, which gives farmers’ access to postharvest facilities during bad weather conditions, is a priority project of the Aquino administration. To enable a more satisfactory operation and allow the users to import their rice products, the Secretary committed addi-

tional components including a rice sorter, a packing machine and a delivery truck unit. Once fully operational, the RPC—to be managed by the Firmus Farm Service Cooperative—will benefit more than 5,000 farmers. Its target areas cover 10,000 hectares of rice farms in Sto. Nino, as well as other rice-producing municipalities nearby. “These efforts seek to improve the rice sector amidst negative issues on rice smuggling which the government is extensively investigating,” Alcala said. Earlier, Alcala stressed that the DA has been firmly upholding the Agriculture Tarrification Act which imposes import restrictions on farm products. “For as long as the Act is in effect, rice traders need to obtain permits from the

National Food Authority (NFA) before shipping rice into the country or else these shipments would be considered as smuggled and seized upon arrival,” he added. Alcala said that despite not reaching 100% sufficiency in rice, the rice sector was able to increase from 82% in 2010 to 97% last year. He explained that the target was not achieved because of the varied weather conditions that affected harvesting in the last quarter of the year. However, he assured that despite the 3% shortfall, the country remains to have sufficient rice stocks in the market and NFA warehouses. “Hindi na po siguro masama na nasa 97% sufficiency level na po tayo,” he said, emphasizing that the level is 11% higher than three years ago.

Proceso J. Alcala

Water Flows in Lake Sebu Irrigation Project

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala inaugurated the P34million communal irrigation system in Barangay Talisay, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato which aims to provide constant water supply to more than 100 farmers living in the upland village of the town. The project, which was turned over to its beneficiaries on January 17, 2014, is comprised of two stream check diversion structures with 120 canals stretching to 5.6 kilometers. “This will serve 100 hectares (has) of existing farm areas and 100 has of new areas more,” the agri chief said. Alcala, in his message, urged the farmer-beneficiaries who are also members of the Talisay Irrigators’ Association to strictly implement and follow house rules related to the management of the irrigation project. “Pangalagaan po ninyo ito,” he said. While inspecting the project, he encouraged the farmers to plant fruit-bearing trees and raise livestock animals along the watershed to maximize area and double their income. He added that the fruits of

these trees will be sold to give additional income to the farmers. “Ang itatanim po natin dito ay sampalok na maasim dahil malaki ang requirements para dito, lalo na sa Amerika at Europa,” Alcala announced. He added that with over 10 million Filipinos abroad, the produce already have a market to serve. Aside from sour tamarinds, Alcala added that the Department will be dispersing coffee seedlings to be planted in the watershed area. “This effort will be a partnership of DA and the local government, pagtutulungan po namin ito,” he said. In line with the national government’s mission to uplift the agri sector in the countryside, the DA Office in Region XII, headed by Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan, will conduct farmers’ field schools in the community to train farmers and provide them technical skills on improved technology to enable them to attain high quality and sustainable supply of produce. (Adora Rodriguez/ DA-AFID)

DA Orders Ban Chinese Poultry THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered a temporary ban on imports of domestic and wild birds including poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen from China. The move follows a report of Director General Dr Zhang Zhongqui of the China Animal Disease Control Center, Veterinary Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture on 21 December last year on the bird flu status in China. The Departement of Agriculture said the Official Report of Dr Zhongqui states that an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus was detected in the villages of Zhungzhuang, Jiaozhuang and Baoding in Heibei, China. The Office Internationale

Des Epizooties (OIE) Animal Health Information Department confirmed the presence of H5 and H7 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. In line with the ban, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has ordered the immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation of applications for imports and the issuing of import licences from China as well as the confiscation of shipments of poultry commodities, with the exception on heat treated products. All Philippine Department of Agriculture Veterinary Quarantine Officers/Inspectors at all major ports have been instructed to implement the order effectively.

Despite Disasters…

PH Agri Output Up 1.15% in 2013 DESPITE the natural disasters that hit the country last year, Philippine agriculture production grew by 1.15 percent in 2013 as output in poultry, livestock, palay and fisheries subsectors cushioned the losses. This figure is, however, lower than the 4.3 percent to 5.3 percent farm output target laid out under the 2011 Philippine Development Plan. “Considering a very challenging year, this growth is significant,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said in a statement last week. In the statement, the Agriculture Department’s Bureau of the Agricultural Statistics reported total production amounted to PhP1.5 trillion at current prices, up 3.5 percent from P1.4 trillion in 2012. The Agriculture Department said 2013 was marked by destructive typhoons--Wilma, Yolanda and Zorayda—that affected the country’s key food production areas.  “It also reminds us how weather-dependent agriculture is, and therefore, the need to promote and support diversification and value-adding in food

processing is stronger than ever before,” Alcala said. Typhoon Yolanda destroyed high value crops in Eastern and Western Visayas such as coconut, rice and abaca. Meanwhile, Typhoon Santi which slammed Northern and Central Luzon in October, destroyed tons of palay and other crops. Still, farmers on average earned higher in 2013 as farmgate prices went up by 2.3 percent, mainly on higher demand for certain farm and fish products, according to the department. Earlier, the DA estimated rice output to grow 5.4% in the first half of 2014 because of expanded rice paddies and early replanting in typhoon-hit areas, the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said in a report. Farm output may reach reach 8.43 million metric tons (MT) from 7.99 million MT in the same comparable period, the bureau said. In the first six months of 2014, it said total harvest area may expand to 2.12 million hectares or 3.7 percent higher than last year’s 2.04 million hectares while yield per hectare may improve by 1.7 percent to 3.98 MT.


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“Probable bulk of production increments is expected to come from Western Visayas, Central Luzon, ARMM, Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula,” BAS said. “Harvest area may expand in these regions due to immediate replanting of damaged areas affected by Typhoons Santi and Yolanda, early plantings due to sufficiency of irrigation water and rainfall, utilization of infallow areas and availability of quality seeds from DA/PhilRice seed banking program,” it added. In 2013, palay production slightly went up by 2.3 percent to 18.44 million MT from 18.03 million MT in 2012, the bureau also said on Friday. The harvest area for the whole of 2013 expanded by 1.2 percent to 4.75 million hectares from 4.69 million hectares in the previous year while the yield per hectare grew by 1 percent to 3.89 MT from 3.84 MT. Higher palay production were recorded in Cagayan Valley, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Bicol Region, SOCCSKSARGEN and Caraga.

january 27-FEBRUARY 2, 2014

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Three Levels of Anti-Poverty Actions

Conquering... From page 12

shop with the objective of making it a major retail channel for both the local and international market.

Celebrity endorsers

Riding on the marketing strategy of having celebrities as endorsers—Penshoppe has had a formidable lineup of local celebrity endorsers including Nikki Gil, Heart Evangelista and Jericho Rosales. Meanwhile, its international endorsers include Mandy Moore who fi rst signed up with the company in 2001. In 2011, the brand signed Gossip Girl Ed Westwick as celebrity endorser. In May 2012, Leighton Meester,  also a Gossip Girl cast member, became the official endorser for Penhshoppe’s campaign “All Stars”. In October 2012, Penshoppe announced via its Twitter account that the brand will be endorsed by the music group One Direction. “Endorsers influence their fans to try out the brand or become more loyal to the brand.  Having prestigious endorsers adds prestige to the brand too,” Liu reasoned.

Men for that year. In 2012, he was hailed as the MVP Grand Bossing by the PLDT SME Nation. Raised a Catholic, Liu considers himself an instrument to promote better lives as he pursues the growth of his business promoting a teen culture that is clean fun-loving and pro-life. Married to the former Alice Tio Liu says he believes in the saying: pray hard, work hard and play hard.


For the success of his brand, Liu has received a number of awards and citations. An active member of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity Philippines Liu’s citations include The Success Story of the Millennium-Entrepreneurship Category at the 16th Philippine Advertising Congress in 1999; the Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship by the Philippine Marketing Association; and, the Outstanding Filipino Retailer for two consecutive years (2000 and 2001) by the Philippine Retailers Association. In 2001 the Philippine Junior Jaycees also chose him as one of The Outstanding Young

From the date of inception, GABC has grown into a formidable retail force. The company is regarded by both consumers and local industry players as one of the most successful fashion retail brand builders in the country today. Liu even welcomed the entry of global brands into the Philippines and its positive influence to the local industry. “It’s incredibly exciting for us, because it also educates the market to think more globally. At the same time, the competition further excites us and pushes us to constantly improve. In the end, the retail race will only become more intense and only those fit enough to run to the fi nish line will survive. We are all primed for the race,” he said. GABC presently employs over 3,000 people, and is one of the largest national garment retailers with more than 600 stores here and abroad. The company continually reaps successes in merchandising, marketing and retail, and has been distinguished by independent market researchers, industry stalwarts, and local and foreign award-giving bodies alike not just for its brands but in its corporate pursuits as well. “Penshoppe will continue to innovate in products and store design and enhance its brand management…the transformation continues, and we’re sure our customers will continue to be excited by the brand.” Liu said.


impeachment of CJ Renato C. Corona.

P-Noy’s Control Of Solons


awards and Citations

From page 4

Reacting to Bong Revilla’s privilege speech, P-Noy nonchalantly denied he ever influenced any senator- judge at CJ Renato C. Corona’s impeachment trial to convict the respondent. However, he seemed sheepish in explaining that he had invited some senators to the Palace before rendition of the verdict, supposedly to inform them of “outside pressures” out to ensure Corona’s acquittal, and that he merely wanted them to know he frowned on these pressures as anathema to what a proper impeachment should be. Ha?! If that was the case, can anyone explain the cloakand-dagger manner of Revilla’s being sneaked into the Palace grounds by no less than DILG Sec. Mar Roxas?! The fact is: President’s espousal of evidence-based impeachment decisions is hypocritical lip service, totally opposite his manifest influence, if not control, of both Houses of Congress in the

It is elementary that impeachments pertain to the exclusive domain of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House impeaches; the Senate tries then decides. Nowhere in the constitution is the President given a role to play in impeachments. The fact that impeachments are “political” does not confer him that role. “Political” here means impeachments are activities exclusively engaged in by legislators in REPRESENTATION of their respective constituencies. An Impeachment Court should behave like a court of justice impervious to public pressures. Otherwise, we may as well let impeachments be done by survey. From a pragmatic standpoint, the President’s impeachment would be an exercise in futility because he remains in full control of both Houses of Congress. (http://musingsbyroy | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy)


AM in the process of establishing United Foundations and Organizations (UFO), a consortium of foundations and organizations that would agree to the division of labor according to short term, medium term and long term tasks. The convenors have already agreed that rescue and relief are short term tasks, rehabilitation and rebuilding are medium term tasks, and competitiveness and sustainability are long term tasks. Having reached that agreement, I am now trying to interpret this division of labor so that it could apply to other challenges in nation building. The fi rst thing that came to my mind is the global war against poverty. In that connection, I think that it would be correct to say that poverty alleviation is a short term task; that poverty reduction is a medium term task; and that poverty eradication is a long term task. Could poverty really be eradicated? I say it could be, but fi rst, we need to agree on the defi nition that poverty alleviation is a qualitative measure, and its purpose is to lessen the impact of poverty without really reducing the number of victims. In contrast, poverty reduction is a quantitative measure, and its purpose is to statistically reduce the number of victims. I believe that, as of now, very few writers are using the term “victims” to refer to the people below the poverty line. I prefer to use that term now, because in truth, these people are victims of an economic system that completely works against them, working instead in favor of the economic elites. Going back to my question, I believe that poverty could be eradicated in specific jurisdictions such as cities and countries, even if it could not be completely eradicated worldwide. As it is now, poverty has already been eradicated in many exclusive villages. The second thing that came to my mind is disaster management. I think that it would be correct to say that disaster mitigation is a short term task; that disaster preparation is a medium term task, and disaster risk reduction is a long term task.

US Power... From page 4

26 November 2012, from Philip Soos of Deakin University, The Conversation: “’Why we should pull the plug on privatizing electricity’… Surging power prices are having savage consequences for household discretionary incomes.…Australian state governments have embarked upon privatization programs to varying degrees since the 1990s. There is only one small problem with privatization: the long-term history of the electricity industry has shown it almost always leads to disaster. University of Wollongong professor, Sharon Bender, has provided the evidence in the book Power Play: The Fight to Control the World’s Electricity. It supplies much needed historical context to the battle between public and private ownership played out over more than one hundred years in the United States and Britain, and the last couple of decades in Australia, Brazil and India….” Meanwhile, David Cameron’s coalition has signed a private finance initiative-style deal with

SCIENCE WORKS Ike Señeres But could disaster risks really be reduced? To answer this question, I would have to argue that rain is not the cause of floods. The cause of floods is the lack of drainage. Moreover, I would say that the cause of floods is the lack of solid waste management, or garbage recycling in simple terms. Both combined, I would say that a good drainage system plus a good recycling system could reduce the risks of flood damage. The third thing that came to mind is the problem of hunger. I think that feeding the hungry is a short term task; that community gardening is a medium term task, and food security is a long term task. At this point, it is important to distinguish between community gardening that is intended only for local consumption, and food security through a robust agriculture industry that is intended not only for national consumption, but also for international distribution. In case you are wondering why I am writing about disaster management while I am on the subject of poverty, I will answer that by saying that whenever disasters would strike, most of the victims are the poor people who tend to live in the disaster prone areas, where their dwellings are usually not disaster resistant. The truth is that poverty has been around long before climate change came around, and it could be said that it is the greed of the polluters that has brought this wrath upon the poor people. Architect Jun Palafox argues that in the case of the Yolanda disaster, the rescue component should have come before the relief component. I not only agree with him, I will also offer my own argument that in the second stage, the rehabilitation

one of the cartel, EDF, and two Chinese companies – all three state-owned, but by other states – to build a new nuclear reactor which will guarantee electricity prices at almost double their current level for the next 35 years…. “It should be obvious that powerful interests are driving what is by any objective measure a failed 30-year experiment – but which transfers income and wealth from workforce, public and state to the corporate sector. In the case of privatized utilities, that is the extraction of shareholder value on a vast scale from a captive public. What’s needed from utilities are security of supply, operation in the public interest, long-term planning and cost effectiveness without profiteering. The existing privatized utilities have failed on all counts. The case for public ownership of basic utilities and services – including electricity, gas, water and communications infrastructure – is overwhelming. It’s also supported by a large majority of the country’s voters. But it’s taboo in the political mainstream.” I could go on and on with quotes from articles spanning the globe as recent as last week,

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component should come before the rebuilding component. What I mean by that is that the basic utilities and public services (the soft projects) should be rehabilitated fi rst, before rebuilding the homes and the other infrastructure (the hard projects). I learned from my experience in the old Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS) that it is easier to give homes to the people, but it is harder to give them livelihood. Integrated Area Development (IAD) is even harder to do, but it has to be done. “Build Better and Build Smarter” is an objective that has to be done too. Simply rebuilding the shanties is not enough, because that is the easiest to do. It is also wrong to rebuild the shanties where they once stood, because that is where the disaster will probably strike again, as history has shown us. It is possible to reduce poverty where the disaster has struck. That should be enough for now, even if in theory, it is also possible to eradicate poverty in those places. Poverty reduction is easier said than done, but we have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is to identify a product that the local people could produce. Until such time that a better product could be identified, the logical choice is to grow vegetables fi rstly for their own consumption, then secondly for them to sell for profit when they have a surplus. In their search for a better product, they have to address the twin challenges of competitiveness and sustainability, because it would be difficult for them to sustain their production if they are not competitive in the market. Just in case that they would decide to relocate to higher ground, it may be a good idea for them to convert their former location into an agrofisheries complex, where they could grow high value fish and water fowls. Funny as it may sound, water fowls could survive in the water when there are floods, while the chickens would die. The fish too could survive the floods, and at least they would have something to eat. For feedback, email iseneres@ or text+639083159262

from Mumbai in India to La Paz in Bolivia, to Athens in Greece and even Bangkok, Thailand where one of the issues against the brother of current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin is the full privatization of Thailand power company. But the worse results from privatization of public utilities have transpired in the Philippines where power, water, toll fees, harbor services, telecommunications rates are among the highest in the world and the nation continues to reel from “GDP” growth, i.e. Gross Domestic Pain while poverty and hunger grow beyond any level before privatization became the national economic paradigm. Time to reverse course and put public welfare above private profit again. (My new e-mail – htlnow@; Watch “New Mass Transport System for R.P.” with, GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www. Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot. com; and text reactions to 09234095739)

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JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2, 2014 • VOL.4 NO.22

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SECTIONS POLITICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 OPINION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 BUSINESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 AGRICULTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 FOREIGN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P1 LIFESTYLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P4


Conquering Cebu & the World


ERNIE H. Liu was an architecture student who decided to go into the fashion retail business — desig n i ng and producing Tshirts for school and corporate giveaways using the his family’s small garments factory. Born and raised in Cebu, Liu fi nished his degree at the University of San Carlos in 1984 and passed the licensure examination for Architects the same year. After passing the board, Liu worked briefly for the family lumber business, Matimco, as he realized the big potential of branded fashion retailing in the country.

People Power

In March 1986, shortly after the EDSA People Power Revolution, Liu launched the Penshoppe brand in Cebu as the flagship product of his company Golden ABC Inc. (GABC) offering a line of onesized T-shirts with colorful and catchy prints that targeted the youth. Penshoppe thrived in the Visayas and Mindanao and officially became a national brand in 1991 when it opened its fi rst Manila boutique in the then newlyopened SM North EDSA in Quezon City. By that time, Penshoppe had already evolved into a lifestyle brand offering more than just T-shirts. Growth continued for the company as it created more brands catering to different market segments: Oxygen in 1996, Memo in 2002, and ForMe in 2004. In 2009 the company made its fi rst acquisition, Regatta, to complement the

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company’s already existing portfolio. In 2008 it opened its subsidiary Red Logo, a direct selling company and in 2011 the company added to its roster premium fashion brand Tyler. Oxygen, the second brand, caters to the alternative, more fashion-forward young crowd. “Our unflagging focus on the 13-20 age bracket market enables our trademarks to adopt to their evolving lifestyle and preferences,” Liu said in a magazine interview. Penshoppe was also the fi rst in the local retail industry to use bar coding and electronic data processing technology in tandem with department stores.

Going Global

Penshoppe started to go global starting with Dubai, opening their fi rst store in the reef mall. After a partnership with a local Indonesian conglomerate, Penshoppe opened a boutique in Central Park Square. Penshoppe is also sold in other Asian markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and even Australia. Penshoppe is also the fi rst local brand to open shop in China’s Xiamen province in 2002. While the endeavor was not entirely fruitful, Liu said they were able to pick up valuable business lessons with the China incursion. “Opening our fi rst store there (China) was a learning experience in many aspects for us. While it made us realize the potential of the market, we also had to look at the sustainability for its long term operations. Learning the nuances of retail trade laws in China and having the right retail partner in the country was a crucial lesson for us,” Liu admits. Exploiting the online shopping market, Penshoppe also launched its online Turn to page 11


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