pity nor compunction a few days after the bill was due, we did miss on several occasions paying our telephone bill and our monthly amortization for our housing loan from the Social Security System. There were times I felt sorry for my wife while we watched our one-year-old child enjoy her “chicken joy” at Jollibee, while neither of us took anything because we could not afford to order meals for ourselves after buying our weekly groceries at SM Supermarket. I felt self-pity when I had to rummage the shoe racks at SM in 1998 hoping to ﬁnd a pair of shoes for P200 or a little more—at a time when a decent pair of kids’ shoes cost at least P500—to replace a worn-out pair I was wearing. I had known hard times after my father died when I was 13. I call myself a self-made man with a sense of pride, having made my way through college on my own, ﬁrst as a construction laborer and then as a security guard, after I left my uncle’s household in Romblon to follow my stars elsewhere. But it is different when one faces trying times alone than when one wrestles with them to fend for a family. Alone, I had slept on piles of plywood at construction job sites with nary a care on whether I would breathe my last that night.
Like most idealist students in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the author admits he has been gobbled by the same system he had wanted to change out of necessity. OFWs leave their country not out of patriotic duty to prop up the economy but to earn for their families’ survival. I was living for myself with no family to worry about. But we all know that it is different when we have families to look after. We have to feather the nest and see to it that our households have decent meals on the dining table. Alone, we can be reckless gladiators taunting death; with our families depending on us, we become cautious knights taking risks only when necessary. That brings me to a dinner I had with Jun Anabo, a college classmate in Manila whom I met by chance a few months ago in a hospital here where my wife and I took our daughter for treatment of her coughing. We talked about
life in general—life in college, our hopes when we were young and how difﬁcult times had become back home after our economy had collapsed since the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It was time to hark back to the days of yore when we were young journalism students who had set up our own campus newsletter because we felt that the ofﬁcial school publication was not serving the interest of the students but those of the school administration and Marcos’. We belonged to a group of students who took seriously our share of the social burden to help change our corrupt social and
political system. It was at a time when migration to other countries, mainly to the United States, was the domain of doctors and nurses. It was a time when I felt that our doctors and nurses who migrated to the United States had no sense of patriotism. Over dinner at Shawly restaurant in Balad, we laughed at how we had lost the conviction to ﬁght for a better country. Like most idealist students in our time, we have been gobbled by the same system we had wanted to change. The traditional politicians, whom we had despised like plagues, won and have continued to dominate the political landscape back home. Also over dinner, Jun and I talked about migrating to other countries before “Saudization” catches up with us. That night we
MAY 1-15, 2011
were not the young gladiators we used to be. We were cautious old knights plotting a retreat to some foreign lands, forlorn that we had to leave our own homeland after it has been plundered by our politicians whose dreams could not go beyond basking in the glory of wealth and power. That Tuesday night was a bittersweet reminder that I have long shed off any illusion that I still have the burning fervor of a patriot in me, no matter if the government keeps on telling us overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), that we are “heroes” because our remittances help prop up our ailing economy. I am an OFW but I am not a hero. I did not come here out of my sense of patriotism but as a husband and a father who wanted to see a new dawn for my family, no matter if that dawn unfolds in some other country. I have come to terms with reality. Like millions of our compatriots who have left our homeland for greener pastures in other parts of the world, I have hitched my wagon to a caravan of Filipino migrant workers who have become strangers in our own country. (The author is an editor with the Saudi Gazette. This article is part of a collection of essays published in his book, The Gypsy Soul and Other Essays.) n
MAY 1-15, 2011
SOLUTIONS CORNER Wow, another great month has passed and we are closer to summer – maybe. This has been an enjoyable month with so many parties taking place. We had an entertaining time attending the Ms. Calgary Senior’s 2011 Coronation Gala. Thank you goes out to all those who made the event so successful and congratulations to each of the winners! You looked beautiful and deserve the praise you received. It was a blast ending the night with dancing – man those Seniors know how to party! I am not worried about growing old(er?). Once again Manny Pacquiao proved he is the best in the world! Was there any doubt? Thanks to Elbow River Casino and the Cream and Sugar Band for providing the entertainment! It was well worth the price. When is the next fight? April seems to be a popular month of Birthday celebrations for many people we know and we attended several. My apologies to those we missed – Ludy does not want to ruin her figure! We are more focused on activities that involve being active rather than just sitting, eating and yapping. Burning calories instead of over eating is our goal. Sometimes we have to choose one or the other. This month I wanted to comment on various things that are typically Filipino or Asian habits with some becoming common as Canadians adapt or accept them. Of course some of these habits, traditions or beliefs people like and accept them. Others are just used for criticism of our new Canadians. I will just list them and will attempt to be unbiased in my comments. These comparisons are the reason I originally titled this column “Another Angle.” An interesting practice that has increased in the last few years is the placing of a sign in the rear window of a vehicle that says “New Driver.” In the old days when a person started driving a vehicle on the street, they were trained and adequately tested so that they were good enough and safe enough to be behind the wheel. Safety was considered since they would be operating a 3 ton piece of steel capable of speeds up to 120 km per hour. Now with these signs in the window, often obstructing the rookie driver’s view, we have a warning and admittance that the new driver is “learning as he/she goes.” It will take many years of this practice of not training drivers BEFORE they hit the streets for society to realize it is not a good idea. Injury, permanent physical disabilities, death and financial hardship is the cost of allowing these inexperienced people the driving privilege. Unfortunately, a driver’s licence is just like a DeVry Certificate. You just pay your money and presto, you have your paperwork. No stringent testing anymore. Another odd thing I often observe is at a party where there is a buffet table. Initially, I notice when there is only one side of the table being used to get food. All the guests are now at the mercy of the slowest person, that one who has trouble making decisions and just stands there staring at the many choices. Don’t even try passing them at a buffet table! Not cool! This single line mentality kinda defeats the object of going with the buffet style – many food choices for a large crowd of diners. I also don’t really understand those people who set up a buffet table and insist on putting items at the start that are not required until the end of the table. Items such as utensils, condiments, sauces, napkins and even drinks. It is harder and slower to serve yourself the food when you are clutching a knife, fork, spoon, napkin and a glass of pop and this frequently leads to messy accidents. When a person gets to the end of the buffet table, with their full plate of food, then this is the time they need utensils and the other items. Go ahead – be a rebel and just try these few changes and your visitors will be surprised, or confused…At the same time you could dispense with the practice of passing the empty plates down the line to be handled by a dozen or more people before it gets to you. How unsanitary! Personally I do not see a need to be holding a plate when I am still too far away from the food to even smell it. Trust me; most people are perfectly capable of picking up their own plate, JUST BEFORE they get to the food. This month I recommend that you check out the Miss Philippines Calgary Canada Beauty Pageant. Taking place at the Polish-Canadian Cultural Centre on May 28, there will be many beautiful and talented ladies competing, with Coronation Night the following weekend. For tickets, and to cheer her on, call Mariedelle Velasco at (403)612-9131. You will be glad you did! On the same night you can also join in celebrating the 10th Anniversary of PCCF. Call Auring Dacanay for tickets today. How thrilling it is that Planet Philippines – Calgary Edition is bold enough to start publishing twice a month! Additionally, our friends in Edmonton are now enjoying Planet Philippines Edmonton Edition every month. These are exciting times in our Filipino community! In closing, please remember to get your Kasayahan tickets for June 25. Brush the dust off your bicycle and get the camping equipment out of the basement. Summer is here and it is time to get out and explore the cleanest country in the world. Be active! For my avid followers, you can contact me at email@example.com.
Dear Ate Jenn, I got myself into a really embarrassing mess. I used to have an amazing career with the same organization for over 21 years, making a substantial salary. But then the recession came and my employer eliminated my position. I have three kids and a mortgage. I was in denial so I solved my problem by gambling at the casino, thinking I can multiply my severance pay using my luck! Kaso lang, nalugi ako. I racked up my debt very fast and now I’m in about $75,000 in the hole. I finally decided to apply for work and I’m starting my new job next week. I don’t go to the casino any more because I learned my lesson. Kaso lang, ang bigat ng interest rates ng credit cards ko. Magiging bankrupt ba ako? Will I lose my home to a foreclosure or worse yet, both? Sabi kasi ng isang collection call na kukunin daw nila ang bahay ko pag hindi ako nag bayad. Naginginig na ako pag naririnig ko ang telepono. Former gambler Dear Former Gambler, Thank you for contacting me. I’m sure you feel you are a mess but in all honesty, you are already on the route to recovery. The reason why I say that is because you will be back to work next week as well as your wise decision to stop gambling…. You are setting a good example to your three children that when you make a mistake, you are willing to make amends and change for the better. So I challenge you to continue to do the right thing. Congratulations.! With regards to your debts, you’re right, if you are unable to keep up with your payments, your creditors will finally DICTATE what your options will be based on what is in THEIR best interest, not yours. Based on my calculations, your current minimum payments are about $1,200. I would not only be able to potentially reduce your monthly payment to $360 per month but also reduce your debt by up to $55,000 off.,with no interest, fully open and a low manageable payment that will allow you to also start having emergency savings in case something unexpected happens. I encourage you to give me a call immediately so we can put an end to your fears. I look forward to hearing from you! Ate Jenn
Changes to the AINP
The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is a great way for new people, cultures and ideas to come to Alberta. Last year, Alberta nominated 5,000 new immigrants to come to our province with their families and make it a better place to live. In March, I was happy to announce a change to the program that will help to address Alberta’s upcoming labour shortage. The AINP is made up of a number of different “streams.” Each stream has different guidelines on the application process. The new change will affect those who work in occupations that fall under Compulsory and Optional trades. Previously, temporary foreign workers who worked in the Optional trades would need to apply with their employer under the Employer Driven Stream. Employers would need to fill out all the necessary applications for applicants to be considered for AINP. Now foreign workers do not need to rely on their boss to apply with them - they can apply themselves. If you are a temporary foreign worker in one of the 50 designated compulsory or optional trades in Alberta, you will now apply to the AINP under the Strategic Recruitment Stream. In addition to this change, you must also get an Alberta Qualification Certificate from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT), to prove that you are a qualified journeyperson in their trade. More information on how you can get certified can be found at www.tradesecrets.alberta.ca. Since making the announcement, a number of unions, temporary foreign workers and employers have applauded the change. They agree that allowing certain skilled temporary workers to apply for the AINP themselves was the best way to tackle our province’s upcoming labour shortage - where we expect to be short 77,000 workers in the next 10 years. If you or somebody you know working in a Compulsory or Optional Trade has sent in an application form under the Employer Driven Stream after the date of March 14, 2011, it will be returned and you will simply need to apply under the newly designated stream. There is help to assist anyone who is interested in applying to AINP. There is detailed information on the AINP website at www.albertacanada.com/AINP. This website also provides application forms and information on processing times. You can also call our Immigrate to Alberta Information Service - toll-free within Alberta at 1-877-427-6419 or outside of Alberta at 780-427-6419. Your comments or concerns related to this article, or any future article, are always welcome. You can contact me by calling 780-415-4800 in Edmonton and area or 310-0000 and then 780-415-4800 for elsewhere in Alberta, or through email at EI.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Last issue I have talked about some tips and advantages in refinancing. This time, it is a must that I have to point out when to pass on refinancing. The following are instances when refinancing a mortgage will not benefit you. You are facing a pre-payment penalty on your current loan. The typical prepayment consists of the greater of the 3 months interest or the interest differential (which is basically 3% of your loan amount). Shockingly many borrowers who have pre-payment penalties on their mortgage are unaware of it. However most loans that have pre-payment penalties require separate riders or dis
closures attached to the mortgage note to serve as an added notice that a pre-payment penalty exists. If you are unsure or question whether your current loan has a pre-payment penalty, check with your lender or agent and more importantly check your copies of your loan documents. Always read what you sign at the title or escrow company. Yes there is a lot of paperwork but you can ask for copies from your loan or escrow officer in advance of your loan document signing appointment so you can read them at your leisure. Youâ€™ve already held onto the loan for some time now. If you are already 10 to 20 years into a 30 year mortgage then a size-
able portion of your payment is now being applied towards principal rather than interest. If you opted to refinance now to obtain a lower rate, but would re-extend the term, it would likely cost you more in the long run. Your credit score or overall credit rating has taken a hit. If you have had any recent delinquent or derogatory credit or have had the misfortune of missing an auto or mortgage payment (or worse yet have declared bankruptcy) then your credit might not permit you to obtain the best market rate and you might be better off holding onto the loan you already have.
MAY 1-15, 2011
Youâ€™ve maxed out on home equity loans and lines of credit and have squeezed as much cash from your house as possible. If this scenario sounds familiar then you may not have sufficient equity left to make it worthwhile to refinance at a low rate as most lenders require that you have 20% equity for a no-cash refinance and at least 25% to take cash out to receive the best rate and terms. These are guidelines that you can refer to in case of refinancing. It is always best to shop around and ask the professionals in the business or in your community. You can contact me anytime at 403-472-2262 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAY 1-15, 2011
BY ALEX PASTOR
WO YEARS after exchanging vows and months after the birth of their ﬁrst-born, Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos recently shared with us their intimate stories and their memorable experiences as a married couple.
RYAN AND JUDAY:
SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE
The couple are having a blast during their honeymoon in Spain.
What time do you wake up now that you have two kids in the house?
Judy Ann: Nung unang month ko after giving birth, maaga talaga akong nagigising, mga 5 or 6 am. Ngayon na tama na ang pattern ng pagtulog ni Lucio, nagigising na rin ako ng late kasi mahaba na ang tulog niya. Matagal na rin ang gising niya sa umaga.
Mahirap bang mag-adjust ng may bagong baby sa bahay?
Judy Ann: Oo naman kasi sanay kang walang iniintindi, wala kang iniisip pero after a while, prepared ka na rin kasi, after all, siyam na buwan din akong buntis. Dumarating talaga ’yung point na gusto mo nang manganak kasi ’pag dumating na ’yung
Juday sums up the joy of motherhood: Ang sarap lang ng pakiramdam na after mong mag-trabaho, meron kang uuwian na magpapa-ngiti sa iyo. Totoo pala talaga iyon, kasi akala ko dati overly dramatic lang ang mga nanay. Ngayon mas nagiging sensitive and selﬂess ka. So how’s domestic life treating you?
Judy Ann: I love it! Ito pala ang ibig sabihin ng domestic life. I’m just happy obviously. I wonder why so many girls do not enjoy domestic life when I do. I still enjoy having choices in my life, like just staying at home or going out with my friends. Masuwerte lang talaga ako na meron akong ganon na pinagpipilian. I really enjoy my life now. I’m very relaxed and very content with my husband.
then pinag-babaunan ko siya ng at least tatlong klaseng pagkain. Meat eater kasi siya and si Ryan naman ’di mahirap pakainin. Kung ano’ng nagustuhan niya, puwede niyang kainin ’yon ng isang lingo. Mahilig siya sa steak or sa steak omelet. I just make sure na ’yung mga niluluto ko ay puwede sa diet niya.
So what’s keeping you busy these days?
Judy Ann: Ngayon, wala. Ano lang, gym, patakbo-takbo, or shopping.
What’s your schedule like?
Judy Ann: When I wake up in the morning, pinapaliguan ko si Lucio, aalagaan ko muna siya, then play kami ni Johann (Johanna Lois, their adopted child). Si Ryan naman ’pag meron siyang ‘Eat Bulaga’ and kung wala kaming ma-orderan ng pagkain niya, ako ang nagluluto ng pagkain niya. Depende kung ano ang schedule niya for the day, if meron pa siyang taping for ‘Talentadong Pinoy’,
Two years after tying the knot, Ryan and Juday say they learn something new from each other every day.
baby, prepared ka na sa puyat, doon sa breast-feeding, ’yung mga ganon. Marami pang mga pagkain na hindi puwede sa iyo. Masuwerte lang ako na pag gising ako, gising din si Ryan.
So, now, what’s the best thing about being a mother?
Judy Ann: Everything. If you want to go home early, meron kang mga batang uuwian. Ang sarap lang ng pakiramdam na after mong mag-trabaho, meron kang uuwian na magpapa-ngiti sa iyo. Totoo pala talaga iyon, kasi akala ko dati overly dramatic lang ang mga nanay. Ngayon mas nagiging sensitive and selﬂess ka. Magshopping man ako, pag-uwi ko sa bahay, dalawang bagay lang pala ang nabili ko para sa akin, and the rest are para sa mga bata. Masarap talaga. I can’t wait pag-lumaki na si Lucio and nagtata-takbo na sila. Kasi ngayon buhat-buhat ko lang si Lucio. Excited na akong makita ’pag laki nila, especially kung saan sila magkakasundo ng tatay niya at kung saan sila magkaka-away. Kasi ngayon ang nakatutok kay Ryan ay si Johann.
Of course, there will be days when you argue with each other. How do you ﬁx such wrinkles? What do you normally argue or ﬁght about?
Judy Ann: Honestly, depende sa isyu. Minsan mabilis lang, minsan matagal. Longest ﬁght namin lasted for four days. Ryan: Our last fight was about my garage. Ang deal kasi namin, ’yung kitchen sa kanya, ’yung garahe sa akin. Eh one night when I got home, all my cars were out of the garage while hers were inside. Pero at the end of the day, we don’t really take our fights seriously. We always try to put humor in our life para lang ’di rin maging boring. Mas mabuti nang kaming dalawa ang magaway kesa magalit kami sa ibang katrabaho namin. Judy Ann: ’Pag meron kaming mga problems na ’di namin maayos agad, ang in-laws namin ang tumutulong din sa amin para madaling maayos ang problema. Ryan: Yes, we both have very good in-laws. Both our parents are more than willing to help us out.
Juday: “So, far nage-enjoy naman kami and marami pa kaming naiisip na gimik para mas lalo pang maging exciting ang marriage namin.”
Juday: “I really enjoy my life now. I’m very relaxed and very content with my husband.”
MAY 1-15, 2011
One more thing, she craves for the weirdest food in the middle of the night. Comfort food kasi siya eh, so she cooks really excellent gourmet food for me pero siya simple lang, like fried chicken or peppered tuna.
Do you still learn anything from each other?
Jokes Ryan: “Ang secret sa aming marriage ay separate kumot.” Judy Ann: Sometimes, we I surprise him. When he gets home, also argue about the TV remote. nagpa-ﬁne dining kami sa bahay. Minsan kasi nalunod na sa kumot Naka-setup lang sa garden namin. or sa comforter ’yung remote, so we end up tossing the whole bed para Are there things that Ryan does hanapin lang iyon. Despite all of that bother you? this though, it’s really fun to be Judy Ann: Nasanay na kasi ako married. So, far nage-enjoy naman sa kanya. Alam ko kung pagod na pakami and marami pa kaming naiisip god siya kasi ’pag uwi niya nakakalat na gimik para mas lalo pang maging lang sa ﬂoor ang damit niya. Pero exciting ang marriage namin. We OK lang talaga sa akin iyon. Parehas love surprising each other kahit na naman kasi kaming hindi OC. we agreed na not to surprise each Ryan: I know when she’s reother, especially with big gifts. ally hungry, ’di na niya ako pinagMinsan kasi ’pag may nakita ka na sisilbihan. Normally ’pag OK lang alam mo talagang magugustuhan ng siya, lalagyan pa niya ako sa plato asawa mo, you will still get it para ng ulam, ng kanin at drink sa baso, i-surprise siya. Minsan pag-naisip ko pero alam ko pag-gutom na talaga na magluto ng ﬁne dining sa bahay, siya, ’di na niya gagawin lahat ’yun.
Judy Ann: Of course. Every day we learn something new from each other. Especially for me, kasi normally si Ryan tahimik lang ’yan kahit na may mali akong nagawa pero when I ask him for help on things, he tells me naman what he thinks, his opinions and his suggestions. Sasabihin niya sa akin ’yung pros and cons if I decide to do a certain thing. Meron kaming ganon. Lagi naman akong may choice on what I’d like to do. Importante sa akin na malaman kung ano’ng iniisip niya kasi admittedly, mas marami siyang alam kaysa sa akin. Ryan: I’ve been learning a lot as well. One of the things I’ve learned is how to be not so abrasive kasi bilang lalaki, I’ve normally had my way or had to force my way to get what I want. With her, I’ve learned about subtlety and how she gets her way with people without being too aggressive about it. We’ve been together for seven years now, including ’yung time na we were still dating. I’ve learned how to be kind on a daily basis, even when dealing with our kids. (Business Mirror) n
Are you the jealous type?
Judy Ann: (Laughs) ’Di ko aaminin.’Di pa ako masyadong marunong umamin na nagse-selos ako.
What’s the secret to your marriage?
Ryan: Ang secret sa aming marriage ay separate kumot. Judy Ann: Palagi kasi kaming nag-aagawan sa kumot. Sa umaga pagka-gising niya, aawayin niya ako, kasi inagaw ko raw ang kumot niya. Ryan: Ito kasi ang hilig mangagaw ng kumot. Kahit gaano pa kalaki ng kumot, she still manages to hog the whole kumot kaya pagka-gising ko sa umaga, I end up having cough the next day kasi nalamigan ang likod ko. So, just to avoid any arguments, two separate kumot kami and if it’s possible, two lababo na rin para ’di kami nag-uumpugan when we both brush our teeth at the same time.
SUDOKU RULES: Place a number from 1-9 in each empty cell. Each row, column and 3x3 block bounded by bold line (9 blocks) contains all the numbers from 1-9
SOLUTION ON PAGE 23
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MAY 1-15, 2011
CELEBR TY WILLIE FACES 2 RAPS FOR CHILD ABUSE CONTROVERSIAL TV host Willie Revillame is facing two separate criminal cases in connection with a 6-year-old boy’s “lewd” dance on his show Willing Willie last March 12. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) charged Willie with violation of Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, ﬁled on April 27 before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Ofﬁce. Concerned citizens who joined the complaint include Fr. Robert Reyes, Froilan Grate and
ROBIN, MARIEL PUT OFF CATHOLIC WEDDING ROBIN Padilla and Mariel Rodriguez have decided to postpone their plan to get married in Catholic rites this coming June. This came after the Church said it won’t allow their union under its rules because of certain Islam practices and beliefs that are in conﬂict with those of the Church. Robin, a Muslim, and Mariel, a Catholic, were married in Islam rites in India on Aug. 19, 2010. Mariel said retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz sent them some documents laying down the rules of Roman Catholicism. “So far it’s (Catholic marriage) on hold. Ewan ko ba. May ipinadalang paper ng rules si Archbishop. Mayroon kasi doong
WILLIE blogger Noemi Lardizabal-Dado. “Our decision to initiate legal proceedings is pursuant to our mandate to protect children who are vic-
ROBIN and MARIEL parts na kailangan, hindi puwedeng magpakasal kapag iba ang religion kasi nga ang Muslim puwedeng magpakasal ng more than one na babae,” she said. Mariel said she would not ask Robin to convert to Catholicism even if the documents mentioned this is one way for their planned marriage to push through. She said she and Robin are ﬁnding ways to make their Catholic wedding happen. “Sabi niya wala naman tayong magagawa, rules iyan,” she said. “Ang puwede lang siguro nating magawa is makikiusap tayo. Sobra siyang mellow pero naiintindihan ko na ginagawa niya ‘yon to make me feel better kasi naa-affect ako, nakikita niya.”
REGINE CONFIRMS PREGNANCY AFTER keeping silent for weeks amidst reports that she is infanticipating, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid has ﬁnally conﬁrmed that she is indeed pregnant. “Alam po namin na marami na kayong naririnig pero siyempre maganda na sa amin mismo manggaling kung ano na talaga [ang] nangyayari. Totoo po na Ogie and I are going to have a baby,” Regine said during a taped interview aired over GMA News TV’s Balitanghali on April 18. In separate report on 24 Oras last April17, showbiz reporter Aubrey Carampel quoted the singer-actress as saying that the seven-week pregnancy is a “dream come true” and that it was the best gift she received for her birthday on April 22.
tims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. It is also in response to the public clamor for government intervention regarding Mr. Revillame’s actuations toward the little boy in that unfortunate episode of Willing Willie,” DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said in an ofﬁcial statement. Earlier on April 25, Willie and top ofﬁcials of TV5 were sued for child abuse by six people, including ofﬁcials of the End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafﬁcking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT). Other respondents were TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, and top ofﬁcials of the broadcast company. “The depiction of the child in such a sexualized fashion is tantamount to abuse and exploitation,” according to the complaint sheet. “The degrading exhibition is compounded by the cruelty of the show’s main host, mocking his [boy’s] appearance amidst the laughter of the jeering crowd.”
“It’s very difﬁcult to have a pregnancy, God has blessed us and of course it comes with prayers,” her husband singersongwriter Ogie Alcasid said in the same report. The 41-year-old Regine said the doctor has advised her to stay in bed for a while because she is having a delicate pregnancy. She recently left her GMA-7 teleseryere I ♥ You Pare allegedly due to migraine. She was replaced by Iza Calzado.
CHIZ: LEAVE US ALONE! LEAVE us alone! That’s the appeal of Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero after he was swamped with calls and requests for interviews in the wake of entertainment columnist Ricky Lo’s report in the Philippine Star that Chiz and his wife of 10 years, Tintin, have separated. Lo said it was “somebody who
loves both Chiz and Tintin dearly” who told him the real score between the couple. He reported that the two have been living apart for ﬁve months now. Quoting his “Very Deep Penetration Agent,” who purports to be close to the couple, Lo said it is not known at this time if there is a third party involved. “What I know is that they just drifted apart,” said Lo’s alleged VDPA. Chiz and Tintin refused to comment on the report. They are the parents of 3-year-old fraternal twins.
WILL HEART & DANIEL TIE THE KNOT SOON?
THE father of Heart Evangelista feels that wedding bells are just around the corner for his daughter and her boyfriend, BrazilianJapanese model-actor Daniel Matsunaga. But if he could have his way, he wants Heart to ﬁrst be ﬁnancially secure before taking the plunge. “Yung daddy ko, sabi niya, ‘Parang nararamdaman yata kita na ito na ‘yon, ha!’ Sabi niya ‘Huwag ka munang magpakasal, ha? Tulungan muna kita. Ako ang hahawak ng pera mo. Ayusin na muna natin yung business,’” related Heart.
HEART and DANIEL “So, sabi niya, ‘At least kahit hindi ka na mag-artista, kumikita ka ng ganitong amount para okey yung lifestyle mo. Baka naman maaawa ako sa iyo, ma-depress ka na hindi mo na mabili yung mga gusto mong bilhin. Siyempre sasabihin mo lang ‘yan ngayon, pero pag nandiyan ka na, medyo mahihirapan ka ng konti. So, ito gagawin natin’... Pinaplano na niya!,” she added. She again showered Daniel with compliments. “Si Daniel, mabait talaga siya. Kasi iba talaga yung kultura nila, [he’s] very patient tsaka anghel talaga. Pero hindi naman ako demonyita!” she said, laughing. Heart disclosed that Daniel’s wish is to play professional football in the country and be given the chance to join the Azkals, the Philippine national football team.
MAY 1-15, 2011
CHARICE RETURNS TO ‘GLEE’
PACQUIAO HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETE IN 2010 MANNY Pacquiao is truly hard to match, almost impossible, on and off the ring. For one, he’d gone undefeated in 13 ﬁghts stretching back to March of 2005, in the process becoming the only boxer in history to win eight world titles in as many weight classes. Last year, he fought twice, and of course, won twice. He defeated and crushed ﬁghters bigger, taller and heavier than him, Joshua Clottey in March and Antonio Margarito in November. For these two ﬁghts, the ﬁghting congressman from the Philippines earned an estimated $32 million (about P1.376 billion), based on a report that will come out of the May 2, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine. It was enough to earn Pacquiao a new tag: The Best Paid Athlete of Year 2010. He shared the pricey distinction with only one other athlete, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, international singing sensation Charice will sing the country’s national anthem in the Manny Pacquiao-
being mobbed by fans, both of the famous and non-famous variety.” It also said, “Charice tackles one of the greatest empowerment anthems of all time, Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself and as expected, Charice slays it.” Billboard.com wrote that if Charice was given the chance, the singing sensation would like to sing her new song on Glee and that she would also like to duet with Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Charice said she is thankful to Glee for the exposure she got after appearing on the hit Fox TV series. She said a lot of people recognize her now as “Sunshine Corazon.”
MANNY Shane Mosley showdown at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 7. Like in his previous ﬁghts, it was Pacquiao who handpicked the 18-year-old rising Asian pop star. Pacquiao is busy off the ring rehearsing with his MP Band for his post-ﬁght concerts – one in Las Vegas and another in California.
LOVI EMBRACES ROLE AS SEDUCTRESS
LOVI POE’S sexier image has been gaining attention, a major departure from when she ﬁrst broke into the industry as a conservative ingénue. “It’s all about looking for a certain style that ﬁts me,” she says. “Hindi naman ako magsusuot ng ganitong klaseng damit if I feel na hindi bagay. But I try not to look sexy parati. May occasion naman tayo na pinupuntahan that I have to dress appropriately.” In Regal Films’ upcoming remake of the “cult classic” Temptation Island, the 21-year-old will sexily cavort on the beach with the likes of Marian Rivera, Heart Evangelista, Solenn Heusaff, and Rufa Mae Quinto. In the movie, Lovi plays Seraﬁna, a seductress who bullies her maid, portrayed by Rufa Mae. She joked that there wasn’t much preparation to the role. “It’s not unequivocally that distant from me… Just kidding! we know a lot of people like that,” adding, “I only watched lang and, hopefully, mabigyan ko ng probity ang purpose ko.” Asked whether there was competition among the beauties on the set, Lovi said, “We actually don’t care kasi hindi naman kami nagkocompete sa isa’t isa. We’re just enjoying, and we’re trying to make
FANS of Charice, collectively known as Chasters, were delighted and ecstatic over their idol’s comeback episode on the popular musicalcomedy show Glee last April 19. Charice’s second appearance happened almost seven months after her debut in September when Glee had its Season 2 premiere. Meanwhile, Charice’s rise now seems to be unstoppable. She is now considered a rising star in the United States. Her second appearance on Glee has been widely reported. The New York Post wrote, “Since absolutely exploding in 2007, 18-year-old Charice is incapable of going anywhere without
SHARON OPEN TO ADOPTING AGAIN
SHARON Cuneta, who adopted a baby boy named Miguel last year, said that she is open to the idea of adopting again. “I’d love to [adopt again]. Pero you have to be smart about it in the sense na aware ka dun sa hindi lang ‘yung basta nagadopt ka [dahil] nandyan siya,” she explained. “’Yung responsibility na bibigyan mo siya ng attention. Kaya mo bang hatiin ang atensyon mo?” She said one-and-a-half year old Miguel has brought their family so much happiness. “Masayang-masaya na kami noon with our kids pero sumobrang
talagang dagdag ng kaligayan ng batang ito,” beamed Sharon, adding that having a baby boy is a welcome change since all her kids are girls. Sharon said that she sometimes forgets that Miguel is adopted because the boy displays characteristics that are so much like hers and Kiko’s. “’Yung mga ate niya (Frankie and Miel) mahal na mahal niya, mahal na mahal siya. Takbo silang lahat ‘pag andyan sa bahay from school. Napaka-happy tsaka funny siya.” She said that dividing attention among her four kids has proven to be challenging.
ANGEL HAPPY WITH HER LEADING MEN
LOVI sure na maganda ang pelikula.” As a matter of fact, she had a great time with her female co-stars. “Masaya! Grabe na ang bonding namin, next level na ang bonding namin!” She’ll be sharing an intimate scene with Aljur Abrenica. She described the hunky actor by saying, “Si Aljur super gentleman siya sa scene namin. Hindi siya nag-take advantage. Ako pa nagsabi sa kanya, ‘Go, it’s okay. Minsan lang ito.’” Off-screen, when asked if she was interesting suitors right now, she replied, “Wala e, nagkataon lang wala. Walang time, no time for it.” She recently broke up with actor Jolo Revilla. Although the two brieﬂy met up during Holy Week, in separate camps, she says there was no reconciliation. “Na-close na namin ang section na yun, there’s no need to go back.”
ON THE gossip program The Buzz, host Boy Abunda recently grilled Angel Locsin on her love life; speciﬁcally her relationship with popular Azkals football player Phil Younghusband, who publicly stated his attraction to the 25-yearold actress. Asked whether she was entertaining his intentions, she was unsure, but revealed they have kept in touch regularly. “Hindi ko alam kung panliligaw yun, but lagi kaming magkausap ngayon. Palagi siyang nagti-text sa akin.” Phil was invited to Angel’s house, where he met her friends and family. She said she appreciated his courage in facing her family. She added that they only see each other when both their busy schedules permit. “Minsan kapag Sunday, yung pinaka-off day namin, nagkikita kami. Church. Niyaya niya akong mag-church.” With her not having a boyfriend for so long (she broke up with actor-host Luis Manzano in
2009), Boy asked if Phil could be a “special someone.” “Hindi ko alam kung ano ang sasabihin ko... Pero ano, he makes me happy sa ngayon!” Angel joked. Angel’s manager, Ethel Ramos, pointed out that Angel’s so busy with work, she doubts Angel has time to meet often with Phil.
She recently worked with Aga Mulach in Star Cinema’s In the Name of Love. She likened the iconic leading man to a “big kid.” “He’s always excited to be on the set. [But] he’s smart and makes sense. I can always run to him… when I have problems. He’s cool and always calm. Even though we are all panicking, he remains relaxed,” she says. They were able to shoot some scenes in Japan before it’s recent natural disasters. “We managed to shoot beautiful scenes and visit our kababayan there.” She’s also busy on the small screen with another popular leading man, co-starring with John Lloyd Cruz on the ABS’CBN’s supernatural soap Imortal. “I waited so long to do a project with John Lloyd,” she said, adding, “I can say he’s the best actor of our generation.” On what she’s learned from the popular young actor: “Professionalism, patience, perseverance and dedication.”
MAY 1-15, 2011
Local television feeds Filipinos a steady, dirty diet of trash, according to leading ﬁlm and television critic Lito Zulueta.
AST-TALKING comedian Willie Revillame is one of the most popular TV personalities in the country with a legion of poor fans who crave the thick wads of cash he hands out to audience members.
But to many critics, the 50year-old star represents all that is wrong with an industry that they say has for years promoted lowbrow entertainment and toilet humor. Producers at TV5 yanked Revillame’s Willing Willie show off the air on April 11 amid an uproar over a segment involving a crying six-year-old boy the host cajoled into simulating a striptease for P10,000. (Editor’s note: Willie said he was taking a leave for two weeks to ponder his next move and stressed he was not suspended by TV5. The network later said it would resume Willie’s show but admitted that its content needed improvement.) The incident on March 12 has sparked a heated debate over the standards of Philippine television, with some calling for an end to shows they say prey on the poor and debase moral values in the conservative Catholic nation. “Local television feeds Filipinos a steady, dirty diet of trash,” leading ﬁlm and television critic Lito Zulueta told Agence France-Presse. He said Revillame was a creation of an industry that had lost its moral compass as networks fought an intense ratings war. “Television people forgot the canons of ethics and good taste, thereby contributing to the shallowness of Filipino pop culture,” said Zulueta, a senior member of Manila’s movie critics association. In Revillame’s show, studio
To many critics, Willie Revillame represents all that is wrong with an industry that they say has for years promoted low-brow entertainment and toilet humor.
STIRS DEBATE ON STATE OF TELEVISION
A local ﬁlm critic says Willie Revillame is a creation of an industry that had lost its moral compass as networks fought an intense ratings war. “Television people forgot the canons of ethics and good taste, thereby contributing to the shallowness of Filipino pop culture.” audiences get the chance to win cash, cars, houses and other prizes by dancing and doing other acts on stage, but also by having to recount their problems with poverty and other hardships. With a third of the country’s 94 million population living on a dollar or less a day, Revillame’s prizes appear as golden tickets to a better life while his show offers TV viewers a temporary escape from their hardships. Highlighting the desperation of the poor, 78 fans were killed in a stampede in 2006 as they lined up to join Revillame’s previous show on ABS-CBN. Zulueta and other critics said Revillame was not the sole purveyor of bad taste, pointing to other reality shows that promote greed and open hostility among contestants. Meanwhile, scantily clad women who gyrate on stage and ﬂirt with game show hosts are common fare on prime-time TV, while senseless plots in soap op-
eras copied mostly from South Korean and Mexican telenovelas are a dime a dozen. Daytime comedy shows accessible to children also use language heavy in sexual innuendo, in a country where sex education in schools remains controversial. A soap opera that recently completed its run on one network was patterned after a 1980s-era soft-porn movie about a 14-yearold girl in a sexual adventure with two men, leading to unwanted pregnancy. Another talk show currently on air allows housewives and mistresses, and warring neighbors to confront each other, often leading to verbal abuse and punch-ups, hair-pulling and other angry en-
Senseless plots in soap operas copied mostly from South Korean and Mexican telenovelas are a dime a dozen. counters on live television. Content of this kind may be considered common in the West, but is much more controversial in the Philippines where about 80% of the population are Catholic and the church remains a powerful moral force.
Divorce and abortion remain illegal here, and conservative lawmakers have repeatedly rejected bills that would promote artiﬁcial contraceptives. In an emotionally charged appeal on her blog recently, theater actress Monique Wilson called on her fellow artists to help raise television standards and boycott exploitative, low-brow shows. Wilson, who counts among her achievements the lead role in the West End production of the Miss Saigon musical in the early 1990s, said television was supposed to empower and educate. ‘”When you see shows like Willing Willie -- and many other similar shows -- they do the opposite,” she said. “They dumb down audiences. They disempower them by creating a mendicant society with game shows that promise quick money. They keep them dependent on handouts, instead of creating opportunities for them to build on skills.” Veteran TV programmer Nessa Valdellon joined the chorus of calls in the mainstream press for advertisers to invest on shows that provoke critical thinking. “It’s not just a pipe dream. I believe the Pinoy (Filipino) audience is a thinking audience,” Valdellon told AFP. Nevertheless, many critics believe Revillame will soon be back on the air, with his show currently only being suspended for two weeks and the host deﬁant about his style of entertainment. “The program aims to provide a venue for everyone to show their talents, tell their stories and make their dreams come true,” he said in a joint statement with his employers. (AFP) n
GUTIERREZ RESIGNS; IMPEACH TRIAL ABORTED
FTER MONTHS of tough talk, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez quit her post on April 29, saying the time spent removing her from ofﬁce would be better used to solve the country’s problems.
Up to the end, Gutierrez continued to deny that she had been protecting former President Gloria MacapagalArroyo—one of the persistent allegations leveled at her by her critics. President Benigno Aquino III, who had made no secret of his conviction that Gutierrez should go, received her in Malacañang when she came on the morning of April 29 to submit her resignation letter. “I repeated to her that this ﬁght was not personal. I have a commitment to the public to uphold the Constitution to which I subscribed,” the President said in a press conference later in the day. He said he thanked Gutierrez for her decision and also acceded to her request that she retain her security
detail. A top member of the once-ruling Lakas-Kampi, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the issue, said Gutierrez quit her post because of mental anguish and lack of support from Arroyo. Her resignation takes effect on May 6, three days shy of the opening of Congress and the start of her impeachment trial at the Senate. At his press conference, Mr. Aquino said Gutierrez “personally submitted to me her resignation as our country’s Ombudsman, effective May 6.” “Her action has spared the country a long and divisive impeachment process that would have distracted
SOME PRIESTS SUPPORT RH BILL
DESPITE THE staunch opposition of the Catholic Church to the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, there are some priests who support it, a bishop has disclosed. “Well, in the Church, there’s a space for dissent also... Even the 10 commandments, there are many who disobey it, right?” said Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, in an interview. He said these priests have not openly voiced their support for the bill but bishops are aware of their positions. “We leave it to their conscience. We respect that. But majority are not in favor. I think, in their own moral and theological discernment, we should respect them for that,” Aniceto said. He said these priests are misguided or lack sufﬁcient knowledge about the provisions of the bill. Meanwhile an ofﬁcial of CBCP said advocates of the RH bill are no better than terrorists because the measure could lead to the death of innocents. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP vice president, said condoms and abortion were tantamount to killing the innocent.
Reacting to reports that the bill was gaining adherents even from other religious groups, Palma said on Radyo Inquirer dzIQ: “I hope that it is not true. If it is, we can only pray.” “If people vote because of money then it’s almost like becoming Judas,” Palma said. Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal said that it was futile for the Church to continue holding talks with Malacañang because the President had already made up his mind on the issue. Malacañang said it was “not the enemy” of the Church in the debate on the RH bill. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino wanted the government to serve as a “referee” to those for and against it. Lacierda said the Palace was ready to resume its dialogue with Catholic bishops despite Vidal’s call for the Church to back out from it. The Palace earlier initiated the dialogue with the Church in an effort to include its inputs in the bill that would see couples being given information on all family planning methods so they could have an informed decision when planning the size of their families. After four meetings, the Church backed out. n
GUTIERREZ our lawmakers from dealing with the many problems that we face today. It also paves the way for the appointment of a new Ombudsman,” he said. The President said he was happy with Gutierrez’s “unexpected” resignation as it removed one stumbling block in his administration’s campaign to go after grafters, particularly persons “of higher priority.” “How can one not be happy when she did that? How can one not be glad now that there is one less worry to spend time on?” he said. He added that Congress would now also have more time to tackle the administration’s priority bills. In her own press conference where she read a prepared statement, Gutierrez said “it is my fervent hope that the misconception bred that having been appointed to public ofﬁce by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I owed my allegiance to her and am accountable only to her, and not to the Filipino people and the Constitution, be discarded and laid to rest.” “While I acknowledge with deep gratitude the opportunity given me by ... Arroyo, my undivided loyalty always was, is and will forever remain, to the Constitution and the Filipino people,” she said. She said she had not succumbed to pressure, been cowed into submission, or been inﬂuenced by anything other than truth and justice. Gutierrez further said that in resigning, she hoped that the country would focus on solving problems rather than spend resources to remove her from ofﬁce. The President thanked the House of Representatives, which had voted to impeach Gutierrez, and urged the Judicial and Bar Council “to begin the search for a new Ombudsman.” He said that he was still consulting his legal advisers as to whether the new Ombudsman should serve out the remainder of Gutierrez’s term or be given a full term in ofﬁce. n
MAY 1-15, 2011
GMA, 9 OTHERS CHARGED FOR OWWA FUND DIVERSION
EVERYONE who signed a resolution of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Board of Trustees for the approval of the transfer of over P530-million worth of overseas Filipino workers’(OFW) funds to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth/PHIC) in February 2004 will be included in the plunder complaint ﬁled by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 3 others. The transfer of funds forms part of the basis for the ﬁling of a P554million plunder complaint ﬁled on April 26 against Arroyo, former Executive Secretary and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and former OWWA administrator Virgilio Angelo. Chavez said he could not afford to be selective of who should be made accountable for OWWA Board resolution No. 005 Series of 2004 dated February 2, 2004, which allowed the transfer of the funds to Philhealth from the OWWA Medicare Program. “Everybody is to be held accountable,” Chavez said. Those who signed the resolution were then Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas
who was also then chairperson of the board; Angelo, board vice-chair; then Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) administrator and now Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz; Manuel Imson, former Labor Undersecretary; Mina Figueroa, a representative of the Finance Department; Caroline Rogge (management sector); Victorino Balais (labor sector), Gregorio Oca (sea-based sector); and Virginia Pasalo (women’s sector). Chavez planned to ﬁle in June when he returns from a month-long US trip. In the plunder complaint he ﬁled against Arroyo, et al., Chavez claimed that the transfer of OWWA funds to Philhealth was “for purely partisan purposes, particularly to enhance the electoral campaign of respondent GMA in the 2004 elections.” The plunder case was the second suit brought against Arroyo in April. On April 4, a P15-million civil suit was lodged against her and 10 others for illegal arrest and torture in connection with the detention of the so-called “Morong 43” suspected communist guerrillas. Malacañang said it was not surprised by Chavez’s move. “Since she’s no longer president, she no longer has immunity,” said President Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. n
INC, OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUPS FAVOR RH BILL
UNLIKE THE Catholic Church, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has expressed support for the highly controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill. “We are ready to support the bills on Reproductive Health as long as there would be no immoral elements in them,” INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo said in a letter dated Oct. 12, 2010 to Rep. Rogelio Espina, chairman of the House committee on population and family relations. Manalo explained that they are supporting the bill because it is the “moral imperative” for parents to watch over their children and provide them with food, shelter, clothing, proper education, religious, and moral training. “Hence, parents have a moral obligation to plan the number of their children and keep it under control. The Bible states that a parent who does not provide for the needs of his
own household is worse than an unbeliever,” he said. The INC executive minister noted, however, said that they do not support the natural family planning method and all its variants. The Catholic Church has opposed the use and state provision of artiﬁcial birth control methods like condoms and birth control pills, saying it only supports natural family planning methods for married couples. Bishop Rodrigo Tano, chairman of the IPPRP, said that the support of the INC should be a big help to their campaign for the passage of the controversial measure. Former congresswoman and Akbayan spokesperson Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, who co-authored the RH bill in the 14th Congress, said during the forum that the INC is not the only “major faith community” who is supportive of the RH bill. n
MAY 1-15, 2011
MAY 1-15, 2011
WHISTLE-BLOWER LINKS GMA TO FERTILIZER SCAM OUTGOING OMBUDSMAN Merceditas Gutierrez threw diligence out the window when her ofﬁce recommended the ﬁling of plunder charges against key players of the P728-million fertilizer fund scam but included whistleblower Jose Barredo, Malacañang said. Barredo, who has protested the Ombudsman’s recommendation to charge him with plunder, said he executed on April 19 a sworn statement detailing how funds were diverted to different pockets and alleging that the conspiracy went all the way up to
Malacañang. Barredo said that he based his statement that Malacañang was involved in the scheme on his own observation. He said that runners like him were told to talk only with allies of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and that those who transferred to the opposition were deprived of the funds. He said he received his instructions from Marites Aytona, the one who was talking with then Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bo-
lante, considered the point man in the scam. Barredo said he was issuing a sworn statement to clarify his earlier testimony. He alleged that the funds for the purchase of fertilizer were divided as follows: 30 percent for either the lawmakers, governors or mayors; 25 percent for ofﬁcials of the Department of Agriculture; 25 percent for the runners; and 20 percent for Feshan Philippines Inc. He said lower-level runners like him did not get a share in the 25 per-
cent that went to runners. Barredo said that when funds became available, the runner would go to the politician to get him or her to enter into a deal. The ofﬁcial would be made to sign a memorandum of agreement, which would eventually be brought to the ofﬁce of Bolante. Bolante had the authority to expedite the inputs and implement programs based on a memorandum from former Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo, according to Barredo. “All runners know that the conspiracy goes up to the highest level
GLOBE SEEKS TO STOP PLDT-DIGITEL DEAL AQUINO
GOV’T OPEN TO RENEGOTIATE LAGUNA LAKE PROJECT PRESIDENT Aquino is now open to renegotiating an P18.7-billion Laguna Lake rehabilitation project with the same Belgian ﬁrm whose contract he earlier scrapped for alleged irregularities. Aquino called for an inter-agency meeting at the Palace to discuss the letter of Belgium Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who expressed interest in discussing the matter involving a Belgian company. The Philippine government is open to an out-of-court settlement after the Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon ﬁled a case seeking P6 billion in damages over the cancellation of the project, according to Ramon Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Ofﬁce. “There is always that possibility (of the project proceeding under the same contractor. The fact that we’re engaging them in this way means that we’re open to that,” Carandang said. Leterme’s letter was sent as early as March 16 but Aquino has yet to send a formal reply. “The position before was that we had a problem with the design and there were questions about how the process was evaluated by the previous administration. We are going to outline these issue to the Belgians,” Carandang said. “We’re hoping (this would keep the matter from going to court). In his letter, the Belgian Prime Minister indicated willingness to talk about it. So we are taking them up on that.” Aquino scrapped the project unilaterally, claiming that the silt to be recovered would only be dumped in another portion of the lake. n
GLOBE TELECOM Inc. wants the Aquino administration to stop market leader Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s (PLDT) acquisition of third-ranked Sun Cellular. In a letter to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), second-ranked Globe said the regulator should issue rules penalizing monopolistic behavior amid a “mismatched” level playing ﬁeld that put consumers at risk. “The NTC cannot and must not shrink from its legal obligation to intervene in the PLDT-Digitel deal and regulate, if not forestall, the deal’s grave implications and impact on free competition and, in the long term, the common good,” Rodolfo Salalima, Globe legal counsel said in the 10-page letter. PLDT earlier said it will buy 51.55 percent of Sun Cellular operator, Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc., from Gokongweiled JG Summit Holdings Inc. in a share-swap deal valued at P69.2 billion. The Philippines’ largest telco
also will acquire the remaining Digitel shares held by the public, raising the total acquisition price to P74.1 billion. Salalima said the government, through NTC, should implement “pre-emptive moves and regulations to protect fair and free competition” from the signiﬁcant market power of the PLDT group. He said PLDT’s acquisition of Digitel would result in “tremendous dominant market clout, power and inﬂuence in the telecommunications industry” at 70 percent compared with Globe’s 30 percent in a market of 82 million mobile phone subscribers out of a population of 92 million. Globe also wants the government to enact an anti-trust law and the NTC to issue anti-trust policies/regulations in the form of memo-circulars that are remedial or curative in nature. “Speciﬁcally, there is a need for the NTC to issue a memorandum circular deﬁning a monopoly or a dominant position carrier such as that when any one telecommunication carrier or group controls a minimum 50 percent
of the market in a single service sector,” Salalima said. Sought for comment, Ray Espinosa, PLDT head of regulatory affairs, said Globe’s letter is tantamount to “regulatory blackmail,” as the issues raised were meant “to gain leverage and exact concessions” from the market leader. “Globe wants to use the NTC to deliver these concessions to Globe on a silver platter,” he said. Espinosa said the monopoly issue was a “ruse meant to weaken the resolve of the NTC to approve a deal that will bring enormous beneﬁts to the public in terms of better service and accelerated high speed broadband Internet service throughout the country.” “It is clear from Globe’s letter that they want concessions to make up for their own inefﬁciencies. And this at the public’s expense,” he said. Gamaliel Cordoba, NTC commissioner, had said President Aquino already gave the regulator a marching order to study the PLDTDigitel deal. n
NORTHRAIL CONTRACT FACES CANCELLATION THE government may cancel its contract with the Chinese ﬁrm hired to build a railway system to provinces north of Metro Manila—a project which has been plagued with cost overruns yet little progress to show for. Ofﬁcials said cost overruns and slow progress on the Northrail project have prompted the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) to reassess whether Chinese construction ﬁrm Sinomach was the right contractor for the job. “The project and all its aspects are still undergoing comprehensive review,” Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus said in a statement. The Northrail project aims to facilitate the better movement of goods between Metro Manila and key areas in Central and Northern Luzon. It is also expected to boost activity at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, which is being primed as the country’s next gateway.
DE JESUS “We have gone through the contract and we are currently in discussions with the Chinese group,” De Jesus said in an interview. “No decision has been made yet.” Construction of the 80-kilome-
ter railway, however, has been sluggish due to problems in acquiring the land where the train line was planned to be built on. The DoTC likewise earlier said the previous administration had approved several provisions in the contract that meant Sinomach would be paid more money for less work. For instance, the ﬁrst phase of the project, a 42-kilometer train line that will connect Caloocan City to Malolos City in Bulacan, was supposed to cost $421 million. But this has gone up to $621 million. The deadline to complete the ﬁrst phase has also been moved from 2007 to 2013—a target which now also seems unattainable. Total cost of the project is now at an estimated $1.8 billion from under $1.2 billion when the contract was ﬁrst signed. Bulk of the amount is funded by a concessional loan from the Chinese Export-Import Bank. n
at the Department of Agriculture and beyond, up to Malacañang, because the instruction to all runners is that the only ones who could beneﬁt from the conspiracy are the allies of the President for the May 2004 elections,” Barredo said in the sworn statement. He also said the fertilizer bought from Feshan was overpriced. It only cost P350 per liter at the market, but the government paid P1,500 per oneliter bottle. He noted that 90 percent of the bottle’s content was water, and only 10 percent was fertilizer. n
AFP LOGISTICS CHIEF SACKED OVER FUEL SCAM ARMED FORCES chief Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. has relieved the head of the logistics ofﬁce Commodore Teddy Pan, pending the results of an investigation on the alleged diversion of P420 million worth of supply of petroleum products from January to March 15, 2011. Pan, head of the ofﬁce of the deputy chief of staff for logistics (J4), is replaced by Col. Julius Guillermo. “It is expected that whatever will be the outcome of the investigation, it would be for the beneﬁt and general welfare of the institution which will not only center on persons but also on the logistics management systems as a whole,” Oban said in his order. Oban’s decision to replace the old team came amid talk that some individuals involved in the irregularity were trying to make it appear that the supply was distributed to the major services—Army, Navy/Marines, Air Force through the area commanders. Sources said the fuel diversion was linked to the practice of giving “pabaon” (send-off money) to retiring generals. Some of the supplies were converted into “gas coupons/cards” distributed to favored generals, their wives and children, including friends. Recently, Rabusa ﬁled a plunder cases against three former chiefs of staff, Diomedio Villanueva, Roy Cimatu, and Efren Abu; former comptrollers Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot and Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia; and some retired and active ofﬁcers including two civilians. n
SUDOKU ANSWER FROM PAGE 17
MAY 1-15, 2011