BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...


WORLD BANK: SLOW GOVT SPENDING CUTS 2014 PHL GROWTH FORECAST


Slower government spending and lower farm production prompted the World Bank to revise its 2014 growth forecast for the Philippines. In its latest Philippine Economic Update, the multilateral financial institution brought down its 2014 growth forecast for the Philippines from 6.4 percent to 6 percent, but expects gross domestic product growth to rebound this year and in 2016. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Governance, financial inclusion, infra dev’t cited as critical areas for growth


Zobel de Ayala  ---MANILA, Philippines - A top executive of one of the country’s largest conglomerates has identified three key areas that need further improvement to preserve the momentum of the country’s booming economy. Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Corp. president and chief operating officer, said yesterday the Philippines should keep an eye on the areas of governance, financial inclusion and infrastructure development as these would be critical in supporting the country’s economic agenda and sustaining its growth coming into the next few years. When it comes to governance, Zobel said it is imperative that the current momentum of structural and governance reforms that the Aquino administration has put in place be continued. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: International concern for Pope Francis security

By Babe G. Romualdez  ---A local newspaper has reported that intelligence agents have been sent by the CIA to assess the security situation for the Manila visit of Pope Francis who is arriving at Villamor Air Base at 5:45 this afternoon. According to sources, other international intel organizations have been sharing information to identify security concerns and assess the threat level, among them Israel’s Mossad that reportedly issued a warning about possible attacks to the Vatican by the terrorist group ISIS/ISIL. Additional reports also identified the Pope as a specific target by Islamic terrorists following the pontiff’s condemnation of the shootings in Paris that resulted in the killing of journalists working for the weekly satire Charlie Hebdo. READ FULL COLUMN...

ALSO: WELCOME!


Pope Francis: --POPE Francis will arrive to a tumultuous welcome as adoring Filipinos open their hearts to the pontiff who will start his four-day state and apostolic visit to the Philippines today. Millions of Filipinos will follow the Holy Father’s every move and throngs are expected to turn up in all venues that he will visit. Church officials said at least six million Catholics will attend the Mass of the Holy Father at Rizal Park (Luneta in Manila) on Sunday, January 18. Thousands will also troop to the University of Santo Tomas (UST), also in Manila, where Francis will meet with religious and young leaders in the morning of the same day. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Remittances in Nov lowest since 2009


Personal remittances to the Philippines in November showed signs of a strengthening US dollar in an easing in year-on-year increases to their slowest rate in more than five years. Such remittances reached $2.35 billion that month, down from a $2.46 billion recorded in October, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Wednesday.
On an annual basis, personal remittances in November 2014 rose 1.8 percent from $2.31 billion posted in November 2013. The November 2014 annual expansion marks the slowest growth rate since April 2009 when the inflows grew only 1.3 percent. Personal remittances consist of net compensation for land-based overseas workers with short-term (one year or less) contracts and all sea-based workers; personal transfers in cash or in kind between overseas Filipinos or longer-term overseas workers and their families in the Philippines; and capital transfers between households, such as funds for home construction.READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: GDP may ‘bounceback’ in 2 yrs

 
The World Bank revised downward its estimate of growth in the Philippine economy for 2014 to 6 percent, but said the expansion could regain momentum in the next two years if the government ramps up its budget spending. In its latest Philippine Economic Update, the Washington-based lender cut its growth estimate on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) from a previous forecast of 6.4 percent.
The lender’s revised estimate is also lower than the 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent target of the government for the past year and the actual 7.2 percent GDP expansion in 2013. “For 2014, the revised growth projection takes into account lower-than-expected government spending in the third quarter and the limited opportunity to increase spending in the fourth quarter,” the report said. READ MORE...

ALSO TIMES EDITORIAL: Please, Holy Father, help save the Philippine Republic 


WELCOME to the Philippines, Holy Father. Some of us here in The Manila Times are Catholics who take our faith seriously. We have you in our prayers every day–not just in the Prayer for the Pope at Mass that is part of the liturgy. We pray for you daily as a person we feel we know personally and should love the way most us Filipinos love our parents. We tell you this intimate detail, hoping to persuade you that we who are writing this editorial now are people with rectitude of intention because we struggle to be always close to God, the Holy Trinity, and to Mother Mary, in thought, emotion and deed. We carry out norms of piety–including frequent examinations of conscience and confession.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

World Bank: Slow gov't spending cuts 2014 Phl growth forecast

MANILA, IANUARY 16, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Jovan Cerda - Slower government spending and lower farm production prompted the World Bank to revise its 2014 growth forecast for the Philippines.

In its latest Philippine Economic Update, the multilateral financial institution brought down its 2014 growth forecast for the Philippines from 6.4 percent to 6 percent, but expects gross domestic product growth to rebound this year and in 2016.

“The Philippines has what it takes to sustain this high level of growth for many years,” said World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi. “The country is benefiting from low and stable inflation, its finances are healthy, and debt levels are declining. It has a dynamic private sector that is seizing global opportunities. Now is the time to move the economy decisively onto a path that reduces poverty and creates more and better jobs.”

The bank said the country's strong growth in the previous years have translated to job creation and improvement in the lives of the poor. Data from the latest Labor Force Survey showed that over a million jobs were created in October 2014, higher than what was posted the same month the previous year.

The World Bank added that government data also showed that the real wage income of the poorest 20 percent of the population grew by almost 10 percent compared to only 2.4 percent for the upper 80 percent, while underemployment among the poor declined significantly in 2013, coinciding with the improvement in poverty incidence.

“If growth is sustained at 6 percent per year and the current rate at which growth reduces poverty is maintained, poverty could be eradicated within a single generation,” said World Bank Lead Economist Rogier van den Brink.

In its report, the bank said the Philippines has to increase investments in infrastructure, health and education; enhance competition to level the playing field; make regulations simpler to promote job creation especially for micro and small businesses; and protect property rights.

"For these reforms to succeed, strengthening tax administration and improving transparency and accountability of government spending are essential,” Chua said. “These would allow the Filipino people to see a better link between taxes and services and convince them that the taxes they are paying are being spent wisely,” said Karl Kendrick Chua, World Bank senior country economist.


FROM PHILSTAR

Governance, financial inclusion, infra dev’t cited as critical areas for growth By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 14, 2015 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


Zobel de Ayala

MANILA, Philippines - A top executive of one of the country’s largest conglomerates has identified three key areas that need further improvement to preserve the momentum of the country’s booming economy.

Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Corp. president and chief operating officer, said yesterday the Philippines should keep an eye on the areas of governance, financial inclusion and infrastructure development as these would be critical in supporting the country’s economic agenda and sustaining its growth coming into the next few years.

When it comes to governance, Zobel said it is imperative that the current momentum of structural and governance reforms that the Aquino administration has put in place be continued.

Zobel lauded the country’s recent accomplishments, starting with its improvement in the recent World Economic Forum competitiveness ranking up to the recent highs that the Philippine stock market has been enjoying.

However, he said there is still a lot that needs to be done in cutting bureaucracy and improving efficiency, specifically in key processes such as starting a business, registering property, getting credit and protecting investors.

“The highest standards of governance must be maintained and reform measures must be continued in the next administration if we want to sustain our growth momentum,” he said during yesterday’s Finex inaugural meeting and induction ceremonies.

In terms of financial inclusion, Zobel said the country will not be able to achieve sustainability or become a truly progressive country unless it pulls a much larger segment of the country from poverty.

“While many are benefitting from our country’s growth momentum, economic and social progress has yet to be shared by the vast majority, particularly those who belong to the base of the economic pyramid,” he said.

Lastly, the businessman said the country’s inadequate infrastructure in roads, rail, ports and airports are potential hindrance to the country’s economic robustness.

“Although several key infrastructure projects have been bidded out, there is once again so much more that needs to be done. We cannot expect to continue to grow at this pace without a massive increase in infrastructure expenditure. This entails collaborative efforts between the government and the private sector,” he said.

Ayala Corp, as the country’s oldest conglomerate, is into the business of power generation, real estate, banking and financial services, telecommunications, water distribution, electronics manufacturing services, automotive dealerships, and transport infrastructure.


PHILSTAR COLUMN

International concern for Pope Francis security SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 15, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Babe G. Romualdez

A local newspaper has reported that intelligence agents have been sent by the CIA to assess the security situation for the Manila visit of Pope Francis who is arriving at Villamor Air Base at 5:45 this afternoon.

According to sources, other international intel organizations have been sharing information to identify security concerns and assess the threat level, among them Israel’s Mossad that reportedly issued a warning about possible attacks to the Vatican by the terrorist group ISIS/ISIL.

Additional reports also identified the Pope as a specific target by Islamic terrorists following the pontiff’s condemnation of the shootings in Paris that resulted in the killing of journalists working for the weekly satire Charlie Hebdo.

Much earlier, local papers also carried news reports that ISIS operatives have been recruiting in Mindanao, and that a hundred young Filipinos have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS. And let’s not forget, no less than an Iraqi official had raised the possibility of an ISIS threat following the Pope’s strong condemnation of the terrorist group last year.

The Vatican has denied receiving such reports or warnings from Mossad, CIA and other organizations, but we wouldn’t be surprised at the existence of such warnings considering the heightened alert across France and Italy in the aftermath of the Paris shootings.

The Philippine government, however, has admitted that local authorities have been coordinating with the Interpol and Asean to identify individuals who have joined the ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

In one of our previous columns, we pointed out that security for the Pope should be as extensive as that accorded to US presidents – if not more so considering the millions who will flock to Luneta to hear the special mass and to get a glimpse of the pope.

Vatican security has acknowledged that securing this particular Pope could be a nightmare because he is known for being unpredictable, dispensing with protocol and making sudden changes from the pre-set schedule of activities including “rerouting” the official vehicle to interact with the crowds.

The 20,000 police personnel of the PNP are augmented by 17,000 from the AFP including two battalions of UN peacekeepers. The papal visit to the Philippines is a major event whose impact is immeasurable, and certainly, the security of Pope Francis is a matter of concern for everyone, most especially the millions of Catholic faithful who look upon him as their spiritual father.

A look back on papal visits

Despite denials by local authorities about the existence of specific threats against Pope Francis, security has been doubled with the President making an appeal for Filipinos to strictly follow the advisories such as the “no payong” policy and others to make it easier to manage the crowd surge which could have potentially fatal consequences like what happened during the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

There is no such thing as “over preparation” when it comes to the security of the leader of the Catholic Church, considering the Philippines’ history of previous assassination attempts against visiting popes. Many still remember the 1970 visit of Pope Paul VI when crazed Bolivian artist Benjamin Mendoza tried to kill the Pope at the airport where a swell of people rushed to greet him.

Not many know that Pope Paul VI sustained two stab wounds on the neck from the attack – on the right and left side of the jugular vein – and the injury would have been more serious were it not for the quick reflexes of Monsignor Pascuale Macci, the pope’s secretary, not to mention the thick garments of the pope.

In 1995, authorities uncovered an assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II by Ramzi Yousef a week before the pope’s visit to Manila. Yousef and cohorts were working on a bomb when their rented apartment in Malate suddenly caught fire.

The suspicions of an inquisitive officer were aroused when she found out that Islamic foreigners were renting the apartment – and the discovery of chemical bomb components, a priest’s cassock and a laptop alerted the authorities about the planned assassination.

No wonder some security people on the ground advised the cancellation of the mass, and the authorities decided to fly the pope directly from Malacañang by chopper to Luneta due to the huge crowd that gathered on the streets.

Pope’s ‘Vatican in the sky’

We spoke with Philippine Airlines president Jimmy Bautista and he confirmed that a new Airbus A-340 would flying Pope Francis on a special non-stop flight from Manila to Rome.

The first row of the Business Class has section been reserved for the pope and Vatican officials, although no special cabin configuration has been made.

Everyone certainly wants to be with the pope, which is why it was not surprising to know that a private lottery was held to determine the top personnel who would be assigned to the A-340, from the pilot down to the purser and flight attendants.

A new A-320 would be used for the pope’s flight to Tacloban where he would be accompanied by Jimmy and Secretary Jojo Ochoa who is representing the Office of the President.

Jimmy will also personally accompany the pope during the long-haul flight to Rome – very apt considering that the PAL president is also known for being humble and simple like his VIP passenger.

Some 70 Vatican-accredited media personnel (VAMP) would also joing the flight to Rome. According to Jimmy, everything about the flight down to the food is elegant but “simple” as requested by the pope – who is known for shunning extravagance – to make sure that the PAL plane would really become the pope’s “Vatican in the sky.”


MANILA TIMES

WELCOME! January 14, 2015 11:02 pm by ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ REPORTER AND JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER


(PHOTO) AP  Pope Francis goes down from an aircraft: National flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, will be Pope Francis' official carrier for his four-day visit in the Philippines on January 15 to 19, 2015. Philippine Airlines already cancelled all flights to and from Tacloban on January 17, 2015 as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines closed the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport for security reasons. Philippine Airlines will fly Pope Francis from Manila to Tacloban on January 17 utilizing an Airbus A320-200. In Tacloban, the Pope will have a lunch with the families of the victims of Super typhoon Yolanda, or known internationally as Typhoon Haiyan. As the Pope arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at January 15, it will proceed to the Malacañang palace for a courtesy visit to the Philippine President, Benigno Aquino III. Alitalia, the national airline of Italy, will carry Pope Francis to Manila. However, Philippine Airlines will fly the Holy Father directly to Rome from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. This is not the first time that Philippine Airlines will roll its red carpet for the Pope as it also flew Saint John Paul II during his Papal visit in the Philippines in 1981 and 1995. COURTESY OF PAL AVIATION UPDATES.

POPE Francis will arrive to a tumultuous welcome as adoring Filipinos open their hearts to the pontiff who will start his four-day state and apostolic visit to the Philippines today.

Millions of Filipinos will follow the Holy Father’s every move and throngs are expected to turn up in all venues that he will visit.

Church officials said at least six million Catholics will attend the Mass of the Holy Father at Rizal Park (Luneta in Manila) on Sunday, January 18.

Thousands will also troop to the University of Santo Tomas (UST), also in Manila, where Francis will meet with religious and young leaders in the morning of the same day.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged Filipinos to line the streets and welcome the visitor from the Vatican “with open arms, minds and hearts.”

CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the papal visit should be the most loving event in Metro Manila and in Tacloban City, capital of Leyte province.

“I am calling on the people of God to welcome Pope Francis with all our hearts, with all our minds and with wide open arms,” Villegas called out in a statement on Wednesday.

Also chairman of the papal visit committee, he asked the public to bring images of saints when they cheer the pontiff on the streets.

“I encourage you my dear people of God to line the streets he [Pope Francis] will take, watch the papal vehicle pass by and be blessed by the sight of the pope passing our way going around the city,” Villegas said.

“Bring out your family images of the saints and the Blessed Virgin. Bring out your Santo Ninos (Child Jesus images) and crucifixes. Bring out your hearts in welcome!” he added.

Francis, also head of state of the Vatican, will be welcomed by thousands of young Filipinos who will sing and dance for him.

From Villamor Air Base in Pasay City (Metro Manila), he will proceed to the Apostolic Nunciature, his official residence for the duration of his visit, on Taft Avenue in Manila.

Villegas said the pontiff will be taking Newport Garden to Andrews Avenue toward Airport Road-Domestic Road to Roxas Boulevard-Quirino Avenue-Leveriza intersection until Taft Avenue.

Christ passing by

“Every step he makes, every car ride he takes, every moment he stays with us is precious for us. Seeing him pass by is a grace. Waving our hands at him in loving welcome is an experience of a lifetime,” Villegas said.

“Watch the Pope passing by. Christ is passing by. Be blessed as he passes by,” he added.

On January 16, Pope Francis will meet with President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacañang.

The pope will visit the country as head of state and as lead pastor of the Catholic Church.

“In the afternoon of January 16, please watch the pope pass Taft Avenue to Leveriza intersection-Quirino Avenue to Roxas Boulevard until the Mall of Asia where he will meet with families,” Villegas said.

On Saturday, January 17, Pope Francis will visit Leyte province to personally console survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda and earthquake victims from Bohol province.

In the morning of January 18, the pontiff will go to UST to rally with the youth and meet with the religious leaders.

He will be passing Quirino-Osmena Highway intersection toward Nagtahan until Espana Boulevard on his way to the university, the only Roman Catholic seat of learning in Asia.

“He will take the reverse route from UST back to the Apostolic Nunciature. Watch him pass by twice that day if you live in the area,” Villegas said.

“In the afternoon on his way to Luneta, the pope will pass Quirino Avenue, Roxas Boulevard until he reaches Kalaw Street,” he added.

Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed hope that the Pope’s arrival will fill every Filipino “with a sense of goodwill and unity.”

“I hope that we as a nation will heed the Pope’s call for renewing our commitment to the universal values of love and compassion especially for the poor and downtrodden.

To my fellow workers in government, may we be inspired to provide selfless service to our people, no matter our own circumstances, without thought of reward. We must devote our time, talents, energy and resources to truly serving the people, particularly those who most need our help,” Binay said.

“To all Filipinos, it is my hope that we will be inspired by the living example of the Pope who has willingly connected with the people to get across Christ’s message of love and charity,” he added.

Until late Wednesday, Malacanang was anxious over security preparations for the papal visit.

Its spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Aquino and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd noted “minute” loopholes as they conducted last-minute run-throughs in areas where the pontiff will be present, including the Apostolic Nunciature.

“Today is always a day better than the previous days’ preparations. So, it’s always a work in progress and as the President always says you know, ‘We will never be satisfied,’ “ Lacierda added.

The Palace official said the challenge of securing Pope Francis is made even more challenging because the pontiff “is full of surprises.”

Francis is known for “deviating” from his pre-planned route to mingle with people around him.

“So, we try to keep on improving the security preparations everyday. And making sure that we’ve done our best, we’ve done everything humanly possible to ensure the security of the pope as well as the crowd,” Lacierda said.

To better manage the crowd, according to him, the people will be grouped in “grids” or “mini quadrants” that will be separated by vacant spaces. This means that the crowd at the Quirino Grandstand, for instance, will look like a gigantic chessboard from the air.

Each grid will be manned by eight police personnel, 400 military reservists, eight to 10 personnel from the Department of Health, eight to 10 Red Cross volunteers and two marshals.


MANILA TIMES

Remittances in Nov lowest since 2009 January 14, 2015 9:27 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO

Personal remittances to the Philippines in November showed signs of a strengthening US dollar in an easing in year-on-year increases to their slowest rate in more than five years.

Such remittances reached $2.35 billion that month, down from a $2.46 billion recorded in October, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Wednesday.

On an annual basis, personal remittances in November 2014 rose 1.8 percent from $2.31 billion posted in November 2013. The November 2014 annual expansion marks the slowest growth rate since April 2009 when the inflows grew only 1.3 percent.

Personal remittances consist of net compensation for land-based overseas workers with short-term (one year or less) contracts and all sea-based workers; personal transfers in cash or in kind between overseas Filipinos or longer-term overseas workers and their families in the Philippines; and capital transfers between households, such as funds for home construction.

The central bank traced the slower year-on-year rise in personal remittances to the weakening peso versus the dollar.

“In the past, when the dollar appreciated against the peso, the tendency was for overseas workers to adjust their remittances so that the peso value of their remittances would more or less be the same,” said BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo.

“So if the peso depreciated against the dollar, then they could afford to send smaller amounts of dollar remittances and the peso equivalent would be broadly the same,” he added.

Sharing the same view, an analyst also attributed the exchange rate dynamics to the slower inflow of personal remittances in November.

“I think it had more to do with the exchange rate dynamics than anything.

Overseas Filipinos remittances are sent home to fund peso consumption and with the US dollar strengthening, these Filipinos did not need to send as much US dollar to fund peso consumption,” said Nicholas Antonio Mapa, associate economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

Mapa pointed to the base effect of the 10.4 percent growth rate recorded in November 2013 remittances as another reason for the slowdown.
Cumulative figure up 6.2%

Despite this, the cumulative amount of personal remittances in the 11 months to November rose 6.2 percent to $23.37 billion from $22.95 billion in the same period in 2013.

“Steady growth in personal remittances for the first eleven months of the year was supported by the sustained expansion of remittance flows from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more (5.3 percent), as well as sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year (7.3 percent),” the BSP said.

Cash remittances up 2%

Remittances coursed through banks as cash increased 2 percent year-on-year to $2.12 billion in November from $2.08 billion a year earlier.

A breakdown of the figure for the 11-month period shows funds coursed through banks rose to $21.99 billion, or 5.7 percent from the amount sent a year earlier.

The central bank said cash remittances during the period from land-based and sea-based reached $16.9 billion and $5.1 billion, respectively.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Canada were the major sources of such cash remittances for the 11-month period.


MANILA TIMES

GDP may ‘bounceback’ in 2 yrs January 14, 2015 9:40 pm
by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO Reporter

The World Bank revised downward its estimate of growth in the Philippine economy for 2014 to 6 percent, but said the expansion could regain momentum in the next two years if the government ramps up its budget spending.

In its latest Philippine Economic Update, the Washington-based lender cut its growth estimate on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) from a previous forecast of 6.4 percent.

The lender’s revised estimate is also lower than the 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent target of the government for the past year and the actual 7.2 percent GDP expansion in 2013.

“For 2014, the revised growth projection takes into account lower-than-expected government spending in the third quarter and the limited opportunity to increase spending in the fourth quarter,” the report said.

However, for 2015 and the year ahead, the World Bank said growth is expected to “bounce back” to about 6.5 percent.

World Bank’s forecast of a rebound, however, falls below the government’s target for 2015 and 2016 of 7 percent to 8 percent.

Forecast assumes full spending

The lender’s forecast assumes that the government will fully implement its P2.6 trillion 2015 budget and the P167.9 billion typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation masterplan.

Moreover, World Bank said strong remittances and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows should support GDP growth in the years ahead.
The forecast is also supported by currently upbeat consumer and business sentiment, it said.

Oil price drop

The report also On the external front, the World Bank said the key risks are weaker-than-previously-expected global growth and financial market volatility. However, it noted that the Philippines’ strong macroeconomic fundamentals will mitigate those risks.

Pointed to falling oil prices as helping drive growth through increased manufacturing and consumption.

The lender, however, warned that the main risk to growth would come from the domestic front.

“In the near-term, the key domestic risks are the slowdown in government spending and further delays in public-private partnership projects,” it said.

Over the medium to long term, reform lags, particularly reform to raise tax revenues efficiently, equitably, and simply, could seriously undermine the government’s effort to double infrastructure spending to 5 percent of GDP and further raise education and health spending, it added.


MANILA TIMES EDITORIAL

Please, Holy Father, help save the Philippine Republic

WELCOME to the Philippines, Holy Father. Some of us here in The Manila Times are Catholics who take our faith seriously.

We have you in our prayers every day–not just in the Prayer for the Pope at Mass that is part of the liturgy.

We pray for you daily as a person we feel we know personally and should love the way most us Filipinos love our parents.

We tell you this intimate detail, hoping to persuade you that we who are writing this editorial now are people with rectitude of intention because we struggle to be always close to God, the Holy Trinity, and to Mother Mary, in thought, emotion and deed. We carry out norms of piety–including frequent examinations of conscience and confession.

We are not addressing this public missive to you for political reasons, dear Holy Father. We are writing because we are being led to this act by our sincere conversation in mental prayer with Our Lord.

For the good of our Church and the prestige of the Papacy, you should not explicitly take positions for or against a particular political issue. But you may voice out what is the morally correct attitude or position. Pope Saint John Paul II did that when he was here on a visit when the President was the late President Ferdinand Marcos.



We have berated President Benigno Aquino 3rd over many specific issues.

We have called him and his closest associates hypocrites for pretending that his administration is pursuing the Matuwid na Daan or the “righteous path” when in fact corruption in government now is very much more in monetary value and more widespread than in previous administrations.
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Smuggling, the proliferation of illegal gambling, prostitution and common criminality have escalated during the four years that President Aquino has been our president.

These are things that some bishops of our Church have condemned–without much effect. But corruption is not the issue we would like you to help us with in this appeal.

There are many areas, dear Holy Father, where some of the Catholic Bishops, as we in The Manila Times do, find the Aquino administration’s actions and decisions to be immoral and contrary to good governance, natural law, the Ten Commandments and Church commandments.

One of these is President Aquino’s personal push, including the bribery of lawmakers, to have an oppressive Reproductive Health Act passed in line with the laws prevailing in the Western countries.

We are not asking you to say anything about these matters, dear Holy Father.

President Aquino and his economic ministers also deserve to be chided for neglecting to help our millions of poverty-stricken families, for preferring economic policies that you have condemned because they do nothing to rescue the poor from their bitter condition.

We will cheer you, Holy Father, if you do say a word of reproach about this matter.

What this appeal humbly wishes you to do, to save the Philippine Republic and its imperfect but developing democratic system, is to pray with us more intently — or if you will find it proper to do so — to voice your concern about it to our President when you meet him in Malacañang Palace tomorrow morning.

This is the matter of the destruction of our imperfect but functioning electoral democracy by the Commission on Elections and a Venezuelan company called Smartmatic.

This destruction of our electoral democracy is being accomplished with the approval and support of President Aquino and his associates.

It is being accomplished, illegally and unconstitutionally, through the institution of an Automated Election System under the control of Smartmatic using Precinct Optical Count Scanning (PCOS) machines.

With this system we Filipinos held illegal and invalid elections in 2010 and 2013. And we are likely to hold illegal and invalid elections again, using the PCOS machines or some other dishonest system, in the coming 2016 elections.

Some Catholic Bishops, including Archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of Cebu and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, have pinpointed this foul automated election system–and four other areas of bad governance and corruption–as reasons for asking President Aquino to resign.

We are now begging you, please, Holy Father Francis, to do or say something to help save the Philippine Republic by rescuing our elections from the tyranny of the PCOS and other machines designed to electronically manipulate election results.

God bless you always, dear Pope Francis.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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