BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

INDUSTRY LEADERS CALL FOR SOBRIETY OVER MAMASAPANO CLASH, FOCUS ON ECONOMIC DEVPT
[The Philippines Inc. group urged the government to set up economic zones or provide tax incentives that would help attract more companies to locate in Mindanao, thus creating jobs and sustainable income].


Enrique Razon Jr. and Tonyboy Cojuangco FILE PHOTO Job creation, the group stressed, would lead to lasting peace, cooperation and unity among residents in the area.  “It is our belief that providing job opportunities is giving the people an option (other than) becoming mercenaries in a war. In this light, Philippines Inc. has standing dialogues with several American and foreign enterprises, all of which had expressed willingness to pour investments in Mindanao should the situation make it possible,” the group explained.  Philippines Inc. further urged the government to continue talks concerning the Bangsamoro Basic Law process as a way to address the concerns of the various stakeholders. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pinoy who wrote speeches for 6 Indonesian presidents back home


JAMIL FLORES is a much-familiar face in diplomatic circles, having authored six books on the ASEAN. (MB Social Media)  A Filipino foreign policy expert renowned in Southeast Asia who served as a speech writer of not one but six Indonesian presidents foresees a bright future for the Philippines.  Jamil Maidan Flores, who wrote speeches for Indonesian presidents Suharto, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the incumbent, Joko Widodo, points out that the Philippines is doing much better than Indonesia in terms of economic growth. The prolific author of several books about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and speech writer, too, for five Indonesian foreign ministers (Ali Alatas, Alwi Shihab, Hassan Wirajuda, Marty Natalegawa, Retno Marsudi), Flores observes that while there are a lot of positive things going on in the Philippines right now, spreading the wealth created by the economic activity initiated at the national level is a problem. READ FULL REPORT BY SOL VANZI

ALSO: ‘Shortcomings of the current eco growth scene’


By Gerardo P. Sicat --........
On the momentous occasions when he could have faced amendments regarding the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution, President Aquino has been the main silent oppositor or, on some cases, the main shirker of the issue. This, he has done even when the leaderships of both the House and the Senate had sought his support to expedite the remedial measures to amend these provisions. Indecision: the perverse result of the anti-corruption drive. The anti-corruption drive under the present government has caused a lot of indecision in public investment projects. This has contributed to lower productivity and greater economic inefficiency. A perverse outcome of the anti-corruption drive was the long process of making decisions in the government. Many important PPP (public private partnerships) projects have not been completed. Some have been postponed intermittently. And many of those held back for review have seen slow action. READ IN FULL FROM BEGINNING...

ALSO: Mild El Niño, but long dry season up ahead


THE country is experiencing a mild case of El Niño that could prolong the dry season, the weather bureau said Tuesday. “The dry spell is not defined. That is why it is called a weak El Niño,” said climatologist Anthony Lucero in a radio interview. Bureau officials and climatologists are meeting to get an accurate forecast, said Venus Valdemorro, public information officer at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). Based on the latest data of international climate monitoring agencies in Japan and Australia, there is a 50 percent to 60 percent that the El Niño episode will last until June.  An El Niño event occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and easter equatorial Pacific become warmer than normal. READ MORE...

ALSO: Consumers to pay more for power in hot months


CONSUMERS will be paying more for electicity as a result of the projected power crisis in Luzon this summer, a House official said on Monday.  Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy and the head of the House contingent to the bicameral conference committee on energy, said Congress would not be able to pass the bill giving President Aquino emergency powers due to a deadlock on whether to pass on to consumers the expenses to be incurred in the interruptible load program. Umali said the House will remain firm on its stand on a ‘no pass-on’ provision that the Senate, led by Senator Serge Osmena, is opposing. READ MORE...

ALSO GO NEGOSYO: Biggest Filipina Summit!


Close to 10,000 participants attended our Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit last Friday, March 6, at the World Trade Center. On its 7th year, our Filipina Summit never fails to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and students and guide them in the start of their entrepreneurial journey.  Yes, their attendance to the summit is the start of their entrepreneurial journey as they are equipped with the right attitude and knowhow just by listening to more than 50 female panelists and guests. It was the biggest mentoring summit we ever had! Definitely, every year of Filipina Summit is bigger and better!  During my message, I shared the story of Marivic Quiero who was one of the participants in last year’s Filipina Summit. She was an entrepreneur from Tacloban wiped out by Typhoon Yolanda. She shared how she was blessed to be part of our summit and how she was assisted and closely mentored by leading construction entrepreneur, Alice Eduardo, our co-chair of the Filipina Summit. I was impressed by her determination to start anew. And I am sure that many entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two from her story. There are many trials in our lives, but it is up to us if we should stop or leap over it and continue. READ MORE...

ALSO An International viewpoint: Mindanao(Philippines): The All Out War that is Hated by All


From the [Europe of solidarity without  borders] by Raymund de Silva, who is a Mindanao-based political analyst and has been active in different social movements and progressive organizations since the 1970s. 
Both the leaderships of the Senate and the Lower House have set their self-imposed deadline to finish and pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill by June 30, 2015. Both houses have promised that the version which they are going to approve will be constitutionally passable but not necessarily the version that has been mutually agreed by the peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This kind of situation can bring the whole country (not only Mindanao) into heightened political chaos – that can even lead to war. READ FULL ANALYSIS


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Industry leaders call for sobriety over Mamasapano clash, focus on economic dev’t


Enrique Razon Jr. and Tonyboy Cojuangco FILE PHOTO

MANILA, MARCH 9, 2015 (INQUIRER) Amy R. Remo @inquirerdotnet - Philippines Inc., an alliance of industry leaders, has joined the rest of the business community in calling for peace and sobriety amid the controversies surrounding the Mamasapano clash in Maguindanao in January.

In a statement, the group has instead stressed the need to focus all efforts in boosting economic development in Mindanao to secure lasting peace, rather than to demand the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III and call for the abandonment the peace talks and for the launch of an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Philippines Inc. urged the government to set up economic zones or provide tax incentives that would help attract more companies to locate in Mindanao, thus creating jobs and sustainable income.

Job creation, the group stressed, would lead to lasting peace, cooperation and unity among residents in the area.

“It is our belief that providing job opportunities is giving the people an option (other than) becoming mercenaries in a war. In this light, Philippines Inc. has standing dialogues with several American and foreign enterprises, all of which had expressed willingness to pour investments in Mindanao should the situation make it possible,” the group explained.

Philippines Inc. further urged the government to continue talks concerning the Bangsamoro Basic Law process as a way to address the concerns of the various stakeholders.

Philippine Inc., an alliance of some of the most respected leaders in the country, is aimed at establishing a reformed business environment to attract new and domestic foreign investments to the country, and encouraging the business sector to engage investors in long-term partnerships and investments in the Philippines.

Members of the Board of Trustees included Antonio Cojuangco, who serves as chairman of the board; Jesus “Susing” Pineda Jr. (vice chairman); Antonio Lopa (president); and Jose Manuel Romualdez (executive vice president).

Other board members include Enrique Razon, Justo “Tito” Ortiz, Tony Tan Caktiong, Aurelio Luis Montinola, Alfredo Yao, Eusebio Tanco, Antonio Tuviera, Manuel “Beaver” Lopez Jr., Fausto Preysler Jr., Miguel Varela, Elizabeth Lee, Rolando Mario Villonco and Annie Tan-Yee.


MANILA BULLETIN

Pinoy who wrote speeches for 6 Indonesian presidents back home by Sol Vanzi February 21, 2015


JAMIL FLORES is a much-familiar face in diplomatic circles, having authored six books on the ASEAN. (MB Social Media)

A Filipino foreign policy expert renowned in Southeast Asia who served as a speech writer of not one but six Indonesian presidents foresees a bright future for the Philippines.

Jamil Maidan Flores, who wrote speeches for Indonesian presidents Suharto, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the incumbent, Joko Widodo, points out that the Philippines is doing much better than Indonesia in terms of economic growth.

The prolific author of several books about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and speech writer, too, for five Indonesian foreign ministers (Ali Alatas, Alwi Shihab, Hassan Wirajuda, Marty Natalegawa, Retno Marsudi), Flores observes that while there are a lot of positive things going on in the Philippines right now, spreading the wealth created by the economic activity initiated at the national level is a problem.

He supports social mobilization in the campaign against corruption at all levels of society, but warns against aiming for perfection.

“Things will never be perfect; the perfect should not become the enemy of the good. It will never be perfect, he told the Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview.

This principle, he explains, applies as well to regional problems.

“The ASEAN Economic Community will never work perfectly,” he stressed, adding that “even the European Union, which is supposed to be world’s standard for regional integration is now torn by forces of integration and disintegration, there is tension between these two forces and they are heavily troubled because of it.”

But he advises that despite its imperfections, members of the ASEAN Community will have to continue working on it and try to make it work.

There will always be some losers and there will be winners and then there will be some kind of synthesis between the two.

FROM VIGAN TO WORLD

Flores looks every inch a statesman, having come a long way from the cobblestone streets of Vigan to the hallowed halls of the United Nations and other international conference sites around the world. It is a journey that started through a friend’s tip.

He was 40 and writing cover articles for the Manila Bulletin’s Panorama Magazine when UST classmate Jullie Yap Daza advised him to submit his curriculum vitae to Dr. Enrique Syquia, a good friend of the Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines.

The Indonesian government was searching for a speech writer in English all over Southeast Asia

By Christmas Day 1991, he was in Jakarta, where the great Indonesian statesman, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas told him to start immediately. That was the beginning of a writing partnership, which the two jokingly call a poor man’s version of President John F. Kennedy and speechwriter-adviser Ted Sorensen. That writing partnership lasted until Ali Alatas he died in 2008.

COLLABORATION WITH LEGEND

The late statesman recruited him in late 1991. In this capacity, he is directly consulted on how best to present the foreign policy of Indonesia through speeches, interventions in conferences, correspondence and other forms of communication.

Flores remembers his mentor, partner and friend fondly. “To me the greatest thing about my being in Indonesia, is to have as a mentor and as a friend a great statesman, Ali Alatas – a name that is very much respected all over the world,” he says.

The foreign minister had encouraged Flores to write under his own byline and then collaborated on a book on East Timor. They were going to work together on a book on the Cambodia peace process at the time of the diplomat’s death.

HIS REAL LOVE

In the field of literature, he has won prizes for his fiction, poetry, one-act plays and essays. His poetry has been anthologized. This does not surprise his close friends, who know his passion in the field.

“My real love is fiction and poetry and drama; that is the kind of writing I really want to do. When I don’t have to make a living anymore. I’ll start working on the kind of work that I’ve been dreaming to do, the kind that I was born for: fiction, poetry, drama, also essays.”

COMING HOME

As happy as he is about living and working in Indonesia, Flores remains a Filipino at heart and dreams of retiring back home, but not in Manila.“When we (his family) talk about living in the Philippines again, we talk about Baguio or Mindanao, even if things are not very stable there now.”


PHILSTAR

‘Shortcomings of the current growth scene’ CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 11, 2015 - 12:00am


By Gerardo P. Sicat

My comments last week on the country’s high growth performance emphasized the role of luck and the importance of international perception on economic prospects. Good perception creates a positive outlook.

Anti-corruption governance program vs. articulating overall economic reforms. I also stressed the difference in Benigno Aquino’s style of running the economic program and that of Prime Minister Modi, who laid out all the major shortcomings of the Indian economy and made a full scale attack on them during the first few months of his government in power.

Incidentally, President Joko Widodo, the recently elected Indonesian president, appears also to be in same the mould as the Indian leader. Widodo sees a lot of gaps in economic policy and he focuses on their solutions by stressing them when he presented his program at the first opportunity. So, during his first year in office, he took major steps to remove a lot of subsidies that have crippled Indonesia’s finances.

Both the current leaders of Indonesia and India also remind me of the enthusiasm with which President Fidel Ramos asserted the need for economic reforms when he took over the helm of the political power in the country. He also had to work hard to solve the festering electricity crisis that was brought on by the failure of the first Aquino administration to commission the finished nuclear power plant project which would have generated cheap and steady power supply. (Instead, the country suffered major power brownouts for years.)

President Ramos devoted his time to break the telephone monopoly and open the telecommunications sector to other operators. The telco sector which has been a major driving force for development in recent years. I wonder how much farther President Ramos could have advanced economic reforms if he did not have to contend with addressing the electricity problem.

Through all the five years of his term, President Benigno Aquino has avoided the serious economic reform issues facing the economy. The annual SONAs (State of the Nation Addresses) provide the best test of how the President views the country’s problems. The SONAs delivered so far (four of them) have mainly articulated the problems of corruption, and seldom focused on the economic measures that he considered important, except of course the budget.

For the most part, the SONAs were dramatic exhortations on anti-corruption work and a recitation of government achievements from year to year. A remarkable absence in the SONAs was a devoted attention to an analysis of gaps in economic policies that hold back the economy.

The Philippine Development Plan, crafted for the period 2011 to 2016, heavily uses the theme of promoting “inclusive development.” As such, there is great sensitivity in pointing out sector issues and macroeconomic framework to help maintain and create competition within the economy. Finally, it is overarching in its emphasis on “good governance and anti-corruption.”

Yet, in all these, the document avoids any direct references to policy gaps related to “restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution” in specific industries and areas of the economy that affect the attraction of foreign direct investments. In addition, it is also quiet on the need for labor market reforms to help in attracting more investments to expand employment and reduce the poverty caused by lack of jobs.

These omissions serve to imply that these gaps in economic policies could be overcome by improvements in investments in infrastructure, improvements of sector policies, by gains in the fight against corruption, and by the virtuous mechanisms of “inclusive growth.”

This, of course, is mistaken. The economy has to deepen the adoption of more economic reforms to remove barriers to investments and create more channels of growth and market competition. The early economic reforms adopted in the past – those that liberalized industry and trade – were mainly in the “goods market” – the buying, selling, and importing and exporting of goods.

The major policy bottlenecks that remain affect the “factors of production” – economic resources such as land, capital, and labor – which all contribute toward improving the efficiency of production and reduction of costs.

To improve market competition, Congress may soon pass a law governing monopolies and cartels. The barriers designed to restrict greater foreign direct investments in the country help to foment greater economic concentration and monopolies within the country.

On the momentous occasions when he could have faced amendments regarding the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution, President Aquino has been the main silent oppositor or, on some cases, the main shirker of the issue. This, he has done even when the leaderships of both the House and the Senate had sought his support to expedite the remedial measures to amend these provisions.

Indecision: the perverse result of the anti-corruption drive. The anti-corruption drive under the present government has caused a lot of indecision in public investment projects. This has contributed to lower productivity and greater economic inefficiency.

A perverse outcome of the anti-corruption drive was the long process of making decisions in the government. Many important PPP (public private partnerships) projects have not been completed. Some have been postponed intermittently. And many of those held back for review have seen slow action.

Many of these, unfortunately, are projects in transportation infrastructure that further aggravates the bottlenecks of transport logistics in the Metro Manila area. The slowness of construction contracts has been aggravated by the mismanagement of the maintenance of the metro rail transport system, adding discomfort and fear to thousands of daily commuters.

Although lately, some of the PPPs have moved forward, few projects will see the light of day at the end of the Aquino presidency, even if some of these projects take less time to construct than the presidential term.

In the meantime, the commuters of the city – and those that only pass through the metropolitan area to go between north and south-suffer enormous time lost due to transport inefficiencies.

These inefficiencies are costly in terms of logistics, in production time lost, thus adding to the cost of production. If this presidency had given more attention toward infrastructure construction from the very start, much of this inconveniences and inefficiencies could have been avoided.

The current problems of transportation bottlnecks translate also in terms of worker efficiencies. Imagine the daily time that is lost due to long travel time. They fray the workers’ nerves. They add to distemper, if not error in the work place.

My email is: gpsicat@gmail.com.  Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary: http://econ.upd.edu.ph/gpsicat/ .. 


MANILA STANDARD

Mild El Niño, but long dry season up ahead By Rio N. Araja | Mar. 11, 2015 at 12:01am

THE country is experiencing a mild case of El Niño that could prolong the dry season, the weather bureau said Tuesday.

“The dry spell is not defined. That is why it is called a weak El Niño,” said climatologist Anthony Lucero in a radio interview.

Bureau officials and climatologists are meeting to get an accurate forecast, said Venus Valdemorro, public information officer at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Based on the latest data of international climate monitoring agencies in Japan and Australia, there is a 50 percent to 60 percent that the El Niño episode will last until June.

An El Niño event occurs when sea surface temperatures in the central and easter equatorial Pacific become warmer than normal.

The weather bureau said the dry spell occurs every two to nine years and may persist up to nine months, causing a reduction in the amount of rainfall.

In General Santos City, Mindanao, the dry spell has devastated about 300 hectares of corn and rice farms.

The city and other parts of Region 12 are among the most vulnerable to the effects of the El Niño, the weather bureau said.

The Agriculture Department has begun taking measures, such as the distribution of water pumps and engines, as part of its preparation for the effects of the dry spell.

The National Water Resources Board, meanwhile, has assured residents in Metro Manila of a sufficient supply of potable water despite the dry months.

The Energy Department said dams operated by the National Power Corp. are still at normal operating status but the El Niño could eventually reduce the dams’ ability to deliver power.

“DOE is undertaking energy conservation and water management,” Energy Department director Mylene Capongcol said.

The Angat dam in Bulacan, which supplies the bulk of Metro Manila’s water supply reported, water levels at 201.52 meters above sea level on Tuesday, dipping from 201.78 MASL on Monday. The Angat dam has a normal water level of 212 MASL and a minimum operating level of 180 MASL.

The Ambuklao dam in Benguet also showed a slight drop in water level to 749.42 MASL from 749.44 MASL a day before. The Ambuklao dam, however, has a normal water level of 752 MASL and a minimum operating level of 740 MASL.

The Binga dam, also in Benguet, reported a water level of 571.12 MASL as of March 10, lower than the 571.26 MASL recorded the day before. The Binga dam has a normal water level of 575 MASL and minimum operating level of 563 MASL.

The San Roque dam in Pangasinan showed a slight dip in water levels to 254.64 MASL on Tuesday from 254.94 MASL the day before. The San Roque dam’s normal water level is at 280 MASL while minimum operating level is at 225.50 MASL.

Water levels at the Pantabangan dam in Nueva Ecija dropped to 190.60 MASL from 190.88 MASL for only a two-day period.

The Caliraya dam in Laguna showed no decrease as its water levels remained steady at 288.29 MASL for the past two days. Normal water levels at the Caliraya dam is at 288 MASL while minimum operating level was at 285.50 MASL.

“All hydro inflows are below last year for the same period. This was expected. That’s why we have told NIA (National Irrigation Administration) that they have to conserve water this summer,” First Gen Corp. executive vice president Ernesto Pantangco said.

First Gen Hydro Power Corp. operates the Pantabangan-Masiway hydro power plant in Nueva Ecija.

Napocor earlier pushed for the creation of the Philippine Dam Regulatory Authority to further promote dam safety and ensure compliance to international dam standards.

Napocor president Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita said the Philippines is now one of the few countries in the world without a Dams Regulatory Authority.

“Though we at NPC is very particular in following international safety guidelines and standards, there are more and more private companies being involve now in dams management. Other government agencies like NIA also have dams of their own,” Sta. Rita said.

Also on Tuesday, the Manila Water Co., Inc. said several barangays in San Mateo and Rodriguez Rizal will have no water service for three days.

Manila Water said the service interruption will begin on March 16 at 10 p.m. and will last until 10 p.m. of March 18 as the company undertakes its seismic retrofitting project.

Other barangays in Rodriguez and San Mateo and several barangays in Marikina City will also be affected and will experience up to 12 hours of water service interruption daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March 16 to 18. – With Alena Mae Flores and Anna Leah E. Gonzales


MANILA STANDARD

Consumers to pay more for power in hot months By Maricel Cruz, Macon Ramos Araneta | Mar. 11, 2015 at 12:01am

CONSUMERS will be paying more for electicity as a result of the projected power crisis in Luzon this summer, a House official said on Monday.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy and the head of the House contingent to the bicameral conference committee on energy, said Congress would not be able to pass the bill giving President Aquino emergency powers due to a deadlock on whether to pass on to consumers the expenses to be incurred in the interruptible load program.

Umali said the House will remain firm on its stand on a ‘no pass-on’ provision that the Senate, led by Senator Serge Osmena, is opposing.

“I am a hopeless optimist. I am still hoping this [no pass-on] will happen because this will provide relief to our people,” Umali told reporters.

I am hopeless optimistic, and still hope this will happen, this will provide immediate relief to our people.”

Umali made his statement even as the special powers the Aquino administration had been asking for from Congress was not granted on Monday after lawmakers disagreed on who should pay for the cost of the companies that use their own generators to help ease the expected power shortage this summer.

But Senator Sergio Osmeña III, who heads the Senate committee on energy, said it really mattered little whether Congress passed Joint Resolution No. 12, which provides for the special powers, because the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and other energy policies had already authorized it anyway.

“We will have to conduct another bicam if we agree. If we don’t agree, then there will be no resolution...but believe me, the [Interruptible Load Program] is working anyway,” Osmeña said.

The deadlock emerged during the second bicameral conference committee meeting that was supposed to reconcile the differences between the versions of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The House’s version charges the cost of the ILP to the Malampaya funds, while the Senate’s passes it on to consumers at a rate of 4 centavos per kilowatt hour, but the legislators concluded their meeting without an agreement.

Umali said the House leadership will stand by its version of the House Joint Resolution 21 that the government should not impose additional electricity cost on consumers.

“The House is standing firm [on our version of the HJR 21]. We have consulted the House leadership on this. We can only hope things will be clearer soonest,” Umali said.

Given the impasse, Umali said, the projected power crisis in Luzon will cost a huge amount to the economy. Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta

“Every one centavo increase will cost about 700 million pesos to the economy,” Umali said.

He said the rules and regulations under the Energy Regulatory Comission, such as the pass-on provision, would prevail should the Senate and the House of Representatives fail to reconcile their differences on the joint resolution.

Similarly, the ILP program of the government will continue provided that a significant cost will be charged to consumers during the crisis period.

The Department of Energy has projected a power supply shortage of 700 to 745 megawatts due to higher demand during summer.


PHILSTAR

GO NEGOSYO: Biggest Filipina Summit! GO NEGOSYO By Joey Conception (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 12, 2015 - 12:00am

Close to 10,000 participants attended our Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit last Friday, March 6, at the World Trade Center. On its 7th year, our Filipina Summit never fails to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and students and guide them in the start of their entrepreneurial journey.

Yes, their attendance to the summit is the start of their entrepreneurial journey as they are equipped with the right attitude and knowhow just by listening to more than 50 female panelists and guests. It was the biggest mentoring summit we ever had! Definitely, every year of Filipina Summit is bigger and better!

During my message, I shared the story of Marivic Quiero who was one of the participants in last year’s Filipina Summit. She was an entrepreneur from Tacloban wiped out by Typhoon Yolanda. She shared how she was blessed to be part of our summit and how she was assisted and closely mentored by leading construction entrepreneur, Alice Eduardo, our co-chair of the Filipina Summit. I was impressed by her determination to start anew. And I am sure that many entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two from her story. There are many trials in our lives, but it is up to us if we should stop or leap over it and continue.

In our keynote forum led by Ali Sotto, we were joined by empowered women from the Senate, House of Congress and the business sector. Sen. Cynthia Villar spoke about women empowerment through entrepreneurship and the livelihood programs that she leads. Rep. Leni Robredo, who now stands as a mother and a father to their family, shared how she manages to balance her work and personal life. She also continues the legacy of her late husband Sec. Robredo through the Jesse M. Robredo Foundation. Tessie Sy-Coson, who grew up in a business-minded family, shared how she learned lessons from her father, Henry Sy. She advised the students in the audience to grab opportunities in learning from summits like ours which can equip and prepare them for their futures.

We also awarded this year’s batch of Inspiring Filipina entrepreneurs who include Myrna Bituin of Betis Crafts Inc., Celinda De Guia of Ovation Productions, Roxanne Farillas of Plains and Prints, Kathleen Go of Universal Records, Emma Imperial of Imperial Homes Corp., Mary Lizabeth Lu of Komikasi Games, Riza Mantaring of Sun Life Financial Philippines, Josephine See of Peanut World, Stella Sy of Mint, Patis Tesoro of Patis Tesoro Shop, and Fe Vidal of CBN Boneless Bangus.

We also awarded social entrepreneurs Menchie De Guzman of Gantsilyo and Nanette Medved-Po of Friends of Hope Inc. Nanette has been awarded as well by BPI Ka-Negosyo with their Ka-Negosyo, Kababaihan sa Negosyo Financial Excellence Award.

We also paid tribute to iconic Filipina entrepreneurs who contributed to both the business and education sector. They are both in their 90s but are still sharp in making business decisions and in leading their respective companies. Socorro Ramos of National Book Store, who is now 92, shared that with ‘sipag at tiyaga’ one can reach their goals and be successful in life. Esther Vibal of Vibal Group believes that “From nothing, you can be something. Just work hard.” They truly deserve to be recognized as Lifetime Achievers in the field of education!

We also had an informative discussion with some of our awardees and entrepreneurs, Yati Abdullah and Marife Agudo and Rosalind Wee. They imparted how Filipinas can level-up in their lives and be successful entrepreneurs. Our awardees, Myrna Bituin, Emma Imperial, Ria Lu, Riza Mantaring, Stella Sy and Patis Tesoro shared how they started their enterprises and how they continue to lead them to growth and development. This forum was lead by broadcast journalist Karen Davila.

The next foras are as informative as the first two. I will share with you next week the panelists who shared their insights and gave advices to our audience. We also had Sen. Loren Legarda in the fourth forum which was one of the biggest fora we ever had.

In the end, we all learned a lot from this full-packed program. I hope that through our Filipina Summit, the growth in enterprises will continue and more and more Filipinas venture into entrepreneurship. The Go Negosyo set of summits, books, TV and radio programs this year will continue to provide their regular dose of knowledge. The Go Negosyo network and mentors will also be there to guide them in their journey. ..


BLOGGED: INTERNATIONAL VIEWPOINT FROM ESSF (Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF) translated [Europe of solidarity without  borders]: Aims of the association : “The aim of the association is to promote all initiatives likely to contribute to a Europe of solidarity and without borders, and to promote international solidarity between the peoples. In this perspective it intends, among other things, to help activists (from trades unions, political organisations and other grassroots groups and associations, and elected representatives) who share this goal ; to develop activities providing information or training, and solidarity initiatives ; to participate in social forums as well as in the campaigns of the global justice and anti-war movements, to collaborate with other organisations that have similar goals” (Article 2 of the Statutes, translated from the French).Source: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article280

The article:

Mindanao (Philippines): The All Out War that is Hated by All DE SILVA Raymund

Table of contents:
Sowing the SEEDS of WAR
Counting the Days… Where have all the EFFORTS GONE?

Both the leaderships of the Senate and the Lower House have set their self-imposed deadline to finish and pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill by June 30, 2015.

Both houses have promised that the version which they are going to approve will be constitutionally passable but not necessarily the version that has been mutually agreed by the peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This kind of situation can bring the whole country (not only Mindanao) into heightened political chaos – that can even lead to war.

The MILF has been explicitly showing clear signs from the start the BBL version which they have worked hard with the GPH Peace panel will be the only acceptable version for them to establish the Bangsamoro political entity.

Other version for them (MILF) will be no different or even worst than the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which is a product of the peace process of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996.

The political failure of ARMM has been benefitting the Moro traditional politicians who have been waiting for the chance of failure and exploit the broadest section of the peoples in the region, especially the Moro people.

More than 50% of the provinces within the ARMM has identified as the poorest provinces of the country amidst the vast natural and human resources found in the region.

The current ARMM leadership (chosen by the President of the country) continues to lead investors (foreign and domestic) to exploit these resources to the maximum inspite of the unconsummated peace process between GPH and MILF.

Obviously, the executive branch of the Government – through its Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) and its peace panel, has failed to convince the MILF through its peace panel that the BBL version they have agreed should pass through different levels of democratic as well as judiciary processes.

There are defined processes in different levels which will study and approve the version on their level.

In the context of Mamasapano incident which makes everybody watchful and vigilant, there can never be a rubber stumping process nor shortcutting ways in the process. Therefore while it can be expected that both are open, especially the GPH peace panel, that at the end of the day a different version of BBL will be most likely the one to be approved.


The GPH (Govt of the Philippines Peace Panel)

From the start, it has been observed that the GPH is always outmaneuvered by the MILF peace panel. In many ways, the GPH panel has eagerly defended the BBL it crafted with the MILF that for them (GPH panel) one will be termed as anti-peace or peace spoilers if their version of BBL is put on the critical scrutiny. It has been obvious that such one-sided outlook and defense of an exclusive BBL version by the GPH panel gets inspiration and support from the President of the Philippines. This is in spite of the knowledge that the BBL which they mutually agreed with the MILF has to go through Congress and the Supreme Court on its constitutionality.

The current attitude of the leadership of the MILF of not accepting a watered down version of the BBL is based on the signals they are getting from the President Noy Aquino.


MILF chief Murad Ebrahim speaks in front of the media for the first time since the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Photo taken by Karlos Manlupig

It should be recalled that both panels with the approval of the two principals (President Aquino for the GPH and Al Haj Murrad for the MILF) have laid down the time line for the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement that is after passing both houses of Congress, the President will sign it into law but it will be subjected in the plebiscite by the people in the identified areas in the region before it becomes a law which will be the legal foundation of the new Bangsamoro political entity.


LASTING PEACE. In this file photo, President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to Malacanang Palace. Malacanang photo.

Sowing the SEEDS of WAR

There is a clear manifestation of the failure of the GPH panel to inform and always remind its MILF counterpart because the latter is always sure that their signed version of the BBL is the form that should be approved in the different levels of democratic processes.

A scenario could be worst, if for instance, the results of the plebiscite will be contrary to the MILF’s expectations.

Another possible scenario, is that not all the areas, cities and provinces would want to be included in the Bangsamoro, the acceptability or openness of the MILF of this possibility is predictable.

A case in point here is Cotabato City, the current seat of ARMM and the proposed center of the Bangsamoro political entity. The City Council passed a resolution late last year to be excluded in the Bangsamoro.

It will be very difficult to imagine a situation where the political center of the Bangsamoro is not in Cotabato City. There are still other areas which expressed similar sentiments.

It has been observed that the OPAPP has not been mentioning or proposing such possible votes to the MILF by the people in the affected areas.

Furthermore, it would help to recall about the bloody reactions of the MILF (Umbra Kato and Bravo) in 2008 when the Supreme Court stopped on the eve of the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on its constitutionality.

More than one hundred people in Mindanao had been massacred and until now have not obtained justice.

With Congress’ self-imposed deadline of approving the BBL by the end of June 2015, the earliest that a plebiscite can be held will be on September 2015 which means fewer months are available for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to take over ARMM until May 2016 for Local and National Elections.

Possibilities can be that the President’s favorite and the incumbent ARMM Governor can prolong his term (the longest ARMM Governor if one counts the 2 years appointment period) while ARMM’s election is postponed for more time (1 to 2 years) for the BTA to function and prepare the MILF to take over ARMM while preparing for the elections (after June 2016).

This kind of scenario has yet to consider the strong possibility that various groups will file reconsiderations or Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the BBL on the basis of its constitutionality.

The incorrect handling of the Aquino government of the Mamasapano fiasco can further heightened the political situation and further delay the approval and passage of the BBL and in effect delays the consummation of the peace process within the legitimate term of the incumbent President.


AQUINO

At this stage the Board of Inquiry (BOI) – the body tasked by the President to investigate the January 25 incident asked for another postponement of the submission of the results of their investigation. It had promised to submit its finding last February 26, 2015 but failed to do so.

Today, it asked for another postponement (at least for three (3) days). The longer it postpones to inform the public about the findings of its investigation the more people believe that it tries to white wash the results of its finding through the Office of the President. Demands for creating other independent investigating bodies have been gaining grounds.

In the above-mentioned possibilities, it will be the new elected President of the country who will preside and face the MILF in the peace talks and the approval of the BBL. This is assuming that everything will be normal and the country will be politically stable.

With the alarming and diminishing political capital of President Noy Aquino, it will be most likely that the next President of the country will be coming from the opposition or not the anointed one of the President.

This will definitely create another complicated scenario. The trust and confidence which the Aquino administration and the OPAPP have developed and nurtured with the MILF will surely be affected. A new peace panel can even be created.

ALL OUT WAR and the ALL OUT PEACE

A few days after the Mamasapano bloody encounter, the Aquino government and its military machineries have launched all out offensives in the Maguindanao province and around the Mamasapano areas.

Its justification for such massive military operations is to hit the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the terrorist Basit Usman who survived the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano police operation.

The general reactions of people on the Mamasapano bloody massacre of the Special Action Force – Philippine National Police (SAF/PNP) has seemingly been hijacked and used to launch the offensives because people would want to hit back on the murderers of the forty four (44) butchered SAF/PNP.

More than hundreds of thousands of the peoples in the areas have been dislocated and become Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs). It is mostly the women, elderly and children who have been affected. The children have to stop schooling for their schools have been used as the evacuation centers.

It is very important to note that the Mamasapano areas have been part of the three (3) MILF Base Commands namely: the 105th, 106th and the 118th.

Aside from the BIFF who has the same area with the MILF, around 200 members of an armed group belonging to the Ampatuan Clan and led by one of the suspects of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre (the grandson of Andal Ampatuan and the brother of the incumbent Mamasapano Mayor), is believed to be staying in the area.


MAGUINDANAO AMPATUAN MASSACRE

These three armed groups have members coming from the localities – which mean that they have mastery of the terrain and have long been gone out of the Mamasapano areas before the military offensives. And as usual it will be the most vulnerable sectors who would be affected.

The projected armed clashes between the MILF and the BIFF in the Cotabato areas have been a running battle between the two big clans who accidentally belong to the MILF and the BIFF. It is the clan wars between the two groups and has nothing to do with Mamasapano fiasco.

It should be noted that the arms of the PNP/SAF which the MILF have returned to the government as sign of good will, have their serial numbers already tampered which simply means that they have been disposed of and sold to the highest bidders in the nearby areas and provinces.

Even the machineries for special arm manufacturing by the MILF/BIAF have long been transferred to the safe areas just like the case in Camp Abubakar in 2000 All Out War by the Estrada Administration.

This is undeclared all-out war of the Aquino Administration against the Moro people in the guise of war against the BIFF and suspected murderers of the SAF/PNP.

This is a war to win more leverage in the MILF dominated peace process.

The Aquino administration has been campaigning for the passage of the BBL but all signs are leading to its (GPH) own version of the BBL which the MILF and the BIAF are forced to accept because they strongly believe that the President is sincere and the next President can be unsupported of the peace talks with the MILF.

Besides big investment and substantial amount of money have already exchanged hands and more are still coming if the peace deal is consummated.

And for those who have been campaigning for all out peace, no voices from them could be heard against the all-out war of the Aquino government.

For those groups, peace can be attained if the final agreement between GPH and the MILF will be finally sealed. They equated this process as the signing of the BBL and its passage in whatever formal substance in the different levels of democratic activities.

For many of these groups, the signed peace agreement will be the best opportunity to partake substantial peace dividend for themselves.

In the open, just like the President Noy Aquino, they are campaigning that the approval of BBL and the continuation of the peace talks should not be stopped because of the Mamasapano fiasco.

Either they entirely miss the point, that getting justice to the SAF/PNP victims of the Mamasapano massacre is one of the most obvious indicators of the kind of peace one can have under the new political entity – Bangsamoro or the January 25, 2015 botched police operation has more to tell on the contents of the BBL specifically on the police and security concerns.

The incident in Mamasapano can give lessons and help fill in the gaps in the normalization process.

The campaign for all out peace should be based on Justice – which means correcting the historical and current injustices done to the three communities (Moro, Lumad and the Christians) in Mindanao and creating the spaces for an inclusive peace in Bangsamoro and Mindanao.

Justice here should never be selective and compartmentalized.

Correcting historical injustice does not mean obtaining license to do new injustice to the weak and down trodden.

This kind of peace should be based on concrete conditions of peoples in the areas and their readiness to jointly resolve their differences and build unity.

These peoples should work together to resolve the reasons why they have suffered from economic deprivation amidst a plenty of natural and human resources.

They should work together to own the process of peace building and thus strengthening their own empowerment. And they must work together to stop the process of cultural alienation which those who have been oppressing and exploiting them have been using their differences to divide and rule them in their own communities.

This is the kind of peace which should not be based on the popularity or unpopularity of one person even if he or she is the most powerful person in the country.

This is a sustainable peace which can bring the Bangsamoro, Mindanao and the whole country into a comprehensive and all-sided kind of development from backward and uneven levels of improvement of the urban and countryside to the economic and social equitability and political plurality and stability.

The all out war should be geared to help in the elimination of the economic deprivation, political isolation and cultural alienation of the three communities of people in Mindanao.

It should not be used to destroy lives and properties but rather it should be used to build and improve lives with dignity and humanely as possible.

Concretely, it should start with giving justice to the 2009 Maguindanao massacre and other massacres before that. Justice to Mamasapano murdered victims should be fast-tracked for its immediate impact on the on-going peace process.

Indigenous method of attaining justice and effective governance should be strengthened to resolve the clan conflicts/wars which can be used to build effectively the Bangsamoro Justice System and should be made integral part of the BBL.

And lastly, all out peace should be geared towards building and strengthening the economic and political structures of the Bangsamoro to eliminate the role and functions of informal economic and financial institutions in the many areas of the Bangsamoro.

The all out peace should be geared towards making the all out war which is hated by all, become more and more irrelevant everyday.

Raymund de Silva, March 9, 2015
DE SILVA Raymund

* Raymund de Silva is a Mindanao-based political analyst and has been active in different social movements and progressive organizations since the 1970s.

Online 11 March 2015


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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