DOWNED MALAYSIAN JET: WORLD LASHES AT RUSSIA 

Outraged world leaders heaped pressure on Russia Sunday to press Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine to allow investigators proper access to the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 jet. Rescue efforts were in disarray as armed gunmen in fatigues and balaclavas refused to allow international monitors full access and the grisly remains of some of the 298 passengers killed have yet to be removed. Ukraine has warned that the rebels, who Kiev and the US have accused of blowing the plane out of the sky with a missile, were ‘’hours away’’ from removing key evidence across the Russian border. The Ukrainian government said Saturday that it had proof that Russia had provided the surface-to-air missile system that shot down the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard. That claim came as officials from Malaysia and the Netherlands pleaded for politics to be put aside so they could recover their dead, still lying in a field in a war zone. Ukraine also accused Russia and separatist rebels in the east of trying to cover up their role by blocking recovery workers from the crash site, removing evidence and driving three missile launchers back to Russia just hours after the crash. At a news conference in Kiev, Vitaly Nayda, the head of counterintelligence for the Ukrainian State Security Service, displayed photographs that he said showed the three Buk-M1 missile systems on the road to the Russian border. Two of the devices, missile launchers mounted on armored vehicles, crossed the border into Russia about 2 a.m. Friday, or less than 10 hours after the jet, Flight 17, was blown apart in midair, he said. The third weapon crossed about 4 a.m. *READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy arrives at Philippine Arena in Bulacan for Iglesia ni Cristo event

President Benigno Aquino III arrived at the Ciudad de Victoria of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Bulacan past 8 a.m. Monday, for the inauguration of the Philippine Arena, said to be the world's largest indoor arena. Aquino arrived in Bocaue in Bulacan at about 8:06 a.m. for the inauguration of the Ciudad de Victoria, radio dzBB's Benjie Liwanag Jr. reported. One of his first actions was to unveil the marker of the Ciudad de Victoria, as shown by a photo posted on the Twitter account of Radio Television Malacañang. Several ranking officials led by Vice President Jejomar Binay were also present at the area for the inauguration. Earlier Monday, traffic was tight at parts of the North Luzon Expressway early Monday as members of the INC flocked to Bulacan for the inauguration of the arena. As of 5 a.m., dzBB's Liwanag reported traffic was tight at two of four lanes at the NLEX leading to Bocaue, Bulacan due to the large number of buses. The NLEX said traffic built up going to the Iglesia ni Cristo's Ciudad de Victoria area due to the inspection at the gate. It advised motorists to keep to the leftmost lanes. The Philippine Arena has a capacity of at least 50,000. The Presidential Communications Operations Office said the arena is at the Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory), a 50-hectare tourism enterprise zone in Bocaue. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Zambo City on alert vs. floods amid forecasts of rain

Authorities and residents in Zamboanga City were placed on alert Sunday against possible floods due to expected rain. The city government issued a public advisory urging residents to take precautions amid forecasts of "cloudy skies with occasional rain showers, thunderstorms and winds." "People residing in low lying areas, along river banks and shorelines are advised to take precautionary measures," it said. It also advised barangay officials, volunteers, police and the military to monitor water levels in rivers and overall situation in their areas of jurisdiction. Last week, flash floods from heavy rain hit the city, affecting at least 500 houses. The city government also issued hotlines for its city disaster management council at 9265855 or 09177113536 or 09189357858 for "response and proper coordination with concerned agencies." * READ MORE...

ALSO: 'Glenda' could have been strongest to strike Metro Manila 

Powerful typhoon "Glenda," which has left land for the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday afternoon, spared Metro Manila from being directly battered even as it ripped off roofs, electric posts and brought down trees in the capital region. Glenda, with its 150-kilometer per hour wind and blinding 185-kph gusts, could otherwise be the strongest cyclone and most expensive disaster ever to strike the densely populated, low-lying Metro Manila. Weather Underground's chief meteorologist Jeff Masters said in his blog that Glenda, internationally named Rammasun, is fiercer than typhoon Angela which made a direct hit on Manila with 90 to 105 mph (144 to 168 kph). "Flooding is already occurring in Manila, and flood and wind damage in the city have the potential to make Rammasun one of the top ten most expensive natural disasters in Philippine history," Masters said.
* READ MORE...

ALSO Tribune commentary: Move on, Mr. President 

Embrace, not defy, the SC decision on the DAP and move on; time is running out. President Aquino III should embrace, not defy, the Supreme Court ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) — and move on. His term is running out fast. He cannot afford to continue his divisive, autocratic and vindictive streak if he wants to leave a modicum of lasting legacy to the Filipino people. In the next two years, what we need is a President who will be focused on making up for our lack of public infrastructure, on creating a lot of decent jobs for our labor-surplus economy, on attracting massive foreign direct investments, and on reducing poverty. CRUMBLING PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE On the sad state of public infrastructure, Mr. Aquino has to reverse his record during the past four years, characterized by under provision for, and poor implementation of, government infrastructure projects. In the last three years, actual spending for public infrastructure as percent of GDP has been below 2 percent. This should be raised to about 5 percent of GDP now rather than in 2016. This would involve increasing government spending by another P130 to P260 billion annually. How will it be financed? It should borrow money to finance the higher deficit. The cost of borrowing money is rock bottom and will continue to be low in the next seven years, at least. But it should apply the government rule: finance only projects that would give a rate of return higher than the cost of money. * READ MORE...

ALSO MALAYA 0PINION: DOCTORS SLAM DAP FUNDING OF STEM CELL RESEARCH   

WHEN a combative President Aquino addressed the nation Monday last week defending his Disbursement Accelerated Program or DAP which had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, he made it appear that the projects funded by DAP were cases that bordered between life and death. To underscore the purported urgent nature of the DAP projects, Aquino shared a text message he got: “On this note, allow me to share a text message I received in the last week. It reads: “The politicians are making fiesta regarding DAP; but to our simple non-legalistic mind, it is like a motorist who parked in a ‘no parking zone’ because he had to rush to save the life of an accident victim, which has more value. I’m praying hard that these people will see the good of the people rather than their own ambition.” “To this I replied: I think the situation now is similar to what you mentioned, and it might be even worse. I am after all being arrested for parking in an area that up to now hasn’t yet been declared a no-parking zone. Is this reasonable?” In response to public demand for an accounting of DAP funds, Malacañang released a list containing 116 projects totaling P167, 061,410,000. The list said amount released was P144, 378,303,000. No. 15 of that list was LCOP (Lung Center of the Philippines) titled “Bio-Regenerative Technology Program.” The description: “To fund the Bio-Regenerative Program aimed at harnessing stem cell research and technology to reconstruct new healthy cells, replacing cancer or dead cells.” Reacting to that item, Philippine College of Physicians headed by Dr. Tony Leachon issued a statement expressing “ dismay and sadness over the priority funding of P70 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that went to stem-cell research when the money should have been spent for more urgent and vital healthcare needs. “ * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

World lashes at Russia

Moscow provided missile that downed Malaysian jet – Ukraine


AT UKRAINE CRASH SITE (AFP/ AP) – Flowers and toys are left at the site of the crash of a Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 298 people in Grabove in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. At right, emergency workers load the body of a victim on a truck at the crash site.

GRABOVCE, UKRAINE (AFP / NYT), JULY 21, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) Outraged world leaders heaped pressure on Russia Sunday to press Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine to allow investigators proper access to the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 jet.

Rescue efforts were in disarray as armed gunmen in fatigues and balaclavas refused to allow international monitors full access and the grisly remains of some of the 298 passengers killed have yet to be removed.

Ukraine has warned that the rebels, who Kiev and the US have accused of blowing the plane out of the sky with a missile, were ‘’hours away’’ from removing key evidence across the Russian border.

The Ukrainian government said Saturday that it had proof that Russia had provided the surface-to-air missile system that shot down the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.

That claim came as officials from Malaysia and the Netherlands pleaded for politics to be put aside so they could recover their dead, still lying in a field in a war zone.

Ukraine also accused Russia and separatist rebels in the east of trying to cover up their role by blocking recovery workers from the crash site, removing evidence and driving three missile launchers back to Russia just hours after the crash.

At a news conference in Kiev, Vitaly Nayda, the head of counterintelligence for the Ukrainian State Security Service, displayed photographs that he said showed the three Buk-M1 missile systems on the road to the Russian border. Two of the devices, missile launchers mounted on armored vehicles, crossed the border into Russia about 2 a.m. Friday, or less than 10 hours after the jet, Flight 17, was blown apart in midair, he said. The third weapon crossed about 4 a.m.

* Nayda said that the missile had been fired from the town of Snizhne, in rebel-controlled territory, echoing US intelligence showing the missile coming from eastern Ukraine. Both the Ukrainians and the Americans said they believed that the separatist rebels would have needed help from Russia in order to fire such a weapon.

At a news conference in Washington on Friday, Rear Adm. John F. Kirby said that it would have been difficult for the separatists to have fired the missile, believed to be a Russian-built SA-11, without Russian help.

The missile “is a sophisticated piece of technology,” he said, adding that “it strains credulity to think that it could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance.”

Kirby also raised the possibility that the Russian military had driven the SA-11 system into Ukraine and even fired it.

“It was a surface-to-air missile, an SA-11, fired from a location controlled by Russian separatists near the border,” he said. “Whether it was a Russian military unit that did it or it was a separatist unit that did it, we don’t know.”

A senior US official said Saturday that the United States had no reason to doubt Ukrainian government statements that the SA-11 unit that fired on the plane had been seen heading back toward Russia.

TIES AT CRISIS POINT

As fears grew that evidence was being tampered with world leaders voiced their frustration with Moscow, pushing East-West ties to crisis point after months of discord over the Kremlin’s interference in ex-Soviet Ukraine.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that Washington was ‘’deeply concerned’’ investigators were denied ‘’proper access’’ to the crash site for a second consecutive day.

His spokeswoman Jen Psaki later said the ‘’unacceptable’’ insecurity at the crash site was an ‘’affront to all those who lost loved ones and to the dignity the victims deserve.’’

‘’The United States is also very concerned about reports that the remains of some victims and debris from the site are being tampered with or inappropriately removed from the site,’’ the State Department said.

Kerry was backed by leaders from Britain, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and France — as well as Ukraine — in calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in getting an international probe under way.

There was growing concern about the whereabouts of some of the bodies which had been removed from the crash site, while others were left lying in field in the rural part of eastern Ukraine where the Boeing 777 jet was brought to ground.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called for tougher European action against Moscow if Putin did not change tack.

‘’If President Putin does not change his approach on Ukraine, then Europe and the West must fundamentally change our approach to Russia,’’ he said, writing in the Sunday Times newspaper.

‘’Russia can use this moment to find a path out of this festering, dangerous crisis. I hope it will do so. But if that does not happen then we must respond robustly,’’

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte – his nation mourning the loss of 192 compatriots — said he had called on Putin during a ‘’very intense’’ conversation to ‘’take responsibility’’ for a credible investigation.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the crash site was ‘’absolutely chaotic’’ as he sought to recover 28 bodies of his compatriots killed in the disaster.

‘’My fear is that Russia will say the right thing, but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of bodies will continue,’’ he said.

International monitors were met on Saturday by Kalashnikov-wielding militias who allowed them access to only the outskirts of the field — its swaying sunflowers hiding dismembered remains of charred and decomposing bodies of victims whose lives were cut short on Thursday.

The Ukrainian government issued a furious statement declaring that ‘’terrorists with the support of Russia are trying to destroy proof of this international crime.’’

Malaysia’s transport minister expressed alarm before boarding a flight to Kiev over ‘’indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place.’’

‘’One of the crucial questions is the fate of the black boxes,’’ said Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe spokesman Michael Bociurkiw.

The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, into whose airspace the doomed jet strayed to avoid bad weather, said his men had never recovered the data recorders or tampered with evidence.

UKRAINE OFFENSIVE

The diplomatic wrangling was accompanied by uninterrupted fighting across Ukraine’s eastern rustbelt — a Russian-speaking region of seven million people who largely view the more nationalistic west of the splintered country with mistrust.

Ukrainian troops pressed on with an offensive against the rebels, reporting they had taken full control of the main airport of the neighboring separatist stronghold of Lugansk and launching all-out offensives against two nearby towns.

Government troops said they had also established full control of Donetsk airport for the first time since it was seized at the end of May.

Kiev said the latest clashes killed five soldiers and wounded another 20.

ASEAN CONDEMNATION

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) condemned the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine and called for a full, independent and transparent investigation into the catastrophe.

“We express shock at the tragic deaths of the 298 people of multiple nationalities on board the airline,” foreign ministers of the 10 member states of ASEAN said in a joint statement issued over the weekend. “ASEAN member states hereby convey our profound sorrow and condolences to the families and loved ones of those on board Flight MH17.”

The Philippines earlier expressed its own condemnation of the shooting down of the Malaysian plane and conveyed its our profound condolences for all who perished in the tragedy.

“Those responsible should be made fully accountable for this unconscionable assault on a non-military aircraft that posed no threat whatsoever to any party,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued over the weekend.

Three Filipinos–a mother and his two children–perished in the catastrophe.

Authorities identified the Filipino victims as as Irene Gunawan, 54, and her children, 20-year-old Sherryl Shania and 15-year-old Darryl Dwight.

Based on passport records with the DFA, the given address of the Filipino victims was Netherlands. (With reports from New York Times, Roy C. Mabasa)

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

PNoy arrives at Philippine Arena in Bulacan for Iglesia ni Cristo event July 21, 2014 8:07am


PHL Arena ready for Iglesia ni Cristo's centennial
. The 50-hectare Philippine Arena in Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan, will be inaugurated on Monday. The structure is the centerpiece of the Iglesia ni Cristo's centennial celebrations on July 27, 2014. Danny Pata

(Updated 8:19 a.m.) President Benigno Aquino III arrived at the Ciudad de Victoria of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Bulacan past 8 a.m. Monday, for the inauguration of the Philippine Arena, said to be the world's largest indoor arena.

Aquino arrived in Bocaue in Bulacan at about 8:06 a.m. for the inauguration of the Ciudad de Victoria, radio dzBB's Benjie Liwanag Jr. reported.

One of his first actions was to unveil the marker of the Ciudad de Victoria, as shown by a photo posted on the Twitter account of Radio Television Malacañang.

Several ranking officials led by Vice President Jejomar Binay were also present at the area for the inauguration.

Earlier Monday, traffic was tight at parts of the North Luzon Expressway early Monday as members of the INC flocked to Bulacan for the inauguration of the arena.

As of 5 a.m., dzBB's Liwanag reported traffic was tight at two of four lanes at the NLEX leading to Bocaue, Bulacan due to the large number of buses.

The NLEX said traffic built up going to the Iglesia ni Cristo's Ciudad de Victoria area due to the inspection at the gate. It advised motorists to keep to the leftmost lanes.

The Philippine Arena has a capacity of at least 50,000.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office said the arena is at the Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory), a 50-hectare tourism enterprise zone in Bocaue. —Joel Locsin/KG, GMA News

Zambo City on alert vs. floods amid forecasts of rain July 20, 2014 12:08pm 152 23 0 178 GMA NEWS NETWORK

Authorities and residents in Zamboanga City were placed on alert Sunday against possible floods due to expected rain.

The city government issued a public advisory urging residents to take precautions amid forecasts of "cloudy skies with occasional rain showers, thunderstorms and winds."

"People residing in low lying areas, along river banks and shorelines are advised to take precautionary measures," it said.

It also advised barangay officials, volunteers, police and the military to monitor water levels in rivers and overall situation in their areas of jurisdiction.

Last week, flash floods from heavy rain hit the city, affecting at least 500 houses.

The city government also issued hotlines for its city disaster management council at 9265855 or 09177113536 or 09189357858 for "response and proper coordination with concerned agencies." — Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News

FROM PHILSTAR

'Glenda' could have been strongest to strike Metro Manila By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated July 16, 2014 - 5:21pm 26 375 googleplus1 0


Residents of the slum community of Baseco evacuate to safer grounds as Typhoon Glenda (international name Rammasun) battered Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Rammasun knocked out power in many areas but it spared the Philippine capital and densely populated northern provinces from being directly battered Wednesday when its fierce wind shifted slightly away, officials said. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Powerful typhoon "Glenda," which has left land for the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday afternoon, spared Metro Manila from being directly battered even as it ripped off roofs, electric posts and brought down trees in the capital region.

Glenda, with its 150-kilometer per hour wind and blinding 185-kph gusts, could otherwise be the strongest cyclone and most expensive disaster ever to strike the densely populated, low-lying Metro Manila.

Weather Underground's chief meteorologist Jeff Masters said in his blog that Glenda, internationally named Rammasun, is fiercer than typhoon Angela which made a direct hit on Manila with 90 to 105 mph (144 to 168 kph).

"Flooding is already occurring in Manila, and flood and wind damage in the city have the potential to make Rammasun one of the top ten most expensive natural disasters in Philippine history," Masters said.

* Typhoon Glenda (international name Rammasun) over the Philippines as seen in a satellite image from NASA.

"According to NOAA's historical hurricane web page, the strongest typhoon ever to make a direct hit on Manila was Typhoon Angela of 1995, which was a strong category 1 or weak category 2 when it passed over the city," he explained.

Glenda intensified before it made a landfall over Sorsogon and Albay in the Bicol region on Tuesday. At the height of its onslaught over Southern Luzon, 35 areas were placed under a warning signal and at least seven people were killed.

In a shantytown at the edge of Manila Bay, hundreds fled when strong wind tore tin roofs off their shanties. Most were drenched by the rain before they reached an evacuation center with the help of firemen and rescue personnel.

Footage of typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) striking Legaspi taken by storm chaser James Reynolds of Earth Uncut TV.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he was relieved there were no reported deaths after the typhoon sideswiped his city although its wind still downed trees and damaged seaside shanties, prompting more than 1,000 residents to evacuate.

Glenda is the strongest typhoon to pass over landmass since the deadly Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 13. - with the Associated Press

Move on, Mr. President Written by Tribune Monday, 21 July 2014 00:00

Embrace, not defy, the SC decision on the DAP and move on; time is running out.

President Aquino III should embrace, not defy, the Supreme Court ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) — and move on. His term is running out fast. He cannot afford to continue his divisive, autocratic and vindictive streak if he wants to leave a modicum of lasting legacy to the Filipino people.

In the next two years, what we need is a President who will be focused on making up for our lack of public infrastructure, on creating a lot of decent jobs for our labor-surplus economy, on attracting massive foreign direct investments, and on reducing poverty.

CRUMBLING PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE

On the sad state of public infrastructure, Mr. Aquino has to reverse his record during the past four years, characterized by under provision for, and poor implementation of, government infrastructure projects.

In the last three years, actual spending for public infrastructure as percent of GDP has been below 2 percent. This should be raised to about 5 percent of GDP now rather than in 2016. This would involve increasing government spending by another P130 to P260 billion annually.

How will it be financed? It should borrow money to finance the higher deficit. The cost of borrowing money is rock bottom and will continue to be low in the next seven years, at least. But it should apply the government rule: finance only projects that would give a rate of return higher than the cost of money.

The government has poor absorptive capacity, the Aquino administration would argue. But the weak and slow bureaucracy is its own making. In order to speed up implementation, it should do the following: First, it should bid and implement projects simultaneously, not sequentially.

Second, it should broaden the list of qualified small, medium, and large contractors.

Third, it should kick ass: Mr. Aquino should stop coddling incompetent Secretaries and instead should fire them. He should put the greater good over friendship.

Mr. Aquino’s public-private partnership (PPP) projects are inching rather slowly. He should correct his bias for “pure type” PPP projects. This approach is slow and could make its use very expensive for end users.

There has to be a shift in favor of hybrid-type PPP, where the government constructs the project and then let the private sector, through competitive bidding, operate and manage the project.

Assuming zero or minimal corruption, the hybrid-type approach is less costly (more affordable) to end users for the following reasons: first, the government can borrow money at lower cost; second, it can acquire right-of-way at less costs though the exercise of its power of eminent domain; and third, the government does not have to impute “pure” profits.

If the PPP project were to be of the “pure” type, the project proponents would insist on a return on investment of at least 15 percent. Such arrangement would survey impose a heavy burden on end users.

IT’S THE LACK OF DECENT JOBS, STUPID

Some 1.2 million workers join the labor force every year. This is on top of some 10 million unemployed and underemployed workers. This requires full-time attention and a new paradigm.

Here are some key government interventions. First, the government should modernize agriculture — invest in small, scale agriculture related public infrastructure, adoption of modern farm inputs and techniques, and undertaking serious agrarian reform programs.

About one-third of the work force is in the sector. Mild food price increases favor the 100 million Filipinos. The pressure on higher wages would be minimized if food prices are reasonable.

The Aquino administration should move more aggressively in attracting foreign direct investments. It should streamline bureaucratic procedures and processes. It should make corporate and personal income tax systems competitive with its Asian neighbors. And it should adopt a more reasonable tax system on mining.

Ideally, it should work on relaxing the restrictive provisions in the Constitution. Realistically, this is not going to happen under the Aquino administration.

POVERTY HAS REMAINED STUBBORNLY HIGH

One of three Filipinos is poor, according to official government statistics. More worrisome, more than half of Filipinos are poor and that there has been no improvement since the Aquino administration took office, according to the Social Weather Stations. This horrible state of poverty will continue to be a nagging issue during Mr. Aquino last 23 months in office.

I agree that the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program could have a positive impact on poverty alleviation in this country. But its implementation and future directions have to be tweaked.

First, involving local government authorities in program implementation may reduce its operating costs. Remember that social welfare is a devolved function. In fact, many former national employees of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are now working at the local level. I refuse to believe that only the only honest person in the country is the unelected DSWD secretary, and that the elected local government unit chief executives are all untrustworthy.

Second, the CCT program should have a job-creation component. Able-bodied parents of CCT child-beneficiaries should be given opportunities to work. This adds dignity to the working class.

Third, the CCT program parameters should be strictly enforced. Expansion of the program should be cleared with Congress, which has the power of the purse. Incurring further indebtedness for the CCT program requires approval by Congress.
|
Finally, a program of this magnitude should have a clear exit strategy. At what point, should the CCT program be phased down? What are the important guideposts of success?

GRAVEST RISK IS AN UNFOCUSED PRESIDENT

Unless fundamental changes are put in place, unemployment, poverty and poor infrastructure are likely to worsen before they get better. The President, during his final days, cannot afford to keep his eye off the ball.

In his last 700 days in office, he should be focused on implementing a well-crafted economic plan. He should put together a Cabinet that works as one —effectively, purposively, and in a coordinated way.

The gravest risk for the republic is having an unfocused President, one who is more worried about the dire consequences of the Supreme Court ruling on the DAP on his life after his presidency, rather than addressing the tasks of sustaining economic growth, creating decent jobs, and reducing poverty.

A conflicted and unfocused President, coming at the most testing moment of his presidency, could be the Filipino people’s worst nightmare.

FROM MALAYA

DOCTORS SLAM DAP FUNDING OF STEM CELL RESEARCH By Ellen Tordesillas | July 21, 2014


By Ellen Tordesillas

WHEN a combative President Aquino addressed the nation Monday last week defending his Disbursement Accelerated Program or DAP which had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, he made it appear that the projects funded by DAP were cases that bordered between life and death.

To underscore the purported urgent nature of the DAP projects, Aquino shared a text message he got: “On this note, allow me to share a text message I received in the last week. It reads: “The politicians are making fiesta regarding DAP; but to our simple non-legalistic mind, it is like a motorist who parked in a ‘no parking zone’ because he had to rush to save the life of an accident victim, which has more value. I’m praying hard that these people will see the good of the people rather than their own ambition.”

“To this I replied: I think the situation now is similar to what you mentioned, and it might be even worse. I am after all being arrested for parking in an area that up to now hasn’t yet been declared a no-parking zone. Is this reasonable?”

In response to public demand for an accounting of DAP funds, Malacañang released a list containing 116 projects totaling P167, 061,410,000. The list said amount released was P144, 378,303,000.

No. 15 of that list was LCOP (Lung Center of the Philippines) titled “Bio-Regenerative Technology Program.”

The description: “To fund the Bio-Regenerative Program aimed at harnessing stem cell research and technology to reconstruct new healthy cells, replacing cancer or dead cells.”

Reacting to that item, Philippine College of Physicians headed by Dr. Tony Leachon issued a statement expressing “ dismay and sadness over the priority funding of P70 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that went to stem-cell research when the money should have been spent for more urgent and vital healthcare needs. “

* The PCP said, “Although, the stem cell treatment can be an innovative medicine, it is not urgent for the government to fund research or harness ways to expedite its practice…Stem cell therapy - an untested, expensive and experimental therapy and doing research on it - is not a national priority in all angles. P70 million DAP money can go a long way in helping many poor patients rather than on unproven therapy that will benefit only a few Filipinos?”

The PCP cited more urgent needs related to health: “The money could have been used for research on scientifically-proven treatment for fatal noncommunicable diseases , for the creation of a national workforce healthcare plan or for upgrading public hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital , PCMC , Fabella hospital , and other DOH or non DOH public hospitals for the poor. “

Not surprisingly, Lung Center executive director Jose Luis J. Danguilan defended the DAP money the hospital got.

Actually Lung Center got a total of P105 million. No. 14 item in the Malacañang list is also for LCOP. It’s P35 million for Pediatric Pulmonary Program to “cover health care, equipment, supplies and materials needed for the hospital admission and confinement of children from three months to 18 years of age afflicted with lung diseases under the Pediatric Pulmonary Program.”

Danguilan said the P70 million money was used to purchase equipment and supplies for the LCP Molecular Diagnostics and Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory for research “mainly on dendritic cell vaccine for use in cancer treatment, specifically lung cancer.”

“To spend the money wisely, it was decided that pieces of equipment needed for the Bioregenerative Program and the Pediatric Unit could also be used by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory, the Department of Thoracic Surgery and Surgery, the Department of Pulmonary Medicine and the Department of Radiology,” he said.

Having spent the money properly is not the issue in the DAP but its unconstitutionality. P70 million for stem research invalidates the emergency illegal parking justification of Aquino.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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