ADOBO & LECHON PLANNED IN POPE FRANCIS MENU 

SEPT 5 --POPE Francis will get to taste two favorite Filipino dishes when he visits the Philippines in January next–chicken adobo and lechon. Steve Tamayo, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Tamayo Catering Service and Restaurant, on Wednesday said he plans to serve the famous Filipino dishes and some Italian food to the pontiff. He noted that the pope’s visit is a good chance for the country to introduce Filipino dishes to the international community.

“Of course yung walang kamatayang chicken adobo, maraming version yan e, talagang pinipilit namin na makapasok sa international [arena] yung Filipino food, baka mamaya ito na yung way [Of course, we’re serving him the ever-present chicken adobo, it has many versiosn, we really want Filipino food to make it to the international arena, we hope serving the pope our favorite dishes could start the journey],” Tamayo said. “Of course Italian food . . . lechon di naman nawawala yan [lechon it’s always there],” he added. Tamayo said some of his “priest friends” advised him to prepare the best food for the papal visit. He, however, clarified that the final menu would depend on the decision of organizers of Francis’ visit. “Sila ang mag-request kung ano ang pagkain [They will be the ones to make the request what dishes they want served],” Tamayo explained.*READ MORE...

ALSO: This pope means business; financial management pillar of his mission; wants more money to go to the poor       

NEWS SPECIAL FROM FORTUNE MAGAZINE AUG 14 --Pope Francis has a complex but pragmatic view of money. “Money is useful to carry out many things, for works to support humanity,” he has said. “But when your heart is attached to it, it destroys you.” The wildly popular Francis is more than a pontiff of the people. He’s an elite manager who’s reforming the Vatican’s troubled finances. The new pope wanted to talk about money. That was the message that went out to a group of seven prominent financiers—major Catholics all—from around the world in the summer of 2013. Barely five months after the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis had summoned them to assemble at the seat of holy power, the Vatican. They knew their general assignment: to create a plan to restructure the Vatican’s scandal-plagued finances. And like Catholics everywhere, they knew that Francis had already signaled that he was a new kind of pontiff, a “people’s pope” who championed charity and tolerance over dogma. Still, they didn’t know what to expect when they arrived at the Vatican for a meeting with the pope on the first Saturday in August. How interested was he in finance, really? And how serious was he about changing business as usual inside the Vatican?

A major hint came from a change in tradition upon their arrival: The visitors didn’t report to the Apostolic Palace, the Renaissance showplace where for centuries past popes had received visitors in high style. Instead they entered Vatican City on the other side of the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square and took a 150-yard stroll through the hilly enclave to the new pope’s place of business—Casa Santa Marta, a five-story limestone guesthouse that could be mistaken for a newish hotel. There they were ushered into a nondescript meeting room on the first floor with no paintings or religious ornaments and took their seats around a conference table. The members—including Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, ex-chief of asset-management giant Invesco in Europe; Jochen Messemer, a top executive at ERGO, a large German insurer; and George Yeo, former foreign minister of Singapore—chatted nervously as they waited.

After 15 minutes, Pope Francis entered the room—and got right down to business. Attired in a simple white cassock and plain metal cross, he took his place standing at the head of the table. With little preamble, he began outlining his strategic vision, in an approach described by one participant as “highly managerial.” Speaking in fluent Italian and taking frequent pauses while a translator repeated his words in English, the pope explained to the group that for his spiritual message to be credible, the Vatican’s finances must be credible as well. After centuries of secrecy and intrigue, it was time to open the books to the faithful. Strict rules and protocols must be adopted to end the cycle of scandals that had plagued the Vatican in recent years. Francis declared that sound financial management was a pillar of his greatest mission: aiding the poor and underprivileged. That mission was endangered by volatile, unpredictable budgets that careened from modest surpluses to steep deficits. *CONTINUE READING.....

ALSO: 500-year-old Jesus veil arriving in Phl  

A sacred relic called “The Holy Face of Jesus from Manoppello,” a piece of cloth reportedly bearing the imprint of the face of Christ, will visit the country from Sept. 10 to 17. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the relic, a veil called sudarium customarily used by Jews to cover the face of their dead at burial, will be seen by the public in various places in Metro Manila starting Wednesday. The Veil of Manoppello measures 7 x10 inches and has been in the custody of the Capuchin Friary in Abruzzo, near Rome for 500 years. On Wednesday, the veil could be seen at Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati during mass at 6 p.m.

On Sept. 11, the veil will join the Marian pilgrimage activities at Lipa, Batangas from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be transferred to the Montemaria Shrine at Batangas City for the evening mass. On Sept. 12, the veil will return to Lipa to join the Marian pilgrimage from 5 to 7 p.m. On Sept. 13, the image will arrive at the EDSA Shrine at 9:30 a.m. for a noon mass. At 3 p.m., it will leave for the Holy Face of Jesus Chapel on Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, where Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, will deliver a short talk followed by mass. On Sept. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Holy Face of Jesus will be at the National Sacred Heart Shrine, 4 Sacred Heart Street corner Kamagong, Makati, where mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. On Sept. 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be a mass and vigil at the Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned on Pedro Gil in Sta. Ana, Manila. At 3:30 p.m., a vigil will be held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at Plaza Rizal, Malinao, Pasig City. On Sept. 16, the veil will be at the Immaculate Conception Parish Church at Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sept.17 at 6:15 a.m., there will be a farewell mass at Santuario de San Antonio in Makati. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Maguindanao under state of calamity as floods ravage towns  

SEPT 5 --PHOTO: Employees of the office of Maguindanao's provincial governor in Buluan town prepare an initial shipment of rice ration for flooded towns in the province. John Unson AGUINDANAO, Philippines – The provincial board on Friday declared Maguindanao under state of calamity as floodwaters spawned by incessant rains since last week continued spreading through farming enclaves in low-lying areas. Lawyer Bobby Katambak, a senior member of the provincial board, said he and his colleagues voted unanimously for the approval of the resolution declaring the province under state of calamity. The resolution, covering 26 of the 36 towns in the province, will hasten the release of funds for relief works in the flooded areas. Most of the 26 towns are traversed by waterways and dotted with swamps connecting to the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, a geographical catch basin for dozens of rivers that spring from forested hinterlands in North Cotabato, Bukidnon Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.

In a statement Friday, the Maguindanao Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the floods affected 30,560 families or a total of 150,476 persons. Katambak said the office of Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu has been providing the flood victims with food rations since Monday. “I am thanking the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for acting promptly on the need to declare the flooded towns in Maguindanao under state of calamity,” Mangudadatu told The Star while supervising the repacking of five tons of relief supplies at his office in Buluan town. A 4-year-old ethnic Teduray, Ranin Toniakao perished last weekend when a landslide hit their shanty beside a hill in Blensong District in North Upi, Maguindanao following two days of heavy downpours Toniakao’s twin sister, Reina Mae, is still recuperating from a fractured left leg at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City. The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao donated P10,000 for the child’s medication. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Indian Commander of UN Peacekeeping Force: Filipinos' defiance unprofessional  

SEPT 4 --PHOTO: UNDOF commander Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha inspects the Irish contingent in this March 2014 photo. Irish Defense Forces --MANILA, Philippines — The Indian commander of the United Nations' (UN) peacekeeping force broke his silence on the Philippine military's accusations that he misguidedly ordered besieged Filipino troops to surrender their arms to rebels in Golan Heights over the weekend. In an interview with a Noida-based newspaper, UN Disengagement Observer Force Commander Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha criticized the defiance of the 40 trapped Filipino peacekeepers as "non-professional."

Singha said the Filipinos' resistance further compromised the situation of the Fijian peacekeepers earlier abducted by the Syrian rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda. "The non-professional actions of the Filipino troops have endangered the lives of the Fijian soldiers," Singha told the India Times in a report published Thursday (Manila time). "They have defied orders at a time when we had negotiated a ceasefire with the rebels to ensure that all troops in the conflict area could exit," he added. The military leader's statement coincided with the UN's denial that the order was issued. The organization said, however, that it backs Singha's decisions during the siege and commended him for sending a quick reaction force to extract trapped men. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Traffic to cost P6B a day by 2030 – JICA study  

SEPT 5 --The cost of traffic in Metro Manila will likely increase to P6 billion a day – from P2.4 billion today – if there is no intervention by 2030, says a transport study which cites strategies to reduce traffic congestion. The study is named “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Surrounding Areas,” and it was conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in close coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and other relevant agencies. Its strategies aim to reduce traffic congestion significantly before it impacts the lower-income group who will be hardest hit when congestion worsens by 2030.

20% OF MONTHLY INCOME The average low-income group households have to spend no less than 20 percent of their monthly household income for transport, the study showed. In 2030, the same low-income households will have to allocate more of their income because transport cost will be 2.5 times higher, the study said. Without intervention, that will be the result of a traffic demand that will likely increase by 13 percent. ‘DREAM PLAN’ The JICA study presents a “Dream Plan” to have a modern, affordable, and a well-coordinated and integrated transport system for Mega Manila by 2030. To achieve that, there is a need to establish better north-south connectivity and appropriate hierarchy of different transportation modes such as roads, railways, and other mass transits. The roadmap study looks at the development of an integrated public transport system that will go hand in hand with planned urban expansion to adjoining provinces, affordable housing for low-income groups, and retrofitting of existing urban areas in integration with public transport. In Metro Manila, there will be a need to expand the multi-modal public transport network and strengthen traffic management systems. INTELLIGENT TRANSPORT SYSTEM *READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘NLEX parking lot’ forces some commuters to walk on highway to Balintawak 

SEPT 5 --Heavy traffic on NLEX forces commuters to walk Heavy traffic on NLEX forces commuters to walk . Early morning traffic on NLEX forces commuters to walk toward the Balintawak area in Quezon City on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. In a post on its Twitter account, NLEX administration said the tail end of the traffic, caused by the one-truck lane policy, has reached the Valenzuela Interchange southbound. Ruston Banal Jr. A stretch of the North Luzon Expressway's Manila-bound part was turned into a giant parking lot on Friday as large trucks entering Metro Manila had to fit into just one lane upon entering northern Metro Manila.

Traffic slowed to a crawl as truck drivers sought to comply with the policy of northern Metro Manila cities like Caloocan allowing only one lane for trucks. Because of the resulting traffic, motorists were infuriated and many commuters were forced to get out of their vehicles and walk, GMA News' Susan Enriquez reported on "24 Oras." Worse, the report said there does not appear to be any immediate solution to the problem at this time. Friday's vehicle queue stretched up to five kilometers between Meycauayan in Bulacan and A. Bonifacio in Caloocan. As of 7:10 p.m., the NLEX website indicated heavy traffic at the Manila-bound parts of NLEX at Valenzuela and Balintawak. Blame game *READ MORE...

ALSO: Kidnapping on the rise   

SEPT 5 --Watchdog says targets include Chinoys, doctors --THERE has been a resurgence of kidnapping this year with 33 cases so far, involving 50 victims, the anti-crime group Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) said Thursday. Of the 50 kidnapping victims, 17 were Filipino-Chinese, including Benito Chao, 69, who was killed after his family sought police assistance, said the group’s founding chairwoman, Teresita Ang See. In custody. Four suspects in the killing of Inspector Roderick Medrano were presented by the Quezon City Police Chief Richard Albano at a press conference on Thursday. All are from Commonwealth village in Quezon City. Manny Palmero She added that most of the incidents were in Luzon and Mindanao. Chao was the only fatality so far this year, Ang See said. Of the 50 victims, 29 were freed and one escaped. Only three were rescued. “In many instances, victims and their families are afraid and reluctant to go to the police.

Our task is to encourage them to do so, and to pursue their cases to the rightful conclusions,” said MRPO chairman Ka Kuen Chua. MRPO said kidnappings had dropped from a high of 113 in 2009 to only 41 incidents in 2012, but climbed again in 2013 to 46 cases. Ang-See said the kidnappers were becoming bolder, carrying out their crimes in places they used to avoid. For example, she said, kidnappers used to avoid Manila because the heavy traffic made it difficult to escape. But this year, three kidnapping cases have already been recorded in Manila – in Sta. Mesa, Divisoria and Binondo. “The kidnappers have sufficient confidence that they can get away with it,” Ang-See added.

Aside from Filipino-Chinese, the kidnappers are also targeting doctors as victims, she said. The MRPO report contradicted a recent police claim that the crime rate in Metro Manila has gone down in recent months. Earlier this week, police said a photo posted on Twitter showing four men aiming guns at a Toyota Fortuner on EDSA was a kidnapping, and that they were trying to identify the gunmen. Witnesses said the incident took place at about 2 p.m. Monday in a main thoroughfare through which 1.3 million vehicles pass daily. The Palace ordered the Philippine National Police to beef up its intelligence gathering and surveillance operations after kidnap-for-ransom cases rose to 38 this from January to August this year, up by 22 percent from last year for the same period. “The PNP must intensify their intelligence and surveillance efforts since some of the KFR groups are associated with other criminal syndicates and they have information on the movements of these syndicates,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said. Coloma said based on PNP data, the number of kidnapping cases rose “slightly” to 38 as of last August from 31 cases for the same period last year. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Bantayan Island still waiting for morehelp from national government 

Ten months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) plowed through Central and Eastern Visayas, victims in the town of Santa Fe are still not getting enough help from the national government. “We are still waiting for the assistance especially emergency shelter coming from the [Department of Social Welfare and Development] and other agencies that will be providing. We are still waiting for calamity funds. For the meantime there are donors from the non-government agencies that are able to give temporary shelter,” Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana said early this month. Yolanda made its fourth landfall in Bantayan when it struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Although there were no casualties in this town, 95 percent of the population was affected.
For Esgana, the national government seemed to have forgotten about them.

“Nabuhay lang ang lugar namin nung inannounce during the [State of the Nation Address] ni [President Benigno Aquino III] na approved na niya [ang rehabilitation plan]. (Our place was only remembered again when Aquino made an announcement during the SONA [about the rehabilitation plan],” he said. He was referring to Aquino’s statement during his SONA speech in July, which said the local government unit rehabilitation and recovery plan for Yolanda-stricken areas has already been signed. “Since the announcement we are still waiting for the release of the funds,” he said. Esgana said the government is expected to release a total of P12.2 billion for Yolanda victims in Cebu province. P860 million will go to Santa Fe. “Merong mga tulong through DSWD, yung mga nagbibigay ng materials. Pero other than relief goods dito na tayo ngayon sa shelter, may binibigay pero hindi enough. (There is help from the DSWD like the materials they distribute but other than relief goods, were are now seeking for shelter [assistance]. They are giving something but it’s not enough),” he said. Esgana said they have only received funds for the repair of the municipal building and public market. “You can say it has no sense at all. It cannot reach the people affected. Although it can help the economy what we are waiting is shelter assistance,” he said.*READ MORE AND WATCH VIDEO...
 


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Adobo, lechon for Pope Francis

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) POSTED SEPTEMBER 5 by ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ REPORTER - POPE Francis will get to taste two favorite Filipino dishes when he visits the Philippines in January next–chicken adobo and lechon.

Steve Tamayo, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Tamayo Catering Service and Restaurant, on Wednesday said he plans to serve the famous Filipino dishes and some Italian food to the pontiff.

He noted that the pope’s visit is a good chance for the country to introduce Filipino dishes to the international community.
“Of course yung walang kamatayang chicken adobo, maraming version yan e, talagang pinipilit namin na makapasok sa international [arena] yung Filipino food, baka mamaya ito na yung way [Of course, we’re serving him the ever-present chicken adobo, it has many versiosn, we really want Filipino food to make it to the international arena, we hope serving the pope our favorite dishes could start the journey],” Tamayo said.

“Of course Italian food . . . lechon di naman nawawala yan [lechon it’s always there],” he added.

Tamayo said some of his “priest friends” advised him to prepare the best food for the papal visit.

He, however, clarified that the final menu would depend on the decision of organizers of Francis’ visit.

“Sila ang mag-request kung ano ang pagkain [They will be the ones to make the request what dishes they want served],” Tamayo explained.

* For the past 17 years, Tamayo’s restaurant had been tapped to cater big events hosted by the Catholic Church in Manila.

The restaurateur said he has started renovating the Villa Immaculada where a huge number of devotees are expected to dine.

Thee pontiff will say a Mass at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.

A group of Vatican inspectors has also checked the integrity of the century-old cathedral.

The Pope is expected to also say a Mass at Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila.

Tamayo said he hopes to personally serve the Pope.

It was Tamayo’s restaurant that served the 28,000 delegates to the World of the Families in 2003. The restaurant also served food during the World Youth Day in 1995 when Pope John Paul 2nd visited the Philippines.

Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso recently said they will send five earthquake victims to Palo, Leyte, to dine with the pope.

Francis will fly to the Visayas to meet with victims of Typhoon Yolanda, which destroyed many parts of Leyte and a few other provinces in the Central Visayas region of the country in November 2013.

SPECIAL NEWS FROM FORTUNE MAGAZINE

This pope means business by Shawn Tully @FortuneMagazine AUGUST 14, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT


SNIPPET PHOTO: Pope Francis Photograph by Stefano Spaziani

The wildly popular Francis is more than a pontiff of the people. He’s an elite manager who’s reforming the Vatican’s troubled finances.

The new pope wanted to talk about money. That was the message that went out to a group of seven prominent financiers—major Catholics all—from around the world in the summer of 2013. Barely five months after the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis had summoned them to assemble at the seat of holy power, the Vatican.

They knew their general assignment: to create a plan to restructure the Vatican’s scandal-plagued finances. And like Catholics everywhere, they knew that Francis had already signaled that he was a new kind of pontiff, a “people’s pope” who championed charity and tolerance over dogma. Still, they didn’t know what to expect when they arrived at the Vatican for a meeting with the pope on the first Saturday in August. How interested was he in finance, really?

And how serious was he about changing business as usual inside the Vatican?

A major hint came from a change in tradition upon their arrival: The visitors didn’t report to the Apostolic Palace, the Renaissance showplace where for centuries past popes had received visitors in high style. Instead they entered Vatican City on the other side of the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square and took a 150-yard stroll through the hilly enclave to the new pope’s place of business—Casa Santa Marta, a five-story limestone guesthouse that could be mistaken for a newish hotel.

There they were ushered into a nondescript meeting room on the first floor with no paintings or religious ornaments and took their seats around a conference table. The members—including Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, ex-chief of asset-management giant Invesco in Europe; Jochen Messemer, a top executive at ERGO, a large German insurer; and George Yeo, former foreign minister of Singapore—chatted nervously as they waited.

After 15 minutes, Pope Francis entered the room—and got right down to business. Attired in a simple white cassock and plain metal cross, he took his place standing at the head of the table. With little preamble, he began outlining his strategic vision, in an approach described by one participant as “highly managerial.”

Speaking in fluent Italian and taking frequent pauses while a translator repeated his words in English, the pope explained to the group that for his spiritual message to be credible, the Vatican’s finances must be credible as well. After centuries of secrecy and intrigue, it was time to open the books to the faithful. Strict rules and protocols must be adopted to end the cycle of scandals that had plagued the Vatican in recent years.


Aerial view of St. Peter's square in Vatican. An aerial view of St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, a sovereign nation ruled by the Pope and located on 110 acres in the heart of Rome PHOTOGRAPH BY MASSIMO SESTINI/POLIZIA DI STATO—REUTERS

Francis declared that sound financial management was a pillar of his greatest mission: aiding the poor and underprivileged. That mission was endangered by volatile, unpredictable budgets that careened from modest surpluses to steep deficits.

* The Vatican’s inept practices had inhibited giving, he explained, and had to stop. “When the administration is fat, it’s unhealthy,” he said. Francis wanted a leaner, more efficient Vatican administration that would be solidly “self-sustaining.”

That, he said, would free up more money for his charities. “You are the experts,” the pope said, “and I trust you. Now I want solutions to these problems, and I want them as soon as possible.” With that, Francis left the group to figure out the details.

There was no ambiguity about the job ahead. “The Holy Father’s message was crystal clear: ‘Let us make money to go to the poor,’” recalls Joseph Zahra, chief of the panel, a pontifical commission known by its acronym, COSEA. Zahra, a former chairman of the Bank of Valletta, Malta’s largest bank, says of Francis: “In finances, he’s not a micromanager but an inspirational leader.”

As the spiritual shepherd of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Pope Francis, 77, has already done more in 18 months to energize the church and burnish its image than anyone has since the heyday of John Paul II in the mid-1980s.

What’s far less appreciated is his intense engagement—and astounding success—in overhauling the Vatican’s finances and pushing the adoption of modern practices it had resisted for decades. “The changes are massive,” says René Brülhart, chief of the AIF, the Vatican equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Now a clear game plan has been put in place, and we’re really part of the international community.”

The past 15 years have been a time of turmoil and decline for the church. It has suffered blow after blow to its image, from the pedophilia scandals that have plagued it for over a decade to the recent “Vatileaks” affair, in which Pope Benedict’s butler smuggled letters to the press that warned the pontiff of corruption and cronyism in the Vatican.

The church has often promoted issues that tended to divide Catholics more than unite them. And the backlash made Rome look defensive, as many bishops and cardinals viewed their role as defending Catholic doctrines against a hostile culture of secularism.

Before Francis’s arrival, attendance at mass was declining and the recruitment of priests and nuns had plateaued. The difficulties extended to fundraising. “The church was underperforming for years in raising money, and it started with the pedophilia scandals,” says Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, an organization that advises parishes and dioceses on financial management.

By contrast, Francis’s upbeat, quotable approach and emphasis on charity over doctrine have quickly made him perhaps the most talked-about and admired person on the planet. (Fortune named him No. 1 on its World’s Greatest Leaders list earlier this year.)

His famous “Who am I to judge?” declaration on homosexuality distanced him from Benedict’s severe criticism of gays. Francis could be called the first modern pope. His Twitter account, @Pontifex, boasts 4.3 million followers in nine languages. And his message is universally appealing: The paramount duty of the church and its faithful is to aid those in need.

Although it’s too early to make a definitive judgment, the “Francis effect” appears to be reversing the church’s fortunes. Mass attendance is surging in Italy, for instance. The Jesuits, Francis’s religious order, are seeing more inquiries about priestly vocations. And donations are on the rise at dioceses around the world.


Pope Francis kisses a child during his pastoral visit at the parish church " Santa Maria dell'Orazione" at Setteville di Guidonia neighborhood of Rome Francis, kissing an ailing child during a church visit in Rome
in March, is seen as a “people’s pope.” PHOTOGRAPH BY STEFANO RELLANDINI—REUTERS

What has been less appreciated by outsiders until now is the pope’s elite managerial skill set. Like a great CEO, he has the ability to set a strategic vision, then choose and motivate the right people to make it work. His rapid overhaul of the Vatican’s finances is both one of the most unusual case studies in the annals of business and one of
the more instructive.

Francis was elected with a mandate for reform. After Pope Benedict, on Feb. 28, 2013, became the first pontiff in six centuries to resign, the 115 cardinals who assembled to pick his successor held eight days of meetings, or “general congregations,” to discuss the priorities for the next pontiff.

Benedict had been considered a brilliant theologian, but he was no manager. Cardinal after cardinal expressed outrage over reports of the overpriced, no-bid contracts handed to officials’ friends in Italy and the criticism of the Vatican bank’s disclosure policies by the Italian government.

The feeling was that the next pope should be someone with the leadership skills to bring professional management to a clubby bureaucracy that was expert in blocking change.

As an outsider who had expressed contempt for the Vatican’s status as an insular “royal court,” Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires and a native of Argentina, was the overwhelming choice. Pope Francis—the first pontiff to take the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor—came in with a plan.

His central idea was revolutionary: Money matters are not a core competency of the clergy, as the record shows. So he began replacing the old guard of cardinals and bishops with lay experts who are now largely setting strategy, heading regulatory oversight, and running day-to-day operations.

Indeed, Francis has brought in some of the biggest brand names in the world of business. KPMG is implementing uniform, internationally accepted accounting standards to replace the Vatican’s previous crazy quilt of bookkeeping.

EY (the former Ernst & Young) is scrutinizing management of the Vatican’s stores, utilities, and other municipal services.

Deloitte & Touche now audits the accounts at the Vatican bank. And Spencer Stuart has recruited top management talent from around the globe. Heading the effort to restructure media operations, assisted by McKinsey & Co., is Lord Christopher Patten, a former head of the BBC and the last British governor of Hong Kong.

When Pope Francis puts a cardinal in charge of something, the choice is typically an outsider. His most important appointment so far, either lay or religious, is Cardinal George Pell, an Australian whom he recruited from the archdiocese of Sydney.

Pell now heads the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy, and Pope Francis has granted Pell power over finances that no official has remotely held before. He’s responsible for setting and enforcing all budgets and managing all investments. The son of a heavyweight boxer, Pell, 73, is an imposing figure who is short on niceties and brutally frank about the necessity to radically pare costs.


Jean-Baptise de Franssu (L), new president of Vatican Bank IOR, outgoing President Ernst Von Freyberg (R) and Cardinal George Pell at a news conference at the Vatican July 9, 2014. Cardinal George Pell (center), with new Vatican bank president Jean-Baptiste du Franssu (left) and outgoing president Ernst von Freyberg, is the pope’s chief of economic affairs. PHOTOGRAPH BY TONY GENTILE—REUTERS

Pope Francis has a complex but pragmatic view of money.

“Money is useful to carry out many things, for works to support humanity,” he has said. “But when your heart is attached to it, it destroys you.”

His humble lifestyle follows those precepts. He resides in a one-bedroom, second-floor suite in Casa Santa Marta overlooking the entrance. (Benedict, the former pope, lives nearby in a converted monastery called Mater Ecclesiae and occasionally sends Francis notes with feedback on his interviews.) Visitors say the pope’s lights go on at 4:30 a.m.

He’s frequently spotted in the buffet line, tray in hand, at the Santa Marta dining room, where the cuisine isn’t fancy—it offers a choice of two main courses for lunch and dinner, and features Italian specialties such as pasta con pomodoro and pollo arrosto. He takes no holidays, explaining that if the poor can’t take vacations, why should he?

The pontiff does not talk about balance sheets and cash flow. He leaves the numbers to the experts. His forte is leadership.

Like any good chief executive, he knows that the culture of an organization is established at the top. And he is always well prepared.

“He has five or six sources of information on every subject,” says Austen Ivereigh, author of a forthcoming biography of Francis, The Great Reformer. “It’s impossible to hoodwink him.”

By getting the views of many participants—both Vatican officials and lay advisers—in all of his reform initiatives, the pope quickly determines if his instructions are being implemented or blocked by the old guard. If he sees resistance from old-school directors, he’ll quickly make changes, as when he replaced the entire board of the AIF, the financial regulator.

One of his rules is that big donors and companies that do business with the church should get no special treatment.

Before he took charge in Buenos Aires, the archdiocese was a large shareholder in Argentine banks, and the banks regularly granted their ecclesiastical investor loans on easy terms. As cardinal, Francis denounced the arrangement as a blatant conflict of interest and sold all the archdiocese’s bank holdings. He also refused to attend fundraising dinners, usually regarded as one of a cardinal’s top jobs.

His aversion to catering to the wealthy didn’t stop with his ascension to the papacy. It’s a Vatican tradition that the Secretariat of State, which receives donations from the rich on the pontiff’s behalf, would reward big donors by arranging special audiences and masses with the pope. Pope Francis ended the practice.

Pope Francis is a strong believer in workers’ rights. But that view is highly nuanced. He has famously denounced the excesses of capitalism and firmly believes that the rich get too much from the market economy while regular workers often don’t receive enough.

In contrast to his readiness to ax high-ranking officials who block his agenda, he doesn’t believe in firing rank-and-file employees. But he despises waste and inefficiency, and he thinks the Vatican can run better with fewer employees.

The catholic church is highly decentralized financially. In terms of money, the Vatican basically stands on its own.

That’s a major reason its finances are far shakier and its wealth is much more modest than its image of sumptuous wealth.

The church is divided into three branches: the Vatican, the religious orders, and the dioceses.

Each maintains separate finances. In fact, the Vatican has no official claim on or access to the wealth of the two branches that it oversees. The members of the 296 religious orders and congregations are priests, nuns, and brothers who specialize in education (the Jesuits), missionary work (the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), and helping the poor (Franciscans).

Frequently, regional units within the orders control their own finances.

The dioceses are where the Catholic Church meets Main Street. The more than 2,800 dioceses, each headed by a bishop or an archbishop, supervise the networks of parishes from Lagos to Manila to Detroit where Catholics attend mass, get married, and send their children to the 95,000 elementary schools.

Each diocese is a separate corporation with its own investments and budgets, including the metropolitan archdioceses. The dioceses do send substantial amounts of money to the Vatican each year, but most of it is earmarked for either missionary work or the pope’s charitable giving. The funds sent to support the Vatican’s operations are important but account for around 4.5% of total revenues.

Since the church contributes only modestly to funding its operations, the Vatican must generate substantial income on its own and supplement that income with a steady flow of donations from the faithful.

The Vatican serves two functions. First, it is a fully sovereign, independent nation with its own laws, courts, stores, security force of gendarmes, and an “army” of 110 ceremonial Swiss guards.

Cloistered behind 40-foot stone walls in the heart of Rome, the Vatican is the smallest nation on the planet. It occupies just 110 acres—or one-eighth the size of Manhattan’s Central Park—and is home to just 837 citizens.

The Vatican has no legislature; the pope, the world’s last absolute monarch, can unilaterally announce new laws, create or eliminate departments, and hire and fire as he pleases. Any money the Vatican generates in excess of its expenses can be used at the discretion of its ruler, the pope.

The Vatican’s second and principal function is its role as the hierarchy of the church.

The pope heads a large bureaucracy called the curia, which exercises a wide range of power and provides advice and assistance to the church at large.

The curia’s most powerful bodies are nine congregations, each headed by a cardinal, that resemble the U.S. government’s cabinet departments. One congregation, for instance, appoints the world’s almost 3,000 bishops. Another does the detective work needed to name new saints.

THE CHURCH’S THREE PILLARS

Through the pope the Vatican establishes and enforces doctrine for all parts of the Catholic Church. But the other branches—the dioceses and religious orders—are financially independent. Each contributes money to the Vatican’s budget.

For financial purposes, the Vatican operates two quasi-independent entities, one for each of its two functions: operating as a nation and serving as the sprawling staff that supports the pope.

The city state, or governorate, operates the Vatican’s commercial services. It resembles a medium-size municipal government. The city state has excellent sources of revenue. It garners about $130 million a year, and rising, from the thriving Vatican museums, home of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. And each year tourists purchase around 2.2 million euro-denominated collector coins at its gift shops.

Last year the city state spent around $332 million and collected $377 million, for a “profit” of $45 million. It posts substantial surpluses most years.

But that money usually isn’t available to fund the struggling part of the Vatican. The governorate frequently uses its excess cash to bolster the underfunded pension plan and needs to accumulate reserves to expand the museum and refurbish buildings.

The problem resides in the curia, officially known as the Holy See.

The Holy See consists of many sections that spend heavily but offer little or no income. Vatican Radio, which broadcasts the pope’s readings and masses, as well as the Vatican’s news, has 330 employees and spends $37 million a year yet collects less than $1 million in advertising.

Its deficit is so deep that the city state now covers half the shortfall. Operating the embassies, called apostolic nunciatures, in 113 nations runs over $30 million.

Almost two-thirds of the Holy See’s budget goes to paying salaries, benefits, and pensions for its 2,886 employees.
(Including the city state, the Vatican has a workforce of 4,822.)

The Vatican pays relatively low wages but offers generous health and retirement benefits. Cardinals and bishops at the congregations and councils often toil for as little as $46,000 a year, though their housing is heavily subsidized. The rank and file, including nuns and priests, are also paid below market, but make it up in benefits.

The average salary for lower- to mid-level workers is around $28,000 a year. That’s about 25% less than the $37,800 average for Italian workers with similar private sector jobs. But keep in mind that Vatican employees pay no income taxes. Today around three-quarters of the Vatican’s employees are lay workers, vs. less than half 25 years ago.

Vatican lay employees have jobs for life, and virtually no one leaves before retirement age.

For 2013 the Holy See posted revenues of $315 million and expenses of $348 million, for a $33 million deficit. Since 2007 the total shortfalls have totaled $56 million.

Those figures actually understate the size of the Holy See’s financial problems. The current spending number is due to rise sharply for a pressing need: taming big pension liabilities. It’s a problem the Vatican shares with virtually every Western economy. The Vatican inaugurated a generous defined-benefit pension plan in the early 1960s but didn’t have an actual pension fund until three decades later.

THE VATICAN’S ASSETS


Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco by Michelangelo. The Creation of Adam. The Vatican. Partial view of the Sistine Chapel fresco by Michelangelo. PHOTOGRAPH BY STEFANO RELLANDINI—REUTERS

The Vatican is often assumed to possess great wealth, but if it were a company, its revenue wouldn’t come close to making Fortune 500.

Its total operating budget is about $700 million. in 2013 it posted a small overall surplus of $11.5 million.

The Vatican’s most valuable assets—some of the world’s great art treasures—are virtually priceless and not for sale. A breakdown of major holdings:

-Investments: Portfolio of stocks, bonds, and gold worth $920 million.
-Real estate: Holdings have an estimated value of $1.35 billion, including some 2,000 apartments, mostly in Rome.
-Vatican Bank: Book value of $972 million.
-Art collection: Worth untold billions. The Vatican’s museum brings in $130 million a year in revenue. Treasures include the Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo (above); “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness,” a painting by Leonardo da Vinci; “Deposition From the Cross,” a painting by Caravaggio; a letter from Marie Antoinette en route to the guillotine; and the papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther.

The pope’s strategy for addressing both spending and pension issues is to gradually shrink the Vatican workforce through attrition and raise more money to maintain the benefits.

In February of 2014 he imposed a hiring freeze and also stopped formerly generous overtime payments. The plan is to move existing employees from overstaffed congregations to growth areas, such as financial management, without replacing those who depart.

The Vatican’s pension plan guarantees retirees 80% of their final salaries after 40 years of service, and as noted, few employees leave before retirement. That’s a big premium over the “replacement rate” in Italy of around 72%.

But Pope Francis is explicit about providing better pensions than those in Italy. The challenge is filling the huge shortfall in the pension fund. The Vatican is guaranteeing some 1,750 retirees—plus current workers who have paid into the fixed-benefit plan for years—big pensions for decades to come. Right now those future payments far exceed the amount the current fund can possibly generate in income.

According to a Vatican insider, the pension fund is short by “a few hundred million dollars.”

The Vatican has been making minimal contributions to the fund for years, and employees kick in just 6% of their salaries.

Cardinal Pell says that retirement benefits are safe for now but that the Vatican needs to heavily restock its pension reserves in the years to come. The Vatican could be obligated to contribute another $30 million or $40 million a year for a decade or more to build a fund large enough to pay future pensions from its investment returns.

The other major problem facing the Holy See is that its revenues from investments—almost half of its total—are unpredictable, and returns are far lower than they should be.

The Holy See does own one reliable source of profits, the Vatican bank, or IOR. The IOR (for, in Italian, Institute for Religious Works) regularly provides around $70 million toward operating revenues.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the Vatican’s finances is the extremely modest size of its portfolio of stocks, bonds, and real estate.

The seed money for the Vatican’s investments came from a $92 million settlement the Italian government provided in 1929, in compensation for its confiscation of the Papal States, covering much of central Italy, 60 years earlier.

Today the Vatican holds some $920 million in stocks, bonds, and gold. Its gold reserves, on deposit at the U.S. Federal Reserve, now amount to just $50 million.

The Vatican usually earns between $15 million and $25 million on its holdings, much of it stashed in money-market accounts and short-term government bonds. It also generates low returns on its extensive holdings of real estate, valued on the books at around $1.35 billion. Its principal holding consists of some 2,000 apartments, which are mostly in excellent locations in Rome, including the historic districts surrounding the Vatican and the bohemian-chic neighborhood of Trastevere.

Most of the units, however, are rented to bishops, priests, and lay employees who pay minimal rent. For example, a prominent cardinal and other clergy pay token rent on a building with some 20 apartments on the tony Via Carducci. It would generate over $1 million a year on the open market. Over the past several years the real estate portfolio has returned an average of about $33 million a year.

Catholic foundations around the world actually pay a larger share of the Vatican’s operating budget than do its investments in real estate and securities.

This giving is a crucial, unreported bulwark of the Vatican’s finances. Last year, by Fortune’s estimate, foundations donated more than $85 million toward the Holy See.

The bounty comes from dozens upon dozens of charities, most of which pledge relatively small amounts. For example, the Legatus organization, a group of prominent Catholic business executives, pledges 10% of its annual dues to the pope, amounting to $500,000 a year.

To turn the vatican into a consistent profitmaker, the new regime is counting on two institutions with the potential for big growth in earnings: the museums and the Vatican bank. “Those are the two main income sources for the future,” says Zahra, the Maltese adviser to the Vatican.

The museums are the only branch of the Vatican run like a true business. This year the museum is on track to host 5.5 million visitors, or three times the figure 30 years ago. It now ranks as the world’s fifth-most-visited museum, behind only the likes of the Louvre and the British Museum. Traffic this year has risen by 1 million visitors from 2013, largely because of the Francis effect.

The Vatican museum famously boasts one of the world’s greatest collections, from its frescoes by Raphael to da Vinci’s painting “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness” to the ultimate trophy attraction, the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Pell and the reformers want the Vatican to exploit its hidden treasures for additional profit. The goal is to use promotional campaigns and new exhibitions to push museum revenues far above the current $130 million a year.

The Vatican bank is also a potential growth franchise. The IOR resembles a holy savings and loan. The basic purpose of the IOR is simple, and essential. The wealthy dioceses, religious orders, and Catholic charities collect huge sums each year destined for the developing world and deposit the funds in the Vatican bank. That money frequently comes in cash.

The Vatican bank wires the funds to all corners of the developing world to build churches and schools, run hospitals, and pay priests and nuns. It’s also the everyday bank for Vatican employees. It has a single branch with eight teller desks, situated in a medieval Gothic prison built by Pope Nicholas V. Its ATMs, all in Vatican City, provide instructions in Latin.

The bank’s basic business is highly profitable. Last year the IOR paid around 1% interest on its $3.1 billion in deposits and invested that money in government bonds at over 3.3%. That model generated “spread income” of over $70 million.

Despite its simple mission, the Vatican bank has in the past found itself ensnared in scandal. Perhaps the most decisive transformation under Pope Francis is the remaking of the IOR from a near wreck to the useful institution it should be. Today it is central to the Vatican’s plans for financial growth.

The Vatican bank’s recent troubles started in 2009. As an “offshore bank” outside the European Union, the IOR had no rules or protocols for combating money laundering. The Vatican was already using the euro but couldn’t sell large quantities of its own euro collectors’ coins, a potential source of revenue.

So that year the Vatican signed a special monetary agreement with the EU that allowed it to offer those special coins in its gift shops. In return the Vatican agreed to follow the EU’s strict policies on money laundering and financing of terrorism.

But the Vatican bank management was unprepared and unwilling to make the changes necessary to comply. Under Italian law, the IOR was not required to notify authorities of the identity of clients who transferred money to accounts in Italy. The system was ripe for abuse, and abused it was.

When the authorities asked IOR officials to identify senders of money, the typical response was, “Our laws don’t require us to tell you.” The old guard in the bank adamantly opposed lifting the veil. But the Bank of Italy started pressuring correspondent banks in Italy to cease dealing with the IOR.

In March 2012, J.P. Morgan Chase cut off business with the Vatican bank in Italy, and then worldwide. Nine months later the Bank of Italy declared that the IOR was failing to comply with international anti-money-laundering laws
and forced all banks in Italy to close their IOR accounts.

By early 2013 the IOR was on the verge of collapse.

Francis empowered two key officials to clean up the mess. The first was Brülhart, the head of the AIF. A Swiss lawyer who had previously headed an anti-money-laundering initiative in Liechtenstein, Brülhart is an uncommonly glamorous figure in the Vatican hierarchy. Nicknamed “the Vatican’s James Bond,” Brülhart, 42, sports a perfectly groomed black-stubble beard and beautifully tailored three-piece suits. Brülhart’s group, the AIF, was charged with both monitoring the IOR for suspicious transactions and making the Vatican comply with all EU and other multinational regulations.

Brülhart at first faced stiff resistance from the powerful Secretariat of State. The secretariat had the authority to veto any agreement for exchanging information with a foreign government. Those covenants were crucial to Brülhart’s efforts. Last December, Francis canceled that authority, giving Brülhart free rein. Then, in June, the pope fired and replaced the AIF’s entire board.

The second key reformer was Ernst von Freyberg, who was named head of the IOR in its darkest days in early 2013 by Pope Benedict—and started the day the pope officially resigned. Von Freyberg hired Promontory Financial Group, a compliance and auditing firm based in Washington, D.C., to review every one of the bank’s then 19,000 accounts.

He ended up shuttering 755 accounts held by outsiders, containing over $250 million. He also published two extremely thorough annual reports, the first publicly released financial statements in the IOR’s history. Von Freyberg resigned in July to return to his family shipping business, but his achievements are respected by bankers worldwide.

Cardinal Pell has original ideas on how the IOR can generate more revenue.

And get this: The Vatican is now in the institutional money-management business. With the pope’s blessing, Pell is gathering all Vatican investments into a newly created unit called Vatican Asset Management, or VAM. It’s headed by de Franssu, the former mutual fund executive whom Francis has named to head the IOR.

Pell and de Franssu figure that dioceses and religious orders, especially in poor countries, sorely need professional money management and will relish entrusting their nest eggs to VAM.

The plan is for VAM to distinguish itself as a specialist in so-called ethical investing, which will align with the church’s values and those of its clients. As VAM gathers in billions in assets to manage, it should throw off millions in annual fees. “The future of the IOR is asset management,” declares Pell.

Pell meets with Pope Francis once every two weeks at Casa Santa Marta to brief him on the progress being made by their handpicked team of financial experts.

He describes the pope as a good example of the “old-style Jesuit” who “knows which way is up” and asks the right questions. To serve his higher calling as a pope of the people, Francis knows, he must continue to keep one eye on the bottom line. Additional reporting by Anna Artymiak This story is from the September 1, 2014 issue of Fortune.

FROM PHILSTAR

500-year-old Jesus veil arriving in Phl By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 7, 2014 - 12:00am 15 320 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - A sacred relic called “The Holy Face of Jesus from Manoppello,” a piece of cloth reportedly bearing the imprint of the face of Christ, will visit the country from Sept. 10 to 17.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the relic, a veil called sudarium customarily used by Jews to cover the face of their dead at burial, will be seen by the public in various places in Metro Manila starting Wednesday.

The Veil of Manoppello measures 7 x10 inches and has been in the custody of the Capuchin Friary in Abruzzo, near Rome for 500 years.

On Wednesday, the veil could be seen at Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati during mass at 6 p.m.

On Sept. 11, the veil will join the Marian pilgrimage activities at Lipa, Batangas from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be transferred to the Montemaria Shrine at Batangas City for the evening mass.

On Sept. 12, the veil will return to Lipa to join the Marian pilgrimage from 5 to 7 p.m.

On Sept. 13, the image will arrive at the EDSA Shrine at 9:30 a.m. for a noon mass. At 3 p.m., it will leave for the Holy Face of Jesus Chapel on Hidalgo Street in Quiapo, where Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, will deliver a short talk followed by mass.

On Sept. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Holy Face of Jesus will be at the National Sacred Heart Shrine, 4 Sacred Heart Street corner Kamagong, Makati, where mass will be held at 10:30 a.m.

On Sept. 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be a mass and vigil at the Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned on Pedro Gil in Sta. Ana, Manila.

At 3:30 p.m., a vigil will be held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at Plaza Rizal, Malinao, Pasig City.

On Sept. 16, the veil will be at the Immaculate Conception Parish Church at Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Sept.17 at 6:15 a.m., there will be a farewell mass at Santuario de San Antonio in Makati.

Maguindanao under state of calamity as floods ravage towns By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated September 5, 2014 - 3:38pm 5 11 googleplus0 0


Employees of the office of Maguindanao's provincial governor in Buluan town prepare an initial shipment of rice ration for flooded towns in the province. John Unson

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – The provincial board on Friday declared Maguindanao under state of calamity as floodwaters spawned by incessant rains since last week continued spreading through farming enclaves in low-lying areas.

Lawyer Bobby Katambak, a senior member of the provincial board, said he and his colleagues voted unanimously for the approval of the resolution declaring the province under state of calamity.

The resolution, covering 26 of the 36 towns in the province, will hasten the release of funds for relief works in the flooded areas.

Most of the 26 towns are traversed by waterways and dotted with swamps connecting to the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, a geographical catch basin for dozens of rivers that spring from forested hinterlands in North Cotabato, Bukidnon Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.

In a statement Friday, the Maguindanao Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the floods affected 30,560 families or a total of 150,476 persons.

Katambak said the office of Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu has been providing the flood victims with food rations since Monday.

“I am thanking the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for acting promptly on the need to declare the flooded towns in Maguindanao under state of calamity,” Mangudadatu told The Star while supervising the repacking of five tons of relief supplies at his office in Buluan town.

A 4-year-old ethnic Teduray, Ranin Toniakao perished last weekend when a landslide hit their shanty beside a hill in Blensong District in North Upi, Maguindanao following two days of heavy downpours

Toniakao’s twin sister, Reina Mae, is still recuperating from a fractured left leg at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City.

The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao donated P10,000 for the child’s medication.

* The HEART and the office of North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang helped facilitate the burial of Toniakao, who was buried alive when rocks and mud, loosened by rains, cascaded from a nearby hill and covered their house made only of bamboos and coconut palms.

Lawyer Kirby Abdullah, ARMM’s assistant secretary for Maguindanao cabinet convergence, said he managed to collect more than P20,000-worth of cash donations from regional officials for the construction of a low-cost core shelter for the Toniakao family.

Piang promised to provide carpenters and augment the amount collected by Abdullah, who is helping ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman oversee the operations of the HEART.

Provincial relief workers, led by Mangudadatu’s budget staff, Lynette Estandarte, will deliver more relief supplies to the flooded towns starting Saturday.

Mangudadatu said he will also mobilize a medical team to help attend to the needs of the flood victims.

Indian Commander of UN Peacekeeping Force: Filipinos' defiance unprofessional (philstar.com) | Updated September 4, 2014 - 2:43pm 61 473 googleplus4 1


UNDOF commander Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha inspects the Irish contingent in this March 2014 photo. Irish Defense Forces

MANILA, Philippines — The Indian commander of the United Nations' (UN) peacekeeping force broke his silence on the Philippine military's accusations that he misguidedly ordered besieged Filipino troops to surrender their arms to rebels in Golan Heights over the weekend.

In an interview with a Noida-based newspaper, UN Disengagement Observer Force Commander Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha criticized the defiance of the 40 trapped Filipino peacekeepers as "non-professional."

Singha said the Filipinos' resistance further compromised the situation of the Fijian peacekeepers earlier abducted by the Syrian rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda.

"The non-professional actions of the Filipino troops have endangered the lives of the Fijian soldiers," Singha told the India Times in a report published Thursday (Manila time).

"They have defied orders at a time when we had negotiated a ceasefire with the rebels to ensure that all troops in the conflict area could exit," he added.

The military leader's statement coincided with the UN's denial that the order was issued. The organization said, however, that it backs Singha's decisions during the siege and commended him for sending a quick reaction force to extract trapped men.

* Singha, meanwhile, called what the Armed Forces of the Philippines dubbed the "greatest escape" of 40 troops from Position 68 nothing but an "act of cowardice."

"The higher UN echelon as well as the Indian Army agrees with me that the decision was correct. It is an act of cowardice to desert posts especially when a delicate ceasefire was in place," he said.

He also insisted that the troops broke the chain of command and overstepped the UN leadership's authority when their safety and the release of the hostages were still being negotiated for.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday called on "countries with influence" to press the insurgents to release the peacekeepers from Fiji abducted last week.

The council also welcomed the news that all Filipinos were safe and commended the UN peacekeeping mission's quick reaction force for extracting them to safety.

Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier called for an investigation on Singha for ordering members of the Philippine contingent to surrender their weapons to the rebel fighters.


In this photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office, Philippine Military Chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang, center, reacts after learning about the safe repositioning of Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights as they monitor the situation with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, second left, Philippine National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, third from left seated, at Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. AP

"Gen. Singha ordered no military operations. So, it's still to be investigated, why the order of Gen. Singha was, there will be no reinforcement. Because he was already there, we were monitoring him. And then all of a sudden, he changed his mind," Catapang said. - Camille Diola with reports AP

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Traffic to cost P6B a day by 2030 – JICA study by Roy Mabasa September 5, 2014 (updated) Share this:

The cost of traffic in Metro Manila will likely increase to P6 billion a day – from P2.4 billion today – if there is no intervention by 2030, says a transport study which cites strategies to reduce traffic congestion.

The study is named “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Surrounding Areas,” and it was conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in close coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and other relevant agencies.

Its strategies aim to reduce traffic congestion significantly before it impacts the lower-income group who will be hardest hit when congestion worsens by 2030.

20% OF MONTHLY INCOME

The average low-income group households have to spend no less than 20 percent of their monthly household income for transport, the study showed. In 2030, the same low-income households will have to allocate more of their income because transport cost will be 2.5 times higher, the study said. Without intervention, that will be the result of a traffic demand that will likely increase by 13 percent.

‘DREAM PLAN’

The JICA study presents a “Dream Plan” to have a modern, affordable, and a well-coordinated and integrated transport system for Mega Manila by 2030. To achieve that, there is a need to establish better north-south connectivity and appropriate hierarchy of different transportation modes such as roads, railways, and other mass transits.

The roadmap study looks at the development of an integrated public transport system that will go hand in hand with planned urban expansion to adjoining provinces, affordable housing for low-income groups, and retrofitting of existing urban areas in integration with public transport.

In Metro Manila, there will be a need to expand the multi-modal public transport network and strengthen traffic management systems.

INTELLIGENT TRANSPORT SYSTEM

* One of the innovations proposed in the study is the implementation of an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) to maximize the city’s existing road capacity.

ITS includes better traffic engineering and management that requires geometric improvements, pedestrian facilities, traffic surveillance, accident prevention, traffic safety education, and traffic enforcement.

As discussed in the study, the ITS will include a signal control system, travel time prediction, road maintenance, intelligent parking, incident detection, and bus scheduling assistance among others.

By putting modern technology and discipline into traffic management, the JICA study said the Philippines can make better use of available infrastructure.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

Aside from traffic management, the roadmap also cites spreading economic activities to other potential growth areas as one of the strategies to prevent traffic congestion.

The JICA study said that spreading economic activities will include balancing development of agriculture, manufacturing, and services, protecting prime agricultural areas for food security, avoiding urban sprawl in hazard risk areas, promoting growth of regional centers, strengthening connectivity, and improving public transport services, and logistics.

LOWER TRANSPORT COST

In terms of social impact, the JICA study said that with interventions, it is likely that the average transport fare of P42 by a commuter today will be reduced to P24 due to improved connectivity and common fare.

Travel time is also likely to be reduced from 80 minutes per trip to 31 minutes.

PRO-POOR INVESTMENT

“Efficient public transport system is a pro-poor investment as it provides reasonable ways of moving. As well, it enables people to commute from suburban areas where one can afford housing in a more spacious and safer area,” JICA Philippines Senior Representative Eigo Azukizawa said.

“By alleviating traffic, the Philippines can have more space for dynamic business and investment growth, and encourage economic activities in other areas outside Metro Manila in a sustainable way,” he added.

Azukizawa said JICA hopes to work with the government in implementing some of the ideas presented in the study to help improve mobility, and the quality of life of people in Metro Manila, and its surrounding areas.

The study has already been approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Benigno Aquino III.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

‘NLEX parking lot’ forces some commuters to walk on highway September 5, 2014 9:55pm 10 34 0 46


Heavy traffic on NLEX forces commuters to walk Heavy traffic on NLEX forces commuters to walk . Early morning traffic on NLEX forces commuters to walk toward the Balintawak area in Quezon City on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. In a post on its Twitter account, NLEX administration said the tail end of the traffic, caused by the one-truck lane policy, has reached the Valenzuela Interchange southbound. Ruston Banal Jr.

A stretch of the North Luzon Expressway's Manila-bound part was turned into a giant parking lot on Friday as large trucks entering Metro Manila had to fit into just one lane upon entering northern Metro Manila.

Traffic slowed to a crawl as truck drivers sought to comply with the policy of northern Metro Manila cities like Caloocan allowing only one lane for trucks.

Because of the resulting traffic, motorists were infuriated and many commuters were forced to get out of their vehicles and walk, GMA News' Susan Enriquez reported on "24 Oras."

Worse, the report said there does not appear to be any immediate solution to the problem at this time.

Friday's vehicle queue stretched up to five kilometers between Meycauayan in Bulacan and A. Bonifacio in Caloocan.

As of 7:10 p.m., the NLEX website indicated heavy traffic at the Manila-bound parts of NLEX at Valenzuela and Balintawak.

Blame game

* The North Luzon Expressway initially said the traffic was due to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's one-truck lane policy, but the MMDA belied this.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the traffic along A. Bonifacio was due to the long queue of container trucks going to the Philippine Ports Authority premises in Manila.

"The processing time for the container trucks to enter the port leaves too much to be desired. And that is the reason why these trucks ended up lining A. Bonifacio and has resulted to severe traffic congestion going to NLEX. The A. Bonifacio has reached its full capacity stretching all the way to NLEX. The public should understand that the problem is within the jurisdiction of the PPA, it is internal," he said.

Besides, he said the MMDA's one-truck lane policy is implemented along C-5 Road only.

On the other hand, the MMDA's advisory since Friday morning to those coming from NLEX to take the Mindanao Exit appeared useless to motorists.

"Galing ako Mindanao Avenue, ikot-ikot ako papunta lang Balintawak," said one motorist.

The "24 Oras" report said government agencies have yet to announce an agreement that would address the traffic woe. — Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Kidnapping on the rise By Francisco Tuyay, Joyce Pangco Pañares | Sep. 05, 2014 at 12:01am 19

Watchdog says targets include Chinoys, doctors

THERE has been a resurgence of kidnapping this year with 33 cases so far, involving 50 victims, the anti-crime group Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) said Thursday.

Of the 50 kidnapping victims, 17 were Filipino-Chinese, including Benito Chao, 69, who was killed after his family sought police assistance, said the group’s founding chairwoman, Teresita Ang See.

In custody. Four suspects in the killing of Inspector Roderick Medrano were presented by the Quezon City Police Chief Richard Albano at a press conference on Thursday. All are from Commonwealth village in Quezon City. Manny Palmero She added that most of the incidents were in Luzon and Mindanao.

Chao was the only fatality so far this year, Ang See said. Of the 50 victims, 29 were freed and one escaped. Only three were rescued.

“In many instances, victims and their families are afraid and reluctant to go to the police. Our task is to encourage them to do so, and to pursue their cases to the rightful conclusions,” said MRPO chairman Ka Kuen Chua.

MRPO said kidnappings had dropped from a high of 113 in 2009 to only 41 incidents in 2012, but climbed again in 2013 to 46 cases.

Ang-See said the kidnappers were becoming bolder, carrying out their crimes in places they used to avoid. For example, she said, kidnappers used to avoid Manila because the heavy traffic made it difficult to escape.

But this year, three kidnapping cases have already been recorded in Manila – in Sta. Mesa, Divisoria and Binondo.

“The kidnappers have sufficient confidence that they can get away with it,” Ang-See added.

Aside from Filipino-Chinese, the kidnappers are also targeting doctors as victims, she said.

The MRPO report contradicted a recent police claim that the crime rate in Metro Manila has gone down in recent months.

Earlier this week, police said a photo posted on Twitter showing four men aiming guns at a Toyota Fortuner on EDSA was a kidnapping, and that they were trying to identify the gunmen.

Witnesses said the incident took place at about 2 p.m. Monday in a main thoroughfare through which 1.3 million vehicles pass daily.

The Palace ordered the Philippine National Police to beef up its intelligence gathering and surveillance operations after kidnap-for-ransom cases rose to 38 this from January to August this year, up by 22 percent from last year for the same period.

“The PNP must intensify their intelligence and surveillance efforts since some of the KFR groups are associated with other criminal syndicates and they have information on the movements of these syndicates,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

Coloma said based on PNP data, the number of kidnapping cases rose “slightly” to 38 as of last August from 31 cases for the same period last year.

* Earlier, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II proposed a “one-target, one-team” policy to solve the 19 abduction cases in Luzon, including the kidnapping and murder of businessman Benito Chao last week.

“The PNP will reorient itself in order to respond to this,” Roxas said in a recent forum organized by the MRPO.

“One target, one team. They won’t do anything else but that. Every day that is the only thing they’ll talk about. They won’t be all over the place,” Roxas added.

Umbrella factory owner Chao was kidnapped on Aug. 27. He was found dead the next day with a bullet to his head.

Ang-See said 140 people had been killed because of kidnapping since the organization was put up in 1993.

At present, only 60 cases have resulted in convictions, she said.

Despite the resurgence in kidnappings, the Palace said the Philippines is a safe place.

“The President can face the world with a clear view that the Philippines is safe for investors, [and]... safe for its citizens. “There is no need to paint a disturbing picture because the situation is stable.”

But administration ally Senator Francis Escudero deplored the spate of kidnappings that were happening “under the noses of [the] police authorities.”

“Why are criminals so emboldened nowadays to perpetrate their crimes in public?” he asked.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said this is an indication of the criminals’ contempt for law and order and a clear mockery of the police.

“I ask the PNP to intensify its campaign against criminals and beef up security to protect the public. The people need to be assured that they can walk our streets to and from their homes,” he said. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta

Bantayan Island still not getting enough help from national government By Frances Mangosing |INQUIRER.net9:43 am | Sunday, September 7th, 2014


BANTAYAN ISLAND, Philippines—Ten months after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) plowed through Central and Eastern Visayas, victims in the town of Santa Fe are still not getting enough help from the national government.

“We are still waiting for the assistance especially emergency shelter coming from the [Department of Social Welfare and Development] and other agencies that will be providing. We are still waiting for calamity funds. For the meantime there are donors from the non-government agencies that are able to give temporary shelter,” Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana said early this month.

Yolanda made its fourth landfall in Bantayan when it struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013. Although there were no casualties in this town, 95 percent of the population was affected.

For Esgana, the national government seemed to have forgotten about them.

“Nabuhay lang ang lugar namin nung inannounce during the [State of the Nation Address] ni [President Benigno Aquino III] na approved na niya [ang rehabilitation plan]. (Our place was only remembered again when Aquino made an announcement during the SONA [about the rehabilitation plan],” he said.

He was referring to Aquino’s statement during his SONA speech in July, which said the local government unit rehabilitation and recovery plan for Yolanda-stricken areas has already been signed.

“Since the announcement we are still waiting for the release of the funds,” he said.

Esgana said the government is expected to release a total of P12.2 billion for Yolanda victims in Cebu province. P860 million will go to Santa Fe.

“Merong mga tulong through DSWD, yung mga nagbibigay ng materials. Pero other than relief goods dito na tayo ngayon sa shelter, may binibigay pero hindi enough. (There is help from the DSWD like the materials they distribute but other than relief goods, were are now seeking for shelter [assistance]. They are giving something but it’s not enough),” he said.

Esgana said they have only received funds for the repair of the municipal building and public market.

“You can say it has no sense at all. It cannot reach the people affected. Although it can help the economy what we are waiting is shelter assistance,” he said.

* The mayor claimed that about 30 to 40 percent of the 30,000 population are still living in tents.

“Tents are supposed to be only good for six months and now it’s the tenth month. It’s very sad that we still see tents,” he said.

He also expressed worry that some residents in 40-meter-no-build-zones by the sea continued to rebuild their homes there.

“Hanggang ngayon andun sila. Na-repair nila [ang mga bahay]. Ayaw na namin sila magtayo doon pero no choice kami payagan sila kasi in their own effort nagtayo sila. Di rin sila makapagpatayo ng konkretrong bahay (Up to now they are still there. They repaired their houses. Although we do not want them to rebuild their homes there we have no choice but to let them because they fixed their houses on their own efforts. But they cannot build concrete houses),” he said.

Esgana admitted that most of the help after Yolanda came from the non-government organizations and international communities. For instance, Prudence Foundation, the charitable arm of British insurer Pru Like UK, is in the process of constructing 135 houses that can withstand magnitude 8 earthquake and winds of up to 275 kilometers per hour. They also provided livelihood by donating 183 motor boats with fishnets and 140 pedicabs.

“Di naman ako oposisyon [pero] masasabi ko rin na kung ang tulong iaasa sa international communities or NGOs di magandang pakinggan. Mabuti pa yung ibang tao na hindi gobyerno. (I’m not part of the opposition but if we rely on the help of international communities or NGOs, it doesn’t sound good — that we get more help from people that are not part of the government),” Esgana said.

He said he has not lost hope in the government and he is still “101 percent” expecting for assistance from the government to come.

“Our appeal to national government ay wag sana paabutin ng matagal [ang tulong]. Di naman masama maghintay. In Santa Fe, nabalitaan siguro natin na nagka sinkhole in one of the islet. Sila din victims ng Yolanda. Nakatira pa rin sila sa tents (Our appeal to the national government is they don’t take too long [to help us]. It’s not wrong to wait. But you may have heard that in one of our islets in Santa Fe has sinkholes. Those living there are also Yolanda victims and up to now they are still living in tents),” he said.

Beach resorts recovering

Meanwhile, beach resorts in Santa Fehave are built continuously to attract tourists. The town is also the port of entry to Bantayan Island.

“Sa awa ng Diyos in more than 30 resorts dito madami ng naka-recover. More than 70 percent na. (Thank God, in about 30 percents of resorts, 70 percent have already recovered),” Esgana said.

“We want to thank the Department of Trade and Industry for providing rehabilitation financing program which allowed the owners to rebuild their resorts,” he added.


MORE YOLANDA AID NEEDED IN SANTA FE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiaPRVaIouI


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE