POPEMOBILE WON'T BE BULLETPROOF, SAYS TAGLE 

PHOTO: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. --The vehicle which Pope Francis will ride during his three-day visit to the Philippines next year will not be enclosed in bulletproof glass unlike the one used by Pope John Paul II in Manila in 1995, according to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. “Even in the Vatican since (his election), Pope Francis has not been using the bulletproof Popemobile,” Tagle told reporters.

He noted that the bulletproof vehicle was used by Pope John Pall II in Manila during the 1995 World Youth Day because there was a threat to his life. Tagle said the Pope’s visit would be the same as his visit to Korea when he ditched the Popemobile for a small Korean-made car. But the Manila archbishop said the Pope’s vehicle would have a roof in case of a heavy downpour. Pope Francis has likened the traditional bulletproof Popemobile to a “sardine can” that creates a wall separating him from the people. Since he assumed the papacy, he has been riding the open-topped vehicle during his tours through St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19 next year as confirmed by the officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. But Tagle said he and members of the committees organizing Pope Francis’ visit will fly to the Vatican City on Sept. 21 to arrange the visit. “By November, we might have the details of his visit,” Tagle said. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Chasing the Filipino dream   

PHOTO: Founders Laurence Defontaines, Vicki Cabrera and Leslie Espinosa cut the ceremonial ribbon during the opening of School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development. In a sense, Leslie Espinosa was living the American dream. As a hairstylist and makeup artist for film and theater, her job took her from San Diego to Los Angeles, and finally to New York City, where she worked on popular Broadway shows.

Nevertheless, the death of her father following a long battle with cancer shook Leslie’s world, leaving her with a large void in her life that she somehow needed to fill. “I didn’t know what it was, but all I knew was that I needed to go to the Philippines,” she explained. Born and raised in America to Filipino parents, Leslie knew in her heart that she needed to get reconnected to her Asian roots. Leslie decided to take up a volunteer teaching program in the Philippines and ended up exchanging New York City for Quezon City or, to be more precise, a public school in the district of Balintawak: “The area itself was dirty, smelly, dark and unsafe. I was soon hospitalized because of dengue fever, but even then I did not want to leave this country, because I was here to discover myself.”

Leslie’s sense of vocation was aroused by the immense poverty that she had encountered since she arrived, with a growing conviction that she needed to do something about it. She visited the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, a hub for local and international social entrepreneurs who have committed themselves to creating wealth in a way that leaves no one behind. “This was the place I needed to be, because I sensed I could make a real impact here.”

Now, less than a year later, Leslie calls the Enchanted Farm home and is one of the co-founders of SEED Philippines – the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development – a countryside college for social entrepreneurs. *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Sierra Madre hero-makers gave haven to abuse victims

TANAY, Rizal—During an outreach in the Sierra Madre highlands, Boots Asanza met a Dumagat who was struggling to say his name. The voice of the Dumagat had been taken away from them, she thought. “[F]or four hours, we waited for him to introduce himself so he could recover his voice,” Asanza said. Asanza, together with her husband, Joseph, put up an alternative school in Tanay town, Rizal province, in 1995 to train health workers and then send them to tribal villages in the Sierra Madre mountains. Tanay has 20 villages, half of them located in the highlands inhabited by Dumagat.

For their humility about their work, the Asanzas were nominated by Lt. Gen. Loven Abadia, former chief of the Philippine Air Force, to “Heroes ’R Us,” the Inquirer’s search for everyday heroes that ran from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21. Apart from developing health workers, the school served as a center for community services and victims of rape, incest and domestic abuse went there for shelter. The school was later called “Kanlungan” because it served as a haven for women, youth and indigenous people. When the indigenous people could not leave their villages, the Asanzas and their students went up to the mountains to reach them despite the danger of running into fugitives and insurgents or being mistaken for communist rebels. Self-confidence --The school’s impact on the community was best expressed by Jun Rosas, a graduate of the school. He said the people, especially the indigenous and the marginalized, developed self-confidence and were empowered to defend themselves.

Asanza described the results of their efforts by narrating the experience of one of her students who once had lunch with two Dumagat children. The children were eating just rice and shrimp paste, but were very proud to eat their food because, the student learned, it was they who planted and harvested the rice. “The student was touched because when she was a kid she would have rice and shrimp paste for lunch and she would feel deprived whereas these two indigenous children were eating the same thing with joy in their faces,” she said. Asanza, 74, taught at the University of the East (UE) Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, where she finished her medical education, specializing in pediatric neurology. Alternative school *READ MORE...

ALSO: Sea lover with positive attitude sees hope for reefs, marine life

With global pollution and destructive fishing practices continuing to destroy coral reef

ecosystems, it is a wonder how the renowned marine scientist and University of the Philippines (UP) professor emeritus Edgardo D. Gomez can remain optimistic about the future. The new National Scientist awardee, who fell in love with the sea during a high school field trip, has kept the outlook that has carried him through four decades of conservation work alongside the world’s top coral reef scientists while leading the next generation of outstanding Filipino marine scientists.

Opportunities in adversity --The 75-year-old Gomez showed how he would rather focus on seeing opportunities in adversity in a lecture he delivered in China a few months ago.
He used a recent Inquirer photo of the Malvar Reef in the West Philippine Sea showing a Chinese fishing vessel with a backhoe attached to it. The Chinese fishing vessel apparently used the backhoe to harvest endangered giant clams, destroying precious corals in their wake. These are the same species of giant clams in the country’s waters that Gomez saved from extinction three decades ago. “I said, all the giant clams in the South China Sea have been fished out, there’s nothing left there. A lot of people are destroying the reefs and over-harvesting the clams. If you’re destroying the reefs, who’s going to repair them?” Gomez recalled in an interview at the UP Marine Science Institute in Diliman, Quezon City.
*READ MORE...

ALSO: Filipino jihadists join IS  

Confidential memo says recruitment active here --AFTER repeatedly denying that Filipino jihadists have joined the “holy war” being waged by the Islamic State (IS) of Syria and Iraq in the Middle East, the government admitted Friday the existence of a confidential memo on terrorist recruitment activities here. The confidential memo on “Countering the threat of foreign fighters,” a copy of which was obtained by the Interaksyon news site, dealt with the possible involvement of Filipino fighters in Syria, two of whom were supposedly killed in March. PHOTO: ‘Holy war’ fighters. These image grabs taken from a propaganda video, which was uploaded on Sept. 7 last year by Syria’s Islamist Ahrar Sham group, show its members taking part in training sessions in Syria. AFP-- The memo was written by retired police general Felizardo Serapio Jr., now executive director of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, for Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, but Serapio did not reply to repeated calls for comment.

Other Palace officials also declined to comment, including Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia. When Ochoa, who was the addressee of the memo, was asked about the matter, Assistant Secretary Emmanuel David Eva III replied in his stead and said: “We cannot comment on the matter as the subject of the memo is confidential and involves matters of national security.”  In the memo, Serapio said extremist proliferation in the Philippines “is a strongly troubling thought to contend with considering that only intermittent information are made available.” *CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Estrada blinks; traders hail Manila truck ban lifting

Joseph Estrada blinked. Now cargo trucks—those behemoths of the local freight industry—are lording it over Manila’s roads again. Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada said on Saturday that he stood down to avert a clash between Manila and the national government. So in front of reporters at Diamond Hotel in Manila, Estrada signed his Executive Order No. 67 lifting a seven-month-old ban on cargo trucks that had been blamed for congestion at the Port of Manila, double-digit losses for importers and exporters, food shortages, rising prices of basic goods, horrendous traffic in the metropolis and the threat, at one time, of a P320-billion loss for the Philippine economy, closures and job losses at special economic zones.

Estrada’s order took effect at noon on Saturday, handing victory to the truckers who had fought the ban but lost as the mayor, a former President of the Philippines, stood his ground, insisting on order and discipline on the roads of Manila. But after a metro-wide gridlock and a 9-kilometer traffic tailback on the North Luzon Expressway on Sept. 5, Malacañang intervened, ordering the formation of Task Force Pantalan to oversee traffic management from the metropolitan gate to the expressway to Route 10-Del Pan at the Port of Manila.

The task force was composed of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and local governments in the metropolis. It was headed by Chief Supt. Allen Bantolo, deputy director for operations of the NCRPO. It was the operation of the task force that broke Estrada’s resolve.
At the news conference, the mayor said there was no pressure from Malacañang and that his decision was voluntary.*READ MORE...
 

ALSO: Business groups pleased with truck ban, but want long-term plan  

Business groups and other sectors hailed the lifting of the truck ban in Manila yesterday but
stressed a long-term plan of action is needed to address congestion at the ports. “Definitely it will be an advance Christmas gift for business,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Alfredo Yao said. The ordinance which banned trucks from plying city streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. took effect in February. As the truck ban has resulted in the piling up of containers at Manila’s ports as well as delays in business deliveries, the PCCI earlier proposed the ordinance be lifted to revert to pre-truck ban conditions.

While the group welcomed the lifting of the truck ban, Yao said the government still needs to come up with a long-term solution to decongest Manila’s ports. “Expand Subic and Batangas port so as not to rely only on the limited capacity of Manila port and, of course, our infrastructure should be fast-tracked with political will to do it,” he said. For his part, Makati Business Club (MBC) executive director Peter Perfecto said the lifting of the truck ban is good news as the ports issue is seen to have an impact on the Philippines’ competitiveness rankings.

“As we have said before, ports, power, prices, public transport and peace and order have to be addressed urgently as these may adversely affect our competitiveness rankings that have been on an upward trend for three years now,” he said. Perfecto added the MBC is hopeful other recommendations and adoption of a longer-term plan of action will be made. Management Association of the Philippines president Gregorio Navarro said the cooperation of other government agencies will be needed to solve port congestion. “We hope that this gesture of cooperation by the City of Manila will likewise be followed by other local government units, line and regulatory agencies as well as law enforcement to solve this problem with finality,” he said. *CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Popemobile won’t be bulletproof, says Tagle


Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Niña P. Calleja - The vehicle which Pope Francis will ride during his three-day visit to the Philippines next year will not be enclosed in bulletproof glass unlike the one used by Pope John Paul II in Manila in 1995, according to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

“Even in the Vatican since (his election), Pope Francis has not been using the bulletproof Popemobile,” Tagle told reporters.

He noted that the bulletproof vehicle was used by Pope John Pall II in Manila during the 1995 World Youth Day because there was a threat to his life.

Tagle said the Pope’s visit would be the same as his visit to Korea when he ditched the Popemobile for a small Korean-made car.

But the Manila archbishop said the Pope’s vehicle would have a roof in case of a heavy downpour.

Pope Francis has likened the traditional bulletproof Popemobile to a “sardine can” that creates a wall separating him from the people.

Since he assumed the papacy, he has been riding the open-topped vehicle during his tours through St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19 next year as confirmed by the officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. But Tagle said he and members of the committees organizing Pope Francis’ visit will fly to the Vatican City on Sept. 21 to arrange the visit.

“By November, we might have the details of his visit,” Tagle said.

FROM PHILSTAR

Chasing the Filipino dream By Thomas Graham (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 14, 2014 - 12:00am 7 845 googleplus0 4


Founders Laurence Defontaines, Vicki Cabrera and Leslie Espinosa cut the ceremonial ribbon during the opening of School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development.

MANILA, Philippines - In a sense, Leslie Espinosa was living the American dream. As a hairstylist and makeup artist for film and theater, her job took her from San Diego to Los Angeles, and finally to New York City, where she worked on popular Broadway shows.

Nevertheless, the death of her father following a long battle with cancer shook Leslie’s world, leaving her with a large void in her life that she somehow needed to fill.

“I didn’t know what it was, but all I knew was that I needed to go to the Philippines,” she explained.

Born and raised in America to Filipino parents, Leslie knew in her heart that she needed to get reconnected to her Asian roots.

Leslie decided to take up a volunteer teaching program in the Philippines and ended up exchanging New York City for Quezon City or, to be more precise, a public school in the district of Balintawak: “The area itself was dirty, smelly, dark and unsafe. I was soon hospitalized because of dengue fever, but even then I did not want to leave this country, because I was here to discover myself.”

Leslie’s sense of vocation was aroused by the immense poverty that she had encountered since she arrived, with a growing conviction that she needed to do something about it. She visited the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, a hub for local and international social entrepreneurs who have committed themselves to creating wealth in a way that leaves no one behind. “This was the place I needed to be, because I sensed I could make a real impact here.”

Now, less than a year later, Leslie calls the Enchanted Farm home and is one of the co-founders of SEED Philippines – the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development – a countryside college for social entrepreneurs.

* The first in the Philippines, it opened its doors last month to 45 students from various public schools in Bulacan. Leslie is one of three young foreign ladies – Vicki Cabrera, a fellow Filipino-American, and Laurence Defontaines, from France, being the others – who have decided against returning home in order to set up the school. It aims to provide quality, practical education for those with the least opportunity, mostly children of subsistence farmers. They have established the school under the watchful gaze of Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto.

GK is a nationwide movement that draws together all sections of society to work together, in enterprising ways, with the aim of ending poverty by the year 2024.

Wasted potential

The combination of a fast-growing economy and a high proportion of young people in the population (one of the highest in south-east Asia) ought to offer considerable economic advantages to the Philippines. Sadly, however, because just 14 students get a college degree out of every 100 who enter Grade 1, vast amounts of the nation’s human potential is unfulfilled.

SEED therefore aims to address the resultant skills shortage by opening up a practical and experiential rural-based education for those who would otherwise be deprived of one.

Established in close partnership with TESDA, CHED and the Department of Education, students will have a space to apply the skills and knowledge they learn in the classroom in learning and assisting from the different social enterprises which have been incubated at the farm.

SEED is the first school for social entrepreneurs in Asia, part of a broader objective to grow a new breed of Filipinos who, in the words of Meloto, become wealth creators and job generators at home, not job seekers abroad: “Our target is to train 20,000 social entrepreneurs and innovators in the province of Bulacan alone within the next ten years. SEED will begin here at the Enchanted Farm, but once we have proven that it can work, we want to roll out similar agri-entrepreneurial schools throughout the country.

“Through countryside development, we want to bring back life and productivity to the land which will create opportunities for the poorest and the hungriest of society – our farmers and their children – and mitigate urban migration and congestion. Through social entrepreneurship, we want to create wealth where no one is left behind.”

‘Farming is sexy’

Farming is at present one of the most poorly rewarded professions. Little wonder, then, that very few young people today dream of becoming a farmer, and that the average age of the Filipino farmer is 57 years.

“I come from a family of farmers. My parents work all day long in the fields, but they could never earn enough to send me to college,” one of the SEED scholars, Ron, explained.

Even for the minority who are fortunate enough to afford a decent education, they will most probably head to urban areas where the majority of the country’s best colleges are located.

Ron, however, sees himself as one of a new breed of Filipino who want farming no longer to be seen as the “dirty” profession of the past.

“We need farmers three times a day to eat, but how often do we need a doctor? Maybe once or twice a year! And a lawyer? Well, hopefully by being law-abiding we will never need one of them in our life-time! So that’s why I want to become a farmer and an entrepreneur, because farming feeds the world. Yes, farming can be sexy and profitable,” he said.

‘Welcome to the Enchanted Farm’

SEED students will experience a holistic approach in their education, with a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on learning and character building so that they can develop into future social entrepreneurs and innovators.

“Instead of becoming laborers or tricycle drivers, these students will one day become business owners and employers themselves whether in agriculture, food processing, culinary arts, or hospitality and tourism,” Meloto said.

With hundreds of foreign students from some of Europe’s most prestigious universities spending time at the farm each year (many of them spending several months), students are given the opportunity to take weekly French and English classes.

“We place a lot of emphasis on languages not just for the practical benefits, but because it gives our students such a confidence boost to realize that they can hold their own alongside anyone in society,” Meloto added. “Imagine the look on the faces of some of our best educated and privileged visitors when they are greeted by the kids here who speak English and French.”

Social business summit

As for Leslie, she may have left the US dream behind, but today she seems content in chasing the Filipino dream instead.

“In just a few weeks of classes I have already seen such unbelievable change. There is so much talent here and it is so exciting to be part of something which is finally giving an opportunity for that talent to shine. I just can’t wait to see where these kids will be in a couple of years!”

She, together with the rest of the SEED team, is just one of the many local and international innovators currently based at the GK Enchanted Farm.

Join her and other young change-makers at the Social Business Summit (Oct. 2-4) and expect your eyes to be opened.

Together with TESDA Secretary Joel Villanueva, CHED Secretary Patricia Licuanan and Education Secretary Armin Luistro, they will talk about social education as a pioneering way to bring innovation and wealth creation to the Philippines, “where no-one is left behind.”

For more information, visit the website: www.socialbusinesssummit.net.

The author is a British journalist who came to the Philippines on a short-term assignment. He has since stayed over two years in the country, volunteering for Gawad Kalinga and other causes. His experiences will be documented in a book, “The Genius of the Poor,” which will also be launched during the summit.

Sierra Madre hero-makers gave haven to abuse victims By Ana Roa; Inquirer Research |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:21 am | Sunday, September 14th, 2014


CHAMPIONS OF THE DUMAGAT Boots and Joseph Asanza with their former students and now trainers (seated, from left) Jane Rosas, Ella Tamana, Liway Arceo-Pablo, Celia Jataas, Allan Tamana and Jun Rosas at their place along Marcos Highway in Tanay, Rizal EDWIN BACASMAS

TANAY, Rizal—During an outreach in the Sierra Madre highlands, Boots Asanza met a Dumagat who was struggling to say his name. The voice of the Dumagat had been taken away from them, she thought.

“[F]or four hours, we waited for him to introduce himself so he could recover his voice,” Asanza said.

Asanza, together with her husband, Joseph, put up an alternative school in Tanay town, Rizal province, in 1995 to train health workers and then send them to tribal villages in the Sierra Madre mountains.

Tanay has 20 villages, half of them located in the highlands inhabited by Dumagat.

For their humility about their work, the Asanzas were nominated by Lt. Gen. Loven Abadia, former chief of the Philippine Air Force, to “Heroes ’R Us,” the Inquirer’s search for everyday heroes that ran from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21.

Apart from developing health workers, the school served as a center for community services and victims of rape, incest and domestic abuse went there for shelter.

The school was later called “Kanlungan” because it served as a haven for women, youth and indigenous people.

When the indigenous people could not leave their villages, the Asanzas and their students went up to the mountains to reach them despite the danger of running into fugitives and insurgents or being mistaken for communist rebels.

Self-confidence

The school’s impact on the community was best expressed by Jun Rosas, a graduate of the school. He said the people, especially the indigenous and the marginalized, developed self-confidence and were empowered to defend themselves.

Asanza described the results of their efforts by narrating the experience of one of her students who once had lunch with two Dumagat children. The children were eating just rice and shrimp paste, but were very proud to eat their food because, the student learned, it was they who planted and harvested the rice.

“The student was touched because when she was a kid she would have rice and shrimp paste for lunch and she would feel deprived whereas these two indigenous children were eating the same thing with joy in their faces,” she said.

Asanza, 74, taught at the University of the East (UE) Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, where she finished her medical education, specializing in pediatric neurology.

Alternative school

* Aiming to reform the curriculum to make it more community-oriented, Asanza proposed an alternative school to Panfilo O. “PO” Domingo, then chair of UE (now deceased).

Her plan was approved and the school became an affiliate of UE. This meant that her students, who were training in community health, would graduate with a UE diploma.

Celia Jataas, a graduate of the school, is now with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), working with homeless street families.

Another graduate, Ella Tamana, is now a teacher at nearby Tablon Elementary School while her husband, Allan, also a graduate of the school, is also working for the DSWD.

“I’m a hero-maker and my husband is the wind beneath my wings,” Asanza said.

The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage in December last year.

The protector

Asanza met her husband, a retired Air Force colonel, in Baguio City when he was still a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). Her cousin also attended the PMA, and cadets, including Joseph, were frequent guests in her aunt’s house, where she spent summer vacations.

Joseph didn’t talk much but Boots said he supported her work in various ways.

“He was really a Joseph, our guard and our protector,” she said, noting how he would drive the van whenever she and her students would go up to the mountain, wait for hours until they come down and make sure they come back safely.

One time, his presence at a court hearing in a rape case proved enough to stop attempts to intimidate the victim, who was taking shelter in the school, she added.
“I believe in what they were doing and whatever they need I was there to support,” Joseph, 79, said.

For 15 years, the couple succeeded in creating a safe place for young people and women through their school.

But they had to cease operations a few years ago because of their advanced age and lack of funds, Asanza said.

Service continues

Their selfless service continues, though.

“I am old. I don’t have the energy anymore but I feel that I still have a couple more years. What should we do next?” Asanza said.

She seemed to have found the answer after attending a recent village meeting that discussed how to make the village child-friendly.

“We are going to help others do the work. The solution is not to give me money so we can repeat everything that we have done before. The important thing is to have renewed energy and to condense everything we learned so that we can participate in government,” Asanza said.

Sea lover with positive attitude sees hope for reefs, marine life By Dona Z. Pazzibugan |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:56 am | Sunday, September 14th, 2014


GOMEZ: “Once you destroy your reefs, you’re going to change the wholemarine ecosystem.Our oceans will change. So this is not just climate change, this is global change. ” NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

With global pollution and destructive fishing practices continuing to destroy coral reef ecosystems, it is a wonder how the renowned marine scientist and University of the Philippines (UP) professor emeritus Edgardo D. Gomez can remain optimistic about the future.

The new National Scientist awardee, who fell in love with the sea during a high school field trip, has kept the outlook that has carried him through four decades of conservation work alongside the world’s top coral reef scientists while leading the next generation of outstanding Filipino marine scientists.

Opportunities in adversity

The 75-year-old Gomez showed how he would rather focus on seeing opportunities in adversity in a lecture he delivered in China a few months ago.

He used a recent Inquirer photo of the Malvar Reef in the West Philippine Sea showing a Chinese fishing vessel with a backhoe attached to it.

The Chinese fishing vessel apparently used the backhoe to harvest endangered giant clams, destroying precious corals in their wake.

These are the same species of giant clams in the country’s waters that Gomez saved from extinction three decades ago.

“I said, all the giant clams in the South China Sea have been fished out, there’s nothing left there. A lot of people are destroying the reefs and over-harvesting the clams. If you’re destroying the reefs, who’s going to repair them?” Gomez recalled in an interview at the UP Marine Science Institute in Diliman, Quezon City.

* He said he next showed his audience a photo of hundreds of giant clams being grown in the MSI’s marine laboratory in Bolinao, Pangasinan province. The laboratory-grown giant clams will eventually be transplanted in the sea to restock the dwindling population.

“I said, we are producing giant clams in the Philippines. Just to change the mindset, I said, instead of destroying, why don’t we restore and repopulate the taklobo? Why don’t we restock the South China Sea?” Gomez said.

“I told them we have the technology to repair reefs, we have manuals. Why don’t we repair the reefs?” he continued.

Get scientists together

The upshot was that someone in the audience invited him to go to Taiwan to conduct a workshop on giant clams.
“It’s an opportunity that I see opening. That maybe, instead of the military and the politicians arguing, let’s get the best scientists to work together to help our environment and restock our reefs,” he said.

According to Gomez, he was just looking at opportunities that others perhaps have not thought of.

“We’ll find a way and we’ll repair it. We’re not doing this so you can destroy. No, no, you stop destroying. But we’ll enhance. We’ll produce more,” he explained.

Pioneering work

Gomez was recently proclaimed a National Scientist in recognition of his pioneering work in the development of marine science in the country, coral reefs conservation and marine invertebrate reproduction.

In the 1970s, he spearheaded the first national-scale assessment of coral reefs damage undertaken anywhere in the world. The work led to worldwide conservation initiatives.

His researches have become the basis for the management and conservation programs of the country’s marine resources. His work on marine invertebrates led to the rescue of the giant clam from extinction.

Gomez, however, is proudest of having built the UP Marine Science Institute, literally from scratch, into a world-class research and teaching institution that has gained recognition for Filipino marine scientists in the international scientific community.

He credits positive attitude with the ethic for hard work and excellence for the success, “and because the planets and the stars were aligned.”

Fate indeed must have stepped in as Gomez did not immediately go into marine science although he would have wanted to.

“I had an interesting biology teacher [in high school],” he said, recalling a fond memory of a seashore field trip as a high school student at De La Salle.

After graduating summa cum laude from De La Salle University with a degree in education (major in social sciences and English) in 1962, he taught at his alma mater’s high school and later became dean of student affairs of De La Salle School in Bacolod City.

For his postgraduate studies, Gomez earned a master’s degree in biology from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota in 1967.

And then he saw an advertisement for doctorate scholarships from the National Science Development Board (NSDB), the precursor agency of the Department of Science and Technology. On the NSDB scholarship, he earned his doctorate in marine biology in 1973 from the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California in San Diego.

He also learned scuba diving when he was at Scripps.

Mini-Scripps in PH

Gomez said the efficient, professional and scientific culture in the institution impressed him.

“And another thing, everybody helped everybody else. There was no marking of territory, no professional envy. Everybody worked together. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if we have a mini-Scripps in the Philippines?” he said.

As it happened, when he returned and was hired by UP as a professor of marine biology in 1974, he was also given the added task of putting up a marine science center.

“UP had a dearth of marine scientists and wanted to start a marine science center. So here I came, willing to do whatever, so they offered me to do the job.

“They gave me two sheets of paper. ‘Here is the marine science center.’ No money, no equipment, no personnel, no office. I had to start from scratch literally,” he recalled.

Imparting the same culture ingrained in him during his postgraduate studies, Gomez also required of his faculty and graduate students recruits that they excel and publish their work in top scientific journals.

At first, the funds to support their research projects were hard to come by.

“In the 1980s, I would write a research proposal for P25,000. If I got P80,000, that was already a lot. Now some of my colleagues have research projects that run into P80 million,” Gomez said.

With Gomez at the helm for two decades, from 1974 to 1994, the UP Marine Science Institute became the top research institute in the country and in Southeast Asia. Its scientific papers and research projects recognized internationally.

Gomez’s own research has been much cited in scientific circles. He has also led not only the country but the region in global collaboration efforts on marine conservation.

In 1993, Gomez was elevated to the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the country’s top advisory and recommendatory body on issues involving science and technology.

Gomez retired from teaching in 2005, when he was named UP professor emeritus for his outstanding work as a scholar.

Landmark study

One of his recent notable works dealt with the phenomenon of ocean acidification.

Gomez is one of the authors of a landmark study in 2007 on the phenomenon of ocean acidification, which found that too much carbon dioxide emissions are being absorbed by the oceans triggering a chemical reaction that causes water to be more acidic, which in turn affects marine life.

One such effect is the weakening of the reef structures.

“So the reefs of the future will not be as strong, as sturdy as the present reefs. What this means is our coral reefs will continue to degrade, our reefs will be weaker, and our reefs will eventually vanish,” Gomez said.

“Once you destroy your reefs, you’re going to change the whole marine ecosystem, the coastal ecosystem. Our oceans will change. So this is not just climate change, this is global change. This is happening,” he said.

Practicing botanist

But Gomez remains upbeat, saying Filipino scientists have opportunities opened to them to collaborate in global issues.
In the same way that he protects the marine rainforests, Gomez is as relentless as a practicing botanist in cultivating Philippine tree species.

“We also cannot have trees overnight. It takes decades before you can harvest lumber. That’s the same way with the giant clams. But you must come up with a system so that you can grow them. Otherwise we won’t have any more forests,” he said.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Pinoy jihadists join IS By Joyce Pangco Panares, Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Sep. 13, 2014 at 12:01am

Confidential memo says recruitment active here

AFTER repeatedly denying that Filipino jihadists have joined the “holy war” being waged by the Islamic State (IS) of Syria and Iraq in the Middle East, the government admitted Friday the existence of a confidential memo on terrorist recruitment activities here.

The confidential memo on “Countering the threat of foreign fighters,” a copy of which was obtained by the Interaksyon news site, dealt with the possible involvement of Filipino fighters in Syria, two of whom were supposedly killed in March.


‘Holy war’ fighters. These image grabs taken from a propaganda video, which was uploaded on Sept. 7 last year by Syria’s Islamist Ahrar Sham group, show its members taking part in training sessions in Syria. AFP

The memo was written by retired police general Felizardo Serapio Jr., now executive director of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, for Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, but Serapio did not reply to repeated calls for comment.

Other Palace officials also declined to comment, including Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia.

When Ochoa, who was the addressee of the memo, was asked about the matter, Assistant Secretary Emmanuel David Eva III replied in his stead and said: “We cannot comment on the matter as the subject of the memo is confidential and involves matters of national security.”

In the memo, Serapio said extremist proliferation in the Philippines “is a strongly troubling thought to contend with considering that only intermittent information are made available.”

* He cited two reports from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which has repeatedly denied receiving reports of Filipino jihadists in Syria, claiming that at least two Filipino were killed while fighting for the terrorists.

“It further asserts a well-founded fear that some Filipino fighters, proudly pronouncing themselves as veterans, have already returned to the country and are teaching the cause of Islamic fundamentalists and extremists in Syria,” the memo read.

Last July, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) leader Samer Samsudin said about 200 Filipinos left the country in a “do or die” mission to fight alongside Islamic State rebels and were led by a BIFF leader identified as Mohamad Husin Aljabouree.

Samsudin said the BIFF fighters were able to slip out of the country from their hideout in Maguindanao by using the country’s backdoor to Malaysia, where they boarded a plane bound to the Middle East.

Also in July, videos of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon showing him pledging allegiance to the Islamic State appeared on YouTube, but security officials said it was only a ploy for raise money.

In the memo, Serapio proposed the formation of a technical working group to create a database for the monitoring and profiling of jihadists.

On Friday, Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said the department would hold discussions with members of the inter-agency security group on the issue of Filipinos joining wars in the Middle East.

Del Rosario said it was the Philippine National Police and other security agencies that are responsible for monitoring Filipinos who have gone to Iraq or Syria to fight for the Islamic State.

“I have to talk to the members of the inter-agency group who are monitoring this.. [the] security people as well as the PNP,” Del Rosario told reporters.

His statement follows reports of a confidential department memo dated March 20 to President Benigno Aquino III on the deaths of two Filipinos allegedly fighting alongside the Syrian rebels.

The memo stated that 100 Filipinos who traveled to Iran had undergone military training and were deployed to Syria.

The memo also said that an increasing number of the terrorist recruitment groups have been already been established in Malaysia, Indonesia, Xinjiang in the People’s Republic of China, Thailand, and the southern Philippines.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said he was not aware of such a memo, however.

In August, Jose admitted that the department had no capability to monitor the movement of Filipino recruits in Syria and Iraq because they can take many routes to get there.

“In Iraq and Syria, we already have a total deployment ban for a long time. We don’t let Filipinos leave if that is their destination,” Jose said.

But he acknowledged that these recruits could fly to another country before heading for the Middle East.

“How can the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad monitor Filipinos that are up in the mountains unless that have their passport renewed?” he added.

In August, former President Fidel Ramos and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that about 100 Muslim youths are joining the Jihadists in Iraq.

Also on Friday, a BIFF field commander, Samer Samsuin, vowed his group would fight alongside Syrian rebels seeking to topple the Syrian government, but denied that two Filipino fighters had died in the conflict.

The BIFF said it has sent some 200 warriors to Syria and Iraq to help fellow Muslim rebels fight the governments of Syria and Iraq.

He also said they would not be sending additional fighters to Syria.

The Armed Forces Public Affairs Office continued to deny knowing about the recruitment of Filipino fighters.

“We have no information on that, we will look into it,” said Public Affairs Officer Col. Ramon Zagala.

On Friday, the US Central Intelligence Agency said Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria now have 20,000 to 31,500 fighters on the ground, much higher than a previous estimate of 10,000.

Among those in Syria are 15,000 foreign fighters including 2,000 Westerners, some of whom have joined IS, a US intelligence official said.

The figures were revealed one day after President Barack Obama vowed to expand an offensive against IS extremists, a plan which foresees new air strikes against IS in Syria, expanded attacks in Iraq and new support for Iraqi government forces.

“CIA assesses the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS) can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, based on a new review of all-source intelligence reports from May to August,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said in a statement.

“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence,” he said.

Senior US officials have voiced concern at the presence of foreign fighters among the Sunni extremists who hold Western passports, potentially enabling them to return from the battlefield prepared to carry out terror attacks in Europe or the United States.

IS militants have seized large swathes of territory in Iraq in recent months, displaying brutal tactics and releasing videos of the grisly executions of two American reporters.

The White House has insisted that President Barack Obama is authorized to strike IS in Iraq and Syria under a law passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

However Obama learned Thursday that he may have a wait on his hands before Congress signs off on his plan to train and equip Syrian rebels, a key plank in his strategy to destroy Islamic State radicals.

Also on Thursday the Pentagon announced that US combat aircraft will soon start flying out of a base in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq as part of a “more aggressive” air campaign against IS jihadists.

The use of Arbil air base reflects the broadening US offensive, though attack helicopters already have been flying out of bases in Iraq.

The announcement came on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 -- a day that fell, in a trace of bitter irony, only hours after Obama’s remarks steeling Americans for a battle against Muslim fanaticism in the Middle East. With Francisco Tuyay, AFP

Estrada blinks; traders hail Manila truck ban lifting By Niña P. Calleja |Philippine Daily Inquirer3:39 am | Sunday, September 14th, 2014


Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada with Vice Mayor Francisco Dumagoso and members of the City Council signed and announced on Saturday the executive order lifting a seven-month-old truck ban in Manila. JOAN BONDOC

Joseph Estrada blinked.

Now cargo trucks—those behemoths of the local freight industry—are lording it over Manila’s roads again.

Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada said on Saturday that he stood down to avert a clash between Manila and the national government.

So in front of reporters at Diamond Hotel in Manila, Estrada signed his Executive Order No. 67 lifting a seven-month-old ban on cargo trucks that had been blamed for congestion at the Port of Manila, double-digit losses for importers and exporters, food shortages, rising prices of basic goods, horrendous traffic in the metropolis and the threat, at one time, of a P320-billion loss for the Philippine economy, closures and job losses at special economic zones.

Estrada’s order took effect at noon on Saturday, handing victory to the truckers who had fought the ban but lost as the mayor, a former President of the Philippines, stood his ground, insisting on order and discipline on the roads of Manila.

But after a metro-wide gridlock and a 9-kilometer traffic tailback on the North Luzon Expressway on Sept. 5, Malacañang intervened, ordering the formation of Task Force Pantalan to oversee traffic management from the metropolitan gate to the expressway to Route 10-Del Pan at the Port of Manila.

The task force was composed of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and local governments in the metropolis. It was headed by Chief Supt. Allen Bantolo, deputy director for operations of the NCRPO.

It was the operation of the task force that broke Estrada’s resolve.

At the news conference, the mayor said there was no pressure from Malacañang and that his decision was voluntary.

* Bad feelings

But later, he and Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso admitted that they felt bad about the national government’s response to the truck ban.

“You can’t deny us the right to feel bad. We are just doing our job and that is to solve our city’s traffic problems,” Domagoso said.

“We are trying to avoid conflict,” Estrada said. “There might be a shootout if we don’t lift the ban.”

Domagoso explained: “We were intimidated. Imagine bringing in the Army—soldiers in uniform and carrying M16s.”

Estrada said the city government and the residents of Manila decided to sacrifice their interests and let the national government have its way.

“I’m giving way to the national government under the Office of the President,” he said.

Estrada and Domagoso hinted that they were passing the responsibility for managing traffic in Manila to Malacañang.

“We have reached purgatory [with] the truck ban. Now, we [are going] back [to] the gates of hell,” Domagoso said.
‘Commendable gesture’

There was no reaction from Malacañang yesterday as all Palace officials were preoccupied with President Aquino’s departure for Europe last night.

But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma issued a brief statement, saying the lifting of the truck ban would facilitate cargo movement to and from the Port of Manila, and contribute significantly to the eventual decongestion of the port.

“Mayor Estrada’s statesmanlike gesture is commendable,” Coloma said.

The truck ban prohibited eight-wheelers and cargo vehicles heavier than 4,500 kilos from entering the city between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

It eased traffic in the city but because of the limited trucking hours, cargo piled up at the Port of Manila.

Ineffective measures

When the truckers and shippers complained, the MMDA introduced a one-lane policy on C5 and Quirino Avenue, and Manila opened an “express trade lane” on Roxas Boulevard to allow trucks to move across the city outside the ban hours, hasten the removal of freight containers from the port and allow the unloading of fresh cargo coming in from foreign ports.

Later, the MMDA also introduced a “last mile” policy, exempting truckers doing business with the Port of Manila from local truck bans in the metropolis.

But those measures and overtime work at the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) allowed by the Bureau of Customs did little to ease the congestion at the port, which is expected to worsen in the coming weeks with the arrival of shipments for the holiday season.

Businesses groaned and Sen. Francis Escudero called on President Aquino on Monday to take a direct hand in solving the port congestion.

What the President did, Malacañang has not announced.

But Estrada called a news conference yesterday and announced his capitulation.

Thank you, Erap

MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino thanked Estrada for “trying to find solutions to decongest the Port of Manila.”

Tolentino said he was confident that with the cooperation of all concerned, a return to the conditions before the truck ban could be enforced.

He said he would convene the Metro Manila Mayors Special Traffic Committee tomorrow to draw up a traffic plan that would incorporate Manila’s efforts at traffic decongestion and the national government’s objective of solving the port congestion.

The Department of Transportation and Communications welcomed Estrada’s decision, which it called timely as the Christmas season was drawing nearer.

“It is very much welcome and we sincerely appreciate Mayor Estrada’s decision to come on board,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.

Hooray from business

The local and foreign business communities hailed Estrada’s decision, which they said would be crucial to decongesting the Port of Manila.

Business groups, however, want similar decisions from government agencies, which have imposed restrictions that hamper the stabilization of operations at the port.

“That’s a very important decision,” Henry J. Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said, referring to Estrada’s order lifting the truck ban. “What is needed for addressing the port congestion [and improving] accessibility of the ports is a ‘ban of all bans.’ But we need a lifting of the franchising of trucks for hire by agencies [under the] Department of Transportation and Communications. All trucks are needed to get full and empty containers out of the ports.”

‘Reasonable response’
Edgardo G. Lacson, president of Employers Confederation of the Philippines, described Estrada’s decision as a “reasonable response” to the port congestion, which he said had “morphed from a local traffic problem to a national crisis.”

“[We hope that] his gesture can influence other government agencies to start the process of a total and coordinated approach to solve the twin problems of port congestion and traffic mess,” Lacson said.

“The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s anticolorum rule, the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s certification requirement for brokers and importers, and the simultaneous Department of Public Works and Highways roadworks need to be harmonized with the schedule of port clearance,” he added.

‘Big help’

Alfredo M. Yao, president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a text message that Estrada’s decision would be a “big help.”

“But looking forward, the port problem should have a final solution, which is to expand the Subic and Batangas ports so that companies would not need to rely only on the limited capacity of the Manila port. And, of course, our infrastructure projects should be fast-tracked and backed with political will,” Yao said.

Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., said he believed that Estrada just decided to cooperate with the national government.

“I don’t think he is doing this because he thinks the truck ban is a problem. He is just cooperating so that everybody will move,” Ortiz-Luis said in a telephone interview.

“This is a good move and at least now, there are no reasons [why] this issue cannot be done or resolved. Let’s see now how fast the government can do this,” he said.

More to be done

International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), which operates the MICT, also welcomed Estrada’s decision but said more needed to be done.

“This ban lifting is a major step but only the first of many. What we need to do now is shorten the time it takes to totally solve the issue by ensuring everyone is working for the same thing. We need to set aside individual interests and focus on joint solutions,” Christian Gonzales, ICTSI vice president and Asia Region head, said in a text message.

Gonzales said he had called port users to a meeting tomorrow “to put together a decongestion plan under the new conditions set by this truck ban lifting.” With reports from Kristine Felisse Mangunay, Amy R. Remo and Miguel R. Camus

FROM PHILSTAR

Business groups pleased, but want long-term plan By Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 14, 2014 - 12:00am 11 35 googleplus2 0

MANILA, Philippines - Business groups and other sectors hailed the lifting of the truck ban in Manila yesterday but stressed a long-term plan of action is needed to address congestion at the ports.

“Definitely it will be an advance Christmas gift for business,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Alfredo Yao said.

The ordinance which banned trucks from plying city streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. took effect in February.

As the truck ban has resulted in the piling up of containers at Manila’s ports as well as delays in business deliveries, the PCCI earlier proposed the ordinance be lifted to revert to pre-truck ban conditions.

While the group welcomed the lifting of the truck ban, Yao said the government still needs to come up with a long-term solution to decongest Manila’s ports.

“Expand Subic and Batangas port so as not to rely only on the limited capacity of Manila port and, of course, our infrastructure should be fast-tracked with political will to do it,” he said.

For his part, Makati Business Club (MBC) executive director Peter Perfecto said the lifting of the truck ban is good news as the ports issue is seen to have an impact on the Philippines’ competitiveness rankings.

“As we have said before, ports, power, prices, public transport and peace and order have to be addressed urgently as these may adversely affect our competitiveness rankings that have been on an upward trend for three years now,” he said.

Perfecto added the MBC is hopeful other recommendations and adoption of a longer-term plan of action will be made.

Management Association of the Philippines president Gregorio Navarro said the cooperation of other government agencies will be needed to solve port congestion.

“We hope that this gesture of cooperation by the City of Manila will likewise be followed by other local government units, line and regulatory agencies as well as law enforcement to solve this problem with finality,” he said.

* Henry Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said that following the lifting of the truck ban, the country “will need a lifting of the franchising of trucks for hire by DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) agencies also (as) all trucks are needed to get full and empty containers out of the ports.”

Aduana Business Club president Mary Zapata said they were pleased with the lifting of the truck ban.

On their part, they would police their members and drivers so they would observe road courtesy to show Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada that even under normal circumstances, they could work together to improve traffic flow in the city.

Zapata believed Estrada might have realized that his “experimental” truck ban would not bring good results.

“From the start, ideally there was no truck ban,” she said.

Zapata also thanked the national government for listening to their plea to intervene in behalf of the truckers, importers and other affected sectors.

“Thanks to the national government even if they were late” in responding to their appeal, she said.

State agencies also hail decision

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the decision of the city government of Manila to lift the truck ban would hasten the decongestion of the ports.

“The decision of Manila will shorten our sacrifices,” Abaya said.

The lifting of the truck ban, however, is expected to cause heavy traffic along major thoroughfares, especially those leading to the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI).

“Again this will entail sacrifices for our citizenry as we receive our cargoes and push it out of the ports,” he added.

Abaya said the government is working hard to free up more space in the ports in time for the Christmas rush as yard utilization rate reached 110 percent a few months ago after Manila implemented the daytime truck ban last Feb. 24.

The government welcomed the decision of the Manila city government to finally lift the truck ban.

“It will further facilitate our solutions to the backlog of cargoes and the incoming surge of imports as Christmas approaches,” Abaya said.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Winston Ginez also welcomed the lifting of the truck ban in Manila.

Ginez said the city government’s decision to lift the truck ban would free up the previously impassable roads in the city since the ban was imposed in February.

“This will ensure the free flow of trucks to and from the Manila port,” he said.

He said this would improve the turnaround of trucks and in turn improve their mobility.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Juan Sta. Ana said the lifting of the truck ban in Manila would be a big help in the government’s effort to decongest the two ports.

“At least, with this move of the city government, we would be able to move further, this would be a big help in port decongestion,” said Sta. Ana, a member of the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion.

Sta. Ana explained the piers are only “reactive” to the developments that for the past eight months it bore the weight of the exceeding number of container vans that have remained stationary in the Port of Manila and the MICP.

There is also an imbalanced movement where the number of cargoes going out is far less than the number of cargoes coming in to the two ports.

Sta. Ana admitted he could not guarantee the port congestion would be solved by Monday even after the lifting of the truck ban yesterday.

“That should be the case, but there is a pile up at the pier. There are several containers still outside of the country that would be coming in,” he said.

They are also anticipating the increased volume of shipments coming in because of the upcoming holiday season, Sta. Ana added.

“(Port operations) are not yet normal” because only few are moving out their cargo, only few are opening their warehouses during weekends. “This is why the Cabinet Cluster has been encouraging importers and businessmen to be part of the solution by pulling out their overstaying cleared cargo containers from the ports to give way to the new incoming shipments,” he said. – Lawrence Agcaoili, Reinir Padua, Evelyn Macairan


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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