News this weekend...

POSSIBLE ERUPTION SEEN WITH SUDDEN INFLATION OF MAYON'S SURFACE

OCT 3 --A hazardous eruption might happen soon if the faster increase in the surface inflation of Mayon Volcano continues, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned yesterday. Phivolcs-Bicol chief volcanologist Ed Laguerta said an inflated surface indicates that magma is being pushed to the surface of the volcano through a degassing process. Mayon’s surface has inflated by three millimeters in just 10 days, but normally it takes over a year to record at least 10 millimeters of inflation.

“An increase of three millimeters in 10 days is very significant because this indicates that the magma is being pushed to the surface at a faster pace,” Laguerta told The  STAR. “This means that the pressure of magma pushing inside the volcano is so strong that it could inflate the surface to up to three millimeters in a short 10-day span of time,” added Phivolcs volcanologist Paul Alanis. A sudden drop in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission could also aggravate the restive condition of Mayon. * READ MORE...

ALSO: PHL suspends improvement of structures in West PHL Sea amid case vs. China  

OCT 4 --In this photo taken on August 14, 2014, Aquino leads the ceremonial distribution of assault rifles at the AFP Headquarters. In front of him is Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. Photo by Robert Viñas/Malacañang Photo Bureau. While China continues with the construction of structures in the highly-contested Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine government held in abeyance the improvement of its structures in the islands it occupies to avoid tension.

No less than President Benigno Aquino III ordered the status quo in the areas claimed by the Philippines, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told the Senate finance committee Friday during the hearing on the proposed Defense Department budget for 2015. “We got specific instruction from the President not to desert the status quo. We have funds for the improvement but this is now being held in abeyance because of the case we have filed. It might affect the case that we have filed before the international tribunal,” Gazmin said. One of the projects still awaiting the President’s go-signal is the improvement of the dilapidated Pag-asa airstrip. In 2013, the Philippines formally brought its long-standing territorial dispute with China before the international tribunal.

In June 2014, the Arbitral Tribunal ordered China to respond to the Philippines’ claim that it is illegally occupying at least eight shoals, reefs and similar features in the West Philippine Sea belonging to Filipinos. China, however, refused to take part in the arbitration proceedings. Aside from the Philippines and China, other countries claiming ownership over islands in the West Philippine Sea—a major trading route where undersea oil and gas deposits have been discovered—are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The budget hearing is ongoing as of posting time. —KG/RSJ, GMA News THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Loyalists won’t give up PNoy 2; Set off drive for 8m signatures  

OCT 4 --Set off drive for 8m signatures to show public support --DESPITE a recent survey showing 62 percent of Filipinos oppose a second term for President Benigno Aquino III, a group of loyalists on Friday launched a drive to collect 8 million signatures from now until Nov. 30 to urge him to seek re-election.  Melvin Matibag and RJ Echiverri, both lawyers and lead conveners of Movement for Reform, Continuity and Momentum (More2Come), said the most viable way to effect a second term for the President is through a constituent assembly in which Congress will propose an amendment in the Constitution to lift the one-term limit on the presidency.

“The President with his allies can deliver the necessary numbers to carry the amendments in both Houses,” Matibag said. The group said they are behind a full-page advertisement pushing for another six-year term for the President. Matibag is a former general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority during the Arroyo administration. “Popular support for this move, which we feel is already there, can be harnessed through a signature campaign to gather 8 million signatures asking him to run again,” Matibag said. He said the President is an honest man, and that he must sustain the momentum and continuity of his Tuwid na Daan or straight path of good governance.

More2Come urged all Filipinos to support their call for a term extension for the President. “More2Come believes that if all who see the benefits of his leadership band together, it will be an irresistible force which even President Noynoy Aquino is bound to follow,” Matibag said. The signature campaign has started in the National Capital Region. “We will first gather an initial of 2 million votes for Metro Manila until Nov. 30, during which we will be presenting them to the President on Bonifacio Day,” he said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Senate to OK special powers (for energy crisis) 

OCT 5 --The Senate is expected to approve this month a joint resolution granting President Aquino the authority to contract additional generating capacity to address a looming power crisis in the summer of 2015. “We will work to finish this before the end of October so that the President would be given the power and the DOE (Department of Energy) could buy or rent the generating sets to provide the necessary power supply from March to July of next year,” said Drilon. The Senate committee on energy, which is headed by Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, is working on the joint resolution.

Drilon earlier expressed reservation on the proposal, saying it would entail a lot of funds for the government. He is now saying that the grant of emergency powers for the President would cover the shortfall of 300 megawatts in March and April. He said DOE estimates showed that the total shortfall could be as high as 800 MW. Drilon said the Malaya geothermal plant in Rizal – which is expected to be operational next year – and big businesses that pledged to help out under the interruptible load program (ILP), would reduce the shortfall to 300 MW. The ILP involves asking the private companies, particularly big commercial establishments such as malls, to operate their generator sets at certain periods so that the demand on distributors such as the Manila Electric Co. could be reduced. However, Osmeña is not convinced that there is a need to purchase or lease generator sets as proposed by the DOE.

He added that these generator sets should be able to produce at least 2,000 MW. Osmeña also noted that representatives of big businesses gave their commitment to the ILP. He said Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla expects only 180 MW from the private sector under the ILP but members of the Makati Business Club assured him they could guarantee at least 400 MW. Osmeña said he is not satisfied with 400 MW, and would push for 800 MW, which he said the existing generator sets in Luzon could provide. He said the government should trust the private sector to fulfill their commitments under the ILP. “Secretary Petilla has been saying ‘I don’t believe them.’ But there are certain times that you must take people’s word for it; that they won’t suck up a huge chunk of power from Meralco,” he said. He said the demand for up to 400 MW during summer is natural, and would be covered by new power plants. With the uncertainty surrounding Malaya plant’s operation early next year, he said the total shortfall would be around 1,000 MW. Osmeña said the ILP could cover the shortfall, adding paying the private firms is cheaper than bringing in new generation sets.

ALSO: Anti-Binay drive gets lift from CoA

OCT 5 --CAYETANO LOCKS ON OVERPRICED HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT. The demolition operations against Vice President Jejomar Binay continued yesterday as a Senate prober leading the chamber’s investigations on the 2016 survey frontrunner is now angling on the supposed overpricing of Makati City hospital equipment, the report for which came from Palace ally Commission on Audit (CoA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza. The Senate probe started from the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 before branching out to other supposed irregularities in a shotgun-like campaign against Binay and members of his family.  Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Makati City residents had been short-changed of healthcare benefits after the CoA supposedly bared an overprice of more than 9,000 percent in several hospital equipment purchased by the local government.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, steered clear from the issue of the blue ribbon sub-committee continuing with its investigation on the alleged overpriced Makati City hall parking building last Thursday, even jumping on other matters not related to the issue, despite the pending appeal questioning its jurisdiction.
The chair of the mother committee, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III has acknowledge the fact that the jurisdictional challenge raised by Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay should be resolved by all of the panel members.
“This means only small change reached residents of Makati due to the huge overprice overprice according to the CoA,” Cayetano said. In a statement, Cayetano said Mendoza revealed during Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing that several medical equipment purchased by the local government of Makati during the term of Dra. Elenita Binay, wife of the Vice President and mother of incumbent Mayor Junjun Binay, were overpriced by more than P61.2 million.

Mendoza during the hearing claimed being harassed by unnamed personalities in her supposed audit of Makati City transactions. Cayetano claimed Mendoza said a special task force discovered that medical equipment purchased for the Ospital ng Makati back in 2000 to 2001 were bought for P70.56 million when the actual worth was only P9.31 million. “What is also appalling are the purchases of the following: autoclaves/sterilizer for P1,465,000 when the price is only P16,000 l; fetal monitoring system for P2,680,000 but originally priced P538,000; regular hospital bed purchased at P148,000 and priced at only P9,032.76; ICU bed for P545,000 when its price is only P34,123.76; Orthopaedics bed for P480,000 when it is only worth P24,087.36; ultrasound machine priced at only P1,299,750 abd purchased at an overpriced P7,980,000; and hospital cabinets worth only P2,258 purchased at P17,850,” Cayetano said. The senator renewed his challenge for Binay to produce his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) despite that has been met after Binay had submitted his SALn and tax documents since 1988. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Binays hit back at Drilon; No one is above the law! 

OCT 5 --Follow your own rules, senators told. No one is above the law, yes, so follow your own. This was the reply of the Makati City government on Saturday to Senate President Franklin Drilon’s statement on Friday that the Senate would compel Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and other city officials to testify if they continued to snub summons to an inquiry into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

“Drilon says that no one is above the law. We agree, and that includes the senators,” Joey Salgado, city spokesperson, said in a statement. Under the rules of the Senate, “neither Drilon nor the subcommittee can cite anyone in contempt and order their arrest,” he said, referring to the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III that is investigating allegations of corruption in the construction of the P2.28-billion parking building. “It has to be the whole committee,” Salgado said, referring to the blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III. Talking to reporters in Pasay City on Friday, Drilon said the subcommittee would accept a “proper explanation” from Binay and the other city officials of why they had not been appearing at the inquiry. “But should they insist and say, ‘We don’t want to appear before the blue ribbon, that’s unacceptable. No one is above the law,” Drilon said.

If they continued to ignore summons, “the committee will be compelled to detain them until they testify,” he said.
Drilon said there was jurisprudence sustaining the Senate’s power to compel witnesses to testify at a hearing.
Question of jurisdiction --Binay and other Makati City officials appeared in just one hearing called by the subcommittee. They filed a challenge to the jurisdiction of the subcommittee and never again showed up for hearings. The subcommittee is studying the challenge, but has not suspended the hearings.
Salgado said that under Senate rules, a “jurisdictional challenge has to be resolved by the whole committee” and “not by one senator or a subcommittee.” Drilon agreed, saying the Senate would “follow the procedure.”
Speaking to the Inquirer by telephone on Saturday night, Drilon said the blue ribbon committee would decide whether it’s the committee of the whole or the subcommittee that should resolve the jurisdictional challenge.*READ MORE...

ALSO: DBM yet to resubmit corrections to budget bill; House panel deems errata withdrawn  

OCT 2 --The Department of Budget and Management has yet to submit the errata it wants to include in the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015, almost a week after the House of Representatives approved the proposal on second reading. House Appropriations committee chair Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab told reporters Thursday that the sub-panel formed to tackle amendments to the 2015 spending plan considers the DBM’s errata officially withdrawn as of Thursday since it has not yet returned the document to the committee secretariat.

DBM submitted the corrections at around 6 p.m. of September 26 but later withdrew the documents, Ungab said. “The official stand of the committee was that [the errata] was withdrawn by the DBM because until now, hindi naman nila ibinalik [sa amin],” he said. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has yet to respond to GMA News Online regarding the DBM's plans for submitting the errata to the House again. He earlier said the errata only seeks to correct typographical errors and some miscalculations of figures. The corrections do not include changes to the definition of savings and new insertions of items not included in the general appropriations bill deliberated by the House, Abad said.

“They (corrections) are not substantive in the sense that you are changing definitions. We already proposed that, and that is already in the 2015 NEP (National Expenditure Program), which was approved on second reading,” he said. Following the controversy surrounding the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, DBM changed the definition of savings in the 2015 NEP to mean portions of allocations that "have not been released or obligated" due to "discontinuance or abandonment of a program, activity or project for justifiable causes, at any time during the validity of the appropriations." Porous power of the purse The new definition, however, is being challenged by the seven-member Makabayan bloc in the House. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 70,000 houses for typhoon victims to be constructed next year – Abad 

SEPT 30-- About 70,000 housing units are set to be constructed next year for the victims of typhoons and other natural calamities, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said Tuesday. At the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) P1.4-billion proposed budget for 2015, Abad said P30 billion in the 2015 national budget has been allocated to the calamity fund, of which P20 billion will be used to provide shelter for calamity victims.

“I recently had a meeting with rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and I found out that lots have already been secured, geo-hazard planning has already been conducted and the beneficiaries have already been listed,” Abad said. He said an additional P1 billion from the calamity fund will be used for the rehabilitation and repair of establishments damaged by recent typhoons. NDRRMC, NHA Abad added that the calamity fund is set to be released to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), while the housing project will be implemented by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The beneficiaries of the housing project will be the victims of calamities in the last quarter of 2013 and the current year, he said. Several disasters displacing thousands of residents and resulting in millions in property damage have occurred recently, including the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in central Visayas last October; Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas region a month later; Typhoon Glenda in July this year and Tropical Storm Mario last month. — BM, GMA News THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Drilon et al., above the law; Rules of the Senate and the Constitution state clearly that it is the members who must vote and decide on a member’s suspension or expulsion   

Senate President Franklin Drilon, along with three other senators, is certainly abusing his power and position as the upper chamber’s chief, no matter his, and Noynoy three attack dogs in the Senate denials. Drilon and the blue ribbon sub-committee have been breaking their own rules, and all in aid of a political demolition job on Vice President Jojo Binay and his family members.
Drilon, reacting to the refusal of Makati Mayor Junjun BInay to attend the hearings while issuing a jurisdictional challenge, warned the mayor, saying that he can be cited for contempt and detained in the Senate until he agrees to testify. He then added: “No one is above the law.”

The Binay camp had an answer. “Drilon says that no one is above the law. We agree, and that includes the senators,” Joey Salgado, Makati City spokesman, said in a statement. Under the rules of the Senate, “neither Drilon nor the subcommittee can cite anyone in contempt and order their arrest,” he said, referring to the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III that is investigating allegations of corruption in the construction of the P2.28-billion Parking Building. “It has to be the whole committee,” Salgado said, referring to the blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. TG Guingona who is also a Noynoy puppet. It is clear that it is Drilon, as well as Senators Sonny Trillanes, Alan Cayetano and Koko Pimentel, who not only has been violating the law but also think they are above the law, but also that all four of these senators have been abusing their power and positions in the Senate.

Drilon, as the Senate chief, has been most abusive in his acts. He has been acting as if he and he alone, as Senate chief, is empowered to make the decision unilaterally, and he breaks the Senate rules, the law and the Constitution whenever he pleases. Take the time when he unilaterally suspended the two detained senators, after the court ordered their three-month suspension. Yet the rules of the Senate and the Constitution state clearly that it is the members — all of them — who must vote and decide on a member’s suspension or expulsion. Drilon never put this to a vote, claiming that the Senate has no option but to abide by what the court says. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Possible eruption seen with sudden inflation of Mayon’s surface

LEGAZPI CITY, OCTOBER 6, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Cet Dematera – A hazardous eruption might happen soon if the faster increase in the surface inflation of Mayon Volcano continues, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned yesterday.

Phivolcs-Bicol chief volcanologist Ed Laguerta said an inflated surface indicates that magma is being pushed to the surface of the volcano through a degassing process.

Mayon’s surface has inflated by three millimeters in just 10 days, but normally it takes over a year to record at least 10 millimeters of inflation.

“An increase of three millimeters in 10 days is very significant because this indicates that the magma is being pushed to the surface at a faster pace,” Laguerta told The STAR.

“This means that the pressure of magma pushing inside the volcano is so strong that it could inflate the surface to up to three millimeters in a short 10-day span of time,” added Phivolcs volcanologist Paul Alanis.

A sudden drop in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission could also aggravate the restive condition of Mayon.

* Alanis explained that if the SO2 emission suddenly drops and the inflation continues, a stronger eruption looms because the crater of Mayon might have been clogged by the lava dome.

Officials bracing for eruption

Disaster management officials and health officials in Albay province are bracing for a hazardous eruption as the number of evacuees yesterday increased to 12,739 families or 54,537 people.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said provincial officials would not prevent residents near the danger zones from voluntarily evacuating should they feel that this is the best thing to do.

Salceda also thanked the national government for immediately releasing food and other assistance to evacuees that amounted to P134 million as of yesterday.

The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, gave assurance that supplies and manpower have been “pre-positioned” to help evacuees.

“Our Albay office had already pre-positioned anything that may be needed, from water to medicines,” DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said in a press briefing.

Medical teams are now on guard for possible outbreaks of diseases at evacuation centers, particularly upper respiratory tract infections and diarrhea. So far, the DOH has not observed any unusual increase in cases at any evacuation center.

The Department of Education, on the other hand, will build temporary learning spaces worth around P18 million to augment the need for classrooms as many schools are being used as evacuation centers. – With Sheila Crisostomo

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

PHL suspends improvement of structures in West PHL Sea amid case vs. China By AMITA LEGASPI, GMA NewsOctober 3, 2014 11:02am 165 24 0 196


In this photo taken on August 14, 2014, Aquino leads the ceremonial distribution of assault rifles at the AFP Headquarters. In front of him is Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. Photo by Robert Viñas/Malacañang Photo Bureau

While China continues with the construction of structures in the highly-contested Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine government held in abeyance the improvement of its structures in the islands it occupies to avoid tension.

No less than President Benigno Aquino III ordered the status quo in the areas claimed by the Philippines, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told the Senate finance committee Friday during the hearing on the proposed Defense Department budget for 2015.

“We got specific instruction from the President not to desert the status quo. We have funds for the improvement but this is now being held in abeyance because of the case we have filed. It might affect the case that we have filed before the international tribunal,” Gazmin said.

One of the projects still awaiting the President’s go-signal is the improvement of the dilapidated Pag-asa airstrip.

In 2013, the Philippines formally brought its long-standing territorial dispute with China before the international tribunal.

In June 2014, the Arbitral Tribunal ordered China to respond to the Philippines’ claim that it is illegally occupying at least eight shoals, reefs and similar features in the West Philippine Sea belonging to Filipinos. China, however, refused to take part in the arbitration proceedings.

Aside from the Philippines and China, other countries claiming ownership over islands in the West Philippine Sea—a major trading route where undersea oil and gas deposits have been discovered—are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The budget hearing is ongoing as of posting time. —KG/RSJ, GMA News

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Loyalists won’t give up PNoy 2 By Rio N. Araja, Maricel V. Cruz | Oct. 04, 2014 at 12:01am

Set off drive for 8m signatures to show public support


One more? Members of the Movement for Reform Continuity and Momentum wear and hold up T-shirts urging President Benigno Aquino IIII to run for another term in 2016. Manny Palmero

DESPITE a recent survey showing 62 percent of Filipinos oppose a second term for President Benigno Aquino III, a group of loyalists on Friday launched a drive to collect 8 million signatures from now until Nov. 30 to urge him to seek re-election.

Melvin Matibag and RJ Echiverri, both lawyers and lead conveners of Movement for Reform, Continuity and Momentum (More2Come), said the most viable way to effect a second term for the President is through a constituent assembly in which Congress will propose an amendment in the Constitution to lift the one-term limit on the presidency.

“The President with his allies can deliver the necessary numbers to carry the amendments in both Houses,” Matibag said.

The group said they are behind a full-page advertisement pushing for another six-year term for the President.

Matibag is a former general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority during the Arroyo administration.

“Popular support for this move, which we feel is already there, can be harnessed through a signature campaign to gather 8 million signatures asking him to run again,” Matibag said.

He said the President is an honest man, and that he must sustain the momentum and continuity of his Tuwid na Daan or straight path of good governance.

More2Come urged all Filipinos to support their call for a term extension for the President.

“More2Come believes that if all who see the benefits of his leadership band together, it will be an irresistible force which even President Noynoy Aquino is bound to follow,” Matibag said.

The signature campaign has started in the National Capital Region.

“We will first gather an initial of 2 million votes for Metro Manila until Nov. 30, during which we will be presenting them to the President on Bonifacio Day,” he said.

* Echiverri, a defeated mayoralty bet in Caloocan in the 2013 local elections under the Liberal Party, said the signature drive has nothing to do with the party, but is an initiative of lawyers.

“I am no longer part of any political party, When I lost in the elections, I already lost contact with them (LP). This is a personal decision,” he said.

Matibag denied they are being funded by the government.

On Friday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said he was sure the President was reading the surveys and would listen to what the people say.

He also said the President was averse to any constitutional amendment to allow him to run again.

In the House, opposition lawmakers urged the President “to stop hallucinating” about seeking a second term, given the results of the recent Pulse Asia survey.

At the same time, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent minority bloc, urged the President to heed the call of is “bosses” and not push his luck beyond 2016.

“The bosses say no to second term for the President. Isn’t it loud and clear? Better for the proponents to back off now so that we will not divide the nation once again,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez said some of Aquino’s allies were pushing Charter change because they are afraid of facing charges after the President’s term expires on June 30, 2016.

“The biggest problem of the administration is that if their presidential candidate would not win because surely, they would face charges. These people are afraid of losing power and that is the very reason why they are trying very hard or dead set in pushing the second term for the President,” Romualdez said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, member of the Makabayan Bloc, said the latest Pulse Asia survey indicating that six out 10 Filipinos do not want President Aquino to run for a second term in the elections reflects “the clear sentiments of the majority of our people.”

“Unfortunately, for an administration that does not want to become a lame duck in the run-up to 2016 and for a President who wants to escape accountability, such a clear message is immaterial and of no use,” Zarate said.

“The Aquino administration is clearly in a make-believe mode now and out of touch with reality,” he said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, also member of the Makabayan bloc, said the Filipino people will clearly oppose President Aquino if he seeks re-election.

Instead of listening to his chums, buddies and former classmates, he should start firing them, Colmenares said.

“President Aquino should wake up from his day dreaming and instead concentrate on solving the country’s problems,” he added

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, members of the House minority bloc, said that any attempt of the President to stay in power beyond 2016 would be opposed by the people.

Bello also said that the Pulse Asia survey result was “expected” as the public appeared to have learned from history.

Albano said it is best for President Aquino to stay focused on attending to pressing issues and problems facing the nation.

The Pulse Asia survey, conducted from Sept. 8 to 15, showed that an even bigger majority – 70 percent – rejected Aquino’s attempts to limit the powers of the Supreme Court to review the actions of the Executive.

Opposition to a second term for President Aquino was highest in Luzon excluding Metro Manila, at 71 percent. In Metro Manila, it was 67 percent; in Mindanao, 52 percent; and in the Visayas, 50 percent.

Some 63 percent of respondents from Class A, B, and C households rejected a second term for the President. For class E, the poorest of the poor, the figure was 65 percent; for Class D, 61 percent. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

Senate to OK special powers By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 5, 2014 - 12:00am 4 65 googleplus0 1


THE SENATE

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate is expected to approve this month a joint resolution granting President Aquino the authority to contract additional generating capacity to address a looming power crisis in the summer of 2015.

“We will work to finish this before the end of October so that the President would be given the power and the DOE (Department of Energy) could buy or rent the generating sets to provide the necessary power supply from March to July of next year,” said Drilon.

The Senate committee on energy, which is headed by Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, is working on the joint resolution.

Drilon earlier expressed reservation on the proposal, saying it would entail a lot of funds for the government.

He is now saying that the grant of emergency powers for the President would cover the shortfall of 300 megawatts in March and April. He said DOE estimates showed that the total shortfall could be as high as 800 MW.

Drilon said the Malaya geothermal plant in Rizal – which is expected to be operational next year – and big businesses that pledged to help out under the interruptible load program (ILP), would reduce the shortfall to 300 MW.

The ILP involves asking the private companies, particularly big commercial establishments such as malls, to operate their generator sets at certain periods so that the demand on distributors such as the Manila Electric Co. could be reduced.

However, Osmeña is not convinced that there is a need to purchase or lease generator sets as proposed by the DOE.

He added that these generator sets should be able to produce at least 2,000 MW.

Osmeña also noted that representatives of big businesses gave their commitment to the ILP.

He said Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla expects only 180 MW from the private sector under the ILP but members of the Makati Business Club assured him they could guarantee at least 400 MW.

Osmeña said he is not satisfied with 400 MW, and would push for 800 MW, which he said the existing generator sets in Luzon could provide.

He said the government should trust the private sector to fulfill their commitments under the ILP.

“Secretary Petilla has been saying ‘I don’t believe them.’ But there are certain times that you must take people’s word for it; that they won’t suck up a huge chunk of power from Meralco,” he said.

He said the demand for up to 400 MW during summer is natural, and would be covered by new power plants. With the uncertainty surrounding Malaya plant’s operation early next year, he said the total shortfall would be around 1,000 MW.

Osmeña said the ILP could cover the shortfall, adding paying the private firms is cheaper than bringing in new generation sets.

* He said the “capacity fee” for bringing in new generator sets would be around P35 per kilowatt-hour, excluding the fuel requirements. He said it would also mean higher electricity bills.

P600-M subsidy

As this developed, three congressmen asked the executive branch to extend a P600-million subsidy to rehabilitate electric cooperatives whose facilities had been damaged by Typhoon Glenda.

“Typhoon Glenda… left 18 electric cooperatives in five regions with hundreds of millions in losses due to damage on substations, sub-transmission lines and distribution lines,” Reps. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol, Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro and Michael Angelo Rivera of 1-CARE said.

The three congressmen are authors of a resolution urging the President to order the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to extend the subsidies to the affected electric cooperatives.

They said electric cooperatives in the Bicol region suffered the most damage, followed by those in Southern Luzon, Central Luzon and the provinces of Samar and Leyte.

“Electric cooperatives are designed not to earn profit so these cannot build up funds to respond to natural disasters such as typhoon and earthquakes. The operation of an electric cooperative severely damaged by a natural calamity puts its integrity to a challenge,” they said.

Sorsogon II Electric Cooperative suffered P122.8 million worth of damage, followed by Camarines Sur I Electric Cooperative, with P89.7 million.

In Southern Tagalog, the cooperatives that reported damaged facilities were those in Batangas, Quezon and Oriental Mindoro, and in Pampanga and Zambales in Central Luzon.

In Region 8, the Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative estimated damage to its assets at less than P1 million.

Sufficient supply

Meanwhile, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said the NGCP’s power reserve is sufficient to cover Luzon’s power needs.

She said the Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 outlook shows a 1,437 MW gross reserve.

The NGCP’s gross reserve for Luzon was pegged at 1,658 MW as of Sept. 28; 1,573 MW (Sept. 29); 1,469 MW (Sept. 30), and 1,407 MW as of Oct. 2.

Alabanza said the power outlook depends on actual power system conditions. “What also changes decisions particularly on the part of government is the condition of power generation plants like if one or two plants collapse or are undergoing repair,” she said.

To ensure reliable power supply, Redi Allan Remoroza, NGCP transmission planning department head, said the erection of towers and power line installation of the 118 kilometers 230-kilovolt (KV) Santiago-Tuguegarao Line 2 project are ongoing.

He also mentioned the 64-kilometer Tuguegarao-Magapit 230 KV Line, installation of a 100-megavolt ampere transformer in Tuguegarao City and the replacement of destroyed and rotten poles in Solana, Cagayan and Tabuk City in Kalinga. – With Jess Diaz, Artemio Dumlao

FROM THE TRIBUINE

Anti-Binay drive gets lift from CoA Written by Tribune Wires Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00

CAYETANO LOCKS ON OVERPRICED HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT

The demolition operations against Vice President Jejomar Binay continued yesterday as a Senate prober leading the chamber’s investigations on the 2016 survey frontrunner is now angling on the supposed overpricing of Makati City hospital equipment, the report for which came from Palace ally Commission on Audit (CoA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza.

The Senate probe started from the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 before branching out to other supposed irregularities in a shotgun-like campaign against Binay and members of his family.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Makati City residents had been short-changed of healthcare benefits after the CoA supposedly bared an overprice of more than 9,000 percent in several hospital equipment purchased by the local government.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, steered clear from the issue of the blue ribbon sub-committee continuing with its investigation on the alleged overpriced Makati City hall parking building last Thursday, even jumping on other
matters not related to the issue, despite the pending appeal questioning its jurisdiction.

The chair of the mother committee, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III has acknowledge the fact that the jurisdictional challenge raised by Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay should be resolved by all of the panel members.

“This means only small change reached residents of Makati due to the huge overprice overprice according to the CoA,” Cayetano said.

In a statement, Cayetano said Mendoza revealed during Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing that several medical equipment purchased by the local government of Makati during the term of Dra. Elenita Binay, wife of the Vice President and mother of incumbent Mayor Junjun Binay, were overpriced by more than P61.2 million.

Mendoza during the hearing claimed being harassed by unnamed personalities in her supposed audit of Makati City transactions.

Cayetano claimed Mendoza said a special task force discovered that medical equipment purchased for the Ospital ng Makati back in 2000 to 2001 were bought for P70.56 million when the actual worth was only P9.31 million.

“What is also appalling are the purchases of the following: autoclaves/sterilizer for P1,465,000 when the price is only P16,000 l; fetal monitoring system for P2,680,000 but originally priced P538,000; regular hospital bed purchased at P148,000 and priced at only P9,032.76; ICU bed for P545,000 when its price is only P34,123.76; Orthopaedics bed for P480,000 when it is only worth P24,087.36; ultrasound machine priced at only P1,299,750 abd purchased at an overpriced P7,980,000; and hospital cabinets worth only P2,258 purchased at P17,850,” Cayetano said.

The senator renewed his challenge for Binay to produce his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) despite that has been met after Binay had submitted his SALn and tax documents since 1988.

* Cayetano also said Binay should subject himself to questioning from the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee.

Cayetano said it was the residents of Makati who suffered because of the “pattern of corruption” under the leadership of the Binay family.

“The matter is in the hands of the (sub)committee. The (sub)committee has decided to proceed with the hearing. That was the decision of the (sub)committee. It is not within the authority of even the Senate president to block or stop a public hearing of a resolution,” Drilon said in answering queries regarding the move of the said panel to proceed with the hearing during a radio interview.

The matter of hunting down, following the issuance of subpoena or show cause order by Senate probers to those who have repeatedly snubbed the hearings, is a process internal to the committee, Drilon emphasized.

“It is not possible for the Senate president to overturn a decision of a committee. That is our rule (like for instance in the) citation for contempt. If the main committee rules there is basis for contempt, that can’t be changed. If the main committee decides there is no basis for contempt that also can’t be revised,” he explained.

The sub-committee is being chaired by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III while Guingona is the Blue Ribbon chairman.
Even Sen. Nancy Binay, one of the blue ribbon committee members who had since decided to inhibit from the proceedings involving some of her family members, is questioning the move of Pimentel following Guingona’s pronouncements that the issue on the jurisdictional challenge should be resolved by the entire panel.

And there is already a pending jurisdictional challenge with the mother committee. So that challenge is now with Guingona. And I think Guingona should convene the Blue Ribbon committee to decide on the jurisdictional challenge,” Sen. Binay said in a separate interview.

The matter of her taking part in deciding on the jurisdictional challenge, despite her inhibition from the proceedings, will be studied first by her lawyers, she said.

“If Guingona calls a meeting of the Blue Ribbon committee, let’s see if I will attend,” she added.

Guingona has issued a statement last Thursday saying that he, along with Blue Ribbon committee lawyers, are carefully studying the legal pleading of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and said a decision will be made on the matter by Tuesday.

“I don’t think the lawyers can decide on the jurisdictional challenge. We are a collegial body. It will not only be the chairman who will decide. That will be voted on. So as of the moment, I have not received a notice that there would be a hearing or a meeting on Tuesday by the blue ribbon committee,” she said.

Drilon belied the charges hurled at him by the Binay camp that he allegedly threatened to detain those who continue to defy the subpoenas of the sub-committee, including Mayor Binay.

“They are not being threatened. Somebody asked me about the process, so I have to go through the process that is being followed. What was presented to media, that I have no control on. I only answered a question about the process in the Senate which in any instances, which is part of due process – a chance is given a resource person to explain the reason for failing to appear during an inquiry. If the explanation is sufficient there is no problem. Now, if what was given is not reasonable, the Senate committe will ask again for the resource person to appear,” he said.

“If the reason given again is not sufficient, the committee is compelled to cite in contempt which is based on our mandate,” he said. Angie M. Rosales

FROM THE INQUIRER

Binays hit back at Drilon; Follow your own rules, senators told
By Kristine Felisse Mangunay |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:00 am | Sunday, October 5th, 2014


Drilon-Binay

No one is above the law, yes, so follow your own.

This was the reply of the Makati City government on Saturday to Senate President Franklin Drilon’s statement on Friday that the Senate would compel Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and other city officials to testify if they continued to snub summons to an inquiry into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

“Drilon says that no one is above the law. We agree, and that includes the senators,” Joey Salgado, city spokesperson, said in a statement.

Under the rules of the Senate, “neither Drilon nor the subcommittee can cite anyone in contempt and order their arrest,” he said, referring to the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III that is investigating allegations of corruption in the construction of the P2.28-billion parking building.

“It has to be the whole committee,” Salgado said, referring to the blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.

Talking to reporters in Pasay City on Friday, Drilon said the subcommittee would accept a “proper explanation” from Binay and the other city officials of why they had not been appearing at the inquiry.

“But should they insist and say, ‘We don’t want to appear before the blue ribbon, that’s unacceptable. No one is above the law,” Drilon said.

If they continued to ignore summons, “the committee will be compelled to detain them until they testify,” he said.

Drilon said there was jurisprudence sustaining the Senate’s power to compel witnesses to testify at a hearing.

Question of jurisdiction

Binay and other Makati City officials appeared in just one hearing called by the subcommittee. They filed a challenge to the jurisdiction of the subcommittee and never again showed up for hearings.

The subcommittee is studying the challenge, but has not suspended the hearings.

Salgado said that under Senate rules, a “jurisdictional challenge has to be resolved by the whole committee” and “not by one senator or a subcommittee.”

Drilon agreed, saying the Senate would “follow the procedure.”

Speaking to the Inquirer by telephone on Saturday night, Drilon said the blue ribbon committee would decide whether it’s the committee of the whole or the subcommittee that should resolve the jurisdictional challenge.

* Binay, through his lawyers, filed a motion on Wednesday requesting the blue ribbon committee to assess and rule as a whole on the jurisdictional challenge filed on Sept. 25.

Binay’s lawyers slammed what they said was the “arbitrary, capricious and whimsical act” of the subcommittee in proceeding with the hearings without resolving the challenge.

“All we want is for Drilon and the subcommittee to follow their own rules,” Salgado said.

In the first place, he said, Binay “has presented a reasonable appeal to the Senate blue ribbon committee to desist from its inquiry… Because after all the Ombudsman now has jurisdiction over the related plunder case.”

Plunder complaint

Salgado was referring to the plunder case filed in July by Renato L. Bondal and Nicolas “Ching” Enciso VI against Binay, Vice President Jejomar Binay and other Makati City officials.

They said the contract for the Makati City Hall Building II—described in the complaint as “the most expensive parking building in the entire country, if not the entire world”—was supposed to have amounted to only P245.56 million but was overpriced by more than P1.314 billion.

In a separate statement, United Nationalist Alliance interim secretary general JV Bautista described the manner by which “administration senators” handled the Senate investigation as “hypocritical, abusive and a clear example of politically selective prosecution.”

According to Bautista, Drilon, Pimentel, and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV are “skillfully bending Senate rules,” changing these as the proceedings go “to suit their agenda.”

“It is clear to the people that [Drilon] and the senators who are persecuting the Binays keep on saying that [people] should follow the law but they are the ones themselves who are violating their own rules and regulations,” Bautista said.

He said the senators could “no longer” convince the people that what they were doing was “in aid of legislation.”

After all, he said, the main reason the “subcommittee zeroed in” on the elder Binay is that he has announced he will run for President in 2016.

Political circus

“So this is all political. This is a political circus. They are using this subcommittee hearing as a platform as I said to destroy reputations, to besmirch reputations, to destroy the political chances of the Vice President,” he said.

“They said it themselves: The only reason they’re conducting this is because Vice President Jojo Binay said he’s running for President. In other words, if Jojo Binay did not announce that he will run for President they will not engage in this muckraking,” Bautista said, adding that Cayetano, who has expressed an intent to run for President, and Trillanes of having “transformed the Makati inquiry into a platform for political vilification and vendetta.”

He said the “fact that there are only three of them who are now holdouts” was “already a statement that their fellow senators do not care about what they’re doing.”

Bautista said the senators were “trying to divert public attention from” the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), President Benigno Aquino III’s economic stimulus plan that the Supreme Court struck down on July 1.

He singled out what he said were the “billions that Drilon, Cayetano and Trillanes got in exchange for their votes in (former Chief Justice Renato) Corona’s impeachment” under the program.

“They portray themselves as upright, especially Drilon and Cayetano, while the people know that they are also involved in the [pork barrel] scam and other controversies,” he said.

‘Runaway’ committee

According to Bautista, the subcommittee is a “runaway,” as it “has gone beyond legislative functions to the point that its members are already acting as judges.”

Bautista slammed the conduct of Trillanes, Cayetano and Pimentel, who he said have “prejudged the investigation, including the personalities mentioned by supposed witnesses.”

“They (the three senators) have prejudged the outcome of the Senate inquiry by stating the officials, including (former Makati) Vice Mayor (Ernesto Mercado), were involved in irregularities,” Bautista said.

Mercado has appeared before the subcommittee and testified that Vice President Binay, when he was mayor of Makati, received 13 percent of the cost of infrastructure projects in the city.

Mercado also said the elder Binay used dummies to acquire real-estate property in Makati now worth P1 billion and businesses that were not reflected in his financial disclosures.

‘Dead wrong’

As for Drilon, Bautista said the Senate president was “dead wrong” in upholding Pimentel’s decision to proceed with the inquiry despite the jurisdictional challenge pending on the mother committee.

“[What we have] is a runaway subcommittee and we are questioning its jurisdiction and its power to proceed with its hearing. They are railroading this hearing even in the existence of jurisdictional challenge,” he said.

Bautista said Mayor Binay was “not acting above the law,” when he filed the challenge, but was “actually invoking his constitutional rights and redress based on the Senate rules, which the subcommittee continues to violate.”

DBM yet to resubmit corrections to budget bill; House panel deems errata withdrawn By XIANNE ARCANGEL,GMA NewsOctober 2, 2014 11:59pm 0 9 0 21 Tags: Department of Budget and Management


AQUINO, ABAD

The Department of Budget and Management has yet to submit the errata it wants to include in the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015, almost a week after the House of Representatives approved the proposal on second reading.

House Appropriations committee chair Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab told reporters Thursday that the sub-panel formed to tackle amendments to the 2015 spending plan considers the DBM’s errata officially withdrawn as of Thursday since it has not yet returned the document to the committee secretariat.

DBM submitted the corrections at around 6 p.m. of September 26 but later withdrew the documents, Ungab said.

“The official stand of the committee was that [the errata] was withdrawn by the DBM because until now, hindi naman nila ibinalik [sa amin],” he said.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has yet to respond to GMA News Online regarding the DBM's plans for submitting the errata to the House again.

He earlier said the errata only seeks to correct typographical errors and some miscalculations of figures. The corrections do not include changes to the definition of savings and new insertions of items not included in the general appropriations bill deliberated by the House, Abad said.

“They (corrections) are not substantive in the sense that you are changing definitions. We already proposed that, and that is already in the 2015 NEP (National Expenditure Program), which was approved on second reading,” he said.

Following the controversy surrounding the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program, DBM changed the definition of savings in the 2015 NEP to mean portions of allocations that "have not been released or obligated" due to "discontinuance or abandonment of a program, activity or project for justifiable causes, at any time during the validity of the appropriations."

Porous power of the purse

The new definition, however, is being challenged by the seven-member Makabayan bloc in the House.

* In a letter sent to Ungab Wednesday, the progressive lawmakers said the new definition of savings “renders the power of the purse of Congress porous at the least and void at its worst.”

“The President can declare as savings a whole item or appropriation (not just a portion of appropriation due to efficiency in project implementation or unfilled/vacant position in government) if the President decided to discontinue the PAP any time or the agency failed to obligate the PAP (program activity or project) in the middle of the fiscal year,” they said.

The Makabayan bloc wants the definition of savings in the 2015 national budget replaced with the meaning Congress legislated in the current General Appropriations Act.

The 2014 national budget defines savings as funds that are still available after the completion, or final discontinuance, or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized."

The sub-panel tasked to tackle amendments will meet next week to deliberate anew on the 2015 national budget, Ungab said. — JDS, GMA News

70,000 houses for typhoon victims to be constructed next year – Abad By ELIZABETH MARCELO, GMA NewsSeptember 30, 2014 7:31pm 484 14 0 513 Tags: Department of Budget and Management , typhoon yolanda


ABAD

About 70,000 housing units are set to be constructed next year for the victims of typhoons and other natural calamities, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said Tuesday.

At the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) P1.4-billion proposed budget for 2015, Abad said P30 billion in the 2015 national budget has been allocated to the calamity fund, of which P20 billion will be used to provide shelter for calamity victims.

“I recently had a meeting with rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and I found out that lots have already been secured, geo-hazard planning has already been conducted and the beneficiaries have already been listed,” Abad said.

He said an additional P1 billion from the calamity fund will be used for the rehabilitation and repair of establishments damaged by recent typhoons.

NDRRMC, NHA

Abad added that the calamity fund is set to be released to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), while the housing project will be implemented by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The beneficiaries of the housing project will be the victims of calamities in the last quarter of 2013 and the current year, he said.

Several disasters displacing thousands of residents and resulting in millions in property damage have occurred recently, including the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in central Visayas last October; Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas region a month later; Typhoon Glenda in July this year and Tropical Storm Mario last month. — BM, GMA News

OPINION FROM THE TRIBUNE

Drilon et al., above the law Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00

Senate President Franklin Drilon, along with three other senators, is certainly abusing his power and position as the upper chamber’s chief, no matter his, and Noynoy three attack dogs in the Senate denials.
Drilon and the blue ribbon sub-committee have been breaking their own rules, and all in aid of a political demolition job on Vice President Jojo Binay and his family members.
Drilon, reacting to the refusal of Makati Mayor Junjun BInay to attend the hearings while issuing a jurisdictional challenge, warned the mayor, saying that he can be cited for contempt and detained in the Senate until he agrees to testify. He then added: “No one is above the law.”
The Binay camp had an answer. “Drilon says that no one is above the law. We agree, and that includes the senators,” Joey Salgado, Makati City spokesman, said in a statement.
Under the rules of the Senate, “neither Drilon nor the subcommittee can cite anyone in contempt and order their arrest,” he said, referring to the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III that is investigating allegations of corruption in the construction of the P2.28-billion Parking Building.
“It has to be the whole committee,” Salgado said, referring to the blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. TG Guingona who is also a Noynoy puppet.
It is clear that it is Drilon, as well as Senators Sonny Trillanes, Alan Cayetano and Koko Pimentel, who not only has been violating the law but also think they are above the law, but also that all four of these senators have been abusing their power and positions in the Senate.
Drilon, as the Senate chief, has been most abusive in his acts. He has been acting as if he and he alone, as Senate chief, is empowered to make the decision unilaterally, and he breaks the Senate rules, the law and the Constitution whenever he pleases.
Take the time when he unilaterally suspended the two detained senators, after the court ordered their three-month suspension.
Yet the rules of the Senate and the Constitution state clearly that it is the members — all of them — who must vote and decide on a member’s suspension or expulsion. Drilon never put this to a vote, claiming that the Senate has no option but to abide by what the court says.
* But if that were so, why then do the House leaders insist on having the entire membership to vote on the suspension of the former President, Gloria Arroyo, as this is the rule and the law as stated in the Constitution?
The answer to this of course, is that Drilon, who is a major Liberal Party player in their demonic plot to demolish the Vice President’s electoral chances in 2016, as well as wipe out the political opposition, knows that Binay should become president, not only will the LP be wiped out politically, but more importantly for Drilon, he will be just a senator and no longer the Senate president when the new Congress comes into the picture, in July 2016.
In much the same way, Drilon is again acting unilaterally when he says that the demonic subcommittee hearings headed by Pimentel, who has an ax to grind against Binay for having formed his own party, leaving his PDP without any members, has the power to reject the jurisdictional challenge of Mayor Binay, when in fact, the rules not only allow a jurisdictional challenge and a suspension of the hearings, but also state that it is the entire membership of the blue ribbon committee, and not just the subcommittee, which creation is also questionable, that must vote on this challenge.
Drilon and the demonic senatorial trio have the gall to claim that it is the Binays who act as if they are above the law, when it is Drilon and his LPs and allies in the Senate who have been abusing their powers and violating their own laws and rules?
They are so desperate at retaining their powers after 2016, since they never had it so good and so greatly funded under a vindictive Noynoy presidency, that they have broken all rules, along with ethical conduct, and all in the hope for political perpetuity.
For shame.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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