PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

ERAP TO DECLARE 4-DAY HOLIDAY IN THE CITY FOR POPE 

NOV 26 --Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will declare a four-day holiday in the city during the visit of Pope Francis from Jan. 15 to 19 next year, and plans to ask the pontiff to “save” the city government from bankruptcy. Estrada explained that the city government has to ensure the security of Pope Francis when he visits the Manila Cathedral, the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the residence of the Papal Nuncio in Manila. “We are ready to secure Pope Francis. The security preparations for him are coordinated efforts between the local and national level. We have been closely coordinating with both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military,” Estrada told The STAR. “We also have to secure the devotees who will sleep or stay in vigil during the pope’s visit,” he added. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Church distributes 78,000 tickets for Pope's Mass in Leyte

NOV 25 --The Archdiocese of Palo has distributed over 78,000 tickets to parishioners who will attend the Holy Mass that will be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Tacloban airport January next year, a Church official said on Wednesday. Reverend Father Cris Militante, media coordinator for the Papal visit of the Archdiocese of Palo, said in an interview with Church-run Radyo Veritas that they are expecting around 1,000 representatives from the different parishes in Leyte to attend the event. The tickets, though not required, will serve as passes for people who would fill up the main quadrangle of the venue, the prelate said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: 1,200 youths led by 2 orphans to welcome Pope Francis

NOV 26 --Some 1,200 youths led by two orphans will greet Pope Francis when he arrives in the Philippines for his apostolic visit in January. “When he disembarks from the plane, 1,200 young men and women will greet him with vibrant music and dance. Two children will offer him flowers. They [are] orphans who have come to know God as our Father through the love and care of selfless men and women,” said Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, chair of the papal visit’s arrival-departure committee, in a statement. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO To a standing ovation) Pope tells Europe leaders: ‘Man forgetting God leads to violence’ and ‘Arms race one of greatest curses’ 

NOV 26--PHOTO: POPE FRANCIS --IN a speech Tuesday to the European Union Parliament and later in another speech to the Council of Europe, Pope Francis—the first non-European head of the Roman Catholic Church in 1,200 years—reminded some of the most powerful persons in our planet that “man’s forgetfulness of God leads to violence” and told them that “the arms race is one of the greatest curses on humanity.” In Strasbourg, France, Pope Francis said he came as a pastor with “a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe.” He said: It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: PH economy slows down sharply in third quarter

NOV 28 ---The Philippine economy grew in the third quarter at its slowest pace in nearly three years due to weak public spending, putting at risk President Benigno S. Aquino III’s goal of boosting the nation’s annual expansion to a record by 2016. The country’s economy, as measured by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 5.3 percent from July to September this year, a significant decline from the 7.0 percent in the same period last year, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed. But despite the slowdown, the Philippines is still among the fastest-growing economy among major Asian nations, but behind China, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

The Philippines aims to increase its GDP by 8.5 percent when President Aquino’s term ends in 2016. “The third-quarter economic performance shows a mixed picture of the private sector treading a more stable upward trajectory, government adjusting to new spending protocols, and then, the lingering negative impact of typhoon Yolanda and other calamities,” Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Palace tags SC's DAP ruling for PHL economic slowdown 

NOV 28 --Malacañang on Thursday partly attributed the Philippines’ slower economic growth during the third quarter of the year to new “spending protocols,” triggered by the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was partially unconstitutional. At a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government spending had to be adjusted after the high court ruled in July against certain acts under the Aquino administration’s controversial economic stimulus program. “Kinakailangang mag-adjust sa mga spending protocols dahil sa kagustuhan na tiyakin ‘yung compliance with the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling,” Coloma told reporters. Socioeconomic Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier in the day said the Philippines was now the fourth fastest growing economy next to China, Vietnam and Malaysia.

(ALSO) Lawmakers’ poser: Where did money go? Rehab efforts ‘can’t be felt, seen’ in Yolanda-hit areas 

NOV 29--PHOTO: Situation bleak. Senator JV Ejercito (third from right), Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (left), Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (third from left), Rep Alfred Benitez (fourth from left), and Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte
(fifth from left) visit super typhoon Yolanda’s survivors inside a tent in San Jose, Tacloban City to assess their situation. Ver Noveno ---An administration senator and the head of the independent bloc at the House of Representatives on Thursday demanded that concerned government agencies account for the billions of pesos supposedly spent for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-stricket areas.

The survivors under the People Surge Alliance trooped to the public hearing hosted by the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement on Thursday at the UP Tacloban College headed by Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito, Senator Bongbong Marcos, Rep Alfred “Albee” B. Benitez Negros Occidental, 3 Chairman, Housing and Urban Development,Rep Ferdinand Martin “FM” Romuladez, Leyte, Lone District and Rep. Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte, Quezon City,

“It is disgusting that President Aquino and his rehab stooge Panfilo Lacson came out too late with their rehab master plan 10 months after Yolanda’s landfall, and approved this only as a political gimmick in time for the Yolanda anniversary. Now they are doing the rounds of shelter turnovers that are mere PR stunts aimed at defusing the anger of Yolanda survivors,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Gov’t urged to resolve pork barrel scam to save Noy’s rating -New York based ThinkTank

NOV 20 --New York-based think tank Global Source Partners Inc. said the current administration should resolve the pork barrel scam issue if President Aquino wants to save his falling popularity ratings. In a report, Global Source said the President should refocus on his administration’s reform agenda before his term expires in 2016. “The best case all around is a quick, satisfactory resolution of a complex issue that safeguards the image of the President as one hewing to the straight and narrow, thus allowing him to refocus on his reform agenda in the short time remaining in his term and to pave the way for a beneficial 2016 political transition,” former Finance Undersecretary Romeo S. Bernardo and economist Marie Christine Yang noted on behalf of Global source.

After majority of the administration’s bets won in the mid-term elections earlier this year, the analysts said they expected the President to pursue the “harder reforms” in order to push the economy into a “higher and more inclusive growth trajectory.”  READ FULL BUSINESS REPROT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

ERAP to declare four-day holiday in Manila for pope

MANILA, DECEMBER 1, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Jose Rodel Clapano - Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will declare a four-day holiday in the city during the visit of Pope Francis from Jan. 15 to 19 next year, and plans to ask the pontiff to “save” the city government from bankruptcy.

Estrada explained that the city government has to ensure the security of Pope Francis when he visits the Manila Cathedral, the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the residence of the Papal Nuncio in Manila.

“We are ready to secure Pope Francis. The security preparations for him are coordinated efforts between the local and national level. We have been closely coordinating with both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military,” Estrada told The STAR.

“We also have to secure the devotees who will sleep or stay in vigil during the pope’s visit,” he added.

Estrada also said he would kiss the hand of Pope Francis and would ask for his blessing to enable the city government to recover from the bankruptcy that was left by his predecessor.

“I will ask him to save us from bankruptcy. I will ask for blessings from him to bring back the old glory of the city. We have the Domingo de Ramos (for former president Fidel V. Ramos), Sabado de Gloria (for former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) and ‘Happy Esterada’ (referring to Easter for himself). I must have my own, not only for FVR and Gloria,” Estrada added in jest.

The PNP earlier activated its Joint Task Force Papal Visit 2015 to ensure public safety during the papal visit. The Presidential Security Group was tapped to serve as close-in security for the pope’s entourage.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for its part, has formed the Task Force Phantom that will serve as motorcycle escorts for the convoy of the pope. The task force will also hold direct traffic and crowd control in areas to be visited by the pope.

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the unit is composed of 15 MMDA personnel and 15 members of the PNP Highways Patrol Group, and they completed their training yesterday.

Pope Francis is also scheduled to visit survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte, and he will hold an open field mass near the Tacloban airport.

For this reason, the military’s security preparations involve dealing with possible threat scenarios while the pontiff is in Manila and in Leyte, a senior intelligence official said.

But the intelligence official said so far, the military has not monitored any threat.

Before the visit to Manila of the late Saint Pope John Paul II in 1995 for the celebration of World Youth Day, a plot to assassinate the pontiff was unearthed.

The plot, which was part of Oplan Bojinka involving al Qaeda-linked terrorist Ramzi Yousef, was disrupted after a fire at the Doña Jose Apartments along Quirino Avenue in Manila drew the attention of the PNP.

The police recovered in the area evidence detailing the plot to assassinate the pope. With Perseus Echeminada, Jaime Laude, Evelyn Macairan


FROM PHILSTAR

Church distributes 78,000 tickets for Pope's Mass in Leyte By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated November 26, 2014 - 3:35pm 5 7 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Archdiocese of Palo has distributed over 78,000 tickets to parishioners who will attend the Holy Mass that will be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Tacloban airport January next year, a Church official said on Wednesday.

Reverend Father Cris Militante, media coordinator for the Papal visit of the Archdiocese of Palo, said in an interview with Church-run Radyo Veritas that they are expecting around 1,000 representatives from the different parishes in Leyte to attend the event.

The tickets, though not required, will serve as passes for people who would fill up the main quadrangle of the venue, the prelate said.

"Dadalhin po ito ng mga representatives ng mga parokya kasi as of now nakikita namin na we were requiring at least 1,000 representatives from every parish dito sa Archdiocese of Palo. We have more than 78 parishes and mission stations na pupuno doon sa area pero hindi naman ibig sabihin nun na kung sino lang yun mapipili eh sila lang ang maiimbitahan sa Misa, sila lang po ay may space sa loob ng apron na ikwa-quadrants namin," Father Militante said.

"Yung ticket po mamimigay po kami ng ticket as sort of identification just to control, just for the purpose of crowd control dun po sa apron pero hindi yun for sale, hindi yun for VIP’s but just to control yung mga tao na papasok sa quadrants na ipo-provide natin sa loob ng apron area," the prelate added.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Palo is continuously coordinating with authorities for the security of the Pope who will be attending several gatherings in Leyte.


FROM THE INQUIRER

1,200 youths led by 2 orphans to welcome Pope Francis Tina G. Santos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:35 PM | Thursday, November 27th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – Some 1,200 youths led by two orphans will greet Pope Francis when he arrives in the Philippines for his apostolic visit in January.

“When he disembarks from the plane, 1,200 young men and women will greet him with vibrant music and dance. Two children will offer him flowers. They [are] orphans who have come to know God as our Father through the love and care of selfless men and women,” said Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, chair of the papal visit’s arrival-departure committee, in a statement.

“We shall be welcoming the Holy Father at dusk on Jan. 15, but despite the gathering in darkness, we plan to brighten the night with the warmth of our love,” Mercado added in a statement read by Fr. Joselito Jopson, ministry of media and public affairs director of the Diocese of Pasig.

Jopson said the welcoming rites for the Pope would be simple.

“It would be very simple but the protocols for welcoming a state leader will be observed. We’ll add a little bit of warmth like the flowers … enough to really get the message across,” Jopson said, adding that the youth who will welcome the Pope are students from various schools.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Pope tells Europe leaders: ‘Man forgetting God leads to violence’ and ‘Arms race one of greatest curses’ November 26, 2014 10:25 pm by ARCANGEL M. PASTORES


Pope Francis

IN a speech Tuesday to the European Union Parliament and later in another speech to the Council of Europe, Pope Francis—the first non-European head of the Roman Catholic Church in 1,200 years—reminded some of the most powerful persons in our planet that “man’s forgetfulness of God leads to violence” and told them that “the arms race is one of the greatest curses on humanity.”

In Strasbourg, France, Pope Francis said he came as a pastor with “a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe.”

He said:
It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life.

It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity.

I feel bound to stress the close bond between these two words: “dignity” and “transcendent”.

“Dignity” was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War. Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in contrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries.

Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterized as it is by an enriching encounter whose “distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them”, 2 thus forging the very concept of the “person”.

Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age.

In the end, what kind of dignity is there without the possibility of freely expressing one’s thought or professing one’s religious faith?

What dignity can there be without a clear juridical framework which limits the rule of force and enables the rule of law to prevail over the power of tyranny?

What dignity can men and women ever enjoy if they are subjected to all types of discrimination?

What dignity can a person ever hope to find when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival and, worse yet, when they lack the work which confers dignity?

Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests.

At the same time, however, care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse.

Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a “monad”, increasingly unconcerned with other surrounding “monads”. The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights.

As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.

I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the “all of us” made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. 3 In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence.

To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that “compass” deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation.4 Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation.

In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future.

This loneliness has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful.

In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a “grandmother”, no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.

Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings.

5 Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.

* * *

The EU Parliament members applauded the Pope 14 times. They gave him a standing ovation after his address. He then departed to give his address to the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe has 47 member states, of which 28 are members of the EU.

He told his audience, “ The Church is convinced that the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured.”

He also berated human` trafficking which “turns persons into merchandise for trade and deprives its victims of all dignity.”


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

PH economy slows down sharply in third quarter by Chino Leyco November 28, 2014 Share this:

The Philippine economy grew in the third quarter at its slowest pace in nearly three years due to weak public spending, putting at risk President Benigno S. Aquino III’s goal of boosting the nation’s annual expansion to a record by 2016.

The country’s economy, as measured by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 5.3 percent from July to September this year, a significant decline from the 7.0 percent in the same period last year, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed.

But despite the slowdown, the Philippines is still among the fastest-growing economy among major Asian nations, but behind China, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The Philippines aims to increase its GDP by 8.5 percent when President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

“The third-quarter economic performance shows a mixed picture of the private sector treading a more stable upward trajectory, government adjusting to new spending protocols, and then, the lingering negative impact of typhoon Yolanda and other calamities,” Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

The third-quarter expansion was well-below analysts’ expectations, with a Reuters poll of economists forecasting annual growth at 6.6 percent, the slowest since the 4.0 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

Since the Aquino administration took office in 2010, the government has consistently failed to meet its monthly spending target, especially after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Balisacan said public construction contracted from a double-digit growth of 19.1 percent to -6.2 percent in the third-quarter this year due to lags in the submission of documentary requirements for spending by the government agencies.

“Although this year, the General Appropriations Act (GAA) is now considered a release document, for certain big-ticket items, the GAA stipulates certain conditions prior to budget release,” Balisacan said.

In the quarter ending September, growth was driven by manufacturing, trade, real estate, renting and business activities, and construction. The slowdown in sub-sectors such as financial intermediation and contractions in agriculture and public administration “tempered the pace of growth.”

The agriculture sector also held down the country’s economy during the quarter, with agri spending dropping 2.7 percent. Crop production, which accounts for 44.5 percent of the total output of the sector, contracted 5 percent, with losses from palay, corn, coconut, and other crops.

“Palay production was adversely affected by typhoons Glenda and Luis and the onset of habagat. Regarding coconut, farms in the Visayas are yet to recover from typhoon ‘Yolanda’ in addition to the scale insect infestation,” Balisacan said.

With the slowing economy, Balisacan said, the government’s growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year will be very challenging. From January to September this year, the Philippines’ average economic growth was 5.8 percent.

To hit even the low end of the target growth rate for the year, “we need to grow by at least 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter, and we at the DBCC will brainstorm intensively on how we can come as close to this figure as possible,” Balisacan said.

The DBCC or the Development Budget Coordination Committee is an interagency body that sets the country’s macroeconomic assumptions.

Despite the disappointing GDP growth, Balisacan remains optimistic that the nation’s future remains bright.

“Expect the private sector to maintain our robust performance. Government will have adjusted to the new protocols, and we see this in the most recent preliminary data coming from the DBM. The reconstruction assistance in Yolanda-affected areas is already gaining traction,” Balisacan said.


FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Palace tags SC's DAP ruling for PHL economic slowdown By ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NewsNovember 27, 2014 5:40pm 39 2 1 45 (Updated 7:43 p.m.)


Coloma

Malacañang on Thursday partly attributed the Philippines’ slower economic growth during the third quarter of the year to new “spending protocols,” triggered by the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was partially unconstitutional.

At a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government spending had to be adjusted after the high court ruled in July against certain acts under the Aquino administration’s controversial economic stimulus program.

“Kinakailangang mag-adjust sa mga spending protocols dahil sa kagustuhan na tiyakin ‘yung compliance with the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling,” Coloma told reporters.

Socioeconomic Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier in the day said the Philippines was now the fourth fastest growing economy next to China, Vietnam and Malaysia.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), "Government Final Consumption Expenditures declined by 2.6 percent in 2014 from 7.0 percent in the previous year due to the delays in the disbursement of major government expenditures for salaries and wages as well as maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for the implementation of programs and projects of the major sectoral departments."

In the second quarter, the Philippines matched the growth rate of Malaysia as the second fastest in Asia next to China.

"The third quarter economic performance shows a mixed picture of the private sector treading a more stable upward trajectory, government adjusting to new spending protocols, and then, the lingering negative impact of typhoon Yolanda and other calamities," Balisacan said.

The third quarter gross domestic product was slower than the actual 6.4 percent in the second quarter, coming from 6.9 percent a year earlier.

Contracting by 2.7 percent, the biggest decline was observed in the agriculture, fishery and forestry sector, Balisacan said.

The latest growth rate was also slower than the median estimate of 6.28 percent from a poll of five analysts and economists polled by GMA News Online.

The actual 6.4 percent growth in the second quarter was confirmed on Wednesday by the PSA.

Last July, the SC declared as unconstitutional certain acts under the DAP, such as the pooling of savings before yearend and the transfer of funds from one government branch to another.

The high court's ruling is currently under appeal by the executive.

'State of paralysis'

Coloma's statement seemed to affirm President Benigno Aquino III's warning, issued in July following the Supreme Court's ruling, that the court decision on DAP could put the country's economy in a "state of paralysis."

"We are getting there. Unfortunately, the effects of the Supreme Court decision run the risk of putting our country’s development in a state of paralysis—or worse, reversing the massive progress we have already made," Aquino said in a speech before business leaders on July 15.

Aquino said the SC's decision on DAP "will have a chilling effect on our economy."

In his briefing on Thursday, Coloma said the administration needed a supplemental budget, which had already been requested by theDepartment of Budget and Management from Congress, to continue some projects suddenly left with allocations from the DAP.

Coloma, nevertheless, admitted that a direct correlation between the striking down of the DAP and slower economic growth had yet to be established.

Earlier in the day, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported a slower 5.3-percent economic growth for the Philippines in the third quarter of the 2014.

The Philippines also fell to fourth place among Asian economies, after being the second fastest growing economy in the region during the second quarter of the year.

Lingering impact

Aside from having to adjust to the Supreme Court ruling, Coloma also linked the country’s reduced economic growth to the “lingering negative impact” of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which devastated central Philippines in November last year.

The Palace official further said the government remains confident that it will be able to achieve its 6.5-percent economic growth target for the year.

“Nananatiling optimistiko ang ating pananaw, sapagkat ang performance ng private sector ay patuloy pang nagiging masigla, at inaasahan natin ‘yung paggugol ng nalalabing mga pondo na appropriated para sa 2015 ay mapapabilis ng iba’t ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan,” Coloma said. —KBK/NB/ELR, GMA News


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Lawmakers’ poser: Where did money go? Rehab efforts ‘can’t be felt, seen’ in Yolanda-hit areas By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Joyce P. Panares, Maricel V. Cruz, Ronald O. Reyes and Mel Caspe | Nov. 28, 2014 at 12:01am


Situation bleak. Senator JV Ejercito (third from right), Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (left), Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (third from left), Rep Alfred Benitez (fourth from left), and Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte
(fifth from left) visit super typhoon Yolanda’s survivors inside a tent in San Jose, Tacloban City to assess their situation. Ver Noveno

An administration senator and the head of the independent bloc at the House of Representatives on Thursday demanded that concerned government agencies account for the billions of pesos supposedly spent for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-stricket areas.

Senator “Chiz” Escudero, who heads the Senate Finance Committee conducting the hearing on the P23.4 million supplemental budget, said he would ask where the P137 billion in 2013 and 2014 went.

“Had we spent that much for the Yolanda affected areas?” Escudero.

“Quite frankly, I don’t see, it, I don’t feel it and certainly the people in Region 8 don’t see it and feel it either,” he added.

Escudero said P37 billion was allocated for post-Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction in 2013 while P100 billion was included in the 2014 national budget.

He added that the agencies should first explain where the money went before his commmitee would tackle the supplemental budget submitted by Malacanang.

Independent bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, on the other hand, said he would examine in particular documents coming from the Departments of Budget and Management (DBM), Energy (DoE), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Housing Authority (NHA), to ascertain where the budget, including foreign donations, went.

Romualdez, along with other members of the bloc, made the statement despite the claim of presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, former Senator Panfilo Lacson that Leyte got the biggest budget from the government coffers among those affected by the typhoon.

Romualdez said the group will also ask a formal explanation from these departments itemized breakdown or accounting of the ‘Yolanda’ funds.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz noted that the Romualdez’s group and several other lawmakers have already filed resolutions seeking a full auditing of the Yolanda funds; and yet the agencies concerned seemed to be not responding to the call.

Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza reminded the public that ‘Yolanda’ funds, as reported in the media, were “in the tens or hundreds of billions”, including donations and aid from the private sector and international communities.

Atienza said Congress alone approved 14.6 billion supplemental budget for ‘Yolanda’ and other victims of calamities last year.

“But up to now, he said Congress has no idea about the breakdown of how the funds were spent,” Atienza said.

Escudero, meanwhile, also questioned if there is a need for a supplemental budget and why the DBM did not include the amount in the 2015 proposed national budget in the first place.

But Senate President Franklin Drilon said he sees no hindrance in the passage of the supplemental budget next month, because there is a carryover next year.

He said there is no need to justify that the fund was used up.

“The supplemental is for future needs. This is not a condition that the previous appropriation has been exhausted, because it is possible that in the inadequacy of budge, a new appropriation is being requested,” he added.


PNoy's Rehab Czar Lacson

Lacson, meanwhile, insisted that Leyte has received a funding of P8.09 billion, which was the biggest among the areas battered by Yolanda.

Of the total amount, Lacson said P3 billion went to infrastructure projects; P 367.44 million for social services; P 4.01 billion for resettlement; and P 714.73 million for livelihood assistance.

“Based on these figures, Tacloban City has received the most funding support from the national government for its rehabilitation needs,” Lacson said.

He noted that the P8.09 billion funding translates to half of Tacloban City’s requested and approved total funding requirement estimated at P 15.73 billion.

“Through this funding support, several projects are already ongoing or have been completed. Among these are the ongoing repair of Tacloban Base Port and Daniel Romualdez Airport which is targeted to be completed by the end of 2014,” Lacson said.

The repair of the city hall, civic center and public market, funded through the Department of Interior and Local Government, are all ongoing, Lacson added.

Lacson said the DSWD has begun distributing Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) to affected households with partially and totally damaged houses in safe areas of Tacloban City. ESA distributions will amount to P 315.55 million.

Lacson said various livelihood efforts have also been implemented, including Cash for Building Livelihood Assets (CBLA) assistance to 9,725 families; employment program for 1,151 beneficiaries; and repair or replacement of damaged fishing boats for 547 fishermen.

“All targeted 14,433 permanent housing units for Tacloban City are already funded with the total amount of P 4.01 billion. As of today, 1,124 housing units have been completed and 5,526 are being constructed with target completion in 2015,” he said.

“Tacloban is only one of the 171 cities and municipalities directly affected by Yolanda. We are ensuring that all areas in the Yolanda corridor will get the assistance they need,” Lacson added.

Lacson’s claims, however, were decried by a group of Yolanda survivors as “too late” and were mere “publicity stunts” during their presentation of a “dismal state of homelessness” at the Senate on-sit hearing at the University of the Philippines-Tacloban


COMPASSION, NO POLITICS: In solidarity, national and local leaders such as Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Bongbong Marcos, Congressman Manny Pacquiao, Senator Dick Gordon and the Philippine Red Cross with Former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada extended their true and hands-on support. Their concern comes from a heart of compassion, empathy and getting things done for recovery.. “No politics, just plain and simple generous help”

The survivors under the People Surge Alliance trooped to the public hearing hosted by the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement on Thursday at the UP Tacloban College headed by Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito, Senator Bongbong Marcos, Rep Alfred “Albee” B. Benitez Negros Occidental, 3 Chairman, Housing and Urban Development,Rep Ferdinand Martin “FM” Romuladez, Leyte, Lone District and Rep. Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte, Quezon City,

“It is disgusting that President Aquino and his rehab stooge Panfilo Lacson came out too late with their rehab master plan 10 months after Yolanda’s landfall, and approved this only as a political gimmick in time for the Yolanda anniversary. Now they are doing the rounds of shelter turnovers that are mere PR stunts aimed at defusing the anger of Yolanda survivors,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge.

In a position paper submitted to the Senate Committee, the People Surge cited recent studies by non government organizations on the current state of rehabilitation in Eastern Visayas. Citing data from the independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, a total of 1,200,000 homes were destroyed or damaged.

there are still over 250,000 families or more than 1,300,000 people living in evacuation centers, tent cities, bunk houses, and settlements in ‘no-build zones.’ The national government was able to construct only 364 homes in Tanauan and Tacloban, Leyte.

The group also cited in the paper the findings of the Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines in a rehab study covering upland, lowland, urban, and coastal ecosystems. A specific and serious shelter concern raised was the No Dwelling Zone (NDZ) policy, which seeks to prohibit residential infrastructure within 40 meters from the coastline. Residents across 33 barangays in Tacloban City attest to not being informed or consulted regarding the NDZ, and are presented with no feasible relocation alternatives.

The survivors’ alliance called for a genuine pro-people reconstruction program to be ensured by the state responsibility and not delegated to private profit-motivated interests. They_ demanded for a housing program with ensured access to livelihood and social services, resiliency standards-, and people’s control and participation. They also reiterated their demand for the scrapping of the No Dwelling Zone policy.

In the same committee hearing at, OPARR Undersecretary Leslie Cordero admitted that Tacloban residents will have to wait for three years before the National Government could finish the 14, 433 total number of housing needs for the city alone.

Cordero cited the same figures released by Lacson, but with more details that include budget by tranches coming from the National Housing Authority (NHA) amounting to P13Billion; P80.31B to be released on the year 2015 and P25.92Billion for 2016 respectively.


FROM PHILSTAR (BUSINESS)

Gov’t urged to resolve pork barrel scam to save Noy’s rating By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 18, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


AQUINO

MANILA, Philippines - New York-based think tank Global Source Partners Inc. said the current administration should resolve the pork barrel scam issue if President Aquino wants to save his falling popularity ratings.

In a report, Global Source said the President should refocus on his administration’s reform agenda before his term expires in 2016.

“The best case all around is a quick, satisfactory resolution of a complex issue that safeguards the image of the President as one hewing to the straight and narrow, thus allowing him to refocus on his reform agenda in the short time remaining in his term and to pave the way for a beneficial 2016 political transition,” former Finance Undersecretary Romeo S. Bernardo and economist Marie Christine Yang noted on behalf of Global source.

After majority of the administration’s bets won in the mid-term elections earlier this year, the analysts said they expected the President to pursue the “harder reforms” in order to push the economy into a “higher and more inclusive growth trajectory.”

“To be sure, the economy still has momentum going for it and is shielded to some extent from the political mayhem as remittance and BPO (business process outsourcing)-driven consumption growth can be expected to keep it chugging along as before,” Bernardo and Tan said.

“Thus, even in a worst case scenario in which the government is paralyzed by a tug-of-war between the elected leaders’ inability to let go of an age-old system of patronage and the popular clamor to abolish pork barrel altogether, and with the President losing the moral high ground and unable to sway public opinion, economic growth remains likely to continue, albeit below par.”

The economy expanded by 7.6 percent in the first half of the year, above the government’s six to seven percent growth target.

The government said economic growth this year is still expected to settle within the target despite the devastation suffered by the Visayas region during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Bernardo and Tan noted that the government’s efforts in its relief and rescue operations following Typhoon Yolanda will also weigh in Aquino’s diminishing popularity with the Filipinos.

“How the President handles the tragedy from Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), with millions of lives at stake and the world watching closely, can also spell the difference between his ability to continue governing effectively or losing credibility and becoming a feckless and increasingly lame-duck president,” the analysts said.

They noted that with the declining popularity of Aquino, who usually gets relatively high approval ratings, his “anointing power” will be useless come 2016 when the people votes for their next president.

As such, the scenario increases uncertainty whether the current reforms and policy enacted and being pursued by his government will be carried over after Aquino’s term.

“Given these, even as we expect growth to stay above trend in the short-term, we think that maintaining the current high consumer and business optimism may become more challenging, a risk to sustaining high economic growth further out,” Bernardo and Tan said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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