Rainy opening of classes tomorrow – Pagasa By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 31, 2015 - 12:00am
A young boy shields himself from the rain. AP/Wally Santana
MANILA, Philippines - Major parts of the country should expect a possible downpour during the opening of classes tomorrow due to thunderstorms.
Based on the extended weather outlook released by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), major cities in the country were forecast to have partly cloudy skies with rain showers or thunderstorms tomorrow.
A similar situation is expected across the country today, the weather bureau said.
Meanwhile, several areas in the country experienced heavy downpour yesterday afternoon.
PAGASA issued a thunderstorm advisory past 1 p.m. for Metro Manila, Quezon, Zambales, Bataan, Laguna, Batangas, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan.
The weather bureau likewise issued an advisory for residents in Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Lanao del Sur, Bohol, Leyte and nearby areas.
“All are advised to take precautionary measures against heavy rains, strong winds, lightning and possible flash floods,” state weather forecasters said.
Ilocos Norte launches garlic ‘buy-back’ trading scheme by Freddie G. Lazaro May 31, 2015
GARLIC GALORE IN ILOCANDIA – Farmers haul voluminous bundles of garlic during the launching of the garlic buy-back trading scheme in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. The scheme was launched to provide farmers an ideal and stable market for their harvest. (Freddie G. Lazaro)
Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte – The provincial government of Ilocos Norte launched its buy-back trading scheme for locally produced garlic to assure its market with negotiable price during its harvest season here.
Millennium Development Goals Office chief Edwin Cariño said the trading scheme was formally started in Pasuquin town. Forty five percent of the province’s garlic is harvested in the municipality.
“This is the first time that we implemented a garlic buy-back scheme in Ilocos Norte where the provincial government will buy garlic produce from the local growers and sell them to the national market,” he explained.
The formal launching of the program in the town was held on May 20, 2015 in time of the Manang Imee’s Capitol Express.
During the launching of the program, the provincial government initially purchased a total of 38,860 kilograms of garlic in assorted classes worth of P3 million.
Class 1 garlic was acquired at P84.00 per kilogram, Class II at P77.00 per kg and Class III at P70 per kg.
HIGH QUALITY SEEDS
It was reported that whatever gain earned by the provincial government from the new scheme will eventually be felt by garlic farmers through the procurement of high quality seeds stocks for distribution.
Last year, the provincial government started to distribute 25 kilograms of quality garlic seed stocks to the selected farmers to enhance the quality of locally- produced garlic.
After the harvest season, the farmers came up with 25 kilograms quality seeds for distribution to other farmers.
“With this strategy, the harvest of quality garlic in the province is almost doubled this year as compared last year. In fact, over 4,000 tons of garlic stocks in the whole province are primarily coming from Pasuquin, Bacarra, Vintar and Pinili,” Cariño added.
TOP GARLIC PRODUCER
Considering Ilocos Norte is the country’s leading garlic supplier, producing 69 percent of total national requirement, Cariño said that provincial government is intensifying its efforts to further strengthen the production in the province as well as sustain the livelihood of Ilocano farmers.
“Governor Imee Marcos aims to promote and widen the market of garlic and the good news is that there are at least three potential big companies who are interested to partner with us,” he disclosed.
However, Marcos believed that under the “buyback” scheme, the industry will not only sustain its demand in the national market but also provide sustainable income to the local producers.
“With garlic being one of the priority cash crops in the province, the provincial government in cooperation with partner institutions also strives to develop sturdier as well as new and more productive varieties,” Cariño added.
Most Filipinos, Mindanao folk don’t want BBL By Joyce Pangco Panares | Jun. 01, 2015 at 12:01am
Happier times. Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and members of the government panel meet in Malacanang Palace during the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro as President Aquino looks on approvingly in this photograph taken last March
MAJORITY of Filipinos reject the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and they include those who live in Mindanao and are supposed to be its beneficiaries, the results of the first Standard Poll showed.
The poll, conducted by resident pollster Junie Laylo from May 8 to 18, also found that 63 percent of the Filipinos surveyed do not believe the Moro Islamic Liberation Front truly represents the Bangsamoro people.
At least 54 percent of the respondents said they disagreed with passing the BBL while 44 percent said they would still disagree with the measure even if it was amended to correct its unconstitutional provisions.
Even the respondents from Mindanao, who are supposed to benefit directly from the Palace-backed measure, were against it, with 52 percent saying they did not want it passed.
Once enacted, the BBL will pave the way for the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF, abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and establishing another political entity to be called the Bangsamoro.
Malacañang has pinned its hopes on the passage of the BBL by June 11 or before Congress adjourns. But this early 12 senators have already submitted a committee report saying the only way the draft measure could withstand legal scrutiny before the Supreme Court was to revise it.
The survey also showed that 60 percent of the Filipinos polled did not believe it was right for the proposed Bangsamoro government to have exclusive devolved powers.
The majority of the respondents (62 percent) also rejected the proposal that the Bangsamoro have its own constitutional bodies similar to the Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections and the Ombudsman.
At least 59 percent of the respondents across all geographical areas also believed the creation of the Bangsamoro would go against the Constitution.
Across the country, less than a fifth of the respondents expressed confidence that the passage of the BBL would bring lasting peace in Mindanao, while only 20 percent said the measure would help lessen or even stop the armed encounters between the military and Muslim rebels.
The Standard Poll also looked into the trust ratings of the four major movers of the BBL: presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles, government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim, and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
The survey showed that Iqbal was the most distrusted, with all four of them getting negative net trust ratings: Deles at -27, Ferrer at -34, Murad at -41, and Iqbal at -44.
As an organization, the MILF received negative net trust ratings of -50 percent (12 percent “much” trust, 62 percent “little” trust).
Even in Mindanao, where the MILF has its stronghold, 50 percent of the respondents said they distrusted the group.
The majority of the respondents (59 percent) also said they were skeptical of Malaysia as a third-party broker of the peace talks given its territorial claim to Sabah.
The poll had a sample size of 1,500 with 300 respondents each from the National Capital Region, North/Central Luzon, South Luzon/Bicol, Visayas and Mindanao.
The Standard Poll had error margins of +/- 3 percent for the national result and +/- 6 percent for the regional results.
All regions were represented in the survey.
Laylo, The Standard’s in-house pollster, has 25 years of experience in political polling and strategic research.
Crime lord paid BBL ‘payola’ to guarantee swift BBL passage? By Christine F. Herrera | Jun. 01, 2015 at 12:01am
Mug shot. This photo from the Chinese Embassy in Manila shows Wang Bo, the alleged crime lord who coughed up “millions” that supposedly ended up in the pockets of lawmakers to guarantee the swift approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
THE Aquino administration used funds from an alleged Chinese crime lord to raise campaign funds for the ruling Liberal Party and to guarantee the swift approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), The Standard learned Sunday.
Lawmakers received millions in hard cash from Monday to Wednesday last week, shortly after Wang Bo, who is wanted by Interpol and the Chinese government for allegedly embezzling $100 million, was ordered released by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, highly reliable sources said.
“Unknown to the lawmakers, the funds they are receiving from the Palace to change their votes and blindly pass the BBL came from the leader of a crime syndicate in China,” a high-ranking official at the BID, who requested anonymity, told the Manila Standard.
“The BID officials... violated the deportation order issued on March 5 upon the request of China as they reversed themselves and issued a release order on May 21 to let Wang walk, instead of turning him over to the Chinese authorities,” the official added.
But a protest by the Chinese Embassy in Manila stopped the release of Wang, who now remains in BID custody.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte immediately dismissed as “an absolute lie” that lawmakers were paid off to vote for the BBL.
“I will resign if anybody can prove that PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) promised even one centavo for a BBL vote,” Belmonte told the Manila Standard.
Wang, 31, was apprehended at the airport when he arrived from Malaysia on Feb. 10, after he was found to be in the blacklist and in possession of a cancelled passport, the immigration official said.
“Wang became a free man. They returned to him his cancelled Chinese passport and restored his status as a businessman, like he was never a fugitive from justice,” the official added.
The release order for Wang was issued even though the government was aware that his passport had been cancelled, that he was wanted by Interpol, and had a pending warrant of arrest in China for crimes that are punishable by death, the source said.
Official records, copies of which were furnished the Manila Standard, show the release order was issued by the three-member Board of Commissioners on May 21.
The Board of Commissioners was led by BID Commissioner Siegfred Mison with Deputy Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilberto Repizo as members.
Before the May 21 board meeting, Mangutara and Repizo reportedly had a private meeting with Wang’s representative, sources said.
“In that meeting, Mangotara and Repizo hinted they were to raise funds for the President’s BBL campaign in Congress,” said the source, who was privy to the meeting.
“At least P100 million was committed for the entire BID... while some $10 million or P440 million (at P44 to a dollar) would be allocated for some 292 lawmakers. The amount for the senators was not discussed,” the BID official said.
After that meeting with Manalo, Mangotara and Repizo pushed for the complete reversal of the board’s March 5 deportation order in favor of a May 21 release order.
The Chinese Embassy protested the release order and sent Police Attache Fu Yunfei to the BID and reiterated that Wang was “a fugitive from justice, an undocumented alien, involved in illegal gambling, possessed a cancelled passport, and poses a threat to public interest.”
On May 26, Fu also submitted to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima documents showing that Wang was suspected of opening casinos in transnational network gambling and is wanted by China to face the death penalty.
On May 27, De Lima issued an order to hold in abeyance the May 21 release order and to uphold the March 5 deportation order.
“I precisely ordered to hold in abeyance his release to pave the way for his eventual deportation. The board of commissioners originally ordered his summary deportation but subsequently reversed itself when it granted Wang Bo’s motion for reconsideration and directed his release from detention,” De Lima said in a text message to The Standard.
“I had to intervene so as to prevent his release. Otherwise, it would be difficult to locate him for deportation as requested by the Chinese Embassy. Now reviewing his case on appeal to DOJ,” she added.
The Chinese Embassy asserted that Wang was a threat to public interest and safety and that his passport had been cancelled.
“Wang is wanted in China with an arrest warrant for illegal gambling. Wang’s presence in the Philippines poses a risk to public interest,” the Chinese Embassy told Philippine officials.
Wang, through his counsel Dennis Manalo, denied the charges against him.
Wang has been in the country since 2008 and has been a holder of a visa since 2009.
Wang said his ELC Technology Consulting Co. Inc. is compliant with all Philippine government requirements and has been granted special incentives to operate in the Cagayan Economic Zone.
Wang was charged for allegedly being a key player in the gambling company named Skybet in Manila and was suspected of opening casinos in transnational network gambling.
Happier times. Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and members of the government panel meet in Malacanang Palace during the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro as President Aquino looks on approvingly in this photograph taken last March.
Special Prosecutor Antonio Rivera said there was a presumption of truth and accuracy in the Chinese embassy’s statements about its own nationals.
“The presumption stays unless the alien submits evidence to the contrary,” Rivera said.
“Thus, the statement from the Chinese Embassy constitutes substantial evidence that respondent poses a risk to public interest, which makes him undesirable and that he is an undocumented alien,” he said.
He added that if the embassy cancels the passport of an alien, he loses the privilege to enter or remain in the country, opening him up to deportation.
Although Wang’s release was aborted, a House official who asked not to be identified said that “a truckload of money” was delivered to the House in the middle of the night on May 25.
“No wonder that on Tuesday, the 125-member House committee on appropriations and 75-member House committee on ways and means, chaired by Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab and Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, respectively, unanimously approved the Palace-backed BBL,” the source said.
Quimbo’s panel approved the provisions on taxations and grants in the BBL while Ungab’s panel approved the funding, including the block grant, for the Bangsamoro.
A check with the House security showed that the CCTV cameras recording the activities in the rear entrance of the House main building, where the bags of cash were purported unloaded, and the hallways and corridors leading to the Office of the Speaker, where the bags were supposedly taken, had been erased.
The House security personnel manning the CCTV operations said they had run out storage for the real time recordings. The recordings for Monday to Wednesday, a security personnel said, were overwritten.
But Belmonte said the CCTV cameras were defective the day he assumed office.
“Some were working but many were not,” he said.
A House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the contract with the supplier of the CCTV cameras provides that real-time recordings must remain intact for six months before these can be erased.
“They erased the evidence,” the source said.
From Monday to Wednesday, Belmonte, a ranking leader of the Liberals, was busy meeting the lawmakers bloc by bloc, including the party-list groups.
As the House begins its marathon plenary debate on the BBL this Monday, party stalwarts and party whips have been at odds over the “sudden conversion” of lawmakers opposed to the passage of the BBL.
A high-ranking official of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, an ally of President Aquino, said only four of the 44 NPC members were in favor of passing the BBL last Monday.
“From four in favor on Monday, the number increased to 12 by Friday evening,” the NPC stalwart told the Manila Standard.
Another member of the 42-strong Visayan bloc, led by Bacolod City Rep. Albee Benitez, said only one was in favor of the BBL, but the number grew to five by Friday.
Benitez said the Visayan bloc will vote as a bloc despite their members’ party affiliations and official stand.
In a meeting on Tuesday, the Visayan bloc members were told to refrain from making public their individual position on the BBL issue.
Since last week, the lawmakers also found themselves getting calls from various agencies that their projects were ready for implementation.
“Except for the funds lodged with the Commission on Higher Education, the rest of the projects such as health, social welfare, infrastructure, livelihood projects, have already been released. Maybe they are withholding the CHED funds because these are for the indigent but deserving scholars and we expect to get it or not depending on our votes in the plenary by June 10 on the BBL,” a lawmaker said.
Philippines remains poorest among Asean 5 economies Written by Benjamin E Diokno Monday, 01 June 2015 00:00
Philippine authorities boast that the Philippines is the fastest growing country in Asean-5. True, but the reality is that it is easier to grow rapidly when one is starting from a low base.
And the inconvenient truth is that the Philippines was,
and remains to be, the poorest among its Asean-5 peers.
The Philippines has a long way to go before it can catch up with its Asean-5 peers, according to the recently released results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.
The results show that the Philippines has the worst unemployment and underemployment problem among Asean-5 economies. In 2014, the Philippines’ unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, much higher than Indonesia’s 5.94 percent, Malaysia’s 2.9 percent, Singapore’s 2.0 percent and Thailand’s 0.84 percent.
Compared to 2014, the 2015 IMD competitiveness survey results are mixed for Asean-5. Indonesia (37 to 42), Malaysia (12 to 14) and Thailand (29 to 30) moved down. Singapore at 3 was unchanged while the Philippines (42 to 41) inched up slightly in ranking.
But from a medium-term perspective, from 2011 to 2015, the
results give a different picture: Malaysia (16 to 14) moved up while there
was no change in ranking for the Philippines (41) and Singapore (3).
Thailand (27 to 30) moved down, but that was because of the series of civil
disturbances in the country, which led to martial rule.
In any event, the Philippines remained the poorest performing Asean-5 country at 41 out of 144 economies.
Studies show that the quality of public infrastructure is a major constraint to long term, sustainable growth. In terms of overall public infrastructure and compared to 2014, the results are also mixed. Indonesia (54 to 56) and Malaysia (25 to 27) moved down. The rest – Philippines (59 to 57), Singapore (10 to 7) and Thailand improved slightly in ranking.
But from a medium term perspective, from 2011 to 2015, the results give a different result: Indonesia (55 to 56) moved down; Malaysia (27) and the Philippines (57) were unchanged in rank; Singapore (10 to 7) and Thailand (47 to 46) moved up in ranking.
Again, the Philippines ranked the poorest among Asean-5 countries in terms of overall public infrastructure.
In the Executive Opinion Survey, respondents were asked to select five that they perceived as key attractiveness factors for the economy.
Below are the top five key attractiveness indicators for Singapore, a first-world economy, in percent. In parenthesis are the corresponding answers for the Philippines, a third-world country.
The incumbent President promised First-World status for the Philippines. But what does it take to reach First-World status?
The stark contrast of key attractiveness indicators for Singapore and the Philippines should be instructive for both present and future policymakers.
Key attractiveness indicators for Singapore:
▪ Policy stability and
predictability, 80.5 percent (for the Philippines, 12.1 percent)
▪ Reliable infrastructure, 61.0 percent (5.6 percent)
▪ Competency of the government, 61.0 percent (7.5 percent)
▪ Business-friendly environment, 56.1 percent (23.4 percent)
▪ Competitive tax regime, 51.2 percent (4.7 percent)
In Singapore, 80.5 percent of respondents see policy stability and predictability as the most attractive factor for the economy.
By contrast, only 12.1percent of the respondents see that as a factor for the Philippines.
By inference, a great majority of respondents find
policies in the Philippines as unstable and unpredictable.
In Singapore, 60.1 percent of respondents identified reliable infrastructure as an attractive factor for the economy, compared to the Philippines’ 5.6 percent.
By inference, a super majority of respondents from the
Philippines opined that infrastructure in the country is deficient and
In fact, the report cited that one the key challenges for the Philippine government this year is infrastructure development. The report concluded: “roads transportation, airports and energy supply are sub-optimal.”
Given the huge infrastructure gap between the Philippines
and its Asean-5 peers, this major challenge will preoccupy not only the
outgoing Aquino administration but future administrations as well.
In Singapore, 60.1 percent of respondents find the competency of government as an attractive indicator for the economy.
By contrast, only 7.5 percent of the respondents in the Philippines found it attractive.
Once more, by inference, a supermajority of respondents
opined that the present administration was incompetent.
Business-friendly environment is an attractive indicator for the economy, said a majority (56.1 percent) of respondents in Singapore said so.
By contrast, less than one in four (23.4 percent) respondents in the Philippines found it an attractive indicator for the economy.
By inference, a great majority of respondents opined that
the Philippines is not a business-friendly country.
In Singapore, a majority (51.2 percent) of respondents find competitive tax regime as an attractive indicator for its economy.
By contrast, only a puny 4.7 percent of respondents in the Philippines found the tax regime as an attractive indicator for the economy.
The harsh truth is that the existing Philippine tax system
is unattractive and uncompetitive compared to its Asean-5 peers.
The results of the IMD world competitive survey are a grim reminder that all is not well with the Philippine economy. Not surprisingly, it has attracted the least foreign direct investments.
Boasting that the economy’s growth in recent years is higher than its historical average has a good ring to it.
But it not a guarantee that the economy might not suffer a
reversal in the future unless existing problems such as policy
inconsistency, unreliable infrastructure, government incompetence,
unfriendly business environment, uncompetitive tax regime, and others are
fully addressed by policymakers.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson aptly remarked: “Great men, great nations have not been boasters and buffoons, but perceivers of the terror of life, and have manned themselves to face it.”
The challenges for the Philippines are formidable.
In order to meet these challenges, the next President
should be experienced and an achiever. He should have the welfare of the 100
million Filipinos in mind rather than the interests of a privileged few.
He should be more of a doer than a talker.
He should be man enough to admit that he is not a one-man
band, that he would need the help of competent men and women with integrity
to run the affairs of government.
Necessarily, he should have the ability to assemble a group of competent and honest men that will form his Cabinet. But he should be self-confident enough to empower his men to do their assigned duties and responsibilities. And with the empowerment, he should also have the will to fire dishonest and incompetent government officials.
Long Way to Go:
Fastest Growing, But Poorest Among Its Peers
Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity) Per Capita US Dollar, 2014
Source: IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015 (Available on request Login required.
Note: GDP (PPP) is gross national product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GNP as a US dollar has in the United States.