PHILSTAR EDITORIAL/OPINION

EDITORIAL: CRUSHING THE ABU SAYYAF   

Abu Sayyaf bandits will be pursued until they are exhausted, and then they will be crushed, President Aquino declared yesterday, a day after an ambush in Basilan left six soldiers dead. If state security forces had delivered on this promise every time it was given by a commander-in-chief in the past years, by now the Abu Sayyaf should have been crushed to a pulp. Instead the bandits continue to sow terror in Basilan and Sulu, targeting teachers and other public servants and kidnapping foreigners and local businessmen for ransom. This time, following the deaths of six soldiers led by 22-year-old Lt. Cresencio Corpuz Jr., President Aquino announced the deployment of several battalions to hunt down the bandits.

He said that at the same time, the government is rushing the completion of a circumferential road that is expected to stimulate commercial activity and bring development to the hinterlands of Basilan. The Abu Sayyaf was reportedly set up by government security forces originally to infiltrate Islamic separatist groups. As with other such groups, however, the Abu Sayyaf eventually went rogue and turned against its handlers. From the early days of the group’s deadly attacks, national leaders and security forces have acknowledged that a military approach alone would not end the threat. Yet the government’s response has been largely confined precisely to the military aspect. That circumferential road has been on the drawing board since US forces helped flush out Abu Sayyaf terrorists led by Khadaffy Janjalani from their jungle strongholds in Basilan in 2002. US soldiers helped upgrade the airstrip in the province and install basic infrastructure such as artesian wells.

Both the national and local governments, however, failed to consolidate the gains of the so-called Basilan model of counterinsurgency. The bandits eventually returned to the province, even as another faction gained strength and reaped enormous profits from ransom kidnapping in Sulu. Certain officials were even accused of being in cahoots with Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. These days security forces are trying to rescue more than 10 mostly foreign captives held by the bandits in Sulu. The promised opening of the circumferential road in Basilan could pave the way for the long-envisioned development of the province. If the administration, now in its last two minutes, wants to make a dent against the Abu Sayyaf scourge, the momentum of development must be sustained. THIS IS THE FULL EDITORIAL.

ALSO by Federico Pascual, Jr: FilAm group wants Binay out, Roxas in 

MOTIVES: Why did Francisco Wenceslao, president of the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa), write that letter (see last Sunday’s Postscript*) warning Vice President Jojo Binay of the dire consequences of amassing ill-gotten wealth? *http://tinyurl.com/o3h5e5m We can discern the motives of Wenceslao by reading his follow-up letter emailed to a Greg Mariano Jr. and shared with the Internet crowd. As we did with his first open letter warning Binay, we run below in full his second letter: * * * “I CONFIRM to have written the letter that originally came out as “An Open Letter to Vice President Binay.” FYI, I’m receiving favorable feedbacks about the letter which you’re free to reprint in any PA publication that will carry it.

At the same, could you please recruit more supporters now that Pamusa is a serious institution. “As to the ultimate fate of Vice President Jojo Binay, based on Pamusa’s research and studies of the international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) such as the UNCAC, OECD, etc. and the PHL-USA Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that permits cross-border investigation, indictment, arrest, prosecution of corrupt public officials including trial in the US and imprisonment if found guilty, Binay should make the greatest political decision of his life soon or he’s facing multiplicity of criminal charges both in the Philippines and the US. Surely, he doesn’t want to be like dismissed CJ Renato Corona who could end his career in the most disgraceful way in jail for tax evasion and unexplained wealth. * * * ---* READ MORE...

ALSO by Jarius Bondoc: LP rackets go on at metro railways; P-Noy has not scolded party mates for bad work, but instead blamed the past admin. 

Separate biddings for the maintenance of two railways in Metro Manila failed in succession last week. No bidders showed up for both the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3. Expect this month’s bidding for the upkeep of LRT-2 to be empty as well. That’s precisely the intent of the Dept. of Transportation and Communications. As biddings flop by design, DOTC bigwigs are able to extend the current maintenance contractors. The contractors are officers of the ruling Liberal Party, of which DOTC Sec. Joseph Abaya is president. The amount for MRT-3’s maintenance was tantalizing: P2.2 billion ($49.2 million) for three years. Yet none of the initially interested firms submitted bids last Oct. 28. They included DMCI Holdings, MiescoRail Inc. (of Meralco), Busan Metro of Korea, Mosa-Inekon joint venture of the Czech Republic, and SMRT International Pte. Ltd.

Sources said the parties found the deal hazy. The DOTC did not answer their basic questions. Like, how many trains are running or busted, how many tracks need replacing, what spare parts are on stockpile, what the DOTC plans about the signaling system. The Bid Bulletin No. 09-2014, posted on the DOTC website, tells it all. In answering the parties’ queries, U-Sec. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla kept pointing them to a 2010 audit. That audit was when Sumitomo of Japan still was servicing the MRT-3. From press reports and MRT-3 managers’ admissions, the rail has since deteriorated under two sets of crony maintainers. Those are: PH-Trams and CommBuilders & Transport, Oct. 2012-Aug. 2013; and Autre Porte Technique and Global Epcom Services, Sept. 2013-present. PH Trams, as exposed in this column, consists of LP members. Chairman Marlo dela Cruz was its main campaigner in Pangasinan in the 2010 and 2013 elections. Incorporator-director Wilson de Vera ran but lost for LP mayor of Calasiao, Pangasinan. Art Soriano, the Pangasinan provincial accountant, is the uncle-in-law of then-MRT-3 general manager Al S. Vitangcol. CB&T’s president, Roehl Bacar, also ran but lost for LP councilor of Mandaluyong City. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Sara Soliven de Guzman: Kickbacks are what they live for 

Why do people run for public office nowadays? Do you really believe they still have the compassion to lead and serve? Sad to say, only a few are sincere. Majority are there for the money. In short, many public officials are fueled by kickbacks. They thrive on government funds. They depend on it for a living. Isn’t it quite obvious? Almost all government projects follow an internal protocol of getting kickbacks that have already become a normal part of the system. I do not understand why the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit are turning a blind eye in several instances to these anomalies. No one is stopping the corruption going on. No one is even checking or controlling the cost of purchases or project costs. Shouldn’t all projects be scrutinized so that the government can save? The BIR keeps on raising our taxes (to collect more funds for government spending) while government does not even practice prudence.

The so-called ‘protocol’ for a total expense package of a government project (in both local and national levels) for instance is said to be divided amongst: (1) the contractor (construction expense); (2) the mayor and the vice mayor; (3) the city councilors; (4) other city officials; and (5) COA representatives not to mention the governor, the congressman and the other departments involve in approving various permits. Different municipalities may vary but more or less this has been a standard practice. Mind you the construction expense is not really as expensive as reflected in the financial statement, in most cases. Kickbacks are what make government purchases or projects more expensive. Everyone is in cahoots in eating the ‘pie’. As we have observed in the Janet Napoles’ and the pork barrel scam cases which even include a list of ‘mighty’ senators. Susmariosep! Now you know how these scumbags are able to build mansions, travel, buy luxury cars, helicopters and jet planes. How can a government official afford the lifestyle of the rich and famous with their official salaries? The law in this country is even too weak to arrest them because most of our legislators are either part of the scam or just too scared to expose the irregularities they see. Of course those involved don’t want to be caught! * READ MORE...

ALSO by Domini Torrevillas: Two days of Pangasinan  

Pangasinan has had a magical hold on me on account of historical events and people skyrocketing to positions of power in the national government, and some individuals who have become close personal friends. The invasion of the Gulf of Lingayen, the province’s capital, has been drummed into our ears since high school. President Fidel V. Ramos is the first Philippine president from Pangasinan (specifically, from the barrio of Asingan in Lingayen). His sister, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, is also from the barrio. Former Speaker Joe de Venecia Jr. served six terms as representative of the 4th district of Dagupan, and House Speaker (1992-1998 and 2001 to 2008), and his wife Georgina “Manay Gina” de Venecia is into her second term as representative of the same district. I’ve swam and grilled fish on an island at the Hundred Islands Park in Alaminos, visited the shrine of the Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario in Manaoag, dined in carinderias and bought bawang and bagoong at the Pangasinan highways on the way to Baguio.

During this last Undas (All Saints and All Souls’ days), my family visited friends in Lingayen, Dagupan and Binmaley. We stayed in the Dagupan compound of the De Venecias which, surprisingly, has not been developed into a swinging resort farm — truly reflective, says my hubby, of the simple lifestyle of the former Speaker. Needless to say, the trained househelp served us good meals, chiefly with fried bangus as the centerpiece. Our first visit was at the Lingayen home of Juris de Leon Vargas, daughter of the late Romy de Leon, founder and president of the Rural Bank of Anda and a close friend of my hubby. Juris, a lively lady, is now president of the bank which has eight branches in the province of Pangasinan. Banking is hard work, Juris told us, but she is pleased that clients continue to grow and avail of the services of the bank. Juris has four children – Judy, who is a Lingayen councilor; Doris, who is vice-president of Rural Bank of Anda-Lingayen branch; Donna Nikki, a third year communication arts student at the UP Baguio, and Marcelino, an eighth grader at a local school.

Councilor Judy is making waves in the local political landscape. At age 25 she is smart and good-looking. She is vice president of the Philippine Councilors League-Pangasinan Chapter, and Junior Chamber International 2015 LO president. She has just been appointed to chair the provincial bagoong festival, a celebration to be held on Jan. 23 which Judy said we should not miss. Judy is mainly responsible for the municipal ordinances passed prohibiting the use of plastic bags in the town and encouraging the production of local handicraft, including bayong. It took a long time for the ordinance to be followed by vendors, she told me, but now everyone is aware of its importance in preserving the environment. Judy has strongly promoted the reproductive health law. It’s important that people have the freedom to plan their families’ size and have access to family planning facilities, she said. Being articulate and hard working, Judy has a bright future as an effective provincial and national executive. * * *  * READ  MORE...

ALSO: Tourism links grow between Canada and the Philippines 

NOV 5 ---PHOTO Column writer Neil Reeder is the current Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines.
It seems that the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” is indeed delivering results based on their latest statistics.
In my recent meeting with Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, he was pleased to say that there were more than 2.8 million visitors to the Philippines in the first seven months of the year generating more than P126 billion in tourism receipts. I was also delighted to see that there is growing tourism traffic between Canada and the Philippines. DOT reported that Canada is the 7th largest source of tourists to the Philippines from January to July this year. More than 86,000 Canadians visited the Philippines, spending almost P5 billion, making them also one of the largest markets in terms of visitor expenditure.

On the other hand, the Canadian Tourism Commission recorded more than 46,000 Filipino tourists visiting Canada from January to July this year. These statistics are only some of the indicators that indeed there is a constant movement of people between our two countries. Last June, the Philippines and Canada signed an expanded Air Transport Agreement allowing for more flights between our two countries. There were close to 430,000 one-way passenger trips taken between Canada and the Philippines in 2013, up 22.5 percent since 2008. The Philippines remains the only ASEAN country with direct links to Canada. Aside from the commercial dimension, we see the promise tourism may bring through our development cooperation program. Canada is helping the Philippines reach its tourism potential by contributing Cad$7 million to a technical assistance project of the Asian Development Bank. The project provides technical assistance to the DOT to improve the competitiveness of the tourism sector as well as the efficiency of the labor market through the implementation of an enhanced Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation system and improved tourism services. * READ MORE...

ALSO Opinion: Brave new world of politics  

In 2016, we will be electing not only the President and Vice President, but also half the Senate, the entire House of Representatives, all the governors, mayors and other local government officials. The common question is, how do we decide whom to support in this coming election? More and more, one criterion I hear about is “winnability.” This says that in selecting a candidate, he or she must have a chance of winning. I suppose that is why many people have decided that their choice will be to elect the “lesser of two evils” and discount those who may be ideal candidates but have no perceived chance of winning. I have been told that politics is a pragmatic game and only realists should play the game. Perhaps I am fortunate that I came from a generation when politics was only for the courageous or the idealists. It meant going against the forces of the Marcos martial law regime.

Perhaps it is because I actively participated in several elections even though we knew we had no chance of winning. In 1978, we campaigned for the LABAN ticket headed by Ninoy Aquino, and we were blatantly cheated and harassed by the KBL and military forces of Marcos. But again in the 1980 local elections we fought against the same forces in a non-violent political struggle which appeared to be a futile endeavour. This time, in the whole Philippines, three opposition leaders were elected — Joey Laurel as Batangas governor; Nene Pimentel as Cagayan de Oro city mayor; and Bono Adaza as Misamis Oriental governor. Then in the 1984 Batasan Pambansa elections, we participated and the opposition — PDP-LABAN and UNIDO – won a few seats. Personally, I was very active in the campaign of Jaime Ferrer, the PDP-LABAN candidate who defeated Roilo Golez, the KBL candidate in the Parañaque-Las Pinas district. Then in the 1986 snap presidential elections, I actively worked in the campaign of Corazon Aquino when she ran against Marcos. Strong forces said that we should boycott the elections, but we heeded the call of Cory Aquino to participate in the elections. After all, the only alternative was a violent revolution.

There are those who believe that politics is a power game and the most important thing about elections is winning and grabbing power. But for those who truly believe in the concept of participative democracy, elections and politics is the advancement and articulation of ideas and idealism. When I broached this idea to a friend of mine, his response was that the Marcosian martial law era was a different time. But I wonder if there is ever an end to the struggle between good and evil. Do we support what is good only if it is “winnable”? Are we, therefore, willing to make democracy a struggle between “two evils”? What then will be the basis of our choice? If the purpose of politics is simply to gain power, and the goal of politicians is to acquire power and influence, what is the objective of those supporting this concept? Do we then we choose the “evil” which will give us the opportunity to have influence? Is politics really meant only for the ruthless, the power hungry and the so-called “pragmatist”? Pope Francis wrote about politics and politicians. I suppose there are those who will say that Pope Francis is too idealistic and, therefore, his words do not have any relevance in today’s world of pragmatic politicians and businessmen.

But, here is what Pope Francis wrote in paragraph 204 of his Papal Exhortations: “I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots — and not simply the appearances — of the evils in our world. Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation, and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” I have been fortunate to meet many politicians who I sincerely believe were in politics because it was a “lofty vocation.” There was Jose Diokno; Lorenzo Tanada; Jaime Ferrer; and Jess Robredo. Then there were Ninoy and Cory Aquino. I believe these politicians are the models for the type of leader Pope Francis wrote about: * CONTINUE READING WHAT POPE FRANCIS STATED...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL - Crushing the Abu Sayyaf

MANILA, NOVEMBER 10, 2014 (PHISTAR) Abu Sayyaf bandits will be pursued until they are exhausted, and then they will be crushed, President Aquino declared yesterday, a day after an ambush in Basilan left six soldiers dead.

If state security forces had delivered on this promise every time it was given by a commander-in-chief in the past years, by now the Abu Sayyaf should have been crushed to a pulp. Instead the bandits continue to sow terror in Basilan and Sulu, targeting teachers and other public servants and kidnapping foreigners and local businessmen for ransom.

This time, following the deaths of six soldiers led by 22-year-old Lt. Cresencio Corpuz Jr., President Aquino announced the deployment of several battalions to hunt down the bandits. He said that at the same time, the government is rushing the completion of a circumferential road that is expected to stimulate commercial activity and bring development to the hinterlands of Basilan.

The Abu Sayyaf was reportedly set up by government security forces originally to infiltrate Islamic separatist groups. As with other such groups, however, the Abu Sayyaf eventually went rogue and turned against its handlers. From the early days of the group’s deadly attacks, national leaders and security forces have acknowledged that a military approach alone would not end the threat. Yet the government’s response has been largely confined precisely to the military aspect.

That circumferential road has been on the drawing board since US forces helped flush out Abu Sayyaf terrorists led by Khadaffy Janjalani from their jungle strongholds in Basilan in 2002. US soldiers helped upgrade the airstrip in the province and install basic infrastructure such as artesian wells.

Both the national and local governments, however, failed to consolidate the gains of the so-called Basilan model of counterinsurgency. The bandits eventually returned to the province, even as another faction gained strength and reaped enormous profits from ransom kidnapping in Sulu. Certain officials were even accused of being in cahoots with Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. These days security forces are trying to rescue more than 10 mostly foreign captives held by the bandits in Sulu.

The promised opening of the circumferential road in Basilan could pave the way for the long-envisioned development of the province. If the administration, now in its last two minutes, wants to make a dent against the Abu Sayyaf scourge, the momentum of development must be sustained.

FilAm group wants Binay out, Roxas in POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual JR. (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 4, 2014 - 12:00am 2 10 googleplus0 0


Federico D. Pascual JR.

MOTIVES: Why did Francisco Wenceslao, president of the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa), write that letter (see last Sunday’s Postscript*) warning Vice President Jojo Binay of the dire consequences of amassing ill-gotten wealth? *http://tinyurl.com/o3h5e5m

We can discern the motives of Wenceslao by reading his follow-up letter emailed to a Greg Mariano Jr. and shared with the Internet crowd. As we did with his first open letter warning Binay, we run below in full his second letter:

* * *

“I CONFIRM to have written the letter that originally came out as “An Open Letter to Vice President Binay.” FYI, I’m receiving favorable feedbacks about the letter which you’re free to reprint in any PA publication that will carry it. At the same, could you please recruit more supporters now that Pamusa is a serious institution.

“As to the ultimate fate of Vice President Jojo Binay, based on Pamusa’s research and studies of the international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) such as the UNCAC, OECD, etc. and the PHL-USA Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that permits cross-border investigation, indictment, arrest, prosecution of corrupt public officials including trial in the US and imprisonment if found guilty, Binay should make the greatest political decision of his life soon or he’s facing multiplicity of criminal charges both in the Philippines and the US. Surely, he doesn’t want to be like dismissed CJ Renato Corona who could end his career in the most disgraceful way in jail for tax evasion and unexplained wealth.

* * *

* “LET ME cite the fates of Panama’s ex-President Manuel Noriega, Ukraine’s ex-PM Pavlo Lazarenko, Guatemala’s ex-President Alfonso Portillo, other disgraced government officials and foreign drug traffickers who committed crimes at home that were also punishable in the US.

“Recall President George H.W. Bush’s invasion of Panama and Noriega’s arrest and jailing which also happened to Lazarenko and Portillo. However, Lazarenko fled to the US to escape the ire of his people and was arrested in San Francisco, tried and convicted and is now in US jail. Portillo was indicted which he fought to no avail, was tried for corruption, money laundering, etc. and convicted and also now in US jail.

“The ICAACs legitimized the US practice of cross-border arrest of foreigners that can now be done to Filipino citizens and corporations (accountable officers) who violated Philippine anti-corruption laws similar to and also punishable in the US that oftentimes extend to violation of related laws.”

* * *

“UNDER these difficult circumstances Binay is in, my advice with copy to him, Makati Mayor Binay Jr., and Sen. Nancy Binay is for the Vice President to give up his aspirations for the presidency and announce his all-out support for the most likely successor of President Aquino — maybe Mar Roxas who’s probably the most decent and best prepared presidential aspirant. Pamusa’s FilAm supporters are overwhelmingly for Roxas remembering his giving way to Aquino.

“Besides, Pamusa is now forming an international anti-corruption team patterned after the World Bank’s International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA) with world-class investigators of organized crime in preparation that next year the G20 Summit may finally add to the ICAACs a mandate for the government concerned to close safe havens for tax and illicit assets in its jurisdiction and territories like the British Virgin Islands, the Caymans, etc. or face sanctions from the remaining G20 members and affiliates.

“Mrs. Imelda Marcos, her children and Kokoy Romualdez’s heirs should carefully consider this, lest they wake up one day and the government of the country where their safe haven is located seize the remaining Marcos ill-gotten wealth.”

* * *

“PAMUSA is likewise finalizing a mode of negotiating ill-gotten wealth settlement from the proceeds of corruption pending commitment of funding by big Philippine businesses which are considering if they will be spared from investigation and forensic auditing of their incredible growth of corporate assets and net worth of the controlling ownership.

“This will be offered to Roxas so that his promise to effectively and meaningfully fight graft and corruption which will still be the No. 1 issue in the 2016 campaign is firmly founded.

“We’ll insist as a condition of Pamusa and me helping in the settlement of corruption of both government officials and private businessmen begin even before the 2016 elections.

“I know Jojo Binay loves this country as everyone and I do. I don’t want him to suffer the same way the really criminally inclined should suffer their due punishment.”

* * *

NOW, DRILON: The filing of plunder charges against Senate President Franklin Drilon et al. alleging, among other crimes, overpricing of the Iloilo convention center has triggered questions similar to those asked of Binay and an allegedly overpriced parking building in Makati.

Like Antonio Pigafetta (kantanod88) asks in an email: “With plunder and graft charges filed against SenPres Drilon, will his allies say again ‘He is innocent until proven guilty’? Will the following show the same rabid aggressiveness to ferret out ‘the truth’ — Morales, De Lima/NBI, Henares, Cayetano, Trillanes, Pimentel, AMLAC, COA, Cong Erice and Palace spokespersons?

“Will they investigate, call the businessmen and contractors involved, make an ocular inspection with media and allot a marathon inquiry and include his immediate family? Will they garnish his bank accounts? I’m not holding my breath.”

SEE THIS THE LETTER AT THE ASIAN JOURNAL BLOG

TRENDING: "An Open Letter to Vice President Binay"

Dear Mr. Vice President:

As your friend since the time we joined Mrs. Cory Aquino’s campaign for President I feel obliged to let you know that as Pamusa’s president I will be involved in investigating, locating and recovering your ill-gotten wealth and of your family members and close associates or the private businessmen and individuals that colluded with you in amassing such unexplained assets beyond the statistical probability of your combined legitimate income since 1986 when you were named OIC in the Office of Makati Mayor.

For clarification, Pamusa is eight years old now as a nonprofit California corporation authorized since 2007 by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) of fighting corruption in our country under international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) of which the Philippines is a signatory such as the UNCAC, OECD, etc., hence they are parts of the law of the land. ICAACs are given focus and enforced under U.S. laws and the U.S. Government’s (USG) National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy. Of course, under the PHL-USA Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which enables cross-border investigation of corruption and narcotic trafficking, which if committed in the Philippines by a Filipino citizen, national or corporation is deemed committed also and actionable in the USA when the offenses are more serious in the latter, and vice-versa.

The USDOJ defines ill-gotten wealth as the proceeds of corruption from "a process or series of actions through which income of illegal origin is concealed, disguised, or made to appear legitimate (main objective); and to evade detection, seizure and taxation.” Hence, putting up dummies as owners of properties actually owned by another, family members or close associates cannot remain hidden because forensic audit and information technology advances can disprove false ownership claim in no time, more so when a dummy learns the legal problems he faces and immediately admits wrongdoing.

It is now a fact of life that the USDOJ investigators’ ability to dig up hidden assets has been progressively enhanced which led to the downfall of corporate America’s big corporations, such as Enron, Worldcom, etc. including the world’s largest accounting firm, Arthur Andersen. Former high government officials in jail for graft and corruption include Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori for 37 years for corruption, human rights violation and abuse of power; Guatemala’s ex-President Alfonso Portillo sentenced only last May to 6 years in U.S. jail for laundering millions of dollars through American banks; Ukraine’s former PM Pavlo Lazarenko to 9-year in U.S. prison; and several others.

Recently added are the USDOJ’s forfeiture actions against an upscalehouse-and-lot worth over $700,000 purchased from the proceeds of corruption of South Korea’s ex-president Chun Doo-hwan’s, and the estimated $30-millionassets in the U.S. owned by the Second Vice President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue that he purchased with proceeds of corruption.

Multinational companies such as Siemens, ITT, Daimler (maker of Mercedes Benz), Avon Cosmetics, Marubeni, etc. and large international banks such as the Union Bank of Switzerland, U.K.’s Standard Chartered Bank and the HSBC, etc. agreed to pay billions of dollars of fines rather than risk responsible officers be brought to court and sentenced to jail for the company’s or bank’s violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and related laws. HSBC thus far paid the biggest fine of $1.92 billion for alleged laundering drug cartel’s money and violation of banking regulations.

It is probable that Sen. Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, House members, their aides and other government officials involved in the pork barrel scams would go to jail at least for money laundering in the Philippines and the same in the U.S. where parts of their kickbacks were most likely transferred, deposited in U.S. bank accounts and spent in America which was illegal. Unbeknownst to many Filipinos, the U.S. Treasury Dept.’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has databases in which all U.S. financial transactions in banks, financing institutions, casinos, money exchanges, etc. are recorded.

If the evidence submitted by Pamusa to the FBI requires the agency to access FinCEN’s databases to find out that a target of investigation for corruption may have transferred and did not report amount of money deposited in U.S. banks, the aggregate sum of account balances is forfeitable. This happened to Sen. Lito Lapid’s wife who was arrested of bringing to the U.S. over $10,000 without reporting the money to customs and immigration authorities. When she was arrested and actually trying to smuggle $40,000 it was later found out she had 23 bank accounts in the Las Vegas area with aggregate deposit of $159,600 the court seized so she won’t go to jail. All the money in her name including the $40,000 plus the bank balances totaling $199,600 was seized and she was sentenced to 3-year probation with 5-month home confinement as conditions of her plea agreement.

The Lapids probably had employed dummies but disposed of them after they were easily exposed they could not afford a given property’s cost at the time of acquisition, its yearly taxes and maintenance especially in the U.S. Random checking of a dummy’s financial condition even in the Philippines such as the earnings in a 5-year period matched with his ITR for the same period coinciding with the acquisition of a property in question almost always shows a big difference and fail the investigation of ill-gotten wealth.

I therefore decided to write this letter because, according to a Pamusa volunteer lawyer-CPA your witnesses in the Senate hearing if the same as the dummies of your U.S. properties would bring you straight to jail if Pamusa sues you in the U.S. like we intend to do against the members of Congress and others charged of involvement in the pork barrel scams masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles et al. as Pamusa’s contribution to the tightening USDOJ’sKleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

Would you believe that the late Kokoy Romualdez left an estate worth $200 million? This may well be the question you would be asked when your doctored SALN for the 28-year "You’re King of Makati” is matched with your actual assets after DOJ-Ombudsman finished investigation at home and Pamusa has done our U.S. investigation. Romualdez’s estate has not been touched because the Marcoses’ and other cronies’ ill-gotten wealth have been covered up by corrupting those tasked to recover them. But not for long though because a new ICAAC is coming next year when the Marcos’ and Romualdez’s heirs would be pleading to be allowed to keep at least 10% of their loot.

More importantly to take note of with regards to the Philippine government (PHG) and businessmen is Presidential Proclamation No. 7750 issued by President George W. Bush in 2004, "To Suspend Entry As Immigrants or Nonimmigrants of Persons Engaged In or Benefiting From Corruption.” PP7750 basically says the U.S. can suspend entry into the country "of certain persons who have committed, participated in, or are beneficiaries of corruption in the performance of public functions where that corruption has serious adverse effects on international activity” subject to an exception where denying such entry would be "contrary to the interests” of the U.S.The Vice President or any of his children in public service may be denied entry to the USA if any one or all of you haveprobablycommitted, participated in, or benefited from corruption.

In this case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary because denying your entry to the USA is not contrary to its interests. A precedent has been set in 2006 by President GMA’s ex-agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Jocjoc” Bolante who defied a Senate committee’s subpoena to shed light on the loss of the P728-million ($16M) fertilizer fund. Bolante left for the USA via Seoul. He did not know that Sen. Magsaysay, committee chairman, asked the Senate President to petition the U.S. Embassy to cancel Bolante’s U.S. visa for defying the Senate’s subpoena powers with which the embassy complied while Bolante was on a flight for Los Angeles.

On arrival at LAX Bolante found out his U.S. multiple entry visa was cancelled and he could not get out of the airport terminal. He was asked to board the next flight to Manila as an illegal entrant when an American lawyer made representation that Bolante would ask for asylum because his life was in danger at home. He was detained by immigration authorities at a U.S. Customs and Immigration detention center in rural Wisconsin that he said only birds could be heard at night during his 2-1/2 years stay until his 3 appeal motions were heard and denied.

During Bolante’s incarceration a group of Filipino Americans organized Pamusa on Aug. 9, 2006 with me as the founding president after learning the ICAACs will enable PHDOJ and Pamusa to jointly fight graft and corruption at home. Although authorized since 2007 by the USDOJ to work with and submit to the FBI evidence of corruption in the Philippines, the PHG’s attitude that something new is suspiciously with bad intention, birth pains, road bumps and potholes delayed Pamusa to be on track and help the Aquino administration’s "tuwid na landas” fight against corruption. Pamusa has had many "cooks spoiling the broth,” which we intend to remedy by launching a joint USDOJ-PHDOJ anticorruption program this month.

This makes it still possible to add to President Aquino’s legacy the conviction for tax evasion and unexplained wealth of several people led by dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona, those involved in various scams such as Bolante, Napoles, Lito Lapid and former FG Mike Arroyo of the fertilizer fund fiasco and the senators and congressmen, et al. in pork barrel scams. A would-be state witness says a good portion of the P728-million fertilizer fund went to the construction of rental houses in Ayala-Alabang owned by a corporation organized by Bolante & Arroyo. The witness who claims to be an expert of organizing dummy corporations or individual dummies believes there might be hundreds of houses in Makati’s upscale subdivisions owned by top government officials from the proceeds of corruption in the names of dummies who are paid salaries and expenses for "ownership” of the properties in the records of Municipal and City Assessors’ and Treasurers’ offices, a few of whom are themselves in cahoots with property owners and dummies.

That is why President Aquino may add another legacy by an executive order directing the Secretary of Finance, Municipal and City Treasurers and Assessors, and all concerned to conduct an inventory of real properties and their owners which will include relevant information such as lot areas, improvement, acquisition cost, assessed values and estimated market prices, from whom acquired including the previous owners before the owner bought from, and other information and data relevant to national development planning.

Finally, as a friend, I will be pleased to help you. However, I see your best option to avoid impeachment and dismissal from office is to give up aspirations to be President because unless you do so settlement of your ill-gotten wealth in which the full accounting of your true assets and net worth including those of your children will be out of the table is impossible to be accepted by reasonable people.

This may be the time to come to a realization that the era of unabated corruption and escaping retribution has passed by and never come again like the postal system replacing the Internet or going back to using radios instead of television.

Best regards.

Sincerely,
Francisco Wenceslao
President
Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa)
Phones: 562-864-7737 & Cell 562-547-4357


SOURCE: PINOY WATCHDOG.COM

Introducing PAMUSA (Phil, Anti-corruption Movement U.S.A.) By Francisco Wenceslao INQ7.net First Posted 13:38:00 09/26/2006 Filed Under: Crime, Law & Justice To answer a number of emails asking what the Philippine Anticorruption Movement U.S.A., Inc. (PAMUSA) is about, let me backtrack on the path the movement has thus far traveled. READ MORE... The Inquirer 'Global Nation page

LP rackets go on at metro railways; P-Noy has not scolded party mates for bad work, but instead blamed the past admin. GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 5, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


JARIUS BONDOC

Separate biddings for the maintenance of two railways in Metro Manila failed in succession last week. No bidders showed up for both the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3.

Expect this month’s bidding for the upkeep of LRT-2 to be empty as well. That’s precisely the intent of the Dept. of Transportation and Communications.

As biddings flop by design, DOTC bigwigs are able to extend the current maintenance contractors. The contractors are officers of the ruling Liberal Party, of which DOTC Sec. Joseph Abaya is president.

The amount for MRT-3’s maintenance was tantalizing: P2.2 billion ($49.2 million) for three years. Yet none of the initially interested firms submitted bids last Oct. 28. They included DMCI Holdings, MiescoRail Inc. (of Meralco), Busan Metro of Korea, Mosa-Inekon joint venture of the Czech Republic, and SMRT International Pte. Ltd.

Sources said the parties found the deal hazy. The DOTC did not answer their basic questions. Like, how many trains are running or busted, how many tracks need replacing, what spare parts are on stockpile, what the DOTC plans about the signaling system.

The Bid Bulletin No. 09-2014, posted on the DOTC website, tells it all. In answering the parties’ queries, U-Sec. Jose Perpetuo Lotilla kept pointing them to a 2010 audit. That audit was when Sumitomo of Japan still was servicing the MRT-3. From press reports and MRT-3 managers’ admissions, the rail has since deteriorated under two sets of crony maintainers. Those are: PH-Trams and CommBuilders & Transport, Oct. 2012-Aug. 2013; and Autre Porte Technique and Global Epcom Services, Sept. 2013-present.

PH Trams, as exposed in this column, consists of LP members. Chairman Marlo dela Cruz was its main campaigner in Pangasinan in the 2010 and 2013 elections. Incorporator-director Wilson de Vera ran but lost for LP mayor of Calasiao, Pangasinan. Art Soriano, the Pangasinan provincial accountant, is the uncle-in-law of then-MRT-3 general manager Al S. Vitangcol. CB&T’s president, Roehl Bacar, also ran but lost for LP councilor of Mandaluyong City.

* No public bidding, only closed-door negotiations, were held for the PH Trams-CB&T deal, that totaled P517.5 million for ten months. Abaya, Lotilla, and Vitangcol signed the contract.

Since the bidding last Oct. 28 failed, the MRT-3 is retaining APT-Global as maintenance contractor, for P63 million a month. APT is the long-time maintainer of LRT-2. Global, newly revived, has the same Marlo dela Cruz, of the LP and PH Trams, as official representative. A silent partner is a ranking official of the Philippine National Railways.

Dela Cruz claims to have resigned from the APT-Global since early Aug., and has notified Lotilla. Last Sept. 5, however, Lotilla issued a memo to dela Cruz informing him of their extension on monthly basis.

CB&T is the long-time maintainer of LRT-1. It too will be extended due to the failed bidding last Oct. 24.

The amount up for grabs was tantalizing as well: P423.3 million ($9.5 million) for one year. But as in the MRT-3 bidding, the firms that initially expressed interest did not show up on the appointed date. These are: Autre Porte Technique, Global Epcom Services, and MiescoRail.

Again the parties found the prospects cloudy. The bidding framework was flawed from the start. The contract is only for one year, yet the DOTC expects the winner to invest in machines, costing P300 million, for maintenance of trains and tracks. Compounding that is the DOTC’s inability to guarantee that the Ayala-Metro Pacific consortium, which will extend the LRT-1 into Cavite, will recognize the winner as the maintenance contractor.

Meanwhile, prospective bidders for the LRT-2 maintenance are restive. The bidding has been postponed five times since June, because the DOTC can’t produce coherent terms of reference. Dozens of provisos are being questioned. Foremost is why the DOTC will grant a contract for three years, but which it unilaterally may shorten to only one year.

When that bidding fails too, APT will retain its present service contract.

President Noynoy Aquino, LP chairman-emeritus, has ignored the DOTC’s corrupt contracting. Recently he blamed the past administration for the MRT-3’s frequent accidents and breakdowns. The DOTC contract awarders took that to mean business as usual.

* * *

READERS’ REACTIONS: Last Friday I detailed a new rule on airport terminal fees that oppresses overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has required airlines, starting Oct., to incorporate the P550-fee in the plane fare, then remit to it. This removes the long lines at the airport of departing passengers paying the fee. But it also wipes out the exemption of 11 million OFWs from the fee, unless the MIAA makes the airlines revise their ticketing software. The heartless fogeys at the MIAA won’t hear any of it. Instead they want OFWs — 1,255 departing per hour — to fall in more long lines — for refunds that may never come.

Delfin Wenceslao, chairman, Katipunan ng Mamamayan ng Bagong Pilipinas: “I take responsibility for proposing to OP-DOTC-MIAA how to decongest the heavy human traffic at the departure area. A single booth used to accept terminal fee payments from hundreds of plane passengers. Naturally they get exasperated with the inefficiency. By making the airlines collect, we eliminate the bottleneck, so they can proceed directly to Immigration counters. There was nothing in my advocacy to cancel the OFWs’ fee exemption.

“Since OFWs have to get DOLE approval of their work contracts, then DOLE must issue fee-exemption certificates, so airlines no longer will collect from them. I speculate that those protesting the traffic management at MIAA benefit from the management of millions of pesos in daily fee collection. Audit the terminal fee from its very start: number of passengers versus collections versus remittances to the National Treasury. It would be interesting to find out who thinks of national or personal and parochial interests.”

(Auditing the multibillion-peso annual take from the fee is a good idea. Experience tells us that wherever there’s a pile of government money, vultures hover above. The welfare of 11 million OFWs is a national concern. The DOLE, which has long been issuing fee-exemption cards, should be lauded for reminding the MIAA to respect the exemption. MIAA mis-managers must show concern, as the Migrant Workers Act requires of all agencies.

OFW Freddie Base emailed two photos taken Oct. 17, just before his flight to Riyadh. They show bored, sleepy, tired OFWs, seated in two rows at the MIAA-2’s new Terminal Fee Refund kiosk. At the end of the lines are two refund counters — both unmanned.

(Need I say more?)

Kickbacks are what they live for AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven DE Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 3, 2014 - 12:00am 17 152 googleplus0 0


Sara Soliven DE Guzman

Why do people run for public office nowadays? Do you really believe they still have the compassion to lead and serve? Sad to say, only a few are sincere. Majority are there for the money. In short, many public officials are fueled by kickbacks. They thrive on government funds. They depend on it for a living. Isn’t it quite obvious?

Almost all government projects follow an internal protocol of getting kickbacks that have already become a normal part of the system. I do not understand why the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit are turning a blind eye in several instances to these anomalies. No one is stopping the corruption going on. No one is even checking or controlling the cost of purchases or project costs. Shouldn’t all projects be scrutinized so that the government can save? The BIR keeps on raising our taxes (to collect more funds for government spending) while government does not even practice prudence.

The so-called ‘protocol’ for a total expense package of a government project (in both local and national levels) for instance is said to be divided amongst: (1) the contractor (construction expense); (2) the mayor and the vice mayor; (3) the city councilors; (4) other city officials; and (5) COA representatives not to mention the governor, the congressman and the other departments involve in approving various permits. Different municipalities may vary but more or less this has been a standard practice. Mind you the construction expense is not really as expensive as reflected in the financial statement, in most cases. Kickbacks are what make government purchases or projects more expensive.

Everyone is in cahoots in eating the ‘pie’. As we have observed in the Janet Napoles’ and the pork barrel scam cases which even include a list of ‘mighty’ senators. Susmariosep! Now you know how these scumbags are able to build mansions, travel, buy luxury cars, helicopters and jet planes. How can a government official afford the lifestyle of the rich and famous with their official salaries? The law in this country is even too weak to arrest them because most of our legislators are either part of the scam or just too scared to expose the irregularities they see. Of course those involved don’t want to be caught!

* Our government is spending our money profusely like water running down the drain. Taxes are collected from such a small population of working class and middle class in this country. The rich and the big companies try to curve their taxes and they too can get away in tax haven. What a pity! Last week Congress approved the proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015, including P4.7 billion in errata or changes. Who’s paying? The taxpayers. No wonder we feel poor. A big chunk of our hard earned money is taken away from us and we don’t even feel good about the services rendered by government.

Anyway, going back to the new government budget, it seems that the queries made by Bayan Muna Party List Representative Colmenares on the proposed budget errata submitted by the DBM amounting to P13.6 billion fell on deaf ears. Why don’t other congressmen question such a big budget? I heard that part of the errata or changes include congressional insertions to make the congressmen ‘happy’. Sanamagan!

In the proposed errata the DILG will receive P423 billion; P8 billion contingent fund for the Bangsamoro; P3.281 billion for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit; and P1.6 billion for the Department of Finance –Bureau of Customs. The errata also identified the additional requirements of various agency programs such as the P53.5 million for the forest land management project for loan proceeds of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as P299 million for expenses of market and product development of the Department of Tourism, and P92.7 million for the establishment of the Department of Trade and Industry Go Negosyo Centers. The question is who will verify the numbers? Who will check the overpriced projects or purchases even before the money is spent? Who can we trust – DBM and COA?

Why isn’t the Commission on Audit able to do its job of investigating and checking in various parts of the country? What are the COA repersentatives doing? Are they sitting on the job? But even before that, why can’t the DBM review the project or purchase expenses before they release the money? Why don’t they go a step further to check where the money is actually going? Is it because those releasing the funds and those auditing the expenses are part of the ‘syndicate’?

Under COA Circular No. 95-006, issued pursuant to PD 1445, or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, COA is no longer on pre-audit but on post audit basis. This explains why most cases of alleged corrupt practices reported in the past years like the P728 million fertilizer scam have been discovered by COA only after a post audit was done. The same holds true on the ZTE deal, the PDAF, DAP, and the numerous anomalous transactions done at the very noses of COA officers. Even lifestyle checks are done only after a complaint is filed against a government official. Susmariosep!

What is stopping COA from doing a pre-audit of government expenditures when most of it especially those under the national budget can really be pre-audited? Conducting a pre-audit will make those thinking of earning a buck or two from a government transaction think twice. Besides aren’t the same supporting documents presented during a post audit, the very same documents available even prior to payments or consummation of transactions? All COA auditors are accountants. As such, they should know how to look for irregularities when they conduct an audit. Why can’t they see these irregularities on the onset? Perhaps they have adapted a culture of blindness: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Reports say that COA went through the P2.2 billion pork barrel funds allegedly handled by Napoles with a fine-tooth comb. Current COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan also ordered a special audit in 2011 of the agrarian reform department’s use of the Malampaya Fund which amounted to P900 million. But, no audit order was done on the P8.6 billion Aquino gave to the ARMM and the DAP funds. How’s that for selective ‘auditing’?

I really doubt if our Chief Accountants and Internal Auditors can do their jobs conscientiously. They also seem to be helpless and powerless when it comes to auditing big time deals. Even COA Commissioners do not dare raise the red flag when high ranking government officials are involved in corruption. So, who else will do the work of detecting and preventing the consummation of these anomalous transactions? I still believe that, without pre-audit, there is no way an internal check can be done in government disbursements. The COA Circular No. 95-006, issued pursuant to PD 1445 weakens its authority to do internal controls of government expenditures to fight corruption. Was this done intentionally? Thus, the saga of corruption in this country continues. Susmariosep!

Two days of Pangasinan FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Domini M. Torrevillas

Pangasinan has had a magical hold on me on account of historical events and people skyrocketing to positions of power in the national government, and some individuals who have become close personal friends. The invasion of the Gulf of Lingayen, the province’s capital, has been drummed into our ears since high school. President Fidel V. Ramos is the first Philippine president from Pangasinan (specifically, from the barrio of Asingan in Lingayen). His sister, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, is also from the barrio. Former Speaker Joe de Venecia Jr. served six terms as representative of the 4th district of Dagupan, and House Speaker (1992-1998 and 2001 to 2008), and his wife Georgina “Manay Gina” de Venecia is into her second term as representative of the same district.

I’ve swam and grilled fish on an island at the Hundred Islands Park in Alaminos, visited the shrine of the Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario in Manaoag, dined in carinderias and bought bawang and bagoong at the Pangasinan highways on the way to Baguio.

During this last Undas (All Saints and All Souls’ days), my family visited friends in Lingayen, Dagupan and Binmaley. We stayed in the Dagupan compound of the De Venecias which, surprisingly, has not been developed into a swinging resort farm — truly reflective, says my hubby, of the simple lifestyle of the former Speaker. Needless to say, the trained househelp served us good meals, chiefly with fried bangus as the centerpiece.

Our first visit was at the Lingayen home of Juris de Leon Vargas, daughter of the late Romy de Leon, founder and president of the Rural Bank of Anda and a close friend of my hubby. Juris, a lively lady, is now president of the bank which has eight branches in the province of Pangasinan. Banking is hard work, Juris told us, but she is pleased that clients continue to grow and avail of the services of the bank.

Juris has four children – Judy, who is a Lingayen councilor; Doris, who is vice-president of Rural Bank of Anda-Lingayen branch; Donna Nikki, a third year communication arts student at the UP Baguio, and Marcelino, an eighth grader at a local school.

Councilor Judy is making waves in the local political landscape. At age 25 she is smart and good-looking. She is vice president of the Philippine Councilors League-Pangasinan Chapter, and Junior Chamber International 2015 LO president. She has just been appointed to chair the provincial bagoong festival, a celebration to be held on Jan. 23 which Judy said we should not miss.

Judy is mainly responsible for the municipal ordinances passed prohibiting the use of plastic bags in the town and encouraging the production of local handicraft, including bayong. It took a long time for the ordinance to be followed by vendors, she told me, but now everyone is aware of its importance in preserving the environment. Judy has strongly promoted the reproductive health law. It’s important that people have the freedom to plan their families’ size and have access to family planning facilities, she said. Being articulate and hard working, Judy has a bright future as an effective provincial and national executive.

* * *

* For dinner, Juris took us to Papa Dong’s Grill & Resto, an arm’s length from her home on Roxas street.The owner, Ferdinand Fajardo, was around, hopping from table to table to promote his dishes. He was right about how good his buttered talaba was. The secret for his resto’s success, he said, is his dishes’ affordability and good taste. He ticked off his best-sellers: Angus Beef Pigar-Pigar, crispy hito and sisig, sinigang pink salmon head and salmon belly, binagoogang crispy hito, and kare-kare gulay.

* * *

My BFF, Norma Liongoren, enthusiastically took us to people and

places to see. The first was the Crisologos’ Travellers Inn, a modest boarding place patronized mainly by students and out-of-town visitors. On the ground floor as the Mesh Room, a place for what Norma called “art- making on the run” and food, run by cousins Rye Crisologo Barodi, artist and interior designer, and Boeng Miraoda CRisologo, artist chef. Miraluz “Bing” Crisologo and husband Bobby Barodi, a craftstman from Tugaya, Lanao del Sur, operate the inn.

Bing served us a nice glass of tea, and her favorite dough filled with preserved durian fruit.

At the back of the inn was the Crisologo compound, where live the “most successful” of Norma’s siblings, Bok, a distributor of Bok shoes mainly from China.

Inside the compound was a series of buildings, two or three of which are used as production units or commissary of Norma’s niece, Kamela Crisologo Sison, who is the “local girl” who made more than good. A few minutes away from the compound stands a new building at Tapuac, Lingayen. The nice-looking building has a bakeshop and Dine Inn restaurant where, aside from a menu that Manilans enjoy choosing from, also makes available the best-selling Plato Wraps.

Plato Wraps is a trademark of Panaderia Antonio Food Corporation (PAFC), a Filipino corporation controlled by Antonio and Kamela C. Seen. PAFC was incorporated in 2003 and was originally a single proprietary business started in 1999 as a bakery with retail shops in Dagupan city and Urdaneta. It has six bakeshop outlets and stalls at supermarkets in Metro Manila

The Plato Wraps Food Cart was introduced in Dagupan City in 2001 as Panaderia Antonio Food Corporation’s first venture into food service. The grilled wraps product with a choice of popular fillings, hit a niche market and cart operations, and soon expanded in Metro Manila and 12 stores in the provincial operations. Plato Wraps is currently developing expansion programs for the key cities of the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

* * *

Next, Norma took us to the Lingayen Provincial Capitol, which, she said, is the best in the country. How right she was. The capitol was built in 1918, during the Commonwealth period, reconstructed in 1949 during the time of Gov. Enrique Braganza, and rehabilitated in 2008 under Gov. Espino’s term. It is an architectural wonder, bathed in sunlight and lights at night, its interiors featuring a spiral staircase with an eagle at the front step, its floors and wallings of hard wood. On the floor at the lobby is the seal of Pangasinan province put together with colorful wooden blocks. The governor’s office is sparkling bright and elegant, said to be designed like one of the rooms of the White House.

Outside, across the capitol building, was a tree-filled park where romantic music was being played. On display were remnants of the war machines used by the Americans during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf.

Throughout our two-day visit, our car painfully wound its way through traffic jams caused by hordes of people walking, or tarrying, toward the cemeteries. Beyond those jammed streets, we breezed through three-laned, well-paved streets – the handiwork, my hubby said, of Representative Joe de Venecia.

Of course, we filled our stomachs, and loaded our vehicle, with bottles and boxes of guinamos and patis, frozen boneless bangus, Calasiao’s puto, and tupig (grilled rice and coconut wrapped in banana leaves). On our last morning, I hied off to Dagupan’s wet market for fresh shrimps and fish. The next day, at lunch, I made steamed bangus – the best, my hubby said – and that’s because the fish came fresh and smothered with crushed ice from Dagupan.

Tourism links grow between Canada and the Philippines DIPLOMATIC POUCH By Neil Reeder (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Neil Reeder: Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines

It seems that the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) campaign “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” is indeed delivering results based on their latest statistics.

In my recent meeting with Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, he was pleased to say that there were more than 2.8 million visitors to the Philippines in the first seven months of the year generating more than P126 billion in tourism receipts.

I was also delighted to see that there is growing tourism traffic between Canada and the Philippines.

DOT reported that Canada is the 7th largest source of tourists to the Philippines from January to July this year. More than 86,000 Canadians visited the Philippines, spending almost P5 billion, making them also one of the largest markets in terms of visitor expenditure.

On the other hand, the Canadian Tourism Commission recorded more than 46,000 Filipino tourists visiting Canada from January to July this year.

These statistics are only some of the indicators that indeed there is a constant movement of people between our two countries.

Last June, the Philippines and Canada signed an expanded Air Transport Agreement allowing for more flights between our two countries. There were close to 430,000 one-way passenger trips taken between Canada and the Philippines in 2013, up 22.5 percent since 2008. The Philippines remains the only ASEAN country with direct links to Canada.

Aside from the commercial dimension, we see the promise tourism may bring through our development cooperation program. Canada is helping the Philippines reach its tourism potential by contributing Cad$7 million to a technical assistance project of the Asian Development Bank.

The project provides technical assistance to the DOT to improve the competitiveness of the tourism sector as well as the efficiency of the labor market through the implementation of an enhanced Hotel and Resorts Quality Assurance and Accreditation system and improved tourism services.

* Canada also supports tourism development in the Philippines by funding the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED), which is an Cad$18 million, eight-year (2008-2016) bilateral project implemented in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Through this project, LGUs are provided technical advice and trainings on how to improve their business environment to be more competitive, more attractive to investments and conducive to job creation.

Last May, we announced a third batch of local government units (LGUs) that will receive support from LGSP-LED to implement their tourism development initiatives working closely with the DILG and the DOT.

These ten projects are expected to serve as innovative models for other LGUs to follow to showcase how investments in tourism-related infrastructure and a stronger business climate are key factors in attracting other investments and creating jobs.

Canada will support the tourism projects to be implemented in Albay, Aklan, Antique, Batangas, Cebu, Davao del Norte, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Palawan, Siquijor and Sorsogon.

The earlier batches of LGU beneficiaries attracted a total of nearly P6 billion in new investments and created over 2,200 new jobs in the two years of direct supervision from LGSP-LED. We hope to build on this growth as our support to the Philippines’ tourism promotion.

Brave new world of politics BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 9 googleplus0 0

In 2016, we will be electing not only the President and Vice President, but also half the Senate, the entire House of Representatives, all the governors, mayors and other local government officials. The common question is, how do we decide whom to support in this coming election? More and more, one criterion I hear about is “winnability.” This says that in selecting a candidate, he or she must have a chance of winning.

I suppose that is why many people have decided that their choice will be to elect the “lesser of two evils” and discount those who may be ideal candidates but have no perceived chance of winning. I have been told that politics is a pragmatic game and only realists should play the game.

Perhaps I am fortunate that I came from a generation when politics was only for the courageous or the idealists. It meant going against the forces of the Marcos martial law regime. Perhaps it is because I actively participated in several elections even though we knew we had no chance of winning.

In 1978, we campaigned for the LABAN ticket headed by Ninoy Aquino, and we were blatantly cheated and harassed by the KBL and military forces of Marcos. But again in the 1980 local elections we fought against the same forces in a non-violent political struggle which appeared to be a futile endeavour. This time, in the whole Philippines, three opposition leaders were elected — Joey Laurel as Batangas governor; Nene Pimentel as Cagayan de Oro city mayor; and Bono Adaza as Misamis Oriental governor.

Then in the 1984 Batasan Pambansa elections, we participated and the opposition — PDP-LABAN and UNIDO – won a few seats. Personally, I was very active in the campaign of Jaime Ferrer, the PDP-LABAN candidate who defeated Roilo Golez, the KBL candidate in the Parañaque-Las Pinas district.

Then in the 1986 snap presidential elections, I actively worked in the campaign of Corazon Aquino when she ran against Marcos. Strong forces said that we should boycott the elections, but we heeded the call of Cory Aquino to participate in the elections. After all, the only alternative was a violent revolution.

There are those who believe that politics is a power game and the most important thing about elections is winning and grabbing power. But for those who truly believe in the concept of participative democracy, elections and politics is the advancement and articulation of ideas and idealism.

When I broached this idea to a friend of mine, his response was that the Marcosian martial law era was a different time. But I wonder if there is ever an end to the struggle between good and evil. Do we support what is good only if it is “winnable”? Are we, therefore, willing to make democracy a struggle between “two evils”? What then will be the basis of our choice?

If the purpose of politics is simply to gain power, and the goal of politicians is to acquire power and influence, what is the objective of those supporting this concept? Do we then we choose the “evil” which will give us the opportunity to have influence?

Is politics really meant only for the ruthless, the power hungry and the so-called “pragmatist”? Pope Francis wrote about politics and politicians. I suppose there are those who will say that Pope Francis is too idealistic and, therefore, his words do not have any relevance in today’s world of pragmatic politicians and businessmen. But, here is what Pope Francis wrote in paragraph 204 of his Papal Exhortations:

“I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots — and not simply the appearances — of the evils in our world. Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation, and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.”

I have been fortunate to meet many politicians who I sincerely believe were in politics because it was a “lofty vocation.” There was Jose Diokno; Lorenzo Tanada; Jaime Ferrer; and Jess Robredo. Then there were Ninoy and Cory Aquino. I believe these politicians are the models for the type of leader Pope Francis wrote about:

* “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education, and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans? I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society.”

The Pope continues: “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to a new crisis. As long as the problems of the poor are not solved...no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problem. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

Who then is the pragmatic person? The one who tells us to vote only for the winnable candidate and the “lesser of two evils” and lets us live from crisis to crisis? Or the Pope that tells us that we must not give up hope and continue to support those who are in politics for lofty purposes?

In a political world dominated by winnability and choosing lesser evils, I still firmly believe someday we will have a new world where the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are the primary concerns of politics.
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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