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(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

ONE NATION, TWO WORLDS: THE MYTH OF 'INCLUSIVE GROWTH'


MAY 25 ---Sonny Africa --is Executive Director of IBON Foundation --NCR - National Capital Region, PhilippinesNonprofit Organization Management --Current IBON Foundation --Education from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) FROM LinkedIn  he Aquino administration has been in power since mid-2010 and the last three years gives undeniable evidence as to whose interests it upholds primarily. There is growing wealth and prosperity for a few amid joblessness and poverty for the many – these are among the deep signs of a regression in the national condition that a recycled Aquino agenda for the last half of its term will not remedy. The country’s long-standing jobs and poverty crisis has continued and worsened under the Aquino administration. The government claims to acknowledge the country’s economic problems and to be seeking “inclusive growth”. Yet its policies are no different from those that have been increasingly implemented over the last three decades and that have resulted in today’s grossly distorted and unequal economy. The supposedly good economic news for the Philippines is familiar: supposedly the fastest economic growth among the major countries of East and Southeast Asia, consecutive record highs in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index, record gross international reserves, investment grade ratings from two major international credit ratings agencies, and an incremental rise in world competitiveness ranking. The counterpoint to the supposed good economic news is likewise familiar: the unchanged jobs and poverty crisis. Despite rapid economic growth the number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos increased by over one million from 10.9 million in April 2010 to 11.9 million in April 2013 – consisting of 4.6 million unemployed (an increase of 52,000, using IBON estimates on National Statistics Office or NSO data) and 7.3 million underemployed (an increase of 955,000). This is the most number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in the country’s history. READ MORE...

ALSO: China must show magnanimity and restraint in South China Sea; Manila should reset its relations with China for the sake of regional security


CARTOON COURTESY OF The Spratlys - China vs Philippines Issue by Fordz-AnimsB Cartoons & Comics / Digital Media / Cartoons / Drawings©2014-2015 Fordz-Anims APPENDED TO ARTICLE BY PHNO
Relation between China and the Philippines bears a significant bearing on the regional maritime security. It is heading towards a head-on collision if both sides take no effort to defuse the situation. It has reached at a critical crossroads.
While China wants to avoid the label of a regional bully, the Philippines must make the first move to set the conditions that make it possible for Pax Sinica (Latin for Chinese Peace) to call for a face-saving truce. Manila should realise that relationship with powerful neighbour, an assertive China that still believes in the Middle Kingdom mentality, cannot be a zero- sum game. Thucydides gave us this famous dictum “Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most". China and the Philippines established diplomatic relations since June 1975. However, as close neighbours, the peoples in both countries had been trading with each other since ancient times. READ MORE...

ALSO: The Decline of a Presidency?


Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino had a good run since his election in 2010; he has been one of the most consistently popular presidents since the country’s redemocratization in 1986, but his popularity hit the buffers in 2013. Seemingly struggling with PR missteps and crumbling political capital, Aquino seems to lack the charisma or ‘popular touch’ to deflect mounting criticism. As the public sentiment gradually turns it gives rise to the question: “What kind of disillusionment will set in when the touted messiah of Philippine politics fails to save?” 
He is the most consistently popular president since the Philippines redemocratized in 1986 http://www.sws.org.ph/pr20131024.htm.  His supporters claim his positive approval ratings are well deserved, touting the country’s unprecedented economic growth as proof that Filipinos chose the right leader. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s supporters are the proudest, however, of the president’s seeming incorruptibility. In the past when Filipinos asked fundamental questions, interior secretary Mar Roxas noted in a speech at the Ateneo de Manila University, that people should remember “we elected an honest man in 2010.” Roxas is probably right. Aquino, who ran on an anti-corruption platform, has never been accused of stealing or cheating. Through his pugilistic justice secretary, he has also filed cases against numerous public officials embroiled in corruption scandals; chief among them is the disgraced former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Most recently, the same justice secretary announced the government would charge its own customs chief—long considered a close Aquino ally—with malversation. Integrity as a failsafe Descriptions of Aquino’s honesty are the fail-safes of his communications team. Whenever Aquino’s detractors—mostly front organizations of the small but noisy Communist Party and members of the political opposition under Vice President Jejomar Binay—criticize the administration, the presidential palace never forgets to remind citizens of Aquino’s character.READ MORE...

ALSO: Admin solons all praises for Mar as standard bearer


ROXAS 
Administration lawmakers yesterday welcomed President Aquino’s pronouncement that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas remains on top of the list of those considered to become the ruling Liberal Party’s standard bearer in the 2016 national elections, saying Roxas will be the perfect successor to continue the administration’s reform agenda. “Even if I am not a member of the Liberal Party (LP), I believe that if there is a candidate who can continue the reforms begun by President Aquino, it is no other than Mar Roxas.
“He (Mar) is known to be sincere in his work, reliable, and not tainted with any wrongdoing,” said Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP).An elated Roxas pronounced yesterday that he is ready to take on the challenge of continuing President Aquino’s straight path governance.“I thank the President for the trust he has given me. What he said was very clear and I accept it wholeheartedly,” Roxas in an ambush interview in a Bulacan town on Tuesday.When asked if he’s ready for the upcoming presidential elections, Roxas said: “Right now, we are in a good place. It is not perfect, but we can advance further.”  Roxas also met with controversial Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte along with Kingdom of God Pastor Quiboloy, a known supporter of Duterte.READ MORE...

ALSO: Call it Multimillionaires’ Club; Total wealth of Aquino Cabinet rises by P121M


The Aquino Cabinet’s wealthiest (from left): Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS  
Call it Multimillionaires’ Club. The combined wealth of members of President Aquino’s official family increased by more than P121 million last year, based on their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). The Aquino Cabinet’s wealth grew from P2.85 billion in 2013 to P2.97 billion the following year, thanks partly to the 9.59-percent increase in Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s net worth. Del Rosario remained the wealthiest Cabinet member with a P838,809,918.82 net worth last year, up by more than P73 million from the previous year. The President himself declared a net worth of P68.3 million in 2014. Education Secretary Armin Luistro, a member of the De La Salle Brothers, was the lone nonmillionaire among 36 members of the Cabinet. He declared a net worth of only P471,064.46. Luistro, whose community is described as “full-time religious educators,” listed no real properties or “business interests and financial connections.” His net worth was based solely on money he kept in two bank accounts. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Abad, Paje have biggest number of relatives in gov’t


ABAD  
Which member of President Benigno Aquino’s official family has the most relatives in government? Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje top the list with nine each, based on their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth for 2013. Abad, one of the President’s most trusted lieutenants, declared four nephews, two first cousins and a niece all working in the government as of last year. Topping the list of his relatives in the government is his wife, Henedina, who is a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, followed by daughter Julia, who heads the Presidential Management Staff. Three of Paje’s relatives in government work at Bicol University, while a niece is assigned to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ office in Region 5. A nephew of his is also a policeman in the same region. Other relatives held jobs in the provinces. Abad and Paje ranked 16th and 17th, respectively, in the President’s Cabinet of mostly millionaires. Only Bro. Armin Luistro of the Department of Education was a non-millionaire with a total net worth of P433,392 in the form of cash kept in banks. Abad declared a net worth of P32.77 million and Paje P30.35 million. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino: K to 12 program not a burden; PH ready for it


President Benigno Aquino III on Friday defended the K to 12 program, saying that the Philippines is ready for its full implementation in 2016 despite the notion that it is only an additional burden to parents, students and educators. Speaking at the K to 12 event at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Aquino said the program has undergone years of planning and consultation. “Handa na tayo. Bunga ang K to 12 ng ilang taong pagpaplano’t masusing konsultasyon, kasama ang mga katuwang natin sa sektor ng edukasyon. (We are ready. K-12 is the result of many years of planning and consultation),” Aquino said. The President allayed the fears that K to 12 would be another burden to parents and students. “Imbes na isiping pabigat ang karagdagang dalawang taon sa paaralan ng ating mga estudyante, ituring po natin itong pagkakataon upang higit nilang mapahusay ang sarili tungo sa pag-abot ng kanilang mga pangarap (Instead of thinking as a burden the additional two years in school, let’s think of this as an opportunity to further educate ourselves in reaching our goals),” he said. He said the Philippines has been left behind, citing that it is among the three countries in the world with a 10-year basic education program and the only one in Asia. Aquino cited examples of Filipino workers abroad who found it hard to land a job because some employers prefer graduates who finished a 12-year basic education, adding that some were required to take another two years of education to meet their standards. “Yun po ay nagiging problema ng ating mga manggagawa. (This has become a problem of our workers),” he said. With the K-12 program, he said, the country’s educational system would be able to align to international standards. According to him, students can choose “specialized tracks” whether in academics, technical and vocational education, even in sports and the arts. “Sa pamamagitan nito, sinisiguro nating may sapat na dunong na ang ating mga kabataan pagka-graduate ng high school upang mas maging produktibong bahagi ng lipunan (Through this, we can assure that students would have enough competencies after gradauting from high school and be able to become productive members of society),” he said. According to him, there is enough fund allocated in the education sector due to the reforms initiated by the government. He said the backlogs left by the previous administration are being addressed by the Department of Education. Despite the fears of many educators that they would be displaced because of the K to 12, he said the government would be needing at least 30,000 teachers for senior high school. READ MORE...

ALSO: China moves weapons to reclaimed areas – report


Reclamation: A satellite image taken in April shows a Chinese airstrip under construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters EXCLUSIVE  FROM REUTERS China has moved weaponry onto artificial islands that it is building in contested areas of the South China Sea, adding to the risks of a confrontation with the United States and its regional security partners including Australia. China has reportedly moved weapons to artificial islands it was building in areas it occupied in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), a report in an Australian newspaper said on Thursday. “Australian officials are concerned that China could also introduce long-range radar, anti-aircraft guns and regular surveillance flights that will enable it to project military power across a maritime expanse which include some of Australia’s busiest trading lanes,” a report in The Age read. Australia’s Defense Secretary Dennis Richardson in earlier statements challenged China’s reclamation works on areas it occupies in the West Philippine Sea. The Age report quoting sources said Australian diplomats have dropped “talking points” about Australia not taking sides in the multi-layered territorial contest, which Chinese officials have used as evidence of Australian support. But a draft of Canberra’s first “defense white paper” said Australian intelligence agencies are upgrading their strategic threat assessment of the situation. READ MORE...

ALSO by Ellen Tordesillas: Gazmin runs to Uncle Sam


by Ellen Tordesillas
DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was interviewed by reporters in the sidelines of the Philippine Navy anniversary celebration in Cavite last Monday. He talked of his upcoming trip to Hawaii (set for today) to attend the turnover ceremonies of the Commander of the Pacific Command. Read the following excerpts of the interview transcript and tell me if you feel proud being a Filipino after reading/listening to him. Q. On China challenging US planes over the Spratlys. Gazmin: “Well unang nakakabahala, we feel concerned about what is happening in the West Philippine Sea na pati yung, nadidisrupt na yung freedom of navigation, freedom of flight na pati yung US na lumilipad sa international territory ay nacha-challenge so parang nagtatayo sila ng sarili nilang control over the airspace at saka sa kwan.”  Q. Is it ADIZ? (An Air Defense Identification Zone is airspace over land or water in which the identification, location, and control of civil aircraft is required in the interest of national security of the government imposing it.) Gazmin: Parang ADIZ so wala pang formal but going towards that direction so nakaka-concern, kaya that is why I will be attending the turnover ceremony of PACOM (Pacific Command) commander, Admiral Samuel Locklear. Mag-uusap din kami ni US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Q; Will you talk about West Philippine Sea? Gazmin: Itatanong natin hanggang saan yung tulong na ibibigay sa atin, ano ang magagawa nila. Kung paano tayo matutulungan dahil right now tayo ang naapi. Tingnan natin kung anong extent ng assistance na maibibigay nila to more or less keep us safe from harassment. READ MORE...4 COMMENTS...
 


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One nation, two worlds: The myth of ‘inclusive growth’


Sonny Africa --is Executive Director of IBON Foundation --NCR - National Capital Region, PhilippinesNonprofit Organization Management --Current IBON Foundation --Education from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) FROM LinkedIn

MANILA, JUNE 1, 2015 (BICOL TODAY) by Sonny Africa, IBON executive director - IBON Features—The Aquino administration has been in power since mid-2010 and the last three years gives undeniable evidence as to whose interests it upholds primarily.

There is growing wealth and prosperity for a few amid joblessness and poverty for the many – these are among the deep signs of a regression in the national condition that a recycled Aquino agenda for the last half of its term will not remedy.

The country’s long-standing jobs and poverty crisis has continued and worsened under the Aquino administration. The government claims to acknowledge the country’s economic problems and to be seeking “inclusive growth”. Yet its policies are no different from those that have been increasingly implemented over the last three decades and that have resulted in today’s grossly distorted and unequal economy.

The supposedly good economic news for the Philippines is familiar: supposedly the fastest economic growth among the major countries of East and Southeast Asia, consecutive record highs in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index, record gross international reserves, investment grade ratings from two major international credit ratings agencies, and an incremental rise in world competitiveness ranking.

The counterpoint to the supposed good economic news is likewise familiar: the unchanged jobs and poverty crisis.

Despite rapid economic growth the number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos increased by over one million from 10.9 million in April 2010 to 11.9 million in April 2013 – consisting of 4.6 million unemployed (an increase of 52,000, using IBON estimates on National Statistics Office or NSO data) and 7.3 million underemployed (an increase of 955,000).

This is the most number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in the country’s history.

READ MORE...
Despite rapid economic growth job creation has been falling drastically in these first three years of the Aquino administration.

While 1.4 million jobs were reported created in April 2011 (from the year before) this fell to 1.0 million in April 2012 and then turned to a negative 21,000 in April 2013.

These occurred while the corresponding first quarter GDP growth rates were becoming more rapid at 4.6% (2011), 6.5% (2012), and 7.8% (2013).

The poorest are clearly left behind by economic growth.

Between April 2012 and April 2013, looking at employed persons by industry, the agriculture sector where the greatest concentration of poor is found lost 624,000 jobs.

The situation is even starker in employment by occupation group: 822,000 farmers, fisherfolk, workers and unskilled laborers and 26,000 professionals, associate professionals and technicians lost their jobs.

The steady erosion of the two most important productive sectors in the economy is also evident.

The share of agriculture in total employment has continued to fall from 32.5% in April 2010 to 31.3% in April 2013, and of manufacturing from 8.6% to 8.4% over the same period.

The share of agriculture in gross domestic product (GDP) is already down to its smallest in the country’s history and of manufacturing to as small as in the 1950s.

Poverty has remained unchanged. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported official poverty incidence as statistically unchanged at 27.9% in the first semester of 2012 compared to 28.8% and 28.6% in the same periods in 2006 and 2009, respectively. IBON estimates that the reported poverty incidence of 27.9% means around 26.8 million poor Filipinos – computed using a projected population of 96.2 million in 2012 – or an increase of some 3-4 million from 2009.

Official figures however grossly underestimate poverty with the implied official daily poverty threshold in the first semester of 2012 for instance being just some Php52. This is unreasonably low and insufficient for meeting all a person’s daily food and non-food needs for decent living.

Various corrections for the low official poverty threshold would instead show anywhere between 38-68 million poor Filipinos which is the worst scale of poverty in the country’s history.

The government has been reporting falling official poverty incidence following changes in methodology in 2003 and 2011 that, among others, lowered the poverty threshold.

But if the real value of the poverty threshold is maintained then the trend of unchanging poverty incidence has actually been going on not just since 2006 but for some fifteen years now since 1997 – with correspondingly rising absolute numbers of poor Filipinos.

This socioeconomic crisis for tens of millions of Filipinos occurs amid growing prosperity for a very few.

The net income of Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firms rose from Php438.1 billion in 2010 to Php501.3 billion in 2012.

The net income of the country’s Top 1000 corporations has been growing at an increasing rate in the latest three years for which data is available – their cumulative net income has gone up from Php756.0 billion in 2009, to Php804.1 billion in 2010 and to Php868.1 billion in 2011.

It is the same with the net worth of the 40 richest Filipinos.

Their collective worth has been steadily increasing from US$22.8 billion in 2010, to US$34.0 billion in 2011, and further to US$47.4 billion in 2012.

This combined net worth in 2012 was equivalent to over one-fifth (21%) of GDP for the year. These oligarchs’ business interests dominate the country’s real estate, ports, construction, trade, power, water, telecommunication, transport, mining, banking and finance, and food and beverage industries.

In 1985 the top 20% of families cornered 52.1% of total family income leaving the bottom 80% to divide the remaining 47.9% between them. This has barely changed over the last decades of supposed democracy and in 2009 the top 20% of families still claimed 51.9% of total family income (with the bottom 80% dividing the remaining 48.1%).

Aquino policies: creating the conditions for an unequal economy

The first three years of the Aquino administration affirms how the government’s economic policies systematically create the conditions for increasing the profits and wealth of a few. These are not accidental outcomes – much less due merely to corruption or rent-seeking – but are rather the inevitable result of economic policies aimed at creating favorable conditions for preferred foreign and domestic big business interests to profit and flourish.

The administration maintains neoliberal policies from previous governments and has even sought to deepen these against the interests of workers, peasants and the general public. For instance, the public-private partnership (PPP) program is most of all a scheme to mobilize public resources to directly and indirectly support corporate profits.

The government is providing regulatory risk guarantees and amending legislation so that the broadest number of private foreign and big local firms can avail of public support for their private profits.

Even the much-hyped multibillion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program is not so much a long-term sustainable anti-poverty program than a massive multi-billion peso effort to undercut criticism of the free market as well as to provide political legitimacy and to generate popular support for neoliberal “inclusive growth”.

Instead of recognizing that the state of the economy and the people today is because of accumulating trade and investment liberalization, privatization and deregulation, it is made to appear that it is because these have not been implemented enough.

Hence the Aquino administration’s determined thrust to extend neoliberal policies even to those last few areas of the economy that remain protected, even if only barely, by the last legal barriers under the 1987 Constitution.

If these neoliberal policies are not changed, the poverty and joblessness in the first three years of the Aquino government will continue in its remaining three years as well as compromise national development in the decades to come. IBON Features

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.


ACADEMIA.EDU

Article on Philippine China relations Uploaded by Hamzah Ahmad


CARTOON COURTESY OF The Spratlys - China vs Philippines Issue by Fordz-AnimsB Cartoons & Comics / Digital Media / Cartoons / Drawings©2014-2015 Fordz-Anims APPENDED TO ARTICLE BY PHNO

China must show magnanimity and restraint in South China Sea by BA HAMZAH

Relation between China and the Philippines bears a significant bearing on the regional maritime security. It is heading towards a head-on collision if both sides take no effort to defuse the situation. It has reached at a critical crossroads.

While China wants to avoid the label of a regional bully, the Philippines must make the first move to set the conditions that make it possible for Pax Sinica (Latin for Chinese Peace) to call for a face-saving truce.

Manila should realise that relationship with powerful neighbour, an assertive China that still believes in the Middle Kingdom mentality, cannot be a zero- sum game.

Thucydides gave us this famous dictum “Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most".

China and the Philippines established diplomatic relations since June 1975. However, as close neighbours, the peoples in both countries had been trading with each other since ancient times.

READ MORE...
Professor Wang Gung- Wu describes the early trading relations between mainland Chinese and the maritime states in Southeast Asia in an excellent book-The Nanhai Trade (1967)


The Nanhai trade : the early history of Chinese trade in the South China Sea; Author: Gungwu Wang; Publisher: Singapore : Times Academic Press, 1998. Edition/Format: Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats; Database: WorldCat --Summary: The Nanhai trade was the ancient maritime trade between China and Southeast Asia. China's dealings with the West, at this time, extended as far as India and Ceylon and, with a stretch of the imagination, Persia. This study examines the various features of the trade with Southeast Asia, especially the economic background and the Chinese imperial and regional attitudes towards it during the eleven centuries before the foundation of the Sung dynasty in 960 - roughly the period from the Han dynasty to that of the T'ang.

According to Gung Wu, traders from China sailing through the South China Sea would first stop in the Philippines especially in the Sulu Sea.

They would pick up local commodities including trepang (sea cucumbers), pearls and expensive corals in exchange for silk and household wares before moving to the other part of the Malay sea-the Nusantara maritime region.

The South China Sea was the main conduit for the Nanhai trade. It is still the most critical sea-lane of communication in the Asia Pacific region.

Almost a third of global trade in crude oil and over half of the trade in LNG goes through the South China Sea.

Aware of the historical link between China and Southeast Asia, during his recent visit to Indonesia October 2013, President Xi Jin-Ping revived the idea of the maritime silk route. Of course, today, besides a flourishing trade, driving

China’s interest in the South China Sea are power politics. Geo-politics, security, access to oil, gas and fisheries are mere pretexts. In short, China is no longer happy to be a wealthy state. It wants to exercise commensurate political power following years of humiliation at the hands of the Western colonial powers.

In our view, with the new economic power, it believes it can impose its primacy in the South China Sea against smaller powers with greater confidence by flexing its muscles.

The relations between Manila and Beijing since 1975 were mostly smooth and uneventful even during the Cold War period. Contrast this with the current situation where relations are in free fall.

Many reasons have contributed to this unfortunate state of affairs.

Probably the most critical, after internal politics and power politics, is mistrust and lack of good chemistry between the leaders. This mistrust was most evident during President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo’s reign.

One writer familiar with regional politics has described the relationship between Manila and Beijing under President Gloria Arroyo as the “Golden Era”.


Why China prefers Arroyo over Aquino --- China sees President Benigno Aquino III as 'provocative' and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as 'receptive,' an international think-tank says. FROM RAPPLER.COM NEWS; by Paterno Esmaquel II Published 8:39 PM, Jul 24, 2012 Updated 2:20 AM, Mar 18, 2014

Because of a special relationship, against all odds, in 2004, Manila (later Hanoi) and China undertook a difficult joint development project known as the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) in the Spratlys (renamed the West Philippines Sea in 2012).

The project lasted for four years only. Besides mistrust and fractious domestic politics, it was bureaucratic politics in the Philippines, which literally killed the project.

When President Benigno Aquino assumed office in June 2010, the fine cracks in Manila-Beijing relation became more visible. However, despite some strains, the diplomatic relation remained cordial. It began to succumb to more internecine internal bureaucratic politics, fanning strong anti-China nationalist sentiments by late 2011.

This hardening of position coincided with the US policy of pivoting/rebalancing its military deployment to the Asia Pacific region.

Geo-political considerations, mistrust and bad chemistry were further evident in July 2012 when Manila and Beijing disagreed openly at the 45th Asean Summit at Phnom Penh over what should be included in the Asean Joint Statement.

Slighted by lack of support from the Asean countries over the Scarborough Shoal (April 2012), Manila broke ranks. It took a tougher line against China that so far has not yielded positive dividends.

Fed up, in January 2013, Manila initiated the process of referring China to the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. Furious at

Manila’s intransigence not to withdraw the case before the Tribunal, in August 2013, China responded by rescinding an invitation to President Aquino to the China- Asean Trade Exposition at Nanning.

The Expo’s incident was more than a slap on Manila’s wrist. It was spiteful.

The Tribunal will hear the Philippines petition on 30 March 2014. China has informed the United Nations Tribunal in August 2013 that it would not participate in the proceedings.

When China ratified the UNCLOS in 1996, it stated it would not accept any form of compulsory jurisdiction under Article 298 of UNCLOS.

Manila was first upset when China seized the Mischief Reef in December 1994. Ostensibly, China wanted the Reef to provide a shelter for its fishermen.

Today, the shelter is a permanent two-storey brick building with very sophisticated surveillance systems. Under pressure from his domestic constituency, President Fidel Ramos succeeded to turn the event into a diplomatic success.

He persuaded China (August 1995) to sign a Code of Conduct and called on its powerful neighbour to settle their disputes in a “peaceful and friendly manner through consultations on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”


Fidel Ramos Member, ASEAN Eminent Persons Group -- Fidel V. Ramos, a former president of the Philippines (1992-1998), is a member of the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group that provided the concepts and guidelines for drafting the ASEAN Charter.

During a state visit to the Philippines in November 1996, President Jiang Zimen responded to President Ramos goodwill. Jiang offered Ramos an olive branch in the form of a vague proposal for a joint development the Spratlys.

China agreed to sign the Declaration because of its non-binding character. The Philippines have sought to settle their differences with China bilaterally and through the Asean network culminating in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties.

However, when Manila sought military and diplomatic assistance from Washington, China became more hostile. The next major blip in

China’s relations with the Philippines came in 2009 when Manila unilaterally passed the new Baseline Law to define its archipelagic baseline.

China, among others, promptly protested to this Act of incorporating the disputed Scarborough Shoal and other features in the Spratlys under its new Regime of Islands. Despite some choppy moments in the Spratlys, both sides managed the turbulence quite well.

The storm took a bad turn in May 2009 following the decision by China to submit the controversial nine--dash- line map to the United Nations, in response to an earlier joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam on an extended continental shelf regime.

Many Western scholars have accused China of triggering a hostile security environment in the South China Sea by this act, although the map has been around since 1947.

The worsening of the diplomatic relations has coincided with the decision of the US to return to the Asia Pacific waters.

The US policy to pivot to the region is widely seen by many as an attempt to contain the rise of China.

Manila saw the Sino-US schism as an opportunity to revive the 1951 Mutual Treaty of Friendship and to seek support from Washington to beef up its fledgling Navy.

However, Beijing saw this as an attempt by the US encouraging Manila to stand up to China’s overtures in the South China Sea.

The future in China- Philippine relations will depend on how Manila wants to play the game.

The ball is in Manila’s court. It is our view that Manila should reset its relations with China for the sake of regional security.

At the same time, China must demonstrate magnanimity and restraint in its dealing with a weaker state in the South China Sea.


KYOTO REVIEW

The Decline of a Presidency? Lisandro E. Claudio

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino had a good run since his election in 2010; he has been one of the most consistently popular presidents since the country’s redemocratization in 1986, but his popularity hit the buffers in 2013.

Seemingly struggling with PR missteps and crumbling political capital, Aquino seems to lack the charisma or ‘popular touch’ to deflect mounting criticism. As the public sentiment gradually turns it gives rise to the question:

“What kind of disillusionment will set in, when the touted messiah of Philippine politics fails to save?”

He is the most consistently popular president since the Philippines redemocratized in 1986 http://www.sws.org.ph/pr20131024.htm

His supporters claim his positive approval ratings are well deserved, touting the country’s unprecedented economic growth as proof that Filipinos chose the right leader.

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s supporters are the proudest, however, of the president’s seeming incorruptibility.

In the past when Filipinos asked fundamental questions, interior secretary Mar Roxas noted in a speech at the Ateneo de Manila University, that people should remember “we elected an honest man in 2010.”

Roxas is probably right. Aquino, who ran on an anti-corruption platform, has never been accused of stealing or cheating.

Through his pugilistic justice secretary, he has also filed cases against numerous public officials embroiled in corruption scandals; chief among them is the disgraced former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Most recently, the same justice secretary announced the government would charge its own customs chief—long considered a close Aquino ally—with malversation.

Integrity as a failsafe

Descriptions of Aquino’s honesty are the fail-safes of his communications team.

Whenever Aquino’s detractors—mostly front organizations of the small but noisy Communist Party and members of the political opposition under Vice President Jejomar Binay—criticize the administration, the presidential palace never forgets to remind citizens of Aquino’s character.

READ MORE...
His upstanding morality, they note, stems from him being the son of the country’s two most prominent anti-dictatorship icons: former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino—both staunch adversaries of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

So far, the blunt public relations strategy has worked; Aquino has remained popular.

But in the latter half of 2013, the presidency was beset by multiple crises, and Aquino’s much-vaunted popularity was tested. In July, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that 10 billion pesos (around 228 million USD) of legislators’ discretionary funds (popularly called the “pork barrel”) were channeled to ghost projects administered by bogus NGOs.

Though Aquino himself was not implicated, the institution of the presidency is linked to the scandal, as it is the executive branch that releases funds to legislators.

The power of the president to deny congressmen and senators to dip into the pork barrel allows it to exert undue influence on both houses of congress.

Aquino-integrity

Amid an increasing public clamor to abolish all discretionary funds to legislators, Aquino defended not only the legality of the pork barrel, but insisted that discretionary funds directed at local officials should address concrete needs.

“The idea that they can identify projects for those who should be helped, it’s not inherently bad,” he explained in October.

“What is clear is, there were those who abused it.” The Supreme Court disagreed; it declared pork barrel illegal on November 19, 2013.

Already reeling from the anti-pork sentiment, the political opposition dealt a painful blow to the president in October when it revealed that the presidential palace had realigned government savings to increase the discretionary funds of legislators.

In 2011 and 2012, the Department of Budget and Management channeled 9 percent of a P142.23 billion-peso fund called the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to the budgets of senators and congressmen.

In a nationally televised speech, Aquino insisted that the DAP was legal (but given the recent Supreme Court ruling on PDAF, he is likely to be proven wrong).

Feebly, he also emphasized that the money for legislators was only 9 percent of the fund. And more importantly, he reminded his audience that he was honest.

Sounding like a broken record

How far can Aquino use his reputation as an honest politician to stave off a precipitous decline in popularity and political capital?

Perhaps not very long. The public Aquino that is being increasingly seen is a detached and stubborn personality—one who is quick to pin the blame on anyone but himself.

It is this same version of Aquino that is now confronting the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour was correct to note that, despite the president’s formidable achievements as a reformer, the humanitarian catastrophe in the Visayas will define his presidency. His legacy is in peril.

Frosty and self-disciplined, Aquino seems to lack empathy for victims, or, at the very least, he lacks the ability to project it.

Upon arriving in disaster-affected areas, his first instinct was to audit the performance of local government units, rather than publicly commiserate with them and their citizens.


Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino

There are very few similarities between Aquino, the reformer, and his corrupt predecessor Arroyo. But watching Aquino distribute relief goods to affected communities, it clearly shows his standoffish nature and how he lacks charisma.

This is no touchy-feely president that connects seamlessly with the pain of others; he will not hug babies, and, unlike Obama, he will not shed tears for fallen compatriots.

In Tacloban city, a businessman told the president that mobs looted and pillaged the city. He asked the president to consider implementing a state of emergency. An annoyed Aquino responded: “But you did not die, right?”

He may be the best president the Philippines has had in recent memory, but Aquino is increasingly becoming a public relations disaster.

Criticism Sticks

In times of national calamity, the country not only requires material help; it also needs someone to rally to.

Aquino may not think he is doing anything wrong, but that is hardly the point in the popularity contest of Philippine politics. Not doing things wrong is not the same as doing things right.

When Aquino comes off as an irritable aloof bureau-brat, it only turns people away from him.

When the local and foreign media, fairly or unfairly, accuse the government of inefficiency amid the crisis, the criticism sticks.

One need not be a political analyst to predict that once opinion polls have been updated to factor in the DAP scandal and the response to Haiyan, Aquino’s popularity will take a dive.

This is a shame. A lame duck president with a strong anti-corruption platform and significant links to civil society would be the latest of the litany of political disasters that have befallen the country.

If this comes about and adversaries sense blood, how will the political opposition exploit the crisis?

What kind of disillusionment will set in when the touted messiah of Philippine politics fails to save?

And given the seemingly changeless nature of politics in Manila, will it even really matter?

For those among us who still believe in what the president stands for and his reform agenda, having to face up to these questions is very saddening. Lisandro E. Claudio

Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, Young Academics Voice, January 2014


TRIBUNE

Admin solons all praises for Mar as standard bearer Written by Tribune Wires
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00


ROXAS

Administration lawmakers yesterday welcomed President Aquino’s pronouncement that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas remains on top of the list of those considered to become the ruling Liberal Party’s standard bearer in the 2016 national elections, saying Roxas will be the perfect successor to continue the administration’s reform agenda.

“Even if I am not a member of the Liberal Party (LP), I believe that if there is a candidate who can continue the reforms begun by President Aquino, it is no other than Mar Roxas.

“He (Mar) is known to be sincere in his work, reliable, and not tainted with any wrongdoing,” said Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP).

An elated Roxas pronounced yesterday that he is ready to take on the challenge of continuing President Aquino’s straight path governance.

“I thank the President for the trust he has given me. What he said was very clear and I accept it wholeheartedly,” Roxas in an ambush interview in a Bulacan town on Tuesday.

When asked if he’s ready for the upcoming presidential elections, Roxas said: “Right now, we are in a good place. It is not perfect, but we can advance further.”

Roxas also met with controversial Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte along with Kingdom of God Pastor Quiboloy, a known supporter of Duterte.

READ MORE...
Alhough Roxas said he merely discussed the peace and order situation with Duterte, speculations were rife that Roxas was wooing Duterte to become his running mate, for him to get the Mindanao votes, instead of tapping Sen. Grace Poe, who is from the Luzon area, more specifically, Metro Manila.

Roxas may also have been peeved at the remark made by Poe when she said she is more comfortable with Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero in relation to the presidential elections, as the LPs were talking of a Roxas-Poe tandem.

Aquino said his LP will announce who will be the party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 elections either when he delivers his last State of the Nation Address in July or after his Sona.

Barzaga expressed confidence that an endorsement from the President and a possible tandem with Sen. Grace Poe would help carry Roxas’ presidential bid.

Barzaga pointed out that Roxas has not yet formally declared his candidacy, the President has not yet officially endorsed his candidacy and, should their talks work out and Poe agrees to the proposal, a Roxas-Poe would be unbeatable in the 2016 presidential elections. Moreover, the Liberal Party is the largest political party at present, he claimed.

A Roxas-Poe tandem, Barzaga said, will be a solid one since the pairing is the best fit, especially with Roxas’ experience as a congressman, senator, and a member of both the Estrada and Arroyo cabinets.

A stalwart of a coalition party of the LP in the Lower House, however, said that the pathetic ratings of Roxas in popularity surveys would negate such an “unbeatable tandem.”

The lawmaker said it would be unthinkable for a politician to support someone who is perceived as a loser.

“I don’t think Mar (Roxas) would be able to get much support with his ratings,” the lawmaker said.
House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales said Roxas is, and will always be, the top LP presidential bet.

“He has demonstrated the capability and ability to become president,” Gonzales said.

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo said she is confident that the president would choose the one who would continue with the reforms instituted under the Aquino administration.

“In response to President Aquino’s statement that DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is at the “top of the list” of potential presidential bets, Robredo trusts that the president will choose one who is most worthy to continue the reforms initiated under daang matuwid,” Robredo said in a statement.
Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte also joined the band.

Belmonte, also national vice chairperson of the Liberal Party’s Political and Electoral Commission, said Roxas deserves to be picked by the President as the ruling party’s standard-bearer in next year’s national elections. Aquino and Roxas are Liberal Party’s chairman and president, respectively.

“I have personally witnessed Secretary Roxas’ brand of leadership on a number of disasters that struck the country. He’s a no-nonsense kind of a person. A problem-solver, he gets the job done,” said Belmonte.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, remains optimistic on the possibility of President Aquino eventually endorsing their party’s presumptive candidate, Roxas as standard bearer of the Liberal Party (LP) in 2016.

“He is the preference of our Liberal Party members. We also have a lot of allies and members who can be presented as a candidate , but the preference is for one from the LP,” he said.

Drilon was reacting to reports quoting President Aquino saying that Roxas remains to be on the top of his list of preferred presidential bets for the 2016 national elections.

Aquino has recently admitted seeking out neophyte Sen. Grace Poe to a meeting to discuss the forthcoming presidential and vice presidental polls but made no mention as to what higher position is being offered by him.

Drilon acknowledged the fact that the President, who is the ruling party’s chairman, can eventually decide on the fate of the party as to who will be fielded as their frontrunners in the presidential and vice presidential posts.

Drilon’s statements came when the name of Senator Escudero was also being floated as a possible running mate of Poe, in the event that the latter is fielded as presidential candidate of the administration in next year’s elections.
By Gerry Baldo, Charlie V. Manalo and Angie M. Rosales


INQUIRER

Call it Multimillionaires’ Club; Total wealth of Aquino Cabinet rises by P121M Christian V. Esguerra @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:21 AM | Thursday, May 28th, 2015


The Aquino Cabinet’s wealthiest (from left): Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

Call it Multimillionaires’ Club.

The combined wealth of members of President Aquino’s official family increased by more than P121 million last year, based on their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The Aquino Cabinet’s wealth grew from P2.85 billion in 2013 to P2.97 billion the following year, thanks partly to the 9.59-percent increase in Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s net worth.

Del Rosario remained the wealthiest Cabinet member with a P838,809,918.82 net worth last year, up by more than P73 million from the previous year.

The President himself declared a net worth of P68.3 million in 2014.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro, a member of the De La Salle Brothers, was the lone nonmillionaire among 36 members of the Cabinet. He declared a net worth of only P471,064.46.

Luistro, whose community is described as “full-time religious educators,” listed no real properties or “business interests and financial connections.” His net worth was based solely on money he kept in two bank accounts.

CONTINUE READING...

Richest and poorest Cabinet members in 2014

Based on their 2014 statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), these are the top 10 richest and poorest Cabinet members

Top 10 richest Cabinet members


Top 10 poorest Cabinet members


Next to him as the “poorest” member of the Cabinet was Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, who declared a net worth of P4,101,856.77. Deles was among six officials who declared a net worth of less than P10 million.

The others were Secretary Manuel Mamba (P8.9 million), Political Adviser Ronald Llamas (P6.39 million), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (P4.88 million), Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz (P4.86 million) and Social Secretary Corazon Soliman (P4.54 million).

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima placed second among the top Cabinet millionaires last year, dislodging Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez whose 2014 net worth was P283,425,800. Purisima declared a net worth of P298,940,320, which represented a P19.9-million increase from 2013.

Still at No. 4 was Interior Secretary Mar Roxas even if his net worth dropped by P8.9 million from 2013 to 2014. He is now worth P202,080,452.71, down from P211,027,479.88. Roxas declared P81.88 million in total liabilities.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo kept the fifth spot with a net worth of P148,636,967, which was around P2 million less than the one he declared in 2013.

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras moved a notch higher from No. 7 in 2013. His 2014 net worth was P134,247,040.17, up by P14.4 million from the previous year.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla also improved with a net worth of P122,095,110, which was P5 million higher than 2013. He now sat at No. 7.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Benjamin Caguiao was down two places from No. 6 in 2013. He is now at No. 8 with a P117,175,000 net worth.

At No. 9 was Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya with P108,115,680.13, followed by former Health Secretary Enrique Ona with P93,692,345.56.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala remained at 11th place with a net worth of P91,170,935.37.


INQUIRER

Abad, Paje have biggest number of relatives in gov’t Christian V. Esguerra @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 7:26 PM | Thursday, May 29th, 2014


ABAD

MANILA, Philippines — Which member of President Benigno Aquino’s official family has the most relatives in government?

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje top the list with nine each, based on their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth for 2013.

Abad, one of the President’s most trusted lieutenants, declared four nephews, two first cousins and a niece all working in the government as of last year.

Topping the list of his relatives in the government is his wife, Henedina, who is a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, followed by daughter Julia, who heads the Presidential Management Staff.

Three of Paje’s relatives in government work at Bicol University, while a niece is assigned to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ office in Region 5. A nephew of his is also a policeman in the same region. Other relatives held jobs in the provinces.

Abad and Paje ranked 16th and 17th, respectively, in the President’s Cabinet of mostly millionaires. Only Bro. Armin Luistro of the Department of Education was a non-millionaire with a total net worth of P433,392 in the form of cash kept in banks.

Abad declared a net worth of P32.77 million and Paje P30.35 million.

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Among Abad’s declared assets totalling P7.51 million were two residential properties in Barangay (village) Culiat in Quezon City, a lot in Laurel, Batangas, and an agricultural property in Mayed Ahas, Batanes.

Early on in the Aquino administration, the Abad family came under scrutiny for getting key positions in the new government. Abad’s son Luis also used to serve as Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima’s chief of staff.

Responding to criticism in 2010, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said then that the Abads’ “qualifications will speak for themselves.”

Based on his 2013 SALN, Abad was at least P10 million richer than his daughter Julia, who ranked 20th with a declared net worth of P22.36 million.

Julia Abad declared two vehicles with a combined acquisition cost of P1.6 million, while her father mentioned four.

The daughter’s lone declared real property was a lot in Quezon City with an acquisition cost of P10.2 million. She had a total of P750,000 in credit card liabilities.

Abad and Paje were followed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala with a total of eight relatives also working in government. His brother Vicente is a congressman representing the second district of Quezon Province.

Alcala’s nephew Roderick and cousin Anacleto Jr. are the mayor and administrator, respectively, of Lucena City. Another nephew, Anacleto III, is a councilor in the same city.

The agriculture secretary ranked 11th among Cabinet members with a net worth of P90.77 million.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has seven relatives in government. The list is led by his brother Leopoldo, the governor of Leyte. The secretary’s aunt, Carmen Cari, is the mayor of Baybay town in Leyte, while cousin Michael is the vice mayor.

Petilla’s cousin Carlo Loreto is a board member in Tacloban City, while Vincent Emnas is Leyte’s provincial administrator. Still another cousin, Jose Carlos Cari, is a congressman representing the fifth district of Baybay.

Health Undersecretary Janette Garin, a longtime congresswoman, is a cousin of Petilla.

Secretary Petilla’s declared net worth for 2013 was P117.095 million.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. is the brother-in-law of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo. Ochoa had a net worth of P18.150 million while Montejo declared P59.969 million.

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FASTBACK 2014

Aquino won’t let Abad go; ‘I can’t accept that doing right by our people is wrong’ TJ Burgonio and Arlyn de la Cruz; Correspondent at large @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:20 AM | Saturday, July 12th, 2014


THE EMBATTLED AND THE TRUE BELIEVER Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad (left) gets to keep his post after President Aquino rejected his offer to resign. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

 “I have no regrets creating DAP. You do not regret anything done to reform a system for better transparency, efficiency and accountability. On top of that, our [reforms expanded] the economy and [hugely] benefited our people.” Aquino July 12,, 2014

President Benigno Aquino III used his Cabinet meeting on Friday to declare that he is standing by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and is rejecting his offer of resignation on Thursday.

“I have decided not to accept his resignation. To accept his resignation is to assign to him a wrong and I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is wrong,” the President said.

Mr. Aquino briefly explained his reason for keeping Abad in the Cabinet and defended him.

“The notion in the current atmosphere is that the DAP was bad for our people. Even our most vociferous critics grant the DAP has benefited our people,” he said.

Abad’s resignation letter to the President was seen as a move to save the administration from growing criticism over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a budgetary invention of Abad to impound hundreds of billions of pesos of government funds and distribute them to lawmakers and recipients and projects of Malacañang’s choosing.

The embattled Abad has found a provision in the Constitution that apparently escaped the scrutiny of the learned justices of the Supreme Court in justifying his brainchild, the DAP, which the high court last week ruled unconstitutional.

The provision he cited is Article VI Section 25 (5) of the 1987 Constitution giving authority to the President to augment appropriations using savings referred initially as “Reserve Control Account (RCA).”

The provision reads: “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the heads of constitutional commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”

Abad claimed that all post-Edsa presidencies had employed various mechanisms like the DAP to use savings and unprogrammed funds, the first of which was the RCA first used by the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

A ‘reform intervention’

Abad’s explanation is contained in a two-page letter, with documents and attachments, explaining the DAP, which he sent to this reporter and broadcast journalist Jake Maderazo on July 2. [Reporter De la Cruz and Maderazo are cohosts of a morning program called “Banner Story” on Inquirer Radio 990khz.–Ed.)

In the letter, Abad described the DAP as a “reform intervention to accelerate public spending and boost the economy” and a measure that was adopted to address the delay in the implementation of priority projects and inefficient disbursement of budget funds.

Abad said that through the DAP, programs and projects worth P140.8 billion were implemented from 2011 to 2013.

The DAP as a reform intervention had served its purpose “as a fiscal stimulus measure” and was thus recommended for termination in a memorandum to President Aquino on Dec. 28, 2013, sent by Abad and the other members of the government’s economic team—Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, the letter said.

In the memorandum to the President, Abad, Purisima and Balisacan said the DAP had “achieved its objective as a fiscal stimulus measure.”

All presidents did it

The DAP was uncovered through a privilege speech by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in September 2013.

In his July 2 letter to this reporter, Abad said all post-Edsa presidencies had a scheme to use savings and unprogrammed funds using various mechanisms.

He said the RCA was first introduced during the administration of President Corazon Aquino in 1989 through Administrative Order No. 137 entitled “Directing the Adoption of Economy Measures and the Imposition of Budget Reserves for Fiscal Year 1989 for Purposes of Generating Additional Funds for the Implementation of the Salary Standardization Plan and Other Priority Programs.”

He claimed the same mechanism to use budget savings was also followed by the administrations of President Fidel Ramos and President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, citing “economic difficulties brought about by the peso depreciation” and “erosion of targeted surplus and shortfall in revenues.”

Arroyo’s ‘Overall Savings’

During the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the RCA was replaced with the term “Overall Savings” and was also used as a mechanism to augment priority programs using savings to include unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments, Abad claimed.

Abad said the DAP was recommended for termination in December 2013 not because of the controversy it generated after the Estrada expose but because it had served its purpose.

He cited the downward trend in the release of DAP funds for projects, from P75.1 billion in 2011, P53.2 billion in 2012 to P16 billion by the end of 2013.

In claiming “good faith” in the creation of the DAP, Abad said the reform intervention ushered in a “regime of transparency, efficiency and accountability” of public spending and cited even more reforms in the 2014 national budget.

No regrets

The letter concludes with what may be considered a plea.

“I would be most grateful to you if you can share these with your peers and various networks so we can bring the budget closer to the Filipino people and ultimately empower them as our active partners in establishing good governance and sustainable economic growth,” Abad said.

Asked if he regretted creating the DAP, Abad replied in a text message: “I have no regrets creating DAP. You do not regret anything done to reform a system for better transparency, efficiency and accountability. On top of that, our [reforms expanded] the economy and [hugely] benefited our people.”


INQUIRER

Aquino: K to 12 program not a burden; PH ready for it Nestor Corrales @NCorralesINQ INQUIRER.net 1:27 PM | Friday, May 29th, 2015

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday defended the K to 12 program, saying that the Philippines is ready for its full implementation in 2016 despite the notion that it is only an additional burden to parents, students and educators.

Speaking at the K to 12 event at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Aquino said the program has undergone years of planning and consultation.

“Handa na tayo. Bunga ang K to 12 ng ilang taong pagpaplano’t masusing konsultasyon, kasama ang mga katuwang natin sa sektor ng edukasyon. (We are ready. K-12 is the result of many years of planning and consultation),” Aquino said.

READ: K to 12 lengthens the suffering, increases the burden

The President allayed the fears that K to 12 would be another burden to parents and students.

“Imbes na isiping pabigat ang karagdagang dalawang taon sa paaralan ng ating mga estudyante, ituring po natin itong pagkakataon upang higit nilang mapahusay ang sarili tungo sa pag-abot ng kanilang mga pangarap (Instead of thinking as a burden the additional two years in school, let’s think of this as an opportunity to further educate ourselves in reaching our goals),” he said.

He said the Philippines has been left behind, citing that it is among the three countries in the world with a 10-year basic education program and the only one in Asia.

Aquino cited examples of Filipino workers abroad who found it hard to land a job because some employers prefer graduates who finished a 12-year basic education, adding that some were required to take another two years of education to meet their standards.

“Yun po ay nagiging problema ng ating mga manggagawa. (This has become a problem of our workers),” he said.

With the K-12 program, he said, the country’s educational system would be able to align to international standards.

According to him, students can choose “specialized tracks” whether in academics, technical and vocational education, even in sports and the arts.

“Sa pamamagitan nito, sinisiguro nating may sapat na dunong na ang ating mga kabataan pagka-graduate ng high school upang mas maging produktibong bahagi ng lipunan (Through this, we can assure that students would have enough competencies after gradauting from high school and be able to become productive members of society),” he said.

According to him, there is enough fund allocated in the education sector due to the reforms initiated by the government.

He said the backlogs left by the previous administration are being addressed by the Department of Education.

Despite the fears of many educators that they would be displaced because of the K to 12, he said the government would be needing at least 30,000 teachers for senior high school.

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Due to the K to 12, there will be a two-year period wherein there will be no students enrolling in college.

Displaced teachers, he said, have the option to be part of the new teachers for senior high school or take advantage of the two-year gap to study master’s degree.

The President assured that the government would not let the “golden opportunity” to pass.

Despite standing by the program, Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro welcomed the opposition to its implementation.

“Walang reporma na walang oposisyon. Ang nakakatakot, ‘yung wala kang boses na naririnig (There is always opposition to reform. What’s scary is when voices of the people are no longer heard),” Luistro said in his speech.

It was in 2013 when Aquino signed the K to 12 program or the Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum.

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GMA NEWS NETWORK COMMENTARY

COMMENTARY Digong Duterte and K-12 By RENE SAGUISAG May 29, 2015 6:32pm

Davao Mayor Digong Duterte says were he a gross human rights violator, political arch foe Boy Nograles would have long been in the Promised Land (or in a hot place).

Boy is safe because he and Digong are Ruling Class. May immunity.

Ang kinakaya at tinetepok lang naman ng astig na si Digong ay yaong mga kumag, hampaslupa, yagit, descamisados, atbp. The unwashed "stealing" for their starving family victims devastated by a calamity, following the first law of mankind: survival.

No member of the Congress or the Cabinet, judiciary, Constitutional Commissions, and the like. Cuz they can fight back.

Digong goes by the fixed star that he who has less in life should have nothing in law. (The paraphrase should be traced to Thomas Reed Powell of Harvard, not beloved Monching Magsaysay, whose speechwriter should have made the proper attribution.)

On K-12, I am a K-9 product.

In 1946, I enrolled in Makati Elem. I had no birth certificate from Mauban, Quezon. I was told to reach my ear with the opposite hand. I could. Enrolled.

After a few weeks accelerated. Five years plus four in Rizal High.

In both schools, we had teachers from pre-WW II. The type who affects eternity, per Henry Brooks Adams. Ang gagaling. Dedicated. Many were spinsters, married to their job.

Today, I fear many of our would-be public school teachers have gone abroad, for better pay for their loved ones. Without taking away anything from our current public school teachers.

We were privileged to have teachers who were the equals of the best Ateneo, La Salle and San Beda had to offer.

Without the excellent mentors we had, not even K-20 may work today.

If we can improve the working conditions of teachers with better pay, health care and pensions, the teachers who affect eternity won't leave for abroad, with the high hidden social cost of separation.

That would be one positive legacy of PNoy, one fixed star to go by.

We need teachers who affect eternity, who never know where their influence stops.

Rene Saguisag is a former senator who authored the Code of Ethics for Government Officials and Employees.


MANILA TIMES

China moves weapons to reclaimed areas – report May 28, 2015 11:11 pm by FERNAN MARASIGAN, JOEL M. SY EGCO AND AFP


Reclamation: A satellite image taken in April shows a Chinese airstrip under construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters EXCLUSIVE  FROM REUTERS China has moved weaponry onto artificial islands that it is building in contested areas of the South China Sea, adding to the risks of a confrontation with the United States and its regional security partners including Australia.

China has reportedly moved weapons to artificial islands it was building in areas it occupied in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), a report in an Australian newspaper said on Thursday.

“Australian officials are concerned that China could also introduce long-range radar, anti-aircraft guns and regular surveillance flights that will enable it to project military power across a maritime expanse which include some of Australia’s busiest trading lanes,” a report in The Age read.

Australia’s Defense Secretary Dennis Richardson in earlier statements challenged China’s reclamation works on areas it occupies in the West Philippine Sea.

The Age report quoting sources said Australian diplomats have dropped “talking points” about Australia not taking sides in the multi-layered territorial contest, which Chinese officials have used as evidence of Australian support.

But a draft of Canberra’s first “defense white paper” said Australian intelligence agencies are upgrading their strategic threat assessment of the situation.

READ MORE...
The revised strategic assessment, The Age report said, will show how the reclamations could enable China to greatly amplify threats of coercive force in order to play a gate-keeping role across hotly-contested maritime areas, if left unchecked.

“Fairfax understands that these concerns are prompting discussions in senior military circles that could lead to Australian naval officers and air force pilots embarking on ‘freedom of navigation’ missions to demonstrate that Canberra does not accept Beijing’s hardening claims,” the report added.

Fairfax refers to Fairfax Media Ltd., Australia’s biggest media company that owns the Melbourne-based daily The Age.

Among the “freedom of navigation missions” in the West Philippine Sea that Australian security officials are considering include overflights and “sail throughs” as well as exercises involving various regional partners. These will be discussed thoroughly when Australian defense and military officials meet with Prime Minister Tony Abbot in the next two weeks.

Japan, which is also mired in a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea, recently announced its participation for the first time in the US-Australian military drills called Talisman Sabre, which kicks off in July in Rockhampton and Darwin in Australia.

The possible involvement of the Australians in the West Philippine Sea dispute developed as US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart, Voltaire Gazmin, on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the country remains “iron-clad” and called for an end to land reclamations in the South China Sea, officials said.


VOLATAIRE GAZMIN

“First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamations by any claimant. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features,” Carter said.

“Second, and there should be no mistake: The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world,” he added.

Gazmin is in Hawaii where the US Pacific Command, a unified combatant command of the US armed forces responsible for the Pacific Ocean, is based for talks with the Pentagon chief.

Citing the 1951 Philippine-US mutual defense treaty, Carter “stressed that the US commitment to defend the Philippines is iron-clad,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

The meeting came as Carter embarks on a tour of Asia and amid rising tensions over Beijing’s massive effort to build artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Carter and Gazmin “agreed that all parties involved in the South China Sea should seek a peaceful resolution of disputes, immediately halt land reclamation[s] and stop further militarization of disputed features,” the Pentagon statement said.

Manila has said it will keep flying over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea despite Beijing’s warnings.

Australian Defense Secretary Richardson on Wednesday said China’s “unprecedented” land reclamations raise questions of “intent” and risks of “miscalculation.”

“It is legitimate to ask the purpose of the land reclamation[s], tourism appears unlikely,” Richardson told the New South Wales state Parliament.

“Given the size and modernization of China’s military, the use by China of land reclamation[s] for military purposes would be of particular concern,” he said.

Fomenting unrest Malacañang on Thursday said it welcomes US Defense Secretary Carter’s statements, particularly his call on China to cease its reclamation activities, noting that other countries around the world share the same view.

“A number of countries have made statements expressing concern that China’s reclamation activities are not beneficial to the maintenance of stability and peace in the region. We continue calling for an unimpeded freedom of navigation and freedom of aviation over the disputed waters because this is crucial to the world’s economy and commerce,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in Filipino.

“It has been Manila’s position not to take unnecessary measures like the reclamation work[s] China is undertaking because in our view, the status quo should prevail and all should wait for the arbitral tribunal to have a clear-cut ruling on how the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea applies in this dispute,” Coloma added.


MALAYA OPINION OF THE DAY

Gazmin runs to Uncle Sam Submitted by Ellen Tordesillas on May 27, 2015


by Ellen Tordesillas

DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was interviewed by reporters in the sidelines of the Philippine Navy anniversary celebration in Cavite last Monday.

He talked of his upcoming trip to Hawaii (set for today) to attend the turnover ceremonies of the Commander of the Pacific Command.

Read the following excerpts of the interview transcript and tell me if you feel proud being a Filipino after reading/listening to him.

Q. On China challenging US planes over the Spratlys.

Gazmin: “Well unang nakakabahala, we feel concerned about what is happening in the West Philippine Sea na pati yung, nadidisrupt na yung freedom of navigation, freedom of flight na pati yung US na lumilipad sa international territory ay nacha-challenge so parang nagtatayo sila ng sarili nilang control over the airspace at saka sa kwan.”

Q. Is it ADIZ? (An Air Defense Identification Zone is airspace over land or water in which the identification, location, and control of civil aircraft is required in the interest of national security of the government imposing it.)

Gazmin: Parang ADIZ so wala pang formal but going towards that direction so nakaka-concern, kaya that is why I will be attending the turnover ceremony of PACOM (Pacific Command) commander, Admiral Samuel Locklear. Mag-uusap din kami ni US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Q; Will you talk about West Philippine Sea?

Gazmin: Itatanong natin hanggang saan yung tulong na ibibigay sa atin, ano ang magagawa nila. Kung paano tayo matutulungan dahil right now tayo ang naapi. Tingnan natin kung anong extent ng assistance na maibibigay nila to more or less keep us safe from harassment.

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Q: There are congressmen who are suggesting that that we allow the United States military bases in the country to ward off China.

Gazmin: Alam mo sa totoo lang kung hindi umalis yung Amerika hindi tayo magkakaganito di ba. Dahil dati yung Ayungin, a yung ating Bajo de Masinloc e dating impact area ng Philippine Armed Forces at US Armed Forces. Tapos ngayon inaangkin na nila, di ba?Kung hindi sila umalis hindi maangkin yun.

Q. Update on EDCA? (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which allows the United States to station troops and equipment in Philippine territory. It was signed on April 28, 2014. It is being questioned before the Supreme Court.)

Gazmin: We are all hoping for a very positive verdict on EDCA. Malaki ang maitutulong ng EDCA in the sense that there will be joint use of facilities and use of equipment by both Armed forces.

*** Blog: www.ellentordesillas.com


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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