NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

AQUINO ECHOES LATE MOTHER IN MESSAGE OF FRIENDSHIP TO JAPAN


Photo by Tarra Quismundo 
On the last day of his state visit, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday left a message of friendship to Japan at Nippon Press Center, echoing the message of his mother former President Corazon Aquino 29 years ago. In what seemed to be a reference to the deepening ties between the Philippines and Japan, Aquino highlighted the significant role that loyal friends play in dealing with life’s hardships in his inscription on the guestbook of Japan National Press Club. “The difficulties of life evaporate amidst the support of true, loyal and dependable friends,” the President wrote. The press club showed Aquino his late mother’s message signed on Nov. 13, 1986, in the same Tokyo building, which had the same theme of friendship: “For pain and sorrow I have never been alone. Many thanks, dear Lord.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Cha-cha will beget another dictator’ - Aquino


TOKYO—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday dismissed anew proposals to amend the Constitution to extend his term, warning that such a move could lead to the installation of another dictator in the Philippines.
“My answer to those who are espousing an extension of terms is, we will undoubtedly have benefits for having a government that will not have to relearn how to govern, but at the same time we open the doors to somebody who might emulate [former President Ferdinand] Marcos and decide [to stay in office] forever,” the President said in a discussion of Philippine domestic issues with Japanese journalists. Marcos was elected to a four-year term in 1965. He won reelection in 1969 then declared martial law in 1972 to avoid leaving office in 1973 and went on to rule the Philippines until he was toppled from power in the People Power Revolution in 1986. It was under martial law that Mr. Aquino’s father, Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., the leader of the opposition to Marcos, was assassinated as he returned from exile in the United States. The murder of Senator Aquino galvanized support for the peaceful revolution that swept President Aquino’s mother, Corazon Aquino, to power. No to amendment  It was under Cory Aquino’s presidency that the current Constitution was adopted, and she resisted all efforts by her allies to amend the Charter to extend her six-year term. READ MORE...

ALSO: Quorum woes bare lack of House BBL (renamed BLBAR) backing


The BBL House Plenary Session ******** “Quorum was a big problem on Thursday, it could be worse on a Friday (yesterday),” Lopez said. Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, one of the vice chairmen of the 75-man House ad hoc committee on BBL, admitted that they were having a hard time to form a quorum because most of the solons in the provinces went home to meet their constituents.
“They (congressmen) have decided to go home for they have their different reasons that is why we are having a difficult time to form a quorum,” Oaminal said.The House leadership extended the session until Friday to give way for the long queue of solons who wanted to asked questions to the sponsor of the BBL. There were 30 solons who have listed to question the sponsor. He said that they have decided to suspend the scheduled session last Friday because some of their colleagues who are present on Thursday begged not to attend the session. Oaminal was the one sponsoring BBL on the floor being deliberated by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat last night (Wednesday) when they decided to suspend the session for lack of quorum after it was questioned by BUHAY Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza. House deliberation on BBL will resume Monday next week. Former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, meanwhile, continued to push the creation of a Constitutional Convention that will have both elected and appointed delegates to ensure equal representation and avoid domination by political parties and dynasties.Puno is expected to make the call today when he leads the launch of Bagong Sistema, Bagong Pag-asa: A Call for System Change, a movement advocating an overhaul of the country’s political structure to address pressing problems, including the perceived infirmities in the proposed law creating a system of government in Muslim Mindanao.******* READ FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO: ‘BEST’ tandem? Binay eyes Erap Estrada as running mate


Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday raised the possibility of running again with former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada but this time, the latter would be his running mate in 2016. Estrada and Binay ran together in 2010 but the former president lost to President Benigno Aquino III while Binay won against Aquino’s running mate, now Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. “Hindi na Erap-Binay, Binay-Erap na. ‘Yun, ang tawag doon “BEST”. Alam mo anong “BEST”? BINAY-ESTRADA,” said Binay of the portmanteau in an interview in Biliran this Friday, a copy of the transcript was furnished to reporters by his office. (It’s not Erap-Binay, but it’s going to be Binay-Erap. It’s called “BEST.” You know what is BEST? It’s Binay-Estrada.) The Vice President confirmed that he and Estrada met last May 31 but said they did not talk about the possible team up in 2016. But when asked if Estrada was among those being considered as his running mate next year, Binay said, “Oo. We have a search committee na talagang naghahanap ng magiging katambal ko.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: K to 12 transition fund in CHED budget


Philstar.com/File photo  The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will include an P8-billion allocation in its proposed 2016 budget to support professors who will be affected by the implementation of the K to 12 program.
During the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum on Wednesday, CHED commissioner Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista said the allocation would ensure that the agency has a transition fund even if Congress fails to pass the proposed P29-billion Tertiary Transition Education Fund (TETF). Bautista stressed that the passage of the measure is still the better option as it would ensure that CHED would have funds to implement projects to help affected professors during the entire five-year transition period of K to 12. Without the law, CHED would have to defend the budget before the administration, which is set to change next year in time with the first year of implementation of the K to 12. Latest data from CHED showed that 13,634 professors and 11,456 non-teaching staff may be displaced because of the additional two years in basic education, way below the earlier estimates that projected the displacement of around 56,000 educators. READ MORE...

ALSO: P3-trillion budget LP warchest — solon


AQUINO, ABAD  LOADED WITH LUMP SUMS, INFRA CASH The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which is headed by Liberal Party (LP) strategist Florencio “Butch” Abad, is preparing an “election warchest” for the ruling LP through the P3-trillion national budget for 2016, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon warned yesterday. DBM earlier had disclosed that it was set to pitch a 15-percent increase in the national budget for 2016, from the current P2.6 trillion to P3 trillion. “Expect the 2016 national budget to be loaded with infrastructure funding, lump sums for questionable programs, and various nefarious items all aimed at funding the 2016 election stint of the ruling party,” Ridon said at a press briefing. The youth lawmaker pointed out that even the P2.6-trillion national budget for this year is already ridden with “hidden pork projects” that aim to solidify the ruling party’s position in the upcoming polls. In the budget deliberations last year, Ridon and his colleagues in the Makabayan bloc had pointed out several anomalies and “hidden pork” in the 2015 national budget. The legislator feared that with a budget that essentially “legalized” the “savings scheme” of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the LP and other allies of the President will be able to divert public funds to their election warchest. “The 2015 budget will undoubtedly authorize corruption-ridden transactions in the run-up for the presidential elections. The same could be said of the 2016 budget,” Ridon said. DBM has yet to submit the 2016 national budget proposal to the President for review. Once the President approves the DBM’s proposed budget, it is then submitted to Congress a day after the last State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Aquino on July 27.READ MORE...

ALSO INQUIRER OPINION: K-12: Who loses, who profits


Opposition to the Aquino administration’s flagship education program has snowballed, leading not only to protests but also to five petitions in the Supreme Court against Republic Act No. 10533 or the K-to-12 (kindergarten to Grade 12) law.
With the Department of Education (DepEd) and the administration largely dismissing criticisms against the K-to-12 program, it is high time to elevate the discourse on the program’s real impact on students, teachers and even workers. K-12 ready? Perhaps, the most discussed pitfall of the K-to-12 program is the government’s ill-preparedness for the full-blown implementation of the curriculum. Despite the annual increases in the budget for school buildings, the administration has yet to close the classroom gap. At the beginning of the Aquino presidency, his administration stated in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 that the country lacked an estimated 113,000 classrooms. However, in the updated PDP published in 2014, DepEd reported that only 66,813 classrooms had been constructed since 2010. Curiously, the government also reduced the classroom backlog estimate from 113,000 to only 66,800 in an apparent attempt to hide the underperformance. READ MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Aquino echoes late mother in message of friendship to Japan


Photo by Tarra Quismundo

MANILA, JUNE 8, 2015 (INQUIRER) Tarra Quismundo, Yuji Gonzales - June 5th, 2015 - On the last day of his state visit, President Benigno Aquino III on Friday left a message of friendship to Japan at Nippon Press Center, echoing the message of his mother former President Corazon Aquino 29 years ago.

In what seemed to be a reference to the deepening ties between the Philippines and Japan, Aquino highlighted the significant role that loyal friends play in dealing with life’s hardships in his inscription on the guestbook of Japan National Press Club.

“The difficulties of life evaporate amidst the support of true, loyal and dependable friends,” the President wrote.

The press club showed Aquino his late mother’s message signed on Nov. 13, 1986, in the same Tokyo building, which had the same theme of friendship: “For pain and sorrow I have never been alone. Many thanks, dear Lord.”

READ MORE...
In a speech on Wednesday before a joint session of the National Diet, Aquino underscored the stronger bond between the Philippines and Japan after World War II, citing the latter’s contributions to the country’s risk reduction and economic development.

“The war was devastating for all of us; there was bitterness on all sides for the suffering that occurred. However, from its ashes, the relationship between our peoples was reborn like a phoenix,” he said.

Japan is the only country with which the Philippines has inked a bilateral free agreement, and one of its only two strategic partners. RC


INQUIRER

ALSO: ‘Cha-cha will beget another dictator’ - Aquino Tarra Quismundo @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:59 AM | Saturday, June 6th, 2015

TOKYO—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday dismissed anew proposals to amend the Constitution to extend his term, warning that such a move could lead to the installation of another dictator in the Philippines.

“My answer to those who are espousing an extension of terms is, we will undoubtedly have benefits for having a government that will not have to relearn how to govern, but at the same time we open the doors to somebody who might emulate [former President Ferdinand] Marcos and decide [to stay in office] forever,” the President said in a discussion of Philippine domestic issues with Japanese journalists.

Marcos was elected to a four-year term in 1965. He won reelection in 1969 then declared martial law in 1972 to avoid leaving office in 1973 and went on to rule the Philippines until he was toppled from power in the People Power Revolution in 1986.

It was under martial law that Mr. Aquino’s father, Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., the leader of the opposition to Marcos, was assassinated as he returned from exile in the United States.

The murder of Senator Aquino galvanized support for the peaceful revolution that swept President Aquino’s mother, Corazon Aquino, to power.

No to amendment

It was under Cory Aquino’s presidency that the current Constitution was adopted, and she resisted all efforts by her allies to amend the Charter to extend her six-year term.

READ MORE...
Like her, Mr. Aquino has rejected his allies’ suggestions to amend the Constitution to enable him to extend his term and pursue his administration’s reform program.

“I think that is a very serious risk that our country, or my country, has to avoid. So I ask that we not consider reopening the Constitution for term limits,” Mr. Aquino said.

During his four-day state visit to Japan, Mr. Aquino was asked several times who he thought would be best to succeed him, and how the Philippines could guarantee that the gains of his administration could be sustained under a new leader.

He did not name his chosen candidate, but said he would announce who it was after his final address to a joint session of Congress in July.

Mr. Aquino gave the assurance that the friendship between the Philippines and Japan would always remain.

The President did not give a direct answer when asked about the unpopularity with voters of the ruling Liberal Party’s prospective presidential candidate, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

Instead, Mr. Aquino said: “I don’t think our people will [make a] foolhardy [choice and elect someone who] will suddenly throw away all of these very good economic partnerships that we have with Japan.”

Last appointment

The President’s stop at the Japan National Press Club was his last appointment during his state visit.

Before meeting Japanese journalists, Mr. Aquino received Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for a farewell call at the Imperial Hotel, his residence in Tokyo.

The President and his entourage flew back to Manila on a chartered Philippine Airlines plane at 2:50 p.m. (Japan time) Friday.

He arrived in Manila at 5:49 p.m.


TRIBUNE

Quorum woes bare lack of House BBL (renamed BLBAR) backing Written by Gerry Baldo Saturday, 06 June 2015 00:00


THE BBL HOUSE PLENARY SESSION

The persistent problem of quorum in the House plenary sessions on the proposed Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) is a clear sign that members of the majority bloc shun the measure.

House deputy minority leader Carol Jane Lopez and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza shared the view that the House leadership is having a big problem convincing lawmakers to attend the proceedings.

“It is obvious that it lacked the support. These past days, they are having difficulty mustering quorum,” said Atienza.

The House leadership had wanted to extend plenary sessions on the measure until Friday against the usual three-day sessions but the plan fizzled out yesterday. Sessions did not push through.
Atienza also said that aside from the delays in the resumption of the sessions at 4:00 p.m. due to the absence of the lawmakers, the discussions are also thwarted by their early exit.

He said that if his colleagues support the BLBAR they would stay to discuss the issues pertaining to the measure.

“The measure is in a precarious condition, they could not even get a simple majority to be at the session hall,” Lopez said.

Lopez noted that the past sessions scheduled for the BLBAR could not even muster 200 lawmakers when the vote needed to approve the measure is 217.

She said that without the presence of the members of the minority bloc the number would even diminish.

********
“Quorum was a big problem on Thursday, it could be worse on a Friday (yesterday),” Lopez said.
Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, one of the vice chairmen of the 75-man House ad hoc committee on BBL, admitted that they were having a hard time to form a quorum because most of the solons in the provinces went home to meet their constituents.

“They (congressmen) have decided to go home for they have their different reasons that is why we are having a difficult time to form a quorum,” Oaminal said.

The House leadership extended the session until Friday to give way for the long queue of solons who wanted to asked questions to the sponsor of the BBL. There were 30 solons who have listed to question the sponsor.

He said that they have decided to suspend the scheduled session last Friday because some of their colleagues who are present on Thursday begged not to attend the session.

Oaminal was the one sponsoring BBL on the floor being deliberated by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat last night (Wednesday) when they decided to suspend the session for lack of quorum after it was questioned by BUHAY Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.

House deliberation on BBL will resume Monday next week.

Former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, meanwhile, continued to push the creation of a Constitutional Convention that will have both elected and appointed delegates to ensure equal representation and avoid domination by political parties and dynasties.

Puno is expected to make the call today when he leads the launch of Bagong Sistema, Bagong Pag-asa: A Call for System Change, a movement advocating an overhaul of the country’s political structure to address pressing problems, including the perceived infirmities in the proposed law creating a system of government in Muslim Mindanao.

*******

JUNE 3, 2015 FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK --The proposal to amend economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution is as good as dead if it isn’t approved on third and final reading before Congress adjourns on June 11, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Wednesday. In a chance interview after his meeting with members of the House minority bloc, Belmonte expressed optimism that Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 (RBH 1) will be approved with finality within the remaining seven session days of the second regular session. “A big majority is needed to pass the Cha-cha (Charter change) resolution. If we cannot pass it now, I don’t see how it can be passed later, so we’re doing our best to have it passed now,” he said.

In proposing a revision of the 1987 Constitution, Puno said Con-Con will provide the alternative and better platform for examining the Mindanao and Bangsamoro Basic Law issue, as well as other problems affecting the nation.

But he said the Con-Con must truly represent the interest of the Filipino people and not be dominated by traditional politicians, political parties, political dynasties and interest groups.

“To make this happen, we must have both elected delegates and those who will be appointed as representatives of different sectors of society and from the ranks of national luminaries known for their integrity, probity, and patriotism.

He proposed that the election of delegates be held simultaneously with next year’s presidential elections.

Puno said having both elected and appointed delegates to a constitutional convention is not new, citing the case of Australia when it amended its constitution in 1998.

The Australian Con-Con had equal number of elected and appointed delegates, he noted.

About 5,000 sectoral representatives are expected to attend today’s nationwide launch of Bagong Sistema, Bagong Pag-asa at the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.

The launch will have Internet live streaming to enable supporters in at least 11 regions to have interaction with Puno and the convenors of the movement.

Puno said the problem in Mindanao is about balance of power—between the national government and Muslim Mindanao, between the national government and local government units, between the three branches of government, even the powers of the constitutional commissions.


Former CJ Reynato Puno

“A simple law like BBL cannot address this problem,” Puno pointed out, adding that the maximum that can be given under a law is autonomy, as provided for in the Constitution.

“We are limited by the boundaries of power set in the 1987 Constitution. The powers in the Constitution are centralized in the national government,” he added.

“[But] if you have the Con-con, and the Con-con rearranges the division of power between the national government and the entities like the [Bangsamoro], or the entities that will be forming the federal state, or the sub-state, then you will have a permanent solution to this problem.” “The Con—Con is a win-win formula,” Puno said.

BBL payola up for probe

To show sincerity that the House leadership is serious to probe the alleged bribery and corruption activities involving Chinese national Wang Bo, the probe was immediately calendared next week.

House Resolution 2151 penned by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II and Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora has directed the committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct an inquiry on the alleged corruption activities of Wang.

“The allegations related to the case are serious and must be properly verified and addressed. They threaten to destroy and question the integrity of our public institutions, especially that of the House of Representatives,” Belmonte said.

Wang was apprehended by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for arriving in the country with a cancelled passport and for being in the BI’s Black List Order, Belmonte, Zamora and Gonzales recalled.

The resolution noted that The Standard published a series of articles alleging that officials of the BI reversed a deportation order issued against Wang Bo, a Chinese national wanted by both Interpol and the Chinese Government.

The release order was signed by Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Deputy Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilberto Repizo despite the fact that Wang’s passport had been cancelled, they pointed out.

Furthermore, the authors said that despite the request for deportation by the Chinese government due to an outstanding arrest warrant against Wang Bo for suspected illegal gambling activities, the BI subsequently issued an order releasing Wang Bo from BID custody.

Despite a strong statement from the Embassy of China in the Philippines that Wang is an undesirable and undocumented alien who poses a risk to the national interest, the paper alleged that the order to release Wang Bo was due to the intervention of two BI commissioners, allegedly in exchange for funds to be used for the approval of the pending Bangsamoro Basic Law, the resolution said.

Furthermore, the articles alleged that the funds raised from Wang Bo was delivered to the Office of the Speaker or the House of Representatives and used by the Liberal Party to influence the outcome of the committee hearings on the BBL.

“These unproven and baseless allegations have raised serious question on the integrity of the immigration and deportation processes and procedures in the country and have cast doubt on the integrity of the House of Representatives as an institution,” Belmonte, Zamora and Gonzales reiterated.

“It is imperative that the House of Representatives investigate these allegations in order to protect its honor and integrity as a law-making body,” the Speaker concluded.


FROM BORACAYINFORMER.COM Tue, 06/02/2015 - 12:49 --Finger-pointing on BBL payola starts ---IMMIGRATION officials pointed fingers at each other Monday as lawmakers sought a congressional inquiry into reports that they cut a deal with a Chinese crime lord to bribe congressmen to swiftly approve the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party and a close associate of President Benigno Aquino III, said Deputy Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara, who were accused of reaching an agreement with Wang, had nothing to do with the deal.

Immigration Associate Commissioner Abdullah Mangotara who is being linked as brain behind the P400 million payola scam to bribe lawmakers to pass the controversial Bangsamoro Basoc Law (BBL), meanwhile, challenged anyone to produce documents on the alleged money trail and let the “congress mole” to come out and attend the congressional hearing scheduled on June 9 and 16.

Mangotara also denied that he tagged a fellow commissioner as the one who facilitated the alleged payoff for the Liberal Party and the BBL issue in exchange for the release of an alleged Chinese crime Lord.

Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said there was no basis to prove that there was a payoff, saying there was no documents from the any institutions or banks of such huge money withdrawals.

“No money changed hands, I challenge anyone to produce any videos or documents on the alleged money trail,” the former congressman from Lanao del Norte said.

Mangotara also expressed disappointment from media reports for “putting words into his mouth” even though he was not personally interviewed, claiming it destroys his personality.

The alleged BBL payoff was triggered by the release order of suspected Chinese crime lord Wang Bo, which was signed by the three commissioners.

“The May 21 resolution ordering the release of Wang was based on principles of international law and the Philippine law on the right to due process and the rules on admissibility of foreign documents,” Mangotara told reporters.

“The Chinese embassy replied by sending photocopies of documents in Chinese scripts with accompanying English translations of Chinese scripts. Both are not properly authenticated and do not contain official seal of the proper Chinese authorities,” Mangotara insisted.

On May 26, fior five days later, the BI Board of Commissioners issued a resolution, this time authored by Mison, reversing the May 21 resolution and upholding the March 5 BOC ruling that Wang be summarily deported to the Philippines.

Mangotara dissented on the decision while Associate Commissioner Gilberto Repizo did not sign.
Mangotara also denied speculations that Repizo and Atty. Cris Villalobos, the BI’s legal chief flew to China to allegedly receive the P400 million payoff.

“Travel records both from NAIA and from China will bear them out,” Mangotara said. Conrado Ching


INQUIRER

‘BEST’ tandem? Binay eyes Erap Estrada as running mate Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 12:46 PM | Friday, June 5th, 2015


Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday raised the possibility of running again with former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada but this time, the latter would be his running mate in 2016.

Estrada and Binay ran together in 2010 but the former president lost to President Benigno Aquino III while Binay won against Aquino’s running mate, now Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

“Hindi na Erap-Binay, Binay-Erap na. ‘Yun, ang tawag doon “BEST”. Alam mo anong “BEST”? BINAY-ESTRADA,” said Binay of the portmanteau in an interview in Biliran this Friday, a copy of the transcript was furnished to reporters by his office.

(It’s not Erap-Binay, but it’s going to be Binay-Erap. It’s called “BEST.” You know what is BEST? It’s Binay-Estrada.)

The Vice President confirmed that he and Estrada met last May 31 but said they did not talk about the possible team up in 2016.

But when asked if Estrada was among those being considered as his running mate next year, Binay said, “Oo. We have a search committee na talagang naghahanap ng magiging katambal ko.”

READ MORE...
(Yes. We have a search committee that is particularly looking for my running mate)

And the Vice President thinks Estrada was okay with the idea of running with him.

Reminded about Estrada’s earlier statement that he would be torn between the Vice President and Senator Grace Poe, should the latter decide to join the 2016 presidential race, Binay said, “Luma na ‘yang sinasabi mo. Ang sinabi ni President Erap, ‘pagka siya ay kuwan, ‘pagka si…’di bale na.”

“Ang talagang sinabi niya kami ay magkakasama sa eleksyon sa 2016 (What he really said was we would be together in the 2016 elections),” he further said. IDL


TRIBUNE

P3-trillion budget LP warchest — solon Written by Charlie V. Manalo
Sunday, 07 June 2015 00:00


AQUINO, ABAD

LOADED WITH LUMP SUMS, INFRA CASH

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which is headed by Liberal Party (LP) strategist Florencio “Butch” Abad, is preparing an “election warchest” for the ruling LP through the P3-trillion national budget for 2016, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon warned yesterday.

DBM earlier had disclosed that it was set to pitch a 15-percent increase in the national budget for 2016, from the current P2.6 trillion to P3 trillion.

“Expect the 2016 national budget to be loaded with infrastructure funding, lump sums for questionable programs, and various nefarious items all aimed at funding the 2016 election stint of the ruling party,” Ridon said at a press briefing.

The youth lawmaker pointed out that even the P2.6-trillion national budget for this year is already ridden with “hidden pork projects” that aim to solidify the ruling party’s position in the upcoming polls.

In the budget deliberations last year, Ridon and his colleagues in the Makabayan bloc had pointed out several anomalies and “hidden pork” in the 2015 national budget.

The legislator feared that with a budget that essentially “legalized” the “savings scheme” of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the LP and other allies of the President will be able to divert public funds to their election warchest.

“The 2015 budget will undoubtedly authorize corruption-ridden transactions in the run-up for the presidential elections. The same could be said of the 2016 budget,” Ridon said.

DBM has yet to submit the 2016 national budget proposal to the President for review. Once the President approves the DBM’s proposed budget, it is then submitted to Congress a day after the last State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Aquino on July 27.

READ MORE...
“As early as now, we should double our vigilance, for the ruling party will surely use all the funds in its discretion to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential elections,” Ridon said.

At the same time, Ridon said the renewed push to relax foreign-ownership restrictions in the Philippine Constitution is brought about by pressure from several “powerful foreign lobby groups.”

“It is no secret that Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon are pushing for the passage of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 1 primarily because of mounting pressure from powerful foreign lobby groups. The question now is for how much?” Ridon said.

Belmonte, author of RBH 1, earlier had disclosed that he had several rounds of talks with representatives of US companies involved in the ASEAN and European Union companies that want to invest in the Philippines.

“There have been much speculation as to why Belmonte and Drilon are suddenly restarting the cha-cha train. Lobbying funds may indeed be one of the main factors,” Ridon said.

The youth solon also expressed fear that a “cornucopia of projects and pork funds” might open and flood House members, with the majority seemingly desperate to muster a quorum to put RHB 1 into vote.

The House needs the votes of three-fourths of its 290 members, or 217 to 218, to approve the economic cha-cha resolution on third and final reading.

“It will come as no surprise if the Majority will resort to dirty tactics just to ensure the passage of this traitorous resolution,” Ridon said, reiterating that RHB 1 would “destroy the standards and limits set by the Constitution.”

“By inserting the phrase ‘unless otherwise specified by law’ in clauses that set certain limits on foreign ownership of several industries, RBH 1 essentially destroys the standards and limitations set by the 1987 Constitution. If passed, RBH 1 would subject the Constitution to the whims and caprices of the ruling party in Congress,” Ridon explained.

By empowering Congress to revise standards and limits on economic provisions of the Constitution, powerful foreign and domestic lobby groups would also gain the upper hand.

 “Passing RBH 1 would favor corrupt politicians who would file any bill at the right price. Belmonte’s amendments essentially subjects the Constitution to the influence of foreign and domestic lobby groups,” Ridon added.

“The Filipino people must remain vigilant, especially at a time when Congress is hell-bent on passing a resolution that essentially opens the floodgates to foreign intervention and domination in socio-economic affairs,” he said.

Militant House members also earlier questioned more than 200 pages of “errata” the DBM inserted into the 2015 budget to elude congressional scrutiny that totaled P500 billion in lump sums that Aquino and the LP can use at their pleasure.

The bulk of the amount or some P423 billion has been alloted to the Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG), headed by the presumptive LP standard bearer Manuel Roxas II.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the funds, on top of the department’s regular P33 billion allocation, has been earmarked as “assistance to LGUs.”

Some 269 pages of errata were first submitted on Sept. 26 last year, but withdrawn the same day, hours before the P2.606 trillion national budget for 2015 was approved on second reading.

The DBM withdrew the errata after ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio protested that the changes represented “midnight insertions” that did not go through plenary debates.

On Oct. 3, while Congress was on a three-week break, Abad resubmitted the errata to Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on appropriations and concurrent head of the small appropriations panel.

Ungab then defended the resubmitted errata as being within the General Appropriations Act that was taken up at the plenary.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. added there was nothing illegal in the submission of the errata even after the national budget was approved on second reading.

The errata also contained P8 billion in “contingent funds” for the Bangsamoro, compared to the P2.5 billion allocated to the Bangsamoro in the budget after deliberation by Ungab’s committee and the plenary.

In a letter to Ungab, Abad said some P3.28 billion has also been allocated for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meetings and was labeled “International Commitment Funds” for hosting the APEC meetings this year.

Colmenares said some P1.6 billion was also earmarked for the Department of Finance-Bureau of Customs.

Abad said the DoF-BoC allocation was for “operating requirements and various locally-funded projects.”

Ridon said he considered the re-integration of the so-called “errata” an “offensive and treacherous act” on part of the Executive department and the House leadership.

“Members of the House minority have painstakingly questioned every nook and cranny of the national budget, only to discover in the end that DBM will still have its way,” Ridon said.

“DBM, in connivance with the House leadership, is treating the national budget like a blank check. The House minority simply cannot allow the passage of a budget that contains revisions that were not even disclosed to the House plenary,” he added.

Malacañang defended the DBM, with presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda saying the 100-page errata filed by the budget department was, by majority, composed merely of typographical errors.

He said the rest were mere disaggregation of the projects that the House has asked from the DBM.
“Clarification on the errata, 80 percent of the budget errata is composed of typographical errors.

The rest are details on the disaggregation of projects under the GPB program and these were required by the House of Representatives. The DBM in the errata disaggregated the projects,” Lacierda stressed.

The Palace official said the errata merely identified various agency programs.

“We leave it to the DBM. On whatever political issues there, it’s up to Bayan Muna, but the fact is the errata comprised of 80 percent of correction for typo errors, and the rest were on disaggregation of projects,” Lacierda said.

“Errata commonly happen, but it only went to prominence due that it is the budget,” he added.


PHILSTAR

K to 12 transition fund in CHED budget By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 7, 2015 - 12:00am


Philstar.com/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will include an P8-billion allocation in its proposed 2016 budget to support professors who will be affected by the implementation of the K to 12 program.

During the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum on Wednesday, CHED commissioner Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista said the allocation would ensure that the agency has a transition fund even if Congress fails to pass the proposed P29-billion Tertiary Transition Education Fund (TETF).

Bautista stressed that the passage of the measure is still the better option as it would ensure that CHED would have funds to implement projects to help affected professors during the entire five-year transition period of K to 12.

Without the law, CHED would have to defend the budget before the administration, which is set to change next year in time with the first year of implementation of the K to 12.

Latest data from CHED showed that 13,634 professors and 11,456 non-teaching staff may be displaced because of the additional two years in basic education, way below the earlier estimates that projected the displacement of around 56,000 educators.

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The expected displacement is due to the significant decrease in enrolment during the transition period, as well as the proposed changes in the college curriculum as some of the general education subjects will already be taught in senior high school.

Online registration in September

To address these concerns, the Department of Education (DepEd) will establish a “green lane” to prioritize the hiring of displaced professors in vacant positions in senior high schools, Bautista said.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the DepEd would hire around 30,000 new teachers per year in the next two years to fill in teaching posts in Grades 11 and 12.

He also said DepEd would open the online registration for the applications by September to give them time to match the qualifications of the displaced professors to the vacant posts.

In addition to the green lane, Bautista said that the Department of Labor and Employment would also offer various programs such as income support, employment facilitation and training and livelihood to professors who will not be able to transfer to senior high school.

Transition fund not just for labor

According to Bautista, the transition fund that is proposed by the CHED is not just a labor fund. It will be used to “provide opportunities for upgrading qualifications and income support to personnel” who will remain employed in higher education institutions, but will suffer the effects of low enrolment.


INQUIRER OPINION

K-12: Who loses, who profits Marjohara Tucay @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:10 AM | Sunday, June 7th, 2015


Opposition to the Aquino administration’s flagship education program has snowballed, leading not only to protests but also to five petitions in the Supreme Court against Republic Act No. 10533 or the K-to-12 (kindergarten to Grade 12) law.

With the Department of Education (DepEd) and the administration largely dismissing criticisms against the K-to-12 program, it is high time to elevate the discourse on the program’s real impact on students, teachers and even workers.

K-12 ready?

Perhaps, the most discussed pitfall of the K-to-12 program is the government’s ill-preparedness for the full-blown implementation of the curriculum.

Despite the annual increases in the budget for school buildings, the administration has yet to close the classroom gap. At the beginning of the Aquino presidency, his administration stated in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 that the country lacked an estimated 113,000 classrooms.

However, in the updated PDP published in 2014, DepEd reported that only 66,813 classrooms had been constructed since 2010. Curiously, the government also reduced the classroom backlog estimate from 113,000 to only 66,800 in an apparent attempt to hide the underperformance.

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As it stands, the administration has been able to meet only about 60 percent of the total classroom backlog stated in the original PDP. However, as the K-to-12 program introduces two additional years of senior high school, the shortage could only go higher.

More classrooms needed

In its latest report to Congress, DepEd states that every additional year in the basic education system requires 20,000 to 28,000 public classrooms, translating to a 40,000-56,000 additional classroom shortage for the two-year Senior High School (SHS) program. As a result, the official classroom shortage, including the requirements for the K-to-12 program, will reach over 95,000.

DepEd says the implementation of the SHS program will also require an additional 60,000 to 82,000 teachers. The K-to-12 program also requires the printing of a minimum of 60 million textbooks, since textbooks designed for the previous 10-year curriculum will be rendered obsolete.

Given the fact that the annual basic education budget has never reached 4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, much less the global standard of 6 percent, there is a high probability that the shortages will go from bad to worse after the full rollout of the K-to-12 program.

While these shortages and lack of preparation are enough to cause alarm, there are still more pernicious aspects of the program that need to be addressed.

Downward spiral

The main argument of the proponents of the program is that adding two years to the basic education curriculum will vastly improve the performance and competency of Filipino students and make Philippine basic education at par with international standards.

However, such argument was never proven by quantitative research. On the contrary, in a study authored by UP professor Abraham Felipe and Fund for Assistance to Private Education executive director Carolina Porio, titled “Length of School Cycle and the Quality of Education,” it was shown that there was “no basis to expect that lengthening the educational cycle calendar-wise, will improve the quality of education.”

While the K-to-12 program implements a “spiral progression approach” to teaching, wherein subjects are intended to be taught in a manner of increasing complexity, initial observations show that the new curriculum is rather redundant and overall focus on basic concepts is largely diffused.

In chemistry, for example, the concept of the atom is introduced belatedly in Grade 8. This is in stark contrast with the curricula in countries, like Singapore or Germany, where the concept is taught in earlier grade levels.

The quality of instruction under K-to-12 program is also far from being assured. With the severe lack of facilities and teachers, the practice of shorter hours of instruction is set to continue.

Nationalists also decry the elimination of important aspects of Philippine history, literature, culture and government in the K-to-12 curriculum. In fact, Philippine history is absent in both junior and senior high school courses. To add insult to injury, even the social studies curriculum is derived from topics created by the US National Council for Social Studies.

Impact on labor

According to research think tank Ibon Foundation, the country deployed 4,500 workers abroad per day in 2014, far outpacing its 2,800 average daily job creation domestically. This situation will undoubtedly worsen under the K-to-12 program, as it clearly aims to produce graduates that are readily employable by foreign companies that seek cheap labor.

Four career tracks

The specialized curriculum for the SHS program has four career tracks that students of Grades 11 and 12 can enroll in. These are the academic, arts and design, sports and technical-vocational-livelihood (TVL) tracks.

In its “Basic Education Midterm Report” to Congress in March, DepEd said it planned to put 32,000 or

1.4 percent of incoming SHS students under the sports track and another 32,000 under the arts and design track.

A total of 609,000 or 49.7 percent of incoming SHS students are set to take the academic track, while 596,000 or 48.7 percent of the students are bound to pursue the TVL track.

The large proportion of students that DepEd aims to enroll under the TVL track is in line with its aim to produce more skilled workers and is, in fact, engineered to serve the government’s labor export policy. This is apparent in the way the TVL curriculum is designed to respond to the current demand of the international labor market for skilled workers.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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