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

3rd COMPLAINT: NOY FACES ANOTHER COMPLAINT FILED BY FORMER TESDA CHIEF
[Syjuco’s new complaint served as the third complaint against Aquino filed before the Ombudsman over the DAP and PDAF controversy. The Ombudsman has earlier recommended the conduct of preliminary investigation against Abad and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos over their possible liability on the DAP issue. The anti-graft body, however, dropped Aquino from the probe after fact-finding investigators determined that the charges against him do not amount to impeachable offense.]


OCTOBER 31 -Another complaint was filed by presidential aspirant former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Augusto Syjuco Jr. yesterday against President Aquino over the Department of Agriculture’s alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers as well as the Executive Branch’s funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). GMA NEWS PHOTO In his six-page complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, Syjuco stated that the complaint focuses on Aquino’s alleged sins in the agric-ultural sector which the poor farmers continue to bear in abject destitution and economic bondage. Aside from Aquino, also named respondents in the complaint were Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Senate President Franklin Drilon and “other John and Jane Does, who are liable for the stated malfeasances.” Last week, Syjuco also filed a complaint against Aquino, Abad and Drilon over their alleged misuse of PDAF and DAP funds, the existence of which was already declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Just like in his complaint filed last week, Syjuco reiterated his allegation that the Aquino administration, for the last six year, spent PDAF amounting to P220 billion and DAP amounting to P157 billion, for a total of P377 billion. “As I have repeatedly said before, again and again, ad nauseam, Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, herein referred as BS Aquino for brevity, is the biggest and most prominent usurper of pork barrel,” Syjuco said in his complaint. The complaint stated that aside from Aquino’s alleged misuse of his own DAP funds, the President and the other respondents must also be held liable for the DA’s alleged misuse of DAP funds as well as the PDAF of several lawmakers. Syjuco said based on a series of annual audit reports (AARs) by the Commission on Audit (CoA) regarding the use of PDAF and DAP by various government agencies, the DA “squandered” a total of P14.4-billion DAP and PDAF funds on questionable programs and projects. “According to CoA, the DA likely misused about P14.4 billion of its public funds on questionable programs and project…Many of these projects, which included construction of farm-to-market roads, credit financing for livestock sector and financial assistance for the cultivation of commercial crops, were left incomplete or lacked necessary documents,” Syjuco said. READ MORE...

ALSO 'TANIM-BALA' at NAIA: Palace belittles airport bullet planting scandal


OCTOBER 31 -Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
MALACAÑANG downplayed on Friday the existence of a syndicate planting bullets in the luggage of passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport even as lawmakers from both houses of Congress urged separate investigations into the matter. “We have to put this in the right context,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. “Thousands [of passengers] are using the airport terminals [each day] and only a few were found in possession of bullets. All of these incidents are being investigated based on law.”  “And authorities recognize the human rights as well as legal rights of those [found] carrying [bullets],” Coloma said.  But swelling complaints about security arrangements at the Naia have led lawmakers, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., to push for a congressional investigation of the matter. “The police can easily trace the movement of personal luggage and identify all who had access and chance to plant it,” Belmonte told The Standard in a text message, adding that these personnel should be removed along with the examiners. “In other countries, personal luggage are not even inspected,” Belmonte pointed out. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said security officials at the Naia have no business being at the front line in public service. “We should not tolerate these kinds of people committing illegal acts and victimizing innocent individuals, like an [overseas Filipino worker],” Albano said. In the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago called on her colleagues to investigate the scandal, citing an online petition signed by 12,000 Filipinos. Santiago filed Senate Resolution No. 1635 amid reports that airport security personnel are involved in an extortion scam wherein bullets are planted in the luggage of passengers, who are later asked huge amounts of cash under threat of being charged in court. READ MORE...

ALSO: Philippines slips in World Bank ranking on doing business


NOV 1 -In the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 report, the country’s ranking dropped six notches to 103rd from last year’s 97th spot across 189 economies. Philstar.com/File
The Philippines slipped six notches in the World Bank’s latest report gauging economies in terms of ease of doing business despite reforms made by the government in expediting ways of starting businesses.
In the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 report released yesterday, the country’s ranking dropped six notches to 103rd from last year’s 97th spot across 189 economies. The Philippines ranked 95th from the original report published last year but was revised to 97th to reflect a change in methodology. The decline in the latest rankings likewise pulled the Philippines down one place to the 5th spot from the previous 6th among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Singapore, which emerged on top of the ease of doing business list for the 10th consecutive year, Malaysia (18th), Thailand (49th), Brunei Darussalam (84th), and Vietnam (90th) were the top five Asean economies where doing business is easier than the Philippines. Aside from Singapore and Malaysia, other countries in the East Asia and Pacific which were in the top 20 rankings are New Zealand (2nd), Republic of Korea (4th), Hong Kong (5th), Taiwan (11th) and Australia (13th). East Asia and the Pacific is the second most represented region in the Doing Business 2016 report after Europe in the world’s top 20 economies. Despite slipping in the rankings, the Philippines was recognized by the World Bank Group for making starting a business easier by streamlining communications between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Social Security System and thereby expediting the process of issuing an employer registration number. “A majority of economies in East Asia and the Pacific are undertaking reforms to further improve the regulatory environment for small and medium-sized enterprises. During the past year, 52 percent of the region’s 25 economies implemented 27 reforms to make it easier to do business,” the World Bank said. The Doing Business ranking provides an idea on how easy or difficult it is for a local entrepreneur to open and run a small to medium-size business when complying with relevant regulations. READ MORE...

ALSO: Leni Robredo hopes for anti-poverty job if elected VP
["If I will be given a chance to be elected as VP, I want to be on the ground, with the common people, as this is the closest to my heart,' Robredo tells local Liberal Party leaders in Albay]

 
OCTOBER 29 -WITH THE POOR. Administration vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo wants to work on alleviating poverty if elected in 2016.
NAGA CITY, Philippines – Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo said on Saturday, October 31, that she hopes to handle anti-poverty programs if elected as vice president in 2016. Robredo expressed her preference while speaking before local leaders of the Liberal Party, led by former Albay representative Edcel Lagman, in Sogod village, Bacacay town in Albay. Robredo, a pro bono lawyer, said that if she is elected vice president, she will work with the grassroots to address poverty in areas where the presence of national government should be strengthened. "If I will be given a chance to be elected as VP, I want to handle programs on anti-poverty where the presence of national government is low. I want to be on the ground, with the common people, as this is the closest to my heart," she said. Robredo, the running mate of administration standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, was a low-key political wife until she was thrust into politics after the death of her husband, former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, in 2012. While her husband was Naga City mayor, Robredo became a public attorney to help poor clients. She later worked with the non-governmental organization Saligan, providing legal help for the poor, fisherfolk, laborers, and marginalized sectors in Bicol. – Rappler.comTHE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Poe cites Romualdez
[Poe said she was really impressed by Romualdez’ wit and intelligence and his advocacies when he met the lawmaker].


OCTOBER 31 -Congressman Martin Romualdez
Leyte First District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez should have been part of the Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) senatorial slate but he was late in informing the group he wanted to be part of it, according to presidential aspirant and Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares. Poe made the disclosure to reporters after baring her 12 senatorial candidates that would be part of her and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s slate in the upcoming May 2016 elections on Thursday, Oct. 29 at Club Filipino where they made the announcement. Romualdez was originally rumored to be part of Poe’s senatorial ticket but he was not part of the list when their line up was finalized. But Poe said she was really impressed by Romualdez’ wit and intelligence and his advocacies when he met the lawmaker. At the time she met with Romualdez, Poe said she had already committed to supporting other equally impressive bets but who were lacking the support of major political parties. “Hindi ko siya kilala masyado noon tapos noong nakausap ko siya, napakatalino niya at marami siya talagang pinaglalaban lalong-lalo na para sa kanyang mga kababayan sa Eastern Visayas,” she told reporters in an interview. Poe said she had wanted her senatorial team to be a “unifying slate,” and Romualdez would fit in considering he is president of the Lakas-CMD party. “Sayang lang nga at gusto ko ngang sabihin, bakit ngayon ka lang? ” Poe asked. “Kasi ako for unification talaga ako pero siyempre, may mga nakausap na rin tayo at ’yung iba kasi talagang walang partido. Eh sa kanya, mayroon na ring kumuha sa kanya pero inaasahan ko rin na sana’y masuportahan natin ang isang taga-Eastern Visayas katulad niya,Visayas like him,” Poe said of Romualdez. THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO (PHNO's Must Read) by Mauro Samonte: How BBL, South China (West Phl) Sea, US and Aquino are all intertwined (Part 1 of 3)


OCTOBER 31 -by MAURO GIA SAMONTE
By its own avowal, the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd is to be gauged on how successful it has been in pushing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). As Cabinet Secretary on the Peace Process Teresita Deles pronounced it during the opening of the resumed Mindanao peace talks on January 12, 2012, “The Mindanao peace process is the centerpiece of the Aquino administration.” With barely a year left in the Aquino tenure at Malacañang and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the product of the Mindanao peace negotiations, remaining unresolved in the Senate, the pronounced basis for evaluating the performance of President Aquino necessarily gives him a low, low grade. The so-called peace process that produced the BBL was suspect from the very start. It came about as a result of US Ambassador Kristie Kinney’s visit with MILF Chief Al Haj Muhrad Ebrahim whom she traced all the way to his mountain lair. In that visit, Kinney convinced Murad to enter into peace talks with the Philippine government, then under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That was 2008, when President Obama began his touted pivot from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region. Let events prove the connection between the Obama Asia-Pacific pivot and the Mindanao peace talks. Until 2004, the United States was the leading trading partner of the Asean. But beginning 2003, China had already manifested a steady increase in foreign investments in the so-called bamboo network, a web of overseas Chinese doing businesses all over Southeast Asia. By 2008, China was on the road to overtaking the United States as the third leading trading partner of Asean. To check the rise of China as an economic hegemon in Asia, US necessarily had to put in place a military component for its America’s Pacific Century strategy. In this regard, US was greatly disadvantaged. It had lost its bases in the Philippines and much of them in Japan Then came 2010. China concluded with the 10 nations comprising the Asean the Asean-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which had the effect of turning China into the top trading partner of Southeast Asia. That meant control of the third largest trade grouping in the world, the first two being the European Economic Area and the North American Free Trade Area. Already in 2008, China and Asean had a combined Gross Domestic Product of $6 trillion. Fast-tracking US military build-up in Asia Pacific As early as 2008, therefore, US needed a way to fast track its military build-up in the Asia Pacific region, and a vital aspect of this undertaking is the re-establishment of military bases in the Philippines. This has been our country’s misfortune. Its geographical location makes it a premium spot for advancing military dominance by anybody among the world’s contending powers. Now, re-establishing US military facilities in the country must pass the Senate, which is sure to block it. The catch, then, is in not having it coursed through the Senate anymore, but this is impossible to do because that requisite is a mandate of the Philippine Constitution. The only way to get the US bases done again in the country is to build them where the Constitution cannot matter anymore. Hence the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), as contained in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) resulting from the peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government initiated by Kinney and brokered by Malaysia in 2008. The BJE establishes in the Muslim areas of Mindanao a sub-state having its own legislature, its own executive, its own judiciary, and its own armed forces, with the Philippine government limited to 25 percent share in natural resources. August 5, 2008 was the date set for signing of the MOA-AD by the two negotiating panels. But Cotabato and Palawan, two predominantly-Christian provinces affected by the agreement, petitioned the Supreme Court, protesting the MOA-AD. Without waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the petition, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed the government panel not to sign. The Supreme Court ruled on the petition just the same. One of the signatories in the ruling was then still Associate Justice Renato C. Corona, who echoed Associate Justice Dante Tinga’s position: “It takes no inquiry of great depth to determine that the MOA-AD is incongruous with the Philippine Constitution.” CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Noy faces another Syjuco complaint


Another complaint was filed by presidential aspirant former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Augusto Syjuco Jr. yesterday against President Aquino over the Department of Agriculture’s alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers as well as the Executive Branch’s funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). GMA NEWS PHOTO

MANILA, NOVEMBER 2, 2015 TRIBUNE) Written by Alvin Murcia Saturday, 31 October 2015 - Another complaint was filed by presidential aspirant former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Augusto Syjuco Jr. yesterday against President Aquino over the Department of Agriculture’s alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers as well as the Executive Branch’s funds under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

In his six-page complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, Syjuco stated that the complaint focuses on Aquino’s alleged sins in the agric-ultural sector which the poor farmers continue to bear in abject destitution and economic bondage.

Aside from Aquino, also named respondents in the complaint were Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Senate President Franklin Drilon and “other John and Jane Does, who are liable for the stated malfeasances.”

Last week, Syjuco also filed a complaint against Aquino, Abad and Drilon over their alleged misuse of PDAF and DAP funds, the existence of which was already declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Just like in his complaint filed last week, Syjuco reiterated his allegation that the Aquino administration, for the last six year, spent PDAF amounting to P220 billion and DAP amounting to P157 billion, for a total of P377 billion.

“As I have repeatedly said before, again and again, ad nauseam, Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, herein referred as BS Aquino for brevity, is the biggest and most prominent usurper of pork barrel,” Syjuco said in his complaint.

The complaint stated that aside from Aquino’s alleged misuse of his own DAP funds, the President and the other respondents must also be held liable for the DA’s alleged misuse of DAP funds as well as the PDAF of several lawmakers.

Syjuco said based on a series of annual audit reports (AARs) by the Commission on Audit (CoA) regarding the use of PDAF and DAP by various government agencies, the DA “squandered” a total of P14.4-billion DAP and PDAF funds on questionable programs and projects.

“According to CoA, the DA likely misused about P14.4 billion of its public funds on questionable programs and project…Many of these projects, which included construction of farm-to-market roads, credit financing for livestock sector and financial assistance for the cultivation of commercial crops, were left incomplete or lacked necessary documents,” Syjuco said.

READ MORE...


Aquino, Abad face new complaint for PDAF, DAP By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated October 30, 2015 - 3:15pm --PHOTO: President Benigno Aquino III and Budget Secretary Butch Abad during the Presidential Forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in October 2012. Malacañang Photo Bureau / Robert Viñas

He specifically cited that based on the CoA’s ARRs, P235 million worth of PDAF from seven lawmakers was allegedly misused by DA’s attached agency the National Livelihood and Development Corporation (NLDC) by allocating the funds to four alleged fake non-government organizations (NGOs) linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Syjuco said another attached agency of the DA, the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAFC), meanwhile, has allegedly misused P199.4 million worth of PDAF of several lawmakers from 2012 to 2013 by also allocating the funds supposed to be for livelihood projects to the Napoles-linked NGOs as well as to an NGO of another businessman Godofredo Roque.

Syjuco said the CoA annual audit report of the NAFC showed the projects under the PDAF were implemented without bidding and proof that the recipients benefitted from livelihood projects involving vegetables and earthworms.

He added another DA attached agency, the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), allegedly misused a total of P5 million worth of DAP and PDAF funds for various supposed livelihood projects “despite absence of progress and status reports on (their) implementation…and non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations in the awarding of contracts to the NGOs/POs (private organizations).”

Some P14.4 billion was squandered, according to Syjuco, adding the CoA had earlier demanded the DA to liquidate the expenditures and balances of the questioned disbursed funds “but up to this time, no liquidation of these projects were ever provided by the DA.”

Syjuco’s new complaint served as the third complaint against Aquino filed before the Ombudsman over the DAP and PDAF controversy.

The Ombudsman has earlier recommended the conduct of preliminary investigation against Abad and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos over their possible liability on the DAP issue.

The anti-graft body, however, dropped Aquino from the probe after fact-finding investigators determined that the charges against him do not amount to impeachable offense.


MANILA STANDARD

Palace belittles airport bullet planting scandal posted October 31, 2015 at 12:01 am by Sandy Araneta, Macon Ramos- Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz


Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

MALACAÑANG downplayed on Friday the existence of a syndicate planting bullets in the luggage of passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport even as lawmakers from both houses of Congress urged separate investigations into the matter.

“We have to put this in the right context,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. “Thousands [of passengers] are using the airport terminals [each day] and only a few were found in possession of bullets. All of these incidents are being investigated based on law.”

“And authorities recognize the human rights as well as legal rights of those [found] carrying [bullets],” Coloma said.

But swelling complaints about security arrangements at the Naia have led lawmakers, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., to push for a congressional investigation of the matter.

“The police can easily trace the movement of personal luggage and identify all who had access and chance to plant it,” Belmonte told The Standard in a text message, adding that these personnel should be removed along with the examiners.

“In other countries, personal luggage are not even inspected,” Belmonte pointed out.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said security officials at the Naia have no business being at the front line in public service.

“We should not tolerate these kinds of people committing illegal acts and victimizing innocent individuals, like an [overseas Filipino worker],” Albano said.

In the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago called on her colleagues to investigate the scandal, citing an online petition signed by 12,000 Filipinos.


SANTIAGO

Santiago filed Senate Resolution No. 1635 amid reports that airport security personnel are involved in an extortion scam wherein bullets are planted in the luggage of passengers, who are later asked huge amounts of cash under threat of being charged in court.

READ MORE...

“The reports highlight how corruption defeats the purpose of law enforcement. Second, they raise a legitimate question on the implementation of the law on the illegal possession of ammunition. Finally, they underline inaction on the part of government,” the senator said.

The media has so far reported six cases using the modus operandi. The latest victims are Gloria Ortinez, an OFW bound for Hong Kong, and Japanese national Kazunobu Sakamoto, who were both arrested on Oct. 25. Only Sakamoto was able to post bail for P80,000.

“The perpetrators of the alleged scam are brazen, perhaps because they know they will not be punished. We must prove them wrong,” Santiago said in a response to the signature campaign on online petition platform Change.org.

Santiago condemned how the extortion scam targets OFWs who see airports as their connection to home. “Wrongly accusing OFWs of a crime and forcing them to pay huge amounts of cash is not the way to repay those whom we call our modern-day heroes,” the senator said.

She added that the scandal might impact Philippine tourism, a major job-generating industry, by sowing fear among foreigners using Philippine airports and eroding public trust in law enforcers.

Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, called for the establishment of a presidential action and complaint desk at the NAIA.

“This is a large constituency which can neither be ignored nor denied of service,” stressed Recto who is seeking a fresh mandate in the coming elections.

Recto said the “one-stop, on-the-spot troubleshooting center” for OFWs and other travellersncan also serve as a place where travelers can lodge complaints for bad service and recommend commendations for good ones.

He identified an existing Palace office – the Presidential Action Center (PACE) – which could establish “a detachment” at NAIA and other international airports.

But Coloma said there are already airport officials who are doing the same service at the NAIA terminals, and expressed these are not needed anymore.

“There are public assistance desks already (in the airport terminals). If there are other proposals being made by our lawmakers, let us wait for these,” said Coloma.


PHILSTAR

Philippines slips in World Bank ranking on doing business By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 29, 2015 - 12:00am 1 15 googleplus0 0


In the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 report, the country’s ranking dropped six notches to 103rd from last year’s 97th spot across 189 economies. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines slipped six notches in the World Bank’s latest report gauging economies in terms of ease of doing business despite reforms made by the government in expediting ways of starting businesses.

In the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2016 report released yesterday, the country’s ranking dropped six notches to 103rd from last year’s 97th spot across 189 economies. The Philippines ranked 95th from the original report published last year but was revised to 97th to reflect a change in methodology.

The decline in the latest rankings likewise pulled the Philippines down one place to the 5th spot from the previous 6th among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Singapore, which emerged on top of the ease of doing business list for the 10th consecutive year, Malaysia (18th), Thailand (49th), Brunei Darussalam (84th), and Vietnam (90th) were the top five Asean economies where doing business is easier than the Philippines.

Aside from Singapore and Malaysia, other countries in the East Asia and Pacific which were in the top 20 rankings are New Zealand (2nd), Republic of Korea (4th), Hong Kong (5th), Taiwan (11th) and Australia (13th).

East Asia and the Pacific is the second most represented region in the Doing Business 2016 report after Europe in the world’s top 20 economies.

Despite slipping in the rankings, the Philippines was recognized by the World Bank Group for making starting a business easier by streamlining communications between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Social Security System and thereby expediting the process of issuing an employer registration number.

“A majority of economies in East Asia and the Pacific are undertaking reforms to further improve the regulatory environment for small and medium-sized enterprises. During the past year, 52 percent of the region’s 25 economies implemented 27 reforms to make it easier to do business,” the World Bank said.

The Doing Business ranking provides an idea on how easy or difficult it is for a local entrepreneur to open and run a small to medium-size business when complying with relevant regulations.

READ MORE...

The report measures and tracks changes in regulations affecting 11 areas in the life cycle of a business namely, starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and labor market regulation.

It does not, however, measure all aspects of the business environment such as macroeconomic stability, corruption, level of labor skills, proximity to markets, as well as regulation specific to foreign investment or financial markets.

The World Bank said this year’s Doing Business report completes a two-year effort to expand benchmarks that measure the quality of regulation, as well as the efficiency of the business regulatory framework, in order to better capture the realities on the ground.

NCC expresses disappointment

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC), however, is not too pleased with this year’s ease of doing business outcome, saying the report has undergone methodological changes in four of the last five years which made it confusing and unreliable for measuring change.

“Despite our efforts to introduce reform projects to improve the ease of doing business in the Philippines, the International Finance Corp. shows different sets of scores and rankings every year due to a change in methodology,” NCC co-chairman Guillermo Luz said.

“The changes are applied retroactively so even prior years’ results are changed without our knowledge. This makes it difficult to tell whether we are on the right track or not using this instrument. It has become unreliable,” Luz said, questioning the relevance of the report’s diagnostic tool moving forward.

According to Luz, the NCC has made steady improvements by streamlining processes and introducing reforms across a wide range of the indicators.

“We have done so much to improve doing business in the Philippines. However, the Doing Business report doesn’t capture these initiatives and the constant methodology change and recalculation of ranking every year is of no help. We need consistency in the diagnostic tool to monitor ourselves, and better measure our performance,” Luz said.

“We’re not junking a too just because it tells us it’s getting worse. What we want is a tool that tells us accurately if we did well or worse,” he added.

With the Philippines’ five-spot plunge in this year’s ranking, World Bank official said the country remains a good place as far as doing business is concerned but it needs to step up further its game to address the tougher competition.

“I want to emphasize the Philippines has risen and you are now in a much tougher, much competitive environment. Even Hong Kong which is third ranked had four reforms last year. The top is moving all the time, therefore we have to move faster for the Philippines to gain ground,” World Bank Philippines country director Motoo Konishi said.

“There are questions on methodology, but one thing to emphasize though is the Philippines has been doing reforms, it simply needs to accelerate to compete with others in the neighborhood,” Konishi said.

IFC operations officer Roberto Galang said the Philippines going forward should be able to seize momentum by concentrating on a number of regulatory reforms in which many do not require the passage of new laws.

“Our rise from the 130s to our present position has put us in a very competitive neighborhood. The World Bank Group will intensify our cooperation with the NCC in further streamlining the ease of doing business in the country,” Galang said.

Purisima calls survey erratic, unsound The Philippines lambasted yesterday the World Bank after its ranking in an annual gauge of business environment slumped to one of the lowest in Southeast Asia, calling the measure an “inappropriate” reflection of the country’s business climate.

Calling the World Bank-International Finance Corp.’s Doing Business (DB) Report “erratic” and “unsound,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima expressed dismay on the country’s six-notch slip— to 103rd from 97th— in the survey.

“The Philippines firmly believes that the Doing Business survey methodology of collecting sample data from one or only two cities makes it inappropriate to present the report as reflective of the state of doing business for an entire economy,” Purisima said.


Konishi is new WB country head for Phl

“Countries, especially developing ones like the Philippines, will have bright spots of promise in some areas and not in others,” he added.

A case in point are the country’s special economic zones, which the finance chief said are not being captured by the survey. These locators, managed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), are granted numerous fiscal incentives in their operations.

The World Bank, for its part, has recognized this as one of the “limits” of the survey, which focuses only on each economy’s “largest business city.” Survey questionnaires were sent to businesses in covered areas.

A total of 14,233 respondents participated in the global survey in the latest report. In the Philippines, the survey was conducted in Quezon City.

“With this methodology, the DB survey should be more aptly titled as ‘Doing Business Across Cities’ to provide a better representation of the results of the report,” Purisima said.

Purisima, who is the country’s governor in the World Bank Group, also criticized the survey’s “erratic methodological changes year after year” which tended to affect even the previous years’ results.

An example is the Philippines’ place last year, which changed to 97th in the current report from 95th when it was first reported. The country ranked 134th in 2011, the first full year of the Aquino administration. – with Prinz Magtulis


RAPPLER.COM

Leni Robredo hopes for anti-poverty job if elected VP Rhaydz Barcia Published 6:43 PM, October 31, 2015 Updated 3:23 AM, November 01, 2015 3 7K 61 Reddit Email 7K

'If I will be given a chance to be elected as VP, I want to be on the ground, with the common people, as this is the closest to my heart,' Robredo tells local Liberal Party leaders in Albay


WITH THE POOR. Administration vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo wants to work on alleviating poverty if elected in 2016.

NAGA CITY, Philippines – Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo said on Saturday, October 31, that she hopes to handle anti-poverty programs if elected as vice president in 2016.

Robredo expressed her preference while speaking before local leaders of the Liberal Party, led by former Albay representative Edcel Lagman, in Sogod village, Bacacay town in Albay.

Robredo, a pro bono lawyer, said that if she is elected vice president, she will work with the grassroots to address poverty in areas where the presence of national government should be strengthened.

"If I will be given a chance to be elected as VP, I want to handle programs on anti-poverty where the presence of national government is low. I want to be on the ground, with the common people, as this is the closest to my heart," she said.

Robredo, the running mate of administration standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, was a low-key political wife until she was thrust into politics after the death of her husband, former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, in 2012.

While her husband was Naga City mayor, Robredo became a public attorney to help poor clients. She later worked with the non-governmental organization Saligan, providing legal help for the poor, fisherfolk, laborers, and marginalized sectors in Bicol. – Rappler.com


MANILA BULLETIN (TEMPO)

Poe cites Romualdez Posted by Hannah Torregoza on Oct 31st, 2015 // 1 Comment 1 Share 3 Tweet 0 0 Reddit 0 Stumble 5 Share


Congressman Martin Romualdez

Leyte First District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez should have been part of the Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) senatorial slate but he was late in informing the group he wanted to be part of it, according to presidential aspirant and Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

Poe made the disclosure to reporters after baring her 12 senatorial candidates that would be part of her and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s slate in the upcoming May 2016 elections on Thursday, Oct. 29 at Club Filipino where they made the announcement.

Romualdez was originally rumored to be part of Poe’s senatorial ticket but he was not part of the list when their line up was finalized.

But Poe said she was really impressed by Romualdez’ wit and intelligence and his advocacies when he met the lawmaker. At the time she met with Romualdez, Poe said she had already committed to supporting other equally impressive bets but who were lacking the support of major political parties.

“Hindi ko siya kilala masyado noon tapos noong nakausap ko siya, napakatalino niya at marami siya talagang pinaglalaban lalong-lalo na para sa kanyang mga kababayan sa Eastern Visayas,” she told reporters in an interview.

Poe said she had wanted her senatorial team to be a “unifying slate,” and Romualdez would fit in considering he is president of the Lakas-CMD party.

“Sayang lang nga at gusto ko ngang sabihin, bakit ngayon ka lang? ” Poe asked. “Kasi ako for unification talaga ako pero siyempre, may mga nakausap na rin tayo at ’yung iba kasi talagang walang partido. Eh sa kanya, mayroon na ring kumuha sa kanya pero inaasahan ko rin na sana’y masuportahan natin ang isang taga-Eastern Visayas katulad niya,Visayas like him,” Poe said of Romualdez.


MANILA TIMES COMMENTARY

How BBL, South China (West Phl) Sea, US and Aquino are intertwined October 31, 2015 10:23 pm  MAURO GIA SAMONTE


by MAURO GIA SAMONTE
By its own avowal, the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd is to be gauged on how successful it has been in pushing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

As Cabinet Secretary on the Peace Process Teresita Deles pronounced it during the opening of the resumed Mindanao peace talks on January 12, 2012, “The Mindanao peace process is the centerpiece of the Aquino administration.”

With barely a year left in the Aquino tenure at Malacañang and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the product of the Mindanao peace negotiations, remaining unresolved in the Senate, the pronounced basis for evaluating the performance of President Aquino necessarily gives him a low, low grade.

The so-called peace process that produced the BBL was suspect from the very start.

It came about as a result of US Ambassador Kristie Kinney’s visit with MILF Chief Al Haj Muhrad Ebrahim whom she traced all the way to his mountain lair.

In that visit, Kinney convinced Murad to enter into peace talks with the Philippine government, then under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


QUEST FOR PEACE. US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad emerge from a close-door meeting in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan Tuesday at which they discussed ways to resume stalled peace talks between the secessionist group and the government. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/EDWIN FERNANDEZ / INQUIRER MINDANAO BUREAU JULY 2007

That was 2008, when President Obama began his touted pivot from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region. Let events prove the connection between the Obama Asia-Pacific pivot and the Mindanao peace talks.

Until 2004, the United States was the leading trading partner of the Asean. But beginning 2003, China had already manifested a steady increase in foreign investments in the so-called bamboo network, a web of overseas Chinese doing businesses all over Southeast Asia.

By 2008, China was on the road to overtaking the United States as the third leading trading partner of Asean.

To check the rise of China as an economic hegemon in Asia, US necessarily had to put in place a military component for its America’s Pacific Century strategy. In this regard, US was greatly disadvantaged. It had lost its bases in the Philippines and much of them in Japan.

Then came 2010.

China concluded with the 10 nations comprising the Asean the Asean-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which had the effect of turning China into the top trading partner of Southeast Asia.

That meant control of the third largest trade grouping in the world, the first two being the European Economic Area and the North American Free Trade Area.

Already in 2008, China and Asean had a combined Gross Domestic Product of $6 trillion.

Fast-tracking US military build-up in Asia Pacific

As early as 2008, therefore, US needed a way to fast track its military build-up in the Asia Pacific region, and a vital aspect of this undertaking is the re-establishment of military bases in the Philippines. This has been our country’s misfortune. Its geographical location makes it a premium spot for advancing military dominance by anybody among the world’s contending powers.

Now, re-establishing US military facilities in the country must pass the Senate, which is sure to block it. The catch, then, is in not having it coursed through the Senate anymore, but this is impossible to do because that requisite is a mandate of the Philippine Constitution. The only way to get the US bases done again in the country is to build them where the Constitution cannot matter anymore.

Hence the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), as contained in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) resulting from the peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government initiated by Kinney and brokered by Malaysia in 2008.

The BJE establishes in the Muslim areas of Mindanao a sub-state having its own legislature, its own executive, its own judiciary, and its own armed forces, with the Philippine government limited to 25 percent share in natural resources. August 5, 2008 was the date set for signing of the MOA-AD by the two negotiating panels.

But Cotabato and Palawan, two predominantly-Christian provinces affected by the agreement, petitioned the Supreme Court, protesting the MOA-AD.

Without waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the petition, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instructed the government panel not to sign.


CORONA

The Supreme Court ruled on the petition just the same. One of the signatories in the ruling was then still Associate Justice Renato C. Corona, who echoed Associate Justice Dante Tinga’s position: “It takes no inquiry of great depth to determine that the MOA-AD is incongruous with the Philippine Constitution.”

CONTINUE RADING...

Given the foregoing background, it becomes easy to understand why the Mindanao peace process has been the centerpiece of the Aquino administration.

It is the one single mechanism for slicing off a large chunk of the nation in which to reestablish US military facilities no longer hampered by constitutional constraints. The US will no longer have to deal with the Philippine government but instead with the MILF – a historically-proven beneficiary of American benevolence.

Erap ousted after crushing MILF’s Camp Abubakar


Erap vs. MILF: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has endorsed a “fatwa” against former president Joseph Estrada and declared him “an enemy of Islam.” The MILF took its cue from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which declared Health Sec. Esperanza Cabral an enemy of Catholicism. PHOTO FROM PROFESSIONAL HECKLER.COM

Witness what happened when in 2000 President Joseph Ejercito Estrada proceeded to crush MILF mother stronghold Camp Abubakar against strong explicit admonition from US President Bill Clinton for him not to do it.

Just a few months after, Erap was impeached.

In the case of Aquino, he proved equal to American intentions.


Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al Haj Murad Ibrahim and Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III meet informally in Tokyo, Japan in 2011. FROM MINDANAO EXAMINER

Just into his second year at Malacañang, he took the initiative of meeting up with MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo, Japan to discuss the rebel group’s demand for a “state within a state” in Muslim Mindanao.

That meeting in August 2011 set the stage for the resumed peace talks that opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in January 2012.

Rather a nasty sidelight of that meeting was Aquino’s gifting Murad with reportedly five million pesos — which earned the flak of Armed Forces of the Philippines servicemen who saw the act as treasonous: “That money was to buy guns by which to kill us.”

Quite curiously, that period of his Tokyo meeting with Murad was also the period of Aquino’s frenzied public damning of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

What people only saw in this episode was that CJ Corona was impeached out of vendetta by Aquino for the former’s ruling in favor of the Hacienda Luisita tenants in the dispute with the Aquino-Cojuangco family for ownership of the 6,000-hectare sugarland.

REMOVAL OF BJE

The public failed to discern that early on what took place was a removal of a great obstacle for the passage of the BJE.

In the event the agreement was elevated to the Supreme Court, the sitting Chief Justice would no longer be one already on record as being opposed to it.

To reiterate, CJ Corona’s position on the MOA-AD which provided for the BJE back in 2008 was this: “It takes no inquiry of great depth to determine that the MOA-AD is incongruous with the Philippine constitution.”

What would ensure that the Chief Justice to replace Corona would be at America’s beck and call? There was no telling yet at the start of the Corona impeachment trial.

But in the eventual lead up to the final selection for the slot, Aquino issued a statement to this effect: “The next Chief Justice need not be part of government and need not be old.”


Aquino appoints government peace panel chairman Leonen as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Published on 22 November, 2012 - 17:42 FROM PHILIPPINE EMBASSY ONLINE

That gave me the guts to declare in my blog the hint: Dean Marvic Leonen, head of the government negotiating panel in the peace talks.

For a time, I would think I erred. Leonen would eventually get appointed to the High Court, all right, but only as Associate Justice.

A year or so later, however, I would get information that Aquino did offer to Leonen the post of Supreme Court Chief Justice but the latter declined for reason of delicadeza or whatever.

In any case, an asset in the US reminds me that CIA operatives work most covertly.

Part 2 of this three-part series will come out on Saturday Nov 7 and Part 3 on Sunday Nov 8.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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