Thursday, October 2, 2008

National Food Authority (NFA) Lost Billions?

A militant farmers group said the National Food Authority (NFA) lost billions in its rice importation program that will hurt local farmers.

The Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Humabol) said that the Arroyo administration is expected to import 2.296 metric tons of rice this year.

Based on the estimated NFA stock inventory as of July 1, 929,337 metric tons are imported rice which accounts for 97.99 percent of the NFA stock.

While the NFA targets imports to reach 971,145 metric tons, the planned rice grain procurement during the same period is only 51,238 metric tons.

Quoting from a primer of the NFA Employees Association, Humabol said the price of imported rice is more expensive than domestic rice

Humabol said the rice importation has greatly contributed to the NFA's losses especially with the imposition of the rice import tariff.

Even the Department of Finance said that losses of the NFA may reach P43.1 billion if the price of rice in the world market increases to more than $1,000 per metric ton.

Citing NFA sources, Humabol said the Arroyo government's rice importation program is in compliance with its commitment to the World Trade Organization. Under its minimum access volume, the country is obliged to import a certain volume of rice whether or not there is a supply shortage.           

According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), poor farmers cannot afford to sell their produce to the NFA and cannot avail of the subsidy on fertilizers.

Willy Marbella, KMP secretary general, said landless peasants have to pay for land rent, interest payments for debts they incurred, and also have to shoulder all the expenses in production.

Even with the NFA's mobile procurement program, Marbella said poor farmers cannot sell their produce to the NFA because they have nothing more to sell.

He said their produce goes to the trader from whom they loaned the seeds and fertilizers. 

Feast of St Michael the Archangel

By Joe Espiritu

Ok Mac, its fiesta time. A few days from now will be the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It will not only be the Jagnaanons, who will celebrate this religious event hut also those from Clarin and San Miguel, Bohol . Farther away, those from Iligan City and Argao, Cebu will be doing the same. Here, the fiesta will not be the same as a few years before, when Jagna celebrated its 375th anniversary, but it will be as colorful as well.

 There is one thing peculiar in a Jagnaanon. This is; if he cannot be always in Jagna, he will bring Jagna along with him. In any part of the world, where two or more Jagnaanons live, they will celebrate the fiesta on September 29, Sometimes, since they are working, they will celebrate the event on a Sunday nearest that date.  Before that, they will hold a nine-day novena in the house of one of the board of directors and on the day, a priest who is a Jagnaanon will celebrate the mass.

 One of the oldest organizations loyal to the patron saint of Jagna is the Pundok Jagnaanon of Metro Manila. This group is made up of Jagna expats, who had left town years ago that the younger ones here do not know them anymore, and the second-generation expats, who had never been to Jagna. Once, when Padre Saro was the parish priest of Sta Mesa, which church is near the old Stop and Shop the fiesta mass was celebrated there. The party was in Aroma CafĂ© in Sta Cruz, Manila . This time, the Pundok holds their celebration in the Aberdeen Court in Quezon City. Perhaps they celebrate the mass there too.

 Another group of Jagnaanons, who follow the same observation are those from far away  . They observe their fiesta in the suburbs of Los Angeles or somewhere near San Francisco. We are not sure, whether they are just one organization since Frisco is some eight hours drive from the City of the Angels. Besides, there are more turtogoks in the former particularly around Salinas and Stockton. But turtogoks sure passports to US citizenship of young Filipinas are dying breed. They are replaced by younger, streetwise Pinoys.

 The California expats have one over, the Pundok members of Metro Manila. They observe the sinulog. Perhaps the Pundok members are more inhibited. There was once a sinulog contingent in the Frisco suburbs one fiesta.  The drummer was a CPA from Looc. He must have observed many sinulog presentations here that he was able to drum out the correct beat. The prancing and banging of shields was the same including the recitation of rhymes more often than not irrelevant to the event. Anyway they are appreciated there by the Pinoys and their Americans guests though the latter do not understand a word of what is going on.

 To commemorate the event, T-shirts emblazoned with the patron saint are given away. We have one and there was a story, which goes along with it. An artist was hired by a sponsor to print the image of the archangel on T-shirts to be given away. The sponsor, an excellent example of a TBTK – Tanang – did not pay the agreed price. In the first samples that came out, the devil under the foot of St Michael was sporting the face of the sponsor. The amount must have been correctly paid since the face of the devil in the later versions was darkened out. 

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

By Looking Glass, Sunday Post

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Bohol Chapter is expressing its deepest condolences to the family of the late Judge Rafael Mumar, who was physically incapacitated due to a car accident some years back. He was laid to rest Saturday, September 27 after necrological services at the Lindaville church in Lindaville subdivision. 

  The IBP was represented by Vice Pres. Pepe Estrera, who personally delivered IBP's mortuary aid to the late judge family during the church rites. MTCC Judge Emma Supremo and better - half Asst City Fiscal Conrado Supremo closely coordinated with the IBP president in behalf of the Mumar family to facilitate the assistance.  

       Also passing to eternity this week is the late lawyer Sulpicio Tinampay, who was a former dean of the college of law of the Holy Name University (HNU), and one of Bohol's outstanding legal eagles . The IBP joins the family in honoring an illustrious Boholano lawyer, who literally exercised his profession up to the last moments of his life. His son, lawyer Al Tinampay is expected to continue where his late father left off in the practice of law. 

Attack Against Senate President Manny Villar

The Looking Glass
Column, Sunday Post

      Despite the obvious demolition job orchestrated on the floor of the Senate by the unlikely tandem of Senators Ping Lacson and Jamby Madrigal, the object of their attack Senate President Manny Villar appears unperturbed, and so far has not said any unkind word against them. 

       Villar's multi- partisan allies in the Senate led by administration Senator Joker Arroyo and opposition stalwart Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., including the legislative firebrand Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, continue to support the former vis- a-vis the scurrilous attacks against the Senate Chief. 

       Today's Senate has become the battleground of presidentiables with at least three (3) senators who are widely known as aspiring for the presidency in 2010, namely, Villar, Lacson and Senator Mar Roxas. 

       The vitriolic attacks on Villar is based on the alleged congressional insertions in last year's budget showing that there were two (2) appropriations for the C- 5 road in Metro Manila , a road that is also known as Carlos P. Garcia Avenue. The road appears to have two (2) P200- million appropriations intended for its concreting and improvement. 

       Despite Lacson and Madrigal's tirade on the Senate floor, they have not so far presented hard evidence to prove their accusations that Villar was responsible for the insertions. Nothing in the records would show that Manny Villar had indeed dipped his hand into the questioned appropriation.  

       The bad thing going against Lacson and Madrigal is that both refused to be questioned or interpellated on the Senate floor, which is a showing that they do not have  proof of Villar's alleged wrongdoing. Such actuations are condemnable since they are hiding behind the clock of parliamentary immunity, and are therefore protected from legal retribution. 

       To our mind, Senators Ping Lacson and Jamby Madrigal can never come together with their colleagues in the Senate, neither can they be expected to keep working as team players in the Villar Senate presidency, where working together can only spell legislative success during these tough economic times. They appear to be super stars trying to outshine the moon knowing that this can never  happen even in a democratic environment. 

Congressman Natalio Castillo Sr

By Frony Fortich, Bohol Sunday Post

As a young reporter, I was helping also in the election campaign of then  manager of Southern Industrial Projects, Gregorio Concon, who contested the congressional reelection drive of the late Congressman Natalio Castillo. I was a party of the Concon demolition team and even Chito Castillo, his son knew this well kept secret.

 A few years after when I decided to stay in Manila , Castillo knew me as the son of Guadalupe Canizares, who was her teacher. When he saw me, he asked about my mother and also if I had a job. I said I was jobless at that time. He asked what my profession is, and I replied I was a teacher. He did ask me I have a civil service eligibility which I did, and he asked me to follow to his congressional office, where and there, he wrote a letter to the City Superintendent of Schools of Manila recommending me for a teaching position in the City of Manila. Thereupon, the note was readily recognized and the good superintendent sent me to teach at Manuel Roxas High School in Paco although I did not stay that long because I hated writing lesson plans and I was not really a dyed in the wool teacher.    

Collapse of a Philippine Bridge

Eye Opener, Column, Sunday Post

One of the popular figures during the Marcos administration was the congressman from Ilocos Norte, Tony Raquiza. The Ilocano solon form part of the CRC bloc, composed of Congresmen Manuel Cases, Floro Crisologo and then Tony Raquiza.

 Raquiza was appointed  Public Works and Highways Secretary during the Marcos regime. He once went to Bohol to inspect bridges here. He went to a certain bridge in Sevilla and upon the proddings of certain officials in that area, Raquiza promised to construct a new bridge to replace the old one. He remarked and promised that in 90 days I will "Raquitize this bridge means the facility will be completed.

 In 90 days the bridge was "Raquitized" alright, completed and inaugurated. A day after the inauguration, the bridge collapsed, when I went to the scene as a reporter of the Bohol Chronicle, I saw the collapsed bridge and then some bodies floating on the river. I asked a bystander, how many died since I saw bodies floating, he said about two, wondering aloud that it could be more, and thinking that if six people died, it would certainly get a page one billing at the then popular Manila Times, because of the numbers killed, I wrote the story and also provided another copy to Radio Station DYRD.

 The Manila Times edition carried out the story on page 1 with my byline. How proud I was. one billing with my byline was certainly a scoop to relish.  Later on in the day, the then Chronicle editor called me to come to the Bohol Chronicle . He was a little bit angry and agitated for me being careless with facts and figures as people killed are like typhoons which are always exaggerated in the terms of damages, because obviously the bigger damage estimates, the more money the public officials would get, it is always a secret collaboration between the media and the public officials. So the more people killed, the guarantee of a page one billing in the Manila Times.

 But then later Atty. Zoilo Dejaresco Jr., my boss pointed an accusing finger at me. You are a murderer, how can you, only two people were killed in that bridge collapse, but you reported six people were killed, an exaggeration of figures. As a young reporter, it was only at that time, that I realized the gravity of the journalism crime I committed.

 During the early years, being haughty and 'hambugero" were part of my traits. Imagine there were only three considered newspapermen in town. The late Zoilo Dejaresco Jr., Gov. Erico Aumentado and I. Not that many. When I walked at the capitol everybody was looking at me.

Stories About Journalists

From Eye Opener Column in Sunday Post

Stories about journalists antedated story
There quite some stories about newspapermen and every now and then they cropped up.

At one time, we were publishing a newspaper in Bohol which was printed in Cebu City.

The then Amable Aquiluz, auditor general, the forerunner of the AMA group of schools was supposed  to be  the graduation speaker of the Bohol School of Arts and Trades .

Anxious to get his speaking engagement in the newspaper which was coming out on a Sunday, I wrote the news probably estimating that he would be citing the role of vocational education in nation development. 

I met to  him on Sunday morning in Cebu City while we were bringing the newspapers to Bohol for distribution  on a Sunday. I proudly told him Mr. Aguiluz, your speaking engagement which was scheduled on a Saturday came out on the Sunday's issue. His curt reply what news, I am still going to Bohol to deliver the speech. It turned out he had a last minute postponement due to an urgent engagement.

Issue on Philippine Reproductive Health Bill (RHB)

By Joe Espiritu, Bohol Sunday Post

The past week news has been disturbing. In the print media and television, items said that the Church is taking the Reproductive Health Bill or RHB issue to the school level. Then back page of a national broad sheet, a picture of three bishops holding hand sized placards urging the scrapping of the imposition of the Value Added Tax. On television, Mike Velarde, leader of a large religious group threatened to run for president, if the Reproductive Health Bill is passed. This is too much.

 In a democracy like ours, everybody has the right to express his opinion. However, this right is not absolute. There is always a limitation. There was a saying once, which said, "the right to swing one's arm ends where the nose to his neighbor begins." There are others, who have a different opinion. Unfortunately, they do not have the same clout or exposure as those who profess to be the guardian of the welfare of the people.

 In the media, we have live up to a principle, which says, the bigger is the influence welded, the bigger the responsibility it carries. We, therefore, exercise caution and restrai9nt in our opinions knowing that there are those, who may be influenced by our thinking. Although we can issue a retraction in the later issues of the paper, reputations had been damaged or wrong information had been disseminated. This is not always the same in other organizations, which claims infallibility.

 Because of cannon law, the Church must oppose the RHB. It is not only their right but also their duty. But there are also Catholics, who do not follow their thinking. Those who call themselves "modern" Catholics do not always follow all, what their prelates say. As long as they do not run against the doctrine, as long as they adhere to the Nicean Creed, they claim that their conscience is clear. They may be denied communion or any other sanctions imposed by they Church. It is up to the Church authorities.

 Because the Church welds tremendous influence over the predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines, it must also be aware of its awesome responsibilities. The Church is perfectly aware that the soul cannot be kept pure if the body is weak and prone to temptation. It is hard to praise God, when there is no food in his stomach, no roof over his head, clothes on his body and no hope in his future. It is hard to praise God either if he sees his loved ones cold, starving or in danger.

 All over the world, it is the government, which is responsible for the basic needs of its citizens. In disasters man made or natural, it is the government, which must provide food, shelter, clothing and any and all means so the citizens could be able to start life anew. Above all, the government must also provide its citizens a chance for a better life in the future. All these need money. And money comes from taxes. Additional services need additional money, which is to come from Value Added Taxes.

 If the RHB stops the murder of fetuses and neonates, safeguard the health of the mothers, and keep the Philippine population at a manageable level, the bill has achieved its end. If the Value Added Taxes provide immediate relief in disasters, help the afflicted stand on their own feet and provide a better hope for the future by providing those without livelihood a chance for gainful employment, then his tax must be kept. The VAT is extracted from those who are fortunate enough to pay not from those who do not have the capacity to pay.

 Governance must be left to the government. If the Church wants to help, they are very much welcome. If the Church chose to criticize, let them, we would help them do it. However, if they exert influence for religious reasons, perhaps we would think many times before helping. We would not like to live in a country run by religious authorities like the mullahs of Afghanistan or ayatollahs of Iran. 

Jail Management in Bohol

The management of the Provincial Jail is finally transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).  Gov. Erico B. Aumentado and BJMP Director Rosendo Dial signed the Memorandum of Agreement last Friday that sealed the transfer effective immediately although still on a transition period. 

 Under the law, provincial jails are managed and operated by the provincial governments while district and municipal jails are under the BJMP. 

 So is the new arrangement an amendment of the law?  It is not.  We are informed this is just a temporary arrangement that is not entirely new.  Accordingly there are other provinces who have already transferred the management of their jails to the BJMP.  It will appear though that the provincial government's surrender of the management of the provincial jail is indicative of the inability of provincial governments to management the jails. 

 This is not an empty view because experience in the Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Center (BDRC) would show a history of changing hands in the management of the jail from one provincial warden to another, to an officer in charge, to acting warden and what have you. 

 A number of full-fledge provincial wardens have been thrown in the freezer because the jail was not managed properly.  Mass actions after mass actions by detainees and prisoners and prisoners escaping taking place were not a rarity in the jail.   

 There was a time when the prisoners were virtually running the jail more than the management. They dictate what happens or what not happens inside the jail.  Family members stay in the jail as if it was their home as well.  Children were seen running and playing wantonly inside the premises as if it was their backyard and world. 

 The jail was supposed to be an institution of law and order and where the occupants are taught discipline and law and order to prepare them for their eventual return to mainstream society but sadly there was none.  On the contrary it was their families who were being immersed and drawn into the world of offenders. 

 Drastic reforms were necessary but what reforms and how were they to be carried out? 

 Gov. Aumentado threw the warden into the freezer and assigned a retired military man in the person of Lt. Col. Raul Mendez, who is known for his probity and competence while still in the service.  It was a tall order and a difficult task to reconvert the jail into an institution that it would be – an institution of correction and rehabilitation for society's offenders. 

 At the first sign of reform, the prisoners and inmates howled.  They even had means to let the media in on their complaints.  The Colonel stood his grounds not only because he had the mandate but because he was right.  The prisoners felt he was intruding into their comfort zones that they have long enjoyed. 

 That was when the June 3, 2008 raid of the provincial jail by a composite group of police and the military took place that cleansed the jail and restored order in it. 

 The BJMP that assumed the management of the provincial jail last Friday will be starting with a better environment than when Col. Mendez took over its management. 

 Under the new management, the jail will be considered district jail of the BJMP but it will also remain as the provincial jail until such time that the law is amended. There are now proposals to amend it.  Meantime the provincial guards will remain employees of the provincial government until some of those qualified can be absorbed by the BJMP. 

 Will the professional jail managers do better?  It remains to be seen.  While it is virtually a surrender of responsibility on the part of the provincial government, a lot of problems and burden is also taken off its shoulders. 

Justice for the son's death in Bohol Province

By Boy Guingguing, Sunday Post Publisher

           Interest is a very strong word. Regardless of who is involved, the degree of involvement is always strong. For instance, there is the expression that in politics there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies. There is only permanent interest.

             I am reminded about a sad incident involving the mother of a young man who was killed in a gang-related incident many years ago. Still stricken with grief and crying out for justice for the death of her son, the mother went to a distant relative who is a prominent politician in the province.

             The mother expected the politician to help her because he is known to be very approachable and supportive. The public perception is that he is one who goes out of his way to help people in need. In other words, he looks good to everybody.

             Imagine the mother's disappointment when the politician told her his dilemma.

             "Unsaon man nako ni ha? Amigo man gud nako kaayo ang amahan?" That was how the politician answered when his help was asked in the quest for justice.

             The mother could not believe her ears. This man has always been known to facilitate the needs of people. This man always had a way of saying things to give the perception that he cared and that he will do something.

             That time, the politician did something she did not expect. He turned her down.

             This was one thing the mother needed most – justice for her son. She would give the world just to bring the people responsible for his death to justice. She loved her so much and now he is gone. The only way to prove that love is to bring his killers to face the music.

             But the response of the politician-relative came as a complete surprise to her. She was so disappointed that she decided not to press charges anymore. Although she knew the killers, she felt that if her politician-relative could not help her, then the father of the suspect must be very powerful.

             The mother is still grieving over the death of her son. She is still grieving because his killers are still out there, laughing, enjoying life while her son has long been buried. She is also grieving because every time she reads about her politician-relative, all she reads is his genuine desire to help people.

             She is also grieving when he reads about the father of the suspect. He is known in the community as a very religious man. He belongs to a very respected family who is not associated with any wrongdoing.

             The mother continues to pray earnestly that God will intervene so that her son will get justice. She hopes that even if her politician-relative will not help, there will be other people who will help her.

             As for the father of the suspect, she leaves him and his family to God.

              There are no permanent friends, only permanent interest. I cannot wait to see the day when interest dictates that the politician-friend help the mother get justice.

             Abangan ang susunod na kabanata! 

Philippine Mining Monopoly

             In the waning years of Martial Law, a joke circulated about a former First Lady being in the mining business. It was told that she went to a place where business was thriving and casually declared: "this is mine, this mine, etc."

             The joke of course generated no small amount of laughter. But the painful reality is that, to paraphrase a popular song in the 70s, the joke was on us. It was good for a few laughs, but somebody else was laughing all the way to the bank.

             A controversy over the mining monopoly in Bohol brought back memories of that joke although it is clear this one is no laughing matter. For who knows how long, a single individual laid claim to nearly all the mining activities in the province.

             This culminated in a recent raid in a northern town which generated angry responses from top provincial officials. No less than a government agency carried out the raid at the instance of the claimant obviously against public interest.

             If something good can come out of it, it is the crafting of a mining ordinance that should pave the way for the tilting of the balance in favor of common interest.

             Of course, it is too early to tell if the proposed ordinance would indeed be able to accomplish that. Given the intervening interests, there is always the possibility that it would not serve the purpose for which it was intended.

             Common good is fodder for motherhood statements. Sadly however, far too often it is sacrificed at the altar of selfish interest. Human nature simply cannot resist the lure of raking in obscene profit when the opportunity presents itself.

             A case in point is the impending bidding of the Dampas diesel plant. No matter how one looks at it, the sale when consummated will bring in huge profit to the winning bidder.

             In the process however, it will be the people who will be the ultimate loser. For all its faults, the National Power Corporation has done the people of Bohol a great service by subsidizing power rates until this time.

             Once the plant is privately operated however, the subsidy will be discontinued. On top of that, the plant owners will be on the lookout for profit. It will be a race to the top for power rates in Bohol .

             And yet, few people are taking notice. The ones we have entrusted to look after our interests are looking elsewhere. In this business, it is quid pro quo.

             The tragedy is that while people have made complaining and whining an art, few people are inclined to take steps to solve the problem. That's action for you.

             That leaves people in the mining industry all the leeway that they need. They can help themselves to the loot. Nobody cares anyway.  - Editorial, Bohol Sunday Post