Monday, January 26, 2009

Asin Choir

The ASIN Choir of the Holy Rosary Parish launched its yearly outreach program to far-flung barangays of the said municipality last Saturday, January 10, 2009.

After raising funds from the Christmas caroling (igi-igi) and winning the choir competition in their parish, December of last year and with the full support of the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Felix Warli Salise, they were able to purchase items such as rice, canned goods and other basic necessities to be given to the people of Sitio Upper and Lower Calumbangan, Barangay Bantolinao. Together with the municipal mayor, a former ASIN Choir member, Hon. Cecelia Rebosura, the group hiked more than a kilometer of slippery road under the pouring rain to bring the goods to the families.

A short program was conducted at the Lower Calumbangan chapel followed by the distribution of gifts to the forty eight (48) families.

"With the seventeen (17) years that we've been together, we're blessed with many accomplishments and successes. We just want to share these blessings to our fellow Antequeranians," Mrs. Belina Familiar, founder of the ASIN Choir said. (Mr. Dodz)

Ubi Festival

The annual Ubi Festival will open on Thursday at the Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center (B-APC), Dao, Tagbilaran City, with the theme: "Ubing Bol-anon Tubag sa Kawad-on, Atong Palambuon". The activity provides agri-entrepreneurs a venue of promoting up to date technologies and generating information to enhance production of quality food and other agri-based products, at the same time, ubi buyers can avail of the products at farmgate prices or it assures lower prices compared to prices in the local markets.

Highlights of the festival are: motorcade from Plaza Rizal going to the venue; opening program and ribbon cutting; product display, cooking demonstration, Ubifest contests on Most Promising Ubi Processed Product and Ubi Cuisine; Best Booth, Pinaka Contest, Poster Making and the Literary Musical Contest  which includes : Balak, Kuradang, Jingle and Miss Ubi Queen 2009.

Gov. Erico B. Aumentado, Vice-Gov. Julius Caesar F. Herrera, DA-RFU 7 Director Ricardo Oblena, Provincial Agriculturist Liza M. Quirog , DA-B-APC Project Manager Engr. Eugene Cahiles;  17 town mayors with ubi growers and; other key players of the ubi industry.

The festival is spearheaded by the Provincial Government of Bohol thru the Provincial Agriculture Office in partnership with the LIFE Phil. Foundation Inc.; Bohol Ubi Center Foundation, Inc.; the Department of Agriculture through the Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center (B-APC); Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and DA-CENVIARC  CES, Gabi, Ubay. (Ma. Gemma Garay-Encabo)

Jobs Update in the Philippines

As more Filipinos lose jobs or get lower pay for shorter working hours, the workers party Partido ng Manggagawa on Saturday pushed for a bailout package for workers and the poor.

Together with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, the party-list organization also called for a tripartite labor summit on job generation and preservation.

PM chairman Renato Magtubo said such a conference among government, employers, and workers should come up with "road map for economic recovery." "Labor will push for a bailout package for workers as the cornerstone of a recovery plan," he said.

Magtubo's party-list organization proposes to give subsidy to those who lost their jobs and tax refund for all workers. He explained that as most consumers are either poor or workers or both, putting money in their hands so would allow them to spend for their basic needs like food and "thereby keep the wheels of production rolling."

"These proposals comprise an economic stimulus. Industry will collapse if it is squeezed by a tightening of commercial credit on the one hand and on the other by a contraction in consumer spending," he said.

"It is time to put the Philippine economy on a rehabilitation program to cut its decades-long addiction on export orientation and overseas employment. The strategic solution to the crisis is to strengthen the domestic economy by promoting local industrialization and agricultural modernization anchored on agrarian reform," he added.

PM's bailout package also called for a reformed and expanded state employment program for the millions of unemployed Filipinos.
"Workers are the last to benefit during an economic boom and will not agree to be sacrificed first amidst a global crisis. No retreat on labor standards, no surrender on workers' rights," Magtubo said.

On the other hand, the center named after the late foreign affairs secretary said the summit should lead to a "multi-sector and multi-pronged approach in helping displaced workers."

The center's president Susan Ople said the impending closure of Intel in the Philippines and other parts of the world where Filipino information technology workers are employed serves as a wake-up call for the country with more than four million overseas Filipino workers.

Alabang Boys: Who Are They?

From Mirror Column of Sunday Post

Dura est lex sed lex so runs the Latin saying, if we still remember it. In context, it means that the law is tough but that is the law. That was what the Alabang Boys had found out but it seem that the progress of the case is going in their favor despite the circumstances. When the state prosecutors handling the case recommended the dropping of the case despite the evidence presented rumors flew thick and fast that large amounts of money changed hands. This may or may not be true.

 To the layman following the case, he will be inclined to think that bribery had happened. The case had been filed with ample evidence to convict. But it is not  so simple as that. A case filed in court sits on a legal minefield. It must satisfy the procedural and substantial elements of a case. This particular case was filed as a result of a buy – bust operation. That is; to make a case, an undercover agent offered to buy prohibited drugs from a suspected dealer. A sale was transacted, marked money and drugs exchanged hands. While the exchange was going on, the agent of the law apprehended the seller. The marked money and drugs were taken as evidence.

 The looks of it, this would seem to be an open and shut case, that means the accused seller has no way to wiggle out. However, the government prosecutors to whom this case was submitted found technicalities, which would free the suspects. One of them was that the apprehending officer is a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a marine officer to be exact. The law, they say, stipulates that an arresting officer must be a member of the Philippine National Police. The arrest was technically invalid.

 On the other hand, the prosecutor may argue that a member of any government agency may be deputized as a member of a police task force. Upon deputization the agent may now have powers equal to any police agent so he could perform his assigned duties properly. Let the lawyer of the opposition try to destroy his stand. However, since the prosecutor decided not to file the case he was accused of being influenced. Now his bank accounts are scrutinized. This is a case dammed when you do dammed when you don't.

 The most telling argument the government prosecutor had cited was a Supreme Court decision  that the case cannot be pursued because the arresting officers did not conduct an inventory of evidence where the warrant was served. The arresting officials brought the car with incriminating evidence to their headquarters for the cataloguing of its contents. To counter that, the lawyers of the Philippine Drug Enforcement agency personnel arresting the Alabang boys contend that if the same decision is to be fully read, it further states that in case of warrant less arrest like a buy – bust operation, the evidence may be inventoried in the nearest police station or any appropriate place..

 No conscientious prosecutor would like to handle a losing case. His office requires a conviction of any case he is to handle. Therefore, he would like to keep his bases covered, holes plugged and angles figured out. He would not like surprises sprang on him in the hearing. Here in this Alabang Boys case, he sees a loophole, which he think cannot be satisfactorily plugged so he recommends that the case may not be filed. So he says. It seems that he is acting for the Alabang boys instead of against them.

 According to substantive law, there was a violation of a law, and because not only of the existence but also a preponderance of evidence, a case may be filed.. However, according to procedural law, the case may not be filed since a violation was committed in the apprehension. Again rumors and unsubstantiated accusations flew that there were large amount of money that changed hands to influence the case How the case will end depends on the lawyers. A corrupt lawyer may weaken a strong case by deliberately creating technical difficulties. As we had said before, it is not the truth that is on trial but the interpretation of the truth.

Sad CAP Insurance in the Philippines

From the Looking Glass Column of Sunday Post

THOUSANDS OF PLANHOLDERS, mostly educational, have been seeking the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to recover their investments in some fifty (50) pre- need companies such as CAP, Pacific Plans, among many others.

 Unfortunately until now, these pre-need companies refused to return the hard-earned money of their planholders. To evade payment of their just claims, some twenty eight (28) of these companies have either declared bankruptcy or closed shop.

 The SEC, which is supposed to protect public interest, and go over the activities of these pre-need establishments so that planholders can recover their claims, has so far refused to compel pre-need companies to respond favorably to the complaints of their investors.

 Instead, SEC appears to protect the interest of pre-need companies by agreeing with the owners of these companies that because the latter lost some P1.4 billion for last year's operations alone, that planholders should wait for better times when these pre-need companies can finally recover from their financial woes.

 The questions are: Is it the fault of planholders that these companies allegedly lost some P1.4 in their operations? How about the money put up by planholders which were largely invested for their children's education?  

 The recent actuations of the SEC vis-à-vis the issue of the thousands of unpaid planholders, point to one overwhelming conclusion. It is either inutile or sick.

 We received a copy the letter of RTC Judge Pablo Magdoza sharply rebuking the Bohol Chronicle for a recent editorial that pilloried the judiciary for some imagined fault or wrongdoing.

 The good judge who has established a sterling record in his career with the prosecution service as well as in the judiciary was apparently irked by what he called half- truths, etc., in the paper's recent editorial.

 To our mind, Judge Magdoza only wants truth to stalk the land, and for justice to prevail even when life seem unbearable.


 It is difficult to determine truth from fiction in the war of attrition between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). With spinmasters muddling the issue with each passing day, one can no longer be too sure who is telling the truth and who is passing off lies.

 For sure, somebody is pulling someone else's legs. The DOJ and the PDEA can't both be right - although they can both be capable of a certain degree of dishonesty and insincerity.

 At the rate truth is routinely being distorted in this country, people cannot be faulted if they have lost faith in the system they no longer care about how this will end. With the administration's proven skill in disposing of the ZTE Broadband and Hello Garci scandals and the Arroyo impeachments in Congress among other things, who can blame them if they feel that way?

 The Bolante investigation seems to be headed the same way and no one will be surprised if the Alabang Boys bribery scandal follows suit. If practice makes perfect, then there is no better proof to that than what's going on.

 Indeed, one cannot but shudder at the sight of State Prosecutor John Resado leveling his accusations against PDEA lawyer Alvaro Lazaro as though he has not done anything wrong.

 While the hearings still have to determine (if at all) the truth or falsehood of his claims, Resado definitely has no compunction about his failure to disclose this crucial detail prior to the last hearing.

 Has decency really gone to the dogs in this country? Is there nothing left of civility at the very least?

 And what about Lazaro? He was combative in prior hearings, sounding very much like a man who had nothing to hide. When Resado spilled the beans however, Lazaro was no different to a man whose hand was caught in the cookie jar.

 Will anybody please tell us what the real story is?

 In other places and other times, it does not need much for people to own up to their shortcomings at the first sign of disclosure. Today, people can be so shameless as to deny complicity even in the face of overwhelming proof.

 And yet, while it difficult to tell truth from lies, let us not lose sleep over that. In due time, or more appropriately, in God's time, truth will be known. Much like separating the chaff from the grain and goats from sheep, justice will take its course.

 No doubt about it, divine justice is the great equalizer.     

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Philippine Passport for Pinoy Police

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will hold the second leg of the one-day special processing of machine-readable passports for police personnel and their families.

A team from the DFA through Mr Rodolfo Gaspar, Head of the Courtesy Lane will be in Camp Crame on Saturday, January 24, to process passport applications of PNP personnel and their qualified dependents.

According to Police Director German B Doria of the Directorate for Police Community Relations, the passport processing will allow Camp Crame based personnel to apply or renew for a new passport and change their old passports into machine-readable travel documents.

"The DFA has been very generous in extending assistance to the members of the PNP who wanted to avail of these services. This will be of great convenience to not only to PNP employees but to their families as well," Doria stated. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Cebu Pacific Flight Destinations

We're set to take delivery of our seventh brand-new ATR 72-500 aircraft, and very excited to fly to Catarman and Calbayog in Samar, Virac in Catanduanes, and Cauayan, Isabela starting February 2009!

To celebrate the arrival of our brand new ATR 72-500, we are offering a promotional P500 all-in 'Go Lite' seat sale for Manila to Busuanga, Calbayog, Catarman, Cauayan, Naga and Virac services, and we've even included select Cebu hub flights to Cotabato, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Legaspi, Ozamiz, Siargao and Tacloban routes in the promo!

More exciting news – You can also grab a ZERO fare for our Manila-Osaka service. This is exclusive of applicable surcharges and government taxes.

The seat sale STARTS NOW until January 14, 2009 and is good for travel from February 1, or the start date of respective flights, to March 31, 2009.

We are also mounting additional flights for Manila-Naga from daily to 10 times weekly starting on February 14 and Manila-Busuanga from daily to 11 times weekly starting on February 15.

The new service to Catarman, Samar and Virac, Catanduanes will start on February 14; flights to Calbayog, Samar and Cauayan, Isabela will start on February 18, 2009.

CEB will fly Manila-Catarman and Manila-Virac every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; Manila-Calbayog and Manila-Cauayan on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

'Go Lite' fares can be availed by passengers with no check-in luggage. Passengers with check-in bags will just add P200 upon booking.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fly to Clark, Cebu, Manila and Davao Destinations

Cebu Pacific Air starts the year right with zero fare promotion for most of our international routes from Clark, Cebu, Manila, and Davao hubs.

Take the opportunity to travel to our neighboring Asian destinations! We've allocated more than 70,000 seats for the international seat sale. This includes CEB's flights to Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kaohsiung, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Shanghai, Singapore, and Taipei.

Get ready to unwind because we are also offering a P1,999 promo fare for our Manila-Osaka (Japan) thrice weekly service. Passengers availing the Osaka promotion may refund their surcharges.

The seat sale STARTS NOW until January 22, 2009 and is valid for travel from February 1 to March 31, 2009. This is nonrefundable, and is exclusive of applicable surcharges and government taxes.

For this summer season, we are also expanding our international flight services by increasing frequencies from Manila to:

• Shanghai, from five times weekly to daily starting March 31;
• Kuala Lumpur, from four to five times weekly starting March 27;
• Macau; from six times weekly to daily starting April 1

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Justice Reynato Puno

"A Government afflicted with moral leprosy deserves nothing less than the graveyard."
Thus spoke Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno in a speech before the Anvil Club, a group of young Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs recently.

Time has not eroded the sterling integrity and honesty of Chief Justice Puno who is now on his 16th year as a member of the Highest Tribunal of the Land (since 1993). 

He as a "Puno" (tree) is never likened to a bamboo which bends and sways expediently at the direction of the wind. Chief Justice Puno is more like an oakwood, an acacia tree, strong and sturdy and crowns the neighborhood with the comfort of its massive shade.

Little wonder there is that survey over sister Station DYRD revealing that 8 out of 10 people interviewed believes Puno is a strong material for a presidential timber in 2010.That is a benchmark of how much people  had  assiduously searched with a lantern for the proverbial "honest man" over  the posturings of traditional politicians and the  "promising" kind. And found the "tree" of their liking.

Of course, the Chief Magistrate shuns politics like a plague -in trying to keep his decisions in the his Court totally unblemished by hints of political ambition. It is of course- the country's loss for him not to consider running for the presidency.

SC CJ Reynato Puno is a fire-breathing dragon when he spews his language against the pillars of scourges in the country: corruption, human rights violation and the armed struggle.

Despite losing the "Executive Privilege" fight to the Palace Supreme Court toadies, Puno displayed exceptional brilliance dissenting against it; started the Writ of Amparo in a summit he called in 2007 against the extra-judicial killings in the country and led his court four-square against the MOA over the ancestral domain in Mindanao that would have torn the country asunder in geographic politics.

When he retires in May 2010- Puno will have left behind a landmark legacy of being a "moral force" that manifested itself endearingly to the populace within the halls of justice. Says he" Only the moral system, not the legal system will save us.", noting continually perhaps how we often behave like a country of men rather than of laws. And of the kind of men unfortunately bereft of integrity at that.  
Defending the last bastion of democracy (the courts) the Chief Prelate believes that if the judiciary loses its independence, our democracy will die. That is a food for thought that nourishes - be you in Aparri or Jolo.

Citing Confucius (the sage) who spoke of Good Governance, Puno believes that more than having military might, more than providing food sufficiency,a good government must have the confidence of the people." From old, death has been the lot of men; but if people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the State."

Indeed Puno illuminates with gravitas because he does what of he speaks. Crucifix is to Dracula as the voice of an honest man is to the corrupt and the unjust.    

Now, there are moves to impeach Puno for purportedly sitting on the papers of the petition of the powerful Parases of Negros Oriental to nullify the 7,000 majority win votes of Rep Jocelyn Limkaichong (2007 election)  on the ground that the latter being Chinese, she is therefore not a natural born citizen.

But the SC draft resolution cannot be promulgated since 9 of the 14 justices "who agreed" on the result did not concur with the reasons for the conclusion. It is purely procedural and definitely not a solid ground for impeachment by Congress. 

Puno had welcomed the impeachment move, knowing his moral compass so well on the Limkaichong issue and that Congress acting on it will just appear to be "crooks daring to sit in judgment over an honest man.". Let them and allow this nation to in turn sit in judgment over their judgment.

The Puno impeachment move is a tell-tale sign of desperation. For as Conrad Quiros says" You cannot destroy an honest man by killing him,you can destroy an honest man by destroying his honesty." They are not succeeding, fortunately.

The nation is longing for a breath of fresh air in the midst of so much filthy corruption, abuses and compartmentalized justice in the nation. That is why the names of non-traditional politicians for national office are now being floated for consideration. 

Already three "Kaya Natin" members are being groomed for senator.The name of Isabela Governor Maria  Gracia Cielo Padaca who put an end to the ruthless political dynasty of the Dys is one of them. Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio who broke the jueteng and quarry lords by his priestly demeanor and character is another. So is maverick achiever Naga Mayor Jesse Rebredo.

Quietly , the names of Jun Lozada and Joey de Venecia, the ZTE-NBN whistle-blowers and SBMA environmental hero, renowned architect Felino Palafox, are now being bruited about as 2010 national materials.

Contrary to perceptions that the bold moves of Lozada and De Venecia amounted to nothing: let us recall that the ZTE-NBN contract has since been aborted by GMA and that the corrupt Comelec Chair Benjamin "Burger" Abalos had  ignominiously resigned from his post.

Contrary to perception, Palafox' environmental crusade won the first round since the 330 century-old trees to this date remain uncut at Subic and the DENR had instead cut the authority of the SBMA to allow contracts to fell foliage in the area. Speak of poetic justice.
Lest we forget, the election of Senator Trillanes was largely a "protest vote" against corruption.

Chief Justice Reynato Puno may refuse the luster of the presidency  in 2010- be that as it may. But let us remember his Confucian advice about leadership always: "If the leader's desire is for good, people will be good. The moral character of the leader is the wind; the moral character of those beneath him is the wind. Where the wind blows, the grass bends."
Such a provider of moral ballast!"Punong-puno ng mabuting pangaral." - source: The Bohol Chronicle