Saturday, May 29, 2010

Philippine Politics Still Belongs to Lakas Party?

Despite its election setbacks, the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD remains the dominant party in Philippine politics and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who recently re-assumed party leadership, hopes to further improve the party's position in the future. 

In a news conference in MalacaƱang, Presidential Spokesman Ricardo Saludo said while few deserted the party during the campaign period, Lakas-Kampi-CMD still has the most number of members in the House of Representatives which, he said, gives the party the status of being a major force in legislation.

"It (Lakas) continues to be dominant. It is the largest party in the Lower House. We still have governors and mayors all over the country," Saludo said, counting about 109 Lakas members who won seats in the House of Representatives during the May 10 polls.

He said that as party head, President Arroyo wants to see the party maintain its political dominance and has vowed to focus on rebuilding the party.

Filipino Economy to Grow

The Goldman Sachs sees remittance and IT service exports to continue powering the Philippine economy this year. 

In a report, dated May 27, 2010, the investment banking and securities firm said the recovery of the domestic economy "is firmly underway" as shown by the higher-than- expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 7.3 percent in the first quarter of this year, as reported by the National Statistical and Coordination Board (NSCB) Thursday.

The domestic economy grew by 0.5 percent in January to March of last year.

The government's 2010 first quarter growth target is between a range of 2.9-3.9 percent while the market expects it to grow by 4.4 percent.

Domestic demand jumped 10 percent year-on-year compared to the 5.9 percent in the last quarter of 2009, due to the increases both in the private and government consumption.

"Robust overseas remittances are likely to result in further upticks in private consumption over the next few quarters," Goldman Sachs said.

Remittances grew seven percent year-on-year in the first three months this year as demand for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) continue to be high along with the global economic recovery.

Relatively, government consumption was strong due to relief and rehabilitation disbursements as a result of the typhoons that ravaged most of the Luzon area in the second half of last year.

"The 2010 first quarter GDP print confirms the recovery process is firmly underway, and we expect it to continue to get support from the two engines of flows – stable remittances and growing IT service exports," it said.

The investment firm projects a 4.2 percent growth for the Philippines this year, higher than the 1.1 percent last year, the consensus forecast of 3.9 percent, and the 2.6-3.6 percent target of the government.

Battle of Political Parties in House of Speaker Election

It's a battle between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who won as representative of Pampanga under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party and Liberal Party (LP) Quezon City Mayor Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, who won as representative of Quezon City, for the Speakership in the House of Representative for the 15th Congress. 

Lakas-Kampi-CMD political adviser Prospero "Butch" Pichay, in a radio interview, said that majority of members want President Arroyo to run as House Speaker.

"We have also the process to field only one candidate for the Speakership. As of now, we still have the number to win the Speaker. Everybody is clamoring that President Arroyo should run as Speaker of the House," he said.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte earlier said that in the fight for Speakership, a candidate should get at least 170 votes to have stability on the leadership of the House of Representatives.

"Dalawa ang lumalabas na pangalan -- si Sonny Belmonte at Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and I think they are beginning to gather potential supporters," he said.

Quezon Rep. Erin Tanada said the LP has only Sonny Belmonte to run for Speakership of the Lower House.

"Rep. Belmonte has the advantage for having been a former Speaker of the House," he said.

As of now, Tanada said the LP has 40-50 congressmen. "We have to have alliance with other parties to win the Speakership."

For his part, Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. said that a Speaker always has the blessing of the President-elect.

"Si Sonny Belmonte ang napipintong makakatuwang ni Noynoy (who is leading in this year's presidential race) to take care of the legislative agenda of this incoming President so I'm pretty sure na eventually Belmonte will be the next Speaker," he said.

Political Parties Don't Complaing of Cheating

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) here has not received even a single complaint of poll cheating during the conduct of the May 10 polls. 

However, the Comelec is investigating the use of transparencies even if they have yet to receive a formal complaint.

The massive use of transparencies was observed to be massive in Makato town.

The transparencies, which are of the same size as ballots, reportedly were used by voters as guides despite impressions that they were used as a form of vote buying.

The voter could just attach the transparencies to the ballot and manually shade the oval nearer the name of the candidate that they have voted for. The shaded portion will also be reflected in the transparencies.

"As to its legality I have to ask the opinion of the regional attorney.

"It might still be considered a case to case basis where the used of transparencies if used by an illiterate possibly legal as an aid," Comelec provincial supervisor, Atty. Ian Lee Ananoria Ananoria said.

Transparencies were allegedly distributed by a local political party here to their supporters.

Congressman Manny Pacquiao

World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao officially won the "biggest fight of his life" Thursday night, adding an eighth title that won't be at stake until the next mandatory fight after three years. 

Sarangani's Provincial Board of Canvassers (BOC) formally accorded Pacquiao the title congressman-elect at past 11:40 p.m. here Thursday after scoring a "landslide" win last May 10 in the highly-anticipated fight for the province's lone congressional seat.

Based on the final and official tally released by the BOC, the boxing champion garnered a record 120,052 votes to finish off the congressional hopes of his lone rival, businessman Roy Chiongbian, who only mustered 60,899 votes.

Pacquiao ran under his own political party People's Champ Movement (PCM) and losing presidential bet Manny Villar's Nacionalista Party (NP) while Chiongbian bannered administration coalition Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization-Lakas-Kampi-CMD (Sarro-Lakas).

"I'm very happy with this win because it's from one of the biggest fights of my life. I thank God and all the people of Sarangani for supporting me all the way," he told reporters following his proclamation at the provincial capitol's Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall.

The BOC, which was presided by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Region 12 Director Michael Abas, proceeded with the proclamation of the winning provincial candidates after completing the provincial canvassing at around 10 p.m. Thursday.

Abas said the delay was caused by the faulty configuration of the accompanying compact flash (CF) or memory cards of several precinct count optical scan of PCOS machines that were deployed in the vote-rich municipalities of Glan, Kiamba and Malungon.

He said election automation firm Smartmatic-TIM's main office in Manila was only able to deliver the CF card replacements Thursday morning.

Manny Pacquiao Has a Basketball Team

At least nine teams will vie for supremacy in the first ever joint venture of the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and Liga Pilipinas dubbed as Tournament of the Philippines which fires off on June 2 in Manila. 

Five teams from Liga and four from the PBL will make up the initial foray although officials of both leagues are still awaiting the confirmation of two other Liga teams in Taguig and Pampanga.

Meantime, Fil-American Clifford Hodge was selected as the top overall pick of the Pacman GenSan Warriors during the recent draft at the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) office in Pasig City.

Hodge is listed as a 22-year old, 6-foot-5 cager from Hawaii who is born to an American father and a Filipina mother who hails from Sulu.

League officials described Hodge as a versatile and athletic player who can shoot from the outside.

Aside from the Warriors of congressman-elect Manny Pacquiao, other teams joining are Cebu, Misamis Oriental, Laguna and Mandaue from Liga, Magnolia, Pharex, Cobra and Agrinurture, Inc. from PBL.

Excelroof, winner of the PBL tournament last March, begged off from competing this time since most of its marquee players will be playing in the coming NCAA season starting next month.

Two other PBL teams -–Toyota Otis and Hapee Toothpaste– also won't see action but are likely to compete in the next conference probably in October.

Manny Pacquiao at Philippine Independence Day

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will lead the 112th anniversary celebration of Philippine Independence Day on June 12 at Rizal Park. 

National Historical Institute executive director Ludovico Badoy said in a media briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, President Arroyo will lead the flag raising ceremony in Rizal Park in the morning of June 12.

According to Director Badoy, there will be a simultaneous flag raising all over the country in the morning of June 12.

Badoy added, after the flag raising ceremony, Mrs. Arroyo will also lead the wreath laying to the monument of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

"Of course President Arroyo will also have her Vin d' Honneur in Malacanang at 12 noon on June 12 wherein the members of the diplomatic community, together with the government officials and legislators will attend," the NHI director also told Malacanang reporters.

He added, in the afternoon (4 p.m.) of June 12, Mrs. Arroyo will also watch the civic military parade and the float parade at the Quirino grandstand.

Badoy also stressed that the President will have her speech in the afternoon at the Quirino grandstand right after the civic-military and float parade.

The NHI executive director said, the President is expected to deliver her last report to the nation particularly the achievement of her administration for the past 9 years in office.

"To me, it is extra special because she will be rendering her last report to the nation. I feel the President will have to take advantage of the Independence Day celebration to deliver her speech like a State of the Nation Address (SONA)," Badoy claimed.

He also pointed out that the theme of the 112th Independence Day celebration this year is "Kalayaan, Tagumpay ng Bayan".

Badoy also added that the float parade in this year's celebration will feature the modern day Filipino heroes like Efren Penaflorida who was named CNN Hero of the Year and pound for pound boxing icon Manny Pacquiao who is now a congressman-elect of Saranggani province and other modern day Filipino heroes.