Friday, November 30, 2012

Philippine Weather Forecast December 2012

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Friday said that warm weather will continue to prevail in many parts the country until weekend despite a storm spotted hovering near the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).

Weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said that even if the storm (international name: Bopha) enters the country "either Sunday evening or Monday morning," it is still too far to affect any part of the country.

"Kung sakaling pumasok itong bagyo sa loob ng PAR ng Sunday evening, mararamdaman natin ito Lunes ng umaga but if it enters Monday morning would likely felt in the evening," he noted.

Once it enters Philippine territory, Aurelio said the storm will be locally named "Pablo" – the first in December and the 16th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year.

For the month of December, he said one to two tropical cyclones may still enter the country.

Aurelio asked the public to prepare as the storm might intensify into a typhoon and has a "high chance" to make landfall in eastern Visayas or eastern Mindanao.

Until Sunday, Aurelio said that, aside from possible light passing rains mostly in the afternoon or evening due to localized convection, it would still be generally sunny in most parts of Visayas and Luzon including Metro Manila.

However, he said that many areas in Mindanao will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with light to moderate rains due to the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ).

Meanwhile, the coldest morning in Metro Manila for this month was recorded Thursday with 19.7 degree Celsius at around 6 a.m. at the PAGASA's Science Garden in Quezon City.

Aurelio said that morning temperatures in the metropolis usually ranges from 21 degrees to 26 degrees Celsius.

Mendoza attributed the drop in temperature to the effects of the northeast monsoon or "hanging amihan," the cold winds associated with the Christmas season.

It starts blowing into the country from Siberia every mid-October and strengthens every mid-December.

The northeast monsoon usually peaks from early January to mid-February. The coldest morning recorded in Quezon City was on February 4, 1987 at 15 degrees Celsius.

In its advisory, PAGASA said the Davao Region and the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani will have cloudy skies with occasional light to moderate rainshowers or thunderstorms.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy with isolated brief rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

Moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast to east will prevail over Luzon and coming from the northeast over Eastern Visayas and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough.

First Bisaya Martyr San Pedro Calungsod

By Eddie O. Barrita

The 27-hectare site for the national thanksgiving mass for the first Visayan martyr San Pedro Calungsod at the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City on Friday afternoon is turning into a sea of multi-colored umbrellas.

Organizers expected some one million devotees from all over Cebu and other parts of the country to attend the national celebration for the country's second saint.

The mass site, however, can accommodate only a little over half a million people, with a maximum of two persons per square meter of available space.

Organizers said the other devotees may spill over to other parts of the 300-hectare SRP.

Devotees loaded in buses from both the city's southern and northern part started pouring in at the mass site early morning Friday.

Many devotees wanted to enter the mass site early dawn Friday but were refused entry because of strict security measures.

By noon, the mass site has turned into a sea of umbrellas as devotees tried to protect themselves from the scorching heat of the noonday sun in the treeless mass site.

Organizers earlier urged devotees to bring umbrellas to prepare either for rain or the sun.

But as correctly forecast by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Mactan, Cebu is enjoying fine weather Friday.

PAGASA Mactan Station Chief Oscar Tabada, in a special forecast for Cebu this week, said there is no tropical cyclone within the Philippine area of responsibility and there will be sunny skies during the whole day Friday with less chance of rain.

Among those expected at the event, which is spearheaded by the Archdiocese of Cebu, are high-ranking church officials, including Vatican City-based Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect for the Congregation of Saints and newly installed Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

President Benigno Aquino III has arrived in Cebu at mid-morning Friday.

He is expected to deliver a speech after the 5 p.m. national thanksgiving mass to be officiated by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

More devotees are joining two foot processions from the city's northern and southern districts and a fluvial procession at 1 p.m. that will bring the image of San Pedro Calungsod from the Ouano wharf in Mandaue City to the SRP for the 5 p.m. mass.

Calungsod worked as a catechist in Guam with Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores.

Elephantiasis or filariasis disease in Negros Occidental and Guimaras

By George M. dela Cruz

The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 6 is verifying suspected cases of elephantiasis or filariasis disease in the provinces of Negros Occidental and Guimaras.

At the Sugarland Hotel here Thursday, Ana Maria Luz Hibionada, DOH's regional coordinator for Lymphatic Filariasis Education Program, said the suspected cases are still to be validated through laboratory tests and inspection of the affected areas to confirm whether these provinces are "positive or negative of the disease."

"There are four of them being suspected as a case of elephantiasis or filariasis in Negros Occidental," Hibionada said.

The cases in Negros are in Bago City, Bacolod City (in Barangay Bata), and two other areas in southern Negros which are still under surveillance.

Except for the provinces of Negros Occidental and Guimaras, she said the rest of Panay areas are endemic to filariasis which causes "irreversible bodily deformity."

Filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms which can be transmitted through a night-biting female mosquito called, Aedes poecilus, which thrive in bananas and water lilies.

An infected person is characterized with enlarged elephant-like extremities, commonly manifested in the legs and may even affect the scrotum and breast of inflicted women. The parasite penetrates the lymph nodes of the armpit, groin, and legs, Hibionada said.

The disease has three stages -- asymptomatic (without or absence of symptoms) stage; acute stage; and chronic stage. She said filariasis is controllable and can be managed through drug administration by deworming affected persons once or twice a year. Filariasis can stay in a person's lymphatic system from 5 to 15 years, or even more, she said.

Up to now, no immunization can be given or vaccines available for filariasis, Hibionada said but only through massive drug administration, as preventive measure.

"As a public health problem, filariasis is a neglected tropical disease that the government through the DOH is targeting to eliminate," Hibionada said.

The person with filariasis may exhibit psychological, social and economic problems, said Hibionada, because of the enlargement or deformity that can be traumatizing

On a larger scope, the disease penetrated 83 countries affecting at least 120 million people as it poses a big threat to 1.1 billion persons worldwide who are at risk of infection, Hibionada said. In the Philippines, it is the second leading cause of permanent disability.

First found in 1907 in the Philippines, filariasis is endemic in 44 out of 80 provinces in the country wherein 76 percent of the endemic areas belong to 4th-6th class municipalities, she said.

A total of 645,232 Filipinos are infected already and 30 million are at risk, according to a study of the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health.

Specifically, among the clinical symptoms include increase in the size of head for children, inflammation of the scrotum, fever, infection of the lymph nodes, among others.

"We are roaming around the region for a continued massive information campaign in the control and prevention of filariasis in response to the call of the government at eliminating the disease in the Philippines by 2018," Hibionada said.

Office of the President Christmas Tree in Malacañang

Despite being the season for merry-making and cheer, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday the focus of Christmas time is the birth of Jesus Christ, brought into this world to save man from his sins.

In his speech after leading the ceremonial switching on of the Office of the President Christmas Tree in Malacañang, the President said the birth of Christ and the following visit of three kings to the Child King stood as constant reminder to him and to those in government of the importance of humility, faith and devotion.

The President said: "Sa likod po ng mga paghahanda natin sa darating na Kapaskuhan; sa pagsasabit man ng mga parol at makukulay na dekorasyon, o sa pagsisindi ng Christmas lights, batid po natin ang bukal ng ating pagdiriwang.

"Ito po ang pagsilang ni Hesukristo, hindi sa harap ng luho't karangyaan, kundi sa munting sabsaban.

"Nariyan din ang tatlong haring sinuyod ang mahabang paglalakbay, upang bigyang pugay ang pagdating ni Hesukristong tutubos sa ating mga kasalanan.

"Lagi't lagi po nitong ipinapaalala sa atin ang halaga ng pagpapakumbaba, at taimtim na pananampalataya."

The Holy Bible narrates the story on the birth of Jesus Christ who was visited by three kings: Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar.

The trio travelled far and long to bring their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, who was born to Joseph and Mary in a manger in Bethlehem.

The President said this story serves as an inspiration to those in government about good governance as it shows the importance of serving the people.

Aquino said: "Ito po ang diwang gumagabay at nagbibigay inspirasyon sa ating mabuting pamamahala. Narito ang ating gobyerno upang paglingkuran ang nangangailangan, at hindi para maghari-harian."

"Anuman pong hirap ng mga pagsubok ang ating pinagdaanan, nalampasan natin dahil sa pakikibalikat ng masisipag na kawani ng Office of the President," the President added, acknowledging the role employees of the OP play in the day-to-day running of the government.

"Kayo po ang frontliners sa pagtataguyod ng pagbabago, at nagbubunsod ng pag-asa at higit na pagkakataon para sa mas nakakarami. Hindi po ako magsasawang magpasalamat sa ipinapamalas ninyong sipag at sigasig," the President said.

He pointed out the symbolism attached to the ceremonial lighting of the gigantic Christmas Tree that stands 43 feet and is festooned with 2,500 white Christmas lanterns with individual incandescent bulbs within.

He said the Christmas Tree stands for the ability of every Filipino to become a source of light and, once this light is gathered as one, can become a source of good.

"Kaakibat po ng tradisyon natin ng pagsisindi sa ating Christmas lights, ang pagpapa-ningas ng isa pang simbolo ---ang paghahandog ng liwanag para sa ating kapwa at bansa. Tandaan po nating may kanya-kanya tayong tungkulin at kakayahang magtanglaw ng liwanag, hindi lang para sa sarili, kundi upang makatulong sa mas nangangailangan," the President said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III Arrives in Cebu for Liberal Party Candidates

President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived in Cebu at mid-morning Friday to meet with local Liberal Party (LP) leaders and attend the national thanksgiving mass for the country's second saint, San Pedro Calungsod.

Immediately after arrival, the President and his party went to a mall in Mandaue City where he held a closed-door meeting with LP leaders in Cebu after a photo session with some of the local candidates.

Lawyer Hilario Davide III, LP gubernatorial candidate for Cebu who attended the meeting, said the President assured them that Cebu will not be declared a "free zone" in the 2013 elections.

"We are happy with the President's statement," Davide said.

That means, he said, that President Aquino will actively campaign for local LP candidates in next year's elections.

President Aquino will also attend the 5 p.m. national thanksgiving mass for the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod at the South Road Properties in Cebu City.

National Christmas Tree of the Philippines

By Lilybeth G. Ison

President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday evening led the ceremonial switching-on of the National Christmas Tree held at the Kalayaan Grounds in Malacanang.

"Kaakibat po ng tradisyon natin ng pagsisindi sa ating Christmas lights, ang pagpapaningas ng isa pang simbolo -- ang paghahandog ng liwanag para sa ating kapwa at bansa," the President said in his speech.

"Tandaan po nating may kanya-kanya tayong tungkulin at kakayahang magtanglaw ng liwanag, hindi lang para sa sarili, kundi upang makatulong sa mas nangangailangan," he added.

President Aquino told the members of his Cabinet who attended the event and other government workers gathered that as public servants, they are there to give service to the Filipino people and to the country.

"Narito tayo para maglingkod, hindi para makasilaw at manlamang. Gaano man kaliit, basta tama ang ating ginagawa, ay magdudulot ng dambuhalang ambag sa ating pag-unlad," he stressed.

"Tingnan na lang po natin ang pambihirang liwanag na idinudulot ng sama-samang pagningas ng mga munting ilaw ng ating sinindihan. Tunay nga pong kapag sama-sama, kaya nating makabuo ng liwanag na tatanglaw sa kahit anong kadiliman," he added.

President Aquino urged everyone to continue to contribute in bringing the light of hope for the good of the country.

"Huwag po nating ipagdamot ang liwanag na maaari nating iambag para matanglawan ng pag-asa ang direksyong tinatahak ng ating bayan. Patuloy po sana nating isabuhay ang aral ng Maykapal at tumutok sa kapakanan ng isa't isa tungo sa katuparan ng ating mga mithiin," he said.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Latest Update on Aman Scam Investment Scandal

The Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday filed before the Dept. of Justice a criminal complaint for violation of Securities Regulation Code against the Aman Futures Group Phils., Inc. and seven of its officials.

Charged were Manuel Amalilio, Fernando Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Eduard Lim, William Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez.

The respondents were charged after an investigation of the SEC showed they did not have a license to operate in their investment contract.

The SEC received on Oct. 15, 2012 an endorsement letter from the Dept. of Trade and Industry about the request of Serafin Barreto to investigate the alleged operation of Aman Futures in Pagadian City of offering 30% to 60% interest in investment.

British American Tobacco Supports Sin Tax in Philippines

By Joann Santiago

British American Tobacco (BAT) continued to support moves to increase sin taxes in the Philippines but raised some issues on the Senate version of the bill, which it said does not provide a level playing field to market players.

BAT Philippines Corporate and Regulatory Affairs chief Robert Eugenio stressed they are not questioning the Senate's sin tax bill measure, approved last Nov 20.

The Senate's version provides for P40 billion additional revenues in the first year of implementation once the bill has been made into law.

Eugenio, however, said although the approved bill provides for higher tax rates it still follows the tiered system similar to the 1996 prices and the tax rates are based on how much the companies paid this year.

"Taken together those two provisions, in effect, they create a new annex, which is, the list of brands that are in 2012 and then all new brands since they have to be based on 1996 pricing levels," he said.

Based on these provisions, Eugenio said there will still be no level playing field because new entrants will still be taxed higher rates even if their retail price is lower than the higher priced brands.

"From the very beginning we have emphasized that that is our goal, that that should be one of the pillars of the sin tax reform bill, the level playing field. So we hope that the bicam will be able to clarify that," he said.

The Bicameral committee has scheduled to tackle the sin tax reform measure next week.

Under Senate Bill 3299 cigarettes packed by hand, which is taxed this year of less than P7.56 will need to pay P6 per pack effective May 1, 2013.

For those that are taxed this year between P7.56 but less than P12 they will be taxed P10 per pack while those that are paying P12 or more this year will pay P14 per pact next year.

The bill said brands that will join the market from March 1, 2013 to Feb 28, 2015 will be collected "an excise tax in accordance with the net retail price (excluding the excise tax and the value-added tax) per pack..."

The bill provides for a unitary rates by 2017and Eugenio said the almost four-year leeway until the tax becomes unitary provides "preferential treatments for existing brands."

Under the House version, tobacco products will be taxed based on two tiers - those that have net retail price of below P11.50 and those above P11.50.

""The beauty there is that for new brands, the net retail price threshold is P11.50. It is updated to current prices," Eugenio said noting that the House version has a "cleaner and clearer" rules.

BAT, which produces Lucky Strike that are currently sold at 7/11 stores, re-established its Philippine operations early this year and bids to expand once the sin tax issues has been resolved.

Story of Cancer-survivor Photographer Wendell Rupert Alinea

The country's sports patrons continue to help sports development programs including the travel expenses of a cancer-survivor, one of the photographers granted accreditation to cover Chapter IV of the storied Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rivalry on December 8 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photographer Wendell Rupert Alinea became probably the first cancer-survivor to cover a world championship match when Magda Media International, the outfit who handles media requirements of all fights held at the MGM Grand, granted him credentials to do the Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley bout last June.

This time, Alinea is out to captivate the images and human drama of the storied rivalry to finally determine who among the two boxing greats are more superior come fight night.

Alinea will contribute photographs for the People's Journal and People's Tonight, Manila Standard, Philippines News Agency (PNA) and He will work in tandem anew with his father, veteran sportswriter Eddie Alinea.

The young Alinea's trip to the United States was made possible with the assistance of Pacquiao himself, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) under chairperson Margarita Juico and businessman-sportsman Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Pangilinan, MVP to the sports and business worlds and owner of the Talk 'N Text and Meralco teams in the professional Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), and Pacquiao, also shared resources in sending Wendell to the US last June.

"Wendell, in surviving the dreaded leukemia, had shown extraordinary will to live, reason why I am helping him to serve as inspiration to others with the same predicament na sa tulong ng Maykapal at sa pamamagitan ng panalangin, may pagkakataon pa ring mabuhay," Pacquiao, who, actually, is virtually shouldering Alinea's treatment, said.

"Wendell showed proof that miracles, indeed, happen. His unstained belief in the Almighty carried him through the sufferings for six long years," said MVP, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and chair of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP). "I hope that the lesson in his determination to survive will drive others to do the same."

Chair Juico shared the same sentiment, saying, "In God, everything is possible and this our Creator showed through Wendell."

Wendell was pronounced by his physician, Dr. Francisco Lopez, cancer-free early this year but still has to undergo chemotherapy until January 2013 to ensure that his ailment won't relapse.

In January 2007, Wendell was diagnosed with the very rare Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia and had been in and out of the hospital, undergoing several cycles of chemotherapy.

Chinese ePassport Violates International Laws

The Philippine government will implement its new visa regulation sometime next week for Chinese nationals who will use passports displaying a map that includes an area in the West Philippine Sea, where Beijing is asserting ownership.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez on Thursday said all concerned agencies such as Philippine diplomatic missions and the Bureau of Immigration will "simultaneously" carry out the new policy aimed at denigrating China's latest attempt to bolster its territorial claim.

Hernandez said visa and immigration stamps will be placed on a separate sheet of document given to Chinese visitors entering the Philippines.

Manila's action reinforces its protest against what it calls China's excessive claim over almost the entire potentially oil-rich South China Sea including areas in the the West Philippine Sea.

"This action is being undertaken to avoid the Philippines being misconstrued as legitimizing the 9-dash line every time a Philippine visa is stamped on such Chinese e-passport," Hernandez said, referring to China's U-shaped nine-dotted line claim that covers most of the sea and overlaps with Manila's territories.

The Philippines move came after Vietnam implemented a similar policy on the new Chinese passports, which Manila called "unacceptable."

Chinese visitors need to apply for a visa to enter the Philippines.

Under the new scheme, Philippine visas will be stamped on a visa form to be provided by the DFA's embassies or consulates abroad to Chinese nationals, Hernandez explained.

Immigration officers at Philippine airports, on the other hand, will affix entry stamps on the same document and not on the new Chinese passports, Hernandez said.

The Philippines and China, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have long disputed ownership of the West Philippine Sea or also known as the South China Sea, a chain of islands, cays, reefs and atolls believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Last year, the Philippines and Vietnam separately accused Chinese vessels of intruding into their territories in and near the Spratlys off the West Philippine Sea and of disrupting their oil exploration activities. China claimed it has sovereignty in those areas on historical grounds.

Chinese and Philippine government ships also figured in a standoff starting in April at Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, a sprawling offshore area north of the Spratlys and off the country's northeastern province of Zambales that both countries claim.

US Dollar vs Peso Currency Exchange Rate

By Joann Santiago

The local bourse reversed its performance in the morning and capped this week with another record-high tracking counterparts overseas while the peso closed at the same level as Thursday.

The composite index registered another record-level at 5,640.45 points, up by 0.12 percent or 6.73 points from Thursday's 5,633.72 points, which is the previous record.

Traders said the improvement of the main index was traced to the reports quoting House Speaker John Boehner on a possible compromise that will prevent from "fiscal cliff" from materializing.

Also, reports said US President Barack Obama is hopeful that a deal on the world largest economy's fiscal situation will be addressed in the next four weeks.

On the other hand, the broader all shares index is down by 0.07 percent or 2.47 points lower at 3,639.42 points from Wednesday's 3,641.89 points.

Half of the sectoral indices namely the property, holding firms and services tracked the main index while the financials, industrial, and mining and oil ended the week on the week.

Value turn-over reached P11.02 billion after 3.74 billion shares changed hands.

Losers edged gainers at 103 to 65 while 39 stocks were unchanged.

Similarly, the peso closed at the same level as Thursday's at 41.90 against the dollar.

It started the day at 40.85, better than day-agos's 40.90.

It's opening level is the local unit's strongest trade for the day while weakest stood at 40.93 resulting to an average of 40.88.

Philippine Government Spending Drives Economic Growth

By Joan Santiago

Government spending, which is among the growth drivers of the domestic economy this year, continue to grow but the deficit did not balloon due to sustained growth in revenue collections.

Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) data shows that deficit last October reached P9.67 billion, lower than year-ago's P21.26 billion.

In the first 10 months this year, the budget gap was P115.74 billion, less than half of the full-year deficit ceiling of P279 billion, which accounts to 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Revenues last October alone amounted to P134.32 billion, boosted by most of the revenue-generating agencies.

In particular, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which collects about 70 percent of taxes, jumped 22 percent to P86.11 billion while that of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) rose 18 percent to P26.93 billion.

Also, collections of the BTr rose by 140 percent to P6.3 billion and the other offices contributed P15 billion.

Government spending amounted to P143.994 billion last October.

For the first 10 months this year, revenues amounted to P1.25 trillion, 12 percent higher than the P1.12 trillion same period in 2011.

Of the total, BIR's contribution rose 13 percent year-on-year to P858.57 billion while the BOC's went up by 11 percent to P240.6 billion.

BTr also contributed higher collection at P71.35 and the other offices shared in P82.75 billion.

Expending during the 10-month period totaled to P1.37 trillion, 15 percent higher year-on-year.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, in a statement said the government continues to record primary surplus, which transpires when you exclude interest payments in total expenditures, with last October's figure at P150.95 billion.

He said the "resilient" performance from both the revenue collection and spending "greatly reduces the risk of fiscal slippage by year-end, as it is well within the full year deficit program of P279.106 billion."

He disclosed that revenue effort as of the third quarter this year increased to 14.7 percent against year-ago's 14.5 percent.

"The Aquino administration's prudent fiscal management has maintained ample fiscal space to spend for inclusive growth, maintaining a deficit-to-GDP ratio at 1.4 percent, well within the 2.6 percent full-year program," he said.

"The 1Q-3Q national government tax effort also increased to 13.1 percent, against the previous year's 12.7 percent. This is driven by the 0.4 percent improvement in the Bureau of Internal Revenue's revenue-to-GDP ratio, now at 10.2 percent," he said.

Purisima said with the higher-than-expected 7.1 percent growth of the domestic economy in the third quarter this year, which is at the top in the ASEAN and the second in the region after China, and the 11.8 percent revenue growth "we are confident that we are reaping the dividends of President Aquino's good governance reforms."

He pointed out that expansion of the domestic economy is "significant" because it is higher than the trend GDP growth of 4.7 percent in the past ten years, was accomplished in a very difficult global economic environment, and happened despite a 2.2 percent decline in mining.

He, on the other hand, stressed that "while the current fiscal space continues to be an opportunity for the judicious use of public funds for projects of high and inclusive growth, the Finance Department continues to push for revenue-generating reforms that will allow for sustainable and resilient fiscal consolidation."

Among these measures is the proposed sin tax reform bill, which has been passed by the Congress and the Senate.

Last November 20, the Senate approved on third and final reading its version of the bill, which is targeted to raise additional P40 billion in revenues and provides incremental increase until the rate becomes unitary in 2017, which in turn was made to make it hard for the poor and the youth to access sin products.

Malaysian investors in the Philippines

Malaysian investors have been invited to tap the immense resources and business opportunities in Mindanao, especially in the area of agriculture, infrastructure and mining.

Philippines Ambassador to Malaysia J.Eduardo Malaya said at present most Malaysian companies are operating in Metro Manila in the services and infrastructure sectors.

Among the Malaysian companies are Resorts World, MTD Capital, Maybank and Berjaya Corporation.

"Mindanao has largely untapped resources. In fact, the area is even more fertile, and very suitable for agricultural activities," Malaya told reporters after opening the "Investors Networking Forum for Mindanao" here Thursday.

He said a lot of fast track land is available for oil palm, rubber and coffee plantations as well as marine culture, including seaweed production. 

Rules on Civil Procedure Case

The Supreme Court has ruled the Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for automatic sanction should a party fail to submit the required explanation for resorting to service by registered mail rather than personal service.

In a six-page decision written by Justice Roberto A. Abad, the SC's Third Division unanimously ruled that both the Regional Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan (Branch 37) and the Court of Appeals did not gravely abuse their discretion when both courts ruled against the striking out of the motion for judgment by default filed by private respondent Roberto and Arabela Arcinue against petitioner Natividad Lim for failure of the Arcinues to submit the required explanation.

The SC said Rule 13, Section 11 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure "does not provide for automatic sanction should a party fail to submit the required explanation. It merely provides for that possibility considering its use of the term 'may'."

"Moreover, the same does not altogether prohibit service by registered mail when such service, when adopted, ensures as in this case receipt by the adverse party," it added.

It noted that Lim's counsel in fact even admitted to receiving a copy of the Arcinues' motion 10 days before the scheduled hearing on the said motion.

The SC thus ordered the RTC to proceed with the hearing and adjudication of the case.

The National Power Corporation filed an expropriation case against petitioner Lim for its Coal-Fired Thermal Power Project.

Private respondents Arcinue spouses filed a motion for leave to admit their complaint-in-intervention, alleging that, they owned and were in possession of one of the lots subject of the expropriation.

The RTC granted the Arcinues' motion and required both NPC and Lim to answer the complaint-in-intervention within 10 days from receipt of its order.

Because NPC and Lim failed to file their respective answers, the Arcinues filed a motion for judgment by default.

Lim then sought to expunge the motion for lack of the requisite explanation why the Arcinues resorted to service by registered mail rather than personal service.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Department of Education (DepEd) Adopt-A-School Program

Department of Education (DepEd) Adopt-A-School Program awards the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) as one of its active partners from the private sector in promoting
quality education. (left to right) Francisco M. Varela, DepEd undersecretary for finance and administration; Anthony C. Dignadice, executive director of RAFI's Education Development
Unit; Amaya C. Aboitiz, RAFI's deputy director for operations,; and Rizalino D. Rivera, DepEd undersecretary for regional operations during the said recognition program last Oct. 24 at the
Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City.

Life and Philanthropic Works of Don Ramon Aboitiz

As Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) celebrates its 46th founding anniversary, its people give tribute to the life and philanthropic works of Don Ramon Aboitiz.

During the Nov. 17 episode of "Pagtuki", the official radio program of RAFI, a drama was made to give snippets on the life of Don Ramon leading to the establishment of his foundation.
Ramon Aboitiz was born on Nov. 16, 1887 in Ormoc, Leyte. He was the frontliner of the of the Aboitiz and Co. in Cebu, the company that his father Paulino started, and together with his
siblings, he further developed. The business today covers power generation, banking, and real estate, among others.

Ramon was born in the year when the country joined the world trade. This was also the year when there was an influx of business opportunities. At the age of nine, Ramon left Ormoc to study in Spain and London. When he returned to the country, he worked as a clerk in a merchant firm in the province. His father then made him run their company.

Through his perseverance and dedication, the company grew big and became a success. Ramon grew up helpful to people. With his business success, he held a promise to help
less fortunate people. Away from the public eyes, Don Ramon silently reached out to different groups in Cebu.

Though he was known as a businessman, his generosity to the less privileged made him closer to the hearts of the Cebuanos. He also befriended laborers at ship ports. Don Ramon married Dolores Sidebottom. They had two children, Eduardo and Maria Luisa.

His passion to help others led to the establishment of a foundation, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., or RAFI, in 1966. With the help of the Aboitiz family, the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco was able to enter the province and established schools for the youth. Don Ramon gave the Salesians a lot in Punta Prinsesa where the Don Bosco Technological Center is now located. Don Bosco is just one of the many institutions he helped. Dominica Chua, chief operating officer of RAFI, also shared her insights on Don Ramon based on the accounts she learned.

Monday, November 26, 2012

MMDA to Reduce Traffic in Manila

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is giving trucker groups until Wednesday to come up with a modified truck ban as a way to reduce traffic congestion this coming Yuletide season.

MMDA assistant general manager Emerson Carlos said the agency had already presented several proposals to the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to modify or expand the existing truck ban in the metropolis but the truckers organizations expressed opposition to the proposed measures.

Among the measures proposed by the MMDA is the adoption of a similar scheme implemented during the 45th Asian Development Bank Board of Governors Conference held in Manila last May.

The ADB "formula" implemented a total truck ban in the daytime hours, with trucks being allowed to ply the metropolis' roadways only at night.

Another is a complete ban on trucks along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) when the traditional "Simbang Gabi" starts on Dec. 16.

2013 Philippine Elections Preparation

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be saving millions of pesos once the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) grant their request to re-use the 60,000 ballot boxes.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said if the PET would allow them to re-use the ballot boxes, which are part of the election protest filed by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas against Vice-President Jejomar Binay in 2010, they would be saving a lot of money.

"That's 80,000 (ballot boxes) worth P200 million. What we proposed is that we will take out the contents of three ballot boxes and put in just one box. If we do that we would be able to free about three-fourths or about 60,000," he said.

Brillantes noted that if the request would be granted they would only have to bid out 20,000 ballot boxes for the May 2013 polls.

"We're going to save a lot of money because we only need to bid 20,000 new ballot boxes," he said.

The PET is expected to come out with a resolution on Tuesday regarding the poll body's request.

The poll body chief said that who ever wins in the bidding for the ballot boxes, they need to get the copy of the module from Smartmatic Corp., the manufacturer of the old ballot boxes, for their guide.

He also said that the winning bidder would have to pay a royalty fee to Smartmatic.

"But they (Smartmatic) can also participate in the bidding -- either way Smartmatic won't be short-changed because if they win in the bidding they won't need to pay the royalty fee. If they lose, they'll get a royalty fee from the winning bidder," he said.

Reproductive Health Bill Voting in Congress

By Lilybeth G. Ison

Malacanang Monday said the position taken by legislators or any candidate on the Reproductive Health Bill should be respected by everybody including the Catholic church.

"If the position taken by any politician, any candidate is based on his own appreciation of his conscience, I think that has to be respected by anybody including the Church," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told a press briefing.

He cited the statement by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, which stated that "every politician, every legislator has to examine his conscience and, at the end of the day, if his conscience points him to this or that vote, I think we have to respect that and not threaten that particular candidate with dire political consequences."

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life Vice Chairman and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles earlier said it is high time Filipinos used their religious beliefs in rejecting candidates who are not following the Church's teachings.

He said elective officials have long been snubbing the so-called "Catholic vote," which he believes is still a force to be reckoned with.

"Kaya kapag mayroong kandidato na hindi sumusunod sa utos ng Diyos, dapat tanggihan yung mga 'yun. At kailangan na magkaroon ngayon ng Catholic vote. Dapat ipakita natin ang pagiging tunay na Katoliko. Marami diyan ay mga pekeng Katoliko, yun ang naghahari sa atin," said Arguelles.

Abad, however, stressed that Congress is a legislative assembly and it succeeds when there is an interplay or competition of ideas.

"If you try to suppress contrary ideas, then you will not get the best policy out of a deliberative assembly like Congress. So I don't think that's fair to do because in a democracy, it's the competition in a marketplace of ideas that brings out the best," he noted.

Abad said every policymaker "should examine his conscience not threats, not rewards."

But ultimately, he said, "I think what is best for which this policy has been introduced which is really to address the very poor who have no means -- information as well as resources -- to be able to plan in a responsible way the size and number of his family."

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the proponents of the controversial RH Bill at the House Representatives, said that 71percent of Catholics favor the enactment of thr said measure into law.

Lagman said that even the Social Weather Station survey also revealed that among registered voters surveyed, "most will vote for pro-RH bill candidates," with 38 percent of Filipino voters choosing to vote for candidates who support the RH bill while only 6 percent said they will not vote for candidates supportive of the measure.

Pulse Asia also reported that 93 percent of Filipinos consider it important to have the ability to plan their families and 82 percent believe government should inform couples about all methods of family planning.

"This is consistently validated and documented in all nationwide surveys for many years now," he said.

Lagman said that "RH advocates should not fear a negative Catholic vote because the alleged backlash has no empirical basis."

Filipino-American Kevin Bryan Hills Denies Charges

Filipino-American Kevin Bryan Hills has vehemently denied owning P50-million worth of shabu which were allegedly seized from him by the operatives of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF) in Makati City on Nov. 20, 2012.

In his counter-affidavit, Hills said that the PNP-AIDSOTF mistook him as their target because their real target was a certain "Phil".

Hills said that no "test buy" was conducted between him and the PNP-AIDSOTF on Nov. 7, 2012 at 9 p.m.

According to Hills' counsel Atty. Raymond Palad, on Nov. 7, 2012 between 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Hills was in a restaurant in Baclaran, Paranaque City, together with his relatives.

Hills further argued that the Mitsubishi Pajero was registered with the National Power Corp. (Napocor) and that he did not know how it was parked at the 5th Floor parking lot of the Column Tower 2 in Makati City.

The said Pajero was lent by the Napocor to Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo in 2008, which was used by one of his staff with the name of Atty. Antonio Mariano Almeda.

Likewise, Prosecution Atty. Ana Doreen Devanadera, the one handling the case, conducted an occular inspection Monday on the Pajero, which was brought by the PNP-AIDSOTF to the DOJ.

During the preliminary investigation at the DOJ Monday, Palad said that his client had never used the Mitsubishi Pajero where the suspected shabu was confiscated.

The next hearing will be on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 wherein the PNP-AIDSOTF will submit their reply-affidavit.

Judge Benjamin Pozon Candidate for CTA Position

The judge who convicted an American soldier in the Subic rape case is included in the shortlist of nominees for the post of Associate Justice of the Court of Tax Appeals.

Makati City Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon earned seven votes while candidates Lovell Bautista and Roman Del Rosario got eight votes each.

The vacancy at the CTA is due to the compulsory retirement of CTA Presiding Justice Ernesto Acosta, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Dec. 21, 2012.

On Dec. 4, 2006, Pozon convicted Lance Corporal Daniel Smith for raping a Filipina.

In his ruling, Pozon said the victim was "severely intoxicated that night and was deprived of reason to consent to sex and incapable of sensing or fighting off danger."

The JBC also intended to fill up the vacancy at the Court of Appeals.

The CA narrowed down its short list of nominees, including Edward Contreras with seven votes, Ruben Reynaldo Roxas and Joselito Vibandor with six votes each while Makati City RTC Judge Sela Alaras, Jonel Sebastian Mercado and Edgar Santos garnered five votes each.

The JBC has submitted the names to President Benigno S. Aquino III who has 90 days within which to make the necessary appointment.

Philippine Government 2013 National Budget

By Jelly Musico

The Senate Monday approved at the plenary the proposed P1.312-billion budget of the Presidential Communication Operations Office for 2013 even as Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada urged the government to address concerns of over 200 retrenched employees of RPN Channel 9.

The PCOO's budget is 25 percent higher as compared to the current P1.047-billion appropriation with the Bureau of Broadcast Services to get biggest share amounting to P336.6 million followed by Philippine Information Agency (PIA) with P274.3 million budget.

The Presidential Broadcast Staff will get the third highest budget amounting to P202.2 million followed by PCOO proper with P172.1 million, National Printing Office with P165.79 million, News and Information Bureau which has PNA as one attached office with P115 million and Bureau of Communication Services with P45.9 million.

Assisted by PCOO Secretary Herminio Coloma, Senate committee on finance chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon said the government's three channels including PTV-4 have not been getting subsidy from the government.

"They have not been getting (a) single cent of subsidy from the government. They depend on their (respective) revenues," Drilon answered Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Drilon said Senators Loren Legarda and Gregorio Honasan have filed bills allotting P5 billion 'makeover' of the PTV 4.

He said the IBC Channel 13 relies heavily on the revenues from block timer AKTV of Manny V. Pangilinan while RPN Channel 9 is 34 percent owned by Solar, 32 percent by Benedicto Group, 20 percent by government and 16 percent by stockholders.

"Channel 13 is expected to generate about P50 million this year. PTV 4 is not earning money while Channel 9 is incurring losses," Drilon revealed.

Drilon said that based on the 2011 financial statement, RPN 9 suffered financial losses of more than P120 million "and therefore, incurring a capital deficiency of more than P2 billion."

With this, Estrada urged the government to address the concerns of 213 retrenched employees and workers of RPN 9 who held rally outside the Senate compound in Pasay City.

"I'm really concerned about the plight of the retrenched workers of RPN 9. I hope the governent can do something with regards to the balance of what they should have accepted that was put in the CBA. That's all Mr. President. I do not have any objection with regard to the budget of PCOO," Estrada said.

Drilon admitted that the separation benefits of the retrenched RPN 9 employees remain not fully paid due to 'financial constraint'.

Human Rights Cases in the Philippines Probed

President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the creation of special teams to investigate human rights abuses by state and non-state forces and ensure a focused probe and speedy resolution of all unsolved and new cases, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said Monday.

Ochoa said the special teams would form part of the inter-agency committee and will exclusively handle cases of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of human rights violations.

"This presidential directive reinforces the Aquino administration's resolve to uphold and protect the rights of the people," Ochoa said.

"We believe that the creation of this high-level committee will be a more effective mechanism in handling and monitoring cases of human rights violations," Ochoa explained.

According to Ochoa, AO 35 takes effect immediately and replaces AO No. 211 issued in 2007 that created the Task Force Against Political Violence.

The presidential directive directs the task force to turn over all documents, data, reports, supplies, resources and its remaining budget to the IAC.

"The President envisions the administrative order to harmonize and standardize the government's policies and action plan for resolving human rights abuses. This way we can have a focused investigation and speedy resolution of all the cases," Ochoa added.

One of the first tasks of the IAC is to organize special teams and a technical working group to carry out the immediate inventory of all alleged human rights violations committed by state and non-state forces; monitor the development of cases which are pending in courts or under investigation, and conduct an investigation into unsolved and new cases, as well as prosecute the perpetrators.

Under AO 35, the secretary of the Department of Justice serves as chairperson of the IAC, which members include the head of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, the secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Local Government and the National Defense, the presidential advisers of the Peace Process and Political Affairs, chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National police chief and the National Bureau of Investigation director.

The chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and the Ombudsman sit as observers and resource persons in the IAC.

The IAC is required to submit to the President every six months a progress report, a detailed inventory of pending human rights abuse cases, and accomplishment and recommendations, among others.

The President has asked all other government agencies and local government units to give their full support and cooperation to the IAC to make sure that the AO 35's objectives and the committee's mandate are achieved.

Modernization of Armed Forces of the Philippines

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez declined to issue any statement regarding Chinese carrier Liaoning's first ever successful flight deck operations but stressed that the country's modernization program is still on go.

"We wish to refrain from answering to avoid any misinterpretation of statements. As for us, we continue to work double time to achieve the targets in our modernization efforts," he said.

In the pipeline for the Armed Forces of the Philippines' modernization program are two "Maestrale" class missile-firing frigates, two anti-submarine helicopters, 12 South Korean fighter aircraft, to name a few.

The Chinese-made J-15 fighter successfully landed on their first ever aircraft carrier during a recent fleet exercise.

The Liaoning went into service in September in a symbolic milestone for China's growing military muscle.

The J-15 is a Chinese designed multi-purpose carrier-borne fighter jet based on Russia's Sukhoi 33, equipped with high-powered engines and capable of carrying precision-guided bombs and air-to-air missiles.

China bought the stripped-down 300-meter aircraft carrier from Ukraine nearly 10 years ago and refurbished it at the north-eastern port of Dalian.

Rizal Park Guards Shoots Park Attendant

A security guard detailed at the Rizal Park accidentally shot and wounded a park attendant inside the National Parks Development Committee office on Sunday.

NPDC spokesman Kenneth Montegrande, in a statement Monday, said that the shooting transpired as they were cleaning up Rizal Park for the coming Christmas holidays.

He identified the security guard as Roderick Lustina, an employee of Variance Security Agency.

The victim, identified as park attendant Danilo Lasala, was wounded in the right shoulder and was operated on at the Philippine General Hospital Sunday night, he said.

Montegrande said Lasala's family plans to pursue charges against Lustina for what happened.

He said Lustina was turned over to the Manila Police District Station 5.

Philippine Army Arrests Lawless Group in Agusan del Norte

Troopers from the 4th Infantry Division's 7th Special Forces Company have arrested six members of a lawless group during operations in Purok 5, San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan Del Norte Saturday morning.

Belated reports from Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV, the unit's spokesperson, said that they were assisted in this endeavor by the Santiago municipal police.

Osias identified the suspects as Kevin Badajos, Dennis Badajos, Rolly Samora, William Samora, Jerry Pitao, and Remark Alburo, all of legal ages and are residents of Poblacion 1, Santiago, Agusan Del Norte.

The troops confiscated from the group two homemade shotguns with six live ammunition, one caliber .357 revolver, a .38 caliber revolver, a .45 caliber handgun, and one Mk-2 fragmentation grenade. They were suspected to be members of a criminal group operating in the eastern part of Agusan Del Norte.

Osias said that the six were immediately turned over and detained at Santiago Municipal Police Station for proper disposition.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Can a Jobless Filipino Become an SSS Member?

Coverage of Self-Employed Members of Philippine SSS

A self-employed person, regardless of trade, business or occupation, with an income of at least P1,000 a month and not over 60 years old, should register with the SSS. Included, but not limited to are the following self-employed persons.

a. self-employed professionals;
b. business partners, single proprietors and board directors;
c. actors, actresses, directors, scriptwriters and news reporters who are not under an employer-employee relationship;
d. professional athletes, coaches, trainers and jockeys;
e. farmers and fisherfolks; and
f. workers in the informal sector such as cigarette vendors, watch-your-car boys, hospitality girls, among others.

Explanation: So, even if you don't have a job but you have an income somewhere else and you can pay the monthly premium of SSS contribution, you can sign up and become a member of SSS under the category of "self-employed". What are you waiting for? Prepare for your future. Apply and get your SSS membership in the nearest SSS office in your place.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Philippines To Work With Pres Barack Obama

By Michaela Del Callar

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said the Philippines looks forward to continue working with the administration of President Obama, who was re-elected US President Tuesday night (Wednesday in Manila), in strengthening relations between Manila and Washington.

Obama has won the election for second term as president, defeating Republican contender Mitt Romney, in one of the tightest presidential races in US history.

"The Philippines warmly welcomes the successful holding of the recent elections in the United States. The Philippines and the United States share common and deep democratic values, particularly the right of the people to freely choose their leaders,"

"We look forward to continue working with the administration of President Obama in strengthening relations between our countries and in the promotion of peace and progress in our region and the world," the DFA said in a statement.

The department also lauded the high voter turnout of Filipino-Americans and the increasingly active role they play in helping decide the future of the United States.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, for his part, congratulated Obama, noting he is confident that the good ties between Manila and Washington will continue.

"I wish to congratulate President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on their re-election. I am fully confident that the warm and productive relations between the Philippines and the United states will continue, and matters of mutual interest will be pursued under the same atmosphere of trust and friendship that has characterized our relations for decades," Binay said.

US Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas Jr. remarked in his Twitter account that Tuesday's elections in America demonstrated that "U.S. Democracy is the winner today!"