Thursday, January 31, 2013

Justice for Valeriano Agbulos

A sales manager was gunned down by the on-duty security guard detailed in a warehouse of a distributor company in Bacolod City early Tuesday afternoon.

The slain victim 52-year-old Valeriano Agbulos, a sales manager of the Red Maple, a distributor firm based in Metro Manila with a branch in Bacolod City, died on the spot.

In an initial investigation made by Police Station 4 of the Bacolod City Police Office said on Wednesday that the victim went to the warehouse of the Universal Harvester Inc. located at the Bredco Port in Bacolod City for collection chore. Incidentally, the employes were on their lunch break when he arrived.

While employees were having their lunch, they were surprised to hear the lone gun fire echoed. When they came out to investigate, they were surprised to see the bloodied victim.

They also saw the detailed warehouse security guard Mart Barrientos still holding his 9mm caliber service pistol as he stood in front of the victim .

Meanwhile, responding policemen has recovered an empty shell of a 9mm caliber pistol in the crime scene without the suspect who was reported to have escaped in haste.

Philippine absentee voting bill

The Senate has unanimously ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the absentee voting bill allowing members of the media and government officials and employees on duty to vote in their places of assignment during elections.

Submitted by Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III, the bicameral conference committee report on the reconciled version of Senate Bill 1198 and House Bill 4241 was approved without opposition on last Tuesday night.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, lauded his colleagues for ratifying the proposed measure which the Senate approved on third and final reading last December 12.

The bill would require the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow the members of media and media practitioners the right to vote even away from the places of their registration.

According to the bill, the absentee voters shall vote one week before election day.

The proposed measure, however, only covered the national positions such as president, vice president, senators, and party-list representatives.

Aside from media, the government officials and employees including police and military members who will be on duty during elections will be allowed also to vote away from the places of their registration.

Investment in Zamboanga

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has announced that the industry sectors have registered a total of P5.171 billion in incremental investments last year here in Zamboanga Peninsula.

Registering the biggest increment at 46 percent representing P2.38 billion of the total is the processed fish sector, according to DTI Zamboanga Peninsula Director Nazrullah Manzur.

"This is a result of the expansion of existing factories and the opening of new canneries, particularly in Zamboanga City," Manzur said.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) of which DTI is among the member-agencies has identified the processed fish sector as one of the priority industries for intensified development and promotion because of the region's inherent comparative advantage, Manzur said.

He said the second biggest contributor is the construction and construction materials (C/CM) sector which contributed 25 percent of the total investment take.

"Although not among the 12 industries prioritized for promotion, this sizeable investment in the C/CM sector is certainly a welcome development. This is a manifestation of the renewed confidence in real estate development in the region, mirroring the construction boom in Manila, Cebu and Davao, albeit at a much lesser pace," he said.

The other industry sectors which contributed to the total new investments are rubber, processed food, tourism, coconut, seaweeds, GDH (gifts, decors and housewares), and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), he said.

He said the city of Zamboanga continues to lead in investments generation, capturing more than half of the total at P3.317 billion, followed by Zamboanga del Norte at P882.38 million, Zamboanga del Sur at P751.652 million, Zamboanga Sibugay at P208.060 million and Isabela City at P12.42 million.

Cordillera-wide Strengthening of the Local Health System for Effective and Efficient Delivery of Maternal and Child Health Services

Japanese Embassy Minister for Economic Affairs Akio Isomata will lead the Equipment Handover Ceremony of the technical cooperation project, "Cordillera-wide Strengthening of the Local Health System for Effective and Efficient Delivery of Maternal and Child Health Services," in Luna municipality, Apayao province on Jan. 24.

This is Japan's steadfast support towards strengthening the health system as well as maternal and child health in Apayao.

Minister Isomata will be joined by Representative Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Department of Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, Apayao Governor Elias C. Bulut, Jr., Luna Mayor Betty C. Verzola and CHD-CAR Regional Director Valeriano Lopez.

The project aims to improve the health status of the people in the Cordillera Administrative Region, particularly of women and children. Another important component of the project is the conduct of Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) training for doctors and midwives in the Cordillera Administrative Region. These BEmONC trainings are expected to promote cooperation between the health institutions in Apayao.

Minister Isomata will officially hand over the equipment for birthing services such as delivery tables, Fetal Doppler and weighing scales for infants, disinfecting kit for medical tools, among others to the rural health units (RHUs) and hospitals in Apayao province. Japan's contribution to these equipments amounts to P4,037,050.

Together with local officials, Minister Isomata will also visit the beneficiaries of the equipment including the Sta. Marcela RHU, barangay health stations of Consuelo and Marcela as well as the Sta. Marcela Medicare and Community Hospital. These equipment aims to equip the BEmONC-trained health workers with the essential skills to deliver extensive and efficient maternal and newborn health services effectively.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, Japan has provided since 2006 a five-year technical assistance to strengthen the local health system in Benguet Province as well as a four-year project on maternal and child health (MCH) in Ifugao.

Philippine Contractor’s Accreditation Board (PCAB)

By Gloria H. Grejalde
Easing restrictions on foreign investors, the Philippine Contractor's Accreditation Board (PCAB), an implementing Board of the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP), has allowed foreign contractors a 100 percent foreign equity to undertake projects as among its proposed amendment to the Contractor's License Law.

The quadruple "A" or "AAAA" category which requires investment of at least P1 billion and allows foreign contractors to come in with 100 percent foreign equity was introduced. However, these qualified foreign contractors may only undertake projects of at least P10 billion and above.

During its public hearing and consultation held at the PTTC Training Center in Roxas Boulevard on Wednesday, the PCAB also presented the proposed amendments to the Implementing Rules & Regulations (IRR) of the Contractor's License Law (Republic Act 4566) which, include among others, the provision of 60-40 percent Filipino-Foreign Equity Requirements for the issuance of regular contractor's license to implement private contracts.

The proposed amendments on the 60-40 percent Filipino-foreign equity requirements were as follow:

1. The 60 percent-40 percent Filipino-foreign equity participation shall be in terms of peso value of the total contribution based on shares subscribed, whether common or preferred, voting or non-voting and based on the total paid-up or paid-in capital;

2. All shares held by Filipinos within the required ratio of at least 60 percent shall not be assigned or encumbered in favor of foreigners and should any of the shareholders be a juridical person, the 60 percent-40 percent requirement on the corporation shall also be applied;

3. Of firms with 60 percent-40 percent Filipino-foreign equity participation, only those who qualify for at least Category "A" may be granted a regular license. The regular license for Categories "B", "C", "D" and Trade shall be limited to Filipino citizens or juridical persons with a hundred (100 percent) Filipino equity;

4. Along with the 60 percent-40 percent Filipino-foreign participation is the exercise of equivalent management control in the Board of Directors and to include stockholder's voting rights and appointment of a Filipino Authorized Managing Officer;

In instances where the existing AMO is a foreigner, the corporation is given grace period until 30 June 2014 to replace the foreigner with a Filipino Authorized Managing Officer. In exceptional cases as may be determined by the Board, new applicants may be allowed to nominate a foreign Authorized Managing Officer for a maximum of two (2) years from the grant of the license, after which a Filipino Authorized Managing Officer shall be appointed." (PCAB Board Resolution No. 65, Series of 2011, as approved in a Special Board Meeting on November 5, 2012 under CIAP Board Resolution No. 08 Series of 2012).

Stock of Gaming firm Leisure Resorts World

Gaming firm Leisure Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) is eyeing to increase its authorized capital stock to P5 billion from P1.6 billion to expand its business.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), the firm said it is looking to raise P2.5 billion common shares and P2.5 billion preferred stocks, both with a par value of P1 a share.

It said the preferred shares may be issued in tranches or series and shall be non-voting, non-participating entitled to preferential and cumulative dividends of up to 12 percent per year.

A maximum of 2.5 billion of the Company's preferred shares equivalent to 125 million common shares shall be listed on the Exchange, it added.

"Proceeds of the preferred shares offer will be used to finance the acquisition of additional bingo sites; Belle Grande Integrated Resort and Casino project; Techzone project; and Midas Hotel project," said LRWC.

The listed company also announced that it will offer P1.75 billion perpetual preferred shares at a dividend rate of 8.5 percent through private placement or issuance.

Philippine complaint against China

By Michaela del Callar
MANILA, Jan. 23 (PNA) -- The Philippine complaint against China before a U.N. arbitration body is a comprehensive collection of Manila protests against Chinese expansionist moves in the West Philippine Sea in the last 17 years.

These include a demand for Beijing to end occupation and activities on eight reefs and shoal like Mischief Reef, seized in 1995.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario announced Tuesday the Dept. of Foreign Affairs summoned Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing to hand a note informing the Chinese government that the Philippines was taking their long unresolved territorial disputes before a U.N. arbitration body.

The bold move was taken after years long diplomatic and other efforts to resolve the territorial disputes have gone nowhere, he said.

It was the strongest step taken by President Benigno S. Aquino III's administration against perceived Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, a step that fueled fears of a backlash from China, an Asian economic giant and a major global power.

The Philippine government said it hoped the legal action "will have no adverse effects on our trade with China."

In the diplomatic note handed by Foreign Assistant Secretary Teresa Lazaro to Ma at the DFA Tuesday, the Philippine government, thru Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, sought an end to Chinese occupation and activities at Mischief reef, McKennan Reef, Gaven Reef, Subi Reef, Scarborough Shoal, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Fiery Reef Cross Reef.

"China's occupation of and construction activities on them violate the sovereign rights of the Philippines," the note said.

These features, the DFA said are either part of the country's continental shelf or exclusive economic zone as mandated by the UN Convention on the Law of Sea, of which China, the Philippines and 162 other nations are signatories.

UNCLOS gives maritime nations the right to manage, explore and exploit features in areas within a 200-nautical mile limit from its coast.

Mosquito-borne chikungunya disease

Health authorities in Sarangani province have declared the recent occurrence of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease in two of its municipalities as under control even as it continues to monitor other possible cases in several communities in the area.

Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Sarangani assistant provincial health officer, said Wednesday they have not monitored new cases of the viral disease in parts of Kiamba town where it was initially reported in December.

At least 12 of the initial 39 suspected chikungunya cases in the area turned out positive based on blood analysis made by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

The provincial epidemiology and surveillance unit said the confirmed chikungunya cases came from communities situated within the boundaries of Kiamba and Maitum towns.

"We have so far controlled it in the sense that no new cases have emerged recently in areas where it was first monitored," Alejandro said.

But the health official said they are continuously monitoring several communities in the two municipalities due to other possible cases of the disease.

He specifically noted communities in Barangay Tablao in Kiamba, specifically those situated near the Pangi River.

The Sarangani health office sent to the RITM additional blood samples of residents from the area who had exhibited suspected symptoms of chikungunya, he said.

A fact sheet released by the World Health Organization (WHO) described chikungunya as a viral disease that is spread mainly by Aedes mosquitoes, which are known carriers of the deadly dengue virus.