Sunday, February 3, 2013

Business establishments to install closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs)

Police station commanders were monitoring the compliance of the business establishments to install closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), city councilor Ian Mark Nacaya said Saturday.

Nacaya said more than 400 establishments in Cagayan de Oro City have not installed CCTVs in their premises.

"The management of these companies executed an affidavit of undertaking promising to install CCTVs in their premises pending approval of their mother companies in Manila," Nacaya said.

He said that compliance to the CCTV ordinance is one of the requirements for renewal of business permits for establishments with a capitalization of P600,000 and above.

Violators of the CCTV ordinance would face sanctions from suspension of business operations to fines and closure of the establishment, Nacaya said.

"Last year, grenade planted by an unknown suspect at the front door of Golden Financial in Lapasan exploded and wounded nine people when personnel reporting for work in the morning opened the door," Nacaya said.

Police investigators failed to get the identities of the suspects since there was no CCTV installed in the premises, Nacaya said.

He said the city government ordered the closure of the financial firm.

Potential areas of investments in the Philippines

President Benigno S. Aquino III invited European business leaders including other business executives from overseas attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting here to explore potential areas of investments in the Philippines.

The President cited some of the reforms initiated by the government to achieve inclusive growth.

President Aquino issued the invitation in his remarks before the roundtable with Global Business Executives at the sidelines of his participation to the WEF Annual Meeting here in Davos.

"These are truly exciting times for our country. We are realizing the long-untapped potential of our country, and we are here to invite you to join us, he said.

The President cited the three priority sectors for investing in the country, namely, tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure.

In the agriculture sector, the President said the Philippines is on its way to becoming an rice exporter.

"Since I came into office, our government has been working towards rice self-sufficiency by going back to the basics and helping our farmers through improved irrigation systems and a genuine certified seeds program," the President said.

"Rice production has been increasing, and through these methods, we are on our way towards our next goal: becoming an exporter of rice," he added.

On the country's revitalized coconut industry, President Aquino said that in 2011, the Philippines has exported more than 16.7 million liters of coco water, up from the 483,862 liters of coco water in 2009.

He noted that that the coco coir fiber, transformed into geotextile materials, has among others, been found effective in erosion control.

He added that the DPWH is already using this technology in their projects.

On tourism, President Aquino mentioned the Department of Tourism's "It's More Fun in the Philippines" slogan because Filipinos have always been "proud of the beauty of our country, and of the hospitality of our people," he said.

"To show them off, and to attract even more tourists to our shores, our Department of Tourism has embarked on a campaign to show the world that "It's More Fun in the Philippines," he added.

According to the President, publications like Conde Nast Traveller, the New York Times, and Travel + Leisure Magazine have cited the Philippines as a prime beach holiday destination.

He added that China's Oriental Morning Post named the Philippines as "Best Tourist Destination" in its annual World Travel-Special Trips awards.

The Shanghai Morning Post also identified the Philippines as the "Most Romantic Destination" in the world.

In his remarks, President Aquino likewise tagged the infrastructure as a priority sector, of his administration saying that it is a key to further growth and development in tourism and agriculture, among other sectors.

He also cited the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report showing that the Philippines is lagging behind our ASEAN neighbors in terms of quality infrastructure.

"This presents an opportunity, because we are committed to closing this gap and increasing our competitiveness. Last year, disbursements for infrastructure reached an equivalent of 4.9 billion US dollars, and we have allotted 5.7 billion US dollars for this in 2013," he said.

Ibnu Gholib Al-Jitli or Ustadz Sanusi in Marawi City

Malacanang confirmed Saturday the killing of two terrorists who are alleged members of the Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

"We are confirming that Philippine authorities have successfully neutralized two foreign terrorists. Pareho silang miyembro umano ng Jemaah Islamiyah," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

In November last year, Philippine authorities tracked down Ibnu Gholib Al-Jitli or Ustadz Sanusi in Marawi City, an Indonesian who is suspected to be a senior member of JI.

Sanusi died in a firefight when security forces tried to arrest him, Valte said. During the investigation, the police recovered electronic devices and large amounts of currency from Sanusi.

Prior to Sanusi's arrival in the Philippines in 2006, he was tagged as one of those involved in the 2005 beheading of three schoolgirls in Poso, Sulawesi, Indonesia, Valte said.

Also, Noor Fikrie Kahar was neutralized by Philippine security forces in December 14 last year, the Palace official said.

Valte said Kahar is a suspected Malaysian member of the JI.

Kahar attempted to detonate an improvised explosive device in a hotel in Davao City and was killed by the police in an encounter.

His Filipino wife, Anabelle Nieva Lee, remains under police custody and is currently undergoing judicial process, she said.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Scandal

The Palace said it would look into reports saying the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System continues to release excessive bonuses despite the non-approval of the budget department.

"We'll have to verify that report kasi ang alam ko dapat sa mga GOCCs, ang merong authority over them ay ang GCG (Governance Commission for GOCCs)," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

"That will be looked into. After it is verified, that will be looked into," Valte said when asked if the Palace will push for an inquiry on the matter.

In a report by the Commission on Audit, it said excessive bonuses were still rampant at the MWSS in 2011.

In its report for 2011, COA said the MWSS still gave allowances, bonuses and incentives to its executives and staff despite the non-approval of the Dept. of Budget and Management.

COA said the MWSS continued to release various allowances, bonuses and benefits even without DBM's nod.

COA also questioned the release of hazard pays to personnel who were not supposed to receive it.

Possible investment destination in the Visayas

Asia's rich country of Brunei eyed Iloilo City as possible investment destination in the Visayas.

Brunei Ambassador to the Philippines, Her Excellency Malai Hajah Halima Malai Yussof was impressed with the development strides of the city and expressed her interests in investing in the field of education and food security.

The lady Ambassador said that certain areas of cooperation maybe forged between Iloilo City and Brunei Darussalam. She said that Brunei students may opt to go to Iloilo City for their education.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said Iloilo City, considered as the educational center in the Visayas and Mindanao, has 10 universities and colleges that offer numerous degrees. It also hosts the John B. Lacson Maritime University, the only maritime education university in Southeast Asia.

"Besides, living and studying in Iloilo City is much cheaper by 50 percent as compared to the standards of living in Manila, Cebu and Davao cities," Mabilog said.

The lady Ambassador, together with Australian Ambassador Bill Twedell, graced the One Meal Foundation chairperson Teresita "Nene" Chan and came to witness the two-day Dinagyang Festival held on January 26 - 27.

Meanwhile, Mabilog announced the city administration's dream to regain the title "Queen City of the South" by starting to change the city's skyline.

Mabilog said they target to become a premier city by 2015 "or may be we could realized it earlier in 2014 as the city surges forward with numerous investments and business locators."

He said Iloilo City embarked on a strong business-friendly programs to attract more investments.

He announced the several ongoing projects in the city that included the P25 billion Megaworld Corp. business center at the more than 23 hectare-lot of the old Iloilo airport in Mandurriao district, the ongoing construction of a 21-storey building of Injap Corp. and the another multi-billion peso investments of Gaisano Corp.

"These investments were spurred by the ongoing local and national government development projects that include cleaning and rehabilitating the Iloilo River, street widening, bridge construction, housing, schools, health centers, new city hall and opening up of new areas for possible investment hub," he enthused.

Junior National Basketball Association (NBA) program

The two-day Junior National Basketball Association (NBA) program reeled off in Dagupan with a seminar for some 500 basketball coaches on Saturday and school clinic for 1,200 kids on Sunday.

Participants are taught of the finer points in basketball, how America's NBA plays.

Dagupan City Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, Region 1 Director of the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP)hosted the two-day under her program Community Service Idol (CSI).

She said the NBA style of coaching and playing will surely improve the quality of basketball in Dagupan City and northern Luzon.

The Junior NBA program was first held in Manila on January 19 before moving to Lucena and Davao cities with Dagupan as the last stop-over.

Considered as main event of the two-day event was the school clinic with some 1,200 students, boys and girls, aged between 10 - 14, from various public and private schools in Dagupan.

Sefu Bernard, NBA Asia Director of Basketball operations,is camp director. He is assisted by local coaches selected by NBA, and coaches of the Alaska Power Camp led by Philippine Basketball Association legend Jojo Lastimosa.

Alaska Powdered Milk Drink is the presenting partner of NBA in the Junior NBA program for the third consecutive year.

The Junior NBA is the league's international youth development program that promotes basketball participation, sportsmanship and teamwork, and an active lifestyle for children.

The two-day coaching seminar and school clinic in Manila, Lucena, Davao and Dagupan will be followed with the holding of a Regional Training Camps in March and April.

Fernandez said there will be a regional Junior NBA selection camp in Northern Luzon in March where players not only from Dagupan but from Baguio, Tarlac, Pampanga, Laoag and other places, are attending.

NBA said the regional selection camps will lead to the selection of 50 participants from all over the country who will join the Junior NBA National Training Camp in Manila from April 26 to 28 and participate in a national try-out..

The national try out will lead to the selection of 10 members of the Junior NBA All-Star Team who will be brought to the United States and be given unique NBA experience of seeing NBA games live.

Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Division

In line with the division's community development and peace missions, troops from the Army's 4th Infantry Division conducted a clean-up drive in three of Cagayan De Oro City's barangays Friday, military sources in Manila said Saturday.

The localities were identified as Barangay Patag, Bulua and Kauswagan.

Soldiers participating in the clean-up drive were tasked to clean the drainage canal along the road of Barangay Patag, remove garbage along roads leading to Bulua and Kauswagan.

"Clean-up drives and beautification activities are manifestations that we are sincerely concerned on the importance of sanitation in our community," 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Col. Eugenio Julio C. Osias said.

Tubbataha Reef, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Authorities target preventing more damage to Tubbataha Reef, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where American navy minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground last week.

"We're focusing on that ship's removal from the area to avoid further damage there," said Sec. Ramon Paje from Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources which is part of the multi-agency group looking into the incident.

He also said the group is discussing removal of oil from the ship.

"Among our concerns is how to extract that oil as soon as possible to prevent it from leaking into the sea," he said.

Tubbataha Reef lies in marine biodiversity-rich Coral Triangle.

"It's part of the area experts identified as center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world," Paje said.

World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines already expressed concern about "immense hazards" which this organization said the stranded USS Guardian is posing to Tubbataha's underwater ecosystem.

WWF reported the vessel's holds "have taken in water" and "hundreds of meters of once-pristine reef have already been flattened."

Republic Act 10067 established 97,030-hectare Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park as a protected area.

PAs are identified portions of land and water set aside by reason of respective unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploitation, RA 10067 noted.

Under RA 10067, Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board is in charge of TRNP's management and administration.

RA 10067 penalizes acts like unauthorized entry in TRNP, non-payment of conservation fees, obstruction to law enforcement officers and destruction of resources there.

"Damages to the reef shall subject the responsible person or entity to payment of administrative fines set by TPAMB based on current valuation standards and to payment of the cost of restoration," RA 10067 also notes.

RA 10067's Sec. 31 on common penal provisions states that in case the vessel used in violation of this law is foreign-owned, the fine shall be thrice the maximum amount imposed for the offense committed.

Holiday Inn Resort Independent Union Scandal

The threat by the 151-strong Holiday Inn Resort Independent Union to paralyze the operations of Holiday Inn Clark Philippines has been averted following successful efforts by the Regional Conciliation-Mediation Branch No. 3 to resolve a brewing dispute between the union and the hotel management, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz bared yesterday.

"The dispute, which arose out of a deadlock in negotiations over wage increases, was amicably settled through conciliation-mediation on 17 January 2013. The parties agreed to a monthly wage increase of P800 for employees who have been with the company for 10 years and above, P700 for employees with 6 to 9 years of service, P600 for employees with 3-5 years of service, and P500 for employees with 1 to 2 years of service," Baldoz disclosed.

"In addition, the company also agreed to grant the lump sum amount of P3,500 to employees with 10 or more years of service, and P2,000 to employees who have been with the company for less than 10 years," she added.

The settlement package, worth over P2 million, will benefit some 147 covered workers.

"What was significant with the settlement agreement was the willingness of the parties to establish a labor-management council, underscoring their recognition of workplace peace and harmony as a requisite to productivity, competitiveness, and continued business viability," Baldoz further said.

A report of the Regional Conciliation Mediation Branch No. 3 said the parties will meet in February 2013 with RCMB 3 representatives to prepare for the setting up of their LMC.

The Holiday Inn Resort Independent Union filed a notice of strike shortly before Christmas, or on 20 December 2012, after the parties failed to agree on the amount of the monthly wage increase for the third year of their CBA. The strike became imminent after conciliation meetings on 26 December 2012 and 4 January 2013 failed. On the third conciliation meeting on 11 January, the union submitted the results of its strike balloting, which showed majority supports to declare a strike.

Aware of the fast-approaching last day of the cooling off period, Conciliator-Mediator Teresita Cancio, officer-on-case, called another meeting on 14 January, during which the parties agreed on the amount of monthly wage increases, but not on the lump sum amount.

Ms. Cancio scheduled another meeting on 17 January, where the parties finally signed a compromise agreement to settle the dispute. v"The settlement of the dispute not only averted a possible strike; it also assured continued stability and harmony in the company and preserved the jobs of the union members," said Baldoz.