Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Smart PLDT Offers LTE OK Internet Connection

Smart Communications Inc. has laid out enough fiber optic cables the past six months as to have tripled its original coverage in several places around Metro Manila.

The effort has to do with laying fiber optic cables needed for the delivery of so-called fourth-generation or 4G communication services alternately known as Long Term Evolution or LTE.

Smart Broadband Internet and Data Services head Lloyd Manaloto said with the expanded LTE coverage, the telco "expects a surge in LTE usage in the coming weeks."

Smart has thus far laid fiber optic cables to 773 malls, restaurant bars, clinics, salons and recreational areas around Metro Manila, a development seen to accelerate the sale of LTE-enabled devices.

"The expansion of Smart LTE's coverage comes at an opportune time because of the introduction of very popular LTE-enabled gadgets. In fact, a number of these have already been sold locally over the holidays," Manaloto said.

PLDT head of public affairs also said its offices in La Union and in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte have given more than enough time for rival Globe Telecom to remove its fiber optic cables installed on PLDT poles and overhead cables without PLDT consent.

"Despite repeated notices since December last year, Globe's contractors continued to install FOC equipment on facilities of PLDT and Smart Communications without our knowledge and consent. We have been compelled to act because these may affect the operations of our own facilities," Isberto said.

He said Globe was given until January 25 to remove the unauthorized installations.

"If no action was taken by Globe contractors, PLDT will be constrained to remove the illegal connections and charge Globe for the cost of the removal and other damages that may be incurred by our facilities in the process," Isberto said.

PLDT and Smart personnel have found Globe FOC facilities attached to PLDT or Smart poles and lines in various points such as Sudipen and Bangar, La Union, and, in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. "It is unfortunate that the services of PLDT, Smart and Globe may be affected due to the apparent disregard of Globe's contractors of standard legal and safety procedures," Isberto said.

Philippine Comelec Official Ballot

ALL is set for the printing of more than 52 million official ballots for the May 13, 2013 scheduled on February 4 at the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the printing of the estimated 52,014,000 ballots will start earlier next month.

"We are ready to start printing. The ballot papers are there already. The printers are already there at the NPO and are undergoing test runs right now so that there will be no more problems by next week," he added.

The Comelec chief said the ballots, which are precinct-specific ballots will be printed on a 1:1 ratio with the number of registered voters.

He said that they expect the printing of the ballots to be finished in over 50 days, as the capacity of the printer is about one million per day.

It was Holy Family Printing Corp. and its partner, Canon Marketing Philippines that won the contract to print the official ballots worth P780 million.

Brillantes said that they decided to push through with the scheduled printing even as the Supreme Court (SC) has yet to issue final rulings on the disqualification cases of several party-lists groups.

"We do not see any action on the part of the SC. And even if they did this week, it won't make it anymore… we are left with no choice but to push through with the printing," he said.

The High Court, earlier granted the petition of 39 previously registered party-list groups and 13 new applicants by issuing status quo ante orders (SQAOs) on the Comelec decisions.

Expanding Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA)

The government on Friday released the guidelines under which prospective bidders to the expanding Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) may get to physically inspect the facilities of the country's second largest airport, starting today, January 28.

Prospective bidders consider such inspection of paramount importance and were told by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) they have one month or until February 18 to do what they must.

In a supplemental bulletin issued on January 23, 2013, lawyer Jose Perpetuo M. Lotilla, undersecretary for legal affairs and chairman of the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee, acknowledged the exercise will allow interested parties to familiarize themselves with actual site conditions at the MCIA necessary for making an intelligent bid.

But rules specify only those who have purchased so-called invitation documents known as Instructions To Prospective Bidders or ITPB may get to inspect the airport facilities and only those who have formally requested may do so under as set of strictures issued by the PQBA.

For instance, ocular inspections happen only on Thursdays and Friday from 8:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon for a team of authorized representatives no more than five.

Video recorders are prohibited although photos may be taken subject to prior MCIA permission.

The government also reserved the right to deny access to certain areas of the airport under relevant restrictions issued by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Quarantine, the Civil Aviation Authority and other lawful authorities at the airport.

The guidelines were silent on the matter of allowing groups with interests, regardless of extent, in airline operations to participate in the exercise.

Prospective participants such as the JG Summit Group and San Miguel Corp. have been initially excluded from participation although their executives told reporters the exclusion provision is under appeal.

Philippine Senate Has Lost Reputation

Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday the Senate needs 'evisceration' to repair the damages brought by the controversy on the use of Senate funds.

"I think the Senate needs evisceration to really clean the toxin and apply necessary remedy," Lacson said in radio dzBB interview.

Lacson said one of the best remedies he can recommend is to open the Senate funds to audit specially the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and cash gifts released to the senators by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile last December.

"I think we have to open the Senate and our own offices for audit by the Commission on Audit," Lacson, who never availed his P200 million annual PDAF (priority development assistance fund) in his eight years of service as senator, said.

While he suggested to open themselves for audit, Lacson said he opposed Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano's suggestion for parallel audit by the COA and private or independent auditing firm.

"I have reservation on that suggestion because it has constitutional issues, it will have legal problem because the government auditor is COA," Lacson explained.

He said that if Cayetano would push for his call for parallel audit, Lacson said he would introduce amendment excluding private auditing firm to parallel audit.

Lacson clarified that he is not depending Enrile over the Senate funds issue but admitted that the institution which he served for last nine years also absorbed so much damage from the word war between Enrile and Cayetano and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

He said the controversy has also affected the integrity of Enrile himself after the latter mentioned the alleged P37 million debt Cayetano's farther, the late senator Renato 'Companero' Cayetano.

"Honestly, he (Enrile) absorbed more damage in that exchange of words. It is not proper to revive issue involving dead person," Lacson said.

If the recent word war between Enrile and Cayetano would lead to change of leadership, Lacson said it can be done at the start of the next 16th Congress.

"We have only six days left (in the present 15th Congress). If we will change leadership now, more pending bills will be affected including AMLA amendments which President Aquino wanted for Congress to pass," Lacson said.

Lacson was one of the 11 senators who opposed the motion of Enrile to declare Senate presidency vacant.

Last Monday, Enrile vacated his post to allow anyone who is against him to takeover but his colleagues refused to allow the Senate President to quit his post.

The controversy on the use of Senate funds sparked early this month when Senator Santiago complained that she did not receive P1.6 million additional MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses).

10 dioceses that have no Filipino bishops

The country has 10 dioceses that have no bishops.

According to retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the reason of the vacant dioceses is that the Vatican is having a hard time in appointing new bishops for the country.

"I heard that there are 10 vacant dioceses now and many are waiting for their bishop. l think Rome is having difficulty in choosing a new bishop for the country," he said in an interview.

Among the vacancies are in Imus, Gumaca, Dumaguete, Romblon, San Carlos, Zamboanga, Bontoc-Lagawe, Infanta, Kalookan.

Cruz opined that the possible reason is the pontiff might be looking for a certain qualification.

"Maybe they are looking for a certain qualification, a way of doing things or a way of thinking…there is no fast rule on this really," he said.

However, he is not worried as the Vatican would soon name bishops to said dioceses.

On the other hand, Cruz said that the number of retiring bishops is rising.

"Formerly we (retired) 7 or 8, but now we are around 30, I think," the prelate said.

On Friday, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignations of Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, 72, and San Pablo Bishop Leo Drona, 71.

Both resigned from their posts ahead of the retirement age of 75.

Canon 401, par. 2 of the Code of Canon Law provides that a diocesan bishop who becomes unsuited for duties due to illness or other grave reason is requested to tender his resignation from office.

World's best hand-held firearms

With a new Glock 17 pistol, the Philippine police will be handling one of the world's best hand-held firearms, according to Philippine National Police authorities.

The PNP has ordered 59,904 units of Glock 17 Generation 4 pistols from under its P1.2 billion procurement program.

Director Arnulfo Perez, PNP director for logistic, said the procurement program also allowed them to acquire a handgun similar to short firearms used by 60 percent of all police forces in America, Europe and Asia.

The Glock pistol, sometimes referred to by the manufacturer as Glock "safe action" pistol, is a series of semi-automatic pistols designed and produced by Glock Ges.m.b.H., located in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria.

Despite initial resistance from the market to accept a "plastic gun" due to durability and reliability concerns, Glock pistols have become the company's most profitable line of products, commanding 65 percent of the market share of handguns for United States law enforcement agencies as well as supplying numerous national armed forces and security agencies worldwide.

The gun can fire 9mm,40 and caliber rounds and can be fitted with telescopic and laser sights.

Former PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome said the new Glock pistol, PNP can now engage in equal terms heavily-armed criminals."

He said the procurement of cew pistols has also solved a long-standing problem of lack of guns.

Deputy Director General Emelito Sarmiento, PNP deputy chief for administration said that the PNP has save some P200 million in the procurement, enough to allow them to fund a re-order of an additional 12,000 handgun units.

TESDA Gets ISO Compliance

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has announced that it passed the first year of surveillance audit as part of compliance to its ISO 9001:2008.

ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized quality management standard which specifies Quality Management System (QMS) requirements focused on an organization's ability to meet and improve upon customer satisfaction and quality requirements.

The audit confirms that the agency is adhering to the highest standard of requirements for a quality management bestowed upon TESDA in early 2012.

"Successfully completing this thorough audit shows that our processes and systems are of the highest order," Secretary Joel Villanueva, TESDA Director General, said.

"We are pleased with the results of the audit, and proud of the work of TESDA employees and partners, who maintain our quality system," Villanueva added.

In January 2011, TESDA received the ISO certification for its two major pillar programs, namely: Program Registration and Competency Assessment and Certification.

The ISO certification puts in place a system that ensures integrity and quality of training delivery and training outputs involving all of TESDA's technical vocational courses.

The audit covered the program registration and assessment and certification implemented by TESDA in different sites from March to October 2012.

The TUV SUD PSB Philippines Inc. ,a member of the TUV Asia Pacific Ltd. is accredited by the JAS-ANZ, a joint accreditation system of Australia and New Zealand and by the Philippine Accreditation Body of the Department of Trade and Industry as provider of audit and certification of management systems, conducted the audit.

Socioeconomic Report (SER): 2010-2012 of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)

State agencies should further accelerate their strategies to achieve targets in the transportation sector by 2016, according to the newly released Socioeconomic Report (SER): 2010-2012 of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

"While the quality of our national roads and bridges significantly improved since 2010, the actual output indicators as reported in the SER are actually slightly below the targets for 2011. Implementing agencies need to double their efforts," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

According to the SER, while the percentage of paved road length increased to 78.87 percent (out of the total 31,242 kilometers) in 2011, this was still slightly below the year's target of 79.0 percent.

Also, the percentage of length of permanent bridges along national arterial roads went up to 94.63 percent (out of 330,089 lineal meters), which is slightly below the 95.0-percent target in 2011.

Balisacan stressed the need to accelerate the approval and adoption of the National Transport Policy (NTP), which will ensure coordination among transport agencies.

"The NTP needs to be implemented to bring about a more integrated transport network and centralized collection, monitoring and evaluation of needed information and statistics to track the development of the sub-sector," said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General

The NTP is a comprehensive long-term policy framework that will guide the accomplishment of transport objectives and goals, such as the restructuring of the sub-sector.

A draft Executive Order on "Adopting a Policy Framework that Sets the Direction of and Parameters for the Development and Regulation of the Transportation System in the Philippines" is currently being reviewed.

For the water, air, and rail transport sub-sectors, individual agencies' performance against target have mixed results in terms of attainment of objectives, according to the SER.