Archive | Government

Should Joc-joc Bolante Given A Security Guard?

A Catholic bishop on Tuesday said that security should be provided to former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante as he is scheduled to attend the Senate investigation on the controversial fertilizer fund scam.

With this, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma urged the civil society groups and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to secure the safety of Bolanted, who earlier claimed that his life is under threat.

“Yes, the security of Bolante should also be taken care of, I guess, by the proper authorities … and also by the civil society groups … they should protect him just like what they did with Jun Lozada,” he said.

Prior to his departure to the United States in 2006 to seek political asylum, Bolante had claimed that his life was being threatened in the Philippines.

The National Rural Congress (NRC) chairman said that providing security to the former DA official would ensure that he would be able to testify that would unravel the unanswered questions on the three-year old case.

“The farmers, who were the original beneficiaries of this supposed funds to supplement their farming, have long been waiting for his testimony on what really happened to the money and why it was not able to reach them,” Ledesma related.

Bolante is still confined at the St. Luke’s Medical Center since he arrived in the country last October 28. However, on Monday, his physician, Dr. Romeo Saavedra, said he is now free to leave the hospital as he has been cleared of any life-threatening ailment.

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More Filipino NPAs Surrender to Government

Since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo raised the payment for every surrendered firearms from P18,000 to P50,000 in March 2007, more and more members of the New People’s Army (NPA) — both active and inactive — have returned to the folds of the law, the Philippine Army (PA) said Tuesday.

Based on PA’s latest record, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner noted that from Oct. 26, 2008 to Nov. 10, some 21 rebels surrendered.

The oldest was Martiniano Olivo y Flores, 55 years old and the youngest were Rene Lagmas y Francisco and Michael S. Tubo, both 19 years old.

Flores was a former assistant squad leader of Squad 1 of the defunct Front Guerilla Unit (FGU), Central Visayas Regional Party Committee (CVRPC). He laid low in 2001 due to illness.

Francisco, on the other hand, was the vice squad leader of 2nd squad, Sangguniang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP), Aurora Unit Provincial Committee (AUPCOM); while Tubo was a member of Team Baking, SYP 1, Front Committee (FC) 33, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

The highest ranking NPA surrenderor is Panda S. Macabada alias Commander Haj Omar, deputy brigade command of 212th Brigade, 101st Base Command, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Next is Gilbert Bactol y Canega alias Brix, a former Supply and Logistics officer of Squad Abe, Iraq Platoon, Northern Leyte Front (NLF), Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC); Manuel Francisco alias Demok, vice squad leader, Abe squad, RUC, Northern Samar Provincial Party Committee (NSPPC); and Jomae Esteves y Oliveros alias Jepoy/Elmo, 27, vice squad leader of 2nd squad, SYP Central, AUPCOM.

The following are the NPA surrenderors and the group they belong to:

-Alexander Casal y Davao alias Alex/Nards/Tagalog, 30; SDG, FC 34, SMRC. He has been with the NPA for 16 years;

-Christopher Doloso Y Viña alias rodel, 31, Komite Seksyon sa Platun (KSPN) 2, Kilusang Larangang Gerilya (KLG);

-Aguinaldo Matino Masaglang alias Demsit, 24, 1st squad Mazda, FC 71, Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR);

-Rolando Abila Anselma alias George, 28, SYP Central, AUPCOM;

-Roland Marzan y Dabo alias Erick, 40, a semi-legal organizer of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB) Pampanga Command under Ariel Atienza alias Kim/Julian;

-Augusto Liwagan Oddangi alias Erby, KLG Baggas;

-Biliked B. Sibayan alias Resto, SYP, GF 33, SMRC under alias Emong;

Margalio Yapi alias Witan/ Jiji, GF 33, SMRC; and,

-Jun-jun Untas, MB under FC 21B, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

The surrenderors came all the way from the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Lanao del Sur, Pampanga, Northern Samar, Leyte, Camarines Sur, Aurora, Kalinga, Quezon, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Tagum City and Surigao del Sur.

They surrendered to either the commanding officer or an enlisted personnel of an Army unit, or sometimes through a government official.

Jomas Esteves y Oliveros alias Jepoy/Elmo surrendered through Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo.

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Tragedy at Laguna de Bay in Pililla, Rizal, Philippines

At least four persons were killed when a boat capsized off Laguna de Bay in Pililla, Rizal, Tuesday morning.

Police identified the fatalities as 50-year old Alfredo Aguirre, his 11-year old son, Joshua, and Joshua’s friends Jubilyn Rubiales, 16 and her sister Judith Rubiales, all residents of Barangay Malaya in this locality, some 75 kilometers east of Metro Manila.

The authorities said that the incident took place around 7 am when all the victims drowned.

Police said that three other persons on board the boat that capsized were able to swim their way to safety. Except for Alfredo’s eldest daughter, Jessica, names of others who managed to swim to safety were not immediately known.

Probers said that the victims were about to go fishing when strong waves at the Laguna de Bay caused their boat to capsize. – PNA

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Filipinos in Brunei

Filipino Muslims in Brunei celebrated an Islamic religious event known as “Hart Raya Aidul Fitri” on Oct. 29 with their leader commending the “positive impact” to Mindanao of Philippine – Brunei relations, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported.

The celebrations and dinner were hosted by Ambassador Virginia Benavidez at her official residence in the capital of Brunei Darussalam.

At dinner, Hataman Paraman, president of the Muslim Filipino Overseas Workers Association (MFOWA), relayed his group’s “deep appreciation” of the efforts of the governments of the Philippines and the Brunei Government for Muslims in the Philippines.

He mentioned that at least three bilateral projects stand out: the Grand Mosque being constructed in Cotabato City, Brunei’s International Monitoring Team on the peace process, and Brunei’s madrasah scholarship program for Filipino Muslims.

Benavidez, meanwhile, said the Filipino-Muslim community in Brunei is supportive of embassy programs, and pledged to work harder in providing assistance to Filipino nationals.

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Cleaning Up Philippine Voters' List

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said it needs more funds to be able to cleanse the certified voters’ list for the 2010 presidential and national elections.

“Alam n’yo, madali ang biometrics … kunin lang ang ating pirma, thumbprints … naka-bangko yan, naka-file. Kailangan ‘yan may cross-matching at ‘yun ang mahal,” he said.

However, he did not give the exact amount as to how much is needed in cross-matching biometrics data.

The Comelec chief’s statement is in response to the call of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) to use the biometrics system in the registration, which is set to resume on December 1, to be able to have an accurate list of voters.

Melo welcomed the use of the system as it would ensure a clean and credible election come 2010.

“Kung pwede, why not? If given enough funding. Pero ayoko namang isabay sa automation … baka naman sabihin nila e, ‘Ano ba kayo diyan sa Comelec? Diyan na lang ba sa inyo ang pera?’,” he said.

The Comelec is not totally discounting the possibility of using the system, but it would be implemented in key cities of the country.

“Para hindi masyado mahal, ang sabi ko, city-wide or province-wide na lang kaya at nang hindi na nationwide. Imagine mo, you will be cross-matched with 50 million people, ang mahal n’un,” Melo explained. – PNA

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Should Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Resign?

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Tuesday said he is not going to step down from his post unless he no longer enjoys the support of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Esperon made the statement in reaction to the call of Sen. Jamby Madrigal for his replacement, saying he is a hindrance to the resumption of talks with the communist-led National Democratic Front.

Peace talks with the communists bogged down in 2004 after the United States included the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army in its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

“As a presidential appointee, I always strive to give my best in my function as presidential adviser on the peace process. I have no personal or political agenda. I shall continue to serve as long as the President has trust and confidence in me,” said Esperon.

Esperon, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, said all he wanted is to attain peace, specifically in Mindanao where he spent a lot of his time as a military. He commanded an Army brigade in Cotabato and another brigade in Basilan.

“My aspiration is to help attain peace, especially in Mindanao. I have my heart and mind in Mindanao having been assigned there nine times, from platoon commander to brigade commander,” said Esperon.

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U.S. Veterans Day at Manila American Embassy

In observance of U.S. Veterans Day on Tuesday, November 11, the U.S. embassy in Manila and its affiliated offices will be closed to the public on that day.

Across the US, the U.S. holiday is spearheaded by the Department of Veteran Affairs, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake has earlier called on Americans to recognize “living veterans and the generations before them who fought to protect freedom and democracy.”

Records indicate there are 23.4 million American war veterans, including 107-year-old Frank Buckles, who fought in the First World War in Europe and lives at his West Virginia farm.

Filipino soldiers who fought alongside U.S. troops during World War II (WWII) are considered U.S. veterans and are still awaiting for the passage of the Filipino World War II Veterans Equity Bill in the U.S. Senate.

More than 35,000 Filipino soldiers survived WWII, now about 80 years old at average. Since WWII ended in 1945, they have patiently waited for the US government to correct what they consider are the “injustices” in the “obsolete” Recession Act.

If corrected, they will be entitled to compensation equal to that of their American counterparts. The Equity Bill could correct that injustice.

This week, with the perception that issues and policies involving minorities would be high on the presidential agenda of President-elect Barack Obama, Malacanang reiterated its optimism over its passage.

Philippine Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita assured that Obama recognizes the vital role of Filipino WWII veterans, based on the President-elect’s several statements.

Ermita told a press conference that Obama has made several references to the veterans bill. “And I suppose, with those coming directly from him, you will have a pretty good idea of what is forthcoming once he steps into the shoes of President George Bush as US president come January.”

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Cebu Philippines South Road Properties (SRP)

Two bigtime investors are optimistic about their plans at the South Road Properties (SRP) despite the tedious process of acquiring lots there and the economic meltdown in the US.

Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) vice chairman Andrew Gotianun Jr. said they expect to finish negotiating with the Cebu City Government and close a deal on the SRP lot purchase by the middle of January, if negotiations succeed.

The City Government’s JV Selection Committee (JVSC) is now reviewing Filinvest’s proposal to buy 10 hectares of SRP for P2 billion and to develop in a joint venture with the city government 40 hectares more.

”We’ll try to finish it by mid-January,” Gotianun told reporters, saying he is optimistic that FLI can work on the timetable set by the JVSC on the FLI negotiations.

FLI’s offer will be subject to a competitive bidding similar to a Swiss Challenge, where other developers will be allowed to compete and buy the property at a higher price and give the city a bigger share in the joint venture agreement than what FLI offered.

Bigfoot Global Solutions chief executive officer Michael Gleissner also disclosed the additional P50 million in investment that he will put into their entertainment complex on a leased property at the SRP, which was inaugurated last Saturday.

Although Mayor-on-leave Tomas Osmena is “tough” to negotiate with and won’t reduce the price of SRP lots, he said he is still optimistic he can eventually buy lots in the 302-hectare facility.

Despite the economic meltdown in the US, which forced Bigfoot Global Solutions to lay off 40 of its 500 employees in Cebu, Gleissner said he intends to pursue the expansion project at the Bigfoot Entertainment complex.

He has so far invested P150 million for the four sound stages for the international movie studio, and will invest P50 million more to put up retail shops, residential buildings and a boardwalk beside a pond.

The facility stands on a two-hectare lot they are leasing from the city for 25 years.

”We actually preferred to purchase, but as the first investor there, the lease was the option available to start things. The mayor here is a very tough negotiator and he’s not going to give the lot for a cheap price,” he said. – PNA

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Farmer Beneficiaries at Teves Landholdings in Sta. Catalina, Negros

By Judy Flores-Partlow, PNA

The long-delayed installation of farmer beneficiaries to the former Teves landholdings in Caranoche, Sta. Catalina and Villareal, Bayawan City in Negros Oriental will finally push through Wednesday morning.

The decision was arrived at following yesterday’s meeting spearheaded by DAR Region 7 assistant regional director for operation (ARDO) Eliasem Castillo, and attended by the landowners, farmer beneficiaries, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army, among others.

ARDO Castillo said the meeting yesterday discussed how to facilitate the execution of the order issued by the adjudicator to implement the decision of the DARAB or DAR Adjudication Board as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

He was referring to the high tribunal’s decision favoring the farmer-beneficiaries (FBs) who earlier received Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The installation of these were stalled several times over the past few years due to legalities and other issues, and the absence of an order from the national headquarters of the PNP requiring prior clearance from them to provide police assistance during installation proceedings.

Castillo said they have received a directive from Camp Crame dated Nov. 7, 2008 and addressed to the regional director of the PNP Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) in Cebu, P/Chief Supt. Ronald Roderos to extend police assistance to the DAR here.

To be installed are 19 beneficiaries/CLOA holders in the Caranoche, Sta. Catalina property covering 33 hectares and 11 beneficiaries in the Villareal, Bayawan City property covering 28 hectares.

Castillo has expressed hopes of a peaceful installation and without resistance from the landowners after a series of dialogues held between parties concerned.

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Panangidayew 2008: One Town, One Product (OTOP) Trade Fair and Exhibit

The first provincial One Town, One Product (OTOP) Trade Fair and Exhibit dubbed as “Panangidayew 2008″ and held at the Market! Market! Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Metro Manila last week was a tremendous success.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Provincial Director Peter Mangabat.

The exhibit, he said, generated total sales of around P3 million for the exhibitors and producers.

The fair, according to him, linked and matched local producers with institutional buyers and traders in Metro Manila.

“The fair and exhibit was also an eye opener to our local SMEs (Small-Medium Enterprises) to strive more to further improve and diversify their products to suit the taste of the changing market,” Mangabat said.

The event was participated in by 24 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and eight local government units that showcased their OTOP products and promoted their city/municipality as an investment and tourism haven.

The MSMEs were assisted by DTI on product development, packaging and labeling prior to their participation in the exhibit.  – PNA

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