Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed his concerns regarding the Charter Change, more known as Cha-Cha, in an interview during the Pabahay Caravan in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. He was quoted saying “While the assurance was made that the amendments will focus only on economic provisions, there is still the chance that it will go beyond it.” Clearly, the second leader of the republic does not believe that the initiative is simply to promote the country’s competitiveness when it comes to economy as House leaders insisted.

 

He also said that amending the Constitution is not the priority of the President, and “This is purely a congressional initiative,” he added.

 

Still, the House of Representatives’ committee on constitutional amendments scheduled an October 11 resolution seeking revision of the Constitution’s economic provisions. The Senate and the House of Representatives also agreed last week to deliberate and vote separately on Charter change.

 

Other proposed reforms are expanding foreign investor roles in the exploration, development and exploration, development and utilization of natural resources, allowing foreign ownership of industrial and commercial lands, liberalization of the practice of profession in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, allowing foreign investment in tertiary education and the extension of the 25 years plus 25 years land lease agreement.Image

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Would you believe if someone tells you that the impeachment of CJ Corona is nothing but a move against the country’s Vice President, Jejomar Binay? A source, who is very close to the VP, said that “Everyone knows that the trial is a power game that has nothing to do with an anti-corruption crusade. If Corona is taken out and (senior Associate Justice Antonio) Carpio becomes chief justice, and with the rest of the justices terrorized, Mar Roxas has the chance to assume the vice presidency soon.”

 

How? It’s simple. VP Binay led by 730,000 votes against Roxas in last year’s election. Some 3 million Roxas votes were voided by the optical-scan counting machines, which should have wiped out that lead. Roxas believes that Binay has something to do with this and filed an electoral protest to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), which is actually the Supreme Court. If indeed CJ Corona is impeached, all the seniors and associate justices will be frightened by the prospect of being impeached or media demonized. That way, Aquino gets to control PET and Roxas’ petition will be fast-tracked, declare him the winner, and ascend to VP.

 

Everything is being prepared, this source believes, even the public opinion. First, Aquino’s forces removed Ombudsman Mereditas Gutierrez in favor of Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, cousin of Justice Carpio, Aquino’s favorite justice and whom he will appoint to replace CJ Corona. The new Ombudsman, along with a new member of the Commission on Audit (COA) would demonize Binay, hurling graft cases against him. Meanwhile, Justice Carpio would become the chief justice. Carpio is the founder of the law firm Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco, Roxas’ electoral protest counsel.

edgardo angara

 

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara proposed a bill requiring Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) recipients to render environment services in exchange of the government program. He cited that “There must be reciprocity in the current Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program to erase criticisms that the program is just another form of a dole out.”

 

It can be recalled that the approved 4Ps program is expected to benefit around three million beneficiaries or indigent households in the country. The program is dubbed “lifeline to the poor” because it aims to provide financial assistance amounting to P39.5 billion without any expected return.

 

But recently, the country is experiencing continuously growing climate change threats. Juan Edgardo Angara, Representative of Aurora believes that it would be more than fitting for 4Ps benefactors to lend a hand in promoting awareness and safeguarding the environment of their respective barangays. With 3 million households working hand in hand with the LGUs and DSWD in cleaning waterways and planting trees, the task will be a lot easier. 

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At least 2,600 Philippine Airlines (PAL) catering, calls center reservation, and ground handling service departments employees were fired today to cut costs.  PAL, the national flag carrier of the country and the oldest airline in Asia, claimed that this is the only solution to the current status of the company. PAL also assured the riding public that the same fine services can be expected from the airline as replacement workers are already deployed.

 

Although the airline ensured that their former employees were well-provided during the separation, most were not satisfied with the company’s decision. In fact, the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (Palea) are urging Tourism Congress to do an inquiry about passenger safety issues after ‘untrained’ contract workers were put into crucial positions of laid off personnel.

 

To date, labor dispute against PAL is still on-going.  Supporters from Church Labor Conference (CLC), Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and Partido ng Manggagawa have also expressed their take on the situation. They call for “a just and equitable resolution”.

National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) recently launched the “Buy Philippine Made” campaign in the hope of developing economic nationalism in the country. If achieved, NEPA guarantees that growth of the country’s industry competitiveness will follow. The campaign was graced by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño and University of the Philippines economics professor Rene Ofreneo last September 27.

 

NEPA President Bayan dela Cruz stressed that if Filipinos start buying local products, the country will once again increase its economic capabilities as demonstrated during the height of economic nationalism in the 60’s. Rep. Casiño, in support, urged the Aquino government to finance the project instead of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program. Casiño sees additional employments if economy protection is promoted in the country.

Prof. Ofreneo also cited the economic boom in the US when George Washington adopted Alexander Hamilton’s vision of national industry protection. They increased tariff, strengthen their industries, and produced their own products. To date, US have the highest tariffs (+200%) on their protected products.                                  

 

Further studies also showed that developed countries have one thing in common: they practice economic protection as a sort of personal code.

jesse robredo

Jesse Robredo, Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, noted that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units (LGUs) had never increased since 1991. Based on the Local Government Code (LGC), a review has to be made after every five-year term. If followed, the first amendment should have taken place in 1996, then in 2001, 2006, and 2011. This would have helped the LGUs to respond promptly to calamities and support a number of development projects.

 

 “Since it was enacted in 1991, no review has been made yet. There is really a need to amend the code,” says Robredo during a press conference at his Quezon City DILG office.

He also cited that such increase must be based on the LGU officials’ performance.

“It’s better to give more budget to the performing officials and their performance will be the basis of performance challenge fund. It would be unfair to have equal share but unequal performance. There must be reasonable incentive.

 

 

Found this interesting post for January 4, 2011 in the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines – Home.

 

MANILA, Philippines—Sophisticated transnational drug-trafficking syndicates—including a West African group using overseas Filipino workers as couriers—remain the biggest challenge to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and other agencies involved in the campaign against illegal drugs, according to a report from the US State Department.

From only three in 2008, the number of foreign-based drug organizations operating in the Philippines has increased to nine, according to the department’s 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

“The West African drugs syndicate continues to infiltrate the Philippines with their operations. There is an increase in the recruitment of OFWs to smuggle cocaine and heroin in and out of the country,” said the report which was posted on the website of the US embassy in Manila.

These drug couriers “smuggle and transport illegal drugs to China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Several Filipinos, mostly women, are jailed abroad for drug trafficking and face severe prison sentences, including the death penalty in countries such as China,” it also said.

Billion-dollar industry

The report noted that although the Philippines is not a regional financial center, the illegal drug trade in the country has evolved into a billion-dollar industry, valued at over $8.4 billion (about P368.2 billion) a year.

It said the illegal drug industry here is fueled by foreign-organized criminal activities from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; insurgency groups that partially fund their activities through local crime and the trafficking of narcotics and arms, engaging in money laundering through ties to organized crime; and the proceeds of official or bureaucratic corruption which are also a source of laundered funds.

“Wholesale quantities of crystal methamphetamine (commonly known as shabu) are smuggled into the Philippines and continues to be manufactured clandestinely in the country,” the State Department said.

“Precursor chemicals are smuggled into the country from China, India and Taiwan through international airports, seaports, the mails, as well as via large unpatrolled expanses of the Philippine coastline,” it said.

PH transshipment point

Traffickers take advantage of the Philippines’ long and porous maritime borders to use the country as a transit point for high-grade cocaine and heroin shipments, primarily originating from India and Pakistan, the report said.

Chinese and Taiwanese remain the most influential foreign drug-trafficking groups in the Philippines and control domestic methamphetamine production, the State Department said.

Their chemists continue to establish clandestine laboratories in the Philippines for the manufacture of methamphetamine, it said.

“These traffickers typically produce methamphetamine in relatively small-scale clandestine meth labs commonly referred to as ‘kitchen-type’ labs, which more easily avoid detection by law enforcement authorities,” it said.

Shabu “ranks first in availability and remains the primary drug of choice in the Philippines,” where approximately 95 percent of arrested drug users are addicted to the illegal drug.

According to the 2009 United Nations World Drug Report, the Philippines “ranks fifth in the world in terms of methamphetamine hydrochloride seizures in the last 10 years and has remained a significant source of high-potency crystalline methamphetamine used both domestically and exported to locations in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania.”

The Philippines is also a primary source of shabu for Hawaii and Guam, said the US State Department.

But it noted that “intensified nationwide counter-narcotics operations by Philippine law enforcement agencies have apparently contributed to a reduction in drug supply, inasmuch as drug prices have been erratic in areas of increased enforcement.”

Law enforcement efforts

The Philippine government was cited for making anti-narcotics law enforcement one of its top priorities, with law enforcement agencies such as PDEA, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Customs actively pursuing counter-narcotics enforcement operations.

But though each agency is diligent in its efforts to carry out its mission, “their efforts are hampered by a lack of inter-agency cooperation at higher levels. Severe budgetary constraints also restrict operations and training,” it said.

PDEA, for instance, “remains too small to address the entire nation’s problems with the trafficking and sale of illicit drugs. It currently relies on other agencies for personnel assistance.”

“However, PDEA has established stronger regulatory guidelines and practices, and if provided necessary resources, should continue to develop into an effective drug enforcement agency,” it said.

The PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force “has been an effective drug law enforcement unit and scored several successes in 2009,” according to the State Department.

NBI’s small role

Compared with the PDEA and PNP, the NBI “has played a smaller role in drug enforcement due to its very limited manpower and multi-mission focus. However, its investigative and technical expertise is vital to the overall Philippine counter-narcotics efforts, especially in more complex investigations,” the US agency said.

The State Department said Washington plans to continue working with the Philippine government in the “training of anti-narcotics personnel, intelligence-gathering and infrastructure development.”

“Strengthening bilateral counter-narcotics relationship serves the national interests of both the US and the Philippines,” it added. –Jerry E. Esplanada, Philippine Daily Inquirer