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 on: September 14, 2013, 04:49:26 PM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From SubicNewsLink:

Subic EnerZone Corporation (SEZ), a listed corporation in this free port, donated on Wednesday a two-room pre-school facility to the Gordon Heights Elementary School (GHES) in Olongapo City.

The donation was made in line with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program of SEZ and in corroboration with the Aklat, Gabay, Aruga tungo sa Pag-Angat at Pag-Asa (AGAPP) Foundation, said SEZ senior vice president and chief operating officer Dante Pollescas.

AGAPP has committed to build classrooms and libraries in public elementary schools located in depressed or disadvantaged communities, tapping private companies and other foundations for support as part of their corporate social responsibility.

The third project in Olongapo, the “Silid Pangarap” — as all AGAPP buildings are called — comes packaged with chairs, reading and instructional learning materials, audio-visual equipment, power and water supplies.

“This is purely an undertaking of private corporations committed to build classrooms and libraries in public elementary schools to prepare the children in kindergarten for school life and develop their positive attitude towards schooling,” Pollescas said.

Among these corporations are the National Book Store, which donated books; Uratex for chairs and tables; and EnerZone and Aboitiz for power and water supply lines and the buildings.

GHES principal Fernando de Guzman lauded Subic EnerZone and AGAPP for the initiative, saying that the newly constructed facility would address the shortage of classrooms in the school.

“We wanted to assure the donors that we will take care of the building, so that it can be used for generations. This will benefit not only the children, but the teachers and parents as well,” de Guzman said.

In year 2010, AGAPP and the Department of Education (DepEd), through the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE), have formalized the partnership and launched the School Libraries cum Preschool Classroom project.

The partnership involves the construction of one-storey buildings furnished as school libraries that will also be utilized as kindergarten classrooms with accompanying age-appropriate instructional materials. It will also support teacher training and school staff development with focus on early childhood care and development and family literary.

Meanwhile, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia commended EnerZone for its undertakings that spread happiness among school children and teachers in Olongapo City.

“The project, indeed, fits together with the thrust of SBMA to help neighboring communities attain parallel development through projects that help enhance the capacities of residents, ” Garcia said.

Earlier this month, the SBMA through its Public Relations Department, donated school chairs, desks, and whiteboards to the Agusuhin Elementary School Annex in Subic, Zambales. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)


 on: September 14, 2013, 04:46:22 PM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From a special report by Stella Arnaldo on the Businessmirror:

TEN tourism destinations have been short-listed as various meeting sites for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum that will be hosted by the Philippines in 2015.

In an interview, Ma. Victoria Jasmin, undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation of the Department of Tourism (DOT), said the 10 “preselected” destinations are the National Capital Region, Tagaytay, Cebu, Clark, Subic, Legazpi, Iloilo, Davao, Bacolod and Boracay.

The DOT is a member of the Apec-National Organizing Council (NOC) set up by President Aquino to oversee the activities and programs that will be held under Apec in 2015 and ensure the successful hosting of the event.

Jasmin told the BusinessMirror “there are several meetings spread throughout the year, and I’m pretty sure that each [destination] will get at least one, barring some fortuitous events.”

The Apec summit which that gathers the heads of state of 21 member-economies, will be preceded by other activities throughout 2015, including the Senior Officials Meeting, the Ministerial and Sectoral Ministerial Meetings, as well as meetings of technical working groups that include the support staff for officials participating in the main Apec events.

Jasmin added there has been “no final decision yet” on where the summit would be held.

Separate government sources also said it was clear that the President “doesn’t want to build a separate facility” just for the Apec meetings.

The Philippines hosted the Apec summit in 1996 at the Subic Bay Freeport. Then-President Fidel V. Ramos built 18 Mediterranean-style villas in the so-called Apec Village, specifically for the use of the heads of state in the summit. The villas reportedly cost $50 million and used for only six hours by the Apec leaders.

But visitor arrivals finally crossed the 2-million mark in 1996, ending the year at 2.05 million, up 16 percent from the 1.76 million posted in 1995, indicating the increased attraction of a country as a tourism destination once a major international summit is held there, government sources noted.

The Philippines is targeting foreign arrivals to reach 10 million by 2016, by the time Mr. Aquino steps down from office.

A team from the NOC has been going around these past few months inspecting the 10 pre-selected Apec sites. Government sources said the inspection teams are checking the hotels in each destination, its MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions) facilities, the local organizing committee headed by the chief executives of the local government units, etc.

“Specifically, they check the availability of [hotel] suites, the quality and number of rooms, as well as the indicative rates, and renovation or upgrade plans,” one source added.

The Apec-NOC was set up by the President through Administrative Order (AO) 36 issued on November 28, 2012. It is chaired by the executive secretary with the secretary of foreign affairs as co-chairman, and composed of the heads of the regular line agencies.

Among the main functions of the Apec-NOC is to “approve and recommend to the President a master plan for the Philippine hosting of Apec in 2015, including an estimated budget for the proper hosting of the Apec meetings,” according to AO 36.


 on: July 29, 2013, 09:53:59 AM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Key strategies and principles:

*  Maximize opportunities for all, especially for those most in need.

*  “We are not content to wait for the trickle-down effect; we cannot leave their fate (receiving the benefits of progress) to chance.”

*  Inclusive growth drives every initiative, action and decision of government. Widespread opportunity is the key to comprehensive and sustained progress (e.g. TESDA scholarship, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and quality education)

* “Kayo ang aking lakas (You are my strength).”

Examples of those who contribute to nation-building:

*  Niño Aguirre, and police officers Edlyn Arbo, PO3 Felipe Moncatar and Dondon Sultan, and disaster relief workers and volunteers


*  Scholars of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment: Of the 503,521 people who graduated from their programs, six out of 10 have found jobs; and 70.9 percent of the graduates found employment in Tesda’s Information Technology-Business Processing Operations program, up from 28.5 percent from 2006 to 2008.

Social Welfare:

*  Almost 4 million household-beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program

*  Families with children up to 18 years old will be included in the program

*  Calls for reforms in the Social Security Service (SSS) pension scheme to address shortage of funds

*  PhilHealth coverage jumped from 62 percent of Filipinos in 2010 to 81 percent

*  Expanded Z benefit package to cover other conditions and diseases

*  Allotted P33 billion for the modernization of 4,518 hospitals, rural health units and health stations in the country


*  Erased backlogs in chairs, in textbooks, and about to address shortage in classrooms.

Agriculture/fish industry:

*  Agricultural sector grew 3.3 percent, triple that of 2012

*  Rice self-sufficiency on-target. The maximum to be imported would be the minimum access volume of 350,000 metric tons, including the 187,000 metric tons of buffer stock

*  Tap the potentials of coconut industry by intercropping; 434 sites targeted in 2013 for coconut intercropping

*  Cites the cold storage facility in Bataraza, Palawan province

*  Ongoing construction of ports, roads and other infrastructure to benefit the fishing industry

Agrarian reform:

*  The Department of Agrarian Reform has completed the list of beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita; turnover of lots will start in September.

*  All notices of coverage under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will have been served by 2014.


Disaster preparedness:

*  Multi-hazard mapping complete for 28 most vulnerable sites; Greater Metro Manila area to be completed in 2014

*  525 automated water-level monitoring stations and rain gauges set up under Project NOAH

*  Cooperating with LGUs to relocate informal settlers

*  Allocation of P6.2 billion to address flooding in Metro Manila (Construction of the Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment area)

*  9,377 houses for “Sendong” victims; 4,374 additional houses underway

*  53,106 houses for “Pablo” victims; 17,609 additional houses underway

*  19,400 families to be relocated from Metro Manila waterways

*  Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to file cases against owners of structures who have closed or obstructed waterways

Benefits of men in uniform

*  21,800 housing projects for policemen completed in 2012; this year’s target of 31,200 houses to be completed next month

*  Calls on the Government Service Insurance System to assist in addressing the pension and benefits problems of police and soldiers

Peace and order situation:

*  Distribution of firearms and weapons to meet the goal of one pistol-to-one police ratio

*  491,929 licenses verified under Oplan Katok

*  Private armies down by 63 percent; election-related violence down to 77 cases

*  Peaceful elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

*  Accountability for the deaths of Ozamiz Gang members

*  Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the issue of wealth sharing between the Philippine government and a Bangsamoro autonomous entity

*  Reiterated the government’s commitment to uphold agreement.


*  The Department of Science and Technology to assist in purchase of big ticket items

Legislative agenda:

*  Amend Cabotage Law

* Enact Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill

* Focus on Land Administration Reform Bill

* Review of PD 1638 and RA 8551 to ensure pensions of PNP and AFP personnel are timely and balanced

* Passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law before end of 2014

* Review of Marcos-issued decrees PD No. 1113 and PD No. 1894

* Review of Civil Service Code and PD No. 1

*  P2.268-trillion national budget


*  Ternate-Nasugbu Road

*  Aluling Bridge in Ilocos Sur

*  Laguindingan Airport

*  Inauguration of the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory to support the semi-conductor industry

*  Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project II to benefit 24,000 farmers

*  PPP airports: Laguindingan; Tacloban; Bicol International; New Bohol; Mactan; Puerto Princesa

*  NAIA rehabilitation underway

*  Integrated Transport System Terminals in Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Quezon City

*  NLEx-SLEx Connector Road project

Cabinet men praised:

Secretaries Armin Luistro (Department of Education), Rogelio Singson (Department of Public Works and Highways), Albert del Rosario (Department of Foreign Affairs) and the late Secretary Jesse Robredo (Department of Interior and Local Governments). (Also thanked soon-to-retire Presidential Security Group head, Gen. Ramon Mateo Dizon.)


*  Earned titles such as Best Tourist Destination, Most Romantic Destination, Best Diving Site, Palawan as Best Island in various travel magazines

*  4.3 million tourists in 2012; targets 56.1 million domestic travel in 2016

*  Tourism brought in 3.8 million jobs in 2012

*  Lifting of Philippine Airlines ban from flying to Europe

Turnaround stories of government-owned and -controlled corporations:

*  Local Water Utilities Administration’s P870 million in  net profit in 2012

*  Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System posted P2 billion in profit in 2012 from a P34-million net loss in 2010

Good governance and government savings:

*  P18.4-billion savings by the Department of Public Works and Highways

*  P2.9-billion savings in textbook purchase

Good governance and justice:

*  Former leadership of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) now being held accountable for overpriced purchases during the term of Augusto Syjuco Jr.

*  Indicted former officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) who are accused of embezzling P26.7 million to produce a movie and spending P186 million to finance a party-list group

*  Former leaders of the Philippine National Police (PNP) being made to answer allegations regarding P131.6 million wasted on defective rubber boats and P105 million spent on anomalous purchase of secondhand helicopters

Agencies slammed:

*  Bureau of Immigration for the escape of brothers Joel and Mario Reyes (suspects in the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega) and Korean fugitive Park Sungjun

*  National Irrigation Administration for their “make-do” culture

*  Bureau of Customs, for permitting smuggling of goods—Compiled by Inquirer Research


 on: July 28, 2013, 12:16:12 PM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From a report by Robert Gonzaga on the Inquirer:

A confluence of factors, exacerbated by high system losses due to a decrepit power distribution system, corruption and patronage politics, buried Olongapo City’s Public Utilities Department (PUD) in a mountain of debt amounting to P5 billion to power suppliers and threatened to cut the city from the Luzon power grid.

Former Mayor James Gordon Jr. also attributed the crisis to low collection rate due to nonpayment or debts incurred by consumers, widespread energy theft and corruption in the PUD .

The situation worsened because of interests imposed by Private Sector Assets and Liabilities Managaement Corp. (PSALM), the refusal of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to grant an increase in power rates, and the years of delay in the PUD’s privatization.

Gordon said the debts started piling up during the term of his predecessor and sister-in-law, Kate Gordon, with the city posting P200 million in obligation to National Power Corp.

Even then, the 65-year-old system of the PUD that was inherited from the Americans was showing signs of heavy system losses, along with issues of corruption attached to the agency, he said.

“My predecessors were lucky because when the US naval base was still around, the Americans virtually took care of [the system’s] maintenance. When transformers were needed, these were given to us by the Americans,” he said.

Gordon said Olongapo enjoyed one of the lowest electricity rates in Central Luzon and increasing these to get much-needed revenue did not happen because the ERC refused to allow it without pouring investments into the rehabilitation of the system to make it more efficient.

At least P1 billion had to be spent in modernizing the PUD, money that the city government simply did not have, he said.


As a result, Gordon said that from the start of his three terms as mayor in 2004, the privatization of the PUD was a priority.

“I knew it would lead to more and bigger problems if the PUD was not privatized. There will be uncontrolled blackouts as the infrastructure breaks down. The debts will also pile up due to the high system losses and low collection rate, together with the compounding interest rates that power suppliers were imposing,” he said.

Gordon said privatization was the key to solving the power distribution problem. “But from the beginning, there was resistance [not only by the political opposition] but also by the PUD workers, who relied on [the department] for their income,” he said.

But Mayor Rolen Paulino, the city’s former vice mayor, blamed the Gordon administration for the power debt not only for the technical losses but for engaging in “corruption and patronage politics for subsidizing [local and national government entities].”

Paulino acknowledged that he was initially against the PUD’s privatization. “But when I saw that the local government was not able to address the [widespread] corruption in the power distribution system, it was then that I supported privatization,” he said.

He said it was also not true that it was delayed due to the opposition in the city council.

Gordon insisted that Paulino and then Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay, including opposition councilors in the minority, had opposed the privatization and delayed it.

“This could have been done a long time ago. The reason why I ran for congressman was that I was fighting for debt condonation by PSALM, and to ensure that a congressional franchise was given to the winning bidder of the privatization. All this was delayed for many years, making the situation worse and unmanageable,” he said.

Gordon said it was only when San Miguel Energy Corp. became part of Olongapo Electricity Distribution Co. Inc. (OEDC) when it acquired a minority share in the company did Magsaysay endorse OEDC’s franchise in Congress.

25-year franchise

The PUD was sold for P610 million to OEDC, which was given a 25-year franchise to take over the city’s power distributor.

Gordon said that by the time Magsaysay supported the privatization, the PUD’s debt had become so huge and the power outages so frequent.

He said the political opposition capitalized on this issue and used it to topple the Gordons from power in the last elections. Gordon lost in Zambales’ first congressional district race while his wife, Anne Marie, lost in the mayoral race.

Gordon, however, said he tried to make several changes in the PUD, including replacing its manager, to help address the technical issues confronting the system.

The new manager, Louie Lopez, an electrical engineer, said the system losses were “much higher than 35 percent.” This meant that if Olongapo bought P100 million worth of electricity from suppliers, the losses would immediately translate to P35 million for every month of operation, he said.

Out of P100 million worth of electricity that the PUD sold to consumers monthly, it would earn only about P5 million due to the low rate, he said.

“And coupled with the collection or payment rate of consumers of about 50 percent, the PUD was not only sustaining substantial losses but also racking up huge debts,” he added.

Jose Abaya, OEDC president, said his firm confirmed that the PUD was indeed suffering from heavy system loss.

“The cap of maximum allowed system loss set by the ERC is at 8.5 percent for private utilities and 13 percent for electric cooperatives. This means that losses above the cap are shouldered by the utility as losses in its operations,” he said in a statement.

“When a utility is suffering from high system loss, it is financially crippling … because it cannot recover the cost of power it has purchased from suppliers. It could not collect the right amount from its customers,” he said.

“High system loss also contributes to potential debts to power suppliers. If the utility with very high losses can only pay the generator based on the amount collected from its customers, then there will always be a balance left unpaid. This cycle will continue and compound until such time the utility can bring down its system losses to the acceptable level of 8.5 percent (for OEDC),” he said.

Lopez said PSALM should also be blamed for the power debt. “They have a disconnection policy. Why weren’t we disconnected when the debt was only about P200 million? Why only now that it has reached billions of pesos? If they disconnected early, then this would not have happened,” he said.

Residents still owe PUD about P120 million, Lopez said. “I’ll endorse that to OEDC so they can cut or collect.”

The receivables, he said, would reach more than P1 billion if these included the consumption of local and national government entities.

PUD racket

Community sources said many households and establishments, with few of them located on Magsaysay Drive, Olongapo’s main street, were under the “protection” of the PUD.

They said these households and establishments, which usually incurred thousands of pesos in power bills every month, were asked to pay only a small percentage of the actual billing in return for commissions to PUD personnel who would reset the meter or take care of the paperwork to reflect the arranged prices.

Sources also said energy theft had been a cottage industry within the PUD for many years. Because of lack of record keeping and infrastructure to digitize billing, records could be easily manipulated or conveniently lost, they said.

When asked about the anomaly, Gordon said: “That’s probably the reason there was so much resistance within the PUD’s privatization. Because they will not only lose their jobs but their other sources of income as well.”

Olongapo has about 40,000 registered consumers of electricity out of a population of 300,000. Thousands of households resort to illegal tapping, Gordon said.

What should be done

Abaya said OEDC must ensure a high collection rate to remedy the situation.

Fast facts
P1.2B -- Total energy purchased from Napocor and PSALM (P100M per month)
P540M -- Amount remitted to Napocor and PSALM (P45M per month)
P660M -- Total unpaid debt (P55M per month)
P420M -- System loss (technical and non-technical)35% or P35M per month

Guide in estimating the monthly electric consumption of appliances
Formula: Estimated monthly consumption+(appliance wattage/1,000) x number of hours use per day x 30 days
Example: 50 watts incandescent bulb at 12 hours use per day
Therefore: (50 watts/1,000)x 12 x 30 =18 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month

Table of appliances and estimated monthly consumption
Name of appliance, Wattage, Number of hours of use per day, Estimated monthly consumption (kWh)
Air-con (3/4 HP), 1,065, 10, 320
Air-con (1 HP), 1,420, 10, 426
Air-con (1.5HP), 2,250, 10, 426
Compact flourescent lamp, 20, 12, 7
Computer with printer, 300, 5, 45
Electric fan 12-inch, 60, 10, 18
Flat iron, 1,000, 1, 30
Fluorescent lamp 40 W, 53, 12, 19
Freezer, chest 12CF, 200, 20, 120
Halogen lamp, 600, 12, 216
Incandescent bulb, 50, 12, 18
Mercury bulb, 160, 12, 58
Refrigerator 7CF, 140, 20, 84
Refrigerator 10 CF, 200, 20, 120
Rice cooker 1 Ltr, 650, 1, 20
Sodium lamp, 250, 12, 90
Washing machine automatic, 435, 1, 13
Water dispenser, 300, 20, 180
Television 21-inch, 120, 5, 18
SOURCE: Olongapo Electricity Distribution Co. Inc


 on: July 19, 2013, 10:04:17 AM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From a report by Anthony Bayarong on Sunstar:

A locator inside Subic Bay Freeport has proposed to dredge the river channel for free in an attempt to alleviate the worsening flood situation in the city.

The proposal was announced by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Roberto Garcia during his courtesy call to Olongapo mayor Rolen Paulino.

Garcia said that CST Bluemax Subic Inc. would dredge the river channel as part of their corporate social responsibility which would cost an estimated P11 million.

Olongapo has a long history of flood, the worst recorded last year.

Olongapo City vice mayor Rodel Cerezo (left), SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia (Center) and Mayor Rolen Paulino (left) inspect a map of the city for the proposed free dredging operation offered by a locator inside Subic freeport.(Anthony Bayarong)

Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino welcomed the proposal saying that the city needs all the help it can get in cleaning up the river channel.

“We are very much thankful for this proposal, if we (local government) dredge that portion of the river it would cost us million of pesos, but here come a locator inside Subic Freeport that is willing to dredge it for free, what more can we ask for.” Paulino said.

“We will do our part to make this proposal push through,” he added.

Garcia explained that in exchange, Bluemax will have the right to market the good quality sand since the company is currently engaged in shipping and selling volcanic sand from Zambales as a reclamation and construction material to Singapore.

The dredging of the river channel between SBMA and Olongapo City was identified as a priority project of SBMA through the Governance Committee of the Board of Directors which formulated the Task Force Subic Bay Clean Up and Rehabilitation.

Garcia also in the meeting pledge his full support for the administration of Paulino. (Anthony Bayarong/Sunnex)


 on: July 11, 2013, 12:36:42 PM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From a report by Kim Patria on Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom:

A Philippine carrier may again fly into European skies after more than three years of being banned.

This, as the European Commission on Wednesday partially lifted restrictions which have kept Pinoy airlines from flying to European Union (EU) states.
Lucio Tan-controlled Philippine Airlines may now resume flights to EU territories, after having been removed from the “EU air safety list.”
The Commission in March 2010 included all carriers from the Philippines in the list, following poor results from an audit by the International Civil Aviation Authority.
“Today we confirmed our willingness to remove Philippines airlines from the list as they show real commitment and capacity to implement international safety standards in a sustainable manner,” the Commission said.
The decision was based on “improvements in the safety situation in the Philippines” as observed by experts’ on-site safety assessment visit in June.
It takes into account better oversight by state aviation authorities and PAL’s ability to ensure “effective compliance with relevant aviation safety regulations,” the Commission said.
All other Philippine air carriers in the list however remain in the list, with EU stressing the need for further progress to reach compliance with safety rules.
Ambassador Guy Ledoux of the EU Delegation to the Philippines welcomed the new development, congratulating the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
“This is a confirmation of the great work performed by our Filipino partners, especially CAAP and Philippines Airlines, in addressing air safety issues,” he noted.


 on: July 07, 2013, 06:16:42 PM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From SubicNewsLink:

In an effort to strengthen further the agency’s good governance platform,Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia recently signed a pledge to practice ethical business and good corporate governance, joining a growing number of ethically-conscious business leaders who aspire to create positive change in the country.

The SBMA chairman was joined by SBMA directors Joseph Khonghun and Joven Reyes during the signing of the so-called Integrity Pledge with Makati Business Club executive director Peter Perfecto last week to set the tone from the top and commit the SBMA and all its officers and employees to behave with integrity and to carry on their responsibilities ethically.

“This is in consonance with the agency’s corporate governance initiative and in line with the national government’s platform of good corporate governance,” Garcia explained. “We’d like to stress here that transparency and accountability make perfect business sense,” he added.

 Garcia said the Integrity Program is the latest in a series of moves by SBMA officials to instil a culture of transparency and accountability in the Subic Bay Freeport, a growing hub for business and industry.

“This is a very important step,” Garcia said. “Aside from seeking to strengthen the agency’s corporate governance initiatives, this is expected to create a more conducive investment climate in the Subic Freeport, which is what we’re after in the first place.”

Following the signing of the Integrity Pledge, Garcia said that he would require SBMA departments to come up with appropriate internal systems and controls to prevent, detect, and respond to any unethical conduct by employees; ensure good governance; and institutionalize the values of integrity and accountability in their business transactions.

“We also hope that this would set the ball rolling and inspire companies and agencies in Subic to do the same. We aim to prove that transparency, honesty and fairness can produce good results,” the SBMA official added.

 The Integrity Initiative is a program developed by Transparency International (TI) as a tool aimed at preventing corruption in public contracting.

 The adoption by SBMA of the integrity program has been recommended by experts from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), as well as Joel Ehrendreich, counselor for economic affairs at the US Embassy, who discussed the program during a visit in September last year. (HEE/MPD-SBMA)


 on: June 27, 2013, 10:07:46 AM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From a report by Nikko Dizon on the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

‘War games not meant to intimidate China’

The Philippine Navy’s flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, is back in the waters near Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), this time not for a face-off with Chinese warships over disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) but for five days of joint maneuvers with the United States Navy.

The Philippines’ first warship will be participating in war games with a fleet of American naval vessels led by the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald.

Panatag Shoal is a reef in the Philippine Sea claimed by both the Philippines and China and was the site of a maritime standoff between the two countries that lasted more than two months last year.

Far from Panatag

But the war games will take place 108 kilometers away from the disputed shoal, Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, spokesman for the Philippine Navy, said last week.

With the joint maneuvers playing out that far from the shoal, reportedly still guarded by three Chinese coastal patrol vessels, the Philippines and the United States do not expect China to view the exercises as “intimidation,” Fabic said.

The war games, called Exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) 2013, begin Thursday and will run up to July 2.

Fabic said holding Carat near Panatag Shoal and other areas off northern Luzon had been planned long before the standoff with China at the reef last year.

The Naval Forces Northern Luzon is the primary Philippine Navy unit responsible for the exercise.

“The Carat 2013 major objectives are to enhance the current Philippine Navy and US capabilities in naval operations … such as communication, naval gunnery, at-sea operations, maritime interdiction and humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations and  increase the level of interoperability between the Philippine Navy and the US Navy in the conduct of combined naval operations,” a statement from the Naval Forces Northern Luzon said Wednesday.

It said the exercises would include in-port and at-sea events, individual and unit training, and engagement with the local community, among other activities.

Aside from BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), a PN Aircraft (Islander), Special Boat Team, Diving Team of Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG), Construction Team from the Naval Engineers and Philippine Marine Corps company will participate in the military exercises “to test their readiness and capability,” the Navy said.

It added that the Philippine Coast Guard would have one of its flagships, the BRP Edsa, joining the war games, as well as a helicopter, its diving team, and a visit, board, search and seizure team.

Aside from the USS Fitzgerald, the US Navy will have its salvage ships, the USNS Safeguard and USNS Salvor in the waters off Zambales.

Members of the US Marine Corps and other specialized personnel will also participate in the war games.

The USS Fitzgerald was sent to the Korean Peninsula last April amid tensions between South and North Korea. It also participated in the joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, rankling the North.

In arbitration

Technically, the Philippines and China remain in a standoff at Panatag Shoal.

Philippine ships withdrew from the shoal in mid-June last year at the height of a storm to ease tensions in the area.

But despite an agreement to withdraw, the Chinese ships never left and even cordoned off the mouth of the shoal’s lagoon to prevent the entry of fishing boats from other countries.

With nothing to match China’s military might, the Philippines took the dispute to the United Nations in January for arbitration.

The Philippines and China also have rival claims in the Spratly archipelago, a scattering of islets, reefs and atolls in the middle of the West Philippine Sea believed to be sitting atop vast deposits of oil and gas.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim parts of the Spratlys in rivalry with China, which claims nearly all of the sea as its territory.

Japan’s defense chief

China is also locked in a territorial dispute with Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea known to the Japanese as the Senkakus but which the Chinese call Diaoyus.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin is meeting Thursday with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who is visiting the Philippines for two days.

Whether the meeting between Gazmin and Onodera has to do with their countries’ territorial dispute with China is unclear, as there was no word about it in the advisory issued by the Department of National Defense on Wednesday.

A recent news report from Japan Times ( said that Onodera “plans to discuss with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin the current tensions in the region and to work out a coordinated response toward China.”

But even this was unofficial, as the Japanese report quoted an unnamed government source.

From Manila, Onodera will fly to Hawaii supposedly to discuss with US officials its territorial row with China.

Wednesday’s advisory said that Onodera will arrive at the defense department at 10 a.m. and will be given arrival honors.

Limited press con

Onodera will meet with journalists after his call and lunch with Gazmin.

The advisory said Onodera would entertain “a maximum of two questions each from the Japanese media (including members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines) and Filipino defense reporters.


 on: June 25, 2013, 03:57:57 PM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From Sunstar:

THE Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) issued a final notice of disconnection to the City of Olongapo to settle its power liabilities amounting to P5.08 billion.

Olongapo City Mayor-elect Rolen Paulino read the notice of disconnection during their session Wednesday.

In the letter signed by Psalm CEO Emanuel Ledesma Jr., the notice read: “We advise you to immediately comply/settle your outstanding obligation as of 31 May 2013 amounting to P5,082,748,552.33 billion within five days from receipt of this notice (June 20,2013).”

It added that “failure to do so shall result in the disconnection of your facility from the transmission/distribution network by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippine (NGCP).”

Olongapo recently sold its Public Utilities Department (PUD) in charge of the power distribution and collection of the city to Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco).

In February, the Department of Energy (DOE) warned Olongapo City that it would be cut off from the grid for its P4.6 billion power debt before election.

DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said that Olongapo has incurred P4 billion in electric debt with Psalm, adding that the power corporation is “poised to issue” a notice of disconnection in February.

When the issue went public in February, Olongapo City Administrator Ferdie Magrata issued a statement saying “the debt was caused by supplying power to the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the schools in the city.”

“Do we just cut off the power of these national agencies just because they can’t pay? We can’t just do that. They are providing a vital service for the community,” he said.

Magrata added that the report was part of a smear campaign to discredit incumbent Mayor James Gordon Jr. (Anthony Bayarong/Sunnex)



 on: June 25, 2013, 10:35:11 AM 
Started by Forum Admin - Last post by Forum Admin
From Businessworld:

UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE to a three-year high in April, the government yesterday reported, despite a continuing run of strong economic growth.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) said the jobless rate, based on its latest Labor Force Survey had climbed to 7.5%, the highest since April 2010’s 8%. It was 6.9% a year earlier.

A total of 3.1 million, out of the work force of 64 million Filipinos aged 15 and above, were said to be unemployed, up from 2.8 million 12 months ago. This was despite the 7.8% economic growth seen in the first quarter and 2012’s upwardly revised 6.8%.

With the unemployment rate higher, employment declined to 92.5% in April from 93.1% the previous year. The underemployment rate, meanwhile, improved slightly to 19.2% from 19.3%.

"Alarming development: unemployment rose both in percentage and absolute terms. In a country with a growing population and labor force, this is a dangerous development. And to think this happened during the election period, which usually generates short-term election-related jobs!" said Rene E. Ofreneo, labor economist at the University of the Philippines.

"Most of the decline occurred in agriculture, which tells us that not everything is okay in this sector," he added.

The NSO, in a statement, said many agricultural workers found themselves out of work. Their number shrank to an estimated 11.844 million as of April, down by 624,000 from 12.468 million a year earlier.

Rosemarie G. Edillion, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) assistant director-general, said farmers had modified their planting calendar in preparation for an El Niño.

"We didn’t actually have an El Niño but you may recall that we suffered [from] intense heat ... especially in Northern Luzon...," she added.

Ms. Edillion pointed out that farmers also changed their planting schedule in 2010 when 802,000 jobs in the agriculture sector were lost, lifting the unemployment rate to 8%.

Emmanuel F. Esguerra, NEDA deputy director-general, said an effective disaster response system was "imperative."

Also noting the seasonality of jobs in the agriculture sector, Mr. Esguerra added that "greater diversification of agricultural production and further processing of byproducts should be encouraged."

President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, meanwhile, said the net loss of some 21,000 positions was "insignificant," claiming that millions of new jobs had been created in the last two years.

"Can I just add that in the two years between 2010 and 2012, the net new jobs generated totaled 1.57 million?" Mr. Aquino told reporters after inspecting the new Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental.

"The number of new persons employed in the wage and salary category -- an indicator of quality of jobs -- increased by 1.99 million during the same period," Mr. Aquino added.

The NSO estimated the total employed as of April at 37.819 million, 21,000 less than the 37.84 million in the previous year. Around 53% of the total were in the services sector, 31% in agriculture sector and 16% in industry.

The service and industry sectors picked up the slack in the agriculture sector, with the service sector generating 380,000 additional jobs and the industry sector 224,000.

By occupation, laborers and unskilled workers comprised around 33% of the employed; government and private sector workers, 16%; and farmers, forestry workers and fishermen, 13%.

The NSO said workers in government and private establishments "increased markedly," while farmers, forestry workers, fishermen, laborers and unskilled workers "recorded a significant drop in size."

By class, wage and salary workers comprised 57.5% of the employed, up from 55.8%.

While this indicated an improvement in the quality of employment, the NEDA’s Mr. Esguerra stressed that "increasing the number of employers" remained critical.

"The country should continually entice domestic and foreign investors by reducing institutional and administrative impediments to doing business, and through the timely implementation and completion of infrastructure projects," he said. -- Trishia P. Octaviano with Noemi M. Gonzales


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