Sunday, December 04, 2005

BoC seized P500m worth of goods

By Lawrence Agcaoili Manila Standard Today

The Bureau of Customs seized in 10 months only P500 million of the about P100 billion worth of smuggled goods in the country every year.

Customs officer-in-charge Alexander Arevalo said the goods were intercepted in several ports all over the country.

“We have seized a total of almost P500 million worth of smuggled goods at the ports,” he said.

The BoC, according to him, like any other customs agencies in the world, could only expect a maximum of 5 percent to 10 percent of all shipments.

“Let me clarify that in order to address the issue of smuggling requires a lot of sophistication. The BoC and any customs agency in the world can only inspect a maximum of 5 to 10 percent of all shipments,” Arevalo stressed.

To address this, Arevalo pointed out the agency expects to complete its computerization program by the middle of next year.

He said seven new containerized X-ray machines would be installed in five major ports by the second or third quarter of next year.

“I would like to call it a paradox of smuggling. The measure of accomplishment in smuggling is that you only accomplish when you don’t catch anything anymore,” he said.

The government loses between P100 billion and P150 billion in potential revenues due to rampant smuggling. The amount is enough to almost wipe out the country’s yawning budget deficit.

The government is losing as much as P9.5 billion in potential revenues every year from oil smuggling alone. Losses last year comprised of P7 billion in excise tax payments and P2.5 billion in import duties.

12 Olongapo jail inmates escape

Twelve prisoners escaped after destroying the roof of the main detention building Friday night in Olongapo City, police said.

Sketchy reports reaching Camp Crame operations center identified the escapees as a certain Ali, Alvin Batua, Marlon Bagting, Reneboy Dagamat, Sonny Francisco, Abdrul Rakman, all facing charges on illegal drugs; Billy Udtuhan, murder; Roderick Tiu, parricide and abortion; Joseph Ramirez, robbery with homicide; Ronald Aquino, robbery with multiple homicide and Delio Quinagin and Allan Cuanzon, rape.

It was learned that the escapees managed to flee by making an improvised wooden bridge which they used to climb the roof of the female detention building and main perimeter fence.

Jail guards only discovered the jail break during a head count of the prisoners.

Police operatives are currently conducting a follow-up operation for the immediate arrest of the prisoners. (Francis T. Wakefield) TEMPO

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Customs seizes P30 million in ‘ukay-ukay’ shipment

By William B. Depasupil, Manila Times Reporter

MEMBERS of the Customs enforcement and intelligence group seized over the weekend P30-million worth of a shipment misdeclared as personal effects which turned out to be bales of banned used clothing and other highly taxable goods.

Customs Commissioner Alexander Arevalo said what caught the attention of customs examiners was the consignee of the shipment—a Shell gasoline station in Pampanga.

“What will a gas station do with millions worth of ukay-ukay?” Arevalo told The Manila Times.

The importation of used clothing is prohibited under the law. It is allowed only in certain cases, such as donations. A permit has to be secured from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Arevalo said he had directed Deputy Commissioner Celso Templo to investigate the smuggling attempt to identify the persons behind the crime and their links to Customs officials.

The goods, which came from the United States, were first shipped to Cebu and diverted to North Harbor onboard a native vessel to make it appear that the items were domestically made.

Last week seven container vans of used clothing worth at least P150 million were intercepted at the Manila International Container Port.

Customs sources said the shipments were brokered by a woman popularly known in customs circles as “ukay-ukay and resins queen,” with close ties to certain Customs officials.

Templo said the contraband was concealed in several balikbayan boxes inside a 40-container van.

Smugglers are using different tactics to smuggle contraband, which are in demand in the native market during the holiday season.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

2005 Volunteers' Day Photos

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Mayor Bong Gordon leads the volunteers from Olongapo City

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Re-enacting the 1992 turn-over ceremony raising of Philippine flag

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The Original SBMA flag raised beside the National Flag

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Court lifts TRO stopping construction of SM Clark

CLARK ZONE, Pampanga — The construction work on the R500-million SM City Clark project here resumed yesterday after the mall owner made a partial payment of R1.68-million fees being collected by the Angeles City government.

The construction was stopped last week by a 20-day temporary restraining order issued by the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City on the petition of the city government.

The Office of the City Building Official had computed the amount of the fees at R1.68 million that should be paid by the owner.

But because of the delay in the payment, the city government has imposed a 100 percent surcharge. This caused the amount of the fees to balloon to more than R3.3 million.

But reports stated the owner of the building, Premier Central Inc. (PCI), made the partial payment of the fees "under protest" to enable New Golden City Builders Development Corp. (NGCBDC) – the contractor — to continue the construction of the building and meet the scheduled April 2006 opening.

Regional Trial Court Branch 58 Judge Philbert Yturralde issued last Nov. 10 the 20-day TRO stopping the construction of the SM Clark project following a petition filed by Mayor Carmelo Lazatin.

Clark Development Corp. (CDC) President Antonio Ng said the construction work on the mall resumed last Friday after the PCI made the partial payment and posted bond.

Before the start of the construction, the mall owner paid more than R1.5 million in fees to state-owned CDC for the various required permits for the project.

Earlier, Ng was also informed that the construction firm is losing millions of pesos daily as a result of the stoppage of the construction of mall building. NGCBDC was tapped by PCI to construct the mall located at a 25-hectare area in Clark.

Ng said CDC lawyers are coordinating with the Office of Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) on the preparation of a legal opinion regarding the jurisdiction of CDC over the location of SM project.

In the petition, the city government argued that that the construction firm must secure the necessary license from Angeles City before any construction could be undertaken in the disputed area.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

How r u der?


Subject: How r u der?
What would you do if every time you wanted someone they would never be there?
What would you do if for every moment you were truly happy there would be 10 moments of sadness?

What would you do if your best friend died tomorrow and you never got to tell them how you felt?
So, I just wanted to say, even if I never talk to you again in my life, you are special to me and you have made a difference in my life.

I look up to you, respect you, and truly cherish you.
Send this to all your friends, no matter how often you talk, or how close you are, and send it to the person who sent it to you.
Let old friends know you haven't forgotten them, and tell new friends you never will.
Remember, everyone needs a friend, someday you might feel like you have NO FRIENDS at all, just remember this e-mail and take comfort in knowing somebody out there cares about you and always will.

I'll Always Be There
In times of trouble,
In times of need,
If you are feeling SAD,
You can count on me.
I will give you a wink,
Until you smile,
give you a hug,
And stand by your side.
I'll be there for you till the end,
I'll always and forever, be your friend!

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Please Inform all your Female Friends!!!

Please Inform all your Female Friends!!!
This message may no longer be useful to us either because we don't go to beer joints and we only attend to parties the attendance of which is a known crowd but we can pass this on to our daughters, sons, nieces and nephews who are still very much involved in parties and other activities where the participants are not that familiar o them. They better be aware than regret later.
A woman at a bar on a Saturday night was taken by 5 men, who, according to hospital and police reports, gang raped her before dumping her. Unable to remember the events of the evening, tests later confirmed the repeat rapes, along with traces of Rohypnol in her blood and Progesterex, essentially a small sterilization pill.
The drug is now being used by rapists at parties to rape AND sterilize their victims. Progesterex is available to vets to sterilize large animals.
Progesterex is being used together with Rohypnol, the date rape drug.
As with Rohypnol, all they have to do is drop it into the girl's drink. The girl can't remember a thing the next morning, of all that had taken place the night before. Progesterex, which dissolves in drinks just as easily, is such that the victim doesn't get pregnant; she won't conceive from the rape and the rapist needn't worry about having a paternity test identifying him months later.
The drug's effects ARE NOT TEMPORARY - They are P*E*R*M*A*N*E*N*T!!!
Progesterex was designed to sterilize horses..
Any female who takes it will NEVER BE ABLE TO CONCEIVE... The weasels can get this drug from anyone who is in the vet school or any university. It's that easy, and Progesterex is about to break out big on campuses everywhere. Believe it or not, there are even sites on the Internet telling people how to use it.
Please forward this to everyone you know, especially girls.. Be careful when you're out and don't leave your drink unattended.
Please make the effort to forward this on to all you know... Guys, please inform all your female friends and relatives!
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P175B lost yearly to technical smuggling—Roxas

By Patricia Esteves, Manila Times Reporter

SEN. Mar Roxas reiterated his appeal to the government to address the problem of smuggling, saying it would save the country a lot of revenues.

“If you add up and collect all the government revenues lost to smuggling, there is no need to impose new taxes to fund the budget,” Roxas said.

He said the Senate Committees on Trade and Commerce and on Economic Affairs, which he both chairs, recently recommended the adop­tion of Senate Bill 2154, seeking to amend the Tariff and Customs Code to curb smuggling.

He pointed out that billions of revenues are lost to smuggling in industries based on the information given during hearings and technical working group meetings conducted by his committees.

“In technical smug­gling alone, about P175 billion in revenues is lost every year. The amount is double the P80 billion in revenues expected from EVAT,” he said.

Technical smuggling is the evasion of correct duties and taxes through undervaluation, misdeclaration and misclassification.

“The bloated fiscal deficit is partly due to smuggling and its close cousins are graft and corruption,” Roxas said. “Undeclared, misdeclared or misclassified commodities, which enter the country without proper payment of duties, have caused the economy to recoil.

Corruption lies at the very center of smuggling activities,” he said.

Roxas said it’s not yet too late to stop smuggling by establishing a legislative strategy that promotes transparency, accountability and efficiency in customs transactions.

“The idea is to jumpstart policy maneuvers that would promote three categories of intervention: Preventive, or measures designed to keep irregularities from occurring; detective, or measures to discover errors and irregularities that have already occurred; and corrective, or measures designed to provide a remedy for detected errors or irregularities,” Roxas said.

He suggested to the government to enlist the help of the oversight anti­smug­gling body being sought by businessmen and industry leaders to look into the activities in customs-bonded warehouses and their unliquidated balances could help speed up the resolution of smuggling cases.

Under the existing laws, penalties and punishment on smugglers are very lax

SEAG torch relay big hit in Cebu

CEBU - The torch relay of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games was a big hit here as it lured hundreds of people from all walks of life since it began late Saturday afternoon. Following a short ceremony, Mandaue City councilor Carlo Fortuna and City sports chairwoman Cheryl Ouano formally received the official torch from Danao city councilor Boying Rodriguez.

"We’re very inspired feeling the support of our fellow Cebuanos," said Fortuna, also the president of the Philippine Councilor League. "Our motorcade covered a six kilometer route and thousands of people joined us," added the 33-year-old councilor.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman William "Butch" Ramirez made an inspiring speech during the program, praising the dedication and determination of Mandaue to host the two sporting events of karatedo and judo.

Other sports scheduled in Cebu are mountain bike (Danao), sepak takraw (University of San Carlos), dance sport (Waterfront) and pencak silat (Cebu Coliseum).

"I’m happy to see how my fellow Cebuanos really worked hard for this event. We are now looking for Bacolod, Subic and Manila to follow this kind of preparation which is very impressive," Ramirez said.

On the other hand, PSC commissioner Richie Garia, who is also the Philippine SEAG Committee (PHILSOC) sports operation chairman, said venues in the Queen City of the South are now close to being finished.

Cebu is staging the combat sports of karatedo, judo, pencak silat, dance sport, mountain bike and sepak takraw.

"As far as preparations are concerned, Cebu is very much ready," said Garcia. "All the equipment needed are now in Manila and shipments of it like the different gadgets, time clock and everything concerning the six events to be held here will be arriving anytime now."

The mats to be used in pencak silat, karatedo and judo, Garcia added, are arriving in the coliseums of Cebu and Mandaue this weekend.

Meanwhile, the bicycles to be used in Danao for the mountain bike event are likewise already in Manila.

"We just need minor refurbishing before Cebu makes the green light," Garcia said.

Promotions and advertisements of the SEA Games here are also now in full swing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

New gov't rules on dual citizenship elate Fil-Ams

By TJ Burgonio, Inquirer News Service

THOUGH "upset" about the lingering political crisis back home, Filipino-Americans are aching to go back to the Philippines, retrace their roots and touch base with relatives.

Now, revised immigration rules will smooth the way for the Fil-Ams' homecoming dream.

"Thanks to this new requirement, more people like myself can start thinking to come back to the Philippines," US-based Loida Nicolas Lewis told reporters at the Senate recently.

Thanking Drilon

Lewis, together with Undersecretary Jose Molano Jr. of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, called on Senate President Franklin Drilon to thank him for prodding the Bureau of Immigration to relax the rules.

On Nov. 1, the Bureau of Immigration issued a circular requiring Filipino-Americans to merely present old passports, birth certificates, voter's affidavits or marriage contracts, or any document to prove that they were born in the Philippines when reapplying for citizenship.

Old rules

It was a complete departure from the old rules that required applicants to present birth certificates authenticated by the National Statistics Office, a process which the Filipino-Americans found tedious.

Filipinos who live abroad are dismayed with the crisis still roiling the Arroyo administration, Lewis, chair of the Washington-based National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (Naffaa), said.

"Observing the Philippines abroad, we are upset and frustrated that there is a constant intramural going on. We're facing a lot of problems. Why don't we unite and move the country forward?" she said.

But with the relaxation of the rules, Filipino-Americans now have a reason to come home, invest and, eventually, settle here, according to Lewis.

"It's good news for the country because most of us -- I'm speaking for my generation -- professionals left the country from the '60s, '70s, '80s. Now it's 2005, we have reached the sunset years of our lives and we're starting to think where we will retire. Florida, Southern California, Texas? Why not the Philippines?" she said.

"In the US, we have $1,000 social security benefit. In the Philippines, that is P50,000. So it's better if we come back here."

Owning land

Until the BI relaxed its rules, Filipino-Americans' attempts at starting businesses and acquiring property in the Philippines had been hobbled by their being naturalized Americans, Lewis said.

"The biggest stumbling block is that we're American citizens. Those who made good but left without any land could not acquire land. We can buy a condo but we could not acquire land," she said.

College in Sorsogon

In her case, Lewis established a college in Sorsogon province in 1999, but could not own a single share because she was an American citizen.

Of the 2.5 million former Filipino citizens living in the United States, Canada and Australia, only 2,500 have so far availed themselves of dual citizenship because of the "tedious process" at the BI, according to Drilon.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

94th Anniversary of the Young Men’s Christian Association

THE Young Men’s Christian Association of the Philippines was established on November 10, 1911, through the efforts of Justice Frederick C. Fisher and Don Teodoro R. Yangco. It traces its roots to the YMCA that was founded by George Williams in London on June 6, 1844. He established this association in response to the unhealthy social conditions that arose in big cities as a result of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 17501850) to help the rural youth who flocked to the cities in search of work.

Started as an evangelical activity, YMCA is distinguished by its being non-sectarian, non-denominational, and non-racial. It’s openness in accepting all, regardless of race, religion, nationality, and social classes, attracted widespread support. Branches of YMCA sprouted. It was established in America in 1851. In 1866, it adopted YMCA-New York’s aims of improving the spiritual, mental, social and physical condition of young men. Succeeding years saw the broadening of YMCA’s youth programs. Soon, it was not only the needs of the youth but also meeting the needs of the community became a byword in YMCA activities. Character development is an integral part of YMCA programs.

What distinguished YMCA was its focus on group and community activities and its promotion of moral values among the youth. Thus, group activities were promoted and YMCA introduced many new ideas and practices. Foremost of YMCA’s innovative programs was its invention and popularization of basketball and volleyball. It also started the yearly celebration of Father’s Day.

Today, YMCA in the Philippines and in the many lands where its branches exist is in the vanguard of promoting group activities such as recreation, health and literacy, development education, sports and fitness, skills and training in leadership development. They are complemented by YMCA’s thrusts in community development, community organizing, livelihood initiatives, cooperatives, etc. Truly, YMCA is engaged in re-engineering human society, to make it more humane, compassionate, caring.

We congratulate the Officers and Members of Young Men’s Christian Association of the Philippines headed by its President Nemesio G. Co in their celebration of its 94th Anniversary

Retraction will not sink rape case, says DOJ

JUSTICE Secretary Raul Gonzalez yesterday said the alleged rape case slapped by a 22-year-old Filipina against six US Marines will push through despite the reported retraction by a driver who witnessed the alleged crime of his affidavit.

Gonzalez said a retraction would not cause the dismissal of the case as prosecutors still have the complaint from the victim and other physical evidence that will be presented against US servicemen Albert Lara, Keith Silkwood, Daniel Smith, Corey Barris, Chad Carpenter and Dominic Duplantis.

Subpoenas were served to them Tuesday through the US Embassy which has them in custody.

The accused were participants of the recently concluded US Talon and amphibious landing military exercises.

Gonzalez said while the statement of Timoteo Soriano, the driver of the Starex van that was rented by the Americans and where the alleged rape took place on Nov. 1, would help strengthen the case, it is just a "bonus" as most rape cases have no witnesses except for the complainant and alleged offender.

"There are these developments that we have no control of at this point. But right now, the victim I think is very firm so whether this driver recants or not I think we still have a case," he said in a press conference in Malacañang.

He said he has yet to see the alleged retraction of Soriano.

He earlier said Soriano could be charged with perjury and as an accomplice if he would retract his statement. Soriano in a recent TV interview changed his initial statement that there was gang rape, saying the victim was "having fun" with the suspects.

Gonzalez also said that while the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) allows the accused to remain in US custody while the case is on trial, it would not prevent the Philippines from convicting and insisting that the US soldiers serve their sentence if they are found guilty.

"If there is a conviction, if there is no appeal for example, the judgment of the court will have to be followed. That is when they must be surrendered already. (During) the duration of the trial, they can keep custody. But after the trial, they must surrender custody," he said.

Gonzalez said the US government, invoking provisions of the VFA, earlier requested for custody of the US soldiers, which the Philippine government could not refuse.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said it was premature and unfair to say there would be a whitewash of the case as investigation is still being conducted.

Ermita said they expect continued mass actions and "a lot howl from different sectors" because of the case. He said they are just hoping that the opposition would not exploit the issue.

"I can only say maybe we should await the action of government as well as reactions coming from the US side … before we can even make any judgment on the outcome of the case," he said.

"While we wait for justice to take its course, let us do our best to respect the victim’s right to privacy and the suspects’ right to a fair and impartial hearing. Be assured that the DOJ will be providing constant updates on this case," he added.

The justice department said daily hearings wil be held to make sure that the VFA provision for criminal cases to be resolved in a year will be met.

Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño said the prosecution and the defense could jointly ask the Supreme Court to designate a special court to hear the rape case.

Zuño also said the accused need not be physically present during the preliminary hearings on November 23 and 29 at the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office, and they may submit their sworn statements before any prosecutor outside the premises of the US embassy.

This is so because the US Embassy is considered US territory, he said.

"The moment we find probable cause and there is strong evidence and it’s been affirmed by court, the court may assert its authority over the case. The VFA can’t compromise the decision of court… The law of the land supersedes any treaties," he said.

Zuño said appearing before a prosecutor to give their counter-affidavits would work to the advantage of the accused American soldiers because the case would then be weighed not just on the evidence presented by the complainant.

"The accused can just subscribe to their counter-affidavit. They can submit it to the city prosecutor or any prosecutor, unless they decided to waive their right and wait for the resolution of the DOJ. They can decide to wait for the court trial, but only as a defense," he said.

He said he has received information that the US soldiers are going to engage the services of a local law firm to represent them in the case, rather than an American, who would have to get Philippine bar accreditation.

The victim’s mother has sought legal assistance from Sen. Richard Gordon.

"Inasmuch as we would want to protect my daughter and our family from further dilemma, we deem it appropriate to seek professional help in order for us to deal with or cope with the situation," the mother said in a Nov. 4 letter to Gordon.

Gordon’s help was sought in his capacity as chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross. Gordon acted on the request before he left for Korea on official business.

In a statement, Gordon said he has asked three lawyer-friends to help the family.

"We are already coordinating with three lawyers who have all agreed to help the victim in this case. The PNRC being a humanitarian organization is committed to assisting victims of all kinds of injustices," Gordon said.

Gordon refused to name the lawyers but said that one of them was a colleague from the ACCRA law office to which he was originally associated. Another is a former head of the legal department of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority of which Gordon was formerly chairman. The third is a lady lawyer who is a bar topnotcher who works at the Supreme Court.

Aside from legal help, Gordon said the PNRC would also provide psychological support such as stress debriefing and counseling.

The victim’s mother lamented that her daughter’s fate is now "gravely challenged following the rape incident."

"As it turned out, the case has become a national issue, eliciting strong reactions and even uproar from various sectors in society… For my daughter, the ordeal of living with fear, depression and humiliation is indeed very painful and even much more agonizing for a mother like me who sees her young daughter in moments of torment and despair," she added.

The mother said the family will pursue the case. "We are very much aware of the consequences that we have to face like the series of investigations, examinations and scrutiny from all concerned agencies and organizations, particularly the media, and all other vital procedures that we need to undergo," she said. – Jocelyn Montemayor Evangeline de Vera and Joan Dairo


Subic rape victim lalaban

(Boyet Jadulco/Tina Mendoza/Rose Miranda/Noel Abuel), Abante on-line

Nanindigan ang pamilya ng 22-anyos na Pinay na diumano’y ginahasa ng 6 US Marines na kanilang itutuloy ang laban at paghahanap ng hustisya sa kabila ng pag-atras ng isang testigo kamakailan.

Sa liham ng ina ng rape victim kay Sen. Richard Gordon na Governor din ng Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) hiningi nito ang tulong ng solon sa kontrobersyal na kasong kinasasangkutan ng kanyang anak.

Ikinuwento nito na ang kanyang anak ay dumaranas ngayon ng pagkatakot, depresyon at kahihiyan dahil sa naging national issue na ang kasong isinampa nito sa anim na Kanong nanggahasa sa kanya noong Undas.

Nangako naman si Gordon na bilang Governor ng PNRC, bibigyan nila ito ng legal at psychological support tulad ng debriefing, counseling at ang titirhan ng biktima at ng pamilya nito sa Olongapo City at sa Metro Manila habang nililitis ang kasong ito.

Samantala, sa rating na 1-10, nasa 8 ang tiyansa na magkaroon ng out-of-court settlement sa kasong rape laban sa 6 na US Marines kung kaya’t nangangailangan ng matinding mass support ang rape victim kun nais na maisulong ang kaso.

Sa Ciudad Fernandina Forum na ginanap sa Greenhills, San Juan, sinabi ni dating VFA Executive Director at kasalukuyang University of the East-College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, na sa laki ng impluwensiya ng Estados Unidos ay hindi imposible na ngayon pa lamang ay nagkakaroon na ng "gapangan" para malinis ang kaso o magkaroon ng amicable settlement.

Bagama’t desidido umano ang biktima na isulong ang kaso ay posible na magdalawang-isip ito sa oras na simulan na ang pormal na paglilitis kung saan malaki ang posibilidad na mailantad na sa publiko ang buong pagkatao kaya’t mahalagang makakuha ito ng suporta sa publiko para maging matatag.


Iginiit ni Valdez na hindi ang US Embassy ang s’yang dapat na magkustodya sa 6 na US Marines dahil hindi ito ang s’yang naaayon sa VFA laws.

Sa ilalim ng VFA rules, ang US military authorities umano ang siyang dapat na magkustodya at hindi ang US Embassy na maituturing na foreign land bagama’t nasa Philippine territory.

Hinamon ni Valdez ang Department of Foreign Affairs na magsampa ng diplomatic protest at hingan ng paliwanag ang Ambassador ng Estados Unidos sa Pilipinas kung bakit nasa US Embassy nanatili ang mga akusado.

Kaugnay nito, sinabi ni Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez na hindi puwedeng gamitin na basehan ang VFA upang makalusot sa parusang bitay ang mga US soldiers.

Sa panayam sa Malacañang, sinabi ni Gonzalez na kahit na may VFA ay may hurisdiksyon ang Philippine government na ipataw ang anumang magiging parusa sa mga Amerikanong sundalo sakaling mapatunayan na nagkasala ang mga ito sa kaso.

Ayon kay Gonzalez, hindi puwedeng i-extradite ang sinumang banyagang akusado kung ang bansa na nagkaso sa mga ito ay may death penalty tulad ng Pilipinas.


Pinag-aaralan na umano ng Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) ang kanilang magiging hatol kay Timotheo Soriano, ang driver ng Starex van na ginamit na sasakyan ng 6 na US Marines sa panghahalay sa Pinay dahil sa ginawa nitong pagbaligtad sa testimonya nito.

Ito ang nabatid ng Abante mula sa isang source, kasabay ng pagsasabing isang grupo ng kababaihan ang nakikipag-ugnayan ngayon sa pamunuan ng ABB, gayundin sa Melito Glor Command ni Gregorio ‘Ka Roger’ Rosal upang idulog ang ginawa umanong ‘kataksilan sa bayan’ ni Soriano

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bush names new envoy to RP

Kenney’s designation most welcome – DFA


United States President George W. Bush has formally announced the nomination of Ambassador Kristie Anne Kenney as the new US ambassador to the Philippines, the US embassy in Manila said yesterday.

"The President intends to nominate Kristie Anne Kenney, of Virginia, to be ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Philippines," the US embassy said in a statement.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Kenney will take over from acting US Ambassador Darryl Johnson, a retired US diplomat tapped by the US State Department to fill the positions of Ambassador Francis Ricciardone and charge d’ affaires Joseph Musso-meli who completed their three-year assignments in the Philippines early this year.

Kenney’s appointment as ambassador will also dispel speculations of strained relations between the Philippines and the US, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said earlier, adding that the senior diplomat is most welcome in the country, having occupied important positions in the US Department of State.

Kenney, a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service, has just completed her assignment as US ambassador to Ecuador. Before that, she served as the Department of State’s senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Kenney has also served as: Economic counselor in Geneva, Switzerland; economic officer in Argentina; and consular officer in Jamaica. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and a master’s degree from Tulane University.

Before Kenney’s formal nomination, several prominent US diplomats have been said to be the next US ambassador to the Philippines, including John Bolton who is now the US ambassador to the United Nations, and Cameron Hume who has assumed his new post as US charge d’ affaires to Sudan.

The US embassy in Manila said there is no definite timeline for Kenney’s arrival in the Philippines, but she is expected to arrive soon.

Ambassador Kenney holds a master’s degree in Latin American studies from Tulane University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Clemson University, where she graduated in 1977. She also attended the National War College and speaks Spanish and French.

She was a page for the US Senate, a tour guide in the US Capitol and an intern in the House of Representatives. Before joining the foreign service, she was a staff member for the Senate Human Resources Committee.

Kenney received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Arnold Raphel Memorial Award (for leadership, motivation and mentoring) and several honors for superior service.

Militants demand end to US military presence in RP


By Veronica Uy, Tetch Torres, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Anthony Deleon, Maila Ager,, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press

LEFT-WING groups on Friday called for the scrapping of an agreement allowing joint exercises between Philippine and US troops after six US Marines allegedly raped a Filipina on All Saints’ Day. Even some legislators condemned the incident, saying it would be a test of the United States’ respect for the Philippine law.

The suspects -- part of a contingent that took part in recent joint counterterrorism exercises -- have been identified and were barred from leaving the country following accusations they raped the woman Tuesday at the sprawling former Subic US naval base north of Manila.

’Out now!’

About 30 activists from the League of Filipino Students and women's rights group Gabriela carried placards saying "US troops out now!" as they tried to march to the seaside US Embassy in Manila but were stopped by police.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo described the alleged assault as a "heinous crime" and the US Embassy in Manila has said it will "fully cooperate" with local authorities in the investigation.

Representative Satur Ocampo of the left-wing Bayan Muna party said in a statement that "more such abuses will recur if the US military presence and exercises in the Philippines continue."

He said abuses by US military personnel recurred due to the joint military exercises “under the ambit of the so-called US war on terror.”

Ocampo called for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which spells out the privileges, immunity and criminal obligations of American troops in the country.

Strong evidence

Zosimo Paredes, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACOM), said the evidence against the suspects was strong.

"There was obviously no consent," he said.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza told in a phone interview Friday that there were witnesses, including the Filipino driver of a rented van where the alleged rape took place.

A condom was even found inside the van, said Arreza.

A medical examination on the woman revealed telltale signs of sexual assault.

Dr. Rolando Ortiz II, head of a medical team which examined the woman, said a thorough examination showed signs of penile penetration, and her body bore a number of contusions.

In an interview with INQ7.Net, Ortiz said the victim was badly bruised. "The victim had contusions on her left and right forearms, some parts of her torso and also on her right eye."

The contusions, as some experts had suggested, may have been the outcome of the victim's struggle to run away from her alleged attackers.

Prosecutors have presented a statement from a Filipino witness who said he saw the servicemen rape the woman.

"I saw how those US Marines mercilessly raped the girl inside the van. It was really horrible," the statement quoted Timoteo Soriano, driver of the rented van, as saying.

The assault

Authorities said the six Marines met the Filipino woman on Tuesday in Subic Bay, a former US naval base that has been transformed into an industrial and recreational hub.

The alleged victim was in a karaoke bar when she met the Americans who invited her to go with them in a rented van.

A few hours later, witnesses said they saw the woman being dumped unconscious from a van on a road, Subic authorities said in a statement.

A complaint filed with the Olongapo prosecutor's office identified the servicemen as Keith Silkwood, Daniel Smith, Albert Lara, Dominic Duplantis, Corey Barris, and Chad Carpenter.

Fair probe

In Malacañang, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita gave assurances of a fair investigation into the case.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs has been tasked to ensure that "justice would be followed in accordance with our procedures and our laws."

"The instruction of the President is to ensure that justice is done and that the procedure and the provisions are properly followed and properly observed," Ermita said.


Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said, however, that the Philippine government could not prevent the US servicemen from leaving the country.

Gonzalez said the government could not issue a hold departure order against the US Marines, who are covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

"Under the VFA, basically we waive custody to the US except in cases which are of such importance to our country,” said Gonzalez on Friday.

The VFA was negotiated by Washington and Manila following the closure in 1992 of all US military bases in the country. The agreement was in lieu of permanent bases, which are banned by the Philippine Constitution.

Paul Jones, US chargé d' affaires, said Thursday the suspects “are currently in the Philippines under the responsibility of the US embassy in Manila.”

Under the VFA, the US Embassy has the custody over their servicemen who have committed crimes in the Philippines.

Ratified by the Philippine Senate in May 1999, the agreement details the rules on the treatment of US armed forces visiting the Philippines for training, joint military exercises with Philippine troops, and the like.

Respect for RP law

Representative Rufino Biazon and Rolex Sulico condemned the incident, saying it would be a test of the US’ sincerity and respect for Philippine law.

Biazon said the soldiers should be charged and tried in Philippine courts. “The Philippines should insist on this.”

Suplico said Philippine laws "must be respected at all costs" and those accused "should not be allowed to slip out and return home to the US."

“They should undergo police custodial investigation, preliminary investigation by the public prosecutor and thereafter trial for rape, like any accused,” he said.

Both congressmen, however, said the alleged offense should not hinder bilateral counterterrorism efforts.


A complaint of rape was filed against the US Marines in Olongapo City, which is adjacent to Subic, now an industrial and tourism estate, about 80 kilometers west of Manila.

Raymond Viray, an assistant prosecutor, said the suspects will be asked to respond to the complaint either in person or through an affidavit. The woman will also have an opportunity to respond.

The state prosecutor will then determine if there is probable cause for an indictment against some or all of suspects, he said.

US Embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said the embassy has not yet received any official communication from the Philippine government regarding the charges.

He said US authorities are also involved in the investigation.

US authorities said the suspects will be presented to the courts once charges are formally filed.

Gang rape is punishable by life imprisonment or death in the Philippines.

RP eyes ‘economic corridor’ with Taiwan

By Marianne V. Go, The Philippine Star

The Philippine government will explore a possible economic corridor arrangement with Taiwan that would include the Subic and Clark economic zones, Trade Undersecretary Thomas Aquino said.

Aquino, who will leave tomorrow for Taiwan, said he will "explore" the possibility of establishing a "seamless economic corridor" that would involve not only Taiwan and Subic, but also Clark.

He explained that Clark must be included in any economic corridor with Taiwan since Subic no longer has space to expand.

Even though Subic wants to annex the adjacent Bataan Export and Technology Park (BETP), Aquino cited the difficulty of the BETP’s mountainous terrain for industrial parks.

However, Aquino is cautioning against a headlong rush into entering into any "economic corridor" agreement with Taiwan when all the details of such an arrangement have not yet been fully studied.

He said while Taiwanese officials may be "negotiating" with Subic authorities, they still have to officially communicate their position to the Department of Trade and industry and the Board of Investments.

During a recent media visit to Taipei, Taiwanese officials relayed their interest in establishing an economic corridor with Subic.

The Philippines and Taiwan hope to start negotiations before the end of the year for a special economic corridor between the Subic Freeport and the port city of Kaohsiung which would allow the free movement of goods, capital and people between the two points.

Taiwanese Economics Ministers Ho Mei-Yueh welcomed the proposal from Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) chairman Tomas Alcantara and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza during a courtesy call at her office.

In a brief interview with Filipino newsmen, Ho said he welcomes the creation of a free trade arrangement between Taiwan’s export processing zone in Kaohsiung and the Subic Freeport, noting the "very close distance" between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Ho expressed optimism that negotiations for the proposed economic corridor could start "as soon a possible."

However, Ho stressed that such an arrangement should not violate any provision of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

She acknowledged that with such a corridor, "it would be more convenient for the movement of goods and people."

However, Taiwanese Export Processing Zone Administration director-general Tzeng Sheng Bao, in a separate interview, relayed at least five of several requests of the Taiwanese government.

One request is for the Philippines to consider the possibility of lowering the current 40 percent local content to 25 percent, thus allowing such goods produced in Subic to be considered as part of the ASEAN free trade zone.

Secondly, the removal of tariff barriers between the two points so that there is less documentation required, ensuring a smooth flow of goods between the two ports.

Third is the one-step investment approval processing so that if a firm is already approved in Kaohsiung or in Subic, the firm is automatically approved in either port and should not be required to submit additional documents in the counterpart port.

Fourth, the liberalization of financial services which would allow Taiwanese banks to operate in Subic or Philippine banks to operate in Kaohsiung without having to get a banking license and perhaps even allowing the removal of foreign currency controls.

A fifth request is for the free flow of labor and removal of labor quotas.

Discussions on the economic corridor is expected to be taken up during the Dec. 5 and 6 Joint Economic Council (JEC) talks in Subic, MECO president Antonio Basilio said.

Subic rape inaareglo

Nina Ellen Fernando at Malou Rongalerios, Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

Kumikilos na umano ang isang grupo upang tapalan ng malaking halaga ang 22-anyos na dalaga na biktima ng gang rape ng anim na miyembro ng US Marines sa Subic Bay, dating US Naval Base sa Olongapo City nitong Nobyemre 1.

Base sa report, inaalok na ng malaking halaga ang pamilya ng biktima upang iurong ang demanda laban sa mga sundalong Kano na sina Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood, Albert Lara, Dominci Duplaints, Corey Barris at Chad Carpenter na ngayon ay nasa kustodya ng US Embassy sa Maynila.

Pinangangambahan na ang pagsusulong ng nasabing kaso ay makakaapekto sa umiiral na kasunduan sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at Estados Unidos dahil na rin sa pressure na gagawin ng mga militanteng grupo upang kondenahin ang pang-aabuso sa mga Pilipina ng mga sundalong Amerikano.

Base sa rekord, may 52 kaso ng panggagahasa at pang-aabuso sa mga Pinay at kabataang kababaihan ang naitala noong 1990s mula sa mga sundalong Kano nang sila ay bumabahay pa sa Subic Bay na ginawa nilang base military subalit ni isa man sa mga suspek ay walang naparusahan.

Nagbanta ang militanteng grupo sa pangunguna ng Gabriela, Courage, Migrante International na hangga’t walang ipinapalabas na warrant of arrest laban sa anim na Kano ay a-araw-arawin nila ang paglusob sa harapan ng US Embassy upang kalampagin ang pamahalaang Amerika na isurender ang mga suspek para maparusahan ang mga ito sa ilalim ng batas ng Pilipinas.

Anila, kapag walang nangyari sa kaso ng Pinay na huling biktima ng panghahalay ay hihilingin nila sa Kongreso na buwagin na ang umiiral na Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) na siyang nagbibigay kalayaan sa mga sundalong Kano na makalibre sa anumang kaso.

Kahapon ay mahigit 50 miyembro ng Gabriela at Courage ang nagmartsa sa embahada subalit hindi sila nakarating sa US Embassy matapos pigilan ng mga anti-riot police na makalapit.

Bukas ng umaga ay isang assembly naman ang idaraos na pangungunahan pa rin ng Gabriela kasama ang Ecumenical Women’s Forum at Gabriel Women’s Party.

Ayon sa Gabriela hindi dapat palampasin ng gobyerno ang mga insidente at iba’t ibang uri ng pang-aabuso at violence sa mga babae at batang biktima na kinakasangkutan ng mga dayuhan.

Ayon sa ulat ang naturang mga sundalong Kano ay nasa Subic para sa ‘rest and recreation’ matapos ang military exercises na tinawag na Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 06 ng nabanggit na araw.

Tiniyak naman ng Malacañang na mabibigyan ng hustisya ang kaso ng biktima na tubong Zamboanga at hindi makakaapketo sa diplomatic relations ng RP at US

RP jurisdiction is clear in rape case against GIs

POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual, Jr. , The Philippine Star 11/06/2005

CLEAR JURISDICTION: The alleged rape by five US servicemen of a Filipina at the Subic Freeport last Nov. 1 falls within the jurisdiction of Philippine courts, according to the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement signed in 1998.

The reasons for primary and exclusive Philippine jurisdiction, based on Article V of the VFA, are:

1. Although the suspects are US military personnel, raping natives in the host country is not part of their official duty.

2. At the time the alleged rape was committed, the servicemen were off duty, and were in fact on a night out for a good time after their participation in a joint military exercise.

3. The victim is not a US national, but a Filipino.

4. The alleged rape was committed and consummated entirely in the Philippines.

5. The crime of rape is punishable under Philippine laws.

6. Rape is not an offense against the security of the United States.
* * *
CONCURRENT HOLD: Under Article V of the VFA (please see its text toward the end of this column), in cases of concurrent jurisdiction, one party may yield jurisdiction to the other.

But in this instance, with everything pointing clearly to Philippine jurisdiction, it would be unthinkable for local authorities to yield to the US.

Assuming the far-fetched situation that there may be concurrent jurisdiction, the case still has to fall within Philippine jurisdiction because:

1. Although such errant behavior of US personnel is also covered by US military law, the victim is not an American.

2. The crime was not committed solely against the property or security of the US, nor against the property or person of US personnel.

3. The rape was not committed on US territory, a US military base or vessel or such place that enjoys extraterritoriality.

It cannot be shown to Philippine authorities – if they are wide awake and patriotic – that the alleged rape arose out of an act or omission done in performance of official duty.
* * *
WHY THE TIMIDITY?: But it was within the agreed procedure in the VFA that the US immediately took custody of its military personnel in trouble. In fact, that is how a sovereign government should act in protecting its citizens.

It is all up to the Philippine government to ask within 20 days for their appearance at the proper forum – such as the prosecutor’s office in Olongapo City for investigation or in court if and when the case progresses to trial.

But until yesterday, it seemed that Philippine authorities are timid about asserting the government’s rights under the VFA. It is as if they have to tiptoe on eggs just because they are dealing with Americans.

It was a golden opportunity for President Gloria Arroyo to speak up, but she left to her spokesman the mumbling of apologetic and vague vows about seeing justice done.

Even Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, who usually has a harsh word for almost every minor item disturbing his sensibilities, including comments of Kris Aquino, is suddenly tongue-tied.

Such timidity will not help dispel suspicion that the Philippine government itself will try, in stages, to (1) nip the charges by helping the Americans work out a settlement, (2) weaken the case and raise doubt that rape was committed and thereby justify an acquittal, (3) delay the proceedings so that the ONE-YEAR DEADLINE (!) in the VFA for completing litigation would overtake the case and the accused can then be shipped out beyond reach. * * *
READ THE TEXT: Anyway, to help everybody see the issue of jurisdiction clearly and to alert us of any attempt to sell out, we are reprinting here excerpts from Article V of the VFA on criminal jurisdiction:

"1. xxx (a) Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines.

"(b) United States military authorities shall have the right to exercise within the Philippines all criminal and disciplinary jurisdiction conferred on them by the military law of the United States over United States personnel in the Philippines.

"2. (a) Philippine authorities exercise exclusive jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses, including offenses relating to the security of the Philippines, punishable under the laws of the Philippines, but not under the laws of the United States.

"(b) United States authorities exercise exclusive jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses, including offenses relating to the security of the United States, punishable under the laws of the United States, but not under the laws of the Philippines. xxx

"3. In cases where the right to exercise jurisdiction is concurrent, the following rules shall apply:

"(a) Philippine authorities shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over all offenses committed by United States personnel, except in cases provided for in paragraphs l (b), 2 (b), and 3 (b) of this Article. [Note: 3 (b) refers to offenses involving security of the US. – fdp]

"(b) United States military authorities shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over United States personnel subject to the military law of the United States in relation to:

"(1) offenses solely against the property or security of the United States or offenses solely against the property or person of United States personnel; and

"(2) offenses arising out of any act or omission done in performance of official duty.

"(c) The authorities of either government may request the authorities of the other government to waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case.

"(d) Recognizing the responsibility of the United States military authorities to maintain good order and discipline among their forces, Philippine authorities will, upon request by the United States, waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction except in cases of particular importance to the Philippines. If the Government of the Philippines determines that the case is of particular importance, it shall communicate such determination to the United States authorities within twenty (20) days after the Philippine authorities receive the United States request.

"(e) When the United States military commander determines that an offense charged by authorities of the Philippines against United States personnel arises out of an act or omission done in the performance of official duty, the commander will issue a certificate setting forth such determination. This certificate will be transmitted to the appropriate authorities of the Philippines and will constitute sufficient proof of performance of official duty for the purposes of paragraph 3(b)(2) of this article. In those cases where the Government of the Philippines believes the circumstances of the case require a review of the duty certificate, United States military authorities and Philippine authorities shall consult immediately. Philippine authorities at the highest levels may also present any information bearing on its validity. United States military authorities shall take full account of the Philippine position. Where appropriate, United States military authorities will take disciplinary or other action against offenders in official duty cases, and notify the Government of the Philippines of the actions taken. xxx

"6. The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings. United States military authorities shall, upon formal notification by the Philippine authorities and without delay, make such personnel available to those authorities in time for any investigative or judicial proceedings relating to the offense with which the person has been charged. In extraordinary cases, the Philippine Government shall present its position to the United States Government regarding custody, which the United States Government shall take into full account. In the event Philippine judicial proceedings are not completed within one year, the United States shall be relieved of any obligations under this paragraph. The one-year period will not include the time necessary to appeal. Also, the one-year period will not include any time during which scheduled trial procedures are delayed because United States authorities, after timely notification by Philippine authorities to arrange for the presence of the accused, fail to do so."

Friday, November 04, 2005

A culture of savings

SOME of you may have caught the "Probe" special on Channel 5 last week entitled "Pera," focusing on Filipino problems with financial management at the individual and household levels. One of the most dramatic examples featured in the documentary was a man working as a messenger with a monthly salary of about P7,800 who had run up P80,000 in credit card debts.

On a national level, the Philippines was described as having one of the lowest savings rate in the world. In economic development terms, this means that we have very limited financial resources going into new investments that can move the country forward.

I was interviewed for that "Probe" documentary, and I shared several insights on why we have this problem, which I thought of recapping in today's column, together with some additional insights.

Nothing to save?

The usual answer to why we save so little is that, given the level of poverty in the country, most households have nothing to save. So many of our people live hand-to-mouth, their earnings not even enough to cover basic expenses.

And yet, people will point out, too, that those with very low incomes still spend on non-essential items, like buying a DVD player and TV set, or cigarettes and alcohol, or as in the case of the messenger featured in the special, P20,000 for a party to celebrate his child's first birthday!

How do we explain this? That's where we get a host of other explanations, many of which cluster around the "culture of poverty" thesis. One variation on this thesis is that when you're poor, you live for today. Without hope of a better future, you spend whatever comes your way.

One of my friends calls this the "one-day millionaire" syndrome. I've seen it so many times, the most heartbreaking examples coming with many of our overseas workers, especially those who come home after working as entertainers in Japan. They come home with lots of dollars and yen, check the whole family into a four- or five-star hotel, host several parties and, of course, give away all kinds of "pasalubong" [gifts], and in a few weeks, all there earnings are gone.

Sharing our blessings?

Ironically, such behavior may actually come from our norm of sharing good fortune. Even the idea of the "pasalubong," gifts you bring back from a trip, is a way of sharing your blessings. I recently had some debates with relatives over the lavish parties thrown for a one-year-old child and the explanation is that a child is God's blessing and we need to celebrate and share this blessing by hosting a grand affair.

I don't buy that argument completely. We all know these birthday parties are often intended more for the adults than for the child, a way of building alliances. In fact, lavish parties are the general norm, for children and for adults, and these are done more for social reasons than for anything else. We host the parties to build business and social links.

There's also something tribal in all this. In many societies, there is the "big man syndrome": a tribal leader is expected to sponsor big feasts from time to time as a way of redistributing his wealth as well as asserting his authority and influence. As cultural practices go, the "big man" and the elite get imitated by the lower strata of society and in the end, you have even the poor trying to outdo each other with extravagance. I've heard it time and time again, the concern that neighbors will talk if you hold too small a baptismal party for Junior.

Conspicuous consumption

The "big man feast" is only one of several historical hindrances that work against an ethic of saving in the Philippines. The fiesta was actually a modification of "big man feast," this time a community effort to show off a town's wealth. In the social sciences, we call this conspicuous consumption.

I've also wondered about the post-World War II era contributing to all this conspicuous consumption. Because we were wealthier that many other countries in the region, we were busy flying off to Hong Kong on weekends, holding lavish parties where champagne flowed from fountains (I am not kidding here), in other words, grand opulence. Other countries, in contrast, launched austerity campaigns, urging citizens to save and to patronize local products. We laughed at them, boasting of our imported goods.

Now, of course, those countries that practiced austerity are importing Filipinos to work for them and, in turn, our Filipino overseas workers spend their hard-earned money to buy other countries' goods.

We are now at an added disadvantage because not only did we skip an era of austerity, we leapfrogged into this 21st century of massive consumerism. We are told, "Buy! Buy! Buy!" and we are flooded with all kinds of goods, including fairly cheap ones with which to tempt the lower classes, from cell phones to DVD players. We also have liberal credit card policies, which allow even messengers to get one, and to rapidly rack up debts.

Reversing the trend

It's a dangerous situation we're in, and we better start thinking of strategies at home, in schools and in offices, to create what the Asian Development Bank calls a "culture of savings." (The ADB had a study noting how our overseas workers tend to spend their money on other countries' goods rather than plowing the money back into the Philippines for economic and social development.)

We have to start especially with children, the current crop being a generation exposed to a bewildering variety of consumer goods -- and advertising to push those goods. Schools can incorporate budgetary management into math classes. And we really should include credit card management in our college courses.

There's much we can do at home, with those children's parties, for example. I have nothing against celebrating birthdays, but let's reinvent these parties. My godchildren, Tess and Dennis Batangan, give birthday parties for their children but tell friends to bring toys to donate to indigent children.

When one of Doctors Delen and Boying de la Paz's sons asks why they can't get a newer cell phone model, they remind the kids: a cell phone is for communicating, do you really need the camera and the MP3 player?

Another couple working with me at the University of the Philippines, Zen and Leo Quintilla, tells their son that instead of spending for some non-essential item, they're putting the money into his educational plan, preparing for college.

Last Christmas, many offices canceled their Christmas parties and donated the money instead to disaster relief. These are encouraging signs that we can build a culture of savings, linked as other important social values: compassion, foresight, mutual help.

We better move fast. Already I see dangerous new cultural beliefs emerging. On the "Probe" documentary, the messenger said he doesn't save because there's a belief now that by doing so, you actually invite financial emergencies like illnesses! The distorted reasoning: don't save, and you won't have the emergencies.

Homeschooled Fil-Am wins $10,000 in 'Jeopardy!'

By Ruben V. Nepales, Inquirer News Service

LOS ANGELES, California -- Joseph Henares, a homeschooled Filipino-American boy, recently won a "Back to School" edition of "Jeopardy!" -- America's popular TV quiz show.

The 12-year-old Henares received a cash prize of $10,000 in the competition that involved 15 contestants selected from more than 500 kids all over America.

Joseph emerged the winner after five daily episodes were taped at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.

Interviewed by phone and e-mail, Joseph credited his "Jeopardy!" triumph to his "mom, who helped me review different topics that we thought would be on the show, and my dad, who helped me with strategy and taught me how to bid in the Final Jeopardy!"

He is the eldest son of John and Jean Henares, both holders of math degrees from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Joseph heard about the nationwide tryouts in various cities for 10-to-12-year-old contestants for the "Back to School" tournament back in the spring, the elder Henares recounted.

"I went to and signed him up online for the tryout in New York City. A few weeks later, I got an e-mail that Joseph was scheduled for his tryout in New York on July 16. Joseph was interviewed, given a 30-question test and participated in a mock 'Jeopardy!' game with other applicants."

Odds of getting in slim

"The odds of getting in were quite slim," said John. About 500 kids were trying out for 15 slots.

On Sept. 12, Joseph was on the “Jeopardy!” set at the Sony Pictures Studios for the taping of the show that was aired on national TV on Oct. 13.

When asked how he felt when he learned he had made it to the final 15, Joseph offered his mother's reaction instead: "My mom jumped up and down and screamed." He added, "All my friends were excited." His father was ecstatic.

John Henares reflected on his career as an actuary who calculates insurance reserve liabilities and does financial reporting when he disclosed how he and Jean prepared Joseph for the quiz show hosted by Alex Trebek.

"We drilled Joseph on how to bid, particularly on 'Final Jeopardy!' We came up with various scenarios covering the what ifs. For example, what if you're in first place with $X, and the second and third placers have $Y and $Z, how much should your final bid be?

"We had about less than a month to prepare. So we brainstormed among ourselves what the likely 'kids' categories would be. We came up with Superheroes, recent kid movies, what's on Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, among others.

"Then we determined which among those categories Joseph was weak at, and we did online searches on them. We also had Joseph read the latest issue of the Kids' Almanac," said the elder Henares.

Joseph's main worry

"But actually, knowing the correct responses to whatever categories was the least of Joseph's concerns. He knew that he could get his share of correct responses. What he feared more was whether he could buzz in fast enough to make that knowledge count.

"So we had him watch 'Jeopardy!' and take note of the cadence of Alex Trebek's speech and pretend to signal in as soon as Alex was done reading the question. For practice, Joseph used a fat marker as his signaling button."

Joseph and his siblings, Marian, 10, and John Paul, 8, are schooled at home in Avon, Connecticut, primarily by Jean, who was also an actuary before she quit to become a full-time mother.

The Henareses have a younger daughter, Christina, 3. The Henares couple is part of a growing number of parents in the United States who are educating their kids at home. This trend has resulted in the term "homeschool" being accepted as a word entry in the dictionary.

John Henares credited his son's success to his being an avid reader and his ability to retain knowledge and information about things that he encounters.

"His mom does a good job -- and has great patience -- in quizzing him in preparation for 'Jeopardy!' and other contests. But then, any other non-homeschooling mom could have done just as well."


John explained how he and Jean decided to homeschool Joseph and, eventually, their other children. "Jean met some Catholic parents who homeschool their children," he said.

"She was impressed with their dedication and their testimony of very favorable results that they experienced with their children. She observed first-hand how the children functioned and behaved. The image stuck in her mind. When Joseph reached school age, we decided to give it a try. It hasn't been all that easy but we've managed. We are aided by a good Catholic curriculum that we get from Seton Home Study, a homeschool curriculum provider based in Virginia."

It is rare to hear a 12-year-old say that he wants to be an actuary, but that is what Joseph says he would like to be someday.

John, who was raised by Manuel and Sandra Henares in Bacolod City, worked for two years as an instructor at the UP Math Department. He earned his MS degree in Math-Actuarial Science from the University of Connecticut. A fellow of the Society of Actuaries, John works for Genworth Financial in Windsor, Connecticut.

Jean, the eldest child of Fermin and Florentina Alambra, grew up in La Union province. Like John, she also taught at UP after graduation and earned her MS degree in Math-Actuarial Science from the University of Connecticut.

'Star Wars', Lea fan

Math and academics are just some of the interests of Joseph. He sings, acts and plays the piano. Joseph, Marian and John Paul are members of The Company, a children's theater program based at the University of Hartford. Joseph, who last played Linus in The Company's production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," hopes to meet internationally acclaimed singer-actress Lea Salonga someday.

He also likes to watch the "Star Wars" (the reason he welcomed questions on this film series in "Jeopardy!") and "Lord of the Rings" movies, play soccer and tennis and join chess tournaments, where he has won trophies.

The young Henares had joined other similar contests before, including the Spelling Bee, Geography Bee and American Math Competition.

"I've been the top scorer in the Connecticut Homeschool Network American Math Competition for two years. Last year, I was second in the school level Spelling Bee of the Woodbury Homeschool Group. I was also in the top 10 for the Geography Bee in the state of Connecticut," he said.

Joseph plans to spend some of his cash prize on computer games but he will save most of it to help pay for his college tuition.

Trebek might see a lot of Joseph as this whiz kid grows up. Joseph declared, "I would like to join the teen version, then the college version, before finally moving on to the adult 'Jeopardy!'"

(Ruben V. Nepales is a correspondent in Los Angeles for the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

RP sailors' English sounds Greek to Norwegian firm

By Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer News Service

When a Norwegian shipping company complains that it can no longer understand the English spoken by Filipino recruits, the country has a big problem.

Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz said new job markets were not hiring Filipino workers because they failed in basic English proficiency. Their spoken English, he said, was also too throaty for the world of business.

Cruz shared this information on Thursday with a batch of students training for jobs in call centers and medical transcription firms here.

Major reforms are needed to address the inability of Filipino students to be understood overseas, according to the labor official.

"This is a long-term process for change because we can only replenish the labor force with [better skilled English speakers] after 10 years," he said.

Cruz said Malacañang was planning a summit to establish a uniform policy on the use of English in schools and in the workplace. The summit will seek to evaluate the instructional materials and the business impact of Filipino English on the world markets.

"We used to be the third largest English-speaking nation" but outsourcing industries like call centers and medical transcription operators failed to even hire the 100,000 they expected to employ from the Philippines in 2005, Cruz said.

American firms stationed in India, a former British colony with a big English-speaking work force, have been tapping Filipino workers because they expected them to have an American accent, according to the labor undersecretary.

"Indian speakers just can't remove their accent," he said.

But feedback from the job markets shows that "we are disappointing" new employers, he said.

"This is not only true of the outsourcing industries. It's the effect we have on other job markets."

Because of the complaint of the Norwegian shipping company, the government is looking into the teaching methods and curricula at more than 3,000 merchant marine schools in the country.

"Many of these schools are actually of poor quality," Cruz said. He noted that the complaints involved recent graduates

Monday, October 31, 2005

Relearning English in public schools

DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco, The Philippine Star

It is no secret that we are no longer as proficient in speaking and writing in English because over the last 20 years or so, public education has downgraded English instruction. There was this theory that using Pilipino as the medium of instruction would increase comprehension among other things and deliver better educated Pinoys.

Well, that didn’t happen. The crazy thing is, most of our regional neighbors were going the other way – emphasizing English instruction to better equip their people to compete in today’s globalized world. Even China and Vietnam, whose current regimes couldn’t be faulted for lacking a sense of nationalism, are investing on teaching their people how to speak and write in English. They often hire Filipino English teachers.

In China, there is a feverish effort to make even taxi drivers able to communicate in English. I was told during my recent visit to Shanghai, ability to communicate in English is necessary for taxi drivers to renew their driver’s license. This is probably in preparation for the Olympics. It is also because China is now visited by a large number of foreigners, tourists and investors, something made obvious by the nearly hour-long wait behind long immigration lines at the airport.

The waning of our English-speaking and writing skills couldn’t have come at the worst possible time. Thousands of our graduates remain unemployed and many are unemployable here or abroad because of, among others, inadequate English language skills. Thousands of good jobs requiring ability to communicate in English are unfilled, even as our unemployment rate remains high.

Last I heard, only three out of 10 applicants for call center and other back office jobs are hired because of this problem. Henry Schumacher of the European Chamber of Commerce was telling me of a project wherein they provide English language training for some of those rejects and manage to get a good number of them hired after.

As even our DepEd now admits, our problem is also rooted in lack of teachers. A high percentage of current teachers have poor English skills. That’s because the younger teachers are products of the Pilipino curriculum we have had until recently. The older Filipino English teachers have left to work in China, Thailand, US, Vietnam.

The need to train teachers is obvious. The American Chamber of Commerce, working together with the Makati Business Club and the Philippine Normal University had a pilot group of teachers trained by DynaEd, a computer based interactive language course. Now, I am told by Bambina Buenaventura that they have gone beyond training teachers and have actually gone into the classrooms in selected public schools.

Two of the actual classroom applications of the DynaEd system are sponsored by Philip Morris Philippines in Batangas and by Pilipinas Shell Foundation at the Zamora Elementary School in Pandacan, Manila. Beneficiaries of the Philip Morris project are their scholars and college students from Lyceum of Batangas, Lipa City Colleges & Christian College of Tanauan.

The one from Pilipinas Shell Foundation benefits the Teachers‚ SPEECH (Specialized English Enhancement Course for High School and Elementary Teachers) Program. The beauty of the DynaEd system is that our public school teachers and students get trained not just in English proficiency but also in the use of computers as a multi-media teaching tool.

Incidentally, the DynaEd system also works in the workplace environment. Some corporations have actually started training programs for their employees to gain English proficiency as a tool to improve productivity. Solid Cement Philippines and PHINMA are examples of companies that used the DynaEd system for training their employees.

I imagine there are other systems that can be used to quickly upgrade the English language skills of our young people. There are those who say that preparing students for future jobs shouldn’t be the main concern of education. But then, we don’t have the luxury of educating our people for education’s sake. After going through our educational system, they have to already possess the skills needed for them to land jobs here or abroad.

Even those who seek employment as nurses, or even those who want to work as sailors, need to have better English language skills than the typical high school or college graduate now have. The time may soon come when China, Vietnam and other Asean countries would have better English language proficiency than us. We need to work overtime to regain our historical head start in this area.

The problem now seems too daunting. But if individual companies or groups adopt schools or classes the way Philip Morris and Shell did, the combined effort would yield a better result than if we just waited for government to get its act together in the public schools. Special programs for the currently unemployed would also help them improve their chances of landing a job. Language training is an area ripe for companies to take on as part of their corporate social responsibility projects.

Of course language skills are but one of the skills we need to invest on. But it is a very good place to start.
A real 8th Grade test from 1895
GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star 10/31/2005

Remember how our grandparents said they only had up to 8th Grade education from the Americans before the War? Yet they always seemed a lot smarter than us when we were in high school or college. Know why?

This is a real 8th Grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, picked up from files at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library. The Thomasites – American teachers whose first batch of 48 arrived in Manila in Aug. 1901 aboard the U.S. transport ship Thomas – must have used similar exams on our grandparents. Except for the U.S. history part of the test, you might remember your lolo and lola mentioning these items learned from public schools that the U.S. Army set up during the Occupation. No wonder they were qualified to teach after graduating from 8th Grade. And wonder too how today’s college grads would score on this:

Grammar (Time: 1 hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.

4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie", "play", and "run".

5. Define case; illustrate each case.

6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time: 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 ft. long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts per bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per meter?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time: 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time: 1 hour)

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals.

4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication. * * *
Incidentally, our Department of Education presently is under a secretary who has yet to be confirmed. Our Commission on Higher has a chairman who is but an officer-in-charge. Only 6 out of every 1,000 Grade 6 elementary graduates are prepared for high school. Only 2 of every 100 4th Year high school graduates are fit to enter college. Filipino students rank 41st in Science and 42nd in Math among 45 countries. Only 19 of every 100 public school teachers have confidence and competence to teach English. * * *

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Child pornography sa RP malala na!

Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

ISA sa mabigat na problema ng bansa ay ang child pornography. Pero dahil sa pagiging abala ng administrasyon sa pagsangga sa banat ng oposisyon, hindi na napag-uukulan ng pansin ang problemang ito. Tsk-tsk-tsk!

Malala na ang pornograpiya sa mga bata. Mas matindi ang mga pinagagawa sa kanila ng mga hayok na pedophiles. Pinagkakakitaan sila ng mga hayok sa laman na Australians, Briton, American at iba pang dayuhang pedophiles. Paboritung-paborito ng mga pedo na puntahan ang Pilipinas. Masayang-masaya sila kapag pumupunta rito para mangaray ng mga menor-de-edad ma-babae man o ma-lalaki. Hindi natatakot ang mga pedo kung pagsamantalahan o kunan nang hubo’t hubad ang mga bata habang nagtatalik. Paano matatakot e wala namang batas ang Pilipinas para harangin ang pagpunta ng mga pedo rito. Malayang-malaya sila ritong kumaladkad ng mga batang hubo’t hubad.

Habang ang ibang bansa ay may matibay na batas laban sa child pornography at cybersex ang Pilipinas naman ay wala man lang panlaban sa mga hayok. Kakatwa pa ngang sa ibang bansa pa nadadakma ang mga pedo habang patungo rito sa Pilipinas. Katulad ng isang Briton na nasabat sa airport sa kanilang bansa habang patungo sa Pilipinas. Nakuha sa kanyang luggage ang santambak na tsokolate, mga sex gadgets at mga kamera para sa computers. Hindi na nakatuntong sa bansa ang hayok. Kung nakapagpatuloy ang hayok na Briton sa Pilipinas, maraming menor-de-edad ang kanyang madadagit. Hindi lamang kasi ang mga bata ang pinangangakuan ng mga hayok kundi pati na rin ang kanilang mga magulang. Matagal nang isyu ang ganito. Gaano karaming kabataang lalaki ang naging biktima ng pedo noon sa Pagsanjan, Laguna; Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro at sa Olongapo? Napakarami. At sa kabila niyan walang batas na makapagparusa sa mga hayok na pedo.

Ngayon ay sopistikado na ang mga gamit at sa pamamagitan ng computer webcam ay maaari nang magpose nang hubad ang mga kabataang lalaki at babae. Mas lalo pang naging talamak ang pornography at wala pa rin namang nagagawang ma- bigat na hakbang ang pamahalaan. Ang tanging nagagawa ay ang salakayin ang mga internent cafe at kumpiskahin ang mga gamit pero ang pedo na operator ay hindi nila magalaw. Wala kasing batas laban sa cybersex at child pornography.