Saturday, September 24, 2005

CAMPI mulls installation of radio frequency devices on local cars

By Marianne V. Go, The Philippine Star

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) will study the feasibility and cost of installing radio frequency devices on locally manufactured automobiles as part of measures to check the proper payment of taxes and detect imported used vehicles.

According to CAMPI president Elizabeth Lee, CAMPI had met with Customs Commissioner Alexander Arevalo to discuss measures on how to deal with the continued entry of imported used vehicles.

Among the measures discussed was the possible installation of a radio frequency device or RFD.

Lee elaborated that the RFD would be similar to a bar code which would contain specific data about the vehicle and the taxes paid on it.

Authorities, Lee said, could use a device similar to a radar gun to read the data on the RFD.

The device would be installed initially, Lee said, on locally manufactured cars.

However, CAMPI, Lee said is still studying the cost of installing such devices and if they are feasible and would achieve their purpose.

Aside from such measures, however, Lee explained, there are several legal issues that have to be clarified by the Department of Justice.

One particular issue is the clarification of the legal impact of the classification of Subic as a Freeport and also as a "port of entry."

As a freeport, goods that enter the area are supposed to be tax and duty free.

However, designation as a port of entry indicates that the area is still considered part of the Philippine customs territory.

Ecop bucks Labor Code amendments

By Elaine Ruzul S. Ramos, Manila Standard

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines has strongly opposed a bill in Congress that seeks to prevent the secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment to assume jurisdiction over labor disputes or strikes where national interest is at stake.

ECOP president Rene Soriano said a repeal of Article 263 (g) of the Labor Code as embodied in House Bill 3723 filed by Rep. Crispin Beltran and other party list representatives, is uncalled for, noting that the provision is “vital to economic and social stability and to life, personal safety and health.”

Soriano said neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, which have achieved high levels of sustained growth and development way ahead of the Philippines, have laws that curtail strikes when they threaten to harm the economy or stability of the country.

The proposed repeal of the particular provision would also bar the secretary of DoLE to certify any dispute to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) for compulsory arbitration.

Soriano said even the United States, which is the epitome of free-market capitalism and has consistently ranked as the most competitive economy in the world, granted President George W. Bush the power to intervene in a number of labor disputes based upon a determination that a strike or lockout in such cases would harm the economy.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

VoIP windfall on ofws

BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa, The Philippine Star

Even before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) could finally issue the guidelines on the policy covering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), overseas call rates have been dropping like manna from heaven. And our OFWs are gleefully on the phone now.

From a standard rate of $0.40 a minute, calls rates went down initially by half. Now, giant players Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe Telecom Inc. are saying they are bringing international long distance rates to as low as $0.05.

But hold your horses. Even before we applaud these giant telecoms for giving away huge discounts to subscribers, we have to be clear on two things. One, the discounted rate is available only to subscribers of their Internet brand, which is DSL (Digital Subscribed Line) for PLDT and Globelines Broadband for Globe. So if you are not a DSL or Broadband customer, you can’t take advantage of the promo.

Second, why only now? As with the promos that sprouted after Sun Cellular set off a price war with its 24/7 plan, the giant telecommunication companies are telling us that they can in fact bring prices down in the face of aggressive competition. Otherwise, they will keep on charging us those ridiculous rates.

So now, the big players, Smart and Globe, realizing that the floodgates have been opened for ISP service providers to participate in the potentially huge VoIP service market, cut IDD rates by as much as 88 percent.
Killing Budding Competitors
Since they failed to block the opening of the VoIP market and to stop the policy of deregulating overseas calls, it looks like the telcom giants are trying to abort any new VoIP player even before this is born. VoIP is an Internet technology that would allow us to make cheaper calls anywhere in the world. Through this new technology, voice and or voice-messaging applications can now be done via the Internet rather than the conventional switched telephone network. With NTC finally ruling that VoIP is a value-added service that is not limited to telephone companies with Congressional franchises and government licenses, telcos now will just have to fight the order outside of the NTC or those firms planning to operate VoIP even before they can arm themselves. As they are doing now.

That is not to say the telcos are not considering going to the courts to stop the NTC from implementing VoIP. As of this writing, though, no case has been filed, and so we just hope that these telcos come to their senses and support a policy that will truly benefit consumers.

That the entry of VoIP should drastically cut overseas rates is proven already with the way IDD charges have dropped even before the NTC could fully implement the open-door policy for other VoIP service providers.
Eight Million Reasons
We need not stress the importance of driving the cost of overseas charges down. We have more than eight million reasons why the cost of calls to the United States, the Middle East, Italy, and Hong Kong should go down.

Our OFWs left about 30 million families, relatives, and friends here who are eager to hear the sound of the voices of their loved ones, or better yet to see them as they speak. Through VoIP, videoconferencing can be done at much cheaper rates. Even text messaging is cheaper through IP, according to industry experts.

There are companies already offering overseas texting for P5 per message. This is one-third of the cost if you would use a regular mobile phone here to send a message to an overseas cell.

At $0.05 to $0.10 a minute or roughly to P2.80 to P5.60 for every minute of overseas call, families of our OFWs would be encouraged to start calling instead of waiting for those abroad to call.
Mitigating Social Cost
Communications could play a big role in improving the plight of the OFWs and their families here. We all know about Filipinos abroad sending more than $7 billion each year to their families, an amount which not only feeds their loved ones but also sustains the Philippine economy.

But there is a corresponding social cost to the huge remittances. Fathers and mothers, sometimes even both parents, leaving their children, mostly in their formative and sensitive teenage years are terribly vulnerable to strong influences of social ills like drugs and premarital sex.

Husbands or wives leaving for abroad wake up one day to find out that the spouse had gone astray, adding more to the children’s confusion. Husbands or wives giving in to the biting loneliness overseas, eventually find themselves in the arms of a lover. While cheap IDD calls will not solve all these problems, it can help prevent some of them from happening.
Clearing All Hurdles
Now that NTC had cleared the hurdle for other players/service providers to come in, the Commission should release as soon as possible the guidelines for VoIP so that the public would be aware of various types and scope of services available and the operating standards required.

The NTC must also initiate an information campaign that would make even simple folks like you and me understand how VoIP operates. As new businesses crop up in anticipation of demand for VoIP services, the general public has to be educated on how to distinguish the appropriate service to use, and how to compare and select the best price package for their needs.

NTC has to act fast as enterprising groups are now jumping into the market targeting the huge OFW market. For instance, a new player calling itself Bayani Card Inc. had launched the Bayani Card for overseas calls and texting, and is aggressively enticing OFW families to use their service.

As the vanguard of this potentially lucrative hi-tech sector, it is incumbent on NTC to ensure that the not-too technically inclined users do not become innocent victims to service offerings that do not deliver as promised.

S spy case shows e-mail unsafe from prying eyes


Are Yahoo Mail and Hotmail safe from prying eyes?

Not if those eyes belong to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Former police officer Michael Ray Aquino and FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo learned this lesson when they were arrested and charged with sending classified information by e-mail to three unnamed politicians in the Philippines.

Part of the evidence against Aquino and Aragoncillo was found in e-mail messages that they had sent to politicians in the Philippines, news reports said last week.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, for example, noted that an affidavit by FBI agent Edward Finnegan noted that Aragoncillo communicated with one of the “national-level” politicians using the free Web-based e-mail service Hotmail.

Finnegan said that in one Hotmail message, Aragoncillo had suggested to “the political contender” to take over the government if the Constitution would allow it.

Santiago also said Finnegan’s affidavit showed that the national official had apparently undergone training in espionage. In one e-mail to Aragoncillo, the official said: “If there are confidential matters that you wish to share, don’t hesitate because I was fully trained in this endeavor.”

Nor does the use of a false e-mail name or alias seem to offer much protection. New reports indicate Aragoncillo, in fact, had communicated with a congressman using at least six different e-mail addresses.

The FBI has long had the capability to monitor e-mail and online activities, developing the controversial “sniffer” program Carnivore. Carnivore was abandoned in favor of commercially available eavesdropping software in January 2005.

Law enforcement agencies in the United States can also gain access to Internet files under the Patriot Act, which allows Internet service providers to give e-mail messages and personal data to federal law enforcement without a warrant or notifying the person in question.

This provision and other parts of the Patriot Act, passed speedily in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, were questioned by civil liberties advocates who said they violate an individual’s right to privacy.

The administration of US President George Bush has been pushing for the renewal of the act, which expires in December. Civil liberties advocates, on the other hand, are working against its renewal. Chin Wong, MLA STANDARD

Unliquidated cash advances hit P3.3B


By Maricel V. Cruz, MT Reporter 

THE unliquidated cash  advances of public officials and employees could be one of the main reasons why the national government has racked up a huge budget deficit.

Liberal Party Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, said national government officials and employees chalked up P3.3 billion in unliquidated cash advances in end-2004.

The P3.3 billion refers to advances posted by national government agencies and does not include those incurred by those working in local governments and government corporations. 

Citing a document that accompanied the proposed P1.05-trillion 2006 national budget, Andaya said the Commission of Elections posted the highest unliquidated cash advances—P1.6 billion.  But Andaya was quick to point out that this was understandable owing to the fact that 2004 was an election year.

The other government offices with huge unliquidated advances:

• Department of Education, P393 million

• Department of Foreign Affairs, P170 million

• Department of National Defense, P114 million

• Department of Agriculture, P104 million.

• Office of the President, P62 million

• Department of Telecommunications, P52 million

• Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P49 million

• Department of Agrarian Reform, P44 million

• Department of Public Works and Highways, P40.3 million

• Department of Labor and Employment, P40.2 million

• Department of Finance, P32 million

• Department of Health, P29 million

• Department of Interior and Local Government, P26 million

• Department of Trade and Industry, P25.2 million.

At the bottom on the list was the Metro Manila Development Authority with an unliquidated cash advance of P3,400.

According to the Commission on Audit, Andaya said, “The P3.3 billion [consisted] of unliquidated cash advances of officials and employees for expenses in connection with their official foreign and local travels, billings for overpayment of salaries, other expenses, and cash shortages.”

He hastened to add that an unliquidated cash advance does not mean that the money “was spent illegally, but that there was just some delay in explaining how it was spent.”

“It could be a reporting delay. The judgment on whether or not the money was rightfully spent was suspended until the supporting documents were in. A mammoth bureaucracy that spend nearly P1 trillion a year is bound to encounter these reportorial glitches,” Andaya explained.

In most cases, however, the liquidation of expenses meets government audit and accounting rules, Andaya said.

But once the unliquidated cash advance becomes what is called a  “disallowed expense,” Andaya said, then government should seek reimbursement from those who made the illegal expenditure.

He expects heads and agencies to be ready with their explanation on this matter when they appear before his committee soon to defend their 2006 budget requests.

Andaya’s panel will hold its preliminary budget hearing on the proposed 2006 national budget any time this week as Congress resumes session Monday

Ex-SBMA chief breaks silence, scores Gordon

The Manila Times Reporter

Former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Felicito Payumo broke his silence and lashed at his arch enemy and predecessor Sen. Richard Gordon for including him in the senator’s tirades against the Magsaysays of Zambales.

"I have been quiet for several months since I returned to public life. Why should he include me in his fight against the Magsaysays?" Payumo complained.

Gordon had criticized President Arroyo for engaging in "transactional leadership" that, he said, had benefited the Magsaysays of Zambales. He said the President’s decisions on SBMA would see the return of large-scale smuggling of used cars in the free port that was seen in the last three years. Payumo was chairman and administrator of SBMA from 1998 to 2004.

"If there really was smuggling of used vehicles in Subic, why blame me? That is the responsibility of the customs? The fact is, the courts have already allowed the entry of right-hand vehicles in Subic although Gordon insists on calling it smuggling," Payumo said.

He said that he would not be a willing victim to Gordon’s "vendetta." He noted that Gordon had subpoenaed voluminous documents from the SBMA pertaining to his term of office but omitted those during Gordon’s term from 1992 to 1998.

"This is highly selective and a fishing expedition under the guise of legislation," he said.

Payumo said that Gordon had allowed the importation of numerous brand-new luxury cars, which avoided the payment of proper tax by merely incorporating some jump seats.

"There was also the report of the Commission on Audit which disallowed almost P855 million of SBMA expenditures during his term. The commission found only about P1.6 million in unliquidated expenses during my term," he said.

The Office of the Ombudsman has thrown out the criminal case against Gordon involving the disallowed expenditures but the commission is standing pat on its findings.

"Gordon was crowing about the SBMA volunteers, but among the disallowed expenses were hundreds of millions of pesos for personnel. Hundreds of the ‘volunteers’ were on the payroll, but none of them received any money," Payumo said.

The rivalry between Payumo and Gordon started when Gordon refused to open the Bataan-side gate of SBMA for workers from that province. This reached its highest point when Gordon refused to yield the SBMA chairmanship to Payumo. It continued even now that Payumo is no longer with SBMA and Gordon’s main political enemies now are the Magsaysays.

US profiles rising Filipino leaders

THE US EMBASSY has been profiling the Philippines' "up and coming political leaders" even before the "jueteng" and "Hello, Garci" controversies snowballed into the worst crisis to beset President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration.

An embassy report dated May 10 and prepared by political officer Andrew MacLearn said Vice President Noli de Castro and other personalities had been "jostling to stand out in a crowded field as they beg[a]n to lay the groundwork for the 2007 senatorial election and the 2010 national elections."

The report said that as of early May, Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II was "well-placed for the 2010 race," opposition Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson "clearly want[ed] to be President," Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando was similarly interested, and young House Minority Leader Francis Escudero was emerging as a dark horse.

It portrayed Sen. Manuel Villar, Nacionalista Party president, as projecting a "nationalist posturing" that pitted him against certain US interests.

Sen. Richard Gordon was seen as a politician who got things done and was "not afraid to get his hands dirty."

"The wild card, however, is whether the Philippines engages in serious constitutional change that would lead to a parliamentary system well before 2010, as numerous politicians continue to advocate," the report said.

The seven-page report is one of a number of documents obtained by the Inquirer from a source who asked not to be identified. The documents contain updates on Philippine political figures and developments and the corresponding US assessments.

They are believed to be copies of files allegedly illegally downloaded from US Federal Bureau of Investigation computers by Filipino-American intelligence analyst Leandro Aragoncillo.


The profiles on the so-called emerging leaders appear to have been based on general information possibly culled from the government, media reports and social circles, as well as conversations with the personalities named or those close to them.

The conversations were either casual or formal meetings, as confirmed by some of the personalities interviewed by the Inquirer.

Members of the House of Representatives who were listed expressed concern that their conversations with US Embassy officials were being used as basis for profiling Philippine leaders.

"Is this meant to influence [Philippine affairs] or for [the US government's] own domestic purpose [as a guide] in coming up with foreign policy?" Escudero said.

He said he had talked with embassy officials in line with his work as House minority leader.

"I don't know the basis of their assessment," he said. "I suppose they're giving me more credit than I deserve. We had yet to be active at that time. There was still no 'Hello, Garci' tape and there was still no impeachment."

Said Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr. of the embassy officials' repeated visits at his office: "I thought it was just banter. I never thought I was already being profiled."

The report said Andaya, chair of the powerful House committee on appropriations, was eyeing a Cabinet post after his term as congressman.

Ilocos Norte Representative Imee Marcos, described in the report as the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos' "most politically ambitious child," said it showed that the US government was in constant search for allies among the Philippines' leaders.

"They want the country to remain a reliable ally, which they are not certain the country would be," Marcos told the Inquirer.

De Castro

The report said De Castro and a number of senators had been busy preparing for the 2010 presidential election. But even before the political crisis thrust De Castro into the limelight as Ms Arroyo's constitutional successor, the US Embassy already had a dim view of him.

"Given that the last two Presidents -- Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph "Erap" Estrada -- rose from the vice presidency, he likely has similar ambitions, although many view him as a substantive lightweight," the report said.

"De Castro's biggest liabilities appear to be political and managerial experience as well as his weak English language. His speech-making even in Tagalog has not won rave reviews, either," it also said.

The report said a political officer of the US Embassy had spoken with De Castro's chief of staff, lawyer Jesse Andres, and was told that the Vice President's priorities included poverty alleviation, overseas Filipino workers and housing.

"[Andres] said the Vice President believe[d] himself to be very popular with the 'masa,' as indeed public opinion polls have confirmed," the report said.

It said that De Castro's "key backers among the elite" were members of the Lopez clan, owner of the ABS-CBN media network.

"De Castro relies on his still active network of ABS-CBN officials extensively, and is not afraid to call senior ABS-CBN members via cell phone on a moment's notice to ask questions about news coverage and foreign affairs," it said.

Mar and Ping

The report said that as early as May, Roxas had "charted his political career toward the presidency."

It noted that Roxas had "high name recall" as a grandson of the first President of the republic, Manuel Roxas, and "a strong background in economics and sufficient private wealth to fund a massive national campaign, as he did in [the] 2004 [senatorial election]."

"Heightening his popularity is his relationship with Korina Sanchez, a fashionable Manila media star," it added.

But a statement issued by Roxas' office said he had not engaged in any discussion with any US Embassy official regarding his political plans in the next five years.

The report described Lacson as "cagey" and "still clearly want[ing] to be President."

"His strict law-and-order presidential campaign earned him a third-place finish in the May 2004 election. His campaign won him many admirers including in the wealthy Chinese-Filipino community, historically victimized by kidnapping and other crimes," it said.

Lacson confirmed to the Inquirer that he had been in constant touch with embassy officials: "We have conversations. Sometimes, we have friendly banter. Other times, we talk about more serious topics."

He said he did not know where the embassy officials based their conclusion that he still wanted to be president as early as May, when the political crisis, including the issue of who would replace Ms Arroyo, had yet to rage.

"I don't know where they got that. They talk to many people," Lacson said.

Fernando et al.

The report said MMDA Chair Fernando told an embassy official in an April 25 conversation that he was "interested in the presidency."

"In a recent national survey by a local firm, Fernando ranked as President Arroyo's most popular Cabinet member," it said.

It also said Fernando had garnered "popular segments of Manila's underprivileged urban population, primarily for his unorthodox but effective methods for putting some order to a chaotic Metro Manila."

According to the report, Villar "paints himself as an independent thinker and a nationalist who could resist 'foreign' influence."

"This nationalist posturing, along with multiple Manila strip mall business interests, placed Villar on the opposite side of some [Philippine government] enforcement efforts involving the intellectual property rights law and pitted him against [US government] interests in the past," it said.

The report said the "political tandem" of Villar and his "popular wife," Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar, had worked to "support his political ambitions."

"Notably, the Villars have a penchant for smooth political marketing, and have the useful distinction of being the richest couple in Congress," it said.

Senator Richard Gordon, who pushed for the retention of the US bases in 1991 when he was mayor of Olongapo City, was described in the report as having "worked closely" with embassy officials "in the past."

It said he used his "promotional flare (flair)" to win a Senate seat in 2004.

Poe's Susan

The report mentioned Susan Roces, widow of 2004 opposition standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr., but said her "public appeal," while "strong," was "still more potential than real."

But it added: "Her professed desire to help the 'masa' and to ensure that her husband's 'legacy' continues may drive her eventually into a more active political life, as may her clear contempt" for Ms Arroyo.

The report also said the sons of ousted President Joseph Estrada could also make a stab at the presidency under certain circumstances.

It said the "enduring affection of the 'masa' for the Estrada clan" could make Sen. Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada a potential leader "regardless of the outcome of his father's ongoing trial" for plunder and his own case.

It also said San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito appeared to be "in line to inherit the political mantle of his father."

The report concluded: "Additional biographic detail about these and hundreds of other leaders of the Philippine polity can be found in the biographic portal by visiting Embassy Manila's classified SIPRNET website. Please follow the link below: RICCIARDONE."

US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone was the latest chief of mission appointed to the Philippines.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Barangay,SK polls moved to 2007

Senate, House bicameral panel agree on new date


A Senate-House of Representatives bicameral committee yesterday agreed to move the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to 2007.

The panel’s report will now be sent to both chambers of Congress for ratification before it is submitted to President Arroyo for approval.

"Both Houses have approved the bicameral conference committee report on the granting of (term) extension on the barangay and SK officials," Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Senate panel, said minutes after the bicameral committee reached a consensus.

The barangay and SK elections are supposed to be held in October, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) complained that no funds have been appropriated for the exercise.

This prompted administration lawmakers to reschedule the elections to the last Monday of October in 2007, thus extending the terms of incumbent officials to two more years.

In a press briefing, Gordon said he hopes the Comelec will no longer complain about lack of funds for the 2007 elections.

Likewise, the 14 members of the panel urged the executive department to "respect the decision of the legislature that when an election is properly announced, funds must be appropriated for it."

Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., meanwhile, expressed elation that the barangay and SK elections are now "all systems go."

He extolled the decision of the panel to push for the elections two years from now.

"This shows that we can really pass a legislation very quickly when we act with sincerity and goodwill towards each other," he said.

The congressman was referring to the decision of the bicam to adopt a middle ground as proposed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

According to Locsin, the Senate version of the law pegs the elections next year while the House wanted to conduct the polls in 2008.

The House and Senate eventually settled to hold the barangay polls in 2007 and initially allotted P2.8 billion. But the bicam ruled that the budget be open-ended to allow the Comelec to come out with a more realistic figure.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a supporter of the non-postponement of the elections, said it is better than nothing. He maintained though that the government has the money to fund the elections, contrary to the Comelec’s position

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sept 16, 2005 photos of KaleBeach, Halfmoon Beach, Dumlao and Oceanview

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Lawmaker, CICT propose e-budgeting project for gov't

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva,

WITH CONGRESS scheduled to scrutinize the proposed 1.05 trillion-peso national budget for 2006 this week, a lawmaker and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) have recently disclosed plans to modernize the way government agencies, the Palace, and lawmakers work on the national budget.

"Right now, the system is not transparent. We want to create an online information sharing system, where we're able to drill down on the budgets of each agency. So the budget hearings in Congress will only work on validating proposed budgets, saving us time," said George Kintanar, consultant to the House committee on information and communications technology.

The project will involve the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Computer Center, and private sector consultants, Kintanar said.

Meanwhile, House ICT committee chairman and Representative Simeon Kintanar is in discussions with DBM and other groups to study ways to shortcut the decision-making process, he said.

The e-budgeting project will develop a workflow management system, which will allow government agencies, the Palace, the DBM, and eventually Congress to work on the national budget before it is even presented to the lawmakers for approval.

This project will also allow the public to witness the whole process of creating a national budget since all information will be online, Kintanar said.

"This will allow people to know where the money is going," he said, noting that even the lawmakers will also have to disclose where their pork barrel is going in this proposed system.

Congress is set to begin hearings on the national budget come September 19, 2005. During these marathon hearings, each line agency is required to justify their budgets to lawmakers.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

50,000 pitch in to save Manila Bay on World Cleanup Day

By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Some 50,000 people gathered on Roxas Boulevard early yesterday and took part in the 20th World Cleanup Day celebration by extracting eight truckloads of garbage from Manila Bay.

Rafael Borromeo, head of the Department of Public Service (DPS) of Manila City Hall, described the joint cleanup effort a success. For this year, the event carried the theme "Our Future, Our Choice: Clean and Save our Coastline."

Borromeo said they removed debris along a portion between the US Embassy and the Manila Yacht Club.

The bulk of the garbage, totaling some 80 cubic meters, was taken near the vicinity of the US Embassy. The cleanup began at around 8 a.m. and lasted until noon.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza said yesterday’s garbage collection was smaller compared to their previous hauls.

"In the past, we used to gather some 20 truckloads of trash. This can only mean that there are now fewer people who throw their trash into Manila Bay."

On World Cleanup Day, people from different countries simultaneously go to various cleanup sites and campaign against water pollution.

In the Philippines, the cleanup activity was conducted in Manila, Parañaque City and several provinces, including Cavite and Bataan.

"The cleanup of the coastline is a very special occasion, but cleaning it should not be done just once a year. This should be done everyday because if we allow the water to become more polluted, in the end it is the present generation and the next that will suffer," Borromeo said.

Manila City Hall officials and employees led yesterday’s participants that included representatives from different government agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Navy (PN), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and Environment Management Bureau-Department of Environment and National Resources (EMB-DENR).

Students from different schools, including City College of Manila (CCM), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), University of Manila (UM) and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), also did their share to help the environment.

Just last month, some 5,000 students from PUP conducted "The World’s Largest Human Rainbow in Action" and after a half day’s work, extracted six truckloads of garbage from the bay.

Atienza appealed to all local government units (LGUs) near the Manila Bay shoreline to work together in the cleanup effort. He also encouraged local leaders, the PCG and the PN to join him in drafting the plan to revive the life of the bay.

He said the PCG should help in policing Manila Bay by stepping up its monitoring effort. It should focus on vessels that dock along Manila Bay because they may be the one of the primary contributors to garbage in the water.

"Some of these international ships might have trash on board and they are unable to dispose them while traveling in Hong Kong or other Southeast Asia countries. They only unload their garbage when they enter Manila Bay," the mayor said, noting that some of the garbage they took from the water had foreign labels.

The country should also impose strict laws against the offenders as a deterrent.

He said that in Hong Kong, those who are caught illegally disposing of a cigarette butt are fined HK$5,000 (P40,000).
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Palace retrieves postdated checks

MALACAÑANG has gotten back from the Department of Education three postdated checks, each worth P5 million, the Office of the President recently issued for the high school scholarship program of Zambales Rep. Antonio M. Diaz.

Education Undersecretary for Finance Juan Miguel Luz said in a phone interview before he left on an overseas trip that the Presidential Management Staff picked up the checks last Friday after DepEd refused to act on these since their transmittal in late August.

He confirmed PCIJ’s report that the department would not sign the receipt for the checks because, he said, "postdated checks are not allowed in government transactions."

The checks came from the President’s Social Fund and were believed tied to Palace maneuvers to trash the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo.

Diaz, a member of the Liberal Party that earlier called for Arroyo’s resignation, was among the 158 congressmen who voted last Sept. 6 to approve the House justice committee report junking the complaint.

Luz also said DepEd is preparing a voucher to return to the Palace P5 million covered by a current-dated check also issued by the President’s Social Fund for Diaz’ scholars. The department had earlier deposited the check to its trust fund while it decided what to do, he said.

Diaz, who was not named as the check’s payee, had asked DepEd to transfer the money to him so he could release it to his scholars.

The education undersecretary said DepEd was uncertain how to make the Zambales congressman account for the fund under this arrangement.

DepEd was named payee in all four checks, which are intended for Diaz’s project.

At Malacañang, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye issued the following statement on PCIJ’s report:

The Presidential Social Fund is disbursed under strict rules, officially audited and applied to specific purposes for the public good.

This report linking disbursements of the PSF to the impeachment is wrong, misplaced and unfair.

These matters are open to public scrutiny and if there are violations of law based on evidence, they will be prosecuted.

Truth and moral sense, not bribes, are what enlightened the great number of our lawmakers into voting against the impeachment complaint.

P20 milyon ni Antonio Diaz

P20 milyon ni Antonio Diaz

Ellen Tordesillas, Abante Online

Ayan, lumalabas na ang mga tseke na ibinayad sa mga kongresista na bumoto ng "yes" para patayin ang impeachment complaint laban kay Gloria Arroyo na nangyari nga noong isang linggo. 

Sa report ni Yvonne Chua ng Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, nabuking si Rep. Antonio M. Diaz na tumanggap ng P20 milyon galing sa President's Social Fund. Limang tseke na tig-P5 milyon. Ang isa ay may date na Aug. 21, 2005 (Linggo), ang pangalawa ay September 3, 2005 and pangatlo ay Dec. 3, 2005 at ang pang-apat ay March 3, 2005.

Para hindi masyadong garapal, idinaan ng Malacañang ang mga tseke sa Department of Education para raw sa GMA-Diaz scholarship fund sa high school.

Nakakaduda talaga. Libre ang high school sa public. Bakit ka magbigay ng scholarship fund. Isa pa, bakit ka magbibigay ng scholarship fund ngayong Setyembre, hindi naman pasukan.
Nabuking si Diaz dahil sumulat siya sa DepEd at gusto niyang ipaderetso ang tseke roon sa Zambales division school. Siyempre mas madali na n'yang kubrahin doon. Hindi pumayag ang DepEd dahil wala naman silang pera para roon at ngayon lamang sila nakakita ng post-dated checks ng gobyerno. Hindi dapat mag-isyu ang pamahalaan ng tseke kung walang pondo. Lumalabas na kinukulang na nga ng pera ang pamahalaan.

Maalaala natin si Diaz na naging kontrobersyal ng inakusahan siya ni Hotbabes Anna Leah Javier na nagkainteres sa kanya at ng tumanggi siya ay hindi siya binayaran ng dapat ibayad sa kanyang performance sa Zambales.

Sabi ng iba, bibigyan kaya ni Diaz si Anna Leah at ang kanyang mga kasamahan sa Hotbabes ng scholarship?
Noong isang Linggo, lumabas sa diyaryong Malaya na idineposito ni Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay ang kanyang P5 milyon noong third week of August sa Bank of Commerce. Si Magsaysay ay siyang bumawi ng kanyang signature sa impeachment complaint noong Aug. 22. Si Diaz at si Magsaysay ay magpinsan.

May isa pang Magsaysay na bumoto ng "yes" -- si Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, asawa ni Zambales governor Vicente Magsaysay na pinsan din nina Antonio Diaz at Eulogio Magsaysay. Mga pamangkin sila ng yumaong presidente, Ramon Magsaysay.
Ibinulgar ni Gordon na nangako si Gloria Arroyo kina Magsaysay na alisin ang Executive Order 506 na nagbabawal magpasok ng second car tax free sa Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority dahil 'yun ang negosyo nina Magsaysay.

Malaking pinsala sa ekonomiya ang mangyayari kung alisin ang EO 506 dahil dadagsa sa Pilipinas ang smuggled second cars. Mamamatay ang mga kumpanya ng kotse sa Pilipinas at lalong walang makukulekta na buwis.

Sobra P3 bilyon (P20 milyon x 158) na pera ng taumbayan na gamit para mapatay ang impeachment complaint. Maliban doon, bilyun-bilyon pa ang mawawala sa bayan sa mga pabor na ipinamigay ni Arroyo para lamang mapagtakpan ang katotohanan na hindi siya nandaya noong 2004 elections.
Ibinenta na ni Arroyo ang kanyang kaluluwa. Ang nakakalungkot ay dinadamay niya ang bayan

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gordon bares Subic tradeoff, threatens break with Arroyo

By TJ Burgonio, Christine O. Avendaño - Inquirer

ANOTHER trade-off.

Administration Sen. Richard Gordon yesterday threatened to break ties with President Macapagal-Arroyo if the latter rescinds an executive order banning the importation of used vehicles into the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

"I hope she doesn't sign it because I am going to leave the President if she allows these cars to go over there," a fuming Gordon told reporters during a briefing at his Senate office.

Gordon expressed suspicion that the planned revocation of Executive Order No. 156 was a tradeoff for Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay's withdrawal of his signature from the impeachment complaint against Ms Arroyo last month.

"Why would he withdraw? Why did he accept P500,000? ... Let's put away our masks," he said, referring to the congressman, who is a nephew of the late President Ramon Magsaysay and cousin of Zambales Gov. Vicente Magsaysay.

"That was used in the impeachment; there's a tradeoff there," he added, claiming that Governor Magsaysay and Rep. Ma. Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay brought the congressman to the Palace before his turnaround.

"President Macapagal-Arroyo must change her ways if she wants change. She claims she wants change for the people, then [she] should stop politicking. What is needed in our country is transparency and transformational leadership," he said.

The Magsaysays are political opponents of the Gordons. Both Eulogio and Mitos voted "yes" to quash the impeachment complaint against Ms Arroyo.

Gordon, who himself was earlier accused of entering into a tradeoff with the Palace after his prot‚g‚ was appointed to the top SBMA post, couldn't hide his disgust over reports that the Magsaysays managed to coax the President to revoke the EO.

The Magsaysays run the Subic Bay Motors which imports second-hand cars, according to Gordon.

Proof of deal

The senator said he has proof that indeed the Magsaysays had secured a recommendation from the Palace legal office rescinding the EO, particularly a section which bans the importation of used cars into the country.

But the Palace was mum yesterday on Gordon's claims against the administration and his threat to join the anti-Arroyo forces.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye refused to make any comment, saying he did not personally hear what Gordon told the media because he was in the Cabinet meeting presided over by the President at that time.

Asked whether the Palace has any plan to repeal the EO banning the importation of right-hand vehicles into Subic as Gordon had claimed, Bunye said he had no information on this.

He instead told reporters to address their queries to the SBMA.

Licuanan resignation

SBMA director Armand Arreza, a Gordon protégé, has been appointed new SBMA administrator by the President, fueling speculations that it was a tradeoff for Gordon's vote against the impeachment of Ms Arroyo if the complaint gets transmitted from the House of Representatives to the Senate for trial.

Ms Arroyo's appointment of Arreza reportedly prompted Francisco Licuanan III to resign as SBMA chair. Licuanan had recommended Roberto Garcia, president of automotive battery maker Ramcar, to the post.

But Gordon has denied that Arreza's appointment was a tradeoff.

A revocation of the EO, which provides for a comprehensive industrial policy for the motor vehicle development program, would virtually open the floodgates to the "smuggling" of used cars in the free port, he warned.

"I'll turn my back because that isn't right anymore. You're asking us to bring in more taxes, have people pay their taxes, but you're allowing smuggling. This is too much. How long will the people have to suffer because of that smuggling?"

The deal between the Palace and the Magsaysays on the revocation of the EO, if true, does not augur well for the country, the senator said.


"That's not good. That's what I've been saying. We can't be transactional. We should be transformational, and not always expect that for every help the President, mayor or governor extends, there's a tradeoff," he said.

The EO's Section 3.1, which spells out the ban on the importation of used vehicles into the country, including the free ports, was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals, according to reports.

"I want the Supreme Court to investigate all these judges and all the people there because it is illegal to import a second-hand vehicle that you convert. You know that, there's a law there. How can they get away with that?" Gordon asked.

"Second, it is a violation of the environment. The fuel leaks into the ground water. Third, they're not paying the right taxes."

Gordon, whose wife Kate was defeated by Rep. Mitos Magsaysay in last year's congressional elections, stressed that his decision to go public with the Palace deal with the Magsaysays had nothing to do with politics.

No choice

"This isn't just about politics," he said, stressing that he got riled by the thought that the government was allowing the "rich people" to get away with smuggling while imposing more taxes on the poor.

Gordon admitted that he would have considered crossing over to the opposition camp if only they had a viable alternative. "We don't have a choice in the other side. That's the problem of the people," he said.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

'Splogging' polluting blogosphere with spam, expert warns

By Joey Alarilla

WITH blogs becoming more mainstream while retaining much of their credibility as an alternative voice on the Internet, an expert has warned that they might increasingly be used to spread the most irritating online message of all: spam.

"The problem with spam is that this threat is actually generating revenue for marketers," Mark Trudinger, vice president for Asia of SurfControl told technology journalists at the MediaConnect Asia Security Issues forum, Sept. 5 in Singapore, as he discussed the emerging landscape of threats to the Internet.

As such, marketers have a very compelling reason to see spam in terms of profit, even though it is considered as one of the worst evils by Internet users flooded with unwanted information.

"A new term has even been coined for this new form of spamming, which is splogging. Spammers are taking advantage of MSN's free blogging service. In fact, 70 percent of the spam we monitored over the weekend before came from the MSN blogging area," Trudinger shared.

According to blogger Andy Carvin in his Aug. 25 post "The War on Splogging: Fighting An Online Cancer" at , users most often encounter splogs when they use a keyword on a search engine, or through a false hit via RSS (really simple syndication). These sites automatically redirect you to other blogs and sites.

This is reminiscent of the way popular Internet content, such as porn, MP3s, ROMs or warez, give rise to links that redirect you to a seemingly endless series of sites containing even more links -- all of them misleading search engines and users by embedding popular keywords.

According to Carvin, the term "splogging" was coined by Mark Cuban, in this post. Cuban, of course, is most well-known for being the owner of the National Basketball Association team the Dallas Mavericks, which explains the name of his blog.

Cuban defined a splog as "any blog whose creator doesn't add any written value."

In his presentation, Trudinger noted that spammers are turning their attention to blogs because "the perception about blogs is that they have credibility." He said that the online community puts more trust in bloggers, and blogs are gaining more public acceptance.

Trudinger said splogging and other forms of spam that leverage on online applications that are becoming mainstream, such as spimming (spamming using instant messaging), will be one of the biggest threats to Internet users, who will not only be annoyed by useless information, but prevented from performing tasks, such as the current case with e-mail spam that overwhelms mail servers.

"Spammers will always ask themselves how they can take advantage of the habits of online users," he said.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Job Fair held at Rizal Triangle

Image Hosted by More than two thousand applicants from various barangays of Olongapo City flocked to the Rizal Triangle multi-purpose covered court to try their luck in various job offering by both local and foriegn establishments such as Grande Island, Happy Valley, RCM, Conti Group, Tailin, VA Components, Micera Philippines, Manels Total Dept store, Fortune Trade, Motortrade, World Pacific, Sam's Pizza, Athena International, Pisces, NOOR, Greensfield, Jensen, Active Works, LBS, France Asia, Lead Resources, Citibuilders and Saviour International Placement.

Gordon sulks, scores President's leadership

By Efren L. Danao, Senior Reporter

Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday railed at what he calls President Arroyo's "transactional leadership," citing reports that she had given millions of pesos to some congressmen who had promised to oppose her impeachment.

Gordon, who ran under the majority coalition headed by the President, said Mrs. Arroyo cannot possibly reform society as long as she practices "transactional leadership," which he defined as one that seeks to stay in power through patronage.

"Unless this is changed, politicians and political leaders will be asking her for more perks. There will always be a quid pro quo for their support for her leadership," he said.

Gordon told reporters that Malacañang is about to issue a recommendation allowing secondhand cars to enter Subic Freeport as a concession to the Magsaysays of Zambales for supporting President Arroyo during the impeachment crisis.

Gordon said he was criticizing the President's leadership not because he is still interested in Subic, where he was once the administrator. There were reports that he was pushing for the appointment of a protégé to a plum post in the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

"I am saying this not because of Subic. I am no longer interested in Subic. It is no longer the jewel of the Philippines that was intended to supplant Hong Kong and Singapore as a free port," he said.

He said he could take the President to task because he is independent and has never been a member of her party. He said the majority coalition put up by the President is now dead and that even an opposition senator, Franklin Drilon, is now Senate president.

Gordon added, however, that Mrs. Arroyo is not the only President or national leader who is practicing transactional leadership.

"This has been going on in the Philippines for the last four decades, and even during the centuries that the Philippines was under Spain," he stressed.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye denied that the President was rewarding the Magsaysays for their support. Malacañang has even issued an executive order prohibiting the importation of used vehicles, Bunye said.

Gordon said the Magsaysay clan, led by Gov. Vic Magsaysay of Zambales, owns the largest car company in Subic and Zambales. It makes sense that they would ask Malacañang to lift the ban on the importation of smuggled secondhand cars in Subic because of their car business, he said.

The plan is to rescind the executive order banning the importation of used cars in Subic to give way to the approval of a recommendation that would legalize the delivery of smuggled vehicles into the port, Gordon said.

Lifting the EO would allow a free-for-all business trade for car smuggling syndicates that would have to pay only $500 for taxes. "You are asking people to pay their taxes and then you allow smugglers to come in," Gordon lamented.

He warned that rescinding the EO would spell disaster in the already sorry state of Subic.

"Car smuggling is very rampant in Subic. In the last two years, a total of 100,000 smuggled vehicles were shipped into Subic Bay Freeport," said Gordon, who warned that the cars are substandard and pollutive.

He said the recommendation is part of Malacañang's deal with the Magsaysays. In truth, he said it was the Magsaysays who compromised with the government and not him.

Sen. Joker Arroyo alleged that Gordon had cut a deal with Malacañang to support President Arroyo if she would install Gordon's protégé, Armand Arreza, as SBMA director. Gordon has denied the allegation.

Gordon said the recommendation to allow the entry of secondhand cars in the Subic Freeport was the real reason why AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay withdrew his signature from the impeachment complaint. He noted that Governor Magsaysay is the cousin of the congressman.

"I am told that extreme lobbying was made by Congress­woman Magsaysay and Governor Magsaysay. It was Governor Magsaysay who brought Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay to the President and he turned around," Gordon said.

But when asked if he's going to break away from the administration, Gordon said he has no plans yet but he's ready to leave President Arroyo if she signs the EO that would allow the importation of secondhand cars in Subic.

"I am not breaking away. I have my own principles. But if you ask me if I am leaving, I am ready. I do not appreciate it that Subic, which is supposed to be the hope of our nation, would wither away. If you visit it now, there's just small traders there," Gordon said.

He appealed to Mrs. Arroyo to "change her ways."
--With Max V. de Leon

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Subic Volunteers

Names of Volunteers who are listed in the Volunteers' Shrine can be viewed here in alphabetical order:

Image Hosted by

Visit  http://SubicBay.Ph
for latest developments in Olongapo Freeport City, GawangGapo, Sanggunian, BagumbayanVolunteers, InterGapo Wow Wow Win Subik edPiano

Tag Board

BatangGapo: I think the logical sequence is for Zambales and Bataan to develop itself . . at hindi umasa at agawin ang pinaghirapan ng Olongapo Volunteers
v1: its long overdue dude bring back the pride and the prestige
nice one v1: how about s.b.m.a Subic Bay Missed Arreza and the volunteers (its about time right?)
v1: s.b.m.a. S.muggling B.y M.agsaysay A.uthority???
v2: payumo divine retribution for your misdeeds
v1: look around sbfz it turned into a cheap low class zone ie. street urchins, beggars,stray dogs, cheap carinderias,vendors of all sorts,what a way to impress foreign investors
ab: turncoats will once again try to position themselves in sbma to protect their interest beware to the new chair do away with those undesirables there better and dedicated people to make subic a success
volunteer: according to the grapevine, God punished payumo for maltreating the volunteers. he suffered a stroke. if he does't show up anytime next week, the info may be true. let's wait and see.
JunK: Nasaan na po si Mr. Tong Payumo? Bigla yata siya nawala sa eksena?
mAx: 27Aug: see i told ya! . .
mAx: 25Aug, Licuanan resigned, Antonio to be relieved!
OSCUSN: Subic Bay still lags behind the real super ports in the far east. Too bad the government is more concerned about who is President then improving the economy.
mAx: kudos to DENR & SBMA for coming up with a win-win solution to the problem
Steve: That is what I mean by not being able to expand their operations not being able to land an A-380.
portx: ayan na nga ba cnasabi ko, ecology center ng SBMA nagmarunong kasi, ngayon nalagay pa sa alanganin mga locators. dapat may managot dyan!
SubicVolunteers: Happy Birthday Senator Richard Gordon. We love you sir!
camille: because people voted for her...... and so she did her part.. and what a surprise?!? she had lots of projects for olongapo..
Lin: Fedex decision to move to China is based on the length of the runway at Cubi Point. It's too short to land their new airbus cargo jets. Any other plane in the world can land their except the airbus.
maria: Ngiiii! sikat ba yang babaeng yan?
neg: hello senyo kung sino man kayo!! hehe!! taga subic din po ako,