Saturday, April 30, 2005


Rosebud's P5.8M came from jueteng—PNP execs

By Fe Zamora, Luige del Puerto
Inquirer News Service

THE P5.8 million paid as "agent's fees" to former police agent Mary "Rosebud" Ong came from pay-offs from jueteng, or the illegal numbers game, sources from the Philippine National Police claimed yesterday.

The cash payment to Ong was ordered last January by the then PNP chief Edgardo Aglipay after Ong accused First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo of stopping the PNP from honoring its "service agreement" with her and blocking the release of her agent's fees.

"It was jueteng money. Such transaction would not go unnoticed in Camp Crame," said a top PNP official.

Another source said he knew the officer who delivered the money to Ong in late January. He described Aglipay's courier as a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy.

Aglipay retired in March and was replaced by Director General Arturo Lomibao.

An unnamed top police official had told the Inquirer earlier this week that three relatives of a top government official, known by their code names M1, M2 and JS7, were the biggest recipients of payoffs from jueteng operations.

As speculations flew that M1 was Mike Arroyo and M2 his son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, the Senate mounted an inquiry to unmask the identity of the three alleged recipients of jueteng bribe money.

Reacting to the claim that the funds paid to her came from jueteng bribe money, Ong yesterday maintained that the money she received came from the PNP.

"I collected money from the PNP fund. That is far from being jueteng money," she said in a phone interview.

Ong said the allegations that she was paid from jueteng bribe money would have to be proven first.

She said she was aware of attempts to link members of the First Family, particularly the President's husband, to the jueteng bribe money controversy.

But she said the money that was paid to her came not from Mike Arroyo but from the PNP.

"Don't forget that I am the first one who bravely unmasked the face of FG [Mike Arroyo]. My collection was between me and the PNP, and it was FG who tried to block the release (of the money)," she said, adding that she supported efforts to stop the illegal numbers game.

Ong herself reported that P5.8 million in cash was delivered to her in the Camp Aguinaldo safe house where she was staying two weeks after she publicly accused Arroyo of blocking the payment of her agent's fees for two drug operations in 1998 and 1999.

Ong said she had been paid P5.8 million to cover her agent's fees, and another P1.8 million in interest accrued since 1998.

The payment effectively stopped Ong's media attacks on Arroyo.

At the time, Ong said she presumed the funds paid to her came from the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), which was once headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Ong, a former anti-narcotics agent of the government, turned state witness against Lacson, a former PNP chief, accusing him of money laundering and kidnapping for ransom.

Lapid needs more time

Sen. Manuel "Lito" Lapid meanwhile has asked for more time to decide whether he should inhibit himself from chairing or participating in the Senate inquiry into the latest jueteng controversy.

"He will decide next week," said Lapid's spokesperson and chief of staff Benalfre Galang.

The senator was asking for more time so he would "know what to do," Galang said.

His chief security aide said the senator was not available for an interview.

'Vatican of jueteng'

Opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel said the other day that Lapid, being a native of Pampanga, the center of jueteng operations, should recuse himself from the inquiry for his own good.

Lapid chairs the Senate committee on games and amusement that is conducting the inquiry.

Pimentel said that Pampanga, where Lapid was vice governor from 1992 to 1995 and governor from 1995 to 2004, was the "Vatican of jueteng." His son, Mark Lapid, is now the province's governor.

Pampanga, particularly the town of Lubao, is where suspected jueteng lord Rodolfo "Bong" Pineda lives. Pineda was displaced when his alleged patron, jailed ex-President Estrada, was ousted in the aftermath of the "juetengate" scandal of 2000. Estrada, who is now on trial for plunder, was accused of accepting bribes from jueteng operators.

Of the 1,419 police raids against jueteng operations made in 2001 in Central Luzon, Pampanga reported the highest number at 488.

In 2002 and 2003, it placed second after Bulacan in terms of the most number of raids and number of people arrested.

Watch list

As of 2003, the police watch list of alleged jueteng operators and financiers in the region included Melchor Caluag, Regalado Balboa, Paris Tolentino in Pampanga; Bong and Ruben Pineda in Pampanga and Bataan; Crisologo Ballesteros, Bebot Roxas, Mark Halili and Jimmy Laxamana in Tarlac; Tony Santos in Meycauayan, Bulacan; Abet, Nonie and Jessie all surnamed Viceo in Bulacan; Lito Somera in Sta. Maria, San Jose del Monte and Bulacan towns in Bulacan; Onofre Valenzuela in Obando, Bulacan.

A certain Munti allegedly operated the illegal game in Nueva Ecija; a certain Aging in Olongapo; Peping Quiambao, Zambales; Larry Untayao in Bataan, Pampanga and Angeles City; and a certain Monette, also in Angeles City. Nine of the names on the police watch list were arrested in 2001.
With a report from Tonette Orejas, PDI Central Luzon Desk

Friday, April 29, 2005

Subic to get new administrator

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to appoint a new administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) this week to replace Alfredo Antonio, who will get another government post, a top SBMA official said.

Jose Calimlim, SBMA senior deputy administrator for operations, declined to identify the new administrator and the reason for Antonio's replacement.

Calimlim, who is also president of the Subic Freeport Services Corp., told the Inquirer, "The President has already chosen someone to replace him [Antonio] and she is going to announce it either tomorrow [Friday] or the following days."

Antonio has yet to comment on leaving his SBMA jobs.

President Arroyo appointed Antonio, Calimlim and SBMA chairman Franciso Licuanan III in September. They assumed their posts in October.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Thursday, April 28, 2005

RP joins Asia-wide anti-spam crusade

By Alexander Villafania,

THE PHILIPPINES has signed an Asia-wide multilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Korea, Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore to develop cooperative mechanisms against worsening spam on the Internet.

The National Computer Center (NCC) and the Philippine Computer Emergency Response Team (PH-CERT) represented The Philippines in the MOU, which was initiated by the Korean Information and Security Agency (KIPA) and the Australian Communications Authority.

PH-CERT President Lito Averia said in an interview that this agreement would have each of the signatory countries sharing information on the technical and legal prevention of spam. Countries with existing anti-spam laws like Australia and South Korea will provide legal assistance to countries without such laws as yet.

The MOU is expected to strengthen anti-spam activities in all the signatory countries, particularly in the identification and prosecution of suspected spammers, Averia said. Atty. Claro Parlade of the Cyberspace Policy Center for the Asia Pacific will work on a legal framework for the Philippines, he added.

“Members of this anti-spam crusade could attend meetings, if necessary. Right now, our way of communications is through e-mail,” Averia said.

He pointed out that many governments are now making a concerted effort to stop the spread of spam, which is already considered an economic threat.

In the Asia Pacific alone, he noted, about 70 percent of all e-mails that go through are spam. The Philippines suffers nearly the same amount of spam as its Asian neighbors.

“It’s a worsening problem and there should be a global effort to stop the spread of spam. Our partnership with KIPA and ACA is a fair warning against spammers,” Averia said.

Averia is one of the two proponents of the Cybercrime Bill to which anti-spam provisions have been added.

In an earlier interview, Albert de la Cruz, a former committee chair of the Information Technology and E-Commerce Council, said the Cybercrime Bill that has gone through over a dozen drafts is now in the hands of the committee on information and communications technology at the House of Representatives.

IT spending in RP to hit $1.2B-- IDC

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva,

PHILIPPINE information and communications technology (ICT) spending is projected to hit 1.2 billion dollars in 2005, according to the International Data Corp. in its Directions 2005 briefing in Manila this week.

This is a 12.5 percent increase over 2004, said Manuel Ravago, research manager of IDC Philippines.

About 65 percent of the IT spending will go to hardware acquisition and 28 percent to IT services. About seven percent of the estimated 1.2 billion dollars IT expenditure will be for packaged software, Ravago added.

This increased spending will be driven primarily by improving economic and increased consumer spending, the Philippine government’s push for information and communications technology projects, and the expansion of local telcos.

The bustling call-center industry, the emerging online gaming market, and the growing IT market in small and medium enterprises will all contribute to increase IT spending in 2005.

Ravago pointed out that online gaming is projected to become an 11 million-dollar industry this year. "The expansion of online games and the deployment of technologies related to this industry will boost spending," he said.

E-government projects like the Commission on Information and Communications Technology’s community e-center will also drive spending, he added.

Ravago noted that the Philippine government is projected to spend about 18 billion pesos in ICT-related projects until 2010.

At the other end, Philippine-based telcos are expected to spend a total of 4.74 million dollars by 2009 on ICT, he added.

This will be invested in next-generation mobile networks, new short messaging service and mobile applications, voice over Internet Protocol, new wireless technologies, and broadband deployment.

Jueteng bosses stop operations in countryside

By Ben Gamos and Fred Roxas, MT Central Luzon Bureau

Except for Cagayan Valley, jueteng operations abruptly ceased in all regions of Luzon on Wednesday amid the brewing controversy over the illegal numbers game.

The police in the regions of the Ilocos, Central Luzon, Bicol and Southern Tagalog launched a crackdown on jueteng after an unnamed police official claimed that certain individuals close to high government officials were protecting and profiting from jueteng operations.

Regional and provincial police offices issued press releases announcing how many anti­jueteng operations they conducted and how many people were arrested for illegal gambling.

In Camp Olivas, Pampanga, Chief Supt. Rowland Albano, the regional police chief, admitted in an interview that the police have eased up on anti­jueteng operations because they were kept busy in dealing with serious crimes, like drug trafficking, insurgency, robbery holdups, hijacking and car theft.

But the regional police’s campaign against illegal gambling has resulted in the arrest of 468 jueteng collectors in 205 raids conducted since last January, confiscation of more than P213,864 in bet money and the filing of 102 cases filed in court.

Albano warned all police chiefs under his jurisdiction to exert all efforts in eradicating all forms of illegal gambling in their respective jurisdictions.

Local police authorities also called on the support and cooperation of the governors, city and municipal mayors as well as barangay officials in the renewed campaign against illegal gambling.

In Bulacan, the police reported that 20 bet collectors were arrested in the antijueteng operations in Paombong, Santa Maria, Bocane, Pulilan and Meycauayan. The Paombang drive netted the biggest amount of confiscated bet mo­ney—P11,238 from six bet collectors.

It appears to have been the first time the arrested bet collectors were detained for failure to post bail. In the past, arrested bet collectors could immediately post the bail of P1,000 and were back on their ‘job.’”

In the Ilocos region, sources told The Manila Times that jueteng operators and financiers instructed their collectors and table operators to temporarily cease draws until the ongoing controversy subsides.

“They told us to temporarily stop our operations because of the jueteng issue and advised us to report after the problem has calmed down,” a bet collector said in Ilocano language.

The source said the order was sent to all the operators and table managers through text messages on Monday night after the third and last draw. It said the message was relayed to the chief bet collector who relayed the information to the collectors. Draws were suspended Tuesday morning

Bishop confirms M1, M2 and JS7 in jueteng list


By Marie A. Surbano, Angie M. Rosales and Amita O. Legaspi
Wednesday, 04 27, 2005

Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who has been waging a lonely crusade against jueteng and has even gone to the extent of submitting a list of jueteng lords as well as the recipients of illegal numbers payoffs to the authorities, yesterday confirmed that the three relatives of a top Malacañang official, codenamed M1, M2 and JS7, are among those in the jueteng lord's payroll receiving payolas in exchange for protection of the continued operations of the illegal numbers game in the country.

Catholic bishops, this time, however, lent him support as ranking officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday questioned Malacañang's silence over the alleged involvement of the relatives of top Palace official on the illegal jueteng payoffs.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales raised this issue after the Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop, a former president of the CBCP, disclosed that the three presidential relatives were listed in the payroll of the gambling lords.

Rosales said the Catholic Church has been strongly against jueteng, but since it is an "organized extortion" and run by a "syndicate" it has never been stopped. "The church has never given its consent to gambling but we don't have any police powers. All we can do is point things out to the people," Rosales said in an interview during the thanksgiving Mass and lunch for the installation of Pope Benedict XVI held at the Villa Imaculada in Intramuros, Manila.

He is also convinced that politicians would not bother to stop the operations of jueteng since they are among the beneficiaries of these "organized extortion."

"If the politicians are benefiting, how can you expect them to prohibit these (jueteng operations)," Rosales said, adding, "Are the politicians ready to condemn jueteng when they are, from top to bottom, benefiting from this (jueteng)?"

Caloocan City Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, like Rosales, said he is also alarmed at the growing operation of jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling in the country.

"It's getting worse and worse. It has become a cancer, but the big question is why the government appears to be deaf and blind to this," Iniguez noted.

The bishops believe that not only the operators are earning in the jueteng operations but even the military and police footmen are in the payoffs.

President Arroyo's spokesman Ignacio Bunye also yesterday challenged the accusers of the three relatives of a top government official who are said to be protecting jueteng operations in the country to come out and prove their accusations.

According to Bunye, somebody has to come forward and prove his allegations as it is not fair to those whose names are being dragged without the accusers even presenting any evidence against the alleged protectors.

"The problem is that it is all gossip and rumor, all innuendo and no proof is being shown," he said during a radio interview, adding it is difficult to debate on issues based on blind items.

Reports have insinuated that First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo and his son Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo are allegedly part of the so-called jueteng trio.

The three relatives of a top government official, codenamed M1, M2 and JS7, allegedly have been dictating on who will get the top police post in provinces with huge jueteng payola.

M1 is the oldest of the three; M2 is a young politician from Luzon; and JS7 is allegedly the uncle of M2.

The three allegedly get substantial cuts from whatever the police officials get as payoffs from the illegal numbers game, apart from their payolas from the gambling lords.

The politicians who are involved in the jueteng operations allegedly have the blessings of M1.

Many of them are either political allies or members of a party identified with the top government official.

Speaker Jose de Venecia took the same Malacanang line, appealing to the his colleagues and the media as well to ignore the recent reports that linked personalities close to the President.

"Let us not dignify these rumors. they are just plain rumors unless there will be someone who would surface and openly say that this one and that one is connected with jueteng," the Speaker said.

House Minority Leader Francis Escudero expressed disappointment with De Venecia's stand.

"It is not his call (whether to say the reports should be dignified by the lawmakers and the media)," Escudero said during a separate interview, adding the allegations have to be investigated.

"As the saying goes. where there is smoke there is fire. We owe it to our people and to ourselves to remove any cloud of doubt regarding this issue," he said.

But the die is cast.

The Senate has set the stage for the unmasking before the public of the three close relatives of the high-ranking government official allegedly raking up millions of pesos in payola operations, which are said to have grown into a P30 billion a year industry.

But before formal investigation takes place anytime soon, the senators wanted to have the so-called whistle-blower who had branded the three jueteng beneficiaries as M1, M2 and JS7 identified.

The Senate has directed its committee on games, amusement and sports headed by Sen. Lito Lapid to carry out immediately the inquiry upon the initiative of Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said Lapid has to inhibit himself from sitting as chairman of the inquiry to avoid facing the possible issue of political partisanship.

Lapid ran and won his Senate seat in last year's elections under the administration's K-4 coalition and, like Mrs. Arroyo, is a native of Pampanga province, an area where jueteng is allegedly rampant.

Pimentel, during a telephone interview, said he had approached Lapid on the matter, pointing out that a "number of personalities stand to be dragged in the way" once the congressional inquiry begins to roll.

The opposition leader is said to prefer that his resolution be referred to the justice and human rights committee headed by Sen. Joker Arroyo and the local governments committee headed by Sen. Alfredo Lim.

Administration Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, however, said the chamber should first ascertain the source of the charges against M1, M2 and JS7.

"Why should this be leaked to the public without the one who leaked not willing to back up his statement? Who is he? Is he an official? A deep penetration agent? An elective official? Or an appointive official?'' Biazon asked.

He said the PNP should also be asked to conduct a parallel investigation as to who these personalities are.

He added the PNP should be given the upper hand in ascertaining the real identities of the persons behind the codenames so that appropriate actions can be taken by authorities.

"The director general of the PNP is obligated by his position to uncover this whole issue and if they are jueteng lords, they should be prosecuted... and be sent to jail where they belong," Biazon said.

"This business of some elements leaking stories like this to the public that tend to erode the confidence and trust of our people in institutions is a grave problem. Are there elements within the organizations that want to erode the public's confidence in their institutions? We see this all the time... anonymous sources leaking information they do not want to confirm," the senator pointed out.

Biazon appeared to have overlooked the issue of the PNP chief, Arturo Lomibao, being hounded when he assumed his post for his allegedly close association with Mr. Arroyo.

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., who was instrumental in the impeachment trial of the now detained President Joseph Estrada, has opted to stay clear of the jueteng payola issue.

During a chance interview with Senate reporters after attending his confirmation hearing as new ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia, Guingona gave a surprise answer to queries on his knowledge about the jueteng operations in the country.

"I don't know the details. I don't have the facts. Just excuse me in this matter," he said.

When asked if he has lost interest in the jueteng issue, Guingona answered in the negative and explained that he had not been following the issue after he stood before the Senate to accuse Estrada.

"I don't have evidence," Guingona said.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The new Subic

SOMETHING new and something different are evolving in the SBMA under the new management team led by Administrator and Chief Executive Officer and banker Alfredo Antonio, Chairman of the Board and former longtime President of Ayala Land Francisco Licuanan, and AntiSmuggling Task Force Chief and PMAer Gen. Jose Calimlim (ret.)

Both locators and long-time residents of the Subic Freeport Zone have observed a new wave of enthusiasm, focus, dedication, and a no nonsense approach to problems from the newly appointed management "troika" headed by Administrator "Freddie" Antonio, a former Chairman of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), who is well respected in the financial community for his integrity and technical competence.

For those who are not familiar with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), or Subic for short, other than the duty-free shops, Subic, the former and largest US naval base outside continental United States, and former home of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, has an area of 55,000 hectares of land, 12,350 hectares of water area, for a total of 67,350 hectares straddling Zambales and Bataan provinces, including Olongapo City, Subic and San Antonio towns in Zambales, and Hermosa and Morong towns in Bataan.

As a former military naval base, which was a major training facility for jungle warfare, survival training, and submarine base of the 7th Fleet, Subic has remained ecologically unspoiled and has retained one of the very few remaining rainforests in the whole of Luzon, including mangroves and marine sanctuaries.

The main thrust and focus of Administrator Freddie Antonio is to enhance further the attractiveness of Subic as an investment center, an air hub, a major maritime gateway, a tourist destination, while remaining environmentally friendly.

The marching orders of the new management team of CEO Antonio had earlier been spelled out by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in her Inaugural speech, when she announced, "The Subic-Clark corridor will be the most competitive international service and logistic center in the Southeast Asian Region," which will indeed, be further reinforced when the Clark-Subic-Tarlac Expressway is completed by next year.

Thus far, what Administrator Antonio has accomplished, apart from reducing burglaries and housebreaking incidents which were widespread in the previous administration while dramatically reducing smuggling in close cooperation with Gen. Joey Calimlim, which rampant smuggling had given Subic a bad name, were, among others, the immediate audit of SBMA assets, costing and liabilities, stabilizing and rationalizing employee relations and middle management, better delivery efficiency, and closer rapport with locators, neighboring LGUs, media, local communities, and protecting the Aeta tribes of 150 households, or approximately 700 individuals ekeng out a subsistence existence.

The main focus of the SBMA management is to achieve a new breakthrough in additional foreign brand-name locators, substantive investors, expansion of the Japanese industrial park, entry of new Taiwanese locators, full employment, and added tourism facilities, in the pursuit of President Gloria Arroyo’s 10-point program.

These will facilitate investment and business inflows with the liberalization of telecommunications, water and power, airport, harbor expansion, roadways, industrial peace, and law and order.

The new optimism of Administrator Antonio and company is anchored on the surge in tourism worldwide which has not only been unstoppable but tourist flows are also being diverted from tsunami-devastated areas to the Philippines and others while China, on the other hand, has recently decreed that it will not entertain new investments below Fortune’s 500 largest companies, which new policy perfectly fits the Philippines’ main policy thrust which is the development and promotion of medium-size manufacturing activities and SMEs.

In the last six months since Administrator Antonio took over the helm in SBMA, the new team has generated nearly US$20 million in new investments, 39 new registrations and licenses to operate, 146 renewals, and nearly 10,000 in jobs generated, which makes Subic more attractive since the SBMA has had no labor strike since 1992 at the onset of the Ramos administration up to today under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Thus, retooling the organization towards optimal service delivery which really means making "turnaround" ever faster, corruption-free, hasslefree, cost-competitive, and hopefully continuing investor confidence, are all that Freddie Antonio is focusing on and praying for which he does a lot.

However, from the grapevine comes the unconfirmed but persistent rumor that Mr. Antonio is being groomed for promotion elsewhere which is sad news for us long-time residents of Subic.

Name Big 3 of 'jueteng,' solons urge whistle-blower

Name Big 3 of 'jueteng,' solons urge whistle-blower

By Juliet Labog-Javellana, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Michael Lim Ubac
Inquirer News Service

LAWMAKERS want to know the identities of the three relatives of a top government official known by their code names M1, M2 and JS7 who are allegedly the biggest recipients of payoffs from "jueteng" operations in the country.

"I am calling for a Senate investigation to unmask the persons behind the code names M1, M2 and JS7," Senate President Franklin Drilon said.

Drilon said he would file a resolution calling for an investigation of the beneficiaries of the illegal numbers game after the Inquirer reported how the relatives of the top government official had been raking in millions of pesos as protection money from jueteng operators.

Drilon said Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. had been calling for an inquiry into the alleged failure of the Philippine National Police and local officials to implement Republic Act No. 9287, the law enacted last year against jueteng, a P30-billion-a-year industry.

A ranking police official said M1, M2 and JS7 were getting a total of P2 million a month from police officers in just one region in Luzon, reducing the take of the officers to P3 million. The P2 million was on top of what the trio receive from operators of the illegal numbers game.

The Inquirer source said the relatives of the top government official were also influencing the assignment of police officials to provinces with huge jueteng payola.


Asked to comment on speculation that M1 was First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and M2 was his son Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said: "We don't engage in rumors."

The young Arroyo refused to comment on whether members of the First Family were being alluded to by the whistle-blower.

"I don't think so because I have nothing to do with that. Our names are not being mentioned," he said.

"When I read the Inquirer, it didn't come across my mind that (he) was referring to us. What was said was that those involved were close to a top government official," the Pampanga representative said.

Come out

He called on the whistle-blower to come out in the open and name names so "we can get to the bottom of this."

Drilon said the allegations of corruption involving close relatives of a high-ranking government official should not be taken lightly.

"We should not forget that the very same charges caused the downfall of a former President. We must not underestimate the Filipino people's continued distaste for public corruption spawned by jueteng operations," he said.

Detained President Joseph Estrada was impeached and booted out of Malacañang after Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson disclosed that he had been receiving payola from jueteng operators.

Admitting that the issue was affecting the President, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez urged the whistle-blower to come out and prove his allegations.

"If it's true, they have better come out now. It's unfair, it reflects badly on the President," Gonzalez told Department of Justice reporters.

He said the whistle-blower should come out like Singson.

Lacson knows

Opposition Senator Panfilo Lacson, Estrada's former police chief, said he knew the jueteng payola takers code-named M1, M2 and JS7.

"I just know them," Lacson said, but he declined to name names.

"It's obvious who these people are. Let it not come from me. You can guess who these people are, (if you read) between the lines," he said.

He said the names of the beneficiaries of jueteng payoffs would surely come out if the Senate investigation was conducted.

Lacson reiterated that when he was chief of the PNP he never accepted jueteng money.

He said jueteng money was used during national elections in May 2004.

"It started in the election, fund-raising for the election. That is why there were many who were appointed because of their contribution to the election from jueteng," Lacson said.

First Family

In the House of Representatives, Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez moved to take the heat off the President's family and relatives.

Golez filed House Resolution No. 747 which sought authority from the plenary to open an inquiry into the "reported increase in illegal gambling activities."

He said the House committee on public order and security should take the lead in the inquiry, followed by the House committee on games and amusement.

Blind item

But Golez said the inquiry would not focus on the involvement of M1, M2 and JS7.

"I don't think we should react to a blind item," said Golez.

He said Congress should instead look into the exposé of Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

The resolution cited a study by the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng headed by Cruz showing that "jueteng and other illegal numbers games are in fact more rampant today than during the governance of President Joseph Estrada."

With report from Armand N. Nocum

Four million Americans call some other country home

By Jerry Schwartz, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK: More Americans than ever before have decided that America is no longer their home.

They’ve put down roots abroad, from Cuba (an estimated 2,000 Americans, the latest figures show) to Britain (224,000). They’re in Germany (210,880), in the Philippines (105,000), in Israel (184,195).

If they were a US State—call it Expatria—its population, some four million Americans, would place it right in the middle, along with Kentucky and South Carolina.

Expatriates, citizens of this floating, far-flung state, are changing the very definition of “American.”

“What does nationality really mean in these days, in these times of great mobility, at a time when there is an opportunity to make one’s way in a society without really any serious impediments?” asks Tom Rose, a 68-year-old retired businessman who has spent all, but a few years abroad since 1961, most of them in Paris.

Rose and others have forsaken America for many reasons. They fall in love with a foreigner, or with an exotic place or culture. They are looking for an adventure, or for a cheaper place to live. They go because their job is there, or because their heart is no longer here.

Or, like Glen Rubenstein, they have given up on the American political system.

Rubenstein is following a trail blazed in the 1960s and ’70s by draft resisters who fled to Canada; the number is estimated between 50,000 and 100,000, and about 25,000 remain there today, men in their fifties and sixties who have built new lives.

The disaffected had left the United States before. After World War I, members of the Lost Generation—disillusioned with the war’s slaughter, dispirited by America’s conservative nature—settled in Europe, particularly in France. The number of Americans living overseas more than doubled, from 55,608 in 1910 to 117,238 in 1920.

But that was a small increase compared with what was to come. In 1940 there were almost 119,000 Americans living overseas; in 1950, there were more than 481,000 and in 1960, 1.37 million.

These were, for the most part, not disgruntled people. In the postwar era, America’s muscular economy sent businessmen and their families all over. At the same time, travel became easier, and cheaper, and Americans became more affluent and open to foreign adventure.

Monday, April 25, 2005

'Jueteng' trio dictate on PNP posts?

'Jueteng' trio dictate on PNP posts?

By Luigi del Puerto
Inquirer News Service

THREE relatives of a top government official have been dictating who will get the top police posts in provinces with huge jueteng payola, according to a ranking police official.

In exchange, they get a substantial cut of whatever the police officials get as payoffs from the illegal numbers game.

"They're the influence peddlers. They get you a post, you give them a cut in your jueteng take," the police official told the Inquirer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The difference now," he said, "is that these three persons get both from the police officials and from the jueteng operators. That's how greedy they are."

In just one region in Luzon, they get a total of P2 million a month, shrinking the police officers' take from P5 million to P3 million. That's on top of what they get from the operators, also estimated to be in the millions.

Patronized by the poor, jueteng has reportedly become a P30-billion-a-year industry which government after government has failed to kill.

The provinces where jueteng remain allegedly rampant include Pampanga, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna, according to the police official.

Allegations that ousted President Joseph Estrada received huge payoffs from jueteng lords led to his impeachment and eventual overthrow in 2001.


Reacting to allegations that senior officials receive millions in jueteng payola every month, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said these were unfounded.

"That is why even before these reports came out, the police had already ordered stations to intensify operations against all forms of illegal gambling," the PNP spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil, said.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye ignored the report that three relatives of a top government official were the top recipients of jueteng money.

"All we can say is that we consider jueteng illegal. This disease has been there for a long time and it will require the concerted effort of all sectors, especially our citizens, to help us reduce or totally stop it," Bunye said yesterday on dzXL radio.

Code names

The alleged code names of the three relatives of the top government official were M1, M2 and JS7. M1 is the oldest of the three; M2 is a young politician in Luzon, and JS7 is his uncle, the Inquirer source said.

Not only that, the source said, many local executives in Luzon provinces with huge jueteng operations were either directly or indirectly involved as financiers or managers of the illegal numbers game.

The politicians all have the blessings of M1, he said.

Many are either political allies or members of a party identified with the top government official.

When simply on the take, what a governor receives is the same as that of a police provincial director, the police official said.


He said the trio -- M1, M2 and JS7 -- lobby so their boys would get regional and provincial posts in Luzon considered to be "paradise" by the police because of the huge jueteng payoffs.

But these "outsiders" do not control all police officials, the source clarified.

A top police official confirmed that policemen "up to the provincial level" were on the take in some of these regions. But regional police chiefs and the top brass in the PNP were not, he said.

He explained that posts in these regions were given to some of the best police officers as a form of "reward."

"As you will notice, all the best officers are assigned in Central or Southern Luzon, and they usually deliver," he said.


In many instances, what the officers receive from jueteng subsidizes police stations and is used to finance operations, according to the official.

The PNP leadership turns a blind eye to the arrangement. "If it can be helped, the police say nothing about it. We're silent. But this does not mean the top officials encourage it," he said.

"That's the way it goes. If a police chief receives money from jueteng, that's the risk he takes. Sorry for him if someone squeals on him in the province," he said.

Regional chiefs and top officials in Camp Crame, the PNP general headquarters, already have "many other sources of money" and are careful not to dip their hands into jueteng, he said.

"As your (career) advances, you become more careful. I don't think they (top police officials) touch it (jueteng money)," the official said.

But the Inquirer source claimed otherwise.


A unit in the PNP acts as the "bagman," collecting around P22 million a month for the big bosses.

"So everybody's happy, from the police chiefs in the provinces to the generals in Crame," he said.

"The system has been in place for quite sometime. Inabutan na ni Art yan (It's been there before Art)," he said, referring to PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao.

Reacting to the news reports that jueteng operations were on the rise, Lomibao ordered anew a crackdown on jueteng.

"Lomibao ordered all the regional directors (in) Region 1 to Region 5, the Cordillera (Autonomous Region) and NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) to intensify the all-out campaign [to stamp out jueteng] in view of persistent reports of increasing jueteng operations," Bataoil said in a text message sent to the Inquirer.

He noted that in an earlier memorandum, Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes had directed the police to form a Task Force on Anti-Illegal Gambling and to be more aggressive in their anti-jueteng campaign.

The head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Chief Superintendent Ricardo Dapat, now heads the task force.

Policemen have also been reminded of the three-strike policy. The policy states that if there have been three successive successful operations against jueteng in a province or region, the provincial or regional police chief will be sacked.

"[Lomibao] reiterated that the previous policies [on] command responsibility stands, and violators will be dealt with accordingly," Bataoil said.

President's home province

The government's campaign to stamp out jueteng is being hobbled by the unfettered operations of gambling lords in Pampanga, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's home province, Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday.

"In fact, there's no honest-to-goodness action from Malacañang [to eradicate the illegal numbers game]," said Pimentel, who filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the implementation of the year-old anti-jueteng law.

The Senate minority leader said that the authorities had failed miserably to enforce Republic Act No. 9287, which was signed into law in April last year and imposes higher penalties and fines on jueteng operators.

"If we go by the records, only the runners -- the hoi polloi -- are being rounded up. Not the big ones," he said. "And the information filtering into my office is that a number of jueteng protectors are not only members of the police but also local officials."

Pimentel challenges local officials to eliminate illegal numbers game

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel Jr. (PDP-Laban) has challenged governors and mayors to eliminate jueteng and other illegal numbers games all over the country.

Pimentel hurled the challenge at the conferment of awards on local government officials who have successfully stamped out jueteng in their provinces, cities and municipalities recently. The awardees were chosen by the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (KBLJ) or National Crusade Against Jueteng led by Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, also former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

"Jueteng can be stopped and you, the local government awardees today, have shown how to do it. The beauty of your example is that you have proven that despite the difficulties, it can be eradicated with perseverance, pure motives and indomitable courage. And it is replicable by other equally-dedicated public servants all over the country," he said.

A former mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, Pimentel explained in his remarks why the situation now is more conducive for governors and mayors to fight jueteng and why it was difficult for them to pursue a similar task during the martial law years.

He said that during martial law, the police was under the control of the central government and the maintenance of law and order was primarily in the hands of the police.

"The governors and mayors at that time were bystanders in the process of enforcing the law in their localities," he pointed out.

Pimentel added that the corruption process – to get the authorities to look the other way – usually began with bribing the police to allow jueteng or masiao to operate in their backyard. And if the local police had the strong backing of their superiors, they could and did ignore the governors and the mayors, he said.

But today, with martial law gone, Pimentel said the power to protect jueteng in the provinces, cities and municipalities has shifted to corrupt local authorities from the corrupt police. He said the reason is that governors and mayors now have a lot of a veto power over whoever is appointed chief of police or provincial police director under the Philippine National Police Law.

"Now, the mayors and the governors can influence the conduct of the police officers assigned to take the top police posts in their local government units. The mayors and the governors have ample power to direct the police to stamp out jueteng in the respective towns, cities and provinces. If their anti-jueteng policies are not followed by the police, they could demand the replacement of the erring police officers or file the requisite administrative or even criminal charges against the offenders," he explained.

Pimentel said juetend can be permanently extinguished as a moral, social and economic plague if President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will pursue a no-nonsense execution of the law against illegal gambling and a graft-tree national police leadership will fully implement it.

"Unfortunately, under the circumstances, we can only hope that it will take place sooner than later," he said.

The lone senator from Mindanao also assailed renewed moves in Congress to legalize jueteng.

"Legalizing jueteng is tantamount to raising a white flag of surrender to an evil thing because as the fallacious argument goes it cannot be stopped anyway. With that twisted logic, should we not legalized prostitution, aborted and drug dealing, among other pernicious activities, because they cannot be stopped?" Pimentel said.

He expressed dismay that some national and local leaders of the country political, police and military do not see the evils of jueteng.

Chikka says it has 15M subscribers to mobile IM service

Chikka says it has 15M subscribers to mobile IM service

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva

SINCE the launch of its service in 2001, the Manila-based mobile technology provider Chikka said that subscribers to its mobile instant messaging service has grown to over 15 million.

"That number already includes the PC-based and mobile phone subscribers to the service," according to Chito Bustamante, chief operating officer of Chikka Asia Inc. He adds that there has been an average of 30,000 registrations in a day.

Chikka currently handles at least 10 million text messages in a day, says Bustamante.

Founded by a group of Filipinos who established the defunct e-commerce website, Chikka was one of the first local start-ups that focused on business of text messaging or short messaging service (SMS), close to the tail-end of the dotcom crash in 2000.

For the past four years, Chikka has built a business around text messaging technology. Its first "killer application" was Chikka

Text Messenger, combining the power of SMS and the Internet.

Chikka's mobile messaging service allows PC-based users to send a text message to a mobile phone subscriber. The phone subscriber can in turn reply to a sender for a fee--a technology eventually patented by the company.

Bustamante noted that five of the 15 million Chikka mobile messaging subscribers are PC-based, with at least three million of them PC-based users living abroad. This indicates a growing base of overseas Filipino workers using its mobile messaging service.

The technology behind Chikka Text Messenger was among the first of 20 patents granted by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore under the International Patent Cooperation Treaty.

While there were similar mobile Instant Messaging applications when Chikka was launched, they didn't offer a reply-back feature, Bustamante said.

Chikka is now looking at expanding its mobile instant messaging to other countries through affiliates or partners. It has recently set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in China to bring this service to that country, the Chikka executive said.

Outsourcing to overtake telecoms as top moneymaker in five years

Outsourcing to overtake telecoms as top moneymaker in five years


The outsourcing business is poised to dislodge telecommunications as the Philippines’ top moneymaker over the next five years with the economic impact of call centers and data encoding expected to grow by nearly twice that of mobile phones and prepaid call and text cards.

This was based on a study by BNP Paribas Peregrine Securities Inc. which says that call centers such as Advanced Contact Solutions, Inc. (ACS), the wholly-owned call center of publicly-listed Fil Hispano Holdings Corp. (FHC), that are quick in providing quality service will have the edge in the fast-rising industry.

In its study, BNP Paribas said the outsourcing business is projected to contribute 6.5 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010 or at par with the impact of the telecommunications and transport sectors combined.

"Outsourcing in general is expected to turn into a $200-billion global industry by 2010. For the Philippines, this would translate into a 20-fold increase in revenues from around $500 million in 2004 to $10 billion, assuming the country is able to capture its target market share of 5 percent,’’ BNP Paribas said.

Competition in the global outsourcing business is understandably tightening up with India still the dominant player and China with its cheap labor advantage surfacing as a major player.

But BNP Paribas said that the Philippines would "hold its own against the competition" in view of its large pool of English-speaking college graduates preferred by American companies.

The Philippines is becoming the choice site of Americans for voice-enabled services with India cornering the non-voice demand.

‘The Philippines has already emerged as an alternative site to India, particularly in the call center segment mainly because American clients are forcing service providers to set up back-up operations elsewhere as a safety measure," said BNP Paribas.

This should explain why some Indian outsourcing firms like WiPro Spectramind and ICICI OneSource were on the hunt for opportunities in the Philippines.

With demand for call center services on the rise, BNP Paribas said the main challenge of the industry is not bringing in revenues because there are plenty to go around but providing customer service agents ahead of the competition.

"Poaching is intense particularly among mid-level officers with some degree of experience in the business," BNP Paribas said.

BNP Paribas cited ACS as one of the best among independent providers or is it entire industry in making the "quick ramp up which is crucial in securing new contracts.’’

ACS has grown more than ten times its capacity of 252 seats in 2002 to 2,700 this year making it the fourth-biggest call center in the country.

It has around 750 candidates waiting on the sidelines which allow it to deploy as many seats in just 45 days, including training and fitting of new office space.

BNP Paribas said ACS’s strategy of building long-term relationships with its agents by giving them a clear career path and make their work environment as comfortable as possible.

ACS has an average attrition rate of below 37 percent of substantially below the industry rate of 55 percent.

It has also been innovative in scouring the pool of college graduates by forging alliance by going outside the normal route.

ACS has tied up with premier schools such as the Ateneo Graduate School to help train potential agents; put up the country’s first call center institute; and tied up with the North Luzon Growth Commission in herding state-owned universities in Northern Luzon to send their students to the firm’s exclusive job fairs.

The company has shunned the "shotgun approach" favored by the industry in recruiting agents.

"We target only those who are proficient in English so that further training will involve mostly skills specific to a particular service. As a result, it accepts as much as 90 to 95 percent of all those who pass the preliminary screening,’’ BNP Paribas said.

New unit against jueteng formed

New unit against jueteng formed

By Anthony Vargas, Reporter 

THE Philippine National Police on Sunday announced the formation of another special task force to go after all forms of illegal gambling in the country.

Despite the failure of previous antigambling task forces formed by the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government, Sr. Supt. Leopol­do Bataoil, PNP spokesman, told reporters the new special unit will conduct “aggressive operations against illegal gambling.”

The special unit, called Task Force Anti-illegal Gambling Operations, will focus on ridding Luzon of the illegal numbers game, jueteng.

The task force was formed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes after the PNP chief, Director General Arturo Lomibao, admitted that Luzon is a major hub of illegal-gambling syndicates in the country.

The special unit will tap personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.  It will be led by the CIDG director, Chief Supt. Ricardo Dapat.

Bataoil said the PNP chief is reminding all regional police commanders in Luzon to “intensify the campaign against illegal gambling” and enforce Republic Act 9287, the antigambling law.  He added that three-strike policy on jueteng is still active, pointing out that the senior police commanders will be held responsible for failing to stamp out jueteng in their jurisdiction.

At the height of antigambling campaign under then interior secretary Jose Lina several regional and provincial police commanders were relieved of their posts for failing to curb jueteng.  Lina had vowed to “eradicate jueteng within one year.”  He failed.

Among those who were relieved was Edgar Aglipay, who quickly recovered from this debacle and later appointed by President Arroyo as PNP chief. Lomibao replaced Aglipay upon the latter’s retirement early this year.

Under R.A. 9287, those proven to have placed bets on illegal gambling games can be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days to a maximum 90 days prison term.

Members of illegal-gambling syndicates face between eight years and 12 years in prison while operators can be sentenced to between 12 years and 14 years in jail.

Gambling financiers face a 14-year to 16-year penalty while government officials and policemen who coddle illegal gambling will spend between 16 years and 20 years in jail.

Elected officials found guilty of being involved in illegal gambling will also be fined P5 million and permanently disqualified from public office.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

New GSA chief lauds RP's mobile communications growth

By Alexander Villafania

The Philippine mobile communications industry continues to be the best growth model in Asia as its subscriber base gradually increases and new SMS based services fully utilize the GSM (global system for mobile communications), says the newly appointed Chairman of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) Asia-Pacific Chapter.
Anders Kager, also Nokia's regional marketing director, noted that the Philippines' subscriber growth was the highest in Southeast Asia with 32.7 million subscribers last year.

In a recent visit to the Philippines, he lauded the Philippines' ingenious SMS products such as phone credit sharing a.k.a. Smart Communications' ‘Pasaload’ and overseas remittance service a.k.a. Globe Telecom's “G-Cash.”

Kager noted that demand for these services fuels economic growth, “The effects of such economic activities go along way down the line in terms of providing employment, raising income levels, and uplifting living standards.”

He further said that the Philippines, by addressing unique local needs, has become a good test case for other service providers across Asia to see how innovative add-on telecommunications services can improve a country's economy.

“The economic potential of having 40 to 50 percent of the country's population connected through a seamless wireless network provided by operators and their vast supply chain networks is enormous,” he observed.

Kager likewise urged the Philippine government to deploy third generation (3G) platforms soon, such as EDGE (enhanced data rate for GSM environment) and WCDMA (wideband code division multiplexing access) -- two main bandwidth-intensive 3G platforms.

Kager was particular about the plans of the Philippine National Telecommunications Commission to release 3G licenses, which he said would pave the way for deployment by mobile carriers, as well as new and more compelling wireless applications.

The GSA chairman added that Australia and several Asian countries are starting to deploy 3G networks this year, among them Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Big 3 top PNP jueteng list

By Fe Zamora
Inquirer News Service

THEIR alleged code names are M1, M2 and JS7.

A ranking official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed the three were the country's top beneficiaries of "jueteng" funds.

Talking under a cloak of anonymity, the official also alleged that they were close relatives of a top government official.

"Alam na namin kung sino-sino yon kahit naka coda (We know who they are despite their coded names)," the official said, referring to the trio.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye had said that the administration would maintain its tough stand against jueteng and that "there will be no sacred cows" in the fight against the illegal numbers game.

Patronized mainly by the poor, jueteng has reportedly become a P30-billion-a-year industry which government after government has failed to kill.

Allegations that ousted President Joseph Estrada received huge payoffs from jueteng lords led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives and his eventual overthrow in 2001.

According to the PNP official who talked to the Inquirer, M1 allegedly collects at least P5 million per month per province where jueteng proliferates, while M2 supposedly gets at least P3 million per province.

As a former head of a provincial directorate, the official admitted to the Inquirer that he himself had received jueteng money ranging from P750,000 to P1.5 million each month.

"Jueteng is just as rampant [as during the Estrada administration], and it still goes all the way up there," the official claimed.

It has become even worse in the sense that "outsiders" also get their allocations, the source added.

He cited the "example" of JS7, who is supposedly based south of Manila but who also allegedly gets from P3 million to P5 million in jueteng money from operations in Central and Northern Luzon.

"JS7 does not recognize boundaries. He goes all the way to the North, kaya magulo (that's why it's confusing)," the source also said.

The official made the allegations in the wake of claims by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz last week that jueteng operations had worsened under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The archbishop said more public officials were now "willing recipients and grateful beneficiaries of gambling payolas."

When it allegedly began

According to the PNP source, the "big 3" collectors "started asserting their presence" after Ms Arroyo was proclaimed the winner of the presidential election last year.

Before that, the source said, the trio "were just flexing their muscles."

But even the PNP cannot stop jueteng.

"It has become part of the system. We cannot stop it," the official said.

Padaca's 'lonely crusade'

Last year, when he was transferred to an office in Camp Crame national police headquarters, the official claimed the unit he was moved to also received a share of the money collected from jueteng operations nationwide.

He identified the provinces where jueteng remained rampant as Pampanga, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna.

Fighting jueteng can be a "lonely crusade," Isabela governor and staunch anti-jueteng campaigner Grace Padaca told the Inquirer.

Padaca said that she was informed that as governor, her supposed share of jueteng money amounted to P3 million a month but she rejected it.

"The police can't help you because they will tell you 60 to 80 percent of their operation funds come from the mayors. Where do the mayors get it but from jueteng?" Padaca said on the phone.

An endless battle

Padaca was among this year's Parangal Para sa Bayan awardees for having maintained a "jueteng-free" province.

"We're fighting jueteng but it seems an endless battle," she said.

"We can launch campaigns but people also resist because jueteng is a form of entertainment. They say, why are the rich allowed to gamble in casinos? Education also has to come in," Padaca said.

Spurning her monthly jueteng share also had its consequence.

According to Padaca, political foes are now preparing to launch a "recall election" against her, using the total of P30 million in jueteng money she had rejected since she assumed office in June 2004.

Challenge to Arroyo

Catholic Bishop Ramon Villena challenged Ms Arroyo to stamp out jueteng.

"The scourge of jueteng can be eradicated if the President ... declares war on jueteng," he said in a statement.

Villena issued the statement on Friday as the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng held its annual award rites in San Carlos City, Pangasinan, for local and police officials involved in the campaign against the controversial numbers game.

Villena cited two mayors in his diocese -- Ruben Sayo of Aritao town, Nueva Vizcaya province, and Richard Longid of Cabarroguis town, Quirino province -- for keeping their towns jueteng-free.

"If she claims that her victory [in the presidential election] was without jueteng grease, why does she not simply announce this in all television stations and national dailies," Villena said of the President.

'No to jueteng?'

Villena added: "She does not need to launch a military campaign. She needs no military forces, no strategic planning, no hard work in order to stop jueteng. All she needs is a pure, determined will to [stop] jueteng."

Villena said jueteng "stops when our local officials say so."

"Jueteng ceases when the governor orders the provincial [police] director to stop jueteng," Villena said. "Similarly, the entire Philippines will be totally free of jueteng when President Macapagal-Arroyo will be bold enough to categorically say 'no' to jueteng."

He said that while the administration had vowed to eradicate poverty, it had failed to curb illegal gambling which, he said, was the root of corruption. With a report from Melvin Gascon, PDI Northern Luzon Bureau

DOH warns of E. Coli infection from swimming pools, beaches

The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday warned the public of possible infection of the Escherichia Coli or E. Coli bacteria from swimming pools and beaches this summer.

The bacteria recently killed the eldest daughter of Mandaluyong Rep. Benjamin Abalos Jr.

Troy Gepte, a DOH medical specialist, said one can get the bacteria from eating dirty food or accidentally drinking water from contaminated swimming pools or beaches.

E. coli are bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains are harmless, several are known to produce toxins that can cause diarrhea. One particular E. coli strain called O157:H7 can cause severe diarrhea and kidney damage.

Anyone can become infected with E. coli O157:H7, but the very young and the elderly are more likely to develop serious complications.

E. coli O157:H7 can be acquired by eating contaminated food. Eating meat that is rare or inadequately cooked is the most common way of getting the infection. Fresh vegetables, unpasteurized fruit juices and raw milk have also caused outbreaks. With careless food handling any food product eaten raw can be contaminated by raw meat juices.

Person-to-person transmission, especially in child care settings, can occur if infected people do not wash their hands after using the toilet or diapering children. Drinking contaminated water and swimming in contaminated water may also cause infection.

Some infected people have mild diarrhea or no symptoms at all. Most identified cases develop severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Blood is often seen in the stool. Usually little or no fever is present. Symptoms generally appear three to four days after exposure, but can take as long as nine days to appear. Persons experiencing these symptoms should contact their doctor.

E. Coli can be fatal if the person's resistance is weak, Gepte said.

Abalos’ daughter, Ciara Marie, died of E. Coli infection late Friday at the intensive care unit of Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

Abalos said his daughter was rushed to the hospital Thursday after she fell ill.

Lomibao orders regional PNP chiefs to intensify fight against jueteng

Director General Arturo Lomibao, Philippine National Police chief, on Sunday ordered PNP regional directors in Luzon to intensify the fight against the illegal numbers game jueteng.

Lomibao said a task force that will go after illegal gambling operations in the country has been formed and will be headed by Chief Supt. Ricardo Dapat, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes issued a memorandum on April 20 reminding the PNP to intensify its campaign against all forms of illegal gambling.

Vice President Noli de Castro also called for a massive campaign against jueteng after Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz revealed that rampant jueteng operations were ongoing all over Luzon and some parts of the Visayas.

Cruz earlier chided de Castro for turning down an invitation to take part in a press briefing that would discuss the government's anti-jueteng campaign.

In his directive, Lomibao ordered regional directors of police offices in Regions 1 to 5, the Cordillera and Metro Manila to intensify their "all-out campaign in view of persistent reports of increasing jueteng operations."

Lomibao reminded police chiefs that previous policies of command responsibility is still in effect.

He said "all violators will be dealt with" and bettors will be arrested and penalized under Republic Act 9297 that increases penalties for the operation of illegal numbers games.

Lomibao said that under the law, people who patronizes illegal gambling can be jailed from 30 to 90 days.

"The law also states that protectors or illegal gambling coddlers will also be penalized with 12 to 14 years of imprisonment," he said.

Friday, April 22, 2005

House committee approves 3 bills on releasing patients

By MARICEL CRUZ, The Manila Times Reporter

Several congressmen are backing three bills that call for penalizing hospital owners and medical practitioners who refuse to release patients for not fully paying their bills.

Rep. Antonio Yapha Jr. of Cebu, chair of the House Committee on Health, said more than half of his 45-man panel affixed their signatures on House bills 68, 2127 and 2584.

The bills have been consolidated and referred to the House plenary for debate, Yapha added.

Rep. Mayo Almario of Davao Oriental, author of House bill 2127, said while the rights of hospital owners or medical practitioners must be respected, there must be a more humane way of treating patients who, having been adequately attended to, already wish to leave the hospital if not for their unpaid bills.

"We have often heard of stories of patients not being able to leave the hospital or medical clinics simply because they cannot pay their bills. There are cases where parents are forced to leave their newly born child, surviving relatives who cannot claim the body of their loved one, and patients held hostage until they can pay the bills," Almario said in his explanatory note in the bill.

Almario said it would definitely be unfair on the part of the patients to have them held in detention until such time that they can fully pay their obligations.

Party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran expressed his support to the measures and called on the House leadership to act swiftly on them.

"Administrations and staff of hospitals who turn away indigent patients and refuse to give them medical treatment without first giving a substantial downpayment or guarantee should be made criminally liable, and even held responsible for any deaths or worsened condition of patients," Beltran said.

"Any staff or doctor or health professional who turns away or refuses to admit an indigent patient during an emergency situation should be held criminally liable and suspend his or her license to practice," he added

Earth Day 2005: Saving Planet Earth

BY the 1960s, evidence of environ-mental degradation – mountains of garbage, fishkills, polluted waters, etc. – had started to catch the attention of various individuals and organizations. Concern with the need to protect and preserve the environment grew.

Two men figured in making Earth Day a yearly global celebration. In the United States, Senator Gaylor Nelson in 1962 called the nation’s attention to the worsening degradation of the environment in the US. He noted that the environmental issue was absent on the nation’s political agenda. The political leaders were not concerned. Through his efforts, he organized and successfully held the first Earth Day celebration in the US on April 22, 1970.

Mr. John McConnel was the other person in the Earth Day movement. In the 1969 National UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, he proposed an Earth Day to "celebrate Earth’s Life and beauty and to alert earthlings to the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balance upon which all life on Earth depends."

They attracted United Nations Secretary General U Thant’s support. On February 26, 1971, Secretary General U Thant signed a proclamation for the annual celebration of Earth Day beginning March 21, 1971. The proclamation called everybody’s attention that Planet Earth is endangered, that only the people of Earth can stave off further disaster and that the delicate balances of nature is their responsibility. In succeeding Earth Day celebrations, the energies of industry and society were redirected from progress through products to progress through harmony with Earth’s natural systems for improving the quality of life for all living things.

Planet Earth can be saved and preserved. But this requires the enthusiastic participation and cooperation of all – the rich and powerful with the poor and disinherited people, big and small nations, industrialized and developing nations, all contributing their share of the responsibility of making Planet Earth not only habitable but livable for generations to come.

Let us all preserve Planet Earth. It is the only planet we have in the universe

National ID dry run set

Malacañang to try system first on state employees

By Ma. Theresa Torres, Reporter

THE controversial national ID will be issued first to government workers, according to guidelines drawn up by Malacañang.

On Wednesday the Palace released Executive Order 420 listing the guidelines for enforcing the ID system in all government agencies.

The E.O., signed April 13, stressed the need to streamline and integrate the processes and issuance of ID cards in the government to reduce costs and improve business transactions with the government.

The E.O., however, does not say how the ID would be used in the campaign against terrorism. Interest in the national ID system was revived after the series of deadly terrorist attacks in February. The Arroyo administration stressed then that a single ID for the population would make it harder for terrorists to move around.

The E.O. says the ID shall contain the holder’s name, home address, sex, picture, signature, date and place of birth, marital status, names of parents, height, weight, two index fingers and two thumbprints, prominent distinguishing features, tax identification number (TIN) and any number issued by other agencies.

Each ID shall also be given a reference number.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has been tasked to integrate all government ID systems into one single ID.

The E.O. also sets safeguards to prevent any infringement on the rights of the public. Among the safeguards:

The data to be recorded and stored shall be used only for establishing the identity of the person.

In no case shall the collection of other data be in violation of a person’s right to privacy.

Stringent systems of access control to the ID database shall be set up.

Data collected and stored shall be kept and treated as strictly confidential and the personal or written authorization of the owner shall be required to access the data.

The ID card shall be protected by advanced security features and cryptographic technology.

A written request by the owner of the ID card shall be required for any correction of data.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita will ask NEDA and the Department of Budget and Management to help draft the implementing regulations for the system.

After the implementing regulations, the government expects to roll out the system in two months.

Employees in state agencies and government-owned and -controlled corporations will get the first crack at the national ID, Ermita said, and the private sector will follow soon.

He said the government is confident that E.O. 420 will not suffer the same fate as Administrative Order 108 calling for a national ID issued by then-President Fidel V. Ramos.

Senators, however, would rather have the national ID system pass

through legislation than through an executive order.

The Senate minority leader, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., said that “only a law can compel a national ID system.”

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon prefers the national ID system to be legislated to provide safeguards, “especially if the safeguards would carry a provision of penalty for any violation of the system.”



My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

In 1996 we made a film which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did "duck and cover," and ten mannequins I used in my "triangle of life" survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover. There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the "triangle of life."
This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under their desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life". The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building. They are everywhere.


1) Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jamb falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of th e building is not damaged.

8) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked;

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their
vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Spread the word and save someone's life...

Doug Copp
American Rescue Team

Executive Order on ID system for govt workers out

Malacañan on Thursday released Executive Order 420 directing the adoption of the ID system in all government agencies, DZMM reported.

Correspondent Izza Reniva Cruz reported that the EO was signed on April 13 and copies of the order were distributed to palace reporters Thursday afternoon.

The EO calls for the streamlining and integration of the ID system in all government agencies and government-owned and -controlled corporations.

Palace officials said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri has been ordered to implement the EO.

The ID system will be effective within 60 days upon the release of the order.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier said the EO would use the information already available to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Commission on Elections and the National Statistics Office (NSO) and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as data base for the ID system.

Malacañan said the release of the EO was delayed due to legal issues that have yet to be resolved.

Ermita said the Palace’s position is that the President can implement the national ID system through an EO without the need for a law to be passed by Congress.

Still, Ermita said, the President wants the legal arguments for this position exhausted to prevent any challenge to the EO.

Neri said that so far 10 legal issues have been cleared already.

The President earlier said she did not want the ID project to suffer the fate of former President Fidel Ramos’ EO 108 on the national ID system which was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1997.

Ermita said no law emanating from Congress is needed since the EO will only unify the existing ID systems of the various government agencies.

Based on Neri's recommendation, a permanent reference number will be issued to every state worker to be imprinted on his ID card.

Neri said the individual reference numbers will be issued by the National Statistics Office, an agency under the NEDA, which is the official repository of birth records of all citizens.

The ID system will contain the name, address, sex, picture, signature, place of birth, date of birth, marital status, name of parents, height, weight, two index fingers and two thumb marks, any prominent distinguishing marks like moles, and the tax identification number

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Arroyo tells public: Buy Petron products

A DAY after a nationwide transport strike crippled public transport in key cities, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged the public to buy petroleum products from the quasi-government Petron Corp.

"We're calling on everybody to buy from Petron rather than from rival firms because this is a deregulated environment. It's demand and supply," the President said yesterday at a news conference in Malacañang.

Petron, which is 40-percent owned by the government and has a market share of 38 percent, has not raised its prices the past few weeks.

"We have been looking at crude prices and have observed a softening over the past 10 days. Because of this, we see no immediate need to increase prices. We will hold off any increase as long as we can," Petron public affairs manager Virginia Ruivivar said.

Over the weekend, private oil firms raised the prices of gasoline and diesel by 75 centavos a liter and the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by 75 centavos a kilogram.

Officials of oil firms may face two-year prison sentences if they refuse to explain to the Department of Energy (DoE) by 5 p.m. today why they raised fuel prices by 75 centavos a liter over the weekend despite dropping world oil prices.

Energy Undersecretary Peter Anthony Abaya said the DoE yesterday sent another letter to the oil firms, seeking an explanation for the price increases, as the first letter went unheeded.

He said Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla had asked oil companies, through a letter sent Monday, to explain under oath their latest price increases, which came at a time when world prices had gone down by more than 10 percent from all-time highs.

Special attention, he said, was placed on the 75-centavo-a-liter price increase over the weekend as this digressed from the 50-centavo-a-liter pattern that the oil companies had been following for the past several weeks.

It was the seventh gasoline price hike since the beginning of the year, resulting in a cumulative increase of P3.85 a liter. For diesel, it was the eighth price increase, bringing the cumulative price hike to P4.05 a liter.

LPG prices have risen thrice, or by a total of P2.15 a kilogram, since January.

P32 a liter for gasoline

Data from the Department of Energy show that pump prices of unleaded gasoline now range from P30.65 to P32.08 a liter, while diesel is being retailed at between P25.70 and P27.65 a liter.

Prices of LPG now range from P356 to P420 for an 11-kilogram cylinder.

Several jeepney groups staged the strike to protest the series of oil price increases.

Responding to the strike, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, after meeting with transport leaders on Monday, said the government would likely grant the petition for a P2.50 increase in the minimum jeepney fare by the first week of May.

Second letter

Abaya said the second letter pointed out to the oil firms a provision in Republic Act No. 8479, or the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998, which says that non-compliance with reportorial requirements or any order from the energy secretary was punishable by two years in prison and a fine of between P250,000 and P500,000.

Chapter 3, Section 12 of the Oil Deregulation Law enumerates requirements that oil firms have to comply with, including submission of any reportorial requirements, use of clean and safe (environment and worker-benign) technologies, response to any order of the energy secretary, and registration of any fuel additive with the DoE prior to its use as an additive.

"We ask that this request not be ignored," Abaya said.

Missing the point

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the government missed the point of the successful transport strike that hit Metro Manila and other urban centers on Monday, saying the proposed fare hike will ultimately benefit the oil companies.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said an increase in public transport fares would not be enough to cover the cost of maintaining a jeepney franchise because of the continued increase in oil prices.

"With oil prices still going up, the fare hike will simply go to the oil monopolies. The transport sector will still suffer (and) the commuters, even more," Reyes said in an interview.

He said the scrapping of the Oil Deregulation Law and the nationalization of the oil industry were the solutions to the crisis.

Special powers for Arroyo

In the House of Representatives, calls to repeal the Oil Deregulation Law yesterday received bipartisan support.

The congressional leaders also favored granting "special powers" to Ms Arroyo to deal with the looming oil crisis.

House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles joined the move led by Minority Leader Francis Escudero and militant party-list lawmakers to review the Oil Deregulation Law.

Escudero said the Oil Deregulation Law, which allows oil firms to raise prices without seeking government approval, should be reexamined to give government greater flexibility in setting fuel prices.

"We can't blame the government. But government should at the very least try to do something. They're raising the white flag already. We can't throw in the towel just yet," said Escudero.

Non-OPEC countries

Escudero suggested a new law that would require oil companies to buy from non-OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) members such as Russia and China, which sell oil at a more "reasonable rate."

He also suggested that government stockpile oil reserves to be sold to local oil firms when the prices in the world market became too prohibitive.

Nograles said he was amenable to the proposal of Escudero for Congress to give additional powers to the executive to rein in oil prices.

He said Congress should return to the government the power to intervene in the pricing of oil as he noted that a deregulated regime had opened opportunities for abuse by the three big oil companies.

Acceptable option

The House majority leader said Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Caltex Philippines Inc. and Petron Corp. had been acting like a cartel.

"The purpose of legislating the oil deregulation law was to encourage all companies to offer more acceptable options to the consumers. But instead of protecting the consumers, the law has become a tool of aggression by these oil firms," Nograles said.

Party-list groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis have been seeking the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law since the 12th Congress.

IMF: RP in bottom 8 of poor tax collectors

At 20 percent, the Philippines has one of the lowest ratios of public revenues to gross domestic product (GDP) in the period 1990 to 2002, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

This ranks the Philippines 26th among 32 emerging market economies reviewed by the multilateral lender.

In its World Economic Outlook report, IMF said the Philippines belongs to the bottom eight in terms of public revenues to GDP ratio.

The IMF also reported that China has a 14-percent ratio; Costa Rica, 16 percent; Lebanon, 17 percent; Pakistan, 18 percent; Indonesia, 18 percent; India 19 percent and Cote d’Ivoire, 19.5 percent.

The lender said emerging market economies generally have more volatile revenue ratios and effective tax rates than industrial countries.

In terms of effective direct tax rate, the Philippines’ stood at 15 percent of GDP while its effective indirect tax rate was at 8 percent of GDP, the lowest among 13 emerging market economies.

In terms of volatility of revenues, the Philippines public revenues to GDP ratio stood at 12 percent, higher than other Asian countries such as Malaysia with 6 percent; Thailand, 7 percent and India, 4 percent.

The Philippines has the same ratio with Indonesia, while Korea and China had higher ratios of 15 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Given the above situation, the IMF urged emerging market economies to exercise sustained packages of reforms to strengthen and broaden the tax base.

This would provide governments access to higher and less variable revenues, while reducing their high public debt.

The increase in public debt in emerging market economies has been concentrated in Latin America and Asia.

The IMF said effective tax rates of emerging markets are generally low, suggesting tax avoidance through legal or illegal means and weak tax administration remain "serious" issues to be addressed.

Emerging market economies were told to implement reforms such as tax and expenditure improvements, reduction of exposure to exchange rate and interest rate movements, and addressing the risks from contingent and implicit liabilities. The IMF said the continued reliance on taxes and transfers related to commodity exports is a weakness of many current tax systems, and efforts are needed to broaden the tax base.

The average public ratio in emerging market economies, which is about 70 percent of GDP, now exceeds that of industrial countries.

The IMF said the high level of public debt raises the risk of a fiscal crisis in some countries and imposes high costs, discouraging private investment, and constraining the flexibility of fiscal policy.

The lender said governments in emerging market countries generally have weak revenue bases with lower yields and higher volatility and are less effective at controlling expenditures during economic upswings.

It said a sustainable public debt level for a typical emerging market economy should be 25 percent of GDP.