Saturday, April 29, 2006

EDITORYAL - Pagmimina: Paghuhukay sa sariling libingan

MARAMI pa ring Pinoys ang ayaw sa operasyon ng mining companies. Ayon sa latest survey ng Social Weather Stations (SWS), 53 percent lamang ang nagnanais na ipagpatuloy ang pagmimina sa bansa. Mahigit kalahati lamang ang pumapabor. Marahil lubusan na nilang nakita ang masamang dulot ng pagmimina. Nakita na ang mga halimbawa sa mga nakaraang trahedya.

Nagiging kontrobersiya na naman ang Philippine Mining Act of 1195 kung saan maaaring magsulputan na naman ang mga mining companies. Kung noon ay marami nang nagmimina, baka ngayon ay maging triple pa lalo pa at ang gobyerno mismo ang nag-aanyaya sa mga mining companies.

Noong nakaraang taon sinabi ni President Arroyo na kikita ang Pilipinas sa pagmimina ng hanggang $90 billlion sa foreign investment. Bukod sa kikita ang gobyerno, marami rin umano ang magkakatrabaho. Umano’y 43,000 trabaho ang malilikha at mas malaking pera ang isasampa bilang buwis.

Malaking pera ang nakikita ng gobyerno sa pagmimina. Subalit hindi naman nakikita kung ano ang kahihinatnan ng mga residenteng maaapektuhan kapag nagkaroon ng problema kagaya ng nangyari sa Marinduque noong 1996. Tone-toneladang toxic wastes ang tumapon sa Boac River at naging dahilan para mamatay ang ilog na pinagkukunan ng ikabubuhay ng mga tao roon. Bukod doon, nagkaroon ng sakit ang mga residenteng nakatira sa paligid ng minahan. Maraming nagkasakit sa balat, kidney at baga.

Noong nakaraang January nagkaroon ng cyanide spills sa Rapu-Rapu Island sa Albay dahil din sa pagmimina. Maraming isda ang namatay at nasira ang kapaligiran dahil sa cyanide spills.

Marami ang tutol sa pagmimina sapagkat nakita na ang mga masasamang nangyari hindi lamang sa pagkasira ng kapaligiran kundi pati na rin sa buhay ng mga tao. Hindi na maipagwawalambahala ang mga nangyari na kung mauulit pa ay baka mas lalo pang kapahamakan ang maaaring idulot. Kikita nang limpak ang pamahalaan dahil sa pagpasok ng mga mining companies subalit nakalubog naman sa hukay na libingan ang mga tao partikular ang mahihirap. Magbibigay nga ng trabaho pero ang kapalit pa rin naman noon ay kapahamakan. Maski ang Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines ay mahigpit ang pagtutol sa pagmimina. Alam ng CBCP na kapahamakan ng taumbayan ang kahahantungan ng pagmimina.
Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

Road project to Mount Pinatubo opposed

By Albert B. Lacanlale - Sun Star

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - The tourism department has expressed strong opposition to a Korean travel agency's project constructing a road through mountain ranges towards Mount Pinatubo.

Tourism Regional Director Ronnie Tiotuico said the road trailblazing project along Crow Valley in Capas, Tarlac is being undertaken by the PDC Development Corporation owned by Cris Park and Patton Kim.

The road is being made within areas owned partly by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and under the political jurisdiction of the Municipality of Capas in Tarlac.

A long stretch of the mountain has already been cleared by heavy equipment in a span of three months, Tiotuico said.

According to the tribal community, the 20-kilometer stretch road through the mountain ranges from Capas, Tarlac all the way up to Botolan in Zambales was meant to provide comfort and convenience for foreign tourists wanting to make it to the crater with the least amount of effort and time.

During the anniversary of the travel company on April 20, about five Korean tourists suffered major injuries when their 4x4 vehicle turned on its side while negotiating an uneven terrain.

The tourists, who were on their way to the crater of Mount Pinatubo, were brought to Manila for treatment.

Koreans comprise 95 percent of foreign tourists visiting Pinatubo.
Although the project is tourism related, Tiotuico said they are concerned on the project's potential threat to the communities surrounding Mount Pinatubo.

The tribal community along the area, he said, fears the possibility of an avalanche of loosened volcanic debris resulting from the trailblazing project, especially during heavy downpour or slight tremor.

The tourism department, upon receipt of reports of the project, immediately asked the environment department in Central Luzon to look into the project and to determine if the project is compliant with environmental laws and best practices.

A report indicates that no environmental clearance was issued by the environment department nor was there a free and prior informed consent certification (FPIC) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The recommended trail to the volcano for the last seven years has always been the 30-kilometer nature-formed streambed along the O'Donnell River where tourists are needed to drive on board all-weather vehicle for an hour and trek for two hours before reaching the majestic crater.

Judge won’t downgrade Subic rape raps; GIs won’t enter plea

By Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

The Makati City regional trial court threw out yesterday a Department of Justice motion to reduce the charges against three of the four Marines accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipino woman last year, keeping all of them detained as principal defendants in the case.

The four Marines were arraigned in court yesterday in a case that sparked anti-US sentiments, including calls for the scrapping of a 1999 defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States.

Judge Benjamin Pozon, following legal procedure, entered a plea of not guilty on their behalf when the four American servicemen refused to enter a plea.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez last week said he found no conspiracy surrounding the alleged rape and said authorities should keep only one Marine as the principal defendant — Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith — who could face capital punishment, and the three others as accessories, who could face up to 20 years in prison.

Pozon said he could not allow the downgrading of the charges "on the basis of the evidence not yet presented" to the court.

Pozon also said the move by Gonzalez "not only asks for the disregard of the requirements of due process but also tends to erode the court’s independence."

Gonzalez maintained his position that there was no conspiracy among the four Marines to rape the woman but will not appeal the judge’s decision, which he said could prolong the case if defense lawyers make an appeal.

"I don’t think there is any evidence of that. If there was an iota that could make them principals, I would not have hesitated," he told a press briefing.

Private prosecutor Evalyn Ursua, who opposed the Department of Justice’s motion to amend the charges against the Marines, said the prosecution was "happy" about the decision.

John Coluso, whose law firm represents one of the three Marines, said the defense panel could request the judge to reconsider his decision or immediately ask the Court of Appeals to overturn it.

Smith, and his alleged co-conspirators — Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier — entered the packed courtroom in civilian clothes accompanied by several Americans believed to be US Embassy staff.

They showed no overt reaction as four Filipino women shouted "Shame, Shame On You" outside the courtroom. Several dozen leftwing Filipino protesters staged an anti-US picket outside the courthouse.

The Marines, who have been in custody of the US Embassy, sat on a bench on the left side of the room facing the judge.

The rape victim’s mother arrived with a woman whose head was covered with a bandanna, partly obscuring her face. It was unclear if the woman was the victim.

Journalists and photographers, who were not allowed inside the courtroom, had to peer through glass panels to see inside.

About two dozen members of left-leaning women’s rights group Gabriela picketed the courthouse, with placards saying, "Justice for Nicole," "Jail the Yankees," and "Rage Against Rape."

The woman, whose real name has not been publicly disclosed, has been identified only as "Nicole."

Malacañang does not expect the rape case to strain relations with Washington, Manila’s closest ally.

"Our cooperation with each other should not be affected by the case," Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor told reporters yesterday. "What’s important is that there is a legal process that addresses the case and it is proceeding."

Defensor accompanied President Arroyo at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City yesterday to receive a C-130 military cargo plane from US Ambassador Kristie Kenney who, in behalf of Washington, turned over the airplane to the Philippine Air Force.

The four Marines belong to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and had finished counterterrorism maneuvers with Philippine troops in Zambales.

They were on shore leave when the alleged rape occurred on Nov. 1 inside a van at the former US Subic naval base close to Olongapo City after the woman went with one of the soldiers on a bar-hop.

The soldiers had insisted only one of them had sex with her and that the act was consensual.

The rape case sparked angry calls for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement, a 1999 accord allowing large-scale US military exercises in the country.

It also allows American troops charged with crimes to remain in US custody until legal proceedings are completed.

The case is seen as a black mark on US military exercises that have been credited with helping weaken al-Qaeda-linked militants in the southern Philippines.

The Philippine government sought custody of the Marines after an Olongapo City regional trial court issued warrants for their arrest.

The case was later transferred to Makati when the Olongapo court judge recused himself from the case following questions about his impartiality.

Washington rejected Manila’s request for custody, invoking the VFA. However, the US decision infuriated many, including several lawmakers, and set off small but noisy anti-US street protests.

In January, a congressional committee recommended that President Arroyo — a staunch US ally in the war on terrorism — abrogate the VFA.

The joint congressional panel approved a resolution authored by Sen. Miriam Santiago calling for the termination of the accord to enable the Philippines to renegotiate a new agreement.

The resolution must be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives before it can go to Mrs. Arroyo for her approval or veto.

It, however, did not get past Congress. Lawmakers in favor of the accord had warned against making a rush to judgment, arguing that scrapping it could compromise the country’s security.

Maita Santiago, secretary general of the left-wing group, Migrante, said they are seeking the scrapping of the agreement.

"Along with the rape of our women, the VFA manifests US military intervention in our country and paves the way for countless other atrocities against our people and our land," Santiago said. — With Jose Rodel Clapano, Paolo Romero, AP, AFP

Plea to downgrade raps v. 3 US Marines junked

MANILA -- Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Benjamin Pozon rejected Friday the amended complaint against the four US servicemen indicted for allegedly raping a Filipino woman in Subic in November 2005.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. was dismayed by the decision to make all four suspects as principals saying the court's ruling was based on a technicality and not on the merits of the case.

Gonzalez earlier downgraded the charges from principals to mere accessories against Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis because of insufficiency of evidence of conspiracy to commit the crime. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was retained as principal accused.

Smith and his co-accused did not enter any plea in Friday's arraignment at the Makati RTC Branch 139, prompting Pozon to enter a not guilty plea in their behalf.

People packed the hallway leading to the sala, while militants outside the court building held a rally.

Gonzalez said he received information that the defense counsels will elevate to the Court of Appeals (CA) the decision of Pozon to dismiss his resolution following a review of the Olongapo City Prosecutor's findings of probable cause against the American suspects.

He said the filing of an appeal might unduly affect the one-year period prescribed in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for any criminal cases to reach resolution, after which the US government can not be compelled to produce the accused to face trial.

"That can probably be a cause for delay because I understand that the defense lawyers will bring it up to the CA," he said.

Gonzalez lashed at Pozon's claim that his "judicial independence" will be compromised if he would accept the amended complaint adopting the Department of Justice secretary's resolution downgrading the charges against three of the four soldiers.

He said the Rules of Court recognized the authority of the secretary of justice to reverse the resolution of the city or provincial prosecutor, citing a Supreme Court ruling in Roberts versus CA case.

"The judge erred. The judge said it would affect his judicial independence if he follows my resolution. How can he say that his judicial independence will be affected when these people have not even been arraigned yet? The court has not acquired jurisdiction over the case yet," Gonzalez said.

He further said the decision of the Makati City court to charge the four suspects as principals might only weaken the case because there is no evidence against Carpentier, Silkwood, and Duplantis as such.

"I don't think there's any evidence on that. If there was an iota of evidence that could make them principals, I will not have hesitated (to charge them). I don't believe there's a case against them as principals. There's a rape case against them but not as principals," Gonzalez said.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez said he received information that the defense will produce two witnesses during the trial that will bolster the claim of the victim that Smith raped her.

"There are two credible witnesses who will destroy this case if they will testify. But I can't say who they are, I don't even know if they are willing to testify," he said. (ECV/Sunnex)

Fr. Reuter presents 'other side' of the accused

By Volt Contreras- Inquirer

AS he puts it, American priest James Reuter, one of the country's most revered religious figures, considers "99 percent" of his time as spent for the spiritual uplift of Filipinos.

Yesterday, the beloved Jesuit and prominent communicator of the local Catholic Church showed who was getting the other one percent.

Reuter made quite a surprising appearance at the arraignment in Makati City of four American Marines charged with raping a Filipino woman. He was there, he said, as a "spiritual adviser" of the accused.

The priest said he has been "saying Mass twice a week" for two of the accused Marines who are Catholics—Lance Corporal Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier—at the US Embassy building, where the soldiers have been held since November last year.

The other accused, Lance Corporals Daniel Smith and Keith Silkwood, are Protestants who are attended to by their own pastors, but "I always get to talk to them" on spiritual matters as well, Reuter said.

"They asked for a priest," Reuter recalled in an Inquirer interview.

He said it was Chris Rowen, an embassy official and retired US Marine now married to a Filipino woman, who approached him regarding the soldiers' request.

"They didn't have anything else to do and they wanted something to keep their mind (about). So I've been seeing them twice a week, almost since the time they were brought to the embassy."

And in those series of visits, he said, he has come to "know them more personally."

Outside the embassy, Smith and company would expectedly face the wrath of anti-US protesters or any Filipino citizen outraged by the alleged rape.

'Not at all wild'

They were, after all, accused of taking part in the rape of a 22-year-old Filipino woman in a rented van while going on a joyride at the Subic freeport. Smith allegedly had sex with the complainant while the rest watched and even "cheered" their comrade on.

But Reuter, who was careful not to touch on the merits of the case, gave a different picture of the four GIs.

"They are really clean-cut men, that's why I wanted the press to meet them. If you'd just talk to them, they make a very, very good impression; very soft-spoken, not at all wild," he said.

A few days before the arraignment, Reuter wrote the Inquirer as director of the Catholic Church's National Office of Mass Media encouraging the paper to get an interview with the four accused.

In the letter, he noted that "all the publicity that these men have received" had been about the charges against them, statements from the alleged rape victim, and legal opinions of the lawyers or government officials involved."

Yesterday's court appointment, he said, was media's chance to "balance the picture" by interviewing the suspects even for a brief moment. (The suspects' escorts, however, whisked them quickly in and out of the courtroom, preventing any media interview.)

Personal backgrounds

Reuter also provided brief personal backgrounds on the suspects, the kind of information that has been withheld by their custodian, the US Embassy:

Smith was 19 years old at the time of the incident. He celebrated his 20th birthday three weeks ago.

Duplantis is 21 and was described by Reuter as "a gentle, soft-spoken" African-American.

Silkwood, 22, is "the tallest of the four."

Carpentier, 27, is the platoon leader. His wife and children are based in Okinawa. He has a 7-year-old son and a daughter who has just turned 4.

In the interview, Reuter said he had also been in contact with the soldiers' parents in the United States.

How to keep their chin up

Asked what kind of counsel the Marines have sought from him, he said: "How to stay cheerful, how to keep their chin up, how to smile, in this terrible, stressful situation."

"I try to give the word of God to them, to keep them cheerful, because they are very, very tense and very depressed, really," he added. "And I like them personally, that's one reason why I'm here."

Whomever God sends me

As someone who had endeared himself to Filipinos, why was he that willing to get involved in an emotionally charged case seen as a potential test of Philippine-US relations?

"Because I'm a priest, for heaven's sakes," he smiled. "I deal with Filipinos 99 percent of the time. Now I'm asked by an American. Am I going to say no?"

"I'm always praying to be worthy of the people who come to me, whom God sends to me."

TRS Circuit Car Class starts

The Tuason Racing School (TRS) will hold Circuit Car classes on April 29 and 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Subic International Circuit inside the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales.

The classes are open to all teenagers and adults who are interested in learning basic and advanced circuit car techniques in a safe and enjoyable setting.

It is powered by Ford Racing and supported by Addict Mobile, E-Standard Insurance, Petron Ultron, Bosch, Goodyear, Rota, Oakley, Epson, Tradeshow, H&R, Starbright Body Kits, Manila Speedzone,, C! Magazine, Bravura, K&N, Sikkens and Palmer-Asia.

The clinic will be conducted in two parts. The Basic Class will be held on Saturday, while the Advanced Class is scheduled for Sunday.

For a minimal fee of P8,500 for each class, students will be taught the finer points of race driving by TRS director and former Formula Three driver JP Tuason in race-prepared Ford Focus touring cars. Both courses may be taken in tandem on the same weekend.

For more information about the Circuit Car classes and other courses visit the Tuason Racing School at 41 Pioneer Street corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City.

Interested drivers may also call them at 635-2587 or 747-2378, e-mail them at or log on to

Subic task force seizes seven ‘hot luxury vehicles’

By JONAS REYES, Manila Bulletin

Seven luxury vehicles were seized by operatives of the Subic Bay Anti-Smuggling Task Force led by Gen. (ret.) Jose Calimlim in an operation at the Naval Supply Depot (NSD) as part of its drive to thwart smuggling in this premier freeport.

"We want these smugglers to feel that they are not welcomed here in Subic. Their unscrupulous acts will not be tolerated in a place where President Arroyo has certainly has high hopes for," Calimlim said.

He also said that the four 20-foot container vans contained a Honda Civic, a Kia Carnival, a Kia Sonata, an Emina Estima, a Lucida Estima and two Hyundai Grace vehicles that came from other Asian countries such as Korea and Hong Kong.

He said that the estimated total value of the vehicles is R5 million, noting that some of them are second-hand.

Calimlim said that the smugglers are either using fake consignee names or fake addresses to mislead the Task Force operatives in their effort to crack down on the mastermind of these smuggling operations.

One of the consignees denied the allegations that the shipment was his and said that his firm is at present not operating in Subic Bay.

Calimlim said that the seized vehicles would be auctioned off by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) if the seized contrabands are not claimed by the owners within a certain period.

He added that he is proposing a budget allocation for the purchase of a cargo X-ray machine to ensure that all forms of smuggling will be checked in the future.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

EDITORYAL - Saan pa titira gayong may lason ang hangin at tubig

Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

SAAN pa bang lugar sa Pilipinas may malinis na hangin at tubig at hindi pa nasisirang kapaligiran? Bibihira na lang. At maaaring ang bibihirang lugar na ito ay maging marumi na rin dahil sa masamang bisyong kinalakihan na nga ng mga Pilipino. Tapon dito, tapon doon ang kanilang ginagawa. Ang mga naitapong basura ay maiipon at magiging dahilan para magbara ang mga imburnal. Ang mga basurang itinapon kung saan-saan ang tirahan ng mga daga. Ang mga dagang ito ang pinagmumulan ng sakit na leptospirosis.

Marumi ang hangin sa Metro Manila dahil sa mga kakarag-karag na sasakyan na nagbubuga nang maitim na usok. Sa araw-araw na pagbiyahe ng mga bulok na bus, dypni, taxi at FX, maraming tao ang kanilang pinipinsala. Nalalanghap ng mga tao ang lason na nagiging dahilan para magkaroon ng sakit sa baga, asthma at iba pang respiratory diseases.

Marumi ang mga ilog, creek, estero at mga kanal sa Metro Manila. Ang ganitong tanawin ay karaniwan na. Subukang pumunta sa R. Hidalgo, Quiapo, malapit sa Manuel L. Quezon University at makikita ang maruming estero na halos hindi na gumagalaw ang tubig sa dami ng basura. Sa ibabaw ng maruming tubig ay nakabitin ang mga barung-barong na ang mga dumi ay bumabagsak sa nakangangang estero.

Marumi ang kapaligiran at walang kakayahan ang Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) para linisin ang hangin at mga estero’t kanal. Hindi nakapagtataka kung pagkalooban ng "Lagpak Award" ang DENR noong Sabado na pinagdiwang ang Earth Day. Ang ibig sabihin ng "lagpak" ay bagsak. Matagal nang ganito ang DENR. Walang kakayahang maipatupad ang batas para mapangalagaan ang kapaligiran. Hanggang ngayon, ang Clean Air Act of 1999 at ang Ecological Solid Waste Management Act ay hindi pa rin maipatupad. Maraming bawal sa ilalim ng Clean Air Act gaya ng pagsusunog, paggamit ng incinerators at pagyaot ng mga kakarag-karag na sasakyan, subalit walang magawa ang DENR. Nagsasagawa ng anti-smoke belching campaign sa tulong ng DOTC pero ningas-kugon ang nangyayari.

Patuloy sa pagdumi ang kapaligiran lalo na sa Metro Manila at hindi malayong mangyari ang resulta ng pag-aaral ng University of the Philippines na sa susunod na 10 taon, maaaring hindi na ito matirahan ng tao dahil sa sobrang pollution. Ang pag-aaral na ito sana ay magbukas ng mata at isipan sa DENR at iba pang ahensiya ng gobyerno.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Certify bill reviving English in schools, GMA urged

CEBU CITY — House Deputy Majority Leader Eduardo Gullas has asked President Arroyo to promptly certify as urgent a bill methodically revitalizing the use of English in schools.

"It has become unmistakably clear that the ability of Filipinos to comprehend, write and speak basic English is fast deteriorating, and this has been depriving our people the opportunity to secure good-paying jobs and a better future for themselves," Gullas pointed out.

If left unchecked, Gullas warned that the rapid decline in the English competency of Filipinos would eventually erode the competitiveness of the country’s human resources, both here and abroad, in an increasingly "globalized village."

Gullas, an educator, made the statement shortly after the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported that Filipinos’ self-assessed proficiency in the English language has declined considerably over the last 12 years.

The SWS said the results of a March 2006 survey showed a decline in all aspects of English mastery, most notably in the ability to speak English, as compared to results of similar polls in December 1993 and September 2000.

Under House Bill 2894, Gullas wants English revived through the adoption of a new bilingual program in schools and the use of the language as medium of instruction.

Last year, two House committees — basic education and on higher education — endorsed HB 2894 bill for floor debate and approval.

The existing bilingual policy in schools, adopted in 1974, was designed to develop a "bilingual nation competent in the use of English and Filipino."

Education usec quits after criticizing Gloria

EDUCATION Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz resigned on Friday, ending what he described as his seven-month ordeal at the Department of Education.

In a three-page letter to President Arroyo dated April 19, Luz scored what he claimed was the Arroyo administration’s preoccupation with political expediency.

At the same time, he requested the President to continue the long-term reforms he had put in place.

“My greatest regret now is that the education reforms we have worked hard to put in place may not survive this administration’s preoccupation with political expediency rather than genuine reform; with deal-making rather than development; as well as the lack of appreciation much less commitment to the rule of law and good governance.”

Malacañang had fired Luz in September last year for refusing to honor postdated checks from the President’s Social Fund to Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz.

Diaz was among those who junked an impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo, which was being hotly debated in Congress at the time the checks were released.

Luz was ordered transferred to the labor department but Luz appealed the decision, invoking his immunity to politics as a career executive service officer (CESO).

Luz pointed out that the CESO is a “mark of professionalism that even the president of the country cannot mess with despite her mistaken notion that career professionals ‘serve at her pleasure.’”

The Civil Service Commission junked the appeal.

In a separate letter to Education Secretary Fe Hidalgo, Luz said his stint in the department had been a “most fulfilling job and one which I would not think twice having done notwithstanding the circumstances of my leaving.”

Luz urged Hidalgo to continue the education reforms he started when he was with the department

Exporter tells customs chief to leave them out of brokers' law

WE DON'T mind if the Customs Brokers Act results in a more professional customs brokering but leave the exporters out of it.

This was the statement of Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. in reaction to claims made by Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales that the new law has helped the bureau increase its revenue collection this year.

The export leader said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must have been misinformed by Morales because the new law has yet to be put into effect after most players in the import and export business opposed the way it is planned to be implemented.

Exports are revenue-neutral as the Philippines had long adopted a policy of not taxing exports, a common practice around the world.

Only two weeks ago when the law was supposed to be implemented, the Philexport signed a letter sent to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asking the Chief Executive to stop the implementation of the law for violating provisions of its implementing rules and regulations exempting small and medium exporters as well as priority sectors determined by the Export Development Council (EDC) from employing brokers in signing their export documents.

The same opposition was expressed by the Port Users Coalition that includes not only importers and exporters but also over 200 customs brokerage companies and logistics and forwarding companies.

The export leaders also said in their letter to Arroyo that an administrative order issued by Morales early last month disregarded the provisions of the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and gave licensed customs brokers the exclusive right to sign export and import transactions.

They said the new rules, if followed, will paralyze the automated export documentation system (AEDS) pioneered by the electronics industry in Southern Tagalog and Cebu and has been expanded to locators in Subic and Clark. AEDS is the first breakthrough in electronics processing of export documents in the country.

The new system was seen by the export leaders as another layer of red tape and an added cost to the processing of the export documents of small exporters done in the One-Stop Export processing centers operated by Philexport and its regional chapters across the country.

Most of all, Ortiz-Luis, said, a new provision in the changed rules imposes brokers fees equivalent to 1/16 of one percent of the value of imports or exports will be charged the international traders.

He estimated that the bonanza fees will redound to billions of pesos a year gained by the brokering profession out of the pockets of exporters and importers.

Pressed by government to raise export sales to US$50 billion this year, the exporters are beginning to murmur that targets may not be met as exporters, especially the small ones, are getting hit by a double whammy of a strong peso plus additional fees for brokering.

Until today, most small exporters sign and work for the processing of their own documents. When the new law takes full effect under the revised rules made by Morales, they will lose that right and instead have to pay brokers to sign for them. (Philexport News and Features)

IPOPHIL, EPCIB put up online trademark application

By Alexander
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) is hoping that most, if not all, trademark applications in the country would be filed electronically through its TM Online service.

IPOPHIL Director General Adrian Cristobal Jr. said the agency processes nearly 12,000 trademark applications per year, many from small-to-medium scale businesses.

“The TM Online project is aimed at speeding up the application processes since it can process an application within two to three days. It’s also 20-percent cheaper than doing [a] manual application, which costs around 2,000 pesos,” Cristobal said.

“Now applicants from all over the country need not come to the Makati office, saving in transportation and other costs in doing business with the office,” he added.

IPOPHIL partnered with Equitable PCI Bank (EPCIB) for TM Online’s payment system.

The process starts when an applicant, who must have an EPCIB account, fills up an online form and, if available, pictures of the trademark subject before submitting the form.

After the online payment, the applicant needs to wait for two to three days for confirmation. In the traditional process, it takes several weeks before an application is confirmed received by IPOPHIL. It does not include the long queues for the filing of the forms.

The road to Pinatubo

IN Region 3, all roads still lead to Mt. Pinatubo where the awesome landscape is often likened to the face of the moon. The mighty volcanic eruption did more than just alter the world’s climate, or change our political atmosphere, it also created a new sport in tourism – the now fabled trek to the sapphire waters of Mt. Pinatubo’s crater- lagoon.

But, there was disquieting news last week. A four-wheel drive vehicle with five Korean tourists on board, suddenly turned on its side while negotiating a new road to Mt. Pinatubo’s crater. Badly injured, the foreign visitors had to be rushed to Manila for medical treatment. Any Filipino concerned about successful and productive tourism development should be alarmed. Are we at it again, shooting ourselves in the foot?

Evidently, there is some "trailblazing," in the very literal sense of the word, going on in the Mt. Pinatubo area. You will agree that "trailblazing" has a positive connotation as it implies adventure and daring creativity. Someone who defies all odds to chart a new course to somewhere or something is admiringly called a "trailblazer". But, this does not seem to be the case with a certain Korean company blazing another trail to Mr. Pinatubo. For the last seven years, the safe and well-trodden path to the majestic crater is through the thirty-kilometer streambed along the O’Donnell River where tourists can ride or hike. However, reports from the Department of Tourism’s Region 3 officer indicates that the company in question, a Korean travel agency called PDC Development Corporation, has bulldozed a twenty-kilometer stretch along the Crow Valley range in Capas, Tarlac, all the way up to Botolan, Zambales. Working at lightning speed, it took them only three months.

According to our Region 3 Tourism director, Ronaldo Tiotuico, he immediately reported the Korean "trailblazing" activities to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) so an official investigation could be conducted to determine whether the project complied with our environmental laws, or whether the required clearances were issued by all the government agencies concerned. For example, was there a Free and Prior Informed Consent Certification (FPIC) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)?

Director R. Tiotuico warns of a "…potential threat to the Aeta communities surrounding Mt. Pinatubo due to impending danger of avalanches of loosened volcanic debris, especially during heavy down pour or slight tremors…" Apparently, the four-wheel drive vehicle that turned on its side was driving along slippery slopes and uneven terrain. Ninety-eight percent of Mt. Pinatubo’s foreign visitors are Koreans, so it is appalling that the PDC Development Corporation, owned by Messrs. Cris Park and Patton Kim, should endanger the lives of their compatriots. Because the Philippines is the host country, we will have to take care of them by demanding that Korean business people obey our laws. On the other hand, we should also be vigilant about the strict implementation of these laws by local officials mandated to do so. Congratulations to Director Ronaldo Tiotuico for sounding the alarm bells. To think that it was he who invited the Korean PDC Development Corporation to invest in the Mt. Pinatubo area! We need vigilant and selfless tourism officers like him. ( Manila Bulletin

Monday, April 24, 2006


1. Mr. Delfin A. Juico, Jr. Secretary to the City Mayor 222-2665
2. Ms. Elflida S. Salmon City Council Secretary 222-2661 loc. 4233
3. Mr. Marcelino D. Andawi City Treasurer 222-2607
4. Ms. Leonida S. Tanega City Auditor 222-2608
5. Engr. Narciso Martinez, Jr. City Engineer 222-3301 loc. 4300
6. Mr. Johnny B. Choa City Budget Officer 222-2560
7. Mr. Dennis Martinez City Accountant 224-8385
8. Mr. Oscar Agustin City Assessor 222-2666
9. Dr. Pacita E. Alcantara City Health Officer 224-1628
10. Atty. Angelito R. Orozco City Legal Officer 222-2552
11. Eng’r Louie Lopez PUD Department 222-2659
12. Ms. Genia Eclarino CSWD Officer 222-5201
13. Arch Tony-Kar Balde City Planning Officer 222-2845
14. Ms. Keren G. Cajudo City Registrar 224-3976
15. Mr. Dante Ramos ESMO 2234538, 2249346
16. Mr. Vic Viscocho P.A.O.
17. Ms. Letty Doropan Personnel Office 222-2559
18. Mr. Honorio Gomez Business Permit 222-2553
19. Ms. Diane Marty Tourism Office 222-8492
20. Mr. Eliseo De Guzman City Director, DILG 222-5471
21. Dr. Arturo Mendoza Chief, JLGMH 222-2867
22. P.Supt. Florencio B. Buentipo City Director, Phil. National Police 222-5731
23. Fire/Sr. Insp. Garry Alto Chief, Fire Protection Bureau 160

24. Mr. Merlito Marajucon GSO 222-2669
25. Mr. Fernando Magrata JLGMH Administrator 222-2867
26. Mr. Angie Layug Rescue Officer 224-7846
27. Ms. Letty Doropan Acting College President, 224-2089
28. Ms. Elizabeth Daduya City Librarian 224-8634
29. Mr. Sunny Moses Basobas OIC, MIS 224-2370
30. Mr. Fermin Elago, Jr. TMB 224-5297
31. Hon. Prudencio B. Jalandoni City Prosecutor 222-2652
32. Mr. Virginia Navarro POPCOM Officer 222-4003


MAYOR’S OFFICE (writers area) 4244
SANGUNIAN SECRETARY ( Effie Salmon) 4233
KGD. CYNTHIA G. CAJUDO Direct Line 222-2564) 4222
KGD. BEBETH MARZAN (Fiesta Committee) 4225
KGD. BRIAN GORDON / Peace & Order 4227
KGD. EDWIN J. PIANO / Telecom Board 4229
ADMINISTRATORS OFFICE (Mr. Ferdie Magrata) 4220
ACCOUNTING OFFICE (Head –Dennis Martinez ) 4311
ASSESSOR’S OFFICE (Head-Oscar Agustin) 4125
BUDGET OFFICE (Head - Mr. Johnny Choa)
BUSINESS CENTER (Head – Mr. Nory Gomez ) 4139
BUSINESS PERMIT DIVISION (Head – Mr. Nory Gomez) 4130
ENGINEERING OFFICE (Architect Luz) 4302
ENGINEERING OFFICE (Head – Engr. Jun Martinez) 4301
ENGINEERING OFFICE (Maintenance) 4328
CITY HEALTH (Dept. Head) 4147

222-2661, 222-3301, 222-3022, 222-2206,
222-2845, 223-8016, 224-8390, 222-5401

CITY PLANNING (CPDO ) (Head-Arch. Tony Kar Balde III) 4215
DILG-Dept. of Interior and Local Government Mr. Eliseo De Guzman 4304
ESMO (Head-Mr. Dante Ramos) 4313
ESMO Staff 4314
FMA HALL ( Mr. Mardy Soriano) 4250
G.S.O. - General Service Office (Head- Mr. Lito Marajucom ) 4214
LABOR CENTER-PESO Office (Head- Ms. Evelyn Delos Santos ) 4150
LEGAL OFFICE (Head- Atty. Angel Orozco) 4210
M.I.S OFFICE (Head- Mr. Sunny Basobas) 4239
PERSONNEL OFFICE (Ms. Letty Doropan) 4217
PHIL. HEALTH (Mr. Lino 4151
PLEB-Peoples Law Enforcement Board 4251
P.A.O. (Head-Mr. Vic Viscocho) 4200
P.A.O. STAFF (Ms. Weng Malasan) 4241
P.A.O. STAFF 4211
POLICE STA. 1 (Head- P.Supt. Florencio B. Buentipo ) 4176
PUBLIC MARKET OFFICE (EBB) – Head – Rene Cornelio 4159
PUBLIC UTILITY DEPT. PUD (Head- Engr. Louie Lopez ) 4122
REGISTRAR OFFICE (Head-Ms. Keren Cajudo) 4132
Social Welfare Devt. Office (C.S.W.D.) Ms. Gene Eclarino 4303
SUGPO 4171
TOURISM OFFICE (Ms. Diane Marty) 4216
T.M.B. / TRAFFIC (Mr. Jose Ramos / Mr. Fermin Elago) 4137
TREASURER’S OFFICE (Head-Mr. Marcelino Andawi) 4127
TREASURER’S (Cash Division) 4152
CANTEEN (In-House) 4162

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Palace orders implementation of ID system

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday ordered the immediate implementation of the national identification card system a day after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the project.

Malacañang executives want a national ID to be a mandatory requirement in all government transactions and will encourage the private sector to require the same.

"President Arroyo has given the go-signal to the Cabinet to get the ID system in one form or another and this is the way we can keep up with the rest of the world," said Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye.

Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said the ID system would be up and running in a few months. He said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which would oversee the project, had been given less than 30 days to come up with its mechanics.

While Defensor said the databases of both the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) would simply be merged, NEDA chief Romulo Neri said the national ID system would include data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). Defensor explained that the goal was to synchronize all state-issued IDs with all citizens expected to have one number for quick reference and profiling.

He said that government agencies would make it mandatory for all individuals dealing with them to use the national ID to facilitate their transactions. "We would also encourage the private sector to do the same," said Defensor.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the national ID system under Executive Order No. 420 and rejected claims that it violated an individual's right to privacy.

Andres Bautista, dean of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law, said the court decision was a good one because it ruled the ID system was not compulsory and that any information requested was already available in the public domain.

Phantom fears

Bunye hailed the Supreme Court decision "not only because of its contribution to national security but its effect in facilitating the delivery of vital government programs and services to the Filipino people."

"Issues adverting to infringement of human rights are phantom fears," said Bunye. "The system has enough safeguards to protect the citizen from imagined violations of the right to privacy."

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno told the Inquirer that there was no need to gather data at the barangay (village) level. He said that any data needed was already in the hands of the government, such as the GSIS, Comelec and the Land Transportation Office.

"Privacy and privileged personal information will not lose their legal protection under existing laws as a consequence of the Supreme Court decision," Puno said.

When the national ID system was first proposed as an instrument against terrorism, information gathered from the barangays was planned to form its database.

Now, Puno said, the Department of Interior and Local Government would only be a support organization for the ID project.

"What is imminent is the consolidation of the ID cards of the different agencies. I don't think we will do data-gathering on anyone," Puno said. He said that the National Census and Statistical Office could handle the consolidation.

'For people in government'

In Lapulapu City, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the high court's decision did not cover private citizens as the government had intended.

"The national ID sustained by the Supreme Court is really for the moment to facilitate administrative aspects for people in the government, especially in transacting business with the government," said Ermita, who was attending the three-day international conference on counterterrorism.

He said it may be required whenever they transact business with the government, such as applying for various licenses and registering to engage in business.

He emphasized the importance of a national ID system especially in the fight against criminality, insurgency and terrorism. But he denied claims by human rights advocates the project would be used to harass individuals and violate their privacy.

Gradual rise of police state

The leftist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said it would soon be necessary for all citizens to get an ID.

"We are now seeing the gradual rise of a police state and the evolution of the real Orwellian Big Brother. Freedom-loving citizens must act now to defend their rights, including the right to privacy," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said. (INQ7)

EDITORYAL - Huwag sirain ang Inang Kalikasan

Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

NGAYON ay Araw ng Daigdig (Earth Day). Ang iba marahil ay magtataka sapagkat mayroon palang Araw ng Daigdig. Ginugunita rin pala ito. At nakapagtataka namang kapag sumasapit ang ganitong araw saka lamang napagtutuunan ng pansin ang pagmamahal sa daigdig at sa likas na kayamanan nito. Ngayon lamang nakikita ang kalagayan ng Inang Kalikasan na sinisira mismo ng mga taong nakatira rito.

Nagbabago na ang klima ng mundo at ang sabi ng mga eksperto ito ay dahil sa pagsira ng tao sa kalikasan. Nakapagtatakang kahit sa panahon ng tag-init ay may mga pagbahang nagaganap at pagguho ng lupa. May mga bagyong nagaganap na sumisira ng mga ari-arian at pumapatay sa maraming tao.

Kamakailan ay naguho ang lupa sa Bgy. Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte. Ang walang tigil na pag-ulan ang itinuturong dahilan kaya nabiyak ang bundok. Pero mas marami ang nagsabi at kami man ay naniniwalang ang talamak na pagsira sa kabundukan doon ang dahilan. Walang tigil ang pagputol ng mga kahoy at dahil wala nang mga kahoy, humina ang lupa na naging dahilan para gumuho. Hindi lamang sa Bgy. Guinsaugon nangyari ang landslide kundi pati sa Quezon at Aurora na ang tinuturong dahilan ng trahedya ay illegal logging operations.

Hindi lamang illegal logging ang sumisira sa Inang Kalikasan kundi pati na rin ang grabeng air pollution. Ang Metro Manila ay itinuturing na pinaka-polluted na lugar sa Asia. Sa kabila na may batas – ang Clean Air Act of 1999, hindi pa rin malutas ang problema sapagkat walang ngipin ang batas na ito. Hindi maipatupad ng gobyerno ang batas na matagal ding pinagdebatehan at pinagkagastusan.

Mahigpit na ipinagbabawal sa Clean Air Act ang paggamit ng incinerators, mga lumang motor ng sasakyan, pagsusunog ng basura at paggamit ng leaded gas. Sa mga ito, ang paggamit ng leaded gas lamang ang naipahinto. Patuloy ang paggamit ng incinerators, pagsusunog ng basura at ang pagyaot ng mga sasakyang nagbubunga ng nakalalasong usok.

Nasisira ang kalikasan dahil sa kasakiman mismo ng tao. Dito sa Pilipinas, may batas pero hindi maipatupad. Hindi nakapagtataka na masira ang likas na yaman ng bansa dahil sa walang kakayahang pagpapatupad ng batas. Kawawa naman ang mga susunod na lahi na maaaring wala nang mundong titirahan.

PLDT cuts landline service charges

By DARWIN G. AMOJELAR, The Manila Times Reporter

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) cut service charges to its fixed line subscribers due to the strength of the peso vis-à-vis the dollar.

In a filing with the National Telecommunications Commission, Fernando M. Sobierra, PLDT counsel, said the country’s largest telco will implement a 6-percent downward adjustment on its local service rates in April owing to an increase in its currency exchange rate adjustment (CERA).

As of April, the dollar cost PLDT some P51.10 against the base rate of P11 in 1983.

The telco plans to charge residential subscribers for P639.97 a month from P677.41 at present. Business subscribers will be charged P1,304.10 from the current P1,382.34.

The company’s subsidiary Republic Telephone Co. (Retelco) also reduced service rates to provincial subscribers.

Earlier, rival Innove Communications Inc., the wireline subsidiary of Globe Telecom Inc. cut its landline service charges by 273 percent owing to the peso’s appreciation. Pilipino Telephone Corp. (Piltel), a unit of PLDT also lowered CERA rates by 13 percent on the guiding rate of P51.60 in Olongapo and Subic in Zambales, Masbate, Boac and Mogpog in Marinduque, General Santos City, and Digos in Davao del Sur.

PLDT said pursuant to the currency adjustment provisions, the telco may increase or decrease its local service rates by 1 percent for every 10-centavo upward or downward change in the peso vis-à-vis the dollar.

Earlier, Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT chairman, said earnings are expected to grow this year as a result of the peso’s appreciation, a turnaround from the bearish sentiment the executive held months before due to a maturing mobile service market.

He said in 2005 the company enjoyed P45 billion in foreign exchange gains on the local currency’s strength.

In 2005 PLDT posted a consolidated net profit of P34.1 billion or 22 percent higher than in 2004.

The company said it benefited from the recognition of foreign exchange gains and certain deferred tax assets, including a P4.4 billion gain realized from the Piltel’s debt exchange transaction.

GlobeQuest expands Wi-Fi services


GlobeQuest, the corporate business group of Innove Communications Inc., is expanding its Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) service nationwide, increasing its Wireless Internet Zone (WiZ) hotspots from the current 275 to 500 by yearend.

GlobeQuest now covers not just Metro Manila but 13 provinces — Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Bacolod, Tacloban, Pampanga, General Santos, Baguio, Olongapo, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, and Ormoc.

At the same time, the group established four domestic and international roaming partnerships that will allow business travellers to have seamless Internet connectivity in the country and abroad, according to GlobeQuest Head Jesus C. Romero.

GlobeQuest Wiz is also the first public Wi-Fi hotspot service in the Philippines to use the WiFi mesh architecture, with the beachfront area of Boracay as its initial market.

A mesh architecture provides increased coverage and bandwidth depending on the number of access points deployed and is relatively inexpensive, very reliable and resilient.

So far, GlobeQuest has already partnered with a number of popular establishments nationwide, providing them with managed end-to-end solutions to ensure better Wi-Fi service.

"We don’t just put up a WiZ hotspot anywhere. We make sure that all our hotspots are in strategic areas where businessmen and transient Internet users normally converge such as airports, coffee shops, convention centers, golf clubs, resorts and restaurants," Romero explained.

GlobeQuest’s newest WiZ hotspots include Mezze at Greenbelt 2, Outback Steakhouse at Glorietta 4, McDonalds at Jones Ave. (Cebu City), Casino Espanol (Cebu City), L’Fisher Hotel (Bacolod City), and McCafe, Glorietta 3.

GlobeQuest has also forged an agreement with Starbucks to expand its coverage from a current installed base of 32 in-store hotspots to all of its existing coffee shops.

"Innove’s vision is to bring the Filipinos to the broadband age. To support this, GlobeQuest provides broadband facilities like Wi-Fi to major key establishments where people converge for business, as well as promote Wi-Fi as a strategic tool for education, local government projects, product advertisements, and foreign ventures," he went on.

Meanwhile, GlobeQuest has integrated its Wi-Fi network with leading local Internet Service Provider (ISP) Pacific Internet and three of the world’s leading Wi-Fi network aggregators, namely BOINGO Wireless, Inc., iPass, and Deutsche Telekom (DT).

End-users of these companies will have access to Wi-Fi in all of GlobeQuest’s WiZ hotspots in the Philippines using the username and password issued from their home country.

Using iPass, all Innove subscribers (GlobeQuest, WorldPass, and Visibility) who travel around the world can also use either dial-up or Wi-Fi in all of iPass’ points of presence (POPs).

Already, iPass has integrated over 300 network providers covering over 60,000 access points worldwide including more than 35,000 Wi-Fi hotspot and Ethernet hotel broadband locations in about 60 countries.

On the other hand, USbased BOINGO Wireless, Inc., which has over 20,000 hotspots, provides highspeed Internet services to individual end-users and wireless access service providers who intend to resell their Wi-Fi services.

DT connects Wi-Fi providers and hotspots operators from over 20 countries. DT is Europe’s largest telecommunications company and one of the leading carriers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as North and South America.

The roaming agreements solidifies the position of WIZ as the most convenient Wi-Fi service, allowing access via prepaid vouchers, post-paid plans and it’s innovative "wiz on" service which allows any Globe HandyPhone postpaid user to download a username and password and be billed to his cellphone through a simple text message request.

GlobeQuest WiZ is a broadband Internet service using the IEEE 802.11b or Wi-Fi wireless networking standard to provide secure and reliable wireless connectivity to anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or PDA (personal digital assistant) and allow them to access their email, play online games, surf the Net or even make a call.

A Wi-Fi network can be used to connect computers to each other, to the Internet, and even to wired networks which use 802.3 dubbed as the Ethernet.

Wi-Fi networks operate in the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands with an 11Mbps (802.11b) or 54Mbps (802.11g) data rate or with products that contain both bands (dual band) so they can provide similar performance equivalent to the basic 10BaseT wired Ethernet networks.(EVA)

EDITORIAL - The devil is in the implementation

The Philippine Star

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Executive Order 420, which provides for a so-called unified identification system for government workers, has raised hopes for the implementation of an ID system that will cover all citizens of voting age. The scheme covered by EO 420 is meant mainly to facilitate government transactions; the national ID system, on the other hand, is meant as a tool to fight criminality and terrorism.

Malacañang has ordered government agencies to put on track the unified ID system, which will cover some 1.3 million state workers. The scheme, with its limited coverage, should serve as a gauge of the government’s capability to implement an identification system.

Concerns have been raised that the objective of issuing unified ID cards will be defeated if the scheme is implemented haphazardly. The ID card must be hard to forge, and the technology for doing this doesn’t come cheap. Does the government have the resources for this? There must also be an effective system of verifying the data contained in each ID. Corrupt government personnel issue fake vehicle registration documents for the right price, abetting carjacking. Corrupt government personnel may also issue unified IDs indiscriminately, compromising the integrity of the system.

These risks are heightened in the case of the proposed national ID system, which is meant to promote peace and order by denying crooks and terrorists the cloak of anonymity. Proponents of the scheme prefer to call it a national reference system. The term is meant to soften opposition from people who are worried that the scheme is prone to abuse and can lead to violations of human rights.

Supporters of the scheme point out that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. They also point out that the scheme is meant merely to consolidate information already contained in official documents that cover a law-abiding citizen, including income tax return, passport, voter’s ID and driver’s license.

Given the country’s recent history, however, there are valid fears that the national ID system can be abused for political purposes. And there are valid concerns that the government might botch the implementation of the national ID, making it a useless addition to the numerous official documents citizens must obtain. The government can allay some of these concerns by implementing the unified ID system effectively enough to achieve its avowed objective.


OUTRAGE over Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez's downgrading of the charges against three of the four American servicemen accused of raping a Filipina seems to be concentrated more against his words than against his actions. This only goes to show how effective Gonzalez is as the pit bull of the administration, in charge of snarling and frothing at the mouth and lunging at the crowd, both to frighten and distract the public. After all, he is not just any loose cannon but an integral part of the legal and political arsenal of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

There exists, in fact, a clear division between official attitudes toward the case. State prosecutors, such as Olongapo City Chief Prosecutor Prudencio Jalandoni, believe they have adequate evidence to successfully prosecute all the accused American servicemen. Gonzalez has decided to the contrary, and while he hasn't totally let the other three American soldiers off the hook, only one will actually go on trial for rape. The charges against the others have been reduced to their being accessories.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye has gone on record to say the Arroyo administration fully supports Gonzalez. That means that the justice secretary's rather loathsome rhetoric aside, what he has done has the full blessings of the person for whom he serves as an alter ego: the President.

One of the lawyers of the rape victim brought up a point which indicates why Gonzalez's actions have been met with disgust. Even if Gonzalez says there isn't enough evidence to prove the other accused American servicemen actually raped the victim, Evalyn Ursua points out that the three kept chanting "Go, Smith!" as their fellow soldier assaulted and raped the Filipina. The lawyer asserts that egging on a rapist in this manner is tantamount to participating in a gang rape. It is an argument important enough, to our mind, to deserve being pursued in court. But because of Gonzalez, it won't be brought up when the case is tried.

Rape is an act that is less about sex than about power and degrading another person. There are many kinds of rape, and it is necessary in cases not involving actual intercourse to consider psychological intent and the reality that not just the sexual aspect, but the abuse of power and degradation of another deserve investigation and punishment. For these are crimes against persons, too.

In the end, Gonzalez will have the final say as far as this case is concerned. Individuals who don't agree will simply have to protest or, if they are officials, relinquish participation in the case. This is why Jalandoni had no honorable option other than what he's done: to resign from the prosecution team.

It's important to note that none of the four accused servicemen are off the hook. One, as we've said, will go on trial for rape; the other three, as Gonzalez has explained, will have to answer for witnessing the rape and doing nothing to stop it, and then abandoning the victim. There is still hope that all of them will be punished, though not to the extent the victim or her lawyers, including some government lawyers, feel they deserve.

Even as Malacañang notes that only seven months remain for the resolution of the Subic rape case, the nation will have to continue to bear the problem of a useful, but often nasty and alarmingly bigoted official in charge of what should be the clear, dispassionate, but unstoppable dispensation of justice. These things require judgment. And if the judgment calls of an official are immediately put into question because of the zeal and relish he displays in hitting back at critics, what does that say about his ability to inspire confidence?

Again, we return to our original point: For every comment Raul Gonzalez has made that offends, it is well to remember that the man, his thinking and the fruits of his thinking have the full and unequivocal support of the President and the rest of the Cabinet. And that's the most offensive thing of all -- as well as the greatest injustice, not only to the executive branch of government but to the country.

Gabriela calls for Gonzalez’s resignation

A women’s group on Thursday called for the resignation of Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez for doing nothing to defend the rights of the victim in the Subic rape case and for showing his bias for the accused American marines.

Lana Linaban, deputy secretary-general of Gabriela, said that Gonzalez has no moral ground to say that Olongapo City Prosecutor Prudencio Jalandoni is free to resign from the panel investigating the Subic rape case.

On Wednesday Jalandoni resigned from the special DOJ panel assigned to prosecute the Marines, evidently as a reaction to Gonzalez’s downgrading of the charges against three of the four Americans.

Gonzalez has announced that only US Marine Daniel Smith would be charged with rape while Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Chad Carpentier would be charged as accessories.

Gabriela is set to protest at the Makati Regional Trial Court Friday during the hearing of the motion to issue a warrant for the arrest of the four suspects and the motion to declare Article 5, Paragraph 6 of the Visiting Forces Agreement unconstitutional.

Gabriela also assailed Gonzalez’s statement that the three US Marines who allegedly cheered when the Filipino woman was being raped inside a van do not make them co-conspirators in the crime.

"This is a downright insult to the justice system. It’s a shame that the head of the DOJ does not even understand the antirape law and is ignorant of dealing with sensitive cases such as rape," Linaban said. abs-cbn

Iba town holds Paynauen Duyan festival, celebrates foundation day

By Recto Mangosing Adamos - PIA
Iba, Zambales (20 April) -- This town is jointly celebrating its Paynauen Duyan Festival (April 19-23) and its 359th Foundation Day. The events aim to entice domestic as well as international tourists.

Observance of foundation day was started last year, in an effort to rouse this "sleeping giant" of the Central Luzon Region whose innate nature beauty still untapped by commecral explorers.

The event highlights include: Search for Mutya and Lakan ng Paynauen 2006; a swimsuit competition at the Herra Beach resort; opening of the agro-indutrial fair featuring the products of this province like handicraft, mangos. and vegees; banca and balsa racing along the coastline of the South China Sea; and to top it all games intended for gays like basketball, volleyball. cineoke,and boxing not to make them a laughing stuff but to instill their being sportmanship and camarderie among themselves.

On Sunday, a mass wedding among couples to be offciated by the Saint Augustine Parish.

On the other hand, this is also a right time for the politicians, regional directors among government agencies to visti their constituents.

Prosecutor quits over downgrading of charges

(Gulf News Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Manila: A city prosecutor in northern Luzon has resigned after the downgrading of the charges filed against three of the four American servicemen who were earlier accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipina at the former American naval base last year.

"I was not satisfied with the decision of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales," said Prosecutor Prudencio Jalandoni of Olongapo, Zambales, adding he resigned from the case as he thought that all the four American servicemen should be charged as principal suspects.

"There was enough evidence of conspiracy," said Jalandoni, who belied the belief that the absence of a gang rape should not merit the charging of the four American servicemen as principal suspects.

"I will wait for his letter of formal resignation," said Gonzales.

On Tuesday, Gonzalez announced that only Lance Corporal Daniel Smith should be charged as a principal suspect, adding that Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis, and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier should be charged as accessories to the crime.

There was not enough evidence to prove that the four conspired to rape the alleged victim, Gonzales argued, adding he even wanted to exonerate them.

"I do not foresee the resignation of the other justices who are part of the prosecuting panel," said Prosecutor Feliciano A. Aspi of Makati City, also head of the panel of prosecutors.

Earlier, the prosecutors agreed that the trial of the US servicemen should be held at the Makati City regional trial court, and not at a lower court in central Luzon.

Last year's rape case has become an emotional issue among Filipinos who saw it as a reason for the government to review the guidelines for American servicemen who are holding joint war games with Filipino soldiers in the Philippines.

The Senate in 1998 approved the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allowed the resumption of joint war-games.

US-Philippine joint exercises have been used as anti-terror training, mostly held in the southern Philippines, the alleged haven of Islamic militants.

Gonzalez: Cheering is not proof of rape conspiracy

THE ACTION of three United States servicemen in allegedly “cheering on” colleague Daniel Smith as he allegedly raped a 22-year-old Filipina in Subic last year does not make them “co-conspirators” in the crime of rape.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said this as he defended his decision to modify the charges against US Marines Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Chad Carpentier from “principal to accessories” in the crime of rape.

“The mere fact that the respondents were laughing is not proof of conspiracy,” Gonzalez said in a 20-page resolution of the petition for review filed by Silkwood, Duplantis and Carpentier.

The three allegedly encouraged Smith to rape the woman in a Kia Starex van in November 2005 by shouting: “Go! Smith! Go!”

According to the Gonzalez resolution, the victim, in her sworn affidavit dated Nov. 2, 2005, claimed that while Smith was allegedly raping her, the three US Marines were laughing and egging him on.

Gonzalez said that the victim’s statement “Ang mga kasama niya ay tuwang tuwa” (his companions were very happy), was not enough to prove that the three had “conspired and agreed to a common desire to commit the crime of rape.”

“Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a crime and decided to commit it,” he wrote.

Gonzalez said the facts and circumstances of the case showed that the complainant “miserably failed to produce evidence that will measure up to the quantum evidence necessary to establish a prima facie case” or probable cause against Silkwood, Duplantis and Carpentier.

But the three certainly knew “what was going on in the back seat of the van” but did not do anything about it, so they should be charged as accessories, he said.

Gonzalez also said there could not have been a gang rape as alleged because “the physical condition of the van will not allow a conclusion of gang rape.”

The justice secretary said he would order justice prosecutors to file a motion to withdraw the previous charge and file a new one indicting Smith as principal, while downgrading the charges against Silkwood, Duplantis and Carpentier.

Smith remained a principal accused not only because of the strong evidence against him but because he did not file a counter-affidavit to refute the charges, Gonzalez said.

The Gabriela women’s group said Gonzalez’s downgrading of the charges against the three US servicemen was tantamount to acquitting them.

“Most probably, it is a prelude to other maneuvers in the case that will eventually lead to the absolution of the suspects,” said Gabriela deputy secretary general Lana Linaban in a statement.

Gabriela party-list Representative Liza Maza, who represents the group in Congress, accused Gonzalez of deliberately weakening the Subic rape case so that all four accused would be exonerated in the end.

“The downgrading of the charges is an outrage and reeks of a sell-out. This weakens the case and jeopardizes the victim’s quest for justice,” said Maza. With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Norman Bordadora - INQ7

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New grads should ask Peter Favila for a job

The Philippine Star

A few weeks ago, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila commented that there are more than enough jobs available in the country but Pinoy jobseekers are just too fussy. I thought it was incredibly, a politically stupid thing to say for a senior Cabinet official, even if we assume it is true, which it definitely isn’t.

Pinoy teachers have degraded themselves for years to become caregivers and maids. Pinoy doctors have allowed themselves to become nurses. Pinoy lawyers have become fixers. And it is common knowledge that college graduates have taken jobs that are beneath their training and expectations. I have noticed that job fairs are always deluged by a large crowd of Pinoy jobseekers. How can Peter call them fussy?

The problem basically lies with government’s inability to expand the economy enough to absorb our backlog of unemployed and underemployed through the years, and the annual flood of unemployable college graduates as well. The National Statistics Office’s most recent jobs statistics indicate that of the 35.5 million Filipinos in the labor force, some 9.2 million or almost one-third are either completely unemployed (2.6 million) or underemployed (seven million).

But even this high level of unemployed is apparently understated. Former Sen. Ernesto "Boy" Herrera said there is a total of 1.1 million jobless able-bodied Filipinos who were expunged from the official unemployment count. This is due to a government redefinition of the "unemployed" in October 2004, and adopted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in April 2005.

Herrera, however, pointed out that the NSO itself had acknowledged that had the survey used the old definition of the unemployed, a total of 3.9 million Filipinos would have been classified as unemployed in January 2006, and the unemployment rate would have been pegged at 10.7 percent.

Senator Mar Roxas, who used to hold Fabulous Peter’s job, observed that the time has come once again to test government’s employment generation program as 450,000 new college graduates join the country’s burgeoning labor force this year. Even going abroad isn’t an easy option for most, Senator Roxas said.

"A lot of graduates will be competing for limited jobs and those who will not be employed locally will naturally seek employment overseas." But Roxas noted the overseas recruitment capacity of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is pegged at only 250,000 OFW deployments annually. "Where will the rest who can’t go abroad go? They will join the ranks of the unemployed," he explained.

In a way, the college diploma can prove to be a disappointment to graduates and specially to their parents who invested a lot of resources on it. That’s because government has been unable to assure quality education by going after the diploma mills in our midst. Government has also failed to take steps to match college courses offered in Philippine schools with available jobs.

The market pretty much takes care of itself in the case of nursing and ICT courses. But it is a crime for many colleges and universities to be offering useless college courses like those in mass communication just because it is a sure money maker. How many mass communication jobs are really available on an annual basis for new graduates? And don’t get me started on the usefulness of the course in relation to a real career in mass media.

Yet, we have shortages in various areas, like airline pilots. Our ICT graduates are probably good enough for local jobs, but I remember then DTI Secretary Mar Roxas complaining that we are still unable to get enough of the graduates of our ICT schools to pass international certification tests. We also probably need a lot more accountants, with the growth in business processes outsourcing.

What Peter the Fabulous should have said is that unemployed Pinoys are not fussy as much as they are unable to take assured job openings here and abroad because they took the wrong college courses… or were inadequately trained by the diploma mills for the right ones. It is understandable for a college graduate to want to have a job that is more closely aligned to the skills he has learned from his studies, if he could have his rathers. That’s not necessarily being choosy in a negative way. Our graduates should have been given proper career counseling to begin with.

So, if you happen to be one of the thousands of masscom graduates this year, only a handful would be lucky enough to get a job in a broadcast station, newspaper or publication company that makes a profit and can promise a career. Many would spill out to the advertising business, but because the masscom curriculum hardly provides a good background in marketing, they would end up fetching coffee and running errands for years… albeit with a nice sounding title of account executive.

A very visible program in matching available jobs with jobseekers is a must. While this is probably more a concern of the Department of Labor, it was Fabulous Peter who opened his mouth with a broad chastisement of the Pinoy jobseeker. It was Peter who said that there are enough jobs around if the Pinoys are not choosy. I think the burden is on Peter to produce those jobs and provide assistance for job seekers in landing some of these jobs. Perhaps it is a good idea for jobseekers to go to DTI and ask Peter about those jobs.

EDITORIAL - Lost asset

The Philippine Star

The results of a survey released yesterday by Social Weather Stations showed a considerable decline in Filipinos’ self-assessed proficiency in English over the past 12 years. The decline was noted in all aspects — reading, writing, speaking and understanding the English language. The percentage of people who said they have zero proficiency in English rose from seven percent in December 1993 and September 2000 to 14 percent in the latest SWS survey taken last month.

The results were not surprising. You don’t need surveys to see how much English proficiency has declined in this country. Foreign investors, who have long considered English proficiency a plus in hiring Filipino workers, have started complaining about the decline in this skill. Thousands of job vacancies in call centers cannot be filled because applicants lack the required proficiency in spoken English, prompting investors to take their business to other countries such as India.

Filipinos’ proficiency in English has been on a slow decline since native English speakers turned over the task of teaching the language to locals. But the slide in proficiency became precipitous after English was abolished as a medium of instruction in schools in an effort to promote the development of Tagalog-based Filipino as a national language.

The intent was commendable but the move failed to achieve its objective. The Filipino taught in schools was not conversational, and students struggled with the formal version of their own language. Residents of provinces where Tagalog is not the main dialect also resisted efforts to develop a national language.

The result: Filipinos have lost proficiency in both English and their national language. Instead of becoming truly bilingual, we have created Taglish, a mishmash of English and Tagalog words and phrases, with the English portions pronounced Pinoy style, that only Filipinos can understand.

Meanwhile, neighboring countries are moving quickly to improve the English proficiency of their workforces, knowing that it is the lingua franca of cyberspace and the Information Age. Unless we move quickly to deal with this problem, the Filipino workforce will lose a prized asset.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Historical Facts of Filipino-American Relationship

Blogger's Note: The accuracy of information in this post has not yet been verified but we posted anyway for some interested soul to ponder.

Subject: Some Historical Facts of Filipino-Americans (SeeThe EVIL DEEDS of the Americans how they manipulate the sytem against the Filipinos)

1587 - First Filipinos ("Luzonians") to set foot in North America arrive in Moror Bay, California on board the Manila-built galleon ship Nuestra Senora de Esperanza under the command of Spanish Captain Pedro de Unamuno.

1720 - Gaspar Molina, a Filipino from Pampanga province, oversees the construction of El Triunfo dela Cruz, the first ship built in California.

1763 - Filipinos in Acapulco cross the Gulf of Mexico to Barataria Bay in Louisiana to establish 7 Philippine-style fishing villages. The "mahogany-colored Manilamen of Louisiana" pioneer the dried shrimp industry in America (40 years [before the 1803] Louisiana Purchase).

1781 - Antonio Miranda Rodriguez, also known as "Chino," a native of Manila, is one of 44 founders of the "Pueblo de Nuestra Senora reina de los Angeles," now known as the city of Los Angeles. (California became a state in 1850.)

1796 - The first American trading ship to reach Manila, the Astrea, was commanded by Captain Henry Prince with Nathaniel Bowditch [on October 3 rd , marking the beginning of American-Philippine trade intercourse.

1870 - Filipinos studying in New Orleans form the first Filipino Association in the United States, the "Sociedad de Beneficencia de los Hispanos Filipinos."

1888 - Dr. Jose Rizal visits the United States and predicts that the Philippines will one day be [a United States] colony.

1898 -The Philippines declares its independence (June 12, Kawit, Cavite) only to be ceded to the United States by Spain for $20 million.

1899 - The war between the Filipinos and the Americans breaks out ending with the surrender of Gen. Miguel Malvar on April 16, 1902. (Results of the War: America crosses 7,000 miles of ocean, using 126,468 men, of whom 4,234 died, spend[ing] $600,000, 000.00 and engaging in 2, 811 recorded fights. Filipinos suffer losses: 16,000 died in action, 200,000 civilians perish owing to famine and pestilence, and untold millions of pesos worth of property destroyed.)

1902 -Cooper Act passed by the U.S. Congress makes it illegal for Filipinos to own property, vote, operate a business, live in an American residential neighborhood, hold public office and become a naturalized American citizen.

1906 - About 200 Filipino "pensionados" are brought to the U.S. to get an American education.

1906-1935 - More than 125,000 Filipino "sacadas" are brought to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane plantations.

1924 - Filipino Workers' Union (FLU) shuts down 16 of 25 sugar plantations.

1926 - California's Anti-Miscigenation Law is amended to include Filipinos (Members of the Malay race) as among those who cannot marry whites.

1929 - Anti-Filipino riots break out in Watsonville and other California rural communities.

1932 - The U.S. Congress passes the Tidings -Mcduffe Act, known as the Philippine Independence Act, [it] is also known as the Filipino Exclusion Act as it limits Filipino immigration to the U.S. to 50 persons a year.

1942 - After the fall of Bataan and Coregidor to the Japanese, the US Congress passes a law which grants US citizenship to Filipinos and other aliens who served under the U.S. Armed Forces.

1943 - First and Second Filipino Regiments formed in the U.S. composed of Filipino agricultural workers.

1946 - U.S. [grants] Philippine Independence. U.S. Congress passes Rescission Act declaring that "service in the USAFFE is not considered service in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes of military benefits."

1948- Celestino Alfafara wins California Supreme Court decision allowing aliens the right to own real property; California courts finally overturn Anti-Miscegenation Laws so Filipinos and other minorities could now legally marry whites.

1965 - Filipino farm workers under the leadership of Larry Itliong go on strike in Delano and win Cesar Chavez joins Itliong to from the United Farm Workers Union. Filipino American Political Association (FAPA) is formed with chapters in 30 California cities. Immigration Act of 1965 raises quota of Filipinos and other nationalities from 100 to 20,000 a year.

[1967 - The Philippine American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) founded by Pilipino American students at San Francisco State College.]

1968 - San Francisco State students, [Led by the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), of which PACE is a part of) go on a five month long strike, the longest student strike in American higher education.

1969 - The San Francisco State Student Strike ends resulting in the creation of the first and only Ethnic Studies [School] in the nation which includes a Filipino Studies Program and an Asian American Studies Department.

1977- Students various colleges and universities such as San Francisco State College and the University of California Berkeley, participate in all out strike against the demolition of the International Hotel, a hotel situated in a former "Manilatown" area of San Francisco, that provided low income housing for the elderly. At least, 41 Manongs (Filipino elders) were evicted from the hotel.

1990 - Immigration reform Act of 1990 is passed by the U.S. Congress granting U.S. citizenship to Filipino WWII veterans resulting in 20,000 Filipino veterans take oath of citizenship. (KUNG KAILAN MATATANDA NA AT MALAPIT NG MAMATAY, NAPAKA WALANGHIYA TALAGA NG MGA HAYOP NA AMERIKANO)


Donald Smith
National Geographic News
December 14, 2000

For once, the worst didn’t happen. Dire predictions that one of the largest stands of triple-tier rain forest left in Asia would be destroyed by illegal logging once its U.S. military guardians pulled out have not come true. In fact, in the intervening seven and a half years, the forest—located at the former U.S. military base in the Philippines—has come under the de facto protection of an unlikely new set of guardian angels: land developers.

“The natural forests, i.e. the lowland primary forests and mangroves, have not been degraded by deforestation,” according to Domingo Madulid, curator of the Philippine National Herbarium in Manila. “In fact, it remains in its pristine state.”
In 1992, when American forces left the Philippines after 45 years of friendly occupation, the idea that the area around Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay Naval Complex on the island of Luzon would escape the degradation that has ravaged much of the rest of the country seemed far-fetched to many environmentalists.

Without the protection of the American GIs, it was feared that much of the 20,500 acres (8,300 hectares) of timber—a rare virgin forest of valuable mahogany and teak trees—would be cut down by poachers.

Home to monkeys, deer, snakes, bats, and many species of birds, the forest not only contains some of the most expensive hardwood trees found in the Philippines; it is also a vital watershed, preventing erosion and providing drinking water for the area.

The last of 12,000 Americans stationed at Subic Bay left in November, 1992 after the Philippine Senate rejected a renewal of the U.S. lease. It was the largest withdrawal in naval history.


Before the pullout, the Navy ran a strict management program in the forest, including regular Marine foot patrols to ferret out hunters and timber poachers. Offenders were turned over to Philippine authorities for prosecution.

“Some of these old military bases have been better preserved than national parks in our own country, because they’re so strictly controlled,” says Merlin Tuttle, founder of the non-profit Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas. Tuttle says that several species of flying foxes have been driven to extinction by over-hunting in unprotected areas of Pacific islands.

“Sites like Subic Bay have been the last refuges for some of these bats,” says Tuttle. Continued preservation of the forest was discussed by U.S. and Philippine officials during planning for withdrawal.

“It was one of the issues that came up: What’s going to happen to that jungle, now that we’re out of there,” said Lt. Ken Ross of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Our concern was that we turn everything over, including the forest, in the best condition possible.”

Philippine officials pledged to save the forest. “What we want to be able to do is replicate or at least approximate fully what the Americans have done,” Fulgencio Factoran, environment and natural resources secretary, said during the withdrawal talks. “This is one reason why our proud people will exert more effort to show everyone it doesn’t take Americans to protect their own forests.”

But many Philippine and U.S. conservationists were skeptical that the government would take the needed measures. Although logging in virgin forests is illegal, the government has a poor record of providing resources for enforcement—partly, say environmentalists, because powerful political and military figures profit from the timber. Politicians also say strict enforcement hurts poor people living in the area.


Factoran and natural resources administrator Herman Laurei expressed dismay at the annual budget the government approved in 1992 for forest protection in the province that includes Subic Bay: the equivalent of US $1,740. Laurei complained that “it’s almost a joke to expect serious results.”

Philippine officials estimate that their tropical rain forests are being cut down at a rate of 445,000 acres (180,000 hectares) a year—about three times the worldwide rate. Widespread poverty and a rapidly expanding population are blamed for the constant pressure to clear land. Timber produces quick profits, as well as firewood for scavengers, and creates space for agriculture.

But it’s been a different story at Subic Bay. The U.S. guardians have been replaced by an equally determined set of protectors: well-heeled businessmen, operating under agencies formed by the Philippine government, hoping to turn the former military base into an international industrial park and free-trade zone.

“Because of security related to business development, and measures that have been taken to protect the business people themselves, the forest is under no immediate threat,” according to John Pipoly of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, based in Fort Worth.

“Most people love to look at the forest,” says Pipoly, who recently completed a major study of Filipino plant life. “Businesspeople come in, wine and dine, and watch the hornbills land from their hotel verandas.”

Present plans call for construction of a giant import-export center, including an industrial park containing large factories on the former base itself—which already contains handsome residential buildings formerly used by high-ranking military officials. An entertainment district, including a casino and a five-star hotel, is also on the drawing board.

Once used by U.S. warplanes, the airport—approximately four times the size of the decrepit municipal airport in Manila—would be the transportation hub for the complex. “The only difference,” Pipoly speculates, “would be that the big planes coming in and out will be civilian, not military. It should have no impact on the forest.”

In the meantime, the business interests—concerned by the rash of Muslim terrorist kidnappings that have plagued the Philippines in recent years—have maintained their own security forces to discourage trespassing in the forest.

The arrangement may not be perfect. April Sansom, who recently spent a year in the country working for the private group Conservation International Philippines and the previous two years as a Peace Corps volunteer there, reports seeing some areas that have been thinned out, and some bare hilltops.

But for the most part, it appears that the business interests—for now, at least—have accomplished what the Philippine government has failed to do in much of the rest of the archipelago: keep the countryside green.

Eye in the Sky is a weekly series that brings you the story behind the headlines using satellite imagery, remote sensing, aerial photography, and maps. This feature is developed by National Geographic News with the sponsorship of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and Earth-Info. Check out maps and imagery at

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More Information

• Philippine authorities estimate that in 1972, the country had about 25.7 million acres (10.4 million hectares) of natural forests covering 34 percent of the country’s total land area.
• Currently only 15.2 million acres (6.16 million hectares) of forest remain, making the Philippines one of the world’s most seriously deforested countries.
• New legislation calling for sustainable management of the country’s forest resources calls for a variety of remedies, including participation of local communities in forest management. However, previous strict laws governing logging have failed due to lack of enforcement.
• Until 1992, the Subic Bay rain forest was used by U.S. forces as a training ground for jungle survival. Local Aetas inhabitants, whose forest lore has been passed down through generations, taught pilots which plants could be used for water and emergency medicine.

More Information

After years of illegal logging, the Philippine archipelago is now estimated to have less than three percent of its original forest cover. Philippine Senator Loren Legarda has warned that if the trend is not reversed, “we will have only 6.6 percent forest cover—both virgin and second growth—by the year 2010.”

“That nation is one of the most nearly deforested tropical countries in the world,” according to Harvard University’s Pulitzer Prize-winning authority on biodiversity, Edward O. Wilson. “Forest reserves there are few and far between, and are of extraordinary value to future generations in the Philippines as well as in the rest of the world.”

In his 1992 book, “The Diversity of Life,” Wilson warned that the Philippines is “at the edge of a full-scale biodiversity collapse. …At best, the ultimate losses will be heavy.”

According to the Philippines’ Forest Development Council—an academic research institution—much of the loss has come from the expansion of subsistence farming by some 20 million inhabitants of forested areas. Many of these areas suffer long-lasting damage from slash-and-burn techniques of forest clearing.

SM, iba pang malls pinagsasakripisyo, apela ng anti-porn iginiit sa NBI, PNP

UMAPELA kahapon ang tagapagsalita ng Philippine Alliance Against Pornography, Inc. (PAAP) sa ilang tenants ng Shoe Mart (SM), Glorietta, Greenbelt, Robinson's malls at mga katulad na establisimyento sa buong bansa na tularan ang sakripisyo ni Hesukristo ngayong Mahal na Araw.

Ginawa ni Aldo 'Boy Blue' Filomeno ang apela sa likod ng mga ulat na ilang tenants ng nasabing malls ang nagbebenta umano ng pornographic materials.

Naniniwala si Filomeno na panahon na upang ipakita ng kinauukulan ang magagandang gawain ng Diyos, kabilang ang pagtalikod sa kasamaan katulad ng pornograpiya.

"We appeal to them to emulate Jesus Christ, we must remember that the focus of attention during the Holy Week is to give due respect to the life of Jesus Christ," ani Filomeno.

Naunang hiniling ni Filomeno sa National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Philippine National Police (PNP) na salakayin ang ilang tenants ng SM, Glorietta, Greenbelt, Robinson malls at mga katulad na establisimyento sa buong bansa dahil sa pagbebenta umano ng pornographic materials.

Naniniwala si Filomeno na dapat sampahan din ng NBI at PNP ng kaukulang kaso ang tenants at mall owners sa tulong ng Department of Justice (DoJ).

Ayon kay Filomeno, ilan sa posibleng batas umano na nalabag ng nasabing establisimyento ang Presidential Decree 1986 o batas na lumikha sa Movies and Television, Review and Classification Board; Republic Act 3019 o Anti-Graft on Corruption Act; Article 201 ng Revised Penal Code o anti-pornography law; RA 7610 o Anti-Child Abuse Law; The Tariff Code ng Bureau of Customs at iba.

Kabilang sa tinukoy ni Filomeno na suliranin ang sandamakmak na tenants sa malls na nagbebenta at nagpapakita ng umano'y malalaswa at marahas na items katulad ng mga sumusunod: (1) FHM at Cosmopolitan magazines ng pamilya Gokongwei na ibinebenta sa Filbars, Booksale, National Bookstore, Robinson's outlets ng Mini Stop convenience stores; (2) mararahas na video games sa Time Zone, at iba; (3) VCDs katulad ng Playboy na ibinebenta sa Videocity at ibang video shops; (4) animes, toys; (5) komiks; (6) posters ng Bench, Triumph at iba na nagpapakita ng mga seksing modelo na nakikita ng mga bata; (7) streamers ng malaswa at marahas na palabas.

Tinukoy ni Filomeno ang kontrobersiyal na pelikula sa mga sinehan sa malls na lumusot sa MTRCB bilang PG-13 katulad ng 'Wedding Crasher', 'Kutob'); R-13 na 'North Country', 'Casanova', 'Munich', 'Vendetta, 'Derailed'; R-18 na 'Basic Instinct', 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Hostel' at iba. People's Journal

Pinoy mountain climber ready to trek Mt. Everest

FILIPINO mountain climber, Romeo 'Romin' Garduce, known in the international mountaineering community as 'Garduch' - has reached Mt Everest's Base Camp last April 3, — the first step in realizing his goal to be the first Filipino to reach the summit of the famed wonder of nature.

At 29,035 feet, Mount Everest is easily the tallest mountain on the planet. The Nepalese revere and call it "Sagarmatha", which means 'goddess of the sky'. It straddles the borders of Nepal and Tibet and sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau (Qing Zang Gaoyuan).
A systems analyst for a multi-national company, Garduch quietly left the country last March 4 to begin what many would perhaps agree as the climb of his life.

But the snow-capped majesty of the Everest hides dangers that have claimed the lives of many seasoned climbers and mountaineers.

NOT FOR PERSONAL GLORY. Garduch is not doing his Everest climb for personal glory. He is doing so because he thinks it is about time a Filipino — any Filipino — joins other success stories in the historical annals of Everest.

` also known as blinding blizzards, avalanche, and hypothermia are only some of the hazards that Everest climbers have faced since Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal first climbed it in May 29, 1953.

Fifty three years later — Garduch is attempting to be the first Filipino to summit Mt. Everest.

After successfully reaching Everest's Base Camp, Garduce's concentration is now focused on acclimatization.

The Bataan-born mountaineer is following the 'Hillary Route', named after Edmund Hillary.

Despite the perils of Hillary route, Garduce is all set to trudge the path leading to the summit of Mt. Everest while the nation waits with bated breath to see if he succeeds and is finally able to plant the Philippine flag on the peak of the tallest mountain in the world.

Garduch is not doing his Everest climb for personal glory. He is doing so because he thinks it is about time a Filipino — any Filipino — joins other success stories in the historical annals of Everest.

The GMA Mount Everest Expedition is the fourth "Climb-for-A-Cause" that Garduch has undertaken.
The GMA Mt. Everest Expedition is co-presented by Northface and is supported by Caltex with Techron, My Marvel Taheebo and Revicon Max.

Caltex supports Garduce in his bid to become to first Filipino to conquer the tallest mountain in the world. Caltex believes that Romi's success is further proof that Filipino athletes are truly world class and are capable of excelling in the international arena.

Romi's attempt only shows how Filipinos can overcome any challenge and adversity, no matter how difficult or how high. Caltex says it will continue to support ventures that benefit, enrich and improve the society and people of which we are a part of.

Revicon Max believes that Garduce is living proof that Filipinos are more than ready to conquer the world with our innate sense of determination to rise above challenges. Revicon Max is relentless in its support for endeavors like the GMA Mt. Everest Expedition, endeavors that benefit, enrich and improve the stature of Filipinos all over the world.

My Marvel Taheebo also staunchly supports the GMA Mt. Everest Expedition. By supporting the television coverage of Romi's attempt, My Marvel Taheebo celebrates the strength and determination of Romi and other Filipino climbers and athletes and wishes all of them well in their pursuit of their dreams —— the fulfillment of which will bring much pride to the country and all Filipino everywhere in the world.

Set to benefit from Garduce's Everest climb is the GMA Kapuso Foundation, a non-profit organization of GMA Network, Inc.

Prior to this, he has scaled Mt. Cho Oyu in Tibet, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina and Mt. Elbrus in Russia.

Incidentally, two of the three above-mentioned mountains are included in the list of Seven Summits or the highest peaks of the world's seven continents ` Mt. Aconcagua, 22, 975 feet and Mt. Elbrus at 18, 619 feet.

Mt. Cho Oyu, at 27, 064 feet is the sixth highest peak in the world and was scaled by Garduce last September 26, 2005. It is the highest ever mountain climbed by a Filipino. Located at the borders of Nepal and Tibet, Mt. Cho Oyu ` which means 'The Turquoise Goddess' ` is known as one of the deadliest mountains in the world due to the many climbers who have died trying to reach its summit.

Beneficiaries of these past climbs of Garduch were indigenous people (Cartwheel Foundation), underprivileged patients of the internal medicine ward of the Philippine General Hospital (Bukas Sarili Foundation) and the Bauan-Anilao Conservation project in Batangas.