Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ari-arian ng mga bgy chair ipinaiimbentaryo ng DILG

IPINAIIMBENTARYO ni Department of the Interior and Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno ang lahat ng financial records at property ng mga da-ting chair ng bawat barangay bago umupo ang mga mananalong halal na opisyal.

Sa ipinalabas na mem-randum sa pamamagitan ni Undersecretary Austere Panadero, inatasan nito ang mga Alkalde ng munisipyo at mga siyudad na pangasiwaan ang isasagawang inventory ng mga kagamitan at mga financial records para sa maayos na pagsasalin sa mga bagong uupong mga punong barangay.

Ayon sa DILG ang lahat ng barangay officials ay nararapat aniyang kumuha muna ng kanilang property clearance sa kanilang mga barangay treasurer, para naman sa pormal na pagsasalin nito sa mga bagong punong barangay.

Sakali naman aniyang nawala o nasira ang mga naturang government property dulot ng kalamidad, ay dapat maghain muna sa kanilang city o municipal auditor ang mga accountable officers ng pagkawala sa loob lamang ng 30 araw para sa accounting nito.

Dapat aniyang kalakip ng mga requests ay kinabibi-langan ng affidavit ng accountable officer at two disinterested persons; 2) final investigation report ng office of department head at proper go-vernment-investigating agency; at 3) listahan at description ng mga properties na nawala na sertipikado ng bawat provincial at city general services officer, municipal or barangay treasurer. Arlene Rivera - Journal online

DILG to local execs: Ensure turnover of barangay records

By: Jun Icban-Legaspi - Journal online

IN view of the forthcoming synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 29, 2007, Secretary Ronaldo Puno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on all city and municipal mayors to ensure the proper turnover of all financial records and property inventory in the barangay by the outgoing punong barangays before the assumption to office of the incoming barangay officials.

Puno, in a memorandum issued through Undersecretary Austere A. Panadero, reiterated a memorandum circular issued by the department earlier, enjoining all city and municipal mayors to direct their respective punong barangays to conduct property, financial and records inventories, and turn-over the same to the incoming punong barangays on or before their assumption to office.

“As city and municipal mayors have a supervisory role over barangays, they are expected to make sure that outgoing punong barangays under them should effect a proper turnover of records, properties and equipment,” he said.

Earlier, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2002-122 which provides for the systematic and smooth turnover of records and properties by the outgoing punong barangays.

The DILG secretary said all outgoing barangay officials, as the primary accountable officers for all government property assigned or issued to his office, shall also be required to secure property clearance from the barangay treasurer, who shall in turn secure the same from the incoming punong barangay.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Senate to oppose House bill resetting village, youth polls

By Veronica Uy -

MANILA, Philippines -- The Senate has agreed in a consensus to oppose moves to postpone barangay (village) and the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections, the Minority Floor Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has disclosed.

Pimentel said this was discussed in a caucus where he and his colleagues were also deliberating on what to do over Malacañang’s refusal to allow Cabinet members attend Senate inquiries.

On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a resolution that reset the village and youth council elections from October 29 to the second Monday of May 2009.

The House bill is expected to be sent to the Senate for adoption.

Cabinet and military officials who were invited Tuesday to the Senate inquiry on the national broadband network project did not attend for various reasons.

Irked over the Palace response, the senators agreed to issue subpoenas to force these officials to attend the ongoing investigation.

Delay in village, youth polls unconstitutional--Tañada

By Delfin Mallari Jr. - Inquirer

LUCENA CITY, Philippines -- Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III insisted on Tuesday that House Bill 2417 postponing the scheduled barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections, is "unconstitutional."

"While the legislature can fix the term of local officials, it cannot extend their tenure," he said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of

He called on his fellow solons to start the 14th Congress “by being real representatives of our people."

“Let not this shameful bill blemish the very image that we are starting to rebuild for the House of Representatives,” he stressed.

He noted that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has already declared that they are ready to oversee the village and youth polls originally scheduled next month.

Citing the position of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, Tañada lamented that the first postponement of the village elections in 2005 already gave sitting barangay and SK officials two years of “un-mandated” leadership and another postponement would only extend the “credulity” of their mandate even more.

The solon chided the Comelec for its plan to use the village polls as a “guinea pig for election automation,” saying it “smacks of hypocrisy."

He dismissed the arguments of local officials that the lack of funds justifies the postponement.

“That lack of funds, not by Comelec, but by those who would bankroll the campaigns of barangay captains and Sangguniang Kabataan, should actually be a strong reason why the October barangay elections should not be postponed,” he stressed.

“At least, somehow, performance and not money politics would determine the outcome of the village elections,” he added.

On Monday, voting 149 for, 50 against, and with four abstentions, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 2417 which reset the synchronized village and youth elections.

Under the proposed legislation, the scheduled October 29 election will be moved to the second Monday of May 2009.

The 2007 General Appropriations Act gave the Comelec P9.17 billion budget, almost half of this, or P5.2 billion, spent for the May polls.

The village and SK elections will cost P2.131 billion.

House Bill 2417 has been forwarded to the Senate for its concurrence.

Senate President Manuel Villar, Jr. has indicated he would facilitate consideration of the bill by the senators. Villar said he recognized that House members were in the best position to feel the pulse of their constituents.

The poll body has issued Resolution Number 8264 enumerating the calendar of activities in relation to the October 29 elections.

The resolution states the election period will start September 29 and end November 13.

Scrap ‘useless’ SK, says Nene

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal

SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. yesterday said he supports the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, noting that it no longer serves its purpose as a training ground for youth leaders and as means for them to be involved in the community.

He cited persistent reports that officials of SK in various barangays have neglected their duties, although they continue to get allowances.

However, he said an alternative mechanism should be created to ensure continued youth representation in local government units.

In several cases, the SK chairmen and other officials are oftentimes not around in their respective towns because they are studying in colleges and universities in Metro Manila and elsewhere, Pimentel said.

But the worst cases are the SK leaders who commit corrupt practices, unable to resist the temptation to which they are exposed in handling public funds that are entrusted to them.

“Given these unsavory reports, we should now consider the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan and replace it with some other mechanism,” Pimentel said.

“While I am for abolition of the SK, it is not right that we should dissolve it without a replacement because I believe that the youth should not be deprived of representation in the government,” he added.

He said even some mayors whose sons or daughters are SK officials have endorsed the scrapping of the SK because it is not delivering any services while continuing to receive funding from the government for its operations.

Pimentel said he is disturbed over reports that SK officials are tempted to take advantage of their positions for monetary gains due to the absence of serious efforts to prevent fund irregularities.

“We should not tolerate a situation where they are exposed to or susceptible to wrongdoing especially since they are still in their formative years,” he said.

But he maintained his stand against the deferment of the barangay and SK elections from Oct. 29 to the second Monday of 2009 as contained in a bill already approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

He said this is probably the last elections to be conducted for SK in view of the snowballing move for its abolition in both chambers of Congress.

Since the proposed postponement will automatically result in an additional two-year extension of the term of incumbent SK officials, Pimentel said this is a “ridiculous move” because practically all of them are past the age bracket -- 15 to 17 years old -- for youth and therefore legally speaking, no longer qualified for the posts.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tanods to get allowances

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo - Journal

BARANGAY tanods deserve to get monetary allowances.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. stressed this yesterday even as he filed a bill authorizing the grant of P500 monthly allowance to barangay tanods.

Tanods are barangay residents who render voluntary services to maintain peace and order in the community.

Pimentel said the allowance to be provided by the national government under the Annual General Appropriations Act should be in addition to, and separate from, any other form of remuneration that barangay tanods may receive from their respective cities and municipalities.

“This is in recognition of the vital contributions of tanods in delivering basic services to the residents of the barangay. They regularly patrol the streets of the village especially at night when burglars, kidnappers and other criminal elements usually ply their nefarious activities,” the senator said.

Under Senate Bill 1529, every barangay unit should enlist the services of a maximum of 10 barangay tanods whose names and dates of service should be properly recorded and forwarded to the city/municipal authorities by the barangay secretary or the chairman for monitoring.

Under Pimentel’s bill, funds will be released to the barangay which should create a trust fund for this purpose. The barangay will then release the allowances of barangay tanods.

”Initially, the amount necessary for the implementation of the allowance proposal shall be funded out of the appropriation of the Department of Interior and Local Gvernment under the current GAA. Thereafter, this item shall be included in the succeeding GAA,” he said.

”The secretary of the DILG, in consultation with the Liga ng mga Barangay, should within 30 days from effectivity of this Act, issue such rules and regulations necessary for the proper implementation of the provisions of this legislation,” Pimentel said.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Decision marred by faulty English

By Jose A. Carillo - Manila Times

It’s most unfortunate that the Sandiganbayan decision on the Estrada plunder case, a landmark document in Philippine jurisprudence, should be marred by far from impeccable English. Many sentences in that 84,257-word decision violate the basic rules of English grammar and usage, and would have greatly benefited from more judicious copyediting and competent proofreading.

That decision’s very first sentence is an ill-crafted, bewildering piece of English: “Republic Act (RA) No. 7080 as amended was approved on July 12, 1991, creating and introducing into our criminal legal system the crime of ‘plunder’.” The qualifying phrase “as amended was approved on July 12, 1991” is missing the comma that would have properly set it off from its subject, “Republic Act No. 7080,” and its poor syntax has actually given rise to a run-on sentence. And from the logic and tenor of that sentence, its operative verbs would have done a much better semantic job if they were in the simple past tense, “created” and “introduced.”

So here’s how that problematic sentence might have been improved: “Republic Act (RA) No. 7080, as amended and approved on July 12, 1991, created the crime of ‘plunder’ and introduced it into our criminal legal system.” (But come to think of it, since the law had not really intended to create plunder from thin air and foist the crime on us, wouldn’t it have been more advisable to use the verbs “defined” and “incorporated” instead of “created” and “introduced”?)

The decision’s second sentence is grammatically erroneous and structurally problematic as well: “This law penalizes public officers who would amass immense wealth through a series or combination of overt or criminal acts described in the statute in violation of the public trust.” The verb “amass” in that sentence doesn’t need the verbal auxiliary “would,” and the phrase “in violation of the public trust” is a misplaced modifier that wrongly modifies the noun “statute.” And the whole sentence itself, by stacking so many improperly linked prepositional phrases to modify “public officers,” has such a garbled construction.

Here’s a clearer and more readable version of that sentence: “This law penalizes any public officer who, in violation of the public trust, amasses immense wealth through a series or combination of the overt or criminal acts described in the statute.”

Similarly marred by infelicitous word choices, fractured syntax, and faulty sentence structure is the quoted opening statement of the majority opinion in the case of Estrada v. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 148965, February 26, 2002, 377 SCRA 538, 555). Take its very first sentence: “Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruption and obscene profligacy of officials in high places which have shaken its very foundation.”

The verb “racked” in that sentence (roughly meaning “tortured”) should instead have been “wracked” (meaning “utterly ruined”) or “rocked” (meaning “disturbed greatly”), and the relative clause “which have shaken its very foundation” doesn’t only dangle but wrongly uses the nonrestrictive relative pronoun “which” instead of the restrictive “that.” The result is another run-on sentence that suffers semantically from carrying so many poorly linked modifying phrases.

Here’s a simpler, more readable rendering of that opening sentence: “Our nation has been shaken to its very foundations by so many scandals involving the corruption and profligacy of high officials.”

The sentence that follows the quoted majority opinion’s opening sentence, apart from being overwrought, mixes and mangles its metaphors: “The anatomy of graft and corruption has become more elaborate in the corridors of time as unscrupulous people relentlessly contrive more and more ingenious ways to milk the coffers of the government.” The peculiar clause “the anatomy of graft and corruption has become more elaborate in the corridors of time” probably would have made better sense if “anatomy” were changed to “mechanism,” and “in the corridors of time” to the literal phrase “over time.” It’s also very likely that the writer of the decision mistook the figurative phrase “corridors of time” for the more semantically appropriate “corridors of power.”

But this much simpler construction of that sentence would have done much better: “Over time, graft and corruption have become more elaborate, with unscrupulous officials contriving more and more ingenious ways of milking the government’s coffers.”

Many more instances of inadequate English are to be found in the Sandiganbayan decision, but the point has been made: Along with many of the English-using sectors of Philippine society, there’s a crying need for the country’s judicial system to improve its English.

Poll postponement all up to Senate

House rushes bill moving elections to 2009 Only 6 weeks left before Oct. 29 SK, barangay polls

By EDMER F. PANESA - Manila bulletin

The fate of the proposal to postpone the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections slated on Oct. 29, 2007, now lies in the hands of the Senate.

While Speaker Jose de Venecia said yesterday that bill postponing the elections to May in 2009 is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading tomorrow, it needs quick Senate action and approval, or the elections set for Oct. 29 will proceed as scheduled.

Majority Leader Rep. Arthur Defensor of Iloilo and Senior Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. of Mandaluyong City both expressed confidence that the bill will hurdle third-reading approval by Monday. They said this will give the Senate enough time to move it through committee and plenary approval before Congress takes its first break starting Oct. 13.

"It will be up to the Senate to decide whether the polls should be postponed or not," Defensor said.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, had earlier said it is unlikely for senators to endorse the proposal to defer the barangay and SK elections to the second Monday of May in 2009.

Gordon said incumbent barangay and SK officials had already enjoyed a three-year term extension because the polls have been postponed twice. The last village and youth polls were held in 2002. Elections were scheduled for 2005 but these were postponed.

Similar views have also been expressed by other senators who want the elections held as scheduled.

Secretary Ronaldo Puno of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) had also said his department sees no reason for the postponement since funds are already available for the elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is also proceeding with all preparations for the Oct. 29 elections. It has already deputized the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police and other organizations to ensure the security of the elections.

It has reminded the candidates of the mandatory drug testing for all candidates.

It has announced that the same precincts used in the last elections will be open on Oct. 29.

With only about six weeks left before Oct. 29, observers said it now depends on the Senate whether it will go along with the House proposal for postponement. It will have to deliberate and approve the measure and then a bicameral committee will have to resolve any differences between the Senate and House bills.

Then President Arroyo will have to sign the bill into law.

All these many steps must be taken in the next six weeks, if the elections are to be postponed.

Barangay, SK polls postponement pressed

By: Jester P. Manalastas - Journal

SPEAKER Jose de Venecia yesterday announced that a bill on the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will be approved on third and final reading at the plenary session tomorrow.

De Venecia said that the immediate approval of the bill is due to the strong support from the different political parties in the House of Representatives.

Earlier, the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms approved the postponement of barangay elections from October 2007 to May 2009.

Committee chairman Makati Rep. Teddy Locsin presented to the plenary the committee report stating that the Commission on Elections had asked Congress to give them at least two years to prepare for the computerized elections. It was approved at second reading.

If the Senate rejects the postponement the elections will proceed as scheduled on October 29.

House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor and Senior Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales both expressed confidence that the bill will hurdle third-reading approval tomorrow.

They said the Senate has enough time to move it through committee and plenary approval before Congress takes its first break starting October 13.

“It will be up to the Senate to decide whether the polls should be postponed or not,” Defensor said.

House bent on resetting village polls

By Norman Bordadora - Inquirer

MANILA -- The House of Representatives appears bent on approving the bill seeking to postpone the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled for Oct. 29.

Speaker Jose de Venecia on Saturday said he expected the postponement of the village elections to be approved on third reading in the House Monday.

“With strong bipartisan support, the bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections by two years is expected to be approved on third and final reading on Monday,” De Venecia said.

The bill became the first measure approved in committee by the House in the 14th Congress after it was sponsored on second reading in plenary last week by Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., chair of the committee on suffrage and electoral reform.

The bill seeks to postpone the barangay elections from Oct. 29 to May 2009.

The fate of the measure will still depend on the Senate, however.

The elections will still push through if the Senate fails to act on the legislation.

“It will be up to the Senate to decide whether the polls should be postponed or not,” House Majority Leader Arthur Defensor said.

Senate urged to probe Cebu smuggling

By Jolene Bulambot - Inquirer Visayas Bureau

CEBU CITY -- AN OFFICIAL OF A GROUP OF customs brokers here on Saturday asked the Senate to investigate the rampant smuggling of cars through the Cebu port.

Ricky Gantuangco, executive vice president of the Visayas chapter of the Professional Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines (PCBAP), said his group knew the identities of brokers and importers who were conniving with customs officials in smuggling used luxury cars, but was helpless.

He said some officials of the PCBAP feared harassment from customs officials if they involved themselves in the investigation.

Some PCBAP members import surplus vehicles.

“To even the playing field, especially since only a few privilege people are enjoying it, we hope a Senate or a congressional inquiry would (also) be conducted,” he said.

Gantuangco said car smuggling in Cebu has been hurting the legitimate business of brokers and importers who are members of the PCBAP.

He said investigators should zero in on brokers whose earnings are too big to be explained by their legitimate importation.

Some customs officials demand P30,000 in bribe from brokers and importers for every container van loaded with smuggled vehicles.

Bribes, known in customs jargon as tara or suborno, have become part of standard operating procedures in the port of Cebu, he said.

“You can ask those brokers who are into that activity, they can tell you exactly how much they are giving to the customs officials,” said Gantuangco. “It’s already alarming.”

The Cebu Auto Dealers Association (Cada) earlier said Cebu has become a prime destination for smuggled luxury car, prompting the Visayas Ombudsman to start an investigation.

Records from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers in the Philippines (Campi) said legitimate car dealers sold 1,686 cars and 3,274 other vehicles but the Land Transportation Office registered 3,584 cars and 21,637 other vehicles.

Jose Manuel Cuenco, Cada president, said his group supports Gantuangco’s call for a Senate investigation.

“(Car) smuggling is so prevalent in Cebu that people think that it is normal already… This must be stopped,” he said.

Cada had written Finance Secretary Margarito Teves to put a stop to the smuggling. There was no response yet.

The customs bureau started an investigation, but its officials are already saying that smuggling was impossible because the port of Cebu has a sophisticated X-ray machine that could detect contraband in closed container vans.

These officials said the smuggled cars could have entered through other ports and were brought to Cebu as domestic cargo.

The Department of Transportation and Communications also started an investigation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Loren urges P6-B Pagasa rehab

SENATOR Loren Legarda yesterday batted for the modernization of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration to better protect Filipinos and the environment from the fury of natural calamities like typhoons.

Loren has filed Senate Bill No. 1397 to enhance the capabilities of Pagasa in predicting the occurrence and strength of weather disturbances, the Philippines being located within the Pacific Rim of Fire noted for its active volcanoes and extreme weather systems.

“Pagasa should be modernized so it can live up to its name -- as a harbinger of hope during calamitous times,” the senator said.

“I am,therefore, calling on the 14th Congress to pass this bill that would allow Pagasa to make better weather forecasts to help us minimize loss of lives and damages to properties due to natural calamities.

She added that while her bill concentrates on Pagasa, there is also a great need to modernize the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to improve its monitoring of the country’s active volcanoes and seismic activities.

“The Philippines is prone to natural disasters. It lies along what is known as the Ring of Fire with a number of active volcanoes. It is also within the path of storms emanating from the Pacific Ocean. These conditions increase the vulnerability of many areas and people in various parts of the nation,” she said.

Loren explained that significant advances in the technologies used in monitoring meteorological and geological developments have great potential in providing vital information for disaster management.

“This bill addresses the need to upgrade the capacity of Pagasa to perform its mandate thereby providing the necessary informational requirement and warning systems to minimize the vulnerability of people, environment and economy to natural disasters,” she said in her bill’s explanatory note.

The bill allots P5 billion to fund the six-year modernization program.

Part of the fund is to come from net income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Journal on-line

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Too late to defer bgy-SK polls

By: Bernadette E. Tamayo
IT is already “too late” to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections set on October 29 since preparations for the twin polls are well under way, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said yesterday.

With the village and youth polls barely two months away, Pimentel said it would be too late to postpone the elections, even if deferment of the polls has been endorsed by the committee on electoral reforms of the House of Representatives.

“And secondly, the Comelec (Commission on Elections) has been saying it’s all systems go for the polls,” he said. The House committee on electoral reforms has approved the postponement of the barangay and SK polls from Oct. 29 this year to the second Monday of October 2009.

Pimentel warned that hundreds of millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money will go to waste if the twin political exercises will be postponed anew. He noted that the Comelec has already used up a huge fraction of the P2 billion budget for the barangay-SK polls, including about P300 million for the registration of new voters.

“In my view, the move to reset the barangay and SK elections is already moot and academic. In the first place, the Department of Budget and Management has assured that there are funds available for the purpose and it has in fact started releasing funds,” Pimentel said.

Ladderized education to be implemented

By: Alvin Murcia - JOurnal online
TO further improve the quality of education in the country the Pinoy Ladderized Education Program (Pinoy-LEP) will be implemented jointly by the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The agreement of the two government agencies was stipulated in Executive Order No. 358, which calls for close coordination between TESDA under Secretary Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco and CHED Secretary Romulo Neri.

The joint effort was focused mainly in improving the Technical-Vocational Education and Training of the students.

The two agencies agreed that all courses in the tertiary level in 2008-2009 should be based on the ladderized program, particularly Computer Operations/Proficiency, English Proficiency for Call Center Agents as a standard Tech-Voc qualification for every BS degree program.

Under the law, the level of knowledge of every student should be improved to ensure that they will have a brighter future because they are well prepared.

To ensure that only qualified students can avail of the said program Syjuco is pushing for the computerization program for an on-line verification of all documents and establishment of a data base for quick access.

Student groups seek abolition of SKs

By Vincent Cabreza - Inquirer

BAGUIO CITY—The country’s student governments want the abolition of the “non-performing” Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), now that Congress has started deliberations on the fate of barangay and SK elections scheduled next month.

They announced in a Sept. 5 manifesto that they would launch a letter-writing campaign to draw attention to their appeal, which was issued on Tuesday at the close of the National Leadership Training for Student Government Officers at Teachers Camp here.

Where youth belong

Joey Pelaez, executive director of the Department of Education’s Center for Students and Co-Curricular Affairs, said government must ensure that all youths go to school, a mandatory state service that SK officers discard in exchange for salaries and perks offered by weekly city, municipal and provincial council sessions.

Benralph Yu, president of the Region XI Federation of Student Governments, said they do not want the October elections to push through at all to enable government to reallocate the money meant for the polls to augment the budget for public education.

This was not the first appeal for SK abolition, the students said. But their teachers said this was the first position on the SK coming from DepEd.

Better councils

Yu said student councils are better equipped to represent the country’s youth than the SK, a carry-over from the Kabataang Barangay (KB) of the martial law period.

Student leaders said the student councils could begin community work to make up for the vacuum opened if the SK is abolished.

The manifesto, signed by 6,000 high school students and teachers, said the SK elections have “initiated our young early into the ways of traditional politics because of the dirty tricks, vote-buying, kidnap-for-votes or kidnap-not-vote tactics and mudslinging employed by their relatives and parents, who are themselves politicians, and their political patrons.”

Basis for existence

But Yu said the student governments have not compiled evidence to prove that the SK has become corrupt.

“The SK has lost the bases of its existence with its miserable performance or non-performance to pursue its mandate for 15 years to develop the youth for service, patriotism and leadership, increase their social consciousness and enhance their participation in nation-building,” the manifesto said.

“The programs and projects being implemented by the SK are too insignificant if not utterly irrelevant, consisting mostly of construction of waiting sheds and signposts that conspicuously bear and perpetuate the SK officials’ names, and wasting precious resources that could have funded more important and urgent concerns such as public education.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

LEDAC urged to meet on barangay polls postponement

A HOUSE leader yesterday called for an immediate meeting by the concerned government officials on whether or not to postpone the elections of the barangay and the Sangguniang Kabataan scheduled on Oct. 29.

The move, according to Rep. Abraham Mitra (NPC, Palawan), is designed to stop the Commission on Elections from spending taxpayers’ money for activities preparatory to the polls.

Mitra, a House assistant majority leader, said the meeting should be held immediately during a session of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) which he suggested should be convened, preferably on Monday, by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo upon her return from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Sydney, Australia.

The lawmaker said the scheduled polls will cost some P2.13 billion, the amount allocated in this year’s budget for the particular exercise.

He said the money was scheduled to be released to the Comelec by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) in full by the end of last month.

“Sans any law postponing the elections, the DBM is duty-bound to release the funds and the Comelec is duty-bound to spend it for activities needed to hold an orderly election,” the congressman said.

“It is safe to assume that while Congress mulls on postponing it, forms are being printed, ballot boxes are being prepared, personnel are being trained, transport system is being set up together with all logistics needed for such an undertaking. An election in our country is always a big-budgeted production with a cast of hundreds of thousands,” Mitra said. Raul S. Beltran - People's Tonight

Comelec invites suppliers to demo poll automation solutions

By Lawrence Casiraya -

MANILA, Philippines -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has requested interested suppliers to present solutions for mock elections leading to the computerization of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls next year.

Juan Villa, director for election systems at Smartmatic Solutions, reported that the Comelec has released a Request for Information (RFI) for all prospective suppliers to respond to on or before September 20.

"We are preparing our response and I'm sure the others are doing the same," Villa said via e-mail.

Interviewed via phone, Tim Diaz de Rivera, head of the technical working group tasked to assist Comelec's automation, confirmed that RFIs were issued to at least a dozen prospective suppliers.

Among those that were issued RFIs, he added, was Mega Data Corp, which previously proposed a system called Botong Pinoy that incorporates biometrics.

The Comelec plans to hold mock elections in either November or December, which would basically allow suppliers to present their automation solutions.

"We are looking at several options. One is to have separate systems for voting and counting of votes, or to have a hybrid system that can do both," Diaz de Rivera said, adding there's a chance of having multiple suppliers.

The mock elections, which is basically a demonstration of each supplier's solution, is meant to help the technical working group decide on which technology to adopt for next year's polls.

Diaz de Rivera, who is commissioner of the Commission on ICT, heads this advisory group that also includes key IT personnel from government.

"By January, we should be able to pick a supplier so we could begin holding a series of mock elections. By law, we should have at least six months’ lead time to educate both the Comelec and voters about the system," he said.

He added that the Department of Budget and Management (has already allocated funds in the 2008 budget specifically for election computerization but was not able to specify the amount

Palace leaving Congress to decide on barangay, SK polls

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez -

MANILA, Philippines -- Malacañang on Wednesday said it is leaving it up to Congress to decide if elections for barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan (SK or youth council) officials should be postponed to 2010.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, however, stressed that as far as the executive is concerned, it wants the elections to push through on October this year.

"The executive at this moment is not for a postponement," Ermita said, but added that it would abide by a new law postponing the polls if Congress pass one.

Ermita said that during the meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council two weeks ago, senators expressed their opposition to move the election to 2010, simultaneous with the presidential election.

Interior and Local Government Secretary and acting presidential political adviser Ronaldo Puno also said he would lobby in Congress for the election to push through next month.

Ermita said the government is ready for the elections with P2.1 billion form this year’s budget allotted for the exercise.

Pasig loses claim to Meralco tax

‘No ordinance filed to back up demand’

By Leila Salaverria - Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – The Pasig City government lost its bid to claim P435 million in franchise tax from the Manila Electric Company because it did not have a valid ordinance to support its demand.

In its Aug. 28 decision, the Court of Appeals overturned the ruling of a lower court which declared as valid the city government’s demand for the payment of the franchise tax from 1996 to 1999, saying there was no legal basis for its collection since there was no ordinance mandating it.

The appellate court pointed out that the demand for payment was based on Section 32, Article 3 of Ordinance 25 which was issued in 1992 when Pasig was still a municipality. Under the ordinance, all business ventures carried out through a franchise were required to pay franchise taxes to the local government.

But the ordinance was later nullified since municipalities are not empowered to impose and collect the tax. Cities, on the other hand, are allowed to collect franchise taxes under the local government code.

According to the court, Pasig’s subsequent conversion into a city did not mean that it could automatically collect the tax since it did not enact an ordinance authorizing it to do so.

“Here, it is not disputed that since Pasig was converted into a city, it has not enacted a new ordinance for the imposition of a franchise tax … Since the Municipality of Pasig had no authority to enact the said ordinance, it could not be a valid basis for the City of Pasig to assess and collect the franchise tax in question,” the court said.

It pointed out that Republic Act 7829, which turned Pasig into a city, did not contain a provision that would validate Ordinance 25.

“Simply put, there is nothing in section 45 of RA 7829 that validates the ordinance in question; thus section 32, article 3 of said ordinance remains illegal, without force and effect. Therefore, until an appropriate ordinance is enacted by the legislative body of the City of Pasig, it is without legal ground to demand from the appellant the payment of a franchise tax,” the court said.

TESDA sees problems in basic education

By Alexander Villafania -

MANILA, Philippines -- “The Department of Education (DepEd) should fix its own house first.”

This was the advice of Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA) Director General Augusto Syjuco to the DepEd over the low skill capabilities of elementary and high school graduates.

Syjuco said many students do not have the basic capabilities to even make it to some technical and vocational courses, even those requiring low-level skills.

Some of the courses developed by TESDA had to be tweaked to provide the most basic knowledge and accommodate students.

In fact, Syjuco said the problem could worsen in coming years.

“Let them [DepEd] fix up basic education so that the graduates learn the most necessary skills to pursue specific fields of industry,” Syjuco said.

Syjuco was also critical of the DepEd’s newly implemented National Career Assessment Exam (NCAE), saying the department should not measure students’ technical and vocational capabilities but rather provide the basic education that will be the foundation of higher levels of skills development.

Introduced in 2006 to replace the National College Entrance Examination, the NCAE assesses senior high school students’ technical and vocational aptitude and entrepreneurial skills, therefore providing an overview as to what particular direction a student could take after high school.

The NCAE has been repeatedly criticized by educational organizations but Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has strongly supported, saying it would address the employment mismatch and ensure students know what course to take in college based on their aptitude.

However, Syjuco claims that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and TESDA are the agencies responsible for ensuring industry-specific skills development for students.

“The three education agencies are mandated with specific jobs and the responsibility of CHED and TESDA is to land jobs for graduates.”

Syjuco claims TESDA has been spending millions to improve their technical and vocational infrastructure due to the growing number of young adults who want to immediately pursue jobs and not go through the traditional two-year or four-year college course.

TESDA and CHED have recently renewed their commitment to improve their ladderized program to allow students from technical-vocational schools to continue into tertiary education, and vice versa.

Syjuco said they expect at least an additional $500 million budget for 2008, on top of their existing $500 million for this year. Most of the expected $1-billion budget for 2008 would go to scholarships and improving remaining technical and vocational courses.

Monday, September 03, 2007

sctex interchange

The Advocacy for Central Luzon has gained headway in its most notable campaigns.

After successfully stirring multi-sectoral attention on the foul odors emanating from pig farms in Sta. Cruz, Porac, it is accomplishing a larger-than-life feat in pushing for the most viable location of the Angeles Interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

With combined wits, primarily made up of the dashing and debonair birthday boy Rene Romero (a.k.a poster boy) and gentleman par excellence Renato “Abong” Tayag, ADCL has the best proposal as to where the interchange should really be constructed. It’s between Manuali, Porac and Cuayan, Angeles City.

This will not only save the government millions of pesos from building new access roads and resolving right-of-way problems that might just arise in other suggested areas, but the proposed location will benefit hundreds of SMEs that are in the vicinity of Angeles City, Porac, Bacolor and San Fernando. It is also the most accessible route by motorists that are coming from these areas. Both the DPWH and the BCDA are taking a serious look at this proposal. From all looks and angles, this has got to be the most practical, feasible and viable location for the interchange so far.

There might be other proposals by SCAD Chair and Sec, Edgardo Pamintuan and Cong. Carmelo Lazatin who are also o their toes to have the interchange built, but still, the media circles have to be briefed on their feasibilities.

As it is right now, the ADCL is actively responding to achieve President Arroyo’s wish to have that interchange. And it has gone farther than merely pinpointing that location, ADCL has also come up with appropriate studies and staff work.

* * * * *

The decision for the location of the interchange is not a contentious issue. It’s a non-issue at all.

The Angeles City Council, which first called on the BCDA to build an interchange in the city in June 2006 through a resolution authored by Councilor Jay Sangil, might just have to accept that ADCL’s proposal is full of merits.

Sangil, who recently made a privilege speech to thank PGMA for her directive, has also sponsored a resolution to express the appreciation of the Angelenos to the Chief Executive. The good councilor, also chairman of City Council’s infrastructure committee, may also reconsider earlier proposal to have the interchange somewhere else.

* * * * *

During ADCL’s birthday bash for Robin, (er, Rene) the boy wonder, Abong Tayag opened his home to select friends and cause-sharing people. It was a simple celebration but was not, nevertheless, devoid of the best chit-chats and coffee table talks by some esteemed members of society that make things happen here in Metro Clark.

Of course, a celebration tendered by the former CDC director and mayoral candidate would not be complete without his own brand Mother Earth meat products. I have never tasted make-your-own burgers and spare ribs to be that good. My pockets could sometimes spare extra bucks for quality meat, but Mother Earth products definitely have the edge over those I have tried with its juicy, tender, prime and export quality properties.

A revelation to some that I got to try (and savor with gusto) for the first time, probably.

But to me it was worth the discovery.
Tulabut - SunStar

The business of Mt. Pinatubo’s sand

By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—In the daily routine of making figurines, Ernesto Gamboa does not lose sense of an irony.

Sand, which this 58-year-old craftsman blends with resin, more often than not, evokes memories of a disaster and the opportunities it opens to him.

“The blessings have been many. I have so much to thank for. What saddens me is that I still haven’t been able to go back to my place,” Gamboa says.

Hometown to him is still Bacolor, Pampanga, even if he has been away from it for 16 years.

The eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991 forced Gamboa and other residents to leave. But returning was not possible.

The town dealt with another enemy, which was no less treacherous like the explosions. Lahar was the name they learned to call it and the only signal for its coming was strong rains.

In October 1995, intense rains washed down the lahar or volcanic debris from the slopes, burying the town further.

Geologists estimated that the volcano spewed out six cubic kilometers or about 600 million truckloads of pyroclastic materials, which is a mix of sulfur and other gasses, ash, mud, pumice stones and largely, sand.

That’s how abundant sand is in Pampanga, Zambales and Tarlac. The misfortune, or fortune, of Pampanga is that it tends to get more of that mineral.

Of the eight river systems where lahar flows during the rainy season, the most active so far is the Pasig-Potrero River. It cuts through Porac, Floridablanca, Bacolor, Sta. Rita and Lubao before it finally empties into the Manila Bay.

“Nang karakal ing balas (There’s so much sand),” Gamboa says.

This former jeepney driver found good use for it, as other enterprising Kapampangan did.

Sand is what he uses to make figurines, trophies, plaques, knick-knacks and other items clients want him to fashion out of it.


Disenyong Pinatubo Crafts, the business that Gamboa and his wife Luzviminda started in October 1991 while still at the Maimpis evacuation center, has done well.

Through it, they have sent all their seven children to college and provided capital for their children’s bakery, canteen and mini-grocery businesses.

It has employed a steady team of 15 workers, helping out their families as well. The business helps at least eight former prisoners build their lives anew by tapping them as salesmen.

Gamboa takes pride in the fact that retail giant Shoemart has been carrying their products for three years now. Less than a dozen exporters still trust their products.

These are what the couple has turned out of the P20,000 capital from the Department of Trade and Industry, P30,000 worth of equipment from the Social Action Center of Pampanga, and training from the Department of Science and Technology.


The village of Dolores in Mabalacat town, where Victor Jacob lived, was buried by Mt. Pinatubo’s sand.

Jacob, 50, also lost his job as utility man when the United States military decided to close the Clark Air Base in the same year that the Pinatubo disaster raged hard.

He began anew by going full-time in his hobby of bonsai making. He put in a local touch by carving “volcanic pots” from out of pumice stones.

Those are whitish, lightweight rocks. If pulverized, they produce fine and white sand. Jacob uses it as a layer to the mountain soil on which he grows his bonsai.

These have become his come-on to buyers who drop by his garden along the Dolores section of the MacArthur Highway.

About 20 bonsai gardens line that sand-filled stretch.

Jacob’s neighbor, Erwin Gueco, sculpts elephants, carabaos or lamps out of pumice stones.

Gueco, 27, calls his works “garden pieces.”


Zenaida Santiago, 48, likes it when it rains. The sand along the Bamban-Sacobia River is replenished, giving more reasons for haulers to come and buy.

Like some 30 other women in the village, Santiago gets more pumice stones that are sifted from the sand. When there’s not much, she goes to the river to search for stones.

She and her two helpers cut these into smaller squares. Makers of denim pants come to buy these to give the fabric a stonewash effect. A sack fetches P15 to P25. Her team produces 200 sacks of pumice stones a week.

The biggest business that has come out of the sand boom after Pinatubo’s 1991 eruptions is the quarry industry.

In Pampanga, which is some 60 km north of Metro Manila, many people make a living out of it.

Quarry operators (companies or individuals that hold permit over five to as much as 50 hectares of sand-rich public or private areas) sell the mineral by the truckloads or cubic meters straight to construction projects or to suppliers.

Sand is used for making hollow blocks, as filling materials or for cement mixes.

Private landowners, on the other hand, get royalties.

Drivers of heavy equipment, such as backhoes and loaders, also get to earn their keep. Truck owners rent out their vehicles for delivery or operate their own hauling business, employing a set of driver and helper for every truck.

Gasoline stations have their hands full supplying fuel to these trucks. Dozens of roadside canteens cater to drivers. Then, there are “hustlers” or men who guide the buyers to the source of good sand.

Industry leaders said about 30,000 people directly benefit from sand quarrying.

Local governments earn, too, from sand taxes.

The Pampanga provincial government has collected P36.6 million in sand taxes from July 2 to Aug. 21, capitol records showed.

Aside from collecting ecological taxes (ranging from P50 to P90 per truckload), towns and barangays get P45 and P60 from out of the P300-tax that the provincial government collects for every truckload.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

1,829 East Visayans benefit from PGMA training-for-work scholarship program

Tacloban City - The PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program is now in full swing in Region 8 through the TESDA Region 8 headed by Regional Director Juan M. Sabulao Jr.

As of August 17, 2007, the PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program has already benefited 1,829 young people from Eastern Visayas, Director Juan M. Sabulao Jr. informed during the recently conducted Panindugan television program of the Philippine Information Agency.

The caregiving course accounts for 241 scholars, e-tesda accounts for 36 while the finishing course for call center agents program accounts for 481 scholars.

The other programs or courses under the PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program are the gas metal arc welding which has 124 scholars, the household service worker which has so far 154 scholars and the software developer program which is offered in only one TVET institution in Region 8, has 25 scholars.

The Medical Transcriptionist program which is a new program according to Director Sabulao, has 8 scholars while slaughtering operation which is being offered only in Pampanga, has 48 scholars.

The National TVET Trainers/Assessors Qualification Program has 228 scholars while the shielded metal arc welders program has 484 scholars.

Courses under the PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program which are not yet being offered in Eastern Visayas because there are no TVET Institutions offering them are the biomedical equipment program and the Pinoy Hilot/Spa therapist/Massage Therapist program.

Director Sabulao informed that only about two weeks ago, welders from the training schools in Eastern Visayas went to Subic to apply for job at the Hanjin shipping company. All of them were accepted and are now undergoing training, Director Sabulao said.

Director Sabulao noted that there are welding graduates who refuse or are unable to go to Subic in order to apply because of financial reasons or because they do not like to be separated from their families.

He said that TESDA has requested Hanjin to send a representative to the Region to interview the applicants but Hanjin needs at least 500 applicants to interview before they would agree to come.

The PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program was launched by President Arroyo in May of 2006 as a tribute to the Filipino worker who needs more training in order to be employed. This program which is being implemented nationwide through the TESDA has already made possible employment for many Filipino workers. (PIA 8)