Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lack of skilled workforce

Top problem for second year

Lack of skilled workforce
slows business expansion

By Katrina Mennen A. Valdez, Reporter

BUSINESSMEN consider the lack of a skilled workforce as the biggest constraint to expansion, according to the annual International Business Report issued by Grant Thornton International Ltd.

For two consecutive years, the unavailability of a skilled workforce emerged as the most important constraint to business expansion among Filipinos. Similarly, skills lack emerged as the number one problem of privately held business around the world, displacing inhospitable regulations and red tape.

The report, which was released by Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A), is an annual survey of the attitudes and expectations of medium-sized businesses. This year, the report surveyed 7,800 respondents from 34 participating countries.

Of the Filipino business leaders polled, 58 percent said the growth of their enterprise is worst affected by the unavailability of a skilled workforce, up from last year’s 43 percent. Globally, the proportion of respondents who cited this constraint increased from 34 percent last year to 37 percent this year.

In terms of lack of a skilled workforce, the Philippines shared the third spot with Australia, while Thailand and New Zealand were the top two countries wherein this was also a problem.

“[We] are in a dire situation since [we] now belong to the top three countries whose business growth is limited mostly by this human resource problem,” Greg Navarro, P&A managing partner said.

Late last year, networking company Cisco reported that the Philippines was short of 1,300 information technology professionals, with this shortage expected to rise to 2,400 by next year.

A large Korean investor and many Middle East contractors also expressed concern about the lack of qualified welders and other skilled technicians, the report said.

“The business community has been experiencing the gradual and continuous deterioration of the quality of graduates in the past decade or so, and has organized itself to help the education sector improve the standard in the country,” Navarro said.

Besides the unavailability of a skilled workforce, the report also showed a notable increase in the percentage of Filipino respondents concerned about the reduced demand for their products or services. From 17 percent of respondents last year, this figure jumped to 46 percent this year.

This was followed by red tape, which had been on a downward track for the past four years. Last year, 26 percent of Filipino business leaders said it was a major roadblock to growth, down from 34 percent in 2006. This year, 49 percent consider it a major constraint.

“Besides being a major constraint to business, red tape also influences the flow of foreign investments into the country. So [we] have to take a serious look at how [we] can reduce bureaucracy and cut the costs of doing business in the Philippines if we want to catch up with [our] Asian neighbors,” Navarro said. Manila Times

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Erring SBMA subcontractors face closure

THE Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) yesterday warned subcontractors working at various jobsites in the shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. (HHIC-Phil) to adhere strictly to occupational safety requirements or face immediate closure.

The agency issued this stern warning as it probed two recent accidents where three workers hired by two Hanjin subcontractors died at the job site.

The first case involved two sling men who were pinned to death by a toppling 15-ton steel beam on March 10. The other incident involved a worker who fell off the roof the day after.

“We will be going after these companies who show utter disregard for safety,” SBMA officials said yesterday.

According to HHIC-Phil, the first accident occurred when two “sling men” were removing shackles atop a 15-ton beam. When an assisting worker signaled the crane operator to retract the cable, one of the shackles might have caught in one of the brackets beside the lifting lug.

This caused the overhead crane body to topple, the accident report indicated.

The two fatalities and the signalman were employed by subcontractor Globe Distribution Services, while the crane operator worked for Subic Shipbuilder Inc., another subcontractor.

The second case involved a worker who fell off a nine-meter roof after failing to notice that he was at the roof edge.

The worker, employed by subcontractor Bodahhm Inc., was reportedly working backward to mark places where screws had to be bolted on by another worker.

The third fatality was wearing a safety harness, but this was not properly secured, initial investigation showed.

SMBA officials said the ongoing investigation tend to show that some subcontractors and their workers “failed to observe even common-sense safety measures.”

“Every industrial jobsite is a potential safety hazard, that’s why there are clear-cut rules on safety that we require companies to implement strictly,” they said.

They added that HHIC-Phil president Jeong Sup Shim had assured him of Hanjin’s support to the investigation, with the end in view of identifying erring subcontractors and taking appropriate actions against them.
J. V. Antiporda - Journal online

Bill allots 10% IRA share for health care

A LAWMAKER from Mindanao has filed a measure mandating local government units to earmark 10 percent of their annual Internal Revenue Allotment for health programs and services.

Sultan Kudarat Rep. Arnulfo Go filed HB 3614 which seeks to improve the health programs and services provided by every local government units.

The bill provides integrated and comprehensive approach to health and other social services to make essential goods, health and other social services available at affordable prices.

The solon is pushing passage of the bill in view of the need for LGUs to prioritize health services especially for the poor, the sick, the elderly and disabled women and children.

“I believe that the health of the people should come first in the order of battle against poverty, malnutrition and hunger,” Go said.

The bill intends to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of health programs and services by the LGUs to aid in the development of a healthy and productive citizenry. Jester P. Manalastas - Journal online

Anti-corruption drive assured of P1-B fund

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has assured of allocating more funds of close to P1 billion to attain a graft-free regime in the Philippines.

In a letter to Ambassador John Danilovich, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), the President said that her administration will earmark additional funding to step up her anti-corruption campaign.

These include about P959 million funding from the P1.227 trillion national budget for 2008 for the Office of the Ombudsman which is twice the level in 2002.

The President further explained that revenue agencies of the government will set up computerized systems to better monitor economic activity and collect the right taxes and duties.

The President also bared that the Procurement Transparency Group which budget chief Rolando Andaya heads is working double time to ensure that all government transactions will be graft free.

“To further enhance integrity of public contract bidding, the Procurement Transparency Group is in full operation, harnessing both national agencies and civil society groups to monitor the procurement process.

I have already ordered all state agencies and corporations to submit spending plans and bidding information requested by the PTG,” Mrs. Arroyo said. Efren Montano

TMG member linked to ’Gapo massacre?

TASK Force Scarlet is investigating the involvement of an official of the Traffic Management Group based in Camp Crame in the massacre of FHM magazine cover girl Scarlet May Garcia and three others in Olongapo City last Thursday.

Philippine National Police Spokesman Senior Supt. Nicanor Bartolome said the task force will look into several motives in the killing, including business rivalry, love triangle, robbery and revenge. One of the victims allegedly received several death threats from a mysterious influential woman.

“Everybody’s a suspect, we are investigating all angles to solve the gruesome killing,” Bartolome said.

He said Task Force Scarlet is headed by Olongapo City Police chief Supt. Abelardo Villacorta.

Probers recovered inside the Toyota Vios of one of the victims an ATM card, police jacket, badge and insignia of SPO1 Leopoldo Vitug, Jr., of the TMG Camp Crame.

“The investigation is still ongoing. Since some of his items were recovered inside the vehicle, he will be investigated to shed light on the incident,” he said.

Bartolome made it clear that Vitug is not directly implicated in the massacre. Vitug is reportedly a cousin of one of the victims, George Vitug Castro, 28.

Scarlet, 21, her boyfriend George and their friends Rachel Estacio, 20, and her boyfriend Van Mark Bandejas alias Wacky, 22, were found brutally murdered inside the condo of George at 53-B Acacia St., Barangay Gordon Heights, Olongapo City. Journal online

Cops eye 'scorned' love behind Olongapo killings
Cops find indications of sexual molestation on mod...

FHM model, three others killed in Olongapo City

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Crane operations at Hanjin jSubic suspended after accident

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said crane operations at the Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp (HHIC) shipyard in Subic had been suspended after a crane fell on two of its employees Tuesday night, killing them instantly.

Ermita said a report submitted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to MalacaƱang said investigations are now on going and crane operations had been suspended while the probe is on going.

He stressed that the incident does not warrant a termination of Hanjin’s contract as the accident involved their local supplier, the Globe Distribution Philippines, and not South Korean company directly.

He said that based on the report they received, two workers were removing the shackles of a 20-ton beam that they were moving when the crane fell from its trestle and pinned them down.

It was followed by another accident Wednesday morning when another employee fell from the roof that he was fixing.

Reports said relatives of the three employees are now seeking assistance from HHIC.

Last January, two more Filipino employees were also killed after the shipyard caught fire, which government inspectors said maybe caused by some safety violations. - GMANews.TV




SEN. GORDON: There are lessons to be learned. Dapat bago tayo
tumanggap ng testigo, katulad ng pino-propose ko, ay dapat magkaroon
sila ng sworn statement o kaya ma-depose yung witnesses. At ang
matagal ko nang sinasabi ay kailangang maibigay sa aming mga Senador
yung mga affidavit ng mga testigong iyan para sa ganoon within one
week mababasa namin at mapag-aralan para kapag humarap sila sa amin ay
maganda ang tanungan at hindi yung paulit-ulit. Malalim ang tanungan
at hindi yung lumalayag.

Kahit sino ang dalhin dyan ay wala kaming alam. Kung ano ang
background, nagsu-surprise witness kami. Yung surprise witness dapat
under extreme circumstances lang iyan. Sapagkat hindi dapat basta
pinapapasok dahil ang nangyayari ay nawi-waste ang time ng senado.

Yung mga affivadit –that is in the interest of fair play. It protects
the witness, it protects the prosecution para sa ganoon ay malinaw
kung ano ang sasabihin at makikita ang theory ng mga lumalabas na
nag-aatake, lumalabas na nagbubunyag at yung mga dumi-depensa ay
makikita. Hindi lamang po iyan para sa mga testigo laban sa gobyerno
kundi para din doon sa mga humaharap, katulad ng mga cabinet members,
pwede silang gumawa ng mga statement nila para malaman ang buong
istorya. Hindi nagbabago ang istorya o humahaba ang istorya as we go
along. Ito ay para sa mabilis, malinaw, masinop at logical na

Q: Ginapang daw po ng Malacanang si San Miguel para magdalawang-isip?

SEN.GORDON: Hindi naman ako taga-Malacanang kaya tanungin nyo na
lang ang mga taga-Malacanang. That was the first time I saw Mr. San
Miguel. In fact, if we have been given yung kanyang affivadit dapat
seguro natanong siya ng mas maayos. Mas madali kase kung may affidavit

Q: Ang haba-habang na nang imbestigasyon ito?

Sen GORDON: Kaya humaba dahil nga wala yung rules na dapat
naka-affivadit bago dumating yung witness. Tingnnan ninyo sa America,
bago mag-imbestiga, kukunin muna ang deposition ng lahat ng testigo at
kapag nakuha na yung affivadit ng testigo, nabibigyan ng one hour
yung administration at one hour yung minority para sa pagtatanong. At
dahil hawak na nila ito one week before, napag-aaralan lahat yung
kanilang statement. Samakatuwid, hindi naglulubid ng buhangin,
nagsisinungaling o gumagawa ng istorya.

Q: Sir, sa tingin nyo ba nagsasabi ng totoo si San Miguel?

Sen. Gordon: I can not kase unang-una nang dini-deny niya. Ang sabi
nga ni Sen. Lacson, siya ang magiging surprise witness at mako-
corroborate niya lahat yung mga testigo pero bigla niyang sinabing
HINDI. So ano ang panghahaweakan namin? Pero kung meron siyang sworn
statement na kinuha na kaagad sana ni Sen. Lacson eh di may hawak na
siya kaagad. Hindi na siya( San Miguel) makakatakbo doon. Hindi na
siya makapagsisinungalin. At kung may sworn statement doon – "affiant
sayeth naught" wala na akong idadagdag sa statement ko, nasabi ko
nalahat. Hindi na pwedeng magdagdag ng anumang kalokohan yung mga
testigo. Kaya napakaahalaga ng sworn statement. Yan ang pino-propose
ko palagi.

Q: Pero agree ba kayo sa mga obserbasyon kahit nagulat yung mga
senador napatunayan parin that Abalos was all over the place?

Sen. Gordon: That is correct. August pa lang gusto ko nang i-file yung
kaso kay Abalos. Noong inimbestiga natin ito last year, sinabi ko na
sa kanya na nandito ka palagi. Hindi mo(Abalos) trabaho iyan. Kaya nga
sinabi ko na barko ng mga hudas ito. Bakit kamo, hindi dapat makialam
si Abalos na pupunta siya sa China tuwing may meeting ang ZTE doon.
Hindi niya teritoryo yung broadband, ang teritoryo niya ay Comelec. At
ang election na matino ay hindi niya inaaatupag. At pagkatapos ito
namang si Joey De Venecia, hindi siya dapat nakikialam dyan. Anak siya
ng speaker. Biruin mo kapipirma pa lang memorandum of understanding
meron na agad siyang unsolicited bid. Ni walang amount, walang terms
of reference kung magkano ang amount na ibibigay kaya ang hirap
tanungin. Ano ba talaga,130 M ba o 320M ba? Hindi malaman. Yun nga ang
tinatanong ko kahapon kina Sales – "Wala ba kayong papel na
nagpapakita na meron kayong agency estimate kung magkano iyan para
malaman kung nag-overprice o nag underprice o yung tinatawag nilang

Q: Sir, ano po ang epekto nito doon sa credibility ng senado
considering na parang sumabog yun witness kahapon?

Sen. Gordon: It only tells us that we must be careful. Kaya noong
isang araw nga ay nag-file ako ng resolution na kailangang i-depose
yung witness. Ibig sabihin noon, bago dumating ang isang testigo dapat
may written statement, under oath at ibibigay sa amin ang mga
statement na iyan one week before the investigation. Makikita ninyo
bibilis yan. In two or three days tapos kaagad ang imbestigasyon na

Q: Sir, pwede bang ma-contempt…?

Sen. Gordon: Sino?

Q: Yun witness kahapon?

Sen. Gordon: You can not cite him for contempt if he says "Hindi ko
alam kung ano ang nangyari." You cannot even cite him for contempt if
he says "I have no knowledge" unless you can prove that he was lying.
Pero kung kinuha ni Sen. Lacson yung kanyang(San Miguel) affivadit,
hindi siya makapagsisinungaling.


Q: Sir, yung lie detector..importante ba yun?

Sen. Gordon: Well hindi naman admissible as evidence iyan. Walang
probative value ito.

Q: So, may need for that?

Sen. Gordon: No. I don't think so. Makikita naman kase hindi naman
admissible as evidence iyan saka kung ayaw ng testigo hindi mo

Q: Sir, pumayag sila.

Sen. Gordon: Kung papayag sila, di pakuha sila ng lie detector test
pero it can not be used on a court of law.

Q: What is it, waste of time?

Sen. Gordon: No it's not a waste of time. It is an indication kung
gusto nila at kung pumasa sila eh di hindi sila nagsisinungaling. It
is only an indication but can not be used sa prosecution sa Ombudsman.

Q: Sir, ano ang reaksyon ninyo sa sinabi ng Palasyo na bumaba ang
rating ng tele-novela ng senado dahil sumablay ito sa testigo?

Sen. Gordon: Mangyayari't mangyayari iyan. Kaya nga to protect the
Senate and to protect the truth and justice kailangan may prepared
statement ang witnesses. Without that, truth and justice is in peril.


Q: Sir, pabor ba kayo sa paglalabas ng mga phone conversation na wire

Sen. Gordon: No. That is against the law. Any wiretap should not be
encouraged. Wire tapping is against the law. Can you imagine kung
wina-wire tap tayo, lahat dito ay pwedeng ilabas? Kaya nga iyan ang
wisdom ng batas na yan. Hindi pwedeng ilabas yung wiretap. Kaya itong
mga ito, pwede silang parusahan d'yan.

Q: Yun playing?

Sen. Gordon: Kapag ginawa iyan lalabas ako.

Q: Pero si Sen Enrile plan to…?

Sen. Gordon: Si Sen. Enrile and Sen. Lacson, ilalabas nila?
Napaka-delikado niyan. Under the law they can be hauled to court.

Q: Sir, yun nag-wire tap ba ang…?

Sen. Gordon: The wire tapping at saka yung nagpi-present ng tape na
wiretap illegally obtained.

Q: Si Lozada sir, medyo kinumpirma niya na maaring may ganoon nga
siyang conversation, pwede ba yun?

Sen. Gordon: Maaaring may ganoon pero walang permiso siya na
i-wiretap. Hindi pwedeng gamitin sa kanya iyan.

Q: Sir, paki-ulit lang yung inyong rejection of airing ng mga wire tap

Sen. Gordon: Masamang precedent iyan kapag papayagan natin ang mga
awtoridad o sinumang tao na iwa-wire tap kahit senador pa, kahit na
siya ay presidente o general. Hindi siya dapat mag-wire tap nang
walang pahintulot ang korte. Kapag pinayagan natin iyan na pwedeng
gumawa ng wire-tapping sa bawat tao, para na tayong nasa panahon ni
Hitler na hihilahin ka na lang.

Q: Pero sir, kung titingnan yung korte suprema diba nagpalabas sila
ng desisyon, ina-allow na nila yung airing ng garci tape?

Sen. Gordon: Dahil nagging public knowledge na talaga iyan.

Q: So dapat I-air muna para maging public knowledge?

Sen. Gordon: Hindi naman. Hindi ko masyadong nakita yung desisyon ng
Korte Suprema pero sa tingin ko masyado nang naging public ang
nangyari. Pero remember, dumaan muna sa Korte Suprema para payagang
i-air. Hindi pwedeng payagan mo basta-basta nang walang pahintulot ng

Q: Pero sir, hindi ho ba lumalabas na very prevalent na kahit sino na

Sen. Gordon: Kaya nga dapat parusahan. Kaya nga sinasabi ko, Sen.
Enrile and Sen. Lacson would be liable for suits if they present
illegally wire tapped conversations. Saka it is very bad for our
country to have that. Kakabahan na ang lahat na gumamit ng telepono.
Tingnan ninyo yung nangyari sa Governor of New York (Eliot Spitzer),
may wiretap iyan pero may court order kay napilitan siyang mag-resign.

Q: Who's going to file suit against these two?

Sen. Gordon: Any of the people involved. And that is a crime so people
of the Philippines iyan.

Q: Sir, will you file?

Sen. Gordon: Well, we will see how it goes. I think we should file a
case against anybody who presents illegally wiretapped testimonies.
Iyan ang batas. I will object to it. I already objected before, di ba
sa Garci. Hindi tama yan kahit ano pa ang pagkakamali, kaya may batas
iyun ang nagpo-proteksyon sa tao.

Q: Sir, kung wala ka namang tinatago bakit ka matatakot na i-air nila

Sen. Gordon: Because it sets a precedent. Kung pumapayag ka, walang
problema iyun. Payag lahat sila, payag si Lozada, payag si President
Arroyo, payag silang ilabas nila iyan - Fine. But still hindi
pinapayagan na iyan nag-wiretap ay libre na i-air o gumawa siya ng
wire tapping. It is still illegal.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Korean mafia thriving in RP

By: Renato Gomba Quilicol - Journal Online

THE Philippines has now become a “haven” of the leaders and members of the “Kuan Jupang,” also known as the Korean mafia.

This was revealed by legitimate Korean businessmen in Metro Manila who has become victims to the dreaded group, which seems untouchable to local police authorities.

The victims requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, adding that the number of “Kuan Jupang” members in the Philippines has grown bigger and could have already outnumbered their foreign counterparts, including the triad and bamboo gangs of China and the Yakuza of Japan.

The businessmen talked about their horrifying ordeal from the day they first encountered the members of the group.

They recounted how they were harassed and intimidated by the group, who demanded monthly “protection money” amounting to millions of pesos.

They were also threatened with physical harm or death should they fail to comply with the criminals’ demands.

A Seoul businesswoman admitted giving the syndicate P2 million in exchange for the safety of her family, knowing the fact that the Korean mafia uses local assassins in dealing with those who say “no.”

“That is why many of us were forced to hire local bodyguards because we knew they could kill us anytime they want in case we did not give them money,” another businessman said.

It was learned most members of this Korean crime ring are either undesirable aliens or wanted criminals in their country.

How they were able to enter the country using spurious travel documents remains a big question mark.

“It is interesting to know why these criminals managed to slip into despite being included in the Bureau of Immigration’s blacklist,” the Korean businessmen said.

Apparently the Korean mafia has already established vast connections among key government agencies such as the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Immigration and the Philippine National Police, being unhampered in extortion and money-laundering activities, they claimed.

They also believed the mafia is responsible for kidnappings and murders of Koreans in the Philippines, many of which were not reported to police authorities.

A particular incident took place in Porac, Pampanga, in December last year, where a Korean couple operating a language school was shot dead by masked men in front of their terrified children.