The Daily Roundup: 23 February 2011

EDSA1 icons urge Filipinos to carry torch of freedom

Key players of the EDSA Revolution in 1986 have urged the Filipino people not to waste the legacy of People Power and to carry on the nation’s dreams for genuine democracy and freedom.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was Armed Forces vice-chief during EDSA 1, said the uprising is one of the several people’s struggles for independence, freedom, and a respectable place in the community of nations.

Ramos said EDSA 1 should be revered like the 1896 revolution against the Spaniards and the revolution against American colonialism.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Marcos son: We did not leave, we were taken away” by TJ Burgonio

While some were caught up in rites marking the anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Tuesday showed up for work by attending a hearing.

In his calendar, Feb. 22—the start of the four-day people’s revolt that ended the strongman’s 20-year-long reign and forced him into exile in Hawaii—is just a regular day in the Senate.

But that is not to say that the event holds no meaning for the younger Marcos.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Government-NDF peace deal seen in 2012

by AP, Delon Porcalla, Jose Rodel Clapano, Ding Cervantes, Alexis Romero

Government negotiators and communist rebels agreed Monday on a road map for continued peace talks aimed at resolving Asia’s longest-running insurgency by June 2012.

Ending the first round of long-stalled peace negotiations in Norway, the two sides agreed to meet again in April and every two months after that.

“Tonight finds us on the zigzag path to peace,” government chief negotiator Alex Padilla said. “But we have taken the first step.”

He said the government expects the comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms to be signed by September 2011, on political and constitutional reforms by February 2012, and on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces between June and August 2012.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Cheerleading?” by Benjamin E. Diokno

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco was quoted as saying that the Philippine economy could expand by 7% to 8% this year, or faster than the 35-year record growth of 7.3% in 2010. Going against the consensus forecast of 5% GDP growth this year, I do not understand the source of Tetangco’s optimism. How much of it is pure cheerleading and how much of it is based on solid, empirical facts?

The optimistic forecast goes against even the administration’s own GDP growth forecast of 5% for revenue forecasting purposes, as indicated in the 2011 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing.

Read more at Business World

Oil contingency plan readied” by Emilia Narni J. David

CONTINGENCY PLANS are being reviewed by the Energy department as world oil prices surge due to continued civil unrest in the Arab world.

The announcement came as violence in Libya — the third biggest oil producer in North Africa — escalated, disrupting some supply and prompting concerns at an energy conference in Saudi Arabia, the leading exporter.

Oil markets this week topped $108, their highest in around two and a half years, over fears that the wave of popular revolts in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region — which holds some 60% of the world’s oil — would spread.

Prices, however, remain well below the all-time high of $147 per barrel hit in July 2008 and yesterday officials of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member states said supply remained plentiful.

Read more at Business World

Rate-hike option hard to resist” by Jun Vallecera

THE trend of rising inflation not just in the Philippines but across the region should soon push the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to raise interest rates by a total 125 basis points this year, the British-owned lender Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) said on Tuesday.

SCB head of research Nicholas Kwan believes the changes would be phased adjustments likely to start next month as he sees inflation in the Philippines ranging from 4.5 percent to 4.8 percent during the year, which means the rate at which the BSP borrows from banks should move from 4 percent at present to 5.25 percent by the end of the year.

Read more at Business Mirror

Romulo stepping down as DFA chief” by Estrella Torres

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo steps down from his post today amid months of speculations that he will be replaced soon following serious clashes on foreign-policy directions with career diplomats and accusations of frequent trips with family members.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Alberto del Rosario will be taking his place as chief diplomat, a development welcomed by insiders at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Romulo is expected to relinquish his post to del Rosario in simple rites today, but the DFA refused to disclose the venue.

Read more at Business Mirror

Palace to pursue its version of RH bill” by Cris G. Odronia

MALACAÑANG would continue crafting its own version of reproductive health (RH) bill despite the suspension of talks with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on reproductive health, an official said Tuesday.

During a briefing in Malacañang, spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Palace remains hopeful that the CBCP officials would return to the dialogue, but he said the government could not wait for the bishops.

“We are hopeful that they will comeback but we cannot wait for the bishops because it seemed like an indefinite suspension. Again, we are hopeful that they would reconsider,” he said.

Read more at Manila Times

Batanes kids get the most of teachers” by Ronnel Domingo

Public school students in Batanes enjoy the greatest attention from teachers and the least crowded classrooms in the country, data from the National Statistical Coordination Board show.

NSCB Secretary General Romulo A. Virola said in a report issued Tuesday that the teacher-pupil ratio in Batanes’ state-run elementary schools was 1:11 as of the school year 2009-2010. As for public high schools, a teacher in Batanes watches over an average of 12 students.

In terms of classroom-pupil ratios, Batanes elementary schools had 13 pupils to a classroom while high schools had 18 students to a classroom.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Con Yap