The Daily Roundup

5 Things you should know this Sunday

What are the things you missed today?

1. The local media is going nutty covering Michael Ray Aquino. He arrives from the United States and escorted by the National Bureau of Investigation agents. He faces charges in connection with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

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2. Business World says that the Philippines is close to getting a ratings upgrade from Fitch. Why is it important? An international agency would acknowledge fiscal gains by the government.

It is like getting a gold star in school.

3. Government says that it will include competitiveness indicators as part of the development plan.

Why should you care?

Guillermo M. Luz, co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), said: “The competitiveness indicators are important, because it’s possible for the country to meet its [PDP] target — for example, in terms of the length and number of roads built — but the global ranking for that indicator doesn’t change.”

4. Apple really pissed off a lot of people recently when it launched a new version of its Final Cut Pro X video editing software. The software is suppose to make it easier for prosumers to video edit. Apparently the software is so bad that pro editors who use Final Cut as their bread and butter are pissed.

Team Coco weighed in the debate. Conan’s Editors absolutely love Apple’s New Final Cut Pro X. Here’s that video:

Why does it matter to you? Jalkut sums it up: “Apple will happily piss off 5,000 professionals to please 5,000,000 amateurs.” Great time to be an amateur.

5. So many rows! Like this small tiff between the Palace and GMA’s allies on the flood control program and the row with China on Spratlys, well we published yesterday a piece on Filipino buffet in Beijing that offers a rare taste of Filipino cuisine.

Why should you care?

Good food smoothens the conversation, a lot.

Oh, one more thing, the Gay and Lesbian communities are thrilled with the passage of New York State’s same sex marriage into law. The Empire State Building, in New York City was lit in rainbow colors to mark the occasion.

The Daily Roundup: 14 April 2011

‘China overrated; PH underrated’

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) sees room for attracting more foreign direct investments (FDIs) by addressing corruption and poor perception of the country.

“Biggest joke of century”

Senior Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Supreme Court believes that businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. and the late President Ferdinand Marcos had ties so close that to claim otherwise would be a joke.

Aquino mum on high court ruling on coco levy funds

Saying that he has yet to read the Supreme Court (SC) decision, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on Wednesday refused to comment on the SC ruling that businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s 20-percent stake in San Miguel Corp. (SMC) does not form part of the so-called coco levy funds.

T00 little too late?

THE first batch of cases related to the P728-million fertilizer fund scam has finally reached the Sandiganbayan.

Pay hike after Labor Day

Workers in Metro Manila may receive a much-awaited increase in their take-home pay, but this can happen only after Labor Day.

Government’s January ‘take’ on oil VAT: 500M

The high fuel prices and the threat of further rises have stirred several sectors into moving to help mitigate the negative impact of the high prices that has already resulted in increased fares, costlier vegetables, and roiled the ranks of organized workers.

Japan quake idles Ford, Toyota units in Philippines

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) sees a temporary setback for the industry in the Philippinees as car brands in Japan move to pick up the pieces as a result of the massive earthquake and tsunami in March.

Why Tingting resigned

Despite declarations that she quit and was not fired, former Tarlac Gov. Margarita ‘Tingting” Cojuangco’s resignation as president of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) has been persistently linked to her outspoken objection to President Aquino’s bid to postpone the scheduled August, 2011, elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Trading of SMC shares halted due to speculation

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) imposed a trading halt on its shares a week early on Wednesday ahead of an $850-million (P36.7-billion) share and convertible bond sale later this month and amid news that the Supreme Court reaffirmed SMC chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.’s ownership over a 20-percent stake in the conglomerate.

No rice crisis, no NICA report, says Palace

President Aquino belied yesterday reports of a looming rice crisis and insisted that concerned government agencies claimed that the unrest in North Africa, the Middle East and the disaster in Japan could only affect the prices of food.

Government on track with PPP program

The Aquino administration is on track with its much-touted public-private partnership program for infrastructure, according to the newly-created PPP center.

IMF sounds alarm on capital flows

THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) again warned emerging economies, including the Philippines, of the impact of hot money on asset prices, inflation and corporate debt levels.

Slow state of public spending

The Department of Budget and Management has already released P800 billion or almost 50% of the P1.645-billion national government budget during the first quarter of the year, according to Budget Secretary Butch Abad. The number is mind-boggling for anybody. But the ordinary man on the street is asking: if true, where has all that P800 billion gone?

Government to study impact of PLDT, Digitel merger

President Aquino yesterday expressed concern over the possible impact of the merger of Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (Digitel) on consumers.

WB approves $10-M loan for Laguna de Bay rehabilitation

The World Bank has approved a $10-million loan for the Philippines to help finance a project intended to improve the environmental quality of Laguna de Bay and its watershed.

Binay bides time on FM burial issue

VICE President Jejomar Binay said yesterday there is no hurry to come up with a recommendation on the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Example of how justice system works

I read in this newspaper two days ago a report entitled “Court clears wife of Vice-President Binay,” to the effect that the Sandiganbayan (SB) dismissed charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against former Makati Mayor Elenita S. Binay “arising out of expenditures in 2000 and 2001 in connection with Makati’s new (at the time) City Hall.

P2.4B worth of projects get BoI nod

The Board of Investments has granted various fiscal and non-fiscal perks to four projects—three in housing and one in dessicated coconut production—worth more than P2.4 billion.

The Daily Roundup: 10 March 2011

David new immigration chief

TWO days after he retired as Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Ricardo David was appointed immigration commissioner.


S&P sees slower GDP growth of 5.5% this year

New York-based credit rater Standard and Poor’s (S&P) sees the economic growth of the Philippines slowing down to 5.5 percent this year due to the absence of additional stimulus measures after the country posted its fastest expansion in 34 years last year.


SC admonishes UP law dean for ‘bad example’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cracked its whip on Marvic Leonen, the dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, for leading a group of faculty members in calling for the resignation of a magistrate embroiled in a plagiarism scandal.


Food crisis could trigger widespread unrest

A LEGISLATOR warned yesterday that the looming food crisis could push Filipinos into “extreme poverty and malnutrition” that can trigger widespread unrests, unless government acts fast to address the problem.


RH bill advocates in House not giving way to impeachment efforts

Advocates of the reproductive health (RH) bill will not allow their pet measure to be derailed by efforts to fast-track the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.


Palace: It’s about clearing land mines

With the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez almost inevitable, the Aquino administration on Wednesday said it was bent on resolving the “land mines” or corrupt acts it discovered when it came to power by filing cases with an ombudsman who would be able to do the job.


Aquino says he’s feeling media heat

Barely eight months into office President Aquino is already showing signs of wear and tear from criticisms and negative stories in the Philippine media.


PNoy blasts former economics professor Arroyo

President Benigno Aquino III lashed out at his former economics professor and Palace predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in a speech before the Filipino community in Singapore on Wednesday.


Samal Island bags EU climate-chage project funding

The resort island of Samal off the Davao Gulf clinched one of only three places in the world to be granted the €2.5-million (P150 million) funding for strategies that would make habitat-rich places resilient to climate change.











The Daily Roundup: 9 March 2011

100th Women’s Day: Women demand RH law

Women activists all over the country marked the 100th anniversary of Women’s Day yesterday with protest marches to push for the passage of a comprehensive reproductive health bill and urge the government to address the rising prices of basic commodities.


PNoy condones chunk of Pagbilao Power’s P6-B debt

President Benigno Aquino III has condoned part of the P6-billion debt owed by Pagbilao Power Station to Quezon province, Malacañang said Tuesday.


Thrift banks see small businesses driving growth

The country’s thrift banks, riding on the strong recovery last year, see another banner year with sustained consumer spending and the setting up of more micro, small and medium enterprises.


Palace sees attainment of 2011 deficit budget

MALACAÑANG expects the government to meet its P290-billion deficit target for 2011, as it does not see for now any fiscal impact of rising tensions in the Middle East and Libya, on the Philippines.


Government to allow firms to impose fees on PPP infra projects

The Aquino administration will allow the private sector to earn from their investments in infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme by letting them slap user and regulatory fees, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. said.


‘Not all projects can be funded through PPPs’

THE concept of undertaking public-private partnerships (PPP) has become a byword for the current administration to address the country’s infrastructure deficit, improve the economy and lick poverty, but not all projects can be done through PPPs.


IFC acquiring stake in RCBC

THE INTERNATIONAL Finance Corp. (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, is investing P2.1 billion in the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), the country’s fifth largest bank, which will entitle it to one board seat.


Finance considering oil subsidy, lower VAT

SUBSIDIES and a lower value-added tax (VAT) rate are among the options being eyed by the Finance department to cushion the impact of rising oil prices on the public.


The Mauritius miracle

Suppose someone were to describe a small country that provided free education through university for all of its citizens, transportation for school children, and free health care — including heart surgery — for all. You might suspect that such a country is either phenomenally rich or on the fast track to fiscal crisis.


President wants officials to tackle food supply risks

CONCERNED agencies will be convened by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III next week to address possible food price spikes that may arise from continued civilian unrest in the Arab world.


‘I’ve done nothing wrong, this is partisan politics’ -Merci Gutierrez

Despite a double whammy from the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on Tuesday insisted that she had done nothing wrong


Bongbong criticizes PNoy over order to impeach Merci

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday criticized President Benigno Aquino III for issuing marching orders to Liberal Party (LP) congressmen to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.


Merci a step away from trial

THE House committee on justice yesterday affirmed the existence of probable cause in two impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to move just one step closer to transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.



The Daily Roundup: 8 March 2011

Senators vow to fast-track ICC ratification

SENATORS are inclined to speed up the ratification of the 1998 Rome Statute that would pave the way for Philippine membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) that tries war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.


Heidi Mendoza admits she wants to head COA

Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza has admitted that she wants to be the next chair of the Commission on Audit.


PAL employees set to strike over lack of CBA

The Philippines Airlines Employees Association (Palea) on Monday filed another notice of strike over Philippine Airlines (PAL) management’s purported refusal to come to the bargaining table.


Challenges of island provinces

MY RECENT visit to Tawi-Tawi was so rich in valuable observations and insights that to do justice to them all was simply not possible with one column. After all, small as it is (whether in area or population), Tawi-Tawi is as much part of the Philippines as any of our 78 other provinces, even as Malaysian products could be seen all around.


Is labor export good dev’t policy?

MUCH HYPE has been made of the surge in remittances from overseas Filipinos—and quite understandably. It has kept the external current account in decent shape, eased the debt burden, boosted the peso, tamed inflation and contributed to a generally rosy picture of the economy. These positive outcomes encouraged the previous administration to push further its labor export policy, to the extent of declaring that the country should develop “super-maids” for employment in advanced countries.


WHO urges stronger gov’t action on women’s health

THE World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday called on developing countries in the Western Pacific region, including the Philippines, to flex more muscles in ensuring the protection of women against health risks.


Aquino: PHL secures supply guarantees from oil producers

PRESIDENT Aquino said on Monday that the Philippines has secured supply guarantees from “certain” oil-producing countries as part of its efforts to shore up its stocks should there be a disruption of shipments from the Middle East.


Highest alert level raised in Libya; evacuation intensified

THE GOVERNMENT has intensified evacuation efforts for Filipinos caught in the conflict areas of Libya, with nearly half of all Filipino workers not out of the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.


PPP deals come with risks

THE GOVERNMENT hopes to start bidding out public-private partnership (PPP) projects this month, officials yesterday said, starting with maintenance deals for two Metro Manila railways.


Economists see rate hike; monetary official disagrees

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) now appears more likely to raise its policy rates, economists said, given higher-than-expected inflation in February.


Philippines to maintain 30-day rice stockpile

The National Food Authority (NFA) plans to start this month its tender for the importation of 660,000 metric tons of rice, administrator Angelito Banayo said.


ASEAN tackles commodity prices

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is now in discussions on the possibility of coming up with region-wide schemes that will help address rising commodity prices, the latest of which in the Philippines is the looming rise in construction products suppliers have announced.


Food crisis looms – senators

SENATORS asked the Aquino administration on Monday to put in place contingency measures in anticipation of worst-case scenarios amid spiralling global food prices due to raging conflicts in oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


Food could eclipse oil as spending threat

Oil market investors are pricing in only a small risk that Middle East unrest spreads to top oil producer Saudi Arabia — an event that would instantly catapult oil to the top of the global economic risk list.


Deficit hits record P314.4 billion

THE BUDGET deficit hit a new high of P314.4 billion in 2010 but prudent spending and higher revenues kept the shortfall well under the year’s P325-billion cap, the government yesterday said.






The Daily Roundup: 7 March 2011

What ever happened to the ’99 health reform?” by Jovel Nabia

The uneven healthcare access among the country’s population prompted the government to initiate the Health Sector Reform Agenda (HSRA) in 1999.

The program sought to improve the financing and provision of healthcare services especially to the underprivileged.

Under this, five inter-related health reforms were established, namely promoting the development of local health systems, providing fiscal and managerial autonomy to government hospitals, enhancing priority public health programs, strengthening the capacities of the Department of Health to exercise its regulatory functions, and reducing out-of-pocket health expenditures by expanding and enhancing the coverage of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).

Read more at Business World

In armored Lexus, Aquino is on fast lane” by Amando Doronila

WELL PAST his second 100 days,President Benigno Aquino III has been encountering rough sailing with the Philippine media.

Since last Christmas, he has been picking bones with the press for the focus of its coverage on his passion for flashy cars, his love life and what he does in his private moments as a bachelor.

This type of news is the stuff which feeds the frenzy of the paparazzi and which makes the lifestyle sections of the newspapers engrossing reading.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquire

PPP project offerings detailed today

THE FIRST public-private partnership (PPP) projects to be offered by to investors will be formally announced today as the Aquino administration inaugurates an office dedicated to managing its centerpiece program.

Two Metro Manila light railways will be up for privatization and three expressway contracts will also be up for bidding, Transportation Undersecretary Ruben S. Reinoso, Jr. told BusinessWorld.

Operation and maintenance contracts for the Light Rail Transit-1 (LRT-1) and the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) lines will be up for sale, he said. The road projects to be declared “open for bidding,” meanwhile, involve the linking of the Daang Hari Road and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), another link between the SLEx and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), and the second phase of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) expressway, Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson said.

Read more at Business World

Fitch praises PHL monetary sector, cites fiscal side has to deliver

London-based Fitch Ratings is looking at the Philippine monetary sector with a nod of approval, but is at this point frowning upon the nation’s fiscal sector, saying it needs to deliver on budget and revenues.

It has expressed apprehensions over revenue flows and budget discipline for 2011, with the Aquino administration targeting a budget deficit of P310 billion or 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

“Public finances remain the Philippines’ key rating weakness, with the revenue-to-GDP ratio well below the median of 21 percent of ‘BB’ range countries,” the rating agency said.

Read more at GMA News

Philippines still among least attractive mining territories

THE PHILIPPINES remains near the bottom of a list of areas rated yearly on having policies conducive to mining investments.

The Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2010/2011, published last March 3, showed the Philippines in 66th place out of 79 such territories rated against a Policy Potential Index (PPI). The country last year ranked 70th out of 72 jurisdictions.

Unlike last year, however, the Philippines was no longer counted among the bottom 10 areas. Moreover, it improved its score to 27.3, out of a maximum of 100, from 14.0 last year.

Read more at Business World

Tax-collection gap exceeds 4% of GDP – PIDS” by Cai U. Ordinario

Without new tax measures, the government will be hard-pressed to generate the necessary revenues to achieve inclusive growth and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) considering that the tax gap in certain taxes exceed 4% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

In the 2010 Economic Policy Monitor, state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said the tax gap from the value-added tax (VAT) and individual income tax (IIT) on nonwage income alone amounts to more than 4% of GDP in 2007 to 2009.

The PIDS explained that the tax gap is estimated as the difference between potential-tax revenue and actual-tax revenue. These may or may not be from leakages and tax evasion.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Oban replaces David as new AFP chief” by Ana Mae G. Roa

LT. GEN. Eduardo SL. Oban, Jr., the third highest in the military hierarchy as deputy chief-of-staff, was yesterday named by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III as the new chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Mr. Aquino announced the replacement of Gen. Ricardo A. David, Jr. in his speech at the graduation ceremonies of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City.

Mr. David, the first chief-of-staff appointed by Mr. Aquino, will retire tomorrow.

Read more at Business World

Is Nestle Phils guilty of predatory pricing?” by Joel Pablo Salud

NESTLÉ Philippines, a subsidiary of the world’s largest food conglomerate Nestlé International (2008 net profit: $16 billion), is facing charges of alleged predatory pricing before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Locking horns with Nestlé Philippines are its own distributors—Service Edge Distribution Inc. (Sedi) and FDI Forefront II Trading. Both alleged that the multinational corporation “caused them to incur P300 million in losses because of the strict controls and aggressive sales targets of Nestlé.”

According to Lorna Kapunan, legal counsel for the respondents: “The complaint alleged that the pricing policies of Nestlé constituted predatory pricing because Nestlé was selling its products at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market or create a barrier of entry for potential new competitors.”

Read more at Business Mirror

Could Marcos have been a Lee Kuan Yew?” by Ping Galang

Before we leave the debate on whether Ferdinand Marcos could have developed the Philippines into another Singapore, let us look at the issue from the perspective of an academic’s study in 2005 that probed into leadership styles in developing economies and how these are shaped eventually by the size of economic resources the leaders can muster.

The dictator’s son, Bongbong who last year was elected to the Senate, commented to journalists last week at the height of the celebrations marking the 25th year of the Edsa People Power Revolt that his dad would have lifted the country’s development into “another Singapore” had not the popular uprising ousted the elder Marcos from the presidency.

Bongbong said that when his father was in power his government “had plans” for the country’s development into an advanced economy.

Read more at GMA News











The Daily Roundup: 25 February 2011

Bongbong marks EDSA anniversary, hopes for progress for country” by Christina Mendez

Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. marked the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution – which started Wednesday – with a fervent hope that the country will attain real progress “in the quickest possible time.”

“I celebrate with every Filipino that is not stuck in the blame game, a situation that sets us up for certain failures as we have seen it happen in the past. Blaming gives one an excuse to fail,” Marcos said.

“I celebrate with all Filipinos willing to look forward, work and unite to earnestly bring progress to our country in the quickest possible time. If we say we can’t, then we can’t. I say: Kaya!” said Marcos in his official website and Facebook account.

Read more at Philippine Star

Freedom from want is EDSA soul: Aquino” by Jocelyn Montemayor

DEMOCRACY from corruption and freedom from poverty.

This, according to President Aquino, is the meaning of people power. “Ito ang pamana ng EDSA,” he said in his message after the Thanksgiving Mass celebrated at the Our Lady of Peace Shrine along EDSA yesterday.

Aquino enjoined everybody to relive the spirit of EDSA and the unity and cooperation that was shown 25 years ago.

He reiterated his administration’s commitment to work hard at fulfilling his promise of bringing progress to the country and led the prayer for life and the unborn.

Read more at Malaya

Government to brief donors on priorities

PRIORITY PROGRAMS aiming to boost business confidence, promote government transparency and generate “inclusive growth” will be presented to donors tomorrow, officials said yesterday.

With the theme, “Implementing President Aquino’s Social Contract to Achieve Inclusive Growth,” the 8th Philippines Development Forum (PDF), the first under the Aquino administration, seeks to facilitate a dialogue between the government and donors on the country’s development agenda, according to a statement by the World Bank and the Finance department, the forum’s organizers.

“The PDF gives the government a good opportunity to present our priorities, so support from development partners can be aligned to these. This way, we can work in a more coordinated and targeted manner to provide greater prosperity to our people,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima was quoted as saying in the statement.

Read more at Business World

Mayors want say on projects” by Ana Mae G. Roa

MAYORS OF poor municipalities have recommended to the administration the adoption of a bottoms-up approach in poverty-reduction projects, according to a resolution submitted yesterday to Malacañang.

The mayors who attended the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) Mayors’ Forum on Integrating CDD (community-driven development) in Local Governance Practice, called on the national government to use CDD in implementing anti-poverty programs.

“They are suggesting making CDD as a strategy of the national government in all, if not, most of the projects,” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said in an interview after the forum held at the Palace.

Read more at Business World

Firms’ optimism slips in Q1

OPTIMISM among businesses in the country slipped this quarter, weighed partly by concerns over rising prices of oil and other commodities, results of the latest Business Expectations Survey which the central bank released yesterday showed.

Still, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) noted that the overall confidence index — computed as the percentage of respondents who answered in the affirmative less the percentage of those who answered in the negative with respect to their views on specific indicators — remained “strong” at 47.5% this quarter.

Specifically, the first quarter 2011 index slid from 50.6% in the fourth quarter last year, but was still better than the 39.1% recorded in Jan.-March 2010, the BSP data showed.

Read more at Business World

Albert del Rosario sworn in as acting foreign affairs secretary” by Christine Avendaño

Former Ambassador to Washington Albert del Rosario was sworn into office Thursday as the acting Foreign Affairs Secretary.

Del Rosario took his oath before President Aquino in the Palace shortly after both of them appeared at a news conference where the Chief Executive spoke about his government’s preparations for the voluntary evacuations of Filipinos in now strife-torn Libya.

Mr. Aquino told reporters said he needed Del Rosario in the current crisis facing Filipinos based in Libya as well as other countries in the Middle East.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Bilateral cooperation pact tops new EU envoy’s priorities” by Jessica Anne D. Hermosa

THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) is keen on preparing for the implementation of soon to be signed cooperation deal with the Philippines through the forging of a free trade deal and the streamlining of customs procedures, its new ambassador yesterday said.

Guy Ledoux, who presented his credentials to Malacañang on Monday, said he will also retain as priorities the EU delegation’s advocacies of helping peace efforts in Mindanao and development projects across the country.

“The EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) will be signed soon,” Mr. Ledoux said without elaborating in a press briefing, referring to the broad framework pact whose negotiations were concluded last year.

Read more at Business World

Ayala Alabang requires prescription for condom” by Jojo Malig

Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City is now requiring people who buy condoms to present a doctor’s prescription.

In a barangay ordinance last January 3, village officials said condoms and other contraceptives cause abortions.

The ordinance also bars teachers, reproductive health advocates, and social workers from holding sex education activities in the barangay without prior consultation with parents of students.

Read more at ABS-CBN News










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

The Daily Roundup: 22 February 2011

Corona is whistle-blower, claims Lauro Vizconde” by Cathy C. Yamsuan, Nikko Dizon

No less than Chief Justice Renato Corona warned Lauro Vizconde that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had approached fellow justices to vote for Hubert Webb’s acquittal three months before the decision was released in December last year.

Vizconde made this revelation to the Philippine Daily Inquirer Monday after acknowledging that he was piqued by portions of the tribunal’s en banc resolution admonishing him for his accusations against Carpio and for publicly accusing the justices of issuing the decision for a fee.

While Vizconde has a witness to support his claim, Corona Monday denied blowing the whistle on Carpio.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Corona categorically denies Vizconde statement” by Nikko Dizon

While they did meet briefly in July last year, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona Monday denied being Lauro Vizconde’s source of the information against Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, according to the high tribunal’s spokesperson, Jose Midas Marquez.

“The Chief Justice categorically denies the statement of Mr. Vizconde,” Marquez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Marquez said he spoke with Corona to get his reaction to Vizconde’s revelation. (It is rare for Supreme Court justices to grant interviews to the media.)

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Palace: No concessions in drug mules reprieve” by Jocelyn Montemayor

PRESIDENTIAL spokesman Edwin Lacierda yesterday said the Philippines does not owe the People’s Republic of China anything nor did the state make any promises in exchange for the postponement of the Feb. 21 execution of the three Filipinos who had been convicted of drug trafficking.

Lacierda branded as speculations the concerns of some groups that China may be trying to gain some political leverage by showing “goodwill” to the Philippines through the postponement of the scheduled execution of Elizabeth Batain, Sally Villanueva and Ramon Credo. He said as far as Malacañang is concerned, they look at the postponement as a gesture of goodwill and friendship.

“That is speculation at this point. We have, again, stated that no concessions were made. In fact, that was a request from this government and based on the joint statement, they postponed the execution within the scope of Chinese laws. That is something that (China) would have to define, we are not familiar with Chinese laws. But definitely, again, we are saying categorically that no concessions were given to the Chinese government. It was a gesture of friendship,” he said.

Read more at Malaya

Chinese envoy says stay of execution was ‘consideration for a friend’” by DJ Yap

China said Saturday its decision to postpone the execution of three Filipinos convicted of drug trafficking resulted from its serious consideration of “the request of a friend.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said the stay of the executions, originally scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, was a “special arrangement given by the Chinese side” following the visit of Vice President Jejomar Binay to make a last-ditch appeal in Beijing.

The embassy said it was not authorized to comment on whether the Philippines had made any concessions or offered anything in return.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

No apology to Taiwan by Anjo Perez and Genalyn D. Kabiling

Unsuccessful vice-presidential candidate Mar Roxas left Monday for Taiwan in a bid to mend the rift caused by the deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals to China early this month.

But Malacañang said Roxas was not sent by President Benigno S. Aquino III to Taiwan to apologize, but rather to explain the government’s position on the deportation incident as well as request Taiwan to relax its rules on the entry of interested Filipino workers.

“The more important parameter or instruction of the President is about the concerns of overseas Filipino workers. We know that the Taiwan government has tightened its rules. That’s one of our concerns. We hope they will relax its stringent rules towards Filipino workers,” he said, citing the presence of around 70,000 hardworking Filipino workers in Taiwan.

Read more at Manila Bulletin

CBCP scrubs RH talks withNoy” by Gerard Naval

THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has decided to indefinitely suspend its dialogue with the government on the issue of the reproductive health bill.

CBCP president Bishop Nereo Odchimar gave three reasons for the decision. The main reason, he said, is that bishops are preoccupied with visits to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. The two other reasons are developments in the legislative process, apparently referring to the recent passage at the House committee level of a consolidated version of the RH bill which it is strongly opposing, and the pastoral letter issued by the CBCP last month.

The third in a series of dialogues was supposed to be held before the end of the month, according to Malacañang.

Read more at Malaya

Palace dismayed with bishops

Malacañang has expressed dismay over the decision of Catholic bishops to suspend talks with the government over the reproductive health (RH) bill.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Monday said the Office of the President should not be blamed over the row.

He said Malacañang remains open to holding talks anew with the bishops.

He said the executive department will continue to live up to its duty and stand of the President Benigno Aquino III on responsible parenthood.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

Strong peso hurts food exports” by Cai U. Ordinario

THE appreciation of the peso has been cited among the main reasons for the steady loss in competitiveness of local food exporters in the global market, the Philippine Food Processors & Exporters Organization Inc. (PhilFoodex Inc.) said on Monday.

PhilFoodex Inc. president Roberto Amores told reporters at the sidelines of the briefing on the 10th Philippine Food Expo that with expectations of the peso-dollar exchange rate reaching P37.50 to the dollar, exporters in general could lose around $100 million this year.

For food producers and exporters alone, Amores said a P37.50-to-the-dollar exchange rate could cost them around $30 million to $40 million this year.

Read more at Business Mirror

Prepare for possible oil supply, OFW evacuation shocks – MAP” by Jessica Anne D. Hermosa

THE GOVERNMENT should draw up plans to address the possibility of oil shortages and the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) given civil unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) yesterday said.

“The Philippines must be prepared in case there will be a recurrence of the 1973 oil crisis and should reduce dependence on fossil fuel consumption,” the business group said in a statement issued yesterday.

The MAP’s call followed reports of continued protests in Bahrain, Algeria, Libya and Yemen that were spurred by the successful ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Read more at Business World

The Daily Roundup: 21 February 2011

Women drug mules pay as Philippines fails on jobs

Maid in the Philippines” was how its top export commodity used to be known, with millions of women from the impoverished country hired abroad as domestic workers.

But as menial jobs vanish in the global recession and opportunities fail to materialize at home, more and more desperate Filipino women are resorting to something far more dangerous—smuggling drugs as mules.

Three convicted Filipino drug smugglers, including two women, on Friday saw their executions in China postponed after Vice President Jejomar Binay made a frantic dash to Beijing to plead for their lives.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

79 Pinoys on China death row” by Michael Punongbayan

Apart from the three whose execution has been deferred, there are 79 other Filipinos awaiting their fate on China’s death row, an overseas workers group said yesterday.

Migrante International said more than 120 other Filipino workers are also facing death sentences in other countries.

The group lauded the efforts of President Aquino in successfully halting the execution of the three Filipino workers in China.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Year of revolution: From EDSA to Tahrir Square” by Amando Doronila

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ago tomorrow, a military mutiny broke out in Camp Aguinaldo, triggering what is now widely recognized as the first bloodless people power revolution in postcolonial history. Most Filipinos are not celebrating that event.

We are celebrating its ideological consequence—the turning point in the struggle for the return of democracy to the Philippines.

The mutiny sparked a mass movement in the streets that led to the overthrow of the 14-year dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. Actually, Marcos ruled for 21 years until he fled the country to escape the wrath of the people in the streets.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Jimmy Ongpin, Angie Reyes” by Arthur Aguilar

Jimmy Ongpin and Angie Reyes had very few things in common. The differences between them were numerous.

The compelling similarity of course is that they took their own lives in an act that they must have considered to be the only way out after an intense period of service to our people. Both had Harvard post-graduate degrees, an MBA for Jimmy and an MPA for Angie. They both worked for female Presidents but on this, the similarity ends. Only future historians can analyze the roles played by the two female Presidents in shaping their terminal states of mind. Or maybe by facts to be revealed by memoirs yet unwritten.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Aquino at PMA Homecoming: Corrupt Officials and Cohorts will pay” by Zaff Somerin and Marilou Guieb

President Benigno Aquino III yesterday vowed all persons involved in the military fund mess, including their cohorts, will have to pay the price for what they had done in ruining the integrity of the military institution.

“If there are opportunists, I’m sure there are also cohorts. It’s unbelievable they were that old enough to be forgetful,” said Aquino in connection with the ongoing investigations surrounding the corruption issues rocking the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Mr. Aquino was the guest of honor during the 63rd Alumni Homecoming held at the grounds of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) at Fort del Pilar, Baguio City.

Read more at Business Mirror

BOP surplus widens to $1.6B in January

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) over-the-weekend said the country’s balance of payments (BOP) surplus widened to $1.606 billion in January from $1.232 billion in December last year.

“The surplus can be traced mainly to proceeds of the national government’s global peso bond issuance, BSP’s forex operations and income from operations abroad,” BSP governor Amando Tetangco said.

He said monetary authorities expect higher forex inflows to continue this year, although at a moderate pace.

Read more at Malaya

Gov’t seeks donor support

AQUINO ADMINISTRATION officials will meet with international development partners this Saturday in a bid to muster support for the government’s priority projects.

The Philippines Development Forum (PDF) — an annual gathering of bureaucrats and donor agency representatives as well as members of the business sector — will tackle the 2011-2016 Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and other government priorities.

“We will present to them the main ideas of the development plan and hopefully, we can urge them to give as much as support as they can for [us to attain] our goals,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr. said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Read more at Business World

DILG: Informal settlers now barangays’ problem” by Dona Pazzibugan

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo has given barangay officials the primary responsibility of addressing the problem of squatter communities in their areas.

Robredo issued a memorandum to all governors, mayors and barangay captains ordering them to adopt measures to curtail the proliferation of squatters and mendicants in their communities.

Robredo was instructed by President Benigno Aquino III to address the problem of informal settlers.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

Protection of OFW dollars eyed” by Fernan Marasigan

A LEGISLATOR has asked the country’s banking institutions to provide hedge facilities that would enable overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families to convert their future US dollar remittances into pesos at preset exchange rates, following forecasts of a stronger Philippine currency.

The move, according to Party-list Rep. Arnel Ty of LPG Marketer’s Association (LPGMA), is one practical way to help migrant workers and their families cope with the rising peso, with the fewer pesos they will be getting for every dollar.

Ty said that the hedging schemes would be particularly helpful to overseas workers who send home dollars to pay for fixed monthly expenses, such as apartment rental, amortization of a new home or car, or school tuition installments.

Read more at Business Mirror

Follow US House, CBCP official tells lawmakers

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged Philippine lawmakers to look to US Congress’s example by defunding contraceptive use.

Fr. Melvin Castro of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life said the US has realized its mistake for funding contraception and the country can avoid it by rejecting the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

“If the US Congress defunded such entity, we ask our Congress to reject the RH bill which has the same effect of allocating people’s money against what they believe in,” he said.

Read more at CBCP