DFA

How to find people in Japan after Earthquake? (updated)

1. Google People finder for Japan EarthQuake
2. DFA has established a hotline for Japan-related concerns, call (632) 8344646 and 834-4580. Requests for information may also be sent through e-mail address [email protected]
3. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Hotline: 722-1144, 722-1155
4. Hotlines in phil emb tokyo : +813 5562-1570; +813 5562-1577; +813 5562-1590. Embassy can also be reached at: [email protected]

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

Noy slams APEC allies over travel advisories

Noy slams APEC allies over travel advisories
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

YOKOHAMA – President Aquino appeared in fighting form before other heads of state during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit here, lashing out at his counterparts for recent adverse travel advisories on the Philippines.

Mr. Aquino was particularly irked by the travel advisories coming from countries that he said are supposed to be allies of the Philippines.

He said the advisories had been issued amid efforts of his government to encourage investors to come to the country.

Mr. Aquino, who attended the APEC CEO Summit here along with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, was the one who got the most attention from businessmen, as several questions were thrown at him over how they could invest in the Philippines in the light of the adverse travel advisories.

Mr. Aquino and the New Zealand leader were joined by business and industry leaders led by Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Haruhiko Kuroda, DHL CEO Hermann Ude and All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. chairman Yoji Ohashi, who is also vice chairman of Nippon Keidanren.

Mr. Aquino and Key were separated by a coffee table and delivered their speeches before the question and answer portion.

Mr. Aquino sternly answered the question on travel warnings against the Philippines, which elicited laughter from the crowd.

Key, for his part, seemed to have reddened  serious and blushed while Mr. Aquino voiced his displeasure over the advisories. New Zealand was among six countries that warned against travel to the Philippines, citing imminent terror attack.

Host nation Japan the other day joined the other nations that issued adverse travel advisory against the Philippines, but this time, warning against robbery and kidnappings.

Mr. Aquino lamented that other countries should be more considerate to their allies vis-à-vis their responsibility to warn and protect their own citizens.

Mr. Aquino though thanked the businessman during the forum for bringing up the issue of adverse travel warnings. He said the Philippines “unfortunately is not one of the tourism powerhouses yet.”

“We have three million visitors a year, some of our neighboring countries would have as high as 22 million visitors. Unfortunately, with the terror advisories recently we were singled out as a place to avoid,” Mr. Aquino told the forum.

“Unfortunately for us, there seems to be standards when they issue these alerts. There are countries that have experienced terrorist attacks directed at tourists (and) that area placed in a category lower than the Philippines in terms of terrorist alerts,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said there are countries that have harbored terrorists who attacked other countries but they are not included in the list of travel alerts.

“We don’t understand why, on the basis of a report that actually talked about a threat that was very dissimilar to previous Islamic, fundamentalist, jihadist attacks, suddenly gains so much credence that’s enough to issue all of these alerts that unfortunately were played up by our media,” he explained.

Mr. Aquino was acerbic in his comments, eliciting laughter from the crowd, particularly when he questioned the “sincerity of our allies” in issuing the adverse advisories.

He said the travel warnings came even as the Philippines is preparing a tourism campaign on Nov. 15.

“One has to suspect the sincerity of some of our allies,” he said. “We have made our displeasure known to their ambassadors.”

Mr. Aquino told the forum that the Philippine government had implemented a new procedure that would validate any information on security threats.

“We have a new procedure put in place. You know the basis of the information given to our government came in the form of SMS (short messaging system) and it was more, in the best light it can be said, it was taken so that they will not be accused of not doing anything,” Mr. Aquino said.

“But in terms of validating the data, it seems there is no effort at all to validate and this negatively impacted on our country’s efforts and again one has to wonder why such a thing came from allies,” he added.

‘Is not unusual’

Malacañang, for its part, said the latest travel advisory issued by Japan against the Philippines “is not unusual and extraordinary.”

“These are just precautionary measures. We respect our Japanese friends on this,” Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

Coloma stressed the responsibility of the Japanese government to ensure the safety of its citizens.

He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is regularly holding dialogues with embassies for a “clearer understanding” of foreign governments.

“We want to know what their concerns are,” Coloma said.

What makes the Japanese travel advisory different, Coloma noted, was that text was written in Nippongo, which means only Japanese people can understand it.

“There is no English or international version,” Coloma said. “The travel advisory was written in Japanese.”

Coloma also noted the Japanese travel advisory did not mention any possibility of terror attack in the Philippines.

Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura explained the advisory was merely a reminder for their nationals visiting the country to take the usual precautions against criminal elements.

The travel advisory, Katsura said, is being issued by the embassy regularly, particularly in the last months of the year when a significant number of Japanese tourists travel to the Philippines.

“So we just ask them to take safety measures against any security concerns like robbery and kidnapping,” he said.

Katsura pointed out his government’s advisory was “completely different in nature” to those issued by the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada and France.

The six nations came out with their respective advisories one after the other within a matter of days, all of which warned of an imminent terrorist attack.

Security forces confirmed they were aware of the report of a terrorist threat on the country but stressed the information should be validated.

Officials said this was the same information used by the six nations when they issued their advisories against the Philippines.

Matsura clarified the advisory did not discourage their citizens from traveling to the Philippines. What it did was only to remind Japanese citizens to “take safety measures against any security concerns like robbery and kidnapping.”

“Our advice is quite different from them. We just remind them of the possible security (risks). We advise them to take precautionary measures,” Matsura said.

Matsura said the Japanese embassy had no idea about the information used by the six nations to issue the travel warnings.

President Aquino lamented that foreign countries did not share information with the Philippines that eventually led to the spate of adverse travel advisories.

He said the six countries did not even bother to coordinate with their Philippine counterparts on intelligence matters to check if the reported terror threats were real and accurate.

The US embassy issued a statement explaining the latest travel advisory against the Philippines carried only “slight changes.”

The British government also clarified it did not issue any new advisory to its nationals but only a revised travel advisory.

The Australian and New Zealand embassies also responded in similar tones. With Delon Porcalla, Danny Dangcalan

BSAIII action plan on peace and development in Mindanao

Aquino-Roxas Mindanao Peace and Development Agenda

Action Plan on Peace and Development in Mindanao

Peace and Security

Transparent and consultative peace process

Workable peace is possible only if supported by a broad, active and informed peace constituency.

  • I will assume direct responsibility for the revival of the peace process with the MILF.
  • I will reconstitute the peace panel with men and women of integrity who will directly report to me. There was a time when the peace process was doing well until the Arroyo Government began to use the peace negotiation as prop to political survival. I will see counsel from peace advocates like former OPAPP Secretary Deles, Peace Panel Head Afable and former Notre Dame University President, Fr. Mercado to put back on track the credibility needed in the peace process.
  • I will ensure the participation of various Mindanao stakeholders – Muslims, Lumad, Christian settlers – in the negotiating panels and working groups;
  • I will create a niche for the participation of other Muslim “gatekeepers” particularly traditional and LGU leaders, MNLF, the Ulama, Bangsamoro civil society.
  • Request the Bishops-Ulama Conference to submit a report on the results of the consultations it conducted in the aftermath of the failed MOA-AD; likewise with all known civil society organizations and academic institutions which undertook similar consultations or researches in the past year, such as the University Network on the Mindanao Question led by the UP School of Law, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, and the Al Mujadilah Foundation.

The results of all these processes should be collated, with key points of agreement and contention identified for inputting into the peace mechanism, as appropriate. On this basis, a mechanism should be devised for these groups to participate in the continuing dialogue on and monitoring of their recommendations.

MNLF

  • I will immediately convene the Oversight Committee on the Organic Act on Muslim Mindanao (RA 9054) and complete a review and assessment of the implementation of the law. I will issue an Executive Order reviving/extending the function of the Oversight Committee, which was last convened before 2004 and which never completed its task, and impose a deadline for the completion of its work.
  • I will order the Department of Foreign Affairs, with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to give a report on the tripartite review of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement and cull the “immediate doable” measures that government can undertake.
  • I will order an inventory of the backlog on assistance to MNLF rebel returnees, as the basis for determining the requirements and timetable for addressing the gap and closing the existing program, while a new program is crafted in cooperation with concerned LGUs and approximating the international standards on DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation) of former combatants.

Indigenous People

  • We will review the recent appointment of the Commission to ensure they are in accordance with the law and rationalize the NCIP plantilla to professionalize the bureaucracy to do its mandate under the law, including the delineation of ancestral domains (AD) and support the development of the Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP).
  • I will work with IP communities and all land and resource-management related agencies for a thorough review of all Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs), and Certificates of Free Prior and Informed Consent (CFPICs) issued towards weeding out those issued defectively, fast-tracking decisions on all pending applications, and providing support for development and implementation of the ADRMP for areas covered by CADTs.
  • I will ensure basic education, health, and sanitation facilities and services for IP communities.
  • I will look into the immediate situation of security of IP communities in areas of ongoing armed conflict.

Internally Displaced Families

Families displaced by conflict will receive full support to be able to return to their communities of origin, if they so desire.

  • I will put up a compensatory fund which will provide shelter, food and livelihood assistance to enable the estimated 30,000 internally displaced families to return to their homes.

Lawless and Criminal Elements

I will dismantle private armies and take a firm hand against all forms of lawlessness

  • I will ensure the prosecution of all identified perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre. I am aware that the families of the victims and witnesses of the crime are vulnerable to harassment as well as bribes to weaken the case. I will ensure that families of the victims and witnesses of the crime will receive adequate protection and support as they work for justice.
  • The Maguindanao massacre was not just a local Maguindanao problem. It was abetted by the national government with government policies and resources. DND should submit immediately the result of its investigation and inventory of the arms and ammunition confiscated from the Ampatuans and identify civilian and military leaders responsible for the build up of arsenal of the Ampatuans.
  • I will revoke EO546. Never again will public funds be used to support and maintain a private security force.
  • KFR incidents are national security concerns. I will commit full budgetary support to PACER in establishing and implementing an anti-kidnapping strategy in Mindanao; provide full support for the filing of charges against suspected perpetrators, including full protection for released victims and their families.
  • Under my watch, I will ensure that all security forces will be insulated from partisan politics. I will implement the Defense Reform Program started by former DND Secretary Nonong Cruz which aimed to build a professional AFP. A professional AFP along with a professional PNP committed solely to defend the constitution and uphold the law is the key to the dismantling of private armies and implementing the gun control. All forms of excuses for self-protection can be abandoned only when citizens trust state security forces.
  • We will aim to improve the ratio of security forces to our growing population.
  • All appointments in the AFP and PNP will be based on merit and performance.
  • Forces on the ground will be provided with adequate provisions, equipment and training to be able to discharge their duties effectively.

Governance

Performance Incentives

Setting National Policy: Performance- and outcome-driven over-investments in education, health, and employment interventions.

  • I will match every peso invested by 4th and 5th class LGUs in basic education, maternal and child health care and potable water and latrines.
  • Moreover, I will provide additional support to performing LGU’s so they can fast track filling the gaps in attaining targets for their education, health and sanitation programs. In education I will support LGU efforts to attain 100% basic education enrolment, lowering dropout rates and increasing completion rates.

Transparent and proper use of public funds

I will ensure that all fund releases to all LGUs will be transparent and its utilization fully accounted for.

  • I will support DBM’s effort started by former Secretary Emilia Boncodin in regularly publishing and disseminating all releases to the LGUs.
  • I commend COA for their fearless reports which exposed politically sensitive cases such as the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam. I will ensure adequate support to state auditors for proper and accurate audit reports. And their reports will not end in filing cabinets. The OP will take the necessary action on irregularities in the COA reports.

Free and honest elections

I will ensure free, honest and orderly elections.

  • I will release the Mayuga Report to make public the findings on the role of the military in the controversial 2004 elections.
  • On the next ARMM election in 2011, I will install measures that will hold paramount the will of the people of ARMM. The military and the police will remain strictly politically neutral. They will ensure that the election is clean, orderly and peaceful.

Development

Infrastructure

To transform Mindanao into modern agricultural center and the nation’s food basket.

I will address infrastructure gap in farm to market roads, irrigation and post harvest facilities.

Corollary to this, to substantially reduce post-harvest losses, post-harvest facilities will be provided to Mindanao corn, coconut and rice farmers while processing facilities will be made available to coastal fishers and aquaculturists.

Additional irrigated farms will raise cropping intensity and hence productivity contributing in the process to the attainment of the goal of self-sufficiency for specific commodities and bolstering export-competitiveness for others.

  • During my term, I will improve its total road network by bringing its current paved road ratio closer to the national average. This will lower transport costs and post-harvest losses.
  • Corn driers will be priority of DA under my watch. Every 1,000 hectares of corn land will be serviced by at least 1 corn drier.
  • Irrigation coverage will be expanded. Mindanao has about 700,000 hectares of farms that need irrigation. We will expand irrigation facilities to service half of the area by the end of my term, subject to sound cost-benefit analysis.

Public Investment

In areas of Mindanao where private investors are hesitant to invest due to high risk and uncertainty, my administration will establish state enterprises that will partner with potential private investors or extend guarantees to them to spread the risks. The purpose is to generate investments in these areas as a way of jump-starting economic activities and providing employment opportunities so direly needed in these communities. This will be the government’s direct assault on breaking the vicious cycle of lack of jobs, resulting to greater poverty, in turn partly fuelling the conflict, leading to lack of investments and lack of jobs.

  • Among my priority will be government investment in the development of the Halal Industry. This, first and foremost, will answer the essential need of Filipino Muslims for access to food and non-food products that is consistent with their faith. This will also enable local producers, Muslims and non-Muslims, to partake of the multi-billion dollar world halal market.
  • I will encourage investments in our energy sector to tap more diverse sources of power and lower the cost of energy in the long term. In the short term, I will support moves to mitigate the effects of the power crisis such as:
    • Leasing power barges
    • Contracting additional generating capacity through cooperatives and private utilities
    • Allowing the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to use ancillary services such as the contracting of back-up generating capacity
    • Promoting demand side management

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Palace: No mediation yet for 3 OFWs facing death in Saudi

No mediation yet for 3 OFWs facing death in Saudi—Palace

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – The government will not intercede yet for three Filipinos facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia pending final resolution by the court, a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday.

But in the meantime, Edwin Lacierda pointed out that the Department of Foreign Affairs was in touch with the family of the victim in an effort “to obtain forgiveness by way of blood money.”

Victorino Gaspar, Jr., Paul Miquibas, and Edgardo Genetiano were convicted by a Saudi Court for robbing and killing another Filipino worker in Jeddah.

Lacierda explained that the death penalty was promulgated by the committee of five judges and has just been elevated before the court of appeals.

“I understand from the Department of Foreign Affairs that it will take approximately three months for them to decide and after that, if we have an adverse decision against the three Filipinos, the Saudi lawyer who is representing the 3 Filipinos will elevate the case before the Supreme Court,” he said.

“In the meantime, the DFA is in touch with the family of the victim in an effort to obtain forgiveness by way of blood money so right now medyo malayo pa [it’s still far] so we’re hoping that the DFA is still doing all its best to communicate with the family of the victim. So it will take sometime,” he said.