The Daily Roundup: 7 February 2011

Communists mull truce declaration

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced Sunday that it is planning to declare a ceasefire to coincide with the forthcoming resumption of formal peace talks between the Maoist movement and the government.

The CPP, in a press statement published online by its information bureau, urged the government to declare a similar ceasefire.

The CPP, which holds direct control over its armed wing, the New People’s Army, and far-left coalition organization the National Democratic Front, wants government troops “to be confined to barracks during the ceasefire period” and suspend their military operations.

Read more at ABS-CBN News

DFA orders Cimatu: Skip Egypt and return home” by Jerry E. Esplanada

Special envoy Roy Cimatu is “no longer proceeding to Egypt” as earlier ordered by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to assess the situation of more than 6,500 Filipinos in the Middle East country where massive protests are calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Assistant Foreign Secretary J. Eduardo Malaya, also the DFA spokesperson, Sunday said Cimatu had “completed his mission in Afghanistan and is on his way back home.”

The DFA had earlier asked the former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff to look into the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Egypt.

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

House body to ask Heidi Mendoza on $5M in UN Funds” by Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., TJ Burgonio

Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza will be the star witness in a new probe in the House of Representatives that seeks to track down those who pocketed United Nations funds for Filipino soldiers deployed overseas.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the House defense committee, told the Inquirer that Mendoza would be asked to share details of her findings on the $5 million that the UN had paid the Philippines for sending its peacekeeping forces abroad.

Mendoza’s scheduled appearance on Wednesday is an offshoot of her testimony on Feb. 1 at the House justice committee hearing on the plea bargain agreement struck by the Office of the Ombudsman with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who was originally charged with plunder.

Read more at Philippines Daily Inquirer

Conservative goals favored

RETENTION of growth and inflation goals adopted at the start of the Aquino administration’s term will likely be recommended to economic managers meeting this Friday to finalize 2012 targets, senior officials said.

The growth assumption for next year, said Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa S. Habitan — also a member of the Executive Technical Board (ETB) that advises the interagency Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) — will “most likely be the same as in the medium-term plan.”

Central bank Assistant Governor Ma. Cyd T. Amador, another ETB member, said the current 2011-2012 inflation target of 3-5% would also “not be changed.”

Read more at Business World

Palace wants RH, whistle-blower’s bills prioritized” by Delon Porcalla

The bills that will promote reproductive health and the protection of whistle-blowers are among 17 measures the Aquino administration wants prioritized, an official said yesterday.

“The priority legislative measures we have crafted are consistent with the President’s social contract with the Filipino people. We want to ensure that this administration succeeds in addressing this with the help of Congress,” Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said.

He said the 17 bills that President Aquino will present to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) ”are in the final stages of preparation. We are not just submitting a list of measures, but the bills themselves, which have been studied by the lead agencies involved.”

Read more at The Philippine Star

CBCP to DOH: No more condom distribution on Valentine’s Day” by Helen Flores

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) appealed yesterday to the Department of Health (DOH) not to give away condoms to couples this Valentine’s Day.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said the distribution of condoms would only send wrong information especially among the youth that it is alright to engage in early sexual intercourse as long as it is safe and protected.

The DOH, under the leadership of former Health secretary Esperanza Cabral, handed out free condoms on Valentine’s Day last year as part of its campaign to curb the increasing HIV/AIDS cases in the country.

Read more at The Philippine Star

Mining investments miss target in 2010 — MGB chief” by Kathleen A. Martin

INVESTMENTS in the local mining sector fell about $244 million short of the government’s target last year due to delays in various projects, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said late last week.

We missed our target due to Didipio, Pujada, Nonoc, Intex, and partly from (sic) Siana and Taganito…projects,” MGB Director Leo L. Jasareno told reporters via text late Friday.

Specifically, some $955.85 million worth of investments came in, against a $1.2-billion target for the year.

Read more at Business World

Risk from oil-price speculators cited” by Cai U. Ordinario

IF the turmoil in Egypt continues, Washington-based think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) warned that oil-price increases will continue and may exceed the $103-per-barrel level recorded last week.

In a commentary, PIIE senior fellow Mohsin S. Khan said while the possible closure of the Suez Canal will make the 2 million to 3 million barrels per day that pass through the canal more expensive, this will not cause prices to increase that much.

But the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) isn’t too worried and predicted a worst-case scenario for inflation to rise to no more than 5 percent.

Read more at Business Mirror

Create a slogan for Philippine health!

Got some creative juices in need of an outlet?

Here’s an interesting contest by the Department of Health, calling for branding of the country’s health care program.

Read more below, then take a crack at marketing health to our fellow Pinoys.


1. The contest is open to Filipinos, 15 years old and above, nationwide.

2. The entry should have a slogan and a corresponding logo design. The slogan should not be more than 10 words, written either in Filipino, English or Taglish.

3. Only digital entries are accepted. Entries must be in vector format or with a resolution of 300 ppi for raster format. The width and height must be at least 700 pixels. Layout may be in landscape or portrait. Use colors that work for both RGB and CMYK mode. Submitted entries may be in PDF, JPEG, PNG, EPS or AI format. Use your name for the filename (e.g. TonyRoda.jpeg).

4. Digital entries should be emailed to [email protected] with the subject “UHC slogan and logo contest.” Participants should write their complete name, address, contact details and explanation of their work in the body of their email.

5. Participants can send as many entries as they like.

6. By entering the competition, the participant declares that the slogan and logo submitted are his/her original work, have not been submitted to any other competition, and do not infringe on any third party’s existing copyrights. All entries automatically become the property of the DOH.

7. The DOH will have exclusive rights to the winning slogan and logo, publish them on its websites and in other media and collateral materials. The DOH reserves the right to make refinements, alterations and improvements on the final artwork of the winning entry.

8. Deadline for submission of entries is on February 4, 2011. Entries beyond this date will no longer be considered.

9. The winner will be announced at the DOH website and will be notified through email and phone call.

10. The decision of the judges is final, executory and non-appealable. The slogan and the logo will be judged as one. Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • Overall concept to represent the purpose and spirit of UHC:  50%
  • Originality and uniqueness of the slogan and logo:                25%
  • Presentation (e.g. catchy, artistic, technical layout):              25%

11. The winner gets a cash prize of P30,000, a certificate, and a citation in the unveiling of the slogan and logo in a special event sometime in February 2011.


Call the DOH National Center for Health Promotion at (02) 743-8438 or (02) 743-8301 loc 2801 and look for Tony Roda or text 0916-4396555. Participants are also advised to read the DOH Administrative Order No. 2010-0036 otherwise known as “The Aquino Health Agenda: Universal Health Care for All Filipinos” posted in the DOH Website – for guidance.


Posted with research support from Con Yap.

Prolifers slam condoms, bets who back RH bill

Prolifers slam condoms, bets who back RH bill
By Julie M. Aurelio, Beverly T. Natividad
Philippine Daily Inquirer

PROLIFE GROUPS Saturday claimed that condom use will not stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and vowed not to support any candidate who endorses the reproductive health (RH) bill.

“Let us not exclude God from the equation of life and health,” said protesters at a rally at the Riverbanks Ampitheater in Marikina City yesterday, led by the Antipolo diocese and Catholic religious and lay groups.

The protesters, who numbered about 600, including young people and their parents, said they were reiterating the Church’s defense of life and marriage.

“Authentic sexual values are expressed in premarital chastity and fidelity to spouse. It rejects the reproductive health bill and calls on the people to respect God’s plan for life,” the rally organizers said in a statement.

The statement said the rally, which ended with a concelebrated Mass by Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, was meant to be a protest against the Department of Health’s campaign to distribute condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

One of the organizers, Veronica Pineda, said good governance was vital in fighting diseases like the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

The statement said the protest action was meant to show the candidates in the May elections that “the people’s desire is not contraceptives but good government, and supports the call to reject candidates who support the reproductive health bill.”

In his homily, Reyes said that the religious sector was united with the Department of Health in its aim to curb maternal mortality and reduce the spread of AIDS.

But in doing so, the Health Department should not forget God, he said.

“It seems they didn’t include God and morality in this equation when our life and health comes from God,” said Reyes.

The government, the Antipolo bishop said, cannot promote life and health without also teaching about the moral aspect of life.

“It is as if for them it’s OK to lose one’s morality as long as you are in good health. Even if you go to someone not your wife, it’s okay as long as you are not sick,” Reyes said.

Conservative Catholic groups earlier denounced the Department of Health for distributing condoms on Valentine’s Day. Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral explained that the campaign was against AIDS and not contraception.

The prolife protesters said that condoms had a 15-percent failure rate and that viruses could still pass through latex condoms, and they are therefore not a fool-proof means of AIDS prevention or pregnancy.

PhilHealth execs face poll charges

PhilHealth execs face poll charges
By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The president and chief operating officer of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and three other top executives of the state-run firm face possible jail terms after violating an election law, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The Comelec’s law department, citing a Supreme Court decision, ruled the PhilHealth officials violated the Omnibus Election Code with the recent reshuffle of 26 agency officials.

If the Comelec en banc affirms the law department’s decision, the following PhilHealth officials could face jail terms of one to six years and disqualification from public office: Jesus Reynaldo “Rey” Aquino, president and CEO; Melinda Mercado, executive vice president; Tito Mendiola, senior vice president for operations; and Ruben John Basa, group vice president for corporate affairs.

Documents furnished the Inquirer by the Department of Health and PhilHealth insiders showed the 26 officials were reshuffled on Jan. 12, or two days after the prohibition on job transfers took effect.

The personnel movements were also implemented without a written authority from the Comelec, the documents showed.

Comelec lawyers Ferdinand Rafanan, Josllyn Demesa and Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal informed Aquino in a letter that “any movement of any officer or employee in the civil service is covered by the prohibition.”

They, however, noted that their opinion was “not binding” and “subject to the ruling of the Comelec en banc on the matter.”

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, also PhilHealth chair, told the Inquirer the health agency would abide by the en banc’s decision.

Cabral said the case “happened before my time.”

Cabral took over as health secretary on Jan. 15, a week after Aquino issued the PhilHealth memorandum ordering the transfer of the 26 executives.

But Cabral and four other members of the PhilHealth board had earlier signed Resolution 1365 “expressing full trust and confidence in the PhilHealth president’s authority to re-assign PhilHealth officers” despite five restraining orders and four injunctions issued by various regional trial courts against the transfers.

The Jan. 28 resolution also called for “appropriate administrative disciplinary actions” against PhilHealth personnel who questioned the reshuffle.

Aside from Cabral, the other signatories to the resolution were Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Social Welfare Secretary Celia Yangco, former Health Secretary and Sen. Juan Flavier, and physicians Ponciano Perez and Jack Arroyo Jr.

Three other PhilHealth board members—Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, Government Service Insurance System president and general manager Winston Garcia and Social Security System president and CEO Romulo Neri–did not sign the resolution.

At least nine of the reshuffled PhilHealth executives have filed charges against Aquino and his three subordinates for alleged violation of Comelec Resolution No. 8737.