Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: October 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday vowed to talk to US President Donald Trump in the "most righteous way" during the possible bilateral meeting between the two leaders in November.


"I would deal with US President Trump in the most righteous way, welcome him as an important leader. As a matter of fact, the most important leader on this side of the planet and I would have to listen to him, what he has to say," Duterte told reporters before leaving for Japan.


"We move our mouths in the same cadence, for example like declaring a national emergency regarding the drug issue," he added.


The Philippines and the US government have been working to set up a bilateral meeting between the two presidents during Trump's visit to the country for the Special Gala Celebration of the 50th anniversary of Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) on November 12 and the ASEAN-US Summit on November 13.


Duterte said he would also tackle with his US counterpart the following issues: terrorism, cooperation between the two countries and fight against illegal drugs.


North Korea
Duterte also pointed out that the most important matter he would discuss with Trump is the issue on North Korea.


"We are worried, all of us... that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. I'm sure that we can agree," Duterte said.


"Nuclear war is totally unacceptable for anybody. Somebody has to talk to Kim Jong Un.


"All leaders agree that he is a dangerous man. You must remember that he is a leader of his people. Whether or not, whatever he proclaims himself to be, somebody has to talk to him. It would be good if America, Japan and Korea and Mr. Kim Jong Un to talk... to convince him to sit down in a round table," Duterte said.


Duterte said China has the capacity to calm Kim Jong Un.


"Just to assure him that nobody is after you," Duterte added. "Nobody is talking to him, I don't know about China... but the one single country that can calm him down, China."


Duterte has been very vocal against the North Korean leader and his tendencies to trigger a nuclear war among other nations. — BM, GMA News
Published in News
Friday, 27 October 2017 12:57

Palace says LP is afraid of its own ghost

Thee Liberal Party (LP) is only “afraid of its own ghost” after accusing the Duterte administration as behind the testimony of self-confessed bagman Ricky Serenio implicating LP stalwarts in the illegal drug trade.


Serenio had earlier identified LP officials Sen. Franklin Drilon and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as drug protectors of slain drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr.


“The administration has nothing to do with the testimony of a drug cartel bagman Mr. Ricky Sereno implicating Sen. Franklin Drilon and Former Sec. Mar Roxas as to the illegal drug trades in the Visayas,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement read by Assistant to the Presidential Spokesperson China Jocaon during a Palace briefing.


On Thursday, the LP said the allegations against Drilon and Roxas proved the government’s “all-out attempt to demonize LP” and to “divert attention from pressing issues.”


Instead of “swallowing the words of the so-called bagman and wasting time on this new controversy,” the LP said the Duterte government could just better use its time investigating and finding those behind the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China that slipped past the Bureau of Customs (BOC).


But Malacañang lashed back at the former ruling party.


“The Liberal Party is afraid of its own ghost after conducting several witch hunt investigations against their perceived political enemies when they were in power,” Abella said. /jpv
Published in News
MANILA — The San Miguel Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) formally turned over PHP330 million worth of livelihood assistance to the families of slain policemen and soldiers in Marawi to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday.


The money is intended to alleviate the plight of the families and loved ones of the 165 soldiers and police officers killed in the five-month battle to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the Maute Group terrorists.


Each beneficiary of the livelihood program are given PHP2 million business startup, and they can select business package from Petron, Kambal Pandesal, BMEG Feeds, Distributorship, TJ Hotdog, Monterey Meat Shop and San Miguel Food Avenue franchise.


Present during the handover ceremonies were SMFI president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang and then outgoing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año.


“We thank you for defending our country, Marawi is free and our country is much safer. But as we celebrate this victory, we are also mourning,” Ang added.
“The San Miguel Corporation extends PHP330 million to (the families of) 165 soldiers and policemen killed-in-action capital for business assistance, it is the best way we can honor them. We can never replace them nor repay them for their sacrifice, but we can honor them and help fulfill their dream of better lives for their families,” he emphasized.


Fighting in Marawi City started when government troops tried to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts last May 23.


“To the AFP, the entire nation is truly proud of you,” the SMFI president added.
While no amount of money can compensate families for the lost of a loved one, Año said the generosity of SMFI will greatly ease the burden on the families.
“We will make sure that we will help them as you helped them rebuild their lives. We cannot thank you enough, the whole AFP appreciates your effort,” he added.


San Miguel Corporation will also conduct Financial Literacy Training and Start-up Business Seminar Turnover ceremonies took place at the Del Pilar Lounge, General Headquarters Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Thursday afternoon. (Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)
Published in News
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—If the government is really keen on fast-tracking the reconstruction of war-torn Marawi City, the affected residents must be allowed to actively take part in the decision-making process, a Maranao leader said on Tuesday.

“The key is the direct participation of the people in the rebuilding of Marawi,” said Drieza Lininding, chair of the civil society organization Moro Consensus Group.

At least 240,000 individuals fled Marawi when Islamic State-inspired militants went on a rampage last May 23.

Five months after the siege, most of the city’s commercial areas are in ruins. Even the relatively well-off families have been reduced to being internally displaced persons (IDPs), dependent on aid from government agencies and private aid groups.

Lininding said the IDPs of Marawi must have a say in government-led efforts to help them get back on their feet, even as they were raring to move back to their communities in Marawi.

For instance, instead of requiring IDPs to live in transitional shelters, Lininding said it would be best if the government could give them direct financial assistance so they could rebuild their houses as soon as possible.

Lininding said that the amount of financial aid each family could get should be based on the assessed damage to their properties.

This way, the IDPs can restart their lives and, at the same time, the government will have more time to focus on the construction of damaged public infrastructures such as roads, schools and other structures, he said.

“Give them the money and let them build their own homes,” Lininding said.

He pointed out that the temporary shelters were not practical since the IDPs had to go back to the city proper to find work or ply their trade.

He said the sooner the displaced Maranaos could go back to Marawi, the faster the city could return to normalcy.

According to Lininding, IDPs also needed capital to restart their businesses and once the government begins to allocate funds to start their businesses, Marawi will slowly spring back to life.

“If it takes 50 years to rebuild Marawi, give the people capital for the businesses, and its recovery period will be cut short,” he said, responding to architect Felino Palafox Jr.’s rather somber projection that it would take 70 years to restore Marawi to its old grandeur.

Lininding doubted whether it would take that long to rebuild the city since Maranaos—traditionally traders—could be expected to reestablish trade and commerce in Marawi in just three to five years.

Lininding said the Marawi planners should be more concerned with providing capital to the IDPs, who said they wanted to return to their places of origin so they could start life anew.—JIGGER JERUSALEM

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/940944/moro-group-wants-jobs-housing-for-marawi-folk#ixzz4wfPuRBFE 
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Published in News
MANILA–An inter-agency task force was recently created to set in motion policies and processes to address bottlenecks and gaps in the country’s infrastructure development, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).


In a keynote speech on Tuesday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the Project Facilitation, Monitoring and Innovation (PFMI) Task Force, composed of economic and major infrastructure agencies, functions as a body that will institute policies and processes to address issues in the project cycle of the Infrastructure Flagship Projects.


The PFMI Task Force’s Steering Committee is composed of NEDA as chair, the Department of Finance as co-chair, Department of Budget and Management, Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation, and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.


The Secretary also reported that NEDA is discussing with oversight and key implementing agencies the enhancement of the NEDA Board and Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Project Screening Guidelines.
“As part of a more efficient planning and programming process of the government, programs, activities, and projects for inclusion in the country’s Public Investment Program must be examined early on and screened through a more rational and methodical process,” Pernia said.


He further said that the final version of the guidelines would help the government identify the appropriate procurement modality that is favorable to both the government and the public.


The guidelines will help government address, minimize, if not totally avoid, issues in implementing projects that can be attributed to poor project planning and programming.


Moreover, Pernia underscored the need to amend the Philippine’s two-decade-old Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law and its implementing rules and regulations.


“(It is) among our priority regulations, so as to raise the efficacy of private sector participation and to keep policies attuned to the changing business environment,” he added.


Among the proposed amendments to the BOT Law are: (1) the inclusion of new variants for contractual agreements such as joint ventures; (2) adoption of new approaches on unsolicited proposals to ensure transparency and competition, without sacrificing speed; (3) exemption from payment of real property tax for Projects of National Significance; and (4) other measures to further improve the PPP procurement process.


Pernia delivered his speech at the 3rd Asian Public Governance Forum on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and 4th Regional Policy Network on PPPs, Infrastructure and Connectivity at the Manila Peninsula Hotel on October 24, 2017. The event was organized by the Public-Private Partnership Center and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. | NEDA-PR
Published in News
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, October 25, witnessed the handover of military equipment by the Russian Federation to the Philippines.
The Chief Executive also visited the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Pantaleev docked at Pier 15, Port of Manila.


Duterte toured the shipboard main alley, air defense platform, main artillery unit, and the wardroom.


Following his tour, the President then witnessed the signing of the certificate of donation.


It was signed by Russia’s Major General Aleksandr Kshimovskiy, the Director for Main Department for the International Military Cooperation of the Ministry of Defense and Philippines’ Department of National Defense Undersecretary Raymundo DV. Elefante.


The President then inspected the military equipment donated by Russia.
These are 20 units of Ural-4320 multi-purpose vehicles; 5,000 units of AK-74M Kalashnikov assault rifles, one million units 1943-type cartridges with steel core bullets; and 5,000 units of steel helmets.


The donation for the government forces was announced by the President earlier this month.


President Duterte embarked on an official visit to Russia in May which he said was productive despite being cut short.


Duterte also visited the Russian guided missile cruiser Varyag in April and the Russian large anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs in January. (PND)
Published in News
Thursday, 26 October 2017 09:58

Anatomy of a scam

A YEAR has gone by since the famous DU30 profanity against Barack Obama and subsequent Philippine “pivot to China.” His declaration shocked the world, especially the US government, which was in the midst of a presidential campaign that also propelled an “outsider,” the Donald, to the “most powerful presidency” of the Western world.
The Deegong’s declaration of non-alignment, or “independent” foreign policy, was hailed by China in its win column. It is unfortunate that China’s own setback at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which rejected its 9-dash line claim to the South China Sea region, seems to have been reversed by the Philippines’ virtual acquiescence to everything that Beijing wants.


The Deegong, with the newfound confidence of a bit player in the global stage, proceeded to visit China with a historic full entourage of Cabinet men, business tycoons, well-connected bureaucrats and prospective Chinese middlemen contacts. Playing this role to the hilt, he subsequently declared “the Philippines, China and Russia together against the world.” Quite a number of Filipinos cheered with a vicarious thrill over this “global triumvirate.” We can only guess Xi Jinping’s and Vladimir Putin’s thoughts on this presumptuous pronouncement by an upstart “wannabee of a country” claiming a seat at the table with the superpowers. But they were the perfect hosts, leaving the Filipino entourage to cherish the moments as “legends in our own minds.”


On his triumphant return, the Deegong brought along goodies worth an estimated $24 billion consisting of two major parts.


• $9 billion, or about P450 billion, for some 40 proposed government-to-government, or G2G projects that have been proposed to be funded with loans from China; and
• $15 billion, or about P750 billion, for 27 proposed business-to-business, or B2B projects that will come from “direct investments” of Chinese companies in partnership with Philippine companies.


As a result, a new Philippine mantra has emerged: Build! Build! Build! The ambitious and unparalleled infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration could dramatically transform our landscape as these do not merely involve infrastructure but also transportation, agriculture, and inter-island bridge systems, and even energy and manufacturing. A memorandum of understanding and joint-venture agreements were signed for loans from China worth P1.2 trillion. It is estimated that about two million jobs will be generated. Not bad, for a four-day state visit.


But then, questions began to be asked.


In its excellent research, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has identified Filipino parties involved in these deals. The information they have uncovered is rather disturbing. Twenty-two companies in the business-to-business deals have no track record in “doing big-ticket infrastructure projects”; and have inadequate operating capital and considerably small asset base. Two of the firms (Zonar Systems, MVP Global Infrastructure Ventures) only registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission after they signed MOUs with their Chinese counterparts sometime in November 2016 and January 2017. These unknown companies with multi-million-peso deals (on paper) whose “name-droppable” principals were in the entourage of PRRD to China could thus be inferred as the new cronies, “friends of the administration”. Shades of the Marcosian prototype.


Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the preferential interest rate has not yet been discussed as the Chinese do not want other countries to get jealous as it will be much lower. This is what a slick secondhand car salesman will tell you supposedly in confidence. But would you seriously want to borrow money from the bank and not discuss the interest rate?


I talked to several government and private potential business partners. Their response: the Chinese just love to sign MOUs here and MOAs there. And funds…are they in place? Nada.


These deals are simply not even in the pipeline. Which brought me to research similar deals in other countries. Sri Lanka was one of the underdeveloped countries that similarly arranged for Chinese loans. Over the years, China has provided Sri Lanka loans for infrastructure which include a deepwater port, airport and railway projects. One of these, the Hambantota deepwater port, was built with loans with interest rates of 6.3 percent per annum, compared to the World Bank’s and Asian Development Bank’s 0.25 to 3percent. Sri Lanka was unable to pay, forcing it to an onerous debt-to-equity conversion that gave Chinese firms 80 percent share (and profits, if any) of the port over the 99-year lease period. Similarly, Chinese firms took over operating and management control of the nearby Mattala Airport, also built with Chinese loans.


China’s intentions are also suspect as the Sri Lankan port and airport “provides Beijing with a strategic military position in the event of an Indian Ocean conflict and is also key for its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.”


According to knowledgeable government sources, in the proposed railways and other infra-projects for the Philippines, the joint-venture agreements call for the Chinese government to recommend three to five Chinese mainland contractors for the Philippine partners to choose from (no international public bidding); supplies and equipment must all come from China; Chinese personnel may have to be allowed to work in the projects; and accompanying long term-maintenance and service arrangements.


Shouldn’t we rethink these “soft and concessionary” loans from China in light of what we have already conceded? We have been silent and helpless on China’s encroachments on our claimed territories in the Spratlys archipelago, Reed Bank and Scarborough Shoal.


While the euphoria over this novel relationship struck with China still lingers, it may be prudent for the DU30 administration to examine more closely this new partnership lest we find ourselves later in a quandary on how to disembark from the tiger’s back. Let us learn from the lessons from past mistakes of China’s partnership with other Asian countries. We do not wish to be in any way near Sri Lanka’s fate.
Published in LML Polettiques
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 10:45

Duterte restructures NEDA, DFA, BOC offices

Administrative Order (AO) No. 8 reconstituted the composition of the NEDA Board, Executive Committee (ExCom), and the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) for a more effective and speedy approval process.


The NEDA Board, from 22 members, is now streamlined to 12 members, with the President, as Chairperson and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary, as Vice Chairperson.


The other board members are the Executive Secretary; Cabinet Secretary; Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairperson; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor; and the Secretaries of Budget and Management, Energy, Finance, Public Works and Highways, Trade and Industry, and Transportation.


Further, AO No. 8 reactivated the 6-member NEDA Board ExCom, headed by the President as Chairperson, and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary as Vice Chairperson; and restored the ICC, with the Finance and Socio-Economic Planning chiefs as Co-Chairpersons.


Parts of responsibilities of the NEDA Board ExCom are to approve development plans and programs consistent with the policies set by the President and confirm “extremely urgent” ICC-approved projects.


Meanwhile, Executive Order (EO) No. 46 reverted the post clearance audit function from the Department of Finance (DOF) Fiscal Intelligence Unit to the Bureau of Custom (BOC), in effect reviving the BOC Post Entry Audit Group and renaming it as Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG).


“The PCAG is mandated to conduct, within three (3) years from the date of final payment of duties and taxes or customs clearance, an audit examination, inspection, verification, and investigation of records pertaining to any goods declaration,” EO No. 46 stated.


The BOC-PCAG will be headed by an Assistant Commissioner of the BOC who will have direct control and supervision of PCAG’s Trade Information and Risk Analysis Office (TIRAO) and Compliance Assessment Office (CAO).


On the other hand, the defunct DOF Fiscal Intelligence Unit was instituted and renamed as Financial Analytics and Intelligence (FAI) Unit. Among its functions include revenue-related data analysis, review of fiscal matters, and policy advisory.


Bringing consular services closer to Filipinos
Meanwhile, President Duterte, through Executive Order (EO) No. 45, reorganized the field offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of Consular Affairs-consisting of the Regional Consular Offices (RCOs) and Satellite Offices (SOs)-to form the DFA Consular Offices.


“In accordance to the Duterte administration’s goal of promoting a people-centered, clean, efficient, and effective governance, including seamless service delivery. There is a need to open additional consular offices in strategic places to ensure faster processing of passports and minimize inconvenience to the DFA’s clientele,” EO No. 45 said.


A total of 27 RCOs and SOs across the country renamed as DFA Consular Offices, which functions include issuance of Philippine passports and verification for consular record documents, and provision of authentication services and assistance-to-nationals (ATN) services to Filipinos.


Additional Consular Offices may be subsequently created by the DFA, subject to a set of criteria and the President’s approval, in a bid to provide consular services to the widest possible area across the country. (PCO-Content)
Published in News
Malacañang has informed Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista that President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted his resignation, the election official announced on Monday afternoon.


Instead of being effective December 31 as he indicated in his resignation letter, Bautista said he was told that his resignation would be effective immediately.


"We refer to your letter tendering your resignation as Chairman of the Commission on Elections. Upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, I wish to inform you that your resignation is hereby accepted, effective immediately," read Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea's letter.


Bautista said he would no longer attend the Comelec's en banc meeting scheduled on Tuesday, adding that the en banc would have to decide who the acting chairman would be.


He said he had "mixed feelings" after he received the letter as he would surely miss his colleagues in the Comelec.


"Ang nakalagay (sa sulat) ay effective immediately (pagbibitiw sa puwesto). Kung ano man ang pasya ng ating Pangulo ay malugod nating tatanggapin. Mabuti rin na bigyan ng sapat na panahon yung papalit sa akin, para maging handa," Bautista said.


On October 11, the House of Representative voted to impeach Bautista, hours after he announced his resignation that was supposed to be effective by year end.


It was former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio who filed the impeachment complaint against Bautista on August 23.


The complainants accused Bautista of betrayal of public trust due to his failure to address the hacking of the Comelec website in March 2015 and for failing to properly disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.


The complainants also alleged that Bautista betrayed public trust for admitting that he had received referral fees from the Comelec's technology provider Smartmatic through the Divina Law Office, and for obstructing justice in saying that, pending investigation, the script tweak of the transparency server during the 2016 elections was "merely cosmetic."


When asked if the impeachment against him would be moot and academic, Bautista refused to comment further.


"Hayaan na natin. Sabi ko nga ayokong pangunahan ang kahit sino. 'Yun nga may sagot na ang Pangulo," Bautista said. —NB, GMA News
Published in News
The government is allocating an initial P5-billion fund that will be spent until the end of the year for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, a Civil Defense official said Monday, October 23.


Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima said a big chunk of the fund would be allotted for the relief efforts.


“Ang priority diyan ay ‘yung patuloy nating pagbibigay ng relief sa ating IDPs (internally displaced persons),” Purisima said during the regular Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.


As of latest count, he said there are more than 72,000 IDP families still housed in evacuation centers as well as those who are home-based.


Purisima added that part of the 5-billion would also be used to fund the construction of transitional shelters.


The National Housing Authority eyes to build at least 1,100 transitional shelters within the year for the Marawi City IDPs, he said, adding that displaced persons may start occupying the shelters as early as next year.


“‘Yun ang target nila doon sa unang plano. Of course, this is subject to evaluation, this is subject to revisions as needed dahil ngayon minamadali na at tinatapos na ng DPWH ‘yung site development ng lahat ng transitional shelter sites. ‘Yung six areas diyan sa transitional shelter sites,” Purisima said.


The site development continues in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City, under the leadership of the Department of Public Works and Highways.


A private company also volunteered to develop a water distribution system for the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan and has identified location for installation of deep wells.


The government also accepts donations from foreign groups and it is being handled by the Finance and Resource Mobilization Support Group. Among the donors include Thailand, India and China, he said.


To address concerns on the lack of livelihood in the temporary sites, Purisima said the government is studying possible livelihood and business opportunities for the IDPs.


“At saka alam naman natin itong transitional shelter site ay transitional, temporary lamang, ngunit bibigyan pa rin natin sila ng sense of community dito sa transitional shelter site,” he said.


“So nagpaplanong maglagay diyan ng marketplace, maaaring maglagay din diyan ng eskwelahan at health center o medical center,” he added.


Aside from the appropriate livelihood interventions, the IDPs will also be provided appropriate health and educational interventions as well.


Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed the tie-up between the Diocese of Novaliches, Quezon City and the Philippine National Police to rehabilitate drug dependents.


“The drug rehabilitation partnership agreement signed by the Diocese of Novaliches, Quezon City government, and the Philippine National Police for a community-based drug rehabilitation program in the Batasan area is a commendable move to pro-actively help the national government in the anti-illegal drug campaign,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.


“ It is hoped that this kind of partnership can be replicated by the PNP and other offices involved in the comprehensive anti-illegal drugs campaign with other Dioceses, as well as other churches and church groups in the country,” he added.


Abella noted that this kind of collaboration between the government and the Church is what the people expect, as indicated by a recent survey showing majority saying that the Catholic Church must help with the rehabilitation of drug addicts.


“The complementary work of the government and the Church in the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents must further be enhanced, particularly in areas such as restoration of mental, spiritual, and psycho-emotional health,” he added. (PND)
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