Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, May 30, 2005

Poro Point Development

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Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism, together with La Union Gov. Victor Ortega, San Fernando City Mayor Mary Jane Ortega, Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson, Poro Point Management Corporation VP Anthony Manguiat and President Juanito Antonio, examines the blueprint of the ongoing construction of a “Corral Promenade” and intended tourism, recreation and commercial complex road network at the Poro Point special economic zone in San Fernando City.
Gordon filed SB 1840, “3-2-1 Luzon Global Corridor Act,” which aims to utilize and maximize the country’s infrastructure assets such as airports, seaports, railways and highways to accommodate industrial, agricultural, tourism and other enterprises.
By: Jo Anne T. Papa

The fate of Kate

As fate or luck would have it, Kate Gordon, wife of Sen. Richard Gordon, who lost her congressional bid last year, may take on another job.

A mole in Malacañang hinted that Kate may replace Freddie Antonio as general manager and chief executive officer of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority

The SBMA is a big mess organizationally. President Arroyo convinced Khiko Licuanan, that genius of a land developer, to be chairman. He has been reduced to presiding officer because the executive functions were all lumped in the general manager’s desk.

Then, the President appointed Retired General Jose Calimlim as the anti-smuggling czar in that special economic zone. He has to approve all imports including products that are produced here in abundance.

The positions of chairman, general manager and anti-smuggling czar underscore the extent of smuggling in Subic. And how the government is looking the other way in spite of frequent declarations of “death smugglers.”

Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time.”
BUSINESS CIRCIUT

SERYOSONG KAMPANYA LABAN SA KRIMINALIDAD

Sa tuluy-tuloy na pagsusumikap ng lokal na pamahalaan na sugpuin ang lahat ng uri ng kriminalidad sa lungsod, mabilis na tumugon an gating mga masisigasig na Kapulisan.

Bilang resulta, pitong hinihinalang drug pushers, anim na may kaso ng pagnanakaw (theft,robbery at snatching). At isang may kaso ng rape, ang iniharap kay Mayor Bong Gordon ng Olongapo Police sa pamumuno ni Olongapo PNP City Director Sr. Supt. Flor Buentipo.

Ilan sa kanila ay kinilalang sina Eddie Echeverri (theft), Sonny Rosuelo (theft),
Albert Ariño (robbery/snatching), Jesus Gaballa (robbery/snatching), Ernesto Evalle (theft), Jamis Mulawan, Zaida Isumba (drug pusher), Diamara Abdul Rahiman (drug pusher), Josephine Arce (drug pusher), Jennifer Linic (drug pusher), at Domino Calansanan (drug pusher).

Parang ama na pinagsabihan ni Mayor Bong Gordon ang mga criminal at tinawag silang “mga gumagawa ng kasalanan sa bayan.” Kinundena niya nag mga krimenna kanilang ginawa ngunit sinabihan niya nag mga ito sa pwede pa ring magbagong-buhay at sa halip na gumawa ng masama ay magsipag at magsikap sa pamamagitan ng mga livelihood programs na proyekto ng lokal na pamahalaan.

Pinuri ni Mayor bong Gordon si Col. Flor Buentipo, kasama ang kapulisan, sa kanilang pagiging alerto at pagpupursige para masugpo at maagapan nag mga kriminalidad sa ating lipunan.

Ayon kay Col. Buentipo, ang kampanyang ito laban sa Kriminalidad ay mahigpit na pinag-uutos ni Mayor Bong Gordon sa kapulisan. Kaya’t laging maagap ang pag-aksyon ng mga pulis na nag-resulta sa pagkakahuli ng mga kriminal na kanilang iniharap.

Bilang huling pananalita, sinabi ni Mayor Bong Gordon na ”para sa kabutihan ng Olongapo ang ginagawa nating pag-sasaayos ng peace and order. Dahil kung mapayapa dito sa ating lungsod papasok ang negosyo at lalakas ang turismo, at lahat tayo ay makikinabang. Kaya’t maging matuwid na kayo,” patungkol niya sa mga nahuling salarin.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

POEA announces job openings for Macau, HK Disneyland

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Friday announced the opening of 100,000 employment opportunities in Hong Kong Disneyland and 200 job openings in Macau.

POEA administrator Rosalinda D. Baldoz said most of the job openings for Hong Kong Disneyland are for professional ballet dancers and singers that will play Disney characters at theme park’s shows.

"Interested applicants can apply online at the theme park’s website at www.hongkongdisneyland.com. I believe they do their recruitment via teleconferencing," Baldoz said in a DZMM interview.

She added that HK Disneyland has yet to accredit a local agency to provide workers for the theme park.

She said Macau is also looking for 200 skilled workers to fill various job vacancies including gaming supervisory positions, security guards, hotel workers, medical workers, pharmacists and university instructors.

She added that a full listing of available overseas job openings is available on the POEA website (www.poea.gov.ph).

She said a local agency, Ad International with telephone number 813-3000, handles all the recruitment for Macau.

Subic firms to help public-school system


By Malou Dungog, MT Central Luzon Bureau

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: The Department of Education asked businessmen in the Subic Bay area to support the department’s “Adopt-A-School” program.

The program aims to enlist the help of private institutions and individuals in upgrading the public school system.

Education Secretary Florencio Abad made the appeal during a meeting with businessmen in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Representatives Antonio Roman of Bataan and Mitos Magsaysay of the First District of Zambales hosted the meeting, which was attended by executives of the SBMA, the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce, Taiwanese, Japanese and American investors in the SBMA, and teachers and principals from Bataan and Zambales.

“Since the government cannot provide adequate funding required in making our public schools competitive, the private sector should recognize its role... in improving the public school system,” Abad told the gathered businessmen and officials.

He said since the country’s educational system is in a crisis, businesses in the Subic Bay area should help provide quality education to children around the Freeport.

“Your investment in the Department of Education will come back to you in the form of more competent graduates that will man your companies,” he said.

The DepEd, Abad said, needs help in building more schools and libraries, training better teachers, developing laboratories, purchasing computers and feeding school children.

Abad said donors to the program will get tax exemptions and deductions. Since businesses in the Freeport enjoy tax privileges, their employees will receive the tax exemptions instead. The two congressmen said they would refer the matter to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Gary Mendoza, president of the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce, said his organization will do what it can to help uplift the quality of education around the Freeport.

Jeff Lin, head of the Subic Bay Development and Management Corp., also pledged support for the program even if donors do not receive anything in return

Saturday, May 28, 2005

GORDON WOWS VOLUNTEERS IN SINGAPORE

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Senator Richard Gordon shares how, more than a decade ago, the Volunteers of Subic transformed the former US military bases into an economic zone and how he had to change not just the mindsets of the people but their very soul. Gordon was invited as keynote speaker in the 5th Conference on Volunteerism organized by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre of Singapore. The former Olongapo Mayor and founding Chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority inspired hundreds of local and international volunteers who attended the two-day conference held at the Raffles City Convention Center in Singapore.
Jo Anne Papa

NBI, police nab American, Canadian for cybersex den

By Joey Aguilar, Central Luzon Bureau

ANGELES CITY: The authorities on Thursday arrested here an American and Canadian for allegedly running a cybersex den in popular Barangay Balibago.

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation and the police arrested the Canadian Derek Durbin, 47, and Clayton Haumea, 61, an American, after they found equipment linking the two to the pornographic website, www.chathostess.com.

The policemen, led by Special Investigator Isaac Carpeso Jr., found the equipment atop the Dollhouse Bar on Fields Avenue in Balibago, but failed to find the cybersex den where Filipino women perform sex shows to transmission to the Internet.

On the strength of a search warrant issued by Judge Bernardita Gabitan Erum of Branch 61 of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court, the policemen seized a wireless antenna, cable and DSL router from Durbin and Haumea.

Durbin and Haumea allegedly operated the cybersex den somewhere in Balibago but used a wireless external antenna to upload their sex shows in the Internet.

Operating a cybersex violates Article 201(2)(b) of the Revised Penal Code, or the pornography law. The suspects were brought to Manila for further investigation.

A source, who asked not to be named, said that another cybersex den is allegedly being operated at Mountain View Subdivision in Balibago with its recruitment office at the Gloans Building on Sto. Rosario Street.

On January 22 Jimmy Restua, former Angeles City Police chief, led a raid on a cybersex den at Diamond Subdivision in Balibago, where 17 computers were seized.

The computers bore the label “JC” and police believed that the initials stand for Jade Cool, an Internet café and restaurant on Fields Avenue, owned by a certain Mark Smith, which suddenly closed in 2002.

Sources said Smith and his partners had a rift but the café’s closure came amid complaints from women’s groups that it was operating a cybersex den.

Investigators said Smith is a well-known figure on Fields Avenue because he owns the Roadhouse Bar and is an official of the Bahay Bata Center for children in Barangay Cuayan

Friday, May 27, 2005

You’ll keep incentives, ecozone investors told

By MARK LOUIE ROXAS and JOEY AGUILAR, The Manila Times Central Luzon Bureau

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga - A Palace aide allayed on Thursday the fears of investors at the Clark Economic Zone that they would be liable for back taxes following a Supreme Court decision nullifying the tax exemptions granted to economic zone locators.

Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan, presidential adviser for external affairs, said investors at Clark Field and other economic zones need not fear having to pay back taxes covering nine years because the government is ready to condone the taxes and incentives granted to them.

The Court on March 29 affirmed its October 23, 2003, decision that Section 3 of Proclamation 420 was null and void because the Bases Conversion Development Authority charter (R.A. 7227) granted tax exemptions only to the Subic Special Economic Zones to be created at the time via presidential proclamation.

The Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDC) appealed the decision on March 5.

The Supreme Court decision stirred fears among investors, particularly those at Clark Field, that they might have to pay nine years in back taxes.

"The government is doing its best so as not to affect the fiscal incentives of investors at Clark and other special economic zones," Pamintuan said.

According to him, R.A. 7227 will be amended so that investors in all economic zones in the country will enjoy the benefits and privileges enjoyed by investors in the Subic special economic zone.

Pamintuan said President Arroyo will certify the measure as urgent and will be part of a legislative initiative to consolidate investment incen

John Hay developer billed P72 million in unpaid duties

By Thomas F. Picana, MT Northern Luzon Bureau Chief
BAGUIO CITY: The Bureau of Customs slapped the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDC) on Thursday an assessment for unpaid import duties and taxes from 1998 to 2004 amounting to P71.98 million.

The assessment came in the heels of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s denial of CJHDC’s request for authority to print non-VAT receipts and invoices.

The customs and the internal revenue bureaus cited the Supreme Courts’ March 29 resolution affirming an earlier decision to nullify tax and duty exemptions the Camp John Hay special economic zone.

“This proves that we are not hiding behind the Court ruling. The impact of the Cour’s decision is immediate and real,” said the lawyer Gina Alvarez.

Alvarez claimed the assessment proves that BCDA had allegedly reneged on its assurance of a 5 percent gross-income incentive in its lease agreement.

“With this mounting tax problem, BCDA can rest assured that CJHDC will seek indemnification. We will pursue all legal steps to protect our rights as spelled out in our lease agreement,” Alvarez added.

The Court’s decision spurred the City Treasurer’s Office of Baguio City to assess CJHDC in January with some P101.93 million in real-estate taxes since the developer took over the 246-hectare Camp John Hay property in 1996.

In its assessment letter dated May 26, Customs District Collector Edward O. Baltazar asked CJHDC to settle the back duties within 15 days.

“BCDA has accused us of employing `scare tactics.’ Isn’t it more frightening when the business sector, including the public in general, could not count on the government to honor its word? Isn’t it the mother of all scares when, after failing to honor its word, government threatens an illegal takeover?” Alvarez said.

He was referring to the BCDA’s announcement that it was seriously considering a takeover of Camp John Hay.

But Rep. Mauricio Domogan of Baguio City said the takeover plan was ill-advised, saying, “Takeover is easier said than done. I still believe Camp John Hay is better managed by the private sector.”

Meanwhile, the City Council of Baguio, concerned over the controversy, conducted on Monday an inquiry into the Camp John Hay row

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

BCDA commits P30 M for Olongapo flood control


OLONGAPO CITY – The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has committed P30 million to the city’s flood-control program despite an existing memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Roctagon Corp. that guarantees accomplishment of the same project at no cost to the government.

Resolution No. 34-05 of the sangguniang panlungsod, which authorizes Mayor James Gordon Jr. to enter into a contract with the BCDA, states that the city government obtained the P30 million through the mayor’s efforts, and that the BCDA has already certified the availability of funds.

A source at the City Hall confirmed that a relative of the mayor in the BCDA board of directors was also instrumental in securing the funds.

When asked to make a comment, Vice Mayor Rolen Paulino said everybody seems to know about the MoA except the BCDA, “Signed by DPWH Regional Director Ramon Aquino and approved by Secretary florante Soriquez, it contains Roctagon’s detailed proposal to dredge not only Kalaklan River but also the canals emptying into the Subic Bay for free,” he said.

Roctagon Corp., it was learned, is one of the sub-contractors for the container port at the Leyte pier in Subic. (RM)

Workers displaced by tax imposed on second-hand vehicles

The Philippine Star 05/25/2005

President Arroyo’s order imposing a P500,000 special tax on imported second-hand vehicles threatens to displace 8,000 workers in the Subic Freeport area, according to a Zambales congresswoman.

In a privilege speech on Monday night, Rep. Milagros Magsaysay said Executive Order 418 is killing the second-hand motor vehicle industry and rendering about 8,000 people directly employed by it jobless.

"These are painters, mechanics, tinsmiths, converters, air-conditioner technicians, upholsterers, electricians and laborers. The future is bleak for them because the government wants people to buy brand-new vehicles, which they cannot afford," she said.

She said the workers come not only from her province but also from Bataan, Pampanga and neighboring areas.

She said imposing a P500,000 special tax on top of Customs duties for every second-hand vehicle brought into the country through Subic and other free ports makes such vehicles unaffordable by ordinary and middle-class Filipinos.

Since the President issued the order more than a month ago, Subic importers have been forced to close shop one by one and lay off workers, she added.

She stressed that the only people pleased by the presidential directive are the so-called local car assemblers who, she said, do not really assemble their vehicles here but instead import them as CBUs (completely built units) from Thailand.

Even the batteries and tires of these supposedly locally assembled cars are made in Thailand and are not produced by Filipino workers as assemblers claim, she said.

Magsaysay also denounced Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina for his alleged arrogance.

She said Lina, in a meeting with Subic importers last May 13, denigrated Filipinos who cannot afford to buy expensive brand-new cars.

She quoted the commissioner as telling importers who complained that the P500,000 tax would make second-hand vehicles unaffordable by their customers: "If they don’t have enough money, then they should walk. They should save first so they can buy brand-new cars. If you don’t agree with me, file a case in court!"

She said by his remarks, Lina has displayed disrespect for people of modest means who diligently save whatever they can to buy cars, even if second-hand, for their families.

She pointed out that these people still would not be able to afford brand-new cars, even if the government succeeds in killing the second-hand motor vehicle industry. — Jess Diaz

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New US envoy gets RP approval

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo yesterday said the Philippines has accepted Ambassador Cameron Hume as the next US envoy to Manila, replacing Francis Ricciardone.
Romulo confirmed reports of the US state department’s nomination of Hume, the current US envoy to South Africa, as the next ambassador to Manila.

Romulo however clarified that Hume’s name still has to be submitted to the US Senate for confirmation.

"I don’t think he would like to come here until his designation is confirmed," he said.
"Until the official submission of Hume’s name, both Hume and Ricciardone will have to stay in the sidelines."

Hume is an acknowledged conflict resolution expert.

Hume was named US envoy to South Africa in November 2001.

Although not familiar with Asia, Hume has links with the US Institute of Peace (USIP).

Hume’s first ambassadorial post was in Algeria from 1997 to 2000. He was deputy chief of mission at the Vatican from 1991 to 1994.

He has an extensive background in the US mission at the United Nations, where he served as minister-counselor for political affairs for three years, beginning in 1994. He was also tapped as adviser and then senior adviser on the Middle East in 1990.

A graduate of Princeton University and American University School of Law, Hume joined the Foreign Service in 1970.

He is married and has four daughters.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

SUBIC BAY FLIGHTS

SUBIC LEGEND RESORTS & CASINOS Domestic & International Flights Manila / Subic Bay / Guangzhou
We are pleased to offer air tickets for the following destinations at special rates valid until 26 June 2005

Route Freq ETD / ETA Flight No.

SFS/MNL MON 0340/0410 5J 1105
SFS/MNL FRI 0240/0310 5J 1105
SFS/MNL FRI 1930/2000 2P 1137 *

MNL/SFS THU 1500/1530 5J 1104
MNL/SFS SUN 1520/1550 5J 1104
MNL/SFS SUN 1530/1605 2P 1136 *

CAN/SFS FRI 1630/1840 2P 1137 *
SFS/CAN SUN 1700/1910 2P 1136 *

2P Airfare Insurance Terminal Fee
SFS/MNL USD 8 USD 6 Php 50
MNL/SFS USD 8 USD 6 Php 100

CAN/SFS USD 180 USD 4 RMB 90
SFS/CAN USD 180 USD 6 Php 500

5J Airfare Insurance Terminal Fee
SFS/MNL Php 500 Php 250 Php 50
MNL/SFS Php 500 Php 250 Php 100

+ FUEL CHARGE Php 200 on Cebu Pacific
Reservation & ticketing through Cebu Pacific T: (02) 636-4938

* With surcharge fee on Public Holidays * Subject to final confirmation of chartered flights (Should flights be cancelled due to unforseen circumstances liability is limited only to full refund of payment made ). * Terms & Conditions Apply
*For inquiries and reservation, please call: SUBIC OFFICE : T (47) 252-1888 loc. 1823 / 1018/ F (47) 252-2596

Businessmen urge Arroyo to support SM Clark project

By Mark Louie Roxas, Central Luzon Bureau

ANGELES CITY: Businessmen in Central Luzon have urged President Arroyo to persuade her cabalens here to help alleviate the acute unemployment problem in the region, especially in communities around the Clark Special Economic Zone

Romy P. Yusi Sr., regional governor for Central Luzon of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., asked the President to ignore the city council’s demand to suspend the construction of the SM Clark mega mall project pending a review of the mall contract.

Yusi, concurrent chair of the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, scored the city councilors for unnecessarily delaying the construction of the mall through a council resolution seeking another review of the contract that allowed the establishment of the giant mall near the main gate of Clark Special Economic Zone.

Work on the P500-million shopping started soon after the Clark Development Corp. board approved the contract.

“Angeles City officials, especially its lawmaking body, should hasten the take-off of huge investments, like the SM mall, and enable thousands of jobless or underemployed residents to find jobs to stave off growing despair and poverty,” Yusi said

Citing the high unemployment rate in Pampanga, the local business leader expressed alarm over the mounting unemployed college graduates in Angeles City and its suburbs, many of them jobless for almost five years.

Yusi said SM mall developers should be allowed to continue the construction of the mall which will bring lasting economic benefit to the local populace.

“As has been estimated by studies that the SM mall at Clark will
create jobs for at least 12,000 individuals, both direct and indirect. I dare the city councilors who are opposing the Clark mall to provide an alternative project, with similar economic impact and scope of benefits,” Yusi said.

Yusi reported that about 5,000 job applicants from Angeles City,

Mabalacat and Metro Clark have been anticipating the opening of the mall.

Oct 31, Nov 28 & Dec 26 non-working holidays

Malacañan has declared October 31, November 28 and December 26 as special non-working holidays, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Friday.

Under Proclamation 839, the three dates, which all fall on a Monday, are declared special non-working holidays. November 1, All Saints' Day, and November 30, Bonifacio Day, will be regular working days.

All activities and celebrations in observance of Bonifacio Day will be conducted on November 30, Bunye said.

December 25, Christmas Day, falls on a Sunday this year.

Under President Arroyo's "holiday economics", Mondays preceding or following an official holiday are declared as a holiday.

Bunye said the early announcement would allow employers to plan work schedules accordingly.

Friday, May 20, 2005

P22-B Subic-Clark-Tarlac tollway project hits new snag

By Ding Cervantes

MABALACAT, Pampanga — The much-delayed P22-billion Subic-Clark-Tarlac tollway project is facing another snag after this town’s mayor stopped the construction of spur roads here the other day "in the interest of the public and the local government."

Mayor Marino Morales said he did so after learning that the Japanese contractor tasked to build a portion of the 93.77-kilometer tollway scrapped from the project design the exit and entry spur roads connecting the tollway to his town.

Work on the rest of the tollway has yet to start. But the construction of the spur roads began last month since the project was initiated way back during the term of former President Fidel Ramos as part of his programs for the Independence Centennial in 1998.

The spur roads are considered a vital component of the tollway which would extend from the Subic Freeport to the Luisita economic zone in Tarlac.

"The original design of the spur roads provides entrances and exits at the Clark special economic zone and on the Mac—Arthur Highway in Barangay Mabiga, but the builder, the Hazama-Taisei-Nippon Steel consortium, is now bent on changing this by removing the ingress and egress to the barangay," Morales said.

He said the local economy would likely suffer if the tollway bypasses the town’s commercial area in Barangay Mabiga.

He said the Japanese consortium also failed to consult them on the spur roads’ construction.

"The interest of the public and the local government of Mabalacat should prevail in the construction of these support facilities. We do not want to sacrifice the economic development of (our) town so we want to see the project design to make sure that we are not bypassed," he said.

He said a local government has the authority to cancel such projects under Section 301 of the National Building Code.

Meanwhile, Antonio Rex Chan, vice president for operations of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), earlier said the Subic-Clark-Tarlac tollway project was expected to start full-blast after its Japanese contractor would have completed its geographical survey in three to four months.

Chan told The STAR that the BCDA’s finance department has issued a certificate of availability of funds, the final requirement for the tollway project to finally push through.

He said the certification means that the P18-billion soft loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the government’s counterpart fund of 15 percent of the project’s P22-billion cost — or nearly P5 billion — are now available.

The BCDA has obtained loans from Banco de Oro and the Development Bank of the Philippines for the counterpart fund.

The JBIC loan has an interest of only .9 percent annually and is payable in 40 years, Chan said.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Congress probe on import of brand-new vehicles sought

Group raises issue of undervaluation and low price tags


By JONAS REYES, MB


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT— A business group based here is seeking a congressional investigation on the alleged violations of the Customs and Tariff Code by dealers of imported, brand-new vehicles.


The results of the probe could be made basis of measures that Congress could pass to generate revenues for the government, the group said.

Peter Geroue, president of the Motor Vehicle Importers Association (MVIA), urged Congress to investigate reports that billions of pesos in revenues were lost due to alleged tax fraud committed through undervaluation of imported brand-new vehicles.

He said that thousands of completely built units (CBUs) or brand-new vehicles have been arriving at the Port of Batangas with "questionable price tags" that serve as basis for the computation of Customs taxes and duties.

The MVIA sent recently a team to observe the unloading, tax processing and issuance of exit permit of imported brand-new vehicles of popular brands at the Port of Batangas.

Based on the team’s report, 82 pick-up trucks imported from Thailand were unloaded at Batangas port last April 21 with questionable purchase values at the point of origin.

A local dealer of pick-up trucks paid total taxes and duties of R15 million or about R182,000 per unit based on the official computation of the Bureau of Customs office at the Batangas port.

"This tax-payment scheme for brand-new car importers is definitely unfair for us second-hand car importers who will be obliged to pay an additional R500,000 specific tax on top of the existing Customs duties and taxes when Executive Order No. 418 takes effect," Geroue said.

Geroue criticized the government’s unjustifiable protection of local car assemblers and importers of brand-new vehicles who are paying comparatively low taxes for every imported CBU.

He said that imported brand-new vehicles arriving in the country do not have local labor component, unlike the second-hand vehicles that undergo intensive labor before reaching the street.

The CBUs are delivered directly to car dealers and display rooms for sale, he noted.

"It would be improper and suspicious for brand-new car importers to claim that workers in automotive industry would lose their jobs when in fact completely built brand-new vehicles are being shipped to the country," Geroue said, reacting to a privileged speech delivered by Akbayan Rep. Loretta Rosales.

The second-hand motor vehicle industry, Geroue said, employs thousands of workers such as auto mechanics, electricians, tinsmiths and painters who have reiterated their appeal to the government to prevent their dislocation that comes as a result of the ban on the entry of right-hand-drive vehicles.

REP. DIAZ on 7-digit offer to Ana Leah: ‘Ano ka hilo?’

By: ZALDY DE LAYOLA

“ANO ka hilo?”
This was the reaction of Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz on claims of Viva Hot Babes Ana Leah Javier that she was offered a “7-digit” offer or from P1 million to P9.99 million if she would drop her cases of sexual harassment and oral defamation against the congressman.

In an interview, Diaz, 77, said Javier’s story was but a big illusion.

He maintained innocence on the accusations hurled against him by Javier and co-complainant Ma. Remedios Baby Bueno Coady.

“Bakit ko siya bibigyan ng milyon? Ano siya hilo. Napakaswerte naman niya. Wala akong kasalanan kaya hindi ako papasok sa anumang kompromiso,” Diaz reasoned.

But the solon, in what appeared to be slip of the tongue, accidentally mentioned to reporters that his cousin, Zambales Gov. Vic Magsaysay was talking with the complainant on his behalf.

In a follow-up question, he quickly explained that Magsaysay was doing it on his own.

He said did not persuade the governor to make any deal or compromise for him regarding the case.

“Nakikipag-usapan si Gov. Magsaysay sa kanila para sa akin. Pero hindi ko alam iyon at kung mayroon compromise,” Diaz added.

Javier, however, said she would ask for a reconsideration on the House Committee on ethics’ decision to suspend the probe pending a litigation into the same cases likely to ensue in proper court.

Javier insisted that someone from the Diaz camp really informed her of the offer in exchange for their silence.

But she did not specify who this someone was.

“We were offered talaga, seven digits iyon pero hindi kami nakapagdesisyon,” Javier reiterated.

Before the alleged 7-digit offer, Diaz camp reportedly induced Coady of a P150,000 offer but the latter declined it.

Javier, a self-confessed sexual molestation victim of Diaz when she was still 16 years old, filed the case with the Department of Justice and Commission of Human Rights for violation (a), RA 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 and Grave Oral Defamation penalized under the Revised Penal Code.

Rich S’poreans to invest in Subic

By LANE AFABLE

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT- A group of five Singaporean businessmen recently came here to explore possible business opportunities that would further enhance Singapore’s external economic wing

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Alfredo C. Antonio said, “We are pleased and willing to help Singapore’s foreign business ventures by showing them that Subic Bay is a place where they can put up their business with affordable but highly-skilled labor.”

“Subic is more than equipped to house expatriates coming in from Singapore, offering not just a business site, but also a place with educational facilities for their children, as well as recreational and tourist spots, and other community amenities for their families” he added.

The Commercial Division of Singapore , represented by the International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), is the lead agency spearheading Singapore’s effort to develop its external economic wing.

The IE Singapore delegation, led by Director Yew Sung Pei of the Southeast Asia Division and Center Division and Center Director Jason Leong of Manila Office, was accompanied by Singaporean executives based in Manila

Among those in the delegation were Arthur Gindap, Area General Manager of Sommerset Millennium; KC Chan, Managing Director of Bousted Technologies; Leo Querubin, General Manager of Crimson Logic Philippines Inc., Victor Liu General Manager of Jurong Consultants (Phils) Corporation and Bernard Tan, Senior Project Engineer of Lantro Phils., Inc.

IE Singapore works closely with agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry, Board of Investments, and the Bureau of International Relations to promote trade and bilateral ties between Philippines and Singapore.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ana Leah chose honor over P1-M

By Paul Rosario

SEXY Starlet Ana Leah Javier yesterday revealed she chose honor over a P1 million settlement dangled before her in exchange of dropping sexual harassment charges filed against Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz.

However, show promoter Remedios Coady, alias baby Bueno, has reportedly dropped the separate case against Diaz for allegedly subjecting her to verbal abuse.

“It’s not about money,” Javier answered to queries from reporters as to her reason for rejecting the offer fir settlement of the case.

Javier, a member of the Viva Hot Babes, refused to identify who made the attempt to broke the settlement saying the offer was a “seven digit figure.”

“I was told to name my prize but I am pursuing this case until it is resolve,” the pretty actress stressed.

It was her manager, Annie Ayroso, who spilled the beans on the issue when she admitted that Coady made the offer.

Coady reportedly invited Javier and Ayroso several times to a dinner so they could discussed the details of the proposed settlement.

Javier filed before the Department of Justice charges of sexual harassment and slander against Diaz for allegedly trying to force sex with him, then subjected her to verbal abuse at the solon’s beach resort in Iba Zambales last January 20.

A separate administrative case was filed by the actress and Coady before the Committee on Ethics which decided yesterday to defer the proceeding to give way to the resolution of the criminal complaints.

Javier arrived a few minutes after the House hearing was adjourned by committee chairman Rep. Roberto Cajes for non-appearance of all parties involved.

Cajes said the committee secretary has informed the House panel that Coady had aired her intentions to withdraw the complaint against Diaz.

After being informed of Coady’s decisions, Javier commented that she had anticipated the moved, apparently as a result of the show promoters alleged attempt to broke her the settlement of the case.

“I felt very bad. Ano naman ang intensiyon niya (Coady)? Siya naman nag-umpisa nito, pero hindi ako aatras,” Javier vowed.

Her counsel, lawyer Rey Dinsay, said they intend to seek a reconsideration of the Ethics panel’s decisions to defer the proceedings pending the decision on the DOJ cases.

Dinsay said Cajes has asked him to choose which of the two proceedings-the administrative and the criminal – his client will pursue.

The Ethics panel rules stated that no two proceedings on a similar issue will be entertained in order to protect a respondent lawmaker from harassment charges.

Taiwan mission explores Subic opportunities


Taiwan Economic Minister Mei-Yueh Ho will lead major Taiwanese businessmen in exploring expansion opportunities in Subic special economic zone.

Ho is leading 50 businessmen from Taiwan and will be here in the country for three days.

During the visit, Ho and his delegation will be briefed on the country economic situation particularly its investment climate.

The delegation will determine the complementarities between the two countries.

In particular, the delegation will visit Subic Freeport to explore opportunities there as well as meet existing Taiwanese locators in the Freeport.

In Subic, Ho is invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of Taiwanese Pao-An company manufacturing plant.

Pao-An is investing $20 million for the manufacture of gas-related products for the exports market.

Among the Taiwanese government owned corporations in Ho’s delegation and Taiwan Power Co., China Steel Corp., Taiwan Sugar Corp. and Chinese Petroleum Corp.

Chief executive officers of firms engaged in semiconductor, integrated circuits, electronics, machinery sectors have joined the delegation to prepare for investment feasibility studies.

More flights in Subic Int’l Airport seen

By Lane Afable

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT- More domestic and international flights are expected to use the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) after the scheduled activation of the newly installed Instrument Landing System (ILS) pushed through last week.

The ILS would enhance the aircraft and passenger safety standards of the air navigation facility here.

The new ILS was certified and inaugurated in simple ceremonies Friday afternoon and was used for the first time during a scheduled flight arrival of a CR Airways plane from Hong Kong.

Leading the ceremonies were Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator and CEO Alfredo C. Antonio, Air Traffic Office (ATO) Assistant Secretary Neal Jatico, and key officials of the SBMA and the SBIA.

Antonio said Subic airport is now more “aircraft-friendly” since a new ILS system was installed at Runway 07 was repositioned.

The upgrade was made possible under the facilities lease operating agreement between the SBMA and FedEx Express, the worlds largest express transportation company.

“Subic has friendlier skies today. That’s the net effect of the recent upgrade and were banking on this to bring us more business because we know that passengers, as well as airline companies, put a premium on their safety,” Antonio said.

With the new ILS system, any aircraft, big or small, can land at Subic even under stormy conditions. This won’t be possible in ordinary airports,” Antonio added.

According to SBMA manager Marcelo Santos, the new system has been “flight checked” by the Air Transportation Office and is now operational.

Santos also clarified that the new ILS installed in Subic is a global air navigation electronic facility designed for precision approach and landing.

Installed by Airways New Zealand, which provides air control services worldwide, the new ILS is said to provide “the highest level of system integrity and availability.”

HALF-M00N BEACH DECLARED ECO-TOURISM SITE

“ACCRETED AREAS” NG HALF MOON BEACH: PAGDEKLARANG ECO-TOURISM SITE, OK KAY DENR USEC. GEROCHI

Walang nakikitang dahilan si Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Usec. Manuel Gerochi upang tutulan ang pagdeklara sa Half Moon Beach o kilala ring “Kale” Beach, partikular ang “accreted” areas nito bilang Eco-Tourism site.

Ang “accretion” ay mga natural formation dala ng kalikasan tulad ng nangyari sa Half Moon Beach kung saan napadpad ang maraming ash fall ng Bulkang Pinatubo at nagresulta sa paghawak ng dalampasigan.

“Mabuti at made-develop” ani Gerochi, na dumating sa Olongapo upang maglinaw ng ilang isyu kaugnay ng Mass Land Titling Program ng pamahalaang lungsod.

Magugunita kamakailan ay idineklara ng Sangguniang Panlungsod ang mahigit na anim na ektaryang “accreted” areas ng Half Moon Beach bilang Eco-Tourism Site.

Tinutulan ito ni Kgd. Noel Atienzana na nag-mistulang nag-abogado para sa isang pribadong pamilya.

Nilinaw naman ng mga Administration Councilors na ang kanilang layunin ay mapakinabangan ng mga mamamayan ang pag-aari ng pamahalaan.

Ayon kay City Legal Officer Atty. Lito Orozco ayon sa batas, anumang “accretion” o “accreted areas” ay pag-aari ng pamahalaan.
- - - = - - -
JOB FAIR, DINAGSA NG MGA APLIKANTE
Samantala, ginanap noong May 13, 2005 ang isang matagumpay na JOB FAIR sa Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center. Ito ay nagsimula ng alas otso ng umaga hanggang alas-singko ng hapon.

Dinaluhan ng 1,356 na mga aplikanteng nagsumite ng kanilang mga aplikasyon sa iba’t-ibang kumpanya na kinabibilangan ng TIPCO, Health Spa, Green Fields, Expercs Int’l, Krisalis, Emerald Int’l Manpower Services, Pisces, Starline at France Asia Int’l, pure Bliss, Krypton at iba pa.

Ang proyektong ito ay inhatid ni Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr., Sa pakikipagtulungan ng DOLE at ng Olongapo City Labor Center.

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Singapore firms plan more investments in Subic freeport


FIVE Singaporean firms have expressed interest in pouring additional investments at the Subic Bay Freeport after conducting an economic mission recently, according to a report issued by the freeport.

The report said that the delegation, led by Yew Sung Pei, director of the International Enterprise Singapore, visited the freeport to look for possible ventures and was satisfied with what it saw.

The delegation comprised of representatives from Sommer­set Millennium, Bous­ted Technologies, Crimson Logic, Ju­rong Consultants and Lantro Philippines Inc.

Alfredo Antonio, administrator at Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, welcomed the interest shown by the Singaporean delegation.

Singapore is one of the Philippines’ major trading partners.

In 2003 total exports to the Lion City amounted to $2.455 billion, or about 7 percent of the Philippines’ total exports to the United States, based on data from the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion.

Of the total exports to Singapore, electronic products accounted for the biggest share at $2.1 billion. The Philippines shipped semiconductor components amounting to $1.9 billion. Petrochemical shipments to the island-state accounted for $3.9 million of the Philippines’ total exports.

The trade in electronics between the two countries remains a key driver for economic growth, and accounts for more than 70 percent of bilateral trade. This is due to the complementary relationship between the two in the electronics manufacturing chain.
--Niel V. Mugas

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

NPA hits Zambales informer

San Felipe, Zambales, the police reported that barangay councilor Jesus Alferos of Barangay Maloma was shot dead as he was resting at a wedding party on Sunday evening.

Senior Insp. Quintin Mascarina, the San Felipe chief of police, said barangay official Fernando Bactad, who witnessed Alferos’ killing, was also shot in the chest.

In a report to Senior Supt. Edgardo Ladao, the Zambales provincial police chief, Mascarina said Alferos was at a wedding shower at Sitio Sagpat in Barangay Maloma when he decided to rest in his parked tricycle at about 10 p.m. Sunday after he had too much to drink.

While sleeping, suspected NPA hit men shot the victim several times on the chest using a .45-caliber pistol. He was taken to the San Marcelino District Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. A bullet hit his heart causing his immediate death.

Bactad, on the other hand, was shot in the foot using a .38-caliber revolver after he witnessed Alferos’ killing. He was taken to Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital in Iba, Zambales, for treatment.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Listing in local offices on today for ’07 elections

Registration of new voters will start today all over the country under the continuing registration law, (Comelec) announced yesterday.

Registration will be open to all qualified new voters in Comelec offices located in municipal buildings in the country, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos said.

This will give the Comelec sufficient time to check on the registration of voters and prepare the list to be used in the next elections in 2007, when the nation will vote for all local officials as well as all congressmen and half the members of the Senate.

Abalos urged all qualified new voters --- those who have just come of age and others who are not yet in the voters’ list --- to go out and register starting today. The registration will be held until 2007.

He warned, however, that the poll body will strictly monitor double registrants and file appropriate charges against them. Double registrants will face a jail term of one to six years and will be perpetually disqualified from exercising the right of suffrage, he said.

Abalos said those who had already addressed the shortcomings in its system to ensure a smooth flow in the registration and to prevent double registration.

“There will no longer be any confusion this time in connection with the registration and validation because we have taken steps to correct our past errors,” he said in 2003, confusion arose because the same application form was used for both the registration and the validation.

“Now there would be no more confusion because we will now use different colored forms for registration and validation,” he said.

The Comelec has furnished election officers with a general list of registrants, enabling them to check from the list if an applicant had previously registered.

The poll body is expecting the list of voters to increase by at least 10 percent each year, he said.
Comelec records showed that in 2003, there were some 94,260 individuals in the National Capital Region alone who registered more than once.
Manila Bulletin

EDUKASYON PRAYORIDAD NG GAPO

Suportado ni Mayor Bong Gordon

Nakaharap ni DepEd Secretary Florencio B. Abad sa FMA Hall ng City Hall ang grupo ng mga opisyales at kawani ng Teachers’ Club Presidents, Principals and Supervisor’ Group kasama ang Local Government Unit (LGU) sa Olongapo City para sa isang pagtitipon.

Layon nito na ipaalam ang mga programa at proyekto ng departamento sa lungsod upang sa gayo’y makaagapay ang Palasyo ng Malacañang sa pamamagitan ni Secretary Abad. “Mahalaga ang partisipasyon ng LGU’s sa pagpapalaganap ng edukasyon at upang maitaas ang kalidad nito sa isang komunidad , ayon kay Sec. Abad.

Pinangunahan ni School Division Superintendent Dr. Perlita C. Basa ang hanay ng Departamento ng Edukasyon samantalang si Olongapo City DILG- Director Eliseo de Guzman naman ang hanay ng LGU’s kabilang na ang mga Barangay Captains sa labing pitong barangay sa lungsod.
Nagbigay ng kanyang pananalita si Olongapo City Mayor James Bong Gordon, Jr. sa mahigit dalawang daang (200) panauhin na nagsabing “kulang Man ang pondo ng Departamento ng Edukasyon para matugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga estudyante ng lungsod ay bukas naman ang aking pamahalaan ano man ang maitutulong.”

Pagsasagawa naman ng isang Education Summit ang hiling ng mga guro upang mahasa ang kalidad ng edukasyon sa bansa at upang matugunan ito sa mas madaling panahon. Naging positibo naman sa naturang panukala si Sec. Abad.

WAIVER SA MASS LAND TITLING, PINABULAANAN

Mariing pinasinungalingan ni Atty. Angelito Orozco, bagong talagang City Legal Officer, ang alegasyon ni Kgd. Noel Atienza na pinapapirma ng “waiver” ang mga nagpapatitulo ng lupa sa ilalim ng Mass Land Titling Progarm ng pamahalaang lungsod.

Ang “waiver” ay nagsasaad umano na maaaring bawiin ng gobyerno ang lupang titulado at inaalis na nila ang kanilang karapatan para sa kapakanan ng gobyerno.

Ayon kay Orozco, ang alegasyong ito ni Atienza ay walang katotohanan dahil ang layunin nga ng Mass Land Titling Program ay upang mapatibay ang pagmamay-ari ng mamamayan sa kani-kanilang lupa.

Sa isang hiwalay na panayam, kinumpirma ni Mr. Jimmy Mendoza, pinuno ng Task Force on Mass Land Titling, na walang ganyang waiver na ipinapipirma. Sa katunayan, isa itong malaking hakbang na ginawa sa pagreresiba ng programa ni Mayor Bong Gordon. Masusing pinag-aralan ang programa upang mas mapadali ang proseso at gawing mas mababa ang mga bayarin sa pagpapatitulo ng lupa. Ilang beses na nakipag-ugnayan ang Punong Lungsod sa DENR para tuluy-tuloy na suportahan ang nasabing programa.

Ngunit nilinaw din niya na may iilang lugar ang nangangailangan ng ganitong “waiver’ kung mayroon itong paglabag sa mga probisyong itinalaga na naaayon sa National Building Code at Water Code kung saan maaaring maaapektuhan ang may 2-3 metrong layo sa mga estero at kalsada.

Sa nakaraang pamunuan kung saan nagpatupad din ng pagpapatitulo ay nagkaroon ng ganoong “waiver” para sa mga lupang wala pang aprubadong sukat o hindi pa nakakadastrong lupa (outside townsite o TS-308), ngunit ito ay ni-resiba at inalis na ang “waiver” para sa mas kapakinabangan ng mga maraming mamamayan. Sa kasalukuyan, mahigit sa 90% na lupa ang wala pang titulo sa kabuuan ng lungsod.

PAY PARKING FEES, IPATUTUPAD NA

Inaprubahan ng Sangguniang Panglungsod ang ordinansa ukol sa pagtatalaga ng mga piling kalsada bilng pay parking areas.

Sa ngayon ay isinasaayos na ng City Engineering ang pagpipintura sa maga sign markings at paglalagay ng mga karatula para magbigay impormasyon sa publiko ukol sa bagong ordinansa.
Ang mga nasabing kalsada na papatawan ng bayad ay ang bahagi ng mga sumusunod:

a. kaliwang bahagi ng Magsaysay Drive mula Unity Fountain Rtda sa 7th St. hanggang Gordon Ave.
b. magkabilang panig ng Rizal Ave. mula Unity Fountain Rtda sa 7th St.hanggang 1st St.
c. kaliwang bahagi ng Rizal Ave. mula Ulo ng ng Apo Rtda hanggang Unity Fountain Rtda sa 7th St.
d. kaliwang bahagi ng 19th St. W.B.B. mula Ulo ng Apo Rtda hanggang Mabayuan Bridge
e. kaliwang bahagi ng Rizal Ave. mula 19th St. to 27th St. E.B.B.

Ang Business Permit Division ang awtorisadong mag-isyu ng parking stickers na may taunang bayad (annual fee) at ito ay ilalagay sa front windshield ng sasakyan upang malaman na ito ay bayad at otorisadong mag-park.
Ang mga sasakyan na gagamit ng parking area na walang sticker ay aabisuhan ng na magbayad ng P30/day.

Ang anumang pondo na malilikom sa ordinansang ito ay ilalagay sa isang trust fund na ilalaan para sa pagpapagawa at improbisasyon ng mga pampublikong parking areas.

Budget airline hikes flights to Clark Field

By Joey Aguilar, Manila Times Central Luzon Bureau

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga: The arrival of more overseas Filipino workers (OFW) has prompted Tiger Airways to increase its flights to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here.

The entry of low-cost flights has increased the number of passengers arriving at the DMIA. For the month of April, at least 2,500 passengers have arrived since budget airlines, like Air Asia Berhad and Tiger Airways, launched their flights here.

Starting next month, Tiger Airways will increase additional two more flights a week at the DMIA according to Clark Development Corp. (CDC) officials.

Due to the 80 percent to 90 percent load factor of Tiger Airways, travel agencies requested the airline to add more flights, including Singapore-Clark-Singapore, to accommodate travelers especially OFWs working in different parts of Asia.

Ronaldo Tiotuico, Department of Tourism regional director, said the department is planning to put up more ecotourism activities in Pampanga, especially inside Clark, since more tourists are expected to arrive here.

“Clark Special Economic Zone is a good location for eco-tourism especially that the DMIA is located here,” Tiotuico said.

Antonio R. Ng, CDC president and CEO, said they had requested for travel tax exemption for residents of Northern and Central Luzon especially OFWs.

Passengers will be exempted from the P1,620 travel tax if they wish to travel to other Asian countries via the DMIA.

Ng said there will also be a one-stop-processing center at Clark for OFWs so they will not have to go to 14 government agencies in separate locations. The one-stop shop processing for the OFW will allow workers abroad to use Clark as their gateway to various countries in Asia.

Ng added that more flights will follow going to Middle East, Hong Kong and China via the DMIA.

“This is in support of the vision of President Arroyo to develop DMIA into a premier gateway in the country,” Ng said.

There are now four international airlines with regular flights at the DMIA: South Korea’s Asiana Airlines, which flies five times a week; Malaysia’s Air Asia Berhad, which has twice daily flights to and from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur; Singapore’s Tiger Airways, which has thrice weekly flights to the city-state; and Hong Kong’s CR Airways also flies three times a week to the former Crown Colony.

United Parcel Service, which has established its Asia-Intra hub here since April 2002, also operates here.

Meanwhile, Holiday Inn Resort Clarkfield is now studying if it could offer budget room rates for passengers of low cost airlines.

Former chair of Clark Investors and Locators Association, Carmen McTavish, who also operates a travel agency in Angeles City, said she had set up a book-and-buy counter at the Four Seasons Restaurant to help interested tourists to book flights for Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong easily.

McTavish said since Air Asia Berhad of Malaysia, Tiger Airways of Singapore do not have ticketing offices in the country since all booking transactions could be availed using the Internet.

She said only a P300 service fee will be collected by travel agencies for over the counter transactions. Airline tickets are priced the same as online bookings

Saturday, May 14, 2005

SENATOR WANTS GMA’S PROPOSED AMENDMENTS LAID DOWN FIRST BEFORE CHARTER CHANGE

Senator Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, asked for justification for charter change. In a statement relating to the recent call of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for charter change, he said that, “Before we go about the process of amending the Constitution, we must know first what changes the Chief Executive wants for consideration of our people.”

“In every generation, we cannot just amend the Constitution. The need for Constitutional amendments must be established first before the nation should embark on this exercise,” Gordon said.

He added that charter change entails a lot of expenses and it may not be the most prudent thing to do at this point in time in light of our fiscal problems, if there is no pressing need for it.

According to Gordon, who once served as the youngest delegate in the 1971 Constitutional Convention of the Philippines, while there are local government and economic provisions in the Constitution that he wants changed for the benefit of the people, the urgency of charter change must be primarily shown by President Arroyo as the Head of the Executive Department in setting the direction of the country and in fulfilling her duty as leader of the nation tasked with the implementation of its Constitution and its laws.

“The Constitution is the blueprint of our nation that allows our people to enjoy the blessings of democracy. Amending the constitution would and should necessarily result in a fundamental change in the lives of our people. In the recent call for charter change, we must make sure that the fundamental change would be a positive one and not just a mere re-organization of the political departments without any tangible effect in the lives of our people,” said Gordon.
With report from Jo Anne Papa

Subic Freeport more than just a smugglers’ haven

By Patrick Roxas, Manila Times Central Luzon Bureau

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: Subic should not be seen merely as a smuggling haven but should be promoted as a freeport and a regional business hub as mandated in its charter, a top official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority said.

Retired Gen. Jose Calimlim, SBMA senior deputy administrator for operations and member of the SBMA board, said the Subic Freeport is doing well overall with locators reporting increased revenues and more tourists flocking to the former US naval base.

“What is always being highlighted is Subic as a center of smuggling. They are forgetting that big multinational firms are also located in Subic manufacturing products for export,” Calimlim told journalists during the “Usaping Balita Media Forum” at the Subic Bay Yacht Club.

“There is this image of Subic as a smuggling haven because of the importation of right-hand drive vehicles and that here are motor shops and garage in each and every corner of this place,” Calimlim, who is also the head of interagency Task Force Subic, an antismuggling body.

While admitting that smuggling has become a controversial issue in the Freeport, Calimlim said the SBMA remains focused on attracting local and foreign investments, creating employment and generating economic activity.

“As far as the SBMA is concerned, we believe Executive Order 156 which allows Subic locators to import vehicles, except SUVs and passenger vans, should prevail over Customs Memorandum Order 16-2005 which prohibits all shipping lines, airlines and other common carriers to strictly observe and enforce the ban on importation of all vehicles,” Calimlim said.

Calimlim added that the SBMA has no control over the importation of second-hand vehicles but it is trying to clarify what policy to enforce.

Calimlim said the mandate of SBMA is clearly defined in its charter but the problem is in the interpretation of the law as many gray areas are being exploited.

“The clarification on all these issues should come soon but in the meantime, the SBMA maintains E.O. 156 should prevail over the order of the Custom’s commissioner,” Calimlim said.

Importers of second-hand vehicles who were present during the media forum claimed that E.O. 156 and CMO 16-2005 are inconsistent with each other and that another executive order, E.O. 418, putting an additional tax of P500,000 a unit of imported vehicle, is practically killing the business.

“E.O. 418 is not designed just to collect additional taxes but to stop the importation business of second-hand vehicles,” Peter Geroue, president of the Subic-based Motor Vehicle Importers Association, said.

Jaime Vicente, secretary general of the Automotive Rebuilding Industries of Subic, another second-hand vehicle importer, told the media during the forum the local manufacturers’ complaint that the importation of second-hand vehicles through Subic is affecting their sales is not true, as the sales of second-hand vehicles, particularly from Subic, was only small compared to the sales made by local automotive manufacturers last year.

“There is a huge potential demand for vehicles, especially for affordable ones, and we are simply trying to fill that gap,” Vicente said.

He added that the safety concerns of their critics are being addressed, as each second-hand unit goes through a rigid quality inspection by the concerned government agency before it is sold to the public.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Fil-Aussie woman gets justice 4 years late after expulsion blunder

A Filipina-Australian deported by Australian immigration authorities four years ago due to a bungled process will finally get justice and have her chance to return to the country, abs-cbnNEWS.com learned Thursday.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said that the Australian federal government has offered to facilitate the return of Vivian Alvarez, also known as Vivian Wilson and Vivian Young, to Australia.

"Consular officials will be offering all appropriate consular assistance which will obviously include an offer to facilitate her return to, if that is her wish, and appropriate support in Australia," Vanstone said in a statement on the Australian immigration ministry official website.

Vanstone also said that consular officials from the Australian embassy in Manila have spoken to a Catholic priest in Olongapo City. The priest has been taking care of Alvarez at a local hospice since her deportation, she said.

"It now seems, on the basis of that discussion, that the woman is Vivian Alvarez who was removed from Australia in 2001," Vanstone added.

Vanstone's statement followed pronouncements made by no less than Prime Minister John Howard on the case of Alvarez.

"I am very sorry if anything unfair has happened in relation to that and on the face of it that does appear to be the case," Howard told Southern Cross Radio which was posted on ABC Newsonline website last week.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie also called on the federal government to conduct an inquiry into the deportation blunder.

Beattie has jurisdiction over the municipality of Caboolture where Alvarez reportedly lived during her short stay in Australia.

Investigation needed

A report from the National Nine News website Thursday quoted Australia's human rights commissioner as he renewed call for an inquiry on the Alvarez case.

Commissioner Sev Ozdowski said an investigation committee into wrongful detention of Australians and other immigrants needs its powers broadened. The investigation committee is headed by former Australian federal police chief Mick Palmer.

Ozdowski said the search for answers should not be done behind closed doors.

"There are plenty of questions which are unanswered and which need to be followed," Ozdowski told ABC radio in an interview posted at the National Nine news website

"It certainly warrants an open inquiry which can get all of the facts, it warrants an inquiry which would allow witnesses to come forward, which would provide protection to witnesses and it warrants an inquiry which will have access to all relevant documents," he said.

Palmer's inquiry was set up three months ago after the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau, a mentally-ill Australian woman.

Rau, who suffers from schizophrenia, was held in detention for 10 months including an extended period at the Baxter detention center in South Australia, according to reports.

The inquiry into Rau's detention has since been widened to examine other errors by the department, including the case of Alvarez.


Blunder

Reports said Alvarez had been living in Australia for 18 years after marrying an Australian citizen surnamed Wilson in the Philippines. She still has a nine-year old son in foster care in Australia.

Before the deportation order in July 2001, New South Wales police reported that Alvarez, figured in a car accident in the city of Lismore.

She was then sent to the Philippine consulate in Brisbane for assistance.

Instead of helping her, Australian immigration officials set up an inquiry regarding Alvarez's status as an immigrant.

With her English language skills below average, immigration authorities branded the woman as an illegal immigrant and decided to send Alvarez back to the Philippines.

Vanstone said an immigration officer realized in 2003 that Alvarez had been mistakenly deported. "The advice I have is that [the error] was not [passed up to the minister]," she said.

Alvarez's family in Australia said they had searched for her for four years. They were unaware that she had been deported and was until last week believed to be dead. Roy Medina, abs-cbnNEWS.com, wires reports

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Palace bid to ban import of RHD vehicles criticized


By JONAS REYES

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT- A call by Malacañang for Congress to pass a law banning an entry pf used vehicles was criticized by various sectors here, particularly those benefiting from the car-convention industry.

Leaders of labor groups, student organizations, machine shop operators, fish and vegetables dealers, and traders of second-hand vehicles are protesting the move of Malacañang to provide undue protection to brand-new vehicle importers and traders.

Motor Vehicle Importers Association (MVIA) president Peter Geroue said that there is no need for Malacañang to put pressure on Congress because the latter has already ruled out any violation of laws covering the importation and conversion of Right-Hand-Drive (RHD) vehicles in this Freeport zone.

The Congressional reports were presented by the House committee on transportation and communications together with the committee on trade and industry during the 12th Congress. The two committees conducted thorough investigation on the importation of RHD vehicles for about two years.

“The new investigation would be a waste of time and taxpayers’ money because the legal issues pertaining to the importation of RHD vehicles into Subic Freeport, including their conversion, has already been resolve by Congress itself,” Geroue said.

He cited item 1, section 5 of the house joint committee report no. 2157 dated June 10,2004. It stated that “no pertinent and existing and existing law or regulation is here by regulated by bringing into the Subic Special Economic Zone of right-handed drive vehicles as well as their conversion as long as it is made within the Freeport Zone.”

Geroue said that the automotive factoring industry falsely claimed that in year 2002, some 200,000 vehicles were registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and out of this figure only 80,000 were those sold by brand-new car dealers.

“To clarify those allegations, a total annual average of no more than 10,000 units of second-hand passenger and utility vehicles entered through Subic Freeport,” Geroue said.

Geroue informed President Arroyo that of thousands of skilled workers here, particularly those engaged in automotive rebuilding, are facing uncertainties because of the government’s lack of sympathy to the industry.

The affected workers such as mechanics, auto-electrician, car painters and alike reiterated their appeal to the government to prevent the dislocation of their families.

“The government should be more consistent with its socio-economic agenda of creating more employment opportunities for Filipinos,” Geroue said.

Some 30,000 workers, including members of their families, would be displaced by the “sudden death” of second-hand vehicle industry. Official records in the Freeport zone showed that there are about 6,000 direct-hire workers with an average of five members of the family for each worker.

BCDA declares availability of P22-B fund for Subic-Clark-Tarlac tollway

By Ding Cervantes

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga — The finance department of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) has finally issued a certificate of availability of funds, the final requirement to facilitate the long-delayed release of the P22-billion 93.77-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac tollway.

But full blast work on the tollway, which would be the longest in the country when finished, cannot start until three to four months from now pending the completion of a geographical survey now being done by its Japanese contractors, BCDA vice president for operations Antonio Rex Chan told The Star yesterday.

Chan said the certification means that the P18-billion soft loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the 15 percent project cost counterpart of the Philippine government are now available for the project.

"The certification means that cash is now available from both JBIC and BCDA, and there’s no more reason why the project should be delayed," Chan said.

He added that the BCDA has already obtained loans from Banco de Oro and the Development Bank of the Philippines to come up with almost P5 billion needed for the 15 percent counterpart fund from the government as required by law.

"The foreign loan has an interest of only .9 percent annually and is payable in 40 years," Chan said. The P18-billion loan for the project was allocated by the JBIC from its Special Yen Loan Facility way back in December 1998. The loan was firmed up during the visit of President Arroyo to Japan in 2001.

The project has been divided by the BCDA into two packages, one project extending from Subic to Clark and the other from Clark to Tarlac. They are to be implemented by the Japanese firms Kajima Joint Ventures Inc. and Hasama Joint Ventures Inc. which are now conducting a survey in the areas to be traversed by the tollroad from the Subic Freeport through the Clark special economic zone and winding up at the Luisita economic zone in Tarlac.

Chan said the length of the tollroad was based on an earlier survey conducted by the local firm FF Cruz, but the result of the survey is now being reviewed by the Japanese contractors.

He denied reports that changes have been made in the pathways of the tollway reportedly to accommodate a prominent Makati-based business clan which has allegedly been buying up properties in areas to be traversed by the project, particularly in the Subic area.

The tollway project is expected to open up huge foreign investments by linking up the major economic zones in Central Luzon, as well as airports and seaports north of Metro Manila.

" The BCDA has already spent some P600 million for acquisition of properties to be traversed by the toll road which Mrs. Arroyo identified earlier as a vital component of her administration’s 10-point agenda to transform the Clark and the Subid as a competitive hub in Asia.

The tollway will have four lanes through Subic, Clark and Tarlac and will provide a main transportation network that would facilitate human and cargo transport in Central Luzon

RP operators act on mobile phone virus scare

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva

MOBILE phone operators Smart Communications and Globe Telecom sprung into action on Tuesday to prevent further escalation of a supposed mobile phone virus scare in the country.
Ramon Isberto, head of Smart's public affairs, said that the company is set to issue an advisory on Wednesday to its subscribers to stop further spread of at least two known mobile phone viruses.

Jones Campos, public relations head of Globe Telecom, meanwhile e-mailed INQ7.net a "tip for mobile phone users" provided by vendor Nokia Philippines.

An e-mail message forwarded by Nokia to Globe indicated that it has been receiving a number of calls and messages on the virus that has been spreading via Bluetooth, a short-range radio technology that allows devices to interconnect.

For his part, Jamz Yaneza, TrendLabs senior anti-virus consultant was surprised at the mobile phone virus scare in the country.

"It appears as just that, a scare. Clean up services for mobile phone viruses are still big
business in Greenhills (a famous shopping center in San Juan, Manila). It might be a repackaged mobile phone virus"Yaneza told INQ7.net.

He added that there’s possibility this mobile phone virus scare is a hoax.
Still, he warned local subscribers to be careful with installing unknown programs in their mobile handsets. "Some of these mobile phone viruses are repackaged as applications," he added.

"A point of caution: Cabir – one of the popular mobile phone viruses -- is readily available on the Internet. It can always be recompiled and spread by people. But on the other virus known as ‘Commwarriors,’ we have not seen or heard [of] any incidents in the Philippines," the anti-virus consultant said.

TrendlLabs does not have a central repository of reports and incidents of mobile phone virus infections in the Philippines however. In most cases, users with infected phones have the viruses removed or their phones reset in little repair shop.

"They would rather go to Greenhills to have the phone reset. They don't report it. But it's good to hear that some people are now turning off their Bluetooth these days to avoid being infected," Yaneza said.

Cabir spreads via Bluetooth, while Commwarriors uses multi-media messaging service (MMS) to infect other handsets.

According to the Nokia advisory, consumers should only approve or download content from a trusted source. Trusted sources may include operator portals and other well-known brands like the Nokia Software Market offering adequate protection against viruses and other harmful software.

"If your device gives a security warning during installation it means that the content is not signed. In this case you should carefully weigh whether the content is coming from a trusted source and whether you can install it securely," it added.

Nokia stressed that users are often prompted or warned at least 4 times before the installation of the Caribe.sis virus.

One way to remove the virus is to re-flash the handset, which involves re-formatting the unit's flash memory.

"Nokia has not yet released any other solution aside from the software re-flashing but we will keep you posted for any development," Nokia said in its advisory.

Representative Joseph Santiago of Catanduanes urged mobile phone operators this week to deal with the "flurry of text messages" saying that mobile phone viruses are fast spreading.

Santiago said that the local operators are in a position to deal with the possible scare. "The mobile phone virus scare sweeping the country is part real and part hype. In any case, network operators should be in a position to promptly deal with subscriber complaints involving a threatened or an actual infection," he said.

A former commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, Santiago said that while these mobile phone viruses are largely harmless, they still affect subscribers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

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Cheap imports killing RP car industry Party-list solon seeks probe

By Philip Tubeza
Inquirer News Service

THE CONTINUED influx of cheap imported second-hand vehicles is killing the country's automotive industry, a lawmaker warned Monday.

Akbayan party-list Representative Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales said that 7,470 automotive workers have lost their jobs as of this year, or almost 10 percent of the total number of employees in the automobile assembly and distributing sector.

"The House of Representatives needs to look into the influx of cheap imported cars into the country. What is most worrying is how these vehicles have affected the job security of thousands of workers who depend on the industry for a living,” she said in a statement.

Rosales said the automotive industry employed about 100,000 people, the overwhelming majority of them involved in making car parts and components (40,000) and another significant portion working in assembly and distribution (16,000).

"I propose that the House look into the matter carefully before the continued influx of these used car imports kill the local automotive industry and put thousands of workers out of jobs,” she added.
Rosales said that from a high of 162,056 cars sold in 1996 prior to the Asian financial crisis, domestic vehicle sales have plummeted to 88,074 in 2004, a reduction of about 50 percent.
And yet, records from the Land Transportation Office on new vehicle registrations showed that almost 270,000 units were registered with it last year, but only 88,000 units were sold by Philippine car manufacturers, she said.

"What then is the reason for the discrepancy of 181,000 units? Most of these units consist of cheap second-hand imported cars, a lot of which are smuggled into the country,” Rosales said.
"In other words, it is so easy to acquire such vehicles within free ports and to bring them into use within the country,” she added.

Rosales said that imported cheap cars also posed a danger to motorists.
"Are these second-hand vehicles compliant with emission standards? Does the government have the capability to ensure that such vehicles are indeed compliant with emission standards?” she said.

Supreme Court invalidates tax-free privileges of Clark duty-free shops


By Piddo Roxas

DUTY free shops at the Clark Special Economic Zone and the Subic Bay Free Port will no longer enjoy tax-free privileges after the Supreme Court decided on March 29 to affirm with finality its decision on October 23, 2003, to invalidate the tax and duty exemptions granted to economic zones by then President Fidel Ramos.

The decision affects all economic zones in the country after the Court denied the motion for reconsideration that Victor Lim, former Bases Conversion Development Authority president, filed in the complaint of the John Hay People’s Alternative Coalition.

The Ramos administration allowed tax-free privileges to duty-free shops at the Clark zone and other economic zones to attract foreign and local investors into the country.

Romy P.Yusi, regional governor for Central Luzon of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said the Supreme Court decision means that all duty-free shops would be required to pay import duties for the goods they will sell. Their selling prices, of course, will be the same with those being sold in other commercial and grocery stores, including malls outside the economic and free port zones.

Yusi and other business leaders in Pampanga believe that duty-free shops may be forced to close because of the decision.

The decision lays to rest the fears of some businessmen that the SM Mega Mall project near the main gate of Clark Special Economic Zone will enjoy tax-free privileges and compete with other grocery stores, supermarkets and other malls outside the Clark Zone.

The Camp John Hay Management Corp. is taking steps to protect innocent parties in the Camp John Hay deal by preserving the tax and duty exemptions within the John Hay zone. Similar steps are expected to be undertaken at the Clark Special Economic Zone and other zones in the country.

Business observers said the latest Supreme Court decision would cause damage to sublocators, concessionaires, buyers and residents at Camp John Hay and other economic zones.

But big-time investors continued to be bullish on the Clark Special Economic Zone because of the peace and order condition and the availability of skilled workers in and around the zone, according to Sonny Lopez, manager of the Public Relations Division of Clark Development Corp.

As an example, Lopez cited the latest P5.8-billion expansion at the Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc., which its officials decided to undertake after Commissioner Alberto Lina of the Bureau of Customs assured them that the tariff rates on imported raw materials would be lowered.

He added that Lina responded quickly on the application on tariff rates for imported raw materials for all the local sales of Yokohama.

Another locator, Cyber City Teleservices, Ltd. also constructed a $3 million atrium on its expansion program to accommodate additional 1,500 call-center agents, according to Alex Dy Reyes, Cyber City human resources director. Cyber City employs 2,400 call-center agents. It was established in 1999.

Both expansion projects were inspected by President Arroyo on Friday.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Vice governors urge Bishop Cruz to name jueteng protectors

SUBIC, Zambales – League of Vice-Governors of the Philippines (LVGP) executive vice-president Ramon Lacbain has dared Archbishop Oscar Cruz to identify by names the local officials he listed as protectors of "jueteng."

Lacbain reacted on news reports that incumbent five governors, a vice governor and a mayor from Luzon as among the protectors of "jueteng" operators.

"All the incumbent governors, vice governors and mayors of Luzon, most especially from Central Luzon as mentioned in the same news story as the most lucrative area for jueteng operations will all be suspects for such allegation unless the good bishop of the archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan identifies the officials he listed.

"I am not receiving any single centavo and much more never been involved in "jueteng" operations. I condemn this illegal numbers game because it makes the poor poorer by betting their little money to gambling and also promotes wrong values among many Filipinos by relying on their luck instead of working hard to improve their living conditions. Besides the poor people are just being cheated by jueteng operators", according to Zambales vice governor Lacbain.

Lacbain also believed that the Office of the Ombudsman must be the proper body to investigate and file appropriate criminal and administrative cases against incumbent local officials who are involved in jueteng operations and not the Congress of the Philippines. (Fred Roxas)

4 slightly used luxury cars seized at Subic Free Port


Criminal charges were filed by the joint Task Force Subic and Bureau of Customs at the Subic Free Port against a trading outfit based in Manila.

The charges came following the recovery by Task Force Subic, headed by retired Gen. Jose Calimlim, of four slightly used "luxury" cars valued at R4 million inside the 20-foot van shipment of the accused.

Calimlim told a radio interview over DZRB that the discovery came after Subic Port Customs Collector Tita Zamoranos issued a seizure and detention warrant order against the shipment which arrived from a neighboring country a month ago.

The dilly-dally by the trading firm-consignee to work for the release of the shipment made the Task Force Subic suspicious of the van’s content prompting the latter to put it on hold.

It was gathered that the shipment was declared to contain used vehicle spare parts.

"But to our surprise, four used luxury cars – a Pajero, BMW, Toyota Celica, and a Mirage – were found underneath big boxes in an apparent attempt to deceive the van’s content," Calimlim added.

Calimlim and Zamoranos said a case of technical smuggling has been slapped against the consignee. (Sel A. Baysa)

Subic firm is exporting 181 converted cars to Thailand

By JONAS REYES


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — One-hundred-eighty-one converted vehicles are exported to the international market by one of the biggest companies in the automotive-conversion industry here.


Subic Bay Motors Corp. (SBMC) held the other day a send-off ceremony that signaled the shipping of the vehicles to Bangkok.

SBMC, an auctioneer and importer of used vehicles in the Freeport here, exported the shipment consisting of 129 Mitsubishi Pajeros, 50 Toyota Hiluxs and two Toyota Land Cruisers to Carlyna Trading Co. Ltd. of Bangkok.

SBMC General Manager Ben Perez unveiled his company’s re-export program, saying "since the government is bent on stopping the sale of used vehicles to the local market, SBMC plans to focus on the international market."

"Together with our new Japanese investors, we plan to form a new joint venture to re-export reconditioned vehicles to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Russia and other countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa which are using left-hand-drive vehicles," he said.

Perez also said that he will leave it up to the court to determine the legality of Executive Order No. 418 which imposes additional R500,000 specific tax on all imported used vehicles.

Carlyna Trading is the trading partner of Apple International Co. which distributes both brand new and used vehicles in the ASEAN region and neighboring areas.

Last December, SBMC exported 20 sports utility vehicles and pick-up trucks to Sudan in Africa.

At present, 300 units are being reconditioned, and about 1,000 units are expected to be imported in the coming months. These are all intended for export after local value-added activities like steering-wheel conversion, mechanical repairs, tinsmith and repainting are undertaken.

11th Subic Bay International Triathlon

Binictican Drive in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone will be closed from 5:30-11:00am on May 8, 2005 as part of the bike and run legs of the 11th Subic Bay International Triathlon. Please try to avoid unnecessary traffic during that time by using alternate routes.
The Triathalon starts and ends in the central business district so there will be many participants using the roads in those areas. Please use caution and yield to competitors.
Should you need further clarification, please feel free to contact Ms. Portia Zabala and Mr. Cezar Alcantara of the Special Events Section at 47-252-4154,-4132,-4197.

Nene summons 24 to jueteng inquiry

By Efren L. Danao , MT Senior Reporter

Several suspected jueteng lords, governors and local officials will be summoned to a Senate inquiry into the resurgence of the illegal numbers game.

Leading the list of allegedly big-time jueteng operators is Bong Pineda, widely believed to be the overlord in Central Luzon.

As proposed by the Senate minority leader, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the list of 24 “resource persons” for the hearing of the Senate Committee on Games and Amusements should also include Governors Luis “Chavit” Singson of Ilocos Sur and Mark Lapid of Pampanga, Jose Yap of Tarlac, Jesus Typoco Jr. of Camarines Norte, Vicente Magsaysay of Zambales and Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. of Camarines Sur and Vice Gov. Mariano Cristino Joson IV of Nueva Ecija.

Religious leaders campaigning against jueteng would also be summoned.

Singson had claimed that former President Joseph Estrada was a protector of jueteng, an allegation that led to Estrada’s impeachment in 2001. Singson has admitted that jueteng exists even in his province.

Lapid is the son of Sen. Lito Lapid, chair of the Committee on Games and Amusements. The Lapids are from Pampanga, the home province of Pineda.

Pimentel gave Senator Lapid a list of persons to be summoned by the committee in a letter on May 5. He also formally asked Lapid to recuse himself from presiding over the investigation, primarily because his son has been named one of the witnesses.

Pimentel wrote to Lapid after published reports quoted Lapid as saying he would not recuse himself.

“As a colleague in the Senate, I feel that you are unnecessarily putting yourself in a bad situation where there is no way you can come out of the hearings unscathed,” Pimentel said.

He noted that Lapid comes from Pampanga, “where jueteng is more pervasive than the E-coli [bacillus] inhabiting the cesspools of the rich and famous in Makati.”

Pimentel said that if Lapid insists on presiding over the probe, formal motions would be made against it.

Also on the list: Romeo Lajara of Baguio City, Mayor Jess Viceo of San Rafael, Bulacan, Art Katigbak of Cavite, a certain Ngongo of Pampanga, Mario Garcia of Pampanga, Tony Santos of Pampanga, one “Boy Tangkad,” Art Katigbak of Cavite and Charing Magbuhos of Quezon.

Most of these persons have been summoned to previous congressional hearings on suspected gambling lords.

Antijueteng crusaders Bishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, and Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Pangasinan are also on the list.

Rounding up the list are Chief Supt. Rowland Albano, the relieved police regional director for Central Luzon; Col. Rodolfo Mendoza, Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bert Lina, PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao and PNP Senior Supt. Pat Hernaez.

Lapid had said he would ask to the hearing all those named by his committee members.

Pimentel suggested that the hearings be held continuously from Monday to Saturday.

He filed a resolution on April 12 calling for the investigation into the resurgence of jueteng, but Lapid still had to start the hearings.

If Lapid recuses himself from the hearing, then the vice chair, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, would take over. Pimentel said that if Lapid does not want Estrada to replace him, then Lapid should hold a preliminary committee hearing to determine who should take over.

Pimentel said that no inference of the witnesses’ guilt or innocence should be drawn, simply because they would be summoned to the hearings.

Leaders of the House advised Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz to avoid sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations against personalities or public officials allegedly involved in jueteng.

In a joint statement, Majority Leader Prospero Nograles of Davao City and Deputy Speaker for Visayas Gerry Salapuddin said Cruz must give specific and confirmed information about the issue instead of uttering “unchristian” remarks.

“Blind-item allegations smack of show-biz theatrics. How can we prosecute jueteng coddlers, operators and money takers if we don’t have solid evidence against them? The archbishop’s allegations are apparently based on hearsay, good for the rumor mill but having no probative value,” Salapuddin said.

Nograles said the House has shown its support for Cruz’s crusade by immediately holding a hearing on his list of supposed jueteng operators and coddlers.
--With William B. Depasupil and Maricel V. Cruz

GMA to inaugurate new Clark facilities

By Mark Louie P. Roxas, MT Central Luzon Bureau

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga: President Arroyo is set to arrive here on Friday to inspect the ongoing $105.5-million expansion project of Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc. and the inauguration of the $3-million atrium of Cyber City Teleservices Ltd.

Alex E. DyReyes, an official of Cyber City, said the President is scheduled to lead in the ribbon-cutting rites at the newly constructed atrium of Cyber City which will soon hire 1,500 more call-center agents and programmers to complement its 2,400 employees.

After the inauguration ceremonies at Cyber City, President Arroyo will inspect the ongoing P5.8-billion expansion of the Yokoyama tire factory here.

The Cyber City pioneer call center at Clark, which started with 30 employees in 1999, announced that it has 1,500 job openings for college graduates who are proficient in the English language.

Applicants will be required to undertake a four-week orientation and on-the-job training during the fifth week after which they will be hired as probationary workers and later as regular employees with P8,000 to P10,000 basic pay every month. Regular employees will be entitled to one free meal daily and to a 10-percent salary increase every year.

DyReyes said that Cyber City at Clark will continue undertaking more expansion projects to support Mrs. Arroyo’s job-generation program.

Meanwhile Yokohama will expand its factory and start full operation this coming October with a daily production of some 20,000 from the present 9,000 tires a day capacity.

Yokohama also has started hiring 600 additional workers for the expansion program.

Alberto Lina, the Bureau of Customs chief, said that the Yokohama expansion program came after assurances to lower the tariff rates on imported raw materials.

Clark Development Corp. (CDC) authorities thanked Lina for his “quick response regarding the prospective application of tariff rates for imported raw materials for all the local sales of the tire factory.”

During her inspection of the Yokohama complex, President Arroyo is set to be briefed by CDC officials on the new investment of the tire firm to attract other investors to locate at Clark zone

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Subic power firm cuts losses due to pilferage


By Alena Mae S. Flores

Customers of Aboitiz-owned Subic EnerZone Corp. (SEZC) have started paying lower electricity bills since March after the company announced that it was able to reduce its system losses.

In a statement, SEZC reduce its system losses caused by pilferage and other factors by an average of 7.87 percent, thus lower its per kilowatt-hour rate by almost 10 centavos.

When the company took over the Power Distribution System (PDS) of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in 2003, SEZC said it inherited a systems loss average of 15 percent. By law, a utility firm is allowed to pass on the electrical systems loss to its customers up to 9.5 percent. This cap on system loss is embedded in the computation of rates.

This means that SBMA absorbed around 6 percent of the total purchased electric energy cost since by law, they could not pass this on to customers. Following its acquisition of the power distribution in Subic, SEZC implemented a metering rehabilitation program by checking and correcting all kwhr meter installations of all its customers.

As a result, SEZC was able to reduce the PDS system loss to an average of 7.87 percent. “ It is important to note that SEZC does not benefit directly if losses are below the 9.5 percent cap since by law it is required to give this benefit to customers through a reduction of its power rates,” SEZC said.

SEZC is a consortium led by Davao Light & power Co., Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Mirant Philippines, witch manage the power distribution system within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

In May 2003, it won, through competitive bidding, the power distribution services for the Freeport Zone for a period of 25 years.

A mountain of used clothes seized in Subic


The Bureau of Customs seized a “mountain of banned used clothing” or “ ukay-ukay” worth more than P100 million at the port of Subic in Zambales.

Customs Deputy Commissioner Celso Templo rushed to Subic upon receiving reports of the big catch by the intelligence and Enforcement Group(IEG)to oversee its inventory and to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the smugglers.

Investigation showed the person or persons behind the foiled smuggling attempt pointed to the same persons whose shipments of used clothing were seized by the bureau recently.

“I am reviving the case of smuggling against the persons involved in the attempted smuggling of ukay-ukay which the bureau seized in a raid in a parañaque warehouse last January,” Templo said.

The smuggling case filled against the persons involve in the previous foiled smuggle of P100 million worth of ukay-ukay did not reach the court because his predecessor recommended by that the case be dismissed for lack of evidence.

Templo said the seized used clothing as the Port of Subic came from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and the United states.

Importations of used clothing in commercial quantity are banned and are subject to summary seizure by the Bureau of Customs. Despite the ban, however, smuggling of used clothing continues as shown by the proliferation of ukay-ukay in Metro Manila.

Templo said that he would request Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina to allow the IEG to conduct “visitorial power” on ukay-ukay stores to check on their import documents and if found that the items sold are smuggled, be confiscated.

“This is one way of discouraging smuggling of banned used clothing, aside from filling cases against those involve,” Templo added.


 

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