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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NAMES OF VOLUNTEERS LISTED IN VOLUNTEERS' SHRINE


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"What this country needs is not just a change OF men but a change IN men." Dick Gordon

Business groups laud BCDA schedule for Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway

Several major Central Luzon-based business organizations recently hailed assurances by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) that the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway Project (SCTEP) will be completed on time and within the original budget.

Central Luzon business leaders said the early completion of the expressway project will "go a long way in boosting trade, commerce and industry within the region."

Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) Vice President Rene Romero pointed out that "once the infrastructure is in place, everything will follow."

Romero said he believes that "for starters, tourism could be a major beneficiary of the 93.7 kilometers expressway. It will definitely boost tourism in the region because of improved accessibility."

Businessman Renato "Abong" Tayag, Jr. of the PamCham and the Pampanga Meat Processors (Pampro) emphasized that the Expressway will further unite Central Luzon with the rest of the country through commerce and trade.

Tayag pointed out that food production in Central Luzon accounts for a sizeable chunk of the market in the Lingayen Gulf area up to Lucena. It feeds a huge percent of the Philippine population as well, he added.

"The speedy completion of the expressway will provide better access for these products to markets not just in central Luzon. At the same time it will help facilitate business because of the more efficient transport of goods and services." Tayag noted.

For his part, PCCI Area Vice President for North Luzon Rene Simbulan said the expressway will play a major role in attracting more investors and generating more jobs not only in Central Luzon but in Northern Luzon as well. He noted that the Expressway will also reduce the cost and risk of doing business by farmers, fishermen and businessmen who would want to sell their goods in Metro Manila by tapping its 10 million consumer market.

"What is important is the increased income of the people in both Central and Northern Luzon for a better quality of life," Simbulan said.

The expressway is slated to be finished by the end of 2007 at a cost of P21 billion. The 4-lane toll road network will connect the industrial, transport and business hubs of Subic, Clark and Tarlac.

BCDA President and CEO Narciso Abaya earlier said that the project is a major component of the Global Gateways Initiative. He pointed out it is an important anchor of the ten-point program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as part of her vision for the development of Central Luzon and the rest of the country.

Abaya said that timely completion of the project is crucial "in order to boost regional growth and provide incentive for new businesses and industries along the project vicinity and the rest of Luzon."

BCDA Vice President for Operations Antonio Rex Chan disclosed that the planned expressway will pass through Angeles City, Mabalacat, Porac and Floridablanca in Pampanga, Tarlac City, Bamban, and Concepcion in Tarlac and Dinalupihan and Hermosa in Bataan.

Aside from the main expressway, BCDA will construct four major bridges over the Pasig-Potrero River, Porac River, Gumain River and the Sacobia-Bamban River, Chan disclosed.

"BCDA will also construct eight interchanges, 29 minor bridges, 44 underpasses and 303 culverts plus toll booths and toll facilities," he said.

He added that the P21- billion project will link not only the seaport facilities in Subic and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and logistics facilities in Clark. SCTEP, but provide access to the other major economic players in the region. Among these are the Bataan Technology Park and the province of Tarlac.

"The expressway will trigger the growth of the entire Central Luzon, Chan pointed out. "It will also provide the shortest, most direct access and most efficient link to the economic zones in Subic, Morong, Clark and Tarlac," he added.

He said that the expressway will help ease the worsening traffic conditions along the North and South highway arteries of northern Metro Manila — the North Luzon Expressway, the Manila North Road, and the Pan-Philippine Highway. At the same time, the new expressway will provide an alternate route to the OlongapoGapan road constantly threatened by lahar particularly during the rainy season.

Funding for the project is provided through a ­¥41.931 billion soft loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

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SC cancels duty-free perks of Subic, Clark

By Marianne V. Go., The Philippine Star

The Supreme Court (SC) has effectively nullified duty-free removal of imported goods regardless of quantity from Subic, Clark and other special economic zones in the country.

In a July 29 en banc ruling, the SC ruled as invalid certain provisions in EO 97-A that allowed tax and duty-free removal of goods to certain individuals, even in a limited amount ($100 per month for residents and $200 per year for non-residents) from the secured areas of the Subic Special Economic Zone for being violative of Section 12 of RA 7227.

RA 7227 expressly provides that the "exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to the other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines."

In the same SC decision, it also nullified the duty-free removal of goods from Clark by declaring "null and void Section 5 of Executive Order 80 and Section 4 of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) Board Resolution No. 93-05-034 for being an invalid exercise of executive legislation."

In view of the SC decision, no imported goods regardless of quantity can be brought out of Subic, Clark and other economic zones without paying the proper taxes and duties.

The SC decision was lauded by the Federation of Philippine Industries, Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc., Federation of Free Farmers and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino which had originally filed the petition questioning the duty-free shopping and removal of goods from Subic and Clark.

According to Jesus L. Arranza, the landmark SC decision "will level the playing field between local manufacturers and importers located in special economic zones

Bill seeking to correct �flaws� in bases conversion filed

First posted 00:50am (Mla time) Aug 30, 2005
Inquirer News Service


Editor's Note: Published on page A21 of the August 30, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Sen. Richard Gordon has filed a bill to correct the deficiency of the Base Conversion Law (Republic Act 7227) concerning tax and duties exemptions.

Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the exemptions for investors at the Subic Bay Freeport and nullified the same for investors at the Clark Special Economic Zone, Camp John Hay in Baguio City, Poro Point in La Union and other special economic zones created under RA 7227.

Senate Bill No. 2098 seeks to amend RA 7227 by introducing a provision granting the same fiscal incentives to other ecozones, said Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises.

The court’s decisions disallowing the privileges in Clark and Camp John Hay raised the “red flag to the world that rules in the country are changed in the middle of the game,” Gordon said in a speech before some 300 Rotarians here on Saturday.

The court’s rulings in Clark and Camp John Hay were issued in July 2005 and October 2003, respectively.

Court ruling

In its recent decision, the court said that “while Section 12 of RA 7227 expressly provides for the grant of incentives to the Subic zone, it fails to make any similar grant in favor of other economic zones, including Clark.”

Section 15 of RA 7227 authorized the President to create economic zones in and around former bases of the United States in Pampanga and Tarlac (Clark Air Base); in San Fernando City, La Union (Wallace Air Station in Poro Point); in Baguio City (Camp John Hay); in the towns of Morong, Hermosa, Dinalupihan in Bataan; and in Castillejos and San Marcelino in Zambales.

The debate over the fiscal incentives provision of RA 7227, which Congress passed in 1992, came as the government entered the 13th year of its base conversion work.

The state-owned Clark Development Corp. has filed a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court in a bid to protect some 300 investors.

Threats

Some Clark investors have threatened to relocate to China, suspendexpansion plans or reduce the number of workers to cope with additional tax obligations.

Gordon said SB 2098 proposed to extend to RA 7227 the incentives guaranteed under the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 (RA 7916).

He is proposing that the same taxation system of 5-percent final tax on gross income be applied.

Other fiscal incentives are also provided under Presidential Decree No. 66, which created the Export Processing Zone Authority, as well as those provided by the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987, and the Export Development Act of 1994.

The bill, according to Gordon, also seeks to grant free port status and the same incentives to Poro Point.

Tonette Orejas, PDI Central Luzon Desk

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Duty-free goods illegal

By Elaine Ruzul S. Ramos

The Supreme Court has ruled that imported consumer goods bought from Subic Special Economic and Free Port Zone (SSEFPZ) and Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) are no longer duty-free once brought to other parts of the country.

This means imported goods must be consumed or used up within the ecozones and slapped with pertinent duties once brought outside the ecozones.

In a 32-page decision dated July 29, 2005, the Supreme Court en banc voided the second sentences in paragraphs 1.2 and 1.3 of Executive Order 97-A, which allows tax and duty-free removal of goods to certain individuals, even in a limited amount ($100 per month for resident and $200 per year for nonresident). It said the provisions violated Section 12 of Republic Act 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.

The high tribunal said RA 7227 expressly provided that “exportation or removal of goods from the territory of the Subic Special Economic Zone to other parts of the Philippine territory shall be subject to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code and other relevant tax laws of the Philippines.”

The high court in the same case declared null and void Section 5 of Executive Order 80 and Section 4 of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) Board Resolution 93-05-034 for being “an invalid exercise of executive legislation.”

EO 80, issued by then President Fidel Ramos, virtually gave Clark SEZ the same incentives granted by RA 7227 to Subic. The BCDA, taking its cue on EO 80, passed Board Resolution 93-05-034, allowing the tax and duty-free sale at retail of consumer goods imported via Clark for consumption outside the ecozone.

Citing the earlier case of John Hay Peoples Alternative Coalition versus Victor Lim, the high court resolved that RA 7227, which granted the incentives to Subic special ecozone, could not be applied to Clark since the law failed to make any similar grant in favor of other ecozones.

As such, there is no legal basis to uphold the granting of the same incentive, since tax and duty-free incentives should be categorically and unmistakably expressed from the language of the statute.

In view of the SC decision, no imported goods regardless of quantity can be brought out of Subic and Clark without paying the proper taxes and duties. The court virtually declared illegal the practice of allowing 15 years old and above to buy $100 and $200 worth of goods and bring them outside the economic zone tax- and duty-free.

Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) president Jesus Arranza said the ruling favors local manufacturers.

“This landmark decision will level the playing field between local manufacturers and importers located in the Subic and Clark special economic zones,” said Arranza.

The court issued the ruling in response to a petition filed jointly by the Coconut Oil Refiners Association Inc., Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc., Federation of Free Farmers and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino questioning the operation of tax and duty-free shops located at the Subic and Clark ecozones.



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CYBERSEX SA CITY COUNCIL, PINAIIMBESTIGAHAN

            Pinakilos ni Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. si Vice Mayor Rolen Paulino, na siyang Presiding Officer ng Sanguniang Panlungsod, kaugnay ng balitang “cybersex sa Olongapo City Hall” na naglabasan sa mga national tabloids nitong nakaraang linggo.

 

            Ang istorya ng cybersex ay halaw umanosa isang affidavit ng isang Ramoncito Sapinoso, empleyado ng City Council hinggil sa hiwalay na kaso ng sexual harassment ng kinasasangkutan ni Kgd. Noel Atienza.

 

            Ayon umano kay Sapinoso may ka-empleyado ito na gumagamit ng internet para mag-chat at gumawa ng kalaswaan tulad ng pahubarin ang ka-chat. Ginagawa umano ito sa oras ng  trabaho. Ipinatawag si Sapinoso upang linawin ang isyu ngunit itinaggi nito na sinabi niya na may “cybersex sa City Hall”. Si Ester Rabago, ang empleyadong tinukoy naman na nakikipag-chat ay kasalukuyang naka-leave of absence.

 

            Dahil sa teknolohiya ng internet, maraming impormasyon ang pwedeng hanapin at ang komunikasyon ay mas nagiging madali. Ang akto ng “cybersex” ay may iba’t-ibang patungkol. Maaaring ito ay ang pagpunta lamang samga webpage ng adult sites, o pwedeng sa paraan ng palitan ng usapan o chatting kung saan maaari pang gamitan ng webcam para Makita sa monitor ang kausap.

 

            Sa session nitong nakaraang Miyerkules, napagkasunduan ng konseho na ibigay ang imbestigasyon sa Telecommunications Committee na pinamumunuan ni Kgd. Edwin J. Piano. Ang internet ay isang epektibong tool para sa komunikasyon ng lungsod. Ngunit ito ay dapat lamang na gamitin sa mga official business, lalo pa’t tayo ay mga taong gobyerno. Maaari nating limitahan ang mga access sa internet at i-ban ang mga adult sites pati ang ilang chatrooms,” ayon kay Kgd. Piano.

 

            “Ang mali ng isa ay hindi dapat makapagdamay sa kalahatan. Matagal na panahong itinaas ng lungsod ng Olongapo ang dangal nito mula sa isang Sin City at sa kasalukuyang Model City. Isang isyu lamang ‘yan na pinalala at pinasama. Dapat na ikondena ang nakaka-alarma at masakit na paratang na ‘yan dahil ito ay nakakaapekto hindi lamang sa Olongapo City Hall kundi pati sa buong dangal ng bawat Olongapeno,” dagdag pa ni Kgd. Piano.

 

            Maraming taga-City Hall ang nagpahayag ng dismaya sa pagbahid ng masamng imahe sa lungsod dahil sa kaso at kontra-kaso na nagmula sa sexual harassment case ni Kgd. Atienza.


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TODO ANG TULONG PARA SA MGA APEKTADO NG DEMOLISYON�MAY RELOCATION SITE NA!

Labing-anim (16) na pamilyang apektado ng demolisyon sa Maliwakat, New Cabalan ang lumapit kay Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. at nagpahayag ng pagtanggap sa relokasyong natukoy na binuo niyang Task Force Maliwakat.

 

Ngayon malinaw na ang mga plano, Isang relocation site na nag sinisimulang isaayos para sa kanila. Ito ay sa Teclaan, New Cabalan, ng kalahating kilometro lamang ang layo sa dating nila mga tirahan. Nabigayn na ng permiso ng CENRO si Mayor Gordon para sa mga lupang ilalaan sa relokasyon. Bawat pamilya ay paglalaanan ng 200 square meters na lupa. Binigyan ng isang linggo ang City Planning upang maisagawa ang lahat ng inspection at lot plan ng relocation site.

 

Bukod pa rito, ay may isang komunidad ang handing sumalubong at tanggapin ang mga bagong magsisilipat. Ang Buklod Nayon ay isang samahan sa Teclaan na nagbibigay ng edukasyon sa mga kabataan, church fellowship at nagsisilbing samahang barangay.

 

Isinangguni ng ilang mga magpaparelokasyon na kung maaari ay matulungan sila sa mga construction supplies. Sinabi naman ni Mayor Gordon na hindi niya maipapangako ang pagsagot ditto ngunit kanyang aalamin sa Engineering Department ang mga available at used supplies na maaaring ibigay sa mga maglilipat. Magpapahanap din si Mayor Gordon ng mga scrap Construction supplies mula sa Freeport.

 

Inialam din ni Mayor Gordon kung nasa ayos ang kalagayan ng mga daanan, linya ng kuryente at tubig ng Teclaan. Inatasan niya ang mga departamentonghaharap sa mga kailangang ayusin. Dahil ang lugar ay hindi pa naseserbisyuhan ng Subicwater, ilang mga communal pumps ang ibibigay ni Mayor.

 

Bukod sa lupa, ang livelihood assistance ang talagang ipiniprisinta ni Mayor Gordon sa mga mare-relocate. Pagkatapos ng relokasyon, ang gusto ko’y matuto kayong tumayo sa mga sariling paa. Kaya palakasin natin ang mga kabuhayan ninyo, at para hindi na kayo aasa sa iba.” Pinag-iisipan ang communal crop planting at iba pang negosyong maaaring pasukan ng mga pamilyang lilipat sa kanilang bagong lugar.

 

Lubos na nagpapasalamat ang mga pamilyang apektado ng demolisyon na agad na tinugunan  ni Mayor  Gordon ang kanilang sitwasyon. Inaasahan nila na sa lalong madaling panahon ay matupad na ang inaasahan nilang bagong buhay sa kanilang lugar.


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Arroyo adviser for Central Luzon eyed as new SBMA head

Editor's Note: Published on Page A17 of the August 31, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT-Malacañang is reportedly considering Renato Diaz, presidential adviser for Central Luzon, for the post vacated by resigned Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chair Francisco Licuanan III, a Palace source said on Tuesday.

But Diaz, in a phone interview, said he has yet to receive any official word on this plan.

He said he would accept the post if it was given to him by President Macapagal-Arroyo.

"Yes, I would because I'm committed to the development of the area," he told the Inquirer.

Subic and Clark, Diaz said, are premium sites for growth, a magnet for investments and tourism. "We have to make it work," he said.

Diaz, a former Nueva Ecija representative, served as presidential adviser for North Luzon from February 2001 to August 2004. He has since been named adviser for Central Luzon where Subic and Clark are located.

But another Palace source said Diaz was "not being considered" to the SBMA.

"He is trying hard to get politicians to endorse him," said the source, who holds a Cabinet position.

Aside from Diaz, Rodolfo "Inky" Reyes is also on the list of possible appointees to the SBMA, another Malacañang source said.

Reyes used to be deputy administrator and chief of staff when Sen. Richard Gordon headed the SBMA from 1992 to 1998.

There was no word if Armand Arreza, former SBMA finance manager, who was recently appointed to the SBMA board, was also on the list.

Gordon had recommended Arreza to the SBMA board, but the senator's alleged lobbying for the appointment of people identified with him reportedly prompted Licuanan's resignation.

Zambales Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II urged Ms Arroyo to choose a "qualified candidate" from the province where the 12,000-hectare Subic freeport, a former American naval base is located.

"If she has not yet appointed an SBMA chair and administrator, I strongly appeal to her to appoint a qualified Zambale¤o who is neither from the Gordon nor Magsaysay camp," Lacbain said.

He said past SBMA chairmen, Gordon and former Rep. Felicito Payumo, hailed from Olongapo City and Bataan, respectively. The freeport straddles these areas.

Lacbain suggested former Executive Secretary Ruben Torres; Philip Camara, a development worker, banker and currently, the private sector representative for tourism at the regional development council; Edwin Mendaros, a real estate developer and banker; and Luis Abueva, a civil society leader.

Businessmen here and top officials of Zambales said they would welcome any appointee.

Jimmy Vicente, secretary general of the Automotive Rebuilders Association of Subic (Aris), said investors prefer appointees who are not identified with any politician to replace Licuanan and SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio.

Tonette Orejas, Allan Macatuno and Carmela Reyes, PDI Central Luzon Desk


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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Battle for SBMA Chairmanship heats on

Gordon denies hand in Arreza’s appointment


By PATRICIA ESTEVES, The Manila Times Reporter

Administration Sen. Richard Gordon said the Magsaysays of Zambales are lobbying to clinch the chairmanship of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Last week Francisco Licuanan has quit his position amid rumors that he was let go by President Arroyo in exchange for the support of Senator Gordon to stave off the impeachment complaint against her.

Earlier, Sen. Joker Arroyo accused Gordon of trading off his vote in the impeachment in exchange for the appointment of Armand Arreza, his protégé, as a replacement for SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio. Gordon has denied allegations.

Gordon maintained that he has no vested interests in Subic and if there are people who are interested in the post, these are the Magsaysays.

Gordon said his sources told him that the Magsaysays’ are going to put up their own people in Subic.

"I first heard that it would be Jose Vicente Magsaysay, who wants to clinch the position. And now I heard it is going to be Zambales Governor Vic Magsaysay, who wants to take over. I understand that they are lobbying," Gordon said at a press conference.

Besides Vic and son JV Magsaysay, Gordon said Congress-woman Mitos Magsaysay, JV Magsaysay’s wife, Tony Diaz and another cousin, AVE Party-list Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay are lobbying for the SBMA chairmanship.

Gordon added that he received information that former congressman Rene Diaz also wants to be SBMA chairman.

Gordon cited that the Magsaysays have all the reason to pressure the President and give them "priority positions."

Asked why the Magsaysays were interested in coveting the position, Gordon said it was probably because they own a firm involved in selling of cars.

"I know that they have a car business, and they own the Subic Bay Motors," Gordon said, noting that smuggling in Subic has become so rampant in the last seven years and that the illegal activity has robbed Subic of investments.

Gordon defended Arreza’s appointment, saying Arreza is highly qualified.

"The appointment of Mr. Arreza should be inspirational. He has come full circle. You can’t say Arreza is not qualified because if he is not then he cannot be accepted in Wharton," Gordon said.

"I hope the President will stick to her guns in appointing Arreza."

Importers of used vehicles move from Subic to Cagayan's Port Irene

Importers of used vehicles find haven in Cagayan’s Port Irene
By Charlie Lagasca, The Philippine Star

PORT IRENE, Santa Ana, Cagayan — Importers and dealers of used vehicles have found a new haven in this northernmost town.

Julian Gonzales, principal engineer of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), said the slightly used vehicles arriving here mostly come from Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

Since last June 28, four shipments have arrived in this international seaport, with the first comprising of 249 slightly used vehicles.

At present, more than 700 vehicles, each costing P200,000 to P700,000, depending on the quality, brand and model, are up for sale.

Port Irene, named after one of the daughters of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, was established in the 1980s. The CEZA, created in 1992 during the administration of President Fidel Ramos, is managing it.

A number of used car importers from the Subic Bay Freeport have shifted their business here.

Belying reports of alleged smuggling here, Abe Peralta, port operations officer, said all imported vehicles arriving here are properly monitored and documented and have to pass through legal procedures before they are sold.

Peralta said they had to hire former Subic workers to convert the right-hand-drive vehicles to left-hand drives. He added, though, that they would hire locals in the future.

He said seven former Subic-based used car importers have found their way to Port Irene, with more expressing their desire to relocate here.

Port Irene is some three hours through a well-paved highway from Tuguegarao City, the provincial capital.
 
 
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Palace keeps mum on Licuanan resignation

Magsaysays eyeing the post, says Gordon

By Veronica Uy, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, INQ7.net


MALACAÑANG has remained tight-lipped as it begged off Monday from dwelling further on the resignation of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Francisco Licuanan III.

“The resignation has been accepted. We wish Mr. Licuanan all the best in his endeavors. I don’t think we should dwell further on this issue,” Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said when asked to comment on allegations that Licuanan had been sacrificed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a bid to gather more allies in Congress to thwart the impeachment case against her.

Licuanan on Friday confirmed he had resigned as adviser for the Subic-Clark Growth Corridor and as chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. He said he preferred that Malacañang make the announcement on why he quit government.

Pro-administration Senator Richard Gordon also denied earlier that he had a hand in the resignation of Licuanan, an executive at Ayala Land before joining the Arroyo administration in September 2004.

President Arroyo’s appointment of SBMA Director Armand Arreza, a protégé of Gordon, instead of Licuanan’s nominee Roberto Garcia, hastened the SMBA chairman’s resignation, reports said.

But Gordon clarified Monday he was recommending Arreza only as member of board of directors, not chairman-administrator of SBMA as earlier reported.

Instead, Gordon was recommending Rodolfo “Inky” Reyes for the SBMA top post.

Bunye said the President has yet to appoint a replacement for Licuanan, adding there was no confirmation yet whether Arreza would take the top SBMA post.

At the peak of SBMA operations, investments reached four billion dollars and 70,000 jobs were created, Gordon said. “Now, it’s just pure promises…”

 
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Early passage of JDV measure on Clark tax incentives sought

Early passage of JDV measure on Clark tax incentives sought
Business leaders fear transfer of investors to China or Vietnam

    

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga — Members of the provincial board have endorsed the early passage by Congress of a bill seeking the retention of tax and duty-free incentives to locators and investors at the Clark Special Economic Zone.

Joint House Resolution No. 9, originally authored by Speaker Jose de Venecia and co-authored by 180 congressmen, was designed to assure the 375 foreign and local investors-locators in Clark zone that the tax incentives they had been enjoying would be retained.

The House resolution was filed after the Supreme Court nullified last July 29 the tax incentives granted by Clark zone locators through an executive order issued by former President Ramos in 1993.

The De Venecia measure was endorsed by Pampanga Gov. Mark T. Lapid, members of the provincial board, in a recently approved resolution authored by Tars Halili.

The Pampanga Mayors League also passed a similar resolution authored by Marino Morales of Mabalacat.

Halili said that based on the Supreme Court decision, Clark locators-investors are required to pay back taxes for the past several years.

De Venecia’s measure is entitled "Joint Resolution confirming the legislative intent of the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 (RA 7227) to grant tax and duty-free incentives to the Clark Special Economic Zone and other special economic zones created under Section 15 of the said Act."

Victor Jose Luciano, executive vice president of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), said that Clark executives have been working on the retention of duty-free incentives to the investors. He said that Sen. Ralph Recto has sponsored a resolution in the Senate on the rationalization of tax incentives.

Central Luzon business and civic leaders headed by Romy P. Yusi Sr., regional governor for Central Luzon of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PPCCII), have joined local officials in endorsing the De Venecia resolution.

Yusi said that if the Supreme Court decision is enforced, foreign and local investors-locators in the Clark zone would transfer their operations to other tax-friendly nations, such as China and Vietnam.

Yusi said that this would result in the dislocation of some 34,600 workers.

He added that Clark’s estimated annual exports of $869 million and the locator’s tax contributions of more than R272 million yearly and CDC’s income of R38 million would be lost.

 
 
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THE BETTER SIDE OF THE PHILIPPINES

The following was written by INTEL General Manager Robin Martin about the Philippines:

Filipinos (including the press, business people and myself) tend to dwell too much on the negative side, and this affects the perception of foreigners, even the ones who have lived here for a while.  The negative perception of the Philippines is way disproportionate to reality when compared to countries like Columbia, Egypt, Middle East, Africa, etc.

Let us all help our country by balancing the negative with the positive especially when we talk to foreigners, whether based here or abroad. Looking back and comparing the Philippines today and 1995 (the year I came back), I was struck by how much our country has progressed physically.

Consider the following:

1. The great telecom infrastructure that we have now did not exist in 1995. 1995 was the year the  telecom industry was deregulated.  Since then billions of dollars have been invested in both fixed line and cellular networks producing a system with over 5,000 kms of fiber optic backbone at a world competitive cost. From a fixed line capacity of about 900,000 in 1995 we now have over 7 million.  Cellular phones practically did not exist in 1995; now we have over 11 million line capacity.

2. The MRT, many of the EDSA flyovers (including the Ayala Avenue flyover), the SKYWAY, Rockwell and  Glorietta 4, the Fort, NAIA terminal 2 and most of the new skyscrapers were not yet built in 1995.

3. If you drive to the provinces, you will notice that national roads are now o f good quality (international quality asphalt roads). I just went to Iba, Zambales last week and I was impressed that even a not so frequently travelled road was of very good quality.

4. Philippine exports have increased by 600% over the past eight years. There are many, many more examples of progress over the last eight years. Philippine mangoes are now exported to the US and Europe.

Additional tidbits to make our people prouder:

1. INTEL has been in the Philippines for 28 years. The Philippines plant is where Intel's most  advanced products are launched, including the Pentium IV. By the end of 2002, Philippine operations are expected to be Intel's biggest assembly and testing operations worldwide.

2. TEXAS INSTRUMENTS has been operating in Baguio for; over 20 years. The Baguio plant is the largest producer of DSP chips in the world.  DSP chips are the brains behind cellphones. TI's Baguio plant produces the chip that powers 100% of all NOKIA cellphones and 80% of Erickson cellphones in the world.

3. TOSHIBA laptops are produced in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

4. If you drive a BENZ, BMW, or a VOLVO, there is a good chance that the ABS system in your car was made in the Philippines.

5. TREND-MICRO, makers of one of the top anti virus software PC-Cillin (I may have mispelled this)  develops its "cures" for viruses right here in Eastwood Libis, Quezon City.  When a virus breaks in any computer system in the world, they try to find a solution within 45 minutes of finding the virus.

6 . By the end of this year, it is expected that a majority of the top ten U.S. Call Center firms in the U.S. will have set up operations in the Philippines.  This is one area in which I believe we are the best in the world in terms of value for  money.

7. America Online (AOL) has 1,000 people in Clark answering 90% of AOL's global e-mail inquiries.

8. PROCTOR & GAMBLE has over 400 people right here in Makati (average age 23 years) doing back-up office work to their Asian operations including finance, accounting, Human Resources and payments processing.

9. Among many other things it does for its regional operations network in the Asia-Pacific region here in Manila, CITIBANK also does its global ATM programming locally.

10. This is the first year ever that the Philippines will be exporting cars in quantity courtesy of FORD Philippines.

11. The government is shedding off graft and corruption slowly but surely. This is the first time in our history that a former president is in jail and facing charges of plunder. Despite all odds, we  are still pursuing the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos now enjoyed by his unrepentant heirs.

Next time you travel abroad and meet business associates tell them the good news.  A big part of our problem is perception and one of the biggest battles can be won simply by believing and by making others believe.

This message is shared by good citizens of the Philippines who persevere to hope and work for our country.
 
 
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for latest developments in Olongapo Freeport City, GawangGapo, Sanggunian, BagumbayanVolunteers, InterGapo Wow Wow Win Subik edPiano

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gordon: No politics in Subic shake-up

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Gordon: No politics in Subic shake-up
Senator says he's not after SBMA post

By Tonette Orejas, TJ Burgonio, Inquirer News Service



Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the Aug. 29, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer


SENATOR RICHARD Gordon yesterday scoffed at reports that he had a hand in the sudden resignation of Francisco Licuanan III as chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Gordon branded as unfair insinuations that he influenced the appointment of SBMA director Armand Arreza, a protégé of the senator, as a replacement for SBMA administrator Alfredo Antonio.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's decision to appoint Arreza, instead of Licuanan's nominee Roberto Garcia, hastened the SBMA chairman's resignation, according to sources. Garcia is the president of automotive battery maker Ramcar.

"Why are we being blamed for the resignation of one who already made money at Ayala?" Gordon said in a phone interview, referring to Licuanan, former president of Ayala Land Inc.

"We are not after his job," said the senator, a former SBMA chair.

Maverick administration Senator Joker Arroyo and Inquirer sources said Saturday that Licuanan was sacrificed by the President in a bid to muster more allies to fend off the impeachment case against her. Three impeachment complaints accuse the President of vote-rigging and other illegal acts.

Gordon denied reports that Arreza's appointment was a tradeoff for his vote against the impeachment of Ms Arroyo if the complaint gets transmitted from the House of Representatives to the Senate for trial.

"Do you think I will vote against the impeachment case? Am I a robot who can't think for myself?" he said.


Unfair

Asked if he had dangled support for the President in the impeachment issue as a condition for the appointment of his nominees to the SBMA, Gordon said that was "very, very unfair" to the President.

"I'm shocked," he said of his reaction to Senator Arroyo's statements.

Gordon said that if he were pro-Ms Arroyo, he would not have asked the President's son Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo to go on leave at the height of calls for the President to resign.

Ms Arroyo has neither become hostage to the impeachment case "nor to any political interest groups," her political adviser said.

"Normal or cyclical organizational movements in the government bureaucracy are just given more political color and meaning where there are none," the President's political adviser Gabriel Claudio said in a text message.

Contrary to the reports, Gordon said he had neither recommended Arreza for Antonio's post nor planned to use him to regain control of the free port, which he had administered in the 1990s.

Pichay's first cousin

"Is that how low the Inquirer thinks of me?" he said, unable to hide his disgust over the paper's banner story yesterday, which quoted several sources as saying that Gordon had pushed for Arreza's appointment for his personal interest. "I got the raw end of the deal here."

The senator reiterated that it was Inky Reyes, a former SBMA volunteer like Arreza, whom he had recommended for the administrator's post, which Antonio left following his transfer to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' Monetary Board.

Reyes was deputy administrator and chief of staff of Gordon when the latter served as SBMA chairman from 1992 to 1998.

Gordon said he had recommended Arreza, his finance manager at the SBMA, to the SBMA board of directors and got the position.

Gordon also defended Arreza from insinuations that he clinched his appointment because he had the right connections in government. Arreza is a first cousin (not brother-in-law as earlier reported) of staunch presidential ally Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay.

"That is very unfair to the guy. Armand is a very decent man. I practically raised this guy. When nobody was interested in Subic, young people with a good education like him took the risk by volunteering for Subic," he said, recalling the collective effort of volunteers to rebuild the free port in the aftermath of the Mt. Pinatubo eruptions and the departure of the American military in 1991.

"We got jobs, we got Subic going. What's wrong with that?"

Arreza, who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1993 with a degree in industrial engineering, served as Gordon's finance director, and later attended the Wharton School in the United States. He also served as Gordon's undersecretary at the Department of Tourism.


Smuggling

Instead of airing criticisms, Senator Arroyo should look into the reports of smuggling in the free port, a former United States military base covering the provinces of Zambales and Bataan, Gordon told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

"He always criticizes. He better look into what (former SBMA chair Felicito) Payumo did in Subic. Much of it was about smuggling," Gordon said.

Payumo, who was installed in July 1998 by then President Joseph Estrada after almost three months of a standoff with Gordon, said the senator was sidetracking the issue.

"[Gordon] wants to corner the top posts there by pressuring the President, knowing how vulnerable she is now," Payumo told the Inquirer.

Payumo said it was during Gordon's term as SBMA chair that the auction of used vehicles and the importation of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) began. The latter was done without payment of the ad valorem tax.

"There was also smuggling during [Gordon's] time," he said.

Disallowed expenditures

"I thought the issue is Gordon trying to get back Subic by holding the President hostage with his impeachment threat. He wants to divert the issue. Why does he not answer his P854-million disallowed expenditures?" Payumo said in a text message to the Inquirer.

He said it was during the time of Gordon that smuggling began, with more than 300 vehicles avoiding P300 million in ad valorem taxes by merely adding jump seats.

"He started the used vehicles auction by the Ritchie brothers. At least during my term, conversion to left-hand was declared legal by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, Office of the President and the House committee on transportation," Payumo said.

Gordon also appealed to his critics to "keep my wife out" of the controversy.

Former Olongapo Mayor Katherine Gordon, he said, had no plans to run for any elective position or join the SBMA.

He scored Inquirer sources for portraying the couple in a bad light by claiming they had political plans and that they were out to use Subic to wield such powers.

"Binastos kaming mag-asawa (We were insulted)," Gordon said.

Gordon said it was his "duty to make sure [the Subic free port] succeeds." That, he said, was his only agenda.

Gordon's concern for Subic stemmed from the pullout of Federal Express and, much earlier, several companies like Acer. He voiced this out to some 300 Rotarians gathered in Olongapo City on Saturday.

"That is why I want to have a direct role in the development of Subic. If not, we are all going to suffer," he said.

Gordon said he found it a "weak excuse" for Licuanan to resign because he found it improper that a senator would be lobbying for posts or if he disapproved of the senator's nominees.

"I don't think it's the only reason. There may have been other reasons," Gordon said.

Governor Magsaysay

Zambales Governor Vicente Magsaysay was reportedly among the politicians who also lobbied Ms Arroyo to accept the resignation of Licuanan.

Last week, according to a top Zambales official, Magsaysay wrote Ms Arroyo to complain about the SBMA policy against the auction of used vehicles imported via the free port.

Magsaysay, according to the source, facilitated the meeting between the President and Zambales Representative Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay, the governor's daughter-in-law.

Representative Magsaysay reportedly supports the impeachment case against the President.

Governor Magsaysay confirmed he met with Ms Arroyo last week but denied that he had sought the resignation of either Licuanan or Antonio.

"I told the President that I support Mr. Antonio as administrator," Magsaysay told the Inquirer in a telephone interview yesterday.

He said his daughter-in-law was not at the meeting. The governor also said he did not discuss with the President where his daughter-in-law stood in the impeachment issue.

With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

Sunday, August 28, 2005

An Original Volunteer is the new SBMA Administrator

Volunteers are all-out in support of the President's appointment of the new SBMA Administrator Armand Areza who will replace Freddie Antonio who resigned in order to transfer to Philippine Monetary Board.  Areza is one of the 8,000 original Subic Volunteers who have shown his dedication to ensure the success of Subic.
 
The resignation of Licuanan with some quarter's insinuation that Gordon (who is known to be close to Areza) will gain control over Subic Freeport is baseless and unfair, according to Balikatan Ladies.  It is only proper for the President to appoint to a position somebody who really cares and is knowledgable of the institution.
 
Olongapo residents supports the President's appointment of Areza and is grateful in her recognition and appreciation  of the volunteers' sacrifices.
 
 


Visit SubicBay, Philippines website for latest developments in Subic Bay and Olongapo City


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SBMA leadership issue once again made headlines

LICUANAN EXIT

By Juliet Labog-Javellana, Tonette Orejas, Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the August 28, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE RESIGNATION of Francisco Licuanan III as chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) shows how President Macapagal-Arroyo has become hostage to the impeachment issue, Sen. Joker Arroyo said yesterday.

The senator said Licuanan, retired president of Ayala Land Inc. when he was tapped to head the SBMA less than a year ago, was an excellent choice and was respected and well-liked by Ms Arroyo as a professional with a vision for Subic.

"Unfortunately, some persons high up wanted control of Subic and were waving the flag of impeachment. The President yielded to effectively dilute Licuanan's powers as [SBMA chair]," Senator Arroyo said, adding:

"The President has become hostage to impeachment demands."

The maverick administration senator declined to name the persons who supposedly want to control Subic, but Inquirer sources said political horse-trading had caused Licuanan's unexpected resignation.

A source said Licuanan quit when Ms Arroyo decided to appoint Armand Arreza, an SBMA director identified with Sen. Richard Gordon, as the replacement of SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio.

Another source close to Licuanan said he did not take it too well when Ms Arroyo bypassed his nominee, Roberto Garcia, president of automotive battery-maker Ramcar, and chose Arreza.

Yet another source confirmed that Arreza's appointment had caused Licuanan's departure, and said the turnover to Antonio would take place next week.

According to this source, Arreza is a brother-in-law of Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, one of Ms Arroyo's staunchest defenders in the House.

As administrator, Arreza would be technically subordinate to Licuanan, but the latter felt that Arreza would "follow Gordon's orders" and not his, according to the first source.

The source said Licuanan had learned from Tom Alcantara, a close adviser of the President, that Gordon pushed for Arreza's appointment so he could regain "control" of the free port.

"Gordon said he needs Subic because he needs money for the next election [for mayor of Olongapo] to defeat [Zambales Gov. Vicente] Magsaysay," Alcantara reportedly said.

Not running

Gordon, who served as the first chair of the SBMA, vehemently denied the allegation that he needed funds to run for mayor of Olongapo.

"What election? I'm not running in the next election," said Gordon, who was elected senator in 2004 and whose term will last up to 2010. "We've always ran in Olongapo and we never needed money for that."

He said not even his wife Kate wanted to run for any post: "In fact, the President wants Kate to be chair [of SBMA] but she doesn't want it."

Gordon said Arreza was his finance director in the SBMA during his term. But he said he had recommended Inky Reyes, not Arreza, to the post of SBMA administrator.

The source said Licuanan had been told that Arreza would "follow" his, and not Gordon's, orders.

But Licuanan was reportedly unconvinced, and felt that his plan for the SBMA and the Subic-Clark development program would be put in peril with Arreza's appointment.

When Licuanan's concerns were conveyed to the President, she reportedly said: "Because of the impeachment, I have to give way."

"Can you imagine giving Subic to Gordon because his vote is needed [in case the impeachment case reaches the Senate]?" the source said.

'Leaking falsehoods'

Joker Arroyo assailed the Palace for the earlier statement of an unnamed top official that Licuanan quit because he "did not have a taste for bureaucratic life," that he could not handle the heavy workload at the SBMA, and that its setting was just "too stressful" for him.

"Malacanang must learn to be prudent and just keep quiet when [it] cannot tell the truth instead of leaking, through so-called sources, falsehoods about why Francisco Licuanan resigned," the senator said.

He said Licuanan was "too decent a man to state the true reason for his resignation."

"He won't do a Hyatt 10," Senator Arroyo said, referring to the economic managers and Cabinet officials who quit last month and demanded Ms Arroyo's resignation.

"But this episode, with the President faced with impeachment, is being replicated with such frequency. This messy impeachment should be put to an end one way or the other before it ruins the country," the senator said.

'Wrong impressions'

In an interview with the Inquirer yesterday in Pampanga, all Licuanan wanted to talk about were the "wrong impressions" that he did not like the bureaucratic setup and that he couldn't stand up to the pressures of being SBMA chair.

"I was quite happy with my job," he declared. "In fact, I was exhilarated by the accomplishments we've made. We've been gaining momentum and embarking on new initiatives."

These include starting the budget flights at the Clark Special Economic Zone, restructuring the joint-venture project with a Taiwanese group, and getting more investments, he said.

"I was not born to a rich life, so I can take pressure and hard work," Licuanan said, adding that he would return to the private sector.

A top SBMA official close to Licuanan said Gordon's "insistence to put his trusted guy there, one who was not acceptable" to Licuanan, caused the latter's resignation.

"He believes that appointments should be made on the basis of qualifications, not political connections or considerations," the official said.

Clark Development Corp. (CDC) president Antonio Ng described Licuanan as an "honorable and professional executive whose primary interest is the common good," and said he was a "great loss."

CDC vice president Victor Jose Luciano called Licuanan a "vital, credible and respected link" of the CDC to the Arroyo Cabinet.

Control of SBMA

Gordon reportedly wanted control of SBMA to protect his hold on Olongapo.

His brother, Olongapo Mayor James Gordon, is reportedly threatened by the plan of Governor Magsaysay to run for mayor in 2007.

Magsaysay's daughter-in-law, Ma. Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay, defeated Kate Gordon in the last election in the first congressional district of Zambales.

Gordon was not amused by the accusations.

"I gave the best years of my life to Subic and I suffered so much pain. I haven't returned to my house there in seven years," he said, recalling how then President Joseph Estrada forcibly ousted him from the SBMA and replaced him with Felicito Payumo in 1998.

But Gordon said he was happy with the choice of Arreza as new SBMA administrator.

Arreza was tourism undersecretary when Gordon was secretary, but he resigned after Gordon quit to run for the Senate.

Gordon said Arreza had solid credentials; was among the first volunteers at Subic, joining him as his finance director right after graduating from the Ateneo in 1993 with a degree in industrial engineering, and studied at the prestigious Wharton School in the United States.

"Who better to put there than someone who had sacrificed for Subic right from the start?" he said in a phone interview with the Inquirer.

Inky Reyes

But for all that, Gordon said he had nominated Inky Reyes who, according to sources, was related to someone close to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Gordon said that when Alfredo Antonio said he would resign as SBMA administrator to join the Monetary Board, he asked that Reyes be named to replace him.

"And I did not recommend that [Licuanan] be removed," Gordon said.

He said he phoned Licuanan when he learned about the latter's resignation.

He quoted Licuanan as saying that he (Gordon) would have control of the SBMA through Arreza.

"I think he (Licuanan) does not want someone to challenge him," Gordon said.

With a report from Gil Cabacungan Jr.

 
 

Monday a special holiday for schools, govt offices only

Malacañan on Saturday announced that August 29, Monday, has been declared a special holiday in observance of National Heroes Day, which falls on a Sunday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said there will be no classes in all levels of public and private schools. Government offices will also have no work.

Private companies, on the other hand, are not included in the directive and will have work on that day, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye clarified.

Ermita's directive corrected an earlier announcement by Bunye that Monday would be an ordinary working day.

The National Heroes Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of August every year.

 
 

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Preparations on for transfer of NAIA flights to Clark airport


CLARK ZONE, Pampanga — Preparations are under way for the transfer of international and domestic flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here.

Danilo Augusto Rancia, president and chief executive officer of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIACor), disclosed this information after he attended a meeting in Manila which was participated in by at least 60 top executives of major international airlines, including Lufthansa and Continental Airlines.

The meeting was called by the officers of the Association of South East Asian Nations Airlines Cooperators Council (AAOC).

It was predicted in the AAOC meeting that the full development of DMIA into an international airport would take at least six years and that the transfer of the flights from NAIA to DMIA would begin in 2012 earlier when the saturation level of DMIA is met, Francia said.

One reason for the transfer is that DMIA is four times bigger than 600 hectare NAIA.

Some of the projects being undertaken in the DMIA complex with R2-billion funding released by the Manila International Airport Corp. (MIAC) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), as approved by President Arroyo, are the construction of a modern passenger terminal, upgrading of additional runways and installation of the $11-million state-of-the-art radar system.

The installation of these facilities is expected to fully modernize DMIA and enable it to accommodate big aircraft.

Formerly the biggest American military airport in the Asia Pacific Region until it was dismantled in 1991, Clark zone was declared in 1997 by then President Fidel Ramos as the "premier international gateway to the Philippines."

Through an executive order, Ramos set aside at least 22,700 hectares of Clark zone’s 4,400 hectares for what is called the "aerotropolis".

Renamed DMIA in honor of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, father of President Arroyo, the airport has been developed to take in more international and domestic flights as early as three years ago upon the initiative of former Clark Development Corp. (CDC) president Emmanuel Y. Angeles and Executive Vice President Victor Jose Luciano.

 
 

More incentives sought for Subic, Clark, Poro Point ecozones


By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Sen. Richard Gordon has filed a bill seeking to expand the incentives granted to investors in the Clark, Subic and Poro Point special economic zones through the extension of uniform incentives granted by the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.

Gordon said the bill would clear the "uncertainty among many investors" caused by recent Supreme Court rulings on "the lack of an express legislative grant of incentives" to investors in those special economic zones.

"Because this unexpected development has been perceived as suddenly changing the rules in the middle of the game, some investors have threatened to shut down operations and lay off workers, with some already contemplating to leave the country," Gordon said in a statement.

According to Gordon, "if this matter is not addressed soon, then development in these special economic zones will come to a halt as investors will be inclined to locate elsewhere."

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, to clearly provide for incentives to investors in the Clark Special Economic Zone and the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone and to provide "uniformity of incentives as well."

It also seeks to provide for an express grant of the freeport status to the Poro Point Special Economic and Freeport Zone, "thus ensuring the free flow or movement of goods and capital within, into and exported out of Poro Point, with the same incentives as the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone."

In his bill, Gordon proposed an amendment to RA 7227, providing that "businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone may also avail of the incentives as provided under Republic Act No. 7916, as amended, or the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.

Another proposed amendment provides that business establishments operating within Clark Special Economic Zone and other special economic zones shall be entitled to the incentives as provided for under the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.

A third proposed amendment provides that the Poro Point Special Economic and Freeport Zone shall be subject to the same policies as the Subic Special Economic Zone. The Poro Point Special Economic Zone shall have the same Freeport status and enjoy the same incentives as the Subic Special Economic Zone.

In proposing the amendments, Gordon referred to the decisions of the Supreme Court in Coconut Oil Refiners Inc. vs. Torres rendered on July 29, 2005, and on John Hay Peoples Alternative Coalition vs. Lim on Oct. 24, 2003. In both decisions, the High Court noted "the lack of an express legislative grant of incentives to investors" in the Clark Special Economic Zone and other special economic zones.

"To assuage the fear of investors brought about by the recent Supreme Court decisions and to ensure the continued development in these zones, passage of this bill is earnestly sought," Gordon said
 

Friday, August 26, 2005

26 August 2005 Update on Dredging Project

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A loader arrived today to complement the dredging operation of the two buckhoe that started stockpiling since yesterday. According to Mannix, they have thus far hauled 15 truckloads to landfill.

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Stockpiling Operations at Sta Rita River

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Wide-angle shot of the Sta Rita river looking at direction of Barangay West Bajac Bajac
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Photographs taken by Councilor Edwin J. Piano (from Sta. Rita Bridge) during inspection early this morning.

SENATE OKS BARANGAY POLL RE-SCHED TO 2006

The Senate today passed on third reading the bill re-setting the barangay elections scheduled for the last Monday of October 2005 to the last Monday of October 2006 and provided for hold-over for ex-officio positions in the sanggunians.

Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws Chairman Richard Gordon said that although the committee report originally provided for May 2007 as the date of the elections, in accordance with the policy of synchronization with the national and local polls, the adjustment to October 2006 was made after extensive debate and was propelled by the need to move the legislation out of the Senate and into the bicameral conference committee in view of the urgency of the measure.

The House of Representatives has earlier approved House Bill 3742 which sets the date of the election to the second Monday of May 2008 and provides for the conduct of elections for ex-officio positions in the sanggunians.

A conference committee of both the Senate and the House of Representatives will be convened to reconcile conflicting provisions of the Senate and House versions to produce a reconciled bill.

Gordon has earlier proposed for the re-setting of the said elections in 2007 to minimize expenditures and give the government time to review, study and implement the rationalization of the barangays as it was disclosed during the past deliberations that there exists barangays with no (zero) number of residents who receive IRA and budget from the national government.

“While I remain hopeful that synchronized national, local and barangay elections will push through, I am confident that no matter what the outcome of the bicam conference, it will be the product of thoughtful deliberation aimed at serving the best interests of our people,” said Gordon.

Since the enactment of the Local Government Code, barangay elections have been held in 1994, 1997, and 2002. The next elections was previously scheduled in October of this year, however, Congress has to postpone it due to unavailability of the 2.89 billion pesos required funding for it

Virtual meetings can save energy, says GMA

 

By Max V. De Leon, Manila Times Reporter 

PRESIDENT Arroyo suggested on Thursday that government officials hold virtual conferences instead of face-to-face meetings to save on energy.

Holding meetings through the Internet or teleconferencing is one of creative ways Mrs. Arroyo proposed to enable the government to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent.

“Face-to-face meetings means the officials will have to ride cars,” the President said when informed by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Waldo Flores that Malacañang’s energy audit team will have to meet with the energy conservation officers of government agencies.

She suggested that to be more efficient, the government should make full use of the new trends in information technology.

Besides, the President said, she was already receiving ranking officials in Malacañang so there is no need to hold other meetings.

Energy Undersecretary Peter Abaya, who heads the energy conservation audit team with Flores, announced that the monitoring of the electric and fuel consumption of government offices will start next week.

Abaya said the 15-man team will be subdivided into three groups—one each for electricity, fuel and documentation.

Monitoring the compliance with energy conservation measures will be done in just 45 minutes, he said.

Agencies will get grades of A for five-star rating and score of 90 to 100, B for three-star rating and score of 80 to 89, C for one-star rating and score of 70 to 79 and F for failed and score of 69 and below.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said there is no need to reward the most energy-efficient offices, since getting their marks published is recognition in itself.

The government hopes to save at least P80 million a month from its energy conservation program.

Bunye said the program also consists in selling old government cars that are gas-guzzlers.

The audit team is drawing up the rules for auctioning the vehicles.

Flores said the Office of the President saved 18,782 liters of fuel from January to June compared with the same period last year, an 11.85-percent drop.

President Arroyo hopes the government’s efforts would be supported by the business sector and civil society

 
 

Subic car importers get TRO vs P500,000 tax on used car imports


By Marianne V. Go, The Philippine Star

Subic importers have scored another victory against government measures to stop the importation of used motor vehicles.

This time around, Subic importers have been able to secure a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the implementation of Executive Order 418 which imposes a P500,000 specific tax on used car imports.

Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 issued the TRO Aug. 23, thus temporarily stopping the District Collector of Customs of the Port of Subic from collecting the additional specific duty on used motor vehicles imported into the country.

Malacañang had issued EO 418 to stop the entry into the local market of second-hand used vehicles which pose both an environmental and safety hazard.

The Arroyo administration imposed the specific tax on used car imports as it has, so far, been unable to stop the importation of second hand vehicles through the freeports which continue to question the legality of a government imposed ban on such vehicle importations.

Imported second-hand vehicles are supposedly environmentally hazardous because in their country of origin they are normally at the end of their life span and their assemblers no longer produce replacement parts.

Such vehicles are exported as scrap and end up in the Philippines. The P500,000 specific would be on top of the 30 percent most favored nation (MFN) rate, excise tax ranging from two percent to 60 percent depending on the price, and the 10-percent value-added tax imposed on the landed cost.

Most of the second-hand vehicles being imported are right-hand drive vehicles which are then converted to left-hand drive.

Unfortunately, the conversion poses a safety hazard to both the driver and the public in general since the vehicles no longer comply with vehicle safety standards.

The provision banning the importation of used cars under Executive Order 156, or the Motor Vehicle Development Program (MVDP), is still covered by a court injunction.

The local auto industry has been complaining that used cars stunt the growth of the industry.

Auto makers said more than half of the vehicles registered with the Land Transportation Office last year were imported used cars
 
 

Impeachment sparks rift between Magsaysays

The impeachment of President Arroyo has sparked a rift between members of the Magsaysay family.

Sen. Ramon Magsaysay on Thursday castigated his cousin, Alliance of Volunteer Educators party-list Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay, for withdrawing his endorsement of the amended impeachment complaint filed by the opposition.

The senator said his cousin's decision to withdraw his signature "has stunted our pollitical maturity and caused added strain to our political instability."

He added that it is to the higher interest of majority of Filipinos that the impeachment process go forward.

He said he hopes the congressman deliberated thoroughly on his decision while consulting teachers and educators whom he represents.

Magsaysay on Wednesday withdrew his endorsement of the impeachment complaint, saying he has no first-hand knowledge of the charges leveled against Mrs. Arroyo.

He added that his lawyer advised him that signing the impeachment complaint is tantamount to being a "co-complainant" and not just an endorser.

"After perusing meticulously, thoroughly and figuratively every period and comma (of the impeachment complaint), nakita namin ng kasama kong abogado, who is also my chief-of-staff, na hindi ito sapat para guluhin ang taumbayan (I and my lawyer, who is also my chief of staff, saw that the complaint was not enough to trouble the people)," he added.

Magsaysay, a nephew of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, was one of the first to sign the amended impeachment complaint against the Chief Executive last month.

He hinted he may change his mind again once he sees proof that there is probable cause to impeach the President.

The party-list congressman also denied that he was bribed to retract his endorsement.

House Minority Leader Francis Escudero on Thursday downplayed Magsaysay's withdrawal of his endorsement of the amended impeachment complaint.

He added that while Magsaysay's retraction is a setback, the endorsements of five congressmen more than made up for the loss. Representatives Gilbert Remulla of Cavite, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, Edmund Reyes of Marinduque, Robert Jaworski Jr. of Pasig, and Renato Magtubo of the Partido ng Manggagawa Party-list signed the complaint on Tuesday.

Escudero added that he expects two more congressmen to sign the impeachment complaint.

House majority leader Prospero Nograles, meanwhile, said administration congressmen remains solidly behind the President, dashing hopes for opposition lawmakers to recruit more allies from the ruling coalition to impeach Mrs. Arroyo.

 

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dredging of Sta Rita River started today


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Dredging projects to rehabilitate the city's river system started today at Sta Rita River.

The project was awarded to R.D. SADSAD Construction from Angeles City. 63,000 Cu.M. of sand and silt is expected to be excavated in this project which cost P10,000,000.

The desilted materials will be brought to the city's landfill in accordance with the City Ordinance authored by Councilor Edwin Piano. This will ensure ample supply of topsoil neccessary to maintain the sanitary landfill.

Dredging for another part of the city's river system will start anytime next week at Kalaklan River. This project awarded to R.M. VITUG Cosntruction cost P20,000.000 w/ total volume of material to be dredged estimated at 125,775 Cu.M.

Follow link to view more photos to document "before & after" of the project.

GORDON PROPOSES PENALTIES FOR POLITICAL TURNCOATS

 

GORDON PROPOSES PENALTIES FOR POLITICAL TURNCOATS

Senator Richard Gordon filed a bill to strengthen political parties by punishing political “turncoatism” and opportunism.

 

In Senate Bill 2062, Gordon proposed that any member of a political party “who changes political party affiliation any time after being chosen, in accordance with party procedures, on the ticket of that party shall be considered a political turncoat and shall be subject to penalties.”

 

Gordon deplored that “the intended objectives of a political party have been subverted by rampant party-switching in the Philippine political system.  In effect, party-switching has contributed to the stunting of the political maturity of the Philippine electorate, and encouraged transactional leadership instead of transformational leadership.”

 

In his bill, Gordon provided that a political party may decide, in accordance with its constitution and by-laws, that a member who regularly votes with another political party is a political opportunist who would be subject to penalties.

 

However, the bill declares, the penalties would not apply to any party member who acts “by reason of his or her religious, ideological, or moral training and belief [and] has a sincere and conscientious objection to the change in party direction or evolving ideology of his political party, and such objection is not borne out of mere whimsy, convenience or caprice.”

 

Under the proposed measure, a political turncoat or opportunist shall;

(a)   Be prohibited from assuming office, if he changes party affiliation during the election period;

(b)  Forfeit his office if the elected public officer changes political party affiliation during his term of office;

(c)  Be disqualified from running for any elective office in the next succeeding election immediately following the act of changing political party affiliation;

(d)  Be disqualified from being appointed or from holding any position in any pubic or government office for three years after the expiration of his/her current term;

(e)   Be disqualified from assuming any executive or administrative position in his/her new political party; and

(f)    Refund any and all amounts received from his/her political party, plus a 25 percent surcharge thereof.

 

“A political opportunist so considered by his political party in accordance with its constitution and by-laws shall not be entitled to any of the benefits given to party members and may be expelled by his political party,” the bill added.  “He may also be required to refund all amounts received from the political party.”

 

Gordon declared that political parties “serve as a democratic tool” for offering the electorate different options as programs of government and proposing leaders who would carry out their party programs for the best interests of the people.

 

He lamented that the rampant practice of turncoatism had “encouraged the cult of personality in the electorate’s choice of elected officials” and resulted to “non-continuity of government plans, programs and projects which eventually redounds to disadvantages for the Filipino people.”

 

Gordon expressed strong belief that “punishing turncoatism would bring about greater stability into the Philippine political system because it would ensure that membership in political parties will be relatively permanent, and the electorate can expect, if not exact, strict compliance from government officials in terms of the promises and platforms upon which the political party is grounded.”
 


 

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