NAMES OF VOLUNTEERS LISTED IN VOLUNTEERS' SHRINE
"What this country needs is not just a change OF men but a change IN men." Dick Gordon
"What this country needs is not just a change OF men but a change IN men." Dick Gordon
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 ofP21 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 theP21- 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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CITY OF SAN FERNANDOSen. 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 courts 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 courts rulings in Clark and Camp John Hay were issued in July 2005 and October 2003, respectively.
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.
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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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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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 ibat-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 pat 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.
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.
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
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 koy 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.
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
The resignation has been accepted. We wish Mr. Licuanan all the best in his endeavors. I dont 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 Arroyos appointment of SBMA Director Armand Arreza, a protégé of Gordon, instead of Licuanans nominee Roberto Garcia, hastened the SMBA chairmans 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, its just pure promises
Early passage of JDV measure on Clark tax incentives sought
Business leaders fear transfer of investors to China or Vietnam
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 Venecias 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 Clarks estimated annual exports of $869 million and the locators tax contributions of more than R272 million yearly and CDCs income of R38 million would be lost.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 zones 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.
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 Malacañangs 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 groupsone 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 governments efforts would be supported by the business sector and civil society
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 electorates choice of elected officials and resulted to non-continuity of government plans, programs and projects which eventually redounds to disadvantages for the Filipino people.