Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Season's Greetings

English - Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Tagalog - Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon

Ilocano - Naimbag a Pascua ken Naragsac nga Baro nga Tawen!

Cebuano - Malipayong Pasko ug Bulahang Bag-ong Tuig!

Bicolano - Maugmang Capascuhan asin Masaganang Ba-gong Taon!

Pangasinan - Maabig ya pasko & Maliket ya balon taon

Pompangan - Malugud Pascu at saca Masayang Bayung Banua!

Ibanag - nga Pascua

Mangyan - Mayad paq Pasko kag

Moro - Nidli pred naborete nano

Sambal - Maligayang Pasko at Masayang Ba-yon Taon!

Waray-Waray - Maupay nga Pasko ngan Mainuswagon nga Bag-o nga Tuig!

Malayan - Selamat Hari Natal

Bahasa/Malaysia - Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru

Punjabi - Nave sal di mubaraka

Hindi - Shubh Naya Baras

Hawaiian - Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou

Greek - Kala Christougenna Ki'eftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos

German - Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein glückliches Neues Jahr!

Danish - Glædelig Jul og godt nytår

Cantonese - Seng Dan Fai Lok, Sang Nian Fai Lok

Mandarin - Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan

Hebrew - Mo'adim Lesimkha. Shanah Tova

Korean Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Latin - Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis

Lebanese - Milad Saeed wa Sanaa Mubarakah

Italian - Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Sicilian - Bon Natali e Prosperu Annu Novu !

Japanese - Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto

Indonesian - Selamat Hari Natal & Selamat Tahun Baru

French - Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

Iraqi - Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah

Irish - Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Armenian - Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Soorp Janunt

Norweigan/Nynorsk - Eg ynskjer hermed Dykk alle ein God Jul og Godt Nyttår

Arabic - I'D Miilad Said ous Sana Saida

Farsi - Sal-e no mubarak

Portuguese - Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo

Dutch - Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

Romanian - Craciun fericit si un An Nou fericit!

Russian - Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom

Spanish - Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

Swedish - God Jul och Gott Nytt År

Tahitian - Ia ora i te Noere e ia ora na i te matahiti 'api

Ukrainian - Veseloho Vam Rizdva i Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku!

Vietnamese - Chuc Mung Giang Sinh - Chuc Mung Tan Nien

Planned coal plant in Subic opposed

A group of businessmen in the Subic Bay Freeport has opposed the construction of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant on the freeport's Redondo Peninsula, saying the cheaper electricity was not worth the environmental trade offs.

In a position paper submitted to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority on Friday, the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) said the plant's operation would cause irreversible damage to an area it described as having "extremely high biodiversity values and high species endemism."

This, the group said, would lead to the reduced commercial potential of the Freeport.

The Subic Bay Resorts Association in Subic, Zambales, also joined the protest to protect the town's beach, the area's prime attraction.

John Corcoran, SBFCC president, told SBMA officials in the petition's cover letter that the coal plant would be the "final step in the degradation of Subic Bay, reducing the potential to attract tourists."

"It will pollute the air, the land and the water, removing the key ingredients in Subic Bay's prime assets--clean air, clean water and the proximity to nature," Corcoran said.

SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga said the P100-million project was a joint venture of the SBMA and the Taiwanese-led Co-Generation. It would initially provide power to the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin and eventually to the entire freeport, he said.

"It would make business more competitive. The high cost of power is one of the problems of industrial locators," said Salonga in a telephone interview.

Subic Enerzone, the current electricity provider, charges P5 per kilowatt-hour, he said.

Salonga, however, calmed fears of environmental degradation, saying the project would "comply with all rules."

Corcoran said the "only official beneficiaries would be Hanjin and a handful of Taiwanese investors in the Subic Industrial Park."

As the proponent assured in its memorandum of understanding that "all emissions will meet the regulations," the SBFCC reminded SBMA that a pollution study in 1997 showed that Subic Bay, a protected area, has fresh and clean water.

The chamber also expressed skepticism on the capability of local authorities to regulate the project.

The SBFCC recommended the use of gas-fired combined cycle technology that it said was more efficient.

Opposition to coal power plants has been tested in Pangasinan where villagers succeeded in blocking a plan to build a coal plant in one of the village there.

The monitoring of environmental pollution in Subic has been tight following an oil slick that smudged coastlines of Olongapo City recently.

In a recent slick, plastic bags containing oil debris apparently from the Petron oil spill in Guimaras were found floating in the city's coastline.

The garbage bags, containing what may be used bunker oil, appeared to have been deliberately dumped and were ruptured by waves, according to Olongapo officials.

Tonette Orejas Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

Anger in RP over American rapist’s transfer

The transfer of a United States Marine convicted of raping a Filipino woman in Subic to the US Embassy has angered activists and reportedly surprised a government official, who Saturday questioned the move’s legal basis.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was transferred from the city jail in suburban Makati City to the US Embassy in Manila just before midnight Friday.

The move occurred despite calls by various groups that he remain in detention in a Philippine jail.

About 200 protesters staged a picket outside the US Embassy, waving placards calling US President George W. Bush and President Arroyo “the king and queen of rapists.”

Mrs. Arroyo’s chief legal counsel Sergio Apostol said the transfer was authorized by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. A Department of Interior and Local Government official Undersecretary Marius Corpus, claimed that the Constitution cannot be invoked in on this issue since this is an international matter and that the executive action (of ordering the transfer of Smith to the custody of the Americans) is superior to constitutional law.

Palace aides were one in saying that the move to spirit away Smith clandestinely and in the dead of the night, was legal and cannot be questioned by anyone.

A reliable source from the executive branch of government told the Tribune that Malacañang “virtually got the nod of the Court of Appeals when the CA justices merely “noted” the appeal made by the Solicitor General to have Smith transferred.

“Two of the CA justices were ready to rule on the transfer, giving the US government custody of Smith, but one CA justice was against it. This is why it was taking too long and why they now have to have a five man CA to rule on this,” the source informed the Tribune yesterday, stressing that the US custody issue will be upheld in favor of the US.

He added that when it was “noted,” the two justices were asked what it meant, and “they said, do whatever you have to do.”

This was taken to mean by Malacañang that there were no more legal barriers, the source said.

The presidential legal counsel for his part said the decision of Judge Pozon was that the detention of Smith at Makati city jail was temporary and that he can be transferred after an agreement between the Philippines and the United States is reached,” Apostol said.

Apostol said that decision had been complied with after Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and US ambassador Kristie Kenney signed such an accord earlier this month.

Smith’s victim, identified only as “Nicole,” said in a radio interview that the transfer of the marine was a betrayal of the entire country.

“I am dismayed by our government. From the start, I have wanted our fellow Filipinos to understand what I am fighting for. This is not just my struggle, it is a struggle for all of us,” she said.

“They should say our own government cannot protect us. America is better because they can protect their criminals,” she remarked.

Leftist groups threatened to file criminal charges against the officials who authorized the transfer, adding that Smith’s removal late at night was “a treacherous and cowardly act.”

The government move was condemned by militant groups with the militant women’s group Gabriela crying treachery over the underhanded transfer of convicted rapist from the Makati City Jail to the US Embassy last night at about 11 p.m.

The move sparked a protest rally yesterday in front of the US Embassy as the women’ group expressed its outrage over the transfer and called for the Philippine and US officials to surface the criminal.

“Like thieves in the night, the Arroyo administration and its cohorts from the foreign affairs and justice departments as well as the Filipino lawyers for Smith have again done this cunning move,” said Emmi de Jesus, secretary general of Gabriela.

“They have staunchly defended the rapist and the VFA as protector of the rapist, and now they have gone this far to show their servitude to US by allowing the escape of a criminal,” De Jesus said, adding they will hold the involved government officials criminally liable for betrayal of the people’s trust and rape of sovereignty.

Lawyer Evalyn Ursua, the legal counsel of the victim in the Subic rape case, condemned the transfer, “in the dead of night,” of convicted US serviceman back to US custody as “another rape.”

Ursua believes those who effected this transfer, particularly the officials of the Philippine government, should be held criminally and administratively liable.

“They have just raped our Constitution. They just raped our court. They raped our law and they should be held criminally as well as administratively liable,” said Ursua.

Ursua said if it is necessary to file an impeachment case against the President for allowing her officials do this, then they will have to do it. “So whoever did this should be answerable to our courts,” said Ursua, saying she believes the transfer had the blessings of President Arroyo.

“The transfer of Smith was done in the dead of night, knowing that the next day is Saturday, and no court is open. “They did at night so that the public will not know as they did it in secret,” Ursua said.

The US government also received a flak for its role in the transfer of Smith, saying it is a clear indication of foreign intervention and violation of the country’s sovereignty. Ursua said the US and Philippine government disrespected the courts.

“Why did we still have a trial? Why did they still go to the Court of Appeals when they can do whatever they want?”

On opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson’ spart, he said: “What wrong have the Filipino people done to deserve a double whammy from the Arroyo government during the holiday season?

“Garci ( former poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano) and Smith are GMA’s holiday ‘gifts’ to the Filipino people. While cooling herself with husband Mike in Baguio City, her gang leaders in Manila were executing her orders to extricate Garcillano and Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith from the fix they were in,” Lacson said.

With the latest incident, Lacson reiterated his call to the people not to surrender the country’s sovereignty and dignity, “even in the face of a threatening super power.” “If like Mrs. Arroyo we cave in to this threat, we have no business talking about self-respect and love for our country,” he said. With Ben Gines, Jr., AFP and Tribune wires

Convicted Marine Transferred to U.S. Embassy in the Philippines

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, sentenced to 40 years in jail for raping a Filipina in Subic, was transferred to the custody of the U.S. embassy in Manila from a prison last night, embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said.

``He was transported in a U.S. embassy vehicle in coordination with Philippine police,'' Lussenhop said in a phone interview today. ``It was at the order of the government of the Philippines,'' Lussenhop said, when asked if the move violated an earlier court order against the transfer.

On Dec. 19, the Philippine Court of Appeals rejected Smith's petition to stop a lower court from implementing its Dec. 13 ruling denying his request for a transfer to U.S. custody pending the appeal on his conviction. Smith, 21, has been held in a Philippine jail since he was found guilty and sentenced on Dec. 4.

The transfer was in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. that became part of Philippine laws after being ratified by the Senate, Marius Corpus, deputy minister at the Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government, said in an interview aired on ABS-CBN news channel in Manila today.

The Visiting Forces Agreement sets the guidelines for Philippine-U.S. military exercises and the handling of criminal cases involving personnel who take part in them.

The rape took place in November 2005 in Olongapo City, north of Manila, while Smith was on leave after joint war exercises between troops from the two countries. Olongapo is near the former U.S. naval base at Subic Bay, where U.S. ships still dock.

The U.S. has cancelled joint military exercises with Philippine troops planned for 2007 until the custody issue is settled, Lussenhop said on Dec. 22. He didn't say today if the transfer means exercises will resume.

Group Protests

The transfer prompted Gabriela, a women's group in the Philippines, to stage a rally in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila today.

``They have staunchly defended the rapist and the Visiting Forces Agreement as protector of the rapist, and now they have gone this far to show their servitude to United States by allowing the escape of a criminal,'' Gabriela Secretary General Emmi de Jesus said in an e-mailed statement. ``We will hold them criminally liable for their betrayal of the people's trust, this rape of our nation's sovereignty.''
By Luzi Ann Javier - Bloomberg

Zambales awards outstanding "provincianos"

Iba, Zambales -- The provincial government of Zambales recently awarded public citations to outstanding citizens who made their mark in various fields of endeavor, in ceremonies commemorating the UZJ grand centennial celebration in a flashy hotel in Metro Manila.

Given citations in the field of arts and culture were Mrs. Lourdes "Bing" Pimentel, wife of Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel and producer-composer of popular stage musicals like "Pagibig sa Bayan", and "Nasaan si Hesus?"; the Bolipata brothers; artist Anita Magsaysay-Ho; and fashion designer Ben Farrales were honored by the UZJ Grand Centennial Celebration.

Other awardees include Pacita Gonzales, wife of Sec. of Justice Raul Gonzales (business and industry); Mona Valisno and Ma. Trinities Canals (education); Ofelia Huang and Msgr. Chris-Cache (socio-civic/religious); Ernesto Acre, Josefina Lichauco and Erlinda Basilio (professions); and former President Ramon Magsaysay (posthumous), Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Sen. Luisa Ejercito-Estrada, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Richard Gordon, Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, Rep. Antonio Diaz, Gov. Vic Magsaysay, and Sec. Hermogenes Ebdane (for government and public service). (by Recto Mangosing Adamos - PIA)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Losses for Clark, Subic seen due to Balikatan cancellation

The cancellation of next February’s RP-US Balikatan military exercises will cause "minimal to significant losses" to the economies of Clark, Subic Bay Freeport, and the cities of Angeles and Olongapo.

Philippine officials, in separate assessments on Tuesday, said around 5,000 US troops are known to participate in the annual Balikatan exercises. These troops are sent not only to those areas in Central Luzon but also to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Sangley Point in Cavite, Palawan and Sulu, where they avail themselves of various services either directly or through US military contractors.

Levy Laus, president and chief executive officer of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), estimated a 15-percent decline in the income of tourism-related businesses in this economic zone.

Laus could not immediately cite in peso terms the foregone income, but sources in the business community said Holiday Inn alone stands to lose reservations for 60 rooms as a result of the cancellation of the 15-day training. Daily rates for rooms fetch more than P4,000 and villas go for about P10,000.

Montevista and Fontana are also known to rent out their rooms and villas to US troops.

While landing fees for US military aircraft are waived at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, the CDC was going to see down the drain its share of royalties from the fuel contractor Lubewell, said Victor Jose Luciano, Clark International Airport Corp. president.

Some 20 restaurants, 15 duty-free stores and about 100 traders of souvenir items are also going to feel the pinch.

Capt. Burrell Parmer, US Marines spokesperson, had said every soldier spends an average of $50 (P2,469) daily on food and drinks.

"The impact will be significant," Luciano told the Inquirer.

"It is unfortunate that the Balikatan will be suspended," Laus said.

Angeles City, which is outside Clark, will bear "very minimal and insignificant losses" from the war games suspension, Mayor Carmelo Lazatin said. That is because only between 25 and 50 servicemen go "off base" nightly.

"Most of them stay inside Clark," Lazatin said, pointing out that the 5,000 tourists who flock to the city daily are mostly Europeans and Asians.

But on Fields Avenue, the city's red light district, a bar owner said Lazatin could be underestimating the consequences.

"The girls won't get customers," the bar owner said, referring to the practice by "rest and recreation" contractors of transporting sex workers in vans, taking them to where the servicemen stay in Clark.

Quite many though, traveling in groups of five and secured by the local police and military, are known to prefer savoring local cuisine in restaurants declared "relatively safe" from terror threats."

Feliciano Salonga, chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, said the tourism sector at the free port would likely feel the brunt.

"Just on one day, we calculated their expenditures at between P2 million and P3 million on food, souvenir items and hotel use," Salonga said.

That was enough compensation for the docking fees waived on US war ships that come to Subic's Alava Pier, he said. "Malaki ang mawawala (The losses will be big)," he added.

Alma Bulawan, executive director of the women's group Buklod in Olongapo City, welcomed the suspension, saying it would spare bar workers in the city from sexual exploitation.

Van driver Alex said around 100 like him stand not to get transport contracts in February. The US military hires van for P1,800 a day, he said.

Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr. said the economic losses would be great. He said in the Balikatan exercise last year when US personnel were first allowed to spend liberty or rest and recreation in the city, they spent P3 million in a day alone. He said each soldier spent an average of $30 (P1,481).

In Fort Magsaysay, military commanders said about 30 stores and 50 souvenir vendors expect a slump in sales.

The cancellation of the exercises was prompted by a custody dispute between US and Philippines authorities over a US Marine convicted of raping a Filipina
By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer

5-year shipping plan in the works

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has created a committee that will formulate a comprehensive five-year development plan for the ship building sector.

Mrs. Arroyo signed Executive Order 588 creating the ad hoc committee that will be headed by the Maritime Industry Authority.

“The accelerated and sustained development of the ship building and ship repair sector requires the joint and active collaboration between the government and the private sector as shown by even the most developed countries in the world,” the President said.

Members of the committee include representatives of the National Economic Development Authority; the departments of finance, justice, trade, labor, public works, and environment; the Philippine Economic Zone Authority; the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and the Coast Guard.

The President gave the committee 60 days to submit its program for the ship building and repair sector, which received a big boost with the move of Korea’s Hanjin to build the world’s fourth largest shipyard in Subic.

Mrs. Arroyo said that the Hanjin Shipbuilding Facility can generate $3.6 billion in annual sales.

Mrs. Arroyo said if the full capacity of the shipyard is maximized, a total of 60 ships can be constructed worth $60 million each on a year to year basis.

A $40-million training center for shipyard workers was also opened by the Korean firm, which is considered to be one of the world’s largest shipbuilding company.

Construction of the 2.3 million sq m shipyard began in March after Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. signed a lease agreement with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

According to the President, the $1-billion investment of Hanjin has made Korea the biggest source of single foreign direct investment this year.

“We are doing our best to create the most conducive environment for investments, and this is a concrete evidence that the investment climate in the country is good,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The French shipping firm CMA-CGM, which operates container ships in Asia, the Trans-Atlantic, Australia and New Zealand, was the first to order four vessels from Hanjin for next year.

CMA-CGM senior vice president Kevork Hekimian attended the site inspection recently to reaffirm to the President and to Hanjin officials the pre-order which would translate to an estimated sales of $2.4 million.

President Arroyo said some 2,400 Filipinos were employed by Hanjin for the dry-dock construction, and the number would reach 30,000 in the next five years.

For his part, SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga reported that Hanjin already took care of some 196 families of Barangay Cawag who had to be relocated since the company began its clearing operations to prepare the shipyard.

“The families received checks as compensation for their relocation and payment for their houses. The residents were also given a better and more permanent site for relocation near the ship facility,” Salonga said.

Hanjin also released a P2.7 million check for the construction of a public school, church and other public facilities for the relocated residents.
By Joyce Pangco Pañares - Manila Standard Today

CA upholds used-car import ruling

THE Court of Appeals has dismissed the petition of Malacañang contesting the order of an Olongapo City court allowing corporations in the Subic Bay Freeport to intervene in a case involving the importation of second-hand vehicles.

In a seven-page decision promulgated last December 13, the Court’s 8th Division ruled that the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 did not commit grave abuse of discretion in granting the plea of Asia International Auctioneers, Global International Phils. and Subic Bay Motor Corp. to intervene in the trial.

The Court stressed that although private corporations are prohibited from importing or trading in used vehicles, the prohibition is not absolute because the firms are authorized to bring the used vehicles into the freeport, as cited in Article 1 of their Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and the Bureau of Customs filed a petition with the Court of Appeals challenging the Olongapo court order.

The appellate court affirmed the May 30, 2006 ruling of Olongapo Judge Ramon Caguioa that allowed the corporations to question the constitutionality of Executive Order 418, which imposes an additional specific duty of P500,000 for every imported used motor vehicle.

The Court said “…no grave abuse of discretion can be imputed to the respondent judge in allowing the intervention of the private respondents upon a finding that on the basis of the documentary evidence, the private respondents were able to establish the minimum legal interest in the matter in litigation.”

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe wrote the decision that was concurred in by Justices Renato Dacudo and Rosmari Carandang.
--Jomar Canlas - Manila Times

Rent-free ecozones pushed

"The Philippines want Taiwan to relax its immigration rules under the Subic-Clark-Kaoshiung economic corridor"
Taiwan will ask the Philippines to bring down rental costs in economic zones and harmonize policies.

Sheng Bao Tseng, the director general of Taiwan’s Export Processing Zone Administration, said the agency will seek the adoption of its land-rent policies so that more Taiwanese investors could locate in the Philippines.

Taiwanese investors are seeking a cut in income taxes and the threshing out of labor issues, including permits, working conditions and the duration of Filipino workers in Taiwan.

For its part, the Philippines want Taiwan to relax its immigration rules under the Subic-Clark-Kaoshiung economic corridor, an agreement for which was signed in September.

Under the current policy, Filipino workers who undergo training in Taiwan no longer follow strict immigration procedures but legitimate workers are required to follow certain conditions. They could stay in Taiwan for three years on valid working visas and seek three-year extensions. Angelo Samonte, The Manila Times

Olongapo picked as pioneer LGU in use of high-tech GIS in land-asset management

OLONGAPO CITY — The high-technology Geographic Information System (GIS) will be used as part of measures to provide innovative land and asset management here in a bid to attain broadbased economic growth.

During a media briefing, Olongapo City Mayor James "Bong" Gordon Jr. said that the city will be the pioneer local government unit (LGU) identified by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to use GIS.

"This project could stimulate investments by improving the property rights environment for both public and private sector development," Gordon said shortly after signing a memorandum of agreement (MoA) for a R7-million grant of AusAID.

The Australian government is co-financing the Land Administration and Management Project (LAMP) with the World Bank through the Innovation Support Fund (ISF) in the cooperation of the Department of Finance.

Gordon said that the AusAID project will define the role of the city in the integrated economic development program in Central Luzon with the completion of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway scheduled by November next year.

Gordon said that Olongapo will further improve its own land administration and management (LAM) through the development and installation of a unified land information system.

The system would harmonize various data and information on all parcels and areas of land in the city and would facilitate and accelerate decision making and adjudication processes among the LAM agencies.

LAM agencies involve in the project are the office of City Assessor, Treasurer, Business Permit and Licensing, Register of Deeds, and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

LAM agencies operating in the city will be installed with an internet system and will be trained in the use and operations of the GIS.

To complement the development and utilization of the GIS, full and contiguous index mapping will be developed to unify the data and information of the participating LAM agencies.

"Eventually the project aims to establish a real time unified land information system to revitalize the land use planning program and further increase the city’s revenue," City Planning and Development head Architect Tony-Kar M. Balde III said.

Balde added that the project would also eliminate unnecessary procedures and would greatly reduce the cost and time for all LAM transactions that would also strengthen land tenure security.

Australia’s aid program to the Philippines aims to advance the interests of both Australia and the Philippines by contributing growth, sustainable development and stability in the Philippines.

Australian assistance to the Philippines is likewise geared towards strengthening economic governance, promoting security and stability, and improving rural living standards.
By JONAS REYES - Manila Bulletin

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Subic resort owners want fish cages removed quickly

The Subic Bay Resorts Association (Subra) opposed the appeal of the Subic Fish Cages Operators Association (Sufcopas) to the Environmental Management Bureau to defer the agency’s cease-and-desist order on fish cages until February 2007.

The lawyer of Subra, Agustin Chan, registered the opposition in a hearing held at the EMB Central Luzon office here.

Chan said he learned of the extension request by Sufcopas only in Wednesday’s hearing on Subra’s motion for execution of the order dated Aug. 29.

Sufcopas president Danilo Avila sought the extension in a Sept. 11 letter to EMB Regional Director Lormelyn Claudio.

Avila cited the need of members for “ample time to harvest our fish” in cages in 22 hectares of the municipal waters of Subic, Zambales.

It was not known if Claudio approved or turned down the request. She was out of her office on Wednesday, attending a meeting of EMB regional directors in Quezon City, a member of her staff said.

Claudio did not reply to Inquirer’s calls and text messages. The hearing officer declined to give an official statement on the action taken by Claudio pending the latter’s clearance.

Subra’s motion filed on Nov. 23 indicated that the EMB by then had failed to fully enforce its own order. According to the group, some companies “continued to operate and even built new fish cages clearly in defiance of the said Order to the damage and prejudice of the complainants.”

The complainants include Zambales Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, Mark Figueras of the Samahang Pinagkaisa sa Pangisdaan ng Olongapo, Subic at San Antonio (Sap-Sap), Amethya de la Llana of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s ecology department and Senior Insp. Adriano Adsuara of the maritime police.

Chan said the EMB has no basis to give due course to the appeal of Sufcopas because the order was in itself final and executory.

The order gave the operators seven days to dismantle the cages and to resume only when they have secured environmental clearance certificates (ECCs) from the EMB. The order also warned of legal actions for non-compliance.

Sufcopas reported that as of Dec. 18, Sea Horse Aqua Farms reduced its fish cages from 60 to 45; Sahara from 40 to 18; JP to one hectare; and Saka from 120 to 14. Golden Aqua Harvest and Biotop reported “no operation.”

The hearing officer said these pieces of information, including inquiries on the continuing aqua-culture activities, have to be verified by actual visits to the sites. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

Gordon scores Comelec chief for scrapping poll automation plan

Sen. Richard Gordon scored Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos yesterday for virtually shutting the door to partial automation of next year’s elections.

"If we do not do partial automation in 2007, then we won’t be able to fully automate in the 2010 presidential elections," Gordon said. "Every presidency has been plagued by charges of electoral fraud. If we don’t clean up the system now, when?"

Gordon is the chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and the revision of codes and laws. He has also asked Abalos to resign if he cannot ensure the partial automation of the 2007 elections.

"His burlesque display of incompetence and unmitigated insincerity are glaringly apparent," Gordon said. "What about his duty to conduct fast, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections, when there is clearly so little faith in the existing system?"

"If Abalos cannot do the job himself, he should look for a contractor who can," he added. "This is not a time for excuses."

Gordon had recently observed the US’ midterm elections in November and saw various presentations showcasing how the poll computerization technology can be applied in the Philippines.

He also said the Comelec initially participated in crafting the new Automated Election System (AES) measure in Congress and was privy to this bill, but had stopped appearing as the process progressed.

Gordon said the Comelec cannot hide behind the alleged recommendations of its advisory council to limit election modernization to electronic transmission only: "Even assuming that this recommendation is true, then why is Abalos totally scrapping the project? The recommendation emphasizes that even partial automation can be done."

"The alleged lack of a budget is also not an excuse. The new bill provides for a budget," he said. "Comelec has enough resources to make it happen. After all, they said they have funds for Charter change." By Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

Saturday, December 23, 2006

US cancels Balikatan 2007

Malacañang says it’s just ‘temporary setback’ Embassy official cites custody of Smith as reason

The United States Embassy yesterday confirmed that the US has called off its annual Balikatan military exercises with the Philippines over a dispute on the custody of Marine Daniel Smith, who was convicted recently of charges of raping a Filipina inside the former US naval base in Subic Bay, Zambales.

US embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said the US military decided to call off the joint war games in February, citing the disagreement over the custody of Smith, who received a 40-year jail term from a Filipino judge for the Nov. 1, 2005 rape.

"The Balikatan 2007 would be cancelled. The reason is the current custody dispute," he said.

Admiral William J. Fallon, commander of US Forces in the Pacific, reportedly stated the American military’s cancellation of the Balikatan exercises was due to the Philippine government’s continuous holding of Smith.

This year’s Balikatan exercises were supposed to involve 4,700 American and 3,000 Filipino soldiers.

"The US wants protection of US military personnel if they come here. It wouldn’t be prudent to bring in US troops (if there is no guarantee of protection)," Lussenhop said.

He reiterated the US government’s commitment to abide by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that governs the treatment of soldiers convicted of crimes committed in the Philippines.

"The VFA provides the legal framework but since the Philippine government is not complying, it is not prudent for additional forces to come until the custody issue is resolved," Lussenhop said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo recently signed an agreement with US Ambassador Kristie Kenney reiterating that the US embassy has custodial rights over the convicted marine.

The agreement was signed to satisfy the requirement of Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 139 that the signatories of the agreement on the custody of Smith should include President Arroyo or Romulo.

The agreement, signed on Dec. 19, was the third signed between the two countries following the custody dispute.

When asked if the US will also stop its humanitarian aid to Manila, Lussenhop said the US government "has no plan to curtail the ongoing humanitarian assistance."

"We’re not talking of civil aid, we’re talking of Balikatan," he said.

He said he is still uncertain on the reported pullout of US aid teams in typhoon-stricken areas in the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the DFA "has not been officially notified" on the cancellation of the military exercises.

‘Temporary setback, says Palace says of Balikatan cancellation


Malacanang yesterday described as a "temporary setback" the pullout of the United States in the joint military exercises with the Philippines over the issue on the custody of a US soldier convicted of raping a Filipina inside a former US naval base in Olongapo City.

Presidential chief legal counsel Sergio Apostol expressed confidence that the Court of Appeals will eventually rule favorably on the government’s petition to allow the return of US Marine Daniel Smith, who was convicted recently of charges of raping a Filipina, to US custody from a local jail.

"We are confident because I think we have complied with the international agreement as evidenced by our actions," Apostol said.

Press Ignacio Bunye refused to issue any comment.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said of the US decision to cancel the military games, "It’s their prerogative. It is not mandatory to them to have joint military operations with us. It’s possible they are afraid that another similar incident might happen and their soldier might be put in harm’s way."

Gonzalez admitted the US pullout from the war games was "an expression of displeasure" over the custody issue.

Last Tuesday, the Court of Appeals junked the petition by Smith to be transferred to the US embassy pending an appeal of his conviction.

Secretary Gonzalez blamed the Subic rape court ruling for the US decision to cancel next year’s Balikatan military exercises.

He revealed that the US government has pulled out its troops assisting the thousands of people displaced by the recent calamity in Bicol.

The justice chief said he likewise received information that the US would no longer push through with its plan to conduct joint exercises with the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The US actions indicate that the relation between the two countries has been strained due to the failure of the Philippines to perform its obligation to perform its obligations under the VFA.

"We cannot blame the US for its actions because we don’t seem to know how to respect our treaty with them. That is unfortunate because the government has always been willing to comply with its treaty obligations, unfortunately we cannot avoid the processes of the courts," the DoJ chief said.
By CHARISSA M. LUCI - Manila Bulletin

Doktora dinedo sa Subic, inhinyero nag-suicide

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Nauwi sa madugong kamatayan ang paghihiwalay ng magkasintahan makaraang barilin at mapatay ang isang doktora ng kanyang live-in partner na inhinyero bago nagbaril sa sarili ang huli sa loob ng kanilang bahay sa Binictican Housing sa Subic Bay Freeport Zone, kamakalawa ng gabi.

Sa inisyal na ulat ng Intelligence and Investigation Office (IIO) ng Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), kapwa naliligo sa sariling dugo nang matagpuan ng mga operatiba ng Scene of the Crime Operatives sina Engr. Leonardo P. Joseph at Dr. Emily Gonzales na may mga tama ng bala ng baril sa ulo.

Bandang alas-9 ng gabi nang narinig ng isang maintenance worker ang pag-aaway ng dalawa sa loob ng kanilang tahanan sa Mango Drive sa bahagi ng Binictican housing.

Matapos ang sigawan ay tatlong sunod na putok ng baril ang umalingawngaw at natagpuan ang dalawa na duguang nakabulagta na may tama ng bala ng baril sa dibdib at ulo ang babae habang isang bala naman sa ngalangala na tumagos sa ulo.

Ayon sa tagapagsiyasat, pinatay muna ng lalaki ang kanyang live-in partner bago ito nagdesisyong wakasan na rin ang buhay sa pamamagitan ng pagbaril sa sarili.

Narekober sa tabi ng bangkay ng inhinyero ang ginamit na baril sa pagpapakamatay ni Joseph matapos barilin nito ang kanyang doktora na pinaniniwalaang nakatalaga sa James L. Gordon Hospital.

Napag-alaman bago pa maganap ang insidente ay may namagitang matinding pagtatalo ang magkasintahan dahil sa planong makipaghiwalay ng babae sa lalaki.
Ni Jeff Tombado - Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

Friday, December 22, 2006

Job Opportunities in Olongapo & Subic Bay





"She was attacked inside the Subic Free Port Zone"
The agreement between Manila and Washington, which gives the latter the custody of convicted rapist US soldier Daniel Smith, has angered women's rights organizations. Gabriela, a local militant organization, said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration should be "ashamed." "After brazenly defending Smith during the trial, the Arroyo administration dares to go as far as orchestrating Smith's release even if he was already convicted and committed to local jail," Gabriela Secretary General Emmi De Jesus said in a statement Thursday.

“Shame on them, for obstructing justice and interfering with the interest of the victim and the people for their maliciously selfish gains,” she added.

The agreement to turn over the convict was signed by Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alberto Romulo, and US Ambassador, Kristie Kenney, on Wednesday. It was attached to a motion that the Foreign Affairs department filed with the appeals court, where Smith has submitted a petition to have the custody order overturned

The agreement is the third, since Judge Benjamin Pozon had previously rejected two, signed by justice department officials. Judge Pozon had said that “they were not the appropriate authorities to enter into such a deal agreements”

Judge Pozon is the same judge who sentenced Smith to 40 years in prison on 4 December for raping a local 20-year old girl known only as ‘Nicole’. She was attacked inside the Subic Free Port Zone, a former US Naval base in Zambales, on 1 November, 2005.

The local court absolved Smith’s co-accused – Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis. The three returned to their base in Japan after their acquittal while Smith was ordered detained at the Makati City jail.

The US has fought for the custody of Smith on the basis of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a document signed by Washington and Manila and which allows the deployment of American troops in the archipelago-country for training.

US officials have quoted the VFA as saying: “The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with US military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

RP, US ink agreement for Smith’s custody

Malacañang announced yesterday the signing of a new agreement between the Philippines and the United States for the transfer of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to U.S. custody.

Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita said that the agreement signing was made "to abide by treaty commitments."

Ermita announced the agreement during his regular Wednesday press briefing at Malacañang’s New Executive Building.

"The Philippine government is doing this to abide by treaty commitments. The case is now with the Court of Appeals (CA)," said Ermita.

DFA spokesperson Eduardo Malaya said that the DFA through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed yesterday a very urgent manifestation and motion that stated that both governments have reached such an agreement.

The DFA filed the motion to intervene in the decision of the Special 16th Division of the CA to turn down Smith’s prayer for a temporary restraining order against the ruling of Makati Judge Benjamin Pozon to commit him at the Makati City Jail.

The motion from the DFA declared that U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney and DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo signed on Tuesday an agreement that both the U.S. and Philippine governments have agreed to have Smith placed under American custody. The agreement was attached to the motion when it was submitted to the CA.

"Indeed, pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement, the contracting parties have expressed their accord to the continuing custody of L/CPL Daniel Smith by the United States Embassy in Manila," the motion said.

"Wherefore the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) urgently and respectfully prays that the custody of L/CPL Daniel Smsith be immediately turned over to the United States Embassy in Manila."

It was recalled that Pozon denied the appeal of Smith for him brought back to U.S. custody citing, among other reasons, that he did not recognize the agreement reached between the U.S. Ambassador and Department of Justice to have the marine transferred out of the Makati City Jail.

In his ruling, Pozon said that the agreement should not have been made by Gonzales and that it should have been made by the President of the Philippines or the Foreign Affairs Secretary as the alter ego of the Chief Executive.

In the motion filed by the DFA yesterday, it noted that it acknowledged the "defect in the earlier Agreements entered into first by Chief Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño and later, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, with United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney, on the custody of L/CPL Daniel Smith, nor the legal basis in requiring such Agreement/s pending appeal."

"I hope that the agreement will get a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals on the transfer of Smith’s custody," said Ermita.

The palace official claimed that he expected the CA’s Special Division to come out with a decision by yesterday afternoon.

Smith was sentenced to 40 years in prison on December 4 for raping a Filipina inside the Subic Free Port Zone, a former U.S. Naval base in Zambales. He was ordered detained at the Makati City jail.

The local court absolved Smith’s co-accused – Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis. The three returned to their base in Japan after their acquittal.

U.S. authorites said they will also investigate the case. (Anthony Giron & Amor A. Lopez - Tempo)


CHICAGO , Illinois – "I am still preparing a statement I’m going to make on the denial of the appeal of my son."

Mrs. Donna Smith, mother of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Smith, told this reporter in an exclusive phone interview that she is still thinking on what to say after learning that the CA in Manila denied her son’s petition for temporary restraining order.

Mrs. Smith, a transplant nurse, however, faxed to this reporter her family’s comments on the conviction of her son. She sent the fax from the Smith residence from a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.

The one-paragraph comment reads in full:

"This past year has been difficult for our entire family. We have kept in close contact with the U.S. State Department and appreciate the efforts of U.S. Embassy officials to work on our son’s behalf, including their attempts to secure custody of our son while he seeks an appeal of the verdict. Our son has presented his side of the story in court and we are anxiously waiting for word on his appeal efforts. To our son, we’d like to say we love you very much and you are constantly in our prayers."

Subic airport conducts emergency exercise

The Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) recently conducted a full-scale, multisectoral "airport emergency exercise" as part of the airport’s emergency preparedness plan, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza said.

"We have gathered the support of local government units, other government and non-government entities concerned in this event as the SBIA gears up for better world-class services, particularly in times of emergencies," he said.

Arreza said the exercise, organized by the SBIA’s Emergency Operations Office, is in partial fulfillment of the SBIA’s manual on airport emergency preparedness plan.

Retired Gen. Marcelo Santos, SBIA general manager, said the exercise was held in cooperation with the Department of Transportation and Communications-Air Transportation Office (DOTC-ATO), and participated in by various government agencies and organizations.

The full-scale emergency drill was also participated in by Subic town in Zambales and Olongapo City as well as the police, Coast Guard, PNP Maritime Police, non-government organizations, investors, the SBMA, and rescue groups, Santos said.

He said the airport emergency drill was aimed at evaluating, assessing and updating rescue effectiveness, inter-agency coordination and communication flow in the event of an air disaster in the area.

"This emergency manual will serve as a set of guidelines for the airport rescue organization which will later be formed. With this in place, the ATO will be able to award the SBIA its license to accept aircraft in an emergency situation," Santos said.

"The airport is providing jobs and earnings to local communities around it. This is why we should always ensure the safety of the airport and the airplanes that use them by being prepared to respond during unwarranted events to save as many lives as we can," said Jose Reyes Jr., director of the ATO’s Philippine Rescue Coordination Center.
The Philippine Star

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Customs charges 12 for smuggling clothes in Subic

"The cargo was monitored Oct. 13 on board Fesco Trader in a 40-footer container van consigned to Limech, Subic Bay Free Port Zone."
The Bureau of Customs has filed two separate criminal cases against 12 people over the smuggling of garments at the Port of Manila three months ago.

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said the first case was filed against Chou Fang Kuen, Alamco Lorin, Raquel Quintana, Priscilla Torres and Emelita Odina, all officers of Limech Garment Manufacturing Corp., and broker Gilbert de Castro.

They were allegedly involved in the smuggling of P10 million worth of clothes last October.

“The modus operandi of the group is to use our country as transshipment point of China-made garments for export to the United States,” said Morales, noting that the documents made it appear that the items were made in the Philippines.

Operatives of the Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group under Deputy Commissioner Reynaldo Nicolas received information on Oct. 9 that a shipment of garments from Shanghai, China, would arrive in Manila but was intended to land in the Port of Subic.

The cargo was monitored Oct. 13 on board Fesco Trader in a 40-footer container van consigned to Limech at 38 Golden Future Street, Lot 65-A, Subic Bay Industrial Park, Phase I, Subic Bay Free Port Zone.

Morales said the 100 percent examination was witnessed by representatives from the United States Customs and Border Protection in the Philippines and the Department of Trade and Industry. He added the findings confirmed the violation stated in the alert order.

The other criminal case was against Young Chan An, Alberto Ortilla, Remedios del Valle, Lourdes Padilla and a certain Park, all officers of Shin Yang Brokerage, and broker Vilma Evangelista.

The six were responsible for the smuggling 73 bales of used clothing worth P400,000.

Customs legal service director Reynaldo Umali said at least 28 cases are pending with 147 respondents for various violations of the tariff and customs code.
Joel E. Zurbano - Manila Standard Today

SBMA employees hit P1,000 cut from bonus

SUBIC Bay Freeport — Thousands of employees of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority were disgusted when they found out that their P6,000 mandatory performance bonus ordered by President Macapagal-Arroyo had been reduced to P5,000 because of taxes.

People’s Journal learned about this after the SBMA management distributed “claim stubs” to employees last Friday. The note on the stub reads, “Congratulations! You have just won P5,000. Claim your prize at the Treasury Department, Room 108 Bldg. 229 Waterfront Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone from December 19 to 22, 2006 at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with valid SBMA ID’s”.

SBMA Contract of Service (CS) employees whose IDs have no expiration date and signed by former SBMA chairman Felicito Payumo were not given their stubs.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza told PJ that “the P6,000 is deducted taxes. Our regular employees received roughly P5,000 net as taxes were deducted from their accounts.”
By: Johnny R. Reblando

US ship rescues 3 fishermen off Pangasinan

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Three fishermen survived rough seas for five days before being rescued by a passing US battleship 40 nautical miles off Pangasinan, an official said yesterday.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Feliciano Salonga identified the fishermen as Johnny Galvez, 23; Renato Ignacio, 31; and Leopoldo Molino, 23; all residents of Cato village in Infanta, Pangasinan.

“The [authority] is committed to extend a helping hand to all those in need especially during an emergency,” Salonga said as he praised the officers and crew of the US battleship.

He said that a few minutes after midnight Monday, officers of the command ship USNS Rappanhanock spotted the three fishermen holding on to their overturned fishing boat.

Officer Jeremy Guida said the fishermen used a flashlight to call the attention of the passing ship, which was heading to the South China Sea to call on the Port of Singapore.

“It’s like a miracle. They were all lucky to survive for several days,” Guida said.

“They were freezing and very weak at the time we rescued them,” rescuer Craig Johnson said.

“We thought we were all going to die,” Galvez told doctors. “But we didn’t lose hope and prayed hard.” Cecille Garcia - Manila Standard Today

GMA opens P1-B BPO facility at Clark

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga – President Arroyo inaugurated yesterday a new P1-billion facility owned by the Sutherland Global Services (Sutherland), one of the world’s leading multi-national business process outsourcing (BPO) providers.

During the inauguration rites, Sutherland chairman and chief executive officer Dilip Vellodi turned over to the President a check for P2.5 million for the victims of recent typhoons in the country. He said the amount was raised from donations of some 15,000 employees of his company worldwide.

Briefing the media, Vellodi said Sutherland’s BPO facility here is the third in the country and "has increased the company’s employee base in the Philippines to over 2,000." Sutherland has two other such facilities in Metro Manila.

Vellodi said Sutherland is investing some P1 billion in its facility at the Clark special economic zone.

Sutherland provides business consulting, back-office processing, account management, customer care and technology support to a global client base, 70 percent of which are listed among the Fortune 500.

Sutherland also announced its partnership with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) "for delivering advanced BPO training in Quezon City and Clark".

Vellodi said about 300 individuals have undergone such training and about 60 percent of them have already been employed by Sutherland. He said that such "training initiatives" as well as his company’s expansion support the Medium Term Development Plan of President Arroyo.

The President lauded the establishment of the Sutherland facility here, saying this meant "addition to many high value jobs for the province (of Pampanga). This is a real boost to this community and a vote of confidence to the talent pool available in the Philippines".

"Within the first year of its operations, Sutherland has clearly emerged as a leading BPO player in the Philippines," the President said.

For his part, Vellodi said "the Philippines continues to exceed our expectations as a world class BPO delivery destination, offering advantages of high value solutions at competitive costs for our global clients."

"Following the success in Manila, we are extremely pleased that we were able to leverage our 20-year information technology enabled services (ITES) legacy and move into the provinces as planned," he added.

Sutherland is a multinational IT-enabled and BPO company specializing in customer management and back-office services for Global 1,000 clients. It was established in 1986 in New York and now employs about 15,000 professionals offering "right-shored, blended services" from its 18 delivery centers in India, the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines.
By Ding Cervantes - The Philippine Star

PGMA inaugurates 2 vital facilities in Pampanga

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated today a friendship bridge and a business process outsourcing (BPO) facility here in Angeles City, Pampanga that are both expected to boost economic development and provide job opportunities to residents of Pampanga and other Central Luzon provinces.

Coming from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) main office in Mandaluyong City, the President motored here and inaugurated first the P152- million Angeles Friendship Bridge at Barangay Anunas here.

Upon her arrival, the President unveiled the bridge marker and was briefed by a representative of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) before leading the ceremonial drive-through of the newly constructed Friendship Bridge.

Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin and other local officials joined the President in the ceremonial rites.

The reconstruction of the Angeles Friendship Bridge, destroyed by lahar flows in 1999, is a joint project of the city government, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), the DPWH and the Clark Development Corporation (CDC).

Through the initiative of the President and in cooperation with the provincial and Angeles City governments, the construction of the two-lane, 240 linear-meter bridge began on Aug. 15, 2003 and was completed Oct. 25, 2006.

With its completion and connection to the Western Circumferential Road (WCR), the Friendship Bridge is expected to boost the economic influx between the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) and the municipalities south and west of Angeles City such as San Fernando City, Bacolor, Florida Blanca, Sta. Rita, among others.

The Friendship Bridge also has a vital link to CSEZ and other provinces in Central Luzon. It is also part of the access road from the North Luzon Expressway going to Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway project.

From Barangay Anunas, the President motored to Clark Special Economic Zone and inaugurated the newest facility of Sutherland Global Services, a leading multi-national business process outsourcing (BPO) provider in Pampanga. Sutherland's new facility in CSEZ is its third BPO delivery center in the Philippines.

Sutherland provides process consulting, back-office processing, account management, customer care and technology support to a global client base, 70 percent of which are listed among the Fortune 500. Over the past year-and-a-half, Sutherland has been successful in adding several Fortune clients to its Philippines operations. (PNA)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Additional cash bonus for local gov’t workers, execs

By: Tess Bedico - Journal
LOCAL government officials and employees can expect to get another cash bonus this Christmas like their counterparts in the national government.

Malacañang has approved the request of local government units for an additional or extra cash gift for their officials and employees, chargeable against the savings of the LGUs.

President Macapagal-Arroyo earlier issued Administrative Order 164 authorizing the grant of P6,000 performance bonus for national government employees including those in government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, in a letter to Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., said the cash gifts to local government personnel would be in addition to the year-end bonus and cash gift authorized under Republic Act 8441.

Ermita did not give the exact amount of the additional benefit but said it should be computed in accordance with an existing local budget circular.

C. Luzon business leaders reiterate support for expressway project

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Prominent Pampanga business leaders unanimously extended their support to the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) in its bid to complete the P21 billion flagship project, the 93.77 kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), on target in November 2007.

The consultative meeting was attended by officials of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PamCham), Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA), and Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MACCI), BCDA president and CEO Narciso Abaya and executive vice president Isaac Puno III, among others.

PamCham president Rene Romero reaffirmed the support of the business groups, including the Advocates for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL), and expressed confidence that the expressway will be completed on time.

"The ADCL and the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry are pleased to know that BCDA is very concerned with the timely completion of the SCTEx as we have been waiting for this road infrastructure for a long time. The paramount consideration now of the various business organizations here in Central Luzon is to ensure that the road will be completed as scheduled in 2007," he said. "That is why we are extending our help in any way we can to ensure the unhampered construction of the project," he added.

CDC president Levy P. Laus commended the BCDA for having the initiative to implement the toll road. He reiterated the support of the private sector and non-government organizations in making sure that BCDA will be able to complete the SCTEx as scheduled as this will boost the economy of Subic and Clark.

Abaya acknowledged that the speedy completion of the expressway is crucial in order to boost trade, commerce and industry in the whole Central Luzon region and other nearby areas.

"The SCTEx is the catalyst for the development of the region. Once completed, it will pave the way for the development of a logistics hub that will offer world class facilities for international and local investments," Abaya explained. "That is why BCDA is committed to finishing the project on time," he said.

"The meeting provided a venue for BCDA to brief our partners in the business sector with the latest developments on the SCTEx, and helped identify and explore business opportunities that may arise once this critical road infrastructure is in place by 2007," he said.

The SCTEx will interconnect the deep-water seaport in Subic and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark to facilitate the efficient transport of goods and services. He further explicated that "in the medium- to long-term, because of the SCTEx, the envisioned Subic-Clark corridor will allow the country to leap frog into the mainstream global economy, attracting more investments, both foreign and local. Further, the significant reduction in travel time will be crucial in reducing the cost of doing business here."

The vision is shared by top economist Bernardo Villegas of the University of Asia and the Pacific during an economic briefing held at the Clark Special Economic Zone recently. Villegas talked about the potential of Central Luzon as the country's most competitive region due mainly to the construction of the 93.7-kilometer SCTEx.

He noted that the SCTEx, once in place, will transform the Central Luzon region into a "mini China" if only investors will take advantage of the opportunity and put up "globally competitive industries" such as manpower exports; transport, telecom and tourism; electronic components and semi-conductor devices; IT-enabled services; food and agribusiness; high value garments and fashion goods; high value furniture; wellness health and beauty services; logistics; retirement villages; mining; and education.

Villegas described the construction of the SCTEx as a "miracle". He explained that the toll road will form part of the critical infrastructure facilities together with the Subic seaport and the Clark airport that will propel the economic growth of the region. "With the SCTEx in place, Central Luzon can position itself as the new global gateway to the world," Villegas said.

Earlier, Abaya urged local government units along the SCTEx alignment to start re-evaluating their land use plans to take advantage of the opportunities to ensure the holistic development of the entire Central Luzon region.

This sentiment is echoed by PamCham who urged local government units to maximize the potential that they can gain once the modern toll road is in placed.
By Albert B. Lacanlale - SunStar

Monday, December 18, 2006

Are the Americans pressuring GMA to release Smith?

AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven De Guzman
The Philippine Star

We have had a love - hate relationship with the Americans ever since World War II – so what else is new? Despite this, it is quite obvious that we will always be friends and that’s that!

The recent news on the conviction of Lance Cpl. Smith will once again test the strength of our relationship with the US. To many Filipinos, Judge Pozon is a hero risking his profession and (maybe) his life to such a decision. As you know the Visiting Forces Agreement stipulates a law that is quite clear. This law clearly states that Smith should still be under the US custody until all hearings for the case is still on-going. But Pozon is still out there fighting it for what he believes to be "just".

I admire the determination of this judge. Despite the orders of Secretary Gonzalez to follow the VFA laws – he still persist with his fight. How I wish our justice system will carry on such will and character, so that the oppressed can also be heard — not just the "moneyed" population.

I have a strong feeling that the Americans are pressuring our government. Of course, they also have a right to do this. But the government seems very submissive and in television we can see how our government seems to be kissing ass (oops sorry about that).

It’s just sad that when we have a problem with the US Courts, we cannot get away with their laws — our voices are not even heard. Now that the US has a snag in this case, they are trying to turn the tables to their favor. Let us see what the sudden turn of events will bring to us. It is quite amusing to follow. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata. In the meantime, Judge Pozon, continue to fight for what you believe is right, without question or doubt. As for the many Pinays out there, make this be a lesson to all. Do not throw yourselves to foreigners who may just exploit you, you may be the next "Nicole".

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Nicole' to ask CA not to interpret VFA in custody case

SUBIC rape victim "Nicole," as she is publicly known, is now pitted against her former defender -- the Philippine government -- in a battle to keep her convicted rapist, US Marine Daniel Smith, in a Philippine jail as well as to question the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Nicole's private lawyer Evalyn Ursua said Saturday that her client would file a motion on Monday to stop the Court of Appeals from deciding on the bid of Smith to be transferred from the Makati City Jail and returned to US custody pending the appeal of his December 4 conviction.

Ursua said Nicole will point out that she had filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of some provisions of the VFA before the Supreme Court as early as June 16 and therefore "the CA should not preempt [the high court] on the matter."

On the other hand, Smith's bid is backed by the Department of Justice, whose lawyers prosecuted the rape case, which agrees that Smith's transfer to the custody of the US embassy is the government's obligation under the VFA.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has also warned that the decision of Makati Judge Benjamin Pozon to keep Smith in the Makati jail will have "tremendous repercussions" on the country's diplomatic relations with the US.

In a 16-page petition-in-intervention filed Friday, the DFA warned: "The government's adherence to its treaty commitments is truly imperative. Any act of derogation therefrom will markedly diminish our credibility as a member of the international community."

A provision in the VFA states that accused visiting troops would stay under the custody of US authorities "until completion of judicial proceedings." The US and Philippine governments both agree this means Smith can stay at the US embassy until his appeals with higher courts are heard.

On December 13, or 10 days after convicting Smith, Pozon denied for lack of merit the convict's bid to be returned to US custody. According to the Makati judge's interpretation of the VFA, US custody of Smith was ''terminated after the completion of the trial and
rendition of judgment of conviction."

The US Embassy said Pozon's ruling ''reflects a misunderstanding of Philippine obligations under the terms of the VFA during judicial proceedings." US President Bush himself has expressed his concern on the matter.

Meanwhile, Smith, 21, remains at the Makati City Jail but has been given his own space at the jail's records section, where he is accompanied day and night by US security personnel. By Volt Contreras - Inquirer

Bleak Christmas for Workers in CL Economic Enclaves

This Christmas season, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo paints a rosy picture for workers especially in so-called “industrial enclaves” such as the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) in Pampanga and the Subic Bay Free Port Economic Zone (SBFEZ). But the realities workers have to contend with in these industrial enclaves are low wages, harsh working conditions and curtailment of their right to unionize and bargain for better working conditions.

Gitnang Luson News Service
Posted by Bulatlat

OLONGAPO CITY – This Christmas season, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo paints a rosy picture for workers especially in so-called “industrial enclaves” such as the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) in Pampanga and the Subic Bay Free Port Economic Zone (SBFEZ). But the realities workers have to contend with in these industrial enclaves are low wages, harsh working conditions and curtailment of their right to unionize and bargain for better working conditions.

Joaquin Arcega, 42, married with three children and Johnny Batislaong, 46, married with four kids, work as cutters at the Citigloves Garment factory inside CSEZ producing cold weather leather gloves for export. The company is owned by a local businessman and employs some 50 workers.

Arcega has worked for Citigloves for 10 years. He earns P250 ($5.06 an exchange rate of $1=P49.365) a day if he completes a quota of 30 pairs of gloves. Batislaong gets P243 ($4.92) a day for the same quota. If they don’t meet the quota, they are paid only P8 ($0.16) a pair. They are entitled to a P45 ($0.91) emergency cost of living allowance (ECOLA) per day, but not on days they are unable to work. The number of days of absence is also deducted from their 13th month pay.

Eight months work

“We work for only eight months a year at the most,” Arcega told GLNS in an interview. Production starts in February, peaks from May to July and tapers off from August to October. From November to January of the next year, including the Christmas season, there’s no more work and the company expects them to find work elsewhere.

Whenever they could, they try to complete three quotas to increase their daily earnings. From 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. they work for a double quota and work two hours more for a third. The company requires them to punch out their time cards at 4 p.m. even if the workers are still at work hours later to evade overtime pay. They are asked to complete just one quota a day as the season tapers off.

“The management is friendly as the season starts then toss us like garbage as soon as production requirements are met,” Batislaong said.

They are allowed a 15-minute break in the morning and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. But management closes the women’s comfort rooms at a quarter before the 4 p.m. official closing time to ensure that they work their butts out to the last tick of the working shift.


“The management is prompt in deducting from our pay the member’s share in the fees for Social Security Service (SSS), Pag-ibig, among others. But we don’t know if the company remitted these or if they paid the employer’s share. Anybody who dared to inquire was bullied,” Batislaong said.

Workers suspect that the SSS fees collected from them are not remitted on time and are being pooled by the management and loaned to workers. The management collects a 20-percent interest for loans.

Arcega found out that he was deducted an excess of P1,000 ($20.257) for the contributions at least once. The management was forced to admit mistakes in computation when he demanded an explanation. He has yet to receive a refund despite the management’s word to do so.

Bastislaong’s production summary from March 11-25, 2006 showed that he was able to cut 972 pairs of gloves or roughly 33 quotas (at 30 per quota), or an average 2.5 quotas a day. He hopes to average two quotas a day, even during the low production period.

Piteous wages

His pay slip for April 10, 2006 showed a take-home pay of P7,558.06 ($153.10) after the usual deductions or an estimated total income of P37,790.30 ($765.528) from February to October granting all factors were constant. Thus a worker of his status earns P3,150 ($63.81) per month or a piteous P105 ($2.127) daily.

“A pair of low quality cold weather gloves is sold by the company at about P500 ($10.128), thus, management can pay the equivalent of my two production quotas – 60 pairs – on the sale of a pair of gloves alone,” Arcega said.

“During the lean season of 2001 the company was unable to pay us for months. We had to rely on cash advances to buy our families a kilo or two of rice, a few dried fish and noodles. We ended up more indebted than usual both to the company and the stores where we get our food,” the two recounted.

No union

The workers believe that only through a union can they hope to fight for better wages and working conditions. But when they first attempted to form a union in 2004 management moved swiftly to preempt them.

Batislaong, who volunteered to do the initial organizing work, was pinned down as the leader and was immediately summoned and reprimanded.

He was not allowed to work for sometime and is still being closely monitored and harassed to this day.

The exploitation and repression of workers at the CSEZ reflects the conditions elsewhere in the enclave and at the Subic Bay economic zone in Olongapo City.

Legenda workers

Greg Fundacion, 45, is one of the officers of the Kilusang Manggagawa sa Legenda (KML or Workers’ Movement in Legenda) the union of workers of the Legenda Hotel/Casino in Subic owned by the Chan family, Malaysians of Chinese descent.

KLM has about 800 active members in more than eight departments in the casino – administrative, finance, human resources, food and beverage, house keeping and laundry, transportation, internal security, engineering, motor pool, and croupiers.

Two hundred of their members are contractuals particularly those in food and beverage, house keeping and security departments although many have worked for the company for more than 13 years. The country’s labor laws provide that contruactual workers are to

Every worker has to inch through six steps of job items from Level 1 to 6 with rates per day ranging from P224.50 ($4.54) to P300.00 ($6.07).

In December 26, 2003 the KML gathered the signature of 1,500 employees for a certification election as the initial step in the formation of their union.

They engaged management in collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations in April 2004 to demand an economic package that includeD: union leave with pay, 15 days sick leave and 15 days vacation leave per year, 45 days maternity leave for regular pregnancy and 75 days leave for caesarian section, seven days leave for paternity, five days emergency leave and four days bereavement leave.

They also pushed for security of tenure and union security.

Unimplemented CBA

Management refused to recognize the union and implement the CBA.

In August 2004, the workers filed a notice of strike but the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) issued an assumption of jurisdiction order on the dispute. The company later brought the labor dispute to the courts.

To this day, the company stubbornly maintains its position of not recognizing the union even with the CBA concluded, Fundacion said.

For the past two and a half years, the workers experienced” systematic” repression, Fundacion said. He said union leaders are being investigated by the police and military intelligence operatives.

The workers were subjected to surveillance, persuaded and even threatened to refrain from union activities. A high-ranking union leader was demoted and is continuously being harassed.

The workers are still battling management for non-implementation of the CBA particularly the P30.00 ($0.61)-per-day basic pay increase to be given on a staggered basis of P5 ($0.10); P10 ($0.20) and P15 ($0.30) each year for three years.

Also unimplemented are the 25-percent increase on overtime; 20 percent on holidays, 30 percent on non-working holidays; and 30 percent on working day off.

The management refuses to recognize the KML and to implement the CBA plus the P18.50 ($0.37)ECOLA provided for by Wage Order No. 12 despite the National Labor Relations Comission (NLRC)’s recognition of the certification election which was also upheld by DoLE Region III and the Court of Appeals.

Fundacion said management continuously violates the workers’ rights. They are meted 30 to 60 days suspension for the flimsiest of reasons, and charged with administrative sanctions and even illegal dismissal.

Subic Bay Apparel

Terry Calzado, 39, is one of the 500 workers of the Subic Bay Apparel Corporation, a Filipino-Chinese and American owned firm producing coats and tuxedoes for export.

Calzado like many of the firm’s workers have worked for at least 10 years for the company. They started at P95 per day and now get P239.50 ($4.85) a day plus P20 ($0.40) ECOLA (expanded cost-of-living allowance). They get P37 ($0.75) per hour on overtime. They receive their 13th-month pay but no added incentives on holidays.

The company has three departments: cutting, pants, coat and finishing. The cutting department has three shifts a day, while the pants and coat department have but a single daily shift.

A third but a minor unit is the finishing department with no particular shift and where the workers are paid P0.75 ($0.02) a piece.


She works on the 7 a.m.-3 p.m. shift. On peak seasons from September-December she can only complete 700 pairs at most of her quota of 800 pairs on her regular shift, and just 200 pairs on the quota of 500 pairs on the 3-8 p.m. overtime shift.

Calzado’s pay slip for three consecutive pay days from September 16-30; October 1-15 and October 16-31 of 2006 showed net incomes of P1,899.85 ($38.49); P3,062.08 ($62.03) and P3,202.78 ($64.88) respectively after deductions, an average of P2,721.57 ($55.13) every 15th or P181.44 ($3.68) daily take home.

They get a 30-minute lunch break from 11:30-12 p.m. on a regular shift; 15 minutes (3-3:15 p.m.) between 3-6 p.m. and another 10 minutes (6-6:10 p.m.) between 6-8 p.m. on overtimes.

They are issued a comfort room pass and a cooler (water dispenser) pass for every 30 persons. Violations of these policies can result to reprimand of the workers for “wasting of time” or malingering

Workers are entitled to a vacation leave and sick leave of five days each; mothers get a maternity leave of two months for a normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian operations; fathers get seven days paternity leave.

Fight for union registration

“We started our union activities on October 2003 under the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP),” Calzado said. “Our certification election was cancelled as the petition prepared by the TUCP contained next to nothing. They also failed to defend our union’s registration.”

In March 2004, the Philippine Transport Genuine Workers Organization (PTGWO), another TUCP-led group, tried to reorganize the union with the help of management but a timely petition for certification elections by the Workers’ Alliance in Region III (WAR III) led to the registration of the union.

The management in collusion with the TUCP tried to have the union registration revoked, Calzado said. The case is now at the Court of Appeals awaiting decision.

“We had to contend not only with management but with pro-management labor groups,” Calzado said. Gitnang Luson News Service / Posted by Bulatlat

Litany of Woes for Workers in CL Special Economic Zones

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims that growing investments in the industrial enclaves will provide employment and uplift workers’ conditions, but this is belied by union leaders.

Gitnang Luson News Service
Posted by Bulatlat

OLONGAPO CITY – President Arroyo claims that growing investments in the industrial enclaves will provide employment and uplift workers’ conditions, but this is belied by union leaders.

The government said that the country’s special economic zones (SEZ) which form the core of the country’s development plan posted a 41.71-percent increase or P70.175 billion ($142 billion) worth of investments for the first 11 months of 2005.

It cornered a big chunk of the productions of computers and cell phone parts and other of auxiliary products over the rest of the third world.

In Central Luzon , Taiwanese and Koreans are among the biggest investors registered with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in Olongapo, Zambales and Clark Development Corporation (CDC) in Pampanga.

“It matters little to us workers, if billions make it to the government’s coffers, or even if billions of dollars of investments flood our SEZs (because) workers’ wages remain low and their rights are suppressed,” said Angie Ladera, chairperson of Workers Alliance of Region III (WAR III), regional chapter of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), in an interview.

“No chance for workers”

Ladera says there is practically no chance for substantial wage increase for workers if the government sticks to its cheap and docile labor policy, and its no-union, no-strike policy in the enclaves.

Statistics released by the Labor Force Survey show that some 2.8 million Filipinos failed to find work in January 2006, up by 15 percent from 2.5 million in the same period last year.

The 95,000 decrease in jobs came from the industry sector, mostly from the manufacturing and construction sub-sector.

Latest figures from the National Statistics Office (NSO) show that 2.93 million Filipinos are unemployed while 8.4 million are underemployed.

These figures do not include those who have given up looking for jobs, housewives and other sectors considered by the government as not in the labor force.

“Sunshine” industries

But the President is sure of creating jobs by encouraging more investments in the country particularly on industrial enclaves such as the CSEZ and SBFEZ where many of what she boasts as significant foreign investments and “sunshine” industries are located.

The CDC (Clark Development Corporation) website www.VisitClark.com listed over 600 companies inside CSEZ. At least 32 firms are engaged in garment productions, about 66 are service-oriented companies.

Many others are restaurants, import-export outlets, hotels and other tourism related firms, companies engaged in auxiliary information technology and call centers.

The SBMA’s www.sbma.com as of August this year listed 674 firms at SBFEZ, 89 of which are into manufacturing light products such as garments and auxiliary products; while 93 are tourism related facilities like hotels, restaurants and other recreations; 72 are into motor trading; 92 are duty free shops, trading and general merchandize, the rest are small to medium service oriented firms.

“Mrs. Arroyo generously pours resources to make these facilities more attractive to foreign investors,” Ladera surmised. “But these are but service-oriented and consumer-led economic activities with no provision for genuine industry that can generate jobs for unemployed Filipinos.”

Basic needs

The daily minimum wage of P224.50 ($4.54) in Central Luzon , plus the P20 ($0.40) ECOLA (Subic Bay Apparel average) is but P244.50 ($4.95) and not enough to meet even the basic food needs of some P284 ($5.75) a day as calculated by independent socio-economic think tank IBON Foundation for the first quarter of 2006.

IBON’s recent Price Monitor conducted in wet markets in many cities in the country including San Fernando City in Pampanga showed prices of basic goods have increased by at least 11 percent after the implementation of the reformed valued added tax or RVAT from December 2005 to March 2006.

The last legislated wage increase was in 1989, followed by the creation of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards which militant workers find very divisive of the labor ranks, created to negate any across the board wage increase.

President Arroyo has yet to make a similar step since she ascended to the presidency in 2001.

Wage demand

Detained Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran and five other militant party-list representatives – Rafael Mariano, also of Anakpawis; Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño, and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna (People First) and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) pushed for the urgent passage of House Bill No. 0345 for a P125 ($2.53) across-the-board nationwide wage hike for workers in the private sector and HB 1064 for a P3,000 ($60.77) across-the-board salary increase for government workers.

“The HB 0345 made it to third reading at Congress,” Ladera said. “But all efforts by well-meaning legislators grounded to a halt right after the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) protested against it and lobbied in Malacanang.”

Ladera added the WAR III and the KMU had been campaigning for the P125 wage increase in the wake of increasing prices of basic commodities.

But the Arroyo government refused to expedite it and the wage demand has been overtaken by the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities notwithstanding the much drummed-up strong performance of peso, she said.

IBON studies show the real value of wages has been further devalued.

The actual amount of goods and services P1.00 ($0.02) can buy has fallen to P0.74 ($0.015) in January 2006 from P0.79 ($0.0016) in the same month last year.

These pushed the estimated daily cost of living for a family of six up by 22 percent to P519.23 ($10.51) in the first quarter of the year from P427.03 ($8.65) in the first quarter of last year.

Poverty threshold

By government’s estimate 24.7 percent of the country’s families fell under its annual per capita poverty threshold of P12,267 ($248.50).

This is a rather ludicrous figure compared even to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s 2001 estimate of the country’s poverty line at 40 percent published in their World Fact Book.

Using the international poverty threshold of $2 a day, over 87 percent of the country’s families are poor.

But the IMF-WB (International Monetary Fund-World Bank)’s poverty line of $1a day reduced the country’s poverty level to 10.8 percent of the country’s population, a mere juggling of figures with no meaning for impoverished workers, Ladera said.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is optimistic that the unemployment rate would go down as more jobs would be created by the country’s “sunrise” industries, including call centers, tourism and the real estate industry.

IBON’s job scarcity estimates are significantly higher at 17 million workers or 40 percent of the labor force including migrant workers than government’s official figure of 2.7 million jobless Filipinos.

This is so because government data do not include figures on overseas Filipino workers who left the country to find work and visibly underemployed workers – not to mention productive sectors that have been discouraged to look for work, thus counted as “not in the labor force.”

Continuing workers’ repression

Roman Polintan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Central Luzon chairperson, noted that Arroyo earmarked P725 billion ($14,686,518,788) for debt servicing and P52.4 billion ($1,061,480,806) for military expenditure from the trillion- peso budget for 2006 and passed non-wage economic relief measures for workers who can be removed anytime. Non-wage measures do not have an effect on other benefits such as retirement pay.

“We expect nothing less than a wage increase from Mrs. Arroyo whether the proposed budget for 2007 is approved or the old one is reenacted,” he said before the 2007 budget was passed in Congress.

A KML leader said that in a Labor and Management Conference sponsored by the Management and Labor Center of SBMA in September 2004, held at the Building B of the former Ship Repair Facilities – now its Labor Center – a certain Pastor, a lawyer and acting chief of the SBMA Labor Center announced that in no uncertain terms President Arroyo wants no strike and unionism in any of the country’s economic zones.

“It’s no wonder that workers are prevented from exercising their constitutionally-mandated freedoms. This means escalating police and military intervention and brutality against legitimate protests and the picket lines, and intensified intelligence gathering and anti-worker campaigns at the factory level,” Ladera said.

The spate of political killings nationwide has so far claimed more than 50 labor leaders, trade union and urban poor organizers and advocates, based on data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights). In Central Luzon , five labor leaders were killed from January to April this year. Gitnang Luson News Service / Posted by Bulatlat

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Dumating sa lungsod ng Olongapo ang tatlong (3) miembro ng validating team na nagsagawa ng on-the-spot inspection and evaluation para sa mga lugar na kalahok sa 2005 Best Peace and Order Council (POC)-Highly Urbanized City Category.

Ang Olongapo ay isa (1) sa anim na nominado sa prestiyosong award kasama ang mga lungsod ng Iligan, Davao, Naga, Bacolod at Makati. Dumating ang validating team sa lungsod nitong ika-11 ng Disyembre 2006 para sa tatlong (3) araw na validation.

Sa pangunguna ni City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. kasama ang mga department heads ay isa-isang inilahad sa validating team ang mga detalye kaugnay sa presentasyon ng City Integrated Area/Community Public Safety Plan (IA/CPSP) ng lungsod para sa buong taon ng 2005.

Pinangunahan ang team ni Atty. Allan Montaño, chairman at National Vice President/Secretary-General ng Federation of Free Workers and Accredited Voluntary Arbitrator at Labor Relations Consultant na nagwikang, ‘’Sa aking palagay ay malaki ang laban ng Olongapo sa 2005 Best Peace and Order Council (POC)-Highly Urbanized City Category.’’

Kasama rin ni Atty. Montaño sina Dir. Edna Acosta ng National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) at Jimmy Zavalla ng Dept. of Interior and Local Government-Region III (DILG-R3) na tumungo sa tanggapan ng Olongapo-PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at City Disaster Management Office (CDMO) at nagsagawa ng validation sa lahat ng mga accomplishments upang personal na makita ang kalagayan at paraan ng pagpapalakad ng mga nabanggit na tanggapan.

Matatandaan na pumasok sa top 5 ang Olongapo sa 2004 National Peace and Order Council Awards para sa kategoryang Highly Urbanized City sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon na lumahok ang lungsod sa national level.


Sasabak ang mga pambatong boksingero ng Olongapo laban sa mga dadayong boksingero ng Iba, Zambales sa isasagawang 2006 City Fiesta Invitational Amateur Boxing Tournament.

Sa 15 boxing bouts, 5 rito ay nakalaan para sa main event na paghaharapin ang team Olongapo at team Iba sa ika-27 ng Disyembre 2006, simula alas-5 ng hapon sa Rizal Triangle Covered Court.

Libreng mapapanood ng mga boxing enthusiasts ng Olongapo ang invitational fight na bahagi pa rin ng City Fiesta activity sa pangunguna ni 2006 City Fiesta Executive Committee Chairperson Anne Marie Gordon.

Dito ay matutunghayan ng mga residente ang mga ipinagmamalaking boksingero ng lungsod tulad ni Artist Martin, Jr. na ngayon ay kabilang na sa National Training Pool ng RP Team na inihahanda nang isabak sa ibat-ibang National Boxing competitions.

Samantala, sa atas ni City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. kay City Sports Coordinator Angie Layug ay patuloy ang pagdaragdag at pagsasa-ayos ng boxing equipments upang higit na maraming kabataan ang mahasa sa boksing.

Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang mga isinasagawang pag-iikot ng Inter-barangay Boxing Tournament na tinaguriang ‘’Programang Paboksing sa Brgy. ni Mayor Bong Gordon’’ katuwang ang Olongapo City Amateur Boxing Association at Olongapo Youth & Sports Development Office.

Para sa mga nais na lumahok sa mga susunod pang boxing competitions ay maaaring makipag-ugnayan sa City Disaster Management Office (DMO) o tumawag sa 224-7846 o kaya’y sa inyong mga sariling barangay halls.


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