Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Uniform rules for Clark, Subic freeports mulled

Officials of Clark and Subic Freeport are now working to harmonize immigration, customs and quarantine (ICQ) rules and fees to encourage more locators to invest in the two former US military bases.

Secretary Edgardo D. Pamintuan, chairman of the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC) and head of the Luzon Urban Beltway (LUB), said he has held a series of meetings with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Clark Development Corporation (CDC) to come up with a common ICQ regulations.

"We are now in the process of finding the common ground for a similar immigration and customs rules for the Subic and Clark freeport zones. Officials of two investment zones agreed on the need to harmonize ICQ rules immediately if we are to emerge into a logistics hub in the areas and their corridors," Pamintuan said.

Logistics refers here to a set of operations required for goods to be made available in markets or specific destinations.

Currently, the major logistics hubs are the United States in North America, Amsterdam, Germany and Belgium in the European Union (EU), South Korea and Hongkong in North Asia and Singapore in Southeast Asia.

These are considered hubs because they possess good access to markets with strong freight forwarding networks, with ports and airports linked with efficient modes, and improved accessibility by roads.

At the same time, more companies in those hubs outsource their logistics functions rather than commit resources to create their own, skilled and flexible workforce, land for future growth and expansion, and efficient customs systems or procedures, among others.

Currently, Clark and Subic are following and implementing different sets of immigration and customs policies and regulations.

For example, foreign locators pay $ 75 in SBMA for visa processing while CDC charges foreign locators only $ 50 for the same process.

"The regularization of fees, for example, and harmonization of regulations as far as customs and immigration policies are concerned, would remove the barriers for investments. Different policies in the two freeport zones are a hindrance to making the two zones and their corridors into a logistics hub," Pamintuan explained.

Aside from harmonizing and standardizing the ICQ, SCADC, SBMA and CDC are also focusing on establishing a shared online database which includes the list of locators, special visitors, industries, products, and similar information.
By MARVYN N. BENANING - Manila Bulletin

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Video karera 'untouchable' in 2 Subic barangays

SUBIC, Zambales – Video karera and fruit games machines operations remained “untouchable” in Barangays Matain and Calapacuan despite the raids conducted by the police.

The Zambales Criminal Investigation and Detection Team confiscated several video karera machines but after a few days, they operate again.

People’s Journal learned that “Bitoy” and “Bert,” who used to be assets of the ZCIDT, operated the illegal machines allegedly with the blessings of the police in exchange for weekly payolas.

Sources said the ZCIDT have the list of operators of the illegal gambling machines but they remained untouched.

A parent who asked not to be named said, “Matagal na naming inerereklamo ang pagdami ng video karera sa aming lugar, hinuhuli nila pero pagkaraan ng ilang araw andyan na naman.” Johnny R. Reblando - Journal online

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Friday, September 28, 2007

GMA wants tax privileges at Subic port scaled back

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the tax privilege enjoyed by companies within the Subic free port rationalized or made less wasteful to plug the government’s potential revenue losses from the raw materials, capital goods and equipment being brought into it.

She signed Executive Order 660 tasking Internal Revenue and Customs to review the duties on excess importation amid reports the government loses at least P65 billion in foregone taxes annually on motor vehicles alone.

“There is a need to ensure that the raw materials, capital goods and equipment imported byregistered enterprises [in Subic] are only those required for their business activities and operations,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

“Importations in excess of those requirements... shall be deemed brought into or sold within the Customs territory and therefore subject to taxes,” she said.

She ordered Customs, Internal Revenue and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to issue the corresponding circulars explaining her order, saying the government needed to plug tax loopholes to collect more revenue to finance economic development.

SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga and administrator Armando Arreza said they had yet to see a copy of the new executive order.

Salonga said excess importation could be considered another form of smuggling, adding the free port had always been plagued by it.

Antonio Villar, head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, said the International Monetary Fund had estimated that the Philippines’ revenue losses on motor vehicles alone came to at least P13 billion a month. Joyce Pangco Pañares - Manila Standard Today

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Gordon offers compromise formula on barangay election

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, yesterday said he will attempt to persuade his legislative colleagues to strike a middle ground on the proposal of the House of Representatives to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections from Oct. 29 this year to the second Monday of October 2009.

Gordon presented his compromise formula to shorten the deferment of the twin elections by only one year to enable the Commission on Elections to automate in preparation for the 2010 national and local elections.

His proposal deviates from the supposedly unanimous stand taken by the senators in a recent caucus opposing any delay in the village and youth council polls.

“The Automated Electoral System Act of 2007 says the elections should be automated. And I’ll see to it that this is implemented for the barangay and SK elections even on a pilot basis,” Gordon told a public hearing.

The senator from Olongapo City broached his suggestion as barangay chairmen and councilmen came in droves to the Senate to express their support for the poll deferment.

The village officials, numbering over a thousand, were herded by Jose Marty Lim, president of the League of Barangays.

But representatives of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Commission on Elections said if they will have their way, the polls should be held as scheduled because the activities have gone into high gear and hundreds of millions of pesos have already been spent for them.

Richard Nalupta, chairman of the National Youth Commission, said they favor the deferment to give Congress time to enact a law that would reform the SK.

Nalupta said the reforms include the adjustment in the age bracket for the youth from 15 to 17 to 15 to 21 years of age. He said the proposed law also contains an anti-dynasty provision which will disqualify close relatives of incumbent governors and mayors from running for SK positions.

Gordon said the provision of the AES law should be enforced in the barangay and SK elections wherein automated voting and counting of votes will be implemented on an experimental basis in two selected provinces and two cities each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

But Comelec executive director for operations Jose Tolentino could not make a commitment whether the poll body can set in place an automatic system between now and May 2008 which is the new date proposed by Gordon for the twin elections.

Tolentino said what the Comelec has in mind is to automate the election in the Automous Region in Muslim Mindanao scheduled in August 2008.

Nalupta admitted that if the SK elections are postponed by two years, this will put to waste the P138-million spent by the government for the recent registration of six million new youth voters. Fel V. Maragay

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Turf war in Subic

Emil Jurado - Manila Standard Today

We may not realize it but the smuggling of luxury cars and vehicles in the Subic Freeport, Cebu and other ports of entry pales in comparison to the rampant smuggling of diesel oil and other petroleum products. The government is losing billions of pesos in duties and taxes.

As far as the Subic Freeport is concerned, its inability to curb smuggling can be traced directly to the continuing turf war among Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority officers, with the presence of a chairman in the person of Feliciano Salonga (father of the world-renowned Lea Salonga), and Armand Arreza as administrator. There’s also retired Gen. Joey Calimlim, who is tasked as intelligence and enforcement chief, but whose activities are oftentimes cut down by either Salonga and Arreza.

The problem in Subic can be traced directly to the appointment of an administrator and a chairman of the SBMA when its charter talks of just one person as both chairman and administrator. It was so when now Senator Dick Gordon was SBMA chairman/administrator, as it was with Tong Payumo after Gordon. But, somehow, because of political accommodation, Malacañang split the two positions. Salonga was endorsed by a Zambales politician, while Gordon pushed Arreza as administrator.

This is where the problem lies because often, Salonga and Arreza fight over turf so much so that the local and foreign locators at the free port are now confused. Those who are close to Salonga can never get that close to Arreza. That’s what is happening at Subic.

While the turf war rages on, smugglers are having a holiday. And only GMA can solve this problem.

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Audit of imports seen boosting Customs take

“We are finalizing the computerized petroleum inventory management system that will track the inventory of petroleum going in and out of Subic
By Joel E. Zurbano - Manila Standard Today

CUSTOMS Commissioner Napoleon Morales expressed confidence they will be able to bring in P1.2 billion in additional revenues from importers whose shipments have been placed under post entry audit.

Morales said the revenue from deficiencies in payment of past imports, up to three years back, is crucial for the bureau as it is expected to compensate for the deficit in cash collection.

The Bureau of Customs has intensified its Post Entry Audit Group to recover unliquidated duties and taxes of previous importations for its revenue collection drive.

It has urged importers to avail of the bureau’s voluntary disclosure program to avoid being slapped penalties. The bureau can impose a penalty of up to eight times the disputed amount if it discovers fraud.

But if the Customs discovered fraud, it has the right to impose up to eight times maximum penalty to the importer in addition to the disputed amount.

The agency can also impose on importers deficient in their dues to the government Section 1508 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

The section gives district collectors the power to hold the release of imported articles until such time the importer settles the tax difference with the bureau. In most cases storing facilities of importers are padlocked and guarded until the matter is resolved.

Officials have also vowed to track down up to the last liter all petroleum products of oil companies to ensure that taxes are being paid.

Alexander Arevalo, deputy commissioner for Management Information System, said with the implementation of the information and communications technology projects, the agency will be able to strictly monitor the movement of petroleum products.

“We are finalizing the computerized petroleum inventory management system that will track the inventory of petroleum going in and out of Subic,” Arevalo said.

Malacañang has directed the Customs to speed up the e-Customs to bolster its anti-smuggling capabilities.

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Arroyo creates more economic zones

By Michael Lim Ubac - Inquirer

In line with her goal to develop more economic zones, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the creation of seven more economic zones in places adjacent to geothermal-energy-producing sites.

The President, in Executive Order No. 661 signed on September 10 but made public only on Wednesday, directed that local government units "in areas near or adjacent to the following geothermal-producing sites shall develop economic zones in coordination with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza)."

The areas to be developed into economic zones are Tiwi in Albay; Makban, which borders Makiling and Banahaw mountains in Laguna; Tongonan, which borders Ormoc and Kananga in Leyte; Palinpinon in Valencia, Negros Oriental; Bacman, which borders Bacon and Manito in Sorsogon and Albay, respectively; Mt. Apo in the border of Kidapawan in North Cotabato; and Murcia in Negros Occidental.

President Arroyo directed Peza to assist the LGUs concerned in the "creation and development" of the zones in areas which, she said, were "potential sources of power."

"This Executive Order shall take effect immediately," she said.

In issuing EO 661, the President said "the government is adopting measures to give open access to private and publicly owned economic zones in sourcing their power with the end in view of lowering the power cost in the economic zones and to promote competitiveness."

She noted that the country had one of the highest industrial power rates in Southeast Asia, and that majority of the biggest power consumers were industrial locators in economic zones.

"There is a compelling need for more reliable, economical, competitive and efficient power supply to provide quality electricity to power-sensitive industrial locators in the economic zones and to encourage future locators."

The two-page EO made no mention of the potential benefits to the residents of the seven identified areas.

But in a speech in New York, the President provided answers.

She said that due to the creation of these zones, "areas which are usually far from Metro Manila will now have industries."

"Business will relocate there," she said, stressing that business locators would have the "usual incentives" aside from the cheaper power rates since the economic zones would be sourcing their power supply from geothermal plants.

She said the presence of economic zones would give jobs to residents and allow LGUs, which will collect royalties from the use of the geothermal zones, to utilize the added revenues to subsidize electricity rates in their areas.

To curb smuggling, President Arroyo also issued another EO to rationalize tax privileges in the Subic Special Economic Zone.

The President signed EO 660, which covers a new policy on importation by registered enterprises in Subic Bay, on September 13. It takes effect immediately.

The EO will impose taxes on imported goods and equipment "in excess of the requirements of their registered business."

The President noted that under existing law, registered businesses, enterprises and locators within Subic were exempt from national internal revenues and custom duties on their importation of raw materials, capital goods and equipment for their business operations.

"There is a need to ensure that raw materials... are only those required for their business activities and operations," she said, stressing that the "government needs additional revenue to finance the country's economic and development programs and projects."

Arroyo said that imported goods and equipment “in excess of the requirements of their registered business ... shall be deemed brought into or sold within the customs territory, and, therefore, subject to the payment of taxes and custom duties in accordance with existing customs and tax laws.”

She directed the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, in coordination with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, to issue appropriate circulars to "clarify and or simplify" the documentation, procedures, tax treatment and payment of taxes and duties of the excess importations."

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Thursday, September 27, 2007



GORDON : Biglang-bigla yung incident. Biglang pumutok, biglang nawala.

Ang ganda-ganda ng hearing. It is a hearing about oversight na matutulungan nga ang COA and then I think he (COA Chairman Guillermo Carague) was having a bad day, mali siguro ang gising, bigla na lang nagsisigaw doon, medyo nagmura pa pero hindi ko na pinatulan. Nang umalis na siya ang sabi ko sa kanya "No you can not leave" then I told him "I will put you in contempt". Lumabas siya kaya pinahuli ko siya tapos bumalik siya then he apologized. Ang sabi "I'm sorry" and he said "Hindi tama yung ginawa ko". Sabi pa niya "Dick I really am sorry, I don't know what happened to me and I apologize". Ang sabi ko walang problema d'yan. Nasa record naman yun.

Q. Tungkol sa budget ang problema?

Gordon: Ang problema lang talaga, ang COA ay kulang nga sa tao kaya napag-usapan yun sa ARMM. Halimbawa nga yung namatay na taga-COA doon-- apat na tao na raw ang namamatay. Ang sabi ko ibigay mo sa akin at iimbestigahan natin. Hindi naman namin tinutugis ang COA. Ang akala niya tinutugis, pero hindi naman naming tinutugis. Tinutulungan panga namin. Kaso ang nangyari ay nagsisigaw na siya doon. Nagulat ang lahat and I think he as been overly defensive about COA because ang pinag-uusapan nga doon ay yung oversight sa government corporations. Pinapaliwanag ko lang kung ano ang dapat gawin sa government corporation para mawala yung mga abusado at katulong naming ang COA. Pero ang parang ang take niya doon ay parang naki-critize yung COA and then biglang tumaas ang kanyang boses, tumayo at magwa-walk-out na. He was calling the Senate all kinds of names. What happened to him, I don't know. Even his people were apologetic and everybody in the committee ay nagulat din.


Gordon: Yung kontrata ay talagang dapat ibasura sapagkat tainted na yung kontrata dahil may sumigaw na may nag-o-offer ng pera. To my mind this contract should not even be suspended, dapat ito ibasura na itong kontrata sapagkat punong-puno ito ng butas.

This contract is poisoned all together. It is toxic already.

Q. Sir do you have more than enough to recommend the prosecution of….?

Gordon: I think I have enough to show circumstantial evidence that Ablos is out of line. Si Abalos ang dapat na pag-usapan natin. Sa palagay ko mayroon tayong supisyenteng rason (suffiecient reason). Sa akin hindi a-admit si Abalos so saan natin siya hinuli? Hinuli natin siya sa circumstantial evidence. Ang tanong ko sa kanya, "Sunod-sunod na buwan nasa China ka na dapat ang trabaho mo ay sa Comelec. At that time na yan rin sunod-sunod na nini-negotiate yung ZTE. Pangalawa, dalawang kaibigan niya ang nagsasabi, sabi pa niya family friend—si Joey de Venecia. Sinasabing niya na tumanggap ka ng $10M at humihingi pa ng karagdagan. Bakit hindi niya sinumbong sa tatay niya (Speaker de Venecia) Ang sabi niya naaawa daw siya sa doon sa matanda. Pangalawa, inaakusahan siya ni Neri na nag-o-offer siya ng 200. Samakatuwid may pattern.

Halatang-halata na talagang may nangyayaring hindi maganda because bakit pupunta ang Chairman ng Comelec buwan-buwan sa isang bansa na nag-o-offer sa atin at bakit yung ino-offer na yun ay ang hinahabol ni de Venecia na siyang nag-ooffer ng $10M. Mahirap ipaliwanag yun. Sinasabi mo nag-golf ka, paano ka naggo-golf eh Comelec ka at bilang opisyal ng gobyerno hindi ka dapat tumanggap ng libreng palaro o tiket sa larong yan. Sa nangyayari ngayon, wala na itong ZTE na ito. Hindi na pupwede yan at panahon na para habulin na ang mga taong iyan.

Q. Sir, malinaw na Abalos can be impeached?

Gordon: Yes. He can be impeached.

Q. What ground?

Gordon: Yang mga allegation ng bribery. Even to offer a bribe is already punishable under the anti-graft law. And you don't need guilt beyond reasonable doubt in an impeachment case.

Q. So, if the impeachment reaches the Senate you will vote for his impeachment?

Gordon: So right it will appear to be kaya nga kung ito ay darating sa impeachment I would have to be the Judge kapag umabot dito so I will hold judgment. Ang tinanong ninyo sa akin kung may kaso ba? May kaso. And he has to prove his innocence. Para sa akin mabigat yun, kapag nag-offer ka sa isang taong katulad ni Neri, ibig sabihin nag-offer ka rin sa iba. May inoperan pang iba.

Q. Yung taong inoperan may kaso?

Gordon: Hindi naman tumanggap. Pag tumanggap yun, both the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker are liable. Kaya nga sinasabi dito the bribe-offerer has already committed a crime. Crime na yung pag-offer na yun.

Q. Sir, si PGMA hindi ba siya accountable dahil lumalabas na alam niya yung bribery?

Gordon: The Comelec is a constitutional body. Sinumbong sa kanya(GMA) ni Neri na may ganoong pangyayari. Dapat ang ginawa niya is to write a formal letter to the Comelec and say, "Bakit ka nag-o-offer ng ganyan?" Kung ako yun, ganoon ang gagawin ko. All my life, as an executive, kapag may nagsumbong sa mga tauhan ko o sa mga tao ng gobyerno, tatawagin ko yan at ihaharap ko yung nagsusumbong lalo na kung miyembro ng political family ko yan.

Q. Sir, kung bigla bang magresign si Abalos pwede pa rin siyang habulin?

Gordon: Yes. You are liable for all your acts as a public official.

Q. Sir, sa tingin ninyo si Abalos ay walang balak mag-resign?

Gordon: Hindi magre-resign yan.

Q. Kapalmuks talaga?

Gordon: Hindi dahil doon. Dahil abugado siya akala niya makakalusot siya eh. Sa impeachment malakas na yan. Maybe sa criminal kulang pa pero sa impeachment, malakas na malakas na yan.

Alam nyo hindi masa-satisfy ang publiko kung walang babagsak dito. Hindi na pwedeng itago ito. The genie is out of the bottle. Masyadong maraming beses binanggit si Abalos. Nagbiyahe buwan-buwan. Paano itatago sa House yan. Bakit ka sinasabihan ni Neri at de Venecia na nagbibigay ka. At hindi naman niya aaminin na ginawa niya yan.

Q. Kailangang managot pa rin?

Gordon: Yes. Kailangang managot. Ako kahit si Erap, pardon cannot be issued against him. Hindi pa tapos ang proseso. Tapusin muna natin.


Q. Sir yung kay Neri should he be cited by the Senate for contempt for citing executive privilege?

Gordon: Yung executive privilege na sinasabi ni Neri only holds in so far as question hour. This was not the question hour. Ngayon kung executive privilege ang –isa-cite niya, it is not valid. Walang national security considerations. Walang problema doon sa government relations with another country. Wala tayong mahalagang bagay na hindi ilalabas muna sapagkat may negotiations. So he cannot invoke executive privilege. That is why the Chair, Cayetano should not have allowed him to invoke executive privilege.

Q. So nagkamali siya?

Gordon: Yes. Mali siya doon.

Q. So you will compel him to answer (Neri)?

Gordon: He has to answer. In fairness to Sec. Neri, remember by saying this, he is endangering his family. Malaking problema yan. Dapat nga mahalin natin si Neri. There are two events that have happened here. Una, nakulong ang isang presidente. Pangalawa may cabinet member na nagsabing bina-bribe siya. Iyan ang sinabi ko sa aking talumpati na bubugso ang maraming complaint laban sa mga high officials of the government dahil sa conviction ni Erap.

Q. May rekomendasyon si Sen Mirrian na i-refer na lang sa Ombudsman itong NBN?

Gordon: Alam mo kung talagang tutuusin, tungkulin ng Ombudsman pero ang Ombudsman ay medyo mahihirapan. Kung iri-refer mo ito sa Ombudsman ayun maraming mananagot dyan. Si Joe De Venecia, si Abalos. Kapag ni-refer mo naman ito sa impeachment, you don't need guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Boto lang ng Congressman ang kailangan diyan at madali na yan.

Q. Papasa kaya yun sa House?

Gordon: Bakit naman hindi. Again these are times where we test character. Itong mga panahon na ito, this will be a test of character for the members of the Lower House and the Senate. Masama ba sa character ko kung tatahimik ako kahit mali na ang ginagawa ng isang testigo? I think mali 'yun. Hindi naman ako nagtatanong para maging popular sa tao. Kailangan magtanong ng tama. Out of character ba sakin na nag-waive yung isa at ako ay hindi nag-waive, hindi mo ako pagsasalitain?

Q. Sir, yung nangyari sa inyo ni Sen. Cayetano..?

Gordon: Maganda yung usapan namin, tinatanong ko siya kase naliligaw tayo. Siyempre pagnaka-TV maraming nagpi-play on TV. Binabalik ko lang to what the hearing is all about. Sinabi ko at inulit ko yan. I know that tinatanong ko lang siya, parang advise sa kanyang indirectly na don't lose sight of the meeting. Gusto nating malaman ng tao kung appropriate itong contract na ito, if this contract follows the law, if there were violations of the contract or may mga kalokohang ginawa yung mga nagnenegotiate ng kontrata.

This contract ay kinuha lang dahil pinapautang tayo ng mababang interest pero ang kanilang kompanya ang kanilang payayamanin. Hindi kailangan ng gobyerno at tao ang kontratang ito. Ang dapat unahin natin ay, ipagawa natin ang PGH, bawat region dapat may PGH. Dapat umutang tayo para magkaroon ng computer ang bawat eskuwela at ma-computerize yung election. Dapat ayusin ang education natin. Yun ang dapat pwede natin utangin.

Kung inoperan (offer) si Joey de Venecia, Sec. Neri therefore inoperan din yung iba. Kung sino ang mga iyon hindi ko alam and that is why kailangang ibasura na itong kontratang ito.

Q. Nothing personal dito kasi second time na kayong nagbanggaan ni Cayetano?

Gordon: Ang problema kasi, yung Rules ng Senate malinaw. Katulad kahapon tuloy-tuloy ang hearing. Ang gagawin nila noong isang araw ay they are in effect going to violate the rules. The rules says at 3 o'clock we call all committees stop at ang mauuna ay yung legislative meeting lang, may session na. Ang nangyari ititigil yung hearing pagkatapos itutuloy ang session tapos isu-suspend uli yung session. Pinapakita at pinapaliwanag ko yung rules pero ayaw niyang makinig.

Kahapon, nang magtatanong na ako sasabihin ni Sen Pimentel "Ako muna," ang sabi ko, "Sige". I always give way. Papasok si Sen Pangilinan, sige I will give way. Pero kung panahon ko naman at magtatanong ako, wag mo akong iba-bind doon sa waiver ni Sen. Enrile. Kung nag-waive sila, that is their privilege. I have not waived. I was not going to waive, the question that I wanted to ask I think was very, very important.

The Chairman had no right to assume that I had waived my right. Kaya kami nagkaroon ng banggaan kagabi. Wag ninyong masamain iyon sapagkat yun ay part of the rules. Kailangan kapag nag-imbestiga tayo, yung rules natin ay sinusunod natin. Sapagkat kung wala nang rules ay talagang magulo. Kaya pinagsabihan ko. Seguro hindi ka nga nag-chair dati, hindi mo binabasa yung rules, I'm sorry I had to say that because medyo sinabi niya na "I was quibbling". I'm not quibbling. We live here by the rules.

Subic Keppel secures repeat orders

SINGAPORE: Keppel Shipyard Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited (Keppel O&M), has been awarded two contracts worth US$66.7 million for the conversion of a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel and a floating storage and offloading (FSO) vessel.

The first contract, awarded by Prosafe Production Pte Ltd., is for the conversion of a 101,832 dwt double-sided tanker, MT Kudam, into an FPSO facility. Subic Shipyard & Engineering Inc., an associate of Keppel Shipyard, will carry out the first phase of this FPSO conversion. This includes the demolition, refurbishment and preparation of the topside installation for the FPSO conversion in the Philippines.

Keppel Shipyard will undertake the integration of the topside modules and the completion of the conversion work in Singapore. Work on the vessel is expected to be completed by late 2008.

Executive Director of Keppel Shipyard Nelson Yeo said, "Prosafe has entrusted us exclusively to carry out the conversion of all their FPSO and FSO systems in the last 10 years. With this new contract, the company has, to date, awarded us 10 projects.

"Our partnership with Prosafe is characterised by open communication, teamwork, flexibility and mutual understanding. We will support Prosafe in their efforts to meet the requirements of the offshore industry."

The FPSO, with an oil storage capacity of 700,000 bbls and production capability of 63,000 b/d and gas compression facility of 80 MMscf/d, will be equipped with a Prosafe designed disconnectable internal turret mooring system. It will be leased to Apache by Prosafe for use on the Theo-Van Gogh deepwater oil field off Western Australia.

Prosafe Production, the wholly-owned Singapore unit for Prosafe SE, is a major owner and operator of FPSO and FSO facilities worldwide.

The second contract is for an FSO conversion for repeat customer Perenco S.A. For this contract, a 138,105 dwt tanker is to be converted into a FSO unit to be named FSO Kalamu. It will be moored by a soft yoke arm, off the coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The major scope of the conversion includes the installation of guide sheave foundations at the FSO's bow to enable connections to the soft yoke. It also includes the upgrading of accommodation facilities for 112 persons, as well as the installation of a gas turbine power generation package and a metering skid unit. The conversion of water ballast tanks into cargo oil tanks and the modification of the cargo and ballast piping system will also take place.

The FSO unit will have a storage capability of about 1.045 million barrels of oil upon its completion in the first quarter of 2008.

Perenco had recently awarded Keppel O&M two contracts. The first was to Keppel Shipyard for the conversion of the FSO Fernan Vaz. The second was to Keppel Verolme for the construction of a mobile offshore application barge.

The contracts are not expected to have material impact on the net tangible assets or earnings per share of Keppel Corporation for the financial year ending Dec. 31, 2007.

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Man who ‘threatened’ Neri over port deal

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. - Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- With his fierce advocacy for the liberalization of Manila’s lucrative but monopolistic port services, Romulo Neri has allegedly earned the ire of Enrique Razon, chair and president of International Container Terminal Services Inc.(ICTSI).

Neri named the powerful businessman as the one who threatened him against allowing a rival to get into Manila’s port business.

Neri told Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the controversial National Broadband Network (NBN) deal that he had come “face to face” with Razon at a party held at the Forbes Park residence of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.’s mother-in-law.

“During that party, he accosted me, in effect telling me, ‘You will allow Harbour Centre to operate over my dead body,’” Neri told Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., quoting Razon.

Pimentel earlier asked Neri if he had incurred the ire of businessmen in the arrastre business, and if Razon was among these businessmen.

But Neri denied receiving a text message supposedly sent to an aide of his and read aloud by Pimentel: “If your boss mentions my name, I will personally break every bone in his body.”

He also denied being threatened against his appearance at the Senate hearing.

Harbour Centre, owned by Reghis Romero II of RII Builders, operates a port terminal at the former Smokey Mountain.

It has not been able to get a license to handle the much bigger 20-foot containers currently limited to ICTSI at the Manila International Container Terminal and Asian Terminal Inc. at the South Harbor.

“I was for letting Harbour Centre enter the port container business in Manila because [it is controlled] by only two. I was going for competition; I thought allowing Harbour Centre to compete would bring down container costs, which are [among] the highest at $1,300 per [20-foot equivalent unit],” Neri said.

The ICTSI media relations office declined a request from the Philippine Daily Inquirer for a phone interview with or a statement from Razon.

From NEDA to CHEd

Razon, 47, is widely believed to be behind Neri’s recent transfer from the National Economic and Development Authority to the Commission on Higher Education, purportedly because of Neri’s pro-liberalization, free-competition stance.

But Neri said he was not aware of this.

When asked by Pimentel whether he was afraid for his life, Neri said: “I’ve maintained my stand despite the threats.”

He said he had pushed not only for the liberalization of the arrastre port services but also for the opening up of the airline, telecommunications, ports and shipping industries.

“These are the subjects of regulatory capture, where regulatory agencies may be dictated [to] by some powerful business groups,” he said.

Since receiving the purported threat from Razon, Neri said he had not seen the ICTSI chief.

Close to FG

Razon, who is reportedly very close to First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, served as the treasurer and major financier of the administration’s Team Unity in the May elections.

Razon’s name was also mentioned by Jose “Joey” de Venecia III of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI), who first testified last week at the Senate inquiry into the NBN deal.

De Venecia Wednesday said that when he divested his shares at Multimedia Telephony Inc. in 2003, these were “bought by Anscor (A. Soriano Corp.) and Ricky Razon, Fritz Server and Nono Ibazeta.”

He further claimed that the group subsequently signed a vendor and financing deal with ZTE Corp., the Chinese firm to which AHI lost out to in the broadband project.

Razon, a graduate of De La Salle University, is a member of the American Management Association, Management Association of the Philippines, Pacific Basin Economic Council, and World Economic Forum.

He is a known friend of ousted President Joseph Estrada, who was recently convicted of plunder. He chaired the Erap Cup in 2000 and was the source of a P10-million contribution to Estrada’s Muslim Youth Foundation.

In 2003, Razon was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a member of the Public-Private Sector Task Force on the Reconstruction and Development of Iraq.

ICTSI, which also operates abroad, is the Philippines’ largest corporation engaged in handling container and bulk cargo.

Its known total consolidated assets as of December 2006 is P19.1 billion. Last month, it reported a six-month net income of P1.045 billion this year.

ICTSI has port terminals in Manila, Subic, Batangas and General Santos City. It also operates ports in Japan, Indonesia, Poland, Brazil, Syria and Madagascar.

In March this year, it disclosed that it had won another port contract abroad, this time in Ecuador.

In September 2005, the Philippine Ports Authority approved ICTSI’s petition for a 25-year extension of its contract to operate at the Port of Manila. With reports from Riza Olchondra; Eliza Victoria, Inquirer Research

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Muling matutunghayan ng mga boxing fanatics ng Olongapo ang inaantabayanang laban ng pambato ng Pilipinas na si Manny ‘’Pacman’’ Pacquiao laban sa tinaguriang ‘’Babyfaced Assassin of Mexico’’ na si Marco Antonio Barrera.

Ang 12-round battle na hihirang sa Super Featherweight Champion na magaganap Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA sa ika-6 ng Oktubre 2007 ay libreng masasaksihan naman ng mga residente ng Olongapo sa ika-7 ng Oktubre 2007, simula alas-8 ng umaga sa Olongapo City Convention Center (OCCC).

Sa naisin ni City Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. na maging bahagi ang mga Olongapeño sa laban ng taon ay inatasan niya si Dr. Donald Vigo na pangunahan ang pagse-set-up ng giant screen sa venue.

‘’Ang laban ni Pacman ay hindi lamang laban ng iisang Pilipino. Suportahan natin si Pacquiao dahil ang kanyang tagumpay ay tagumpay ng sanbayanan,’’ wika ni Mayor Bong Gordon.

Ang tapatang Pacquiao-Barrera ay hatid ni Mayor Bong Gordon sa mga Olongapeñong walang telebisyon sa tahanan o kaya’y nais masaksihan ang pagpapakawala ng bawat suntok ng dalawang bayani ng lona kasama ang malaking crowd.

Matatandaan na huling ipinagbunyi ng mga Olongapeño sa pangunguna ni Mayor Gordon ang tagumpay ni Manny Pacquiao laban kay Eric ‘’El Terrible’’ Morales sa huling sagupaan ng dalawa sa Las Vegas, Nevada, USA noong ika-19 ng Nobyembre 2006 (araw sa Pilipinas).


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Job Opportunities in Olongapo-Subic Bay



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Councilor to Bacolod mayor: Explain Terrano issue

COA found out that some of the 11 Terranos were not in running condition when purchased from from CBR Motor Center in Subic.
City spends almost P4 million for secondhand vehicles for Some Terranos not running anymore.

IF there’s a need to correct, then it should be corrected. If there’s a need to reimburse the amount, then it should be reimbursed.

This was the call of Councilor Dindo Ramos Tuesday, citing the Commission on Audit report that described the purchase of 11 Nissan Terranos by the City Government as a violation of a national budget circular and Republic Act 9184.

COA found out that some of the 11 Terranos were not in running condition when purchased from from CBR Motor Center in Subic.

Most of these Terranos are not being used anymore for the police’s anti-terrorism campaign in Bacolod.

“The City Mayor’s Office must rectify or correct the transaction of purchasing 11 defective Nissan Terranos,” Ramos said in a phone interview with Sun.Star-Bacolod Tuesday night.

Ramos, a lawyer by profession, is also a known political ally of incumbent Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

At the City Council, he heads the committee on good government.

“Initially, my position is that if COA notated that the purchase of 11 Terranos was a violation of certain provisions, so Mayor Leonardia should act now and explain this Terrano issue,” Ramos said.

COA has said that most of the Terranos are no longer “usable.”

Until, COA added, there has been no report from the City on whether it has corrected the defects noted during the inspection.

Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. also expressed sadness over the condition of the Nissan Terranos. He said the usefulness of the vehicles has not been maximized.

“Those that are not in running condition depreciate faster if not repaired,” he pointed out.

Job Opportunities in Olongapo-Subic Bay



The struggle to find justice

The most shocking and outrageous case of child rape in need of help is a 13 year old victim of gang rape. It happened in the Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery, Orion, Bataan by a gang of ten teenagers, minors who should be in rehabilitation but are roaming free to this day. The child is traumatized and in shock after the ordeal and scarred for life. She will get all the therapy, protection and legal assistance she needs at the Preda home for girls. The abusers even videotaped the multiple crime on a mobile phone and immediately distributed it far and wide by the cell phone using blue tooth technology boasting of their exploits. Its damming evidence.

Thousands of children are victimized every day and yet few abusers are convicted. Local official frequently arrange a pay off. The sex tourists enjoy protection and impunity from prosecution and we the defenders are the ones prosecuted, we appeal to readers to write to the Philippine Embassy or Department of Justice, Padre Faura, Manila to have the fake charges of libel, made by an American suspect against our social workers, dropped.

Take the ongoing case in Zambales of an American who is accused of raping his four (4) year old daughter whom he has now abandoned. Despite the account of the little girl, the testimony of the mother and the medico legal report confirming severe abuse and the filing of the criminal charges the abuser has not been called to a preliminary investigation.

Instead of filing a counter affidavit followed by a swift preliminary investigation the accused filed a motion to have another medico legal examination by the NBI, and requested that the child be taken from the mother and given to the Social Services. The accused has filed a counter charge against the mother.

Around the campus of the University of the Philippines posters declare “Justice delayed is justice denied”. The student body is supporting the family of a young student Cris Anthony Mendez who was allegedly murdered during a fraternity hazing ritual as he was being inducted into the Sigma Rho Fraternity. The fraternities, have mostly good people, many are members of the elite of Philippine society. Most help each other prosper and serve society to the best of their ability.

Some members can corrupt a good fraternity and can turn a section of it into a cult and use hazing and fear as a way to instill obedience, secrecy and have control over new members.

The family of public administration student Cris Anthony Mendez have little chance of justice. The family fears that powerful persons behind the scenes will work to block an indictment or a public trial if ever a member of the fraternity is charged.

The call of University Vice President Attorney Marvic Leonen for witnesses to come forward. No fraternity has been openly accused but the officials of Sigma Rho were placed on preventive suspension after the death of Cris Mendez.

As former Justice Secretary-designated Simeon A. Datumanong said, The Sigma Rho Fraternity "...has distinguished members who have proven themselves worthy of public service. We have, or the Sigma Rho Fraternity has, former Senate President Salonga, former Senate President Angara, the late Senate President Fernan and now Senate President Drilon”. Former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga resigned as a member of the UP Sigma Rho a few weeks ago when the scandal broke.

We know from hard experience that successful prosecution is a hard road to travel. We hope the new acting secretary of justice will reform the system. Despite powerful evidence charges of child sex abuse are too frequently dismissed or prosecutor make no resolution for years.

We at the Preda Children's Home, have many pending cases of abused children who are seeking healing through justice. Many of the accused are still out there perhaps abusing other children so we are going to hire our own female lawyer and a paralegal officer. Is there a lawyer or paralegal ready to serve the children, it's a well paid job and what better work is there than helping children, the most vulnerable of all. Interested applicants can contact the Preda Center, Olongapo City (09178362274) END

Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines.
e-mail: preda@info.com.ph

PREDA Information Office

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Job Opportunities in Olongapo-Subic Bay

Internal Auditor
MIS Officer



Tinanggap ni City Mayor ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. buhat kina Presidente Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at DILG Secretary & NAPOLCOM Chairman Ronaldo V. Puno ang Plaque of Recognition bilang 2nd placer ng Olongapo sa ‘’2005 Best Peace and Order Council (POC)-Highly Urbanized Cities Category.’’

Sa awarding ceremonies nitong ika-21 ng Setyembre 2007 sa Rizal Hall ng Malacañang Palace ay muling ginawad sa lungsod ang minimithing pagkilala buhat sa prestiyosong Peace and Order Council Awards (POC) ng Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) at National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM).

Nasungkit ng Makati City ang unang pwesto (1st placer), nag-tie naman sa ikalawang pwesto (2nd Placer) ang Olongapo City at ang Bacolod City samantalang pumasok sa ikatlong pwesto (3rd placer) ang Davao.

Matatandan na una nang kinilala ang Olongapo taong 2004 nang parangalan ito bilang ‘’one of the best five’’ sa Highly Urbanized Cities Category’’ at bilang consistent Regional Awardee at ilang ulit na naging kinatawan ng Region-3 sa National Level competitions.

Sa kompetisyon ay pinagbatayan ng mga hurado ang City Integrated Area/Community Public Safety Plan (IA/CPSP) nang lungsod noong taong 2006 kung saan dito nakasaad ang partisipasyon ng ibat-ibang ahensiya ng lokal na pamahalaan tulad ng Olongapo City Police Office (OCPO), para sa crime prevention, law enforcement at counter insurgency.

Kabilang rin sa (IA/CPSP) ang Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Dept. of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), City Health Office (CHO), City Social Welfere and Development (CSWD) Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Disaster Management Office (DMO) at ang labingpitong (17) barangay para sa community participation.

Ang POC Awards ay isang prestiyosong kompetisyon na may layuning pumili ng mga lugar sa bansa na may konkretong programa at mahusay na pagpapatupad sa Peace and Order.

Si Mayor Bong Gordon kasama si Presidente Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, at iba pang awardees ng ‘’2005 Peace and Order Council’’ sa ginanap na awarding ceremonies sa Malacañang Palace nitong ika- 21 ng Setyembre 2007.


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Sinusuportahan ng Olongapo City Government sa pamumuno ni Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. at City Councilor Councilor Marybeth Marzan ang isasagawang “Battle of the English Masters” ng Capstone Academy sa ika-5 hanggang ika-6 ng Nobyembre 2007.

Ang “Battle of the English Masters’’ ng Olongapo City Government at Capstone Academy ay kaalinsabay ng English Week sa darating na ika-5 hanggang ika-9 ng Nobyembre 2007 na may temang “English Competence Means Academic Excellence.’’ Mayroong mga kumpetisyon na titimbang sa kagalingan ng mga “high school students’’ at maging mga “teachers” sa larangan ng Ingles. Gayundin, makatutulong ang nasabing mga paligsahan upang lalong mapaigting pa ang kakayahan ng mga batang Olongapeño sa pakikipagtalastasan sa wikang Ingles, “oral” man o “written.’’

Narito ang mga kumpetisyon na pagtatagisan ng mga nagnanais makilahok at ang mga premyo na maaaring makamit ng mga magwawagi:

Story Telling and Oratorical Speech

1st Place
● Cash
● Trophy
● Gift Certificates
● 2-year Full College Scholarship

2nd Place
● Cash
● Medal and Certificate
● 2-year Full College Scholarship

3rd Place
● Cash
● Medal and Certificate
● 2-year Full College Scholarship

Quiz Bee (for Students and Teachers)

1st Place
● Cash
● Trophy and Certificate
● Gift Certificates for Teachers
● 2-year Full College Scholarship for Students

2nd Place
● Cash
● Medal and Certificate
● Gift Certificate for Teachers
● 2-year Full College Scholarship for Students

3rd Place
● Cash
● Medal and Certificate
● Gift Certificate for Teachers
● 2-year Full College Scholarship for Students

Para sa ibang detalye at impormasyon ay maaaring makipag-ugnayan sa tanggapan ni Kgd. Bebeth Marzan sa City Hall o sa Capstone Academy na matatagpuan sa #795 Rizal Avenue, Olongapo City. Maaari ring tumawag sa mga sumusunod na telepono:

Hon. Bebeth Marzan – (047) 224-8390 loc. 4225
Capstone Academy – (047) 306-8050
- +63906-4068070
- +63921-5237715


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Bagong Fire Chief, Ipinakilala!

Mainit na tinanggap ng mamamayang Olongapeño ang bagong Fire Chief ng lungsod na si Fire Marshal Rodel Morales Manuel.

Ipinakilala ni City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. si City Fire Marshal Rodel Manuel sa mga opisyal at kawani ng Pamahalaang Panlungsod ng Olongapo sa nakaraang flag raising ceremony na ginanap noong ika-17 ng Setyembre sa Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Covered Court.

Sa pagpapakilala sa bagong fire chief ay ipinahayag ni Mayor Gordon na tulad ng publiko, siya naniniwalang patuloy na pag-iibayuhin nito ang pagsiguro sa kaligtasan ng mga Olongapeño lalo sa oras ng emergency situations.

Si Manuel ay naitalaga sa posisyon noong ika-10 ng Agosto 2007. Magugunita ring una siyang pumasok sa fire service noong taong 1993 sa Olongapo City Fire Station. Naitalaga siyang fire officer noong 2000 at na-promote bilang senior inspector noong 2005.

Si Fire Marshal Rodel Morales Manuel, ang bagong Fire Chief ng Olongapo City.


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4 Illegal Loggers, Naaresto

Inaresto ng operatiba ng Police Station 6 ng Olongapo City ang apat (4) na hinihinalang illegal loggers nitong ika-20 ng Setyembre sa Brgy. Barretto.

Sa operasyong isinagawa ng Olongapo City Police, nahuli ang mga suspek sakay ng isang closed Isuzu elf truck karga ang mga square logs na tinatangka nitong itakas.

Kinilala ni Police Station 6 Commander Inspector Vicente Gabarda ang mga suspek na sina Francisco Trinidad at Annaliza Bechayda ng Sitio Masingit, Brgy. San Isidro, Subic, Zambales kasama sina Resurrección Veran at Gilbert Devilles ng Kale Beach, Brgy. Kalaklan, Olongapo City.

Ayon pa sa mga pulis ng Station 6, una silang nakatanggap ng impormasyon na tumutukoy sa pinaplanong pagtatakas ng mga kontrabando mula sa isang bahay sa Rizal Extension. Agad namang nagtalaga ng checkpoint sa Rizal Street ng Brgy. Baretto ang mga pulis at nasakote nga ang mga suspek.

Nabawi ng pulisya ang dalawampu’t limang (25) square logs na may sukat 350 board feet sakay ng Isuzu elf truck na may plate number RFE 737. Haharap naman sa kasong illegal logging at smuggling of forest products ang mga naaresto.

Ang mga operasyong tulad ng isinagawa ng Station 6 ng Olongapo City Police ay bahagi pa rin ng kampanya ni Mayor Bong Gordon para sa higit na pagpro-protekta ng kalikasan laban sa mga illegal loggers.


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PCSO Charity Campaign sa Gapo

Isang Charity Campaign ang isinagawa ng Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) sa lungsod ng Olongapo nitong ika-25 ng Setyembre 2007 sa Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Covered Court.

Sa pakikipag-ugnayan ng PCSO sa Olongapo City sa pamumuno ni Mayor Bong Gordon, matagumpay na idinaos ang medical mission at roadshow concert kaugnay ng proyekto nitong “Project Walang Kupas”.

Umabot sa isang libo at limandaang (1,500) katao ang dumayo sa isinagawang medical mission ng PCSO upang makinabang sa medical and health services na hatid nito. Nilalayon ng naturang medical mission na mabigyan ng libreng serbisyo-pangkalusugan ang publiko kasabay na rin ang pagpapakilala ng service and revenue roles ng tanggapan.

Samantala, dinumog naman ng maraming Olongapeño ang konsiyertong kinatatampukan ng mga piling banda na gumawa ng mga orihinal na komposisyong sumesentro sa charity role ng PCSO. Layunin naman ng concert event na ipahayag ang kahalagahan ng pagkakawang-gawa sa higit pang pagsusulong ng nation building.

Ang “Walang Kupas Project” ng PCSO ay bahagi ng year-long campaign nito upang mai-promote ang mga revenue activities tulad ng lotto 6/42, 6/45 at 6/49, STL at Keno na nakatutulong upang maisakatuparan ang service mandate ng ahensya. Target naman ng proyekto ang mga key cities sa labas ng Metro Manila tulad ng Olongapo City.

Si Mayor Bong Gordon sa isinagawang Concert Tour ng Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) sa Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Covered Court noong ika- 25 ng Setyembre. Ang Concert Tour ay bahagi ng “Project Walang Kupas” ng PCSO.


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Hebei pursuing Subic glass plant

Hebei Xingtao Jingniu Glass Co. Ltd. of China, or Crystal Bull, is pushing through with its proposed $300-million glass production facility in the Subic Bay Freeport, with construction set to start before yearend.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority administrator Armand Arreza told reporters last week that the company would invest $100 million for the first phase of the project.

“The Chinese have confirmed their investment here in the Freeport. They will be producing tinted glass and specialized glass such as jade and ceramic glass for export to Southeast Asia and for local needs,” said Arreza, who met with Jingniu’s chairman Wang Chang Lin.

The project will generate 2,000 new jobs initially.

The Chinese, he said, have chosen to put up their production facility on a 23-hectare area in Maritan Hill. Jingniu will initially put two product lines.

The groundbreaking and start of construction are set within the year. The company expects to operate commercially a year after the start of construction.

The firm, as an export enterprise, will be required to export 70 percent of its entire production and allocate only 30 percent for the domestic market. But being a pioneer project, the company won’t be required to adhere to the 70-percent export requirement since this was only enforced for the reckoning of the 5-percent gross income tax.

“I would expect the first six years of operations would ramp up to eventually hurdle the 70-percent minimum export requirement,” said Arreza.

He also said Crystal Bull’s products would not directly compete with Japan’s Asahi Glass, which had long been operating in the country.

“The product lines are different. Besides, all tinted glass being used locally is imported from China anyway,” said Arreza.

He said there was higher demand for tinted glass as opposed to Asahi’s clear glass. The glass panels used in buildings are tinted. Jade glass is used in bathroom fixtures, while the ceramic glass is for industrial use like those in space shuttles.

He also said the company was also studying the viability of sourcing its raw materials, particularly silica, from local sources such as Mindoro and Antique.

“With the local manufacturing and sourcing, I expect the cost of construction materials, particularly glass, would go down,” Arreza said.

Jingniu earlier pulled out its investment application after it was told that its project “does not fit” into the environment-friendly positioning of the Subic Freeport. The Chinese investors were apparently dismayed when its proposed project was refused due to environmental reasons.
By Elaine Ruzul S. Ramos - Manila Standard Today

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Speakout: No politics in interchange


I ALWAYS regard your newspaper as one reliable information medium connecting people and the government. In the same vein, I never doubted the dedication and impartiality of your people in reporting or writing issues that affect the life of Juan dela Cruz. Rest assured, I am with you in advocating for the truth and transparency.

Having assured this, I write in reference to your editorial entitled "The Politics of Interchange" which appeared on your September 19, 2007 issue, the contents of which needed to be clarified in the spirit of impartiality and fairness.

The title of the editorial piece itself, "The Politics of Interchange," presented a danger of misleading your intelligent readers. I would assure you that politics was, is, and never present in this project. You are correct in noting disagreements among stakeholders regarding the interchange project, but let me assure the public that we disagree without being disagreeable. This is democracy at work.

The fact is we are proposing for the establishment of two interchanges, one in Angeles City and one in Porac, because of the twin advantages and benefits they would bring to both the government and the people. One, it would save the government millions of funds since the stand-by P400 million budget coming from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) would be enough because the estimate for one interchange is only a little above than P200 million. For the proposed interchange in Porac, we firmly believe that once completed, the infrastructure will boost the re-development of the town, including the nearby municipalities of Floridablanca and Sta. Rita.

The same prospective is expected in Angeles. In the first place, Angeles City produces more than half of Pampanga's exports. And if the port of Subic was to be tapped as the new exit point for these export commodities, there will be a high demand for access to SCTEx from the city and San Fernando and vice versa.

The next issue that I would like to clarify borders on personal and government service areas. In your editorial, you mentioned, to the effect, that I own 30 hectares near Barangay Margot, Angeles City. This false and unfounded allegation, either intentional or just a result of unverified loose talk, predicated on the fact that I favor the establishment of the interchange in the city.

Let me categorically state that I have no property, neither my immediate family, in the area mentioned. Further, I have no personal interest, nor my family, whatsoever in the project. Our benefit from the interchanges will be that of a citizen of the country living in the province of Pampanga, which is same and equal with the benefit of other citizens of this country and residents of the province of Pampanga.

With this letter, I hope I made myself clear and the doubt that was cast on the integrity of my personality as a public servant will be erased. This would only happen, I believe if you will find a little space for this letter and let the people be enlightened.

Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council
Development Champion, Luzon Urban Beltway

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Monday, September 24, 2007

PGMA wants BOC anti-smuggling campaign bolstered by ICT

By Minerva BC Newman - PIA

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has instructed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to speed up its Information and Communication Technology projects to improve its capabilities to stamp out smuggling in the bureau.

As can be recalled, the Department of Finance (DOF) in its efforts to eradicate graft and corruption at the BOC, created the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) that would track down illegal activities of corrupt officials and employees from government revenue agencies specifically bribery, undervaluation of taxes and smuggling.

Earlier, the Department of Finance's Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) filed with the Office of the Ombudsman graft charges against six BOC personnel for allegedly undervaluing and illegally releasing 14 luxury cars which were appraised at only about P1 million six months ago.

Charged were Josephine Dullas, acting chief of the certificate of payment unit of the BOC-Subic; custom examiners Orlando Ronquillo, Rustico Mallari and Enrico Cruz and principal appraisers Ebrahim Pangkatan and Rodolfo Casis.

The six BOC employees were accused of conspiring with one another to undervalue the 14 luxury cars imported by Hidemitsu Trading Corp. and to illegally release the luxury vehicles from the Hidemitsu Trading Corp, a locator within the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

The six BOC employees were accused of conspiring with one another to undervalue the 14 luxury cars imported by Hidemitsu Trading Corp. and to illegally release the luxury vehicles from the Hidemitsu Trading Corp, a locator within the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

In a BOC revenue command conference at Malacanang recently President Arroyo wants the BOC to explore the possibility of funding its ICT program through the Millennium Challenge and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission Accounts. She also wants the BOC to look into the possibility of funding a system that can track the inventory of petroleum, first in Subic.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007



Angeles City. After opening two hundred fifty Botika Natin sa Nayon outlets in the province of Zambales and the city of Olongapo, the Zambales War Against Poverty Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the Environmental Protection of Asia Foundation, Inc. opens its very first Botika Natin sa Nayon distribution center inside Lifeline Medical Center in Angeles City last September 18, 2007.

"I am glad that this project that I started in Zambales as a former vice governor in partnership with the Zambales War Against Poverty Foundation, Inc. (ZWAPFI) more than two years ago is now in Angeles City to provide its people with miraculously priced medicines", according to Ramon G. Lacbain II who is now serving as executive director of ZWAPFI.

The opening of first Animal Bites Treatment Clinic in Angeles City just beside the Botika Natin sa Nayon Distribution Center also coincided with the event. This clinic is a partnership between ZWAPFI and Family Vaccines and Specilaty Clinics.

As a result of a partnership between Family Vaccines and Specialty Clinics and ZWAPFI, the first animal bites treatment clinic was opened in Subic in August which was followed by Angeles City.

Two more animal bites treeatment clinics will be opned on October 1, 2007 and last week of October in Iba, Zambales and Olongapo City respectively.
These clinics being run by registered and trained nurses aim to educate the public on the prevention of rabies and provide very low cost anti-rabies vaccines to those victims of animal bites.

For more information you may visit - www.botikanatinsanayon.com

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Administration Sen. Richard Gordon said the government did not need to take out a loan to finance an NBN project that the country does not need.

"It should be scrapped. Palpak talaga (It's really bungled). It is not need-driven but supply-driven. We do not need that project. What we need is to spend on education, health," Gordon said, adding: "We should ask China to help us where we need it."

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza had warned of "repercussions" in the country's relations with China if the deal would not push through.

But Gordon dismissed Mendoza's argument.
"China will understand that. China has other deals with us. Now if we ban their products, sampal sa kanila iyon (It's a slap on them)," he said.


Scrap NBN deal, senators urge
By Dona Pazzibugan - Inquirer

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Wesleyan fundraiser to benefit Olongapo

MARYSVILLE- A weekend scrapbooking fund-raiser is being planned in October at the church, 2415 Gratiot Blvd.

The event kicks off with a no-frills crop from 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 12. Snacks and soft drinks will be available and those attending will be able to leave their materials out for the daylong crop Oct. 13.

The Saturday session will 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and include meals, snacks, drawings and on-site scrapbook vendors.

Cost is $35 for the full-day Saturday session or $20 for a half-day session. The Friday session is $10. Those who register for the Saturday session prior to Oct., will be able to attend the Friday event for free.

After Oct. 1, the full-day session will cost $40.

Payment can be sent to Kelly Lindsay 2711 Gratiot Ave., Port Huron, 48060. Checks should be made payable to Community Wesleyan Church.

All proceeds will benefit the completion of a medical clinic in Olongapo, Philippines.

For more details, call (810) 966-8364 or (810) 326-1882.
Times Herald


Stop forest destruction

REFLECTIONS - Fr. Shay Cullen
Manila Times

Safeguarding creation will be one of the new virtues of a good Catholic from now on. The leadership of the Vatican and the inspiring words of Pope Benedict a few weeks ago at the ecology youth rally in Italy will guide the Church, we hope to revive its commitment to protect creation and the environment. Some Catholic bishops in the Philippines have been very outspoken against the destruction caused by the environmental ravages of the irresponsible open pit mining industry. They have the protection of rich political families and they plunder natural resources at will. With the recent conviction of former President Joseph Estrada for plunder and corruption we hope the corrupt politicians whose companies and cronies are raping the forests will stand trial also.

Loggers with political protection and influence have been able to get exemptions from the logging ban and the exploitation goes on in the old growth forests of Samar. They are cutting and felling the last of this exotic and beautiful tropical primary forest left in the Philippines. The buzz of the killer chainsaws echoes through the dense forest. It is the new scythe of death.

When I first heard that high-pitched sound during a forest visit elsewhere it sent shivers down my spine, it is the killer machine deployed by those with no love of nature or creation. They are the millionaire politicians who put profits above the nation or its people.

They reign over logging companies that are bringing rapid extinction to 406 unique flowers and plants found nowhere else on this planet but in the rainforests of Samar, one of the most impoverished province of the Philippines. Not only that but 39 species of rare mammals and 197 exotic birds live in these ancient rainforests. All will be in grave danger of becoming extinct soon. There is no way to bring them back. The San Jose logging company was able to use political connection to log in the Samar forest reserve. They claim they are doing “sustainable” forestry. They are only sustaining big bank accounts, critics say.

The Catholic bishops of Calbayog, Catarman and Borongan are totally opposed to this destruction and are calling for a reintroduction of moratorium on logging and mining in the Samar forests for bauxite. As much as $40 billion will be lost in the environmental destruction of Samar 25 years according to Marcelino Dalmacio, who led the Samar Bio­diversity Research Project funded by the United Nations. That’s more than all the bauxite that could be extracted by mining corporations, the benefits of which will go to the mining and logging corporations not the people of Samar.

In a pastoral letter written a decade ago the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) foresaw the destruction and wrote of the forests and all they contain, “These are God’s masterpieces through which he displays his power ingenuity, a love for his creation. We have destroyed their habitat and hunted them ruthlessly. Even now many species are already extinct and the destruction of species is expected to increase dramatically during the next decade as the few remaining stands of forest are wiped out...”

The Vatican is to install hundreds of solar panels on the roof of the Pope Paul IV audience hall in Rome but we need more that that to stop the world wide destruction of nature itself, a nature that sustains all creatures including us humans. Why stand by doing nothing while a few greedy moguls destroy the heritage of the whole nation and the next generation?

The Church ought speak out and act as one more forcibly on the national and international stage against the evils of such exploitation and social sin. The corrupt emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burnt, but now do we all fiddle while the planet burns? We have to join a global campaign for environmental justice and the protection for the last of the remaining forests and species. None of us is exempt from doing our part. The Preda Reforestation project plants 1,200 large fruit-bearing grafted saplings a year to save the soil and give livelihood to the indigenous people and reduce CO2 and global warming. We need to double that number of tall saplings every year. You can join this effort by writing to Preda Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, or e-mail preda@info.com.ph: subject reforestation.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

We’re just fall guys, Customs-Subic men say

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Five of the six personnel of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) charged before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the smuggling of 14 luxury vehicles said Friday that they were set up to take the blame for others who are “high up” in the office hierarchy.

“We feel that we’re just fall guys here to save the necks of those who are really involved in this anomaly,” said Enrico Cruz, a customs examiner who was among those charged for the smuggling of luxury cars.

“We’re just the small fry here,” Cruz said. “And how come they have filed a case against us when there is still an ongoing investigation by the Internal Inquiry Prosecution Division (IIPD) of the Bureau of Customs central office?” he asked.

“We received only one memo asking us for our explanation, and after that no hearing or investigation has been made,” Cruz added.

The Department of Finance (DOF) filed charges the other day against Cruz, customs examiners Orlando Ronquillo and Rustico Mallari, customs appraisers Rodolfo Casis and Ibrahim Pangakatan, and Josephine Dullas, chief of the Certificate of Payment Unit in Subic.

According to the DOF Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS), the six employees conspired with one another to release some P37-million worth of luxury vehicles without proper taxes.

The vehicles included four BMW 750Li sedans, a Chevrolet Corvette, two Honda Acura, three Audi A8Ls, a Nissan Armada, a Mazda Infiniti, and two Cadillac Escalades.

The DOF said the Subic customs personnel labeled the cars as second-hand vehicles worth a total of less than P1 million. The vehicles were actually worth close to P40 million, it added.

Cruz claimed, however, that somebody faked his signature and those of his fellow accused in the BOC amendment documents that were submitted to have the luxury cars registered at the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

He added that he and his co-accused had secured a certification from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) attesting that the agency has not yet issued gate passes for the vehicles in question.

Perfecto Pascual, general manager of the SBMA Seaport, supposedly signed the certificate.

On this issue, Lito Calingo, the LTO registrar in Subic, said that the LTO regional office in San Fernando, Pampanga require importers to first secure a Certificate of Stock Report (CSR) for comparison with the certificate of payment data entry and stencil report.

In case of discrepancies, the importer will be asked to secure a request for amendment and a CSR from the LTO regional office.

With the CSR from LTO Central Luzon office, the Subic LTO office would still require a certified true copy of the Certificate of Payment Unit (CPU) from the Subic BOC office before the vehicle is accepted for registration, Calingo explained.

One of the accused, Rodolfo Casis, also told The STAR that as customs examiners and appraisers in Subic, they simply received from the Entry Processing Unit (EPU) the BOC Import Entry and Revenue Declaration form for examination.

“After we made the initial examination, the importer brings the document to the office of the BOC Commissioner for the Value Reference Information System Clearance (VRISC). After the VRISC evaluation, the document is supposed to be brought back to the Subic BOC’s assessment office,” Casis said.

In the case of the 14 luxury cars, Casis said, the documents “did not go back to our office for final processing.”

Another of the accused, Rustico Mallari, lamented that they were “pre-judged” when the DOF filed charges against the six Subic personnel.

“This is unfair to us,” Mallari said. “The investigation by the BOC, which is our unit, has not yet been completed, and yet here is the Department of Finance already filing charges against us,” he said.

“The way we see it, there is no due process because there is no hearing yet,” he added.

Meanwhile, sources at the Subic Customs office revealed to The STAR that one of the accused who has recently been transferred to the Customs central office has been replaced by a mere storekeeper, pointing out that such replacement may result in improper “procedures” in the Subic office.

The sources said that Josephine Dullas, the former chief of the Certificate of Payment Unit here, is now with the BOC’s Human Resource Management Department in Manila.

However, she has been replaced by one Belma Limbaga, a storekeeper with salary grade 9, who has lately been assigned the task of issuing gate passes for vehicle imports. By BEBOT SISON JR. - The Philippine Star

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BCDA firm on its stand to build only one interchange on SCTEx

Says 2 expressway interchanges to cost gov’t R550 M more, BCDA firm on its stand to build only one interchange on SCTEx

By FRED ROXAS - Manila Bulletin

ANGELES CITY -- "We are standing by the directive of the President to build the Porac-Angeles City interchange."

Thus declared Robert Gervacio, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) project spokesperson and program manager for operational support services.

He said that the location of the interchange came "as a result of consultations" with provincial and city officials.

Reacting to a proposal of some Central Luzon leaders to build two interchanges instead of one, Gervacio said that the proposal would cost the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) – "and, therefore, the government," a whopping R838 million, which is R550 million more than the R280-million budget for the Porac-Angeles interchange.

"It is not true that building the two interchanges would cost only R400 million. "It’s more than double that amount," he said.

Gervacio also said that constructing two interchanges "would be very costly" because an interchange at Margot would cost the government R578 million, and the Porac-Angeles interchange, R260 million.

Based on actual ground condition and estimates, the proposed Margot interchange alone would incur huge cost due to the following construction activities and structures: ground setting, installing a 120-meter bridge over the Abacan River, constructing a 1.25-kilometer Clark access road and two underpasses.

In addition, operating and maintaining the two interchanges will be more costly in the long run.

Likewise, the extension of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport’s third runway is located in Margot, Gervacio said.

Gervacio said that even with the donation of the right-of-way land, the cost of the originally proposed Porac interchange would still be R260 million. These include the construction of the ramps, power supply lines, toll plaza, and toll-collection system.

"We want to listen to everybody who has a stake in SCTEx, but we need to move on with the President’s directive to build the R280-million Porac-Angeles City interchange, so that we can open the expressway as scheduled," Gervacio said.

"The bottom line is that more expenses mean higher toll fees charged against the public," he said.

Earlier, a broad-based coalition has expressed support for the President’s stand on building the interchange in Porac-Angeles City.

The coalition includes the Pampanga sangguniang panlalawigan, Angeles sangguniang panglungsod, and presidents of business groups and NGOs.

In a resolution they sent to the President, they stated that among the three proposals, the Porac-Angeles City interchange is expected to benefit more people due to its accessibility to vital routes. It will also cover the huge traffic volume coming from and going to Clark.

Earlier, a call was aired to "end all debates" about where to locate the interchange because it is only upsetting the SCTEx timetable.

"Everyday of delay is a wasted opportunity to get the wheels of development in the region going," said CPI Organizational Studies and Advocacy (COSA) chief advocacy director, lawyer Rafael dela Torre.

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A lucrative enterprise

The Philippine Star - Opinion

Where can you find 16 luxury vehicles, including Mercedes-Benz and BMW sedans, with a total value of only P1 million? Only at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which appears to be turning into a processing zone for smuggled vehicles. A private company had complained about the release from the free port of 16 luxury vehicles that had been impounded for the non-payment of taxes and duties. Apart from the Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars, the 16 include Cadillac Escalade pick-ups, a Corvette convertible and several sport utility vehicles. The brand-new vehicles were classified as used ones with a total assessed value of only P1 million, for which P2.558 million was paid in duties and taxes including value-added tax for their release.

Responding to the complaint, the Department of Finance filed charges against six officials of the Bureau of Customs: Josephine Dullas, acting chief of the certificate of payment unit; examiners Orlando Ronquillo, Rustico Mallari and Enrico Cruz; and appraisers Ebrahim Pangakatan and Rodolfo Casis. Five more Customs personnel are under investigation in connection with the case.

The only good news here is that suspects were identified and now face formal charges. But how many other Customs personnel get away with similar activities every working day? Such activities have thrived despite the computerization of certain Customs procedures and the adoption of additional measures to plug opportunities for corruption.

Can the Bureau of Customs ever clean up its act? Only if there is political will to crack down on the biggest smugglers, who flourish because they enjoy the protection of those in power. Unless Customs personnel see leadership by example in the campaign against corruption, there is little incentive to end a lucrative enterprise. Even the recent destruction of luxury vehicles impounded in Subic became mired in controversy amid reports that the vehicles were in fact old. The engines of several of the vehicles had reportedly been cannibalized.

Legitimate businessmen have long complained about the destructive economic consequences of unfair competition posed by smugglers, but the activity is simply too profitable for all those involved to give up. The finance department can sustain its campaign to rid the Bureau of Customs of the corrupt only if there is full support from the top.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Taiwanese lock maker invests US$5m in Subic

Asia Pulse - Taiwanese firm Tong Lung Philippines Metal Industry Co., Inc., designer and maker of doorknob sets and lock sets, has signed a new lease agreement with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for the expansion of its manufacturing operations in Manila.

Tong Lung Philippines director Tony Ho said the company will invest US$5 million to establish a new factory near its first production facility at the Subic Bay Industrial Park to meet the growing demand for high-end locks worldwide.

Ho said that Tong Lung's expansion would also entail the hiring of 600 new employees on top of some 400 workers it has hired since 1998.

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GMA’s House allies agree to unseat JDV

Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz presented himself as a possible candidate for Speaker during the Palace meeting. “He will be the one who will present a motion to declare all House seats vacant”

A group of congressmen-allies of President Arroyo vowed to unseat Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. in the wake of the damaging Senate testimony of his son Joey III against First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Mrs. Arroyo’s loyalists hatched the plan late Wednesday night at a meeting with the President in Malacañang. They trooped to the Palace after the day’s session upon the President’s invitation. De Venecia was not at the meeting.

Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis, who attended the Palace meeting, told a news forum in Quezon City yesterday that there was no clear consensus yet on how to carry out the plan.

But he said he and several other administration allies were determined to make the first move next week.

He said Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz presented himself as a possible candidate for Speaker during the Palace meeting. “He will be the one who will present a motion to declare all House seats vacant,” Solis said.

He added that he and his colleagues felt that what the younger De Venecia did had the blessing of the Speaker.

Solis, a member of the pro-administration Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), has an ax to grind against the Speaker who booted him out as defense committee chairman in July and replaced him with Rep. Arthur Celeste, a provincemate of the Speaker.

By Jess Diaz and Delon Porcalla - PhilStar

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Zambales folk complain of uncollected trash

STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES—This town stinks, literally.

The local government has not collected garbage for more than a month, and residents are afraid the uncollected garbage, which has piled up on the streets, could cause diseases.

The Market Vendors Association appealed to Mayor Luisito Marty to act on their complaint, saying that they had been wearing masks since Aug. 15 due to the foul smell of the garbage that littered the public market, schools and villages.

Vice Mayor Sebastian Tongson asked Gov. Amor Deloso in a letter on Saturday to intervene since the residents were angry over the refusal of Marty to solve the garbage problem.

Tongson, a physician, said the stinking garbage at the public market had exposed vendors and consumers to respiratory diseases, especially in this rainy season.

“Our children are forced to wear masks to cover their noses. The lack of sanitation poses health hazards to residents,” he said.

Marty said his town was faced with a worsening garbage problem but he blamed Tongson and the town council for the mess. He said the council reduced the budget intended for waste disposal.

“I fought hard for the passage of the P2-million supplemental budget, but (the council) reduced it,” he said.

Marty said casual employees were laid off and only regular ones were left to collect the garbage due to the budget reduction. Inquirer Central Luzon

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Bayani, Sonny or Dick for prez?

Bayani, Sonny or Dick for prez? Lakas now choosing 2010 bets

Who says it’s too early to prepare for the 2010 presidential elections? Not the leaders of the ruling Lakas party, who are now drawing up a long list of members who can be groomed for the top positions of the land.

Newsbreak learned that Lakas intends to float the names of at least three potential presidential, three vice presidential, and 16 senatorial bets to test how the public will receive them.

So far, the ones on the list are:

For President - Bayani Fernando, chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and former mayor of Marikina City; Feliciano Belmonte, mayor of Quezon City and former Speaker of the House of Representatives; Richard Gordon, senator and former chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

For Vice President – Ramon “Bong" Revilla Jr., senator and former governor of Cavite; Tomas Osmeña, mayor of Cebu City and former chair of the League of Cities of the Philippines; Vilma Santos, governor of Batangas and former mayor of Lipa City.

For Senator -
- (current and former senators) Lito Lapid, Joey Lina, Ralph Recto;

- (Cabinet members) Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Agrarian Reform Sec. Nasser Pangandaman, Tourism Sec. Ace Durano, Education Sec. Jesli Lapus, Technical Education Skills Development Authority chair Augusto Syjuco;

- (congressmen) Quezon City’s Arthur Defensor and Mandaluyong’s Neptali Gonzales II;

- (local officials) Surigao del Norte Gov. Ace Barbers and Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, if the latter will turn her back on Kampi;

- (losers in the 2007 senatorial elections) former presidential chief of staff Mike Defensor and former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay;

- (others) Optical Media Board chair Edu Manzano, congressional spouses head Gina de Venecia, and actress Dawn Zulueta, whose husband Anton Lagdameo is a Lakas congressman.

A Lakas official said these people have yet to be informed that they are being considered by the party. But they are perceived to have good chances of catching the voters’ fancy.

Learning from the mistakes of compromising a lot with smaller parties that coalesced with them in past elections, Lakas this time will put its foot down when it comes to choosing the standard-bearers and most of the candidates. They have to come from Lakas.

“We’re the majority [party], we won’t allow other parties to name the candidates for us," the Lakas official said.

6 Customs execs charged in car smuggling

Subic Bay Freeport - brand new luxury cars carry a price tag of less than P100,000. But government investigators are not buying it.

The Department of Finance (DoF) on Thursday filed with the Office of the Ombudsman graft charges against six Bureau of Customs (BoC) personnel in connection with the smuggling of 14 luxury vehicles that were appraised at only about P1 million six months ago.

Charged were Josephine Dullas, acting chief of the certificate of payment unit of the BoC-Subic, customs examiners Orlando Ronquillo, Rustico Mallari and Enrico Cruz, and principal appraisers Ebrahim Pangkatan and Rodolfo Casis.

DoF lawyer Romeo Tomas Jr. said five higher officials of the BoC were still being investigated.

The six BoC employees were accused of conspiring with one another to release the luxury vehicles -- estimated to be worth P37 million -- without proper payment of tax obligations.

The filing of charges came a month after the demolition of 18 smuggled cars at the Clark Freeport Zone on orders of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to the 18-page complaint, 16 high-end luxury cars were smuggled out of the holding area of the Hidemitsu Trading Corp. in Subic without payment of proper taxes and duties.

Fourteen of the cars were found in several showrooms or private residences outside the SBMA after the Task Force Anti-Smuggling- Special Operations Group conducted surveillance operations.

Two of the cars were not shipped out of the free port and were eventually forfeited in favor of the government.

The complaint also showed that three brand new Audi 8Ls were priced at only $2,100 each (or roughly P96,600 each); a Chevrolet Corvette at $1,600 (P73,600) and three BMW 750Li at $1,600 each (P72,500 each).

But the actual “blue book value” of the cars were placed at $72,090 (P3.2 million); $51,535 (P2.34 million) and $78,100 (P3.53 million), respectively.

These, and seven other luxury cars, including Acuras, Infinity SUVs and Nissan Armadas, were allegedly estimated by the respondents to be worth P1 million, showing an undervaluation of almost P37 million, or 90 percent of their actual value, read the complaint.

The accused also allegedly declared the cars “used” or “second-hand vehicles” contrary to their real condition.
By Jocelyn Uy - Inquirer

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PGMA orders BOC to speed up communications tech projects to bolster anti-smuggle drive

PGMA orders BOC to speed up communications tech projects to bolster anti-smuggle drive

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed today the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to speed up the implementation of its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) projects to bolster its anti-smuggling capabilities.

The President issued the directive during the BOC Revenue Command Conference at Malacañang’s Heroes Hall this afternoon.

The Chief Executive said the BOC should explore the possibility of funding its ICT program through the Millennium Challenge Account and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) Account, according to BOC Deputy Commissioner for Management Information System Alexander Arevalo.

“Basically, she asked us to look into the possibility of funding a system that would track the inventory of petroleum, first in Subic,” Arevalo said.

The BOC updated the President on the status of its “E-Customs” and “Action Plan through ICT Projects.”

The action plan includes keeping track of the movement of petroleum products and imported vehicles in the country’s ports, inter-agency clearances, permits and tax credit certificates (TCC), the procurement of container X-rays and “executive dashboards” for examiners, district collectors and the BOC commissioners.

Arevalo told the President of the need for a reliable tracking of actual inventory to successfully curb smuggling of petroleum products into the country.

Arevalo said BOC’s strategy is to “account for the last liter of inventory - as petroleum companies do,” and this can be accomplished by deploying a “petroleum inventory management system as used by oil firms.”

As for vehicle smuggling, the BOC said the problem or the “vulnerability” lies in “underdeclaration, misdeclaration, misclassification, misdescription” and “inter-agency gaps.”

To fill the enforcement gap, the BOC recommended the following strategy: “Track all details on each vehicle import permit, taxes paid, registration that is transparent to all agencies involved such as the BOC, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of International Revenue, and others.”

The BOC plans to “deploy a unified Customized Vehicle Import Processing System for all concerned agencies” starting next year.

The CVIPS will be installed in the ports of Subic, Manila and the Manila International Container Port (MICP) by the first quarter of 2008, and the ports of Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro by the second quarter of 2008.

The BOC also reported to the President about the “vulnerability” of “paper-based” permits and clearances coming from other agencies which are faked, tampered, reused; and difficult to account for.”

To overcome these “vulnerabilities,” the BOC plans to “accept electronic permits only” by deploying an “Electronic Permit & Clearance System under the National Single Window.” (PNA)

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