Senate panel sets Benham Rise inquiry

DEFENSE and Foreign affairs officials were among those invited by the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs that will on Wednesday investigate alleged Chinese activities in Benham Rise. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, said the panel will be objective in its inquiry to prevent the undue “politization” of the groundwork to be laid for the responsible stewardship of the resource-rich Benham Rise. Gatchalian said that the primary purpose of the inquiry is to craft an executive-legislative strategy for the long-term defense and development of Benham Rise including the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA). Some groups have warned that President Rodrigo Duterte can be impeached for allowing China to send its research vessels to Benham Rise. During the first committee hearing on Benham Rise, the Senate panel learned that local experts have no idea what is underneath the 13-million-hectare underwater plateau located several miles off the coast of Aurora province.

March 26, 2017 16:41 UTC

Probe e-passport project, Congress urged

ORGANIZED labor has called for a congressional probe into the government’s P8-billion e-passport project. The Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions (PAFLU), an umbrella organization of labor unions, on Sunday expressed concern on the implications of the project amid allegations of overpricing in the contract for the new digital passport. “Many of the passport applicants are workers who leave their family to work abroad. The group assailed the DFA’s decision to de-commission the BSP, allowing APO-PU to subcontract the project to the United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC). The abolition of the terminal fee is in line with this policy thrust,” the labor leader stressed.

March 26, 2017 16:41 UTC

Pantawid families get rice subsidy

More than four million families in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) got the rice subsidy on top of their regular health and education cash grants. The DSWD said a total of P2.58 billion was disbursed for the month of March to cover the rice subsidy. “Following the guidelines, DSWD has already incorporated the rice subsidy within the regular payout schedule of the [4Ps],” she said. “This means the beneficiaries can expect to regularly receive the rice subsidy along with their health and education grants starting this month,” she added. “The President wants that the poor households are able to eat every day, which is why he initiated the rice subsidy,” Taguiwalo said.

March 26, 2017 16:41 UTC

Palace mum on identity of 92 sacked officials

The Duterte administration has refused to disclose the names of the 92 people fired this month as a result of the government’s anti-corruption drive. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella instead said that firing people is not done in batches and thus, will not affect government operations. These officials came from different agencies of the government, mostly regulatory bodies, where there is an interface between the public and private sectors,” Abella said in a statement. The 92 fired this month alone, according to President Duterte, are officials and personnel of the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Land Transportation Office. Abella said the duties of those sacked can be performed by their assistants.

March 26, 2017 16:41 UTC

‘Ceasefire useless if NPA will not stop atrocities’

THE declaration of ceasefire by communist rebels will be useless if they will continue with their extortion activities and acts of atrocities, Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año said on Sunday. The CPP expects the government to reciprocate its move but Año said it will depend on President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte earlier called the communists “spoiled brats” after he scrapped the government’s peace talks with the rebel group. The CPP lifted the unilateral ceasefire it declared last year because the government did not release some 400 political prisoners detained on various charges. [But] the CPP-NPA’s declaration for unilateral ceasefire is useless if they continue to extort money and burn equipment and properties,” Año said.

March 26, 2017 16:41 UTC

House leaders want more powers for OSG

Under the bill, the OSG will be headed by the solicitor general and composed of at least 50 assistant solicitors general, senior state solicitors, state solicitors 2, state solicitors 1, associate solicitors 3, associate solicitors 2 and associate solicitors 1. The proposed new OSG will have 50 legal divisions, with each division headed by an assistant solicitor general. It will also have the following offices: Financial Management Service, Docket Management Service, Case Management Service, Human Resources Management and Administrative Service, and Budget and Planning Service, each headed by a director appointed by the President. Also, the new OSG will have an Office of Legal Services headed by a chief legal officer appointed by the solicitor general. The solicitor general will also determine the salaries, benefits and qualifications of the chief legal officer.

March 26, 2017 16:41 UTC

Exploiting God for politics, for egotistic ambition

I NEARLY fell out of my seat when I read Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ Lenten message. Political partisans exploiting the name of God, and lusting to be the country’s second Cardinal Sin, who had a glorious crucial role in the EDSA revolt that toppled a dictator? He is Arthur Lascañas, worse than Matobato as he was an officer of the law, a police sergeant. Yet Villegas makes up things to portray Matobato and Lascañas as encountering God after going through their “dark nights of the soul” and repented. Degrades the InfiniteYet Villegas degrades this commemoration of the Infinite to the mud of politics, about how bad this very temporary President is.

March 26, 2017 16:36 UTC

Right or wrong, we want our own house now

But the government must deal with the situation in Pandi on its own, and the sooner, the better. Because the problem is national in breadth and scope, the solution must be arrived at with great skill and timing. First, the legal minds of the Duterte administration must determine if the occupation is illegal and beyond the bounds of civil rules and principles. Or is it a criminal act on the part of the leaders of Kadamay, who are hiding in plain view behind the plight of the poor? However, it must come with certain restrictions, foremost of which would be a seven-year holding provision that keeps the beneficiaries from selling or pawning the house and lot within the holding period.

March 26, 2017 16:30 UTC

Through the fog and the darkness

Previous to that, he got his gay supporters hopping mad when he said he was against “same-sex marriage,” despite his reported support for it during the electoral campaign. In Paris last year, hundreds of thousands marched against “same-sex marriage,” including (of all people) gays and lesbians. Man and Woman: A Defense.”The book points out that the “gay marriage” debate should not be about homosexuality but about marriage. “Same-sex marriage” on the other hand is an attempt to redefine marriage. It could be light finally breaking through the fog and the darkness.

March 26, 2017 16:30 UTC

The terrorists are among us

He had initially denied that terrorists were here in Metro Manila, but he later retracted that statement and made a follow up one to say that yes, terrorists from the Maute group may have established presence here in the city. The Maute terrorist group was also the same group that planted the bomb near the US Embassy last year. According to reports, the Maute group is linked with the Abu Sayyaf band of Isnilon Hapilon, recognized as an emir or leader of the ISIS in Southeast Asia. We have been hearing news for some time that the ISIS is putting up a caliphate in Central Mindanao and the thought that it is already established and sending terrorists throughout other parts of the Philippines is quite horrifying. However, to know that the terrorists are, literally, among us is quite scary indeed.

March 26, 2017 16:22 UTC

Rody dinner invite a trap – Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte’s dinner invitation to Vice President Leni Robredo and her children could be a trap and a tactic to “neutralize” Robredo and evade controversies hounding his nine-month-old administration, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV warned yesterday. Trillanes, a supporter of Duterte’s impeachment, aired the warning in response to the President’s call for political truce and respect for his mandate and that of Robredo’s. Trillanes said he respects Duterte’s overwhelming electoral mandate, but that does not exempt him from being accountable for the crimes he has allegedly committed. Mr. Duterte, you have to answer for your crimes because you are not above the law,” Trillanes said. Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Robredo’s partymate in the LP, said he believes Duterte’s statement that he was not behind efforts to impeach the Vice President.

March 26, 2017 16:22 UTC

NEDA: 2022 infra target hinges on 55 projects

The government of President Rodrigo Duterte targets P8 trillion to P9 trillion of infrastructure spending for the duration of his six-year term to mid-2022. Annually, that would also mean an average of about P1.5 trillion spending on infrastructure. Project costsPernia had said the Duterte administration was eyeing to complete or break ground for at least 55 flagship projects by the end of the President’s term in 2022. Forty of the large and small-scale projects form part of the six-year development program under the Philippine-Chinese economic cooperation agreement. 3, Agus 3 Hydroelectric Plant, Rehabilitation and Upgrading of all Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric plant units, Sustainable Bicol River Development Program, and Formulation of a Master Plan on Tunnel Projects in the Philippines.

March 26, 2017 16:18 UTC

End of old globalization, rise of new globalizers

Altogether, he analyzes some 50 major world economies—particularly major advanced economies (G7), large emerging economies (BRICs) and a dozen strategic small- to medium-size nations, across all world regions. At the same time, world trade has seen the rise of protectionism, which the Trump administration plans to push hard in the coming months. Rather, it means that globalization by major advanced economies, which thrived in the late 20th century, is lingering as their economies remain mired in secular stagnation. Conversely, it means that, in the early 21st century, globalization will be driven by large emerging economies. That is also why new globalization will be driven by China and other large emerging economies.

March 26, 2017 16:18 UTC

Govt debt payments total P536.65B in 2016

Debt payments totaled P536.65 billion last year, up 0.47 percent from P534.14 billion in 2015. Interest payments, which make up of the bulk or 56.71 percent of the total debt service, rose by 1.6 percent to P304.45 billion from P309.36 billion. Domestic interest payments eased by 4.7 percent to P205.42 billion, while foreign debt service rose by 5.6 percent to P99.02 billion. Land Bank of the Philippines market economist Guian Angelo Dumalagan said the value of interest payments on foreign debt likely increased because of the peso’s depreciation. Domestic debt amortization fell to P112.44 billion from P154.72 billion, while foreign debt amortization rose by 70 percent to P119.75 billion from P70.04 billion.

March 26, 2017 16:18 UTC

Murder in paradise

Principal suspects Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga and Romarico Benigi-an, not hiding their faces, were identified by several witnesses. Gonzaga is the son-in-law of 52-year-old widow Conrada Otero-Blomqvist who had hired Green to handle her cases against Gonzaga. Blomqvist, her daughter and Gonzaga lived in Sweden until Blomqvist bought a 38-room resort in Brgy. Expressen, taking interest in the case because both Blomqvist and Gonzaga are citizens of Sweden, describes Panglao as a “paradise island”. Six weeks have lapsed since the brutal murder of Mia Green and no warrants of arrest have been issued.

March 26, 2017 16:18 UTC

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