Archive for February, 2009

Satur seeks to amend law to expand legal services for OFW protection

February 21, 2009

QUEZON CITY — House Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) wants to amend Republic Act No. 8042 otherwise known as the Migrants Act of 1995 that is the government benchmark for the protection of our overseas Filipino workers.

“Our OFWs keep our national economy afloat. Filipino migrant workers and immigrants have consistently sent remittances to the homeland that reached US$14.45 billion in 2007, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) forecasting yearend remittances to hit more than US$16 billion for 2008. I find it only fair that government reciprocate these contributions in many ways such as immediately expanding the legal assistance it extends to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, in distressful situations abroad,” Ocampo said.

The militant solon filed House Bill 5657 (An Act Expanding Government Legal Services to Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in Distress, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”) to expand the scope and upgrade the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) program to provide full legal assistance to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress.

“Republic Act 8042 was enacted to protect and promote the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress.  But more than a decade after its passage into law, R.A. 8042 urgently needs major improvements if it even were to uplift the 10 million Filipinos working and/or residing overseas,” Ocampo said.

House Bill 5657 also aims to establish a Legal Attaché Office in each country in the Middle East region under the direct supervision of the DFA. The office will be in charge of providing full and appropriate legal assistance to migrant workers and migrants in distress in the respective areas of responsibility of the post.

“The current law is riddled with loopholes that need to be plugged. Our bill aims to streamline and expand legal services to cover all documented and undocumented OFWs in distress facing any type of case on-site and in the pursuit of civil, administrative, criminal, labor and welfare cases against foreign and local recruitment principals and responsible government officials among others,” Ocampo said.

The OFW group Migrante International reports that more than 5,000 overseas Filipinos are languishing in jails worldwide while the DFA cites the particularly distressing situation of Filipinos incarcerated in the Middle East owing to their lack of access to Shariah lawyers among many other specific legal concerns. # Vincent Michael L. Borneo



Scientists advise against BNPP

February 21, 2009

QUEZON CITY — Warning of a P20 billion nuclear tax and more loans, progressive scientists group AGHAM or the Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan called on Congress to develop other energy sources instead of the Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP).

“The projected shortage in 2012 can be addressed by building geothermal, hydro power, natural gas, wind, and solar power plants even without the operation of the nuclear plant in Bataan if only government builds the necessary indicative capacity additions and develop and upgrade exisiting power plants,” Dr. Giovanni Tapang, national chairperson of AGHAM, told the House Committee on Appropriations today.

Quoting figures from the various updates of the Philippine Energy Plan from the DOE on their website, the physicist pointed out that instead of looking at nuclear power to supply the projected energy needs, government only has to realize that most of the energy resources they auctioned could have provided the Philippines cheap and renewable energy.

“The Philippines has many available energy resources from hydrowater, geothermal, natural gas, wind and solar sources but these have been all put to sale by the government to private independent power producers (IPPs)”, Dr. Tapang said.

He further noted that the proposed bill would pass on the cost to ordinary consumers as a de facto nuclear tax of P 0.10 per kilowatt hour of the total electric power generated in the country. According to figures from the DOE website, the total electric power sales in 2007 is 48,009 GigaWatt hours (1,000,000,000 or billion watt-hour) or 48,009 million kilowatt hours. AGHAM computed that this translates to a nuclear tax of around 4 billion pesos per year or US$100 M per year to be imposed on electric consumers.  For five years the total would be 20 billion pesos.

“That is an extra 10 centavos per kwh more on your bill. If one consumes 300 kwh per month, you would have to pay an additional of 30 pesos (no VAT yet) per month for that nuclear tax or a total of 1800 pesos for five years.”, said Dr. Tapang The remaining 500 Million USD balance from the projected one billion dollar cost is to be obtained by entering into international or domestic loan agreements.

“Despite this cap on a billion dollars for the combined surcharge and loan, delays and interest repayments can drive this higher and become a new burden for the Filipino people”, Tapang added.

“The projected peak demand for 2012 should be recomputed to include the effects of the global economic crisis and recession. There should be a second look at these growth projections. Furthermore, having a stable or even a surplus of electricity capacity does not necessarily translate to lower energy costs. In recent years when we had an energy oversupply, power rates have still gone up due to one sided contracts and the pass on provisions of EPIRA”, pointed out the AGHAM chairperson.

“Passing this bill would make the operation of the BNPP a fait accompli despite the absence of studies on the actual safety of the plant after 20 years of non-operation, on its site location, its long term economic viability with regard to the risks associated with the plant,” Tapang concluded.

AGHAM is part of the Network Opposed to BNPP Revival (NO 2 BNPP Revival) – a broad alliance of scientists, environmentalists, experts and multi-sectoral formations opposed to the revival of the BNPP as it is not the answer to climate change nor will it address the energy crisis. # Vincent Michael L. Borneo


Manila waits for US move on Cpl Smith DFA: Americans not ready to discuss issue

February 14, 2009

By Tarra Quismundo, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:11:00 02/14/2009

Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice, Subic rape case, Diplomacy

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine official on Friday said any new negotiations on custody of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith would have to wait until the Americans were ready to talk, and indicated Manila was powerless to compel Washington to sit down immediately.

“Right now, the department is very serious in coordinating with the US embassy. But they had to approach first their experts to get their legal opinion,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Bayani Mangibin said in a phone interview.

Mangibin said: “We don’t have a policy to wait for them … What can we do if they are not ready?”

Earlier, US diplomats made it clear they were firm in their position to keep custody of the American Marine convicted of raping the Filipino woman “Nicole” until the courts had ruled with finality on Smith’s appeal.

Smith has been confined in the US Embassy compound, according to US and Philippine officials, since December 2006 after he was sentenced by a Makati court up to 40 years in jail for raping Nicole during a one-night encounter at Subic Bay Freeport. He has elevated his case to the Court of Appeals.

A new furor erupted over the custody issue after the Supreme Court last week ruled that the US-Philippine executive agreement that allowed the embassy to keep Smith ran counter to the two countries’ Visiting Forces Agreement. The court ordered the DFA to immediately negotiate with the US the transfer of Smith to a Philippine-controlled facility.

Main concern

Mangibin said the DFA had started the “process of coordination” with the embassy on the issue of custody, based on the Supreme Court ruling. He said the DFA was also consulting the Departments of Justice and Interior and Local Government, and the Solicitor General.

“Our main concern is to look for appropriate arrangements for Daniel Smith,” he said.

The embassy has said it is studying the court decision and referred it to government legal experts in Washington.

Mangibin said formal negotiations could begin after the embassy had received the legal opinion from Washington and that in the meantime, Smith would stay at the embassy compound.

3 scenarios

Interior Undersecretary Marius Corpus said yesterday that after his last check on Smith on Feb. 5—or several days before the high court’s ruling came out—he met with an embassy political officer and discussed three possibilities in anticipation of a court decision.

In that meeting, Corpus saw the embassy’s steadfast position to continue holding on to Smith until the appeals process had been completed. After his December 2006 conviction, Smith was briefly held at a Makati jail before the embassy took custody of him—in the middle of the night—based on the controversial executive agreement.

“We talked about the possible consequences of the Supreme Court decision,” Corpus said. The discussion was not prompted by any advance information on the court’s eventual ruling, Corpus said when asked if there was any leak.

“One, that the Supreme Court would declare the VFA unconstitutional. Two, I said it’s highly probable that the court would affirm the VFA’s constitutionality, including the agreement [to hold Smith at the embassy], and that it would order some provisions of the VFA revised,” Corpus said by phone.

“Third, that everything will be upheld, both the VFA and the transfer (of Smith to the embassy).”

Lobby for Smith

Corpus said when the issue of custodial arrangement was brought up, the US side said: “We’ve already agreed on that. We’d like to continue what was agreed upon.”

Corpus said he heard that a congressman from Smith’s home state of Missouri was “lobbying in the State Department for it to take care of Smith.”

“That’s the reason why they defend Smith so much,” Corpus said, adding however that he had no categorical information about the supposed lobby.

Also discussed at the meeting was Smith’s condition while in detention, particularly his having gained a lot of weight, according to Corpus, who said he had been visiting Smith almost monthly.

“They (the embassy officials) said, ‘We should give him work, with your permission,’ so that he will not deteriorate physically,” Corpus said.

Corpus said he agreed, noting that similar activities were allowed local prisoners. He said he just asked that any chores given to Smith should not compromise the terms of his confinement.

‘He is bored’

“You can see the emotional stress in him,” Corpus said. “Every time I talk to him, I can see that he is emotionally suffering. He is very bored. The condition is even better in detention facilities outside, where [detainees] have some company.”

Corpus assured the Nicole camp that Smith remained inside the embassy compound, contrary to claims by some of the rape victim’s supporters that he had been spirited out of the embassy.

“Even if I visit him every day, they will not believe me,” Corpus said.

Send him to Munti

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo has joined growing calls for Smith’s immediate transfer to a local prison.

“We demand that the Philippine government immediately effect the transfer of Smith to the New Bilibid Prison,” Ocampo said in a press statement. “We cannot understand why a clear-cut exercise of sovereignty, in this case custody over a convicted foreign felon, should be subject to negotiations.”

Ocampo added: “What the Philippine government should do is simply impose its own laws over a foreigner who violated those laws. It should not negotiate but order the US Embassy to turn over Smith to the proper local authority.”

Indefinite delay

The leftist lawmaker said the high court’s order for the DFA to arrange a detention place acceptable to Washington was just a ruse to “indefinitely delay” Smith’s transfer. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Govt’s stimulus package mere gimmick–IBON

February 14, 2009

By Rommel C. Lontayao, Reporter

The Palace said the allocation for the economic stimulus package is not an old measure contrary to the statements of the independent think tank Ibon Foundation.

Ibon on Friday said in a statement that the government’s P330-billion stimulus package is a “mere spin” of “existing allocations . . . to create the impression that something is being done to address the crisis.”

“These ‘stimulus’ funds are already there even before the recent descent into crisis . . . There is very little to indicate that . . . government is pouring any substantially new efforts to deal with the economic downturn,” said IBON research head Sonny Africa.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez belied the statement, saying the current stimulus package is a genuine allocation intended to finance infrastructure projects and create jobs.

Golez said that besides providing assistance to the marginalized sector, the package is also expected to create three million jobs this year on top of the regular job-generation programs of various government agencies.

The reported stimulus plan, which opposition Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño calls a “simulation package,” includes the P160-billion increase in the 2009 national budget, the P100-billion off-budget infrastructure fund, the P40-billion corporate and individual tax breaks, and alternative livelihood programs, among others.

Africa said that contrary to what government officials claim, the P1.4-trillion budget for 2009 is not a pump-priming budget, and actually is the smallest share of government spending to the GDP (gross domestic product) since 1986.

“The tepidness of the supposed pump-priming is also apparent if the effects of inflation are taken into consideration. In real terms, total non-debt spending in 2009 is only an 8.6-percent increase from the year before,” he explained.

He further said that the tax relief, which refers to foregone revenues from reducing the corporate income tax to 30 percent from 35 percent, is actually already part of the reformed value-added tax law of 2005 and exemptions from withholding tax for those earning P200,000 or less annually.

The research group head also pointed out that the P100-billion infrastructure stimulus package required the Government Service and Insurance System, Development Bank of the Philippines and LandBank to commit P50 billion with the private sector shouldering the other P50 billion.

“All these imply that the administration is not really taking additional measures in the face of the crisis, and leaves the majority of poor Filipinos on their own,” Africa said.

“If it wants the public to believe that it is taking serious steps to address the crisis, it should at the very least preserve current jobs in the public and private sectors, restore real per capita social services spending to at least 1997 levels, free public resources by stopping debt payments, and remove the value-added tax on petroleum products, among others,” he opined.

The economic resiliency plan was announced by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) early this year.

It is intended to upgrade infrastructure and capital stock and expand social protection. NEDA said the plan aims to save and create jobs, protect the poorest of the poor, returning overseas Filipino workers and workers in export industries, ensure low and stable prices to support consumer spending, and enhance competitiveness in preparation for the rebound of the global market.

Golez said the allocation of P330 billion for the economic stimulus package is intended to blunt the impact of the global economic meltdown on the poor and out-of-school youth.
–With Angelo S. Samonte(ManilaTimes)

What the Witnesses Said(Excerpts)

February 14, 2009

Note from the PCIJ: What follows are excerpts from the “Record of Interviews “ with some of the witnesses who met with the investigators of the World Bank’s anti-corruption unit, Department of Institutional Integrity (INT). on the alleged fraud and collusion in the National Road Improvement and Management Program-1 (NRIMP-1) projects. The interviews were separately conducted between April 2003 and November 2006 in the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.

Date of Interview            – 28 April, 2003

Interviewee/s                 –  William Paterson, lead highway engineer – World Bank East Asia and Pacific region; task team leader for the Philippine National Road Improvement Project Phase 1(NRIMP1)

–  Denis Robitaille , regional procurement adviser

Interviewers                  –  Mike Richards and Athene Vila-Boteler

Paterson told INT about two incidents in the NRIMP1 that caused him to believe there was collusive bidding in the project:  He had heard from ‘informal sources’ that government officials usually took 3% of the contract value in kickbacks, but learned in the discussions on five contracts for bidding, the demands had increased to 10%.

He said the DPWH secretary who assumed power in January 2001 had a ‘much better reputation for honesty’ than his predecessor but the replacement in January 2003 was “for the worse.”

The large variation in unit prices alerted him to the possibility of collusion in the bidding. He noted overpricing of materials like asphalt, which was around 50% higher than it should be. The cost of concrete that should be around P700 to P800 per cubic meter was charged P1,100 to P1,400 per cubic meter and the cost of clearing and grubbing was charged P290,000 per hectare when it should only be at P40,000 per hectare.

Paterson raises the possibility that the government, through the DPWH, is actively involved in the collusive arrangements, noting that the bill of quantity (BOQ) is not being reviewed. The excessive pricing of materials, he noted, still conform with the Owners Estimate that is held by the Bureau of Construction.

Paterson found it odd that two local senators have gone to the press to announce the result of the bid evaluation even before the results were published. One of the bidders was rejected because it submitted bogus documents.

According to Paterson, he has “sources” who told him that DPWH takes 10% while senators intend to get 10 – 15% cut of the contract price.

The projects under suspicion of collusion are all in Mindanao. Paterson noted that the DPWH secretary, his deputy, and the project manager that time were all from Mindanao.

Paterson described his sources to INT, including their proximity to the events at issue, but did not identify them by name.

Date of Interview           – 17 March, 2005

Interviewee/s                – William O. Paterson, task team leader

Interviewer/s                 – Merly Khouw, Athene Vila-Boteler, Christian Kammer, Annie Yau and                                                                Thilda Outhuok

It was suggested that there be an independent analysis by an engineer to benchmark the prices and check against excessive price distortions. Paterson was asked if the Philippine President’s personal interest in the project was related to the alleged involvement of her husband as alluded to in the complaint. He said his impression was that it was not as the timing of the government’s complaint was circumstantial to the CG meeting in Mindanao, the location for one of the road packages in question.

EC de Luna, considered as a fairly young contractor with good connections at DPWH, did not qualify on its own merit so it had to tie up with China Road for the 2nd bidding for the 1.6 package.

Date of Interview           – 3 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – Shingo Nakamura, vice president, Yoshida Construction Co.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus / David Hawkes / Michael Kramer

Nakamura filed a complaint against Eduardo C.  de Luna and Augusto Miranda, alleging that the two defrauded Yoshida by falsely representing E.C. De Luna as having been already awarded the contract when in fact it had not. Nakamura said he paid de Luna and Miranda P2 million (about $40,000) in exchange for a P592-million subcontract on a World Bank-financed project (NRIMP-1, CW-RU 1.6) in 2003.

The business environment in the Philippines, he said, is “very dirty,” “as Japan had been 20 to 30 years ago.” All contract awards require “undertables” or corrupt payments. A “syndicate” organized by  de Luna with Miranda, local politicians, and other bidders selects the winning bidder or the “champion.” The champion then pays the losing bidders one to three percent of the contract price.

Contract prices are inflated 25 to 35 percent to cover the cost of bribes that must be paid to various parties, including First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, certain politicians, DPWH officials and others. As a result, contractors must cut back on quality and safety in the construction of roads.

Nakamura first met Eduardo De Luna and Tito Miranda in 2002 through Yoshida’s agent, “Trix”Lim. Yoshida signed a P592-million subcontract with De Luna in Feb. 2003, and paid the $40,000 in cash in local currency in April 2003 to Miranda. Miranda was always asking for contributions to the DPWH Secretary and Mike Arroyo.

Yoshida paid a total of about P10 million to a variety of people: P100,000 for Sen. Barbers, P200,000 during Christmas, etc.

E.C. de Luna was Mike Arroyo’s man. He travelled with Mr. Arroyo, the President, and Tito Miranda to Japan. Luna organized a syndicate to control the award of contracts. Miranda is involved as an intermediary for Sen. Barbers.

All the companies that participated in the preliminary qualification process had to be a part of the syndicate, especially the Chinese and Korean. Members of the syndicate – bidders, politicians, DPWH officials, Lim. De Luna, and Miranda – would congregate at the Diamond Hotel every three days to discuss the contract awards.

Contract prices were inflated 25- to 35- percent over the actual costs to generate funds for necessary payments which included the following:

–         1 percent to the Malacanang Presidential Palace (Nakamura said this meant the “Cabinet”)

–         5 percent to Senators (including Sen. Barbers and Sen Rebeira (Revilla?) and his son) 5 percent to Mike Arroyo

–         1 percent to DPWH personnel

–         1 percent to DPWH director

–         3 percent to other local officials, mayors, etc.

·        Contractors also had to make payments of P100 to P300 to government pay clerks. Inspectors were also paid relatively small amounts. Some of the bribe funds came from the 15-percent mobilization payment to contractors at the outset of the contract.

Nakamura introduced Mr. Suzuka of Suzuka Construction Co. to the Philippines after Suzuka heard that it was easy to get contracts because of the syndicate arrangement. Mr. Washo of EIWA Construction was also introduced.

Date of Interview            – 5 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – Tomatu Suzuka -president, Suzuka Construction Co. Ltd.

–         Masaki Suzuka – manager

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus, David Hawkes and Michael Kramer

Suzuka’s Philippine office ceased to have business involvement in the Philippines after it had “various issues” three years before the interview. Tomatu Suzuka cited the foreign exchange issues and damage to reputation among the issues his firm withdrew from the Philippines in November 2002.

He said he met with Senator Barbers and Mike Arroyo and “first discussed bribes” but had a “rough approach.” He said he “learned that money was important to do business in the Philippines, which was a “fundamental difference in the way of thinking.”

A certain Mr. Lim, Suzuka’s agent, said Suzuka would have to pay to get a contract, and that dollars would settle problems with the World Bank. He mentioned 2 – 3% to obtain credit or financial support.

Suzuka said he met Lim four years ago (2001) at Diamond hotel. There were policemen and government officials present when they discussed payments. A certain Tito Miranda was also with Lim’s group. Suzuka said he met Sen. Barbers separately. He said he thought Tito was a secretary of Barbers. Tito asked Suzuka to pay for Barbers’ trip to Japan, but that he refused. He said local contacts introduced him to Barbers.

He identified one Trix Lim as the person he was dealing with in the Philippines.

Suzuka even recalled a meeting with Barbers on an island in the Philippines while President Arroyo was delivering a speech and welcomed the Japanese companies. He said he had no contact with President Arroyo.

Suzuka said it was made clear to him that there would be no business in the Philippines without paying money. Money would have to be paid as high up as the president,  senior government officials and politicians in order to do any further business in the country. To win a contract, it would also be necessary to pay the head of the bureau (PMO?) and politicians several million yen.

Suzuka said he knew that the President’s husband handles her business, as what he had heard from local companies and the consultant who prepared the documents for the bidding. However, he said he had no specific information or any direct evidence of any money being paid to somebody specifically.

When shown the bid documents for the contract, Suzuka said his signatures were forged.

Date of Interview            – 8 August, 2008

Interviewee                   – Kyung Hwan Ko – trade service department, Shinhan Bank

Interviewers                  – Athene Vila-Boteles and David Hawkes (in Seoul, Korea)

Ko told the INT that the bid guarantees submitted by Dongsung Construction Co. Ltd. were forged. The document was signed by one Byung Jin Kim, a regular officer of the bank, not a general manager. In addition, Ko said a signature by Shinhan staff on a document would not be in Korean characters, but in English. The letter head of the document was also not correct and that the bank guarantees it issues do not have the guaranteed sum printed on the side. He said the bank does not have a business relationship with Dongsung, which had been bankrupt.

Date of Interview            – 8 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – Young Min Noh – general manager, marketing division -Shingsung Engineering and Construction Co.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Michael Kramer

Noh said he was not familiar with details of the company’s operations in the Philippines, having worked in the last six years in the Middle East. His company received two World Bank contracts in the Philippines.

Date of Interview            – 9 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – Choong-Jo Oh, general manager- overseas civil project team, Daewoo E&C

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Michael Kramer (at Daewoo head office in Seoul)

Oh said he has heard about problems in the Philippines such as bid rigging but has no personal knowledge about it. He said infrastructure projects are simple and the Chinese companies are very aggressive. Korean companies cannot compete in open tender because of their wage rates and longer depreciation schedule – Korean companies have 10 years compared to Chinese firms’ four years.

Date of Interview            – 9 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – M. G. Kwon – overseas business department/ senior vice president,                                                              Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd.

– Hyun Woo Ko, overseas business team manager

–  B.D. Park, senior vice president -international finance

Interviewers                  –  Tim Carrodus and Michael Kramer (in Seoul, Korea)

Kwon and Ko both said they have never heard of Suzuka Construction. The Philippine road construction market is difficult for Korean companies. The Chinese companies are ‘quite aggressive’ while the local companies have political connections.

Date of Interview            – 15 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – Min Young Lee – general manager, Dongsung Construction Co. Ltd, Manila

– Angelico “Bong” Teraga – office engineer/project coordinator

Interviewers                  – David Hawkes and Athene Vila-Boteler

Dongsung Construction was one of the losing bidders in the second round of bidding for contracts 1.4B and 1.6 of NRIMP-1

INT found Dongsung’s bid security was forged. Teraga and Lee acknowledged having prepared the bid documents for both contracts, but said the Shinhan Bank bid securities came from the head office in Korea.

Date of Interview            – 17 August, 2005

Interviewee                   –  Oscar Mercado, vice president – marketing and engineering, EEI Corp.

– Ferdy M. del Prado, group manager – marketing and proposal

Interviewers                  – W. Michael Kramer and David Hawkes

EEI does not usually take part in DPWH controlled projects because of the bad reputation of DPWH and because of the perceived system of collusion governing awards. EEI took over from Philrock, Inc.’s contracts with DPWH. It participated in the 1.4B and 1.6 contracts in joint venture with Hanjin.

Date of Interview            – 18 August, 2005

Interviewee                   –  Manuel M. Bonoan, undersecretary – DPWH

–  (Raul) Asis, assistant secretary

Interviewers                  –  Tim Carrodus and Athene Vila-Boteler (at 17th floor, Shangri-la Hotel, Manila)

Undersecretary Bonoan acknowledged the existence of a major problem in the bidding for WB-funded road projects. He said, “We know they are doing it. We know that they are talking to each other, we can see the pattern, but we don’t know how to document it.”

He said collusion has been talked about a lot, but DPWH have problems documenting it. The interference of politicians, he said, is “where the problem  begins.” He told the INT, “We know all these things; everybody demands money from the contracts so the contractors have to recoup by increasing prices.”

Date of Interview            – 18 August, 2005

Interviewee                   – Engr. Lambert Lee, president, Cavite Ideal

Interviewers                  – W. Michael Kramer and David Hawkes

Gist                              – Lee denied the existence of a syndicate and the rigging of bids. Later in the afternoon, he called Athena Vila-Boteler of the INT to request for a second meeting and said the idea of the existence of a syndicate insulted him deeply.

Date of Interview            – 19 August 2005

Interviewee                   – Fu Yu Cheng, president- China State (Phils) Construction and Engineering Co.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Michael Kramer

Fu, who had spent eight years in the Philippines, told INT that it was difficult to do business in the country, particularly in public projects. He noted that China State had withdrawn from Packages 1.4B and 1.6, but refused to explain why. He said no one gave him a price to bid as a losing bidder; neither was China State paid to lose a bid.

Date of Interview            – 1 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – S.J. Kim, general manager-civil department

Heunghwa Industry Co. Ltd.

Interviewers                  –  Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Seoul, Korea)

Heunghwa submitted bids for the 1.4B and 1.6 contract packages, but was found ineligible to bid. The INT found that unusual, given the size of the company and its capacity to bid for large-value contracts.  The DPWH cited the company’s lack of experience in construction projects.

Date of Interview            – 1 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Kuk Jung-Soo -deputy general manager, Keangham Enterprises Ltd.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Seoul)

After INT explained its findings of collusion in biddings, Kuk said that the business environment in the Philippines is difficult and that Keangham intend to withdraw from the country. The company is unprofitable, he said.

One of the biggest problems, according to Kuk, is that the length of the roads put up for         bidding is too short to be commercially feasible for the company. The scope of the road construction       could be initially 100 kilometers and the value of the contract could be up to $60 million, but when    the company buys bidding documents, the length of the proposed road becomes just 20 kilometers.

The company most likely withdrew from the bidding not because of collusion, but because of lack of profitability. Kuk, however, did not rule out that the firm could have withdrawn       because of corruption.

Date of Interview            – 2 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Young-Myung Noh – general manager, marketing division – Shinsung Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Seoul, Korea)

Noh mentioned that the company’s former branch manager in the Philippines had left the Philippines under difficult circumstances but he refused to provide the manager’s contact information. He said he was not aware of the details of his company’s bids in the Philippines, but had been told of collusion where companies were told to put in a bid even if they were going to lose. He said his company reluctantly participates in such tenders because it did not want to be blacklisted informally from future bidding by the DPWH.

INT wanted to find out why Shinsung withdrew from the second round of bidding for package 1.4B and discuss the contract it won for the rehabilitation of the Buug-Kabasalan section of the Zamboanga-Pagadian road. The company had been implicated in collusion on both projects.

Date of Interview            – 2 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – O.Y. Kwon – general manager, overseas civil team-Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd.

– Hun-Tak Kim- general manager , overseas civil engineering department

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (at the company’s office in Seoul)

Kwon and Lim told the INT that Daelim never took part in a collusive scheme and that the company was involved only in plant building and operations projects in the Philippines. They said there are many powerful people around the President of the Philippines who determine the outcome of bidding on road contracts. Because of that, Daelim does not participate in road tenders. Daelim withdrew from the first round of bidding for the 1.4B project because they could not accept a proposal from a powerful man. However, he did not know the name of that person whose supposed agent contacted the company’s representative at his hotel in Manila and offered his services to win a package, in exchange for an unsolicited bribe of an unreasonable amount. Kim said he did not know the powerful people behind the road projects, but assumed they could be retired generals.

Date of Interview            – 2 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Pan-Seop Lim -team manager, Daewoo E&C

–  Eun-Yong Chang – assistant manager, overseas sales and marketing team

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (at Daewoo’s head office in Seoul)

Lim said he had little knowledge of the details of the allegations of collusion in the bidding of the Philippine road projects. He expressed surprise about bidding pre-arrangement and high level political interference in the WB-financed project.  INT said Daewoo could be implicated and that the meeting was an opportunity for them to cooperate by responding to its findings of collusion. Lim said he was not involved in the bidding preparation and that he was not the right person to be asked why the company did not participate on a contract.  Lim said the company’s involvement in the alleged collusion was insulting and that he was not prepared to hear that.

Date of Interview            – 3 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Hyun-Woo Ko – manager, Hanjin Heavy Industries

– Nack-Young – deputy manager, overseas business marketing team

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Seoul, Korea)

Hanjin placed bids for two packages, one in joint venture with EEI. Both packages were re-bid three times, and the analysis of the bids had shown collusion in the process, with senior level government officials allegedly involved in pre-arranged procurement.

Ko said the competition was very strong in the Philippines and that he was not aware of any cartel operating in the country.

Date of Interview – 3 November, 2006

Interviewee         – Jeong-Sam Kim – team manager, overseas operation team
– Sammi Construction Co., Ltd

– Jae-Yong Heo – department manager, civil engineering team

Interviewers         – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Busan, Korea)

INT indicated that Sammi could be implicated in collusion in the third round of bidding for contract packages under NRIMP 1 project in the Philippines.  Sammi bid for 1.6A and 1.6B contract packages, but was unsuccessful.

Kim told the INT that he heard from the Manila branch office that corruption was a very serious issue in the country, but he said the company never paid a bribe. The company did not win a single contract although it pre-qualified for four packages under the NRMP 1. He said Chinese companies were acting aggressively in the Philippines, driving the costs extremely low and squeezing out their competitors. For this reason, only a few Korean companies compete with the Chinese on the same tender.

While saying that the company prepared its bid independently of other bidders, Kim admitted to INT that his company had to participate in a collusive scheme out of a concern of being blacklisted and denied future work from DPWH.

Date of Interview            – 7 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Yu-Tae Kim – director/authorized representative, Manila branch office-Sammi Construction Co., Ltd

Interviewers                  – Terry Matthews, Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Kim told the INT that he heard from third parties about “unordinary” bidding on the NRIMP packages. He denied that his company was told to put in a losing bid. When told of possible consequences Sammi may face in case of non-cooperation, Kim started to show signs of anxiety and stayed nervous through the rest of the interview, according to INT. Sammi had the highest bid for both the 1.6A and 1.6B packages.  INT said the proposed winner was known one week before the opining of bids. Kim explained its bids were very high because it incurred huge expenses to establish its Manila office but it had to participate in the bidding so as to stay visible in the DPWH radar and not be excluded from future biddings.

Date of Interview            – 7 November, 2006

Interviewees                 – Xie Wen Peng, general manager, China Wu Yi Co. Ltd.

– Wu Yi Bao -deputy general manager

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Xie said nobody called or exerted pressure on the company and that it was usual among Chinese companies to call and ask each other whether they are going to but. However, they never shared their bid price with others. He denied paying money to secure the contract. But he sometimes gave Christmas presents and invite project officials over lunch or dinner. He said he could not complain about the business environment in the Philippines and noted it is no different than in other countries.

Date of Interview            – 8 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Suh Seung Wong – general manager, Sinsung Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd.

Interviewers                  – Terry Mathews, Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Wong said he had been in the Philippines for 15 years and found it very difficult to do business in the country. He said some corruption exists, but that he had no evidence to corroborate it. He said he encountered corruption only with the traffic police. He said Shinsung withdrew from the second round of bidding for the 1.4B package because the head office in Korea failed to provide a bid security on time and that the project would overlap with other projects of the company.

Date of Interview            – 8 November, 2006

Interviewee                   –  Kim Won-Ho – general manager-Manila branch office, Daewoo E&C

Interviewers                  – Terry Matthews, Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Manila)

Kim recalled that a local politician made him attend a hearing in Congress involving Daewoo’s subcontractor on the Halsema project in Benguet. He said the politician probably wanted to get a portion of the contract to be assigned to a local subcontractor in the area. He said it is a practice in the country for local contractors and government officials to ask to be included in the contract with international companies. Kim said Daewoo could have been disqualified in the 2005 pre-qualification bid for the 1.4A and 1.4C contract because of the INT’s suspicion that it did not want to be part of the collusive scheme on the two packages.

He said local politicians have a vested interest in having large value contracts sliced into smaller package for re-election purposes, and that some, but not all, of the politicians may extract money from smaller contractors to fund their re-election campaigns.

Asked what he knew about EC de Luna Construction, Kim said a person he refused to name told him that EC de Luna could be involved in bidding pre-arrangements and that the Bank’s investigation was triggered by a congressman who wrote a letter to the DPWH.

Date of Interview            – 8 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Li Peng, general manager-China Geo-Engineering (Phil) Corp.

Interviewers                  -Terry Matthews and Tim Carrodus

Li talked about payment of revolutionary tax to NPA rebels. “The NPA demand a revolutionary tax in order that you can work and protect your machinery and workers. If you have a contract in their areas you have to negotiate. A fee is fixed. If you disagree, then you are summoned by a NPA liaison officer t a meeting, blindfolded and taken to a mountain area and there you meet the NPA people who tell you what the fees or revolutionary taxes are. If you don’t accept you get a bullet in a letter, then a bullet.”

Li also said there were instances when he had to talk to the mayor, governor and congressman to do work in their areas, to be allowed to use the roads. “If you do not cooperate with these politicians, they arrange for your contract to be terminated and rebid and so on.” He said he had to pay “protection fees or commissions” to do work in the project sites.

“Japanese, Korean and Chinese all bid low, then transfer the risk by selling the contract on for a management fee, they do not do the work they win the contract by diving low and then sell to local contractor or a stranger. There are some Chinese companies, no qualifications bid very low and sell to Korean and Chinese. The one who does the work gives fee –maybe 8% of contract price. The project suffers and the contractor who buys has a loss.”

Li said he “paid some money,” 10 percent of contract price, to Sen. Barbers and Tito Miranda who promised to help him. He said he had also talked to Congressman Pichay and asked him if he could assist in getting the contract.

The protection fees or commissions are booked as consultant’s fee, legal expenses or even donations.

Date of Interview            – 8 November, 2006 and 15 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Noelito D. Policarpio, R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc. [Philippines]

Interviewers                  – Terry Matthews, Tim Carrodus, and Tom McCarthy (11/08/06)

– Tim Carrodus, Tom McCarthy, and Edil Dushenaliyev (11/15/06)

·        R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc. (Policarpio Co.) participated in the NRIMP project in the following packages: 1.4A, 1.4C and 1.4B (third round).

·        The involvement of politicians in the awarding of contracts had increased, said Policarpio. In many instances, politicians organize biddings and contractors work together to set how bidding process will turn out.

·        Contractors obtained the price of the contract by paying bribes to individuals of the implementing agencies. All the bidders would then coordinate which contractor would win the bid. This is referred to as the “standard operating procedure” or “S.O.P.”

·        Now, however, politicians heavily influence the S.O.P. by supporting particular contractors. A politician’s support is obtained through a sort of an auction where the contractor willing to pay the highest price gets the necessary political support. This system favors the rich, foreign contractors who can outbid local firms.

·        Policarpio stated that the contractors have had to take part in the corrupt scheme in bidding on all projects in the Philippines that are funded by the World Bank, JBIC, and ADB, as well as locally funded projects.

·        National Road Improvement and Management Project:

–         Packages 1.4A and 1.4C

–         Policarpio explained that the government rejected the application because it could not supply the proper quantity/quality of cement. This, Policarpio said, was merely a pretext, used to make sure that his company did not “play the game.” INT understood this as his company’s exclusion from the bid collusion that would be formalized by the bidders.

–         Pre.-qualification, according to Policarpio, is based on “who you know” – not experience. The company had to be close to certain government officials and politicians. If the company does not cooperate, they can “kick you out.”

–         Package 1.6 (First Round)

–         INT asked Policarpio why his company withdrew from the bidding even if it was pre-qualified. He said he “just didn’t have the time.”

–         INT also asked Policarpio if the reason for his withdrawal was because he knew that he was not going to win so he just gave up early. Policarpio did not agree with this. But he admitted, “they tell me how to bid.”

–   The ABC’s of the Collusive Bidding Scheme

–         The bid collusion involves an entire plutocracy, according to Policarpio. “We will talk to each other, and decide who will get the contract. Sometimes will (agree to) have a small contractor get pre-qualified for strategic reasons.”

–         Policarpio knows that Tito Miranda and Boy Belleza both actively work to manipulate bidding. He said that Eduardo de Luna is “behind” Tito Miranda and “Mr. A” is “behind” de Luna. Mr. A is Mr. Mike Arroyo, Policarpio said.

–         Policarpio said that  de Luna takes an active role in arranging collusive bid schemes in behalf of contractors and politicians. The late Senator Barbers used to be active in using his influence to participate in collusive bid schemes. These activities are now continued by the Barbers sons. Senator Barbers initially used Tito Miranda to arrange his schemes, but later on used  de Luna.

–         Miranda realized that  de Luna is very close to Mr. Arroyo, and has now formed a partnership with de Luna in making arrangements on collusive schemes in behalf of the Barbers sons.

–         Mr. Arroyo is very powerful and places officials in positions, and these officials do what he wants. Policarpio also said he does not believe that Mr. Arroyo’s wife is aware of his corrupt actions.

–         In large government projects, Policarpio said that the process is completely fixed. Prices and winners and losers are determined before the bidding even takes place. Foreign contractors approach politicians and outbid the Philippine companies.

–         Policarpio explained that before, contractors would meet among themselves but now, the decision regarding who will win the contract is made not by contractors but by politicians through the results of the “influence action” system.

–         Losing bidders are paid off by the winning bidder. Politicians would then receive their S.O.P. monies from the contractor’s advance payment, in accordance with the percentage that they have previously negotiated on. Two politicians are usually involved: the politician whose area is hosting or affected by the contract and the politician who controls the implementing agency.

–         For the collusive schemes to work, Policarpio said that the implementing agency must work with the scheme. The DPWH Secretary exercises a very large influence on the schemes and plays a significant role in their success.

–         All payments are paid in cash.

–         Meetings take place at the Diamond Hotel and at a hotel near the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The last meeting Policarpio attended was two weeks ago (check date of interview) at the Diamond Hotel to fix the bidding for a JBIC-funded project.

–         INT asked Policarpio how he accounted for the S.O.P. payments in his company books. He said he does not worry about accounting for the payments because the company books are all “faked” anyway to avoid taxes.

–         INT also asked Policarpio what would happen if he refused to participate in the collusive bid schemes. Policarpio said if he does participate, “they” would try to do something to eliminate his company from bidding in future contracts.

–         Policarpio Co. prepares two bids when tending for a contract: one that conforms with the collusive scheme and one that is a legitimate, “commercial” bid to be submitted in case the collusive scheme falls apart prior to bid submission. Policarpio said he would make the decision as to which bid to actually submit the day before the bid submission deadline.

–         The joint bid submitted by Policarpio/Pancho/Sebastian joint venture in Package 1.4B on August 8, 2006, was part of a collusive bidding scheme, said Policarpio. Prior to the preparation of the bid, he had a telephone conversation with Clemente Pancho, vice-president for Business Development of the Pancho Co. Pancho informed him that he had received the fixing price from the “arrangers” and that he would prepare the bid to reach the predetermined price.

–         Consequently, Policarpio understood that the bid was not going to win and that it was not prepared to win.

–         In a follow-up interview on Nov. 15, 2006, INT asked Policarpio if he was aware if there was a collusive bidding arrangement in the first round of bidding of Package 1.6, where the JV prequalified but withdrew from bidding process. “All bids are fixed,” said Policarpio, noting that the JV in which he was bidding was a designated loser in the scheme.

–         INT asked him why the JV withdrew from bidding. Policarpio said that many times participants in the schemes would decide that they do not have – or unwilling to devote – the resources and time necessary to prepare the bid package since they know that they are going to lose anyway. The JV withdrew because the companies did not have the time to put together a bid at that time which they knew would be unsuccessful.

–         Policarpio also informed INT that he did not understand why the DPWH did not use the ABC formulated by the consultants and used instead used the ABC formulated by its staff. He believes that the ABC’s used in these projects are routinely unrealistic.

Date of Interview            – 9 November, 2006

Interviewee                   –  S.Y. Yoon – commercial and marketing manager, Hanjin

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Terry Matthews (in Manila)

Yoon said Hanjin’s bid was higher than that of the winning bidder because Hanjin employs Koreans for its projects while local companies use local labor, which is considerably cheaper. In recent times, he said Hanjin decided not to participate in bidding for IBRD projects because of too much competition. He said his company has interest in water-related projects.

Date of Interview       – 9 November, 2006

Interviewees             – Xu Gian -CEO/GM, China International Water and Electric Co.

– Jiang Xiao Hua – chief engineer

Interviewers              -Tim Carrodus, Terry Matthews and Duncan Smith

Xu described the Philippines as “not so easy.” He said that when he took over from the previous general manager in the country, he found the company’s finances “very tight,” the material prices were higher, and prices were manipulated by local people, making it difficult to negotiate prices.

He agreed with INT that one of the big problems in the Philippines was the politicians.  XQ admitted going “sometimes” to meetings of contractors at the Diamond hotel but said he preferred to keep “clean hands.”

Xu said he knew Senator Barbers and met him in 1994 but only as a courtesy and never talked about projects. According to him, it was necessary to “know people” and keep them “happy.”  The local contractors had to pay money to politicians.

Date of Interview            – 9 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Man-Tae Kim -Keangham Enterprises, Ltd. (Korea)

Interviewers                  – Tom McCarthy and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Manila)

Kim explained that the company couldn’t compete in the Philippines primarily because the       market had many Chinese firms bidding on projects so low that Keangnam cannot get contracts. He       also said it is difficult to operate in the Philippines because the government is not “clean.”

The company has had continuing problems in taxes, which are unclear and too high. According       to Kim, employees in the Philippines have “a difficult attitude” and are “always striking.”

Date of Interview            – 9 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Junshi Liu, general manager, China Harbour Engineering Co. (ML                                                                 China)

Interviewers                  – Tom McCarthy and Edil Dushenaliyev

The company merged with China Road and Bridge Corp in August 2005, and had changed its name to China Communications Construction Company, Ltd.

It failed to pre-qualify in six packages, pre-qualified but withdrew from bidding in August 2006 on Package 1.6A and pre-qualified and lost in the bidding for Package 1.6B.

Liu described the Philippine government as being “very bureaucratic” on payments and, at time, payments were withheld pending requests for gifts. He found it odd that the government does not favor local contractors. Liu emphasizes the importance of having a good relationship with the DPWH in bidding for projects.  But he denied involvement in any discussions with other contractors to arrange bidding, or pricing. He said he had no knowledge of other contractors working together to fix bidding or prices. However, he said there were informal discussions between contractors prior to submission of bids “to exchange views and lessons learned, informally and privately.”

Date of Interview            – 10 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Pil Koo Kang – general manager-Manila, Heunghwa Industry Co. Ltd (Korea)

Interviewers                  – Tom McCarthy and Edil Dushenaliyev

Heunghwa submitted to be pre-qualified in a joint venture with EC de Luna but was not pre-qualified for packages 1.4C, 1.4B(1st) and 1.6 (1st); and for 1.4B (2nd) and 1.6 (2nd).

Kang said his company has not bid on IBRD-financed projects because it has no chance of winning the contracts. He said he had heard rumors about IBRD-financed projects in the Philippines, that the contractor has to be connected to many people to win contracts. “We are weak, in that sense and do not know the people you need to know to get the contracts.”

He said the contractors must have connections to government officials, and to agents, or messengers of the government officials. He said there are arrangements made between top government officials and contractors to win contracts. He suggested that INT investigate the winning bidders and talk to the losers “because they always have something to say.”

Kang said he had heard of Tito Miranda and Boy Belleza as agents or messengers for top government officials in arranging bidding on contracts. He confirmed that contractors meet with agents and messengers of government officials before the bidding in order to fix the contract tendering process. Kang said he was told that to get contracts, he has to form a relationship with Eduardo de Luna who was supposedly very close to a top government official. He described de Luna as president of a construction company who is very active in making arrangements between government officials and contractors on contracts. He said de Luna wins contracts with Chinese contractors.

Kang identified the government official that de Luna was connected to as Mike Arroyo, through de Luna’s father-in-law. He admitted that he never participated in any of these dealings and that his knowledge were based on what Kim, his predecessor, had told him and on rumors.

Date of Interview         – 10 November, 2006

Interviewees               – Wen Yuegang, general manager/senior engineer, China Road and Bridge Corp.

– Xiong Shiling, deputy general manager

Interviewers                -Terry Matthews, Tim Carrodus, Duncan Smith and Edil Dushenaliyev

Yuegang said the Philippines was “not an easy place” to work, with NPA and local armed gangs confiscating or restricting access to equipment, and forcing them to pay money. (CRBC’s equipment was burned twice and work forced to be stopped by local armed people.

He denied being instructed by others to put in a specific bid price and stressed that the company’s policy is to set its price at a level so that it will not make a loss. He said his company had never been asked to join a collusive group.

Date of interview           – 13 November, 2006

Interviewee                  – Gerardo V. Pancho, president, C.M. Pancho Construction, Inc. (Phils.)

-Clemente V. Pancho, vice president-business development; head, estimating department

Interviewers                 –  Tim Carrodus, Edil Dushenaliyev and Tom McCarthy

Gerardo Pancho told the INT that the company experiences problems when it competes against foreign contractors, which are able to outbid his company. The Chinese companies are competing unfairly against other companies by using the influence of local politicians…using the names of politicians. His company does not need any political support even if has a relative who is a congressman (Pedro Pancho of Bulacan).  He says his company does not believe in giving money to politicians, and then getting the money back from the project.

Date of Interview            – 15 November, 2006

Interviewee                   –  Panya Visetnut – operations and country manager, Italian-Thai Development Public Co. Ltd (Thailand)

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Tom McCarthy

The company failed to pre-qualify in six packages and pre-qualified in three others but lost in the bidding.

Panya said it was difficult to do business in the Philippines as a foreigner, and that foreigners themselves present tough competition. He said that while his company could outbid the Japanese firms, he could not submit bids lower than the Chinese companies who can offer lower prices because they are subsidized by the Chinese government.

On the alleged collusion in WB-funded projects, Panya said his company was “ignored” and was  never offered a chance to participate in the collusive bid schemes. He complained that the ABC used by the government is unrealistically low, and does not take into consideration special costs such as the revolutionary tax paid to rebels groups.

Panya said Boy Belleza once offered to do ‘follow up’ services for him for a fee. He denied participating in any collusive bidding schemes or engaging in any arrangement with any other bidder or participating in meetings to designate the winning bidder.

Date of Interview            – 17 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – William (Bill) Paterson, former task team leader East Region, now based in Hanoi, Vietnam

Interviewers                   – Tim Carrodus,  Edil Dushenaliyev, Duncan Smith, Thomas McCarthy and                                                 Richard Leonard

Paterson explained the circumstances leading up to the award of the contracts for NRIMP1 projects.

Date of Interview            – 21 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Edward C. de Luna, EC de Luna Construction Corp.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

EC de Luna, in a joint venture with China State, was a proposed winner on one of the contract packages but the World Bank did not concur with the DPWH recommendation. De Luna said he did not participate in the third round bidding for the contract because he did not want to lose money again. He said he ‘hates’ politicians. He has to pay them and cannot do anything about it. Some politicians, but not all, want to get a share of contracts in certain areas of the country. Asked of his personal experience with politicians, he said he had to hire local subcontractors connected to politicians in some areas. He likened politicians to the NPA rebels extorting money from contractors. But he denied paying politicians. According to him, politicians meddle in locally funded projects, but not on foreign-funded projects because foreign companies fight back if politicians tried to get a cut out of them.

De Luna denied any involvement in bid collusion. He said one of the losing bidders told him about the alleged collusion. But he did not mind it, thinking that losing bidders in the Philippines always complain about winners and get involved in an intrigue. He admitted knowing Tito Miranda, who coordinates the Philippine-Japan Highway Loan Project of the DPWH, and that he has one contract under the PJHL. But he said he did not know Boy Belleza, an assistant director of Region 4A of the DPWH.

Date of Interview            – 21 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Federico S. de Vera – sales supervisor- marketing department, EEI Corp.

–  Christopher ‘Peng’ F. Esguerra, sales supervisor

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

De Vera said EEI felt it would not able to meet the pre-qualification criteria, so it entered into a joint venture with Hanjin. In bidding, he said the price is kept confidential before its submission, with very few people in the company knowing about it. Neither de Vera nor Esguerra knew about the alleged bid rigging or the contractors’ meeting at Hyatt or Diamond hotels before the bid opening to designate the winners. Both also said they know either Tito Miranda or Boy Belleza.

The EEI officials said there was a delay in the payment of the P43-million locally-funded Pila-Kalayaan project because of a politician who wanted to get subcontracting work for a local company in his area. They said they did not know if money was given to the politician. Esguerra said he was not aware of any politician asking for a kickback from EEI. Inc as when a local politician expresses interest, EEI can subcontract some work, provided the subcontractor can meet EEI standards.

Date of Interview            – 21 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Rodolfo J. Corpus, former account of Daelim branch office in Manila

–         R.S. Corpus & Associates

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Corpus said he was not familiar with the details of Daelim’s bidding for the World Bank projects. But having worked for many years at the Construction Development Corporation fo the Philippines (CDCP), he told the INT that he had witnessed the corruption that attended infrastructure projects. He said a third of the project money is lost to corruption of government officials and politicians. He said congressmen would immediately ask for 10 percent of the contract amount, especially on locally-funded projects. World Bank projects are no exemption to this. He said collusion is widely known in the construction community and that it involves all parties, including politicians, government officials, bidders, auditors and officials of the Commission on Audit who get one to two percent of the contract amount. He described DPWH officials as hatchet men or pawns who pull the strings. Contractors who do not participate in the collusive scheme do not get any contract at all. He likened the system to an organized crime where winners are known before the actual bidding could take place.

Corpus said corruption starts from the top, and is a by-product of the political system. He mentioned that Mrs. Arroyo appoints retired generals to top and juicy government positions to buy their loyalty, citing the secretaries of transportation and public works among retired generals who were appointed to plum civilian posts.

Date of Interview            – 21 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Petronilo Sebastian -P.L. Sebastian

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel)

·          Sebastian denied submitting a pre-arranged bid for the 1.4B package in a JV with Policarpio and C.M. Pancho and that each contractor submitted its own bid. He did not recall making any side payments to politicians or government officials. But the situation with the NPA, he said, is different. He called them extortionists. He has to pay otherwise the NPA will burn the equipment.

·          He had experienced some level of corruption but refused to speak further. He said it involved certain government officials and added that INT should understand his position. Contractors who do not obey the system will be disqualified or face other sanctions. “You know what I mean,” he said.

Date of Interview            – 22 November, 2006

Interviewees                 – Xie Wen Peng – general manager, China Wu Yi Co. Ltd.

–  Wu Yi Bao -deputy general manager

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Xie and Wu denied being asked by politicians or government (officials) to make illicit payments. Wu said that if they had done so, they would have been immediately fired by their head office management. Peng said he believed that some disgruntled losing bidders were not happy with the results of the third round (of bidding) and probably complained to INT. He said local contractors always do “such kind of talk.”

Date of Interview            – 22 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Clemente V. Pancho, VP – CM Pancho Construction, Inc.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Clemente Pancho said his firm, as the lead partner in the joint venture with Policarpio and PL Sebastian on the 1.4B package, was responsible for the bid preparation, including site visit and cost calculation. The joint venture was formed to meet pre-qualification requirements that were discriminatory against local contractors and favored foreign contractors. Pancho said neither he nor any of his staff attended the Nov. 7, 2006 meeting of the contractors at Hyatt Hotel supposedly to designate CM Pancho as winner in the bid for 1.4.A.1 contract.  Pancho said it was unfair to implicate his company in collusion based on INT’s source and suggested that the source file a complaint to the DPWH or the Ombudsman.

Pancho complained to INT that nobody checks the accuracy of the papers submitted by the Chinese contractors and certified by the Chinese embassy in Manila. He said he was not aware if the Chinese companies made illicit payments to politicians or government officials. The Chinese companies can afford to bid at a loss because they are subsidized by their government.

Date of Interview            – 23 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Kim Won-Ho, general manager-Manila branch office, Daewoo E&C

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Kim said Daewoo was not at any point in time under pressure from DPWH to submit a bid out of fear of being sanctioned. He said the company withdrew from the second round bidding for the 1.4B package because of tougher competition from the Chinese and manpower problems. And having heard of the INT investigation of alleged collusion, the company did not participate anymore in the third round bidding.

Date of Interview            – 23 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Manolito Madrasto – chief operating officer, permanent secretariat

— International Federation of Asian and Western Pacific Contractors’ Association

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

IFWAPCA is made up of builders’ associations in 15-member countries.

Madrasto told the INT, “Those who don’t cheat are penalized by the ones who do.”  He said any sanctions against contractors should be made with due process and that contractors accused of any wrongdoing should be afforded the opportunity to defend their actions.

He said corruption in the Philippines starts with locally-funded projects and has expanded to internationally-funded projects. He noted that at the local level,  the local politician decides who wins. If an international contractor wins, there will be local subcontractors suggested by the local politician. He said he is fully aware of the collusive and corrupt system in the Philippines. According to him, some contractors were threatened physically during the third round of bidding for the packages CW-RU-1.4B , 1.6A and 1.6B where everybody knew who was going to win.

Madrasto estimates that 40 percent is added to the cost of a contract to facilitate payments to the politicians.

He said EC de Luna and J.D. Legaspi are connected to the ‘first gentleman’ and they brag about this relationship; RII Builders and 310 Construction are connected to former president Fidel Ramos while J.M. Luciano Construction is connected to a congressman.

Date of Interview            – 23 November, 2006

Interviewee                   –  Yoon Choi -estimation manager, Hanjin

–  Jong II Eum, operations manager

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev (in Manila)

Mr. Choi explained the process the company undertakes in bidding for contracts.

Date of Interview           – 24 November,  2006

Interviewee                  -Junshi Liu, China Harbor Engineering Company

Interviewers                 -Tom McCarthy and Edil Dushenaliyev

Liu  said the level of political interference, especially in the project area, was the most difficult factor in doing business in the Philippines. He said politicians and government officials at all levels want to benefit from contractors. In a project in Zamboanga City, he said Chian Harbor had to hire security to protect its staff. He said he heard from the local personnel that they had to pay the politicians also. He said it was an accepted rule to pay the politicians and that contractors have to play this game in the Philippines. According to him, contractors bid very high to cover all potential side payments in the future. There’s also a lot of competition between the politicians in picking the winners for the contracts.

Date of Interview            – 28 November, 2006

Interviewee                   – Jonathan M. Amon -manager, J. M. Luciano Construction, Inc.

Interviewers                  – Tim Carrodus and Edil Dushenaliyev

Amon said that Luciano has an ongoing WB-funded project in joint venture (JV) with RII       Builders and 310 Construction. This contract (1.4C package) is progressing very slowly because       of the low bid price, peace and order, and the politicians. The last two factors were the most serious,       he said.

Amon said that the engineers of all three companies (Luciano, RII Builders and 310       Construction) worked collectively on the cost estimation, each providing an input to its own part of       the work. The cost estimates were consolidated by RII. The JV presented a “normal” bid on both       contract packages (1.4A and 1.4C) and did not factor in any “external” factors such as the side       payment to politicians.

Amon repeated that the JV presented a normal bid for the 1.4A package and the termination of       the contract then was “revenge” from politicians whom the JV refused to pay. It was the politician       in the project area (Surigao), Amon said, but he refused to identify the person. He said that the       DPWH officials were also part of the retaliation action against the JV. Asked about filing a case           with the DPWH Ombudsman, Amon said that he (the Ombudsman) is part of the system since he is       appointed by the President and politicians.

·          Aside from track record and experience, Amon said that one needs to cooperate with everybody to pass pre-qualification. “You know what I mean,” he said, referring to such “cooperation” as paying money to the politicians and government officials. If one does not pay, one does not get the contract.

·          Amon also described Boy Belleza (Asst. General Director of Region 4A) and Tito Miranda (President, DPWH Employees Union Association) as decent persons who would not fix the bidding. He also does not know anything negative about E.C. de Luna.

·          Amon refused to identify the facilitators of the collusive scheme, adding that they are different from project to project and much higher than the persons mentioned above. When asked if these could be the Secretary or Undersecretary of the DPWH, Amon refused to answer, saying that he has five children and needs to think of them.

·          If the bid prices are 20 to 30 percent above the cost estimate (ABC) then politicians are involved in the project, according to Amon. To do away with the interference of politicians, the ABC should be published and no bids above the ABC should be accepted.

·          Amon also said that Chinese companies are winning all the internationally funded tenders because they pay the local politicians and government officials since they have the money to make illicit payments. He knows this because he said he is in the “system” and that everybody in the contracting community is aware of the situation.

·          The surplus amount above the ABC goes to the politicians through the foreign banks of international contractors.

·          Amon noted that foreign contractors rarely partner with local firms but if they do so, they do it for “political insurance.” Foreign contractors need no JVs because they have their own resources and sufficient capacity.

·          Amon denied attending any pre-arrangement meetings at the Diamond or Hyatt Hotels, but said such meetings could take place after the pre-qualification to finalize the list of winners.

·          The current Secretary of the DPWH is a retired general and has been in the position for two years. He said that contractors try not to “mess” with him in order to avoid any harm.

·          Amon stated that Luciano currently has two active projects (hospitals) financed by Land Bank. The company recently finished a P800-million JBIC-financed project in the peaceful part of Mindanao.

·          Amon said they had to pay the NPA both in kind (computers, cellphone, medicine, rice and other goods) and in cash on the 1.4A and 1.4C contract packages, among others. If the company would not pay, its equipment could be burned or destroyed. He admitted that RII Builders paid P1 million to the NPA. He also noted that the local politicians and rebel groups have a mutual respect for each other and do not step into each other’s turfs.

·          Amon told INT that the winner of the 1.4A.1 contract package, C.M. Pancho, was predetermined. He advised INT to look at the result of the bidding in order too see a pattern. He also said that the bidders knew about the outcome and therefore intentionally put in losing bids.
–Compiled by Tita Valderama and Karol Ilagan, PCIJ 2009 (ManilaTimes)

The Confidential Witnesses: Full Testimonies(From PCIJ/ManilaTimes)

February 14, 2009

Note from the PCIJ:  Apart from the 54 witnesses identified in the “Record of Interviews” of the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity (INT),  seven other persons testified on the alleged fraud and collusion in the National Road Improvement and Management Program-1 (NRIMP-1), The INT’s report refers to them as the CWs or Confidential Witnesses. Their full testimonies follow:

Confidential Witness No.1 (CW01):

“A former government official with personal knowledge of the DPWH bid process. CW01 requested that his identity remain confidential. CWO1 expressed concern over collusion in the bidding for said projects, and stated that the primary ‘arrangers’ or ‘facilitators’ of the collusion included: a. contractor Eduardo de Luna (who)… was ‘masterminding’ bids, is close to Mike Arroyo (husband of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) and is a go-between for Mr Arroyo on foreign-assisted projects; and b. DPWH staffmember ‘Boy’ Belleza whom CW01 described as a long-time ‘arranger’ dating back to the Marcos regime. CW01 said Mr Belleza had been barred for a time from the DPWH offices.”

“CW01 named multiple Congressmen and Senators who had taken bribes, including former Senator Barbers. According to CW01, members of the DPWH who have taken bribes include: former Secretary Florante Soriquez (who is close to Mr Arroyo and Mr de Luna), and Project Director Lope Adriano.”

“CW01 knew details of the operations of the cartel and echoed others in stating that this process was known as the ‘Standard Operating Procedure.’ First, a Congressman would anoint a winner prior to the bidding by identifying the winner to the District Engineer. The Congressman will tell the District Engineer, ‘This is my Man.’”

“CW01 said contractors pay 15-20% of the contract to the Congressman who sponsors them, either up-front or progressively through the various stages of a project.”

“CW01 said the winning bidder gives the losing bidders 1.5% of the contract value; government officials share in another 2-3%; BAC (bid and awards committee) members also sometimes take money in exchange for not forwarding bids to the central office.”

“CW01 stated that the ABC can also be ‘padded’ by engineers who are paid to increase required quantities and thus manipulate the contract specifications to increase the price.”

“CW01 also said contractors take shortcuts in the execution of the contracts to cover these various costs; according to CW01, the DPWH loses between 15-27% on each contract, not including up to 20% in unnecessary costs added to projects.”

“In essence, CW01 said the bidding process is ‘a sham.’ The only contractors who get contracts are the ones who comply with the system.”

Confidential Witness No. 2 (CW02):

“…another government official with knowledge of the process asked that his identity remain confidential. He noted that witnesses had received threats related to the investigation.”

“Stated that DPWH staff, in particular Mr. Soriquez, would not move on the approval of a contract until a contractor pays them 5% for the approval. CW02 was aware of the ‘SOP.’”

“He said contractors have told him that politicians, district engineers, BAC members, losing bidders, and the media are paid under the SOP. He said politicians in the provinces sometimes interfere with the bid award process if they have friends who want to bid; the politicians insist that their friends win.”

“CW02 said Boy Belleza is in charge of arranging the bids and prices for the losing bidder, and Tito Miranda is the arranger for locally-funded projects.”

“CW02 also identified multiple areas where the bid process was subject to manipulation, noting that (a) the ABC is sometimes padded and calls for more work and supplies than are needed; (b) contractors can shift their bids up as much as 30%, citing the danger of currency fluctuations; and c) contractors can obtain contract variations in order to increase their profits and recoup early losses; these variations can double the price of the contract.”

Confidential Witness No. 3 (CW03):

“CW03, a manger in the Philippines office of a foreign firm, participated in the bidding at issue here. CW03 insisted several times during his interview that his identity remain confidential.”

“CW03 told investigators that bids on public construction contracts are prearranged, the bid rigging is an “open secret,” everyone knows about it, and all contractors must participate to get work. He said every layer of the system is corrupt, and all details for the bid documents are prearranged.”

“CW03 said the bid-rigging system is present on contracts with the National Irrigation Administration, the Department of Transportation and Communications, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as with the DPWH.”

“Based on his own personal interactions and involvement in the syndicate, CW03 named a number of other companies involved in the collusion. They include Hanjin, China State, Daelim, and Cavite Ideal. CW03 said Cavite Ideal is ‘famous’ for working with the syndicate, and that China State is a ‘very strong, big payer’.”

“CW03 said some companies meet to discuss bids and other issues on a regular basis. Government officials, according to CW03, act as ‘mediators,’ arranging the collusive pricing. ‘Mediators’ assign prices to the losing bidders for submission on the fraudulent bid documents. CW03 named Mr. Belleza and Mr. Miranda of DPWH as mediators; he specifically noted Mr. Belleza’s involvement in the 1.4B and 1.6 packages.”

“CW03 said mediators hold meetings at the Diamond Hotel near DPWH, before each contract goes out to bid. He told investigators that normally, all prequalified bidders attend these meetings. (He said the prequalification process itself is sometimes prearranged.) The mediator discloses the approximate budget amount to the contractors, and asks who is interested in the contracts.”

“Through private follow-up meetings with the interested contractors, the mediators decide on the winner – i.e., the company promises the largest kickbacks. The mediators assign prices to the losing bidders, and check colluders’ bids just before submission to be sure they are ‘correct.’ The winner gets the contract, and support from local politicians, in exchange for the promised payments.”

“Contractors make payments on the bidding date, on the award date, and when they receive payments under the contract. CW03 told investigators he knew about these matters first hand.”

“CW03 noted that the ABC is widely known by bidders. He told investigators that contractors typically add between 20% and 28% to the ABC.”

“CW03 told investigators that each percentage point added to the ABC and dedicated to a corrupt payment is known as a ‘share.’ The apportionment of shares typically is as follows:

1.      the BAC members each receive one share;

2.      the BAC Chairman receives one extra share;

3.      the DPWH Legal Department receives one share;

4.      relevant NGOs or local media receive one share (as payoff to avoid publicity);

5.      the mediator receives one share;

6.      four to five shares go to the Project Management Office (PMO); and

7.      three to five shares are divided among the losing bidders.

“Thus typically between 17 and 20 shares must be allocated to the cartel’s various facilitators.”

“CW03 said contractors know they can add 25% to the ABC and the World Bank will approve the contract. So the winning bidder typically bids 24% higher than the ABC, and the losers bid higher than that.”

“CW03 said work suffers because of the bribes; contractors cut back on implementation, and simply pay off inspectors with food, lodging, and pocket money. CW03 also stated that corruption is “a way of life” in the Philippines. He predicted that even if solid evidence were to be provided, the government would do nothing to remedy the problem.”

Confidential Witness No. 4 (CW04):

“CW04, another foreign firm, has also participated in DPWH bidding. CW04 agreed to provide information only on grounds that it be treated confidentially. Investigators interviewed CW04A and CW04B, both officials in CW04’s manila office.”

“General Description of Syndicate Operations. CW04 told investigators, ‘(If) you have a project with DPWH, you have to give.’ CW04 said that the syndicate operates on a ‘gentlemen’s agreement,’ and it is understood in the syndicate that those who violate it will be excluded from future pre qualifications and will not win further contracts.”

“According to CW04, ‘coordinators’ – among them the winning contractors – arrange the prices at which losing bidders will bid. CW04 identified Mr. Belleza, (the DPWH Region 1V-A Assistant Director), and another DPWH official as coordinating the collusion for DPWH. They have networks of collaborating officials in all PMOs (i.e., PMOs for JBIC, ADB, and World Bank projects).”

“CW04 showed investigators a chart which outlined payments made and due to each of the colluding contractors, as well as the amounts of their bids. Both individuals said the BAC is involved in the bid-rigging, but they do not know what share it receives, because payments to the BAC are handled by the contractors. Both said the payments would be distributed once the contract was awarded.”

“Bid-Rigging on the 1.4B and 1.6 Contract Packages, CW04 said companies sometimes pay a small amount to be prequalified. He said bribes and kickbacks paid by CW04 are hidden in financial reports under vague expense lines. He provided INT with a copy of an example record of payments to a DPWH official.”

“CW04 said contractors were engaged in negotiations with one another. CW04 said that in at least one of the bidding rounds, the company that was designated by the cartel to be the winner thereafter arranged the bids. CW04 confirmed that CW04 had placed bids that were ‘not meant to win’ because another company already had been designated to be the winner of the contract package. They nonetheless tried to demonstrate participation, in hopes of gaining future contracts.”

“CW04 explained that CW04 had been provided a ‘lump sum’ price to bid by a coordinator. He said he then had to ‘jack up’ the other items in the bid to meet the lump sum.”

“CW04 said the Bill of Quantities in CW04’s bids is obviously inflated by at least 20 to 25%. The choice of how to inflate the prices to meet the requested sum was not imposed by the syndicate but was left to each contractor.”

“Other Contracts. CW04 showed investigators other corporate records concerning cartel payments in other contracts. According to cartel procedure, the designated winning bidder was responsible for paying out a portion of the ABC to the losing bidders.”

“CW04 said the winner paid off politicians for election campaign funds, and paid direct bribes to senior DPWH officials. He provided documentary evidence of some of these payments.”

“CW04 explained that, to avoid bookkeeping problems, CW04 obtained fake receipts to balance out any payment discrepancies. The books were prepared by a certified public accountant, and were sent to CW04’s head office without any supporting details. Moreover, he said, CW04’s submissions to the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) did not necessarily reflect the company’s true financial condition, as CW04 was also bribing officials of the BIR.”

“In a follow-up interview with investigators, CW04 identified an additional World Bank financial project manipulated by the cartel.”

Confidential Witness No. 5 (CW05):

“CW05 participated in bidding on these contracts. CW05 began his interview by noting that he is afraid for his safety if he speaks about Mr. de Luna; he asked the Bank to protect him.”

“CW05 said it has become difficult to do business in the Philippines. In the last three or four years, he said, politicians have gotten involved in the construction business; they ask for money, and his company does not want to pay it.”

“CW05, just as CW03 and Mr Liu of China Harbour had, described corruption in Philippine road projects as ‘an open secret.’ ‘Everyone knows the situation in the Philippines but no one wants to talk about it because they have to survive.’”

“CW05 commended the Bank for its rejection of the bid in the 1.4B and 1.6 contract packages. He said this rejection showed the Bank understood how corruption had infected the bids.”

“CW05 said Tito Miranda, DPWH Region IV-A Assistant Director, is close with both Mr de Luna and important politicians. CW05 said that Mr de Luna appears to have connections with the police, within the agencies, and with the first family.”

“CW05 said under the syndicate system, contractors are to inform Mr Miranda of their intent in a contract. CW05 said contractors cannot say no to Mr Miranda, and he noted that a contractor in Northern Luzon was shot in the mid-1990s because he would not go along with the syndicate.”

“CW05 told investigators a bid may be inflated up to 50% if the bidder has the support of government officials and is willing to pay what he characterized as ‘expenses.’”

“CW05 said companies sometimes withdraw from bidding because they hear the bids are rigged, and they feel a bid under these circumstances is hopeless.”

Confidential Witness No. 6 (CW06):

“CW06 participated in bidding on these contract packages. CW06 noted that he feared repercussions if his cooperation were to become known.”

“CW06 told investigators that Eduardo de Luna was managing the 1.4B and 1.6 contract packages, as well as the NRIMP 1.4A, 1.4C and 1.5 contract packages. He stated that Mr de Luna claimed to be able to arrange for companies to win any of the contracts for a fee.”

“CW06 said politicians were involved in the bid-rigging on Bank projects, and he identified particular individuals.”

Confidential Witness No. 7 (CW07):

“CW07 is a former employee of a DPWH contractor. CW07 agreed to speak only on conditions of anonymity.”

“CW07 told investigators that one of his employer’s contracts had been prearranged by a DPWH employee.”

“CW07 said that for a given contract, the ‘matchmaker,’ who was in charge of arranging the bidders, would ask contractors if they were interested in a particular project. During a subsequent follow-up meeting, the arranged winner would negotiate the markup necessary, and arrange the payments of the bribes and kickbacks to government officials.”

“According to CW07, under the bid-rigging system, ‘silent guidelines’ are followed which direct the amounts of payoffs to which losing bidders in the cartel are entitled. Under these guidelines, the winner would set aside 3% of the ABC for the participating pre-qualifying and losing bidders to share.”

“CW07 told investigators that losing bidders are told the price they are to bid one day before the bid documents are to be submitted. The arrangers check the losing bidders’ prices immediately before submission to make sure they are ‘correct.’ CW07 said ‘divers’ can avoid the prearranged bidding by bidding lower than the others but they will be punished for it by the syndicate.”

“CW07 said that his company has placed bids for contract packages that it had no intention of winning. CW07 said his company received the bid price from the ‘arranger.’ His company then marked up the price computations to meet the arranged total bid price.”

“CW07 also acknowledged other kickbacks his company paid to the DPWH. He told investigators that he was approached by one senior DPWH official who demanded a kickback in connection with an ongoing contract. CW07 said he ‘couldn’t say no’ and admitted that he paid off the official.”

“CW07 said the headquarters offices of some foreign companies know generally about the bid-rigging system in the Philippines, but prefer not to hear the details.” –PCIJ, 2009 (ManilaTimes)

$45M lost to bribes for ‘cartel’ backed by govt officials

February 14, 2009

By Malou Mangahas, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Corrupted to the core—and entirely—by a “cartel” of kickback-takers with support from the highest levels of the Philippine government.

In gist, this is the damning conclusion of the World Bank’s anti-corruption unit, the powerful and dreaded Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) regarding the bank-funded National Road Improvement and Management Project-1 (NRIMP-1).

According to the department, “the entire NRIMP-1 Project has been corrupted,” and had put “at least $30 [million to] $45 million of the entire $150-million loan at risk,” or lost to “a cartel” of contractors, bureaucrats, politicians. Two witnesses said bribes were also “shared” with “relevant local media and non-government organizations . . . to avoid bad publicity.”

The cartel has been “institutionalized and has operated with impunity for at least a decade, possibly longer,” on account of the “systemic corruption and bid rigging” in the Philippine public works sector.

Even worse, “evidence suggests [that] the cartel may enjoy support at the highest levels of the Government of the Philippines, including several officials of the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] and even reaching the husband of the President [Gloria Arroyo] herself.”

“Ultimately,” said the Department of Institutional Integrity, “the cartel harmed development itself—NRIMP funds were not disbursed because of the fraud and corruption, and the roads were not rehabilitated with the development funds allocated to this purpose.”

60 witnesses, piles of docs

The Department of Institutional Integrity said its investigation—which eventually implicated 16 individuals and had the unit’s acting director Johannes Zutt recommending sanctions against 17 companies—involved 60 separate witness interviews and the evaluation of hundreds of documents.

“Despite fears that they risked their physical and economic well-being,” the department said, “over a dozen witnesses confirmed the existence of the cartel and provided details on its practices.”

By the department’s reckoning, “a syndicate made up of contractors and corrupt officials in the DPWH had organized and had been operating a cartel to control road projects at least as early as 1998.”

But “Filipino politicians later took a managing role in the organization,” while public works officials “arranged for contracts to be awarded to particular contractors in exchange for bribes and kickbacks,” said the Department of Institutional Integrity.

With the cartel’s operation, it continued, “the entire system operated [and may continue to operate, with respect to other contracts . . .] under ‘a gentlemen’s agreement,’ with implicit understanding that those who violate the agreement will be denied the prospect of winning future contracts.”

The cartel provided “the illusion of competition—the appearance of a free market [that] was entirely simulated,” the Department of Institutional Integrity said.

According to the department report signed by Zutt, “The evidence is sufficient for a determination that it is more likely than not that the respondents, with the active cooperation of numerous officials of the Government of the Philippines, participated in an institutionalized cartel replete with collusive tendering, bid rigging, price fixing, and the routine payment of bribes and kickbacks.”

In the 260-page report on the findings dated March 20, 2008, Zutt also recommended sanctions against a Filipino contractor and 17 construction companies that joined the three rounds of project biddings.

(A separate 230-page Part II of the Department of Institutional Integrity report enrols the “Record of Interviews” that the investigators conducted with 54 named witnesses from April 2003 to November 2006, in the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.)

‘Affirmative deception’

Thirteen of the 17 firms were put under the category of respondents who “either refused to cooperate with the Bank’s investigation or affirmatively misled the INT.”

Such “affirmative deception” of the Bank and “obstruction of its investigative mission should be an a priori disqualifying circumstance from doing future business with the Bank.”

These 13 companies are:

Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp., based in Pasay City;

China Road & Bridge Corp, a state-owned firm based in Hong Kong;

China State Construction Engineering Corp., a state-owned firm based in Beijing;

China Wu Yi Co. Ltd., a state-owned firm based in Fuzhou City;

CM Pancho Construction Inc. in Quezon City;

Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd., based in Seoul, South Korea;

Dongsung Construction Co. Ltd., based in Gyeongham, South Korea;

EC de Luna Construction Corp. and Eduardo de Luna, San Juan City;

EEI Corp., Quezon City;

Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Corp., based in Seoul, South Korea;

Italian-Thai Development Public Co. Inc., based in Bangkok, Thailand;

Sammi Construction Co. Ltd., based in Busan, South Korea; and

Shinsung Corporation General Contractors and Engineers, based in Kangnam-Gu, South Korea

Five of the 17 respondents were judged to be “affiliated with the organizers of the cartel also [and] should receive enhanced sanctions as they are the perpetrators of fraudulent and corrupt practices.” These five respondents, the department asserted, “had the greatest extent of corrupt relationships with government officials, directed the submission of fraudulent bids, and controlled the fraudulent distribution of contract awards.” The five are:

China Geo-Engineering Corp. based in Beijing;

China Road & Bridge Corp.;

China State Construction Engineering Corp.;

China Wu Yi Co. Ltd.;

EC de Luna Construction Corp. and Eduardo de Luna.

Open secret

The witnesses who spoke with the Department of Institutional Integrity, including “multiple cartel participants and government officials,” described the “collusive and corrupt practices surrounding these contracts as an ‘open secret’ and said the bribery the cartel managed was known in the Philippines as ‘standard operating procedure.’”

The report exposed the modus operandi of the cartel:

“The cartel was aided by officials within the Project Implementation Unit, the Philippine DPWH, which disqualified uncooperative bidders without basis before formal bids could be placed.”

“Cartel managers would anoint contract winners in advance of bid submission and would designate losing bidders, who were compensated to cover their costs in bidding.”

“Cartel managers told bribers what to bid, days before the bid submission date, down ‘to the last peso.’”

“Cartel backers thereafter redrafted their unit bid prices to comport with cartel-mandated total bid amounts, frequently 20 [percent to] 30 percent in excess of estimates.”

“The prearranged bidding was made all the more evident when, to the final round of bidding in 2006, an anonymous informant provided investigators with advance notice of the correct outcome of the third round of bidding before the bid opening had occurred.”

Besides interviewing 60 witnesses, the Department of Institutional Integrity said it conducted “in-depth analysis of the three rounds of bidding” and established that “bids in all rounds showed abnormally high and unexplained unit and total costs.”

This bids analysis yielded, the department said, the following findings:

“Bids bore lockstep relations to engineer’s estimates [i.e., one round’s bids were 31 percent, 32 percent, 33 percent and 34 percent above the estimate].”

“Bids contained numerous, large calculation errors suggesting last-minute revisions pursuant to cartel instructions—one bid contained an error in excess of US$3.6 million.”

“Two bids on a US$26 million total contract, with widely disparate subtotals, totalled to values only US$31 apart.”

The lowest bids investigated, the report continued, “were routinely 20 [percent to] 30 percent above cost estimates, threatening the Bank’s borrower with tens of millions of wasted dollars had the cartel not been exposed.”

Sanctions vs. 7 firms

The World Bank’s Evaluation and Suspension Officer, who evaluated the evidence gathered by the Department of Institutional Integrity, later issued in May 2008 a Notice of Sanctions Proceedings to the respondent bidders.

But on January 12, 2009, the World Bank sanctions board decided to impose penalties on only seven companies:

EC de Luna and Eduardo de Luna, debarred indefinitely from participating in World Bank-funded projects.

China Road, debarred for five years. China State and China Wu Yi, debarred for four years. Cavite Ideal and CM Pancho, debarred for four years.

In August 2008, the Korean firm Dongsung was separately debarred for four years, “for fraudulent and corrupt practices in relation to the NRIMP-1 case.”

According to the Bank’s sanctions board, the Department of Institutional Integrity had not presented sufficient evidence that the respondents may have engaged in “fraudulent practices separate from collusion.”

In its report, however, the department said it had “direct evidence of fraudulent or corrupt practices such as the submission of fraudulent documents or the payment of bribes derived from admissions of participants or the direct testimony of witnesses,” and “circumstantial proof of collusion detected through an analysis of the fraudulent bids the cartel submitted.”

“At a minimum, the totality of the evidence reflects that each of the bidders on the contract packages at issue had knowledge of the cartel’s practices and willingly participated in the systemic fraud and corruption,” the department said.

The “evidence accumulated in this case,” it said, “is sufficient for a determination that the respondents violated Bank procurement guidelines.”

Still, it admitted that the evidence collected “does not reveal any exculpatory factors” or “any further mitigating factors” to be considered in the case, in favor of any of the respondents.

The department said, it determined that “among the aggravating factors to be considered are: the egregiousness of the misconduct, including multiple instances of misconduct; the degree of involvement of the respondents in the misconduct; damage caused by the respondents to the credibility of the procurement process; and harm caused to the borrowers.”

Thus, it said, “without exception, it is the INT’s contention that all of the respondents . . . acted in a manner that permits the charge of engaging in corrupt practice to be levelled against them as a principle or, in the alternative, as a secondary party.”(ManilaTimes)

Japan ignores appeal, sets to deport Filipino family

February 14, 2009

TOKYO: Japan on Friday ordered the parents of a 13-year-old Filipina to prepare to leave within two weeks, giving them a choice to leave their daughter behind or face deportation.

In a case closely followed by human rights activists, Noriko Calderon—who was born in Japan in 1995—has publicly appealed to authorities to let her family stay together.

Her parents entered Japan in the early 1990s with illegal passports and stayed in the country undetected until two years ago when her mother was arrested but later released.

Noriko has grown up speaking only Japanese and attending local schools. Japan, which imposes tight controls on immigration, is likely to allow her to stay to complete her studies.

“I have decided not to grant a special residential permit to the entire family,” Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, who oversees immigration, told reporters.

Friday was the deadline for the family’s temporary residential status.

Shogo Watanabe, a leading human rights lawyer handling the case, said the immigration bureau told the parents to decide by February 27 on the date to fly to the Philippines.

“We accept neither the deportation of the whole family nor sending back only the parents,” said Watanabe, who warned that the immigration authority could detain Noriko’s 36-year-old father if he refused to leave.

Out of options

The parents have refused to leave without their daughter but ran out of legal options when the Supreme Court in September last year rejected their appeal to stay in Japan.

“She is 13 years old,” the father, Arlan Cruz, Calderon told reporters. “She cannot survive or protect herself alone.”

Lawyer Watanabe said he would keep negotiating with the immigration authority to let the family stay at least until the girl graduates from middle or high school.

About 500 families were in the same situation as the Calderons, according to Watanabe, who has accused Japan of not respecting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Japan, with a falling birth rate and shrinking population, is considering allowing more foreign workers but has long rejected wide-scale immigration.

Editorial Cartoon: Killing the FG

February 14, 2009


200,000 Pinoys face layoffs But government looking to hire 60,500 in 2009

February 14, 2009

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Friday predicted that between 40,000 and 200,000 Filipinos would be laid off from work this year because of the global economic crisis.

“That’s the range for the whole year, a big range. Definitely, it will raise the unemployment rate,” said Dennis Arroyo, the chief of the authority’s national planning and policy staff. He pointed out, though, that the unemployment rate would not reach 10 percent.

No massive job losses face those working in the government, however.

On the contrary, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., said also on Friday, the government would hire a total of 60,500 state workers this year.

Arroyo said the expected adverse impact of the job losses in the private sector is already being addressed by the Department of Labor Employment by shifting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from host countries with weak demand to those with a strong one.

“The Middle East countries are responding to the crisis by pump-priming and spending on infrastructure projects,” he added. “That would [offset] OFW unemployment in construction. There are also new markets in Guam, New Zealand and Australia.”

Arroyo said he is optimistic that the 2009 gross domestic product (GDP) would not fall below the low-end target of 3.7 percent for 2009. GDP is the total value of goods and services produced in a country in a year.

Last year, the economy grew 4.6 percent from the previous year’s 7.2 percent.

“The crisis began in September and hit hard in October, November and December. Hence, the fourth quarter of 2008 was already in the crisis era. Yet, the economy still grew by 4.5 percent,” Arroyo said.

He added that the 2009 GDP target range of 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent assumed merchandise export growth of 1 percent to 3 percent. Arroyo said that in the fourth quarter of last year, export growth was at negative 9.2 percent.

“One would have expected the economy to post growth lower than 3.7 percent. But what happened was that manufacturing for the domestic market compensated for the drop in exports,” he added. Manufacturing growth accelerated to 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. It was buoyed by food manufacturing, beverage, chemicals and chemical products.

Winners and losers

Arroyo said that he expects fertilizer and fuel prices to go down, a possibility that would boost agriculture, forestry and fisheries, in particular.

Mining projects would be delayed because of “hesitance to invest” under the global crisis.

Manufacturing, according to Arroyo, would be dragged by exports but eventually would shift to the domestic economy. There also would be a big public-construction push, positive response from private construction, power-sector reforms and expansion of water-service areas.

The services sector, Arroyo said, would see lower fuel prices in 2009 than in 2008 that would spur the transport, communication and storage subsector.

“Lower inflation will boost retail trade but there will be an overhang of weaker consumer confidence because of the crisis,” he added. For the finance subsector, banks would be healthy but the stock market and insurance industry would still be weak.

Funds for mass hiring

In assuring job stability in the government sector, Budget Secretary Andaya pointed to “mass hiring” there and funds “for that purpose have already been earmarked in the 2009 national budget.”

“While the economic crunch had resulted in mass layoffs in the private sector, it is not true in the public sphere,” he said.

Andaya made the assurance in reaction to concerns aired by Courage, a public-sector union, that the rationalization plan of the government would displace a significant number of government workers.

Countering Courage, Andaya cited the budget of the Department of Education that alone allows for the hiring of 10,000 teachers and another 2,000 non-teaching personnel this year.

“This [recruitment] will bring the number of teaching and non-teaching personnel of the department to 506,000,” he said.

Andaya added that funds have been earmarked too for the hiring of 500 jail guards for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Corrections.

Jobs in demand

Also, around 3,000 policemen will also be recruited this year to strengthen the Philippine National Police under the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Andaya said that under the recently announced Nurses Assigned in Rural Areas (NARS) program, 5,000 nurses would be employed to serve in far-flung villages.

He added that around P2 billion in the 2009 budget has been allocated for the government reforestration program, which authorizes the hiring of 40,000 workers for the program and energy projects as well.

Besides the money given to the Education department, Andaya said that state colleges and universities had been authorized to hire additional academic personnel under their respective charters.

“All of these [jobs] are aimed at cushioning the effect of the global economic crunch on the private sector, which had no choice but to cut down the number of employees because of the financial slowdown,” he added.

The Budget secretary said that these government vacancies had been allocated funds. Earlier, Malacañang said it plans to order government agencies to set aside 1.5 percent of their maintenance and operating expenses, estimated to be at P7 billion, for the hiring of 180,000 casual employees for six months.

Andaya clarified that a plan to abolish redundant positions in the government had been advanced not only because of the cost of maintaining such but to improve service delivery by cutting red tape through systems and reorganization.

State employees affected by the rationalization will not include professionals, such as policemen, teachers, doctors, midwives and firemen, he said.

The implementation of the plan will be democratic, consultative and non-coercive, all part of creating a “smarter government,” Andaya added.
–Darwin G. Amojelar And Angelo S. Samonte(ManilaTimes)

10,000 nursing jobs in RP—labor chief

February 11, 2009

By Izah Morales

MANILA, Philippines – There are 10,000 job openings available for nurses here, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque announced Wednesday.

But Roque said most of these employment opportunities were in the provinces so that those who lived there need not go to Manila to apply.

Roque said the nurses would get P8,000 a month in these community hospitals. ”This will be good for those who want experience.

And then they can apply overseas,” Roque said.

Activist asks court to call Sen Arroyo

February 11, 2009

Tetch Torres

MANILA, Philippines — An activist who is one of those accused of the alleged 1985 murder of communist rebels suspected of being government spies in Leyte asked Manila Regional Trial Court branch 32 to summon Senator Joker Arroyo to testify on his behalf.

Vicente Ladlad wants Arroyo to testify that he could not have been involved in the alleged murders because he was detained in Camp Guillermo Nakar in Quezon province from 1983 to 1986, when he was released when then president Gorazon Aquino issued a presidential proclamation freeing all political prisoners after the EDSA revolution.

“Based on records we have, Senator Arroyo appeared and argued several times in court as Vic’s lead counsel,” lawyer Ernesto Francisco Jr., Ladlad’s counsel, said. “Senator Arroyo was the chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) during this period, in which capacity he acted as Vic’s lead counsel.”

The cases involved a rebellion case and another criminal case docketed in Calauag and Lucena City.

“Senator Arroyo is also a staunch defender of the President [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo], thus credible to the government,” added Francisco. “The DoJ [Department of Justice] shouldn’t object to his testimony.”

Ladlad wants the Manila court to dismiss the charges against him, filed after the discovery of human remains in a mass grave on Mt. Sapang Daku in Inopacan, Leyte, on Aug. 26, 2006.

Workers picket DOLE, SSS P12-B fund release, lay offs protested

February 11, 2009

By Marjorie Gorospe
First Posted 12:21:00 02/11/2009

Filed Under: Protest

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Some 100 workers from the provinces of Cavite and Laguna picketed the Department of Labor and Employment Wednesday against the massive lay-offs, which employers have blamed on the global financial crisis.

Earlier in the day, a smaller number of protesters went to the Social Security System office in Quezon City to protest the decision of its president Romulo Neri to release P12.5 billion of SSS funds as aid to the government to ease the impact of the economic crunch.

Hermy Marasigan, spokesman of the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (United Workers of Southern Tagalog, Pamatnig-KMU), said that multinational companies in the region have been using the “financial crisis” as an excuse to fire their employees without due process.

Marasigan said there would be upcoming movements from the workers of Southern Tagalog against the unjust lay offs by these companies and the continuous corruption in government.

“This is a loss of job security for workers in the region,” Marasigan said in Filipino during the protest in DOLE.

Meanwhile, Joel Palacios, SSS spokesman, said that the protesters’ accusation was “speculative” since the release of the P12.5 billion has not yet been approved.

Palacio said certain criteria have to be met before the money could be released and used as potential investment.

“It is our duty to protect that [money] and make it grow,” Palacio added.

12,500 laid off at PEZA zones

February 11, 2009

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:34:00 02/11/2009

Filed Under: Unemployment, World Financial Crisis

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Some 12,500 workers have been laid off at Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) zones since October, PEZA Director General Lilia de Lima said.

Some companies at the zones have shortened workweeks from seven days to six and workdays from three eight-hour shifts to two, De Lima said.

“They’re adapting shorter work hours so that they can hold on to their people, because it is difficult and costly to train” new personnel, she said.

On the other hand, the PEZA has approved applications of 560 companies to set up factories in PEZA zones, De Lima said.

“They’re now starting to create. They’re also starting to hire,” she said. “I want also to emphasize that some companies are also expanding: medical instrumentation, disposable syringes.”

Employment at PEZA zones was up 2.54 percent last year said.

Regarding US-based chipmaker Intel Corp., which announced last month that it would close down its Philippine plant and lay off the last thousand or so of its workers, De Lima said an Intel sister company, Numonyx, had hired 600 former Intel employees and would hire 400 more.(PDI)

Supreme Court orders US Marine into local custody

February 11, 2009

MANILA — (Updated 5:23 p.m.) The Philippine Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a US Marine convicted of rape to be moved from the American Embassy into Philippine custody, reopening an emotional case that has become a rallying point for anti-American protests.

The court ruled that a deal allowing Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith to stay at the embassy while appealing his 40-year jail term was contrary to the Visiting Forces Agreement, which governs the conduct of U.S. forces in the country.

The justices instructed Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo to negotiate Smith’s transfer to an appropriate detention facility.

Pending such an agreement, Smith can remain at the embassy, the court said.

It also directed the Court of Appeals to quickly resolve Smith’s appeal.

The US Embassy issued a statement saying it would consult with legal experts in Washington.

The rape case has stirred emotions in the former US colony and became a rallying point for activists demanding an end to US military counterterrorism exercises.

Smith, 23, from St. Louis, Missouri, was detained and put on trial in 2006 after a woman accused him of rape. After sentencing, he was transferred from a local jail to US custody while his case was on appeal.

When a Filipino judge initially ordered that Smith be detained in a suburban Manila jail, the US government temporarily suspended joint, large-scale military exercises in protest. Washingon agreed to proceed with the annual Balikatan war exercises with the Philippines only after Smith had been transferred to the embassy.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo backed the US position and said Smith’s embassy detention was necessary to avoid complications in relations with its key ally.

A provision in the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement states that any accused US service member shall remain in American custody until all judicial proceedings are exhausted.

But there are differing interpretations of when that is. The Filipino woman’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, and the left-wing alliance Bayan claim Smith should be serving his sentence in a Philippine jail, regardless of his appeal.

Smith’s lawyer, Jose Justiniano, said he explained the implications of the decision to his client. He said Smith has no choice but to comply. (AP)(Sunstar)

Tagumpay ng student-bloggers at malayang pamamahayag

February 6, 2009

Anthony Ian Cruz

MATAPOS magreklamo ang ilang magulang, pinigilan na ng panrehiyong tanggapan ng Department of Education-National Capital Region ang parusang sampung araw na suspensyon na ipinataw kamakailan sa apat na estudyante ng Quezon City Science High School (QCSHS).

Nakatakda sanang ipatupad ang suspensyon sa mga estudyante simula ngayong Lunes, Enero 19, bilang parusa sa mga sinulat na artikulo sa kanilang mga blog na tumutuligsa kay Dr. Zenaida Panti Sadsad, punong-guro ng paaralan.

Ipinaliwanag ni DepEd NCR director Teresita Dimalanta sa GMA News
noong Biyernes na pinigilan ng ahensya ang suspensyon para
bigyang-daan ang kanilang sariling imbestigasyon.

May pag-apruba ng DepEd?

Sa isang panayam, sinabi ng isa sa apat na estudyante sa sila ay
sinuspinde sa utos mismo ni Dr. Sadsad, at may pag-apruba ito ng pamunuan ng DepEd sa dibisyon ng Quezon City.

Ayon sa estudyante, pinarusahan siya dahil sa pagtuligsa niya sa
kanyang blog sa pamamaraan ng pagtuturo ng ilang guro, at sa pagpahayag ng panawagan ng maraming mag-aaral na tanggalin na sa puwesto si Dr. Sadsad.

Ang blog ng nasabing estudyante ay “for private reading” sa at mababasa lamang ng kanyang mga kaibigan.

Nagsimula ang mga protesta at pagtuligsa ng mga estudyante noong
Setyembre 2008 matapos diumano’y pigilan ni Sadsad ang tradisyunal na isang linggong pagdiriwang ng anibersaryo ng QCSHS.

Biglaan din diumanong tinanggal ni Sadsad ang buong staff ng mga
pahayagang Electron at Banyuhay noong Hunyo 2008 at pinalitan ang
gurong tagapayong si G. Rex San Diego.

Kinondena din ng estudyante ang balitang panunuhol kay Sadsad mula sa pamilya ng isang estudyanteng di pumasa sa entrance examinations ng QCSHS.

‘Wala sa student handbook’

Ayon sa ama ng biktima, ang sinasabing mga paglabag na ibinibintang sa kanyang anak ay wala saanman sa student handbook ng paaralan. Kinondena din niya ang di pagrespeto ng administrasyon sa karapatan ng kanyang anak sa due process.

Para naman sa kanyang ina, itutuloy ng kanilang pamilya ang paglaban sa administrasyon.

Ayon sa kanila, haharap ang apat na estudyante, mga kapwa magulang at alumni sa isang press conference sa Martes sa Quezon City.

Ayon sa ina ng biktima, nagmura si Sadsad sa unang pulong na pinatawag ng punong-guro noong isang taon. Ginamit din umano ni Sadsad ang mga printout ng blogs sa paghampas sa mesa sa harap ng mga magulang na kanyang inimbitahan sa QCSHS.

Dinagdag pa ng ina na matapos pumutok ang balita sa midya, nagpadala na ng “feelers” si Sadsad na iuurong na ang suspensyon kung hihingi ng tawad ang kanyang anak at mangangakong hindi na muli susulat ng panunuligsa sa kanyang administrasyon.

Sinubukan ng Pinoy Weekly na kunin ang panig ni Sadsad ngunit hindi ito makontak.

Suporta sa mga estudyante

Mula sa London, Gran Britanya, nanawagan si QCSHS alumnus Rafael
Joseph Maramag sa isang bukas na liham sa lokal na pamahalaan ng
Quezon City at sa DepEd na imbestigahan si Sadsad, sa halip na ang mga estudyante.

Ayon kay Maramag, “sa kanyang lantarang pag-abuso sa kapangyarihan, si Sadsad pa nga ang dapat suspindihin o kaya ay ipatapon mula sa paaralan.”

Nagpahayag naman ang College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) ng pagsuporta sa apat na estudyante at hinamon ang QCSHS at DepEd na respetuhin ang konstitusyunal na karapatan ng mga estudyante sa
malayang pamamahayag.

Ayon kay Vijae Alquisola, pangulo ng CEGP,  dapat ikonsidera ng DepEd ang mga epektong emosyonal, sosyal at sikolohikal ng naunsyaming suspensyon sa mga estudyante.

(Si Anthony Ian Cruz ay isang freelance journalist at blogger. Bumisita sa
kanyang blog sa

Sanhi’t lunas sa katiwalian

February 6, 2009

Jeffrey Ocampo

Sayaw kontra sa katiwalian

Sayaw nina Lito Kamahalan at Marili Ilagan ng Tag-ani Performing Arts Society na sumisimbolo ng panata laban sa kultura ng korupsiyon ng mga nagsipaglahok sa kumperensiyang CenPEG. (Photo Courtesy of CenPEG)

HINDI na nga marahil kalabisan na sabihing talamak ang katiwalian sa pamahalaan. Sa mga pag-aaral, lumalabas na ang pamahalaang Arroyo ang pinakatiwali sa Silangang Asya at isa sa pinakatiwali sa buong mundo. Kabi-kabila ang pagsisiwalat ng iba’t ibang indibiduwal at puwersa ng oposisyon ng mga kaso ng katiwalian ng pamahalaan. Laman din ng balita sa telebisyon, radyo at mga pahayagan ang mga pagbubunyag na ito.

Kaya hindi nakapagtataka na kung saan mang dako o sulok mayroong Pilipino, mayroong huntahan hinggil sa katiwalian sa pamahalaan. Andiyan nang pinag-uusapan ang fertilizer scam sa sabungan; Cyber Education Project bago, habang at pagkatapos ng klase; North Rail Rehabilitation Project sa inuman ng mga negosyante; ang National Broadband Deal sa lingguhang tipunan ng mga migrante sa Hong Kong.

Sa National Study Conference on Corruptionary: An Innovative Cultural Tool for Good Governance na ginanap noon lamang Disyembre 2008, inugat ang sanhi ng katiwalian, sinuri ang sistema kung saan ito namumugad, at ang mungkahing mga programa na maaaring magwakas sa kalakarang ito.

Proyekto ng Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg), sa pakikipagtulungan sa National Commmission for Culture and the Arts, tagumpay itong nailunsad at nakapagbalangkas ng mga hakbang para malutas ang problema ng katiwalian sa bansa. Kabilang sa mga tagapagsalita si dating Bise Presidente Teofisto Guingona Jr., sina Prop. Alice Guillermo at Prop. Roland Tolentino, si Jun Lozada at marami pang iba mula sa iba’t ibang makabayang mga organisasyon, mga grupo at miyembro ng simbahang Katoliko.

Kultura ng katiwalian’

Tila bahagi na ng panlipunang kalakaran ang katiwalian.

Ayon kay Temario Rivera ng CenPeg, ang katiwalian sa bansa ay isa nang suliranin na maiuugat sa mismong sistema at istruktura ng pamahalaan at “mauunawaan lamang at matutugunan kung titingnan sa konteksto ng panlipunan, pang-ekonomiko at pulitikal na mga kalakaran at institusyon na nagsusustina nito.” Ibig sabihin, sa mismong uri ng panlipunang kaayusan – noon at hanggang ngayon – namumugad at umaalagwa ang katiwalian.

Itinukoy naman ni Prop. Guillermo ang kalakarang ito bilang “burukrata kapitalismo” o ang “paggamit ng katayuan sa pamahalaan para sa ilegal na pagkamal ng salapi at masiguro ang pananatili sa kapangyarihan.” Aniya, itinuturing na pagpapatakbo ng isang korporasyon ang pagpapalakad sa pamahalaan na ang pangunahing layunin ay ang “personal na ganansiya.”

Ang mas nakapangngangalit umano ay habang walang patumangga sa paggastos ang pamahalaan at “pangungulimbat” ang mga opisyal nito, wala namang inilalaan para sa batayang mga pangangailangan ng mga mamamayan tulad ng pagkain, damit at tahanan at mga serbisyong panlipunan tulad ng edukasyon at kalusugan.

Pinakatiwali sa lahat ng tiwali?

Sa pag-aaral ng kilalang mga institusyon, lumalabas na malala ang rekord ng administrasyon ng pangulo sa katiwalian. Ayon sa United Nations Development Program o UNDP noong 2004, umabot sa P100 Bilyon mula sa pambansang badyet para sa unang taon ng pangulo sa puwesto ang nauwi sa bulsa ng matataas na opisyal ng pamahalaan. Batay naman sa pag-aaral ng Tranparency International na nakabase sa London, Great Britain, isa ang Pilipinas sa may pinakatiwaling pamahalaan sa rehiyon ng Asya-Pasipiko samantalang ayon sa World Bank, ito ang may pinakatiwali sa Silangang Asya.

Sa sarbey ng Pulse Asia noong Disyembre 2008, lumabas na si Pang. Arroyo ang pinakatiwali sa naging mga pangulo ng bansa. Binanggit ni Prop. Tolentino na mas masahol pa si Arroyo kay Marcos at Joseph Estrada na pawang napatalsik dahil sa popular na pag-aalsa ng mamamayan na may kaugnayan sa mga kaso ng katiwalian.

Gayundin, mismong ang Office of the Ombudsman ay nagsasabing halos P200-B ang nawawala sa kaban ng bayan taun-taon dahil sa katiwalian.

Laman ng mga reklamong impeachment laban sa pangulo ang mga kaso ng katiwalian na direkta umano siyang sangkot. Nakahanay sa kategoryang graft and corruption at betrayal of public trust, ilan sa mga kaso ng katiwalian na nakasaad sa mga reklamong impeachment ang maanomalyang mga transaksiyon ng pamahalaan sa kompanyang Tsino na Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation (ZTE Corp.) gaya ng National Broadband Network deal (NBN) at Mt. Diwalwal Project. May malaki umanong kickback mula sa overpricing ang napasakamay ng Unang Pamilya at iba pang malalapit na mga opisyal sa pangulo dahil sa mga proyektong ito. Para sa NBN deal, $130 Milyon umano ang pinaghatian ng Unang Ginoo, dating tagapangulo ng Commision on Elections na si Benjamin Abalos at iba pang kaalyado ng pangulo. Samantala, ang $1-B naman mula sa mining deal sa Diwalwal ay ibibigay umano sa iba pang kaalyado ng pangulo na di naambuan ng pera mula sa naunang nabanggit na proyekto.

Niyanig ang administrasyong Arroyo ng kabi-kabilang pagkakabunyag ng mga kaso ng katiwalian. Isa na dito ang pagsisiwalat nina Jose de Venecia III at Lozada dahil sa NBN-ZTE deal.

Nito namang nakaraang Disyembre, sumalang ang dating undersecretary ng Kagawaran ng Agrikultura na si Jocelyn “Joc Joc” Bolante sa pagdinig sa Senado dahil sa P728-M fertilizer scam.

Samantala, nakikita ng mga kritiko ng pangulo na ang maniobra sa Mababang Kapulungan para mailusot ang panukalang pagbabago sa Saligang Batas o charter change ay isang hakbangin upang pahabain ang termino ng pangulo. Sa ganitong paraan, maililigtas niya ang kanyang sarili sa mga kasong magkukulong sa kanya sa bilanguan sa oras na wala na siya sa kapangyarihan.

May magagawa pa ba?

Ayon sa statement ng nasabing kumperensiya: “Sumasahol ang katiwalian hindi lamang dahil sa kawalan ng sistema ng transparency at accountability para sa mga tiwali ngunit sa dahilan ding ang pangunahing mga institusyon na dapat tupdin ang kanilang tungkuling maging mapagbantay (gaya ng Kongreso at mga saray ng Hudikatura) ay nabigo o naging tiwali na rin.”

Gayundin, ayon kay Rivera, ang mahabang kasaysayan ng dominasyon ng mga “elite” sa “pang-ekomikong istruktura” at “pulitikal na institusyon” ay nagbigay-daan upang maligtas ang mga ito sa kanilang mga pananagutan gaano man kalaki o kabigat ang mga kasong kinasangkutan nila.

Marami ding nagsasabi na bagamat may mga batas para sugpuin ang katiwalian gaya ng Republic Act (RA) 3019 o Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Law at RA 7080 o Anti-Plunder Law, hindi mapagpasyang naipatutupad ang mga ito at nagagamit laban sa mga tiwaling opisyal sa “iba’t ibang kadahilanan.”

Ayon pa rin na nasabing pahayag: “Sa napakahabang panahon, binaluktot ng katiwalian ng ating moral at nakapaglikha ng isang subculture na nagawang malaganap at katanggap-tangap ang katiwalian.”

Bagamat ganito na kasahol ang kalagayan, hindi pa huli ang lahat. Ayon kay Guingona: “Kailangan natin ng pagbabago, isang pagbabago para sa nakabubuti. Kailangan nating magkaroon ng mabubuti at matatapat na mga mamamayan at tagapamuno.”

Anila, ang katiwalian ay isang “panlipunan at pulitikal na kanser” na kailangan sugpuin sa kagyat ng mga mamamayan.

Tungkulin ng bawat sektor

Para naman kay Prop. Bobby Tuazon, Director for Policy ng CenPeg, kailangan ng “kultura ng pagtugon at pakikisangkot” upang tapatan, tungaliin at wakasan ang kultura ng katiwalian.

Dagdag pa, bawat “susing sektor” ng lipunan ay may kani-kaniyang tungkulin sa paglutas sa problema ng katiwalian.

Ang sektor ng edukasyon umano ay kailangang maging institusyong sinusuportahan ng pamahalaan para sa pag-unlad na kabataan at muling pagpapatibay ng patriyotismo. Samantala, ang sektor ng midya ay may malaki umanong tungkulin sa “pagbubunyag ng katotohanan, pag-iimbestiga sa mga kaso ng katiwalian at iba pang iregularidad sa pamahalaan at pagpapalaganap ng konsepto ng makabayang pamamahala.”

Ang kultural na sektor naman ay dapat magpatimo sa taumbayan ng “pangkulturang kamalayan sa laban sa katiwalian.”

Maging ang mga malalaking negosyante at mga abogado ay may magagawa rin.

Sa pamamagitan ng pananawagan para sa mabuting pamamahala at “pagtatakwil sa katiwalian bilang pamamaraan para magkamal ng kita” makakatulong ang malalaking negosyante. Hinikayat din ng pahayag na gamitin ang kanilang negosyo para sa “tunay na paglago ng ekonomiya at sa kagalingan ng taumbayan.”

Ang mga abogado, sa kabilang banda, ay makakatulong sa “pagpapatibay ng rule of law habang isinusulong ang panlipunan, pang-ekonomya, kultural at demokratikong mga karapatan ng mga tao na magtitiyak ng isang pantay at makatarungang lipunan.”

Pinakahuli, anila, ay ang tungkuling gagampanan ng makabayang mga organisasyon at ng buong sambayanan sa “pag-uugnay ng kampanya laban sa katiwalian sa pagtatayo ng mahusay na pamahalaan” kung saan taumbayan ang laging inaalala sa paggawa at pagpapatupad ng mga batas at polisiya.

Sa ganitong paraan umano maaaring tugunan ng mga mamamayan ang problema sa katiwalian sa bansa. Kailangan din umano, higit sa lahat, ng kolektibo, malawakan at mapagpasyang mga pagkilos laban dito.

Ngunit sa huli, dahil sa mismong sistema nabubuhay ang katiwalian, maaaring sabihin na kailangang na ngang palitan ang buong istruktura nito. Pagpapalalim ni Propesor Guillermo, naabot na ng katiwalian sa bansa ang “isang kritikal na yugto” na sa kasalukuyan ay kailangan na ng “panlipunang pagbabago” upang lunasan ito.

At mismong taumbayan ang magsasakatuparan nito.(PinoyWeekly)

Ang napapala ng mga ‘subersibo’ posted 27-Jan-2009

February 6, 2009

Jeffrey Ocampo

Ikonikong butones sa kampanya para kay Prop. Raymundo (Kuha ni Rommel Rodriguez)

SA ISANG unibersidad na nakilala sa “liberal” na tradisyon, ang naiuulat na mga kaso ng “panunupil” sa kaguruan at mga mag-aaral nito ay lubhang nakababahala.

Ngunit kung susuriin ang huling mga kaganapan, ang animo’y palaisipan ay malalantad bilang kabalintunaan ng kontemporaryong postura ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP). Ayon sa mga progresibo sa loob ng pamantasan, tinutungo na nito ang isang “neoliberal” na landasin. Anila, dulot nito’y pagkakait ng edukasyong UP sa mga maralita at pagsisilbi ng pamantasan sa dayuhan at pribadong mga entidad. Tila tuluyan na itong nagbabalik sa orihinal na oryentasyon ng pamantasan nang itaguyod ito ng mga Amerikano sa unang dekada ng 1900.

At ang mga tutunggali sa tunguhing ito – guro, mag-aaral, iba pang bahagi ng komunidad – ay may lohikal na kahihinatnan.

Maaaring sabihin na ang partikular na kaso ng biglaang pagtanggi ng tenure sa katuwang na propesor ng Departamento ng Sosyolohiya ng Kolehiyo ng Agham Panlipunan at Pilosopiya (KAPP) na si Sarah Raymundo ay isang halimbawa nito.

Nobyembre 6 ng nakaraang taon, verbal na ipinaabot ni Dr. Clemen Bautista, tagapangulo ng departamento, ang pasya ng tenured na kaguruan na hindi nito inapruba ang aplikasyon ng propesor para sa tenure. Mahigit isang taon na itong nakabinbin habang mabilis lamang sana itong maipagkakaloob sa isang propesor na nasapatan – o nahigitan pa nga – ang mga rekisito sa pagkakamit nito.

Bukod dito, hindi na raw niya kailangang pasukan ang mga klaseng itinalaga sa kanya pagpasok ng ikalawang semestre. Ibig sabihin, sa Mayo 31 na mawawalan ng bisa ang kontrata sa pamantasan.

Pulitika sa likod ng pasya

Ayon sa mga ulat, hindi man lamang ipinaliwanag ni Dr. Bautista kay Prop. Raymundo ang dahilan ng “pagkakait” sa kanya ng tenure at ng biglaang pagkakatanggal sa kanya sa trabahong pinagbusan niya ng husay at sikhay sa loob ng halos 10 taon.

Kung hihimayin ang rekord ni Prop. Raymundo, makikitang karapat-dapat siyang magawaran ng tenure: tapos ng masterado, nakapaglathala ng maraming sulatin na nakapag-ambag sa pagpapaunlad ng displina at naging tagapagsalita sa lokal at internasyunal na mga kumperensiya. Bukod dito, laging mataas ang gradong kanyang nakukuha sa ebalwasyon ng mga estudyante.

Tahimik magpasahanggang ngayon si Bautista at ang departamento hinggil sa tunay na dahilan ng pagtanggi nila ng tenure kay Prop. Raymundo. Ayon lamang sa departamento, nagkagawa si Prop. Raymundo ng “bridge of professional ethics.” Ngunit batay sa internal na mga diskusyon sa pagitan ng mga propesor ng Sosyolohiya na sumingaw sa publiko, kaugnay daw ito ng pakikisangkot ni Prop. Raymundo sa kampanya para sa dalawang mag-aaral ng UP na dinukot umano ng militar noong 2006 na sina Karen Empeño at Sherlyn Cadapan. Si Empeño, na nag-aral ng Sosyolohiya, ay naging estudyante mismo ni Prop. Raymundo.

Sa pagsusuri All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU), pulitika ang dahilan ng pagkakait ng tenure at pagkakasisante kay Prop. Raymundo. Batay naman sa obserbasyon ng marami, bagama’t biglaan ang pagpapaabot sa propesor, matagal nang binabalak ng ilang propesor sa departamento ang pagtanggal sa kanya dahil sa kanyang mga paninindigang malaki ang kaibhan sa kanila.

Ayon sa AUPAEU, hindi nagpapakulong si Prop. Raymundo sa apat na sulok ng teorya at inilalapat ito sa kongkretong kalagayan na dinudulot ng panlipunang kaayusan.

Manipestasyon umano nito ang masikhay niyang pagkilos sa mga organisasyon para sa kagalingan ng pamantasan at ng buong sambayanan. Siya ang pangkalahatang kalihim ng Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy – UP (Contend-UP), isang makabayang samahan ng mga guro sa UP. Bukod dito, siya rin ang pambansang ingat-yaman ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers at kasapi ng AUPAEU. Masipag din siyang mananaliksik ng Karapatan, isang grupong nagsisiyasat sa mga kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa bansa.

Ayon sa mga tagasuporta niya, malinaw na walang batayan ang pagsisante kay Prop. Raymundo.

Dahil din sa may pahayag ang departamento na ikokonsulta nila ang kaso sa Legal Office ng pamantasan, may hinala ang marami na may iba pang habla na isasampa laban kay Prop. Raymundo upang pabigatin ang kaso niya.

Magkaganito man, sinasabing tanging akademikong mga rekisito lamang ang dapat sandigan sa pagagawad ng tenure. Ngunit paliwang ng departamento, sila, higit sinuman, ang magpapasya kung gagawaran o hindi ng tenure ang isang propesor sa ilalim nito.

Matapos makapagsumite ng dalawang pormal na liham na inaalam ang dahilan ng pagtanggal sa trabaho, wala pang tugon na natatanggap si Prop Raymundo. Hinala tuloy ng marami, “delaying tactic” ito upang umabot hanggang katapusan ng Mayo ang usapin nang sa gayon ay magkaroon ng katangap-tanggap na dahilan ang mga kaganapan.

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ng AUPAEU na “nakakagalit na sentenaryong taon ng kagalingan ng serbisyo ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, may magaganap na malaking kaso ng pagyurak sa karapatan ng kanyang mahuhusay na guro at iskolar.”


Ayon sa kanyang kapwa-guro na si Prop. Arnold Alamon, sinasalamin ng pangyayari ang “kalagayan ng sosyolohiya” sa pamantasan. Malamang, aniya, na ang “tipo ng sosyolohiya” (kritikal at higit sa lahat ay progresibo) na kanyang itinataguyod at isinasabuhay ang naging dahilan ng kanyang kinahinatnan. Dagdag ng propesor, isang “purge” ang naganap habang tinatalikdan ng departamento ang “mapagpalayang panambitan ng disiplina [ng Sosyolohiya]”.

Inihahalintulad naman ng marami ang kaganapang ito sa McCarthyistang panunugis noong dekada 50 hanggang 60. (Ang McCarthyismo ay isang doktrina sa Estados Unidos na ipinatupad din sa Pilipinas na nagbabawal ng “anumang pagnanais na magpabagsak ng pamahalaan.”) Sa ilalim ng Committee on Un-Filipino Activities (na kalauna’y naging Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities), binansagang “subersibo” at tinugis ang mga progresibo at makabayang mga guro na nagsusulong ng mga radikal na ideya at nakikisangkot sa makabayang kilusan. Ilan sa mga ito sa mga propesor sa UP na pinaratangang subersibo ay sina Leopoldo Yabes, Jose Lansang, Petronilo Daroy at ang noo’y batang guro sa Departamento ng Wikang Ingles na si Prop. Jose Ma. Sison.

Kung babalikan ang kasaysayan, napakarami pang progresibong mga propesor ng UP ang sinupil ng pamahalaan at ng mismong pamantasan. Itinuturing na banta ang talas ng kanilang isip at ang kanilang pagnanais na mabago kung anumang mali sa sistema.


Buo naman ang suporta kay Prop. Raymundo ng kanyang mga estudyante, noon at ngayon, gayundin ang mga guro sa loob ng UP at maging sa Estados Unidos. Binuo ang isang blog upang ikampanya ang “hustisya” para sa propesor. Nakalimbag dito ang mga sulatin ng tunay na mga nakakikilala kay Prop. Raymundo. Mayroon ding petisyon kung saan maaaring pumirma ang mga mag-aaral at kaguruan ng UP.

Sa isang bukas na liham, sinabi ng mga guro mula sa Estados Unidos na “hindi makatarungan at hindi nararapat” ang pasya kaya hinihimok nila ang tagapangulo ng departamento at ang dekano ng KAPP na si Dr. Zozimo Lee na ipagkaloob kay Prop Raymundo ang tenure. Pinuri ng mga ito ang “matalas at kahanga-hanga” na mga sulatin ni Prop. Raymundo na kinikilala rin sa ibang bansa. Kabilang sa mga propesor na ito ay sina Dr. Jonathan Beller ng Pratt Intitute sa New York, Dr. Neferti Tadiar ng Columbia University, at Dr. Francisco Benitez ng University of Washington.

Malaki namang hamon para sa Contend, AUPAEU, sumusuportang kapwa mga guro sa loob at labas ng departmento ng Sosyolohiya at mga estudyanteng naniniwala na walang batayan ang pagkakasisante kay Prop Raymundo na maipagtagumpay ang labang ito. Maaari umanong maging hudyat ito ng panunugis sa mga gurong may progresibong kaisipan kung hindi ito maagapan, mailalantad at matutunggali. Kailangan ding lumantad ang iba pang mga propesor sa departamento na nakaranas din ng mga katulad na panggigipit at panunupil.

Sa kasalukuyan, tuloy sa kanyang pagpasok sa klase si Prop. Raymundo at sa pagtugon sa mga gawain sa makabayang mga organisasyon na kanyang kinaaaniban.

Bagama’t ganito nga ang napapala ng mga “subersibo,” di siya nagpapatinag sa mga tangkang supilin ang gurong makabayan katulad niya.(PinoyWeekly)

Tunay na reporma sa lupa: hindi suntok sa buwan

February 6, 2009

Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano

Desididong ipagtagumpay ang laban para sa tunay na repormang agraryo. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Rali ng mga magsasaka noong Enero 20: Desididong ipagtagumpay ang laban para sa tunay na repormang agraryo. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

HINDI miminsang tinanong si Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano kung seryoso sila sa pagtutulak na isabatas ang House Bill 3059 o Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

Dahil sa umano’y kabiguan ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) na ipamahagi ang mga lupain ng bansa sa mga magsasaka, idinisenyo ang GARB ng progresibong mga party-list kasama ng militanteng mga samahang magsasaka. Inihain nila sa Kongreso, noong 2007, ang panukalang batas na umano’y “kumakatawan sa di-kumukupas na adhikain para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.”

Noong Hunyo 2008, nagtapos ang CARP. Sinimulan ng gobyernong Aquino 20 taon na ang nakakaraan para tugunan ang demokratikong panawagan ng kilusang masang nagpatalsik sa diktadura, nagtapos ito nang nananatiling konsentrado pa rin ang mga lupain ng bansa sa kamay ng iilang panginoong-maylupa.

Marami sa mga panginoong maylupang ito, matatagpuan mismo sa loob ng Kongreso, gaya ng mga Arroyo na malalawak ang lupain sa Negros Occidental. Kaya naman nang mapresyur ang mga kongresista na palawigin ang CARP na kapos pa sa target nitong mga lupaing dapat ipamahagi, ipinasa nila ang Joint Resolution 19 o anim na buwang ekstensiyon ng programa.(Basahin ang kaugnay na artikulo)

Inulan ng batikos ang Joint Resolution 19 dahil tinanggal sa CARP ang complusory land acquisition o sapilitang pagbawi ng lupa, at ginawa na lamang itong boluntaryo. Hindi rin maaaring amyendahan ang batas ng isang resolusyon lamang. Kalaunan, ibinasura na rin ng Kongreso ang House Bill 4077 o CARP Extension With Reforms na itinutulak naman ng ilan.

Pero hindi na lamang hahayaan ng mga magsasaka na tuluyang makalimutan ang kanilang problema sa kawalan ng lupa. Ngayong “patay na” ang huwad na CARP, ayon kay Rep. Mariano, panahon nang maipakilala ang GARB na isang radikal na programa para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.

“Seryoso, pursigido, at ubos-kaya” nila itong itutulak na maisabatas, tawagin mang suntok sa buwan ng karamihan.

Layunin ng GARB

Matayog ang mga layunin ng GARB. Kabilang rito ang pagbasag sa monopolyo sa lupa ng iilang panginoong maylupa at dayuhang kompanya; pagwasak ng piyudal at mala-piyudal na pagsasamantala sa kanayunan; pairalin ang mga kooperatiba para sa pagpapataas ng produktibidad ng benepisyaryong magsasaka; at paunlarin ang agrikultura ng bansa bilang salalayan ng pambansang industriyalisasyon.

Sa GARB, ipapamahagi nang libre ang lahat ng mga lupaing agrikultural ng bansa sa mga magsasaka. Ito umano ang pinakamalaking pagkakaiba nito sa CARP, na maraming mga eksempsiyon na nagagamit ng mga panginoong maylupa at negosyante para patuloy na kontrolin ang mga lupain at agawin ang mga ito sa mga magsasaka.

Saklaw ng GARB ang mga pribadong lupain gaya ng malalaking asyenda, plantasyon ng mga korporasyong transnasyunal, lupaing pang-aquaculture, at mga lupaing nakatiwangwang. Saklaw din nito ang mga pampublikong lupain gaya ng mga lupaing idineklara ng gobyerno para sa gamit komersiyal, residensyal, at industriyal, reserbasyong militar, eryang panturismo, lupaing mineral, at special economic zones.

Wala rin sa GARB ang mga iskemang alternatibo gaya ng stock distribution option, leaseback, joint venture, corporative scheme, at farm management contract na mayroon ang CARP at ginamit para hadlangan ang aktuwal na pamamahagi ng lupa sa mga magsasaka. Sa ilalim ng GARB, hindi rin pagbabayarin ang mga magsasaka ng amortisasyon sa lupa, na sa ilalim ng CARP ay naging dahilan para mabawi ito sa kanila.

GARB, inaasam-asam

Inaasam-asam ng 72-anyos na si Rufina Nolasco ng Brgy. Balibag, Calatagan, Batangas, ang araw na mapapasakanilang muli ang lupain na sinaka ng kanila pang mga ninuno. Kasama si Nanay Rufina, tagapangulo ng Samahan ng Ugnayan ng Mangingisda at Magsasaka sa Calatagan, sa mga magsasakang bumiyahe sa Maynila para sa kilos-protesta noong Enero 22.

Ginunita ng mga magsasaka, sa pangunguna ng Kilusang Magubukid ng Pilipinas, ang ika-22 anibersaryo ng Mendiola Massacre kung saan 13 magsasaka ang namatay sa isang marahas na dispersal sa kilos-protestang nananawagan ng tunay na reporma sa lupa. Kasabay nito, iginiit ng grupo ang pagsasabatas ng GARB.

“Walang kagutuman noong nasa mga tao pa ang lupa,” wika ni Nanay Rufina, na kagaya ng libu-libo pa sa 16 barangay sa Calatagan ay itinaboy sa lupaing binakuran at patuloy na inaangkin ng pamilyang Zobel de Ayala, sa kabila ng dalawang desisyon ng Korte Suprema na pabor sa mga magsasaka. Maya’t maya ang banta ng demolisyon sa kanilang mga tahanan. Iginigiit pa nila maging ang pananatili sa laylayan ng kanilang dating mga sakahan.

Walang naramdamang tunay na reporma sa lupa sa nakaraang 20 taon, aniya. “Ito (GARB) ang tunay na maglilingkod sa mga magsasaka, dahil ipapamahagi nang libre ang lupa. Kaiba sa CARP, na ginagamit lamang para bawiin ang lupa mula sa mga magsasaka,” aniya.

Bunuan sa Kongreso

Noong Enero 21, inikot ng mga lider ng Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) ang mga opisina ng mga kongresista para ikampanya ang GARB. Hindi sila pinansin at tinarayan pa sila ng iba. “Busy ako,” sabi umano sa kanila ni Rep. Elpidio Barzaga ng pangalawang distrito ng Cavite. Ang iba naman, gaya ni Rep. Justin Chipeco ng pangalawang distrito ng Laguna, nagsabing mas pabor siya sa ekstensiyon ng CARP kung ipananatili rito ang compulsory land acquisition.

Pinaunlakan naman sila ni House Speaker Prospero Nograles. Pero hindi siya nangakong susuportahan ang GARB at nagpahayag ng pagkiling sa pagreporma na lamang sa CARP. Sinabihan niya ang mga magsasaka na mag-lobby sa mga miyembro ng House Committee on Agrarian Reform. Pinangungunahan ang komite ni Akbayan Rep. Risa Baraquel Hontiveros, na may-akda namang ng HB 4077. “Kung ano ang committee report, ‘yun ang susuportahan ko,” aniya.

Gayunpaman, bukas umano siya sa debate hinggil sa GARB.

Para kay Rep. Mariano, makarating lamang sa plenaryo ang GARB, malaking tagumpay na para sa mga magsasakang nais ibalik sa pambansang usapin ang pangangailangan para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, lalo sa gitna ng pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya.

“Ang pagpapatupad ng tunay na reporma sa lupa ang magiging dahilan at daan sa pagkakaroon ng mas maunlad na agrikultura at mas matatag na pambansang ekonomiya na magiging pansalag sa mga bayo ng pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya,” ayon sa mambabatas.

Sama-samang pagkilos

Sa pakikipagdiyalogo pa lamang sa mga kongresista at kay Nograles, ramdam na ni Imelda Lacandazo, tagapangulo ng Kasama-TK, na hindi magiging madali ang pakikipagbunuan para maipasa ng Kongreso ang GARB. Pero isa lamang umano ang pagsusulong ng GARB sa mga porma ng malaon nang pakikipaglaban ng mga magsasaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.

“Tuluy-tuloy ang sama-samang pagkilos ng mga magsasaka. Natuto na ang mga magsasaka sa hakbang-hakbang na tunay na reporma sa lupa na sila mismo ang nagpapatupad,” aniya.

Inihalimbawa niya ang 2,800 ektarya sa Brgy. Macabud, Montalban, Rizal na ngayo’y kolektibong sinasaka ng mga magsasaka sa kabila ng tangkang land use conversion o pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa tungo sa golf courses at pabahay na pagmamay-ari ng pamilyang Ayala at Lopez.

Daan-daang magsasaka sa 1,700 ektaryang Hacienda Looc sa Nasugbu, Batangas, ang nakapanatili sa kanilang mga lupain sa kabila ng pagkansela ng kanilang mga Certificate of Land Ownership Award sa ilalim ng CARP at paninibasib ng mga kompanyang nais gamitin ang lupa para sa turismo.

Gayundin, sa Mamburao, Mindoro Occidental, hindi na nagbubuwis ang mga magsasaka sa may-ari ng isang 600-ektaryang lupain. Dati-rati, aabot sa 12 kaban ng palay kada ektarya at 60 porsiyento ng ani sa mangga ang kanilang ibinabayad sa panginoong maylupa na si Rodrigo Quintos.

Samantala, sa Hacienda Luisita ng pamilyang Cojuangco sa Tarlac, isa sa pinakamatingkad na halimbawa ng kabiguan ng CARP at lunsaran ng pakikibakang magsasaka na lumundo sa isang masaker noong 2004, may 1,800 ektarya na ang kolektibong tinatamnan ng mga magsasaka.

“Sa pamamagitan ng pag-oorganisa at sama-samang pagkilos, ‘yung hindi kayang ibigay na lupa ng gobyerno at mga kapitalista, kayang bawiin ng mga magsasaka. Ito ang tunay na diwa ng tunay na reporma sa lupa,” sabi naman ni Lita Mariano, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, grupong kabilang din sa mga nagsusulong ng GARB.

Kaya’t maaaring suntok sa buwan ang pagsasabatas ng GARB – pero hindi ang pagkamit ng mga magsasaka sa tunay na reporma sa lupa.(PinoyWeekly)

P250-M pondo para OFW dapat isiwalat

February 5, 2009

Soliman A. Santos

Hiniling ng Migrante-Middle East sa gobyernong Arroyo na isiwalat kung sino ang makikinabang sa P250-M Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund na nagmula sa pondo ng OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration).

“Nais naming linawin sa administrasyong Arroyo kung sino ang makikinabang sa pondong ito, para makasiguro na ang pera ay mapupunta sa dapat nitong puntahan at hindi sa bulsa ng kurakot na mga opisyal,” ayon kay John Leonard Monterona, tagapag-ugnay ng Migrante-ME.

Ipinaliwanag pa ni Monterona na ang mga OFW ang tunay na may-ari ng pondo ng OWWA na kompulsrayong nagbabayad ng US$25 na membership fee. “Kaya karapatan ng mga OFW na malaman kung saan gagastusin ang pondong ito,” sabi niya.

Matatandaang pinirmahan ni Pangulong Arroyo ang Administrative Order No. 248 noong Disyembre 4, 2008 para bigyan ng kabuhayan ang umuwing mga OFW dahil sa pandaigdigang krisis pampinansya.

Ayon sa Migrante International, ilang OFW na pinauwi mula Taiwan ang inimbitahan ng Malakanyang noong nakaraang Disyembre at binigyan ng tseke. Gayunman, agad umano itong binawi matapos silang makuhanan ng litrato kasama ni Pangulong Arroyo.

Ani Monterona, niloko lamang ng gobyerno ang mga OFW para sa publisidad. Dagdag insulto rin umano ito sa nararamdaman ng napauwing mga OFW.

Nagbabala pa si Monterona na babantayan nila, kasama ng kanilang mga tsapter sa buong mundo ang pondo ng OWWA na gagastusin ng gobyernong Arroyo.

“Sa pagkakataong ito, gusto naming makasiguro na ang P250 milyong ito ay hindi mapupunta sa mga kurakot na opisyal ng administrasyong Arroyo,” ani Monterona.(PinoyWeekly)

Konteksto: Pagtuturo’t paggamit ng droga

February 4, 2009

Danilo Araña Arao

KUNG masusunod ang Commission on Higher Education (CHED), ang buwan ng Pebrero ang simula ng random drug testing sa mga nagtuturo sa kolehiyo’t unibersidad.

Aaminin kong bilang guro sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP), magkahalong pagkabahala’t pagkainis ang naramdaman ko nang mabasa ko ang balita sa noong Enero 27 na pinamagatang Professors to undergo drug test.”

Pagkabahala ang aking naramdaman hindi dahil may itinatago ako – alam naman ng malalapit na kaibiga’t kakilala na wala akong bisyo sa katawan! – kundi dahil ipinapakita ng ”solusyon” ng pamahalaan ang kawalan ng matino’t malalimang pagsusuri sa pagkalat ng ilegal na droga sa bansa.

Samantala, ang aking pagkainis ay dahil sa ”espesyal” na atensiyong ibinibigay ngayon sa mga gurong katulad ko. Ano ba ang pagkakaiba ng sektor ng edukasyon sa iba pa? Talamak ba ang paggamit ng droga sa propesyon ng pagtuturo kaya kailangan nang isailalim sa random drug testing ang mga guro? Maipapakita ba sa pamamagitan ng masusing pag-aaral ang koneksiyon ng pagtuturo sa pagkalulong sa droga?

Maraming tanong na kailangang sagutin, pero ang tanging katwiran lang ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ay bahagi ito ng isang malawakang kampanya. Ang drug testing diumano ay paraan ng pag-iwas (preventive measure) sa paggamit ng ilegal na droga.

Madaling ikatwiran ng mga nasa kapangyarihan na wala namang dapat ikabahala ang mga walang itinatago, at ang mga tutol lang sa random drug testing ay ang mga gumagamit ng ilegal na droga. Sa isang normal na sitwasyong ang mga pulis at iba pang opisyal ng pamahalaan ay may tiwala ng mamamayan, siguro’y hindi masyadong aalma ang karamihan at baka nga boluntaryo pa nilang ibigay ang mahahalagang impormasyong kailangang malaman.

Pero alam nating lahat na talamak ngayon ang katiwalian sa pamahalaan. Kahit ang kampanya sa pagkapangulo noon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ay pinondohan diumano ng isang drug lord sa Pampanga. Muli, madaling sabihing ”tsismis” lang ang akusasyon laban sa nagbigay ng malaking kontribusyon sa kampanya ni Macapagal-Arroyo. Pero sa konteksto ng napakaraming iskandalong pilit ibinabaon sa limot ng mga nasa kapangyarihan, hindi pa rin maiwasang magduda ng nakararaming mamamayan.

Masusukat lang natin ang kaseryosohan ng pamahalaan sa giyera nito laban sa ilegal na droga kung gagawin nito ang sumusunod:

  1. Magsagawa ng malalimang pag-aaral sa sitwasyon ng narcopolitics sa Pilipinas (kung hindi alam ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ang ibig sabihin ng narcopolitics, baka mainam na pag-aralan muna ang sitwasyon ng underground economy sa Colombia).

  2. Pagawin ng sworn statement ang lahat ng opisyal ng Malakanyang, Senado, Kamara de Representante, Philippine National Police (PNP) at Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na kahit kailan ay hindi sila gumamit o nagtulak ng ilegal na droga at wala silang intensiyong gawin ito sa hinaharap. Kung sakaling sila ay mapatunayang nagsisinungaling, boluntaryo silang magpapakulong at tatanggapin nila ang anumang parusa, gaano man kabigat ito.

  3. Ipakita ang imbentaryo ng mga nakumpiskang ilegal na droga sa mga nagdaang taon. Kung may nawawala sa imbentaryo, kailangang isapubliko ang mga detalye nito.

  4. Siguraduhing mababawasan, kung hindi man tuluyang mawawala, ang smuggling sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng reorganisasyon sa Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority at iba pang ahensiyang may kinalaman sa mga daungan ng bansa. Ang mga opisyal na itatalaga sa mga ahensiyang ito’y dapat na may malinaw na rekord sa paglaban sa katiwalian.

  5. Magbigay ng mataas na pabuya sa kung sinumang makapagbibigay ng ebidensiya laban sa mga drug lord. Kaugnay nito, maaari ding ibigay ang 10 porsiyento ng halaga ng nasamsam na ilegal na droga sa impormante. Ang huli’y dapat na ipasok sa witness protection program (WPP) o pondohan ang pansamantalang pangingibang-bansa para hindi makompromiso ang kanyang buhay.

  6. Hindi dapat makontento ang kapulisan sa pagpapakulong sa mga drug pusher. Mananatiling hindi resolbado ang isang kaso hangga’t hindi natutukoy ang mga supplier ng droga at ang mga opisyal na kasabwat nito (kung mayroon man).

  7. Magsagawa ng malawakang kampanya sa midya, lalo na sa telebisyon, kung paano matutukoy ng isang ordinaryong mamamayan ang isang drug lord o drug pusher at kung paano siya mabilis na makapagsusumbong sa kinauukulan.

  8. Pakilusin ang mga lokal na pamahalaan hanggang sa antas ng baranggay sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng kaukulang insentibo sa mga lugar na may pinakamaraming maipapakulong na drug lord at drug pusher sa loob ng isang taon.

  9. Pabilisin ang paglilitis sa mga kasong may kinalaman sa ilegal na droga sa pamamagitan ng maayos na pagpapatakbo sa mga special court sa lahat ng bahagi ng Pilipinas.

  10. Isailailim sa drug testing ang lahat ng miyembro ng Unang Pamilya para patunayang hindi sila gumagamit ng ilegal na droga. Kumbaga sa wikang Ingles, ang kailangan sa puntong ito ay ”leadership by example.”

Mapapansing ang mga rekomendasyong ito ay nakatutok lang sa mga drug lord at drug pusher. Bagama’t ang paggamit ng droga ng iilang mamamayan ay isang problema, naniniwala akong epektibo itong matutugunan kung mawawalan sila ng suplay. Ang mga nalululong sa ilegal na droga ay masasabing biktima rin ng isang sistemang hinahayaan ang ilegal na kalakaran ng mga nasa kapangyarihan.

Dahil sa kawalan ng komprehensibong programa laban sa ilegal na droga (na kailangang batay sa mga siyentipikong pag-aaral), hindi masisisi ang marami kung iisipin nilang ang isasagawang random drug testing ngayong buwan sa mga eskuwelahan ay hindi kagyat na solusyon, kundi malinaw na pagkukunwari lang ng pamahalaan na may ginagawa ito.

At kung isasakonteksto pa natin sa nangyayaring panunupil ng estado sa batayang karapatan ng mamamayan (lalo na ang malawakang pagpatay sa mga lumalaban sa katiwalian), puwede ring tingnan ang random drug testing bilang isang paraan ng intimidasyon sa mga nasa akademyang patuloy na tumutuligsa sa mga nasa kapangyarihan.

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Larga Vista: Kaso ng Hacienda San Antonio- Sta. Isabel: Patunay na kontra-magsasaka ang CARP

February 4, 2009

Elizabeth Principe

HAYAAN ninyong isalaysay ko ang nangyari sa Hacienda San Antonio- Sta. Isabel (HSA-SI). Malawak na matabang kapatagan ang HSA-IS. Ang 13,085 ektarya nito ay tahanan sa higit na limang libong pamilya ng magsasaka sa mga bayan ng Ilagan, Delfin-Albano, at Quirino sa Isabela. Bago ito inagaw ng mga Kastila, pinagpala ng matabang lupa at ilog ang mga Ibanag na tubo sa lugar. Ngunit nang inagaw ito ng Kastilang Compania de Tabacalera, itinakdang tabako lamang ang itanim, at para matrabaho ang malawak na lugar, kumuha ng mga Ilocano mula rehiyon ng Ilocos, mga kilalang masisipag at batido na sa pagtatanim ng tabako.

Sa kasunduan ng Compania de Tabacalera at kolonyal na gobyerno ng Pilipinas, makaraan ang 100 taon (1882-1982) saka lamang maisasarili ang lupa ng mga magsasaka. Ang tabako na halos taun-taon ay nananalo ng ginto sa internasyunal na mga paligsahan ay bunga ng dugo, pawis, at luha ng mga magsasaka. Dinaya sila ng Tabacalera sa timbangan at klasipikasyon ng tabako; ang kaunting perang kabayaran sa kanila ay kulang na kulang na ipambili ng makakain at iba pang pangangailangan. Latigo at pagpaso ng sigarilyo sa katawan ng magsasaka ang parusa ng tauhan ng Tabacalera kapag nahuli silang nagbenta ng tabako sa negosyante sa mahusay na presyo. Maraming inalila at hinalay na kababaihan na ang pamilya ay may malaking utang o di makabayad ng utang. Sa 100 taon, tiniis ng mga magsasaka ang pagtatanim ng tabako na may pinakamabigat na trabaho sa lahat ng itinatanim na produkto sa bansa.

Ang saya ng mga magsasaka nang magtatapos na ang 100 taon; sa wakas, mapapasakanila na ang lupa na minana pa sa ninuno ang pagbubungkal. Subalit napunas ang galak nang pumasok noong 1979 ang ANCA (kumpanya ni Antonio Carag, isang dummy ni Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.). Sinimulan nang patalsikin ang mga magsasaka para itransporma sa agribusiness ang lugar.

Nagkutsabahan sina Eduardo Cojuanco, Jr. at ang diktador na si Ferdinand Marcos sa plano na agawin ang lupa. Para maipatupad ito, masidhing karahasang militar ang ipinakat ng diktadura, kinordon ng kampo-militar ang maraming baryo. Maraming labanan ang naganap sa pagitan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Constabulary, at New People’s Army. Maraming lider-masa at rebolusyonaryo ang pinatay, tinortyur, ikinulong, hinalay at tinakot; maraming bahay at bukid ang binuldoser. Tinakot, hinaras, at tiniktikan maging ang mga taong-simbahan.

Tumutol at lumaban ang mga magsasaka, sinuportahan sila ng simbahan at ginabayan ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Naganap ang hindi malilimutang pangyayari na hindi nagmisa si Obispo Purungganan sa bisperas ng Pasko bilang protesta sa karahasang militar na ang pinakahuli ay ang pagsalakay sa palasyo ng obispo. Ilang kumpanya ang narekluta ng NPA mula sa lugar. Sa paglaban sa diktadura, dakila ang pakikibaka ng masa na ginanap sa HSA-SI. Malawak ang pagkilos ng masa na legal, mala-legal, at ilegal. Nagrurok ito noong 1982 nang 30,000 magsasaka nga HSA-SI at sa mga paligid pang asyenda ang tumawid ng Ilog Cagayan sa gitna ng gabi para makarating sila kinabukasan sa kapitolyo ng Ilagan para magmartsa. Di alintana ang mga baril ng militar, itinaas nila ang mga plakard na may nakasulat na “Ariin nang Libre ang Lupa.”

Napanday ang malapad na suporta para sa magsasaka sa probinsya, sa bansa at maging sa labas ng bansa; nailantad at naihiwalay naman ang tambalang Marcos-Cojuangco, Jr. hanggang napilitang umatras ang ANCA. Subalit sa halip na ibalik sa magsasaka ang lupa, inagaw ng diktador ang tagumpay, ipinailalim ito sa bogus nitong reporma sa lupa, ang Presidential Decree 27. Nangahulugan ito na magbabayad pa ng amortisasyon ng 15 taon ang mga magsasaka.

Napilitan ang mga magsasaka na mag-amortisa mula 1983. Ngunit nang naging batas noong ika-10 ng Hunyo, 1988 ang Republic Act 6657 o Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, na mas kilala bilang Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, pinag-ulit sa Year 1 ang pagbabayad ng amortisasyon ng 30 taon ng mga magsasaka.

Sa pagdaan ng panahon, may ilan lamang ang tuluy-tuloy na nakapag-amortisa, marami ang di tuluy-tuloy na nakabayad dahil sa taas ng amortisasyon at palaging lugi ang magsasaka sa paglalim ng bagsak sa presyo ng produkto nila gayung walang humpay ang pagtaas ng gastusin sa produksiyon.

Hanggang noong taong 2005, inanunsiyo ng Land Bank of the Philippines na ipo-foreclose na ang buong asyenda sa loob ng dalawa hanggang apat na taon. Dahil marami raw ang hindi nakasunod sa regular na amortisasyon at hindi na “economically feasible,” ayon sa Section 65 ng RA 6657 at Section 20 ng Local Government Code. Damay pati ang iilan na regular na nakapag-amortisa. Saan na napunta ang perang inihulog ng mga regular at di-regular na nag-amortisa?

Kanino na mapupunta ang lupa? Kay Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. Itutuloy niya ang nauntol na pangangamkam noong 1982. Gagawing agribusiness ang lugar, patatamnan ng cassava, at iba pa. Lalong lumayo na mapasamagsasaka ang lupa na pangako ng CARP. Mabuti pa ang pangako na 100 taon ng Tabacalera, tinotoo nilang iniwan ang lugar. Subalit sa bogus, kontra-magsasaka, at mapanlinlang na reporma sa lupa, isinabatas na mawawalan ng karapatan sa lupa ang mga magsasaka hindi lamang sa dami ng butas ng CARP kundi sa aktuwal na nilalaman nito.

Lumipad na sa hangin ang magic ng CARP. Matapos ang mahabang panahon, nailantad na ang mga pangil ng mapangamkam nitong layunin.

Adhikain at pangarap ng mga magsasaka na Ariin nang Libre ang Lupa. Binayaran na nila ito ng dugo, luha, at pawis nang higit pa sa 126 taon. Hindi ba morally at historically na makatarungan na sa kanila ang lupa nang walang binabayarang amortisasyon?

Husgahan Natin: Pagbabago ng modelo bilang solusyon sa krisis

February 4, 2009

Atty. Remigio D. Saladero Jr.

NALATHALA sa mga peryodiko kailan lamang ang panukala na ginawa ni Senador Chiz Escudero ng oposisyon kay Pang. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo kung paano dapat harapin ang napipintong economic recession na inaasahang makakaapekto sa milyun-milyong Pilipino na nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa.

Isa sa mga paraan umano na inihayag ni Sen. Escudero ay ang pagpalakas sa lokal na merkado at posibleng pagtigil sa eksportasyon ng ating financial resources. Binanggit ng senador na panahon na siguro para ang mga government financial institutions tulad ng Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) at Social Security System (SSS) ang gumastos ng kanilang pera para sa lokal na mga proyekto o investments at hindi para sa mga foreign financial investments. Nang sa ganoon, sabi ng senador, makakatulong ang perang galing dito para makapagtayo ng lokal na negosyo na tiyak na magbibigay ng dagdag na trabaho sa ating mga mamamayan, hindi tulad ng global o foreign investments na nagbabagsakan na dahil sa global economic meltdown. Dapat ding samahan ito, ayon kay Sen. Escudero, ng pagsulong sa patakarang “Buy Filipino” upang mapalakas ang lokal na ekonomiya. Sa ganitong paraan, makakapagbigay tayo ng maraming trabaho, makakaimpok ng dolyar, maiiwasan ang pagsara ng mga pabrika at makakaiwas din sa smuggling.

Sang-ayon kami dito sa panukala ni Sen. Escudero. Kung tutuusin, matagal na itong panukala ng ating makabayang mga mambabatas (Bayan Muna, Anakpawis at Gabriela) at makabayang mga ekonomista tulad ni Alejandro Lichauco at Hilarion Henares. Pero hindi ito pinapaniwalaan ng rehimeng Arroyo. Bagkus, pinaparatangan pang komunista at kaaway ng gobyerno ang mga lider-masa na aktibong nakikipaglaban para sa panukalang ito. Pero kung ating pag-aaralang mabuti at balikan ang ating kasaysayan, makikita natin na ang ugat ng ating paghihirap ay ang “export-oriented, outward-looking development policy” ng ating pamahalaan na lalong kilala ngayon sa pangalang globalisasyon.

Magsimula tayo sa panahon ng mga Kastila. Bilang mga kolonyalista, pinagsamantalahan ng mga Kastila ang ating likas na kayamanan at walang intensiyong magtayo ng lokal na industriya para sa ating kapakanan. Ito ay nagsadlak sa atin sa matinding kahirapan.

Nang dumating ang mga Amerikano, pormal nilang isinailalim ang Pilipinas sa patakarang “free trade” sa pamamagitan ng Payne-Aldrich Act na nagkabisa noong 1909. Makakabuti raw sa Pilipinas ang malayang pamilihan. Ayon kay Claro M. Recto, nakabuti ito sa Estados Unidos ngunit hindi sa Pilipinas. Bagamat maaari tayong mag-eksport sa US, walang laban ang ating mga produkto sa produkto nila kaya walang bumibili ng ating eskport. Pagdating naman sa import, wala pa ring laban ang ating lokal na produkto sa produktong ini-eksport ng US kaya nawalan ng gana ang mga Pilipinong negosyante na magtayo ng negosyo o paunlarin ang lokal na industriya dahil puro produktong US ang binibili ng mga tao. Dahil dito, nanatili tayong isang underdeveloped country na nakasandal sa US.

Pagkatapos tayo mabigyan ng US ng huwad na kalayaan noong 1946, ang sistemang free trade ay nagpatuloy sa pamamagitan ng Bell Trade Act na nagbigay ng parity rights sa mga Amerikano. Noong 1962, tinanggal ng Pilipinas ang exchange control na ang ibig sabihin ay higit na kalayaan sa mga dayuhang korporasyon sa kanilang pagninegosyo sa ating bansa. Dito na pati nagsimulang lumaki ang ating pagkakautang sa International Monetary Funds at World Bank na ang hinihinging kondisyon sa pagpapautang ay ibayong pagbubukas ng ating ekonomiya sa dayuhang negosyante. Nitong 1990s naman nauso ang salitang globalisasyon bunga sa pagsali natin sa World Trade Organization kung saan export-oriented o outward-looking pa rin ang tinuturo sa preskripsiyon para sa pag-unlad.

Ngunit umunlad ba tayo sa preskripsiyong ito? Gumanda ba ang ating ekonomiya dahil sa “export-oriented, outward-looking development model” na ito? Hindi, mga kasama. Lalo tayong nabaun sa kahirapan at isa sa pinakakulelat na bansa sa Asya ngayon.

Panahon na para ibahin natin ang ating paraan para sa pag-unlad. Panahon na para maging inward-looking naman tayo sa ating mga patakaran. Panahon na para ibasura ang globalisasyon at bigyan ng proteksiyon ang naghihingalo na industriyang Pilipino sa ating bansa. Kung malakas at puwede nang makipagkumpetensiya sa dayuhang mga produkto ang ating lokal na produkto, maaari na tayong maging “outward looking.” Ngunit hanggang mahina pa tayo, dapat munang bigyan ng proteksiyon ng pamahalaan ang sariling atin.

Pinoy Weekly Editorial: Si Arroyo at ang kanyang mga guwardiyang berdugo

February 4, 2009

HINDI nakapagtataka kung bakit tinutulan ng marami ang pagtalaga ni Pangulong Arroyo sa kontrobersiyal na retiradong mga heneral sa burukrasya.

Isang bukas na lihim kung bakit sa kabila ng matitinding kritisismo sa pagtalaga niya – pinakahuli sina Ret. Vice Admiral Tirso Danga sa National Printing Office, dating AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon bilang hepe ng Presidential Management Staff at posibilidad na pagtalaga kay Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan sa Dangerous Drugs Board – ay nagkikibit-balikat lamang ang pangulo.

Unang dahilan ang kredibilidad ng naturang mga heneral. Nasangkot si Danga sa eskandalong “Hello Garci” at pandaraya sa eleksiyong 2004. Ngayo’y inilagay siya sa NPO na siyang nag-iimprenta ng mga balota para nalalapit na eleksiyong 2010.

Ang kredensiyal naman ni Esperon ay panggigiyera sa mga Moro at rebeldeng komunista. Bago italaga bilang PMS, ipinuwesto muna siya bilang presidential adviser on the peace process. Nagresulta ito sa lalong pagsiklab ng antigong digmaan sa Mindanao nang dahil sa panukalang Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

Samantala, itinuturong sangkot si Palparan sa napakaraming ekstra-hudisyal na pamamaslang sa mga kritiko ni Pangulong Arroyo. Kahit ang Melo Commission na binuo mismo ng gobyerno para imbestigahan ang malaganap na pamamaslang noon, ay nagsabing may pananagutan si Palparan. Pero hindi ito binalak na panagutin ng gobyerno. Sa halip, pinasalamatan pa ito ni Pangulong Arroyo sa isa nitong state of the nation address. At ngayo’y bibigyan pa ng pwesto sa kanyang gabinete.

Sa bilang ng progresibong mga grupo, mahigit 25 dating militar o pulis ang nasa gabinete ng pangulo kabilang na ang Executive Secretary. Idagdag pa ang mga retiradong opisyal na itinalaga naman bilang mga embahador.

Hindi tuloy maiwasang isipin na ang pagtatalagang ito ay dulot ng pagkatakot ni Pangulong Arroyo na mapatalsik o mawala sa puwesto. Dahil sa pagiging di popular na pangulo, mukhang kailangang lagi siyang guwardiyado.

Subalit gaano man yatang kritisismo ang tanggapin ni Pangulong Arroyo ay tatanggapin nito, maitalaga lamang ang matatapat niyang opisyal. Sukdulang lalong sumadsad ang kanyang lupagi nang popularidad.

Ang masama, baka ang buntot ang nagwawagwag sa aso.

Nagbabayad pa ng utang sa kanila ang Pangulo o naghahanda ng militar na pamumuno? Alinman sa dalawa, tiyak ang mga mamamayan ang talo. (SAS)(PinoyWeekly)

Tala ng tanggalan

February 4, 2009

Jeffrey Ocampo

Manggagawang Pilipino (KR Guda / PW File Photo)

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Manggagawang Pilipino (KR Guda / PW File Photo)

LUBHANG nakababahala ang tantos ng malawakang tanggalan. Ulo ito ng balita sa telebisyon, radyo at mga pahayagan sa kasalukuyan. Mismong ang datos ng pamahalaan ang nagpapatunay sa tindi ng suliraning ito. Lubhang apektado nito ang mga manggagawa sa Calabarzon, Gitnang Luzon, Cebu at iba pang lugar sa bansa. Narito ang ilang tala ng tanggalan na kasalukuyang pinapasan ng obrerong Pilipino:

● Kompanyang Amerikano na nakabase sa California, ang Intel Corporation ay lumilikha ng mga semiconductor. Ang chip testing plant nito sa Cavite ay magtatanggal ng 1,800 na mga manggagawa. Pahayag ng pamunuan nito, “wala talagang demand [sa produkto].” Ang Texas Instruments naman sa Baguio Economic Zone Authority, isa sa pinakamalaking semiconductor manufacturer sa buong mundo, ay nagtangal ng 392 na manggagawa noong Disyembre. Mayroon pa itong “second wave” ngayong taon.

● Sa Fujitsu Ten sa Canlubang Laguna, 1,750 sa 5,000 na regular na mangagawa nito ay inaalok ng voluntary resignation. Ayon sa ulat ng mga manggagawa sa Pamantik, kung hindi bibigay ang mga manggagawa sa alok, magbabawas ang kompanya sa pamamagitan ng “performance evaluation.”

● Sa Zirtex, isang electronics company sa LTI, pinasakay umano ang humigit-kumulang na 200 kababaihang manggagawa sa shuttle ng kompanya at pinauwi dahil wala na raw silang trabaho. Ito ay ayon sa salaysay ng mga sinisante. Isa pang kompanya sa LTI na nagtanggal ng 800 na manggagawa noong Enero ang Hoya Glassdisk Philippines.

● Masaklap naman ang sinapit ng mga manggagawa ng Daiho Philippines na matapos makapagtayo ng unyon ay nagsumite ng papeles ang kumpanya hinggil na napipinto umano nitong pagsasara. Ayon sa Pamantik, magpapatupad ito ng limang araw lamang ng paggawa.

● Sa Sanyo Plastic Philippines, natanggal ang 32 na kontraktual na mga manggagawa ng wala man lamang notice.

● Ang Ebbara Benguet, isang steel fabrication company sa LTI, ay magbabawas ng oras ng paggawa. Nagdedeklara din umano ito ng “no work days” sa mga departamento nito. Nagkakaroon din umano ng rotation ng mga manggagawa.

● Ayon din sa ulat ni Sen. Villar, ang Woo Su at Phils Star sa Cavite EPZ ay nagsara na ang pagawaan noong Oktubre ng nakaraang taon dahil sa “insufficient orders” mula sa mga kliyente nito.

● Marami ring car and automotive parts manufacturing companies ang nagtanggal ng mga manggagawa. Liban sa Toyota Motors Philippines na nagpatupad ng “Monday-no-production day” noong Enero, nagbawas din ng mga manggagawa at oras ng paggawa ang Nissan, Keihin, Isuzu at Ford.

Pinabulaanan naman ng Ford ang naiulat na pagmamantina na lamang ng 18 manggagawa sa dating 400 na bilang.

● Ilang kumpanya rin sa Gitnang Luzon ang nagtanggal ng daang mga manggagawa nito. Sa Clark Freeport sa Pampangga, mayroong 629 na natanggal habang sa Subic Bay Free Port sa Zambalez, 1, 644 ang natanggal. Maging ang Luisita Industrial Park sa Tarlac ay nagtanggal ng 1,992 na mga manggagawa.

Marami pang ibang kompanya sa Gitnang Luzon ang nagtanggal ng mga manggagawa. Sa kabuuan, mayroon 18 kompanya sa rehiyon ang nagtanggal ng trabaho, ayon sa DOLE.
● Sa mga ulat, lumalabas na sa bilang na 18,000 na mga manggagawa na natanggal sa trabaho, mahigit 2,000 nito ay nanggaling sa mga pagawaan sa Cebu. Kabilang dito ang supplier ng automotive parts na Lear Automotive. Ang iba pang kompanyang nagtanggal ng mga manggagawa ay ang Maitland Smith Cebu Incorporated at Taiyo Yuden.  Sa pagitan naman ng kalagitnaan ng 2007 hanggang Disyembre 2008, natanggal ang 11,000 manggagawa sa kilalang industriya sa Cebu, ang furniture industry. Maging ang pagawaan ng Timex, sikat na brand ng relo, ay napabalita ding nagtanggal ng mga empleyado.

● Ang tinuturing na “sunshine industry” ng business process outsourcing (BPO) ay napapabalitang nagtatanggal na rin ng mga empleyado. Ang Accenture, ayon sa ulat ni Senador Manny Villar ay magpapatupad ng “redundancy program” na makakaapekto sa 500 empleyado. Ang Advanced Contact Solutions naman, ayon sa Eiler, ay ang naiulat na nagtanggal 900 na empleyado matapos mawalan ng mayor na Amerikanong kliyente. Ayon sa mga eksperto, aabot sa 90,000 na mga empleyado ng industriya ng BPO ang matatanggal sa trabaho kung magpapatuloy ang kasalukuyang sitwasyon.

● Ang Toledo Mining Corporation ay nagtanggal ng 600 na empleyado at contractors dahil umano sa mababang demand at presyo ng nikel sa pandaigdigang merkado.

●  Maging ang ahesiya ng pamahalaan, ang National Food Authority, ay nagtanggal din ng mga kawani nito. Bahagi ng “rationalization program” ng ahensiya, nagtanggal ito ng 1,242 na mga kawani na may “redundant position.” Nagtanggal naman ang Intramuros Administration ng 44 na mga empleyado.

● Bago umugong ang usapin ng tanggalan sa loob ng bansa, nauna nang napabalita ang tanggalan ng mga manggagawa sa mga pabrika sa Taiwan. Noong Disyembre, umabot ng 3,000 ang OFW sa bansang ito ang pinauwi sa Pilipinas. Samantala, ang bilang na ito ay aabot sa 6,000 sa Hunyo, ayon sa DOLE.(PinoyWeekly)

Kalbaryo ng obrero sa Calabarzon at iba pang tala ng tanggalan

February 4, 2009

Jeffrey Ocampo

"Timaura," Antipas Delotavo, 1991

Manggagawang Pilipino: lalong nasasadlak sa kahirapan
dahil sa dependensiya ng ekonomiya ng bansa sa ekonomiya
ng US (“Timaura,” likhang sining ni Antipas Delotavo, 1991)

UMAGA ng Enero 5, inatasang mag-ulat ang manggagawang si Miriam Loyola, 25, sa human resources department ng Gemphil Technologies, isang semiconductor company sa Laguna Technopark Incorporated (LTI) sa Biñan.

Ito na ang ikatlong pagawaan na kanyang pinasukan. Matapos ang kanyang tig-limang buwan na kontrata sa SPI Corporation at Unilane Electronics, pumasok siya sa Gemphil noong Enero 2007. Sa loob ng dalawang taon, hindi naging regular si Miriam bagamat aniya, nitong nakaraan ay pinangakuan siya ng manedsment na gagawin siyang regular. Disyembre ng nakaraang taon, maraming manggagawa ng GemPhil ang pinapirma ng clearance at pinakuha ng kanilang huling sahod at 13th month pay. Kaya nangamba si Miriam sa maaaring dahilan kung bakit siya pinag-ulat.

Pagdating sa pabrika, sinabi sa kanya ng assembly line leader ng kanilang departamento na siya ay kasama sa sinisante na mga manggagawa.

Kuwento ni Miriam, napaluha na lamang siya sa binalita sa kanya.

Isa lamang si Miriam sa libu-libong manggagawa na natanggal sa trabaho mula noong huling kuwarto ng 2008 hanggang sa kasalukuyan. Ayon sa kalihim ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) na si Marianito Roque, bunsod ito ng tumintinding resesyon sa Estados Unidos at iba pang mga bansa. Aniya, kung magpapatuloy ang ganitong kalagayan, aabot sa 200,000 ang mawawalan ng hanapbuhay sa loob lamang ng unang hati ng taon.

Nakababahalang daan-daang katao ang natatanggal sa trabaho kada araw habang walang tiyak na patutunguhan ang mga ito. Maging ang pamahalaan ay wala pang malinaw at kongkretong hakbang upang sila’y tulungan. Sa ganitong kalagayan, ang kabuuang 2.7 milyong Pilipino na walang hanapbuhay sa bansa noong 2008 ayon sa Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) ay madadagdagan pa ng signipikanteng bilang.

Malawakang tanggalan sa Calabarzon

Sa kasalukuyan, mayroon nang 18,641 na tuluyan nang natanggal sa trabaho ayon sa DOLE. Samantala, umabot naman sa 33,568 na manggagawa ang binawasan ng oras at araw ng paggawa bilang iskema ng iba’t ibang kompanya sa “pagtitipid ng gastos sa  operasyon.”

Sa lahat halos ng rehiyon sa bansa nagaganap ang malawakang tanggalan ng mga manggagawa. Sa mga ulat, ang mga rehiyon ng Gitnang Luzon at Timog Katagalugan ang may pinakamalalaking kaso ng tanggalan. Samantala, marami ring natanggal at matatanggal pa sa trabaho sa Baguio, Cebu, at Davao.

Malaking bahagdan ng  bilang nito ay nanggaling sa export processing zones (EPZs) ng Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batanggas, Rizal at Quezon). Nasa industrial belt na ito ang mga planta at pagawaan ng iba’t ibang industriya partikular ang garments, semiconductor at electronics. Marami ring car at automotive manufacturing na kompanya sa rehiyong ito, laluna sa Laguna. Paliwanag ng manedsment ng mga kompanya, bumaba ang pandaigdigang demand sa kanilang produkto kaya kailangang babaan din ang production volume.

Ito umano ang lohika kung bakit kailangan ding magbawas ng mga manggagawa.

Ayon sa Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler), natural na tatamaan ang mga EPZ  dahil sa “inaasahang pagbaba ng pandaigdigang konsumo” sa mga produkto na linilikha sa mga ito. At dahil export-oriented umano ang bansa, apektado nito ang buong daloy ng lokal na ekonomiya.

Paliwanag naman ni Emilia Dapulang, presidente ng unyon sa NXP Semiconductors Incorporated, bihira ang nakakapagbuo ng unyon sa mga EPZ kaya mas madali para sa mga kompanya na magpatupad ng tanggalan at iba pang polisiya na tatama sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa.

Sa taya ng Pinagkaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Pamantik-KMU), aabot ng 40,000 ang matatanggal sa trabaho sa mga EPZ at iba pang pagawaan sa Calabarzon sa loob lamang ng anim na buwan.

Nagpahayag na ang Intel Corporation, isang chip testing plant sa Trece Martirez, Cavite, noong kalagitnaan ng Enero na sila ay magsasara na ng pabrika. Ayon sa kanilang pahayag, “wala talagang demand [sa produkto].” Kaugnay ng napipintong pagsasara, mayroon umanong ipagkakaloob na severance package sa 1,800 na manggagawang mawawalan ng hanapbuhay.

Ayon sa mga pag-aaral, ang pagsasara ng Intel ay siyang hudyat ng tuluy-tuloy pang pagsuong ng bansa sa pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya. Dagdag ng Eiler, ang ordinaryong mga manggagawa – sa porma ng sahod at kalagayan sa paggawa – ang  bubuno sa pinakamalulupit na hagupit ng krisis na  ito.

Kaugnay nito, sunud-sunod na ang mga kaso ng tanggalan ng mga manggagawa sa Calabarzon ang naganap. Ayon sa ulat ng mga manggagawa sa Pamantik, tinanggal sa Amkor Technology Incorporated, isang electronics company sa LTI, ang 3,000 na kontraktuwal na mga manggagawa nito noon pang Setyembre. Sunod nitong sisisante ang 2,000 na regular na mga manggagawa.

Samantala, umabot din ng 3,000 ang tinanggal na kontraktual na mga manggagawa sa Integrated Microelectronics Incorporated (IMI) sa LTI. Sa EDS Manufacturing Incorporated (EMI)-Yasaki sa Imus Cavite, 1,500 ang tinanggal sa trabaho. Sa Laguna Dai-Ichi, ang 77 bilang ng tinanggal ay madadagdagan ngayong Pebrero.

Bukod sa mga nabanggit, talamak din ang tanggalan sa Daeyoung at American Power Conversion sa Cavite EPZ at Zirtex, Sanyo Plastic Philippines at Testech sa LTI. May power plants at pagawaan din sa Quezon at Batangas ang magtatanggal ng mga manggagawa.

Iba pang iskema

Liban sa tuwirang pagtatanggal sa mga manggagawa, may iba pang mga iskema ang ginagamit ng manedsment ng mga kompanya upang “makaagapay” sa pandaigdigang krisis pang-ekonomiya at “maiwasan ang pagkalugi.” Kabilang dito ay ang forced leave, reduced at compressed working days at pagbabago sa shifts ng mga manggagawa. Mayroon ding inaalok ng separation pay sa ilang kompanya upang tuluyang nang magbitiw ang mga manggagawa.

Ang lahat ng ito, sa mismong pagsusuri ng mga manggagawa, ay hakbang lamang upang tuluyan silang masisante.

Isa sa mga nagpatupad ng forced leave ay ang IMI. Umabot sa 1,000 na regular na empleyado nito ang sapilitang pinatigil sa pagtatrabaho. Ganito rin ang nangyari sa mga manggagawa at empleyado sa Achi-Wool Industrial Plant Technology sa Rosario, Cavite.

Ipinapatupad naman sa car at automotive manufacturing na mga kompanya ang pagbabawas ng oras at araw ng paggawa. Sa Toyota Motors Philippines, ipinatupad ang “Monday-no-production day.” Samantala, sa EMI-Yasaki, 3 araw na lamang magtratrabaho ang mga manggawa sa loob ng isang linggo, ayon sa mga ulat.

Bawat oras at araw na ibabawas sa panahon ng pagtratrabaho ng mga mangggawa ay ibabawas din sa sahod ng mga ito. Ibig sabihin, kapag wala silang trabaho ay wala ring silang kikitain. Marami pang ibang kompanya ang magpapatupad ng tatlo hanggang apat na araw na lamang ng paggawa.

Sa NXP na nasa LTI din, inaalok ang mga manggagawa ng MSDP o management-decided separation pay upang manghikayat ng kusang pag-alis ng mga manggagawa.

Kalagayan ng mga natanggal sa trabaho

Lubhang napakahirap ng buhay ngayon ng mga natanggal sa trabaho. Si Miriam, na dating nakakapagpadala pa sa kanyang magulang sa Surigao, ay nakikitira na lamang ngayon. Dahil sa kakarampot ring kita noong nagtratrabaho pa sa GemPhil, hindi na niya nagawang makapag-ipon. Sa kasalukuyan, suliranin niya ang pang-araw araw na pangangailangan gaya ng pagkain at pamasahe. Liban dito, mabigat din para sa kanya ang paggastos para sa pagsusulit sa mga hiring agency upang makahanap muli ng trabaho.

Ang mag-asawa namang Levi at Christine Pasignahin ay kapwa natanggal sa trabaho. Ayon kay Levi, umaga ng Disyembre 15, hinarang ang mga manggagawa sa Laguna Dai-Ichi, isang plastic molding company sa LTI, ng mga guwardiya at sinabi na kailangan nilang mag-ulat sa kanilang hiring agency. Pag dating sa Topserve Manpower Supplier, sinabi sa mga manggagawa na natapos na ang kontarata nila sa Laguna Dai-Ichi kaya wala na silang trabaho. Ang kanya namang asawa ay natanggal sa pagawaan ng Ogino Philippines Corporation.

Hirap ngayon ang mag-asawa sa pang-araw-araw na gastos at sa buwanang renta sa inuupahang tirahan. Problema din nila ang gatas ng kanilang maliit na anak.

Ang kanyang kasamahang natanggal na si Blesildo Rosario ay hirap din sa paghahanap ng bagong trabaho. Umabot siya ng 12 na taon sa Laguna Dai-Ichi kaya ngayon ay overaged na siyang tinuturing sa mga kompanyang inaasam niyang pasukan. Aniya, tinutulungan na lamang niya pansamantala ang kanyang asawa sa sideline nito na pagtitinda ng saging at itlog upang maitaguyod ang kanilang dalawang anak.


Malalim na suliranin ang kawalan ng trabaho sa bansa sa gitna ng pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya. Sa kasalukuyan, 36 milyon ang lakas paggawa ng bansa. Ngunit ayon mismo sa DOLE, katlong bahagi nito ay unemployed o kaya’y underemployed. Iba sa datos ng BLES, ginigiit pa ng Ibon Foundation na umabot ang bilang ng walang trabaho sa 10.7 milyon noong nakaraang taon.

Ang laksa-laksang matatanggal sa trabaho, dadagdag pa sa bilang na ito.

Marami nang mungkahi ang pamahalaan at iba’t ibang mga grupo upang lunasan ang kasalukuyang suliranin ng mga manggagawa. Ayon sa pamahalaan, maaaring bigyan ng livelihood program, skills training at job seminars ang natanggal na mga manggagawa upang makapagsimula ng negosyo. Ngunit ayon kay Dapulang, dadaan pa sa proseso ang pagpapalago nito habang kailangang ibsan sa kagyat ang hirap ng mga natanggal sa trabaho.

Sinasabi rin na maaaring mangibang bayan ang mga manggagawa. Ngunit tanong ng marami, paano ito ngayong marami nang overseas Filipino workers ang nagbalik na sa bansa dahil na rin sa mismong tanggalan sa ibayong dagat.

Para naman sa Makati Business Club, maaaring gawing option ang pagbabawas ng sahod ng mga manggagawa upang maiwasan ang tanggalan. Subalit inaasahang lalong isasadlak lamang ng hakbang na ito ang aba nang kalagayan ng mga manggagawa. Ang kasalukuyang sahod pa lamang ng mga manggagawa ay wala pa sa kalahati ng cost of living ng kani-kanilang rehiyon.

Sa kasalukuyan, ang family living wage sa Calabarzon ay umaabot na sa P809 para sa pamilyang may anim na miyembro. Ang ipinapatupad namang minimum wage sa rehiyong ito ng Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity ng DOLE ay P236 hanggang P320 lamang. Halimbawa, ang sinasahod ni Miriam noong nagtatrabaho pa siya sa GemPhil bilang kontraktuwal na manggagawa ay P298 lamang. Ang mga regular, P15 lamang ang lamang sa mga kontraktuwal, ayon kay Monalisa Larion, manggagawa rin ng Gemphil.

Ayon naman sa mismong mga manggagawa gaya nina Miriam, Levi at Blesildo, kailangang ilaan ang napapabalitang stimulus package na nagkakahalaga ng P330 Bilyon para sa dapat paglaan nito: ang mga Pilipinong nawalan ng trabaho at iba pang naghihirap na mga mamamayan bunsod ng krisis pampinansiya. Maaari umano itong gawin sa porma ng subsidyo sa pang-araw araw na pangangailangan ng mga manggagawa.

Ayon naman sa KMU, kagyat at kongkretong solusyon ang pagtataas ng sahod at pagbabawas sa buwis ng mga manggagawa na sa kasalukuyan ay umaabot sa 19 hanggang 30 porsiyento.

Pahayag naman ng Eiler, matagal nang kailangang pagtuunan ng pamahalaan ang pambansang industriyalisasyon na magtitiyak ng maramihang paglikha ng hanapbuhay sa mga manggagawa at magbubunsod ng tunay na pag-unlad sa sambayanang Pilipino.

Editorial Cartoon: Drug Addict

February 3, 2009


Hehehehehe! Tsungki!

Ninotchka Roska: Post-Moment

February 3, 2009

After Barack Hussein Obama said “so help me God,” I went outside to check if the earth had been rent asunder, trees had fallen, buildings had sat on themselves and the sky had cracked open.

Nothing. Traffic was normal; children were still running around and dogs had their noses to various small shrubs. All I could think of was: well, Saddam, are you roaring with laughter? Huge karma joke, this one…

Then I watched as George W. Bush was led to a helicopter and flown away – which was a relief, considering how much of the past week had been spent spinning his “legacy.” I’m inclined to believe that people who do this are trying to cover up the inescapable sense that they had made a mistake or something had gone wrong with what they’d done.

People who hold power convince themselves it will last forever. They should read Shelley’s Ozymandias: Round the decay/Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away…(PinoyPressBlog)

Ninotchka Rosca: Gazing On Gaza

February 3, 2009

The pale moon ruled over my last three nights in Hawaii, laying a magical veneer over an already perfect landscape. As I watched it from the 25th floor lanai (balcony), I wondered if it was refusing to shine over Gaza, so as not to witness a continuing inhumanity of human beings upon human beings.

Years ago, I used to wonder how Israel could do what it was doing to the Palestinians, or even to ally itself with the apartheid government of White South Africa – but since then, I’ve seen the abused take on the persona of the abuser – prisoners doing the guards’ work, women maligning other women – all to align themselves with brute authority. Underlying the repetitive cycle of violence is survival at all costs – and Israel has bluntly used and overused this to justify the most extreme measures taken against a people whose land and patrimony it expropriated in successive acts of violence.

The siege of Gaza underscores the senselessness of what has gone on with the Palestinians: the assault began for no reason, continues with no clear far-reaching objective and ends without any goal reached. Population control, perhaps?

For the last 50 years, Israel has gotten away with this by stoking the guilt feelings of the West by elevating victimhood as the hallmark of its history. The Germans, if for nothing else, owe the Palestinians a great debt of gratitude for having taken their place as villains in Israel’s self-image as victim and for enduring collective punishment for a Holocaust they did not commit.

Deeper still, behind all these surface relationships, lies the Bush administration’s determination to leave as much of a mess as possible for the new political leadership. Make no mistake about it: this was Bush’s last war. Israel would not have embarked on this silly adventure without a go-signal from the US government. It was a last flip of the finger to the people of the US – to the millions who marched against the invasion of Iraq and those who now march against the siege of Gaza.

There are those who leave an office or a residence neat and clean, ready for the next occupant; there are those who improve on what they find and leave behind potential for even greater achievement; and there are those who make sure that they’ve thoroughly messed up the terrain so that it would be impossible to accomplish, much less change, anything. Legacies are determined not simply by accomplishment but what doors have been opened, what new pathways have been created, what possibilities have been made clear… Bush’s legacy is a complicated political terrain that leaves his successor very little maneuverability.

The old leadership refuses to let go while the new hasn’t crystallized a vision for how it will govern. And we are all held hostage at this between the intake of breath and its release.

Does the moon also shine over Gaza?(PinoyPressBlog)

Nuclear Myths Used to Hurry Bataan Operation — Greenpeace

February 3, 2009

Greenpeace today warned that Congress is off to speed up the passage of the Bataan Nuclear Plant revival bill regardless of serious social and environmental costs, and are using myths and abusing scientific data to support their bid.

In a press conference in Quezon City, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez and geologist Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Adjunct Professor at the University of the Philippines’ National Institute for Geological Sciences disproved claims by Congressmen Mark Cojuangco and Mikee Arroyo that the mothballed 30 year old Bataan Nuclear Power Plant will yield, clean, safe and inexpensive energy. Cong. Mark Cojuangco, whose family’s business interests include energy, is the author of a House Bill filed July last year seeking to revive the BNPP. House Bill 4631 has already hurdled the House Committee on Energy headed by Cong. Mikee Arroyo, and is currently in the Committee on Appropriations, whose report, according to Arroyo, is expected by mid-February.

“Nuclear energy is not clean, not safe and not cheap. In fact, it is probably the most dangerous and expensive power source there is. To say otherwise is to endorse patent falsehoods for the benefit of the nuclear industry. Greenpeace finds the intent of the bill, as well as the seeming haste with which it is being pushed in Congress highly questionable,” said Hernandez.

“The one billion USD [1] eyed to fund this project which will come from the pockets of ordinary Filipinos will be better spent on safe and cheap renewable energy. And if there must be haste, it should be for the finalization of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Renewable Energy Act, the real solution to energy security and climate change, which in contrast, sat in the Congress for more than a decade before it was passed,” he added.

Greenpeace asserts that nuclear plants are grotesquely capital intensive and expensive at almost all stages of its development. Historically, nuclear construction projects consistently run over budget, so even the 1 Billion USD projected cost for BNPP’s rehabilitation can be exceeded. The plant will also make the country dependent on imported uranium, a resource found only in a few countries. There are further costs for spent fuel storage and security, and should an accident occur, massive costs for evacuation, relocation of communities, health costs, aside from the repair of the plant and the rehabilitation of surroundings. From previous experience of nuclear disasters, these costs amount to hundreds of billions of dollars for a period of decades.

Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo whose study on fault lines and volcanic activity in the area was cited by Cojuangco in the Bill also refuted claims by the congressman that the location of the BNPP is safe. According to Rodolfo, the BNPP is situated on Mt. Natib, a dormant volcano which constitutes the entire northern half of the Bataan peninsula. “People who are eager to reactivate the BNPP are dangerously misrepresenting scientific data. Given the burden the revival of the BNPP poses to all Filipinos, the government owes it to its citizens to vigorously, openly, and thoroughly explore all the ramifications of such a risky energy source,” said Dr. Rodolfo.(PinoyPress)


February 3, 2009

The Philippines’ record-high unemployment is considered among the greatest failures of the Arroyo administration and is seen to even worsen this year, according to research group Ibon Foundation.

Estimates made by IBON put the number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos at 10.7 million in 2008. This was computed using the original National Statistics Office (NSO) definition of employment and assuming a labor force participation rate of 66.1% in 2008. The estimate tries to correct for official underestimation of joblessness since April 2005, when the NSO revised its definition and greatly reduced unemployment reports.

This year, joblessness is likely to increase at least 11 million or more, assuming that the labor force increases by 915,000 (the average increase over the last eight years) and that only 500,000 jobs are created, which implies an additional 415,000 jobless. This figure could be higher, as the employment situation is already far worse than the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Crisis when unemployment rate averaged 10% in 1998-1999 compared to nearly 11% in 2008.

The most recent severe worsening of the Philippine economic crisis in 2000 and 2001 may help illustrate what the country is now going through. Like today, the global slowdown in 2000 was precipitated by serious US financial and economic troubles– then it was the bursting of the “dot-com” or “new economy” bubble. The ranks of the unemployed swelled by an additional 640,000 Filipinos in 2000 and 2001 which brought the number of unemployed to 3.7 million in 2001 and the unemployment rate to 11.1% (from 9.8% in 1999). While there is strong reason to believe that the Philippine economy will again go in these directions or even worse, as the current global economic financial turmoil is not just deeper and farther-reaching but will also last for much longer.

Despite claims of economic success, job creation under the Arroyo administration since 2001 has been tepid and its policies have not been able to create enough jobs for Filipinos. The average real employment rate of over 11% since 2001 is the worst period of unemployment in the country’s history. The persistence of high unemployment despite supposedly sustained economic growth is also unprecedented.

All this highlights the need for a radical change in government’s economic policies. Measures that would yield immediate benefits include increasing public spending for social services, removing the VAT on oil products, freeing public resources by stopping debt payments, among others. More than these, the government’s elite-biased and free-market oriented policies, which have kept the Philippine economy backward, should be drastically changed. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.(PinoyPress)

Green Groups Wary of Atienza’s Landfill Probe; Fear of Moro-Moro Investigation

February 3, 2009

Fears of a Moro-moro investigation worry citizens and environmental groups opposing the San Mateo dumpsite regarding the directive of DENR Sec. Lito Atienza to probe on the controversial landfill project.

“Sec. Atienza should put action into his words. Many times he issued statements to investigate anomalous landfill projects but ends up exonerating its proponents and allowing the projects to resume,” remarks Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

Bautista was referring to the case of Rizal Provincial Sanitary Landfill located in Rodriguez. Last September 2008, contractor International Solid Waste Integrated Management Service Inc (SWIMS Inc.) was caught red-handed in video, dumping garbage leachate into adjacent river. Sec. Atienza ordered an inquiry but later the findings of the investigative team headed by the DENR absolved SWIMS and allowed the sanitary landfill to continue.

“We could not give our confidence to an investigation, which we believe is intended only to appease the contesting public, worse, has been used to shroud facts that shows clear violations, as the Montalban case exhibits, commented Bautista.

Another reason for the group’s apprehension involves the fact that the people behind Montalban dump were the same proponents of the San Mateo project. In particular, Abelardo Salazar associated with SWIMS is president of San Mateo Landfill and Development Corp.

“It seems that contractor Salazar is in close links with the provincial government, that after trashing the place in Montalban, he managed to get away with it, and even got himself a new deal with the San Mateo project”, comments Tony Balute of Coalition for Garbage-Free San Mateo.

Ka Tony also recommends that “a thorough investigation involving environmental and people’s organizations and not just the usual government-dominated team, should be composed, if Atienza is sincere about his orders of probe”.

He also urge that “the ECC be canceled, and the project be totally stopped”.(PinoyPress)

President Arroyo’s Assistance Package a Hoax – Migrante

February 3, 2009

Migrante International together with retrenched OFWs from Taiwan today trooped down the office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to denounce the government’s failure to deliver its promises of assistance to OFWs who were laid off due to the global financial crisis.

“This Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund is a hoax. Just like the cheques that were handed down in Malacanang, the President’s assistance package has yet to be seen and felt by OFWs who were unjustly laid-off from Taiwan,” says Gina Gaborni, Deputy Secretary General of Migrante International.

Gaborni criticized the Government for its continued negligence of the retrenched OFWs. Ironically, this happened after President Arroyo issued Administrative Order 248 in December, 2008 – its supposed ‘payback’ to the heroic efforts of the Filipino workers.

“The Government allotted PhP250 million for this Program but so far, has not benefited any returned OFW. And to add insult to injury, the Government’s assistance package is actually a loan, which OFWs must repay to OWWA,” Gaborni insisted.

According to Migrante, only 10 percent or PhP5,000 of the allotted P50,000 for each expatriate worker is available, the rest are in goods. They also claimed that before anyone can benefit from the Program, one has to attend seminars, training activities, draw a feasibility study for a livelihood program plus other requirements.

“OFWs have to go through a lot of red tapes before the said Fund is availed of. The process was intentionally designed to actually discourage anyone to claim the said assistance package. This is utterly evil,” exclaims Gaborni.

Overcharging OFWs

Gaborni also slammed recruitment agencies for collecting overpriced placement fees from outbound OFWs and the POEA for tolerating such actions. Furthermore, she urged the Philippine Congress to probe on this matter.

Migrante documented most of the retrenched OFWs in Taiwan worked from three to eight months only against their supposedly two-year contracts.

“These OFWs want payment for the unexpired portion of their contracts because they paid PhP135,000 as placement fees, which is four times the allowable ceiling amount set by the Government,” Gaborni said.

One of the retrenched OFWs is Angelina Arroz, 28, who arrived in the country last January 5. She paid PhP135,000 as a placement fee to Forever Manpower Services Inc., which is now offering her only PhP10,000.

“This is not fair since I only stayed in Taiwan for eight months. During those months, I was not able to work everyday. I want payment for the remaining months in my signed contract,” Arroz said.

Arroz also paid PhP2,500 for a jacket, which bears the said Recruitment Agency’s name and PhP750 for her Identification Card aside from the placement fee.

In Taiwan OFWs also pay NT1,800 for their meal, NT1,200 for board and lodging and NT1,800 as a broker’s fee. These are paid even when there was no work provided.

“Right now, I’m still paying for a PhP60,000 loan, a part of the amount I paid for the placement fee,” Arroz said.

Migrante said the Government should not sit idly and do nothing for expatriate because more and more OFWs will come back to the country as a result of the global financial crisis.(PinoyPress)

Q&A with ILO Economist: ‘Issue in Philippines Is Quality of Jobs, Not Job Creation’

February 2, 2009

Interview with Steven Kapsos, ILO Labour Economist on the Global Employment Trends Report

What are the trends and projections for South-East Asia in particular the Philippines based on the Global Employment Trends Report?

STEVEN KAPSOS: The ILO has developed three scenarios based on labour market data available to date which illustrate that the regional unemployment rate for South-East Asia and the Pacific (which includes the Philippines) could increase from 5.5 per cent in 2007 to between 6.0 and 6.4 per cent in 2009. This would represent an increase of 2 to 3 million unemployed people in the region.

The number of working poor and workers in vulnerable employment (lacking benefits and without a safety net to guard against loss of incomes during economic hardship) also appears to be on the rise in this region. In addition to the 45 million workers in the region living with their families in extreme poverty (US$1.25 per person per day), an additional 23 million are living only marginally above the poverty line and are in danger of becoming poor if the right action is not taken.

What is the impact of the global economic crisis on employment trends in the Philippines and other Asian countries?

STEVEN KAPSOS: Economic growth in the Philippines has shown a sharp decline from 7.2 per cent in 2007 to 4.2-4.5 per cent in 2008 and is expected to fall further to 2.3-3.4 per cent in 2009. We haven’t yet seen large increase in unemployment in the Philippines, but the crisis is also likely to affect workers in other ways that are somewhat more difficult to measure, such as declining hours of work (an increase in part-time work), pressure for lower wages and less job security.

Based on the report, the three Asian regions which included the Philippines accounted for 57 per cent of global employment creation in 2008 as compared to low global creation in developed economies, what are the reasons for such trends?

STEVEN KAPSOS: Much of this is due to demographic trends – Asia is a very young region with relatively rapid population and labour force growth.

The employment rate in the Philippines based on the Labour Force Survey showed an increasing pattern amidst the global financial crisis, what can you say about the trend when other countries have decreasing employment?

Date Employment rate (%)

January 2008 92.6

April 2008 92.0

July 2008 92.6

October 2008 93.2

STEVEN KAPSOS: The issue in the region is not so much employment creation, but rather whether good quality jobs are being created – for instance jobs that pay a decent wage that opens the way to a better future and allows workers and their families to escape poverty and jobs that allow economies to move to higher value production. It is important to remember that Asia still has a large share of workers in vulnerable employment – an estimated 60 per cent of the workforce and more than 400 million workers living with their families in extreme poverty.

In the Philippines, there were about 10.5 million informal sector operators identified in the 2008 while the Global Employment Trends projected an increase in vulnerable employment, what do you think are the factors for such increase? What are possible actions to be taken to protect those in vulnerable situations?

STEVEN KAPSOS: Direct transfer payments and spending on health care can be effective ways of ensuring that people are able to continue spending and consuming, which will support growth. Loans to small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ most workers in the region and which are being hard hit by problems accessing credit, are another good tool for policymakers to consider. Longer term, increased investment in education and training can help to ensure that workers have up-to-date skills that will be in demand when the recovery begins to take shape.

What is the ILO doing amidst the global financial crisis which has now become a global job crisis?

STEVEN KAPSOS: The ILO, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank is organizing a High-Level regional Forum in Manila, 18-20 February 2009 on “Responding to the Economic Crisis- Coherent policies for Growth, Employment and Decent work in Asia and the Pacific”. The aim is to promote policy dialogue between regional and international experts and policy makers from governments, business and labour on concrete steps to counter the economic and social consequences’ of the crisis.

Do you think the Philippine economy is safe from the global crunch with large foreign exchange reserves and fiscal surplus?

STEVEN KAPSOS: Growth in the Philippines is slowing, which is likely to have adverse impacts on the labour market and, more directly, on people’s lives and livelihoods. Large reserves and a fiscal surplus provide space for addressing the problems of the crisis, but policymakers should not be complacent. Appropriate policies must be designed and implemented. It is important to identify ways to create jobs amidst the crisis and to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable do not slip further behind. This will help to ensure that a recovery occurs sooner rather than later.

What is the worst scenario especially for a country like the Philippines with large level of remittances?

STEVEN KAPSOS: A prolonged crisis could result in a negative cycle of declining demand, falling output and rising joblessness and poverty. But we feel that if appropriate action is taken and there is international coordination, this outcome can be avoided. It is important to ask what the impact will be on migrant workers, as they are important in both receiving countries, where they often perform vital jobs in the economy and in their home countries such as the Philippines, which benefit from remittances. Migrant workers may be at risk if rising unemployment puts pressure on policymakers to try to free up jobs for nationals. Migrant workers should not be used as a political football. This would not only be harmful to them – it would also be harmful to the firms where they work as they may have difficulties finding appropriately qualified workers to replace migrants that have acquired skills over time.

What are the necessary steps or measures for Asian countries like the Philippines now that the whole world is confronting this economic crisis?

1) Ensure that the patient survives – that credit markets are unfrozen so that business and lending can resume. A lot of progress has been made on this front.

2) Give the patient the appropriate medicine – monetary and fiscal stimulus, with an explicit goal in fiscal stimulus packages of creating employment, improving labour market outcomes and protecting the poor and vulnerable.

3) Begin to rehabilitate the patient for the long-run – focus on building skills and education of the workforce so that they are able to run once the race starts again.

What are your projections for 2009 based on the Global Employment Trends globally and locally for the Philippines? Do you think we could ever survive this economic crisis?

STEVEN KAPSOS: Most certainly yes, if we act quickly and bring in the right policies. We may not be able to prevent the onset of the crisis but to a large extent how quickly we get out of it, and in what sort of shape, is in our hands.

Do you think it is possible to achieve decent work amidst the crisis when people are unemployed or have no other choice but to settle for whatever jobs are available?

STEVEN KAPSOS: It may certainly be difficult, but the onset of the crisis – and the way it was created – is producing a fundamental re-evaluation in all countries of the aims and objectives of growth and development. People know that for growth to be sustainable and stable it must be more inclusive. The benefits of progress must trickle down. Jobs that trap people in poverty, rather than releasing them from it, do not allow people or societies to grow economically and socially, or to be competitive in the long term. So the lesson of this crisis is that Decent Work is not an optional luxury, it is essential for stable, equitable growth.(PinoyPress)

Palparan Appointment ‘Alarming’

February 2, 2009

By Alan Davis
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

Any casual observer of Philippine society wanting to know if the government is sincerely committed to improving human rights probably need only to wait and see if retired major general Jovito Palparan becomes strategic adviser to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

If it happens, it would suggest, to borrow a phrase from US President Barack Obama’s inauguration address last week, that the Philippine government is sitting ‘on the wrong side of history.’

Without a doubt it would be a backward step. The fact that it is even being seriously discussed says a great deal.

Media reports from late last week have been suggesting the chief reason Malacanang Palace is interested in appointing the general to a strategic position in the DDB is because he can try and apply his ‘experience of counter-insurgency’ against the drug gangs.

What might this mean?

Well, one need only look at the human rights charges leveled against Palparan and what happened in Thailand in 2003 when authorities there similarly declared war on the drug gangs. The military were unleashed and the campaign reportedly resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2,500-3,000 people.

Summary killings were rife and the campaign was roundly and loudly condemned by the international human rights community. Bizarrely, the then government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat announced a similar new anti-drugs campaign late last year in Thailand. His government however fell before it got around implementing the policy.

The Philippines is not Thailand – but there are creeping parallels here –one being the insidious power of the military. This increasingly seems to be a civilian government led by ex-generals as a glance around the cabinet table clearly shows.

Drugs are a curse on Philippine society as they are elsewhere. An effective drugs policy needs to be developed –and that is no easy thing. But we expect government policy to be more than popular vigilantism. We don’t need the kind of justice doled out by the likes of Dirty Harry. If the government is really serious about human rights it will tackle the drug problem through the rule of law, not the barrel of the gun.

Given the claims against Palparan –claims to be fair the general denies– the authorities should not be considering his reappointment to a position of power. As a simple indicator on the government’s commitment to human rights, it says it all.

Alan Davis is the director of the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and a director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting special projects(PinoyPress)