The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 7, 2010 Major News Stories



Schools prepare for rainy season

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Schools are preparing not only for thousands of students going back to school this week, but also for the expected downpour and floods that come along with the rainy season.

City kids lack 238T textbooks, but LGU points out mistakes

AT LEAST P7.3 million is needed to buy the textbooks lacking in Cebu City's public elementary schools, but the education consultant is not keen on buying them.

According to the Cebu City Schools Division's Basic Education Information System (BEIS) Quick Count last year,
elementary schools lack a total of 238,889 textbooks in English, Filipino, math, science and health, and Sibika.

As to textbooks needed for high schools, the division has yet to allow access to the data.

Asked if the purchase of textbooks can be charged to the Special Education Fund (SEF), the city's consultant for
education, vice mayor-elect Joy Augustus Young, said the city would rather buy reference books and workbooks for the students.

"We are not interested (in buying the textbooks) kay kinsa may ganahan anang mopalit ka ug libro nga daghang mali-mali, mahal pa gyud kaayo (because who wants to pay for books that have so many mistakes and are so expensive)?" Young said.

He added the city would rather invest in strengthening the city's library program, which they started last year.

"Mas maayo pa atong mga libro dira, imported pa, colored pa, wa pa'y mga sayop (Our books there are better; these are imported, colored and free of errors)," Young said.

Enough

Despite an estimated two percent increase in the student population this year, Fe Catingub, planning officer of the city's school division, said the schools still have enough chairs, desks, and armchairs.

Last year, Catingub said there were 97,247 elementary pupils, a population expected to reach 100,000 this year.

There are at least 104,697 chairs and armchairs available, she said.

Catingub also said the division is not alarmed by the projected increase in population for 2010-2011, saying there are enough classrooms.

In the BEIS count, the classroom to student ratio is 1:47.

"It's okay as long as we don't go beyond 50 pupils in one classroom," she said.

Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Salustiano Jimenez said if the student population exceeds projections, the
schools will have to implement a double shift, meaning different classes will share one classroom.

Jimenez said the double shift will not be disadvantageous to the students, as long as the required six hours of actual teaching time is followed.

As to the instructors, there are only 2,567 available teachers, but Catingub said that will be enough for a 1:37 teacher to student ratio.

"We just want to avoid going beyond 50 (students per teacher)," she said.

City to build stone wall in Guba to stop landslides

The Cebu City government will be spending P8.1 million to install a stone retaining wall in a private property that is by the roadside in Barangay Guba to prevent future landslides.

Sugar prices up on supply shortfall

Tumaas na naman ang presyo ng asukal dahil sa kakulangan ng supply. Dahil dito, balak ng gobyerno na umangkat ulit ng asukal sa Thailand.

Travelers stuck in Cebu as ship gets repaired

NEARLY 1,200 passengers of a Mindanao-bound ferry were stranded for three days in Cebu's pier area after their ship had to dock for emergency repairs.

Some passengers of the Superferry 19 complained yesterday that the ship's crew, including their captain Cupido Oreo, has not been transparent with them on updates about the vessel's repairs.

The Superferry 19, bound for Zamboanga, left Manila last Thursday afternoon.

At least 1,076 adults, 100 children and 74 infants took the trip, said Commander Anelito Gabisan of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Central-Eastern Visayas Headquarters in Cebu.

The ship made an emergency stop in Cebu's pier area, for repairs.

It sailed Saturday night, but suddenly had to return to Cebu.

One of the crew members reportedly informed the passengers they were forced to turn around for additional repairs.

Passengers like Efren Tisara, who was expected to arrive in Cotabato City yesterday morning, first thought the situation
was normal.

He said the crew assured them they will leave Cebu immediately after conducting "minor repairs."

Tisara said the crew told them the ship's generator set was being fixed.

But according to Gabisan, their report revealed the repairs were being done on the second auxiliary engine.

In a separate interview, Sebastian Lacson, Aboitiz chief reputation officer, told Sun.Star Cebu they were recently cleared by Marina to leave the port.

Lacson said repairs on the vessel were being conducted in order to ensure the ship will be seaworthy.

Tension rose in the vessel when Tisara and fellow passengers were refused when they requested to leave the vessel, to buy some toiletries and mineral water.

They requested to buy these supplies outside the ship, saying the items sold aboard the vessel were too expensive, said Tisara.

Tisara said it was only when members of the press came to check on their situation that the ship's captain called for a shuttle bus to bring them to the mall.

When the Sun.Star Cebu news team reached the area, Tisara and fellow passengers threw different notes. One man threw a plastic sheet with the words "HELP US PLEASE! WE'RE ALMOST STRANDED (for) 3 DAYS! HELP US PLEASE."

Tisara added the ship's crew informed them they were allowed to ask for refunds or leave the ship to avail themselves of other means of transport to Zamboanga.

Some passengers who have pressing business in Zamboanga took the chance and got their refunds.

Other passengers like Alyssa Zainudin of Cotabato City left the ship to catch a plane ride home.

Zainudin, who recently arrived from Saudi Arabia, said she needs to get to Zamboanga as she can't waste her vacation time stuck in a boat.

More than 100 passengers asked for refunds.

Gabisan, in an interview, said they no longer have any jurisdiction over the matter and have left it to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to inspect the ship. 

Joavan holds no gun license

THERE are no firearms regstered in Joavan Fernandez's name, police records show.

Last Saturday, before Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 granted the request of the Talisay City Police Station for a search warrant, officials verified whether the Talisay City mayor's son owns any licensed firearms.

There was none. This can aggravate the charges he will be facing," Supt. Rex Derilo, chief of the Firearms and Explosives Unit in Central Visayas, told Sun.Star Cebu.

The police can file a charge of illegal possession of firearms, as well as a violation of the gun ban imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Without a gun ban exemption, it is unlawful for anyone to carry guns, even if these are licensed and covered by a permit to carry, Derilo said. The gun ban will end on June 9.

Interviewed separately, PO2 Epifanio Comedido of the Talisay City police said they hope to file the cases today against Joavan. The mayor's son was arrested Friday, after allegedly threatening and waving a gun at a motorist.

Though vital evidence was recovered from the vehicle Joavan drove when he was arrested, Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez will still face an obstruction of justice case.

Police found, during a search late Saturday night, a .45 pistol from the Isuzu Bighorn that Joavan was driving Friday afternoon. Joavan brought the vehicle to an auto repair shop, where he was arrested.

Fernandez allegedly arrived later and took a bag out of the vehicle, ignoring a police cordon.

Acting Cebu Provincial Police Chief Erson Digal said they have Vincent Joe Castrodes to thank for his unwavering stand on pursuing a case against Joavan.

"We are thankful to him that he is supporting us and we can pursue this case," Digal said.

After following Joavan to a car shop in Barangay Lawaan II, Castrodes led police officers to the area, where they arrested the mayor's son.

"Wala ko'y kasuko ni Mayor. Kaning tanan, among gibuhat kay amoa ning trabaho (I have no rancor toward the mayor. We are just doing our jobs)," Digal said.

He is confident about the implementation of the search, saying everyone witnessed that the police recovered the gun.

He pointed out the vehicle was locked the whole time it was guarded and that only Mayor Fernandez had the key. They had to ask him to give them the key.

Digal said Supt. Elmer Lim had to explain to the mayor that they would have to force open the window to serve the warrant, which was why the mayor's representative, Nito Fernandez, proceeded to the area with the key.

After the vehicle was opened, the search was conducted.

Recovered from the search were a Colt automatic .45 pistol, two magazines, a magazine pouch, a holster and 13 pieces of ammunition.

Digal said there were so many witnesses during the search and no one can accuse them of planting the firearm.

This year alone, at least five incidents have been linked to Joavan's name.

The first was on Feb. 5, when he allegedly brandished a gun at Jonathan Ignacio and his wife in a traffic-related incident. The couple, though, decided not to press charges.

On March 3, a team from the Special Weapons and Tactics in Cebu City rushed to a condotel along D. Jakosalem St. after receiving a call for help against an armed person. The reported person turned out to be Joavan. He, however, did not yield any firearms.

Two days after, Joavan was accused of bullying gas attendants in Talisay City. The gas attendants also did not file complaints against him.

Last May 29, a security guard of a subdivision in Talisay complained Joavan harassed him. The guard said he merely advised Joavan to minimize the noise from his motorcycle, but the mayor's son allegedly threatened him, using a gun. Like most of the other alleged victims, the security guard preferred not to press charges.

Six days later, the incident with Castrodes took place.

Prosecutor lets cases go

THE Cebu Provincial Prosecutor's Office has inhibited from handling all three criminal complaints the two political rivals in the fourth district filed in relation to the May 10 elections.

Malubog brgy. treasurer guilty of falsification

The barangay treasurer of Malubog, Cebu City was found guilty for the crime of falsification of public documents.

Edwin Villarta was given the penalty of two years, four months and one day in jail as minimum, to a maximum of eight years and one day.

He was charged with three counts of falsifying public documents in relation to the barangay's road and drainage maintenance cleaning in June 12, 2002 as well as two operations of the barangay's Clean and Green Project dated June 17 and August 10, 2002.

Villarta had said he paid in cash to each person who worked for these projects. He affixed his signature on the time book and payroll, certifying that the laborers received their salary.

It was found, however, that the persons named in the time book and payroll were not able to receive any amount and did not render any service for these projects during the period.

Pinoys even more optimistic

SWS poll finds 35% expect life to improve vs 9% who think otherwiseLIFE IS LOOKING even rosier for Filipinos, with those expecting gains in the next 12 months far outnumbering compatriots of the opposite view, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

Enrile sees proclamation by Tuesday

Congress is expected to proclaim the new President and Vice President on Tuesday as the joint canvassing committee is expected to finish its job by Monday, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Canvassing of president, VP votes to be finished Monday

House Speaker Prospero Nograles no longer sees any legal impediment that could stop the joint congressional canvassing committee from completing the tally of votes for the next president and vice president on Monday.

Bangit is not resigning

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Delfin Bangit will not resign from his post, a military spokesman said on Sunday.

Palace: Bangit is AFP chief until June 30

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Delfin Bangit will remain the country's top military officer for exactly 24 days.

Ex-putschist sees stable Aquino government

Take it from this ex-putschist, coup attempts under the next administration will be far-fetched.

Former Brigadier General Danilo Lim said he saw only bright prospects for the six-year regime of presumptive President-elect Benigno Aquino III, one bereft of military adverturism similar to those experienced by his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, and outgoing President Macapagal-Arroyo.

Lim, who ran for a senatorial seat under Aquino's Liberal Party ticket, was a participant in one of several coup attempts against the elder Aquino in the 1980s and now stands accused of plotting to overthrow Ms Arroyo.

Out on bail in connection with the February 2006 coup attempt, Lim based his prognosis on what he called the "reservoir of goodwill from all sectors, including the military," for the new Aquino administration.

With a lead of more than five million votes over former President Joseph Estrada in the official congressional canvass, the senator is set to be proclaimed the country's 15th chief executive.

"Definitely, the prospects are good for Noynoy," Lim told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview. "He enjoys a good mandate from the people."

Asked about some predictions that coup attempts would be far-fetched under an Aquino administration, he said: "That's true, that's true."

Lim said the perception could be partly due to the fact that Aquino's term has been expected to be in stark contrast to that of his predecessor. He alleged that under the Arroyo regime, the military was used to cheat in the elections.

"This administration has hit rock bottom in terms of credibility and people's regard. A Noynoy administration will definitely be better than this current administration," said the former military officer.

He said the senator "does not have to do much" to perform better than the Arroyo administation. "Even a chimpanzee could do better," he said.

Despite losing in his senatorial bid, Lim said he would still be willing to work for Aquino if given the chance. He said he has received word that he would be tapped later on. Losing candidates cannot be appointed within a year from the elections.

In the meantime, Lim said he would help the incoming president watch his back.

"I'm no longer with the military, but whatever influence I still have, I will use that to help this administration," he said.


Genuino to vacate post if Noynoy replaces him

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman and chief executive officer Efraim C. Genuino said on Saturday he will vacate his post if President-apparent Benigno Simeon 'Noynoy' C. Aquino III replaces him. Genuino broke his silence on the issue of appointments made by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, among them five members of the board of directors of PAGCOR. The appointments were made last March 9, the day when the PAGCOR brass took their oath office before the President, and one day before the two-month election ban. "I will respect any decision that presumptive President-elect Noynoy Aquino would make regarding my reappointment," Genuino said in an interview. Genuino, however, said his reappointment is in compliance with law, citing section 6 of Presidential Decree No. 1869 or the PAGCOR Charter, that provides that: "Each director shall serve for a term of one year and until his successor shall have been duly appointed and qualified". Likewise, he said these were not midnight appointments as their oath-taking took place before the election ban, and while some sectors claimed that the appointments were 'unconstitutional', these remain valid until such time that the courts say otherwise. Genuino expressed willingness to respect Aquino's decision regarding the appointments, stressing that, "We want peace and harmony, this is not a battle of who is better or best, for our goal is to help the country and support the next administration in its endeavors." Aside from Chairman Genuino, the other members of the Board are President and chief operating officer Rafael 'Butch' A. Francisco, directors Philip Lo, Manuel Roxas, and Ester Leconico-Feria.

Malacañang: Stop blaming Arroyo for country's ills

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - Detractors of outgoing President Gloria Arroyo should stop criticizing her and start taking stock of their responsibilities,  Malacañang Palace said.

Aquino: The next two years have to be palpable

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines - President-elect Benigno Aquino III is expected to be proclaimed on Tuesday as the next president of the Philippines, 24 years after her mother, Corazon Aquino was named president after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

Binay looking forward to proclamation; Arroyo, too

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay is looking forward to a six-year working relationship with presumptive president-elect Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, despite a still highly contested vice presidential race against Aquino's own running mate, Sen. Mar Roxas II.

Mangudadatu: Roxas' cry for help in Maguindanao 'too late'

On the eve of the May 10 elections, vice presidential candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas II called up Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan town in Maguindanao, who was then a gubernatorial candidate of the province.

Next administration to pick up tab for Arlegui Mansion

THE NEXT administration will shoulder arrears on the Arlegui Mansion whether or not it will be used as official residence of the incoming president, a government official said yesterday.

Noynoy vows to make FOI bill his administration's priority

Left for dead by the 14th Congress, the controversial Freedom of Information bill - a landmark piece of legislation that will open government transactions and data to public scrutiny - will be the priority of the next administration, presidential race front-runner Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III said on Sunday.

Fight for Freedom of Information Bill is still on

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines -- The Catholic church is not giving up on the proposed Freedom of Information Bill (FOI), which the House of Representatives failed to ratify last week.

Enrile, Zubiri vow to re-file 'freedom of info' bill

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri vowed on Sunday to re-file the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and tackle it early on in the new Congress so that it would have a better chance of getting approval than the last time.

GMA kin among MIA for FOI - Philippine Star

Four relatives of President Arroyo were among the congressmen who did not show up in the last session of the House of Representatives last Friday, leading to the chamber's failure to ratify the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

The President's sons, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado "Dato" Arroyo and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, brother-in-law Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo, and sister-in-law Ma. Lourdes Arroyo of the Kasangga party-list were among the 139 congressmen who were absent during the crucial voting for ratification of the FOI.

Dato and Iggy were among the 85 lawmakers who co-authored the FOI bill who failed to appear to muster the quorum needed to ratify the measure.

Most of those absent were administration allies, with a few from the opposition, including outgoing Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of defeated Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora (San Juan).

Zamora was also one of the co-authors of the FOI, along with administration Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who was also absent.

Among the notables who did not show up were former speaker and Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr.

There were allegations that the effort to thumb down the FOI was all part of a "script" in which congressmen simply would not show up when a roll is called for a quorum.

Speaker Prospero Nograles clarified that the failure of the House to ratify the FOI was not scripted.

"What script they are talking about? It was in open public, transparent session in plenary. That's a very unfair accusation," he complained.

As soon as the session opened Friday, Camiguin Rep. Pedro Romualdo, who ironically heads the House committee on good government and public accountability, moved for a roll call for a quorum before ratifying the bill.

Romualdo stressed a quorum is needed before a legislation is tackled on the floor.

According to Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Rep. Joel Villanueva, some of his colleagues were just loitering around but did not show up when a roll call was called.

Villanueva identified some of them as Amin party-list Rep. Mujiv Hataman, Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia, Alagad Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pingoy, North Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, Alif party- list Rep. Acmad Tomawis and Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit.

Villanueva had tried to force the issue by moving to arrest the loitering congressmen and have them hauled on the floor for the quorum but this was denied.

The House adjourned session after failing to muster a quorum, as only 128 members showed up, which are seven votes shy of the required 135 warm bodies that could have continued the session.

"For the record, I have done everything I could. I have called, texted everybody. We can't take up any legislative business without a quorum. I wish we're not on our last session day. There is nothing I could do. The Speaker has to bang the gavel and adjourn," Nograles said.

He said the lack of quorum in last Friday's session "was beyond his control."

The House and the Senate approved the FOI in the bicameral conference committee. The Senate had ratified the bicameral version last Feb. 1 but the House failed to approve it.

Blaming us again

Malacañang said President Arroyo should not be blamed for the failure to pass the FOI bill.

Deputy presidential spokesman Rogelio Peyuan said Mrs. Arroyo was even disappointed by the failure of the House to ratify the FOI bill,

Peyuan said Malacañang has "never been remiss," and on several occasions, called on Congress to ratify the FOI bill as a priority measure.

"So I thing it would be unfair if they will be accusing that the President did not do enough. The Palace has been endorsing the passage of the (FOI) bill for a long, long time," he said.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar also hit critics who blame Mrs. Arroyo, pointing out the sponsors of the FOI bill themselves had killed the passage of the measure when they did not show up in last Friday's session.

"It's time to stop opposing and finger pointing, and start taking responsibility for governing," Olivar said.

Peyuan said the FOI bill was apparently sidelined by the political campaign of congressmen.

"We always respect the reasons or justifications that they (congressmen) have for not acting on the bill and primarily the matter of quorum is beyond the control of Malacañang for that matter," he said.

Peyuan said Mrs. Arroyo is hoping that the next administration would fast-track the approval of the measure.

Presidential frontrunner Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, for his part, gave assurance the next administration would support the passage of the FOI.

Aquino was among the senators who signed Senate Resolution 1565 urging the House to pass the measure.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they would make sure that the FOI bill would be re-filed and become a priority in the 15th Congress.

Enrile said the Senate did what they had to do and even went beyond by requesting their counterparts in the House to ratify the bicameral conference committee report through a resolution.

Enrile said the FOI bill was approved by both legislative chambers but there were disagreeing provisions in the bicameral report, which was ratified by the Senate as early as February.

"They (House members) were not able to do it but it's up to them, we can't demand, we can only appeal," he said.

Enrile said he is even willing to sponsor the bill in the 15th Congress.

"Who will (then) oppose (the bill) when we have approved it?" Enrile remarked.

Zubiri said senators were feeling bad about the House inaction on the bill.

He said the administration lawmakers who blocked the passage of FOI should realize that they could soon be in the opposition and would also need to secure documents in conducting investigations.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said they would push for the passage of the FOI in the incoming 15th Congress.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo also lamented some lawmakers deliberately did not show up in the last session where the FOI bill is scheduled to be ratified.

Pabillo claimed the congressmen protected their own interests.

"This 14th Congress lost the honor to bequeath a landmark for our democracy," Pabillo said.

Pabillo also hailed the lawmakers who worked for the FOI. He said they are worthy of the honor and respect of the public.

CBCP-NASSA executive secretary Fr. Edu Gariguez said the Filipino people mourned the lost opportunity of strengthening the country's democratic institution.

"The failure of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information bill is a shameless betrayal," Gariguez said.

Other sectors also slammed the House for failing to ratify the FOI bill.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) also urged the incoming lawmakers of the 15th Congress and Aquino to resurrect the FOI bill as a proof of his anti-corruption campaign.

TUCP chairman Ernesto Herrera said the new Congress and Aquino should approve the measure within the first 100 days of their office.

"The bill's approval inside the first 100 days of the new administration will surely give meaning to Mr. Aquino's forceful anti-corruption stance," Herrera said.

Herrera said workers are counting on the passage of the FOI bill to promote absolute transparency, reinforce public accountability and repel malfeasance in the government.

"Highly improved governance is vital to drawing in more investments and creating badly needed new jobs," Herrera pointed out.

The FOI bill seeks to strengthen the constitutional right to information on matters of civic concern, including state contracts.

The bill seeks to mandate all state offices to make available for public scrutiny all information regarding official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as statistics used for policy development.

The proposal also limits the executive privilege to withhold sensitive information only in times of war and emergency. – With Delon Porcalla, Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Helen Flores, Mayen Jaymalin and Michael Punongbayan


Stricter firearm control set after lifting of gun ban on June 9

THE POLICE will impose stricter firearm control after the Commission on Elections-imposed gun ban ends this week, with emphasis on the issuance of permits.

RP Gov't, MNLF, OIC agree on Mindanao development fund

The government panel and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have agreed to pursue the creation of a funding system that would spur economic development in the restive southern Philippines while both parties continued to work on the implementation of the final peace pact signed by both parties in 1996.

3 Abu Sayyaf captives killed

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Three kidnapped victims were killed by their Abu Sayyaf captors after trying to escape during a fire fight between the kidnappers and soldiers in the island-province of Basilan on Thursday.

$1: P46.300

$1: P46.300

Euro 1: P56.4222

Corona hopes judiciary to benefit from higher VAT

Newly appointed Chief Justice Renato Corona expressed a favorable opinion towards increasing the value-added tax (VAT) on consumer goods in light of the judiciary's pressing budget needs.

Japanese investors prefer RP and Indonesia

from mb.com.ph

The Philippines has become an attractive investment destination in southeast Asia for Japanese companies after they encountered difficulties in finding qualified manpower in China and Vietnam that made their cost of doing business in those countries already at more with the more expensive Philippines, but with readily available qualified personnel, officials from the Bank of Tokyo said.

This was relayed by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFG officials led by executive director Takashi Muraoka during a recent visit to Trade and Industry undersecretary and Board of Investments managing head Elmer C. Hernandez.

Muraoka, however, said that the Philippines has to slug it out with another Asean country Indonesia, which has also become an attractive investment destination in the region.

Hernandez said that Japanese businessmen are now training their eyes on the Philippines and Indonesia because although labor cost in China and Vietnam are lower than the Philippines, they have a big problem finding qualified manpower in these countries that they end up with higher cost that are already at par with the salary cost in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The biggest advantage of the Philippines is its huge pool of qualified manpower, Hernandez quoted Muraoka.

The Bank of Tokyo, which has been a partner of the BoI in its investment promotion together with the ASEAN-Japan Center, also said there are two ways to enhance the Philippines attractiveness as an investment destination. These are recognition by the government of the issues that have been raised by Japanese investors and what the government is doing about those concerns.

"Japan is watching closely, they are assessing if there is recognition and what the government is doing to address these issues," Hernandez said. The Bank of Tokyo has recognized there are issues that are unique only in a particular country, Hernandez said, but what is important to them is that the government is addressing those issues.

BSP to remit over P9 billion in dividends to NG

from mb.com.ph

Independent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) headed by Amando M. Tetangco Jr. Governor, is remitting P9.848 billion worth of total dividends this year, the highest in the history of the central bank – to the National Government (NG).

The amount is 75 percent of its 2009 unaudited net income of P13.131 billion, based on the BSP statement of income and expenses submitted to the Monetary Board Friday.

The BSP, unlike other government-owner and controlled corporations (GOCCs), remit higher dividend payments to the NG. The dividends law requires other GOCCs to pay only 50 percent of its net profits to the government, but BSP, based on its own charter, remits 75 percent of its net income to a special deposit account or to the NG as dividend.

The P9.848 billion will significantly help the NG reduce its budget gap program this year of P293 billion.

National Treasurer Roberto Tan has written the BSP last March as a reminder to remit the dividends based on Republic Act 7658, which instructs GOCCs to pay the dividends before April 30 of every year.

The BSP however has traditionally paid the dividends every July 3, during its anniversary month.

Also, BSP Deputy Governor Armando Suratos, in a reply to Tan, said that the computation and remittance of dividends under RA 7658 are not applicable to the BSP since they are covered by their own law, Republic Act No. 7653 or the New Central Bank Act, which stated that the BSP is an "independent and accountable body.

For its 2008 income of P8.93 billion, the BSP remitted P6 billion to the NG as dividend payments, representing 75 percent of total net profits.

Meanwhile, the central bank said the universal/commercial banks and thrift banks' real estate loans in the first quarter grew by 1.8 percent to P400.7 billion from the previous quarter, and up by nine percent year-on-year.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a press statement that banks additional exposure to real estate loans rose by 1.1 percent to P387.9 billion during the quarter, while investments in securities issued by real estate companies increased by 2.8 percent to P12.7 billion.

It was the big banks, as usual, which has the lion's share of real estate loans with 72.9 percent or P292 billion of total, while thrift banks share amounted to P108.7 billion or 27.1 percent.

BSP noted that the exposure of the big banks improved by 2.2 percent to P292 billion from the previous quarter and by ten percent from the same period in 2009. The exposure of thrift banks, in the meantime, expanded by 0.7 percent to P108.7 billion from previous quarter and by 6.6 percent from March 2009. Consistent with the higher level of real estate loans, said the BSP, the ratio of real estate loans to total loan portfolio, exclusive of interbank loans, increased to 15.2 percent.

BSP said real estate loans to the construction and development of real estate properties for commercial purposes accounted for 56.6 percent or P219.7 billion while 43.4 percent or P168.2 billion were loans for the acquisition, construction and/or improvement of residential real estate.

Also, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said banks credit card loans dipped 4.4 percent in the first quarter to P130.7 billion from the previous quarter, but auto loans went up 5.5 percent to P99.8 billion in the same period,

The press release said the big banks and mid-sized thrift banks' credit card receivables (CCRs) however recorded growth of four percent compared to the same period in 2009. The ratio of total CCRs to total loan portfolio, exclusive of interbank loans, also increased 5.1 percent from last quarter's five percent and March 2009's 4.9 percent.

BSP said universal/commercial banks accounted for 83.9 percent or P109.6 billion of total CCRs, while credit card subsidiaries contributed 15.7 percent or P20.5 billion. The smaller thrift banks that are not affiliated with the big banks accounted for only 0.4 percent or P500 million of the total.

GSIS assets grow 18% to P572B

The Government Service Insurance System has reported an 18-percent jump in its assets in 2009 from a year ago, claiming to have accomplished this financial performance mainly through reforms in the collection of premiums from members.

NKorea threatens SKorea for taking it to UN

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea threatened Sunday to retaliate against South Korea for taking it to the U.N. Security Council over the deadly sinking of a warship, calling the action an "intolerable provocation."

ILO urged to work for standard guidelines on domestic help

A Filipino woman leading an Asian migrants group called on the International Labor Organization to pressure governments, as well as workers and employers group to work for a convention setting international standards for domestic helpers.

Israel mulls formula for Gaza flotilla enquiry

JERUSALEM-- Israel's powerful inner forum of seven ministers was to meet behind closed doors on Sunday evening to seek ways to calm an international outcry over its deadly storming of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Church beatifies Pole slain by communists in 1984

WARSAW, Poland - Thousands of Poles filled a vast sunbathed square in Warsaw on Sunday for the beatification of Jerzy Popieluszko, a charismatic priest tortured and killed in 1984 by communist Poland's secret police for supporting Lech Walesa's Solidarity freedom movement.

Dodge Floyd: Jr avoiding Pacquiao, retires anew

The mega-fight between two of boxing"s explosive fighters that everyone wanted to see may not push through again this year after the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. is planning to take a "year or couple of years off" from boxing.

Cotto stops Foreman in Yankee Stadium boxing bout

by Agence France-Presse
NEW YORK – Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto stopped a game but injured Yuri Foreman in the 9th round to seize Foreman's World Boxing Association junior middleweight title at the new Yankee Stadium.

Painters waylay Realtors with late surge of Reyes, Tang

Jay-R Reyes and Ty Tang combined for half of the Rain or Shine's fourth quarter output as the Elasto Painters rolled to a 91-81 victory over the Sta. Lucia Realtors and remained in the running for an outright quarterfinal berth in the PBA Fiesta Conference.

Big Game James delivers as Llamados nip Beermen

James Yap saved the day for a Derby Ace team that played without an import in the final six minutes, sinking the game-winning basket as the Llamados edged defending champion San Miguel, 83-82, in a thrilling PBA Fiesta Cup match up Sunday night.

Bynum plans to keep on playing for Lakers on injured knee

by Reuters
LOS ANGELES - Andrew Bynum's injured right knee continues to swell but he will play through the pain barrier to help the Los Angeles Lakers tighten their grip on the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in Sunday's Game 2.

Nadal beats Soderling in French Open final

PARIS June 6 (Reuters) - Spain's Rafa Nadal won his fifth French Open title with a 6-4 6-2 6-4 victory over Sweden's Robin Soderling in Sunday's final.

Kris Aquino admits suggesting Abunda for DoT post

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Kris Aquino on Sunday broke her silence on talks about the possible appointment of television personality and close friend Boy Abunda as Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DoT).

Noynoy Aquino: RP's first bachelor president

MANILA, Philippines - After getting an overwhelming mandate in the May 10 polls, President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will go down in history as the country's first bachelor president.

Girlfriend to skip Noynoy's proclamation?

Will Shalani Soledad be present during the proclamation of his boyfriend, presidential front-runner Sen. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III? Aquino refused to directly answer the question when asked by reporters Sunday.

Yayo Aguila to Baron Geisler: It's time to face the music

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Actress Yayo Aguila has called on controversial actor Baron Geisler to come forward and face the charges filed against him.

KC nervous over Gabby-Sharon 'reunion'

Kinakabahan nga ba si KC Concepcion sa napipintong 'reunion' ng kanyang mga magulang?

Jolo Revilla courting Melissa Ricks, says his mom

by abs-cbnNEWS.com
MANILA, Philippines – Jolo Revilla is courting actress Melissa Ricks, the young actor's mom, Lani Mercado, said. In her interview with "The Buzz," Mercado also confirmed that her son brought Ricks to a recent family gathering.

Al Gore-Loren Legarda 'love team' emerges on Twitter

MANILA, Philippines - He's on the heels of his separation from his wife, and she had her marriage annulled years ago. Both of them suffered defeat after seeking electoral posts, and have a strong passion for climate change and the environment.

PAGASA: Rainy season officially starts

Now it's official: The rainy season of 2010 has started in the Philippines. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Sunday said this was due to several factors that brought rain in past days.

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