Saturday, January 28, 2012


Former Finance Secretary Roberto F. De Ocampo, Me and Maria Ressa

Arangkada, a tagalog term, verb, which means as “to move fast” or “acceleration of motion” hence “umarangkada ka na” (go) or “umalis kana” (go now). And for the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce (JFC) who are here in the Philippines as investors and guests, they chose this term for the Economy of the Philippines to move as twice as fast hence the forum that was held at the posh Marriot Hotel at Pasay City last January 26, 2012 has this title; Arangkada Philippines Forum: Moving twice as fast. (maybe they think that the past administration is slow or they want to give a hint to the new one).

President Noynoy Aquino was the keynote speaker and gladly stayed for a few minutes to answer some questions, a must, with the high profile successful businessman, top investors and business leaders in the country who attended the event such as Environmental planner and development consultant Architect Felino Palafox, Governor of Ilocos Norte Imee Marcos Araneta and Tycoon Oscar Lopez not to mention the speakers like John Casey who is the president of the Australian- New Zealland Chamber of Commerce, Gloria Steele who assumed the duties as the Mission Director for USAID/Philippines last July 2010, Hon. Gregory Domingo of Department of Trade and Industry, John D. Forbes who is the Senior Adviser of the Investment Climate Improvement Project under the American Chamber of Commerce, Former Secretary of Finance Roberto F. De Ocampo who was the best speaker among the rest for his “ Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure “ words that even some speakers keep on repeating after his talk, Guilermmo M. Luz who is the Co- Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, Hubert d’ Aboville who is the President of the European Chamber of Commerce among the distinguished speakers and participants from the forum.

In the forum, they discussed on how the Philippines will become competitive with the help of good governance, transparency and good laws that will not just change every minute. The seven key sectors that need to established and could provide the Philippine economy stability from the JFC point of view are:

1. Infrastructure
2. Agri- Buiness Enterprise
3. Buisness Processing Outsourcing (BPOs)
4. Creative Industries
5. Manufacturinf and Logistics
6. Mining
7. Tourism

As a member of Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs), the forum gave me a vision to attain higher than what we have achieve so far. The foreign and local movers and shakers of this economy right now are successful in their field and easy for them to talk about their experiences though screaming loudly in their lungs that to move twice as fast, the country must remove bureaucracy, red tape, corruption, streamlining and good governance which are a must not only for the foreign investors, but also for the whole Filipino people who are suffering from poverty because of those deficiencies.

Competitiveness is a must and to achieve ones goal. Education is the key. The Philippines has a higher demand for good education but quality is less among the education system. To succeed they said that, Infrastructure is one of the best sector, according to the former Finance Secretary, If we have many good infrastructure such as railways, airports or manufacturing companies that could employ a lot of people and that could make us work faster.

Roberto F. Batungbcal was the most articulate from the panelist. He is the chairman of AmCham manufacturing and Logistics Committee and the Philippine Country Manager from Dow Chemical Industry. From him the status of manufacturing in the Philippines are as follows:

a. Manufacturing is 21% of GDP, the largest economic sector in the Philippines
b. Estimated total revenue of US $ 121 Billion.
c. 83% of 2010 FDI is Manufacturing, 40% of 2010 Total Investment is Manufacturing and it grew by 102% in 2010 to US $ 5 Billion.
d. In first half of 2011, it grew again by 191%…US $ 3.3 Billion.
e. NSO’s Annual Survey of the Philippine Business and Industries states: manufacturing dominates the economy with the total revenue of US $74 Billion.
f. Philippine Econom is very diverse (semicona and electronics is only 14% of total revenues)
g. 86% of exports are manufactured good, rapid growth of non “high-tech” exports grew 29% in 2010, 18% in 2011 (led by wood products, chemicals, garments, machineries and transport equipment)

In Laguna, there were 26 Municipalities and 4 Cities. Those four cities basically get a high revenue because of the Technical and Science Parks where Industrial Manufacturing Companies are located such as Samsung, Fujitsu, Toyota Motor Philippines and First Sumiden. Manufacturing Companies employs thousands of employees, they even given transportation to reach the company. Majority who are working here are High School graduates as operators thus lack of education is one big problem in the country. Those employees who didn’t have a college degree are earning more or less below the poverty line.

Recommendation of Engr. Roberto Batungbacal:

a. Create a Philippine manufacturing Strategy based on;
1. Integration of basic and manufacturing sector with the consumer markets including the enabling of infrastructure
2. Diversification and upgrading of industries, sectors and products.
3. Long term planning that creates linkages between export and domestic manufacturing.
4. Driven by innovation and sustainability
5. Leveraging on Government leadership and resources
For me, based on the current situation of the government, I agreed with the solution to accelerate the motion of the Philippine Economy which are, removal of red tape, corrupted official, transparenc, streamlining and good governance. Without those diseases, The Philippines will gain more investors and the Filipinos will have a different mindset. Te key always will come from the Leaders and right now, those we elected who are supposed t be the Filipino leaders must do something for the future of this country. Arangkada na!

The other panelist from the business sectors were Philip Soliven, Alfredo Ayala, Henry J. Schumacher, Micheal Raeuber, Dan C. Lachica, John Ridsdel, Aileen Clemente, Nobuya Ichiki, Avelino DL. Zapanta, Meneleo J. Carlos Jr., Daniel Chalmers,Rene SantiagoEnrico Basilio, Don Felbam, Ray Cunningham, Edward Chang, Donald De, Corazon Claudio, Vincent Lazatin, Jose Midas Marquez, Edgardo Lacson, Romeo Bernanrdo, Rommel Banlaoi, Kenneth Hartigan- Go, Ricke Jennings, Julian Payne with Marria Ressa, david Celdran and Coco Alcuaz as the moderators of the event that lasted for six hours.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What is SALN?

This time, for a common Juan and Maria like me and for the majority of the population, another term, another Acronym in our vocabulary, SALN or Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth is the talk of the town in relation to the impeachment trial against Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona. The chief was the one who issued or approved the medical treatment abroad of the former President of the Philippines and now under hospital arrest, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. That actually was the start of the suspicion of the Yellow army that leads for them to investigate his relationship to the incumbent Congresswoman of Pampanga.

It’s been almost one and a half years since we elected the son of the former president of the Philippines. Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino is the only son of the slain hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and one of his programs is to clean the decades of corruption in the Philippines. He swore to start it and from the past months, we prove that he is true to his promise, there’s Reyes, Garcia, Ligot, Guttierez who were all either appointed or under the previous administration.

Let me share to you this article below that I found from the web. This is in relation on why SALN is so important for the transparency of a government official to the Filipino people. I am not a lawyer but I am aware of the fact that the Philippines are suffering from poverty, which is due from the repeated greed of those we elected. Filipinos for this 2012 is more or less 95 million and because there are no works available for most of us, a lot of people are living below the poverty line.

Let’s read on why SALN is important and is enough for Corona to be impeached if proven a discrepancy on his submitted SALN.

The Experience of Asset Declaration in the Philippines
By: Assistant Ombudsman Pelagio S. Apostol
Office of the Ombudsman
Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City
Republic of the Philippines

As an effective strategy to combat corruption and promote ethical conduct in public service in the Philippines, as early as June 18, 1955, Republic Act 1379 was passed and approved into law declaring forfeiture in favor of the State any property found to have been unlawfully acquired by any public officer or employee. This refers to an amount of property acquired by any public officer or employee during his/her incumbency which is manifestly out of proportion to his/her salary as such public officer or employee and to his/her other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property.

In order to effectively implement Republic Act 1379, several legislative measures were installed and one of them is the requirement of asset declaration which is the primary and effective tool to find evidence of illegal enrichment.
On August 17, 1960, Republic Act 3019, as amended, was passed and approved into law, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act of the Philippines. Section 7 of the said Act, expressly states:

"Section 7. Statement of Assets and Liabilities. - Every public officer, within thirty days after assuming office and, thereafter, on or before the fifteenth day of April following the close of every calendar year, as well as upon the expiration of his term of office, or upon his resignation or separation from office, shall prepare and file with the office of the corresponding Department Head, or in the case of a Head of Department or Chief of an independent office, with the Office of the President, a true detailed and sworn statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year; xxx…."(As amended by RA 3047, PD 677 and PD 1288, January 24, 1978) (underlining supplied)
On February 20, 1989, this particular Section of the Act was modified and expanded by the passage of Republic Act 6713, otherwise known as the
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Section 8 of the said Act, expressly states:
“Section 8. Statements and Disclosure. - Public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.” (underlining supplied)
Asset disclosure is mandated by the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution, expressly states:
“Section 17. A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”

The requirement of asset declaration covers all public officials and employees, except those who serve in an official honorary capacity, without service credit or pay, temporary laborers, and casual or temporary and contractual workers.
This is embodied in Rule VIII (Review and Compliance Procedure) of the Rules Implementing Republic Act 6713, which explicitly states:

“Section 1. Filing and Submission of SALN on Time and to the Proper Official

a. All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an official honorary capacity, without service credit or pay, temporary laborers and casual or temporary and contractual workers, shall file under oath their SALNs and Disclosure of Business Interest and Financial Connections with their respective Chief or Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), to wit:

b. Public officials and employees under temporary status are also required to file under oath their SALNs and Disclosure of Business Interest and Financial Connections in accordance with the guidelines provided under these rules.

c. Public officials and employees are strictly required to fill in all applicable information and/or make a true and detailed statement in their SALNs.” (underlining supplied)

(Revised and Clarified by CSC Resolution No. 060231)

The contents of the declaration are embodied in Rule VII, Section 1(a) of the Rules Implementing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which expressly states:

(a) Contents of Statement
(1) The Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth shall contain information on the following:
(a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value, and current fair market value;
(b) personal property and acquisition costs;
(c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like; and
(d) All financial liabilities, both current and long-term.
(2) The Disclosure of Business interests and Financial Connections shall contain information on any existing interests in, or any existing connections with, any business enterprises or entities, whether as proprietor, investor, promoter, partner, shareholder, officer, managing director, executive, creditor, lawyer, legal consultant or adviser, financial or business consultant, accountant, auditor, and the like, the names and addresses of the business enterprises or entities, the dates when such interests or connections were established, and such other details as will show the nature of the interests or connections.”
(underlining supplied)

In order to capture and uniformly comply with the requirement as to the sufficiency of the contents of the declaration an official form has been prescribed and labeled as “Sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth, Disclosure of Business Interest and Financial Connections, and Identifications of Relatives in the Government Service”. The prescribed blank form is hereunder shown:

The Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth is required to be filed by a public officer or employee within thirty(30) days after assumption of office, and on or before April 30 of every year thereafter and within thirty days after separation from the service. Rule VIII, Section 1(a) of the Rules Implementing Republic Act 6713, expressly states:

“Section 1. Filing and Submission of SALN on Time and to the Proper Official

a. All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an official honorary capacity, without service credit or pay, temporary laborers and casual or temporary and contractual workers, shall file under oath their SALNs and Disclosure of Business Interest and Financial Connections with their respective Chief or Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), to wit:

1. Within thirty (30) days after assumption of office, statements of which must be reckoned as of his/her first day of service;

2. On or before April 30 of every year thereafter, statements of which must be reckoned as of the end of the preceding year, and

3. Within thirty (30) days after separation from the service, statements of which must be reckoned as of his/her last day of office.”

Upon receipt of the Statements of Asset, Liabilities and Networth (SALNs) the same are evaluated to determine whether or not they have been properly accomplished by the filers. Those who did not comply are required to comply by the Head of Office thru Compliance Order directing the concerned employee(s) to comply within a non-extendible period of three (3) days from receipt of the order. Thereafter, the original copies of the SALNs are transmitted, on or before June 30 of every year to the concerned offices, to act as custodian of the said documents. Sections 2, 3 and 5 of Rule VIII (Review and Compliance Procedure), expressly state:

“Section 2. Duties of the Chief/Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/HRMO

Upon receiving the SALN forms, the Chief/Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/HRMO shall evaluate the same to determine whether said statements have been properly accomplished. A SALN is deemed properly accomplished when all applicable information or details required therein are provided by the filer. Items not applicable to the filer should be marked N/A (not applicable).
The Chief/Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/HRMO shall submit a list of employees in alphabetical order, who: a)filed their SALNs with complete data; b) filed their SALNs but with incomplete data; and c) did not file their SALNs, to the head of office, copy furnished the CSC, on or before May 15, of every year.

Section 3. Ministerial Duty of the Head of Office to issue Compliance Order
Immediately upon receipt of the aforementioned list and recommendation, it shall be the ministerial duty of the Head of Office to issue an order requiring those who have incomplete data in their SALN to correct/supply the desired information and those who did not file/submit their SALNs to comply within a non-extendible period of three (3) days from receipt of said order.
Assets and/or properties acquired, donated or transferred in the name of the filer for a particular year, but were not declared on his/her SALN for that year, as the same came to his/her knowledge only after he/she has filed, corrected and/or submitted his/her SALN, must be declared or reflected in the filer’s next or succeeding SALN.”

Section 5. Transmittal of all submitted SALNs to the concerned agencies on or before June 30.
The Chief/Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/HRMO shall transmit all original copies of the SALNs received, on or before June 30 of every year, to the concerned offices, as specified below:

National Office of the Ombudsman -President and Vice-President of the Philippines -Chairmen and Commissioners of Constitutional Commissions and Offices
Secretary of the Senate -Senators

Secretary General of the House of Representatives -Congressmen
Clerk of Court of the Supreme -Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeal
Court Administrator -Judges of the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court, Municipal and Special Courts
Office of the President -National Executive Officials such as Members of the Cabinet, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, including the Foreign Service Offices -Heads of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations with original charters and their subsidiaries, and State College and Universities -Officers of the Armed Forces from the rank of colonel or Naval Captain
Deputy Ombudsman -Regional Officials and Employees of Departments, Bureaus and Agencies of the National Government including the Judiciary and Constitutional Commission and Offices -Regional Officials and Employees of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations and their subsidiaries in the region -All other officials and employees of state Colleges and Universities -Regional Officers below the rank of Colonel or Naval Captain including Civilian Personnel of the AFP -Regional Officials and Employees of the PNP -Provincial Officials and Employees including Governors, Vice-Governors and Sangguniang

Panlalawigan Members -Municipal and City Officials and Employees including Mayors, Vice-Mayors, Sangguniang Bayan/Panlungsod Members and Barangay Officials
Civil Service Commission -All other Central Officials and Employees of Departments, Bureaus and Agencies of the National Government, including the Judiciary and Constitutional Commissions and Offices, as well as Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations Departments, Bureaus and Agencies of the National Government, including the Judiciary and Constitutional Commissions and Offices, as well as Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations and their subsidiaries -Appointive Officials and Employees of the Legislature -All other Central Officers below the Rank of Colonel or Naval Captain as well as Civilian-Personnel of the AFP -All other Uniformed and Non-Uniformed Central Officials and Employees of the PNP, BJMP and BFP

In August 2006 (last year), the SALN Data Bank System was designed and installed in the Office of the Ombudsman to capture SALNs filed at the Central Office. This system is still in its initial implementation stage but later on it can be adopted by the area/sectoral offices. It has the capability to track compliance by producing a report showing a list of filers who filed their SALNs in the previous years but did not file this year. It is also useful in trend analysis by providing data about the yearly percentage increase in the networth of a filer.

Section 4 of Rule VIII (Compliance and Procedure) provides sanctions against an officer or employee for failure to correct/submit his/her SALN in accordance with the procedure. On the other hand, Section 6 of the said Rule provides a penalty against the Head of Office and/or the Chief/Head of the Personnel/Administrative Divisions who failed to perform their duties relative to the processing of SALNs. Sections 4 and 6 of Rule VIII, expressly state:

“Section 4. Sanction for Failure to Comply/Issuance of a Show-Cause Orders
Failure of an official or employee to correct/submit his/her SALN in accordance with the procedure and within the given period pursuant to the directive in Section 3 hereof shall be a ground for disciplinary action. The Head of Office shall issue a show-cause order directing the official or employee concerned to submit his/her comment or counter-affidavit; and if the evidence so warrants, proceed with the conduct of the administrative proceedings pursuant to the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (CSC Resolution No. 99-1936 dated August 31, 1999). The offense of failure to file SALN is punishable under Rule IV, Section 52 (B) (8) thereof, with the following penalties:
1st offense - Suspension for one (1) month and one (1) day to 6 months
2nd offense - Dismissal from the service

Section 6. Penalty
The Head of the Office and/or the Chief/Head of the Personnel/Administrative Division or Unit/HRMO who failed to perform their duties may be held liable for neglect of duty under Section 46, Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No.292).”
The officer or employee who violated the requirements of asset declaration can also be criminally and/or administratively punished under the following provisions of laws:
a) Section 11 of Republic Act 6713, expressly states:

“Section. 11. Penalties. - (a) Any public official or employee, regardless of whether or not he holds office or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or regular capacity, committing any violation of this Act shall be punished with a fine not exceeding the equivalent of six (6) months' salary or suspension not exceeding one (1) year, or removal depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency. If the violation is punishable by a heavier penalty under another law, he shall be prosecuted under the latter statute. Violations of Sections 7, 8 or 9 of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos (P5,000.00), or both, and, in the discretion of the court of competent jurisdiction, disqualification to hold public office.
(underlining supplied)
(b) Any violation hereof proven in a proper administrative proceeding shall be sufficient cause for removal or dismissal of a public official or employee, even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against him.
(c) Private individuals who participate in conspiracy as co-principals, accomplices or accessories, with public officials or employees, in violation of this Act, shall be subject to the same penal liabilities as the public officials or employees and shall be tried jointly with them.”
b) Section 9(b) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, likewise expressly states:
“Section 9. Penalties for violations. –
(b) Any public officer violating any of the provisions of Section 7 of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand pesos nor more than five thousand pesos, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year and six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court.
The violation of said section proven in a proper administrative proceedings shall be sufficient cause for removal or dismissal of a public officer, even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against him."(As amended by BP Blg. 195, March 16, 1982).”

c) Perjury under article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, with penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correcional in its minimum period ranging from four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and
four (4) months imprisonment for making a statement upon a material matter; that the statement was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath; that the statement contains willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood; and, that the sworn statement containing the falsity is required by law.
d) Falsification under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code with a penalty of prision mayor ranging from six years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years imprisonment – for making untruthful statements in the narration of facts; and, that he/she has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated by him.
e) Under Section 52 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service for Dishonesty with a penalty of dismissal from the service for the first offense.

The public has access to the declarations/statements but with certain limitations. Section 8(C) and (D) of Republic Act 6713, expressly states:

(C) Accessibility of documents. - (1) Any and all statements filed under this Act, shall be made available for inspection at reasonable hours.
(2) Such statements shall be made available for copying or reproduction after ten (10) working days from the time they are filed as required by law.
(3) Any person requesting a copy of a statement shall be required to pay a reasonable fee to cover the cost of reproduction and mailing of such statement, as well as the cost of certification.
(4) Any statement filed under this Act shall be available to the public for a period of ten (10) years after receipt of the statement. After such period, the statement may be destroyed unless needed in an ongoing investigation.
(D) Prohibited acts. - It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain or use any statement filed under this Act for:
(a) any purpose contrary to morals or public policy; or

(b) any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public.

The survey as to the number of complaints related to Asset Declaration filed with the Office of the Ombudsman yearly from Year 2007 (this year) down to Year 2000 shows the following:
Year Complaint for Failure to File or Failure to File a True and Detailed SALN Complaint for Forfeiture Total
2007 (As of June 30) 21 14 35
2006 40 22 62
2005 43 27 70
2004 25 18 43
2003 22 15 37
2002 18 7 25
2001 12 8 20
2000 22 4 26

The Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) Report as to the number of administrative charges filed by the Commission pertaining to non-filing or failure to file a true and detailed Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) from 2003 – 2007 shows the following:
Year Non-Filing of SALN Failure to File a True and Detailed SALN Total
2003 - 4 4
2004 - 3 3
2005 1 - 1
2006 1 5 6
2007 (as of June 30) - 7 7
The Sandiganbayan, the Anti-Graft Court of the Philippines, reported eight (8) Petitions for Forfeiture filed from Year 2002 to year 2005 as follows:
Civil Case Number Date Filed
0189 July 29, 2002
0190 March 10, 2003
0192 September 27, 2004
0193 October 27, 2004
0194 June 7, 2005
0195 July 4, 2005
0196 July 5, 2005
0197 September 13, 2005

The following are the common observations/findings in the investigation of cases involving asset declaration in the Philippines:

1. non-filing of SALN

2. non-declaration of assets

3. non-declaration of improvements

4. non-declaration of business interest and other financial connections

5. assets are recorded in the name of dummies or other persons except beneficial use

6. changing the mode of acquisition of assets

7. lumping of illegitimate assets to intermingle with other legitimate assets

8. disposal of newly acquired asset with fantastic selling price to justify sharp increase in networth

9. almost all filers subject to lifestyle check claimed that they won in lotteries

10. increase of liabilities due to bank loans without an actual or existing loan in the bank

11. recording of non-existing assets during the initial submission of SALN

- END-

Monday, January 16, 2012

In the name of Progress

Progress the idea that the world can become increasingly better in terms of science, technology, modernization, liberty, democracy, quality of life, etc., We can also use the term improvement as a synonym, but does every improvement a good thing for mankind?.

Tall towering buildings, Parks with PVC slides, synthetic umbrellas, concrete cartoon characters in every corner, artificial falls, air conditioned malls with expensive jewelries and fancy clothes, moving steel stairs, elevators, concrete swimming pools, cars parking in the concrete pavement, Science parks to give way for Manufacturing companies, Airports, Casinos, Subdivisions with row houses, hectares of themed parks with artificial river and so on in the name of progress. People are amaze with the idea of improvements and changes without mostly thinking the side effects or impacts in the environment and a long- term impact in the society.

Conversion of land from Agricultural to Commercial needs cutting of trees, excavation of soil for foundation or might be to increase the value of the land, but on the other side, it could mean also, shortage of food supply, pollution, damage to habitat, soil erosion, extinction or climate change.

When we heard about the story of what will happen to almost 180 trees in one place in the Philippines, which is popular for its Pine trees and cold weather, most environmentalist disagreed and rallied. The move of this Retail store giant to remove the trees or transfer the three from its original location is to give way for the multi stories car park for its customers. For the name of progress, are we going to exchange those 180 trees for a parking slot? Trees are hard to grow and from the internet, “Trees are an important component of the natural landscape because of their prevention of erosion and the provision of a weather-sheltered ecosystem in and under their foliage. They also play an important role in producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as moderating ground temperatures.”

It’s year 2012 and we deal “Climate Change” now as a serious environmental problem. With so many calamities which I am calling “Human induced” calamities, the government is asking for the Filipino people to do our part to combat this problem like removal of plastics, waste segragation, solid waste management, implemented laws like clean water act or simply by planting trees.

The proposed “transfer “ of 182 trees made the social media roar with anger and almost 2000 residents from Bagiuo signed a petition to stop the said SM project which has a go signal from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. A signed approval for the project was signed last October 27, 2011.
If in the name of progress and if the project is approved by the agency that swore to protect the environment, who are we to argue? In the name of progress, trees might be extinct in the future, might be in a museum and for our grandchildren to see and feel with a fee.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In other words: "This is for you Mr. President" An essay from CGMA

January 12, 2012. The author of the article on the economy that was read by Dr. Gonzalo Jurado at the Manila Hotel, Sampaguita Room is the fourteenth president of the Philippines, from 2001 to 2010.

As the daughter of the late and former president Diosdado Macapagal, Dr. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo graduated at the top of her class, a deans lister at Georgetown University and now the Congresswoman of Pampanga.

Professor Gary Olivar gave an introduction about the former President’s achievements and the introduction of the speaker, which was no other than Dr. Gonzalo M. Jurado who later answered a question from the audience that “ President Pnoy is lazy.”

Title: It’s the economy, student! By Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, PhD

(I wrote this article on and off in my spare timeduring my house recuperation, re-hospitalization and hospital detention from October to December 2011.)

The economy I turned over

Countless studies have shown that rapid increases in average incomes reduce poverty. Policy research, notes economist Stephan Klasen, has shown that “poverty reduction will be fastest in countries where average income growth is highest.”

When I stepped down from the Presidency in June 2010, I was able to turn over to the next Administration a new Philippines with 7.9 percent growth rate. The growth rate capped 38 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth despite escalating global oil and food process, two world recessions, Central and West asian wars, mega-storms and virulent global epidemics. Our country had just weathered with flying colors the worst planet-wide economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1930. as two-thirds of the world’s economic contracted, we were one of the few that managed positive growth.

If you look around you in our cities as you drive by the office towers that have changed the skyline, if you look around you in our provinces as you drive over the roads, bridges and RORO port where we made massive investments, that is the face of change that occurred during my administration.

By the time I left the Presidency, nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos had access to health insurance, more than 100,000 new classrooms had built, 9 million jobs had been created.

We built roads and bridges, ports and airports, irrigation and education facilities where they were solely needed. To millions of the poor, we provided free or subsidized rice, discounted fuel and electricity, or conditional cash transfers and we advanced land reform for farmers and indigenous communities.

No amount of black propaganda can erase the tangible improvements enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of families liberated from want during my decade at the helm of the nation. But these accomplishments have simply been part of the continuum of history. The gains I achieved were built on the efforts of previous leaders. Each successive government must build on the successes and progress of the previous ones: advance the programs that work, leave behind those that don’t.

I am confident that I left this nation stronger than when I came into office. When I stepped down, I called on everyone to unite behinds our new leaders. I was optimistic and I was hopeful about our future.

However, the evidence is mounting that my optimism was misplaced. Our growth in the 3rd quarter of 2011 was only 3.2 percent, well below all the forecast that had already been successively downgraded. The momentum inherited by President Aquino from my administration is slowing down, and despite his initial brief honeymoon period, he has simply not replaced my legacy with new ideas and actions of his own.

The politics of division

In the last year and a half, I have noted with sadness the increasing vacuum of leadership, vision, energy and execution in managing our economic affairs. The gains achieved by previous administrations- mine included- are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession- in slumping growth, under achieving government, escalating crime and conflict, and the excesses of a presidential clique that enjoys fancy cars and gun culture.

Vilification covering up the vacuum of vision is the latest manifestation of the weak state that our generation of Filipinos has inherited. The symptoms of this weak state are a large gap between rich and poor- a gap that has been exploited for political ends- and a political sysytem based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage. Recently, politics has seen the use of black propaganda and character assassination as tools of the trade.

The operative word in all of this is “politics”= too much politics.

I know that the President has to be a politician, like everybody else in our elected leadership, whether Administration or Opposition, and we must all co –exist within this system. But what really matters is what kind of politics we espouse, not how much. The enemy to beat is ourselves: when we spread division rather than unity; when we put ego above country and sensationalism above rationality; when we make everyday politics replace long term vision in our country’s hour of need.

Everyday we draw nearer to what may be our country’s hour of greatest need, because an increasingly ominous global environment is aggravating our self- inflicted weakness. The leadership’s palpable deficiencies in vision and execution are hurting our economy at a time when the rest of the world faces the ever more real threat of a double- dip recession, one that we may have escaped the first time during my term, but might not be able to avoid again.

Our dream of growth

In order to avoid such a grim outcome, we must pursue the economic growth of our country as the permanent solution to our age- old problems of poverty and even corruption. Every postwar administration to my recollection has sought to advance the economic growth of our country as a matter of highest priority. Only by enlarging the economic pie can there be more and bigger slices for everyone to enjoy.

It is the poverty that we find the material roots of the problem of corruption- because the political system based on patronage- and ultimately, corruption to support patronage- is made possible only by the large gap between the rich and the poor. This will persist until and unless we enlarge the economic pie. Unfortunately, the present Administration has chosen to turn the problem upside down, anchoring their entire development strategy on one simplistic slogan: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” If there is no corruption, there is no poverty- this is a proposition that also tells us that the undeniable persistence of poverty to this day therefore means the continuation of corruption under this Administration.

The Economist commented earlier that: “…the President’s approach of fighting to punish the sins of the past rather than try to prevent crime in the future. Mr. Aquino has proposed few reforms to the system.”

Meanwhile, most analysts are downgrading their growth forecasts for this year and the next. The Dutch bank ING cited the government’s “under- spending in the name of good governance” as the reason for lowering its growth forecasts.

Now more than ever, as the rest of the world faces renewed threats of financial and even sovereign defaults as well as economic recession, it is high time for us to return to the commitment to growth that has been the primary objective of every administration in the past.

Sunshine industries

Returning to this mainstream commitment to growth enables the country to tap the opportunities of the 21st century. In line with this, during my time we promoted fast- growing industries where high- value jobs are most plentiful.

One of them is information and communication technology or ICT, particularly the outsourcing of knowledge and business processes. My Administration developed the call center industry almost from scratch: in June2010 there were half a million call center and BPO workers, from less than 5,000 when I took office. It was mainly for them that we built our fifth, virtual super- region: the so- called “cyber corridor”, the nationwide backbone for our call centers and BPO industry which rely on constant advances in IT and the essentially zero cost of additional bandwidth.

These youthful digital pioneers deserve government’s a continuing support- by upgrading instead of downgrading and politicizing CICT, the government agency that overseas our digital infrastructure; by continuing to fund related voctech training programs; by wooing instead of alienating foreign companies seeking to set up shop here. As countries like China and Korea rapidly make their own way up the value-added ladder of outsourcing, we must work harder to stay ahead of them.

I had coffee with some call center agents one Labor Day when I was President. Lyn, a new college graduate, told me, “Now I don’t have to leave the country in order for me to help my family.” I was touched. With the structural reforms we implemented to promote ICT and BPOs, we not only found jobs but kept families intact.

We created appealing employment opportunities b focusing on the development of priority sectors, such as BPO. We need to create more wealth and keep people working here at home. That is why I remained so stubbornly focused on the economy. Many times during my tenure I expressed how much I longed for the day when going abroad for a job is a career option, not the only choice, for a Filipino worker. My economic plans were designed to allow the Philippines to break out of theboom and bust cycle of an economy dependent on global markets for agricultural commodities, and pursue consistent and sustainable growth anchored on a large domestic market and the resiliency of Filipino workers at home and abroad.

My successor flattered me by parroting what I said, but tried to frustrate me by distorting what I did. Instead of acknowledging his debt to his predecessor, he accused me of doing the opposite of what I had achieved, by describing my government as “…[one] that treats its people as an export commodity and a means to earn foreign exchange”. Then he promised to install what I had already established and which he appears bent on dismantling: “…a government that creates jobs at home, so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity; and when its citizens do choose to become OFWs, their welfare and protection will still be the government’s priority.

Indeed, it’s so easy to claim achievements that have already been accomplished by others, and take credit for what is there when the one who did the work has gone. Just make sure she is forgotten, or, if remembered, vilified.

The President’s words were brave indeed- and yet his government has consistently failed to back them up: by failing to rescue our countrymen from China’s death row, or promptly evacuate them from national disaster in Japan, or comprehensively secure them from political unrest in Libya and elsewere in the Middle East. Now we are facing a new challenge of “ Saudiization”, as the government of our largest OFW market, Saudi Arabia, sets out to implement a massive program of replacing OFW’s with its own nationals, starting next year.

Will this government have the will and the skill to properly navigate such uncertain waters? Protecting our overseas workers will urgently require contingency planning and continuous backdoor diplomacy with their host governments, while creating alternative jobs at home for them will require- again- the kind of commitment to economic expansion that I cannot over- emphasize.


Infrastructure strengthens our competitiveness and enables us to attract new levels of job- creating foreign direct investment. Infrastructure investments not only drives economic growth, but also creates a more efficient, competitive economy, by improving productivity and lowering the costs of doing business.

I am alarmed that the pace of infrastructure build-out has slowed dramatically under this Administration, with some projects even being cancelled outright for no good reason- such as the earlier noted flood control projects in Central Luzon- and our country being sued by investors. At a time when we should be wooing their money, we are inviting litigation from them instead. This kind of flip-flopping may help explain the tepid investor response to the Administration’s flagship public- private partnership (PPP) program, where only one project has been awarded after all of eighteen months.

I am heartened to hear the President announce recently his willingness to resume government infrastructure spending next year. However, one cannot help but notice the timing, so close to the upcoming 2013 election campaign.

Land productivity

In my first State of the Nation Address in 2001, I said that the first component of our national agenda should be an economic philosophy of free enterprise appropriate to the twenty- first century, while the second should be a modernized agricultural sector founded on social equity.

Within a couple of months after taking office in January 2001,I personally conducted cabinet meetings to implement the Agriculture and Fisheries modernization Act of 1995, which had never been implemented for luck of funds. After several discussions with selected department secretaries as well as heads of government banks, we uncovered budget items and available credit to channel more than P20 billion a year to provide fertilizers, irrigation and infrastructure, extension services, more loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities. And seeds and other genetic materials to our farmers and fisherfolk. This was perhaps the biggest reason for the decline in poverty that was posted during my first few years in office.

The current Administration originally fixated on the single goal of achieving self- sufficiency in rice by 2013. I too wanted to achieve rice self- sufficiency, but I knew the odds were tough. Since the Spanish period we’ve been importing rice. While we may know how to grow rice well, topography doesn’t always cooperate. Nature did not gift us with a mighty Mekong River like Thailand and Vietnam, with their vast and naturally fertile river delta plains. Nature instead put our islands ahead of our neighbors in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. So historically we’ve had to import 10% of our rice, and so I took care to keep our goals for agriculture wide- ranging and diversified.

Recently the Administration seems to have retreated from the original objective of rice self –sufficiency by 2013. In its place, do they have an alternative vision in mind for our all-important agricultural sector?

The real challenge in this century in broader. The real task at hand is to make the finite land that we had planted to agriculture ever more productive, though agricultural modernization founded on social equity.

Higher productivity from farm lands is critical for our development. By making more food available at lower prices especially to our poor, we are effectively bringing down the required level of real wages in our country- already among the highest in the world, according to UP Professor many Esguerra- and helping to make our manufacturing industries globally competitive again.

As for social equity, being the daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, the father of land reform in our country, I am gratified by the evaluation of one of my favorite Economics teachers, UP Professor Gonzalo Jurado: “The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, to the extent that it is a land distribution program, can now be described as having almost completely succeeded in attaining its goal. [CARP] should now be a developmental program aiming explicitly to raise farm productivity…so that the country as a whole will benefit from the tenurial rearrangement.

And of course it is the landowners who must set the example of compliance with the law in order to allow the rest of us to move forward- such as the Arroyos in my husband’s family, who voluntarily submitted long ago to land reform even without an order from the Supreme Court to do the right thing.

Our children

For Filipinos, family is everything and the future of our children is sacred. That is why I invested so much time and effort in rejuvenating our education system. I met with teachers and other educators to get a first- hand look at the improvements that we need to make. I listened to what theses fine public servants had to say, and in response to their advice, I increased the country’s total budget for education by nearly four times: from Ps 6.6 Billion in 2000 to Ps 24.3 illion in 2010 when I stepped down. Those funds went into the following critical areas of educational spending.

· We built 100,000 new classrooms, more than the three previous administrations combined.
· We supported one in every two private high school students- a total of 1.2 million students- with the GASTPE financial voucher program.
· In 2009 alone, we doubled TESDA’s budget.

For the long term, key recommendations were also submitted by the educational task force I created in 2007- comprising representatives from the major educational and private sector bodies under the leadership of former Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres- In order to fashion a new educational roadmap with special attention to the needs of the youth and our growing knowledge- driven industries.

The task force report is the only document I personally handed to President aquino, wen we were together in the car being driven to his inauguration last year. Unfortunately that report seems to have landed in his circular file, making our schoolchildren yet another casualty of the ongoing vilification being waged against me.

I’m now saddened by news reports that the administration has been under- funding state colleges and universities without offering alternatives to the more than ten percent of our student population who attend these institutions.

I’m now saddened by news reports that the administration has been under-funding state colleges and universities without offering alternatives to the more than ten percent of our student population who attend these institutions.

Moreover, to my knowledge, any major educational, reforms implemented by this administration have been limited only to adding another two years to basic education. I do not know how sound this is, or how widely supported among education professionals.

The poor

I often said during my administration that we need to continue translating our economic and fiscal achievements into real benefits for the people. We must continue to invest in what I like to call the three “E’s” of the Economy, Environment and Education. These include such pro-poor programs as enhancing access to healthcare, food, housing and education, as well as job creation. They are central to lifting our nation up.

Over the past decade- fuelled by the windfall from our midterm fiscal reforms- I initiated or expanded a raft of social programs for the poor. We increased PhilHealth insurance coverage, set up nearly 16,000 Botika ng Barangay outlets to deliver affordable medicines to the poor, ordered the drug companies by law to reduce their prices, energized 98.9 percent of our barangays, provided water service to 70 percent of previously waterless municipalities, And of course, we also introduced “Four P’s”, the highly successful conditional cash transfer program aimed at encouraging positive behavior among the poor in exchange for cash assistance.

But perhaps more than our social services, what the poor benefited the most from was the low inflation and the low unemployment we made possible through effective management of the economy. Despite the global food and oil price spikes of 2008, domestic inflation slowly declined on my watch, bottoming out at 3.9 percent by the time I stepped down in June 2010. And unemployment, which had peaked at nearly 14 percent under President Estrada, was averaging only around 7.5 percent toward the end of my term in office.

The problems of the poor are serious indeed, and they deserve serious thinking and serious solutions- not empty slogans, not the bloating of the cash transfer program for patently political ends, and certainly not the inability of this administration to keep the price of rice affordable or create more jobs by continuing the growth agenda. The moment that agenda is compromised, it is the poor who will feel first and the hardest the dire consequences.

The environment

No nation can aspire to become modern without protecting its environment.

On my watch as President, the country’s forest cover increased from 5.39 million hectares in 2001 to 7.17 million hectares by 2009. And we registered 40 projects abroad to reduce greenhouse gases- the sixth largest number of such projects among all countries.

I also signed a large number of laws to codify environmental protection- including new legislation to promote Ecological Solid waste Management, Wildlife Resource Conservation and Protection, Clean Water, and Biofuels. And I tried to set the example for our countrymen by dedicating every Friday to environmental concerns.

I created the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change in 2007, which was later enhanced into the Climate Change Commission under the Climate Change Act of 2009. Under the law, the Chief Executive chairs this Commission, just one of only a few bodies headed by the highest official of the land. And yet President Aquino to date has not convened the Commission even once. The country can ill afford his lack of interest in this matter, now that climate change is causing calamities at the most unexpected times and places, such as the December typhoon floods in Cagayan De Oro and my home town of Iligan City.

Presidential drudgery

As my father the late President Diosdado Macapagal, used to say: “ The Presidency of the Philippines is a tough and killing job that demands a sense of sacrifice.” At the end of the day, it comes down to plain hard work A president must work harder than everyone else. And no matter what he thinks he was elected to do- even if that includes running after alleged offenders in the past- he must not neglect the bread and butter issues that preoccupy most of our people time: keeping prices down, creating more jobs, providing basic services, securing the peace, pursuing the high economic growth that is the only way to vault our country into the ranks of developed economies.

Good management begins with planning ahead, not pointing fingers and blaming others after the fact. It means spelling out your vision quickly and clearly so your team grasps their mission at once and immediately starts to execute it.

Unfortunately, planning and preparation seem to be absent from this administration, whether it’s for taking OFWs out of harm’s way on a short notice, or evacuating flood victims- or rescuing foreign tourist held hostage by a crazed gunman. By comparison to that incident against me that I had to put down by force. There is no secret behind this: it all boiled down to endless preparations against any crisis, implemented with hands-on leadership from the very top.

Once the plan is in place, the leader must proceed to hands on execution. There is no room for absenteeism, nor for coming to work late and leaving early. There is simply not enough that can be done if the Cabinet meets only four times in an entire year.

The last major task for good management is to exercise control without fear or favor. This was the principle I was following when I brought AFP controller General Garcia up on charges in 2005, and cancelled the NBI/ZTE deal in 2007.

These days- alas- there is absolutely no fear in the administration when they’re running after me or my allies. But there is definitely a lot of favor involved when they excuse- and even defend- their friends even from misdeeds committed in full view of the public.

This is not the kind of ethics that should be practiced by one who claims to have a genuine reform agenda. Neither will it attract capital from investors who desire regularity and a level playing field. Nor do our people deserve to be consigned to economic stagnation, government lethargy, and nobody- home leadership.

Neither the President nor anyone else can truly expect to govern the next five years with nothing but a sorry mix of vilification, periodically recycled promises of action followed by lethargy, backed up by few if any results, and presumptuously encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested. Given the electoral mandate that he enjoyed in 2010- the same size as mine in 2004, as predicted by every survey organization at that time- our people deserve more, and better, from him.

Pics from the event:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Misconception in construction

The first topic I have in mind for this first week of the year is about Misconception. A lot of people are making a lot of mistakes because of this. As the owner of Andrew Grace Homebuilders and as a project engineer, I came to face the disadvantages of cracks in the construction industry. So for me, to have a detailed understanding and knowledge about this, this is what I did for my Thesis under Masters in Management Major in Engineering Management.

Hairline crack is common to all concrete walls. This is due to the ratio and proportion of water content, type of cement used, change in temperature, thickness of the concrete mortar and movements of the earth. Concrete wall hairline crack is not a structural defect, nobody could stop the natural movement of the earth. Unless it is a see through crack where you could see the outside from the inside of the wall.

Another client misconception in building construction is the cause of the paint bubbles in the wall or ceiling. When I attended a seminar from Boysen Philippines, I’ve learned the correct process. The homeowners thought that bubbles are from the low quality of paints used. Actually, it is the result of improper procedure. The painter must know that there is a certain period for curing of the concrete in a plastered wall. Usually it would take 14 days before the concrete plastered wall to be neutralized with a chemical. After the application of the chemical, another 14 days must pass for the application of the first paint coating. The bubbles is the result of the water content of the mortar, if the concrete plastered still have a water content and painted already, the water will push the paint that could result to bubbles.

Misconception is an opinion, false idea, mistaken belief, wrong impression or delusion. When we say opinion, it’s personal view. It is ones own perception that could be resolved by communication, asking question or research. It is a wrong judgment because of the insufficient or incomplete knowledge.

As a contractor, I build residential house, renovate buildings, coordinated the paint colors, doing the interior designs, check the electrical and plumbing if they are in accordance with the set of building plans, purchase and deliver the materials needed in the project and everything that anyone could do in construction, even landscaping. Another common misconception of a client is that they thought all contractors are only for the licensed Civil Engineers.

In all parts of the world and in this business, everyone could be a contractor. A contractor is the one overseeing the whole project; they are hired to give service even with the help of different sub contractors to finish the project and usually the contractor is the project engineer or project manager.

From wikipedia, “A contractor must first assess the project-specific documents (referred to as tender documents). In the case of renovations, a site visit is required to get a better understanding of the project. The contractor will then calculate a price, also called an estimate. The contractor considers the cost of materials and equipment as well as the cost of labor to provide the owner with an approximate price for the project.
Contract documents include a budget, any general and special conditions, and blueprints and specifications prepared by a design professional such as an architect. In many instances the general contractor is the project engineer or project manager for construction projects.
A general contractor is responsible for providing all of the material, labor, equipment (engineering vehicles and tools) and services necessary for the construction of the project. The general contractor hires specialized subcontractors to perform all or portions of the construction work.
Responsibilities may include applying for building permits, securing the property, providing temporary utilities on site, managing personnel on site, providing site surveying and engineering, disposing of or recycling construction waste, monitoring schedules and cash flows, and maintaining accurate records.”- Wikipedia


1. A constructor should be fair and honest in his business dealings, his practices and activities guided by principles of justice and equity.

2. A constructor should conduct himself with honor and dignity in his relations with his fellow constructors, fully aware that to speak maliciously of the work reputation or ability of a fellow constructor is highly unethical, and should cooperate with them for the protection and advancement of the construction industry

3. A constructor should carry his construction contracting on a high ethical level and deliver quality service and faithful performance of the undertaking to which owner-clients are entitled.

4. A constructor should not advertise his firm’s business in misleading terms and false representations, which is not only improper but also immoral.

5. A constructor should refrain from unfair competition, which is a disservice to the construction industry.

6. A constructor should be fair and just to his employees, considering their welfare with sympathy and understanding.

7. A constructor should not attempt to supplant a fellow constructor who is in the employ or to prevent a constructor from undertaking that which the owner has engaged him to do, as it is a practice inconsistent with the honor and dignity of the construction industry.

8. A constructor should hold himself dedicated to the proposition that the construction industry should be rid of participants whose reputation.