Sabado, Nobyembre 16, 2013

How Filipino Public Officials Steal


A District Engineer of the Department of Public Works & Highway (where private contractors could be seen kissin' his ass too, just like the ingratiation they do to members of congress) who oversees two congressional districts, told me that the heads of national agencies (National Irrigation Administration, DPWH, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Agriculture) ask first the concurrence of the district congressman if he/she allows an infrastructure project funded by the central office in Manila to be realigned and eventually constructed by private contractors in his/her area.
 "Pag ayaw ng congressman, ililipat lang iyong project sa ibang bayan, siyudad, o district ng departamento o agency".
 This scenario only shows that without the dreaded pork, a congress person can still dip his/her finger on the cookie jar that gives him/her the much desired SOP.

Here’s what a private contractor told me how lucrative the construction business in screwing the government:
 “Iyong isang government project namin na worth P20 million plus tumubo kami ng P7 million plus. Binigyan namin ang engineer doon na nagpasok ng kontrata ng P3 million.” 
My source said he has to give percentages from the total worth of the contract from the National Irrigation Administration to different individuals so he could get the contract and earn a windfall.
 “10% congressman, 10% mayor, 10% s implementing agency. Magulo kasi si mayor at congressman . Dapat kasi hati sila kaso suwapang pareho kaya parehong binibigyan.” 
He said I could quote him but to avoid the ire of his patrons I would not reveal his name.

 During the visit of Vice President Jojo Binay in Pangasinan recently (Geez, Yahoo's head line cries today "Where Binay was during anti-pork rally") with mayors in Pangasinan to distribute relief goods, I asked an elected official who is also a big time private contractor.
 "Mayor, pag tinangal totally ang Pork Barrel, baka wala ng trapo na pulitiko na tatakbo sa pagiging congressman sa 2016? 
He told me they would still run. "Kahit wala na iyong P70 million yearly PDAF, nakaka porma pa rin sila sa national projects (like tens of millions of pesos of roads, buildings, etc) na bini-bidding sa DPWH (Department of Public Works & Highway) sa area nila. In short, the same favored contractors will play moro-moro with the bidding process so they can give the palatable kickback in a silver platter to the solon.

 Don't you know that recent Philippine official visitor US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was a Sergeant in the Vietnam War, before he became a U.S Senator?
According to Wikepidia: Hagel volunteered to join the United States Army during the Vietnam War, rejecting a draft board recommendation that he go to college instead. He served in the United States Army infantry in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. Holding the rank of Sergeant (E-5), he served as an infantry squad leader in the 9th Infantry Division. Hagel served in the same infantry squad as his younger brother Tom, and they are believed to be the only American siblings to do so during the Vietnam War. They also ended up saving each other's lives on separate occasions. While serving during the war, he received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

 Watching early today the live U.S Senate foreign relation committee hearing at CNN (Cable News Network, not Camarines News Network, stupid!).
 Geez, can you imagine a Philippine Cabinet Secretary turning the table against the hubris of a Philippine Senator?
 U.S Foreign Secretary John Kerry ( a Vietnam Vet, and former veteran U.S Senator) give the young Senator Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky) a comeuppance by asking him instead if U.S will not inflict punitive action (e.g Tomahawks and bunker buster bombs turning to smithereens military establishments and armaments hidden underground- MCO) against Syria, would he think President Bashar al- Assad not gas again his people?
Geez man, the young senator just drank a glass of water before he answered the unexpected.
 I could just remember the rock song we used to sing in high school over bottles of Tanduay Rhum:
"They answered my questions with questions" from the song "Question" by Alfred Mann.
 The lesson political spectators can learn on the Kerry-Paul engagement (you can accessed the text and the video where Kerry lectured the "school boy" Rand at  was verbal embellishment on the part of the latter could be deceptive.
Even thought he confidently cited James Madison (father of the U.S Constitution) with those carefully crafted arguments that probably could shame  Philippines' self-styled constitutional columnist Father Joaquin Bernas“ that the executive is the branch most likely to go to war and therefore the constitution vested that power in the Congress. It is explicit throughout all of Madison's writings. This power is a Congressional power and it is not an executive power. They didn't say big war, small war. They didn't say boots on the ground, not boots on the ground. They said declare war.”
 Geez man, they were not enough to find him on the receiving end when Senator Kerry refuted the rising star of the Republican Party with that common sense debilitating question.
Was it then police chief Panfilo “Ping” Lacson derisively ridiculed former National Bureau of Investigation Chief Reynaldo Wycoco (a non lawyer in a lawyers' territory's agency);
“It’s not form, it's on substance” as dig to the well groomed Wycoco who has the propensity to dress up despite his incompetence to run the bureau?
The Kerry’s rebuttal was more on substance and a knockout punch.
It was like George Foreman, who absorbed all the volley of punches and showboating of Michael Moorer in  a world heavy weigh championship in November 1994, until he unleashed his right knockout money punch at the chin of Moorer that brought him to dreamland in the 10th Round.
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China, Ph urge resort to Bilateral Talks on Disputed Islands


Mainland China's Aircraft Carrier

Is former five-time Speaker Jose de Venecia vindicated about his  proposed formula that to solve the brewing conflict between China and the Philippines in their claims in the South China Sea (SCS) the duo should engage in a bilateral talk for a joint exploration of the territorial dispute between the two countries on the SCS?
Many of us do not know our two neighbors Vietnam and Brunei Darusallam that claim too, some islets and water of the SCS, have been talking since last year with Mainland China.

Vietnam, where the Chinese sunk four of her warships if not damaged them and killed 53 of her soldiers in the battle of Paracel Islands in January 19, 1974has been nearing a bilateral agreement with China.
According to news report they will establish a bilateral working group to discuss joint maritime development, a move analyst said is a “breakthrough” for the neighbors to peacefully handle disputes.
The working group began its discussion in May last year on a joint development in the water outside the mouth of Beibu Gulf.
The two countries will establish two other working groups regarding infrastructure and financial cooperation according to Premier Li Keqiang and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung who told reporters at a news conference after their talks last Sunday in Beijing.
According to Asia News NetworkMCT, the three working groups send a positive signal of the bilateral readiness in solving difficult problems through cooperation in the area that has been considered by the Philippine and its patron the United States as flash point.

Meeting Speaker de Venecia in Dagupan City
When I stumbled recently with Speaker de Venecia at the “100 Days Report” of Mayor Belen Fernandez at the Stadia, I asked him about his take on China building a concrete barriers at the Scarborough Shoals which is just near Zambales Peninsula.
“There is no physical evidence that they are putting barriers. These could be rocks. There are no confirmed statements from the Philippines armed forces or the Philippine government. I think they are all rocks. But I don’t know, “Speaker de Venecia, who just arrived from Azerbaijan as observer of the Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International that he heads explained to me.
In September 13, 2013 Defense News of the Gannet Company published that “Manila has expressed concern over the discovery of 75 squares concrete blocks found near the entrance of the Scarborough Shoal, which is within the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea but China has claimed as sovereign territory. Manila is accusing China of laying the foundation for a permanent facility in violation of international maritime law and ignoring Manila’s call for international arbitration for a peaceful resolution”.
The same news website said: “However, it is still unclear if the concrete blocks will be used to tether fishing boats or be used as the foundation of a facility, Thayer said.
Chinese Navy J-15 Flying Shark Jet
“First of all, I think we should not jump to conclusions,” said Ian Storey, a maritime specialist at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Despite claims by Manila, “this is not the typical pattern of Chinese construction,” which normally begins with “wooden structures on stilts; then octagonal wooden structures, and then a concrete fortification?”
“The photographs provided by Manila show what appears to be a “random pattern of concrete blocks scattered around the reef,” and it is “not immediately obvious that these blocks can or will be used as the foundations for a Chinese structure.”
“One school of thoughts is that the blocks were dropped by Chinese fishermen and used to tie up their boats”
Speaker de Venecia told me what the Philippines and China would do is a comprehensive joint exploration of the disputed area
“That is when we need a joint fishery for us to prevent confrontation in the sea. Secondly, we need a joint exploration and joint development for the hydro carbon and gas so that both sides of claimants should benefit”.
Proposed partnership between China and the Philippines has precedence in Europe
The former five-time Speaker explained to me before at his coastal mansion in Dagupan City about his formula that was not new since it was tested already by Great Britain, Germany, and Norway when I asked  him of a precedence of this partnership formula in my 2011 meeting with him. Excerpts of that conversation:
Mortz C. Ortigoza (MCO): Is there a precedent model of your consortium’s formula?
Jose de Venecia (JDV): Just like that in the North Sea after World War II, England is here (as he lifted the empty coffee cup and the sandwich of the interviewee to put on the other parts of the table to emphasize his point). This is England; the oil field is here in Ecofisk in the North Sea. They took a median line partition so the oil flows to Stavanger in Norway. The oil is in Teesside in England. And the natural gas goes to Crimea, German. I landed here in the Ecofisk which is above 20 stories high. The platforms from the sea, very stormy seas but (they were composed of) hundreds of oil wells! And siguro mga (Just like) several stories high buildings and platforms from the sea.
MCO: So nobody own these areas? The consortium owns them?

JDV: They have agreed. This part belongs to Norway! (Lifting again the sandwich and coffee cup of the interviewer by putting them to another part of the table to emphasize his point)This part belongs to England! This part belongs to Germany! In the meantime we jointly developed.
MCO: Is the North Sea’s model the only model the claimants in the Spratly’s can replicate?
JDV: Puwedi nating gawin ito( We can copy it). This is one model. The other model is that we will drill together and the profit we split. You see? So we shelve the issue of sovereignty. This is the formula that will solve the problems of China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Therefore that will solve the problem between China and Vietnam in the Paracel. This (in) the Spratly claim, Vietnam went to war over there a dozen years ago. This is the same formula that should be used because (by) Japan in Diaoyu Strait, what the Chinese call the Senkaku Strait. This is the third formula that could be used on the Sea of Japan and the East Sea, between Japan and South Korea.
Will U.S Block any Bilateral Talk between Ph and China?
Since his wife Congresswoman Maria Georgina de Venecia excitedly called him to come at the stage for pictorial with Mayor Fernandez and members of the city council, I failed to ask him about his take on the scheme of the Philippines and the United States government to build a mini-Subic at Oyster Bay in Palawan – a military strategical location where the Philippine government spent half a billion pesos already in building it because of its proximity to the disputed islets and water in Scarborough shoals and Spratly Islets.
In case the talks between China and Vietnam and China and Brunei bear fruits, would this give the United States goose bumps as the Philippines would emulate it especially with de Venecia at the sideline pressuring his country with reasons and precedence to follow suit?
 Would Uncle Sam pressure the Philippines too not to capitulate with the come-on of China (psst, the Sinos this year got a U.S $ 189.3 billion foreign aid for good will with other countries that want to have economic and political intercourse with her) and the insistence of Speaker Joe for bilateral talk by dangling more economic quotas in the huge U.S market or more military hand me down goodies just for the Flips to maintain its indispensable tactical alliance with her in the oil rich South China Sea?
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Ruckus created by Coal Plant connected to its P187 million debt?

Controversial Fish Cages in Sual, Pangasinan


Is somebody at the Sual Power Station (SPS) run by Team Energy (TE) making some leverage to the bid of the local government unit (LGU) of Sual, Pangasinan on its legal tax claim from SPS for the past three years by making a brouhaha on the 700 fish cages near the 1,218 Megawatts (MW) power plant?

In a recent press conference called by Mayor Roberto Arcinue and his son former mayor John Arcinue at the swanky multi million pesos municipal hall of the town (a “katas” from the business taxes the town earned from hosting the mammoth power provider), John said since 2011, his administration was already running after SPS for the more than a hundred of millions of pesos  business taxes SPS, the largest coal power plant in the Philippines failed to pay the town.
Comparison of Business Taxes
He compared the taxes SPS and Quezon Power Plant (QPP)in Mauban, Quezon Province pay to the LGUs that host the power plants:

SUAL POWER PLANT                QUEZON POWER PLANT                         DIFFERENCE
Capacity: 1,218 MW                      Capacity: 460 MW             
Year 2003  Paid:
P34,878,999.64                                P95,705,862.40                              P60,227,000.76
2012  Paid:
P35,147,278.68                                  P98,705,862.24                               P63,558,583.56
2011 paid:

P26, 533,577.76                               P90,050,308.83                                P63,516,731.07

 Corporation should pay business taxes to the LGU as cited by the
 Labrador, Pangasinan case
I cited to the former how fourth class town Labrador under then Mayor Ernesto Acain was awarded through garnishment by Trans Corporation of 101 million of pesos (the town is still collecting 208 million of pesos of back taxes) after he sued them at the Regional Trial Court in Lingayen, Pangasinan until the case was upheld by the Court of Appeals . (You can accessed the Labrador case at
Why I know this fact? Susmariosep, I painstakingly covered this development alone in Labrador where Mayor Acain was my gracious host since he saw my zeal in investigating the stand - off between a multi-million pesos corporation versus his dirt poor 4th class town.

The case in Labrador and Sual are similar. It revolves on the laws provided by the Local Government Code of 1991.
 Two examples of the Code’s provision are hereinafter provided:
Paragraph (e)Section 143 On contractors and other independent contractors, in accordance with the following schedule: With gross receipts for the preceding calendar year in the amount of 2,000,000 or more at a rate not exceeding fifty (50%) of one percent (1%). (h) On any business, not otherwise specified in the preceding paragraphs, which the Sanggunian Bayan (town council) concerned may deem proper to tax: Provided, that any business subject to the excise, value-added or percentage tax under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, the rate of tax shall not exceed two percent (2%) of gross sales or receipts of the preceding calendar year.

 Taxes can be paid in Manila
 Based on my hobnobs with top honchos of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the region, they told me that in terms of tax collection the revenue district officer, say in Calasiao, Pangasinan, could not do anything if a corporation is registered in other place ( say Manila) even if one of its branches is located at the tax district in Pangasinan.
 “But it is a different story with the business tax provided by the local government code,” I told the Arcinues.
 John wondered why Team Energy insisted that the company pays the 200 megawatt in Pasay when the Indonesian supplier of coal directly delivers it from Indonesia to the port of plant in Sual.

 ‘Irresponsible statement’
 Former Mayor Arcinue laughed at the argument of power plant’s manager Robert Licerio, whom he said started the brouhaha with his irresponsible statement in the national papers about the massive brownout nationwide the presence of the 700 plus fish cages will bring and the possibility they can be used as launching place of terrorists who want to sabotage the power plant.
 “Baka daw tirahin ng grenade launcher, RPG (rocket propel grenade) ang coal power plant dahil malapit lang ang fish cage sa power plant,” he said.
The former mayor said common sense dictates that a terrorist would rather hide in the mountain side and the grassy area near the plant than launch his dastardly act as he sat on the rocking boat at the fish cage areas. Mayor Arcinue, father of John, said the press releases and the news feed by Team Energy to the public were sweeping, alarming, and irresponsible.

 Far from water intake

“How can these milkfish (bangus)be sucked by the water intake of the power plant when the intake is a kilometer away from the Cabalitaan Bay where the 700 cages, which each contain 25 tons of milkfish are located,” he stressed.
 The young Arcinue said there are numbers of huge nets that block the water intake to prevent even jelly fish that is composed of water to penetrate.

 P7 Million taxes a year
 He continued that the fish cages are a major source of revenue since every owner of the fish cage pays P10 thousand a year business tax per cage and another tax of P2.50 per banera (tub) of the fish sold in the market. “Mga P7.2 million a year ang kinikita ng municipio diyan plus (they) hire 1000 direct employees and the 3000 individuals who benefit for the indirect jobs from the bangus industry there.”
 In case the fish cages would be banned in the Cabalitaan Bay, the price of milkfish in Metro Manila would increase.
 He suggested if Team Energy wants to get rid of the cages, that have been regulated by municipal ordinances, Department of Environment & Natural Resources, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource, it should pay as rent the amount the town gets from the owners of fish cages and give jobs to the 1000 direct workers who would be dislocated.

 National threat tale a leverage? 
 Arcinue said he suspected that Team Energy wants to divert the issue because it wants a compromise agreement on the P187,302,300 back taxes (See? I told you earlier that this thing would be coming since business taxes as mandated by the LGC of 1991 should be paid at the situs (place) where the corporation is located) withheld since 2011 to the town.
Presently Team Energy and LGU Sual are into a legal battle on these tax claims

 TE Apologizes on the Ruckus 
Recently, the management of the Team Energy in Manila apologizes for the brouhaha created by Lucero when he called some media men to take potshots at the fish cages without concrete basis. “He was only misquoted,” said by Chief Executive Federico Puno in a TV interview.

 Sual Power Plant's environmental violations
 Meanwhile, Mabilay Danum Farmers Irrigator’s Association in Sual under my friend and Liberal Party stalwart in Sual former vice mayor Alexander Rigonan (the kopya mate, er, seat mate at journalism class of veteran local media man Ruel Camba) furnished me a letter complaint against SPP he sent to Mayor Arcinue. Here are some excerpts of the letter:
 “Primordially, we ventilate our problems related to health and environmental hazards brought about the flow of waste materials to our rice fields and to the Logolog River system coming from the Ash Lagoon of the Sual Power Plant which have been affecting the environment in the vicinity, our livelihood and our health well-being. “Some of the Environmental Destruction and Health Hazards Observable in the Proximate Vicinities of Sual Power Plant
 1. Ash fall is evident as seen on the rooftops of houses and other buildings. 2. The emissions of the Sual Power Plant’s chimney are clear during the day but dark, black smoke emits at night time. 3. The Logolog River in the northern part of Barangay Pangascasan and southern part of Baybay Sur is already heavily silted. One can cross the river by just wading during low tide. 4. Mango and other fruit-bearing trees did not full bloom unlike those days when there was still no power plant in the place. Low mango production has been a bane to fruit trees growers. 5. Rice field soil near the Logolog River banks begin to harden because of ash deposits thus affecting tilling of soil, resulting in lower rice production. 6. There have been reported cases of wilting of vegetable leaves and strange rice plant diseases. 7. The water in the Logolog water impoundment which is used to be clean and a “bathing place” now give itch and pollution to users. 8. Marine life in Logolog Rive and Pao Bay is now scarce and affected. 9. Erosion in the mountainsides and on the river banks caused by overflow of too much volume of water coming from the Ash Lagoon and other tributaries of the Logolog River is very evident. 10. More people are now experiencing respiratory ailments than before when there was no power plant in the place.”

 Team Energy should act on those grievances
 Susmariosep, Team Energy should act pronto by rebutting those allegations and in case it finds itself at fault, it should expedite the rehabilitation of the damaged areas. Sige kayo, Green Peace, other international and local environment groups who learn the environmental degradations there will be coming like crazy at your expense.